May 30, 2014

Maya Angelou


I am not one to comment on the passing of a famous person. I feel sad for them and their families when I hear of a death, just the same as I would any other, non-famous person, I have never met. But I feel moved to comment on the passing of this special woman. Maya Angelou. As a voracious reader, as a writer, as a woman, I have felt a certain kinship with this particular phenomenal woman. I have been moved by her writing and I have learned from her words. She is an amazing spirit who touched my life without ever knowing me.

I remember reading on old, yellowed, used copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and feeling awe for this woman and her words...for this teacher. I remember reading Phenomenal Woman over and over and over again, feeling its power and courage and spirit. Feeling empowered and emboldened. Feeling a new kind of love and respect for myself. I have listened to her speak with wisdom and truth and love. I have read her story, the heartbreak and the pain and the triumph and the amazing spirit.

So, when I still myself and let myself re-experience the feelings I've felt when I've encountered a piece of Maya Angelou, through her writing or speaking; when I let myself, in quiet, acknowledge the loss of this woman, I find that tears come to my eyes. As if I'd known her. As if she'd lived next door and I would feel the hole left from not passing her in the yard. As if she'd been a teacher and mentor in school who'd offered me wisdom as I stretched from adolescent to adult. As if she'd been a friend. Of course, she had been none of these things to me. And yet, in a way, she'd been all of these things to me. And that was one of her gifts. Her ability to transcend; to move from the page to the chair next to me; to move from the screen to the seat across the table; to make me feel like a granddaughter receiving wisdom from her grandmother while sharing a pot of tea.

Tears pool in the rims of my eyes as I salute, with my heart, the spirit of Maya Angelou. I say thank you, Maya Angelou. I say, Godspeed, Maya Angelou. I say, may our paths cross again on another plane of life, Maya Angelou. To you, Maya Angelou, I say, good night.


Phenomenal Woman
BY MAYA ANGELOU

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally,
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou, "Phenomenal Woman" from And Still I Rise. Copyright 1978 by Maya Angelou.


"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."--Maya Angelou

And oh, what a beautiful song yours was, Maya Angelou.

Until next time, go read something by Maya Angelou and bask in her glory and her grace and her wisdom.




May 27, 2014

Top Ten Things on our Summer Bucket List

Don't forget to lay in the grass and just look at the clouds

It's Top Ten Tuesday, folks. Woot! And it's summer in our house...I know this because the kids are both out of school and I got a sunburn on my back doing yard work yesterday. Yep. Definitely summer. By August I will probably be complaining about mowing the lawn, but right now, I'm loving it. Believe it or not, mowing the lawn gives me a little time to myself...and an opportunity to listen to music other than the Frozen soundtrack. Plus, it comes with exercise and fresh air built right in. I always get 15-16,000 steps on my Fitbit on lawn mowing days. Score!

Anyway, now that we've made it through preschool graduation and teacher gifts, and 3rd birthday celebrations for my littlest, I've put "Summer Planning" on my to-do list. First I want to map out all of our summer trips--I'm spending a weekend in NYC with my sister-in-law and niece, we'll be road tripping to visit family and friends on two occasions, and we'll be taking a family vacation to Northern Michigan. Then we'll see if there's room for one week's summer camp for my 5 year old. After that, I'm looking for fun activities and lots of downtime and a light routine to carry us through our days.

So, as I start my summer planning extravaganza this week, I feel the need to create a summer bucket list for things that I want to make sure we include in these long, lazy days of summer...and I'm determined to make sure we shake the frenzied, hurry-up-ed-ness of the school year. More easy-going. Less rush. More go with the flow. Less structured, schedule-driven, formal activities. This summer, that's how we'll roll.

So here you go, this week's Top Ten Tuesday List...The Top Ten Things on our Summer Bucket List:

Top Ten Things on our Summer Bucket List

Don't forget to stomp in the puddles of a
summer rain shower
10. Take a day trip to visit the National Aquarium and other fun sights in Baltimore, MD
9. Create Fairy Gardens with the kids
8. Lay a tarp out on the driveway and have an outdoor family canvas painting day
7. Spend time hiking the nearby trails and wading through the stream in our rain boots
6. Make homemade ice cream and homemade bread
5. Use our season passes to the zoo and gardens and amusement park until they are Worn. Out.
4. Go swimming...A LOT!
3. Play lots of cool outdoor games and do lots of cool outdoor art and activities (like some of the things I've seen here and here and here and here and here and here. Oh glorious Pinterest, you are so full of ideas!)
2. Potty train Holden...not because I want to, but because the preschool says I have to. (boo.)
1. Relax. Go slow. Be together. Laugh a lot. Take naps. Read books. Be outdoors. Smile. Breathe.


