Tuesday, September 30, 2014

'Tis The Season To Be Spooky!

This time of the year makes me feel like a giddy little school girl.  I absolutely LOVE all things October/November.  I know, I know...I sound like every other person when I say it, but it's true. I'm notsomuch a fan of the "all things pumpkin" movement...although I do love a good chocolate chip pumpkin muffin...but I love the feeling this time of the year evokes.

For me, this time of the year reminds me of my childhood.  It reminds me of my Mawmaw's homemade pasta...Thanksgiving dinners at Grandma & Grandpa's...my mom's homemade costumes {there were 4 of us to dress-up}...kicking my way through crunchy leaf piles at Grandma Gloria's...trick-or-treating with my cousins...Halloween carnivals & parties at school.  The list could go on.  

I anticipate Fall decorating as soon as school starts.  I'd decorate in August if I could.  Not because I want to rush through life and get on with the next thing, but because I love that feeling I get when this time of the year starts to settle.  I definitely decorate way too early...and I have no plans of changing that any time in the near future.  My boys love it...I love it...and {thankfully} we don't get tired of it...we just like to enjoy the heck out of it for as long as we can :)

This year I started my Halloween decorating the 2nd weekend of September. I love a little holiday creep ;)  I changed things up just a little from last year's display.  I added a few new things...tossed a few things out {those darn squirrels in the attic mangled a few of my things...thank you, country living}...and changed a few things around.  Overall, I'm lovin' it.  I think I like decorating for Halloween more so than Fall because it lends itself to being a little whimsical with the decor...and I really, really love the orange/black/white combo!  Plus, I have a plethora of random Halloween stuff and I sure don't want it to go to waste :)  

Here's this year's mantle...

When I buy seasonal decor, I most usually don't have any idea where I'm going to put it.  As I was unpacking all of my Halloween stuff, I realized I had quite a few 31's, so I figured I'd display those together.  I think there's definitely power in a collection...especially when that collection is displayed together.  

Those white shutters tend to be a permanent fixture on my mantle throughout the year because they give a little height to that space.  Our fireplace goes all the way to the ceiling and the shutters seem to do a pretty good job of centering everything.  I propped up an old window pane in front of the shutters and then draped cheesecloth over it.  I love the way it turned out.

I drew the 31 on the white chalkboard.  The circular 31 that's hanging was a fun find at Ross last year.  I got it for $3.99!!!  I saw the same one at Kirkland's last year...a little bigger maybe??...for a lot more!  I love getting a good steal!  I found the large black and white October 31 sign at Marshall's a couple of weeks ago {$12.99}.  They had it in orange and black, too! 

I made the standing 31 with paper mache numbers, scrapbook paper, mod podge, and a distressing ink pad.  SUPER simple.  I also made the glittery 31 that's adhered to the damask board.  I just took a plain wooden square {Michael's}, painted it black, then mod podged the top with the damask paper, distressed the edges with the distressing ink pad, and then hot glued the numbers to the top.  First, I painted the numbers orange and rolled them in fine orange glitter.

The banner was from Michaels {last year} as were the cheesecloth & glittered spiders.  The jack o'man, the pumpkin sitting on the candlestick, and the BOO sign are all from Hobby Lobby.  I don't like paying full price for anything and was so excited to find those after Halloween one year for 75% off!!   That sweet little pumpkin man on the pedestal next to the black & white 31 sign was from Marshall's this year...$6!!!!  I love him!!!

This little display is sitting on a tray on my coffee table.  Speaking of coffee tables, my brother is building me a new one and I can't wait!  We've had this one for the last 10 years and well...it's about time to retire this one to the game room.  The sweet little Jack with the witch hat was from Hobby Lobby.  It used to stand on a pedestal, but my boys were playing, knocked it down, and it broke.  I actually like it this way  little better!  The cloche is from Hobby Lobby and the pumpkins inside were a fun find at Marshall's.  I think I got a whole box of them for $6!!    The tall apothecary jar is filled with moss covered stones {Dollar Tree} and a little pumpkin that didn't have a home.

