2018 - Rachel Teodoro

40 Things I am Loving in My 40's

I turned 40 in September and I was more than ready for it. I think having a kid in college ages you. I think I'm really going to love this decade though. I've been thinking about all the things I'm loving right now and thought I'd put them together in a post because being 40 kind of allows you to decide what you love and it gives you the permission to leave behind the stuff you don't. That said, here are 40 things that I'm loving right now. I put a LOT of effort into this post, so I'd love it if you checked it out because coming up with 40 awesome things is a lot! I even leave you with a little challenge at the end if you care to accept it! 


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Easy DIY Velvet Acorn for your Fall or Thanksgiving Tablescape

A few weeks ago when my husband and I took a quick trip through NYC, one of the must see's on our list was to stroll through Central Park. While we were exploring...ok fine, while I was waiting for my husband in the bathroom, I found a whole pile of acorn tops. I started picking them up and putting them into my purse. I'm not much of a souvenir person. Sure, I like collecting things from where I've been, but I don't want to just collect things for the sake of collecting them. It was then that I realized that I could make a pretty cool souvenir with the acorn tops.  I could display them in the fall and they would remind me of our trip to NYC. You don't have to travel to Central Park to make these DIY velvet acorns, but you will probably need to take a stroll to your local park or in your backyard to get started.

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5 Tricks to Decorating on a Budget

I do not claim to be an interior decorator. Heck, I could probably use someone to help me, but I do know how to stick to a budget and replicate high-end looks at a fraction of the price. I have decades of budget decorating under my belt and want to share my secrets so you can decorate on a budget too! Here are 5 of my best tricks for decorating on a budget. 

mango wood and metal coffee table
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5 Tips to Make the Most of a Quick Trip to NYC

I was recently invited to a conference called Social Media on the Sand at Beaches Resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands {more on that later}. Getting to the Caribbean isn't the easiest thing to do from the west coast, so my first thought was, let's look into flying into New York for a few days before heading to the conference. If I do say so myself, it was a genius idea. 

Not only did it break up the long, multi-leg flight, but it also allowed us a quick visit to New York City and an opportunity to quickly get onto the east coast time zone we'd be in for the next week. The last time I was in NYC was a quick stop in after a visit to New Jersey to visit my grandmother. It was 1984 and there was a complete restoration project of the Statue of Liberty happening. My most vivid memory isn't of the visit to the city, it was of being marched from room to room in my small town Indiana elementary school with polaroid pictures of the lady liberty in hand sharing my visit with every single classroom after that Christmas break trip. People in Indiana in the 80's did not get out much apparently.

With about 36 hours and six zillion recommendations from friends and family and of course the interwebs, we checked off many of the to-dos on our NYC bucket list. I've got 5 tips so you can make the most of a quick trip to New York City.
foggy new york city from top of the empire state building
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Beaches Resort: More Than Just a Vacation

It started with a backpack.

In 2014 I visited my World Vision sponsored child in Uganda. Moses was 9 so I packed a backpack full of school supplies and of course, a soccer ball. We started sponsoring Moses when he was a toddler. We don't speak the same language {though he's learning English in school}, but we communicate through drawings. Every letter we've received from Moses has some beautiful hand-drawn picture on it and I reciprocate with some stick figure of my own on my letters. 

It's our thing. 

world vision sponsored child in Uganda, Africa

School supplies can be hard to come by. 

In rural places like the town Moses lives in Uganda, it's nearly impossible. Many school kids I met were using brown paper bags folded together to create a rough notebook of sorts that they would use the whole school year. 

I've since traveled with backpacks filled with school supplies and special items in my luggage to Zambia, Bangladesh and now the Turks and Caicos Islands. I've started looking at it as a gift of gratitude to the countries that are hosting me. I learn something every time I step foot on foreign soil, it's the least I can do to give back. It's why I was so excited to see that the Sandals Foundation was taking part in Pack for a Purpose when I went to visit Beaches Resort for the conference Social Media on the Sand.

