Easy Banana Pudding Cake

This is a great, quick and yummy way to use up some over rip Bananas, so moist and flavorful!

You could also do the yellow cake portion from scratch, but today I was all about something fast….it’s 105 out today! I think this will be a great way to top off our Sunday dinner of Pork ribs, Corn on the Cobb, and pasta salad.  Once you taste it you won’t feel the least bit guilty about the box cake mix….Enjoy!

Yes I own 16 place settings of different colored fiesta wear,(among a staggering amount of various serving wear and vintage pieces) and I feel genuine anxiety if their is a color I don’t own.  I have been collecting for about 37 years and I use them daily. I just love all the happy color! And it all looks even better with cake on it so lets do this! yummmm CAKE!

Banana Pudding Cake

  • 2 very, very ripe medium bananas, roughly mashed.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (4-serving size) package of banana cream instant pudding powder, vanilla bean pudding is great also.
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • ¼ cup olive oil, can sub veg oil if needed.
  • Optional Icing: I like to drizzle cream cheese frosting, or dust with powdered sugar.



  • Preheat oven to 350F, with rack on lower-middle position. Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix and instant pudding powder. Add eggs, milk, sour cream, and oil. Whisk just until incorporated.  Fold in bananas just until combined; don’t over-mix.
  • Pour into prepared bundt pan.
  • Bake 35-45 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few tender crumbs attached. My oven takes 35 minuets, so keep an eye out. Don’t over bake.
  • Cool completely in pan on rack. Once cool, Invert and remove cake.
  •  Frost if desired.

Love Hope

Baked Beans

 These Beans!

I have to give full disclosure here…I was never a big fan of baked beans…until these! Thick and rich and BACON! Take them to your next event and you will come home with an empty pan and everyone asking for the recipe. It’s a great feeling when you walk in and people see what you have and go YES! I was hoping you were bringing your Bacon Beans!


  • 8 slices bacon, halved
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
  • ¾ cup barbecue sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup distilled or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325°F. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about ¼ cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.
  2. Add onions to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients).
  3. Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

Enjoy! Love Hope

Hope’s Strawberry Tea Wine

Hope’s original recipe for delicious Strawberry Tea Wine! Make it! you won’t be sorry!

How do you pick your next wine creation?

My process  goes like this…..What do I love that I want to turn into wine(Blackberry), what is in season(plum), What fruit can I get for free(Pear), what do I get the most complements on(Mead), what is so delicious that I can keep up the demand for(Mead,Strawberry,Blackberry), what is the family favorite(Mead), what is an interesting science project?(Tea)

The above picture of my current stash is a representation of this, it may also be how it came to be that I currently have 8 different wines brewing right now! I take very good notes on each wine but with that many going at once and another batch of Mead to soon join it, remembering what gets racked when, can get confusing!

A visual aid is how I stay on track, I LOVE my chalkboard!  

I started making Tea wine to blend with some of my fruit wines that needed some tannin and complexity. It also turned out to be great all on its own, so on my first rack of the small 2 gallon batch Strawberry I got a little taste and just new it would be great with that Tea. I topped it up each time I racked it with the Tea wine.

These two recipes are my own and have worked well for me, it may seem like a lot of work to start the tea wine 6 months before you start your Strawberry but if you start your Tea wine in the winter when you have no fresh fruit it works well. If your like me you will find you like Tea wine and just always have a batch brewing and some bottles on hand then if you need it your covered.

A chilled glass of Strawberry tea wine on a hot summer day…..refreshing and delicious!


Let’s get started!



Strawberry Tea Wine – 5 gallon

15 lb Frozen Strawberry’s

10 lb sugar

10 tsp acid blend

2 lb raisins chopped

1/2 lb dates chopped

1 tsp Tannin

1 tsp yeast nutrient

1 pkt yeast, lalvin 71B-1122

Place all ingredients except yeast in bucket. Crush fruit with hands and cover with 2 gallons boiling water. Stir with wooden or plastic paddle to dissolve sugar and simultaneously mash the strawberries. When cooled to 85 degrees F., add yeast. Cover and stir daily. Strain on 7th day, transfer to secondary fermentation vessel, top up to 5 gallon, fit fermentation trap, and set aside. Rack after 30 days and again after additional 30 days. At every racking use Tea wine to top back up to 5 gallon. Bottle when clear. Allow to age at least 6 months. Will improve to one year.


