COOKING: Rival® Skillet has saved my potlucks!

Pin It Moms-it happens to us all... "potluck season". Its the time of year when it seems you are doing two potlucks a week, between girl scouts celebrations, school events, church meetings and sports dinners. And the must have tool for every potluck is the slow cooker. If you want to bring a hot meal and keep it hot at the serving table, just plug that baby in and off you go to socialize. Now, being the foodie that I am, I was getting tired of bringing stews, chilis and macaroni dishes to these things. I wanted to do a baked mostacciolli the night before and then heat it up at the table, or a baked lasagne. And I asked myself, there probably is something out there that is a square pan warmer that I can pop a baking pan in to heat up electrically. Well, after doing some research, I even found something better than that!

The Rival® 16" X 12" Skillet w/ Removable Pan

I made stuffed shells with this the night before in the removable, oven-safe pan. I wrapped it in tinfoil, popped it in the fridge and went to work. On may way to the potluck after work, I grabbed it, popped it in the warmer bottom and set it to 300˚ to get it hot. Then came by later after set up was done and lowered it to "warm". People gobbled up my piping hot stuffed shells in minutes. And I had a no stress day getting to the potluck and setting it up. I guarantee you this will be used for parties this summer. And the great thing is, you can use it to cook stuff in, right in the pan! So when holidays come around and you are running out of room in your oven, this mighty pan could be working on a side for you while your oven is focused on other things.

At $39.99 at Target, it was a great buy. I highly recommend it.

GARDENING: Thrift stores are a gardeners best resource

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If you are looking for unique things to decorate your garden with, but have a shoe-string budget, do what I do and hit all the thrift stores in your neighborhood. I find many cute little tables I can use outright, put mosaics on or paint decoratively to use near seating.

 I have been able to purchase chairs as well for $5 a piece. When I paint them decoratively, it adds some charm and extra seating in my garden.

And let's not forget unique planter ideas. I have found metal ice buckets, large metal buckets, a colander, old watering cans. I poke holes in the bottom with a nail and hammer, and I have cool planters for the garden. If it can hold dirt, I'll use it. When I see pots selling at home depot for $50 a pop, I just make a bee line for the thrift stores.

Another thing I like to find are linens and blankets for outdoor sitting and eating areas. This crochet blanket (above) had some damage to it, but I got it for 5 dollars and looks lovely over tables or under a beverage spread for outdoor entertaining. Getting old pillows are great too! Just get outdoor fabric from the craft store to recover them for outdoor seating, you'll save a bundle.

It's a lot of fun. You'll never know what you will find. And it makes your garden pretty unique from anyone else's.
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