Foolproof DIY Valentine’s Treats You Should Try

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DIY Valentine's Day Treats You've Got To Try

Tested right in my kitchen so you don’t have to worry about any of those embarrassing Pinterest fails, these DIY Valentine’s Day treats are pretty fool-proof and are fun, easy, and made with basic supplies that you probably already have in your kitchen.  From bacon bouquets for the hubbies to sweetheart barks for the kiddos, these sweet family treats not only make great gifts but are fun to make together. Because making holiday memories shouldn’t be stressful, it should be fun!

Pin it for future Valentine’s Days, Sweetest Days, Anniversaries or any other holidays. These DIY’s can easily be altered to use any other holiday color or candy so Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc. are just as easy!

Bacon Bouquet

DIY Bacon Bouquet

I started making these for my husband a few years ago and it’s still a favorite gift for him for Valentine’s Day. They’re super simple too!

  • Start with a pack of your favorite type of bacon.
  • Roll up each slice and secure the bottoms with toothpicks in a criss-cross so they will stand up while cooking (I put the fattier side on the bottom so you get a good red tone on the flower top.

Bacon Roses - How To

  • Line each bacon roll on a baking rack (This will keep them from being too soggy if they sit in their own grease while cooking).

Bacon Rosettes - How To

  • Bake per package instructions for your particular type of bacon. (Mine is 400-degrees for 20-30 minutes)
  • Let them cool and then skewer each rosette with shish kabob skewers through the center of each “rose”. You can also use toothpicks, or actual flower stems (which you can get from any florist).
  • Add in a few leafy greens like kale, fresh dill, celery tops, etc to give it a more realistic look
  • Arrange them in a vase or wrap in tissue paper & tada! You did it! And the hubby is going to LOVE it!

You can also add some dipping sauces to the gift. Some of my favorites are pepper jellies, barbecue sauces or maple syrup.

Sweetheart Bark

DIY Sweetheart Bark

This is a fun treat to make with the kids’ help and also a great idea of something they can give to their teachers or classmates. This is another one of those DIY’s that you can change to accommodate the occasion. You can change up the type of candies used to whatever colors or flavors you like and recreate this recipe on other holidays like Halloween, Christmas, or any other day of the year.

  • Start with 2 packages of candy melts or almond bark. (Almond Bark is usually available in Chocolate or Vanilla flavor and you may be able to get melting candy chips in an assortment of colors at any given time of the year).
  • Then fill several small dishes with your favorite Valentine’s Day candies – Sweethearts, Pink pearls, sprinkles, pretzels, dried fruits, etc. Whatever you like.
  • Melt each color individually according to package directions.
  • Pour each color of the melted candy onto a parchment covered cookie sheet alternating the areas you pour each color. (You don’t have to follow any sort of pattern you just want it the colors to be able to be mixed together. Spread it so it’s an even layer.
  • Using a butter knife, slide it around from color to color to create a swirling pattern in candy.
  • While the bark is still melted, sprinkle it with all of your favorite candies, spell out names, letters, words. Basically do whatever you like.
  • Let it set (you can speed up the process by refrigerating it too).
  • Once it’s completely hardened, break it into pieces. Think palm-sized or smaller.

Toss a few pieces into a gift baggie and tie it off with a nice Valentine’s colored ribbon and a message tag and you’ve got some sweet treats ready to gift!

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

DIY Heart Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

What’s better than a warm cinnamon roll topped with ooey gooey icing? A heart-shaped one. These were one of my favorites this year. Not just because they pair perfectly with my morning cup of coffee but because these heart-shaped cinnamon rolls are super easy to make and you don’t even have to start them from scratch. These are a treat you can easily make the morning of so you don’t even have to get up hours earlier than usual to do it.

  • Start with a roll of Cinnamon Rolls. You can use any you like really as long as they’re actually rolls because we’re going to need to unroll them. (I used these Pillsbury Grands Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls when I’ve made them):
  • DIY Heart Cinnamon Rolls - Pillsbury Grands
  • Preheat your oven to 350-degrees
  • Pop open the can and separate each roll from the log
  • Carefully unwind each roll into a long strip
  • Coil the ends in towards the center and then pinch the bottom into a point. Like this:

DIY Cinnamon Roll Hearts

  • Any chunks of cinnamon that come off can be added back into the new nooks and crannies.
  • Bake 13-15 minutes until golden brown.
  • Let cool 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack and ice them

You can use the icing that’s included with the rolls or you can mix it with some of those pink candy melts I mentioned in the previous DIY and add Valentine’s Day sprinkles to give them an even more lovey-dovey look. Either way, they’re delish.

Individual Valentine’s Day Candies

DIY Valentine Candies

Another super simple DIY you could try this year are your own chocolates and candies or suckers in love-themed shapes.

