Merry Merry: Holiday Decorating!

Merry Merry!  It’s that time of year, when Christmas music is blaring on the radio (can’t say I mind that) there are pretty lights and holiday cheer everywhere!!  No matter what is going on in your life…there is something so special about this time of year.  Coming home to a house filled with Christmas lights, garland and a lovely smelling Christmas tree makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!!  One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to CRAFT!  To take bits and pieces of things I already own and make them even more fabulous and festive.  This year I scored a load of magnolia leaves from a local tree (ah thank you) and have given my standard old garland and wreaths a fabulous refresh!  What better place to gather a bit of inspiration for your updated holiday decor then…Pinterest (duh)

wood box(source)

joy wreath(source)






table tree(source)



brown paper(source)

Spread some holiday cheer!
~ Jillian

What we Ate: Thanksgiving Edition

Turkey hang-over is Totally a thing!  We have officially burned thru the leftovers and are back to normal life (ish) and I must admit I’m missing a few of those oh-so-yummy thanksgiving treats!!  We do things a little different in our family because almost everyone is Gluten Free.  Not wanting to deprive ourselves of the traditional menu items, we’ve adapted them to be healthier, gluten free but just as yummy!  So here is a recap of what we ate (and what caused us to be in such Gluten Free / Turkey Day bliss!!)

Oven Roasted Bone-in Turkey Breast & Crock-pot Turkey Breast

As a recovering vegetarian taking on the turkey was a BIT overwhelming!  We all tend to go for the white meat so I decided to go the turkey breast route (a little less intimidating but just as yummy!)  I found a great recipe online for a slow cooker turkey breast (and the slow cooker is TOTALLY my jam) so i gave it a whirl, but as a back-up i made one in the oven too!  Well great success…they both turned out delicious!  The crock-pot turkey completely fell right off the bone and the texture was just delicious!!
crock pot turkey
Gluten Free Dressing

This is a family tradition for sure!  My mom simply adapted our classic recipe by using gluten free bread in place of the usual stuff!  You can easily switch out a GF option for your favorite recipe to make this menu item a little healthier!

Gluten Free Spicy Mac n Cheese

My sister-in-law has perfected this one and it is DELICIOUS!  I won’t pretend that this is a super healthy dish BUT by making a few changes (like using GF pasta and switching out the sour cream with greek yogurt) we’ve eased up a little on the calories and fat without sacrificing any of the decedent yummy taste!

– 3 cups uncooked GF elbow pasta
– 6 tbsp butter
– 4 tbsp GF flour (substitute with cornstarch)
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp (ish) salt
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 1 cup sour cream (substitute with Greek yogurt!!)
– 2 1/2 cups milk
– 3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
– 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


- Cook pasta until al dente, drain and set aside
– Preheat oven to 350°
– In a large pan, under medium heat, melt butter and add garlic powder
– Add the flour, salt & pepper.  Whisk until smooth for about a minute
– Stir in milk & sour cream.  Whisk until smooth.
– Stir in the cheese (save 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese)
– Add the macaroni & mix well
– Pour into casserole dish, sprinkle with reserved cheese and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes
– Serve HOT and enjoy


Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Back to a good old classic for these babies!  We used standard potatoes this year, but you could easily make a mash with red potatoes or even sweet potatoes for a yummy alternative!

Brussel Sprouts

I consider it a GIANT win to be able to convert some very picky / non-vegetable eaters to brussels sprout lovers!!  That is a tough veggie to crack for some but i was determined!!  I have actually had requests from former non believers for my not-so-traditional sprouts recipe.  Nothing a little parmesan and capers won’t do to win over any food lovers heart!

Tangy Cranberries

This is another family tradition that we’ve adapted over the years.  We take a simple cranberry sauce and flip it on its head with the fresh taste of citrus and the spice of a little jalapeño!


- 1 small red onion, quartered
– 1 tbsp jalapeño pepper slices (adjust this to your level of spice)
– 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
– 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
– 1 cup whole dried cranberries
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– 1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
– 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
– 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp ground black pepper


- In a food processor, combine the red onion, jalapeño peppers and cilantro.
– Pulse until finely chopped.
– Add the fresh and dried cranberries, then pulse again until coarsely chopped and Set aside.
– In a large bowl, whisk lime juice, honey, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.
– Add cranberry mixture, then toss well.
– Serve as a side dish, salsa or even as a heated sauce

cranberry sauce

Butternut Squash

This is a personal favorite of mine!  Simply roast up cubes of butternut squash (tossed in coconut oil), add in walnuts, rosemary & your favorite crumbly cheese (my sister-in-laws favorite is Gorgonzola) and Enjoy!!

Collard Greens

A southern classic!  One of the things i love most about marrying into a southern family is the FOOD!  They have introduced me to so many recipes and dishes that are just to die for!  The collards were cooked down with a little vinegar and spices…delicious!!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m not even sure there is a reason to go into detail here.  A Flourless Chocolate Cake…need i say more?  Decedent, rich, almost like eating a piece of fudge.  DELICIOUS!  Who says being gluten free is no fun…

flourless-chocolate-cake(This is not our actual cake…it didn’t last long enough to snap a pic!)

