Monday, December 7, 2015

Pallet Wood Christmas Trees

I have always loved doing craft projects but now that Pinterest is available I have been inspired to create more often.   My  most favorite thing to do is to create with others.  Last winter I invited a few ladies to my house to do some "Pinterest Projects."  We all brought some ideas and the supplies we needed to make them.  We made bath salts, sugar scrubs, painted glass jars, and several other Pinterest ideas.  The idea came to me because I saw that several of my friends were repinning many of the things that I had pinned and I had done the same to them.  This idea continued throughout the year and into the summer and my Pinterest Pals and I had several Project Days.  (You can see some of our ideas in other blog posts.)

I pinned these amazing Pallet Christmas Trees and my friend Jennifer spotted them and repinned them.  She took it one step further and scheduled a Project/Craft day with several ladies.  Her amazing husband prepped all of the pallet wood for us and had it cut to size.  

I had several people ask me about the trees after they saw them on Facebook so I decided I would include some photos and some tips for others that might want to give this project a try.

Photo by
Here is a quick picture of my trees before they were finished.

You will need:
Pallet wood cut to size
Nail gun with nails
Mod Podge and foam brushes
Napkins and/or tissue paper
Wooden star
Chalk paint or milk paint and brushes
Wood glue
Piece of wood to attach the pallet wood to (becomes the "trunk of the tree")
Sand Paper (optional)

Pallet Wood Trees (use this link for wood measurements and additional tips)

After the pallet wood has been cut to size you will attach it to the long piece of wood that becomes the trunk then you will be ready for some decorating.  We used wood glue and a nail gun to attach the pallet pieces to the trunk.

To decorate we used napkins and tissue paper.  Tear the tissue paper or napkin a little smaller than the "branch" you are covering.  If you are using two ply napkins then separate the decorative layer from the plain layer.  This will make your napkin more transparent.  Use Mod podge and a foam brush to adhere the napkin or tissue to the branch.  Apply a light coat of Mod Podge to the branch and then carefully press the napkin or tissue over it.  Then paint over the top of it again.  The napkin or tissue will be wet and this is good because it will look more transparent when it dries.  The Mod Podge will dry clear.  Choose a few branches to cover with a variety of patterns.  

We used chalk paint for the colored branches.  Everyone brought different brands and we found that that if we watered them down a little that they were more transparent.  I even wiped some of the white off after I painted it on because it was a little bit bold for me.  We also sprinkled a little glitter on some of them.

My trees are not quite finished so I will post a new picture when they are. I still need to add my wood star and my buttons for ornaments.  

If you have made these trees and have some additional tips or photos to share, please add them to the comments section.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tomato Juice

I had one last bowl full of tomatoes from the garden sitting on the counter.  I decided to make some homemade tomato juice in the crockpot.  I didn't follow a recipe so I don't really have any measurements but this is what I did.

I estimate I had about 4 pounds of tomatoes.  These were the orange tomatoes that I picked in the garden a few weeks ago before the rain hit. I just let them ripen on the counter.  I cut them in halves or quarters and threw them in the crockpot.  I added about 2 teaspoons of dried basil, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 1/4 cup chopped carrots, 3 chopped bell peppers, about a teaspoon of salt, several chopped hot peppers (padrons, cherry bombs, Thai peppers, and jalapenos.)  I added about 2 cups of water and cooked it on low for about 8 hours.  After 8 hours, I ran it through the sieve to separate out the seeds and the skin.  Using the sieve also "squished" the other vegetables so that I would just get the juice and the pulp.
Tomato Juice cooking in the crockpot.

