The Basket Case

Before- basket with LOTS of potential!
So, remember the Tease article I posted SEVERAL weeks ago?  "I found this really great rusty metal basket at a local store I like to visit regularly, The Planted Earth Floral.  They are actually a florist, but it's also a great place full of antiques, tchotchkes, jewelry and all kinds of surprising treasures.  I have been looking for something like this to complete a DIY project around my home."

Well, I fully expected to get this DIY project done in a hurry, but life got in the way and prevented it.  So, after a much longer wait than I intended, I am ready for my reveal.  I began with a boring builder-grade light fixture that was ingored during the renovation of our home with the idea that I would find something I like, but I didn't so we have lived with this:

For over 13 years!

I can't believe it has been that long, BUT I have continually looked for something that would work in my 8' high kitchen work area but wouldn't hang down so low that we were in danger of hitting our heads every time we entered the kitchen.  Yes, recessed lighting would have been ideal with pendants over the bar area, but we had used up the alotted money for other things in the reno and so that was not an option. I looked and looked, but never found anything I was willing to spend my money on.  And so, I decided to make my own light fixture and I love it!  Here is the finished product:

After - personality and looks, who could ask for more?
 A rusty light fixture close to the ceiling, that's NOT a boob light?  Plus one that has lots of unique personality?!  Can I get a WOOT, WOOT? 

All I did was remove the ugly glass cover, and AFTER I turned off the power at the fuse box, I removed the light fixture painted the ugly brassy part with a favorite product (that I will tell you about later in another great project) that made the fixture look old and rusty. After it was finished, I held the basket up while threading the wires through a center hole before reattaching the wiring to the ceiling.  I did have to go to the hardware store and find longer screws that would reach the ceiling because of the added space caused by the basket.  This wasn't too difficult as I had the original screws, I just had to find the same circumference, just a little longer.  I did buy the clear lightbulbs which I believe look better if you were to look straight up at them (which no one will ever do but me!), and added some vellum that I hot glued on. But I think it looks better and now I have a perfectly great and unique light fixture! What do you think?

Buttercream Frosting

by Stephanie

SO….this time I cheated…

kind of

I DID bake the cupcakes for the class for my kidos birthday….

they just came from a box.

But if you substitute buttermilk for the water, like I did,  it comes out super moist! And you feel like you really made it.

So do that.

Then I made the best and easiest buttercream frosting.  YUMMO!

Top with sprinkles and gummy butterflies and voila….perfect…


Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough for 24 cupcakes or 1 big cake

1 cup butter, softened

1 jar (7 1/2 oz) marshmallow cream (or fluff)

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients together.  Put in gallon zip bag and snip end.  Swirl onto each cupcake.  ENJOY!!



Coffee Table Redo

by Stephanie

So, I have been really busy getting ready for family to come.  Along with cleaning and cooking, I squeezed in a few projects….

One of them this coffee table.  I found this at a thrift store in southern WA for $8!  The paint I already had and the wood for the bottom shelf was about $6.  So for under $15, new coffee table for the kidos to use for drawing and coloring.  We go through about a ream of paper a month!! 

I know, I know, it needs some super fab baskets.  I’m working on it.   But at least the painting and shelf is done. 

Before…yep, I forgot to take a pic while it was put together….but you get the idea



and after….yes, white is the color of choice right now….


Just follow the formula…..

Sand (or in my case use liquid sander..SO much easier)


Paint-for the border I just taped it off with painters tape and used a dark brown craft paint.


For the “shelf” we used 2”X1” pieces of wood, hubby did the rest. 


Quick and Easy Enchilada Sauce

by Stephanie

I love getting new recipes!  Especially ones that are quick and easy.  I had some hamburger and needed to make something with it.  My friend Jami recommended enchiladas with this super easy sauce….perfect…


Enchilada Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup flour

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

3 cubes chicken bullion

4 oz tomato paste

In large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes.  Add in water and whisk quickly to get out any lumps.  Add in chili powder, chicken bullion and tomato sauce.  Turn to low and simmer at least 5 minutes until thick.


Tomato Mac

by Stephanie

My dear friend Holly made this for me about two years ago.  It’s been a staple ever since.  It is a kid friendly meal, with flavors that adults can appreciate.  Some people call this goulash?? 


