Archive from April, 2012
30 Apr
Posted in: Household
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May Task List

This time last year I was on my way to Mexico and instead now I’m back at home working on about 10 projects at once. It’s easy to get caught up on yardwork this time of year and forget about keeping up with all the little things. So once again I’m relying on this month’s Get Organized Now checklist to keep the inside of my house looking as nice as the outside.

I’m mapping out my favorites on the calendar and then scheduling all my other projects around their list. Up for me this month: work on the fireplace makeover on rainy days and work on a second flower bed on sunny days. I also want to keep some balance in my life so I plan on visiting the park and going on a picnic this month.

may calendar
Source: Vintage Sterling Silver May 1964 Calendar Charm Pendant via The Copper Cat Vintage Jewelry

May seems to be focusing on balance in the checklist and that’s perfect for my life right now. Some of my top tasks for May from the checklist include:

  • May 1: I love this suggestion from the list- go on a negative energy scavenger hunt. It’s so open-ended but the gist is to walk your home and find things that give you a negative feeling. This could mean clutter stacks, that burnt out lightbulb you keep ignoring, a spot of paint needing to be touched up or even a spot that could just use an ounce of brightness.
  • May 3: Take a new approach when doing tasks. Before starting on a project ask if it brings you closer to the goals for your home. If yes- do it! If no- ask yourself why you are doing it. It’s really easy to get caught up in the idea of having some sort of “perfect” home after seeing staged home on Pinterest, other blogs, or in magazines. Prioritize your energy and happiness.
  • May 4: On the opposite end, do a positive scavenger hunt. Find objects that make you happy and feature them. If you love an accessory try to feature it and hide or donate the objects that you don’t need.
  • May 13: Do something for Mother’s Day. Some moms want everyone around, some want a day to relax so find what’s best for you.
  • May 16: Plan out the meals for the rest of the month. Stock up and avoid the grocery store as much as possible. Try living out of your pantry or fridge to clear your fridge out. That way you’ll have space available right in time for planning a big Memorial Day bash.
  • May 24: Organize your car and find a place to store all emergency equipment. Clearing space will mean you have more space to haul items.
  • May 28: Enjoy Memorial Day weekend with a picnic in the park, a parade, or spending time with family.

If you’re local to St. Louis, here’s a list of my Top 10 Things to Do in St. Louis for May. There’s so many festivals going on this month you definitely won’t be bored in the city.

What’s your must-do task for May?

27 Apr
Posted in: Food
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Chocolate Fondue

chocolate fondue

I’m in a fondue mood because I keep meaning to try Stone Cellar Fondue in St. Charles, Missouri. I was hoping to get over there this weekend to celebrate a mini-anniversary (my first date with my husband was 9 years ago this weekend) but we have a concert to go to instead (The Black Keys). So instead of going out, I decided to bring the fondue home. I hooked up my mini crockpot and while it warmed I mixed up some chocolate chips and cream on the stovetop. In 5 minutes the chocolate was ready to pop in the crock and for the dipping to start.

chocolate fondue

The key to a great fondue is choosing the best ingredients to dip. I like to take pound cake and freeze it ahead of time for dipping. I love including cookies like Oreos and graham crackers, though today I decided to go the route of animal crackers and Oreos. Either way, make sure you have a good cookie to scoop out any accidental drops in the chocolate. Fruit is the other most important dipper. I love cherries and bananas but my absolute favorite dipper is the simple strawberry. My best dip today was a strawberry layered between two pieces of pound cake. If only I’d had some brownies laying around it would have been perfect.

Chocolate Fondue

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chip


  1. Heat the cream on the stovetop just until bubbles form.
  2. Remove cream from heat and stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. When chocolate is smooth, transfer it to a fondue pot or a mini crockpot.
  4. Serve with cakes, cookies, brownies, and fruits to dip into chocolate.

