Can’t Live Without It- Crockpot

As temps continue to soar here in the Valley of the Sun, most days get upwards of 110*, I am constantly looking for ways to keep my house cool without running my A/C at full blast 100% of the time. I’d rather avoid those astronomical electric bills if possible.

Using my oven is one of the quickest ways to heat up our house and since I can’t always talk Landon into standing outside in the blazing heat to BBQ, I’ve recruited an old classic to help me out!

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I love using a crockpot to cook meals and while I think it is a perfect way to make soups during the Winter, I find the season I use it the most is Summer. I love that I can prep our meals in the morning or even the night before, throw it in the crockpot and dinner is done when Landon gets home and I’m not trying to get dinner made during Brynlee’s bewitching hour. And using these liners make it even more enticing to crockpot our meals, clean up is a cinch.

Here are some of my favorite crockpot recipes that we have on repeat around here:

Honey Balsamic Pork

Chicken Fiesta Bowls

Mississippi Roast

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I also like to use my crockpot to keep things warm, like mashed potatoes for the holidays.

While I no longer have an 8-5 job outside the home, when I did, I would often prep my meals the night before, put it all in a ziplock bag and throw it in the crockpot the next morning. Actually, sometimes I still do that. Mornings can be a little hectic around here depending on the mood my toddler decides to wake up in and so sometimes it’s just easier to do all the prep work the night before after Brynlee has gone to bed. I also like to set reminders on my phone reminding me when I need to start my prep work so I don’t get to the middle of the day and realize I haven’t started my crockpot that needed 8 hours to cook. Because that’s never fun…

So, since I have a whole summer to get through, I would love to hear your favorite crockpot recipes. Please share some in the comments.

And don’t forget to check out some other favorites for Can’t Live Without It!

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Stephanie

Laura

Cait

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Brynlee Bee Turns 2!

My sweet baby girl turned two yesterday and now today, as I scrolled through pictures of her for this post, it hit me like a ton of bricks that she’s not a baby anymore. And while I am so proud of the kind hearted, beautiful little girl she is turning into, I can’t help but have tears rolling down my face as I reminisce looking at pictures of her as a new babe. I truly have loved each and every stage we’ve gone through with her and I look forward to experiencing more firsts and watching her learn and grow. But there will always be a part of me that misses holding my baby, smelling that oh so sweet newborn smell as she snuggles into the crook of my neck while I just hold on tight and marvel at the infinite love I possess for her.

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So, we spent the whole weekend celebrating our little love!

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We were so fortunate to have so many of our family and friends come out to celebrate our girl’s second year. And I had so much fun planning her Mickey Mouse themed birthday party. When Brynlee saw all of the Mickey’s Saturday morning she kept running throughout the house squealing in delight saying “Gickey” (toddler talk for Mickey) and pointing to each and every one.

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The red paper fans are from Hobby Lobby, the black from Party City and the red polka dot banner from Amazon. I cut out the Mickey heads from black cardstock and attached them to either side of the fans and the banner.

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We served lemonade in the drink dispenser and used mason jars with daisy lids for the adults and red paper cups from the dollar store that I stuck white circle stickers to, the Mickey themed straws are also from the dollar store. They have a ton of Mickey themed items right now!

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I tried to theme all of the food around the Mickey Mouse characters. Here I made “Pluto’s popcorn” melted white chocolate drizzled over popcorn and mixed with sprinkles. The cups are from the dollar store and again I attached the white circle stickers also from the dollar store.

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My friend Paula came over Friday night to help me decorate and we stayed up way too late making these Mickey Mouse shaped sugar cookies. We had a lot of fun and they were delicious! I found the cookie cutters on Amazon.

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I used the other half of the polka dot garland on our stair banister mixed with polka dot balloons from Party City.

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These are the Minnie and Mickey Mouse ears I made as party favors, they were fairly easy, I have the tutorial coming soon. I backed the bows with clips and just tapped them to the headbands so the girls could use them after the party too.

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I turned our console into the desert table, in addition to “Pluto’s Popcorn”, “Meeska Mouska Mickey Mouse” cookies, I also made “Minnie’s Mouska Cupcakes”, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with red dyed buttercream frosting and white pearl sprinkles and I also made and angel food cake with strawberries and frosted with whipped cream for Brynlee’s cake. Her “2” candle is from Sweet Pea Candles on Etsy. This is the second year I ordered from her and I have been thrilled with the candles when they came both times, she is seriously amazing and her candles are the perfect way to top off any cake!

