Friday, October 30, 2015

Life Lately

It's Halloween weekend, and I'm excited to see my girls dressed up as Elsa and Anna...we are so creative over here! ;) There's a 100% chance of rain tomorrow so it should be interesting to say the least. I haven't bought Halloween candy yet because everyone knows what happens to Halloween candy when you buy it early...you eat it and then blame the empty bag on your spouse!

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Lily is in an art class once a week, and I have been so impressed with her creations! She can sit at her art table and color or create for hours...I love this about her. Two of her latest pieces are below...I plan to frame them both!

 


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The Toys R Us Christmas catalog arrived in the mail, and it's seriously provided hours of entertainment for Lily and Hadley...

Hadley loves doing everything with a stethoscope around her neck...while wearing her new church shoes. I tried them on her after her nap yesterday, and she had a meltdown when I tried to take them off. So we wore them the rest of the day. You know how it goes...


Lily brought the Christmas catalog for some light reading while in the car. Seriously that thing hasn't left her side!


Lily pored through the magazine after it arrived and used a blue marker to mark the things she wants for Christmas. I looked at it with her afterwards, and nearly everything on every page was marked. I had to be the bad guy, reminding her that Santa doesn't bring us everything we want...she seemed to understand, and then I witnessed her pointing out things in the catalog to Hadley: "Hadley, don't you want this My Little Pony house for Christmas? This Frozen castle? This camera? This Lalaloopsy house? This baby doll?" I was laughing so hard, listening to her trying to convince Hadley to ask for the very things that she, in fact, wanted...things Hadley isn't interested in whatsoever. I think she has a future in sales, that one.

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I'm one of those people who has to have some form of Chapstick with me at all times. Don't even try to get me to go to bed without a glass of water and Chapstick on my nightstand. I've tried a few new ones lately that I've really loved. You can find the Vaseline and Nivea at Target or any drugstore. I ordered the Rosebud Salve from Nordstrom.



 
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Lastly, some funny/some inspiring things to leave with you...
 


 
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I hope everyone has a great weekend! See you back here on Monday...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sesame Garlic Beef Tacos & Black Beans

This is one of my favorite meals that we keep on repeat here. The flavors are really good, and it's a nice spin on traditional tacos. I love the yellow corn tortillas (they just feel a little healthier!), and the slaw adds a nice crunch...not to mention the colors are really pretty!
 
And almost any time we have a Mexican dish I serve these black beans as a side. It's easy to put together, and they're really yummy and a little spicy.
 

 
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Sesame Garlic Beef Tacos
{Better Homes and Gardens}
 
8 white or yellow corn tortillas (I used yellow)
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 recipe for Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Slaw (below)
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stack tortillas; wrap in foil. Heat 10 minutes.
 
In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat. Drain fat; set aside.
 
Add sesame oil to skillet. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds over medium heat or until lightly browned. Stir in soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, water, and crushed red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return beef to skillet and heat through.
 
To serve, spoon beef onto tortillas. Using a slotted spoon, top with Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Slaw. Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha if desired.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Slaw


In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup very thinly sliced cucumber and 1 cup shredded red cabbage. Let stand 15 minutes or up to 6 hours.

 
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Best Black Beans
{Allrecipes.com}
 
1 (16 oz. can) Black Beans
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
 
In a medium saucepan, combine beans, onion, and garlic, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Season with cilantro, cayenne, and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes, and serve.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Loving Lately

A sweatshirt that I can wear in public and still look pulled together? I'll take two please.
 
 Oversized Spacedye Sweatshirt
 
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I'm so glad the flannel trend is still going strong. I love the emerald green in this one...very unexpected for plaid.
 
 Shrunken Boy Shirt
 
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When I'm looking for dressier tops, I try to find ones that are multi-functional. I could wear this one with skinny jeans and booties for date night and could also pair it with black cigarette pants and flats for church.

Boho Bloom Top

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I love a classic sweater...the fringe on this one funks it up a little.
 
 
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I'm always looking for casual tops that are long enough. This one fits the bill, and I like the olive green color.
 
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Love the blue in this flannel shirt. Would look great with black jeans.
 
