Cinnamon Stick Candle Holder

I'm not sure what my deal is the last two weeks, but I just feel like I'm lacking inspiration...mixed with feeling like I have a billion half-formed ideas. Anyone else ever feel this way?

I'm never sure why it happens, but it seems like my ideas are almost cyclical. I go from feeling like there isn't enough time in the day to complete all my crafts...I bounce from project to project...usually leaving scraps of this and that in my wake (poor hubby) and then I finally finish them all and I don't have any more ideas except those half-formed ones I have now. Unfortunately, those aren't any good until they cook a little more in my brain! (hehe) In a few days/weeks I'm sure I'll be making a disaster of my living room again, but for now, I'll just keep admiring all of your work!

I did make this recently..

I saw something similar to this project at a store in the mall, but it was $20 and I was SO not paying that. I found a big box of cinnamon stick vase filler at Target for $4.99 and went to town! I like how it came out, but I definitely need a red candle to go inside. (Thanks for the tip, mom!)

All I did was hot glue the cinnamon sticks around the dollar store vase, added another layer on top, and put two ribbons (one big, one little) around the middle to hide the crack between the layers. I made a cute little bow and there you have it! My first Christmas decoration of the season. Maybe now I will find a way out of my crafting funk.

Tomorrow I'll share what we did as a final farewell to all the pumpkins for the season! 
Hope to see you then! 


Banana Pumpkin Bread

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!! We celebrated at my aunt's house and it was soooo good.  We were missing some family members this year, which was super weird...but hopefully by Christmas we can all be together again! Dinner was delish...so was dessert. My favorite part though, was all the cousins sitting on a bed singing songs from Glee and watching youtube videos... haha. I know it doesn't sound too festive, but it was really nice to spend time with one another no matter what we were doing. 

After dinner, I broke out the Black Friday ads and devised my plan of attack. Khols, Penny's, NY&Co, Target, Macy's...and so many more. What great sales. My friend Katie and I spent 7 hours shopping at 2 different malls. We both ended up with a car load of stuff. Success!

Other than the fact that we were missing half of our usual Black Friday team, I think this was the best year for sales. (Or maybe it was just the first year I had money to spend..that probably helped)

Becky and Mama K, we missed you...and drank some pumpkin spice lattes in your honor! 

Awesome  friend + Amazing sales + Delicious Coffee = Best. Morning. Ever.

When I got home, I was craving this bread, so I thought I would share! 

I first made this recipe for a school party a few years ago and it was a HUGE hit! One of my co-teachers actually requested it for his birthday...which was 6 months away. Another asked if I could make it for the next day. Talk about boosting a baker's esteem! But seriously, this is some good bread. The next time I made it, I tried it in muffin form....and it was awesome too! Now I make it all the time, mostly as muffins, but I still do the loaf from time to time. 

Banana Pumpkin Bread


  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (I've used Splenda and it works fine)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (A wheat/white mix would work well with this one)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c mini chocolate chips  
Preheat your oven to 350. Grease an 9x5 inch loaf pan or place 24 muffin liners in a muffin tin. 
In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, eggs, applesauce, pumpkin, honey and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pie spice and cinnamon, stir into the banana mixture until moist. Do not over mix, the bread can get tough. Add chocolate chips, or nuts, or whatever you like! 
Pour into pan or muffin liners and bake for 45 minutes for bread, or 18-25 for muffins. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when these are finished. 


Thanks for visiting!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Sweet Potato-Apple Bake

I cannot believe that it is Thanksgiving already. Doesn't it seem like this year flew by? I hope that you all enjoy an awesome dinner with your loved ones and that you don't completely destroy your diets the way I hope to avoid probably will. ;-) 

Well, I know this is a little late for the planning stages...but maybe to have with the leftovers?! I know in our house there is always a TON of turkey a few days later, but most of the other sides are long gone. Here's a fast, easy, super tasty recipe to complete your week of easy cooking! 
(After the insane amount of cooking tomorrow, that is)

My mom made this last year for the first time and let's just say it's one that we don't wait until Thanksgiving come around to have again. However, other than that, I don't know where it came from.

Ok, so really quick...I know you're all CRAZY busy tonight so I won't write much....well, really this recipe is just that simple, I don't need to write much.

