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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pecan-Honey Raw Energy Balls

I recently dug my heels in, shook my fists and declared I was not buying anymore granola bars for the kids. 
It's the snack I feel guilty about packing. Damn it. 
Sometimes they're a little reluctant to try new things.
They're onto my sneaking-good-things-in kind of ways.

So here I am, trying out a bunch of recipes in hopes of finding maybe three or four that I can stockpile and have on hand. 
This one is slightly adapted from "Raw Energy" by Stephanie Tourles.

INGREDIENTS (mostly from Trader Joe's):
2 C. roasted pecan pieces
1 C. dried cranberries (yes, I got the kind with sugar, but you can buy the other)
1/4 C. honey
1/2 C. shredded coconut
2 T. bee pollen (this is usually with the refrigerated probiotics and flax seed oil at health food stores)

You might be tempted to skip the bee pollen. Don't, it's really good. 

Turn on your oven to its lowest setting. Mine was 170. Even lower would be ideal. Process the pecans and cranberries until well incorporated.  Add coconut, bee pollen, and honey. Process until the mixture is sticky, a little oily, and can easily form a ball in your hand. You can either form them into balls and leave them, or flatten them into little cookies. Place on a cookie sheet (I also used a Silpat). Bake in the oven for 2-3 hours, or longer. They will feel soft when warm but get harder as they sit and cool. After they're cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Or, you can be like me and just wolf down the ENTIRE batch in one day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The File Crate System

The right organization system can change your life.


I was pretty positive this system would work for me as soon as I read about it, but I decided to really test it out for a full year before sharing.

So here we are, and I hope it might inspire you!

First off, credit. It all goes to Dawn over at By Sun and Candlelight. I don't know her but this post inspired me late one night as I sat in front of my fireplace and got lost in a blog rabbit hole.  She has many posts about this system and has answered lots of questions about it, too.

So what is it?

It's a system that uses 52 rotating files--one for each week of the year. You pull out and use the current week's file, then when the week is over you put it at the back of your crate.

Here's mine, sitting right next to my desk. I love the handles which allow me to haul it all around the house, or wherever I plan on working.

What's in each folder?

Anything I need to take care of for the current week.
If something doesn't get done, it just gets moved to the next week's folder (or to whatever week I plan on dealing with it).

Here's an example for this week:

A sticky note with info about which cookbook I want to use to plan meals this week. A thank-you card that I need to fill out and send. An invitation to a birthday party; I stuck it in this week's folder as soon as I RSVP'd my daughter. It reminds me that we need to buy/make the gift this week. 

It's also so handy for holidays and birthdays. Immediately after Thanksgiving I sat down and tweaked next year's menu while it was all still fresh in my head. I HATE this chore, but when I had it all worked out for next year, I stuck it in the folder for the first week of November (that's when I start to think about Thanksgiving dinner) and there it will be all ready for me when I get to this November. 

When I come across a recipe for a birthday I cut it out or write on a sticky note where I can find it on my Pinterest boards and then I put it in the proper week.

BOOM! Out of my head. 

Would you like to make one?



  •   1 box each of folders-hanging AND regular (I like these plain craft paper kind)
  •   1 Pack of Martha Stewart Labels (Avery #72458)

Target, or wherever:

  •   Some sort of crate or box that can hold hanging files. Mine is from Target's "greenroom" line (pictured two photos up)

(I promise this is easy. I'm just thorough)

Our 52 weekly file folders have to sit in our hanging folders. If you want to just get to it, pull out about six hanging folders and meet us at Step 2.

For the rest of us: Take a moment and think about how you move through the seasons in your home. I chose to label my hanging folders with my personal breakdown of the seasons. In my mind and life they pretty much follow nature:

 LATE WINTER = Jan thru Late-March
SPRING = Late-March thru Mid-June
SUMMER = Mid-June (kids get out of school) thru Late-August
FALL = Early September (school begins) thru Late-November 
*One extra unlabeled folder just for help in holding files

Label them and set them aside (or leave them all blank).


Select 52 file folders

Choose them in a way that makes the top tabs work for you. Since there's only three tab positions to choose from mine is roughly by season (see photo below).


 Now, consider how your week works, and by that I mean when does it begin and end. This will dictate the dates you print on your file folder stickers.  
 My weeks run Monday through Sunday. For some people, Friday afternoon is when they begin to consider the next week because they spend the weekend shopping and prepping for it. For others, maybe Sunday evening is when they look at the next week's activities.


Grab a calendar and your pack of labels

Click here to go to Avery's site for the template. In the upper left part of the screen enter "72458"

Choose your font (always so exciting!)

I used Pea Lisel. You can get it for FREE from the generous Kevin & Amanda 
click here 

Consider how to divide your colors. Again, I chose mine by season:

Late Winter months BLUE
Spring months GREEN
Summer months YELLOW
Fall months ORANGE
Early Winter month RED

Tip: I know you've all done this before, but just type one row and then print. Adjust and reprint over it until you get it just right so you don't waste stickers. It didn't take much fiddling.


Apply to folder!


Place your hanging folders into your box/crate one season at a time.
Divide up your file folders and put them in your hanging folders.


One more tip that I learned from Dawn. As you schlep your folder around with you all week you can keep papers from falling out by using a frog clip like this:
It works really well!

Now take a break and go outside for God's sake. The view from the end of my street is beautiful and I hope yours is too!