Homemade real food, all natural, gluten-free protein bars!


I have a happy story about fitness goals for you, plus a healthy, balanced real food snack bar recipe! Perfect for back-to-school or your own on-the-go snacking needs!

So earlier this year I did an experiment and tracked my food and training sessions in MyFitnessPal and set macro goals for myself. I think I figure out that about 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat worked well for me. I tried to make each meal and snack pretty balanced with that ratio. At the time I had been doing a pretty low carb version of Paleo, so the increase in carbs was a little scary, but it worked out well and I lost a few pounds and felt great with my training.

Assembling balanced meals was pretty easy, but it's hard to find satisfying snacks that have a good mix of fat, carbs, and protein and that aren't processed with a million ingredients! We eat mostly veggies, meat, and whole foods carb sources, but it's not always feasible to have a snack of all of those components. We do a lot of banana/peanut butter protein shakes at home (I highly recommend my easy, real food recipe!) but they're not feasible to make at work or on-the-go.

I'd heard from one of the fitness/training/self image leaders I love (Molly Galbraith of GirlsGoneStrong.com) that she made a homemade protein bar with mostly protein powder, peanut butter, and oats, so it had a good balance of macros. At the time I first heard about it we were eating a more strict Paleo diet and wouldn't consider adding in a whole grain like oats. But when I started eating more carbs during my experiment, I found I needed a low-sugar dense carb source particularly to round out my snacks, so I figured I'd try adding in some gluten-free oats. I actually did well with them, and played around with my own oat/peanut butter/protein bar recipe and now make these pretty regularly!!

I've tried several variations--you can use collagen peptides protein powder or unflavored whey protein or high quality vanilla whey protein powder, almond or peanut butter or peanut butter powder, cocoa powder if you want... many variations! They can even be dairy-free if you use the collagen peptides.

Real food, all natural, gluten-free protein snack bars



    1. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl; mix well. I use a fork!
    2. Add milk of choice a few tablespoons or splashes at a time, mixing to incorporate. The only way you can mess this recipe up is by adding too much liquid! It's hard to stir and very sticky, but try not to add any more liquid than absolutely necessary! Add vanilla extract at this stage, as well. (NOTE: If using nut butter rather than peanut butter powder, combine milk, vanilla, and nut butter in bottom of bowl first and stir until nut butter is mixed in to liquid. Then add dry ingredients.)
    3. Lay out a 12" or so long piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Distribute mixture into a loaf shape. Wrap plastic wrap around starting at one end and roll out until mixture is packed down and relatively uniform.
    4. Refrigerate or freeze for 15-20 minutes until solid but not rock hard.
    5. To cut into eight relatively even-sized pieces, cut in half, then cut halves in half, then cut those halves in half on each side. (Another note: You can skip the rolling step and flatten the bars like cookie dough, then cut into granola bar-shaped rectangles. We did this for the first handful of times we made the recipe, but it was hard to make them uniform in size and the bits of plastic wrap would fall off and get messy.)

    Stop adding liquid when it looks like this!

    Store in the fridge or freezer. If you put too much liquid, definitely do the freezer! They will be super sticky as they thaw and lose their shape, but still be tasty.

    I put four into travel containers (plastic wrap intact) and give one container to husband and bring one to work for myself most weeks. We don't always end up needing them, so it works out perfectly for a week's worth of morning or afternoon snacks!

    They are SO easy to take with us or eat in a pinch, and don't contain processed mystery ingredients of your basic store bought protein bar. When I put the recipe into MyFitnessPal a while back with the protein powder I was using at the time, it told me 1 bar had 21 grams of protein!

    I've started keeping these ingredients in the kitchen as staples. You can shop my favorites here!

    Falling in love with sewing again


    I've been sewing for myself for a long time. I grew up around sewing machines but finally got the sewing bug one summer, I think right before I started college. I made myself a halter sundress from this pattern and a light bulb went off in my head and I was hooked. Oh, so THIS is how garments are put together!

    Fast forward a few years. I asked for sewing machine as a graduation present from grad school and when now-husband and I got our first apartment together, I set it up in our office. I had a lot of time on my hands for a while there, and I played around with mending, refashioning, sewing from scratch, making slipcovers, many Anthro-inspired embellished tees (very hot in 2009), and learning new DIYs. I started this blog (then called Adventures in Dressmaking) and found the online world of seamstresses like me!

    I've made a LOT of garments since then. Two years ago I counted 119 dresses, including my wedding dress and my 5 bridesmaids' dresses. Plus tops, a few costumes, lots of home dec items for so many color schemes and room styles... a lot of sewing.

    I really enjoyed and got good at refashioning and making store-bought clothes fit and look better! So I wrote my book, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers, on that topic. (Please check it out here!)

