Friday, December 5, 2014

20 Days and Counting

Well whether we are ready for it or not Christmas will be here in 20 days, for those who celebrate Hanukkah you only have 11 days.

Not that I am trying to induce any stress.

This year we've taken a pretty laid back approach to Christmas and the shopping that goes with it.  Having three kids we decided there are a plethora of toys in our house already so we should come up with about 3 meaningful gifts for each of them and then focus the remainder of the day on hanging out with family and enjoying a meal together...OF course there will be focus on food (I love the stuff).

So let me share with you a delicious treat and something that might distract you from any stress you might be under.

  • 1 1/2 C all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 C spelt flour
  • 1 1/3 C sugar
  • 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 Earth Balance, melted
  • 3 ener-G egg replacers
  • 3 Tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together with a fork and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl mix together your Earth Balance, vanilla, almond milk, and egg replacers.
  • Gradually add in your dry mixture and beat until fully incorporated.
  • With damp hands form two loaves (12" x 3") from the dough and place on a greased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Allow the loaves to cool for 10-15 minutes on the baking sheet.
  • Remove from the sheet and slice the loaves (you should get at least 12 slices from each loaf).
  • Place the sliced cookies back on the baking sheet, cut side up, and bake at 325 degrees for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Allow them to cool before dipping (or eat them as is...I promise they are delicious just like this).
These might not make you all zen

But hopefully they will give you a nice little break.  Pair these (yes you should have at least two) with a cup of hot tea, chocolate, or coffee (whatever your please is).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Alternative Giving

This time of year at my church stewardship campaigns are ramped up full speed.

Everyone wants to get their budgets in line and know what we have to work with for next year.

But should this be a topic that we discuss just one month of the year?

Or instead should it be a topic that we constantly have in the back of our minds.

I was recently part of a discussion in which we discussed ways to give and the people in the discussion were mainly focused on money...but there are so many other great ways to give.


This is a really broad topic but narrow it down to something that interests you
  1. Boys and Girls Club
  2. Serving food at a soup kitchen
  3. Delivering meals for Meals on Wheels
  4. Mow your neighbors lawn
  5. Lead a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop
  6. Drive cancer patients to their treatments
  7. Clean up a local park or streets
  8. Check out local opportunities on Volunteer Match
Donate Yourself

  1. Donate blood to the local Red Cross
  2. Donate hair to Locks of Love
Alternatives to Money
  1. Link your grocery card buyers card to a local school so that they receive a portion of the sale
  2. Give away excess from your home through places such Freecycle or Goodwill or Salvation Army
  3. Handmade items that can be donated (such as blankets for premature babies)
  4. Old athletic shoes that can be made into playground surfaces
  5. Donate old blankets and towels to your local humane society
As you can see these things just barely scratch the surface...BUT there are numerous ways to give you just have to look around, see what talents you have or take inventory of the items in your house.

Not only will you be helping someone out there are studies that show helping makes us happier and healthier people.  

What suggestions or ideas do you have for other ways to give?  I know there are so many out there :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Only 51 More Days To Go

It is shocking to me every year how quickly Christmas rolls around.

Makes me begin to wonder whether time is just moving faster.

As of today there are 51 more days until Christmas.

I love the holiday and the decorations...and the FOOD!

Wouldn't be a proper holiday without some delicious vittles.

However the commercial aspects of the season really drive me crazy.

I was walking through one of the big box stores with my kids (mid-October mind you) and Christmas decorations and suggestions for gifts were everywhere.  My kids expressed some dismay and wanted to know what, when Halloween and Thanksgiving still had to come, were we already prepping for Christmas.

Simply explained to them it was so the most money could be made on gifts.

My husband and I have for several years requested that family either give 1 gift per child or give them an experience (or money for an experience if they live too far away).

This has worked like a charm and has cut down on the massive amounts of stuff that would clutter our house each December.

So what do you do?  Do you give unabashedly or are you more conservative?

Are their certain traditions that you all have the substitutes as a Christmas gift (i.e. going to The Nutcracker ballet)?

Just so that people don't think I am crazy and alone in my thought of giving less for the holidays...I would like to share this blog post that I came across.  In it Heather has some fantastic ideas for gifts.

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Candy Corn Sugar Cookie Bars

Candy Corn Sugar Cookie Bars

Inspired by a classic Halloween confection, these quick-to-fix sugar cookie bars are sure to impress.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Pulled Pork with Cheesy...

