Monthly Archives: April 2014

Granola – Wonderful Breakfast & Great Snack

Granola!
Granola!

Wonderful Breakfast & Great Snack
At least that’s the way it goes at my house and it never seems to last very long!

My family can’t seem to get enough of all the goodness granola has to offer and the expensive single pound bags at the grocery store, although delicious, were not cutting it. We needed larger quantities at a lower cost!

Making granola is very easy. Think about what ingredients  you enjoy in granola, put it together with some oil and a sweetener (Not necessary, but oh so good!). Lightly toast at a low temperature and voila – Granola!

Here is my recipe!

Granola Recipe
5 cups oatmeal
1 ½ cups coconut (I use unsweetened coconut chips when I can!)
¾ cups chopped pecans
¾ cups chopped almonds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup oat bran
½ cup honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Granola Ingredients
Granola Ingredients

Mix the oatmeal, coconut, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds and oat bran in a large bowl.

Add vanilla to the oil/sweetener mixture!
Add vanilla to the oil/sweetener mixture!

To a small saucepan add the coconut oil and sweetener (honey or maple syrup). Let the mixture come to a simmer, remove from heat and add the vanilla.

Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix well. Distribute the oatmeal mixture evenly in two jelly roll pans.

Granola mixture is ready for toasting!
Granola mixture is ready for toasting!

Place in the oven and stir well after 10 minutes and every 5 minutes after that until it starts to get to a nice golden brown. It usually takes about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool and add the raisins or dried cranberries or both! Store in an airtight container. Ours usually lasts for about a week, but it should be good for several. Enjoy!

I love to eat granola, but honestly it has a lot of calories.  My favorite way to eat the granola is to mix unsweetened greek yogurt with blueberries.  If you like, sweeten it a bit with honey or maple syrup – I like it!  I will then top that mixture with 1/3 cup of granola! Delicious and not so many calories!

Granola!
Granola!

 

Carrot Cupcake Decoration

Carrot Cake Cupcake
Carrot Cake Cupcake

Need a quick decoration for your Easter cupcakes or carrot cake? Look no further – this is a super quick and super easy garnish. Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler.  Once melted, separate into two bowls and stir in food coloring.  I used liquid food coloring and it worked fine, but Wilton’s icing color is better because it is concentrated.  The potential problem with adding the liquid to the chocolate is that the chocolate can begin to seize.  Mine worked with the green, but the orange began to seize because of the extra drops required.  Adding a solid shortening helps the chocolate to remain smooth.  I chose to use coconut oil because it is healthier!  It is awesome stuff!

White Chocolate Carrots
White Chocolate Carrots
Carrot Cake Cupcake
Carrot Cake Cupcake

Once your colors are ready, load up your pastry bags and have some fun.  I used a small round tip for the orange and a small leaf tip for the green!  Let them harden and add them to your fabulous dessert!

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Eggs
Easter Eggs

One day while brainstorming gifts for college students, my daughter and her friend suggested an egg hunt as an idea.  This year, that’s exactly what I did – sent an Easter Egg Hunt to college students!  No- they are not too old!

Because there are 4 girls in the apartment, I had to decide how to accomplish this task.  Who hides the eggs?  Who finds them?  It needed to be quick and easy, so as to not take too much time from studying!

Bags of Eggs
Bags of Eggs

My solution was to place 10 filled eggs in 4 paper bags.  Each bag contained eggs of just one color.  The girls could then select a bag of eggs and hide them from the others.  The hunt begins with the four of them hunting for eggs of all colors, but their own!

Because I can never do anything the easy way – that’s just who I am!  I needed to come up with creative fillings for my eggs!  Candy alone was not going to cut it.   Since they are college students, I thought something inspirational would be great.  Something to inspire them to work hard.

Easter eggs, bags & quotes
Easter eggs, bags & quotes

While searching for fun quotes I came across some great ones from television shows.  I finally decided to use Phil’s-osophy from Modern Family! For those of you who don’t watch the show – Phil, a father of a college student on the show, makes a book of his philosophys.  The quotes are hilarious with just enough stupid and a little bit of inspiration all wrapped in one funny quote!

Suggestions for fun egg fillings:   Favorite Candies…Gum… Money – always a favorite…Post it Note study accessories – there are tons of study accessories, small post it notes, tags for flagging pages.  Check out the Post it Note site.  They have fun stuff that encourages studying!…Nail Polish…Short socks – find fun, crazy colors!…Fun messages of encouragement from YOU!…Inspirational Quotes – from television shows, Dr. Seuss, check the web and you will find an endless supply!

Some of these items are a bit large and may require a larger egg!

After packing my bags of eggs in the shipping box, I enclosed a Happy Easter Card with a poem of Happy Egg Hunting directions – check out the picture!

Final update:  The girls had a great time with the egg hunt.  It was quick and easy and didn’t take too much time from their studies!  They especially enjoyed the words of wisdom from Phil’s-osophy!  One thing they changed, was that each roommate picked only one color egg to find.  It sounds like that was the way to go.  It provided them an opportunity to laugh at each other as they struggled to find their final egg!

