Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Countdown Week 4

I had this post ready to go and was just waiting to get my photos uploaded before posting when LO AND BEHOLD my camera went and freaked out. Literally crazy. It thinks the battery door is open so it won't turn on, which means I'm having trouble uploading pictures from the camera to the computer. Bummer. So, for those of you who were waiting to see what we did to finish up our Christmas countdown, here's the text and a few bad cell phone photos. Sigh. I hope to get the camera issue fixed soon; thanks for your patience in the mean time.

Hard to believe Christmas is here already! I feel like December just FLEW by. We had a busy week, and had to be a little flexible with our activities due to bad weather.  Check out how we wrapped up our Christmas countdown below.

Day 22: Mistletoes craft.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and had to do a version of it.  It poured some green fingerpaint onto a plate, pushed Ry's feet into the paint (one at a time) and then stamped the feet on a 5.5 inch x 8.5 inch piece of cardstock.  Later, I added the word "Mistletoes" and bow at the top.  I plan to use these as thank you notes. They turned out so cute!

Day 23: Wrap presents.  Yeah, there's no way I would be able to wrap presents with a busy toddler running around. I imagine he would have WAY too much fun ripping the paper to shreds as I tried in vain to wrap items. I decided to avoid that catastrophe and just wrap the presents after he went to bed.  We left them out on our 3-season porch until after he was asleep on Christmas Eve, then moved the gifts in under the tree.  His little face was so cute when he saw the all the packages under the tree on Christmas morning!  He was like, "WOW!!"

Day 24: Christmas Eve service at church and t-shirt tradition.  It was a blessing to take part in our Christmas Eve service at church this year.  We sang several carols, the choir sang, and there was a vocal duet.  I accompanied on piano and that was challenging, but I enjoyed it.  I have to admit, though, I'm glad I don't have to practice the arrangement for the choir number anymore. I've been playing it multiple times almost every day for the last 2 months! Whew!!!  After the music, our pastor spoke for a few minutes on Christ.  Truly, Christ is the whole point of Christmas - not just his birth, but his life, death, and resurrection as well.

Also on Christmas Eve, I did our T-Shirt Tradition.  I know most of you have no idea what I'm talking about, so I'll elaborate.  A lot of families give their children special pajamas to wear Christmas Eve, etc.  I have kind of an obsession with t-shirts and have quite an extensive collection: t-shirts that have funny quotes or cute designs, or commemorate an event or vacation spot.  This is our 3rd year doing the Christmas Eve T-Shirt Tradition.  I typically pick a theme and buy coordinating t-shirts for M and myself (last year was Keep Calm shirts from LOL Shirts).  This year, we felt that Ry was old enough to join in, so we did a shirt for him as well.  I had originally planned to do a different theme, but I came across this Hobbit inspired t-shirt and knew I just had to do something similar for Ry.  Of course, once I picked his shirt design, I had to carry on the theme for both M and myself.  In the interest of frugality this year, I did iron on transfers and "made" the shirts myself.  I already had a couple of plain t-shirts hanging around that I never wear (because they're plain and boring), as did M.  I actually sewed a new shirt for Ry using this tutorial from Dana Made It and one of M's old shirts that had a stain on it.

Ry's shirt says, "I Eat Like a Hobbit" (inspired by this one) surrounded by a list of Hobbit meals (the book talks about the Hobbits eating 7 meals a day and sometimes I feel like Ry does too! It was perfect for him!).

M's shirt is a graphic of Gandalf, Bilbo and the 13 dwarves similar to this one.  I wanted something a little more understated, so I went with a simple  J.R.R. Tolkien quote: "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." 

Fun fact:  You can download some Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fonts for free here.  It totally makes everything look more authentic!

Anyway, I digress. The point of our t-shirt tradition is that we wear the t-shirts Christmas morning while we open presents and take pictures. It's wicked fun. What will next year's theme be, I wonder?

Hope your Christmas season was jam packed with blessings and memories. Mine was!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Countdown Week 3

Here's the recap of the Christmas countdown activities we enjoyed this past week.  See the countdown explanation here, the Week 1 summary here, or the Week 2 summary here.

Day 15: Hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows.  Check the bottom of this post for my own Dairy Free Hot Cocoa recipe.  Yummy.  I also made these homemade marshmallows from Urban Poser. It would have been a good idea to have a candy thermometer, but I wanted to try the recipe anyway.  Oops... I over cooked the honey syrup a little, so my marshmallows were a little dark and slightly "brown" tasting, but still good. I also loaded the whipped marshmallow creaminess into a pastry bag and piped it out in long rows on a sheet of parchment paper, then chilled it for a couple hours before snipping into mini marshmallows.  Super easy and cute.   Hot cocoa + marshmallows = YUMMMMMMM.

