Black Pepper Granola recipe from Men’s Health

I’ve grown accustomed to being able to pin awesome articles for later reference using Pinterest.  Every now and then, however, despite a great article, it may not be “pinnable” due to lacking a picture or if the link to the picture is broken.

With that being said,  I came across this Men’s Health article discussing why you should make your own granola.

Since it was not pinnable, I am copying the recipe here so I can pin it and have it for later! Please refer to the link above for the original article and recipe.

Black Pepper Granola

photo from

Black Pepper Granola
Recipe by Jeff Harris, chef of AF+B in Fort Worth, Texas

What you’ll need:
1 1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 1/4 cup oats
1 1/2 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

How to make it:
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. On a large baking sheet, spread the pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds in one layer. Slide the sheet into the oven and cook until aromatic, about 10 minutes. Remove the sheet and allow the ingredients to cool.
2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the water, honey, and grapeseed oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the honey thins, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Transfer half the cooled nuts and seeds to a food processor. Pulse into coarse pieces. Add to a large bowl. Transfer the remaining nuts and seeds to the food processor and pulse into finer crumbs. Add this to the large bowl, along with the oats, black pepper, and salt. Gradually add the thinned honey mixture, stirring until sticky but not wet. (You may not use all of the honey mixture.)
4. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F.  Spread the granola on a greased sheet pan or Silpat and bake the mixture until dark golden brown, stirring a few times during the process, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Can’t believe it’s JULY!!!

Well, Hello there!

I’ve been missing for quite a while I guess.

I actually have another blog called Cleveland Kiddos where I’ve been writing about fun things to do around the city of Cleveland with kids but this is supposed to be my place to write about all the other things that I want to write about and I just haven’t had time.

I really thought summer would mean more time but I’ve been busier than ever!

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to this summer:

I signed up to run in the Akron Marathon Relay on September 27th for my 5th time.  This year I will be running the 3rd leg of the marathon is which is the longest leg at 7.5 miles.  I am also registered to run the Columbus Marathon Half on October 19th for the first time.  This will be my 3rd half marathon.  I’ve done the Rite Aid Cleveland twice.  My goal for my training is to really give it my all and train harder than I’ve ever trained for a race before just so I can really see what I’m made of.  Maybe I’ll write more about running here and if you’re a runner, I would love to hear what races you are doing or any advice you have for me.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time on Lake Erie this summer.  I love collecting beach glass and just enjoying the relaxing sound of the waves and the gorgeous sunsets.




One thing that has really amazed me though this summer is the fact that people will steal anything!

My kids always wear cheap WalMart flip flops to the beach because they love to take their shoes off.  I can’t tell you how many times we have taken a long walk on the beach, only to come back to find that someone has stolen their cheap junky flip flops!  It’s amazing!  I will never get used to the idea of people taking things that don’t belong to them.  Even though I live across the street from the beach, my kids will also sometimes ask to ride their bikes to the beach and so I always make them take the junky ones with missing parts.  I swear people would definitely steal those too as we’ve come back to find the bikes thrown in a ditch… probably because the would-be theives realized it wasn’t worth stealing.

I saw this video today and while I realize that I don’t know the whole story I can’t get over how brazen these women are to be taking the belongings of someone else. Then, they get mad that the owner was recording them?!  I understand that the man who was almost robbed did not press charges but I am more than happy to help make this video viral and expose people like this who have no respect for the fact that people work hard for what they have.  I hope that their friends and family see them and really make them feel ashamed for their audacity.

note: The video contains some bad language. Viewer discretion advised.Read more:

I hope everyone is having a great summer and doesn’t get any of their things stolen by people like this!

I’m looking forward to catching up with all my favorite blogs soon and I do plan on writing more frequently here!

See you soon!

Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest in Cleveland

Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest

Hey football lovers!!!

The largest gathering ever of Pro Football Hall of Famers available to fans is coming to the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio for the first-ever Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest!

This once-in-a-lifetime show of shows will kick off May 3-4.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest will give fans the opportunity of a lifetime to get up close and personal with 100 Hall of Famers including Jim Brown, Joe Namath, Barry Sanders, Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp & Franco Harris among unprecedented gathering of 100 Hall of Famers.