My kids and husband would love this...pork is a favorite. And who doesn't love having dinner ready when you come home...thank you slow cooker.

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Pulled Pork with Cheesy...

Ease into fall flavors with a comforting pork dinner, made in your slow cooker.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Enjoy Life....Indeed

There has been a huge lifestyle change at my house.

We've gone from lazy days of summer to the more regimented days of school.

They all went off to their first day with a smile on their face and so many stories to tell when they returned home.

Along with the joy of school comes the task of lunches.  My kids don't have a cafeteria and thus have to brown bag their lunches...which I love but then I also have to constantly be thinking of nutritious and delicious foods.

I was given a wonderful surprise when Enjoy Life Foods contacted me and asked if I would like a sampling of their crunchy cookies.

I gladly accepted their offer and was so stunned when I opened up their package to reveal this

We received all four varieties:

Sugar Crisp
Vanilla Honey Graham
Double Chocolate
Chocolate Chip

The great thing about Enjoy Life is that their cookies are gluten free, nut free, and soy free.

Did you know that not only can you enjoy the cookies straight out of the package but there have been numerous recipes developed USING the cookies in them.  To see some of the delights please click here (my favorite is the double stuffed sugar cookies).

When my kids hear "gluten free" they often think the product will be lacking flavor...but I assure you they had no idea that the gluten was lacking in these products.

They happily gobbled up the samples and gave 6 thumbs up (2 for each child of course).

They are now begging me to break into the bigger boxes of cookies.  Won't they be so excited when they find a cookie in their lunches!  They will indeed be going back to school in style.

Thank you Enjoy Life for giving me the opportunity to sample and review your cookies...they are a treat above the rest.

Have you tried any gluten free foods?  Did you enjoy them?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter and The Happiness Project

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.

I started it off with the Color Me Rad 5k that I ran with my oldest son...we got a little messy as you can see:

On Sunday it was a beautiful day here and was complete with all sorts of happy fun including an Easter Egg hunt:

 It was hard work finding all of those eggs

Speaking of I wanted to share with you a book I just completed:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I happened upon it when I was visiting one of my local thrift stores, and thought for $2 it might well be worth a try (generally I go for the library first before investing...but I decided to indulge).

The book is a memoir chronicling the year long journey of the author to see if she can make herself a happier person.  Each month she dedicates herself to a resolution(s), while keeping her previous months resolutions (so they snowball on top of each other).

I'm going to go ahead and get my negative comments out of the way first so that I can end the review on a positive note.

I found the author to be very critical and pessimistic throughout the book, and I often wondered how in the world her family stands her with all of her complaining and nagging...but then I thought "Hey maybe she really did need to cultivate some happiness in her life."

I gleaned some useful information, I promise this will not spoil the book for you should you choose to check it out yourself:

1) Give a hug for at least 6 seconds (it maximizes the of release serotonin and oxytocin)
2) Smile, everyone benefits from this as it can help make you feel happier
3) Indulge in things that bring you joy (doesn't have to be a purchase it could be finding time to sit down and read)
4) Remember that the years are short (particularly poignant for those of us with children)

I did enjoy that each month/chapter was devoted to a different means to reach happiness and included more in-depth research for each topic (i.e. "can money buy you happiness?").  Reading about each month's explorations let you take a peak into how much work she did each month and how successful she was in keeping her monthly resolutions.

Overall I wouldn't recommend purchasing the book, but definitely think it is worth stopping by your local library to read.

I have adopted some of her suggestions such as the 6 second hug and I am reading more, because that really does bring me a great amount of pleasure.

So one of my goals this year is to read 52 books, which I am keeping up with on Goodreads, but do you have any suggestions of books you think are worth a gander?  I would love to hear them.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Delicious Squash Bread

I promised on Thursday that I would have a recipe on Friday...well I am a little late, but here it is.

From our local CSA we've been getting butternut squash.

My kids won't touch the stuff, so I needed to devise a way to use it up and get them to consume it.

Enter squash bread, and in my book way better than pumpkin.

1 C butternut squash roasted and squished (technical term)
2 ener-G egg replacers
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 C water
1 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 3/4 C all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I used kosher)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom

Mix all of this together and pour into a greased bread pan.  I topped with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar to give it a little crunch (plus who doesn't like fat sugar crystals).

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

I promise you will not be sorry and you will only have to worry about sitting down and consuming the entire loaf.

Enjoy and Happy Monday to you all!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Little Children, Big Challengers

I have a soft spot for Sesame Street probably because I can fondly remember watching it on Saturday mornings.

