Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Flourless Banana Protein Muffins

Want the perfect pre-workout pick-me-up?  How about the ideal recovery snack? Or maybe you just want something yummy that you won't feel like you need to run 5 miles to make up for eating. ;-)

I made two batches of these--with half of them as mini-muffins and half as full-size, so 72 muffins in all. SEVENTY-TWO. And do you know how long they lasted in my home (which includes 1 man and 2 teenage boys)??  Less than 24 hours! I didn't know if I should be horrified or flattered.  

And here is all the math from my experience made into an imperfect equation for my Algebra 1 student:

72 muffins / 3X < 24hrs = 0

Therefore, the muffins were consumed at a rate of 3+ muffins/ hour. So my husband and two sons each ate an average of 1/hour for 24 hours. Of course, my younger 2 kids and I ate a few. And my husband and sons were gone on a camping trip for the first 18 of those 24 hours, so the math gets complicated. But, what isn't complicated is the recipe.  So we will move on to that.

Flourless Banana Protein Muffins
Makes 24 Regular/ 48 Mini Muffins

2 Ripe Bananas
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Honey
2 Eggs
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (I like THIS kind, and THIS kind)
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (mini work best)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease/ line muffin pans
3. Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips in blender or food processor
4. Stir in chocolate chips
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 11-13 minutes for mini-muffins; 14-16 minutes for regular muffins.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guilt-Free Cookie Dough Balls

Six ingredients. No baking. Wholesome blend of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  And they seriously taste like a scoop of cookie dough. No joke. My kids even requested them in their lunches!

Guilt Free Cookie Dough Balls
Makes about 24

3/4 cup Coconut Butter (not oil)
3/4 cup Almond/ Peanut Butter (I have made them both ways successfully)
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Vanilla or Cookies and Cream Protein Mix
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/4- 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips/ Cocoa Nibs

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips/ cocoa nibs. Process until well mixed. Stir in or just barely process in chips/nibs. Form 1 inch balls and store in refrigerator. 

SO easy, right? 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

3-D Art: First Grade Group Project

Each year our elementary school has an auction to raise money for the art program. As my daughter's classroom docent, I had to come up with a group project for the class to contribute to the auction. 

In the past, I have led the class in creating a collaborative canvas. 
This is from 3 years ago (I was docent to 2 classes):

This is from 2 years ago:

 This is from last year:

I really like to see the individual handiwork of each student manifest in the final product. I love seeing the uninhibited creativity of their little minds shining. 

This year, I decided to go mixed media 3D on our project by helping the class create a mobile.

For this mobile project, you will need: 

  • Permanent Markers and Crayons

I began with an oval die-cut (in teacher's workroom) and several colors of cardstock.  I included one cardstock that was mirrored metallic on one side. I thought the light-catching element would be nice in a mobile. I cut enough for each child to have 4 ovals in the art. Circles or triangles would also make super cute designs for this piece.

I gave the students ideas and some instruction on decorating each of their ovals with sharpie and crayon.  I included swirls, plaid patterns, pictures of "vegetation" (that was their new vocab word of the day), and I required that they each put their first initial on one oval--as their "signature" on the piece. My daughter's teacher was kind enough to laminate them for me. 

 After I cut them all out of the laminating (about 40 minutes in the car at the soccer fields), I laid them out in the order I would be sewing them. 
Then I sewed them together. If you have never sewed through paper, it is easy-peasy.  Just begin at the top, backstitch to tie-off just like you would on fabric, then feed each new piece in as you come to the end of one.  Be sure to leave some thread "tails" on the top end of each of your rows. We'll use those later to attach them to the hoop.

I measured the width of all my strings of ovals laid next to each other to determine how large my embroidery hoop should be before I bought it. Mine was 30 inches in circumference. I also bought some inexpensive ribbon that would coordinate with the colors of the ovals. 

Now, on to the assembly:

This part isn't hard, but it is a bit tedious. Tie each row of ovals to the embroidery hoop, going around both rings using a square knot. 

 Slide each piece around to evenly place the rows around the hoop.

Cut four lengths of ribbon 24-28 inches in length.  Tie double knots in each ribbon length at its center to four "corners" of the circle. Gather these doubled ribbons with a rubber band to create the top of the mobile.

Tie short cuts of ribbon all around the hoop and over the rubber band on the top. I used some of the ribbons sticking out above the rubber band to tie on a loop ribbon for hanging. 

The students were SO excited to see what their ovals had become!  I think this could be such a cute piece to hang in a child's room or above a baby's crib (out of reach, of course!).  I think a mobile done just in black, white and silver would be striking. Or one in all blue or all pink tones would be fun. The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dyed Vintage Doily Table Runner

On a recent trip to my visit my folks, my mom pulled out a big bag of doilies. They were yellowed and all had coffee or tea stains, but the loving hands of my grandmothers had made most of them, so my mom couldn't throw them out. She asked if I would like to try to repurpose them. 

