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How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer

June 7th, 2018

How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

Mark Twain wasn’t kidding when he said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes”. Over the last few weeks, we’ve experienced highs of 95 and lows of 61 degrees! The constant shift in temperature made it impossible to fully commit to blasting our AC or turning off the heat. Now, frankly, you never know what type of weather you’ll be waking up to these days which can get costly when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Being twenty-four and living on my own for about three years, has made me pretty savvy and has allowed me to pick up some tricks and tips on how to cut costs while keeping your home cool for the summer. 

As most of you know Matt and I also have an apartment in Dallas, which made us really good at getting creative and implementing energy efficient tips into our everyday lifestyle, as the summer heat in Texas was no joke. Now some of these tips and tricks were easy to take on and some were harder than others but today we are partnering with Spark Energy to share 5 energy efficient tips to keep your home cool this summer.

Oh, and before we get started on tips for keeping your home cool, Spark Energy was kind enough to give you all a discounted rate! Just use code COASTALCONFIDENCE if you decide to switch over to them as your electricity provider. I’ve done a lot of research on their brand and love how they are customer-centric. Anyway, do a little research for yourself at SparkEnergy.com and let’s jump right into those tips. 

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow-0171

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

 

1) Why You Should Always Wash Your Laundry On Cold // Save on Heating Costs

Washing your clothes on cold water is not only a highly efficient way to do laundry but it’s actually really good for your clothes too, go figure! First off since most of my clothes are cotton or linen, I wash most of my loads on cold water to prevent shrinkage and fabric damage. Oh and if that reason isn’t enough, don’t forget that stains set in hot water so washing on cold is another good way to avoid setting stains you forgot to pretreat! 

 

2) Embrace Colonial Shutters & Curtains // Saving on AC Costs

Spark Energy recommended conserving energy and cost by simply keeping the heat out and the blinds shut, especially in rooms that receive sunlight constantly throughout the day. I mean this tip is simple enough, but it was hard for me to implement as I’m a stickler for having my blinders up all day because frankly, I’m not a fan of the look.

Now, as you all know, I love living in New England for a few reasons, but at the top of that list is colonial decor and design. I love walking through and talking to owners of colonial homes and getting inspired by the unique interior aspects they offer. To get to my point, a few weeks ago I was walking through a historical open house and fell in love with these louver indoor shutters! Not only do these shutters bring character into your home but they work wonders at keeping the sunlight out and cooling costs down. Or if your handy like my Mom is, just sew up some accent curtains to keep the bright afternoon sun out! 

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

3) Short Showers // Save on Water Costs 

I’m not kidding when I say, I may be the quickest showerer ever if that’s even a thing. I mean I’ve never been one to hang out in the shower, but I must say this trick was one Matt struggled with. If you find yourself running the shower water for way too long, my biggest tip is to make sure you’re prepared before you’ve even turned on your shower head. Get your shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and potions in the shower so you don’t leave the water running longer. Practice makes perfect on this tip, and head over to Spark Energy to learn how to make the most out of your, bathroom exhaust fan. 

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

4) Take The Heat Out Of The Kitchen // Outdoor Grilling

It’s no surprise that using your oven to cook during the summertime can cause your kitchen to heat up, but what surprised me was the extra work and cost I was creating for my AC unit. After reading up on this trick from Spark Energy, I discovered grilling outside is a much more energy efficient way to cook during the summer because you are taking the heat from the kitchen outside!

For the longest time I hemmed and hawed about purchasing an outdoor grill, but after seeing the cost benefits I quickly splurged on this one! Matt and I actually love grilling so until our mini grill arrives you can catch me sneaking a few patties onto my parents’ backyard grill. Oh and if grilling isn’t your thing, think about investing in a crockpot.

5) Embrace Natural Light // Save on Electricity Costs

By far my favorite energy efficient tip Spark Energy had to offer was turning off your lights and embracing natural light. During the summer we are blessed with warm sunny days and longer daylight hours, so use that to your advantage! When the peak heat hours are done, turn off the lights and open your shutters, blinds or curtains. Natural light is my favorite element of a room and by passing on artificial light, you’ll be sure to not only cut costs but also have great lighting for pictures! You guys, already know from my vlogs that I love a naturally lit room, it makes connecting with you guys so much easier. How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow
How To Cut Costs With Spark Energy The Coastal Confidence Aubrey Yandow

Okay, that’s how you’ll cut costs while keeping your home cool this summer. It can sound silly and overwhelming at times but trust me when I say each of these tasks can, in the long run, make a difference towards your monthly bill and can amount up to some solid yearly savings! Now don’t forget that Spark Energy was kind enough to give you all a discounted rate, so use code COASTALCONFIDENCE if you decide to switch over to Spark Energy as your electricity provider.

When you have time leave a comment below sharing any and every energy efficient tips you might have up your sleeves! xx Aubrey 

+Thank you, Spark Energy for collaborating with and sponsoring this post! As always all opinions are my own.

