Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hey, hope you are having a good week. Today's tip is definitely my favorite when it comes to gardening in crazy weather. Not all of us have the luxury of a green house to do our seed planting. I used to get frustrated until I started this method...I turned my utility room into a potting center. Now, when the weather is horrible (like lately), I can still plant my seeds and garden and wash clothes! I purchased a Gardener's mat and I lay it over my washer and dryer so no dirt etc, goes into my machine. Also makes clean up a snap. Any spilt dirt gets put back into my soil container. The mats are convenient inside and out and great as a trunk protector when purchasing plants as well. To keep items organized my husband put up 2 shelves over my washer/dryer for my baskets. I like to keep my seeds, gloves, small shovel etc. in one basket and my laundry items in others. I put potting soil in a sealed container so it doesn't attract any unwanted guests. I use small pots for seeds until weather permitting they can get transplanted outside. They say gardening is very therapeutic for the young and old....and I say "no matter what the weather is...I still get to play in the dirt". Enjoy!

Hint: you can purchase mat at your local hardware store or online. Just make sure the one you choose is machine washable and a waterproof backing.

NEXT:  "Outdoor Gardening Tips"

Email me any gardening tips you'd like to share at
Have a Blessed day from our home to yours, Cat

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Hey, hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. This week it's "all about tips". I'll share kitchen tips, design and gardening tips. Also, we'll be getting into the BBQ'ng season so please send any tips or recipes that you'd like to share. That's what it's all about...saving time in the kitchen so we can spend more time with our family. Enjoy!

* Place a paper towel between glass and plastic bowls to prevent them from sticking together in your pantry.
* Use a zip lock sandwich bag to cover your meat tenderizer when using. Makes cleanup a snap!
* Use a baby bottle cleaner to clean the groves in a meat tenderizer if needed. Also great to clean hard to reach places in a Humming Bird feeder.
*Spray your hand grater with nonstick cooking spray before grating cheese, etc. Makes clean up a snap!
*Rolling out non stick rubber liner (rubber shelf liner) underneath your cutting board or wax paper to prevent it from shifting with the force of the roller.
Hint...marble cutting boards are excellent due to the weight.
*Mixing bowls spinning when using hand non stick rubber liner on counter before setting bowl. Keeps it from spinning while mixing.
Hint...I keep a few sizes to have on hand in drawer for these tips and opening tight jars.
*Entertaining casual in the home or outdoors when using paper a package of wicker paper plate liners and spray paint them the color of your theme/decor. You'll be the talk of party!
*My daughter Nichole's tip...if you want your husband to cover a dish when warming it in the microwave...always keep a clean paper plate in the microwave. Smart girl :-)
*Onions...slice and dice right away and freeze in a freezer bag for individual servings. Thaw before using. Keeps smell out of refrigerator and convenient.
*Bananas going bad...freeze in freezer bag with skins on. Makes the best banana bread.
*Frosting a cooled cake on plate lined with parchment paper and place in freezer for 10-15 minutes before frosting. Keeps crumbs from getting into frosting.
*Potatoes...boil them ahead of time with their skins on and keep in an air tight container in fridge. Great time saving tip when doing hash browns or mashed potatoes on a work night. Cooking time just cut in half.
*Taco meat...keep on hand in refrigerator for a fast dinner. Makes great toppings for bake potatoes, nachos etc.

Hope you find some of these tips useful...send some of yours that you'd like to share.

Tomorrow: "Indoor Potting Center"

Email us any questions you have. Always glad to help and we respect your privacy.
Cat@ for design q's
Mark : for Constuction/remodel q's
George: for Realtor/Construction q's

Friday, April 22, 2011


Hey, Good Friday everyone! Today's recipe is my husbands favorite. Needless to say I always have this on hand. You know, in case I've done something to make him "mad". So delish and fun to make. Great dessert for Easter or any "special occasion". Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350*. Prepare cake mix to package directions. Grease sides and bottoms of two 9" round cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done (toothpick test). Cool in pan for 15 minutes on wire rack. Remove and cool completely on parchment paper before frosting. After it has cooled, place in a freezer bag and freeze for about 10 minutes to make frosting easy. Prepare peanut butter filling and frost only one layer with peanut butter filling (recipe below). Place 2nd layer on top and frost top and sides with chocolate ganache (recipe below). Delish!

Peanut Butter Filling:  1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tb. milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioner's sugar
In a medium bowl blend peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add in confectioner's sugar. As it starts to thicken, slowly add in milk until you get the consistency you need. Frost (center only)1st layer of cake.

Chocolate Ganache:  6oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy cream.
Warm cream in a non-stick pan on low-medium heat to it forms a soft boil, stirring constantly so it doesn't scorch. Remove and add to a bowl of chocolate chips. Cover to melt. Whisk until light and fluffy. Frost top and sides of cake. Delish!

TWIST:  Any left over peanut butter filling or chocolate ganache can be frozen for up to 2 weeks in a freezer friendly container. Thaw in refrigerator before using again.

Wishing everyone a Blessed Easter from our Home to Yours. Cat

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is doing well with this "Spring Weather". Crazy. Today's recipe is easy, delish and fun to make for your family's Easter gathering. Nothing like making an edible centerpiece. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  1 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. salt
8oz. chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt condensed milk, peanut butter and salt on low heat in a non-stick pan. Stirring constantly. Remove from heat when it starts to break away from sides of pan. Spray a medium sized glass with non-stick cooking spray. Pour into pan and let set in fridge for about 30 minutes or until it will form a ball stage. With a tablespoon scoop out candy and form into egg shape. Lay on tray lined with wax paper and freeze for about 10 minutes. (makes dipping easy). In a non-stick pan warm heavy cream, stirring constantly and pour over chopped chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes and mix well. Pour half in glass bowl and freeze for 10-15 minutes (or until set). Remove and dip your peanut butter into chocolate gnash. Plate on wax paper until set. Delish!

TWIST:  You can use fat free sweetened condensed milk with this recipe.
Die coconut for grass and place your "homemade easter candy" on top.
Great centerpiece when entertaining. Recipe freezes well. Place in a air tight container and thaw if regrigerator before serving.

Keep your Design and Construction q's coming. We are always glad to help and respect your privacy as well. Have a Blessed day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Hey, hope you guys are doing well...another rainy day here. Today's recipe was given to me "seventeen years ago" from a teacher in Nichole's elementary school. She knew that I had problems mastering a carrot cake. She told me this is a "no fail recipe and it's easy". I have to tell you, it is! It's easy, moist and another tradition in our home at Easter. You will definitely be the hit at any occasion with this carrot cake. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  3 cups carrots (peeled/grated)
2 cups, 1 Tb. flour (all purpose)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
1/2 cup pecans (chopped for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix dry flour, soda, cinnamon and salt in mixer until well blended. Add oil, eggs and carrots and pecans until well blended. Spread into 2 greased and floured round cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes (ovens vary) test with toothpick.
Cool in pan. Remove and frost with cream cheese recipe below. Delish!!!

HINT:  After cake has cooled, place each layer on wax paper, cover and freeze for 10-15 minutes. Makes frosting cake easy and the crumbs do not get into the icing while decorating.

Cream Cheese Frosting:  8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend cream cheese and butter in mixer until creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in vanilla and beat until creamy. Frost cake and garnish with chopped pecans.

TWIST:  If you are making this with kids, bake recipe in cupcake pans instead. Frost with cream cheese frosting and use food coloring to tint coconut for grass. Top each cupcake with grass and Easter candy. Makes a great presentation for a fund raiser as well.

Email me any recipes you'd like to share. Makes blogging fun :-)
Keep the design and Construction q's coming. As always, we respect your privacy.
Have a Blessed day.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Hey, hope you had a great weekend. Today's recipe is a staple around our house for Easter brunch or dinner. Also, a few tips on entertaining a crowd for Easter. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: 8 oz. cool whip (thawed)
3 oz. pkg. Strawberry jello
20 oz. can of Pineapple  chunks (drained)
11 oz. can of Mandarine oranges (drained)
1 cup Coconut
1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
Whole cherries w/ stems for garnish.

Mix jello with 1/4 cup of boiling water in glass bowl. Let set for 15 minutes. Add cool whip and mix thoroughly. Blend in pineapple, mandarine oranges, coconut and pecans. Cover and chill for one hour before serving. Serve in decorative bowls and garnish with a cherry. I like to die coconut green like grass and serve this on a small platter with the coconut around it. Makes a great centerpiece.

TWIST: You can substitute the cool whip for sugar free brand and jello as well. Recipe still taste great.

NEXT:  "Carrott Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting"

DESIGN TIP:  I like to make an inventory check list at least a week prior to event. Helps me stay focused and keeps me from getting the "entertaining jitters". Yes it's old school but it works. Remember, your amoung friends and family so if something goes a little "off schedule", relax. Learn from my mistake...don't try to do everything yourself.
Prep part of your meal ahead of time. Makes cooking a lot easier when entertaining.
Do a check list of dishes, linens, glassware that you will be serving.
Set the table the night before to save time.
Create a beverage area and dessert table for easy access.
For a relaxed dinner create a buffet where even you can sit down and relax with your guests. Most of all, don't forget the music to help create the ambiance while entertaining.

