Close up view

Deck the Halls

My halls are all decked out for Christmas.  How about yours?  This year it took me longer to decorate because I decided to use some of my decorations differently than I had in the past.  After selling our business I had a large tub of decorations that had been designed for the office and are made of some of the same materials and by the same person as the decorations I had for home.  I didn’t make the decorations originally I had a friend in the

basement mantle with feather boa accents and wreath
basement mantle with feather boa accents and wreath

floral business (The Orchid Lady) make them several years ago.  This year I “reworked” them.  They were starting to come apart and I wanted to add in the extras.  I used the matching wreath from the office over the mantle and used the extra feather garlands that once hung on office windows for a “low centerpiece” on the table.  The decorations in the basement area all have the same style and color scheme incorporating lots of gold, copper, burgundy, glitter and feathers.

matching feather boa decor used for a low centerpiece
matching feather boa decor used for a low centerpiece
Feathers Glitter and Gold
Feathers Glitter and Gold
close up of the table centerpiece
close up of the table centerpiece

The main level is mostly done in a more rustic and natural theme with lots of reds, plaids,

My new mantle. Yeah!
My new mantle. Yeah!

Santa’s and some chartreuse mesh ribbon thrown in because I love that color.  I replaced my accent color of teal in the family room with red pillows and green candles.  I was so excited this year to have a mantle over the fireplace.  My son is pretty handy and he built one just in time for me to decorate.  I have included a picture before the decorating began so you can see how great it looks.  The garland on the mantle drapes down and I had

Rustic and natural mantle decor
Rustic and natural mantle decor

difficulty getting a good picture of either feature.  The tree in this room is not identical to the mantle garland but it has some of the same elements.  Again, I had some table decorations from our previous business that I took apart to use on this tree.  The main part of the decoration was a greenery spray that included pinecones, feathers and chartreuse berries.  I had added the chartreuse mesh ribbon, some copper velvet ribbon and some burlap.  Though I love the copper ribbon it just didn’t go with any of the other decorations so I took them apart and saved the copper ribbon to use in some other project next fall.  I usually put a garland on my banister that has a plaid ribbon intertwined with the pinecones and greenery but I discovered the finish at this home is softer than our previous home and it was scratching the woodwork.  And yes I did try using pipe cleaners and felt.  So, I had just enough of the garland to go on top of my cabinets in the kitchen along with a few of the things I needed to move to make room for some more Santa stuff.  I took the ornaments I had hung in the dining room last year and hung them in the breakfast area using varying plaid ribbon.  Then I created a centerpiece tray using a collection of pewter measuring tankards, a cheap metal tray I picked up last year at IKEA, some pine cones I already had, extra ornaments and peppermint candy from Dollar Tree.  I have to say this was the most fun!  So now the kitchen and the family room have a correlating theme.

The sprays before I removed the copper ribbon
The sprays before I removed the copper ribbon
Spray added to tree before I added the ornaments
Spray added to tree before I added the ornaments
This is my everything tree-Santa's, natural elements and cardinals
This is my everything tree:  Santa’s, natural elements and cardinals
Close up view
Close up view
mantle décor- candles, nutcrackers and small twig wreath
mantle décor- candles, nutcrackers and small twig wreath
Pillows add a pop of red to coordinate with the theme
Pillows add a pop of red to coördinate with the theme
breakfast table-it's all about plaid
breakfast table-it’s all about plaid
garland topped cabinets with baskets and soup tureens
garland topped cabinets with baskets and soup tureens
garland on adjacent cabinet with pewter tea set and remote candles
garland on adjacent cabinet with pewter tea set and remote candles
garland topped cabinet with duck decoy and bird cage full of pine cones
garland topped cabinet with duck decoy and bird cage full of pine cones

I bought a third tree this year at Hobby Lobby.  I knew the minute I saw it I wanted to use it in my dining room to display my late aunt’s collection of Christopher Radko ornaments.

