What foods these morsels be: Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

After almost a week of potty training Hayleigh and working on a research paper, I was really feeling the need for some chocolate. Since it was my turn to bring snack to our church small group, I decided to take to opportunity to try out this seriously decadent, craving buster of a recipe, which I have been drooling over, planning on making since I stumbled upon it. I found it on the website Very Culinary. Before I give you the recipe, I have to recommend, as she does on her website, to take these somewhere OUT of your house after making them. They are serious business. I should know because I couldn't wait more than 5 minutes after they were out of the oven to inhale sample one. I mean I had to make sure they tasted good before bringing them to small group right? I was just  looking out for everyone else's interests. Here is the recipe so you too can indulge in these treats after a hard week.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 24 gigantic cookies
Prep: 25 minutes
Bake : 13 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package Double Stuff Oreos


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together with mixer. Add eggs and vanilla.

In medium bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.

With cookie scoop, form balls with the dough.

Place one ball on top of oreo and one ball on the bottom. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until oreo is fully enclosed with dough. (It was all I could do not to pop one of these bad boys in my mouth raw.)

Place onto parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheets and bake cookies for approximately 13 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

I got just shy of two dozen, and no it was not because I sampled the batter. I showed, for me, great self-control. It also took mine closer to 15 minutes to bake. Obviously I must have made them a tad big. Blame it on the chocolate cravings. I do promise though, since I am writing this before small group, that all of the cookies (minus my "test run") will make it there tonight to leave chocolaty goodness all over their unsuspecting victims' faces. Yum.

Beating the Heat with Cuteness (and a couple pools)

This past week was a scorcher! Thank goodness my in-laws had an old air conditioner window unit lying around. We snatched that up and it made our lives a lot more pleasant. Peter and I tend to be grumpy when we are hot (or hungry, or tired) so the air may have saved us some couples' therapy. We also got Hayleigh a little kiddie pool for the back yard. My parents live two minutes away and have an amazing deck and inground pool, but we needed something for our house during the day. In the evenings we took full advantage of my parent's pool. The kids loved it! Hayleigh tends to be a little wary and sometimes we have to lovingly force things on her, for her own good. This includes getting past the fear of merry-go-rounds, amusement park rides and also the pool. Once she gets on a ride or in the pool she never looks back and has lots of fun.This past week she finally got over her fear of jumping in the pool. She was "1, 2, 3 jumping!" so many times our arms got tired from hoisting her back up to the side to jump again. She also practiced swimming (kicking, paddling and drinking about a gallon of water and maybe a few floating leaves).

Braxton is already showing how different he is from his sister. He loves the water, no hesitation, no tears! In fact he had us all laughing because when you hold his hands he puts his feet up, reclines and does a back float all on his own. He was so chill. It was hysterical!  

In more efforts to beat the heat, Hayleigh and I made popsicles. I cut up various fruits and then filled paper cups with apple juice, since it is somewhat transparent. She put the fruit in. When they were done we tore the cups off and had a pretty and yummy treat. I did not take any pictures of the result, which I regret. But Hayleigh loved making and eating them.

This weekend my big boy also turned 5 months old! He is such a blessing and joy in our lives. It is so fun to watch his little personality emerging more and more. He is incredibly happy, interactive and lovey. He has already started grabbing my face with both hands and sucking smooching on my lips. I love every slobbery second of it!

If it is going to be almost 100 degrees at least I have these cute people to sweat it out with!

Craft-ease: Lamp Re-vamp

 We basically live in a Urban/Suburban Jungle of sorts. The road we live on is pretty busy. (I still stick to the criteria I used as a child: if there are double solid lines on your road, it is busy.) Our backyard is pretty secluded though. We are surrounded my trees on all sides making our neighbor's houses barely visible. There is also a large nut bearing tree in the front yard which provides lots of shade but also blocks the light from entering our living room. ( We think it may be hazelnut, but aren't sure. It is often the topic of conversation among guests some of whom have gone great lengths to try to pinpoint exactly what kind of tree it is. All I know is the nuts falling off have ruined the hood of our car.) Why am I rambling about foliage? Well, all the greenery makes our house, especially our living room very dimly lit. The floor lamp and table lamp we had were not cutting it. We needed another one. I refused to spend retail price for a lamp. I have had this antique one that belonged to my grandparents since we have been married.
My dad gave it to us and we have had it in our bedroom, not getting a ton of use. I have always liked the shape of it, but it was kind of shabby for our living room and did not match our decor. I toyed around with the idea of buying a more contemporary shade and covering it with fun fabric and then spray painting the base white. But then I thought of using some of my fabric flowers for the shade and spraying the base a fun color, and that is just what I did, obviously! I searched for some inspiration online and then combined some various ideas.