Email Cat@ for design q's
Mark: for Remodeling/Construction q's
George: for Realtor/Construction q's

Friday, April 15, 2011


Hey, I have to share this recipe. Last night I was at a homemakers meeting and we all made one of these. We filled it with chocolate moose and topped it with cherries, sprinkles, etc., you know...everything low cal. I have to tell you, us "adults" had a blast! Fun cute idea at any age. So, you know me, I had to put a "Twist" on it! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  1 pkg. Chocolate Fondue chips or candy melting chips
1 pkg. balloons
1 pkg. coconut
Green food coloring
Easter candy

Blow up balloons (small in scale) and set aside. Melt chips in double boiler or in glass bowl over pan filled half way with water. Melt chips just until warm, not hot due to balloons will pop when dipping. Remove from heat. Safely, holding tied end of balloon, dip balloon end into chocolate and slowly rock back and forth (12 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 9 o'clock then 3 o'clock). Only cover balloon half way up w/ chocolate. Make sure you get a good cover of chocolate on balloon. Set aside on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Let balloon cool until set. Takes about 45 minutes. Cut tied part of balloon and remove. You now have a tulip shaped candy bowl to fill. So adorable!

TWIST: Using green food coloring, die coconut to make grass. Fill each chocolate bowl with "grass and your favorite Easter candy". Makes fun and adorable center pieces on your table.
Safety: Please be careful with balloons and melted chocolate when doing this with your kids.

NEXT WEEK:  More Easter recipes, design and gardening tips.

"From our Home to Yours, have a Blessed weekend." Cat

Email Cat@ for Design q's
Mark: for Remodeling/Construction q's
George@ for Realtor/Construction q's


Hey, hope everyone is having a great week. Looks like we are going to have another spill of horrible weather this weekend. Due to this it will be a great time to bake. This recipe is fun to do with your kids and "cute" dessert when entertaining. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  Jelly roll pan (15x17)
Large "Easter Egg" cookie cutter
1 box Chewy fudge brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
4 oz. semi-sweet morsels
4 oz. chocolate bar

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Spray jelly roll pan w/non-stick cooking spray. In bowl blend brownie mix, eggs, water and oil. Mix well. Spread evenly in jelly roll pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes (ovens vary). Let cool. Cut brownies using egg shaped cookie cutter. Lay on cookie sheet lined w/waxed paper. Cover w/ cling wrap and freeze for 5 minutes or until firm. Remove, dip top side only into chocolate gnash (directions below). Lay back onto cookie sheet until chocolate sets up. Decorate with colored sprinkles or colored icing. They are adorable w/out the extra decor if you need to cut back on the sugar. Have fun!

Chocolate Gnash: Heat heavy cream in non-stick pan on low-medium heat until hot but not scolding. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove and pour into bowl with chopped chocolate bar and morsels. Cover for 3 minutes with plate on top. Whisk until well blended. Let stand until set.

TIP: You can remove 1/2 of gnash and place in small flat baking pan and place in freezer for a "quick set" method. Takes about 10-15 minutes to get a thick texture. Remove and dip brownies into.

NEXT: "Yes you can have your "bowl and eat it too"!!!

Thanks to everyone for sending me their favorite recipes and tips. Makes "blogging fun"!!!!!
Keep the Design and Construction q's coming. We are always glad to help.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is well. We've had crazy weather lately! It's like we're back in Texas, one day it's sunny...then cold...and high winds and rain. When our weather acts up our Internet is super slow! Weather permitting, we've got catching up to do! Today's recipe is a "staple" in our home. Easy Comfort food recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  1# Lean ground beef
1# Pork sausage
1 Bell pepper (chopped)
1/2 red onion (chopped)
1 140z. Diced Tomatoes (Basil, Garlic, Oregano)
2-3 8oz. Tomato sauce (B,G,O)
1 6oz. Tomato paste (B,G,O)
2 TB. Chili powder (or to taste)
2 cups Macaroni noodles (cooked-al dente)
3 oz. Cream cheese

In large non-stick pan saute chopped bell peppers and onions in olive oil. Add ground beef and pork sausage. Cook on medium heat. When meat is cooked thoroughly add diced tomatoes, sauce and paste. Stirring completely. Season with chili powder and let simmer on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook pasta until al-dente. Drain and add to meat. Add cream cheese and simmer until cream cheese is completely melted. You can add more seasonings if you wish but remember your diced tomatoes, sauce, etc., are already seasoned. I renamed this recipe because it's so good and it deserved a more sophisticated name :-) Enjoy!

Tomorrow:  "Easter brownies w/ Chocolate Gnash"

Keep the emails coming. We are always glad to help.
Cat @ for Design q's
Mark: for Remodeling/Construction q's
George @ for Realtor/Construction q's

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gardening tip "Living Wall"

Hey, hope everyone had a blessed "Spring Break". I spent mine recuperating from my nasal surgery. Want to thank everyone for the prayers and emails. Highly recommend having a sinus scan done if you think you only have allergies. Oh, thanks to the one who sent me "The Texas Tissue"...Good one!!! I believe "Spring" is here...not so sure lately in Indiana :-). I've had some emails on gardening q's while I was recuperating. Hmmm...somebody knows me too well...This month I will be sharing Easter tips,  Gardening tips and healthy Easter candy even your big "kids" will love.

Architectural shutter revemped into a garden trellis? I have to share this with a Designer this is a great idea. Striking focal point in your landscaping, minimum cost in materials...especially if you keep the "old vintage look" by not spending the money and painting it. I would invest my money in striking plants with vibrant colors for the focal point. You could even hang a wreath on it for a more inviting look. Enjoy and have fun!

Tip: If you find a pair of shutters that don't look stressed enough...take a wire brush and scrape the paint off. You can even spray some paint on shutter and after it dries scrape the paint off for the old vintage look. Fun way to add color if your not using your plants for that application.

Items needed: Pair of salvaged shutters
Wood screws
Shellac or water-based varnish (optional)
Secure shutters together forming V shape with wood screws. Make sure slats are facing same direction. Secure base of shutters in ground etc. to protect from wind. I'm using rebarb at base to secure in dirt. Use drought-resistant plants that don't require alot of care. Put soil between slats and carefully instert plants. Add moss for moisture and let moss trail out as well. Just remember safety if you have children. Shutters are heavy.

Tomorrow:  Cats Goulosh

Keep the questions coming. We are always glad to help.
Email Cat @ for design q's
Mark: for Remodel/Construction q's
George @ for Realtor/Construction q's

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Hey, Happy St. Patricks Day! I know today's recipe should be "Irish Stew"...sorry Dad :-) but it's a take-off from my Bean Soup from yesterday. Great recipe when entertaining a crowd. The "Pistachio Fruit Salad" is a great recipe for an "Irish dessert".
"May the LOVE of the Irish fill your heart Today, Tomorrow and Always".

Ingredients: 4 leg quarters (cooked/shredded)
Chicken broth
Tortilla strips or chips
Avacado Slices
Queso Fresco or shredded Mozzerella Cheese

Prepare "bean soup recipe". Add cooked/shredded chicken. Simmer 2-3 hours adding chicken stock as needed. Season to taste with Cilantro. Serve in bowls with sliced avacado and garnish with queso fresco or shredded mozzerella cheese. Serve with tortilla strips or chips. I serve tortilla strips on the side to prevent them from getting "soggy" in soup. Also makes a great presentation when serving guests.

Tip:  I purchased a pkg. of 6 leg quarters for $3.80 (family pack). Used 4 in tortilla soup and saved money using broth from chicken in soup. Plus...cooked another meal BBQ'g the other two. Now that's a savings!!!

Speaking of Savings...we are three months into the's the "Coupon Project" going? Start a "Swap" at work or with friends.'ll be giving yourself a raise by the end of the year and have money for that family vacation. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Hey, hope everyone had a "taste of sun" today. Beautiful day in Indiana! Today's bean soup recipe has a couple of steps to follow but the smell is worth the wait. Recipe freezes well and it's also the starter of my "homemade tortilla soup". I love recipes that you can have for two nights and you serve two completely different meals. Gives a new meaning to the term "leftovers". Enjoy!

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups pinto beans (wash/rinse)
2-3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup onion (chopped)
1 cup bell pepper (chopped)
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chillies
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, and oregano)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tb. celery salt (or one cup chopped fresh celery)
1 Tb. chili powder
1/4 cup cilantro (finely chopped)

In large pot cover beans with two inches of water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for one hour. Return to heat and add 2 cups of chicken stock, onions, tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasonings and cilantro. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 2-3 hours adding chicken stock as needed. Taste throughout cooking process to add more seasoning if needed. Beans are done when desired tenderness is reached. Serve with cornbread or garlic bread. Delish!

Tomorrow:  "Chicken Tortilla Soup"

Design Tip:  Recently reeding an article on homes featured with "Pocket Doors". As a designer I have to share this one. Pocket doors dates back to the Victorian era. They are great space savers especially if you are remodeling a small space. We have one going into the "Man Cave" and it's extremely convenient when not all of us want to watch a movie. Yet gives a room more of an "open look" when not in use. They disappear into walls sliding sideways, typically on overhead rollers, tucking into a wall compartment instead of swinging on hinges into a room. Pocket doors save about ten square feet of floor space and great usage in bathrooms, closets, utility rooms and small areas. The wall housing a pocket door must be non-load bearing and wide enough to fit the door and hardware. A great design tip when you are remodeling or building a new home. Email Mark (info below) if you have any remodeling questions before purchasing pocket doors. Always glad to help.

