A Simple Tip That Will Improve Your Photography

rule of thirds

There are many things you can do to improve your photography, but there's one little rule which can make your photos look much more pleasing to the eye.  That rule is called the rule of thirds.  If you've studied art, design or photography then I'm sure you're already familiar with this traditional rule. I'm not an expert at photography and … [Read more...]

7 Simple Party Ideas

7 Simple Party Ideas

I've rounded up seven simple party ideas that are easy, but can take a party from drab to fab. Combine the ideas or pick one or two to focus on and keep things even more simple.  I have some secret boards on Pinterest where I collect ideas I find for future posts and these are a few of my favorites from other blogs.  I believe just by adding a few … [Read more...]

Embrace Curiosity

Curiosity quote

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." I love this quote by Walt Disney.   I recently had an experience where curiosity led me down a new path and helped me get out of a rut. I read a blog called the Decor Fix by Heather Freeman and noticed that … [Read more...]

10 Best Places to Eat & Drink in Chicago

10 Best Places to Eat & Drink in Chicago

Whenever I visit Chicago I like to shop and eat my way down Michigan Avenue.  There are so many great restaurants in Chicago.  I have a few stops I always have to make, but I also like to try new places.  This summer we spent a fun getaway weekend in Chicago with our old neighbors. They introduced us to a few new places they liked so I thought I'd … [Read more...]

Easy Entertaining with Mars Ice Cream

Easy Entertaining with Mars Frozen Treats

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mars Ice Cream. All opinions and photos are 100% mine. Do you ever associate food with a particular person? Whenever I think of ice cream I think of my Dad.  It's one of his favorite treats. He loved making us banana splits and root beer floats when I was a kid. As the collection of ice … [Read more...]

Simple & Delicious Recipes

simple and delicious magazine

I have some exciting news to share. I'm featured in Taste of Home's August/September issue of Simple & Delicious Recipes magazine. You can find it on newsstands starting today and  until September 8.  My Chocolate and Peanut Butter Goody (Crispy) Bars are part of the back-to-school treat ideas.  You can find the recipe on my past blog post here … [Read more...]

Two Important Lessons I Learned on My Break

blog break image

Someone once told me if you want to hear God laugh, make a plan. I am a planner at heart and planned to spend the month of June relaxing on the beach, reading lots of books, completing several home projects and using part of my blog break to re-evaluate my vision and goals for this blog.  Some of those things happened, but not the way I had … [Read more...]

Summer Break

summer quote

June is my birthday month and I've decided to give myself a break from blogging for the month of June and possibly even longer. I've enjoyed sharing stories, my favorite finds, decorating and entertaining ideas and recipes for the past three years, but I've been needing a break for quite some time. I've hesitated to take too long of a break in the … [Read more...]

Before and After Home Office & A Giveaway

gallery wall

I have been postponing showing you pictures of my new office area for months now because I didn't feel like my pictures did it justice. I've lived in my house for 16 years and it has evolved many times over those years.  We had an open computer desk originally and then bought this huge computer armoire so that everything would be hidden.  The only … [Read more...]

12 Foil Packet Recipes

12 foil packet recipes

Foil packet recipes are the bomb in my book. They are like the one pot meal for the grill and aren't just for camping.  I love that they save time by not having to clean pots and pans especially during the summer months when I'd rather be outside relaxing on my patio.  I've rounded up 12 foil packet recipes which I think look good and would like to … [Read more...]

My Almost Appearance on The Late Show

Me at the Late Show with David Letterman

image credit During my freshman year in college Late Night with David Letterman was a popular program on our 6th floor dorm's television set along with frequent visits from Pizza Shuttle.  I have to admit I haven't watched Letterman in years because I no longer stay up until 1:00 am in the morning on a weeknight.  Letterman's last show aired … [Read more...]

Farmhouse Fixer Upper

living room

Lately my husband has been watching the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper featuring husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines along with shows like Love it or List It and Beachfront Bargain Homes. I enjoy decorating and I love watching Joanna work her magic.  However, my husband and I aren't the fixer upper type.  He doesn't enjoy woodworking and … [Read more...]

Hot Cocktail Peanut Mix Recipe

hot and spicy peanut cocktail mix

This hot cocktail peanut mix is easy to mix up for a party or just enjoy it as a snack.  My friend Anne shared the recipe with me and the mix can be quite addictive.  It has just the right amount of heat to it, but you can also adjust the heat to your individual tastebuds. It's baseball season and this mix would be great to make for tailgate … [Read more...]

Where Hope Grows Movie Review

grocery store scene where hope grows

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Godspeed Pictures, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #wherehopegrowsmovie http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV”. "Where Hope Grows" is a new movie about love, faith, redemption and the friendship that grows between former Major League Baseball … [Read more...]

