Thursday, February 28, 2013

Capsule wardrobe update and shoe musings **now with new and improved update!**

Today I worked on my shoes. Oh boy, my shoes. I used to work at a corporate job that required heels and suits for meetings. I now walk around barefoot or in slippers and I'm a woman in comfortable (yet stylish) shoes when I go out ;)

I spent many years collecting fabulous shoes that I can't walk in now. Carrie from Sex and the City would covet my collection. Yet there they sit in their boxes gathering dust while I go about my happy barefoot homemaker/mommy life. I do not foresee wearing these shoes any time in the near future (even if I could walk in them without breaking an ankle). J's school run will be done by a mom lucky to have all her clothes buttoned much less in fancy shoes. So what to do with them? I've tried selling them with no luck. I don't want to just donate them (there's a lot of capital wrapped up in those silly stilettos) but I also don't want to be looking at them on my shelves every time I open my closet. I think I will box them up and stick them in the loft. Where all our random stuff disappears until we are ready to donate. It's sort of the way station in our lives.

Now why did I buy these shoes in the first place? Seriously. Why? One pair I have never worn and has straps so thin I'm not sure what the heck I was thinking when I did buy them. One pair was worn to a wedding and never worn again. The others were worn at times but never enough to justify their purchase.

I think it was a confluence of things. I didn't really like my job so I shopped (often right after work as a 'pick me up'). The people I worked with all liked/had/talked about/noticed labels. The successful women in my group (there were a few women) all wore expensive designer labels and I bought into the line of 'dress for the job you want'. But mostly buying expensive designer shoes made me feel good. It made me feel sexy and successful. I loved going to Neimans or Saks and trying on the shoes, walking around the shoe department, admiring myself in the mirror. I dreamed of a flashy life where I would actually wear these shoes. Dinners out, theater, galas, trips to exotic places. I mean seriously. I really, really could envision myself wearing these shoes and doing these things. And they did happen, but rarely. Mostly I came home from work exhausted and slightly depressed, showed D the shoes and put them on my closet shelf where there they sat.

I enjoy going out to eat and I do love the theater and all the rest but now when I envision doing those things again some day, I'm wearing shoes I can walk in and I'm introducing my son to these pleasures. It's not about me, it's about him and us as a family. That's so much more fulfilling.

** Update. While J napped, I moved the fancy schmancy shoes into our loft in the garage and pulled out about 6-7 pairs that I haven't worn, won't wear and/or that hurt my feet (why oh why did I ever buy them?!) and I'm giving them to a friend or donating them. I dusted the whole closet, rearranged some things and I feel SO much lighter and freer and happier. Ah what a good cleaning and getting rid of stuff can do for ones soul.**

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One hour of television

I instituted a new rule with J last week. One hour of television a day which is breaking down to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes after nap. I have come to realize that I was using the TV as a babysitter, something I swore I'd never do. So actually this rule is as much for me as it is J. I need to get some stuff done? Throw on a Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (J's current favorite). I need to cook? There's cartoons on PBS. It is much too easy for me and it is a huge crutch. I know this is a problem, I know this isn't me at my best and J needs his mom not a flat screen full of animated characters.

It's interesting, I was a very strict 'no tv' mom until J hit about 2.5. Everything changed when he became much more interested in what I was doing and wanted to be right next to me the whole time I was trying to do something (like scrub the bathtub). So I popped on PBS and hoped he would watch. And he did. Happily. Then he started asking me for shows. Then I started turning on the TV first thing in the morning and not turning it off for a few hours. This allowed me to get a lot done (or to sit in front of the computer) but whoa. Wow. This is NOT the life I want for my kiddo. I want him playing, enjoying imagination and creation that he does himself not that he watches someone else do.

