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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Favorite-Ogden Nature Center's Earth Day Celebration

A couple years ago was our very first time going to the Ogden Nature Center's Earth Day Celebration and we had the best time!  My girls didn't stop talking about it for months and have started talking about it again the last few weeks since it's coming up soon!  Tomorrow in fact!
We have the best time and at only $2 per person its affordable AND the money goes to a great cause!

Saturday, April 19, 12 noon - 4 pm
The Nature Center's outdoor glen will be filled with tons of earth-friendly ideas, a native plant sale, product booths, workshops and fun activities!  All of Utah's green gurus will be on hand with topics ranging from bee keeping, composting, and invastive weeds, to Llama cart rides and a climbing wall for kiddos!  Children always love the US Forest Service water trailer while adults enjoy taking home green ideas for their homes and gardens.  Read more for all the details.
Cost: $2 per person
The are so many activities.....face painting, wreath making, bubbles, workshops and presentations.  My particular favorites are the wool spinning and getting to feed the alpacas.  I'm not sure if the alpacas will be there this year but I sure hope so!

Side note.....you may or may not know that one day I want to live on an alpaca ranch and have chickens and spin wool and do all sorts of things like that.  Surprising, I know.

So!  If you're wondering what you and/or your family can do tomorrow that doesn't involve a gigantic bunny costume or bringing home tons of candy you don't need (trust me...you don't need it) now you have a fun day planned for you and all you have to do is show up!

For more details on the activities go here.  And then I will see you there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tip Tuesday-Easter Egg Decorating Tips for the Lazy

Last year was the first year that we decorated our Easter eggs with Sharpie markers and I'm pretty sure we may never go back. 

The girls get full access to all my colored Sharpie markers (which is a dream come true for them) and I don't have to worry about egg dye getting on everything but the eggs. 

Plus they get to create the exact designs they won't without the frustration of the limits of egg dye.  I'm not a fan of the egg dye.  Just say no.
And then pull those Sharpies out and actually enjoy decorating eggs with your kids!


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

Ingredients
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

Directions
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 post...like 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? 

Sigh......

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

Ingredients
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

Directions
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 cards....one 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 moment....is 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.**
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