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26 Apr
Posted in: Food
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Bulk Cooking: Potatoes

The hot weather finally calmed down but I don’t trust it will stay away for long so I wanted to make this next recipe before summer really sets in. The hour of baking for this recipe means you do not want to prep this in the heat of summer. Many people think you can’t freeze potatoes. I’ve had a failure where all the potatoes turn black and I’ve had mashed potatoes that did alright but were never quite as good as the original without a little work. This recipe for freezer twice baked potatoes is a standout because they taste incredible after being in the freezer. The secret is that you freeze them after only the single bake and then you cook them in the oven right in their frozen state. To get more tips, see here this sweet potato cake recipe.

oamc potatoes

I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes from my local grocery store for only $2. I had used about 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes for other meals so I used 7 1/2 pounds (or 25 potatoes) for this recipe. I’ll share the full 10 pound recipe for you guys so you can just use a bag and not have to do a lot of guesswork. With so many potatoes, you’ll want to rotate the pans in the oven every half hour. I like to put my potatoes on baking sheets according to size so if the smallest potatoes finish after an hour I can just remove the small potato baking sheet and let the larger potatoes keep cooking until they have some give.

I like to make my potatoes a little healthier so I try to use skim milk, laughing cow cheese (the queso and garlic ones are my favorites), and I leave the shredded cheese off my pieces. When I bake them I add cheese and bacon to my husband’s portions and I top mine with sour cream or Greek yogurt after I’ve baked mine. These also taste incredible with some pesto drizzled on top. The possibilities are endless. If you don’t care about those adjustments, regular milk or even half and half work for your liquid and regular cream cheese works perfectly with this recipe. I’ve done it all.

oamc potatoes

When you store your items, make sure to let them freeze flat first. Then you can pop them in containers. I found these containers at the Dollar Store and I love the flat tops, they’re perfect for easy stacking. I usually fit between 4 and 8 halves in each container. When reheating I cook the entire package on a cookie sheet and eat any leftovers during the week with my lunch. My favorite way to eat these for lunch is to take some chili and pour it over a potato half. It’s perfection.

Freezer-Ready Twice Baked Potatoes


  • 10 lbs large baking potatoes
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 6 ounces fat free cream cheese or laughing cow cheese
  • 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Clean potatoes and dry. Place them on baking sheets. 10 pounds of potatoes usually requires 3 baking sheets.
  3. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and kosher salt.
  4. Bake potatoes for 1 to 1/2 hours depending on the size.
  5. Allow potatoes to cool around 15 minutes. While cooling, mix together butter, cream cheese (or laughing cow), salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise taking care not to damage the rest of the skins.
  7. Use a large spoon to scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving a thin layer of potato attached to the skin. Put the middles you scoop out into the mixer with your butter cheese blend.
  8. Once you've scooped out all the potatoes, place the shells back on the baking sheet with the skin side down.
  9. Blend potato and butter/cheese mix in your mixer. Add milk as needed until potatoes resemble stiff mashed potatoes.
  10. Spoon the potato mix back into the shells. If you are adding shredded cheese, sprinkle and press onto potatoes.
  11. To Serve Immediately:
  12. Place pan back into the oven and bake 15-25 minutes.
  13. To Freeze:
  14. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and place baking sheet in freezer until potatoes are completely frozen.
  15. Remove potatoes from baking sheet and place in plastic bags or foil containers with baking instructions written on them.
  16. To Cook Frozen Potatoes:
  17. Preheat oven to 350°F and place potatoes on baking sheet. Loosely cover with foil.
  18. Bake about 45 minutes. Uncover foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

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23 Apr
Posted in: Home Renovation
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Fireplace Plans

Last week I shared my flower bed plans. I’m happy to say that all of the planned plants are in the ground. We still have a planter to build and one corner to add some height in with plants but those are long-term plans. The only other short-term plan we have going on in the flower bed is hooking up our rain barrel. We wanted to create a nice base for it but first we had to drain out our 65 gallons of rain collected inside it so we took some time doing that and then it rained on us again. Such is life.

