February 24, 2013

A New Spin on My Favorite Cookie

I love chocolate chip cookies.  One night, after eating dinner in New York City, my mom and I searched for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but had a really hard time finding a place that sold them (I think we were in the wrong neighborhood--I'd still like to know where they make the best chocolate chip cookies in NYC).  The cookie we ended up with was a disappointment.  And isn't that the worst? I hate looking forward to a dessert--something you've saved room and calories for--only to be disappointed.

Anyway, I have never once been disappointed by the chocolate chip cookie recipe I found a few years ago online.  I think the secret is the amount of brown sugar.  Or maybe the egg/egg yolk combo?  Or maybe the vanilla.  But when I was craving these last night, I realized that I didn't have any butter in the house.  
I've been wanting to cook more with coconut oil, so I figured I'd substitute it for the butter.  Butter-less=healthy! :) I also used sea salt instead of regular salt, and doubled the quantity of baking powder for the baking soda (I was out of baking soda).  I've been pretty hooked on rich chocolate chips lately, so I threw those in as well (Ghirardelli 60% cacao is delicious).  

This is a pretty forgiving recipe in the first place, so I'm pretty sure any reasonable substitution could work.  But what I loved about these was the touch of coconut flavor that the oil added, as well as the sea salt, dark chocolate combo.

Butter-Less Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from allrecipes.com


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup coconut oil at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups (or slightly less if using rich chocolate) chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper or a silpat.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and sea salt.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl or stand up mixer, cream together the coconut oil, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended (it may be a bit crumbly).  Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy.  Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand, using a spoon.  

3.  Roll cookie dough by hand into balls so that the crumbles soften together.  Place on prepared cookie sheet.

4.  Bake for 13 to 15 minutes (less if cookies are smaller) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted.  Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

February 22, 2013

Our Pal Silas

Last weekend we spent some time with friends during the annual Hood Canal trip.  It was a small group this year, but we still had a great time.  Silas (the son of our friends, Patrick and Paige) and Miles were the only babies.  It was so fun to watch them begin to notice and interact with each other.  Ok, maybe we forced them to hang out, but that's how friendships are forged, right? ;)
Little Silas is only 3 weeks younger than Miles.  He's beginning to try solid food too, and experimented with carrots and bananas over the weekend.  
Who can resist this little guy's big eyes and long dark eyelashes?  You are such a cutie Si.
On Sunday we brought the boys down to the beach for a mini photo shoot.  They explored the sand and rocks...and that's about it.  It will be fun to see these two grow up, and maybe someday play together or talk sports (like their dads).
Thanks for being our pal, Silas!

February 21, 2013

6 Months

Things are changing around here.  On the evening of Miles's half birthday I noticed two little jagged teeth, breaking through his gums.  This explained the fussy days we'd been having and the faces like these that he'd been making--exploring the new addition to his mouth with his tongue and his lips.  
Our little baby is growing, that's for sure, although he still remains pretty lean (and long).  We're using size 3 diapers, 6-12 or 9 month clothes, and his infant socks no longer fit him. There's a little bit more hair there, but it's very blonde, just like his eyelashes.  I grow more and more in love with his little face every day.  And these little feet.
Miles loves being outside.  He could sit forever on our laps on the porch, watching cars go.  He gets fussy sitting around the house, but hardly ever outside.  Miles loves going on walks and taking trips in the car, something he used to really hate doing.  He is becoming much more observant of his surroundings.
I can't believe I've been a mom for over half a year now.  When I look back on my posts from the first few months of motherhood, I realize that they don't really capture how difficult it was.  Of course I loved our baby from the moment he was here, but it was all such a haze of new learning, sleep deprivation, and figuring out who this new little person was.  I remember feeling relieved when I'd put Miles to sleep for the night--we had made it through another day.  Maybe, just maybe, I'd have a few moments to myself where I wouldn't have to nurse or burp, or soothe a crying baby.  I couldn't identify it then, but I realize now, I felt guilty for feeling this way.  Shouldn't I be in love with being a mother?  Shouldn't I miss him while he's asleep?  Shouldn't life always be like the happy picture of our family that's framed in the dining room? I struggled with feelings of self doubt, frustration, and a bit of resentment--and--looking back, it really distracted me from enjoying my time with my little guy.
Then, I went back to work, and since then, life has gotten crazy in a different way.  Mornings are the busiest, as I run around the house, putting together the diaper bag, milk for the day, pumping supplies, lunches for Steve and me...I get to work, often 20 minutes late, teach, pump, teach, pump, go to meetings and rush home to pick up Miles.  Then, with a cranky baby (by evening, he's pretty tired), I attempt to make dinner, give him a bath (dinner sometimes burns), and put him to bed.  Around this time, Steve usually arrives home and I finish up dinner, we eat, and then I begin an evening routine, which involves prepping meals, lesson planning, pumping and cleaning up the house.  I can't say it's relaxing, but after almost two months of being back at work, I think I'm finally becoming more efficient.  Steve and I often talk about how different evenings are now--if there are spare moments, you take advantage of them by getting something done, and if you don't, that task that you were avoiding may come back to bite you. I had always heard it was true, but now I really know: sitting on the couch and watching a movie is truly a luxury once a baby comes along.
But I have to say, in these past few months, I have noticed many changes in myself and my outlook on this new life.  I've accepted the busyness, and I enjoy the sense of productivity each day.  It's tiring and often stressful (finishing an IEP, five minutes before the meeting, while pumping in the staff bathroom can't be good for one's blood pressure), but it's becoming my own new rhythm.

I don't enjoy being away from my little boy though.  Lately I've been struck by how deeply I love him.  There's a new joy when I'm around him.  Now, I miss him when I put him to sleep, and look forward to playing, walking, and nursing him while he's awake.  Miles is becoming my little sidekick, my little buddy.  I think I'm beginning to realize--truly realize--that I'm his mother forever.
So many things could be responsible for this new outlook.  I'm away during the day, and it's probably natural to miss my time at home with Miles.  He's also growing and changing so much, and becoming more responsive.  But I attribute this shift in my mind and heart to God, and the power of His spirit to change me.  Lately I have been aware of peace in the middle of a busy schedule and joy that is unlike other feelings of happiness I've felt before.  This can only be from God.

There's a song I love that captures this idea that God knows us so well, and desires that we're always changing and growing to better reflect his light.  I heard it the other day and it was a perfect reminder:

As the dew falls on the blade 
You have touched all this fragile frame
And as a mother knows her baby's face
You know me, You know me

Savior, you have known me as I am
Healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be
In the morning, in the evening, You have known me
You know me

And as the exhilaration of autumn's bite
You have brought these tired bones to brilliant life
And as the swallow knows, she knows the sky
This is how it is with You and I
This is how it is with You and I

From the fall of my heart
To the resurrection of my soul
You know me God, and you know my ways
In my rising, in my sitting down
You see me as I am

I love that God has a plan for me--in my job, in my roles as a wife and as a mother.  I love that He has given me eyes to watch my baby grow and to see myself change.  I am thankful that He knows my heart.

February 13, 2013

Be Mine?

Happy Valentine's Day! 
xoxo Miles

February 10, 2013

9 on 10: February

At least 9 photos is better than last month. :)  Happy tenth!