My First Terrarium ~ Inspired by Miracle-Gro's The Gro Project

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Terrariums are one of those little gardening projects that have come in and out of vogue over the years. I remember them being immensely popular in the 1970's and now I've been seeing them popping up all over again!
My First Terrarium with Succulents
Feeling like I needed a little something "alive" on my spring/summer entry table, I went looking for some terrarium inspiration. I'm not sure why, but I've always been intimidated by making a terrarium. So, when I began considering considering one, my thoughts went to Miracle-Gro. Their products have yielded great results in all my gardening endeavors. My first terrarium was inspired by Miracle-Gro's The Gro Project which is a wonderful resource for all growers to start their own gardening story.
My First Terrarium Succulent Rosette
I saw their Toyrarium and thought to myself that if a child could do a terrarium, then so could I. I already had half of the supplies at home.
At my local home and garden center, I found a huge variety of succulent plants and cacti. I picked out a few different varieties and started planning my terrarium.
Besides the plants, I needed soil. Moisture Control Potting Mix was just thing I was looking for. It feeds plants for up to six months and helps protect against over and under watering. ( I need all the help I can get where watering is concerned.)
When I got back home, I gathered all the elements for the terrarium and got to work.
I started by filling the bottom of my hurricane vase with some river rocks I had on hand.
Next, I filled the vase to about the half-way mark with soil.
Finally, I arranged the plants and added some extra soil around them.
That's it! Easy as can be! Why have I been avoiding making one for so long? If I can do it, I know you can too. In fact, it was so fun and easy, I think it would be a great thing for kiddos to make for Mother's Day!
Oh, and remember my Spring Planting I did a couple of weeks ago? The plants were in need of a little TLC. I purchased some of Miracle-Gro's Shake’n Feed All Purpose Plant Food to help them along. I love that I just have to shake the granules around the plants, work it into the soil a bit and water the plants. No more mixing and pouring solutions for me. I can't wait to see the blooms explode in all their glory! Has it warmed up enough for you to get out into your garden? If not, you could always get your hands a little dirty making a terrarium ;-)
Did you know Miracle-Gro has their own Pinterest page? I found all kinds of interesting ideas there. Be sure and follow them to keep up with all the fun garden projects on their boards as well as be inspired by gardeners like yourself sharing their own stories.
If you need a little more inspiration, check out this fun Gro Project video.

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Tangy Oven Barbecued Chicken

My two favorite ways to cook chicken breasts are in the crock-pot and grilled. However, sometimes I really just want some juicy baked chicken. My SIL gave me a recipe for Tangy Oven Barbecued Chicken several years ago and I have tweaked it ever so slightly, but it has made all the difference in the flavor.
Here's what you need: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, apricot preserves, barbecue sauce, dried thyme and some onion soup mix.
In bowl, combine barbecue sauce, apricot preserves, dried thyme and onion soup mix.
Prepare the chicken breasts by removing any excess fat. I also fillet the chicken, that way I can make two pieces go further. Place them in a glass baking pan and spoon the barbecue sauce mixture over the top.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
Tangy Oven Barbecued Chicken

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, filleted
1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken pieces into glass pan or stoneware. Combine the barbecue sauce, preserves, thyme and onion soup mix. Spoon over the chicken. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.

This chicken was so flavorful and juicy. It was delicious paired with a yummy salad and some cheesy noodles. When you find yourself wanting the taste of barbecue, but not necessarily ready to pull out the grill, I hope you'll try this recipe. It's a keeper!
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Mother's Day Sneak Peak

Hi Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? It was a gorgeous weekend for our last soccer game of the season. And, I got to spend a little time with my mom who is in town for the week to visit all her grandkids. Speaking of moms, did you know that Mother's Day is just 2 weeks away? Today, I thought I 'd give you a little Mother's Day sneak peek on what my mom will be getting.
My mom is such a special lady. I love finding little things that will put a smile on her beautiful face.
Moni loves smelling nice, and my dad keeps her supplied with perfume most of the time. She also loves hand creams and soaps. When we were out at HomeGoods for a little retail therapy today, I picked up this fresh scented hand soap for her.
A few weeks ago, I was at Mardel's Christian Bookstore and found this beautiful gift book entitled Living Simply. I knew it would be perfect for her.
It has pretty botanical pictures throughout, along with scriptures and reminders about living a simple, God-honoring life.
Finally, after working on a small gardening project that I'll be sharing very soon, I had some succulent plants left over. I simply planted them in a small terracotta pot, and wrapped it up in burlap. Now, I know that my daughter will most likely draw a picture or two for her Nana also. I'll be on the hunt for a cute basket to put all these small gifts into for the Best Mom in the Whole Wide World. Maybe I should pick up one of those giant cards for her too ;-)

What types of gifts do you give your mom? Do you have big plans for Mother's Day?
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Food for the Soul ~ Psalm 86:11

Oh, that our hearts would not be divided! My prayer for us all is that we would focus our hearts on Him and learn to love and serve him WHOLEheartedly. Have a blessed week, my friends!