There are four separate shows that make-up the two-day Fan Fest (see showtimes below). Each show will feature different Hall of Famers.

Show 1 – Saturday, May 3 from 10 AM to 3 PM
Show 2 – Saturday, May 3 from 4 PM to 9 PM
Show 3 – Sunday, May 4 from 10 AM to 3 PM
Show 4 – Sunday, May 4 from 4 PM to 9 PM
This ultimate fan experience will have more than one million square feet of engaging activities perfect for everyone from the die-hard to the casual football fan.

For more information, check out their website!

I’m also offering BOGO deal on Tickets over on my blog as well as a giveaway for 2 free general admission tickets.  Go to to enter!

Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest

To catch all the updates about Fan Fest and connect with other fans, follow @ProFootballHOF onTwitterFacebook and Instagram. Join the conversation using #FanFestHOF. – See more at: Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest 

Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland I-X Center to help promote the Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan Fest.  In exchange, I will receive 2 media passes  for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

“Happy!” Monday!

Happy Monday everyone!

Who can watch this video and NOT smile?

Nevermind, I don’t really want to know!

I still am trying to find out what a room without a roof feels like feels like.  Can anyone explain?

Here’s another good one:

I honestly would like to see more people be BRAVE!  Do you think you could ever stand out and dance alone in public like this?

Sometimes I wish I could because crazy stuff like this seems to really take people by surprise and make them smile!

In other news, if you are in the Cleveland area, I’m giving away 4 tickets to see the Lake Erie Monsters hockey play at The Q over on my ClevelandKiddos blog!  Be sure to stop over there and enter to win!

Have a happy day!

How to create a strength-training plan!

I hate to cause a panic but in case you haven’t realized…


4 months till summer! Time to start!


I saw this on Pinterest yesterday and it cracked me up because personally, the fact that summer is just around the corner, has definitely had an impact on my motivation at the gym the last couple of weeks.

Speaking of Pinterest, if you check out my Fitness – Don’t Lift Like a Girl board, you will notice a LOT of  strength training pins (and that’s not even including my four other fitness boards!)

You may have similar types of fitness boards, and if you’ve read through all the different advice on how to get in shape, your head is probably spinning and you’re probably totally overwhelmed about where to begin!

After going through all my pins one night and weeding out the duds, I started to think about the simplest way to create a daily workout plan!

I decided that the most helpful, are the posters that show different exercises for each of the following muscle groups: 

  • Shoulders
  • Biceps and forearms
  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Abs
  • Stretching

Here are the posters.  I’m not sure where they originated but I found them all on sale at

Shoulder Workout

Shoulder WorkoutBicep and forearm workoutBicep and forearm workoutTriceps workoutTriceps workoutChest WorkoutChest WorkoutBack workoutBack workoutLeg workoutLeg workoutAbdominal workoutAbdominal workoutWeight Training StretchesWeight Training Stretches

Have you seen these? I think they are great! Since I have them all pinned on pinterest, I am able to refer to them from my phone at the gym.

So how can you use these posters to create a workout plan?

  1. Decide how many days per week you are going to work out.
  2. Decide which muscle groups you will work out each workout day.
  3. Choose exercises from each poster.  (There are about 8 options per poster. How many different exercises you will do per muscle group really depends on how much time and energy you have for each workout. )

And that’s about it!

I’m definitely not an expert but here are some things I think are important to remember when scheduling your workout:

  • If you are planning on working out every day, I personally believe that you should have a day of rest after working out a muscle group before you work it out again.  (Example: Don’t work your arms out every day! Give those muscles about 48 hours to rest and recover before working them again. If you work arms and chest and upper back one day, you could work your legs and lower back the next day.)
  • I also believe that you should work out opposing muscle groups on the same day to create balance.  (Example, on bicep day, you should also work out your triceps.  If you are working on strengthening your chest, you should also work on your upper back that day.)
  • Try to work out every muscle group at least two times each week.
  • Every workout should start with a warm up of at least 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Stretch the muscles you worked out after every workout.  Stretching feels so good and I consider it one of the best post-workout rewards!

