Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Easy Pesto Tomato Basil Chicken

Recently, I made my own lighter version of Chicken Parmesan using a jar of Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce.

I seasoned two chicken breasts with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and grilled them just until they  they were slightly pink.  Since I planned to finish cooking the chicken in the oven with the sauce I didn't want them to be dry.

I sprayed a baking dish with oil, sliced each breast into three portions and spread Costco's pesto on top (we keep a jar of this in the fridge).

Then I covered the chicken with the TJ's sauce (I've been able to get three different meals from one jar of sauce). 

I sprinkled the top with grated Parmesan cheese. Covered with foil and baked for about 15 minutes at 350, uncovered the top and baked for about 5 minutes more.

We served it with a spinach salad and vegetables.  Or you could serve it over spaghetti if you want it to be a more rustic dish.  There are several variations you can add...cooked spinach as a layer between sauces, or cook the chicken on a bed of spaghetti squash.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Birchbox Product Review

I recently subscribed to Birchbox.  For a monthly $10 fee, they ship you five generous samples of products to try at home.  In my September box I received samples of shampoo, conditioner, face serum (above), eyeliner and a BB cream.  When you sign up you can customize your box to reflect your tastes and preferences.

After you've had a chance to try the products, you can go on their website and give reviews for extra credit points which can be applied toward future purchases. They also offer free shipping on your order.

My favorite sample was the Shiseido Power Infusing Concentrate.  You apply it to a freshly cleaned face before moisturizing.  It smells very citrusy -- just like a bowl of freshly sliced lemons.  It absorbs quickly and makes my face feel so clean.  The sample is pretty generous and a little goes a long way so I think I can get it to last for about a month.  This may have to be something I add to my skin care regimen.

If you decide to sign up for your own monthly delivery (which you can cancel at any time), be sure to use this link to Birchbox so I can earn credits.  You can refer friends, too, once you establish an account.  It's a fun way to try new products!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shelfie Series

Today I am kicking off a series called -- Shelfies -- showing you how I styled my shelves recently.  The first room is my ladies lounge.  It's the front room when you walk into my house.  I think it was probably used as the dining room by the previous owner, but I've used it as a sitting area.  It's the perfect room for ladies to talk while the men are in the family room.  I also like to use it as a quiet reading room, while Mr. Bee is watching his war movies.

I cleared everything off and dusted each shelf so I could start with a blank canvas.   There is no right or wrong way to style your shelves.  It's personal preference.  I do a little at a time, step back and look at it, and do a continuous edit throughout the process.  I set aside an entire Saturday to do this.  I worked a little at a time, walked away when I felt overwhelmed and came back later to start again.  Be creative with your book placement. The books don't have to be all stacked up like a book store.

A simple trick is to style by color scheme.  You will see on the bottom shelf in the photo below I put mostly blue and green books together, with a dish of small, green apples and a large green glass vase.  By taking off the covers to your books, you can find some beautiful color schemes to work with.  Put the covers away in a safe place if you want to put them back on your books later.  To balance the bottom self, I repeated the green a few shelves above it, then again with the light green photo album propped up on the second shelf.

In this photo, I wanted to highlight the colors of the conch shells -- corals, pinks, oranges (the missing book..Mr. Bee is reading cover-to-cover Mastering Art of French Cooking).  Use artwork on your shelves too, propped up as a backdrop.  I made the shadow box of butterflies which are actually push pins.

Overall, I was trying to achieve a look that when you see the shelf at first glance, your eyes travels in a nature curve downward -- not stopping at any one point on the shelf.  Each shelf is balanced starting with the orange vase on shelf one, spiraling down to the silver bowl of shells on shelf two, and skimming through the clear vase on shelf three, to the silver grouping on shelf four, down to the green vase on the bottom shelf.  I like "white" space so your eye has time to rest.

You want your shelves to tell a story.  Many of these things are what remind me of Earnie.  Seashells, butterflies, the cross, my little white Bible I received in nursing school, her photo with Daddy.  The best part, I didn't go out and buy anything.  I just used what I had around the house.

What do your shelves say about you?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Banana Caramel Poke Cake

Church ladies know how to cook, especially when they are charged with the task of preparing for a "covered dish" luncheon.  Our group of ladies made a dessert I saw on Pinterest -- Banana Caramel Poke Cake. 

Basically, you take a boxed cake mix, add a box of pudding mix, bake it.  Then when it comes out of the oven you poke the top of the cake to make holes, then pour sweet condensed milk, let it set overnight in the refrigerator, and top with a cool whip pudding mixture.  It reminds me alot of how a tres leche cake would taste.

