Sunday, May 17, 2015

How sweet it is

 SOC Sunday 2015
Thank you Fadra for a kick in the butt to post on my blog! You felt badly about not posting for the past two weeks, while I have not posted in months.  Our roller coaster life continues on it's way.  This week we will close on our former house. What a relief to only own one house!  The new owners are really nice and we wish them luck in our home. We miss the amazing kitchen every single day.  But, on the bright side we love our new house and neighborhood. Each and every neighbor we meet is incredibly nice, it feels like home already.  
Anyone else struggling with a defiant 7 year old? Being the youngest of the family can be tough. And being the only girl in the family is also hard. But seriously, she is pushing our buttons, minute by minute.  I know this phase will pass but right now it is hard.  
The kitchen is still my happy place. I just wish I had more foods that the picky kid would enjoy.  My pickiest eater literally likes 4 foods plus fruits. It is so hard to feed him.  One day this will change, right??
I saw a shirt that someone posted on Facebook, I think I need one. It says, stop me before I volunteer again.  Anyone else need one of those?
Have a great Sunday everyone!
This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Link your new posts to All Things Fadra (feel free to use her SOC Sunday graphic).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

10 Grain Muffins for the Win!

A few years ago I was nominated to be a Hero of the Mill from the Bob's Red Mill company.  This honor really means a lot to me. I eat very healthy, and try to convince my kids that they also want to eat healthy.  But, with the kids, if it does not taste delicious, they will not give it a try.
As a Hero of the Mill, I get surprise packages in the mail a few times a year. The packages are always amazing and always include things I use IMMEDIATELY.  We just moved and a new package arrived.
This month's surprise include a Thermos, a bag of Turbinado Sugar and a bag of 10 grain hot cereal. Diane just started a new school and at her new school the kids bring thermos'. Diane immediately claimed this one and it keeps her lunch hot!! What a great item.  The turbinado sugar has huge crystals and it tastes awesome.  We have tried it in coffee, tea and muffins so far.

We eat Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats for breakfast everyday.  I think we have eaten those for at least 10 years now.  We have never tried a 10 grain hot cereal before and it was delicious.  A nice change of pace.  You can make it before you go to bed in a thermos, then grab it and go off on your day with a hot breakfast at your fingertips.  Ten different grains are included in this mix:
*Whole Grain Wheat
*Whole Grain Rye
*Corn Grits
*Whole Grain Triticale
*Whole Grain Oats
*Soy Beans
*Whole Grain Millet
*Whole Grain Brown Rice
*Oat Bran
*Flaxseed Meal

If you want to make this 10 grain cereal that is really easy. Or, you can use the cereal in a filling 10 grain muffin.  We have made this recipe twice and the muffins are eaten in minutes.  Perfect for an on the go snack, lunchbox treat, or breakfast.

10 Grain Muffins, makes 14
1 cup of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain cereal
1 and 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (or your favorite sweetener)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 egg or egg substitute
1 cup Bob's Red Mill pastry whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small bowl combine 10 grain cereal and buttermilk. Stir it well and let sit 10 minutes.
In another bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, chocolate chips and baking soda.
After 10 minutes, add 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup appplesauce to the bowl with the cereal and buttermilk. Stir until combined.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients mixture.  Stir until just combined.
Spoon into 14 muffin holders.
Bake for 20 minutes. Should be light brown on top and a toothpick should come out dry.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

SheBuysCars, the 2016 VOLT and the new Spark EV

2015 has not been the easiest of months in our house. Moving, flooding basements, boxes and more boxes. That about sums it up.

But, there was a bright light in our month.  We were invited to media day at the Washington Auto Show as guests of Chevrolet and SheBuysCars.  It was so nice to get away from the day to day nonsense, and be around adults for a few hours, while learning about some amazing new automobile innovations.
See this beauty?This is the #NextGenVolt, also known as the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. This new car was shown for the first time in January, at a few Car Shows around the country.  She is a beauty, with tons of new features that current Volt owners, like myself, will love and future Volt owners will definitely enjoy.  During our panel discussion group with the Chevrolet executives, the ones who actually designed this car, we learned all about the car that has the most satisfied owners, the Volt!  As a two time Chevrolet Volt owner (2012 and 2014) we really agree.
Pamela Fletcher, the executive chief engineer, shared with us many upgrades coming to the 2016 model, and then showed us all of these upgrades on the car itself.  Pamela explained that ONSTAR sends Chevrolet data, and they use that data to create the recipe for the new and improved Volt.  The other important piece is the owner feedback that they also collect, which helped create improvements on the new model.

I won't keep these upgrades to myself any longer. Here are the ones that are most exciting to me:

*Cabin comfort is improving.  Heated steering wheels will be available as well as heat/cooling vents for the back row.  And, optional REAR heated seats! Woohoo! No more cold or hot kids in the back.  This is HUGE.
*Each charge will be a full 50 miles. Yes!  400 miles of total range per trip when you include both your charge and your gas.
*The new Volt will take Regular gas, no more premium. As if we aren't saving enough money by going electric already!!
*It will be 25% more efficient. The LED headlights are more efficient, and so are the daytime running lights.  The place were you charge the Volt has an illuminated area, so it's easier to plug in at night.  It has an all new battery which is 20% more energy efficient and 100 pounds lighter.  There will also be a small compartment in the side wall of the trunk where the charger will be stored.

