The Hostas leading up to our front porch are getting G I N O R M O U S !!
I think I can even see them growing!
Happy Weekend! Hope yours is sunny and green!
Cheers and Hugs,
The other evening while surfing around on Pinterest, I came across an intriguing recipe via FoodieCrush for Flourless Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies that led me to Averie Cooks. These peanut butter cookies intrigued me because they were rolled in cinnamon and sugar. I had never thought of combining peanut butter and cinnamon. And who doesn’t love peanut butter and who doesn’t love cinnamon and sugar?!
Well – I NEEEEEDED to make some cookies to take to our regular Thursday night trip to John’s Bar for dinner and drinks with our friends because I had missed and had to make up for a very important birthday the week before (Sorry Donna – you know I love you!). These sounded different and worth a try.
The original recipe called for vanilla extract – of course – a staple for cookie bakers – but can you believe I was out of it?! I had orange extract and mint extract and root beer extract and maple extract and RUM extract…. Hmmmm… Rum extract might work. Thought I’d give it a shot. And then to Jodify it and kick it up a notch, I decided to throw in some cinnamon chips too. Couldn’t hurt – eh? And instead of granulated sugar to roll them in, why not the coarser brown raw sugar to really add crunch and texture.
Well – oh my – I gotta say – they kinda kicked butt!
This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen large cookies.
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup raw sugar and 3 tsp cinnamon for rolling
Mix the first six ingredients on medium-high speed of a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes.
Add cinnamon chips.
Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour or more.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the 1/2 cup raw sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
Form 1 inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture – TWICE – to create a thicker cinnamon-sugar coating and produce cookies with more texture and more intense cinnamon sugar flavor.
Place balls onto a baking stone about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the tines of a fork, creating a crisscross pattern.
Bake for 8 – 9 minutes. They will look slightly underbaked on top and a little fluffier than you expect when you pull them out, but allow cookies to cool on the baking stone for AT LEAST 10 minutes or until they’ve firmed up.
Once completely cooled, store cookies in a Ziploc bag in the fridge or freezer for best yumminess.
Cheers and Hugs,
Grandma was my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E person in the whole wide world growing up.
I have so many happy memories about Grandma I could probably write an entire book.
I took a walk on my lunch break yesterday afternoon in between raindrops and thunderstorms, and for some reason, I thought about Grandma an extra lot on that walk.
I think everything about early summer – the sights, the sounds, the smells – remind me of Grandma.
Maybe it is because I spent almost EVERY SINGLE DAY of EVERY SINGLE SUMMER growing up at Grandma’s house.
Oh – it was the BEST camp ever!
I learned so much from a lady that had to quit school in 4th grade to stay home and take care of her three younger brothers after their young mother passed away. At the ripe ole’ age of about 9 or 10, Grandma became mother, housewife, laundress, seamstress, cook, repair person, gardener and lawn tenderer. Can you even imagine? And this is long before automatic washing machines and dryers and sewing machines, disposable diapers, microwaves, cell phones, Google and Youtube, even indoor bathrooms! This was hard work – all day long – every day.
So though grandma was not formally educated, she was one of the smartest people I knew, and I learned so much from her – more than I realized at the time and even more the older I get looking back. She taught me important STUFF about real life – about cooking – about nature – about relationships – about acceptance and being the best of yourself. It was often disguised in humor or tough love or late night talks or swings on the porch or while picking blackberries. She wasn’t really trying to teach me by telling me how to be or what to say or how to act (or was she?). She lived her life in a way that demonstrated it and allowed me to experience it.
Oh she did some pretty UN-smart things too……. Like cutting off half of her middle finger on the lawn mower blade while trying to remove stuck grass without shutting off the mower…. Or cleaning some tough grime off the kitchen floor with gasoline and getting too close to the oven and catching the house on fire….
She never got her driver’s license after driving THROUGH the garage door, but she somehow managed to get around.
She couldn’t balance a checkbook, but she was the best penny pincher and gift giver ever.
She did, however, make the absolute best blackberry pie, coffee soup (half coffee/half milk and lots of crumbled up saltines or chunks of toast), homemade sauerkraut and pierogies and halupkis and liver ball soup and apricot bread and nut rolls and salmon patties and dandelion salad and dumplings – oh my!
