Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kitchen Files: Homemade Lara Bars

So, I totally fell off the face of the Earth for a few months. Whoops. I guess I can use pregnancy brain as my excuse..? (Oh yeah, I'm pregnant by the way.)

I have been doing crafts over the past few months and will try to get them posted in a timely manner.  No promises. 

Anyway, every few weeks I spend a few hours in the kitchen making things that I can freeze and take to work for breakfasts and snacks. I typically make some oatmeal muffins, trail mix and homemade Lara bars and then also cut up all of my fruit for the week.

As of a few months ago, I would buy a box of Lara bars every week, but those are expensive! We're talking about $6 for a box of 5. Plus, they are a higher calorie bar (about 210-220 calories), which is a little more than I like to eat for a snack. So thanks to Pinterest and a few friends, I learned that I could just make my own. Not only would it save money, but I could make them into a more manageable snack size.

I bought a tub of dates, the main ingredient in Lara bars, at Costco for about $8 back in early April and 3 double batches of bars later, I still have some left, so that tells you how much more affordable these are compared to buying a box at the store every week.

The flavors I've made so far include lemon, peanut butter cookie, peanut butter chocolate chip and most recently coconut chocolate chip. Clif Bar came out with a coconut chocolate chip  bar recently that I love, so I decided to try it out in Lara bar form. Oh my, I've really hit the jackpot with this one!

I also made Coconut Lemon, which is pretty good. 

The main ingredients of my bars never change: 1 cup of dates (blended into a paste) and 1/3 cup raw almonds (finely chopped). The rest of the ingredients depend on what flavor I want or what I have in my cupboard at the time (let's be honest, we always have peanut butter and chocolate chips). You can definitely experiment with different nuts as well. A friend of mine uses cashews in hers and has tried hazelnuts as well.

For the coconut chocolate chip, I added 1/3 cup toasted coconut (toasted by my husband) and about 1/8 cup chopped chocolate chips. 

Once I have everything mushed together, I spread it out on a little tin foil covered tray. I try to make them all one thickness, but sometimes they aren't. I don't really care too much. Then I pop them in the fridge for a few hours to harden up a bit. 

After a few hours, I take them out and cut into 6 bars. I'd say each bar is about 3" by 3" give or take and about 1/4" thick. Of course, if you want thicker bars, just don't spread them out as thick on the tray. If you want more bars, you can easily double or triple the recipe! 

Here is the original recipe I use! The Lara bar site also has the ingredients for all of their flavors, so check them out if you'd like some ideas.

Monday, February 25, 2013

DIY: Burp Cloths

Well, I finally did it. I learned how to use my sewing machine! I had a friend come over on a Friday night to show me the basics so I could actually start sewing simple things. Now that I'm done with grad school, I've been feeling bored, so I needed something to pass the time. 

My friend came over and walked me through threading the machine and all that stuff, but when we used the machine, it sounded all rickety and like it was about to fall apart. I guess that's what 5 years of non-use will do to a machine. So, we also learned how to clean the sewing machine, which will probably be helpful down the road.

Two hours after we started the process, I actually got to sewing my first project. I started with probably the most basic thing ever, these burp cloths. I wanted to make something that could be used as a gift for a friend that's having a baby. Plus, I have a lot of other friends that are in the baby making stage, so this could be a project I can repeat in the future.

I literally had to sew four lines per burp cloth. Surely I could handle this!

I'm not going to rehash the tutorial since I followed it exactly, but in the end, the they turned out really cute!

A baby is going to puke on these.

I plan to make some other baby related items like bibs, crinkly toys and door stoppers.

Maybe someday, I'll even be able to sew something I can wear! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm gonna pop some tags. Only got $20 in my pocket.

Since I love me some Goodwill shopping, I decided to take part in Young House Love's Thrift Shop Challenge this week. 

The rules were simple.

1. Go to the thrift shop with only $20 to spend. You're supposed to take a picture of this, but I was alone and I didn't actually have a $20 bill. I just had my check card and I probably don't want that photographed.

2. Find some goodies totaling no more than $20 and share what you found.

3. BONUS! Take a picture with something referenced in the song.

So, I headed over to my second favorite Goodwill; the one in Eagan. (Minnetonka is my favorite one because it has the BEST stuff! All of the richie riches from Minnetonka drop off their name brand stuff with tags still on it!)

I browsed around and saw a few things that sparked my interest.

I thought these mirrors for $9.99 each would have been cool with a little bit of a makeover. I've been looking for a set of mirrors to put above our bed, but haven't had luck yet. If there would have been 4 of these, I may have blown my budget and bought them all. 

This pillow from Target was cute and I thought it would have looked nice as an accent on our bed, but then I remembered that any pillow that we don't sleep on is never actually on the bed unless we have people over and the might see our room. So, I decided to pass on spending the $6.99. 

