Homemade Granola Bars

One thing I love to eat but hate to buy is granola bars. Their size and nutritional value never seems to live up to their price. But they're such a convenient snack to grab when you're running out the door. The only solution to this very first-world problem is to make them yourself. That way you know exactly what's in them and a pan of about twelve bars costs less than five bucks.

With this in mind, when my friend Susie posted her recipe for homemade granola bars on her blog, Clean Eats Pink Treats, I immediately pinned it. That was six months ago. Susie used a Barefoot Contessa recipe for inspiration and made some healthy additions and substitutions with ingredients like flax, coconut oil and Splenda. If you're like me and don't have these ingredients already in your pantry, please don't let that hold you back for half a year. As I discovered, this recipe is incredibly flexible. I didn't have ground flax, so I increased the coconut oil. All out of almonds, so I used chopped walnuts. Brown sugar, instead of Splenda. Easy peasy. I also decided at the last minute to chuck in some chocolate chips. One thing you should remember, though, is that the mixture is warm, so you should let it cool a bit before you add chips or even just sprinkle them on top after baking. Otherwise they will melt immediately into chocolate soup. Still tasty, but messy.

Long story short (sort of), Susie's subtitle "ridiculously delicious bars" is spot on. They were a huge hit in our house and a second batch is requested for this week. I hope you'll try them too, experiment with the ingredients and let me know how they turned out in the comments below.

Homemade Granola Bars
via Clean Eats Pink Treats

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds (I used walnuts instead)
1/2 cup ground flax (or 4 tbsp coconut oil)
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar (or 4 tbsp regular brown sugar)
1 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries and dates)

Preheat oven to 350. Spread oats and almonds on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and reduce oven heat to 300. Combine oats and almonds with ground flax in a bowl.

In a sauce pan over medium heat combine honey, peanut butter, vanilla, coconut oil, and brown sugar. Cook together until its well blended and smooth. Remove from heat and pour over oats, almonds and flax. Add in dried fruit and stir well to combine. Pour into the bottom of a 9x9 pan lined with foil or parchment. Bake for 30 minutes.

Allow the pan to cool for a few hours to bring to room temperature before cutting. If you cut them too soon, they'll be really crumbly. Store in an air tight container.

[Update: I made this again with the flax and they came out super dry and crumbly. I recommend skipping the flax and using more coconut oil.]

Poppytalk Handmade: Love Transforms

3. Previously 4. Fair Morning Blue

I'm loving all the pink that has flooded Poppytalk Handmade for their love-themed market. I'm sure we could all use a little more warm and fuzzy this time of year, so be sure to check it out! xo

Slow Living

Here's a little peak at what I've been up to since the holidays. In a nutshell, it's been a glorious example of slow living. When I wasn't sleeping, I was snacking, reading, and crafting to my heart's content. I wish it could last forever, but of course, all of this is about to change as I gear up for the One of a Kind Show. At least I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it while it lasted and know that I am jumping into this new adventure fully rested and re-energized!

I bought my resident chocoholic a set of three Mast Brothers bars for Christmas and we were thrilled to discover that the chocolate was as beautiful as the packaging. They were incredibly delicious. We wanted to make them last, but who were we kidding, they were gone within the week and Mikey J is already planning another order.

Tis' the season to get out the woolies, and thus I've started to crochet yet another baby afghan. As a lover of taupe, green and cream, I was drawn to this variegated yarn in the store and didn't realize until I got home that it's basically camo. Haha! It'll suit a boy, I suppose.

A friend of mine recently commented that she didn't see me as a graphic novel type, which is funny because I love them! Mikey J came home with the second volume of Fables  recently and it was immediately consumed over two evenings. So good!

I think I mentioned before that I've been trying to get into looseleaf tea and I've been enjoying experimenting with various blends from David's Tea, Ceylon Tea Bush, and Steeped. Would you like me to share my favourites when I'm done?

We treated ourselves to a new TV with our Christmas money this year and many, many hours were spent obsessively configuring it to Mikey J's standards (as seen here). We watched quite a few movies in the process and have nearly seen all of the Oscar noms now.

Of course I couldn't escape from sewing completely. A few orders trickled in after the holidays, and I jumped at the chance just so I could test some of the new sewing tools I received in my stocking, like this handy dandy Nancy Zieman seam guide. Woo!

One of a Kind News

I hope everyone is having a great start to new year! Mine has certainly brought a few surprises already, the main one being my acceptance to the One of a Kind Show this Spring! A few months ago, the One of a Kind Show and Etsy announced that they were partnering up for the Spring show to give some of the smaller Etsy businesses a foot in the door of the largest consumer craft show in North America. I couldn't see how I could pass up that kind of opportunity, so I applied, not thinking at all that I would actually get in. And then I got the phone call! My body has been juggling shock, excitement and pure terror ever since, and I don't expect that situation to change until April 1st. I have no idea how to prepare for 60,000 shoppers. All I know is, I better start sewing. So much for the relaxing winter I had planned. Haha! 2013... full steam ahead!

My Workroom

I recently applied for a craft show that required me to include photos of my workroom. No problem, surely I have some somewhere. Many hours of searching later, I realized I indeed had none! Shame on me, considering how much I enjoy photos of other artists' studios. So, please excuse me for not inviting you earlier... welcome to my workroom!

Basically, my workspace takes up the entire top floor of the two-story condo apartment I share with my boyfriend. When I moved in (almost four years ago, now), we fully intended to make the space an office/library. We installed a walk-in closet, hardwood flooring, and bookshelves and even purchased a custom-sized couch to fit! Less than a year later, Dear Edna was born, and as we watched it take over our entire apartment, it became clear that our library vision had to take a backseat to make room for cutting tables, sewing machines, and fabric storage. 

This is actually the top level of the building, so it opens out onto two beautiful rooftop patios, which spoils me with both natural light to work with and outdoor space in the warmer months. We spend as much time out there as we can, gardening, cooking, entertaining and relaxing. We love it so much and will miss it most of all if we ever move.

Sitting at this desk is actually where I spend most of my time, at least during the work week. I'm a full-time copy editor, remember? I like to surround myself here with things that make me happy, like this vintage poster we brought back from Paris.

Fabric storage and organization is a constant struggle, and what you see here is not even the half of it. There are at least ten bolts stored at my parents' house right now. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Creating this space was the best thing I could've done for my business. Words can’t describe how nice it is to have my fabric on display, all my tools within arm’s reach, natural sunlight and a dedicated space to just create. I still thank my lucky stars every day that I sit down to work here!