You can find some other "Slow Summer" activity suggestions from Abundant Mama here.

Until next time, go get your summer on!






May 23, 2014

Amazing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (or Oatmeal Raisin) Cookies


These are divine. Truly. Crispy on the outside. Chewy on the inside. Just under-bake them a tad and they set to perfection. Delish! I will say, they are more like a chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal in them than a traditional oatmeal cookie. Which is good for us since my husband isn't a huge oatmeal cookie fan. And, by the way, if you're like me and tend to swipe the dough a few times while you're baking...this dough is the bomb-diggety!

So, here you go...you can thank me later.

Amazing Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (or Oatmeal Raisin) Cookies

1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 c. flour
2 3/4 c. old fashioned or steel cut oats
2 c. chocolate chips (or 2 c. raisins or craisins; or 1 c. choc chips + 1 c. chopped walnuts; or 1 c. choc chips + 1 c. shredded coconut; or, really, whatever tickles your fancy)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown and white sugars with hand mixer (or use your stand mixer). Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well. Add flour 1 c. at a time, mixing between additions. Then add oats a little at a time, stirring to combine. And finally, fold in the chocolate chips...or whatever mix-in's you're using. (Note: I switched from hand mixer to wooden spoon when I started mixing in the oats and chocolate chips.) I divided my dough into two bowls after mixing in the oats, then added chocolate chips to one bowl and a mixture of raisins and craisins to the other bowl. Use a tablespoon to scoop dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Do Not Over-Bake! I recommend removing them when you think they are almost, but not quite, done. Once they set-up they will be perfect.


Until next time, happy baking...and eating!


adapted from a recipe from www.thebakerupstairs.com...who adapted it from Mel's Kitchen Cafe :-) 



May 20, 2014

Top Ten Rules For A Happy Family Life

Stop and Smell the Flowers.

It's Top Ten Tuesday! I know, I know, it's exciting. While you try to calm down, I'll tell you where we're headed with this week's top ten list...

My husband and I have been talking more and more about what our real priorities are and how we want to spend our time together as a family. We are both in a place of recognizing how fast time is going and how soon our kids will no longer really want to hang out with us. (We're going to blink and they won't even live in our house any more!) Right now we are their world. But that's not going to last. So maybe we ought to be taking better advantage of it. Maybe all of those urgent things on our to-do lists aren't all that important. Maybe playing IS important. Maybe making memories IS important. Maybe slowing down and not acting (or feeling or being) SO busy all the time IS important.

In the spirit of these notions, here is my list of the Top Ten Rules for a Happy Family Life. If we can stick to these I think we'll all be happier...

Top Ten Rules For A Happy Family Life

10. Be kind. (To each other. To ourselves. No yelling.)
9. Slow down. (Seriously, you don't have to be THAT busy. You just don't. Slow. the frick. down.)
8. Eat together. (Every meal you can, sit down at the table together and talk to each other.)
7. Say yes. (To as many things you can. Be a Yes Man. We say no waaaaaaay too much.)
6. Allow mistakes. (Nobody's perfect. Not even you. Let it go. And don't make them (or yourself) feel bad about it.)
5. Go outside. (Every. Day.)
4. Play. (As much as you possibly can. Every day. Play. Play. Play.)
3. Sleep. (As much as you can. Every night. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.)
2. Be flexible. (It really isn't your way or the highway. Allow some space for different ways of doing things. Honor the spirit of who they are and how they roll. And be patient.)
1. Show gratitude. (All the time. Say thank you. Feel gratitude in your soul and show it to the world.)


Until next time, go be happy...with your family!



May 17, 2014

Sprinkle Sticks and Mini Cheesecake Tarts


Today my beautiful baby girl graduated from preschool. It was fun and exciting and bittersweet and, because I was room mom, a little bit stressful. But everything went off without a hitch and I can check all that graduation planning stuff off my list. After an incredibly crazy (and rainy) morning...topping off an incredibly crazy week...I was pleased to come home, put everything away, put a show on for the kids, and change into sweatpants. Yay!

