Happy Friday! I don’t really buy cookies. I have always enjoyed baking, but skipping the cookie aisle at the market started when our girls were little. I didn’t like the idea of store bought cookies and all of the extra ingredients they had in them.
Later it became a known truth that ours was the cookie house. When the girls would show up after school and on the weekends with herds of friends, there would always be cookies at the ready.
Snickerdoodles were the most requested. My favorite recipe is straight out of my Grandmother’s Betty Crocker cookbook. It’s uncomplicated, quick, and easy to double. All pluses when you suddenly have a dozen kids show up to swim, or sleep over. The house always smells wonderful when they’re baking too!
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
(Makes about four dozen)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Do not grease cookie sheets.
Using your stand mixer or large bowl, mix together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and eggs.
Blend in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
Shape dough into balls and roll in cinnamon and sugar.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on wire rack.
The gigantic $3 bag of Costco tortilla chips has been sitting on the floor, in the corner of our kitchen for three weeks. If you have a Costco card, you know which bag I’m talking about. THREE WEEKS! Why you ask? Why, indeed? For starters, it doesn’t have a home and nobody is interested in eating them. In spite of my protests, my other half insisted the chips were a necessity during one of our weekend dates to Costco. That said, I have walked right past that damn $3 bag of chips, dozens of times, pretending not to notice it. Hmmmm…What chips?
I adore my husband and I’m not kidding when I say this is exactly why he isn’t “allowed” (his rule) to have a cart, when headed out on a trip to Costco, alone! It had to be this way. We just don’t have the room for 48 different types of frozen snacks. The box of individual servings of hash browns that just (Ew!) need you to add water. The case of fizzy water he wants to try. A 12 pound package of hamburger. The vat of Que Bueno nacho cheese, and (unless you operate a snack bar) who needs a 26 pound bucket of red vines anyway!? I’m exaggerating of course, but not much.
We all harbor something. When I was young, we lived in an older neighborhood of mostly turn of the century homes. Our house was always in process, construction cluttered, and unfinished – not unlike the famed Winchester Mystery House, only without the rogue spirits, hidden passage ways, and other oddities; and our car (a 1970 Pontiac Tempest) was always breaking down.
In this season, many parts of my life feel cluttered. Unfinished. Out of order. Under construction. Clutter gives me a certain level of anxiety. In fact, while we are on the subject, unfinished home renovations and unreliable cars are right up there too. Call them “leftovers” from my childhood.
I am a creative brain, so I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. It’s not always a trait that I appreciate, but it’s part of who I am. In spite of all the growth I have experienced in the past year, I have not stopped to do a full review of my “life list”. Maybe I didn’t want to until now. There it is, procrastination.
The truth is, the more you have to manage, the more clutter you end up having, and you can unwittingly carry it from place to place. I suppose you have to put it all somewhere, right? So while I am very aware that the clutter makes me anxious, it’s all I can see! End of semester paper piles. Stacks of clothes that don’t fit in the dresser. Kid piles. Piles in the laundry room. Piles on the nightstand (mine and his). Bags of tortilla chips on the kitchen floor. There are four pairs of shoes scattered around the family room right now, and none of them belong to me! What is happening here?
All those physical piles eventually become mental weight. Do you ever feel like that? Weighed down by mental clutter? What do you do to start cleaning it up? Lately, I simply shuffle all the clutter from one task to another and one thought to another.
Procrastination is a fine line and I’m teetering on the edge! One more pile might push me over, and there I would be, lamely dangling by one foot, like a cartoon character in a booby trap, nose to nose with everything on my life list that I’m trying to ignore.
This is the culmination of too many half completed to-do lists. Lists that I just can’t seem to sweep into one tidy pile. Why is that? I know many people feel this way in different phases of their life. We started a home renovation, several years ago, that we can’t seem to finish. The garage needs to be cleaned out (heaven forbid we throw away that onesliver of sheetrock, or scrap of plywood we MIGHT need). I have cabinets and closets that need to be emptied, projects that need to be completed, and life decisions that need to be made. Our cars have finally aged to the point where it’s probably time to give them up, but I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the idea of car payments (and I’m pretty sure my other half doesn’t want to), so we keep dumping money into them. It’s all mental clutter.
Holding onto clutter is often a manifestation of other unfinished business. It’s never really about the piles, it’s about why all that “stuff” is there in the first place. So I will begin by asking; what is keeping me from doing or deciding? I need some answers people!
I am a glass half-full kind of girl, who has the procrastination gene, so I already know there’s really only one solution. DIVE IN! The first order of business? I’m going to throw away those damned chips! Then I’m headed into the garage to yell “PLOT TWIST” at the top of my lungs, sweep all those to-do lists into one giant (forget tidy!) pile, and wait for the dumpster to be dropped off, so I can move forward!
