A Dream Realized

The holidays are upon us already.  I’ve been busy working on some projects out in the craft room. None of which I can post right now.  Shhhh! Christmas presents.  I’ll post more about that after Christmas.

That being said, I’d like to share a little story.  Ever since I was a teenager I wanted to be a writer.  I made several attempts at writing only to hit a road block pretty quick.  It’s not an easy task that’s for sure.  I tried several different genres, many different plot lines and gave up.  Until Tortie.

Tortie is our tortoiseshell cat.  We adopted her in 2011.  She was at an adoption center inside the Petco in Napa, California where we lived at the time.  I was hesitant in adopting a cat after having one that though we loved him immensely, we ended up having to give him up due to behavior issues that we couldn’t resolve.  So, along came Tortie.  She was sweet, beautiful and we were taken by her almost instantly.  She was a year old and had had a litter of kittens.  She needed a home and we adopted her. Though I’m sure if you have had a cat before you know they adopt you.

What a joy she is and she is the inspiration for the book I was finally able to write. She’s cute. She’s quirky. And we just love her.  One night as I was reading in bed and pondering why I couldn’t make the writing thing happen, Tortie jumped up on my bed.  She had cute little habits that had me giggling in spite of myself. As she looked up at me with that little adorable face of hers I asked her, “I wonder what your life was before you were rescued.” And that was it, my muse.

So, I started writing.  The work in progress I fondly called “Tortie’s Maybe Story”. I have never been so inspired and dedicated to a task as I did with that book.  To make the time to write and write consistently I was up at 5:00am every morning so I could write before I had to go to work. I worked on my lunch breaks as well.

During that time as I was approaching the end of the rough draft I had an appointment with an editor through our local independent bookstore.  They had a series of events called “Blind date with and editor”.  The appointment was to be a half an hour but we ended up discussing my rough draft for a little over an hour.  She was very encouraging and we met a few other times after that.  Her life took her to Israel for a couple years so I went at it alone in editing and proofing.  Because the book didn’t really fit any mainstream genres (at least in my thinking) I decided to self-publish. Wow! What an experience.  I can honestly say it took more time and more work than actually writing the book.  After a few little hiccups along the way I am excited to say that my little book is published and ready for distribution.

I’m pretty jazzed about it!  I received my author copies yesterday and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Books

Now for even more work.  And something I’m not really comfortable with. Promoting the book.  Yikes!! That means people might read it!!  Yes, these are the thoughts of a very self-conscious writer.  So, here goes nothing (or maybe a big something!).

If you are interested in checking out my book you can find it on Amazon at Toffee-An Adoption Story. 

Side note: I saw on Facebook this morning that it is Giving Tuesday.  This is a day devoted to charitable giving through your time, money, goods or voice.  I would like to take part in that by giving $1 from every book sold to Whiskers, Tails, and Ferals in Napa, California.  This is where we adopted Tortie from and her sister Candace as well.  They do remarkable work in finding forever homes for homeless felines.  And we are so happy they helped us get Tortie.  This 1$ per book donation/promotion will go on through Christmas.

Check it out! Buy a copy! Support a cause!

And thank you from Tortie and I!

Tortie and Manuscript
My favorite photo of Tortie

Keep on stitching my friends and writing as well!!!

 

Tracy (and Tortie)

For more about Tortie, visit her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/tortlebutt/

And on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tracywrites/

Happy Holidays!

 

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Bucket List – Weaving

This summer I had the pleasure of taking a weaving class from the Reno Fiber Guild.  I have wanted to learn to weave since I was in high school.  I had dreams of having sheep, shearing, washing, spinning wool and weaving it into my own creations.  Well, that did not happen and at 53 years of age I decided I would at least learn the weaving part of all that.  So, I started poking around the internet and found right here in Reno was a fiber guild that was getting ready to teach four session weaving class.  Whooot, whooot!  I was all over that.

