Friday, June 20, 2014

nut granola (nutola)- cooking for a crowd

As it begins to heat up again I'm thinking about our favorite summer breakfasts.  My kids enjoy a breakfast of granola (a mostly nut mix, very low on the traditional grains), yogurt, and fruit.  I make my own granola because most commercially available granolas are generally full of sugar and junk making them no better than a box of cereal (in my opinion).  I generally use what I have on hand and don't have a set recipe, I'll give the basics though as a starting point, this would be very easy to make gluten or grain free.  I do like to include the oats as they are a healthy inexpensive filler to help this stretch.

Nut Granola (all measurements are approximate unless otherwise noted)

1 c. sesame seeds
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c chia seeds (ground)
1 c flax seeds (ground)
(wheat germ could also be included if you don't mind having more grain in your granola)
1 c sunflower kernels
2 c almonds (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
2 c macadamia nuts (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
2 c hazelnuts (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
(pecans, and walnuts are great choices too.  I sometimes include slivered almonds as well)
4 c rolled oats
(get creative, just about any seed or nut could work in this)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a very large bowl

(the below ingredients are more exact amounts)
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
2-3 tsp cinnamon (nutmeg could also be good)
1 tsp salt
(feel free to add any other flavors/spices you would like in you granola)

Melt the first three ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Just enough to combine, especially if you are using raw honey to avoid killing off the good stuff.  Then add the spices, vanilla and salt and mix well.

Combine all ingredients in a large pan (I use my turkey roasting pan) or two.  Place in oven heated to 350, remove and stir every 10 minutes or so until lightly golden brown.  I found that 30-40 minutes was about right for my pan/batch.  Allow to cool and then place in a large container (I like to use a glass gallon jar).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Modest Swim Suits

It can be hard to find modest swim suits.  A sweet friend has a business sewing them.  We've been very pleased with them, my daughters LOVE theirs.

This is a link to her site if you are interested.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Zipzicles review and giveaway!

We recently gave zipzicles a try and loved them!  Now I get to do a review and giveaway for them.

What are they?

 -They are a long(ish) narrow plastic bag with a zipper top.   They are about what you would expect of a freezer weight zipper bag.

Why would you use them?

-Most kids enjoy frozen treats, especially during the summer.  Mine are no different.  I like to make my own treats for them whenever I can, so I know what is in them.  Additionally, because of various food intolerances most store bought frozen treats just do not work for my family.

How do you use them?

-Just mix up any (liquid/semi liquid) filling you want, pour in, freeze!  It's that easy!  My 13 year old mixed up blueberry smoothie, chocolate pudding and a layered fruit mix.  They make a great snack anytime!  They are great for on the go as well, since they are disposable.


Don't over fill, when you close it filling will come out the top if you do.

The site says that these can be reusable.  I believe it, but have not tried it.  I bought these because they were fairly inexpensive and disposable.  I've heard they can last for 2-3 more uses.

You can order these directly from Amazon sells them and the zipzicles web site also list retailers that sell them.

Now for the giveaway!  You can enter by following this blog through google friend connect (to the left on the sidebar) and leaving a comment.  You can also enter by leaving suggestions/recipes for great filling ideas.  Please do a separate comment for each entry.  I'll draw a winner on June 20th!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Move day to do!

The day before and the day of a move are super busy days.  Make sure you are well prepared.  The more you do ahead, the easier these days will be.

-We like to vacate the premises.  Get your family and everything they will need on the road out of the house.  Stay in a hotel or with friends (if possible).  We will be staying in our travel trailer.  *If you can't do this then designate one room to put the things you want to stay with you.  You may even want to pack things up in the car.  Make sure you have a good sized place designated as "do not pack" and keep all of your stuff for the trip in there.

  -Since you are not staying in the house you can wash all of the sheets when you get up the morning before the official move day.  Now they will be all fresh and clean for you on the other end (packing up a set for each bed and taking them with you is a good idea.  That way you are not frantically looking around for sheets at the end of your first move in day.)

-You need a Hardware box with a sharpie and lots of plastic zipper bags.  This is where you will put all hardware as things are disassembled.  Label each bag and put it in the box.   TAKE THIS BOX WITH YOU; do NOT send it with the movers.  This way you have all of your hardware and can put things together as they come off the truck instead of searching through boxes late into the night so that you can put the baby's bed together (or yours).