 

What To Plant In Your New England Summer Garden

June 6th, 2018

OUTFIT DETAILS

White Shirt DressBelt BootsHatsSoil

It’s summertime in New England which means it’s the perfect time to make the most out of your backyard space and gardening talents or lack thereof. Let’s start with a disclaimer, I’m by no means an expert when it comes to gardening. This is purely a hobby of mine so any recommendations or tips you have for gardening please feel free to comment down below. Instead, this post is to inspire you all to get outside of your comfort zone and try something new this summer, while supporting local farm stands and getting a little dirty or in my case a lot. 

Now normally my sister Tessa is the gardening feen, but since she had to be behind the camera for this video she let me pick out the plants and then guided me through the planting process. So I’m going to do the same for you all right now, let’s jump to it. 

what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow

Preparing Your Garden:

This was something Tessa and I decided to exclude from the video, in order to keep things snappy, but it is a key element to growing a successful harvest. First and foremost you need good soil for the roots to grow. Last year my dad surprised my sister by building two raised garden beds, as pictured above. These garden beds are the ideal place to grow your garden and are actually pretty simple to make, visit this website to learn how we made our garden beds! Next, you’ll want to set the garden with a mixture of compost and rich soil, this year we picked up this bag of mulch and soil to lay down after we went through and cleared out any weeds or leftover seeds from last year’s planting. 

What To Plant In Your New England Garden: 

1) Tomatoes – This year we went as far as to plant three different varieties of tomatoes, from big beef tomatoes to unique heirloom varieties, year after year tomatoes are a crop we always harvest well. And who doesn’t love a refreshing Caprese salad come those hot summer nights? 

2) Greens – Last year our garden was suffocated by our lettuce crop that we decided to give greens its own garden box this year. While we were filming this video all of our local farmers were out of lettuce but they just restocked this week and we planted over nine different greens. From lettuce to kale, our garden will be stuffed. 

3) Cucumbers – By far my favorite item in our garden, our English cucumber plants flourish year after year in our garden. To help them grow we planted them around these structures which will help them grow upwards instead of outwards, thus reducing crowding within the garden walls. 

4) Peppers – Add some color to your garden with a variety of peppers! We planted green, orange and yellow varieties this year and just noticed our first pepper bud yesterday! 

5) Herbs – I mean these babies are a no-brainer! Save money by growing your own herbs all summer long. From thyme to basil, you’re guaranteed to have a delicious topping for whatever meal you’re cooking up next, from garden box to table. 

New England summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to wear gardening the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow

How To Maintain Your Garden: 

Now that everything is planted it’s important to maintain your garden! This means setting your alarm and remembering to water your garden from once to twice a day depending on the heat and dryness of summer. So far we’ve had a rainy summer so I’ve been able to get away with one morning shower and an evening grooming session. Oh and remember to have fun, it’s all for sport so don’t get angry if a chipmunk or two eat one of your peppers, or if your garden doesn’t go your way. Roll with the punches and you’ll learn a little something from each year of gardening.

Okay, that’s it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and make sure to subscribe to our YOUTUBE CHANNEL to see new videos every Wednesday and vlogs every Saturday. Also, leave a comment down below sharing your favorite thing to plant in your summer garden.  I love hearing your suggestions. xx Aubrey 

what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow
what to plant in your summer garden the coastal confidence Aubrey yandow

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New Englander’s Guide to Hydrangeas

May 28th, 2018

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas The Coastal ConfidenceYou know it’s summertime in New England when the hydrangeas start to bloom, and boy are they beautiful this year. The other day I posted this picture of hydrangeas on Instagram and instantly got an overwhelming amount of responses and DM’s asking me about the do’s and don’ts of hydrangeas. Now instead of responding to everyone’s questions individually, I figured I’d throw together this post as a sort of a New Englander’s Guide to Hydrangeas for you all to reference and have for years to come. 

Now let’s start this post off with a disclaimer, by no means am I a flower expert, rather this post will be a combination of information I’ve gathered from family and friends but most importantly through trial and error. Okay let’s jump right into it, shall we! 

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas The Coastal Confidence
New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas

Seed vs Shrub: I mean, shrub shrub shrub all the way. Never have I ever planted a seed to get a hydrangea bush, as I’m by no means patient enough for that. In fact I did some research and found out it could take up to three years to produce a garden center sized shrub. Basically, if you want to see hydrangea flowers in your New England yard in the near future go with a shrub!

Potted vs In-Ground: First and foremost it’s important to decide how you want to plant your hydrangeas. Personally, I’ve had a better experience with in-ground hydrangeas over potted hydrangeas but that also has a lot to do with our location. I’m lucky enough to have a backyard filled with partially shaded areas, which hydrangeas are known for thriving off of. In fact, my dad and I just planted three additional bushes this past Mother’s Day and were told by the garden expert to plant the shrubs a good distance apart, so they have room to thrive and grow to a mature size. Now if you have a backyard or front yard with full sunlight almost all day, maybe consider potting your hydrangeas on your porch or doorway to protect them from the direct sunlight. 

When Should You Plant Your Hydrangeas: You should aim to plant your hydrangeas in late spring, in fact right now would be a perfect time to plant them or wait until early fall. Aim for workable moist soil and mild temperatures, and at all costs avoid planting your hydrangeas directly before or after a frost. 

