Mermaid Bridal Shower

“When you smile, it’s pure perfection. It shines through everything you do.” – Ariel

Last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to host a bridal shower for one of my closest friends, Ali. We have been friends ever since we were very young, fighting over Polly Pockets, spending hours learning about our makeup, and helping each other through college. She was one of my bridesmaids and we got to enjoy one of my favorite activities during my big day: Ali doing my hair. Now I am lucky enough to be her maid-of-honor and she is getting married next month! (Our anniversaries are just 5 days apart!)

Ali has a big love for all things mermaid, glitter, and sunshine. Of course, we HAD to throw a Mermaid themed bridal shower. This is going to be a LONG post today, as I will provide ideas for decorations, games, food, etc. Lots of pictures and lots of links!

INVITATIONS

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I got the idea for Ali’s invitations on Etsy. My budget was limited and I am pretty crafty, so I figured I would just make them myself. It cost me about $20 (including supplies, envelopes, and shipping costs). Not bad at all and they were received very well. I combined some different ideas together, but here are the two I really liked:

DECORATIONS

Obviously, lots of purples, aquas, gold, and GLITTER. We used a lot of antique bottles, sparkly gold wine bottles, jewelry, paper good, nets, and more.

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  • Net photo wall: We surprised Ali with a bunch of her engagement pictures up on the wall and throughout the home in frames. It was quote adorable.
  • Hanging decor: I bought the cute aqua poms on Amazon and purchased the Chinese lanterns from Michael’s (always used 40% off coupons). I also made the paper garlands after being inspired by a design on Etsy and hoping to save some cash. The original design on Etsy was by LucyBirdy
  • Table decor: I used a shiny, sheer table cloth on the counter with layers underneath to give height to the center. We used a basic table cloth covered by a fish net on the table. We scattered sea shells, homemade confetti (used scraps from paper garland), the bottles previously mentions, and jewelry. I borrowed my sister’s Harry Potter chest and draped pearls and beads out of the opening.

ACTIVITIES:

We had a variety of games/activities: some just for Ali, some active games, some scattered around the house.

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  • D ate Jar: We did a traditional date idea jar, except we had the guests put their ideas on sand dollars or sea shells. Ali picked her favorite idea (coin flip date) and they won a set of Gourmet Sea Salts 
  • Message in a Bottle: This activity gave everyone the opportunity to wish Ali and her fiance, James, some luck and give advice. These were written in private, for Ali and James to read together after the party.
  • Ice Breaker – Share a Memory:  Everyone wrote down one of their favorite memories with the bride-to-be and she had to guess who wrote each one. Then, we all selected our favorite memory and that person won a Little Mermaid Cup.
  • Bride Quiz: Everyone had to check their knowledge with this fun quiz about Ali. The quiz had questions related to her favorites, her fiance, and her life. The winner won a mermaid painting from my company, Inspired by Sisters 
  • The Newlywed Game: This was my favorite! The bride flew in from out of town and one of her bridesmaids could not make the trip. I asked her bridesmaid and James to film a series of question and answers. Ali would have to guess Jame’s answer before we played each clip. It was really fun for those who do not know James to experience his personality on film and she loved having the other bridesmaid included. Plus, their answers were hilarious!

FOOD & DRINKS

This is why you attend a bridal shower, right? For the free food 🙂

Food

  • Coffee Bar: Hot and iced coffee with plenty of flavor varieties, creams, etc. The iced coffee was a hit!
  • Sea Water: This was super simple, a combination of lemon-lime soda, orange juice, and blue food coloring. I served this in a punch bowl that looked more like a fish bowl.
  • Shrimp & cocktail sauce: self explanatory…
  • Seaweed Dip: Spinach artichoke dip with toasted baguette slices
  • Veggies and hummus: Cucumber slices (sea cucumbers), carrots (Sebastian crab legs), and bell pepper slices (octopus legs). I served three different flavors of hummus.
  • Green Chile “Sushi”: The bride is a New Mexico girl, so green chile is a must! And these were probably the biggest hit at the party. Here’s the super simple recipe!
  • Crab sandwiches: I filled mini crescents with an imitation crab recipe by Olive the Ingredients. The recipe was for pinwheels, but I just stuffed it into the crescents instead
  • Balsamic Watermelon Salad: This was my fave! Recipe is from Layers of Happiness
  • “Clam” Spritz Cookies: I stacked two on top of each other with frosting and a candy pearl
  • Mermaid inspired sugar cookies: These took FOREVER, but they were adorable and worth it

