Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry Freezer Jam

If you’ve never made strawberry freezer jam before, I would highly recommend that you give it a whirl.  There’s just nothing like jam made from scratch!  And, it’s pretty easy to do.  To be honest, the “recipe” is included in the pectin you’ll need to buy, so you can pretty much get it from there.  But, hey, as long as you are here, you might as well keep reading and look at all the pretty pictures…. [Read more…]

Chicken Under a Brick

Chicken Under a Brick

We eat A LOT of chicken at our house.  My go to recipe is to drizzle bone-in breasts with a flavored olive oil, salt and pepper and then bake for about 45 minutes.  Super easy and tastes delicious.  Sometimes though one needs to step outside of the comfort zone and shake it up.  That’s why I was so excited to get this recipe from

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve been amping up my cooking this year is that there are different ways to infuse your food with flavor.  Cooking chicken in coconut milk when making Thai food is one trick I’ve learned.  Another trick I’ve just learned is to put something heavy on top of chicken.  Forcing the meat down while surrounding with fresh herbs allows the flavors to infuse all the way through the meat.  Who knew?!

The recipe calls for an oven proof skillet (which I don’t have) so while I was browning the chicken in the skillet I heated up the baking dish I was going to use so that it would be hot when I added the chicken.  Since my baking dish was pretty small, I used an actual brick wrapped in tin foil to press down my food.  Worked like a charm :)

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine did!

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Chicken Under a Brick - our dinner last night

Chicken Under a Brick – our dinner last night


At the bottom of this post I share how to win 6 free plates from

Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to start eating a bit healthier.  You know, take that one baby step into better eating habits.  We also needed to get out of the food rut we were in.  Mike and I were either eating the same recipes over and over or else we were eating out every night.

Historically the issue has been that while I have good intentions, my carry through hasn’t always been the best.  I find these great recipes and never make them because I’m missing a key ingredient or they seem really difficult.  If I was going to attain my goal I needed to change my approach.

While watching TV one evening, I saw a commercial for a company that delivers all the ingredients you need to make a meal directly to your home.  Thinking that may be a solution for us, I hit up their website only to find that the recipes weren’t my cup of tea.  After looking around a bit more I came across a website called

The recipes were definitely more up my alley so I bit and decided to order a box.  Here’s how it works.  Every week I go online and choose three meals (you can choose more if you desire, that’s just what works for Mike and I) to be delivered to the house.  If I’m feeling a little adventurous I let them choose them for me.  I do have to say, some of the best meals we’ve had were ones I didn’t choose for myself.

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Creamy Garlic Spaghetti

Creamy garlic spaghetti looked like a sure winner to me when I saw the recipe and pictures the first time.  I do love my tomato spaghetti sauce, but i just had to try the garlic pasta from the pictures and descriptions.    Mixing the right cheese and flavors in a recipe like this will have you competing with the top chef’s of the world.
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Donna’s Dip


Donna cheddar cream cheese dip

It is always good to find a new appetizer or new flavor to bring to a party.  This simple dip is quite unique in flavor even though it has very common ingredients.  It combines cheeses with a little sweet and savory flavors.  Very unique!

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Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Liners


Slow Cooker Liners, 4 bags run about $2 ($.50 each)

Slow cookers/crock pots are great for keeping foods warm, especially for events where there is no set time to eat and you just need to keep food warm over an extended period of time. My daughter, Nicole, recently had a a house-warming party where she had potatoes, meat and beans that needed to stay warm for about 8+ hours while people came and went from the party.

It is when you are cleaning up and trying to pry the baked-on food off the sides and bottom of the crock pot that you are left swearing and wondering if there is a better way. Well, my friends, there is a better way and it is called “slow cooker liners.” My sister-in-law, Jenny, and Nicole use them regularly and they save themselves countless hours. Jenny has improved her clean-up time tremendously and finds it easy to store leftovers in as well!

