Protein Packed Banana Muffins

 On Sunday afternoon my friend Miriam texted me the following: 
I made some gluten-free banana muffins. Can I bring some over?
Who am I to turn down homemade muffins? Back in March she helped me to bake my nephew's birthday cupcakes and she's also the one who gave me the recipe for the easiest granola bars ever. I am familiar with her baking; I will not turn it down!

I'm not super familiar with gluten-free baking. My friend Marissa at Sugar and Spice Gluten Free has let me taste some of the yummy, gluten-free desserts she has made. I really wouldn't have known that they were gluten free; they just taste desserty to me. These muffins that Miriam made were no exception. I took one bite and asked for the recipe. They were moist, packed with protein, and amazing.

The basis of the recipe comes from the blog Elana's Pantry. Below are the adaptations I made.

Protein Packed Banana Muffins
3 bananas
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 T maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups almond flour
1/2 t sea salt
1 t baking soda

1. Mash the bananas with a fork until smooth.
2. Add the eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, butter. Mix.
3. Mix the almond flour, sea salt, and baking soda. Mix thoroughly.
4. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until completely combined.
5. Divide the batter into a greased, standard muffin tin.
6. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes.

Banana Muffins With Streusel Topping



We had a new family move into our neighborhood last week. They are super cute! They have two kids and one one the way very soon. There kids are the same age as ours which is so fun! Speaking from experience, I know it is so hard to move with little ones and being pregnant just adds to the stress level. Also, when we moved into the neighborhood a year ago a lot of the neighbors brought us house warming sweets and other goodies and I thought it was so thoughtful I have been waiting for the opportunity to do it for someone else. I decided on banana muffins because they are my kids favorite. I think I have kind of perfected the recipe. Today I made a double batch. When I popped them in the oven I realized that I completely skipped the sugar. Whoops! I let Anna have one after dinner and she said they were delicious. So I delivered them to the neighbor as planned.

3 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 of a cup of canola oil
1/3 of a cup of unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
5 ripe bananas
3/4 cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 350. I literally toss the above ingredients in my mixer any way I please. I stick ripe bananas in the freezer so that I always have some when I want to make banana muffins. Recently I figured out if I peel them first I can use them in smoothies too. Today I added the ingredients in the following order: bananas, oil, applesauce, egg, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Again, I completely left out the sugar and they still taste sweet. I am cutting the sugar from now on. The original recipe called for 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar which seemed like a lot so I never would put that much in I would usually cut it in half or down to a third of that amount. After filling all of the cups with the batter I prepare the streusel. This makes 24 muffins.

2 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Melt butter in the microwave for a minute. mix in dry ingredients and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!


Earhoox

I always thought I must have irregular shaped ears. The only earphones I could ever get to be comfy were the ones that were the old school over the ear headphones. I finally just got the cheapest pair of headphones from the Bed Bath and Beyond clearance section and resolved to keep fidgeting with the ear-buds the whole time I ran. I considered it a distraction from running. (Glass half full attitude!)
 
A few weeks ago my Mom and Sister were raving about their ear-buds. They showed me their awesome headphones and they fit GREAT. I was all set to amazon.com it when I found out they are about $150. While it could be worth it in the long run I have other things to put my money towards. (Let's start with my current Jamberry Nails obsession!) 
 
When I went home that night an ad popped up on facebook for these things called Earhoox. I don't usually go for these ads but it was a new company giving free samples of these things that you put on your existing ear-buds that look EXACTLY like the part of my Sister and Mom's ear-buds that I thought were so great! It was $4 for shipping so I gave it a try. If they didn't work for me than I would know not to waste my money on the super expensive ones. 

I gave them on a try on Saturday night and they were perfect. No more fiddling with my earphones. Just me, my audiobook and the open road. It's the little things in life that make me happy!

Click HERE to get your free pair!

