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Super-Simple, Healthy, Chewy Granola Bars

I am always on the search for snack I can give my kids that are actually healthy. I love to be able to just hand them something that I won’t have to worry about having artificial junk and preservatives in. I am a huge fan of baby carrots, fresh fruit and applesauce, but I can only convince the kids to have them as a snack a few days a week. My kids especially love granola bars.

I stumbled upon this great way to replace our store bought granola bars with ones made with real ingredients. These do have some sugar in them (especially if¬† you add the chocolate chips ūüėČ ) so be aware of that, but for the most part these are healthy versions of the ones you buy in the store.

These granola bars are great for parents too. I have started grabbing half of a bar to curb the afternoon hunger.

The best part is these healthy, chewy granola bars are SUPER easy to make.

Gather your ingredients. We love 1/2 cashew butter and 1/2 almond butter, but feel free to cater to your own taste.

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Measure out your nut butter and maple syrup.

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Melt them in a microwave safe bowl and stir to combine.

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Add the oatmeal and stir again.

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Empty the ingredients into a lined pan.

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Press into place.

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Add any extras. We love chocolate chips and nuts or assorted dried fruit.

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Let cool and then cut into bars. These keep for about a week, longer if you don’t mind a crispier granola bar.

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Super-Simple, Healthy, Chewy Granola Bars

super-simple-healthy-chewy-granola-bars

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup nut butter (can use almond butter, cashew butter, sun butter or just plain peanut butter)
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • Additional add-ins like chocolate chips or dried fruit pieces
  1. Combine the syrup and nut butter and melt in the microwave. Stir until it is fully combined.
  2. Add in the oatmeal. Stir.
  3. Add in any additional toppings of your choice.
  4. Line a small bar pan with wax paper. Scoop mixture into pan.
  5. Use another small sheet of wax paper to press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  6. Let cool, cut, and enjoy!

5 Easy Ways to be Environmentally Conscious for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day to everyone out there!

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would give you my top 5 easy ways to be environmentally conscious today and going forward.

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  1. Recycle at Home¬†– I can’t say this one enough. We recycle everything we possibly can. I am weird about it, but if you’re not, start off small. Try to have your recycling bin contain more than your trash bin at the end of every week.
  2. Use refillable water bottle. This is easy with the kids since they tend to use sippy cups that you bring with you, but consider getting one for yourself too. If you need a recommendation, I love my CamelBak Stainless steel bottle. The stainless is awesome because it doesn’t hold flavors like plastic does and CamelBak warranties all their parts. I had the mouthpiece break a couple of years ago and they completely replaced it at no charge to me.
  3. Use reusable grocery bags. I am an Aldi shopper and so I pretty much have to do this, but its a great habit to pick up anyway.  You can find reusable grocery bags pretty much anywhere for inexpensive.
  4. Accept and give hand-me-downs. We have a solid rotation system down with friends and family for kids clothing. We only have to buy clothes for special occasions and wear hand me downs the rest of the time. I love this because not only is it environmentally conscious, it saves money. We also donate clothing when it no  longer fits.
  5. Garden. We love to have a small vegetable and herb garden in the summer. I love that it teaches the kiddos about the world and life cycles plus it provides great nutrition.

Looking for a fun Earth Day project to try with your littles? This one looks like a blast and way easy.

make a wish

Challenge COMPLETED: 5 Keys to Successfully Organize and Purge

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

We made it!! We have reached the end of our 40 bags in 40 days challenge. It has been hard, easy, and time consuming all at the same time. I thought, for the final post, I would leave you with the 5 biggest biggest factors to successfully organize and purge your house that I learned while completing this challenge.

What’s the 40 bags in 40 days Challenge?

5 Keys to Successfully Organize and Purge Your House

1. Start Small

Make a list of all the areas in your house that are in need of organization and purging. Now take that list and divide each item into a few smaller areas.

The biggest challenge in cleaning, organizing, and purging your house is actually starting the task. Make it easier on yourself by making each project a 20 minute one instead of a 5 hour one. For instance, when I started this challenge I had trouble focusing it down to tasks and just identified the kitchen on my list. After struggling to really get started I realized I didn’t have time to organize and purge my kitchen as a whole. BUT, I did have time to clean out the spices and reorganize them. And then the next time I had 20 minutes, I hit the pots and pans storage. And so on.

2. Strategize Organization

Spend a couple of minutes coming up with some storage and organization ideas for your problem areas. Your best resources for this are friends and family or Pinterest. Check out my organization board here. Don’t be afraid to do something really different from how you are currently doing it. The biggest change I made was organizing my pantry by type of food (e.g. Mexican, Italian, Asian) as opposed to canned goods, boxed goods, etc. This has made making a grocery list so much easier since this is how most grocery stores are laid out. Also its a huge benefit for meal planning.

Once you have an idea for some tools that may help, stop by the dollar store or order them from Amazon.

