Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ultimate Pretzel Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Brownie Bars

Because we can't be healthy all the time.... little spluges are a necessity.

I had pinned these awhile ago and finally made some a couple weeks ago for a bacholertte party weekend up in the Georgia mountains.   They were a hit.

  • 2 1/2 cups crushed Synder Butter Pretzels
  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 5 Tbls sugar
  • Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix (and all necessary ingredients)
  • Brownie Mix (for 13x9in pan of brownies and all necessary ingredients)
  • 24 Snack Sized Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

  • Crush pretzels (I used my fist and a ziploc bag) and mix in with melted butter and sugar.  Press pretzel crust into lightly greased 9x13 inch pan

  • Make peanut butter cookie dough according to package directions and lightly press over crust

  • Cover with Reeses

  • Make brownie batter according to package directions and pour on top

  • Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes

  • Cool and ENJOY!  (These are VERY rich so best made to share so that leftovers do not remain in your house...)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

So we've been working to cut out processed foods and especially high fructose corn syrup from our diet.  Chris loves granola bars, but unfortunately most of them (at least the ones we had always bought) contain high fructose corn syrup.  Because they are an easy "ready-to-go" snack we had both been missing them.

I came across an easy recipe for homemade bars and Chris (who is always supportive but not always as excited about healthy food options as I am) loves them!

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 coconut oil
1 cup oats
1 cup TOTAL of any combination of: walnut pieces, pecan pieces, almond slivers, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, (really whatever sounds interesting to you!)
Mini chocolate chips to sprinkle on top

In a medium sized sauce pan melt together peanut butter, coconut oil, and honey.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of oats.  Choose your favorite combination of walnut pieces, pecan pieces, almond slivers, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, (whatever sounds interesting to you) to equal a TOTAL of ONE CUP.  Just toss what you are interested in into a one cup measuring cup and stir in.  For these particular bars I used sunflower seeds, walnut pieces, almond slices, and peanuts.

Spread mixture into a parchment paper lined 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  Chill.  Cut. Serve.

After the bars have chilled, you can add some mini-chocolate chip sprinkles on the top if you would like.  But make sure the bars are not too warm, otherwise the chips will melt.  (The first time I made these bars I mixed my chocolate chips into the batter in my 1 cup mixture.  They all melted.  It was a bad idea)

I have made these a few times and I think next time I will probably double the recipe because we tend to go through them pretty quickly.

Quick note on coconut oil.  I know I've mentioned it a couple times now.  There is a lot of good information you can find out there on coconut oil.  Here is a blog post about coconut oil  I ran across awhile ago that I thought pretty interesting and informative.  I have no relation to this blog and I really can't remember how I came across it, but if you're at all interested in some of the health benefits of coconut oil you should check it out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homemade Granola

I had been wanting to experiment with making homemade granola for awhile now.  I eat granola in my yogurt almost every day and since almost everything homemade tastes better, I decided to give it a whirl.  I found a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Second Helpings with Johnnie Gabriel, (and of course modified it just a bit...)

4 cups oats
2 cups coconut (I only used 1 cup because I don't love coconut...)
2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cups whole almonds (I didn't have any whole almonds so I left these out)
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
3/4 cup canola oil (I used coconut oil and you should too...)
3/4 cup honey
1 cup Craisins (I don't like dried fruit very much, so I ended up leaving these out at the last minute, but I'm it would be great with the Craisins)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a large bowel combine oats, coconut, all almonds, pecans, and walnuts

In a medium bowl whisk together the oil and honey.  (If you use coconut oil you will have to melt it down over the stove before mixing with the honey)

Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and thoroughly mix.

Evenly spread on sheet pans covered in parchment paper.  ( I love parchment paper, and for whatever reason I didn't use it.  I only used non-stick spray and I regretted it.  Cleaning the honey and oil residue off the pans was not fun...)

Bake for about 30 minutes, tossing very 12 minutes, until the granola is a golden brown


After toasted to a perfect golden brown, add the Craisins, evenly distributing them among your pans.  Toss the granola to incorporate Craisins.  Smooth out again and allow to cool.

