Archive of ‘Recipe’ category

Homemade Playdough Fun!

Okay… So this summer we’ve done a lot of the usual summer fun activities…

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

But when a friend came and stayed a few days, we decided to make play-dough.  Because let’s be honest… It takes a lot of muscles to make play-dough! Ha!  Between the two of us, we stirred up the play-dough completely painless!


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www. DIYinReallife.comSince Emma’s finally to the age where I don’t think she’ll EAT the play-dough, we went for it!





Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.


*4 c. flour

*1 c. salt

*4 c. water

*4 Tbsp. coconut oil  (I just want to note how good this smells!)

*4 Tbsp. cream of tartar

*Essential oils of choice

*Food coloring


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

First we threw all the ingredients in a saucepan other than the essential oils and food coloring.  We put the heat on low and stirred the entire time.


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www. Don’t try to multi-task here, momma.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of multi-tasking.  Just not when making play-dough.  Keep stirring.  Don’t stop.  Even when your arm feels like it’s going to fall off.  Many thanks to Sylvia here for taking the brunt of the stirring!! 🙂


Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

Once it looks like… Well… Playdough? Yeah… When it looks like playdough, you’re done stirring!

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

I divided it into 3 sections and rolled them into balls.  Then I used my thumb to make a large dent in each one.  That’s where I dropped food coloring and my Young Living essential oils.

Green = Peppermint

Yellow = Lemon

Blue = Thieves

(I would have used red for Thieves but I didn’t have any red food coloring.  Oh well. 🙂 )

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

Then we kneaded and kneaded the play-dough adding more coloring and scent until we were happy with how it looked and smelled.

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www.

I loved how the essential oils made it smell and Thieves for instance is good for supporting the immune system.  So it can’t hurt having it in there to keep her healthy immune system strong!  This recipe can easily be made without essential oils if you don’t have any, of course! 🙂

Homemade Playdough using Essential Oils at www. DIYinReallife.comEmma has been having a complete blast with this stuff!  FUN!


5 Simple Daily Routines…

Five simple routines that help me keep my sanity!

So… I was down at Emily’s (You know, my awesome friend Emily? We did this project and this project.)


Well Emily has this knack for asking questions that really make me think.  Last time I was there, she asked what were some of my “routines.”  Things that I generally do in my day to make things go smoother and things that generally contribute to a better and happier frame of mind! 🙂


She also sent me an article to read at about the same time… 15 Tips for the Highly Sensitive Parent.  I read it and several things struck me.

Go read it!!!!! 15 Tips for the Highly Sensitive Parent.

You see… I’m a pretty extreme introvert. (Interestingly the writer is an extrovert, but I still found many useful things to implement)  I need a bit of quiet time. Overload things too much and…. Oof!  It’s rough on me.


If Emma’s had a bad day and has been excessively loud and angry…

The trash is full of stinky diapers and banana peels and the invasion of the fruit flies has hit in full force…

I just find myself getting upset at… Well… Pretty much anything.  And I don’t want to be that wife and mom for Emma or when Handsome Man gets home from work.


So here are a few simple things that keep me in a better frame of mind throughout the day.  Some of these things are pretty no-brainer, and some won’t work for everyone, but it sure helps me! (The following in no particular order! 🙂 )

Flavored water at

1. Make a pitcher of flavored water.

It’s summertime, so with it comes all the delicious additions I don’t normally have or get. Also, I find that I’m better about drinking water when I have a delicious pitcher of goodness in the fridge.


So far, my favorite concoctions have been:

*Sliced strawberries, fresh basil, a bit of Truvia, and a few lemon stevia drops.

*A squeezed lemon, some fresh ginger root that I squeeze through the garlic press, a bit of Truvia, and a few lemon stevia drops.

*2 squeezed limes, fresh mint, a bit of Truvia, and a few peppermint stevia drops.

