The Shady Porch: 09.11


A Basket of Zinnias for My Door

Our temperatures are dropping and they are actually using the dreaded frost word in the coming forecasts....brrrr. I love the changing seasons, including winter, but I have no love for the cold. In my perfect world, we would have ice and snow, but the temps would never dip below the 50s and never exceed 80 - don't ask me how that would work ;)  ...and while I'm at it...there would be no such thing as humidity, either.

Honestly, I trust God's design in which all of these things have a purpose, so I will give Him thanks for everyday, regardless of the chilly temperatures. 
Basket of my Zinnias

Having gotten that off my chest ;), I decided to cut some of my beautiful zinnias from the garden and use them in my fall door basket before the frost could claim them. Our flowers this year have been show stoppers and I hate to see them go...fresh flowers never fail to bring a casual serenity to any setting. These are actually starting to fade but they still look spectacular! 
Basket before paint &  flowers 

Pine cone petals and faux pearls 
make these cute flowers

I dressed up a little basket that I had on hand by painting it white and then dry brushing some black over it to highlight the weaved pattern. I took apart a couple of pine cones and painted some of the pine cone petals black and left some natural. I used the hot glue gun to form flowers and then embellished them with faux pearls in the center. I hope it says Howdy and Welcome to all that come to my door! 

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An Autumn Table of Jewels

Jewel-toned pumpkins

To carry the celebration of all things autumn into the living room, I used some old, some new, and some homemade items to create this bright, colorful party on my table top! I created jewel-toned pumpkins to start. I painted one pumpkin a metallic moss pearl and decoupaged another in purple leafy tissue paper. Then, using burlap scraps, I made a couple of stuffed pumpkins.

My mom's Jewel Tea coffee pot is called Autumn Leaf and
is a sentimental family treasure dating back to the 50s

 I took a family treasure, my Jewel Tea coffee pot that came down to me from my grandmother and mother, and used it as a vase for a floral pop of color. Accented with a few family-gathered pine cones (Thanks, Unkie!) that added a light natural aroma, the Autumn Leaf pattern seems right at home.

My autumn table of jewels
Finally, I used my first subway art project that defines all things fall in our home, and coupled it with a homemade lantern made from wooden frames with a candle inside it. It's so bright and cheery, it makes me smile just looking at it. Happy Fall, Y'All!
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Chicken Lo Mein with Peanut Sauce

I took some liberties in naming my dish. I didn't use rice or the thin Chinese noodles used in Lo Mein, I used a low carb spaghetti instead. I also steamed cooked the veggies in the microwave rather than stir-frying them, but other than that I feel okay calling this a Lo Mein dish. 
This Lo Mein dish is the 2nd in my list of Top 5 easy dishes! I think it's a great meal if you're a short on time and to want to prepare something that's different, easy, quick and healthy. In case you missed it, number 1 in my Top 5 easy dinner list was Crock Pot Turkey Breast.

Chicken Lo Mein with Peanut Sauce
Chicken Lo Mein with Peanut Sauce


Crock Pot Morning Casserole

This is a hearty morning meal to break the fast. It has all of the traditional elements of a big weekend breakfast, but the added convenience of the crock pot doing all the work! This is a large casserole and would serve 6-8.

Crock Pot Morning Casserole #recipe #slowcooker #breakfast #casserole

A great recipe to use when having overnight guests, the aromas of breakfast fill the house before anyone gets up after a late night together. Add a fresh pot of coffee and/or a batch of sausage gravy to the menu, and there is something for everyone in this big winner with friends and family.


No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

Anytime I see the words dessert and No Bake, I'm interested. I don't have an aversion to baking, but the ease of No Bake definitely causes me to gravitate in that direction. I want to wow my friends and family when I prepare something for them and the ability to do it lickety split makes me very happy!