So an hour. And it's been easy. Really easy. I turned off the TV and created an art cabinet for him. I say "yes" when he wants to do something messy like paint. I sit with him at the table and do my cards while he does play dough. I cook and his step stool is right next to me watching and helping. I do things slower than I would if it was just me, but isn't that kind of the point? I'm teaching and he's learning in the simple act of making dinner. And we're together not just watching a cartoon family on TV. There was an episode on Neighborhood that he was watching the other day (part of his hour) and in it the father tiger was taking a walk with Daniel and telling him how and why he was special. J shouldn't be just watching that happen to someone else on a TV screen - he should be hearing it from me. All the time. Turning off the TV has, not forced because that's too strong a word, it's encouraged us to be together more and I'm loving that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When the wildflowers start blooming, I start dreaming

of Pt. Reyes. Oh my. I close my eyes and see the waves of waist high wildflowers in all their delicate but incredible colors. I hear the ocean and the call of the birds. I picture driving down narrow two lane roads, dairy farms on either side. My mouth waters remembering the incredible food there is to find, cheeses and pastry and Italian. I want to hike the superlative trails. I need to picnic on a beach where the sand is tiny little pebbles polished from tumbling.

I need to get there. Soon.



Monday, February 25, 2013

Today I gave myself the freedom

To just make cards. ALL day. And I did. I managed to also bathe and make dinner but other than that, I was at my breakfast room table making cards. Sigh. I'm off to ice my back.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chick update

The chicks we picked up on Tuesday rather rapidly outgrew their bucket. I knew they would since chickens grow faster than weeds! We have used a big dog crate in the past, but always in the garage. This time, because it's still so cold out there, we decided to put the crate in (to J's great delight) the playroom. D set up the cage for me and made sure the whole thing was covered with plastic mesh (the holes in the crate are so large, a chick could easily slip through). J has spent the week playing in the room and showing the chicks all his toys. He is a very happy boy.

Today we picked up a Golden Lace Wynadotte that's only a few days old and I'm hoping it's a girl. The one I got last year started getting more and more gorgeous as it aged and I knew she was a he and he had to go live elsewhere. Sigh. I am very happy to say that the new chick integrated just fine with the big girls. You have to be very careful integrating chicks of different ages since the older/bigger ones will pick on the younger/smaller ones to the point of not letting them near the food or water, etc. In fact Logan the Loud (so named because of her PEEPING all the way home) made herself right at home and immediately snuggled up to John Deere and Chicky Chicky Chook Chook. I'm hoping to get a Welsummer next weekend and fingers and toes crossed that one blends in well too.

Chicks are just seriously cute. When we were at the feed store picking out Logan the Loud, there was an older boy sitting next to the brooder just staring at the chicks. His dad stopped by and we talked chickens for a while, he said it was his wife that didn't want them and he promised his son that they'd talk about it again. Boy that kid really wanted a couple of chicks, he pointed out which ones he would get if he could. I felt sad for the kid and really happy that J will always have chickens and that he will never know any different and that he will know what it's like to raise them up and take care of them.
These are important things to know and learn.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Things I want to remember from this week

J still says 'tookie' instead of cookie
J reading to the chicks, showing them his new game, playing cars next to them
Sitting with my friend/neighbor catching up while our kids played
J eating tomato soup and having half of it down his shirt - but loving every bite that did make it into his mouth
Playdough and painting and card making
Kombucha working!
Yogurt working!
Fresh pasta
Hanging up laundry in the sunshine
New baby chicks - they're so sweet
J calls a firetruck a firebus
J is a horrible back seat driver. We turned his car seat to face forwards and he's always saying 'red light stop!!'
There's been a lot of food action going on this week started by two very interesting and informative articles. One and Two. I love having conversations about food. I know we can be better by sharing our knowledge and information
I started a Facebook group/society/cult (kidding). The Makers, Bakers and Fermenters Society. Open to all!
My daffodils are up and the trees are budding
It's warm enough for capris and sandals
J forming a new tradition of reading with D in the morning
I just feel happy and complete and replete.

Friday, February 22, 2013

This moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single (well supposed to be) photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pizza dough

I was putting J down for his nap when suddenly, out of the blue, I had a craving for cheese pizza. We haven't had a homemade pizza in a long time! During football season, we make pizza every Monday night. J calls it 'Monday night pizza and football night' and gets very excited about it. Which I finally doubly funny since he doesn't even really like pizza (yet). The dough is so easy to make and comes together very quickly - it's (almost) as fast as ordering a pizza delivery!