Peanut Butter Fruit Dip



Since I made this Healthier Peanut Butter Pie, all I want to do is mix peanut butter with vanilla Greek yogurt. Seriously, I think about it a lot. So I decided to make a little fruit dip. I used one cup of fat free vanilla Greek yogurt and a half of a cup of natural peanut butter. The result is delicious. Seriously. We have dipped bananas, apples, and animal crackers in it. The thing I love about this recipe is that you are eating a lot less peanut butter than if you just dipped into straight peanut butter, but it is still packed with protein.





Argh!! Matey!!

It was pirate week at camp and time to make treasure boxes and wear eye patches! So many kids are into pirates these days. Anyone else have "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" stuck in their head now? Maya's teacher came up with the cutest pirate themed project for the week! Most of the materials you can find around the house and it can be as detailed as you want to make it!

Materials:
paper plate
construction paper: black for the patch and color of choice for hat
1 googly eye
marker
paint (optional)
stapler
glue
hole punch
keyring



Homemade String Bubbles, they are GIANT!



Here is another idea from my cousin (isn't she awesome?) These bubbles are not short of amazing! The brilliant part of this recipe, in my opinion, is Karo syrup. I know what that is and I know exactly where to buy it too. I have a hesitation to try recipes with weird ingredients that I have no idea what they are or where to buy them.
 Fill an aluminum roasting pan with: 
1 cup water 
 2 tablespoons light Karo syrup or 2 tablespoons glycerin 
4 tablespoons dish washing liquid
Have the kids dip different sized strings tied to make a circle into the bubbles and move the string around loaded with the bubble solution.  Makes the biggest bubbles. What if I made a huge batch of this? Maybe you could dip hula hoops into it. 


Don't forget to enter our contest!

We Are Waiting For Your Contest Entry!!

Did you enter our contest yet? Did you? Did you?

There are still 12 days left to win this adorable handmade dress! Anna has the beautiful one in the picture, Addie also has one and Maya's is being made as we speak. (Type? Read?) They are classic dresses that are every little girl's dream to wear. Enter below. Any questions? Comment or email us!



Win A Handmade Dress In The Size Of Your Choice!




We are giving away a dress handmade by Sadie, like the one pictured above, in the size of your choice! There are tons of ways to enter the contest, like our Facebook page


Sarah's S'more Obsession

I'm walking through the grocery aisle of Target thinking about s'mores. (Totally normal, right?) I seem to have an obsession with them this summer. I've tried them on regular, cinnamon and chocolate graham crackers. I've used both Hershey and Cadbury chocolate. I tried making s'more brownies. 

I was just about to head to the graham cracker aisle when the light bulb appeared over my head. (Or at least is should have!) Chocolate marshmallows, graham cracker cereal in treat form. (Think s'mores crispy treats!) I went home and set to work. They were even better than I imagined. TRY. THEM. NOW.

S'mores Treats

1 bag chocolate brownie marshmallows
3 T butter
6 cups graham cracker cereal

1. Melt the butter over medium heat.
2. When melted add the marshmallows and stir until they are melted.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the cereal until it is coated in the marshmallow mixture.
4. Pour into a greased pan.
5. Use greased wax or parchment paper to press the treats into the pan evenly. Try to wait until they are cool to cut them!

Entry Table Makeover

I was recently given this cool sofa table. It was the perfect size table to put at the bottom of our steps. Even before I brought it home, I knew I would paint it. After much consideration I decided to give it an extra touch to give it a more modern feel. Here is the before.



I took the doors off and filled the holes from the hinges with wood putty. Then I used a medium grit sanding block and sanded the entire thing except for the top. The top had some pretty deep scratches so I used an electric sander to smooth out the top. Next I painted two coats of dark grey paint. I was so excited when I found these baskets in my craft room. They fit perfect! Here is the after. What do you think? The cups are compliments of my mother-in-law, a ceramic artist. Aren't they beautiful? I love the color of the glaze!






Quinoa With Black Beans

Once upon a time someone submitted an amazing recipe to Allrecipies.com. A few years later a girl named Heather (a friend of my sister and me) discovered it and made some changes to liven it up. The end.