I don't usually like tomato juice but this batch was pretty amazing. It had just enough "bite" from the combination of hot peppers.  I ended up with just over 2 quarts of juice.  I will leave some of it in the refrigerator for my husband to drink and put some in the freezer to enjoy later as juice or in soup.
Delicious Tomato Juice

Usually, I use the recipe in my Ball Blue Book for Tomato Garden Juice Blend and I can it.  Since my husband is the one that drinks it, I can usually get his help. As I was writing this post, I searched the Ball website: and I could not find this recipe.  It is in my 2009 version of the Ball Blue Book. I did a web search and I found it on www,

Comment below if you give this recipe a try!  It would make some amazing soup broth if you don't like to drink tomato juice.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pumpkin Baking Day

Nothing says fall like a Pumpkin Baking Day!  My step-daughter, Kendahl, and I spent a whole afternoon trying out new pumpkin recipes that we found on Pinterest.  We started our baking day with Pumpkin Spice drinks from Starbuck's.

Pumpkin Spice to start the day!
We chose 4 different recipes.

Melt in your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies from
photo by
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting from
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes from
Cinnamon and Sugar Pumpkin Muffins from

We had a fun afternoon trying out new recipes.  Being in the kitchen with others is one of the things that I enjoy the most.  Of course, we had to sample each of our treats.  My favorite recipe was the Melt in your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies.  They were frosted and we both agreed that they would be great with mini chocolate chips added.  I loved these cookies so much that I made them again using Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour.  The gluten free cookies were just as amazing.  They stayed round and didn't really flatten out. I ended up cooking them a little longer.

The Pumpkin Bars were also amazing.  The recipe said to use a 9x9 pan. I think if I made these again that I would use a larger pan so the bars are thinner.  I would also like to try them using gluten free flour.  I liked the cream cheese frosting but any buttercream frosting would also be delicious.

We had Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes for dinner. They were tasty.  We used real maple syrup instead of the Cinnamon Syrup on the recipe.  I was tempted to add some chopped toasted walnuts but I didn't!  These tasted very "gourmet", like they might be served at a bed and breakfast or something!

The Cinnamon and Sugar Pumpkin Muffins were probably my least favorite, however, they were still good.  We made two batches so we could try one batch using gluten free flour.  We could have cooked the gluten free batch a little longer.  I would also cut back on the spices and add only half the molasses.  The molasses and the spices almost overpower the pumpkin and I would rather taste the pumpkin.

I would definitely try all of these again and the cookies and the bars will be my "go-to" recipes this fall!
photo by

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Taco Soup

I served up this delicious taco soup at an event yesterday.  It is always a hit.  I told the others at the event that I would post it to my blog so, here it is!  For this batch I used fresh garden tomatoes instead of my home-canned tomatoes. I quartered about 6 pounds of tomatoes.  I also used 2 bell peppers and a couple of hot peppers straight from the garden.  This recipe is a family favorite!
photo by

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hello Fall

I have been trying to fight off fall for the past few weeks.  I had such an amazing summer that I resisted that fall was quickly approaching.  The morning air had turned crisp and the evenings were cool but I still wanted summer to stick around a little longer.

Today I welcomed fall by decorating around my home.  My favorite fall decoration is the pumpkins and corn stalks on my front porch.  Some years my husband will take it upon himself to decorate for me and I am always impressed with what he comes up with.  Other years he throws the bale of straw on the porch and fills the wheelbarrow with my pumpkins and gourds from the garden and then I get to work my magic!  This year it was a team effort.  He picked the garden and delivered the goods to the porch and I put it all together. I decided to skip the straw bale because I wanted to use my "garage sale find" wheelbarrow.
My wheelbarrow was a $3 garage sale find!
photo by

photo by
Fall mums make me smile.  I purchased several this year to use in my decor!  I planted several in my pumpkin planter.  I made the pumpkin planter at a workshop for women at The Home Depot.  
Mums in pumpkin planter.
photo by the

photo by
I used my amazing potting bench today for the first time. My husband built it for me for Christmas last year out of barn wood.  I love all of the special touches that he added to it.
My potting bench.
photo by

photo by

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I keep thinking that I am done with the zucchini for this season but then I pick another one.  I have several loaves of bread in my freezer and several dozen Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins.  We eat these all winter long.  I love to pull a couple out of the freezer and pop them into the microwave for a few seconds!  The chocolate melts a little and they are delicious.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup oatmeal

In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.  Stir dry mixture into large bowl and mix until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips, and oatmeal.  Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups two-thirds full.  Bake at 350' for 20-25 minutes.  Makes about 18 muffins.  