Cheesecake w/ Homemade Caramel Sauce

Another amazing yummo!  For this one my sister-in-law found a pre-made GF pie crust to save time, which allowed her to make HOMEMADE caramel sauce.  WOW.  Totally worth it!

Now do you understand why i’ve been in a food coma for the past week!  Such a fantastic meal, made even better by sharing it with our amazing family!  (for the record…my niece’s two favorite items were the mac’n’cheese & the chocolate cake) I am not able to pick a favorite…it was all amazing!!


Monday Mantra: confined

Have we all recovered from the turkey coma…a little lingering perhaps?!?  I hope you had a wonderful time with your loved ones!!  This time of year gets so hectic its nice to have time to slow down (between servings of mashed potatoes) to enjoy the things that matter most.  We had a full house and it was wonderful!!  Admittedly its been a tough couple of weeks around here so a little TLC from some of my favorite people was exactly what I needed.  So now that the gravy has dried up and the cranberries are almost gone its time to get back to reality.  BUT even in reality its important to constantly count our blessings and be thankful for the things we have in life that are truly wonderful!

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself”

brick wall

Happy Monday
~ Jillian

{GiveAway!!} – Sister Silver

We love to support handmade and small business here at HSE!  Its even better when we discover these fabulous shops because of something we are in the market for AND when that shop owner is just the sweetest (and an HSE reader)!!

I was looking for a cool mixed metal band to wear between my wedding band and engagement ring and stumbled on the Sister Silver shop.  Beautiful metal work pieces that fit any taste or style!  I was so thrilled when I received my ring and even more thrilled to chat with Randy!  She is a super talented artist with a great positive outlook!!  (she fits right into our “Choose Joy” way of life!!)



metal bracelet


metal bowl

Randy has been making jewelry for more years than many of us have been alive and still plans on continuing the adventure for many years to come. Back in the days when one could still find a mentor, she apprenticed for several years before becoming her own gal, forming a business with her sister in a company called Sisters Silver….which was easy to change to singular form when her sis moved to California. Throughout adventures in metal with her apprenticeship, college classes, private classes, home study and 45 years of practice, she has come into her own being and loves putting all those lessons together in new ways. Now retired to the stage of only working 6-8 hours a day, she never knows what she’ll be doing in her studio—only that she will love it or hate it!  It’s the journey that counts and so much is learned, even from mistakes. It counts in all areas of life, even metalwork!

Randy is just the best and is a regular HSE reader!!  SO as a little treat for her fellow readers she is offering a 10% off discount code through December 5th!!  Just enter the code: SPLITENDS when checking out for your super fabulous discount!!

Happy Shopping
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: Climb

Happy Monday to you.  I hope you are gearing up to fill your hearts with love and your bellies with food this week! (hard to believe its already Thanksgiving!!)  Although we have been faced with plenty of challenges so far this year, we also have so many wonderful reasons to be thankful.  As life gets stressful and busy its so easy to let the challenges take a front row and the blessings straggle behind.  Here at HSE lately we’ve been a bit absent with our posts and we have NOT been good about keeping up with our wonderful readers.
Well….there’s a reason…
we’ve got a mini HSE-er heading our way soon!!  We couldn’t be more excited about our little bundle of joy and we are so thankful that we have the most wonderful support system around us to help us as we enter into this new chapter of our lives.  We are definitely counting our blessings around the Turkey-day table this year.

“You can’t fall if you don’t climb,
But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground”

baby climbing


Lots of Love
~ Jillian & the sprout

Yumm-O: Chicken & Rice Soup

It’s soup season.  I can’t help myself.  Something about the chill in the air and the smell of fall makes me crave warm and yummy soup!!  It’s a great filling meal that is healthy and totally satisfying!  And it meets my MOST important requirement which is easy to make!!  We are no strangers here at HSE to soup recipes…Check out Spicy Chicken Chili, Roasted Red Pepper & Corn Soup, Smokey Southwestern Soup, Cheesy Cauliflower Soup, and Monroe’s Semi-Sissy Chili.  Today’s soup recipe was inspired from a pre-made organic soup i picked up at the grocery store the other day.  It was so yummy and it just hit the spot!!  I knew i needed to figure out how to make my own version so we could have it all the time!!

