Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Balance, Knitting and Photos Are This Week's Links From Around the Web


The Great Myth of Balance because you can't have it all, at the same time. I like how this author talks about seasons of our lives. It is true, for everything there is a season.

Gorgeous Knit Produce Seriously this stuff looks good enough to eat.

50 Photos to Take with Your Children Adding this to my list of things to do with the kids!

Children's Developmental Stages This is so useful!
Sunday, February 21, 2016

Girl Scout Dog (& Chicken) Cookies


**EDIT** I am in the TOP 5 for the WW Girl Scout DOG Cookie Contest for this recipe! I'd love your vote! Vote HERE:

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington hold a recipe contest every year. I've been participating in it for the past few years and love the yearly challenge. I may not have placed in the top 5 this year but I did get in the top 10 which is HUGE. I was thrilled when they announced that this year they would also be holding a DOG cookie contest. Before I met Scott, I was a crazy dog-sitter. I watched everyone's dogs. I LOVED dog sitting and while I don't currently have a dog, I am plotting for when we get a dog. Scott is such a kind man and has slowly watched me fill up his life with critters. We now have chickens that he was dead set against because I convinced him that it was a good idea. He is still not 100% convinced by I know that he likes them. He even takes care of them for me when I'm out of town or not home to put them away. He asks about them every day and loves eating their eggs. 


So when I decided to take on this dog cookie challenge, I knew I wanted to make something that could be eaten by the critters around my house which meant I made a cookie that works for both dogs and chickens. Dogs and Chickens both love peanut butter and pumpkin which made the base of my cookie along with oats. My chickens go nuts for oats. As I was thinking about this recipe, I was inspired by the Rah-Rah Raisins which are so good! But remember, no raisins for our canine friends. I decided the string the cookies up because honestly my chickens have gotten a bit bored over the winter. They've spent many a day in their coop looking out at the drenching rain and clucking in misery. 


These cookies not only provided some great nutrition for my birds (and would do the same for my pretend dog) but also gave them a bit of excitement. And when you have the brain the size of a pebble, cookies on some kitchen twine can be the highlight of your day. 

The Girl Scout Dog Cookie Contest spotlights the work of the Seattle Humane Society which is a charity supported by many Girl Scouts on a personal level. Sadly pets can not consume Girl Scout Cookies but who says they need to be left out of the fun? Many local Girl Scouts use their cookie money to donate to Seattle Humane, and share their time and resources to help give pets a chance to find forever homes and to provide their owners with the best support possible. Girls get to decide where to use the money they earn by selling cookies. Seattle Humane is an important recipient of that generosity. Now get out there and bake for your furry (and clucky) friends! 


Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Cookies for Chickens and Dogs

by Rebecca Mongrain
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (50 cookies)
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 3 teaspoons honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk whole wheat pastry flour, rolled oats and dried basil together in a large mixing bowl.
Mix the peanut butter, pureed pumpkin, eggs, molasses and honey together in a small bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/2" thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes.
Place on a cookie sheet with a silipat mat and bake for 30 minutes.
Cool completely.
If serving to chickens, string on some kitchen twine and hang in their coop.
For dogs, store extra treats in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Instagram, Oregon Hikes and Girl Scout Cookies are This Week's Links From Around the Web

Fat Kitty Sweater

Parents You Should Definitely Follow on Instagram I love looking to other parents for photography inspiration.

Packing a Carry-On Like a Pro I could learn a lot from this. I am terrible at packing.

10 Great Oregon Hikes We're headed to the Oregon coast this summer and I'm bookmarking this post so we can take some great hikes.

Girl Scout Cookie Contest Time! Check out my Girl Scout Cookie Millionaire's Shortbread recipe.

Spinach Calzones I'm so making these with Molly next week.

Cut Your Toddler's Sugar Intake Great advice!
Monday, February 15, 2016

Girl Scout Cookie Millionaire's Shortbread


It's Girl Scout Cookie Contest season and once again I collaborated with my Best Dessert baking friend for ideas.  I messaged her in January and said it's that time again and told her which cookies I wanted to use and what some of my ideas were. She was brief and wrote back to say, I see Millionaire's Shortbread in your future with a link to the BBC Food site. I checked out her idea and immediately wanted to start baking even though it was 10 p.m. I had ideas churning in my head and knew exactly how I would make Girl Scout Cookie Millionaire's Shortbread. 