Saturday Dishes Link Party ~ Slow-Cooker Edition

Happy Saturday! I'm partying again this weekend! I didn't get enough of the slow cooker recipes last week, so I'm co-hosting with Paula of Call Me PMc and some others for a fun link party with a different theme each week. This week we're linking up Slow-Cooker Recipes. So, dust off those old recipes and bring them out again. We want to see those delicious family favorites!

Book Page Bedecked Birdhouse

Hi Friends! I hope you have had a great week. I can hardly believe it's Friday again!  Along with a few recipes I was trying this week, I also pulled out some items from my crafting stash to come up with a cute little Mother's Day craft for you and the kiddos to do for all the lovely ladies in your life. I'm really happy with how the Book Page Bedecked Birdhouse turned out.
Mother's Day gifts do not need to be fancy or expensive. (This craft cost less than $2 to make!) Moms just want to know that they are loved and appreciated. The best way to show that is with a personalized, handmade gift.
Here is what you'll need: small wooden birdhouse, book pages or scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, moss, and some flowers(not shown)~ either dried or faux.
Start by ripping up the book pages into small, irregular shaped pieces and adhering them to the outside of the birdhouse with Mod Podge.
This is a really fun part for the kiddos, as it doesn't require any real precision...just a willingness to get a little messy.
Completely cover the birdhouse with paper, then go over it again with another coat of Mod Podge. Sound familiar? This is the same way I made my Book Page Decoupage Eggs.
Once the birdhouse is dry, using a hot glue gun, adhere the moss to the roof of the birdhouse.
I also put some around the bottom of the birdhouse.
I could have left it like this for a more neutral tone, but I decided to spruce it up a bit by adding in a few flowers to "decorate" the birdhouse with the beauty of spring.
You could make a few of them and bunch them together as a centerpiece for a beautiful Mother's Day brunch, or fill one with your favorite bible verses to encourage your mom, or even just roll up some little scrolls with thoughts and notes of gratitude to that special woman in your life. The possibilities are endless. What are your favorite Mother's Day gifts to give and receive?
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No-Bake Granola Bites

We love granola bars around here, so much so, that we rarely have them because they get gobbled up too quickly. Looking through my pantry this week, I knew I had the ingredients to make something that would work as a somewhat healthy snack....these No-Bake Granola Bites. The best part is that they taste just like you're eating cookie dough...minus all the butter, sugar and raw eggs ;-)
Here's what you need: oatmeal, toasted coconut flakes, ground almonds, peanut butter, chocolate chips, honey, vanilla extract
Here's how you make them: combine oatmeal, toasted coconut flakes and ground almonds together.
Add in the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and chocolate chips, stirring to combine thoroughly.
Just look at that beautiful dough. Yum! After you grab a big spoonful to eat yourself, cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and roll into balls. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
No-Bake Granola Bites

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (dry)
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and roll into 1 inch balls. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
What I love about this recipe is that you can totally change up the ingredients and make different kinds of Granola Bites. Instead of peanut butter, try almond butter. Instead of the almonds, try flaxseed or wheat germ.  Add in some dried cranberries if you want. My kiddos really enjoyed these. Next time, I may try sneaking in some chia seeds or some other healthy ingredient. (Shhhh...don't tell.) See what kind of creative Granola Bites you can make!
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DIY Boutique Dishtowels

Need a fresh color splash in your kitchen, but not wanting to pay big bucks? Try making these colorful DIY Boutique Dishtowels.
Simply find a couple of coordinating prints of Duck Cloth (or any 100% cotton fabric) at the fabric store, some trim and go to town!
The final dimensions of my towels were about 16 1/2" x 26 1/2", but you could make yours larger if you wanted. Duck Cloth comes in so many fun colors and patterns now. You shouldn't have any trouble finding some to match your decor, or perhaps to give it that punch of color you've been wanting.
I was drawn to these fun patterns, even though they are a bit of a diversion from my usual colors and style. Maybe it was just Spring Fever? Well, anyway, they are a little sassy and add some pizazz to my kitchen. I gave my Mom one of them for her birthday in March and she loved it.  I probably should have waited for Mother's Day. Oh, well... you could still make one for your mom. Heck, you could make a bunch for all the ladies in your life. Who doesn't love a fun dishtowel?
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Savvy Southern StyleCoastal Charm and Between Naps on the Porch
I've had lots of questions about how well these towels absorb liquids. I have found that they work better than my microfiber towels and they dry dishes/hands about as well as any of my other 100% cotton towels I've bought at the store.