Water, With Love and Moderation: The key to keeping your hydrangeas alive and flourishing is to make sure they are hydrated and as I said earlier, in the partial shade. You want the soil to stay moist so pull out that watering hose once a day to give them a good soaking. You can always look at the leaves to see if they are burning or drying out due to lack of water. 

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas

New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas
New Englander's Guide to Hydrangeas

Make It Blue, For Your Instagram Aesthetic: You know me and my love for a cohesive Instagram aesthetic so a big concern I had when planting hydrangeas was how to guarantee that they would be blue. I quickly did some research to find that if your hydrangeas pop up pink you can easily turn them to blue by adding more acidity to your soil. If you want to get scientifical, you can check the acidity levels of your soil before planting by using a pH meter, and ideally, you’d be looking for a 5.0 acidity level. To add acidity you can easily layer soil acidifier into the ground before planting or, if already planted, near the base of the plant. 

Cutting Your Blossoms: I mean, nothing says summertime in New England like a fresh bouquet of hydrangea blossoms in your kitchen. I always get excited when it’s time to cut my hydrangea blossoms but a good cutting technique is key to keeping your bouquets fresh and your shrubs thriving. I was told by my local garden center to cut hydrangea blossoms only once they’ve reached full bloom and at a 45-degree angle with a knife. Now, I’ve used scissors before with no issues, but they insisted to cutting with a knife in order to minimize damage to the shrub. They also recommend having a vase ready to go as hydrangeas should never spend much time out of water especially once having been cut. 

Getting Your Hydrangeas Ready For Winter: I mean, it is way too early to start thinking of winter but I’m just going to throw this in here so when the time comes we are just prepared. In late fall, or before the first frost, is the ideal time to prepare your shrubs for winter. First and foremost remove all of the flowers from the hydrangea bush, next cut down the stalks and stems of your bush while leaving about six inches of stem left. Oh and don’t forget to re-fertilize and water the plant prior to that first frost, this step is key in making sure your shrubs will make it through the cold winter months New England brings to the table. 

Okay guys, I mean this was a hefty post. A lot of information and a lot of flower talk but hopefully this gives you the inspiration to test out your own green thumb this summer. I mean when in New England, hydrangea!  

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5 Pizza Places to Visit in Connecticut

April 20th, 2018

5 Pizza Places to Visit in CT Aubrey Yandow The Coastal Confidence Pizza in Connecticut
5 Pizza Places to Visit in CT Aubrey Yandow The Coastal Confidence Pizza in Connecticut

I was inspired to create this post, last week when Matt and I were in Dallas. We were chatting with some friends and they wanted to know, besides seafood, what was the best dish to order in New England. Valid question right and  I quickly realized no one does pizza like New England, well besides Chicago, so I told her to give me a week and I’d report back with a whole list. 

Once I finalized my list, I decided I might as well share it with all of you and all I can say is, I miss New England pizza. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; pizza is always a valid food option for me and I hope this inspires you all to test out a few new places. Anyway, I’m just going to jump right into it!

I ranked the following 5 pizza places to visit in CT in order of how I’d visit them. I rated them based on 1) pizza crust thickness, 2) topping options, 3) ambiance & 4) quantity of parking/seating. 

Okay here we go:  

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana // New Haven, CT

During the summer of 2015, Matt was living and working in New York City, while I was living and working in Eastern Connecticut, which meant we got to see each other on weekends and holidays. So come Friday, we’d often meet to hang out at a halfway point, New Haven. Before that summer I never really spent much time in New Haven but grew to look forward to my Friday night drive to New Haven and the delicious Italian food that awaited me. Whenever I picked up Matt from the train station he was always beyond famished so we usually headed straight to Frank Pepe Pizzeria. This historic pizza place first opened it’s doors in 1925 and has been a New England staple ever since. 

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – Thin crust baked to a slight crunch sliced up into thin servings, providing you with the perfect excuse to order more than one pizza pie per visit. 
  • 2) Topping Options – Pepe’s has every topping you’d ever hope for but if you want to try an innovative pizza, order the White Clam. The White Clam Pizza is just crust, olive oil, oregano, grated cheese, chopped garlic, and fresh littleneck clams basically a seafood lovers dream. 
  • 3) Ambiance With several locations scattered around Connecticut, and now Boston, I still always make the hour drive down to the original pizzeria in New Haven. Having first opened in 1925, there is something special about eating the pizza at this quaint location while squeezing into the modest wooden booths. 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – Limited parking & seating. Street parking is available as well. 

Pizzeria Sassano // Glastonbury, CT

Oh, gosh, I’m ready for the raft that will be my Mom when she finds out I let this top secret pizzeria go live. This is her FAVORITE spot to grab pizza, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s the best representation of what Italian pizza actually tastes, looks and smells like. It’s on the more expensive side of pizzerias BUT this is the REAL DEAL. Bon Appétit

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – This pizza is as fresh as it can get. From the doughy and deliciously chewy crust to the hand peeled tomato-based sauce, this pizza takes the cake for having the freshest ingredients. 
  • 2) Topping Options –  Rich Italian toppings are available for your pizza order. We strongly suggest taste testing either the sausage or meatball pie, both are seasoned to perfection and capture the essence of Italian meat. 
  • 3) Ambiance  – To be honest, I usually call in an order and take it to go, since I pass the restaurant quite often on my way to Route 2. However, if you preferring dining in, the ambiance is quaint and BYOB! 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – TONS of parking & limited seating, however, I’ve never had to wait. 

