Easter Cross for the Front Door

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It’s finally spring here in Mississippi, and we’ve gone straight from snow and ice to tulips and perfect temps. With Easter around the corner, our naked front doors desperately need a fresh look for spring. Oxford has zero craft stores (or a Target! I know, how do we survive?) to browse for ideas, so I’m constantly on the lookout for inexpensive online decor and supplies. In my recent search, I found that Trendy Tree sells these fabulous moss-covered grapevine crosses in addition to many other wreath bases for nearly every occasion! The prices can’t be beat.

These crosses would be beautiful dressed up with spring florals and ribbon, but I decided to create a simple Easter front door this year. I’m even tempted to hang one over my dining room mirror for Easter lunch.

All you need is the grapevine cross, florist’s wire, wire cutters, ribbon and fishing line for hanging.

The cross comes in two pieces.
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Easily secure the two pieces with florist’s wire. I wrapped it a few times diagonally, going both directions, as shown below. Snip the excess wire once the cross is secure.
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Using this bow tutorial from On Sutton Place, I tied a pretty bow with spring ribbon and hot glued it to the very top of the cross.
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Simple and exactly what I was looking for to welcome our guests over the next several weeks leading up to Easter.
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Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy Weeknight Fancy Spaghetti

Simple spaghetti tends to be a go-to, weeknight dinner for most families, and if you are like me, spaghetti in the regular meal rotation starts to get intolerable boring. Easy weeknight spaghetti remains on our rotation because my all people will actually eat it, and any mother knows that is a feat in itself. Years ago, an Arkansas neighbor shared Taglierini Alla Chitarra with us, and this heavenly version of spaghetti has remained a weeknight and a “good-enough-for-company” favorite.

The star of this fancy weeknight spaghetti (Taglierini Alla Chitarra) is thinly sliced pancetta, aka Italian bacon. Pancetta is paper-thin meat in the deli section of your grocery store, sold prepackaged (vacuum-packed) or sliced fresh at the counter. If purchasing at the counter, ask the attendant to slice it as thinly as possible. Prosciutto can be substituted if Pancetta is not available. I do not recommend the prepackaged cubed version of either meat, as the taste/consistency is lacking.

Another note: Pecorino Romano from the deli may only come in portions larger than 3 oz, but you’re actually buying enough for a few meals if you freeze the unused cheese for later.

Taglierini Alla Chitarra/Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
7 oz Pancetta, cut into julienne strips (can substitute Prosciutto)
28 oz. can peeled, crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (can substitute 1/8 cup dried)
Ground black pepper
3 oz. Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (can substitute regular Romano)
Fresh Parmesan cheese wedge (topping)
Pasta-Barilla Spaghetti alla Chitarra or Angel Hair
Large saucepan with top

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and Pancetta and brown for 10 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, pepper and Pecorino. Simmer, covered, over very low heat for one hour.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Serve red sauce mixture over cooked pasta and sprinkle with *grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.

Freeze any leftovers you do not use.

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy Weeknight Fancy Spaghetti

*This Microplane Zester is the perfect kitchen tool for finely grated hard cheeses. Place on table for individual use.
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Printable Recipe

Linking to: Weekend Bloggy Reading

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cake

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With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cake is the perfect green treat!  This cake is much like a traditional chocolate chip pound cake but with a hint of pistachio and almond. The pistachio pudding mix gives the cake a green color, and the flavor is subtle and delicious! This recipe came from an Arkansas friend during our newlywed days, and the cake is always a hit wherever I take it!

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cake is super simple to throw together. Basically dump the ingredients, mix, and bake!

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cake

1 box Pillsbury white cake mix with “pudding in the mix”
1 box Pistachio pudding mix
1 t. almond extract
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
2 eggs
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Baker’s Joy baking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips with a mixer.  Stir in chocolate chips. Spray a bundt pan with Baker’s Joy and evenly pour in batter.

Bake 40 minutes.  Check to see if knife comes out clean and add a couple of minutes to bake time if needed.

Turn out onto a cake plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
Printable Recipe
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Linking to:
Tidy Mom, Weekend Bloggy Reading, The Freshman Cook, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Diana Rambles

Popcorn Wreath Tutorial

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Our baby turned 7 last week, and in lieu of a sleepover, we met in the middle and celebrated with a Popcorn and Pajamas birthday party. These adorable Popcorn Wreaths greeted our guests at the front door! We cloaked the wreaths in hot pink ribbons to match our party theme, but imagine how pretty these would be at Christmas with the addition of cranberries and Christmas ribbon! They’d also be terrific with traditional red, black, and white accents for a movie-themed birthday party!

The Popcorn Wreaths were very easy to make, and kids can help with assembly, too! We have double doors, making our project a bit time consuming, but one wreath did not take much time.  Here’s how we made these…

Popcorn Wreaths

Supply List: (makes one Popcorn Wreath)
1 sheet foam board (or large cardboard box)
Pencil
Electric Knife or X-acto knife
Popped popcorn (about 2 microwave bags or pop your own kernels)
Hot glue gun/glue sticks
Ribbon for hanging
Florist’s wire for hanging

First, trace a circle onto the foam board. Mine is about 16 inches.  Trace a smaller circle in the middle.  The small circle shown is about 6 1/4 inches.  If you have a very wide front door, you may want to enlarge these measurements.

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Cut out the wreath form.  My electric knife is as old as the hills and works like a dream for cutting foam board!  An X-acto knife works well, too, just be careful that you are working on top of a safe surface!
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Begin arranging the popped popcorn onto the foam board.  I found it was easiest to apply the hot glue to the foam board and then add the popcorn.  If there was an odd spot to fill, it was easier to apply the glue to the popcorn and stuff it into the spot.  Play around with it to see what works best for you!
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Below is the inside of the wreath where the foam board was showing more than I preferred.  We added a bit more to cover this area, and we added popcorn on top of popcorn to fill in spots elsewhere, making sure every inch was covered.
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Loop a wide ribbon around the wreath and add an extra bow to the top, if desired.  You can secure the bow to the wide ribbon using florist’s wire.  Create and secure a small loop of wire for hanging onto a nail or wreath hanger.
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Our Popcorn and Pajamas welcoming committee!
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The Popcorn and Pajamas party was a hit…here are a few pics from the party. Praise the Lord for my 13-year-old and her friends to help manage the chaos at the party!
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Popcorn and Pajamas Party
A precious cake from Lisa Whitehead in Oxford, MS.
Popcorn and Pajamas Party
Sweet girl loved every second of her party…
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These cute bags were 10 for $1 at the Dollar Tree!
Popcorn and Pajamas Party
These decorations would be perfect for any movie-themed party for a boy or a girl!

Have a great weekend!
Linking to:
Tidy Mom, Pin Junkie Pin Party