Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vegan-ish Oatmeal Cookies - 3 Ways

I occasionally check in over at Daily Garnish, and recently read the recipe for these Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Normally, vegan recipes require ingredients that aren't in my pantry (as we're not vegan), but I was eager to try these because I knew we would have all of the ingredients on hand.  You see, even though I rarely purchase bananas, they always, always, end up getting too ripe before they are eaten.  And this recipe calls for a ripe banana - apparently as an alternative to egg.  (By the way, this recipe is a guest post by Madison, who also has ripe bananas on hand.)

Miss M and I mixed them up earlier today, and since we had plenty of bananas on hand (I'm not a fan of banana bread) I went ahead and doubled the recipe.  Then, when it was time to add the mix-ins, we split the cookie dough into thirds and turned two batches of dough into three varieties of cookies.  I let Miss M choose, and we ended up with walnut-chocolate chip, walnut-craisin, and craisin-chocolate chip. 

They haven't been out of the oven long, and I think we've already eaten close to a half-dozen.  While the banana flavor is noticeable, I think it might be less so once the cookies cool.  I'll let you know.  Either way, they are delicious.

Ours aren't completely vegan.  I didn't use vegan chocolate chips.  Also, since I washed it down with a glass of milk....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

 As this year comes to a close,

 may you celebrate the joys of the season

surrounded by family and friends.


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How Dave Ramsey Ruined Christmas for Me

Four years ago come January, we began attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University through our church.  Just a few weeks into the 13 weeks of lessons, I became pretty well convicted listening to Dave discuss all of the "stuff" we have and how it really owns us.  I realized that I had (and still do have) waaaaay more than I need.  So there's not a lot that I want.  I mean, sure, I want stuff.  But when I get to thinking about whether or not I really need it, the want just seems to disappear.  So it's kind of hard for me to give my family ideas when they ask me what I want for Christmas.  I mean really hard.  Let me give you a couple of examples....

Things on my Want List (and justification of why I don't need them):
  • KitchenAid Stand Mixer (no room on the kitchen counter, my hand mixer does just fine, I prefer to mix many things by hand, and my bread machine tackles the toughest mixing job I can think of)
  • Hammocks for camping trips (we have camp chairs that work just fine, we could bike/hike instead of hanging from trees all day, I can be lazy on my own couch)
  • A 50mm lens for my camera (um, can't think of any reason except the price - so I guess you could say it's the thing I really do want!)
  • Some new hair clips/barrettes (but the ones I have still work, so what if they are a little scratched, who is paying that much attention to my hair clips?)  Well, scratch that.  Another side effect of working the envelope system - there's actually money to accommodate some of the 'wants' even when it's not a holiday or birthday.  So I bought them.
  • iTunes gift card - I love getting new apps for my phone, and maybe a little music, too.  (But I would really be just fine with what I already have.  I usually get education apps for the kids anyway.)
  • Gift cards for Chick-Fil-A, Jimmy John's, or a couple of our local coffee shops.  (This is totally a luxury - I love to eat out!  In fact, a part of my blow money goes towards an almost-every-week lunch with a friend.)
Also, when I think about what I really want, it's most often things for our family or just more time spent together.  We have a tent so we can go camping.  We have bicycles so we can go for rides together.  We go to local events not because we are required to be there, but because it can be a fun way to spend time together.  We hang out with friends - other families - when we can.  And we eat out with friends on Sunday after church - because they are our "local" family.

So what's on my real wish list?  Well, I'm an Acts of Service person, so I value time over stuff.  For example, I love it when the trash gets emptied - and gets a new liner - without having to ask someone to do it.  Laundry folded and put away?  Woo-ee!  My least-favorite task, emptying the dishwasher, done for me?  Oh, my, that is a treat like no other!  (For real!)

For many people, "time" doesn't really count as a gift.  I know this.  But imagine sound of me laughing heartily, if you can - because I'm surprised by the realization that we are, truly, weird.  But that's ok, because we are happier than ever.

And Dave, if you are reading this, you didn't really ruin Christmas for me.  It's better.  I'm much more thoughtful about the gifts we give, and we are also doing more giving to those that need it (Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army Stockings, and we even look for other ways that we can bless those around us).  So thank you - for making our family happy, our marriage stronger, and helping me step away from the madness that can surround the holidays.  I'm looking forward to a calm and peaceful holiday.