Email design q's to Cat at
Mark: Remodeling/New Construction q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is having a great day. Todays recipe is an all american comfort food dish. Very rich and delicious as a side dish or by itself. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  Whole grain Penne Pasta
6-8 slices bacon
2 cups slices baby bella mushrooms (wipe clean)
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup of mozzerella cheese

Cook pasta to package directions. Drain. In a non-stick pan cook mushrooms in butter until tender. Remove mushrooms and place in a casserole dish sprayed with pam. Add bacon to pan and cook completely. Remove from pan and cool/crumble into pieces. Place in casserole dish with mushrooms. Add 1 tablespoon flour to mushroom/bacon pan, mix and add cream cheese and milk stirring constantly on low heat until sause thickens. You can add a tablespoon of lemon zest if you wish. In casserole dish fold in cooked noodles, sause with mushrooms and bacon. Mix in 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425* for about 15-20 or until slightly brown on top. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Twist:  If you are entertaining bake and serve in individual side dishes. Always nice to add a special touch when serving to your guests.

You can always substitute frozen (drained) spinache for the mushrooms as well.

Vegeterain twist:  Omit bacon and cook with mushroom and spinache.

Tomorrow:  "Bean Soup"

Email your design q's to Cat @ Always glad to help.
Mark at for New Construction/Remodeling q's
George at for Realtor/Construction q's

Monday, March 14, 2011


Hey, this week will be a few of my "comfort recipies". I am having a minor surgery friday morning so the "kitchen will be closed for the weekend". The recipes are easy, healthy and freezer friendly. I may be out of the kitchen for a couple of days but I will still have my favorite meals. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 3 lrg sweet potatoes
6-8 golden potatoes
2 cloves garlic
2-3 cups chicken broth
1-2 cups milk

Pre-heat oven to 450*. Peel and chop potatoes and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Crush garlic and mix well. Roast until tender and golden brown. In a large non-stick stew pot add potatoes and slightly mash using a potato masher. (Leave some chunks) Add chicken broth and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add milk until you get the consistency that you desire. I like for the soup to be thick and chunky where you see the beautiful colors of the potatoes. Serve in a bowl and garnish with sour creme or mozzarella cheese on top. Delish!

Tomorrow: " Bacon/Mushroom Casserole"

Design Tip:  This is a great tip for outside activities with your little ones. We all know the Easter Bunny will be coming soon and yard activites are right around the corner...recently found foam colored puzzle pieces that come in a carry bag. Conventient to put together and great for a comfortable outside mat for your little ones. They make great activity mats in your childs room as well.

Hint: For the "big kid" in your life you can purchase similiar mats at your local hardware store. They are in the flooring department and great for working/standing on in the garage etc. Link together as well.

Keep your design and construction q's coming. We're always glad to help. Have a blessed evening, Cat

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Tortillas w/ Hazelnut spread and Bananas"

Hey, this is a fun dessert to do with your kids. It's healthy and fun. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  Flour Tortillas (whole wheat or regular)
Hazelnut spread with cocoa
Bananas (sliced thinly)

Warm tortilla in pan. Remove. Spread hazelnut and sliced bananas then top with another tortilla. Return to pan and cook until both sides are slightly brown. Cool. Slice and plate.

Adult version: Plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar and mint leaf.

Keep the emails coming. Have a blessed weekend, Cat


Hey, this recipe is my twist on a coffee cake. Very moist and great recipe for entertaining or any special event. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 2 large Golden Delicious apples (filling)
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour creme
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups cake flour (found in baking section in store near flour)
Bundt pan
Filling: 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup brown sugar, peeled/chopped apples, mix well.
Topping: 20 caramels unwrapped and 1/4 cup milk

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Fold in sour cream and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and fold in, mixing well. Spoon half of mixture into greased/floured bundt pan. Add filling and spread evenly over first layer. Top with remaining cake mixture. Bake for 50-55 minutes (ovens vary). Cool 15 minutes and remove from pan onto decorative cake plate. Drizzle with caramel right before serving. Delish!

Caramel drizzle:  melt caramels and milk in microwave until melted, stirring occasionally. Let cool or until slightly thickened. Drizzle over cake.

Hint:  In a hurry...omit caramel topping and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Holiday option:  Mix powdered sugar with milk and drizzle over cake. Decorate as a "Wreath" using clusters of cinnamon jems as berries.


Hey, hope everyone is having a good week. We've had rain/winds this week which equals "slow Internet" service. I love living in the country but their is two things I do have a hard time with...Internet service and skunks. Going to post dessert recipes and pray service doesn't go down. Turtle pie is my daughter Nichole and step-daughter Amber favorite dessert during the Holidays. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  1 unbaked pastry shell ( I use the frozen in box)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
20 caramels (unwrapped)
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg (beaten)
2 Tb. butter (melted)
6 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted)
Vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans (garnish)

Pre-heat oven to 325*. Prepare pastry shell to pkg. directions. Sprinkle chopped nuts into pie shell. In non-stick saucepan, melt caramels over low heat with 2/3 cup of condensed milk. Spoon over walnuts. In bowl, combine egg, butter and remaining milk. Mix well and stir in melted chips. Pour mixture over caramel layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes (ovens vary) or until center is done (test with tooth pick). Cool/slice. Plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and garnish with chopped pecans. Delish!

Twist:  I have substituted sweetened condensed milk with the "fat free" brand. Not quite as rich and the color of pie is a little lighter brown. Serve with low-fat ice cream and you have a healthier version.

Hint:  Cover the edge of pie crust with a pie crust cover or make your own using aluminum foil. Prevents burning of edges before pie is done.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is doing well. Today's recipe is one of my daughter's favorites. Great recipe to make with your kids or a delicious party dessert as well. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  8-10 graham crackers (crushed)
1/2 stick butter
8oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups strawberries (chopped)

Pre-heat oven to 375*. Spray a cupcake pan with non-stick spray. Process butter with graham crackers until well blended. Fill cupcake bottoms and press firmly. Blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Fill each cupcake holder about 3/4 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. (ovens vary) Cool. Cover and chill for 2-3 hrs in refrigerator. Crush strawberries in medium bowl and add enough sugar to coat. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with cheesecakes. Remove cooled cheesecakes and plate. Top with strawberry topping and garnish with a mint leaf if desired.

Tomorrow:  "Turtle Pie"

Keep the emails coming. We are always glad to help. Have a blessed everning.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Hey, hope everyone had a great weekend. This weeks recipes are a "few" of our family's favorites. Desserts that are easy to make and great for entertaining. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  small box Jello Instant pudding (Pistachio flavored)
8 oz. cool whip (lite)
1 cup marshmellows
1/2 cup chopped marashino cherries
15 oz. can mandarine oranges (drained)
20 oz. can pineapple chunks (drained)
1 cup chopped pistachios

Mix pudding and cool whip by hand in large bowl. Fold in marshmellows, cherries, oranges, pineapple chunks and pistachios. Cover and chill in refridgerator for at least one hour before serving. Great dessert with your St. Patrick's Day meal.

Hint:  You can substitute pecans for pistachios if you wish.

Tomorrow:  "Mini Strawberry Cheesecake's"

Keep the design q's coming. We're always glad to help.
Email Cat @
Mark: New Construction/Remodel q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Friday, March 4, 2011


Hey, hope all is well. Today is an emotional day for grandson "Davin" is 6 months today. Seems like yesterday we were blessed with his arrival. To all you grandparents...always tell your grandchildren you love matter how old they are. It's so neat hearing my daughter Nichole talk about her child hood memories. Again, seems like yesterday. Today are a "few" kitchen tips that have saved me along the way. Enjoy!

Frosting a Cake:  Freeze cake for about 15-20 minutes before frosting. Prevents cake from crumbling into frosting when decorating.

Decorating a cake:  Line plate with Parchment paper before adding cake. Trim off excess paper with exacto knife after decorated. Non messy and easier to slice off plate while serving.

Parchment paper:  Line baking trays for even cooking. Helps with clean-up as well.

Mandoline blades:  Mark sharp side with a sharpie pen. Lay face down to prevent cutting hands when grabbing.

Plastic containers:  Spray with cooking spray before adding spaghetti sauces, etc. Prevents plastic from staining.

Labels:  Use tape marked with sharpie pen to label your food items on containers. Freezer labels can be expensive.

Microwave:  Clean your microwave with water and lemon juice. Steam/cool. Makes wiping off food easier.

Omeletes:  When cooking, tip your pan and let excess egg run underneath. Cover and repeat process until top is cooked. Add fillings and flip one side only. Cover and cook. Garnish with shredded cheese on top if one side is more browned.

Croutons:  Spread day old bread with butter, garlic salt and parsley. Cut into squares. Bake on baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 350* until cooked. Store in air tight container in refridgerator.

Best tip:  Keep your "Staples in your Kitchen" pantry stocked. Helps with those hectic nights...Honey what's for Dinner?

Have a blessed weekend. Thanks for all your emails. We're always glad to help.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is doing well. Today's recipe is my all time favorite. I've put my own twist on a lengthy recipe. I've served this soup on several occasions and everyone enjoyed it and wanted recipe. I now have copies on hand for everyone. You need to plan on a few hours in the kitchen but trust me...It's worth it. Enjoy!

