Friday, August 31, 2012

Olive Garden Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Oh Yummy!  So excited to find this recipe on

Just add your favorite veggies, croutons and/or chips for dipping.

Olive Garden Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip

Olive Garden Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip
CreynoldsAdded by Creynolds
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook time: 10 Minutes
Serves: 4


This is a great spinach dip from Olive Garden. I'm sure you've had it, but if not you absolutely need to give it a try. This recipe is straight out of a restaurant cookbook so you'll find it exactly the same as in the restaurant!


On the side

Directions :       Boil the spinach and artichoke hearts in a cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes.

  1. Drain in a colander when done.
  2. Heat the cream cheese in a small bowl in the microwave set on high for 1 minute.
  3. Or, use a saucepan to heat the cheese over medium heat just until hot.
  4. Add the spinach and artichoke hearts to the cream cheese and stir well.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the cream cheese and combine.
  6. Serve hot with crackers, chips, or toasted pitas for dipping.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to School Lunches

Are you tired of making the same boring lunches for your kids or buying in adequate food provided by the school??  I found these fantastic ideas for fun kids lunches as well as these fabulous containers to keep them in from Easy Lunch Boxes.  Check out their website for even more lunch and picnic ideas!

Grilled chicken strips are Lily's favorite.
Turkey and cheese roll ups on a multigrain tortilla, pretzel rods, chedder bunnies, strawberries and raisins. Thanks to Amanda of lunchbox limbo for this one!
Sandwich (peppered turkey, havarti cheese, lettuce and mustard on whole grain bread), baby carrots and green grapes and SunChips. Photo credit: The wonderful Melissa  - Another Lunch
Egg Salad on lettuce with homemade Wheat Crackers. Homemade Granola and cucumber rounds. A thermos of milk, some grapefruit, and a cloth napkin added to cooler. Thanks to Michelle of All Home Cooking for sharing this!
Lots of food fits in one cooler bag! (Up to three EasyLunchbox containers). Perfect for outings to the park, beach, or zoo! Thanks to Cassandra of The Aubut Family Blog for these great photos!
Spinach salad with feta cheese, almonds, grape tomatoes.  Strawberries, turkey and cheese rolled in a whole wheat flour tortilla. Thanks to Amanda of lunchbox limbo for this one!
"I love that I can pack two days worth of lunches in a snap! I posted this to my home page and even had a friend order the boxes!"  We love this too!!! Thanks to Jackie for sharing this on our Facebook wall!
Thank you LilyAnette
Homemade guacamole with blue corn chips and a sandwich. Add a shiny pippin apple and you're all set!
An egg salad wrap on whole grain tortilla on top of a bed of lettuce with a few onion, cucumber & tomato bits around it. I put salad dressing in a little container and my thought was he could make a very small salad once he took out the wrap. To the right, he has a homemade muffin  and a mixture of fresh fruits. Thanks to Shannon of What's For Lunch at Our House:
The presentation is everything.  Look how fancy this one is!
Thanks to Emily C for sharing these delicious meals on our Facebook wall. She wrote, "Thank you, I love my easy lunch boxes. I use them for my kids lunches and for outdoor concerts with my family!"
Served with a thermos of Tomato Soup.
Make your own 'fancy' yogurt sundae. Way cheaper than individual containers, I get to pick the ingredients, and my kids love this treat. Your yogurt won't LEAK if you follow the neat tip here:
Pizza two days in a row and everyone's happy!
Thanks to Gina of MoneyWiseMoms for this delicious lunch! Visit her blog to find out where to purchase the colorful silicone baking cups that make this lunch so bright and appealing  She writes, "... leftover chicken tenders from dinner the night before, with honey mustard and BBQ dips, along with his fruits, veggies and dessert. I was skeptical that the dips would stay contained, especially when I saw him swinging his backpack around at his friends at the bus stop, but they did. He was thrilled with lunch and loves having alternatives to sandwiches. I love using leftovers!" Thanks Gina!
Thanks to June G. for this! She wrote,"Our family consists of my husband and I, our 7 yr old daughter and a set of 4 yr old triplets. The photo was a family outing to the zoo (the zoo is an hour away, so we have to include snacks for all the kids!)  I am loving these and I'm so happy I bought them!!"
Meat and cheese, fruit, pasta in pesto, egg whites and some crunchy veggie sticks thanks to Jennifer from Gather Around the Table
Strawberries and graham crackers, pasta, meatballs and cheese...simple and easy to throw together on those mornings when you look at the clock and realize you should already be walking out the door and no one has finished breakfast or put on any shoes! Thanks to Jennifer from Gather Around the Table
Last night's chicken does double duty at lunchtime. "Souffle cups" for dip can be purchased on line or bought at a restaurant supply store.
Salad of lettuce, cucumbers, carrot shreds, corn, wheat germ, dried cranberries, & cheese; homemade flat bread. Sides: Homemade vanilla pudding with jimmies; grapefruit. Thermos of milk and a cloth napkin added to cooler.Thanks to Michelle of All Home Cooking for sharing this!
Up to 3 of our containers will fit in one of our cooler bags. Picnics are so easy with EasyLunchboxes!  Photo courtesy of
Turkey and cheese wrap in whole wheat flat bread w/a little mayo and mustard. Colorful fruit and a salad completes this meal.
Subway sandwich for school lunch! Julia says I'm the best Mommy :)
Veggies, fruit and a sandwich is always a winning combo for lunch. Thanks to Sheena of Sophistishe for this beauty!
My girls love to dip their veggies. All fruit, no sugar jam in the sandwiches is the way to go.
Sushi is everyone's favorite!
Pizza and salad - a classic. "Souffle cups" for dressing can be purchased on line or bought at a restaurant supply store.
Classic turkey and cheese. Summer's beautiful fresh fruit for dessert.
Panera for dinner last night, so leftovers for lunch today! Half of a Mediterranean Veggie sandwich - tomato, onion, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, feta and hummus. On the side are strawberries and yogurt with granola on top. Thanks to Bento For Kidlet for sharing this one.
Hubby's lunch for work: Cucumbers and carrots, a mixed spring salad with raspberry vinegarette, mandrin oranges, raisins, walnuts and a hard boiled egg. For dessert he has a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing. Photo and lunch courtesy of Jen of Get Lucky
There's peanut butter and banana inside the whole wheat hot dog bun.  Fun!
Pasta and veggies for lunch.  What's not to like?
Fishy crackers go with everything :)
Jenny likes to open the edamame shells.  Playtime with food makes lunch even better!
A colorful heart ham sandwich, a babybell with a sun cut into the wax, homemade berry fruit roll up, a chewy granola bar, black and green grapes, and some blue corn Food Should Taste Good chips. You can find out how to make this colorful bread on Lunches Fit For a Kid:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Showcase Toddler Art

