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July 31, 2013

Oh my summer foods: Pennies and Pancakes: Granola Bars

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My kids and I make these all the time.  They are great for lunch boxes, camping, car-rides, or just plain snacks.  I feel good about the recipe, the sugar level, and the cost!  I will admit, that we add mini m&m's and/or mini reece's peices.  So, they aren't quite so healthy when we make them- but I try not to factor that in, since the are SO yummy.  Of course we love Pennies and Pancakes we are pretty sure you've seen this over on pinterest, but as much as I use the recipe, I wanted it to be here on our blog as well.  So, with out further ado, the amazing Andrea from Pennies and Pancakes with her incredible edible granola bars.

$0.11 each          50% savings          save $61.70 yearly

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." 

Now THAT is some sound advice. We live in uncertain times with a troubled economy, and it can be easy to worry about what the future holds.

That uncertainty is a big reason my family has an extra storage of food supplies at home.

Stocking up months worth of basic food items might sound strange/fanatical to some, but it gives me peace of mind to know that if something bad ever happened and if, for whatever reason, it became difficult to obtain food, we'd be okay... or if we lost our income... or, if something happened to our friends or neighbors we'd be able to help them out. Everything we store is food that I use anyway, and when I use some of my food storage, I can simply buy a little more to replace what I used.

We store things like wheat (that I grind into flour at home), oats, dried beans, dried pasta, jarred pasta sauce, peanut butter, boxed cereal, canned fruits/veggies, extra baking supplies, etc. 

The other day I was looking for new ways to use oats (besides cookies, oatmeal, and breads). I stumbled on an easy no-bake granola bar recipe from Rachel Ray that I adapted to meet my needs... okay, honestly I changed her recipe A LOT. I wanted to only use ingredients that I consistently have in my food storage supply, but her recipe was the take-off point for the recipe I'm going to share with you.

So, why make your own when there are already a ton of granola bars on the market covered in sweet chocolate and filled with gooey caramel or peanut butter?

Well, because those bars are more like candy bars. In fact, there really aren't many truly healthy granola bars sitting on the store shelves right now. And the ones that are good for you cost an arm and a leg... and maybe an ear thrown in for good measure. But if you're looking for a yummy candy bar, then by all means, buy the candy covered/filled "granola" bars!

These "food storage" granola bars are quite healthy overall, with a sweet, nutty flavor, and are VERY inexpensive compared to their store-bought competitors. My three-year old downed 3 of them immediately after I made them. If that's not a kid-friendly seal of approval, I don't know what is!

"Food Storage" Granola Bars (No-Bake)
Printable Version

*Makes 28 bars

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 cup peanut butter (crunchy)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups Quick Oats (not rolled oats)
2 cups crispy rice cereal
3 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, stir crispy rice cereal, quick oats together.

In a medium saucepan, combine honey, butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then bring the temperature down to low, and simmer till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Pour in vanilla and stir.

Pour the hot mixture over dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Press into a parchment-lined jelly roll pan.

Pack the granola bar mixture as closely and as tightly together as you possibly can into one end of the pan at about 1/2-3/4 inch thickness.Any thinner, and the bars will not hold together. Let cool on the counter till they reach room temperature.

Cut into bars (I did 4 X 7). Wrap in plastic or store in a ziplock bag.

*You may add chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc. if desired. If adding chocolate chip, press them into the top of the bars after you've packed the very warm granola mixture into the pan. Otherwise, you'll end up with a melted chocolate-swirled mess.

**My family loves this recipe as is, but if you find they don't hold their form as well as you'd like, you can store them in the refrigerator. 

~ Savings ~

*Updated on 1/8/13 from $0.08 ea. to $0.11 ea.

Cost Breakdown:
16 oz. clover honey - $3.78 = 22 T = $0.172/T = $1.376
7 lb brown sugar - $5.05 = 264 T = $0.019/T = $0.114
40 oz. crunchy peanut butter - $5.24 = 70 T = $0.075/T = $0.299
4 lb unsalted butter - $7.99 = 128 T = $0.0625/T = $0.250
42 oz. quick oats - $3.18 = 15 C = $0.212/C = $0.848
36 oz. crispy rice cereal - $4.88 = 37.5 C = $0.130/C = $0.260
8 fl. oz. imitation vanilla - $0.98 = 48 tsp = $0.0204/tsp = $0.061
Total Recipe Cost: $3.21
Per Granola bar: $0.11
The Contender:
Nature Valley Oats and Honey Granola Bars (12 pk.) = $2.68
Per Granola Bar: $0.22
Savings: 50%

