Peanut Butter and Jelly Valentine’s Day Cookies

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

We make these cookies every year for Valentine’s Day, but my 7 year old daughter told me it was absolutely imperative we make them earlier this year, so here we are. They might look familiar to some of you because I have shared this recipe here in the past, but making tweaks and reposting recipes here is sort of my thing. Plus, they are so good, they’re worth a reshare every couple of years. 

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

Peanut Butter (or Sunbutter) and Jelly Valentine’s Day Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies

1 cup peanut butter or SunButter (for allergy-free recipe!)  
1-1/4 cups all-purpose (or gluten free) flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter (softened)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
1/2 cup jelly, jam, or preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the peanut butter or SunButter, butter, and egg. Beat in the sugars and vanilla until thoroughly combined, then beat in the flour mixture on low until well mixed. Roll tablespoon size balls on dough and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart, the slightly press each cookie into a round shape. (Tip: dip the bottom of a metal measuring cup in sugar and then press onto each cookie ball).) Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately use the bottom of a wooden spoon handle to make heart shapes in the center of each cookie while still hot. Fill each indentation with jelly, and allow to cool on a wire rack.  

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

Happy (way early) Valentine’s Day! I hope you like these as much as we do. 


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Almond Butter and Maple Oatmeal

Almond Butter Maple Oatmeal

Disclaimer: this isn’t a recipe so much as an epically delicious way to eat a bowl of oatmeal. But it really is too good not to share, especially when it’s the middle of winter and mornings are so cold and dark. This is such a comforting, healthy breakfast, and easy to prepare too.

Almond Butter Maple Oatmeal
Serves 4

1 cup quick Irish oatmeal

2 tablespoons raw almond butter
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 banana, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
handful raw almonds

Prepare oatmeal according to instructions on packaging. (We use quick Irish oatmeal.) Once oatmeal is cooked, pour into bowls. Drizzle each bowl with almond butter and maple syrup. Top with banana and strawberry slices, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I also love to top with raw almonds for a fantastic crunch. 

This is such a satisfying breakfast that keeps me full and energized all morning. Enjoy!


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Wholesome Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day

Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
This post is in partnership with NABISCO.
What would a new year be without trying to make positive diet choices? I’ll be the first to admit that when I make big New Year resolutions, they never work out. When I stick to small, manageable goals, however, they tend to succeed. One of those smaller goals that I’ve made for this year is to improve my snack choices, and not just in the morning (which is when I’m feeling the most motivated to make good choices). In fact, I came up with three different snack ideas to enjoy at different times of the day: late morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. And since I know many of you are likely trying to make wholesome snack choices as well, I thought I’d share them with you today.  
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day

LATE MORNING SNACK: TRISCUIT Crackers, low fat cottage cheese, strawberries, orange slices

I usually eat a very small breakfast with my coffee early in the morning, and I’m almost always hungry by about 10. If I’m looking for just a little something to tide me over until lunch, I grab a couple of TRISCUIT Crackers and munch on them. If I need something slightly more substantial, I pair them with a little low fat cottage cheese topped with bagel season, and a couple of strawberries and orange slices. This is also my son’s favorite snack, so we often share. It’s absolutely delicious and the perfect amount of filling. TRISCUIT Crackers have been a favorite of mine since I was a kid because of their yummy, slightly salty crunch. These days, I love eating them and serving them to my kids knowing that they’re non-GMO verified. I also love that TRISCUIT Original crackers start with three simple ingredients: just and baked with 100% whole grain wheat, oil, and salt. 
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
AFTERNOON SNACK: GOOD THINS Snacks, almonds, apple slices, and olives

