Garanimals Blog

August 29th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Muffin Recipes

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Breakfast is one of my nemesis’. The boys get bored with the same thing, so I try to mix it up as much as I can. This muffin mix allows you to use one mix and change it up with different ingredients to make different types of muffins. These also freeze wonderfully!

Plain Muffin Mix

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Cupcake wrappers, vegetable cooking spray or butter for greasing tins.

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in  yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients, until incorporated.

Spray 12-cup muffin tin or put wrappers in it.  Spoon batter into tins and bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve. They freeze wonderfully!

Different kinds:

Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts or blueberries to main mix or follow some of the variations below.

Raspberry Almond Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons almond extract with butter and sugar. Spoon one-half of a portion of batter into each cup. With small spoon, make a well in center of each cup of dough. Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry (or other flavored) jam into each well. Cover with remaining batter.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds to the dry ingredients, and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest to the butter-sugar mixture. While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 small lemons in small saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3-4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve.

Banana Walnut Muffins
Follow the main recipe adding 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg to dry ingredients, substituting 1 cup packed light brown sugar for granulated sugar and folding 1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas (about 3 small) and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts into finished batter.

What’s your favorite kind of muffin?

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August 26th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Meal Planning

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“So…what’s for dinner?”

This doesn’t have to be a nightly question that you scratch your head over. Having a menu planned out means you never have to wonder, and you’ll save time and money!

Setting a plan for 1 week, 2 weeks, or even 1 month can:

  • Eliminate those pesky multiple trips to the grocery store every week.
  • Make use of what is on sale at your local stores, saving you money.
  • Cut back on wasted food
–cut back on eating out, take out, pizza delivery, etc.
  • The ability to buy in bulk from planning ahead can save you money as well.

How Do I Start?


First, consider how much storage space you have. Planning a menu for an entire month may not be possible if you don’t have a place to stash all of the ingredients you’ll need. Make an estimate of what your storage areas can accommodate.

Start small. Try planning for a few days at a time, then work your way up.

 Think about how and what your family eats, i.e. When a recipe says “serves 4,” does it really serve 4 in your family?
 Do you eat leftovers for dinner, or is this not an option?
 Does your family like to eat bread with every dinner? Is dessert a nightly occurrence? If so, will you have to make dessert nightly or can a pan of brownies last 2-3 nights?

A “Master Plan” may be a good starting point:
Sunday = Beef
Monday = Chicken
Tuesday = Leftovers
Wednesday = Pasta
Thursday = Vegetarian
Friday = Fish
Saturday = Mexican

Or, have a themed night every night (Italian night, Mexican night, Asian night, etc.).

To make things easier, keep a list of “family favorites” to rotate into your menu plan…customizing the plan to your family will help make it work for you.

When you’ve created a base for your meal planning, decide on the actual recipes/meals you want to make each night. Check the recipes against your existing items to avoid buying ingredients you already have on hand. Create the shopping list and head to the supermarket for an efficient trip!

What is your favorite menu planning resource?

 

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August 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Creating A Bucket List

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There are so many things I want to do, places I want to see, and experiences I want to have in my lifetime. This is a mental bucket list…but it’s time to put it to paper. Then I have a constant reminder of my dreams.

First, I found a journal I loved. Find a journal or pad of paper that feels special to you. Something you can’t wait to pick up and look through. Then you just need to go for it…..DREAM! Write all kinds of things you would like to accomplish, see, and do. I set a goal of 100 items to begin with. That might be somewhat ambitious, but it really gets you to delve into things you have always wanted to do.

When I first started my bucket list I took a couple of hours to myself and just wrote down everything I could think of. Escape to a corner of your house, a coffee shop, or a favorite area in your town. Go somewhere that may inspire you. When I was a working mom we were constantly asked to create BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. With your bucket list, don’t feel like any item is too big, because you really never know.

