A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 9)

Purr-fect Cat Birthday Party

Birthday party themes are a big deal in our family.  As each year rolls around, there always seems to be a new favorite animal, superhero or fantasy figure that creeps into our world.  It is only fitting that this new love, whatever it may be, becomes the theme for that year’s celebration.  This year, Addi chose to have a purr-fect cat birthday party!

Party Dress ~

Of course, it wouldn’t be a purr-fect birthday party without a purr-fect dress!  Am I right?  Lauren ordered this adorable set from Etsy.  It was the perfect party outfit from hairbow to skirt!   She was so excited to wear it for her party…check out everything Sweet Sophia Designs has to offer below:

Sweet Sophia Designs has such adorable birthday sets! Check them out with this link!

Pre-Party Planning ~

There was quite a bit of planning ahead for this fun event.  We enjoy crafting so the time spent for these preparations was a lot of fun.  It started with collecting family cat pictures.  Lauren wanted the party to be personalized with all of the cats in Addi’s life…what a fun idea!

Cat Banner ~

Once pictures were decided upon, they were pulled up in Canva to be sized and printed.  Canva is so good for this as you can also “flip” the photo so that your front and back match up perfectly, thus making your banner viewable from both sides.  *If you are putting this against a wall, however, you will only need to print one side of each image.

The cat faces (and Addi with her kitten) were printed in black and white and then adorned with party hats from the color scheme Lauren and Addi chose.  This is where having lots of random items and paper scraps comes in handy.  We used various items to decorate the hats.  There is no rule here…let your creativity flow!

They were then strung on twine to create a banner.

Pet Adoption Certificates ~

Cat adoption certificates were also made with Canva.  Everything we made was created with the free options.  If you have not yet tried Canva, you need to!  It is such an amazing online software program.  They, of course, have even more options if you choose to pay for it, but seriously, you can do SO much with the free version!

Pet Adoption Houses ~

Pet adoption houses were made from goodie boxes purchased from Amazon.  Lauren chose the ones highlighted below and then cut a circle out for each pet to be placed in the box.   She then added other goodies in the box and topped it off with tissue paper.  What a perfect combination of craft and goody box wrapped into one!

You want to be sure that the dimensions of the box are big enough for the size of kitties you purchase.  I know this sounds silly to even mention, but how many times have you gotten caught (and frustrated) when sizes are different than what you assumed?!?

Pet adoption houses were made from goodie boxes from Amazon…check them out here!

Gummy Mice ~

These were one of the cutest and most talked about goodies included in the box.  What cat does not like mice…and what child does not love gummy candies?   Of course, Lauren searched and found the perfect gummy mice!

Get your own yummy (and slightly creeping looking) gummy mice here!

Canva once again came into play as we put several mice in little zipped baggies (also purchased on Amazon) and then created the fun label topper to staple to the top.  These were small enough that we could fit 6 labels to a page and then cut out and fold over each bag.

Adopt A Kitten Backdrop & Craft Table ~

The Adopt A Kitten Banner was made from scrapbook paper.   Stencils were used to create the letters in various color schemes of paper.  They were cut out and then glued to black scrapbook paper.  We then cut the black stencil a little larger to create a border.  This created a sturdy banner that also had a bit of dimension to stand out more.

A real cat scratch post was used to display the houses.  With this she was able to create height and make more room for the children to design their own adoption boxes.  A lazy susan sits in the center of the table with colored pencils, markers and stickers for the kids to craft with.   Yarn balls were made by wrapping different colors of yarn around decorative balls, styrofoam balls and ping pong balls.  (The ones made from ping pong balls were included in the cat boxes as a kitten toy.)

Cat Photograph Collage and Balloon Form ~

If you are like our family, you have an abundance of fur baby photos.  These were put to use for the party to create a cat photo collage banner.  The photos were strung up by the birthday presents.  The awesome 4′ mosaic number form helped to create a purr-fect backdrop for photos taken while opening presents.

Order your own mosaic number and letter forms right here!

Birthday Cake & Cookies ~

The amazinging purr-fect cake and cookies were ordered from Becky’s Cakes N Caboodles.  She is a true artist at work!  Whether you want the latest popular theme or something more personalized, she delivers!  Lauren sent her pictures of all of our cats and she got to work on these gorgeous cookies!

From different cat faces to colorful yarn balls, they were almost too pretty to eat!  But don’t believe for one minute that they didn’t get devoured!  Click here to see more of her amazing creations!!!

Cat-Themed Party Food ~

It is so much fun to get creative with food, and this party was no different.  From cheese mice on crackers to cat faced taco rings, there was something “catlike” everywhere you looked!

Cheese Mice on Crackers ~

Cut your favorite block of cheese into small triangles.  Make ears on the mouse face by cutting a slit on each side of the cheese and placing mini pepperonis in the cuts.  Place on a Ritz cracker.

Seven Layer Dip in Cat Cup ~

We drew cat faces on each cup with permanent markers.  Do this with plenty of time for it to dry so you don’t smudge when you put the dip in.   Layer the seven layers of dip in each cup.  Top with tortilla chips (We used strips as they fit in nicely).

  1. 2 cans bean dip
  2. Guacamole
  3. Mix 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup real mayonnaise & 1 package taco seasoning
  4. 2 cans chopped, pitted black olives
  5. 2 cups chopped onions
  6. 2 cups shredded cheese
“Cat” Taco Ring ~

We did the traditional taco ring, however, we added extra crescent dough for the ears and nose.  Once it was done cooking, we added chives for the whiskers and cherry tomatoes for the eyes.

Adult Side of the Party ~

Want to add a little wine for the adults…look at this fun new wine chiller.  Lauren made tiny yarn balls and froze them in the ice form….so pretty and festive!  I can only imagine all the fun that will be had with this Wine Chiller mold….the ideas are running crazy already…get yours here!

Suffice it to say, this party was an absolute hit.  Kids and adults alike had so much fun that the fun continued on for hours.  Be sure to share pictures in the comments below of your Purr-fect Cat Birthday Party!

