Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Hampshire Adventure//Part One [traveling]

This week I am on my first trip to the East Coast, tagging along with Morgan, Caleb, and Hallie as they journeyed to New Hampshire for Caleb's younger brother's wedding.

Along the way, we had some spare time to detour for a visit to Niagara Falls, which is when we kinda went to Canda, without passports. It all started with Caleb taking a short detour so we could experience Niagara Falls. We began up a bridge that pointed to Canda, because none of us had passports, we didn't fully anticipated being able to get into Canada. Though we thought we could get to Niagara Falls from that point. After getting up to Canadian customs we decided to just turn around before going through, so with a trailer and SUV we turned around in busy traffic, and headed back over the bridge. Of course traffic was insane and it took us an hour to get back over the bridge, which we had then realized that we had to go through US customs, even though we hadn't actually gone to Canada. We're two cars back from customs as Hallie has a diaper blow out getting on her clothing and car seat. Morgan plucks her out, changes her , and puts her back in her car seat in just a diaper as we pull up to the window. Caleb explains that we didn't really go through to Canada, we have no passports, we have no ID for Hallie, and our trailer is empty. Thankfully, the customs officer was so gracious and let us through. Then, flustered, and ready to just leave, Cal forgot the fenders on the trailer were a little wider than the vehicle. We hit a pole as he was turning the corner, and knocked off one fender before the officer opened the gate so we could just pull straight through. 

Best adventure of not going to Canada I've ever had. ;) A little while later, we did make it to the US side of the falls before finishing our drive. 

Lunch in Vermont where the pancakes are 14 inches each! 

Vermont mountains

Monday, July 14, 2014


 Over the weekend, a group of friends [+ a few chaps] headed out Friday evening for camping and an outdoor drama. Chillicothe, OH is home to an amphitheater performance that tells the life story of the great Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. Tecumseh plays a big role in the nation's history, as well as our local history when he signed The Treaty of Greenville. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed to be taken during the performance, which is probably for the best considering all the loincloths. o_0 We camped at Hocking Hills state park and then spent a few hours hiking before heading home.

Monday, July 7, 2014

4th O' July Weekend + Apple Caramel Brownies

 When it comes to holiday's Christmas is my very favorite, closely followed by the 4th of July as a second. I absolutely love fireworks and it seems my sweet niece does too. She sat mesmerized, talking up a storm as she watched. I'm so thankful for the men and women that have and will serve our country and give up their lives, comfort/needs, family, etc.

I started my 4 day weekend [oh yeah!] off with a 5K and walked in a parade with our church's float. A few hours relaxing by the pool with my favorite bride to be and then dinner at Morgan & Caleb's and fireworks with them. Saturday, I got to make my FIRST ever trip to Ikea on our way home from picking up Cassidy's wedding gown. Definitely a fun girl outing and back home to whip up the amazing Apple Caramel Brownies below. Last night contained more fireworks....because the 4th of July can never have too many fireworks!

Apple Caramel Brownies: 
These babies are so easy and delish! They kinda remind us of zucchini bread or an apple coffee cake. 

Apple Caramel Brownies

2 stick salted butter, melted and cooled.
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large egg
1 cup chopped pecans, plus 1/2 cup for the very top
4 large firm-sweet apples (about 1 pound) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, about 2 3/4 cups
35-ish caramel candies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 X 13 pan with either cooking spray, butter, or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together butter, sugar and egg with a hand mixer until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add chopped pecans and apples, and stir by hand until combined. Add flour mixture, and stir until combined.
  3. Spread batter in pan. Place caramel candies in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds,at a time, stirring until completely melted. Drizzle caramel over batter, remaining 1/2 cup pecans and bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Cool before cutting. 
You can drizzle more caramel on top after they've cooled if your heart desires to...but I like them as is. 

Adapted from Foodie Crush

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Food Love

THIS is it. I have finally discovered the most amazing granola recipe. Chocolate and peanut butter forge together to make this masterpiece of clean eating [read: real food but still high in calories]. It's drool worthy and so simple.

6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cup nuts or seeds [totally optional...I left them out]
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup peanut butter of your choosing [go with a natural version that just contains peanuts and sugar!]
2/3 cup honey [could try substituting for pure maple syrup, molasses, or sorghum]
1/2 cup coconut oil [melted]
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper.

Mix oats, nuts/seeds, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, melt coconut oil. Then, add in peanut butter, honey, and vanilla and whisk together. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until everything is moist. Divide between your two baking sheets and spread it out evenly. Bake for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes [I also rotate my cooking sheets when I stir it so that one pan doesn't get too done on the bottom or the top]. Let it cool for 30 minutes before storing it in an air tight container or zip lock bag. Letting it cool will help make it more crunchy!

Feel free to get creative with this adding in dry fruit, cinnamon, nuts and seeds, whatever else your little heart desires! Eat it by itself, on top of yogurt, or drowned in milk.

Other recent foods I've fallen in love with:
 Spinach with strawberries, slivered almonds, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I've been try to eat more dark leafy greens lately, including putting them in breakfast smoothies. 
Avocado. One of thee best sources for healthy, plant based fat. Ohio doesn't always get the greatest avocados, so I rejoice every time I slice one open and find it perfectly ripe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lynni Comes To Town

If you've been reading my blog for a few years now, you've seen our beloved red head, Lynni, pop up a few times. We met WAY back in the day (think 7+ years ago) via our family blog when she was the first person to leave a comment. The first time we met was three years ago this weekend when she came down to go on my college Bible studies groups three day long camping trip. Girl showed up in yoga pants, hot pink shirt, hoop earrings, and curled hair...and we were headed to a "no shower, port-a-potty" zone. I braced myself for potentially the longest weekend of my life as it seemed I was going camping with Barbie! Turns out she could rough it and look good at the same time. ;) This past weekend she came to spend the day with us and brought her sweet baby Claire for us to meet for the first time!

 Father's day weekend 2011 after we got back from camping.
 Three years later we look nearly the same....

...but life has changed a bit!

 Fourth of July weekend 2011...Morgan and Cal were dating then....and she was convinced Morgan needed to get rid of him, I didn't agree and told her she could just go home.
 Three years later!

 Obviously, Caleb stayed...and Lynni and Morgan...and the rest of our family are pretty happy he did. He got to pretend they had twins for about 2 minutes while mom took the picture. 
 Sweet Claire Bear
1 month apart. Both 16 lbs. Matching dresses. 
Friends for life.

Lynni is also the owner of Ranchess Collections, a darling boutique she opened Fall 2013. I've only bought a few things so far....but I am in LOVE with what I purchased!