How to Make a Ribbon Topiary

Don’t you just love a good craft project? ¬†Where you can spread out all the materials around and just think of the possibilities? ¬†Making a ribbon topiary is a simple project to add a splash of color to your space and create some height where ever you decide to place it.

I am going to be redoing mine and will show you as I go along just how simple this project is!

Here is my old topiary when I had my little office space pink, brown and white. ¬†(Mode & Brown for any Gamma Phi’s out there!).

I recently painted the accent wall in my office¬†a pretty peach (go figure!). So I wanted to redo my topiary with new coordinating ribbon. I chose some with different textures (sheer, ribbed, wired, satiny). ¬†Also look in the sewing aisle for Rick Rack (the gray wavy ribbon at bottom of photo). ¬†Other smaller ribbons were on end displays. ¬†Keep your eye out. ¬†The best ribbon isn’t in the obvious spots!


  • Small Planter
  • Peat Moss
  • Different sized and textured ribbon in coordinating colors
  • Pins
  • Wooden Dowel
  • Styrofoam Balls (2, one to fit inside and one to be a balanced shape at top)

I looked for a different planter and base, but I didn’t find one I liked. ¬†So, I painted the one I had. ¬†Lucky me, I already had white and silver metallic spray paint!

Here’s a tip for spray painting a small item:

Find a box, open it up until 3 walls are open and you have the base in tact.  Place the item inside and spray with out the mist getting on anything in the area. I taped off this edge so I could spray silver on the inside of the pot.

Once dry, I placed the smaller styrofoam ball in the bottom of pot.  Work the dowel through the ball.  Place the larger ball at top.  Place peat moss around to cover styrofoam ball.

Next, the fun part! ¬†I recommend putting your self in front of Netflix or your favorite TV show is this is not a quick 5 minute project. ¬†But your patience will be rewarded every time you look at your beauty. ¬†Plus, if you’re like me, a little project like this is just good for the soul. ¬†It forces you to just relax, SIT, and focus on one task.

Back to the fun part, cutting each ribbon into small strips, rolling and pinning! I can’t really give you the exact measurement to cut as I didn’t measure with a tape measure. ¬†And I don’t know the size of your project. ¬†I simply rolled a piece of ribbon still on the spool held it up close to the ball and gave it a good look until I knew from the look that it was just right. ¬†You’ll know. ¬†From that first piece, I used that as my guide. ¬†Good news, this doesn’t need size for every single piece. ¬†As long as it just ever so slight give a nice look to your piece.

Keep at it with different ribbons, placing them at different angles to give it some movement and play.

I was lucky enough to have my 12 year old want to volunteer and help!  We had quite the system, one would measure and cut ribbon and the other would roll it and pin it.  It was a fun time together.  And no one got hurt.  Too much!

Have fun choosing your coordinating colors!  You could even change this up seasonally. I know I am enjoying this in my work space!

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Zoodles

One of my families favorite meals is Parmesan Chicken. ¬†However, as kids and picky eaters go hand in hand, every once in a while we will notice the cheesy saucy noodles are consumed, but the chicken is hardly touched. ¬†So I thought how could get them to get their protein part of the meal. ¬†Recognizing they eat beef and turkey meatballs happily, so why not make some Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and make it into one of our favorite dishes. ¬†It worked! I’m still trying to sneak the zoodles in on them. ¬†So far, it’s only worked on the husband. ¬†True story. ¬†He even requested them the other night!

Making the Chicken Parmesan Meatballs!

First, warm your oven to 375¬į. Get a large mixing bowl. ¬†Place ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, parmesan, onion powder, garlic powder and parsley (or Italian Seasoning). Mix by hand. ¬†I like to use food handler gloves so I can quickly mix and begin to shape without repeated hand washing. Shape into small balls. I like little superball size balls for my family, but I also have done ping pong size balls. ¬†Place on a baking sheet. ¬†Here, I am using a Pampered Chef Medium Bar Pan that is well seasoned. Brush with your favorite pasta or marinara sauce. I like using a basting brush. Making chicken Parmesan Meatballs Sprinkle on some shredded Parmesan Cheese. ¬†I really like my Pampered Chef Rotary Grater (that I don’t have pictured). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. ¬†If you like them a little extra saucy, remove pan after about 15 minutes and reapply sauce. While the meatballs are cooking, let’s get to the zoodles!

