Friday, June 24, 2016

When you just need to get dinner on the table...

It's been a rough go trying to find the balance of fun and rest, busy and relaxation, and killing each other or getting along (the kids I mean...mostly). To be completely honest, my patience has been tested with daily whining. Hannah has been at camp all week and when she gets home, she's exhausted. Emma, is ready for her big sister to play play play! This period of time, before Matt gets home from work when I just need to get dinner on the table without meltdowns, and I'm worn out, is hard. Today, I had such a simple idea. I filled up my sink with soapy water and some utensils and asked Emma if she wanted to make "dinner" with me. She grabbed some play food and was totally content for over an hour. It was glorious. Matt walked in the door a little early and I even shooed him out for the bike ride he was hoping to take before dinner; a surprise I'm sure he wasn't expecting..

Was she in my way? Yes. Was she taking up a significant part of the VERY limited counter space I have? Double check. Did I lose the use of my sink? Uh huh. Was there water everywhere? Yep. Was it worth it...Oh yes.

So, just an idea if you're looking for a way to get dinner on the table peacefully!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Gluten & Dairy Free TWIX BARS!!!

It's what you've been asking for...the GLUTEN FREE TWIX BAR RECIPE!!

Here is the link to the recipe, but I made adaptations to make them dairy free as well.

For the crust:
I HIGHLY recommend Honeyville Almond Flour. Use what you have, but there's is a definite difference in taste and texture with this brand. Other brands are ok to use, but this one is my favorite.

I didn't bake the crust long enough because my little ankle biters (well...and their mother too, I guess) were impatient. It was still DELISH, just not super crunchy like a real Twix bar, except for around the edges, which I made sure to consume immediately. So good.

I also used plain sugar, because that's what I had.

For the caramel
OH MY GOSH! I've tried to make dairy free caramel a million times. Low and slow is the key here, with lots of stirring. I also used a combo of honey and agave with no problems. Tasted just like caramel.

In place of butter, I used a combination of coconut oil, dairy free Smart Balance, and organic palm shortening (1/4 cup of each). I think any combination of those would work fine, or each on their own. I would NOT use the Smart Balance on it's own though. I don't think it would thicken, but I used it in the combination for the butter flavor. Spectrum Palm Shortening makes a butter flavored variety that would probably work.

These were so good. They will be made in our house again!

Yield: 32 Twix-sized bars at 173 calories each.

I recommend storing these in the fridge. They can get soft if left out.

Remember, these are high in protein and relatively low in refined sugar, so while, they're not necessarily "healthy," they have no preservatives and you know exactly what went into them. They CERTAINLY have more nutrients than the ones you pick up at the store!

Friday, June 3, 2016

How To Enjoy Your Kids This Summer Instead of Going Crazy

Disclaimer: You will want to make fun of me.

It's okay. But, at least hear me out.

I LOVE having my kids home for the summer. I seriously get so excited. You are either in my camp or in the camp with moms who dread the thought of hearing, "I'm bored." every 10 minutes for 3 months.

Either way, ALL of us grow weary at some point in the summer. It's hard to keep kids busy all day and feel like you're bonding with them, while simultaneously helping them enjoy things that are valuable and enriching. Time for yourself? What's THAT?? And then there's the issue of the house staying clean...never.

I'm going to propose something that you'll probably love if you're Type A like me, and hate if you're not. Either way, I suggest trying this on a small scale, for a small amount of time, in a setup that suits your home and family, and see if it doesn't make your day more smooth and fulfilling.

Here it is: A SCHEDULE.

You say to me: "I'm SICK of schedules! I'm finally DONE with schedules and now you're telling me to create a new one???"

Well, yes. A really cool, fluid schedule that incorporates time for you to have PERMISSION and FREEDOM to have FUN with your kids, time for them to clean up their own messes, and QUIET TIME for you to recharge! Yes!! You schedule time to relax...because, well...REST!

Schedules don't have to be imprisoning. They are freeing! My kids are already loving ours. The schedule we made for our family is pretty much only for days we spend around the house. If we go to the zoo or have a playdate, or even run more than an errand or two, obviously it changes. There are time slots on ours, but only as a guideline, and they are totally flexible. It really ensures, that the necessities get done, and when the kids look at it, they see that most of the time is for having fun. A doable amount of time is allotted throughout the day for cleanup and chores.

I also included some broad categories like "Creativity." My girls are 5 and 10 years old, so their creative outlets look different. They might color, write stories, play with play doh, make movies on iMovie, draw, craft, paint, build, play their instruments, whatever. Like I said, it's fluid.

Maybe yours is written on the back of a napkin and only has the top 5 things you'd like to do every day. So be it. But when you sit down at the end of the day and reflect, you will feel accomplished and fulfilled. When summer is over, you won't feel like it was wasted. Even if you work outside the home, this still works!

So, try a simple schedule. I promise, it will help you keep your sanity and actually ENJOY your days with your kids this summer!

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