Store in airtight container for up to 4 weeks.  (I didn't have enough jars to store it in, so I'm keeping it in this Pyrex, but canning jars would be best)

 Verdict- LOVED IT!  The toasted nut flavor that I don't normally have in my granola is fabulous!

And as a side note, if you are trying to figure out how you are going to eat all this granola on your own, it makes a great gift.  We had a new neighbor move into our townhouse unit a few weeks ago, so we brought her over some berries, homemade whipped cream, and homemade granola.  Yum!

When our next door neighbor moved in and got married about a year ago I made them a homemade carrot cake.  The first time I met Brad, he jokingly asked me if I made a good carrot cake.  Well I had never made a carrot cake (aside from the one out of a box) in my life so I decided to try.  It turned out great!  So great in fact that right after we gave it to them Brad ended up in the hospital with some pretty serious medical conditions stemming from diabetes, which he was newly diagnosed with during his hospital stay.  Whoops.  They joked that I was trying to kill him with sugar.  I felt awful.  So now I try to give "lighter" welcome gifts...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Woo-who, we have a nephew!

Mr. Jimmy Pruitt decided to make his debut at 6:18am on Sunday July 15th.  What a good birthday!  He's a big boy weighing in at 8lbs, 8oz!!

I think Phoebe likes her new baby cousin...

Let me just get my hands on him...

Proud Aunt & Uncle

Mamo and Papo with all their babies...

I don't think the proud Mama was feeling up for pictures quite yet....

Congratulations JP and Catrina!
He's precious! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So Close Yet So Far...

A couple weeks ago we had pulled my car out of the garage to install a new car seat.  Because Chris thinks I can't park correctly in the garage he had put up a tennis ball to mark how far up I need to pull the car.  

Knox loves chasing tennis balls, but couldn't quite get this one...

That tennis ball actually was quite helpful, until recently when Knox finally did catch it and tear it down...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Three years ago today I married my best friend.  It has only gotten sweeter since that day.

Happy Anniversary Chris!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Garden

Back in the spring, I decided I want to try to plant a garden this summer and got real excited about it.  I blogged about it here.

Ok, the garden really has not turned out as well as I would have hoped.  I started out planting a couple tomato plants, some squash, zucchini, peppers, basil, and green beans.  I has also planted some broccoli, lettuce, and peas earlier in the spring, but none of those really grew or produced anything.

At the beginning of April there was some questions as to whether we would be living in the townhouse again for another year so I got a little bit of a late start planting.  I didn't plant my summer vegetables until the end of April.  (And it is typically in the evening when I go out and water the plants, so sorry that the picture are a little on the dark side)

My cherry tomato plant is doing great!  It has lots of green tomatoes on it right now.  My heirloom tomatoes, however, look horrible.  I'm pretty sure it is dying.  They are right next to each other, so its not like one has gotten more water than the other.  I keep hoping it will turn the corner and come back to life, but I'm running out of hope now.

The plant on the right looks pretty dead, doesn't it?

My pepper plants look good.  Well, minus the fact that there are some bugs eating some of the leaves.  The organic garden spray I bought to keep the bugs off has done absolutely nothing.  The plants themselves have grown a lot, but there is still no sign of any peppers.

My basil looks great though and we have enjoyed having fresh basil.

Everyone talks about how easy squash and zucchini are to grow.  My plants came out and grew well, but have yet to produce any veggies!  The squash plants have flowered several times, but no squash to be seen.  My neighbor's plants have had several squash and zucchini to pick, so again I don't have much hope for mine.  Pretty sure I haven't done anything different...

Only one green bean plant grew and it has produced a total of 2 green beans.  I am proud of those two green beans though...

At the beginning of June I found some cucumber seeds that someone must have given me, so I went ahead and planted those then and they are starting to come up.  Just a couple weeks ago I went ahead and planted some cantaloupe too, so we'll see how that goes.