What a fantastic and eye opening experience.  I had no idea how labor intensive just getting the loom set up was.  However, once that is done, weaving is a joy!  There was a great group of women who are very schooled and experienced in weaving.  Not just on a loom making towels. Much, much more!!!

My experience:

I have a rigid heddle loom so for the class I rented one of their looms.  It was a Wolf Pup 4 heddle loom.  Loved it! Wanted to take it home!  Which I did, just for homework.  I’m not sure why but every time I went to weave I was gripped with this fear that I would mess the whole thing up. Then I would sit down to weave and I would wonder what was holding me back. Fear is gone.  Let me show you what I did.

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My borrowed wolf pup weaving loom

This is my loom (actually the guild’s loom ) all warped and some weaving done. You can see the pattern book on a detachable holder, the shuttle sitting on top of the heddles, my weaving below that and the treadles at the bottom. There are many more parts to this gizmo but we won’t go into those.

We picked three colors in cotton to work with and this piece is the sampler of treadle patterns I did.  After that I worked on four dish towels.  I love the colors!

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My Sampler

My finished towels.   I’m so pleased as to how they came out.  It was a little weird and frightening knowing I would be working on my sampler and all four towels with the same warping.  I just imagined cutting them apart and it all unraveling.  You’ll be happy to know there was no unraveling.  I really like them a lot.

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Dish Towels
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Close up of dish towels

 

 

Each towel had several different treadling patterns with basket weave in between the different patterns.

I’ve got a few other projects to finish up and them I’m going to warp my rigid heddle and do some Christmas weaving.  Looking forward to that.  Heck…..I may even just put other things aside and do it now : )    Who knows.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little visit with weaving.  I wish I had learned how to weave back when I was younger.  So, I’m going to make the best of it now and hopefully learn some new techniques along the way.

Thank you for reading!  Drop a comment if you please and if you are a weaver, show me what you’re working on or have completed.  I love to see what others are working on.

Stitch on my friends whether it’s crochet, knitting, needlework or weaving.  Just do it!

Tracy

Six months later…..

It has been six months since I last blogged!  My plan was to write about things other than knitting, crochet and needlepoint (which is mostly what I do) while I was sidelined because of arthritis and bone spurs in my thumbs. That certainly didn’t happen.  Although, I have new followers!!  Happy about that and having new followers has motivated me to write again.

Thumbs. I know having thumbs sets us apart from other species but I never realized how much we do depend on them until this.  Both of my thumbs are affected but my left is the worst of the two.  The pain has been incredible.  Lifting has been excruciating. Anything really that involves my thumbs has been super painful.

So far, we’ve done soft splints, cortisone injections, warm compresses and just generally going easy on them and resting them.  The injections worked for a while but now don’t so we’ve had to get a little creative (more on that later).  Surgery is not an option at the juncture which is fine.  I’ve had two surgeries and am not looking forward to another (or two).  In case you are wondering this is where thumb arthritis usually takes place.

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If you are a crafter you can totally understand how not being able to do the things you love can be maddening.  So, while we were working out what to do I did some crafting that was not so hard on my thumbs.  Can’t use the knitting needles so out came the glue gun.

One of the things I did is make some oil lamps for our patio area and outdoor kitchen. I really like the way they turned out.  If you’d like to make some yourself, here’s what you’ll need.

Empty wine bottles

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Tiki torch replacement wicks ( I got mine at Walmart)

Brass connectors (diameter big enough for wicks to go through but small enough to hold the wick in place)

Something like this:

connector

Glue gun and glue sticks

Rope, decorative pieces such as flowers, stones, scrapbook embellishments

Now that you have your materials together get that glue gun fired up and decorate your bottles.

Really how you want yours to look is entirely up to you.  I took rope and attached it to the bottle winding it around and around using the glue gun to make it stay in place.

Like this:

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After you have wound it up as far as you want you can leave it plain or add some embellishments.  I went to my scrapbooking stash and found some perfect items.  Run some more rope up the neck and TaDah!

