It’s time for another installment of Read & Eat! As a refresher, this is where bookworms and foodies unite. Except not super fancy, of course.
Today we are going to get our DIY on and love it! Let’s
whip grind up some homemade lemon Larabars and delve into new decor and design ideas with Young House Love. Yes, Young House Love from the uber popular and joyously, determinedly upbeat DIY & lifestyle blog of the same name. Both are cheerful and sunshiny, save you money, and give you the satisfaction of having done something yourself.
Today is also my darling elder child’s 7th birthday (total disbelief), so focusing on something healthy & nutritious like Larabars is probably a good idea, before the birthday cake eating commences.
As always, let’s hit the books first.
Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love by Sherry & John Petersik
Available on Amazon (affiliate link)
243 sounds like a lot of ideas, and it is. This collection of home decor strategies and inspiration is refreshing and unique in a particular way; it’s practical. I’m someone who waits for a large round mirror at Target to go on sale from $40 to $11, and still questions whether the purchase is worth it; most decorating books push my wallet, time, and access to tools past the point of any project happening in the next five-to-ten years. With Young House Love, everything seems possible – and possibly done for less than $25, in many cases.
Are you a new reader and never heard of Young House Love’s blog? Have no fear, the book stands on it’s own.
Have you had a long-time love affair with the YHL blog? It won’t feel stale at all; I have been a regular reader for at least two years, and each project was either new to me or had some sort of different spin or recommendation. In fact, a few of them were totally new concepts (for me) and it was a very pleasant surprise!
While some of the ideas have similar renditions existing on Pinterest for quite awhile, the tips provided in the book can make the difference between your project turning out lovely or problematic. YHL offers ways to personalize or customize almost every project to suite your taste, so if your decor doesn’t quite jive with Sherry and John’s the book is still worth a read. I highly recommend buying it for yourself (vs borrowing form a DIY-loving-friend or the local library) so you can access the tutorials, paint recommendations, and tips when you end up spontaneously working on a project. Who hasn’t seen spray paint on sale and suddenly changed their weekend plans?
These are projects you can jump into pretty much fearlessly, with the tips provided – and most aren’t long-term commitments. As a renter who is always looking for tenant-friendly projects, at least half the book was easily applicable to me; or could be. Can’t do that awesome stencil they try out on a wall? I bet you could on a folding screen, a piece of wood leaned against a wall behind a chair, or on a big canvas you could display. Finding home decor books as a renter is a challenge, so I happily recommend this to any non-home-owner’s little library.
Craving something similarly sweet? Consider The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and if you’re a knitter/crafter Mason Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters’ Guide by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne (they also have a blog). (Those are affiliate links)
The only ingredients are a lemon and some dates, raw cashews, and raw almonds. I had 8 homemade lemon Larabars at the end of this adventure!
Alright, let’s eat!
I love any food that is easy to grab and go, filling, and nutritious. I’m one of those people who always seems ravenous, so a sports bar is very alluring. I’ve tried a lot of different types, and this year the Larabar is my absolute favorite. They have great flavors and are almost unbelievably healthy; only a few all-natural ingredients, no animal products, and the ingredients are generally raw. It seems impossible, but their flavors really do taste like what they say – how on earth do they make a handful of dates, nuts, and dried fruits taste like a cherry pie? Insane.
Also insane; the price. In my region, a not-on-sale Larabar can cost $1.28. For one bar. If you eat one every day for a month (I usually only do on workdays, though) you would have paid about $40 before tax. For some of the flavors, totally worth it, and you can always stock up during a sale. Some of the flavors are oh-so-easy to replicate at home, though, and can cost a fraction of the price.
There are a ton of homemade Larabar recipes online, but the lemon one I found that seemed closest to an actual Larabar is from the blog A Thrifty Mom. To start off with, I halved the recipe – until I knew I liked it, I wasn’t ready to invest in just that many ingredients. After halving the recipe I actually bumped the lemon zest and juice back up to her original amount, which means I essentially used twice as much lemon. I do love some lemon, though.
Check out the original recipe from A Thrifty Mom for sure! I rate it a 5 star recipe – seriously, in a blind taste test I’m pretty sure the average person could not tell the difference between her version and a real, store-bought Larabar.
These turned out delicious, and even with halving the recipe I had a whole week’s worth. I would estimate it took me about 10 minutes to make them, in my little bitty 3-cup food processor. I saved some of them squished into a bar-shape, but then I got lazy and just rolled the rest into balls that had the same amount of stuff as the bar-shaped ones. They were easy to wrap up in saran wrap, and kept in the fridge for the entire week really well!
Up for more Reading & Eating?
Read & Eat: Steel-Cut Blueberry Banana Oatmeal & The Outlander Series
Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Anyone know a good, affordable source for dried cherries? I’d love to try making the Cherry Pie larabar at home, but dried cherries are so pricy I suspect I wouldn’t save much cash. Have another favorite blogger-turned-author book to recommend? Other convenience foods you’ve started making at home?
PS: All opinions are my own and recommendations are from my personal experience. Links to products on this page are affiliate links.