  • Just purchase a candy mold online or at your grocery/craft store and use the candy melts similar to the bark recipe above. I like these silicone heart molds and these heart shaped lollipop molds.
  • After melting the candy, fill each mold with it and let it set up. (If you’re doing suckers you’ll want to add your sucker sticks to the molds before filling them – I used these lollipop sticks that were only $4 for 100)
  • You could also insert nuts or fruits into them after pouring them into the molds to give them a little extra something-something.
  • Once it’s completed hardened, remove them from the mold and add to your favorite candy dish or package them up into gift baggies with a nice ribbon and card.

Valentine Candy Covered Pretzel Rods

DIY Valentine's Day Pretzels

Here’s another great idea that’s fun for the kids to help with and perfect for classroom Valentine’s Day snacks! These were a hit for my daughter’s teachers this year and class snack.

  • Buy Candy melts/chocolate in your choice of colors/flavors & Your choice of pretzels. (We used rods and classic minis for their heart shape).
  • Melt in microwave-safe bowl according to package instructions
  • Dip one side of a large pretzel rod into the melted candy (or half of a heart-shaped pretzel – whichever kind you’re using).
  • Roll the candy-dipped end of the pretzel in nuts, sprinkles, candies, etc – whatever you choose.
  • Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet so they can dry and harden
  • Once hardened you can add them to a decorated mason jar or individual gift baggies with a cute ribbon or card to make a perfect gift. Or just place them on a tray or bowl and set them out for party style serving.

Be sure to let me know how these turned out for you if you decide to give any of these ideas a try! You can follow along on Facebook for more great ideas at Happy Wife Happy Life

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America

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Democracy. Regardless of your political affiliation, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or race, we are all together in making this country great. It starts with us…Not our politicians…Not our president. Us.

Donald Trump is not going to “make American great again”. We are. We are the ones to create our successes. And we are the ones who create our failures. So we owe it to one another to do whatever is possible and whatever is necessary for the sake of our country and our people. Whatever happens with our government, whoever sits on office as president, we owe it to one another to continue to be respectful and kind and to strive to live together in peace and to be the best people and country we can be. And to raise our children to be the same way.

One quote that I liked from the speech though was, “When you open your heart to patriotism there is no room for prejudice”.

So regardless of whether you are celebrating or commiserating today, I just want to remind you all that, red or blue (or purple or black), we’re Americans…and more importantly, human beings. So let’s all just continue to do whatever we can to make our country great and to coexist in this one lifetime we have right now.

Thanks-Giving-Giving-Thanks 

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Thanks-Giving-Giving-Thanks 

It’s been a stressful week. Busy shopping week means busy work week with my writing job. (And the work schedule is not very conducive to Adri’s school schedule anyway). Then peak-order season with the gift shop (Which I’m definitely not complaining about…I just wish I’d have had more time to add some new items to the shop before now). And with a million other things to do around the house, to say I’m frazzled would be putting it mildly. Time always goes so fast and there’s never enough of it to do what you want.

Today was Adri’s Thanksgiving “feast” at school. And even though she was late (because of a mixup over when I should bring her since it wasn’t one of her regular school days), she made it – and with her pineapple contribution in tow. So there’s that at least.

But after having to go back home and work more before going back to the school for the feast, I had barely enough time to put myself together and definitely not enough time to shower first. I broke a bra and broke a nail in my haste…And I was still a few minutes late.

She didn’t mind though. She was excited to see me and have me try the fruit salad and buttered rolls they made this morning. (And it was yummy).

After eating and playing for a bit I had hope return thinking I could salvage some of the plans after all. The morning may have been a disaster but we could still make her teachers a nice, crafty, thank-you gift tonight to give them tomorrow at school…Until I was reminded when we were leaving that Adri doesn’t have school again until next week.

Defeated, I sighed when we got into the car to leave school and head to the grocery and said, “I’m sorry, monkey. I wish I could’ve been there for your whole day at school again like Halloween and that we weren’t always so rushed, but Mommy is just a bit of a mess lately”. Without hesitation she replied, “It’s okay mommy. We all have messes sometimes. I love you and your da best mommy”.

I could’ve broke down, but God knows if I did right now it might not stop. Sometimes I’m not really sure what I’m doing; Feeling pulled in a million directions and I think I’m doing everything wrong. But it’s little reassurances like that that tell me I must be doing something right.

I may have plenty of other things in mind that I want to do, but sometimes there’s just not enough time. And I have to remember that that’s ok. That my house work may get a little behind (or a lot) when I’m working two jobs and momming. And that sometimes our dinner won’t be completely homemade…or even semi-homemade for that matter. And that’s ok.