After putting some fish tank gravel in the bottom of the bottles to make them more sturdy and less likely to fall over take the brass connectors and glued them in the neck so they will stay in place. After that fill up the bottle with lamp oil and slide the wick down through the connector into the bottle.

Now you have some perfectly nice wine bottle lanterns!  You did it!

These are the three I made.  The photo is minus the wicks and connectors.  However, you can see that in minutes you could come up with your own lanterns.

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I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that you need to be careful with flammables.  That’s why I put the gravel in the bottom.  And make sure your connector and wick fit snuggly together so the wick doesn’t fall down into the bottle and lamp oil.  Disaster will ensue!!

I hope you enjoyed this and will make your own.  I would love to see photos of some that you’ve done.

One last thing: Thank you to the new followers.  I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.  Drop me a comment anytime!!!

 

Stitch on my friends! And if you have gimpy thumbs do some gluing instead : )

 

Tracy

Sidelined : (

I have been sidelined from needlework!  I have arthritis in both thumbs that has plagued me for a number of years.  A twice a year cortisone shot in both thumbs when the pain gets bad has done wonders and has kept me happily crafting.

Since moving I’ve had to find a new orthopedist and two weeks ago had injections once again due to severe pain.  Two weeks later I’m still in overwhelming pain.  And because of that I can’t knit, crochet or needlepoint.  Needlework is what I’ve always done.  In the evenings while watching TV I most often have something in my hands I’m working on.  On long car drives if I’m not the driver I take something along. So, needless to say, I’m not a happy camper.  And I’m wondering what is next for these thumbs of mine. I have another orthopedic appointment on March 9th so we will see.

In the meantime my post will be about other things.  For instance:

This morning driving to work in a snowy white world I am reminded of how much I have experienced and grown in the last few months here in Nevada.

We moved here during the summer with temperatures in the 100s.  Today it is a cool 27 degrees.  A really cool 27 degrees.  In this last week we’ve had winds of 70 mph or more, torrential rain, sunshine and an overnight snowfall of 11.5 inches.  Coming from Napa in northern California this is quite a shock. I’m told that the winters are not normally this severe.  We will see when next winter comes next year.  But, at this point you have to wonder when you wake up day after day with changing weather if we may not just continue with winter the rest of the year.  I’m kidding of course but you kind of have to wonder.

However, we are not the only ones socked in with extreme conditions.  News reports show that my home state of California is so inundated with rain that the ground in some areas are giving way. After years of drought the ground just can’t absorb it fast enough.  California also has spillways that have not been used in years seeing an overpowering amount of water and causing one to break.  We/they need the moisture so badly but I feel like the ground needs a break to catch up.  Where my son lives 14,000 people have been evacuated because of flooding.  Where my daughter lives they had so much hail yesterday that it looked like snow. This extreme weather unfortunately has kept me from a few visits to see my kids in California.  So, I’m hoping and praying that this ends soon and is not as bad next winter.

Coming from a place that doesn’t see snow I have learned how to adapt to snow.  Its’ cold, I don’t like being cold. So now, I have a wool coat, lots of gloves, scarves and a brand new pair of snow boots.

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The first few snowy days my partner drove me to work. Now I feel very comfortable driving myself.  My little copper penny HHR does surprisingly well in snow and ice I’ve found.  Although, with a 10-15 minute drive to work the heater doesn’t fully get going until I pull into a parking place at work.  So on any given weekday morning you’ll find me in my office at my desk with a portable heater under my desk trying to get some warmth into this body. I’ve also shoveled snow, slipped around on ice and have found some little tricks to make taking off for work a little easier.  FYI: fill a tube sock with cat litter, tie it off, place it up on your dashboard at the window and forget about the inside of your window frosting up. It works!

I’ve also found joy in the little foot prints the rabbits make out in the snow.  So adorable!

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It’s all new, exciting, scary sometimes but overall I’m so happy to be here.  Let me just say that I will be so happy when I can hang my wool coat back in the closet, put my gloves and scarves away and don some flip-flops!  What a day that will be.

So, for now we bundle up, give my hands a rest until I see the doctor again and dream of stitching.

