Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good-For-You Brownies

My girls wanted brownies when they got off the bus.  Strange request but they were specific so I thought I would comply.  However, I am trying to limit their sugar intake so I set out to find a healthier recipe that still actually tasted like brownies?  Have you ever tried to make a healthier version of your favorite recipe only to have it turn out tasting nothing like the original?  I have.  Drives me nuts!  

I thought I'd share this brownie recipe with you that I got from Jillian Michaels' Master Your Metabolism Cookbook.  This is a great cookbook.  It's got lots of yummy recipes.  Here you go!

Fudge Brownies


Olive Oil Spray for the pan
2/3 cup mild honey, such as clover or orange blossom (I used Raw Honey)
1/3 cup natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Nestle Toll House)
1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8-inch square pan with olive oil.  Set aside. 

Place the honey in a large glass measuring cup.  Microwave on high power until the honey is runny and just bubbling, 45-60 seconds.  Add the cocoa and stir with a fork until well combined.  Let cool to room temperature.  

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk until well combined. 

In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla.  Whisk together until well blended.  Add the honey-cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth.  Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir until no traces of flour remain.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake until the surface looks dry around the edges of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with the moist crumbs clinging to it, about 25 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Place the pan on a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing into 16 squares.  (Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days)

My notes: 
  • 3 days?!  What?!  They lasted 3 hours in my house!
  • 16 squares?!  It's an 8x8 pan!  We got 9 brownies out of that pan. 
  • I didn't fully read the directions before I jumped in.  So, my egg was NOT room temp and I did NOT let the honey-cocoa mixture cool to room temp.  I don't have time for that so I dumped it in at the temp it was.  The brownies still turned out good but they were more of a cake consistency than a fudge brownie consistency.  If you have the time, let things get to room temp, the brownies will be more like brownies.  

I hope you enjoy these brownies.  

What are some of your favorite healthy recipes? 

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Household Planner

I am going to share with you a little bit of my slowly reviving organized side.  Pre-kids, I was a very organized woman.  Post-kids, not so much.  Lately, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the responsibilities of running a household.  In lieu of running out the back door never to return, I decided to make my own Household Planner.  

I'd seen this on a few blogs and even attempted to do it a couple of years ago but, you have to understand, I am a starter.  I get things organized and ready to go and then I never finish.  It's this thing that plaques me and I can't seem to stop it.  But, I'm hoping that I will actually use it this time.  I figure the stress of not having things organized is a good motivator.  Last time I tried this, it was simply to be organized like all the other homemakers.  Now it's personal and I want to kick homemaking in the butt.  So, off we go.  

I'm going to share a couple of photos and links (I apologize in advance for the lame pictures but I'm limited with my Kodak camera).  

Here is the cover of my book (1 1/2" 3-ring binder).  I went to the local scrapbook store and spent some time in there making something I would enjoy looking at.  It was so much fun! There are several sites (listed below) that have ready-to-print covers for the scrapbooking impaired.    

Here are the tabs I chose for my binder: 

I've included a pencil pouch with pens, pencils, and sticky notes.  It makes it easy to have everything right at your fingertips. 

My tabs are Current Week, Misc. Reference Sheets, Weekly Planner, Someday To-Do, Active To-Do, Meal Planning, Groceries, and Budget.   Depending on your needs you can add several tabs to your binder.  I was being realistic with using the ones I knew I would use.  I may add more as I go along, but for now this is it.  

Other tabs may be, Blog Ideas, Recipes, Taxes, Emergency Info, Babysitting Info, Coupons (I'm thinking about adding this one), Seasonal Cleaning, Calendar, etc.  Use your imagination!  

Here are more descriptions on the sheets I'm using in my planner: 

This is my "Weekly Planner" Page.  I got it from  What I like about this page is that I can write out my weekly to do list in the left hand column and then transfer them to the days of the week I plan to tackle the task.  I also like this because I can fill in the dates (so they'll never get outdated) and I can also write what meal I planned for that day.  Click here if you'd like a copy of this form.  