Champagne tree with glass and vintage ornaments
Champagne tree with glass and vintage ornaments

It is a 6 foot skinny tree made of champagne tinsel.  What I didn’t realize was that my aunt also had the very first ornaments my grandparents had bought in a little box labeled where and when they were bought in the 1930′s.  There were some other ornaments that were bought in California when Grammy and Gramps worked in the shipyards during the war in 1942.  I added a few glass ornaments from early in my marriage and voilà!   I have the perfect vintage tree.  I absolutely love it.  To pull the room together I used a collection of hand blown clear glass ornaments to make a faux chandelier from the chandelier by using gold and silver stretchy package ties to suspend them at different lengths.  I decided to use a mixture of gold and silver chargers on the table and combined gold and silver banded china.  I placed a crystal nativity set on the buffet between some vintage vases which are not holiday themed but seemed to go well with the whole effect.  Plus I didn’t have a place to store them as they are quite large.

glass ornaments
glass ornaments
vintage ornaments
vintage ornaments
crystal nativity and vintage vases
crystal nativity and vintage vases

I hope you have enjoyed my house tour!  Next I will share some decorations from a few friends and perhaps a Christmas craft or two.

Wishing you a spirit filled week!   Robbin

IMG_0536

Set The Thanksgiving Table

Well, I have waited until the last minute to set my Thanksgiving Table and write this table setting post. I must admit I have been side tracked with a large scale home organization project and have been more focused on Christmas parties and getting ready for Christmas. Thanksgiving really is my favorite holiday because I get to spend time with my family, eat traditional foods and watch football ( I have 2 boys and a husband who love sports!). It is usually more of a relaxing time before the big Christmas rush.pillar candles painted glasses

Table decoration use to mean a nice floral centerpiece and possibly a few candlesticks.  Today’s table can be considered decorated with even less for a minimalist or rustic look and can be decked to the nines with anything and everything you can imagine.
This year for my holiday table I used things I had on hand with the exception of a silver pumpkin I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. I had some other cheap pumpkins from the dollar store that were very fake looking and some dollar store gourds as well. I spray painted them in copper metallic and gold metallic. I would love to have a large cornucopia arrangement for the table but I didn’t have time to make one this year and I decided I really didn’t have room to store it. I did buy a bag of real white pumpkins at the grocery store and put them in a decorative bowl on the kitchen table and will use them for the “place cards” with each persons name on them for Thanksgiving dinnerpumpkin place settingI have china with both gold and silver trim so I used some of each.  I think the more different things you mix together to make it your own design and the use of things at different heights makes your table all the more interesting.

pumpkins and gourds tableBuying live mini pumpkins, using a vase for natural twigs and berries or a hurricane or large glass jar with a pillar candle surrounded by nuts or unpopped popcorn are great for last minute table décor especially if you have no place to store decorations.
If there will be young children at your Thanksgiving table you may want to opt for kid friendly décor. Cookies or cupcakes decorated as turkeys in the middle of the table or at each place setting create a fun and festive theme. Thanksgiving morning have construction paper, water soluble markers and scissors and ask the children to make turkey decorations by tracing around their hands. There a tons of craft ideas for children on Pinterest that will include them and take the decorating challenge out of your hands!

We are having a small family gathering for Thanksgiving this year so I am contemplating doing a turkey breast in the crockpot with orange juice, whole cranberry sauce and Lipton onion soup mix.  I will have the other traditional sides to accompany my turkey but I am planning on a scaled down version this year.

If this is your first time to cook the Thanksgiving meal and host the dinner prepare some of the dishes ahead.  Many years ago one of my family members was so excited to host the family for Thanksgiving and had worked for weeks preparing dishes ahead and freezing them.  On Thanksgiving day she took them out of the freezer shortly before we were planning to eat.  That was before microwaves were as good at defrosting as they are now and instead of eating at noon, we ate very late that night.  So, I tell you that story to say time planning is key.  Also, I would advise that you don’t try some new recipe you have never made unless you have had it prepared by a family member or friend.  I have tried some recipes that look and sound fantastic that just aren’t.  Stick with what is tried and true and ask your guests to bring a dish or help you in the kitchen if they make something everyone already loves.

fall glitz2

Fall’s Grand Entry

If you think about it Fall makes a grand entry in the parts of the country that experience all four seasons.  Some years it is less showy and doesn’t seem to last as long.  When there is the perfect mix of rain, warm sunny days and cool nights the Fall colors are an extravagant showcase.  I like to call it God’s watercolor!  Regardless of where you live or whether it is a great year for Fall foliage, you can create your own grand entry.  Let’s get started by first assessing what your  decorating style, space and budget are.

Your space will determine how much you can do to decorate.  Don’t be discouraged if you have a very small entryway or live in an apartment without an entryway you can still show off your style and creativity.

