No Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, mainly because I've been relying more and more on Ryan Barrett Walkush to cook for the family while my knee heals.

However, I did wrangle up these super-easy, no bake bars recently, and this recipe is a keeper. Hardly any ingredients, easy to put together, and a winning combination of peanut butter and chocolate!


No Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
Bars:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
3 cups pretzel crumbs
1 cup confectioners sugar
Topping:
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp peanut butter

  1. Line a 2 quart 8" X 11 1/2" with aluminum foil, leaving approximately 2 inches to overhang on each long side. Spray pan with baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix pretzel crumbs, melted butter, 1 1/2 cups peanut butter, and confectioners sugar. Spread evenly into prepared pan and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes while you prepare topping.
  3. Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and 4 Tbsp peanut butter and microwave, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth (about 1 minute).
  4. Spread evenly over the peanut butter layer and refrigerate at least one hour.
  5. Use aluminum foil flaps to remove from pan. Cut into squares. Refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.



Notes:
To create pretzel crumbs, whirl pretzels in a food processor and then measure out 3 cups of crumbs.

Approximately 3/4 of a 16 oz bag of pretzels created 3 cups of pretzel crumbs.

If you are particularly fond of the peanut butter/chocolate combination, check out these other Harris Sisters' Recipes:



My Week in Pictures: April 25, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

So here we are.  Another Friday, another "My Week in Pictures" post.   It seems like these Fridays sure are rolling around faster these days.  These past few weeks have just been flying by!  Nonetheless, here we go...

As you know, this week started with Easter Sunday.   I bought these beautiful hydrangeas at the supermarket the day before Easter, and snapped this photo that night.  Thank goodness I did, because they held up for approximately one day.  Bummer.  They sure were pretty at the time.  


We also made this lovely coconut cake for Easter, and it sure was de-li-cious!!  There is just something about coconut at Eastertime that just seems right.  I will drum up the recipe and share it on the blog in the next few days.  It is definitely worth a try!


Speaking of Easter, this is what I wore.  It's not a maternity dress- just a flowy style that I tend to gravitate toward anyway.  So thankfully, I'm able to wear it now at the end of my pregnancy, and also later after Peanut makes her arrival, which, by the way, won't be long now.   At this week's doctor's appointment, my doc has suggested that she may schedule us for delivery as early as next week, depending on how things are looking next week.  Wow!  This is it!  One way or the other, little Peanut will be here before we know it!


So in preparation for Peanut's impending arrival, we have now officially installed the car seat this week.  Every time I hop in the car now, I look back there and think she's gonna be riding along within a week or so.  I can still hardly believe it!


And I must mention that as I near the end of this pregnancy, I have been so fortunate to have felt good for so long.  It has literally been so easy, I feel sure we will end up with an extra fussy baby just to balance the universe back out.  It has been extremely easy- until NOW.  I actually threw my back out working in the yard recently, and out of sheer desperation to feel better and walk somewhat normally again, I visited a chiropractor this week for the first time in my life.  I must admit that it did help a little.  I'm going back again for a few visits before Peanut arrives to try to spur the healing process along.  In any case, I was sure the doc would scold me about my choice of footwear.  But instead, she complimented me on my shoes.  Hmmm, I think I like this lady already!

  
In other news, whenever I cannot find my pup I pretty much figure she's up to something.  See below for this week's naughtiness caught in the act.  John smoked ribs on the smoker last weekend, and the residual smells were apparently too much for our pup to handle.  We found her outside sitting *on* the smoker the next morning.  Oh Izzie Lu, you'd better be glad you are so stinkin' cute.  


And for anyone who knows my husband, you will already know that this man has been a fan of powdered sugar doughnuts for ages- but not just any powdered sugar doughnuts.  It has to be Hostess.  Now, when Hostess went bankrupt last year, you've never heard such bellyaching from a grown man.  Thank heavens they came back.  But what I never realized was the shelf life on those products.  Just this week at the grocery, I saw this.  These doughnuts are guaranteed fresh until June of this year.  It's only April!!  What in the world?!?


So that's it for this week.  I am realizing that this could very possibly be our last weekend just the two of us before Peanut arrives, so of course, we are making plans to fill it up.  We will be visiting the Nashville Flea Market this weekend as well as the Downtown Festival that is happening here in Franklin.  And if there's time, we may even slip in a movie.  Never a dull moment around here.  I hope your week was a good one, and your weekend ahead is looking fun!  Enjoy!!

