Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Gluten Free Granola

This is one of our favorite things for breakfast.  Everyone loves it so much I haven't even been able to get a picture of it.  It's great on its' own, with milk, sprinkled over yogurt, or any other granola ideas you might have.  I just recently started making again and it has not lasted longer than 48 hours.  It's that good.

Gluten Free Granola

3 cups gluten free oats
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup (or more) coarsely chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  You can use a tradition oven setting or a convection oven setting to make the cooking time shorter.

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, coconut and nuts/fruit.  In a saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, water, salt, vanilla and cinnamon over a medium heat until the mixture is melted and bubbly.  Pour this over the oat mixture and stir well.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Spread granola mixture evenly on a large baking sheet with space to allow for air circulation.  Place on the center rack in the oven.  The cooking time will vary depending on oven and setting.

For traditional oven baking setting:
Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Place the baking sheet back in the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.  Continue this cycle until the granola is golden brown and completely dry.  It usually takes about three cycles.

For convection setting:
Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Place the baking sheet back in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Place the baking sheet back in oven for just five more minutes (more if needed), until the granola is golden brown and completely dry.

And then enjoy for the next 48 hours because it disappears fast!

Helpful Hints
You can also add 1/4 flax seed to improve the nutritional quality
If you add dried fruit it gets pretty dried out during the baking progress.  I tend to use only nuts in the recipe and then add fresh or dried fruit when serving.
It's tempting to leave the granola in a great big clump for the first round of baking in order to make little granola clumps.  It's doesn't work.  Don't do it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

St. Patrick's Day....To Celebrate or Not To Celebrate

This.  This is something that has been on my mind for the last....oh, year or so. 

It all started with another judgemental blog how many things start these days.  I'm not going to post the link because, frankly, I don't think it deserves the click.  The basic gist of the blog post was bashing all the mom's who choose to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with their kids.  Now, you might be asking why someone would be so irrationally against how total strangers choose to spend their day.  And the answer makes perfect sense.....because it makes her look bad.  Yep.  That's it.  All St. Patrick's Day celebrations should be stopped because she chooses not to celebrate and therefore feels that strangers celebrations make her look bad.

Using this logic I should probably stop feeding my family healthy meals because I'm making the people who don't feed their families healthy meals look bad.  And I should probably have my kids wear dirty clothing so the mom's who are behind on the laundry this week don't feel bad.  And maybe I should park my kids in front of the television so that the mom's who are having a rough week and needed a little assistance from the TV to make it through don't feel bad.

Or maybe I should just do what's best for my family right now and not be so obsessed with what everyone else is doing.  As a matter of fact, my girls are playing on the iPad right now and I don't feel bad about it at all.

Back to the blog post.....  

This is not a small, unknown blog it was posted on but a big, popular blog.  So many people read it and many people shared it on Facebook, sometimes even accompanied with snarky remarks about how "those moms" need to get off Pinterest and get a life.

This made me sad.  It made a lot of mom's sad.  Personally, I started celebrating St. Patrick's Day with my little family long before Pinterest came along and this blog post didn't change my family tradition in any way.  But I know of quite a few mom's who felt really bad.  It stole the joy they felt out of celebrating with their kids.  It stole the joy out of the leprechaun trap making and rainbow cupcake baking and green milk drinking.   It made these women, who were just trying to make fun memories with their kids, feel dumb.  It Stole The Joy!

I can see how, in some negative condescending way, it may have been empowering to the women who don't like celebrating St. Patrick's Day or any other small holiday.  I can understand how Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and all the other social media platforms can make you feel like you are somehow not measuring up as a mother.  It makes all of us feel that way, whether it's holiday celebrations or perfectly clean homes or any of the other things where we feel we don't measure up.  But holiday celebrations are not what makes a good mother.  Crafts and treats and Instagram moments don't make a good mother.  It's the every day moments that don't make it to Facebook that decides our fate of Good Mother or Bad Mother.

BUT.  A very big but....If you make yourself feel better about your parenting choices by putting other women down it does reflect on who you are as a person.  As a woman.  And ultimately, that WILL influence who you are as a mother.

Honestly, I didn't see a single post from a Pro-Holiday mom proclaiming their superiority in motherhood for choosing to celebrate.  Some may argue that it is implied.  My personal theory is that a lot of those feelings (on both sides) come from insecurities.  Approximately 99.9% of mom's feel insecure about their parenting choices at some point in their lives.  It can be about holidays, school, chores, discipline, after school activities, clothes, screen time, hair styles, meals, snacks, pets, ANYTHING.  We've all been there.  But making ourselves feel better by criticizing another moms choices doesn't make us any better.  It just steals the joy.

So to all you moms out there who are celebrating St. Patrick's Day with wild Irish abandon I say, Great!  Have a great time!  You are a good mom! 

