Banana + Nutella Midnight Snack Sandwich Recipe

If you’re looking for a fun and unique snack or breakfast recipe, this panini-style sandwich will be great for you. With those classic flavors of bananas, Nutella, and whole grain sandwich thins as your bread, you are sure to enjoy this sweet delight.

Sweet Breakfast Sandwich

That ooey gooey Nutella oozes out, so watch out, this is a fun experience that makes breakfast or even a midnight snack more fun.

I used my Martha Stewart Cast Iron Skillet, but here are some other great options under $20.

Victoria Cast Iron Square Grill Pan at Target

Crock-Pot Artisan 10" Square Enameled Cast Iron Grill Pan at Walmart

Country Cabin 9" Square Ribbed Cast Iron Grill at Target

Sweet Breakfast Sandwich

Clay Lick Creek Pottery - Handmade In Southern Illinois

We were so fortunate to meet Karen Fiorino, the creative artist behind Clay Lick Creek Pottery. Her ceramics studio is nestled in a cabin-like building on her property, nestled among the tress and gorgeous surroundings of the Shawnee National Forest. She creates every single piece by hand - no molds are used here, then each piece is also hand painted. Some items are made in smaller series, and some of her creations are available year-round. She uses her natural surrounds to inspire her art, and I am very excited to share them with you today.

More About Karen

I’ve been creating functional pottery for about 20 years, starting with a few classes in ceramics on the advice of a good friend who informed me, “To take real classes in pottery and use the opportunity of subsidized courses working at the University gave me”. Thus started my journey in clay. I fell in love with the process, bought a wheel, paid off the truck and quit my job to pursue a life of art. I sell my pottery at various local and regional art fairs to sell my work, and am well received in these markets. — January 2010 marked my beginning opening my shop on Etsy and having the whole world have a peek of my work.

I named my clay studio, Clay Lick Creek Pottery after the name of the creek that flows across the land where I live. and specialize in functional pottery making serving bowls, mugs and other fun pieces featuring a majolica glaze decorated in brilliant colors over a red earthenware body. Each item is hand formed or hand thrown on a potter’s wheel, trimmed, and allowed to dry for approximately 1 week depending on size, density and air humidity before it is bisque fired. This stage of firing takes 16-18 hours and is then followed by a 24 hour cooling period. The white background is applied using an opaque, lead free Majolica glaze, and then hand painted using a mason stain/ frit combination. The pottery pieces are then fired again for approximately 8 hours, and after another cooling for another 24 hours, the charming wares are ready for the world and all that they may be used for. All of the pieces are food safe, and the smaller bowls and mugs may be used in the microwave for heating times of less than three minutes. To clean, they may be hand washed or placed on the top rack of a dishwasher.

“I believe people should have beautiful objects in their homes and use these beautiful objects in their everyday life. Nature inspires me, from the smallest to the largest of creatures-from the colors of geological formations to the colors of the sunrise and sunset. Ideas come to me from my zoological background (did I mention my education experience? I have a B.S. and M.A. in Zoology, specializing in Ichthyology (fish) and I draw a lot of my inspiration from this), a little dream work and images which many may not come to think. Add to that a little bit of humor and what appears is a palette of vibrant, joyful and whimsical designs that come to life on my pottery.

“Oftentimes, I have no idea what my work will look like until I am done, the designs simply develop while I am working on them. My goal for each piece is that when people come in contact with my work, they will experience joy and positive energy. One of my favorite things to hear from people who have my work, is how much they enjoy my pottery, how it makes them happy. If one of my purposes in life is to spread happiness, I believe I am succeeding one person at a time”—Karen
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Hand Painted Sunflower Coffee Mug

These ceramics are such show pieces! Serve your favorite veggies or appetizers in them for a beautifully colorful presentation!

Follow Clay Lick Creek Pottery on Facebook:

Check out her web site at:

Follow her on Pinterest:

She also has a listed schedule of events of art shows she’s showing her work at and various other tidbits.

If you would like a gift message enclosed with your order, just let her know. She is happy to help!

She will GLADLY ship anywhere - if it's not listed in my shipping, contact her for a quote. Plus, if you are interested in multiples, she will adjust any overcharge on the total shipping rates.

Mandala Bowls - Hand Painted Ceramics by Clay Lick Creek Pottery

Breakfast Idea:

Serve guests vanilla yogurt and beautiful bowls of fresh fruits and granola to make their own parfaits.

Enjoy the beauty of southern Illinois with Clay Lick Creek Pottery

Vegan Game Day Appetizers with Gardein

Super excited for #FootballSeason with @gardein! Here is a delicious #vegetarian #football #party #appetizer that will please fans. These #plantbased Gardein Meatless Meatballs are great baked in the oven, then finished off in your favorite sauce in a skillet in the oven. They also have a range of other products like chicken fingers and chicken strips which we have thoroughly enjoyed all season long.

The brand was so kind to send me an assortment of their meatless appetizers

#GardeinGameDay #IC #appetizer #meatlessmonday #footballparty #recipe #heresmyfood #meatless

CBDMEDIC + Me ~ Outdoor Adventures in Southern Illinois

This post is sponsored by CBDMEDIC but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Experience a new revolution in pain relief! CBDMEDIC is a topical ointment in stick form that is applied directly to the skin to relieve sore muscles. I love being able to choose a safe, effective, and powerful pain relief - allowing me to Play Harder & Live Better!

I visited CVS to grab the stick. I found it across from the pharmacy, in a nice CBD featured endcap. I loved getting to know the range of CBDMEDIC products.

