Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer So Far

It's hard to believe, but here we are, halfway through July already! The school supplies are back on the shelves and the countdown to September has begun. Before any more time flies by, here's a bit of what we've been up to this summer, so far… {as seen on Instagram}

My bid to inspire some creativity in the kids has been pretty successful. Having the art supplies out on display means they are much more likely to get used, which I love.
We've done castles, sunbursts, fruit, fish, and family crests. Now I just need to find a place to display all the works of art the kids are cranking out!
 June means strawberries and I put them to good use. Freezer jam, pies, cakes, and of course strawberries and cream… the tastes of summer.

We even found one that looks like a heart~ double the sweetness.
 The local gardens are in full bloom and people and ducks, alike are enjoying them.

Unfortunately, my own little garden is not as impressive as the one above. My hydrangea had only one bloom this year, but it was a lovely one.

 What's a post about summer without a little baseball? Hunter's new favorite position to play is catcher. It seems that between hockey and baseball, we are destined to be carrying a ton of protective gear year round. Such is the life of a sports mom!
I'm going to enjoy the remaining days of summer, savoring each afternoon and relishing each lingering evening. See you at the beach!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Organized Camp Kitchen in a Plastic Tote

Our family loves to camp, but it can be a lot of work. Between planning, packing, loading, unloading, and setting up camp, I am usually worn out by the first evening. Last year, after a particularly chaotic packing session, we found ourselves in the woods without cooking utensils, a hammer, or bug spray. Lesson learned.

So this year, I got organized and created a camp kitchen-in-a-box, known to hardcore campers as a "chuck box."

Actually, I had never heard of a chuck box before, but Pinterest opened my eyes. We used to just throw everything into a tote, willy-nilly. But even when I remembered to pack everything, it was difficult to find and always smashed at the bottom.

There are lots of examples of fancy, ready-made chuck boxes out there, but I was looking for something cheap and simple. I used a 27-gallon heavy duty tote from Home Depot and just bought two 3-drawer organizers at Target. They work great for holding all the smaller items that sank to the bottom of the tote before.

The easiest way for me to show you everything is with a video, but I apologize for my wonky camera work and fast talking. 

 We keep non-perishable food items in here as well as supplies and utensils. I still have to add in a few things before our next trip, but it's easy to see what we need.

Everything is packed in snug and tight, so it doesn't rattle around while we're traveling. And when we get home, it goes straight back in the basement, clearly labeled and ready to hit the trails next time.
 I hope this is helpful to other campers. Having everything organized and in one spot has made camping a lot more fun and a lot less work.
Happy camping!
I'm sharing here:
DIY By Design My Romantic Home A Stroll Thru Life French Country Cottage My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia Savvy Southern Style  Between Naps on the Porch DIY Showoff  Under the Table and Dreaming

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fuel Your Family: Chocolate Almond Protein Bites

Our family takes "active" to a whole new level in the summertime. Last week, our schedule included 3 play-dates, a soccer tournament, 2 soccer games, 2 baseball games, and 2 different hockey camps, plus various practices, library runs, and errands. All that running can leave us worn out and HUNGRY, which is why I love this healthy and yummy snack.
On days when we have multiple events, I always pack a cooler with drinks and healthy snacks. I usually grab things like fruit, cheese sticks, and granola bars, but homemade energy bites are a perennial fave. I've made different versions of this recipe in the past- that's part of its beauty; it's very flexible and can be easily adapted to the ingredients you have on hand. 
The good folks at General Mills were kind enough to send me a box full of protein-packed goodies as the inspiration for this recipe (and an awesome bicycle bag that my kids quickly nabbed). I wanted to make something healthy, tasty, and simple that would help fuel my family during our busy summer.
Chocolate Almond Protein Bites
{yield: about 20 "bites"}
1 cup oats
1/2 cup chocolate almond butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Cheerios Protein (Cinnamon Almond flavor)
1/4 cup chopped goji berries (cranberries or raisins would also work well)
1/3 cup honey
1 T.  ground flax seed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Stir everything together in a medium bowl until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (this helps everything hold together a bit better).

Once chilled, roll into 1-inch balls. I used a cookie scoop; it worked like a charm, and I didn't get my hands all sticky. Store in an airtight container (I like to keep mine refrigerated).
 My family LOVED these things. They are a great, energy- packed snack for summer!