Pot o’ Gold (or rather green)

Need a super fun St. Patrick’s Day gift idea? How about this green swirl Dutch oven – yes, I can find any reason to get kitchenware as a gift!

The February 2015 issue of Redbook magazine gave some ideas for great gifts and I loved this… (pg 108)

Green Swirl Dutch Oven GR31


$48.50 for Green Swirl Dutch Oven from Golden Rabbit


Green Sequin Sneakers…for Sneakin’ Up on Leprechauns

Here’s a super fun gift idea for St. Patrick’s Day!


$29.95 for Kelly-Green Sequin Sneakers

Mouthwatering Superbowl Must-Haves!

As a batch of chicken wing sauce simmers away on my stove, let me tell you a story…

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Meet one of the loves of my life…oh how I long for those wings and that pizza!

But we have a long-distance relationship because they are in NY and I am not.

Sure, it just looks like pizza and chicken wings, so what is my problem you are wondering – they are all over the place. Sadly, not all chicken wings and pizza have the same flavors and I cannot find those exact flavors in my Midwestern world.

So, I set about to see if I could create them myself.

I make a homemade pizza (homemade as in using frozen pizza dough!) that is tasty and has been a pleaser for years so it satisfies me when I want pizza even tho it is not the pizza you see above.

Thus, the chicken wing sauce became my obsession and after trying many recipes online I came up with the recipe below that is pretty darn close to the flavor that I crave. It seems that simmering the sauce to reduce it and then refrigerating it is key. Once you have the wing sauce, the possibilities are endless. Obviously it is perfect when paired with chicken wings but it is also delicious when tossed with popcorn chicken or as a dip for your chicken fingers. How about dunking your fried egg sandwich or adding it to a burger?

It is also fabulous in a Buffalo Chicken Pizza (see below) that was another favorite food from a restaurant in NY that I just had to figure out how to make myself.

I have also included a recipe for Blue Cheese Dip from the Pioneer Woman (adapted ever so slightly), that goes perfectly with this chicken wing sauce.

Just below the pictures are the links to my original posts and then the recipes follow in case you just need to get to the good stuff (although why you would want to miss out on my gabbing session is beyond me…)

Oh – and keep scrolling for the Hot Dog of your dreams!

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(I needed to show you two shots because you just had to see the melty blue cheese dollops)

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

  • Difficulty: easy but has a few steps
  • Print

Buffalo Chicken Wing Sauce

– adapted

8 tablespoons Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce (try to use Frank’s Original – I have tried with the wing sauce version and it is not the same)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar (I used seasoned Rice Vinegar for a little flavor)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or less if you do not like as “garlicky”)
3-4 splashes of worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on a very light bubble for 15-20 minutes. Add more “cayenne heat” if you need to adjust the taste.

Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

You can use the sauce now, but I discovered that refrigerating it overnight made the flavors and ingredients blend into a much better “sauce”. Give it a stir. If you prefer or need to reheat it, you can use the microwave for short bursts at a time or use the stovetop just to warm it. If you are adding hot wings to the sauce then you really do not need to reheat it because the heat from the wings will soften the refrigerated sauce.

Blue Cheese Dip

I like the Pioneer Woman’s version of Blue Cheese Dressing so I used that and just tweaked it a bit.


1/2 cup mayo
3/4 cup sour cream
3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate.


What a Perfect Pair!


Yes this dog just might be your next best friend, the kind that you love to bring to parties and show off .


Sometimes, a simple hot dog is best. But when you want to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to it, you can’t go wrong with meat sauce, and a hearty one at that. It’s easy to throw together and very forgiving if you need to substitute an ingredient or two.

Hot Dog Meat Sauce

Hot Dog Meat Sauce

1 lb ground beef (chicken, turkey, or even tofu I suppose)
1/4 cup pasta sauce
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons hot sauce of your liking (or omit)
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar, any kind – I used seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes of soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste

– Brown and drain the ground beef.
– Combine all of the ingredients and mix in the ground beef.

