Decorated Up!

After finishing our Thanksgiving dinner we set up our Christmas tree and decorated for Christmas.  It's incredibly difficult to decorate with the helpful hands of a toddler.

  I love when there are Christmas decorations everywhere.  I just wish that we could have had a real Christmas tree, the smell is unmatchable.

For now I will have to settle for our Charlie Brownesque tree and fake evergreen garland around. 

When we went to church on Sunday the church was filled with Christmas decorations as well the spiritual preparation for Christmas began with the first Sunday of advent.  In the bulletin there were daily bible passages for the next four weeks of advent and so I am passing those along to you.  In case you want to spiritually prepare for Christmas as well.

The First Week
Sunday- Romans 15:4-13 So that you may abound in Hope
Monday- Psalm 78:1-7 They should set their Hope in God
Tuesday- Titus 2:11-14 We wait for the blessed Hope
Wednesday- Romans 5:1-5 Hope does not disappoint us
Thursday- 1 Peter 1:13-21 Set your Hope on the grace Christ brings
Friday- Romans 8:18-25 In Hope we were saved
Saturday- Colossians 1:21-27 Christ in you, Hope of glory

Second Week in Advent
Sunday- Isaiah 52:7-10 The messenger of Peace
Monday- Luke 1:68-79 To guide our feet in the way of Peace
Tuesday- John 14:15-27 The Peace Christ gives
Wednesday- Luke 2:8-14 Peace to God's people on earth
Thursday- Isaiah 26:1-12 The Lord keeps us in Peace
Friday- Philippians 4:4-9 The Peace of God guards hearts and minds
Saturday- Numbers 6:22-27 The Lord's benediction of Peace

Third Week in Advent
Sunday- Isaiah 9:2-7 You have increased our Joy
Monday- Psalm 98:1-9 Joy to the World
Tuesday- Luke 1:8-17 Joy at the birth of John
Wednesday- Luke 1:39-53 The child leaped for Joy
Thursday- 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 Joy in Christian fellowship
Friday- John 16:20-24 Your hearts will Rejoice
Saturday- 1 Peter 1:3-9 An indescribable and glorious Joy

Fourth Week in Advent
Sunday- 1 John 4:16-21 We love because God first Loved us
Monday- Lamentation 3:31-33 The abundance of God's steadfast Love
Tuesday- John 3:13-17 God so Loved the world
Wednesday- 1 John 4:7-12 Let us Love one another
Thursday- 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 The greatest of these is Love
Friday- 1 Peter 4:7-11 Love covers multitude of sins
Saturday- Ephesians 3:14-19 The love of Christ surpasses knowledge


Thanksgiving For Us.

Since I was supposed to work for Thanksgiving, we had planned on having a Thanksgiving dinner with just the three of us for Saturday.  I was canceled from work on Thanksgiving day so we had a wonderfully chill day hanging out.  Today we woke up and started our Thanksgiving preparations.  Well, I guess Munchkie's Daddy had started his turkey prep the night before, but we really got working this morning.  Munchkie's Daddy had seen "the perfect turkey" in our Food Network magazine and wanted to try it out, of course Food Network can't make anything easy.  As soon as a very whiny Munchkie went to take a nap we started chopping, mixing and baking.  Amazingly Munchkie slept 4-5 hours today, which was the perfect amount of time for our dinner preparations.  We have been talking all night about how amazed we were with the perfection of our thanksgiving feast.  We planned everything perfectly and the turkey, stuffing and potatoes were all finished as precisely the same time.  Everything was amazingly delicious as well as ready and on the table 15 minutes after Munchkie woke up from her nap. 