Okay, it's not the end. Heather and I were talking about vegetarian/vegan options to make when our herbivore friends came over for lunch. I was tired of egg salad, soup is only refreshing in the winter and PBJ is so elementary school. She whipped out a bunch of recipes and this is one of them. Colorful, nutritious and, most importantly, delicious!

Quinoa with Black Beans
Ingredients
1 chopped onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil (or enough to saute the onion and garlic)
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 chopped red bell peper
juice of 1 lime
1 can rinsed black beans

1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned.
2. Add the quinoa, cumin, cayenne and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. 
3. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add the frozen corn and cook for another 5 minutes. 
5. Transfer to your serving bowl and mix in the cilantro, red pepper, lime juice and black beans.
6. Serve hot or cold.

Healthier Peanut Butter Cheesecake



2 16 oz fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt
16 oz of peanut butter
pie crust of your choice (I used graham)
10-15 chopped peanut butter cups (I love the ones from Trader Joe's)


Mix yogurt and peanut butter in a medium size bowl until combined. Transfer to a pie crust. Smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the top with peanut butter cups. In the refrigerator chill overnight . . . the longer, the thicker! This tastes very similar to peanut butter cheesecake. I hope you enjoy!



I Cracked Platinum With the Force of My Clapping

If you had to judge my age by the music I listen to you would assume I was in my late 50s or early 60s. My favorite band is the Monkees. If you are from my generation you might remember them from after school TV (3pm on Nickelodeon). I used to watch with my friends Barbara and Jenny. We were so obsessed that when they took them off the air Barbara and I composed letters to Nickelodeon to get them to put them back on the air. 

This being said I always assumed that, since the Monkees were on when my parents were kids, they would NEVER, EVER go on a concert tour in my lifetime. I remember listening to their Live 1967 cassette, yes cassette, and think how lucky those audience members were. If I could just see them in concert I would be the happiest girl around.

Fast forward to about ten years ago I drug Jared to the Norwalk Oyster Festival to see Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz play. Halfway there. Fast forward another two years and I not only saw Davy Jones in concert but I MET HIM. Amazing did not even describe it! Now fast forward to earlier this year when my amazing inlaws got me tickets to the 2013 MONKEES TOUR!!!!!!! I was so incredibly excited. I know, not normal for a 33 year old.

Wednesday was the day. Jared and I went to the concert in Red Bank, NJ at the Count Basie Theatre. (That theatre, as an aside, is amazing. There is not a bad seat in the house! We were in the balcony and could see perfectly!)
When I saw the Monkees logo on the stage my heart was aflutter.  I wish I was exaggerating but I really was that excited. 

It lived up to my expectations. While it was only the three of them, since Davy Jones sadly passed away, they still had it. The audience was amazing, singing was spot on and the energy was electric. I sang through the whole concert and clapped so hard that I literally cracked my wedding band and popped a stone out of the ring I got for my thirtieth birthday. It was that good that I could crack platinum with the force of my clap.
The ONLY thing that would have made this experience better was to meet them. Oh well, a girl can dream...

Monster Spray



Who has a child that doesn't go easily to bed? Everyone? Yep. That's what I thought. This is one of the most common parenting dilemmas. The fear of monsters is one of the things may keep up our little ones up. When Anna was 3 she had a fear of monsters and I would pretend to fight them with a broom. I'm sure I looked totally crazy, but it helped her to feel safe. Recently my cousin (a mother of two) told me some of her good ideas for the blog. This is one that she shared and is such a great idea! 

Monster Spray. She has a friend who gives her son a spray bottle of water and then she asks him to spritz a little under his bed and around his room in order to keep away the monsters.  
As I write this post, I wonder when my Adelyn will start this? Will it be easier for her because she and her sister Anna share a room? I will definitely keep this in mind for Addie and Will! I am thinking that you could get a label and have the kids to write "monster spray" on the bottle and decorate it themselves. Also, maybe you could add some sort of scent to it, like lavender. Isn't lavender supposed to have a calming effect? Let me know if you try it and it works.

Life Hack!