Day 16: Watch a Christmas movie.  This one was for the grown-ups, but that didn't stop us from watching a kid's movie.  M chose Prep & Landing/Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. (2 short films I have on DVD) It took us about 45 minutes to watch both parts, and then of course we had to watch the "totally tinsel" bonus features:  hysterical "elf" versions of TV commercials and cast interviews. I personally wouldn't recommend this cartoon for really young children, but we thought it was pretty cute. You can watch the trailers here and here.

Day 17: Mess-free fingerpainting activity. I got the idea for this on Pinterest (where else!?).  I wanted to do more of a transparent consistency (a simplified version of this), but couldn't find my food coloring! So, I started with a squirt of hair gel (to make things goopy), then added some red, green, and yellow fingerpaint, then added some sprinkles for texture.  Next time we do this activity, I'll skip the sprinkles and gel and just do the paints - or, find the food coloring and do the activity more like the original idea.  Anyway, Ry Guy had fun with it! We'll definitely be doing more variations of this one in the future.

Day 18: Play "stuff the stocking".  This was an easy game that Ry Guy really enjoyed.  I gathered about 15 objects of different sizes, shapes and texture, and stuffed them into a Christmas stocking.  Then, we took the objects out and named them, then put them back in one at a time until Ry got bored with it. A good 15 minutes of entertainment there, though. Next year, we'll try having him reach in without looking and try to guess what the object is before pulling it out.

Day 19: Make cookies for the neighbors. In the past, I've done cookies or quick bread or goodie trays. But, last year I decided to do cookie dough instead and it was a big hit.  People get so over sugared around the holidays between parties and family get together.  It can get a little overwhelming. So, we decided to bless our neighbors with a package of frozen cookie dough balls that they can thaw and bake at their convenience. This year, I created a new recipe, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies.  I may have to find a name that's less of a mouthful. They smell like toffee and got RAVE reviews from M and one of my neighbors who couldn't wait to indulge!  Check back for the full recipe post coming soon.

Day 20: Shop for stocking stuffers.  I had most of M's and Ry's stocking stuffers already, but I needed to get a few things for my other family members since we'll be doing stockings with them.  Wow is all I can say.  Traffic is crazy... so many people!  Now I remember why we try to avoid shopping in stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yikes.

Day 21: Read the Christmas story in the Bible.  So we remember what Christmas is truly about, we read Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 1:26-2:20. Familiar words, but what a great reminder! God is WITH us!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Ry Guy Report: 18 Months

Weight  22 lb

Height  29 inches

  • Engages in imaginative play
  • Points to show something interesting
  • Says 9 words (plus does sound effects, like "ding dong" and "vroom")
  • Shows affection to familiar people
  • Knows what ordinary objects are for (like telephone, brush, shoes, spoon)
  • Points to 2 body parts (nose and belly)
  • Scribbles on his own
  • Can follow one-step requests without gestures (like "go to your chair", or "bring the basket to Daddy", etc.)
  • Walks alone
  • Drinks from an open cup
  • Eats with a spoon
  • Helps dress/undress himself
  • Enjoys filling and emptying containers
  • Wants to do everything himself

Helping Daddy vacuum!

  • Imitating Mom and Dad (cooking, talking on the phone, folding laundry)
  • Drinking coconut milk!!!
  • Almond crackers
  • "Driving" the laundry basket up and down the hallway (even does the vroom vroom noise)
  • Helping Daddy sweep the floor
  • Christmas tree & lights
  • Christmas ornaments (hasn't broken any yet, just likes taking them off the tree)

  • Miscommunication
  • Changes to his routine
  • Teething (finally got 2 new teeth!)
  • Waiting... for anything...

Big helper! Ry loves doing anything Daddy's doing.

The Quotable Ry Guy  He tries to say, "coffee", but it comes out "kah-kuff" or something to that effect.  He enjoys helping Daddy make coffee in the Keurig every morning.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Countdown Week 2

Here's the recap of the Christmas countdown activities we enjoyed this past week.  See the countdown explanation here, or the Week 1 summary here.

Day 8: Call Grandma.  This one is pretty self explanatory. Ry Guy loves the phone, and he's called or texted grandma on accident several times.  This time we actually called her on purpose and he "talked" for a few seconds before wandering off to play. That's ok, Grandma loves it.