I usually make this recipe Gluten Free by using Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend.  I have also added some flax seed and chia seed. I also like to use my mini muffin pan.  I get about 20-24 mini muffins.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Freezer Meal: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole

I was super excited to finally try this recipe from
I had made it as a Freezer Meal in June and it looked and smelled delicious as I was putting all of the ingredients together.  I changed a few things on the recipe and I made a few notes.

Notes:  I measured my 2 lbs. of cubed chicken and it equaled about 2 cups.  My potatoes stuck to my baking dish so I made a note to spray it better next time.  I used some homemade hot sauce but I would have used Tabasco if I did not have my own.  This recipe would be great fresh but I froze it.  I did let it thaw for a day in the refrigerator before I cooked it.  I added the chicken uncooked.  You could always brown it first.  I think it was fine uncooked but I think my "cubes" were a little large and I worried that they would not cook. They were fine but I will cut my "cubes" a little smaller next time just so I don't have to worry.

Use the link above to get a better image of the recipe and for a printable version.

I used small rectangular aluminum pans that I got at the Dollar Tree.  It is a perfect amount for a dinner and a lunch for my husband and I.  I filled 3 of the small pans so I had 3 dinners in the freezer and ready to go!

Summer in a Bowl

Summer is coming to an end and fall is on its way.  The nights are getting cool and the morning air is crispy.  Last week I enjoyed some of the last "tastes" of summer. I called it "Summer in a Bowl."  It was Umpqua Vanilla Bean ice cream topped with a fresh Oregon peach.  I could eat this 3 times a day (don't tell anybody but I actually have) however, on this day I only enjoyed it twice!
Summer in Bowl Round 1
photo by thesavvymiddlesister

Summer in Bowl Round 2
photo by thesavvymiddlesister

There is something about this summer deliciousness that makes me smile and makes my tummy happy.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Basil Pesto

Mmmm, Pesto!  I was blessed by my friend with a bag full of fresh basil. I made basil pesto.  I followed the recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I didn't have pine nuts so I used filberts (hazelnuts) and walnuts.

I made two batches and each batch made 3 half cup portions. I put them in the freezer to throw over pasta or to make pesto pizza later!

Update:  Today I tossed some zucchini noodles with some of the pesto and some shredded chicken.  It was delicious.  To cook the zucchini noodles I threw a little grapeseed oil in a skillet and lightly sauteed the zucchini, added some pesto and the shredded chicken until everything was warm and then served it for lunch. I like my zucchini tender so I barely cooked it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Project Day: Word Art

I hosted a Word Art project day with some friends!  We all created word art using chalk paint and cabinet doors.  

For my project, I used H-O-M-E letters that I purchased at Joann's Fabric and Crafts. I added some ribbon for a pop of color.  I also used Amy Howard chalk paint and wax that I purchased at Ace Hardware.  My frame is a cabinet door frame that I found at a salvage yard.  It is hanging in my "Home Sweet Home" guestroom.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Zucchini Season

Zucchini Bread Recipe, easily adapted to be Gluten Free
It's zucchini season in my garden.  I have been doing really good this year at picking them small (I can't take all the credit, my husband is usually the one that picks them.)  They usually get big and out of hand!  I had 3 in the refrigerator so I decided it was time to make Zucchini Bread. The 3 zucchini totaled about 2 pounds and I ended up with about 7 cups of shredded zucchini.  That meant that I could make 7 batches of bread.  I ended up making 6 because I wanted to try a Carrot/Zucchini Bread Recipe that I found on Pinterest. (I will let you know how that turns out soon.)  I made 3 batches of Gluten Free Zucchini bread by using Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend in place of the flour.  I like to add a few oats to this recipe (especially if I am using shredded zucchini that has been frozen.)  My family likes to eat it toasted with a little butter on it.

I like to make the bread and freeze it and then we can enjoy it all winter. I have shredded it and then froze it but I tend not to use it. 