Making the zoodles!

Clean and wash your medium sized zucchini. ¬†I would count on 1 zucchini per adult serving. ¬†Trim off one end, place in spiralizer and make your zoodles! Making homemade Zoodles With spiralizer Get a medium size skillet and turn burner to medium heat. ¬†Place 3-4 tablespoons water, enough to cover pan. ¬†I have made many zoodles and have made many mistakes making them. ¬†I’ve made the mistake of putting in too much water and they are a big soggy flavorless mess. ¬†Think a mix of steaming and pan frying your zoodles and they should come out perfect for you! Plate your zoodles or your noodles, place your meatballs on top. ¬†Then top with extra sauce if you desire and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Links to Tools I Used:

Gloves- Lately, I’ve found it easier, quicker and cleaner to use these Food Handling Gloves. Zoodle Tool – Quick and easy tool for spriralizing veggies. ¬†A must have! Find here.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Zoodles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A low carb twist to a classic dish.



  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 TBSP parsley or Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup basil marinara (or your favorite red sauce)
  • 1 zucchini


  1. Preheat over to 400.
  2. Mix all ingredients, except sauce in a bowl.
  3. Roll into small balls.
  4. Brush each meatball with sauce.
  5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until balls are browned.
  6. Will meatballs are baking, start your zoodles.
  7. Wash your zucchini. Cut off one end. Place in zoodle maker and start twisting.
  8. Heat up skillet pan with 2-3 TBS water, enough to cover bottom.
  9. Cook/Steam zoodles 3-4 minutes until tender.

Using Pinterest Boards for Meal Planning and Saving Time

Favorite Friday

Today, I want to share with you the way I found saves me time in menu planning, shopping and actual preping for dinner. ¬†It doesn’t seem like a big deal to most, but discovering a way to organize my Pinterest Boards that really work for me is a BIG Deal to me!

It took me a while, but I finally figured out how I utilized Pinterest. ¬†I did my best to really break it down in categories of my interests: Food, Baking, Seasons, Crafting, Gifts, DIY, etc. ¬†In the early days of me using Pinterest, I quickly discovered I couldn’t find a recipe if it was just under ‘food’. ¬†So now I have several boards called FOOD, with subcategories. ¬†For example Food ~ Breakfast. ¬†Food ~ Chicken Dinners.

Back in the olden days (as my kids would say) before Pinterest, I used a binder to keep my recipes and ideas in. ¬†Then when I went to plan dinners for the week, I would peruse my binder and pull out the recipes for the week, make my shopping list from the menus and keep them on the fridge with a magnet so they were handy to access. ¬†Sometimes, when life got busy, I would forget to return them in proper place which made it hard to find then next time. ¬†Or I’d forget all together and would have a pile up on my fridge.

I really forgot about¬†this step with Pinterest, I putting everything in smaller, easier to find places. ¬†There is search, but sometimes the key word I would use to find a recipe isn’t used when I quickly pinned it. ¬†Although I have the convenience of the recipe literally at my finger tips on my phone (really handy in the grocery store!), I still had to hunt and peck my way through my boards (after I finally remembered the answer to “what am I making for dinner Tuesday night again?”.

So I created a New Board ‘WEEKLY MENU’. When I sit down and set my menu for the week, I will search out the recipe on my Pinterest Board and move it to my ‘Weekly Menu’ board.

Here is how I do it (after some trial and error and having duplicate pins!  You can learn from my mistake.):

  • Find your pin. ¬†Let’s say it’s called ‘Pesto Pasta Bake’
  • If using your phone device, tap the photo until the Save/Edit/Send/More buttons pop up
  • Select Edit
  • Under Edit Pin, tap the Board selection (this is what you are going to temporarily edit)
  • This moves you to a Select Board screen. ¬†I select ‘Weekly Menu’


Search your pin


Tap photo until edit buttons pop up


Select ‘Edit’ button


Edit Board location


Select New Board like ‘Weekly Menu’

Now you have them all ready to access as you move along your busy week! ¬†I can’t tell you how much time this has saved me searching and printing recipe ideas for the week(and losing my print out, whoops).

My follow up to this once the week is over and I am planning for the new week, I simply reverse this process.

