Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Walnut, Cranberry & Coconut Granola Bars

Aubrey submitted this recipe for Tasty Tuesday... she says they're delicious & perfect for breakfast or a quick snack!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups oats (not quick cook)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries

The Directions:

Grease 9x13 pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In saucepan, melt butter, honey & vanilla. Cook on very low simmer for 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Add in melted butter mixture. Stir well & then press in prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Do not overcook or they will be crumbly. After baking, let cool. Makes 20-24 squares.

*Note: these freeze very well!

Monday, April 22, 2013

getting crafty: spring burlap wreaths

For our craft this past month, we made burlap wreaths. SO cute. And so versatile... just change the embellishments to fit every season!

I didn't get a good pic during the meeting this month (& mine's not example-worthy), but here's a wreath that's very similar to the ones we made minus the ribbon hanger:

Here's the tutorial for making your own burlap wreath at home.

What you need:

  • a 12-inch straw or foam wreath form (this is the easy way)
  • or to make your own wreath form like Abbey did (this is the not-as-easy way), you need: 
    • 1/2 a length of pipe insulation (sold at home improvements stores. One piece of pipe insulation cost $1.18 at Home Depot & made two wreaths)
    • duct tape
  • burlap strip at least 72" long by 6" wide or longer (can be varied to fit your preferences). This is sold on a spool at craft stores, or you can buy a big piece of burlap & cut your own for a more frayed look.
  • glue gun & sticks
  • 12" length of wide ribbon for making wreath hanger
  • colored tissue paper
  • narrow ribbon to tie paper flowers
  • any other embellishments


If you're making your own wreath form, click here for a tutorial.

Once your wreath form is completed, secure one end of your burlap strip to the wreath by tucking it into a crack, hot gluing it, or tacking with a pin.

Spiral your burlap around the wreath form, wrapping it at an angle. Overlap the edges slightly so that the wreath form is completely covered. You can play with it to achieve a tightly wrapped wreath, or you can go with a looser version. If you don't like it, just unwrap & try again!

*Note: if you want your burlap to overlap more for more coverage (& aren't working on a tight MOPS budget!), use a longer strip of burlap.

After your wreath is wrapped, attach the burlap's loose end with hot glue to keep it from unraveling. You may want to fold under the end of the burlap before gluing to eliminate fraying & create a more finished look.

Decide where you want your flowers/decorations & ribbon hanger. If there's a particular area of your wreath that's not quite as pretty, the flowers can easily cover that up for ya! Hot glue the two ends of the ribbon on the inside of the wreath to form a loop for hanging.

To create tissue paper flowers like we used in our meeting, use this tutorial (but use the narrow ribbons instead of pipe-cleaners).

Once you've made & fluffed your desired number of flowers, attach them to your wreath either by tying them with the narrow ribbon or hot gluing them. If you go with tying them, you can just untie them when you're ready to change the look of your wreath!

Ideas for wreath variations:

Add a letter or monogram for a personalized touch (this wreath is for sale on etsy right now for $42... look at all that money you're saving!)

Or get creative with your embellishments... instead of just flowers, check out the nest & twigs used here. So cute!

This lovely little burlap wreath is decorated with rolled fabric rosettes (click here for tutorial) & a bunting made of scrapbook paper...

Or check out this display option... instead of hanging her wreath, this lady propped hers on a plate stand & added a mini chalkboard to the middle.

And finally, give your wreath a summer update in a month or two by adding seashells from your family's beach vacation... it's a keepsake & cute decor all rolled into one!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Steering Team... to join or not to join?

During last week's meeting, two members of Steering Team spoke about what ST has meant to them & Margaret passed out a ST interest form (download available at end of this post).  I can say it's one of the best things I've done for myself since becoming a mother... so, so thankful that I impulsively signed up last year! :)

ST is an incredible experience... you're working closely with a fun group of ladies while serving your community & other moms! Being a Steering Team member is a time commitment. ST meets once a month, usually during the week after the meeting. These meeting usually last 2 to 2.5 hours during the evening. We don't have childcare during the ST meetings, so you'll need to have someone to keep your littles at least once a month. We also have a weekend day retreat during the summer, during which we'll plan the coming year. Each member of ST helps with set-up on Wednesday night before the monthly meeting or clean-up after the meeting.

