A Little Country

Finding inspiration and passing it on

Garlic Lemon Salmon — February 20, 2015

Garlic Lemon Salmon

This is one of my favorite ways to cook salmon (or chicken).  As always, a meal that can be prepped in a few minutes is easily put on my favorites list.  One thing that makes this great is the top gets slightly crispy.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • Spray baking pan with a non-stick spray and place the salmon on the pan skin side down.
  • Drizzle olive oil on top of the meat.
  • Season with lemon pepper and Johnny’s Garlic Salt.

Cooking time varies depending on the size of the meat and if it is frozen or thawed but the internal temperature needs to reach 145 degrees.

Salmon Recipe

Bakery Worthy Cupcakes (from a box) — January 17, 2015

Bakery Worthy Cupcakes (from a box)



I guess you could say that I am somewhat of a cake snob.   I like to limit myself on sugar so I need to save my dessert eating for things that taste great.  If it isn’t amazing, I don’t waste my time!  Generic store bought cake and frosting has never been appealing to me.  I blame it on my grandma’s cooking.  She owned a hot springs resort with a restaurant and let’s just say, the lady knew her way around the kitchen.  She ruined me for anything other than quality food.

Of course, we don’t all have time to whip up a batch of homemade cake batter when we want to bake something so  I’m sharing with you a few tricks to making bakery style cupcakes from a box.


Start by preheating your oven to 325 (not 350).

Look on the back of the cake mix box.

Add one more egg than the mix recommends.

Substitute the oil for butter (and double it).

Optional- use milk instead of water.

Use parchment cupcake liners and fill them 3/4 full of the batter.

Cook for 3 extra minutes to adjust for lower cooking temp.

kellyneil.com 2011
Image from KellyNeil.com

The cupcakes come out of the oven more full and tasting heavenly.  Don’t be surprised when you get tons of compliments!

DSC_0133I made a whipped chocolate frosting to top them off.  I will be posting the recipe later today!



20 Slow Cooker Recipes That You Will Never Want To Live Without — January 9, 2015

20 Slow Cooker Recipes That You Will Never Want To Live Without


When the days are short and the nights are cold, there is no better time to pull out the slow cooker. Crock pot recipes are the ideal plan when it’s cold and dreary outside… I use mine all year long but cold weather is a good excuse.  When I was younger, my mother always had the slow cooker steaming up something yummy on the counter top.  Thankfully, this little tradition has never gone out of style.  With more homes that have two working parents, this style of cooking has become more popular than ever before.

Not only do we love the soul food that our slow cooker delivers, but we also love the effortless factor.  You prep the ingredients in the morning, set them in your slow cooker and let it do all the cooking.  Dinner will be ready and waiting for you when you get home from work.  This little tool comes in especially handy when you are throwing a party or hosting a family dinner… put the food in the slow cooker, tidy up the kitchen, and walk away.  It is like having an extra person on your team, giving you time to do other things.

When most people think of slow cookers, they think of slow cooked meat.  Your slow cooker isn’t just for pulled pork, friends!  It is perfect for cooking up soups, chili, mac and cheese, or mashed potatoes.  Did you know that you can even use it to make dulce de leche or apple cider…?  Seriously!?  Win!  It is an  easy and effective way to draw out flavors and produce effortlessly amazing meals, desserts and drinks.  Let’s get started!

Sunday Gravy

Get the Sunday Gravy Recipe via New Media Publishing

New Media Publishing

Slow Cooker Turkey Taco Chili

Get the Slow Cooker Turkey Taco Chili recipe via Gimme Some Oven

Gimme Some Oven

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup 

Get the Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup Recipe via Fox Loves Lemons Food52


Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Get the Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches recipe via Recipe Girl

Recipe Girl

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

Get the Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers recipe via No. 2 Pencil