Day 9: Learn Christmas signs. We've been working with Ry Guy on learning sign language since he was about 5 months old. He knows quite a few signs now, but we didn't know any Christmas related signs, so I went over to and we learned some new signs together: Christmas tree, Jesus, ornament, snowflake.  Also, I looked up the signs for cow, donkey, sheep and camel so we could do a sign for each of the animals in our nativity set.  Not sure how much he remembers, but now that M and I know the signs, we'll keep repeating them frequently this month and hopefully he'll pick up on them.

Day 10: Make smelling jars.  This is a Montessori inspired activity.  I used scented wax melts instead of the real item or essential oils, since that's what I had on hand.  The wax melts were scented balsam cedar, peppermint, and gingerbread.  I think Ry like the peppermint scent the best!

Day 11: Write and mail Christmas cards.  Also self explanatory. Confession: I don't know where my brain went, but it was definitely not present when I was addressing my cards. I put the wrong address down on two cards!  I had 82 on the brain for some reason, but no one I know has an 82 in their address. Sigh.

Day 12: Make Christmas cookies.  I LOVE to bake, but it's difficult to bake these days, what with all the food allergies.  I came across this recipe for Coconut Cut Out Cookies.  They were surprisingly good, although not as crunchy as I'd hoped. The coconut keeps the cookies pretty pliable. Instead of frosting, I created a sweetened nut butter spread (almost like a fondue!). See the bottom of this post for the recipe.  The verdict was YUM!

Day 13: Church Christmas dinner and white elephant gift exchange. The church dinner was a casserole potluck this year. Casseroles without any gluten, dairy, or eggs are a challenge. I came up with a roasted veggie and sausage "casserole" that seemed to be a hit. See the end of this post for the recipe. It was simple, but good!

We were surprised to discover that some of the ladies at church had put together little gift bags for the kids. Ry was very excited about his little stuffed dinosaur!

Day 14: Go sledding.  Had to adapt this one, as our beautiful snow is almost all melted.  Thankfully, the shady area in our backyard still has some snow, just a couple of inches.  We put Ry in our laundry basket and M pushed him around the backyard.  We called it a "Chariot Ride" instead of sledding.  After a few minutes, Ry wanted out of the basket and helped Daddy push the basket around for a while. Great fun!

Almond Coconut Chunks/Spread/"Fondue"
by Raye
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: no-cook blender condiment dessert egg-free gaps peanut-free refined sugar free soy-free
  • 1-1/2 c. shredded coconut
  • ¾ c. sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (refined)
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Real Salt
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground cloves
  • Process the shredded coconut down to coconut butter (45 seconds on highest speed in the Blendtec twister jar). Remove to a mixing bowl.
  • Add almonds to blender jar and process to a smooth almond butter (In Blendtec twister jar – 45 seconds on highest speed, 15 seconds on speed 2).
  • Add almond butter to coconut butter in mixing bowl. Stir in honey, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Stir until smooth.
Do one of the following:
  1. Dip cookies, cake pieces, etc. and place on a parchment paper lined tray. Refrigerate until set.
  2. Line a sheet pan (cookie sheet) with parchment paper. Pour mixture into pan and smooth top. Refrigerate until set. Use parchment paper to help you remove the mixture and cut into small chunks. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
  3. Spread on top cookies or cake and chill until set.
  4. Eat with a spoon!! 

Roasted Root Vegetables and Sausage
by Raye
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes
Keywords: stove top bake side entree gaps
Ingredients (8 servings)
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 medium turnip (or 1/2 rutabaga) (or can substitute 2 potatoes)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1/2 lb bulk sausage
  • 2 Tbsp oil or bacon fat
  • Place fat in a 9x13 baking dish and place in the oven. Turn the oven on to 400*F. After a few minutes, when the fat has melted, remove the baking dish from the oven.
  • Chop turnip, squash, carrots and onion into bite sized pieces. Toss with melted fat in the pan. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and pepper.
  • Roast in the oven (uncovered) for about 40 minutes, or until veggies begin to brown.
  • While veggies are roasting, brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Set aside After 40 minutes of roasting, remove veggies from oven, add sausage. Return pan to oven until sausage is warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Countdown Week 1

Here's the recap of the Christmas countdown activities we enjoyed this past week.  See the countdown explanation here.

