Our Wolf Den

Honey, I Have an Idea!


Pumpkin Wreath

Pumpkin Wreath Square

I love this pumpkin wreath.  It is super easy to make and add a pop of fall that is perfect to have on the wall from October until Thanksgiving.

Cut three equal sections of ribbon to tie onto a grapevine wreath.  I used a transparent orange, transparent black, and a fall patterned orange ribbon.  Wrap it around the wreath and tie into a bow.



I found the plastic pumpkins several years ago at Wal-Mart.


The next step is to glue them onto the wreath.  When I originally made this wreath two years ago I attached the pumpkins with hot glue.  I kept having problems with the pumpkins falling off.  So I ripped them all off and re-glued them with 527 (which you can buy in the craft section).

Let the glue dry and then you can hang the wreath up.  For the pictures I hung it on the door outside, but I normally keep it inside, so I can enjoy looking at while relaxing on the sofa watching TV.



I linked up here.

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Honey/Hemp Snickerdoodle and Buttercream Loofa Soap

Honey & Hemp Snickerdoodle and Buttercream Loofa Soap

This easy melt and pour soap is a wonderful exfoliant that smells like a sweet treat.  The loofa makes it a little too rough on the skin (for me at least, the Wolfy man loves it all over), but it feels great on those rough heels that have been abused from the summer flip flop weather.   Plus with the texture the loofa adds it makes a very cute display sitting in the bathroom.

Supplies (all purchased from Brambleberry):

1 pound melt and pour Honey soap base

1 pound melt and pour Hemp soap base

1 loofa

2 teaspoons sweet almond oil

1/2 teaspoon red Brazilian clay (more or less depending on the color you want)

1 ounce Buttercream and Snickerdoodle Fragrance Oil (more or less depending on how strong you want the scent to be)


Rubbing Alcohol


The first step is to cut the loofa into 4 equal sections.  In the picture below I ended up cutting up two loofas.


Once the loofa is cut it needs to be soaked in hot water to rehydrate (it won’t take long!).


While the loofa is rehydrating, cut the soap bases into 1 inch cubes and put into the microwave on 30 second bursts until melted.


While the soap is melting, turn your attention back to the loofa.  Put the loofa into containers (I used plastic food containers that were just slightly smaller than the loofa).  Once they are in the containers, turn them over so any extra water can drain out.


While the soap is melting, the clay needs to be rehydrated.  For this recipe I mixed the red Brazilian clay with the sweet almond oil.


When the soap is melted, add the clay and mix well.   Then add the fragrance oil.


Turn the containers holding the loofa right side up and then pour the soap mixture over the loofa.  You want it to just cover it.  Spray with rubbing alcohol to remove any bubbles.


Once the soap has set up (couple of hours) remove from the container by lightly pressing and pulling on the sides to break the air lock.  You can then use a sharp knife to cut the soap in half.  That way you have roughly a 4 ounce bar instead of an 8 ounce one.


The next day you can enjoy your new soap or seal it up from any air.


Previous Melt and Pour Soap Projects:

beach side soap thumbnail

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Wine Down Wednesday – Bricco Barone 2010 Nebbiolo D’Alba


Bricco Barone 2010 Nebbiolo D’Alba


Price: We got it for around $18 at Friar Tuck’s


Manda’s Notes:

  • Slightly tannic and bitter
  • Lots of red fruit notes
  • Hint of pepper
  • Oaky
  • Would be great with a grill steak

Wolfy’s Notes:

  • Nice, deep, red garnet color
  • Not much nose (but Wolfy was stuffed up when we did notes)
  • Oaky
  • Smoky, tannic flavors and finish

We drank the bottle with dinner (salad) and had the rest while watching TV.  Overall it is something we enjoyed and would buy again.



Storage Solution in the Downstairs Bathroom

In the downstairs bathroom there was a small cupboard behind the door.  We removed it in order to get the plumbing lines for the bathroom upstairs.  Once the Master Bathroom was taken care of we turned our attention toward the downstairs and what to build to cover the plumbing.  This is what we came up with.


The bump out from the wall that is covered with bead board is where the supply lines are running upstairs along with drainage lines. The box at the bottom was built out of leftover 2 X 8s and hides more pluming.  Instead of just having a bump out we decided to add a pre-made cabinet on top of the pedestal we made.

The bathroom needs caulked and painted still, but it is coming along nicely- although I am now thinking about redoing the floor.