Here goes..

Sweet Potato-Apple Bake

1 large can of yams or 3 large sweet potatoes, cooked and cut 
1 can of apple pie filling, I use the one with splenda
1 can of cranberry sauce, whole berry
1 cup of chopped walnuts


Layer ingredients in order in a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 until heated through. 
Approximately 20-25 minutes.

Wasn't that easy?! Told you so. ;-)

Come back this week, I'm going to share a few recipes to use to tackle the piles of leftovers you are bound to have come Friday morning! 

Now go enjoy a wonderful meal with your friends and family. 
Happy Thanksgiving! 


A Little Positive Reinforcement

I have been tutoring a 1st grade boy for a few months now, but recently, he has been forgetting his homework folder at school, not handing in assignments, and having a hard time focusing on his work. At 6, it is very easy to see that he would much rather play Wii or Pokemon than do homework...but obviously, it needs to be done and without his parents' support, I've been having a difficult time. 

My main goal at this stage in his education is to promote good study habits. I'm trying to set a schedule that allows him the flexibility to play outside, watch tv, or play Wii...but also gives us enough time to get his work done before I leave for the evening. The problem is, he takes SUCH a long time to get his tiny amount of homework done! Seriously, he gets about 10-15 minutes of homework a night plus 15 minutes of reading, but it takes us more than an hour to get the first portion done and we rarely get to the reading.

The other day, we were sitting at the table for a (ridiculously) long time when I grabbed a piece of paper and sketched out a chart that I hoped would interest him enough to get on board with my idea.

Now, it's only been 2 weeks, but so far, so good!

Here's what we did:

I went out and got a folder with characters that he likes. In this case, Toy Story 3.

I also found these awesome stickers! He loves Star Wars (like all little boys, and my husband), so I thought these might create an extra boost in his performance.

So here are the "rules" we developed. We talked about them together, decided what was fair and wrote them down in an attempt to prevent any tears in the future.

1) For each day you remember your folder and complete your assignments before I leave, you get a sticker. (Must be both)

2) Five stickers for the week qualifies you for a 6th bonus sticker. (Which I'll explain in a moment)

3) Ten stickers, not including bonus stickers, entitles you to pick out a Pokemon card online or a trip to Target to select a prize. (Apparently, picking out Pokemon cards online is a super big deal)

4) Bonus stickers can be used individually for things like staying up later on a weekend, going to get ice cream, etc., or a month's worth can be saved for something like a trip to the movies or a new game.

Each day before I leave, we determine is he has earned a sticker and if he has, he picks the one he wants and puts it in the appropriate spot.

Two weeks in, we are 12 stickers strong. Pretty sweet! It has made a world of difference and I'm so glad he was "on board!' Now, we sit down, get his homework done in a reasonable amount of time, and even have extra time to read together. Homework time is a much more pleasant experience now that I have the chart as a tool.

Any of you developed any positive reinforcement tools recently? Do share!


Pumpkin Dip with Cinnamon Chips

I have been making a lot with pumpkin recently and always seem to have a little pumpkin left.. but not enough to do much with. I decided to try out an idea that was floating around in my brain....Well, now I know what to make with all my leftovers!! This dip is so amazing, I had it for lunch! (Shhh, don't tell!) But hey, pumpkin's healthy, right?!

Pumpkin Dip with Cinnamon Chips

For the chips:

White flour tortillas
cinnamon sugar
butter or butter spray, I used "I can't believe it's not butter" spray
cookie cutter, I used a pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a cutting mat or board, cut shapes from tortillas and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.


Spray or brush the shapes with your butter choice and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, only on one side.

Bake chips for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven, flip, apply butter and cinnamon sugar and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until crisp.

While the chips are baking... place the following ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth:

1/3 c pumpkin puree
6 oz light cream cheese
1/4-1/2 c powdered sugar (to taste)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp pumpkin pie creamer (or even fat free half and half would work. It just needs something to thin it a bit and I had the creamer on hand.)


Today (and every day), I am SO thankful for my hubby.

