My Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes

For Flashback Friday today I am sharing my favorite slow cooker recipes.  (Actually..I still call it my "Crock Pot" even though I know that is a trademark.. but I also call them "Q-tips" and "Kleenex.") Anyhow.. A Crock Pot is so versatile and makes it so easy to have dinner ready if you aren't actually around to make it.

I like to use my slow cooker in the summer since it helps keep the kitchen cool because you don’t have to turn on the oven. In the summer I mostly do recipes like bar-ba-que and meat entrees.  On the other hand, I also like to use my slow cooker in the fall and winter because the days are so short and I like not wasting any daylight hours preparing dinner.   In the colder months I tend more towards soups and stews.  I've posted quite a few of the recipes I use on the blog and I thought it would be great to round them all up.

So let's get this party started.

Fall Front Porch with Personalized Door Plaque

Front door name plaque
Before I start this post I wanted to say “Thanks” to everyone who stopped by, visited and linked up to my inaugural You’re Gonna Love it Party yesterday.  I was still working out the kinks yesterday, but going forward it should be much smoother.. thanks for bearing with me.

Okay, now for today’s post.  My front porch.  I mentioned on Facebook how I was going to do the big reveal today, but not to expect grand things like this Better Homes and Garden’s feature because my porch just isn’t that dramatic:
BH G porch
But the truth is that we all have to live in reality and decorate the home *we* live in.  My front entry is off to the side of my house and the door is actually located in a corner up against a large wall.  The area is really small, tall and at a funky angle .. so there is no way to get the beautiful symmetry like in the photo above.

You do what you have to do. Don’t think that because you can’t have a space that is magazine worthy, that isn’t worth decorating. 

You're Gonna Love It Tuesday: My First One!! Squeeee!!

Welcome to my first ever You're Gonna Love it Tuesday link-up!  I made the big announcement last week that I was joining with Kathe from Kathe With An E for her Tuesday party, and this if the first one.

A few quick housekeeping items (in case you missed it last week.) This is the one and only time a party-related email will be going out to my entire email list.  If you want to receive an email with a list of features and a link-up reminder, you need to subscribe below:

If you already subscribe to my WEEKLY email, nothing will change.  The party will show up as one extra post in the weekly email on Monday mornings, so you have to do nothing.

If you subscribe DAILY YOU WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE PARTY EMAILS with your current newsletter subscription.  After today, these posts are 'opt in' and you must sign up to receive the one extra email every week (you can re-enter your email information in the form above and I will send you the link to change your preferences.) 

Alternatively, you can adjust your email settings at any time using this button at the bottom your emails: 

Time for Last Week's Features!!

Dollar Store Fall Leaf Tree (Topiary)

Dollar Store Leaf Tree
Today’s craft is super easy.  Seriously, it is "so easy I can’t believe I am writing a tutorial for this”  easy (maybe I should add that as a blog category.)

Just looking at it you can see it is a tree form covered in leaves, however since I did learn a few small tips for making this little topiary thing (is it is a topiary?) I thought I would share them since they will save you a little trouble if you want to make one.

First, the supplies:  The leaves are from Dollar Tree.  It took me less than a full package to make one 14 inch tree.

Candy Corn M&M's Caramel Apple Bites

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #CollectiveBias #FlavorOfFallCaramel apple bites 2

Now that the kids are back in school, I’ve been looking for portable snack ideas.  When I pick the girls up at the end of the school day they are STARVING and always looking for a quick treat. I typically pack something like a yogurt or piece of fruit, but occasionally it is fun to pack them something extra special.  So when M&M's asked me to come up with a recipe that featured the flavors of fall, I knew that a caramel apple recipe would be perfect.
Candy coated caramel apples
HOWEVER.. the idea of my kids eating an entire sticky caramel apple in the backseat of my car sounds more like a recipe for disaster, so I knew I had to scale it down. That is where the idea of Caramel Apple Bites was born.  Small, snack size bites that they can pop into their mouths without any messy leftovers like the core.
Candy corn caramel apples
The recipe is pretty straight forward.  You need apples, caramels and sticks.  (In this case I used wooden cake skewers that I cut down.)  Typically caramel apples are coated with chopped peanuts, but since I was bringing these treats onto the school campus, I wanted to steer away from peanuts.