My elderly neighbor (who often forgets who I am even though we have lived next door for three years) nplanted one tomato plant- and nothing else.  I'm pretty sure she never waters it (but thanks to the rest of us it does get some water) and it is over-flowing with tomatoes.  She didn't do anything but dig a single hole.  She really does have a green thumb, or at least knows how to pick a good plant from the store...  Her one plant will provide all of us with plenty of tomatoes this summer.

Kathleen's tomato plant.  You can't tell, but it is HUGE

Its been fun so far, but it has been a lot of work as well.  We are in the middle unit on a row of townhouses, so our spout for a hose in in the front of the garage.  We had to get a 100ft hose to reach all the way through the garage out to the plants.  It is a big pain to uncoil and coil up each evening.  Next summer I am going to have Chris build me some above ground beds that we can keep closer to the house.  This will also help control the weeds a little bit better too.  I want to use this square foot gardening technique next year.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th!

I hope everyone had a happy 4th!  Ours was pretty laid back.  We got a few chores done in the morning and then headed over to the square for a little bit and it was miserable.  It was so hot!  Three years ago the square was fun on the forth, but with a dog and a baby and the heat we were over it pretty quickly.

We headed over to Julie and Justin's house that evening for dinner.  We had fun hanging out with Julie & Justin and Kristin & Paul.  The dogs kept everyone on their toes and Phoebe was the nightly entertainment.  And then being the party people that we are we were home and in bed before the fireworks even started.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

11 Months

Another month has passed making my baby 11 months old last Tuesday!

Daddy's cuddly baby girl

We went back to the GI doctor on Tuesday and Phoebe weighs 15lbs 5oz!!!  This is up from 14lbs almost 2 months ago.  We were very happy.  She is still below the growth chart, but she as gained an average of 12gms/day which is consistent growth compared to other kids her age.  So all that butter and cream we are adding to her food is helping.  We will continue the caloric support at least until she hits the bottom of the growth chart.

I knew she had to have gained a pretty good amount of weight because I had had to loosen the straps on her booster seat.  So she has certainly increased abdominal girth over the past month!

Phoebe has made a lot of progress this month in her physical development and gross motor skills.  One month ago when Melissa, our physical therapist, first came to see Phoebe she would not bend her knees at all.  Melissa called her a "very symmetrical baby"  She also would never reach across her body.  She would only reach to her right with her right hand and reach to her left with her left hand.  We had noticed that she locked her knees and thought it a bit strange, but hadn't realized she was not reaching across her body.  Because of both of those things, she could not get herself from a sitting to a "crawling" position or get herself from her belly up to a sitting position- both involve bending your knees and reaching across your body.  Melissa has been wonderful coming to the house and working with Phoebe and us.  It has been very simple exercises that we incorporate into play, but without them Phoebe would still be sitting symmetrically and unwilling to bend her knees.  Now she easily bends her knees and reaches across her body so that she can go from sitting to her belly and from her belly to sitting.  We have also been working on pulling her knees up underneath her body and holding herself up with her hands to crawl traditionally.  She is fairly good at holding this position now, but still needs some help and work to coordinate moving her hands and knees in a forward motion to actually crawl.   She will pull up now so that she is "standing" on her knees and I do not think it will be long until she pulls up from her knees to her feet.

Showing off her skills climbing up onto Knox

Cruising and eventually walking I think are going to be a bit more of a challenge.  Although she now will easily bend her knees when sitting, when she is standing her knees are locked SO tight!  I really have to fight her to get her to bend her knees while standing up holding onto something and a lot of the time I can not.  You have to bend your knees to walk, so I think this will take a little extra work for her.

And while we are having a brief doctors update I will mention that Phoebe has gone back to the audiologist twice over the past month and has failed her OAE's (which I won't bother to explain because I realize this is getting a bit technical) in both ears both times.  Basically this is not the best news.  So we are going to go ahead and do a sedated ABR hopefully at the end of the month to get the most accurate assessment of her hearing.  And then depending on those results we will determine if we need to move forward with hearing aids.

