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Bed and Breakfasts Review At Home In The Woods

Do you love to stay in Bed and Breakfasts?

I enjoy staying at bed and breakfasts and we have discovered a real “jewel” called At Home In The Woods in Chesterton, Indiana.  (Phone 219-728-1325)  Bed and Breakfasts offer the traveler many unique experiences, all of the comforts of home, great food and new friendships.  This inn is located in Northwest Indiana and is secluded – yet convenient to so much. It’s only 45 miles from Chicago and offers 4 wooded acres for guests to explore nature and beautiful scenery.  You can visit their website by clicking here

At Home In The Woods 

The innkeepers, Scott and Victoria Phillips, share a passion for cooking and that is what influenced our decision to stay at the inn.  Victoria serves fresh-from-the-garden fruits and berries and transforms them into wonderful pastries, cobblers or parfaits; home-baked breads come warm from the oven; eggs become mouthwatering delights; and a variety of freshly brewed coffees and teas are yours for the asking.

At Home In The Woods, Chesterton, Indiana

At Home In The Woods, Chesterton, Indiana

We stayed at this inn last November when we traveled to Valparaiso, Indiana to meet our new West Highland Terrier puppy, Beau.  The inn’s  slogan is, “Where Every Season Is A Masterpiece” and we believe that is true.  The fall colors were spectacular when we visited there last November. I just returned from a short stay at the inn this week and the summer gardens on the property were spectacular!

For “foodies” like me, Victoria offers cooking classes.  Last fall I took a cooking class on making jams and jellies with wine. This visit included a class on appetizers.  I’ll be sharing those delicious recipes with you over the next few days.  You can check out her cooking classes and other packages they offer here

At Home In The Woods Cooking Classes  

At Home In The Woods offers three well appointed guest rooms with private baths and fireplaces. The rooms are inspired by three National Parks and are comfortable retreats for the traveler.  We stayed in The Smokey Mountain Suite last fall and it was like a cozy cabin in the mountains.  The hot tub was just steps away on the deck outside our room.  I stayed in The Rocky Mountain Room this week and enjoyed the corner whirlpool tub, complete with a wall of river rock, and the spectacular woodland views.

All Bed and Breakfasts serve breakfast but this inn pays particular attention to presentation and detail.  Breakfast is served on a table graced with linens, stemware, china and seasonal decor.  You may be surprised by little antique bunny salt and pepper shakers on the table or fresh flower garnishes tucked here and there on your plate.  You’ll be treated to delicious hot breakfast casseroles, pastries, yogurt parfaits, fresh fruits, gourmet cheeses and other culinary delights from Victoria’s kitchen.

Breakfast Table "At Home In The Woods"

Breakfast Table “At Home In The Woods”

Breakfast may also be served on the deck which offers a view of the wooded acreage and the pool.

Breakfast On The Deck

Breakfast On The Deck

Victoria and Scott also have a gift nook at the inn which features many of Victoria’s culinary creations such as

  • Sweet Cherry Jam
  • Triple Berry Jam
  • Merlot Wine Jelly
  • Pinot Noir Wine Jelly
  • Peach Melba Jam
  • Blueberry Jam
  • Homemade Salsa

The gift nook also has handmade soaps in luscious scents such as Apple Cinnamon, Green Apple, Lavender Chamomile and Cinnamon and Cinnamon Oatmeal.  You can also find marble cheese boards, Victoria’s handmade gourd birdhouses and the “At Home In The Woods Cookbook” which features tons of yummy recipes!

When you visit this unique inn, prepare to be pampered and enjoy the host’s meticulous attention to every detail.  Tell them a mutual friend sent you!   Enjoy!

Walk To Front Door

Walk To Front Door

Garden Path

Garden Path

 Bed and Breakfasts Worth Visiting

 At Home In The Woods

898 N 350 E

Chesterton, IN  46304-9405

Phone:  219-728-1325

INFO@AtHomeInThe WoodsBB.com





Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal

Looking for some easy Crock Pot recipes for breakfast?

Check out my Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal!

We entertain a lot in our home and we often have overnight guests.  I’m always looking for easy breakfast recipes that I can make the night before and this one is terrific!  I set up a breakfast bar where guests can serve themselves.  I usually set out maple syrup, brown sugar, blueberries, strawberries or other toppers and let everyone make their own “special” oatmeal.

