Mr and Mrs’ Sweet and Spicy Homemade Granola Bars!

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img_0180Granola bars, energy bars, protein bars, etc. have been a staple of my life since high school. They an easy snack to grab on the go, and I always have a few varieties on hand. But even the healthiest bars out there are not as healthy as making them at home.

At the beginning of the year, when we tried out Whole 30, we started experimenting with making our own cereal (recipe to come soon) and granola bars. Using Nature Valley’s Sweet and Salty Dark Chocolate and Chili bar as our muse, we modified a basic granola bar recipe we found online, and we were very happy with the results.

Ingredients:

¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup unsalted roasted almonds

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

⅓  cup honey

¼ unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp chia seeds

¼ tsp kosher salt

¼ mini semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 bars of at least 70% cacao dark chocolate

2 tsps cayenne pepper (or more if you like spicy!)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking oil.
  2. Roughly chop the almonds
  3. Put oats and almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Add pumpkin seeds and peanuts to the bowl and mix
  5. Melt chocolate bars in a double boiler. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the chocolate is melted. Right before you take it off the heat, add the cayenne pepper and mix well.
  6. Pour chocolate onto prepared baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the whole pan. Allow to cool while prepping the other ingredients.
  7. Combine the butter, honey, vanilla, chia seeds and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally.
  8. Pour the butter mixture over the oats and nuts. Add the cayenne pepper. Mix well.
  9. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and then add the mini chocolate chips and stir gently to combine.
  10. Pour the oat and nut mixture over the chocolate. Use a rubber spatula to spread the oat and nut mixture evenly over the chocolate. Press firmly to make sure the whole mixture sticks together well.
  11. Put the pan into the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.
  12. Cut up the bars into squares or rectangles and put in an airtight container.
  13. Place them back in the fridge for an hour or two before enjoying.
  14. Store in a cool place.

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Mr & Mrs Travel Thursday: Spotlight on Sturgeon Bay!

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img_3075Rob and I added a new vacation destination to our repertoire this summer. Friends of ours have a family home in Sturgeon Bay, WI that they travel to each summer. Rob has been multiple times over the years, but this was my first experience in Door County. It was the most anticipated trip of the summer for me and it did not disappoint. Aside from spending time with good friends, there are a few moments that have stuck with me since we got back.

Best Memories

–In the backyard of a restaurant, enjoying drinks around a bayside bonfire, catching up with friends. It was our first night and it just was the relaxing “welcome to Sturgeon Bay” we needed.

–The epic 8 hour sailing adventure that we weren’t expecting to be a part of. While I wish the sailing adventure hadn’t included me getting sick over the side of the boat, I enjoyed being a part of the complexities of such a large vehicle being propelled forward by wind alone.

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Favorite Foods

–The swedish pancakes at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sister Bay.

–The homemade peach rings from the Door County Candy Store in Sturgeon Bay. Seriously. I didn’t know candy could taste so fresh!

 

Favorite Activities 

–Napping in a hammock, listening to the boats on the bay and the waves lapping at the shore.

–Enjoying cocktails on the lawn as the sun set over the bay, playing some intense games of Exploding Kittens with our friends.

Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs: The Way the Crow Flies!

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img_2418The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald

4 out of 5 stars

Recommended: Yes

I’ve heard that it took Ann-Marie years to complete The Way the Crow Flies. After the first 50 pages, I understood why. It was obvious that an immense amount of research and thought had gone into this book. It had themes and history that made me curious. And it made me stop and think many times about the peculiarities of the way humans interact.

Ann-Marie’s keen observation skills are evident in the way she meticulously depicts each main character through their dialogue and descriptions of their thought processes. She is particularly precise when she describes the world through the eyes of a child so vividly. Many adults lose the ability to hold onto how they interacted with the world as a child, but Ann-Marie nailed it. This kind of observation is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced to get it to the exceptional point it was in The Way the Crow Flies.

She also delved deep into the history of the Cold War and WWII and found unique historical events that the average person probably hasn’t learned about. Weaving these events into the plot of the story gave it an intriguing edge over other historical fictions I have read because I felt like I was learning about these two wars for the first time.

Aside from the time it took to make sure the story was historically accurate and to skillfully make the characters come to life, it could not have been easy, and probably took the most time, to write about the uncomfortable and gruesome plot points that were a main part of the book. These three things alone would be no easy feat to get right, but doing all three things and doing them extraordinarily well makes Ann-Marie a stand out author and The Way the Crow Flies a stand out book for me this year. 

Mrs is Flipping a House: Update 2!

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ballycastle-01After seven weeks and one day, the renovation phase of this project has wrapped and the house is currently on the market! The last half of the process was full of more choice swear words, more late nights, and a lot of crying.

I made two large mistakes at the beginning of the project and those mistakes came back to bite me at the end. Think: finding out a toilet drain wasn’t connected to the sewer line and having to fire a contractor who wasn’t pulling his weight. The plumbing issue could not have been avoided but had I gotten an inspection at the beginning of the project I would have had a road map as to what NEEDED to be done (the plumbing) vs what would have been nice to do (paint the exterior). Instead I did the, “what would be nice to do” list before I did some of the needed list and that is how our budget doubled.  The other mistake could have been avoided had I listened to my gut and not hired the contractor in the first place.

BUT despite all the tears, frustrations and stress, I am excited to learn from my mistakes and get started on the next project!