The budget is probably the largest factor determining how most of us decorate.  I saw some gorgeous large metallic pumpkins at one of the local décor cottages that I would love to have.  Their price was out of my range and I didn’t want to store them either so, I am going to spray paint my own.  If budget is not a concern for you and you aren’t crafty I suggest you go to Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or one of your local stores that has home décor items.  For the rest of you set how much you want to spend and then look for ideas that fall within that range.

fall entry7Style is one of those things that is hard for me because I like it all!  Rustic, earthy, natural, crazy, colorful, metallic and grandiose.    I use to pick a style and then wish I had chosen something different!  Now I just mix them all together and that makes me happy!

I like to start with a container.  If you have a vase or lantern use it.  For those who don’t let’s make one.  There are lots of options.  Use an empty mason jar or wine bottle.  Spray paint an empty jar or carton.  Wrap an empty Pringles can with newspaper, craft paper or scrapbook paper.  Basically use something you  already have.

fall entry1
A few fall touches

Go outside and collect pinecones, acorns, leaves, sweet gum balls (surely this is the only purpose for them!).  You can use all of these items as they are to scatter on your entry table or use as vase filler around stems of Fall foliage in your vase or around a candle.  If you like your styles mixed like me and have any metallic spray or craft paint …gussy up a few.  You can buy apples or small pumpkins or small artificial pumpkins to mix in.  Again, leave them as they are or paint them depending on your style and budget.  Next, search your house for a tray, a candlestick, a pedestal, old linens or burlap.  Try mixing the different items together by layering and having varying heights.  You could even add a fun picture of your children playing in the leaves or a framed quote about Fall.   Mess with it until you love it.

fall entry5

Many homes have an entryway that is consumed by coat closets or a stairwell that has a bannister.  Decorate it!  You can buy a Fall garland or make your own.  This could be a fun project for you and your children.  If you have an apartment use a wreath on the inside door or the door to your coat closet.

fall entry9

Not into decorating for every season, or simply don’t have the space or time, consider transitional decorating.  Use elements that can be used through Fall, Thanksgiving and the Christmas season.  Replace the turkeys with angels, a Santa, reindeer or nativity.

I can’t wait to tackle the dining room table next post!

Autumn Welcome

Nothing says “Welcome” like your front door to your home or office.  That is why curb appeal is one of the most important factors to get people to want to take a look inside.  Have you ever received a present that was so exquisitely wrapped that you couldn’t wait to see what was inside?  One of the easiest ways to celebrate Fall and to add a festive touch to welcome your guests all season long is with a wreath and a few pumpkins. I created this double wreath with two grapevine wreaths, an artificial vine of leaves and pumpkins, small artificial bouquets from the dollar store, artificial grapes, clumps of artificial nuts from a Christmas sale bin at Hobby Lobby, Raffia, sprigs of evergreen, you name it the more variety the better.   The only tools you need are some wire cutters to take apart some of the bouquets and florist wire or bread ties.  Start with vines or swags and greenery and then add in the colorful goodies!

Double the impact-Two grapevine wreaths attached together with loads of Fall florals
Double the impact-Two grapevine wreaths attached together with loads of Fall florals.
All things Fall
All things Fall- artificial gourds, sunflowers and various clusters of yellow and orange with pops of white and purple.
A few fake pumpkins and mums in pots at varying heights
A few fake pumpkins and mums in pots at varying heights

When you arrange your front porch you can vary height using steps, a stool, a wagon or

Urn topped with a wreath and stacked with pumpkins
Urn topped with a wreath and stacked with pumpkins

wheelbarrow for interest.  Add an outdoor lantern if you have one.  Use what you have and recycle or up cycle an item instead of buying something new.  It’s fun to use an unexpected treasure to create a unique display.  If you have an urn type flower-pot you can simply lay a grapevine wreath on the urn and stack some pumpkins in the center.

No  flower pots for the front porch, not to worry.  Use a few of the plastic jack-o-lantern buckets with a handle to display your mum.  You can spray paint them gold or silver and turn them backwards for a classy fall look.

Dollar store jack-o-lantern buckets

 
 

For a totally “green” option buy a large pumpkin, cut a circle out in the top the size of the plastic pot your mum came in and place the mum in the top of a real pumpkin.  Use the flesh to make pumpkin treats then dry and roast the seeds for snacks.  After the holiday season is over plant the mum.

pumpkins as the"pot"

If you like the look of white pumpkins but can’t afford the price then buy the size you want in a fake orange or real pumpkin and paint it white.  If you are good at calligraphy monogram your initial or a saying such as Welcome Friends on your pumpkins.

