10.30.2011

Oil-Free Pumpkin Granola Recipe

We've pretty much come to the conclusion that I love pumpkin anything.  You name it, I dig it.  Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies...and yes, pumpkin granola!  Thankfully, the Hubby doesn't mind pumpkin too much ;)


I originally found this recipe via Pinterest (where I seem to find, um, everything these days), from Two Peas and Their Pod.  After making it twice, I put a photo of its delicious yumminess up on Facebook...and everybody and their sister asked me for the recipe!  So here's my take on this delicious concoction...which isn't much different from the original, save for my add-ins!



Pumpkin Granola
Ingredients:
5 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (heaping)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (heaping)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries *
1/3 cup sunflower seeds *
1/2 cup sliced almonds *

*or whatever dried fruit/nuts/seeds you fancy!  If I had pepitas, I would use those!

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, spices, and salt. Mix well.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated. They will be moist. Evenly and thinly spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 15-25 minutes or until the granola is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and stir in dried cranberries, nuts and seeds. Let cool completely (or you'll end up with mushy granola). Store in an airtight container.

This won't get quite as crunchy as some granolas, because it isn't laden with oil. I think sacrificing a little crunch for health is okay though ;)  The Hubby tells me that it's delicious as a yogurt parfait, but I wouldn't know.  I can tell you though, that it is perfect with (not-from-a-cow) milk over the top of it! 


I'll be sharing this oil-free pumpkin granola at some fun link parties this week!  ;)

See this featured at Bacon Time with the Hungry Hypo! 

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10.28.2011

Fall-esque decor...better late than never

Most blogs have probably moved on from fall related posts to winter ones, but I like to extend fall as long as I can!  I mean, come on, it's still October people!  We should at least pretend it wasn't 29 degrees this morning or that my car had a quarter inch of frost on it! 

Last year, I didn't really have any fall-esque decor.  Actually, we didn't really have any seasonal decor whatsoever (save for Christmas!).  Instead of buying fun decorations prior to or during the appropriate season, I just waited until the seasons were winding down and bought everything on clearance, in a true frugalista fashion.  So last year, our fall/halloween decorations went up on November 1st!  Don't worry, they did go up in a more timely fashion this year than this post is being written!  

Can we talk about how I adore having a mantel to decorate?  I mean, I might not be the greatest at it, but I do enjoy having the option available ;)


The vast majority of those decorations are from Meijer, of all places.  The tray and floral picks aren't, nor are the candles (pumpkin pie candles - is there anything better??).


The crackly black pumpkin on the far right is one of those Dollar Tree foam pumpkins, painted using a crackle medium.  I had a very classy painting technique:

1 - jam pencil into bottom of pumpkin so you can paint the entire thing without waiting for it to dry or getting paint all over your hands.  2 - use an old plastic salad greens lid as your palette.  3 - allow pumpkins to dry balanced on frappuccino bottles.  4 - can you tell I do my painting on my dryer?  I told you - classy!

During our annual Shipshewana flea market trip, my sister and I each got one of these cutie pie metal jack-o-lanterns. 

I'll have you know that is a hand held, two second long exposure on the right.  Shazaam!  I think my heart must have stopped beating.

But...my favorite fall-esque decor can be found on my front door!  Just a little project I completed one night a couple of weeks ago while the Hubby was gone shadowing.


Don't you love it?  My corn husk wreath...and I thought the only purpose for corn husks was tamale making!  I was totally and completely inspired by Brandi's Corn Husk Wreath over at Don't Disturb This Groove.  She based her wreath on a tutorial by Martha Stewart...but personally I think Brandi's turned out much better!  She's got great how-to instructions on her blog, so head over there to see how it comes together.   


My wreath used a 14" wreath form, less than 16 ounces of corn husks (I bought a pound at Save a Lot for $3.69), and some fall-ish floral picks from Hobby Lobby.  I couldn't find the u-shaped pins that Brandi used, so I bought these at Hobby Lobby from their floral section.


They worked, but my fingers started hurting while pushing them in part way through, so hopefully you can find a better option.  Or perhaps I'm just a wimp - that's definitely possible too!

Have you decorated for fall yet, or are you anti-seasonal decorating?  I'm surprised at how many people are!

I'll be sharing my fall-esque decor with some of these lovely link parties this week!  

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10.25.2011

A Story & A Game.

