Monday, June 24, 2024

Hallmark Christmas In July Movies 2024 Reviewed

Cue the Christmas music, cue the Christmas In July sales, if it is July it is time for Hallmark's Christmas In July holiday movies. Take a break from the heat and humidity and enjoy the air conditioning along with a healthy helping of Hallmark's Christmas In July movies.



New Movies

As has happened the past few years Hallmark takes the Christmas In July opportunity to introduce a few new Christmas movies. 

This year the new Christmas movies in July are:

The Do Not Miss List of Hallmark Christmas Movies 

These are the Christmas movies with the Hallmark A team actors with a Hallmark A team script and scenery. These are the movies which bring a smile to your face when they appear on the Hallmark schedule anytime of the year!

Three Men And A Baby

Always a favorite! Great chemistry, fun storyline, A team actors and a plot which does have some similarities to Three Men And A Baby. 

A Cozy Christmas Inn

Did I hear Garland? Oh yes! A Cozy Christmas Inn with David O'Donnell and Jodie Sweetin leads this sequel to the very popular and well loved Christmas Under Wraps. Most of the original cast returns for this charming Christmas movie set in where else? Garland.

Crown For Christmas

Always be on the lookout for a Crown For Christmas with Danica McKellar and Rupert Penry-Jones. This is one of the best Hallmark Christmas movies of all time in many Hallmarkies opinion.

A Gift To Remember

This can be an overlooked movie as Christmas is part of the theme, but not the main theme. Old school booklover and bookstore employee Ali Liebert collides into Peter Porte with her bike causing a case of amnesia at the holidays.

Join these two in a romantic movie as they unfold the past, present and possible future together!

More Hallmark Christmas Movies Reviewed

A Cozy Christmas Inn Reviewed 2022  by The Savvy Age

Hallmark Christmas Movies 2021 Reviewed by The Savvy Age







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Sunday, June 23, 2024

A Summer Pest Control Update! - Enjoying a Pest-Free Patio with Peppermint Oil

A Summer Pest Control Update! - Enjoying a Pest-Free Patio with Peppermint Oil
This spring and summer, I've discovered an incredibly effective method for keeping our patio free from wasps, ants, spiders, and flies a simple spray made of peppermint oil and water. 

Wasps are the worst backyard pests for us. They were my target! Sorry, wasps, not sorry. You wasps should be happy, because it keeps you away, and thus extends your life!

I initially wrote about this several weeks ago, and this new article is an update on how incredible this all natural pest repellent has worked! 

I used to be harassed at our patio table, to the point that after some questionable language, I'd head in the house and let the little *& % & win!

Well, they're no longer winning. Who's the boss now! This update also reiterates some of the "science" behind why peppermint works so well - just because I was curious.

I opted for a spray bottle of water with about a tablespoon (or less) of peppermint oil. That way, I can liberally spray it everywhere.

The results have been nothing short of amazing. Previously, our outdoor meals were often interrupted by pesky wasps buzzing around our food, making it difficult to enjoy our time outside. However, since using a water-peppermint oil spray, we've been able to sit at our patio table and have a complete meal in peace.

I make sure to reapply the spray when I'm outside, targeting areas like the house bricks, flower pots (though not directly on the flowers), chairs, under the chairs, under the table, our swing, and the netting. It takes a few minutes or less and is well worth the results.

The mixture is mostly water with about a tablespoon of peppermint oil in the bottle, and it doesn't damage anything—not even our swing and chair cushions. There are absolutely no stains because it's essentially just scented water.

Why Peppermint Oil Works as a Pest Deterrent

The effectiveness of peppermint oil in deterring common pests such as wasps, ants, spiders, and flies can be attributed to several factors:

1. The Strong Scent

Peppermint oil has a strong, minty aroma that is pleasant to humans but overwhelming to many insects. Wasps, ants, and spiders rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate food and navigate their environment. The intense scent of peppermint oil can disrupt these processes, making your patio unappealing to them.

2. Natural Insect Repellent Properties

Peppermint oil contains compounds like menthol and pulegone, which are effective natural insect repellents. These compounds interfere with insects' ability to communicate and find their way around, effectively keeping them at bay. Research has shown that peppermint oil can repel various insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and even certain types of spiders.