As the mom of a toddler and two older children, I love all their creations!  I wish I could save them all, but unfortunately  well I'd have a fire hazard on my hands!  I found this fantastic idea from Whitney from Squash Blossom Babies on how to showcase your toddlers artwork as a Masterpiece:

 This project is fun and it makes such a cute keepsake!
The supplies are basic:
  • Paper scribbled on by toddler
  • Canvas
  • Paint
  • Modpodge
  • Foam brushes
  • Scissors or paper cutting knife
  • Pattern – I searched online for flower patterns and flower petals
Paint the canvas and allow it to dry completely.  Apply a second or third coat of paint if needed.
Simply cut out your pattern using your knife or scissors.  Cut out the pattern and then use the pattern to cut the scribbled paper.
Use Modpodge to glue the pattern to the canvas, then modpodge the entire canvas.  Allow to dry and repeat until the canvas is covered to your liking.  I did about 4 or 5 coats.
I hope you will find this tutorial to be helpful and mostly inspiring!  Think of it as recycling.  Don’t throw away your child’s first artwork….turn it into a masterpiece!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Boot Bling

Have you ever heard of Boot Bling??  Well, I think this is going to be the newest trend by creator Patricia Young from PSY Designs.  Check out her whole Cowgirl Way Collection here.

Make sure you check out all of Patricia's great designs in her Etsy shop at PSY Designs.  Beautiful designs all handmade!

Not only can you wear these any season - unlike anklets but they are a fantastic way to add that extra sparkle to your outfit!

Patricia offers a great selection of different "Bling" for your boots - check out these:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Upcycle Shutters-A Few Ideas

Here are just four ideas for upcycling those old shutters.  I've used them myself for an earring display for craft fairs. 

Shutter Wall Display

Blog ‘From The Tortoise & The Hare’ features an awesome  step-by-step tutorial on how to make the pretty shutter display below,  DIY Shutter Wall Display Tutorial – HERE!
Via here

Shutter Sidetable

DIY Shutter SideTable from GoodHouseKeeping
DIY Shutter Side Table TUTORIAL – HERE!
Via here

Shutter Screen or Room Divider

Some high gloss paint in grey and black achieves a modern feel.
Via Here

Shutter Post Card Rack

The slotted design of shutter means they’re awesome for holding mail and post cards.
Via here