We’re making progress on the base this week but within a 6 hour period we usually go from a 0% chance of rain to it actually raining (no love STL weather forecasters). That’s why my husband and I have decided to split our projects into indoor and outdoor projects. A few months back I mentioned we were starting our living room makeover but then the nice weather came and we had to do yardwork. All that got done in the living room was a nice paint job, some new trim, putting up blinds, and some furniture rearranging. If we split our energy doing indoor work on rainy days and outdoor work on nicer days, we won’t waste time yelling at weather forecasters for ruining our lives so often. Maybe.

oversized fireplace

Here’s the current eyesore of the living room. (Click to enlarge) You can see our paint updates and ExpertWindows window updates but with all the decorations removed you can see all the flaws too. The fireplace is very oversized in the room. The mantel is undersized in comparison.

fireplace before

The tiles clash, the brickwork is done in a strange pattern, and there’s a random letter H on the front for the last name of the original owners. Let’s not even get into the inside of the fireplace. Right now it’s non-functional with a board propping up some sort of method the original owners used to close off the chimney. We’ve been too terrified to pull it out and we fully expect some animals may be living in there. Either that or we really do have a ghost. More cleaning will have to be done inside as well.


Here’s a closer look at some of the problems. The old toekick around the fireplace stopped the floors from being finished underneath it so we’ll need to address that. Our current tiles don’t quite look as we’d like. We plan to get tile flooring work done as soon as we get a chance to fully realize our final vision of the room. Right now the groutline is 3/4″ minimum and almost an inch thick between the tile and the brick of the fireplace, so it will probably be a bit more complex than their usual flooring work, but it’s doable.

tile ideas

For tile we’d love to go with a slab but pricing will probably lead us to use interlocking tile again. We’re favoring some white shades but after we get up our new trim we might end up wanting contrast. If you do know of a (very) affordable place to buy fireplace hearth slabs or remnants in the St. Louis area, please let me know. I’d love to go that route but the $25/sqft pricing I’ve seen does not make me think I’ll be going that route.

As far as trim goes, I find myself drawn to the looks of Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick’s fireplace

and the fireplace by Julia of Pawleys Island Plush

I’m not sure which route we’ll end up going at our house but we do want to cover up plenty of that brick so our fireplace has a better sense of scale in the living room. I hope you’ll have patience with me as I bounce indoors and outdoors. My husband and I plan to be working in overdrive from now until the first of September when we’ll shift gears to start on another idea. You’ll see when we get there. I recently bought a beautiful dining set from outdoor dining sets Melbourne that’s perfect for our backyard. In the meantime, I’m going to try to update as often as I can (3-4 times a week) and I’ll keep taking photos so I’ll get around to showing off every project eventually.

If you have any tips for working on a fireplace, I’d love to hear them because I’m planning on attacking with my chisel the next day the weather forecasters are wrong about the odds of rain and that’s looking like tomorrow.

19 Apr
Posted in: Food
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Pudding Parfaits

banana pudding

I always seem to buy too many bananas. If I buy 6 I eat 3. If I buy 3 I eat 1. I hate letting them go to waste so they always end up in my freezer for a batch of banana bread to be made at some date in the future. This time I wasn’t in the mood to wait for banana bread. Even better, I had some Nilla Wafers in danger of going stale. Still, I didn’t have enough bananas or wafers to make my old school style banana pudding so I decided to work some magic to turn them into a parfait.

banana pudding

You’ll need bananas, Nilla wafers, and french vanilla pudding. It has to be french vanilla because I remember my grandma driving to an extra grocery store because regular vanilla just wasn’t good enough for banana pudding. She’d also demand the pudding be baked and have meringue but I’ve never been a fan or meringue or even whipped cream so I go without. You can do as you wish and maybe you’ll make my grandma happy.

The real secret to making these parfaits taste just like real banana pudding is letting them chill for at least 4 hours. Overnight is even better. That way your vanilla wafers will get that creamy consistency that makes you think you’re in the South, eating nana puddin as I called it as a kid. The wait is long but it’ll be worth it. You can do as you wish and maybe you’ll make my me happy.