My Two Cents on Homeschool Curriculum: Bible Roadtrip

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It is that time of year again.  We are nearing the end of our school year.  EOGs have been taken and my curriculum choices for this year have been fleshed out and made to work, but some have decidedly not made the cut for next year.  I thought that it would be a good time to share how we did with some of my choices as well as how we did with some pleasant surprises.

First stop, one very pleasant surprise, Bible Roadtrip!  Halfway through the year, as I was just figuring out what was working and what was not, I came across Bible Roadtrip on Pinterest.  It is a daily study, organized by week, that takes three years to complete, and it is very well thought out.

This is the link for the first year

I pinned this link, so that I could easily retrieve it.  When you visit this page, you will find it organized by week.  You have a link to an outline for that week with reading, review questions, activities, and bonus corresponding resources.  Then, you also have a weeks worth of notebooking pages.  All of these are organized by grade level, so you can choose which one you need to print out for your child's age level.

One of the first activities we did was to make a chart to record our roadtrip.  With a poster board, a paper bag and some scrapbook paper, we are cataloging the books that we have read in our bible library:


I like unit studies or basically, anything that kills two birds with one stone.  We also like making posters as you may remember from this post, so we took up the early challenge to make a Days of Creation poster:


So mostly, so far, this resource is free.  I was so happy with how comprehensive this study was on its own, I began to order the additional recommended resources.  They are different per grade level, but here is what you can expect.



The creator of Veggietales also created "What's in the Bible? with Buck Denver."  These are a little pricey.  I only ordered volume one at first, so you can probably tell my two cents on this one.  I don't usually like muppets at all, but even I liked these.  They are very informational, and both my twelve year old and my three year old enjoy them.  You can also rent them on Amazon, but I thought that the better deal was actually to buy them because I could tell that we would watch them again and again--and we have.  



When we were nearing the end of our Days of Creation poster, I realized that in the upcoming weeks the Tabernacle would be a good art focus, but it seemed very overwhelming.  Though we have not started a model Tabernacle yet, this book seems to really break it down and even comes with some pages to make a paper model.  However, it is probably for a younger age group than my 6th grader who is about to graduate to the next level in Bible Roadtrip.



These are somewhat interchangeable.  I would only buy one and probably the maps, charts, etc.  At first, I tried to photocopy the pages, but I couldn't get a good copy.  The pages are actually perforated, though, so you can take them out of the book, which is what I ended up doing.  For each week of reading, there is a synopsis.  In What the Bible is All About: for Young Explorers, there are illustrations almost like a comic strip to tell you what happens, which may be why I prefer the other. (Comic strips aren't my favorite.)  Reproducible Maps, Charts, Timelines & Illustrations has (as you can imagine) maps that I think are pretty helpful and charts, in addition to the synopsis.  For example, one chart outlines Jacob's wives and the children he had by each, including the two sons he adopted from Joseph that would become the twelve tribes of Israel.  These are great, great resources, but you really only need one.  In fact, the pictures look alarmingly similar and I think they are put out by the same people.



Window on the World is where Bible Roadtrip takes another side excursion (unit study) to geography. One of my big realizations this year has been how little geography is taught in public schools.  In trying to get Charlotte up to speed, this has been really helpful.  There is a different focus every week. You learn about a different culture through a personal story, facts about the region, and the predominant religion there, and it gives you suggestions on how you can pray for the different people groups there.  There is a specific notebook page that corresponds with this book throughout all the grade levels, but if you did not want to bring this in to your study, you could just omit that one notebook page.



Lastly, there are a number of historical fiction titles that are recommended reading.  I look forward to reading this one with Charlotte.  It is the story of the exodus told through the eyes of a preteen.  I thought how perfect this will be for getting us thinking about what it was like.  I guess I will just have to let you know...

Bible Roadtrip was hands down my success story from this school year.  In the coming weeks, I will review some of the other curriculum we used that passed and some that failed.


This post contains affiliate links.

What Flavor was Green Kool-Aid Anyway?

It seems like John and I have been walking down memory lane a lot here lately.  And one of the things we recently debated over was Kool-Aid. 

We were definitely Kool-Aid kids.  There is no denying that.  Although, it seems to have faded from favor over the years, you can still find it in stores.  But when we were growing up, it was the drink of choice.  And we all had our favorite flavors.  By far, my favorite was tropical punch, but we drank them all.  When I asked John what his favorite flavor was, he said "green".  Hmmm, that's funny.  I never knew "green" was a flavor.  Although, thinking back, that's what we called it too.  It was just "green" Kool-Aid.  I'm not sure I ever really knew what flavor it was supposed to be.  When I pointed this out to John, he quickly told me the flavor was lime.  But when checking this factoid, it turns out the flavor is actually lemon lime.  Huh, you learn something every day!!