Tea wine – 1 Gallon

8 to 10 tea bags (good quality black tea, I have also used half black, half Jasmine)

2 lb sugar

1/2 cup Brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 lb raisins

1 tsp acid blend

1 pkt yeast, Lalvin 71B-1122 (champagne yeast works well also)

Steep tea in 1/2 gallon of water for 30 minutes, then add sugar’s and raisins and bring back to boil, simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and add acid blend, mix and pitch yeast. Add all to carboy and place bubblier. rack at 90 days, then again at 90 days. after this you can bottle or just use to top off or blend with other wines.



Love Hope




Hope’s Garden Bounty Salad


A simple, and so yummy way to use your garden bounty!

A simple, and so yummy way to use your garden bounty!

Don’t you just love a garden bounty! Something so satisfying about growing your own veggies or maybe it’s just my farm girl DNA. This is my new favorite salad, it looks and taste, like summer feels.



2 Cucumber

4 med Tomato

1/2 Red Onion

3 ripe Avocado

1 ball fresh Mozzarella (cubed)


Juice of one lemon

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/4 – 1/2 cup Cilantro finely chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste


Chop all ingredients, place in bowl and mix lightly. Blend dressing and stir in.

YUM! and is so lovely with some planked Salmon, or grilled steak.

Love Hope

Hope’s Goulash


It’s comfort food weather! Fall is the best season, and the foods that fit the season are some of my favorites.

I grew up eating Goulash, it was a favorite comfort food. Deep savory flavor that you can adapt to your own taste. Top with cheese and eat with some crusty french bread….I think I just drooled a little. It smells fantastic! 

This is also easily adapted to the crock pot, just brown Onions and meat, then dump all ingredients in crock pot and set on low


1 – 2 Tbsp oil
1 large~ onion, chopped
3 large cloves, garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef cooked & drained
1 lb Italian sausage cooked & drained (I like hot Italian sausage)
1 – 32 oz beef broth
2 cans 14.5 oz each – chopped tomatoes & tomato sauce
1 tsp each – garlic salt, chili powder, garlic powder, Onion powder,Paprika, salt & pepper – or to taste
1 Tbsp each – Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce &  Brown sugar
1 – 1 1/4 lb( about 2 1/2 cups ) – elbow macaroni


In a dutch oven, add some oil and brown the onions until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Crumble the ground beef & Italian sausage and cook until no longer pink. Drain and return to pot.

Stir in the tomatoes, sauce, seasonings, broth & Worcestershire sauce. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer & stir in the macaroni and cover pot. Continue simmering for about 30 minutes.

 Remove from heat and let sit for 15 – 20 minutes. Add more seasoning if necessary. If too thick, add more sauce or Broth.

Love Hope

Sweet Tomato Jam

sweet tomato jam

I love late Summer, early Fall harvest! My tomato plants went crazy, so I made a batch of this crazy good tomato jam! I was caning up another batch of Jalapeno pepper jelly Because we discovered how amazing it is on feta cheese, bacon burgers and now we are down to the last jar! so you know if I’m haling out the caner I’m going to make the most of it. So tomato jam it is!  Boy is it worth it! I can’t wait to try it on a burger!


  • 4 Lb Ripe tomato (use your garden harvest, of any variety of your liking)
  • 3 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp ground Ginger
  • 3 TBSP low or no suger pectin
  • 6-8 half pint jars


  • Quarter Tomatoes and put in food processor, pulse until crushed. (Skin seeds and all.)
  • Transfer the tomato puree to a medium pot set over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, and ground ginger.
  • Cook to boil, stirring frequently, turn down to simmer, stir occasionally, until the mixture is thick and jam like, this will take about an hour and a half to two hours. When thick and jam like add pectin and boil for one minuet.
  • Ladle hot jam into jars and water bath can for 20 min.

NOTES: This is a great base recipe super yummy on it’s own or spice it up with your favorite sweet or spicy combo, or add Bourbon and Bacon!

Love Hope

The Chair Affair

My love affair with old chairs continues, but is yet to be explained…to myself, or otherwise.  I’m OK with that, the heart wants what the heart wants, and I want old, beautifully crafted chairs!


It did break my heart a bit to have to paint this one, but it had to much damage to the vainer, so chalk paint and distressing was the way to go…but still it made me sad to have to do it. So now I owe it to her to paint her up real pretty.