I should add that I am not sure where this recipe originated.  My sister shared it with me years ago and I not sure who shared it with her.  I have adjusted it over the years by adding ground flax, oats, chia seeds and substituting gluten free flour to make it gluten free.

My other favorite zucchini recipe is Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins!  (recipe coming soon)

Digital Artwork on recipe card is from Panstoria.  (Link to Panstoria can be found on the bottom of my blog homepage.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Flea Markets, Garage Sales, & the Farmer's Market

Saturday adventures with my husband.
This weekend my husband I ventured out to find a flea market in a nearby town. Along he way we found a local Farmer's Market and decided to check things out.  We sampled local farm fresh peaches, coffee, flavored rum and fruit flavored vodka.  Our big purchase was some sweet and salty kettle corn.

We finally found the Flea Market sign so we parked and went in.  The sign said $2 admission and it looked small so we were a bit hesitant.  One lady said that it was free today so we went in.  We didn't find anything cool so we were a little disappointed since we had been driving around for about an hour to try and find it!  We did, however, see a sign for a vintage market within walking distance.  This store did not disappoint.  We found some cool treasures but we only made one purchase, a vintage Ball jelly jar with a lid. I had never seen one before and I loved the metal lid.

On our way home we passed a Neighborhood Garage Sale sign and decided to stop.  We found several small garage sales.  We parked a few different times and walked around to several sales.  I got over 6,000 steps on my FitBit so I figured that if we didn't find any treasures that at least we would get some steps in. I found a few children's books & sheet music that I wanted to use for some craft projects.  We stopped at one house that only had a few items but we spotted an old Fire Alarm box.  We ended up chatting with the guy for over 30 minutes but in the end he gave it to us for $50 and threw in a beat up fire helmet.  I felt like we got a really good deal so when we got in the car I checked on ebay for alarm boxes.  I found several styles and none exactly the same but I they were priced between $200-$500!  We won't be selling it but I was convinced we really did get a good deal!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Painting the Vanity

Vanity photo by The Savvy Middle Sister
 This summer I am determined to complete some of the projects on my Project Bucket List.  I got motivated when I decided to turn my step-daughter's bedroom into a guest room.  I chose some colors that matched some of her wedding decor so I could utilize some of the decorations that we made for the wedding using Ball Mason Jars, burlap, and ribbon.

My first project was painting a vanity that my mom had given me several years ago. It wasn't a family heirloom or anything, in fact, it was a poorly painted piece of furniture but I liked it.  I attended an Amy Howard painting glass at my local Ace Hardware. I fell in love with the chalk paint and I left that night with a bag full of supplies.  I chose a white paint called Bauhaus Buff.  I put two coats of paint on the vanity, the stool, and the mirror.  I then sanded some of it to give it an aged look. I used the Amy Howard Clear Wax and Dark Antiquing Wax on it. 

I purchased some glass knobs from Craft Warehouse and my husband installed them for me.  I wanted some vintage glass knobs but I wasn't willing to pay the price. I may upgrade at some point!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What do you do with 80 pounds of chicken? Part 2

It has been two weeks since I conquered 80 pounds of chicken.  I have also had a chance to try a few of the recipes.  Many of the recipes I found on Pinterest.  I have linked each recipe to it's respective website (if possible).  

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Taquitos
I started out by putting 4 of the giant chicken breasts into my crockpot. I cooked them on high for 4 hours.  I added a little extra water (next time I would use chicken broth).  The chicken ended up sitting on warm for another hour.  I shredded it and made about 10 taquitos.  They were delicious but I was running out of steam so I used the rest of the shredded chicken in a couple of enchilada casseroles and then froze a cup or two of the shredded chicken to use later.  This shredded chicken had great flavor. I plan to make it again and use it in enchiladas or burritos.

Cori's Enchiladas & Enchilada Casserole
I made a 13x9 inch pan of Chicken Enchiladas using the recipe I created myself.  This meal is a favorite around my house.  It is the recipe that is most requested by the kids.  We cooked this pan up and ate it right away.