I have built-in's flanking both sides of my mantle and they're a beast to try and decorate.  I don't have near enough to fill the shelves with Halloween or Fall decor, so it's all spread out and not cohesive whatsoever.  I need to work on that.  However, I did take a few of my white pitchers from my ever growing collection and I grouped them together with this little Happy Halloween sign {Dillard's last year, I think} and displayed them above our TV.  It's not my favorite, but it's growing on me. It needs more color, for sure.

In the room right next to my living area I have these bookshelves on either side of our little couch.  I know these little jack o'lanterns are cheesy, but Lawd...I love 'em!!!  

This little arrangement is sitting on the coffee table in that same room.  Don't ask what the purpose of that room is.  Really...right now...it's just a sitting area.  The layout of this house still confuses me.

Right across from our sitting space is our "formal" dining area. We have a very open floor plan so you can see all the main rooms from...well...every room.  

These sweet little bats are from the Martha Stewart collection {Michaels}.  Those sticky dots they came with were a joke.  I put them up last year and they all fell down the next day.  This year I have them sticking up with painter's tape.  So far, so good.

I didn't change much about this set up from last year's.  However, I decided to forego the spanish moss this year because my boys enjoyed using it last year as toy.  I was finding random bits of spanish moss throughout the house for MONTHS!!!  Ha!!!  This year I just used a little cheesecloth which I probably could've omitted, too.  But I like it.

The table runner was a new find this year!  I LOVE Marshall's!!!  It was $12 and a great little addition to this little "tablescape".  Is that what you'd call this?!?!?!  Or centerpiece?!!?!  Whatever.  

Right next to the dining room table is this little corner table.  I recently painted it yellow and I'm a little obsessed.  I like having completely random pieces of furniture in the house.  Here's my theory on decorating...decorate with what YOU like.  It's too hard to keep up with the trends and I'm definitely not trendy enough to try.  If you like it, use it :)

I found the mercury glass poison bottle at Marshall's {$7} as well as the burlap covered trick or treat sign {$5}.  The black skull and crow are from the Dollar Tree.

I have this turquoise table set up on the wall right across from the yellow table.  Talk about color clash...but I love it.  All the colors tie in with my curtains, so that's how I justify the randomness :)
This little vignette is a hot mess and I'll probably be changing it up.  I got the sign and the cloche from Marshall's last year {shocker!}

This little table recently got a face lift.  It was brown and I painted it white...now I just need to go in and distress it.  All that aside, here's the random set up here, too.  I'm not a huge fan, but it's growing on me.  It's a space I never know how to decorate.  Grrrr.

The cute witch feet were from Kirkland's a few years ago.  I love them.  I found that Harvest subway art a few years ago at Marshall's for a whopping $3!  I was so excited!  I put my Queen of Halloween sign on top of an old distressed shutter I had lying around and now looking at it I can see that it's slightly askew.  Dangit.  How'd I not notice that?!?!  The big BOO was a fun find from Wal Mart just last week...$3!!!! 

Moving into the kitchen....
This is the only thing I've got set up.  Our kitchen is pretty open, so I don't need much in this area.  And now I'm realizing that my pumpkin blends in with the granite.  #decoratingfail

Mr. Spouse built these shelves for me and they're still a couple of my favorite pieces.  I never really know how to decorate these either, but here's how they look this year...

If you saw my Halloween post last year, you might remember my scary little Halloween boy.  Mr. Spouse says that this figurine gives him nightmares {{{shudder}}}.  I like to torture him with it.  Last year it was on the mantle and it watched him as he cozily sat on the couch watching TV.  He requested I not put it there again.  Now it sits in the kitchen watching him eat dinner instead :)  This little guy makes me laugh every time I look at him.  #winning

And here's my latest little chalkboard.  I'm kinda lovin' this one!!!  