    In summary... you could say I'm into sewing. And yet, not long ago, I found myself really in a sewing rut. Not sewing much at all. In all of 2015 I only made 13 dresses or tops, most of them in the summer (so for months I wasn't sewing anything for myself). I know it's seriously seasonal, since in the winter and spring here in Oregon I really hunker down and wear the a really basic jeans/riding boots/sweater uniform most days. No room for full-skirted cotton dresses or lightweight halter tops, some of my favorite things to make. But still, I could definitely be sewing some things, and recently I haven't been.

    But it all changed this summer. You'll notice a much more populated dress/garment gallery for 2016. I made some pretty fabulous dresses even in winter (see this and this) and I think it kicked me off for the year. That and, when it comes to sewing for yourself, body image has a lot to do with what you want to wear and if you feel like wearing fun, pretty things--and this year I've been feeling really good about myself. (Win!)

    I realized I've fallen in love with sewing, again! This year not only have I made a lot of clothing, I've made a lot of favorite new pieces that I really love wearing!! It's such a good feeling to have a closet of options for dressing up on weekends, trips, or date nights and knowing each opportunity is a chance to wear something I put a lot of love and time into!

    I think another thing that's helped is my sewing resolutions back from January 2015... I realized I really need to slow down, "read the manual," and do things right if I want to love my projects. (Another recommended reading is my post about getting into a sewing groove.) 

    Here are a few of my favorite projects from this year! But honestly, I love them all! (Check out my dress/garment gallery to see the clothing projects I've done in chronological order, most recent first.)

    I really messed with and made up this pattern and this FABULOUS fabric made this dress even more special. I got out of my comfort zone on the bright color and short length and it paid off! I love it!
    Buffalo check gingham is just the best. I LOVE this dress and it's so comfy and easy to wear!!
    I've since shortened this dress, making it more wearable for everyday and with flats. I love the off-the-shoulder look and soft stripe!
    I've made... well, several off-the-shoulder projects lately. This denim one and this gauze top (which I shortened after blogging about) are SO fun to wear.
    MORE gingham. I told you, it is the greatest. Look how happy I look in this ridiculously simple top!!

    It's honestly hard to pick, though, because I love so many of my recent creations in my garment gallery... a chic LWD, a super comfy knit romper cover-up... hard to choose. 

    I'm feeling really happy with my sewing skills, motivation, and practical/wearable creations this year. I wanted to share in case any of you are in a sewing rut, and if you're not, hear what motivates you! Have you had phases with your sewing journey? I'd love to hear about it!

    Ocean prints & paintings, and easy DIY wall art


    Sometimes I do crafty projects other than sewing or cooking!!

    I've been inspired lately by the beachy art print trend. Maybe because it's summer, maybe because it goes so well with indigo patterned pillows and house plants which I've also bee into lately... I wanted to bring it into my home!

    Here are a few of my faves. Common elements between them are saturated, bright colors (or pastels) (mostly blues), plants, and natural wood, leather, or rattan, and fabric textures. Aren't these rooms lovely??
    1. Amber Interiors for Framebridge 2. Amber Interiors 3. Domino Magazine 4. Amber Interiors 5. Amber Interiors 6. Emily Henderson 7. Amber Interiors 8. Amber Interiors 9. Emily Henderson (Bri Emery's home)

    Large photo prints can be expensive but I had an old square canvas that had been in our guest bathroom at one point. It was a clearance Ross buy of some pink flowers on aqua. Pretty, but too girly for my taste now. I figured I could remake it into whatever I wanted!

    So, I pulled out my easel and paints (which I use about once every three years--other paintings here and here). I drew a horizontal line 8" or 9" up on the canvas so my "horizon" line would be straight, and then just started mixing colors and painting!

    I mixed blues with grey to make them a little less bright and white to lighten. I also like to do the technique of mixing the colors on the canvas a little; it adds texture. Particularly to the wave-ey portion.

    We really needed some more color in our bedroom! I love the blue.

    This was a super fun weekend project and I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick DIY and room refresh!

    If you're inspired, pin this post to save for later!

    Versatile denim ruffle off-the-shoulder top


    I just love the off-the-shoulder trend!! I've worn this top quite a few times, particularly after shortening it, and it was so fun and easy to make, so I made another! This time out of a lightweight denim and with a very different proportion to the ruffle!

    I used McCall's M6558 for the ruffle and super basic loose bodice with armholes, but it's pretty basic and obviously mine doesn't look like any of the options on the pattern! I tweaked it a lot. (See below for details.)

    I seriously debated between wearing it with white jeans or cut-offs or black jeans. I went with black to be more sleek ;) but it would work so well with either!

    If you're inspired... pin from this post to save for later!

    Pattern: McCall's M6558

    • Extended the bodice of view A rather than giving it an elastic waist and skirt
    • Made the ruffle 2/3 as long
    • Cut the armholes a little higher since I knew from wearing this top that sometimes I want to pull the ruffle down a little lower than the armholes will allow without some bra showage!

