TO BAKE: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.

img_2535Chocolate chip cookies are a little bit of a hobby of mine. I try recipes, decide they’re the best, then see another one I want to try, and decide its the best, and so on and so forth until eternity. I had some extra time yesterday while home with my sicky baby Ben, so of course, the urge for a cookie set in. I had, in times past, decided the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips was the best, but then I thought this was the best recipe, then I switched to this one for a little bit (lard! so good!), but yesterday, I cracked open my Betty Crocker and her Chocolate Chip cookie may be my new favorite. Soft! Crisp edges! Chewy! Crinkly! No extra steps! What’s not to love?img_2543Recipe from Betty Crocker

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

Instructions: 

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in a mixer with the paddle attachment.
  3. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Gently stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  5. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoon about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool for 1-2 minutes then move to cooling racks to cool completely.

Some notes:

  • I like to only bake a few for us to eat, and then I freeze the rest of the dough in rounded tablespoons on a cookie sheet and transfer to ziplock bag. Store in the freezer until ready to bake. Add on a minute or two of cooking time if cooking from frozen.
  • This is my favorite cookie sheet. 
  • I like to cool on foil. I think it keeps the cookies chewier than if cooled on a rack.

Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie? It’s almost time to look at Christmas cookies!!! I’ve already got my eye on a few that I want to try this year!

img_2560In other news – I’m still home with this sweet boy, but back to work tomorrow and Mike’s staying home with him. Soaking up these moments!

 

A SICK DAY.

Home the rest of the week with this sick kiddo thanks to doctors orders. A walk for fresh air, cleaning, cookie baking and baby snuggles all day. I could get used to a day off with this little love every now and then, if only it didn’t take a fever yesterday to get us here! ❣️

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

What have you been reading lately? I’m halfway through Nine Perfect Strangers and it’s starting to get reeeeally good. I have a little pile from the library sitting on my shelf and a never ending list of books I’d like to read on goodreads. But I’d love to hear what you’re reading. Here’s just a few others I’ve read and loved this year

TURKEY HATS FOR TWO LITTLE TURKEYS…AND OTHER THANKSGIVING DIYS.

img_2228Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays and I can’t believe it’s coming up in just a couple weeks. Along with reading thanksgiving books, writing things that we’re thankful for, making turkey finger puppets, and dreaming about pumpkin pie (I whipped up the above pumpkin pie garland for a little thanksgiving decor using this tutorial on Martha Stewart), I also came upon this tutorial for a turkey hat. turkey hatI couldn’t help but think about making one for each of the boys for our trip north in a couple weeks. How cute would they be? Not to mention that they are currently hat-less boys (who needs hats when it’s 80 degrees every day!). My plan is to crochet the hat, but then use felt that I already have for the feathers and for the beak, and use buttons for the eyes instead of the crocheted body. What do you think? Am I crazy? If it doesn’t happen, I’m just going to know that I have it here for next year. 🙂

OUR WEEK AT A GLANCE. {NOVEMBER 10-16}

I’ve been looking forward to this week for weeks. Teacher work day on Monday!! The best of all days. I am going to get so. Much. Done. Big plans. Lesson plans in the short term, overarching themes for the long term and cleaning cleaning cleaning my office. This weekend was full of rest and recharging. We have a clean house, meals planned and a game plan to go for the week.

Not too many extras this week thank goodness! I think it’s going to fly by and then it’s only one week until our weeklong holiday break!! I have many things to do, but I think I’ll have a little extra time here and there this week to cross some things off my to do list.

I already made our lasagna for dinner tomorrow, and I’m excited to try one new recipe in the crock pot this week. I’ll probably add some crusty bread and a salad on the side to make it a full meal. Sheet pan chicken is a great weeknight go to for us. I love that I can chop everything the night before and just slide it all into the oven at once. I tried a new pizza dough recipe last week and wasn’t impressed. Testing out a new one this week!

I’m going to try to be really present with my boys this week and turn off all my outer distractions when we have our time together after school. They’re growing so fast it’s crazy. I feel like we hit a lull where I know every little thing about them and then all of a sudden the next day they’re doing all these new things that they weren’t the day before.

Ben had a little fever last night and did not sleep well at all, but seemed to be on the up and up today. I’m afraid he’s getting my cold which I think I can officially say that I’m almost recovered from. New week, new goals, new opportunities!!

LITTLE THINGS THIS WEEK.

1. these clothespins (and the multitude of others out of frame)…for keeping my boys entertained not one, not two, but three nights in a row.

2. these personalized colored pencils…a birthday gift used for writing and (violently) decorating sweet thank you notes from a two year old.

3. these blueberry puffs…for getting us to dinner time.

4. this soft hankie…for the tender care of a cold that i haven’t yet kicked.