Day 1: Decorate the house for Christmas. Here's Ry Guy helping me decorate. He loves the window clings. We had to work with him a little on leaving the clings ON the window, though. :) Believe it or not, he doesn't actually touch the Christmas tree - he won't even step on the tree skirt. I'm not sure why, we never told him that he couldn't and he doesn't act afraid of it. Anyway, it's actually a relief; I don't have to worry about him pulling the tree over or breaking ornaments. It's fun to see him "OOOOO" over the lights and pretty, glittery decorations.

Day 2: Make a starlight box. A starlight box is basically a cardboard box with holes punched in the top (I used scissors, but a flat tip screwdriver would work as well). Then, you pop the light bulbs from a strand of Christmas lights through the holes and plug in the strand I took the idea one step further and covered the mass of wires on the top of the box with an extra piece of cardboard, wired on with twisty ties.  That way, my little "Busy Bee" couldn't get curious and pull all the lights out of the holes and do who knows what with them. I also wired the side of the box to the legs of my card table to give it a little extra stability. I didn't want to worry about the box collapsing while Ry Guy was playing with it. He's not known for being gentle with things at this point.

Verdict:  Ry Guy is a fan! He actually fusses and brings me over to the box repeatedly until I plug in the lights for him. It's pretty cute.

Day 3: Sing and dance to Christmas tunes. Currently, Jingle Bells is the fave. We typically listen to Pandora through our DVD player, so Ry Guy also likes to bring me the remote while babbling something I think resembles "tunes".

Day 4: Build a snowman. Bummer, dude. The snow was too crunchy and icy to build a snowman. But, M and Ry Guy took a walk around outside in the chilly air while I was in town at a dr. appointment.

Day 5: (date!) Warm your toes in front of the fire, sip hot cider and read a book together. This was a fun date for us. Yet more proof that a date night doesn't have to mean leaving the house or spending lots of money. This one was simple, but fun. I warmed up some apple cider in a saucepan and whisked in some cinnamon and allspice.  Yummm! Then we threw some pillows and a blanket down on the floor in front of our gas fireplace and finished reading the Princess Bride together.  I just have to say, that book ends kind of abruptly, but I really enjoyed the story. Fezzik is my favorite character! I love his rhyming! And there are SOOOO many quotable lines.

Day 6: Attend the Tree Lighting ceremony downtown. I was pleasantly surprised to find our little town has quite a few activities going on this month.  We went downtown to the gazebo and watched the tree being lit and sang carols with a whole bunch of people we didn't know. That sounds a little strange to some, but we really enjoyed it. It was kind of cruddy, rainy weather. I hope it's clear weather next year so they'll have a better turnout. Ry Guy didn't seem to know what to think. He just looked around wide eyed and didn't make a peep.

Day 7: Read a Christmas story book. We actually read more than one book. I got a few books from the local library and also had "The Crippled Lamb" by Max Lucado and "Part of the Family" by William Fullington here at home in my collection.  My mom used to read "Part of the Family" to me when I was little and we always displayed the book on a shelf during the holiday season.  When I got married, Mom gave me a few special ornaments from childhood as well as the "Part of the Family" book.  I'm excited to carry on the tradition with my family: Ry Guy and I read the book together this year and I have the book displayed on a shelf in my entryway.

That wraps up week one of the Christmas Countdown (or Advent Calendar).  Check back next week for more pics and activities as the Christmas Countdown continues!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Frugal Christmas Countdown (or Advent Calendar)

There's about a million (slight exaggeration, but only slight) ideas on Pinterest for Christmas countdowns or Advent calendars.

Bummer, though, none of them seemed to really fit our family's needs, or they required lots of craftiness (which I am not lacking, but it does take time to be crafty and time is something that I do not seem to have enough of here lately) or would be expensive to put together, or just weren't what I was looking for.  So, I made my own. Typical, I know.

I knew I wanted to do something with clothespins and clip some type of card or pocket with an activity written on it, one for each day of December leading up to Christmas. I got some inspiration from Leigh Ann and Jamielyn (love LOVE their blogs!) and here's what I came up with (more about the activities later):

I have a habit of keeping cute Christmas cards from year to year. Most people only write on the right hand side of the interior of the card, so if you just cut that part off, you end up with a still useable picture from the front of the card. You can use these card fronts for all sorts of things, but that's another post altogether. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ry Guy Report: 16 Months

Weight 21 lbs

Height 28.75 inches

  • Can turn pages of a book unassisted
  • Is attached to a stuffed animal (Fluffy Frog!!)
  • Likes to sing
  • 'Kids Bops" (tries to dance to upbeat music)
  • Gets upset when frustrated
  • Climbs and explores
  • Is choosy about his food
  • Initiates and displays affection (loves to give mommy hugs and sloppy kisses)
  • Signs "Book", "Car", "Bath", "Eat", "Blanket", "Sleep", and "Fly"