"Over a year" scenario:
Make "Food Storage" Granola Bars recipe 15 times = $47.55
Buy equivalent Nature Valley Oats and Honey Granola Bars = $93.80

*Money Saved: $46.25

July 30, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Kiley@ DIY with GK

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We have a super fun mom from DIY with GK over here at Shaffer Sisters today.  When Scary and I saw these uber-cool super-simple rocket shooters, we knew we had to try them.
Our boys love them, and that is why we knew we had to share them with all of you, so with out further ado I am thrilled to introduce you to Kiley and her "Ta-Da rocket shooters".

This is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most entertaining craft/toy for the kiddos. Rocket Shooters. All it takes is a straw (per person), some squares/rectangles of scrap paper (preferably construction paper or thicker), tape and scissors. Read the full post HERE, by Kiley at DIY with GK

July 29, 2013

Not so fun summer activity: the nap-time straight jacket

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Last week I went to my parents home for the annual pioneer celebration that our town puts on.  We were there for the parade, a barbecue, and a rodeo.  On Monday I had my uncle look in to some problems on our car.  There were a couple issues that needed parts, and it couldn't be finished until Thursday.  So, the kids and I made our selves at home at Grandma and Grandpa's house.   We had a great time playing in the water, sewing, and eating all of the yummy food.  However my little Rogue learned a new trick that was not so great.  It is called the laydownforanapandtakeyourdiaperoffandsmearyourfecalmatteronthewalls trick!
It is a foul smelling dirty trick!  So after cleaning the walls and carpet for the 4th or 5th time I was determined to make something our little sweety couldn't escape from.  Grandma had the perfect fabric for the job-an old remnant from Walmart. 

I wanted the head space to be big enough that she could get it on, but when it was buttoned, small enough that she couldn't slide out.
I didn't want any clasps or buttons in the crotch, as it needed the least amount of escape routes as possible.

I finished it off with a home made bias tape, making the entire project simple and easy!
The buttons are really big, so that if they happen to come off, she won't be able to choke on them.
So, now that you have all the details, here is a nap time straight jacket that I know baby Houdini would have a hard time escaping from!

with love,
July 24, 2013

A Beginners Pattern Testing Guide

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Recently I have been able to do a little pattern testing (Pleated Playsuit Pattern & Bubble Top and Spin Skirt Pattern). It has been such a fun/hard/crazy learning experience. So today's tips are for those of you that would like to pattern test but haven't had the chance.  Now my opinions are based off my own experience of having two small children (almost 4 year old and a 18 month old) with a husband that works a ton.

 1. STAY ORGANIZED! You don't have time to loose stuff. I like to block out one night to cut out the pattern pieces then put them in zip top bags for the next day.  I like having a computer or tablet open with the instructions (this saves a lot of paper).
Stay Organized with Pattern Testing put pattern pieces in zip top bags and use a tablet for instructions
2. Be prepared for quick turn around on the pattern. The pattern designer is counting on you and the other testers to get back information to them before their release so they will usually give you some crazy deadline that will probably require a few fast food nights for your family.
3. Pattern testing is a great way to use your stash of fabric. I like to choose something that will photograph well and is something that I like I wouldn't suggest using any very special occasion fabric (well unless you have a ton and then go ahead) because there is a chance there might be a mistake in sizing or instructions that will cause it to not fit right. But then again you might end up with a garment you love so using fabric that you will like the look of for a while is a good thing. With the Playsuit I used some quilters cotton that I got for $2/yard at the Home Fabrics Store, so when it was a little tighter in the crotch than I would have liked I wasn't devastated it will fit Boston as long as it does but I wasn't out more than $2 dollars so no big. Another reason I like doing this is then it speeds up your pattern testing time because you don't have to go to the store (PS. Who are your favorite online fabric suppliers? Come join the discussion on Facebook)
Use your fabric stash to pattern test saving you time at the fabric store and you won't be bummed if it doesn't work out perfect.
4. With the permission of the designer ask if you can add your own flair. I did this with the Spin Skirt by adding bloomers, Heidi liked the idea. Remember it is about designers vision but if something serves your need it might be something that could add to the pattern.

