Lemon Crumble Bars and Being Bored

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Only 5 ingredients stand between you and these amazingly delicious and super easy Lemon Crumble Bars!

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Alright parents, I’ve got a question for you.  Now think about this one long and hard… Do your kids know how to be bored?  Seriously.  Don’t answer me yet.  Think about it.  Do your kids know how to be truly BORED?

A week or so ago we were running behind on our way to summer camp and realized as we were backing out of the driveway that Jack had left his iPad in the house.  We didn’t have time to go back and get it, so there was an instant sigh from the back seat followed by, “What am I going to do on the way to day camp?”  Now, despite the fact that we are just 10 tiny minutes from camp, my sweet boy was flustered.   I realized at that minute that my kid has no idea how to be bored.

See when we were kids, we didn’t have the instant-on variety of entertainment kids have today.  There were no iPads to keep us occupied in waiting rooms, cars, and restaurants.  We didn’t have cartoons on-demand whenever we wanted.  We had to wait until Saturday morning to watch them with a bowl of cereal.  We didn’t have the luxury of being able to Google some of many of life’s greatest questions; we had to pull out the encyclopedias.

We had no choice but to be bored.  And we had to fill the empty space with our imagination.  We had to get creative to occupy ourselves on road trips and vacations.  Having idle time was just an opportunity to learn about ourselves by using our imaginations to escape that boredom.  I feel like an opportunity to be creative helps us find the things we like and enjoy – writing, creating stories, going on adventures.

Later that week, we walked into a restaurant to find several tables around us that had kids with their faces buried in tablets – some playing games, others watching cartoons.  Again, I realized, we’re raising kids who lack the capacity to be idle – to have absolutely nothing to do.

I’ll be the first to admit that my kid doesn’t understand the idea of being bored.  He’s living in this generation where things are constantly at our fingertips and he hasn’t developed the skill to fill down time with his own brain.  Do I take responsibility for that?  Absolutely.  I’m not perfect.  But I’m working hard to change that.  Sometimes that phrase, “I’m bored” makes me feeling like I’m a bad parent, like I’m not doing something I should be doing.  I feel pressured to fill that void for my kid.  But the truth is, I feel like we’re doing our kids a disservice by not forcing them to use their ol’ nogggins.  Some of the greatest adventures I ever took were right in the backseat of my parent’s car on the way to visit my grandparents.  I was climbing mountains and diving deep oceans, exploring outer space, and trekking vast glaciers all from the rural roads of Alabama.

Only 5 ingredients stand between you and these amazingly delicious and super easy Lemon Crumble Bars!

Now, let’s talk about these Lemon Crumble Bars… Never have 5 ingredients tasted so delicious.  I’m for real.  If you love the flavor of lemon icebox pie, you’re going to absolutely want to try these out.  They’re also ridiculously easy.  If you can stir a few ingredients together, you can absolutely make these.  My family just loved these things.  And I did, too!  Did I mention how easy they are to make?  Seriously, only 5 ingredients.  🙂

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Lemon Crumble Bars
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 9 bars
Author: Stacey Little | Southern Bite
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow/butter cake mix
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 2 to 3 lemons
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, oats, and butter. Stir until well combined. Pour about half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and press it evenly. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. While it bakes, combine the lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl. Stir until thickened.
  4. Once the crust has been cooked, pour the lemon mixture over it and spread evenly. Crumble the remaining cake mix mixture evenly over the lemon mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until just starting to brown. Cool completely before slicing. Store in the refrigerator.

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Only 5 ingredients stand between you and these amazingly delicious and super easy Lemon Crumble Bars!

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  1. Your lemon bars look delicious and lemon in any form always looks sunny and appetizing. My comment is in regard to our younger generation not knowing how to entertain themselves. I grew up in the fifties so it was a very different time. No TV! We played outdoors, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians,caught fire flies, made racetracks and tunnels in the sandbox. I once was telling my granddaughter how we made mud pies from mud , decorated them with pebbles for raisins. stirred in grass bits for coconut and laid them on a board in the sun to “bake”. She looked at me as though I had grown horns and said well Nana “why in the world would you do that?” We played games in the car as mom or dad would name something we should watch for and we were intent on being the first to see the object. We played guess the word I am thinking of with clues being given, etc. I used to give my children a mini-scavenger hunt list. For indoors on a rainy day or outdoor items if it was nice. We took walks in our little town called penny walks. Come to an intersection and flip a coin. Heads we turn right and tails we turn left. An adventure to see where it led. Entertainment was almost always something free, a trip to the park, a craft project or a play time at a friend’s house. Simpler times for sure but we used our imaginations and never felt deprived.

    • I love that so much! I was the kid building forts in the woods behind our house and setting up lemonade stands, so I can say I was fortunate enough to have a childhood much like that.

