Strawberry Lemonade

strawberry-lemonadeTo say that it’s been hot this week in Arizona would definitely qualify as the understatement of the year.  It’s the kind of heat that drains all of your energy and makes you feel like you’ve been running around all day when all you did was go to one store.  On this kind of a day, I want something cold and refreshing, but not heavy (like ice cream).  I love lemonade and especially flavored lemonade, but I’m super picky.  If it’s too sweet or the flavor balance isn’t right, it’s very disappointing.  I made this strawberry lemonade from The Frugal Girls and I wasn’t expecting much.  I’ve learned not to get my hopes up when it comes to flavored lemonade. I’m very happy to say that it was the best strawberry lemonade I’ve ever had!  You need to try this!  Today.

AnneOpinion

To get the best strawberry taste use really ripe strawberries.  If you can’t find ripe ones use frozen ones.  They’re always perfectly ripe. 🙂

Fresh lemons are the best.  If lemons aren’t in season using a good quality lemon juice works great. I prefer Italian Lemon Juice from Concord Foods  or Italian Volcano Lemon Juice.  These both give a fresh, bright, tart flavor to the lemonade.

This recipe uses a simple syrup for the sugar.  This is super easy to make (mix sugar in water over heat until sugar is dissolved) and the syrup makes sure that the sugar is completely dissolved and evenly incorporated.

You will love how you get the distinct strawberry and lemon flavor in this lemonade and there is nothing more refreshing then this drink on a hot summer’s day!

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Strawberry Lemonade
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Strawberry Lemonade
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar in completely dissolved; swirl the pan occasionally. Let cool. Once the simple syrup has cooled, puree strawberries in a blender with ½ cup water. In a large pitcher, combine strawberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice. Add 4-6 cups of cold water. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste, so add as little or as much as you want to achieve your perfect sweet/tart balance. Serve over ice.
Recipe Notes

Anne Opinion from The Frugal Girls

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S’more Cookies Please!

smore-cookies2If this seems like deja vu and you swear that you’ve seen S’more Cookies here before, you’re right you have.  I feel the need to share another cookies recipe because August 10 is National S’more Day and you need to be prepared with an awesome s’more recipe.  I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times in the last month and a half and since I was out of town for two of those weeks, you can tell how much we like it.  My friend Misty made them for a Cub Scout Pack Night in June and I was hooked!  I was craving another cookie the next day so I looked on her Pinterest board, found this recipe from Carlsbad Cravings and have been cranking them out ever since then.

AnneOpinion

This is just a good, chewy chocolate chip cookie.  It’s got a nice balance of cookie to chocolate with a touch of sweet, gooeyness from the marshmallows on top

I don’t feel like I can taste the graham in the cookies, but the crumbs give it a texture that I love.  Milk chocolate is the classic one used in s’mores so I always use it in these cookies.  If I’m doubling the batch I add a bag of milk chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups of semi sweet chips.  I normally double it because these cookies go so fast at my house.

If you don’t feel like crushing up the graham crackers, you can buy a box of graham crumbs in the baking section of the grocery store.  How cool is that?

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S'more Cookies Please!
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S'more Cookies Please!
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cream together butter and sugars; mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and salt. Mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips . Drop by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and quickly press 3 marshmallows into each cookie. Return to oven and cook until done, about 1-2 minutes.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion from CarlsbadCravings.com

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Back to School Cake

back-to-school-cakeSchool starts next week for us.  Once again the summer has flow by too quickly and it’s now time to be back on a schedule and return to the busy life that the school year brings.

One thing that the boys and I look forward to each year is our “Back to School” cake.  I have it ready when they get home from school on the first day and we gather around the kitchen table and, while having cake and milk, we discuss the day.  What did you like?  What did you not expect?  Who are you excited to have in you class?  Was it as scary as you thought it would be?  I love getting to have this time that we come together and celebrate the experience.

I’ve made the same cake since 2007 when Boy1 was in First Grade and Boy 2 started Kindergarten.  Those same boys will be starting high school and Eighth Grade, respectively, next week.  Eek!  I don’t know if I’m ready to have a child in high school.  I guess it’s going to happen to me whether I’m ready or not.  Quick, someone lie and tell me I don’t look old enough for that.

AnneOpinion

I like to keep making the cake as simple as possible.  I use a cake mix and buy canned frosting, white and chocolate.  I set a side some of the white for decorating, put a small amount in a bowl to color yellow and then color the rest green.

The chalk is a Kit Kat with yellow frosting.  The erasers are Twix.  These all always disappear very quickly and mysteriously off the cake.  The apple is a fruit roll-up.

