Get Real: Granola Bars

Friday

 
Recipes. Ugh. Call it a short attention span that only kicks in when I cross the threshold of the kitchen. I don't know. What I do know, is that I need it simple. I need a 10 minute or less prep time and as few ingredients as possible or I break into a cold sweat. It's not pretty.
 
Regardless of my recipe aversion, duty calls, and today it called from the granola bar isle.
Granola bars. The bane of my existence as a mom. My kids love them and I hate buying them. It's pure torture for me to buy 6 tiny little bars of oatmeal with ingredients that sound like something from a chem lab. Clearly I was being presented with a challenge. 
 
So, getting on with it. Granola bar recipes are pretty easy, which for me, means no cold sweat. Here's what I came up with.
 
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Mix the dry:
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Rice Crispies (my go-to ingredient)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
 
Mix the wet:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
 
Combine the two. Spread out this lump of goods onto a 13 x 9 parchment lined baking sheet and cook for approximately 35 minutes. Let it cool and then cut them up as you please!
 
 
I've got the seal of approval from all my little people and even the hubs (who in the past sarcastically referred to granola bars as gerbil food). Not cool, hon. Not cool.
 

Peek-a-boo

Wednesday

Shameless baby post. Happy hump-day!


Visiting Roslyn, Washington

Monday

Roslyn Candy Company. We struck gold.
 
I guarantee that if you live in the Seattle area, and you’ve waited 9 or so soggy, foggy and sometimes dreary, depressing months to get to summer… you aren’t leaving the state. Once summer arrives, a herd of wild animals couldn’t drag me out of state. It’s the most awesome season to stay local.
Our summer (and if I were honest, our fall too) is pretty amazing. I love our hot summer days at the pool or at the lake, warm evenings and for Pete’s sake, the end to relentless frizzy hair! Even if it’s only until mid-September, it’s worth waiting for.  Summer is the time of year when my appreciation for staying home with our gaggle of kids is at an all-time high.

Before I go on though, I have to clear the air -
I don’t think I’m alone in saying this, but in our house the technology tornado is just completely out of control. I-pad, I-pod, X-box, DS…I swear if one more product finds its way into my house that starts with a letter, followed by a hyphen, I am gonna wind up on the news - and not in a good way. I shock myself at how resistant I'm becoming to technology, and summer just brings me to full tilt. I wait ALL year for summer! We are NOT playing video games! (that’s for the other 9 months kids)
So there's how the day went. We were off to meet friends at the zoo, in a car devoid of television (because I'm too cheap for that kind of car), confiscated DS’s (because I'm sick and tired of breaking up fights) and me at the wheel, hell bent on having a good time. In the sun. At the zoo. Woohoo!
 
Closed. The zoo was closed. Because it was Tuesday.  Friend and I look at each other. (ex*ple*tive)
 
Me:  (blink, blink) ...let’s just drive.
Friend: (shoulder shrug) It’s a good day for an adventure
Me: (shoulder shrug, palms up) Since we’re so close, let’s just head east over the pass
Friend: Let’s go!
We kind of laughed, ignoring the annoying groans from the backseat and got out the map. Map? Yes, the big old, take up the whole car from passenger window to drivers right shoulder, map. Ha! (eye roll from the backseat...whisper, whisper...'hey, what is that thing?' )  I rest my case.
Me: read the cities!
Friend: Snoqualmie, North Bend, Easton, Hyak, Snoqualmie Pass, Roslyn, CleElum…
Me: Roslyn! It’s awesome there…don’t you remember “Northern Exposure”
Friend: We’re old.
Me: Yep. And this will be awesome.
And it was. Because we're old school. 
I almost died when I saw this enormous selection at Roslyn Candy Company. Thanks, I'll take one of each.
Sugar. High.
 
Despite their best efforts to scoff at our adventure, our kids had a blast! Extracting them at 7 pm was touch and go. I'm not gonna lie, there were tears. All of us had a great day and a great adventure.
 