Tomato-Basil Soup Ingredients:
1 lrg. onion (chopped)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 28 0z. can whole tomatoes (garlic, basil, oregano)
1 6 0z. can tomato paste (garlic, basil, oregano)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth ( or homemade broth)
1/2 cup sliced celery
2 Tb. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
3 Tb. Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
2-3 tsp. lime juice
3-6 Basil leaves (chopped) or 1 Tb. dried basil for garnish
Sour creme for garnish

In large pot cook onion in olive oil until tender. Add un-drained whole tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, celery and herbs. Bring to boil, reduce heat-simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Cool. In blender, blend 1/2 tomato mixture at a time until smooth. (hint: hold lid on blender tightly) Return to pot, add lime juice. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Top w/ sour creme and fresh basil for garnish. Delish!

Dilly Cheese Bread Ingredients:
3 cups Biscuit mix
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 Tb. sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg (beaten)
1 Tb. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. Dill (I use dry instead of fresh)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Combine in large bowl biscuit mix, cheese, sugar. Mix remaining ingredients in second bowl. Stir into dry mixture beating. Blend well. Beat slightly to remove lumps. Bake in a greased 5x9 loaf pan until golden brown @ 350* for about 45-50 min. (ovens vary).
Let cool. Slice and serve with your favorite Herb butter.

TOMORROW: " Kitchen Tips"

Keep the emails coming. We're always glad to help. Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is enjoying the sun. This time of year I tend to get a little "anxious" and want to start my outside gardening. Weather still crazy so I guess I'll stick to the "blue prints". Today are a few of my favorite things to do with herbs. Entertaining ideas and gifts that are easy on the budget. Enjoy!

Herb vinegars are an extremely popular use for home grown herbs. To make herb vinegar place herbs in a jar or bottle and cover with white vinegar and secure with a tight lid, store the bottle in a cool, dry place. After steeping for 4-6 weeks, the vinegar can be pored off into smaller bottles and capped. Everyone loves homemade gifts and this will sure be a hit at your next celebration. Tie the bottles with a recipe card of your favorite recipe using the herb. Makes a great decor on your kitchen counter as well.

Herb butter can be made with the addition of about 4 tablespoons full of dried herb leaves and a dash of lemon juice to 1/4 pound of softened butter. Store the butter in the refrigerator in a covered dish. I like to form it into a log and then freeze. Right before serving slice with a butter slicer and plate. Very decorative when entertaining.

Mint leaves in ice...wash mint leaves and place in ice cube trays. Fill with water and freeze. Make enough for individual glasses and for your glass pitcher of your favorite beverage. I grow mint leaves all year and do this tip always when entertaining.

TOMORROW:  "Recipes w/ Herbs Part 2"

DESIGN TIP:  Had an email on advice for settling design arguments with your spouse. Hmm...hesitant to comment but we all go through this. I used to design for Robb & Stucky Interiors and we had Dueling Designers on Saturday's. I always said we should have "Dueling Spouses" instead. Seriously...designs are meant to show your creativity and personal lifestyle in your home. If you get to that argumentative stage...stop and take a breather, you are probably getting too excited or on a time crunch. Go to lunch or dinner and start fresh the next day. You may even come up with another solution to the style you originally wanted. As a Designer, I have to remember that my husband has excellent taste and likes to get involved in the design process as well. I've learned to ask his opinion and combine our creativity. Goes a lot smoother :-) Hope this helps.

Keep the Design question's coming. We are always glad to help.
Email Cat @
Mark: New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Hey, can you believe it's already March first...seems like yesterday we were celebrating Christmas. Today, I'll be sharing some herb tips. Growing your own herbs can save you a lot of money. Depending on your windows you can grow herbs all year round in your home. Certain herbs produce a fragrant aroma and flower that makes a great centerpiece. Enjoy!

Harvesting time for an herb is best determined by the growing condition of the herb, rather then by a specific date or month. Always check your zone for growing times. Most herbs are ready to be harvested just as the flower buds first appear. The leaves contain the maximum amount of volatile oils at this stage of growth, giving the greatest flavor and fragrance to the finished product. To extend the use of herbs into the winter months, plan to harvest and dry various herbs during the summer and fall. Herbs should be harvested at the proper time of the day, early in morning, just before the sun is hot. Their fragrance makes this early task quite enjoyable.

Annual herbs can be cut back several times during harvest. Using a sharp knife or pruning shears, cut just above a leaf or a pair of leaves, leaving 4-6 inches of the stem for later growth. If an annual herb is grown for it's seeds, it should not be cut back and used for the leaves. Allow the plants to mature fully and then harvest them. Collect the seed heads when they are turning brown by cutting them from the plants and drying them on a tray made of very fine wire mesh.

When drying whole branches or stems first wash and dry, then gather 5 to 8 stems together and tie them into a bundle. Place the bundle into a brown paper bag with the stems extending out the open end and hang in a dark warm place (70 to 80 degrees F). Depending on temperature and moisture, drying time will take 2-4 weeks. Tray drying is usually used for short-stemmed herbs or for individual leaves. The trays should be kept in a warm, dark place until the herbs are dry.

Microwave ovens can be used for quick drying of herbs. Care must be taken, for herbs can't be desiccated too quickly at too high a temperature or much of the flavor, oils, and color of the herbs will be lost. Place the clean stems or leaves on a paper plate or towel and set the control on high for 1-3 minutes, turn the stems over or mix the leaves every 30 seconds.

Drying with conventional oven, place the stems on a cookie sheet or shallow pan and warm at no more than 180* for 3-4 hours with the oven door oven. Store the herbs in an airtight jars in a cool, dry place. If the entire stems were dried, remove the leaves and crush or crumble then in jars. Herbs must be completely dried or they will mold and jars away from direct sunlight and heat.

My favorite is using dehydrating herbs in my toaster oven. Uses less electricity. Certain herbs like chives and basil due have a "smelly" scent (so I've been told by my husband). Always, test a small amount of herbs first so you don't waste a full batch.

TOMORROW:  "Recipes w/ Herbs Part 1"

DESIGN TIP:  You do not need a large area for growing herbs. Herbs grow nicely in pots and also make great decor around your patio as well. I plant herbs in small pots around my BBQ area for that "quick snip" when cooking.

Keep the question coming.
Email Cat @ for design q's
Mark:  mrowe@roweandcampbell New Construction/Remodel q'
George: for Realtor/Construction q's

Monday, February 28, 2011


Hey, hope everyone had a great weekend. This weeks recipes will consist of tips in the kitchen. I've received emails on choosing the correct herbs when seasoning so I hope this helps. Enjoy!

Anise:  Leaves used in salads, soups, beverages, meats and poultry. Seeds used to flavor cakes, bread, and cookies.

Basil:  "Sweet" Used mainly with tomato and egg dishes, stews, soups, and salads. Also, great in vegetable, poultry and meat dishes.

Caraway:  Seeds in breads, cakes, cookies, potato salad, and baked fruit pies.

Chives:  Great mild onion flavor to dips, spreads, soups, salads, omelets, casseroles and vegetables.

Coriander:  Seeds great in baking dishes, poultry dishes, and French salad dressing.

Dill:  Leaves are great in salads, cottage cheese, soups, fish dishes, omelets, sauces.
Seeds are used in pastries, sauces, sauerkraut dishes, and flavoring vinegar.

Fennel:  Leaves and seeds are great in fish dishes, cheese spreads, and vegetable dishes.

Marjoram: "Sweet" Leaves used in meat dishes, poultry, vegetable dishes, potato salad, and egg dishes.

Mints:  Leaves are great when flavoring teas and other beverages, great in lamb sauces and jellies.

Oregano:  Great in spaghetti sauces and tomato dishes.

Parsley:  Garnish in soups, salads, meats, and poultry.

Rosemary:  Gourmet seasoning for meats, poultry dishes, and potatoes.

Sage:  Seasoning for meats, stuffing, soups and salads.

Tarragon:  (French) Excellent in sauces and herb vinegars.

Thyme:  Leaves are great in meats, soups, sauces and egg dishes.

TOMORROW:  "Drying and Harvesting Herbs"

Keep the food and design questions coming. We are always glad to help.

Email Cat @
Mark: New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Friday, February 25, 2011


Hey, hope all is well...crazy night here. Between high winds, sleet, snow and a "Skunk" spraying outside my bedroom window, I'm exhausted. Hopefully, today will be better. Today's recipe is an all time favorite in our home. The recipe can be prepared so many different ways when entertaining and great for family picnics. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  3 chicken breasts (cooked)
3 celery stalks (shaved)
1 golden delish apple (shaved)
1 cup red grapes (cut in half)
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
3 roman tomatoes (chopped)
3-4 sweet gherkin pickles (chopped)

Chop cooled chicken into small pieces. In a large bowl add all ingredients and mix with mayonnaise until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Using your favorite bread, spread one side with mayonnaise and other with honey Dijon mustard. Add chicken salad and serve with chips or use some of the twists below.

TWIST:  Shaving the celery and apple gives your salad a softer texture when serving. Substitute chicken with left over turkey at Thanksgiving.
Entertaining tips:
Serve on bib lettuce
Stuff green, red, or yellow bell peppers (just cut tops off and fill)
Serve on a decorative plate with tomato/basil crackers

NEXT WEEK:  "Kitchen Tips" I will be sharing some family tips passed down and a few of my own. Keep the questions coming. Have a blessed weekend, Cat

Email Cat @ for Design q's
Mark: New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is having a great week. Today's recipe is delicious and great side salad when entertaining. We are going to "curl" the cucumbers instead of slicing them. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  3-4 medium cucumbers
1 pt. grape tomatoes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 red onion sliced
Fresh Parmesan cheese (garnish)

DRESSING:  Whisk 1 cup mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons of Italian Dressing.