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Last but not least… FAVORS

I had a fun idea for a “build your own favor” bag. So, that’s what I did! I had a cute frame with instructions for each guest to pick a bag, a bath salt flavor (made by Inspired by Sisters), a mini bottle of gourmet salt, and a bag of those adorable cookies to take home.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I wouldn’t change a thing! I loved every little detail. Perhaps, next time, I will do more prep work weeks prior, rather than not sleeping the entire week before. And I should give myself time to get ready between set up and go time… But I loved it, and more importantly, Ali loved it!

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Feel free to ask any questions about the details, recipes, etc. in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you!

Much love,  Taryn    xoxo11825764_10152879548851511_6242717453525241595_n

PS: I didn’t do anything big and crazy for the Bachelorette Party and actually just used Splashthat.com to create a website to act as my liaison for details, invites, etc. Check out our bachelorette party website. I totally recommend doing a site for your next event.

Reconnecting with Family

There is an interconnectedness among members that bonds the family, much like mountain climbers who rope themselves together when climbing a mountain, so that if someone should slip or need support, he’s held up by the others until he regains his footing. – Phil McGraw

A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle and Oregon to visit family and explore new places. It was such a blessing to be connected with family again. I don’t know about you, but I have a very special connection with my parents and siblings. It feels like a part of me is missing ever since they moved away and the pain of missing them is nearly a constant. However, getting to spend a few days with them has filled me back up again and I feel like I get to carry their spirit with me wherever I go.

We spent a casual day in Seattle and Puyallup. We had a large family dinner with my nana, aunts, cousins, second cousins, etc. and spent the evening playing cards. There is something deliciously nostalgic about playing card games or dominos. It is a reminder of the childhood summers spent in my grandparents’ living room in Texas, laughing hysterically as my feisty nana (who is now 94-years-old) would curse us for laying down canasta or me getting into trouble to talking too much instead of playing the game. Puzzles, pecans, and miniature figurines have this affect on me also. I always relish any moment to reconnect with that part of my past.

Oh! Did I mention we went to a Harry Potter party?
Oh! Did I mention we went to a Harry Potter party?

Saturday, we drove down to Oregon to visit my mother, step dad, and youngest siblings. My step dad has done an incredible job remodeling their gorgeous home in an adorable small town an hour outside of Portland. Brea, 6, and Andrea, 4, were quite eager to show their older siblings all about their new life including a large garden in the backyard, daddy’s work shop, and mama’s art room. The kids were sure excited we were there but honestly, my favorite part of the trip was the glow on my mom’s face. Talk about gorgeous (and happy)!

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The thing I loved most about Oregon was the wonderful outdoors. We spent time walking along the trails to Silver Falls, at awe with nature. I’m so thrilled that my siblings are growing up with an appreciation for the outdoors, nature, and gardening. It takes very special parents to take the time to teach their children about how to plant a seed or how to fish when it is much easier to just sit them in front of a TV or X-box. Plus, how can you not want to be outside when it looks like this?!

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The trip was everything I could have hoped for. I got to enjoy tickle fights on the trampoline, late night drinks on the porch with my mom and the big kids, and satisfied a hunger for the wild (only temporarily, of course). There was great food, incredible wine/beer, and some of the greatest people on the planet to share it with. The best part of my entire trip was seeing how happy everyone seems to be in their new homes. My sister, Cheyanne, and her boy friend are settling in incredibly well in Seattle (oh wait… I mean FIANCE! See photos below) and my mother is glowing with so much pride and joy. I wonder if perhaps I have ever seen her that happy before.

See? Look how gorgeous she is! She glows!
See? Look how gorgeous she is! She glows!

