Thursday, December 6, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Advent Calendar

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND :-) Thanks everyone who's been requesting this one

Original Post: December 1, 2011

You've all probably heard a handful of people say comments like "Remember the Reason for the Season" or "Keep Christ in Christmas" or something along these lines.

As a mother now of two little ones I am raised with the responsibility of teaching my children the true beauty of this season and the amazing gift and sacrifice our Father in heaven has done for us. He gave his Son, his very own, so that we all could be saved. I'm sure for many of you, this doesn't come into true retrospect until you have children of your own, as it did for me.

Well, as you've been following my blog, you know that although my main purpose is to focus on food and DIY, I just can't help myself but let you in on my world and what goes on in this house.

I've been dying to have an Advent Calendar for years now, but whenever I muster up the excitement to go to the store to purchase one, I always leave empty handed because....seriously .... this girl ain't about to spend $30 on a little box Advent Calendar that I look at and say, "I could make that", when in reality I still haven't made one! But still...I COULD!

Any-who, my daughter is about to turn two and is really just at the beginning of the excitement for Christmas. I want to make sure she is filled with the joy of this season; Christmas music, presents, hot cocoa- even if we do have to crank up the air conditioner here in AZ just to put on comfy pj's and bundle up with a cup of hot cocoa! But at the very same time, I want to teach her the reasons we gift give and praise the Lord for his blessings upon us.

I decided, what better way to share the story of Christmas but through our Advent Calendar...that yes, I made, and am looking forward to making it year after year.

As a child I remember getting little chocolates each day we opened the door to our Advent Calendar. There really wasn't any meaning in the calendar, other than the fact that I got a piece of chocolate and we were one day closer to Christmas. But really I want to make it our tradition to have the story of the birth of Jesus Christ each day our children open up their little envelope...


In each envelope I included one to two verses from the bible along with a little piece of chocolate to enjoy. I decided to secretly hang all of the verses on my little tree to take a photo for everyone to see, before placing them in their envelopes sealed with a kiss! I absolutely love the way they turned out and can't wait for my husband to come home tonight for him and the kids to open Day 1's envelope!

Have you made your own Advent Calendar? If so post some pictures on my facebook. I can't wait to see them.

Below I've listed the verses that are included in each envelope. Enjoy!

Dec 1: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel - Isaiah 7:14

Dec 2: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from the old, from ancient times. - Micah 5:2

Dec 3: A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God" - Isaiah 40:3

Dec 4: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son - Hosea 11:1

Dec 5: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit - Matthew 1:18

Dec 6: But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit" - Matthew 1:20

Dec 7: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. -  Matthew 1:21

Dec 8: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel" - which means "God with us". - Matthew 1:22-23

Dec 9: When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. - Matthew 1: 24-25

Dec 10: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. - Luke 2:8-9

Dec 11: But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." - Luke 2:10

Dec 12: Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. - Luke 2:11

Dec 13: This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. - Luke 2:12

Dec 14: Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." - Luke 2:13-14

For Dec 15-Dec 24,  I continued with verses praising God's sweet love for us

Dec15: Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 5:1

Dec 16: God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

Dec 17: Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned." - John 5:24

Dec 18: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer - Romans 12:12

Dec 19: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit - Romans 15:13

Dec 20: The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. - Psalm 126:3

Dec 21: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! - Philippians 4:4

Dec 22: May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be exalted." - Psalm 70:4

Dec 23: Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! - Psalm 32: 11

Dec 24: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs. - Psalm 100: 1-2

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Phoenix Magazine - Reader's Choice Best Author Award

On Sunday as I was taking the kids into our church nursery, already a bit stressed about how the morning had gone (spending over 40 minutes trying to get my daughter to eat her breakfast, changing my son twice before loading both in the car, pouring my coffee and rushing off to church that is literally 2 minutes away that we always seem to be late for) when all of a sudden I was greeted with a smile from my daughters favorite nursery volunteer, David. (we tend to call him "favorite david")

David proceeds to say, "Hey I read about you in the Phoenix Magazine."

Looking around - "Who me?"

"Ya, in the Phoenix Best Of - you were named Best Author - Congratulations."

"WHAT???!!! Me?? HOLY SMOKES!! Really?? Are you sure?"

"Ya, you're Lora Roberts right? Just Kidding - no no, I know who you are, ya, you won best author. I saw it in the magazine"

Rushing off to the Lobby - Quickly calling my mom, "MOM! This guy at church just said he saw me in the Phoenix Magazine - QUICK - GO GET ONE!

