The recipe that I adapted these breakfast clusters from named them "guilt free cookies".
...but if something doesn't have sugar and about a stick of butter... then sister, it ain't a cookie in my book. It qualifies as appropriate breakfast food. So I tweaked the recipe and then gave them to a certain one-year-old who let out a big "mmmm!" and that, my friend, is enough for me to say I knocked it out of the park on the breakfast clusters. Two thumbs up, five stars, all that good stuff.
And personally I really don't like breakfast.
I know this goes against all the rules of being a good, healthy human being. But it's the truth. I just have a hard time fitting breakfast into my day. And I don't like feeling overly full first thing in the morning. I love breakfast foods, you see. Just don't like eating them at breakfast time. So these are perfect for grabbing on my way out the door and eating while I'm driving to work.
Plus, since it's no secret that I'm anti-domestic in every way... you know if I make something it's got to be brainless. Zero room for error.
Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner.
So without further ado, here's how it's done.
Oatmeal Breakfast Clusters
2 large ripe bananas
2/3 cups applesauce
2 cups oats
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used the Trader Joe's orange-flavored dried cranberries)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Combine bananas, applesauce, milk and cinnamon with a hand mixer. Fold in oats, cranberries and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
There you have it. I'm telling you. Easy as cake (you know what... easier than cake). The beauty of this recipe is it really is fool-proof. You can add whatever add-ins sound good or whatever you have on hand. I just happened to use dried cranberries and chocolate chips this time. Just make sure whatever you decide to use adds up to 1/2 cup and you should be golden. Next time I'm going to try adding almonds (because I'm so wild).
a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014
The tunnel in the Dennis the Menace park in Monterey was by far Sage's favorite part of the park. There was a huge, famous park for this little boy to explore and all he wanted to do was run back and forth through a granite tunnel.
Sage and I have gotten ourselves to a very good place when it comes to jumping in the car and driving to wherever we please. We went from needing up to a week of planning and prep time to needing almost no time and jumping in the car with about an hour notice. After field testing lots of different strategies I think I've come to a place where I can finally share some of my tried and tested tips for traveling with a little person in tow.
1. Technology is awesome.
I would love to start this post out by saying that I don't rely on the iPad or travel DVD player, and that we drive cross-country with only wooden puzzles and organic fruit snacks, but this simply is not the case. The Lord put me on the Earth in in a time when iPads exist and it is a large reason we are able to pick up and go with little to no problems from the person in the back seat. The trick with technology is to find something that works for your child and go with it. Sage has a special place in his heart for The Lorax, Up, and Brave. We watched Brave on a loop during this last drive, and I say if it ain't broke don't fix it. The most important part of this is to pick quality movies that you as the driver don't mind listening to. This is the sole reason why my child loves the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox. Because the child isn't the only one that needs to survive the car trip, you want to get to your destination with as many as your wits as possible, too. These are all movies that I don't mind listening to and that Sage enjoys watching. Win win.
Some apps worth downloading are the SoundTouch app the Disney Junior app, and the Puzzle is Fun app. And while in the iTunes store, a couple episodes of your child's favorite shows are worth downloading to have in your bag for times when you're stuck waiting at a restaurant or for a cab. If you're really in a pinch search "Little Einsteins full episodes" on youtube and you can stream full episodes. Lifesaver, I tell ya.
2. Snacks are awesome.
The key to road trip snacking is having snacks that are easy for your child to eat independently. These snack cups are the end-all-be-all of baby snacking on the go. Fill one with fruit snacks and one with cookies (for when you're getting desperate and you're in need of a bribe). I've found that the mini white Oreos or Nilla Wafers are the best travel snacks, because regular Oreos are messy and stain clothes if your drooling teething baby gets any on their collar. Stick to light colored snacks. Sage also eats a lot of these pouches while we travel. I didn't buy them for the longest time because they are a bit pricey, but after seeing how much easier my life got with them in it I was sold. True love. Pirate's Booty is fun to eat and fun to say (and healthy. and delicious. I bring the Pirate's Booty mostly for myself if we're being honest).
3. Bring a diaper bag.... to leave in the car.
I'm not a fan of diaper bags because I think they're bulky and usually pretty ugly. I also hate having straps that are constantly falling off my arm while I'm trying to pump gas/sign something/chase the baby who is running away from me. Instead I opt for a large cross body bag that is big enough for your stuff and your child's stuff. The bag just needs to be able to fit a wallet, phone, chapstick (always chapstick), diaper, travel wipes, a couple snacks, and a sippy cup. I can usually fit an extra outfit in there for any just-in-case moments if we're going to be out for a day trip, but for the most part I just leave those sorts of things in the car. Find a spot for your camera and you're ready to go.
4. Make pajamas the outfit of choice.
If your child is going to be stuck in a carseat for a long stretch of time, at least make sure they're comfortable. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of baby skinny jeans and cardigans, but long car rides call for some cute pajamas. These are a favorite at our house, plus the dinosaur skeleton is glow in the dark which is cause for little boy celebration in itself. If you want your child to sleep in the car (and you do) make them as comfortable as possible. A favorite blanket adds bonus points.
