Monday, February 27, 2012

Celebrate

This week I'm talking about the word—celebrate—instead of writing about it. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Granola Bars


I've always wanted to come up with a good and good-for-you granola bar to replace the candy "granola" bars from the store (which my kids prefer). I have two recipes that I like: the first is one I've made several times in the past few years and really enjoyed. The second was a mistake I made earlier this week when I didn't have all of the first ingredients. I think I might like it better than the first recipe (isn't that just the way it works?).

These bars end up more like the original crunchy health-food kind of granola bars. Here's my first basic recipe:
Granola Bars, Take 1
1 cup oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup coconut, toasted
2/3 cup honey
1 cup chocolate chips, nuts, and/or dried fruit of choice
3 Tbsp powdered milk

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 pan. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add honey and mix through, then pat down into pan. (Grease your fingers and press the mixture down tightly with your fingers.) Bake at 250 degrees for 1/2 hour. 

If you find you're out of rice cereal and powdered milk and you only have a tiny bit of honey (but you have other ingredients to play with), you can still make yummy granola bars as follows:

Granola Bars, Take 2
1 cup oats
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup toasted coconut
2/3 cup sweetener (about half honey, half maple syrup...would probably work with your favorite sweetener...)
1 cup yummies...I included mini chocolate chips, chopped almonds, and dried currants

Mix oats, coconut, chocolate chips, fruit, and almonds in a bowl. Stir in sweetener and mix well, then pat mixture down tightly into greased 9 x 12 pan and bake at 250 for 1/2 hour.

For either of these recipes, once you remove the pan from the oven, allow the bars to cool and set for a while before cutting. I cut them into serving sizes and wrap in wax paper, then tuck them into kids' lunches (or snack on them when blogging at 1 am)!

Have you ever made granola bars? What other ingredients do you like to add?

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to know if colors "go"

When I make favors for special occasions, I'm often asked, "will these colors look good together?" Here's one of the ways I know when colors "go."



(I'd love it if you subscribe to my YouTube channel. I'm determined to get better at this and I promise the next one won't sound like I'm talking in a tin can!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fragrances To Retire Soon

When I did inventory last month, I discovered a handful of fragrances and flavors that have not been ordered very often in the past year. Rather than continuing to stock those items, I've decided it's time to retire them to make room for more popular options!

In my newsletter last month I announced the retirement of Citrus Rose, which will be followed by Rose at the end of this month (still a few weeks if you're interested!). Here's the rest of the fragrances we will be setting aside in the next month or two. These will be available for a short time while supplies last, so stock up if you're a fan:

Blackberry
Citrus & Ginger (Supply issue...this one is no longer available at all)
Cucumber Melon
Lilac
Lily of the Valley


I may add to this list in the coming weeks based on feedback; I'll also be making decisions about the flavors we'll be retiring.

You may be wondering if we already have other fragrances planned, and the answer is YES! We have several fragrances (such as Apricot Freesia and Tulips) which we'll be bringing back this spring, and others that will be back in the fall for the holidays. These Limited Editions are really fun and we'll continue to offer them as long as there is interest. I may also offer some of these retired fragrances as Limited Editions if there is interest in the future.

I'm looking forward to adding a completely new fragrance to our line this spring! This one has clean, marine notes with muguet, musk, and orris, rounded off with citrus. I think this scent is just perfect for beach party favors or destination wedding gifts, and I plan to offer this permanently if people like it. My big challenge right now is what to call it! If you'd like to help, keep watching here and on Facebook...

I just want to finish by telling you how difficult it is to discontinue products. I know that I will almost always end up disappointing someone with these decisions, and I don't take that lightly. Please know that it is always my goal to offer a variety of fragrances and flavors that you will enjoy, without overwhelming you with too many options or wasting your time with choices that don't interest you. As always, I welcome your feedback about these decisions!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

One day last week my husband came home from work, walked into the kitchen where I was making dinner, and patted me on the back.

"How's my favorite girl today?" he asked.

Go ahead and say it: "Aww!" It's what I said, too, and because he isn't in the habit of saying such sweet things, I followed it by joking, "Okay, what do you want?"

But whether he says it every day or not, I know that's how he feels. I feel the same way about him. And whether there are flowers or chocolates involved or not, it's why I'm glad to be spending Valentine's Day with him today!

I hope you get to spend your day with some of your favorite people, too! Happy Valentine's Day!

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you."
- A. A. Milne

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Printable Valentine Circles


I like baking for Valentine's Day. Even if my kids don't need the special goodies for school parties, I like making heart-shaped cookies or just chocolate chip cookies with pink and red chocolate candies on top. If they aren't gobbled up immediately, I wrap them to share with family or friends. And it's always handy to have little gift tags to tie on, don't you think?

If you need some Valentine tags (or cupcake toppers), you're welcome to download these printable Valentine's Day circles (PDF file) and print onto the card stock of your choice. You can use paper punches, edger or deckle scissors, or a paper trimmer to make the tags into the shape and size that you need. (The tags are 2 1/2 inches square, so a 2 inch circle punch works well.)

There are three different designs in this file, with different patterns like pink lace and striped ticking. Oh, and of course there are hearts and sweet messages, too! You can use the back of the tag for ingredients or a special message. Punch a hole and thread your favorite ribbon or twine to attach your special gift tags and you're done! (This file is for personal use only, please.)

Here's the recipe I use for my cutout sugar cookies. I also make the traditional Toll House cookie dough and just before baking, I press two or three colorful candies (usually m&ms) into the top.

Do you bake for Valentine's Day? What do you like to make?

(If you'd like to see more of our printables, please visit our website! I'm adding more all the time!)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Are you doing what you need, or what you want?

One of the new things I'm trying this year is exercising on a regular (read: daily) basis. This is not as much about weight loss and appearance as it is about endurance and stress management. Let's be honest and just call it sanity maintenance: I'm less of a basket case when I run and stretch. And when I'm not a basket case, I actually get a lot accomplished.

Of course exercise was something new I was trying last year, and I tried it repeatedly (sometimes successfully) the year before that. My favorite things in the world involve sitting (writing or working on my computer), standing (making lip balm), even reclining (reading a good book, eating chocolate). But running, stretching, lifting...these have never made my list of favorite things. Every day they compete with my favorite things and every day I drag my feet.

Tonight I put dinner in the oven and stood in the kitchen stalling instead of heading down to the treadmill. I went through my usual list of excuses, reasoning that it was the weekend and I'd earned a day off. And then I realized that as much as I didn't want it, I really needed it. So I did it anyway.

The longer I walked, the better I felt. My normal 20 minutes turned into 30, then another 30 of stretches and weights. As tempting as it was to just sit, clearly moving was what I needed to do tonight. I'm going to try to remember how that felt. How often do I do what I need instead of what I want? Not often enough. How about you?

"One-half of life is luck; the other half is discipline, and that's the important half, for without discipline you wouldn't know what to do with luck." - Carl Zuckmeyer

"When you have a number of disagreeable duties to perform, always do the most disagreeable first." - Josiah Quincy

"One who wants to do something, will find a way;
One who doesn't, will find an excuse." -Confucius

(graphic from facebook.com/benefitsofgiving)

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