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I also have a tutorial coming soon for these Mickey and Minnie wreaths. I love how they turned out and will most likely put them somewhere in Brynlee’s room. She was infatuated by them from the moment she saw them.

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I made Brynlee’s dress using fabric from Joann’s. I ordered the necklace from Love Blooms Here. I love how they both turned out and Brynlee just wants to hold her Mickey necklace and carry it with her everywhere.

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At first Brynlee wasn’t very excited about her cake.

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But once she took a bite, she was in love!!!

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And enjoyed every bite! She ate so much cake, but I figured since it was her birthday it was okay! I think she was on a sugar high for the rest of the night! Not only did she not take a nap, but she stayed up until 9 that night.

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As you can see, Brynlee had a lot of fun at her party. I had a couple kids picnic benches (made by Brynlee’s great grandpa), line together with paper draped across and all of the kiddos had fun coloring.

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Even though the temps reached almost 115* the kids didn’t mind once we got the bounce house going. Luckily we have an east facing backyard so our house shades our whole backyard in the afternoon, we also had misters going so it really didn’t feel that bad.

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All of the kids loved going down the slide and of course Brynlee had to go face first most of the time.

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Here is a full shot of all of the fabric magnetic letters and numbers I made for Brynlee.

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Brynlee’s actual birthday fell on Father’s Day, so we surprised the boys with a few hours at Top Golf while us girls took the the littles to the splash pad.

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We also stopped by the Disney store so Brynlee could spend the gift card she received for her birthday and after she already picked out what she wanted and we paid, she saw this Minnie, Daisy and Pluto and decided she would make a break for it out the store with them. It took some serious distraction and redirection skills to get her out of the store without them. It also might have been a little bit funny, but I’ll never let her know that (wink, wink).

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It’s still amazing to me that we celebrated this sweet baby’s 2nd birthday this weekend.

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It has been such a joy watching our girl learn and grow over the last two years.

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From day one, she has always had such a beautiful, sweet spirit, one that I hope we can continue to cultivate so it grows to encompass a love for all things.

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She is inquisitive and so supremely fearless that I find myself living in constant fear of what she’ll attempt next, but still trying to hold back so as not to clip her wings. There is nothing more we want as her parents than to watch her fly!

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Sharing all her firsts, like this sweet smile, and looking forward to experiencing more with her.

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I remember the moment I took this picture, it was the week after we brought her home and I was holding her. I looked down and suddenly realized that while I held this small child, who relied solely on us, her parents, for all her needs, that she wouldn’t be this small for long. And that moment of realization was both terrifying and extremely rewarding all at the same time. I will always miss this sweet face, but I am so honored and excited to witness the beautiful girl and lovely young lady that she is destined to become.

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Such sweet smiles for her daddy!

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I’m not sure if there is anything that can make my heart smile quite like seeing one of hers.

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And so my sweet Brynlee, my baby girl (no matter how old you are you always will be), I must tell you, that the love your daddy and I have for you is so absolute and infinite that you will never know.

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This past year has been such a fun one! Seeing the world through your eyes has made it anew. You’ve made us slow down and appreciate the small things, many of which we’ve grown complacent about and taken for granted. You never pass by a flower without pointing out it’s beauty, or insisting we stop to notice the kitty or bird or plane.

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You’re first train ride through the zoo brought you so much joy that we couldn’t help but smile and laugh along with you as you squealed in delight and pointed to the animals.

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And oh, your love for animals knows no bounds, you want to pet and love them all! Aside from Lola, currently you love kitties and point them out (in life or just pictures) everywhere we go. I’m sure a kitty will be joining our family sometime in the future (once you can clean the litter box;)). And you are always so gentle with them that they are usually more than willing to let you dote on them.

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Your pure delight in all things life has to offer is something we could have only hoped for you.

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We hope you always see the bright side of life and love with your whole heart.

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Because we sure do love you!

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And there will always be days that call for four different colored tutu’s and messy hair.

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Because all we’ll ever need is this smile (and those pigtails don’t hurt either)!