3. Safe for Humans and Pets

Safety is one of the best aspects of using peppermint oil as a pest deterrent. Unlike chemical insecticides, peppermint oil is non-toxic to humans and pets when used moderately. This makes it an excellent option for families with children and pets who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Practical Application Tips

To maximize the effectiveness of your peppermint oil spray, follow these practical tips:

  • Consistent Application: When spending extended time outside, reapply the spray daily. This ensures the scent remains strong enough to deter pests.
  • Target Key Areas: Focus on areas where insects are likely to gather, such as around food, seating areas, and entry points to your home. Spraying under tables and chairs can help create a barrier that pests are reluctant to cross.
  • Avoid Direct Spraying on Plants: While peppermint oil is generally safe for plants, it's best to avoid spraying directly on flowers and foliage. This helps prevent potential adverse effects on your plants and ensures the oil is used where it's most effective.

Conclusion

Our personal experience with peppermint oil spray has been highly effective. The simple mixture of water and peppermint oil has transformed our patio into a pest-free haven, allowing us to enjoy outdoor meals and relaxation without the constant annoyance of wasps, ants, spiders, and flies. 

The scientific reasons behind its effectiveness—its strong scent, natural repellent properties, and safety—make it a practical and reliable solution for anyone looking to keep their outdoor spaces free from common pests. Give it a try and enjoy the benefits of a peaceful, pest-free patio!

KEY POINTS:

  • I apply the spray of peppermint water every day when I go into the backyard.
  • It wears off over time, especially when it rains. I apply it daily, because I'm in the backyard daily.
  • Spray furniture, under furniture, cushions, house bricks, where you know the pests tend to go
  • I especially spray around our patio table. That way I'm having my morning coffee in total peace!
  • It's cheap and easy, and if your pets or humans aren't allergic to peppermint, it's safe! Smells good too!
  • I keep the bottle of peppermint water sitting on the patio table all summer, so when I go outside, I can easily give everything a thorough spritz.

My hubby is utterly shocked at how well this works, especially when we're eating outside—it's pretty amazing.

The real test will be in August and September when wasps are punch drunk, and we usually cannot sit in our backyard. I'm totally confident that I've won this battle! I'll let you know.

Where I Buy Peppermint Oil:

I buy the peppermint oil from Amazon. There are many to choose from. Here's the latest one I purchased.




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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Toxic Prey by John Sandford - A Book Review


A Lucas and Letty Davenport Novel


Bookcase filled with John Sandford novels


Lucas, and his daughter Letty, team up to track down a dangerous scientist whose latest project could prove disastrous for the entire world. 


Synopsis


Lucas Davenport is a US Marshal. His adopted daughter Letty Davenport is an investigator for the Department of Homeland Security. When it is discovered that a dangerous scientist has a project that could prove disastrous for the entire world, father and daughter team up to track him down.


Dr. Lionel Scott, an expert in tropical and infectious diseases, has come to believe that society is in danger of becoming nonexistent due to Earth’s out of control population levels. He thinks the disorder that has been allowed to run rampant will destroy Gaia (the earth) if the threat to the planet is allowed to continue. With a small group of dedicated followers, Scott thinks Gaia is dying and he has decided the only way to save it is to eliminate at least one-half of the world’s population. He plans to do this by releasing a deadly virus he has developed through his knowledge of infectious diseases.  He has combined two toxic diseases, making them extremely infectious, that will create a world-wide epidemic worse than any the world has yet seen. 


Summary


About the time the threat is discovered, Dr. Scott has disappeared completely. Lucas and Letty, working with a group of specialists, set out to find Scott as soon as possible. When their worst fears are confirmed, it becomes a frantic race to find Scott before the virus he created turns into the perfect weapon. 


Toxic Prey is book #34 of 34 in John Sandford’s Prey Series, published in April 2024.


