Trash Your House (and make an engineer)!

Portland, Maine – Well let’s just chalk this up to one of the ten thousand things I swore I would never do when I had kids. But here we are.  We taped our trash to the walls. And it was awesome. For someone who used to iron her guest bedroom sheets, this is huge.

Trash Engineering Run

Some cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, toilet paper rolls, and duct tape transformed the recycling bin into an engineering and math extravaganza.  We used all of these materials to make a ball maze. It was fun.

Running a golf ball through the trash obstacle course

This is a project that captured the attention of both my 2-year-old and 5-year-old.

White Ball flies through the track

Once the boys had each piece exactly where they wanted it, we held time trials.

STEM activity up cycling

Which ball completed the course the fastest? We used a wooden lemon, a golf ball, a puffy craft thing and a ball made up of aluminum foil. We timed them and noted the results in a chart.

Trash Time trial results

The wall was our canvas. But I have seen other people use giant pieces of cardboard or a sliding glass door. This turned out to be a great opportunity to prepare little minds for concepts like gravitational pull and the relationship between weight and speed. I’m not saying I’m going to win a home decorating award with this one. But maybe one day my boys will marvel at how we taped our trash to the walls when they were little!

Enjoy,

Anna

Toddler Take-Aways and Preschool Perks

  1. Fine motor skills
  2. Engineering
  3. Physics
  4. Math
  5. Technology
  6. Science
  7. Upcycling
  8. Problem solving
  9. Fun!

Maine Maple Sunday

Pure Maine Maple SyrupPortland, Maine – The first sign of spring in Maine is NOT daffodils… it’s sap. Taps and buckets start appearing on maple trees everywhere. And then steam rises from the wood fired sugar houses.

Maine Maple Sunday Tours

And the best part of all… these amazing smelling sugar shacks open their doors to the public to celebrate the sap flow. They call it Maine Maple Sunday, the 4th Sunday in March. A map shows you which producers are welcoming maple fans.

It’s a great chance to teach the kiddos about the whole process and to learn a thing or two myself. Factoids like… it takes 40 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of syrup.

Most farms offer tours of their barns, a chance for your children to meet farm animals. Some producers offer carriage or sleigh rides. And all of the participating farms offer a maple syrup tasting, usually on pancakes.

If you want to give your children a hand’s on experience with maple syrup making, Pineland Farms offers a children’s sugaring program. Click here for more information.

No where near a sap producing maple and still want to learn more? Curious George can help. PBS offers an entire episode (Maple Monkey Madness) on the process of boiling down sap into syrup. There is a book to match.

13 months into my Maine life,  I can tell you maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. It’s a teaspoon in your morning coffee. It’s a drizzle atop crostini with arugula, pear, and a young pecorino. It’s a dollop on bacon wrapped scallops just before you slide them into the oven. It’s everywhere. And this coming weekend, you can buy it in bulk.

Maine Maple Syrup Jugs

In the Maine, sap is flowing. Spring is here. Thank God.

Enjoy!

Anna

Toddler Take-Away and Preschool Perks

  1. Exploring the world
  2. Science and Nature Fun
  3. Kitchen Science
  4. Math
  5. Connecting food to environment
  6. Old Fashioned Fresh Air

Enjoy Every Second – Why I finally know what they’re talking about

Portland, Maine – You know, in the dead of winter, here in Maine, leaving the house is often an exercise in emotional torture. It takes 30 to 45 minutes and the clock resets itself with every “I gotta pee!” or poopy diaper. And it usually ends in raised voices, deep breathing exercises, or tears.

You can imagine what goes through my mind when we finally leave the house and someone sees my boys and comes up to me and whispers, “Enjoy every second.”

Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea what we just went through? Have you  forgotten what it’s like to never pee by yourself? Have you blocked out what your mouth smelled like after a couple of days of not seeing a toothbrush? Don’t you remember what your hands looked like after changing a 2-year-old’s poop filled diaper when a temper tantrum strikes… in the middle of it? Do you mean enjoy those seconds, too?

Just last week, I was dressing the children for 16 degree weather in an effort to leave the house. It’s not like I was taking them to get a root canal. No, our destination was the children’s museum. Voices were raised. Deep breathing commenced. Everyone was near tears. And then my phone rang. I glanced quickly to see who was calling.

I froze.

I stopped what I was doing. I looked at my phone again. I did NOT answer. Because I knew immediately. I can’t tell you why. I just felt it. I knew what was about to happen. I knew what was about to be said. I knew immediately that one of my dearest friends was dead.