Taking out the kitchen trash is not my favorite thing. I'm not really sure who would find it their favorite thing. Hmmm Anyway our friend Ben taught me a trick to get the garbage bag out easier! 

We have a Simplehuman trash can that was really difficult to get full trash bags out of because of the suction from the inner liner. I ended up pulling the bag, ripping it and then starting a new trash bag until Jared got home to change it. On a dinner at our friends' Brina and Ben's house I learned a new trick. Ben had drilled holes in the liner to release the suction and make the bag come out easier. Jared did it later that week and voila, no more excuses for me. Humph.

Volcano in a Bag

Anna and Addie love science. Recently they chose to attend a summer camp with this theme. Both girls are always game for an fun experiment. So I remembered reading that if you put vinegar, water, and baking soda in a bag, and shake it up, it will do fun things! We did this three different ways; it got a little better each time.

First we used a gallon-size Ziploc bag, 1/4 of a cup of water and  1/2 of vinegar and 1 tbps of baking soda. We put the baking soda in a paper towel and  folded it up like a burrito and taped the end shut with scotch tape. I held it at the top of the bag out of the vinegar while Anna zipped the bag shut, then I had her shake it up. 


It puffed up, but you could tell that it wasn't enough vinegar or baking soda.


So we increased the amounts to 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of baking soda. We also decided to use a smaller bag. So we used a quart-sized bag. The results were much more pleasing. Anna laughed and laughed at how much the bag puffed up.


These bags were too thick to pop so we decided to use the same amounts as we did with the quart size bag, but we put it into a sandwich bad and it blew up and popped!


This was so fun. I highly recommend trying this out! We loved it so much we will do it again tomorrow with Addie (she was napping when we did this). 


Slow as a Sloth

You might remember our trip to the Staten Island Zoo a while ago. We met CC the sloth and she made quite an impression on our family! She made me think that my children might possibly be descended from the sloth family; they can certainly move that way!

On my parents' recent trip to the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts my mom picked up the book "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth by Eric Carle. Like most everyone I love his books. This one really caught my eye! The message of the book is great and the language is phenomenal. I really believe that it's important not to talk down to kids. How are they going to expand their vocabulary if you don't use "grown up" words? This book has the sloth explaining that while he might do things slowly and take his time it certainly does not mean that he is lazy. He describes himself, among other words, as unflappable, lethargic and languid. What parent wouldn't be happy to have their kid use the word languid appropriately!
The other sloth related item that has stood out to me since our trip is these sloth earrings from Small Grey Cat on Etsy. I have her Union Jack earrings that I wear all the time and get so many compliments on them! It's funny because I didn't think anyone would notice them because they are so understated but they have enough "pop" to them that they are noticed! I really want to get Maya and I some matching sloth earrings before our next trip to the zoo!

Update: Check out these sloth earring too! Also super cute from Small Grey Cat!

How To Fix Your Toms

I have a pair of black Toms and I LOVED them so much that I wore tiny holes in the toes. What is a crafty Mamma to do?


For awhile now I have been thinking about how to fix them. I thought a patch might work, then it occurred to me that a patch needs to be on the outside. Then I thought about sewing them, and when I tried to do this, I realized that it would pull the shoe in a weird way. So that didn't work either. Then today I came up with an AWESOME idea. I recently organized my craft room (more on this to come) and I came across this fabric glue. First I tucked into the holes all of the loose threads, then I oozed the glue to glue the holes shut. 


Originally I wanted to buy the splatter paint Tom's, but when I went to the store they only had the solid colored ones. So I settled for the black ones. Since prior to this "fix" job I wasn't wearing these at all I figured it couldn't hurt to try to splatter paint them. I figured if they turned out bad I could just throw them away. Before I started I taped off all of the areas that I didn't want paint. I covered both of the Tom's logos as well as the elastic on the top.


Then I took them outside with some acrylic paint in my favorite colors (aqua, white, and silver) and I used the back of the brush to dip into the paint and I flicked it all over the shoes.


NeverWet

Anyone here watch the show Arrested Development? Does the title of this post remind you Tobias being a "never nude"? That show is so funny, watch it!