It is always hard for me to say goodbye, but I am incredibly grateful that I got to witness and experience their happiness. It makes the distance between us just a little easier to manage. I love them all like crazy.

Thanks for reading, Taryn xoxo

OH WAIT!!! I AM SUPER HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE I WILL SOON HAVE A NEW BROTHER IN THE FAMILY! MY SISTER IS ENGAGED! I AM SO HAPPY FOR THEM!

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(Sorry for the caps, I’m excited. Also, Josh has practically been my brother for years anyways)

Honoring Privacy in a Public World

“Once you’ve lost your privacy, you realize you’ve lost an extremely valuable thing.” – Billy Graham

Don’t worry y’all. I’m still here! I’ve just been avoiding blogging. Not because I do not have things to write about; I do! However, I have been battling with myself about how much to share with the world and how much I need to keep private. Privacy within the home is important and we must continue to honor that even with the world’s curiosity at our fingertips.

I started this blog for a few reasons:

  1. To inspire and connect with others
  2. To “be real” with people, share my struggles with others to motivate
  3. To share my passion for people, health, food, yoga, etc.

So, I’ve been avoiding my blog because I want to be real with all of you. I have been in a battle lately and it is shaping every experience I have encountered in the last few months. It is my motivation for the spiritual journey I have begun and the soul searching adventure I am on. Unfortunately, I felt like my current battle is like an elephant in the room and I couldn’t post without an explanation of my background story.

Truth is, my marriage is going through a battle right now, as I am sure most young marriages do. It is impacting my daily life, my thoughts, my actions, all of which I want to share with you. However, my marriage is MY business. The privacy of our home and our relationship is vital to keeping the connection we have created together. Our struggles are not to be shared with the world, for they are our own.

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I’ve struggled with this because I want to be able to share my story to help others. I have realized I can still do this without providing the intimate details of my life. Just know that I am human. I struggle daily and I am far from perfect. My marriage struggles. We stumble and fall just like everyone else. We continue to lean on something much greater than ourselves. The struggle has created the opportunity for a number of lessons which I cannot wait to begin sharing.

I ask that everyone honor my needs for privacy. It is human nature to be curious, but we should start respecting the need for closed doors, especially in our intimate relationships.

We are still battling. We are still learning. We are exploring ourselves and our relationship. Tanner and I always appreciate your prayers, as I would do for you. As I learn more about myself, love, and this crazy thing we call life, I cannot wait to share the details of those experiences. Let’s learn together!

I am so eager to write again. Much love, Taryn xoxo

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Journey of the Self

Quick post today! Just had to share a quick picture from my shoot yesterday:

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This is a great reminder for why yoga differs from all other fitness activities. Remember, asana (the physical postures) only make up one of the eight limbs of yoga. Yoga is a lifestyle. It is a way of being. It is a path which helps you discover new things about yourself everyday.

Namaste y’all! – Taryn xoxo

Country Thunder Meal Plan

We survived! (Country Thunder AZ that is)

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The last few weeks have been dedicated to Country Thunder preparations and having a blast with my hubby and close friends. Preparations for this mega event each year is always time consuming for me. I am always in charge of the camp site, including meals, camping supplies, and making sure all the newbies truly know what they are in for.

We spend about five (drunken) days in the desert with no electricity, water, etc. I LOVE it! But I know it can be pretty stressful for others who don’t enjoy the prep work as much as I do. The food is the most important aspect to me. I meal plan, prep food ahead of time, freeze as much as a can, and pack the coolers strategically. The best solution I have found for feeling the food cold for five days is by layering the bottom of the cooler with block ice, adding a layer of the frozen food, and then everything else on top. I kept a separate cooler for items that did not need to be cold but could not get too hot, such as cookies, muffins, bins ,etc. I had a frozen gallon of water in the cooler which was enough to keep everything cool throughout the weekend.

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Another awesome trick I discovered this year is aluminum Dutch Oven liners! These beauties saved a lot of time because I was able to make meals ahead of time, freeze them, and all I would have to do is defrost the meal and throw it in the Dutch oven. When dinner was complete, I could simply remove the liner and the oven was still clean! No scrubbing!