Previous Downstairs Bathroom Posts:

faux tin ceiling bead board walls downstairs bathroom Installing a new ceiling light and fan downstairs faucet

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Wine Down Wedesday – Houdini Wine Chilling Carafe

I think the biggest way to tell if someone is a true wine geek verses someone just enjoys wine isn’t the size of their cellar, but how many wine gadgets they have.

The newest wine gadget was an impulse buy while we were shopping for new baking dishes.  We were both hesitant at first, but once we tried it out we were in love with the Houdini Wine Chilling Carafe.


The top screws off and you can pull the lid and metal ice container out and fill with the wine of your choice.

Take the rubber plastic plug out of the lid and add ice.  If all your ice melts and your wine starts to get warm you can dump the melted wine and add more.  However we finished our bottle one evening before the wine got warm.


Once the ice is in and the plug is installed it pours from around the center.


What a great way to keep wine chilled during an outdoor dinner party, or while watching TV at night!

Other Wine Down Wednesday Posts:

cab dsc_00152 moscato Williamsburg Winery

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Adding a Deck and Pergola Out Back

Sorry for the radio silence last week.  Wolfy and I took a trip for our anniversary to Okaloosa Island, FL!  What a great getaway.  I will be posting about that soon, or maybe even put up a link to our scrapbook I am making… unless sharing 1000 photos with you is considered excessive?



Our back deck has always been an eyesore.  It was on level, boards were popping off, and it was starting to become a safety hazard.  Unfortunately right under our back door is a basement window so we didn’t have the luxury of slowly working on the deck build.  We knew once we started we had to get at least the majority of the deck boards down the same day so the pups could go outside.  Many people may have planned a small deck, or at least doing the deck in stages.  Not us.  We planned and executed a 17’ x 12’ deck with covered pergola in 2 weekends.  The silly deck is the same size as our living room.

before and after back deck

We started the back deck the same weekend we started the front deck.  We worked back in forth that Memorial Day weekend due to the rain.  We would work on the front deck until the rain picked up and we were afraid to use the power tools then go to the back yard and work, that is why there are no pictures of the first day in the back yard.

The first step was to rip out the old deck.  No wonder that think was sagging into the ground, the supports were 2x4s laying on the dirt!  Once the old deck was out we dug 6 holes for supports.  You can see those as the 6 x 6s that are going to be the supports of the pergola.  There is one hidden in the center.  The holes were set in concrete and the leftover dirt was used to fill a raised flower bed and then help grade the ground under the deck away from the house.  We also used concrete pillars as extra support under the deck.

We busted our butts that first day and got everything done except for two deck boards that we were short.


The next weekend we worked on the deck we had help.  I just wasn’t strong enough to get those huge boards into the air, so my dad came over to help Wolfy out.  Those two were able to get the pergola top on and also the plastic sheets to protect the deck from rain.  It is hard to see but the pergola actually has a ½ inch slant to make sure water flows away from the house.


While they were working up top, I was installing the stairs.


And there you have it, our two weekend project.  There are still some things to do.  We are planning on putting some privacy fencing on the side by the fence to keep the dogs in, and to be able to have some privacy in our back yard. There needs to be some facing boards added to keep the dogs from crawling under the deck.  And of course it needs to be stained.





Previous Outside Posts

painted garage fron deck door knocker

outdoor wedding slider-seating-makeover seemless siding


Faux Tin Ceiling

It has been a while since the last post about the downstairs bathroom.  When I left off we had just installed bead board on the walls.  The next thing we turned our attention toward was the ceiling.  The ceiling was originally blue, and after we installed the new light/fan combo had a very large hole in it.  As we pondered our options we decided we wanted a dark metallic tin ceiling.  But tin in the bathroom, probably not a good idea with humidity and all, and tin is expensive.  Not that our bathroom is huge but it was too high of an expense to justify.

Thankful we found the answer to our quest in the form of 2’x4’ plastic ceiling tiles from Menard’s.  Armed with several cans of oil rubbed bronze spray paint this is what we ended up with:


The project was unfortunately harder than anticipated.  We thought we could use the leftover paneling adhesive we had for the bead board on the ceiling.  Uhh… no.  Not strong enough and not fast enough to set up.  In order to get the first 2 pieces up Wolfy used the finish nailer every 4 inches.  Not only was it taking a long time and very tedious.  The nails didn’t always want to go into the old “horse board” ceiling.  One even went through Wolfy’s finger.  We called it a day after that.

