Monday, April 23, 2012

A Cookie to Celebrate!

I guess that is kind of an overgeneralized and completely underwhelming statement. After all, aren't all cookies worthy of celebration for the most part? I certainly think so! Regardless, these little cookies make me happy happy. I like all things sweet, but I have a strange and strong affinity for those mall bought cookie / frosting sandwiches. They have always been my personal "kryptonite", even if they do leave me feeling giddily sick in the end.


Yesterday was a rainy cool day here, and I was sitting around trying to think of what I could bake up given the limited fixings that I had in my baking cabinet. No chocolate chips. No marshmallow fluff. No brownie mixes to play with. And, then my mind conjured up sweet memories of those mall sandwich cookies...and I got to recipe creating!

So, here you are. My rainy day sugar cookie-wich recipe which is sure to please!


Rainbow Sprinkle Sugar Cookie-wiches 
(with vanilla buttercream filling)

cookie ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 stick (1/2 cup) Crisco
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla (I admittedly substituted sugar free vanilla syrup for coffee / lattes)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

frosting ingredients:
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon half and half
1 - 3 tablespoons skim milk
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring (I admittedly again substituted with sugar free vanilla syrup)
1/2 bag (approximately 3 to 4 cups) of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  By hand, or with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and Crisco.  (Tip:  If you don't have the butter softened yet, microwave it for 30 to 40 seconds on a 50% power level.  Works great!)  Add in the brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Add the eggs and almond and vanilla flavorings and beat until fluffy and creamy.  Add in part of the flour, then the baking soda and salt, and follow with the rest of the flour.  Mix until blended.  Add the rainbow sprinkles.

Drop by rounded tablespoon size onto un-greased cookie sheets.  (You can sort of shape each drop into a sort of ball if you prefer.  I did!)  Bake for approximately nine minutes, when just the edges are turning a nice solid golden brown.  (If you bake the cookies too long, they will be more crisp than soft.)  Cool on cookie sheets for 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to cooling rack. Let cookies cool completely. 

Makes approximately 30 to 36 cookies (or 15 to 18 cookie-wiches), depending on how much batter you "test" during the mixing / baking process.  

While cookies cool, prepare the frosting.  First beat together the butter and about 1/4 of the powdered sugar.  Add in the vanilla and half and half.  Mix in 1/2 the remaining powdered sugar.  Add one to two tablespoons of milk.  Beat until creamy.  Mix in the rest of the powdered sugar.   If your frosting is too thick, add a bit more skim milk.  If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.  There is no real science to making frosting like this...just mix until the wet and dry ingredients until you have the desired consistency. 

Once cookies are completely cooled, take spoonfuls of frosting and spread on the bottom of one cookie.  Top with another cookie, and you have your completed cookie-wich!



Judgement Day

Fridays in this house can sometimes be judgement days. When the end of the week finally rolls around, all I have to do is look at the floor to see what can of week we have had. If the floor is pristine and free of dust-bunnies, then chances are that we have had a low-key week. Perhaps it rained. Or maybe we were sick. Then again, maybe I was just in a cleaning sort of mood and had some extra time on my hands.

If the big day rolls around, though, and my floors look like....THIS:


Then? Well, THEN chances are we had a seriously awesome week filled with adventures, outings, and lots of quality girl time. And, this is exactly what my floor looked like this past Friday. The weather was too nice to hang out at the house or to sit inside, so we didn't. We did the usual routine by hitting gymnastics class and story times, but we also took about the nicest day this planet has ever seen to ride out to Sea Isle City and spend a day at the Jersey shore.

This was our second beach outing of the year, and it isn't even May. Craziness! Of course, with my dislike of crowds (especially those walking elbow to elbow on the boardwalk or those packed tightly like sardines baking on the beach in the dead of the scorching hot summer), I can't imagine heading that out way between the months of May and September. But, random summer like days in the early part of Spring? I will happily spend those days alone or with friends at the nearly abandoned Atlantic coast beaches of our beloved Garden State.

