Thursday, February 28, 2013

chocolate chip mini cupcakes with cookie dough frosting


In the past, I have tried recipes for chocolate chip cookie dough, minus the raw eggs, so that it would be safe to eat by the spoonful. None of these recipes ever tasted like the real deal to me, and so I resolved that it was impossible to recreate the delicious dough eggless. Until yesterday… when I tried these cupcakes... The cookie dough frosting is incredible, and it tastes just like my pre-baked Toll House cookies!

Thank you to my mother-in-law, Alice, who had the intuition to buy me a mini muffin tin a couple weeks ago!

1 large egg
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1  1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini chips would be great for this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a mini muffin/cupcake tin with mini wrappers, or spray generously with Pam. (Recipe should yield around 30 mini cupcakes.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and brown sugar. Add vanilla and butter, and stir until combined. Mix in the flour, baking soda, oats, and salt. Mix in the milk, and fold in chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin tin cups 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until set and golden. After a few minutes, remove them from the pan and let them cool before frosting.

Cookie Dough Frosting

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
6 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1  3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1  1/2 Tablespoons milk
1  1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Mix in powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in milk and vanilla until well-blended and smooth.
Frost the cupcakes generously.

Original recipe found here on Take a Mega Bite.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


My mom went to a Thirty-One party a few weeks ago, and she bought a bag for both Nolan and me. I love their products because they are so good for organization! I also like that they can be personalized with names or initials.

1. Organizing Utility Tote in “Island Damask”.  The pockets on the back and the sides are very useful.

2. Large Utility Tote in “Lotsa Dots”. Now Nolan’s toys have a place to go at night!

I have three other Thirty-One items, given to me as gifts. Although all three patterns have since retired, they are still being sold in new designs.

3. Keep-It-Caddy in “Apple Blossom”. My mom got this one for me as well, two years ago. I’ve used it mostly as a magazine & catalog holder.

4. Thermal Tote. One of my former campers (Ellie) gave me this lunch bag with my monogram!

5. Cosmetic Bag Set in “Garden Bloom”. They’ve altered the bag slightly. My Aunt Lori bought this for me for my hospital stay when Nolan was born. :)

The Thirty-One name comes from the chapter of the Bible, Proverbs 31.
I love it, so I’m throwing it in here:

10-31  (The Message)
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!

Thirty-One has not asked me to blog about their products; all opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

a dumpster-dresser makeover

About a month ago, we decided that we really needed a dresser for Nolan. We’d been making-do with the shelves of his changing table, but Nolan would go up to it and swipe all of the neatly-folded clothes onto the floor.

We checked for a dresser—too expensive. I thought about a future trip to IKEA (about an hour and a half away). A few nights later, Steve was taking out the garbage, and he excitedly told me that he found a dresser in the dumpster.

Is this really a dresser? I’m not 100% sure. I don’t know why it’s so wide or why it has doors. But I do know that it’s huge, heavy, all-wood and not particle board, and it has plenty of space for Nolan’s clothes.

So Steve cleaned it, sanded it…

painted it with one coat…

painted it with a second coat, and took out the tracks from the top two drawers since the drawers were missing anyway.
(P.S. isn’t that guitar cute? Steve painted that for Nolan last year.)

And we think it looks great!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

life with mr. nolan | non-stagrams

Steve bought me gorgeous Valentine cupcakes.

                                                                                                                               playing around at Lowe’s.

yogurt beard                                                                                      my favorite book to read with him

Life with this little man is hard work, but it is so incredibly rewarding. Nolan learned the word “ball” this week and points it out every time he sees a ball or circle. He is putting together his wooden puzzles without help. When he is shy, he signs to ask to be picked up, and he will set his head down on my shoulder, or put his face in front of mine to give me a kiss. He tries to be helpful by passing me the silverware when I’m unloading the dishwasher. He pulls clothes out of drawers so that he can put them back in, and then he claps for himself because he wants Mommy to be proud of what he’s done. I cannot help but tell him that I love him at least 100 times a day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

hillsong united's "bones"

A few weeks ago, I fell in love with this song, based on Ezekiel 37.

And isn't Jill McCloghry beautiful?

Hillsong United's "Bones"
"You can take my dry bones
Breathe life into this skin
You called me by name
Raised me to life again

You can calm the oceans
Speak peace into my soul
Take me as I am
Awaken my heart to beat again

Oh Jesus
Alive in me

You move in the unseen
You set the captives free
As I stand and sing
You're breaking the chains off me

Breathe in me Your life
I can feel You are close now
I can never hide
You are here and You know me
All I need is You
And I love You."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

mississippi mud bars


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, divided
4 ounces white chocolate, divided
1 cup walnuts, chopped and divided 

For the chocolates, I bought these 4 ounce baking bars, since it is originally a Ghirardelli recipe. I chopped them into pieces, but you certainly could measure 4 ounces of chocolate chips or chunks.

^ chocolate bars, chopped and divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in half of the semi-sweet chocolate, half of the white chocolate, and half of the walnuts.

Spread in greased, foil-lined 9 inch square baking pan.