Be sure to add to this list as you go through life whether it be yearly, monthly, or every couple of years. It is fun to look back and see things that you have accomplished on it, or things that you may have forgotten were on the list.

Have fun and DREAM BIG!

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August 18th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Online Recipe Storage & Organization

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I am a recipe hoarder. I have cookbooks, printed recipes, written recipes, and tons of bookmarked recipes stored in so many places on the Internet and on my computer.  I am in the process of trying to consolidate all these recipes in two places…on paper and online. My tried and true recipes that I make regularly are stored in a binder. These are printed and slipped in plastic sheet covers so they are easy to refer to and don’t get messy while i’m cooking.

Everything else is stored online. I also store my tried and true online so I can refer to them when out and about. Sometimes when you are grocery shopping you decide you really need to make that one favorite recipe for dinner. Here are a couple of ways you can organize your recipes online for safekeeping.

Evernote

I am currently making my household as paperless as I can with Evernote, and a desktop scanner. I bookmark my online recipes to Evernote, and scan my paper recipes and save them to the app as well. I love that i’m able to add tags so the recipes are easily searchable, and if I save my scanned documents right, the handwriting or typing becomes searchable too. I use the app Evernote Food on my phone and iPad to help search for the perfect recipes and view them when i’m on-the-go.

Paprika

This app can be used on mobile or desktop and is strictly for recipes. There is a nice built-in browser which helps you import recipes easily. One of the best parts is the grocery list, which adds up all your recipes and make a list from all the ingredients you need.

Pinterest

This is a great way to access recipes through imagery. Make different boards for food categories and save each recipe link cataloged there by picture and description. You can even add your own descriptions.

Online Storage Service (Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive)

Save each recipe as a file and organize by folders. This is a great way to access recipes from many different locations.

How do you organize your recipes?

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August 15th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Planning A Staycation

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A great way to save on vacations all year long is going on a “staycation.” A staycation is when you stay in your own town or somewhere closeby to have your family vacation. This cuts costs by eliminating the need for expensive airline tickets and hotel stays. Plus, you get to sleep in your own, comfortable bed! Staycations can also be quick overnights that don’t require extensive stays at a hotel or resort.

Visit local museums

Try Geocaching

Go to the movies or a play

Visit a nearby zoo, aquarium, or amusement park

Rent a boat or other water sports items

Take a hike or bike ride

Go fishing

Go to a sporting event

Go camping

Go mini golfing, go karting or other fun things you would do on vacation

Eat out and try some new places

The most important part is to RELAX just like you are on vacation. Let chores go for the week, put away the computer, and put down the phone! Take time to reconnect with your kids and spouse so you can laugh and talk and create memories! Be sure to get the camera out and document all the fun you have!

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August 13th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

First Day of School Treats

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The first day of school is a day filled with excitement and nervousness. It also is the perfect day to come together with your child after school to talk. Celebrate with some special treats! Your child will most likely be hot, tired, excited and most of all starving!!

Peanut Butter Sushi

Frozen Grapes – String some grapes on a stick and freeze. This is great for the child that is overheated!

S’mores Brownies

Crudite Platter – If your child loves veggies, cut some up and serve with their favorite dip!

Waffle and Peanut Butter – heat up a waffle in the toaster and cover with peanut butter.

Muffins

Smoothie

Peanut Butter Popcorn

Cookies

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August 11th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Corn On The Cob Made Easy

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Our family LOVES to buy corn on the cob from the local farm stand. It is just starting to hit its peak here in Wisconsin, but in the meantime we have enjoyed summer corn from the grocery store. One of my favorite ways to make it is in the oven. You don’t have to shuck it, remove the stringy things or boil water, all you have to do is cook and enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

Place corn husks directly on the oven rack and roast for 30 minutes.

Peel down the husks.

The corn will be steamy hot when you peel it, so be careful! The strings and husks peel away from the corn easily.

Enjoy with salt and butter, or however you like!