No. 2 Pencil
No. 2 Pencil

Slow Cooker Spiced Applesauce

Get the Slow Cooker Spiced Applesauce recipe via Simply Delicious

Simply Delicious
Simply Delicious

Brie and Brisket Quesadillas

Get the Brie and Brisket Quesadilla recipe via Confections of a Foodie Bride

Confections of a Foodie Bride
Confections of a Foodie Bride

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Get the Slow Cooker Lasagna recipe via Recipe Girl

Recipe Girl
Recipe Girl

Slow Cooker Coconut Hot Chocolate

Get the Slow Cooker Coconut Hot Chocolate recipe via How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is
How Sweet It Is

Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Get the Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe via Damn Delicious

Damn Delicious
Damn Delicious

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

Get the Slow Cooked Beef Ragu recipe via Little Leopard Book


Slow Cooker Chex Mix

Get the Slow Cooker Chex Mix recipe via Gimme Some Oven

Gimme Some Oven
Gimme Some Oven

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki

Get the Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki recipe via Cooking Classy

Cooking Classy
Cooking Classy

Chicken Taco Chili

Get the Chicken Taco Chili recipe via Comfort of Cooking

Comfort of Cooking
Comfort of Cooking

Beer Chicken Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

Get the Beer Chick Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw recipe via The Beeroness

The Beeroness
The Beeroness

French Onion Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Get the French Onion Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe via Real Mom Kitchen

Real Mom Kitchen
Real Mom Kitchen

Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans

Get Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans recipe via Simply Recipes

Simply Recipes
Simply Recipes

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Nachos

Get the Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Nachos recipe via Bev Cooks

Bev Cooks

Ginger Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes

Get the Ginger Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes recipe via The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Italian Turkey Meatballs

Get the Italian Turkey Meatballs recipe via Skinny Taste

Skinny Taste
Skinny Taste


Heart Plushie — January 4, 2015

Heart Plushie


Now that my Christmas decorations are tucked away for the year I can start working on the next project.  My sister sent me the cutest felt ornaments for Christmas and it inspired me to break out my needle and thread.  I love little hand sewing projects so I started this one this morning.  It only took me about an hour to complete.  This is my last day of vacation before going back to work so I am taking full advantage of my time.  I’m curious to see how many of these I can make today!

I started by cutting the felt into two red heart shapes (front & back) and cutting one smaller white heart for the center.  Using thick embroidering thread stitch around the outside of one of the large red hearts (this will be the front).


Next, place the small while heart front and center and use pins to keep it in place.  I forgot to pin it in place when I first started and it didn’t work out for me too well.  It wasn’t centered at all and I ended up ripping out the stitches and starting again.  Sew the white heart onto the red heart using a basic blanket stitch (here are the instructions) making sure that each stitch was about the same distance apart for uniformity.  I used red thread to tie it in with its frame but you can get creative with your colors. I will be trying black on my next one!


When I finished attaching the small heart to the front, I put it together with the back piece (face side up) and blanket stitched around the outside, connecting the two large red hearts.


Stitch all the way around the outside, leaving a one inch opening to add the stuffing.  Fill the inside with the desired amount of pillow stuffing.  After you have as much filling as you want, continue stitching the rest of the way.



Comment if you have any questions.  What felt projects have you done lately?

New Year’s Party Ideas — December 31, 2014

New Year’s Party Ideas

new9 With 2015 coming up here in a couple of hours, it is time to start putting the finishing touches on your New Year’s Eve party.  Here are a few simple ideas to add a little something extra to ring in the New Year. new5 Fill a jar with Hershey Kisses for appropriate Midnight Kisses {Thehousehunt.com}


 Print off these Fun Photo Booth Props from Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke new3 Tape clear balloons to a wall next to the drink table for a bubbly effect from Babble.com  new2 Add some glitter to your sparkling cider or wine bottles for a little extra pizzazz {househunt.com} new1 Put together these cute New Year’s Eve shakers to help make extra noise when the clock strikes 12! From RIBBONS AND GLUE Now that we have so many fun ideas, lets get started shall we? Happy New Year!

