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Category : Living

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Everyone wins with hostess gifts: your host feels appreciated and adored, and you have something to hold in your hands when you arrive at her abode. This round up of beautiful and useful tokens of your appreciation take your gifting game up a notch from the usual bottle or bouquet. All 10 hostess gift ideas are less than $50 (some are $20 and under!) but they feel luxe and will show your host your love.

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1. Mysticeti Whale Salt and Pepper Shakers $26 anthropologie - Show your appreciation for a home chef with a whimsical S&P set.

2. Format Tray $39.95 CB2 – You will overload your hostess with chic with this minimalist clear acrylic tray she can use anywhere and everywhere in her pad. 

3. Tocca Candele da Viaggio Gift Set $42 Tocca – If there is any gift more elegant than this boxed set of four votives in Tocca’s most celebrated scents, we have not found it yet.

4. Mykonos Stripe Ice Bucket $45.99 Jonathan Adler - Your host will be digging the Mad Men vibe from this acrylic ice bucket, perfect for holding cocktail cubes or chilling a bottle.

5. Mini Plateau Basket $20 Indego Africa – This 6″ diameter basket will bring a bit of Rwanda to your host’s home. All proceed benefit education programs for African women artisans, and the packaging will include beautiful literature explaining the social good aspects of your gift.

6. Potted Double Stem White Orchid $49.95 ProFlowers – If you already stayed your welcome, it is not too late to be a gifting guest. Send this beautiful phalaenopsis potted orchid with a heartfelt note of thanks. 

7. State Cutting/Cheese Boards $48 AHeirloom on etsy – Give the gift of state pride with a handmade wood cutting/cheese board. AHeirloom will custom make and place the heart on the location of your host’s home town.

8. Personalized Boat and Tote Bag $24.95-39.95 L.L. Bean - There is nothing more classic for summer than a canvas tote bag. Make an extra effort by having it personalized for your host with her name, monogram or a cheeky moniker.

9. Pretty Pouches $16-32 Kate Spade Saturday – Versatile zippered pouches in adorbs patterns can be used by your hostess for an array of organization functions and double as cute clutches. At this price, you can pick up a couple (or get one for yourself.)

10. Butter London Tops and Tails Nail Polish Kit $15 Sephora – Your beauty guru girlfriend will totally appreciate this practical and luxe five piece polish set.

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Date nights ideas that make your marriage a priority

Regular date nights are one way to prioritize your marriage. Find a dependable babysitter, and take advantage of balmy summer nights to spend one-on-one time with your spouse. Date night ideas range from flirty to nostalgic, so pick your favorites and then book your babysitter for every Saturday this summer.

summer date night ideas
Music in the park

Peruse city park websites for summer concert series and spend an evening listening to live music. Even if you’re listening to an unknown band, there’s something about a blanket, a baguette with cheese and a bottle of wine to make a summer night feel a little sultry. Fill this adorable Rattan Picnic Basket for Two with your favorite goodies, and you might even discover a new favorite band (Pottery Barn, $99). summer date night ideas

Ballgames and beer

Even if your husband tends to watch baseball with his buddies, a night at the ballpark can be a fun way to spend a summer date night. If dinner at your favorite sushi place is becoming a little stale, oversized beers and cheering on your favorite team can be the perfect way to bring a little fun into your dates. Showing your team spirit doesn’t have to mean borrowing a too-large jersey. Try one of the polishes in OPI’s Fashion Plate Collection (Amazon, $12). summer date night ideas

Dinner and drinks on the patio

Dinner and drinks might be a tried-and-true date night idea, but it’s a classic for a reason. Lingering over dinner and cocktails isn’t always possible with the kids in tow, so date nights mean you can talk about anything you want, for as long as you want, without worrying about whether your conversation is kid-appropriate. To take advantage of the summer weather, ask for a table on the patio — even better if your favorite restaurant has views of the sunset or waves. One of the best parts about this simple date is the potential to wear your favorite summer dresses — we love the bright pink Amanda Uprichard Summer Dress (Piperlime, $211).

