Sweet Summertime Treats

It’s the middle of summer, and we’re hitting those triple digit temperature numbers! You are probably craving something sweet, juicy, or cold – and if you’re like me, summer is my favorite time to be creative and try something new! What better way to practice those creative skills in the heat of summer than by trying a new recipe? Whether you’re in the mood for something creamy and cold, fruity and juicy, or sweet and refreshing, we’ve got some great recipes to try this summer!

Lemon Icebox Pie

This is actually my great-grandmother’s recipe! I remember being so excited for her famous lemon icebox pies as a kid. Who knew they were so easy?? All you need is:

  • 6 ounces of frozen lemonade (let it thaw for a few minutes)
  • 8 ounce container of cool whip
  • Can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Graham cracker crust

Whip the first 3 ingredients together, pour it in the crust, and let it freeze for a couple hours. It’s the best remedy to those hot summer days!

Dairy Queen copycat orange julius

Photo from Simplee Thrifty

Those delicious Orange Julius treats from Dairy Queen are famous for a reason! You can make one from the convenience of your own home with just 7 easy ingredients. Check it out at Simplee Thrifty and try it today!

Watermelon ice cream

What screams “summer” more than these words? Watermelon is one of the most refreshing things to eat on a hot summer day – mix that with ice cream and I’m sold! Try this delicious, fruity, and healthy recipe from Easy Peasy Creative Ideas.

Healthy fruit salsa

Photo from What Molly Made

I don’t know about you, but “fruit” and “salsa” would not be something I would put together…until now! This healthy fruit salsa recipe from What Molly Made is a fruity dessert that is good for you and satisfies that sweet tooth at the same time. It also includes a recipe for cinnamon sugar pita chips, the perfect crunchy chip to dip into the fruit salsa!

Strawberries and cream magic bars

Photo from Tidy Mom

Get your baker’s hat on for this awesome recipe! It has strawberries, cream cheese whipped cream, and a cookie crust – sounds pretty magical to me! Check it out at Tidy Mom and make some for your next get-together.

Peach Cobbler

Photo from Pinch of Yum

There aren’t many things more American or traditional than peach cobbler on a summer’s day. This recipe from Pinch of Yum is so low maintenance and delicious, you won’t believe it takes only 15 minutes of prep time!

Frozen oreo pudding cake

Photo from Lil’ Luna

Were you wondering when I’d get to some chocolate recipes? This one is perfect for those chocolate lovers in the summertime! Lil’ Luna has an awesome recipe for this that just makes my mouth water!

No Bake Summer berry Lasagna

Let me tell you, this recipe from Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts is the real deal. It’s perfect for the summer and 4th of July with it’s 3 layers: red (graham cracker and strawberry jam), white (cheesecake with strawberries), and blue (blueberry jello salad). Top it off with more fruit and white chocolate, and you have the perfect combination.

s’mores bars

S’mores are the perfect summer treat and always make me feel like I’m at a campfire! These s’mores bars bring together everything you love about s’mores, without the need to build a fire. Try it today from The Baking ChocolaTess!

Sheet pan fruit pizza

Here’s another (semi) healthy yet delicious and sweet fruit recipe! Just cut up all the fruits you want, and pile it onto a sugar cookie crust. You could even drizzle some chocolate or caramel on top…the possibilities are endless! Get it from Jamie Cooks It Up.

The next time you have a family event or get-together with friends, whip up one of these amazing treats and enjoy the summer!

10 Ways to Sell Handmade Creations

Are you a crafting fiend with an obsession for DIY projects? Crafting is a hobby that many people enjoy because it is relaxing and a way to express yourself! If you have a passion for crafting and making your own creations, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could make some money at the same time? We have found some great websites and resources available to help you sell your works of art! If you have a love for creating and crafting, check out these platforms that help you get your handmade items out for the world to love and buy.

