No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

granola bars

The other day whilst perusing the aisles of Target (sans grocery list), I began grabbing random items from the grocery aisle, and tossing them in to my giant, red shopping cart. (Clearly I cannot be trusted without a grocery list.) In addition to my usual, aimless home-goods browsing,  I was looking for a few easy on-the-go snacks for Ayden.  I am not one of those perfectly raw, organic moms (although I wish I was), but I do read labels. My typical shopping guidelines are as follows:

  • If it grows out of the ground, I try to buy organic.
  • No sugar in the first 3 ingredients.
  • No high fructose corn syrup (to the very best of my ability.)

Like I said, I do this imperfectly. However, these guidelines are what matter to me most days, when it comes to feeding my family.  Anyway, back to Target. I was walking through the snack aisle, about to throw a box of granola bars in my cart. I checked the label, like I do, and noticed all sorts of disturbing corn syrups, ‘modified this’, and ‘modified that’. I thought to my self, ‘Self, I bet we can make this from scratch using real food’. So I did, and here’s how. 

Stuff you will need:

  • 1/2 cup raw or brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups honey (After making this recipe, I would cut it to 1 cup of honey)
  • 1/3 cup real butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt (sea salt if you have it)
  • 1 cup 100% crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups rice crisped cereal
  • 2 2/3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips

ingredients

How to make it:

In a large bowl, combine oats, rice cereal and ground flax. Stir until well combined, and set aside.

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Measure out sugar, honey, Butter/coconut oil and salt into a sauce pan. Heat over medium, and bring to a boil. Stir the entire time, and let boil for one minute so sugar dissolves.

Take off heat, add vanilla extract and peanut butter, stirring until smooth.

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Pour wet mixture over the dry ingredients that you set aside earlier.

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Stir until well combined.

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Set mix aside for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a large cookie sheet (12.5 x 17.5 x 1 inch) with parchment paper. (Trace bottom of pan on to paper, cut along lines and it should fit perfectly in the bottom of the pan).

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Pour the granola mixture on to the lined cookie sheet.

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Make sure you distribute the mixture evenly. Then get another piece of parchment paper and another cookie sheet, place on top of mixture, and press down to help set the bars.

Sprinkle chocolate chips on top, and repeat pressing technique.

bars

Allow bars to fully cool, (either in fridge or on counter).

Cut bars to desired size, serve and enjoy!

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***Original recipe was found on the Happy Money Saver blog.

xo, Em

Orange Picking in Orange County

orange Picking in Orange County

Growing up on the East Coast, I have many fond memories of going apple picking every Autumn. I especially loved climbing the tall, wooden ladders (reserved only for ‘big kids’), to pluck my desired apples from the tree. Once our bags were full, we would wander through the orchard’s shop, where everything smelled like fresh apple cider and musty wood.

Living in Southern Orange County affords us many luxuries; sunny weather year-round, beautiful sandy beaches, but no apple picking, (unless you want to drive a few hours). So you can imagine my excitement when my Mother-in-law, Loretta, suggested we go orange picking!

If you didn’t know, we are currently staying with my in-laws, as our home is undergoing some repairs. Their community hosts orange groves, and a little birdie (their community news letter), told us that the trees were full of ripe oranges. We made a girls-day adventure of it, loaded the wagon with Ayden, her scooter, picnic goodies and a few other odds and ends, and we three were off to the orange colony. Orange Grove Adventre

Have you ever smelled citrus fruit straight from the tree? If I could, I would make this a scratch-and-sniff blog post, so you could experience the fragrant freshness firsthand. But since I can’t, I will do my best to translate it in to words. (For starters, Ayden and Loretta peeled open one of our oranges, and from about 30 feet away, it smelled as if someone had peeled it right under my nose.) When we reached the grove, we were a bit set back by how picked over most of the trees were, but we were quick to find a silver lining–the fruit at the very tops of the trees were not only untouched, but perfectly ripe as well. fresh oranges

You may be saying, “But Emily, you are only 5’3″, how did you reach those oranges?” Ahh fear not grasshopper, when there’s a will, there’s a way. (Also, it doesn’t hurt that my Mother in-law is 5’9″). We McGyvered the heck out of those trees, and made out like orange-bandits.