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These boots are my favorite...love the lower heel and the buckles make them a little more edgy.
 
 
I'm all about a poncho. This one looks so cozy.
 
 
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 Such a cute peplum top and looks comfy too.
 
Mix-media Peplum Top
 
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 Can't beat the price on this poncho, and the neutral color would go with almost anything. 
 
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Duck boots for little girls...swoon! And how cute are the pink laces?
 
 Duck Boots

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I have these grey jeans, and they're the best. I wear them as often as my regular denim. Blank Denim makes some of my favorite jeans...designer look at a much lower price.

 
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I hope everyone has a wonderful day! Also, just a side note...just because I'm loving it lately doesn't mean I'm getting it lately. Ha! I've always enjoyed "window shopping" and making wish lists, and I do love fashion. But I also live in the real world, with a family and a budget...just wanted to put that out there! ;)


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Breastfeeding...or not

I read an article recently on Scary Mommy that really resonated with me. It was titled "Increasing Evidence Proves Breast Isn't Always 'Best.'" Pretty bold title, huh? I was definitely intrigued.
 
The gist of the article is this: from the onset of pregnancy, women are inundated with information on why they should choose to breastfeed. The facts are laid out in front of us...breastfed babies are healthier and smarter; they have fewer ear infections; they have fewer cavities; they're less likely to have learning disabilities...and the list goes on. And on. And on...so basically if you can't breastfeed or choose not to, you have been led to believe that you just haven't done well enough. You're not woman enough. You're not mother enough. And I'm here to tell you that there's nothing further from the truth. I had to learn it the hard way.
 
As soon as I announced I was pregnant, I was flooded with advice...some of it I sought out; most of it was unsolicited. People love giving you advice on breastfeeding. I felt like everyone around me assumed I'd breastfeed. People never ask you what you're going to do. They forget you have a choice. They forget it's none of their business.
 
I'll be honest, breastfeeding was never something that I was drawn to like many of my friends have been. I figured I would try it, as I honestly felt like there was no other option. No one talked to me about bottle feeding; everyone talked to me about breastfeeding. No one told me to text or call or e-mail in the middle of the night with bottle feeding questions; I had many invitations to seek advice on breastfeeding...whenever, wherever, no questions asked.
 
We never imagined or planned that Lily would be delivered via C-section. But she was, and I was truly just happy to have my baby in my arms. The immediate skin-to-skin contact didn't happen as I thought it would, and I was in a lot of pain from surgery. Plus, the anesthesia made me sick, and no amount of medicine seemed to quell my nausea. I kind of felt like I was doomed from the start, but I know there are other women who have much more difficult experiences post-delivery.
 
The entire time I was in the hospital (3 days), I breastfed. I'll be honest, it never felt natural to me, and I was never comfortable. But I kept on keeping on. Like I said, I felt like there really was no other way. Or at least I felt like I would let everyone (mainly myself) down if I waved my white flag.
 
Once we got home, I felt even more lost. If it didn't feel right to me in the hospital, within those safe walls, and with all the support and resources, what did I really think would happen once we were home? I recently wrote about my struggle with anxiety and depression, and postpartum these struggles were only magnified. I felt paralyzed with all the changes (what new parent doesn't?), and the reality of being the sole provider (at least at first) of this tiny person's nourishment was overwhelming...and those feelings left me crippled, and I wasn't able to cope. Like I stated earlier, I know being a new parent is overwhelming to everyone. I know I wasn't alone in that feeling. But when you can't really function or enjoy this new creation and this most special time with him or her, that's just not the way it's supposed to be.
 
We were home two days when my Dad told me exactly what I needed to hear. I was talking on the phone to him and had a breakdown. Hello postpartum hormones! I told him I was having such a hard time feeding Lily. I didn't like it; I never felt like she was getting enough to eat; I couldn't figure out how to hold her and still be comfortable; I felt like I was only good for one thing and that was feeding my child; I felt like I didn't exist anymore. That was when my Dad, my dear Dad, said some of the kindest words I've ever heard. He said, "Lindsey, give that baby a bottle and call it a day." Truth. Sometimes you just need your Dad to talk some sense into you. So that's what I (along with the support from Rob) ultimately chose to do. And I felt like I could finally breathe again.
 