 

Stitch on my friends!!

 

Tracy

Busy Bee at work

If you have been reading my blog for long you know I struggle with finishing projects.  I get so excited about something new I want to make that I often times drop the current project to start another. Thus, too many projects half done to count.  Over the last month, however, I have managed to finish a couple projects (see On Pins and Needles post). I’ve also started and finished a couple projects and have one on the way to completion.

I cam across a cute unicorn crochet pattern from a site called Little Yarn Friends. I posted it on Facebook and said something like “I want to make this simply because it’s so adorable”. Which it is: tumblr_m53spxzhzu1r9eyk1

My brother said he would like one in Frankenstein colors with stitches and everything. So….. challenge accepted.

I was trying to decide if this little guy should be called Frankencorn or Unistein or something else.  But, when my brother received his little box in the mail with this guy in it he called it “Baron Hoofenstein, Undead Unicorn”. I like it.  He is definitely the more creative of us two  : )

Another little project was some crochet cabin boot slippers.  My brother shared it on Facebook and my daughter said she wanted some.  So…. I got out some flip flops, and aul, yarn and crochet hook and made these for her.

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The pattern comes from a website called Make and Do Crew. If you like crochet, they are worth checking out.  Anyway, what makes these slippers nice is that you use a pair of flip-flops to make the sole.  That way if you need to you can wear them outside.  I used Lion Brand Thick and Quick in the color Hudson Bay and buttons from one of my mom’s button boxes.  The flip-flops I got for $2 at Old Navy.  Oddly enough the first boot went really well and really easy but the second one I struggled with.  I think the reason for that is there is a right and left so it was a little difficult to get my head wrapped around the direction for the second one.  Anyway, put them in the mail on Thursday this week and my daughter got them yesterday so I can finally publish this post : )  She loves them by the way!

I just got back from Michael’s where I picked up some yarn (as if I don’t have enough) for a scarf project.  I’ll talk more about that later as it is a gift for my sweetheart.  And, I have promised myself I’ll finish up the needlepoint I’m working on before I start it.  More on the needlepoint in my next post.  I’ll just say it’s nearly finished and couldn’t be happier to be able to get it done soon.  Where I like the design I’m not overly fond of working with Persian wool.  So, to get it done would make me really, really happy!

So, off to a birthday party at a place where you paint and drink wine….what a great way to spend the afternoon.

Have a lovely rest of the weekend and do something creative!!!

Your stitching friend,

Tracy

 

 

On pins and needles

December 23rd and I am anxiously waiting for my children to get here.  Of course, they have not even left Napa yet but they’ll be leaving soon.  I try not to look at the weather reports showing snow and promising a couple feet of snow.  We’re not really used to the snow but I am quickly getting there.  However, the kids don’t do much driving in it in fair weather Napa Valley. As you can imagine there is a stark difference between there and here in Reno, NV.

I think you get the idea.

So I wait…..and worry….

I will be so happy when they are here.

Finished Projects

I am pretty stoked about my recent activity in stitching. I have finished two projects. The first one is a knitted in Caron Cakes  in purple hues.  I found out about Caron Cakes through The Crochet Crowd. The pattern is on the site as well but I found it on the band of the Caron Cakes I bought. Two skeins is all it took and it was really enjoyable to make.  If you would like to give it a try you can find the pattern here Triangle Shawl. Very easy even if you are a beginning knitter.

 

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Another project I finished was a crochet Corner to Corner throw. I used some Red Heart yarn that was my mom’s. She had an abundance of it so I thought that it would be great for this.  It was a little more advanced but not by much.  If you know how to chain, single crochet and double crochet you’ll do well with this.

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As you can see I had a “shades of purple” thing going on.  Something I discovered about my unfinished (now finished) projects.  Both were at the halfway point when I put them down.  Hmmm….. a pattern I see here.  Pun intended!  What was nice though is that because they both were basically corner to corner when I picked them up to finish them I was on the decreasing end of things so they finished up pretty quick. I’m pretty please with the end result and with myself for actually finishing some things up.