Hope Pizza Restaurant // Stamford, CT 

I’m a sucker for Greek style pizza, to be honest, it’s actually my favorite food to order out on the weekends. Close your eyes and imagine doughy thick crust, garlic infused tomato sauce, with the heaviest serving of golden and crispy cheese that brings the whole pizza together, on top. I mean pair it with a Coca-Cola and I’m in heaven, but Greek pizza isn’t for everyone as it’s the heaviest of pizza options and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Anyway, if you love Greek pizza check out this place: 

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – Thick, borderline deep dish, with generous square, cut slices.
  • 2) Topping Options – Whenever I eat Greek style pizza I can’t help put to order a vegetable pizza. There is something so delicious about a heavy dosing of cheesy bread and grilled vegetables. And for Matt, we always order the classy gooey cheese pizza.
  • 3) Ambiance  – Very casual ambiance, I often like to order take out from Hope Pizza Restaurant. I think Greek pizza is best enjoyed at home, outside, with a Coca-Cola in hand amongst friends. 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – TONS of parking & seating, which is key.


First & Last Tavern // Hartford & Middletown Locations Are My Favorite

First and Last will always have a special place in my heart because it is where Matt and I use to go on double dates in high school. To be exact we would always meet other couples at First and Last for a pizza and movie Friday Night Combo. So many good memories, at the Middletown location. But before Matt and I, my Dad use to take my siblings and I to the first in last location in Hartford on the weekends. We’d go visit my cousins in Wethersfield, pile in the car and head to get pizza. I use to love that you could watch the chef’s cook the pizza from start to finish at this location, and I still love to visit it with my dad and family today. 

  • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – Thin crust with widely cut slices, makes this pizzeria the best place to visit with a large group of people. The pizzas are big and meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, so order a few pies, sit back and enjoy your night. 
  • 2) Topping Options – By far some of the best toppings around! I usually pile it high with sausage, mushrooms, and spinach. Oh and sometimes I ask for extra cheese, don’t tell Matt. 
  • 3) Ambiance  – Matt and I always go to First & Last Tavern for date night so I’d say the ambiance is cozy, but still high end. Basically come as you are, whether you are all decked out for a show at The Bushnell or just stopping in for a pizza while running errands, First & Last Tavern is fit for every occasion. 
  • 4) Parking/Seating – Limited parking & seating, expect a wait but it will be well worth it. 

Alforno // Old Saybrook, CT

    • 1) Pizza Crust Thickness – The pizza crusts, while on the thinner side are equally chewy and crispy from having baked in the 600-plus temperature of the custom-built brick oven, Alforno is known for crispy crust with a delicious taste. 
    • 2) Topping Options – Alforno does have amazing pizza topping options, but I was equally impressed with the amount of non-pizza menu options to choose from. From high-end meat dishes to stocks, sauces and fresh pasta, including ravioli, being made in-house; Alforno is a restaurant for lovers of all Italian food, not just pizza. 
    • 3) Ambiance  – With a relaxed and casual ambiance this restaurant would be perfect for a date night or a quick catch up with old friends. Just make sure to bring your appetite with you. 
    • 4) Parking/Seating – TONS of parking & seating, which is key.

Okay & that’s all I got for you guys. 

 Let me know your thoughts and I’d love to hear which pizza places in CT is your favorite. xx Aubrey

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Strawberry Stuffed Heart Cupcakes

February 6th, 2018

Strawberry Stuffed Heart Cupcakes-5125

We are officially one week away from Valentine’s Day guys, and I honestly can’t wait. I know a lot of people have a rocky relationship with this feeling-themed holiday, but I just love every moment of it! Personally, I use it as a reminder to simply appreciate the people I love in my life. Now Matt is great and all but I think Valentine’s Day extends past romantic relationships, for instance, I always try to text my best friends a sweet message or mail my Mom a card.

I have so many friends that will try to give me the good ole fashion budget excuse, but guys, ANY gest count no matter the budget. So whether that means you’re doing something as simple as picking up there go-to Starbucks drink or baking them a strawberry stuffed cupcake; Valentine’s Day is a reminder to give a little love not spend a lot of money. 

Anway, I’ll admit I’m on a really tight budget this year, due to travel plans, so I told Matt that instead of purchasing him a present I would bake him up something delicious. Now Matt’s favorite foods are as followed: chocolate, strawberries, and cake. Lucky for me these ingredients are pretty easy to throw together and bake up. So yesterday I called up Tessa our TCC videographer and begged her to stop by to film this quick recipe in exchange for a cupcake or two. Being the savor that she is, she agreed to drop everything and to help me shoot this video, and give these cupcakes a test run before the official day. 

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Strawberry Stuffed Heart Cupcakes-5220

Full disclosure here I’m in no way a skilled baker, in fact, I had serious concerns and self-doubts when it came to whipping up the homemade frosting. Surprisingly though, this WHOLE recipe was effortless. The cupcakes baked really well and almost had a muffin like consistency, making inserting the strawberries in the middle non-disastrous. I mean when I first saw the images of strawberry stuffed cupcakes online, I thought there was noooooo way I could pull it off but, I think they came out not too shabby if I do say so myself. 