Tomato Mac

Makes 6 servings

1 lb. ground beef

1 small onion-diced fine

1/2 green pepper, diced

2 celery ribs-diced

2 Tbsp molasses (spray spoon with vegetable spray first, comes right out!)

1/4 cup sugar

1 14 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp Worchester sauce

3 Beef bullion cubes

2 cups V8 juice

1 cup macaroni noodles-cooked

In large Dutch oven pan brown beef with onion, green pepper and celery.  When no pink left, drain off fat and add in all other ingredients except macaroni.  Let simmer on low for at least 30 minutes (up to a few hours).  Add in macaroni right before serving.  Top with cheese, sour cream and/or green onions. 

OR…brown ground beef.  Drain off fat and put everything else but macaroni into Crockpot.  Cook on low for 4 hours.  Add in noodles right before serving.


Soup or Sauce Mix (SOS Mix)

by Stephanie

My mom gave me this about 6 months ago.  I LOVE it!!  Instead of buying cream of chicken…or cream of anything soup, I use this mix.  It is equal to NINE cans (10.5 oz) of cream soup.  You just keep it in a zip storage bag and use what you need.  It is also gluten free!!  Super easy and cheap!  This originally came from Utah State.  On this link you can find the original recipe plus they have some recipes to use it in.  I use it in my Rebecca's Chicken recipe.




Makes 9  portions

2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk

3/4 cups cornstarch

1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon

2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

2 tsp Italian seasoning (optional, but I do put this in)

Combine all ingredients.  When ready to use combine 1/3 of dry mix with 1 1/4 cups cold water.  Whisk to mix.  Heat in small sauce pan over low heat 3-4 minutes until thickened or heat in microwave in heat proof bowl stopping every minute to stir for 4-5 minutes until thickened.

NOTE:  I usually only add 1 cup of water, I like my soup more condensed.  This makes a non condensed version.


WOW-Entry redone

By Stephanie

So this darling girl used the same template that I used for my armoire and did this….


For her whole before and after CLICK HERE


my new button

...as soon as i learn how to get it so you can post it...I will...still working on that....

Mom’s Roll Recipe

by Stephanie

Have you ever noticed when you are trying to cut down on something, you want it more?  That is me and carbs.  I LOVE bread!  And since I am trying to cut down, I REALLY want rolls.  Cinnamon rolls.  So I tried a few different roll recipes over the years.  But this is my favorite.  It always turns out perfect. These can be done as regular dinner rolls or cinnamon rolls.   NOT low carb….but totally delic…


Mom’s Roll Recipe

Makes 12

1 cup milk scaled (put in the microwave for 2 minutes until film forms on top)

1/4 cup water (add cold to milk to bring down temp)

2 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup hot mashed potatoes (I usually use instant)

Let sit for 10 minutes while yeast proofs.  Then add:

1 egg (beaten)

1 1/2 tsp salt

4 – 4 1/2 cups  flour

Let rise for one hour.  Punch down and form into rolls.

Or for cinnamon rolls out into 9X13 rectangle, spread mixture of 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon on top, roll up and cut into 1” rolls. 

Put onto greased cookie sheet.  Let rise another hour. 

Put into 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. 

For cinnamon rolls, bake JUST until starting to turn golden.  Don’t overcook.  Then brush with glaze of 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 Tbsp. milk and 1 cup powdered sugar.  OR my darling friend Sherrie gave me a caramel frosting recipe…

Quick Caramel Frosting:

½ c. butter

½ c. brown sugar

¼ c. evaporated milk

2 ¼ c. powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Heat butter and brown sugar on low. Add milk and boil carefully. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth.  

seen here….SSSOOO good….



I heart Quatrefoil

by Stephanie

I love a few patterns.  Hounds tooth is one that I ADORE.  The most recent is quatrefoil.  What is quatrefoil you say?  You have probably seen it…just haven’t known the name.


quatrafoil3 quatrafoil1 quatrafoil2

Yep, that is my armoire….just in case you missed it the first time..



Now you will see it everywhere….trust me….



by Stephanie

SO, while I work on my 10 projects for you to see…..

Okay, maybe not 10, but quite a few…..

Here is an amazing blog I saw


Of course it makes it better that she is so darling herself…and maybe a size 2!  But really she has some fabulous ideas.   We are doing a project with our youth group to redo and refashion some thrift store finds.  I found a new thrift store just 5 blocks from me that had some AWESOME finds!  I got 7 items for under $17!  I will post them as we finish them….ssssooooo excited!


Pesto Feta Chicken

by Stephanie

This is my second kidos favorite chicken dish.  I got this in a frozen dinner group about 7 years ago and it is a staple at our house!  All my kids eat it and love it.   I never would have thought to put pesto and feta together, but they work so great.  And if you have never tried couscous, or think it is too bland, make it with this dish and drizzle the sauce over top.  You will be in heaven!!  It’s also great over rice or quinoa.