Next week I'll be posting my Halloween porch decor :)  I'd do it today, but I haven't started on it yet...hahahaha.  I'm hoping I can cross that off my to-do list this weekend!!!  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Something to Snap You Out of Your Monday Blues

Happy Monday!  Is it?!?  Or do you have a case of the Monday blues?!  If you do, I think I have a little something that might get you out of your funk.

My dad and I share the same love of food.  He makes the absolute most AMAZING brisket your taste buds could ever enjoy.  But that's a whole other post in and of itself.  We love finding new recipes and sharing different ways we can trick ‘em up.  A while back my dad was telling me all about a recipe he found that he wanted to try.  We talked about how we could add a few things and make it even better than it sounded.  Well, I switched the original recipe up just a bit, and ohmiword. This was one of the tastiest things I've ever put in my mouth. I ate it for dessert one night and then had a few helpings for breakfast the next day.  And I might have polished off the entire plate and made a new one so that my family could actually enjoy the deliciousness, too.  Could.not.get.e.nough.

1 can apple pie filling
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tube Pillsbury Grand Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls {with regular or cream cheese frosting…I used regular}
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Let's not wait another second to get this flavor party started.

Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9 in. pie pan.

Mix together apple pie filling and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Spread a thin layer of the filling onto the bottom of a well greased, 9-in. pie pan.  Combine the melted butter and brown sugar and set it & the remaining filling aside.

Now, separate the cinnamon roll dough into 8 rolls and cut each roll into 1/4ths.

Place the quartered rolls into a large bowl and add remaining apple pie filling.   Add the brown sugar/melted butter mixture and toss gently to combine with the apple pie filling.

Now spoon the cinnamon roll mixture over the layer of apples in the pie pan.

Bake at 350 for about 28-32 minutes or until a deep, golden brown.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes and invert onto a serving platter or large plate/dish.  This is what it'll look like...

Remove the lid from the frosting container and microwave for about 10-15 seconds or until it’s a drizzling consistency.  Then drizzle over the warm cinnamon apple coffee cake…


I wish I could tell you that I was kidding about polishing off an entire plate.  This was a definite winner with Mr. Spouse and my youngest little man.  My oldest is that eater who doesn't like foods to touch...you know, like corn touching mashed potatoes.  He adores apples.  LOVES cinnamon rolls.  But he absolutely couldn't get over that they were mixed together.  He doesn't even know what he's missing!!!!  Most parents would be thrilled that their child doesn't  want to partake in stuffing themselves with a heaping serving of sugar...not me.  I just want him to TRY it....just try it!!  FOR THE LOVE!!!!  But again...that's a whole other post in and of itself.

This little number makes a great dessert and an even better breakfast.  We had the family in town last weekend and I served this as a dessert to follow our taco spaghetti.  There wasn't a bite left on the plate...darnit!!  I mean, GREAT!  But dangit...I was really wanting a few bites leftover for my midnight snack.  If this isn't something that makes your Monday a little brighter, I'm really not sure what will ;)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

After School Special

So this little recipe is an oldie, but goodie.  I posted this one about 3 years ago, but we just had it again for dinner the other night and I figured it would be a good excuse to update those hideous, unappetizing pictures.  {I know these aren't much better, but trust me when I say they're not nearly as icky}.  Yuck.  Our little family loves this dish!  {By "our little family", I mean me & Mr. Spouse.  I long for the day that my boys will touch my dinners with a ten foot pole.}

While my sweet friend, Courtney, & I wait for our walkers to go home after school, we talk about FOOD!  I think that’s our favorite  subject ;)  We like to exchange recipes & the other day she was tellin’ me about a recipe I just HAD to make!  Courtney likes this one because you can make it all in ONE pot!!  HA!!  I like the way she rolls :)  Adam liked it so much he had leftovers the next day and he very RARELY eats leftovers.  Thanks for the DELISH recipe Courtney!!!


2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 chicken breasts, cubed {small bite-sized pieces}
1 pkg. frozen corn
1 can Rotel {original}
sliced black olives, to taste {optional}
Cooked Rice {I made 2 boil-in-a-bags :)}

Let's get this skillet party started.