CBDMEDIC - a CBD-infused topical for fast pain relief. Topicals generally do not enter the bloodstream, and they do not have to pass through the metabolic system before producing the effect. This aids in temporary pain relief. This would be great to keep in your travel bag too, since the lid fits nice and securely.

This incredible rub-on CBD-infused stick relieves sore muscles through other active ingredients like camphor, menthol, and clove oil. Many other natural oils and ingredients are utilized.

About the product, from the brand. "Our Active Sport™ Deep Muscle Rub and Solid Sport Stick provide advanced pain relief while continuously delivering our proprietary formulation that increases blood circulation and reduces inflammation. Active Sport™ products can be applied before, during, and after workouts, so they work when you are ready for them. From strains and sore muscles to joint distress and muscle pulls, our Active Sport™ line can offer highly effective relief and get you back in the game"!

Play harder & Live better!

With all the fun outdoor activities we do here in southern Illinois, it takes a toll. Sore muscles are no joke, and while I try to stretch or fight through the pain, sometimes I definitely need something. This lotion was really nice, and easy to apply since it’s in a twist-up applicator.

We are so fortunate to have such immense natural beauty here in southern Illinois. We have lived here for about 13+ years, and we used to hike and camp all the time. We loved it, but the heat would keep us inside more and more. It gets extremely hot and humid here, and there is rarely a cool breeze to greet us.

We recently headed to a friend’s cabin and I tried Stand Up Paddling (SUP). While I have kayaked and paddled quite a bit recently, I have never gotten the chance to SUP. It was great.

As I mentioned, we have kayaked a lot lately. Last Fall, we got a two person kayak, and learned that the best way to actually enjoy summer here is on the water. Paddling can definitely hurt my arms and shoulders, almost making my body feel tight. It’s always nice to know that I have been exercising and working those muscles, and this CBDMEDIC offers fast relief, and then you can go on with your day.

If you would like to learn more about CBDMEDIC, visit them on social media, or their website, here!

Happy Birthday to Me!

What an exceptional birthday! I turned 34 last weekend, and we celebrated at a cute pavilion on Devil’s Kitchen Lake. The weather was just perfect, and the full moon that started on Friday the 13th and carried into my birthday things even more special. Wow, I am so thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives!


Big Muddy Monster Homebrew Competition + Brew Fest 2019

We love craft beer! We went to the Big Muddy Homebrew Competition in Murphysboro, IL, and it was so fun sampling craft homebrews from all over Illinois and Missouri. This competition leads up to the Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest, in Murphysboro, IL on Saturday, October 5, 2019 (noon - 4pm). Excited to frequent the homebrew tent at the event next weekend!


I’m so happy we had the opportunity to stop by and check out the 100+ Homebrew recipes that were submitted.

10th Annual Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest 2019

Check out the poster I created for the homebrew competition, below. The winner will have their beer recipe brewed at a larger scale, and is a huge honor! **NOTE - Contest has ended.

10th Annual Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest 2019

3-Ingredient Meal- Unique End of Summer Recipe With Hatfield

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FALLInLoveWithHatfield, #MakeEasyMoreInteresting #simplyhatfield #CollectiveBias

We recently headed to Schnuck’s Market here in Carbondale to shop for our Hatfield® Dry Rubbed Marinated Tenderloin, as well as the grocery items on the list. Luckily, this meal only took 3 main ingredients, so shopping was fast and easy.

Hatfield at Schnuck's

Hatfield has amazing products, ranging from dry rub seasoned tenderloins to slow-cooker-ready pork roasts.

Hatfield at Schnuck's
Hatfield at Schnuck's


Since the pork tenderloin is already marinated, your prep and cooking time is reduced by HOURS! Oh my goodness, the aroma of the Tuscan Herb seasonings made the house smell incredible…our mouths were watering after just a few minutes :)


Cook and serve


Full of Flavor

Makes dinner less about the hard work of cooking, and more about time spent with family.

#1 Marinated Tenderloin in the Northeast is the Hatfield Tuscan Herb Tenderloin

Hatfield offers a HUGE variety of products and selections in their Marinated line. From Tuscan Herb to Texas Smokehouse, so many flavor profiles are covered, that most anyone would find one they loved.

  • Hatfield® Marinated Pork Tenderloin

  • Hatfield® Marinated Pork Loin Filets

  • Hatfield® Marinated Pork Roasts

  • Hatfield® Marinated Pork Chops

  • Hatfield® Marinated Pork Ribs



  • 1 Package (18.4 oz.) - Hatfield® Dry Rubbed Marinated Tenderloin

  • 1 medium-sized summer squash

  • 1-2 packages asparagus


  • Olive Oil

  • 3 skillets (at least 1 needs to have a lid for the pork tenderloin)

  • seasoning (I used Italian seasoning)

  • Salt

  • Any other seasonings you like, such as garlic

  • Cooking utensils

  • Tongs for cooking tenderloin, optional


Hatfield® Marinated Pork Tenderloin

1.) Remove packaging, and heat skillet to medium heat, with 2TBSP or so of olive oil.

2.) Once the skillet is hot, use optional tongs to place tenderloin onto heated skillet. This will begin to help you build a nice sear on the outsides while cooking the insides as well. Place lid onto pan/skillet, check after 2-3 minutes to ensure no sticking). No need to season the tenderloin, since Hatfield has already done the hard job of marinating the pork for you. This saves hours, luckily.

3.) After 3-4 minutes of cooking, carefully use an oven mitt and pair of tongs and flip the tenderloin to the other side. Replace lid and cook for 4-5 more minutes, moving tenderloin around in skillet if needed, to avoid burning or sticking to the skillet too much.