Home School Resources- Winter Solstice Video — December 21, 2014

Home School Resources- Winter Solstice Video

Now that my kids study through a virtual academy, I don’t have to plan their curriculum.  This little transition freed up eons of time in my day and relieved my fears of not keeping my kids education up to state standards.  There are some parents that rock the home school world, going above and beyond in planning curriculum and activities (my sister being one of them).  She also finds time for all of the fun stuff, like cool science experiments and sewing lessons.  When I first started home schooling, I also planned my own curriculum.  I dedicated my Sundays to writing out the weekly plan, grading papers, and planning all of the activities that went along will the lessons in each subject.  I would survive my week, hoping that I got it all right, not missing anything.  By the end of each week, my doubt would always get the best of me.  Did I forget something?  Am I even qualified to teach?  What am I missing?  I could use a lesson in grammar myself… and I’m teaching it?  I tend to be an over thinker.  If you ever think that Teachers have it easy… you probably haven’t put clear thought into the matter.  It takes the dedication and patience of a saint.  With all of my doubts getting the best of me, I turned to an on-line virtual academy.  The kids each have multiple teachers and the school sends all of the curriculum as well as setting up the daily/weekly plans.  Relief!  With the school in charge of the curriculum, I get to be in charge of the fun stuff.  Planning field trips, sewing projects, tinkering, music lessons, and adding extra worksheets and videos wherever I see fit.

Before we start our Christmas break, I like to add a few winter solstice activites into the mix.  We ran out of time due to Semester and State testing so we will take a few minutes to get it done today.

Neok12 has an abundance of teacher resources and the membership is free (you don’t have to be a member to use it).  The kids also enjoy the on-line quiz games to go along with it.  To access the video, click the image and it will bring you to a short video and the quiz games.


A Gift for the Neighbors — December 20, 2014

A Gift for the Neighbors


Part of our Christmas tradition, from as far back as I can remember, is making treats to give to the neighbors. When we were younger, my grandma used to host a cooking day to teach my sisters and I how to make her favorite traditional recipes.  We each took favorites of our own, mine being iced almonds and buckeyes (chocolate covered peanut butter balls) that I have made every year since then.  By the end of our cookie day, we would divide the cookies onto decorated platters and get them ready for giving away. Tis the season for giving.  Besides, how else can you justify making that many goodies?  Even though I’m in a different house than the one I grew up in, I still bring treats to my childhood neighbors.  Our little delivery has gone on so long, I’m sure they would notice if  we didn’t show up.  As our packaging has come a long way since then, not much else has changed (and despite what my kids say, I’m not talking about the age of the dinosaurs).

Here are a few more ideas of gifts to give to your neighbors.   Check out the links below .


neighbor collage

Shake & Pour Pancakes  {Tater Tots & Jello}

Elf Mason Jar Gift {Polka Dot Chair}

Peppermint Marshmallows {Betty Crocker}

Soapin You Have A Merry Christmas {All Things Thrifty}

Candy Cane Popcorn {The Girl Who Ate Everything}

Candy Covered Pretzels {The Everyday Home}

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls — December 16, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls



For the love of all things peanut butter! I find these little things to be a bit hard to resist.  I am better off if I give them away as soon as I make them, or I will likely eat them all!  I have been making these since I was little and now I get to teach my kids this sweet little tradition.  You can find the recipe card at the bottom of the post. I bet you will love them!

christmaspb5pic christmaspb9pic


You can print the recipe below by right clicking on it. Click ‘save as’ and then print.  If you make these please share your photos and let me know what you think!



Keep your Sanity During the Holidays — December 12, 2014

Keep your Sanity During the Holidays


During the holiday season my stress level sky-rockets. I am intrigued by the moms that don’t seemed to be phased by the hustle and bustle of the season. Or jealous to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas IS my favorite time of the year, but staying sane and keeping a smile on my face takes strategy. Decorating, shopping, wrapping, party planning, cooking, baking, Christmas cards, school concerts, recitals, holiday crafts for the kids, sewing projects, curriculum, moving the Elf every night. Is your head spinning yet? It’s a wonder how some of us survive the holidays! ‘Tis the season for tension headaches and panic attacks. Fa la la la lalalalala.

