Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Treats for Neighbors - A Holiday Tradition

 For the last few years, the kids and I have been making plates of treats for our neighbors to hand out during the holidays. Some years this would be much more involved, including multiple types of cookies and homemade candies. This year I decided to make it a lot easier on myself and stick to just chocolate chip cookies. Generally we hand out treats later in December, but I thought it would be nice to kill two birds with one stone and drop off Christmas cards for everyone as we make our deliveries.  It seems silly to put cards in the mail for our neighbors anyway!
I have been ordering Christmas cards through Tiny Prints for the last few years. They offered a blog partnership this year and I was of course all in. I would have purchased my cards from them anyway. There is an amazing selection of beautiful card options and it is so easy to customize them for your family. The hardest part is deciding which template to go with because they are all so pretty. It always takes me forever.
Today Pearl and Axel decided they wanted to make the first batch of cookies for our neighbors all by themselves. I did end up cracking the eggs and they let baby Flo dump in the chocolate chips. We had to sweep up some chocolate from the floor, but Flora was delighted to help. Tomorrow we will make our deliveries!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Outer Space Birthday Party For Pearl

Just in case you're wondering, the kids are still having their birthdays every year. Ha! Life is much busier now though and I don't always opt for crafty parties anymore. Axel wanted a Mario Bros theme for his third birthday and he was absolutely thrilled with the store bought decorations and cake we purchased for that event. You can check Instagram if you want to see a cute photo of him dressed as Mario.
I still occasionally find the time and creative energy to do a little party crafting. Pearl turned 5 at the end of September and chose an outer space theme for her party. I already had so many items from past projects that we could re-use and I generally prefer to do that than buy something new. I definitely cut corners by buying store bought cupcakes and had plenty of friends and family to help out with food.
My friend Sarah owns a bakery and made cute cookies inspired by a photo my mom found on Pinterest. I bought cupcakes at Safeway and decorated them with pretty sprinkles because Pearl thinks sprinkles are the most amazing thing ever.
I have a bunch of cheap paper lanterns that have been used for quite a few parties since Pearl was born (including her first birthday where they were made into hot air balloons). This year the lanterns were planets! I just added some cardboard rings around a couple of them.
My sister-in-law made the cutest fruit tray to fit the theme.
The kids and I worked on a construction paper star garland and I made a couple moons out of cardboard, gold paint, and black chalk markers.
I mostly just decorated the area around the dining room table, but added in a few details in different areas around the living room space.
I only spent around $5 on decor and about three hours putting things together. Doing all store bought decorations is nice sometimes, but it feels pretty good when I can save some money and do a little crafting too. The kids really don't care either way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Healthy and Easy Granola Bar Recipe

 The current political climate is really stressing me out. Two things that help me with stress relief are working out and baking. The thought of a Donald Trump presidency has recently given me visible arm muscles, increased my running speed, and has brought you this granola bar recipe.
Some mornings it feels really impossible to get all of the kids ready, out the door, and arrive at Pearl's pre-school on time. Granola bars are perfect for a quick on-the-go breakfast to help speed up the morning process. I have had a difficult time finding store bought ones though that are both healthy and don't cost a fortune. I set out one week to find a recipe that would fit this criteria to make our mornings less stressful. I couldn't find a single recipe that involved an amount of sugar that I was comfortable with so I decided to make my own. The first batch turned out decently, but with a few more rounds and modifications under my belt, I have finally come up with a healthy recipe that my kids like. It's also super easy!
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds (or other nuts)
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1 ripe banana (mashed)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
Put rolled oats, almonds, and flaxseed meal in a large bowl and set aside. Line an 8x8 square baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
Bring mashed banana and honey to a boil in a sauce pan over med-high heat. Let it boil for just one minute. Quickly remove from the heat, add peanut butter and vanilla, then stir until combined.
Pour the contents of the sauce pan into the large bowl of oats and other ingredients. Mix until well combined. Add your chocolate chips if using and mix them in as well. Pour this mixture into the lined 8x8 dish. Press it all down firmly and evenly into your dish. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top and press down once more. Put the dish in the freezer for a couple of hours, then cut to your preferred size and enjoy!
This granola bar recipe is gluten free and can be easily modified to work for our vegan friends. You just need to substitute maple syrup for the honey. If you don't have sliced almonds or other nuts, just increase your oats to 4 cups and they will still turn out great. I have used both natural organic peanut butter as well as Skippy and both worked just fine. I'm sure most nut butters would work here if you need to replace peanut butter for something else. I store mine in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Here's to stress free mornings and stress reducing hobbies as well :)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Goat Rocks Wilderness Backpacking Trip