4.) Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes (or even a bit longer), rotating and flipping the tenderloin every couple of minutes. Make sure meat has cooked to an internal temperature of about 180 degrees F. The meat was extremely tender and cooked SO WELL!


1.) Heat second skillet and add 1-2 TBSP olive oil.

2.) Carefully slice squash and once skillet is hot, add squash to skillet. Sautee about 3 minutes on one side, use tong to flip slices, and cook on other side for 2-3 more minutes, until tender.

Roasted Summer Squash


1.) Cut bottom 2-3 inches off asparagus stalks.

2.) Cook in hot skillet with olive oil, salt, and garlic, enjoy.

I would definitely recommend keeping a few of these Hatfield Marinated products on hand. Cook one for dinner, have it as leftovers the next few days, and keep 2-3 other Hatfield products in the freezer. They only take a half a day to thaw, so they would be amazing when you need a fulfilling dinner without any fuss.

The other protein that I was considering featuring was the Hatfield® Marinated Pork Roast. It looks incredible, but the preferred cooking method was a crock pot. I would definitely like to keep one on hand for another time.


This dish would be super easy to make ahead for lunch or dinner the next day. Simply use clear containers to store the meal, and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Meal Prep

I also really love what Hatfield is doing across their social media channels. In fact, they featured my kebabs recipe recently, it was such a nice surprise! Get the full recipe here.


It’s Almost Fall In Southern Illinois


I’m sure the warm weather hasn’t “officially” ended / I literally just got the weather app notification staying, “considerably warmer temperatures tomorrow”,

Despite the “Fall weather fake-out”, we took a little time today after the storms cleared and headed to a few places in Cobden, Alto Pass, and all the sprawling hills with orchards and wineries, and it was so pretty. Really happy to have taken full advantage of the weather, and I’m super happy with some of the photos we took too.


Stay tuned for more photos, coming soon! What sort of Fall activities are you looking forward to this year?

Little Grand Canyon

We are so lucky to have lots of great places in the Shawnee National Forest to hike and experience. I recently went on a hike on the 3+ mile loop trail at Little Grand Canyon, and I had a blast!


Towards the lower portion of the trail, I saw some of the most impressive set of rock formations, shown above. It’s definitely worth hiking the entire trail just to see them!


Wild hydrangeas grow along creek beds and from rocky ledges. Thank be been so enamored with these gorgeous flowers since we visited the Oregon coast a few years ago and these flowers were everywhere. This year, we also grew them in our garden so when I realized that they grew naturally in southern Illinois, I was so happy! I’ve seen them here, Tunnel Hill, and also at Pomona Natural Bridge.

The native Wild Hydrangea is occasional to locally common in southern Illinois, uncommon in central Illinois, and largely absent from the northern section of the state. Habitats include shaded ravines, rocky stream banks in wooded areas, bottoms of bluffs and cliffs, low rocky ledges, and similar habitats in wooded areas. Wild Hydrangea is found in high quality natural areas.


This was one of the first solo hikes I had embarked on, and it’s said that, “in every walk in nature, one receives far more than he seeks”.

My main intent with this walk was to explore a new place and to spend a little time in nature and I absolutely LOVED every second of it.

While I saw a few other hikers at first, and since there’s little to no signal for most of this trail, I should’ve been slightly concerned about being alone in the woods…but I felt safe. It felt awesome to know that I had a moment to myself and that I could walk as fast or as slow as I wanted and I didn’t have to be concerned with taking too many photos of the little things along the way, for fear that it would take “too long”.


I feel like I should make it a point to hike somewhere different each week and post it here! I’ve gotten so much more in tune with the natural beauty around me here in southern Illinois, and it definitely needs to be a bigger part of my blog!

Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL

I met Mike and Jess at the Carbondale Farmer’s Market years ago, and they are some of my favorite people to this day. They sell their incredible, gourmet mushrooms at the market every Saturday throughout the entire season from April - November. You can also find their mushrooms at various local restaurants, grocery stores like The Neighborhood Co-Op, and at the Urbana, IL Market.

Flyway Family Mushroom Farm -  Makanda, IL

Connect With Flyway Family Farm on Facebook and Instagram!

Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL

I recently had the honor of capturing some of their current offerings. They have a Chef’s Mix, which contained some of each. These pink oyster mushrooms were so incredible in a mixed veggie skillet we made recently while camping.

Last year, we also created a really incredible post for Martha Stewart, featuring several of the Flyway Family Farm mushrooms, which I also found at the Farmer’s Market.

Flyway Family Farm - Mushroom Farm in Makanda, IL

Looking for a delicious marinated mushroom recipe? They can be made ahead of time, and enjoyed for up to five days.

Flyway Family Mushroom Farm -  Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL


Flyway Family Mushroom Farm - Makanda, IL
Flyway Family Farm Mushrooms - Makanda, IL

Simple and Delicious Make Ahead Meal Idea with Laura’s Lean

I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #LaurasLean campaign, sponsored by Laura’s Lean. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

This simple and delicious meal idea is sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Since all of the ingredients are creatively displayed on the plate, each person can create their very own version of their meal. This is food that actually makes you feel great after eating it, exactly what food should be!

I think this would also be fun to serve to guests, for the very same reason, everyone has such different tastes and preferences.

I have been a fan of Laura’s Lean for a couple of years now. Since I shop at Kroger, and I am always drawn to higher-quality, learner ground beef, Laura’s Lean has been a go-to of mine ever since I first tried it. Our local Kroger was remodeled recently, and I tend to prefer their selection and prices way better than anywhere else in town. I always recommend upgrading your beef selection when possible – you definitely deserve the best. When you chose Laura’s Lean, you’re choosing the balance of taste and nutrition for you and your family.