Pesto Feta Chicken

makes 4-6 servings

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup pesto (I do homemade, but store bought works fine)

1 cup feta cheese (any kind really)

1/2 cup paprika (yes that is CUP not tea or tablespoon!!)

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp thyme

1 1/4 tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Put chicken into greased 9X13 baking pan.  In small bowl combine paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme and salt.  Sprinkle over chicken.  Top with pesto (just divide between chicken) then sprinkle feta over top.  Sprinkle garlic on top and then with drizzle olive oil.  Cover with foil (shiny side down) and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until breasts register 165 degrees.  Let rest still covered for another 5-10 minutes.  Do NOT overcook chicken…yuck!

This can also be cooked in a Crockpot.  Just layer like in baking dish and cook on low for 4-5 hours. 


Sweet and Savory Pasta Salad

by Stephanie

Here is another great spring pasta salad.  You can leave out the chicken if you are just looking for a side dish.  I LOVE the strawberries in it especially now when they are fresh and sweet.  You can also replace the pasta will a great leaf lettuce (if you are carb counting).  Cucumbers, avocado, mint and cantaloupe are great other options for this salad.  Just use what you have. 


Sweet and Savory Bowtie Pasta

2 Chicken breasts cooked and chopped up into ½” pieces

1 lb box bowtie pasta, cooked in salted water to directions and drained

1 lb strawberries-washed and sliced into ½” pieces

1 lb grapes –cut in half if they are big (I have also used cantaloupe too)

6-7 green onions chopped

Sugared Almonds (see below)

Dressing: I use either 1/2 cup Brianna’s Poppy seed dressing mixed with ½ cup mayo or 1/2 cup Brianna’s Poppy seed dressing with 1/2 cup Brianna’s Blush Wine dressing.  You might need a bit more dressing, but don’t overdress it or it will be soggy!

Sugared Almonds: melt 2 Tbsp butter and add in ½ cup Tbsp brown sugar. Add in1/2 cup almonds and coat with sugar mix. Spread onto cookie sheet and put under broiler on high for 3-4 minutes stirring every minute or so. Watch VERY CAREFULLY! They will go from toasted to burned in about 10 seconds, so take them out as soon as they are golden.


Caramel Bananas

By Stephanie

For a super easy dessert just take 1 Tbsp Butter and melt into a non stick skillet over high heat.  When melted add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2-3 firm bananas cut into 1/2” coins.  Cook until bananas are all coated with caramel about 2 minutes.  Pour over ice cream.  Serves 4.



Pasta Salad

by Stephanie

I LOVE pasta salad.  Especially in the spring and summer.  This one you can make as a main dish or as a side for just about anything!  This is an adaption from an America’s test kitchen recipe.


Best Pasta Salad

1 lb box salad pasta

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt & pepper

1/2 small onion (I prefer red)-diced

2-3 stocks celery-diced

2 chicken breast-cooked and diced (I like to grill it or oven roast it, but do whatever you like)

1 1/2 cups mayo

Cook pasta according to directions in salted water. While cooking mix vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. When done, drain and put into bowl and add onion and celery. Pour over vinegar mixture and toss. Let sit 5-10 minutes for pasta to absorb. Add in chicken and then mayo. If gets too tight, add in 1-2 Tbsp. warm water.

Pasta salad hints:

Salt pasta water-1 Tbsp of salt.

Do not rinse pasta when draining. Just shake off excess water. Don’t rinse off all that great starch.

While pasta is warm add in dressing, salt and pepper and flavoring items (like onions and celery) to add flavor right to the pasta. Once it is cold it won’t absorb the flavor.

Let sit in fridge to cool at least 1-2 hours. Use your imagination. Use pasta you have never tried before, fruits and veges, different dressings (even just olive oil works) to create your own signature pasta dish.


Ruffled Lamp Redo

By Stephanie

So I saw this AMAZING lamp tutorial. And could not stop thinking about it.  I had a lamp base that would work, it just needed to be a different color.  I used the same one she did by chance.  Seems to be a popular one.  Anyhoo…and I had some burlap.  About a yard.  But I had to buy another 1/2 yard to complete it the way I wanted it to look.  I am LOVING it!