Using a potato peeler thinly slice cucumbers creating twirls. Finely chop any cucumber that doesn't wish to curl. In a serving bowl combine cucumber with tomatoes, sun flower seeds and sliced red onions. Mix with dressing and shave fresh Parmesan cheese on top just before serving. Easy and Delish!

TOMORROW:  "Chicken Salad"

DESIGN TIP:  The weekend is approaching. Do a "walk through" of your accessories in your home that you may not use. Now call your girlfriends! Have an "Accessory Swap"...sounds crazy but it's fun. Prepare brunch or have everyone bring a dish. You'll have a blast and you're saving money while getting a new look in your home.

We appreciate all your emails.

Email Cat @ for Design q's
Mark: New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Hey, we're half way through the week. I noticed today on my calender states in 1991 Desert Storm , ground war began and ended on the 27th after 100 hours. I know a lot of us have family fighting for our country, (my son-in-law Dace served two deployments in Iraq) so I'd like to extend a prayer to those serving our country and to say thank you. Pray for peace for our country.
Todays' recipe is a twist on a pasta salad that I enjoyed last year at a Christmas Party. The chef would not share the dressing recipe with us ladies. Believe me we did everything except tie him down for it. ( I have my dignity) Salad is colorful and a great way to "show off" your knife skills. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups Radiatore pasta
1/2 red and yellow bell peppers (thinly sliced)
1 zucchini
3 celery stalks
3 sm sweet gherkin pickles
8 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
1/4 cup sliced salad olives w/pimentos
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
Fresh Parmesan cheese (garnish)
DRESSING: Whisk together 1 cup mayonaise with 3 Tablespoons of Italian Dressing with 2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar.

Cook pasta until al dente'. Drain and let cook in large bowl. Mix dressing in small bowl and let cool in refridgerator. Thinly slice vegetables (cutting at angle), add to pasta. Add olives and sunflower seeds. Mix well and add dressing. Cover and refridgerate 2-3 hours before serving. Served in a decorative bowl and garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan cheese just before serving.

TWIST: You can add any vegetables that you desire. Prepare the vegetables and store in air tight container in refridgerator the night before to save prep time when entertaining. Healthy salad for lunch at work.

TOMORROW: Cucumber Salad

DESIGN TIP:  Had an email on decorating with a "Neutral palete" when you have children. Great question. When decorating always take your family's lifestyle into consideration. Choose a "base color" to coordinate your fabric. Doesn't have to be white or beige. Example: brown leather sofa w/ accent pillows in red or robin-egg blue looks great. Black sofa w/ accent pillows in sage green, blue or white compliments well.
Use your accents to compliment your decor. Meantime your furniture is "kid friendly". Trust me..."Trendy and Practical"...hope this helps.

Email Cat @ for Design q's
Mark: for New Construction/ Remodel q's
George: for Realtor/Construction q's

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is doing well. Woke up to sleet and ice here. I had a great comment on the sweet potato fries. My daughter had seen them being served in the school cafeteria. Glad to hear that! I have to tell you, I am not a sweet potato fan but I love the fries. Today's recipe takes five minutes to prep before serving. A healthy side and eye apealing as well when entertaining. I am going to share an email from my mother-in-law "Ann" on food moods instead of a Design tip. Her son and I laughed while reading this email...just gotta love her!

INGREDIENTS: baby leaf spinache leaves
large can mandarine oranges (drained)
Poppy seed dressing
1 cup of pecans

In a serving bowl mix enough poppy seed dressing to coat spinache leaves. Add drained mandarine oranges and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Mix well. Garnish with 1/2 cup of whole pecans. Easy and delish!

FOOD MOODS:  "our mood dictates what we eat" Don't continue to read if you don't have a good sense of humor. My husband and I are "crunchy people" we love texture when eating. Yikes!
If you crave tough foods, like meat, or hard and "crumchy foods", you could be feeling angry.
If you crave sugars, you could be feeling depressed.
If you crave soft and sweet foods, like ice cream, you could be feeling anxious.
If you crave salty foods, you could be stressed.
If you crave bulky, fill you-up foods, like crackers and pasta, you could be feeling lonely and sexually frustrated.
If you crave anything and everything, you could be feeling jealous.
Wow....I told you not to read if you didn't have a good sense of humor. Seriously, this was in a newspaper and written by a best selling author. States by feeding our souls with things other than food we strengthen our self-control and our physical and mental health. Hmm...I wonder why she sent this to me :-)

TOMORROW:  sorry..."Italian Pasta Salad"

Keep the tips and questions coming.
Email Cat @ for Design q's
Mark: New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: Realtor/Construction q's

Monday, February 21, 2011


Hey, hope everyone had a great weekend. We had beautiful weather Friday and Saturday then woke up to sleet Sunday morning. Prayed for warm weather in church! This weeks recipes are side salads that compliment any dinner entre'. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  couscous
LeSueur sweet peas (drained)
Italian dressing
3/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Cook Couscous per pkg. directions for the amount of servings needed. I use 2 servings of couscous for the following. Add ingredients as needed per servings. Let cool. In a large bowl whisk 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2-3 tablespoons of Italian Dressing. Mix well. Add drained sweet peas, shredded cheddar cheese and cooled couscous. Mix well and fold in pecans or walnuts. Serve in a decorative bowl or on bib lettuce if entertaining.

TWIST:  Make the night before and refrigerate. Delicious and healthy lunch for work the next day. I love it cold.

TOMORROW:  "Spinach w/ Mandarin Oranges"

DESIGN TIP:  Had an email from my tip on kitchen backsplash. Friend needed extra lighting while prepping food and cannot afford the cost of under cabinet lighting. Ahh...know the pain. We live in an older home and are on an extreme budget for upgrading certain areas. You can get the self-mounting under cabinet lighting pucks at your local hardware store. As a designer, I went the other kitchen is vintage so I have a small scaled lamp on my prep counter. It's accessorized with wrought iron fleur-d'leis, looks trendy yet produced that extra "task lighting" I needed. As always, consult a professional on a electrical desision. Hope this helps.

Email Cat @ for Design q's
Mark: for New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: for Realtor/Construction q's

Friday, February 18, 2011


Hey, another sunny day. Makes me want to BBQ on the grill. Unfortunately, we have another cool front coming. Today's recipe can be grilled outside or baked in the oven. Either way they are healthy and delicious. Also, a design tip on outdoor patio furniture. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: 3-4 sweet potatoes
kosher salt
mandoline (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375*. Microwave sweet potatoes for 3-4 minutes. Helps soften the potatoe for cutting. Cool, peel and cut into wedges. Bake on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Season potatoes with kosher salt, olive oil and cracked black pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender (ovens vary). Turn potatoes over half way through cooking process for even baking. Healthy comfort food!

TWIST:  slice potatoes with a mandoline ( round slices). Spray a round cake pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Layer potatoes with olive oil, kosher salt, cracked pepper. Repeat process. Season layers lightly. Bake as above. Flip onto a decorative plate. Top with a dollip of sour creme and garnish with parsley. Healthy and attractive side dish when entertaining.

NEXT WEEK:  "Side salads" great as a side dish while entertaining or by itself. Have a blessed weekend. Cat

DESIGN TIP:  When choosing your fabric for your outside patio furniture make sure the fabric is "weather treated". Not only will this help on those rainy days but sun damage as well. Treat your patio as an extension from your home. Arrange furniture wih accent tables for beverages. Define your space with an outdoor area rug creating that "relaxed family living" while entertaining.

Email Cat @ with Design q's
Mark: for New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: for Realtor/ Construction q's

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Hey, we finally had a beautiful day yesterday in Indiana. Well deserved! Today's recipe is healthy and a gorgeous side dish for entertaining as well. The kitchen tips are from our favorite magazine "This Old House". This is the one magazine I am constantly swiping from my husband. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  1 butternut squash
couscous (organic whole wheat)
chicken broth (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 450*. Microwave butternut squash on medium heat in microwave 3-4 minutes to soften squash. Cool. Peel and carefully cut into small cubes, removing seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle squash with olive oil, season with kosher salt and crushed black pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes (ovens vary) until tender. Turn over in 15-20 minutes for even browning. Cook couscous per package directions for the amount of servings needed. I like the flavor of cooking the pasta in chicken broth. Fluff couscous with fork and plate with roasted butternut squash on top.
Great dish even by itself.

TOMORROW:  "Sweet Potato Fries"

TIPS:  "The butcher block smells like garlic". To sanitize a wood countertop, wash with a solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach in 1 quart of water. To eliminate odors, pour some coarse sea salt onto the surface and scrub ir into the wood using the face of a cut lemon. I use this same treatment on my wood cutting board.

"Your stainless steel is covered with watermarks". Forget about pricey products specifically designed for stainless, and grab your WD-40 from the utility closet. It will remove and repel fingerprints, watermarks, and stains. Just be sure to wipe away excess with a cloth. Hint...make sure you put the WD-40 back :-) I get snagged all the time!