Afternoon snacks are my favorite! I sometimes go for a run or do a quick yoga workout on my lunch break after I eat lunch, and that tends to leave me hungry in the afternoon. My daughter always asks for an after school snack as well. We came up with what has become our go-to afternoon snack: GOOD THINS Snacks paired with a few almonds, apple slices, and some green and kalamata olives. GOOD THINS Snacks are the unanimous favorite crunchy snack in our home. Made with real ingredients, no artificial colors or flavors, no high fructose corn syrup, and only 120-130 calories per serving (depending on flavor), they are great for munching. They’re also a delicious, flavorful way to snack gluten free (and are certified gluten free by GFCO). They’re also non-GMO verified. Did I mention how tasty they are? Combined with almonds, olives, and apple slices, they’re the ideal snack for that in between lunch and dinner period. 
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day

EVENING SNACK: WHEAT THINS Snacks, sharp cheddar, grapes, orange slices

One of my favorite times of the day is after the kids are in bed, when my husband and I finally have a few minutes alone together. I’ll be honest, we usually cram in dishes and laundry during this time then promptly pass out, but when we can, we bask in the bliss of couch snuggles, books and movies, and our favorite: WHEAT THINS Snacks paired with a few slices of aged white cheddar cheese, some white grapes, and orange slices. WHEAT THINS Snacks are almost as delicious as the glorious silence that fills our home in the night hours (love you kids, but man is that silence blissful). With no artificial flavors or colors and baked with 100% whole grain (21 grams per serving), they’re a little salty, a little sweet, and have an incredible crunch. They really are a great evening treat. 
Better-For-You Snack Ideas for Every Time of Day
It’s nice to have a line up of wholesome snack ideas to enjoy at different times of the day without having to think about it. And having them planned out keeps me from mindlessly grabbing chocolate or potato chips and overindulging. If these snack ideas look good to you too, you can grab the ingredients, including our beloved TRISCUIT Crackers, GOOD THINS Snacks, and WHEAT THINS Snacks, at your local Walmart, or use pick up or delivery. And be sure to take advantage of this Ibotta offer! Happy New Year Snacking, friends!

Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Cranberry Cucumber Vodka Spritzers

Cranberry Cucumber Vodka Spritzers

This week felt 8746 days long, and I for one am looking forward to some major relaxation this weekend. (I mean, as much as one can relax with a 5 and 7 year old running madly through the house. I love them so much, I swear, but man are those little babes loud.) I plan on kicking my feet up (even if just for a few minutes) and enjoying one of my favorite wintertime cocktails: a cranberry cucumber vodka spritzer. Recipe is below!

Cranberry Cucumber Vodka Spritzer
Servings: 1

1.5 fluid ounces cucumber vodka (I love Prairie Organic brand) 
4 fluid ounces organic cranberry juice, chilled
1 ounce simple syrup (equal parts parts sugar and water; instructions below)
Splash of soda/sparkling water, chilled
Organic cucumber slice (for garnish)
Organic orange slice (for garnish)
Fresh organic mint sprig (for garnish)
Organic cranberries (for garnish)

To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. (I recommend one cup of each so you have more on hand than enough for just one spritzer). Bring to a boil, stirring consistently until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

Combine cucumber vodka, organic cranberry juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Fill a glass half way with ice cubes, and pour cocktail over ice. Top with a splash or two of soda. Garnish with a cucumber slice, an orange slice, a sprig of fresh mint, and few fresh cranberries.  

Cheers to a (hopefully) relaxing weekend!


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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AKC National Championship to Air on ABC January 17th

The AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin® will air on its new network, ABC, as a three-hour special this Sunday January 17, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The show features thousands of dogs from around the country and the world competing for the coveted title of National Champion. Hosting the 20th Anniversary … Continue reading AKC National Championship to Air on ABC January 17th Dog Blog

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A Look Back at 2020 + Plans for 2021

How to Grow Organic Food Inside Your Home

Happy New Year! Even though we’re five days into January, today is a day of firsts. It’s the first day back at in-person school for my kids, who have been home e-learning (and then on winter break) for the past six weeks. It’s the first day I am back full time working here at Bubby and Bean after only working part time hours (and even taking several glorious days off) for the past almost two weeks. And it’s our first official blog post of 2021. 
For this annual recap post, I usually reflect on the past year not just in terms of Bubby and Bean content, but also some aspects of my personal life. Honestly, I don’t know what I can say about 2020 that hasn’t been said, but I’ll try.