No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake  @cheesecake #dessert #pie #nobake
No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
with a dollop of whipped topping


Fall Subway Art Pumpkin

First, I have to take a minute to tell you how much I love the new web site Pinterest (this is a link to my Pinterest boards)! In case you haven't heard, Pinterest is a place for you to virtually pin, categorize and share all of your favorite web finds via pictures. That being said, Pinterest is where I found today's inspiration. The pinned project was from Today's Fabulous Finds. I have been trying to fall-ify (autumn-nicate?...) the house and when I saw this piece of fall subway art I thought it was unique and fun, so I decided to make one for myself! Subway art is very popular at the moment and today I discovered how easy it is to do.

Fall Subway Art Pumpkin


Turkey Breast with Rosemary & Garlic: Slow Cooker

This is in my Top 5 list of easy dinners. This dinner wins two ways: it keeps you out of the kitchen, AND it wows the family, too! Many of us only prepare turkey for the holidays but it doesn't have to be that way. If you have a slow cooker, you can prepare turkey with little fuss anytime! 

It's so easy... you can have Turkey dinner any time!

The first thing you need to do is get familiar with your slow cooker. Know what it can hold! I buy turkey breasts (bone-in and boneless...they both work) to cook in the crock pot. My large oval crock holds a 6 lb. bone-in breast. You might not need anything that large anyway, figure 1 lb. per person when buying your turkey breast. For this meal, I used a round medium-to-large crock for a 3 lb. boneless breast.  By the way, if you really want minimal clean-up crock just doesn't get any easier!

There are many different seasonings you can use to flavor the turkey but today I am going to give you one of our favorites. Of course, turkey is delicious on its own ... if this suggestion gives you pause (see alternative below).
This turkey breast was too large to use the foil ring to raise it out of the juices...still delicious.
Turkey Breast with Rosemary & Garlic: Slow Cooker

1 thawed, skinless, boneless turkey breast (about 3 lbs.)
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. dried rosemary
3 T. honey
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. pepper
salt to taste

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
This turkey breast was small enough that I used the foil ring to raise it out of the juices.
1. Put liner in crock pot, if applicable. If not, spray crock with cooking spray.
2. Trim any fat from the turkey, rinse and pat dry. Remove any gravy packets, if applicable.
  • Hint - If you have room in your crock - and especially if you are cooking a boneless breast - I like to make a foil ring (or several foil balls) and place it in the bottom of the crock so the breast rests on it. This keeps the breast from sitting in liquids/fat produced during cooking.
  • Of course, you can substitute root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions for the foil. The plus side? You can eat them, too!
  • No-Fuss Alternative - if you do not like the seasoning recipe, simply substitute 1 cup of water or broth to crock and cook as directed below.
3. In small bowl, mix garlic, rosemary, honey, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper. Brush all over the turkey breast. Salt, as desired.
4. Be sure to plug in your crock pot (I learned my lesson once upon a time... so you don't have to!). Cook on high if you want it done in 4-6 hours or on low if you want it in 7-10 hours.
5. I always use a temperature probe to make sure it is the recommended 165 degrees for poultry.

The seasoning mixture was adapted from The Big Oven.

Looking for more slow cooker recipes? 
Check out the Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin and the Pot Roast Sandwich w/ Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise!


Rustic Fall Centerpiece

Resistance is futile. (Yes, I was/am a Star Trek fan). So I have assimilated into the collective and have gone into full-blown fall decorating mode. There are so many inspiring fall projects that I have admired in bloggy land that I had no choice but to join in!

Twig Candle Holders
©2011 Fossil, Inc. All rights reserved
This particular project was all about timing, I saw a rustic twig and candle decoration at Fossil Life Style Blog and it reminded me that I had a bundle of branches at my disposal due to a recent pruning project in the yard.
Rustic Fall Centerpiece
Using the branches from the yard project, I opted to make a centerpiece for the kitchen table. I took one of my empty coffee cans and painted it brown to prevent the shiny silver from showing through. I then hot glued my cut branches to the can. Obviously, a very easy project. The real hard work was on the one that had to prune the trees; my part was simply utilizing the refuse of that chore.  I took a strip of burlap and tied it around the can to dress it up a bit, although I wanted to maintain the rustic appearance that the branches present.