Enjoy!

Mimi

Guys! I Made a Cookbook…And You Can Too!

You heard me….little ole me made a cookbook!  I am so excited!!!   What’s even better is that it was so fun and easy to do with FamilyCookbookProject.com.  My mind is now racing with so many great ideas for gift giving, fund raisers, church or family projects, or even for the neighborhood.   Now, I keep walking around the house saying, “I made a cookbook!”   What’s even better is that you can too!

This cookbook is a compilation of recipes I have blogged about.  As a bonus, there are a few extra recipes that have yet to be added to my blog.   You will be able to save it to your computer and print out recipes as needed…or you can print the whole book.

The Family Cookbook Project ~

In a nutshell, this is a software program that lets you bring your recipes to life in a shareable form through print or save online.  I have been truly amazed at just how easy it was to put this together.  Now we have a keepsake of the beginning of our recipe blogging journey.  I have no doubt that there will be much more time spent on creating a much more indepth Pappy on the Penarve Cookbook – Version 2!

What about you?  Have you considered putting a cookbook together with all of your family favorites?  Are there treasured recipes that have been passed down through the generations?  Maybe there have been some church potlucks that everyone brings copies to share of the recipe they made.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to hop online and let each of those people type in their famous recipes?  That’s right…you can set this up so that each person can be considered a “contributor.”

How It Works ~

  1. Create an account.
  2. Give your cookbook a title (that can be changed anytime throughout the process)
  3. Invite friends and family to contribute – optional!  You can also create the recipes by yourself.
  4. Follow along with the simple layout to enter your recipes…you can even copy and paste or import if you have them saved somewhere else on your computer.
  5. Select your cover, dividers and layouts to your personal preference.
  6. The table of contents, recipe index and list of contributors (optional) is automatically created for you.
  7. Order your cookbook.  They have a calculator to make the final setup and purchase process so easy.
  8. You can go back and add recipes to your online version at any point.

 

 

 

 

*Sample of Family Cookbook Project final copy

 

 

 

 

Have You Ever Misplaced a Special Recipe? ~

Isn’t this the worst?!?!  Ugh!  If only I had a nickel for every time I went frantically searching for that special recipe!  Another problem I encounter quite often…does your recipe card look like it’s been to h*ll and back?  Stains and tears all over it.  I always say you can tell those are the most loved!  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to have them in a nice little cookbook (luckily you can choose to have any pages/covers you want laminated!)

Maybe you are not as scatter brained as I am and your recipes are already nicely organized.  (Oh, how I try to be that person!)  This is still such a timeless treasure to create and gift to others!

Better yet, maybe you have some very special recipes you won’t share because they become even more special when you bring them to the party!  I have a VERY loved sister-in-law that does just this!  We give her grief over it all the time.  I’m thinking this would be such a great idea to make and have back for gifts when the right time comes along!  (You know who you are sweet See the source image…you know I love ya!)

Dedication Page ~

Below is the picture and dedication words I chose for Pappy on the Penarve.  It’s been so much fun deciding how I wanted to display everything from the pictures to the wording…

Welcome to Pappy on the Penarve! The love of family is our number one priority. We have discovered that good food keeps family members coming back for more. Thus we are lucky to have lots of family gatherings!

This is our first edition of a compilation of recipes we have shared on Mimiblog.org (plus a few bonus extras!). Our hope is that you and your family and friends will enjoy these wonderful recipes as much as us.

The main focus is on Pappy’s amazing grilling with a few appetizers, appetizers/sides and desserts to compliment the savory dishes that come off of Pappy’s magical grill!

Enjoy!

We dedicate this first edition to Lauren, Karleigh and Eli…our amazing children and all who are a part of their world!

*********

To see the above picture and dedication in book layout is a dream come true for me!  As stated earlier, you get to create the cover and dividers, choose from multiple recipe layouts, add your own dedication and introduction…the list goes on and on!

Drumroll Please ~

So without further adieu, I bring you the final version of Pappy on the Penarve.  Click on the link below to view or to download and print a free copy yourself.  I will be making a laminated binder version for our family.  If you are interested in purchasing one, email me at mamashellatino@gmail.com and I will give you the details.

See the finished version of Pappy on the Penarve Cookbook here!!! Check it out!

Guys!  I Made a Cookbook…AND YOU CAN TOO!

Are you excited about getting started on your own personal cookbook?  I haven’t seen an easier way to create such a special family treasure!  Get started on your personal cookbook right here!

Happy Cooking!

Mimi (Shelly)

Hobo Foil Packet Dinners

If you grew up camping like I did, then you are no stranger to hobo foil packet dinners.  The thing I don’t understand though is why they were only considered a camping food back then.  Not only are these dinners simple and delicious, they can be cooked over the open fire, on the grill or in the oven!  How’s that for versatility?

Over the years, we have tried numerous types of packets.  In fact, one of our favorite family meals now is to lay out a variety of ingredients and let everyone make their own.  This ensures that everyone…even the pickiest of eaters…is happy with their own individual meal.  Once they are done eating, wrap that foil up and toss in the trash.

Recap…individual dinners made to each person’s taste, simple to cook various ways and easy to clean up…what are you waiting for?  (*Read on for the special ingredient we use!)

Ingredients ~

Basically, the sky is the limit for the ingredients.  However, I am going to list some ingredients that we have used.

  • hamburger – pattied up or crumbled
  • kielbasa – diced
  • shrimp
  • chicken – chunked
  • shaved beef
  • onions
  • potatoes – quartered
  • carrots
  • asparagus
  • peas
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • bell peppers – all colors
  • anaheim peppers
  • jalapenos
  • thick cut green beans
  • corn
  • capers
  • cheese – we use shredded and, of course, different varieties

As stated earlier, one thing that makes the hobo foil packet dinners so much fun is to offer several ingredients.  Choose from the list above or add some of your own favorites.  Put each of the ingredients in small bowls for everyone to choose from.  (*Still looking for that special ingredient?)