summer date night ideas
Take out, then drive in

For a major dose of nostalgia, hit a drive-in movie theater this summer. Find the closest drive-in to your home, and don’t worry too much about what’s showing — this date is all about the throw-back nature of the experience. If movie food makes you cringe, stop at your favorite take-out place on the way. We won’t tell if you smuggle in a Cocktail RX Lemon Drop Cocktail Kit (Amazon, $7). summer date night ideas

After-hours at the zoo

Places you might normally take the kids during the day, like zoos and museums, often have nighttime events that are decidedly date-friendly. Check out the cultural centers in your area — the Detroit Zoo offers a Sunset at the Zoo event that raises money for new exhibits while providing strolling dinner, champagne toasts and dancing at twilight.

The bottom line

Dating your spouse will heat up your summer evenings! No matter if you try something new or stick with your go-to dinner dates, take the time to spend some one-on-one time with your husband this summer.

What’s your favorite summer date night idea?
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Show some love for ice cream sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches

The ice cream sandwich is so under appreciated, isn’t it? With ice cream cones, sundaes and fro-yo with crazy toppings getting all of the attention, especially when it comes to ice cream favorites for kids. It’s not surprising that oftentimes the ice cream sandwich can be forgotten. Until now. We’ve scooped the best recipes and instructions for a full list that will get your mouth watering and put this dessert at the top of everyone’s must-have treats this summer.

More than just vanilla

While some of the recipes we’ve highlighted below go the classic route, others take the ingredients to the extreme, even adding bacon to the outside of the ice cream, like our friends at i am a food blog, or using beer ice cream, like Karen does on her sandwiches on Honestly Yum. And, that’s not to mention the creative ideas that these ice cream sandwich gurus use to contain their ice cream, like the thick, lucious brownies that SugarHero! uses in her recipe, or the donuts, yes, donuts, that Paper and Stitch uses in hers.

Whether you like your sandwiches pure and simple or you’re ready to push the boundaries with something more adventurous and surprising, with this bounty of tasty recipes, we certainly have you covered! Make room in that freezer… you’re going to need it!

Can we get a yum? Or fourteen?

14 Ice cream sandwich recipes to try
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Ice cream sandwiches- The Berry
Ice cream sandwiches- Sugar Hero
Ice cream sandwiches- Sugar and Cloth
Ice cream sandwiches- Smitten Kitchen
Ice cream sandwiches- Paper N Stitch
Ice cream sandwiches- Kitchen Confidante
Ice cream sandwiches- Indigo Scones
Ice cream sandwiches- I Am a Food Blog
Ice cream sandwiches- Honestly Yum
Ice cream sandwiches- Homemade Charlotte
Ice cream sandwiches- Country Cleaver
Ice cream sandwiches- BuzzFeed
Ice cream sandwiches- allParenting- Strawberry
Ice cream sandwiches- allParenting- Stack
 Is your family a fan of this classic treat?
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4th of July is a fun day for kids. From spending the day with friends and family to watching the fireworks at night, there is so much to do. This year, take their celebration to the next level by giving them these red, white and blue pina coladas. These special 4th of July drinks for kids are made with real fruit and easy to make for a group of little ones.

4th of july drink for kids

When I first had the idea of doing a 4th of July drink for kids, I started with looking at some recipes online. Almost every recipe I found had some combination of kool-aid, Gatorade and soda. While those drinks might have the red, white and blue colors, they are not something I would ever let me kids drink. So, after talking with my kids and doing some experimenting, we came up with this variation of a virgin pina colada.

4th of july drink for kids 1

For the red, I pureed fresh raspberries with a touch of sweetner. The blue was the same process except I used blueberries instead. The white in the drink comes from a blend of banana, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice and coconut cream. Layer it all in the glass and serve with a straw so the kids can stir and sip away.

Red, white and blue pina colada {a 4th of July drink for kids}

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the raspberry puree:

For the blueberry puree:

  • 1/2 cup organic blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon honey syrup (or simple syrup), adjusted to taste

For the pina colada:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream

Directions:

For the raspberry puree:

  1. Add raspberries and simple syrup to a blender and blend until the raspberries are broken down. Taste and add more syrup if needed.