*To see more progress shots, follow me on Instagram and like my Facebook page!

Mrs Gets a Personal Credit Card!

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After 9 years of not having a credit card, I decided I was ready to take that level of adulting on again. I told Rob that I wanted a card that gave me cash back and that looked pretty and impressive coming out of my wallet (hello, black Amex!). After a couple hours of research he had found a card for me through Chase with no annual fee, 1% cash back on regular purchases, 3% cash back at restaurants and bars (which is where I typically use my personal credit card) and no annual fee. Having no annual fee was particularly important because I’m not going to spend enough on this card for the cash back to cover an annual fee. The only cons to this otherwise perfectly matched card is that it is not very pretty (maroon, silver and generic) and it’s an AARP branded card. Little did we know before this search, but you don’t have to be a member of AARP or even be 65+ years of age to get an AARP branded card. And really this was less of a negative to me as it was just plain funny.

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Aftermath of mistakenly using my card on a scam website!

Despite the card not being the beaut I was hoping for, it hit the rest of my must-haves. No one outside of family and friends have commented on the AARP branding, but I am excited for the day when a server takes the card and does a double take trying to figure out if I really do look this good at 65+!

 

Mrs is Flipping a House: Update!

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We are halfway through the renovation phase of the flipping process! It has been a crazy three weeks full of excitement, a few choice swear words, late nights, and unexpected problems. We have learned a lot about lawn care and interior painting, but we are looking forward to future projects (and hiring out more of the rehab next time). There are many activities in life where the phrase “If you want it done right, do it yourself” apply, but rehabbing a house (unless you are a handy person or contractor) is not one of those activities.

Putting the stress of learning new skills in a short amount of time aside, I have been enjoying finalizing the design, making endless runs to Home Depot, organizing the contractors and timeline, and watching the progress unfold. It is amazing how a house can starts looking new and fresh even with the rehab only partially finished.

Mrs’ 6 Things to do on Catalina Island!

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I first discovered Catalina Island six years ago when I joined Rob’s family on a vacation there. The minute I stepped off the boat I was hooked. It looks and feels like a small European beach town with it’s multi colored buildings, cobblestone pedestrian-only road, and the hill that it’s built into. Visiting Avalon on Catalina Island is an easy way to escape during the summer and feel like you are much further away from reality than you are. Here are 6 tips for planning your next (or first) trip to Catalina Island!

1– Start Vacay on the boat ride over! Catalina Island is 26 miles off the coast of LA and will take about an hour to get there by boat. Start your vacation with The Catalina Express’ famous spicy Bloody Mary and look out the window for passing dolphins!

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Sunset and the line for Big Olaf’s

2– Cool off with Ice Cream at Big Olaf’s! Enjoying a heaping scoop of your favorite classic flavor in a homemade waffle cone while you walk along the beach at sunset.

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View from Table 1

3- Get Wiki Whacked at Luau Larry’s! Enjoy a fruity, tropical beverage at Table 1 where you can people watch, smell the fresh air and feel the brisk ocean breeze.

 

4- See the Stunning Views with a Hike or Run! Rob and I do this loop (https://runkeeper.com/user/154099350/route/4357063) several times on our trips to Catalina and the views (and steep, steady inclines) are breathtaking!

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5- Pamper Yourself at Descanso Beach Club! Rent a pair of lounge chairs or a cabana in the club area of the beach and enjoy not having to get up for anything while you relax under the sun. You can also enjoy the private beach area for $2/day if the lounges and cabanas aren’t your thing.

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6- Experience the Sea Life by Snorkeling! Rent a mask and some fins and enjoy the many colorful creatures of the sea at either Lover’s Point or Casino Point. The amount of tropical fish you see will make you forget you’re only 26 miles off the coast of LA!

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Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs!

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IMG_2419Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

3 out of 5 stars

Recommended: Yes!

Fingersmith is more than  500 pages and it felt a bit daunting to start. However, I was drawn in right away because of the strong, female lead character. As I continued to read, she was joined by other strong, female characters and that pulled me in even more. It was a thrilling look at feminism, nature versus nurture, and love. Getting to know these women as they found their voices and strength in a time when women weren’t allowed to be strong was inspiring. And that combined with all of the curve balls that Sarah Waters threw, had me desperate to know what would happen next. I found myself reading late into the night on many occasions.

The only thing I struggled with was the time period. I am not as familiar with the Victorian Era in Britain and every now and then I found it hard to immerse myself in the story because I didn’t know the history that they were alluding to or I got tripped up by the pronunciation of certain words.

However, the pros definitely outweighed the cons and it was a great beginning of summer read!

Mrs is Flipping a House!

Two months ago, we moved to Dallas, TX. The sole purpose of this move was to launch my real estate developing career. Finally, after seeing 30+ properties and researching 5+ Dallas neighborhoods, I found my first deal! I am the proud owner of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home that needs a bit of love and updating before it can be sold to the next proud owners!

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I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together the scope of work for the rehab, getting bids for various tasks, and figuring out a realistic timeline to get it all done in. Our profit margin is very tight, so Rob and I are going to be doing a chunk of the work ourselves. I wasn’t expecting to be this hands on, but we are excited to learn a lot of new skills. I will be posting updates periodically, but if you want behind the scenes footage and more before and after pics, follow me on Instagram and like my page on Facebook!