The turkey was by far one of the best turkeys I have ever had.  I had purchased a frozen turkey breast from the grocery store that was hormone and antibiotic free and after 16 hours of brining, it went into the oven seasoned and rubbed with coconut oil.
The turkey popped when cut and the the juices literally squirted out.  The flavor was incredible and I was amazed at how well Munchkie's Daddy had done with his very first turkey.  He did an amazing job following Alton Brown's instruction and it really make it feel like Thanksgiving.  I followed my great grandma's sausage stuffing recipe and it was also the best stuffing I had ever made.  I have attempted this several times, but it never quite turned out.  Today was my day! 
It was absolutely delicious!  I really don't think my mom could have made it any better.  The only flop we had was the pie.  Munchkie's Daddy wanted a pecan pie and I wanted to try a twist to the standard pecan pie.  It was not good.  Very disappointing.  Obviously we don't really need desert so I'll get over it and eat a few more bites of my healthy sweet potatoes instead.

So now that I've talked about food I want to talk about the things I am thankful for.  Because that it was Thanksgiving is really about, I want to take a minute and be grateful for the blessings in my life.

  • My beautiful family that has grown and strengthened over the last year.
  • Munchkie who brings us constant entertainment and amazement.
  • The house that we have been able to rent, giving us privacy, a safe and quiet environment as well as beautiful views.
  • A new job that I absolutely love and can't believe I get paid to play with kids.
  • Munchkie's Daddy ended up taking a year off of school and is able to focus on our family instead of being stressed by school work.
  • Munchkie's Daddy was able to find a job, while he took a year off from school, during this difficult economy.
  • We have health in both our small family and our larger extended family.
  • We have had many incredible celebrations this year, 1st birthday, 80th birthday, 55th wedding anniversary, high school graduation, and college undergraduate and master's graduations.
  • We have been able to travel several times this year to visit family and friends.
  • We have been able to become more organic, green and ecologically friendly.
I hope everyone had as amazing of a Thanksgiving as we did, on whatever day you celebrated.  What are you grateful for this year?


For Better or Worse

I've been meaning to write about our trip last weekend but we've all been fighting colds and I just didn't even have the energy to do anything.  We traveled to the farm in Canada for Munchkie's Daddy's grandparents anniversary last weekend and spent time with Munchkie's Daddy's side of the family.  The first time I met his side of the family, it was shocking to me how different families can be.  I was warned at that time of the ornery and sarcastic Poppa and the forgetful Nana.  It's only been a few years since that initial meeting and it seems that there has been quite a transformation since then.  I was quite scared of Poppa, he made fun of people and was brutally honest to those around him.  He told me I looked like a flying kangaroo (whatever that is!) and that he sure wouldn't want to see what my mom looked like (indicating that I was bad enough to look at).  Nana was so sweet, telling repetitive stories of when she was young and giving advice from her life experiences. 

Now several years later we have seen the progression of Alzheimer's and how it effects everyone involved.  When I first met them I wondered what brought them together, what made such opposites fall in love and start a family.  As we celebrated their 55 years of marriage I could see the love and tenderness that brought them together.  I was touched at the transformation in a grumpy, ornery old man who spent his life working the farm and promptly being served dinner at 6:30pm every night.  I could see the loving glances and kind eyes turning towards his bride.  I could see that he now has taken the position of caregiver and provider for the wife who is slowly slipping away.  A disease that can slowly creep up and sometimes goes unnoticed for years can change an entire family's dynamic and transform the most stubborn of people.

I think that "back in the day" it was supposed to be the manly thing to avoid emotion and be almost harsh towards family members.  The man of the house was supposed to rule with an iron fist and under no circumstances show any kind of soft spot.  Once these men grow and mature they start to realize the life they have built around themselves.  How can you not be touched at a beautiful family of children, grandchildren, and super cute great granddaughter (wink wink)?  When you add to that an increasingly more dependent wife it's pretty impossible to continue to avoid emotion. 

The love that may not have been so apparent throughout the years now is visible.  It gives me hope that in 50 years Munchkie's Daddy and I can have a marriage that can come through anything.  There are so many things in life that can bring you down, so many things that can pull a family apart.  What dedication and commitment it takes to be married for 55 years.  Most young couples (myself included) say the words "for better or worse" flippantly and don't really stop to realize what those words really mean.  This means financial struggles, difficult times, and when you think you're finally catching a break, your health may fail you.  It is truly a testament of the love for one another and commitment to promises made that can get a couple through all of these situations. 