5. this creaky old weathered pot…for being the bearer of the corn chowder (with mirepoix!) that we had for dinner two nights this week, and I could’ve had every night. A cold front is coming our way and i am here. for. it.

in other news:

it’s been a long week. my car was broken into at daycare drop-off (if i can even say broken into, it was unlocked) and my wallet and my school laptop were stolen. i feel very foolish for being so trusting of people that i would leave it unlocked. learned my lesson the hard way.

one of my students told me a long story during class the other day about his little brother going missing and then i heard about it on the news and read the story in the paper and let me just say my heart seized up with the fear of it all.

another student has come into school screaming like i’ve never heard a child scream every single day this week, practically manhandled into his classroom and it makes me worry about what that kind of stress does to a child in their little five year old life. another student had emergency surgery for her appendix, more are in crisis of other sorts, and my gratitude chain, while beautiful and inspiring and so worth the time spent doing it also has brought up some hard conversations about what some of my students really do have to be thankful for. turns out, school might be the number one thing on their list. talk about pressure.

it’s a hard, tough world out there that, at 31, my eyes are just beginning to be opened to, readers. sorry for bringing the moods down a notch, and it should be noted that my week was not without plenty of joyful moments. it just seemed like there were a few too many downs this round.

in more personal news though, i’m starting to feel a little like meg ryan in you’ve got mail when tom hanks brings her daisies for her terrible cold, but you know, less glamorous. i could use some daisies. or just a day to hole up in my house under the comforter and blow my nose all day with a good book. i might do just that this weekend, but with a toddler and a baby crawling all over me in place of the book. we’re supposed to have cooler weather coming in this weekend with a high of 80 (practically frigid!) so a bit of sunshine and a walk down the street to the park will do us some good too. we have a trip to the store, to church, to the gas station for putting some air in my tires on the list, and all the other joys that the weekend brings.

what are you up to this weekend, reader? whatever it is, i hope you kick your feet up and enjoy it. aren’t we lucky to have that as an option?

love, em

TO COOK: MIREPOIX.

Mike and I took an Italian cooking class from a professional chef a few years ago in the days when whole days would stretch out in front of us with nowhere we needed to be and nothing we needed to do. It was a Christmas gift from his mom that taught us some great tricks in the kitchen to take our cooking up a level. We love to cook together, so this was a perfect date for us. I still make the Pasta e Fagioli a couple times a month that we learned that day, and we also learned the tip of keeping a mason jar of fresh garlic that’s been finely minced in the food processor and topped with olive oil. And we learned how to make mirepoix, which I always have in the freezer, ready to be thrown into soups and sauces as a thickener or a flavor enhancer.

French mirepoix is a combination of onion, carrot and celery. If you’ve cooked any kind of soup, you’ve probably used this combination and cooked it down in a couple tablespoons of butter as your base. But Chef Baba taught us a new, easier way to use mirepoix in our cooking. You simply throw a combination (usually 50% onion, 25% celery and 25% carrot) into a food processor and blend it into a sort of chunky paste. Freeze it in ice cube trays or in mason jars to throw into your cooking whenever you need it. And I use it alllllll the time now. I make a gigantic batch and freeze bunches of it at once so it’s always there for me to use at the drop of a hat. I sometimes freeze it in ice cube trays so I can have it in smaller units too.  To cook it, I just saute the mirepoix with a couple tablespoons of butter and/or olive oil on medium high heat until nice and pasty, then continue on with the recipe. I use it when recipes call for it, and when it doesn’t. I just always use it as the base of my soups, no matter what kind I’m making. I can tell the difference, and I think you’ll be able to too.

Ingredients: 

  • 2-3 onions (red or white, I usually use red)
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed clean and trimmed
  • 2-3 celery stalks, trimmed

Instructions: 

  1. Roughly chop veggies.
  2. Add to food processor.
  3. Blend on high until it turns into a uniform paste.
  4. Store in small mason jars or smear into ice cube trays and freeze, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. When ready to use, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and saute until soft.

 

 

 

8 MONTHS WITH BEN

I can’t believe that this little red headed pumpkin pie is 8 months old. After a rough, tear filled first few months with Ben, he has transformed into the happiest baby. I have no idea what switched, but I’m not complaining. At this point, Charlie cries more than Ben does. No joke.I think the most important update this month is that Ben is sleeping! through! the! night! Just a few weeks after we moved into our new house, he dropped his last night feeding (watch him start waking up again after typing this down). He goes to bed early (6:30 usually), but is up and at it early too (like 5:30am early). I’m okay with the schedule because we have to get up so early for school anyway. In other big 8 month old baby news, he’s crawling! It’s a herky-jerky stiff little beginner crawl and for a couple weeks he went backwards instead of forward, but now the kid has it down. He can get what he wants! He’s trying to pull up on everything, but isn’t quite there yet. He can stand for a while if we put him up against something, but his hunky little body doesn’t let him stay up for long. Ben loves to watch his big brother terrorize the house, he loves to eat (with his two teeth!) white bread, puffs, graham crackers, loves his binky, jumping (with help), and the bottle. He’s a fantastic napper in the morning, but consistently struggles to go down in the afternoon. He’s become an acrobat during diaper changes, bending and twisting in ways I didn’t know a baby could move. He loves playing with crinkly containers of wipes, and loves playing with everything around the house that isn’t a toy. He’s still into his baby swing, but also likes to just sit on the floor in the kitchen with the colander or a rubber spatula while I’m cooking. He does not like sitting in the playroom if he can see us far away in the kitchen. Separation anxiety is definitely setting in.