Low and behold - Jaclyn Douma has won the 2012 Reader's Choice Award for Best Author in the Phoenix Magazine!!

Here is the direct link:

But quick - go grab yourself a copy - I'm on page 125!

Tell your friends too - you know cuz you know the "Best Author" and all.


Sugar Loco:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My daughter was born a baker...or maybe just a sugar-holic

My daughter is by far my most favorite little girl in the world! She has brought me ridiculous amounts of joy and laughter while challenging me every day to be a better person and mother. (i.e. driving me bonkers by making obscene request like her water not being cold enough or not giving her enough room on the couch....oh the joys...learning to be patient is an every day lesson....I'm learning...)

Well, lately I've been noticing more and more that this child is destined to be a baker! (That or have a personal baker that comes in every day and prepares anything her heart desires........kinda like a "mom")

 Whenever I bake I have always included her in every part of the process....even since she has just an infant...


....and I LOVE IT! She loves stirring the batter, rolling out the dough and on numerous occasions has come flying into the kitchen the moment she hears the electric mixer shut off!


(only joking......)

Well the inspiration of this blog was from a few little conversations I've had with little Miss Aliyah lately.

Conversation on Sunday:

Ali: Mama, I'm getting Hungry
Me: I brought you a banana...
Ali: I think I need some chocolate....

Photobucket Photobucket

Conversation Today:

Ali: Mama I'm getting hungry
Me: Well that's good, I'll make you lunch...
Ali (said in a very toddler type way): I DON'T WANT LUNCH - I want butter!


Between the Chocolate and the Butter you can see where one would reasonably assume that this child is destined to be a baker! 

I love you sweet Aliyah Joy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Throw-back Thursday: Three Little Pumpkins


First Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Woo-Hoo Wednesday: Three Little Pumpkins...


In light of the beautiful month of October, I would like to dedicate this months posts to all highlight a little bit of fall. You may be asking yourself, "but why was yesterday's post about measuring flour?" And I have the answer -- because I didn't realize it was October already! Remember the sleep deprivation?  So from here on out we'll be focusing on OCTOBER!!

I absolutely love the month of October. First off, it hosts one of my very favorite holidays, Halloween. But mostly because I get to start transforming the house to feel like fall. I say feel because really, here in Arizona we don't necessarily get the changing of the seasons....we get BLAZING HOT YOU THINK YOUR SKIN IS GOING TO MELT OFF....and then we get the most beautiful weather you can imagine. Which this morning, as I type today's post, I am enjoying the "beautiful" part. Our french doors are open, windows all cracked, letting in the cool breeze of fall.

I wanted to take a minute to talk about Three Little Pumpkins. Our home is actually covered in decorations from floor to ceiling, that i have been collecting since I was little. (I seriously had a shed that I purchased when I was about 16 to store all of my *future* home decorations...I know my dad LOVED that one). Anyways, since I do my best to focus on cost effectiveness; shopping the discount stores, decorating with family heirlooms and always walking to the sale section, I wanted to show you 10 different ways you could arrange a centerpiece using just Three Little Pumpkins and some common pieces you may have around your home. As you will see, I used the same three pumpkins, the same strip of material, and same table for each of the pictures. What's so great about these ideas is realistically, you could change up your decorations all throughout the month (and even into the month of November) for no extra spending. Change it up and your friends will notice it each time they come to your home or even just rearrange for yourself. It's so fun and will keep you smiling all day long with just a few bucks from the grocery store.


Using a green goblet that I have in my cupboard, I flipped it over and placed one pumpkin on the base of the cup. Then positioned the other two against the cup.


Using one of my very favorite glass bowls, I displayed the pumpkins bunched together. If you wanted to spend a few extra bucks, pick up some flowers and position them throughout the display. (That or "shop" your home, I'm sure you have some extra foliage that will make it look like you brought the outside, in)


If you take two glass bowls you can arrange your pumpkins in a number of ways, just have fun with it!


I absolutely love candles, especially right now with the glow of all of my autumn decor. Place a few votive candles along with your pumpkins to make a long centerpiece down a table, over a mantle or in your entry way.


By taking a few votive holders I was able to make a three piece centerpiece that I have fallen in love with! These cracked glass votives are at the top of my favorites list and can be found at pretty much any local craft store.


Pedestals are also some of the favorite pieces that I own. I then paired it with a rice filled vase and voila! Beautiful centerpiece once again.