A Story:

As a post-musculoskeletal domain exam celebratory activity, the Hubby and I went to an apple orchard yesterday before dinner.  While there, we had a slight conundrum.  Not on the type of apples to buy, because we love Jonagold apples to eat and Spies for baking.  Our issue came with the amount of apples we purchased.  You see, unlike at a grocery store, where apples are sold by the pound, regardless of whether you buy one pound or five pounds, prices at apple orchards decrease with the larger quantity of apples that you buy.  For example, at "our" orchard:  1/4 peck: $3.  1/2 peck: $5.  Full peck: $8.  (Not from the country/have no idea what a peck is?  A peck is a quarter of a bushel.  A bushel of apples weighs about 45-48lbs, on average).  

So we strolled out of the orchard yesterday with a full peck of Jonagold apples, after the sweet old farmer explained the best way to make them last for at least a month.  Upon arriving home, we weighed our apples out of curiosity, after I guesstimated they weighed about 12 pounds, based on the tried and true carrying-on-the-hip-this-weighs-about-as-much-as-a-two-month-old-baby test*.  The result?  10.5 pounds of apples.  For a family. Of two.  My goodness.  

*My husband thought I was nuts in my reasoning for my somewhat close guess as to the weight.  I wanted to Google the average weight of a two-month-old infant.  Instead he, naturally, got out his CDC Growth Charts to explain to me EXACTLY when an infant would weigh as much as our apples, how it varied for boys and girls, and into which percentiles these babies would fall.  After much consideration, we decided that two months was indeed the appropriate age to use.  Thank you so very much, Husband ;) *

After all of this apple selecting and weighing, we opened our refrigerator to store our apples...and very rapidly realized that 32 apples takes up a LOT of room.  This leads us to:

A Game: What's in your fridge?:

 
I've seen this game scattered around blog land.  It's rather intimate, when you think about it, allowing perfectly good strangers to see inside of your refrigerator.  One can learn a lot about a person by what they have in their fridge.   The rule is that you can't take anything out of your fridge before taking your pictures...lucky for me I threw out that past-its-prime cilantro yesterday!  

A few questions to get us started right:

List a few common items that can always be found in your fridge.  Eggs, orange juice, non-dairy milk of some variety, dark greens/cucumbers/carrots, hummus, coconut milk butter, whole wheat tortillas, red wine vinegar and yogurt. 
 
How often do you clean out your refrigerator? Don't stop reading my blog because of it, but I definitely clean my fridge every week, right after going grocery shopping/prior to taking care of my groceries.  It's the best time to do it - the shelves are emptier, you can dispose of anything that should go away, and you can just wipe it down quickly before restocking everything back where it belongs.   

How often do you shop for groceries? Once a week.  I plan our meals to avoid "running to the store" throughout the week.  I grocery shop really really early on Monday mornings.  Before some people are even awake.  Because I can. not. stand. the crowds at Meijer.  I like parking in the same spot every week, between the handicapped spot and the cart coral.  I like having the same cute greeter greet me.  I like to have the whole aisle to myself.  I like not having an entire family of six all standing in front of the bananas, quarreling about which bunch is the best bunch to get, and monopolizing the space so that I cannot see, let alone reach, any bananas.  I like to use the self-checkout lane and not have to wait for it.  I like not having anyone behind me in line so that they can't roll their eyes and complain when I use my coupons.  I would cry if someone forced me to shop at Meijer on the weekends, during peak times.  My patience is not that great. 

What’s the most unhealthy thing in your fridge right now?  That would have to be the BBQ ribs waiting to be cooked tomorrow for dinner...nom nom nom.  

Ready for our adventure?  Here's your peek inside my fridge...You can only look at the following pictures if you play along ;) 

Top Shelf:  (this shelf is hard to get a decent photo of with the glaring bright light)
Well...lets see.  This is where the Hubby's yogurt goes, along with our tortillas and coconut milk "butter" (which you can almost see behind the yogurts).  Also various leftovers: today you'd find (from the left) leftover homemade pizza and homemade pita bread, veggie broth and beef broth, cut up celery and carrots, leftover pierogies, stir fry and chicken veggie soup tucked in the back there, homemade red pepper and plain hummus in those green containers, and the pizza toppings leftovers: tomato, artichokes, red onion and pineapple.  And that's just the top shelf! (I think we should have had leftovers for dinner!).