One ingredient that stumped me for awhile was Golden Syrup. It's this delightful and simple British syrup that is used in so many of their baking recipes. The US does not have a good equivalent and I really didn't want to sub it out when it is such a great ingredient. I found Todd's Kitchen's YouTub channel where he describes how to make Golden Syrup and decided to make my own. He claims that it is simple to make and he is right. You do need to watch the syrup when it gets to the boiling point or else your smoke alarm will go off and you'll wake up your husband. Oops! At least the kids found the smoke alarm to be hilarious. My husband, not so much. 


This year the Girl Scouts are hosting TWO contests and because I am a joiner, I'm doing both. Today's entry is all about the Girl Scout Cookies but I'm also super excited about the Dog cookie contest which I will post about later this week. But for today, let's get down to business on this Girl Scout Cookie Millionaire's Shortbread. 

Chocolate CookieLayer

I started by using the food processor to crush a box of do-si-dos cookies and then pressed them into a square baking pan lined with parchment paper. I baked the first layer for about 15 minutes while making the caramel layer. This is where I used the Golden Syrup. After baking and cooling the crushed cookie layer, I spread the caramel on top and let that cool. Next I melted some roughly chopped tagalongs into dark and milk chocolate and spread that on top of the caramel before placing the whole pan in the fridge to cool. This is serious sweet flavor and so good. My kids were clamoring for seconds and thirds but I had to put a stop to that potential sugar high. They already have enough energy. 

Looking to score your own Girl Scout Cookies? You can find the Girl Scout Cookie Locator here.

Girl Scout Cookie Millionaire's Shortbread
by Rebecca Mongrain
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (18 squares)
    For the cookie layer
    • 1 box do-si-dos cookies, crushed in the food processor
    For the topping
    • 5oz butter
    • 1 can condensed milk
    • 3½oz golden syrup
    • 12oz mixture of dark and milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
    • 8 tagalongs cookies, roughly chopped
    Preheat the oven to 300F.
    Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper
    Crush the do-si-dos in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
    Press the cookie crumbs into the baking pan, evenly.
    Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Set aside to cool.
    Make the caramel topping next.
    Place the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted.
    Bring the mixture to a boil by increasing the temperature, stirring frequently. The caramel will thicken and turn golden. Set aside to slightly cool before spreading over the cooled shortbread. Allow the two layers to cool completely.
    Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and crushed cookies. Once melted, pour over the caramel and place inside the fridge to cool completely.
    Cut into squares to enjoy.
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    24 Months with Mag-Pie


    Dear Maggie,

    I'm so very late with my last letter to you. It might be due to the busy holiday season that you were born in or that I don't want to let go of your baby years because you are such a toddler now. There is no baby left in you. Instead there is this active, passionate, humorous child who tells me stories and makes the best snarly faces.

    December 21: Sing/Play Christmas Music & Celebrate Maggie's Birthday #mongrainadvent2015 #she's2!

    You love your sister with every single part of your body and fight with her like a caged lion. You've taken to trying to wrestle her which makes me laugh because you throw your little body over hers and start trying to pin her down. She's still bigger than you so it is not a fair fight for you.

    Maggie's 2nd Birthday Party

    You had a great birthday party at The Little Gym and bounced to your hearts delight. I shortly thereafter enrolled you in gymnastics. We go on Fridays and while your sister does gymnastics in her class, I try to corral you in yours. You love the rings and the foam pit. 


    You are also in co-op and I think you enjoy it. You basically love running around and playing with the toys. This coming Fall, you will be attending your sister's preschool for two mornings a week. I'm so excited for you (and honestly for myself too). 


    You delight us with serenades to "Let It Go" and make us laugh with your antics. You do have a set of lungs on you and screech like a banshee if we don't do what you want. We hear the screech often. 


    Maggie, keep on being you! You are a hilarious, passionate, stubborn little girl with a big ole bossy heart. We wouldn't have you any other way! 

