How to Make Gorp: A Great Snack for Hiking

Every time we went on a Girl Scout hike, we packed GORP. What is GORP you ask? Good Old Raisins and Peanuts.

It’s that simple.

It’s that easy to make GORP.

GORP Makes A Great Snack For Hiking

Peanuts and Raisins are a great combination, that give you protein and energy, so they’re perfect for the trail. And so easy kids can make it themselves!

I also like to add M&M’s or chocolate chips, but they are optional.
That’s it.


How to Make Gorp

• Raisins
• Peanuts
• M&M’s or Chocolate Chips (optional)

Dump together in a plastic bag and shake. Then divide it into small snack bags to make packing easier. Keep some bags of it in your diaper bag or purse for hunger emergencies.



Or experiment and make your own varieties by adding Craisins or different varieties of nuts. I might try shredded coconut next. You can make it your own, but to make GORP the old fashioned way, you only need raisins and peanuts.

Or try these other Trail Mix Recipes

5 Healthy Trail Mix Recipes
Frugal Nut Allergy Friendly Trail Mix
Sweet and Spicy Road Trip Snack Mix
Chocolate cherry popcorn
Alton Brown Trail Mix Recipe
Mountain Trail Mix
10 Snack Mix Recipes

What snacks do you like to make for the trail? I’m always looking for new ideas.

Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

This week I’ll be getting ready for the new year by co-hosting a new recipe linky party each day. Menu planning is not my strongest homemaking skill and definitely something I want to improve in the new year. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to do it is to use the freezer and make meals ahead.

Make ahead breakfast ideas

If you’re also looking to try some new recipes in 2015, bookmark these posts so you can come back and see all of the recipes that fellow bloggers share.

Let’s start with make ahead breakfast ideas. We’ve gotten into a breakfast rut around here lately, so over the holiday break I’m taking some time to prep and get things into the freezer for when school starts back up again.

This pumpkin pancake recipe is our favorite!

Freezer friendly pumpkin pancakes! My son's favorite!

I also want to try some make ahead egg sandwiches, regular pancakes, overnight oats, and smoothie packs. For some reason, I never remember to feed myself in the morning and I know a healthy breakfast is so important. If I have some things prepared ahead, I’m hoping to make this goal happen.

Here are 5 make ahead breakfast recipes I hope to try:

Instant Oatmeal Packets- The Yummy Life
Homemade Brown Sugar  Cinnamon Pop Tarts- Sally’s Baking Addiction
Country Breakfast Bowls- Budget Bytes
Breakfast Burritos- Handle the Heat
Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches- Jess Fuel

Check out more Breakfast Recipe ideas on my Breakfast Pinterest board:

Follow Amy Pessolano | Umbrella Tree Cafe’s board Breakfast on Pinterest.

Host A Slow Cooker Thanksgiving: My Secret To A Stress Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Do you want to host Thanksgiving Dinner without spending all of your time in the kitchen?  I have a solution for you. Host a slow cooker Thanksgiving. I’ve done this in some capacity for a few years and I can’t wait to host again so I can streamline the process. Crockpots are great for keeping things warm, or even cooking the entire dish, depending on your time.

Before I was married, we hosted a handful of couples (16 adults) for a Christmas dinner party. I come from a large family, and I’ve found that cooking a big holiday meal isn’t really that much harder than a regular meal. You just make more side dishes and buy a bigger piece of meat. Like a turkey instead of a chicken. No big deal (in theory). At this particular dinner party, I was proud that I’d chosen side dishes and timed everything perfectly so that everything would go off with a hitch. Potatoes were mashed and ready to go. I pulled everything out of the oven to carry to the table and…everything was cold! Ahhh!

I forgot that when you cook multiple dishes in the same oven they don’t cook for the same amount of time as the recipe calls for. Timing everything to be hot and ready at the same time is the hardest part of cooking, especially if you only have one oven. That takes a lot of practice and a healthy dose of stress. Today’s Moms cook regular meals in a crockpot or slow cooker, so why not do a slow cooker Thanksgiving dinner too?


This is a typical Thanksgiving menu for my family

We like to keep it simple and because no one has food allergies or gluten sensitivities and no one is vegan, it’s easier to do that. This is a very basic menu that doesn’t address any of those concerns, but if you’re hosting and have no idea where to start this is a good place. No one has ever complained or left hungry. We usually have 15-20 adults. For more people, we have more appetizers and two meats.