Autumn Harvest Mantel

Autumn mantel
Over the weekend I finally got inspired to put up my autumn mantel.  I still have the back-to-school version up in the playroom, but in the formal living room it was time for fall.

I decided to reuse my Habitat for Humanity wooden window and my large mirror:
Harvest mantel for the Fall
I found this great grapevine star garland on clearance after christmas last year.
Grapevine star garland

Autumn window mantel

Of course, I needed to use my scrap wood bock pumpkins.. I still love them so much! Fall mantel
Fake fruit in a basket is one of the few ‘kid friendly’ things I could leave on the hearth.  The kids have been playing ‘farmers market’ with the apples and carry them around the house.  Pretty funny.
Fall harvest basket

I have a BIG Announcement: Let's Party Like Rock Stars!

I've alluded to it here and on Facebook, and today is the day I'm making the big announcement.

Are you ready? OF COURSE YOU ARE!

I have been invited to join my best bloggy buddy Kathe (from Kathe with an E) to help co-host her weekly "You're Gonna Love It" Party on Tuesdays (Beginning Tuesday September 16th)!

I know.. I know! You are saying "who cares?'  There are 10-bajillion linky parties out there, and this isn't exactly earth shattering.. Why are you doing this?

So hear me out:
I've always hesitated to host a party in the past, since I have felt like there are a TON of parties out there already, and I just didn't want to have party for the sake of having a party.  I have heard a lot of chatter that "parties are dead" since now Pinterest and social media are the big traffic drivers to most blogs, and I used to think that (at least a little bit) too.  I have known a lot of bloggers have actually been shutting their parties down, since it is more work than it is worth.

So why would I want to jump on that sinking ship?
Well, I'm not jumping into this without a lot of thought and reflection.

I've been blogging for a long time (like 8 years).  I remember back in 'the day' when the only way to really network between blogs was the linky party.  It used to be almost my exclusive source of traffic (other than my mom telling her friends about my "little blog" of course!)  But recently I've been talking to a lot of newer bloggers on Facebook and I am realizing that blogger-blogger interaction is what I miss most about my early blog days (and lots of newer bloggers don't even remember it being that way!)

I miss having an excuse to just click-around the blogosphere and see what everyone has been up to.  Sure I can see your gorgeous photos on Pinterest or read a quick snippet on Facebook or Twitter, but it just isn't the same as visiting an actual blog ON THE WEB.. not on my phone, and seeing what you have been up to, stopping by and leaving a comment or sharing your post.

A linky will be a fast way for me to find you latest new content, to share and feature.  It will help me keep track of what other people are up to, since right now,  by the time I've done and written up a post, shared it on social media, pinned and clicked and tweeted and shared.. I'm tired.  I just don't have it in me to scroll through my reader and figure out what is new.  I can't tell what is your favorite project of the week,.. what do you want to share?   This will give me a starting point.   If you have a post you just LOVE.. link it up.  I'd love to see it.  

Kathe and I both have Pinterest boards to feature linked up projects and every week, before the party we both will feature our own personal favorites (along with the most clicked link of the week.)

And FOR MY REGULAR NON-BLOGGING READERS AND SUBSCRIBERS who are wondering "How is this going to affect me?"

First, and most importantly,  I want you to know that this WILL NOT REPLACE REGULAR CONTENT.   I am trying to maintain a regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule, and this party will be held every Tuesday.  It is not taking the place of a regular post.

I am hoping that the features and links from other bloggers will be interesting to you, since they are going to be my favorites, but if they aren't, I totally get it.  I won't take it personally if you aren't interested.  I get it.  If I only see you here Monday-Wednesday-Friday, that is cool too.

To my email subscribers: (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
If you subscribe to my WEEKLY email, nothing will change.  The party will show up as one extra post in the weekly email on Monday mornings, so you have to do nothing.

