Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Perfect Summer Salad

I haven't posted any dinner recipes in months because I haven't been cooking lately.  Our garden has been producing a tasty variety of lettuce so we have mostly been eating salads for dinner.  We never seem to get tired of mixed fruit and nut salads.  

Here are the ingredients for our favorite summer salad:
1.  Variety of lettuce (We grow spinach, arugula, butterhead, romaine, looseleaf, oak leaf, kale and swiss chard and use a little of each in our salad)

2.  Fruits (We pick 2 fruits from strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pears and mangoes)
3.  1/2 avocado
4.  Pistachios (costly but totally worth it)
5.  Blue cheese (I know it sticks but you don't notice it when it's mixed up in a salad and it really does taste great)

5.  Sweet Italian dressing (If you're from St. Louis, you can't go wrong with Zia's!)

TIP: The key to making a great salad is dicing up all the ingredients, including the lettuce, so that you get a little bit of each ingredient on a bite :)

As a side, I also like to make a tomato salad using California Olive Ranch olive oil (it's the BEST!), fresh ground pepper and chopped basil.
Homegrown tomatoes are honestly better than store-bought.  I don't know why but they are. We had a little bit of success with our tomatoes this year.

We also have a fierce addiction to Whole Foods Olive Bread - sliced, warmed and dipped in California Olive Ranch olive oil.  Mmmmmmm.....

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Dairy & Egg Free Banana Muffins

I have been trying to find some healthier treats that I can put in Sidney's lunches when she starts Kindergarten in the fall.  In addition to having dairy, egg and nut allergies, she also has texture issues with foods.  Unfortunately, she did not like these Ava and I ate them all.  They were DELICIOUS!  I really can't believe she didn't like them.  I can only figure that it was the texture - she's kind of a hard, crunchy kind of girl.  Anyway, if your kids don't have any aversions to soft, delicious muffins, they will love these!

1.5 cups white whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose flour too)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce (or you can use 1 egg)
1 cup mashed bananas (3 medium...although I've often used just 2 large bananas)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a mini muffin pan.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Make well in center. 
3. In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. 
4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture. Stir just til moistened. 
5. Spoon into muffin tin. 
6. Bake 15 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. 

Step 2:

Step 5:

Cool and Eat!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Surgery {x 2}

My two littlest had surgery on Monday.  I had so much anxiety in the months leading up to this day.  I hated that it had to happen and I hated that I had to keep it a secret from the girls.  But the biggest source of my anxiety was the anesthesia.  The thought of putting my girls under general anesthesia scares me for a couple of reasons.

First, my oldest, Ava, had to go under general anesthesia to have glitter removed from her cornea (long story: Part 1 & Part 2) and had a horrible reaction coming out of anesthesia.  I didn't know how Sidney and Clara would react to it.  

Second, this past June an article was published by researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital that claims: "Surgical anesthesia given to children under the age of 4 years may be associated with reduced gray matter density in certain brain regions, leading to lower IQ and poorer language development."  

Well crap.

My husband and I talked with several doctors including our pediatrician, another pediatrician, the ENT performing the surgery and an anesthesiologist to try to weigh the pros and cons.  Obviously, you know what we decided.  

We may never know if the anesthesia has had an affect on their brains, but the good news is the surgery was successful, the girls did not have as bad a reaction coming out of anesthesia as Ava experienced and both girls are pretty much back to normal already.

My heart goes out to those parents whose children have to go through serious surgeries. And multiple surgeries.  I don't know how they do it.

I'm so blessed to have my girls back.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Skinny (Vegan and Gluten-Free too!) Banana Oatmeal Cookies

My grandma, who was my last living grandparent, passed away 25 days shy of her 95th birthday in June.  For as long as I can remember, my grandma always had a cookie jar filled with cookies.  As a kid (and an adult!), I was excited to see what I'd find in the jar when we went to Grandma's house.

I feel very fortunate that I got to keep her cookie jar.  It reminds me of her every time I look at it.  And I've had many experiences since her passing that lets me know that she's still looking out for us.  So in honor of my wonderful, weight-conscious, cookie-loving grandma, I baked some skinny cookies for my "new" cookie jar!

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup of gluten-free uncooked quick oats
1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (or add-in of your choice)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. Combine the mashed bananas and oats in a small bowl.
4. Fold in the chocolate chips (or other add-in)
5. Add cinnamon (optional)
6. Scoop with a spoon and drop a small ball of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
7. Bake 13-15 minutes until slightly golden on top.

Makes ~12 cookies

Love and miss you GG!
 GG with Clara on her 1st birthday

 GG with Ava

GG with Sidney

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Back to School Shopping

We have 5 weeks of summer left.  There are days when I can't wait for school to start back up, but thankfully there are more days when I find myself wishing time would slow down. 

Back to school shopping is the perfect activity to transition the girls and myself out of summer-mode.  I am an unapologetic organizer and I look forward to this ritual.

I just happened upon this nifty little Target & Walmart Cheat Sheet for back to school shopping.  Thank you Passionate Penny Pincher!  It's totally going to enhance my back to school shopping organization!  Click here for your free printable cheat sheet!

Have fun shopping!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

DIY Puppet Theater

It's been pretty raining in our parts lately.  We have spent a lot of time indoors this summer. One day, Sidney was bored and came up with the idea of making puppets. After multiple days spent inside, I was willing to let them do whatever they wanted!

I've seen people make a lot of cute things from cardboard boxes so I figured we could probably make a puppet theater from one.  It's certainly not a cute, Pinterest-y theater, but the kids girls couldn't have cared less and it kept them busy for most of the rainy afternoon!

Here's what you'll need for the theater:
- cardboard box
- box cutter
- paint & paint brushes
- glue gun (optional)

Here's what you'll need for the puppets:
- popsicle sticks
- paper
- markers / crayons
- scissors
- glue or tape

To make the theater and puppets:
1.  Find a square cardboard box and cut it open so it lays flat.

2. Using a box cutter, cut openings in the two center sides of the box.  Do not cut on the bottom flap - this will be used to stabilize the box when it's upright.  I cut our openings close to the bottom in case we want to hang curtains at some point.  If you cut you openings higher up, however, it will provide more privacy for the kids to hide behind when performing.

3. Using the cardboard that was cut out from the openings, cut thin strips to hot glue to the back of the cardboard for support for the top of the theater.

4. Now the fun begins....start painting!

5. While you wait for the paint to dry, you can make your puppets.  The girls colored pictures on paper of characters. Then they cut them out and we glued them to popsicle sticks.  Later, we had to tape a few back together so I'd suggest tape over glue.  And of course, they prefer the colored popsicle sticks.

Now you're ready to put on a show!

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th of July Crafts

I feel bad that the girls and I didn't have time to do any 4th of July craft projects.  I feel like this summer is slipping right through my fingers!

Here are some fun arts & crafts project that we did the past few years if you're still looking for ideas.

Happy 4th of July!!

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