Here was my extensive meal plan (for 7 people):

Day One: Dinner Only – Sausage and Potatoes 

Day Two:  Breakfast – Breakfast burritos, Lunch – Burgers, dogs, and sides (pasta salad, chips, beans, etc.), Dinner – Chili & cornbread

Day Three: Breakfast – Breakfast casserole, Lunch – Burrito Bowls, Dinner – Chicken, steak, & veggie kabobs

Day Four: Breakfast – Breakfast burritos, Lunch – Buffalo Chicken Salad Wraps, Dinner – Green chile chicken enchiladas

Day Five: Breakfast – Crunchy Eggs, Lunch – Burgers, dogs, and sides, Dinner – BBQ chicken and potatoes

Other food, snacks, and desserts: cereal/protein bars, muffins, fruit, coffee (& creamer), tea & cocoa, chips & dips, cookies, snack mixes, etc.

 CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RECIPES

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Everyone raved about the food, which is my favorite part about hosting. The appreciation makes all the hard work worth it!

Interested in my personal packing list? Click here! (This list does not include the camping and cooking supplies)

So Country Thunder is a drunken, crazy time. However, I am so thankful that it has become a place for my husband and I to reconnect. We get to leave the worries of the real world behind for a little bit and fall in love all over again. I am blessed to spend the time with him, no matter how crazy it may get!

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xoxo Taryn

Wild & Free

“Be daring. Be different. Be impractical. Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play it safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton

Over the weekend, my cousin (and long-time best friend) visited from Missouri and we had an amazing time catching up.  It is always such a blessing to have people in your life who make it feel like nothing has changed since the last time you saw them, even though it’s been ages and, in fact, everything has changed! It is a comfort to have a friend who knows me completely inside and out. Being around my dear friend, Ali, just feels like home! We are goofy and fun and out of control! I love that and LOVE her!

We used to work together at the Renaissance Festival so we had to go visit the fun. Her parents still work at the festival and Ali’s visit was a great surprise for them. Plus, it was Star Wars weekend, making it even better!

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Afterwards, we went to get matching tattoos with my sister (and business partner), Sierra. We have always wanted to get something matching, eternalizing our fricking awesome friendship! We have been thinking hard on what we all wanted, something to match all our personalities. We were very happy with our choice!

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STAY WILD AND FREE

So why did we pick wild and free? Soooo many good reasons!

Wild: (adj) 1.  Living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated; 2. uncontrolled or unrestrained, especially in pursuit of pleasure

We chose the word wild because it perfectly describes our behavior when we are together. We thirst for adventure. We do not like to follow a set rule; we make our own. We are goofy, over-the-top, and out of control. Not in the way you’d think, like passed out drunk at the party wild. But in a childlike way, our imagination taking over!

As we grow older, one big fear is that we are losing our untamed personalities to fit the “mold” of adulthood. We wanted a good reminder that our sense of adventure and silliness can co-exist with our adult life. Our personalities can still shine!

Free: (adj) 1. not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes; 2. not physically restrained, obstructed, or fixed

Free!!! My #1 desire and priority in life. Freedom is such a precious gift! We love to dream and, in doing so, shape our own lives, regardless of the limitations the world decides to throw at us. Possibility is everywhere! We want to embrace freedom to be ourselves. Freedom to experience things we find important, not what the media tells to enjoy. We want to enjoy the freedom create our own path that suites our needs when the way of the world does not. Free to be passionate, to be daring, to be fierce.

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It is my biggest hope that in placing these tattoos on our bodies, we will continue to be brave in our fight against the ordinary!

Much love! Taryn xoxo

Celebrate with Gratitude!

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that is is.” – Mandy Hale

The first quarter of 2015 has come to an end and I must say, we are having a killer year thus far! If you remember, the word I chose for 2015 was “GROWTH”. Looking back at the start of the year, I realized it is incredible how far I have already come. I officially have my yoga certificate and have taught a couple of classes. My business with my little sister is really taking off and is gaining momentum rather quickly. I am learning so much about who I am and my spirituality. My confidence is growing. My gratitude is growing. My levels of compassion, kindness, and love are growing.