*Notice in this one, we used the shaved beef…delicious!

Assembling the Foil Packets ~

Do yourself a favor and invest in heavy duty foil.  This makes the cooking process go much smoother.  If you do not have heavy duty foil, then you will want to double up.  When doubling up, I prefer to cut two pieces of foil the same size and criss cross them (in the shape of a cross) before adding my ingredients.  This allows all sides of the packet to be closed up securely.

Spray the cut foil pieces with non-stick cooking spray before assembling.  NOW….are you ready for that special ingredient I alluded to earlier???  Condensed soup is the ticket to a fantastic hobo foil packet dinner.  The difference you will see with this addition is incredible!  We have used several varieties in our dinners.

  • Cream of Mushroom
  • Cream of Chicken
  • Cream of Celery
  • Cream of Asparagus
  • Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic
  • Cream of Chicken with Herbs
  • Cream of Onion

Obviously, we prefer to use the cream style soups.  I have heard there is also a cream of bacon and cream of shrimp.  We have never used these (I don’t believe I have ever seen them in the stores in our area), but I believe they would be fantastic as well.  Campbell’s Soup is our go to but obviously you can use the brand of your preference.  From all of the soups listed, I would have to say Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken are our top choices.

 Next Step ~

Once you have made your soup choice, slather 1 to 2 tablespoons across the bottom of the prepared foil pieces.  You are now ready to add your favorite ingredients.  Start with your favorite meat and then pile on your choice of  accompaniments.  There is no specific amounts to use, just create your masterpiece with enough room to fold it up securely.

Before closing, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion salt, dry onion soup mix or any seasoning you prefer and another dollop of the soup.

Be sure to completely cover all food when bringing the sides of the foil up and over.  There are several methods of folding the foil, just be sure to wrap it up securely.

*Pro Tip* – Write the names on top of each packet with a sharpie to be sure of which packet belongs to who to extinguish any later arguments!

Cooking the Hobo Foil Packet Dinners ~

Our preference for cooking is on the grill or over the open fire.  I absolutely love when Brad cooks them over the open fire.    These take about an hour, depending on the size of your packets.  (Somehow, ours always end up bigger than we intended!)  You will just need to be sure the meat is cooked completely through.  Grilling will take about 30 to 40 minutes.

Brad uses a cast irong camping tripod for so many different meals.  I’ve included a link to one, but it is a great idea to check out several to meet your individual needs.  As you can see, his also as a grate that attaches to it, which he uses often.  Check out firepit tripods here…Brad uses his for so many campfire recipes!

As stated earlier though, you can also do these in the oven.  With this method, place the packets on a baking sheet (just to catch any spillage that may leak out), and bake at 350℉ for 40 to 60 minutes.  When opening the packets to check if done, be careful as the heat pours out at first opening.

Cajun Style Hobo Foil Packet Dinner ~

This one has quickly become a family favorite.  This is one of the times  we do one large family packet instead of offering choices.  Most of the time we love to make our own spice blends, but we have decided why fix it if it isn’t broken…simply follow the recipe on the back of the McCormick Jazzy Tasty Seasoning packet.  I’m telling you, it is AMAZING!

Click Here to order McCormick Jazzy Tasty Seasoning and make your own Jazzy Shrimp Boil foil packets!

As always, I am including a link to order it for simplicity.  Sometimes I struggle finding this one…maybe everyone has has figured out this little secret too!  😉

Get creative with this fun cooking idea.  We have yet to serve hobo foil packet dinners where anyone was unhappy.  In fact, most people usually call us later to get the finer details so they can make them at home for their family and friends.

Happy Cooking~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Controversy

May 9, 2021 – The 107th Mother’s Day ~

Have there OFFICIALLY been 107 Mother’s Days?  There is some controversy over this date.  This, of course, led to some research on my part.  According to our history, 1914 is the the year that President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May to be a national holiday to honor mothers.  So I consider this fact to NOT be a Mother’s Day controversy…what do you think?

Other days celebrating “mothers” have been recognized before this.  Ann Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers’ Friendship Day to foster reconciliation between families of the North and the South after the Civil War.  She cared for wounded soldiers on both sides during the war and  felt strongly about bringing peace to all involved.  The first Mothers’ Friendship Day was held in 1865 and became an annual event for several years after that.  In fact, this is what inspired what we now know as Mother’s Day.

Sooo….Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914 BUT people realized long before then that mother’s deserved some respect…AM I RIGHT???

Hold up…did you catch the typos in the earlier paragraph???

Are you finding yourself stating, “Mimi needs to correct her grammar.”  Did you notice that darn apostrophe is in the wrong place…not once but TWICE in the opening paragraphs?  Well, it is indeed correct just how it is!  For all of you grammar nerds like me…Sorry!  In fact, this is what has become yet another Mother’s Day controversy.  Crazy right?  When the friendship days were first created, they were more of a celebration for soldiers and their moms in an effort to instill peace.  Therefore, it was not a day honoring individual moms, but instead moms as a whole with their sons.

I am actually sitting here stunned right now that in my mid 50’s I am just hearing of all of this.  I recently started researching Mother’s Day controversy stemming from posts I have seen on social media over the last few years.  None of which had anything to do with:

  • Who actually created Mother’s Day?
  • Where does that crazy apostrophe belong?
  • What is the right way to celebrate this wonderful holiday?
  • Is Mother’s Day too commercialized?

Personally, I have always found the biggest controversy to be finding how to share time with my mother, mother-in-law and my kids (obviously as their mother) all in the same day.  When I was a kid, we all lived so close to most of our family members making this process much easier.

The Move From Singular Possessive to Plural Possessive ~

The big move of that devilish apostrophe from Mothers’ Day to Mother‘s Day took place in 1908.  Anna Jarvis (daughter to above mentioned Ann Reeves Jarvis) held a memorial to honor her mother and all mothers.    This is technically the first official celebration of Mother’s Day.  After several years of this annual celebration, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill designating the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day.

