DIY – Paint Dipped Holiday Pinecones

No grocery post this week. Partially because I’ll be at my parents house for the holiday, and partially because I’ve been fighting off a terrible cold. Just when I think I’m getting better, it takes a turn for the worse. I ended up taking Friday off of work, and I slept away most of the weekend. Ugh…I just want to feel better already. So instead of my grocery challenge update this week, I have an easy little DIY that I did a few weeks ago.

These would be great on a holiday table, mantle, or use them for place cards by tucking a little piece of paper with your guest’s name into the top.

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Last year I purchased a bag of Cinnamon Pinecones during the holidays. I love the scent so much that I left them out all year. I’ve used them in a variety of crafts and they work with a rustic decor year round. You can just spritz them with a little cinnamon oil when they need to be refreshed.

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You don’t need the cinnamon scented ones for this project. Use whatever pinecones you can find outside. If necessary, let them dry out for a few days. If you think there are any little bugs in there, toss them in a plastic bag, and store them in the freezer overnight.

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Next, grab some paint. I used some bronze, gold, and silver paint that I already had, so the project ended up being free. Golden is my favorite brand of paint for shimmery metallic finishes. They are an ‘art’ paint, not craft paint, so they are more expensive.

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Paint the outer third of each scale. I also painted the outer ‘pointy’ edge so that the scales appeared ‘dipped’ in paint. I found it easiest to work from the bottom up.

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I finished all three pinecones in about 20 minutes. It was easy and so versatile. How fun would these be painted with fluorescent paint and used for a spring mantle! You could also attach a string or ornament hanger and use them to decorate your tree.

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 Paint Dipped Pinecone_8

If you want a little sheen, you could spray the finished pinecone with an acrylic sealer.

Easy Rustic Homemade Bread

I have to thank Pinterest for this discovery. While it’s a total time suck (pinterest, not the bread)…I do love looking at the pretty pictures, and I’ve found many of great DIY and recipe ideas. Making homemade (yeast based) bread has always been a bit of a baking pipe dream for me. It always seems too hard to figure out the right temperature to keep the yeast alive…or maybe I was just too lazy.

Yeah, apparently I’ve just been too lazy…because I MADE THIS LOAF OF BREAD!!!

Easy Rustic Bread_1

…and ate it all by myself (not as proud of that fact though).

Easy Rustic Bread_2

I followed the recipe by Simply So Good, and it was incredibly easy. In fact the hardest part was locating the Instant Yeast. I wasn’t able to find it in any local store, but finally scored some through Amazon. The instant yeast is a baking miracle, since it doesn’t require a special liquid temp. In fact I was sure that I screwed up the recipe since the dough seemed drier than it should be, but it worked!

Easy Rustic Bread_3

I didn’t round the ball of dough very well, so the finished product was a bit flat. However, it was crusty, dense and absolutely delicious. I kept it simple and just went with butter most of the time, but I did break out my stash of apple butter and pineapple butter!

Yes, I said PINEAPPLE BUTTER! It’s Amazing.

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*Baking yeast link is affiliate, but I was not provided with product or paid for any type of review.

Etsy Finds Friday – Party!

‘Tis the season to PARTY!

Whether it’s a Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, etc…

Whether you spend it with family, friends, or coworkers…

No matter what you’re celebrating, it’s the time of year to gather some friends, make a spiked punch, and enjoy some good food.  

So you’ve got food…drinks…and friends (bribe them with the food and drinks if necessary)…now you needs some party accessories.

Here are three of my favorite shops for some party extras. 


Jess at EVERLYLANE designs makes stunning handmade tassel garland (and other great party goods).  How fun would it be to use these not only for a holiday party, but also to add some whimsy to a kids room (or my room!). Love so many of her color combos, great for any type of celebration.

Not Necessarily Nude 27 Sparkle & Shine Tissue Tassel Garland RAINBOW brite 28 Sparkle & Shine Tissue Tassel Garland

Spiders and Sparkles Halloween 5 Fancy Frill Fans Tissue Garland



Vintage Confections

Is there anything that say “HAPPY NEW YEARS” more than some Champagne? Yes, it’s the edible star studded champagne flavored lollipops by Vintage Confections. Enough said.

*They are moving their shop right now, so their stock is limited in November.

Champagne toast with gold stars - 6 pc. by Vintage Confections - MADE TO ORDER

3" fancy filigree letter monogram hard candy lollipops as seen in Dylan Lauren's bridal shower featured in Martha Stewart Weddings May 2011 Cherry vanilla - bubble gum ball style hard candy lollipops - 6 pc. - MADE TO ORDER


Beve! by Lauren Fish

Growing up we had themed party plates, cups, tablecloths, & toys…but never did we have these fun straws! Lauren has almost any color you could want. They would look amazing set out with mason jars for you guests.  I would go pink/green for a fun pop for Christmas, and the navy/pink would be perfect for a gender reveal baby shower!