Take 2-3 chicken breasts and cut them into bite-sized pieces and chop up your onion.

Add olive oil to your skillet and heat on medium high.  Add chicken, onion, & garlic.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir often and simmer until chicken is cooked through.  Once the chicken is ready, drain the oil and return chicken/garlic/onion to pan.

Add Rotel & frozen corn.  Simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often. As you can see, we didn’t add the olives.  Adam decided to veto that portion of the recipe because he’s not a fan.  Courtney said it’s REALLY good with the olives!!  I’ll have to try it when he’s not around :)

Turn off heat and add 1 – 1 1/2 cups of cheese....or more.  Whatever floats your boat.  We used Colby & Monterrey Jack :)  Stir until cheese is well blended & melted. 

Now, if you know how to make rice, kudos to you.  I DON’T.  SO…I made two bags of boil-in-a-bag rice.  Quick & easy.  Add the skillet chicken mix to the rice & stir.  OLE!   SO flippin’ yummy.  The corn adds a little sweetness that I wasn’t expecting…m-m-m-m-m.  This meal is definitely a keeper!!!!  And Courtney was SO right…I love it even more because I can make it all in one skillet!  Easy weeknight dinners requiring minimal dirty dishes are my absolute favorite :)  I think you might agree, too!

And I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals today for her monthly Recipe Club.  There are some good ones over there, so y'all head over and check 'em out!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roll It Up

I'm all about simple and easy breakfast ideas. I love waking up in the morning to cook for my boys and I REALLY love making them things that don't take me too long to prep.  I'm not really a morning person...by any stretch of the means...so I try to sleep as far past as my alarm rings as I possibly can without being late to school.  Those mornings that I sleep in a bit, I need those quick and easy recipes.  When I found this one, I knew it would fit the bill.  

I'm not much of a breakfast person.  I prefer a liquid diet in the morning.  Lots and lots of coffee, a splash of milk, and a sprinkle of Stevia.  It's taken me a LOOOOONG time to get off the flavored creamers.  Mr. Spouse keeps telling me I'm a step a way from drinking it black.  Uhhhh...I don't think so.  But I digress.  When I make these little cinnamon rolls...which is now at least twice a week...I have to have one.  I mean, I can't let them go to waste, right?!  I love anything made with a crescent and this little number is no exception.  And then with the addition of chocolate chips & cinnamon sugar?!  Fuggedaboudit.  

via A Night Owl

1 refrigerated can of Crescent Rolls
2 TBSP. butter, melted
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 TBSP. cinnamon
mini chocolate chips

VANILLA GLAZE {optional}
2 TBSP. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease a cake pan.   Now roll out the crescent roll dough and mix your cinnamon and sugar until combined.

Make sure to use the crescent ROUNDS and not the original crescents.  I tried that...and my house almost burnt down.  Waking the boys up to a kitchen filled with smoke is no way to start the day.  

Melt your butter and spread it along the inside of the dough and sprinkle it with your cinnamon sugar mix.  You can be as generous with your sprinkling as you want.  

Then go ahead and sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips.  Don't by shy with these either.

Now roll up your dough, pinch the seams to seal the rolls, and place it in your lightly greased pan.  Make sure not to place them too close together...about an inch or two apart.

Bake at 350 for about 15-17 minutes.  Mine baked perfectly closer to 13 minutes.  While your rolls are baking go ahead and prep your vanilla glaze.  I personally thought the rolls were great without the glaze, but whoa...that extra sweetness sure made them tastier :) For the glaze, just mix all of your ingredients together in a small pot on the stove top and cook on medium-high heat...just long enough for the ingredients to combine and all the lumps disappear.  

Remove your rolls from the oven and serve as is...

OR drizzle the warm glaze over the top and devour every.last.bite.