Do you have your own #lifelist that needs so be pared down too? Just do it! I’ll be here to cheer you on!
I’m going to stray a little bit today from my normal writings because, well, yesterday was just too much fun to not write about it!
Last night my husband and I were lucky enough to attend the American Wrestler: The Wizard premiere in L.A.! Yes, a movie premiere; red carpet, celebrities, cameras flashing, the whole nine yards! American Wrestler: The Wizard is set in a small town in 1980. It’s a story about struggle and perseverance, and being able to put aside differences to find common ground. It will be in select theaters May 3rd, and you can check for local listings at Fathom Events. #AmericanWrestlerMovie
One of the actors and producers, Ali Afshar, is a long time friend of ours (we’re talking 25+ years here) and most of the movie is shot locally in Petaluma and Tomales, California. Ali has invited us to several of his L.A. premieres, but either our kids were busy, or my other half was travelling for work, so we hadn’t been able to attend. Until now.
A few weeks ago, my husband decided we were going. “We never get out and do stuff like this. Let’s just go” he announced. I was all in (I’m always all in for date night with my guy), so I booked a flight to LA and a hotel just a block from the theater.
Then it dawned on me that I had no idea what you might wear to something like this…Uh oh! I scoured Pinterest for ideas. The only thing I knew for certain was that I would need something a bit more sleek than my traditional jeans, a t-shirt, and converse. For those who don’t know me personally, I’m a pretty simple gal and I am NOT a shopper! Not even the teeniest tiniest little bit. It takes every ounce of my being to force myself through the store doors. So I talked my sister (who always looks really put together) into a “quick” shopping trip. She was a really good sport while I tried on EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in Nordstrom and Macys. Far, FAR too many hours later, I thought I had an outfit mostly figured out. Why do the department stores never have exactly what I need, when I need it? I know I can’t be the only one that has this problem? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with my tendency to ALWAYS shop at the last-minute?
When we arrived at the theater Wednesday night, the event was in full swing. Actors and guests strolling the red carpet while posing for photos, camera flashes in every direction. The people watching was a blast! Before the movie started, Ali (who is truly humble and genuine) stepped up on stage and told us a little about the filming of the movie and then thanked everyone who was involved in the process (my husband included) personally. Everyone was invited to the after-party to celebrate. So we dropped by for a bit, to congratulate Ali, and then we made the short walk back to our hotel.
I really loved to see Ali in his element. He’s worked so hard to get where he is today, and we have watched as this part of his life has evolved over the years. Finally being immersed in it, up close and personal, was exciting.
American Wrestler: The Wizard is definitely a must see! If you’re local, it will be in Petaluma May 3 – 6. For everyone else, it will be in select theaters next week. The Fathom Events link is up near the top of this post. Check it out!
This past year has brought a lot of changes to my life. One of those changes was a choice to take better care of myself. Get more exercise. Drink more water. Consume a little less sugar (I don’t drink alcohol, and I haven’t had a soda in almost ten years, but I do love dessert!) I have done a good job maintaining those goals. Baby steps work best for me.
Today, I want to talk about collagen. I know. I never thought much about it either until I was talking to my friend Mary (who is a nutritionist) about hair and skin changes (years out in the sun), hormones, inflamation, and “crunchy” knees. My knees have some arthritic changes from years of riding horses.
Mary asked if had ever used collagen supplements? Protein, yes. Collagen? Nope.
“Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular space, in the various connective tissues in the body. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen, is mostly found in fibrous tissues – tendons, ligaments and skin. It is also abundant in corneas, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, intervertebral discs, and the dentin in teeth. It serves as a major component in muscle tissue. Collagen constitutes one to two percent of muscle tissue, and accounts for 6% of the weight of muscles.” – Medical News Today
Did you know your body only consistently produces collagen until you are 35-40? I didn’t. After that collagen production begins to decline, with a dramatic reduction in synthesis in women after 50.
Have you noticed skin changes? Are those fine lines beginning to creep up on you? What about joint aches and pains? Do you juice fruits and veggies, or make smoothies? Do you add protein to those (or anything else) for health and/or recovery benefits? I used to make smoothies, but if I added traditional protein supplements like whey, they would give me a wicked stomach-ache. Let’s be honest, beyond that I’m also a little bit of baby when forcing myself to choke it down with water or milk. Ew. Seriously, it shouldn’t be that much work. “It tastes like a milkshake”? To who? Yuck!
Mary suggested Vital Proteins. Have you heard of Vital Proteins yet? If you haven’t, you can read more about the company here. They have been around for a while now. I had read all about their products, but had not tried any of them, so I decided to give their Collagen Peptides a whirl.