Another fun factoid was how we Harris Sisters used to make our Kool-Aid.  Per the package instructions, you were supposed to add one cup of sugar to the Kool-Aid packet and then add water to fill your pitcher.  That might have worked fine for all the rest of you Kool-Aid kids out there, but no, not us.  Our mom always said that it wasn't sweet enough with just one cup of sugar, so we added 2 cups of sugar to each batch of Kool-Aid.  And we went through that stuff like it was water.  It's a wonder we don't all have sugar diabetes!!  By the way, this is a point of contention for my husband.  Ever since I told him about our Kool-Aid "recipe" he has never let me hear the end of it.  

As an aside, today's Kool-Aid packets actually suggest substituting Splenda for sugar.  The times- they are a'changing.  But there sure is nothing like that sugary sweet syrup from our childhood.  Makes me almost want to stir up a big old batch of  "green" Kool-Aid.  *Almost*.  

Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

With graduation time soon to be upon us, it dawned on me that the lyrics to the now "retro" and "old-school" Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen are just as meaningful today as they were when the song was originally released . . . in the 1990's.


As a refresher for those of you who are struggling to recall this gem, the Sunscreen Song as it came to be known was concocted by Baz Luhrmann and features the text of an essay written by Mary Schmich. That same text is often erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. (Just ask Ryan Barrett Walkush who wrote the lyrics to the Sunscreen Song!)


So, if you have an soon to be graduate in your life, perhaps you should consider hooking him or her up with this advice straight 1990's style or maybe even dust off the YouTube video (linked below). It's still solid advice today (just look at all the Harris Sisters posts I was able to link to the lyrics!):

Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99:

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be 
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by 
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable 
than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind; you will not 
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. 
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and 
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before 
you and how fabulous you really looked….You are not as fat as you 
imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as 
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing 
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that 
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm 
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with 
people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes 
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with 
yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive; forget the insults. If you 
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your 
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they 
wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40-year-olds
I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.


you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky 
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…whatever you do, don’t 
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your 
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. 

Enjoy your body; use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people 
think of it; it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the 
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you 
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and 
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you 
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live 
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will 
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize 
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were 
noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, 
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one 
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will 
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who 
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of 
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the 
ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen…
♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪



One Man's Trash - Vintage Child's Howdy Doody Rocking Chair

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I am so excited to share this edition of One Man's Trash with you!  We were out yardsaling just the other weekend when we found this delightful little Howdy Doody rocking chair.  I saw it and pulled my husband aside immediately to tell him we had to have it, no matter what the price.  

Of course, he never pays the asking price for anything, but in this case I would have paid double or even triple.  I LOVED this rocking chair from the moment I saw it, but that's why I don't do the negotiating.  I show my hand way too easily.  John, on the other hand, points out all the flaws in whatever it is he is trying to purchase and uses that to his advantage when haggling out a deal.   In this case, they marked this chair for $20, but we ended up scoring it for only $10.  I can still hardly believe it!!



This little chair is obviously vintage, and in "well-loved" condition, shall we say.  It does have a split in the wooden seat, and the decal is worn in places.  As for the split in the wood, hubbie can fix that part pretty easily.  Thank goodness he is so handy!  But the decal being worn is actually preferable to me.  I rather like it when vintage items look their age.  If they look too perfect, then it always makes me think they are reproductions rather than the real deal.    



As an added bonus, this rocker plays music as it moves back and forth and that part still functions.   You can see the little music-making apparatus on the chair's rocker below.


And it doesn't get much better than Howdy Doody.  He is a children's classic icon, albeit a little before my time, but I am familiar with this redheaded little character nonetheless.  He has always reminded me a little of my hubbie (in the best possible way) because he is also a freckled carrot top.  Aaahhhh, score another one for the home team.  I think we knocked this one out the park!

Linking to My Salvaged Treasures Vintage Inspiration Linky Party

Quick and Easy Easter Decorating Tips

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's a cold and rainy Saturday here today and we're all prepped and ready for Easter tomorrow. 


Of course, nobody wants to step foot outside of the house today unless they ABSOLUTELY have to since the weather is so icky. So, I thought I'd share these last minute Easter tips should you need help with any last minute Easter prep.

******************************

The first tip is for creating your own Easter grass. I have two baskets that I use to display eggs, but I had no Easter grass for them. So, I set to work with this simple tip.