    Friday, February 12, 2016

    February's 10 on 10

    This month's 10 on 10 happened on Ash Wednesday. I had hoped to take my Mom to church services but co-op obligations kept me from doing so. We had a pretty busy day with preschool for Molly, Co-Op for Maggie, Ballet for Molly and a friend who joined us for Friend Week. 

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    I've been packing the girl's breakfasts the night before in hopes that it will smooth out our morning routine. It's been helping some as has our new Morning Routine chart in picture form. Some mornings though, the kids are just grumpy about their morning. 

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    Wednesdays mean that we all load up in the car to take Molly to preschool. Maggie always insists on taking her backpack along for the ride. We brought in Molly's valentine's for her classmates which was fun. I made pink, glitter playdoh and I hear it was a hit. I know I had fun making it. 

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    Once Molly is at school, Maggie and I come back to go to her school. We walk there since her school is about 2 blocks from our house. She loves wearing her backpack and checking out all the garbage cans on the way to school. 

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    Maggie got Valentine's from her classmates and when we returned home for lunch, she spent a long time looking at them and picking out her favorites. I also did play-doh for Maggie's class but opted for the pre-made party ones for her.

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    Then it was back to Molly's school to pick her up. She convinced me to bring her friend home with us. Luckily we've all been friends since before the girls were born. I actually met Molly's friend's Mom in birth class. I feel lucky to count her as a friend and am thrilled that our kids get along. 

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    The girls watched a show before setting in for some serious playing. Maggie refused to nap because she didn't want to miss out on the fun. It meant she was a real terror later but she thought it was worth it. 

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    It was "Bring a Friend" to ballet class this week so Molly's friend came with us and her Mom met up with us at class. They were so excited to dance together. I enjoyed watching them and chatting with my friend. 

    The rest of my day was spent making dinner, going to a parent co-op meeting and avoiding the laundry. Just another regular day. I made a short video of my 10 on 10 photos (because I'm obsessed) which you can see here:

    Be sure to make your way around the blog circle to see what everyone else was up to on Ash Wednesday. Next up - Sonia Marfatia-Goode!

    **Reminder** A Day in the Life Photo Challenge Coming THIS Sunday, February 14th. Join me in documenting your day! 
    Thursday, February 11, 2016

    **Reminder** A Day in the Life Photo Challenge Coming THIS Sunday, February 14th

    5:45 a.m. Greeting "A Day in The Life Photo Challenge" with @barre3seattle! #adayinthelifephotochallenge

    Starting this weekend when you wake up, take a photo every hour (or more) to document your day until you fall asleep that night. You can join the Flickr group and/or tag your photos #adayinthelifephotochallenge on Instagram.

    2:02 pm Time to tackle some weeds! #adayinthelifephotochallenge
    1. Here are some guidelines (adjust as needed for YOU!)
    2. From the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep...
    3. Take at least one photo an house (but you can take more!).
    4. Post your photos to the "A Day in the Life" Photo Challenge Flickr group when you can. Posting your photos throughout the day as you take them is great (so we can see what everyone is doing in real time), but no worries if you cannot post until later. 
    5. Your photos do NOT have to be self-portraits.
    6. Include the time of the photo either as the title of the photo or in the description. (i.e. 9:45 am Hilarious Hand Holding! My friend and I had to walk really, really close to each other.)
    7. Use your phone or camera - whatever you want to use to capture your day, however ordinary or extraordinary it may be. 
    8. Have Fun! 
    9:45 am Returning to Jiffy Lube because they said they filled all the fluids but did not fill all the fluids. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

    Since this is my eighth time doing this challenge, I'm going to shoot in color on my iPhone. I'm excited to document Valentine's Day since it will be a fun holiday day. I've set up a new album on my Flickr photostream for February 14th's challenge which you can follow here: A Day in the Life 2.14.16 (I currently have a photo of Molly sleeping so you'll know you are in the right place). Can't wait to see your photos and your day next month!  
    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    40 Places, Mommy & Me Dates and Marriage are This Week's Links From Around the Web

    40 Place to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up - I want to take Molly and Maggie to all of these places! Lucky for them, we've already been to Mt. Rainier and The San Diego Zoo (well Molly, Maggie needs to go)

    Mommy and Me Date Ideas - I love this list! I try to take the girls out on one-on-one dates at least a few times a month and I always need new ideas.