And to all you moms out there who are not celebrating St. Patrick's Day I say, Great! Have a great time!  You are a good mom!  


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sugar Free....

Dear Diary,

Today is day three of our no sugar month.  The first day wasn't so bad because Lolly, Babs and CG were all home so we were in it together and I was constantly supervised.  When everyone is gone and I only have my unending list of chores to keep me company it gets a little harder. 

I'm happy to report I haven't screamed incoherently at anyone due to my sugar detoxing.  So far.  And I have gained .8 pounds so things are going as expected. 

I might be feeling a tad cranky.  And a little snarky.  Because, as good as a pear is, it's just got nothing on the chocolate that I really need right now. 

It's going to get better, right? 


Yours Truly,
Lady of Perpetual Sugar Detox 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

May The Force Be With You 
This Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Sugar Cookies

I'm about to share with you the recipe for the best sugar cookies you will ever eat.  They are amazing.  And slightly addicting.  They're perfect for Valentine's Day or any other holiday requiring sugar cookies.  I usually make them for Earth Day.  Because I am a hippie that celebrates Earth Day!  But whatever reason you have for making these cookies, you will be happy you did.

Sugar Cookies

3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups flour, plus flour for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream eggs, sour cream, baking soda and vanilla together.  Mix in sugar and butter. Then add baking powder, salt and flour.
Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness and put those rarely used cookie cutters to good use.
Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on cookie size.
Once they are cooled, frost and enjoy!  And consider giving some away (this recipe makes A LOT!) so you don't enjoy them too much.  They also freeze well (un-frosted) for later use.

Not the best picture, but definitely the best sugar cookies!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Confessions of a Sugar Addict

Growing up I was one of those kids....ya know, the weird kids who didn't really have much of a sweet tooth. I would give my leftover Halloween candy away just before Christmas, my Christmas candy away around Valentine's Day, my Valentine's Day candy at Easter, and so on and so forth.  A neighbor friend greatly benefited from my lack of sweet tooth.  Don't get me wrong....I did like some kinds of candy, but I was a little picky about it.  I liked chocolate.  And I liked it dark.  I would eat milk chocolate, but my life long love is for dark chocolate.  Don't even talk to me about white chocolate.  It's not chocolate.

I maintained this habit (and coincidentally my weight....couldn't possibly be connected, right?!) all through college.  After I was married I did notice that I tended to eat more sugar than I used to but it wasn't that bad.  It was something I could totally give up easily.  All those articles about sugar being addictive were for people who were really addicted sugar.  Which was totally not me.

Oh how the sugar buzzed have fallen.

A couple months ago, I decided I was going to go sugar free to see if it would help me feel better.  I didn't have a certain time frame in mind but I figured it would help me transition to sugar just being an occasional treat instead of a frequent "need".  My sugar fast lasted two and a half days.  And those two and a half days were hard.  Very hard.  I noticed that after a meal I would just crave something sweet.  I was shocked....had I really gotten into the habit of having sugar after every meal?!  Probably not, but I had gotten into the habit of having sugar entirely too often.

I know people who eat A LOT of sugar.  I don't eat a large amount, just small amounts throughout the day.  Which end up equally way too much.  It's funny how these bad habit creep up on you when you don't notice.  And how easily we use those bad habits to cope with the stress of life.  We all have our way of not-coping with life and sugar had become my best frenemy.

My original sugar free time was just before the holidays and I figured that I would be doomed to try to go sugar free again during the holidays.  The good news was that just a couple of days worth of sugar free did help decrease my cravings so my sugar dependency did go down somewhat.  After the holidays I wanted to do it again but was a little...hesitant.  It's a big challenge to tackle alone.  Especially with a house full of candy!  It's everywhere.  And I don't buy 99%.  It just manages to come to our house by the best of intentions of others.

After school started again in January, Babs started talking about some kids in her class that were doing a sugar free challenge.  I must admit that I found it a little surprising since she is only in first grade.  But I figure it was a healthy challenge and would be great for the kids.  And the $100 reward for completing it wouldn't hurt either.  Turns out there were six or seven kids doing it.  She talked about it almost every day.  And then I did it.....

I said, "Why don't we do a sugar free challenge as a family?".   

Lolly (my nine year old) was all for it!  She's never had much of a sweet tooth so it's an easier commitment for her to make.  Babs (my six and three quarter year old) was a little less enthusiastic.  She's my "eat my weight in sugar" child and this would be more of a sacrifice.  But we talked and negotiated and discussed and we all decided to go for it and picked a start date, time frame, reward and everything.

Start Date: February 17, 2014
End Date: March 16, 2014
Reward: Going to a restaurant for dinner AND ordering dessert (oh, the irony)

And then we told CG.

