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

Blending your wines

Why blend your homemade wine, with bonus Tea wine recipe!

Why blend your homemade wine, with bonus Tea wine recipe!

Today was a racking my wine day, I racked the Blackberry I started on 1/23/16 and the Tea wine I started on 2/14/16, and I realized I haven’t talked much about blending wines. you would be missing out on some awesome wines if you did not give this a try.

When I made my Blackberry wine I reused my blackberry mash to make a lighter gallon of wine, to use for topping off when racking, do to volume loss (dead lees and sediment on bottom of carboy), this lighter version when tasted at racking was REALLY good and sweeter then the 3 gallons of my full bodied blackberry. I made the decision to rack all 4 gallons plus the extra growler I had into a bucket to blend and then rack into my carboys, my outcome should be a more balanced wine.

I will caution you however to measure each wine in small amounts in a glass and taste and adjust ratios to your liking before blending.

If you ever have a wine that lacks complexity consider blending, I made my Tea wine for the single purpose of doing this, I felt the extra tannin would help a wine that lacked that. Now I have another problem! the batch I made and racked today turned out so good on it’s own I fear when it clears and goes to bottle we are going to just want to drink it! Now what started as an experiment wine for blending just might end up on my regular rotation. I’m adding the recipe I used if you want to give it a try, I feel it will be a fun one to experiment a bit with, I’m going to make another small batch and add some Jasmine Tea as well.

Tea Wine 

For one gallon of wine

  • 12 Tea bags
  • 2 lb sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 lb raisins
  • 1 tsp Acid blend
  • 1/2 pkt Champagne yeast

Steep Tea for 30 min in one gallon of water, remove tea bags and add sugar, syrup, and raisins, bring back to boil and simmer 30 min. Cool and add acid blend and stir. pitch yeast. Pour mixture into carboy and place airlock. Rack at 90 days, and rack again every 30 to 60 days until clear. When clear rack and bottle.

I’m really excited about Tea wine, at first racking I got a little taste and It was like nothing I have ever had. If I had to describe it (at it’s young age) it was like a sweet white with the back note of caramel and tea so it did not stay to sweet on the tongue and quite completed for such a young wine.  I’m loving the way it taste now, so I will bottle as soon as mine clears.  I can’t wait to explore this recipe more and try a variety of teas! 

UPDATE: I have made so much of this Tea Wine! It has become our house wine, and I think it might be my husbands favorite he won’t share it with anyone but me, and anytime I ask him what he wants to drink….his answer is always Tea Wine.  I did a lavender infused that was lovely but we love the basic original recipe and I always have a few gallons going.


Love Hope

Cheesy sausage and pasta – one pot meal

cheesy sausage and pasta - one pot meal

cheesy sausage and pasta – one pot meal

 I love a one pot meal that’s quick and really yummy! This fits the bill perfectly, plus it is easily adjusted to fit what you have on hand. Add bonus…it’s one of my husband’s favorites.   



  • 8-12 oz. smoked sausage
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/chilies (Rotel)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz. pasta (about 3 cups dry)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterrey jack (or whatever cheese you like)
  • 1 whole green onion


  1. Slice the smoked sausage and add it to a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the sausage over medium heat until it is nicely browned (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Dice the onion and add it to the skillet. Continue to saute until the onion has softened (about 5 minutes). Add the can of diced tomatoes with chiles and the chicken broth. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits off of the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and make sure it is all submerged under the liquid. Place a lid on the skillet and allow the mixture to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about ten minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir once or twice while the pasta cooks to keep it from sticking.
  4. Stir in the fresh spinach, one cup at a time, until wilted. If you add it all at once, the skillet will be too full to stir. Keep the heat on while adding the spinach, so the liquid will continue to simmer and thicken.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, replace the lid, and let it sit for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Slice the green onions and sprinkle them over top. Serve hot!

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers with jalapeno Jelly dipping sauce

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers with
jalapeno Jelly dipping sauce

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers with
jalapeno Jelly dipping sauce

Let’s talk about Chicken for just a minute, everyone has their preference to white or dark meat, so do as you will, for me and the hubby…well, we enjoy and juicer dark meat, and yes I know why it’s so moist and juicy..more fat! That is just fine with us, it’s still a great choice, all things in moderation right? Plus I think I get extra points for baking them.


  • 2-3 pounds boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut in strips
  • 2 cups Panko Bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 eggs


Preheat oven to 450, and line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Mix together in a bowl Panko and all spices, in a separate bowl slightly beat eggs.

Take chicken strips and dip in egg, then coat in Panko spice mixture, pat on well to make even coat.

lay on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minuets.

Serve Hot with this Jalapeno jelly for dipping

Or if Jalapeno is not your thing try this yummy Sweet BBQ Sauce


Love Hope


3 Amazing Cocktails to make with Ginger Beer


Ginger Beer

Three AMAZING cocktails made with Ginger Beer you must try! along with great bonus recipes for making your own Ginger Beer, Hope makes it Fun and Easy!

I started making Ginger Beer about a year ago, at first I think my family was a bit skeptical, none of us had tried it. Then came our first Dark and Stormy and we never looked back. It’s delicious all on it’s own, but then in a cocktail something spectacular happens. It’s pricey to purchase but can be made very inexpensively. Give it a try! 

We will start with the Cocktail that launched a thousand gallons of Ginger Beer being made at my house….
My Husband LOVES this, so refreshing! 

Learn to make Ginger Beer with Hope HERE  Ginger Beer

Dark and Stormy


  • 2 oz Dark Run
  • 5 oz Ginger Beer (or to taste)
  • Lime wedge
  • ICE


Squeeze lime wedge over ice, add Rum, then Ginger Beer.


Moscow Mule


  • 2 oz Vodka (for a Kentucky Mule add Bourbon)
  • 6-8 oz Ginger Beer
  • 1/2 of a Lime
  • ICE


Add 2 or 3 large ice cubes, Squeeze lime into Collins glass (or copper mug) and drop in half lime., then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer.


Rhubarb and Ginger beer cocktail – Hope’s Version


  • 1/2 oz Rhubarb Ginger Syrup (my amazing recipe)
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 Lime wedge
  • ICE
  • 6 oz  (or to taste) Ginger Beer
  • 1 sprig Mint leaves


Squeeze lime wedge over ice, and drop in lime wedge. Add Rhubarb Ginger Syrup, and Vodka. Fill glass with Ginger  Beer, and add mint to garnish.


 For more Ginger Beer recipes go here Hope’s Homemade Ginger Beer

Enjoy a refreshing Cocktail!

Love Hope