You bet I would! I have seen some beautiful repurposed doily creations by crafters and decorators around the blogosphere: added to clothing, pillows, and pieced into table runners. 

Here in the greater Seattle area where I live, we have had one of the rainiest winters on record. I saw an article yesterday that said Seattle has had 3 sunny days since the start of October. THREE. So I shouldn't be surprised that I have been aching to brighten up my house with all the spring colors I can get my hands on. I have even considered painting my dining table white.  

So, naturally, I decided to make a bright, spring table runner with the doilies. I will walk you through the steps of how you can make one for yourself, and give ideas of where to purchase what you need--even the doilies if you don't have heirlooms from your grandmothers. 



Dyes/Dye Kits

These kits are so nice because they come with squirt bottles and gloves. I actually used some of these neon colors on my project, I just didn't leave them to "process" for as long as suggested so the colors would be more pastel.
Find this and other kits here.

Large trays/cookie sheets

Protective Gloves

Squirt bottles/ Mixing bottles

Mix your dyes in squirt bottles according to package directions. If some of your doilies are made of synthetic fibers, add a little vinegar to your dye for color sustainability. 

Lay out your doilies on trays. Large ones can be folded in half to fit.  I recommend taking everything outside. It was raining throughout this project, but I didn't let it stop me!


One color at a time, slowly squirt the dye on layers of the doily designs. This part was super exciting for me. I loved how the color contrasts really made the beautiful designs of my grandmothers' handiwork come to life!
Don't worry about the colors bleeding into each other. That should happen. It will soften up the look of the final product. 

Gently squeeze out excess dye from each doily and place them in individual baggies.  Let them sit for 4-8 hours (depending on how bold you want your colors). 

This was an exciting load of laundry to remove from the dryer!

Remove the doilies from the bags straight into your washing machine. Wash with a little detergent and cold water on a gentle cycle. I threw a couple of old towels in with mine as "padding" for the roughness of the machine's agitator.  Tumble dry on low.  Remove and iron. I used spray starch to stiffen mine up a bit. 


Lay out your doilies and decide how you want to arrange them for your table runner. I ended up not using 2 of mine. They may become pillows in the future. 

Pin and Sew
If you look closely, you can see my straight pins holding together the pieces. 

Use a ziz-zag stitch in coordinating thread to sew the pieces together. It will be virtually invisible in the finished product.  I ironed it one more time after sewing. 

My little dining room feels much more ready for Spring! I smile every time I look in at the happy color and think of my sweet grandmothers and the time they spent making beauty for their homes. I am so grateful these special pieces of art were preserved.

Monday, February 6, 2017

50th Anniversary Party

50 years of marriage. FIFTY. If that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is.

My dear in-laws celebrated their big 5-0 last year, and I was able to help put together their party. 
I will share some of the ways we made their day memorable through the decorations, food and gifts that honored this amazing couple.

Decorations & Gifts:

These balloons were a big hit. My in-laws had never seen anything like them, and I was so glad I had gone to the trouble of packing them in the car for the drive!  I found mine at a local party store, but you can also find them HERE. Most grocery stores will fill them with helium for a small fee.

Two of the decorations doubled as gifts for the couple. 

One was a bunch of 4x6 pictures I had printed at Costco. I found pictures from when they were newlyweds all the way up until recent ones with their grandkids.  
When I printed them, I chose to have a white border around so they had a more finished look. 
Then I bought jute twine and some miniature clothespins and we displayed their picture memories all around the room. They absolutely LOVED this simple but meaningful display. In fact, they took them home still on the twine and hung them in their own home.

The other decor/gift was a memory poster I bought on Etsy. This party doubled as my father-in-law's 80th birthday, so I bought one board commemorating his birthyear, and one commemorating the year they were married.  You will receive a digital download of the design, then you can get them printed wherever you choose. I used Costco's 16x20 poster board. It is super durable and reasonably priced.

I bought the "50 Years Ago" design from Digital Board. 
I bought the "80 Years ago" birth year design from Little Mountain Top. 

These, as well, were taken home with my in-laws and displayed in their home. 

The refreshments were simple, but just right. 
We asked in advance what each of their favorite cakes were (carrot, chocolate, and lemon pound were all listed), so we had some of each. 

Additionally, I bought several "old fashioned" candies and displayed them in mason jars.  Here are some of the candies, along with links to where you can find them:
I used chalkboard labels on each of the mason jars. I love that chalkboard decorations are so prevalent, and they fit with an "old fashioned" theme!

Though the party was simple (by their request), it was filled with love and memories from their many happy years together.