A Garden Update + Homemade Dill Pickles

The end of July means that our garden is at it's peak.
My zuchinni and squash are still growing like crazy.
 Last week, I harvested tomatoes for the first time, I had so many! 
This was my loot from just one day last week! I picked more just a few days later.
Early Girl Tomaotes (Upper Left), Zucchini & Squash (Upper Right), Cucumbers (Middle Right), Green Onions & Carrots that grew too close to each other...Fail (Lower Right) and Yellow Pear, Cherry & Sun Sugar Tomatoes (Lower Left)

Every year our cucumbers are one of the things that grow like crazy and I get so many and I am not quite sure what to do with all of them.
I give them away to neighbors & friends.
I've had so many this year & decided to make some homemade pickles!
They are very easy to make & it only takes a few minutes of prep work.

 Here is what you need {per pint sized jar}
Sliced Cucumbers
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 sprig of fresh dill
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T sea salt

I used cucumbers from my garden, but you can use cucumbers from the grocery store or Farmers Market (From this harvest of cucumbers below, I made 8 pint sized jars of pickles. 4 jars of pickle spears & 4 jars of sliced pickle chips)
 Slice your cucumbers:

Place in jar:

 Add spices to the top:
 Then, add the fresh dill:

Fill jar with water (leaving about 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar) 
Make sure cucumbers are completely submerged. Put on lid.
Leave on the counter for 3-5 days. 
Test a pickle on day 2. 
If it is tastes good to you, then put the jar in the fridge.
{This stops the fermentation process}
 You know the pickles are perfect when they taste great & they still have their crunch. 
If you leave them out on the counter too long, they will lose their crunch and get really soft so it’s important to put them in the fridge when they have the flavor you desire. If you live in a hot climate, the pickles will get soft quicker.

Your pickles will keep for 4 months in the fridge. 


So far, everything in our 2014 Garden has produced except the strawberries (I think something is eating them). I ripped out all the lettuce last week because it had reached it's peak and when the weather hits 100 + degrees, lettuce is not happy. I was thrilled with how my lettuce had been doing and I loved going out to my garden each day to grab some lettuce. I will miss that!
You can read more Garden Updates {HERE}

And, as a reminder, my Rodan + Fields Christmas in July Special ends on Thursday!
Read more about it {HERE}


Christmas in July and #RFGoNaked

Today is an exciting day....July 25th!
That means 2 things!
First, it is the start of my Christmas in July Special 
Secondly, it is #RFGoNaked Day!

Who doesn't love a Christmas in July Special?
And, it's a GOOD one!

If you become a Preferred Customer today July 25 through Thursday July 31, you will get a $25 gift card to either Target, Nordstrom, Starbucks or PayPal Cash!
AND I will pay for your $20 PC Perks cost.
This is an amazing deal! 
Plus, you get 10% off your order AND Free Shipping!
If you have ever considered purchasing Rodan + Fields, this is a great time!
We have products for ALL skin types!
Anti Aging, Fine Lines & Wrinkles, Sun Damage, Sun Spots, Age Spots, Melasma, Acne, Acne Scaring, Sensitive Skin, Rosacea, Eczema and MORE!
What is your biggest skin concern? 
We can help  you love the skin you are in.
Want to know what products are best for you?
Answer these 5 questions {HERE}
Email me at melissa_larson17{at}yahoo.com if you have any product questions or if you want to claim this Christmas in July Special!

Today July 25th is also #RFGoNaked Day!
One of the things I love most about Rodan+Fields is the company's dedication to their motto "Prescription For Change". 
They aren't just changing people's skin, they are changing people's lives through their foundation BuildOn. 
BuildOn is an organization working to break the cycle of poverty, literacy, and low expectations through service and education, read more about it here: www.BuildOn.org
Our goal at R+F is to raise $30,000 today to build a school for students in need. 
Every makeup free selfie (guys included) posted today, July 25th, with the hash tag #RFGoNaked earns $1 for BuildOn. Probably the easiest fundraiser EVER. 
All you have to do, is literally lift your finger and snap a selfie and hashtag #rfgonaked. 
Here is my #RFGoNaked Selfie. 
No make-up, No filter. Yikes!
Your make up-free selfie equals $1, which will be donated to educate and empower students in need through the collaborative work of the Rodan + Fields® PFC™ Foundation and our partner, buildOn
Post your no-makeup selfie using hashtag #RFGoNaked on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

 I hope you join us in #RFGoNaked Day!
If you tag me with your no make up selfie on Instagram today, I will send you a free R+F mini facial!
Let's help Build a School!
What would you change about your skin?  
I am not wearing makeup all day so I hope I don't scare too many people while I am out & about running errands :)


Beer Tasting Party + Beer Cupcakes

This past weekend our court held it's 1st Annual Brew + Chew.
What is a Brew + Chew you might ask?
It is a beer tasting (brew) with finger foods (chew)
My neighbors Steph & Patrick hosted this party.
It was so fun! 
It will now be an annual thing on our court. 
I was in charge of desserts, so of course I had to make cupcakes.
I make A LOT of cupcakes/desserts for our court. 
Almost every court function (which is 1-2 times a month) I bring the cupcakes
Most of my cupcake & dessert recipes can be found in my Recipe Box on my toolbar.

