Friday, August 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls (Gluten Free)

When you need a little pick m up during the day a Lara bar is a great option. But the price tag on those babies is a bit ridiculous. I read the ingredient list from my favorite Lara bar, and set out to recreate a Lara bar. As I was working my mixture  decided to make balls instead. They seem to form better, and are easier to eat too. Like most of my snacks, these can be eaten as a snack, or dessert. They are that good.

You will need:
1 1/2 c. cashews, unsalted
1 c. pitted dates
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbs. mini chocolate chips
1 tbs. raw cocoa butter

Pulse cashews in food processor until they are tiny pieces. They should look like this.
Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. You may have to scrape the mixture down and pulse again until you see it coming together. Your mixture should look like this.

That's it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chocolate Macaroons

I have had a small obsession with macaroons lately. I have been buying the Hail Merry Macaroons at the grocery store, oh yes, so... good. Anyway, they are over $3 for a little tiny bag, not feasible. So I thought, okay, I can make these.  I played around with their ingredient list and came up with a slightly altered variation. Here is the finished product. They are delicious.  Enjoy!

You will need:
1. c. shredded coconut, unsweetened
6 Tbs. pecan meal
1/4 c. coconut oil
5 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
1/2 Tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. raw agave nectar

Pulse the shredded coconut in your food processor to break it up. Once the pieces are quite small, add the remaining ingredients and pulse together until thoroughly blended. Use a small cookie scoop, or just roll into small balls, and place in a parchment lined container. Place in the fridge to set. Store in fridge of freezer for easy snacking.

Monday, August 26, 2013

People Watching

Do you ever people watch? This sounds a little ridiculous, but it is actually enjoyable. Over our vacation a few weeks ago I found myself people watching. It is interesting to me to see how people interact with one another, and how people act in general. I saw all kinds of people. Some who appeared to generally enjoy life, and their surroundings, and some others who appeared to be off in a different world. A world far away from reality and manners. While I strive to be a non-judgmental person, sometimes that gets the better of me. Some times I just want to say:

Get Off The Flipping Phone Please!!!

I mean really? I understand the convenience of having the internet on your cell phone, but upload your pictures to Facebook when you get home. You are missing the special moment of your kid at the beach. The one who's picture you just took because they are so stinking cute you just have to share it to your closest 400 Facebook friends, all the while he/she is still doing something cute and you have once again tuned out into Facebook world to show everyone how much fun you are having, but really you are still on Facebook, but you are at the beach too.

Pay Attention to Your Screaming Child!

It seems as though more and more lately I come across parents who are oblivious to their child who is having a full on tantrum right in front of them. The parent is either on the phone, again, just meandering along as if nothing is happening. Don't get me wrong. My children are expert tantrum throwers. I have been there. It is how you choose to handle the situation that will help sooth the child. If your child throws a tantrum in the middle of a crowded amusement park, guess what? They have to miss out on a bit of fun, and so do you Mom and Dad. Being a parent is though work, but you have to push through.  Your child is trying to tell you something. He is overtired and ready to sleep. It is okay to have a light schedule when your kiddos are little. They need a lot of rest.

Say Excuse Me When You Deliberately Walk in Front Of Me!

This happens everywhere. When I am grocery shopping and I am just about to reach for an item on the shelf, someone comes along and walks right in front of me. I get that grocery stores can been very busy, but hey. I am busy too, and I didn't walk in front of you without saying those two precious little words. "Excuse me." That's it. That is all you need to say. The other day I took my mother to the doctor and to the pharmacy to pick up her meds. I'm not sure if I was wearing some sign that was invisible to me, but quite bold to everyone else, but it must have said something like "Please cut me off in this line, I enjoy standing here." Ha. I mean seriously, I was cut in front of by three people. I would never cut in front of someone. Didn't we all learn this in grade school?

Okay, okay, so enough ranting. I guess that was buried deep inside me and was just screaming to come out. I have been noticing these things about people in public settings and just never voice how I feel about it. Really, where would I voice it? I am certainly not going to cause a public scene and tell the lady with a screaming child at her side, who is also texting who knows who, while she cuts me off in the store. The Kayla ten years ago maybe, but not this Kayla. Ho Hum.

 Do you ever feel like you just have to say something that bothers you?

Friday, August 23, 2013

DIY Ceramic Mug Personalizing

My kids and I put this little project to the test the other day in preparation for my sister's birthday. It came out fabulous.  I went to Joann's and purchased oil based sharpie paint pens. This is important. If you use a regular sharpie marker the design will not stay intact.  I found these white ceramic mugs at Home Goods, and went to it. This was such a fun project and the kids had a blast doing it. They took turns decorating their side of the mug.  Once the decorating was done I placed the mugs in a cold oven at 350 for 40 minutes. That's it. All done. I am thinking we will do this again toward the holidays for some family gifts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back To School

Summer is almost over, and the kids will be back to school before you know it. Mid August is usually the time when we start back to school shopping, and  planning for lunches, snacks, and supplies. 