I've been super sick this weekend and he has taken such good care of me! He made all the meals, did the dishes, laundry, changed the oil and cleaned my car...he even helped me finish some crafts I wanted to get done but didn't have the energy to do on my own. (Yeah, this is one nasty bug I've got!) He's the best and I'm so lucky to have him! 

Thanks for visiting! 
Stay tuned for some yummy Thanksgiving leftover recipes


Last Minute Centerpiece

Wow, this week got completely away from me! I feel like I blinked and it is Friday again! Hope everyone had an nice week! I got a quick surprise visit from my mom, talked to a friend who lives (too) far away, and developed a few recipes to share with all of you! Pretty good week, I'd say :-)

So I know I promised this yesterday, but better late than never right? 
As many of you have ready, SP and I hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend. As I was putting out the chargers and place settings, it struck me that I forgot a centerpiece! How could I forget something like that?! It was about 30 minutes before our guests were scheduled to arrive, so I had to move fast. I know this is super simple, but it looked cute on the table, and truthfully, there ended up being so much going on that it was kind of nice to have a simple centerpiece. Plus, it was made from things I had around the house...so it was free! Sweet! 

There are those adorable facorns again! Love them!

 I think this one was my favorite, I'm not sure why. I ran out of ideas by this point and tossed a curly willow ball to the cat. She was throwing it around and it began to unravel. Bingo. I pressed some of the loose pieces in, added some random fall pick from the craft store..and there you have it.

So that's it. Cute enough, right? It worked...and maybe next time I will actually remember to make one ahead of time! hehe

And now for a Moment of Thanks...

Today I was feeling thankful for a few things...

1) Pumpkin Spice Creamer. Mmmm. Not as good as Panera's, but definitely cheaper.

2) My hubby's family. 

Now this is just a few of them, but they are awesome. We haven't seen them in a while now, so hopefully we will soon. This photo was taken during our rehearsal dinner, so it was nice to have some extended family time! Gma and Gpa are hosting Thanksgiving this year, but unfortunately, it's a little too far for us to travel for a long weekend. We will definitely miss them! 

3) Since I forgot to add my "thankful" section on Tuesday, I'll give a bonus answer today...tonight I am super thankful for Community. 
Have you seen this show? It's our new favorite. Watch it from episode 1, you won't be sorry. It's so funny, though not always child-friendly. So, beware.

Anyway, Happy Friday everyone!

Come back soon


Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

 Now I know I should probably start off my Thanksgiving recipes with a side or something, but hey…life is uncertain. Eat dessert first, right?! So here it is.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake. I saw this recipe in Women’s Day magazine and knew this was what I was going to make for our dinner party. And it was soooo yummy! Not only that, but it was very visually pleasing with all the orange and white swirls. It looked so impressive, yet it was only a little more difficult than a boxed cake mix.

Shhhh, I mean I slaved in the kitchen for hoouurs making this dessert for my friends. ;-)

 Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Now I have to be honest. This was not the most amazing cheesecake I have ever tasted, but it was REALLY good! And what I loved most about it was how SIMPLE it was to make! So quick and only a few steps. No hot water bath or anything! It didn’t crack, even though I used a spring form pan instead of the suggested pie plate. (Daring, I know. That’s me, walking on the wild side.Yeah baby.)

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Recipe from Women’s Day

Recipe Ingredients

Gingersnap-Pecan Crust

    • 24 gingersnap cookies (6 oz)
    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 3 Tbsp butter, melted


    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened ( I used 1/3 less fat and it was fine)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup milk ( I used 1%)
    • 1 Tbsp flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
    • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Recipe Preparation
    1. Crust: In a food processor, pulse cookies, pecans and sugar until finely ground. Add butter and pulse to combine. Press mixture evenly into bottom and up the sides of a 9-in. pie plate and bake for 12 minutes.
    2. Heat oven to 350ºF.
    3. Filling: Wipe out food processor. Add the sugar and cream cheese; pulse to combine. Scrape down sides and add eggs, milk, flour and salt; process until smooth. Transfer 1⁄3 cup of the mixture to a small bowl.
    4. Add pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to the food processor and process until fully incorporated. Scrape the mixture into the baked crust (no need to cool crust). Spoon the reserved cream cheese mixture over top and use a knife or spatula to swirl. Bake until the center is set but still trembles, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

SO SO SO easy. And YUM!