Calligraphy Welcome
Calligraphy Welcome

For your Fall door décor take the head off of an old rake monogram letter wrapped with jutehandle, add some fall berries and twine or raffia.  Another inexpensive idea is to take a foam wreath or a cardboard monogram letter or large circle and cover by wrapping with twine, burlap or fall fabric.  Add a few artificial fall flowers and leaves, some rusty keys, pinecones or acorns with hot glue.  Tie a wide ribbon or strip of burlap to hang it from and voilà you have a simple creation that will hang between your door and storm door and would be perfect for an apartment door decoration.

Now that you have ideas to make your front door  SCREAM welcome….our next Autumn Inspiration will be to create the warmth and festive feel of Fall after you cross the threshold!

Pumpkins and Mums say "Welcome Autumn"

Autumn Inspiration

Autumn is known as the Fall in the United States and Canada. It is the season that marks the transition from summer to winter. I love Autumn. Have you noticed that as soon as the stores put the 4th of July things on clearance they are bringing out Halloween merchandise and before Labor Day is over the Christmas Decorations are beginning to fill the shelves.  Autumn is by far my favorite season.  In my next few posts I am going to address some of the activities, décor and foods that make this season so special to me.  So come to my Fall Party!

To inspire you with the things you think capture the essence of Fall for you try this exercise and share it with your friends and me of course!

Fall Alphabet Vocabulary:

A=autumn
B=bales of hay
C=cider
D=Dog days of summer
E=equinox(the autumnal one)
F=football
G=gourds
H=Halloween or hayrides
I=itch (this was hard but hay fever makes my eyes itch)
J=jackets
K=kettle (as in black kettles)
L=leaves (leaves of Fall colors-God‘s masterpiece)
M=maze (Corn mazes are lots of fun) and mums (my favorite fall flower)
N=November
O=October or orange
P=pumpkins
Q=quilts (at craft fairs and to keep warm)
R=rake
S=scarecrow
T=Thanksgiving
U=umbrella
V=vampire (costumes not the real thing)
W=walnuts
X=? I couldn’t think of a single one for Fall
Y=yellow
Z=zucchini

Stay tuned for loads of autumn inspiration….

campfire cooking

Campfire Cooking Made Easy

Cooking at the campground can be done over the campfire or on a camp stove. If you are going to cook over the campfire you need to make sure you have pots and pans with handles that can take the heat. For the recipes I am going to include for a weekend camp out you will need one large stock pot with lid, one skillet or griddle with a Teflon coating, one saucepan (larger if you have a large family) long tongs, ladle, metal pancake turner, metal coat hangers that have been straightened out(1 per person), heavy duty foil, quart size freezer bags with the sliders. You may also want to pack a coffee pot, French press and/or a tea kettle.
Breakfast #1 Egg Omelets In A Bag
Prepare ahead of time. Write each person in the families name on a quart size freezer bag. Crack 2 eggs in each bag. Add grated cheese. Add diced ham. Add whatever else you wish for each persons omelet( spinach, mushrooms, peppers, etc.). Freeze them if you have time. At the campsite you will fill large stock pot with water. When water is boiling place the thawed omelet bags in the boiling water and place lid on the pot for exactly 13 minutes. Remove with tongs and cut open and slide out onto a plate.
Breakfast#2 Pancakes and Sausage ( or bacon)
Prepare ahead of time. Purchase a pancake mix that only requires water added. I prefer Krusteaz Pancake Mix. Measure out the amount for a batch for your family or group. Place it in a freezer bag. Measure the amount of water to go along with the mix and put it in an empty squeeze bottle. (pancake or ketchup bottles work great). At the campsite pour the premeasured amount into the bottle and shake. Spray Pam on your griddle or skillet and you are ready to squeeze the batter into perfect circles. Prepare your sausage or bacon ahead of time and wrap in foil and place in gallon freezer bag and freeze. Then place the foil pack on the campfire grill or the camp stove when you begin fixing the pancakes. You can prepare it at the campsite but you will need two skillets or you will have to clean one before you begin the pancakes. I take butter in a tub and a small size pancake syrup for the pancakes.
Lunches and Dinners
#1 Hobo packs- place one foot sheets of foil on counter for each family member. Spray each sheet of foil with cooking spray. Press 1/4 to 1/3 lb. of ground round or ground turkey into a patty in the center of the foil. Season with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Place thinly sliced potatoes, carrots and onions on top of the meat. Place 1/4 cup frozen green beans on top and fold to meet in the middle lengthwise and then roll over until tight. Roll each end until tight. Place all hobo packets in gallon freezer bag and freeze. Hobo packs can be placed directly over a campfire on cooking grate for approximately 15-20 minutes per side.
#2 Campfire corn on the cob- to prepare ahead pull the husks back from the corn with out removing. Remove the silks. Butter and salt the corn. Add in other seasoning you choose. Pull the husks back up. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. To cook place directly over campfire grate. Rotate 2-3 minutes per side. The husks will get charred. When done pull the husks back and use them to hold onto the cob.
#3 Individual Frito Pies-

