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Friday, August 24, 2012

Smooshy Fruit and Nut Bars

My favorite part of being a stay-at-home-mom is morning time with my son. No matter how sleepless the night, I am a morning person by nature. Once Calvin is up for the day, I feed him, change him, and lay him in his bassinet while I make the bed, open the curtains, and get myself breakfast. Then I set up his "baby gym" in the middle of the bed and play and sing with him while I sip my coffee and eat my breakfast.

It helps to have a breakfast food that I can get quickly and eat with one hand. So I set out to find something I could make a whole batch of that would meet those criteria, plus be yummy and satisfying. I had come across a few blogger recipes for no-bake fruit bars and decided to give it a try. I used this recipe from White on Rice Couple and adapted it for what I already had in my pantry.

Here's my version:

  • 1 1/2 c chopped dried fruit (I used raisins, craisins, and apricots)
  • 1 1/2 c nuts (I used walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds)
  • 1/2 c chopped dark chocolate (chocolate chips would've been easier, but I didn't have any)

You could use a food processor, but I just chopped it all by hand. 

  • 2T unsalted butter
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/4 c Nutella
  • dash of salt

Melt all the mushy ingredients on the stove. Here's my makeshift double boiler.

Pour the sweet liquidy goodness over the chopped chunks and mix.

Line a pan with foil, butter the foil, and press in the smoosh. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Refrigerate for several hours.
When it's hardened, pop it out and cut it into bars... and nom!

Now the review: Delish, but Squish! 

First, these barely qualify as breakfast because they are so sugary sweet. But since they are so rich, one is quite satisfying and they are filled with fiber-ful fruit and nuts to keep me full for the morning. Plus the sugar gives me a boost for my morning jog.

Second, you gotta eat them straight out of the fridge and don't dilly-dally because if they melt even a little they fall apart in your hands. And you also have to just be ok with licking Nutella and honey off your fingertips. Which I am. Or else eat it with a fork. But that seems weird.

All in all, I still give them a thumbs up. Next time I think I will skip the Nutella and see if the honey holds them together a little better. Anyone have any tips on making these or something similar?

Calvinized Onesies

Inspired by this post on using letter stickers to make wordy wall art over at Make & Do Girl, I decided to try my hand at making some personalized onesies for my little chicken nugget.

All you need is some letter or shape stickers, fabric paint (any kind) and onesies or t-shirts. I used some Tulip soft fabric paints and some puffy fabric paint that I already had. I used them both the same way, applying with a sponge, but of course the puffy paints got a bit crunchy when dry. I also tried my hand at a spray fabric paint (the kind I used was called Simply Spray). You just arrange the stickers on the shirt, paint over them, let them dry and peel them off! Kind of like inverted stenciling. I forgot to buy sponge brushes so I cut up a Trader Joe's sponge and it worked just fine!

 I mostly used letter stickers, but I also got this idea to do a space onesie so I took mailing labels that I already had at home and cut them into stars using a craft punch and I used the letter O for the moon, although my husband thought it was a planet. I said the moon isn't always a crescent!

Here are the onesies as they are drying...
...and here they are all finished!

I was not so successful with the spray paint... it bled a bit around the edges of the letter and tape, and it's not evenly sprayed. I think I just need some practice with it. Also, in the future I will stick to the "soft" fabric paint. The only reason I didn't do that this time was that I already had a few puffy paints at home.

I made these just a few weeks ago and he is already growing out of them! Almost time to make new ones :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why our Cat is in the Doghouse

Once upon a time, it was just James and me in our little apartment. Then one Winter's day a few years ago we adopted our cat, Lucas. It was right around Christmas and he was the only kitten at the SPCA who did not get to be showcased in the Macy's windows downtown. This was not because he wasn't completely adorable, but because he had been sick - poor little guy! We fell for him immediately and brought him home that day.

Fast forward a few more years and on a rainy Spring afternoon we bring home another new member for our family whom we are even more in love with (sorry, Lucas), baby Calvin! Was Lucas jealous? Maybe he was just curious. For the first few weeks it was all we could do to keep Lucas out of Calvin's things. All Lucas wanted was to curl up in Calvin's car seat... or bassinet... or bouncy chair... After all, those things were new and soft and comfy and the perfect size for a cat! He didn't really try to bother the baby, but whenever Calvin cried, Lucas would come running into the room and stare at us as if to say "Hey! What are you going to do about that crying thing?!"

Everything seemed ok between Lucas and Calvin for the most part. It was annoying to have to clean cat hair off of Calvin's things, but not a huge problem. Sometimes Lucas would try to get in our laps while we were holding the baby and that was also annoying, but also not really a problem.

And then Calvin got something new. Bottles.

Calvin had to switch to bottle feeding because he was not able to get enough milk while breastfeeding - the muscles in his palate don't work quite right and as a result he has a weak suck. So suddenly these new things appeared in our apartment filled with sweet milk (or sometimes not so sweet formula!) and tipped with a tempting rubbery thing that always goes into the baby's mouth... Turned out Lucas wanted to put the bottle nipples in his mouth too!

The first time we caught Lucas chewing on a bottle nipple we figured it was a fluke. We laughed and didn't worry too much about it. The second time, Lucas had climbed onto the counter where the bottle parts were on the drying rack to get one! And each time, he bit the end of it almost clear off. Fool me twice, shame on me! So off to Babies R Us to buy replacements and up the nipples went into a cabinet above the counter out of reach of the - Nope. Lucas got nipple number 3 off the middle shelf of the closed cabinet!

We started tying the handles of that cabinet together to "cat-proof" it but you know, we're busy parents of a newborn and we do actually have to use the nipples so inevitably one day we forgot to tie the string and I walked in and caught him going for nipple number 4: perched with his front paws on the middle shelf and his hind paws on the bottom shelf! I wish I had gotten a picture, but I totally lost it and started yelling at him and he leapt down and ran away. I was so mad at that darn cat!

And that is why Lucas is in the doghouse. He is temporarily banished from the apartment. We put his litter box and food in the garage. But don't feel too sorry for him - he spends most of his time upstairs with my grandmother and cousin and I let him in the apartment during the day as long as I can keep an eye on him!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is this thing on?

After much deliberation and some procrastination... I've started a blog! (I know, I know, welcome to 2005!) But though I may be late in the blogging game, there are enough new things going on in the life of my little family that I felt it was time to start. It will be a way for me to appreciate and chronicle some of the small moments that fly by and to share them with others who may care.

And why Pancakes in Bed? Why not?! You're super comfy in your pajamas, it's a weekend morning, the family is together and you've got no place to be... eat pancakes in bed! It's one of our favoritest family traditions. James and I have spent many a weekend morning enjoying pancakes while snuggled up in bed and watching Star Trek or BSG or some other scifi show on Netflix on a laptop. (Right now we're on Dr. Who.) When we were a family of two, we imagined one day eating our pancakes in bed with kiddos snuggled up with us. And now we've got our little Calvin - as charming and full of surprises as his comic strip namesake - resting in our arms or playing with his toys within arms' reach. He's too little for pancakes or scifi shows, but it won't be long and we're in no rush.

I wish I had a nice photo of this to share with this first post, but I won't have a chance to take one until this weekend. So for now, here's a very nice photo of some gorgeous  Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes (our favorite!) from Cooking With Directions.

I can't wait to try this recipe! And by try I mean eat after James has done the cooking because he is the pancake chef around here ;)