You amaze us every day and we’ve loved celebrating your second year with you! It’s been amazing the leaps and bounds you’ve made in the last few months. You’re finally communicating with your words and it’s been so fun to learn your special language (Gickey= Mickey, Ninie= Minnie, Poo-oh= Pluto, Gook=Milk, Nana=Banana, Bouo=Balloon), you can count to three and do any puzzle we put in front of you. You love arts and crafts (which I’m so grateful for) and to bake, which is always a mess, but oh so fun! You’ve recently begun to mimic everyone around you, which we secretly think is hilarious, but can’t let on because we also have to be careful of what we do around you (ummm, hello curling iron, scissors or knives, anything on the counter that is now surprisingly accessible to you, when did that happen?). You love your doggy, Lola, and insist on feeding her (her food or yours), you’ll give her your water when we are outside on a hot day and constantly try to love on her whether she appreciates it or not. And the love you show for your family is so heart warming, it reaffirms that you know how much you are loved and have learned how to reciprocate. We love you so much and look forward to what your third year has to offer. Enjoy being little, our love, time passes by all too quick and it is our hope that you will always enjoy each and every day and take all it has to offer. Happy Birthday, my sweet Brynlee Bee, we love you more than words can ever describe.

Love, Mama and Daddy

Can’t Live Without It

Sorry to have been so MIA this last week. A horrible stomach bug swept through our house and landed us in the ER with Brynlee so she could get an IV. Between that and trying to get our house finished in time for Brynlee’s party, this hasn’t been the best week ever.

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Which brings me to my Can’t Live Without It, my baby girl! She turns two this weekend and I just can’t believe it! It’s amazing how quickly these last two years have flown by and yet I can’t really ever imagine not having her. She has blessed our lives so much in her two short years and I am just so thankful that I get to be her mama!

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I never knew it was possible to love so much!

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Linking up with Stephanie, Laura and Cait!

Life Lately

Happy Wednesday friends! We are half way through the week and I hope that it is treating you well so far!

We’ve been spending most nights and the majority of our weekend working on finishing our downstairs re-do. Brynlee’s birthday party is a week from Saturday, so the pressure is on. In all fairness, it’s good pressure, I’ve been wanting to make these changes for a year now and even bought my new drapery fabric back in February. I have been making slow progress, painting baseboards and door trim, but we are definitely really moving now that we have a deadline. The good news is that we are almost done! And I can’t wait!! I truly love how everything is coming together and I can’t even tell you how much brighter is in our house now that we’ve changed the wall paint and draperies. Needless to say, 5 years ago, when we moved into our house, I made a lot of design decision mistakes, but it’s all good, I’ve learned a lot from them and will know never to do certain things again so it was all worth it right?

We did manage to carve a little time out this weekend to have a pool party at my SIL’s house!

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Brynlee loves to swim, she would stay in there all day if I let her. And lucky for her, Aunt Billie Jo had this super fun little boat for her to ride around in so she wouldn’t have to get out, even while she ate a popsicle.

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Actually, the only way we were able to get her out without a tantrum was to tempt her with food. I guess 2+ hours of swimming will make a girl hungry!

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Aside from their time in the pool, the girls had a lot of fun playing together!

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It was so nice to see Brynlee play so well with others! We’ve been going through this anit-sharing phase lately, so I was a little worried with how she would act. Hopefully this is a sign that we are turning the corner on that and can play well with others again!

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We also made sure to spend plenty of time contributing to Brynlee’s sticker addiction.

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Oh the stickers!!!

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If I’m not careful, I can quickly find myself in situations like these… It took me nearly an hour to get all of these stickers off once she went to bed. Because of course, if you try to take them off in front of her a tantrum of epic proportions ensues with hundreds of very whining, high pitched “no’s”! Sometimes, it’s just not worth it, #pickyourbattles #andthenhidethestickers

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We also took a trip to the library for story time, but apparently they cancel story time in the summer (WHAT!?!?!?!) because they have a summer reading program instead… I’m all for promoting young reading, but they just took away the only toddler program they had and I was really looking forward to having something fun, that was indoors, to do with Brynlee this summer! I’m not so happy with the library at the moment, we can regain our friendship this fall when they bring back story time.

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All was not lost, Brynlee did have a lot of fun playing in the children’s play area and even made a new friend. That new friend’s mama and I got to talking about how disappointed we were about losing story time and she told me about a rec center that is a few miles away that has all sorts of summer programs for toddlers! I was so excited that when I got home I jumped right on to the computer to sign Brynlee up for a few, BUT… they all started the first week of June and were all filled up. How do people just know about all these awesome things! I’m hoping they will have another session starting soon, maybe during fall, some of the classes sounded really awesome! If not, I guess I know to look for the next summer!