3. Purge!

The first thing you should do is pull everything out of your identified area and get rid of anything unneeded, broken, or unused. This will be hard for some people (me!), but really try to pair it down to the essentials. Make sure you have multiple bags for the purge: donate, trash, and recycle.

4. Implement Your Organization

Add in the organization system that you found in step 2. Remember its ok to take breaks if it doesn’t look like it will be completed in your allotted time. Also, you may have to divide the task even further down into sub tasks.

5. Allow for Adjustment

Most organizational systems don’t work perfectly right off the bat, allow room for you to change your mind about how things will work.

Check out how my fellow bloggers finished up the challenge.


40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 5 Update

Eeek! I am a day late on this. I’m sorry! It has been a crazy week of stomach bugs in our house, yuck.

This week I tackled the kitchen and our organization systems there for the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. You can see where this all started here.

Spice Cabinet

We used a leftover piece of closet shelving, cut to size, to serve as a way to display spices in the cabinet. I love this organization system because it allow me to see and pick out the spice I want without emptying the entire cabinet. Plus it was really easy to do.

40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Spice Rack Organization - Fresh Take 5
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Spice Rack Organization – Fresh Take 5

 

 

Pots and Pans Organization

I added an extra divider¬†in my cabinet to hold my pans vertically so I can take the one I want, use it, wash it, and replace it without having to restack everything. Let’s be honest, the restacking never happens and things end up a jumbled mess so I am excited to have this change.

Vertical storage for pans
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Vertical Pan Organization – Fresh Take 5

 

 

Pots Organized
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Pot Organization – Fresh Take 5

The pots are still stacked for now. If you have a brilliant idea for this, I am open to hear it.

 

Here’s the finished product.

Pot and Pan organization
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Pots and Pans Organization – Fresh Take 5

 

Take a minute to check out all the great ideas happening over at the other bloggers taking the 40 bags in 40 Days challenge.


Easy Valentine’s Day DIY Play Dough

Easy Valentines Day DIY Play Dough

I’m fully ready to admit that I am not crafty at all, but I wanted to do something fun with my almost 3 year to get her excited about Valentine’s Day. I decided to go with a super easy Valentine’s Day DIY: play dough with red food coloring.

So while I can’t guarantee¬†your toddler will be patient and helpful in the preparation of this “craft” (mine was not), I can guarantee they will be super excited about it and the recipe will be easy.

The Dry Ingredients

 

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The Wet Ingredients

 

Create hole in center of dry ingredients

Dont over mix

Flour surface

Play

Easy Valentines Day DIY Play Dough

Easy Valentine’s Day DIY Play Dough

  • 2 – 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cream of Tartar
  • 2 cups near boiling water
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon¬†vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon food coloring
  • Extra flour for kneading
  1. Combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients.
  3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly add wet ingredients while stirring.
  4. Do not over mix.
  5. Let cool 10 minutes.
  6. Flour your countertop and hands and add flour while kneading until you reach a dough-like consistency.
  7. PLAY!
  8. Store in fridge for up to 1 year.

 

40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 4 Update

How is your 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge going? (Wondering what this is all about? Check out the kick off page here.) We keep plugging away over here and are starting to feel really good about the progress that is being made.

Here is what we did this week.

Pantry

Using Lindsay’s awesomely organized pantry for inspiration we hit our pantry hard. It’s amazing how many canned goods and other food items end up expiring because they just get pushed to the back and can’t ¬†be seen.

We updated the organization to incorporate more bins and sorted the bins by food types. The shoe rack was used to hold cling wrap, tin foil, trash bags, and other small miscellaneous items.

Pantry Organization
The finished product
Pantry Organization 3
Use a shoe organizer to corral small items, plastic wraps, and trash bags
Pantry Organization 4
Incorporated bins and organized by “like” items and food types

 

Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was another area conquered by the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. We had a small table to hold some candles and extra toilet paper, but with two toddlers it was always being knocked over and tampered with so we knew we needed another solution.

We added a shelf above the toilet to hold those items and added some updated linens to make it look fresher.

Bathroom Organization
Added shelf above the toilet for organization and toilet paper storage

 

Bathroom Organization 2
Updated linens to freshen look

 

Check out how my fellow bloggers are keeping up on the challenge:

 


40 Bags In 40 Days: Week 3 Update

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

This week was when the 40 bags in 40 days really became a challenge. After spending a week traveling, organization was low on the priority list compared to playing with adorable toddlers and laundry, so much laundry. We did manage to fill some bags, but nothing photo worthy.

Understanding my dilemma, my amazing, beautiful friend Lindsay volunteered to let me take some pictures of the awesome organization she has implemented into her house in the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, this with be some inspiration for all of us.