5. If you are confused by a direction (or set of directions) send an e-mail immediately to the designer and they will be able to clarify for you. This is something that was taught to me by both Jo (for the Playsuit) and Suzanne Winters of Winter Wonderings & Whatnot (for the Bubble Top and Spin Skirt). Now I will admit the independent learner in me has not quite gotten this one down but I WILL DO BETTER NEXT TIME. Both Jo and Suzanne as a question saved the rest of the testers a lot of headache and annoyance.
6. Look over the list of pattern testers and find a friend. It was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of both times, without having to bother the designer too much.  
7. Make notes along the way, of little changes and suggestions. On a word document or even a physical note pad write what page or category and then which step needs clarification. This will make it easier for you then trying to remember every step, that you struggled with.
8. Have a plan for a photoshoot before you finish your garment. You are probably going to be exhausted and be so emotionally done so have a plan in mind. Professional looking pictures are important to the designer and will help you be chosen again.
Have a plan for a photoshoot before you finish the tested garment.
9. Write a blog post with all of your pretty pictures. Sometimes designers will send traffic your way so make a place to catch that traffic so the visitors know they are at the right place.
10. Enjoy the labors of your hard work, when the designer sends you the finished pattern. It isn't a free pattern it is a pattern than you have worked for so give yourself a pat on the back, you survived!
With Love,
July 23, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Using Two Sided Tape to Assemble Digital Patterns & Inspire Us Link Up Party

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Quick Tip Tuesday. I love using double sided tape when I am putting together digital patterns because I can get things perfectly in place before I push the tape down. I came up with this idea by accident. I had a project that I needed to complete and couldn't find the normal clear tape so I looked around my house and found two sided tape that we had left from weatherizing our windows. It was love at first assembly. I line out my patterns then I decide which edge I am going to trim and which edge I am going to keep to attach the two sided tape to it. Then I pull out a big strip and then cut it into smaller pieces and put them for use on the edge of the table.
I apply the strips to the margin (pictured below) then I pull the paper off the top of the tape.
Position the pattern piece until it matches up correctly.

Thank you! Thank you for another successful link up party last week. I loved looking through every post. I didn't have time to comment on every post, but as promised I did get everyone of them pinned so if you want to know what comment I would have left if I had more minutes in the day you go to the Inspire Us Link Up Party Pinterest Board. I really wish I could feature every single one of you but I have to go do a sink load of dishes after this.
Per the advice of Mom's Make Money we have changed our blog button and our feature to include a  "no follow" attribute so that it doesn't hurt the blogs that we are featuring or us. If you are new to blogging go check out this website it has good information about how to make money blogging and SEO help. Al and I have spent the last week combing through her blog.

If you want to know how to do it as go to:
Shaffer Sisters encourage. inspire. uplift. create.
Sewing Mama RaeAnne shared this is the sweetest birthday idea that I have seen for a boy in a long time. I love the simplicity and that it is really cute without busting the budget.
Paper Airplane Party
Be Ever So Humble shared blew my mind with How to Make Cultured Buttermilk (and we love buttermilk for some pancakes like here and here)
How to Make Buttermilk
Two Many shared her Roller Skate Dress Flip, I think this is such a great towel coverup because it would be easy for a little girl to get on and get dry, but has good shape that looks commercially made.
Roller Skate Dress to Towel Dress
July 22, 2013

Picnic Friendly Oven Fries: Quick Side with Easy Clean up and Pack up

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Last Week, I shared Playdate Chicken Salad and these fries are so easy and are an easy side for any picnic meal. I love that they only take a couple of steps and a few ingredients. They are lighter than a traditional potato wedge, because they are baked with olive oil.

I have used Russett, Red and Yukon for these and all of them are great! At the peak of summer, when all the potato options are affordable I would choose Yukon, because they have richer flavor to them. But don't worry you will love them no matter which one you choose.