  -Is everything set up the way you want your movers to be packing?  In bins?  In the room you want it packed in?  Window treatments down (and washed)?  Electronics unplugged?  High value items marked (to make inventory easier)?  Professional (Pro) gear marked (if needed)?  Kitchen cleared out? (You really don't want any perishables or liquids packed.  The movers shouldn't pack these things, but sometimes they do).  Make sure money, jewelry, and medications are in your stash of things to take (this includes the kids' piggy banks!).  Think about any special instructions you need to give the movers.

-Are drinks, snacks and meals set up/planned for the coming day(s)?  These are junk food days for us.  I try to start our days with a healthy (but easy) breakfast.  Hard boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, muffins are some great (easy) options.  Lunch is take out/delivery we like to do pizza and sub-sandwiches.  I'll try to do some home-made dinners; now is the time to pull out those freezer meals you prepared.  I'll have a couple of casseroles available and we will likely do tacos (pre-cooked meat makes this easy to do).

-Keep your internet connected as long as you can; if you are addicts (like us).

-Have your older kids hang out with your packers (and you wander around the house).  The kids will be able to spot things that should not be packed (or should be, that are not), and keep things moving along.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Moving Party! Join the live FB fun!

Our movers/packers are coming next week!  Yikes!

I'm hostessing a Thirty-One Gifts virtual party on Facebook where I'll be posting about our day and how I'm using some great Thirty-One products.  I'd love to have you join me!  This is a Mystery Hostess Party which means at least one lucky lady who places an order on this party will be enjoying the hostess benefits!  What fun that will be!

I'm going to leave the FB party "open" for a while so that anyone can join.  If you're curious about how a moving day goes for us (large family/military life), just want to see what we're up to, want to shop, or are curious about Thirty-One's great bags then come join in the fun!  You can always shop at  For this party you will want to click on the "My Parties" tab and shop through the "On the Move/Mystery Hostess" party.

I do hope you will join me, it will make moving/packing day so much more fun!  This party will close on June 9th.

*I am an Independent Consultant for Thirty-One gifts.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Move prep 1 week out

So, you've done the major de cluttering for your move.  You've organized the major stuff.  Now its time to get into the details of your move.  You're going to be busy these couple of weeks, try to go into it rested (I know, easier said than done).

-Start packing toys, clothes, travel goodie bags, travel snacks.

-Shop for move needs.  Drinks and snacks for move day(s); for the family and the movers.  Figure out what you will be eating on the move days and make arrangements (don't plan on cooking, this is a time for take out/prepared foods).  Paper plates, napkins, cutlery will make life easier.  Lots of garbage/zipper bags will be needed.

-Take down/disassemble anything you possibly can.  Shelves hanging on walls can come down.  Window treatments can come down (wash them, then they will be clean for the new house).  Electronics should be unplugged and dusted well.  Figure out when you will be unplugging the computers (we like to wait until the last minute).

-Vacate the house before the movers come.  That way all you need for your move/trip is out of the house.  With a large family we just have so much stuff that can get in the way.  The last thing you want to be doing on move day is rounding up the stuff you need to take with you and racing the movers to the things you need (because that will happen anyways).  Firm up those plans.  If leaving is not an option; move all of your stuff into one room.  Make sure NOTHING in that room needs to be packed by the movers.

-Designate a "do not pack" space.  Sometimes we use the bathroom that the pets are in.  Sometimes a closet.  Once we used a baby coral/play yard/baby gate area.  Chose a space that is easy to mark.  Don't put too much in it, just things you absolutely must have in the home but don't want packed.  I'd have things like my diaper bag, purse, laptop/tablet, toys and blankets/pillows for littles to nap with.

-Keep up with the laundry.  Find out when you will lose access to your washing machine/dryer.  Don't use it within 24 hours of that time.  You want to let it dry out so it does not mold in transit.  You do want to wash all sheets so that they will be clean on the other end; factor that in.  Same goes for your freezer/refrigerator.  If they are moving with you they will need time to dry out.

-Make your move day(s) to do list.  All of those little things you can't do yet, but are very important not to forget.  Use your list as your brain, you will be scattered and frazzled on your move days.  You will be pulled in many directions.  The less thinking you need to do the better.  I'll keep a running list on my phone.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kids and moving!

Kids are a big part of your large family move.  Preparing them, and making preparations for them will help make things go smoothly.  From babies to teens they all have their needs and struggles during this time.  Preparing them for your move should start early (the older they are, the sooner you start talking to them about the move).