The important thing is that we are laughing together in our slightly (or extremely) messy house. That we are together enjoying our homemade, semi-homemade or not-at-all-homemade dinners together, that we’re always there for her when she needs us, and that her daddy and I love her bigger than the sky. Through grief, through chaos, through it all. That’s what it’s all about.

…And just to keep me from being too wishy-washy all day, she was a total ass in the grocery store afterward, So I guess it’s also about balance. 😜

But I am so thankful for the blessings in life (even the ones that don’t always seem like blessings at first). I appreciate the crazy, busy weeks. And I am so grateful for my family and for the love of this sweet little girl who, even at under the age of 4, understands that life can get chaotic, but it’s okay. As long as we have each other, it’s okay. And when we focus on that, it’s more than okay. It’s great. Chaotic, messy, busy, hopeful, fun, full of love, running-late, great. And if we can’t get all of that greatness to fit into one day, we’ll be hopeful, grateful, and blessed to be given tomorrow to give it another shot.

So in case I don’t get a chance to say it later this week when things are even more chaotic:  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your blessings are more than you can count…But I hope you’ll take a minute to stop and try to count them anyway.

 

❤ #grateful #thankful #blessed ❤

Thankful Grateful Blessed

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Lest We Forget

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I haven’t been able to watch the news much this week because it’s a little heartbreaking watching people act out in such a way – from both sides. And today all I can think is what it feels like to be a Veteran seeing these images of burning flags by your own people. What a shame.

While this country is torn and seemingly losing it’s f%@#ing minds, burning flags and terrorizing people and towns, let’s stop and remember what that flag actually stands for…What today actually stands for. It’s meaning goes way beyond who our president is (or isn’t). It is every one of us and all the lives risked (and lost) protecting it.

So before you go supporting any type of violent action against any other human or against that flag, think long and hard about the freedoms you have because of it and those that serve and protect it;

Before you go posting about fleeing this country all because of an election;

Before you go pretending that you and your views are any more important than anyone else’s in this country;

Before you go a moment further being ungrateful for all you have because you are too focused on what you don’t have,

Stop and remember all of those who died and who risk their lives every day protecting our freedoms;

Protecting our rights to protest;

Protecting our rights to vote and be heard;

Protecting us.

US.

U.S.

We may not all agree on anything when it comes to politics. We may not agree on the need for war at all. But without these brave men and women fighting these wars, you wouldn’t even be able to protest. So I think we should at least all be able to agree that a tremendous thank you is in order (and an “I’m sorry” wouldn’t hurt either).

This month being the month of gratitude and this day being a day of remembrance, let me just say that I am thankful for my hard-working “uneducated white male” husband, my raging lesbian sister, and my many other friends and family who come from so many different (some completely opposite) walks of life and political and religious beliefs but are some of the best people in this world because they remind me every day that in this “land of the free”, even at our ugliest, we can still coexist and love one another despite our differences. I wish the rest of the country could do the same.

And last but certainly not least, I am extremely grateful to all of our veterans past and present and everyone of our servicemen and women for the work they do protecting our freedoms…Even if we use them to act like “spoiled brats” or “deplorables” sometimes. 😉

Thank you.

Thank you to all of our brave men and women serving this country. I am sorry that we act so despicable sometimes and make you feel that we don’t value what you do for us. We owe you everything….Or at least so much more.

#LestWeForget
#NeverForget
#ForeverGrateful
#GodBlessAmerica
#SupportOurTroops

#LandOfTheFreeBecauseOfTheBrave

lest-we-forget

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Into The Forest 

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Into the forest I go; to lose my mind and find my soul

I’ve got lots of favorite quotes about nature but when my mind and heart are heavy I wander around the garden or stare at the sky for a while and am always reminded of this one. It’s so fitting. Sometimes you just need to escape your thoughts and worries and just vibe with the planet to try to gain peace and clarity.

My mind is full of worry this week and there are so many I know going through difficult times right now too. So many prayer requests recently and so many more unspoken.

But I believe there is power in numbers. So whatever you believe in, could you just take a minute to send out some positive thoughts and energy? If some float my way too I sure won’t complain, but right now I just hope they can help bring healing, comfort and peace to those I know who need it.

And to that end I leave you with another loved quote –

The wound is the place where the light enters you”.

I hope whatever pain and difficulties you are facing now bring you to peace and happiness tomorrow. And may you be a beacon to someone else in their time of need.

💜

  

Savor Even The Worst Days

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Timehop reminded me that on this day last year we received the good news that we were having another baby. If only that excitement could have lasted.

There’s no denying the sting that hits me every time it comes up (or like when I get emails from companies I could’ve sworn I unsubscribed from reminding me when I was due or that my baby should be ten weeks old, etc., etc). But that sting is just a reminder that it was real. That there was real joy there. Real love. Love that I am realizing will never fade no matter how much time passes.

