Sometimes in life one little thing makes a very big difference.
It’s the same with this oatmeal cookie recipe.
It looks like a standard oatmeal cookie recipe. It has oats and butter and sugar and chocolate chips (because an oatmeal cookie with raisins is a poor excuse for an oatmeal cookie).
But then it has something else.
Something that adds a rich, velvety flavor to this cookie that is simply addictive. That is absolutely memorable. That makes it the only oatmeal cookie you will ever need to make.
That something else is one tablespoon of molasses. One little tablespoon that makes a big difference. Buy a jar of molasses. You may think it’s going to gather dust in your pantry and it very well might…until you make these cookies and start craving them every other day.
That jar of molasses will be gone in no time. Promise.
Here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (for your sweet tooth)
1 tbsp chia seeds (for your health)
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
Cream the butter, sugar and molasses together in a stand mixer. Beat until well combined and ‘creamy’.
Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and continue beating until well combined.
Meanwhile whisk the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.
Gradually add the flour mix to the wet mixture, beating just until combined.
Fold in the chocolate chips and chia seeds by hand.
Using a tablespoon scoop out a ball of the dough and drop onto a lightly greased cookie tray. Flatten slightly.
Bake for 13-15 minutes (mine were good at 13) and allow to cool for ten.
Make them again in two days.
*recipe adapted slightly from this one
Earlier this week there was a child abduction attempt in a neighboring city near ours.
It was the kind you have nightmares about – a total stranger, the middle of the day, on the school’s grounds where you think your kids are safe.
Every parent’s worst nightmare.
Thankfully, this little girl fought him off. She kicked and screamed and didn’t stop fighting until some teachers and staff nearby saw what was happening and chased the man.
But he got away.
He’s still out there, in our community. Or one a few miles away. Or maybe yours.
The next morning, an email started circulating on social media and in inboxes across the county. An email from the young girl’s father, detailing exactly what had happened to his daughter, full of details that the media never mentioned, information that could possibly help identify and locate this disturbed man and prevent another tragedy from happening.
That email spread like wildfire.
It felt like everyone I knew in the area – and miles beyond it – was sharing that father’s words. We all imagined for a minute that it was our daughter. Our nightmare.
And we spread it like wildfire.
The next day at pick up, I noticed that the parking lot was exceptionally full. More parents than usual, parking their cars, walking onto campus, standing at those gates to welcome their children into the safety of their waiting arms.
We all felt it in the air. We saw it in each other’s eyes. It was like the day of the Newtown tragedy.
We took note of the few kids who were waiting a few extra minutes on their own. We asked who was picking them up before we walked away. We watched as the principal and the teachers kept a watchful, steady eye over every single moving body.
We spread our emotions like wildfire, in the air.
We will protect each other’s children. We will keep each other safe. We will not let some disturbed individual make this nightmare a reality…for any of us.
We are a band of mothers (and yes, fathers, of course!) in times like these.
I don’t have a ton in common with most of the moms at our school. Our lives are different, our interests vary, our schedules look nothing alike. But this week, these days, we have everything in common. One thing in common. And it’s the most important thing in the world.
We are a band of mothers.
*image above via here
I keep seeing posts about Spring Cleaning all over the place and while I know this annual ritual is a great idea, in theory, I’ve found it’s much easier to maintain a healthy, happy, organized home if you’re “Spring Cleaning” all year long.
Here are some easy ways we keep the clutter and chaos contained every day of the year so when it comes to Spring, all we have to do is bask in its glory:
1) Keep a Goodwill bag in everyone’s closet at all times. I use those free hand-out tote bags you get practically everywhere today and I keep one in everyone’s closet so when I come across something that is too small or hasn’t been worn in months, it goes right into the bag instead of the back of the drawer. Then we donate those goods once per month or so to keep our closets in constant rotation.
2) One in, three out. We’ve had to put a rule in place when it comes to kids’ toys, stuffed animals, even books. For every new one that comes in, we (try to) donate three. It keeps our playroom in check so that we’re not left feeling overwhelmed post-Christmas and birthdays or when those Spring Cleaning stories start popping up. We also have a rule about broken toys. They go as soon as they break. We don’t keep them around in case we can fix them or sew them up or revive them. They go right away. No, this isn’t always an easy conversation to have. But it’s a battle worth picking, in my Type A opinion.
3) Keep cleaning products everywhere. I keep every bathroom in the house stocked with its own set of essential cleaning products (in a caddy for easy access) so I can do a quick wipe-down or dusting whenever I have a free minute (i.e. if the kids are busy in the bath or playing quietly) without having to trek down to the laundry room where we house most of our cleaning supplies (you can use closets for the same purpose). That way surfaces don’t have a chance to pile up dust and dirt and there is never a need for an annual “deep clean” because we do mini cleans all the time.