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Last year at this same time (and for the entire summer season), Finnley had a love-hate relationship with the beaches. She loved splashing in the ocean, but she truly despised the fact that it took walking in SAND to get to her water playground. She also quickly bored of the whole scene. Ah, what a difference a year makes. That same girl now loves to RUN, DIG, and PLAY in the sand. She also loves to splash in the water and chase the rolling tides. She jumps on algae covered rocks jutting out of the salt water, throws rocks and shells, and explores every inch of her surroundings. What a joy it is to follow her around giving close to zero direction as to how she can invent even more moments of fun.

The beautiful weather lasted through Saturday, and that meant some time out in the yard helping daddy with the chores followed up by a pirate birthday party with friends in the late afternoon. I think Finnley thought mowing the grass while riding on daddy's shoulders was just as much fun as the birthday party. Not that birthday parties aren't cool...Finnley just really likes time with her dad.


One thing we all know, Spring is quite fickle. And, just like Fridays are a sort of judgement day...Mondays are often pretty much a bitter dose of face-smacking reality. This Monday has been exactly that, first off with a total reversal of weather. It has been rainy, windy, and cool. Fiftyish degrees sort of cool. The day has consisted of routines and the running of errands. It has also involved some whining and a bit of messy wet poop on a bathroom rug (you can ask Finnley about that one). To top it off, I will be spending the 9pm hour having a MRI of my cervical spine completed. Now, if all that doesn't just SCREAM "Monday", I don't know what does.

Oh well. Not every day can be Friday-awesome. We'll take them all, though. Where would any of us be without a system of checks and balances after all?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thank you Easter Bunny....BAWK BAWK!

Hoping you all had a great Easter.  I know that we did.  Our weekend was filled with good food, special treats, colored eggs, gift-laden baskets, church, more good food, and some overall quality family time.  With the passing of Easter, we are one step closer to those warm days of summer.  I'm sure they will be here in no time, as the days right now just seem to skip over one another.

Happy Days.

Happy Spring.

Happy Happy!

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Oh The Places We Go...

First off, where in the hell did March go?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Hmmph.  It flew right by us, I swear.  With birthday celebrations, St. Patrick's Day parties, and unbelievably atypical turned right into a beautiful swirly blur.

Matt turned 42.  I turned 38.  Those numbers are nothing special, so maybe we should stop counting general birthdays...but who really cares!  Neither of us feel old.  Neither of us look old, so says, I will keep on counting and celebrating and eating cake.  Mmmm...cake.  Speaking of which, I made a delicious chocolate layer cake with a whipped cocoa buttercream frosting for myself my dear husband.  I think he appreciated it.  I know Finnley did.  She is becoming more aware of birthdays at this juncture and the fact that they happily coincide with treats and presents.  That girl is no dummy!  She now knows that her birthday is August.  August 1st, to be exact.  She has already started putting a list together of things she wants, you know, when we are out and about and she spots something, and I tell her she can't have it??  Yes, that is when it appears that the items automatically just chucked onto the birthday list.  At least the thought that someone will give it to her for her birthday assists in getting us out of the stores with fewer tantrums.

We finished off our black tie circuit for the year.  Starting in January, we had the preview event for the Auto Show.  That led into the Flower Show.  Which led into the Red Ball.  Which finally led into the Cherry Bash.  I must admit that we clean up nicely, and we make the most out of each unique event.  Free flowing food and alcohol certainly make them all easy to enjoy.  Now we get to spend the better part of a year preparing for the next round.

March 20123

Outside of being fancy, there have been plenty of other to-dos.  Finnley and I have more than taken advantage of the nice weather.  Mid-month we hosted a St. Patrick's Day party for kiddos and moms.  There was a bounce house, bubbles, toys, music, laughter, toddler-fighting, running around, and lots lots more.  We picnicked outside and let the kids run wild in their very best greens.  We indulged in good treats and the ever-important mommy commiserations conversations.