Sandals foundation packing for a purpose

Packing a backpack full of supplies in my suitcase wasn't the only way Beaches Resorts was giving back to the community. When you travel to Beaches all-inclusive resort, it's more than just a vacation, it's an opportunity to engage and empower the community you are visiting.
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How to Keep Travel Sports Siblings Entertained

As a travel sports parent, you already know how much your young athlete loves their sport, or else you probably wouldn’t spend the crazy amount of time and money it requires. Chances are that you love the sport, as well, or at least the bonds you have made with other travel families.

There is one group of people that may or may not be as thrilled about the whole travel sports thing - the siblings. Brothers and sisters are usually just along for the ride. Often, they make friends with the other siblings and keep each other occupied during long travel weekends and practices. But, what do you do when there are no other kids their age or when the whole group of siblings is bored?

Don’t panic! Just plan! You know it’s going to happen, so just be ready. Here are some ideas to keep your travel sports siblings happy.

girls soccer team sitting on a bench

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Instant Pot Beef and Bean Chili made with Dry Beans

One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is chili. I love all kinds of soup, but chili in particular because you can load it up with all kinds of great stuff and try so many different variations of it. One of my favorites is adding spaghetti to it. I think they call that Cincinnati chili. Chili is also a great dish to take to a tailgate or a potluck. Since this beef and bean chili can be made in the Instant Pot, it makes it easy to make in a hurry {with dry beans even!} and take with you on the go.

chili with jalapenos and chips

comfort foods


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Clean Your Gas Range and Oven Without Chemicals

I don't know of many people that decide to just clean their oven on a regular basis. Heck, to be honest, I haven't cleaned mine since we moved in 8 years ago. I actually bought a huge bottle of this toxic oven cleaner, sprayed it inside and let it sit overnight before I could get in there to do any cleaning. That's probably why I haven't cleaned the range since then. No one has time for a multiple day cleaning project. No one.

But alas, I was pulling my Costco sized lasagna out of the oven and that thing went rogue on me and I spilled the whole thing all over the oven door and inside the racks. I wasn't done cooking the lasagna yet so that stuff got baked on. Awesome. Nothing like a huge spill to encourage you to clean your oven, so the next day I went to work. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could clean my gas range with just steam but dang it if I wasn't impressed. Not a single chemical was used and in under an hour, top to bottom, every nook and cranny was clean. Don't take my word on it, come find out how you can clean your gas range and oven without any chemicals.

steam cleaning kitchen appliances
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Life in the Slums of Bangladesh

In February, I had the opportunity to travel with World Vision to the slums of Dhaka and the rural community of Mymensingh. My heart has always been broken for Africa and the people of that continent, and like a mother expecting her second child, I almost wondered how I'd have room to love people from another country just as much as I loved those I met in Uganda and Zambia. Last week I was able to share with a group of passionate volunteers about the work that World Vision is doing in Bangladesh. I have posted a little about that trip, but I wanted to share with you about what was on my heart that day that I shared. Like all stories, it's a woven tapestry of threads that are interconnected but it ends with the same common theme. 

Bangladesh tapestry

If you were to ask me about my trip to Bangladesh, this is what I would share.

cracks in dock

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Easy Meal Planning While at the Grocery Store!

Thanks to Foster Farms for sponsoring this post.

Do you ever get in a meal planning rut? I do. I start making the same 3-4 things every single week. Probably because it's easy to just do what I know, but we all get bored with it. It just never occurs to me to break away from the same old same old until I start wandering the aisles of the grocery store. Then at that point, I am overwhelmed with options! There are so many recipes on-line that if I were to stop in my tracks in the middle of the grocery store, I would be scrolling for hours. Heck, I might as well hunker down and move in. I just don't have time for that. Friends, I found a new solution. I literally just tried it in the grocery store aisles this afternoon and then came home and made a delicious new dinner everyone loved. We got out of our rut and you can too! Here's how:

foster farms chicken stir fry recipe


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Mermaid Clam Cookies for a Mermaid Birthday Party