  2. Rachelle Steward says:

    Oh I have all the ingredients, so I’m off to make these delicious looking treats. Thanks for posting this easy recipe. I wonder what my great grandkids will be doing to entertain themselves. Think it will come full circle?

  3. Claudine in Fort Worth, TX says:

    I absolutely love anything lemon. These Lemon Crumble Bars look so good and as I have all the ingredients, I’m making these ASAP!
    Now to the “I’m bored subject.” As I grew up in the 50’s we were lucky enough to have a TV, but I only got limited watching privileges. The rest of the time I played outside unless it was too hot and then I came in and helped my Mom with chores. Now heaven forbid if I said I was bored, because my Mom always said to me, “You’d better not let me hear you say that again, or else I will find you something to do so you won’t be bored, and you don’t want me to do that, do you?” Needless to say I could always find something to do really quick so I wasn’t bored at least where Mom could hear me say I was! LOL!
    Thanks Stacey for sharing your stories with us. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to getting it in my email. Hmmm… now let me see, what can I do so I’m not bored. LOL!

    • LOL! Thanks so much, Claudine! I remember hearing that, “Oh, well I can find you something to do” from my mom too! Hope you’ll enjoy these!

  4. I don’t have kids of my own but I see family members little ones complain of being bored and it always strikes me as funny. They have no idea how to entertain themselves. I used to love playing outside, especially riding my bike. I was also really into playing ‘house’ with my dolls and I loved my barbies, which I probably played with until I was in my early teens. It’s so weird to see kids these days and realize how different we were at their ages.

    These bars look amazing! My mother is a huge fan of lemon so I think I may need to make these for her especially.

  5. Can I use lemon cake mix or is that too much lemon flavor?

    • You can. But when I tested it with lemon cake mix, I found the lemon flavoring of the mix to be a little too fake tasting for my liking. I think if you use the right lemon mix, it’ll will be just fine. Enjoy!

  6. Joan in VA says:

    Love the bars!
    As to ‘bored’ … when I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, I was too busy, sometimes actually doing nothing, to be bored. I didn’t know what it was to be bored. There was always something happening … watching clouds float by, catching and releasing lightning bugs, climbing a tree [and getting back down which was for me harder], playing with my dolls, riding a bike, having a tea party, going to a real party without tea, visiting friends, and on and on. I’m still not sure I know how to be bored. I do know how to just sit and contemplate, but I’m not bored. 😉

    • I love that, Joan! Maybe that’s the trick. Maybe we need to teach our kids that there are plenty of things to do to not be bored. 🙂

  7. These bars look wonderful — especially for the summertime! Loved your comments about kids and being “bored” today! I, too, grew up in the late 50’s and 60’s. We had TV but our channels were limited to only 3 networks! We played outside — cops/robbers, cowboys/girls, good guys/bad guys, we played house, made all sorts of amazing castles & some fake-sand food cooking with mini utensils etc. in the sandbox, we trudged through the garden picking the harvest with mom, we played on the swing set for hours while singing at the top of our lungs! We rode bikes, had imaginary highways we drew out with chalk on the sidewalks, we also drew a lot of beautiful chalk art in the driveway, sometimes we’d just sit in the grass and watch the clouds above us and try to find shapes in them as they passed, we caught lightening bugs at night, played kick-the-can and hide-n-seek. We used our imaginations with our toys while inside — and we found amazing things to “play” with beside our toys — we put on plays for our parents, we played restaurant in my mom’s kitchen using her dishes and pans while she cooked, we also read books a lot and loved coloring books. Why my sister and I even used old Sears catalogs and cut out our own paperdolls to play with! Sometimes my mom’s living room furniture was covered with paperdolls as we played. Whenever we complained that we were “bored” our parents would say to us that they if they heard that one more time, THEY would find something for us to do like wash the car, hang out the clothes to dry, wash a floor, sweep the garage, clean out the car… My husband and I said the very same things to our kids and carried through on our “suggestions” if they were still bored! On trips in the car, we played games like watching the advertisement signs along the way spotting the letters of the alphabet in order from A-Z from the signs as we passed, we searched to see how many different car license plates we could find from the 50 states while taking a longer trip, we played “guess what it is I’m thinking of” by giving clues as we drove… Such beautiful memories and we were interacting with people! Whether it was friends, brothers/sisters, parents, family we were communicating on a personal level with real people during our daytime activities. Love your site and thanks for this trip down memory lane!

  8. Can these bars be made using something other than lemon juice, lime juice or any citric juices?

  9. I am making these now. They smell so lemony. I can’t wait to try them. I did put a little lemon zest in the milk muxture. I just know these will be great. Thanks

  10. Just a response to the “bored” comment…I always told my children that only boring people get bored …works like a charm!!

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