(PS- Since Target is HQd in Minnesota, the Goodwills around here are chock full of brand new Target items from past seasons. Some Goodwills, like the one in Minnetonka, have entire sections of Target stuff! The downside is that it all has red tags and red tags are never included in the 50% off tag sale on Sundays and Mondays. I personally think most of the Target stuff is overpriced for Goodwill, but it's still cheaper than full price!)

Then I came across this guy...

It was hard to resist at just $2.99, but for some reason I couldn't think of anywhere it would go in our house. (Totally joking on wanting this!)

So what did I actually buy?! 

Shockingly, I only spent $2.13 on the thrift store challenge!

It was on this little guy here. It's actually an old cologne bottle (that still smells like cologne inside), but I thought it was really cute with the gold accents. I haven't decided if I'll paint it yet because the greenish glass is cool, but I can also picture it in crisp white with the gold accents. I thought he was worth the $1.99 plus tax. 

And as for the BONUS step, you're dang tootin' that I stepped up to that challenge. My take on it?

Just rockin' that Cosby sweater over my green dress. 

If I would have planned ahead a little more, I definitely would have hit up the Minnetonka Goodwill to what kind of goodies they had there! 

Check out my Goodwill shopping guide for crafting, too! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DIY: My sister's wedding

My sister got married on New Year's Eve! I'm so happy for the adorable couple. My sister looked absolutely amazing and her groom looked so handsome in his tux and bow tie.

Me with my sissies.

Since it was on New Year's Eve, they went with that theme and had so many cute touches throughout the day like champagne with little tinsel skewers in it during cocktail hour, mini champagnes as the favors and meal indicators and of course, as midnight approached, they handed out all sorts of fun new years props like hats, noisemakers, leis, glasses and crowns.

They brought in McDonald's cheeseburgers and fries as a late night snack! 

I helped throughout the planning process by making the save the dates, invites and most of the signage that they used throughout the day, so I thought I would share some of the goodies.

Save the date:

This is just the back side, but the front is just a photo of the couple. It was an oversized postcard in an envelope. 


My sister wanted something very clean and simple for the invite. They had a calligrapher do their names and then we worked with a variety of fonts on the invitation. Everything was printed on a bright white card stock.

Information card:


They circled the number of people the invitation was for. 

I also made a few other things:

They had a wish tree for their guest book so this told people what they should do. My sister put one of the actual tags in the empty space on the page and framed it. 

A fun sign! 

I also did some other stuff like table numbers, beverage signs for the bar, one for the Oreo cookie groom's cake, etc. Simple stuff that just let people know what they should be doing :) 

It was a truly magical day and a great way to spend New Year's Eve! Now if only I could have such an amazing New Year's Eve celebration every year! 

My own groom and my devil eyes. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

DIY: Ornament Window Decor

We have huge awesome windows on the front side of our house and I wanted to dress them up a bit for the holidays this year. I pinned this idea a long time ago and as soon as Thanksgiving rolled around, I was decorating the house for the holidays. 

I bought two tension rods at Menards for about $4 each and put them up made my husband figure out how a tension rod works. He put them up and I couldn't even see where they were, so that's a win in my book. 

Then I used clear fishing wire type string to hang the balls at varying heights. I used 6 balls per window and tried to alternate the colors. Last year after Christmas I bought a pack of 50 plastic ornaments at Target for like $2 or something ridiculous like that so that's what I used for this project. 

So, other than the new tension rods, this project was free! 

Don't be alarmed, but I actually used PhotoShop on these next two pictures because they were too dark. I know, I'm surprised at my lack of laziness as well. 

Unfortunately, that was pretty much my only DIY project for the holidays because I was wrapping up my Master's degree and really didn't have time to make anything new for the holidays this year. BUT, now I'm done with school and will have so much time on my hands!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DIY: Bachelorette Party Game

I hosted my sister's bachelorette party a few weeks ago and didn't really do much DIY stuff for it, but did play one game that I thought was fun. 

First, everyone was greeted with this message when they came over:

(Yes, I still have that there 3 weeks later. It's totally an appropriate greeting for my guests)

At my bachelorette party, my sister printed a giant photo of my husband and had us play Pin the Penis on Marty, so I wanted to change it up a little bit for her party.

I printed an 11 X 17 photo of her fiance's head and then put some brown paper behind it so we could play a kissing version of Pin the Whatever on the Fiance.

I made everyone put on lipstick and then put a sleeping mask on them. I spun them around a few times and made them try to kiss George's lips without using their hands. 

Then I put the person's initials next to their lip mark so we could see who got the closest. 

The bride didn't even get close, and my other sister ended up planting one right on George's  lips! 

I put together these little favors for the game winners.

We also took photos of everyone when we went to dinner as 'before' photos and then the next morning as 'after' pictures. I'm working on a little project with those, too. 

My sister, the bachelorette. 18 days until the wedding!