The Controversy Continues ~

As the years progressed, Anna Jarvis became increasingly frustrated at how Mother’s Day was being celebrated.  According to Anna, the holiday was becoming too commercialized.  She spent the rest of her life trying to get the holiday removed from the national calendar.

It is so sad that such a special day is plagued with so much controversy.  However, we are not going to let this get in the way of showing moms all around the world how very much they are appreciated, right?  How you choose to celebrate is obviously up to you….simplistic or extravagant.  Keep in mind, the most important thing is just to convey love and thoughtfulness.  Let’s look at some fun ideas!

Mother’s Day Ideas ~

  • Brunch – Break out the china, pull out the tablecloths and add in some candles.  It can be matchy matchy or all mis-matched.  The idea is to bring together a fun meal with a special table setting.  And…don’t you dare let mom make that meal….come on it’s Mother’s Day!  If the children are small, let them make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with apple slices.  If it is an adult planning then maybe go a little more sophisticated.   Regardless of the menu, any mom is sure to appreciate the special attention!
  • Household Chores –  Every mom loves a break from house cleaning.  Whether you take it on the fly and just clean the morning of or you create a coupon book for mom with different duties, offering to help clean is something every mom loves!
  • Gardening and Flowers – We have spent several Mother’s Days once my children have gotten older with them helping me till the garden and plant the veggies and flowers.  I love the help and especially love the special time with the kiddos.  You can go a step further and purchase some of the garden goodies for her.
  • Free Day – From sunup to sundown, let mom just relax.  Does she love to lounge in bed or does she prefer time in the sun?  Know what she likes and make sure she is content there all day long with snacks, drinks, books and a cozy blanket.
  • Reading – Speaking of books, does she have a favorite author?  Is she on a reading social media site (like Good Reads) where she saves books she would like to read?  Look at that list and surprise her with one or two of her desired books.
  • Hiking – Is mom the outdoors type?  Plan a fun day of hiking and a picnic!
  • Casino Time – Maybe mom loves to gamble.  Offer to drive her to and from the closest casino.  As an extra bonus, add in a little extra cash for her to have fun with!  For heaven’s sakes, let her have fun!  This would be one of my mom’s favorite gifts for sure!
  • Shopping & Lunch – Need I really say more about how much fun this can be for both mom and daughter?
  • Home Made Cards – My children loved making their own cards when they were smaller.  What is important here is that you do this ahead of time so they have plenty of time to create the “perfect” card.  There is no card out there that can be purchased that is more personal than a hand made one!
  • Pet Spa – What mom wouldn’t love a break from bathing the family pet?  Either wash the pets for her or just help out…you may be surprised at how much fun you can have together.

There are truly so many ideas for this special day.  Personally, I love the gifts that are hand made or “time spent with my kids” gifts.

Also, there are some really unique ideas from Stampington & Company that you need to check out.  They have free projects, that do also include links to purchase any of the items you don’t already have.  Use the links in green below to find some really creative ideas.

This project is definitely the “Bee’s Knees” for a Mother’s Day Gift! Check it out here!  (ok, I really love this one because bees are my fave!)

You're The Bee's Knees— Mother's Day Tag & Charm Project

 

This Mother’s Day floral bouquet project is sure to be a hit…check it out!  One of the things I love most about this project is that they used holiday clearance items (like a Christmas tree form) to redefine their use.  It is so very creative.

A Mother€'s Day Floral Bouquet Project by Catherine Garmany

I can’t begin to tell you how much I LOVE these very special soldered ornaments. You MUST see these!  What is so wonderful about these is that you can use special sentiments OR you can use special photos!

Inspired by Mom Soldered Ornaments Project by Catherine Garmany

These are just a few of their unique crafting ideas.  Be sure to check out their website yourself here…Check out everything Stampington & Company has to offer here!!!  Be sure to peruse their website, but click on DIY Inspiration ➡ Free Projects➡ Search Bar (and type in Mother’s Day) for more great Mother’s Day crafting ideas.

I still haven’t figured out the more current Mother’s Day controversy of spending this awesome day with both my mother and my mother-in-law…but I will continue to work on that!  In the meantime, maybe this year will be difficult to figure out that dilemma after my kid’s see the current personal “spa day” I did on myself and my hair.  I’m thinking this year a day at my favorite hair salon may just be that perfect gift for me…*HINT HINT*

P.S.  Are you wondering about the woman in the cover pic?  That’s my mom….she’s as cool now as she was when I was a kid!

Much love ~

Mimi

Pita Bread Stuffed Grilled Cheese

Scoop it, dip it, stuff it…yep, I’m talking pita bread here!  What a fun and versatile bread.  My personal favorite is stuffing it with lots of goodies, so what could be better than some hot oozy cheese!  Pita bread stuffed grilled cheese…BLT (actually BST (spinach) and/or Caprese Style.  You have got to read on for this delightful recipe that can be made for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

BLT or Caprese Style? ~

We took it a step further and offered options.  I prepared all of the ingredients ahead of time and displayed on cutting boards and in bowls.  With this method, each person got to personalize their pita bread stuffed grilled cheese.  Of course, you do not have to always do it this way, but it is definitely a fun option.

BLT (BLS for Spinach) ~

Ingredients ~
  • Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Cheese – mozzarella, pepper jack, provolone – shredded
  • Spinach – chopped
  • Onions – diced
  • Tomatoes – chopped
  • Seasonings
    • Garlic powder/salt
    • Everything But the Bagel
    • Onion Powder
    • Italian Seasoning
  • Butter or Olive Oil
Directions ~
  1. Brown bacon and crumble once cooled.
  2. Chop spinach
  3. Dice onion
  4. Place all ingredients in separate dish or lay out on cutting board
  5. Have each person choose their ingredients and put in medium size bowl.  Stir until well blended.
  6. Slice pita bread so that it opens to a pocket.  *It is better to have ones that are NOT already split in the middle for easier grilling.
  7. Stuff pita bread filling to the back and moving forward until stuffed plump.
  8. Cover both sides of pita with butter or olive oil. *I buttered one side, added preferred spice and then placed on griddle.  I then buttered the other side while it was on the griddle.
  9. Cook until desired doneness and serve!
*Notice the small bowl to the right.  This is the bowl we used to mix the individual ingredient choices.