However, in a previous post I talked about Crafter’s Math  which if you have read that you know I’m not very good at math.  So…I have started a new project. Of course!  I won’t say what it is but will post a picture or two after Christmas as it is a gift.

Time to sign off and go to the window to check for the kids again. Safe travels to all who are traveling this holiday and to those who moms are waiting on.

happy-holidays

With love from your stitching friend ~Tracy

 

 

 

Road trippin’

A weekend adventure

This past weekend we took a trip to Napa to see our family and friends.  It’s a beautiful 3 ½ hour drive from Reno to Napa.  We had a really wonderful time and I miss everyone already.

We stayed the night there and on the way back we took a different route so we could go through Placerville, CA and stop by at Apple Hill. If you have never been to Apple Hill you have been missing out.  The first time I went there was about 30 years ago.  There were about 35-30 apple orchards in the hills of Placerville.  As time has gone by there have been more popping up and now the count is at around 55.  And those are just the ones registered with the Apple Hill Grower’s association.  There are others that are on their own.

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Map of Apple Hill. At just about every stop you can pick up a guide with map, recipes, event information, etc. Helpful to have. As you can see there are many orchards to choose from.

There’s not just apples either.  There are pumpkins, vegetable stands, museums, wineries, Christmas tree farms and berry farms.  There is so much! We are never ever able to see everything and have a tendency to go to our favorites.  But, it’s always a great time.  I can’t think of a time going there that we have come away disappointed.  Take the kids, take the grand-kids or just go!!  You’ll be happy you did. It can be a little crowded on the weekends but it’s still a great time.

Oh and did I say there are a lot of dogs?!  My partner, Lori, seemed to make friends with every dog she came across.

 

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Our goods from Apple Hill. Two bushels of apples, four pumpkins, walnuts and apple cider.

As you can see we’ll be busy making apple butter, apple jelly, some pies for the freezer and we’re going to try our hand at making apple cordial.  Pictures to follow once that is done.

From Apple Hill we continued on highway 50 through the Tahoe National Forest.  An incredibly beautiful drive.  The fall colors have finally emerged and everything is in hues of green, gold and red.  Everywhere we went we were in awe of the stunning foliage.  Fall is my favorite time of year and the colors that come with it are my favorite colors of all.  Along the way we even found a place we’d like to return to for a camping trip.  We’re close enough it could just be weekend away.  Add some fly fishing in and it would be perfect.

As you can see we packed alot into one weekend. Though I have a job I really enjoy I can tell you it was hard to come back on Monday.  I could easily spend my days in that country.  So, so beautiful. Makes my soul happy!

I suggest that before the season ends you visit Apple Hill and let me know in the comments your favorite fall things you like to do as well.

As always, thank you for reading and feel free to share this blog with your friends.

Stitch on!

 

Relieve my Guilt…..Please!

Relieve My Guilt…..Please!

 

A raise of hands please. How many of you stitchers/crafters have those projects that you just can’t seem to get done?  How do you handle that?

I have a needlepoint that I am trying to finish right now that is agonizing to get through.  I am determined to get it done as it is from a set of three stocking cuffs that I got with my kids in mind.  I have two done but this third one is just giving me headaches and I don’t like that.  I really enjoyed the first part which was a plaid design and I enjoyed the green. But, the black with the gold in it has given me fits.  I’ve even left the piece at work so I would take some time with it each day on my lunch break. Today I worked for about 15 minutes on it and was absolutely done and longed for some knitting.

 

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My thought at this juncture is that I will put it away with the idea of taking out the black at a later date and doing something else.  Maybe a different fiber, or different stitch or both for that matter.  I just don’t know.

So what do you do?  I know I’m not the only one out there that has multiple unfinished projects that they would like to finish and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has that project that begs to be finished but we just can’t get it done.

 

That’s my story for today. Short, a little rant maybe but just needed to share.

 

Thank you as always for reading.  I’d love to know your thoughts.

