We are on snow day #2.  The pace is a bit slower around here as the excitement of the fresh snow is wearing off and the temperature is too cold for playing outside.  Our morning has been filled by being crafty with construction paper, glitter and glue sticks.

It’s also been a good morning for baking.  First up was some homemade granola.  The house was filled with the warm smell of cinnamon as a batch toasted in the oven.  This granola recipe has become a bit of a staple around our house and I almost always have a container in the pantry.  We put it on fresh fruit, yogurt, oatmeal or just eat it by the handful for a quick snack.  I’ve found the key to making good granola is to make sure you bake it long enough.  If you don’t it’s rubbery…and no one likes rubbery granola.

We gave this as a gift to friends and teachers this year at Christmas.  Since then I’ve gotten quite a few requests for the recipe so I thought this would be a good place to share it.  It’s been adapted from a granola recipe in The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.  I made just a few changes to better fit the likes of the people in our house.  Feel free to do the same…

Granola Recipe

6 cups old fashion oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup wheat germ

1/2 shredded coconut

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 cup chopped nuts or dried fruit (or half of each)

1/4 cup safflower or vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or maple syrup for a slightly sweeter version)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread oats on a rimmed baking pan, and bake for 10 minutes.  Transfer the oats to a large mixing bowl, and add the sugar, wheat germ, coconut, seeds and nuts or dried fruit.  Stir to mix well, then add the oil, syrup and vanilla extract.  Mix until everything is moistened.

Spread half of the mixture on each of 2 rimmed baking sheets (or bake in 2 batches), and bake for 10 minutes.  Stir after 5 minutes to brown evenly.  If your granola doesn’t seem fully toasted add more time at 5 minute increments.

Let the granola cool completely on the pans, then transfer it to a bowl and stir until crumbly.  Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Alison

We finally had our first snow day of the season.  Last night the boys sat in front of the TV eagerly anticipating the cancellation of school.  Much to their dismay that didn’t happen til after they were in bed.  When they woke up this morning to the good news that school was cancelled they were thrilled.  The planning of their snow day activities quickly commenced.  Sledding and scooping the driveway were high on their lists.  Their high plans for the driveway lasted less than 10 minutes, but sledding lasted just about all day.

It was a perfect kind of snow.  Soft, light and great for sledding.  Ben, Samuel and I headed down to the school, sleds in hand to hit the hills.  I took a few snaps of the action, then put the camera away and joined the fun.  I’m not sure how many times we raced down those hills this afternoon, cold wind and snow brushing past our cheeks, huge smiles on our faces.  As our sleds came to rest at the bottom we would lie there laughing, covered in snow, congratulating the winner of our downhill race.

Sadly, Henry couldn’t come along.  He is a bit under the weather. With a birthday on Wednesday we are wanting him to get well soon.  Turning 5 is a big deal.  His brothers are full of whispers and secret plans of how they are going to make sure this birthday is a good one.

For now the boys are tucked in their beds, worn out from a day of fresh air (and recuperating for Henry).  I’m not sure how many times they asked if we thought they would have school tomorrow.  Not sure the odds are with them, but we shall see.  Either way, it was a pretty good snow day.

Alison

This morning I spoke at a MOPs meeting about how to take better pictures.  Funny, it seems lately I’ve been working a lot on that myself.  How to make a better composition, find better light, be more present in our everyday and document it.  I was excited to talk about something I love so much, but not excited about getting up in front of a room full of people to speak.  It’s just really not my thing.  Never really has been.  This time though, was a little different.

At the beginning of each year as everyone is setting resolutions I have found myself instead setting goals.  I’m not a resolution person, I’ve tried.  I always fall short and end up frustrated.  What I’ve learned is that I am a slow work in progress.  Setting goals seems, for me, to be a better method to chip away at becoming the person I want to become.  I don’t write them down or anything official.  I just make them in my head, say a prayer for guidance and set off on my way.

So, this year one of my goals was to push myself to get a bit out of my comfort zone.  To do a few things I dread (like speaking in front of a large group) so that just maybe I might grow a little and learn a bit along the way.

As I was standing up there this morning so nervous, these thoughts ran through my head,  “Here you are. This is what you came up with as a resolution, this is what you prayed about and here you are.  Just do it.”  And you know what?  I did.  And it wasn’t so bad.  After the initial shock of being handed the microphone (yikes! a microphone?) and swallowing the lump in my throat I was ok.  I might go so far as to say it was even a little fun.

There’s a lot of 2011 left.  In just the first 2 weeks I have started a personal blog and spoke in front of a large group.  It’s a good start for a girl that has been pretty comfortable in her own little box.  Stepping out hasn’t been too bad.  Not too bad at all…

alison

From the last two days of Picture Winter…

Picture Winter Day 6: Cracked Open

“let’s celebrate the cracks today and capture them in photos”  -Tracey Clark

Picture Winter Day 7: Quiet Beauty

We were supposed to capture winter’s beauty outside today.  Well, if you live here (Nebraska) you know that 40 mph winds and cold doesn’t offer up much beauty.  So I looked to my house instead.  This is a picture from our kitchen.  It is the hub of activity in our home, except in the afternoon.  With the big boys at school and the little one napping it is quiet.  The light coming in the back door, from the gray winter sky, was beautiful.

Have a good weekend!

All pictures taken (with help from Henry) with iPhone using Shake It app.

So this was our Wednesday.  Two grocery store trips.  Henry took a nap.  I worked on business stuff.  Running kids here and there.  I was thinking this evening how simple our day was, how innocent.  Our simple everyday seems that much more so after the tragedy at Millard South this afternoon.  I know sometimes it can seem boring, these routine days, but oh how thankful I am feeling for them tonight.

alison

Day 4 Picture Winter

Today we were to find a little sunshine in the world around us…and not necessarily the kind that shines in the sky.  With winter, at times, being a gray and gloomy season we were encouraged to look to our surroundings for signs of sunshine and the colors we associate with it.

I had a few ideas, but it wasn’t til I was going through some art supplies that I stumbled upon a bit of sunshine hidden in my dark storeroom.

These are acrylic paints given to me by my mom a few years ago.  I used to love to paint with them, but with the busy-ness of life they don’t get used as often as they used to.

One of things I love most about these photography assignments is that it makes me look at things differently.  Not just looking for something to fulfill the assignment, but really looking at all I see.  When I do find something, I want to photograph it from several different perspectives, look at it from all sides, see the way the light hits it at different angles.  I’m always surprised at what can happen when I look just a little longer and just a little closer.

alison

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