My weekly workout goal is to work out 6 days a week for about an hour and a half each day. Here is an example of how I schedule my workouts:

  • Monday: Chest, Back (upper), Cardio
  • Tuesday: Legs, Back (lower), Abs, Cardio
  • Wednesday: Biceps and forearms, Triceps, Shoulders, Cardio
  • Thursday: Legs, Back (lower), Abs, Cardio
  • Friday: Chest, Arms, Back (upper), Cardio
  • Weekend: I’m a runner so I like to take Saturday off for a rest day, and then do a long run on Sunday and possibly get a 3rd Ab workout in for the week.

If you can only work out a few days a week, there are other options.  For example, if you can only work out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you could do a full body workout each day, choosing a couple exercises from each poster.  

You could also alternate each days workout between an upper body one day and lower body the next.  That type of schedule is good if you can work out 4 days a week.

There is a LOT more to say about strength training, cardio and running that I will cover in future posts.  The purpose of this article was to help you get started creating a workout plan that’s right for you.

Of course, there are also a lot more exercises out there. These posters are a good starting point.  They provide a good variety of different exercises that can be used by beginners and also people who know their way around a weight room.  You can always add other exercises to your routine later, to keep things fun and interesting.

Again, I am not an expert by any means.  These points are based on my personal experience.  You should definitely check with your doctor before you start any exercise routine and make sure your workout fits your personal needs!

Hopefully this article has shown you how easy it is to create your own workout.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Are you a fan of strength training and free weights?  If you have a current strength training plan, what does it look like? Do you have any questions or suggestions I may not have thought of?

Also, if you were motivated to create a plan after reading this post, please let me know and maybe even post a sample of your schedule in the comments!

I can’t wait to hear about your workout!

Monday Mantra: tipping points


So much truth in this!

Originally posted on Gluten Free Gus:

Change is possible

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
― Samuel Smiles

Lots of us talk about wanting to change our dietary habits. Some of us have to for medical or religious reasons. Nothing has confirmed various paths we’re exploring like the short animation: Man: the cruelty of man represented in a cartoon. Talk about “tipping points”!

It’s a challenge to live by the credo: “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but I can’t think of anything much more rewarding.

View original

If school didn’t exist


It’s something we just do.

Where I come from, when you are around 4 to 6 years old, you leave your home to start attending school.  Most parents do not have specialized training in teaching so we do what everyone else is doing.  We send our kids to qualified teachers who have degrees and certifications and who know best what our children need to learn and how they need to learn it.

When the majority of people are doing something a certain way, sometimes we forget to stop and ask if this is really the best way and  if there is a better alternative.

I’ve been thinking about education a lot lately.  I strongly feel that while there are some basic things that we all need to know, as individuals, we all have different interests and goals for ourselves and our children.  Our children also have their own interests and goals.

We don’t always think about it, but when we go to school, we are allowing someone else to decide what our interests and goals should be.  We allow someone else to decide for us what is important to learn.  We let someone else tell us how to spend our days.

Is there a better alternative to public schooling?

What would happen if there were no such thing as public schools?  

I imagine some of the big  questions would include; 

  • How would my kids learn how to read, write, and spell?
  • How would they learn social skills?
  • How would they learn anything?

Let’s have some fun and pretend for a minute that there was no such thing as public school.  This means that there is no provision for someone else to teach your children and there is no required curriculum.

  • Would your child be doomed to be uneducated?
  • What would be required on your part to make sure your child was educated?
  • Do you really need to be certified to teach your child what they need to learn to be successful in life?
  • What would you personally consider to be important to teach your child so they could be properly educated?
  • What are all the ways your child could learn the things you both felt were important?

I know a lot of people who are homeschooling and not sure if they are doing it right and I know others who are thinking about homeschooling and they are scared or overwhelmed about where to begin.  I think considering what life would be like if public school was not even an option is a really good way to begin to figure out what’s really important to you personally.  

I know this is a new blog but I would really like to hear some feedback on this way of thinking.  You can either comment or write about this on your own blog and let me know so I can link to it.  