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

Sprinkle with remaining semi-sweet and white chocolates.

Cover with foil. Let stand 5 minutes or until chocolates are melted. Swirl chocolates with small knife to marbleize. Sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Cool in pan until firm, then cut into bars.

You can see my bars don’t have walnuts in them. My son hasn’t had nuts yet, and since he likes to taste-test my desserts, I didn’t add them. But I’m sure it would add to their tastiness!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

happy Valentine’s day!

Found the cutest printable Valentines on Hostess with the Mostess!
They are  “Perfect Pairings”—sprinkle donut & coffee, peanut butter & jelly, pie & whipped cream, and milk & cookies.

Dunkin has some really cute donuts today.

I was scrolling through Pinterest last week when I saw my friend Shelby had pinned these hanging garlands in a chevron design. They looked so beautiful that I knew I had to make them. I didn’t have any Valentine’s Day decorations—and they are good for my student’s wife budget—all I had to buy was the paper! Instructions are at My Sister’s Suitcase. Those girls are geniuses. I was surprised how easy it was to sew through cardstock on my sewing machine!

Sweet cards from my mom and Aunt Lori.

A few chocolates from my aunt, sent from Indiana.  Mmm!

And a visit to the past:

Valentine’s Day 2011  (day I announced to the world that I was pregnant with Nolan)
The caption on Facebook for this photo was : I hope the baby has Steve’s eyelashes. He does!

Valentine’s 2012—five months old—wow, has he grown in a year!

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

raspberry cool whip pie

raspberry cool whip pie

This recipe is VERY easy. In fact, this is all that you need to buy:


1/4 cup water
1 package (4 serving) sugar-free raspberry Jello
2 containers (6 oz) fat-free raspberry yogurt
1 Cool Whip Free (8 oz)
1 Oreo pie crust


Heat the water (in a  bowl or measuring glass) in the microwave on high for approximately one minute until boiling. Whisk in the Jello until dissolved. In a large bowl, whisk together the Jello mixture and the yogurt. Fold in the Cool Whip. Pour into the crust. Refrigerate at least four hours until set.

I’ve also made this pie in many other flavors—
They make sugar-free Jello in cherry, black cherry, lime, lemon, orange, peach, strawberry, and strawberry-banana. Then you match the Jello with a similar yogurt flavor.

I adapted this recipe from a Weight Watchers recipe… so it is low calorie (using sugar-free Jello, fat-free yogurt, and fat-free Cool Whip.)  I have tried using regular Jello (the pie in the photo was made from regular Jello), but for some reason it takes forever to set, so I even had to put it in the freezer for a while. I don’t suggest trying it.

Super easy, right?


Monday, February 11, 2013

a summer to die

My favorite book, A Summer to Die, was written by Lois Lowry (author of The Giver & Number the Stars).  If it hadn’t have been published in 1977, a decade before I was born, I would think she wrote it about me.

The novel is about a 13-year-old girl, Meg.
Meg is reserved, artistic, and in a self-conscious stage of adolescence.
She has a love/hate sisterly relationship with her beautiful, extraverted older sister, Molly.
Meg’s life turns upside-down when Molly discovers that she has leukemia, and passes away after only a few months.

Meg is left to continue her life without Molly: accepting the loss, valuing the memories, and realizing the impact that her sister will always have on her life.

And through this experience, Meg is really able to find her identity, discover what she loves about life, and finally see the beauty in herself.


IMG_6747 2



Lois Lowry wrote this book as fiction, but it was inspired by the relationship between herself and her sister, Helen, who passed away from cancer.

Lois Lowry writes on her website, “Like Meg in that book, I would go on to miss my sister, after she died young, for the rest of my life.”

02 2
Hannah and me

2000 (1)
Hannah at 16.

Hannah passed away twelve years ago today, February 11, 2001.

I will miss my big sister for the rest of my life.
And I will continue to live my life well enough for the both of us.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

groundhog day in punxsutawney | non-stagrams

We live close to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and we drive through it all the time. So on Saturday (Groundhog Day!) we needed to get there and see all the excitement for the first time. Unfortunately, to see Phil’s big “does he see his shadow?” moment, we would have had to drive to Punxsy, park at Walmart before 6:30 am, take a shuttle, and stand in a crowd of 30,000 people in 15 degree weather. Maybe someday when we don’t have young children, we’ll have to do that. But in the meantime, we settled for an afternoon tour of the hot spots.

First stop was Gobbler’s Knob—about two miles outside of town. This is where Phil has predicted the spring’s weather since 1887.

It’s quite a small park for the amount of people who squeeze in every year.

A photo of Phil predicting an early spring at 7:30 Saturday morning.

Excited to be standing in the same place, just a few hours later!

After Gobbler’s Knob, we had lunch at Cakes & Steaks

Shots of downtown.

And then we visited the town library—Phil lives in the library with his wife Phyllis.

Trying to find Phil from the inside of the library.

From the outside, we were able to see Phyllis hiding from all of the attention.

mmm! a delicious chocolate souvenir.

So Phil lives at the library all year round, which means (family, friends, new blog friends), if you ever want to meet this little national treasure, come visit us!


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