"only You can make every new day seem so new" ~Five Iron Frenzy

Saturday, February 12, 2011

World's Most Amazing Cookies

Okay, so I know that when I started this blog, I said I wouldn't have recipes to share.  In my defense: this isn't my recipe, I got it from my cookbook.  That being said, I made these amazing cookies...
It had been a while since I had baked anything, and my baking-senses were tingling.  I had all the basic ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, etc), all I had to do was find a recipe.  I also had about half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips that I wanted to find some use for.  I came across this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook months ago and had been wanting to try it, they were called "Peanut butter-Oatmeal Rounds."  The best part? The recipe called for either 1 cup of chopped nuts or semi-sweet chocolate pieces.  Perfect.  I set to work right away ...
...The recipe said that the cookies should bake for 10 minutes, but knowing how hot my oven gets, add to it the fact that I like my cookies really soft and chewy, I set my timer for 6 minutes, and they came out perfectly.
I love peanut butter cookies, I love chocolate chip cookies, and I even love oatmeal cookies (without raisins, please), and these cookies are a perfect marriage of the three.  I knew my husband loved them when he took a bite of one, looked thoughtfully at the ceiling for a few seconds, then quickly grabbed a second.

Here's the recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped cocktail peanuts or semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I had a little bit more than a cup of chocolate chips, so I just added them all in! You can never have too much chocolate).

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until combined. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in rolled oats and peanuts.

2.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

And don't forget to clean up afterwards!  

Happy Baking!

With love,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Hey Mr. Tambourine Man..."

 "...play a song for me, I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to..." (Bob Dylan)

Describe my personality...

I really don't like describing my personality to others, because I've always feared that there's a great disparity between the way I view myself and the way I come across to everyone else. Oh well, here goes.

I'm an extroverted introvert.
Explanation: Many people find their energy and get "recharged" by being around other people, by conversing with them. These are the extroverts. Then there are those who get their energy and relieve stress by being alone. The introverts.
Essentially, I am an introvert. I don't mind being alone and enjoy many solitary activities such as reading and writing.
On the other hand, I'm not a shut-in. I really enjoy being "out in the world." I love spending time with my family and friends both in small groups and large ones. But when push comes to shove, I can only be surrounded by people for so long before I begin to feel suffocated and need to find some quiet time alone.
So yes, I am both.

Other than that, I would say that I have kind of a quirky personality, but in a very subtle way. Most of the time when I hang out with others, I'm pretty quiet. I enjoy listening to other people talk and laughing at them (oops, I meant with them...).  I know so many people who complain about the fact that they sometimes speak before they think. I can't imagine even being able to do this. If you knew all of the stupid/weird things I say in my head (and then stop myself from saying), you would probably think that I go way beyond quirky. I'm downright strange.

Don't get me wrong though, I do have my more obnoxious moments in the company of others. It's times like those that I try to keep to a minimum. I'm not one to enjoy hearing myself speak and I'm always afraid of saying something wrong (something stupid, meant-to-be-funny-but-not, rude, etc). So yes, I am also very concerned about what other people think about me.

At the same time, however, I'm a pretty optimistic person. I was watching "South Pacific" lately, and in the words of Nellie, "I'm just a cockeyed optimist ... I'm stuck like a dope with a thing called hope and I can't get it out of my heart." It takes quite a bit to make me upset and a lot to make me angry about anything.  I just find way too many things in life to be happy about that it's difficult for me to be completely in despair (this is a great difference from the me several years ago - the one that suffered from depression for so long).

So there you have it.  I'm an introvert that loves spending time with people.  I always worry about saying the right thing and would rather listen to others talk anyway.  I'm very optimistic and not easily put down (wow, I should have just said that and had done with it).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 Sources of Happiness

Three things that make me happy ... hmmm ... this is going to be hard.  Not coming up with three things, but having to boil it down to three things - therein lies the challenge.

Okay, let's start with something that is an absolute must for the list:  my husband!  

On September 5, 2005, I was a scared little 18 year old high school grad moving an hour away from every one/thing I knew unto a college campus where I knew virtually no one.  I met some pretty cool people that first day at Spring Arbor U.  One of them was named Adam.  I can't say I had a crush on him right away, but when my eyes were looking at one person - my heart somehow got captured by someone else.  

(Fall 2006)

We began dating September 20th of 2005 - we had only known each other about three weeks, but apparently it was the right thing to do!  By late August of 2008, he asked for my hand in marriage...

 ...and we were married July 17th of 2010 at 3:30pm.  

Throughout our years together (and months married), he has made me much happier than I ever thought I could be.  He has encouraged me, stood behind me, loved me and taken care of me through quite a lot.  I am ecstatic that I get to be married to him and can't wait to spend the next several years/decades with him :D


For the second, I'm going to clump several sources of happiness into one:  just about every one else in my life.  My whole family: parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, even my in-laws.  