On my first trip to the farm in Canada I never would have imagined the weekend that we had last weekend.  I never would have thought that the kind sweet Nana would not be able to remember who I was.  I never would have thought Poppa would have such kindness and love in his eyes.  Amazing how much things can change in just a few years.  I hope that I can learn many lessons from the weekend of celebrating 55 years of marriage.


Good Weekend with a Not so Good Ending

So I'm just too upset right now to talk about our weekend.  We spent all weekend traveling and then finally arrived home to New Haven to find our luggage including our car seat was "misplaced."  It was midnight, we were all snot nosed, feverish, tired and sick from all the unhealthy food that comes with traveling.  I did my absolute best to keep my self under control, to not cry or yell.  Through clenched teeth I asked if there was a car seat for us to use since we had no way of getting Munchkie home.  The employee produced a car seat that looked like it was straight from Saved by the Bell, I'm sure that Kelly's little siblings must have used it. 
No matter how hard we tried we couldn't get it to be secured in the back seat very tightly.  We were too tired and too drained to fight, just wanting to get home and into our own bed.  When I woke up with morning I looked at the car seat, called Evenflo and then emailed US Airways.
Here is my email, hopefully written in a calm moment, not a moment of anger.  Maybe once I get my belongings back I will be able to talk about my thoughts over the weekend.

My husband and I were traveling with our infant daughter this weekend to and from Canada for a family event.  I first have to say that our flights were some of the smoothest flights I have been on and the flight attendants were all exceptionally nice and accommodating.  However, after booking our tickets my husband called US Airways to inform them that our infant daughter would be traveling with us to and from Canada and asked if there were any additional fees or people to call and was told that there were none. Once we were checking in at the Toronto airport, we were asked to pay a fee including taxes for our daughter.  Although this fee was minimal, it is very frustrating that we had asked ahead of time and been told there were no fees.  Next, while we had over an hour and half in Philadelphia my husband went into one of the restaurants by our gate to watch a football game while we waited.  While in there, he noticed several baggage handlers standing watching the game as well.  He commented that he was surprised so many employees could take breaks at the same time on a Sunday night with decreased overall staff, or that they were not doing what they should have been doing.  While he was sitting in the restaurant I was sitting in the gate with my sleeping daughter in my arms, waiting for our 10:50pm flight.  A US Airway employee unnecessarily yelled down the terminal which woke my daughter who was then unable to fall back asleep.    While boarding our flight my husband was asked to gate check his backpack, which included two laptops among other personal items.  When we arrived to New Haven, when picking up his backpack it was found several feet from the cart where the other gate checked items were.  We had specifically carried on these items to prevent damages and were not pleased with the lack of respect for our fragile belongings.  When we went to collect our checked baggage we found that neither of our items had come with us to New Haven, along with several other fellow fliers.  l was very upset by the fact that our car seat was among the items misplaced.  As this is our only car seat we had no way to bring out daughter home after a long day of traveling.  I asked the US Airways employee who was assisting us if there was a car seat for our use or a rental car seat and was given a car seat to use.  To start we were unable to secure it into our car tightly enough to be safe.  When we arrived home I called the Evenflo number (1-800-233-5921) found on the car seat to find out if there had been recalls regarding this car seat.  I found that the date of manufacture was February 16, 1999.  When I reached an Evenflo  employee and gave the model number (217198 P1) with date of manufacture (16FEB99) I was told that the car seat expires after 6 years and the car was not legal to be used or given for use.  I was extremely upset with the fact I was given an expired and unsafe car seat to replace my carefully researched and government approved car seat.  First I want an immediate discontinuation of the use of this and other expired car seat to prevent injury to any child and replacement car seats that are approved to be provided to your patrons who have had their car seats misplaced by your baggage handlers.  Next I want to know how this will be prevented from happening in the future.  I am extremely dissatisfied and will be recommending our family and friends to choose another airline to prevent them from having a horrible experience with US Airways such as ours.