Learn Where To Buy Laura’s Lean Near You!

Keep reading to get the full details on this lean recipe and learn how easy it is to make this yummy meal.

Low Carb Dinner Idea
Low Carb Dinner Ideas

This dish would be so great as a make-ahead option too, since most of the ingredients can be stored overnight and bought to work or school the next day. I stored each of the leftover ingredients in individual containers, and created a whole extra meal the next day. 





 …and anyone who loves an easy, simple, delicious meal that takes under 30 minutes to prepare and enjoy!


Find Laura’s Lean Ground Beef or Ground Beef Patties at Kroger nationwide.

Find Laura’s Lean Ground Beef or Ground Beef Patties at Kroger nationwide.
Low Carb Dinner Idea / Recipe


1 (16 oz.) package of Laura’s Lean Beef

1/2 – 1 cup chopped onion

2-3 cloves garlic – chopped or minced

2-3 TBSP olive oil

3-4 TBSP Taco Seasoning (or more if you prefer)

2 cups shredded cheddar

Lettuce - chopped, tomatoes - diced, sour cream, and any other toppings you prefer.

Tortillas – optional – omit if low carb is preferred.


1-2 limes

Home Grown Tomatoes

We really loved being able to use home grown tomatoes, right from our garden!

Lean, Low Carb Dinner Idea / Recipe

Laura’s Lean is so great – it’s so lean and has a taste that’s better than anything else on the market.

Low Carb Dinner Idea


1.) Chop onions and garlic into tiny pieces, set aside. In a medium to large skillet, add 1-2 TBSP olive oil, and turn heat to medium. Add chopped onions and garlic, and season with a small sprinkle of the taco seasoning. Cook until tender.

2.) Once veggies are sautéed, add Laura’s Lean Ground Beef, and begin to cook. Season with 3-4 tsp salt + 2-3 more TBSP of the taco seasoning, and more if you prefer. Cook until brown. Season with fresh lime juice if you would like.

3.) If you do see any excess grease after your beef has cooked, feel free to strain it in a colander in the sink. Once drained, add beef back to skillet and get ready to prepare your plates.

4.) On each plate, add Laura’s Lean ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream, cheese, and any other toppings you like! Serve with warmed tortillas, and enjoy.

Low Carb Dinner Ideas
Low Carb Dinner Ideas
Low Carb Dinner Idea
Low Carb Dinner Idea

Fall Fashion Under $50

With a fresh, new season almost upon us, I wanted to take an opportunity to refresh the blog and share a few new posts! We’ve been busy behind the scenes planning and prepping for lots of great new content, so stay tuned!! Below, you can check out some of the most adorable items for Fall Under $50 on, one of my favorite partners!

What are your Fall Fashion staples? I tend to gravitate towards items that are cute AND comfy - how about you?


The  Wild Thing Dolman Cardigan  is so versatile and would be amazing for travel.  $25.99 plus $5.99 for the first item and $2.99 for each additional item. US only. Seller usually ships within 6 business days. Ships no later than Wed, Aug 28.

The Wild Thing Dolman Cardigan is so versatile and would be amazing for travel.

$25.99 plus $5.99 for the first item and $2.99 for each additional item. US only. Seller usually ships within 6 business days. Ships no later than Wed, Aug 28.

Fall Fashion Finds
This  Sherpa Pullover  comes in 4 colors, and is a timeless closet staple. It will match so many outfits and excursions this Fall.  $26.99 plus $3.99 for the first item and $2.99 for each additional item. US only. Seller usually ships within 2 business days. Ships no later than Tuesday, Aug 27.

This Sherpa Pullover comes in 4 colors, and is a timeless closet staple. It will match so many outfits and excursions this Fall.

$26.99 plus $3.99 for the first item and $2.99 for each additional item. US only. Seller usually ships within 2 business days. Ships no later than Tuesday, Aug 27.

Awe, these  Fall-Themed T-shirts  are really adorable and I have several other designs from this company. They really last forever, and they fit like a dream! Great for the pumpkin patch, too!  $14.99 plus $3.99 for the first item and $1.99 for each additional item. US only. Ships no later than Thu, Sep 5.

Awe, these Fall-Themed T-shirts are really adorable and I have several other designs from this company. They really last forever, and they fit like a dream! Great for the pumpkin patch, too!

$14.99 plus $3.99 for the first item and $1.99 for each additional item. US only. Ships no later than Thu, Sep 5.

This Boho Flag Bunting is SO cute! I would love to decorate my home with this.  $14.99 plus $3.99 Shipping for the first item and $2.29 for each additional item. US only. Seller usually ships within 5 business days. Ships no later than Thu, Aug 29.

This Boho Flag Bunting is SO cute! I would love to decorate my home with this.

$14.99 plus $3.99 Shipping for the first item and $2.29 for each additional item. US only. Seller usually ships within 5 business days. Ships no later than Thu, Aug 29.

These popular, side-cut booties are amazing. They would really dress up an outfit with little effort, a big plus in my opinion!   $34.99 plus Free Shipping. US only. Seller usually ships within 2 business days. Ships no later than Wed, Aug 28.

These popular, side-cut booties are amazing. They would really dress up an outfit with little effort, a big plus in my opinion!

$34.99 plus Free Shipping. US only. Seller usually ships within 2 business days. Ships no later than Wed, Aug 28.

Happy {Almost} Fall! Enjoy!