Just nine years ago, we planned out the rest of our lives while on a girls’ weekend. We giggled about the possibilities. Would I become a mother? Would she take her equestrian dream to the Olympics? Would her sweet daughters follow in her footsteps? Could there eventually be a PhD in our midst? The world was full of possibilities. We were blissfully unaware that time was slipping away.

Grief is like walking in the ocean. A wave of  sadness washes over you and then another and another. And it was during one of those waves that I finally understood what those enjoy-every-second people really mean. Have you ever looked at the people who say that? Not a single one of them is in their 20s. They are not in their 30s. It starts with the 40-somethings. But these words are mostly spoken by folks in their 50s, 60s and older. They have lived long enough to know. They get it. They already know what I just experienced: We’re not all going to make it to the finish line. Every moment we have here is a gift.

No, EVERY SECOND.

Even when you are encasing a screaming child into a snowsuit with the skill of an origami master. Even when you are covered in vomit, pee, poop, or who knows what. Even when you are sure you’ve had enough (and your kids feel the same way).

You are still here. And so are they.

So I’m whispering to you, “Enjoy every second of it.”

Because all of this is so fragile and so truly dear.

Anna

Boredom Buster: Window Paint

Boredom Buster: Paint BagsPortland, Maine – Want a colorful way to drive boredom from your house? We do! And, to tell you the truth, with the bitter arctic cold we’ve experienced this winter, I’m taking every chance I get to change our perspective on spending another day inside.

All you need is some paint, freezer bags and tape. I poured two gobs of paint into each bag (roughly two tablespoons each).

Yellow and Blue Make Green

Seal the bag and tape it to the window.

To teach color mixing, I put yellow and blue in one and red and blue in another. I also put like colors together. This a great opportunity to talk about words like ‘hue’ and ‘gradation.’ There are tons of variations to be explored here.

Writing with paint bags

As open-ended play, this activity doesn’t last long (at least with my munchkins). But when you add layers to the activity, they see it in a different way. So we held spelling and writing challenges. You can even “draw” by moving the paint around.

This adds a lot of color to a winter day!

mixing color fun

COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA:

  1. Resist the urge to get fancy. I added sugar to one bag for a little sun sparkle. Didn’t take long for the grainy texture to create pin sized holes in the bag. You can guess how that turned out!
  2. Make sure your children’s nails are trimmed and filed….(not that I learned the hard way : )

Enjoy!

Anna

TODDLER TAKE AWAYS AND PRESCHOOL PERKS:

  1. Color Mixing
  2. Color recognition
  3. Sensory Activity
  4. Literacy
  5. Writing Practice
  6. Fine motor skills
  7. Early Science Skills

Happy Valentine’s Day to Chocolate Lovers Everywhere

Mamawa's Best Ever Chocolate Cake

Portland, Maine – The backdoor of Mamawa’s house led right to the heart of our family: the kitchen. There waiting for you on any given day was Mamawa’s Best Ever Chocolate Cake. You couldn’t help but gasp or smile or make a bee-line to the kitchen counter the moment you smelled the sugar.

All it takes for me to go back there… is to bake this cake myself. I know now why she smiled as we devoured it. Because I smile, too, when my children and husband lose their minds the minute that chocolatey smell wafts through the house.

When I was first a reporter in Utica, New York, I was invited to a cook out. I had no idea what to bring, but I knew I’d bring something because as my Memphis-born grandmother always said, “Anna, you don’t ever show up to someone’s house with your arms swinging!” I called Mamawa immediately for help. She dictated this recipe to me over the phone. I attentively and carefully wrote down every ingredient, every instruction.

It was one of the last conversations we had.

And so every time I grab that same sheet of paper to read the recipe, I find myself standing in one of my first apartments listening carefully to my grandmother. I hear her voice teaching me how to make a cake that will bring her great grandchildren so much joy many years later.

Enjoying Mamawa's Chocolate Cake Recipe

Mamawa was a chocolate lover. Valentine’s Day is Mamawa’s day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to Mamawa and may all of you bless your families with some of her cooking.

Enjoy!