On to the point of my post...have you ever heard of NeverWet? Check out this video, it intrigued Alan and then us to the point of buying some.

I very much dislike wet feet. I will actually use the word hate. I HATE having wet feet! NeverWet, is a two step process to waterproof everything. We started with my cheap, canvas shoes from 5Below because did I mention that I HATE wet feet??

Alan took my shoes outside to NeverWet and sprayed it on a plastic bag. He followed the directions on the bottles, sprayed them with each of the steps and we waited until after dinner to try them out. It totally works. It is crazy to watch the water just bounce off of them! Bring on the rain!!!!


DIY Water Table

One of our favorite things to play with this summer has been the water table. The girls love to have pretend tea parties, play with their mermaid, and pour water from one object into another. On our last trip to visit my in-laws it was really hot! I wanted to play outside with the kids, but of course I didn't bring the water table. I decided to improvise. First, I got the little plastic picnic table and found the only tiny square of shade I could find. Next I found some things that would hold a decent amount of water: a large bucket and a plastic file box. Then I grabbed some plastic storage containers. I even found some empty plant containers (which were so fun because of the holes in the bottom). Addie did this for hours. Anna did it for about an hour and then colored, but because she was wet she didn't get too hot being outside. It was a little hectic, so I was only able to snap one picture, but I think you get the point. If you have been wanting to do some water play and don't have a water table, make your own!


3 Ingredient Blondie Bars

My friend Julie and her family came over for dinner the other night. I love having dinners with them, mostly because of their company, but also because Julie is a great cook! She makes this awesome tex mex dip that I need the recipe for. But I digress...

We recently had lunch together and I made her my granola bars. We started talking about how we love very easy meals. (Who doesn't?!?) She said that she had an equally easy recipe for blondie bars. Our families were getting together that weekend so she said she would make them. Her daughter, Leah who is a little younger than Maya, had memorized the ingredients and proudly recited them to me. "Two cups of graham cracker crumbs, one can of sweetened, condensed milk and a bag of chocolate chips." Then she went back to coloring with Maya.

So here it is; easy, tasty and you can keep the shelf stable ingredients in the house! When I make it I might add in some heath bar bits, can't resist those!

3 Ingredient Blondie Bars
Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 - 15 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 bag chocolate chips

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Pour into a greased 8x8 glass pan.
3. Bake 30 minutes on 350 degrees. Enjoy!

Julie is a dietician and has a website. Check it out for more info!

Spray Paint Wall Art

As I mentioned, my nephews are here and I did this Mirror Image Craft with the little ones. I was racking my brain to come up with a cool project to do with my nephew Connor--he's twelve. I told him about an idea I had to make spray paint wall art for his bedroom. He loved the idea! I gave him two pieces of cardboard. He painted each one white on one side.


Then I let him choose some colors to spray paint. He chose hot pink, silver, and gold.






Jellybean Jungle

Listen South Jerseyians, we have a place for your FIVE AND UNDERS to play!! We went to JellyBean Jungle on a playdate with Simon's friends Devin, Spencer and Conan and they had a blast!

Jellybean Jungle or, as Simon calls it JungleBean Jungle is big enough for the kids to stay entertained but small enough that you can see them from most places. They have ball pits, indoor playground with slides, dress up and this amazing video game that senses and reacts to your movements.

Admission Price
(Taken for their website.)
$9.00 + tax per child ages 1 - 5 years
$4.25 + tax per child ages under 1 year
Infants and non-crawlers are FREE with paying sibling
Each paying child may have two (2) adults attend with them FREE of charge. There will be a $3 per person fee for each additional adult. CASH, CHECKS MASTERCARD and VISA ARE ACCEPTED FOR PAYMENT
Unlimited Visits Passport:  SAVE BIG!
1 child $110.00 + tax SAVE 51%
2 children $160.00 + tax SAVE 62%
3 children $210.00 + tax SAVE 67%
4 children $240.00 + tax SAVE 72%
Savings is based on 2 visits per month at regular General Admission price



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