Here are my results.


Don’t the swirls look cool?!


The cheesecake started to sweat soon after hitting the table, but didn’t last long so it didn’t matter! I’m not sure how to prevent this, anyone have a suggestion?

Mmm, I kind of wish there had been just one little piece left over….Oh well, guess I’ll have to make it again! :-)

Thanks for visiting!

Tomorrow I’ll share my super simple (and free) centerpiece!


P.S.- Check out the awesome giveaway over at What I live For and leave some love for Judy. Her blog is adorable, be sure to take look around!

What I Live For


DIY Cloth Napkins

I'm pretty excited about this post because I was just so proud of myself when I made these!! 

The other day I went to Homegoods to get, what I hoped would be, cheap cloth napkins and runners for our Faux-Thanksgiving dinner. Well to my surprise, the napkins were $15-25 for a pack of 12! And runners were $20-30. Waaayy more than I intended to pay. So since I was seeking a new sewing project anyway, I thought I would try to make them!
  Now, remember that this is only my third sewing project, but I think that they came out well!! I used a tutorial from Skip to my Lou as a reference.

My corners were not perfect, but I'm ok with that. I figure, with more practice, I'll get better! Who needs some cloth napkins?! hehe This fabric cost me $5 and I already had the thread...so I saved myself at least $30. Sweet!

So what do you think? You like? 

And don't you just love those little Facorns?! They are from Walmart, $3 for a bag! SP's probably getting a little sick of how they have popped up ALL OVER our home. But they are just so adorable! (And no worries about creepy little friends hitch hiking into my house from their real cousins on the ground outside) 
And what cloth napkin is complete without a little bling?!

I just used hot glue to stick the (f)acorns together, but next time, I will use either crazy glue so it's not as thick between them, or drill holes through the middle and string them together. The hot glue worked well for the moment, but definitely doesn't hold all that well. We had a few casualties as dinner progressed. Oh well, live and learn. Right? :-) 
But they looked cute!

So on some plates there were acorn rings and for the others I braided raffia and tied it around a (fake) leaf. So simple, so cute! 

Wanna know what I'm thankful for today? 

1. An unexpected extra hour of sleep this morning (Yes, I was almost super late for work. Apparently I'm sleep deprived.)

   2. My family. 

We have had a few difficult few weeks, with an unfortunate amount of sad news...but God is good and I am trusting that He is in control! I've recently been touched by the song, No Matter What by Kerrie Roberts. In the song Kerrie sings, 

"Before a heartache can ever touch my life, it has to go through Your hands...I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, if not, I’ll trust you" 

God knows all and allows things to happen, so I just need to trust that He's working in and around me for His glory. As Steven Curtis Chapman said, "To Him the future's history." (Miracle of the Moment) 

I love that.

Ok, sorry for the heavy ending, but that has been on my heart and I thought I should share! 
Thanks for stopping by! 
Tomorrow I will share a sweet and tasty treat!


Painted Chargers

Happy Monday, All! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! I certainly did! Our dinner was so much fun and it was awesome to see friends that we haven't seen in a while! I kind of feel like the entire weekend was a whirlwind of planning, cooking, and excitement, but it was so worth it when we got the chance to share a meal and catch up with our adopted family. 

Well, I have decided that this is a good week to begin a We are Thankful week (or two)! From now until Thanksgiving, I will share some recipes, decorating ideas and crafts to celebrate the holiday, as well as something that I am Thankful for...be it silly, sappy or whatever I choose! Today, a little of both! 
But first, the beginning of my table planning: The Chargers

I picked up a few of these chargers from the Christmas Tree Shoppe, love that place! They were only $1, but had scratches and stuff all over so we decided to spray paint them. Right now, I'm totally on a red spray paint kick. SP said he feels like if he sets anything down for a minute he will come back and it will be red. Whoops! hehe  What can I say? It's pretty, and so festive! 

I decided to make these chargers red because then I can use them for Christmas as well. Thrifty! 

So here's the before:

See? All scratched up! Not cool. But now look...

And here it is with a plate...