  • Helping Mom around the house (tries to sweep and fold towels)
  • Scribbling with a pen/paper
  • Stacking/unstacking everything!
  • To imitate (words, actions)
  • Playing peekaboo
  • Being the center of attention
  • High fives!
  • Mommy's phone

  • Bad dreams
  • Walking (crawling is WAY faster)

The Quotable Ry Guy "Go!" and "Up!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blueberry Lime Cake Recipe

This is the cake I made for Ry Guy's birthday. It seemed to be a big hit at the party, so I thought I'd share it with you as well. I understand that it's a little odd to be posting a fresh blueberry recipe in the middle of October, but better late than never, right? And now you have the benefit of thinking about making this cake all winter long. :)

The cake itself is pretty simple - it's just a basic yellow cake. I healthified it up a little bit by doing it from scratch.  If I wasn't going to make it for a party, I'd do half white whole wheat flour (or pastry flour) and half unbleached all purpose. But since I had several non-health-food peeps at the party, I just went with all unbleached all purpose.

The complicated part of the recipe is the frosting. But let me just tell you right now.... totally worth it! It's creamy, totally pipe-able, tastes great and firms up just right in the fridge. LOVE IT.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe.  Drool over it. Keep it in the back of your brain. Make it as soon as blueberries are in season in your area. You won't regret it - promise!

Blueberry Lime Cake
by Raye
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert blueberry cake summer
Ingredients (12 servings)
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 1-1/4 c. sugar (evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 batch Cream Cheese German Buttercream
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 c. frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
    • Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Set aside.
    • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar and cream together for about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    • In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the milk. Mix well.
    • Divide batter equally between cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sides pull away from the pan and the center springs back when lightly touched.
    • Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before continuing with the recipe.
    • Prepare the frosting according to recipe directions.  Fold in lime zest. Chill frosting for about 30 minutes. Load frosting into a piping bag fitted with a decorating tip (if using).
    • Brush cooled cake layers with lineage concentrate. Pipe (or spread) frosting onto bottom layer. Top with 1/3 of the blueberries, then the top layer of cake. Pipe (or spread) frosting on the top layer and pile on the remaining blueberries.
    • Chill cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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    Happy Birthday, Little Man

    So, I really meant to post this back in June after Ry Guy's birthday party, but life happened and I never did. So this is me catching you up.  Here's the original post:

    Where has my life gone? Hard to believe that my little man is one! He has grown and changed so much this year. I still can't believe I'm a mom sometimes, let alone a mom of a busy one year old.


     We had a small-ish party to celebrate Ry Guy's big milestone. I wanted to keep it pretty simple, with just friends and family that Ry is comfortable with, since he tends to get fussy and clingy when he's overstimulated.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    The Ry Guy Report: 14 Months

    Ry helping Mom Pinterest.... He loves the computer already!

    Weight  19.6 lbs

    Height  28.5 inches

    • Took a few steps, but prefers crawling
    • Signs "Dog", "More", "All Done", "Potty"(we use the same sign for both potty and diaper)
    • Waves bye-bye
    • Tries to imitate words
    • Babbles with inflection
    • Looks at the correct picture when image is named
    • Assists when being dressed
    • Climbs up stairs
    • Climbs down stairs
    • Demonstrates preferences, points at what he wants
    • First sentence!

    Fun in the sun!

    • Climbing on top of boxes, stools, storage bins, etc.
    • Playing with Daddy's computer and computer chair
    • Feeding himself with a spoon
    • Putting objects back into larger containers
    • Sorting and stacking....anything.....
    • His Baby Einstein radio (Thanks, Aunt Beka!)

    • Not having his way
    • Daddy leaving for work
    • Sitting still
    • Bed time

    The Quotable Ry Guy:  "All Done", "Kitty", "Dog", "I want Mommy", and "Did it!"

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    Maple Nut Granola Recipe

    My friend, Beka, recently posted about granola. That got me thinking I might want to make some myself. Yummmmmm....I love granola! In my opinion, homemade granola tops store-bought, pretty much always. Especially this granola!

    I finalized this recipe about 2 years ago, but just realized I although I had added it to my Recipage, I never did a post about it. Ooops. The inspiration for this recipe came from Good Cheap Eats, but I gave it the ol' maison|raye tweak until it suited our tastebuds.