I just wanted to share with you all a new project that Sesame Street is putting out.

Helping Little Children Face Big Challenges
Sesame Street teams up with Committee for Children to help kids overcome odds
New York – “Providing your love and support is the most important step in helping children develop the confidence to overcome anything they face,” reads the Little Children, Big Challenges page of nonprofit Committee for Children’s website. Sesame Workshop, creators of the iconic Sesame Street TV show, asked the Seattle-based nonprofit to collaborate in the dissemination of materials that will help young children and their adult caregivers face challenging situations like divorce and incarceration, as well as addressing general resilience.
The Little Children, Big Challenges initiative comes in the form of toolkits containing resources for parents and caregivers of children ages 2–5. The toolkits, which are available online for free, feature videos and songs from favorite Sesame Streetcharacters downloadable tips and guides for parents and educators, and also include free mobile apps on the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon.
Committee for Children’s Mia Doces has been collaborating with Sesame Workshop on their social-emotional learning and anti-bullying content for several years. Says Doces, “We are proud to extend our ongoing work with the Sesame Workshop by making these high-quality materials available to our community of teachers and families. The ways in which the Workshop gathers top experts to create these research-based, engaging and practical materials are so directly aligned with the work we do here at Committee for Children.”
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to help all children reach their highest potential,” said Lynn Chwatsky, Vice President for Community and Family Engagement at Sesame Workshop. “We can’t do this work without the help of partners like Committee for Children, who have an established reputation for providing social-emotional learning resources to educators and caregivers. Through this partnership, we will empower even more young children and the adults in their lives with tools that can help build resilience skills to cope with changes such as divorce, incarceration, and everyday challenges.”

# # #
About Committee for Children
Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children’s research-based educational programs, including the award-winning Second Step program, teach social-emotional skills to prevent bullying, violence, and abuse and improve academics. Their curricula are used in over 25,000 schools across the United States and around the world. To learn more, go to

Hello Friends

Well I took a little time off from blogging...since June of last year to be exact.

I needed some time to recharge and get back my blogging mojo.

So I've done a bunch of baking and reading books.

I have got some delicious foods that I want to share with you all, starting tomorrow with butternut squash bread (think pumpkin bread but WAY better).

I've checked out a whole slew of books from the library that I kept telling myself "One day I will read that"...well that day came and here are two of my favorites:

A very moving book (yes I cried a couple of times) and is definitely one to share with meat eaters.  He provides some pretty vivid details on animals and their treatment which really should get people thinking about whether the meat they are buying in the store really is worth the pain and suffering of the animal.

I had to lighten up and so decided next up was a fun, quick read, about ways to conserve resources and to think twice before you make a purchase.  Jeff has been featured on TLC's Extreme Cheapskates (which is a mostly contrived show about ways people freakishly try to save a dime).  The book is full of some very practical ways to trim your budget and to help save some dough so that you can actually have a retirement and not have to work until the day you die.

Well that is about it for right now.  I will get back in the blogging groove the more I do it again, kind of like riding a bike.

I have recipes galore to share, both sweet and savory (and not all vegan).

For now I am going catch up with my favorite blogs, and hey maybe you can check them out too:

Bit of the Good Stuff

The Wanderblogger

Feeding Five

What I Love

Bonzai Aphrodite

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gluten Free Red Velvet Pancakes

Gluten Free Red Velvet Pancakes

Try these Gluten Free Red Velvet Pancakes for a sweet surprise for your gluten-free Valentine! They're dairy-free, too! Go ahead... indulge ! Author: Gluten Free Gigi Recipe type: Breakfast This recipe is free from: gluten, dairy/casein, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, and corn (if you use a corn-free flour blend and my grain-free baking powder ). Ingredients For the pancakes 1 ½ cups  Gigi’s Everyday Gluten-Free Flour Blend (Gum-Free) 2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar (or light brown sugar) 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 3 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 1 egg, beaten ¾ cup dairy-free milk PLUS ½ Tablespoon white vinegar (or buttermilk, if...Read More

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Quick Breakfast for Busy Mornings

Quick Breakfast for Busy Mornings

I rarely get to eat at home and if I make it to work in less than an hour, I'll grab a donut or pastry. Probably not the healthiest so I was determined to find a better solution.

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Secret Pomegranate Seeding Trick! How to Seed a...

Secret Pomegranate Seeding Trick! How to Seed a...

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