For the blueberry puree:

  1. Add blueberries and simple syrup to a blender and blend until the raspberries are broken down. Taste and add more syrup if needed.

For the pina colada:

  1. Add frozen banana, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice and coconut cream to a blender. Blend until smooth. 

For making the drink:

  1. Pour or spoon in a thin layer of raspberry puree into two small glasses. Spoon in a layer of the pina colada smoothie, being careful to not mix the two. Add a thin layer of the blueberry puree to the glass, again being careful not to mix.
  2. Repeat as necessary until glasses are full.
  3. Serve with straws and let the kids enjoy!

This recipe for a 4th of July drink for kids serves two but it’s very easy to increase by doubling or tripling the ingredients as needed. These served along side fun finger foods and mini desserts are the perfect way to let the kids celebrate Independence Day.

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How to start a book club

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf hit booksellers June 24th, and it’s a wonderful choice for a July book club discussion. If you aren’t part of a book club, summer is the perfect time to start one. With more relaxed schedules and road or plane travel on your calendar, you have more a chance to pick up a new book — and you’re going to want to talk about those books with your friends. starting a book club   Book clubs seem like such a simple concept: find a few friends who love books, choose a book and gather to discuss it. But anyone who’s tried to form a book club knows it doesn’t always equate to a fun night out with friends. We have five book club tips to make your meeting your favorite girls’ night of the month.

Be flexible about guests

Starting a book club might happen with a few of your closest girlfriends, or you might spontaneously try to get your neighbors together for conversations that don’t focus on the landscaping regulations for your HSA. Even if it seems awkward to have a friend of a neighbor sipping on your favorite sangria, remember that unexpected guests can add new angles to a discussion. Keep your membership flexible, and you might find yourself with new friends after a couple of meetings.

Keep your meeting dates consistent

Finding a perfect time for a book club to meet is almost impossible. Conspire with your must-have guests to find a time that works every month — pick a night without lessons, games or other commitments already penciled in — and stick with it. Set a recurring appointment in your favorite app or start noting it, in pen, in your calendar. There will likely be a reader or two who has to miss your monthly meetings, but with a solid third-Thursday-of-the-month meeting, most people will keep their calendars clear. Little Mercies

Choose a book with strong discussion possibilities

Let’s be honest. There will be months when only one or two women have managed to finish the book Even with the best intentions — and book club selections — not every book will resonate with every reader, and sometimes people are simply too busy to finish a book they’re enjoying. Keep your discussions inclusive by selecting books that have plot points or dilemmas that even those who haven’t read the book can discuss. Discussion-friendly plot threads include hot-button issues or current events, like the compelling Little Mercies. Ellen Moore knows all about child protective services. As a social worker, she’s seen humans inflict horror on each other, and she works with the people who do their best to protect the children they encounter. One distracted mistake puts Ellen on the other side of the system, and as her story unfolds, readers see both the cracks in the protective services system and the heart of the people who work tirelessly for the sake of other people’s children. Moms will have a visceral reaction to Little Mercies, and the discussion will be thought-provoking — though spoilers are likely to come out for anyone who hasn’t finished the book!

Use book club resources

Publishers generally realize when their books will be suitable for book clubs. A quick search will lead you to resources for your book club, such as the Little Mercies Book Club Kit. Book club leaders shouldn’t feel like they need to start from scratch when beginning discussions or considering talking points. Trust the publisher’s familiarity with the book and save yourself a little time to focus on the other aspects of hosting the meeting.

lillet rouge punch recipe
Keep food and drinks simple

If your book choice has a strong tie to a certain type of cuisine or location, it can be fun to decorate or plan your menu around a theme. If you’re dealing with contemporary women’s fiction, like Little Mercies, you can choose your go-to favorites. We love the idea of serving a big pitcher of Sparkling Lillet Rouge Punch with a summer salad and sweet treat.

Read more about Little Mercies
What is your book club reading this summer?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Harlequin. All sassy opinions are my own.