    Mommy Is Not Happy - I try my best to let Molly know when I'm not happy or why I'm sad. I usually try to explain how I'm feeling to her and because of that she's gotten better about understanding how she is feeling.

    What Marriage is Really Like And honestly I wouldn't have it any other way!

    Awww, Mr. Rodger's Mom Knit all his Sweaters Moms who knit are the best!

    Fun Jar I love this idea!

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016

    Video Obsession

    My new camera has video ability and I've been busy exploring what it can do. I took some video last week when Molly and I went on our photo date and spent some time this week crafting a very short video.

    I'm constantly inspired by my friend, Francesa's time capsule videos and have been hounding her for tips and thoughts. Luckily she's very generous with her tips and workshop ideas. She might also be the reason I settled on the Nikon D750. She's very good at helping me part with my money. I hope to share many more (and improved) videos with you in the future. I might even sneak in some video on my next 10 on 10 or a Day in the Life Photography Challenge. I just signed up for a Time Capsule class with Xanthe Berkeley but it doesn't start until March. I have a lot of deadlines between now and then so I think having to wait will be great for me. 
    Monday, February 08, 2016

    January Book Report

    One of my goals this year is to read for 15 minutes a day and so far, I've been reading every day. Of course, now that I'm reading every day, I'm tearing through books. I read 4.5 books in January which thrills me to no end. 

    I started the month with Wildflower by Drew Barrymore and I loved this book. Barrymore's breathy voice was apparent on each page and her love for her children is so robust. I also gleamed some words of wisdom from her. Barrymore put into words something that I've been struggling with. As women and as Mothers, we are told that we can have it all when in reality, no one can have it all. You have to decide where to focus your efforts and go from there. And in doing that, you can be awesome. 

    I next read The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny which was wonderful as usual. I love Penny's writing and enjoy the way she both carefully wraps her reader in comfort while keeping them on the edge of their seats in suspense. I could read Louise Penny novels about Three Pines for ages. The mysteries that Chief Inspector Gamache works to solve always include the most tender of human emotions and a protagonist that is quite tender at heart.  

    My third book of the month was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and I was enthralled. I've had this book for ages and can't believe I didn't read it until now. I stayed up way too late reading this book for a few nights. I cheered for The Girl, gasped at the suspense and kept turning the pages until the end. I was sad to learn that this was Hawkins first book because it meant there weren't others to read. I will be anxiously awaiting her next novel. 

    My next book was Women Are Scary by Melanie Dale. I ended up abandoning this book halfway through but I'm mentioning it here because I did read half of it. I kept hoping that I would connect because I love the author's website but I could not get past the, "Ohhh meeting people is hard" schtick. This might be an awesome book for someone who isn't great at meeting new people but I'm really good at meeting people. #humblebrag

    My final book for the month was The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion and I think I may have finished this one at 11:59 p.m. on January 31st. I loved The Rosie Project when I read it last year and was so excited about this follow-up novel. It honestly wasn't as good as the first one. I still found it to be an entertaining read and quite enjoyed hearing about Don and Rosie's new adventure. 

    Friday, February 05, 2016

    Monthly Goal Check-In (January)


    In order to stay true to my 2016 goals, I've decided to do a monthly check-in on them. I've started the year out with a bang and have already crossed two of my ten goals off my list!

    1.  Complete the Barre3 Challenge from Jan. 4 to Jan. 31 - I did this! Well alllllllmost. The last week of the challenge came with a cold so I only got three workouts in instead of four but there were weeks where I did five workouts so I'm calling this a win. I've decided to adapt this goal for the year and I'm going to workout 4x a week (more is better!) 

    2. Complete Whole30 in January - I did this too! I've been reincorporating some foods back into my diet this week and it's been going ok. I had a terrible stomach ache after eating some of my kid's macaroni and cheese which sucked. That was immediate feedback to really limit that kind of food. 

