We LOVE granola bars in our house.  But sometimes finding “good” granola bars that aren’t uber expensive  – well, that’s a challenge.  So you can imagine how excited I was to see this super easy recipe for homemade granola bars.  I like it because it’s all ingredients I always have around and I’ve figured out that you don’t need as much of the brown sugar or butter and you can add any fixings (I omit the chocolate chips – unless I’m making them as more of a treat). 

I recently (yesterday) made a double batch for “snack day” at Ryder’s school.  Once a month each family is responsible for bringing snacks for all of the kids.  I really like the additions I made for “snack day”.  I used almond butter instead of peanut butter, I added some unsweetened coconut, dried cherries and almond extract – then kept the recipe as is (limiting the sugar and butter) and I cooked it for double the time.   So yummy 🙂

The hint of coconut with the almond and cherries – delish – now I just wish there were left overs!  Looks like I know what we’ll be doing tomorrow. 

I always have my taste tester (Ryder) try out my new recipes – I got the “thumb’s up” on this one 🙂  Man I love that boy!

As you can see we’ve been having some fun with tie dying. 

We’ve done two batches this summer.  Of course the first batch was to outfit our household and the second batch was to cloth our friends and family in Chicago. 

We recently headed back to Chicago for a visit and brought back a little Cali love in the form of tie dyes.  My kids LOVE their tie dyes – how can you not – groovy colors swirling around – just makes you want to smile 🙂

Our friend Kendra made a trip down to Dharma Trading Co. and unfortunately I couldn’t join her, but she came back with some tie dying goodies and made lots of fun gear for her kids and her new bambino.  Luckily our local art store had this lovely little kit that makes tie dying sooooo much easier than the good ‘ole bucket method.  It comes with 4 squeeze bottles with pointy nozzles and has the powdered dye already in the bottle – just add water.  It also comes with the soda ash and a fun little video showing all the different designs you can do.  The owner of the art store told me that he has all kinds of powdered dye to purchase so I can reuse the bottles.  It’s perfect.  I highly recommend the kit – it was only $19 and we ended up tie dying about 14 shirts, a pair of underwear and 2 pairs of socks and had left over.  The video was fun to watch too.  Ryder was all jazzed about the different designs to make.  And all in all it was not too messy.

While we were in Chicago we headed out to the Shedd Aquarium (one of my favorite places ever) and we took my nieces so we decided to all wear our tie dyes.  Let’s just say we really stood out in the crowd 😉

I’ve got some white sheets waiting for the next round of tie dying – Ryder really wants a set of tie dyed sheets.  He also wants to make Papa and Grandma some tie dyes (which is a hysterical thought if you knew my folks).  I think that will be on the christmas list this year 😉

I was happy to see this little guy with pollen all over him flying around the garden.  We have not had as many bees in the garden as in past years, but there are still plenty flitting about from flower to flower, providing us with the lulling hum of their buzz.  Some days my favorite thing to do is go out in the early morning and sit close to the rosemary bushes or wherever they happen to be congregating that particular morning, and get lost in their hum.  It’s very therapeutic.

This little guy showed up one day (a volunteer from our compost we dumped in that particular raised bed).  At first I thought it was a squash of some sorts, then as it continued to grow I was thinking a type of melon and then when my friend Kendra was over she pointed out the flattened bottom and said “that’s a pumpkin”.  How silly of me – of course that’s what it is!  It’s now starting to turn orange.  The kids and I are so excited about our little guest in the garden – what a welcome face.

Luckily the peaches and nectarines didn’t ripen at the same time.  It was actually perfect.  As we finished with the peaches, the nectarines were ready.  These two trees are fairly young – the peach is about 2 years old and the nectarine about a year so we don’t get a whole lot of fruit (maybe about 2 -3 dozen) but enough to enjoy .  I love walking to my car to head out to work and grabbing a nice ripened fruit to bring for my lunch.  Yum!

Our first two potatoes 🙂  I can not wait to start harvesting the potatoes.  With the way the plants have been going, we should have a good crop – we’ll see.  These two were volunteers (or at least not with the rest) I must have left a seed potato in the other bed by accident.  But what a nice accident it was.  I uncovered these when I was pulling up all our onions (and boy did we get a lot of those).