For one 14" thin crust pizza (recipe can be easily doubled)

2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 T olive oil
1 1/4 t yeast
3/4 cups warm water
small squeeze of honey

  • Combine yeast, honey and warm water and let rest until the yeast is foamy (about 5 minutes).
  • In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  • Stir up the yeast/water mixture and add the olive oil.
  • With the blade running, slowly pour in the yeast mixture. If the dough is too wet, add more flour, if it's too dry, add water. Whirl until the dough comes together in a ball.
  • Leave in the bowl of the food processor and let rise for about an hour or until doubled.
  • Remove dough and form into a pizza shape (I use my hands, a rolling pin and my fingers to stretch the dough) and top with your favorite toppings.
* I shape mine on a bread peel and bake it on a pizza stone - pretty tasty that way (and it makes me feel slightly Italian).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today I am

  • Looking into what new cheese I'm going to try making next month - I'm thinking English Coulommiers (it's also called English Farmhouse but Coulommiers sound so much more interesting) - and shopping at for the necessary items, including camembert molds. Awesome.
  • Appreciating the day after a rainstorm and the bright sunshine and super clear skies and views.
  • Enjoying J playing with his eco-kids playdough, he's making all sorts of delicious 'foods' and bringing them to me for sampling.
  • Making yogurt and hoping it works. Every time feels a little bit like a wing and a prayer.
  • Creating a menu and grocery list and thankful my husband does the grocery shopping.
  • Amazed that it's almost my birthday - where does the time go? Didn't I just have a birthday?!
  • Perusing the chick list at Concord Feed and sighing over all the awesome chicken breeds - I know I'm going to end up getting two (they have Marans! Wynadottes!) more instead of just the one I was thinking of. And maybe more later this summer...I do love a Blue Andalusian.
  • Thinking of what to make for my 'Pay it Forward' people.
  • Uploading all our pics to Shutterfly. As the images of J as a baby go past I'm getting rather sentimental.
  • Listening to my favorite Big Band station. Something about this music makes me happy.
  • Looking forward to carnitas for dinner!
  • Adoring that J calls sardines 'sarbines' and that he actually eats them.
  • Very happy that instituting the new rule of 'one hour of tv' seems to have worked without any fuss for J (or myself).

What do you all have going on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bringing home baby chicks

Today was a great day! I've been promising J that we would get chicks as soon as they became available and that he could pick them out, name them and help me raise them. We've been talking about this for about a month. I called over to our local feed store today and they had some chicks in stock still from last week. Bouncing with excitement and giddy with anticipation (well J was definitely bouncing and giddy), we drove over the hill to see what we would find.  I was intrigued by the dark Brahma breed they had (I'm a sucker for a pretty hen) so I knew we would come home with one of those. I thought maybe two Brahmas but J wanted a Rhode Island Red too. I've never had one of those but they're good layers so why not? He named the Rhode Island Red John Deere and the dark Brahma  Chicky Chicky Chook Chook. Because it's cold in the garage and they're small enough to fit through the holes in our dog crate, I'm keeping them in J's bathroom for a couple of weeks or until they outgrow this bucket. It will happen very quickly that's for sure. I love keeping chickens. I don't know why more people don't do it, it's such fun! 
The set up. A heat lamp is imperative, without a mama they can't keep themselves warm
Feeder and water
I put rocks in the water because they can fall in and not be able to get out, the rocks prevent that
Looking into the bucket, this will only hold them for a week maybe two
Choosing the chicks - it's hard to choose!
On the way home
The girls in their box - you can see they're already getting wing feathers
John Deere
Chicks adapt quickly
J doesn't want to leave them - listening to him talk to them is priceless.
He is telling them stories, all about himself and just general chatter.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Whole Wheat Bread

While I was growing up, the majority of my friends had their sandwiches prepared with Wonder bread. My sandwiches were made with my moms amazing homemade breads. I will not tell you which I would have preferred to have as a kid but lets just say my eyes are rolling at my juvenile self.
Now, as a much wiser adult, I love baking bread. I make whole wheat and sourdough on a regular basis and am interested in exploring other varieties and expanding my repertoire.