Love them. They are exactly what I was hoping for! They matched my homemade napkins perfectly! I'll show them off tomorrow!
And now, here's what I am thankful for today:

 Without this, my dinner would have been much more difficult to make! Love this baby! 

I'm also thankful for the opportunity to share a meal with these lovely people :-) I've known these girls for almost 20 years now. So weird to say that, I don't feel old enough to know anyone for 20 years! But it's true. And the guys, they're pretty great too..we'll keep them around ;-) So really, I'm thankful for everyone in this photo. Love you guys. Adopted Family Dinner 2.0 was a success!

Ok, I just liked this shot...my orange dress was a total last minute throw-together outfit that worked out really well! SP made me a new hole in the belt so I could wear it that high and it matched my boots perfectly! (even though you can't see them in this photo)

Come back tomorrow for cloth napkins and autumnal napkin rings! 
Thanks for visiting!


Coconut Chicken Fingers

I know I promised you something yummy, but the something yummy I promised turned out to be not-so-yummy after all. I had been working on a recipe in my head for a few days, and finally decided to try it out. Well, long story short it was not the winner I had hoped it would be {yet!}. I have been tweaking it a bit and hope to give it another go soon. I'll post when it's done!

In the meantime, try this one!


SP and I LOVE this recipe. It's awesome. If you like chicken fingers and coconut, you'll be in heaven. We usually have it with homemade fried rice and a veggie of some kind. I'll post our fried rice recipe sometime, it's great too. 

We had this last night and each time I make it I cannot wait to get it out of the oven. SO good. This is a photo from the first time I made it..the only thing we do differently now is that we put the coconut in the Magic Bullet for a few seconds so you don't get big pieces like in this picture. Other than that, it's perfect.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers
Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

3 chicken breasts, sliced into tenders
1-2 eggs 
1 C sweetened coconut flakes, finely chopped
1 C panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 ground ginger 
1 teaspoon minced onions3/4 tsp table salt
pinch of pepper 

1. Preheat your oven to 450 and lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. (You can also like a cookie sheet with foil and grease that for easy clean-up!) 

2. Combine the panko, coconut, and spices together on a large, deep set plate. Set aside.

3. Lightly beat the egg in a medium sized bowl. One at a time, dip the chicken in the egg, then in the panko mixture, and set it in the pan until chicken is gone.

4. Bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your tenders) or until juices run clear. 

Hope you're having a wonderful week!! 
See you tomorrow for a sneak peek of my Thanksgiving table! 

A Veterans Day Salute

My Dad is the best. 
Ask anyone.

He is a devoted husband, loving father, patient coach, active member of the community, successful businessman, and a serious Seinfeld fan. 

And as if those things weren't enough, he is also a veteran. My Dad served in the US Navy when I was a little girl. I can remember going to visit him on his submarine during Christmas when I was 3 or so. When I was in grade school, Daddy came in to my history class and talk to my classmates about being in the Navy. It was really fun and everyone loved it! 

I don't have many photos of his in his uniform on hand, they are all at my parents' house...but here are two I found.  

That second one sure made me giggle when I found it. 
Very "Daddy" 

So in recognition of Veterans Day, I want to send hugs and kisses to my Dad and the other members of my family that are serving in different branches of the military...and a big Thank You to all the service men and women who have and continue to represent and protect our country. 

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
 - Cynthia Ozick


Floral Headband

I hope you all had a great weekend! I've been super busy getting things together for our dinner on Sunday. I have finalized the menu, and now just have to finish the runners, cloth napkins, and chargers. I'll be sure to post pictures when I'm done! I have been super thrifty for this party! AND I'm making my first ruffles, they look cute so far! Good start to the week!

Anyway, I made another little hair accessory! Well, really, it's not that little. It's kind of big actually. I wanted to make something bold...but truthfully, I'm not really a "bold accessory" kind of girl...but it's black, so I guess that toned it down a bit. What do you think?

(I promise this is the same headband, but for some reason it looks like a different color in both pictures. Strange.)

I think it's pretty cute with a simple outfit. I love pearls and I used a few different kinds in the center of each flower. 

And the best part is, I didn't have to buy anything. :-) 
Hooray for keeping random things like old scarves that I might use "someday"

I have something yummy planned for tomorrow! 
Be sure to check it out!