Early August in the garden

Our first sunflower face to say hello 🙂

I found this pillowcase at the thrift store the other day and had to buy it.  I had this dress in mind when I bought it.   I just love the colors and how summery it looks.  I had purchased some elastic thread a couple months back and have been wanting to try to sew with it (I’ve never used elastic thread).  I love the little smocked tops and dresses – they are so easy to just throw on and go.  So this was my first attempt with the elastic thread – and I think – not so bad 🙂  And I can’t help but LOVE that this is an old pillow case (no hemming needed).

I did add straps to the dress to help it stay on better.  I love the elastic thread.  Super easy to use and super easy to create a quick top or dress or skirt.

Give it a try and let’s see what you create.

or a much more appropriate name “deadly nightshade”!  Much to my dismay, this little villain has taken root in my garden!  I saw these plants coming up in random spots in the garden and at first I thought it was a volunteer tomatillo – kinda looked a bit like them.  But then as they continued to grow I didnt’ really think that’s what it was, I didn’t really know what it was.  Then I saw these little berries form in clusters, hmmmmm?…… I am always a bit cautious when I see a plant with berries that I don’t know, always makes me think of poisonous berries? 

Well, my intuition was correct.  I had been meaning to take a picture and bring to my garden guru at work but kept forgetting so on Saturday as I was walking out to my car to head to work, I remembered I needed to ask Kimberely about the plant, so I ripped off a stem.

The look on Kimberely’s face when I walked in to her office – panic, horror, mouth agape.  Before I could even get the words out of my mouth “what is this” as I’m holding the deadly little bugger in my hands, she says (in her oh so eloquent english accent) that is “deadly nightshade”! 

I wanted to drop it and scrub the first couple layers of skin off of my hands, but I sat and listened to what she had to say.  So I was right to link it to a tomatillo, because they are in the nightshade family as well (as are potatoes and tomatoes – both which were in the same bed as this guy – probably cross pollinating each other).  But unlike those nightshade species that you can eat, this guy, not so much.  Wikipedia stated 2 berries (and these are little berries, about the size of a small blueberry) will KILL a child – yes, that’s right folks, KILL!!!!! 

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  My kids, my animals, the other animals in the area, all potentially in danger due to this death trap!  All I wanted to do was walk out the door, get in my truck and head back home to eradicate these little suckers.  But I had to work 😦  So of course I had to do a quick read on wikipedia myself, which made me feel more sick. 

But then I wondered about homeopathy – it’s used in small amounts?  How can that be?  So I felt a bit more calm, as well, as my kids are pretty good – they only eat what they know from the garden.

Kimberely had told me to go wash my hands thoroughly – you just don’t want to take a chance.  I did read that the roots are the most toxic, so while I was eradicating them at home I wore gloves and made sure to not come in contact with the roots.  I’m sure I was being overly cautious BUT not taking any chances.

I’m not sure how it made it into our garden but I will definitely be on the lookout for this “grim reaper”.

Ok – it’s not really freedom, but to me I feel free with my new purchase/new found love.  THE DIVA CUP!  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about here’s the skinny (and if any of my readers are men – well you might want to skip this post – or if you are open minded you may want to read on and tell your lady friends about this)….  ok here we go…..

No more buying tampons or pads, this is a silicone cup that is inserted, during your period, that collects your “flow” and you empty.  No more worrying about toxic shock, having the right absorbancy,or what kind of chemicals have been used in making your tampons, or did you forget your tampons (which I was always doing – my kids had their lunches, but I didn’t have my tampons – priorities right!). 

Some of you may be thinking “OMG – that’s gross, you have to dump it and rinse it and then reinsert” BUT what is grosser than pulling out a bloody cotton wad and wrapping it in toilet paper and tossing it in the garbage!  (sorry for the graphic image) but seriously – to me that’s pretty rank.

This is the easiest, most convenient, most environmentally friendly choice out there.  It comes in two sizes – for those of us who have given birth and those who haven’t (I think for most of us who have given birth our cervix rides low during our cycle so they have designed the cup to fit).  There are some other brands/versions out there but I have not tried those.  There is a website someone created analyzing all the different “cups” out there – she really gets in depth which is nice.  The Diva Cup is the most readily available in stores  – I bought mine at Whole Foods and I didn’t see any other brand on the shelf. 

