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Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder Soup

This is a favorite recipe of mine to make on a cold winter day, which we have had ALOT of them lately. It is a hardy soup that just seems to warm the body and soul!

The directions for this soup are done with my instant pot but you can easily convert it to a crock pot or stock pot on the stove. Another thing that I love about this recipe is that you can use the ham that you have leftover from another meal or use ham steaks. My Christina gave us a bunch of ham steaks, so I chopped one up for the soup and YUMMY!

Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder Instant/Crockpot Recipe

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A soup for those cold winter days.



-2 tbs olive oil -1/2 onion -2 stalks celery, diced -1 cup chopped carrots -1 clove chopped garlic -1/4 cup flour -1-14.5 oz can chicken or ham broth -1-1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, diced


  1. Set instant pot to saute, add oil plus onion, celery, carrots and garlic and saute until tender 5-6 mins. If you are using a crockpot, do this in a pan on the stove.
  2. Add flour and brown the flour.
  3. Slowly add the broth, bring to a boil and add milk.
  4. Add potatoes, continue to use saute setting for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir Continuously so that the veggies do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Set the slow cooker on 4 hours
  6. Add the ham and corn
  7. Let it cook for the 4 hours and enjoy!

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Thankful for My Nail Appointments

I know that the title of this post sounds superficial but it’s not just about the beauty of my nails. It is more that once every two weeks, I get to feel like a woman. Not a Mom, not a wife… just a woman.

Every other week, I drop the girls off at my moms for a couple hours. My Christina picks me up from my moms, we grab Dunkin’ coffee and head to the nail salon.

While we wait for the salon to open and the women to set up, we enjoy our coffee and talk (what we do best lol). We both get gel manicures so we pick out our colors which I usually have a reason behind my color choice like a holiday or celebration. This week they are green for St. Patty’s Day that just passed.

In that hour of sitting while my nail color gets changed, I feel like a woman. There is no baby to feed, no tween drama, no house to clean. It’s just me in that chair getting my hands pampered.

It might not sound like it’s a big deal but to a work at home mom with an infant to care for, a tween to homeschool, a house to clean and a business to run. Just being a woman for 2 hours every other week is something I need to keep me sane.

With summer coming aka flip flop season, I’ll be adding pedicures to my bi weekly Woman time. I am thankful for the time I have to sit and feel like a woman while I get my nails painted!

What are you thankful for today?

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Tween Rules and Reward System

Tween REward System

After last week’s meltdown and subsequent cancellation of Danyella’s New York City birthday trip, I wanted to find a way to encourage her to behave and do her chores without the attitude and mouth running. Off to Pinterest I went….

I searched and searched, using different search terms and had a hard time finding anything that really worked for us. Some of the links were for teachers to get kids and teens to listen in class. Some of the links were for kids that were younger and didn’t quite fit Danyella.

I was looking to set up Rules and a Reward system for Danyella that would reward her with points to earn special things. At the same time, if she didn’t complete a task then she wouldn’t earn the points and if she misbehaved points could be taken away. After hours of searching, I went to google drive and created my own system.

First were the rules: One would think these were basic rules but to Danyella, I was running her life by asking her to abide by these rules! After nearly a week, she has broken some of these rules and has definitely fought these rules every chance she can.


Next were the Rewards: At first she didn’t care about any rewards. If you look, she started to cross out New York because she was never going to New York ever again if I wasn’t going to take her the day we had originally planned. Eventually she came to terms with her rewards. She even began to calculate how many days it would take for her to earn the trip back if she did all of her chores everyday without attitude points taken away. How I structured her rewards were at levels, so that she had little things to look forward to as she re-earned her New York City trip. One of our favorite things is to go get Italian Ice from Rita’s so that is first on her list to earn.


Last were the check off lists: There are 2 lists for Danyella. Since Danyella is homeschooled, I wanted her to start to take responsibility of her own schoolwork. I made her a checklist of what she needed to accomplish everyday and she earns 10 points for completing them all. The other list is her chores list. This list has different chores for different points like cleaning her rabbits cage is 1 point. I gave her some additional points for helping me label the body products and helping me cook dinner (I should use her cooking show obsession to my advantage lol).


After a week, she is more focused on getting what she needs done though there has been times where she has fought me on completing her tasks (especially schoolwork which is another post to come). It has been nice to see her get excited to help me cook dinner or bake cupcakes. I will keep you all updated on how the system works as the weeks pass.

A question for my readers with older kids: How do you reward your children for good behavior or punish for bad behavior?

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Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Everyone loves or loathes Spring cleaning their house but how many of you Spring clean your finances? This is something that will help keep you on track toward your financial goals whether its saving for your family vacation or saving for your first house.