In my next homeschooling post, I will answer the question I keep getting asked when I tell my friends I am pulling my kids out of public schooling and that is, “What is your plan?”

Ten things you need to teach your children

I just finished reading a great book on homeschooling by John Holt called Teach Your Own.

One of my favorite things in the book are some points he made on pages 45 and 46 about what is required to teach your children:

  • You must like your children. You must enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness and passion.
  • You must enjoy their talk and questions and you should equally enjoy trying to answer those questions.
  • You must think of your children as close friends and feel happier when they are near and miss them when they are away.
  • You must trust them as people.
  • You must respect their fragile dignity.
  • You must treat them with courtesy.
  • You must take them seriously.
  • You must feel in your own heart some of the children’s wonder, curiosity and excitement about the world.
  • You must have enough confidence in yourself and enough skepticism about what the “experts” say.
  • You must be willing to be different from most people and ready to take on the responsibility of your child’s learning.

I’ve been thinking about parent’s relationships with their children a lot lately.  This past winter has been especially unkind here in Ohio and there have been a lot of snow days.  I have heard many parents complaining about their kids being home and driving them crazy and how based on those few days, they know they could never homeschool their children.

I definitely do not judge people when I hear them make comments about how they can’t wait for their kids to go back to school.  I used to be one of those parents.  I know these parents love their children.  They just aren’t used to having their kids home and disrupting their routine.  In our society, sending our kids away is the norm and so we haven’t really trained ourselves how to handle having them in our presence.  I’m not speaking for all parents.  Some parents seem to have a natural inclination for playing and interacting with their children regardless of their school choice.  I’m referring to the parents who are so exasperated by the very presence of our children.

Perhaps homeschooling really is not a viable option for your family at this time.  However, whether we homeschool or send our kids to a learning institution, learning still must happen at home. These points should not serve to make us feel guilty.  We parents seem to be quite good at making ourselves feel guilty without someone else doing that for us.   The reality is there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

What we can do is review the points above and honestly examine where we can work on improving our feelings toward our children so we can be the best teachers possible to them.

My top 5 Education-related Ted Talks

There are so many resources out there if you are looking into alternatives to sending your child to public school.  When I started considering the alternatives,  I had a lot of normal fears associated with doing something outside of the “norm.”

Here are 5 of my favorite Ted Talks on the subject of Education that I found very helpful in the beginning of my search:

Ken Robinson – Bring on the Learning Revolution

Ken Robinson – How to Escape Educations Death Valley

Geoffrey Canada – Our Failing Schools.  Enough is Enough!

John Bennett – Why Math Instruction is Unnecessary (PS… he is a math teacher.)

Logan LaPlante – Hackschooling Makes Me Happy

As always, I really would love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions and concerns!

From “I will never homeschool!” to “Homeschooling is the best!”

Everyone has their own personal reasons for deciding to homeschool their children and so before I start sharing all the awesome reasons to consider homeschooling,  I thought I would share the story of how I went from saying, “NEVER!” to “NEVER say ‘Never'”.

My son and daughter are about 4 years apart and we’ve been homeschooling since 2007.

I used to be totally anti-homeschool!

Maybe you can sympathize with some of the thoughts I used to have about homeschooling;

1) Sending your kids to school is the way it’s always been done.

2) I went to school and I turned out just fine. (Debatable? Perhaps, but we’ll save that for another post.)

3) Most kids who are homeschooled aren’t really well educated, and probably socially awkward.

4) I am not a certified teacher and I personally didn’t see myself as having a natural ability for teaching.  I could never (there’s that word again) give my kids a proper education.

5) I love being with my kids but I can’t wait for a little quiet time back in my day!

So, what caused me to consider homeschooling?

Starting in first grade, my son started asking me to homeschool him.  At first I didn’t even consider asking him why he wanted me to homeschool him.  I assumed I knew the reasons.  He was not a fan of the 6:30 am wake-up call and morning hustle to be on the bus by 7:20 am.  Neither was I.   And most kids would rather be home playing then going to work at school every day.

But he persisted asking me to homeschool him because he was so bored.  During the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade I finally decided to at least look into my schooling options.