She also taught me things like how to make beautiful, colorful bouquets of Queen Ann’s Lace (many consider a weed) by putting food coloring in a mason jar vase of water so that when the flowers “drank the water,” their white petals turned pink or green or blue.
She taught me how to build a tent and a fort and how to camp out in the woods (about 500 feet from the house – but oh so far and vast when I was young). Thought I must admit I’m still not very good at that woodsy stuff…. Trying!
She could also splice electrical wires and do plumbing repairs.
She even allowed me to learn through crazy experiments like the time my friend, Janet and I decided we were going to boil worms (in her kitchen) for a science fair experiment! Or clean myself up in her bathroom with her yellow towels after experimenting with a mud mask facial – with REAL mud from the gravel road! (Oh the breakout after that escapade…)
What a sport she was – what a mentor – what a hero!
When grandma got older and became sick, it was my time to repay her. I hope I made her feel as loved as she did me.
I’ll never forget the time when she was recovering from a surgery and stayed with Marty and me in our small home in the spare room so we could look after her closely. I was pregnant with my first son, Jake at the time, and still working full time. Grandma was having trouble sleeping at night and would get chilled and shake and couldn’t get warm. She called out in the middle of the night and Marty got her an electric blanket, but nothing worked. She kept trembling and shaking until I climbed on top of her – pregnant belly and all – wrapped my arms around her and calmed her until the shivering stopped – warmed from my body heat – and love. And we slept through the rest of the night. I know she would have done the same for me. That is the kind of love she taught me.
Her name was Stella, and I thought that was the silliest name when I was young. She loved her name, however. She would proudly tell me that Stella meant “star,” and as I look back, I realized she was – and still is – my shining star.
Do you have a Stella Star in your life?
I sure hope so. There’s nothing better.
Love you Grandma – then, now, and at all the stages of Life In Between…
Cheers and Hugs,
Jill is one of the most creative people I know. She is one of the most generous and giving people also, so a special card was in order.
Goal was to embody creativity, artistic expression, use primary colors (Jill’s faves), and show lots of love. I like how it turned out.
For my crafting, card-making, and StampinUp friends, this card featured the following SU stamps: Hardwood, Work of Art, Banner Blast.
The chalkboard sentiment is white heat embossed.
This might also make a great teacher appreciation or end of school year card.
Here are a couple more featuring the new “Work of Art” stamp. It’s a little more abstract than I am used to working with, but fun to break out of the usual.
For this one below, I used some of the new muted shades of Mossy Meadow, Lost Lagoon, and Hello Honey stamped in a masked circle, then heat embossed the new blended bloom flower stamp with gold, dabbed with Gorgeous Grunge and added a few sequins.
For this chevron and heart one, I added some blackberry bliss and tangelo twist and blinged it up with a couple of rhinestones.
And finally, I love the brushstroke look of the Work of Art stamp and how simple yet unique it can make a card. Gold embossing “glammed” it up.
That’s some playing around in my craft room at … Life In Between.
Cheers and Hugs,
This weekend, I planted my little vegetable garden. It was such a beautiful day on Sunday and prime planting time here in Northwestern PA.
A couple years ago, I decided to turn this tiny little plot in the side yard right off the driveway into a little vegetable garden instead of planting shrubs and mulching like the rest of it that is wrapped around the back. I just planted a couple of tomato plants and a few herbs the first year to see how it would go. It was so exciting watching the yellow tomato blossoms turn into little green tomatoes, then grow and turn yellow, then pink…. but then POOF! – before I could get a red one – they were gone! Never got even one red tomato that first year.
You see, I didn’t have a fence around it that year. Didn’t think we needed it. You know – we do have guard dog Mikey to chase away any deer or critter that comes close to the house (that is his job and he is very diligent about it as he flies in and out of his doggie door – unfortunately baroofing on his way out – even when I am on a conference call during the work day!) when he spies any movement from his slumber-filled days.
But nary a tomato I got that year, and I couldn’t figure out how the deer or rabbits got them all without Mikey chasing them away.