  1. Absolute Arts. This website is perfect for artists and sculptors! It is free to sign up, and you can list up to 20 pieces of art for free. They have a huge community of artists and even help with marketing your items.
  2. ArtFire. This is a pretty well-known website and community for artists and creators to sell their products! They have boutique accounts for more commercial products, and also handmade artisan shops with one-of-a-kind items. They offer free seller accounts with various upgrades that you can purchase as you become more experienced.
  3. Craft fairs or farmers markets. Most cities have multiple craft fairs or weekly farmers markets that are great opportunities for local crafters and artists to set up a booth and sell their creations. Do a google search for your area and you can easily find how to sign up to become a vendor!
  4. Cratejoy. This is a little different than the others because it turns your products into subscription boxes! Subscription boxes are becoming more and more popular, and this website helps you get your small business started by creating your own subscription boxes with your items and reaching a wide audience of customers.
  5. eCrater. Here, you can create your own online store for selling your items – for free! It’s very easy to set up and you can customize the website and add your own logo and photos.
  6. Etsy. If you haven’t heard of Etsy, you’re missing out! Etsy is probably the biggest online shop for handmade, one-of-a-kind products. You can find almost anything on there and it reaches a wide variety of needs and people. It is great for crafters who want to try to sell their work because you can set your own prices and sell as many items as you want. It is free to open up a shop, and while there are some listing fees, they are pretty small.
  7. Facebook Marketplace. Facebook is such a great way to reach a lot of people, and the Marketplace feature helps you sell items when you don’t really know where else to go yet and are just getting started. It also targets your specific location, making it easy to find people near you who want to buy your products!
  8. iCraft. For the crafters who make their own unique creations from scratch, this is the website for you! iCraft is only for original, handmade creations – they do not allow vintage items or commercial products. They offer resources and tools to get your small business going and give sales tips if needed. You can start selling on here for just $5 a month, with multiple business plans to choose from.
  9. Shopify. This is another great option for your creations! For just $9 a month, you can create your own online store and customize the theme. They offer many helpful resources and tips for how to start your own small business, such as creating a logo and building your online presence.
  10. You Can Make This. This website is also different from the others because instead of selling your items, you are creating tutorials on how to make different kinds of handmade items and then selling the tutorial! Your product/idea has to get approved, but then you can start creating your tutorial and including all of the details for this product. People can purchase your tutorial online and you make 50% of the sales.

Recommended Books to Read This Summer

Summer is kicking off and we have some great books on our summer reading list! We have compiled a variety of best-sellers for 2019 that are sure to appeal to all kinds of readers. These are 15 highly rated books that range from thriller novels, love stories, and historical dramas that will captivate you this summer!

American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Sankara is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she’s being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers–he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

Gingerbread, by Helen Oyeyemi

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met. 

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value.

Golden Child, by Claire Adam

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life.

Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, 13 years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters – leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro

What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history – the life she had lived – crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is an audiobook about secrets – secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than 50 years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is an audiobook about the extraordinary moment we live in – a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics, but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.  

Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

The Age of Light, by Whitney Scharer

A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Light tells the true story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. “I’d rather take a photograph than be one,” she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. As they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee’s life forever.

Lee’s journey of self-discovery takes took her from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from inventing radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it’s possible to stay true to herself while also fulfilling her artistic ambition–and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, by Anissa Gray

The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.

Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.

As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

The Dreamers, by Karen Thompson Walker

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo

Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.

Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.

As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths racks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.

The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought. And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

The Weight of a Piano, by Chris Cander

In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, built at the turn of the century in Germany, on which she discovers everything that she herself can do with music and what music, in turn, does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her young family from Russia to America, at her husband’s frantic insistence, and her piano is lost in the shuffle.

In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, 26-year-old Clara Lundy loses another boyfriend and again has to find a new apartment, which is complicated by the gift her father had given her for her 12th birthday, shortly before he and her mother died in a fire that burned their house down: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Orphaned, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, who in his car-repair shop trained her to become a first-rate mechanic, much to the surprise of her subsequent customers. But this work, her true mainstay in a scattered life, is put on hold when her hand gets broken while the piano’s being moved – and in sudden frustration she chooses to sell it. And what becomes crucial is who the most interested party turns out to be…

When You Read This, by Mary Adkins

For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.