We made seven pans of cake. Here are two beautiful church ladies -- Mrs. Burdette and Mrs. Neill -- prepping the cakes in the church kitchen.

Mrs. Young put little brownie mice in the corners of each cake.

After we cut and plated about 100 pieces of cake, we saved the best piece -- the center cut -- for ourselves.  Four forks later, here's the empty pan.

Here's the recipe on my Pinterest board.  Have a fantastic Friday!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones

I haven't been posting lately because my iPhone camera was sucky.  I was waiting to get a new phone.  Several people suggested the Samsung Galaxy because the camera quality exceeds the iPhone.  So, iPhone and I broke up and I got a Samsung.  This happened the day before I turned 50.  I am willing to try new things, but getting a new phone (that has a similar, yet different layout and language than iPhone) and turning 50 was a bit too much.  I have since calmed down, learned to use my phone and have taken about 100 amazing pics of things I am doing in the house.

So, first things first, we shift gears to pumpkin.  I love the pumpkin scones at Starbucks.  When I saw a Pin on a copycat recipe I gave them a whirl.  The ingredients are just your regular scone type stuff...flour, spices, egg, butter, then you add canned pumpkin.  Knead the dough, cut and bake.

I was just going to make the pumpkin glaze, but I figured since I would be photographing them I should make the recipe as close to the original as possible.  I think they turned out beautiful.

They also taste great.  The Starbucks store version are denser, but I think that's probably because they put preservatives in theirs to make them have a longer shelf life.  These are lighter and not as sweet.  Perfect with a cup of coffee.

I have pinned these to my "Things I've made on Pinterest" board.  They are definitely pin-worthy.  Have a super Saturday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Real Simple Magazines No-Obligation Book Club

Remember that post I did back at the beginning of the summer with all the books I was going to read?  Fail.  I read one.  It was a good one. Why is it so hard for me to read books (insert whiney voice)?  I did a swell job reading Dick and Jane books in elementary school.  What happened?

I subscribe to Real Simple magazine and I was intrigued by their "No Obligation Book Club."  You had me at "no."  Here's their description:  You’d love to join a book club—if it operated on your ideal schedule. And now you can:  Be a part of Real Simple’s online No-Obligation Book Club. See what we’re reading now, what we’ve  already read, what noted authors have revealed to us in exclusive Q&A’s, and more.

Big Little Lies is their September pick...

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . .

Set in an Australian suburb, Big Little Lies focuses on three women, all of whom have children at the same preschool. One is a great beauty married to a fabulously rich businessman; they have a “perfect” set of twins. One is the can-do mom who can put together a mean pre-school art project but can’t prevent her teenage daughter from preferring her divorced dad. The third is a withdrawn, single mother who doesn’t quite fit in. Right from the start--thanks to a modern “Greek chorus” that narrates the action--we know that someone is going to end up dead.

You had me a the cover art.  I'm not deep.  It's how I roll.  Oh, and if you want to subscribe to Real Simple magazine, The Container Store has an offer right now to receive a $10 gift card with a paid subscription. Go to for details.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ePantry Giveaway!

Stu, the co-founder and CEO of ePantry and my new friend, sent me several $12 gift cards you can use toward their new ePantry program.  Here's their testamonial...

"ePantry grew out of a simple realization: we all tend to opt for what’s convenient, especially when we’re busy, and especially with “boring” products. We’ve all made the last-second run to corner store to pick up that $4 roll of toilet paper. But the easiest option usually isn’t best for your family, your wallet, or the planet.  We use technology and a simple user experience to replace stressful last second errands with a service that’s fun, economical, that you can feel smart using. We care about your family (future generations included), and all of the products we sell reflect those values — making it easy to keep your home and our world clean."

No minimums, always free shipping and 10% off your entire order.  They carry everything from cleaning, body, paper, personal care, oral hygiene and pet products.  In my last shipment, they included a packet of flower seeds for my garden!  It's nice touches like this that make me want to help support their business.

I am giving away three gift cards to the first three people that reply to this post.  Here's what you have to do...

1)  Click on ePantry and learn more about how you can customize your delivery of products.
2)  Mention a new product you might like to try in the comment below.
3)  Mention a product you have tried before in the comment below.
4)  Reply by Saturday, August 30

If you decide to start your own account, be sure to use my ePantry link so I earn a $10 credit. 

Can't wait to see your comments!