And of course, willingness to serve is of utmost importance. As a group of mothers, we have issues & other commitments come up... that's when it's crucial to have a supportive team to step up & help each other. I've been continually amazed this year by the support & love shown to one another by the members of ST!

Joining ST is a great way to take your MOPS experience to a more personal level. So think about it, pray about it & if you decide to join, we'd LOVE to have you!

If you're interested in joining ST, please print the following form, fill it out & bring to our next meeting:

Click here to download the MOPS Steering Team form for 2013-14.

Monday, April 15, 2013

wise words from Abbey (& her grandma)

Abbey did our devotion this month & shared an excerpt from a book that her sweet 91-year-old grandmother recommended. Sometimes the right thing comes along in the most unexpected way! :)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.         (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Abbey reminded us that we need to try to spend time all day every day communing with God in the mess of everyday life, not waiting or wishing for some fantasy or uncluttered version of life. In order to accomplish the "be cheerful no matter what" & "thank God no matter what" part of the scripture above, we really have to hone in on the "pray all the time" part.

Here's an excerpt from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young:

I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life. You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all. 
Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day. Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life. Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment. He will keep you close to Me.  

Remember, a successful day isn't necessarily one in which we've checked everything off our "to do" list, but rather one in which we've spent communicated with God all day.

Thanks for the wonderful reminder, Abbey!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April meeting recap!

This past Thursday was our last meeting at New Covenant! It's really difficult to even say how much we appreciate NC... they've hosted us for 10 years & done everything possible to make us feel welcome. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, New Covenant Church!! So, so much!

Our last meeting of the year, on May 9th, will be at our new location -- Boulevard Baptist Church, located at 700 Boulevard. Please write yourself a note, mark your calendar, put a reminder in your phone... whatever you need to do to make sure we don't leave you behind! The Steering Team is hard at work to make this transition a  smooth one... more info on our first Boulevard meeting will be coming soon.

Thursday's meeting theme was "Deserted Island: Getting Ready for Summer Vacation." Summer is a wonderful time... that is, until you're only a week in & the kids are yelling that they're bored & you're feeling a little crazy & don't have a clue how you're going to make it for 2 more months in a semi-sane state. :)

And that's where our Mom Panel comes in!

We had four of our MOPS mamas talk about different aspects of how to keep your kiddos happy & learning throughout the hot summer months. Our speakers have so kindly shared their hand-outs with us... they're (hopefully) available for download below. This is the first time I've attempted downloads, so let me know if things don't work!

The Summer Schedule

It's easy to have great intentions... it's a little more difficult to actually put all those plans into motion. So give this schedule a try:

On "Make Something Monday," get creative! It can be as involved as doing a craft or as simple as letting the kids help make cookies or dinner... just tweak based on your family's schedule!

On "Take a Trip Tuesday," throw the kids in the car & get out of the house. Go to a MOPS playdate (click here for our summer calendar) or go to the park to feed the ducks. I did a handout of free & cheapish things to do in our area.... I've added a few suggestions from our meeting as well. This list is available for download at the end of this post.

On "Wise Wednesday," try to do something educational. Britney shared a fabulous list of ways to teach your kids while having lots of fun.

On "Thankful Thursday," teach your kids about serving others. Aubrey did a great handout of things we can do with our kids, from taking applesauce to AIM to choosing one of their own toys to give to a friend for his/her birthday.

And on "Have Fun Friday," just do something fun! Emily has a great list of ideas... I loved her suggestion of hiding snacks in leftover plastic Easter eggs for a snack scavenger hunt! And try to snap some pics of all these little moments... no matter how seemingly insignificant, it'll be wonderful to have all these summer memories captured!

Printables to help you get ready for summer!

Here are the handouts if you'd like to print them:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Spinach Strawberry Salad

Who's ready for spring & warmer weather?!... this colorful & easy salad is a great way to kick off April!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of pre-washed spinach 
  • 1 handful of candied pecans, broken into pieces (most grocery stores sell these in small containers in the produce/nuts section)
  • 1 container of strawberries, quartered
  • Feta cheese or goat cheese, crumbled
  • Red onion, very thinly sliced
  • Your favorite vinaigrette dressing (a great, super-easy option is Kraft Raspberry Poppyseed Anything dressing, 8oz. I just use the whole bottle)

The Directions:

Dump everything in a large bowl & toss until thoroughly coated with dressing. You're done! :)