healthy flourless brownie bites

Ethan and I baked today, on a whim. He wanted to make brownies. I had a zucchini to use up. We compromised.

Behold, these super yummy (and healthy) flourless brownie bites!

They contain no flour or gluten or added refined sugar. They're still chocolate-y and delicious and healthy which makes them a perfect special-treat addition to both Ethan's lunch and my (Celiac) husband's lunch. I probably wouldn't say no if he asked for one for breakfast or as a midday snack, so Ethan has that going for him.

Here is how we made them:

1c all-natural peanut butter
1/2c honey
1/4c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp chia or flax seed (ground)
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 banana
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 zucchini, peeled

The directions are pretty simple: throw it all into your blender or food processor.

We tossed everything into our Blendtec and pulsed until smooth.

Once your batter is smooth, take your mini muffin tins (lightly greased) and pour in the batter, 3/4 way full.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Let cool and then pop out.

This recipe made 40 brownie bites in our mini muffin tins.


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diy (on a budget) schoolwork gallery wall

Ethan makes a lot of art on a regular basis. Between his artwork and his homeschool projects, I sticky-tack a lot of stuff on our walls. In turn, my husband walks around having a conniption fit because the sticky-tack peels the paint off and apparently he doesn't find patching up all the spots a good time, or something. (He's the neat, tidy one in this relationship.) In all seriousness, the mish-mosh of construction paper taped up all around our house ("mommy, look what I made! Hang it up!") is sloppy at best and doesn't give our house that cozy, lived in feel that I've so badly been craving...despite the fact we've been here 8 years and I've still never bothered to really decorate or hang things on the walls. (Oops!) Eight years later, my goal is to get each room in our home up to speed with decoration and that perfect level of cozy.

I have a filing cabinet where I can stash away Ethan's special school projects and art pieces after they've retired from wall-hanging status, but I really needed to work on my display set up. I knew that I wanted Ethan's schoolwork separate from his art pieces. I also knew that I didn't want to invest a ton of money into anything. Behold, my DIY-on-a-budget schoolwork gallery wall!

In our dining room, between the two glass block windows at the end of our table, sat a very empty wall. It seemed like the perfect place to display all of Ethan's schoolwork that we do in tot school and our homeschool co-op. (And eventually in preschool and beyond, though I'm not ready to face that right now, okay? Okay.)

The curtain rods were each $4-and-change from Wal-Mart. The clip rings themselves were my spendy item at $4 per pack at Wal-Mart, though I'm sure you could find them cheaper online with more sleuthing (impulse crafting is how I roll). The frames were $1 and $3 also at Wal-Mart and the pencil I created out of a ruler that cost $0.20.

The pencil "tip" was simply cut from felt with the led colored in with Sharpie.

For my printouts, one was a free printable and the other I threw together quickly and printed out -- both on regular computer paper from my home printer. Can't get much easier than that.

I love that I now have this special wall to hang up Ethan's schoolwork and that it can grow with him as school goes on. But again, I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

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sorry not sorry. literally.

For the past few months, my husband and I have been trying to break Ethan of the habit of apologizing for everything. "Can I have more water, mommy? I'm sorry." "Can I have some more strawberries? I'm sorry." At this point, he can finish my sentence: "Ethan, please stop --" "Apologizing for everything? I'm sorry." It has been driving me crazy and I haven't been able to understand where he picked up this habit.

Until the grocery store, last week.

"Is it possible to please have this loaf of bread sliced?" I had asked the bakery employee. "I'm so sorry," I said as I handed the loaf over the counter. "Mommy? Was that unkind of you to ask for the bread to be sliced?" Instant kick in the ass. From that moment on, I began to notice that I am apologizing for everything -- for my feelings, for my bread slicing preferences, for everything -- and my sponge of a four year old is absorbing it all. And, consequently, doing it, too.

I made a promise to myself to stop apologizing for everything and to let Ethan see that his mother has a backbone.

Of course, I had to find it first.

Today is Day 6 where I've stood up for myself when needed and haven't apologized for requesting a little more milk in my coffee or asking a store employee if they have any more size 8 shoes in the back. I have spent all four and a half years of Ethan's life trying to encourage him to be proud of himself and then wondering why he lets people take advantage of him on the playground. Mom guilt is the real deal, guys.

Sometimes confrontation makes things feel messy and so I avoid it like it was a child with a wet, barking cough at the museum (sorry -- that one is more my idea of a nightmare than the plague, so I changed the old adage). But sometimes you should also say what you're feeling if it's honest and true and needs to be said. And, you know, you don't always have to chase your feelings with an apology.

I think this is just another instance where I'm supposed to be Ethan's teacher and, yet, it is he who teaches me lessons I should have learned a long time ago.

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valentine's day cards for kids by kids

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday! Spare me the whining about Hallmark holidays and commercialization and pass the chocolate and glitter and let's get to crafting. Having kids on Valentine's Day makes it even more fun because, unlike myself growing up, Ethan actually has friends and we get to make Valentine's to hand out around town. (I have a real fear about my child asking me for store-bought, boxed V-Day cards one day so I'm milking this joint crafting thing as long as he will let me.)

This year, we snapped a quick picture:

LOVE tee by The Blue Envelope

From there, we added a little text and printed four images per page, each sized to 3x5 and printed onto cardstock. Ethan helped cut the cards out and then we got to work attaching the little chocolate hearts.

Okay, we may have eaten a few. But we had enough left to finish this project, which means it was a success all around.

Totally cute, right?! Valentine's Day Pinterest-mania, here we come.

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how would you change the world? a watercolor project for kids

Lately, at four and a half, Ethan is really into asking these big, philosophical questions. Sometimes I'm not ready for them. Especially at 3 a.m. when he wanders into my room wondering about the Trojan War, or inquiring if we can work together to end homelessness. Mostly, though, I'm captivated by this age and the wonder and intellect that his little brain can conjure up at any given moment. There has been such a burst between four and four and a half and I am loving just talking to him. (Which is good, because he never actually shuts up.)

Anyway, we made this watercolor world project. As we worked (which took two days due to the time our world took to dry), Ethan had time to ponder the question: how would you change the world? Given his usual oddly mature level of insight, I was interested to hear what he had to say. His actual response, of course, had me cracking up:

Kids. They say the darndest (and truest) things.

Here's a little more detail into this fun little craft, which looks absolutely gorgeous when hanging on the wall -- especially near a window.

You'll need:
- White paper cut into a circular shape
- Construction paper
- Salt
- White glue
- Liquid watercolors
- Dropper

First things first: get your liquid watercolors ready. Blue and green, of course.

Next, trace your child's hand onto construction paper (and cut out).

Once the traced handprint is cut out, glue it onto the round, white sheet of paper. Even though the watercolors will soak through, the paper will lap it up enough to keep the handprint a lighter shade of blue and green than the rest of the world.

Using droppers is always fun, so Ethan had a blast. He just kept dropping sploshes of green and blue until the little round Earth was completely soaked through. (It needed to dry overnight.)

Once the Earth was dry, peel off the traced handprint. Using white glue, outline the handprint and then drop salt along the glue. (Ethan had fun with this. Some of the salt got elsewhere. Things are more fun when they aren't perfect, right?)

My favorite part, of course, is gluing on the world and finally getting to hear the answer to the "how would you change the world?" question. This one was a beautiful addition to our dining room wall -- and it sparkles so beautifully when the sun hits it.

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