THEN….I was looking for lamps for my bedroom.  I kept seeing all these great lamps that you all are finding at your thrift store for like $2!  My thrift store is expensive!  The only one I found that I liked was $8 and didn’t work!  Ugh!  Sssoooo….my friend Kathy lives south of us in a small town with a FABULOUS thrift store.  I found a set of lamps (both work!) and a coffee table to refab all for under $17!!  So with paint ($3.00) and lampshades ($15 each, drum lampshades are NOT at thrift stores…way too popular) and ribbon ($4) I am at $21 each.  Not too bad.



After…(and yes I realize I could use something over my bed..like a headboard)


Up-close….(and I think the two end tables will end up being white…eventually)





Skillet Lasagna

By Stephanie

My friend made this for a ladies lunch one day.   I REALLY simplified it to see how it would turn out.  My 12 year old kido said “this is the best thing you have EVER made”.  Really?  Really??  I mean all those time I spend hours preparing a great meal and you like the one that takes under 30 minutes and almost no work…..Okay.  I have been trying to  hard in the kitchen.  I like lots of meat in mine, but you can leave it our or add more veges here (if you want to do work your kids won’t appreciate).  I also add the cheese at the end so it is all on top and melty.  But you can add it into the sauce at the end if you would rather.  Make it your own.  You really can’t mess this one up!


Skillet Lasagna

Serves 6

1/2  lb. ground beef

1/2  lb. sausage (I like Italian)

1 26 oz can Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce (I love the four cheese)

4 cups water

8 lasagna noodles- broken up into 2” pieces

8 oz mozzarella cheese

4 oz. parmesan cheese

In large Dutch oven over high heat brown ground beef and sausage until brown.  Drain off fat.  Add in spaghetti sauce and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add in noodles and turn down to simmer.  Simmer about 20 minutes until noodles are al dente.  Turn off heat and put into bowls or plates.  Sprinkle with both cheeses.  Serve. 



by Stephanie

I am NOT a dieter.  First we have pretty good genes.  Not supermodel after four kids genes, but good.  But I HATE to not eat good food.  But I have been at a plateau for about two years.  I don’t LOVE to exercise, but it’s better than not eating.   I did find an exercise program I can totally commit to.  Even six days a week.  Because it only takes 8-12 minutes a day.  It’s called 20 Second Fitness.

One of the girls at church has started a program of just keeping track of her calories and has lost 10 pounds in 2 1/2 weeks!  Totally proud of her!  So I decided it was time I tried to REALLY watch what I eat.  So I signed up for a TOTALLY FREE website called my fitness pal.  AWESOME!  Really it’s just keeping track of your exercise and calories.  BIG wake up!  I have been eating way more than I should have.  Actually, not real surprise.  I mean you really can’t expect to eat alfredo once a week if you want to be healthy and fit….

So far, not too bad.  We even went out of town and I stayed pretty much right on.  I will let you know how it goes…….


Golden Vanilla Cupcake

By Stephanie
So this was my first non-vegan from the Vegan Cupcake Cookbook.  It isn’t too sweet and has endless options for toppings and flavor combinations.  (I topped mine with a chocolate buttercream.  Simple and delicious. 
The vanilla is obviously in the background…
Golden Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
Makes 12
1 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar (any kind, but I used white)
Mix together and set aside for 5 minutes.  Then add..
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
Set aside and in separate bowl mix together:
1 1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Whisk to mix out any lumps.  Add in wet ingredients and mix just until combined.  Pour into 12 cupcake lines and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

by Stephanie

My last ones.  I used a dark chocolate cocoa powder.  I LOVE dark chocolate and so does my kido who’s birthday these were for.  That is why they are SSSOOO dark chocolate looking. 


Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Makes 12

1 cup milk

1 tsp vinegar (any will work but I used white)

Mix and set aside for 5 minutes.  Then add..

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

Set aside.  In separate bowl mix together:

1 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Whisk dry ingredients together.  Add in wet ingredients and mix just until no lumps remain.  Put into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. 

Chocolate Buttercream

enough for 12 cupcakes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat butter and shortening together.  Add in all other ingredients.  Beat until fluffy. 

For nice swirl, put a small swirl in the middle of cupcake and then starting out outside swirl around ending up in the middle. 



Never Fail Pizza Dough

By Stephanie

Every Friday we have pizza.  We have homemade pizza.  I tried to do something different and my DH said “why aren’t we having pizza?”.  So the next Friday…we had pizza. 

I know this seems like I am the kind of women who makes the same things…over, and over, and over.  Well..sometimes…yes.  But usually not.  In fact my kids have learned to say “have we had this before?”.  I usually say “yes, and you loved it”, even if they haven’t and probably won’t. 

I digress..

So pizza, I try to do one with half cheese and half cheese and pepperoni.  For the kidos. 