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This same method can be done on the grill, but I like to soak my husk-covered corn in water for an hour or so. This helps prevent it from burning on the grill.

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August 4th, 2014 at 10:10 am

Organizing Your Finances

Managing Your Finances

Wouldn’t you like to stop worrying about your finances? Making a plan and getting organized will help you understand your financial situation and lower your stress. I am constantly amazed at how many people find a budget so difficult to manage. Even people with an endless income can use a budget to manage their money and keep track of their spending and saving.

Here are some ways to get organized in the money department:

Create a budget. List all the different categories that you may spend money on. I like to get more specific but others do well with general categories. Take control of your money and assign realistic amounts to each category. Pay attention to categories that you have some control over and can use coupons or specials savings on ~ Eating out, groceries, utilities, and clothing.

Set goals for your finances.  Think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, 5 years, or even more. Set up ways to save for those goals. It is great to get the kids involved in these ideas too.  Also think about retirement and what you want to accomplish savings wise.

Set up a way to keep track of your finances. This may be done online, through spreadsheets or apps, or with pen and paper in a finance journal. Find what way works best for you.

Search online for ways to save and organize. There are tons of coupons and saving strategies available on the Internet. Most companies have some sort of loyalty program, app, or newsletter signup where you can be alerted when there are savings available. When making a big purchase, do research online to find the best price possible. Buying pre-owned or used items such as furniture, cars, etc. can cut prices significantly. Create a “savings strategy” and stick to it. I.e. Every week you clip the newspaper coupons, do an online search and print, and organize your coupons in a booklet or folder so it’s readily available when you shop. Set up an email account just for savings, and have all your newsletters and coupon emails in one place.

Make sure your family is on board. Make sure everyone is part of this process. If you are the only one trying to save money, the other family members will still make trips out to eat, keep the lights on in unused rooms, and plan extravagant vacations.  If you are all on task, more money will appear in your savings and all your financial dreams will come true!

How do you manage your money?

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August 1st, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Displaying Medals and Trophies

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With two boys who are actively involved in sports, we have to anticipate that sooner or later, medals and trophies will be won and the kids will be eager to display them. My son recently earned his first medal in a soccer tournament, and I wanted to find a fun way to display it so he can remember his accomplishments.

I took a regular towel bar found at your local hardware or department store and attached it to the wall. Then, I looped the medal over it so it hangs nicely. A quick and easy way to display! As you can see, I have displayed his trophies on a shelf underneath as well. I think I might even add some type of quote or word art about hard work or success to finish it off!

It’s important to remind your kids that with some hard work they can accomplish so much!

How do you organized/display your kids’ trophies?

 

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July 29th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Fun iPhone Apps for Kids

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Looking for some fun apps to add to your iPhone or iPad?

For your younger kids, try Alien Assignment (free). It is a fun scavenger hunt app that uses your device’s camera. When the alien needs something, your child must find a household item that fits the description and take a picture of it. Fun and learning at the same time.

It’s never to early to learn about healthy eating. Go Nini  (free) is a helpful app that makes a game of making good food choices. Foods that are “Go”, “Slow” and “Whoa” help teach children about the types of food they should eat anytime, sometimes, and rarely.

For ages 8 and up, try StoryLines (free). Think of it as a digital version of the “telephone” game. The first person chooses a common phrase and passes the device to the next person, who draws a picture of that phrase and passes the the device to the next person, who must write a caption for that picture. And so on up to 9 players. When the last person is done, you review the storyline to see how different the last caption is from the first phrase. It’s both fun and educational.

9-11. Weird but True (free with 0.99 add-ons for additional fact packs) is a National Geographic app that provides lots of little known and downright strange factoids about any number of topics like lobsters and astronauts.

And of course for the little ones just starting out with basic learning, the Garanimals Learn, Play, Share app (free) teaches letters, numbers and shapes by association.

Add a little fun and learning to your summer.

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