Overall I hope this video and recipe inspires you all to get creative with your budget this year. I often find that as I get older, I spend less money on holiday purchases and more time creating things or in this case food that makes my loved ones smile. Now I’d love to hear from you guys, what exactly are you planning on doing this Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment down below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more behind the scenes footage. 

Strawberry Stuffed Heart Cupcakes
Yields 6
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Cupcake
  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 cup strawberry-flavored milk, at room temperature
  6. 6 strawberries, hulled
For the frosting and topping
  1. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  2. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  4. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  5. 3 strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the strawberry milk, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Using a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped piece of cake out of the top of each cupcake (about the same size as the strawberries), stopping about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Stuff with the strawberries, then cover with a small piece of the removed cake.
Make the frosting
  1. Sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Transfer half of the sugar-cocoa mixture to a large bowl; add the butter and 1/4 cup cream and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining sugar-cocoa mixture and 1/4 cup cream and beat until fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top each with a strawberry half.
The Coastal Confidence http://the-coastalconfidence.com/

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How to Organize An Apartment Pantry Like A Kardashian

January 30th, 2018

How to Organize An Apartment Pantry Like A Kardashian-0298

After our apartment flooded at the start of January, we used the incident as an opportunity to clean out our apartment and reorganize. The first room I wanted to get my hands on was the pantry. Moving in with Matt was a highlight of 2016 but keeping the pantry full was a lowlight, between the amount of peanut butter sandwiches Matt consumes and boxes, yes boxes of Oreo cookies weekly; I would blink and find myself with an empty pantry. The issue wasn’t that we weren’t buying enough food, the issue was that each time we went to the grocery store we were stocking up on the wrong things. 

 Basically, we were replenishing inventory that had back stock and never restocked the goods that we figured we had. Our pantry was originally organized on wired shelves and smaller items were simply thrown in baskets due to the fact that they fell over easily on the wire shelves. I felt like our pantry’s pitfall was those shelves so I headed to Pinterest to find a quick fix. We figured a quick fix would be ideal in terms of budget and due to the fact that our apartment wouldn’t allow us to physically replace the shelves.  

After going down the rabbit hole of Pinterest, I found suggestions for using plastic liners, cardboard layouts and then I found this article suggesting DIY wood covers for wire shelving. I knew this easy DIY fix would allow Matt and I to better display and take inventory of what we had in the pantry and what we had to purchase. You can watch our whole ‘pantry journey’ in the vlog video below, we wanted to bring you all along, step by step, in hopes to inspire you to make time to reorganize and get creative with the unique spaces within your homes.  

  

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On Friday, Matt and I headed to Lowes to pick up the following products, 1/4 inch plywoodpine boardswood gluenails and wood stain, to make the wood covers. To put the covers together we simply had the workers at Lowes cut the plywood to fit the top of the shelves and cut the pine boards to fit the length of the shelves. On Saturday,  Matt and I headed over to a friend’s house to cut a niche along the length of the pine boards. This small niche, which requires a table saw,  allowed us to lay, glue and nail the plywood on top of the pine boards resulting in a cover that hides that ugly wire shelving out of sight and mind. 

After the wood glue dried, and Matt and I bickered about how to actually go about staining the wood, we decided to just tab one coat of wood stain on and let the three covers dry overnight. The next morning I kicked Matt out of the house and got straight to the fun part, ORGANIZING THE PANTRY! 

From the beginning of this project, I knew I wanted to organize my pantry with all OXO containers, for two reasons: 1) the air-tight seal and 2) the aesthetic. To be honest, I first discovered OXO products when Khloe Kardashian shared them in her pantry haul, and then when I went home for the holidays and noticed my Mom had OXO containers too. 

You know you’ve entered the homeowner stage of your life when you are raving about containers to all your friends, I mean even Matt took to his Instagram stories to share his obsession. To simply put it, they are an investment, but well worth it. I actually started off just purchasing this pack and after using the containers I reached out to the OXO team about my pantry project! They were kind enough to send over a few more containers to complete the whole look and share different features like the Cereal Dispensers and Pop Large Jar

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How to Organize An Apartment Pantry Like A Kardashian-0277

To make things easier for you guys, below I’ve listed exactly what I put in each container and I share exactly how many bags or ounces in the vlog! 

Pantry Purchase List: 


 

2.1 qt OXO containers: for spaghetti, dumpling noodles, flour

1.5 qt OXO containers: for chocolate chips, brown sugar, and sugar

0.9 qt OXO containers: for almonds, granola, coffee, chia seeds, fruit snacks and bread crumbs

0.3 qt OXO containers: for sprinkles

+ OXO Cereal Dispensers: for three kinds of cereal

Pop Large OXO Jar: for hot chocolate, popcorn, rice, and goldfish

One Gallon Glass Jar: for chocolate and vanilla Oreos

Storage Bins: – for overflow and bottles 

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Overall, I felt like my disorganized pantry was a huge waste of time and money. I spent way too much time heading back to the store to get that one item I thought I had and spent way too much money on ingredients that went unseen and then bad. I really think this new pantry set-up will save us money in the long-run and help us stay organized moving forward. 