Anna

Mamawa’s Best Ever Chocolate Cake

Cake Ingredients:

  1. 2 Cups of Sugar
  2. 2 Cups of Flour
  3. 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda
  4. 1 Stick of Butter
  5. 3 Tablespoons of powered cocoa
  6. 1/2 Cup of oil
  7. 1 Cup of water
  8. 2 eggs (or egg replacer)
  9. 1 Teaspoon of vanilla
  10. 1/2 Cup of Buttermilk

Frosting Ingredients:

  1. 1 Stick of Butter
  2. 3 Tablespoons of powdered cocoa
  3. 1/3 Cup of milk
  4. 1 box of powdered sugar (16 oz)
  5. 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
  6. 1 Cup of chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cake Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix sugar, flour, and baking soda and set aside
  3. Put butter, cocoa, and water in sauce pan and bring to a boil
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients
  5. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla
  6. Pour into greased 9 x 13 cake pan or casserole dish
  7. Bake in oven at 375 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Instructions for Frosting

  1. Place butter, cocoa, and milk into a sauce pan and boil
  2. Turn down heat
  3. Add confectioner’s sugar and mix
  4. Add vanilla
  5. Stir in nuts
  6. Pour over hot cake

This recipe can be easily customized. Over the holidays, we added thin mints to the frosting for a peppermint flavor. It was delicious.

Finding Science in Snowflakes

Snow filled wood at Ft. Williams Park Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Portland, Maine –  This winter has brought some fantastic snowfall. And more is coming! But I must confess, we’ve gone sledding, snowman building, snow angel making, and even thought about building an igloo. But even with all of this snow, we never actually looked at it. I mean really looked at it.

But this book changed that. The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson. And it deserves a spot on your shelf, too. This nonfiction children’s book is told with the wonder of your favorite picture books. And it’s packed with fascinating snow facts that I enjoyed learning just as much as my munchkins did.

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonders

After seeing the amazing photographs of snow crystals and after learning that six is a snowflake’s magic number, we held a cookie sheet (covered in black construction paper) outside to catch snowflakes for close inspection. (Note: following the author’s directions, we put our cookie sheet outside and under shelter for 10 minutes to make it cold enough for catching snow.)

We used a pocket microscope to examine our snowflakes.

We used a pocket microscope to examine our snowflakes. The author suggests a magnifying glass which is a great idea!

Judging by my 4-year-old’s reaction, he’ll never look at falling snow the same way. And neither will I!

Tips: The back of the book has instructions for catching and examining snow crystals. That said, suit up and do this science project outside as opposed to opening the window. You’ll have longer to examine the crystals before they melt.

Enjoy!

Anna

TODDLER TAKE AWAYS AND PRESCHOOL PERKS

  1. Science Investigation
  2. Math Concepts
  3. Familiarization with scientific tools
  4. Fun with nature
  5. Time with you!

Valentine Craft that’s Fun, Easy and (dare I say it) Even Pretty!

Tissue Paper Valentine

Time to dig through your recycling bin. This craft is easily made with bits of tissue paper, cardboard, ribbon, paint, and glue.

Grab your munchkins and you’ll have this Valentine decor ready to display in no time at all.

Paint your hearts. We cut ours out of cardboard boxes. Cereal boxes will work well, too.

Painted Cardboard Heart

Once the paint is dry, cover one side of the heart with glue.

Cardboard heart covered with glue

Now take tiny bits of tissue paper. Crunch them up (an activity your toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy) and mash them onto the heart. Repeat.

Apply Tissue Paper to Heart

Tissue Paper Heart DecorOnce they are dry, you’ll need a hole puncher to make one opening at top  of the heart and another at the bottom. Thread some ribbon through the holes and hang. BEAUTIFUL!

Wouldn’t it be fun to try this project with letter cut outs? Your preschoolers can arrange the letters to spell LOVE or CUPID or any of the other great Valentine’s Day words. We might just give that a try this week!

A note for parents working out of the home: This project can be broken down into three evening activities. Paint your hearts the first night. Glue and apply tissue paper the second night. String with ribbon and hang the third night. Short and simple!

Preschool Perks and Toddler Take Aways:

  1. Sensory activity
  2. Shape and color recognition
  3. Fine motor control
  4. Upcycle activity
  5. Time with you!

Enjoy!

Anna

Boredom Buster: Treasure Hunt

Pirateology-our inspirationPortland, Maine – I don’t know if you’ve been following our weather lately. But like a faithful metronome, we oscillate between windchill 28 below and 46 above. Either it’s unsafe to leave the house or it’s raining so hard that huge chunks of ice floating by also make it tricky to play outside with my munchkin men.

If you need a boredom buster for your house, too. Try this!