McGyver 1

That’s me. With a shovel. Standing in the wagon.

That's Ayden crashing my Real Housewives of Orange County, moment.

That’s Ayden crashing my Real Housewives of Orange County, moment.

Below are some photos from our orangey-adventure. If you have never picked fresh produce before, I highly recommend trying it. There is something instinctive about picking fruit. It makes me feel of the earth, and connected to nature.   Ayden picking orange picking orange close up

Loretta and Ayden

Ayden picking flowers for Loretta

picking flowers ayden orange wagon

lemons

Lemons!

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Digging for gold… obviously. #CaliforniaGoldRsh2015

orange24.jpg  orange20.jpg orange13.jpg   xo, Em

My Resolution to You

Me

January 1, 2015. Nice ring to it, eh?

Happy New Year, you beautiful creatures, you.I am writing this as a sort of intention, or manifesto for the coming year, to my readers. I had a long conversation with my hero, (my big sister), yesterday, about vulnerability. About transparency. About authenticity. It became very clear to me that one of my hopes and intentions for this blog, was to open up a bit more, and let you in. 

I often talk about the power and the magic of truly relating to each other, and now it is time for me to walk that talk. I still plan to share fabulous and fun DIYs, events and recipes, but I am also hoping to incorporate some more #realtalk.

I am so excited and honored that you have decided to join me on my blogging journey thus far, and I can’t wait to bring you so much more; cue music, “We’ve only just begun…”

xo, Em

life is rad

Mermade Market

mermadem We interrupt this DIY challenge to bring you an important word from our sponsors! OK, not really our–my sponsors, but I did want to write a post about an amazing event going on today and tomorrow. By now you should know that I love handmade, hand-crafted goods made by small business folk. I also love supporting other mamas. And perhaps even most, I love a good deal / sale / bargain / discount. (#frugalnotcheap) So what happens when you marry these three loves of mine? Mermade Market happens. And what’s even better is that it is in my own backyard, almost literally.

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Let’s start with the basics: Who: Fabulous Mompreneur Elise Capener, owns and operates this fantastic pop-up market, which hosts dozens of vendors at each of her events. Elise is a gorgeous mama to two adorable boys, devoted wife to her handsome hubby, film photographer, maker of beautiful things and all-around rad lady.

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What: What is the Mermade Market, you ask? It is a seasonal bazaar, filled with beautiful, handmade goods. Many (if not most) of these shops are owned by other mamas. You can find original gifts, beautiful home decor, on-trend baby and kids clothing and much, much more. It is also a bit of a social event, so come prepared to laugh and gab.

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Where: This is my favorite part–Mermade Market is located in beautiful Dana Point, Ca. It is a walk down the street for me, which is über convenient for me. If you do not live walking distance, it is worth the drive. Make a day of it, and spend the day or morning in Dana Point–there is tons to see and do.

Dana Point Community House

24642 San Juan Ave

Dana Point, Ca 92629

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When:

Now! Official Dates and times:

December 11 – December 13

Friday hours: 10am – 6pm

Saturday hours: 9am – 4pm

Why:

Because you love unique, beautiful things and good company! Plus, you know you are not quite done with your holiday shopping. Find the perfect gift, stocking-stuffer or treat for yourself. Support local makers and meet some fabulous new friends. Plus Elise is running some fun giveaways, so be sure to follow @mermademarket on Instagram and Facebook.

xo, Em

6 Scary Good Deals & Freebies on Halloween

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Happppppy Halloweeeeen! Muahahaha (Can you hear the spooky infliction in my typing?)

If you know me, then you know that I L O V E Halloween. I love everything about it. Playing dress up, scaring friends, asking strangers for candy–all of it! I also love free things and secret deals. I have created a round-up of my favorite Halloween freebies. Enjoy!!