*Sliced cucumbers and raspberries

And today I sliced a white peach and a handful of bing cherries… We’ll see how that one tastes shortly!! 🙂

I’ve started THM (Trim Healthy Mama) the first diet I’ve actually liked.  I mean really? A diet in which you are never hungry, eat most things you like, AND you loose weight?  I’ll have it!!! Anyway… By using Truvia and Stevia in the water, I can drink lots of it all day long and it doesn’t spike my blood sugar at all!  But you could easily add just a wee bit of sugar to give it that extra sweetness!  Mmmmmm!  I love that such a small thing like taking 5 minutes to makes lightly flavored water totally makes my day a little brighter! 🙂

Revive Our Hearts Podcast

2. Listen to an Encouraging Podcast.

My friend, Grace came for a visit (See? I have so many inspiring friends!)  and she was telling me about how much she enjoys podcasts.  Revive Our Hearts podcast in particular.  So right away I downloaded the  Podcasts app on my iPhone and added Revive Our Hearts.  Every day it automatically downloads the daily podcast.  They are only 20-30 minutes long and sooooooo good!  Today I put Emma down for her morning nap, got it playing on my phone and stuck it in my pocket. I listened to it as I put dishes in the dishwasher, threw a load of laundry in the washer, and swept the floor.  It’s so good and those days when I find it hard to get into the Word, I feel like I’m still getting some encouragement!  Last week, they had several days on contentment…  I love the real life application and how it ministers to my stage of life!

Master's Hand Candles @

3. Light a candle. 

I pretty much light a candle every single day.  If you don’t do candles, do something!  Even if dishes aren’t done and toys are strewn everywhere, if it at least smells good, my frame of mind stays so much better!

4. Go outside for a bit. 

I’ve been trying to hang out on the porch for a bit everyday. Handsome Man built a porch gate, so it’s nice to take Emma out there to play and not be constantly getting up to carry her back up the stairs she has descended in order to stuff her mouth full of potting soil! Ha! I love my outside time most days.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Shortbread Crust – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

A total favorite!!

Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Shortbread Crust recipe from All Day I Dream About Food. 

5. Always have snacks.

Preferably sweets! haha!  As I mentioned before, I am doing THM, so a private Twix bar stash is out.  But I can have lots of other sweets.  Skinny Chocolate made with truvia… Berry Whips made with stevia… Even Lemon Cheesecake! And if I don’t have anything on hand? Life is sad! lol!  Making time to make sure I have tasty sweets is vital! lol!

Other than those few routines, every day is different! Some days I feel like I have it all together and some days I totally don’t.  But I do find that if I do a few simple things, my frame of mind stays so much happier! 🙂


Five simple routines that help me keep my sanity!

Non-alcoholic Mojito Mocktail Recipe

Like I said before…

This is less of a Non-alcoholic Mojito and more of a Mint Limeade.  I just feel so much cooler saying the first one.  😉


Whatever the case, this is delicious and super refreshing!


Mojito Mocktail

Serves 4



1 lime
2 tbsp sugar
1 can sprite
4 c. Water
Crushed mint

Quarter the lime, squeeze the juice into a pitcher and drop each quarter into a glass.  (Yes, it’s just for looks. 😉 )

Add the sugar, sprite, and water. Stir.  (You could also eliminate the sprite and water and just use club soda.  This is just what we had on hand.)

Add a sprig of crushed mint into each glass along with the limes.  As to the crushed mint…  Ideally you’d use a mortar and pestle I suppose, but we didn’t have one.  We just used a cutting board and a rolling pin.  Anything to get it crushed to get the flavor out.  Word to the wise: Don’t chop it into little pieces.  Tried that.  Once. 😉 )

Add ice to glasses and fill with drinks.

For best results, serve with a striped straw.  ENJOY!


This goes good with the Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce on pasta.  I happen to know that first-hand.  😉


Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce Recipe

Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce by


I’m back with today’s edition of Cooking with Nicole in Real Life… 😉 lol!


As promised here’s one of the things I did with the Summertime Basil Pesto I made a few days ago.  This. Was. Delicious.