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lite Raw Summer Salad

Looks beautiful and delicious.  Very nutritious from blog

Organic & Whole Living: Lite Raw Summer Salad

Summer is about eating fresh, local and lite. This is one of my favorite go to salads for lunch, dinner or even a snack!  It's refreshing, and the ingredients can usually be found in abundance during the summer.
Israeli Cucumbers, English Cucumbers or any cucumbers you have.
Small Red Onion
Cherry Tomatoes
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
To prepare the salad, cut the cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes in half, dice the red onion and cucumber into a fine dice. If you choose to use a regular cucumber or another cucumber with a tougher peel, you may wish to peel it. Israeli cucumbers have a forgiving peel and I like to leave it on. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice and season to taste with salt & pepper.  Mix to coat. If you aren't going to eat it right away, cover it, but leave it on your counter to marinate. It will only get better with time.
There are so many variations that I make of this salad, you really can do just about anything. Sometimes I omit the onion and add a little balsamic vinegar, diced yellow crook neck squash and zucchini, along with some fresh basil and oregano.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sharpie Tie Dye

This is a super fun project for kids!  It's really easy for them to do and fun also.  What a great way to dress up a shirt, dress, pants, skirt - even pants.

What You Need:
  • Pre-washed white or light colored t-shirt
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Liquid dropper or medicine dropper
  • Small plastic cup(s)
  • Rubber bands
  • Variety of colored Sharpies
Do It!:
  1.  Choose a spot to start and put your cup in right side up and secure a rubber band around the cup rim holding the shirt tightly in place.
  2. Pick your colors and create a small design in the center of the stretched circle. Keep your designs to the size of a quarter or half dollar because the alcohol will make the colors spread out a lot.
  3. Using your dropper drip approximately 10 drops of rubbing alcohol in the center of your design and watch the colors spread.
  4. Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 in different places on your piece of clothing to get your ideal design.
  5. Heat set the colors by tossing the shirt in the dryer for a while before wearing.
Photos and DIY via The Art Girl Jackie

DIY Sharpie Tie Die
DIY Sharpie Tie Die
DIY Sharpie Tie Die

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Light Bulb Moment...

Here are a couple of fun things to do with old light bulbs.  Very pretty party ideas or even just some nice and different home decor.  Best part is - it's recycled!  So your helping the environment too!

DIY: Lace Light Bulbs

Spray paint a doily onto a light bulb or use a silver pen and draw your own designs. When the light shines through, it will cast a beautiful pattern on your walls.

And from Pinterest (I just LOVE Pinterest!):

#DIY Hanging vases made from used light bulbs.
Hanging vases made from used light bulbs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Scrabble Tile Tutorial

Scrabble tile charms and pendants are becoming extremely popular.  I think they are so adorable and have wanted to try my hand at making them too.  I found this great tutorial from Beadaholic.  Has anyone else tried this?  If so, please comment and share your experience.  Check it out:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make Chalkboard Paint in Any Color

Here is a recipe for chalkboard paint from Martha Stewart.   You can use this for so many projects and it's simple-which I really like.  In a later article I will share some great ideas for the chalkboard paint so stay tuned.


I recently saw these Chalkboard Rocks from Pottery Barn that you can write on with chalk and thought…”I can make those!” So I did! I had been wanting to paint something with chalk board paint (which has been all the rage on the craft blogs the past several months) to try out a homemade chalk paint recipe I found while browsing Martha Stewart’s site a while back.
If you haven’t noticed, Chalkboard Paint is pretty expensive. This recipe is super easy and only requires two ingredients…paint (of any color or type) and some Non-Sanded Tile Grout. I found mine at Home Depot for $4 and some change (can’t remember exactly). But you can find the grout at any home improvement store.
Then you will need to simply mix 1 cup of paint and 2 Tablespoons of grout. That’s it! Just make sure to stir it really well so that there are no lumps. You can use any paint. Paint for plastics or acrylic paint or house paint. You can also use any color of paint. How fun is that? There are so many possibilities and price is now no longer a factor! You could paint a whole room in chalk board paint! Your kids would think you were da bomb!
I really love the look of these black chalk board rocks. The room I have them in currently has a lot of black accents and so they fit in perfectly with the decor. Now I can keep them year round and just change what I write on them with chalk!
What would you like to use your chalk board paint for?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

This sounds wonderful!  Different from the dropped biscuits that I grew up loving.

4.95 Mitt(s) 41 Rating(s)41 votes, average: 4.95 out of 541 votes, average: 4.95 out of 541 votes, average: 4.95 out of 541 votes, average: 4.95 out of 541 votes, average: 4.95 out of 5
Prep Time
Cook Time
Difficulty Easy
Servings 8

Recipe Description

A bowl of chicken and dumplings. A glass of sweet tea. It’s a meal any Kentuckian would be proud to fix and danged happy to sit down to. And it’s not hard to make. Come on, I’ll show you how.

Preparation Instructions

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.
Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.
Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″. It’s okay for them not to be exact. Just eye ball it. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some shaped funny.
Use the floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
To cook them, bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they not doughy tasting. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and you’re done!
For more pictures and instructions, see the related link above!


  • 2 cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup Milk, A Bit Less Than A Full Cup
  • 2 quarts Chicken Broth
  • 3 cups Cooked Chicken