But before I completely check-out for the weekend, and since I had all kinds of recipe requests at graduation, I thought I'd share the recipes for the two desserts I brought to the graduation celebration: Sprinkle Sticks and Mini Cheesecake Tarts.

The Mini Cheesecakes I've been making since I was a kid...first with my mom and then on my own. They are super simple and are always a hit. I mean, who doesn't love a little taste of cheesecake without the commitment to a giant slice! And they are the perfect dessert to bring to a function like this.

The Sprinkle Sticks are a new addition to my repertoire, and we can thank Kate Pickle over at www.picklebums.com for this one. It's another super simple recipe and they were devoured at today's graduation. They make a great light dessert or a wonderful snack. Plus the recipe is super versatile.

So here they are, two delicious little recipes...

Mini Cheesecake Tarts
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Vanilla Wafers
Pie filling or fresh fruit for topping
Mini cupcake tin and mini cupcake wrappers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini cupcake tins with mini cupcake wrappers. Prepare Vanilla Wafers to fit inside mini cupcake tins (these will be your mini cheesecake crusts). I use Nabisco Nilla Wafers and then just run a paring knife around the edge to trim them down to fit in the mini cupcake tin (sounds like a pain, but it's really simple). Place one trimmed vanilla wafer into each mini cupcake wrapper.

Then measure the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer until creamy and fluffy (this should take you a few minutes). Spoon cheesecake batter into tins on top of each wafer. Bake 5-15 minutes at 350 degrees, until cheesecake is set. Cool and then refrigerate. Just prior to serving, top each cheesecake with a dollop of pie filling (I use strawberry, blueberry or raspberry) or a little fresh fruit (like a slice of strawberry or a single blueberry)...or leave them plain. And enjoy!

Makes about 2-2 1/2 dozen tarts.


Sprinkle Sticks
2 sheets puff pastry dough
1 1/2 tbsp berry jam
1 handful frozen berries
Rainbow Nonpareils (or sprinkles of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line your baking sheet with a piece of baking paper. Lay out your two puff pastry sheets on a sheet of baking paper. If you're using frozen puff pastry dough, allow the dough to thaw before you begin. Shake sprinkles all over both sheets of dough, then, using a floured rolling pin, gently press the sprinkles into the dough so that they stick. Carefully flip over one sheet of dough (so it's sprinkle-side down).

Put a handful of frozen berries into a blender or food processor and chop into very small pieces (I used a mix of frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries). Mix chopped berries with berry jam (I used an all-natural strawberry jam), then spread a thin layer of the berry mixture onto the sheet of dough that you turned sprinkle-side down, leaving a little space around the edges of the dough. Carefully lift the other sheet of dough and lay in on top of the jam so that the sprinkles stay on the outside.

Use a knife or pizza cutter to slice the dough into sticks (I used a pizza cutter and I sprayed it with cooking spray first so it wouldn't catch on/tear the raw dough). I sliced mine into 12 half-inch-ish strips and then cut those long strips in half the other way. Gently transfer the sticks to your baking sheet, making sure they are not touching each other. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they are puffed-up and lightly browned. Let cool and serve.

Makes about 24 sticks, depending on how you slice 'em.


Note: You could also make these filled with Nutella or a chocolate spread, or a little melted butter and cinnamon sugar. You could even try them out with a savory spread, like simple butter and garlic or a thin layer of Boursin cheese. These were such a hit that I plan to try them a multitude of ways. Really, the sky's the limit here!

P.S. I made double recipes of both of these for this party and I came home empty handed, so plan accordingly!

Until next time, happy baking...and party on!




May 13, 2014

Top Ten Things I Want...and didn't get for Mother's Day


What's up Top Ten Tuesday?! Nice to see you again.

This week I'm sharing my totally random (and somewhat weird) list of the Top Ten Things I Want...and didn't get for Mother's Day. There should be a great big *asterisk* here denoting that 1) I didn't actually ask for any of these things for Mother's Day, so it would've been tough to know that I wanted any of them; and 2) We haven't even celebrated Mother's Day in our house yet. So, technically, I could still get one of these items for Mother's Day...belated.

You see, my husband was on a business trip all the week prior to and up until 4:30pm on actual Mother's Day. Plus we had out-of-town guests that day (which was awesome, but I didn't feel it was appropriate to ask them to wait on me hand-and-foot). So, we are planning to celebrate Mother's Day (complete with sleeping in) this Saturday instead.