Chalkboards for Decoration

 

Chalk Boards
Chalk Boards

Chalkboards

I love chalkboards.  Why?  I don’t know?  I just do!  Maybe it’s because they can be easily erased.  I am not a great artist, but I love creating things.  Chalk is a great way to expand your horizons and quickly wipe away anything you find to be less than beautiful!

When we moved into our new home, I wanted to create a fun space for my children and their friends to hang out.  My kids were new in their school and it was one thing I could do for them so they would be comfortable having friends over.  Well, it paid off.  Prom parties, sleepovers, PS3 parties, game night, we have had them all and lots of them.  This was one time when my plotting worked!  If only all my plans worked out so well!

To create a fun basement space for the kids meant I needed to decorate!  With all the homes I have moved to, I have learned that the cheapest decoration is paint.  Paint is wonderful because it is inexpensive and easy to get rid of.  When the kids out grow the flowers stenciled on their walls from when they were 5 – paint over it.

Another thing I learned with all the moves – always keep extra base wall paint and label it.  In a paint can, all yellows look alike!

Chalkboards were an easy and kid interactive decoration that was painless to accomplish.  Since my wall was so large and one chalkboard seemed too boring, I decided to create 3 of them, each with a distinctive border.  To accomplish this I first drew on paper what I wanted the chalkboard combination to look like.  Then I measured out my wall and planned out the sizes.  Using a yard stick and a large level, I drew out everything.  As you can see in the picture, some of the boarders were done free hand, but it’s easy enough.  Just make sure you have a big eraser and keep drawing until you get it just right!

Next, I taped off all the chalkboards and rolled the paint on.  As you can see from the pictures, I used a small foam roller.  They are quick and easy and perfect for a small job like this.  You will need to put on multiple layers of paint so follow the directions on your paint can.

Chalk Board Border
Chalk Board Border

Once the boards are painted you will want to let the paint dry completely.  I would wait at least a day before covering the chalk paint with painters tape for the borders.  The last thing you want is for the paint to lift off when you remove the tape.

The most difficult boarder was the checkerboard.  I taped off the chalkboard, then using a wide painters paint I taped off every other square.  With the checkerboard you want to make sure you have a full square on each corner.  Mark it off ahead of time and if you need to, make your squares in between the ends a little smaller or a little larger.  As long as the discrepancy between sizes is not too great, no one will notice. Again, once all the blocks of one color was painted, I waited for the paint to completely dry before taping the other squares.  If you are very proficient you can do the squares free hand.  I am not that proficient.  Tape is my friend!

The other boarders were easy enough.  I taped off what I could and free handed the rest.  Ok – I’m a little proficient!

After everything was painted, I did some shading on the boarders and edged everything with black paint pens.  Shading gave the boarders dimension and I highly recommend it.  Don’t be intimidated by this.  Imagine the sun is shining on your project and lighten the areas the sun would light up or darken the areas that would be shaded.  Try it!  You will be glad you did!

The last thing to do with chalkboards is to condition them.  To do this, rub chalk over the entire chalkboard and erase it.  You are now ready to create chalkboard art!

I linked up to iheartnaptime!
I linked up to iheartnaptime!

OOPS! – Don’t forget to use a drop cloth and painter’s tape!

Party in a Box Gift

Party in a box gift
Party in a box gift

Graduation Party Box Gift

When just a gift is not enough!

Years ago a niece was graduating from high school and I felt bad that we were unable to attend her celebration.  Wanting to do something special for her; to send her more than just a gift; I came up with the party in a box.  Inside the party box was a mini celebration that began as soon as the package was unwrapped.  It was so well received that I replicated the same idea for a group of my daughters close friends when they graduated from high school.

What you need for a Mini-Party Box

Balloons and Streamers- This made the filling for my package.  After lining my box with tissue paper, I used curling ribbon for streamers.  The curling ribbon works well since it will remain in excellent twirled form even after bouncing around the mail truck!
I also added small blown up balloons.  Because I didn’t fill the balloons with too much air they were unlikely to pop and made for a festive package filling!

 Gifts-  Wrap your gifts or cards and include them in the box.  I usually send cards with money for graduations and the party box makes getting a card all the more special!

 A banner-  Every congratulatory party needs a banner and the party box is no exception.  I taped together long narrow strips of colored paper.  After writing out Congratulations, I used my favorite scrap-booking accessory and punched out colored circles for each girl’s name.  I than rolled it, tied it up with curling ribbon and placed it in the box along with the gifts.

 Cake-  Since sending a cake was not an option, I sent this wonderful box of chocolate Lindt Petits Desserts.  It was perfect!  They looked like petit fours and are quite delicious!  You can locate them by checking the Lindt website.
There are lots of wonderful options available!

 Guests  Lastly, every party has to have guests.  So I created a tri-fold, stand on it’s own, guest card made with cardstock and filled with pictures of my family.  I even included a picture of the dog! I folded it up, labeled the outside and tied it with ribbon.

 

Party in a box gift
Party in a box gift

The party box idea can be used for any celebrations.  Send me ideas on how you have used the Party in a Box idea for your out-of-reach celebrations!

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