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side dishes
Gathering for 4th of July fun

Holiday barbecues are fun ways for friends and families to celebrate, and staples like burgers and brats are commonly found on the grill. Bringing 4th of July side dishes is the chance to add a little more flavor to the annual party. We’ve found fantastic — but surprisingly simple — side dish recipes any summer party.

Dip into sweetness

The Strawberry Pie Dip from Snappy Gourmet is a sweet dip — and the perfect way to get the flavor of strawberry pie without worrying about a fork. Her Pie Crust Dippers are a fabulous touch that will soon make this one of your go-to summer recipes.

Protein-packed salad

Berries add a tart kick to the Patriotic Quinoa Salad from It’s Yummi. Quinoa’s protein power helps fill you up, while there’s enough of a grainy texture to balance the starch-heavy potato or pasta salad farther down the barbecue table.

While you’re watching fireworks

Fireworks start as the sky darkens, and by that time most people are ready for a post-dinner snack. Tasty Comforts of North Georgia has a crunch, portable solution — Spicy Roasted Cashews.

Combine sweet and salty for the perfect chip

Sea Salt Potato Chips from Not From Concentrate are simple, crunchy and will pair well with any sort of picnic fare. While you’re checking out the recipe, be sure to make note of a few other seasonings she’d like to try for the chips.

Baked beans with a twist

Homemade baked beans are always a hit at picnics and barbecues, but Gal on a Mission adds a bit of a twist. With BBQ sauce and a generous amount of bacon in her Homemade BBQ Baked Beans, canned baked beans will never make it into your shopping cart again.

Simple pies will be the star of the 4th of July

Technically, the Starstruck Berry Marshmallow Pies should be hanging out in the 4th of July desserts section, but these treats are too cute not to share. The 30-minute recipe is lighter than a traditional pie, combining sweetness with tartness for a delicious flavor medley.

Side dishes exploding with flavor
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Strawberry-Pie-Dip
Patriotic-Quinoa-Salad-from-ItsYummi.com-KickOffToSummerWeek2014-718x1061
Spicy-Roasted-Cashews
Sea Salt Sweet Potato Chips
BBQ-Homemade-Baked-Beans
Star-Struck-Berry-Marshmallow-Pies-URBAN-BAKES-3
Keep up with these fantastic food bloggers on Facebook

1. Snappy Gourmet, 2. It’s Yummi, 3. Tasty Comforts, 4. Not From Concentrate, 5. Gal on a Mission, 6. Urban Bakes

Do you have a go-to side dish for summer parties?
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Mark your calendars for the Great American Backyard Campout

June 28th will be this year’s nature awareness raising campout — and it all takes place seconds from your back door. Coleman and Disney are sponsoring the event, imagined by the National Wildlife Federation in 2005.

Great American Backyard Campout

 

What is the Great American Backyard Campout?

The Great American Backyard Campout is your chance to camp with 20,000 of your closest friends in your own backyard. If that thought makes you want to flee to the nearest resort you can find, remember you actually only need to worry about yourself during the Great American Backyard Campout. The National Wildlife Federation wants to get 20,000 people camping this summer — but it will happen all around the nation, in backyards, parks and campgrounds. Camping is a fabulous way to appreciate nature, and the Federation wants to raise awareness about why nature conservation is so important.

Coordinating the campout

This is the ninth annual Great American Backyard Campout, and the National Wildlife Federation is making it easier than ever to track the participants. June 28th is the official day of the campout, but as long as you sign the pledge, your campout will count as part of the Federation’s goal of 20,000 campers.

Participating in the campout

How you choose to participate in this year’s event is entirely up to you! Camping out in your backyard with your kids is the simplest way to help the NWF, and it offers a wonderful chance to have a conversation with your children about why conservation is so important. Invite friends over or talk with people in the neighborhood about organizing something for your community — it’s a way to build relationships with your neighbors while raising awareness for an important cause. If you’d like to participate in a public event but are too busy to organize your own this year, check out the Public Events posted on the National Wildlife Federation site.