Hi friends! I didn't fully disappear. Just mostly, ha. I have life under control well enough with three kids now that I could find the time to regularly start blogging again. But I'm struggling. I don't see as much of a point anymore in sharing the types of things I used to share.  As my eyes and ears have opened, social injustice is weighing heavily on my heart.  I see and feel my privilege, know I need to do more, and I'm trying to find my voice. This space isn't really set up well for that, and I honestly don't have a strong desire to post family updates, parties, and the cute little things that I used to share. 
My family is great. The kids are growing into wonderful little humans with distinct and hilarious personalities. We are still doing fun activities, still having parties, and I will try to occasionally pop in and post some of those things here. I think I will look back and regret not having those written records if I don't. So expect to see me around here just a bit more than I have been.
Today I wanted to share photos that Jeremy and I took while on a short kids-free backpacking trip in the Goat Rocks Wilderness.  It was my first time backpacking and I really loved it.  The only thing that made me nervous pretty much the whole time was not having cell reception while the kids were three hours away with their grandparents. It was a wonderful adventure though. 
We packed in on day one and found the perfect camping spot along the Lily Basin trail with beautiful views and our own private spring.  On our second day, we went exploring along the Pacific Crest Trail, did some trail running, and had lunch on the summit of Old Snowy Mountain. The weather was perfect on the first two days and on the third we packed out in the rain.  The packing out experience was a different kind of fun.  The kind where you are soaked and don't think to stop and take photos, ha.  I would totally recommend checking this area out. It was a comfortable hike for a first timer like me and the landscape was incredible.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Garden Radish Free Printable

Sometimes I eventually give up on things because I don't have the time to work on them.  This is one of those projects.  Once upon a time, I had grand plans of creating a series of fun garden related prints to sell in my Etsy shop.  I have all kinds of cute sayings and illustration ideas, but just no time to execute them.  I'm quite positive this idea will never make it high enough on my priority list to actually happen, but I did make the first print.  Two years ago.  And I did nothing with it.  I still like it a lot and finally got around to putting one up on my own wall last week.  I figured I may as well share my rad-ish printable with you all for free instead of doing nothing with it, ever.  Enjoy!
Let me know if you use it.  I would love to see a photo of it in your space!
And, just because I love radishes...here is past post on some of my favorite radish recipes.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flora's Floral First Birthday

 Flora's birthday party was two months ago, but I find it increasingly difficult to carve out blogging time these days. I figured posting her party super late is better than never posting about it at all. I was planning on keeping it pretty low key and had no intention of creating a theme until I felt a wave of creative energy come over me about a week before her birthday. So a theme party did end up happening, but I really didn't go overboard this time. We went with the most literal theme ever, a floral party for Flora! Since I have thrown many birthday parties and baby showers at this point, I had a whole lot of party crafts already done that I could use. I kind of hoard that stuff.
The only decoration that I purchased that wasn't already in my craft closet was this awesome Martha Stewart tissue flower kit. Those flowers were so fun to put together. Seriously, all the fun of crafting without the lame tedious work of cutting everything out first. The flowers are so pretty that I still have them up in our living room.
We have amazing family members who offered to bring food so it ended up being a potluck style party. All of the food I provided were pre-made snacks from Trader Joe's so I didn't have to cook anything. I also grabbed a couple of cheap bouquets to put on the table while I was there. In the past, I have baked cakes for my kids parties, but I decided not to spend the time on it this year. My friend Sarah owns a bakery and makes delicious treats so we had her make cupcakes and a little cake for Flo. My mom even picked it all up and brought it to our house.  Easiest party ever!
Flora had a great time at her party and I think the rest of our family did too. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful, supportive people in our lives who love our kids so much.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

1 Year Old!

Flora is one year old!
This year with baby Flo has just been a joy. She is so happy and full of personality. We all love her so much. It immediately felt like she has always been here with us. Before she was born, I worried about how she would fit in with Pearl and Axel already having such a tight bond. I worried about how stressful three kids would be and wondered how Axel would handle not being the baby anymore. So much time spent worrying when she immediately seemed to know how to navigate this family and find her place in it.
We invited relatives over to celebrate her birthday last weekend. She enjoyed opening her presents and destroying her cake. She had very minimal interest in eating the cake, but after some time poking at it, eventually started to tear it apart.
Flora plays with her siblings like a big kid, climbs as many pieces of furniture as her body will let her, and manages to get into just about everything that she isn't supposed to. She does it all with the cutest little grin and I have a hard time stopping her from doing things she shouldn't because of it. She loves food, but still wants to nurse a lot more than her siblings did at this age. I have been trying to get her to cut back on the nursing a bit for multiple reasons, but mostly I just want her to start sleeping through the night. Flo still seems to think she needs milk every 3-4 hours no matter how much I feed her during the day.
Baby girl is getting more independent and has fun with other people when I need to be away for work, but is always very happy to be with me. She says "mama" at least 100 times a day and follows me around the house most of the time. When she isn't following me, I can pretty much be sure that she is either climbing something or found herself a container of wipes or toilet paper to take off of the roll. Thankfully, Pearl is generally on the case if Jeremy and I are not on top of the situation. Flora has started giving unprompted kisses lately which totally melts me. The other night she climbed on top of Axel in his bed and gave him a goodnight kiss. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed. It makes me smile even now just thinking about it.
I'm a little bit sad that the baby chapter is coming to a close in our household, but I couldn't imagine a better experience for my last year of parenting a baby. I just love this little girl and it's a privilege being her mama.