Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oatmeal Cookie Bars & A Bachelorette Weekend

This weekend was my roommate's bachelorette trip (Wooo!). Just a few of her closest girlfriends, down at the beach for the whole weekend. We packed plenty of snacks, games, and movies and simply relaxed the entire weekend. We grazed, laid out (well I laid in the shade) and slept all weekend. It was perfect.

The only thing missing from this weekend were these amazing Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Bars. They would have been perfect for breakfast (with Almond Milk), or as a snack by themselves, or even for dessert with vanilla ice cream on top. And the best part? All of those ways would have been super healthy!!! (Well, so -so on the ice cream, but moderation in all things right??).

Anyway, I made these a few weeks ago based off of the Peanut Butter Granola Bar from a fave blog of mine heedthefeed. I ended up tweaking almost everything in the recipe (as usual) to fit what I have in my pantry and/or my taste buds and somehow ended up with a cookie bar instead of a granola bar. (Hey, who's complaining??).

What's funny -- I actually didn't like them at first. They tasted too banana-y. (Is that a word?). But they grew on me REAL fast. They were so delicious (and nutritious) and I even got the stamp of approval from a few co-workers.

I am dying to make these again and eat them with ice cream. Or maybe even make them into Double Chocolate Oat Bars by adding cocoa powder....!?! and of course still with the ice cream. (duh).

I also want to try them without the extra liquid (see ingredients) to see if I can make them more granola bar-ish as well. If I can make two different (healthy!) snacks/desserts out of one set of ingredients...sign me up!!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Adapted from heedthefeed

I have only listed my recipe (as tweaked) but see Jessa's blog for the original recipe.

4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I made my own by throwing peanuts, oil and salt in a food processor)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (honey would work great too)
1/3 cup banana puree (thaw a frozen banana and puree in food processor until liquid)
2 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips (or more... I seem to be heavy handed when it comes to chocolate.)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spray an 8x8 pan and line with parchment paper (spray that as well).
3. Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
4. Pour mixture into prepared and lined pan and press firmly into the pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Let cool -- they are crumbly.

Serve warm or cold as a healthy breakfast, snack or dessert and enjoy! : )


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

La-La-La Liebster!

Hip Hip Hooray!!! 

My sweet friend Sarah nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award!

An award? For me?? ...Does it count? I mean, Sarah is really sweet and always gives WAY more support than is deserved. So I questioned it... But I think it does count!

And here's why:   The Liebster award is for bloggers who have 200 or less followers. I have 3. 

.... are you laughing at me?

Well, go ahead! (Join me.) Cause it's funny. And true. Hah. 

But what I love about this award is how sweet it is!  The award winner is named the sweetest, kindest, nearest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome blog.  Those are some wonderful words right there. And I will gladly (and undeservedly) take any of them. :)

As a Liebster nominee, I am required to:

1. Post 11 things about myself.
2. Answer questions from my nominator. 
3. Choose 11 other bloggers, link them to this post and create 11 questions for them. 
4. Go to their blog and tell them. 

So without further adieu, here are the new bloggers I want to nominate! 

1. Heather at Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes (has a few more than 200) 
2. Emily over at Send Me On My Way
3. Tanya at Leafy Greens and Me
4. Courtney at The-Life Traveler
6. Colin and Rachel at Colin Kai Rachel
8. Katie and Oliver over at The Thompson Family
9. Jessica at Blog Sweet Blog
11. Katie at As We Go

Here are your questions:

1. Favorite drink?
2. Biggest cooking/baking failure?
3. Why did you start a blog?
4. Current favorite blog?
5. If you could live anywhere?
6. Do you prefer cooking or baking?
7. Night Owl or Early bird?
8. Where do you sing the loudest?
9. What is your favorite type of movie and WHY?
10. Current song you are obsessed with and WHY?
11. Aragorn or Legolas? ; ) 