 I made rosettes out of some grey fabric I already had and also purchased a bit of burlap for other rosettes. I like the texture it added and think it is well worth the numerous fingertip burns from the hot glue. The yellow flowers I made using this tutorial. My lamp shade is pretty big so I ended up using 19 flowers to get the look I wanted. After I made them I adhered them using tape as I played around with different arrangements until I was happy with how it looked.

I originally wanted to do a green color instead of yellow, but since I already had yellow spray paint I stuck with that, in the name of saving money. The whole project cost me about $5 for fabric. Everything else I already had.  As far as time, it took me about one nap plus an episode of Sesame Street to finish, (so about 2.5-3 hours.) I must admit I am pretty happy with the outcome!

Linking up at Not So Simple Housewife , Today's Creative Blog , A Diamond in the Stuff , Homemaker on a Dime, I HeartNaptime, Tatertots and Jello and Thrifty Decorating.

The ride comes back around

This past weekend we went to Darien Lake Amusement Park for Peter's company picnic. The whole day: rides, parking, lunch, snacks, drinks, cost us a grand total of $10! Not only was it a fun time spent as an extended family, (my parents went too since my dad also works for the same company), but it was a bit of a sentimental and ironic reminder of God's provision. Let me explain.
A year ago Peter and I were going through one of the most challenging times in our lives, and certainly in our marriage. The job Peter was working at was just not cutting it so he was working a second job a few nights a week to make ends meet, barely. Allow me to just take a moment to brag about my husband. He is honestly one of the most sacrificial, selfless, caring and hard working people I know. When we were in our teens and our relationship was a few years in I told him I had always felt that all I wanted to do was be a stay at home mom. He promised me that he would make that happen.When we got married young and neither of us had a college degree, I  resigned myself as best I could to the fact that this would most likely not be a reality for me, since I expected us to need two incomes. When we found out that (surprise!) we were pregnant with Hayleigh just eight months later, I was heartbroken at the thought of having to work making barely enough to justify paying someone else to watch my baby. Peter, however, took it all in stride. He promised me that he would do whatever it took to give me the gift of being home with our children. It has not always been easy, or without sacrifices, but he has been true to his word. I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who was sensitive to the desire of my heart and willing to sacrifice of himself to make that happen for me and our family. So, for a while this meant working two jobs, neither of which he enjoyed.
We had prayed since before we were married for a "break", a job that would give good pay and the ability to work for a stable company with room to move up. Last summer Peter applied for a sales job at the company where my dad worked. We thought he would be perfect for the position! After an encouraging interview we felt as if everything was lining up and God was handing this to us on a platter. Little did we know that we would spend the next six months riding the Waiting Rollercoaster.
Peter was all but told he had the job last August while we were on vacation, but he was never given a start date. We tried to be patient, but we had so much riding on this job. It would mean that he could quit his night job and still make significantly more money than the two jobs combined. It was not all about the money though. This is a well known company that treats their employees very well and the advancement possibilities were promising, not to mention he was excited about actually enjoying his work and using his talents. Needless to say we were eager. As time passed, phone calls were not returned and previous information that he had been given was retracted, we grew discouraged and confused.
This was definitely a testing of our faith. Everyday we wondered whether or not he would get a call with news that he was officially hired and had a start date. It was hard not to be consumed by it, because of what it meant for our family's future, especially since I was pregnant with Braxton. We were both forced during this time to cling to God. The alternative was to crumble to pieces. We knew nothing, except the fact that God knew what was going on in that office and that He has promised to bring about what is best for us (Romans 8:28). Every phone call that either was not returned or was returned with vague answers just kept us on the hook, while simultaneously punching us in the gut. They even brought him in for a second set of interviews months later and put us through the waiting game all over again. We learned during these months to trust God in deeper and more practical ways. We did not know where money was going to come from to pay bills and prepare for a second child, but God always provided. And eventually when Peter got the call that he was in fact hired it was truly surreal. The first thing we did was thank God, okay maybe we screamed and jumped up and down first. My dad jokes that he could hear me yell all the way from their house. Peter started work on Jan 2nd, over six months after his initial promise of the job.
And here we were almost seven months later at an amusement park with this company. The roller coasters we rode on were a subtle reminder to me of what we went through during that time, the ups and downs in our emotions, our expectations, and our faith. (These rides were much more fun, and much shorter though!) I believe God is a God with a sense of humor and also a God of symbolism. Neither of these were lost on me as I reflected on those long months from the top of "The Mind Eraser" this past weekend.
I am so blessed to have my perfect partner to go through life with. Whenever I need a physical reminder of who God is, I look at my caring and faithful husband. I would not want to endure the roller coasters of life with anyone else. (Actual roller coasters are another story; he screams like a girl.) I am also abundantly blessed to have a God who puts me through trials that help me grow stronger, yet never forces me to go through them alone. While I prefer the rides at an amusement park to the roller coasters in life, I can honestly say as it says in James 1:2-4 that I consider it a joy to watch my God work in my life and mold me more into the person He wants me to be. It has taken me a number of such roller coasters to come to that point, but God knew just what I needed to get there. For that, and for the fact that God is a God who appreciates irony, I am grateful.