1. Starbucks

Treat yourself to a Franken Frappucino!

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Franken Frappuccino: Green Tea Frappuccino with peppermint syrup, white chocolate sauce, java chips and topped with whipped cream and mocha drizzle.

Here’s the deal: After 2pm get a Franken Frappuccino or any other grande-size Frappuccino, for $3 at participating stores.

2. IHOP

Scary-Face Pancakes for all!

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Here’s the deal: Kids 12 and under, one per child, get a free “Scary Face” pancake for dine-in orders on Halloween.

3. Krispy Kreme

Show up to Krispy Kreme in costume on Halloween, and get a free doughnut!

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Here’s the deal: No purchase necessary! (You can even choose a Ghostbuster doughnut).

4. Jamba Juice
Healthier Halloween

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Here’s the deal: Kids 8 and under get a free 9.5 ounce smoothie on Halloween from 2 to 7 p.m. Made with whole fruit, as well as fruit and veggie juices, Jamba Kids Smoothies contain 2.5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables and are available in four delicious flavors.

5. Chipotle

Boorito!

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Here’s the deal: Come dressed in costume from 5pm to close and get $3 burritos, bowls, salads, tacos, or kids’ meals. Proceeds (up to $1,000,000) will be donated to The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to create a sustainable and healthy food supply through education and support of family farmers.

6. Build-a-Bear Workshop

Bear costumes & free mystery treat!

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Here’s the deal: Head to a Build-a-Bear store in costume, and receive a FREE mystery treat; no purchase necessary. Also, plenty of Halloween costumes for your furry friends.

 **Check your local stores to make sure offers apply
xo, Emily

7 Moms That I Love

7MOMS THATI LOVE

                                                   (Photo source: Babble.com)

I recently read a hilarious blog post from Scary Mommy, called ‘7 Moms That Drive Me Crazy’. The article was not only funny, but had some real truths in it. I also related to some of the moms that she poked fun at, and she even admitting to the same. The article was clearly written in good fun.

When I went to comment on the post, I noticed a comment-war going on. There was a lot of criticism about not being supportive of other women/moms, and some people felt personally attacked. I found this strange since it was written in such a general way. I have learned that I have to be able to laugh at myself, otherwise I will become miserable. But this also got me thinking about the flip-side of this article–it got me thinking of the kinds of moms that I love and appreciate. And since I am really in to the whole law of attraction thing, I figured I would write a response article about the kind of moms I adore.

1. The Supportive Stranger

When Ayden was around 4 weeks old, we started venturing out in to the world, and by venturing out I mean taking trips to Costco or Target. (Trust me, this was no small feat for a brand new, first-time mommy). Inevitably, she would cry at some point. Being that she had a dry diaper and had just been fed, I was at a loss. I was also bursting at the seams with hormones, and felt über self-conscious about having that baby–you know, the one that cries in public. It was at these times that I experienced the kindness of The Supportive Stranger.

Sometimes it was a simple nod of understanding. Other times it was small talk about how babies just cry sometimes. Regardless, it helped me to not feel so alone in my scary new role as someones mom. I love these women. It may seem like a small act of kindness, but it carried me through many a day.

2. The Sharer

You’re at the park, the petting zoo, the trampoline place–wherever. You suddenly realize that you forgot to pack a snack for your little, who is eye-balling (if not actually attempting to swipe) another kid’s stash. It’s embarrassing. You swear you feed your kid. You swear you usually pack snacks. And then it happens. The nicest, most prepared mom in the world pulls out a spare pack of fruit snacks or pirate’s booty or raisins or goldfish, and offers it up.

She doesn’t look down her nose at you, she simply smiles and says “I’ve been there”. Thank you sweet supplier of toddler snacks! Crisis averted, all because this mommy was taught to share.

3. The Truth Teller

One thing I have learned as a mom is, things are not always as the seem, (especially on Facebook). Social media would have you believe that having kids is a breeze. In fact, social media would have you believe that babies and kids are always having fun, always smiling and always dressed well. Not true.