    Things I love about this granola:
    • Yummy (duh)
    • Portable
    • Crunchy
    • Uses a natural, "real food" sweetener
    • Don't have to stir it while baking! (This is HUGE for me)
    • Can sub use any kind of nuts you like or have on hand
    • Uses basic ingredients always in my pantry (I buy pretty much all the ingredients in bulk)
    • Is allergy-friendly (dairy-free, peanut-free, egg-free, soy-free and gluten-free if you use certified gluten-free ingredients)
    • It actually holds together in large-ish pieces, which are easy to grab

    Side note, this is an awesome, portable snack to take camping or on vacation (or to keep in a container in your desk at work). And, it makes fab yogurt/fruit/granola parfaits.

    I sometimes pour the little crumblies into a bowl, add a small handful of dried or fresh berries and top with milk (previously cow milk or Ashley's Cereal Sauce, but lately I use coconut or almond milk). I wish I had a picture of all that yum-ness in a bowl, but I ate it. Sorry.

    You definitely need to try this granola. Hear that?  NEED!!!!

    Maple Nut Granola
    by Raye
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 45 minutes
    Keywords: bake stove top breakfast snack oatmeal nuts maple syrup
    Ingredients (8 servings)
    • 5 c. old fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
    • 1 c. chopped nuts, such as pecans or almonds
    • 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3/4 c. maple syrup
    • 1/2 c. coconut oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • Preheat oven to 300* F.
    • In a small saucepan over low heat, combine syrup, vanilla, salt, coconut oil and cinnamon and stir until smooth.
    • Stir together nuts, coconut and oats in a large mixing bowl. Pour warmed liquid ingredients over the oat mixture. Stir to coat evenly. (It will seem like there's not enough liquid to go around at first. Just keep stirring. It may take about a minute to get the dry ingredients totally coated.)
    • Press into a 15x10 jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet). Bake for 40-45 minutes without stirring. Remove from oven and gently break up with a spatula.
    • Cool completely before serving or storing. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
    • Note, may omit nuts during the baking process and simply add pecans or a dried fruit/nut mix or nut/seed mix when serving to accommodate individual tastes within your family.
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    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    The Ry Guy Report: 13 Months


    Weight  19 lb
    Height  28.5 inches
    • Balances on his own while standing still
    • Walks with a little help
    • Follows simple directions
    • Pulls himself up easily
    • Climbs (crawls) up stairs (scary for mom!)
    • Crawls very quickly
    • Signs "baby" and "all done"
    • Sorts objects

    • Splashing in the pool
    • Blueberries
    • Squash
    • His "Walker Wagon"
    • Toy trucks/cars/helicopter/submarine (he moves them all back and forth and says vroom) 
    • Cats
    • Baby Signing Time DVDs
    • Either Mom or Dad leaving
    • Falling down
    • Mosquitos
    • More than 2 cats at the same time
    The Quotable Ry Guy  "Kitty" and "Vroom"

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Allergy Friendly Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

    About a month ago, Ry Guy and I were diagnosed with multiple food allergies, including eggs, soy, dairy, gluten, and peanuts. Looks like the allergies are connected to our eczema, too.  I'm in mourning.

    {insert sniffle here}

    I confess, I was pretty depressed about it for a few weeks. Then, I decided to not let it control my life. I've found that there is hope and you can actually reverse some food allergies. In fact, I'm taking an online class right now on reversing food allergies and I'm learning so much already. I hope to see improvement in both Ry Guy's and my eczema soon...

    Anyway, I wanted dessert this past week when I was up visiting my family, so Mom suggested I do something with the raspberries she had in the freezer or the rhubarb from the garden out back.

    So, I did something with both of them. At the same time. Here's the result.

    Don't you just want to snatch that right off the page and stuff it in your mouth?  If you like tart desserts, this is for you.

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

    The Ry Guy Report: 12 Months

    Weight 19 lbs

    Length 27.5 inches

    • Pulls himself to standing
    • Crawls really well
    • Cruises around the furniture
    • Feeds himself chunks of solid food
    • Follows simple directions (like, "come here")
    • Got his 6th tooth

    • Watching kids
    • Sitting up at the table with the adults
    • "Helping" Mom empty the dishwasher and fold the towels
    • "Playing" piano
    • Books

    • "No"
    • Wearing hats
    • Sunburn!

    The Quotable Ry Guy  "Mama, Dada, Banana"

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Sweet and Tangy Broccoli Salad Recipe

    I learned to make a version of this awesome broccoli salad while working at a sandwich shop/deli during college. It was a big seller and I can understand why - it's amazing!

