Monthly Archives: July 2012

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

My kids LOVE chocolate milk.



Come to think of it, so do I.



Of course, I’m on a less processed food kick lately (which is a very GOOD thing), and besides, it seems like EVERYTHING in this doggone’ world has gluten in it, so I’ve decided no more commercial crap.  (Now, I’m not saying chocolate syrup has gluten in it.  Frankly, I don’t know.  I didn’t feel like spending ten minutes in the grocery store aisle reading all the ingredients to find out.)


So…I did what any creative thinker does.  I made up my own recipe.


Oh, umm, no I didn’t.  I did the next best thing:  Searched PINTEREST!!:-)


Found a few, tried one, didn’t need to try any more, because the first one was/is lovely!


I could NOT take a picture of the stuff that would look good, so I went to the original post HERE…giving credit where credit is due.  Isn’t her picture awesome?


And…the recipe:


Homemade Chocolate Syrup (adapted from 52 Kitchen Adventures)

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (gluten free, of course!)
Whisk the sugar and cocoa together in a medium saucepan until smooth.  Add the water and salt and cook over medium heat until boiling.  Lower the heat a bit and let the mixture simmer, stirring often, for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes, then stir in the vanilla.  Store it in a cute bottle like pictured above, or be trashy like me and stick it in a canning jar.  You can store it in the fridge for 2-4 weeks.
Oh yeah!!


Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Granola (Gluten Free)

I’ve been on a bit of a cooking spree lately.  Not sure why.  Maybe it’s the freedom of the summer, the promise of things new, the excitement that long, sunny days provide.


Maybe it’s because I can’t stop eating lately.


And yet, even with all the cooking, the kids still cannot find ANYTHING to eat!!  Poor little spoiled munchkins.:)


Lots of food experimenting going on here.  It has not all turned out good.  But that’s okay, because that makes it more realistic, right?  I’ll share all my trials and errors on here, as well as the successes.  The first is this Peanut Butter Granola.  I love it.  The kids do not, but the kids do not like anything with oats in it, the little punks.  I found the recipe on Pinterest.  It is originally from the Shape Magazine website.  Made some teeny tiny adjustments, and loved it!


It’s really quick and easy to throw together too.


Peanut Butter Granola (adapted from Shape Magazine)

2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter

2 Tbsp Raw, Organic Honey

1/4 tsp gluten free Vanilla Extract

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch salt

1 cup certified gluten free Oats

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Microwave the peanut butter and honey in a bowl for 20 seconds; stir.  Add in the vanilla extract, a pinch of cinnamon and a small pinch of salt.  Stir it all together, and when mixed well, fold in the oats.  Spread it onto a baking sheet and cook for 7-8 minutes.  Let cool.  This makes 4 delicious servings!

*You can use “regular” versions of all the ingredients…ie, your peanut butter doesn’t HAVE to be natural, the honey doesn’t have to be raw, etc etc.  That’s just the way I made it.:-)

Change Jars – Do You Have One? 3 comments

I’ve posted quite a few times in the past about my change jar.   I know the idea isn’t a new one, and so I won’t go into many details explaining it, but I just wondered:  Do very many people keep those anymore?


I got thinking that with debit cards, smartphone payment apps, online bank transfers, and the like, maybe people don’t carry much cash around, and therefore they may not have a lot of change.  But I really don’t know, so I’m curious.


We use cash around here.  I’ve got the cash envelope system going on at my house, and so I get a lot of change, and it always goes into my change jar.  I usually deposit the change in the fall, when I’m getting ready to start hammering down on my Christmas shopping.  It never is enough to COVER Christmas, but it’s definitely helpful.  I admit that I’ve used it in the past to when we had unexpected bills come up and were short.  Whatever works, right?


This is my change jar as of today:


I rolled the coins and counted it out, and as of now, I have $56.24 in there.  Not bad…$50 is the budgeted amount my husband and I will have for each other for Christmas this year, so we’ve already got one person taken care of, ha ha!


Do you have a change jar?  What about an envelope system?  Do you use one?  If so, what categories do you have?  I keep my envelopes pretty basic, but I am curious as to what other people do.  I know I have a lot of learning to do!  My current envelopes are:

  • Grocery
  • Car Gas
  • Vacation
  • Gifts/Entertainment (used for b-day gifts, going out to eat, etc)
  • Savings (I’m saving for a new couch right now)
  • Christmas – this is one I just started today.  It’s time to start saving up!
  • Misc. – this one is for “other” things, like yard/garden, swimming lessons, etc.

So…share your thoughts, if you are so obliged!  I’d love to hear from you.