Frito pie in the bag
Frito pie in the bag

buy individual serving size bags of Fritos, 1-2 cans of Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce (or any brand of meat only chili sauce), 1 unopened package of grated cheddar cheese. At the campsite heat the Chili in sauce pan. Cut Frito bags long wise down the side. pour chili sauce into the bag and top with cheese. Don’t forget a can opener and scissors. For a variation you can make ahead taco meat and add salsa and lettuce and tomatoes or buy the prepackaged Hunts Manwich Sloppy Joe mix located in the meat section of most grocery stores.
#4 Traditional hot dogs over a campfire are always a hit. With buns, mustard, ketchup, relish and chips you have a great lunch. Add a can of baked beans and s’mores and you have a dinner. You can make traditional s’mores with graham crackers, chocolate bars and roasted marshmallows or try jazzing it up with a peanut butter cup. You can even do make ahead s’mores cones. Fill a waffle cone with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and mini peanut butter cups. Wrap them in foil and place on campfire grate. Remove foil and enjoy!

S'mores cone
S’mores cone

Easy Sides and Snacks to take along:
1. Pringles-they don’t get crushed
2. cookies or pretzels (put in air tight containers)
3. Jiffy Pop popcorn-fun for little children, it’s like a campfire magic show
4. Canned baked beans
5. Individual canned fruit
6. Velveeta shells and cheese dinner- boil pasta and add cheese mixture
7. Snack pack pudding
Well, I hope this gives you some helpful ideas, tips and inspiration. Just remember things may not go perfect on your camping trip but make sure everyone participates in some way. Try to keep the focus on the positive. When you are sitting around the fire before bed time have each member of the family say their favorite thing that happened that day and the funniest thing that happened that day. Even if you decide camping is not something your family is going to do on a regular basis you will have created some lasting memories.

Summer Vacation Is Almost Over-Time For One More Campout!

Summer vacation is almost over and there is time for at least one campout. Camping is one of the best ways to create family memories.  There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire in the evening telling stories and waking up to a home cooked breakfast in the morning.  Some of my favorite memories growing up are of when my family and three or four other families camped together at the campground.  There were anywhere from eight to ten kids and we had a blast.  Once we had a scavenger hunt through the campground and we always rode bicycles, played card games and then sang songs as we walked through the campground after dark.

My husband and I both loved to camp and for our first vacation after we married we camped in the Smokey Mountains.  We invested in a tent and camping gear and when our boys were very young we began taking them camping.  We had a campout alone as a family, with other families and with our church.  Sometimes we went to the lake campgrounds or the river but, our boys even had a campout in the back yard.  It is a great way to have a fun sleep over boys birthday party.

So, I know a lot of adults say their idea of camping is at hotel overlooking the lake and ordering room service.  However, what kid doesn’t love to use blankets and chairs to make a tent.  The problem with only taking hotel vacations is you never get away from the television, cell phones or X-box.  You really don’t have to buy all the gear to have one awesome experience.  You can borrow a tent, camp stove and lantern from a friend, rent a cabin(no t.v.) or declare an electronic free night and sleep under the stars on your own back porch.  Even if you decide to buy a tent and the basics it will be less expensive than a hotel room for two nights!

Okay, I’m going to assume you are thinking a form of camping is an option so I’m going to divulge my tips for making it really simple.