Making Huge Strides

Oh my goodness, I can't even believe how crazy busy we have been!  When I saw how long it's been since I've posted I couldn't even believe it, I thought it was the day before yesterday.  We are planning a trip to Canada to see Munchkie's Daddy's family for his grandparents 55th wedding anniversary.  It was a pretty last minute trip, so we have been rushing around trying to get everything planned and prepared.  I had to beg several people to switch with me at work so I could have this time off, and beggers can't be choosers, so needless to say, I'm exhausted. 

In the middle of all of that, we realized that since we would be flying for the first time, Munchkie actually needed a passport.  Well that made for a fun trip to the passport agency this past Monday.  Amazingly it only took an hour in the actual passport agency.  The drive however was a different story.  Several hours in a car was not how I like to spend quality time with Munchkie.  I can only listen to "Mr. Sun Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!"  so many times.  Every time we get into the car, she starts saying "sun? sun?" until we turn on the Little People Go to the Beach CD. 

Munchkie is so strong willed and independent and is becoming more so each day.  This morning we dropped Munchkie's Daddy off at work after picking me up from work and took her to the babysitter.  Instead of her usual crying and clinging to me, she demanded to "Galk" or walk by herself to the door.  After climbing the stairs to the front door, the babysitter came downstairs to get Munchkie and she just walked right on in.  Said "Bye Bye Mama!" and didn't even look back.  The babysitter and I looked at each other and shrugged in surprise.  I crouched down and said "Munchkie give Mommy a kiss!" and she turned around to come give me a kiss, but turned right around to start climbing the stairs to their apartment.  What huge strides she has made in getting dropped off at the babysitters!  I'm amazed by her growing independence and at the same time feel twinges of heartbreak that she's no longer my little baby anymore.  She's a "little person" now and lets us know it all the time. 

Who is it harder for to drop Munchkie off at the babysitters? Me? or her?  Today, definitely me.  I will have to work on this.


Sesame Street on a Saturday Morning

I never wanted Munchkie to watch TV, in fact I made it quite clear to our families that there would be no TV watching.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until after age 2 and then minimal TV after that.  I wanted to be a good mom and follow their recommendations.  Obviously the AAP never had to work a night shift and then try to stay up to watch their kids the next day.  It all started with me being exhausted and I opened up an Elmo DVD someone had given Munchkie for her birthday.  The rules went downhill after that.  She just loved Elmo so much that she begs for him all day long.  She loves that he has music and singing on Elmo's world.  She is usually standing in the living room dancing along with Elmo.  So before Elmo's world one day there was a song about hair and Munchkie loved it.  Shortly after we heard about the song on NPR.  It was a beautiful story about why the song was written, check it out here.  So I did a quick youtube search and found the video.  Now Munchkie asks "hair? hair?" multiple times a day.  You know how great youtube is at recommending similar videos to watch so this morning we went through and watched several "music" videos from Sesame Street. 

I love Saturday mornings with nothing to do anyway, making breakfast, waking Munchkie's Daddy up with a fresh cup of coffee and hanging out in our pj's.  We were all sitting on the couch crowded around my computer watching Sesame Street videos.  I love spending time like this with my family.  All cuddled up together, dancing and laughing.  It's so much fun.  Munchkie's Daddy and I looked over Munchkie's head at each other and just smiled because it's so heartwarming to see how happy Munchkie gets when two of her favorite things are combined- Elmo and music. 

Singing "I Love My Hair"

As much as I don't want to admit, I am really starting to like these Sesame Street videos.  They are quite fun and I really don't mind them as much as I thought.  I was not looking forward to children's shows and music, but I'm finding that they are kind of funny.  They bring a smile to your face and put you in a good mood.  Here are some of our favorites to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about yourself on this beautiful Saturday.


Friday Night and No Plans

It's amazing how much life can change in just a short amount of time.  It's Friday night and I'm sitting on the couch in my pjs watching DVRed tv shows.  Exciting beyond belief I know.  On a good note Munchkie went to bed early, but the other side of that is that it's 7:15 on a Friday night and we're all in for the night.  Before Munchkie came along it's not like we went crazy on the weekend.  In fact we usually didn't do too much, we're not really the partying type.  However, it's the thing you can't have that you want the most.  I think that I just always associate staying in on the weekend with being old and I don't want to feel old (the truth is that I don't really even have the energy to do anything). 