What Foods these Morsels be: Cheesy Artichoke Dip

I have been a fan of Artichoke Dip for a while, but have never attempted to make it before now. I made this for a friend's baby shower. In keeping with the purpose of the "morsels" posts (being to better serve my family through trying new recipes), I made enough so I could take some to a picnic we were going to with friends later as well. I got a recipe from Picky Cook and I was pleased with the result. It was not dry at all and was even tasty cold at the picnic.

Cheesy Baked Artichoke Dip
Yield: Makes about 2 2/3 cups

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

pinch of salt

2 14-ounce can artichoke hearts packed in water, well drained, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
 (I doubled the recipe and only used 3 cans so it would be a little less artichoke-intense.)
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup Italian cheese blend

French-bread baguette slices, toasted

Whisk 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, pepper, onion salt, and garlic powder in medium bowl to blend. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts. Transfer mixture to 3-cup ramekin .Sprinkle dip with remaining 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese Italian cheese and paprika. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake dip until heated through, about 25 minutes  (It took mine about 35 minutes doubled.) Serve warm with toasted baguette slices.

This can also be made up to a day before and chilled before baking.

Here is Peter in a very candid shot sampling the results! :)

Craft-ease: Yarn Wreath

Although I am not an expert crafter by any means I do enjoy creating things. Since finding the website pinterest my mind has been spinning with inspiration and ideas for things that I cannot wait to try. I have found that the main reason why I do not create more (other than lack of time) is my own fear. I fear that something I make will be a flop, won't look at all the way I envisioned it, that I will start it and never finish it, etc. The truth is when I am able to get past my fear of failure and my self-criticism I really do enjoy creating things. It is therapeutic for me. That is why I am going to start a new "post theme": Craft-Ease. I am hoping that it inspires me and holds me accountable to continue creating things despite my fears of imperfection. And since this blog is my creative outlet, what better place to document my attempts and adventures?
My rules for my new theme are that first and foremost I pick something I will enjoy creating, whether it be for me and my home or as a gift for someone else. It has to be fun. Also, budget is always an issue for me so the craft has to be frugal. Since I am a stay at home mom, babysit part time and take classes online I don't have a ton of time for creating. I do not want this to stop me though so the crafts have to be relatively simple and fast (as in can be completed in a few nap times). Last but not least I vow to try to see the beauty in my craft's imperfections, so for the sake of alliteration, the crafts will be fabulous.
So for my first "Craft-ease" post here is a Yarn Wreath that I made for our living room. I was inspired by one I saw for sale on Etsy.

I originally planned on hanging it on our front door, but it did not fit very well between the door and the screen. Oh well. At least I made it in colors that match our living room which I recently "re-did" (as much as you really can in a rental house.)
I started with a straw wreath form. I left the plastic wrap on so that the straw didn't cause me issues peeking through the yarn. The process of yarn wrapping was easy but a little more tedious than I thought, especially wrapping the "G" (which is just a cardboard letter from Joann's). I then glued on felt and fabric flowers that I made. The felt rosette tutorial is here and the Yo-yo flower tutorial I used is here. I also glued on a couple fun buttons from Hobby Lobby and an embroidery hoop with some leftover fabric. Here it is in our living room.

Also hanging up is some wall art I made a couple of months ago. I used an old frame that I had hanging in our bedroom and covered the existing art with fabric. Then I made a "key to my heart" shape out of old buttons, scrapbooking embellishments, and odds and ends from around the house which I spray-painted white.

I am pretty happy with how our living room is looking, and for my first yarn wreath I am also relatively happy with how this first "Craft-ease" creation turned out, not perfect, but that is okay!

Cameras, Mental pictures and the Pace of life

I came across this on pinterest today. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to take pictures, some may say too many pictures (my husband as I make him pose until I get just the one I want, friends who see me upload dozens to facebook). It is true, I love to take pictures. I love to share pictures. I love to scrapbook pictures. I love to just sit and look at pictures. I think perhaps one of the main reasons for my passion (obsession) is just what this quotation says, pictures stay the same when the people are changing.