Teriyaki Beef Roll-Ups

We are always looking for quick and tasty meals around here, especially during baseball and soccer seasons. This Teriyaki Beef Roll-Ups recipe I cut out of a magazine several years ago fits the bill, pleasing at least 3 out of 4 Higbys in the house. (The fourth ate it, but it "wasn't her favorite".) My son, however, said it was the best thing he has ever eaten...maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I'll take it.
Here's what you need: thin sliced roast beef, Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce (I used the lower sodium one), shredded lettuce, sliced green onions, grated Havarti with Dill cheese, vegetable oil and flour tortillas.
Teriyaki Beef Roll-Ups

1/2 lb. thinly sliced roast beef
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce and Marinade
1 cup shredded Havarti with Dill cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
6  8-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Spread roast beef slices out in a shallow dish and coat with teriyaki sauce. Allow to marinate for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, sprinkle 2 Tbsp. cheese and 1 Tbsp. sliced green onions evenly over the tortillas. Remove beef from the marinade, shaking off excess. Place equal amounts of beef and lettuce on all the tortillas. Roll up each tortilla, jellyroll style and secure with a toothpick. Brush the tops of the tortillas with the oil. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until the tops are crisp and the edges are golden. Serve immediately.
I mounded all the ingredients down the center of the tortillas and rolled it up, because I was a cotton-headed-ninny-muggins going by my sometimes failing memory. Next time, I will follow these directions, as I think it would taste better to have the tortilla mingling with the ingredients in the middle. Tortillas are my go-to ingredient for "fast food". You can put just about anything in one, roll it up and you've got a portable meal solution. What's your favorite roll-up ingredients?
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Food for the Soul ~ James 4:8

What an emotional week it's been! I'll be honest, when I see things happening like this week's Boston bombings and the devastation in West, Texas, my heart is heavy and burdened . Not only do I come face to face with how volatile the world is, but also my own fears and insecurities. This is exactly when I turn to the One who casts out all fear.
James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you." God's Word, the Bible, is full of His promises to comfort us and guide us, especially through trials such as those endured this week. Perhaps you're going through a difficult time waiting for news of a diagnosis or struggling in your marriage or feeling lonely. In all these times, the Lord longs for you to draw close to Him. It is His desire to draw you close "as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing". (Matt. 23:37)
My prayer for you this week is that in whatever trial you find yourself going through and whatever fears threaten to steal your joy, you will draw near to God and find comfort and peace under the shadow of His wings. For you, Boston and West, may the Lord heal your broken hearts and hold you close as you navigate the waters of sorrow and hope.
Blessings to you, sweet friends! Your visits mean so much to me.

Mrs. Ledbetter's Chocolate Pie

Today's recipe comes with a bit of a story and my typical "make do with what ya got" attitude. In 2009, we had the opportunity to live in the St. Louis area for about 6 months. While there, we saw, did and ate some amazing things. Mrs. Ledbetter's Chocolate Pie is one of those delicious things we devoured. We had gone to My Just Desserts in Alton, Illinois for lunch and this pie....Mrs. Ledbetter's Chocolate Pie.
Fast forward 4 years and I was wanting some of that pie real bad. I went searching for a copycat version and lo and behold, they had the recipe right on their website. Here it is...

Mrs. Ledbetter's Chocolate Pie
4 oz. German Chocolate Baking Bar (or 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/4 cup margarine (butter)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (12oz.) can Evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 10oz. unbaked deep dish pie crust (or 6 1-cup ramekins or homemade crumb crust and ramekins)
chopped pecans for sprinkling (approx. 3/4 cup)
coconut for sprinkling (approx. 3/4 cup)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave chocolate and butter for 1 minute until melted. Mix together. In medium bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, cornstarch and salt. Beat until smooth. Blend into chocolate mixture. Gradually add milk and vanilla. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle with pecans and coconut. Bake 50-60 minutes. Check center with knife, it should be thick.
I had almost everything for the pie, except the German Chocolate and the deep dish pie crust. I had to "make do". So, you'll see in the recipe up above that I put some things in parentheses...that's where I changed things up a bit.
Here are some step by step instructions:
Melt the German chocolate (or chocolate chips, in my case) and butter together in microwave for about 1 minute, stir to combine.
Beat eggs with mixer; then add sugar, cornstarch and salt, beating until smooth.
Blend in the chocolate mixture.
Add in the evaporated milk and vanilla, combining thoroughly.
Next, you should pour the pie mixture into an unbaked deep dish pie crust. This is another place I deviated from the recipe. I made my own crust with crushed Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies and butter (about 30 cookies and 1/4 cup softened butter). I baked it for 10 minutes, then let it cool a bit. This was enough crust for a regular pie plate, but there was still left over pie mixture. After racking my brain for a few minutes, I finally decided just to put it in ramekins and bake it that way. Uh...YUM!
Once your pie filling is in the pie crust, sprinkle with pecans and coconut.
Only part of my family likes coconut, so I did a little 1/2 and 1/2 action on the pie.
For the ramekins, I was able to just sprinkle coconut on the individual cups. I only baked the ramekins for about 40 minutes.
So, I have now had Mrs. Ledbetter's Chocolate Pie in its original deep dish crust, in my Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookie crust and in a ramekin with no crust. And I love them all the same. It is just a deliciously rich and satisfying dessert that will make you smile, close your eyes and say, "Yum!"
Thank you, Mrs. Ledbetter, for this amazing pie. I don't know who you are, but you must be very special. Friends, thanks for sticking with me through all the substitutions! No matter how you choose to make this pie, your friends and family will love you for it. Just as, I'm sure, Mrs. Ledbetter's family feels about her. ;-)

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