I'm sure you've all seen hurricanes filled with pumpkins, squash or any other holiday decor. I think this would be so cute paired with little white pumpkins as well. But remember, we're sticking with the Three Little Pumpkins!


Decorating with dried beans, noodles and rice have become a new obsession of mine and I think they compliment the fall decor so nicely. Search your pantry for your favorite noodles and some rice and you'll be adding those little accents that everyone will be talking about.


If you have a small easel, decorating with plates is a great way to spruce up your kitchen table.


And last but not least: Decorating with OATMEAL! I love love love it! I'm thinking these might make it to the Thanksgiving table next month!

I hope I was able to give you a little inspiration for fall. Remember, it's ok to take some decorations down (pictures, figurines, etc) and put them in your closet for a few months. De-clutter and then Redecorate!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

Have y'all had or made the famous Oreo Truffles? So simple right?

Well, for those of you who haven't, here's the recipe, right on the Kraft website: Click HERE

Oreo, Cream Cheese, Chocolate Chips - Vwa-La - Oreo Truffle!
No baking, no cooling, just refrigerate and Enjoy!

Now, what if I told you they get better? And after I tell you how to make them better, I'll tell you they get ....E-V-E-N......B-E-T-T-E-R! Yep, true story.

Here's the better:

Did you know there are mint and peanut butter flavored Oreos?? Did you realize that if you substitute the regular Oreos in the recipe then you've got two new flavors?

Better right?

Ok, It get's better part:


There I said it. I said I'd show you something better - and I did! Wam-Bam-Thank You- Ma'am


Seek out the pink package. Follow the recipe for Oreo Truffles (found pretty much all over the internet). Then top with half a raspberry and Enjoy! Seriously, so delicious


** Note: For dipping chocolate I usually use chocolate chips with a little oil or use melting chocolates**

**Also, if you refrigerate the Oreo's and cream cheese mixture before dipping in chocolate they form into balls better when dipping in warmed chocolate**

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hey Jaclyn: Skillet Stew {By Karen}


 Guess what I cooked up tonight? It's a special "Karen Creation" & I call it Skillet Stew! It is the hubs FAVORITE meal. I can't remember exactly how I came up with it, but I've been making it since shortly after we got married. I know it started with a recipe for some kind of stew & I didn't have everything it needed so I improvised. Improvised meals are sometimes the BEST, don't you think?


The cool thing about this recipe is that it only takes 45 minutes or so & the most effort you put into it is to chop up some potatoes! It is such a hearty, relatively healthy & easy meal, but it will make the biggest meat lover HAPPY!

So here it is...


Karen's Skillet Stew

1lb ground beef
2 potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups Beef Broth
Frozen mixed veggies, no exact quantity, whatever your family likes and will eat
1 can creamed corn

Brown the ground beef, season with salt & pepper, garlic & cumin. Add potatoes & beef broth to skillet. Simmer 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Add frozen veggies and creamed corn. Heat on med-high until completely hot (to cook the veggies, since they're frozen & all, hah!)

That's it! My hubby loves this stew with corn bread or a nice French bread slice - so easy & delicious. Hearty, warm & cozy.

Have fun with it & I hope your reader's enjoy it too!


All About Karen

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Throw-Back Thursday: I just couldn't help myself


 First Published:Saturday, August 13th, 2011

I just couldn't help myself

I just couldn't help myself....but I baked a few more shortcakes this morning!!! So delicious. My excuse was that we were out of milk (1%) and THAT'S WHY I had to make something else for breakfast, rather than sipping down the usual Carnation Instant Breakfast.....But really I was craving the deliciousness of fruit accompanied by sweet biscuits and fluffy whipped cream.

We didn't have any strawberries this morning, so I opened up some peaches and vwa-la! Breakfast.....................................................and afternoon snack...............and possibly even before bed.

I think next time I want to heat up some berries to put over top; blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries....I think I'm salivating as I goodness

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Love Me Some Chips

I absolutely love love LOVE homemade tortilla chips. Especially flour tortilla chips. Seriously, you know how you can just sit there and munch munch munch on a bag of chips? Can you imagine how it is with homemade ones? WOWZA!


They really are simple to make. Scouts Honor. Here's How Simple:

Decide whether you'll be having flour or corn chips, or both like we do! Before slicing your tortillas go ahead and heat up some vegetable or canola oil in a pot. (Size pending how many chips you will be making). Vegetable oil will give you more crispness, canola oil will be slightly healthier and still give a great taste. (We usually use canola oil.) Fill pot about a 1/3 to 1/2 the way full. You want to make sure tortillas have enough room to "float" and crisp up, without touch bottom of pot.

