Instant Pot Potato & Ham Cheesy Chowder

If the weather where you are is anything like it is here in Maryland, spring has not quite sprung just yet. I’m so ready for warmer weather, but the one benefit of the cooler temps sticking around a little longer is that soup is still an appetizing meal option.

I wanted to share a recipe for one that has been on repeat the last few months. It is perfect if you have some ham in your fridge leftover from Easter dinner!

I have made a few variations of this soup depending on why I had on hand, so I’ll start with the original and then share any alternative versions also.

To make, combine the first 6 ingredients in your Instant Pot. Use the manual setting for 10 minutes followed by a quick release.

Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and add the last 3 ingredients, mixing well. They heat right up as you combined them with the initial ingredients.

It is delicious!

Like I said, I have made a few variations.

The first time I made it, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, along with some leftover ham from Christmas dinner. I think that because of the flavoring of the ham, this was the best version I’ve made. (All have been good, but this was definitely the front runner!)

I have not had celery on hand the other times, but have substituted with a few sprinkles of celery seed to give the celery taste. It works for us!

I have used different types of potatoes: russet, red, and the “red,white,& blue” baby potato bag from Aldi. I have made it both with peeling and not peeling, depending on how I was feeling. Obviously, if I didn’t peel, I scrubbed them well.

I have made it without ham. This would have been fine, BUT I made the mistake of adding more salt, thinking that it would make up for the lack of salty flavor the ham would bring. Big mistake. It made it way to salty! My husband still ate it without complaint, but I had a specific flavor in mind, and this was not it!

I have used cubed ham-steak the other times I have made this. I have also used whatever carrots we’ve had on hand: baby carrots cut up or matchstick. All have swapped well.

This soup also reheats well, so it’s perfect to prep for lunches while still being hearty enough to serve for dinner.

Its a winner in my book! Let me know if you try this soup. I’d love to hear from you!

Super Easy, Super Yummy Fruit Salad

This fruit salad has become my go to for potlucks and parties. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure, and leftovers are pretty much non-existent. That’s a winner in my book!

The best part is that it is super easy and quick to pull together. Here is what you will need:

Ingredients:

– 1 can of pineapple chunks, in their own juices

– 1 can of mandarin oranges, drained

-bunch of greed seedless grapes, rinsed and halved

-2 bananas, sliced

-1 small package of blueberries , rinsed

-1 package of strawberries, rinsed and quartered

– 1 packet of Jell-O brand vanilla pudding

Directions:

Prepare the ingredients as listed.

Start by mixing the can of pineapple chunks and juice with the vanilla pudding packet. Mix until creamy.

Add in the rest of the ingredients one by one, stirring to combine as you go.

Chill* or serve.

*If you are making ahead of time, wait to add the bananas to avoid them browning before serving.

Enjoy!

(Adapted from Just A Pinch)

Dying Easter Eggs with Rice

It’s the second day of spring, and here in Maryland we are celebrating with a snowstorm! What better way to spend the day than in our jammies and dying Easter eggs!

This year, holidays have been extra fun with Drew because we have been able to incorporate little activities to celebrate them. I wanted to give dying eggs a go with him, but I was worried about the potential mess. I stumbled across the rice method while perusing Pinterest and decided to give it a whirl. It was perfect for him right now!

Obviously, we started with hard boiled eggs. I used my instant pot to do this, and it made it super quick and easy. If you have an Instant Pot and haven’t tried this yet, you will definitively want to give it a try!

Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

1. Place the trivet the bottom of the pan and place eggs on top. We only did 8 but you can do more!

2. Pour in 1 cup of water.

3. Set for 8 minutes on manual. After the 8 minutes are up, let them rest for 2 minutes before releasing the pressure. (Note, it will take a little longer than 10 minutes total because of the time it takes to build up the pressure before it starts the 8 minutes of cooking time)

4. After the pressure has been released, carefully remove the eggs and place them in an ice bath. After they chill for a few minutes, go ahead and dry them off. You’re ready to dye them!

How To Use Rice To Dye Easter Eggs

You will need:

– 1/4 cup of dry rice for every different color

-lidded container for each different color

-food dye

Add 1/4 cup of rice into each lidded container. Add several drops of food dye.

Shake it up to distribute the dye.

Do all of your colors.

The you just add an egg one at a time to the container, put on the lid and shake away!

After we shook them, I would brush off any rice that stuck to them and let them dry in a paper towel. I did find that I needed to add more food dye between eggs to keep the colors richer and more saturated.

They turned out pretty good, and they weren’t messy. Total win in my book!

Spring Gallery Wall Update

The weather isn’t getting warmer quite yet, but the days are are getting longer! The only benefit of daylight savings time is that it’s not longer dark at 5pm.

Anywho, with some hints that we are inching closer to spring, it was time to update the coffee bar gallery wall.

I did a total overhaul this time. The Christmas and Valentine’s walls were the same basic layout with just a few things swapped out.

I added a shelf to the wall this time. I liked that it freed up some space on the actual coffee table. It was a Hobby Lobby clearance find that’s been hanging out without a home for a while, so it was nice to find a spot for it.