And we didn’t touch it the next day, or the day after that.  In fact the bathroom sat like that, with two panels up, still a huge hole in the ceiling for several months.  Until I took a trip to visit my parents (who live a hour-ish away) and Wolfy decided he had had enough.  Armed with the correct type of glue/caulk (I highly recommend talking to the people at whatever home improvement store you frequent to see which product they recommend) and the pneumatic finish nailer to tack the edges in Wolfy finished the project that afternoon.

And it looks wonderful!


There are a few spots that need touched up with paint, crown molding needs to be installed, the cabinet we ripped out behind the door needs to be address, the door needs shaved down so we can add a transition strip, the whole room needs to be caulked, and painted, but it is coming together.

Previous Downstairs Bathroom Posts:

bead board walls downstairs bathroom Installing a new ceiling light and fan downstairs faucet


Crockpot Beef Fajitas

We love Mexican food at the Wolf Den.  In fact, before we purchased our Den, our rented duplex was just a few blocks away from what we have decided is the best Mexican restaurant in Illinois. We used to eat there at least twice a week.  We were those people you know, the ones the staff knows by name and food preference.  I think I could live on chips and salsa and fajitas.

Chips and salsa is easy.  I have a homemade recipe I like.  I also have a store brand that I really enjoy.  While neither are as good as going out to eat, they do and can get you past the craving.  Fajitas have always been another story until I gave this a try.  May I introduce the only way to cook fajitas… in the crockpot!

Crockpot Beef Fajitas.jpg

Yes, the crockpot.  I started out with some inexpensive beef round steak from Sam’s.  For this first trial run, I used two steaks, which ended up being enough for two meals for both Wolfy and I.  I roughly cubed the steaks and put them in my smallest crockpot.  I added 1 red onion and 1 package of Fajita seasoning.  Nothing else!  No water, no oil, just the meat, the onions, and the seasonings.


The plan with fresh meat was to cook it for 4 hours.  Here it is after 2.


After 4 hours, you are able to pull those cubes of meat apart with two forks.  So the texture is a bit different than what you get at a restaurant.  These are pulled beef fajitas, but trust me, once you try them you won’t go back!  So tender and flavorful!


Once the meat was pulled apart I added ½ red pepper, ½ yellow pepper, ½ orange pepper, and ½ red onion.  I mixed this in and let it cook on high for another ½ hour.


Serve on warm tortillas with salsa or whatever you like your fajitas with (endless opportunities for guacamole, Pico de Gallo, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, you name it and you can put it on there).




  • 1 pound round steak
  • 1 ½ red onion (1/2 reserved for later) sliced
  • 1 package fajita seasoning
  • ½ of each red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and orange bell pepper sliced
  • Tortillas
  • Toppings for fajitas as desired


  1. For fresh steak: Cube and place into crockpot on high.  Add 1 sliced red onion and 1 package of fajita seasoning.  Let cook on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. For frozen steak: Place in crockpot on high.  Add 1 sliced red onion and 1 package of fajita seasoning.  Let cook on high for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After the 4 or 8 hours, use 2 forks to pull the meat apart.
  4. Add in the sliced peppers and reserved sliced onion.  Mix into meat.  Cook on high for 30 minutes.
  5. Warm tortillas in microwave on 15-20 second bursts.
  6. Enjoy!

More Recipes

 chicken scampi dsc_00101 pro brownies thumbnail rummer

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Adam Puchta

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend we took a trip to Hermann Missouri to hit a couple of wineries on the Hermann Wine Trail.  We only went to three wineries so keep a look out for posts either about the wineries or spotlight posts on the wine itself.

The first winery we hit was Adam Puchta.  It was $5 a person to try 16 wines (one wine was tried at room temperature and then again chilled) and 7 food pairings (which were just small little chesses, crackers, or cookies).

The wines were good, the server only on her second day didn’t know a huge amount about the wine, and to me the ambiance left a little to be desired but we had a good time, found some wines to take home, and even purchased some art for the house.

I would recommend a visit to this winery if you are in the area, but wouldn’t recommend taking a special trip just for it.