Seen here…


And for me, throw in some veges, or ranch as the sauce…or one time I used left over pulled pork, ranch and bbq sauce mixed as the sauce and mozzerella.  It was awesome!


Btw, I have had this recipe for YEARS, I have NO idea where it came from…

Never Fail Pizza Dough

1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)

1 tsp sugar

3 Tablespoons oil (any kind but I like olive oil)

Mix together and let sit 10 minutes.  Turn on oven to 400 degrees.  Add into yeast mixture, 1 tsp. salt and 1 cup whole wheat flour.  Then gradually add in 3-4 cups AP flour.  Until dough pulls away from sides.


Divide dough into two equal portions.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Roll into greased pan (I use a jelly roll pan) and with fingers stipple the top.

Like so….see those dimple marks?  It helps the dough not get so many bubbles in it.


Put in the oven for 10 minutes (with no toppings or sauce yet). 
Then roll out rest of dough into second greased pan (don’t forget to stipple).

When first crust is done, pull out and put on sauce and toppings while other pizza is baking.  Then bake again for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted. 

Makes 2 jellyroll pans. 



By Stephanie

To expand on Amy’s earlier post about perfection, I don’t have the problem of perfection.  If it looks ok I am ok not to unpick or repaint or rebake.  It’s fine with me.  However in pictures, especially for you (my blog audience) I do want it to appear, well, great. 

But I love it when a blogger posts a pic of their REAL laundry room.  The one with all the laundry everywhere.  That way I know that they are really living in that house.  It isn’t a model home next door they go over to decorate, take pictures and pretend to live there. 

I do think we put our best foot forward, especially when it comes to what we post.  I usually don’t take pics of me yelling at my kids, or when I serve them mac and cheese and hot dogs for lunch, yep,  it happens.  Or notice I didn’t zoom in on the drip marks on the armoire.  But yep, they are there.  So I guess it feels good to try to uplift, but know we are real women too.  We try to create things that make feel good.  Decorate and fill our homes with love.  Cook and fill their bellies and minds with new things.  We are stay at home mom’s not trying to fill a void, but of learning to create and experience.   I like Nester’s philosophy of decorating and life.  I try to remember “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”.  In all areas of life. 

Hopefully this blog uplifts you and inspires you to create.  Don’t think we are perfect.  We are not.  Just trying to live our best life and share it with you. 



By Amy
I found this really great rusty metal basket at a local store I like to visit regularly, The Planted Earth Floral.  They are actually a florist, but it's also a great place full of antiques, tchotchkes, jewelry and all kinds of surprising treasures.  I have been looking for something like this to complete a DIY project around my home.  Any ideas of what I'm going to do with it or what you would do with it?

S’mores Cupcake

By Stephanie

I am SO brilliant.  Really.  I am.  I know my sisters are saying “yes, it’s in the genes”, but I even impressed myself this time! 

First my pics came out better.  I know, I know, natural light.  Not so easy when you live in the Pacific Northwest…

Second, I had a truly genius idea.  And it turned out! 

So I was making S’mores cupcakes, the non-vegan ones from the vegan cookbook and I wasn’t thrilled with their choice of toppings.  Just a vanilla buttercream with chocolate shavings and graham cracker crumbs.  Not enough for me.  So I thought about my marshmallow fluff buttercream.  Yeah, maybe.  But what about if I put some chocolate in the middle and then toasted some mini marshmallows….YES!  Just like a real s’more.   I hoped.  Because usually what happens in my head and on the plate are TOTALLY different.  Not this time.  IT WAS GENIUS!! Or luck….



AND they taste yummy too!!

S'mores Cupcake Recipe

Makes 12

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 Tbsp molasses (spray the spoon with vegetable spray first-comes right off)

1/4 cup yogurt-plain or vanilla

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all together and set aside. In separate bowl combine:

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together and add in wet ingredients just until all lumps are out.  Add in 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (I left mine pretty chunky).  Pour into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. 

When cool take paring knife and cut a small well in the middle.  Add in the chocolate ganache or a piece of chocolate bar.  (For ganache take 2 T heavy cream and heat over low heat or in the microwave on 30%.  When hot add in 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 2 tsp butter stir to melt chocolate, cool until warm but not totally firm.)  Top with 6-8 mini marshmallows.  With your boiler on high put cupcakes in oven and WATCH.  This only takes 15-20 seconds…really!  When marshmallows are puffy and golden take out and let cool.  Garnish with piece of graham cracker.

Here it is before the marshmallows….


Here is the whole pan…..