  • Select Pin on ‘Weekly Menu’ board
  • Tap photo until¬†Save/Edit/Send/More buttons pop up
  • Select Edit
  • Under Edit Pin, tap the Board selection
  • This moves you to a Select Board screen. ¬†I select where I retrieved this pin in the first place. ¬†In my case of the ‘Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake’, I select my ‘Food ~ Casseroles’ board

I menu plan on a planner. ¬†This is new (again) to me. ¬†I used to use many variations of lists and forms, which ended up being scraps of paper in a trail all over the house, and¬†it didn’t work for me. ¬†You have to find what works for you! ¬†I thought I would try to keep up with the less-paper/paperless digital world and do everything on my smartphone. ¬†I use a calendar app that has a built in shopping list. ¬†I tried for too long to make it work until I realized I needed to have ONE paper place where I could put in calendar items and notes. ¬†So off I went for a planner.

After I have everything in my planner, have my shopping list entered into my app and have filled my Weekly Menu Pinterest board, I have one final step.  I usually involve my kids and family in the planning and grocery list, but this last part they really enjoy doing.  I created an Erasable Menu Frame.  My kids like the writing part of this task, so I usually let them have a go at it.  We keep it in a visible area in our kitchen.  Sometimes I even take a screen shot on my phone so when I am out and about and have something come up in reference to a menu item or what our dinner plans for the night, I have this to refer to.

If you like this and would like to make one, you can go HERE to my other blog post on how I made it!

Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

Oatmeal Bake

I’m a breakfast person.  I am not necessarily a morning person.  Not a super combo when you want to eat a good healthy breakfast but lack the attitude or ambition in the morning.

That’s why I love this recipe.  I can make this anytime during the day, when I am working in the kitchen when I am in my groove.

I also love this recipe because it can feed a group.  And I do a lot of things in group activities.  Recently, my aunt moved into a retirement community.  There are several options for meal plans there, and I know they all come at a different cost.  We were chatting one day when I was helping her set up her computer and deleting her 1,694 emails about her meals and attending the dining room for meals and using her kitchen.  I was curious if some mornings or afternoons if she just didn’t feel up to getting herself put together enough to trek down to the dining room and have a meal with her new friends and neighbors.

So I asked her if we could start an arrangement where I could start making her some breakfast and lunch dishes that would supplement her meals during the days she didn’t want to pay extra for a meal (above her current plan) or just didn’t want to miss her 11:00am news for lunch and have the luxury of staying in her cozy home.  She thought this would be a lovely idea.  So for Christmas I purchased her to smaller baking dishes with covers and printed out a list breakfast and lunch ideas.  The idea will be once a week I bring a full dish and return with a clean dish.  And the bonus is visiting with her while I set up her new Gitterbug phone or show her how to record and watch her favorite shows.

How To Make

I always like to grab all my ingredients and tools gathered before I start.

You can tell from here that I use frozen fruit.  I really like slicing up my bananas that I can’t use before they go too brown and put them in snack bags.  They work great in smoothies and for baking!

Preheat the over to 375¬į.

Next, mix the dry ingredients together: oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a smaller bowl (2 cup measuring cup works great!), add liquids: egg, milk, syrup, vanilla and coconut oil.

Next, lightly spray pan with oil.  Then spread sliced bananas on bottom of baking pan.  Sprinkle the dry ingredients evenly over the top.

Then spread the liquid mixture evenly over the oats.  Use a spatula to gently move oats around to make sure liquids penetrates the oats.

Sprinkle the berries over the top.

Pop the pan(s) into the oven for 30 minutes and clean up.  From this photo, you can also see how I separated this dish into two pans.  The glass one is for my aunt that I will be delivering right after it has come out of the oven and cooled enough for me to put the lid on it.  This dish is a 5 x 7.  This recipe fits into an 11 x 7 perfectly.

As I use measuring cups and spoons, I like to grab a small container as my cleanup bowl. My prep space is across the kitchen from my sink and I loath carrying dirty items back and forth.  So I drop my dirty utensils and garbage into this container so I can make one trip to the garbage and sink.  Squirt a drop of soap into the dish and wash and dry them.  By the time my dish comes out of the oven, everything could be back in their drawers or cupboards.  Happy!


Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A comforting morning breakfast bake.



