The End of a School Year

May 29, 2021

 We made it to the end of another school year (for me) and the first for Harrison. 

The two of us celebrated with a pool day! 

Just in the nick of time too, shortly after this the bottom fell out of the sky and the temps dropped in the 70's here! 

The older this kids gets the more I have to work for a real smile. Forced kid smiles are terrifying. 

Seriously, the hoops I jumped through for this. 

That first year of school is in the books! For someone who hated waking up early everyday, he was so sad when we left school on Friday. In fact, on the two half days he kept disappearing and sneaking off to his teacher's class. 

Isn't that what you want though, for them to love their teacher so much that they want to spend time with them. It just shows how much he felt cared for, and he surely was. His teacher has a gift for lower elementary! 

He isn't going to be the happiest with me when he finds out he isn't going to first, but we decided to hold him back. He passed Kindergarten, but with his speech delay impeding his language development and has him a little behind in Reading. I've spoken to so many people who say the same thing, for their son they didn't regret holding them back in K, but many regret not doing so. The fear is that pushing him ahead to 1st before he is really ready (maturity) will do more harm than good. Boys just tend to need more time, especially boys who are "all boy" and need time to work on self control and growing up a bit more.  

Most afternoons I workout downstairs in the kitchen nook while the kids play. On this particular day Elliot ate his snack and watched the Faster Way workout. Sometimes he tries to do the moves, it's hilarious to see. 

And since ole Ellie was the queen of spitting out a dry pill, I leave you with a meme. 

I seriously tried it all with that dog and by the time she hit 10 she wasn't falling for anything. At least she was smarter than my grandparents pug, Puggy, who would hide under the table in plain sight. 

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The Chocolate Chip Cookies - Update 3

May 18, 2021

 I've been making these chocolate chip cookies for several years now. All from a friend telling me she used Toll House with double vanilla. 

The change of vanilla took me down a rabbit hole that I haven't quite escaped. So the cookies have evolved and changed over time and with what new techniques I have learned as I go. 

I think we are at blog published update number 3. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

makes roughly 24 small cookies
1 stick of browned butter
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp Mexican vanilla
1 large egg
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate or milk chocolate chips

In small sauce pan, brown the butter on medium heat. You will need to watch it carefully. The butter will froth twice before it is browned and the milk solids start appearing on the bottom. It will smell nutty and change in color to a golden brown. 

If you have time, let the butter come to room temp and solidify. If you are pressed for time, pour the melted butter into a medium sized mixing bowl with the white and dark brown sugar. If you have a hand mixer, use it. If not, a spatula works great with this recipe. Stir the butter and sugar until they are homogenous, you don't want it whipped. 

From here add in the egg, 1 tbsp of whipping cream, and Mexican vanilla. Stir again until it is a homogenous mixture. Don't over mix. 

Next add the apple cider vinegar and stir to combine. Follow this with both the baking soda and baking powder and stir to mix them in as well. 

Begin adding in the flour 1/4 of a cup at a time, I add the 2 tbsp of flour to the first mix - it goes like this (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp, mix. 1/4 cup, mix. 1/4 cup, mix. 1/4 cup, mix) You want the flour combined with the other ingredients before moving onto the next 1/4 cup of flour, but you do not want to over mix this. 

Finally add in your chopped milk chocolate and mini semi sweet chips. Scoop out using a small cookie scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 24 hours minimum. This allows the cookies to meld all their flavors together and taste even better. 

When you're ready to bake preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 9 minutes, but watch the cookies as they may need an extra minute or two. I let them stay in until the very edge is browning and the centers are still soft. I then take them out of the oven and let them sit on the hot baking sheet for about 3 minutes before transferring them over to a cooling rack. This changes depending on the oven I have used to bake the cookies, so be on the lookout to find your perfect cooking time. 

In this week's batch I even added in a good handful of toffee bits I had left over from something else. (While typing this out I've realized I forgot my HWC last night and today's cookies stand the chance of being brittle due to a lack of liquid in regards to the fat content. We all make mistakes 🤷‍♀️.) The heavy whipping cream is added to this recipe to offset the liquid lost in browning the butter, when you brown butter you cook off most of the water. Hence needing added liquid. If you find any cookies you make aren't chewy and are actually brittle try adding more liquid to the recipe. 