Being a business-travel-induced-single-mom on Mother's Day inspired this bonus top ten list:

Top Ten Things Mothers Should NOT Have to Do on Mother's Day (all of which I did this Mother's Day)

10. Empty the dishwasher/load the dishwasher/wash dishes
9. Clean-up the house...and then re-clean-up after the kids trash it again
8. Step on small toys/parts like legos and plastic characters
7. Deal with sibling fights
6. Prepare food of any kind for any one (mom shouldn't even have to toast bread)
5. Have their shortcomings pointed out to them
4. Make her own cup of coffee
3. Change a poopy diaper
2. Be awakened at 5:55am (even if the "alarm" is super cute)
1. Get out of bed at all...unless they really want to


But seriously, folks... I have a most amazing husband and two fantabulous children who love me and treat me well (most of the time). My husband brought me back chocolates and earrings from his trip to Germany and didn't even count those as Mother's Day gifts. And my kids did shower me with affection on Mother's Day...though they were oblivious to the fact that it was Mother's Day...that's just how they roll. So, don't cry for me, Argentina. I'm doing just fine over here.

Regardless, here it is, this week's top ten list:

Top Ten Things I Want...and didn't get for Mother's Day


10. A new (fun, summer color) wristband for my Fitbit
9. A bracelet that says: Listen. (because I need the reminder sometimes)
8. A sewing machine (this should shock my mom)
7. A laminator
6. A new, cute tote bag for lugging around all the kid crap with me each day
5. A composter...both a little counter top one and a big outdoor one
4. A raised garden bed and a rain barrel
3. A breadbox...for reals
2. A pair of shorts that fit and look great (aka: magic shorts)
1. A good friend somewhere in this new town...or maybe a weekend with the wonderful-- but far away-- ones I already have


Until next time, I hope you had a lovely Mother's Day and I bid you, happy mothering!



Note: The pictures above are all of things I did get for Mother's Day...flowers from my lovely parents, a flower in a fingerprint decorated pot from my almost 3 year old (complete with plastic bug), and a footprint butterfly painting from my 5 year old. All of which I love and appreciate.




May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day from MamaManagement!


Just a quick note to all the Mama's out there to say:

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope it is a wonderful day for each of you, one that honors the amazing mother and woman that you are. May everyone around you simply bask in your awesomeness and may you spend your day doing absolutely and only that which pleases you. 

MamaManagement honors you and wishes you all good things on this Mother's Day and every day.

Namaste.





May 9, 2014

Patience is a Virtue.


As I sit down at a table in my favorite coffee shop today, the moment of peace in an otherwise rather loud and chaotic day, I have so many thoughts swirling in my head that I am not sure where to focus.

So, we're gonna say this post is about patience. But it's really about so much more.

......................

I'm reading a book about letting go of our constant connectedness to the less-meaningful world in our computers and smartphones and focusing on the real world (and people) right in front of us. I am also part of one online discussion group on living simply and another on banning busy. My brain is knee-deep in this subject-matter right now.

And then I found out that our neighbor's little girl was just diagnosed with leukemia. It's like being hit over the head with a rock. ("Pay Attention!!" It screams, right in my ear. "This Is Important!") And it's not even my child. And they are not even close friends. We just moved here, so we've only just met. It. Does. Not. Matter. My heart breaks for them. I want to do anything and everything I can for them.

No one wants to hear of bad things happening to children. Anyone's. Ever. But when you're a parent. Oh, God. When you're a parent. The empathy vibrates through my whole, entire body like a just-thrummed guitar string. Every time I think of it two things happen: I am filled to overflowing with empathy and I internally drop to my knees with gratitude for my healthy, happy children.

And suddenly I find infinite patience for them.

There is nothing quite like that kind of terrible news to bring into focus what is important and what isn't.

  • The backlog of emails in my inbox?  -- Not important.
  • The to-do list I'm so often driven by?  -- Not important.
  • Having the perfect looking home?  -- Not important.
  • Looking like a photo in a magazine?  -- Not important.
  • My children? My husband? My family? My health? Our happiness? Creating memories? Loving my life every day?  -- All important.
  • My children knowing they are important and lovely and amazing?  -- So important.
  • Not losing my cool--or my patience--and yelling at them?  -- Also important.

