Turkey Chili Casserole: A Superbowl Fav!

This recipe was the easiest thing I have ever made and the perfect combination of salty and sweet!  Lance and I have been frequenting Trader Joe’s lately, and we sampled some Turkey Chili Casserole and had to make it.

  1. Four cans Trader Joe’s Turkey Chili (or about 8 cups of chili of any variety).
  2. 12 oz Mexican Blend shredded cheese
  3. Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix (or any cornbread mix)

For the cornbread mix I needed:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pour 8 cups of chili into the bottom of a 9×11 pan. In a large mixing bowl, put all the ingredients together for the cornbread mix, then pour it on top of the chili.  Sprinkle the entire package of cheese on top of the cornbread mixture.  Put in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until it appears golden-brown.


“Healthy-ish” Cheeseburger Casserole

I’m not much of a cook and I have a house full of picky eaters, so anytime I find a recipe with cheese and pasta I jump on it. I originally came across a recipe for Cheeseburger Casserole on Pinterest and kind of put my own healthier twist on it. This recipe is a great budget friendly meal, and can be made ahead of time if needed, plus it is quite the crowd-pleaser!


What you need:
• 1 lb ground turkey (sometimes I use ground beef)
• 6-8 ounces veggie rotini (any pasta will do, but in keeping with the healthy-ish version, I use the veggie kind)
• 2 cups shredded mild chedder cheese
• 1 ½ cans of reduced sodium petite diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted in my photos but I usually use petite diced)
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon ketchup
• 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
• 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
• salt and pepper to taste


Here’s how you do it:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet brown your turkey (or beef), while your turkey is cooking boil your pasta in a large pot
2) Once your turkey is fully cooked add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, mustard, garlic powder and salt and pepper, reduce heat to simmer, allow to simmer until pasta is ready
3) Once pasta is ready, drain and rinse and mix meat mixture and pasta
4) Add 1 cup cheese and mix well
5) Put casserole in large casserole dish and add remaining cheese to top
6) Bake casserole for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is completely melted
7) Remove from oven and ENJOY!

What quick and delicious family meals are your favorite?

DIY Pallet Patio Furniture

I once saw a wine rack made of old refurb pallets selling for upwards of 60 bones!  Ever since – I have had a desire to try a Pallet upcycle project.  Pinterest of course encouraged me that I too can certainly do it!

The problem is – once you want a pallet- where do you find it?  And of course-  I decided the ‘easiest’ project would be one that required TWO pallets.  Luckily I ended up with 3 pallets (I really love working in Property Management, you seem to stumble over many things you might need).  I am glad I did because they were all a variety of conditions and heights.  For this project they needed to be the exact same height, so having a few pallets to work with allowed me options for finding the right fit.

The project took about one entire day.

I (we) used 3 cement stepping blocks at $3.30 each.  A quarter can of left over white ceiling paint.  A drill with a sanding bit, a reciprocating saw, and drill with about 10 screws .  The only thing we did not already have was the cement blocks, so in the end it cost no more than $10.00!

  • I will say it was a lot harder than I expected and the project I thought would be my own quickly became Michael’s project as well.
  • We had to do a decent amount of demo to the old pallets.  This part is quit hard considering they are full of old rusty nails and the damaged wood.

    Why did I think the pallets were just going to stand up next to each other and be perfectly the same size?

  • Michael cut the pallets to the same height of 40″ and removed all the old nails.
  • I spent 2 hours or so sanding down the old pallet wood to avoid splinters as we worked.  We did need to use a palm sander to get in between the pallet as well.
  • I did buy spray paint and spray primer – but it was a waste.  Eventually we went to the basement to unload something we had stowed away from past projects.  We spent a couple more hours painting away.  This is also tough because you can see inside the pallets.  So we had to paint every single surface.
  • After the paint dried we stood up our pallets, Michael drilled a few holes and secured the two pallets together and we set the stepping stones on top.

Here she is … I LOVE IT!



How to make your Yard Sale Worth it!

A few months back I posted about my plans to prepare for a yard sale called “Just Put a Sticker on It!”  In this post I ran through a timeline and tasks to get myself and our house ready, and while I didn’t follow the timeline to a T, I did do everything I said I was going to on the list.  Completing these tasks brought a sense of calm to me, even though I was physically exhausted.  I’ve said many times before that it feels great to re-organize the things in my life which feel hectic, especially in my living space.

Here’s what we did to make over $300 at our yard sale. 

1. Invite your friends and family to join you and bring their stuff over.  Just make sure they have their own petty cash.  We did our yard sale at my friend, Meagan’s, house, and had the neighbor join in as well as another friend. A shared yard sale means shared responsibilities for set up and tear down as well as a wider variety of stuff to sell.  Our friend had lots of antique games to sell which brought forth a lot of unique buyers.