Middle Shelf:
Here, we find eggs, four logs of goat cheese (ALDI of all places had goat cheese this week, for an awesome price.  I stocked up!), salad greens, mushrooms, broccoli hiding behind the mushrooms, spy apples and pears in the back container, red grapes in the front, and a package of BBQ ribs which my husband has been requesting for weeks ;)  Normally the greens, mushrooms and broccoli would go in the crisper, but there's something else (that weighs 10.5 pounds) taking up the space in their home.  


Bottom Shelf:
Beverage center!  Orange juice, grapefruit juice, Spicy V8, V8 Fusion, organic soymilk, water, Starbucks Frappuccino (singular - but I use the little cardboard containers to keep my spicy V8 juice from falling over), and two bottles of way too hoppy beer hidden behind the OJ.  Also pictured: a half gallon of red wine vinegar (I use it on and in everything!), ground corn meal, whole wheat flour and a pair of green peppers.  There is also some baking soda somewhere on this shelf.


Crisper Drawers:
Well.  There's celery (more as to why my celery looks like it's from outer space in an upcoming post), three pounds of carrots, some zucchini and cucumber, and a leek (found directly underneath the "leek" sign with the picture on it, thank goodness, Marisa!!).  The right crisper has the 10.5 pounds of apples instead of the greens, mushrooms, broccoli and peppers. 

The Door:
Here's the wonderful world of condiments.  Up top: three heads of garlic - almost enough to last me a week (half kidding only), and yeast.  First shelf: salsa, roasted red peppers, freezer jam, and pumpkin butter.  Dijon mustard, regular mustard, BBQ, Simply Heinz Ketchup (aka no HFCS), more red wine vinegar (in a easy pour container) and hot sauce.  Next shelf: Vidalia onion salad dressing (I use this on pasta salad instead of a typical sauce.  I don't read the ingredients because I'm sure there are plenty of words on that list that I couldn't pronounce, but it is so yummy!), homemade Italian dressing, peperoncini peppers, garlic stuffed olives, pickles, relish (we have an affinity for vinegar, apparently), fish oil, Sriracha chili sauce (which no fridge should be without!), worcestershire, lemon and lime juices, and sugar water - I mean, "maple syrup."

Whew.  That's it.  That's our fridge.  It's full today, but will be empty by Sunday.  We do not waste food in this home!  If there are leftovers that we aren't going to eat, I freeze them for the Hubby to have for dinner on nights when I'm not here to cook for him (not that he can't cook!  I just prefer that he doesn't have to take the time from studying).  I'd show you my freezer, but I mean, there's pig legs in there.  That just spells chaos.  Have you ever tried to organize a freezer around pig legs?  They are an awkward shape and length, and take up way too much of my precious and limited space.  You'll just have to use your imagination on that one! 

So what's in your fridge this week?  If you play along, leave a comment with the link to your post, and I'll add it here (because really, who doesn't like a glimpse into others lives!).  Hope you've had fun!  I'm going to go eat an apple or six...

10.23.2011

Beatboxing. Cellist. Ah-may-zing.


We had the absolute honor of seeing Gungor perform recently.  If they are ever going to be in a town near you, or within a two hundred mile radius of you, I would totally recommend buying a ticket for yourself.  And your family.  And your friends.  They are simply unbelievable live. 

In this video above, the cellist beatboxes (as he did when they performed).  How cool is that?  You have to watch it.  At any one time, all three of the musicians at the concert were playing between one and three instruments. 

Their new album is out.   The Hubby just bought and downloaded it.  I cannot wait to listen to it! 

I hope your weekend was relaxing.  Mine involved too much running around to be considered relaxing, but my heart is full.  For what more could I ask?

10.15.2011

Pinterest Love: No Heat Hair Curling

I don't normally post about things related to hair and/or hair styling.  Why?  Because I am completely slightly hair stupid.  Yes, it's true:  I can barely do my own hair.  I mean, okay, I can blow dry and run a flat iron over my hair.  But after that?  I can barely pull it back into a barrette.   This is how my hair looks pretty much every day: straight and down.  Unless it's in a super glamorous pony tail. 

Helllooooo Emily + Colorado!

Enter: Pinterest (solving the world's problems, one pin at a time!).  There are tons of pretty hair styles on there, all of which I know I cannot do.  So you can imagine my overflowing joy when I found a hair style that not only required minimal effort, but was, dare I say, pretty!?!  The best part?  I tried it and learned that even I can pull it off!  It's way more simple than the whole blow dry/flat iron routine.  