Whole wheat bread is one of those wonderful kitchen sink types of breads where you can muck about with measurements and amounts and put all different kinds of things in it depending on your mood. I use either water or whey (if I've made cheese) and I've varied the the amounts of the different flours I have put in as well. You can leave the wheat germ out and add flax seed. You can also add sunflower seeds, sesame seeds or whatever type of nut you want. It really depends on what you're feeling like that day. Get the basics down and then explore.

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 T + 1 t active dry yeast
1 T raw honey
1 T unsulphured molasses
3.5 cups unbleached white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
.5 cups wheat germ
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 T olive oil
Sunflower seeds, nuts, etc

  • Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl and mix with yeast and honey til foamy. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Put the yeast mixture, rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour into the mixer with the dough hook. Add the molasses, wheat germ, salt and olive oil. Mix slowly until blended then add the rest of the flour. If using seeds or nuts, add now.
  • Increase speed and scrape down the sides until the dough comes together (if it doesn't, add a tbsp of flour at a time til it does, if it's too dry, add water.) Mix at medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic
  • Turn dough out and shape it into a ball then place in a large buttered or oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or beeswax canvas and let sit at room temp for 45 minutes to an hour, until it has doubled in size. The colder your kitchen is, the longer it will take for the bread to rise.
  • Oil two loaf pans (I like my glass Pyrex ones). Deflate the dough, cut in half and turn out. Roll the first section out into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle and with the short end facing you, fold the dough into thirds like a sheet of paper to go into an envelope, creating a roll. Pinch the seam closed, and pinch the ends enough so it will fit in the loaf pan. Press it to try and get any air bubbles in the creases out. Drop into the loaf pan seam side down, and repeat with the next section.
  • Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and allow to rise again in a warm place until they double in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes until they are honey brown. Immediately turn out of pans onto a rack to cool.
* Tip - the recipe can be cut in half easily. The loaves also freeze very well.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A day of rest

Do we ever really get one any more? There's always something that needs doing. I may not need to plow fields, sew clothes or feed livestock (chickens excepted) but my list of things that needs doing feels ridiculously long and getting longer. It seems like our weekends are filled with 'stuff that needs doing' versus 'stuff we want to do'. But isn't it important to renew and revive ourselves too? Those hours when we're doing nothing but fun or something we want are so important to our enjoyment of our lives.

We have tried instituting a fun day at least once a month when an outing is planned and, while the ones we have done have been great, somehow the habit falls too easily by the wayside. We must, I must, start to form positive habits. Adventures and outings must become a daily, weekly, monthly habit. It's way too easy to get bogged down by the detritus of daily life and we need, really need, those times of freedom. We need those days of rest. Not rest in the traditional sense but rest in the 'away from lists and chores and things that need doing' sense.

Friday, February 15, 2013

This Moment and Five Minute Friday

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Ah the heart glitter - we will be finding it till next Valentines Day

Hooking up to for 5 minute Friday

Beloved is to have a beloved and to be beloved. That warm, chocolate, pudding, floating mushy feeling. That fill you up and make you see the stars and the moon and the sun feeling. To love something so much it hurts. To feel your heart walk away when they walk away. To have arms wrapped around you and to wrap your arms around them. To hold something so precious you wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Not money, not fame, not sanity, not a single thing. It's holding your baby and being held by your man or your mom. It's knowing deep down that you are the center of the Universe for that one person. It's looking at someone and knowing they're the center of yours. It's pillows and marshmallows and starlight and seeing the Milky Way for the first time. It's better than a wool blanket or down comforter on a cold night. It's smiling when you see their picture. To hold them close in your heart. It's all encompassing and amazing and it's loving and being loved and the world stops just for a moment. It's better than chocolate or champagne or fresh strawberries in chocolate and champagne. It's being loved.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Today I fell in love.