I've been at this blogging thing for a really long time. So long, that sometimes even I forget about projects that I've done! About six years ago, I helped with the decorations for my niece's 5th birthday party. It was quite the event! I expected no less though since my sister-in-law is a corporate event planner. She knows how to throw a party! 

blue and white under the sea cake


I spent so much time that summer looking for every decor item I could find that would fit the mermaid theme. It's been years and I still see things that would have made a great addition to that party. In fact these mermaid clam cookies are one of them. I think my niece was ahead of her time because now mermaid parties are hitting their peak. So, since it's been awhile I thought I'd share some of the details from the mermaid party I helped with and share these adorable mermaid clam sugar cookies in case you have a mermaid lover that's getting ready to celebrate!

clam with a pearl edible cookies

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Clean Your Fridge Fast!

I've got a few chores I despise. Cleaning my fridge is probably at the top of that list. I think besides our washing machine, our fridge is the hardest working appliance at our house. Unlike the washing machine though, the fridge is something every family member uses pretty frequently {I need to work on the kids and the laundry situation!}, so it takes a beating. 
I think the reason I don't clean our refrigerator very often is because it just takes so long. Or so I thought! I had 15 minutes one day and my HomeRight SteamMachine plugged in and ready, so I thought I'd tackle the fridge to see how clean I really could get it in just a few minutes. It was kind of shocking! The SteamMachine did the hard work and I came behind to wipe up the messes. I'm pretty sure I won't be waiting as long between cleanings anymore because now I know how I can clean my fridge fast. Come see 6 tips on how you can clean your fridge fast!
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Mummy Rice Krispies Treats

It's a little known fact that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. There is something about the fun childlike decorations and treats with googles eyes that get me. Plus, what's not to love about going door to door and people handing you out FREE candy?! I think you will love this Halloween twist on the old rice krispy treat favorite. Why not whip up some mummy rice krispy treats for an after school snack this afternoon? I bet your kids will love them. 

Halloween class party

halloween class party recipes food

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Easy Halloween Microwave Candy Corn Taffy Recipe

One of those random childhood memories I have is of pulling taffy in the basement kitchen of our church. I have no idea how old I was, but I know I was under 10. It was such a fun thing to do because, well, candy. What kid doesn't love candy! 

fall candy recipe

Halloween is one of those special times when candy is in over abundance, but why not share some time with your kids and teach them how to make their own candy. This easy microwave candy corn taffy is the perfect recipe to get started with. It's a fun seasonal fall flavor everyone {not just the kids!} will love!

easy taffy recipe

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5 Reasons Why Online Shopping is Better

This post was brought to you by Fred Meyer Direct. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promise.

I like shopping. I really do, but sometimes it's a major time suck. And as a working mom with three kids, time isn't something I have a lot of to spare. It's one of the reasons why I love online shopping. In the past decade online shopping has changed the way we buy things and I actually prefer to purchase items online rather than to go into a store. I've got 5 reasons why online shopping is better. I'd love to know if they are the same reasons you love it too!

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Goodwill Upcycles Lives: Taking Another Chance on the Thrift Store

Several years ago, I wrote a post titled "Is Goodwill too Expensive?" I got a lot of response from it on my blog and I was just reminded of it when I saw a sponsored Facebook post this past weekend. The sponsored post that was intended to get people to shop at their local Goodwill had people sharing some of their own thoughts {as one does on the internet}. It saw a handful of comments, some of which expressed the same sentiments I've thought. Things like "you get the stuff for free, why are you marking it up so much?" and "your merchandise is too expensive" and "I can get brand new stuff at my local Walmart or Target in the clearance section!" 

After the blog post that I wrote about Goodwill being too expensive, I pretty much stopped shopping at the regular Goodwill store altogether. {Side note: I did continue shopping at my local Goodwill Outlet because I do love a good treasure hunt and their pay by the pound prices were far more affordable I thought}. I was recently invited to an upcycle event with my local Goodwill and it was like this event was created just for me because I do love a good upcycle. That day, I learned that Goodwill upcycles more than just donated items.