You can offer choices of condiments for dipping as well.  Options such as ranch dressing or sour cream pair well with the BLT pita bread stuffed grilled cheese.

Most of the family chose this style but DEFINITELY used different ingredients.  Max had bacon and mozzarella only with no spices. Uncle Eli stuffed his with bacon, onion, spinach, mozzarella balls and pepper jack cheese.  He then seasoned the outside with the Everything But The Bagel seasoning.    Lauren chose bacon, spinach, tomatoes, mozarella and pepper jack cheese and then seasoned with garlic.

As you can see, each person’s individual tastes took a big part in making these a success!

Caprese Style ~

Ingredients ~
  • Spinach – chopped
  • Mozarella balls
  • Mozarella – shredded
  • Fresh Basil – chopped
  • Tomatoes – chopped
  • Balsamic reduction
Directions ~
  1. Chop spinach.
  2. Chop fresh basil.
  3. Chop tomatoes.
  4. Slice pita bread so that it opens to a pocket.  *It is better to have ones that are NOT already split in the middle for easier grilling.
  5. Stuff pita bread filling to the back and moving forward until stuffed plump.
  6. Cover both sides of pita with butter or olive oil. *I buttered one side, added preferred spice and then placed on griddle.  I then buttered the other side while it was on the griddle.
  7. Cook until desired doneness and serve!

As you can see, the steps are the same.  Only the ingredients are different.  I drizzled mine with a balsamic reduction and it was FAB!  *I actually keep the Alessi brand of Balsamic Reduction on hand for many different recipes – delish!

I’m going to be honest here, we made these for dinner just last night!  The funny part is I made one again for brunch this morning!  I kid you not…I am obsessed!  They just add a different element from the traditional grilled cheese.

Now, I’m including links to some of the ingredients I mentioned.  You, of course, can get them at the store.  I am including these more for you to have a visual.

I seriously LOVE this sxxx…Alessi Balsamic Reduction! I have it in the fridge at all times.  In the summer, I love to throw together a quick spinach, mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil salad.  I also use it in a lot of appetizers!

If you have not yet tried Anything But the Bagel Seasoning, do yourself a favor and do so!  Try this test…pull up Pinterest, type in Anything But the Bagel Seasoning and look at the results.  One would think you would get a lot of results with just the seasoning…but NOOO…you get all kinds of recipes using the seasoning.  I’m telling you, this seasoning is awesome for so many things!

Did you love the cutting board in the pics as much as I do? Check out the link here for own charcuterie cutting/serving board!   This board is so versatile and fun!

 

 

Rum and Coke Mini Desserts

As a child, we had dessert every night after dinner.  Some were simple, like Jell-O with whipped cream while others were more intricate desserts.  I loved when mom made Coca Cola cake with chocolate fudgey icing.  It was so delicious!

However, I don’t remember mom adding those cute little rum bottles on top….hmmmm!?!  Well, it may not be a family dessert, but these rum and Coke mini desserts are definitely one to add to your entertaining menu!

I used a variety of glasses to make the presentation more exciting.  Get creative!  When I presented this fancy dessert, it definitely made a great impression.  Seriously, doesn’t this picture make you want to dig in?  If you answered yes, then hold on….because they aren’t even finished yet!

But first, check out some of these fun serving ideas…

Use some footed dessert bowls like these…

These are so beautiful with the scalloped edges…

Step 1 – Cake Ingredients ~

  • 1 Cup Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 Cup Cooking Oil
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Cocoa
  • 2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

Baking Directions ~

Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare a 9″ X 13″ cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine sugar, flour and salt in large mixing bowl and set aside.  In a saucepan, mix Coke, cooking oil, butter and cocoa.  Bring this mixture to a boil.  Pour the Coke mixture over the flour mixture and beat well.  Add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla and combine thoroughly.

Pour cake mixture into 9 X 13 pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  (Insert a toothpick to check for doneness)

*** TIP ~

Substitute vinegar and milk for buttermilk if you do not have buttermilk on hand.  Put 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar in measuring cup and then pour 1/2 cup milk on top of it.  Mix and let sit a minute.

*** TIP ~

If you do not want to make the cake from scratch, you can use a chocolate cake mix instead.  Use the following ingredients for this easier method:

  • 1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 Cup Coke

Mix thoroughly and bake for 25 minutes.  Insert toothpick to check for doneness.

Step 2 – Instructions After Baking ~

Whichever cake method you choose to use, let it cool completely after baking.  Set your desired serving dishes out for easier preparation.  Cut the cake into 1″ cubes and place 4 to 6 cubes into each glass, depending on the size of the serveware you are using.

Step 3 – Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients ~

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese – Softened
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter – Softened
  • 3 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 Tbsp. Rum
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • Caramel Syrup
  • Pinch Kosher Salt

Step 4 – Cream Cheese Frosting Directions ~

Beat cream cheese, buter and sugar in Kitchen Aid stand mixer or in large bowl with hand mixer until fluffy.  Add cream, rum, vanilla and salt.  Beat until a stiff peak forms.

Step 5 – Layering Frosting on Rum & Coke Mini Desserts ~

Place a heaping tablespoon or two (depending on size of serving dish) of cream cheese rum frosting on top of chocolate squares.  Repeat with another layer of chocolate squares and frosting.  *If you are making these yummy desserts ahead of time, place in refrigerator at this point.

Step 6 – Final Steps ~

Drizzle caramel syrup over top of each dessert and then top with mini bottle (1.7 ounces) of your favorite rum.  Please note, you may not want to use the entire bottle of rum if the glass is a smaller size (like martini glass pictured in this article).  If the rum is too excessive, it will overpower the delicious flavor of all the ingredients.  Therefore, I chose to keep the lid on the mini bottle and let each person add to their desired taste.