So what goes into Spring cleaning your finances? It’s taking a deep look into your budget, spending, income and where you can clean some stuff up with your finances. It’s looking at whether you need that donut when you buy your coffee (I am guilty of this) or do you need to eat out once a week or can every other week work into your lifestyle?

For most people, your income is a set amount every week or every other week because that’s when they receive their paycheck. For my family, the hubby gets a paycheck every other week for his night job. Then, our income fluctuates because we own businesses that rely on other people either hiring Doug for a service or for myself someone purchasing my products. We have adjusted our budget to accommodate the way our income is paid to us but for most people you know how much you will be getting and when which makes budgeting and analyzing your spending so easy.

Do you fit into the 50/20/30 rule? One of the hardest part of the rule to stay in is the 30% for your lifestyle because it’s easy to add those extras into your spending. I am so guilty of this especially eating out. When I am to tired to cook because I was up all night with the baby or we were out with the dance or something else going on, eating out is the easiest physical solution. Afterwards, I kick myself because financially I shouldn’t have spent that money because it could have gone towards the family Disney trip we are savings towards.

As a new series, I want to break down ways to cut down on the lifestyle spending through the Spring season. Each Sunday, I will focus on a different way to Spring clean your lifestyle spending in a fun way. Let’s Spring clean our finances while having fun!

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Feeling Like I Am Failing

Today’s post is going to be real, raw, and emotional post about motherhood at its darkest hour. This was your warning so if you can’t handle this type of post, turn back now….

Anyone who is the parent of a tween or teen knows the roller coaster of emotions they go through and subsequently we go through while dealing with their emotional meltdowns. Well, in our house we have been getting these emotional meltdowns, attitudes and refusals to listen more frequently as the days past some being multiple times through the day. Yesterday, I finally hit my emotional breaking point as a mom and a wife.

For nearly 9 years of Danyella’s life it was just her and I. We did everything together and I was Mom and Dad to her. Then I met my now husband, which began to invade into her “Mommy’s time is only for me time”.

In the beginning, Danyella and Doug got along great. They would hang out together and grab something to eat or surprise me with coffee at work. Then, Danyella began to resent him for taking up “her” Mommy time and stepping into a dad role which was uncharted territory for her. This resentment has just escalated and grown everyday for about the past year.

I know in the past year, a lot has changed for Danyella. She gained a new baby sister (which she wasn’t happy about until we came home from the hospital) and a step dad. I completely understand how much of a change this all is especially for a kid that does not cope with change very well at all.

I have become Mom, wife and referee. There is a part of me that feels I need to defend Danyella when she acts out or does something he doesn’t like. I mean this is my little girl. I’ve been all she has had for nearly her entire life so it’s hard for me to see him come down on her about things she does, especially when it’s things I’ve allowed but we differ in some of our parenting styles. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Doug’s parenting style is much more authoritative then mine is because I have learned not to sweat all the small shit. If the kid wants to eat in the living room once in a while what’s the big deal. If she falls asleep better watching tv, I’m not stressing out about it because it’s better then her not sleeping and keeping me up all night (already have a 10 week old that enjoys her night time snuggles). These are just the tip of the iceberg of where he and I differ and then clash because he wants to discipline her and I defend her.

Our marriage is already strained due to problems between him and I and adding the stress of the daily fighting between him and Danyella has just made things worse. He and I fight about her all the time because I don’t always agree with him or I feel like I need to defend my child.

He refuses to back down and look at things from her point of view. She refuses to do what she is told without an attitude or smart ass comment or tween temper tantrum. I am stuck in a position that I can no longer emotionally and mentally handle.

Last night I hit my breaking point with both of them and have felt the lowest I have for a long time. Dinner turned into a fight that I had to referee because Danyella refused to use manners while we sat down for the only family dinner we have every week. With a flair for the dramatics, Danyella was sent to take a shower after pretending to gag because she was told she had to finish the last 3 pieces of pork on her plate but wanted to eat more asparagus.

After her shower she was asked to help clear the table which turned into an attitude fest. This got under Doug’s skin and he said something to her about dropping her attitude. Well, the attitude continued and he took her firestick to her tv away. Let’s just say she flipped out. It ended with her throwing stuff at him. He got into the shower to calm down and she went to bed.

I broke down and cried at my kitchen sink for over an hour and then just walked around the house crying while he was in the shower. No matter how much I’ve said to either of them that this stress of them not getting along is killing me, it’s like neither of them care how I’m being effected. I am not agreeing with him completely because I know he does expect more of her then I have so he comes down on her about (to me stupid shit) shutting her dresser drawers or how she sits at the table. I am not agreeing with her about how she doesn’t need to listen to either of us because she is “to old to listen now”. How in the hell did my life get like this?