After I bought mine, opened it and inserted it, I then read the packaging in detail and saw it states “not to be used with an iud”.  As luck would have it, I have an iud, and I thought, crap – just when I found something I like and I just shelled out $35 and can’t return the thing ($35 is cheap when you think about all the money you spend on pads and tampons a month till you hit menopause).  So I immediately started to google it and put a call in to my doctor.  Everything I read online, as well as my doctor agreeing, it’s fine to use with an iud – just be sure when you pull it out – nothing else comes along with it!  But I was also told that about wearing tampons with an iud.  So just be cautious.  My doctors main concern was hygiene and cleaning.  You are to clean with soap and water after each “emptying”.  Well this can’t always be done, such as in a public restroom, so they suggest doing it once you get home or at the next “emptying” at home.  I find that I rarely need to empty while I’m out and about or at work, it really holds a lot, as well as, you don’t really “bleed” all that much during your cycle.  So I carry some wipes with me for clean up when I’m out and about.  Otherwise it’s easy to clean at home with soap and water. And then at the end of your cycle you boil it for 30 minutes.  Simple, simple, simple! 

I have only had a little spotting (which was on my heaviest day) so I wear a liner or just change more often. 

It truly is a freeing feeling – no longer buying all those tampons, worrying if I forgot them or not, worrying if they will leak, etc. 

Free yourself and get yourself a “cup”!  You won’t regret it 🙂

My hoop finally arrived last Friday!  I have been wanting to get a hoop for so long and, for some odd reason, felt like it wasn’t necessary or I’d probably never do it or whatever other ridiculous reason I was telling myself.  Then I was reading my good friend Kendra’s blog and was totally motivated (plus I knew I would have someone to hoop with too).  So I ordered one up.  After I ordered it I couldn’t wait to tell Kendra and then she told me she found directions on the internet to make them (of course there’s instructions on the internet).  Well I had to see – even though I had my hoop coming – you need to have more than one for the kids, friends, potentially double hooping, etc.  So I started googling how to make a hula hoop – holy smokes – there are TONS of places to find info – lots of great “how to” videos on youtube.  Since I work for a local home improvement center I have all the supplies at my finger tips.  I was able to make 3 hoops for $5! 

This is how we’ve been making the hoops

3/4″ irrigation tubing at 160psi (I like the weight of this) you can use 1″ too but I feel it’s a bit to heavy for us.

3/4″ connector for the tubing

tape – the sites I viewed suggested “gaffer tape” but we don’t sell it so I just used good old colored vinyl tape found in our electrical dept.  The gaffer tape is a cotton tape that gripes your clothing a bit so there is some friction to help with the hooping – but we haven’t found any problems hooping with the vinyl tape.

Some of the sites say to heat up the ends of the tubing with a blow dryer but I found a video on youtube that suggested heating up a pot of water and submerging the end of the tube into the boiling water to make it more pliable and that totally worked – much better than the blow dryer – the connector slipped right on.

And that’s all – you can wrap the hoops however you want.  It’s been so much fun.  I’ve been hooping everyday since my hoops arrival.  I’ve got the bruises to show.  But in the week I’ve been doing it I’ve figured out a couple tricks/moves so I’m stoked.  And now I’ve got Ryder totally addicted.  He asks to watch the videos on the computer and then he wants to go out and practice 🙂  Yesterday, while Saige napped, Ryder and I hooped for an hour to Michael Franti (who is my LOVE)- what a way to spend the afternoon 🙂  He has even mastered two hoops at once! 

After dinner last night we headed to the backyard for our nightly “after dinner play” and Saige was flying on her swing, I was hooping, Ryder hooped a little (so he could show Doug his double hooping) and then he grabbed his rope swing and was spinning like a trapeze artist.  Doug looked around and laughed (he’s got his own private circus!)  It’s so fun.

Here are a couple awesome hooping videos – just so inspiring and they make it look so effortless and graceful.  Someday 😉