I hope that your family enjoys this tradition as much as ours.  It’s a highlight every year.

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Back to School Cake
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Back to School Cake
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Instructions
  1. Make the cake according to the directions on the box. Turn out onto a service plate. Place a couple of spoonfuls of white frosting into a decorating bag with a small round tip for writing. Place a couple of spoonfuls of white frosting into a bowl and color it yellow. Color the rest of the white frosting green. Frost the top of the cake green. Frost the sides and top edge with the chocolate frosting. Pipe the white lines and the yellow letters onto the cake. Line the bottom with Twix. Place the Kit Kat on and cover it with frosting. Cut out an apple and leaf from the fruit roll-up and place on cake.
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Neapolitan Fudge

nea-fudge1I have a couple of friends that I would like to take goodies to this week.  I want to take something different than my normal cookies or brownies and so I have been searching the internet for ideas.  One of my new favorite blogs is I am Baker by Amanda.  If you’ve never visited, you are in for a treat.  Aside from being a brilliant baker, she is hilarious!  Seriously, one of my favorite people on Instagram. As I made my way through her sight I noticed that there is a whole category dedicated to Fudge,  and that is how you know she’s cool.  While browsing the fudge recipes I found one for Neapolitan Fudge that was so pretty, I decided it would be perfect to give away.  Amanda’s description of it left me wondering about the taste though. She mentioned that she got it from Taste of Home and I’ll be honest.  That’s not a positive in my house.  I used to get the magazine and every time I tried a new recipe and my husband didn’t like it, he would ask “Is this a Taste of Home recipe?”  Unfortunately he was right most of the time and so I quit trying them.  I decided that Amanda seems to enjoy her sweets as much as I do, so I trusted her.  Trust is a good thing.

AnneOpinion

nea-fudge2I took my first bite and I really wasn’t expecting to like it, but I knew as soon as I ate it, I needed another bite, and another.  The fudge is perfect.  It’s smooth, rich, and fudgy.  The chocolate, raspberry and vanilla layer worked together in perfect harmony.

Making the fudge is fairly simple.  Melting chocolate, whipping cream cheese and mixing all of the ingredients together.

nea-fudge3My tip of the day: When cutting the fudge, use a large knife so that you can cut through the whole side at once.  After making each cut, clean off the knife in the sink and wipe dry with a towel.  This will make eat piece look perfect! post-closer

Neapolitan Fudge
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Neapolitan Fudge
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Instructions
  1. Line a 9-in. x 9-in. baking pan with foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray and set aside. Beat 4 ounces cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and then add in the melted dark chocolate. Spread into prepared pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Raspberry Layer-Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in melted white chocolate, raspberry emulsion and food coloring. Spread over chocolate layer, making it as even as possible. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Vanilla layer-Beat 4 ounces cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in melted white chocolate. Carefully spread over raspberry layer, trying to get layer as flat and even as possible. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Cut fudge into 1-in. squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinon- slightly adapted from I Am Baker

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Firecracker Chocolate Cookie Cups

firecracker-cookiesLast fall I was thrilled to hear about my cousin Kristen winning a prize for her Firecracker Chocolate Cookie Cups at the San Diego County Fair.  I was even more excited when she got to share her recipe on television in Kansas City!  I thought that I would have to wait until next July to make them because Trader Joe’s normally only carries the Firecracker chocolate bar for the Fourth, but when I went into my local store last week they said that they had just gotten another shipment in.  Score!!  I apologize to those of you without a Trader Joe’s close by.  Maybe you could have a friend or relative mail you one?  You can promise to share with them a really good recipe in exchange. 😉

Anne Opinion

If you’ve never had a Fireworks Bar before you are in for a treat!  Trader Joe’s describes the bar this way, “Trader Joe’s Fireworks Bar is crafted for us by a stateside chocolatier known for adding intriguing flavors to high quality chocolate. Here, they start with smooth, rich dark chocolate—always a good beginning. And then come the fireworks, in the form of popping candy. You remember the stuff; it “sparkles” on your tongue, tingling and tantalizing with every bite.  But that’s just the beginning. The bar is also spiced a bit, with chipotle and pasilla chiles, a touch of sea salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper. It’s not hot hot, but it’ll definitely give you a warm feeling inside. Just like fireworks.”

I love the way they describe their food.  I know it’s dumb, but I always get excited when I see the Fearless Flyer (Trader Joe’s grocery ad) because every description makes me want to try their food right now.