Related Reviews:



*Toxic Prey book review written by Wednesday Elf 




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Friday, June 21, 2024

Pork Chops & Wild Rice Casserole Recipe Review

pork chop casserole
Pork chops are among my favorite meats for dinner.  They are almost always what I order when we eat out, even when we go to a steak house.  

At home, I have several ways I prepare pork chops.  Of course, we grill them and I fry breakfast chops.  I also have a pork chop casserole that I have been preparing for my family for over 30 years.  I found it in a cookbook I borrowed from a friend.  I returned the cookbook long ago, but I copied down this recipe, tweaked it slightly, and now it is a much loved recipe in our home.  I prepare it at least once a month.  It is easy to assemble and is ready to serve in about 90 minutes.

The original recipe called for bone-in pork chops.  I don't like having bones hiding in a casserole, so I use boneless pork chops.  

 


Pork Chop & Wild Rice Casserole Recipe
By Sylvestermouse on Review This Reviews

Ingredients 

pork chop casserole

 

Instructions 

  1.  Grease 13 x 9 x 2 casserole dish with butter 
  2.  Combine rice, seasoning packet in rice, 2T melted butter, and hot water 
  3.  Pour the mixture into the casserole dish (make sure rice is evenly spread across bottom) 
  4.  Sprinkle pork chops with pepper. Lay the chops on rice mixture 
  5.  Place a pat of butter on each chop 
  6.  Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour 
  7.  Uncover casserole – in a small bowl, combine milk and cream of celery soup together and pour over casserole 
  8.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes 



Cooking Time Note:  The cooking time is based on thin or medium sized boneless pork chops.  Because oven temperatures can vary and because chop thickness affects cooking time, I recommend cutting into one of the chops to make sure it is fully cooked before you add the soup & milk mixture.



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Pork Chops & Wild Rice Casserole Recipe Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





© 2024 Cynthia Sylvestermouse
 




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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Starting and Maintaining the Temperature in an Off-Set Smoker

 There is something magical about cooking on an off-set smoker. The slow process of smoking meats creates flavors unmatched by any other cooking method.

 However, mastering an off-set smoker can be a daunting task for a beginner. I have been using my off-set smoker for the last six years, and in my review today I'm going to share some things I've learned about starting and controlling the temperature.

Starting and maintaining the temperature in an off-set smoker

Starting Your Off-Set Smoker:

Choose high-quality lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes. It's the foundation of your fire and will provide the steady heat needed. 

Select hardwoods like oak, hickory, cherry, maple, or applewood. These woods burn slowly, adding a rich smokey flavor to your meats. Hickory is my favorite and my go-to hardwood, I love the flavor it adds to the meats.

Fire Box

Building a solid base fire is the key. I start by piling unlit charcoal in the firebox closest to the cooking chamber. Then, I fill my charcoal chimney starter, and when the coals are hot dump them next to the unlit charcoal in the firebox, then, add some wood on top. Close the firebox to bring the cooking chamber up to the temperature I want. 


Smoker Temperture

My temperature is coming up nicely. I'm looking for a temperature between 225 and 275 degrees. The temperature is reading 280 degrees so, that means my surface temperature on the cooking chamber surface is about 230 or 240 degrees. The reason for the variance is that the thermometers are placed high on the lid of the grills, and the temperature will be about 40 to 50 degrees less on the cooking surface.

Firebox Intake Vent


Controlling the Airflow:

This is the intake vent on the back of the firebox. At this point, I leave it wide open for a higher temperature. When I need to lower the temperature I will close it but not all of the way, this allows less air and will lower the temperature.

Smoke Stack

Exhaust vent or smoke stack, I always keep my smoke stack wide open. This allows the smoke to escape, preventing it from becoming stale and bitter. 

I find this method to give me 2 to 3 hours of constant heat before I have to add more fuel for heat. For a long smoke, I'll add more fuel about every 45 minutes to an hour to maintain the temperature.

Patience is the key, smoking meat is a low and slow process. Rushing it will not yield the best results.

Practice, the more you use your off-set smoker, the more you'll understand how it reacts to adjustments.