The next sheet is "Someday To Do".  I use this to list out the things I'd like to do in the near future.  I also use the "Active To Do List" for more immediate things I would like to get done in the next month or so.  I then prioritize those items and transfer them to the weekly sheet shown above.  I found these two lists at  If you'd like a copy of them, click here.  

"Recipe Planning" is my next sheet.  I created this one to meet the needs of my household.  I listed out the cookbook the recipe came from, the page number, the name of the recipe, and the list of things to purchase.  I plan to reorganize this to have the recipe listed first with the rest of the info after.  I don't know how to post this list but, here's another one that you could use.  Here's a cute way to display your menu - scroll down and you'll see the ideas.  (I personally don't display my menu because I don't want to give my youngest an opportunity to complain).   
My next page is "Grocery Shopping".  Again, I created this one but here's one you could use for yourself.  Once I fill out my Recipe Planning page, I transfer the things I need to purchase to my Grocery Shopping Page.  

My last category is "Budget".  I use this form, as well as, forms from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  Click here for some of his forms.  These help me know where I'm spending my money and helps me keep track of my expenses.  It also allows me to plan for things coming up in the near future that I have to put money aside for. 

Before I start organizing my week/month, I take one of each of these forms and put them in my "Current Week" tab.  Then I go to a quiet place (Starbucks, Panera, Barnes & Noble) and I start filling them out. This has been great for me so far.    

Here are more blogs/websites you can visit for free printable resources and to learn more about making your own Household Planner:

I hope you find these sites helpful.  I know I have.  The best part of having this notebook is that it gives me peace of mind to know that I have everything organized in one spot.  I feel like I can relax a little more knowing that the things rattling around in my brain are written down somewhere.

What are some habits you have (or are developing) to help keep you organized?  

Thanks for stopping by,



Friday, September 17, 2010

Fondue Night

Last year I was reading a book about the lives of these three sisters.  Whenever any of the sisters were having a hard time with life they would call a scrapbook night.  No matter what the other sisters were doing, they would drop it to go to the scrapbook night (usually planned a day or two in advance).  During the scrapbook night they would contemplate life, talk about what they were going through and give each other advice.  

I was sharing this idea with a friend who does not like to scrapbook. We loved the idea of being able to call a night when we were in need of some girlfriend time but, we didn't want it to be scrapbooking. So, we decided to do a fondue night.  

A couple of days ago, I received an email from one of my friends. She wrote, "I'm calling a fondue night!"  So, that is what I'm doing tonight. It's always so much fun.  It's probably more fun for those who didn't call the fondue night since they aren't the ones in need of help. But, we always end up being real and laughing a lot.    

In the spirit of fondue night, I want to share a chocolate fondue recipe with you that I got from (warning: this is not a healthy recipe but it sure is yummy!):

2/3 c. Karo light or dark corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
8 sq. (1 oz. each) semi-sweet chocolate
Assorted fresh fruit

Directions: In a medium saucepan combine corn syrup and cream. Bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Stir until completely melted. Serve warm as a dip for fruit. 
Yields: 1 1/2 cups.

We dip: strawberries, pineapple, bananas, pound cake, pretzels, and potato chips.  You can dip pretty much anything.  Some of the girls have dipped their fingers, but we're not going to talk about that.  

Another recipe that I found but have not tried yet is: 

4 blocks (4 oz.) unsweetened baking chocolate
1 c. light cream
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions: Combine chocolate and cream in medium saucepan or double boiler. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Add sugar and peanut butter; continue cooking until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into fondue pot or chafing dish; serve warm with Fondue Dippers. Yields: 2 cups.

Do you have a special "code" that you call with your girlfriends when you need a break? It could be Margarita Night! or Spa Day! or Starbucks! 

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Accountable Kids

Moms, do you sometimes feel like you are constantly on top of your kids, reminding them to pick up this or clean up that?  It seems like that is my life.  I clean one room only to have it messed up again five minutes later.  I find shoes, trash, books, toys, silly bands, you name it, I find it making a path on my floor.  All of that can make for one frustrated Mama.  And you know that terrible saying, "If Mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy."  Well, sometimes that can be a sad truth in my house.  I get burned out.  I get tired of picking up after everyone.  Sometimes, Mama's not happy.    