Now that we’re done with my unsponsored crush on Trader Joe’s, lets talk about the cookies.  This is a very hearty cookie.  It not only has ground oatmeal, but it also has 1 1/2 cups of walnuts that you grind up very fine.  Having both of these ingredients gives these cookies a nice solid shape with a chewy texture and a wonderful nutty flavor.

In addition to the Fireworks chocolate you also use a Symphony bar with toffee that is in the cookie.  This bar needs to be chopped up so you get lots of it’s goodness in every cookie.  Tip: make sure and freeze it for at least 30 minutes.  This will make it easier to chop into pieces.

This cookie is so fun to eat!  The pop and fizzle in your mouth as you chew is truly a one of a kind experience.  Thanks for sharing the recipe Kristen!!

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Firecracker Chocolate Cookie Cups
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Firecracker Chocolate Cookie Cups
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend butter with sugars for two minutes to incorporate air, then eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour, oatmeal and walnuts. Slowly add to butter mixture, mixing well in between. Stir in the chopped up Symphony Bar. Chill dough for 1 hour minimum. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch round balls (just smaller than a golf ball). Press thumb in center to create deep indentation. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Add square of Fireworks chocolate into indentation and let sit additional 5 minutes. Delicious served warm or chilled.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion Recipe by Kristen Sowell

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Bubbles for Days

bubbles4I have been dying to try these bubbles for a year now and my family reunion 3 weeks ago was the perfect excuse to get all of the supplies together, which is the number one reason for me not doing many things that I’d like to.  I’d read about them here on Our Best Bites and thought it would be no big deal.  I needed blue Dawn soap, baking powder, glycerin, and J-Lube for the bubble soap. I had read that the J-Lube was available at farm supply stores so I didn’t worry about ordering it because I was going to Nebraska for my reunion and well, let’s just say that when many of your high school classmates spend the summer detassling corn, you know that farmers are not in short supply.

bubbles5As soon as I got there I started calling farm supply stores and much to my dismay, no one carried J-Lube.  I thought that I had a guaranteed place when I saw that QC Supply out of Elkhorn was the supplier for Amazon.  Yeah, guess who didn’t have it?  I almost started arguing with the man on the phone about how he had to have it because he sold it on Amazon, but he was a no nonsense guy and I could tell it would do no good.

Lucky for me my brother lives in a cute little town in rural Nebraska and when I went to visit him I called another QC Supply and they had it.  Halleluiah!  The man at the store told me that only stores that supply pig and cow farmers carry it so that is why I couldn’t find it before.  So, my advice to you is to buy it from QC Supply here.  Amazon also carries it but it costs more to buy it through them.  Alright, so now that you know all about my adventures to find J-Lube, here’s what I thought about how the bubbles went.

AnneOpinion

bubbles3They are A-mazing!!  I couldn’t believe how big they were. We had several that were over 15 feet long.  And the colors!  They were so pretty!  Fun, fun for everyone!

One last thing about the J-Lube.  You only use 1/2 teaspoon each time you make it so this bottle will be a lifetime supply for you and anyone else you choose to share with.  Anyone around me in Arizona, feel free to ask and I’ll get you some.

The glycerin was very easy to find in the cake decorating section at a craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.

bubbles2When I was picking up the dowels for the bubble wand I also got a washer for a weight on the bottom string.  It worked really well at holding the bottom string down.  The dowels that I bought were on the thinner side and the kids broke them messing around after we had finished.  I will buy some on the thicker side next time. To assemble, tie one string that is about 2 feet long to the top of each dowel (you have two).  Tie a second string that has the washer on it and is long enough that it hangs down loosely when the top one is pulled tight. I totally missed taking a picture of what the bubble wand should look like it.  To see it go here.

bubbles1The last thing that I discovered is that a tall  plastic pitcher worked best for holding the soap. I started in a bucket, but the solution was not high enough to cover all of the string.  A gallon sized pitcher worked perfectly.

We had 3 four year olds that all loved making the bubbles by themselves.  The teenagers loved doing it and I must admit that I had a lot of fun seeing how long I could get one.  Here’s a picture of my longest bubble.  Isn’t it amazing how big these things are!?!  So much fun!!

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Big Bubbles Recipe

Recipe from Our Best Bites

  • 1 cup Original Dawn dish soap
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons glycerin- craft store in the cake decorating section
  • 1/2 teaspoon J-Lube (order here)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 wooden dowels
  • 1 washer
  • gallon sized plastic pitcher

In the plastic pitcher, combine baking powder and J-Lube. Slowly whisk in warm water until smooth. Add glycerin, water, and Dawn.