  1. Take plenty of flashlights for everyone with fresh batteries and some extras.  Headlamps work best for small children so it points where they are looking.
  2. Prep all the food items you are going to take before you leave.  Freeze as many as you can.  (I will give specific recipes and tips in the next post)
  3. If you have never been on a campout before it’s loads of fun to go with another family.  The biggest issue is to have some planned activities so kids aren’t bored.  For daytime take gear for swimming, fishing, hula hoops, bicycles, and other outdoor activities.  Take games that you can play by the light of a lantern such as cards, Yahtzee or Dominos.  Reading books is a good option if it’s too cool to go in the water.
  4. It may seem obvious to many but there is no toilet paper or soap at a campground so bring your own.  You can make a hand washing station out of an empty detergent bottle that has a spigot.  Use a bungee cord or a rope to attach a paper towel holder to the top.  There are usually water spigots throughout a campground but your site may not be near one. http://http://www.ehhd.org/filestorage/101/308/hand_wash_station_example.jpg
  5. Take plenty of drinking water and jugs of water for cooking.  You can freeze water in jugs to put in your cooler with your food instead of ice and it will keep the food from getting wet.  Then use those jugs for your cooking and drinking water. Take a second cooler with ice for drinks.
  6. When you book a camping site, ( I recommend doing this as we have gone camping spur of the moment before without a reservation and the campground was full) it is important to ask what services are available.  Some have bath houses where there are showers.  Some campgrounds have a store where you can get ice and firewood.  *To make fire starters you can roll up some newspapers loosely and tie them with string or put charcoal briquettes in a cardboard egg carton.
  7. If you are borrowing or renting a tent or pop up tent and you don’t want to invest in sleeping bags you can buy inexpensive blow up air mattresses and cover them with a comforter or quilt to lay on.  Bring extra sheets and blankets for covering.  Socks to sleep in will keep you comfortable all night.  To keep your bedding clean in a tent bring a throw rug, carpet scrap or old towel to put just outside the tent door.
  8. You never want to take a gas or kerosene lantern into a tent.  An inexpensive way to have a little light when you are settling in to bed is to take a gallon water jug and put a headlamp around it and point the lamp towards the jug.  It will emit a hands free glow.  Glow sticks in a jar or 2 liter filled with water will also work but you can’t turn them off when you are ready.
  9. And of course, don’t forget the bug spray, sunscreen and folding or lounge chairs.

So I covered all the basics for camping for beginners.  If you decide your family is well suited to camping and you want to camp more often or if you are planning a full week of camping you may want to invest in a few other items to make your experience great!  I would suggest going to Bass Pro Shops or visiting www.basspro.com.

In the next post I will share my easy inexpensive tips to have great food while camping and still have time for the cook to have fun!

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Going back to the memories of childhood special occasions other than the usual birthday party or family holiday gathering my most vivid memories were when my parents had bridge club.  Even though it wasn’t a party for me and my sister, Jacque, we always liked bridge club at our house.  When bridge club was at one of the other couples house we had a baby sitter and our usual bed time.  When it was at our house we had special treats and could stay up later playing games or watching television.

My mother was not the typical “June Cleaver” mom like most of my friends.  She worked full time so we didn’t have homemade cookies and cakes very often but when bridge club was at our house she always made Nestle Toll House cookies or Rice Krispie Treats.  In those days you had to make them from scratch (no pull-a-parts in the dairy case or microwave directions). I remember her making meatballs in the oven from scratch and cocktail wieners in barbeque sauce on the stove and keeping them warm on a hot plate or in a fondue pot.  Yes, those were special times with toothpicks adorned with hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds and napkins and scorecards to match at each place setting.  I can still remember begging my mother for a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven and having to wait for it to cool a bit.  As a kid that was sheer torture!

Fast forward a few years and I was a busy working mom with 2 boys involved in after school activities, church activities and I was active in the business community with my husband.   I remembered how special it was to have hot cookies and home cooked meals and decided to figure out a way to make that happen for my boys even when it seemed there wasn’t enough time in the day. I discovered Nestle Toll House refrigerated dough.  I kept it on hand along with parchment paper and would make just a few cookies at a time so the boys could  have a fresh warm cookie even if I hadn’t been home all day.  I used meatballs from the freezer section instead of homemade and made Rice Krispie Treats in the microwave and learned to adapt tons of recipes for the crock pot.

Today I use all the tips and wisdom from family, cooking shows, Pinterest and a few secrets of my own to bless my family and friends with food and fun!