Serve with fresh diced onions, fried onions and banana peppers…yum!

That’s it – you’re done! This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated if need be (just warm it before serving).

Hand-Dipped Ombre Cherries from Shari’s Berries


$29.99 for 20 Hand-Dipped Ombre Cherries (white chocolate)


This idea all by itself is a fabulously fun way to send a little love for Valentine’s Day…or a baby shower, birthday party or “Just Because”.

But…because I have the “gift of gab” there is more to this post – a back story.

Last year when I started blogging one of my first recipes was for Nutella Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. I created this super easy treat because I like the idea of a chocolate-covered strawberry but trying to eat them is not pretty. The chocolate is hard and falls off when you bite into the strawberry. Then you have to coordinate putting a piece of the fallen chocolate with a bite of strawberry into your mouth.


I was planning to share that recipe, if you can call it that, for Valentine’s Day because there is the color red, there is chocolate and because it is a way to sneak in that tasty treat.

I also became obsessed with making chocolate-covered cherries over the winter holiday season and was going to add that recipe to my Valentine’s Day suggestions for gifts. But I was planning to tweak it a bit from the traditional treat. (Just to clarify, a chocolate-covered cherry works because the cherry is small enough to pop the whole treat into your mouth so that the hard chocolate doesn’t have a chance to fall anywhere other than where it is supposed to, your eagerly awaiting mouth.)


(it can be very gray here in Wisconsin – I will make a better picture someday, I promise!)

Then, today, a mailer came from Shari’s Berries and the above Ombre Cherries were featured. How fun (or Chow Fun as I like to say when I am being weird)!

The ombre cherries are made with white chocolate and it is tinted slightly a few times to make the “ombre” effect.

I had not thought of making ombre-colored cherries but I was considering trying white chocolate. I still think that good ole chocolate-chocolate would be my first preference but variety is the spice of life so I was up for the switch.

Until I get to whip up some of my own cherries and try this all out for myself to share with you, here are the recipes for my “Chocolate-Covered Strawberries” and the recipe for “Chocolate-Covered Cherries” that I found at Taste of Home and liked the best – I tried a few. (Click on the words above for the recipes).

10th Ave. Soapworks

I know that you are thinking that I have lost my marbles (again) because this is a post about soap, not zucchini.


Did you know that a Loofah (those scratchy body puff thingys for the bath and shower) are actually vegetables, which means that they are grown in a garden? Me neither (or me either).

I always thought it was a sea sponge.

My husband caught a TV show that was spotlighting a Wisconsin company called “10th Ave. Soapworks”  that makes soap and we learned that interesting tidbit about the loofahs. Here is the link to the owner’s site and her fabulous footage of a loofah’s development. Yes, I probably should get out more but I really DO think this is fascinating! That’s the loofah up there in that picture, not a zucchini.  (http://tenthavenuesoapworks.blogspot.com/2014/03/loofah-from-seed-to-soap.html)

Ok, so my first thought was that I want to grow some in my non-existent garden and my second thought was that they would make a great craft to give as gifts.

My third thought was that I will not be getting to any crafts (or a garden) so why not look for the company and share what they have already made. It would undoubtedly make a much better gift than the ones I made.

So, I looked up the company and found some great gift ideas to share with you. Being from Wisconsin myself, it is always fun to see what your “neighbors” are up to!

The company is called “10th Avenue Soapworks” and here are some of their fabulous looking soaps to give as gifts! They even have some for your winter-time gifting needs.

All of these fabulous soaps and many more, along with other items, can be found here:


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$5.00 for Oatmeal Honey Loofah


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$13.00 for Wisconsin Sampler (Green & Gold, Dairyland, Apple Harvest, and Honey Ale–these four popular soaps that represent Wisconsin are packaged together in one convenient collection.)