To make the bubble wand, tie one end of the yarn tightly near the top of one of the dowels. Run a line of yarn about 1 1/2-2 feet to the same spot on the other dowel and tie it securely. Tie a second string under the first, place the washer on the string and secure it the string to the second dowel so it droops down when the top one is pulled taut.

Dip the bubble wand in the bubble soap. When you pull them out, keep the sticks as far apart as possible and start walking backwards. Watch as beautiful big bubbles start to form.  Be prepared for lots of smiles!!

 

Cracked Out Chicken Bubble Up

Hello!  For those of you who noticed that I missed Monday, I apologize.  I have been on vacation since the end of June and during that time my grandmother passed away, which meant that I had family staying with me right after I got home until yesterday and not much time for blogging.  It’s really not a sad thing for our family.  She had had dementia for many years and wasn’t able to have a real conversation.  Her release from this life and reunion with her family and friends that proceeded her in death is something that we are happy for.  If you want to know more about what Mormons believe about life after death check out this link.

chicken-bubble-upSo, now vacation is over, the funeral is over and all of the out of town guests have gone home.  I am back to making dinner for my family.  Yeah!!  I found this recipe from Plain Chicken while I was gone and have been excited to give it a try.  It has chicken, bacon, ranch and cheese.  With all of those things in it, how could I not try it?

AnneOpinion

I love meals like this that can come together in 5-10 minutes.  It’s nice to have a few of these in your menu plan arsenal.  I like that the ingredients are easy ones to have on hand and nothing is out of the ordinary.

Two ways to make this quickly are use canned chicken or a rotisserie chicken and instead of cooking bacon and cutting it up you can use real bacon crumbles that are available by the croutons at the grocery store.

I couldn’t find the Grands jr biscuits at my grocery store so I bought the regular Grands.  This gave me more biscuit, but I didn’t mind because I’m kind of a bread girl.

We liked this meal.  It has lots of flavor and is very kid friendly; and like I said at the beginning, how can you go wrong with bacon, cheese and ranch?  Yum!

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Cracked Out Chicken Bubble Up
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Cracked Out Chicken Bubble Up
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. Combine chicken, soup, sour cream, cheese, Ranch mix, and bacon. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces, or if using Grands into 6 pieces. Toss with chicken mixture. Pour chicken mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and biscuits are golden brown.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion Recipe from Plain Chicken

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Summer Sherbet

summer-sherbetI love this stuff!  It is cool, refreshing and perfect for the hot summer time. I must be back in Arizona because I only want to eat foods right now that fit in that description.  I love that this sherbet is a semi-homemade treat.  That means that I don’t have spend much time or effort to make it, but everyone loves the “homemade” ice cream when I bring to a party.  I say bring to a party because the recipe has you use two containers of sherbet so normally when I make it it’s for some kind of a crowd, and it is a crowd pleaser, every time.

AnneOpinion

The secret to giving this sherbet it’s unique flavor is the Kool-Aid.  After mixing together the two flavors of sherbet (btw- these flavors aren’t set in stone.  I’ve used pineapple instead of rainbow in the past) mix in a package of unsweetened Kool-Aid.  I prefer cherry, but I’ve used strawberry too.  Can you tell that this recipe isn’t very exact?  It seems like no matter how you mix up the flavors, as long as you used the ratio of 2 containers of sherbet to 1 package of Kool-Aid, it’s going to be yummy!

The fruit that you add is also up to your own preferences.  I like to use bananas, mandarin oranges, strawberries and blueberries.  The bananas and oranges are delicious frozen, but they don’t add any pop of color.  The oranges in particular are my favorite.  The little pieces of pulp never freeze to a solid state and are almost a little bit slushy when you eat them.  So good!  The strawberries and blueberries are there to make it pretty.  A lesson that I’ve learned over the years is to cut the strawberries and bananas into small bite sized pieces.  When you’re cutting them just think to yourself, “Would I want to bite into this if it was frozen solid?”

To store the sherbet I like to scoop it back into the containers that it came in.  There is, of course, more then you started with because of the addition of fruit.  I put the excess in a small bowl and freeze it too.  Sometimes I don’t even need to do that because my family has eaten so much before I get a chance to store it.

Besides eating it in a cone, I also love to serve it with graham crackers or vanilla pirouette cookies (the rolled wafer cookies that look like a straw).  No matter how you serve it, you will not believe the compliments that you will get!

