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