• Turkey
• 2 Potatoes (Mashed and Sweet)
• Mac & Cheese
• 2 or 3 Veggies (Green Bean Casserole, Baked Corn, and Cheesy Cauliflower)
• Stuffing
• Mushrooms (my grandma’s secret recipe)
• Pumpkin and/or apple pie for dessert
• Fruit salad

Turkey: The Main Attraction

Coat the turkey in buttered flavored Crisco or Olive Oil and season well (inside and out) with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Bake according to package directions. The cooking time and temperature will vary depending on the weight of your turkey. You’ll also need to give it at least 3 days to thaw out if it’s frozen.

Alternative Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Method:

Buy one of these Rival 22-Quart Roaster Ovens so your Turkey isn’t taking up valuable real estate space in your oven. Make sure that you get a turkey that will fit in it. This particular one will hold a 22 lb. turkey.

While you are shopping for your Roaster Oven, get some PanSaver Electric Roaster Liners and Turkey Lifters if you don’t already have them.

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Slow Cooker Thanksgving Side Dishes

To pull this off, you’ll need a double or triple slow cooker. Or several slow cookers. There are many brands and types. I’m not an expert so choose the one you like that fits your budget. I have a double slow cooker that’s similar to this Triple Slow Cooker but I absolutely love the concept of this Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System. They would be perfect for a potluck.
In the past I’ve made this slow cooker stuffing recipe and this slow cooker mac and cheese recipe in the Crock pot and they turned out great! If you’re unsure, do a practice run and make the dish for a regular dinner.

More Slow Cooker Sides

Here are some other slow cooker thanksgiving side dish recipes I’ve collected that I think would be great additions to the menu. You don’t have to make them all. Typically we go with 2 potatoes (mashed and sweet) and 2-3 vegetables (green bean casserole, baked corn, and carrots or cauliflower).

Crockpot Parmesan Ranch Mushrooms
Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots
Crockpot Pumpkin Risotto
Mashed Potatoes
I use an entire bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and make them the usual way by boiling the potatoes and then mashing with butter, milk, and salt. Then I use the slow cooker to keep them warm. But you can even make mashed potatoes directly in the crock pot. Or you can make these Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes in the crock pot.
• My baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe– just transfer to crockpot to stay warm or try this slow cooker version.
Slow cooker Candied Sweet Potatoes
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Mash
Crock Pot Cauliflower and Cheese
Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
Crock Pot Corn on the Cob
Apple Cranberry Sauce (if you want to get fancy. I just use the can.)
• Don’t forget the gravy. It’s OK to use Campbell’s gravy from the can or Heinz from the jar. Getting gravy right is hard.

This Autumn Squash Casserole is not a slow cooker recipe, but it’s my favorite and since you’ll have everything else in the slow cookers you’ll have oven space left for this.

Have you hosted a large family meal like Thanksgiving? What are your tips for getting everything ready ahead of time, so you can spend more time visiting and less time slaving away in the kitchen? I’d love to hear them.

More Recipes You’ll Love:

macandcheese pumpkinroundup pumpkinwhoopie

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Yell Less Love More Review: Why I Love The Orange Rhino’s New Book

I received an advanced copy of the book Yell Less Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too! in order to make this review possible. My opinions are 100% my own and I was planning to buy the book anyway.

This occasional Monday post is becoming my place to share personal stories about becoming the mom I want to be. I strive to be mindful, intentional and proactive, not a frazzled hot mess who lets my kids push my buttons. Just like life, finding your “Mom Voice”, discovering your calm and happy place, learning how to take care of you AND your family at the same time…. It’s all a journey with hills and valleys.

Yell Less Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too! Review

Last Monday I tried to write about a sort of “out of body experience*” I had at the Chick-fil-a play area when I was out with just my younger son on a particularly good day. A mom with two young kids, obviously frazzled, kept unconvincingly telling her kids she would leave them there if they didn’t get ready to go and I saw myself back when the kids were younger and pulling me in 100 directions. I tried to tell that story but I felt I needed to give the whole back story about a valley I’ve been traveling through on my parenting journey. A valley that unfortunately involves a lot of yelling at my kids.