What was it that made me change my mind?

My son’s teachers confirmed that he was indeed bored.  He would finish his work and then had to either put his head down on his desk and wait for the class to finish or sometimes he could help tutor other students.

I asked the teachers why they couldn’t give him something more challenging while he waited.  They all explained that with 25 students and one teacher, it was basically impossible to give individual attention to the needs of every student.

Something else they expressed really stuck with me, and anytime anyone asks me why we started homeschooling, I share this with them.  When it comes to the planned curriculum, students basically fall into one of the following 3 catagories;

1) students who are right on target

2) students who are behind, and

3) students who are ahead.

Basically what happens in such a scenario is that the students who are behind, continue to fall farther behind.  The teacher must stay on schedule and move on.  The students who are ahead are usually bored.

Since the teachers were not able to provide challenging work for my child, they suggested I gave him challenging work at home.  I was really already doing this but I found that a big challenge was this; after a long day of school and a couple additional hours of homework each night, there really wasn’t much time or ambition to do extra work.

I finally decided, if I was going to be working to challenge him academically at home, maybe should at least take a peek at some homeschooling options. After considering my options, I found an online public home-school program that  made me excited about trying it.

Why did I choose the public online school?

Well, I was very new to this whole idea.  I literally went from being totally against the idea of homeschooling to being super excited.  I knew of 3 possible homeschooling options;

  • traditional homeschooling (or as I called it, doing your own thing)
  • public online schooling (Books, curriculum, teacher support and computer was provided for free from the state.  Diploma is awarded at graduation.)
  • private homeschooling (You purchase a curriculum and your child does not receive a diploma upon graduation.)

I chose public online schooling because I did not feel qualified to teach my children and I was afraid that without a planned curriculum, my kids would not learn.  Another bonus was that everything I needed to do was paid for by the state!  When I started, I was told that my kids could work at their own pace.  I found about 4 different public online schools and chose the one I thought looked the best.

So obviously, public online homeschooling works for us….. right?

Well, it used to work for us.  The biggest reason I chose homeschooling was so my kids could work at their own pace.  We carefully chose the school we did because I liked the idea of working with my kids and helping them learn.  We had the option of teacher support, but online classroom sessions were optional.  We usually opted out of most classroom connects because like in the brick and mortar school, we were able to master the work in a much shorter time then the class was able to.  For example, for an hour long class connect, we might be able to complete the assignment in 20 minutes on our own.

The BIG problem we are having now is that just like public schools, online public schools are feeling more pressure to score high on the state testing and as a result, they are now adding a lot more mandatory busy-work to the students load.  Classes that used to be optional are now mandatory.  Study Island is a website that helps students prepare for state testing and is also now mandatory for every student.  There are also more benchmark and Scantron tests throughout the year, helping the teachers to gauge if the students are going to be ready for the state tests.  I’ve been told that it’s only going to get more burdensome next year when the Common Core standards are implemented in our state.

I used to have no issues with State Testing but I’ve learned a lot more recently and now I’m very against it.  (More on that in a future post.)  While there are still many benefits to having my kids do their schooling at home, they really are not free to learn at their own pace as I once believed.

So now what?

I have been doing a lot of research and I’ve realized that there are other options available.  I realize that prior to what I told myself in the past, I am very capable of teaching my children on my own.  I may not have a certificate that says I’m qualified, but I know my children.  I know what their likes and their goals are and what my hopes are for them.  Teaching is a natural thing that we do with our children but I think we have forgotten that because of the fact that we are so used to just sending them off to someone else to do the teaching when they are very young.  There are 3 months left in the school year and I’m planning on having them finish the year, but I have found that there are so many resources available to help educate our children without sending them to a public school and I’m really excited to get started.  Since I’ve changed my perspective, we already have started.

So that’s where we stand right now on the issue.  I wanted to provide a little background for anyone who is reading this blog and considering their options because it seems more and more people I know and meet are very concerned about sending their kids to school for various reasons.  This is my back-story but I have a lot more to share on this subject.

I love having conversations about homeschooling and I welcome your comments, thoughts, and questions on the subject!