I feel like I am failing as a mother and a wife because I can’t make either of them happy. My daughter has come to resent me for having to discipline her for her mouth and attitude that is nearly an all day, everyday occurrence. My husband and I have a long list of problems and this one is the source of our one of the top 2 problems. (The other one is for a future post when I can finally get the words to come out between the tears) I can’t make either of them happy which has made my life miserable and I don’t know how to fix things to make life more bearable for myself.

Mom and wife failure at its finest right now.

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Cutting the Cable Wire

Cut the Cable out

For the past year and half my family has lived without cable which to some people seems crazy but for our family it was an unnecessary added bill. When I was looking at ways to cut costs in our budget, the cable bill just killed me because we paid over $130 for internet and cable. We didn’t watch a 1/4 of the channels! Oh and our Internet was at the slowest speed so we went through constant buffering and delays.

We live in a day and age where you can’t live without internet. I need internet for blogging and business and Danyella’s homeschooling is half done through an online program. Plus, we stream Netflix and Hulu to fulfill our desire to watch something on TV. Which before we cut the cable, we were mainly streaming our shows on an app instead of watching live tv.

Paying over $130 for cable we barely watch and Internet that moved at snail speed just was not ok for me and for our budget. So me being me, I set out and did research with LOTS of notes. I looked at how much it costs for different scenarios to keep our internet and streaming services.

Since our area is limited (due to a stupid 15 year or some outrageous number contract with a specific company) to only one cable and internet company, our options were meek but doable. To go with just the internet package from our cable company, they offer 4 plans starting with the craptastic $45 Plan that is recommended for less than 3 devices in the home. Then, there are 2 middle plans for $55 and $70. Last is the Queen of the plans at $90 a month for the ultimate gaming experience. We don’t need the gaming experience so we went with the $55 plan that is good for 5 devices at once which is about right between streaming, laptops and phones going at once.

How am I watching stuff on my tv without cable? I had previously purchased an Amazon Firestick for the living room tv Danyella’s room plus our bedroom had a roku smart tv so we have streaming devices. ($35 each for the sticks and the tv was $120 at Walmart) In the long run, this was an investment well worth the month. Total out-of-pocket so far is $55 a month and $210 lifetime

Now onto our streaming apps! Netflix is a must have in our lives because I have an obsession with watching Orange is the New Black and Danyella watches Fuller House. When I say obsession… the day either of those shows come out, we get up at 3am and binge ALL DAY until we have watched all the episodes at once. Only breaks are for potty and food. Cost of our obsession is $14 a month to watch on 4 screens (sometimes we are all watching something different and take up 3 screens). An added perk that I only recently discovered is you can download movies onto your tablet or phone for free and watch them without using internet for 2 weeks. New out-of-pocket expenses: monthly $69 lifetime $120

Hulu has become our new way to watch live tv because a little over a year without watching my live sports was killing me slowly. I needed to watch my Eagles on Sundays plus there were some tv shows that I wanted to watch live and not see all the spoilers on Facebook thanks to my friends. Hulu recently came out with a live streaming package with DVR and completely revamped their app which I love! We get all the major channels like ABC, CBS and NBC plus food network, kids channels and a bunch more we don’t watch but sometimes I’ll record movies to watch later. This was worth every penny to watch the recent Superbowl (Fly Eagles Fly) and the Winter Olympics. Oh and I needed to watch the new episodes of Grey’s live before Facebook told me what happened. Only downfall of the live streaming channels is that they don’t stream any of the Hallmark channels (sometimes a girl needs a little girly romance movie binge). The new Hulu live streaming service is $40 per month. The Latest totals: Monthly $109 Lifetime $210

With eliminating our cable, upgrading our internet and using streaming apps our new total a month is $109! This saves us $36 a month which is 2 weeks worth of gas for my car or more than half of my grocery shopping budget a week!! With the Hulu live streaming we can always pause our subscription if the $40 isn’t in our budget one month or we want to use that money towards something else. Saving $36 and upgrading to a better internet package makes the changes feel worth it because we aren’t wasting money or getting frustrated with the internet.

How many of you have cut the cable cord in your homes?

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Snow NO More

snow no more

Its Wednesday which means it’s What the What Wednesday! Today’s vent session is all about this pending Nor’ Easter snow storm that is supposed to hit us. In case you don’t know me, I despise the snow and cold weather. There are many reasons why I am so unhappy about this snow storm hitting this specific day that I am about to get into.