5. Get a little stroller.
This last trip we took to Monterey I realized when we got there that I had forgotten to pack the stroller. This was a problem. Because I have an awesome stroller with all the bells and whistles. So in a pinch I went to Target and bought a little umbrella stroller. This ended up being perfect because we were able to maneuver in and out of places easier, it slid under tables in restaurants while eating, and it was easy to collapse and throw in the back of a cab at the end of the day. If you aren't doing full day trips and just need a stroller for walking around the city, I highly recommend getting a small stroller.
6. Chances are there will be a Target there.
This goes along with #5 in that if you do end up forgetting something, it's not hard to run to the store and get a replacement. Remember any medicine, glasses, phone... and the rest is fairly easy to pick up when you get there and have that "oh crap!" moment in the hotel room. Its safe to just plan on needing a trip to Target when you reach your destination. Mine is always for a razor. I can't seem to ever remember that dang razor.
7. Pack in open baskets.
I like packing for trips in open baskets instead of suitcases. This is a trick I picked up while I was a nanny, and it does wonders. If you're packing in suitcases it's really hard to get in and out of them while you're traveling, but in open baskets you can see what you need and grab for it easily. These bins are ones that I would order if I didn't already have some. It also makes things easier once you're in the hotel room, because you're not constantly folding and unfolding to find something in a suitcase. I pack a bin for myself, a bin for Sage, a bin for snacks to keep up front, and a small bin for toiletries.
8. Give your child choices for the car.
There's beauty in giving your child a couple of choices in car activities. On the seat next to Sage's car seat I pack another open bin with his snacks, juice cup, a couple of cardboard books and a couple of different toys that he might like to play with in the car (new toys are an added bonus). This way he gets to look through the bin and see what I've packed for him and decide for himself what he wants to play with, look at, or eat and when. If nothing else looking through the bin will eat up some drive time.
9. Plan an activity before driving.
I've had road trips where we left at 5 in the morning and I've had road trips where we left at 3 in the afternoon, and there is no question about which is easier on us. Afternoon departures work best for us because I can plan a trip to the ocean for the morning, go to a park, get lunch, and then get in the car when Sage is tired and ready for a nap. It's not the most convenient way to travel, and I love getting places early, but it's worth at least planning some activity to get the energy out before getting in the car.
10. Map out the In-N-Outs on your drive.
This one's for you, mama. Because sometimes you need an animal fry and extra large Diet Coke pit-stop to look forward to when the drive seems endless.
Travel on, adventurers. There's a lot of world to see!
Sage is feeling sick as heck and not up to playing on Photo Booth tonight, and this picture is the living and breathing proof of it. But this picture also makes me laugh. He's so dramatic. I sent this picture to someone with the caption "look how much fun he's having!" which might possibly make me a bad person. Oops.
I'm going to go ahead and preface this by saying that this post is nonsense. Phew, glad I got that off my chest.
For some reason the universe makes four day work weeks the longest weeks of them all. I know that scientifically this is all wrong but I would be tempted to bet some money on it. A mystery of the universe for sure. I think it has something to do with all good things needing to be laced with a little bit of bad (or something like that). But this week has been dragging on something fierce as short weeks consistently do, so I'm celebrating Wednesday because Friday just isn't coming fast enough. I am also reliving in my mind the warm and wonderful three day weekend that we just enjoyed.
We packed up the car and took ourselves to Monterey this weekend because that's just what you have to do when you catch wind that the weather there is flirting with the low 80s. I have to tell you right now that I might be cheating on San Francisco a bit with Monterey. Maybe it's the sand dunes. Maybe it's the fact that everyone treated Sage like the little king that he thinks he is. (This might have something to do with that SF Giants hat he refuses to take off. We were in Giant's country this weekend, no question about that.) Everyone from the chef at the breakfast restaurant to the homeless man on the corner introduced themselves to Sage. The lady running the Old Monterey City Hall museum let him tell her a ridiculously long story about who knows what while pretending to hang onto every word he said. She heard us playing on the City Hall grounds the next day (in a place called "The Friendly Plaza", so there you go) and came out on the balcony of the city hall and yelled "Is that my Jonas?! Back already?!" And may I just add that Sage played off the name confusion like a champion and didn't mind being called Jonas for half a second. He just shot his hand straight up and yelled back "Heeeey DAHHHH!" which she explained to us is his way of saying Hi Donna "because the kids call me Auntie Dah and don't you tell me that's not what he's trying to say".
Donna looks like Monterey's own Iris Apfel...and you don't argue with Iris Apfel/Auntie Dah because, well you just don't. If you don't know who Iris Apfel is, look her up on Google images because those glasses will knock your socks off. Then watch Bill Cunningham's New York on Netflix because it's great.
Well I really have gotten myself off on a tangent, now haven't I? What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Sage's ability to make friends anywhere and everywhere. Really makes him a convenient wing man and travel companion. That and his ability to behave in the car for long stretches at a time.
But now we're home and I'll write more about Monterey later, but for now I can hear Sage coughing in his crib. He's caught himself a terrible cold since being back, making a long week feel longer and being back in the cold weather feel worse than I imagined. Like we were welcomed back from a weekend in shorts with a slap in the face with a frostbitten hand. Double yuck.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Two more days to the weekend! We can do it, I just know we can;)