Once again I turned to the Dollar Tree to get my artificial flowers to fill my new rustic...vessel? container? can. 

I used a large coffee can for this project because I have plans to set a potted mum down in it at a future date.  For now the 4-5 bundles of artificial leaves and flowers look great.

To finish up the table scape, I added a bit of burlap and scattered some artificial leaves (thankfully, we have some time before the leaves actually turn and fill the yard).   

I am happy with the outcome. I love that the the project was nearly free! My only expense was the artificial flowers and leaves...another great project for about $5!

Here are some other rustic craft ideas you might like!
Restyled Rustic Centerpiece for the Holidays!
Framed Pine Cone Owl   


Calzone Rolls for Game Day!

When game day rolls around it naturally generates a festive atmosphere. You wear your team colors,  pull out the team decorations, flags, and pom-poms. However, it is the menu that truly makes the party.  Last weekend, I tried a recipe I found on that was perfect for any game day menu.
Baked Calzone

I prepared Calzone rolls served with marinara sauce on the side. We loved them!  Of course, my family loves pizza so I kinda knew I was going to be safe. I especially love this recipe for game day because it can be served as an appetizer or as the entree. 


We Won The Crazy Cooking Challenge!

Family, Friends, Blog Buddies and everyone else that voted for me...Congratulations!

We Won the 1st Crazy Cooking Challenge!
Check out the Winner Announcement here.
This challenge was for the Ultimate Mac-N-Cheese Recipe, and I found the winning recipe at  We Heart This...thanks for sharing it Krista!
I started my blog journey just 84 days ago. It has been fun, frustrating, and now a very rewarding adventure.  I am so overwhelmed by the number of votes my entry received and so thankful that I have so many encouraging people behind me! I hope you will continue the blog journey with me here or through my Shady Porch Facebook page.
Thank You!
Thanks Tina at Mom's Crazy Cooking for hosting this fun challenge. 
 If you want to know how to get in the next challenge check out Tina's link above.

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Fall Floral Cone Door Decoration

Although I am a spring and summer lover, I have to confess to an attraction to the autumn colors and decorations. I love the pumpkins, mums, apple cider, and football games. It is a refreshing time, as summer fades and the transition to fall begins. This transition has inspired me to make some changes around the house, starting with my first decoration using the colors of fall. Surprise! It's a new door decoration! For new readers, I have been on a door decorating kick lately, I know (at least it's not a wreath this time).

My ode to 2nd spring!
I give Martha Stewart inspiration kudos for this one. I was surfing her Fall Decor Crafts and ran across a woven door arrangement that was lovely.
© 2011 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Being the thrifty decorator that I am, I knew I was not going to spend $8-12 on basket cane webbing, however.

Then one day while shopping, I ran across that plastic pre-cut needlepoint canvas for 59¢ and knew I had my replacement. I bought a brown canvas thinking I could spray paint it a creamy beige to mimic the cane look, but, for now, I've decided to keep it brown.

I picked up 3 bundles of fall flowers from the Dollar Tree and used jute to tie around the cone. I did stitch the plastic canvas into the cone shape to make sure it would not fall apart.

That was all I had to do to get this beautiful fall door decoration for less than $5.

     "Autumn is a second spring
      when every flower is a leaf."

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I shared this at -  All Things Beautiful (Fall Party),


Baked Egg Muffins

I've got a great recipe for those of you that feel rushed in the morning and need something that is quick, easy and appetizing to feed the family! I was browsing Pinterest and ran across a picture that showed the process of making these baked egg muffins. I couldn't wait to try these...they looked too good to be true!
A quick and easy breakfast...Baked Egg Muffins
Baked Egg Muffins