    And if you don't feel like sewing... now is a great time of year to buy fun, lightweight tops! Here are some similar ones at great prices!

    Celebrating our anniversary two ways--and a giveaway!


    We celebrated our FIFTH wedding anniversary last week. FIVE years ago we became married people! FIVE years ago I made my wedding dress and bridesmaids' dresses, made vintage-inspired decor for our wedding venue, gathered our friends and family for a very personal service, and danced the night away. (See all my wedding posts here.) SO much has changed since then in our relationship and we're happier than ever and excited to celebrate!!

    We've done little getaways around our anniversaries in the past but this year we got to celebrate in grander fashion on two weekend getaways. One of which you can win for yourself!

    Last weekend we went to Central Oregon with my parents for a two-night stay in Bend with a trip to Smith Rock. It was super fun. We've been there before but not in the summer! We had such a relaxed time, just doing a few touristy thing with my parents and relaxing at the hotel. We were pretty disconnected and didn't take many photos at all so I don't have any to show you here... but you can see a few snapshots on my Instagram!

    Then this past weekend we did a staycation just for ourselves. We went to The Heathman, which is pretty much the quintessential historic Portland hotel in my eyes, and is beautiful and super centrally located in downtown.

    We each work within a mile of downtown Portland, and have been driving through on the regular for most of our real adult lives... so downtown on its own is not too special, but we've never spent the night in a central, easy location and not had to worry about parking or traffic or finding a place to eat! We really, really enjoyed having a little oasis/home base and got to enjoy our favorite city like tourists! (The best of both worlds!)

    Our room was lovely with both historic and modern touches. The Heathman recently went through a huge "landfill-free" renovation, making it one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Portland!

    The room came with neat little touches like this literary companion to Portland and really nice quality soaps/toiletries.

    We had drinks at the hotel bar (1927, a speakeasy open only to hotel guests)--such a treat because going to bars together is something we literally never do!! I don't drink hardly at all, and we don't eat out much, so having a glass of rosé (husband tried an Oregon line of scotch that was excellent) was a very decadent experience!

    We also had room service for dinner--more locally sourced choices on the food menu, and my salad with tangy dressing and baked lemon slices was excellent. So were my roasted Brussels sprouts (one of my all-time favorite veggies!).

    In the morning, we did what we do on most of our little vacations away--got up slowly, wandered around to find some coffee for husband. Except this time we got to go to his favorite downtown coffee shop, and wander around downtown Portland at 9am on a weekend, seeing a totally different crowd and vibe than usual! Other tourists, some early shoppers... all in the beautiful summer weather as stores were opening and the market was going on. We did a little shopping, also something I almost never have time for.

    The Heathman is an excellent place to stay in downtown Portland, in the heart of the financial and cultural district, right around the theaters, park blocks, Pioneer Courthouse Square and mall, downtown Nordstrom, and more. It was so fun for us to spend a night away there, and would be great for anyone visiting from out of town!

    The Heathman is offering a night stay there as a giveaway to one of my readers--just head over to my Instagram for a chance to win!! The details are in this photo. Winner will be chosen Sunday, 8/21. May you enjoy a stay as relaxing and refreshing as ours!!

    Thanks to The Heathman for providing us covering all of our accommodations at our stay. I received no other compensation for this post.

    White oversized polka dot shift dress, new LWD


    I love the LWD (little white dress). There is just something special about an all-white lacy top or dress for summer! I've made quite a few. (I think my favorite is this one from last summer.) But I tried something new this time around with a simple shape and a very cool woven textured huge polka dot voile!

    I used my go-to plain shift dress pattern, Simplicity 2584 (see all my versions of it here). You could use any basic shift dress pattern. I am used to doing major modifications to this simple little pattern, and this dress was no exception! It doesn't look anything like the original Cynthia Rowley finished dress versions.

    The fabric is from a wholesale company my mom shops from for her business. It's some kind of voile, Maggy London brand. (She didn't realize the dots were so big when she ordered it, so she gave it to me!) Not sure of the fabric content but it's a little stiff and resilient to pressing! Perfect for a dress, though, with a full lining.

    Pretty cool print-matching on the back, huh??

    A plain LWD is so elegant! Definitely just more dressed-up than ones I've made in the past.

    Oh, also, the fabric is just barely off-white, but I couldn't find a lining that was the right color. So I used a pure white lining, which makes the dress look lighter overall. I'm good with it! It's an LWD with texture and multi-dimensional color.

    Pattern: Simplicity 2584 (see all my versions of it here)
    • Did not cut the slit at the neckline; cut the scoop neck wider
    • Made it a little shorter
    • Gave it a full lining instead of a facing

    Shop my all-time favorite summer heels and some other options & accessories here!


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