And he is humoring us and going along with it.  And let me tell you....he is thrilled!!!  (typed in sarcasm font)  I think it's safe to say that this sugar free challenge is going to be hardest for the grown ups.  With the kids I just put away their candy and treats and keep them distracted.  Unfortunately, since I'm putting away the treats that also means I can sneak back into the treats.

This is going to take epic will power.  Too bad I won't have chocolate to get me through it.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

An Afternoon in the Flower Patch

Last spring my Lolly girl and I got to have a girls day together at the Flower Patch.  We got to see where all the magic happens and take a tour of the facility.  The freezers are cold but the flowers are beautiful.

After the tour, we got to try our hands at making our own beautiful wrist corsages.  Lolly really got into it and even made one for her little sister.

At the end of this awesome event, the lovely people of the Flower Patch gave each of the bloggers a plant (I killed mine, somehow...I was so bummed) and two gift to keep and one to share.  And I thought to myself, "Self, I need to find the perfect moment to share this gift card".  

That perfect now.  

It's almost Valentine's Day and now is the perfect time for beautiful custom flowers from the Flower Patch. And a $25 gift card is going to make it so much sweeter. And to make sure you get your gift card in time, we're going to make this giveaway super fast!  A flash giveaway, if you will.  

The giveaway starts...NOW.  And goes until Saturday February 8, 2014 at Midnight.  I'll choose a winner and they have 24 hours to respond to my email before I choose another winner.  If you're feeling particularly confident, then go ahead and email me your address.  Sending it out into the Universe and all....

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and cross your fingers!    

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Simple Organizing Tips!

Recently I wrote about my New Year's resolution to simplify my life.  In my quest for simplification, I (unfortunately) can not neglect the role of organization in my life.  When things are organized, life is just simpler.  It's a painful truth for those of us that secretly think we're destined for our own episode of Hoarders.  And while it might seem easier to just get rid of everything, that's not exactly a reality either.  We have to take the mess we have, get rid of what we can and organize the rest.

Here are some DIY tips for the New Year that give some great tips for organization and also for sprucing things up and making it fun again.  My favorite is the homework caddy.  We already have a homework caddy that gets used every day!  The only problem....the holes in the basket weaving just beg for things to fall out and get stuck.  But as you can see from the picture, this can easily solved by just sticking some cups in to corral the strays.  Now I have a good use for all those kiddie to go cups that my children insist on keeping because they are so very special.  Everyone wins!

**I was compensated for my time but all opinions and scattered writing utensils are my own.**

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tip Tuesday- All Natural Fruit & Vegetable Wash

We've all heard about or read about (or saw on Pinterest) a variety of fruit and vegetable washes that you can make at home or buy for a lot of money.  In my pursuit of simplifying my life, I've been using the simplest version of fruit and veggie wash that I have found.  And I'm happy to say that it works amazingly well! 

Here's the magical secret.....

Fill your clean sink with water and add a cup of vinegar.  Then let them soak for ten minutes.

That's it!!  You can wash a sink full of produce for about 30 seconds of your time.  I had heard that this particular fruit/veggie wash helps keep berries good longer and I can tell you, it really does!

These berries were purchased six days ago on super sale (which usually means "very ripe and needs to be eaten quickly"...I've learned this the hard way) and I washed them in the magical wash.  This is what they look like today.
This is amazing people!  And so easy!  One more simple step towards world domination.  Or at the very least, clean fruits and veggies.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

This New Year.....

I love New Years' Resolutions.  I really, really do.  I love making goals and working towards them.  I especially love enjoying the rewards from attaining these goals.

A lot of the time, my New Years' Resolutions are private and I work towards them throughout the year.  But I'll be honest....there has been a time or two that I have forgotten what my goals were half way through the year.  So, this year I decided that I would make an inspiration board for my goals.  Some people call them dream boards.  Some might call them a poster to mock your inadequacies.  But this year I made one.  And so did my girls.  My goals varied this year.  I have a goal specifically geared to the way I parent each of my children.  They are different goals because they are different girls.  I have goals about my home, family and my own personal development.  As I looked over my goals I did see an underlying theme.  And with that theme also came an unintended word for the year. 
Simplify my house by getting rid of things, simplify my finances by not buying things, simplify meals, simplify my clothes, simplify everything.  And this is hanging in my room to remind me everyday.  And hopefully, by simplifying my life, I can also learn how to be a little less hard on myself.  That particular goal is becoming increasingly more important as I watch my girls growing up and looking to me to learn how to become the people they are meant to become.  And I certainly don't want them to grow up and spend their lives trying to be unrealistically perfect and unkind to themselves.  We all know that children don't listen to what we say, they learn from what we do.  Which is too bad because every once in a while, I have a pretty good way with words.  But for now.....I will simplify.

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