While oil is heating, cut tortillas with large knife into "chip size." They can be triangles, rectangles, whatever fits your fancy.

OOOO...totally just had a great idea....if making for a fun occasion using a cookie cutter, like a star or heart....ooooo I so wanna do this!!! 


Once tortillas are cut, sample oil to see if it is hot enough. Take one cut tortilla and dip into oil just slightly. If it starts to bubble than you're good-to-go.


Toss in about 6-10 sliced tortillas (depending on size of pot). Using a large metal spatula with holes, I use my "Skimmer" you can flip the tortillas as they become crisp. Chips take about 60-80 seconds to crisp.

Remove from oil and place on a plate with paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and try to resist until they cool!

Serve with your fav salsa....Mmm....Mmm...Mmm!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hey Jaclyn: Old Fashioned Pancakes {By Karen}


Guess what my HUBBY cooked up this morning? Pancakes...from SCRATCH! He really is the best husband in the entire world (in my opinion anyways) & let me sleep in this morning. I was woken up to a kiss & a "Honey, I made pancakes."

This made me wonder because I knew we were out of Bisquick...Hah!


When I finally hauled myself from the bed I was really curious just how he'd made pancakes. This awesome husband of mine GOOGLE'D "pancakes" (duh?? LOL) & found this recipe for

"Good Old Fashioned Pancakes" on


Now, the hubs is a little different from me when it comes to trying a new recipe for the first time. When I try a new recipe, I like to follow the recipe to the letter and if I like it, I'll change it up a bit, personalize it if you will, the next time around.  Not my husband. No, he gets a recipe & is like "I want to do things MY WAY!" right from the get-go. Drives me insane! But, this time, his little changes worked so well - these pancakes were perfect!

Here's the link to the recipe...


Hubby added:

-an extra egg
-an extra half tablespoon of sugar
-a splash of vanilla

Am I the luckiest lady ever?? Not only is my husband thoughtful & caring but he's also a great cook! (like me! HA!)....

All About Karen 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Throw-Back Thursday: Chicken Cacci-what?


First Published: Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Wrap: Chicken Cacci-what?

Chicken Cacciatore --- what is it?

For some reason, I was caught up on the fact that Chicken Cacciatore was a dish made with a red sauce, but then mixed with green olives and some sort of peppers, along with chicken. Do not ask me where I dreamed that up from. So any time I ever saw the name of this recipe I always flipped on to the next page in the cookbook, as I knew my husband would freak out not care for this if it was served for dinner.

A few weeks ago, I'm not sure how it was brought up in topic, but I remember my mom saying, "Why not make Chicken Cacciatore?" I looked at her in disbelief that she thought I would make that for the family. She then proceeded to say that she use to make it all the time and that my brother loves it.

No recollection here?

I tried explaining this dish that I had apparently dreamed up and she said all she would do is throw spaghetti sauce and chicken in a crock pot and it made an amazing dinner.

Which brings me back to my first question: What is Chicken Cacciatore?

According to Wikipedia, Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian. When referring it to a cooking style it means that you cook it "hunting style"; with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, herbs and mushrooms. (Apparently I wasn't so off base with my dreamed up Chicken Cacciatore now was I?)

I then skimmed through a Google search of Chicken Cacciatore and not one recipe was alike. All made with different ingredients, looking amazing in their own unique ways. (I love recipes! They are so based on ones interpretation of a meal).

Well, I went ahead and made OUR VERSION of Chicken Cacciatore and let me tell you, WE ARE HOOKED! I am so in love with this meal.

And guess what?  I'm even sharing my recipe! Can you believe that?

Little insider tip to our new guilty pleasure. My husband and I took the chicken cooked in tomato sauce, scooped it on to pieces of crispy garlic bread, topped it with mozzarella cheese, and sunk our teeth into the savory flavors of each amazing bite. You seriously need to try this!


Chicken Cacciatore:

3 cans tomato sauce (15 oz. cans)
2 cans tomato paste (6 oz. cans)
1 Tablespoon Garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Seasoning Salt
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
2 teaspoons Roasted Garlic
3-4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Mix all ingredients, excluding chicken, in a medium sized Crock Pot. Once well blended, add Chicken. Cook on high for about 4 hours or until chicken can easily pull apart.