Because this party was a Beer Tasting, I knew I needed to incorporate beer into the desserts!
I made 3 desserts.
Caramel Candied Bacon Beer Cupcakes
Corona Lime Cupcakes
Double Chocolate Stout Brownies

All the recipes are at the end of this post.
You're welcome :)

Here are some photos from the Brew + Chew.
 There were 14 different types of beer to taste. 
They were all wrapped up & labeled with a number so that you couldn't tell what kind of beer it was.
 We were each given a little notebook to rate each beer we tasted.
 And, we each had our own mini beer tasting mug. Mine had a teacher sticker on it since I am a teacher :)
 I am not much of a beer drinker. I only like a couple types of beer. (I prefer Lemon Drops or Wine over Beer). Out of the 14 types of beer, I only liked 2 of them. The other 12 were rated like this:
After everyone had tasted we lined up all the bottles & then revealed what they were!
Kevin and I started a wine tasting group almost 10 years ago were we do wine tasting with brown bags, so it was fun to do this with beer.
I forgot to take photos of all the food...there were 5 types of sausage,  pulled pork sliders, salmon sliders and more....so much good food!

Then it was time for dessert!
Top: Double Chocolate Stout Brownies
Left: Caramel Candied Bacon Beer Cupcakes
Right: Corona Key Lime Cupcakes
After dessert, it was corn hole time! 
I know I say this all the time, but I really, really, really love our court and our neighbors. I feel so fortunate to live on court like this. It is pretty unique and I don't take that for granted!
I highly recommend having a Beer Tasting Party. It would be really fun for a birthday party or for Father's Day! 

Now for the recipes (there are 3 recipes for you!)

First up...Caramel Candied Bacon Beer Cupcakes!!
{Recipe slightly modified from here
Oh my goodness...the guys loved these!
Here is what you need:
For the cupcakes:
- 1 box Butter Cake Mix
- 1 12 oz bottle of beer ( I used an IPA although next time I will use a Pale Ale)
 - 2 eggs

For the frosting:
- 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 1 box powdered sugar (1 pound)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 strips of bacon
- 1/4 cup sugar brown sugar
- Caramel Sauce

 Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. 
Add cake mix, beer, and eggs to a large bowl. 
Beat with an electric mixer according to package directions. 
Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full with cake batter and bake according to package directions, generally 12 to 15 minutes. 
Let cool while you prep your frosting and bacon topping.

For the Bacon:
 Preheat oven to 400°F. 
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. 
Lay bacon flat on parchment and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy and browned. 
Set aside to cool.
After your cupcakes are cooled, frost them:
 Then I use Caramel Sauce (pre-made like you would put on ice cream) and I squeezed caramel onto the cupcakes. Then chopped up the candied bacon and added that as a garnish.
 These were divine!

Next up...Corona Key Lime Cupcakes
Here is what you need:
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 box of White Cake Mix
- 1 bottle of Corona
- 2 egg whites
- 1 T lime juice
- 1 T lime zest

For the Frosting:
12 oz cream cheese, cold
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 T lime juice
1 T lime zest
4 cups powdered sugar

These were delicious!
 I will definitely be making these again....especially on Cinco de Mayo next year!
 *All of the alcohol burns off when you cook these, so you will not really taste or feel any of the affects of alcohol with these cupcakes*

The final dessert I made is these:
 Remember last week when I made Red Wine Brownies?
Well, I decided to try the same thing and make Beer Brownies.
I followed the directions on the box of brownie mix, but  instead of adding the 1/4 cup of water, I added 1/4 cup of beer. ( I used a chocolate stout beer)
I also added a cup of milk chocolate chips to the batter.
Bake the brownies according to package directions.
These were divine!

Have you ever been to a beer tasting party?
If not, you need to have one...and you have 3 dessert choices to make!



Summer Lovin' {Things I am Loving this Summer}

Happy Monday!
I thought I would catch up & share some things we have been loving this Summer!


I am loving spontaneous trips to Lake Tahoe.
A few days after 4th of July, the kids and I decided to head up to Tahoe for 4 days.
Kevin has some huge deadlines at work this month and has been working long hours, so I decided to have a change of scenery!
Last minute my mom decided to come with us also!
 I love everything about Lake Tahoe.
I love that Tahoe is my happy place and I love that it is becoming my kids happy place also.
 I love the smell of Tahoe.
I love the trees.
I love drinking my cup of coffee in the peacefulness of Tahoe.
I love the lake.
I love the quietness.
I love that my kids will play in the sand for hours.
I love how relaxed I am up there.
I love that we don't have internet at our house there.
I love everything about Tahoe.
Can't wait to go back later this summer!

I am loving Stitch Fix.
Stitch Fix is a styling service that sends you 5 pieces of clothing, which are picked out especially for you by your own personal stylist!