I’ve got my letterboard propped up on it, advertising shamrock shakes and my little cow creamer. The shelf also gave a spot for us to display our French press instead of having it hiding behind the mugs like before.

I still have my Mary & Martha tiered tray holding my mugs. I swapped them back to all white for this set up. I have the tray on top of a lazy Susan so I can spin it and easily reach everything.

I wanted to add some different shapes to balance out all of the rectangular signs, so I added the galvanized clock that I had elsewhere in the house and this cute little planter I found in Target’s garden section.

I made the “I don’t do mornings” breadboard, “enjoy the little things” reverse canvas, and “fresh luck” chalkboard using Chalk Couture.

I tried to stick with a neutrals and green theme to help carry me from St. Patrick’s day right through Easter up until summer. I will probably update the “fresh luck” board to Easter and then something more neutrally spring. Part of what I live about Chalk Couture is that I can update so easily and quickly whenever I want.

#TBT: Cheap and Easy Drapery Rods

On my last #TBT post, I shared our dining room. In this post, I show how I made super easy and cheap drapery rods for our bay window.

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Because of the way our bay windows are set up in the dining room, I knew typical drapery rods would not work, so I started thinking of what I could do instead.

Here is what I came up with:


With just some of these simple, cheap-o rods and some PVC pipe, I was able to create a rod for each of the 3 windows for only about $10 total!

Here’s what I did:

I bought two pieces of the 1″ PVC Pipe.  For the size of these windows, I could use the one pipe for the large window and the other for the smaller two.  Remember, the pipe only needs to be long enough to cover the open space between the curtains.

I spray painted the pipes using my old stand by, oil rubbed bronze.

Then I checked them against the rods to see where I needed to cut it.

Once I had the pieces cut I could fit the rods inside and connect them.  This is an important this to remember when picking out the sizes for the rods and pipe.  You will want to make sure that the pipe is at least one size up from the rod.  For example, a 3/4″ rod for a 1″pipe.  You will need the extra space to get the rod to fit nicely.

Then all that was left to do was to slip the draperies on and hang them!  So simple!

How To Season A Chalkboard

Have you ever had this problem?

You write something on a chalkboard only to have it continue to leave its mark long after it’s been erased?

Well, good news! Preventing this “ghosting” is super easy!

Whenever you get a new chalkboard, you will want to “season” it. (No salt & pepper required!)

Check out this video I put together to show how easy it is!

Seasoning with chalk is my go to method. It’s quick and easy. Plus, if I want to keep a more “vintage” kind of look, I skip wiping my board clean.

Waxing is the method I use exclusively with my Chalk Couture projects. This is because in addition to preventing ghosting, it also helps protect the longevity of my transfers.

There you have it! Two super simple methods to season your chalkboard and prepare them for your latest creation!

#TBT: Facelift

One of the places that has seen the most dramatic of transformations this spring/summer would be the outside of our house.  Today, I am going to show you around some of those changes on the “face” of the house.

When we moved in, our house looked like this:

From a distance, not bad.  But the closer you’d look the more issues you’d see…like duct taped gutters, super faded shutters, and a very banged up front door.

Over the last couple of summers we did a couple little things, like repainting the columns and the handrail and updating the porch lights.  However, there was still so much more to do…

Earlier this spring, we contacted a local handyman service to fix and clean our gutters.  Let’s just say that was the beginning of a very long list of things they have done for us!  Pretty much everything in this post (plus much, much more!) was completed by them, and I could not be more pleased with the work they did for us.

So the “facelift” was started with repairing and cleaning our gutters, so we no longer had things that looked like this hanging around:

They also power-washed our entire house for us, which was fabulous.  While they were up on our roof doing that, they also took down our shutters.  They painted them black and rehung them for us.  It made such a HUGE difference!  See?

It also quickly drew attention to our ugly front door.  You see, we started out with a white, dented door and a maroon framed screen door.  However, earlier in the year, the screen door kept getting stuck so we had taken it off, but it’s frame was still hanging out.  It was a really cute look we had going on.

So next on the agenda was to fix that whole situation.  We picked out a GORGEOUS door from Lowes, and ended up replacing the entire transom as well.  And when I say “we”, I of course mean our wonderful handymen.

Ah, LOVE!

This door is probably my favorite improvement we have done for the whole house.

Also hanging out on the porch are my wicker chairs and table, lanterns, and faithful squirrel companion.  He has been around since we bought the house and is always around to greet us when we come home.   

The chairs were purchased for $20 off of Craigslist when we first moved in.  They were originally white, and were spray painted brown for their original home on the back porch.

When they were moved to the front porch more recently, I painted them black to match the shutters and new door.

The lights inside of the lantern were purchased on clearance this year from Walmart.  What I love about them versus the real candles I had in there before is that they are programmable, so I can have them automatically come on every day.  This is especially awesome for those times we leave the house and do not leave the porch lights on.  It is super dark, but with these guys, I can see!

So that is our house’s “facelift”!

Check back soon to see what else we have been up to!