He babbles loudly all day and says “mamamamama” and “dadadadada” with no real intention of saying mama or dada, but it still warms our hearts. His cry sounds so much like Charlie’s that sometimes I have to look at the monitor to see if it’s him or Charlie who is up. I thought Ben would hate the car for the rest of his life, but he’s the best little car rider now. He often falls asleep on the way home from daycare which is such a godsend. The echoes of his cries will ring on forever in my mind from his first 3 months of life though. I think I’m recovering from the PTSD of that phase.I have no idea how much he weighs, but he’s wearing 9 and some 12 month baby clothes now, and we’ve started moving things that Charlie is outgrowing directly into Ben’s drawers, so Ben is definitely catching up to his big brother!

He’s just the best little (big) guy and we love him so very much!

DREAMING ABOUT: A COZY BEDROOM READING NOOK.

img_1481We moved into our new house almost two months ago and while it’s bigger! better! and all the other adjectives that mean it’s amazing, it’s also bigger! emptier! blanker! It’s been no rush as building a home is a marathon not a race, but we’ve filled in some of the spaces with lucky finds from the side of the road and some painstakingly sourced items off of facebook marketplace. After a rush of decorating in the first month, I’ve hit a real standstill with my efforts.

When we bought our home, we knew that we wanted to re-do the kitchen within the first year, and a lot of other little projects are on the list (laundry room, bathroom, general painting, gardening, etc), but our bedroom didn’t make the list. It turns out though, that as our place is a lot bigger than our old one, our bedroom furniture is dwarfed by the size of the room. We have room for more than just the bed and dresser of our old house.

I’ve been browsing pinterest and dreaming of bermuda shutters, a plant, a new lamp, frames for the walls, a little writing desk and a cozy reading nook. First on my list is the chair for next to the built in bookcase. A desk, I would prefer being used, so it’s just a matter of happening upon the right one. An upholstered chair on the other hand, I want to be fresh and clean and new. I’m thinking I smell a Christmas gift to ourselves. Here’s a few that I’ve found in the hunt so far!

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Shop the chairs:

  1. The Lillith  // Home Depot // $210
  2. Cancome Armchair // Wayfair // $204
  3. Brynn // World Market // $240 // (the current forerunner)
  4. Lohoms // Amazon // $146
  5. Ethan Mid Century Modern Linen Chair // Sofa Mania // $130
  6. Neva // Sixpenny //$1100 (absolutely a splurge. I can’t believe chairs can even cost that much!!)

Which one is your favorite? #3 is winning right now for me, but I’ll keep looking around until I find just the right one. No rush, right? 🙂

A SCHOOL CRAFT: GRATITUDE CHAIN.

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November has blown into our midst and with it, at least in the elementary school library, comes discussions about gratitude, songs about turkeys and books about special holiday family gatherings. I started our school gratitude chain this morning with my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and each time they visit the library I’ll have them write little or big things that they are grateful for up to Thanksgiving break.

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This is such a quick and easy way to talk about how feeling grateful for things in our life links us together. I love doing these school wide bonding projects where my students can pick out the small part they play in the big picture. They’re part of something. I had students who wrote that they were thankful for their breakfast, their parents, their pets and others who said they were thankful for God, the world, and their education (whoa). It’s all gravy! It took five minutes of my precious class time after book check out which, in my opinion, is well worth it.  It was also nice to tell them that for my link in our gratitude chain, I wrote “I’m thankful for my students.” I hope it made them feel good.

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For this project you need:

  • scissors or a paper cutter
  • construction paper
  • tape
  • markers

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First, I used a paper cutter to cut the construction paper about 2-3″ by 9″ (short ways if using standard 9″ x 12″ construction paper.  I put stacks out for students to choose from along with a little container of markers. I had another empty container for them to place their strip when they were done.

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I later taped the ends together by weaving the links in a circle around the last one to form a chain. Keep adding to your chain as long as you’d like and hang up with either tape or pushpins.

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This is just from one day. I think we’ll make our way all the way around the library at this rate! Happy month of gratitude, friends!