The first benefit I noticed was the digestive difference and absence of stomach issues when mixed with fruit and vegetables. No bloated feeling or stomach-ache! This alone is a huge selling point for me! The product is also completely soluble in liquids and is truly (nearly) tasteless which is also another big selling point. You can mix it into anything! I have mixed it into yogurt or oatmeal, and I put a single scoop in my tea daily and don’t even notice it! #winning
After using the collagen peptides for about two months, I realized my nails were stronger. After four months, I noticed changes to my skin and hair (more shine, less breakage). Nicole has been cutting and coloring my hair for 20+ years, was the first to mention it. The six month mark was the most significant to me. My knees were less achy when exercising. In fact, I think even my lower back has benefited a bit. Bonus: I’m a fan of fast Amazon shipping, so I love that you can order it from them, and it’s just a bit cheaper at Amazon. If you’re already sold, you can find an ordering link here.
Now, I’m not saying collagen peptides are a miracle elixir. This isn’t 1850, when the guy in the top hat toted his wares to every town, claiming there was a “miracle” in every bottle. Your results may not be the same as mine, or they might be even better. You and I both know there is no fountain of youth. Nothing will completely turn back the clock, but I am all about feeling like I have the ability to slow it down. Vital Proteins also has a new collagen product out that has a chicken bone broth base. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to order. To learn more about the benefits of bone broth (there are MANY!) click here. Now, personally, I do think bone broth might actually be as close to a miracle elixir as you can get!
At the end of the day, what I appreciate most is that the VP products are naturally derived. No chemicals and lab created crap! If you can appreciate that too, take a few minutes to check out Vital Proteins. I think you’ll be happy you did.
Here’s to our health! Enjoy the weekend!
PS – If you happen to be looking for somebody knowledgeable to work with regarding your health, Mary is your girl. She is truly a wealth of information! Her website is still under construction, but you can get in touch with her at www.maryshappell.com
Last week, a friend and I were talking about parenting stages. We both have college aged kids now so we’ve “been there and done that”. When she asked if I would go back and do anything differently, I paused. I was pretty sure I had most of it figured out. I’m not saying my husband and I did everything right. On the contrary. We definitely did not get everything right, but we raised two kids who made their share of mistakes, and still survived to adulthood, so I suppose we must have done a few things correctly?
Seriously, our daughters are turning out to be really good people. I know, I’m probably a little biased. Maybe even just a smidge more than a little? Still, they’re pretty awesome in my book. Isn’t that the whole idea though? Parenting with your best foot forward 99% of the time, so you can send intelligent, curious, kind, and socially responsible people out into the world, to make it a better place. Well, that’s the way we approached it anyway.
That said, there are some things that I didn’t fully understand back then.
First things first! Don’t second guess your capabilities. I have repeatedly heard parents wonder out loud if they’re doing it all right? Of course you’re not! None of us are. How could we? Those little wonders don’t come with a manual and all the parenting books in the world won’t completely prepare you, or keep you from making mistakes. There will be “bad” days. Shoot, there might even be a stint of them. If you’re doing your best, YOU ARE ENOUGH! Look in the mirror and ask yourself “Am I using all the tools I have to be the best parent I can be?” If your honest answer is yes, you are doing enough.
Speaking of “bad”days. Let’s just get this one off the table now. We have all said or done something (if you haven’t, you will) that makes us cringe. We are human after all. We get overwhelmed and tired. It’s OK. Just don’t unpack and live there. Stop, take a deep breath, or a few of them…apologize, and LET IT GO!
You can’t do it all at home and you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Looking back, our girls could have had more chores. Put your little angels to work. They can help fold laundry and unload the dishwasher. They should be picking up their rooms and making beds. Will three of those four chores turn out the same way they would if you did it yourself? Probably not, but it will be close enough, so who cares? A perfectly starched and spotless house is overrated. Martha Stewart doesn’t live here. Nothing against Martha, but I’m certain she has “people” who do all that for her. Perfection is for model homes. It’s getting done and that’s all that matters. As they grow, give them a weekly chore list. You are lessening your work load and teaching them simple lessons in the process.
School isn’t a competition. “Oh, my goodness, my little SallyJane just wouldn’t know what to do if she got a B!” If that works for SallyJane, so be it. My kids were never straight A students and at times I agonized over my girls grades even though with a mix of A’s and B’s, they were doing just fine. We ended up putting undue pressure, on our oldest, in math. Unfortunately, she inherited my math skills. (Sorry TT!) We tried everything and she would work her rear end off for a C. The thing is, there was nothing wrong with a C. We finally accepted she was doing her best and that’s what mattered!
As it turns out, both of our daughters got accepted to the colleges of their choice and she only needed one math class for her major. There really is a reason for everything!