Banana Pudding Parfaits

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 parfaits

Serving Size: 1 goblet


  • 1 3 oz package instant french vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 32 Nilla Wafers cookies
  • 2 bananas
  • Whipped cream or cool whip (optional)


  1. Use the pudding package and milk to prepare the pudding as directed. Let chill 5 minutes.
  2. While pudding is chilling, place 8 Nilla Wafers cookies in the bottom of a wine goblet. Repeat with 3 additional goblets.
  3. Divide half of the pudding between the 4 wine goblets, placing on top of the cookies.
  4. Cut each banana into 1/2 inch slices. Place half of each banana in each goblet on top of the pudding.
  5. Spread the second half of the pudding on top of the bananas, dividing evenly.
  6. Chill for at least 4 hours.
  7. Top with whipper cream or cool whip and serve.

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18 Apr
Posted in: Household
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Top 10 Kitchen Tools

 Centsational Girl is having everyone share their favorite kitchen gadgets and I wanted to make sure I chipped in. When I was getting married I was also moving into an empty house with no kitchen. I had never lived on my own outside of a dorm room, I didn’t like cooking (only baking) and had no clue what I needed. It should come as no surprise that I had no clue what to stock my kitchen with and ended up with a pinata. Luckily I had some advice from others, some relatives who stocked me up with items and gift cards, and I learned a lot along the way. Now I have a bunch of favorite items but here are 10 I couldn’t live without.

Pampered Chef Favorites

My cousin Allison was hosting Pampered Chef parties around the time I was getting married and she stocked me up with some amazing tools. I have added to my collection since then but these 4 are my must-haves. I love the bamboo spoons, I put them in my dishwasher and at 4 years old they look brand new. My Mix n Chop makes bulk cooking so much easier; I can have finely ground beef or shredded chicken in an instant. My bar pan gets most of its use as my pizza stone and it’s held up remarkably well. I also have the round stone in this collection. Finally, the scoop– I use this for cookies and I’ve tried buying the ones at Target and never again. My Target scoops both broke when they got caught on chocolate chips or M&Ms while scooping but my Pampered Chef one is going strong 5 years later. I don’t sell these products but if you go to a party I wouldn’t hesitate to stock up on every single one.

George Foreman Grill

True story, my parents once went to a conference and met George Foreman. That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to a celebrity. I know he’s more of a figurehead for the brand but I love my George Foreman grill, celebrity BFF or not. It has 5 removable plates that I can wash in the dishwasher including waffle plates and grilling plates. I cook burgers, chicken breasts, and kebobs on mine all the time. My other favorite way to cook with it is to put in the griddle plate and use it as a panini press. My turkey sandwiches always feel classier after a go in the George.

kitchenaid mixer

I see so many people who add the KitchenAid Mixer to a registry and I was no exception. I also see a lot of people who break them out to make cookies at Christmas and to collect dust the rest of the year. Why would you do that? I use mine to make pizza dough, bread, shred chicken, whip pie, not to mention mixing up all sorts of desserts. You can even make butter in a mixer. I like mine with the beater blade, it scrapes down the sides of your mixer which is perfect if you’re making something with a high liquid ratio.

immersion blender

I also like my immersion blender. I use it to mix up soups or spaghetti sauce and the chopper attachment is perfect for anyone who wants the functionality of a food processor but doesn’t use them often enough to justify the space those devices take up. I haven’t used all the attachments yet but I like what I have tried.

My next item is a bit of a cheat since it’s 3 items in one. I know a lot of people just starting off spend money on a giant knife block with 20 knives. Save your cash and instead invest in 3 quality knives. I use the Vie Belles brand and I get them on, all I need are the paring knife, the bread knife, and the 7″ Santoku knife.

My last item was such a help when I was first learning how to cook. I wanted to make sure I was cooking recipes that weren’t likely to fail and didn’t call for any ingredients I’d never heard of. The Taste of Home Cookbook is on its third edition now and each cookbook comes with a 1 year subscription to Taste of Home magazine.