 Hot Pink and Bright Green Paper Straws, Pack of 50, Vera Bradley-esque, Skinny Stripe   Purple Striped Paper Straw, Pack of 50, Violet Paper Straws

200 Paper Straws, Coral Dot & Navy Stripe Mix


What are your go to resources for party supplies?

Grocery Challenge – Nov 12-18

Grocery Challenge 11_12-18

Budget $50

Paid $48.18

Amount put into Savings: $1.82

I’m eating down the fridge this week so I didn’t need much in the way of dairy or meat. I have a stash of frozen ground turkey from a sale a few weeks back that will turn into chili later this week. I’m also making use of several other freezer staples that I already had such as; shrimp, fish, turkey meatballs,green beans, and a premade butternut squash risotto from Trader Joes. I should also point out, this weeks haul is lacking green because I still have fresh broccoli and spinach from last week, and some frozen green beans that I’ll use.

This week I’m also trying my hand at making homemade bread and homemade flour tortillas. I also bought ingredients to make a grain free granola that I want to use in oatmeal and yogurt.

Last week I got pizza for dinner one night so I used money from my grocery fund to pay for it. ($6.97 – not listed but added into the ‘Paid’ calculation)

Oh…and yes…my dog really will eat all 5lbs of those carrots. I’m not allowed a single one, unless I like getting the evil puppy eye. (I don’t, by they way).

This weeks dinner menu:

  • Pesto Potatoes with Runny Eggs
  • Baked Risotto with Bacon and Peas
  • Honey Shrimp over Brown Rice & Roasted Veggies
  • Spaghetti with Pesto and Turkey Meatballs & Salad
  • Sea Salt Mahi Mahi & Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Honey Dijon Grilled Chicken & Roasted Veggies
  • Homemade Chili

Groceries purchased (from Target, Henrys, Albertsons):

  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Refried Black Beans
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Garlic (3)
  • Onion
  • Avocado (3)
  • Oranges (2)
  • Mushrooms
  • Banana
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • White Sesame Seeds
  • Unsweetened Coconut
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Unsalted Pepitas
  • Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • Chili Beans (not pictured)
  • Chili, no beans (no pictured)
  • Taco Seasoning (not pictured)

I’m Feeling Inspired – There’s a Chill in the Air

This year has flown by, and the weather is finally catching up. It’s been in the low 40’s and high 30’s at night lately. I’m loving every sweater wearing second of it. I just wish it had felt like Autumn longer, it’s my favorite season. Until last week it’s been in the 90-100’s. Great for summer, but 95 degrees in November? REALLY?

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Fun Fact – I’ve actually visited this waterfall in Oregon. Me and some coworkers visited during a work trip and totally miscalculated how long it would take to reach the top. We ended up climbing back down in complete darkness, our path lighted by the screen of our cell phones.

Good Times!

Eco Challenge – Humane Mouse Trap

*What was meant as a March monthly challenge, has continued throughout the year, and every so often I’ll keep popping in with these Eco Challenge posts.

About a week ago I found evidence that I had a mouse in my pantry. I’m still not sure how he got inside since it’s on the second floor, but I suppose my dog is not really an efficient mouse trap. I’m fairly certain that he’d be up on that chair with me, screaming like a little girl.

Once I manned up, I realized I need to get the mouse out. Particularly because it was spending an obscene amount of time each night ruining the potatoes that were suppose to be my lunch.

I couldn’t stand the thought of using a standard snap trap or sticky traps. I also wasn’t a fan of the poison traps, I really didn’t want to hurt the little guy. So after doing a little research, I found the Smart Mouse Trap – Humane Mousetrap on Amazon. It had great reviews and seemed easy to use. (They didn’t comp me this product, I paid for it out of pocket. They have no idea who I am).

It’s a small green plastic house that uses simple mechanics to trap the mouse without harming it. Of course you need to check the trap often so the mouse doesn’t starve or dehydrate to death, but otherwise it will be safe and alive.

To set the trap, you put some peanut butter on a saltine and place it in a slot on the left hand side of the trap. The mouse walks into the house from the right, to get the PB Saltine, and trips the trap which closes the door behind it.

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I set mine in the afternoon, and by the next day, I had caught the tiny little field mouse. I’ve had several hamsters as pets in the past, so mice don’t really freak me out; and while I certainly had no intention of playing with it, I refused to kill it. This option felt kinder than others, and while the little guy was rightfully very scared, he was not harmed at all.

Humane Mouse Trap_1

I was able to take the trap outside in a grassy area away from the house, and let him go. I removed the side wall, revealing the saltine to the mouse. Once the mouse eats through the cracker he is free! It’s built in this manner to keep fingers away from the mouse so it doesn’t bite you, thus making it easier to release it safely.

Now…here’s hoping he doesn’t come back for the free potatoes and PB Saltines!


*This post does contain affiliate links.