Merry Christmas!

ETA:  I thought of a few more things... (yes, I'm finding it a little funny...)
REI Kingdom 6 Garage (it's on clearance!)
And to use it to its full potential, you need a set of adjustable tent/trekking poles... (I have no idea how to choose one set of these over another, but these seem about mid-priced with a great review, and on clearance!)
Camp towels! And maybe some smaller cloths to use as washcloths?  Probably need something that dries quickly for our camping vacation next year.
The camping version of this game looks like fun!
I love Words With Friends on the iPhone, so a non-electric travel version of Scrabble would be fun!

And, yes - these are all things that our family would share.  And some folks would say towels are "too practical" - but if it's Christmas, don't you get to choose what you want?  I know that doesn't always mean you get it, though, as Miss M has asked for a zebra.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Random Ramblings

Only my mind works this way....
- I can figure out a puzzle on Wheel of Fortune with only 4 letters in place
- I can answer the Final Jeopardy! question about a sci-fi movie when I'm not even a sci-fi fan (unlike the other 75% of our household)
- And then this....  While starting a load of jeans, I decide to wash the pair I'm wearing.  So I take them off in front of the washer (this part is important).  When moving the load to the dryer, I realize that my jeans are not in the load.  What?!?  That's right, I took them off standing in the laundry room yet did not put them in the washer.  Yep, that's me - the easily-distracted one. 

"I Can't Believe She Said That" moment of the day - #1
While playing a video game with her brother - one in which the car you control shoots exhaust/fire at other cars: "Taste my hotness!" 
I suppose it's the fire version of 'eat my dust'?

"I Can't Believe She Said That" moment of the day #2
To her brother - "You know, you really make me mad a lot!" 
So glad she's expressing herself, but it still makes me giggle because I know that she loves him a lot!

M has always been a little dramatic, but lately the drama/attitude has been increasing.  Although it's challenging, I sometimes find it hard to keep a straight face.  She's only five, but sometimes she sounds soo much older!

Made Me Smile Moment:
After J went to bed, I sat down to finalize some of the plans for his birthday and send out a few email invites.  When I realized - due to some scheduling details - that our plans would have to be adjusted a bit, I was worried about J being disappointed.  I scooted back upstairs to do a quick check-in with him before he fell asleep (really needed to get emails out tonight!).  I explained that part of the plan might have to change, and suggested an alternative.  The darkness of his room could not hide his excitement.  Even better - the thank-you that I got when I told J that I have an email address for someone new to his class this year.  He was so worried he would not be able to invite his new friend (since we aren't supposed to hand out invites at school).  For as often as I have to be the homework/rule/schedule enforcer, it sure was nice to spend a few moments talking about something really exciting!

I'm in an exercise slump lately.  Even though I'm volunteer coaching with the same program I used to train with, I'm just not loving running right now.  I enjoy bike riding, but seriously need to get some appropriate gear (read: shorts with the appropriate cushioning for trail riding...) before I do much more of that.  I'm also hoping to purchase a new-to-us bike trailer for M, who is a reluctant rider.  I hear they can be challenging to tow, but it's either that or no family rides until she's more confident.  With days like today (high near 70!), I don't want to waste the opportunity to get outside and get moving.  We won't have many more days like this for a while!

I love Thanksgiving.  I don't like that so many stores and homes have their Christmas decorations up already.  It seems we practically ignore this holiday.  I know - it's just not a retail-heavy holiday, so stores are looking ahead to the next money-maker.   Perhaps I'm also a little sensitive since there's a December birthday in this family, so I want to give that celebration the attention it deserves, too (though J did ask last year why we were so late decorating for Christmas). 

If you're still reading - wow.  And thanks!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Love!

Y'all.  I have fallen in love with Pinterest

Oh, my, the recipes I want to try!  From breakfast to lunch box ideas to dinner and all sorts of other yummies.  Oh, my, the crafts I want to make!  Some to give away for Christmas gifts.  Party ideas, quotes I like, ways to reuse things, books to read, my camping wish list.... 

Today I cleaned my kitchen - a real good, scrub the stove cleaning.  And, sorry, but it already doesn't look like that any more.  You see, when I have a nice, clean kitchen - and especially a shiny stove - I get the urge to cook.  And cook.  And....  You get the idea.  And thanks to Pinterest, I tried two new recipes tonight.  (I love trying new recipes!)