Keep the questions coming. We are always glad to help.
email Cat@ for Design q's
Mark: for New Construcion/Remodeling q's
George:  for Realtor/Construction q's

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Hey...hope everyone is doing well. Today's recipe is a healthy side that can be a main dish as well. Especially for us "Empty Nester's". It's a great side dish for entertaining as well. Also, a "tip" on fresh herbs from my step-mother Pat. Thanks for all the tips and design questions. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  1 spaghetti squash (serves 2)
1/2 pd. ground country sausage or Italian sausage
1 8oz. can tomato sauce (basil,garlic,oregano)
shredded Mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Wash/dry spaghetti squash. Microwave on medium heat for about 3 minutes to soften skin. Carefully cut squash in half. Remove seeds (see tip below). Drizzle each half with olive oil, kosher salt and crushed black pepper. Using a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (helps with even cooking) lay squash open side down and bake for about 40 minutes (ovens vary). Cook your sausage and drain off any excess fat. Add tomato sauce and season with Italian herb seasoning if desired. Let simmer until squash is done. Remove squash and carefully using fork pull out strands and combine with cooked sausage. Mix well. Stuff each squash and top with Mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese is melted. Delish!

TWIST:  The squash creates an attractive bowl while serving. Serve with garlic bread and a tossed salad and you have a complete meal. Great by itself as well.
I like to toast the seeds from the squash (similar to pumpkin seeds). Just be careful if you have small children. They tend to be a little crunchy.

Tip:  When purchasing fresh Herbs place in a glass jar with a little water with stems down. Then place the veggie bag (packaged bag) over the herb making it last at least 2-3 weeks verses 2-3 days. Great tip. Again, saving money!

TOMORROW:  "Butternut Squash w/ Couscous"

DESIGN TIP:  Had an email from yesterday's tip on drapery. How to measure blinds correctly. I used to sell blinds for Hunter Douglas and I can honestly say the easiest way to explain is to go on their website or any window fashion website. Just remember when choosing blinds take your family's lifestyle into consideration. Their are so many styles to choose from. Personally, I love bamboo style blinds combined with drapery panels, creating a relaxed style. If you have small children you can add a "safety feature" so they don't pull on cords. Hope this helps.

Email Cat for Design q's
Mark: for New Construction/Remodeling q's
George @ for Realtor/Construction q's

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Hey...were having a "heat wave" here...20* this morning and sunny. Today's recipe is a delicious and healthy side to go along with ham or pork. Great look for entertaining as well. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  4-6 Ida Red apples (baking apples)
2 cups cooked/finely chopped chicken
2-3 cups chicken broth
1 cup Risotto rice
shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Cook Risotto rice in one cup chicken broth on low/med heat, stirring constantly and adding more broth as the rice absorbs the liquid. About 15 minutes.The rice is done when it is al dente or firm to the bite but tender. Set aside and let cool while preparing apples. Pre-heat oven to 350* and spray a large muffin tin with cooking spray. Wash apples and slice off the tops only of apples. Using a paring knife run it along the inside of the apple being careful to not cut into the sides. Now make an x in the center and core out the apple using a spoon. Make sure the seeds are removed. In a large bowl combine chopped apples, chopped chicken and Risotto rice. Stuff apples and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until apples are tender to the touch (ovens vary). Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. You can add shredded mozzarella on top after the apples are cooked and bake until cheese melts.

TWIST:  recipe makes a great cold salad as well. Any left over filling just add some red grapes and you've got a healthy lunch to take to work.

TOMORROW:  Spaghetti Squash "Italian Style"

DESIGN TIP:  I received an email asking...why have your drapery lined? I loved this question. Depending on the amount of Sun you have filtering through your window it can actually fade away your fabric and pattern. Sun can damage your carpet, fabric on your furniture and wood floors. Plus, having your drapery lined it is more energy efficient as well. A couple of tips to watch out for...not all fabric can be lined (sheers) it takes the design/style from the fabric. In that case try having your blinds for the light filtering aspect of your window. In this case she purchased drapes all ready made (which we all do) but needs them lined. I recently did this in a model home guest bedroom to save money. After purchasing the panels take them to a seamstress and see if they can add the lining to the panels. If not, return the panels and no money lost. Department stores now offer the longer length of panels as well. Which is convenient and saving you money. Hope this helps.

Email Cat for Design q's
Mark: for New Construction/Remodeling q's
George: for Realtor/Construction q's

Monday, February 14, 2011


Hey...hope everyone had a great weekend and Happy Valentine's Day. Today's recipe contains "no calories" and "no ingredients" to buy. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  Faith, Hope, and Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love never fails.
Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

TOMORROWS RECIPE: "Stuffed Apples"

Keep the design questions coming. We are always glad to help.
Cat @ for design q's
Mark @  New Construction/Remodeling q's
George @ for Realtor/Construction q's

Friday, February 11, 2011


Hey...we made it through the week with this crazy weather! I'm happy to be alive due to my husband "busting his back-end" while feeding my birds for me this week. Yikes! My "flying feathered pigs" depend on me. Anyway, my BBQ pizza is a great Friday night meal. So stoke that fireplace, grab your favorite beverage, movie and relax! Who says Valentine's Day can't be "everyday". Have a blessed weekend.

INGREDIENTS:  refridgerated pizza dough
2 cups cooked/shredded chicken
1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks (drained)
12 cherry tomatoes ( cut in half)
2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
Italian herb grinder

BBQ Sauce: whisk 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup molasses, 1 tsp. Whole grain Dijon mustard, salt/pepper to taste. Any left overs makes a great dipping sauce for pizza.

Pre-heat oven to 425*.Spread pizza dough on a pizza stone, crimping sides. Drizzle olive oil and season with Italian herb grinder. Bake for about 10 min. or until crust is golden brown. Remove, add BBQ sauce (spread evenly over crust) and shredded chicken, drained pineapple chunks and sliced tomatoes. Spread shredded cheese on top and bake for about 20-25 minutes (ovens vary). Let cool before slicing. Enjoy!

NEXT WEEK:  "Healthy Sides"

DESIGN TIP:  I had a great email yesterday asking me why have a Designer when I already have a Custom Home builder. First of all, thanks for the email and this is an excellent question. A lot of times a Custom Home builder works with a Designer to offer that personable assistance through the construction stages. A designer will help you choose your interior/exterior selections of your home, making your building process less hectic. When I am working with a homeowner, I always make the home unique by focusing on their family's lifestyle.
Email me at if I can assist with any design q's
Mark: for New Construction/Remodel q's

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hey, hope everyone is staying warm. -4 here!!! I love making this recipe especially on cold winter days. You can follow the chicken stock recipe on Monday or start from scratch with me today. Either way it's easy and delicious. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  2 chicken breasts
2 chicken thighs
3 celery stalks (chopped)
1 10oz. can cream of chicken soup (less sodium)
2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk

In large pot and chicken and chopped celery and cover with water. Add two tablespoons of salt/pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook on medium heat until chicken is done. Remove chicken and let cool. Add cream of chicken soup to broth. Stir well and simmer while you D-bone chicken and shred. Put shredded chicken back into "Broth" and bring to a boil. At this time make the dumplings (recipe below) and add to pot. Reduce heat and cook uncovered 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer. I like to "sneak" a dumpling just to make sure it has cooked all the way through before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley if you desire.

Dumplings:  mix Bisquick mix and milk. Using a teaspoon drop dough into boiling water. I prefer small size dumplings so they cook completely through.

TOMORROW:  "BBQ Chicken Pizza"

DESIGN TIP:  today is more of a questionnaire...I would like for you to email us any design/building questions. I've been receiving emails with some great cooking tips so I would like to share some questions as well. You can email us with the links below. Have a blessed day.
Cathleen @

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Hey...0* this morning in Indy...don't know about you but I am ready for some sun. Today's recipe has the "sweet and salty" combination that we all love. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  2 cups cooked/shredded chicken
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup apricot preserves
1 20oz. can pineapple chunks
1 pkg. sugar snap peas (produce section)
1 bell pepper chopped
1 minced garlic
Worcestershire sauce

Saute garlic in olive oil until tender. Add chopped bell peppers and saute until tender. Add shredded chicken with 1/2 cup of chicken stock and cook until chicken is heated through. Stirring constantly. Stir in sugar snap peas and season with 3-4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Saute for about 10 minutes adding chicken stock if needed. Now add your apricot preserves and stir well/simmer for about 10 minutes longer to bring the flavors together. Serve over pineapple rice. Garnish with a orange twist and parsley if you desire. Delish!

Pineapple Rice...drain pineapple juice in a glass measuring cup. Add enough water for the directions for the amount of rice you are cooking. Add in your pineapple chunks and cook to directions of rice.
HINT:  due to the pineapple juice you need to be careful of the water not boiling over when preparing rice.

TOMORROW:  "Chicken n Dumplings"

DESIGN TIP:  Lighting...I have to say as a designer this is one of my favorite applications during the design aspect of your home. Here's a couple of ways to get creative while being energy efficient. Have your connections installed with light dimmers. Gives you the control of the amount of light you need/saving money. Closet doors can be installed with on/off switch controls. Great for people like me that tend to be in a rush at times. Recessed cans are an excellent way for "task lighting" especially in reading/office areas. Under cabinet lighting in kitchen and game rooms gives you the extra light that we need when preparing meals, computers, etc. Wall sconces in hallways creates a warm ambiance when entertaining as well. Your entry chandelier is a warm welcome to your home but at the same time can use a lot of energy depending on scale of fixture. I always recommend an accent table in the entry of your home for the use of a table lamp for lighting. Again a warm touch to your entry without having your chandelier on. As always, bring your floor plan with you even if your just window shopping. Sales people will be able to advise you better with your floor plan. Enjoy and be creative while saving money.
Email me at or use the comment box if you have any design q's...Always glad to help.