Roslyn reminds me a little bit of a sleepy old ghost town. It isn’t a ghost town but rather an old coal mining town which is just as cool. The buildings are old, the history is remarkable and fun to read and overall, the town has done an amazing job of keeping a cohesive look that I haven't seen duplicated. The people are incredibly friendly, the antique stores offer truly unique treasures and the coffee and candy on our trip couldn’t be beat. It was worth the trip and absolutely worth sharing.

Thanks Roslyn for the great summer memories!

Halloween Sweets Table (re-post)

Monday

I was surprised at how many hits we had to this Halloween dessert table, so I thought I'd re-post it - rather than reinvent the wheel so to speak. It was really fun and our kids completely freaked when they saw it, which made it all the more worthwhile! Here goes...

Are you having a Halloween party? Are you short on ideas and not sure where to begin?

Let me help you with your dessert table. If you want to recreate the display above, I’ve broken it down into bite-size steps.
Your grocery list for this menu:

Apples, peanut butter, mini marshmallows, cake mix (don’t forget eggs and oil), frosting, writing gel or edible pen, candy melts & lollipop sticks (you may need to go to the craft store for these), chocolate pudding, oreos, tombstone shaped cookies, pretzel rods & sprinkles.



Making these desserts is fun and tasty!

I would set aside 2 – 3 hours realistically to make the food because you will have to bake for the cake pops and heat the candy melts. Once you do this it will go pretty quickly. You can find a great tutorial for cake pops and cake balls at Bakerella. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can find an eyeball specific tutorial here.

The “witches wands” will be fast because once you have heated the candy melts for the cake pops, you just dip the pretzel rods, place them on wax paper and sprinkle. Be sure to wait until they dry before trying to move them.

The “goblin kisses” are simply sliced apples (buy the presliced to avoid brown apples) with peanut butter spread to make the mini marshmallows stick. “Chocolate graveyards” are even easier - chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreos and a cookie tombstone. Use the same gel pen as you did for the “ghost pops”.

I hope this easy menu helps save you time and energy so you can enjoy your Halloween!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Coma

Monday


Just push the 12 pound weight gain out of your mind, and put yourself into a chocolate chip cookie coma. I did.

I have to give credit where it is due...I stumbled on this amazing recipe from "Savory Sweet Life" blog. Since then, I've officially been told by my family to STOP making them and I'm getting threatening late night texts from friends that I sent home with Ziploc's of these addictive cookies. I also noticed last night a new suspicious stain on my white couch right about where my hubby sits every night. Caught!

Ok, ok, on to it. Here's the original recipe article:
http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/10/alices-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/

I couldn't help myself and amended my recipe just slightly by adding 1 1/2 cups of rice crispies (and by sheer laziness did not weigh my flour because that would have required me to go buy a scale - not happenin'). I have a friend who amended hers by adding almond slivers and just a touch of almond extract - those were also delicious.

If you want to print this recipe go ahead and click on the link below! Enjoy and thank you Savory Sweet Life!
http://savorysweetlife.com/easyrecipe-print/2337-0/

"a camping date!" said the middle child

Friday


She's only 6. She's in the middle. And sometimes being in the middle is tough.

When she heard that big brother was getting to go on yet another sleepover, the tears of injustice began to well up. I can't believe that in the midst of a wild 7 month old on my hip waving around a rattle like a pair of nunchucks, my observation skills were plugged in enough to catch this would-be crisis and go in for the save. I heard myself saying on instinct and pure survival mode:

"I have a really special night planned just for you and me tonight!"

...the river of emotion that was about to spill over just seconds ago seemed to slow, and she turned looking up at me with her innocent, greenish-blue eyes and she whispered excitedly...
 

"Yes! how'd you know?!"
(OMG. I looked like that owl in the tree.)
 
"Yessss!" (sounds more like yethhhhhhh with her lisp that seems to be th-ticking around th-till)

From that second, I knew, that the next 8 hours that she was at school were crucial. They had better produce something good, something that resembled camping, and something that would make her feel special.
 