The reviews on this product are excellent, like 43 out of 47 reviews had a 5 out of 5-star rating and the balance of 4 reviews gave it 4 stars. You can’t beat ratings like that. Here was one review in particular that I thought sold the product (well, I did think she was nuts that she cooks for her dog as I can’t cook for my family, but that aside):

“I cook about every three days for my 140 lb dog. Often, I cook on a timer, so the food is in the crock pot for 8 hours. I use brown rice on the the bottom and often it really cooks onto the ceramic. I have to soak for a day, scrape it out, and soak for another. Really quite strenuous, messy and time consuming. This product takes care of the problem, keeps my kitchen much cleaner, save me tremendous amounts of time, all without affecting the cooking.”

Make life simpler and try these bags! They are well worth the cost! Have any of you used these and any tips for our fellow readers? If so, please share them.

Take care and hope you are having a fabulous week!


The Power of a Spray Paint Can!



I am still finishing my spring planting for summer. I normally buy more flowers than I know what to do with and I am then deciding “what pot will I put this in?” Well it was fortunate that happened this year as it forced me to address the worn-out looking pots I had in inventory.

After giving some away to my daughter, I sat staring at what I had left. One of my favorites, a tall urn-looking pot was looking so worn that I was deciding if I should just throw it out. UNTIL my neighbor, Jenny, suggested spray painting as she fully believed it could be restored. Hmm. Spray painting. I had a double pack of cans sitting on a shelf–not sure why, possibly I considered doing it last summer?

So I wiped the pots off and removed any debris and loose pieces, put it on a scrap piece of cardboard out on the lawn, shook up the paint can and gave it a go. Well, let me say that I LOVED IT! When I say “it” I mean the spray painting!!! My gosh, you just spray and within seconds you can see the improvement unfolding right before your eyes! Oh, it was fun. The end result was great so I moved on to another pot and then a candle holder that needed some freshening up. I felt like painting everything I saw!


You can see the results by the above pic. My daughter spray painted hers as well and her pots looked great, too. Cost is minimal as I believe I got a double pack of cans for less than $10.

You have no excuse for worn looking pots, so get out there and paint them up! Within minutes they will be done and you can then sit back and enjoy their beauty.

What spray painting fun have you experienced? Share you insight so we can all have more fun!

Make it a great week!


Flower Planters

Planters CCTNT

Summer is almost here and pretty much everyone in the neighborhood has been finishing up their landscaping and yard projects.  I have seen people working on new arbors, fire pits, patios, flowerbeds, gardens, decks, and planting new trees.  It’s been a crazy rush this year.  The winter lasted a little longer than usual and spring has been cooler than normal.  Rick and I started early, getting our mulching completed before Memorial day.  This year I decided to decorate with a few planters.  I’ve used them in the past, but not had much luck with them (probably because I forget to water them and they just don’t make it…ugh).  Almost every house in our neighborhood has planters this year.  What I like about them is that every house has a different color/style of pot…some are huge, and there are some beautiful colors too that either match or contrast with the house’s exterior.

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Travel-Ready Packing

Travel Ready Packing CCTNT

Traveling, whether for a weekend or for several weeks, needs preparation.  When I know I have travel plans coming up I start planning many days in advance….okay, yes I am somewhat anal about my packing.  There have been times when I’ve forgotten VERY important things….mascara, deodorant, pajamas, toothbrush, just to name a few.  The last several years I have been doing more traveling for work, the most recent trip included stops in Poland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia.  Planning for two weeks during this visit started several weeks in advance….the last thing I needed was to forget something.  I decided I could make packing much easier by simply creating ‘travel-ready bags’.  The basic concept is to pack  a bathroom bag, a 3-1-1 bag, a jewelry bag, and a makeup bag that is already packed and ready to go no matter how long you will be gone.

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How to Tell if Pineapple is Ripe

Ripe Pineapple with CCTNT

My sister Tracey and I were recently in a grocery store looking to buy some pineapple.  While we were standing there in front of all of the pineapples hemming and hawing over which ones seemed to be the most ripe, the “produce guy” came up and asked if he could help us.  I’m assuming he could tell we had no clue what we were doing.  He then proceeded to teach us how to choose a ripe pineapple.

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