Maple Rum Granola

Can we talk granola today? WHY don’t we make it ourselves? It’s ridiculously easy and totally adaptable. (and if you’re looking for a last minute/budget friendly gift for the people in your life, this granola will make you a rock star. Can you say Pinterest-Mason jar win? Huzzah!). I forget how much I actually enjoy making it…until this weekend.

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I like my granola to be interesting, and by “interesting,” I mean that it should have as much stuff as I can find to throw into it. Texture is huge.

This granola has a wonderful rummy undertone…because I can’t leave well enough alone and made it boozey.

The recipe below makes a pretty big batch if you want to share it, and if not granola will last for quite some time in an airtight container. Breakfast on the run or purse snacks, anyone?

Maple Rum Granola

What you’ll need:

10 cups oats

1 ½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped (I just broke apart with my hands)

1/2 cup hemp seeds

1/3 cup ground flax seed meal.

1 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)

2 cups coconut  flakes (unsweetened)

1 cup cocoa nibs

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. sea salt

1 ¼ cup maple syrup

1 cup olive oil

1/3 cup dark rum

1 splash vanilla

Dried cranberries-to your taste- I threw in a few handfuls.

What to do:

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 325.

Combine all dry ingredients except cranberries in a large bowl. Note:  Don’t have a big enough mixing bowl? A giant soup pot works really well!

Heat maple syrup, olive oil and dark rum in a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil for about two minutes, stirring occasionally. Then turn off heat. Let cool slightly and stir in vanilla.

Add your maple mixture to dry ingredients and toss until evenly coated.

Pour granola onto 3 lined baking sheets and bake in pre-heated oven for about 50 minutes or until granola is golden brown, taking out once to toss (so your oats don’t burn).

Allow granola to cool completely, then mix in dried cranberries and store in an airtight container. 

Happy eating!


Getting Crafty-Upcycled Seed Packet Favors

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a good friend’s bridal shower.

The best part? I got to get crafty and make the favors.

Now, if you know me, you know that I am not the most DIY talented person…but this favor was something that ANYONE can do.

I did a quick Google search and found these little beauties.

Again, so easy, even I was able to do it…with some help from my amazing friends Vanessa and Tina. Thanks, Ladies!

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Piles of seed packets….

Here’s what I came up with to go along with the seed packets.

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I know, super corny.

These were actually pretty fun to make and did not break the bank. A great idea for upcycling.

The best part? We get to use all of the leftover cardboard cylinders for starting seeds. Win!

What did I use?

  • Cardboard tubes from Paper Towel/TP Rolls (Free from friends!)
  • Ribbon
  • Cardstock
  • Fun Purple Paper
  • Staples
  • Glue Tape
  • Scissors
  • Seeds (Free from Farmer Ben)
  • A few different stamps and purple ink
  • A purple marker for marking packets by type

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After you have all of your pieces, just tie them together with a pretty ribbon.

And enjoy!

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A Fresh (Picked) Plate

Today I came home to a wonderful surprise. Farmer Ben had been playing in the garden and had some gorgeous veggies to prove it… and then, per usual, he turned it into a wonderful dinner for us to share. Take a look!

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Cabbage rolls, cucumber, beets, tomatoes, and potatoes–all picked today!–paired with local eggs and some chili sauce (a Farmer Ben specialty) from last year’s peppers. I am so excited to enjoy this meal, it’s the first big pick from the garden, other than a few small tomatoes, herbs and tons of lettuce. Not pictured: beet greens and swiss chard… and a giant tomato! I hope you all enjoy your dinners as much as I am going to enjoy this one. Happy Monday!


Something to Smile About…

Last week was rough. There’s really no other way to describe it. 

Without getting into too much detail, I had way too many things going on…and I missed an important appointment because I didn’t double-check my dates (BUT, I was able to reschedule!).

Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who helps me out in any way he can. Last week it was doing laundry, getting up with me at 5:30 in the morning and driving 40 minutes–each way– to pick someone up before I went to work, making  breakfast and lunch, and listening to me have a mini-meltdown midweek. No big deal.

Somehow, we made it through the week and Saturday morning, we were out of bed bright and early to drive down to the social event I’ve been mentioning for the last month or so.

This weekend, Ben and I attended a wedding. The wedding of my friend Laura… or my ex would-have-been-sister-in-law. She’s a pretty amazing lady and we are still close. Driving down Saturday morning my feelings were swinging between “This is going to be totally fine. It’s not a big deal.” and “What the heck was I thinking?! I am so nervous that I am going to drive off the road!”