    Crunchy broccoli, smoky bacon, sweet raisins, savory red onions in a sweet and tangy dressing? Um, yes please.

    This bowl of yum-ness is a real crowd pleaser. I always get rave reviews when I bring it to pot-lucks and picnics or serve it at parties and BBQ's. In fact, I love this salad so much, I even had my caterer serve it at my wedding!

    This version differs slightly from the original deli version; I use a lower sugar to mayo ratio. And I prefer to use homemade mayo, but you can certainly use a good quality storebought mayo instead.

    This recipe makes quite a lot, so it's perfect for picnics and parties. Enjoy!

    Broccoli Salad
    by Raye
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Keywords: salad side bacon spring summer
    Ingredients (16 servings)
      • 4-5 crowns broccoli
      • 4 oz bacon
      • 1/2 lg red onion
      • 1 c. raisins
      • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 c. olive oil mayo
      • 6 Tbsp vinegar (white or apple cider)
      • 1/2 c. sweetener (evaporated cane juice, granulated white sugar or honey)
      1. Salt the broccoli liberally, then stand them (florets side down) in a colander and run them under cold water. This will get rid of any bugs that may be hiding in your broccoli. Set aside to drain.
      2. Cook bacon until crispy and drain well. Set aside to cool.
      3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar and sweetener of choice. Peel and dice the red onion; add to the dressing mixture in the bowl. Chop the bacon and add to bowl along with the raisins.
      4. Using a sharp knife, cut off the florets from the stem. Use your knife to pare off any woody parts of the stem. Dice the stem and add it to the bowl. Separate the florets into bite size pieces and add them to the bowl.
      5. Gently stir to mix salad together. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will last for 2 days in the refrigerator.
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      Friday, May 16, 2014

      The Ry Guy Report: 11 Months

      Happy Mother's Day!

      Weight  19.5 lb

      Length  28 inches

      • Pulls himself up on furniture without assistance
      • Feeds himself almost all finger foods
      • Feeds himself soft foods with a spoon (if food is placed on the spoon for him)
      • Drinks a small amount from a cup with assistance
      • Got his 5th tooth!
      • Demonstrates preferences (toys, foods, etc.)
      • Army crawls (on his belly - but, forward motion at least! Finally!)
      • Can pick up the tiniest object using his pincer grasp.
      • Independent wrist/hand action

      Ry loves his daddy!
      • To explore independently
      • Feeding himself
      • Music (tries to "sing" along)
      • Walks in the stroller
      • Routine!

      • Socks
      • Hats
      • Sunglasses
      • Being away from Mommy
      • "No"
      • Eczema

      The Quotable Ry Guy:  No new words yet. Just Mama and Dada and a whole lot of gibberish.

      My intrepid explorer, off to see the world...

      Saturday, May 3, 2014

      Mini Apple Pear Galettes

      I find myself drawn to little things. You know, anything tiny equals cuteness. Like miniature ceramic tea sets, or petit fours. Or mini cheesecakes. Or mini pies. Is that a girl thing? Or just a me thing?

      Anyway, I threw together these mini galettes and was quite pleased with the results. M gave them the thumbs up, too. His evaluation: "Not too sweet, just right. And I like the hand-held size. Really good. Can I have more?"

      So of course I said yes. He may not be miniature, but he's definitely cute.

      Saturday, April 26, 2014

      Family Fun Night: Frozen (and a recipe!)

      When our family went from "Just the Two of Us" to "And Then There Were Three", we decided we wanted to establish a family tradition, so we came up with "Family Fun Night", which happens almost every Friday night.

      Sometimes we watch a movie. Sometimes we play a game or do an activity outdoors together. The point is, we're doing something together as a family. As we continue adding on to the family and the kids get older, we'll let them start taking turns choosing the family activity.

      Granted, Ry Guy doesn't actually watch TV yet - he's too little. But, we include him in the dinner (and sometimes a portion for the activity) part of our fun night, then M and I continue the fun without him after he goes to bed. So, it's sort of Family Fun Night/Date Night. Ish.

      Ry Guy {10 months old} out for a walk with the fam.

      Anyway, we try to do something fun or different. We usually eat pizza (family favorite!!), but depending on the activity, we may make it a theme night where the meal or dessert somehow ties into the activity/movie.