We stumbled upon an awesome find at the bookstore, PIRATEOLOGY. My four-year-old is convinced a pirate left it there by mistake. And once you open this book, you’ll wonder, too. It’s filled with letters written in pirate code, envelopes to be opened, a touch-and-feel bag of gold, pieces of treasure map and an encyclopedia’s worth of factoids and lore.

Burned edges of pirate map

And that inspired us to make a pirate map of our own, complete with burned edges. We cut out a panel of a grocery bag. I burned the edges over the sink. Grocery bags catch fire a little quicker than I anticipated. Needless to say, my kids do not get to help with the fire bit. They can only watch.

Next, we take a wet sponge and dampen the pirate letter to give it a weathered appearance.

Before we draw our map and mark it with the ‘x’, get your matey to hide the treasure. We used an old jewelry box filled with mostly foreign coins.

Coins as treasure

Now have your pirates draw the map and put the ‘x’ where the treasure is hidden.

Drawing the pirate map

Time to hunt for treasure!

Treasure Hunter

This was fun for all of us and a great boredom buster! This is an entertaining way to bring books to life. Want to add other pirate adventures to your day? Check out our blog on building a pirate ship out of cardboard boxes.

Enjoy,

Anna

Preschool Perks and Toddler Take Aways

  1. Imaginative Play
  2. Spatial Memory
  3. Cartography (the art of map making)
  4. Expressing spatial relationships
  5. Fine motor control
  6. Literacy

Upcycle: Be Mine, Holiday Cards!

Upcycled Valentine

Portland, Maine – I guess it’s a week after Christmas when I think of an old friend I’ll call Sally. Sally told me that every year, she takes everyone’s holiday cards and puts them in an album. What a respectful thing to do, especially when you consider the thought, time, and expense spent on holiday greetings. I look at the stack of wonderful well wishes we received, the family photographs, and then I face the facts–my children’s baby books are not finished yet. I’ll never get these put into an album. GUILT. GUILT. GUILT.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THEM? UPCYCLE!

With a nearly 5-year-old roaming these halls, our world is all about words. Read them, write them, repeat (for the foreseeable future).

So here’s a great way to support your preschooler in their quest to conquer the language and upcycle those beautiful holiday greetings into Valentine’s Cards!

Take your stack of cards. Grab a pair of scissors and cut out the words.

Holiday Cards in need of new life

Add construction paper, markers, ribbon, glue sticks and anything else you can find.

Holiday words for Valentines

Next let your word-smith-to-be put together the words to make Valentine wishes. And there is something sort of fun about taking well wishes and transforming them into Valentines.

Upcycled Valentine Cards

Enjoy!

Anna

PreSchool Perks

  1. Fine Motor Control
  2. Increase Vocabulary
  3. Sight Word Exposure and recognition
  4. Mixed Media Art
  5. A great primer in the art of showing love!

Reading Leaves

ImagePortland, Maine – Nothing like combining reading and writing with a great big adventure!  The falling leaves give us a great opportunity to find lots of words in the woods. Here’s what we are using to capture them!

A DECOMPOSITION BOOK –  I’m so glad we stumbled upon this decomposition book. It’s the perfect field journal for C to write down his observations and some of the new woodsy words we discover.

IN OUR BACKPACK, We also have a Tree Fandex. It’s the world’s coolest tree identification guide.

Tree Fandex

But the best part is, the sturdy pages are leaf-shaped for easy matching.

Identifying leaves

As soon as I pulled the guide out, the boys immediately started matching leaves on the ground to the leaves in the guide. I found this at an online Montessori store. You are going to love it.

Leaf lamination

We brought some of our adventure back home! Using the boys’  beautiful fall leaf collection along with a piece of birch bark, we matched the leafs to the correct label. Then we laminated them. If you don’t have a lamination machine (at lot less expensive then I ever imagined), you can press them between wax paper. Then, simply staple them into your journal.

Sentence Scramble for Preschoolers

No more leaves on your trees? Try this craft using crayons to recreate them.

TwoTeachingMommies offers free leaf themed printable activities. This pack includes an activity which teaches preschoolers the different parts of leaves.

We found another fun freebie at TeachersPayTeachers (I could go on and on about that website.)

It’s a sentence scramble. Perfect for preschoolers who are trying their hand at writing and recognizing sight words. The fall theme includes scarecrows, pumpkins, leaves, etc.

TeachersPayTeachers is full of creative resources developed by educators. And no one is paying me to say that.

Back in the woods, all of that leaf identification and running around can make you hungry. So while siting and eating our snack, we had a little story time. It was tremendous fun to bring our stories into the woods. It has a way of connecting the story to the environment around us. Two of our favorite fall books are Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein and  A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen.