2. Market your yard sale online!  Three weeks before the event, we started posting about our yard sale on yardsale.net, craigslist, and facebook.  As people started to arrive I asked them where they heard about it, and most of the early birds found out about it on a website and ours was the first of many yard sales they were going to that day.   We included details like the types of items we were selling as well as the place, start time, end time, and address of the yard sale.


3. Market your yard sale the old-fashioned way!  Most people who came to our yard sale saw signs for it on the street as they were driving by.   I hung signs in the little downtown area near my friend’s house as well as on her street and in her yard.  The signs were big and neon yellow with her address, the date, and time of the yard sale.  This was a $7 investment that was well-worth it.

4. Prices at your yard sale.  I went back and forth about putting a sticker on the items and ended up doing it in the end.  You can put stickers on, but know that it’s really just for your own sanity.  People will still ask you how much you want for it, and you can look at the sticker and decide to say what’s on it, or come down a dollar or two depending on what you think is best.  I would say I sold 70% of my items at a discounted rate because I knew what I didn’t sell was going to goodwill.  The things I sold at full-price were mostly because the person didn’t ask.  In the end, I don’t know if it was worth all that stickering time!

5. Let people know you’re willing to negotiate!  The last few hours of our yard sale we started slashing prices.  I had a brand new juicer that my husband and I had bought 2 years ago for $180 and had only used one time. There wasn’t one person who was interested in buying it for $75, so I took the sticker off of it.  The person who was interested asked what I wanted for it and I told her $30 because it was the end of the day.  She ended up taking it off my hands  after years of it sitting in my cupboard and I made a little money back in the end.  Also, I made over $40 on my clothing because I was willing to discount it to $.50.

6. Bundle your sales.  If someone is willing to buy an expensive item or a number of things, throw in something else they were interested in at a dirt cheap rate, or for free.  It makes them feel good!

7. Talk to your customers.  Every person who came to our yard sale was greeted and we asked if they were looking for anything in particular.  This helped us find them what they needed or at least started a conversation with them so they wanted to buy from us.  We didn’t bother them if they were perusing, but we didn’t make them feel awkward by being silent and starring either.

8. Have plenty of petty cash!  I got a role of quarters ($10), $30 in 10’s, $30 in 5’s, and $30 in 1’s.  $100 did the trick!

9. Provide Bags and offer to walk things to people’s cars.  We used recycled grocery bages and people were so grateful and they could keep shopping for longer.  Some heavier items we offered to take to people’s cars for them.


10. Take your leftovers straight to goodwill or put them on the curb.  We put the leftovber large items like furniture on the curb with free signs, and took a car load of stuff to goodwill.  It felt great to drop the last of the items off for a good cause.

Party Like a Rock Star- DIY Party Decorations

Whoooo-hooo!  The holidays are behind us and I can breath!  Now it is time to clean up, pack up the decorations, and start on some winter projects (like organizing the basement and pulling things out of storage- wahhhh!)

Any how- Two weeks ago I mentioned getting very excited for my 2nd (big deal) NYE party!  It certainly was a grand old time.  There are a few things I will dump next year, and a few things I will absolutely keep.  Here are a few ideas and pointers for your next party (whether it be NYE, a birthday, engagement, or milestone celebration).

Here is a bit of an album I collected from the evening.  You can see everything from favors, table settings, and easy wall hangings.  Read each image to learn an idea or tip.


I stuffed “Midnight Kisses” Favor bags with chap stick and gold wrapped Hershey kisses. The chap stick labels say “Pucker Up! First Kiss 2015”. Thank you oriental trading for this cheap trick!


Tip: although I set these in a central location – a few cocktails can alter your priorities! It is important as a host to draw attention to the gift or you may end up with many (or ALL) left behind 😦 Don’t worry, I have been forcing them upon all of my friends just days after


This project I had ambiguously made reference to in my past fitness posts with my ‘need’ for tasting wine. I had flat black spray paint at home for other past and future projects. The gold twigs are left from my holiday mantel decor (and come from the dollar store). The numbers were simply cut outs i made from printing the numbers backwards on the reverse side! Cute and simple! Psst – I taped the numbers on, now they are removed and the wine bottles will work as generic decor for my home or future parties! Gold tulle is a cheap way to dress up a plastic table cloth. Eventually the table is covered with plates of food, and the sparkly gold will fill in between.



Good news; those tissue paper tassels are easy and cheap and reusable. Bad news; they are kind of annoying to make. I would do it again, if I plan WAY in advance, and I would probably hire my friends to help in one evening and pay them in wine. Another perk is that I almost always decorate with GOLD. Next time I will only need to make accent color poms to add to the mix.