Finally, this is my experience with breastfeeding and mine only. Some of my very best friends and closest family members have breastfed and have loved almost every second of it. I think that is truly wonderful. I am in no way knocking breastfeeding, and I think if you want to breastfeed your child in public until he or she is 4-years-old, then you go girl. You do you. I'm also not saying that there aren't benefits to breastfeeding. Of course there are. But at the end of the day you have to weigh those pros and cons. At the end of the day you have to take care of yourself too.
 
I remember my OB-GYN telling me throughout my pregnancy, "Healthy moms make healthy babies." I, of course, agree with that, and I think we need to follow that advice after birth too, especially in those first few weeks that can be so tough. Healthy moms raise healthy babies. Our individual health is so important, as we are typically the primary ones taking care of these precious new lives. And if we're not OK, then they won't be OK. And that's the bottom line.
 
I think it'd be so wonderful if we could all support one another, no matter our choices. After all, I think most of us are doing the very best we can do, each given day. And this thing called motherhood is hard. We need to be on the same team, cheering each other along from the sidelines, waving our foam fingers and painting our faces in support of one other. No matter our choices, I think we're all pretty darn amazing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Life & Weekend Update

The weekend kicked off with me seeing the doctor for the second time in a month! This cold/flu season has already put me through the ringer, and it's just begun! Turns out I have bronchitis exacerbated by asthma, so I'm glad I went. Have you ever coughed so much that your abs hurt? That's where I am right now...despite an antibiotic, inhaler, steroids, and cough syrup! Whew...I'm feeling much better already, so that's the good news.

So Friday and much of Saturday was spent recovering. And I was well enough to work on Sunday.

Speaking of work, it was one of those days where you leave, thinking to yourself, "This is why I became a nurse." Things were steady enough to stay busy, but I wasn't overwhelmed with my patient load...and my patients were just the best. I was able to share some jokes with a few, and it's always fun to get a smile out of someone who is having a hard day. I discussed end-of-life issues with another patient's family...and as hard as that is, I felt honored that they trusted me enough to ask some big questions. I encouraged one family member to eat his meal outside of the patient's room...sounds silly, but she was NPO (nothing by mouth) and was starving. I could tell she didn't have the courage or the strength to ask her loved one to leave the room. So I did in a playful manner, and I could tell she was relieved. It was just a really good day, and I'm so grateful for that.

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I looked at houses late last week with our realtor...I think we looked at around 10-12...you lose count after a while! I narrowed it down to 4 I really loved, and Rob viewed those on Saturday...I surely hope something works out in this group. I'm ready to be moved and settled. Lily will register for kindergarten in March of 2016, so I feel like time's ticking for us to be in the right county. On that note, I'm looking forward to becoming a part of the public school system! I went to private school and had a wonderful experience, but at the same time I'm excited for my children to try something different. The Madison schools are top tier, and I think it'll be good for them to go to school with a large, diverse group of kids...all the while getting a great education. Sometimes when you ultimately end up living in the same city where you grew up it can feel like history is repeating itself. Like your children are living a replica of your own life...just years later. And there's nothing wrong with that, but I want them to pave their own unique path, here in this same area where I grew up. Does that make sense?

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Mid last week I went with Lily on her class field trip to the pumpkin patch. It was so fun to see her interact with her classmates. And those teachers...wow...they are amazing. I don't know how they do it.


Her field trip was to the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum...the same "ag museum," as we call it, that I went to with my classmates when we were little. Lots of fun trips down memory lane that day.



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Has anyone else noticed how spectacular the sunrises are in October? I always notice the sunrise, and it's like something shifts in October...and the sky and the sun and the clouds mix together even better than they do in previous months. I love sitting on my couch in the mornings, catching a glimmer of pink out of the corner of my eye...then walking over to the blinds and opening them to see the sun waking up. It's just magical. (And, yes, I am the crazy woman outside on my deck every morning taking pictures of the sunrise!)