Versatile Red Burlap Wreath

I fell in love with a red burlap wreath I saw recently and  immediately thought of all the ways I could use this wreath...Christmas, Game Day (Scarlet is one of the OSU colors), Valentine's Day, and all the patriotic holidays. I planned to make the red burlap wreath as a foundation using hot glue and then all of the adornments would be affixed in such a way that I can easily remove them and redecorate according to the season or event!
I bought a yard of red burlap at Hobby Lobby for $3.99. I had a 12 inch styrofoam wreath from the Dollar Tree ($1). A $5 wreath that I can use over and over again makes me very happy!
Red Burlap Game Day Wreath
I cut the burlap into 3 inch squares (approximate). It took about 1/2 of the yard, maybe a little more. I painted the green styrofoam red to make sure it wouldn't show through. Once the styrofoam was dry, I folded the burlap square from opposite corner to opposite corner, creating a triangle, then I folded that in half creating a smaller triangle.
Hot gluing burlap squares to the styrofoam foam
Holding the triangle at the wide top I applied hot glue to the inside fold and to the tip of the piece. I then attached it to the wreath form using my popsicle stick to hold it in place until set. My wreath was wide enough that I applied 2 pieces side by side to cover the wreath surface.

I continued going around the wreath attaching the burlap pieces until completely covered. The burlap does fray but I think that is one of the wonderful traits about the material. It makes it rustic or, as some might say, "shabby chic." I then took several scrap strips I had from cutting out the squares and covered the outer edge of the styrofoam...just because I could...why waste even the scraps? It made the wreath look more finished than the painted edge did.
Yo-Yo Rosettes
Next step was adorning the wreath and, since we are in Game Day mode around here with the start of NCAA football (SEC [UK] & Big Ten [OSU] fans), I opted for the OSU decorations for this week. I keep seeing these Yo-yo Rosettes everywhere in the blog world. I remember making these ages ago. Now you can buy Yo-Yo material with complimentary fabric prints already printed in cut-out circles.
Felt backing added to rosettes with hot glue
The package makes 86 2-inch rosettes and full price is @12.99. It is pricey, so I recommend catching them on discount. I attached the Yo-Yo rosettes to felt with hot glue so I could just stitch them to the wreath as a unit. Then I added a wood football by hot gluing it to a piece of remnant bandanna and tying it to the wreath.
Finally, to hang the wreath I took a black bedazzled bandanna and looped it through the wreath and tied it at the top and secured it with a black ribbon.
We're ready for another game day!

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Mmmmm...Great! Macaroni & Cheese

I felt confident that I had prepared enough mac-n-cheese over the years that I could spot a winning recipe to enter in the Crazy Cooking Challenge, if I ran across one and I can truly say that as soon as I read this recipe, I was sure this was it. The big confirmation came when I prepared it for my family...they went gaga over it.  
Creamy 3-Cheese Mac & Cheese #recipe #pasta #comfortfood #dinner
We won The Ultimate Mac-N-Cheese Challenge!
Thank you for voting!


Lampshade Makeover

Makeover supplies - Mod Podge, Tissue paper & Shade

You might recall on one of my recent thrift trips, I found a pineapple lamp and gave it a makeover. However, I had no idea what to do with the stained lamp shade. I searched through Google images and blogs for inspiration. Do I use fabric paint, stencils, appliques or wallpaper? In the end, I decided I would use my go-to method...Mod Podge! I had purchased gift tissue paper at the Dollar Tree the other day...just because it was pretty. Later, I thought it would look great on the shade.


I made a pattern and used it to cut the individual sections of tissue paper to match the sections on the lamp. Then I applied them with the Mod Podge. I actually used the backside of the paper because I wanted to downplay the shiny gold and go for a more muted design. It was really easy to do and I am actually amazed with the results! It looks great! I left the ribs of the shade as they were and I think it really sets off the papered sections nicely.

I've got another lampshade makeover to show you! It's a DIY French Script design! Check it out! It was easy!  

I linked up at


Stuffed Burgers

It is obvious by the success of the fast food industry that people LOVE hamburgers! But I also feel
comfortable stating that, as with most everything, homemade is better. With diligence we can duplicate that favorite sauce, or that spicy flavor and, in turn, we can make it for ourselves at a fraction of the cost!