Free Internet Print Out – plus adhesive spray- plus glitter-plus two dollar frame. I will do this for EVERY party. So cute, SO easy.


And another …


Here is the brown paper table I mentioned … Pre Charcuterie and Cheese … That “2015” banner was only $6 and so I suppose it was an okay purchase. Although you can not purchase the individual numbers and so now it goes straight to the garbage. Next year I will go for a generic “Happy New Year” sign.


This was part of the cocktail table. I am happy with it because the “Cheers” sign was roll over from the previous year, as were the glitter stir sticks. Things that can travel from year to year are SO worth the effort. I also have half of the personalized champagne glasses remaining. They are stored away for the next fancy party. The center is a bowl of GOLD candy which we bought for .15 cents a piece at party city. (PS even the large circle confetti gets stored away for the coming years parties).


There is the brown paper banner I mentioned in a past post. Michael and I got it going so that people would get the gist. I used painters tape to make the black strips just so that i would look more like a decoration rather than an after thought. Spinning “New Year” banner posted on the left and right – you guessed it, from last year!


Although I forgot the favors, I was sure to hand out all the party hats, blowers, and poppers 15 minutes to midnight! Thankfully Mike was smart enough to set a timer so that we would not forget! Note; I would refrain from purchasing the poppers where you pull the string. They are full of colored paper. A strand had gotten wet and landed on our tan couch and left a color stain. Next year I will get something entirely different.


I set up all of the midnight “toys” before hand so that they look like additional decor. Again, only the glasses state the actual year. (I am keeping one pair of these glasses each year as a keep sake. One day I will find a project out of them). Things that did not get used, will be used down the road. Hats, masks, and beads are absolutely re-usable!

Below are a few snaps from a friend and guest at the party:


You can kind of see the results of the ‘help yourself’ table. Although the clean up was incredibly easy, next year I will still use brown paper to save the cloth, but also use plates for appearance sake. The table got very greasy.


This activity turned out great! People had a blast writing very funny resolutions. And some were true, sweet, and pleasant to read! I even rolled it up to save for next year to bring back the memories!

image image image imageA couple of things:

– ALL TABLE CLOTHS CAN BE KEPT!  (are you sensing my theme here? re-use it!)  Just wipe them down with Clorox wipes and fold them up.  I store a stack in a gallon zip lock bag.  I have 6 stowed away to pull out whenever needed.

– The glitter for the cocktail -to me- was SO fun.   You can see the pink drink container in a few pictures.  Just a tiny dash will do and it shimmers all night long.  It is a tiny detail that will travel from party to party for me.  It is called “Disco Dust” and you can get it on Amazon.

-Gluing ALL of the champagne glasses together was foolish.  I should have prepared only half of them.  I now have to store them fully erect, and they take up an extreme amount of space.

-Mostly my pinterest menu was a fail.   I ended up throwing most of it out because I couldn’t stand watching them melt away on the table.  I also created each dish on a post-flu palette.  I don’t think anything tasted that great.  Not to mention my friends are seasoned guests and all came with food in hand.  Next year, I will do a smaller cheese plate and await whatever yummy dishes come along!  This will save time and money!

– Reminder: push your favors on your friends!  Or else EVERYONE will be having too much fun to notice.

– Chalk board art is very very time consuming.  I am just saying.  (More to come on this in future posts)…

Finally, Do not buy “Werthers” butterscotch candies (even if they do come in a gold wrapper) because your friends will make fun of you.

The party was a blast, and although there were a few lessons learned – there will be many more parties to apply my new knowledge.  Please comment below if you need links to tutorials or more details on my projects!  People will look forward to going to your parties when they know you go out of your way to make it special just for them!  Get creative!  Share ideas! and RE-USE RE-USE RE-USE!



$25 DIY Mantel Decor !

It is just that time of year :  Always movin’, shakin’, and makin’!  I am so excited that this year I live in a home with a mantel!  I have always dreamt of hanging stockings and decorating the mantel as the seasons and holidays pass through the year.  Now that it is a reality –  so is the idea of PAYING for shiny pieces, candles, and fillers.  I am a girl on a constant budget (and especially around the holidays)- so I have come  to know the world of DIY and the Dollar Tree very well.   Here is my new holiday mantel for $25.00 !

Please don’t mind the disheveled stockings and  tree topper resting to the right, awaiting his home on the throne!