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$5.00 for North Woods


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$5.00 for Snowfall


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$5.00 for Vanilla Cold Process


Seriously….go visit this site and do not leave without learning about the loofah – you can amaze someone today with your new knowledge! (All photos, even of the loofah, are courtesy of 10th Ave. Soapworks)

Snowflake Cookie from Yankee Candle

Snowflake Cookie™


$13.99 for “Snowflake Cookie” large tumbler


Last year I gave this candle to my mother but I coveted it.


I almost did not give it to her because I wanted to keep it, but I did the right thing and gave it as intended.

But I never stopped thinking about it so this year I picked one up for myself when Yankee Candle had one of their holiday deals going on.

As I start to de-decorate from the holidays and replace my décor with winter themes, I brought out this candle today and I love it.

It smells like a cookie but it is light and cozy, not heavily perfumed and overpowering.

I knew that I needed to share this with you because it could make a wonderful “winter” gift if you are in need of finding just the right thing now.

And to make it an even better gift, it is on sale!

My guess is that it will not be around long so do not hesitate – you may even want to pick up a few and tuck them away as fabulous “token” gifts for next year’s holiday season!

Braided Trivets in a Basket from The Braided Rug Place

Here’s a fun gift idea…a basket of braided trivets!

They have a nice selection for all season, décor and holidays – check out their website below to see more and pricing!

Here are a few ideas…

TNB-1120 Winter Trivets in a Basket by Susan Burd

Winter Trivets


TNB-328 All Season Trivets in a Basket by Susan Burd

All Season


TNB-1126 Spring Trivets in a Basket by Susan Burd



TNB-025A Pinecone Trivets in a Basket




$46.00 each, for a set of braided rug trivets

Soup and Soup Mugs Make a Perfect Pair!

Is there a better season to give the gift of soup? (to yourself, perhaps…)

You can find all sorts of fun soup mugs, so have fun looking around for the perfect gift. I love the big oversized mugs that at one point were called the “Friend’s” mug when they were made famous from that show and their coffee shop moments. (Yes, I loved that show.)

Every once in while I like to switch it up a bit and use a large shallow bowl. It makes me feel sophisticated.

And whether you give one or a whole set, it will warm someone’s heart….(get it?)!

Any way you serve it, a soup gift for this time of year is fun. Add a soup starter kit, your own homemade soup or grab some from a local sandwich shop or grocery store.

And don’t forget the dipping bread!

(All below are from Kohl’s)


$61.99 for Certified International Top Hat Snowman 4-pc. Soup Bowl Set

or, if you want a deeper bowl…


$53.99 for Certified International Top Hat Snowman 4-pc. Ice Cream Bowl Set

(Since it is technically called an Ice Cream Bowl, no sense fighting it – clean out your soup bowl and make a big ‘ole ice cream sundae!)


or how about soup-to-go?


$9.99 for CorningWare French White 20-oz. Mug with Vented Cover – available in 4 colors


Host a Sprinkle Party!


To switch things up a bit, host a “Sprinkle Party” this year instead of a Cookie Exchange. It’s fun to have a variety of sprinkles but unless you do a lot of baking that involves sprinkles, no one needs 100 bottles hanging around. If everyone brings enough of one type of sprinkle, you as the host can supply some small bottles, mini-mason jars or even baggies to divvy up the sprinkles so everyone can take a variety home with them for the season’s baking moments. (But, if you are crazy you can just exchange whole bottles and then figure out where you’re going to keep them all!)

Provide gift bags so that each guest can put all of their goodies in one bag and you can add a new bottle of sprinkles as a take home gift too. Why not throw in a cookie cutter or two to make it a fabulous take-home gift!

Your event could be as simple as having some appetizers out while you chit chat and share sprinkles or you could even add cookies to the mix and decorate them…to eat them all up or take them home!