For these I used 3 large Idaho russet potatoes (Yukon or Red I would have used 5, since they are smaller), I scrubbed the potatoes skins till clean. I cut my potatoes in half (or third for really big potatoes) and 1/4 inch in width. Then fill a large bowl with hot salty water and swish the potatoes around to release the starches. Then drain the water and repeat until I don't see any more starch coming off (this usually takes about 3 times of rinsing and draining).
Cover a large baking sheet with tin foil (this will help you so you don't have much clean up and when the fries are done cooking you can make a pouch with the tin foil and it is ready for picnicking) and then spread fries evenly. Top with olive oil and a seasoning of your choice, I really like seasoning salt for a milder taste and McCormick Steak Seasoning for a bolder flavor.
Cook in a 400 Degree oven until crispy. The thickness will determine how long they take to cook (some where in the 25 to 35 minute range), don't take out until they get the cute little brown blisters on them. If you are worried about on even cooking rotate half way through.
July 17, 2013

Playdate Chicken Salad: Ready to go to the Park with No Extra Dishes

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One of my favorite things about summer is taking the kids to the park to play and having girl time with my mommy friends. Last summer I was lucky enough to live within walking distance to several parks. We were there so frequently, it was almost like we lived there. It seemed like sporadic play dates to the park were always happening. I was glad when this Chicken Salad mix was in the fridge for such occasions. 

This will make a large batch of chicken salad, but then you can invite more friends. If you are making it for a smaller group don't worry it is just about the ratio. 4 parts Baked Chicken: 2 parts Grapes (I have used purple grapes before, for a very pretty salad): 2 parts Cashews: 1 part Celery: 1 part Mayo.
I forgot to add Salt and Pepper to Taste, Seasoning Salt is also good for a good kick. 
I have found it is really useful to mix everything together in a gallon sized bag then you can make sure everything is equally distributed through out the salad and it is perfect for storing in the fridge and grabbing for the park. I love croissants with this salad but if you don't have any, a buttered piece of bread will do the trick. 

Jo shared chicken salad recipe that is made from shelf stable ingredients, that you could check out.  

Hope your Summer has been full of lots of Playdates and Picnics without too many dishes. 
With Love, 
July 16, 2013

Link up & Quick Tip Tuesday: Encourage, Uplift, Inspire, Create

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When we finally were able to pinpoint our mission statement, all of us agreed that the pillars should be built on a strong foundation and things that were really important to us. We wanted a safe place to share and learn with people we respected and who helped bring out our very best selves. If our posts don't meet at least one of these criteria, we don't publish it. This standard has given a lot of clarity in what is most important.
This summer I have felt a bit of a challenge as to my ability as a blogger. I'm living with my parents and I don't have the same needs/work space as I'm used to. Remembering that it is my goal to encourage, uplift, inspire, and create has taken my focus from myself to others. If these words inspire your best self, print it off and see how these simple goals can bless you.

Now to the link-up party. Last week was incredible. I learned a TON and found some really great new things to pin. If you were featured feel free to grab our button! And don't forget to link up more amazing things.
Shaffer Sisters encourage. inspire. uplift. create.
Some of our favorites were:

Jedi Craft Girl: Classic Spiral Tye Die Shirts (I love tie dye, but Scary's never tried it before she was excited to have tutorial on how to get a great looking shirt)
Feelin' Crafty: Low Volume Quilt Tutorial (it used a new technique I've never seen before; could be used for beginners)

House of Estrela: Lady Bug Birthday Outfit (it even has lady bug buttons- so cute)

Six Sisters: Cheeseburger Wraps (I'm thinking this might be a healthier/revamp that I should definitely try)
PS. Have you seen the Encouraging and Uplifting efforts of Simple Simon & Co. Skirting the Issue. For information on this click here or here:
Simple Simon and Co
July 12, 2013

Master Organizer Box: Day Dividers, Individual Task Sheets & Task Examples

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You can find the Master Organizer Files at the bottom of the post. 
Yesterday, we shared the idea behind the Master Organizer, over on Get Your Crap Together. I decided to use the master organizer to help me plan my weeks because it seems like every day requires a little different schedule. Some days are full of family outings and others are good for getting lots of things done.
I needed a schedule that adapted to my schedule.
I opened up a word file on my computer changed the page size to 4 by 6 and then put each task that I need to accomplish frequently on a card. Some of them I allotted a time, like play out in the park or watch a kids show.  This is what the file looked like:
Once you assign a color of a task to a member of a family then you would print out that task card on that color. For example if my color was pink,  here is what a task card would look like.
This can serve to a visual representation to me and the members of my family of what needs to be done. But it is also flexible enough that if we need to move something to another day we simply move the task to another day divider.
For example, I was planning on cleaning my bathrooms on Monday but we had something come up so I would move that card to Tuesday. Often times things need to be done so many days per week but they really don't need to be done every Monday or the house will explode.
I also think this will help me prepare for family trips because I can move the task cards earlier in the week to avoid a vacation preparation rush. 
Another divider of on the system is Week 1-4. This is for bill paying and other monthly activities. My husband is paid every 2 weeks and not on a certain day of month (like 5th and the 20th). It is important for me to split bills between paydays. For example I would put a pay electricity and water card in week 3, pay rent and internet in week 1.
Now, I am going to own up to something... today with you I will be starting this system. I have tried other systems to get my family organized and hated the ridged nature of them because they didn't adapt. I hated them so much, that I might have shouted from the roof tops, "I WILL NEVER EVER BE SCHEDULED AGAIN!"
I have tried to go unscheduled for a number of months and I keep forgetting things, double booking and not getting things done that I need to. I have really thought through what would be rigid enough to get the important things done but flexible enough that I won't loose my mind. Lets see how this month goes, I would love to hear from you with any additions you might need or changes you made to the system yourself.
I am off to the store to get some blank 4 by 6 recipe cards and I am planning to change the color of my wooden recipe box to match.
With Love,