Well it's the day for it isn't it?

Luckily for my husband (who I am already in love with), what I fell in love with was a replacement for the Trader Joes yogurt in a tube. The TJ yogurts have been a favorite with J for a long time but at 9 grams of sugar per tube they definitely aren't a favorite of mine. Plus I have no idea about the quality of milk, additives and ingredients (etc, etc, etc).

Other than having absolutely no confidence in the ingredients, I love the convenience of yogurt in a tube. It is super easy to take on a picnic for part of J's lunch, when frozen it makes an awesome summertime treat and there's something very fun and kid-friendly about being able to suck yogurt out of the tube. They feel like a fun treat, plus J really loves them.

About a month ago my sister in law posted a link to an etsy shop selling these things called SqueeZurts which were billed as a replacement for the yogurt tubes. On a whim, and because I trust my sister in law's opinion, I ordered a starter kit. Could they be the answer to my prayers? (Not that I literally prayed for an alternative but I was pretty close some days). Today I used them for the first time and WOW where have these been my whole life? Seriously. They're that awesome.

I whirled together (in my food processor but a blender would work just as well), half Greek yogurt and half homemade yogurt for about 8 oz total. Then I added a tablespoon of juice from defrosting some raspberries and 1/4 of a cup of frozen raspberries. Because both the homemade yogurt and raspberries were pretty tart, I added some honey, about 2 teaspoons. The color was lovely and pink and the flavor refreshing without being overly sweet. I taste tested it with J before I filled the tubes to make sure he liked it.

The starter kit comes with a squeeze bottle for filling the tubes and it honestly couldn't be easier. Fill the tubes about 2/3 full, lay a twist tie across the top of the tube and roll it up at least 3 times and twist it closed. I put mine in the freezer and they froze super fast. I pulled it out after about an hour to take to the park today and it was still cold and kind of slushy when we had lunch. J loved it. I had to help him because it was mushy but he'll be able to do the frozen ones by himself. And finally I have peace of mind and I don't mind how many he eats because I know he's getting something good for him.

Frozen SqueeZurts - how pretty they are!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentines Day

Ah Valentines Day. The day of hopes, expectations, expression, love and disappointment.

I was one of the women who totally and completely bought into the Madison Avenue spiel, hook, line and sinker. 'If he loves you you'll get a dozen roses delivered to your work, a box of expensive chocolates, lingerie or jewelry, a dinner at a fancy restaurant and champagne'. I literally expected ALL those things every year. Poor D. He had to not only live up to my expectations that were WAY out of proportion to reality but then he had to outdo himself every year. I can only look back and shake my head at myself.

It was a slow, very slow, process but I've changed. Valentines isn't 'just another day' for us but it's also not one fraught with pressure, tension and expectations. I don't desire anything other than a card and maybe a nice dinner cooked at home and to not have to do dishes. This year D has class till late so I will be glad to get a card. I made him one with my new card-making skills and I'm really proud of it. It ended up looking how I wanted it to and it says what I wanted it to say.

My battle is now how to make Valentines special for J without going over the top. I want it to be fun and different without being full of cheap candy and cheaper sentiment. I'd like to start making some Valentines Day traditions that we can repeat every year. We made a few cards for friends and while he was napping, I made some shortbread cookies which is definitely out of the ordinary. I've made him a card and we're going to a park with a friend. I don't know. It doesn't feel like enough. I need to find more to do. I wonder if it will be easier when he's in school and/or older when it becomes a day filled with more anticipation and excitement. I'm gathering ideas - I love the Valentines mobile here. The biggest thing though is to try to not to live my Valentines Day through him.

Kombucha Making - Makers, Bakers and Fermenters Society

My friend Kombucha Mama (not her real name) came over yesterday to show me how to make kombucha, which is basically fermented tea. Now kombucha is definitely a rather trendy drink (judging by the racks of it at Whole Foods and similar places) and I make no claim as the viability of all the health benefits it's purported to posses but D and J both love it and I'm happy to make almost anything the menfolk like that much. Almost. If J starts walking on water or glowing, I'm cutting back. Also, kombucha is seriously fun to say.