I also made 3 pans of Chicken Enchilada Casserole using the same ingredients and layering them into the pan rather than roll the tortillas into rolls. I used shredded chicken that I cooked in the crockpot. I cooked 4 of the giant chicken breasts in the crockpot with a couple of jars of home-canned salsa for 8 hours and then I shredded it with a fork. 

Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce (1 meal)
I made this meal the first night because I was dying to try it.  It tasted like a gourmet meal.  We ended up having plenty for leftovers.  I used 3 chicken breasts. I froze a couple of pieces of the leftover chicken because I wanted to find out if this would be a good freezer meal.  I will let you know soon!

Frozen Chicken Breasts (13 meals)
I did a quick freeze using a cookie sheet and 24 of the chicken breasts. I froze them for about 4 hours so that I could use my Food Saver and not have the juices get sucked up.  I made 8 packages with 3 breasts each. I also split some of the breasts into smaller pieces and created 5 other bags.  When I pull these out of the freezer I can do anything with them.

Cubed Chicken (3 meals)
The Zaycon Fresh Chicken has to be trimmed up a bit so as I was trimming I ended up with some smaller pieces of chicken that could be used for tacos, enchiladas, pesto, etc.  I decided to keep this separate from the rest and I bagged it up in one or two cup portions.  I even browned a cup of it so I can pull it out of the freezer and it is ready to eat or add to a recipe.

Canned Chicken Breasts (24 pints=24 meals)
I used my Presto Pressure Cooker and the recipe from my Ball Blue Book for Canning and Preserving book to can several chicken breasts.  I used about 21 breasts to get 24 pints.  I opened two jars the next day so we could try this and I was feeding four people.  I made a quick little Chicken Salad for sandwiches. I added a little chopped onion, bell pepper, carrot, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  It was delicious.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What do you do with 80 pounds of chicken? Part 1

What do you do with 80 lbs of fresh chicken breasts?

Well, you prep 30+ freezer meals, eat a little fresh, freeze some breasts for later and can it!  I ordered 80 lbs of chicken from Zaycon Fresh (my referral name is cmcori).  I planned several chicken recipes that I wanted to try and then did a little grocery shopping.  On pick up day, my friend and I, started in on making freezer meals.  We picked up the chicken at 2pm and spent several hours prepping the chicken and getting meals ready.  The next morning we canned several batches.  The chicken comes fresh so it needs a little "cleaning up."  There is a small amount of fat and little skin still on the chicken. 

Here is what I made:

-Green Chili & Chicken Lasagna (5 meals)

-Cilantro Lime Chicken (3 meals)

-Jalapeno Popper Chicken Taquitos (3 meals)

-Chicken Fajitas (3 meals)

-Chicken Enchiladas (1 meal) & Chicken Enchilada Casserole (5 meals)

-Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce (1 meal)
  -Frozen Chicken Breasts (13 meals)

-Cubed Chicken (3 meals)

-Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

-Canned Chicken Breasts (24 pints=24 meals)

I will post my shopping list and links to the recipes as I try each one of them. Stay tuned for some delicious updates.

Most of the time I am only feeding two people and sometimes three so I could usually take one recipe and make three trays.  I used the 3-pack trays that measured about 5x7 from the Dollar Tree.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Taking a Leap

Today I took the leap in the blogging world.  I have been pondering the idea for quite some time.  I am excited to reach out to others as I share tips and tricks for everyday life.  I love to share my kitchen with others so I plan to share my favorite recipes and tips in the kitchen.  My favorite thing to do in the kitchen is to can and preserve the bounties of our garden.  I also have a passion for memory keeping.  I take photos daily and I document my family memories in meaningful photo albums. My family is my number 1. I strive to live with no regrets when it comes to family time.  I try to live each day to the fullest, forgive often, and laugh out load as often as I can.  I am blessed with an amazing family that loves to spend time together, whether it be at a sporting event to watch the kids, sitting around the firepit in the backyard, family game night or even our annual family campout in the backyard.  We connect via phone, text, facebook, and snapchat daily! 

Joshua 1:9