My boys really do ask for these at least 2-3 times a week.  I don't always give in to their requests because I try to mix it up through the week, but dang...these really do hit the spot and it's hard not to want them every waking minute!!!  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Spice Girl

I love music.  ALL kinds of music.  Blues, rock, jazz, praise & worship, country, pop, indie, folk...you name it and I pretty much love it.  I would prefer to listen to music than watch TV...unless Sons of Anarchy is on and then it's all about the TV.  My husband would argue that I have poor taste in music because I have playlists that include cheesy boy bands from back in the day and random tunes with ridiculous lyrics.  I guess we can't all have great taste in everything ;)  As ashamed as I should be to admit this, I was once a fan of  the Spice Girls.  I could sing every word to every mainstream song and if I randomly hear them to this day, I can still recite every single lyric.  I lead a very, very exciting life.  

This recipe has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Spice Girls, but whenever I read or hear the word "spicy", something takes me back to 1998 and visions of platform boots and Union Jacks dance around in my mind.  So tell me what'cha want, what'cha really, really want...  You can thank me later for getting this song stuck in your head :)  


8 oz. fettuccine
2 TBSP. olive oil
1 TBSP. butter
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 {15oz.} can of diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper, to taste

This recipe is pretty quick and simple, so no prep pictures are included.  

First things first.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  
While the pasta cooks, mince your garlic & set aside. 
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove top.
While the olive oil & butter are heating, go ahead and peel your shrimp.  Honestly, you might wanna go ahead and do that before anything else because those little suckers take a few minutes to come out of their shells :)

Once the olive oil and butter are heated, add the raw shrimp and garlic.
Saute the shrimp for about 3-5 minutes {or until they're pink}.  
Remove the shrimp from the skilled and leave all the other goodness inside.  
Place the shrimp in a bowl and set them aside.  
Now add the tomatoes {don't drain!!} to the skillet  and toss in the cracked red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.   Let that simmer for about 5ish minutes.

Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and then toss in the shrimp and give it a good little mix.  I like my shrimp coated with the yummy tomato mix.

Now pour the tomato sauce & shrimp over the {drained} pasta and toss until it's all combined.

You can garnish your plate with a little chopped parsley and some shaved parmesan, but I opted out on both counts.  It was just perfect on it's own.  

This little dish packed the perfect amount of heat, too.  Not too mild.  Not too spicy.  Perfectly perfect.  The best part about this meal {aside from the outstanding flavor} was the amount of time it took from prep to plate.  I think I was in the kitchen for a total of *maybe* 20 minutes.  Those are the BEST kind of meals, for sure.  

I do think the addition of a little chopped chicken would be really delicious, too.  Shrimp is my personal favorite so I won't be making any adjustments.  If you're a fan of spicy sauces, seafood, and pasta....and quick meal prep...then you should definitely add this to your menu!  It won't disappoint!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Will NOT Keep the Doctor Away

In honor of "apple week" in the classroom, I thought it would be fitting to share with you a deliciously sinful recipe for a cake that calls for this juicy little fruit.

I love all things apple.  Honeycrisp are my most favorite variety.  There is nothing better...in my opinion...than a Honeycrisp apple.  Dip it in a little melted caramel and now your taste buds are havin' a party.  Circle E has the BEST Apple Strudel candle.  I mean, whoa...it makes your entire house smell like you've been in the kitchen all day baking apple pies.  AMAZING.

I'm a sucker for ANYTHING that involves apples.  I have a whole board dedicated to apple recipes...

I found this recipe in one of my Paula Deen cookbooks, so right away you know it's not going to be "light".  It's laden with lots of sugar and her signature staple....buttah.  And the best part is that it makes your house smell something amazing :)

2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups apples, diced

1 1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup of milk

First things first.  Preheat your oven to 350 and start dicing your apples.  I peeled mine first and then diced.  I used about 5 jazz apples and that was just the right amount.  

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, eggs, and oil {or as Paula would say, "AWL"}.  Add the flour to the mix....one cup at a time....and mix together until it's well blended.  Now add the vanilla and apples and mix until combined.  What you'll have now is a very heavy batter.  Get excited.  