  • 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon (I love cinnamon)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp melted coconut oil (or sub 1 tsp butter, softened)
  • 2-3 banans, sliced
  • 1 cup blueberries
    *frozen fruit works perfectly fine


  1. Preheat oven to 375¬į.
  2. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients: Oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix liquids: Milk, egg, syrup and oil/butter.
  4. Lightly spray pan with oil (I use Coconut Oil).
  5. Spread sliced bananas on bottom of pan.
  6. Evenly spread dry mixture over bananas.
  7. Pour liquid mixture over the top.
  8. Top with Blueberries.
  9. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.

Snicker Doodle Cake

This holiday season is full of cookies.  I wanted to have a dessert for my sweet tooth, but not cookies.  But if I were to choose a cookie, a snicker doodle would be my first choice. I’ve enjoyed a Snicker Doodle recipe in the past but it was an enhanced white cake mix.

I wanted to spice it up a bit.   So I searched for a snicker doodle cake recipe and came up with a few recipes that didn’t nail the idea I had in my head.  So I came up with this one. It’s a little naughty and nice, and full of sugar and spice! Oh, and a little holiday cheer in the form of spiced rum and cinnamon whiskey!

I call this cake a little naughty and a little nice because it includes some healthy ingredients (I used organic cane sugar instead of processed white, Greek Yogurt, and use my backyard chicken eggs when they are laying and not free-loading) and then some from the naughty list (pudding mix, veggie oil).  The Rum and Fireball can be on which ever list you prefer at the moment!


Preheat your oven to 350¬į.  Also, remove 2 ounces cream cheese at this time for the glaze so it is softened.

I began by placing all the dry ingredients in my mixing bowl and gave them a good mix.  I then added my liquids: the eggs, yogurt, oil and then the Rum and Fireball (use milk if you prefer).  I chose to use this mix of alcohol because although the cinnamon whiskey seems right up the alley for the recipe, sometimes it can be a strong flavor and I wanted to cut it back with the flavor of a nice spiced rum.

I mixed this for about a minute or two until everything was fully incorporated and my batter was of a thicker consistency.

I sprayed my bundt pan with Coconut Oil Spray completely.

This went in the oven for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool 30 minutes before flipping it onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 ounces cream cheese

Thin out with a mix of rum and fireball (or milk!), add slowly until you get it the consistency you want.  Aim for a little more on the runny side as you want it to drizzle and start to slide down the cake, but firm enough to not slide all the way off!

Place a bag (zip lock or large twist tie) in a measuring cup.  This will help hold the bag open so you can scoop your glaze into the bag with out a heck of a mess or frustration!

Squeeze out the air, give the bag a twist at the top of the glaze then snip a corner large enough to pipe the glaze over the cake.

Top off with fancy shimmering sugar.

Snickerdoodle Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A naughty and nice and sugar and spice cake version of the classic cookie.




  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  •  tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 oil
  • *1 cup liquid (I did 1/3 cup Fireball + 2/3 cup Spiced Rum) You can simply use milk, too!
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened



  1. Set oven to 350¬į.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.
  3. Add in the wet ingredients. Beat on medium for 1 minute until well combined.
  4. Grease bundt pan.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool 30 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Once completely cooled, set on your cake plate.


  1. Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2 oz softened cream cheese.
  2. Slowly thin out with milk or rum/fireball.
  3. Place in zip lock. Snip the corner and drizzle over completely cooled cake.
  4. Sprinkle cake with colored sugars, if desired.

Convert a Hanging Basket to Holiday Basket

Craft Wednesday

I am no green thumb. ¬†In fact, I’m¬†usually the first one to kill a plant, hard as I try to keep the flowers and plants alive. ¬†I am especially bad and keeping the perennials maintained through the winter so I have pretty flowers and plants in my yard come spring time.

Outside our bedroom door, we have a pretty view of our backyard and the sting of lights set to a timer that we keep on year ’round. ¬†I call them my happy lights. ¬†I love walking back and having the sparkly lights brighten my space. ¬†I usually have a hanging basket in the summer time that miraculously blooms flowers (that I may have to update throughout the season. ¬†You can probably read between the lines there and assume that means replace the dead flowers with new ones).

It becomes an eyesore come wintertime. ¬†With the high hopes that I can’t kill fake plants, I thought this would be the best place to make a holiday arrangement. ¬†With lights, of course!