But it shouldn't take a tragedy or trauma or terrible news--mine or someone else's-- to gift me patience. And I don't want this patience to slip away as the distance grows from the impact of this news.

I feel an urgency to change the way I live right now. To never get caught up in the crazy and the busy again. To focus on what is important, not what seems urgent. To let go of the junk and keep close that which is precious to me. To let go of being...Always Responsible. Always Productive.  Always On-Top of Everything. And certainly to let go of the silly screen habit (addiction?).

To slow down. To stop rushing my children. To stop feeling pressured to perform or to get it all done. To strive for simple. Uncomplicated. To be less busy. To cut the to-do list. To play way, way, way more.

To live the life in front of me. Really live it.

I think the keys to patience are slowing down and being grateful. And maybe getting over yourself. And letting go of your sky-high expectations.

First, you've got to figure out when you often lose your patience and understand why...what triggers you? For me there are some basic physical things, like being tired or being hungry that usually mean a short fuse. Also, like a baby (or, in my case, like an introvert), being overstimulated (from too much noise for an extended period of time or too much time out-and-about) equals lack of patience for me. I wear out emotionally and psychologically as well as physically.

And I know that time pressure typically sends me over the edge. As soon as I feel the need to rush, all hell breaks loose. I yell at the kids to hurry up. I yell at the dog to get out of my way. I bumble stuff and drop things and forget things. I yell at the slow car in front of me to drive the speed limit. All because I feel rushed...I feel the pressure to perform and I know I'm not going to succeed in perfect fashion. The kids will get to school...but they will be late. Mommy fail.

But really? A fail?

No. Of course not. My rational brain knows that the kids being 5 minutes late to preschool is not a fail. Is it a minor annoyance for their teachers? Yes, probably (though maybe not even that). Is it a Mommy fail? No, not really. But once that old habit of perfectionism wrapped-up in my self-worth takes over, my animal brain takes hold and starts barking (Be on time! Get things done! Be productive! Be perfect!).

So what do I do?

Fight it. Go to the mattresses.*

But how?

Slow down. Be less busy. Take a time out. Count to ten. Let it go. Find something in the annoying situation to be grateful for.

And give myself a break. A great, big break.

Because nobody's perfect. Because no body can or should be "on" all the time. Because I don't need to be responsible and productive all the time. Because I don't want to be that.

That is not the person I want to be.

I want to be fun and creative and loving and warm and energetic and full of smiles and cuddles and and imagination and long chats. I want to be a yes-man to my children and my husband. And I want to be patient.

Impatience has a high cost. A hurried life creates unnecessary frustration and stress and anger. And it robs us of wonder and beauty and joy and moments that matter.

What's the worst that could happen if you're a few minutes late? What's the worst that could happen if you have to sit in traffic for ten minutes or get stuck waiting behind a slow person in line? What's the worst that could happen if the dishes sit in the sink or the email doesn't get returned or the phone goes unanswered or you miss an entire day of FaceBook updates? Usually it's nothing all that bad. And maybe, just maybe, by having to wait, you're exactly where you're supposed to be. Maybe you're supposed to feel a little awe over the beauty of that rainbow that you're only noticing because you're at a dead-stop on the expressway. Maybe you're supposed to be in the car longer than expected so that you can have a great conversation with your child. Maybe you're supposed to be headed out the door ten minutes late so that you'll miss the car that runs the red light right when you normally drive through that intersection. Maybe you'll find playing Candyland with your kids is way more interesting (and fun and relaxing) than who's doing what on FaceBook. Who knows. The point is this:

Maybe where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be.

So you might as well enjoy it.

Slow down. Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself, what is really important? Today. Right now. What is really important?

And go do that.

Speaking of which, I'm going to stow this computer and go hug my kids. We're going to have a tea party. And then maybe they'll want to play Candyland.

Until next time, practice patience and do a little more of the good stuff.



* Random double movie reference...see The Godfather or You've Got Mail. :-)





May 6, 2014

Top Ten Crafty Pinterest Projects I Want To Do For Me

Top Ten Tuesday again? So soon? Dang, those weeks go by fast. Crazy.

So, I have an ulterior motive for this week's top ten post. I figure that if I actually put out there, on display, my top ten crafty Pinterest projects, maybe it will actually light a fire under my ample ass to ACTUALLY DO THEM! Imagine that. Actually doing some of the cool things we see on Pinterest! Well, the time has come. And what better time than amidst the rebirth of Spring to creatively blossom all over the dang place.