As a disclaimer though, Handsome Man’s words were, “I’m sure it’ll be good, but it looks like puke.”

Thanks Hon.




On to the good stuff!


Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce



4 Tbsp. fresh pesto

4 diced tomatoes

1 clove minced fresh garlic

1/4 c. milk

1 jar alfredo sauce


Simmer diced tomatoes, pesto, and garlic on stovetop on medium heat for 10 minutes or so.  Add alfredo sauce (homemade alfredo sauce would be even better, I’m sure… But I was lacking both the supplies and the patience. 😉 )   I used the 1/4 milk to put in the alfredo jar and shake to get as much sauce out as possible.   Resume simmering and serve on pasta.


I sautéed mushrooms and threw those on top but next time I want to add shrimp or sea food of some sort on it. Deliciousness!!!


So there you go!  Just one way I’ve used the pesto this week besides dipping bread in it.  My hips are going to hate me for all the carbs this week! Haha!


Stay tuned for the recipe for Non-alcoholic Mojitos next!  Okay, okay…. So it’s more like Mint Limeade… I just feel cooler using the first term.  😉


Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce by

Summertime Basil Pesto Recipe…

Summertime Basil Pesto Recipe by


Okay…. After these next couple posts, you’re going to think I’m turning into a food blogger.


Stop laughing.


I can cook!  Kinda.



ANYWAY….   *cough cough*


With the whole post-partum recovery thing, projects aren’t as easy to complete…

And now that my stomach isn’t wrestling a small human for space and loosing, I can eat regular helpings of food again!  It’s awesome.  😉


(Don’t even let me get started talking about having my bladder back! 😉 lol!)



Okay!  On to food!


While recovering, I didn’t really go outside.  At all.  So my tiny little basil plants became enormous, full basil plants by the time I went out again.

I was suuuuuuper excited.  ‘Cause me?  Basil?  We’re tight.  Really tight.

I adore, love, and cherish basil.  If there were only one herb in the world, I’d pick basil.  I even had strawberry basil sherbet once? Mmmmmmmmm!!  Anyway…. *cough cough*


There was so much basil that needed to be used that I decided to make pesto!

I didn’t really use a recipe and decided to make my own.  And now I’m blogging about it because it was so good and I don’t want to loose the recipe!  And blogging it is the surest way not to loose it.  😉


Summertime Basil Pesto 



3 c. tightly packed basil leaves

3 cloves fresh garlic

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 c. olive oil

1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Simply throw basil, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil into blender and pulse until blended.  I added the parmesan cheese after blending and mixed by hand.  Enjoy on bread or crackers, use on pizza, mix with softened butter, or any number of delicious ways!  Use your imagination!

*Spoiler* Another post coming where I use this pesto to make cheesy pesto sauce for pasta! Yum.

Summertime Basil Pesto Recipe by

Pre-Baby Granola… Mmmmm!!!

So, we just got done with our 12-week birthing classes…  Yes, just in time!  We can now have a baby!  🙂


Anyhoo… At every class, we took turns bringing snacks.  Yum!   Anyway, when Michelle brought granola and yogurt, Handsome Man went crazy over it.  I mean, he REALLY LIKED it!

He kept whispering during class, “You have GOT to get the recipe for this!!!”

Me: “Okay.”

Handsome Man: “We NEEEEEEEED the recipe for this.”

Me: “All right!  I’ll ask for it after class!”

Handsome Man: “This is SOOOO good!  You need to make this!!!!”

Me: “I know! I know!  I’ll make it!!!  Now shhhhh!  We’re supposed to be watching this birth video!”  (Sitting in a group of pregnant women and their husbands, watching videos of women giving birth? Yes… That’s quite the experience and a topic for — another day… 😉


Anyway… Yeah… I’d say he was smitten.  As soon as class was over, he started nudging me again and whispering that we needed the recipe.



We just made a 4x batch in anticipation of baby’s arrival.  I thought it would be awesome to have it stocked up and plenty to eat while I’m recovering!  The problem is, I’m not sure there will be any left by then!  This stuff is good! 🙂


So without further ado…..  The recipe!!!