********************************************************************************************************************

*** NOTE ***

If you want to make you Coca Cola cake “family friendly,” top it with this fudgey icing instead:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 1/3 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 6 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cup powdered sugar

In a saucepan, cook butter, cocoa and milk until butter melts.  Add in remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly mixed.  Spread on cake.

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Don’t Forget to Save/Pin this Recipe!!!

I kid you not, this rum and Coke mini dessert recipe is one you want to add to your recipe favorites.  In fact, be sure to pin this on your Pinterest board as well for easy access!

 

Freshen Up Your Home!

Do you have a specific decor style?  I don’t!  That’s part of my problem….I love so many different styles!  I change my mind often because there are SO many beautiful things out there to decorate with.  Do you have the same problem?  Or are you content with your style but looking for some new piece(s) to freshen up your home?

I am LOVING this new website I recently discovered…Antique Farm House.  Not only do I love their products, but their website is so user friendly.  You can shop by room, sale event, department or style.  How’s that for helping you narrow things down quickly!  If you are thinking, “This post isn’t for me…I’m not an antique farm house girl,” think again!

Their style and shipping is similar to Decor Steals, which I posted about last year.  I have added several of their awesome pieces to my home and am in love with their products.  Be sure to look back at my earlier blog on home decor by clicking right here!!!  You need to pay attention to their shipping notes, which they clearly post…and remember…good things come to those who wait.  It is not an overnight shipping but it does come in a timely manner!

Mixing Decor Styles ~

I am not an interior designer, but I do love decorating!  Because of this, I read many articles (I also love reading 😉).  While I am sure some will disagree, there are many articles out there that state that some of the most beautiful and inviting homes actually mix different home decor styles.  There you have it….don’t be afraid to try new things!

If you are mixing design styles though, be sure to create unity between the different styles with things such as color or linking the two with various pieces of each.  You can also use a beautiful piece of wall art to help combine your interests.  Make your home cohesive and beautiful while still showing off your own individual personality.

When my daughters and I are shopping, we many times will state, “Oh, this piece looks like so and so,” (filling in the so and so with whoever comes to mind).  Have you ever found yourself doing this?  Does it make you wonder what people say when they slide your name into that slot?  Do you fall into any of the decorating styles listed below?

Rustic Decor ~

This has to currently be one of my favorite decorating styles.  Judging from what is out in stores, I believe there are many others who feel the same way.  Check out some of these fun ideas for new additions to your cozy home!

Create interest and depth in your decor by staggering heights.  These beautiful round display pedestals by Antique Farm House are made of metal & composite wood! They are perfect for creating different heights!  The versatility is amazing as well.  They can be used to display your delicious foods or for fun decor as shown in the picture.

Round Display Pedestal, 12 Inch Diameter

This wall canvas full of a variety of pots and vases in soft, natural colors coordinates effortlessly with many styles!

Pots and Plants Botanical Art

The next one is one of my current favorites….the ideas for this are endless.  What would you use this repurposed brick mold display rack for? What room could it add some extra charm to?

Repurposed Brick Mold Display Rack

***I would love to hear back from all of you on fun ideas you have to use for this beautiful piece?  Flowers, Jars, Office Supplies, Candles???  Share them in the comments below…please!

Shabby Chic Decor ~

Have you ever purchased a new lamp and been just amazed at how much of a difference it makes in a room?  I have searched high and low at times for that perfect lamp to freshen up my home.

Could any chandelier be more rustic and elegant at the same time???

Wood Beaded Chandelier

Maybe you are looking for more of a statement piece like this turquoise beaded chandelier! WOW!

Turquoise Beaded Chandelier

Nestle this adorable bunny fluffle lamp with that stylish drum shade into any arrangement!

Adorable Bunny Fluffle Lamp

This set of 2 square footed pedestal risers are a must for your decorating needs!

Square Footed Pedestal Risers, Set of 2

Vintage Decor ~

Display this weathered Found Wood Wall Decor with 3 Forged Hooks for many different uses: purses, kitchen towels, bath towels, coats, aprons…the ideas are endless!

Found Wood Wall Decor With 3 Forged Hooks

Beautiful and timeless Reclaimed Wood Candle Holders – Be sure to order different sizes for that perfect balance!

Reclaimed Wood Candle Holder

Farmhouse Decor ~

These Folk Art Crows Water Fountain just make me SMILE!

Folk Art Crows Water FountainThese are crows you don’t mind having in your yard!  They come with pump and spash screen AND the beaks open and close with the flow of the water!  How perfect is that!

This generously sized Acanthus Leaf Wall Decor Set can be used to bookend a display or side by side to display their rustic beauty!

Acanthus Leaf Wall Decor, Set of 2STUNNING!

Beautiful pillows like these Striped Lumbar Pillows are the perfect touch to cozy up any room!

Striped Lumbar Pillow With Tassels And what’s even better is that they have fun striped blankets to coordinate!

These gorgeous Wide Stripe Room Darkening Curtain Panels bring beauty and class to any room!

Wide Stripe Room Darkening Curtain Panel, Set of 2

This Rustic Round Dining Table is AMAZING!!!

Rustic Round Pedestal Dining Table

This Loloi II Grand Canyon Area Rug is sure to be the perfect focal point…and it comes in 3 sizes!

Loloi II Grand Canyon Collection Camel/Beige Area Rug

You KNEW I couldn’t pass up sharing this beauty….🥰

Dog In Sunglasses Tee Shirt

Let your personality SHINE with this gorgeous Upscale Animal Pring Rug!

Upscale Animal Print Rug

This set of 8 Decorative Wire Handled Seashell Spoons are the absolute perfect touch to coffee or tea with friends!

Decorative Wire Handled Seashell Spoons, Set of 8

French County ~

Create a peaceful display with this stylish Dried Lavender Bundle.

Dried Lavender Bundle

You can never have enough decorating easels..this 23″ Elegant Metal Plate Display is perfect for plates, pictures, books and much more!