Between them and all of my friends, I have been blessed with some pretty amazing people in my life. 

 Even though I am introverted, I always enjoy being around those I love and spending time with them.  

As much time as I spend alone now, I am always ecstatic when I get the chance hang out with any of my family or friends.  They bring me a lot of joy and happiness.


I'm not sure what to put into this last thing.  I suppose it's all the other little things in life that make me happy: the smell and taste of coffee early in the morning, the color of the sky when the sun is setting, the inexplicable joy that comes when one of my favorite songs comes on my Pandora station.  I enjoy the every day, simple things that make up my life. 

And those are my three things, I suppose I cheated a little, but I couldn't help it.  Even with cheating, I wasn't able to cover everything, just the basics: my husband, my family/friends, and all of life's little pleasures.


Monday, February 7, 2011

To My Little Sister

To a young girl in my life - 
My little sister, Laura.

I'm supposed to write to you and tell you what beauty means.  This could not have come at a  better time in your life.  I'm going to tell you everything I wish I had known/had been told when I was in middle school (okay, maybe not everything, but a few things).

First of all, I'm not as old as mom (or even Bethany or Kathie) - my middle and high school years really aren't that far in my past and they still hold many vivid memories.

Though you haven't really thought about it, your goals for middle school are probably to have fun, to fit in, to be liked, and to escape the rest of this year and next year unscathed (without harm).  And, to be honest, your goals for high school will be strikingly similar.

But let me tell you something: fitting in is very over-rated (the lucky ones find this out by the time they get to high school - virtually everyone finds this out after they finish high school).  The only reasonable thing that can be expected of you is that you be the best possible version of yourself.  If your friends, or other kids, don't like that, then that's their problem.

Right now, if I were to ask you who the most beautiful girl in your school was, you would probably point to the skinniest, blondest, most popular girl.  But I would disagree.  Being beautiful isn't about being skinny, having small feet, wearing the right clothes, or being popular or well-liked.

Being beautiful means that you aren't afraid to wear clothes that you truly like and feel comfortable in - even if they aren't the "latest fashion."  Being beautiful means that you are not afraid to be yourself.  It means that you take responsibility - you work hard at school and at the things you love to do, even when it seems like your hard work isn't paying off.  You continue to push through even when you think you've failed.  Being beautiful means that you are kind to others.  You don't make fun of others (even when they are not around), and you don't put others down, because you know how much it hurts when others do the same to you.

You know what, Laura?  I know that you are beautiful.  You are leaps and bounds ahead of where I was playing flute at your age - never give up on it, keep working hard.  You are also much more outgoing than I was and you have a great sense of humor.  Don't be afraid to let your personality shine and don't be afraid to be "quirky" (not like every one else).

Middle school, even high school, will fly by quicker than you know it.  Once you are done, you won't care whether you fit in or whether people liked you.  You'll go on to college, you won't keep any friendship that isn't worth keeping, and you'll make some of the best friends you'll ever have - ones that like you, not only just the way you are, but because you are the way you are.  What will matter, is that you took your middle school and high school years and you worked hard at everything you did and that you were the best possible version of yourself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Most Favorite-est Outfit (P31-Day14)

Today is "post an outfit pic" day.  Currently, this is my favorite outfit to wear:

It includes my comfy, yet dressy dark-wash jeans from Old Navy, a pink tank from Charlotte Reus under my stretchy/dressy white T-shirt from Forever 21, my favorite cardigan that my husband bought me from Old Navy for my birthday, my pearl necklace that my brother bought me for Christmas (also the matching earrings and bracelet), and my green converses.

This is probably more than you wanted to know, but I'm also wearing my matching bra/underwear that I bought in Dublin, Ireland and my Old Navy socks that I got for Christmas (if you haven't guessed already, ON is my favorite clothing store).

To top it all off, I'm also wearing my favorite Mary Kay eye shadow/blush colors, and my hair is done in my favorite style:  fun, wavy, and EASY (it only takes me about 30 seconds to do - a little mousse, some scrunching, and I'm done).

There you have it, my favorite outfit ... I think I'm going to go shower and put it on right now!  Not planning on going anywhere today, but (most importantly), this outfit makes me feel good.  It's comfortable, it's cute, and it's flattering.  All essential components in making up a favorite outfit!

Much love to all,

Thursday, February 3, 2011


What do I want to change about myself for the better?

Oh dear...I suppose many things.

One thing does come immediately to mind.  Ever since I was really young, there is one phrase that has needed to be erased from my vocabulary (my mom told me this all the time and I now agree with her), and that is "I can't."  I am always the first to see my own limitations, the first to stop trying at the first sign of adversity, and the first to give up a cause as totally lost.