The reality of the event was somewhere in between. I’ll share more in my next post…but for now, I need to share some positivity!

So, here is a short list of things that made my weekend (and life in general) pretty amazing:

1. My hubs. This man makes my life a lot more interesting. Each and every day. Not to mention,  he’s pretty handsome.

2. Wearing a dress that I haven’t worn in a long time and finding out that it still looks pretty good. It’s an awesome feeling, and nice to know that hard work does pay off.  

We clean up pretty well, don’t we?

3. Local Produce. I love going to farm stands, co-ops and farmers’ markets and knowing that I am supporting my local economy… not to mention, it just tastes better. This weekend, my sister, Ben and I visited Turks, a small farm and flower market in Horseheads, NY.

Shades of Summer…

I love summer veggies!

4. My amazing family. And our abillity to make stupid faces. Meghan is going to kill me.

5. Fresh Ingredients. Simple Food. Delicious-ness. Here are some shots of our Sunday lunch. Thrown together in about thirty minutes after a quick trip to Turks and Wegmans for supplies.

Brie and Baguette are a must-have!

A closer look… Quick Pickles, Caprese Salad and A Veggie Plate

6. Potato Salad. Especially when it’s not drenched in Mayo…Recipe for this particular salad is coming soon!

I love all the color in this bowl!

   7. Late summer nights. Particularly when paired with a glass of wine in hand, hummus at my fingertips and ridiculous conversation. Bonus points for a bonfire.

What are some things that make you ridiculously happy? 

As I said, stay tuned. More to come!


If You’re Anything Like Me…

You probably wait until the last minute (or a week after) to buy your loved ones a birthday card.

You probably look at the calendar and say “Oh crap! Mothers’ Day is THIS Sunday?!”

But I didn’t do that this year. Ben and I were all over Mother’s Day…part of her gift anyway.

Anyway, here are some suggestions, if you ARE anything like me.

One of my favorite things to do with my mother is to sit down and have a meal with her, even if it’s something simple, like this pasta dish. That quality time is a gift in and of itself and I do the dishes!

I also love bringing her baked goods, like these whiskey cookies

This year, because Ben and I are both working on Mothers’ Day, we got her some amazing Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar from The Saratoga Olive Oil Company…to start.

Out of Saratoga, NY, they just opened up a shop on Church Street in Burlington, VT. This place is amazing. When you open the door, you enter a tasting room; silver vats of olive oils and vinegars line the room and little tasting cups and bowls of bread line the tables. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. You’ll try things like Blood Orange Olive Oil, Jalapeno White Vinegar, and Roasted French Walnut Oil. Like I said, amazing. You can also order online.

Ben and I picked up this sweet little variety pack.

Another awesome foodie item? Fat Toad Farm Goat Milk Caramel. My favorite variety is the Coffee Bean Caramel. It’s perfect to stir into your morning coffee, drizzle over ice cream or dip with fruit. If you have a caramel lover in your life, check this stuff out! Their website lists locations where the products are available, or you can order online!

Perfect Morning Pick-Me-Up!

If you’re not a foodie, handmade jewelry is another winner, at least in my mother’s book. Check out my previous post, Bling-Blingin’, to see some of my friend Kate’s work. She’s got a great eye and makes some pretty awesome jewelry. Do you have any go-to gift ideas? Or something completely different? How do you celebrate your mother? 

Anyway, I hope you have found or will find the perfect gift to thank your mother. Good luck, and happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there…a few days early!


R & R…or Something Like It.

Wow, it’s hard to believe that our mini-getaway was almost three weeks ago! I guess time flies when you’re crazy busy!

So, what have I been up these last few weeks?

We successfully took our road trip to visit the fam. Ben finally met my oldest sister, which made me super happy! We also indulged in Wegmans, family time, coffee, tons of delicious food, grilling, 80 degree weather, Wegmans and more Wegmans.

Then we came back to reality. And went back to work. Le sigh.

I made these amazing cupcakes. One of Ben’s co-workers liked them so much that he hugged me. Twice.

I also made this ridiculously easy-and crazy good dip.

And then I made some more tortillas, some tasty pasta and yummy egg salad (sunflower seeds are an excellent addition. Who knew?)

Oh! I also went to a pretty awesome benefit for a friend (Hi Brenda!). It was so nice to see people come together for an outstanding cause…I even took home a fantastic (giant!) drying rack for laundry…it may take up half of my living room when it’s unfolded. And… I may have gotten third place in the karaoke contest, not too shabby!

In our down time, Ben and I have been making random trips to the co-op and grocery store,  and ordering giant crocks and sauerkraut stompers from Lehmans. No big deal.