Grease a 9x13 baking dish and evenly spread your batter into it.  

Bake at 350 for about 45-60 minutes {mine was closer to 55ish minutes}.  Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to see if it's done {toothpick should come out clean}.

Remove the cake from the oven and use a fork or knife to poke holes in it.  I just kept on pokin' until I couldn't poke anymore.

Give the cake about 15 minutes to cool.  While it's cooling, go ahead and make your caramel topping.  Place all of the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil on the stove top.  You'll wanna make sure you're stirring it consistently so that it doesn't stick to the pot.  Let it boil for a couple of minutes {while you stir} then remove from heat and pour it over your hole-poked cake.  


Paula delivers once again.  

Of course, my boys would have nothing to do with this cake.  Good.  More for me.  
This cake is really heavy and really rich and gooey all at the same time.  In all honesty, I only had one slice.  It was one of the tastiest slices of cake I've ever had, but my sweet tooth can only handle so much sweet.  

This would be a perfect little dessert to serve to a group because it's definitely a crowd pleaser.  Proceed with caution because this is definitely not what they meant when they said "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"!!!!  But it definitely doesn't disappoint your taste buds :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Makes Me Feel All Cozy Inside

I heard tales of the weather dipping below the 70's in parts of the U.S. this past weekend.  If you were part of that demographic, congrats to you.  I, however, was not.  I don't say that with a bad attitude because....truth be told...I'm a summer girl.  I would wear flip flops and tank tops all year long if I could.  That to be said, I do love Fall.  I love the nostalgia and comfort it encompasses.  However, I really don't enjoy the falling temps. Anything below 78{ish} is just a little too chilly for my South Texas blood.  

I promise I'll be saying something totally different to contradict these sentiments when it's mid-October and I'm envying all the posts on my Facebook feed...friends with lattes in hand, booties on the feet, fires in the fireplaces, and scarves around the neck.  Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying the last of my Summer Shandies by the pool all the while fending off the never dying mosquitoes wondering if the Fall weather will EVER {for the love already!!!!} find it's way to the coast.

It will be during those moments that I'll start willing on the cooler temps with my food.  I'll keep my Thanksgiving pants on standby while eating copious amounts of comfort foods in the form of hearty soups, chilis, and the occasional casserole.  That's just what I did this past weekend when I was envying all my out-of-state friends who were posting screenshots of their 50-70 degree weather updates.  I had to pretend I was living in conditions that warranted this dish just because I didn't want to feel left out.  Warm and cozy comfort food at its best...a perfect cool weather dinner!

{If you are offended by canned soups/processed food, stop reading now.  If you aren't, then I advise you to proceed with caution ;)}

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 TBSP. butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
3 ½ C. chicken broth
1 onion, diced
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 {10 oz.} can of biscuits

Place your chicken in the crock pot.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, soups, broth & onion.  Mix and pour over the chicken.  Toss in the bouillon cubes and stir.  Set crock pot on low, cover, and cook for about 8 hours.  At about the 7th hour, pull the chicken out of the crock pot, shred, and return to the pot.  Now take the biscuits and cut them into small{ish} pieces.  I cut mine into fourths and then cut the fourths in half.  I found that smaller pieces helped the biscuits to cook all the way through.  Toss the biscuit dough into the chicken mixture and stir.  Cover and cook for an additional hour {more if the dough is still gooey...it should be cooked all the way through!}

When the biscuits are cooked through it's all ready to serve :)  

This was the perfect cozy comfort food.  Super easy and oh so flavorful.  We eat at Cracker Barrel...a lot.  I mean, there's not much to choose from around here so that has become one of our staples.  Their chicken & dumplings is my most favorite meal ever and this rendition runs a close 2nd.  If you're lookin' for a little something to make you feel all cozy inside...heck, maybe even a little something that reminds you of the giant rocking chairs at Cracker Barrel...look no further!  This is a definite winner, winner chicken {& dumplings} dinner!