Elegant Metal Plate Display, 23 Inch

This unique Keepsake Key Wall Art made of canvas and wood can add the finishing touch!

Keepsake Key Wall Art

This Dark Leaping Rabbit on Stand is sure to add springtime charm to any decorating grouping!

Dark Leaping Rabbit on Stand

Industrial Decor ~

OK…this is just AWESOME…am I right??? A whimisical sign to freshen up any room!

Ask Your Dad Sign

This Metal Bucket Divided Caddy can be used for silverware when entertaining, flowers to add a special touch to any area, or office supplies on your desk!

Metal Bucket Divided Caddy

This Dark Tiered Tray can be used in the kitchen, bathroom, lving room….

Dark Tiered Tray

LOVING this Wheeled Rustic Laundry Basket…think out of the box…it can be used for SO MUCH MORE than laundry…blankets, toys displayed nicely in family room, etc.

Wheeled Rustic Laundry Basket

Bedding ~

We CAN’T forget bedding!! From Classic Ticking Stripe…

Classic Ticking Stripe Bedding Set

To French Country Toile….

3 Piece Reversible French Country Toile Quilt Set

To Bohemian Strip Quilting…and everything in between!

3 Piece Bohemian Stripe Quilt Set

Whether you are preparing to redecorate an entire room,  just add a couple of fun new pieces, or buy a unique gift, you need to check out Antique Farm House to help freshen up your home!

Happy Shopping!

P.S. ~ *Don’t forget to share your fun ideas for the repurposed brick mold display rack!  Can’t wait to see everyone’s thoughts!

Mimi

Velvety Potato Leek Soup

What a tantalizing soup to serve with salad and a sandwich or just a crusty piece of bread!!!  Make it lunch or dinner….just MAKE it!   Blend the sweet delicate flavor of leeks with potatoes to create this creamy soup.  Velvety potato leek soup will quickly become a family favorite!

Have you cooked with leeks before?  They are a member of the onion family and look like a very large green onion.  Leeks add a mild yet sweet flavor to any dish.  You will, however, need to take time to clean them as dirt and grit get caught in the layers easily.  It is best to clean them by cutting off the end and then slice in half length-wise from root to top.  Pull the layers of the onions apart and run each under the water to clean thoroughly.

Velvety Potato Leek Soup Ingredients ~

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 2 Medium Leeks (sliced)
  • 1 Medium Onion (diced)
  • 3 Green Onions (diced)
  • 5 Russet Potatoes (peeled & sliced or cubed)
  • 32 Ounce Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic (minced)
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions ~

Melt stick of butter in stock pan. Add sliced leeks, green onions, garlic and onion to pan.  Saute over medium heat until vegetables are translucent (be careful not to brown).

Add potatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are softened (about 20-25 minutes depending on thickness of potatoes).

Using a food processor or immersion blender, blend about 3/4 of the soup until it is pureed.  *You can puree the whole batch, but I prefer to leave a small portion of it a bit chunky.  If you are using a food processor, ladel portions at a time to the processor depending upon the size of your processor bowl.

Return puree to pot and add heavy cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over low heat until heated through.

Garnishments ~

  • crumbled bacon, bacon and more bacon!!!
  • shredded gruyere, parmesan or cheese of your choice
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • chives
  • cracked black pepper

Notes ~

You can omit the heavy cream or substitute half and half for a more low-fat version of velvety potato leek soup.  The soup will still have a creamy texture to it as the pureeing process creates a creamy a nice cream consistency.

Slice or dice the potatoes to your preference.  Whichever method you choose, you will not want them to be real thick or it will take longer for the potatoes to soften while cooking.  The picture belows shows slices, but I actually prefer dicing the potatoes.  Small chunks of potatoes give a nice texture for that 1/4 of the soup I do not puree.

Don’t let the idea of pureeing turn you away.  This soup is super easy to make and is well worth that extra step.  I love my Ninja.  Get your Ninja Mega Kitchen System Here!

  • Includes: 1500-Watt Motor Base, 72-Oz. Total Crushing Pitcher, 8 Cup Food Processor Bowl, Dough Blade, (2) 16-Oz. Nutri Ninja Cups with To-Go-Lids

As mentioned earlier, you can also use an immersion blender instead.  Check out the immersion hand blender here!

  • Hand-held immersion blender for mixing soups, sauces, smoothies, and more

Both of these gadgets have numerous benefits, you only need to decide which one works best for you!  In fact, maybe you already have one of these.  MAYBE, you have it tucked away and haven’t used it in a while.  Do me a favor, get it out and use it for this amazing recipe!

Serve this luscious soup with a leafy green salad or a side of pasta salad.  Add  some crusty bread that is great for dipping for a hearty and cozy dinner.  What’s even better is that this fun idea is coming to you right before St. Patrick’s Day.  Afterall, it is also called Irish Potato Leek soup!  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking ~

Mimi (Shelly)

 

 

Pulled Pork Table Nachos

Do you want to WOW your guests?  This recipe is just the ticket for you!  Eli got creative in the kitchen using leftover smoked pork.  The end result was this fun dish of pulled pork table nachos that were simply out of this world!

What are table nachos?  Spread foil across the kitchen island or table and start creating.   See for yourself…

The chef at work building delicious pulled pork bbq table nachos!

Smoked Pork Shoulder/Butt ~

The first step to this awesome recipe is the smoked pork shoulder/butt.  Pappy smoked this the day before and we used the leftovers for the nachos.

Ingredients:

  • 12 to 15 pound pork shoulder butt
  • Tony Cachere’s creole seasoning
  • Stick of butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Melt butter and mix with 2 tablespoons creole seasoning.
  • Inject butter mixture all over the pork shoulder/butt.
  • Let marinate several hours or overnight.
  • Cut diagonal lines through the fat cap on top of pork shoulder/butt.  Next, season liberally with salt, pepper and more creole seasoning, being sure to get seasoning down in the cuts.