Check out  the link below if you are in the need of New Construction/Remodeling

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Hey...hope everyone is doing well. Today's recipe is healthy and easy for those hectic evenings. Preparing ahead with the chicken stock recipe saves you time in the kitchen preparing this meal. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  2 cups cooked/shredded chicken
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 clove minced garlic
1 bell pepper sliced
2 zucchini's sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes
1 8oz. pkg sugar snap peas (found in produce section)
2 cups cooked rice ( I use minute-rice when in a rush)
Worcestershire sauce
garlic/herb seasoning grinder (read sunday's tip on these two seasonings)

Saute on low/med heat minced garlic and peppers in olive oil. Add shredded chicken and chicken stock and simmer for about 10 minutes or until chicken is warm. Add zucchini, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Stir well and season with 4-6 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons of garlic/herb seasoning. Cover and let simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes or until done. Check and stir throughout this process. You can add chicken stock to keep it moist if needed. Prepare rice to the package directions while chicken is simmering. Plate with rice then chicken/ vegetables on top.

TWIST:  cooking with worcestershire is healthier and has a lot of flavoring.You may not need to add soy sause which contains more sodium. This recipe warms well for a healthy lunch at work the following day.

TOMORROW:  "Orange Chicken"

DESIGN TIP:  Kitchen backsplash...working with clients or doing a spec/model home designing a kitchen can be a task at times. Your kitchen is usually where everyone gravitates when entertaining so we all want it to be a "focal point". Remember your family's lifestyle when designing your layout. When choosing your backsplash have your counter surface selected first and kitchen cabinets. Then compliment with your kitchen backsplash. Tumbled marble compliments well if you select granite on your counter tops. I like to accent over my kitchen stove with a design to make that an interesting focal point when entering kitchen. If you have an island in your kitchen choose a different surface/hue that will compliment your counter tops. Again, creating another focal point in your kitchen. Always...bring a sample of your counter top and kitchen cabinet along with your kitchen layout when choosing your back splash. Remember...relax and have fun designing your home. Email me at if you have any design q's. Always glad to help.

Check out the link below if you are in the need of New Construction/Remodeling

Monday, February 7, 2011


Hey...hope everyone had a blessed weekend and enjoyed the game. Yes...chicken stock can be easy...a few minutes of prep-time can save you money in the long run. I like to buy chicken on sale and make stock and freeze for my recipes. Thaw out the night before in refrigerator. If you know what you are preparing for the week keep stock in a air tight container in refrigerator. If you don't like the messiness of d-boning a whole chicken and chopping a lot of veggies try this...

INGREDIENTS:  3 leg quarters
1 chicken breasts
4 celery stalks (chopped w/leaves)
1/2 yellow onion (sliced))
1 bag carrots (cut/pealed)
salt and pepper

In a large stock pot and onions, celery, onions, carrots. Add chicken and fill enough water to cover chicken. Salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and cook on low for about 40 minutes. Carefully remove chicken and let cool on plate. D-bone chicken and divide/place in containers for the week. Ladle half of stock from pan and place in freezer friendly containers when stock has cooled. Label and freeze.

TWIST:  your stock is add shredded chicken back into pot with maybe some corn and broccoli and let simmer until tender. You now just made "healthy vegetable soup" for your family.

FREEZER TIP:  I used to buy freezer labels until my step-mother "Pat" told me one day...why don't you just use a piece of tape and sharpie maker. Imagine that...again saving money!

TOMORROW:  "Chicken Stir-fry"

DESIGN TIP:  Interior/Exterior Design...this tip is essential when prepping your home for resale. We all know the term "curb appeal". The truth is people scout your neighborhood for homes even before they contact a realtor. Take a walk in your neighborhood and see how the other homes compare to yours. Now take a "5 second look" at yours and pick out three things that " instantly catch your eye". When I am staging a home for resale I use this same tip on the inside as well. A lot of times people are in a time frame when purchasing a home due to re-location etc. Your first impression is so vital and can be a deal breaker. In today's economy we need all the help we can get!
Check out the link below if you are in the need of New Construction/Remodeling

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"HEALTHY TIP"'s 2 seasonings I'd like to share that I've been using a lot of while sauteing vegetables.

Worcestershire Sauce...low in calories, cholesterol free, fat free, gluten free and 80% less sodium than soy sauce.

Garlic & Herb salt free fat or calories and has garlic spices, oregano, rosemary, basil, red pepper, orange peel, onion, parsley, paprika and celery.

Have a Blessed Sunday, Cat

Friday, February 4, 2011

"FRIDAY NIGHT PIZZA"'s Friday and "Super Bowl Weekend''...what more could we ask for? Today's recipe will make sure you "score" with your guests. If you've already made my homemade spaghetti sauce you're half-way their. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: homemade spaghetti sauce
refrigerated pizza crust
mozzarella cheese (shredded)
provolone cheese (sliced)
Italian seasoning grinder
olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 350*. Roll out pizza crust on pizza stone making sure you've left enough dough for sides. Spread olive oil on crust and Italian seasoning. Bake for about 10 min. or until golden. This creates a stable crust for your sauce. Layer crust with spaghetti sauce, provolone and mozzarella cheese. Bake for an additional 20-25 min (ovens vary). Have a blessed weekend!

TWIST:  your sauce already has your meat, peppers, etc. You can add more if you wish when layering pizza. Just be careful if you add more don't want a soggy pizza crust.

NEXT WEEK:  "All about Chicken"

DESIGN TIP:  Home Theatres...I have to say home theatres and vacation homes have always been my favorite on the design list. I've never had a client put me on a budget for their movie room or a vacation home. Well, (me including) don't have the luxury of having a home today's tip is creating the look within your space. Seems today's trend is the "Man Cave"...I know, don't go their ladies...we have one too. I like to call it the "relaxed family room". Create the room so your whole family can enjoy especially on game day. If you are tight on space look at furniture that has "wall hugger" features. Rooms with windows use black-out lining on drapes creating the dark ambiance of a theatre room. For extra seating look at coffee tables that have ottomans underneath. Great for the kids. Depending on space try to have bar/ counter area for easy access for beverages and snacks. Honestly, I could go on forever creating the look without the cost. If you have any questions you can email me or use the comment section for your q's. I highly reccommend the link below if you have any building or remodeling questions. Always glad to help.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Hey...this is the night you do take-outs or left-overs. This cake is so moist and delicious and a great dessert for entertaining even on "game day". Recipe was shared with me "years ago" from my daughter's grade school teacher...or as she calls it "back in the day". It's been a favorite every year in our home especially on my birthday! Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups flour (all purpose)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped pecans (one cup in mix and one cup for decor)
1 cup coconut (shredded)
5 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1 TB vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 325*. Line bottoms only with parchment paper and grease sides of THREE 9" cake pans. You can grease and flour pans as well. Whisk soda into buttermilk in one bowl. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Cream butter, margarine and sugar until smooth. Add egg yolks (one at a time) beat well after each one. Stir flour and salt in one bowl and add slowly into butter mixture alternating with buttermilk. Add vanilla, coconut and one cup chopped pecans. Now...beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into batter. (Fold gently with spatula into batter) Pour into cake pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes (ovens vary). Test with tooth pick or when cake springs back in center when touched. Cool on wire rack and frost with cream cheese frosting or due to the richness of this cake you can dust with powdered sugar. I recommend the cream cheese frosting :-)

Creme cheese frosting: 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and butter mixing well. Gradually add in the powdered sugar beating until smooth. Add vanilla and blend until smooth. Decorate cake and sprinkle with chopped pecans on top.

TWIST:  recipe makes great cupcakes as well.

TIP:  this cake freezes well. Due to the amount of layers it makes you can freeze back a layer for that rainy day dessert.
Wrap layer in parchment paper and place in a freezer bag. I've frozen cake up to two weeks myself. I'm sure it could freeze longer but we never made it that far in our family :-)


DESIGN TIP: this tip is more of an" Entertaining Tip"...I like to showcase my dessert on the table verses flowers when entertaining. Flowers die and they can cost alot of money... so why not invest your money into the dessert that everyone will enjoy. Purchase a decorative cake plate for the centerpiece. Show off that cake you worked hard'll be happy with the remarks and you've saved some money while entertaining!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Hey...with this crazy weather today's recipe is perfect for that easy dinner and movie night. Check your channels the classic "Ground Hog Day" is playing all day long. My Italian sub is using the homemade spaghetti sauce this week. I like to spend a Saturday afternoon and cook the spaghetti sauce and freeze some for dinners throughout the week. Sure makes life easy for those hectic days. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:  Homemade spaghetti sauce
loaf of garlic bread
red pepper
green pepper
yellow pepper
2 slices of sliced mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Saute sliced red, green, yellow peppers in olive oil with salt and pepper until tender. Warm spaghetti sauce in a non-stick pan. Cut garlic bread in half and layer with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese, spaghetti sauce and sliced peppers. Bake for about 15-20 minutes (ovens vary). Easy and delicious!

TWIST:  after you have baked sandwich cut into wedges and insert with decorative tooth picks and plate. Makes a great "Game Day" sub sandwich.