All the descriptions below were taken from the Adam Puchta’s website.

adam puchta

Vidal Blanc

The aroma of a spring time garden, a subtle bouquet of pear with citrus fruit characteristics comes alive with baked chicken, roasted duck and smoked foods. Superb with shrimp, lobster, or scallops. Fresh basil and garlic are two spices that complement this fine dry white. Serve chilled.



A light oak complexity finishes with a hint of spice. This clean crisp dry white wine exhibits rich flavors of green apple and pear. Excellent with seafood, baked Brie or mild French cheeses. A true hit at any celebration or quiet dinner for two. Best served chilled.


Adam’s Choice

With our semi-sweet Germanic style white wine, one would swear they just crossed the Rhine River to get here. A crisp blended wine great for those hot summer picnic days, or perfect on the porch with cheese, fruit and crackers. Adam’s Choice makes a great gift for that special someone, regardless if they like Polka music or not.



A luscious, semi-sweet white wine bursting with the essence of peach, strawberry and kiwi fruit, finishing with a sweet crisp citrus taste. This versatile wine may be paired with spicy Mexican, Cajun food, even Indian with curry. Very tasty with lemon chicken or lime shrimp, hey you can even switch the combo. All this and it comes in a pretty blue bottle, too!


Misty Valley

A sweet white dessert wine with a soft floral nose. Clean, fresh and fruity. Perfect with cheesecake and will turn you upside-down with pineapple upside-down cake.



A medium bodied dry red wine with a lovely background of cherry and spice. Made complete with just a pinch of oak. Characteristic of a Sangiovese. Legacy will complement heavy cheeses, as well as supply a perfect companion for red meat and game. Best served at room temperature.


Hunter’s Red

A velvety semi-dry red, medium bodied and non-oaked with a mild floral nose. A fun wine to pair with many Italian foods, peppery/spicy BBQ, hearty stews, venison and summer sausage. A choice red wine to cook with, especially when making those wonderful Italian tomato sauces (caution…more wine should go into the sauce than the cook!), great with pizza, too. Best served at room temperature.



This sweet red dessert wine has a full concord nose with rich blackberry jam characteristics. Great over vanilla ice cream for your adult float or mix with sparkling grape juice – viola – your afternoon spritzer. Our number one selling red wine … take a sip and you will see why!


Jazz Berry

If you are a chocoholic you are sure to love Jazz Berry! A fruity sweet wine with intense bouquet and taste of fresh raspberries. Served chilled with desserts made with dark chocolate, creme brulee, custards and even over ice cream. Jazz Berry with chocolate, what could be better? Hmmmmm……


Berry Black

Oh my darling…anyone with family roots in rural Missouri will recognize this wine as being part of the rich heritage of Missouri winemakeing. Produced on family farms by the first wave of German wine-growing pioneers in the Hermann area in the 1850’s, this wine exhibits the natural sweet fruit and berry characteristics of freshly picked blackberries as they explode in your mouth. Yummy!



The elegant enticing aroma of this dry full bodied Rose’ evokes the scents of raspberry and pineapple guava. Inspired by the tradition of old world Rose’s, it makes a great companion to grilled chicken, soft shell seafood or spicy Mexican cuisine. Handcrafted for the adventurous at heart. Serve slightly chilled. Salud!



The wine divas will dance on tables; Bacchus will reel; and Odysseus will set sail once again…, all for the love of Traminette. This aromatically floral, mineral rich, semi-dry wine is evocative of jasmine tea, honeysuckle, rose, peach and kiwi. It will refresh on warm summer eves, delightful with dessert or make a great companion to spicy cuisine. Serve chilled, enchante.



More Wine Down Wednesday Posts


Halloween Décor – Blood of the Vine

Happy October 1st!!!  I am always excited for the fall.  The weather starts to cool down.  The fall colors start to come out.  Sweaters and boots are back.  It is cool enough to relax around a fire outside.

It is also time to start decorating for fall and Halloween.  I always love decorating for this time of year.  Halloween is so fun and the fall colors are my favorite.  I love the oranges and deep reds.

Every year at Halloween, I love looking at the little haunted houses.  To me, these are always so neat, but for the price (and fear of ending up with hundreds of them) I have always stayed away.  But this year while shopping at Menard’s, I couldn’t turn down this one… a haunted winery.

hallween decor blood of the wine 1

I set up a small Halloween scene under our TV with the Blood of the Vine Winery, a string of orange LED lights, and a piece of coral.  What a way to start the season!

hallween decor blood of the wine 2