    3. Keep purging the house with the Bowl Full of Lemons 14 Week Plan - I'm so behind on this but I've been working on the dining room and launch pad this week. Next week is the Living Room which I'm excited about. We installed some wall units last year and I need to finalize the decorating/storage options of them. I also want to address our end table situation. 

    4. Complete Four (4) Day in the Life Challenges and participate in at least ten 10 on 10's - I did my first 10 on 10 in January and have scheduled our first Day in the Life Challenge on February 14th. I hope you join me! 

    5. Complete TKGA Master Knitting Level I - I have not yet started back on this goal. I was busy working on Maggie's birthday sweater this past month and I'm thrilled that it is done. I'll probably start this goal in March. 

    6. Grow a kick-ass Garden! Due to well winter, I haven't started on this goal yet but I will this month. I need to get more dirt and figure out what I want to plant when the time comes. Also I really need to build that chicken run so my chickens don't run away (again).

    7. Read for 15 minutes a day- I have read every single day so far and I'll have a full report on what I've read next week. 

    8. Volunteer with two organizations and include the girls - I've completed my orientation with Mary's Place and we are scheduled for our first shift in a few weeks. I'm excited for this opportunity with my girls. 

    9. Catch up on my yearly photo books of the girls - I had kinda forgotten about this one so good reminder!

    10. Get back to Blogging on a more regular basis and focus more on my writing - I've been so busy writing for other publications that this has not been as great as I want it to be BUT I'm doing it. 
    Thursday, February 04, 2016

    Valentine's Day Crafts and Cards For Your Kids

    I love doing crafts with my kids and whenever Valentine's Day comes around, I get really excited about doing Valentine's Day Cards with them. I'll admit that I might get too excited. I've spent hours pouring over websites and Pinterest to find the best Valentine's Day Crafts and Cards to do with kids. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

    Image Credit: Homan at Home

    1. Valentine's Day Candy Mice - This first one is adorable and fast! Homan at Home has designed the most adorable mice as Valentine's Day cards. Print these out, grab your scissors and start cutting. Place a lollipop inside and you have a fast and almost last minute Valentine's Day card for your kid's classroom.

    Image Credit: momdot

    2. Glitter Pink Ombre Play Dough - I love making play dough but I'm not a huge fan of the mess my kids make with it. Instead I pawn it off on other unsuspecting parents (my secret is out!) by making it for holidays. I love this recipe from momdot because it includes everything my oldest loves - Pink and Glitter.

    3. Cupid Arrows - These are the cutest Valentine's Crafts and I can think of so many places and ways to use them. Find out how to make them on Keeping Up With The Joneses.

    Image Credit: No Time for Flashcards

    4. Bird Seed Hearts - I'm seriously considering making these for the chickens because it will solidify my crazy chicken lady title. In all seriousness, I love the idea of making a more natural, yet crafty Valentine's Day gift and these hit all the right marks.

    Image Credit: Molly Moo Crafts

    5. Melted Crayon Hearts - I LOVE this craft. In fact, I made these one year and plan to make them again soon as the broken crayons are really piling up. I also love the little cards that Molly Moo Crafts included with their crayon hearts.

    Image Credit: Molly Moo Crafts

    6. Pirate Valentine's - You can't go wrong with Pirates and Valentine's Day Cards. Molly Moo Crafts has some pretty grrrreat cards to check out.

    Image Credit: B Lovely Events

    7. Treat Toppers - These free printable treat toppers let you package your favorite treats with a real crafty flair.  Stuff some M&Ms into a clear bag and top with your favorite printable for an exquisite touch and low effort.

    Image Credit: Sweet C's Designs

    8. Tiny Animal Valentines - These tiny animal valentines are great because they make me laugh and yet are also totally easy to craft up. Print these up and pair with a fantastic animal toy for a card that is sure to be a hit!

    Image Credit: Dandee Designs

    9. Astronaut Valentine - Is your Valentine out of this world? Show them with an astronaut card! I love this design and the toy is a great touch!

    Image Credit: The Imagination Tree

    10. Blow Painting Heart Art - I love how beautiful these cards come out with a tiny bit of creativity. I think this would be a great activity for the older kids to craft up.
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