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And of course, Brynlee got her picture with this guy, so for her, the library was a total success, guess that means it was for me too!

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Perhaps the highlight of Brynlee’s week (although, maybe not, she does really like to swim… Wow! Brynlee had an awesome week!), was the chance to have this bounce house all to herself! Brynlee’s loving Nana was so kind as so buy a bounce house to use at Brynlee’s birthday party. She decided it would be beneficial having one for all the grandkids to share and to pass around for birthdays and other events. I am pretty sure Brynlee agrees! She loved it! Thank you Nana!!!

We decided it would be a good idea to take it out and make sure we knew how to set it up and that there was nothing wrong with it before the big day. BTW, set up was super easy and so was the take down.

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It took Brynlee a little bit to figure out this little climbing wall so she could go down the slide.

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But once we got her pants off, she had no problems!!

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She must have climbed up that wall and gone down the slide 50 times! She was having so much fun! I love it because I finally found something that can wear that girl out! I swear, she has so much energy!! My family jokes that she is the energizer bunny. But not on this day, this day she came inside, drank her milk and headed to bed (without peep) EARLY!!! And friends, that never happens!!!

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 I hope you are all having some summertime fun and enjoy the rest of your week!

Magnetic Fabric Letters and Numbers Tutorial

Oh my, is this post a long time coming! I originally wanted to make these for Brynlee’s first birthday and bought the fabric (from Hobby Lobby BTW) almost a year and a half ago! I even printed out and cut out the letters back then too, then, there they sat, in a big white envelope, swallowed whole by my craft room, only to be discovered again (very recently) when I was doing a much needed clean out. My craft room/closet could very easily make it onto an episode of hoarders! I try to tell my husband I’m a collector, but I don’t think he is buying it…

Anyway, on to this slightly time consuming, but super easy and so worth it project!

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You are going to need 2 yards of fabric total, I wanted to have a variety of colors and patterns so I used 4 quarter yard pieces. I selected a font I liked in word, typed out the alphabet, numbers 0-9, a star shape, heart shape and arrow all measuring 4 inches (except the arrow, I made that a little bigger), printed them out, then cut them out. This part is no fun, but once you have them cut you will have them forever (provided you take care of them) and will be able to use them in a multitude of other projects! I already have a few ideas of what I want to do next with them.

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Divide your letters up evenly between your fabrics, A- Yellow, B- Blue, C- Pink, D- Green, etc.

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Fold your fabric over and lay your letters on top.

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Trace them using a disappearing ink pen (this is the one I have).

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I preferred to trace on the back of my letters, just in case I had any issues with my pen, so make sure, for your directional letters and numbers, you trace the mirror image. For the record, my pen left no residual ink, I just wanted to error on the side of caution.

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Also, take your quarter yard of fabric (or however much you decide to use), fold it in half, lay all of your letters and numbers you plan to make with that fabric out and trace them at one time. Not only will this save tons of time, but it will cut down on fabric waste so you will have some scraps to save for another project. I only did less so it would be easier to see in the pictures what I was doing, with my 3 other fabrics I traced all at once and it was much quicker.

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Now grab your magnets (I would highly suggest purchasing flatter ones than what is pictured, this is all I had when I decided to start this project and it proved slightly troublesome when it came time to stitch. I know you can purchase magnets in rolls, that might be a good idea so you can cut them exactly to the size you needed. These magnets are a strength level 3, I used 2-3 magnets per letter and they worked perfectly. E-6000 is my go to glue when I want something to stay stuck forever, I even have my husband obsessed with it now. We use this stuff for everything! You can get it at any craft store, I’ve also seen it at Walmart and Target. I didn’t want to use hot glue because I was worried about the magnets being able to stick through the thickness of hot glue, this goes on really thin and has amazing staying power. Just be careful to not get it on anything you don’t want to be stuck together forever!

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Glue your magnets down, adhesive side up, in a few spots on your letter. Peel off the adhesive backing, cut a piece of batting to size and sandwich it in between your two pieces of fabric and magnets.

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Time to sew!!! Finally, I know!! Just stitch along your marked line taking care when going around the curves, lifting up your pressure foot when necessary to readjust

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This is a great project for practicing your stitching, by the end you will be a pro at straight lines, curves and angles. Also, don’t forget to do the middles, like on B and O, there were a few time where I wasn’t paying attention and missed those then had to go back. UGH!!!!