At an event for Inspired by Sisters
At an event for Inspired by Sisters

And it doesn’t just end there! My husband and I both received the blessing of raises this year (woohoo!). Tanner is looking into re-starting an ebay business he really enjoyed doing part-time before he began working his current job at Honeywell. We are both reminding each other of our passions and hope to live a life which indulges in the things we love.

Then there are the simple things: a few of my herbs have started sprouting in my living room windows. Tanner and I are finding more moments to laugh together. We are enjoying more time with family. And there is less stress in our lives.

So, I ran to the store to buy a cheap bottle of bubbly for us to celebrate together. It was simple; however, acknowledging the little accomplishments (our raises and my first Etsy sale) is so important! It shows we are grateful for each other’s hard work and think our achievements are worth celebrating!

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I encourage all of you to find celebration and gratitude for all the little and big successes of your lives. Whether you finally mastered that difficult yoga pose, made the first step towards your dream job, or you received recognition at work for something you’ve been working hard on… it all deserves praise! Not just the final step to accomplishing a goal, but the first step, and the one after that, and the ones halfway through. Celebrate by rejoicing in gratitude. And celebrate with others, especially loved ones. Appreciate their little successes too! Everyone deserves to have their own party!

I would love to hear about your current successes and the ways you celebrate! Comments are my favorite!

Love y’all! – Taryn xoxo

Celebrate with friends and family too! Check out this revolving sushi bar we enjoyed with my in-laws yesterday!
Celebrate with friends and family too! Check out this revolving sushi bar we enjoyed with my in-laws yesterday!

Heads Up: Us Bloggers Aren’t Perfect

” I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” – E.B. White

Hello awesome people! Yes, I’m still here… just stuck in a rut of feeling like I have little to talk about. I promised I wouldn’t turn this page into an ad for my business, but it has been consuming most of my free time lately, so I feel like there is nothing left to talk about. I’m doing other things, of course… I am always doing other things, but nothing which I find interesting enough to write about.

I’m stuck in a rut that I know a lot of you experience. This feeling that I am always too much and too little of everything, all at the same time. It’s exhausting. The criticism I give to my own “flaws” is just ridiculous. And I know that, deep down! I really do. I love who I am and I don’t want to change who I am at all. So why am I acting so crazy?

I’m sure you can all relate to some of these thoughts: I should be giving more time to others. I need to start spending more time taking care of myself. I really spend too much time in the kitchen. I need to stop being so lazy and start making myself healthier lunches. I need to be waking up earlier to do more yoga. I need to be getting more sleep. I need to put more time into my business. I need to give more time to my family. I should be more selfless in my marriage. I should be asking for my needs to be met in my marriage. I’m not smart enough to run a business. I’m not creative enough to sell things, etc. 

It goes on and on. You can all see that everything I continue to beat myself up about is completely contradictory, right? Too much. Too little. And I haven’t wanted to write about anything because I am not feeling all put together lately, like I should be if I am going to write a blog to encourage others.  I should keep my insecurities at bay. Right?

Hmm… Maybe not. I didn’t start this blog to be perfect and teach others perfection. I started this blog to encourage others to love themselves, improve their lives through the little things, and share my passions. I made this blog to be REAL with people.

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Man, what I load off my shoulders. People, listen. I am not perfect! I talk about the importance of a morning schedule, but I oversleep ALL of the time. I talk about eating right, but there are nights I eat chips and guacamole for dinner (with no guilt, it’s delicious). My husband and I have had a rough first year of marriage and my relationship is far from perfect. And that’s all okay!

I  just want to get this point across: the people who write the blogs you follow are human. They have flaws that they probably don’t talk about all the time. For a long time, I compared everything in my life to the bloggers I followed. I would look at their happy, healthy pictures and loathe myself for not being as committed as they are. I would look at their budget plans and panic about our household spending. I became so obsessed with being the “perfect wife” (according to blogs) at the beginning of my marriage, that I soon started attacking my husband for not being a “perfect husband” too.

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I say all this to remind you all that there is no such thing as perfect. It is great to have people we look up to for guidance, but please never let yourself get caught up in what everyone else is telling you to do. Trust yourself and don’t every try to fit into a mold.