NaNoWriMo 2012


I love November for a lot of reasons. Thanksgiving, Office Holidays, Black Friday, and the start of cooler temperatures top the list. It’s also that exciting time of year when over quarter of a million people come together and attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. It doesn’t have to be perfect, edited, or pretty…just get the words down. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the last few years and haven’t yet succeeded in accomplishing the 50,000 word goal.

I think this is the year!

I explained the program in a little more detail last year. 50,000 words is a bit daunting, but if you break it down to daily counts, it feels more achievable. Also, if you set up your location on their site, it will email you notices of event and writing meet-ups in your area. It’s a very cool feature to meet writers in you local area.


Who’s in with me? Anyone else ever participated before?

Grocery Challenge Is Back!

Earlier this year I stared a grocery challenge to keep each weeks grocery cost under $40. At the time my company was going through layoffs and I didn’t know if I would be directly affected, and left without a job so I thought the most responsible thing was to start reigning in expenses.  Now that I’m starting my own businesses and trying to transition into a new career, I feel I need to do the same. So I’ve decided to bring the grocery challenge back.

A few things to note:

  • I currently have a decently stocked pantry so the weekly shopping does not include everything that I will eat that week.
  • The budget is for 1 person (& 1 pup). For treats, my dog eats carrots and homemade snacks, so those ingredients will be included in my grocery budget until he starts bringing in his own dough (ha!). It’s ok, he pays me in kisses.
  • I do coupon when possible and paid for 2 Sunday papers at the start of the year. LA Times offered a great deal around Christmas last year that cost $10 for a year’s worth of Sunday papers. I bought 2 subscriptions which are delivered to my house each week.
  • I do most of my shopping at Trader Joes & Target (I get the 5% off at Target using my Red Debit Card + coupon savings). Occasionally I shop at Albertsons, Henrys, Fresh & Easy, and Costco.
  • Weekly budget is $50. Any money left over goes into a little savings jar at home to be collected at the end of the year. That money will be either put into savings, used for holiday gifts, or given to charity. If I were to spend only $45 each week and tuck the remaining $5 away, I’d have about $260 at the end of a full year. That would cover most if not all of my Christmas shopping/shipping, or provide a little holiday relief for a local charity.


So without further adieu…this weeks grocery shopping. I spent a total of $43.36 and shopped at Trader Joe’s and Target. $6.64 went into the piggy bank at home. Here’s the haul.

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Healthfull 10 Grain Bread

Whole Wheat Naan

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Multigrain Pita Crackers

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3lbs Russet Potatoes

Fingerling Potatoes


Acorn Squash

Baby Spinach

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Cage Free Eggs

Albacore Tuna (3)

Tyson Grilled Chicken

Tyson Grilled Steak

Cooked Chicken Breasts

Quart of Milk (not pictured)


I don’t typically purchase so much ready made chicken/steak/tuna, but I expect this week to be busy with work and I can ensure I eat healthier if I have some pre-made options on hand. I do want to say that the Trader Joe’s Cooked Chicken breasts are great, I do buy those regularly. You get about 4 in a package and they are easy to add to a salad, sandwiches, and pastas throughout the week.


Anyone else doing a grocery challenge? I’m considering hosting a link party for others to share their posts, so we can all learn from each other, if there is any interest.


For any US readers out there, if you are of voting age…make sure you VOTE tomorrow!

CrockPot Fruit Butter eBook is now Available!

It’s finally here!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that the Crock-Pot Fruit Butter eBook is done and up for sale. After several months of recipe creating and tasting, I’ve collected 17 delicious Fruit Butter recipes. Sixteen of which have NEVER been featured on the blog and will only be offered in this book.

In addition to full color pictures of every single recipe, I’ve included a chapter on serving suggestions which features my super easy favorite dessert (Hawaiian Angel Cake, anyone?).

Cover Page Collage_3

The eBook is available for download and costs $5. Immediately after payment you will have the opportunity to download the PDF eBook from a third party site [I’ve personally tested the purchasing process, it’s easy, safe, and secure]. The download link will also be emailed to you after purchase.


Price/$5 USD

Add to Cart


The book contains a collection of ‘classic’ flavors including…

  • Cider Apple Butter (an easy variation of the original favorite)
  • 2 different Pumpkin Butters
  • 2 different Peach Butters
  • Multiple Berries (Cherry, Blueberry, Raspberry, etc)
  • Pineapple Butter [It’s Incredible…My absolute favorite!]


…along with some unique and delicious combos, such as…

  • Carrot Cake Butter
  • Banana Bread Butter
  • Gingerbread Butter
  • Chile Mango Butter
  • …and more!


Since I know we don’t all have the luxury of our favorite FRESH fruit available year round, several of the recipes were made using only frozen or dried fruit. I’ve also included a general cooking formula that you can follow if you want to try making fruit butter that isn’t featured in the book. Try making your own creations, I’d love to know the success stories!


Questions? Success Stories?

I’ve set up a separate email address from the blog, to ensure I can address any inquires as quickly as possible. If there are multiple questions, I’ll create a FAQ for the book and post it on this page.


I sincerely hope you enjoy the recipes as much as I do.