Cheap Hangout Ideas

timon-studler-1329756-unsplash

Summer is in the air and you’re ready for some fun with friends after a long semester! Summer time is always great for family vacations, road trips with friends, and other big, exciting adventures. However, sometimes you just want to have fun without spending lots of money! Here are some great ways to spend your time hanging out with friends that don’t break the bank.

Game Night
Having a game night with my friends is probably the cheapest and most frequent activity we do. It can also be an inclusive activity especially when you have friends with kids (hello twenties). Board games don’t have to be boring, so we usually opt for different games every week such as:

1. Mafia – this card game can get pretty intense especially if your friends are great at being secretive! Essentially, you are assigned a card and given the role of either a detective, a doctor, a mafia member (the killer), or an innocent civilian. The purpose of the game is to find the killer before everyone else gets killed. Find all the rules here.

2. Murder Mystery Games – with this game, you can either go all out or play it casually. There are hundreds of free downloadable online if you don’t feel like paying for a pack. Here is a website with 9 free ones you can look at right now!

3. Heads Up! – this app is great for a large group of people. The purpose is to get someone to correctly guess the word that is on the screen, either by singing, miming, or giving clues. The app is free to download and has tons of categories to choose from!

Picnic/Barbequeben-duchac-66002-unsplash
When the beautiful spring and summer weather hits, take advantage of pretty days by having a picnic or even a barbeque! Like game night, this activity can also be pretty inclusive and if you plan on hosting, there’s no shame in making it a potluck/bring-your-own-food outing. The great thing about picnics is that you can host it at pretty much any free place. Bonus points if it’s at the beach or a lake!

Exploring
This category is pretty broad, but exploring your city is always an option. You probably would take the option to travel instead of staying home, but what allures us to hitting the road is the notion of experiencing new things and seeing new places. If you live in a pretty big city, chances are you haven’t seen everything. Try out that new coffee shop or go to a restaurant you’ve never been before. You can even use this opportunity to sharpen your photography skills! If you live in a pretty old city, there’s probably a bunch of historic places that offer guided tours.

Try a New Recipe
This may be hit or miss with some people, but at the end of the day, eating is essential. Pick a recipe that aligns with your cooking experience and try it out. If you’re new to cooking (or think you’re terrible at it), get someone who has experience to help you out. You can do this with friends, your significant other or even do it to bond with your family. Plus, this will give you an opportunity to try out all those recipes you’ve pinned on Pinterest!

Craftingvladimir-proskurovskiy-529247-unsplash
In the age of DIY, there’s plenty of how-to videos floating on the internet. Don’t be afraid to get artsy and try something new! You can try pretty much anything, from crocheting to woodworking. Put on a Bob Ross video and paint with your friends! You can even plan crafting events around holidays and birthdays like card making, pumpkin carving, and gingerbread house building.

Mini Golf/Bowling
Not every city has a TopGolf or a Main Event, but chances are, there may be something similar. There are also tons of other options like indoor skydiving, VR arcades, go-karting, ice skating, and roller skating. Check out your local entertainment spots to see if they offer discounted evenings, or browse Groupon for some deals to save money!

Escape Rooms
Escape Rooms are hot right now and they keep getting better and better! The most expensive we’ve seen was $30/person, but there are some rooms that go for around $15. Do your research and pick the best one that suits you and your group.

Live Musicbogomil-mihaylov-519207-unsplash
You don’t always have to pay for a concert. So many restaurants, lounges, and even coffee shops have live music. And if you’re feeling bold, some places even have open mic nights! A lot of downtown areas carry events like this almost every night, so check out their calendars and see what sounds best to you and your friends!

Use some of these ideas or brainstorm your own, and go have some fun this summer!