Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reading Lately

After a diet of magazines all winter, I have been very happy to have time to dive into lots of books this summer. Some favorites so far ...

This was a right place, right time kind of read ... a book about visiting old friends for the weekend, brought along when I was going to visit old friends for the weekend. I've been a fan of hers for a long time, coincidentally picking up Confessions of a Shopaholic before my trip to London - another right place, right time situation (and likely the reason I spent way more $$ than anticipated while I was there. I ate more chocolate, too, but blamed that on Harry Potter.)

Great read, great story. Totally reads as a movie. I mentioned to a friend that I was surprised this book wasn't a YA title, and she pointed out that they wouldn't get all the references. Ooops, right. I'm old. Jeff listened to the audiobook (read by Wil Wheaton - perfect), which I'm guessing would be just as entertaining.

This IS a YA title that I would fully expect to start showing up on school curriculums. Fantastic book. I finished it this weekend and Dora picked it right up. Read it with your kids, it's a terrific story. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baking Monday - Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

Because I have an affection for cookies that look like other foods, I picked up this linzer cutter a few years ago, looking forward to making pretzel cookies. Today was the first time breaking it out! I opted for one of my favorite chocolate cookie recipes with chocolate glaze and sugar sprinkles.

Which turned out pretty cute, but since I know from experience that these cookies taste a zillion times better with mint-flavored glaze, I decided to make some of those, too. I wanted to differentiate the plain chocolate from the mint, so that glaze stayed white with chocolate jimmies instead.

Verdict: Yeah, mint is definitely the way to go, but the kids really loved these all around. The cutter looks small, but the dough puffed up to a perfect pretzel-size cookie.

And also? Chocolate cookies are incredibly hard to photograph nicely!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Patchwork Camera Strap

Hey, look! I made a cover for my camera strap!

I had an evening this week with nothing immediately pressing to do and decided to work on something fun. I looked through my sewing folder on Pinterest and picked this project. The tutorial is great - the only thing I did differently was to quilt the batting onto the scrappy piece before sewing it to back piece.

Clark liked the final product except for the two striped blocks ("too boring"), Dora thought the colors were "too brown," and Jeff said "boy, that will really man it up."

But I say - so cute!! I love projects that can be done in one sitting, and I had fun picking out fabric to go together. (And extra love for projects that can be done with materials already on hand, yay!) I also made a couple of key fobs - the green one first because I love that fabric, but then realized that it didn't match my key chain (hah!) so I made another one with the striped pattern.

My keys are always falling to the bottom of bags, so this has really come in handy this week. Would anyone like the other one? Leave a comment if you are interested - it's up for grabs! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baking Monday - Chocolate Crispy Cookies

Why, hello there! I'm back! This summer has been crazy-busy with a capital crazy. The kids have been asking for a pajama movie day at home and today's rain has provided the perfect opportunity. So, now I have an opportunity to get caught up on some things myself ... win/win!

We met friends for a picnic yesterday, and I brought dessert. I went to the Mrs. Fields cookie book and let Theo choose between Sweetie Pies and these Chocolate Crispy cookies.

Instead of using a chocolate bar, I used a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips (about 1.5 cups). I also cut back the butter by 2 tbsp.

This is a great recipe - chewy and crunchy at the same time. They were a big hit with adults and kids. Something a little different than plain ol' cccs*.

* Chocolate chip cookies, of course!

And also this weekend? A baking fail!! Apparently, I'm a little out of practice ... I tried a recipe found online and it was a giant disaster. It did have a few suspicious ingredients and steps, like quite a lot of butter - probably about 1/4 c too much. Also 2 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsp of baking powder (it's usually the other way around), which made for some bizarre bubbling action during baking. (Jeff and I were watching them in the oven and laughing - they looked angry!!!) Chilling the dough may have helped, too.

Okay, full disclosure: I had downed a glass of wine prior to baking, so there may have been some My Drunk Kitchen antics going on, but I'm pretty sure that I followed the recipe correctly. In the end, they still tasted quite good. Clark had a kindergarten playdate on Saturday morning, so I cut them into quarters and brought them along ... the kids seemed to enjoy them!