Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Gorgeous Cookies

When we had our first friend over after our move to Connecticut, she entered my little house and upon being offered these cookies said, "Oh, they're gorgeous!" Hm? She spoke just like Martha Stewart (if that helps you imagine this) and I was completely intrigued...I didn't realize all my neighbors would speak just like Martha.
Well, all Connecticut-ians don't speak like Martha. As a matter of fact, only this one friend does as far as I can tell. But she called my cookies "gorgeous" and still (it's been 6+ years) everytime I make them, I think of her.
My "secrets" are raw sugar, white whole wheat flour, and waiting. I put the dough in the frig for at least a night before baking it up and I don't know what happens scientifically, but yum.mee. If you're trying to incorporate more whole grains into your life, I highly recommend this white whole wheat flour. I used to add 1/4 cup (maybe 1/3 cup) of traditional whole wheat flour into my batter and my kids would notice and complain. The white whole wheat still alters the dough's texture a bit, but not to deter the under-12 palate. Try it and see! I also love this vanilla.
Gorgeous Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened overnight
3/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 bag Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
1/2 bag Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix butter, sugars and vanilla together until well blended. Mix a bit longer than you think you should. Add the eggs and beat one at a time. Add the flour, sprinkle baking soda on top of flour and blend it in with a fork. Now mix everything either on low or by hand. Add chips and stir in by hand.

Spread dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap completely and then wrap again in foil. Put in refrigerator overnight or for up to three days.

Take dough out of frig and either slice it and put it on your cookie sheet, or give it 3o minutes or so to soften. Then put dollops of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven and your personal preferences. My daughter takes them out of the oven a wee-bit undercooked, let's them continue cooking on the tray as they cool and calls them perfect! xo
Note: Dough can be frozen too - if I'm making batches to freeze, I double wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then single wrap it in foil.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer is happenin'...

Sorry for the slow-down in posts. Summer is happening over here, that's for sure. We'll return to our regularly scheduled posting soon. xo

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We missed my grandma's 95th birthday party this past weekend, but not without sending a crown to mark the occasion! My grandmother has 8 kids and has survived the deaths of way too many family members and friends...it wears on her heart. Her daughters are amazing and we try to pop in when we can to remind her of tea parties, wearing her famous heel collection (she had heels that changed color as you ran your finger over them - she was the original shoe ho'!), putting her egg-coffee grounds in her tomatoes during the summers, fried chicken from up the street and my favorite stories of celebrating diversity in her neighborhood - Irish, Polish, Italian, German (yes, all Caucasian, but they had to learn to live together in peace way back when - all poor and Catholic, but not from the same "old country").

My sister tells me she was delighted by the party. She visited, she ate, she laughed and at the end she told her kids that she couldn't believe they planned this whole party without her knowing (she knew....she just forgot). So sweet. And no one deserves moments of delight more than she.

Love you gram, we hope to visit you real soon! xo

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Budgeting [advice]

Maybe the best gardening advice that we ever received was this - spend your money on the part of your yard where you spend the most time, where you will see the fruits of your labor, where you will enjoy it. For many (including my family), this would be the back yard. And this advice was given because we were putting our dollars towards primping up the front of our first house - the section seen by guests and strangers alike, the section that is out there for all to see but (perhaps) untouchable and under-utilized to a degree.
I think of this advice every year when I'm budgeting. And then after I think of it for our yard, I think of it for our life. We're in our first week of summer and I've already heard so many regrets and worries from women in my community - and I always fret a bit too: Do we send our kids to too many camps? Do we send our kids to too few camps? Should we have joined the pool in our neighborhood? Should we have joined the pool closer to family? Is our traveling too frou frou? Is our traveling too local? Am I bad if I hate camping? Is it wrong that I don't want to fly? Should we be having more friends over? Are my kids getting enough "alone time"?
To these questions I say: Where is your back yard in all of your wonderings - where is the part of your family life that (maybe) needs to be tended, that brings you all the most joy, that feeds you, that you and your kids will remember the most? There's your answer - it's not in any conventional wisdom because there is no conventional wisdom that applies to all of us when it comes to summer plan making!
So take a minute to think about you and your family only. And then make a list of what you need and want. And then figure out your budget and what's realistic. And then (and only then) let the little voice that may still be talking in your head, come into the picture. Most likely, you'll have a clear plan for your summer, you'll be excited about it and you'll be taking care of what matters most.

And if you come across a friend who is grappling with her summer budget of time, money, priorities, be gentle and supportive. Wouldn't it be so great if we could all do that for each other?
Thanks for listening. We'll return to our regularly-scheduled-no-advice blog tomorrow! xo

Monday, June 7, 2010


1. Shrek's afro finally came in;
2. We trolled Goodwills for fun summer reads (locals - don't go to the Brentwood Goodwill for a day or two, we cleaned them out!);
3. I came downstairs to see my oldest drinking lemonade out of a wine glass (wha?);

3a. The next time I came downstairs, I found my youngest doing this to our dining room chairs: ("It works in the circus Mama...");
4. We ate our first yellow raspberry;

5. We organized our little nature props outside - in case anyone needs them immediately (wink wink);
6. We conferenced with teachers;

7. We started our summer vacation! xo

Friday, June 4, 2010

Last day of school...

I've been thinking about Gladys Kravitz all week! We live in a neighborhood of manicured lawns, lawn-maintenance-client lawns, make-a-golf-course-jealous-kind-of-lawns. Alas, our lawn and yard is not one of "them"!

And while we're outside planting mismatched plants, I often wonder if any of my neighbors are peeking in saying: "[Abner]...

...they're throwing grass seed all over without prepping the soil..."

...they're planting vegetables that should have been planted weeks ago..."

...they're putting shade plants right next to sun plants..."

...she's not even weeding Abner, she's just putting flowers right there next to the weeds!"

Today, Kyle and I had our last full day of puttering in the garden before Summer break. We did all of the above. Yup.

(It was glorious!) xo

photo copied from www.morethings.com!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One down...two to go!

Just a little eye candy today while we get our two bigs done with school (last day Friday!). This is Joey with his nature friend. They enjoyed each other's company during last weekend's camping trip for at least 20 minutes - it was so fun to see.

Of course, three days of camping mean three weeks of catching up. But it's raining here again, so maybe things will be back in place a bit sooner. Happy Wednesday! xo