Here is what you need to collect:

  • Hanging basket or planter
  • Christmas greens, 5-6 pieces, depending on size of planter
  • Other accessories such as berries, pine cones
  • Battery operated lights (I had LED on hand)


First, I removed all the dead leaves and branches from my basket. ¬†As luck would have it, it wasn’t the entire planter! ¬†Then, I pulled any hanging branches towards the middle to give me room to add my faux holiday greens on the sides to create the illusion of bulk.











I used a mixed variety of greenery to give a look of depth.

Once I inserted the stems into the dirt, it was time to fluff the branches. ¬†This really bulked up the look and made the planter look so full. ¬†Plus don’t forget some perennials that I didn’t manage to kill are hibernating in the middle to come to life come spring! ¬†I used this centerpiece to also build upon, so it’s a mix of faux and some really greenery.












See how in this first close up you can see some real leaves from a plant that must be super hardy to live in my planter? ¬†I think it’s a pretty mix. ¬†Spend some time after inserting all the pieces to ¬†look at it from all different angles and make sure you like the way each branch is laying, how the light cords appear, etc. ¬†I’m sure after I took these pictures, I’ve moved some branches or cords around.










So the weather almost didn’t hold out for me this year to get a great photo with the lights all on. ¬†It has turned gray and cold. I tried my best to capture this night photo with my happy lights. ¬†¬†I love¬†to see the colorful basket outside my bedroom sliding doors every time I walk by.


Oven Cleaning

Tip Tuesday – Using at home and natural products to clean your oven

Everyone is getting their kitchen cleaned for the holidays, right!? It’s not just me!? Especially the oven. ¬†And who wants be judged on how their oven looks? ¬†Even though we know the odds of someone walking over and pulling the door open to look at our oven is almost null?

Well, I am still feeling the need to have the oven clean anyway. ¬†And I have a way to clean the oven that doesn’t require running to the store to buy an expensive cleaning product that smells to no end or makes you suffer with breathing in whatever chemicals are in the product. ¬†

Years ago, I used the self cleaning button on my over. ¬†Never again!! ¬†I may have sensitivities, but it drove me out of the house for hours with the biggest headache. ¬†I have no idea what made me react that way, and I don’t plan to spend anytime investigating why.¬†

So I went on the search for safe products.  And sure enough, I found out that I had them right in my home already.  So I put my wireless headphones, turned on the Hallmark Channel and started cleaning.

Would you be surprised to know that all I used was baking soda and a vinegar water solution?

That’s it.  

So on the outside, doesn’t look too scary, right?


But this is what lurks inside…



I quickly gathered my products and tools:

What I used:

I started with sprinkling baking soda on all the surfaces. Then spraying with the cleaning spray.



While that did its little chemical magic, I took a coffee break.


Then I grabbed a little stool and got to work with the scraper.


This tool is the best! ¬†If you don’t have one, follow the links above listed in the bullets. ¬†This scraper gets that baked on mess off with a little elbow grease and a lot of help from the baking soda and vinegar bubbling action. ¬†You will do a lot of wiping off the blade onto paper towels. ¬†Then wiping up the loose bits with a sponge. ¬†But soon, very soon, you will see beautiful results!


It took a couple of passes, but eventually, I got up all the baked on bits!

I did the same for the inside.



So clean!!  I know, if you are looking super duper close, it will look like I left behind streaks.  Unfortunately, those streaks are on the INSIDE of the glass.  After a short Google & Pinterest search and the mention of screwdrivers or shoving a coat hanger with a rag attached up in between the windows, I declared this as a victory and put out the thought of taking apart my oven door!

So, about this homemade citrus vinegar and water solution?

Here is how I prepare my solution:


Save cleaned orange peels and place in large glass jar. ¬†Add vinegar to cover orange peels. ¬†Add a sprig of herb like rosemary if you prefer (this was actually the first time I did. ¬†It’s just for the smell). ¬†Seal tight with the lid and place on shelf for about 2 weeks. Solution will darken in color as it absorbs the citrus.

To make your solution for a spray bottle, I use a funnel and add 1 part water : 1 part vinegar solution.











Oh, and the punch line to all of this? We aren’t even using the oven for Christmas Dinner! My husband will be smoking a bone in pork roast. But my oven will look pretty!