First pick out as many paper grocery bags as you have baskets to fill with Easter grass (you'll need at least one large grocery bag per basket):


Open each grocery bag along the back and bottom seams to form one long strip of paper. Then tear this strip of paper into smaller strips that will fit into your home office paper shredder. Feed the smaller strips through the paper shredder one at a time:


Here are a few photos of the paper bag Easter grass "in action" in the two baskets that I needed it for:




Notes: 

If your shredder is a cross cut shredder and you have the option to turn that off, please do that to avoid multiple small pieces of Easter grass. Otherwise, this is still a viable option if your basket has a solid bottom.

If you prefer colored Easter grass instead of neutral, switch to colored paper instead of grocery bags. Flyers are routinely sent home from school almost daily on colored paper. Save those flyers for the month prior to Easter and you'll be up to your eyeballs in colorful Easter grass!

******************************

The second tip is for egg cups. Have more eggs to display than you have egg cups? Or do your fancy egg cups only hold a certain number of eggs (and NOT the number of eggs you have to display)? 

That second scenario was our dilemma this year. Inevitably we end up with a few eggs that are oddly colored. This year we had a few browns and a black. :-/

So, I pulled out my super-schmancy Elvis shot glasses to display the beautifully colored eggs. Here they are among the other Easter decor:


About the same size as my vintage Lefton rabbits:






The shot glasses turned out to be the perfect size to hold large size Easter eggs. 

Note:
These shot glasses happen to have Easter colors featured prominently, but if your shot glasses don't have Easter colors, consider turning the front design to the back so that only the egg is featured in a clear glass.

Hope you guys have a Happy Easter!

My Week in Pictures: April 18, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's that time once again.  Another Friday, another "My Week in Pictures", so here we go...

This week started with some gorgeous spring weather here in the south, so we took the opportunity to get some work done in the yard, starting with these "champagne bubbles".  I haven't heard of them before, and have no idea how they will do for us.  But frankly, I liked the name, so now they are ours.  :)


In addition, I also scored a bush I have been hunting for a while.  When we were little, there was a humongous snowball bush by our house, and I always loved it.  I finally found one, and I know exactly where it's going in the yard- covering an ugly pipe on the side of the house.  Killing two birds with one stone here.  They are also known to grow big and fast, so I'm excited to see how it will do. 


John spent most of the weekend working on installing these outdoor fans for our pergola.  He got it all done, thank goodness.  These are sure to come in handy this summer!



Of course, little Izzie spent all weekend outside with us "helping".  Everytime we came back inside the kitchen, she immediately assumed this position - cooling her underpinnings on the kitchen floor.  So precious. 


So at the end of this past weekend, we decided to grill out and start a backyard fire and just enjoy taking in all our hard work.  Here's our main fire starter hard at work. 


And here's a look at his handiwork.  That man sure does know how to build a blazing inferno. Incidentally, we also made s'mores on the fire much later, and used coconut marshmallows.  My, oh, my.  They were the best s'mores we've ever made.  


Oh, I almost forgot...  We did manage hit a few rummage sales too, and I got this super cute apron for a dollar.  Big spender, here.  In any case, we also happened to score a couple of other awesome vintage pieces for Peanut, but I will save that for our One Man's Trash column.   So be on the lookout for more to come on that. 


As you know, the dreaded Tax Day also occurred this week.  I assisted by practicing my professional signature and playing games with the calculator.  John said I was about as much help as a two-year old, which I will take as a compliment since I'm usually far less help than that.  :)


In other news, I realized that a few of Peanut's outfits do not have diaper covers for them, which we simply cannot have.  I mean, little Peanut can't just go around showing off her knickers, now can she? So I found these lovelies on Etsy.  I think that should do the trick. 


And look at the name of the seller.  It was surely meant to be....


We made homemade fajitas one night this week, using Pioneer Woman's recipe.  They were pretty awesome, if you are interested in testing out her recipe too. 


So then last night I met John out for dinner.  We tried a new place that I can't quite recommend, but the milkshakes were amazing.  I guess that was worth the trip, but the dinner wasn't that great.  And thanks to a snafu in the kitchen, they ended up giving us these shakes for free.  Can't beat that!


We wrapped up dinner and headed on over to our Infant CPR class last night.  It was relatively easy to learn.  We had an awesome instructor, and I highly recommend this type of training.  It is just a good thing to know, even if you never use it.  And hopefully, you never will!


So one more thing is checked off the list as we prepare for Peanut's arrival.  Speaking of Peanut, we are now into week 38.  That's week 38 of 40!!  The end is drawing near.  As a matter of fact, I wore this same top last year over Easter weekend.  Hmmm, somehow it fit a little differently then.  Ha!


So that's all for now, folks.  Here we are at Easter weekend.  We have a beautiful weekend ahead and some family coming in to help us celebrate and enjoy Easter Sunday.  I hope you enjoy yours too!!