It was the strangest year of my life, and likely most of your lives too. The hardest part of it for me was my stepmom passing away from cancer in July, and how difficult her final days were due to visitor restrictions because of Covid. The rest of it, while very challenging, was not what I consider to be a true struggle. My husband, who has worked in the live music industry his entire career, was furloughed in late March, which has obviously been quite challenging. Our trip to Iceland was canceled, as was our trip to Florida in July and the rest of our travel plans. My kids missed out on activities and school. And the year went out with a bang on Christmas, which was not only the first Christmas in my life I haven’t spent with my sister, but also the night my dad fell down his stairs and was to have emergency surgery on a broken femur. (He spent a week in the hospital and is now in a rehab facility.) 

There was a lot of good in 2020 too. For the first time in the almost 15 years my husband and I have been together, he was home most of the year. Over time, I got used to him being on tour with the band most of the time, but it was never easy. It has been the biggest silver lining to have him here for every holiday and birthday, and to get to spend true quality time with our kids for the first time in their lives. We also all learned how to be flexible humans who make the best out of every situation. We have all spent more time together than we will probably ever get to again. And while it hasn’t been without difficulty, I have been incredibly lucky to get more work campaigns than ever before, which has enabled me to support my family while my husband is out of work. I also usually stray from getting political here, but I was incredibly relieved with the election results. I learned so much in 2020 that I could probably devote and entire blog series to it, so I’ll stop now.  This was a year full of unfair, horrific loss to millions of people, but I also appreciate all of the positive things that came out of it. 
As far as plans for 2021, you already know that I don’t do resolutions. For me personally, the pressure of them isn’t healthy for my anxiety, nor is the disappointment when they don’t work out. I have lots of small, attainable goals, and if they work out, great. If they don’t, that’s cool too. I personally think that being present and being grateful are all you need. I don’t need to climb an invisible ladder to nowhere that’s based on more! more! more! (And honestly, I feel like always expecting to do more and do better and get bigger comes from a place of privilege, and privilege is something I want to be more aware of this year, both in myself and in others.) This year, I just want to go with the flow, and I think 2020 prepared me for that. I want to be ready for and open to whatever comes my way, and I want to do my best with it in a way that allows me to be content and not overwhelmed This applies to my personal life, and it applies to Bubby and Bean as well. I want to continue to create meaningful content, share my favorite products and services with you, and give glimpses into my life (we’re all friends here, after all). I want to try out new things in order to do that (I promise I’ll do more Instagram Reels, and maybe I’ll finally give TikTok a chance… or not), but not in a way that will sacrifice what is already working. I have little interest in gaining more followers, but I do want to continue to create meaningful engagement with all of you. And I want to continue to love what I do while also getting more comfortable with realizing when I have to turn things down because I’m overworked. I plan to give myself grace in 2021, and to continue to do what I can to help others as well. 
Okay, that’s enough of that! Let’s get on to the point of this annual post (and probably my favorite post each year): the highlights of 2020 here on the blog. You can click on any of the images or the links below them to see the posts in full. Thank you for taking this look back with me!

In January, I shared 6 easy ways to refresh school lunches in the New Year

In February, I shared an updated version on my favorite vegetarian tortellini soup recipe.

The Best Items At Trader's Joes, 2020 Edition

I shared my 16 favorites items from Trader Joe’s in March.

How To Easily Organize Your Pantry and Fridge

Quarantine meant lots of organizing in my kitchen, and in April I shared tips for organizing both your pantry and fridge

How to Be Eco-Friendly at Home

In honor of Earth Day, I shared 10 ways to be eco-conscious in your own home

Vegetarian Club Sandwiches

I shared my favorite veggie club sandwich recipe in May.