There is one virtue in my mother that I have always wished I possessed: anytime she decides that she wants to do something, she always gets it done.  My older sister Kathie is the same way.  I have yet to see anything either of them encounter that they do not complete, conquer, or overcome.  They have a determination and a will to never give up that I somehow have missed.

I don't know whether it came with being the youngest child or whether I missed something in the gene pool, but I really wished that I believed enough in my own abilities and will-power to accomplish anything that comes my way.  I really wish that I wouldn't give up so easily.

I know this is something about me that needs to change and it's something that I'm going to be working on beginning now and continuing in the future.  It's definitely not going to be easy, and I need to begin by having a bit more faith in myself - which has always been difficult for me.  But I do know that I am stronger than I usually give myself credit for and I'm sure I really can do things, if I put my mind to it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Blame Eve...

What wears me out as a woman?

Fortunately, right now I don't have too many demands on my time to wear me out.  I am enjoying being married without kids and am currently job searching.

One thing, however, has never failed to wear me out as a woman.  And that would be that wonderful gift that mother nature brings every month.  How can I be expected to operate normally and (while I was student teaching) go into work with a smile on my face when I am horribly fatigued, have a bad case of the grumps, have an awful headache, feel like I weight 300 pounds, my face is breaking out, and I'm bent over in -other- pain, just to name a few?

Seriously, what happened to the days when women stayed in bed and didn't stir from their room that whole week? 

And some day, in the future, when I get pregnant and go through labor, be ready to hear my rants on that :O)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oatmeal Pancakes!

Even though my husband is a MUCH better cook than I am, for about the past week, I have been cooking dinner.  This is mainly because he works 12-hour days and is usually very tired and very hungry when he gets home.  I have to admit, he's been a trooper and has smiled and said "thank you" every evening, even though he knows that he can cook circles around me.  

This evening I tried a new recipe (okay, I have made this once before, but only a half batch):  Kate and Stephen's Oatmeal Flapjacks!  I decided I wanted to do breakfast for dinner (breakfast food is my favorite), so I thought I'd give this recipe a go-round.  Obviously, I got this recipe from my wonderful friend Kate Fort :O)

These pancakes are super thick and delicious, as well as extremely filling!
Here's the recipe:

1 1/8 c. milk
1 c. oatmeal
2 tbsp. oil
2 eggs
1 c. whole-wheat flour (I just use white)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1) Combine oatmeal and milk.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
2) Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed.
3) Pour 1/4 c. of mixture onto the hot griddle (I just eye-ball it).  Cook like "normal" pancakes.


This is Me

What has Jesus been teaching me as woman?  Well that's a loaded question, where do I begin?

I had written a couple blogs previously about rediscovering who I am.  From them, you may be able to gather that Jesus has been teaching, or reminding, me of who I am.

For the past several years or so, I have been making the mistake of finding my self worth through the affirmation of others.  I needed other people to see me as this fun, witty, clever, intelligent person.  Even though I'm an introvert, I have always really enjoyed being around other people and spending time with my group of friends.  I made the mistake, however, of letting that turn into me needing to be loved, wanted, liked and missed by those people.  Although that might not be that bad, I felt myself needing to be constantly reaffirmed that they felt that way about me.  

I began to value myself on whether what I said made people laugh, what I wrote made people respond, and whether I was able to spend an evening with my friends and, at some point, be the center of attention (I've never fully loved this role - but I would enjoy it for a short amount of time).  I needed to know that I was something special, I needed to know that I was unique and that everyone who knew me liked me.

Through all of this, I was forgetting who I really was, I was forgetting the basic characteristics that make up "me."  In truth, I was (and still am) just average me.  There's nothing particularly unique about me - I don't have any quirks, I'm not especially talented at anything, and I'm not very witty most of the time.  And that's okay because that's part of who I am.  I was striving for those attributes because they are the ones that get noticed, the ones that draw attention.  But I was forgetting that my affirmation and self worth are not measured by how much others take notice of me, but by how much God loves me, just the way I am.

I was forgetting that I am a listener and that I love listening more than talking.  I was forgetting that I care very much about my friends and family and that I feel very deeply.  I was forgetting that I loved to worship and, as flawed as my guitar playing is, that I love to worship through songs in the quiet of my room.  I was forgetting that I love to write.  I had given these last two things up because I was far from perfect or even "good" at them, according to the world's standards.  I had forgotten, that Jesus loves these forms of worship and offering from me, and that He sees them as beautiful and perfect.

So Jesus has been reminding me of who I am, who I was born to be.  He has reminded me that my self worth comes from him, not the world.  Something so simple, something I have heard a hundred and one times, yet somehow failed to realize for myself.