Serve over Rigatoni or Spaghetti Noodles. Or like mentioned previously, try the amazing version of Chicken Cacciatore Cheese Bread! YUM

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

St. Louis Butter Cake

A few weeks ago a girlfriend of mine and I were chatting about an upcoming dinner we were planning. Her husband loves loves loves chili & corn bread, and then to come to find out this "non-dessert-craving-man" ("is there really such a thing" you may be asking yourself - yes, yes...there is such a thing of a man.....or dare I say woman....not being a sweet fanatic like myself), well, come to find out he actually really really enjoys Red Velvet Cake. which happens to be one of my favorites too!

So here we were, planning a fabulous meal for her hubby, and mine as well, since he's a big fan of my chili recipe too and then all of a sudden we go off on a tangent about another dessert.

(Like how I say, "all of a sudden", like ME trailing off onto another subject is uncommon...hah!)

We get on the topic of Butter Cake! Now I have never experienced butter cake, only once had I even heard of it and that was on....oh whats the show called....come on you "so called" sweet lover.... oh yes, Cooking Channels Unique Sweets.

She goes on to tell me that one of our local restaurants has this "Butter Cake" that she is absolutely in love with.....craving, dreaming, gotta-have-it type of dessert....She even said she tries her best to offer some OBVIOUS hints to her hubs to pick a slice up for her on his way home from work....(her "hints" rarely work though....)


So in the midst of planning our husbands "dream dinner" I decided I would surprise my dear friend with her very own WHOLE butter cake....way more than anyone would ever need to oneself, but all the while fulfilling all fantasy's of this dreamy delight!

Never eating or making a butter cake before I searched the web for the best foodie blogs around and came across Smitten Kitchen.  I instantly fell in love with her tone of voice in her posts and her photography made my heart smile :-)


Her recipe for St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake seemed sure to satisfy and oh boy did it! My girlfriend was shocked as I brought over an entire tray, but welcomed it with open arms and fork in hand! I loved that while she was saying, "Seriously, you didn't have to bring this over" .....she grabs a plate for herself...hah! Love Her!

I encourage you to take an afternoon, scroll through Smitten Kitchen's pics and whip up her recipe for Butter Cake. Her recipe can be found HERE.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hey Jaclyn: Chocolate Banana Pudding {By Karen}


Guess what I made up tonight? It's a chocolate banana pudding! Umm...can you say indulgent? It is loosely based on Paula Deen's recipe for "not yo' mama's banana pudding"


 I say  loosely based because I used store brand vanilla wafers, chocolate pudding & I ended up not having enough whipped cream, hah! My girlfriend brought over dessert last week and it was her version of Paula Deen's banana pudding...with coconut & pineapple for a tropical flavor. Coconut & pineapple are not really my favorite things so I went back to the original recipe & put my own spin on it. It is deeeee-licious lady!


So the link for the original banana recipe is above. Here are my changes...

-Vanilla wafer cookies to line the bottom of the dish
-Chocolate pudding mix (15 oz package)
-8 oz container of Cool Whip (instead of the 12 it calls for)
-Chocolate syrup drizzled over the top


 All About Karen

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sugar Loco Alert!

Attention! Attention!
Plenty of new DESSERT REVIEWS for you to take a look at on Sugar Loco!

Y'all know my passion for sweets and how awesome is it that I get to taste, sample and devour them as part of my career - pretty "sweet" right?

Stroll on over to Sugar Loco to check out some of my recent reviews like these:

Sweet Spot: True Food Kitchen 
Dessert: Lemon Tart 


Sweet Spot: Perk Eatery 
Dessert: Honey Spiced Cake 


Sweet Spot: Tommy Bahama's 
Dessert: Key Lime Pie 


Sweet Spot: Royal Street Cafe 
Dessert: Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream


Sweet Spot: Postino's 
Dessert: Salted Pretzel Sundae
Link: {soon to be posted}


Sweet Spot: Churn 
Dessert: Homemade Ice Cream  (and ice cream sandwiches)
Link: {soon to be posted}


Sweet Spot: Honeymoon Sweets 
Dessert: Peach Cobbler 


Sweet Spot: RA 
Dessert: Tempura Fried Cinnamon Gelato


Sweet Spot: Ocean Prime 
Dessert: 10 Layer Carrot Cake 

Sweet Spot: North Fattoria Italiana
Dessert: Affogato

 Like what you see? Follow SUGAR LOCO and ME too :-) 

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