In June, I shared an important post in response to the BLM movement about listening, learning, and taking action

In July, I said goodbye to my stepmom.

Also in July, I told you all about our amazing Gardyn system and how we are able to grow organic food in our own home, as can be seen in the top image of this post.  (P.S. If you want to purchase a Gardyn of your own, use this link and code BubbyAndBean for $ 100 off!)
Tofu Caprese Salad
I shared the most delicious tofu caprese salad recipe in August. 

6 Tips For Better Snacking

In September, I shared 6 tips for better snacking
Halloween Themed Mini Veggie Pizzas
These Halloween-themed mini veggies pizzas were a hit in October.
5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals
Gift Ideas For Encouraging Learning and Creativity: Kiwi Co

Gift ideas for encouraging learning and creativity was one of my favorite December posts.
Peppermint Bark Reindeer Chow
And finally, I shared this peppermint bark chow mix recipe that was a staple for us this holiday season.
If you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate all of you so much, but I hold a special place in my heart for those of you who still read this blog, and blogs in general – they’re no longer the queen of social media, but I still feel they’re the most important. If you still read, please comment below! I’m always grateful for the traffic coming here in my analytics, but I want to have the opportunity to actually engage with you as well. I’d say happy 2020, but I don’t want to jinx it! Thank you for being here. 


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

Posted in Pet Health Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment & Halo Announce A New Dog Resource, & Halo Announce A New Dog Resource,, & Launch the “Walk and Wag” Photo Contest with Celebrity Judge Olivia Munn to Salute Dog Heroes Halo Pet Food for a Year, 15,000 Halo Meals and $ 10,000 in Grants Courtesy of MyPetCandle to Donate to Animal Shelters, Training with Animal Planet’s Pet Expert Andrea Arden, Wag!

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How to Calm a Dog During Fireworks

Firework displays may be fun for human participants but the loud noises and flashing lights of holiday fireworks spell absolute terror for many dogs–so much so that many dogs go missing after…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


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Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

This post is in partnership with InnovAsian, but all opinions are my own. 

I will just come right out and say that this is one of those semi-homemade recipes, because, well, that’s how I operate. But every time I post one of these recipes (or more accurately, hacks), I get an overwhelmingly positive response. We’re all busy, man. Most of us don’t have time or energy to create lavish meals from scratch every night. And that’s why I share these.

I also post almost exclusively vegetarian recipes on here, because, well, I’m a vegetarian and have been most of my life. But both of my kids and my husband enjoy eating meat, and if I can whip them up something they truly love that isn’t vegetarian for once, they’re stoked.

All of this is why I have been so into InnovAsian foods lately. My kids and my husband all love sweet and sour chicken, and tend to choose that when we order Chinese take out. So I decided I was going to surprise them and make it at home. Then, because I am realistic in terms of my kitchen accomplishments, I shifted gears and did a little research on frozen versions instead. My research led me to Walmart and the InnovAsian products in their frozen aisle. I’ll talk more about their awesomeness in a minute, but for now, here is my recipe/hack!

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 3-4

1 18 oz bag InnovAsian Sweet and Sour Chicken  

3 cups (1 bag) InnovAsian Sticky White Rice
3 cups broccoli, chopped
1 orange, wedged
Prepare InnovAsian Sweet and Sour Chicken according to package directions. I prefer the oven preparation, but the pan-fry method is faster and can be done in less than 10 minutes! While chicken is cooking, place the bag of sauce from the package in a bowl of warm water to thaw. Place self-venting bag of InnovAsian Sticky White Rice with proper side up in microwave and and heat on high for 5 minutes. Steam the broccoli florets for 3-5 minutes until tender (but not mushy). Chop scallions. When chicken is fully cooked, place in a bowl (or leave in pan if you pan fried), and stir in sauce with chicken (heat an additional 2 minutes if pan fried). Stir in broccoli. Plate rice, then pour sweet and sour chicken over it. Top with scallions and garnish with orange wedges.
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
And there you have it! A fancy sweet and sour chicken dinner in less than 15 minutes. My kids and husband rave about how delicious this is (okay, Emmett picks out the broccoli and scallions with all sorts of dramatic whines but I’ll take what I can get), and I love that it (and all InnovAsian meals!) are filled with protein at a great price. InnovAsian also makes a delicious Vegetable Fried Rice that I love to pair with pan fried tofu and hot sauce. They’re also great on their own without any of these little “upgrades.” Best of all, they save time, energy, and money, which these days all feel more precious than ever. 