Our school hands out a supplies list that we need to fulfill before the first official day. When we were kids the supplies were always provided by the school, but in recent years there have been so many school budget cuts, that it is necessary for parents to step in and help. Before shopping for supplies, make sure to scan the local store circulars for deals. Often times you can score notebooks for as little as a penny, when you are purchasing other items at the same time. You can't rally beat a penny. Be sure to clip coupons to pair with the already great back to school deals.

Minimize the stress and rushing around by creating a routine. Be sure to start your bedtime routine early enough so that the last thing to do on the list ends at the expected bed time.  On the other end, make sure your child wakes early enough to follow his/her morning routine. Rushing causes added stress, which is no way to start the day.  Happy 2013/14 school year!

Set a schedule, and stick to it.

Our Bedtime Routine is as follows:

Our Morning Routine is as follows:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Crunchy Oats and Honey Bars, GF

I made these bars the other night, and they came out so good. They are the perfect amount of sweet and crunchy. Sometimes I just crave a little crunch. These bars are perfect for an afternoon snack. They also make a nice addition to school lunches. Enjoy.

You will need:
1 1/2 c. gluten free oats
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
3 Tbs. ground flax
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/3 c. raw honey
white chocolate chips, optional

Mix oats, walnuts and flax in a bowl. Over medium heat melt coconut oil and honey together, Combine all ingredients. Press into parchment lined 8X8 baking dish. You can press chocolate chips into the top if you choose. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until browned. Cut into bars while still warm, then store in the fridge to harden.

Friday, August 16, 2013

School Lunch Supplies

Since we are finishing out the last weeks of Summer before school starts I thought I would share a few of my favorite lunch packing supplies out there. I am a huge fan of stainless steel verses plastic containers. Some of my faithful readers know my love of stainless, as I have mentioned it many times before. Although stainless steel is heavier for the little ones to carry, it is proven much safer than plastic.

I buy Safe Sporter cups for water for my boys. I haven't seen them in the department stores, but you can find them on
For lunchboxes I LOVE the Planet box. See my original post here. These are well worth the initial investment, trust me.

For baggies, and other food storage I use ItzyRitzy, and To go Ware.
Visit ItzyRitzy here.
Visit To Go Ware here.

If you haven't already, I challenge you to pack a trash free lunch every day this year.  This challenge can be for your entire family, not just the kids.  Mom and Dad need lunches packed for their work day too. I put the stop on plastic baggies a while ago, and am saving money by using these products. Do you have a favorite reusable lunch product? I would love to hear about it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pirate Party Part 2

As promised, I have the final pictures from my son's pirate birthday party. Here is the fun part.

Every Pirate party needs a treasure hunt right? My husband created a cute little treasure map of our yard that the kids could easily follow. They all worked together to read the map, and find the hidden treasure. It was so cute. Their little faces were priceless.  Keeping the map simple was definitely key.

And here you have the hidden treasure. This picture was taken well before the treasure was actually hidden outside. I knew once the kids found it, there would be no hope of snapping a picture before it was demolished. We found an old tool box, and simply added some gold duct tape that I found at Joann's for $2.99. I filled the treasure chest with the party favor bags that I had ready for each child who attended. This is where RSVPs; really do come in handy. I did have a couple extra bags in case we ended up with an extra child. That usually happens when a sibling tags along. 

The party bags are filled with dollar store party favors, Annie's fruit snacks, and an organic lollipop. My son really wanted a piƱata, so this was our form of one. I just feel like kids do not need a load of candy to take home with them after they have already gorged on cake and ice cream. I added some plastic gold necklaces, and coins to the treasure and called it good. I must say, it came out great.

The party was a blast. My main goal is to provide a fun, safe party for my children and their friends. This party met my goal, and provided memories that will not be forgotten.  They are only little for so long. :( When my son is an adult I hope he remembers at least a few of his childhood birthday parties, and appreciate his childhood, and his parents. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homemade Organic Lemonade

 My family and I enjoyed some lovely weather over our vacation. We spent a lot of our time at the beach, and we also went on several day trips. There is something so peaceful about our Maine beaches. The view is breathtaking. It does feel good to be back into the swing of things. We are down to two weeks before school starts back up so I am focusing on enjoying the last couple weeks of summer with my boys.

Last week I made this amazing lemonade. It was a huge hit. My husband and kids couldn't get enough. There have been many requests since, for me to make it again. I guess I had better get on that. If you have never made your own lemonade before, give this recipe a try. It is simple, organic and delicious.

You will need:
8 organic lemons, squeezed
4 cups cold water
1 sliced lemon for garnish
ice cubes
simple syrup, see recipe below

Make simple syrup and refrigerate at least one hour before using.

In a pitcher, combine freshly squeezed lemon juice and cold simple syrup.  Add cold water, lemon slices and ice cubes. Stir until well blended. Add more water to suit your personal taste. My family prefers their lemonade sweet, where as I prefer mine more diluted. I just add water to my own glass. Do what works for you.  Enjoy!

Simple Syrup
1 c. organic granulated sugar
1 c. water

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, and let cool. Store in refrigerator.