Eating-  Phoebe still doesn't have a big appetite, but has been eating better the last couple weeks!  She is still eating mainly pureed baby foods, but she is eating more and putting up less of a fight.  As far as finger foods go, she is still pretty picky.  She has an affinity for crunch textures.  I've found some freeze dried fruit that she will eat, some whole wheat crackers, and rice cakes.  Pretty much everything else she throws on the floor and spits out of her mouth.  There have been a couple times when we have been out at a restaurant or outside our house when she has eaten some soft bread, fruit, and meat, but has never repeated that at home.

A couple weeks ago I started to try to transition her to milk.  She drinks 4oz (sometimes 5oz) in her bottle, so I thought I would add 1 oz of milk to 3oz of formula.  She would not have anything to do with it!  I thought a quarter milk to three quarters formula would make for a pretty gradual transition...I was wrong.  So we started adding only 1/2 of milk and she will drink that.  I've gotten up to 3/4oz of milk in her bottle, but so far each time I have tried to add a whole ounce she has refused it.  The Lord must be trying to teach me patience...

She still is not drinking very well out of a sippy cup, and I'm not sure how to help teach her.  We've tried several different kinds.  She has the most "success" with the Nubby cups that have a soft spout that she can gum to get a little water out.  She does get water out and swallows some, but also somehow manages to get it all over her clothes.  That is fine for water, but a little messy for milk.

We had started her on the Zantac for possible "reflux" (i.e. we don't know why your child won't eat lets try to rule out reflux...)  As far as we could tell it wasn't changing anything after about 3 weeks so I stopped giving it to her.

Playing-  A lot of our playing these days incorporates exercises from her speech therapist or physical therapist.  She still loves her little kitchen and some books, but her Leap Frog musical table that was a hand-me-down from a neighbor is now a favorite because she can pull up on her knees and sometimes even to standing to play with it.  Keys are another favorite and have been used quite frequently as crawling motivation.  Unfortunately Knox's food and water bowls are also a favorite.  She LOVES water.  Loves the pool, bath, and splashing in the dog's water.  One thing that has surprised me is that she has never really taken to stuffed animals or "lovies"  She enjoys playing with "new" stuffed animals that she is given but after a week or she is over them.  And as much as we have given her soft cuddly lovies, I thought she would have attached to one.  But she has not.

Knox was not so sure what to think about this at first

Knox has succumbed to eating his food off the floor

Sleeping- Thank the Lord Phoebe has also been sleeping better the past couple weeks!  Before that I think she had only slept through the night about 4 times in the previous 6 weeks.  It was miserable.  But right now we are all enjoying a full night's sleep :)  She got 4 teeth in over a period of about 4 weeks so I think she must have been waking up with teething pain, but Orajel and Tylenol rarely helped.

She is still taking 2 naps between 1 and 2 hours.  She goes down for her morning nap around 10 or 10:30 and her afternoon nap around 2 or 2:30, and then goes to bed between 7:30 and 8.

Randoms- Phoebe is definitely going to have curly hair.  She has got lots of curls in the back these days.  She has just had her eighth tooth pop through her gums.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Garage Sale Finds

I really enjoy hunting through garage sales and estate sales,  but I must admit I have not had much time or patience for it recently.  It seems like I have always had other things to do on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Last weekend though when I was coming back from my run with Knox I noticed that some of the neighboors accross the street were having a multi-family yard sale.  I walked over to check it out and ended up with a little play-set for Phoebe!

It is nothing we ever would have bought at the store, but for $10 it will provide us with some summer entertainment in the backyard.  She loves to swing so when we can't make it to the park, she can play a little here.

Phoebe is not so sure about the slide.  That is not as much fun as the swing right now...

And then we drove right past another garage sale on Saturday coming back home from the Verizon store.  I found this little toy for Phoebe for a quarter...can't beat that.

Once Upon a Child has become another favorite of mine.  I have always said that whenever we needed clothes for her, we would find second-hand clothes at Once Upon a Child.  With shower gifts and grandparents and hand-me downs we have been set for the first year, but eventually I'm sure we will need some clothes.  They have tons of gently used toys too.  We actually bought her a birthday present here last weekend.  (She'll never know the difference...)