 I would love to hear if you guys have any pantry organizing tricks up your sleeves in the comment section below. I actually had the best time getting creative with this DIY project, and can’t wait to share more organization tips and tricks with you all in the future! Again, thank you to OXO for sending us a few containers to check out, make sure to check out the brand here. Oh, and I hope you enjoyed our first vlog. 

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How to Organize An Apartment Pantry Like A Kardashian-0316

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Thank you to OXO for kindly sending our crew some containers. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

Why You Need Renters Insurance

January 17th, 2018

Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence

Oh boy. 

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to just sit down and unload the current situation Matt and I have found ourselves in. To be honest, it feels good to hit the pause button on New England content for a second and fill you all in on what has been the craziest start to 2018. Our TCC Crew jumped head first into 2018, aka our year of travel, by booking three trips in the next three months. Remember when I talked about using our vacations days and being over-ambitious in this post; well I 100% overbooked our schedules BUT I was happy that we were finally using our vacation days and making the most of what is going to be an amazing year. 

Anyway, on January 3rd I flew back to Dallas and decided to take a ‘half-sick day’. I knew our crew had a busy three months ahead of us and after being sick through the entire holiday season, I really wanted to take a day to myself. I simply wanted to watch Christmas movies, relax and rejuvenate my mind, body, and soul. I proceeded to turn my email auto-response on, told the crew I was sick (aka playing hooky) and got back into my pajamas to watch a whole bunch of Christmas movies. I made some hot tea, curled up onto the couch, put Christmas in Connecticut on and was ready for a peaceful and tech-free day. 

The joke was on me though guys, just 10 minutes into Christmas in Connecticut, I called Matt because our fire alarm was going off. Why did I call Matt? Mostly to complain because our fire alarm goes off almost monthly for ‘testing’, but as I’m on the phone with Matt I peer out of my window to see a downpour of water coming from the unit above ours straight onto the balcony.  

As I looked up at the amount of water coming down from the above unit, all I could say was…Matt this isn’t good.

After hanging up the phone I quickly gathered Eloise (our cat) and headed outside to notify the office. Matt was on lunch break so within 15 minutes he met me outside of the apartment, to go back up and investigate. I waited with Eloise in the car only to hear a frantic Matt screaming EVERYTHING IS UNDER WATER. Our entire apartment, minus our newly furnished bedroom, which you can see here, was calf deep in water. Let’s just say this was the least relaxing sick day, I’ve ever taken.  

Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence
Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence
Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence
Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence
Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence

Now looking back, Matt and I were extremely fortunate that I had been home for the flooding. We were able to get Eloise out of the apartment and into a dry place, whilst moving our expensive items like TVs, computers, flash drives, photos and sentimental things to a dry place (aka our bedroom). Basically, the pipes in the apartment above us broke, leading their sprinkler system to go off and flood their entire apartment, and our apartment got the aftermath as water came in from the ceiling completely destroying things like our couch, rugs, chairs, blankets etc. I mean the water was pretty nasty and ended up staining a majority of our furniture. 

Overall, Matt and I were so lucky that nothing that couldn’t be replaced got damaged and we were wise enough to have invested in renters insurance; which brings me to our post today. I honestly thought renters insurance was silly. I kept telling Matt things like: we don’t need it, I’ve lived in apartments before and nothing has ever happened, and basically every excuse in the book to talk him out of it. However Matt refused to budge on this issue and we ended up investing in renters insurance and honestly looking back, THANK GOD FOR MATT. 

With the help of our insurance company this issue has been quickly resolved and dealt with but without them, we would have been in a serious loss. So Matt’s going to take over and give you a few tips and tricks as to why you need renters insurance:  

Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence
Why You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment | The Coastal Confidence

Why you need renters insurance: 


 

Many people like Aubrey don’t see the importance of insurance until a loss occurs like a flood, fire or car accident, and once this happens frankly it’s just too late to recover all of your damaged items. Your everyday items like your phone, laptop, clothes, and home decor values add up and you will quickly realize that after a loss. We are very thankful that we invested the $100-150 into a renters insurance policy because everything that was damaged from the loss will be paid for, providing us with the funds to repurchase the items. 

Another thing Aubrey didn’t consider when considering insurance was, where do you stay or eat when an incident does occur? Now, if you’re lucky enough to live near family, maybe you can bunk up with them, but with no immediate family in the Dallas area, Aubrey and I were out an apartment and in need of a place to stay. Again, thankfully we invested in renters insurance because they too provide us with funds to stay in a hotel and purchase meals until our apartment is habitable, which ended up being over two weeks in our circumstance. 

First and foremost, it is very important to talk to your landlord or apartment complex about their insurance policies before signing your lease, because many places only offer liability coverage within your agreement. This means that you’ll have coverage for the property itself but none of your personal items would be covered in the event of a loss. This is something that many college students including myself didn’t realize until our computers and TVs were stolen from our dorm room. It was our fault for just expecting the college to cover our personal property and not take the initiative of finding out what insurance policy we had while living at college. If your apartment complex’s insurance doesn’t cover PERSONAL PROPERTY or LOSS OF USE then invest the $100-150 into a renters insurance policy. No matter how you roll the dice, it’s not easy enduring a loss, especially if your personal and sentimental items end up damaged but having an insurance policy is a safety net that will make you rest that night knowing all of your items will be financially covered.