I was intimidated at the beginning because it seems to be....involved? Time consuming? Complicated? It's actually none of those things. It's super simple though it helps if you have a friend who is already into making kombucha and who doesn't mind giving you a SCOBY (thanks KM!)


Seed mat for keeping a constant heat (available at Amazon)
A gallon glass jar (Mine is actually 3 liters)
A SCOBY (from a friend who makes kombucha) if you don't have a friend (who makes kombucha, I'm sure you have a friend), you can order a SCOBY here
2 qt + of organic kombucha, either from your friend or purchased (this will help keep the kombucha at the right PH)
Green tea, I used Eden brands Sencha
Black tea, I used Eden brands Kukicha
Organic non-GMO Sugar
Glass quart jar to pour the kombucha into when it's done fermenting

  • Boil 1/2 gallon of water to release the chlorine
  • While the water is hot, make a 'feeder tea' by steeping 1 t each of black and green tea (use a tea ball or unbleached tea bags) and 1/2 cup sugar. Let steep until the tea cools to around 80-90 degrees (comfortable to put your hand into it).
  • When the starter tea is at the right temp. Fill the gallon jar at least half full with kombucha and add your SCOBY. Fill the rest of the jar with the starter tea leaving about three fingers of breathing room.
Kombucha Mama fishing out the SCOBY from her batch

  • Cover jar with a clean cloth and put a rubber band around the top.

  • Place in a warm dark spot on top of the seed mat
  • You can start checking your kombucha after 3 days.*
  • Fermentation will depend on the strength of the SCOBY and the temperature the kombucha is kept at (warmer = faster fermentation) What you're looking for is the typical effervescence and sour/vinegar flavor of kombucha. You shouldn't taste the sweet tea at all. When the kombucha has hit the flavor strength that you like, pour half of it off into your glass quart jar. Brew another batch of feeder tea and start all over again.
  • If you want to make fruit flavored kombucha, add fruit juice or a couple of strawberries, some raspberries, blackberries or whatever you like into the container you siphoned off the kombucha to drink into. Do NOT put fruit into the 'mother' kombucha. Leave room at the top of the container for the 'fizz', at least a few fingers.
*A straw is a good tool for this.

**Do not use metal utensils when making kombucha, plastic or wood are ok.

*** Food Renegade has a TON of information on brewing kombucha
The teas I used - I purchased them at a local health food store

The SCOBY - yes, it looks like a science experiment gone very wrong

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Homemade Granola

There is absolutely no reason to buy the insanely expensive packaged granola from the grocery store. Granola is incredibly easy to make, you can put anything you want into it and it is delicious over yogurt or eaten on it's own. Once you have the basics down, you can pretty much add what you want and change the flavors to mirror your tastes. (It also makes a great gift.)

My big helper :) Though he eats more than he stirs....


9 cups organic rolled oats, uncooked (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup organic wheat germ or ground flax seed
2 cups sliced almonds, pecans or walnuts
1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds raw or toasted (definitely unsalted)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pure maple syrup (I have used a combination of maple syrup and honey before)

3-5 cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, diced pineapple, diced apricots, chopped dates, really it's the mixture of your choice).


  • In a very large bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ or flax seed, nuts, and seeds. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, salt and maple syrup. Pour over the dry mixture in the bowl, stirring and tossing till everything is very well combined.
  • Spread granola over a couple of  half-sheet pans. Bake in a preheated 250°F oven for about 90 minutes, stirring the mixture with a heatproof spatula every 20 minutes or so. You want to bring the granola at the edge in towards the middle, so it all browns evenly.
  • When the granola is a light–to–medium golden brown, remove it from the oven and cool completely on the pans. Transfer the granola to a large bowl, and mix in the dried fruit*. Store in a tightly closed container at room temperature for several weeks; freeze for extended storage.
* I don't mix in the fruit unless I'm giving the granola as a gift or am taking it on the road. I prefer to add whatever dried fruit I want at the time of serving. It works well either way.