Beer Advent Calendar – 12 Beers of Christmas

We all have that special someone that just loves counting down the days until Christmas, right? ¬†Well, my big guy (husband) isn’t much into chocolate. ¬†But he loves his beer! ¬†He does so many special things for me through out the year and the season, that I decided he needed some extra cheer in celebrating the season. ¬†He puts up the tree and all the lights, he gets a beer advent calendar. ¬†Sounds like a good deal to me.

Here is how I did it, and how you can do it to get ready by December 13th, so your favorite someone can start celebrating ’12 Beers of Christmas’.

Gather these materials:

  • 12 Beers
  • Recycled wine box (with partitions still in box)
  • Wrapping paper
  • Ribbon
  • Box knife
  • Packing tape
  • Card stock paper
  • Sharpie or number stickers

First, start collecting different types of bottles of beer. ¬†Think local, think seasonal and think international! This is the basic expense of the project.¬†It’s fun to mix up the 12 beer selection with cans, 12 oz bottles and some 22 oz bottles. Look for the stores that sell single bottles. ¬†And careful about taking one from a six pack. ¬†I was informed at one store that the price would be hefty to break up a six pack. ¬†So be thrifty. ¬†Hit your local specialty grocery stores or bottle shops/tap houses for great selections. ¬†And it’s OK if you sneak one that just happens to be your preference. ¬†I won’t tell! (Just like you won’t tell that I slipped in a ‘Not Your Father’s¬†Rootbeer‘ – have you tried this with ice cream for a float – oh my!).

Next, you need a sturdy box already partitioned into 12 slots. ¬†I asked while at Trader Joe’s if their boxes of two buck Chuck (well, now $3.99) were available and they asked me how many I wanted and were happy to send me on my way with a few; free of charge.



I found my paper at Hobby Lobby. ¬†Any holiday paper will do, but I liked the simplicity of this butcher paper look. ¬†It seemed a little more masculine! But I couldn’t resist a simple gold sparkly tulle to wrap around the box!

After you get the box home, you will need to use a box knife and trim up the box to accommodate your biggest bottle. ¬†Next, you will need to reinforce the individual slots to the cardboard sides. ¬†Look at the provided space divider and pull it forward so it is more centered as it’s laying down, but more importantly so it lines up so when you cover each beer slot, you have room to tape the square over and have it extend past the bottle.



Use packing tape to go through all 12 slots and tape corners and edges to allow for the weight of the beer while the box lays on it’s side. ¬†Remember, this box is used to hold upright bottles!

Now you can measure the square covering for the 12 days.  Measure twice, cut once (my dad would be proud of this one).

numbers-ready put-on-numbers

Carefully attach each square with tape so it is all lined up (I get a little OCD on this.  Sometimes I have to let it go). I did this by laying a large piece of packing tape across the back, folding it and then placing it centered in the square.


Now you are ready to fill it with your beer!  How fun.

Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake

Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake is a CROWD PLEASER!  I make this dish for so many reasons: for my tennis post-match parties, for making batches to put in the freezer when a family needs a meal delivered, or just to have some freezer ready meals for upcoming busy weeks. This recipe will make 2 full meals for a family of 4. (This is just one of the two meals this recipe makes!).

I love this dish as it can be altered in so many ways to accommodate those with special dietary needs or preferences.  Gluten free?  Replace the pasta with noodles such as Trade Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli , Trade Joe’s Brown Rice Fusilli or any of your personal favorite GF noodles.  Vegetarian?  Simple, don’t add the chicken or replace it with your protein rich substitute.  Intolerance to store bought taste of Alfredo Sauce?  I’ve got you covered on that with this simple and fast homemade Alfredo sauce.

Serving a large crowd?  Mix everything together, place in large crockpot, place on low/warm setting until ready to serve at your party.

Putting the Dish Together

Gather noodles, prepared chicken cubes, cheese, spinach, diced tomatoes, sauces (Alfredo and pesto), and milk.  I guess if this were a fancy cooking show, this would be your Mise en place!

While your noodles are cooking (and possibly while you are preparing your chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce!), start mixing all the other ingredients in a large bowl or stock pot.  Once noodles are drained, add to the mixture. Mix until noodles and chicken are well coated.