Wherever your fall exploration takes you, Enjoy!

Anna

Toddler Take-Aways

  • Good ol’ fashioned exercise
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Science and Nature Fun
  • Vocabulary building

In the leaf pile!

Can You Hear Us Now?

WARNING: To my southern aunts (the keepers of all that is proper and right as taught by my dear grandmother, Mamawa) Save yourself; Stop reading NOW!

Portland, Maine – “Woo! Woo! Woo!” yells my almost 2-year-old so loudly you wonder if you can still hear. Until–

“The fire truck, Deedah!” shouts his brother, “The FIRE TRUCK! We have to get it! We have to!” Desperate, my 4-year-old repeats himself ad infinitum. He stops only when the car is parked and he is safely strapped into the fire truck grocery cart at Whole Foods. Thank God, there are seats for two.

At the same time, another family pushes a police car grocery cart. Two parents and two children about the same ages as ours. But they are girls. They are quiet. They do not move. They just smile. They look around. The. Whole. Time.

My husband sheepishly pushes the boys right past them. Our cart is not quiet. No, it is a virtual rolling cacophony of fake fart noises, loud singing, and songs sung again using the forearm fart sound as an instrument. It’s punctuated with belly laughs and bigger efforts to make the next one louder and longer. All while Michael tries to remember our grocery list simultaneously apologizing to anyone within earshot of our cart.

And the timing is perfect because they meet those precious little angels in every aisle. It’s the fart cart verses the rolling example of how children should behave in public.  And when I hear all about it, I can’t talk because I’m crying from laughing so hard.

One day I’ll hear from other Moms how their Sally or Amelia could not believe how well-mannered my son was on their date. One day, my sons will impress college recruiters. One day, they will not need me to quiet them with whispered threats in a church service. One day, I will humiliate them at their rehearsal dinners with these stories (and somehow the audience will not be able to imagine them as true). One day, I will walk through the grocery store in peace–by myself. The whole time, I’ll wonder if my boys are eating well wherever their adult lives have taken them. And I could just about cry at the thought of it. Because this will be over.

Even when I am cutting my 4-year-old’s hair and he shouts, “The hair hurts me! It hurts me! Help!” And he says it over and over again until I hear a sucking noise that sends a chill up my spine. Because that sucking noise can only mean one thing. The baby that was playing with a towel on the floor… has dipped it in the toilet and is sucking it dry! Even then, I am charmed by the outrageousness of the journey. Outrageous… and funny.

I have never been so deeply moved as I have as a mother. And that part, Mamawa would be very proud of.

Enjoy!

Anna

Me:Mamma:Age2

Mamawa and my dad

Gain Five Pounds the Easy Way

Standard Baking Company

Portland, Maine – Want to gain five pounds? Want to enjoy every bite of that journey? Done! Eat here EVERY WEEK…One of the joys of living in Portland, Maine – Standard Baking Company.

croissants at Standard Baking Company

This French bakery is across the street from the ferry terminal on Commercial Street. There is something absolutely intoxicating about walking out of the cool morning air and into the sugary warmth of this bakery. INTOXICATING.

Fresh Baked Goods

You need to get there early on a Saturday morning or you’ll wait in a line that snakes out to parking lot.

ENJOYING Yummy Baked Goods

Best treat for little fingers? Vanilla Bean Madeline. The four-year-old’s favorite? Pain au Chocolat. I haven’t had a bad bite there yet.

WARNING: In the Maine, five pounds await you!

Enjoy!

Anna

P.S. Not coming to Maine? Still want warm sugary yumminess first thing in the morning? Grab your toddler and head to the kitchen! We made this super easy recipe together. Check it out!

The Education STOPS Right at the CAFETERIA Doors!…Except Here!

Washington, D.C. – My little explorers and I have hit the doorsteps of nearly two dozen museums. TWO DOZEN! Each one filled with fantastic experiences, knowledge, curiosities, and little tidbits that morph into invitations to explore even more. It’s the kind of journey that can make inquiring minds hungry… I mean hungry for LUNCH. And that’s when it happens. We are smacked in the face almost every time with a total BUZZ kill: The museum cafeteria. Some call themselves a cafe, a restaurant, a self-service food station, or a snack machine. But whatever it is and wherever it is… you can be sure that the education stops right at the door!

The museums’ exhibits are well thought through… fine details, displays and hours of installation all geared to engaging the mind.