There’s no way around it nor do I have any desire to pretend it didn’t happen. I don’t think there will ever be a day that I am free from thought of it…And that part I’m okay with; Because it was a blessing and an exciting few months while it lasted and, just like with Adriana, I savored Every. Single. Moment.

I was honored to carry that life even if it was only for a short time. It kills me when I hear people complaining about their child(ren) or their pregnancy because, even though they have every right to feel like crap or have bad days, and it’s totally understandable, I still would give anything to be experiencing it all – pains, discomforts, sleepless nights, and all.

So savor every moment – Even the worst days. Enjoy every beautiful, aggravating minute of parenting. Every day of morning sickness or those “pregnancy-blah” feelings. Remind yourself just how blessed you are to have those bad days every now and then that are surrounded by all the good ones.

And rest in peace to that sweet little soul that left too soon. ❤️

No Longer (Farewell to 2015)

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In an empty field I find myself

Mowed of its bounty overgrown;
Now barren and empty-

It’s deepest secrets exposed.
 
And in the crisp approaching winter’s breeze,

I smell the earth and the dying leaves.
The decaying year soon coming to close

As too perhaps my eyes on their sorrows.
 
Another year approaching, a beginning anew;

The fog is lifting and once again I can see;

Still conscious that it’s without you.
 
My world turned cold the day you left

And it’s been winter ever since; 

Searching for what couldn’t be. 

Wishing for you to return to me.
 
I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m not alright.

The days pass by and turn to night. 

Flashes of me here and there,

Hiding behind a shaky stare.
 
I don’t want to numb it 

But I can’t let it out;

I can’t get rid of it 

And I don’t want to be without.
 
Never the same;

Forever changed.
 
Coming to life amidst the rubble 

And then crumbling back down;

How can I feel so alien in my world 

And yet still smile while inside I frown?
 
I feel like I’m now two people – 

One me and one that’s broken;

One that smiles and laughs and jokes 

And an even more fragile one awoken.
 
Something was taken from me, but yet will never leave. 

Things don’t make sense, but make sense perfectly.
 
The depth of my emotions magnified -

Whether in spite of or because of it, I don’t know. 

Staring out – it’s the same window, the same world,
Completely different though.
 
Life goes on and people buzz along, 

Unknowing, uncaring, unchanged.

And I try to absorb their indifference
-
Unaffected, unbroken, mundane.
 
There should be another place setting

Another stocking by the fire;

There should be a happier ending to this year

And not just an aching, fruitless desire.
 
I may never return from the dark,

It seems now the dark is part of me; 

I may never try again

For fear it will consume me entirely.
 
But still I can feel the spring in my veins
Reminding me to live once again.

Seeing an island while I was lost at sea. 

Bits of myself returning to me.
 
The new year approaches and brings a promise:
That although broken, I can go on;

That I can laugh, and smile, and sing 

Even though you’re gone.
 
That although I cry I can still be joyful
And my joy does not need to be obscured;
That just because you are no longer
Doesn’t mean you never were.
                                                                                                       -Stephanie Rader, The Write Side of Life
2015 has been a difficult year though it was still filled with many blessings and joyful moments for which I am incredibly grateful. Things may never be “the same” again but I suppose those changes build who we are – Even if sometimes those building blocks are just the broken pieces of ourselves. Still, I hope that 2016 is a bit more kind to us all.
Happy New Year ❤

Gratitude & Grief 

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I am reading poetry in front of a warm, crackling fire. My sweet (though slightly sick) babygirl is nestled beside me and our furbabies are cuddled up snoozing beside her. There is music flowing through the house and my husband is in his chair nearby enjoying a glass of bourbon with a full belly after a wonderful home-cooked meal. Everyone is comfortable and my loved ones are all safe… There may be a million things going wrong, but in today’s tumultuous times these are the simplest and the greatest blessings to be thankful for. As full of gratitude as it may be, my heart aches and wishes for healing to come to this planet. 
#PrayingForParis

#PrayingForHumanity 

#PrayingForPeace 

Praying for Peace & Healing

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness

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Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. Sharing my story let me know I was not alone in our loss. The road to healing is a long one. In fact, I’m not sure it ever ends. Day by day I remind myself to focus on the positive things though that emptiness and sadness still linger – Always ready for me to break down into tears; Always reminding me of what never was. It makes what I have that much more important. That much more sacred. But it does not erase that reminder of what was lost. These situations are much more common than you know. If you’ve lost a child don’t be afraid to reach out. You are not alone in this. And may the many angels lost rest in peace.

 

The Write Side of Life - Lost Child Monument

The Write Side of Life - I wanted that child

The Write Side of Life - Ask My Mom How She Is

The Write Side of Life - 10 Stages of Mother who has lost a child