You are not too much or too little of anything, especially if you are being yourself. Do not let others, internet and magazines included, define you. EVER. Once the expectations of who we should be are gone, we can strive, as ourselves! No judgment. No guilt. PLEASE!

Wow. See? I already feel better. This is why I blog 🙂

Love y’all, Taryn xoxo

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Quick brag: We sold our first painting on Etsy! Of course, we were ecstatic, but I was mostly excited because our first sale features my personal handwriting, that I have always disliked. See?! We gotta stop hating on ourselves 🙂

DIY: Bottlecap magnets

“Create what sets your heart on fire and it will illuminate the path ahead.” – Karma Voce

Hello beautiful people! It is good to be posting again! I had a crazy week getting ready for a craft booth Saturday. Of course, my sister and I stayed up ALL NIGHT Friday night, stressed about everything looking perfect…. And no one showed up to the sale we were in. Oh well! We are ready to go for next time and got a good laugh out of it. I am super grateful to have a sister who can laugh with me when we are running on nothing but coffee and positive attitudes!

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Today, I thought it would be fun to share a quick tutorial on some of the magnets we sold at our craft sale. We seem to go through a lot of bottle caps in my house (I don’t know how that happens…) and we thought it would be fun to make something craft with all these extra caps. Magnets sounded like a fun idea. Plus, they are SO EASY!

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Supplies:

  •  Bottle caps
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Magnets (I used ¾ “ceramic)
  • 1” circle punch
  • Craft adhesive (I used E-6000 and tacky glue)
  • Diamond glaze (I used glossy accents)

Steps:

Clean the bottle caps! You don’t want your magnets smelling like old beer. Not cute!

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Cut out your scrapbook pieces using the 1” circle punch. I chose scrapbook paper with small patterns, so I could see the complete patterns in my 1 inch circle.

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Use an adhesive to attach the scrapbook paper to the inside of the bottle cap.

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Allow the glue to dry prior to using the diamond glaze. The diamond glaze should be spread evenly on the top of the scrapbook paper, making sure to fill it in all the way to the edges. Allow this to dry COMPLETELY before taking the next step. I would allow a couple of hours. (You can use this time to fill up your wine glass!)

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Use a strong adhesive to attach the back of the bottle caps to your magnets. WARNING: Make sure to place your magnets a few inches apart from other. Otherwise, they will merge together and may ruin your glaze if it isn’t fully hardened yet.

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Once they dry, they’re ready to use or to be packaged into super cute gift sets for your friends! This is a great idea for stocking stuffers, housewarming gifts, teacher gifts, etc. We packaged ours in matching sets of three in small treat bags.

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Let me know how it goes if you try it out!

Yours truly, Taryn xoxo

Roasted Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

” If I know what love is, it is because of you.” – Hermann Hesse

Happy Monday y’all! I hope you had a fabulous Valentine’s Day! Our Saturday was lovely. I scheduled us for a couple’s massage, which was completed with chocolate covered strawberries and a champagne toast (delicious!). Then, we went on a triple date with some friends to one of my favorite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory. I get the starter kale salad. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I seriously dream about that salad….

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I was super excited to share this easy recipe with everyone (which I made last weekend). I am really blessed to have married a man who likes most veggies, especially when they’re seasoned with garlic and lemon. I love “one dish” kind of dinners and was very impressed with this simple recipe for Salmon and Brussels Sprouts from Eating Well. It was the perfect amount of seasoning, not too much or too little. Plus, the prep time was minimal.

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The salmon practically fell apart and each bite melted deliciously in my mouth. So good! I paired this recipe with a mix of brown rice and quinoa, along with some fresh cherry tomatoes. I like having a colorful plate 🙂

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It was the perfect meal to end the weekend. My hubby and I ate dinner in front of the TV (like we were back in college ) while watching Emerson Eggerichs’s Love and Respect video series. I really suggest his work for all married couples. We are learning so much!

And of course, you gotta top off the weekend with something delicious: a homemade strawberry mojito. Mmmm!

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Thanks for reading y’all! – Taryn xoxo