Goodwill thrift store

I'm a firm believer in second chances, not only for donated items, but for people and places too. And after my recent visit, I'm ready to take another chance on Goodwill and here's why.

education programs at goodwill
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Polish and Preserve Your Decorative Pumpkins

I call it a healthy sign of adulthood when you have a favorite designer brand of pumpkin. My teenagers would call it "basic". We don't agree on a lot of things. I'm lucky enough to live close to a local farm that sells some amazing decorative pumpkins at a great price. Over the years I've learned a trick or two on how to polish and preserve them so I can get the most out of my pumpkins for the whole season. And by whole season, I mean from September until late November. I love how I'm able to take the muted colors of the various gourds and make them shine all season long. And now I'm sharing my secrets on how to polish and preserve your decorative pumpkins all season long.

blue, white and cinderella pumpkins

teal or blue pumpkins

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S'mores Granola Bars {with Vegan and Dairy Free Options}

S'mores should probably have their own drop down tab on my blog. I kind of like them. A lot. But what's not to like? You've got chocolate and marshmallow and it's all kinds of delicious. Plus there are so many different variations of them. This one has tips on how you can make them vegan and dairy free. I mean, it's practically a health food then right? Come get this yummy s'mores granola bar recipe. You are going to love them!

vegan and dairy free holiday snacks

holiday treats that are vegan and dairy free

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10 Epic Places to Visit with your Family in the United States

When my kids were younger it felt like they would always be in our home. But then we blinked and we realized that we had just a few years left before kids started launching. My husband and I think that travel is a really important gift to give to our children, so we started making a family travel bucket list. We had 5 locations and 5 years to complete them before our oldest left for college. Just after our son's graduation from high school, we completed the final destination that we had laid out. We still have two kids at home and haven't stopped traveling, so I thought I would share 10 epic places to visit with your family in the United States. You can take these as suggestions to add to your family travel bucket list or cross them off one at a time. Either way, I don't think you will be disappointed!

Hilton Waikaloa Kona big island Hawaii

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Creepy Halloween Witches Brew Party Float Drink Recipe

Halloween is just around the corner. Did you know it's my second favorite holiday? It's right up there with Christmas for me. I'm not sure what it is. Probably it's the free candy at every door. I'm also a big fan of a good float, so why not make this not so creepy Halloween Witches Brew party float drink recipe for your Halloween celebration? It's fun and easy and your guests will love celebrating with this easy drink.

green drink in a ball mason jar for halloween party

 

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Grilled Pesto Ham and Provolone Sandwiches



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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Eckrich Deli Meat. All opinoins are 100% my own. Promise I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love.

My husband {God bless him} is such a creature of habit. He's taken a ham and cheese sandwich, chips and a cookie to work with him nearly every single day of his employed life. Earlier this year, he switched jobs for the first time in nearly two decades and nearly every day since, I've heard about one of the guys in his group. I don't hear about his because he's a great engineer {though I'm sure he is}, or because he's been helpful to my husband in his new transition {though I'd venture a guess that he has}, nope, I hear about him because of his lunch. 

You see, my husband in all his years, has not grown tired of bringing a sandwich to work with him. In fact, he loves sandwiches. But I do think he's gotten tired of how boring his is because this guy at work is some kind of a sandwich genius and I've been hearing all about it! So I thought I'd help my husband come up with some new sandwich ideas to bring with him to work. That way, he doesn't just have to be jealous of the awesome sandwich co-worker guy and maybe, just maybe, when he brings along this grilled pesto ham and provolone sandwich, co-worker guy might just be a little jealous of him.

deli sandwich for lunch

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Garlic and Lemon Roasted Cauliflower Rice Side Dish Recipe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooked Perfect® Fire Grilled Chicken for IZEA Worldwide. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's always been important for our family to share a meal together, but as the kids get older and older and their activities start filling up the calendar, it gets harder and harder to squeeze in this family time. We've managed to make this a priority though with quick and delicious weeknight meals that take under 30 minutes to make. If I can multi-task and help with homework or housework during the cook time, even better! This garlic and lemon roasted cauliflower rice with Cooked Perfect Fire Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken is the perfect weeknight meal that has become our family's favorite! It takes less than 5 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to cook leaving you time to do the important stuff, like spend time with your family. 