I have many more items such as this cuckoo rice cooker that would make the honorable mentions list but that would drag on even longer than all these did. Like I said, most of my most beloved kitchen items came to me as gifts over the years. Some smart people shared their wisdom with me in gift form so I try to pass along the same knowledge to those around me. I usually do it in gift form but I don’t quite have the cashflow to buy all of you an item. Do you have any items that you couldn’t live without in your kitchen? I’d love to know what I’m missing.

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16 Apr
Posted in: Gardening
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Garden Design

flower bed

If you remember, my husband and I built ourselves a retaining wall. I’m happy to tell you that it’s been up a week and it hasn’t fallen down so clearly we did something right. This weekend my husband and I used our weekend trip into town to scout out plants for the front bed. In that trip alone I bought about 90% of the plants and also some teak patio furniture from RKC for my garden. Unfortunately, I’ve been under a tornado watch for most of the day Sunday and it’s been raining so the actual planting has been delayed until a time I won’t die when planting.

The spot used to be full shade but since cutting down some trees we get around 4-6 hours of sun. Check out these guys, they’re the ones who did a good job in removing our trees. This is one of the sunniest spots in our yard, believe it or not. Since we have so few plants that flower I really wanted to get some color into this spot. Here’s the plan we came up with. Don’t laugh at my amazing art skills.

garden layout

The gray areas are the sidewalks and porches. My house has two front doors so there’s a lot of concrete in one spot. In front of the retaining wall are a mix of boxwoods and purple dwarf rhododendrons. Both can grow quite tall but we’ll be maintaining them heavily until some of the back section plants grow taller. If you’re planning on planting tall trees next to your house like we will be doing, I suggest that you first take a look at your roof and gutters and prioritize repairing your guttering, which can be done with the use of gutter installation and repair services.

Your gutters take on a major role in maintaining your home by providing a solution through which excess rainwater or melted ice can is drained. It’s important that your gutter is clean and functioning properly to also avoid pest as explained by Gutterilla – Seamless & Guards Installation, so even if leaves were to fall on them, it’ll still work well enough to drain out water.

You can also read this page for some roof insurance providers to help you during roof replacement and repair. In addition, if you still don’t have a home insurance, you may want to consider contacting home insurance services like bear river insurance today for a quick quote. We’ll also probably throw a planter in front of the porch on the right but that’ll be another post. Here’s a better shot of the exterior. This is pre-tree removal and a few other projects.

The back section will be the brightest. There will be two rows of plants. In the back and on the right will be our rain barrel. It collects from our gutters and it’ll be the watering source for this whole area. To the left we want to balance out the height so I’m thinking a planter with some grass or bamboo depending on what we can find for partial shade. The Southern Live Oak Tree is a great choice for those looking to find an eco-friendly and popular live oak tree for sale. It will not only bring beauty into your home or office, but also provide you with fresh air!

A great addition for your patio is to install retractable roof systems to prevent the sun to hit directly to your patio and this will look modern.

In the center we plan to buy or build a planter with a trellis so a climbing vine (clematis?) can be the centerpiece. It’ll fit right between our two front windows. To round out the back row we’ll plant two larger rhododendrons, one white and one pink. The front row of the back section will have a hydrangea on either end and three red azaleas in the middle. A patio can also be a great way to extend the living space outside. If you’re considering building one, Miami Pergolas & Patios provides such patio building services.

We made sure our plans included enough space for for all the plants to grow. Always make sure to check the mature height and width for all your plants before putting them in the ground. Then before planting you should put all the pots where you’re planning to place them to make sure you like the arrangement. We had originally planned to alternate boxwood/dwarf rhododendron but testing it out made us realize we liked it better with some of the plants doubled up.

The 10-day forecast shows sun for most of the days so hopefully I’ll have some photos of plants in the ground soon enough.

12 Apr
Posted in: Household
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Going Nautical

I mentioned in another post how I love Katie Daisy’s whimsical creations. I’m starting to plan out some artwork purchases and I decided to create an image board to help me see how her pieces would work with some ideas I had in mind. I chose two of her pieces, Salt Air Hair and Take Me to The Sea, as inspiration for a soothing bathroom look.