The gift shops are beautifully curated with learning toys and souvenirs that ensure the intellectual engagement continues at home.

Fries with that? Hamburger? Pack of crackers?

No way! Not here! Almost every museum we’ve visited has something MAJOR to learn from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Observation Panel of Kitchen

The restaurant on the bottom floor of the museum is serving up education with your meal… because the meal itself is a lesson on the traditional foods of Native Americans.

Northern Woolands

You have chance to eat as the Cherokee did. You can sample foods from Native Peoples of the Southwest, the plains, from every pocket of the country. And the food is delicious! Healthy, too.

A Vegetable Trio of butternut squash, brown rice, quinoa with beets... YUMMY!

A Vegetable Trio of butternut squash, brown rice, quinoa with beets… YUMMY!

The restaurant doesn’t skimp on atmosphere either. The walls are covered with oversized photographs of tribal gathering and hunting.

Seating area National Museum of the American Indian

This is an amazing place to eat AND learn... at the same time. While your belly travels to a very happy place so will your mind. Is it too much to ask for nap cots?

I’m hoping Children’s Museums, science museums and aquariums will move in this inspiring direction. Thought out lunch areas that teach us about food would be a welcome adventure and not to mention a huge revenue opportunity. Bring it!

Anna

In the Kitchen: Granola Bar Recipe

I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home wife or mom. I’m a journalist. It’s all I knew. And never ever did I think I’d be the sort of wife who would send her husband to work with home-baked goods. In fact my career-driven inner 25-year-old is vomiting at the mere mention of such an eventuality. She would be particularly appalled to see I’m enjoying myself (when not sleep deprived.)

The fact of the matter is for the first EIGHT years of marriage, I would not put my husband’s laundry away. I would wash, dry, and fold it. But I would not put it away.That’s where I drew the line. Until two weeks ago. I’m so type-A that I can no longer stand seeing his t-shirts in their neatly folded pile sitting out for even a few hours. So I put them away. My housewife conversion is complete.

The organic granola was an accident. I made it for my husband (and my little ones). He took it to work. News was breaking. He didn’t eat it. His colleagues did. So I sent more. Inner 25-year-old, let’s have a glass of wine and go to bed. Those kids are gonna be up early.

photo

And for the rest of you, especially Liz Palka, Tanya Rivera and Lauren Melvin (who have repeatedly asked for this recipe,) here it is!

Yield 20 granola bars:

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 3 cups of oats (I prefer organic rolled oats)
  • 2/3 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups of trail mix (you can buy it or make your own)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce
  • 1 cup of almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of Maine maple syrup
  • 1 egg replacer (or 1 egg)

photo

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix Ingredients together (I use my kitchen aid mixer)
  • Your ingredients should become sticky enough that you could form a ball with them. The ball may not stay together if you launched it across the room, but it would leave your hand together. To make it sticker, add more almond butter or egg replacer or maple syrup. To make it cagier, add more flour.
  • Oil your pyrex dish so granola bars come out cleanly
  • Put in glass pyrex dish and mash down
  • Place in oven until edges are brown, typically about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven
  • Let cool for 10 minutes
  • Cut into squares
  • Leave to cool completely

This is a super kid friendly activity. You can change the ingredients as much as you like (adding sunflower seeds, pistachio, or other nuts and berries). While my recipe features far less sugar than others, these granola bars taste very sweet. My hubs likes to break it up in a bowl with milk for breakfast.

This is a great recipe to customize to fit your family or the ingredients in your store. Enjoy!

3-buck Chuck, here we come!

Anna

Tonight’s the Night! (and tomorrow night too)

Stargazers UNITE!

Stargazers UNITE!

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night (August 11-12). Tonight, I am going to repeat one of the most FUN things I’ve ever done as a mom. And you can too. Wake your munchkin  up in the middle of the night and take that shocked little pumpkin outside to watch meteors streak across the sky. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? I mean, I just said, ‘wake up your sleeping munchkin.’ But let me tell you, it’s worth it. Our date to watch the meteor show last year was so spectacular. And that’s why tonight, just a couple of hours after my little man’s been sleeping, I’ll wake him up to watch it again.

This meteor shower is easy to find. Just look for the Perseus constellation. We use the iPhone app SkyView to find it in seconds. NASA also offers tips on viewing here. Then cuddle your munchkin and watch the show. Check out my blog from last year for all the details. Trust me, this is an opportunity to create a moment that will last forever.

ENJOY!

Anna