Spring / Easter Decorating

Spring is kind of a weird time. If you are into sports there is March Madness, the beginning of baseball season, and the end of hockey season. For anyone that’s Irish (or likes Irish people or green or likes to drink) we have St. Patrick’s Day. And sometimes in March and sometimes in April we have Passover and Easter.

I have a couple of friends that are Jewish. Some years we get together for these holidays and celebrate Passover and Easter together. While the decorations for Passover are quite sparse Easter decorations can be really fun.  Here are a few I recommend:

  1. Carrot-theme vases – Take a large hurricane and put a smaller bud vase in the center. Put carrots around the outside and add flowers to the bud vase. Adding water to the entire thing is recommended to keep it looking fresh.
  2. Candy-theme vase – if you have children in your home this might be more fun for them. It’s the same concept only trade the carrots for colorful candy and add water ONLY to the bud vase. (full details at getcreativejuice.com)
  3. Colored Deviled Easter Eggs –  Why do they call these “deviled” eggs when they are mostly served at Easter? Isn’t that weird? Anyway, once your eggs have been hard boiled dip them in food-safe colored dyes, then make them up as usual.  It will add some fun color to your dinner table.
  4. Make a bunny Napkin – fold your napkins into cute little bunny shapes and place them on your dinner plates. Instructions are at drivenbydecor.com
  5. Shell tea lights – For this one you’re going to want to harden these shells a bit. The easiest way will be to take your shells (just shells after you’ve cracked an egg) and some white glue with food coloring added. Brush the glue onto the egg and let dry. Add several coats so it’s strong enough for a tea light to sit inside without breaking the shell. Once reinforced with another pretty colored “shell” place them in a tea light holder.  This one looks like an egg crate but yours doesn’t have to to look great. Carefully put tea lights in the center either turned on or then light. Now isn’t that a beautiful way to light up your room?



The “Instant Pot”

I saw one of these last year and put it on my Christmas list. Santa was kind and we got one. Not the name brand but this one from Best Buy that is their store brand but is the same type of thing.

Well, I can retire my old pressure cooker. Not that I use it but once in a blue moon. Nope not even that often. Still it is nice to have that feature if you need a ton of baked potatoes in a hurry or something.

The best feature I think is that I can get a slow cooker meal in less than slow cooker time. I LOVE slow cookers. We have – I think – 4 of them. A 4-quart, two 6-quarts, and an 8-quart. We mostly use the 6-quart but if we are doing a pot luck we may end up using 3 of the 4. They are great! We throw a bunch of stuff in them in the morning, close the lid and turn them on and by the end of the day a delicious meal is waiting for you. These were MADE for busy people with no time to make dinner.

But back to the quick-pot thing. Say I’m too busy in the morning or I forget to toss in my food and my crock-pot is empty that day. I come home and kids are expecting roast beef with vegetables for dinner. Are they getting mac and cheese instead? That depends – can they be a little bit patient? The instant pot can take my roast beef and veggies and have them ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Sweet! What if I remember and come home at lunch and toss in some chicken and the rest of my ingredients for cranberry chicken? (see below for recipe) Does my family have to wait until 7pm to eat my chicken safely? Nope. The instant pot can have it ready for you when you want it to – in 4 hours? 5? or 1.  I LOVE this thing.

It comes with a super-easy rice cooker that is so easy to make the best-tasting rice in and its dishwasher safe so clean-up is also a breeze. Hard-boiled eggs are done to perfection in about 5 minutes. I tell you – pick up one of these and you will love it!

There is a downside and for me it’s a biggie. I mentioned I have so many slow cookers and all the different sizes. When I cook I’m usually feeding either my own teenagers/ young adults + friends or I’m making a dish to share with my friends. In either case a 6-quart is just BARELY enough for a main dish. (Have you seen teenage boys eat? It’s like watching locusts!) I’d love to get an 8-quart version and they haven’t made one — or have they? Yes! Now I have a birthday present.

So now you know what I think about this gadget. If you have one let me know what you think. And here’s my recipe for cranberry chicken. Now, I’m giving you the EZ version that uses items found in your pantry and goes in one pot all together. It doesn’t look as pretty as others but still tastes great. If you want one that makes a true chutney then there is a great one here from the crockpot girls. It’s in a great cookbook they created along with over 500 other great crockpot recipes. Now that you know you can adapt these for a quick-pot you can also enjoy them in not-quite-an-instant!

Cranberry Chicken

Chicken Breasts – 40 oz bag
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 bottle western dressing
1 envelope onion soup mix

Rinse ice off chicken breasts and place in crock pot. Mix all other ingredients together and pour on top of chicken. Put lid on, turn crock pot on “low” or “auto” and in about 7 hours dinner is ready. (please make sure chicken is fully cooked according to your crock pot’s cooking schedule and instructions. I’d hate to have anyone get sick on yummy chicken.)

Making an Arbor

Arbors dress up your yard or garden so beautifully. Now you don’t have to have one that looks like the arbor at the Biltmore Estate:

This photo of Biltmore Estate is courtesy of TripAdvisor

There are  very simple arbors that can make a great difference and are really easy to make. This great arbor, shown by Better Homes & Gardens is very elegant and doesn’t take a lot of know-how. All you need is a well-equipped toolbox to bring it to life, including a circular saw or a small handsaw and miter box for making precise cuts.


This wooden arbor takes a few hours of labor and waiting overnight for the concrete posts to cure. It looks lovely and is easy enough a novice could take this one on. Visit The Spruce.com for full details.


This is an arbor my dad made and is a bit more advanced. He’s added an outdoor chandelier, hanging baskets on either side, a fountain on one side and a bench on the other. You can do this too if you have a little patience.


My dad has plans for every project in the world but it’s taken him most of his adult life to accumulate them. Today if I want to build something I’ll go into the home improvement store and pay $24.99 for 10 deck or 8 arbor and trellis plans. But I know a guy! He has created a plan book for every wooden project imaginable and the reason I love it is that it is idiot-proof. Because when it comes to projects I tend to be an idiot. I won’t understand why there has to be a hole at this end (or even if there IS a hole at this end) because the plans just don’t show it clearly. It’s very frustrating. Ted’s plans are extremely detailed with great graphics and step-by-step — and I mean that — instructions. So take a look for yourself and make an arbor for your garden.

I’d love to see the results when you’re finished. Please share them with me!