My (survival strategy) has become as much of a holiday routine for me as hanging lights. I have a history of panic disorder so I have to be ever so careful trying to act the part of super mom. Here are a few things that help me get through my holiday in one piece (and with my hair done)!


Write it down-Make a list of what you are going to do today. Then, make a list of what you are not doing today. It sound a little crazy, but looking at all of the things that you need to accomplish and being realistic about what you can actually do in one day is pretty powerful.

Get organized- Write down all of your holiday events on a calendar. Make a list of who and what you are shopping for. If you have a clear view of what you are doing, you will be less likely to run around in circles and loose valuable time.

Ask for help- Even Santa can’t move mountains of toys without his elves, so why should you?  It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our lists of things to do that we neglect to see all of the potential help around us. Family members, in-laws, neighbors. If your kids are old enough to wrap or decorate, ask them to help. They are pretty clever little minds.

Be realistic- Martha Stewart is definitely an inspiration but by no means do we have to keep up with her (or any of the other Martha Stewart types that we know). I am not good at everything, I will only focus on the things I know that I can do. Keep the expectations of yourself simple.

Take a hot bathA hot bath and a glass of wine does wonders. Add 1 cup of epsom salt to your bath and stay in it for at least 20 minutes.  It literally melts the tension right off!  During the last two weeks of December, this is a nightly thing for me.  Sometimes, I am so stressed that I have a hard time talking myself into sitting long enough to take a bath.  I force myself because it helps me to feel normal again.

Don’t drink to much- Limit how much you drink at holiday parties.  A hung-over mind is not productive.  Besides, alcohol causes depression, depression causes anxiety and anxiety causes drinking. Haha. Sounds like a vicious cycle.  All things in moderation, right?

Know when to say no- You don’t have to attend every event that you are invited to.  We end up running out of time if we aren’t careful. Choose your battles.

Take a break every day-  Designate a time each day to do nothing. Take a nap, have a cup of tea, walk around the neighborhood, take a drive. It’s important to relax your mind. We are more creative when we relax. And we are better mommies when we get a minute to ourselves.

Stress free dinners- Give yourself permission to NOT cook dinner every night. If you like to make meals ahead of time, now would be a great time to pull dinner out of the freezer. Or call pizza delivery! Even better yet, make sandwiches. Haha!


And here is a little extra holiday encouragement. These ladies make me smile. I’m sure, if you are reading this post, you can probably relate to this video. So funny!

Printable Advent Countdown — December 10, 2014

Printable Advent Countdown


I’m a little late in sharing this advent countdown but it’s better late than never. My kids don’t believe in Santa anymore so we have replaced the Santa tradition with a countdown to Christmas. They have been enjoying the daily surprises and best of all, it is a great way to make sure that we pack in all of the holiday activities. I purchased the advent box at a craft store. I was trying to find the time to make my own but that didn’t happen. Running out of time seems to happen quite a bit around here.


I thought that it would be a great idea to add bible verses to go along with the daily activity. Instead of coming up with my own verses, I found a list of  on The 36th Avenue.  Talk about a time saver.  Thank goodness for other crafty people!  I had a bit of fun pairing the verses with fun activities that we love to do during the holiday season.  The squares happened to be the perfect size to paste the days activity on the inside of each door.  I stuffed the small boxes with a variety of my kids favorite Christmas candies.  The kids each get one per day. The best part about this project is that when we are done with it, I will pack it away for next year. I will only need to add candy.


Download your free Christmas Countdown Calendar and feel free to share the link with other friends and family.

Instructions for downloading: Click on the link above. You will be directed to the pdf in Dropbox. From there, you should be able to download the Countdown Calendar. It is designed to be printed on a full page. Or you can also right click on the image below and click ‘Save As’.


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