4) I clean the fridge every Sunday. When I bring home the week’s groceries, I take a minute to assess the fridge and pantry before piling the new stuff in. I throw out old items, check expiration dates, give each shelf a quick wipe down before I load it back up. It’s much easier to take it on one week at a time when the mess is seemingly manageable and gives me an odd sense of satisfaction when it’s clean and newly stocked. I also love to use clear glass containers to store my eggs, fruit, etc. so that it’s visually appealing when I open it (see image above). It inspires me that much more to keep it clean, all year long.
5) Stop clutter at the door. I sort through my mail at the recycling bin and toss out junk before it has even entered the house (my goal is to put a “no flyers” note in our mailbox but I never get around to it and I don’t really want to annoy my lovely mail guy). I don’t let the kids’ art projects from school (lovely as they are) pile up, either. I see it, fawn over it, and often covertly put it in the recycling bin after bed time. Trust me, they rarely even remember it come morning. I don’t keep drawers full of coupons with the hope of using them some day. If I get a really good one, I keep it in my wallet for easy access. No more paper take-out menus allowed, either. We have the internet for that, friends. If you start to filter what comes into your house before it even enters, you’ll be one step ahead of your chaos every day of the year.
In the end, I just truly believe in a clear space and a clear mind…and I always remind myself of that. I have seen firsthand how physical clutter can lead to mental clutter with friends and family members and I keep those examples in the back of my head as a reminder whenever I need a little extra motivation to clear out the cobwebs (physical and metaphorical). I truly believe that too much stuff and/or physical chaos can lead to stress and anxiety and I’d rather we live in a space that is organized, minimal and a blank canvas for our busy lives. Find a process that works for you and brings a sense of peace and ease to your mind every day of the year and you can leave these lovely Spring days to the birds and the bees.
*PS – has anyone read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up yet? Thoughts? Worth the read?
Some blogs you read for inspiration, some you read for fun, some you read for the visuals…you read Natalie’s for her writing.
So when her long-anticipated first book landed in my mailbox last week, I was excited to sit down and dive in.
To dive into her writing. To hear stories I hadn’t heard from her before. To appreciate her candor, her witty way with words, her honest and approachable voice.
And the parts of the book where that writing comes through…those parts are great. Those parts are full of talent and promise and intrigue. Those parts are where she dives deep into her writing and takes her readers along with her, giving them everything they hoped for.
Unfortunately, those parts are too few and far between. The essays are interspersed among “chapters” devoted to mindless things like makeup routines, home decor inspiration, New York City subway elevator systems and the like that a) we’ve seen on her blog and b) belong on a blog.
A blog is where I appreciate that kind of fluff. A book is not.
Especially when the writer behind the blog is so good at…writing.
I wanted to hear more stories and learn more about her background and lose myself in her easy writing style. I wanted to dive in but instead I felt like I was stuck in shallow waters (are you loving these metaphors or what?!?).
But I don’t fault Natalie for any of this so consider this a positive review. In fact, I want you to go out and buy Hey Natalie Jean right now. Support this writer. Boost her numbers and her likes and whatever publishers look for in a successful book these days. Support her writing, her candor and her witty way with words. Because hopefully if we do, they will give her another book deal. And another after that. And another after that.
And she can fill them all with her writing. And we can keep diving in.
*addendum: read this post from Natalie. It kind of sums it up perfectly…as she so often does.
A quick look at some of the things making me happy these days:
Tarte BB primer. I’ve been looking for something that rates low on the Skin Deep scale but high on results and this is it. It’s a creamy, lightweight formula that gives you long-lasting matte-ish coverage and I got the perfect color match thanks to a kind sales associate at Ulta. Now that my new skincare routine is clearing up my skin considerably, this level of coverage is exactly what I need. Enough to even me out, but not so much that it feels heavy and cake-y.
Gold foil pineapple tee. I am loving fun tees for Spring and this one combines two cute trends of the moment: pineapples and gold foil. What’s not to love?? I also just picked up this one, which is particularly fun for a French-speaking girl like me. It’s like my own personal inside joke.
Nuxe multi-purpose dry oil. This multi-purpose oil has been a godsend for my thirsty locks. It’s light and a little goes a long way so just a few drops on my damp hair leaves it looking soft and shiny and healthy. You can use it on skin and face, too, but I’ve been hoarding it for my hair so far. Definitely a multi-purpose must-have.
Have a great Saturday!
*disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links
My daughter suffers from night terrors.
If you are lucky enough to have no idea what a night terror is, it is the very worst version of a nightmare. An episode of fear and in our case, sobbing tears, that is like no other. The sufferer is technically still asleep so there is no recognition in their eyes, no words that can calm their senses, very little you can do but sit there and wait for the storm to pass.
