October 31, 2010

Creepy Crawly Creations - Pumpkin Cookies

Today I'm writing a post as part of the SITS Girls and Shutterfly spectacular Halloween giveaway. It's a weekend of celebrating Halloween and sharing our stories and pictures, as well as earning the chance at winning an amazing DSLR camera!

I am a pumpkin fiend. When fall rolls around, I get so excited about all of the delicious things I'm going to eat - pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin bread. And of course, pumpkin cookies. I had never tried making my own pumpkin cookies, so last weekend I bought a couple of cans of pumpkin and Sam and I tried our hand at it.

I looked online for recipes, and almost all of the ones I found said this: Mix a box of spice cake mix with a can of pumpkin and some chocolate chips. Which I guess is fine, but I really wanted to make some from scratch. I was also looking for a recipe that I'd know the Weight Watchers points for because, well, I need to reign my sweet tooth in a little.

I finally found a recipe on a Yahoo message board that seemed easy enough AND included the awesome tidbit that these were only one point per cookie.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour -- all-purpose
1 cup flour -- whole-grain wheat
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves -- ground
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
15 ounces pumpkin -- canned
1 egg
1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Grease large baking sheet with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
  • Stir flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in large mixing bowl until well combined.
  • Mix pumpkin, egg and syrup in a small bowl.
  • Add to flour mixture and beat until well combined, but do not over mix.
  • Scoop 2 tablespoons dough onto baking sheet.
  • Flatten with moist spatula or fork.
  • Continue with the rest of the dough.
  • Bake 15-17 minutes or until browned.

The recipe makes about 30 cookies. 81 calories per cookie, .3 g of fat, and 1.4 g of fiber.

I doubled the recipe and made one batch with chocolate chips and one with butterscotch chips.

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When scooping the cookies onto the cookie sheet, I found that instead of using a spatula or fork to flatten them it was easier to just use my fingers. The dough is VERY sticky, so you need to dip your fingers into a bowl of water first to squish/shape them. They don't rise much while baking, so the shape they're in on the pan is pretty much how they'll come out of the oven.

The butterscotch ones taste really good, but the consistency of the chips caused problems because they melt quicker than chocolate chips. When I make them again, I'll make them without the chips, then melt the butterscotch chips in the microwave and drizzle over the cooled cookies.

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Since I added chocolate/butterscotch, I counted these as 2 points per cookie. They are a delicious fall/Halloween treat! It would be really fun to make Jack-o-lantern cookies with this recipe, you'd just need some black icing. I think maybe next year I'll do that!

Make sure to head over to the SITS Girls website today to check out tons of creepy, crawly creation ideas!

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October 30, 2010

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Today I'm writing a post as part of the SITS Girls and Shutterfly spectacular Halloween giveaway. It's a weekend of celebrating Halloween and sharing our stories and pictures, as well as earning the chance at winning an amazing DSLR camera!

Halloween is fun. I've always been a fan. I looked recently and found that I really wish I had more photos of my Halloweens as a kid, but I couldn't find many. I did find this one from when Justin and I had been together for maybe a year? It looks like it might be 2000 or 2001.

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I'm the witch and Justin is the one in the wig wearing one of my outfits. The zombie is my friend Brie.

As a kid, I remember dressing as an angel, a black cat, and the last year I went trick or treating I was an Avon lady - I had randomly found a pink polyester suit at Value Village. My sister always had the best costumes. One year she was a box of Kleenex, and my stepdad helped her fold pieces of tissue paper so that they'd pull out like Kleenes do. One year she was a Jack (card), and she drew the card herself. My Mom still has it.

I have to say that having a child makes it SO much more fun. I've never been one to spend a HUGE amount of time on my costumes as an adult - I like dressing up and have fun, but oh my goodness, the cuteness and joy of seeing my children and my best friends' children all dressed up? It's just awesome.

Here are the past few Halloweens in my life:

Sam's first Halloween (with my Mom)

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Sam's second Halloween - I still have this costume and fully plan to put Danny in it next year! I fell in love with it in a shop window.

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Sam's third Halloween

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Last year

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Halloween is also my best friend's favorite holiday ever. She comes up with the best costume ideas - this year her family is doing a garden theme, the kids are being a dung beetle, a butterfly and a ladybug, she's being a flower patch and her husband is being a gnome. I'll try to get a group picture on Sunday. Here are a couple of the past ones:

When her daughter was 1 they did pirates & a parakeet.

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Year before last, they did Mario. Impressive, I think! Especially since she doesn't do store bought costumes, they always make their own.

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Make sure to visit the SITS Girls website today to read more stories about Ghosts of Halloween Past!

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October 27, 2010

Tired of Twilight? You can still join Team Edward or Team Jacob.

So the other night I was sitting on the couch and Sam was playing on PBS kids and he was playing Thomas the Tank Engine Games and there was a guessing game and the answer was Edward. Then I suddenly started thinking about Team Edward, as in Twilight. Team Jacob, Team Edward. I've always been Team Edward myself. But which team should you choose if you're not into Twilight? Well, here are a few ideas.