 



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I found the best crackers at Whole Foods...they're thin and wafer-like, so you can eat the entire box and not feel too guilty. I used them for a snack on Saturday and served them with sharp Cheddar and summer sausage. It was a great combo.



 
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Would you like to know one of my biggest regrets in life? Buying Rob a juicer about 4 Christmases ago. Not only is that thing bulky and requires a lot of cleaning by hand when you're done, but juicing is just not my thing, I've learned. Rob is trying to juice more frequently (yay, me!), and he wanted me to drink one with him Friday night since I'd been sick. Hmm...never again...I somehow got it all down...carrots, kale, apple, pear, ginger, and lemon.


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It is raining here, and we haven't seen true rainfall since July, I believe (seriously!). I'm going to spend today cleaning our house and playing catch-up with grocery lists, laundry, doctor appointments, and bills. The fun stuff of adulthood. I hope everyone has a great Monday and a happy week ahead!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life Lately

So, this morning Lily's class at school is going to the pumpkin patch, and I'm so excited to tag along. I love seeing my children in their environment, interacting with their friends and teachers.
 
And then this afternoon my realtor and I are looking at lots of houses. I'm not going to lie, it was a big (BIG) let-down to not ultimately get the house we put a bid on. I've finally moved on, though, and am excited to see more today. I've said before, and it's true...at the end of the day it's just a house...but I am a nester and love having a house that feels like a home. I hope we can find that.
 
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Hadley is always opening and closing our dishwasher, and I sometimes find random things placed inside. Yesterday, I found this. Ha...I think this is a sign we have too many pumpkins at our house!
 
 
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I'm in a Bible study on Tuesday mornings, which I love...yesterday was my turn to bring food, and I brought a breakfast casserole and Halloween bark. Random combination, but I thought it might end up being a little something for everyone! I made another batch of Halloween bark and omitted the candy corn but added pistachios. Yum. The saltiness of the pistachios was just right. And this breakfast casserole is the best. We typically make it every Christmas morning. Such a fun tradition I love continuing.
 

 
Breakfast Casserole
{Batesville, Mississippi, cookbook...don't have the title or author!}

2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup uncooked quick grits
4 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk,
1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
2 pounds mild sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained (I used 1 pound mild/1 pound hot)

Bring water and salt to a boil; stir in grits. Return to a boil; reduce heat. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine grits and cheese in a large mixing bowl; stir well until cheese is melted.

Combine eggs, milk, thyme, and garlic salt. Mix well. Add a small amount of hot grits mixture to egg mixture, stirring well. Stir egg mixture into remaining grits mixture. Add cooked sausage, stirring well.

Pour into a greased 12 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator and let stand 15 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes.
 
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We've been spending every afternoon outside these past few days. Below is Hadley's model pose. There's nothing cuter, to me, than a toddler in TOMS. Lily has always been particular about her shoes (all of my friends know this...she was especially fond of the socks and sandals combination)...I bought these TOMS for her when she was 2-ish, and she refused to wear them. Thankfully, Hadley has loved them.
 

And then...what a gift...sisters holding hands. My heart could burst.

 
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The Instagram account @Socalitybarbie does it again...can't stop laughing over this one...
 
 
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Lastly, a quote from one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner...
  
 
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I hope everyone has a happy day...


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cheeseburger Shepherd's Pie

Comfort food...in my opinion there's nothing much better. Especially this time of year when the temps are a little cooler. I found this recipe for Cheeseburger Shepherd's Pie in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine last year. It sounds kind of random, but trust me, it's really good. A co-worker turned me on to the Cheeseburger Pizza at Pizza Shack, and since then I've become a firm believer that cheeseburger flavors work anywhere.
 
I used 2 pounds of ground beef and found that the recipe made enough for two small casserole dishes. So we now have one in the freezer and can pull it out in the near future. Always a positive!
 
I thought the recipe needed salt, so I added salt to the meat mixture before assembling. I also used about 1/2 a cup more water than called for, probably only because I added more meat.
 
 
Cheeseburger Shepherd's Pie
{Better Homes and Gardens}
 
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut up
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan cook potatoes in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed. Gradually add sour cream, milk and salt, mashing or beating to make potato mixture light and fluffy. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.
 
Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef, sweet pepper, onion, and garlic over medium heat until brown, stirring to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off any fat. Stir in tomato paste, water, corn, pickles, mustard, and oregano. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
 
Spoon beef mixture into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Spoon mashed potatoes in mounds over beef mixture. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake about 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese melts. Top with green onions and/or bacon, if desired.
 


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Enjoy! I hope everyone has a great day...


Monday, October 19, 2015

Weekend Update & Recipe for Halloween Bark

We had the best weekend here, despite Rob being out of town! He's been so busy lately, and we've missed him...
 
According to our forecast, the weather was supposed to turn much cooler on Saturday, so I had big plans for us that day. Once the girls got up, we headed to Krispy Kreme for some Halloween donuts. I mean, is there anything better? We took advantage of the cool temps and ate them outside on the deck! What a perfect start to our day...

  
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We played a lot of hide and seek. Seriously, there is nothing my girls love more than a game of hide and seek. It's so fun to hear Hadley trying to count. She always starts with "10." And Lily thinks if she stands perfectly still that I won't find her. Too funny!
 
 
 

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I did a little gardening and planted some pansies and rosemary in one of our plant boxes. That should get it for the fall and winter. Fingers crossed...
 
 
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And what weekend in October would be complete without some pumpkin crafts? I found these cute googly eyes, mustaches, and gems at Target, and they were perfect for decking out a pumpkin.
 
 
 
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We did this crayon pumpkin craft last year, and it was such a hit I knew we'd have to make it a tradition. The link to the craft is below. It's seriously so much fun...I enjoyed it as much as the girls. Aiming the hairdryer at the crayons to melt them was oddly cathartic. Ha!
 
 
 
 

Melted Crayon Pumpkin Craft
(click the above link for directions on how to make)

And a few tips just from experience. I used regular super glue, and it worked fine. I learned the hard way last year to not use a hot glue gun. Umm...hot glue + crayon wax = melted crayon before it's supposed to melt. Duh. You have to be patient with this craft. Hold each crayon in place with your finger after you've glued it onto the pumpkin. They don't stick right away. Lastly, if a bee lands on your hand during the crayon setting process, don't wildly fling your hand and knock all the barely-glued crayons off. #truestory #lessonlearned
 
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I'd been seeing recipes for Halloween Bark on Pinterest and knew I wanted to try it. Be forewarned...it's really good...like, I need to find someone to give the rest of ours to before I stay up late, hide in a closet, and eat it all myself. It's so fun and colorful and is perfect for this time of year. And it'd be so cute for a Halloween party!

I couldn't find almond bark at our grocery store, so I used an entire bag of Ghirardelli melting wafers, and they worked perfectly.
 
 
 
 
I lined a baking sheet with wax paper, so clean up was a breeze. It took only about 3o minutes in the fridge for mine to set, and it easily broke apart into pieces for serving.
 
Halloween Bark
{The Pioneer Woman}
 
1 package White Almond Bark
16 whole Graham Crackers
Pretzel Sticks, Broken In Half
Oreo's, Chopped
Reese's Pieces
Chopped Pistachios (I didn't use these)
Mini Chocolate Chips
Other miscellaneous ingredients: mini marshmallows, candy corn (I used these), M&M's, colored sprinkles, different nuts, broken chocolate bars
 
Melt the almond bark over a double boiler (I used a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water). Stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly.
Arrange whole graham crackers together on a rimmed baking sheet so that they're butted up against one another. Pour the melted almond bark over the top and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly over the surface.
 
Sprinkle on pistachios, chocolate chips, pretzels, and Reese's Pieces (along with anything else you'd like to add.) Lightly press all the ingredients with the palm of your hand to make sure they're all anchored on.
 
Place the pan in the fridge and allow it to set completely. Break the bark into smaller pieces. Serve on a platter or package in small cellophane bags.
 
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Lastly, just some photos of my girls...I thought I got some good ones that really capture their little personalities.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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I hope everyone has a great Monday and a happy week ahead!