This makeover went fairly fast, as in a one day project. I took steel wool to it after taking the seat off and washing it down. The beauty of doing a distressed chalk paint finish is very little prep work! I gave it three coats of chalk paint, took the sander to it for my ease of distressing it in a flash, I just use a light hand and take a little finish off at a time. Then I rubbed a light stain over it, washing it off quickly with a damp cloth so it just looks like the paint has yellowed over time. The finale touch was a nice coat of wax.


A new life for this little beauty!

UPDATE! I recovered the seat in tooled leather, I love needle point but it did not fit with my decor. I love the way it turned out and I will find another use for the needle point. 


Love Hope



Hope’s Sweet Dreams Salve


This Sweet Dreams Salve, was a request from my daughter, who along with being a busy mom, goes to school full time, while working full time. She can sometimes have trouble sleeping, she told me my grandson is going through some growing pains (leg aches) that can disrupt his sleep as well so we are going to see if this helps.

After making this I wanted to see how the salve felt and rubbed some onto my feet and the extra into my hands, going on with the rest of my day I headed to the garden store to pick up some plants, while standing in line I got a complement on how nice I smelled!


  • 1 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 Tbs grated Bees wax
  • Equal parts lavender, orange, peppermint, cinnamon and thieves oil essential oils

Heat first 3 ingredients in double boiler until just melted, let cool a few minutes and stir in essential oils.


Pour in clean jars.

Rub into feet at night and slip on a pair of cotton socks.

These oils will calm nerves, are balancing,  grounding, and I through in the thieves to help support immune system.

Nightie Night!


Love Hope

Did you enjoy making your homemade salve? check out my Of Roses and Chocolate body cream

Nightstand makeover


I know I have expressed my love of thrift stores before, but this project is going to give some insight into why. If your creative and looking for that next project, or just need some good home decor or furniture the thrift store is the best place to start. You will fine unique stuff, and often high quality goods that just needs a bit of a face lift or in some cases just a good scrubbing.

I found this night stand for .99 cents, now you might ask why on earth would you want that…well I will tell you! It’s 1948 and solid wood, and yes it’s beat up and ugly now, but it’s solid and the hardest part for me was deciding if I wanted to redo it to match the other pieces in the room it was going in or to do something artsy.

.99 cent Night stand makeover

.99 cent Night stand makeover

I started writing about this at 6:30 am because my husband made me stop using my power sander at that hour, he did not feel our neighbors would be as excited to see what was under that stain as I was….But hey! look how far I got before he suggested I waited a couple hours.


I think I waited until 8 am to start back up, your welcome neighborhood!

You can see her taking on her new life!   3 coats of paint, and stain for the top and drawers, I finished it off with a good coat of wax.


I think she has a few good years left!



I love the way it turned out and it only cost me .99 cents! I already had the paint and stain on hand and about 2 hours of work.

I think she looks really sweet all dressed up!



Tips: I hunt the miss mixed and returns bin at the paint counter at my local home store and pick up paint and stain for .50 cents a can. I look every time I go for colors I don’t have or ones I use often….I have a bit of a stock pile.

I hit the thrift store in the first hour open, and go often, it’s ok to ask if they have any more of something in the back, only so much room on the floor so they often will.

Be nice and make friends (in life) and at the thrift store…

Happy thrifting!

Update! I found it’s cousin the desk!


Love Hope

How to make Hot Press Soap

 Hot Press Soap

I’ve been using melt and pour soap for awhile now and enjoyed adding my own essential oils and add in’s to make great smelling good for your skin soap. It was fun for awhile…but the crafting junkie in me wanted more… I knew their was something more out there, more crafty, and yes…more dangerous. Making soap…real soap with Lye, I would make it from scratch and know exactly what was in it, and it would be satisfying and glorious!

I took the advice of bloggers before me and did my homework. Google it….Pinterest the heck out of it! Read about working with Lye and decide if you are comfortable with that. I did all of the above and still wanted to do it even more so…well, because it mixes two of my favorite things, crafting and science.

Working with Lye:

  • Use a Lye calculator, this is a must! no matter how trusted the recipe, even ones I post, mistakes can happen when writing a recipe so just be safe and run it through the calculator.  It will tell you just how much Lye and water to use for the oil mix you are using. it will also allow you to make your own recipe based on what oils you have on hand or would like to use.


  • Respect The Lye. When handling lye, Protective gear is a must, gloves, long sleeves, Eye wear or goggles, in a well ventilated area or outside. No kids or animals around. Have a spray bottle of Vinegar near by, it neutralizes the lye if any should spill. When I’m done working with the Lye I spray down my whole work area with vinegar just to be sure. I also keep a sink full of soapy vinegar water to toss utensils into as I finish with them, even disposable ones to make sure they are safe to throw out.