Do you like books, but are sick of Twilight? How about the Bible?

Team Jacob Bible

Or Grimm's Fairy Tales?

Team Jacob Grimm

Maybe you don't like books at all, but you like TV.

Team Edward James Olmos

Team Miles Edward OBrien

Team Jacob Lost

Team Edward Mars Lost

Or movies.

Team Edward Norton

Team Edward Scissorhands

Are you into the supernatural, but don't like fiction?

Team John Edward

Maybe you say screw all that, you're a serious guy and you'd rather stick with politics and history.

Team Edwards

Team King Edward I

Or maybe you say screw all THAT, and you're only passionate about fashion.

Team Jacobs

Or, maybe like me, you have kids and can't get them out of your head. You might as well just give in.

Team Edward the Engine

Is this only funny to me? Possibly. Which team are YOU on?

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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30 Days of Truth Day 5: Don't call it a bucket list

The prompt for Day 5 of 30 Days of Truth is 'Something you hope to do in life.'

I guess there are two approaches to today's prompt. One is to create a bucket list of sorts. By the way, I hate the term 'bucket list'. It's just irritating. The other is to choose one thing that would fulfill me in some way and write about that.

Inspired by Audrey, Diane, and others, I was actually planning to do a "40 by 40" list of things I wanted to do in the next decade. Of course when I sit down and try to write it, I can never fill the entire list. So, this seems like the perfect opportunity to share what I've come up with so far.
  1. Attend BlogHer (hopefully more than once)
  2. Get & learn to use a DSLR camera
  3. Sell some of my photos
  4. Win a prize for a photo I've taken
  5. Run a 1/2 marathon
  6. Attend Bloggy Bootcamp (hopefully more than once)
  7. Meet Audrey
  8. Meet Kori
  9. Take a week long trip somewhere by myself
  10. Take a week long trip somewhere with Justin
  11. Own a new car that I picked out
  12. Take Spanish classes with Justin
  13. Weigh 160 pounds
  14. Maintain my new weight
  15. Get boudoir photos taken
  16. Re-learn how to play the piano
  17. Learn to make my own bread
  18. Grow my own vegetables
  19. Learn to bake cookies without a recipe
  20. Take another road trip with Justin one summer (sans kiddos)
I also have a short list of things I want to do in life, but that may or may not begin/end in the next 10 years.
  1. Own a horse
  2. Take horseback riding lessons
  3. Get a puppy and train it into a well behaved dog
  4. Bake a perfect souffle
  5. Have a novel published
  6. Travel to Italy with Justin
  7. Travel to London with Justin
  8. Visit Australia
  9. Make a quilt
  10. Visit a volcano & see flowing lava
  11. Take a mother-daughter trip with my Mom & sister abroad
  12. Visit all 50 states
  13. Help my sons study abroad sometime during college
  14. Buy my Mom a star sapphire
  15. Sing a duet with my Mom at my sister's wedding
I'm sure there will be more, part of the fun is adding to the list as you complete things, right? What's one thing you really want to do in the next 10 years? In life?

For the other 29 days, click here.

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October 25, 2010

30 Days of Truth Day 4: All is Forgiven

The writing prompt for Day 4 of 30 Days of Truth is 'Something you have to forgive someone for.'

Forgiveness is a funny thing. A lot of people think that forgiving someone is a gift you give that person. That the reason you forgive someone is to make them feel better. But that is not what forgiveness does.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It allows us to release ourselves from things we are carrying around with us - anger, shame, sadness. It allows us to leave the past behind us, to lighten our load and move on to the future. It can be an amazingly powerful thing, and the best part is that we are taking our power back into ourselves from someone or something that has happened.

I'm lucky. I haven't had a lot of big things in my life that I've had to forgive. There have been small things, but I haven't had to struggle all that much. The biggest happened a couple of years ago, so the rest of this will be a re-post of something I wrote in January of 2009.

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Planting a Seed
Originally published January 9, 2009

Today, I plant a
seed - a new beginning to
nurture and to grow

The journey is not
through, but this leg has to end
it's time to move on

I have no map, and
do not know where the new road
will lead me from here

But I see a light
and I know that it leads to
a better place, love

It came to me on a random afternoon.

Days before, I'd received a reminder of your love.

Weeks before, I'd received a reminder that you were nothing more than a human being.

It came to me so clearly that I immediately recognized it as truth.

I have to forgive you.

You have caused me pain.

You have caused much more pain to others that I love.

I don't agree with your actions, but I can't base our entire relationship around this past.

I wish you had not done some of the things you did.

But they happened. Nothing can be done.

I need to forgive you.

I don't want to spend my time and energy on anger. I don't want to spend my life trying to make sense of this - it doesn't make any sense to me. Your actions don't fit into my patterns of thinking.

I won't defend you.

I won't pretend that the things you have done didn't hurt people.

I won't pretend that it's okay.

But I will move on.

I will move into experiencing the future as something else.

A new relationship will be formed. Ideas and preconceptions thrown out the window will pass by the wayside, and something else will take their place.