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal
This easy recipe for Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal is great for a breakfast bar. Just set out maple syrup, brown sugar, blueberries, strawberries or other toppers and let everyone make their own "special" oatmeal.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 6 cups water
  • cinnamon
  • chopped apples or other fruit
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Butter the crock pot. (I sue the 2 quart insert of my crock pot for this recipe)
  2. Add the oats and water.
  3. Stir in the chopped apples.
  4. Sprinkled with cinnamon.
  5. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Cover and cook on low overnight.....this will be ready in the morning!

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal Ingredients

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal Ingredients

I like to add diced apples or dried cranberries when I add the water and oats.  If you want to add blueberries or raisins, add them in the morning…..or set them out as options on your Oatmeal Breakfast Bar Buffet!

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal with Chopped Apples

Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal with Chopped Apples

Here is what the Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal looks like in the morning……..

Crock Pot Oatmeal Cooked

This is also a terrific recipe to use once the kids go back to school.  Mornings are always so rushed and this recipe is ready when you are!  Try spooning this into paper cups and the kids can eat this on the run!  It’s a great way to make sure everyone starts their day with a healthy breakfast!




Baby Shower Ideas

Baby Shower Ideas

Baby Shower Ideas

Looking for some fun baby shower ideas?

What could be cuter than this baby in a fruit bassinet! This is a creative way to serve a fruit salad and it makes a great centerpiece too!  This will also go with any baby shower theme you choose.

Here are some tips for carving this spectacular centerpiece for a baby shower:

  •  Start with a watermelon that is at room temperature.  It will be much easier for you to carve a melon that is not “sweating”.
  • Cut a thin slice from the bottom of the watermelon to provide a stable base.
  • Draw the outline for the bassinet on the water melon, using the picture above as a guide.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut out the design on the watermelon.  Cut all the way through the rind.
  • Remove the sections of the rind and hollow out the bassinet.
  • Use a melon-baller  tool to cut watermelon balls for the fruit salad.
  • Peel a cantaloupe to make the baby’s head.
  • Fill the baby bassinet with fruit salad and enjoy!


Summer Recipes …And The Livin’ Is Easy!


 Summer recipes that are quick and easy help us enjoy sharing great food with our family and friends!

Summer is in full swing and everyone is looking for easy summer recipes!  I can’t wait to share the new recipes I’ve been cooking for the blog and YouTube channel!  The bouquet above is from my flower garden and if you remember last summer, I shared the success secret for garnishing your food creations with fresh flowers…. “Edible Flowers for Garnishing”  Be sure to check out those tips!

Here is a preview of upcoming summer recipes that I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks:

  • Easy 7-Up Biscuits
  • Bananas Foster….It’s a real WOW!
  • Vickie’s Almost Famous Bloomin’ Onion
  • Baby Shower Ideas
  • Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal
  • Easy Skillet Green Beans
  • Flower Petal Ice Cubes
  • Summertime Lemonade……Plus more!!!!

Many of you have probably been wondering why I have not been posting recipes lately.  Well, when my youngest daughter, Kacy, left home to do an internship in Cancun , I decided that I needed to:

1) Get a job and

2) Be around teenagers

I checked the job board and there was a teaching position open in my immediate area.  I applied for the position…and they hired me. I thought I would be able to blog and teach….but my first year back in the teaching arena proved to be a FULL TIME job!  I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait for school to start again in the fall and now I think it will be possible for me to keep up with my classroom work, blogging and my YouTube channel.  I must say, I have missed my Make Life Special work.

So…on with Make Life Special!  Let’s continue our journey …let’s enjoy some easy summer recipes and  share great food with our family and friends!

Summer Bouquet 2





Deviled Easter Egg Chicks Deviled Egg Recipe

Cute Little Easter Egg Chicks are a Creative Deviled Egg Recipe!

Here is a deviled egg recipe that’s sure to bring ooohs and ahhhs from everyone at your Easter dinner!   Two  of my readers sent me this cute idea – Deviled Easter Egg Chicks! 

Deviled Easter Chicks

Here are the success secrets for making this great deviled egg recipe for the Easter holiday …or for any springtime brunch, lunch or family gathering.