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Exploring Bellevue, Washington

Do you ever look at your calendar and try to plan something but then realize that you are weeks or months out before you have any ounce of free time? Our summer was like that. We started out with a few weeks in Kona, Hawaii with family, but then we all kind of scattered. I guess that's what happens as the kids get older.

I realized that we needed to hit the pause button and I booked a night at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Washington. If you are local, maybe you have never thought of staying just outside Seattle. Perhaps you are travelling into Seattle before or after a cruise or you are making your way to see the beautiful PNW for a refresh and Bellevue isn't even on your radar. Seriously though, it should be! Bellevue is the gateway to the entire Puget Sound region and it will leave you centrally located for everything you want to explore. 

Hyatt Regency Bellevue hotel Seattle area

Within minutes you can be downtown Seattle exploring {it's only 9 miles away!}, visiting Kirkland and it's waterfront parks or touring Woodinville's wine country. Heck, you aren't far from nearby mountains for hiking, biking and skiing either. Come explore Bellevue, Washington with me! We found that it was the perfect staycation for our family.

boy jumping on bed at Hyatt Regency hotel
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Feeling Confident in Your Own Skin: How to Embrace the Changes in Your Body as You Age

From the time I was little, I remember looking in the mirror and picking out my flaws. My hair was too straight, I had too many freckles, my legs were too skinny. It seems like human nature to pick out all of those things that we don't like about ourselves. I look at my teenage daughter now and I see those same freckles spread out across her nose and I gush over them. Her stick straight hair is just like mine and it's beautiful the way it catches the sun and lays over her shoulders. Those legs I thought were too skinny on me before are now one of my favorite body parts because they've held me up for forty years. There is a little bit of an evolution I've been on the past few decades. I still see the flaws sometimes, don't get me wrong, but I also have come to accept those things as part of me. So how can you feel confident in your own skin? I'm sharing a few ways that I've learned how through the years.

woman sitting on the beach in a bathing suit
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Things to Do at Walt Disney World That Don't Require an Admission Ticket

I love all things free and cheap, but sometimes that's hard to come by on a vacation, especially a vacation to Walt Disney WorldMuch of the magic of a trip to Walt Disney World starts with admission to one of the parks. But, that doesn't mean it's absolutely necessary to purchase a ticket for the day in order to have the kind of fun you expect on a Disney vacation. How cool is that?

Here are a few fun possibilities of things to do. They're cheap {or even free} and don't require you to buy a park ticket for the day.

WDW free and cheap vacation budget tips

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How to Get Through TSA Lines Smoothly

There is nothing more nerve wracking than a long line when you are short on time. It's even worse when you have a plane to catch! You can be the best planner with you pre-printed boarding pass, your carefully packed bags and still you can happen upon a line that's longer than something you'd find on a new Disney ride. If you've ever been faced with the prospect of missing a plane, I've got some tips that will help you effortlessly get through TSA lines more quickly so you can be sitting at your gate with plenty of time to gather your thoughts.

traveling with kids and families, how to get through TSA lines faster

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20 Instagram Worthy Walls of Waco, Texas: A Scavenger Hunt for Murals After Visiting Magnolia Market

You all know how much I love Waco, Texas but did you know I also love a good painted mural wall too? I'm kind of obsessed and I've been hunting them down in nearly every town I visit. I love how an otherwise blank wall that could be an eye sore can easily be turned into an artistic backdrop. Last time I was in Waco, I did my best to hunt down every mural wall I could. I know more and more are popping up all the time, {so much so, that I had to send out my son and his girlfriend to find a few!} but this list should keep you busy for a bit and as you check them off, you just might find a new hidden gem you didn't know existed.
20 instagram worthy walls of waco
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Top Tips to Help Make Your College Apartment Feel More Like Home

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Better Homes & Gardens® 300 Th
read Count
Wrinkle Free sheet set and Wamsutta® Hygro® Duet towels. All opinions are 1
00% my own. I
wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promis
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Better Homes & Gardens® 300 Thread Count Wrinkle Free sheet set and Wamsutta® Hygro® Duet towels. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promise.

