The Baby Sprinkle

I have this certain group of awesome ladies that let me hang out with them sometimes. They are really great for many reasons, but my favorite is that they make up all sorts of excuses to throw a party. Seriously, we will sit around together, dreaming up new reasons for a party. Our pinterest profiles are always at the ready on our phones and tablets for our next board. Only the best get to make the board first though, you have to be really quick with this group. Maybe you have a group of friends like this, and maybe you don’t. If you don’t, you can join ours, just give us a reason, just a little bits enough, to throw you your initiation party. We will make it simple, I promise.

The truth is we love to throw parties, make beautiful things, and make people happy. It’s our thing. We are more creative together than apart and that makes it so much more fun. At least for me. So I wanted to share with you our latest…The Sprinkle.

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Boo Baskets

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Halloween “Boo”ing.

We were introduced to this tradition when the kids were really young. And we LOVE it. We make up some cute little baskets of goodies to share with our friends and neighbors and then…

Drop it. Knock. RUN.

We used to get caught all the time, but now, we are able to make the get away without anyone seeing us. Usually. Unless someone falls down (which does happen). Or one of the smalls has a change of heart and starts to go back to the door. So many things can go wrong when five little kids are trying to be sneaky! It really is difficult for us to pull this off. But we are getting better.

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And sometimes I think the kids hope to get caught!

But half of the fun is in putting the cute little packages together. We usually buy some treats and a cute container. Then we type the letter and stick it in. This is the one we have been using for a few years now:

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There used to be some rules that went with it about putting the sheet on your door so people knew you had already been boo’ed and then boo’ing two or more people in the next week. blah blah blah..

But we scrapped all that. Who doesn’t want to be boo’ed more than once? And it isn’t a chain letter. Spread it if you want and don’t if this isn’t your year! We don’t need any more pressure as moms, do we?

For some fun inspiration, here are some ideas for boo baskets that we are considering this year:

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Witch Hallloween Party

I think this last one is my favorite, I’m just not sure I will be able to pull it off. Some years it is just so much easier to go through the dollar isle at Target and pick up a simple little container, throw some candy in it and voila.

So if this is your type of thing and it totally energizes you to do it, then by all means pass it on! Either way, I hope you are all boo’ed this year!

School lunches

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I know I should pack the kids lunch boxes the night before, because everyone says I should. But I don’t want their food to get even more soggy than it’s already going to be. So I pack them in the mornings.

This makes for a hectic morning, but I guess I have decided it’s worth, which means I make 5 healthy lunches on the days the preschoolers stay for lunch.

Some days I try to get fancy, but since I have chosen to make the lunches in the morning I often have to resort to some quick things I can just throw in and since the preschool doesn’t allow peanuts anywhere in the facility, I’m having to get creative. I thought I would share some of my go to’s with you for quick fix meals. I will do another post on some great recipes I have for “fancy” lunches at another time.

carrots & hummus

Meal #1
Hummus with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks, crackers or pita slices and a side of fruit.

 

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Meal #2
Cheese sticks with sweet pepper slices, fruit and homemade granola bars.

 

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Meal #3
Cream cheese bagels with fruit.

 

Here are a few good resources for lunch box lunches:

http://thelivelykitchen.com/category/school-lunches/

http://wendolonia.com/blog/2012/08/03/the-week-in-bentos-july-30-august-3-2012/

www.thefresh20.com

 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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Our CSA has been sending zucchini after zucchini after zucchini to us. Unfortunately, my kids don’t like it – not even sautéed. So, I needed to find ways to use this up and get it in them. I found that adding chocolate and sugar to it worked!

So, here is a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread that we are using every week right now. I even took some down to the new neighbors. I hope they liked it!

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans and cool.

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This is the kind of treat you want to sit down and share with a friend on the porch.
Let’s all give it a try this week.

Garden Update

This is the first summer I have attempted a vegetable garden. I have envied many, many gardens over the years and thought I didn’t have the space for one. Then I heard about square foot gardening and realized I could have a garden in as little as 4 square feet. I may not be able to feed my family on it, but we could learn a little and eat a little.

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You may remember this picture taken right after I planted the cucumbers and green peppers in May.

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And this is what it looks like today.

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We are harvesting cucumbers everyday now and I think we will get about 15-20 out of it by the end of the season. They are crisp, juicy and sweet!

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The green peppers are on their way. We have 3 that should be ready soon and it’s hard to tell how many more we will end up with since their season is just starting.

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For years I have been growing basil in a little pot. This year it isn’t doing as well as it has in the past. I just moved it to a sunnier spot to see if that will help. But there is plenty for my tomato basil mozzarella sandwiches. And the other day I made basic boxed tortellini, drizzled it with olive oil and threw chopped tomatoes and fresh basil strips on top. Oh, yummy!

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Finally, the mint is doing nicely. Again, not as well as in past years, so I moved it as well, but plenty for us. I love mint on green beans (oddly enough it is a very tasty combo). I throw some salt and lime juice with minced mint onto blanched green beans for a quick snack or dinner side.

But the one thing that is new this year is mint tea. I actually had to look up a recipe for this because I just wasn’t sure. But yes, it is just this easy: pick 7-10 leaves, put them with 2 cups of water in the microwave for 5-7 minutes. Then stir for 3 minutes and strain the leaves out. I add a touch of raw sugar and love it. Honestly, it isn’t any better than the tea bags you buy in the store, but the fact that I grew it and just plucked it from my garden puts it over the edge.

I hope you are enjoying your garden this summer! Share some of your favorite quick recipes with us!

Energy Bites Recipe

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One of our favorite snacks right now are these energy bites. We first tasted them at our gym where the kids and I eat lunch periodically. Everyone was talking about them, so we tried them. And Yummy!

After we had them several times I went online to see if I could find a recipe for them, and I found plenty! But none of them tasted as good as the ones we ate at the gym. So I asked the ladies in the deli for their recipe and they were more than happy to share it with me. In fact they even wrote it down for me on a scrap piece of paper that I have taped to the inside of my cabinet right next to my dressing recipes for quick reference.

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Energy Bites

1 Cup oats

1/2 Cup peanut butter (I use natural peanut butter)

1/2 Cup ground flaxseed

1/2 Cup chocolate chips (I use the mini ones if I have them)

1/3 Cup honey

1 Tablespoon chia seed

2/3 Cup toasted coconut

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Drop all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir. Then roll a spoonful size amount into balls and refrigerate.

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Enjoy!