TOMORROW:  "Italian Creme Cake"

DESIGN TIP: a Designer this an important step in the construction end. Whether you are building a new home or remodeling it is always important to "Tag" your granite. The samples are not always what you will get installed due to the hues and characteristics of certain types of granite. Take the time and walk your granite store and pick out the slab you desire for your home. I tag every slab for my spec/model homes and take the time to select with my homeowners. Make sure the salesperson has your kitchen layout for exact measuring. Bring a sample of your kitchen cabinets and sample of your back splash to coordinate with your granite selection.  Remember...have fun!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hey...hope everyone is staying warm..."Winter Wonderland" here. My zucchini lasagna recipe was inspired by my doctor last year. Little humor sense I was told to "shed a few pounds". This recipe is using my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from yesterday but it's so versatile that you can make a Vegetarian lasagna as well. My son-in-law (Chris) has wanted this recipe for awhile so have fun with it. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: homemade spaghetti sauce
6 medium zucchini's sliced
8 oz. pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
lrg. cottage cheese (small curd)
Italian seasoning

Pre-heat oven to 350*. Spray glass pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread sauce to cover bottom of pan. Season with Italian Seasoning. Layer sliced zucchini's, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese. Repeat layering with sauce sliced zucchini's, etc. 2-3 times depending on size of pan. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for about 45 min. or until tender (ovens vary). Remove... spread mozzarella cheese on top and bake for 15 min. or until cheese completely melts. Serve with tossed salad and garlic bread if you desire.

TWIST: vegetarian lasagna use a sauce that does not contain meat and assemble as above. You can actually use 2 (8oz) cans of tomato sauce (basil, garlic, oregano).

TOMORROW: Italian Sub Sandwich

DESIGN TIP:  flooring...depending on the budget you can accent certain rooms with different style of flooring. When designing "spec" or "model" homes, I like to highlight the entry, formal dining, formal living, and main walk space throughout the home with wood floors. You can break off into tile floors in kitchen, breakfast nook, and carpet in family room and bedrooms. This makes your entry more eye appealing and is beneficial for re-sale value as well. If you are on a budget use same aspect with tile instead of wood floors. You can always lay tile on diagonal to define your space as well. Remember take the size of your home into consideration because you want to create a nice flow throughout your home. Always take your family's lifestyle into consideration. If you have pets check with the type of flooring you are choosing to make sure it is "pet friendly". Get creative, have fun, and remember...It's Your Home.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Hey...hope everyone had a great weekend and had fun using my design tip over the weekend. I have to share this with dear husband calls me a "Picture Hoarder"...the truth hurts but we have a beautiful family and I look at it as "sharing with others" :-)...anyway...while taking inventory of accessories I had noticed that I could re-do the pics in a different room. I actually think he thought I was "down sizing" our pictures. Just gotta love it! Today's recipe is my family's's delicious, easy and freezer friendly as well. Enjoy!

1 pd. ground beef
1 pd. ground sausage
1 large bell pepper (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
3 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, oregano)
6 (8 oz.) cans of tomato sauce (basil, garlic, oregano)
2 (6 oz.) can s of tomato paste (basil, garlic, oregano)
Italian Seasoning

In a large non-stick pot saute minced garlic in olive oil on low/med heat for about 2 minutes. Add chopped bell peppers and onions. Cook until tender. Add ground beaf and sausage and cook on medium heat until done. Add tomatoes, sauce and paste and 4 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning. Cook on low heat (stirring occassinally) tasting as it simmers for 2-3 hrs. The flavors of the seasonings will come together as it simmers. Remember you can always add but you can't take out. If you prefer a thicker sauce you can add another can of tomato paste. Serve with your favorite noodles and garlic bread.
Garnish with fresh parsley if you desire.

TWIST: buying the cans of sause already seasoned you are saving money on buying herbs. I use an Italian herb grinder for that extra flavor.

FREEZER TIP:  spray your plastic freezer container with non-stick spray and you will not have the stains in your plastic container. Before adding sause to container make sure it cools down first.

TOMORROW:  Zucchini Lazagna

DESIGN TIP:  I get alot of questions on how to make your "Entry" more eye apealing as you enter your home. Depending on the size of your home this can be challenging. As a designer, I like to have an entry simple but inviting. Using a small scale table gives you the advantage for extra lighting plus personalizing it with a few items as well. You can add a family picture on wall above accent table. If you do not have a coat closet add a few basket under the table for your shoes, etc. I like to use old iron hooks on the wall for coats. Just remember " less is more" depending on your space.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Hey...hope everyone is having a great week. In our family we love to have "breakfast for dinner" creating an Omelet Bar. It's fun, easy, and a great way to get your kids eating those vegetables. The "tip" was shared with me from my Dad years ago while making omelet's together. Enjoy!

Tip: while cooking the egg take your spatula and lift up one side of "tilt" your pan so the uncooked egg runs off the top. Do this throughout the cooking process to help with even cooking of egg. You can cover your pan with lid which allows the steam to help speed up the cooking process as well.

INGREDIENTS: ( one omelet)
2 eggs
bell pepper chopped
onion chopped
cooked ham, bacon and sausage for your "omelet bar"
Vegetarian omelet add grated zucchini and mushrooms

In a non-stick medium size pan heat canola oil in pan. Saute chopped onions and bell pepper until tender on medium heat. In bowl whisk eggs and enough milk for the fluff (about 4 Tb.) Spread in pan and cook using the "tip" above. When omelet is cooked add some grated cheese and carefully flip only one side over. Cover and let cook until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and add the ingredients you desire from your "omelet bar" on top. Add some grated cheddar cheese and cover with lid and cook on low until melted.

TWIST:  Adding the meats after you cook the omelet allows the egg to cook faster. You don't get the added grease from your meat while cooking.

NEXT WEEK:  "TASTE OF ITALY"...easy Italian dishes made with my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. Italian Creme Cake that makes a gorgeous center piece on your table while entertaining.

DESIGN TIP:  Due to today's economy we are all cutting back. Unfortunately, we don't get to "fluff" our homes as often as we'd like. My challenge to you this weekend is to take a "walk-through" of your home. Look at your accessories in each room (lamps, rugs, candles, pictures, mirrors, etc.) and see if you can use those items in a different room. Creating a "different decor" without going shopping and spending any money. Anyone that knows me, well...I love to rearrange furniture using the same concept.
Have a Blessed weekend.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Hey...this is the day we all look forward too..."Game Day". For some reason it doesn't matter what the score is because at half time it's all about the food. This recipe is a great crowd-pleaser and easy on the budget as well. Enjoy!

GAME DAY CHILI: 1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage
2 cans diced tomatoes (14oz.chili ready)
2 cans chili w/beans (16oz mild)
2 cans pinto beans (16oz.w/onions)
1 can ranch style beans (14oz.)
1 can diced tomatoes & green chilies (mild)
2 cans tomato sauce (basil/garlic/oregano)
1 can tomato paste (basil/garlic/oregano)
Chili powder
1 small chopped onion

In a large pot saute chopped onion in olive oil until tender. Add ground beef and sausage with about one tsp of chili powder and cook on medium heat until done. Depending on the fat content of meat you may want to drain some off but leave some for seasoning. Add canned diced tomatoes,chili w/beans,ranch style beans,diced tomatoes and green chilies all undrained. Now drain the can of pinto beans before adding to pot.Next add tomato sauce and paste stirring well. Season with chili seasoning to your liking. Simmer on low/medium for about 2-3 hours to let the flavors come together...stirring occasionally.

TWIST: After you have cooked meat and added tomatoes,sauces,chilies,seasoning, you can put everything in a crock pot on low for 2-3 hours as well.

SERVING TIP: I like to have a bowl of chopped onions for the one's that like that extra "kick" in their chili. A bowl of shredded cheddar cheese for topping as well. Serve chili with saltines or corn bread for that extra touch.
Now for dessert... remember my cookie recipe that you can make into ice-cream sandwiches? Well, this is when it comes into "Play" for your "Big man" on game day!!!

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
This free recipe card design generated with Smilebox


DESIGN TIP: I'm sorry...their is no designing on "Game Day"...remember.."it's all about Football"!!! We'll catch up tomorrow. Enjoy the day with your family and friends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Hey...I say croissant...they are such a nice twist to your everyday sandwich loaf. This sandwich is so delicious and easy for that Wednesday night slump. If you save some bacon from your weekend it cuts your prep time in half. Serve it with some of the leftover German Fried Potatoes or your favorite chips. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: (one serving)
                           one croissant
                           1 egg
                           2-3 slices cooked bacon
                           shaved ham
                           2 slices of tomatoes
                           1 slice of Colby and Swiss cheese
SPREAD: mix 2 TB. of mayo with 1 TB. of honey Dijon mustard.

Preheat oven to 350. Cook egg to your desire, set side. In a non-stick baking pan place your croissant (open faced) and spread the mayo mix on each side. Top with slice cheese on each croissant and tomato slices, add shaved ham and slices of bacon on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until warm. Remove, top with cooked egg and fold together. Easy and delicious.
TIP: when cooking egg I like to tri-fold it so it fits better on croissant. If cooking for one heat croissant in your toaster oven instead.


DESIGN TIP:  Color...don't be afraid to use it. If you are hesitant about that room you want to paint get some samples. Tell the store you want a sample of the shade of paint.
I like to paint a piece of sheet rock and place it in the room. Depending on the amount of light that you have your paint will change hues. If your room is a small scale try going with a lighter shade unless your looking for that cozy feel. A neutral color that I use is Khaki. Compliments just about any decor and great color if you are prepping your home for sale.