If you are unlucky enough to know them and to have witnessed them in your child’s life, you may know that this post is coming from a place of unconditional love. And exhaustion. And frustration.
But mostly love.
When she started having night terrors at the young age of 15 or 16 months, they were terrifying. I was convinced our darling first born suffered from mental illness. There was nothing rational about it, despite what I read, despite what I was told. Watching her scream hysterically, her eyes in a horrified blank daze, her ears seemingly deaf to my calming voice…even when it escalated into frantic yelling right in her face to try to wake her, to try to break through.
It wasn’t rational. It couldn’t be.
But every doctor we went to told us the same thing: she was perfectly healthy, she would outgrow them, they were more common than we knew, and (in an effort to reassure us) she wouldn’t even remember the episodes.
It was more traumatic for us than for her.
It was true. She would wake up happy, smiling even, no recollection whatsoever of the episodes, the tears, the hysterics.
But we just couldn’t forget.
She started to outgrow them through her toddler and early school years. We would go through a few months here and there where they were consistent and then months at a time when they wouldn’t happen at all. We started to learn the tricks to preventing them (if you want to hear those, email me and I am happy to share) and began to notice the triggers that would bring them on so we could avoid them, when possible.
We crossed our fingers at night for a proper night of rest.
Kai came along and had the odd (very odd) one and we would sit there with our heads in our hands, trying to figure out how most parents have never even heard of these things and we were lucky enough to have two kids go through them.
We crossed our fingers at night more and more.
Now she is almost eight. She still gets the odd night terror. It’s usually associated with a fever or a cold that has her stuffed up. I’ve read it may be related to sleep apnea. To stress. To fatigue. I still read a lot about them, the same posts and studies and stories that I read three years ago and five years ago and seven years ago, always in the middle of the night.
I’m still told it is common. She will outgrow them. She is perfectly healthy.
But last night, when I woke to that familiar muffled crying coming from her room just before midnight and I went in and found her there – the screams much more subdued than they were when she was a toddler, but her eyes just as frightened, just as blank – it felt to me like they were never going to go away.
They were never going to stop.
They were going to traumatize us forever.
But I didn’t have it in me to be frustrated. Exhausted, yes. But not frustrated. I spoke to her calmly, I tried to let it pass, I offered her sips of water and wiped the tears from her cheeks. And when she settled back into sleep, the storm passed, I stumbled back to my room and I cried.
This morning, she woke up but she wasn’t very happy. It’s like half of her knew something was off and the other half didn’t quite know what it was.
“Feeling tired,” she mumbled as I tried to wake her, no happy smile on her face.
“Me too,” I said, a small lump in my throat.
So we are taking a mental health day today. She is going to stay home from school and read and lay on the couch and try to get rid of this little cold. To hopefully bring a little energy back to her body, a little restoration back to her busy mind.
I am going to try to recharge between work obligations. To maybe sneak in a nap.
To remind myself that she is perfectly healthy, she will outgrow them and this is common.
And then tonight, we will cross our fingers for a better night of rest.
*footnote: that image above is NOT from this morning…she was definitely not looking quite that content today.
I believe in balance so for every stressful thought I have about moving, I allow myself an excited thought about decorating the new space.
I didn’t realize I loved interior design until we bought our current (and first) home and I was no longer bound to tenant restrictions after more than a decade of renting. I loved the process of piecing together our home in our style and almost four years after moving in, I still adore the look and vibe we created.
But now, of course, I want a change.
While our current home is a sea of blues and greys and dark wood, I want the new one to be more white-washed, natural and earthy. It’s still going to have a grey influence because apparently that’s what we gravitate towards, but it will be anchored with green plants, natural tones and brass accents.
Here are some of the Pinterest finds that are inspiring the new design…you can follow our “New House” board here for more.
(above) We love this black fireplace SO much. We will see if we have the guts to go through with it in the end, but for now it’s very high on my eye candy list.
Our new kitchen has a very similar structure to this one and we are going for a lot of the same style elements. Yes, some of them have become predictable by now: marble countertops, white cabinetry, subway tile backsplash…but I am confident we will find a way to put our own stamp on it, nonetheless.
I am dreaming of a row of these planters in the backyard filled with lemon trees.
We are opting for lots of brass and gold accents wherever we can to bring a warmer element to the space. It’s going to have a lot of white and natural light and we want to temper that with a golden glow.
Finally, because it’s Southern California and in Southern California your outdoor space is as important as your indoor space, a dreamy little patio dining set up. Loving the wire chairs with the big rustic table for a mix of modern and memorable.