What It Means to be a Mother

quote on motherhood

What it means to be a mother is different depending on the stage of life you are in, but one thing that remains the same is that you will never stop loving or worrying about your kids. My kids are 19 and 16 so I haven't experienced them as adults, but I can't imagine never worrying about them in some regard. When my kids were younger I never … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

the ultimate oatmeal raisin cookie

I've titled this recipe the ultimate oatmeal raisin cookie because these are some of the best oatmeal raisin cookies I've ever had.  They only thing that would make them better is if you add some chocolate chips to the mix. Chocolate makes everything taste better in my opinion. My friend Cindy loves to make and test dessert recipes. She reads the … [Read more...]

4 Ways to Personalize a Party with Photos

4 ways to personalize a party with photos

I recently threw my husband a party for his 50th Birthday and used some old photos to personalize his birthday celebration.  I reserved a space at a local restaurant and there wasn't much time to decorate the area.  I also wanted to keep things simple and didn't want to lug tons of decorations or balloons into the restaurant.   After all, the … [Read more...]

Chicken Tamale Casserole

chicken tamale casserole

This chicken tamale casserole is a quick and easy Mexican dish and a delicious alternative to traditional tamales.  My friend Angela shared this recipe with me several months ago. I came across it again while searching for Mexican dishes to share for Cinco de Mayo. This chicken tamale casserole has a layer of corn spoonbread on the bottom and is … [Read more...]

The Selection Book Review

The Selection

A beach chair, sunglasses, sunshine and a good book bring me joy.  I was excited to receive a copy of The Selection by Kiera Cass right before our Spring Break trip to The Dominican Republic.  Every now and then I get drawn into a young adult series that really captures my attention.  My soon to be 16-year-old daughter will sometimes share a few of … [Read more...]

10 Things to Pretty Your Space

10 things to pretty your space

  The spring season makes me want to freshen up my home with flowers and plants, incorporate lighter spring colors with pillows, and get rid of clutter.  There are simple things you can do to pretty your space that don't cost a fortune. I've rounded up 10 ideas to help you pretty your space. 1. Add some fresh flowers to a room. … [Read more...]

4 Ingredient Guava Dip Recipe

guava dip

There are a few readers I know that have been waiting for about two years for this four ingredient guava dip recipe.  I hosted a party two years ago and my friend Kyra brought this guava dip.  It was a huge hit and had such an interesting flavor that everyone wondered what was in it.  The secret ingredient is guava paste.  Guava is a tropical … [Read more...]

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Life Changing Magic of Tidying

I came across the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up while browsing the staff recommended book section at Barnes & Noble several months ago.  At the time I was gung-ho about simplifying and decluttering my home and it's one of those book titles that makes you want to pick it up and read more.  I really didn't need to add another book to … [Read more...]

15 Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

15 gourmet grilled cheese recipes

It has been on my list to do list to share a grilled cheese roundup for sometime now.  I just recently learned that April is National Grilled Cheese Month after reading a post by my friend Michelle at A Dish of Daily Life. These 15 gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches combine different types of cheeses, meats, condiments and even roasted cauliflower … [Read more...]

Finding Joy When You’re In a Funk

finding joy without a beach

Have you ever been in a slump or as I like to call it a funk? I have many times and for the past several days I've been in one which makes it difficult to find the joy in the everyday. After coming back from my spring break vacation I thought I would be rejuvenated, but instead it just reminded me of how I long to live near the ocean.  My … [Read more...]

Mocha Chocolate Brownies

mocha chocolate brownies

These mocha chocolate brownies are rich, chocolaty and have a hint of coffee in them.  My friend Anne shared these brownies with me and although she's not a coffee drinker this is one of her favorite brownie recipes.  She often makes them for parties and they are a big hit.  I love chocolate and coffee so they are a big hit with me as … [Read more...]

10 minute Spring and Easter Centerpiece

Easter table centerpiece

This spring planter which can also be used an Easter table centerpiece took 10 minutes tops for me to put together. It simply requires a clay pot, soil, a narcissus plant, two licorice plants and a little something extra.  The little something extra could be a ceramic bird, mushroom, frog, or garden fairy.  It's whatever suits your fancy. I bought … [Read more...]

Gold Accessories Make Me Smile

gold home decor

I've been on a gold kick for the past year and gold accessories are currently in abundance.  I recently picked up a few necessities at Target and naturally I had to make my way down the home decor aisles.  The shelves were shinning brightly with gold home decor from Threshold and Nate Berkus.  I felt a big grin come across my face as I contemplated … [Read more...]