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Meal Planning Monday

May 17, 2021

Summer break is around the corner and that means that eating food off of a plate and not out of Tupperware is on the horizon.  

I can taste the fresh food now! 

Thursday | Chicken Burrito Bowl (I'm going to try and copycat Chipotle) 

Friday | Shrimp & Green Beans Stirfry (no exact clue about seasoning yet) 

Saturday | Eating Out 

Sunday | Trader Joe's freezer meal

Monday | Burger Bowl (lettuce, angus burger, red onion, pickles, whatever toppings anyone wants) 

Tuesday | leftovers 

Wednesday | Sam's Chick-fil-a knock off nuggets and fries (the kids fav and my fav on single mom night) 

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How to Find the Right Wedding Photographer

May 12, 2021

 Someone has popped the question, and the engagement is here. You are well on your way to planning out your dream wedding, on a quest to leave no stone unturned – after all, they say this is the best day of your life, which means naturally you must have the best of everything - the best cake, the best dress or suit, and of course, the best photographer.


Otherwise, how will you put up some of the best wedding photos of your big day on Instagram the moment you are back from your honeymoon? As with many wedding services, though, it can be difficult to wade through the sheer volume of options, and for those running on a strict schedule, you want to know what to be looking for right off the bat.
So, with that in mind, this piece takes a look at how you can find the right wedding photographer for you.


Ask Friends and Family for Recommendations


There is a good chance that your friends or family will have a photographer in mind when you broach the subject of searching for one for the perfect fit for your wedding. It might be that they had wonderful wedding photos and could not recommend their photographer enough, or maybe your friends might have an idea of someone who is a fantastic photographer but only does non-traditional weddings. Ask to look at their photos and their videos if you haven’t seen them already, so you can decide if that photographer’s style is for you, and then you can ask for a casual chat. If you are lucky enough to have a plethora of friends and family, you will probably get a lot of different recommendations, especially if you ask on social media; So, don’t overwhelm yourself and do not choose someone just to keep someone else happy! While your nephew means well wanting your wedding to be his first gig, maybe don’t take that risk.

Choose A Photographer That Knows the Area


You will not want a photographer that is out of their depth as much as you are on your special day. Ideally, photographers will know many of the staple wedding locations and the surrounding areas like the back of their hand, which is also great for when it comes to showing you unique and hidden spots to get that special shot! For example, if you are based in Chicago, choosing a Chicago Wedding Photographer should certainly mean they know the area very well and will have past happy couples and clients to prove it!



Get a Test Engagement Shoot


After you have had a one-to-one chat with the photographers and chosen which work and style you like the most, another good idea to confirm they are the right person for your day is to invest in an engagement shoot. This will help give you the impression of what it will be like on the day and what the photos will turn out like. If you do not like the photos, no harm done – after all, there is no limit to how many engagement photoshoots you can have!
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Slow Coffee

May 7, 2021

 I've been constantly trying to figure something out for about two years now, well minus that glorious country wide quarantine time, am I really this busy or am I just not handling it well. 

Am I busier than before, Jeremy has changed careers and where we live has us at a 15-20 minute drive for just about everything. (Don't think I'm crazy, I grew up in a town with three red lights and could walk to school if I wanted.) 

Is it the stage of kids we are in? One is easy to buckle up and drag around town, but the second one adds another five minutes to the buckle up, take out, and all around herding of children that takes place. Is bedtime taking longer or am I just moving slower? 

Why do I have less time? Or better yet, why do I feel like I have less time? 

I know at some point the rush will slow down, as the kids need me less and less my time will once again be freed up. I will cook dinner without standing over a child who is having a fit about the fact that I won't give out popsicles. I won't spend half of bath time mopping water off the walls. People will eventually brush their own teeth, and do it well. 

On thing isn't changing any time soon though, the morning rush. 

Monday to Friday we are in a mad dash. I've got kids that need some sleep, and I do too, so we don't wake up super early for the sake of it. I've got us down to the minute to escape the house. Interstate traffic could actually derail the entire process. So on these days, my beloved coffee is Community Dark Special with stevia and Nutpods creamer. 