  • Hard boil eggs and peel
  • Here’s a “Make Life Special” Extra:  If you would like to have the chicks different colors, dip the peeled eggs into a mixture of 1/2 cup water and some  food coloring.  Immerse the eggs, one at a time, into the dye mixture for a few seconds or until the desired color is reached. Dry each colored egg on a paper towel.
  • If you want the chicks to stand alone on a plate, cut a thin straight slice from the wider bottom end of each egg so the egg will stand straight.  You don’t have to do this step if you want to nestle the chicks on a plate with “grass” made from shredded lettuce or spinach as shown in the photo.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the top third off each egg and remove the yolk.  Mash the yolks in a bowl and make your favorite deviled egg recipe.
  • Refill the larger bottom portion of each egg ( using a small spoon or a small zip lock bag with a corner snipped off).  Mound the the  top of  the filling and cap with the top egg portions.
  • Add a tiny triangle of carrot to each egg for the beak.  Use bits of black olives or capers for the eyes.
  • You can also insert a sprig of fresh dill into the top cap for a tuft of feathers, if desired.
  • Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.  

These are absolutely adorable deviled eggs….Remember, “Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends….Enjoy!”


Honey Bunnies Are an Easy Bread Recipe!

Here’s an easy bread recipe!

My friend, Jennifer, shared these Honey Bunnies with me and I had to include them in the blog. They are so cute and easy!

Honey Bunnies

These cute little Honey Bunny Rolls start with a package of Rhodes Warm-N-Serve Soft Dinner Rolls.  Note:    You will have to partially thaw the rolls in order to cut the bunny ears.  

I’m also including a variation for Cinna Bunnies … They would be a great addition to an Easter breakfast or brunch!

Rhodes Heat and Serve Dinner Rolls 

Honey Bunnies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • Rhodes Warm-N-Serve Soft Dinner Rolls
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup butter
  1. Partially thaw dinner rolls.
  2. Using kitchen scissors, cut the bunny ears into the rolls as shown.
  3. Using a wooden skewer, make two eyes in the rolls.
  4. Bake as directed on package at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.
  5. While the rolls are baking, heat the butter and honey in a pan.
  6. When the rolls come out of the oven, brush the Honey Bunnies with the honey and butter mixture.
  7. Enjoy!

Cinna Bunnies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • Rhodes Warm-N-Serve Soft Dinner Rolls
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk, chilled
  • ½ teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Partially thaw the dinner rolls.
  2. Using kitchen scissors, cut the bunny ears into each dinner roll.
  3. Using a wooden skewer, make the eyes in each roll.
  4. Bake as directed on package, 12 minutes at 325 degrees.
  5. While the bunny rolls are baking, combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  6. Brush the cinnamon butter liberally on the hot rolls when they come out of the oven.
  7. Serve additional Cinnamon Butter with the warm rolls.

You may want to also try this easy bread recipe:

Vickie’s French Onion Drop Biscuits


Remember,”Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”


Easter Egg Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats have been enjoyed by kids and adults alike for as long as I can remember.  

With Easter just around the corner, here is a great idea for Easter Egg Rice Krispie Treats.  This was submitted to Make Life Special by one of our readers.  Thanks for the great idea!

Easter Egg Rice Krispie Treats


The recipe for Rice Krispy Treats is quick to make and only has three main ingredients:  butter,marshmallows and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal.  You can print out the basic recipe here:  Rice Krispie Treats Recipe

Here are some Success Secrets for making these adorable Easter Egg Treats:

  • Use plastic snap-apart Easter eggs
  • Coat the inside of the plastic eggs with cooking spray.
  • Make the Rice Krispie Treats recipe.  I like to make this in the microwave.  The microwave makes this so quick and easy!  Just heat the butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Add the cereal to the hot mixture and stir until well coated.  EASY EASY!
  • Be sure to grease your hands before you start filling the eggs with the mixture.  This is very important!
  • Firmly press the mixture into each plastic egg half.  Use your fingers to make a hollow center in each half.  Then remove from the molds and place on wax paper to cool slightly.
  • Place candy surprises into one half and gently press the two halves of the eggs together until they stick.
  • You can decorate the outside of the eggs with frosting, if desired.  Get creative and use bright colored icing!  You can make ziz-zags around the eggs….lines in several colors…..polka dots….whatever you like!
  • Place these in a bright Easter basket and prepare to get lots of compliments


Remember…Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!!  



Make This Jamaican Me Crazy BBQ Rib Recipe!

With a sweet and spicy sauce, this BBQ rib recipe is a hit!  