I wonder sometimes how this happened.  That I am ok with staying home on a Friday night. Tonight I felt like I just needed to go out and do something.  Anything.  I had cabin fever but knew that if we went out there would be meltdowns because it was so close to bedtime.  I guess that is part of being a mom, you stay at home most of the time to avoid public meltdowns.  So as much as I want to be doing something somewhere other than my house, I will sit here watching this week's shows while Munchkie peacefully sleeps upstairs. 

I am learning to adjust to the lack of independence and freedom that comes with motherhood.   There are not spur of the moment, rush out the door to go do something times anymore.  You can't just go where you please, when you please.  I think it takes a lot of planning and preparation along with organization to be a mom.  We can plan ahead and go do something tomorrow, but that means adjusting naptime, making sure there are full bellies (Munchkie's Daddy is just as bad as Munchkie at being grumpy on an empty stomach), diaper bag is well stocked and a bath is taken the night before. 

I guess that it doesn't necessarily make me old to stay in.  It just means that I am a mom now and I have responsibilities that change the way you do things.  I will have to push off my need to go do something until tomorrow and on that note I better go start planning tomorrow's activities.....


1,000 page views!

I worked last night and am working again tonight, but just happened to check my blog and saw that there were exactly 1,000 page views.  Wow!  I started writing because I'm addicted to reading blogs and wanted an outlet to share as well.  I really enjoy blogspot because there is a Stats section that tells you all about your page views.  I know that there are have been page views in Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, South Africa, and Russia.  Pretty amazing isn't it?  Both that there have been international views and that I can know this.

As I sit in my horrid blue scrubs typing this Munchkie and Munchkie's Daddy are playing in the lliving room and the giggles are too much for me to take.  Munchkie keeps running to me to "protect" her from the Saur-Saur (dinosaur) that is coming to get her.  I love her giggles and it does not make me motivated at all to go into work. I wish that I could just stay here and induce Munchkie giggles all night.  I realize though that I need to go to work so that Munchkie has a living room to giggle in. Apparently this is what life is about, doing things we don't necessarily like because we have to.

I enjoy that I have somewhere to write out my thoughts and how my day is going.  I like to talk about Munchkie and I think that there are actually people who like to read about our lives.  Thank you to all of my blog readers who have looked at my page and added to those 1,000 page views.  I will continue to write about my life as Munchkie Mama, Munchkie's Daddy's wife and a nurse and I hope you continue to read.  Have a wonderful day!



I haven't been doing as well keeping up with my blog posts because every second Munchkie free is spent working on our Christmas presents.

Speaking of Christmas, our mail box has been stuffed full with holiday toy catalogs since November 1st.  The first day, the Target catalog slipped out of the handful of mail and Munchkie grabbed it up.  She immediately went to the couch and sat there flipping each page.  As each page turned she ooooh and aaaaah.  This catalog provided her with such entertainment and I was in awe of the genius marketing of Target.  She has flipped through this catalog an uncountable number of times now and it has provided literally hours of entertainment in our house.

The funniest part about this is that Munchkie has absolutely no idea what she is looking at.  She gets so excited and searches each page for what she recognizes. Exclamations of "doggy!", "kitty!", "car!", "Elmo!" "Saur-saur! (dinosaur)" can be heard from almost every room in our house.  Do you think that Target's marketing department envisioned my daughter spending endless hours pouring over their catalog with absolutely no interest in the actual toys?

I think one of my favorite parts of this age is how exciting every small thing can be.  Isn't childhood joy amazing and inspiring?  I wish that I could have such enthusiasm and excitement over a bow, or a pink toothbrush with Elmo and Abby on it.  Shouldn't we all take lessons from these small children?  Shouldn't we look around us each moment of each day and be so thankful for every small thing?  If we took the time to acknowledge the small things, I think we would each have the joyful and carefree life we wish we could have.  Maybe instead of focusing on what material possessions we "need" or want we can take a lesson from Munchkie and get excited for what we know and can recognize.