I have spent most of my life wishing time away, trying to get to the next grade in school, the next weekend, the next season, the next stage of my life. My mom always told me this was true of me, but I did not know how to stop myself. I attribute my discontentment to a combination of not choosing to be happy in my circumstances and also that my passion, life calling and desire of my heart was having a family of my own, which I did not have at the time. I felt an aching need to be a wife and a mommy. This was something that not many of my peers could relate to since they were enjoying being in elementary school (yes my desire started that young) and high school.

Anyway, it was sadly normal for me to be looking ahead, wishing my life away. It became something I was accustomed to, perhaps even at times blind to. It was so normal that I did not really have enough perspective to really recognize this tendency until it was gone. As soon as my daughter Hayleigh was born, all desires to speed life up vanished and were instantly replaced with a urge to pause my life right where it was. For the first time I could remember the aching inside of me was gone, replaced with deep contentment and fulfillment. God had given me the desire of my heart. I knew what it meant to say "my cup runneth over". I think our natural tendency in times like that is to want to stay right there in that moment or stage of life and never leave the feel good, sun-shiney-ness.

If I did not know already that this was not possible, I learned quickly. Everyone says to you that life goes by quicker when you have a kid, (you know the phrase: "in the blink of an eye"). Well as any new parent I experienced this first hand. It seemed that yet again I was not happy with the pace of life. I knew there was no use dwelling on this reality so I purposed to learn to be happy living in the moment I was in. I think a big part of that for me is taking pictures. I don't just take pictures with my camera, I also take mental pictures. When I find myself in a moment that I wish would last forever and I start mourning its passing before the time has even come, I relish the moment by capturing it in my mind. These times usually come when I am cuddling, playing or laughing with my babies. So instead of crying over the fact that all these moments are fleeting, I store the memories, either on film or in my head, and shed a happy tear later in recollection. I do this because as the quotation above says, people change all too fast, especially our little ones. This is my way of savoring the moments that give me a lump in my throat as I am overcome by joy and marvel at the Desires of my heart, living and breathing in front of me. It is my way of processing it all. And its my way of learning, albeit clumsily, to live in the moment.

Happy 4th of July!

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Americana Belt

Lately I have been bitten by the fabric flower bug. Honestly, they are so easy and fun to make. In honor of the upcoming holiday, and because my wardrobe lacks red clothing, I made this belt. I liked it so much I made a similar headband for Hayleigh. There are tutorials all over the internet, but for the center flower I used this one from House of Smiths. For the rosettes I used this one from Little Birdie Secrets. I can't wait to wear it this weekend!

What Foods these Morsels be: Grilled Chicken and Fruit Salsa

I have been in a rut. As lovely a connotation as the word "rut" has, it is not a nice place to be. The rut I have been in pertains to my cooking (or lack there-of). This rut (okay I am done using this word now) is why I have started this blog "theme". I am pledging to try new recipes in an attempt to mix it up and better serve my family. Whenever I write a "What food these morsels be" post it means I tried a new recipe whether it be a main course, side dish, dessert or appetizer. The only stipulations I am putting on myself is that it be new and it be served at something where my family or at least Peter is present.

Last night I made this DELICIOUS Grilled Chicken with a Fruit Salsa. I got the recipe from Cooking Light. Honestly, this was one of the most flavorful meals I have ever made. It will definitely be a summer favorite for us. So, without further a-do here is the first installment of such posts.



1/2 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

1/2 cup low sodium soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon ginger

1 Tablespoon lemon pepper (I did not have any of this so I improvised and used crushed pepper and some orange peel.)

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 (60z) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


1 1/2 cups cubed pineapple

3/4 cup peeled, cubed kiwifruit (about 3 Kiwis)

3/4 cup chopped orange sections

1/2 cup peeled, chopped mango

1/2 cup red onion

2 Tablespoons cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon crushed black pepper

1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped


Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Marinate chicken in large ziplock bag in refrigerator 1 hour, turning once.
Prepare and combine all ingredients for salsa. Toss.

Grill chicken. Top with salsa and enjoy!

I have another recipe for fruit salsa which I serve with Cinnamon tortilla chips, but this one complimented the chicken perfectly. My only alterations for next time are that I would make it with a bit less pineapple and maybe a bit more jalapeno. We like food with a bit of a kick. All in all this recipe was refreshing, delicious and pretty simple. It was especially great when enjoyed on my parent's deck. Oh, and I appoligize for the photo. I am not good at taking pictures of food and my only camera is a 6 year old Point and Shoot. Hopefully you get the idea.

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