Snowed In

Growing up in New Hampshire, I am no stranger to blizzards. Nearly every winter, we would get a handful of big storms and if we were lucky,  a snow day or two would result. My family would often take advantage of the snow by heading up North to ski. And for the days where we reminded at home, we would spend at least half of the day playing outside, building snowmen, making snow forts and sledding. In preparation for these activities I would spend hours bundling up before heading outside. I assembled the perfect snow outfit, complete with the trick of pulling my wool socks OVER my pant legs to ensure that no snow would touch my skin! After time in the snow, we would warm up with hot chocolate and, more often than not, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Blizzards in New York City are a little different. People freak out leading up to the storm, but then once it comes even though this city is a little quieter, things continue on as normal. Restaurants still deliver, Starbucks remains open and Broadway shows still go on.

I took advantage of the quite weekend to stay in a do a little baking and crafting. Unfortunately, I don’t have completed projects or blog posts to show you so hang tight.

That's right - the sewing machine came out this weekend!
That’s right – the sewing machine came out this weekend!
Some exciting things went down in the kitchen this weekend. More to come!
Some exciting things went down in the kitchen this weekend. More to come!

What did you do this weekend during the storm? Anything fun?

Meet My New Mom

(via)

This comment was so good I decided it needed its own post:

I am officially applying for the position of adopted mother. Although I had not considered more children, your plea tugged at my heart strings. First and foremost, you are my favorite and always have been. Your sister is selfish to hog your birth parents like that. I promise I would never do that.

I have my cell beside my bed, so you can call me day or night. If I don’t answer on the first ring, I will by the third. I make the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet, just ask your new brother. I also like the idea that you are a married adult living away from home!!! This is so novel, I will want to visit you regularly, but especially for special occasions, birthdays, holidays, playoffs, NYC marathon, etc. I love to shop and spend time with my girls doing what they like, that brings joy to me. I must insist that when or if a grandchild arrives, I get to come and take care of both of you. I have my degree in early childhood education, so i am fully qualified to be baby opinionated like all great grandmas! Mostly I want a free place to stay while I’m in NYC, but would happily adopt you and welcome your husband into our family! xoxox

Love mom

PS- I miss you already :)

Thanks mom! You are the best. I can’t wait to meet you!

Chalk It Up

In the house where I grew up, we had an unfinished basement that Abby and I turned into our play “zone.” We would roller skate around on the cement floors, do karaoke performances on the “stage” for our parents and jump on the homemade trampoline that we created (two old couches pushed together). However, one of my favorite things was that our parents let us write on the walls. I am not exactly sure that they approved of this idea before it actually happened, but they didn’t freak out when it did.

Because the basement wasn’t finished, our walls were a cool grey cement that was a perfect canvass for chalk. We practiced out signature, drew smily faces and supported our swim team with things like “GO SUNFISH!” scribbles around the room. When friends came over to play, they were immediately intrigued by this “wall art” that we were allowed to do.

When Abby and I were in high school, our parents decided to “finish” the basement. Walls went up, carpet went down and new furniture came in. We put a tv in the basement and a dart board. We went from having our very own roller skating rink, to having a youth center. It was the setting for many swim team parties and I shamefully sat downstairs with a few dates, making them watch Disney movies… Matt was the only boy who lasted through The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, AND Toy Story.

While the new space was certainly nicer than the unfinished basement that we had grown up with, Abby and I missed having the ability to write on the walls. My parents tried to make up for this by hanging a giant whiteboard on one wall, but it was just not the same.

A few weeks ago, I decided I would get back the ability to write on my walls by painting a wall in our apartment with chalk board paint. Matt wasn’t terribly excited about this but he also knew I wasn’t going to back down. So we bought some paint and he sat quietly on the coach as I covered a small wall with black paint. The painted worked wonderfully – now all I needed was something to write/draw…

Weeks went by and the chalkboard wall remained blank. I had to wait for the right inspiration. Thankfully, that inspiration came when Matt and I decided to host a small Super Bowl party last night.

Thanks to everyone who came by! It was a lot of fun; and surprisingly, we didn’t have too much food left over! Thank goodness for “binge days.”

Mastering the Chocolate Chip Cookie

My mom is a baker. Like me, she enjoys putting together butter, flour and sugar to create a delicious treat. Growing up, you could often find homemade bread and muffins cooling on wire racks in the kitchen. When it was our (my sister, Abby and me) turn to bring snack to Kindergarten, we never brought something that was store-bought. While I can certainly appreciate this now, it was sometimes hard to be the only kid at the lunch table without a pudding cup, Ding Dong, or Little Debbie Snack Cake. To this day, neither Abby nor I have ever had a Twinkie (although I have a feeling we aren’t missing out on much).

Some of my earliest memories revolve around baking with my mom. When we made chocolate chip cookies, we always followed the recipe on the back of the nestle toll house bag. Is this ingenious? No. But is it the best? Hands down yes!

One specific memory I have was when my mom would add the brown sugar. It was inevitable that some would spill onto the counter as she packed it down in the measuring cup. Never fail, she would let me eat the sugar that had made its way to the counter and I would be in heaven. Now that I bake on my own, I have realized how much easier it is to pack the sugar into the measuring cup by scooping the cup into the bag of sugar and pressing it against the sides of the bag. This way you avoid spills and don’t get the sticky residue all over your hands. I have a sneaky suspicion that my mother figured out this trick as well, but continued to do it her way  when I was around.

Another thing I remember about making chocolate chip cookies was eating the cookie dough. Licking the beaters was a given; however, Abby and I didn’t stop there. After we finished making the dough and we were getting ready to start baking them, either Abby or I would suggest to my mother that she call her mom. Baking cookies was a weekend activity, as was our mom’s weekly call to our grandmother. So once we got the first sheet of cookies in the oven, my mom would dial up our grandmother and spend the next hour or so chatting with her. During this time, Abby and I would entertain ourselves by eating nearly all of the cookie dough in the bowl. I remember the first time I made chocolate chip cookies on my own, I was shocked by how many cookies the recipe actually made.

Whenever I make cookies now, I am tempted to call my mom and tell her that she should call her mother. I am not sure if it is to relieve my guilt for eating the dough, or an old habit, but it just seems like the right thing to do.

While my cooking and baking skills are still being fine tuned, I am confident in saying that I have mastered the chocolate chip cookie. The trick to this, fairly straightforward concoction, is two-fold. First, I prefer butter flavored Crisco sticks to regular butter. Second, when I bake the cookies, I reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (from 375 as the recipe calls for). I normally cookie them for about 9-10 minutes – try to take them out right as they start to brown. It is my “unprofessional opinion” that these two steps will result in soft, gooey cookies. And let’s be honest, people who like hard crunchy cookies are just crazy. Another thing I have found recently, that improves upon the original nestle toll house cookie – chocolate chunks, as opposed to chips, have a much better effect. (Unfortunately, when I made these cookies today, I only had chips in my house!)

Try these few changes to the recipe and you can master the chocolate chip cookie as well. Just make sure that you have some milk nearby!