Chicken & Rice Soup

chicken and rice soup

(image source)

Chicken & Rice Soup


  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice (or your favorite type of rice)
  • chicken or veggie broth
  • water
  • butter
  • paprika
  • garlic
  • cardamon
  • dehydrated red onion (can use fresh red or white onion if you’ve got them!)
  • kale
  • corn
  • salt
  • pepper


  • Prepare the chicken and shred.
    • For me the easiest way to cook chicken for shredding is in the crockpot.  For this recipe I used 8 oz of organic chicken broth, garlic powder, dehydrated red onion, paprika & a dash of cardamon.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2 hours.  Chicken can easily shed with a fork!!
  • In a large stock pot, prepare rice.  Follow directions on the packaging but add a little more liquid then you normally would and include about a tbsp of butter.
  • Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in corn and kale.  Also add carrots or any other veggies you have on hand.  I usually use frozen because its what i have on hand!!
  • Add shredded chicken and another 8 oz container of chicken broth.Stir and simmer
  • Continue to add water or additional broth until it is to your desired consistency.
  • Continue to simmer and stir in 1 tbsp of butter.
  • Taste often!!  Add additional seasoning (garlic, paprika & cardamon) and salt & pepper to taste.  There is so much flavor already in the chicken and broth that it really does not need to simmer for long!  Use your taste buds to decide but last time i made this I simmered for about 15-20 minutes!
  • Great on its own…or add greek yogurt, shredded cheese and crackers.

Yummo!!  The leftovers are also fantastic.  Do be advised that the rice does soak up a lot of the liquid so when you go in for round two, either add some additional broth or even eat it as more of a rice casserole!

~ Jillian


Yumm-O: Semi-Sissy Chili

It’s November.  Let me say that one more time…just in case you weren’t listening.  IT’S NOVEMBER!!!  How in the world did that happen so quickly?  The temperature is starting to drop here in Georgia (slowly but surely) and with that comes an absolute need to have warm, yummy comfort foods!  Foods that fill you up and make you feel nice and warm inside!!  This is a family classic that has made the rounds!!  Its hearty and delicious but easy to make and not too heavy on the waist line!  Not quite sure where the name came from…but its awesome and makes it taste even better…just cuz!!  Please enjoy…

Monroe’s Semi-Sissy Chili


Monroe’s Semi-Sissy Chili


  • 2 lbs Ground Turkey
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans (or 2 if you are a bean lover!)
  • 1 large onion (or dehydrated red onion is lovely too!!)
  • 2 large garlic pads (or handful of garlic powder)
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (or 4 red chili peppers)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed camino seeds (can omit if you can’t find them!)
  • 1 tsp cayan pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp dry salt (this is our favorite brand of super good for you celtic salt)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (we LOVE apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 1 dash worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp masaharina flour
  • 15oz tomato sauce


  • Cook ground turkey in a LARGE pot (this is a one pot wonder kids!!)
  • Once turkey is fully cooked, make a hole in the center of the pot and melt butter
  • Add onion and garlic to brown in butter and then stir in with meat
  • Add enough water to stop the meat from burning or sticking to the bottom
  • Add chili powder, oregano, camino, cayenne, mustard, salt, vinegar, tabasco & worcestershire
  • Boil & then reduce to simmer for a few minutes
  • Add masaharina & paprika
  • Cook 30 minutes; taste often!! (Add Cayenne, Mustard & Chili for heat; Honey, vinegar & masaharina if too much heat)
  • Add Tomato Sauce and cook an additional 15 minutes
  • Great additions: Greek yogurt, avocado, cheese and cilantro

Easy to make, yummy and filling!  Double or triple the recipe for lots of leftovers (freezes great too!) and ENJOY!

~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: perfect

Happy Monday to you!  I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed some lovely weather…here in Georgia it was BEAutiful!!  We had a weekend of ups and downs…changed plans and wrenches in our original list of things to do.  BUT in the end it turned out to be lovely just the same.  Just goes to show that when life throws you a curve ball, rolling with it can lead you to an even better outcome.  Here’s hoping you can take that with you thru this week, and remember that even if things aren’t as you have planned, there is still always room to find the good.  Find the Joy in the every day and you will discover why you are moving down the path you are on.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”


Choose Joy
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: Love

Good Morning!  I hope you had a lovely weekend.  We spent some of our time catching up with great friends (who also happen to be neighbors…lucky us!)  What I love about getting together with friends is learning about the things in life that make us different!  From our backgrounds and family history to beliefs and spiritual practices.  It is so interesting to find out more about the people you love spending time with!!  What I realized this weekend is that no matter where you come from or what religion you are or what your main focus in life is, there seems to be one common thread that pulls us all together…LOVE!!  And as long as we do all things with that intention behind us, life will be good!!

“Love is the common thread”


Do all things with Love
~ Jillian

Monday Mantra: gratitude

Life has been so busy lately it has been hard to keep up! (i’m sure i am not the only one that feels that way!!)  It feels like Monday’s are coming around faster then ever!  But in the busiest times of life it seems even more important to pause and be thankful for the blessings in our lives.  With a busy life undoubtably comes rushing around and not feeling like you have the time to stop and breath.  The feeling of never quite being caught up with your to do list.

So this week we should pause, as often as possible to take a nice deep breath and count the blessings in our lives.  Take stock of all the wonderful things that make it possible for you to keep on trucking!  As we head into the busiest time of the year (can anyone else believe that thanksgiving is right around the corner??) which makes it even more important to stop and smell the roses!!

“gratitude changes everything”


Happy Monday
~ Jillian