Get pumped.  I am.  I feel like I've stuck hair gold!  You know those girls, who have that hair, the hair that is voluminous and full of soft, gentle curls, where birds fly around them and angels sing?  There is potential for that with this hair curling technique.  I mean, I haven't hear any angels singing, but the Hubby does like it!  Basically, it's an "overnight" hair style - wash your hair the night before and let it air dry, then twist it up into a lovely 'do using an elastic headband, and let it out in the morning to reveal the magic curls!

Me, with magic curls.  Sorry, I'm awkward.  You all know that.  I apologize.

Here's the Pin that started it all [thank you to The Paper Mama for playing guinea pig!].  This worked well with my hair which is a) ridiculously thick and b) just past my shoulders.  It normally doesn't hold a curl from a curling iron for more than three hours, and this lasted all day (relaxing some, obviously).  I did put in some curling mousse prior to winding it up into the elastic, and followed the "spray the heck" out of it recommendation.

The way you put your hair overnight looks a little...mature.  The Hubby and I were trying so hard to figure out who it makes me look like, and it finally came to me: 

  photo source 

Kitty from That '70s Show!  Terrible, no?  That might be a potential blackmail photo on the left, but you can see how the hair should be twisted into the elastic, so I'm showing you regardless!

Ready for the video how-to?  This gal does a very thorough job at explaining every possible detail.   By saying that, I mean that the entire time that she spends shooting this video is about twice as long as it actually takes to do it.

Just FYI, I do not brush out the curls like she does.  

This works so well!  I've done it a couple of times now...the shorter you leave your hair in the elastic, the looser the curls become.  I've told quite a few people about this, and they've had good results too (right Amanda??).  Here's how mine looked after leaving in the elastic for about six hours:


I'm telling you...hair gold!  Try it and let me know how it works for you!  I'll be sharing this awesome trick with some of these parties this week.

See these curls featured at A Little Knick Knack and at It's a Keeper!!

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10.11.2011

Poor Man's Pesto

Is your basil plant still producing in October, so randomly, like mine?  It is?  Perfect!  Let's make one last batch of "Poor Man's Pesto" (which I could just as easily call Med Student's Pesto...).   There are a million different pesto recipes out there, but this is what makes our taste buds do a happy dance.

A few pretty pictures to get us started right...
   
I'll be honest (because I am an honest person): This is not all basil from my plant - my farmer neighbor helped bulk up my supply. 

I ran out of garlic a couple of weeks ago.  That was a first - I nearly cried.   I put garlic in EVERYthing and don't know how to cook without it.

So are you curious why in the world do I call my pesto "Poor Man's Pesto"?  Primarily because I am waaay too cheap to buy pine nuts.  Instant, less expensive substitute?  Walnuts!

Poor Man Pesto
Ingredients
2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
1-2 garlic cloves (depending on your taste buds)
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup goat cheese (or cheese of your casein loving preference) 
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp. of each) 

Directions
In your food processor (I adore my simple Ninja), chop your nuts until fine (but not completely powder!).  Add in the basil and garlic; pulse.  Once this is all combined, add in the remaining ingredients.  If it seems too thick, add a bit of extra olive oil.  Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. 

And that's it!  So quick and simple.  The longest part is picking the basil leaves off the stem...but it smells so amazing that you won't even mind.  I pinkie promise.  This stuff is gold as a dip for bread or eaten straight off of a spoon, or as a sauce on pasta.

 

I'll be sharing this easy to make and easy on the wallet recipe with some of these fun places this week!

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10.09.2011

Conversations with the future doctor, parts 3 & 4

It's been a very long and intense grueling painful arduous week of studying here in the Dr + Mrs household.  Perhaps too much fun last weekend (and I never even mentioned the wedding we had, in addition to my birthday) had a negative affect on the Hubby's normally meticulous study routine??  

We've definitely been paying for it....it's been nothing but serious work around here for the last six days.  The Hubby has his Infectious Disease & Immunology domain (aka Bugs & Drugs) exam tomorrow morning at 7.30am.  Needless to say, we've had a very fun weekend ;)

For your giggling pleasure, two (all-too-common) conversation snippets from this weekend.   

Part 3 : [Saturday, around 9.30pm]
Hubby: Okay, I think I'm going to be done studying for tonight.
Wife: That's probably allowed.  You've been studying for at least 14 hours today.
Hubby: (ponders) No, no - nope.  I can keep going - I've got one more bug in me.
Wife: takes this statement literally and laughs at thought "one more bug" inside of her husband (thinking of a bug like a caterpillar, not some harmful bug like diphtheria.  I wouldn't laugh if my husband had diphtheria!  Gosh.  What were you thinking??).