  • Smoke at 275 degrees until internal temperature of 195 degrees (about 12-14 hours) if your pork is 12 to 15 pounds.  Mix cherry and apple wood chips for a subtle fruit taste.
  • Remove meat from grill with about 2 hours left to cook and wrap entirely in foil.
  • When meat has reached desired doneness, remove foil and let sit 15 to 20 minutes before shredding.

Now Back to the Pulled Pork Table Nachos ~

Directions & Tips:

You can, of course, make these delicious nachos without having made your own smoked pork shoulder/butt on the grill.   Other options of shredded pork is purchasing already prepared pork or you can also make your own in the oven or crock pot.   Substituting chicken or beef on your nachos would be great as well!

  1.  Spread foil across the table or kitchen island…covering a large area.
  2. Layer the chips across the foil.  ***Pro Tip***- Eli used several types of chips which added a fun variation of flavors.  You can be creative and use your family favorites, but I do think a variation is key.  The chips we used were:

(I have included the link above for you to check them out, but if you have an off-price retailer near you such as Marshall’s, you  can find them there for much cheaper!)

  • Corn tortilla chips of your choice
  • Fritos Scoops

3.  Top the chips with the pulled pork.  Be sure to layer this heavily over the entirety of the chip spread.

4.  Squirt the desired amount of barbecue sauce over the pulled pork.  One of our family favorites is Sweet Ray’s, but obviously you can use your favorite brand.

 

5.  Layer 1 can each of black beans and whole kernel corn.

6.  Top with melted cheese.   We love to make our own nacho cheese sauce with Veleeta, Rotel and diced green chiles.  It’s a crowd pleasing dip that you can cook over the stove or make in a crockpot.  ***See that recipe below.

7.  Finalize your nachos with garnishments for everyone to choose as they desire.  You can put in small bowls placed around the chips or layer directly on the foil around the nachos.  Garnishment ideas:

  • jalapeno peppers
  • tomatoes
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • avocado slices
  • diced onions
  • black olives

Ring the dinner bell and let everyone graze!

Ingredients for Nacho Cheese Sauce ~

  • One 32-ounce package Original,  Mexican, or Quesos Blanco Velveeta Cheese

Velveeta Original Cheese

Velveeta Mexican Cheese

Velveeta Queso Blanco Cheese

  • Two 10-ounce cans of Rotel or One 14.5-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • One 4-ounce can green chiles

Cook over low heat while stirring often or add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low until melted.

Serving Options ~

It is always so much more fun to add festive tableware to any gathering.  I recently discovered Antique Farm House.  Their products are BEAUTIFUL!  I am loving these ideas…

Loving these stoneware pattern plates by Antique Farm House!

Mixing and matching the sizes and designs would be fun and festive!

 

Separate your condiment choices in this beautiful sectioned ceramic bowl by Antique Farm House

Use 2 or 3 long wood cutting boards from Antique Farm House to display your condiments and sauces!

While having great recipes is always key to any gathering, the finishing touches bring it all together for a memorable night.  Whether you are planning ahead for Cinco De Mayo or just doing Taco Tuesday, be sure to add these pulled pork table nachos to your next entertaining night!

Come back and tell me how your’s turned out!

Mimi (Shelly)

Tooth Fairy Fun

So your baby lost their first tooth?  (or getting ready to?)  This is a bittersweet moment for sure!!!  Usually there is a lot of hype leading up to the big event once the tooth gives it’s first wiggle.  Feelings of excitement and fear for the child.  Feelings of nostalgia for the parents.  Regardless of all the different emotions, it is time to dig in and decide on how your family will spread tooth fairy fun!

Of course, the first thought is to go with the traditional route of how the tooth fairy visited you when you were a child.  This is a perfect way to hand down family traditions.  Or maybe you have decided to switch it up a bit.  You’ve seen some fun new ideas you would like to try.   Whatever you decide to do, just remember that you have 19 more teeth to go!

This doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same thing with each tooth.  I’m only suggesting that you remember that the tooth fairy fun you have with the first tooth will set the stage for the following ones.  Honestly, my biggest memory of those days was trying to make sure I had enough cash on hand for when it finally happened.

The Going Rate for the Tooth Fairy ~

Have you found yourself wondering, “What exactly is the going rate for teeth these days?”  You are not alone.  There are so many articles at your fingertips of what the popular price is for that little gem.  In fact, a new findings were just released by Delta Dental for 2020.  Read the Delta Dental current report here regarding the all time high giving for the tooth fairy!   The beauty of tooth fairy fun is that in the end, you get to decide how you want to move forward…You are the Boss!

Fun Tooth Fairy Ideas ~

With Addi recently losing her first tooth (actually first 2 teeth in the same day!), I had fun looking at some current trends.  As you are deciding what your family is going to do, check out these great ideas:

Fairy Antics ~

This AMAZING post by BuzzFeed is one of the best I have seen!  Here are some of the ideas they share:

You can also choose to put something other than money under their pillow as well.  These specialty pressed fairy pennies are something that all children will cherish for years to come.  Adorable Tooth Fairy Pressed Pennies…check them out!

Tooth Storage ~

Make or purchase a tooth pillow.  This is not only cute, but makes losing that tooth almost impossible.  If you have ever lost a tooth under the pillow you will understand this!  It’s VERY hard to not wake the child when you are frantically routing around under the pillow to find that small little tooth.  (Did I mention how SMALL those teeth are? 😬)

Tooth Fairy Books ~

As mentioned earlier, this event brings on many emotions.  Having some great books on hand is essential to helping your little one feel more of the excitement and less of the anxiety.

The Night Before the Tooth Fairy

Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth

How to Catch the Tooth Fairy

The options are endless!  What is important is that you find a way to make this time-honored tradition a fun experience.  I will leave you with this funny youtube video by 3sAnimals.com of some very clever ideas in helping to get that little rascal out!  You will definitely find yourself laughing!  Let me know if you have any fun ideas or pictures to share!

Very clever tooth pulling videos on YouTube!

With Love ~

Mimi

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