Find more Product Reviews Here:


Char-Griller 8125 Competition Pro Charcoal Grill, BlackChar-Griller 8125 Competition Pro Charcoal Grill, BlackCheck the PriceWeber Rapidfire Chimney Starter, Standard, SilverWeber Rapidfire Chimney Starter, Standard, SilverCheck the Price

 




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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Best, Most Practical Large Capacity Filtered Water Pitcher

Even though we live in an area with high-quality drinking water, the water is hard. We have found that our plants do better with filtered water, so we have always used a Pur or Brita filtered water pitcher when watering our plants. Until recently, we had only a few indoor houseplants. However, when my green-thumbed sister moved across the country last month, I inherited quite a few more. Since it takes time for the water to drip through the pitcher’s filter each time it is refilled, I quickly realized I needed a large-capacity filtered water pitcher for my indoor gardening and filling our large ultrasonic humidifier.

Today I am reviewing the Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher I chose. This simple yet effective water filtration system has a 10-cup capacity and a sleek, bright white design that combines functionality with style. You can buy it with one filter that lasts up to two months or 40 gallons of water or order a bundle that includes the pitcher and four filters.

It has been such a practical solution that I ordered a second one, which lets me water all our indoor plants without having to refill multiple times and wait for the water to drip through the filter each time.

The Most Practical Large Capacity Water Filter Pitcher

Design and Build Quality

The pitcher boasts a modern, bright white aesthetic that complements most kitchen decors. It is made from high-quality, BPA-free plastic, ensuring durability and safety. The ergonomically designed handle makes pouring easy and the flip-top lid simplifies refilling. The construction feels sturdy and the high-quality materials promise long-term use without significant wear and tear. That has certainly been the case with our previous, smaller Brita water filter pitchers.

Performance and Filtration

The Brita pitcher uses an advanced filtration system that reduces chlorine taste and odor and is certified to reduce copper, mercury, and other contaminants often found in tap water. Users have reported a noticeable improvement in the taste and clarity of their water. The filter is easy to install and replace. The model we purchased, which uses stickers to remind us when to change the filter (a pain in the neck), has been replaced by a model with a much more convenient, built-in electronic indicator that lets you know when it’s time for a new filter.

The pitcher holds up to 10 cups of water, making it suitable for small to medium-sized households. The filtration process is relatively quick, allowing you to enjoy clean, great-tasting water within minutes of filling the pitcher.

Environmental Impact

One of the standout features of this Brita pitcher is its potential environmental impact. It can significantly reduce plastic waste by replacing up to 1,800 16.9-fl. oz. single-use plastic water bottles annually, making it an eco-friendly choice for the environmentally conscious consumer. The long-lasting filter further minimizes the environmental footprint compared to frequent plastic bottle purchases.

Usability and Maintenance

Using the Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher is straightforward. The flip-top lid design makes refilling hassle-free, and the pitcher is easy to clean. It should fit comfortably in most refrigerators, should you wish to use it for drinking, providing convenient access to chilled, filtered water. Its dimensions are 10.47" high by 5.59" wide by 10.94" deep.

Maintenance involves regular filter changes every two months or after 40 gallons, whichever comes first. The electronic filter indicator is a handy feature that takes the guesswork out of knowing when to replace the filter, ensuring optimal performance and water quality.

Value for Money

The Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher is priced competitively and offers excellent value for money. The cost savings from not purchasing bottled water and the environmental benefits make it a cost-effective and sustainable option.

The pitcher comes with one filter that lasts up to two months or 40 gallons of water. I recommend buying six Brita replacement water filters (a year's worth of water filters) for each pitcher you order.

Pros

Effective Filtration: Significantly improves water taste and quality by removing common contaminants.

BPA-Free: Safe and durable construction.

Eco-Friendly: Reduces plastic waste by replacing up to 1,800 16.9-fl. oz. plastic bottles a year.

User-Friendly: Easy to refill, clean, and maintain with a convenient electronic filter indicator.

Stylish Design: Modern look that fits well in any kitchen.

Cons

Filter Replacement Cost: The ongoing expense of replacing the filter every two months can add up. At the time of this article's publication, the cost of a six-pack of filters (one year's worth) on Amazon was less than $30, or $4.95 per filter.