Great American Backyard Campout T-shirt

Fundraise for nature conservation — without leaving your backyard

Though your donations are always appreciated by the National Wildlife Federation, the Great American Backyard Campout isn’t a fundraiser in the traditional sense. You won’t be collecting money around the campfire, but your pledge to camp this summer will help raise money for wildlife conservation. For every person participating in the campout this year, friends of the Federation will donate $2, up to $400,000, for NWF’s wildlife conservation work. Purchasing a Great American Backyard Campout t-shirt is another way to contribute to the NWF’s conservation efforts (Shop NWF, $15-$20).

Unsure what to do on your campout? Check out our tips for camping with kids in your own backyard!
Are you more likely to camp this summer because of the Great American Backyard Campout?
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Spectacular summer salad roundup
Get fresh with a summer salad

Even if you don’t love them the rest of the year, summer is the perfect time to start adding salad recipes to your dinner rotation. Summer salad varieties take full advantage of in-season produce. Your ingredients will burst with flavor and please all sorts of picky palates. We’ve found nine spectacular salads you need to try before summer’s end.

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Pesto-Tortellini-Salad
Quick Summer Salad
Red Chard Fruit Salad
BLT-cornbread-panzanella
Peruvian-Style-Potato-Salad
Layered-Cobb-Salad-in-To-Go-Tumblers
Mojito Grilled Chicken Salad
Kelp Noodle Salad
Quinoa-Bell-Pepper-Salad-with-Rosemary-3A
9 summer salads you won’t want to miss

Pesto Tortellini Salad
Basil is one of the simplest herbs to grow. If you’re just starting a garden, plant basil and make yourself feel accomplished with a bumper crop of the tasty herb. Your fresh pesto will be a hit in this summer pasta salad.

Quick Summer Salad
Summer salad doesn’t have to be complicated. With a few common ingredients, this fresh and quick summer salad will soon become one of your favorite lunches.

Red Chard Fruit Salad
Red chard and walnuts take this fruit salad from basic to mouth-watering. The tangy grapefruit and salty feta pair beautifully with the sweet and tangy dressing, making this an unforgettable summer salad.

BLT Cornbread Panzanella
Everyone loves bacon, and the crispy meat pairs beautifully with the slightly sweet taste of cornbread in this version of Panzanella salad. A little sweet and a little salty, it’s going to quickly become the salad people insist you bring to barbecues.

Peruvian Style Potato Salad
This Peruvian twist on potato salad uses a creamy habañero dressing, so it adds a kick to the classic picnic dish. Queso fresco keeps the dish from becoming overwhelmingly spicy, so it’s a fun way to infuse a little heat to your dinner.

Cobb Salad-to-Go Tumblers
Whether you’re making your own personal salad for lunch on-the-go or serving a large crowd of people, these layered Cobb salads are a neat way to portion out the classic salad. Just shake and serve!

Mojito Grilled Chicken Salad
Not all mojitos are served in a glass — though the minty, refreshing cocktail would pair nicely with this chicken salad. With avocado and chicken, this is definitely a main dish salad and would be lovely served on a deck or patio.

Rainbow Kelp Noodle Salad
Some days are just too hot to cook, but you’re in the mood for something more than veggies. Kelp noodles are a staple at health food stores and a satisfying, no-cook substitute for regular pasta. The lemon almond ginger dressing on this salad is fresh and full of flavor.

Quinoa and Bell Pepper Salad
Quinoa is a great way to make your salad into a filling meal without adding meat. The healthy, complete protein is becoming a staple in warm, cozy recipes, but it makes a refreshing chilled salad, too.

Find our fabulous salad chefs on Facebook

Eat Drink Love, UK Rasoi, Cubes N JuliennesCookie Monster Cooking, Foxes Love LemonsThe Chic Site, The Cozy Apron, Keepin’ It KindThe First Year,

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10AmazingDonuts
Donuts are the new cupcakes

Okay, let’s talk donuts for a second. Donuts are the new cupcakes, and they are literally everywhere you look. And for good reason. Who doesn’t love a donut?! They’re both fun to look at and fun to eat! Not to mention, they are just plain decadent and delicious. What more could you want? Sure, they’re not easy on the waistline, but our motto here at Savvy Sassy Moms is everything in moderation. It’s healthy to indulge every now and then. Plus, the word “baked” means it’s good-ish for you, right? I’ve put together a roundup of the best donuts around, to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. The only question is, which one are you going to try your hand at first?