You’ll need just 10 minutes to get this BBQ rib recipe into the crock pot for slow all-day cooking.  The end result is sweet and spicy “Jamaican-Style” ribs that fall off of the bone.  Tender….Juicy…What could be better?  This is a great recipe for any time of year.  Serve it in the summer with potato salad on the patio or in the fall and winter with hearty baked beans and a baked potato bar.  

Jamaican Me Crazy Ribs


Jamaican Me Crazy BBQ Rib Recipe
Serves: 5
  • 2 racks of pork ribs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
  • 2 bottles Kraft Honey BBQ Sauce ( 18 oz. each)
  • 4 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  1. Cut the ribs into serving size pieces. ( I use kitchen scissors)
  2. Drizzle with oil and rub with the jerk seasoning.
  3. Place ribs in 5 or 6 quart slow cooker.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the ribs.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender.

Jamaican Me Crazy Rib Ingredients

Use kitchen scissors to cut the ribs into serving size pieces.

Cut Ribs With Scissors


Drizzle with olive oil and rub with the jerk seasoning.

Coat Ribs With Olive Oil and Jerk Seasoning

Place in a 5 or 6 quart crock pot.  Combine the remaining ingredients for the sauce.  I like to use Kraft Honey BBQ Sauce for this recipe.  It gives just the right amount of sweetness combined with the spicy Jerk Seasoning.  McCormick makes a great Caribbean Jerk Seasoning.

Pour the sauce over the ribs.

Pour Sauce Over Ribs

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender.


Serve Ribs with Wine

If you like Pulled Pork, be sure to try my Prize-Winning Pulled Pork Recipe!

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

Valentine Cupcake Ideas

 By:  Vickie W

Valentine Cupcake Display

Looking for some Valentine cupcake ideas? Make Valentine’s Day extra special with this great cupcake display! Cupcakes and a cupcake display are easy ways to treat your friends and family for Valentine’s Day.  My friend, Oma, made this cupcake display for her grand kids.  The cupcakes were made with a mix and  then she embellished the cupcakes with pink icing and heart shaped sprinkles.  Valentine cupcake picks were used as the topper.  You could use a strawberry cake mix for pink cupcakes or swirl some vanilla cake mix and strawberry cake mix together for a marbled effect.  

Cupcake stands are inexpensive and really add pizzazz to your table.  If you can’t find them locally, you can order cupcake stands online. You can also buy really cute toppers and cupcake liners with many different designs and colors.    This would turn and simple gathering into a party! Cupcakes are really trendy now.  Cupcake displays are often included on dessert buffet tables.  I have even seen them served at wedding receptions.  Kids ( and adults) of all ages love cupcakes.  If you are serving adults, you may want to make two cupcakes per person, especially if you are serving men.  You can bake a batch in no time and with just a little creativity, the cupcakes become fun for everyone.

If you have kids or grand kids, you could get them involved in making and decorating the cupcakes.  Cupcakes are very easy to mix up and even small children can get involved.  Have a variety of sprinkles and toppers available so everyone can choose their favorite!   When you share this activity with your kids, cupcakes become more than just a dessert….They become a memory your kids will long remember.        

A cupcake display would be great for an office party,  school party or a dessert buffet.  

What a great way to “Make Life Special” for Valentines Day!  




8 Great Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

8 Great Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

last Minute Christmas Shopping

Reviewed by: Lucas

Note:  All products in this post were submitted to Make Life Special for review by the respective company, or its affiliates.  No other compensation was received.  The reviews in this post are honest and my own.

Flip Jack For the Breakfast Fan – Orgreenic™ Flip Jack™ Nonstick Pancake Maker: 

For the breakfast gourmand there is no better gift than the Pancake Maker.  While this thing is great at omelets and even grilled cheese sandwiches—it was born to make pancakes.  Don’t have griddle?  Tired of elliptical edibles?  Get the Flip Jack Pancake Maker for the breakfast eater in your life.  They are cheap enough; you may as well get a second so that you can have two cooking at the same time!

Where to buy: Bed Bath & Beyond, www.flipjackpan.com



altec SpeakerFor the Personal Electronics Junkie –  Altec The Jacket Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker:

The Jacket is a pretty slick little speaker with big speaker sound.  It pairs easily, has a long-lasting battery (up to 8 hours) and is definitely one of the most attractive Bluetooth speakers on the market.  Each speaker comes with a choice of two silicone “jackets” to customize your look.