Capacity Limitations: Even the 10-cup capacity may not suffice for your needs. If that is the case (as it was for me), you may want to buy a second pitcher.

My Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher with one of my houseplants

Conclusion

The Brita Large Water Filter Pitcher is a reliable, eco-friendly, and user-friendly solution for improving tap water quality. Its effective filtration system, ease of use, and stylish design make it a valuable addition to any household. Despite the recurring cost of filter replacements, the long-term savings and environmental benefits make it a worthwhile investment. 

Whether you are looking for a convenient way to enjoy cleaner, better-tasting water or filtered water for gardening while reducing your plastic footprint, this Brita pitcher is an excellent choice.


The Best, Most Practical Large Capacity Filtered Water Pitcher by Margaret Schindel


Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Gardening Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors




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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Save Money on Household Cleaners with Castile Soap!

 


Castile soap, available in liquid or bar form, is a multi-purpose cleaner made from vegetable oils. It was originally made in the Castile region of Spain, but quickly spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Originally it was made of olive oil, but today it is made with a mixture of some or all of the following:

  • coconut oil
  • castor oil
  • hemp oil
  • avocado oil
  • walnut oil
  • almond oil
  • palm oil

These oils are what give the soap it’s cleansing and lathering properties. It also adds a moisturizing component that most other soaps do not have naturally, unless from animal fats.


Benefits of Using Castile Soap

Good for the EnvironmentPure castile soap has a very small impact on the environment since it doesn't contain additives, preservatives, fragrances, artificial coloring, or other chemicals commonly found in other soaps. It is also biodegradable and non GMO.

Hypoallergenic: Pure castile soap is hypoallergenic, which means it's less likely to cause allergic reactions than other types of soap.

Animal-free: Many people who live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle prefer not to use any products with ingredients that come from animal sources. Pure castile soap is vegan.

Low cost: Compared to other cleaners available in stores, a bottle of Castile soap is very inexpensive. Good sized bottles are only about $10.



This 16oz bottle of Castile Soap is less that $9 on Amazon


Save Money with Castile Soap!

Another great thing about this all natural soap is that it can be made into almost any kind of cleaner a person could need with just the addition of one or more other common ingredients. The following are some of the many things you can make with Castile soap:

All-purpose Cleaner: Combine 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid Castile soap, and (optional) 10 to 15 drops of essential oil.  Or you can use the scented versions of Castile SoapThis liquid can be used on a cloth or in a spray bottle.

Floor Cleaner: Combine 1/2 teaspoon liquid Castile soap, 2 gallons of warm water, and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol in a large mop bucket. Keep it stirred while using.

Dishwashing soap: Run a sink full of hot water and add 5 drops of Castile soap.

Dishwasher Detergent: Mix a ratio of 1/1 water and Castile soap and stir gently till mixed. Pour into your dishwasher soap compartment and close.

Laundry Detergent: Use Castile soap straight from the bottle. 1/3 to 1/2 cup per load, depending on how soiled the clothes are.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Combine 4 cups of warm water to 1 cup of Castile soap, and mix well. Pour into a spray bottle and spray in your toilet and scrub with a toilet brush. This may not clean mineral stains.

Fruit and vegetable cleaner: Combine 2 drops of liquid Castile soap to a sink of cool water and stir gently to mix. Dip veggies and fruits in the cleaner and scrub with a very soft brush and then run under the faucet in clear water.

Shampoo: Combine 1 tablespoon of castile soap in a cup of water. Use a small amount of this solution to wash your hair. Do not use on colored hair.

Face wash and Body Wash: Castile soap straight from the bottle can be used as a face and body wash. Simply rub a few drops of liquid or use a bar and wash your face and body normally. Castile soap is mild enough to use on your skin and strong enough to kill most infectious bacteria.

Hand soap: Save a lot of money by making your own liquid hand soap. Combine 2 tablespoons of liquid Castile soap and 12 oz. of water and fill your dispenser. If you would like a scent you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Shaving: Castile soap lathers so well you can rub it in your hands until it lathers and then apply to your face to use as shaving cream.