So First and Foremost, I am unhappy about this snow because we were scheduled to attend the Philadelphia Flower Show. This has become a tradition for me for quite a few years because I love the amazing way these flowers are turned into beautiful works of art. Last year, my mother, one of her friends and Danyella attended the show with me and fell in love with the beauty as well. This year, I purchased one of the memberships that gave me 4 adult tickets and 2 children tickets to attend along with so many other perks. We have all been looking forward to this day for months and now we have to hope that this snow goes away so we can attend on Friday! Grrr Snow!

Another reason is because the cold weather and my body do not get along at all. This is something that I have lived with for so many years and didn’t know really why my body reacted to the cold and snow like this. Last year, I found out that my body is unable to retain iron which is why it reacts to the cold weather like it does. My body ends up in such pain, especially my hands, that there are moments I end up in tears. Those hand warmers that hunters use are my best friend in the winter to help my joints stay flexible and manage the pain. Ugh Snow!

The last reason is that we are ready for spring, nice weather and being outdoors. I want to start taking the baby and dog on long walks, enjoy the beautiful Spring air and just get out of the house! Go Away Snow!

Rant over! Who else has a rant for the week?

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In A Creative Slump

Connection (2)

For some reason, when I am going through stressful situations my creativity takes a fast nose dive towards the bottom of the creative ocean. This time it was the move and that all of my craft supplies are in boxes and bags and out of sorts. When they are out of sorts so is my creative brain.

It is frustrating because no matter what I do to get those creative juices flowing, nothing seems to work. Or should I say, the ideas that I get just don’t appeal to me. At this moment, the ideas should be overflowing because St. Patty’s Day is next weekend and a couple weeks later is Easter. Add that to Spring and Summer coming and the ideas should be coming easily….

This is not the first time I have hit a creative slump and it takes one great idea to get me out of this funk. Sometimes the idea has come from a solution I am looking to solve, a pattern that I want to try or an order a customer puts in. It has been so long since I was in this funk that I can’t remember what got me out of it the last time.

Until my creative slump is over, I will be posting some simple crafts on Teach Me Tuesday for kids and tweens. Cross your fingers and toes that my slump doesn’t last too long!



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I Found Christina to My Meredith

Photo Feb 08, 5 10 52 PM

Have you ever met someone and instantly knew that you were meant to have that person in your life? I don’t mean a romantic partner but your person, your friend that is meant to be in your life. Yes, you will hear all kinds of Grey’s Anatomyreferences in this post because we both love Grey’s. I found the Christina to my Meredith and I am so thankful for her being in my life.

I met my Christina before I actually met her because our daughters go to the same dance studio so we know the same dance moms. I briefly met “Christina” during recitals in June but didn’t really get to know her. I know that Danyella loved getting to know her daughter during our downtime backstage. I know that her daughter was trying out for elite but didn’t think much of it when I heard of the mom at auditions (Danyella was auditioning for the current Elite team during makeups).

Both of our girls made Elite, Danyella made Minis and the “Christina’s” daughter made the newly formed Petite team. From the time of boot camp, “Christina” and I hit it off and talked the entire time we were sitting in the studio. It was like we were the same person with how much we had in common. We parent our children the same way. We talk the same way. Yes, we both say curse words but what can you expect… We are Jersey Girls. We like the same things, especially our tv shows. Even our husbands are very much alike. We just are so much alike it was almost scary.

One weekend we were talking and I was saying how I was getting married on Monday (our last-minute wedding ceremony). In one little conversation, we found out “Christina” knew my step father, future in-laws and…… has known my husband for years! WTH…. I known the world seems small at times but this blew my mind. It was all to funny to me because all of these stories I told her about my boyfriend turned husband, turned out she knew him. I swear that revelation made us even closer friends.

Since we found all of this out, she has become my go to person to talk to about things going on in my life. When I need to vent about things going on in my life, I text “Christina”. When I need a shoulder to cry on because of a horrible message, I text “Christina”. Each time I thought I was going into labor, I text “Christina”. After Evelynne was born, I text “Christina” the photos of my baby girl. When “Christina’s” daughter is acting up, we talk about how our girls are cut out of the same cloth. At 6:30 in the morning, “Christina” checks on me to see how I am doing.

Today, I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without “Christina” or what was my life like before our dance mom lives crossed paths. Our daughters are connected at the hip whenever possible and that is how we have become when we are together. She is the Auntie to Evelynne which Evie knows her voice like she knows mine.