It's quick, tastes the same when I am finally able to sit down and drink it at 8:00am as I am taking roll, and it gets the job done. Caffeine ☑️

But those other two days of the week, I don't want that coffee. I want my slow coffee. Nespresso espresso with my foamed oat milk. I want to sit in my cute little chairs in the kitchen nook and drink it slowly in silence without any small people discussing monitor lizards with me. I even wait until I have picked up whatever I am cleaning on Saturday morning before I make it, I have no desire on earth to reheat this coffee and need it at its peak foaminess. 

This slow coffee is what has made me wake up earlier on Sunday mornings. I'll drink my Community Special Dark, but I much prefer to not rush. 

And Sunday friends, it's a RUSH.  This is single mother day 2 of the week and both of those see me driving around on two wheels with the children holding on for dear life. I actually got to church early this Wednesday because I forgot what time services started. Big accidental win! The fact that single mothers leave their house at all is a mystery to me. I just about want to go on lockdown mode when I have to manage everyone alone and be somewhere on time, hence the third child that will never be for us. I can't juggle it. 

But slow coffee, I digress. For my sanity I need these slow coffee days. I need to not rush. I need to capture the essence of the start of this pandemic and go into full shut down mode. Any glimpse of a slow summer morning is a perfect morning in my book. 

Anybody else? What is your version of slow coffee? 

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Meal Planning Monday

May 3, 2021

 This might need to be changed to Meal Planning Thursday - since that's when it actually happens. 

Thursday | Confit Chicken (Issac Toups Cookbook) with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Friday |  Pioneer Woman Spicy Pulled Pork (first cookbook) with traditional colesalw

Saturday | Eating Out

Sunday | Trader Joe's Freezer Meal

Monday | Grilled Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower Mac

Tuesday | leftovers

Wednesday | Sam's Chick-Fil-A Nuggets with Fries

Lunch -Low Carb - Big Mac Salad
Reg Macro - BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potato 
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Simply Earth May Essential Oil Recipe Box || Natural Cleaning

May 1, 2021

 This month's Simply Earth Essential Oil Recipe Box is all things soap making and natural cleaning. 

More natural cleaning products is what initially got me into essential oils. The regular sprays you buy at the store had me in a full blown allergy attack by the end of cleaning on Saturday mornings. I started off with Tea Tree Oil about 10 years ago and haven't looked back on how I now clean. 

If you're new to Simply Earth and are just finding my blog, let me fill you in. Simply Earth believes that essential oils shouldn't be confusing, hence the ability to purchase kits from them to help educate you on how to use certain oils. They also offer the option to purchase single oils on their site on their own, or you can add them to your monthly box order and save on shipping. Subscribers get free access to the Essential Oil Hero Course to help you gain confidence and clarity on using essential oils. What I love the most about them though, they sell at honest prices. No MLMs, no mark up for no reason. Just great oils at a price you can stomach paying for. 

Another aspect about Simply Earth that keeps me coming back, they believe in empowering people to make a difference. With their 13% to end human trafficking campaign, Simply Earth donates 13% of their profits to different charities that are working to end human trafficking. In your box each month you'll see a blip about what charity they are focusing on. 

Let's get into this month's box. 

First off the oils included:: 

Tranquility (a favorite of mine from a previous box!) 


Oregano (amazing for kicking sickness) 


There are 6 recipes included in this month's box as well. You'll be making a Rose Quartz Soap, Sugar Scrub Soap, Herbal Surface Cleaner, Depuff Ice Facial, Let's Be Frank Roll On, and an Unwind Diffuser Blend. 

I love that his month has a mix of cleaning products that range from skincare to home cleaning. My absolute favorite this month is the Sugar Scrub Soap, I love a good scrub and my favorite soap I purchase is exfoliating - so this hits all the marks. 

Follow along with me this week on Instagram (@labride) and I'll be making each recipe in Stories. I'll be sure to save it to a highlight as well! 

As always head over to Simply Earth to order your MAY box and use the code LABRIDEFREE to get a $40 giftcard/credit towards your next order when you get your Bonus Box! 

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