 

All in all, I hope this post inspires you to take a second out of your busy week to consider your insurance policy. Trust me when I say it’s literally the last thing I want to do, but looking back I’m so thankful Matt nagged me into signing the contract. On an exciting note, Matt and I are moving back to our unit today, and I can’t wait to have a kitchen again. Please leave a comment below if you’ve had a similar experience or any other insurance tips and tricks. 

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Quick & Easy Holiday Appetizers with Willow Tree

December 15th, 2017

 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

SHOP WILLOW TREE PREMIUM CHICKEN DIPS HERE


 I am pretty steadfast when it comes to hosting friends and family, during the holiday season. Whether we are gathering around the TV for a Christmas movie or around a massive pile of presents for our annual Yankee swaps, no party is complete without good tidings and most importantly food. This is where the hostess comes in, am I right?

Now, as I stated earlier hosting friends and family is really one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I love seeing friendly faces walk through our front door and I yearn to eagerly settle in amongst my guests and chit chat the night away; but hostessing duties always come first, which is why I live by creating quick and easy holiday appetizers. 

I know some of you guys will want to get fancy up front, and wow your guests, but save the trills and frills for the ice cream bar, and focus on creating food that is easy to walk around with and an overall crowd pleaser. Whenever I’m contemplating my appetizers, I always reach for Willow Tree Chicken Dips; because they are filled to the brim with flavor and can easily transform an everyday appetizer into something more unique. Not to mention, I love supporting local New England businesses and not only is the Willow Tree brand located out of Massachusets, but they’ve also been operated and owned by the same family for over 60+ years!  

 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

Today, I’m sharing my go-to holiday appetizers with you all that will save you time, by getting you out of the kitchen and into the party. These recipes are a yearly staple at my house around the holidays, especially on Christmas Eve. If you are a New Englander then you already know that the Patriots play each year on Christmas Eve, and while Matt and his family attend the game, my family and I have our own special tradition. We usually curl up by the fire, appetizers in hand, and Christmas jammies on to watch the Patriots, ‘Do Their Job’, before heading out for Christmas Eve festivities. 

It’s usually quite chilly outside by this time of year, so my Mom and I aim to recreate my siblings’ favorite comfort food to munch on while watching the big game. It’s really important for me to spend as much time as possible with my family since I don’t get to see them that often, and that is where Willow Tree comes in. Both of the recipes below take under forty minutes to create and are easy enough for an amateur chef like me to whip up. 

First off, get a kick in your holiday taste buds with this Jalapeno Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip Mac and Cheese. This recipe is for the comfort food lovers and is an easy treat for your guests to grab and go. Also, it’s basically impossible to watch a football game without incorporating Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip into the mix, it’s such a classic tailgate dish.

Next up, my Mom and I usually toast some ciabatta bread and make Willow Tree Chicken Caesar Dip Bruschetta This is the perfect treat for your non-mac-and-cheese lovers, aka my brother, and also a healthier option for those looking to eat just a light snack before a massive Christmas Eve dinner. Personally, I prefer two massive Christmas Eve dinners, so I usually eat a serving of both appetizers and get some cardio in while wrapping presents later that evening. 

 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

Jalapeño Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip Mac and Cheese
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Ingredients
  1. - 4 tbsp butter
  2. - 1/4 cup flour
  3. - 2 & 1/2 cups whole milk
  4. - 1 brick of cheddar cheese (8 oz.)
  5. - 1 brick of gruyère cheese (8 oz.)
  6. - salt and pepper to taste
  7. - 1 lb pounds of elbow macaroni
  8. - 1 & 1/2 tubs of Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip
  9. - breadcrumbs for topping
  10. - jalapeño if desired
Instructions
  1. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and boil the elbow macaroni pasta on the stove as directed. While that is boiling melt your butter in a saucepan, and once melted add flour and whisk together for three minutes over medium heat. Next, add your two and a half cups of whole milk and whisk until the mixture becomes thick.
  2. Now for the good part, adding in the cheese! Grate the two bricks of cheese and add it to the saucepan mixture until the cheese is fully melted. Next, add your one and a half tubs of Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Dip into the mixture and let melt. Make sure to taste test and add salt and pepper to your liking.
  3. Finally, drain your pasta and add the cheese mixture to the plain pasta. Use some elbow grease and mix together well, if desired add a chopped up jalapeño to give the mac and cheese an extra kick.
  4. Put the mac and cheese into a baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and slide into the oven for half an hour. Serve in individual dishes or cups to make it easy for your holiday guests to grab and go!
The Coastal Confidence http://the-coastalconfidence.com/

 

 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
 Easy Holiday Appetizers  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

