He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

22 July 2013

Our Granola Recipe

Maybe this should be titled "THE Granola Recipe".
Yup. It's that good.
I'm sharing this because I've been asked for it a few times since Baby Sister's wedding.
That's because we made enough of it for 150 people as favors for the wedding so the goodness was shared with some of our favorite people.
The great thing about granola is that it can be played with and you'll still get great results so I'll share my most used recipe with the encouragement that you play around using things you like...

"THE Granola Recipe"
(start to finish: 30 minutes or so :  yield: about 12 cups, 3 - qt mason jars)

6 cups of rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 c sliced almonds, raw
1.5 c sunflower seeds, shelled and raw
2/3 c coconut oil
1 c pure maple syrup
2 c raisins (optional)

Set the oven to 325.
In a large mixing bowl, mix oats, coconut, almonds, and seeds. Set aside. 
In a medium saucepan over medium/low heat,  melt coconut oil and maple syrup until they are well mixed. This will not take long since coconut oil's melting point is so low, maybe 2-3 minutes. 
Pour melted oil and syrup over dry ingredients and stir until all is well coated. 
Pour enough of the mixture onto a baking sheet so that you have a thin layer of granola and are able to stir it around without spilling everywhere. 
Place into oven and bake for 5 minutes at a time, stirring after every 5, until the granola is a nice golden brown. Between 15-20 minutes per batch. (The mixture will not likely feel crunchy while still hot. The crunch comes as it cools so look for color, not crunch.)
Let cool for a few minutes. 
Once cool, either pour into a large bowl to break up any chunks and to stir in raisins, or place directly into storage container(s). (We use three quart sized mason jars.)

The kids love their granola like they do cereal, in a bowl with milk. I prefer it over some homemade yogurt and Hubs inevitably ends up taking it to work with him with milk and blueberries. It's also great over ice cream.
No matter how you like it, you've really got to try this deliciousness!

* Depending on how you feel about certain foods, you can substitute some of the ingredients and get similar flavor results. For example, you can use vegetable oil or canola oil instead of coconut oil (though I would not recommend it). You can also substitute honey for maple syrup or a mixture of the two.

19 July 2013

Bath Time Improv

For the past 8 months, the only way Baby J has bathed has been in the shower with me.
Our oldest two kids were afraid of water on their heads and faces for a long time so when Bean came around I started taking showers with her to get her used to the water on her face.
This has worked well for us.
Bath time is super fast, we can be assured the that they are getting really clean, and they've been used to water on their heads.
The only problem with this plan comes when Baby J needs a bath but I don't. Oh yeah... and the other problem is that I got rid of our baby bath last year because I figured I'd just shower with him when he was born.

Clearly that was "baby brain" talking or maybe it was my intense desire to purge all the "extra" in our lives.
So rather than going out to buy another baby bath and bringing "stuff" back in the house, we improvised. 
It was fantastic!
It just so happens that the basket we had handy was small enough to keep him confined without being able to get onto his belly and it was the perfect depth that he could play in the water and stay warm.
Of course, this isn't my genius at work because, as it seems, Pinterest has stolen my ability to think for myself, but none the less, good ideas are good ideas em'i'right?

17 July 2013

Another Reason to Try craigslist

When Hubs and I got married, 7.5 years ago, we bought a loveseat and sofa set made from bonded leather from...
wait for it...
Big Lots!
Oh, yeah! 
Anyway, for a whopping $450 or so we had a living room set that was great for napping.
Of course they lost their general comfort about 2 years into our owning them but they continued to be of nap quality for another 5 plus.
our dear Bean found a crack in one of the cushions and got a bit too curious for the couch's own good.
Hubs came home one day before we had guests set to arrive for my sister's wedding and discovered a giant, soccer ball sized tear in the "leather".
It's amazing how that stuff just peels right off!
Since our "babies" are all still young we opted to look for used furniture over new.
Once again, craigslist came through.
I checked periodically in the area for couches and found a microfiber set for an amazingly low, low price of $150.They're clean and easy to clean, they're comfortable, they are great for napping, and, oh yeah... they only cost $150!

My point being... before you buy new, especially if you have little kids who may just rip your stuff to shreds on a whim, give your local craigslist a peak. You never know what you'll find!

16 July 2013

Craft Room Update: Painting Laminate

The craft room became our junk room/drop and run room/avoid at all cost room over the past months.
The idea of sitting down to sew something has been laughable since Baby J was born.
I thought for sure I wouldn't dare let our future homeschool room turn into a dump pile and yet....
Every time I passed this room I died a little on the inside.
And then we got a piano.
I had no choice but to move some things around and so our computer, the one I use daily, ended up needing a new home and so classroom/craft room was now also our home office.
I was thankful for the push to get things done and so my first stop was at good ol' Home Depot for paint and primer. 
Several months ago I found this great hutch at my Salvation Army for a whopping $35.
It's hardwood and surprisingly heavy.
I knew as soon as I saw it in the store that I would be painting it but summoning the motivation was tough.
All those nooks and cranies!
And on the left of the hutch you can see the disassembled laminate bookcase I nabbed from my mom who was pitching it.

Painting Laminate:
After a light sanding, two coats of Bullseye 1-2-3 primer, and three to four coats of gloss trim paint, these two pieces were ready for storing.
The room is still unfinished but it's functional. And that's probably how it will remain until another wave of motivation comes along.

I wanted to note....
The laminate bookshelf I painted was falling apart. I think it was mostly because of the flimsy carboard backing that came with the shelf. Using the old back piece as a template, Hubs went out and bought 1/4" underlayment from HD, had it cut to size, and we nailed it in place. The shelves were sturdy like new again. That little fix was well worth NOT buying a whole new book shelf!
All that is to say... keep your eye out for used furniture at tag sales, thrift stores, and in your own home. It almost always costs less than buying new and has always served us well.

The hutch to the left was a thrift store find for $35, the wood shelf on the desk to the right was a tag sale find for $5, the dining table/desk in the middle (which I'm considering painting Fire Engine Red) was a craigslist purchase for $50, and the bookshelf was free from my mom who was throwing it out. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

12 July 2013

Baby Sister Got Hitched!

Just last weekend Baby Sister married Mr. Trabis.

This wedding is a BIG part of why I've been absent from our usual "chats" here, FYI
It was a whirlwind of a week!
There was a constant flow of people through our house and my parent's house.

Hubs and I were blessed with the company of some of our favorite people who we don't see nearly often enough!
In the midst of all the running around and last minute details I waited for it all to hit me. After all, my little sister was about to make a vow, change her name, begin to meal plan for two, take care of finances, and not be available to hang like she had been before.
The feeling never really came though.
It wasn't until days after when the party broke up, the reception tent came down, our friends all went home, and we started to face normal life again that I realized the "big moment" of change wasn't going to come because the reality was she had been slowly growing up all along.
She didn't start becoming Mrs. Trabis the day she got married... it was just another leg of the trip she'd started a long time ago.
I'm proud of Baby Sister and thankful that we now have Mr. Trabis as part of our clan!
Cheers to them!


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