Here's what was on my list this evening:
Chicken Nuggets - these were supposed to be like eating the Christian Chicken at home.  Not quite, but the kids still enjoyed them.  Mister J at at least a dozen! 
Comeback Sauce - this is some tasty stuff!  I had to sub sriracha for the chili sauce, so only used 1/2 of the amount called for.  And onion flakes instead of powder.  I figure once it's had time for all of the flavors to marry, it won't really matter so much.  After just an hour, it tasted so good!  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in my house who will eat this, so I'm glad it works on everything!
Pepperoni Roll Ups - these are for tomorrow's lunch boxes.  J can reheat because there's a microwave in the cafeteria in his building.  M will just have to eat hers at room temp. 

All of those recipes were found on Pinterest!  I also made ranch dressing a sweet tea, but those are recipes we use so much that I know them by heart.  (Can one actually have a 'recipe' for sweet tea?  I just make it without really thinking about it!)

So, what's next?  I'm going to try new recipes, of course, but I'm also excited about making some plans for Christmas gifting.  Since Thanksgiving comes next, though, and it's my favorite holiday, I might hold off a bit on the crafting (if possible).  And then there's a special kid's birthday coming up, too.  I'll be searching Pinterest for ideas, once he decides what he wants to do!

If y'all aren't on Pinterest yet, I'm happy to send you an invite.  Just let me know you want one - and make sure I have your email address!  If you are already on Pinterest, come and find me!  That link above goes directly to my boards.  Happy Pinning!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rhino Project, and then Colorado!

J turned in his first "big" project today - a written report and a diorama about the white rhinoceros.  If I could figure out how photos are organized on this new-to-me laptop, I'd upload one of the proud 2nd grader with his diorama (complete with adult rhino munching grass on the savanna, in front of some trees and a lovely sunset).

Now it's M's turn to complete a 'report' (they can be creative, making a poster, book, etc.) about Colorado.  I'm not quite sure why she picked it, but she perked up quite a bit when we heard stories about Colorado on the news last night.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Well, not really....  We have about 8 weekends where we have plans (other than stay-at-home, family time), and this just happened to be one of the busiest!

The boys were at a Parent-Son Campout with Cub Scouts.  I attended a photography workshop with a friend.  And thanks to those two out-of-town events, my parents-in-law came to hang out with M.

I missed the boys like crazy, but it was totally worth it because they had a great time!

BB Shooting


 Every shot hit the target!

Boulder Room and Rock Climbing Wall


Big J tried this one out - and made it to the top!

Fishing

Apparently, a big hit!

Food

Baked chicken and baked potatoes with all the fixings for Saturday dinner.  
Hotdogs and mac and cheese for the kids. 

And that's just what the boys did!

I attended a fantastic photography workshop and learned how to use my DSLR in manual mode!  I went with a friend, which made it even more enjoyable.  Now that I know a little more about what I'm doing, I want to try out my dad's old SLR.  That's right - a film camera!  I'd love to see what kind of results I could get now that I understand what I'm doing just a little more.

Miss M was not left out of the fun.  Although she was just hanging around at home - which wasn't a bad idea since she spent 3 days out of school last week - she was also getting undivided attention from the grandparents!  They played inside, they played outside, and they even got treats from the ice cream truck!  No, I'm sure she wasn't spoiled at all.... 

Huge thanks to the grands for helping make this busy weekend possible!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Running in the Rain

A tweet from this morning:

Resisted the lure of drive-thru coffee this morning. In favor of going running. This is big.

I dropped the kids of at school, actually drove past the place where I was going to buy an iced vanilla coffee, and kept going.  I went home, changed into my running clothes, grabbed my iPod and my Garmin, and walked out the front door.  It was sprinkling, but there wasn't that stuffy kind of humidity - the temperature is finally dropping around here.  I did a short walk to warm up, and off I went. 