Willow Tree Chicken Caesar Bruschetta
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Print
Ingredients
  1. - 1 loaf of ciabatta bread
  2. - 1 tub of Willow Tree Chicken Caesar Dip
  3. - an assortment of olives
  4. - 1 bag of Romane lettuce
  5. - 2 garlic cloves
  6. - olive oil on hand
  7. - salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. First, slice the ciabatta bread and lightly brush with olive oil on each side. Over low heat, grill the sliced bread on top a grill pan until each side is toasted. Once toasted to your liking, remove from grill pan and carefully rub each side, with a garlic clove for seasoning.
  2. Lay out the sliced and grilled bread on a cheese board and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Next, place a piece of romaine lettuce and a small scoop of Willow Tree's Caesar Premium White Meat Dip onto the bread. Finally add as many toppings as your heart desires! You can add sliced olives, pickles, pomegranates seeds and even a think slice parmesan cheese.
The Coastal Confidence http://the-coastalconfidence.com/

 Both of these appetizers are unique and delish on their own, and if you are left with any leftover Willow Tree Chicken Dip in your fridge, I always put that out as a third option with pita crackers and chips. Okay, now that I’ve let you all in on my own Christmas Eve family traditions I’d love to hear some of yours in the comment section below. xx Aubrey 

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Thank you to Willow Tree Farms for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

 

Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter’s

December 4th, 2017

Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

 

Graeter’s was even kind enough to offer TCC readers $5 off Ice Cream purchased before December 13th with code Coastal-Sweets.


Tis the season to throw dieting to the wind and indulge in your favorite tastes and sweets of the season. While candy canes and gingerbread men might be the typical go-to holiday items for your Christmas party, I prefer treating guests to a festive holiday ice cream bar for all to remember. Whenever I start preparing for my annual holiday ice cream bar, I always go out in search of my favorite ice cream brand, Graeter’s. I honestly can’t get enough of this family-owned ice cream brand, and if you haven’t heard of them before you might recognize their beautiful packaging from your recent trip to the grocery store.  

This brand stole my heart not only by incorporating vast holiday flavor options to their lineup, like peppermintmadagascar vanilla bean and cinnamon, but for remaining true to the old-fashioned French Pot Process of making ice cream. Overall Graeter’s is the essential item in putting that extra jingle jangle into your holiday ice cream bar. So when I saw that their handcrafted holiday flavors were already available for purchase, I figured, why not share some Christmas cheer, with a sneak peek into what I have planned for this year’s holiday ice cream bar. 

 

 

Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

I always recommend setting up your ice cream bar on an easy to clean surface, as things can get messy quickly. This year, I pulled out a wooden cutting board and some snowy pinecone garland to set the tone and create a festive space for my cousins to gather and get creative. Most importantly, make your ice cream bar a place for guests to stage their creations and snap a quick photo or two.  I had a hard time this year sticking to just three flavors for my holiday ice cream bar but in the end, I went with peppermintcinnamon and salted caramel chocolate chip for the party, and purchased a few extra flavors for myself. But if you’re utterly indecisive like Matt, and are having trouble selecting flavors Graeter’s has a holiday deluxe gift pack which includes both classic and festive flavors, to give your tastes buds a sample of everything.   Once the ice cream is squared away in the freezer, let’s turn our attention over to the toppings. This year I went with the classic holiday aesthetic of silver and gold edible glitter. Once I stocked up on glitter, I decided to get creative with additional toppings like gingerbread cookiessugar toppers and for the extra touch these peppermint spoonsHoliday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

 

 

ln the end, I ended up creating three uniquely satisfying holidays sundaes. I’ve shared the details below: 

  + Seven Levels of the Candy Cane Forest – includes three scoops of peppermint ice cream, layered with jumbo red nonpareil sprinkles, a peppermint topped cookie with smashed peppermint sticks and a heavy dusting of gold glitter.  


 Visions of Cinnamon Buns –  includes three scoops of cinnamon ice cream, layered with chocolate carvings, red nonpareil sprinkles, a cinnamon stick and a hefty dusting of silver glitter to boot. To be honest, though, this sundae is paired best with warm apple pie. 


 

Salty & Sweet –  includes three scoops of salted caramel chocolate chip ice cream, layered with chocolate carvings and or chocolate syrup, a coating of silver and gold edible glitter and to top it all off crumble layers of gingerbread wafer cookies for extra texture.


 

Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
    All and all, being a hostess can be hard, and sometimes stressful BUT it’s important to have fun, play with flavors and embrace the spirit of this upcoming holiday season. With that being said, whether you’re planning a holiday party for work, family or friends save yourself a trip to the store and order these items via online.    If you are anything like me, I avoid grocery stores like nobody else this time of year, and yet I end up fighting for a parking space once to twice a day leading up Christmas Eve. So I saved myself one trip by ordering all of these items from the Graeter website, minus the toppings which came from Amazon. Once everything arrived at my door I had everything prepared and ready to go within 15 minutes; making this the easiest and most festive holiday dessert bar in town. 

Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's  | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow
Holiday Ice Cream Bar with Graeter's | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

  Finally, I hope this has inspired you all to get creative this holiday season. Embrace the flavors, your company and the greatest gift of all…GOOD ICE CREAM! Graeter’s was even kind enough to offer TCC readers $5 off Ice Cream purchased before December 13th with code Coastal-Sweets. xx Aubrey   

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Thank you to Graeter’s for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.