You don’t have to be BFF’s with all the other parents at school. Be friendly to everyone, but it’s OK to pick and choose who you really want to get to know. Let those relationships grow organically. There is only so much energy to go around and none of it should involve forced interactions.
No is a complete sentence. An explanation is not always required. Practice in the mirror. Own it.
Take at least 15 minutes for yourself daily. I didn’t do this and I should have. Make some tea, read, take a nap, sit outside on the porch in the sun, do some gardening. If you don’t want to take 15 minutes, devote an evening to a class. Whatever is good for you, do it!
I will also add (and this is not to be lumped in with your 15 minutes of “you” time) that it’s not OK for your kids to follow you into the bathroom. My mantra was always “I get to pee by myself!”
There will be days when you don’t feel like playing another round of Candy Land, Go-Fish, saving the world, or attending the Barbie dance party. Take a walk to the park and save your sanity instead.
Mom guilt is real. Don’t give in to it – go back and review the bullet point about being enough.
Date night should be a regular thing. Once a week. Once a month. Every other month. It can be as simple as going for a walk, or out for an ice cream. Another friend of mine schedules stay-in pool side date nights. I love that idea! My husband and I didn’t begin regular date nights until our girls were older. We always spent lots of time together as a family, so we have no regrets in that department, but we could have carved out more time for us as a couple when our girls were younger.
I’m sure there are a few other things I would do differently. Maybe I’ll write about those, down the road, in another post. For now, these were the most obvious. Maybe you would do a few things differently too?
#Parenting; would I do most of it the same? Absolutely.
Happy Friday! Today I am continuing my new series of Friday posts with a delectable cake recipe just in time to celebrate Easter, or the fact that it’s the weekend! Whatever you prefer! Do you really need a holiday to have cake? I certainly don’t!
Lemon desserts are one of my favorites. They’re fresh and make me think of springtime, so I decided this is the perfect week to share my favorite lemon layer cake recipe with you. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser, and the recipe can easily be doubled and used for cupcakes too. Note: As suggested by Erin @ Well Plated, my personal preference is to use lemon cream cheese frosting, with lemon curd, in lieu of frosting, between the cake layers. Either way, it’s delicious!
Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/4 cups cake flour (I prefer Softasilk it’s available at most grocery stores and can be ordered from Amazon too!)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I prefer Philadelphia)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided (I use Meyer Lemons if I can get them.)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Place cooking rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, then butter the parchment. (Parchment is optional, but be sure to butter and flour pans generously if not using parchment.)
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in medium size bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites. If making lemon curd (recipe below) hold out egg yolks for later use.
Using a stand mixer, place granulated sugar and lemon zest in the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the butter and beat on medium speed until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Mix in lemon extract.
Add one-third of the flour mixture and half of the egg/buttermilk mixture. Mix until combined. Now add the next third of the dry ingredients and the remaining eggs/buttermilk. Mix until batter is smooth, and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed until batter is well combined (about 2-3 minutes).
Divide batter evenly between your two pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes spring back lightly when touched, and a toothpick or small knife (inserted into the center) comes out clean. Place cake pans on a wire rack and cool 5-10 minutes. Use a butter knife around sides to loosen cake. Place second wire rack on top of cake pan and gently turn over. Remove the parchment liner, if used, and allow cake to cool completely.
Prepare cream cheese frosting: With your stand or hand mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth (approximately 3 minutes). Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and salt. As the sugar begins to incorporate, increase speed to high and mix for 3-4 minutes. If needed, you can add the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice to thin the frosting.
Frosting your cake: Trim tops of the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place first layer on a cake stand. Spread top with lemon cream cheese frosting (Note: lemon curd can also be used between the layers. Find my favorite recipe for lemon curd, by Karen @ The Food Charlatan, here.) Place the second layer on top, with trimmed-side down. Spread with more frosting and continue frosting sides of cake.
You can serve immediately. For the easiest slicing, refrigerate the frosted cake for 30-40 minutes first. Allow cake to come almost to room temperature before serving.
If you’re interested, you can find the original cake recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Cookbook – Baking: From My Home To Yours , or the version with the fabulous lemon cream cheese frosting above, by Erin at Well Plated, here.
Did you see my YouTube videos yet? Did you want to? As I mentioned in my previous post, public speaking is not my thing. In fact, it scares the hell out of me! I am taking a great social media class this semester. We’re learning about every aspect of social media possible, including (GASP!) using YouTube. If you want to see the videos, you can check them out here and here. It really is ironic that the post I had planned for this week was about overcoming fear. Lol.
I’m more the kind of gal who would rather promote myself via Pinterest boards. If you’re interested, you can see those here. I recently added some great dessert recipe pins and there will be a board for my new Friday post series.
Thanks for following along! I’m so glad you’re all here! Have a great week!