The Medicine Cabinet

Organized and labeled medicine and first aid keeps things accessible
Organized and labeled medicine and first aid keeps things accessible

The Kitchen Command Center

Organized kitchen command center - Fresh Take 5 #emergencycontacts
Chalkboard paint on the inside of the left cupboard door creates an emergency contact area perfect for babysitters

 

Right side of the command center features important birthdays
Right side of the command center features important birthdays

The Pantry

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Fun colors create visual appeal

 

Basket storage keeps everything in its place
Basket storage keeps everything in its place

Organized kitchen pantry - Fresh Take 5 #labeled bins

Labels on everything!

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Check out what the other 40 Bags in 40 Days bloggers have been up to:


40 Bags In 40 Days: Week 1 Update

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

Woah so we survived the first week and it wasn’t so bad. I am definitely realizing that I have tendencies to keep things thinking I will recycle or reuse them and that 40 Bags In 40 Days is really good for me.

This week I focused on those little cluttered areas around the house.

Living Room Toys

First I tackled the kids toys that are in the living room.

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Toys to store and rotate
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Yeah! A toy chest that actually closes!
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The toys that will be in this week’s or month’s rotation

Entry Way

Next up in my 40 Bags In 40 Days challenge, I revamped the garage entry area of my house.

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Photobombed by the baby trying on boots
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Clean bench for sitting down and putting on shoes
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Incorporated hat and mitten storage, a must in Minnesota. One basket for each family member.

I love the new hat and mitten storage I added. It is low enough that my little ones can put their own hats and mittens away after coming inside.

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Winter scarves displayed for Mama

I also added a pressure mounted¬†curtain rod above my jacket hooks to hang scarves on. It’s a nice way to see them all and then actually use them.

Coffee Bar

Lastly, I tackled the coffee bar. This area has a tendency to start catching random odds and ends in order to keep them out of the reach of the kids.

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Coffee Bar/ Station
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Coffee Bar organized
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Great way to hide all those K-cups and boxes of Tea

The shelving system and organizing boxes have made all the difference in keeping this area usable, but also nice to look at.

Week 1 Thoughts

I did some high level cleaning out and organizing. Next up is to tackle the bigger projects. I intended to get to my office this week and didn’t even make it that far so that’s on the list for next week.

How did you do? Any suggestions?

See how my fellow bloggers are doing at the challenge.


40 Bags in 40 Days: The Ultimate Organization and Purge Challenge

**Update: See how things went each week with my weekly post.
Week 1 here.
Week 2 here.
Week 3 here.
Week 4 here.
Week 5 here.
Week 6 here.
 ***

Whelp, Christmas is done and gone and now we are all loaded down with tons of new stuff in houses that were probably to full too begin with.

Are you as ready as I am to declutter? Let’s do the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

What Is The 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge?

40 Bags in 40 Days is an organization and purge challenge. It is a way for us to wrangle in all the stuff we have accumulated over the years that we don’t really need or don’t really use anymore.

The concept is that for the next 40 days you clean out a bags worth of stuff from your house every day. You can have more or less, but one bag a day is the goal.

 

How Do I Join The Challenge?

It’s easy to join me in the 40 Bag in 40 Days Challenge. Just follow along and comment or check-in as I post about it weekly over the next 40 days.

 

What do I do with the 40 bags of stuff?

 Donate

Your local Goodwill will always accept donations, but if you want even more ease try GoodDonor. You just put your bags of donations out front of your house, schedule a pick-up, and its all donated to the charity of your choice.

GoodDonor.org - Fresh Take 5

Sell

There are many ways to sell unwanted items. Remember to make sure that these items warrant your time selling them, i.e. they are big ticket items like designer clothes, furniture, or working appliances.

For selling clothes, try ThredUp. They will send you a cleanout bag that you can just mail in. Then they send you a check. Easy enough. Another good option is local sale/ swap sites on Facebook. Just search your city name along with ‘garage sale’ or ‘swap’ to find one.

Store

Think kids’ toys you plan to rotate and summer clothes that still fit and are stylish. Invest in some big storage tubs and fill them up. They will stack nicely so you can store them short or long term.

Trash/ Recycle

This is pretty self-explanatory. Recycle as much as you can, trash everything else.

 

My Challenge Areas

Over the next 6 weeks I plan to tackle one tough challenge area in my house a week. It may work better for you to do it differently, like you need two weeks to do one area of your house because it is really large. Or, maybe, you would like to specify even further down so you have a task per day (e.g. office desk, office, shelves, office file cabinets, etc.)

Desktop - Fresh Take 5

  1. My office
  2. The master bedroom closet
  3. The guest room (Ugh this room is the worst, it just becomes a catch all for things I don’t know what to do with.)
  4. The kids’ rooms
  5. The loft living room
  6. The kitchen (So. Many. Unused. Gadgets.)

 

Resources

To schedule a donation to the charity of your choice: http://www.gooddonor.org/

Sell name brand clothing: Create an account at ThredUp and request a cleanout bag (Use my link to get a $10 credit to your account when you open it.)

 Highly Rated Storage Bins