Hatfield® Marinated Summer Grilling ~ Fresh Local Veggie Kabob Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerItUpWithHatfield #GrillingWithHatfield #CollectiveBias

You know those memorable summer meals that make the summer all that much better? Those meals the you and your friends and family talk about all year? Well I believe this is going to be one of those. I was floored with the flavors that the dry rub marinade on the Hatfield® Marinated Pork contained and I am already looking forward to leftovers. I was also able to source peppers from my local farmer’s market!!

Basically, I used the flavors in the Hatfield dry rub marinade to inspire the flavors throughout the entire meal!

Since this pork tenderloin was already marinated, I hardly had to do any prep work. Generally I like to let any of my ingredients marinate for at least several hours, and the pre-seasoned tenderloin made this meal so easy to prep and create. From their dry rub seasoned tenderloins to their slow-cooker-ready pork roasts, delicious fresh pork makes dinner less about the cooking and more about the family and friends around you. Send them home with leftovers - they’ll thank you!


I found my products at my local Schnucks (and at the farmer’s market) and in other parts of the country, you can find them at these retailers: ACME, ShopRite, Giant Carlisle, Stop N Shop, Giant Landover, Supervalu, and Giant Eagle.


Hatfield® Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Hatfield® Marinated Pork Loin Filets

Hatfield® Marinated Pork Roasts

Hatfield® Marinated Pork Chops

Hatfield® Marinated Pork Ribs


1 Hatfield Marinated Pork Tenderloin

4 Bell Peppers - Cut into 1.5” squares

1 Container Of Pearl Onions - Skins removed

1/4 lb. Mini Potatoes

1/3 c. Italian dressing

Skewer Sticks


1.) Cut peppers into 1.5” squares, and arrange them onto skewer sticks. Set aside on a sheet pan, drizzle lightly with Italian dressing.

Pepper Skewer Kabobs

2.) Add mini pearl onions to skewer sticks, and set on same sheet pan.

3.) Add mini potatoes to skewers. If some are too large, simply cut them smaller.

4.) Lastly - to make the pork skewers, remove Hatfield® Marinated Pork onto a cutting board and discard wrapper. Next, cut lengthwise down the entire tenderloin, then cut one more time lengthwise on each side. Next, cut cube shaped pieces and add 5-6 pieces per skewer. Set these pork skewers aside onto a different pan from the veggies.

5.) Time to grill. Spray grill with non-stick spray. Add skewers to grill. Flip skewers with tongs after 4-5 minutes. Always cook pork thoroughly. Enjoy!



TAG THE BRAND WITH: #SummerItUpWithHatfield #SimplyHatfield #GrillingWithHatfield 

Consider incorporating Hatfield marinated ingredients into your summer recipes and taste the delicious and simple difference that makes Hatfield AMAZINGLY great!

Loaded Sweet Potatoes - an easy dinner idea!

These sweet potatoes are perfect for warmer weather. Everything can be prepped ahead and the toppings can be completely prepped ahead of time, and these would be exceptional to bring for lunch! I just love how many amazing nutrients come from sweet potatoes too. Hope you enjoy!

Loaded Sweet Potatoes


1.) Rinse sweet potatoes with water and pat dry. Use a fork to make pricks in the outsides of the potatoes, and bake wrapped in foil for 30-40 minutes. Once soft enough to make a soft impression with your fingers, CAREFULLY unwrap from foil and place on a heat proof cutting surface. Cut in half lengthwise, and arrange on a plate.

2.) Top with items like sour cream, leftover crock pot pork, shredded cheese, cilantro, onions, and black olives, and you have one of THE most delicious entrees you have had in a long time. Enjoy!

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Biodegradable is NOT Debatable!

Biodegradable is NOT debatable! I wanted to share a quick post with you today, sharing one of our latest projects with Organic Initiative.

Consider using 100% pure organic cotton Oi Regular Tampons (which are free of synthetics, plastics, chlorine bleaching, perfumes and chemical dyes. Everything which should be avoided anyway! 

Here are some important tips and FAQ’s that I found on the OI website, here!

At Oi we pride ourselves on giving you all the information you need to make informed choices about what you put into your body. Therefore we have answered some of the questions you may have regarding your health and environmental concerns below.

What are Oi products made from?

Oi tampons, pads and liners are made from certified organic cotton. Oi wrappers are made from bioplastic, meaning they are made from plant starches. Our boxes are recyclable and our inks are made from vegetable dyes.

All Oi products are free from chlorine, synthetics such as rayon and polypropylene, chemicals, dyes, fragrances, and lubricants, they are also biodegradable.

Oi products are sourced from sound ecologically managed producers and cruelty-free.

Where is the cotton sourced from?

Our cotton comes from a range of GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard) certified farms including the USA, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

How do you ensure production is in line with your environmental policy?

Every year, billions of plastic laden menstrual pads and tampons are disposed of and the majority of conventional pads are made from crude oil plastic which pollutes our fragile ecosystems.

Plastic waste from menstrual pads and tampons is often found littering our beaches causing disease and compromising public health. Plastics tangle marine animals, killing or injuring either by suffocation, strangulation, drowning or by the reduction of movement and thereby hampering the animal’s ability to feed.

All Oi products are BioGro certified, New Zealand's leading organisation.

By choosing Oi, you are saying no to the use of crude oil plastics.

What are other non-organic tampons and pads made from?

Most menstrual pads, liners and tampons contain synthetics.

These are made up of plastics such as polythene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbent gel, surfactants and chlorine-bleached wood pulp - as well as fragrance and colours.

Tampons are commonly made from chlorine bleached rayon or a combination of conventionally grown cotton, one the most highly sprayed crops on earth and rayon.