My sister has been a lot of things to me in life.
A friend, a leader, a confidante. A mirror, a look into the future, a barometer of so many things.
But beyond what she has accomplished in her career, with her friendships and in her daily life, what has inspired me the most is her dreams.
She has them. She loses them on occasion. And then she gets back up and finds new ones.
And most importantly, she goes after them. Each and every one.
Her dream right now is to publish her first photography book. She has been a photographer most of her life, she has made two films, she has launched a successful business, she has helped dozens of people bring their dreams to life.
And now she is doing the same for herself.
She shot a series of breathtaking photos in Death Valley last year on a long weekend journey with my father at her side. The trip was an important one for both of them, I believe. They wandered the desert, side by side, probably mostly in silence knowing my dad. But the photos and the memories capture what was beyond the silence.
The book is being funded via KickStarter and more details are available here, should you be interested in taking a look.
But beyond that, I wanted to say this:
Find your dream. If you lose it, find another one. Maybe even another one after that.
And then go after each and every one.
Happy Monday. xx
*image above: Death Valley by Andi State
If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember me spending a petite fortune on a brand new French skincare regime some time around the holidays.
Well, apparently French women don’t have everything figured out.
My face promptly freaked out. The harsh fragrance was practically assaulting my senses. And just like that, beaucoup de hard-earned money promptly went into the trash.
My skin needed some serious TLC – a combination of hormones, aging, and lack of good, healthy care – and I realized I was spending more on make up to cover up my lackluster and problematic skin instead of fixing the root of the problem.
I am 36, friends.
It’s not the stage in life for quick fixes. It’s the stage in life to get to the root of your problems and figure them out once and for all.
So I have started on a proper monthly facial regime. It may feel a little luxurious, but these visits aren’t for the spa environment, steam room or complimentary chia seed cookies (though those are lovely)…it’s for the health of my skin, my self-esteem and my long-term physical well-being.
On my first visit, the aesthetician basically said, you don’t have to do what I recommend, but you need to stop what you are doing.
She recommended getting back on the Clarisonic bandwagon religiously. I protested that it broke me out but she assured me you need to fight through that stage to reap the real benefits. She recommended trying pre-natal vitamins for a little while. And finally, and most importantly, she recommended Eminence.
Eminence is a line of all-organic, natural products that was originally developed in Hungary decades ago and now operates its North American business from Vancouver, Canada. I have heard mumbles about it in the past but it wasn’t until trying it firsthand that I really understood the cult adoration.
The line works. It has already brought about much-needed change to my skin in just a little over a month and I can not only feel good about the results, but the ingredients I am putting on my skin.
Here are the must-haves that are working for me:
Starter kit – the facialist recommended I start with this clear skin starter set to test out the products and get a sense before committing to the full regime. In just a month of changing up my routine, I have already seen marked improvement. The kit includes the Probiotic Cleanser and Probiotic Moisturizer, which I have been using twice per day (with the Clarisonic). It also came with the Probiotic Masque, which I have been using 1-2 times per week and also for spot treatments, as needed. Finally, it came with a Willow Bark Booster Serum that I was using religiously for the first few weeks. Now that my skin has settled down a bit, she recommends I save this for only 1-2 times per week moving forward.
My next issue beyond breakouts is hydration. And apparently hydrating and moisturizing are two different things. So while the Probiotic Moisturizer was doing its thing, my cheeks were still in need of some extra hydration. So we’ve introduced the Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum (to be used daily) and the Pumpkin Latte Hydration Masque (1-2 times per week). Both smell incredible and feel like a real treat for my tired skin. I have just started on these two so can’t report the longer term effects but it’s love at first sight for now.
Finally, I just ordered the Yam and Pumpkin Peel. This is the one thing I have yet to actually try, but my friend Rachel raved about it ages ago and Rachel has pretty amazing skin, so that’s enough of an endorsement for me. I will be sure to report back on my own results.
So what’s my point, you ask? Well, I have found a healthy, new skincare line that I love so naturally I wanted to share that. But more importantly, I want to encourage you to do the same. With skincare, with an exercise regime, with your hair and your vitamins and your weight. We are entering a new phase of life – aging and hormones and change – and with it should come new routines, new must-haves, new priorities. Invest a little time, energy and whatever resources you can into finding the products and regimes and favorites that make you feel good from the inside out and back again.
It’s not selfish. It’s not a luxury. It’s a must, my friends.
Have a great day. xx
PS – I have bought most of my products on DermStore.com (one of the few authorized Eminence retailers online) and find they have great discounts for first-time shoppers, Facebook fans, free shipping, etc. so take a peek.
*this post contains affiliate links but is not sponsored; I truly adore this line, bought the products on my own and am more than happy to recommend