What I really appreciate, (possibly the most), are the moms who tell the truth. I appreciate the moms who are honest about the stresses of having kids, the pressures of being a wife and mom and the realities of perfectly imperfect kids.

As moms, I think we tend look at other moms and compare ourselves. In the past I always came up short, in my mind. Knowing that the other seemingly ‘perfect’ moms have the same struggles as I do, has really helped me to be kinder to myself. Plus, you never know who is looking at you, and admiring your own mom-skillz. So I say, pass on the honesty, and help other moms let themselves off the hook!

4. The Hand-me-downer

The hand-me-downer rules so hard. These are the amazing mamas who generously provide you with entire wardrobes at any given time. I love these women! I love the unexpected Christmas in July, when a giant trash bag of cute (often times brand name) clothes appear on our front step. And it feels just as good to return the favor to other families. This is one of those unspoken exchanges that go on in the mom world, and I am ever so grateful for this.

5. The Back-patter

Let’s time travel again for a bit, back to when I was a brand new mom. I vividly remember talking to other moms purely for moral support and hearing the words, “You’re doing a great job”. Simple words, right? Those words literally stopped me dead in my tracks. They were the best words I had ever heard. Those words allowed me to breath for a minute. I needed those words, and didn’t even realize it. Those words are our code.

Most likely those moms had heard those exact words just at the time they needed to hear them, too. Those moms knew I needed a verbal pat on the back, and provided just that at just the right moment. I am thankful that I was taught that early on. It helped me pat myself on the back, when no one else was there to do it.

6. The Baby Holder

I love the moms who want to hold your baby for you. I love them. A few minutes to go pee by yourself, to eat a sandwich, to do the dishes, etc can be life-changing in that moment. So thank you, moms, who have ever offered to occupy my child for me for any amount of time.

7. The Mama in Need

The mama in need is the mama who saves my sanity. You know what feels even better than being helped? Helping someone else. At least that has been my experience.

When I get to utilize all of the wonderful things that other moms have taught me along the way, I feel a part of this incredible mama community. I feel useful. I feel like a real mom.

It is a give-and-take system. And while we may not always see eye-to-eye on hot-button topics, we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. I appreciate all of the mamas out there, whether you vaccinate or don’t, cloth diaper or don’t, breast feed or don’t, co-sleep or don’t, spank or don’t, etc, etc. At the end of the day, you are doing a great job.

xo, Emily

DIY Challenge – Day 2: Painted Feathers

Hi guys! Today’s DIY craft was originally going to be ‘dipped’ feathers. But like most projects, it evolved in to something else. I am most likely going to create some sort of a garland with these cutie-feathers, and for that, I may post a tutorial (through my own trial and error). Also, these are smaller feathers (leftover from Ayden’s Birthday party). Next time I would probably use bigger feathers. (At the bottom of this post, I have included photos of how I re-purposed the feathers from Ayden’s party.)

Before I post my photos, I just want to say something about this DIY challenge. So today I wasn’t really feeling like crafting. I had a headache and I was feeling tired. Everything in me was saying ‘Ayden is napping! Go lay down!!’ But then I thought about some of the other people participating in this challenge, especially this bad-ass mama, brewed some coffee and got down to business. Being accountable to you, saved the day! The other thing I want to say about this challenge, is that forcing myself to create everyday, is sparking even more creativity. I am suddenly overflowing with ideas, and projects and I feel really inspired. Anyway, I wanted to share that. I will leave you with this rad Maya Angelou quote, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have”.

Painted Feather DIY

diy6.jpgI couldn't part with these sparkly, glittery feathers, so I put them in an old honey jar (which was a favor from a friend's wedding), and put them on my desk so I could enjoy them every day.

I couldn’t part with these sparkly, glittery feathers, so I put them in an old honey jar (which was a favor from a friend’s wedding), and put them on my desk so I could enjoy them every day.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Emily