So now that’s out of the way, let’s have some fun making soap!


Fat Amount
% in
Castor Oil 2 2.56
Coconut Oil 16 20.51
Olive Oil 30 38.46
Sunflower Oil 30 38.46
Total Weight 78

Lye                       10.68 oz

Water                   27 oz

Essential oil          1 oz  (for blending in just before it goes in mold.)


The thrift store is a great place to find supply’s for cheep if you don’t have some of these things, I just happen to have an extra ceramic insert to my Crockpot so its dedicated to soap and candle making.


Stick blender

Food Scale



Old long sleeve shirt

Bowls or containers (for measuring out oils, water & lye)

Soap mold (you can buy fancy, or line a box with parchment paper and cut into bars, I use a silicone loaf pan)

Spray bottle filled with vinegar

Step 1

  • Gather all your supply’s, and run your recipe through the lye calculator.
  • Using your scale weigh out all your oils first. (I have a digital that I can weigh my bowl first and reset my scale to 0, if you don’t have this feature you will need to weigh your bowl first and subtract that weight from your total number. The weight of each oil needs to be exact.
  • After you weigh your oils you can go ahead pour them in your Crockpot and place on low.

Step 2

  • Weigh out your water, and place in a heat safe container (you will be adding your lye to this, ALWAYS add the lye to the water, NEVER the other way around a very dangerous reaction will occur.) I use a half gallon mason jar.
  • If doing this inside, place container with measured water in the sink and open window and or turn on fan.
  • Put on all your protective gear and have your spray bottle of vinegar near by(just in case of spill, vinegar neutralizes Lye. lay out newspaper under the scale just in case and carefully measure out your lye. I have a double sink so my Lye water jar is on one side and I have soapy vinegar water on the other side so I just toss my dirty items into it as a go.
  • Slowly pour your lye into the measured water, and give a careful stir just to mix, then walk away, you don’t want to breath the fumes, give it 10-15 minutes, it will heat up and start to cool down in that time frame.
  • With your protective gear on, carefully pour your lye water into the oils in your crockpot, put anything that touched the lye into your soapy vinegar water. Then use your stick blender (not turned on) to give a good stir first, then turn on stick blender for a minuet or so, then turn it off and use it to hand stir, go back and forth like this with using the blender and hand stirring (you could just use the stick blender the whole time but it will burn up the motor on your blender) until you have reached trace. Trace is when it looks like thick pudding and if you drizzle some of the mixture on top of it’s self it stays on top without melting back in right away. This could take less then 5 min or 15 + depending on the oils you use.

Step 3

  •       Now that you have achieved trace, put the lid on the Crockpot and set the timer for one hour.
  •       Package up and safely store any remaining lye. Spray down your work area with vinegar (just to be safe)
  •       Remove your safety gear, and you can use this time to clean up, ready your Essential oil and or add ins.
  •        Prep your molds, if not silicone, line with parchment paper.
  •       Your soap will cook and bubble up around the sides at first then claps in on its self, I don’t stir it while going through this process unless it looks like it will bubble out of the Crockpot, then a small stir is just fine to keep it in. never leave it unattended, or you could have a mess.
Look! I'm making soap!

Look! I’m making soap!

Step 4

  • After an hour, it should all look cooked (see pic) if not you can go a bit longer just watch carefully.
  •  Give it all a good stir.
  • The timing of your add in’s is a little tricky, you want your soap to cool a bit so it does not burn off the scent, but hot enough to get in the mold.
  • When the timing is right stir in your Essential oil, stir it good, and spoon into mold.
  • Let set in mold 24 hours before removing, or I put mine in the fridge for 2-3 hours if i’m impatient.
  • Take out of mold and, If using a loaf mold, cut your bars in desired size, and stand on end to finish curing.
  • You can use a bar right away it’s fine to use but you want them to get nice and hard.
  • If I wrap them at all, I use paper so they can continue to cure and harden.
Hopeshomemade Soap

Hopeshomemade Soap

TIPS: When you are taking the soap out of the Crockpot, I like to divide it into smaller bowls so I can experiment with scents and add in’s.

Look for more recipes to come with fun add in’s, scents, and color…and how to get fancy with it!

Love Hope

If you enjoyed the science of making soap, check out my reasons for making wine! Hope’s top 5 reasons for making wine