I am giving you this information in flexible ways so you can adapt this organizing system to what works best for you. Please remember that all files are for personal use and are property of Shaffer Sisters.

Master Organizing File (which includes Day Dividers, Week Dividers, Task Seperator and 4 by 6 blank Task Sheets, but does not include examples of tasks)
Example of Tasks (PDF/Word)
Day Dividers
Week Dividers
4 by 6 Task Sheets (recipe cards)

July 11, 2013

Organize Me! Guest Post on Get Your Crap Together.

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Today you can find us over at Get Your Crap Together. Sharing the idea for flexible master organizer box and free printable cards that is flexible enough use for your own system. You should go check it out and the awesome contributions by the other contributors.
Get Your Crap Together
Tomorrow we will be back with the rest of the master organizer print outs.
July 10, 2013

Homemade Pizza: Oh My Summer Foods

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1 c warm water
2 1/4 tsp. Yeast
2 1/2 c. Flour
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Dissolve yeast, add other ingredients.  Mix until moistened.  Turn 20 strokes. Cover for about 5 minutes. (I cover and let it rest until I have all of the topping diced, shredded, and ready.

Add desired toppings and bake at 425 degrees farenheit for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.

This makes 1 18 in crust.

This is our traditional Friday night dinner.  It has been for years.  We usually make four crusts.  The kids make all different kinds of pizzas.  We have some Canadian bacon and Pineapple lovers.  We have a Cheese lover, and a couple of Pepperoni lovers.  I am a hawaiian girl myself, where as Captain America is a Supreme pizza kind of guy.
After we get our pizzas made and eaten we end with rootbear floats and popcorn.  We choose a favorite movie and enjoy.
July 09, 2013

Vera Luna :Make your own prints using Discharge paste:Quick Tip Tuesday and Link-up party

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As fellow fabric designers, this tip from our last linky-party really caught our eye.  She won the feature for this week.  We hope you will add tons of great tips to the link-up party and maybe we will choose you next week.  This post is smart, informative, and oh so fun!  We asked Vera Luna to come over today and share it with our readers.  So, with out further ado, here is how to make your own prints using discharge paste.

Hi Shaffer Sister readers. I'm Saskia from the Netherlands and I blog over at <"">Vera Luna
. I created these pineapple fabrics with discharge paste. This is fabulous (and very smelly) stuff. It works like bleach, but since it's much thicker, it's very suitable for freezer paper stenciling. 

I used it before for one of my favorite projects, this triangle sweater.

For my current project, I cut out several pineapples, all slightly different and with different kinds of leaves. I ironed the freezer paper to the fabric and applied the discharge paste. 

When the paste was dry, some bleaching already had occurred. Then I steam ironed it, which activated the bleach even more. The effect is always a surprise; the degree of bleaching and the resulting color depends on the fabric. I've learned that jeans and red fabric don't work as well. But on this brown cotton, the pineapples came out clear and sharp.

I also printed some orange fabric. Curious what I made with my fabric?
Here's a sneak peek.... You can find the results here and here.

Welcome to the Organize Me!!  Sizzlin' Summer Link Party!!!
Link up from now until the end of July!!

Get Your Crap Together

We have several great co-hosts for this link party!!


1- Link up any and all of your GREAT Organizing Ideas.
2 - Check out what others have done.  Leave some comments and make some friends.
3 - We'd love for you to follow all of us on BlogLovin'!!  But you don't have to.
4 - Grab our button and let's get this Party Started!!!

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