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baked funfetti
boston cream donuts
dark chocolate with blood orange glaze
baked pb vanilla
krispy kreme copy cat
devils food
baked apple cider
french breakfast
skinny vanilla bean
triple coconut

Baked funfetti donuts
Baked means healthy, right? ;) Also, these just look like a party in a pastry, and everyone loves sprinkles!

Boston cream donuts
Always a good choice. The middle is a fun surprise, and this recipe claims to take only 30 minutes! Now that is do-able.

Dark chocolate cake donuts with orange glaze
I mean, if that title doesn’t make you instantly start drooling, then I just don’t know what to say. This one just feels decadent, doesn’t it? Plus, the glaze is pink. So it’s pretty, too. Win-win.

Baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Glazed donuts with Vanilla-Peanut Butter Glaze
Whoa. You really can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate.

Copy-cat Krispy Kreme donuts
Why wouldn’t you want to make your very own version of everyone’s favorite chain donut store creation? Be sure to devour these straight out of the oven.

Devils Food donuts
These rich, delectable chocolate donuts will please any chocolate lover.

Baked apple cider donuts
The perfect fall treat. Pair with some hot apple cider and you’re good to go.

French breakfast donuts
The author of this particular recipe describes these as “simple and quick!” Those are two words I like to hear, especially when describing breakfast. Plus, they have cinnamon sugar on them and the word “French” in the name. These are a must!

Skinny vanilla bean donuts
A skinny donut? Is this an oxymoron? Hopefully it’s not too good to be true, and these are in fact as delicious and impossible as they sound. Plus, at under 250 calories for two donuts, it’s worth a shot, right?

Triple coconut donuts
I am a coconut fiend. Give me coconut in all of the forms, please and thank you. With summer fast approaching, I want coconut even more than normal, and thus these donuts are a must!

What is your favorite kind of donut?
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Chocolate makes Mother’s Day sweeter

Mother’s Day is about celebrating motherhood and encouraging her to treat herself to her favorite things. The rich, sweet taste of chocolate can be a decadent Mother’s Day treat, and it’s even sweeter if you gift your favorite mom with silky-smooth DOVE® Dark Chocolate. With a taste richer than milk chocolate, but equally as silky-smooth, just one piece of DOVE Dark Chocolate satisfies my sweet-tooth.

Dove Dark Chocolate

DOVE tastes deliciously silky-smooth

It’s not uncommon for people to associate the taste of dark chocolate with bitterness, but DOVE Dark Chocolate can shatter those expectations — each bite is silky-smooth and delicious. DOVE Dark Chocolate comes in four delicious varieties, including: new Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate (my favorite!), Mint and Dark Chocolate Swirl, Almond Dark Chocolate and Original Dark Chocolate. It is a tasty, widely-available option; I’ve had no trouble finding any of the four varieties at my local grocery store.

Dove dark chocolate

Go beyond the bag

Giving the gift of DOVE doesn’t have to mean sliding a bag of PROMISES or a few bars into a simple gift bag — though that works, too! Homemade gifts are the cornerstone of Mother’s Day surprises, and DOVE Dark Chocolate lends itself to a variety of Mother’s Day projects. DOVE PROMISES, in particular, are tiny craft materials just waiting to be used. Their small size, square shape and shiny wrapper lend themselves to being used for a number of hand-crafted Mother’s Day gifts — almost like oversized and delicious-tasting beads.

Dove dark chocolate

For more fabulous DIY Mother’s Day gift ideas, check out #ShareTheDOVE on Pinterest!

What’s your favorite variety of DOVE® dark chocolate? (I’ll take the Sea Salt, please!)

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post paid for by MomTrends. All our savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are our own.

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