7 Easy Easter Tabletop Ideas

7 Easy Easter Tabletop Ideas

I've rounded up 7 easy Easter tabletop ideas which can be created in just a few minutes. I appreciate beautiful table settings and have a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to tablescapes. Creating a pretty table setting can be overwhelming and costly, but it doesn't have to be. These ideas are simple and don't require a ton of extra plates and … [Read more...]

Salmon Baked in Foil

baked salmon in foil packets with tomatoes

I've shared several of Chef Giada De Laurentiis' recipes and this is one of my favorites which also happens to be very easy.  The tomato topping on the salmon gives it a nice flavor and the best part about this recipe is there is minimal clean up since you bake the salmon in foil. My daughter isn't a big fan of tomatoes, but for some reason she … [Read more...]

Throwback Recipe Thursday

reader favorite recipes

As I mentioned on Monday, I'm on a little break this week.  Recipes are some of my more popular posts due to Pinterest so I thought I'd recap some of the recipes people have told me they made and loved.  You might find one or two you missed or it might be an opportunity to give one a try this week. Most of the recipes I make are very easy. I don't … [Read more...]

Throwback Smile Stories

smile quote

I'll be taking a little blogging break this week and hopefully a ton of smiling.  This past February marked my three-year blogging anniversary.  I've learned a lot in the past three years and I appreciate all of you who read my blog and follow me on my blogging journey. I thought I'd share some of my past favorite posts and perhaps you might … [Read more...]

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

peanut butter protein balls

These peanut butter protein balls make a great healthy pick me up in the morning, afternoon and evening. My hairstylist Nancy, who I also consider a friend, shared this recipe for Peanut Butter Protein Balls with me.  I look forward to seeing Nancy not only for a cut and color, but for the conversation. When you click with your hairstylist it's a … [Read more...]

Faith & Salmon Fishing in Yemen

faith quote

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase." This is one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I recently watched the movie Salmon Fishing in Yemen starring Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas. It's a story about fly fishing, political spinning, love and faith.  The cliff notes … [Read more...]

My Best Kept Secret for Stress Relief

RESUCE Remedy Pastilles

  I have several things I do to help relieve stress like taking yoga classes, journaling every morning, and praying, but my best kept secret is RESCUE Remedy.   I heard about RESCUE Remedy years ago on the Dr. Oz show.  I had to quit watching Dr. Oz otherwise I would currently own a small pharmacy, but that's a whole other story for a … [Read more...]

A Fire & Ice Party

fire and ice wreath

My friend Mary loves to entertain and when she throws a party she puts her heart and soul into it.  I've shared a few of her past parties here and here. The American Heart Association is a charity near and dear to her heart (no pun intended).  I had the opportunity to attend a Fire and Ice Party she hosted last month to raise funds for the American … [Read more...]

Slow Cooker Pork Stew with Cilantro

pork stew

A friend of mine recently asked me if I had any good crock pot recipes.  I made this pork stew with cilantro a few months ago and had forgotten to share it. This was the first time I'd ever made a pork stew and to be truthful the first time I've heard of a pork stew. I was pleasantly pleased with the results and will definitely make it again.  It's … [Read more...]

10 High-End vs Drugstore Makeup Products

high-end vs drugstore makeup products

If you're looking to refresh your makeup this Spring this list of 10 high-end versus drugstore makeup products may come in handy.  I'm not an expert on beauty products and have always struggled with applying makeup.  I tend to sport a more au naturel look; however, as I get older I'm finding the need to define my eyes more despite my not so steady … [Read more...]

The Smile List

mascarpone chocolate toffee bars 3

I'm sharing the recipe for these mascarpone chocolate toffee bars over at my friend Dina's blog Buttercream Bakehouse.  Dina is a military wife and mother and loves to share delicious desserts and party ideas on her blog.  She shared some of her favorite baking items on my blog in this past post.  My sister-in-law makes these mascarpone chocolate … [Read more...]

Italian Meatloaf Recipe

italian meatloaf

Meatloaf isn't one of the most original or exciting dishes, but this Italian Meatloaf recipe is one of my favorites.  I found the recipe in Cooking Light magazine years ago. The addition of sun-dried tomatoes and basil give it an Italian flavor and make it unique compared to your standard meatloaf recipe.  I'm part Italian and a little partial to … [Read more...]

An Author’s Favorite Books

an author's favorite books

One of my favorite things to learn about people is what their favorite books are. A person's book selections can tell you a lot about their personality and what excites or fascinates them. Susan W. Lyons is an avid reader and author of the children's book Sea Dogs (and a cat).  I shared her book in this list of books for the book lover in your … [Read more...]