Grab yourself some InnovAsian products from the freezer section the next time you’re at Walmart, or order online with Walmart pick up, and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you if you try this recipe hack as well. 

Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Thylacine was more a marsupial coyote than a marsupial wolf

One of the most common memes in our popular understanding of zoology is that the thylacine of Tasmania was the marsupial equivalent of the gray wolf.  This idea comes from a rather superficial understanding of its morphology, and lots of speculation about its behavior have stemmed from this popular understanding. One idea is that they were pack-hunters like wolves and dingoes, and they would have been murder on Tasmania’s sheep industry. Therefore, the final extinction of the thylacine was largely predicated upon a rational fear that the creatures would have been detrimental to sheep husbandry.

A lot of these speculations come from a belief that the thylacine was quite large. As I have discussed before on this space, larger carnivores are largely forced to hunt larger prey to survive. Otherwise, the larger size is of no benefit to the animal. Ecologists have found that the mass of 21 kg (about 46 pounds) is the size at which a carnivorous mammal can no longer subsist on smaller prey alone.

Thylacines were estimated to have weighed 29. 5 kg (about 65 pounds), which meant that their diet would have been larger prey. However, really big prey species are almost absent from Tasmania. The largest kangaroo in Tasmania is the Tasmanian Eastern gray kangaroo, which weighs is roughly the size of the smaller forms of white-tailed deer in the US.  Further, analysis of Thylacine skulls revealed that they could not withstand very much force. So the thylacine would not have been a very effective predator of prey the size of an Eastern gray kangroo, and it would have had a lot of trouble grappling with a fully grown sheep.

The fact that thylacines would have had problems killing large prey creates a contradiction in their supposed larger size.  If thylacines really did weigh 65 pounds on average, then they would be a major exception to the rule that larger predators must hunt larger prey to survive.

Well, a new analysis by researchers at Monash University has revealed that traditional estimates of thylacine size were greatly exaggerated.  Using complex morphometric analyses on various preserved specimens, the researchers revealed that the mean weight of a male thylacine was 19.7 kilograms (43 pounds). The mean weight of a female was 13. 7 kilograms (30 pounds).

These animals would have been roughly the same size of an Eastern coyote. Now, Eastern coyotes can live on large prey or small prey, and they can scavenge quite well. But they have skulls that can withstand blunt force from a sheep or a deer that a pack of them has run down. The Eastern coyote can live as a fox or a wolf, depending upon the conditions of the ecosystem in which it lives.

A thylacine would have been a smaller prey specialist, and because its weight did not exceed 21 kilograms, its subsistence on smaller prey did not violate the “costs of carnivory” rule.

Indeed, the only predatory mammal I can think of that does come close to violating this rule is the maned wolf, which sometimes weighs 22 or 23 kg. It lives almost entirely on small prey and fruit. This species has been persecuted for its attacks on livestock, but like the thylacine, it is not much of a threat to them.

Of course, there will be debate about this finding. Many historical accounts of thylacines suggest or imply or even outright claim that they were killing sheep and dogs left and right.

But the truth is that Europeans had their own concept of what a creature like this could do or was likely to do, and they merely transposed these ideas onto a creature that had the superficial appearance of a wolf or hyena.

We should by now stop trying to pigeonhole the thylacine into a marsupial wolf and should try to appreciate it for what it was.

Or might still be.*


*I don’t believe they still exist, but I certainly wish they did!





Natural History

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