I’m not sure if I’ll end up going this route as my bathroom won’t be started on until at least October, but I love the idea of a softer take on the nautical idea. I chose pieces that reminded me of ocean waves and salty seas for this inspiration board. I’ve listed the sources but I’ve also listed out some DIY alternatives for some of the pricier pieces.

katie daisy room inspiration


Seychelles Chandelier by Serena & Lily ($1500). This item is so gorgeous but the $1500 price tag is way out of my budget. Even before I saw the price tag I was thinking of how similar the light was to these DIY mardi gras bead chandeliers. I’d love to try it with these chip bead strands. I’m not sure what kind of light I may include in here but it would work simply as a decorative piece over my corner bathtub.

Large Atlantis Clam Shell by Z Gallerie ($59.95). I’m hoping I can find a slightly smaller (and cheaper!) version of this clam shell. It would look perfect on my bathroom vanity with some decorative soaps and handtowels thrown in.

Capiz Sea Horses by Pottery Barn Teen ($29-$39). I’ve seen DIY tutorials for copycat capiz using waxed paper and I think there’s a project here. These would be great for the walls above my bathtub.

Faux Coral by Z Gallerie ($29.95-$59.95). I already have the perfect plan for DIYing this for a lot less. I’m going to buy coral at the local pet store and spray paint it a nice shade of aqua.

Starfirsh Bowl by Z Gallerie ($24.95). The price on this one is too good to resist. I think this would be a perfect holder for some of my Lush bath bombs or some rolled up towels near the bathtub.

Blue Cloud Vases by Z Gallerie ($19.95-$24.95). While I could think of a DIY copycat, I think it would cost more than the actual item and the color on these is perfection. The 8″ one would be perfect on a bathroom shelf.

Any ideas for some other good accessories or wall colors? I have a Target soap dispenser that would repurpose beautifully into this room but I’m worried the overall look might be too dramatic for the subtle and sellable look we’re going for.

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11 Apr
Posted in: Food
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Frozen Cookie Pie

cookie pie

Do any of you remember those Polar Pizzas or Treatzza Pizzas from Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins back in the 90s? If you don’t, you missed out. The ice cream pizzas usually had an Oreo or cookie crust, some ice cream, and a batch of toppings that would send you to a sugar coma. I remember my brother getting one at his birthday party and being very jealous that I had just had a homemade cake at my own party a month earlier.

Flash forward to last week when we had 90 degree temperatures at the end of March/beginning of April. My husband and I were spending hours outside building a retaining wall and yet we were too stubborn (aka cheap) to turn on the air conditioner. I was desperate to find a way to cool off and then I remembered those pizzas.

cookie pie

I took some cookie dough and pressed it into a pie pan. I risked a quick bake in the oven and cooked the dough about 15 minutes. After the cookie cooled on the counter, I popped it into the freezer. Just before dessert time I thawed about 5 scoops of ice cream (you might need more if you use a bigger pie pan) and then I smoothed it into the cookie dough base.

cookie pie

To keep with the sugar coma memories of my childhood I drizzled on some Magic Shell and then sprinkled on some mini chocolate chips and some mini-Reese’s Pieces leftover from my Christmas cookies. It was some delicious frozen cookie pie, just like I remembered.

Frozen Cookie Pie

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 6 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice


  • 1 tube cookie dough (or 16 ounces of your favorite recipe)
  • 5 scoops thawed ice cream
  • Magic Shell
  • 1/8 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/8 cup Reese's Pieces


  1. Press the cookie dough into a pie pan, shaping the extra dough along the edges to resemble a pizza crust.
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  3. After cooling, place the cookie pie in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  4. Thaw ice cream for about 1 hour minutes before your serving time. You can skip this step by scooping the ice cream into a bowl and microwaving about 10 seconds.
  5. Smooth the ice cream into the center of the cookie pie and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. Pull the pie back out of the freezer. Drizzle with magic shell and sprinkle with candies.
  7. Use a warm knife to cut the cookie pie and serve.