If you subscribe DAILY, and you don't want to get one extra party email every week, you too will do nothing.  YOU WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY RECEIVE PARTY EMAILS with your current newsletter subscription.  After the first week, these posts will become 'opt in' and you must sign up to receive the one extra email every week. 

If you DO want to receive the party emails you can adjust your subscription preferences here (just fill out the form again with your current email and it will send you an email to update your subscription):

Subscribe to our mailing list

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Alternatively, you can adjust your email settings at any time using this button at the bottom your emails: 

I'm really looking forward to this great adventure with everyone!  And I can't wait to see the link up. 

Flashback Friday: Fall, Features and Transformations!

I was looking back at my projects in August, and I’m really REALLY proud of a lot of the posts I worked on this month.  I admit, that sometimes I get really busy and I go through phases where I feel like I’m just ‘calling it in’ and trying to get posts up and out and I'm not passionate about them.  It isn’t that the projects aren’t good or that people may not like them, but they aren’t my favorites.

This month didn’t have any posts like that.  This month I was super excited to press “publish” every time I finished a post.  Maybe it is because it is fall, and I feel like I have a direction to move in, or that I’m finally getting to some larger home projects and reveals.  In any case, here are some of August’s highlights:

Fall and Back to School Projects:

School Supply Organizer Teacher Gift:

Back to School Mantel:

Fall Mantel Roundup:


Room Reveals/Tutorials: 

Stairwell Landing Feature Wall:

Powder Room Beadboard Ceiling: 

Powder Room Makeover:

Find your Bathroom Style:


How to Etch Glass:

10 Spray Paint Transformations:

Tie Dye T-Shirt Quilts:



Tour through Blogland:

How to Paginate Blogger Posts:

5 Ways To Save Money:
I am really excited by some of the big projects and announcements I have in store.  In fact be sure to CHECK BACK ON MONDAY since I'm going to have a huge announcement about a project I've been working on for a while. I've never even dropped hints anywhere, so it should be a big surprise!  

(Or even better.. use the subscribe button below and have my announcement post delivered directly to your mailbox!)

Engraved and Illuminated Ornaments (Dremel Video Tutorial)

This is a big day for me! I'm excited (and nervous) to be presenting my first ever VIDEO TUTORIAL!

Yes, a little movie! In it I'll show you how to engrave plastic ornaments so you end up with these amazing creations:

And then, once you have them engraved, you can actually LIGHT THEM UP and they get even more amazing: 

Yep, a dollar store plastic ball ornament, a string of lights and a Dremel tool are all you need!

When Dremel asked me to create a project using their new  Dremel® Micro™ 8050 tool, which is geared for hobbies and crafts, I decided I wanted to spruce up some ornaments.  

And this project doesn't have to be only Christmas oriented.  You could carve orange balls with jack-o-lantern faces for Halloween, or personalize them for a birthday or special occasion:

So how did I do it?

I originally wanted to take step by step photos, but it was harder to explain in still photos, than it was to just do it.. so the video was created.  Working with the Dremel Micro 8050 is so easy, since it is cordless, lightweight, and is compatible with the other Dremel rotary tool accessories.

If you don't have one yet, you can find them at Home Depot or Amazon for $89.  This is a great starter project to get your feet wet.  Check it out:
See? I told you it was super easy!  And now you know what I actually sound like! Not sure if it is what you expected. 
If you do decide to make your own ornaments, or come up with another idea of a project perfect for your Dremel tool, you can enter Dremel's "My Brilliant Idea" sweepstakes.  

Here are the details:
Dremel wants to celebrate its fans’ brilliant projects, work and ideas! Now through October 12, share, tweet or post photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that depict your brilliant ideas using the hashtag#MyBrilliantIdeaSweeps for the chance to win weekly prizes, including free tools and handmade gifts, or the grand prize: a custom-engraved Honda scooter and a Micro 8050. Visit for rules and to learn more.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Sharing at these parties.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.