July Grocery Spending Update

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already July 30!  Practically the end of the month.  I can think of only one thing I will likely need to buy before the month ends, cause it ran out a week ago.  I need my hair “food”!


Anyway, last week’s shopping looked like this:


  • 1 whole chicken ($0.99/lb)
  • 2 lb bacon ($1.99/lb)
  • 1 seedless watermelon (4 lbs/$1)
  • 3 watermelon licorice twists (3/$1)
  • 1 pint strawberry milk ($0.50)
  • 1 can Pillsbury Grand biscuits ($1.50)
  • 8 spiral notebooks (4/$1)
  • 2 lined filler paper packs (2/$1)
  • 2 pairs kids scissors (2/$1)
  • 4 packs 24-piece crayons (2/$1)
  • 3 school glue ($0.39 each)
  • 4 Iodent toothbrushes (2/$1)
  • 2 folding camp chairs ($6.99 each)


Reams Total (w/tax):  $40.78


Bountiful Baskets:

  • 2.5 lb red grapes
  • 2 mangoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 lbs baby carrots
  • 5 plums
  • 5 peaches
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 8 red potatoes (MY FAVE)

Bountiful Baskets Total:  $16.50

This week’s Total:  $50.78, round to $51


July’s Total:  $191




5 Things 07/29

Last week was pretty uneventful.  I can’t even think of anything clever or witty (or terribly boring) to say…so I’m just gonna share my 5 Things list:


  • Run a couple of 5Ks. – Dang it, NO.  Pulled hamstring…gotta love ’em!
  • Get Munchkin and Buddy Boy to all their events this week:  YES
  • Balance the budget for August. – YES
  • Work on redecorating Munchkin’s room with stuff we have on hand.  – YES
  • Declutter bookshelves. –NO
Munchkin and I had a great time watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony, and we’re looking forward to making new recipes for the next few weeks from around the world to celebrate!  Buddy Boy got it in his head that he wanted to make gingerbread houses, so we made “Olympic” houses.  Kids loved it; why wait for December, right?:)
Anyway, the plan for this week is:
  1. Watch as much of the Olympics as I can handle. :-)
  2. Do some back-to-school shopping (NOOO!!)
  3. Clean, wash out fridge.
  4. Clean out, defrost, wash freezers.
  5. Make a few freezer meals.
Hope your week is a good one!

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Thoughtful Thursday – Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

  • For attractive lips, Speak words of kindness.
  • For lovely eyes, Seek out the good in people.
  • For a slim figure, Share your food with the hungry.
  • For beautiful hair, Let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
  • For poise, Walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
  • People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.
  • Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.
  • As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
  • The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
  • The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a Woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.
  • And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!


-Audrey Hepburn

5 Things 7/22

How was your week?


If you’re like many, you are still reeling from the tragic shooting in Aurora, CO.  I hope that instead of letting these events get us down, and get us mad and arguing about gun control and other things, that we will instead hug our loved ones a little tighter, say “I love you” a little more often, and smile a little brighter, grateful for the life we’ve been given.


Just my two cents, and I apologize for sharing, but I really had to get it off my chest.:-)


Anyway, productive-wise, I did terrible.  I blame it on the reading.  I read a LOT this week, and so although I didn’t get a lot on the list done, I really, REALLY enjoyed myself.  My very favorite read this week was Running For My Life by Lopez Lomong.  If you’re looking to be inspired, to feel more grateful for the life you have, or to be moved in any way, you gotta check it out!  It was definitely worth being fairly unproductive:




  1. Bowling with the kids doing the FREE summer bowling program. – YES
  2. Order produce from Bountiful Baskets. – YES
  3. Make a few freezer batches of gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough. – YES, and a few loaves of zucchini bread
  4. Run a couple of 5Ks – NO.  I went running once, and didn’t go very far.  I can’t even remember why!
  5. Deep clean the carpets. – NO, but I did take apart my entire kitchen sink and drain to try and find the source of a terrible smell!  Does that count for anything?  I say it does, it was pure misery.  But guess what!  As of noon yesterday, my kitchen no longer stinks! :-)


So…the plan for this week:


  1. Run a couple of 5Ks.
  2. Get Munchkin and Buddy Boy to all their events this week:  Swimming lessons, B-day parties, Sleepovers, Grandma day, etc. (Yes, I’m counting it on the list this week!)
  3. Balance the budget for August.
  4. Work on redecorating Munchkin’s room with stuff we have on hand.  
  5. Declutter bookshelves.

I couldn’t let you go a week without pictures of our outdoor adventures, now could I?  :-)  Have a safe, happy week!