You'll also notice that the title says "I Want To Do For Me." That wasn't by accident. I'm not talking about getting crafty for the kids. I'm not talking about new recipes for the family or a school function or a party. I'm not talking about gift ideas for others. I'm talking about gettin' my craft on Just. For. Me. These are projects that I want to do. These are projects for ME. (I know. Gasp.)

So, here we go...it's about to get all Pinteresty up in here!

Top Ten Crafty Pinterest Projects I Want To Do For Me
10. Refinishing our craft room table to something cool like this (from storiesofahouse.com):


9. Cool tags made from old book pages (no attribution):


8. Photograph and upload pictures of my kids' artwork and create a book or poster of the prints. I plan to do mine with Artkive or the like. This photo shows a DIY version (from littlemothdesign.blogspot.com):


7. Start a Smash Book. There are so many examples and tutorials out there. (this one's from craftsunleashed.com):


6. Make a T'Shirt Quilt. I don't know if this is realistic since I don't know how to sew. But I would love to take all those old t'shirts that have sentimental value but just take up space in the closet and make one of these. (from easytquilt.blogspot.com):


5. A DIY sharpie-decorated mug. There are tons of examples of these all over Pinterest. I like this one...but there are lots of others I like too. (from goodandmessy.com):


4. Turn my Grandma's Recipes into kitchen towels. So cool. Especially if I can do it in her own handwriting. (from spoon flower.com):


3. I really want to get off my butt and make family yearbooks. I love this idea. I've seen many examples. (this one is from eighteen25.blogspot.com):


2. I would love to create some books for my kids the "Mo Willems Way". I have one idea in particular to try. (from theartannex.com):


1. The Button Lamp Shade (no attribution): I have everything I need, I just need to do it!:


And, honorable mention: I happen to have one shipping pallet in my possession that I want to do something crafty with, but I'm not sure what yet. This is one idea: picture ledges. (from thestoriesofa2z.com):


Or maybe a planter (from lifeonthebalcony.com):



If you'd like to see other cool things on my list, you can check out my Gettin' Crafty pinboard here: http://www.pinterest.com/amylorbach/gettin-crafty/. Or just start following me on Pinterest...there's a button over there ------> to do just that. :-)

Until next time, go get crafty with your bad self!


May 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ...They Are Deeee-licious!


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2/3 c. peanut butter (I used an all-natural chunky PB)
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 tsp (real) vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar until thoroughly mixed or creamed. (You can use a mixer. I like to do it by hand with my trusty old wooden spoon.) Then stir in the peanut butter (you can microwave it a bit if it needs softening), followed by the egg + yolk and vanilla extract, stirring to combine after each addition. Then mix in the oats. Next add the baking soda and salt; then slowly add the flour, mixing as you go. Finally add the chocolate chips.

You want to end up with a typical cookie dough consistency. If you feel it's too wet, add a little more flour. If you feel it's too dry or stiff, add a little more softened butter or peanut butter.

Scoop small balls of the dough unto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes. You might leave them in for 12 minutes, but you DO NOT want to overcook these. They will look a little raw when you pull them out, but that's okay. Take them out and let them rest. They are at their best when they're a little under-done. A little chewy and melt-in-your-mouth-y.

Yields 2-3 dozen depending on the size of your cookies.*


These cookies are Fifty Shades of Delicious! The kids and I made them for a preschool function and we didn't get to bring a single cookie home with us. Luckily, Mommy thought to set a few aside at home so we could enjoy a few ourselves! If you like peanut butter and you like chocolate chips then you will like these little cookies. You don't really taste the oatmeal, but I think it adds to the chewiness. I like to be able to really taste the peanut butter, so this has good ratios for me. If you want less PB taste, decrease the PB to 1/3 c. and up the butter to 1 c. I also really like having the peanut pieces in the cookies, so I highly recommend using a chunky PB...and I think a natural PB works best (plus it's better for you!). You could also add pretty much any other cookie mix-in you'd like to these...other kinds of chips (like butterscotch or white chocolate) or nuts or dried fruits. Whatever floats your boat. But the old standby combo of chocolate and peanut butter works for me. And the kids loved them...especially my 5 year old who was "really selling them" at her school outing.

"You should have one of my cookies," she'd say. "They are deeeee-licious!"

Until next time, happy baking!....and eating! :-)


*adapted from a recipe on averiecooks.com