Part 4 : [Sunday, early afternoon]
Hubby:  Okay.  I think I'm going to do drugs for the next 3-4 hours.
Wife: patiently waits for husband to realize what he just stated.  (He didn't). (And he meant STUDY drugs, just for clarification).

I'm sure you're curious what I did all weekend while my primary form of entertainment was up to his eyeballs in his bugs and drugs.  Aside from quizzing the Hubby, of course.


Fall cleaning!  Yay!  Isn't spending A-L-L day doing things like vacuuming under all of the furniture, cleaning the air vents and de-liming the coffee pot everybody's favorite way to spend a glorious, unseasonably warm day??  ;)

Lesson learned this weekend: There are some things that I simply cannot do alone.  For instance, I should not attempt to move a king-sized mattress by myself.  There were several moments of sheer mattress-tottering panic before the Hubby came to my rescue!!  Hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  Maybe you're a lucky duck and have Columbus Day off from work! 

10.06.2011

Day of Birth

Isn't it funny how with every passing year, birthdays become a little less awesome?  I mean, let's face it, birthdays are great when you are a kid: toys, birthday party, too much cake.   The "milestone" birthdays are fun, because you can celebrate firsts: getting a driver's license,  then buying your first lotto ticket (which I've yet to do), then having a glass of wine.  But after that?  What's next to get excited about, turning 30??  No toys, no parties, no cake unless you make one for yourself.  

Now that I'm thoroughly depressed with the lack of cake in my belly (kidding - my MIL made me cookies, which I would choose over cake any day)...it was my birthday this week.  Since I am >21 and <30, it wasn't a milestone.  The highlights of my day consisted of driving our dear friend Kyle to the airport, touring an art show downtown and eating some of the best Ahi tuna I've ever enjoyed at a restaurant we would never normally go to (thanks Groupon!).   Here are some highlights of our art tour for your viewing pleasure: 


1: tribute to fallen soldier
2: the Hand of God [depiction of Jacob wrestling with God]
3: monkeys hanging on a bridge [doesn't this remind you of these?]
4: huge dog sculpture [made of reclaimed junk]
5: bears in a fountain [carved with a chainsaw!]
6: a map of the USA [made out of cast iron skillets]


7: horse sculpture [jumping over me!]
8: tile mosaic of the crucifixtion
9: close up of tile detail
 10: field of wildflowers [made of plastic waterbottles]
11: art in action [see the guy painting on the right]

Also, this father/son duo was one of my favorites...they were the best "statues" I'd ever seen.  Check out the video for proof!  (don't mind me saying 'thank you' and 'sorry' a dozen times to all of the people ducking under my recording). 
All in all, it was a darn good day, primarily because any time spent with the Hubby with minimal studying occurring (which he may or may not be regretting right now!) is a good time!  

PS - thanks for having me, parents!  The Hubby and I appreciate it ;)

10.04.2011

DIY $1 Scarf Organizer

While I'm hopeful that winter will not come this year, I'm acutely aware that it will.  The frost on my car yesterday (and plants - shoot!) is hard to ignore.  

If you're anything like me, you bundle up totheMAX at the first sign of colder weather.  I have no shame in admitting that both thermals and gloves came out for me in September.  And while I might loathe winter, I do mildly enjoy dressing for it.  Namely in the form of scarves.  I have a few dozen.  My scarf collection is like a trip around the world...plus several from Target ;) 


My ever-growing scarf collection does pose a problem however - the art of storing the scarves so that they are accessible, easy to put away and don't get super wrinkled (all of which my current method of storing causes - shoving into a hanging shelf in our entryway coat closet) has eluded me.


Until now, that is.  When all else fails, head to the dollar store, and come up with a solution so simple that it's silly.  Ready for the too-easy how-to?  

1: Buy a pack of shower curtain rings (there's your $1):


 2.  Go home and link them all together in a long chain:


3: Tape around the joints where the rings open so that they don't snag your scarves (leave a ring on one of the ends un-taped).


4: Layer on the scarves, shortest ones towards the bottom so that they don't hit the floor:


5: Load it up with all of your scarves and use the open/non-taped hook at the end to hang it around the rod in your coat closet:


And voila!  So simple, yet so useful!  Plus now I have room to put all of my hats/mittens on those hanging shelves in our coat closet - double win ;)  

I'll be sharing this simple idea at these awesome link parties this week...be sure to check them out!  

See this featured over at Bacon Time with the Hippos!
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