The questions from MY nominator:
    1. if you could  instantly learn a language, what would you pick/why? Elvish. Cause I'm a nerd.
    2. if you were a witch/wizard from Harry potter what would your patronus be? A baby bear. Because it's my favorite animal, because baby is more feminine (ha) and because when it comes to protecting (mainly others) I think I would be fierce -- no playing around. Also, I wouldn't consider myself stealth or sneaky and I don't consider bears to be those either. :)
    3. that song that you sing to really loudly in the car. Right now? Heartlines by Florence and the Machine, Cold is the Night by the Oh Hello's, and Young Blood by the Naked and the Famous. 
    4. If you were allowed to choose what you were going to look like at the time of your birth, what would you pick out: Well I used to say tall, dark skin, dark hair etc but now I think I would say just a few inches taller, longer /leaner limbs, still fair skin, with TRUE strawberry blonde hair (more on the strawberry side) and I'd keep my brown eyes. But I'd have naturally dark eyelashes with no dark circles under my eyes. ;) 
    5. Does your head or heart lead you in decision making? Usually my heart but the past few years have morphed me into hearing my head speak. I still have to CHOOSE to follow my head but at least I can hear it now. 
    6. the most courageous dare you’ve ever taken or told someone else to do. Courageous? Sounds valiant and I have done no such dare. But one time I did dare my friend to lick the inside of my dog's kennel. 
    7. What is a small silly personal goal you are proud to have accomplished? That I get up everyday and go to work. It's a normal thing that people do everyday but it goes against every fiber in my being to go sit at a desk all day. But I'm proud of myself for doing it even though I don't want to and supporting myself as a result. 
    8. The most confusing instructions you were ever given? Any driving directions my mother tries to give me. (love you mom). : )
    9. what was your most prized childhood toy? My stuffed animal Bear bear. Or my beanie baby - Nuts (the squirrel). What can I say? I'm relational. ; )
    10. The worst job/occupation you’ve ever done? I've actually had some pretty good jobs. But one catering job I had was so hard my body ached for days after. And, every time I took dirty dishes to the kitchen the smell made me want to barf. I came pretty close to doing so after the 597th time I walked by.  
    11. What is a style / way of dressing that you secretly appreciate but most people would be surprised if you actually wore it. Early 1900s (before the 20s). I'm pretty sure I'd get some looks. Also, I absolutely love the feel of outdoors-y wear but get comments when I wear it. Apparently I seem to girly to be sporting gear? 
    12. Poof, you have suddenly been bequeathed a hidden talent, and it is: Painting or Carpentry or playing the piano (esp this). I feel like those would be such wonderful stress relievers, means of expression and hobbies.  

11 details about me and my life:

1. Baking is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress.
2. My all time favorite vacation was to the Harry Potter Theme Park when I was 23. (nerdy?)
3. I have no shame in belting it out in the car. Or in the shower. 
4. My last boyfriend was in 8th grade. (Can I help it if only old men are attracted to me??) 
5. I have a strange obsession with Giada De Laurentiis. Why I need every cookbook of hers is
    unknown to me. 
6. I sometimes run from the bathroom and jump into my the creepy monster under the bed won't get me, duh.  
7. I can't hold in tears. My heart gets tugged at the slightest of events too. Not a good combo. 
8. I tend to be overly loyal. If I believe in something or love someone I will fight for it (or them)
    until the end. I wish this was a romantic & sweet characteristic about me... but normally it
    just ends up kicking me in the rear-end. 
9. I hate mayo, walmart and roaches more than most things. 
10. My first day in my college Mountain Biking class, I rode out with two (gorgeous) guys and my
      instructor. Instead of successfully jumping the curb like the other guys, I hit it and fell over on
      the pavement. #thisismylife 
11. God loved me first. Therefore I love Him. By His grace alone, I have eternal life in Him. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Farm Tour!

Hello! I have not been doing so hot on my weekly posts. ;) I've been a busy woman touring farms, attending weddings in Tennessee ...sleeping? yes. All of the above. Life needs to slow down.

However, this warm spring weather (and super encouraging friends) is helping me jump back on the posting train with a lot of excitement. (yeay!). First let's start with the farm tour.  (Next post is a delicious Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Brownie Bar... ohmygah.)

My beautiful friend Sarah and I decided to take part in the First Annual Midlands Farm Tour. She has wonderful blog and is an amazing photographer. (Please don't judge me for my iPhone pics. They really don't stand a chance to her beauties.) Instead, just check out her Farm Post and gorgeous photos here!

I first heard about the farm tour from one of the local vendors at Soda City (Columbia's Farmers Market on Main Street -- check it out!). There were 11 participating farms all throughout the midlands. Sadly, it was only for two days and we couldn't visit them all (not even half! so sad). But we did get to visit two of the farms and boy am I glad we chose those.

Overall, there were several key values that I loved about these two farms:
1. They are concerned with the quality and nutritional value of their products.
2. They are proactive to maintain their principals on the farm.
3. They are honest, hard working farmers.

Doko Farms was our first stop. Doko has been a family owned farm since the mid 1800s. It was a small, quaint farm where the animals could roam free and enjoy the land and sunlight. We were able to partake in the guided tour which was fascinating! We got to walk around the farm, learn about the breeds, learn why they chose those breeds and see how they lived their day to day lives. It. was. awesome. (!!!!).

We are excited to do this tour. ;) 

Joe and his wife amanda now run the farm and choose a Heritage Breed for their poultry, pork and lamb.  They prefer it for the superior meat (eggs included) that it provides. All the animals are pasture raised without antibiotics or hormones. They are able to graze as needed and fed what best suits their body.

