Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best Granola Ever

I may be biased because this is the recipe my mom always used and I grew up eating it. But this is the best granola ever. I could honestly eat this every morning and be a happy person. Aside from being delicious, there are other great bonuses to this recipe as well. It's ridiculously simple to make, it's not pumped full of preservatives and chemicals like your boxed breakfast cereal, and it's very inexpensive to make. I like to use organic ingredients which I can find in the bulk section at either Wegmans or Whole Foods. While some of the ingredients such as honey and vanilla may be costly up front, they last for a while and you can use them for several batches.

In a large bowl, mix:
6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup nuts (I always enjoy dry roasted peanuts)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Add the following and mix well:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Stir mixture while still on the baking sheet and bake for 5 more minutes and repeat. Total baking time is 25 minutes. After the granola is finished baking, let it cool on the baking sheets. I use a spoon to loosen the cooled granola and scoop it into a cereal container for storage.

Finally, eat the granola! Yum! Eat it with milk (that's what I like best!) or with yogurt as my mom often does.

And if you feel like checking out a few more of my mom's recipes, head over to her Facebook page, La Bonne Vie. She write a weekly column for my hometown paper and always includes a scrumptious recipe.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just What the Doctor Ordered

I spent yesterday stuck at home with no voice. I woke up and my voice was just a whisper and I knew I wouldn't make it even a half day through school. While I could have caught up on grading tests and other such things, I decided to take the less practical route and spent the day designing. I've been trying to reach my goal of getting 200 designs in my shop, but it has been slow going. Today, it seemed, was just what the doctor ordered to get the job done-- no voice and stuck at home with plenty of design inspiration.

In the end, I came up with six new designs. Two of which I wanted to share the inspiration behind. Yes, I turned again to Pinterest and found some lovely colors and ideas!

Are you just as productive when you're home sick for the day? Days like this make me want to forget about teaching all together. Maybe some day.... :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall Fashion: Boots

With fall comes chilly temperatures and with chilly temperatures comes cold feet. And there is nothing that helps keep my legs and toes more roasty toasty than a pair of boots. Plus, boots are the perfect addition to a fall outfit. So despite having two pairs of boots in the closet at the moment, I've been looking for yet another pair. Boots are expensive, but completely worth it at the same time. After browsing on Pinterest, these are some of the boots I absolutely love right now. Click on the photos to take you to my pins-- hopefully that'll help link you up to these beauties, but it's tough finding the whereabouts of some of this stuff!

I have to say, I absolutely love the look of the chunky knee high socks on those last two. And of course I had to find a few sweet pairs of socks for you as well.

via SmartWool

via Free People
Are you a boots person like I am? What is your favorite fall fashion element?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Notre Dame Football Led Me to a Productive Weekend

It's been a rough month for me to be quite honest. As I wrote about earlier this month, October 7th would have been my grandfather's birthday. He passed away a year ago on the 20th. Every year, my mom, who owns an artisan bakery, has a huge feast in which she invites her regular customers, family, and friends to enjoy many of the foods that she serves throughout the year. It is her big thank you to all that are somehow involved in her business. I've been meaning to go home for her feast for some time and felt that this year would be the year, especially since this year's was in honor of my grandfather and many of my extended family members would be there.

However, I was not so lucky. Months in advance, I began searching for a plane ticket to South Bend, the closest airport. A ticket normally costing $250-$350 was now $783. I checked airfare prices the following week in hopes they would be different. $849. The next. $972. And finally several weeks before. $1443. I could have flown to Paris for half that price. Or to Sydney for only $500 more! Why were these tickets so expensive, you might ask? Well, it's called an old college football tradition-- one single game that is quite a huge deal: Notre Dame vs. USC.

Growing up near South Bend, I was always exposed to the ridiculous nature of Notre Dame football-- 2 hour waits to eat dinner at a restaurant on home game weekends, bad traffic in South Bend, trying to do fall clothes shopping in a mad house mall, friends not being able to book hotels for their visits to town, annoying tourists in a quaint little town. And now this football game was ruining my plans to be with my family.

Needless to say, I've been in a funk this weekend and needed to find a way out. So I did the one thing that I knew would at least sort of help and I made myself busy. So busy, in fact, that I did all of this in one afternoon:

Yes, I realize that I may be crazy when it comes to the Valentine's Day themed cards, but I had to get the ideas on paper before I forgot them. After a long, productive day we took a long walk across Patterson Park to Yellow Dog Tavern for dinner. It was a nice ending the day in cool, crisp air and enjoying dinner in a cozy pub. It wasn't my mom's feast, but it was certainly a fantastic way to end the day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bright and Colorful, Natural and Manly

I've been working very hard to get out of the graphic design based cards recently and restock my shop with some more one of a kind paper cut designs. Honestly, the paper cut cards are my biggest challenge as I find it difficult to come up with fresh ideas other than layering coordinating colors of paper. I am trying to work my way through my built up stash of paper-- it is somewhat overwhelming to be honest. So I stuck with a stack of solids and two patterned stacks yesterday. After much hemming and hawing, I finally made these cards.

The first set seems to bright and colorful which I really enjoy, especially with the matching orange envelopes. I had high expectations for the second set, but after making it I realized that these were some seriously manly cards. Andrew's dad has ordered stationery from me in the past and suggested I make some cards that catered more to the male customer. I struggled with coming up with more masculine designs upon request, but now by accident I don't think these cards could be any manlier! So those green ones are for all you manly men out there!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandpa

My grandfather has been on my mind a lot lately. Understandably so as today would have been his 88th birthday. He passed away on the 20th of October last year at the age of 87. I was lucky to have been able to spend a lot of time with him growing up, and it was always a priority for me to spend time with both him and my grandmother every time I returned home to Indiana.

He was a serious man, but at the same time told jokes that made him laugh so hard he could barely breath. He was a religious man that served as a Mennonite pastor in many capacities, but at the same time was able to accept even the things he may not have agreed with. He was studious, and I don't think there was a time that I could ever remember him without a book nearby.

He was quite the storyteller. We'd enjoy a long meal on a Sunday afternoon while he told us stories of various events in his life. During the Christmas season we'd gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols in four part harmony, his deep bass voice booming. And on New Year's Eve he'd be the first standing at the dinner table during our traditional fondue dinner so that he could scrape the last of the cheese from the bottom of the pot.

When I was a child, he and my grandmother would take me to South Haven, Michigan where we'd stroll the beach on Lake Michigan picking out colorful stones and the occasional piece of sea glass. We'd go hiking in the woods at the camp across from my grandparents' house. He kept me entertained with a simple game, trapping me between his legs until I could free myself with the "magic button" somewhere on his knee. We'd roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a huge brush bonfire in their large yard.

As I grew older, he was proud of my endeavors at Syracuse University, inquisitive about my adventures in Australia, and always happy to hear about my triumphs and challenges in the Baltimore City classroom. He always questioned me with the best of intentions to push me to learn even more.

My grandfather was quite the amazing man and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. He is greatly missed. Happy birthday Grandpa!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Stationery Designs

All I need is a relaxing weekend and the creative juices start flowing. Not one, but two new stationery designs and that's quite the record for me! And I am completely obsessed with them. New faves! Check them out.

What do you think? The aqua and orange ones are my favorite of the two, but why is that surprising considering my obsession with aqua.
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