Where to Buy:  Office Depot, Electronics Stores




soda Stream SourceFor the Fizzy Drink Aficionado – Sodastream  Source: 

Almost everybody likes a little bubbly in their beverages.  Individual preferences, however, can make purchasing soft drinks and seltzers for home use rather cumbersome and expensive.  This is where the Sodastream system shines.  With one soda maker, you can make virtually all of your favorite soft drinks, uncolas, seltzers—and, more recently—juices.  As a company, Sodastream has worked hard to expand their product line and offer something for everyone.  In my opinion, the Sodastream Source is their best offering yet.  It is the first soda maker that I have ever wanted to leave out on the counter.  Available in many colors, it is stylish, svelte, and of very high quality.

Where to buy:  Wal-Mart, Target, Big Box Stores, Department Stores, Grocery stores




nolan Ryan SteaksFor the Meat-Eater – A gift certificate for Nolan Ryan’s Beef  Grass-fed New York Strip Steak :

As if being one of the greatest pitchers in the game wasn’t enough, baseball legend Nolan Ryan now slings some of the greatest cuts of beef that money can buy.  While Texas residents can find these excellent steaks at their local Kroger’s or Albertson’s, those of us outside the Lone Star State can utilize their tantalizing website to get our grill on.  All steaks are shipped promptly in an impressive, thoroughly frozen thermal cooler.   Want something to give now? Buy a gift certificate from the website at http://nolan-ryan-s-beef-store.mybigcommerce.com/giftcertificates.php .

Where to buy:  http://nolan-ryan-s-beef-store.mybigcommerce.com/grass-fed-beef/



vtech RetroFor the Style Maven – The VTech Retro Phone (LS6195) –

Let’s face it, most landline telephones today are pretty utilitarian:  the phones are plastic blocks designed to fit into slightly larger plastic blocks—that, my friend, is the extant of modern telephone design.   Especially with the ever-increasing VOIP technology like Vonage or magicJack, it is high time for a landline phone design revolution:  enter the Retro Phone.  The Retro Phone, as the name implies, finds its inspiriation in the past.  The handset, base, and overall design calls to mind an old rotary phone (you remember, the phones that actually looked like the phone symbol?) While its design is retro, its features are cutting edge:   DECT 6.0 technology, cordless handset, Caller ID, Call Waiting, Dual Back-lit displays, and dual speakerphones.  Bottom-line:  This is a phone that you want to look at,  maybe even put on display!

Where to Buy:  Officemaxx, Radio Shack, http://www.vtechphones.com/products/product_detail/1928



Edwards PiesFor the Sweet-eater – Edwards Salted Caramel Pie –

Okay, so maybe you don’t want to leave this treat under the tree for too long, but who says you can’t put a wrapped gift in the freezer?  While every pie by Edwards is excellent, including their Hershey’s Chocolate Crème and Key Lime pies, the Salted Caramel Pie really stole my heart.  With just a few minutes of thaw time, you can dig your fork into a chewy, caramelly, delicious goodness.  The little bit of salt balances this taste perfectly—it is really rare to get this level of culinary perfection out of a box, but Edwards does it!

Where to buy:  Most major supermarkets and grocery stores

For More Information: Check out their Facebook Page.



In Meat We Trust For the HistorianIn Meat We Trust:  An Unexpected History of Carnivore America by Maureen Ogle.

While most of us know that meat isn’t spontaneously created in cellophane packages, most of us don’t really know much about where our meat comes from—and even less about how that system came to be.  Ogle traces the history of the American meat industry from colonial times to our modern factory, mega-farms.  It is a fascinating and worthy ready for history buffs and meat-eaters alike.

Where to Buy:  Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, Powells Books, Many local bookstores.





Turbo Roaster Turbo Roaster –

This is one of those AS SEEN ON TV gizmos that I really wish I thought of first.  Roasting poultry has always seemed like it just took forever.  Plus, it demanded your complete attention:  you couldn’t afford to under cook them—but then again, if you cooked them too long, you risked drying them out.  The Turbo Roaster fixes both these problems.  By cooking the inside of the bird with steam, the cook time is cut in half, and the bird comes out juicy and moist—everytime!

Where to buy:  Wal-Mart, https://www.turboroaster.com/

Make Life Special
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Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com