*The front console, or control panel, looks like a big Ipad on the 2016 model.  It has been simplified and made more contemporary and intuitive.  Each area has an icon, which you touch to access the various things you might need, including: climate control (automatically sets your steering wheel, heated seats, etc...), and navigation which is integrated and much easier to use.  There is also a small slot in the center console area that fits your cell phone perfectly.
*There will be an optional third seat in the back row( so the Volt will seat 5 instead of 4).  Honestly, we saw this third seat and it would not look very comfortable for an older child or adult.  There is little to no foot space, and would probably cause fighting( at least between my bigger sized children).  But, having a middle seat for emergencies or last minute play date, would be great. The last row will also still fold flat, for a ton of storage space.  I am constantly amazed at how much can be packed into the Volt trunk.  It might look small, but it holds a ton.

If I have not sold you on the 2016 Volt, or you think it might be a bit out of your price range, then I have one more surprise for you.  The only caveat here, is that you must live in Maryland to buy this new car (or California or Oregon).  This little cutie is called the SPARK EV.
Maryland will be the first East Coast state to start selling the Spark EV.  What exactly is so exciting about it?

The best feature about this Electric Vehicle is that it is under $18,000 (when you factor in the federal and state tax incentives) and gives you up to 82 miles PER CHARGE while putting out zero emissions!  It is the most efficient US retail electric vehicle available.  Also, the motor and drive unit is manufactured right here in White Marsh MD.

GM is launching the Spark in Maryland as the first East coast state.  Maryland was seen as a strong commuter state which also has a good charging infrastructure.  Maryland also has useful HOV lanes, which this car will be able to use.
This 4 passenger and 5 door Spark EV will be available in a 1LT or 2LT trim levels.  7" touch screen control panel, Onstar with available Wifi hotspot, standard remote start, and a regenerative braking system which uses the braking energy and transfers it back to the battery system.  A great warranty will make this a perfect car for anyone who has an interest in an electric vehicle, and was scared away previously by the price tag.
Here is a picture of the inside of the Spark EV. I sat in it, and it was very comfortable.  I think this would make a great car to buy for a teen driver in Maryland or an elderly one too!  In 2014, the Spark EV was ranked first by a Car and Driver comparison of electric vehicles when compared to the Nissan Leaf, Honda Fit EV, Fiat 500E, Ford Focus Electric and Smart Fortwo ED Cabriolet.

But wait, there is more!

The Spark EV is also equipped with BringGo directions.  Be confident about where you need to go, with the turn by turn directions, an Eco driving profile, 3D maps with lane suggestions, remaining distance and fuel cost.  Now, if only I could get the car to do the driving for me.

If the light blue color is not for you, the Spark EV also comes in Black Granite, Electric Blue (as pictured), Lime, Salsa (red), Silver Ice and Summit White.  The interior options are electric blue cloth, as pictured, or dark pewter leatherette with silver trim.  I'd love to have one of these sitting in my garage and sharing my charging station with my Volt. 

Any questions about either of these cars, please email me.
Thank you again to ShebuysCars and Chevrolet for an awesome day of innovation.

Stream of Consciousness Sunday

Thank you Fadra, for inspiring me to write for 5 minutes, unedited, stream of conscious style. I have a lot on my mind, and it felt good to get it all down on paper, or write it on my blog.

So we have lived in Virginia for 4 weeks now, and I have noticed a few differences from all the other places we have lived in the past.

*People drive way too fast. Speed limits on most roads are 55. Everyone takes that to mean 70-80. I prefer going about 35 and I am needing to find my inner teenager, excited to drive with speed, and step on the gas. Seriously, these drivers scare me!

*So many enormous places of worship! Whatever religion you might be, there is a giant place for you to attend services. I am not joking. While driving to a birthday party last Sunday we past 4 different houses of worship. Each had more than 1,000 cars in the parking lots, with plenty of police escorts helping members enter or exit the parking lots. I think I pass 14 houses of worship on the way to the kid's school, maybe more?

*People are very friendly! Neighbors are often just stopping by to say hi. Ringing our doorbell with snacks and welcome gifts. Asking if the kids can come outside to play. Friendly neighborhood with wine club, dinner club, BUNCO nights, and more. Such a warm welcome.

*Alcohol is EVERYWHERE! I am not a drinker, but wow if I was, this is the place to live. Almost every aisle in Target has alcohol in it. So weird to see! Grocery store has 5 aisles of just alcohol. Trader joes has 4 aisles. If you don't like the strict alcohol buying laws in your state, come move here! I wonder if there are more members of AA here??

*Oops, I have been writing for 8 minutes, time flies when you are having fun? My last observation is that there are many more open spaces, parks, and places to enjoy nature here. Things are more spread out and encourages you to exercise.  Molly sure appreciates these surroundings very much! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What a difference a fence makes!