You see, having two kids hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be and if I’m being completely honest, that made me angry. I started yelling at my kids because my usual tactics of distraction just didn’t work anymore. My husband was working second shift, so I didn’t have much of a break at the time and man, those boys sure do know how to push my buttons. The more I yelled, the less they listened and the situation got worse.

Related Post: 5 Unexpected Ways to Lighten the Mood When Anger Strikes

I think I’m in a better, less frazzled place than I was when the kids were smaller and it feels good, like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Watching that mom at Chick-fil-A made me realize that a lot of times I react for things that aren’t really that big of a deal. Maybe I feel like I can bring my A game easier with only 1 kid.  Who knows. But thanks to this book I feel like I’m ready to give not yelling for 365 another try. Today is my Day 1.

If you yell at your kids, if you’re struggling with yelling, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you too and you’re not traveling alone. You can learn how to yell less and love more thanks to Sheila McCraith, aka The Orange Rhino, and her brand new, completely awesome book called, “Yell Less Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!”
*Turns out in Chapter 5, Day 18, the Orange Rhino talks about her Out-of-body experiences too. I’m telling you, she’s in my head.

Here are My Thoughts on Yell Less Love More by Sheila McCraith (aka The Orange Rhino)

I’m really impressed with the book and grateful to Sheila for sharing her stories and struggles so honestly. There were so many times I was like- “Oh wow! Me too!” while I was reading. Especially the part about being so overwhelmed you do nothing- I’ve felt like that a lot in the last few years. If you feel that way too, don’t worry. The book gives you plenty of revelations, tips and actions to help you achieve your goals.

The best part of the book was that it felt like she was writing to me, as a friend. Sheila isn’t a parenting “expert” any more than the next mom. Yes, she has 4 boys, which alone makes her highly qualified to write on the topic. But she doesn’t write as an expert and the book never seems “judgy”. It’s real. She tells you the whole story, even the parts that make her uncomfortable. It’s that rare, raw honesty and her admission that what’s she’s telling you is making her uncomfortable and embarrassed that really drives home the lessons.

As I read I took notes about what I loved about the book. I took a lot of notes, but here are a few of the reasons I love the book and I think you will too.

Why I love Yell Less Love More by Sheila McCraith

• Yelling is a tough, emotional, exhausting problem that is not fun to talk about or solve. This book makes it fun.
• Everyone needs a cheerleader sometimes and Sheila is a great one! Her positivity really is contagious.
• Sheila’s story is honest and real. She tells you more than once that she failed and had to restart the challenge to not yell at her kids for 365 days.
• She also tells you why she failed each time and what she learned to be more successful on the next try.
• She includes a bazillion quotes and they all drive home her key points brilliantly. (Who doesn’t love a great motivational quote?)
• Yes, she tells her story and her epiphanies which you can take and learn from, but she never claims that every one of her solutions will work for you. She never makes any guarantees or promises like a “judgy expert” would. She tells it to you like it is- you have to do your own work, even if that work is hard.
• She even tells you why you should want to be an Orange Rhino and the unexpected benefits she’s seen on her journey.
• Did I mention that the book is fun and colorful, includes real pictures of Sheila and her family, and even has an Orange Rhino you can cut out and give to your kids to wave at you when you need a reminder? Yes, it has all of that too.
If you’re convinced, go now and order your copy of Yell Less, Love More on Amazon.

But I have no time to read or why do I need another parenting book collecting dust on my shelf?
This book is user friendly and designed for Moms like you. No, really it is.
• It can be read one day at a time. There are 30 days, plus a chapter for Beyond Day 30 so you can get to 365 Days without yelling.
• You could read one chapter at a time. Each chapter includes several days.
• You could skip to the end and just read the Summary of Key Points.
• You could just read the Revelations, Actions, and Tips at the end of each day.
• You could pull it out when you need an inspirational quote. There are tons throughout the book.
• You can write in it as you go along.
• You can use it to get started tracking your triggers.
I’m also starting AGAIN at Day 1 to stop yelling at my kids. If you want to join me and learn more about The Orange Rhino Challenge go check out The Orange Rhino Blog. There are tons of resources there, including a private community and an app.

Ready to get started. Be brave and share your “Uh oh I need to Change” moment in the comments below.

In full disclosure, I received a free advanced copy of the book to make this review possible.