This summer we discovered we love stuffed burgers! I don't know where we first heard about them, but since trying them, it's been stuffed burgers at our place.
Stuffed Burgers
Grilled Stuffed Burger...stuff it with your favorites!

The great thing about them is you can stuff them with whatever you have on hand and you can have a different combo each time, if you choose to. We started out with onion and Heinz Chili Sauce. Since then we've branched out and used everything from mushrooms to various cheeses and spices. So far they have all been winners! (We also grill our buns...just enough to give even an ordinary bun a warm crunch...just put the buns on the grates the last little bit before the burgers are pulled off, and that will do it.)

Stuffed Burgers
Stuffed burger patties
This particular stuffed burger has mushrooms, onions, bacon, ham, mixed Italian cheese (Romano, Provolone and Parmesan) and McCormick's Grill Mates Hamburger Seasoning, which we just mixed directly into the ground beef - in this case, ground sirloin -  and then formed into patties.  We used a plastic patty press to shape the burgers. In addition to the wonderful variety of great flavors that are blended on the grill, these burgers are wonderfully juicy...even when cooking them well-done (which can run the risk of being dry.) May be it's the stuffing...Whatever it is, tricked out stuffed burgers turn ordinary hamburger night into a fantastic treat.
Stuffed Burgers
Grilled stuffed burger...yum.
more Shady Porch Recipes you might like...


Game Day Wreath

I've been looking forward to the coming college football season. A new coach, a new quarterback, and some changes in the conference, but one thing will never change...we will always be fans! In anticipation of the season kick-off, I decided to add to our game day decor with a school-spirited door wreath.

There are so many ways to go when making a wreath. For instance, you could use grapevine, foam, or wire foundations to get started. Then the wreath itself could be fabric, ribbon, or painted pine cones to name a few of the possibilities.  Embellishments are what make the wreath and again there are countless choices.

Team Wreath #wreath #ribbon #crafts #football #team #door #DIY
So I started with a styrofoam base, and covered it in red ribbon. Then I took red and white metallic curling ribbon that I bought at the Dollar Tree, and cut them into 8-10 inch sections. Next, I bundled 8 of the cut pieces together using another piece of ribbon. Once I had my tied bundles of red and white ribbon, I went back through them and curled them using my scissors.

Next, I used my hot glue gun to attach the curled ribbon bundles to the styrofoam base. (Be sure to have a popsicle stick to save your fingers from hot glue blisters!) Once you've covered the wreath form, it is time to decorate it!
I purchased some wood letters, and I painted them black. I used a paint pen and wrote cheers on them. I painted an wooden oval to resemble a football and then I added some buckeyes using beads and felt leaves. Finally, I took a Brutus Buckeye that had originally been on a key chain and I glued him to a strip of red burlap and ran it down the middle of the wreath. I spent about $10 to make this wreath, since I had to buy the foam form, 4 spools of curling ribbon and the wood letters/oval.
Team Wreath #wreath #ribbon #crafts #football #team #door #DIY

I am excited about the game tomorrow. Now I can't wait to hang our OSU wreath on the front door while the hubby sets up the inflatable Brutus and hoists the Buckeye flag.

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Handcrafted Ribbon & Bead Necklace

Ribbon & Bead Necklace
Whenever I visited Pinterest and other blogs, I kept running across these ribbon and bead necklaces. I knew I wanted to try to make one of my own. There are several tutorials available, but I got my start by reading the tutorial at Buggie & Jellybean.

Items needed are minimal...ribbon (I've seen various widths used!), approx 12 beads (number of beads and size also are flexible), needle and thread!

I used a black and a white ribbon with 2 different sizes of scarlet beads. I wanted my necklace to match Ohio State's colors for the upcoming football season! The project took less than an hour, and I love how it turned out!

I love how easily you can adjust the length
of these necklaces, too!

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