Granola Recipe



Michelle’s Hearty Granola Recipe

(Recipe yields one batch…I made a 4x batch to have plenty after baby arrives. Maybe.)



2 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract






golden raisins

regular rasins


sunflower seeds

unsweeted coconut flakes

Flax Seed

Anything else that looks like it might be good in granola.  Dried fruits, nuts, etc….


*Specifically, for our batch, I added: (Again… I  4x the amounts listed here)

*1/4 c. Coconut (I would add about twice this much next time, I think)

*1 Tbsp Wheat Bran

* 1 c. Almonds

* 1/2 c. Sunflower Seeds

* 1/2 c. Crasins

* 1/4 c. Golden Raisins




Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt. Add nuts, raisins, coconut, sunflower seeds (or whatever looks good) to the oat mixture.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour mixture unto lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. (I baked it for longer since I made a 4x batch instead of just 1x)

Remove from oven promptly to cool.  While cooling stir the granola every so often.  (I didn’t really stir it that much because Handsome Man likes it chunkier)



Anyhoo!!!!   Hope you enjoy the granola, baby or not!!! 🙂

Granola Recipe


Summer Salsa Deliciousness!

….Or would that be Spring Salsa?


Summer Salsa Recipe - by


Whatever the case, on a whim…. Handsome Man and I thought it felt like a fresh-made salsa day!


Let me tell you… This is the EASIEST salsa ever!  In fact… I’ve never gone by a recipe.  I just tend to get all the ingredients listed and throw random amounts in until it tastes good.  In an attempt to get an actual recipe for you to work with, I went to and they have this awesome feature where you can just type in 5 or less ingredients and it will give you recipes with those ingredients. (Apparently it’s awesome for finding recipes for supper using ingredients you happen to have on hand)

I typed in:





And found the closest match to my own summer salsa.  It was a good base, but I changed the amounts on several ingredients to fit my own recipe better. (Less onion, more cilantro, etc…)


So without further ado…




Summer Salsa Recipe - by

In a mixing bowl, combine 4 large chopped tomatoes… (Sam likes them cubed, I like them chopped finer.  Since he was chopping the tomatoes, they’re cubed. 😉 It’s all how you like your salsa!

Summer Salsa Recipe - by

1/2 a diced onion, (This little fellow from Pampered Chef is one of my faaaavorite things!  It makes dicing things soooooo easy!)

Summer Salsa 4

1 cup cilantro, 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. lime juice, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. garlic salt.

I also suggest adding 1/2 of the jalapeño pepper, and tasting it. If you have a husband with a “wussy tongue,” you’ll need to stop with that. (Yes, I’m talkin’ to YOU, Sam!) If you prefer your salsa with more of a kick, add the remaining 1/2 jalapeño.  I use the whole jalapeño, seeds and all, except for the stem.  The seeds DO make it hotter though.  Fair warning.  😉


Summer Salsa Recipe - by

Stir all ingredients well.  Cover the salsa, and chill until ready to serve.  It really is better after it has sat for a while… The flavors mature or something.  All I know is it’s better! 🙂


Summer Salsa Recipe - by DIYinRealLife.comThis is what it looks like after it has sat for a bit….  Yum.

Summer Salsa Recipe - by

Just grab some chips, put your feet up and sit back…

And ENJOY your summery goodness in a bowl. 😉

You’ll thank me later.

(You’ll find the recipe below)

Summer Salsa Recipe - by

4 large tomatoes

1/2 onion, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp salt

Jalapeño Pepper, minced, to taste


In a mixing bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, cilantro, diced onion, minced garlic, lime juice, and garlic salt to taste. Add 1/2 of the jalapeño pepper, and taste it. If you prefer your salsa with more of a kick, add the remaining 1/2 jalapeño.  

Mix, then cover the salsa, and let sit at least an hour or until ready to serve to let the flavors mature.