We have also had play dates at indoor play places and museums, as well as at outdoor playgrounds.  Both are fun, but Finnley would certainly take being outside over anything.  She doesn't care if she is at the park or in her own backyard, she will make a grand time of it, for sure.  She will play alone, with friends, or with her mommy / daddy / or fur-brother.  She is a go-gettem nature enthusiast.  She loves to walk, spin, swing, climb, slide, mulch investigate, sidewalk chalk, picnic on a blanket, and do pretty much anything else she can think to do in the out of doors.  I like it.  How could I not?  Fresh air does us all some epically great good.


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One of the greatest things about living where we do in South Jersey is our proximity to just about a gazillion places to visit.  We can be in NYC in a little over an hour.  We can be in center city Philadelphia in 15 minutes.  We can be in Washington D.C. in a matter of hours.  And, we can be at the Jersey Shore in an close to an hour on the dot.  In all of the four years that we have lived here, we have managed to venture out to all of those places (often several times), EXCEPT for the Jersey shore.  So, when the unusual warm days started stacking up, my friends started to get the itch to head to the boardwalk.  For once, I couldn't resist the urge, either.  I loaded up a kid and the car, and we headed East until we hit the ocean.  We landed in Ocean City, NJ, and we made a day of it.  The warm air struggled with some cooler air near the shore, and it took longer for the fog and haze to burn off there than it did inland.  I loved it even more with the shades of gray and soft silhouettes streaking the shoreline.  You had to get close to it in order to initially see the ocean, but as the afternoon started to fade, so did the land-clouds.  We loved it regardless, and we walked the boardwalk, ate lunch at one of the local food courts, and we dug our toes into the sand.  Finnley took it a step further, as she scooped sand / danced/ rock-hopped, and twirled her way about the beach.  It brought me such joy to witness my little girl in explorative action, and I found myself even more enamored with my camera than ever.  I am so blessed to have this child to walk through life with, and I am equally as lucky to have such moments captured permanently on film.  My head can't possibly keep all of these special times organized and stored in detail and depth...but my faithful camera can.  I look forward to more beach trips along our coastline in the early and late seasons this year to create even more of these awesome memories.

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In ordinary real time life, Finnley continues to grow up before our very eyes.  She is all sorts of 2.5 going on 3 at this point.  That means she is loads of fun, and that she is in a constant state of learning and growing.  It also means that she can throw a tantrum with the best of them.  These tantrums self-feed and can last as long as a half hour, loaded up with yelling / crying / door slamming / running away / you-name-it-she-does-it-ing.  She more than makes up for the random but expected (almost daily) nastiness by continually saying things that will stop you in your tracks with fits of laughter.  These things have included, but are in no way limited to, the following:

"Hey, what's in my tushy?"
"You going to eat Batman's poop?"
"Are you earrings? Are you eyes?  Are you teeth?'re mommy!"
"Poop, get out of my tushy!"
"Daddy's in my tushy!"
"Excuse YOU!"

As you can tell, anything involving the tushy is entertainment for Finnley.  Potty humor starts at a very early age, I guess.  Sometimes her vocabulary seemingly only includes the word "no", or the words, "no, YOU do it".  And, as quickly as she snaps into a moment (an "it feels just like it might almost never-end sort of moment") of terrible-toddlerishness, she will snap right back out of it and do something to remind you what an awesome little human being she is.  Eh, you take the bad with the good with everything in life, so nothing out of the ordinary here, I suppose.

So, that is essentially a month worth of updates, snippets of our daily life, and collages and photos of our random adventures.  As the days get longer and the weather continues to improve, I am certain that the updates will become more frequent and will be even more photo-laden...see, sunshine makes for happy people, lots of time spent out of the house, and generally amazing light for picture taking.  We are sure to get out and take it all in, one glorious day at a time.