Then one day, after going into the office, I pulled in the driveway and caught the culprit…. It was MIKEY! He was sprawled out mid-garden nibbling away and feasting on a few plump red tomatoes that happened to ripen that day.
So the next year, up went a fence around my little garden – not to keep the deer and rabbits out, but to keep Mikey out!
I do, however, plant one tomato plant each year on the OUTSIDE of the fence…. just for Mikey.
He might be just a teeeeeensy bit spoiled….
But – that is what’s so great about Life in between…
Cheers and hugs,
Could hardly go to a Gable family picnic yesterday without taking some of my “Jodi’s Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
For this batch I mixed semi-sweet chocolate chunks, white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips.
If you would like the recipe, it is the same as I used for the White Reese Peanut Butter Cup Cookies here.
A couple tips:
Refrigerate the dough before baking at least an hour and up to a few days if sealed well. (The dough also freezes well in a Ziploc bag – you can even make balls and freeze them for easy fresh pop-in-the oven warm cookies on the spot when needed.)
I always bake on baking stones. I use a large tablespoonful scoop of cough and roll it into a ball and then slightly flatten before backing.
Electric ovens (mine is also convection) provide the most even heating.
Underbake slightly and then let cool for 10 mins. on the baking stone before removing to wire rack. (I usually bake for 8-9 mins).
Once completely cooled, I like to throw them in gallon size Ziploc Freezer bags in the freezer – even if just for a few hours or overnight. They keep fresher and thaw very quickly – 10 mins.
My family even likes to eat them right out of the freezer.
It was so nice to spend time at Jake and Colleen’s, and see the rest of the gang too. The weather was perfect, and Jake made some AMAZING ribs on the grill and his delish potato salad (with bacon crumbled in it – what isn’t a bit better with bacon added?!).
They have been working hard on their yard, and it is really looking nice. Freshly edged and mulched with cute little touches everywhere. Their sweet little home has so much rich history from the couple who built it, raised their family in it, and lived their entire married life in before them, so there are little treasures everywhere – inside and out. I especially love the stone stairway in the back yard leading up to their vegetable garden and bonfire pit.
Hope you are enjoying the beautiful holiday weekend with those you love most and in honor of those who served to give us the freedom and good lives we have. (Thank you Pap – we miss you!)
Cheers and hugs,
If you like lemony, citrusy dense deliciousness, give this one a try. I found the recipe at: Our Humble Hearts blog here
It got me thinking about all the birthdays we are celebrating right around now – FUN! FUN! We will continue to celebrate our Colleen tomorrow with a family dinner and then my BFF Jill’s birthday is Monday and a couple more right around now. (And one that I forgot about last night at JB for a sweet friend that I must make up!!)
Thinking about all of these birthdays and these wonderful friends and dear family members makes me smile. I am so fortunate to have these wonderful people in my life that I love so much and that love me back! Go figure!
One of my (many) weird quirks is the need to have the last thing I say be “Love Ya” when hanging up the phone with family or friends or saying good-bye after being together.
Marty tells me I’m a pessimist because I always think the worst. I really don’t think I am. I think I usually see the bright side in most everything. I always like someone until they give me reason not to – you don’t have to prove yourself to me. I automatically like you.
I fall in love very easy too! I love people! I’m not talking in the “I want to marry you” kind of way. Already got that covered!
I mean I genuinely love people. Love meeting new people. Love learning about their “story.” Love making people happy. I enjoy being with people – nope – not a loner here.
So back to the pessimist comment. I always end conversations with “Love ya” because I always think – If this is the last time I see this person – or the last time I talk to them – I want the last thing they remember I said to be that I love them.
Pessimistic? I don’t know… I do worry. About E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G when it comes to my family and friends because I love them so much and don’t want anything to happen to them. I know it’s unproductive and I’m working on that, but in the meantime – I am just going to keep making sure that every time I hang up the phone or say goodbye – I say “Love Ya.”
…and oh how I love it when they say it back!
Yep – that’s me – life in between.
Cheers and Hugs,
PS And Happy Birthday Julie! Hope this was ok! Love ya!