I have to forgive you because I don't want you to be alone.

Some loves really ARE unconditional. I accept my love, and realize that I should spend my energy cultivating that.

So, I'm done. I'm not going to be angry anymore. Instead, I will try to be supportive of everyone I love, separate from each other.

I will love everyone for their good qualities, and I will try to help them with the bad, if they want my help.

I will provide support in any way I can, and in the areas I can't, I will wait patiently until my help is wanted or needed. Even if the time never comes.

So, this is it.

I forgive you.

For the other 29 Days, click here.

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October 20, 2010

13 Favorite Picture Books

It's Thursday and I've got a list for you! Sam has been on a reading streak lately. He's long been interested in books and having stories read to him, but the last few days he's been bringing me a lot of books and wanting me to read to him. So, I thought today I'd post a Thursday Thirteen I've been thinking about for a while. Some I had as a child, others I discovered working in the Children's Section at Borders Books, and a few I discovered with Sam. One (Santa Mouse) my mother can still recite from memory. As I put it together, I feel like I've probably left something I love off the list - so instead of calling it definitively my 13 Favorite Kids Books, I'll call it...



13 of My Favorite Kids Books













What are your favorite picture books?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants



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October 19, 2010

30 Days of Truth Day 3: Shame, Regret & Forgiveness

The prompt for Day 3 of 30 Days of Truth is something you have to forgive yourself for.

"There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today."

"Rent" - Jonathan Larson

I really try to live my life without regrets. There are certainly those moments that everyone has - excruciatingly embarrassing or painful moments that I kind of wish had never happened. We all have events in our lives that still make our stomachs turn when we think about them. But none of those moments in my life have been life-changers. They're painful and they sucked, but if they'd been different I don't think it would really have effected the overall course of who I am.

As for the bigger things, I just find it hard to regret them. See, if those things hadn't happened, I wouldn't be who I am today. Maybe that's a cliche, but it's also totally true. The things I've gone through and the decisions I've made have led me to the place I am today, and for the most part that is a wonderful place. I also think that making a choice to spend my time regretting and dwelling on things that I've done in the past that I can't change is a big waste. I have a lot going on right now, and I'd rather concentrate on the things I have and the good things than spend my time on things that are completely out of my control.

I have to admit, I have been thinking about what I'd write for this prompt for over a week. I don't feel that there is much in my life that I've had to forgive myself for, and I guess I'm kind of lucky that way. I hope that this means that I'm doing a good job, and I know that it means that I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing people and a lot of love during my lifetime so far.

There is one thing though. And it's a big one.

I know I wrote about my weight on Day 1, but it's something that is really on the forefront of my mind right now. I'm really struggling. I joined Weight Watchers again about 2 months ago, and for the past month I've been WAY off my game. I've gained back any weight I lost in the first four weeks, and I'm back at 222 lbs as of this morning. I am ashamed. I am angry at myself for being an asshole to myself and not sticking to it. I am a maddening 5 pounds away from having lost 50 pounds. And I'm not even close to being done - my end goal weight is 155, but honestly if I got even down to 180 I'd be ecstatic.

I wish I could adequately describe how much I hate the fact that I'm fat. That I LET myself get so fat. How did I possibly let myself get so close to 300 pounds?! How could I have treated myself so badly that I just ate myself into being completely obese? And how come I am not motivated enough to get back on track now?

The last few days, I've been irritable and lethargic. I can't stand it. I have been eating shit and not exercising and not counting points. I haven't been going to meetings. I was so excited when I was getting back on track with cooking and Weight Watchers, and I've just let it all slide away. I still know it's possible, but I've been taking the easy way.

For me, eating is not just a food issue. It's emotional. It's ingrained. Something in my brain is wired so that I just want to eat all the time. I want to eat sweets and carbs and nachos and pizza and candy. When I'm sad, I want to eat. When I'm happy, I want to celebrate by rewarding myself with food. When I'm stressed, I find comfort in food. I like cheese and sugar and icing and cake and cinnamon buns and bacon.

I know that I've worked hard. I lost almost 50 pounds last year, and it was not easy. I did it on my own - there were no prepackaged meals, no pills, no potions, no gimmicks, no surgery. It was just me. I don't give myself enough credit for it.

That's what I need to forgive. I need to forget about the fact that I got here in the first place, give myself credit for digging partway out of this hole, and get back on track. I need to let it go that I've sucked for the past month and put it behind me and get back on track. It is the difference between health and obesity. It is the difference between being happy and energetic or lethargic and depressed.

It's just so much easier said than done.

For the other 29 days, click here.

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October 16, 2010

Weekly Winners


Weekly Winners is the creation of the beautiful Lotus from i am lotus (aka Sarcastic Mom). It gives us a chance to share our favorite shots of the week every Sunday.

Yellow Beauty

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Soft & Delicate

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Mapping It Out

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Joy

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A Futile Effort

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Ride 'em Cowboy

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Booty Beauty

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Self

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Hand

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Small & Perfect

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Eye see you

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