Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Decor

Holy batcave, Batman! Bats have invaded the family room! I completely stole this great idea from Dana at Made and the pattern is from Country Living (never thought you'd see that link on my blog, did ya?) They really are a show stopper. I love big bang decorations!

I am decorating on the cheap this year, so my Halloween doormat came from an extra utility rug and a can of spray paint.
I taped on some large scrapbooking chipboard letter frames as a stencil. I also taped on paper to mask the mat, leaving a frame around the outside.
Next step, paint away with spray paint.
As you may have noticed, there was some bleed through. Next time I will be more careful with the taping. But, it's free, and hopefully people will think it's dirt (it is a doormat, after all).
The sewing machine was in overdrive yesterday, as I churned out 7 pillows. One more to go and I'll post some peeks here. Now, if I were just as productive with my sketchbook...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crunchy Granola Mom

Yes, now I am officially a crunchy granola mom, and it's a mighty tasty thing to be.  We have been making this quick but oh so good granola at least three times a week lately. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it's so easy the kids can pitch in (or even make it, depending on their age). The amounts listed here are just guidelines. I don't actually measure anything when I make it, so feel free to improvise! This can be either a gluten-free or regular granola, depending on the oats you use (please note that some Celiacs cannot tolerate gluten free oats. Fortunately, we can). If you are using regular oats, it's a very frugal granola. Even if you have to buy the pricey gluten free oats, it's still cheaper than GF granola. has a good price on gluten free oats, by the way.

Family Favorite Granola

2 cups oats
1/4 cup pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries (you could also use raisins)
1/8 cup flaxseed meal (you could use whole flaxseeds, but I always have the ground flaxseeds on hand)
1/4 - 1/3 cup mixture of brown rice syrup and honey (or you could use all honey)
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Mix everything together in a bowl. You want it to stick together but not appear wet or really moist. Spread on a silpat lined cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let it cool. As it cools, it will stick together. Break up the cooled clumps and store in airtight jars. I really can't tell you the shelf life, because it never lasts more than two days around here.

This is really one of those recipes where you can use whatever is in the pantry. We came up with this particular combination because nobody here is allergic to pecans or cranberries, and it happens to taste great! Try it mixed with yogurt Saturday morning or over ice cream. Or do as my family does, and eat it off the cookie sheet on the counter!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vacation Planner

Back to the land of the connected! My six year old modem has been on its last leg for at least a year, and while I was hoping it would hold out until Christmas, it decided to take the big digital nap on Sunday, thus delaying this promised post. My apologies.

The vacation planner. While I have never been a spontaneous traveler (one very cold night sleeping in the car because all hotel rooms were booked cured me of that), by reason of necessity, I have become a skilled trip planner. You see, traveling with children who have sensory processing problems, Celiac disease, food allergies, and asthma (not to mention my own food restrictions) is no easy feat. I began planning our recent trip to Disneyland four months ago. I started by creating a travel planner. Last year I used a composition book, but it was larger than my needs required. This year, I made my own from  Cosmo Cricket scrapbook paper and my Bind It All machine (you can also have it comb bound at copy shops). I laminated the cover with my Xyron, so I could toss it in a purse or bag and not worry about it.
I also left the cover unadorned, saved for a single sticker, knowing the abuse it would face. As you can see from the bent coils, it endured a few blows.

The first section is for pre-trip planning and packing. It included a calendar, pre-travel to-do's such as mail holds, plans for pets and chores.
Next were packing lists for each family member. The lists are from List Planit, an online organizing site which offers a bazillion lists for all manner of topics, from work to home. I bought a download membership last year and it was worth every penny.
I also left lined paper in the back for food lists (we bring an extra suitcase just for food, so we always have something safe to eat), items to pack in the car, and to-do's for the days before we leave.
The next section is labeled car, and it has maps and written directions. I have a GPS on my phone, but I like to carry a back-up just in case reception is bad.
For the itinerary section, I printed the events listings from the Disney site as well as including a detailed list for each day. I make at least one meal reservation per day, and those are made far in advance and recorded here. I also like to look ahead to parade times and special events and tentatively schedule them as well, knowing that we may ditch those plans when we are actually in the park.

The last section holds hotel reservations and tickets. I included two pockets in this planner, made by simply folding tabbed scrapbooking paper and gluing it, to hold tickets and print-outs made after the book was bound.
As I mentioned before, this book gets tossed in my purse, not the luggage. All the information needed for any aspect of the trip is in one place. I also try to jot down notes in it while we are traveling or soon after we get home, about what places were safe to eat at, who had the best service, if sweaters we needed at night, what hidden gems were found, and any other useful bits for future trips. I used the notes from last year's planner to make this one, in fact.

So there you have it - travel for the anal retentive. Of course not everything goes as planned (like a foot injury that put my six year old in a stroller all week - thank goodness he's small!), but it definitely runs more smoothly!

Friday, October 8, 2010

We're back!

We're back from a fabulous, but exhausting vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth. I'll be back on Monday with a vacation planner idea and lots of Halloween stuff in store. Have a relaxing weekend!