I ran intervals for 2 miles, keeping up my pace until I got a little warm (I wore a long-sleeved short thinking I might get cold in the rain - should've stuck with layers with a short sleeve underneath).  I used a shorter rest interval than the 5K training program is using right now.  I'm a volunteer coach/mentor, so I sort of feel like I need to be a step ahead!  My pace wasn't great today, but even my best pace isn't as fast as the other volunteer coaches.  That means I'll be working with the slowest pace group - fine by me!  My pace suffered over the summer when it was too hot to run : /  Hopefully, I'll be back to my personal best pace soon.  

Things I loved about my run today:
It was so peaceful to run in the rain - perhaps because most other folks decided against going out in the rain!  I've run in the rain a few times - and today was not the hardest rain I've been out in - and I love it. 
I ran past a house in the neighborhhod adjoining ours.  I said hello to the gentleman out front, and he actually said hello back and asked how I was doing!  I said good and asked how he was doing - he was also fine, thanked me for asking, and then said I was "hard core out running in the rain."  Total ego boost!  As I was running by his house at the time, that was about the end of the conversation - but dude was also pretty hard core himself - washing his car in the rain!  Ha!
I rocked at crunches in my post-run core work.

Things I didn't love about my run today:
Dressed too warmly.
Couldn't stick to intervals near the end.
I did not rock at plank and push-ups in my post-run core work.

Always room for improvement - small goals!  But hey - I'm (back) out there, and it feels great!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two great tips

First tip - from my FB status today:
"Reply" does not equal "Forward" - and mistaking one for the other often equals embarrassment.

Oh, yeah - it was a doozy.  I'm not ready to talk about it.

Second tip: 
If I'm doing a load of laundry at night, especially after the kids are in bed, I turn off the chimes on the washer and dryer and also close the door to the laundry room.  So that I don't completely forget about the load that's in there, I leave the light on.  When I come upstairs at night, I notice that the light in the laundry room is on, and that's a (quiet) reminder to me that there's laundry to be dryed/hung up/folded. 

In other news - it's not 90 degrees here anymore!  Yay!  To celebrate, I laced up my sneakers and went for a run today after a most-of-the-summer hiatus.  And then I ate Doritos for lunch.  I'm not proud of that last bit.

So, what's happening in your world? 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lunch Box Challenge, Week 1

 

The challenge for this first week was about re-establishing routine.  
I used to have a great routine – the first year I was packing lunches for my kids. I did a lot of the prep the night before. Now, into the third year of lunch-packing, I’m so tired after cooking and cleaning up and getting the kids to bed (hubs a lot of evening work hours), that I’m just to tired to think about doing MORE stuff with food. But I do think it made our mornings run more smoothly. 

One thing that has improved over time - I try to take care of any lunch leftovers in the afternoon. It’s not very popular with my kids, but when they get home and start saying, “I’m hungry!” we just take a look in the lunch boxes and see what’s salvageable! I take into consideration what has been at room temperature for too long, and I also use it as a guide for what/how much I should be packing in the kids’ lunches. But I also use it as a lesson in not being wasteful.

Coming up in week 2 - tips on streamlining the process.  Happiest Mom has 4 to pack for, and I'm only packing for 2,  so I'm sure she'll have some great tips to share!

Ten Years Later...

...And only today did I learn about the Pentagon Memorial.  I saw it on tv while I had some of the news coverage of the anniversary playing this afternoon.

As I read some blog posts today, I discovered that I am not the only one who didn't realize this memorial existed.  Start here, and then be sure the click the link through to her previous post for photos and descriptions.  I think it's one of the most striking and beautiful memorials I've ever seen.  The benches remind me of birds, and looking at the photos gives me such a sense of peace. 
More information about the Pentagon Memorial

Several bloggers have linked back to prior posts today.  Another very moving post about September 11th, 2001, was written on the 5th anniversary.  I cannot even imagine the pain of not knowing, of waiting.  Nor can I imagine the relief, amidst the other personal pain, of finally getting the answer for which you had hoped.

This particular blogger is feeling some added personal pain on this September 11th.  I don't link to her recent post to point that out - but I do think it's important to note that the anniversary continues to have a significant impact on her.  To understand her perspective a bit better, I hope that you will also choose to read her past post.  I find it interesting that while she mentioned feeling like she wanted to start a family, I remember wondering if I would ever want to start a family in a world so horribly broken.  Thankfully, I changed my mind.

Updated 9/19/11
Just saw this video on another blog.  (Linking to it via youtube so you can also share, if you choose).