Chlorine bleaching practises produce dioxin as a by-product - a substance linked to health issues such as cancer, endometriosis and immune system compromise. By choosing Oi you are saying No to the use of synthetics and chemicals in your tampons and pads.

Why is organic cotton better?

Many women experience vaginal itching, irritation, soreness and discharge.

Just as we are recommended cotton underwear because it is soft, pure and breathable Oi recommends all women choose 100% certified organic cotton tampons and pads.

How does natural cotton compare with organic cotton?

“Natural” cotton commonly refers to the fact there are no synthetics and plastics added to the natural fiber after the plant is harvested.

However this does not mean that the cotton is chemical free. Conventional cotton is sprayed extensively with pesticides and other dangerous chemicals.

Non-organic cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, using more than 25% of the world’s total insecticides. Organic cotton is made from non-genetically modified plant which is grown without use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilisers or pesticides.

Is organic cotton just as reliable as synthetic products?


I’m thinking of switching to Oi but I’m worried that the products won’t work as well as the ones I’ve been using.

Yes. You can trust that Oi products are convenient, comfortable, safe and reliable.

Where are Oi products made ?

Oi is a New Zealand owned company. Our products are made in Europe and adhere to the strict guidelines set out by GOTS (Global organic textile standard) BioGro (New Zealand’s organic certifier and the FDA (Food and drug administration) from farm to you.

What certification standards do Oi products have?

All Oi products carry the highest certifications.

These include GOTS (Global organic textile standard) and BioGro (the leading voice in organics for New Zealand and the Pacific).

What about Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a certification for products produced in developing countries that do not have industrial labour laws. Our products are manufactured in first world, developed countries (Europe) that have fair labour laws and working conditions.

What about GMO?

Organic standards prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) so you can rest assured that all our products are 100% GMO free.

Incorporate these 100% organic cotton, Eco-friendly goods into your days, months, and life!

Tips for Actually Relaxing on Vacation

This post has been sponsored by Canada Dry®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Let’s be honest, traveling can be pretty stressful. But, if you go into a vacation or adventure with a well-thought-out plan, a realistic outlook, and something refreshing to drink, it’s so much easier to sit back and actually relax and enjoy your time away!

During our recent vacation to the Florida Keys, we took a sunny day to relax and picnic near the ocean. We bought along a DELICIOUS new flavor from Canada Dry called Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Orangeade, which we found at Kroger as we were getting ready to make the 24-hour drive to the Keys. This destination is worth every single mile! 

This new Canada Dry flavor is perfect to enjoy in Florida, the sunshine state known for its oranges; this drink delivers a flavor that is light and refreshing, with a hint of ginger and 1% real orange juice! 

I loved lying at the beach and simply staring out into the ocean. The tropical breezes make the palm trees wave ever so slightly with no cares in the world. We always pack a cooler full of ice and refreshments when we are adventuring around on our vacations. Staying hydrated is key in being able to stay focused, relaxed, and feeling fresh.

I see the stress that looms over those traveling and taking so much time, effort, and money on what they thought was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, only to find that the crowds, traffic, and overpriced everything are just too much!

I am often asked how I stay so positive while traveling, and I am so happy to be able to share tips on making sure you get the most out of your vacation throughout this post. It is a dream of mine to one day create a blog dedicated fully to travel and lifestyle, so stay tuned! Who knows what dreams might just come true! 


The day we shot this post, we headed to a cute little park that we had all to ourselves for the morning! Talk about relaxing…I left feeling incredibly refreshed and ready to handle the day…the month…and even the year ahead. A bit of fresh air and sunshine can really do wonders for helping one relax.

Making sure everyone has something cold and refreshing to drink really makes a huge difference. I know that when I am parched, I just can't think of anything but getting a sip of something cold. How about you?

Here, we treated a couple of our closest family members to some tasty refreshments as they enjoyed a relaxing sunset by the water. They said it was some of the tastiest Ginger Ale they had ever had and were so happy we shared! We filled glasses with ice, poured the Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Orangeade into the glasses, then garnished them with slices of mini oranges. What a tropical treat! Plus, the house we stayed at while in Florida had tons of gorgeous hibiscus bushes, and other pretty tropical flowers which really complemented the delicious taste of the Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Orangeade.

We love taking vacations with family. We all get a chance to bond and relax, which all of us need very badly since we all work SO hard throughout the year.


If your goal is to recharge, there is no use in completely doing way more than you would normally be capable of. Sure, it’s fun to challenge yourself and make the most of every day while on vacation but this also means giving your mind and body a little bit more time to rest than usual. You may not even realize that walking a city’s downtown area could add 5+ extra miles to your daily adventures!

Bring comfortable clothes and shoes, and be prepared for a variety of environments. This will help you stay at the top of your game. You may even find that in cities where walking is a huge part of peoples’ daily commute, you may find shoe stores and boutiques that carry incredibly comfortable and stylish items! Never pack shoes or clothing that are the least bit uncomfortable because you likely won’t even wear them while traveling.

Another part of staying comfortable is being prepared with enough refreshments and snacks. You never know when you will get that perfect chance to catch an amazing meal so rather than being stressed by packing improperly, get things organized ahead of time so you're all happy and you can take as much time to relax as possible.


Plan a relaxing schedule. It allows you a bit of wiggle room if places are not as expected. This way, if the itinerary isn’t planned out minute by minute, your whole day isn’t ruined if a detour arises!

Sometimes, the best and most relaxing days come from spur of the moment stops we have taken—whether it is just to get out and stretch our legs or is something a local told us about. 

I also love using the maps app on my phone to look up reviews, photos, and honest opinions of not only restaurants and bars but also state parks, venues, and even places off the beaten path.  