Homemade “One Cup” Mini Hot Chocolate Mix



Move over Keurig, these clever little mini hot chocolate gift jars make the perfect gift! You could use them as little token gifts or deliver a whole selection…just be sure to keep one for yourself! (I think I say that quite often…)



Tea & Honey…A Perfect Pair! From Republic of Tea


$11.50 for 50 tea bags, Pumpkin Spice Tea



$11.50 for 36 tea bags, Hot Apple Cider Tea



$13.00 for HiCaf (that means lotsa caffeine) Caramel Black Tea


Pick a tea and add a honey…you have a perfect pair!


$11.99 for Honey for Tea, 3 flavors: Vanilla Bean, Chai Spice or Lemon Crème



$17.95 for Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey

The Kissing Hand


This may just look like an ordinary hand to you (unless you are a palm reader, then you may see an extraordinary future ahead of me…or you may see that I am destined to have crumbs on my carpet forever…or you my see that I will never find a way to make my hereditary sideburns blend in – in that case, don’t tell me…) but this hand is special. It has kisses on it.

We have entered the elementary school years and are in the process of adjusting to kindergarten. It is our 3rd week and little by little it is getting easier. A few years ago when we entered the preschool years I purchased a book called “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn. It is about a little raccoon who needs to go school at night but he is worried. His mother kisses the palm of his hand (or paw, technically) so that he can use it to get a kiss from his momma when he misses her and feels sad while he is at school. The little raccoon feels better and is able to relax and play all day. That night (they are nocturnal ya know), as his momma takes him to school she starts to get sad because she will miss her little raccoon. So the little raccoon takes her hand (paw) and kisses it so that she can get a kiss from him while he is away at school. So adorable!

Last week I remembered that book as we were waiting for the school bell to ring announcing that it was time to enter school and my muffin would have a hard time separating from me. I kissed my little muffins hands, both of them so he did not have to worry that he could not remember which hand it was, and he kissed both of mine. It helped…for both of us.

Today,  it is Monday, and the start to the week so my little muffin asked if we could do the kissing hand and we did. We added a hug too.

My middle muffin has now started preschool, but it is her second year so she is not worried. I took both of my school muffins with me today to trek around to their schools. While waiting in the car for the school bell, I mentioned to my middle muffin that I could kiss her hand just like the story. She paused and then told me that she is not worried about school. I said that I knew she wasn’t, it was just to let her know that we could do that. All right, I guess she is ok with school. Good.

Then a few moments later she started feeling sad that she would miss her brother while he was at school. He asked her for her hand and then kissed her palm. She beamed. He told her to give him her other hand and he kissed that one too. She sat in the back of the car beaming because her brother had kissed her hands and she soaked it all in.

I had two thoughts…the first, of course, was that it was a hugely tender moving moment for this momma that her son had done this for his sister. It was such a loving act. It’s nice to see those periodically, especially going “top-down”.

The second, was that my daughter had no need for a kiss from momma on her hand because she was fine with going to school but that kiss from her brother made her day. Momma was “chopped liver”.

It isn’t the first time and surely won’t be the last!

This book is a great book if someone in your life needs a little extra lovin’ for the moment. I am sure you can purchase it many places. The Scholastic Book Club has it if your school participates. Here is it at Barnes and Noble – along with Chester the raccoon too!



The book is $11.36 and Chester the Raccoon is $14.00




Flatware Decor Canisters


$19.95 from Country Door

Gift Ideas from Lakeside Collections


$14.95 for Big Dog Refillable Lighter



$14.95 for Stanley Tripod Flashlight


I was quite surprised when I started hearing my 80’s music being referred to as the “oldies” – that was what my parent’s music was called, so how could MY music be called the same thing?

That’s the funny thing about getting older – you get older and your stuff does too.


$13.95 per set, Hits of the Decades – 60’s, 70’s or 80’s



$8.95 per set of Infant Rattle Socks (Flowers or Sports)

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