This season of giving I'm going to try to look around me for the small blessings instead of focusing on all of the things I have to get done.  Thanks Munchkie for such a valuable lesson!


Is it Munchkie or Mommy?

Our babysitter's son says that all Munchkie does is dance all day.  She looooves to dance!  He said that their family is a huge family of dancers.  So I emailed my mom and asked her to send a few pictures to me.  There is no doubt who's child Munchkie is! There was no nursery switch on the day she was born.  Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Is it Munchkie..... or Mommy?

The distraught ladybug is Munchkie
The overtired Raggidy Ann is Mommy
The joyful tapper is Mommy
The couch dancer is Munchkie


I've Been Thinking About Trying Gluten-Free

So I've been thinking about going gluten-free just to try it out.  I've heard so many people say that they feel so much better once they go gluten free and I just want to see if it's true.  The problem is that I don't even know where to begin!  I really need to sit down and spend hours doing research and see what all gluten is in and then what I can use as alternates.  Who knew there was gluten in soy sauce?  Not me!  I got this blog post today and and thankful that she has done some of the research.  I will have to figure out when I can try this out, it will take some days to get it all straight I think.

Food for thought: Katie Learns About Gluten

Does anyone have any input about going gluten-free?  Any ideas?  Research that you want to share?  I'm and blank slate here!


A Change of Colors

A few weeks ago I started to notice a change of colors in stores.  The colors normally seen in the stores this time of year are warm tones- oranges, browns, reds and golds.  These are beautiful colors that make my heart warm.

I have decided that living on the east coast has made me appreciate warm fall tones because they are all around as the trees turn.  While these colors make me feel warm and happy inside, there are two other colors that really make me smile.

Red and green.

I LOVE Christmas.  As Munchkie and I were walking through the aisles of a store I just had to laugh, there are shelves of Halloween candy and costumes with Christmas trees and decorations just next to them.  We are just so anxious we can't even wait for one season to be over because we are moving onto the next.

I'm ok with skipping Halloween completely, so seeing Christmas trees instead of skeletons doesn't bother me (I am quite sad that we skip over Thanksgiving and the season of being thankful for what we have).  I start to think about Christmas months before I want to admit.  I used to love Christmas as a child because I knew that I would get presents, but as I get older I love the season because of what happens during the Christmas season.  People become nice, friendly, selfless.  The world becomes a better place when the colors red and green begin to show.  I love giving gifts to people, baking delicious things, spices and sweets wafting in the air.  I rounded an aisle to see the Christmas section being set up in the store and bent over to talk to Munchkie.  I said "do you know what season is coming?  Christmas!  You don't remember what Christmas is, but it's so exciting.  We have to remember why it's exciting, Jesus came as a little baby on Christmas day."  To which she responded in a very excited tone "Baby? Jesus?"  She may not get it quite yet, but I am looking forward to showing her how wonderful this season of giving is.

I've been working for a while on our homemade gifts for this year, but this week I realized I need to get serious and can think of little else. I came up with the last part of our gift today and immediately ordered online the supplies I would need.   We decided that instead of buying family and friends something just to buy something, we are going to give homemade gifts.  While sometimes they might be perishable and only last a little while, we put our thought, love, and time into it.  I know this means more than a random material possession.  I can't wait to lovingly put these gifts together with Munchkie.  I am looking forward to this time of making, baking, giving and sharing.  This year I will be teaching Munchkie, the sponge, all about what this season of Christmas means.  Bring on the red and green.  I am so ready!


Revision of Granola Bars

I made a new batch of granola bars last night for Munchkie's Daddy to take to work with him.  I think that they turned out better this time and Munchkie's Daddy says he likes them better.  He's not a sweet person so when I buy him bars he usually doesn't like them because they are so sweet.  He also said that they were very filling and held him over until lunch today, he wasn't hungry by 10:30 like he usually is.  I guess that's a good thing!  So here is my revised recipe.  You can look here for my previous post with recipe and here for Katie of KitchenStewardship.com's recipe that I adapted.  The basic jist is that you need 1 cup flour, 4-4/12 cups oatmeal or comparable ingredients (quinoa, puffed rice, slivered almonds), you need a sweetener which I substitute 3/4 cup applesauce (only using 1/4 cup honey), and then 2 cups of "mix-ins" of your choice.  This last time I cut out the butter without a problem, I think because the quinoa is so moist. You can use all kinds of things for mix-ins, coconut, chocolate, any kind of dried fruit or nuts, whatever sounds good to you.