Many have asked us if the moves are hard on the kids.  The answer?  Yes and no.  Moving is hard on everyone.  It is exhausting.  The stress is mental, emotional and physical.  No one gets away from this.  However I do believe that my kids have done fairly well through all of our moves.  I think homeschooling helps them.  They are moving with their main social unit.  This provides great stability for them.  We keep them involved in the plans and the process.  We talk them through it.  Over the years they have seen us to be true to our word in making great efforts to re-unite them with dear friends when possible.  They know that these "good-byes" are likely not forever; they are excited about the new friends they are sure to make and the many new experiences they have to look forward to.

We usually do a study on the new place we are moving to.  What is the climate like?  What sort of wildlife and vegetation will we see there?  What makes this place special?  Are there things there that will remind us of where we have been living?  Do we know anyone there?  If we know where we will be living we try to get pictures of the house.

Months out we start talking about people and places we want to see one last time.  Are there any dear friends we need to make an effort to see, to spend extra time with?  It can be hard to find the time during this busy season, but you need to set aside times to fellowship with dear friends.  It will do your heart good.

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 
I'm thankful for a dear friend that is letting my kids come over about once a week to play with her kids so that I can work.  This time is not just a blessing because of the work I'm able to do, but because of the good medicine it is for my children's hearts.  Now if only us moms could get out together for a bit!

Some practical/physical things you can do for your kids are....make sure they see their things being packed up.  Bonus points if you can let them see some other family's things being delivered to their new home (this is easy if you are living on base).  Let them pick some favorite toys to bring with them (or you pick favorite toys for them).

Kids need to be kept busy during the move.  Don't just let them wander around making trouble.  Have toys, snacks and activities planned for them.  Can they go play at a friend's house for a couple of hours to give them (and you) a break?
Have some easy snacks available.

A little box full of special toys and activities available will save you much trouble (make sure you think about what will be appropriate on each end of the move).  Get it ready weeks ahead.  Make sure you have things available for all age groups that you have, though your older kids may pack some of their own things or be helping with the move more.  Don't let this box be a "free for all" you pick when and what they will play with.  Some ideas...
-Could they do playdoh?  Maybe in a corner of a (non-carpeted) floor?
-rolling a ball through a (nearly) empty room/house is loads of fun
-Bubbles outside on the porch?
-Dolls for girls, cars for boys (I have a new set of Snap 'n style dolls for the girls, Hot Wheels for the boy)
-DVD and books for a quiet time (naps may be hard to work out)
-legos could keep kids busy for a bit
-coloring books and crayons?
-a game or two? (this could be great for older kids)
This bag is full of activities for the kids.  They are wrapped so that they can be out in the open, but not all used at once (out of sight, out of mind).  They are labeled so that I know what day to pull them out.  Playdoh is best done on our starting end where we have more non carpeted areas for that play.  Legos will be pulled out on the other end where the "lost" legos will be found.  These don't have to be new toys, just swipe them from the kids' rooms 2-4 weeks before the move.

Find ways for them to help with the work.  That is easy for the older kids.  They often help supervise the packing process.  Little kids can help pass out drinks at appropriate times, pick up garbage (make it a game; the most pieces in 2 minutes or so).  Think about what you are doing.  Can the child do any simple portions of your job?

Babies and toddlers have a hard time (in other ways) with moves.  They know things are changing, but they don't understand how.  Keep them close.  Don't just pass them off on sitters on these busy days.  They will likely love being in the baby carrier.  The Ergo is great for older babies/toddlers.  Wear the baby as much as you can.  You are their world, if you are close they will feel safe(r).  Baby gear is big and bulky, but may be worth it to bring with you.  It can be harder to let little ones play during a move, having a safe place like a saucer or playpen can be a big blessing.

Your children will feed off of your emotions and actions.  If you are excited and happy about the move, they will be more likely to be.  If you are stressed and frazzled; its likely they will be too.  By preparing your home slowly over time you can avoid some of the stress.  Do you have things that help you through stressful times?  Use them!  I'll be sure that I have plenty of "Stress Away" and "Peace & Calming" oils on hand for all of us and plenty of the foods that help us feel good (healthy, not indulgences).  Keep your family grounded in God's word, and praying often.  He is faithful, let your children see you continuing to put your trust in HIM!