Also, if you search locations via Instagram’s geo tags, you can find out about a place days, months, or even years in advance! And, you get a look at what the locals are doing as well as those who are visiting.


 As we all know, unplugging from technology and work can be extremely peaceful and reduce stress. This is something I always have trouble doing since I work in social media. It’s part of my job to keep my phone or laptop by my side, whether it’s to check emails from clients or shoot photos for projects. And since I don’t have a traditional work schedule, work literally never ends. This means that I have to put forth extra effort to leave the phone in the other room so that I can enjoy the precious time we have in any given place.

Of course, technology while traveling can also help reduce stress. Set aside some time each morning or evening. If you do not already have a plan for the day ahead, jot down a list of ideas and look them up to see if it’s worth the time and effort.


I always recommend keeping an open mind and realizing that travel can be stressful, so going with the flow in a new location or situation is sometimes the best way to fully enjoy your time.

Never pressure yourself to relax. If the situation is bothering you, do a little change of scenery, realize that you’re on vacation, and have a little fun. After all, there is likely some reason people vacation there, so find those places and check them out even if they are not your normal plan!


Try a new adventure—that can breathe new life into your spirit and even if you wore yourself out a bit trying something new, the memories and thrill of a new adventure will truly reinvigorate or reenergize you for years to come.

Remember, pack yourself some snacks and your favorite flavors of Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Orangeade, Ginger Ale, and Diet Ginger Ale—something for everyone!


Get a good night’s sleep. I always bring my own pillow from home if space allows in my luggage. I find that after traveling and staying in so many places, the comfort of your own pillow is worth more than any luxury accommodations.

While I have never attended a spa to get a massage while on vacation, most tourist destinations boast award-winning, state of the art spas and salons that offer unique experiences.

What sorts of relaxing travel tips do you have? Do you find vacation stressful or relaxing? If you chose the latter, I do hope some of these tips have really inspired you to start enjoying every single moment of that relaxing vacation you planned! Happy and safe travels, friends!

Cristaudo’s Bakery and Gift Shop in Carbondale, IL

We visited Cristaudo’s Cafe and Bakery here in Carbondale recently, and I was so impressed with everything they have to offer! It had been a month or so since I’d visited, and I snapped a few photos to showcase their shop. they had some amazing St. Patrick’s Day cookies too. Find them online here -


Visit Cristaudo’s at 209 S. Illinois Street, Carbondale, IL 62901. 

What to Pair with Asti Spumante + Mini Fruit Tart Recipe

This post was sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. Message for readers 21 and older.

Throughout life, I have been so inspired by my Italian heritage. I enjoy wine, food, and art, all of which are very close to my heart. My grandfather’s parents moved to the United States from Italy around 1910, and since I was so close to his side of my family, I always felt such a connection to that culture. Living La Dolce Vita, meaning living the sweet life, is a great phrase for the way I feel about what you will find in this post. Learn how to pair this sweet sparkling Italian wine called Asti Spumante with something sweet and easy to make.

 In this post, I wanted to share a bright, refreshing glass of Asti Spumante with you (from one of 20 wine regions in Italy), and provide an easy yet elegant recipe for mini fruit tarts, which pair very well with this sparkling Italian wine.

Asti Spumante is a sparkling wine that is produced from Moscato Bianco grapes in the southeastern part of the Piedmont region of Italy, concentrated around the cities of Asti and Alessandria, but also near Cuneo. 

Though Piedmont accounts for only 7% of Italy’s wine production, it is celebrated for producing wines of extremely high quality. Piedmont stands proud as the region with the most DOC/DOCG zones (58) and the largest percentage of officially classified wines (86%). Piedmont is Italy’s northwesternmost region, sharing a border with Switzerland and France, and surrounded by the Alps to the north and west and the last peaks of the Apennine Mountains to the south.


(Image Source: Extraordinary Italian Wine

Below, you will notice a regional map of Italy, and the Piedmont region is shown in red.

The region is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. The name Piedmont comes from Latin meaning, ‘at the foot of the mountains,’ which makes for a very rocky soil and terrain in some areas. It’s an agricultural region, where more than half its 170,000 acres of vineyards are registered with DOC designations.

Italy produces the largest volume of wine in the world. The country may have more than 3,000 varieties of grapes, of which 590 are officially recorded with hundreds left to be catalogued. The wines are often referred to as “passionate wines,” extremely expressive wines that convey many emotions.

I often go for white wines when possible, and enjoy Chardonnay a LOT. This variety of wine has notes of light citrus fruit flavors (apple and pear mostly,) and a few hints of vanilla. Foods that pair well with Chardonnay include semi-soft cheeses such as goat cheese, herb-crusted halibut or scallops, chicken breast, and more.

My grandfather was one of my favorite people ever, and it’s really an honor to be able to celebrate him and the positive impact he had on me. My last name is Accettura, which is actually a city in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata. It has always been my dream to one day visit, and hopefully I will.

Since my grandfather loved cooking for me and treating us to delicious meals at restaurants in the Chicago area and on our vacations to Florida, I learned to love good food. He would be so proud of me for following my dreams of working for myself as a food and lifestyle photographer.

Many sites I researched concluded that fresh fruit are a great pairing for Asti Spumante. A few sites even mentioned fruit tarts, which I knew would be gorgeous to pair with this wine.