Pet wash: Combine 1 tablespoon unscented Castile soap with 1 quart of warm water. Stir to mix and rinse your pet before pouring a little at a time on them while softly lathering it in. Rinse with lots of clean water. Do you use essential oils as it can be toxic to pets.





A Few Things to Know Before Using Castile Soap

  • Do not use vinegar or lemon juice with Castile soap because Castile soap is alkaline and vinegar and lemon juice are acid, they neutralize each other.
  • Using hard water with Castile soap will leave a milky film behind when used for cleaning. The only way to stop this is to have a water softener which will soften hard water.
  • Don’t use Castile soap as shampoo if you have colored hair, it may remove some of the color.
  • When Castile soap is used as Shampoo, a good conditioner should always be applied after.
  • Castile soap is not healthy for use on plants, do not use it to make insecticidal soap.


Castile soap is a useful item to keep around your house. With the inflated prices of commercial cleaners it is a great way to save money too. I have been using it for years and I have had very few complaints. Give it a try and see what you think. It also makes a great hostess gift for the holidays. Spread the word about this great soap!





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Honoring Dad: A Father's Day Tribute to Dads in Heaven

Honoring Dad: A Father's Day Tribute to Dads in Heaven

For Father's Day, many of us are preparing to celebrate the influential men in our lives who have shaped us into who we are today. 

But for some, Father's Day carries a bittersweet undertone as we remember and honor dads who are no longer with us physically. Whether our dad passed away recently or many years ago, the memories and lessons he imparted remain etched in our hearts forever.

Reflecting on Memories

One of the most beautiful aspects of Father's Day is the opportunity to reflect on cherished memories with our dads. Whether teaching us or offering wise advice during challenging times, dads play a significant role in our lives. 

Even though they may no longer be here, their presence is felt in every laugh shared, every lesson learned, and every bit of guidance followed (or not followed, lol).

Carrying on Traditions

Dads have a way of creating lasting traditions that define our family identities. Whether it's a special meal he loved to cook, a favorite activity you enjoyed together, or a heartfelt phrase he used to say, these traditions connect us to our past and help keep his spirit alive. Embracing and continuing these traditions can be a comforting way to honor his memory on Father's Day and beyond. 

If there are no apparent traditions, that doesn't matter! A tradition can be as simple as watching a TV show and laughing together.

Finding Comfort in Shared Stories

Sharing stories about our dads is a powerful way to celebrate their lives. Whether with family members and friends or even quietly reminiscing on your own, recounting funny anecdotes, meaningful conversations, and poignant moments can bring a sense of warmth and closeness. These stories create a tapestry of his life that ensures his legacy endures.

Personally, I find myself loving it when we talk about Dad. When my family and I get together and remember him out loud, that's when I find my greatest peace with this difficult loss.

Embracing Gratitude

While it's natural to feel sad on Father's Day when our dads are no longer here, it's also a time to embrace gratitude for our time together. Every laugh, hug, and piece of advice is a gift that continues to shape us. By focusing on gratitude, we can celebrate the love and wisdom our Dads imparted, acknowledging their profound impact on our lives.

Honoring Their Legacy

As we celebrate Father's Day, let us also reflect on the legacy our dads left behind. Their influence extends beyond their physical presence, living on in the values they instilled and the love they shared. 

Honoring their legacy is a meaningful way to commemorate their life and continue their impact, whether through charitable acts, mentoring others, or simply being there for loved ones and friends.

A Time for Reflection and Connection

This Father's Day, for those of us who have lost our dads, let's take a moment to reflect on the love, guidance, and memories they left us. 

Let's cherish the traditions they started and the stories they left behind. And let's find comfort in knowing that their spirit lives on in us and those whose lives they touched.

To all the dads in heaven, this Father's Day is for you. Your presence is felt in every corner of our lives, and we always carry your love with us. 

Cheers to the memories, the lessons, and the enduring legacy you've given us. Happy Father's Day.

A Tribute to My Dad in Heaven - A Video Created Eight Years Ago, Dedicated to All Fathers


Happy Father's Day to All Father's - to Dads of All Kinds, Living and Passed On 💗💗




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