We have lived here for 28 days and those 28 days have been, of course, quite challenging.  The worst part of this first month was that we did not have a fence.  Molly is used to having a fence and standing by the back door when she needs to go out. It is very easy to have a dog who knows when she needs to go outside.  But without a fence, that meant that Molly wanted to walk around, explore her neighborhood, and demanded to do this many times a day.  She also occasionally needed to go out at 5 am or midnight too.  This would not even be that terrible if the ground was not covered in ice and snow and the temperature was in the teens.
Lions Fence to our rescue! If you need a fence, give Richard a call.  You will thank me later.  His team built our fence in 7 hours. I thought it would take weeks. HA! 9am they started and they were done before 4 pm.  Plus, it was 15 degrees when they started in the morning. If it were warmer, I am sure it would have been done even quicker.
Here is a quick video of Molly's first run through the yard with no leash.  Such a happy girl.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Muffins

One of the first things we unpacked and got fairly organized was the kitchen.  We needed to eat and cook and of course make muffins right away.
These muffins are very healthy and super delicious.  The kids ate them all before the day was over.  We are making them again this morning, they are that good.
The key to a good muffin is good ingredients. The best ingredients I have found in my many years of baking are those from Bob's Red Mill. I used their new 100% stone ground whole wheat pastry flour in these muffins. I have never met a product from Bob's red Mill that was not delicious. We use a whole bag of steel cut oats and farro every week, sometimes in 3 or 4 days.  If you have never tried a Bob's Red Mill product, do yourself a favor and get some!

Hope you enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Muffins
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
Makes 12

1 cup Bobs Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2-3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TB chia seed combined with 1/2 cup water
6 oz of your favorite yogurt (I used fat free greek plain)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TB coconut oil
1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin pan or use papers. I like to use the silicone reusable muffin cups.  Combine the water and chia seeds in a small bowl. Let them rest so they will turn into a gel, takes about 15 minutes or so.
Add all the dry ingredients into a big bowl. Mix lightly.
Add all the wet ingredients into a bowl.  Stir in the chia gel. Combine all the ingredients together and gently mix together.  Stir in chocolate chips gently. 
Bake and enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


The past two weeks are a blur.
Huge Trucks
Cannot find what I need
Where is ______
Muscles hurting, yearning for sleep
Where do I begin??? Boxes calling from every room. Pick me! No, me. Start here.
So overwhelming!!
We moved to a new house and to say it has not been easy is really an understatement.
Moving sucks, no way around that.
But the number of things that went wrong are pretty unbelieveable.
Hopefully things will calm down soon. If not, we will continue to roll with the punches and we know the light is at the end of the tunnel, it just feels like a really looooooong tunnel right now

Here is a quick summary:
*Settlement was pushed 10 days later than we wanted it. Then it was scheduled, but a problem came up with the title, and it was pushed an additional three days.
*We wanted to be all moved in and settled before school began after winter break. Our beds and sheets were brought on a moving truck at 9:30pm on the Sunday night before school started on Monday. Close enough??
*Since our settlement was pushed, the moving company we had planned on using could not accomodate us.  So we took a recommendation from friends and the new company brought a small truck and could only fit in 1/4 of our furniture on moving day. Yay! Then a week later they brought two small trucks, got everything in, and we ended up paying 3 times more than we were quoted by our original moving company. Double YAY!
*School started Monday morning and since none of us slept well the first night in the new house, Diane burst into tears as she walked into her first grade class. What a way to make an entrance.
*Second night here, we wake up to wet carpet in the basement. The wet carpet that was 5 days old is now soaking wet.  The humdifier was leaking, well not really leaking, POURING water out of it.  Dan quickly unplugged it and fixed it, but not before it ruined most of the carpet.  Fun times!
*While washing the towels from the basement flooding, the washer stops working.  A pipe burst outside and that was the end of that appliance for that day.
*Ever seen a dishwasher without a place to put silverware? I have.  We quickly found creative ways to load the silverware. But seriously???
*What would be an awesome way to end a long day of moving? A hot shower, right? Well only one shower had any hot water.  The one in the basement.  Took a week to get all the showers going with hot water, but it was worth the wait.
*Since we were not on the school email list we had no idea that they did not follow the county for snow delays and we were late for school the third day.  But that does not seem so bad compared to the second day which included ice and snow and took us 2 hours and 35 minutes to get to school. A normal commute should take 10-15 minutes. The second day also included pushing the car up the street 8 times, and running down the highway in the storm.  Our street did not get plowed or sanded for 6 days.  But, on the bright side, a neighbor cleared our whole driveway while we were on our 2 plus hour drive to school. That was an awesome surprise!
*We are finishing our Homebound education with the MOCO teachers and then beginning to work with FCPS teachers. Let's hope that all begins on time and goes smoothly. 
*Alex has had a bloody nose and terrible headaches every single day since we moved in.  It has to get better from here right?
Are we having FUN YET?