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Using zigzag scissors (to prevent the ends from fraying), cut out your letters, numbers and shapes as close to your stitch line as possible, taking care to not cut through any of your stitches. Ummm… I may or may not have done that and I also may or may not have used Fray-Check to seal it. Which worked fine by the way, I’m just going to claim I did that to take the guess work out for you should you run into that situation, yeah, I like that. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! B13

Oh, I hate how glare-y my fridge is in this picture! But once I had them all cut out, I realized this is the only magnetic surface I have! Guess I will finally need to make that framed magnetic chalk board from Pinterest I’ve been talking about making for years. Do you see a pattern developing here, procrastinator, party of one??? On the bright side, the fabric protects your fridge (or any other surface for that matter) from scratches, so until I get to making that magnetic chalk board I can rest easily that no matter how hard my little plays, my fridge will not be taking the brunt of it.

So, now for a recap of the supplies you will need:

2 yards of fabric

magnets (I highly recommend trying the roll method)

glue (E-6000)

disappearing ink pen

batting (I used some scraps from blankets I’ve made in the past, if you don’t have any, just buy the smallest amount you can, I think that’s crib size

zig zag scissors

letters, numbers and shapes stencil (or make your own like I did)

All in all this project took me about 3 nap times to trace and sew, so about 4.5-5 hours. I kept the sewn letters on my counter and just cut them out, usually one at a time, whenever I had a spare moment. As for cutting the letters out from paper initially, I did that over a year and a half ago, while I was still working and did it whenever I had down time at work, so I really have no idea how long that took total, maybe an hour or so…

I want to stress that this project is really forgiving and so even if you are new to sewing you should still give it a try. Like I said, it is perfect for practicing your stitching and by the end you will be a whiz!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and decide to make some too! If you do, tag me on Instagram (@blissfullymadeblog), I would love to see them! And please, let me know if you have any questions or would like clarification on any of the steps.

Have fun and happy sewing!

Meal Planning Monday

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Happy Monday friends! I hope you all had wonderful weekends and are starting the week off strong. To help, here’s another meal planning Monday to hopefully save you some time! Enjoy!

Sunday– Smoked Pulled Pork and German Potato Salad

We went to my SIL’s house for a pool party and my BIL smoked a pork shoulder producing the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches! You could easily crockpot one too!

MondayChorizo Kale and Pepper Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Boats

TuesdayCrockpot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

WednesdayCrockpot Chicken Cacciatore with Zoodles

We are finally harvesting some zucchini from our garden and I can’t wait to use them!

ThursdayEasy Garden Skillet

Friday- Crockpot Sesame Honey Chicken

SaturdayThe Best Grilled Chicken and Grilled Garden Veggies

I am seriously addicted to this delicious chicken! Plus I love grilling in the summer so I wont heat my house up using our stove. For the garden veggies, I’m hoping to get another zucchini or two, some of our yellow squash is almost ready to be picked and we have an eggplant that’s just about ready too, I think these will make a lovely mixed veggie side dish!

Anyone else growing a garden to use in their summer dishes? What are some of your favorites?

Can’t Live Without It- Iced Coffee

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I’m just going to come right out and say it… I love coffee!!! Like really, really LOVE it! For those who know me, this really comes at no surprise, it’s extremely rare to ever see me in the morning (or let’s face it, anytime before 3:00pm) without a coffee in hand. But with the temps soaring here in AZ (ironically it is raining today, but this weekend it’s supposed to get up to 109* UGH!!!), my freshly brewed hot coffee each morning just isn’t as refreshing as it used to be.
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Enter, Starbucks Iced Coffee!! I really love the convenience of already having my coffee made in the morning and it makes it so easy to go and get a refill anytime I want throughout the day. Actually, it might make it a little too tempting… And with this French Vanilla Coconut Milk creamer it is absolutely divine!

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I just pour the coffee over ice.

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Splash in some creamer. Is it just me or does the creamer swirling through the coffee look just heavenly?

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Give it a good stir and enjoy!!!

This is seriously my new favorite way to have coffee! While I definitely love a good latte, I usually drink my hot coffee black, I’m not really a huge fan of creamer. But this stuff tastes amazing! And isn’t too sweet for those early morning wake up calls (thank you Brynlee).

Now go out and get yourself some of this amazingness! And have a great (caffeine filled) weekend!

As always, today I’m linking up with Stephanie, Laura and Cait!

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