Everything I bought was purchased from the Dollar Tree and Michael’s Crafts.  The letters, the adhesive, and the glitter flakes were purchased on sale at Michael’s for about $18 bucks (don’t forget Michael’s ALWAYS has coupons).  The rest (three sets of color balls, a faux pine garland, a short strand of white lights, and glass cylinders of varying heights)  were all from the Dollar Tree! (If you do not have stockings or stocking hooks – the Dollar Tree DOES!).  In the end I only needed one can of adhesive, with much to spare!


I could not manage to get a picture with out my little ‘helper’.


  • Spray the adhesive close to the letter’s to make a wet base.  Dump on the glitter flakes!  Allow to dry for 5 minutes.  Knock loose the gold flake that does not stay.  Spray a “further away”/lighter coat and reapply the glitter.  This should make for maximum coverage.
  • Next time I will first spray the wooden letters with gold spray paint so that when glitter falls it will be less noticeable.
  • I really enjoy the three dimensional texture on the letters, but to reserve them for next year I will add a few layers of Mod-Podge before packing them away!

Here are a few mod-podge finishes. I like a heavy shine for this project!

Happy Crafting !

Personal Challenge: Lesson’s to learn

Writing a blog for the first time is both fun and challenging. You have to learn a lot – editing, tagging, tone, grammar, appropriate topics, and time lines. I made a post two weeks ago with a promise to share my wellness program status weekly.

I apologize and amend. I will touch base on my progress biweekly.

I made a challenge simple enough; create a weekly plan and abide by it. Oh, a thing easier said than done.

I did it to a ‘T’ : Until Friday. On Friday I had an unexpected procedure that left my body feeling uncomfortable (very minor, very positive!).   I skipped the work out and the dog walk. I also had a volunteer event ( Kristina’s so awesome super fun Bone Bash planning and preparing) which ran long and bumped my work-out priorities off of my Friday schedule.

I was so upset, I felt like I failed.  All week I did things I would never do because this post was looming over me. Michael and I had busy night that required we quickly pick up dinner – I chose a wrap over a sandwich on delicious Italian bread. I drank water at home and actually turned down beers when mike had one with dinner.

We were picky about meals and I skipped cheese, sauces, creams and sugars.

Every time I wanted to do something bad I remembered that quote:

“Here is to ordering a salad when you really want a burger and fries!”

Friday came and life as always threw an unexpected wrench in my plans I felt like I didn’t even want to face myself or this blog again.

Today, I looked back and thought to myself… there was success in the first week of my challenge.  The dog walked four days that week (more than usual).  I did do yoga and a weight routine with mike- so much so that the following week he increased my weights and now I am actually attempting to squat with the bar (rather than just holding varying weights in my hands). No snacks, no candy, no unnecessary cocktails.   At my appointment the doctor reported on my exceptional heath! YAY!

Instead of calling it a failed week… I decided it was more of a ‘Reach for the moon you may fall on a star’ kind of situation.

This week I want to set the same plan, but incorporate a plan of action should things go awry. I want to do weights twice, yoga once, and walk the dog 4 times. With out the day attached, when things come up I can react appropriately by rescheduling.   I also want to squat the bar ( I think its 45 lbs) with out falling over- JUST ONCE!  Oh- and as my full water bottle sits here staring me in the face, I want to DRINK MORE WATER.60-80 oz a day.

One thing I also did was prepare! It’s the week of Halloween and I am so excited to hand out candy and head to parties- but you know what that means… CANDY EVERYWHERE!!! Tempting, tempting, tempting! Especially considering my insane love for dark chocolate.

So I read hard on pinterest and mocked a few healthier snacks .

Here is one: Quick and Easy!

Four Almonds, topped with two dried cherries, drizzled semi-sweet dark chocolate, topped with shaved coconut and let sit for two hours on wax paper.

BAM. Took me less than ten minutes to prep and it is DELICIOUS.


You should look around at markets and nut companies to find almonds at a reasonable price. I have seen them priced at 9$ for a very small bag in box retailers. At the market I find a 1.5lb bag for only 3 dollars. I bought large hunks of baking chocolate and just melted it down with a splash of milk (stir the entire time! You do not want the chocolate to burn!) I bought everything in bulk so that I can make this each week. Once a day should help my cravings stay at bay while avoiding candies that are high in calories, high in sugar, preservatives, dyes, etc.

FYI I also made this: which requires no instructions what-so-ever:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites: Slice banana and add almond butter or peanut butter between two slices. Place on wax paper and freeze for one hour. Remove from freezer and dip in bowl containing a mixture of one cup melted chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk, white - your choice) and one teaspoon of oil (canola or vegetable). Re-place on waxpaper and freeze again. After one hour servce or package in freezer-safe container for storage.

Next time; let’s hope for the wine recommendation !