 I got my 2nd Stitch Fix a couple weeks ago.
(You can see my 1st Stitch Fix HERE)
I love that they send outfit ideas on a print out card with a note & outfit ideas.
I love that I am not committed to buy anything.
I love that I can send it all back in a pre-paid shipping bag.
I loved what they sent me this month:
I loved that maxi dress (I didn't love that it was too big...I would have kept it in a heartbeat!)
I loved the green capris, but have jeans just like them.
I loved the white tank & coral lace shirt, but they were too much $.
I love the stripe shirt that I decided to keep. 

Have you tried Stitch Fix before?
Check it out {HERE}

I am loving my little  kitchen makeover!
Luke hasn't been wanting to sit in his high chair for almost 2 months.
The problem was that our kitchen table only sat 4 people.
So, we needed to get a new table.

Here is the before...this table:

(I loved this table....gave it to my sister, since they needed a new table!)

And this highchair that was in the corner:

{And if you want to see before pics from when we moved in, click here}

I am LOVING the fact that I don't have a high chair anymore! In fact, we aren't even using a booster for Luke at home. He just wants to sit at the table like his sisters!

I knew I wanted a rectangular table with a bench.
I also knew I didn't want to spend a lot of money since we have 3 young kids and the kitchen table will be getting a lot of use....meals, homework, coloring station, games, etc.
So, I knew IKEA was the answer!
I got this awesome table & chairs there:

The problem was, they didn't have a bench there.
So, I went to google and found this bench:
 Guess where it is from....Walmart!!
I was originally going to paint the top of the bench white, but it actually flows well with our floor, so I am just leaving it as is for now!

While I was at IKEA, I saw this awesome island that had 2 chairs.
Here is what we had Before (an island, with no chairs) I loved that the IKEA island had chairs...and they matched the kitchen table chairs I just got.
I took the measurements and measured out that space in our kitchen.
I would work, so I went back and got them!
 LOVE it!
I got these baskets (also at IKEA) for storage. I put all the kids cups, bowls & plates in the baskets.
One of the baskets is for their snacks so they have easy access. Another basket has kitchen towels.

 Oh, and I got a new rug also...thank you Costco! $20! Love a good deal!
We doubled the seating in our kitchen with the new table, bench & island!
  I really love that the new island has double the working space. Our kitchen doesn't have much counter space, so having a bigger island has helped out!
The new kitchen island is maple wood, so we had to treat it so that it didn't get stained when I prepare food on it. I needed to use something food safe! 
 I picked up a container of mineral oil from Target. It's less than $5 & found in the digestive section since mineral oil aids with digestive issues (we used to have to give Kate mineral oil when she was a toddler & backed up....)
To apply the oil, pour some on the island/counter and then use a rag to rub it all in & absorb.
Do this:
  • Once per day for the first week.
  • Once per week for the first month.
  • Once per month for the life of the island/counter.
 Got a new fruit stand {here} also! 
Love this inexpensive face lift to our kitchen!

I am loving my new Erin Condren life planner.
  It came at the beginning of July.
I love a fresh new planner.
I love that this one is an 18 month calendar.
Even though I have an iPhone, I rarely use my phone calendar.
I need to write things down in a planner. I have always been like that.
How about you?
Get yourself a planner {HERE}

I am loving the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
 I am loving that I have been saving my Nordstrom gift cards for this sale.
I am loving these pajamas that I got.

I am all about Uggs so you know I am loving these boots

They are rarely on sale!
Speaking of rarely on sale....these Frye boots.

I have been eyeing them for over a year.
They go off sale on August 3rd...I think I need to pull the trigger before then. Eek!

What I love about the Nordstrom sale is that I can get things for Back to School/Fall.
It is my favorite time of year for clothes!
I am loving this dress
Love the coral with the leopard belt! Darling!
I also love this dress. Comes if 5 different colors.

Also this one.

It comes in Blue or Black.
 Some statement necklaces will really make the dress pop.

One of these will be a First day of school outfit for myself!
I always get a new dress for the 1st day of school :)

Have you shopped the Nordstrom sale yet?
What did you get?

I am loving planning Luke's 2nd Birthday Party.
I DON'T love the fact that he is almost 2 and no longer a baby.
Seriously, he is a big boy now.
Full on toddler. 
I am loving Luke's love of trains.
Luke is loving the show Chuggington.
I love that he calls it "Choo Choo Show"
I was brainstorming a train party or  sports party...he is also obsessed with balls.
But, I couldn't resist this tagline "Choo Choo Luke is TWO"
So, naturally, he will be having a train themed party.
Here is a sneak peek of his invites I made:
I think it will be a cute party!
 I can't believe he will be TWO in less than 3 weeks. 
Where has the time gone?!?!

I am loving the 1 on 1 time I had with Luke last week while my girls were at Performing Arts Camp.
He is such a boy....loves his trucks & trains. So different than the girls!
It was so great having over 5 hours each day with JUST Luke!!!
He is such a fun kid.

I am also loving that my girls loved that Camp and that they did so awesome in their play on Friday night.
  Know what I am NOT loving?
That school starts in a month!
This summer has gone by WAY too quickly!
What are you loving this summer?


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