 

Stitch on my friends!

 

Tracy

Talent in the Family

I’ve got something to share. Once again nothing to do with stitching.  My brother, Kelly, is an artist.  Not just an artist but an excellent artist.  His style is extremely imaginative and whimsical.  His specialty is monsters.

You see, we grew up on monsters.  We saw all the movies, watched Creature Features on the weekend with host Bob Wilkins and were never short of imaginative stories often started by our dad.  Kelly has carried on that imagination very well and has let it influence much of his drawings.  A huge fan of Halloween, my brother, his wife Angie and their friends are known for costumes, decorations and most of all pumpkins.  They don’t just celebrate Halloween, they live it.

Kelly doesn’t just draw. He takes in information, mulls it around and creates some pretty amazing art.  Words don’t do it justice at all.

So, if you go to kellydoren.blogspot.com you will find a sampling of his work.  It’s fun. I especially love the 31 days of Monsters he does every year. There you will find out how much he is influenced by Halloween and Monsters.

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Check it out, drop him a line!  You’ll be glad you did.

Tracy  (Kelly’s proud sister)

PS. Keep on stitching, drawing, making music, whatever you do.  The world is better for it!

Sustenance for the Crafter-Oatmeal Jars

Not about stitching

Today I thought I would share some recipes for oatmeal jars.  I started making these several years ago and it has really made a difference in my breakfast routine.  When life gets busy it’s hard to eat well and even harder to get a good breakfast to start your day.  I started making these because we could just grab them and go.  I saw these for the first time on Pinterest and just altered them to work for my family. The recipes do make a good size serving which for some might be too much.  I’ve just recently started halving the recipe for half pint jars. Oats stay with you for a good long time so it’s a good way to boost your morning.  Try them and let me know what variations you make.  I’d love to hear about them.

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Half pint berry oatmeal jars

Berry Oatmeal Jars – Per pint jar

½ cup Old Fashioned Oats     150 calories

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt      55 calories

½ cup unsweetened almond milk   30 calories

½ cup frozen berries      35 calories

1 tsp milled flax seed     10 calories

Stevia (optional)        0 calories

Mix all ingredients together and put in pint jar. Refrigerate overnight.  Can be warmed up in the microwave.   Halve the ingredients if you prefer smaller portions for half pint jars.

 

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Pumpkin spice Oatmeal Jars – Per pint jar

½ cup Old Fashioned Oats          150 calories

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt           55 calories

½ cup unsweetened almond milk    30 calories

3 T pureed pumpkin      25 calories

1 tsp milled flax seed     10 calories

Cinnamon, nutmeg etc. to taste    Minimal caloric count

Stevia (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and put in pint jar.  Refrigerate overnight.  Warm up in microwave and stir. I top these jars with some walnuts before I dig in. Yum!

Halve the ingredients for half pint jars.

 

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Peanut Butter/Banana Oatmeal Jars – Per pint jar

½ cup Old Fashioned Oats          150 calories

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt           55 calories

½ cup unsweetened almond milk   30 calories

2 T PB2                45 calories

1/2 mashed banana       50 calories

1 tsp milled flax seed     10 calories

Stevia (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and put in pint jar. Refrigerate overnight. Warm up in microwave and stir although just as good cold.  Halve the ingredients for half pint jars.

♥♥

Notes:  I make my oatmeal jars up on Sunday evenings for the whole work week.  The only one that really doesn’t do well days in advance is the Peanut Butter/Banana one.  If you want to make that one up for the week I would leave out the banana until you are ready to eat.

You’ll see I use almond milk.  Less calories, less sugar.

PB2 is a great substitute for high fat/high calorie peanut butters and works better in the oatmeal jars because it’s easier to stir in.  However, I’ve seen people use other nut butters as well.

I hope you get a chance to make and enjoy these jars.  I look forward to eating them every time I make them.  Don’t forget to let me know what variations you come up with!

 

Have an oatmeal jar today and keep on stitching!!

Tracy