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Summer Sherbet
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Summer Sherbet
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Instructions
  1. Set the sherbets out to soften. Drain oranges and cut bananas and strawberries. Mix the sherbets together in a bowl. Add Kool-Aid and fruits to sherbet and mix together (be careful not to break up the oranges!) Place sherbet in the freezer to refreeze (at least 4 hours).
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Lemon Fluff

lemon-fluffIt’s officially the middle of summer and I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods, but here in Arizona it is HOT!  It’s the kind of hot that makes you only want to eat light foods that won’t weigh you down and lucky for you I have the perfect dessert for just such a day: Lemon Fluff.

Lemon Fluff has been a favorite of mine since I was little.  I remember my mom making it until I was around 5 or 6 and then not having it for years. It turns out around that time my mom helped make a dinner for our church and her part was to make 15 pans of Lemon Fluff.  After that my mother didn’t want to make it again.  When I was coming home from college one year my mother asked what I’d like for her to make while I was home and this dessert immediately came to mind.  It has now become a staple for me every time that I go home (I took this picture when I was at home this summer.  Don’t you just love my mom’s china?) and it’s one of my favorite things to have in the heat of the summer.

AnneOpinion

Lemon Fluff is just what is sounds like, light, airy and so good I could sit down and eat an entire 9×13 pan in one sitting with no problem at all.

It has a graham cracker crust on the bottom that is the perfect compliment to the mousse like lemon mixture on the top.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when making this dessert.  First is to get the evaporated milk into the refrigerator ahead of time so that it has time to chill.  The second thing is to make sure that you don’t let the jello set.  This is what I’ve messed up on the most.  It still tastes good but ideally you don’t want chunks of jello in the whipped lemon mixture

This is perfect for serving at a small intimate affair and it’s great for a crowd.  Just don’t be surprised when people ask for seconds, thirds ,and fourths, because it’s that good.

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Lemon Fluff
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Lemon Fluff
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place evaporated milk in the refrigerator to chill (I like to do this the night before). Crush graham crackers into crumbs. Mix crumbs, butter and 1/3 C sugar together and press evenly into a 9x13 pan and put into the refrigerator to chill. Dissolve jello, 3/4 C sugar, and lemon juice in boiling water. Chill jello until almost set (be careful not to let it set all the way!). Whip chilled milk with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the jello mixture and whip together. Pour over the crust and let chill a minimum of 2 hours.
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Rescue Cream- A Mom Must!

rescue-creamA few weeks ago one of my boys bonked their forehead on a pew during church. My husband and I could tell right away that it was going to bruise, so in between meetings my hubby very quickly ran home to get our Rescue Cream. When I applied it to his bruise I received several questions from other moms about what I was using and that’s when I realized you need to about it. Why, you may be asking? Quite simply because there is nothing like it for treating bruises. I was introduced to it years ago by my Mother-in-law and it’s now something that I think every mom needs to have in her arsenal. BTW- This is in no way a sponsored review.  This is just a product I really believe in and want you to know about.

 

AnneOpinion

The way that I’ve had it explained to me is that when you hurt an area and a bruise starts to form what we see is the blood rushing to the spot of impact causing the black and blue bruises.  The Rescue Cream makes the blood not all stop at the point of impact, causing the bruise to be much lighter or in some cases, not evident at all.  This is not something that Rescue Cream claims to do, but after years of experience using it with 5 boys I can testify that it works!

rescue-cream2For treating bruises, Rescue Cream works best if applied immediately.  It will still help, if applied later, but it won’t make as big of a difference.  If I can tell that a bruise will be forming, I like to apply it 2-3 times within the first 20 minutes after the hurt occurs.  I have a picture here of Boy 5.  He was playing a game with his brothers and got his head knocked into the tile.  Within a few minutes his forehead started to swell and I could tell that he was going to have a giant goose egg and a really bad bruise.  I gently applied the Rescue Cream 3 times over the next 15 minutes and this is what it looked like the next day.  Amazing! There is still a light bruise and goose egg, but considering how bad it was going to be, this is nothing.

I also have recently discovered that people use rescue cream to stop itching from bug bites. I was really excited to try this remedy out because I’ve always had a very special relationship with mosquitos.  They love me so much!  It’s always a guarantee that if there are mosquitos around, I’m the one they go for.  Yeah me! (imagine thick sarcastic tone here) Consequently, I have personally tried it and find that it does provide temporary relief from itching and I’m very grateful to have something that I feel like really works.

If you want to give Rescue Cream a try, you can buy it here, or I have picked it up at my local Sprouts.  I think you should be able to find it at most health food grocery stores.  If you have anything else that you use Rescue Cream for, let me know!  I’d love to know what else it can do.

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