      Tuesday, April 15, 2014

      The Ry Guy Report: 10 Months

      Weight  19 lbs

      Length  27 inches

      • Teeth! (First tooth on March 16, quickly followed by two more)
      • Claps his hands
      • Understands "No"
      • Understands the sign for "Milk", although he doesn't sign back yet
      • Scoots forward and backward while sitting upright
      • Attempts to pull himself up, succeeds with a little help from Mom or Dad

      • Taking things out of containers
      • Blueberries!
      • Chewing
      • Music
      • Pictures, especially of himself or Mom & Dad
      • The feel of new grass on his hands

      • Lying still to have his diaper or clothes changed
      • Being spoon fed (he wants to do it himself!)
      • Teething (bottom center tooth and bicuspids coming next)
      • The feel of new grass on his feet
      • Nap transitions

      The Quotable Ry Guy  "Mama" and "Dada" (although we're not completely sure he knows which word goes with which person yet)

      Monday, April 7, 2014

      Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Recipe

      I made this awesome chili last week for a church supper. Yummy stuff!

      While it's not exactly a "Fix It and Forget It" recipe, it's totally worth the little bit of effort during the final hour. And, it's great for those folks who don't like tomatoes (I know! Those people really do exist!)

      This is a pretty frugal dish that feeds a crowd (16 servings!) on the cheap. Depending on whether you make the entire thing from scratch or take a more 'convenient' approach, it can cost as little as 55 cents a serving. See below.

      Cost breakdown:
      • Homemade chicken stock - nigh unto free!
      • Storebought chicken stock - $5.38
      • 1 cans kidney beans - $4.38
      • 1/2 lb dry kidney beans - $.75
      • 1 (16 oz) jar tomatillo salsa - $3.59
      • 1 bunch scallions - $.69
      • 1 yellow onion - $.32
      • 1/2 bag tortilla chips (approx. 10 oz) - $1.50
      • 1/2 lb masa harina - $.33
      • spices - on hand
      • boneless, skinless chicken breast - $4.61
      • bone-in chicken breast w/ skin (I remove the skin and bones myself) - $3.88 (bonus - I save the skin and bones for chicken stock later)

      Total cost --- $8.87 (using homemade chicken stock, dry beans, yellow onion, masa and bone in chicken breast) to $20.15 (using all storebought/canned/etc. items)

      Total cost per serving --- $.55 to $1.25

      This calculation does not take into account the cost for any optional toppings, such as sour cream, cheese, or additional tortilla chips. Those toppings up the yum factor, but also up the price. Your call! This chili is good either way.

      Note, if you've never heard of masa harina, it's a corn flour used to make corn tortillas. You can usually find it in the ethnic foods section of the grocery store. I personally prefer the tortilla chip route because then I have a half bag of chips leftover to serve on the side. I'm pretty much IN LOVE with tortilla chips. Don't tell M.

      16 servings a little much for you? 
      Simply halve the recipe, then save the leftovers (tightly covered) in the fridge for up to a week. It reheats well and is great for lunches throughout the week. Or, you can portion it out and freeze in zip top freezer bags or jars. Just thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat when you're ready.

      Chicken Chili
      by Raye
      Prep Time: 20 minutes
      Cook Time: 8 hours
      Keywords: slow-cooker chicken Southwest
      Ingredients (16 servings)
      • 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
      • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      • 1 (16 oz) jar green tomatillo salsa (sometimes called salsa verde or green salsa)
      • 2 cans (or 2-3 c.) red beans or kidney beans
      • small bunch scallions (or 1 medium yellow onion, diced)
      • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
      • 2 Tbsp granulated garlic
      • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
      • 1 tsp dried oregano
      • 1 bag corn tortilla chips*
      • salt, to taste
      • Add chicken stock, chicken breast, beans, yellow onion (if using) and salsa to crockpot. Turn on low and leave it for about 7 hours.
      • After 7 or so hours, crush 1/2 bag of tortilla chips in a blender or food processor. Dip out 2 cups of hot chicken stock and pour it over the tortilla crumbs. Let the crumbs soak for 5 minutes, then process or blend to a smooth paste.
      • Remove chicken breast from crockpot to a cutting board. Whisk the tortilla chip paste into the broth mix in the crockpot so that can start thickening up while you continue with the next steps.
      • Shred the chicken breast on a cutting board. Add back into the crockpot, along with the garlic, cumin, poultry seasoning, oregano and chopped scallions (if using). Stir and cover. Allow to continue cooking (and thickening!) for another hour.
      • Serve warm with your choice of toppings. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days.
      • *Note, you can use 1 c. masa harina (corn tortilla mix) in place of the crushed tortilla chips, if desired. Just mix the 1 c. masa harina with the 2 c. hot chicken stock and proceed as mentioned above.
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