When you add chicken and noodles and need to start mixing, you need a seriously large bowl so you can mix without overturning your meal on the counter!

Here is my beloved bowl that was the largest from a Costco set.  I placed a large drinking glass to show you the size of the bowl.  Unfortunately, after this photo, my bowl tumbled off the counter as it was drying and is no longer with me.

I use a large stock pot to mix everything in with success!


Here is an alternate way I portioned out my meals.  2 larger pans for my family and a gift for a family of ours.  My good friend was going back to work full time after working from home with her two young kids.  I thought this would be a nice “first day back to work” meal that even dad could pop in the oven for their weeknight family meal.  The smaller is a bread loaf that I made for my neighbor.  We just take great care of each other and this was my gesture of saying thanks and I’m grateful for her. Mix and match pans to accommodate your meals.


This pan served my family of 4, and there was even left overs for lunches the next day.


Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A crowd pleasing casserole.



  • 1 package penne or fusilli noodles
  • Cooked and cubed Family Style packaged Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts or one Rotisserie chicken
  • 4 cups Shredded Italian Cheese
  • 1 can Fire Roasted Diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups Alfredo Sauce (try this homemade)
  • 1 cup pesto sauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top


  1. Cook noodles according to directions.
  2. If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, prepare chicken with seasonings and cook through. Once cooled, cube into bite sizes. If using store bought Rotisserie, begin trimming meat and cutting into bite sizes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl or stock pot (not on burner), start adding the cheese, diced tomatoes, spinach, Alfredo, pesto sauce and milk.
  4. Once chicken and noodles are cooked, add to mixture. Mix to coat chicken and noodles.At this time decide how to portion out the meals. This mixture will fill two 8 x 8 baking dishes (foil is perfect for freezing).
  5. If baking, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350¬į for 35- 40 minutes.
  6. If freezing, sprinkle with cheese, cover in foil and freeze up to 3 months.
  7. TO USE FROM FROZEN: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking. Keep covered and bake for 45 – 50 minutes for 350¬į.

Drunken Pumpkin Pie Cocktail ~ Four Ways!

It’s Thirsty Thursday!

A few years ago while at the liquor store – because here in the OR, hard liquor is only sold in liquor stores¬†– don’t ask… Anyway, we came across this pumpkin liqueur that we had to try. ¬†It’s like a preloaded egg nog drink, just pumpkinny for the fall holidays when you’re not quite ho ho ho ready.

pumpkin-pie-cocktailIt’s a thicker sipping drink, ¬†so I thought what¬†of different ways of enjoying this festive fall cocktails. ¬†It is 12.5% alcohol, so go easy. ¬†It’s also a reason why I came up with a few different variations. You can enjoy this¬†4 ways! On with making your choice of The Drunken Pumpkin…options

 1.  On the Rocks!

This is just the straight out of the bottle style.  Enjoy the full flavor of this liqueur!

Fill a low ball glass with ice, shake bottle of liqueur and pour. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

2.  With Vanilla Vodka

OK, this is punched up with a kick!  Go easy on this one.

Fill a low ball glass with ice.  Shake bottle and pour 1/3 cup Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur into glass.  Add  1 shot of Vanilla Vodka. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

3. With Cream Soda

This will add a touch of vanilla sweetness that will blend with the richness of the liqueur.

Fill a low ball glass with ice. ¬†Add 1/4 cup of Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur. ¬†Add 2 ounces of Cream Soda. ¬†I really enjoy this Virgil’s. ¬†No preservatives and no corn syrup! Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

4. With Vanilla Iced Coffee

Of course coffee and pumpkin go together, right?

Fill a low ball glass with ice.  Add 1/4 cup Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur.  Add 2-3 ounces of any iced coffee, flavored if you prefer.  Top with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.


Cheers, everyone!

Drunken Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

A rich and creamy fall or winter cocktail.



Pumpkin Pie cream Liqueur (Such as Fulton’s Harvest)
Vanilla Vodka
Whipped Cream
Nutmeg or Pumpkin Pie Spice


  1. Add ice to a low ball glass.
  2. Add Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur.
  3. Float an ounce of vanilla vodka.
  4. Top with whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice.

Easy does it! The liqueur is already 12.5% alcohol. And we are adding a shot of vodka here. Drink safely!