Fun Fact: Apparently, most manufacturers raise Wool Sheep. They do this out of practicality. Once the sheep has met it's wool quota, then it is sent to the slaughter house. Usually that means the sheep is older. The Heritage Sheep at Doko farms are raised for their meat, not their wool. The meat is said to be more flavorful and they do not produce wool like Wool Sheep do. Interesting! (oh... that's only interesting to me?? ...)

As for the chickens, they are a Heritage Breed as well (remember poultry, pork and lamb). And this is where I can attest to their superior flavor of meat and eggs. You can taste the difference in farm raised vs store bought. Go test it out for yourself!! Once the chickens are ready to harvest, they are sent to the Kings Tree humanely raised processing plant.

The pork I have not tasted yet but am looking forward to it!! We bought some sausage and I plan to cook myself a delish breakfast here soon. It's weird to say right after that... but those pigs were ADORABLE! Seriously, I might want one.

Ok, this guy isn't exactly adorable... but the babies were!! Sarah got good pics of those!

 Really bad shot. I only have an iPhone so no judging allowed. 


Wil-Moore Farms was our second stop. I absolutely love this vendor at Soda City. I usually buy my eggs from them and have been drooling over their meat and butter (to make Ghee with). They are such a sweet family!

The pardoned family pet Shank. 

They have chickens, cattle, pork and goat. They are a certified organic farm and almost all of the animals are free range. They recently had to place their chickens in large cages due to the growing number of predators.

What I so value about this family farm is the way they strive to live by their principals. Since I have bought their eggs for months now, I knew that the chickens were previously free range. So when I asked Keith (the farmer) when they had moved the chickens into cages, his response was astounding. He told me that everyone wants to live ideally. Their family wants to farm ideally. But sometimes, the ideal lifestyle isn't realistic. But even when you can't live ideally, you can still live by your principals.

This is where the cages came into play. He told me that free range was the ideal lifestyle that he wanted for the chickens. However, the predators that were eating his chickens was a growing issue. As this family is supported by the farm only, the financial loss for each chicken was a problem they couldn't continue to have. He was loosing money by loosing these chickens to predators. As such, he had to give up the ideal lifestyle but he refused to give up his principals. As an organic farmer, he lowered his chicken count to meet the organic requirements so that they would have enough room to move and be comfortable. He sacrificed the number of chickens that he could make money on in order to continue to live by his principals.

That is a family farm I want to support. People who live by their principals. People who show respect not only to others, but also to animals -- who are also God made creatures, are they not?

Both Wil-Moore and Doko Farms had many more wonderful features that I would love to tell you about, but I do realize not everyone loves farms like I do. You can check out their site via the links above. They are both honest and quality geared farms that are worth supporting!

Thanks to Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) and Whole Foods Market for sponsoring The Midlands Farm Tour. It was wonderful!



Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Things have been super crazy around here (and by crazy I mean I've been sleeping around the clock). As such, there has not been as much time to cook, take pictures and blog. SO, I figured this was the perfect time to keep it short and sweet and tell you about my fabulous trip to Austin, Texas.

My friend Kristy had a quilting conference in Austin (the first ever QuiltCon!). She was looking for friends to join her so that she'd have people to explore and eat with outside of the conference. Well, it just so happens that my friend (and co-worker!) Mary and I were the perfect match for this quest of hers and we agreed whole heartedly to travel, eat and explore Austin.

In the morning we'd drop Kristy off at the conference, gallivant around all day and then pick her up and head out to dinner! By the end of dinner we were all exhausted.... so we didn't actually make it to a night out on the town. Which might be a shame... BUT considering I've been sleeping around the clock right now anyway, did you really think I was a party animal?

not. so. much.

Anyway, we had fantastic advice on where to eat. Everywhere we went I was blown away by the quality of food, the standard of service, the knowledge of what ingredients are IN the food and how much awesome free range, humanely raised and hormone free beef there was. YEAH BABY.

The steak melted in my mouth. IT MELTED.

Austin had fantastic food, friendly (and active) people, gorgeous landscape, and a fantastic farmers market!! Also, it smelled like brisket everywhere. Not necessarily a bad thing.

I would definitely go back if I wasn't on a budget (there are lots of places to go people!) and if I did, I would eat at food truck. (Can you believe we didn't?!? It's called too much food; not enough time.)

Enjoy the pics! Keep Austin Weird.


Headed to the conference. First Day!

Educational Tours... 

 Motivational Speeches.. 

Vermicelli Cakes with Ginger Pork, mint, jalapeƱos and poached eggs.

Favorite Meal! 

Raw and Vegan Cheesecake!!! It was amazing.

Shady Grove 
This was so freakin good.

 More educational tours! Thanks to my friend Mary. ; )

 Two of my favorite people ever!!! 

                                                            Oh yeah. and then I got strep.

The End.