1 cup oatmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dry cranberries
2 cups water
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease a 9x13 pan
  2. Cook the 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water as directed on package.
  3.  I crushed up the slivered almonds in a ziplock bag until they were crumbs and little pieces.
  4. Mix together applesauce, honey, vanilla, baking soda.
  5. Add oatmeal, flour, quinoa, almonds and then puffed rice.
  6. Last add the "mix-ins"- cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  7. Press the mixture into the pan, pressing firmly with your hands to ensure it is tightly in the pan.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light brown on top.
  9. Let sit for 10 minutes
  10. After 10 minutes, cut into 20 Quaker Chewy granola bar size
  11. Do not take out of pan until completely cooled.
  12. Store in an airtight container.
And drum roll-
Nutrition facts:
Serving size 1 bar, servings per batch 20
Calories 141
Fat: 5.1g
Saturated Fat 0.6g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 66g
Total Carbohydrates 20.5g
Dietary Fiber 2.3g
Sugars 4.9g
Protein 4.5g

Not so bad!


    Cleaning is not so fun

    When I was college I used to love cleaning.  My roommate would come into our room and ask which class I had a test in because my method of procrastination was to clean.  I also made a little bit of money cleaning a few people's homes because I enjoyed doing it.  Then I graduated and had a whole house to clean.  I did not enjoy that so much. 

    Obviously cleaning is something we have to do, but I just don't enjoy putting elbow grease into anything, as evidenced by my earlier post on not liking dishes I would rather just put it off.  Now I'm trying to make my own cleaning products to help clean better without the elbow grease or the fumes.  This is the research that I've put together to create my own cleaning products.

    1 cup white vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

    All Purpose Cleaner

    • 1/4 cup white vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 gallon (1 liter) hot water
    • a few drops of essential oil (optional)
       Daily Shower Spray
      • 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol
      • 1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide
      • 2 squirts Dr. Bronner's
      • 1/3 cup white vinegar
      • few drops tea tree oil
      • few drops essential oil (optional)
      I really like Dr. Bronner's and so I use it for a lot of things.  I have an old dish soap bottle that foams and so I put a few squirts of Dr. Bronner's and fill the rest with water.  I use this to clean my my dishes.  I also use Dr. Bronner's diluted in a spray bottle to do some cleaning.  

      I also use vinegar for a lot of things.  I add it in the dishwasher as a rinse agent to prevent buildup from forming on my dishes.  I use it with my laundry in place of a fabric softener.  The best thing about vinegar- it has antibacterial properties AND you can buy a gallon for under $2. 

      We also have almost eliminated paper products.  I say almost because I have quite a bit of paper napkins and I'm not going to just throw them away, so we're using them up.  I also just recently found a hidden roll of paper towel that Munchkie's Daddy had because he just couldn't handle the thought of paper free cleaning.  I read Simple Mom's article about a paperless kitchen a while ago and wanted to try it out.  She said the key is to make sure there are rags handy.  For us there had to be rags handy and a laundry basket handy.  I keep rags of different textures and sizes for all different kinds of cleaning in a bucket on the counter, under the paper towel holder, so that it is easily accessible for spills or cleanups.  I then have the laundry basket sitting out that is just for dirty rags and towels so they can go right into the basket.  I wash all of the rags every couple days on the sanitary cycle of our washing machine. 
      We've now been doing this for several months and it's been working out really well.  Between our homemade cleaners and rags we have eliminated several different expenses while helping the environment out a little bit.  This doesn't really mean that I enjoy cleaning any more, but at least I can be a little creative while I'm doing it.  Just a few more ways I can be green, economical and of course, clean.