*side note* We have never gone camping, so I don't know where this is coming from but I figured it would work to my advantage.

Here's my word association related to camping:
fire | smores | blankets | games | wildlife | hot chocolate | snuggles
And so that's what I went on.
 
The process was bound to be painful with a wanna-be crawler in the house who has an ear piercing alarm screech when I am anywhere past 48" from his body. Plus, the added task of concocting this 'camping date' with only the things I already had in the house. I applied my word association here like a champ. Apparently we are always camping, I just didn't know it.

(world market, my go to store for old school games with great packaging)
Camping date success, complete with happy camper, who had the whole house & both parents all to herself!  
 
It turned out to be a fun night for everyone. It's always hard for us to find the time for one-on-one with each child, but when we get the chance I'm surprised at how much I miss it and I wonder why we don't do it more often (insert irrational guilt here). I love these moments.
 
Feel free to download and print the camping owl art for yourself!  All you need is Acrobat reader and a printer. Enjoy!

Potty word photoshoot

Monday


 
Potty word photoshoot. That's what I call it. Yes, it's vulgar and inappropriate, but it gets me the money shot.

Yesterday I wanted to change out our family photo wall but I didn't have 'the' picture I wanted of my most mischievous of the three. Let me clarify, I had plenty of photos of her with obnoxious poses or ridiculous 'glitterati' outfits, but not the kind of photo I want to see on a daily basis.

Summer photos are my favorite since our winter and spring are so long and soggy in Seattle. It's the summer photos of healthy, happy, tanned kids that get me through the dreary months.

Hence, the potty word photoshoot. Anyone with kids knows that from about 4 years old, potty words are inevitable, annoying and usually result in uncontrollable giggles. Our house rules forbid potty words (as if a rule can really vanquish a childs desire to whisper, blurt or giggle-spit out these super hilarious words). So, I use it to my advantage when I take pictures of my kids.

I use potty words. It shocks them. They look at each other as if they are holding their breath and their look says 'can you believe what she said?' Then they either collapse in hysterics, or I get the money shot. When my tactics are successful I feel like I have conquered them and their annoying potty word habit.

 
There is a bit of work ahead to reign them in after a photoshoot like this, but over the years they've learned...it does have to come to an end. Eventually. Usually two days later it dissipates, but I still got the money shot.

In the end, I win.

Big Top Birthday Party Gift!

Monday

 
There's only one baby, other than my own, that I love this much! And he just turned ONE! His super creative mom put together a cheerful circus themed party for her little man - so I couldn't resist personalizing his gift...Big Top style.

Here's the short story, longggg.

This smiley giggler is downwind from 3 older brothers so he has never really needed clothes, and he definitely didn't need any more toys...but he L.O.V.E.S. balls (and I know how bad his mom wanted me to draw his silhouette - wink, wink K!). The circus themed birthday party seemed to be the perfect time to hit all the high points for my friend's one year old to be.

Once I spotted it, I knew I could transform the giant cheeseball tub from the junk food isle into the perfect container for the cart of whiffle balls I hoarded back at the party store. Then, I swear I heard angels singing when I reached the clearance toy section at Target (shhhh) and was face to face with an adorable tiny elephant whose trunk was curled up as if it was begging me to glue a yellow ping pong ball to it. The ball, I wrapped with a slim blue ribbon to make my circus elephant come to life.

My plan was coming together beautifully. Cheeseball containers have the perfect red top to glue a circus elephant to (plus it is a durable plastic, and at $4.99 can you really beat it?).

Next, I personalized it with a vintage circus poster inspired label!


The process...there's always a process.

First, I researched old time circus posters. I settled on a few to help inspire me to create a personalized label for the birthday boy.

Second, I cranked out his silhouette...so sweet. It was late night as I was drawing and it hit me. I have known this baby since the day he was born, traveled across the world with him (to Finland - an impromptu trip just for moms and babies - leaving behind 5 others between us) and seen him at least every week of his entire life. We are undeniably bonded. (sigh...so sweet)
 
Third, I started looking around for the fonts I needed for my project to come together. 
 