I sent my oldest son off to school for his junior year this morning. He's 2,500 miles away from home living in a different state far away from the comfortable safety and four walls we have provided for him as a soft place to land these past twenty years. There are a few things that I mom-picked {like hand-picked but by mom...it's my blog, I can make up words!} to send with him to make his new apartment feel a little less like a temporary college crap-hole and more like home. 



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Six Best US Ski Resorts for Families

When the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, it’s the perfect time to take the family on a ski vacation. But how do you choose which mountain to ski? There are dozens of resorts at mountains across the country, and with so many options, it can be tough to figure out which one is right for your family. If you’re looking for a ski resort the whole family is sure to love, here are six options that won’t steer you wrong:


stevens pass chair lift


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Buying High Quality Furniture at a Fraction of the Price: Getting a Deal on As-Is Furniture

I've always been cheap but I tend to gravitate towards really high-priced, high-quality items. Without fail, my favorite pair of shoes at the store will be the most expensive ones and the furniture I like at the store will be the highest priced. And they are always the items not included in any type of sale or promotion. Always. It's like a gift. However, I have found ways to purchase high-quality items at a fraction of the price because a) I'm frugal and b) I love a good deal. Sometimes you have to work for that good deal though. Especially when it comes to buying high-quality furniture pieces. As I age, I've learned that I just don't have time for buying things I don't like anymore, and sometimes it's hard to find exactly what you are looking for at the price that will fit into your budget. Which is why I'm sharing with you how you can buy high-quality furniture at a fraction of the price. It might take a little work, but in the end, it will totally be worth it to get a quality piece you love.

restoration hardware at a discount
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Homemade Chipwich: Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream is my love language and summer is the perfect time to speak it. I also love chocolate, so what better way to combine all my loves and create these homemade Chipwich ice cream sandwich cookies I remember loving as a kid. Not only are these homemade Chipwich sandwiches easy to make, they are also pretty much everyone's favorite. Nothing beats a homemade chocolate chip cookie except maybe when it's sandwiched with some ice cream in the middle and then rolled in chocolate chips. Come check out this easy recipe.



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Our Dog Has Cancer-Starting to Say Goodbye to a Family Pet

I begged and pleaded for a family dog for the better part of three years. I'd pick up lost dogs and what I thought were strays but turned out to be coyotes too many times to count {well, I only tried to "save" a coyote once, I'm not a lunatic!}. But my husband told me that if the Obama's could wait to move into their new home to get a dog, we could too. A few days after moving in, I got a response from an inquiry I placed about a 12 week old golden retriever puppy that was for sale and two days later we brought Sophie home. And now she's dying. Sophie has cancer.

golden retriever puppy

golden retriever


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Quick Pickle Recipe

There are so many fresh veggies growing right now that are available in your garden or at your local market. One of the best parts of summer is cool, briny pickles straight from the fridge. Canning has always intimidated me, and I'm all about being as efficient as possible so I love the idea of anything quick. Like this quick pickle recipe. Bonus, this recipe works great when adapted for a variety of vegetables. I've got a few variations just for you. Come check it out!


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Easy DIY Unicorn Notebook Back to School Craft

It's back to school time! Kind of hard to believe because I think the summer just started, but alas, we are back to another school year. I remember sending back some of my kids but not all of them and the ones left behind were always looking for school-like things to do while their siblings did their homework at the table in the afternoon. This DIY unicorn notebook would be the perfect thing for that! Or, maybe your kiddo needs a little journal to help jot down their thoughts after school. There is a lot that happens during the day, maybe they want to write it down and process it. Whatever you are using this unicorn notebook for, it's not only fun to put it together, but it's fun to use. I'm not sure I have met a kid right now who doesn't love unicorns, so give this fun little craft a try. I've got everything you need and a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it.


paper unicorn craft with template


paper flowers and unicorn
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