I have had friends come and go in my life but “Christina” is one that will stay in my life. I am so grateful for the friendship we formed over coffee on Saturdays at the dance studio. I am grateful to feel like there is someone in the world that gets me. I am grateful for all the times she has given me a shoulder to cry on. I am grateful for all the laughs that we have had.  I am grateful for her talks that bring me out of my darkness or talks me off the cliff of doing something rash. I am grateful to have found my “Christina”.



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DIY Dollar Store Advent Calendar

see & explore

I grew up enjoying the chocolate filled advent calendars which my kids and have adopted the advent calendar tradition. These advent calendars are hot commodities in my area and sell out very quickly so we have learned to be on the hunt for them. Last week, Danyella and I went into Hobby Lobby and found the calendars…

They wanted $8 for an advent calendar that was smaller than the ones we have bought in the past. No way was I going to pay $8 for cheap chocolate in a cardboard box! That is just absurd inflation when I could make a better one for the same price or cheaper.

So, I headed to my favorite place for cheap crafts…. The Dollar Store! I purchased snowflake printed zip bags, small bags of Danyella’s favorite candies, a pair of socks (she loves penguins), lipsmackers, holiday bracelets and holiday erasers. Plus I had some holiday kisses to use as well. All of these would be fun treats for her to open once a day and better than the overpriced advent calendar. I already had leftover wrapping paper, tape and a cardboard box to cut up and I printed the numbers through my Google Docs account. So I spent a total of $7 plus tax for our DIY advent calendar!


wrapping paper

cardboard box (cut into the size/shape you desire)

tape (I preferred double-sided but you can use regular clear tape)

printed numbers 1-24

fun goodies for 24 days

zip lock baggies


  1. Create 1-24 and cut each number out than tape them to the bags
  2. Fill the bags with your goodies
  3. Wrap the piece of cardboard with the wrapping paper
  4. Create row with the tape to stick the bags (I created 3 rows starting with 24 at the top and ending with 1)
  5. Press the baggies onto the tape for the kids to peel off each day
  6. Place your advent calendar on display and start on December 1st
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Baby Girl Winter Hats

Baby Girl Hats

The weather has finally turned cold here in New Jersey which means it is time for hats, scarves and gloves. These items are the bulk of my business which people love to purchase a new one every year. I prefer to use soft yarn that are gentle to the skin which is what makes my items so popular among my local clients.

Being pregnant with this baby girl has made me want to make more and more baby items. I have been continuing to make headbands which are so cute but with the months getting cold, I have started to make baby girl crochet hats. I have been using the same Mandala yarn with the unique color changes so each hat is different. Currently, I have 2 hats in size 0-6 months to choose from in purple shades and a pink/purple combination. These make wonderful baby gifts or a Holiday gift.

You can find these hats in my online shop: Kaella Boutique 

Photo Nov 08, 10 16 42 AM


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Small Vacation Budget Goals

Supermom Says

Now that you have your vacation destination set and your budget laid out, it is time to set your budget goals. The ultimate goal is to raise the money you need for the trip and spending money but breaking this big goal into small ones are what make each step feel like a great accomplishment. I love the feeling of setting a goal, whether it is a goal for a day, a week or a month, and achieving those goals. Time to put those goals into manageable ones for your family vacation! Do you have your Family Vacation Notebook ready?

For our family vacation to Disney World, we are first saving for the deposit and airfare which is only an approximate because the airfare rate can change. Then, we have to save for the balance of the trip. Lastly, there is the most important savings…. Spending Money!

I prefer to break these larger goals down to months and then down to weeks. This makes the big goals feel so much more achievable when you see them in small amounts. So what are your goals?

Starting with our deposit which is $1300 and due on January 1st. The balance will be $7130 which I don’t find out when that is due until I pay the deposit. That part is a little frustrating because it should be broken down on the payment options page. I am going to figure that the balance will be due in March so I am breaking that down for a 3 month goal. After that we will save for our spending money which everyone knows is alot when it comes to Disney spending.

As much as I wanted to begin my savings for our family vacation in October, life and unexpected bills and car repairs proved otherwise. So we are starting our savings in November. Breaking down our deposit over the next 8 weeks, we need to save $650 per month or $163 a week. That can seem like a lot since that is nearly our rent payment a month but it is achievable with my money-saving system that I have been implementing and strategizing. (I will go over these next Sunday!)

Danyella is already enjoying participating in placing our vacation savings into the savings jar which is starting to get some money in there. Along with the Savings Blog on Sundays, I will be updating how our goals are going every Friday on my Facebook Page: Kaella Boutique so that everyone can see how my strategizing and savings are going. Feel free to like our Facebook Page so you can follow along and share your own vacation savings stories!