I’ve also stumbled on a new food obsession. Spinach Smoothies. Don’t hate.

I like to mix it up, but my typical creation is this; you take a cup of milk (I’ve been experimenting with my milks, I’m currently on almond milk), a spoonful of peanut butter, half a banana (frozen works best), a couple spoonfuls of flax seed meal and a bunch of spinach, throw it all in the blender and blend til combined. Enjoy! I have also been known to use nutella instead of peanut butter or add in some kale/berries…I love it because it takes little effort to make and helps me get a nice kick of fruits/veggies in the morning.  I also LOVE the bright green color. Anyway, try it. Mix it up. It’s worth it.

Speaking of blended veggies, I  tried a few of Zee Lemon’s juice concoctions over the last week. I have to say, I was a huge fan. Head on over to her blog and check out her “take-over” posts. Pretty interesting stuff. And some great ideas.

Another concoction I came up with?

An apple-peeled, a kiwi-peeled, about a cup of broccoli, about a cup of berries and as much spinach as you can fit in the blender. Surprisingly, very good. It also has a gorgeous color. I had this for breakfast on Friday and it was one of the only times that I wasn’t starving a few hours later.

Let’s see…what else have I been up to? We spent yesterday with Ben’s best friend’s family and had a great time. Good food, great conversation and lots of relaxation. I’d say it was a win. Ben even got Preston to eat his veggies. No small feat.

I’ve also been running and going for walks. And not drinking a lot of coffee. I don’t know how I stay awake. I picked up a sweet pair of kicks and have a date with two good friends from good ol’ RSC tomorrow. Super excited!

Anyway, that’s all for now.  Are you going through any weird food phases?  Share them below!


What the What?!

Have you ever had one of those weeks months where you have absolutely no idea what will happen next? Or, for that matter, you’re not sure how you got to where you are? I am currently there.

I don’t know if it’s daylight savings time, being super busy or…something else, but I feel like I just got off the zipper and am waiting for my head to stop spinning.

The past few weeks have been a blur…consisting of getting up, rushing to work and then rushing to job number two…followed by driving home, cooking random foods and entertaining my husband with my ability to make a giant mess in less than 5 minutes…with a little life organizing, mini trips,  connexion groups, date nights, church, sporadically exercising, pretending to get enough sleep and trying to keep in touch with family and friends mixed in….topped off with some total randomness.

Like I said, not sure how it is already March 14. There is so much going on.

First, some good news! After being married for almost seven months, Ben and I FINALLY mailed out the very last of our long overdue thank you notes. Better late than never I suppose. I am embarrassed to admit this, but we wrote and mailed out the first half about two months ago… and then just never found a spare moment to finish the other half…until a few nights ago…so if you were included in this second batch, I’m really sorry for the hubs and I dropping the ball.

Second, Ben finally let me try the pickles he made this summer-both varieties! AMAZING. I ate so many that I gave myself a stomach-ache. Typical.

Third, we have a mini vacation planned for next week and it cannot come soon enough! Granted, we are only driving six hours south…but it will be a nice escape… and five days off. I love road trips..even if they are short. I also love days off…especially when they are consecutive.  I am so excited to see my family and to get out of town…and to spend an entire five days with my hubby!

The hubs and I may have some changes on the horizon, so keep us in your prayers! Nothing serious, just some things to take care of/decide on.

It’s been beautiful in the North Country as of late, temperatures have been in the 50’s and the sun has been shining. Not too shabby for March. If I could change the fact that my driveway is a giant mud pit then all would be perfect. Some day it will dry… sigh…

The weather has really helped my running…meaning that I’ve actually been running. I’m still not too great at the whole getting out of bed early thing..but I’m trying!  Mondays and Wednesday are the glorious days when I can run after work and thanks to daylight savings time,  I can now finish before dark! I’m looking forward to hitting the pavement tonight. This is my latest motivation: Ragnar Relay … This race looks AMAZING!

We’ve been experimenting with some new recipes, including some homemade energy/granola bars. This means glorious bulk items from our co-op including nuts and coconut. I love it.

It’s almost garden season. Ben is already making big plans for our yard. I cannot wait. I also cannot wait to break in our solar food dehydrator. Hello sun-dried tomatoes!

Jalapeno of Yesteryear...

Green Tomatoes of the past...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t tell from the pictures, I am ready for garden fresh veggies!

In other news, I have a couple of restaurant reviews to post…along with a recipe or two. There is even talk of that Ben guy doing a guest post!

Stay tuned and have a great rest of the day!