SOOO, Hubby and I have been trying to figure out a way to teach our children how to be responsible without nagging them to get things done.  A few years ago at a home school conference, I came across this program called Accountable Kids.  

The basic concept of the AK program, as stated on the back of their book is, "a unique parenting program designed to teach accountability and responsibility in the home.  It is a back-to-basics system which includes essential parenting principles and concrete stepping stones that strengthen relationships and build a foundation for success. Children learn to balance choices and consequences in a fun, productive manner.  They experience the joy of being a vital, contributing member of the family and develop condfidence and self-worth.  The AK book and kit provide everything parents need to maximize efforts and bring structure and harmony into the home."  

It comes with all of the things you see in this picture.   

I like this method because our kids know exactly what's expected of them.  If they don't follow through with their chores and earn their ticket, they can't watch tv, play video games, or play with friends.  They are learning the difference between necessity and privilege.  Playing video games is a privilege that is earned.  My motto is, "If your work isn't done, you can't have fun."  When they don't take care of their responsibilities, their options are very limited for what they can do. They also enjoy earning their stars that lead up to a special date of their choice.  The rewards are earned at a good pace where the kids don't get discouraged because it's taking a month to earn something.  But, it's enough time that they are developing good behaviors and patterns.   

What chore/responsibility charts have been working for you?  How do you do incentives or rewards?  

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Well, it's official.  The kids are back in school and my life is slowly becoming my own again... at least until June of 2011.  Don't get me wrong, I am in LOVE with my children, I just can't seem to juggle children, laundry, meals, cleaning, and breathing all at the same time.  I am not the parent who stands at the bus stop on the first day of school, waving goodbye to the kids while holding back tears.  I am the parent who stands at the bus stop, smiling and waving, trying to hold back my screams of joy.  When the bus pulls away I run into the house, close the door, and I dance!  I reflect on all of the possibilities this year will hold.  Does that make me a bad Mama?  I don't know.  Everyone has their own way of coping, I guess.   

It's been a while since I've posted.  This summer has been insanely busy and went by in the blink of an eye.  Is it possible for children to grow up so much over night?  It seems like we are constantly buying new clothes because they've outgrown the ones they have.  Their feet are like weeds! We can barely keep them covered.  Flip flops are our saving grace during the summer.  They can slightly outgrow them, their feet hanging over the backs a little, but they can still wear them.  I wonder if they'd mind if I sent them to school this winter in flip flops.  Hmm.

It's not only their physical bodies that are growing but their minds are growing as well.  There are these things coming out of their mouths that amaze me....some good, some not so good.  I am daily reminded of the enormous responsibility I have as a parent to teach them how to live.  It would be nice if they came with an owners manual or pre-programmed to act and think the right way.  But they don't.  So, it is up to me to mold and shape their young minds...yikes!

There are three things that help me do this: 1. God.  He created their inmost beings.  I constantly look to Him for help.  2. Friends and Family.  I couldn't do this without their support.  3. Books!  I am a book junkie.  I actually think it's an obsession.  Half of the books I own I haven't read but somehow it makes me feel better just having them there.

I am currently reading a book that I want to share with you.  I'm not done with it yet but it's been great so far.  It's called "Say Goodbye to Whining and Complaining, and Bad you and your kids!"  How's that for a title?  In a nutshell, this book is about teaching your children honor and getting to the heart of their bad behavior. Often times parents (and I've been guilty of this) look for their children to obey what they tell them to do and that's good enough.  However, there is usually a deeper heart issue attached to their behavior that often gets overlooked.  This book teaches you how to discover those heart issues and how to deal with them.  

In the back of the book there are 8 weeks of interactive family times with discussion, science-type experiments, and visual aids to help teach your kids about honor.  We've been doing this with our family and our girls love it!  I do too!  Not only do we get good family time, but we are all learning about honor.

What parenting books have you been reading that have really helped you in your journey?  Do you have a book list that you hope to get to sometime in the near future?  

Thanks for stopping by, 


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