 1-2 packages of ready to use flaky shells (freezer section near the puff pastry and pie crusts)

Fresh fruit topping:

1 kiwi, cut into small pieces

1 package of blueberries

3 strawberries, cut into slices then into slices, like a pizza

Fresh whipped cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

¼ cup (or more) granulated sugar

2 tsp Vanilla bean paste or regular vanilla

1/3 C. powdered sugar, sifted

Optional – frosting bag and larger star-shaped piping tip


1.) Make whipped cream. In a stand mixer, whip together cream, granulated and powdered sugars, and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form, put into fridge to cool. After 15-20 minutes or less, transfer into prepared frosting bag.

2.) Lay all shells out onto work surface, and use your frosting bag to full shells. I used a swirling motion to get a nice shape. See below.

3.) Cut up fruits, and add one fruit at a time to all cups. First put one blueberry on each cup. Then, put one piece of kiwi on each, then one piece of strawberry. Serve with Asti Spumante and enjoy!

Experiment with Italian wines in creative, unexpected settings: Italian whites at the beach, Italian Rosato with BBQ, Italian whites with sushi, Nero d’Avola with Korean BBQ, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with burgers, Valpolicella with ribs, Lambrusco with Mac n’ Cheese, Pairing Italian wines with cheese and meats.

I am SO honored to have had this chance to work with the Italian Wine Trade Agency on this incredible project. What an incredible learning experience. Cheers to amazing opportunities. 

As I mentioned before, my grandfather was 50% Italian; his parents relocated to the United States from Italy in the early 1900s. Since I was so close to my grandparents on my dad’s side, I was raised learning all about the Italian foods that my grandfather grew up enjoying, then cooking for me. I also learned later in life that my dad inherited several vintage bottles of Italian wines that my grandpa, Vito, had been keeping in the basement for many years. We still keep that wine as a memento of him, which makes this post even more special to me.

Asti Spumante’s characteristics are a persistent froth, a color from pale yellow to pale gold, the perlage is fine and persistent; its fragrance is soft and characteristic and, finally, its taste is aromatic, distinctive, sweet and balanced in structure. That’s why Asti is a wine with a strong and aristocratic personality. The bubbles add SO much to the experience.

Fresh Strawberries

Since strawberries are looking so great in stores right now, they were perfect to feature in this recipe, and to pair their sweet taste with the sparkling wine.

Made from the Moscato Bianco grape, Asti Spumante is sweet and low in alcohol. In fact, it is the perfect wine of the sweet occasions and to toast after a meal. It accompanies desserts and is very suitable with fruit, as it has hints of acacia flowers, wisteria, peach and apricot.

Use any variety of fruits you would like to make these adorable mini fruit tarts. I would recommend incorporating at least 3-4 colors of different fruits for the best effect.

Thank you so much for joining me to learn more about Italian wine and what pairs best with Asti Spumante. Have you ever tried this wine before?

Try This Amazing PMD Machine ASAP!

So what is Personal Microdermabrasion, and is is for you?

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure used to renew overall skin tone and texture. It can improve the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, acne scarring, melasma, and other skin-related concerns and conditions.

The exfoliating power of the PMD microdermabrasion machine and rejuvenating powers of the PMD Recovery Mask are unlike ANY other skincare product I have ever used. I love that it is also an all natural technique, so you would not need to use a harsh products, treatments, and cleansers, only to simply wonder if they are working or not. When you take a more thorough and aggressive approach to skincare, such as a microdermabrasion, you remove that layer of dead skin, scars, and even fine lines! After 8-12 weekly treatments, your skin should be showing MAJOR improvements. Honestly, you wind up seeing results after the FIRST TIME of use.

PMD kindly sent me a beautiful gift set for review, and I could not be happier with my face after 20 years of “hating my skin”!


Do you ever feel like you work and work to keep your skin clean and fresh to no avail? Those blackheads are just sitting right under the skin, but are not wanting to budge. I am someone who suffers from less acne than I used to before reducing soda and dairy, but my skins is still nowhere near perfect.

FINALLY, after using the PMD machine four times, I can say, that I am finally HAPPY with the appearance of my skin. No joke, I have had skin troubles since I was 14, and this is the first actual technique that has made a difference.

Personal Microderm will remove the top layer of dead dull skin and bring blood flow to the surface of the skin, which will allow your skin to absorb the powerful specially formulated ingredients of the mask for smoother brighter skin. Love your skin starting TODAY!

Personal Microderm combines Patented Spinning Disc technology with Perfectly Calibrated Vacuum Suction to brighten, smooth, and even skin tone and texture. After using the Personal Microderm, the specially formulated Recovery Masks will hydrate and sooth the skin to minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots.


“Does the PMD really work? Showing you how to use the PMD Personal Microderm the RIGHT WAY in today's tutorial to help you get glowing skin at home! I've been using the PMD Microdermabrasion system for a few months now and I LOVE the way my skin looks.”

Below, you will see a diagram of how to use the machine around your entire face. It is most important to not hover over any one spot too long, or you can get a little spot on your face, like you would if you skinned your knee a tiny bit! This will rarely happen, but there is that possibility.

PMD Machine - Tips and Tricks, How To Use

If you are curious about the variety of PMD Discs or tips, you can see below, that the different colors indicate how rough they are. I have used the white and grey so far and they have been amazing! No issues!

PMD Discs
PMD Discs
The  Love Your Skin Beauty Kit  comes with a rose gold metallic zippered bag that holds everything you need! Machine, discs, face masks, and cord.

The Love Your Skin Beauty Kit comes with a rose gold metallic zippered bag that holds everything you need! Machine, discs, face masks, and cord.


PMD Machine
PMD Machine

I also found a VERY thorough review on the PMD machine, which I have shared below. Find that original article here!

Have you ever considered using this treatment for your skin? Let me know in the comments below!