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10 Apr
Posted in: Gardening
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Making a retaining wall

This past week my husband and I decided to tackle our front flower bed. It hadn’t been maintained very well before we bought the house and there were some massive bushes taking over.

flower garden before
flower garden

The garden we tackled this weekend is the one on the left. Over the years we had already replanted the daffodils and removed the bushes but we were left with a big pile of dirt just sitting there looking ugly. We had removed the front tree next to the flower bed so we knew that sun might actually climb through the trees at some point this year. We wanted to build a retaining wall to create some depth and dimension in the garden.

Little did we know we’d see 90 degree weather in March. It’s Missouri and we’re used to weird weather but this was out of control. Naturally we were right in the middle of the project when that 90 degree weather hit, then rain, and I was suffering a case of poison ivy from another project so let’s just say this project didn’t go as planned.

As planned would be to dig out the dirt to form a trench, layer 2 inches of gravel at the bottom of the trench, layer an inch of sand on top of the gravel, and then place 3 rows of pavers on top of all that. Then we would sip sweet tea, admire our work and be awesome.

What really happened was something like:

1. Discuss what pavers we want. Refuse to agree on anything and take a zillion trips to Lowes and Home Depot

flower bed

2. Wake up Saturday morning to see husband digging a trench. Realize that the roots from the removed tree made that flower bed their home. Use shears to cut out roots and scowl at the past homeowners and their bad decisions.

3. Realize that we made a giant trench and had no clue on paver choice. Rather than dwell on the possible mistake we made we just decided to try to make a guide to help keep our future work level.

flower bed

4. Go to the store and finally agree that we both don’t hate 2 pavers and that 1 is cheaper so it will win if we like the look at our house. Buy 5 bags of paver base (gravel), 3 bags of sand, and 3 pavers. Put everything in the car and realize it is dragging the ground.

5. Get home and agree we like the pavers but we need about 62 more. Considering the car situation, realize we’ll need a delivery and freak out over the cost.

6. Go online and discover that for the next 24 hours Lowes will deliver for free. Place the order for 62 pavers, go out and grab pizza, then put down some paver base and paver sand.

flower bed

7. Realize we made the trench way too big for these pavers, make our 4th trip into town for the night and pick up more paver base and sand. Work our butts off the next day in 90 degree temps and start to regret a lot of life choices.

flower bed

8. The pavers arrive Tuesday morning and we spend the second 90 degree day putting row 1 down. There’s a lot of leveling that goes on here. Realize we’ll have to cut one paver and decide we’ll do that and row 2 on Wednesday.

flower bed

9. Temps are only in the 80s but the poison ivy has spread from my arm to the rest of my body. Run to the drug store for all the drugs in the world. Husband grabs a chisel from the store to split the pavers along with 2 tubes of landscape adhesive so our pavers will stay in place. We cut one paver down to size and then lay row 2 with adhesive. It gets dark really early (okay, this is a lie– it was Opening Day) so we end the evening after row 2.

10. It rains overnight so we decide to let the pavers dry before adding the next row and its adhesive. We still take a trip into town.

flower bed

11. Friday we work our butts off and lay down the top row of pavers minus the end one that needs to be cut down. It’s just too dark to see the cutting lines.

flower bed

12. Saturday I wake up and go out with friends and when I come home the flower bed is finished, the dirt is pushed back in place, the lawn is mowed and my husband wants to go out for dinner. An Easter miracle! (or just an amazing husband)

flower bed

In reality our quick and easy flower bed went from me wanting to put down a few landscape timbers to a week long project but the final look is so much nicer. We still have to add some soil and compost, some plants, and some mulch but now we feel like paver laying pros and figure we gained a lot of knowledge for our next paver project. I’m happy to say it’s still standing and my husband and I are no longer regretting this project because it looks so nice. It was almost worth all the trouble but I really wish we had checked the 10-day forecast instead of the weekend forecast before starting.

flower bed

Lesson learned:

  1. Check the weather
  2. Have a full tank of gas for all those trips into town when you inevitably forget something.
  3. Make your wall look awesome so you forget all the trouble your project was
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