Free fonts? Free fonts! Free circus fonts!
 
Puh-lease. I love free fonts. I found these safe free font downloads from www.dafont.com.
You can click on the examples below to go straight to the download page for each font.












Lastly, I thought about all the words and phrases that I would use to describe this very loved little boy. And here is what came of it all!
 
Normally, I would be horrified if I made one of my friends cry - but it was the sign of success when my friend realized that it was her little boy on the label and that this was definitely a keepsake from his first birthday party - Big Top style!
 


Before & After | log cabin to beach house

Monday

I'm not much of a DIY'er, but I admit, I'm a sucker for a good before and after project, especially if it involves spray paint.
 
Before and afters are my favorite blog posts, pinterest pins and I can't stand it when the before/after project is documented in long form...meaning I have to wait! One of my favorite boards, aptly named "crafty" on Pinterest is overflowing with before and after projects.

Clearly there is a quiet obsession lurking somewhere in my subconscious. It was bound to come out this summer, given that the kids are out of school and we have slid nicely into the "summer schedule" (more like a crash landing of sleeping in and wearing our bathing suits 'round the clock). There's plenty of down time, a McLendons hardware located way too close to our house and a Ben Franklin within walking distance. It's a powder keg.

Boom.
I loved the idea of the log cabin at first and I was happy for the kids to have somewhere to play and imagine (or maybe get out of my hair for a minute!), but the colors were just grinding on my nerves from the very second we put it in the yard. The lack of a single sleeping bag combined with our obscene bathing suit and beach towel collection might tip someone off that we may be more of a 'beach people' than log cabin people.

Luckily, Krylon makes a brilliant spraypaint that adheres to plastic and can be found in many colors. It's called "Fusion" for plastic and best of all, it dries within 15 minutes. Along with my gold acrylic professional spray paint by Montana.cans in "Malachite Light", this log cabin was history!

And in reverse...here was the process. A hot 86 degree day made the water dry fast and the paint dry even faster - perfect for the impatient.
 
Thumbs up for our first before and after of the summer!




 

July 4th recap

Wednesday

 
This year we were surprised and excited to be invited by close friends to drive down to their beach home in Ocean City, Washington, for the July 4th celebration on the ocean! As if spending the holiday with friends wasn't good enough, we also scored some of the most beautiful and unexpected weather conditions! 
 
We (the adults) took a quick look outside and tried to drink it all in as fast as we could -  by 8 am on July 4th, my friend and I were already staring down the barrel at many, many pairs of excited eyes.  Despite the fact that our kids see each other every week at least twice, they were counting the minutes to reunite, and plot their coup d'├ętat.
 
We were outnumbered 7 to 4.
 
It was hopeless.
 
So off we went. To be tourists (in our own state) and to have F.U.N.
 
We did the traditional things like visiting the firework stand and buying way too many explosives (courtesy of our over generous hosts). We went to the tourist-y but infamous "Shark Store" for shark tooth necklaces and then to the t-shirt shop for matching souvenir sweatshirts. Then we headed back home to run through the sand dunes and count the minutes until dark!
 
While the kids ran along the wrap around deck and hid in the tall grasses waiting for the sun to go down, we enjoyed the view.

 
 
Finally, sunset.
 
BOOM!
 
 
It was an amazing firework display and I know our kids will never forget this fourth of July at the beach house.
 
There are many days I go to bed wondering how I will ever have the energy to get up the next day because 'my people' exhaust me so. But in reality, their innocent excitement and persistant nagging to do something fun every day is what keeps me going. July 4th recap reminded me of this little fact.
 
As I write this, I am grateful for my friends and family, my health, and a wonderful trip that leaves amazing memories!
 
Thank you  K & D and especially P & C, for a memory making July 4th!
 
Now...to document using my favorite book maker, Blurb.
 

 

 

by mlekoshi