Thursday, June 30, 2011


Do you ever just wake up and think, "Today is going to be a great day..."? Hopefully that happens more often than not, but today was one of those days where I just woke up and was overwhelmed with that thought... My cousin Dana stopped by to say hey on her way out of town, I wore a dress to work (and let's be real, everyone always feels better about themselves when they wear a dress, well, at least the female population, ok, maybe not even the whole female population, but I do...), I listened to some good music on the way to work (I've had the album for months and I still can't get enough of Andrew Belle), the sun is out, a three day weekend is approaching... Life is good.

I've been in a funk the last couple weeks, maybe even months. I think the fog is finally clearing, God is teaching me things, and I'm finally getting my head back on straight. It's funny how you are oblivious to the little things when you are in a funk, but once it's gone, they all pop out of nowhere! Today's little thing that I've noticed that I love is: pennants. (What? Did she say pennants?) Yes, pennants. I'm loving their use in decorating these days. Ok, maybe they're not that popular to everyone, but I like them... So, Happy Thursday! And Happy "Hey, pennants are cool!" day! Here are some pictures to convince you of their coolness... (The above picture is an abstract pennant picture from Etsy.)

Here's a picture from a wedding featured in Design*Sponge. There were lots of pretty uses of pennants in weddings on Style Me Pretty but their pictures don't transfer onto my blog quite as well.
This artist from Etsy painted these. I may or may not have copied her idea to paint something... More to come on that soon.
This before and after from Design*Sponge incorporated pennants and I liked it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Best. Cookies. Ever.

Last week I blogged about the Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies from Betty Crocker. The brownies that I consider to be the best brownies ever. Well, today I baked a new cookie recipe and I am very happy to say that they may be the best cookies ever. Well... at least in my book... as of today. I was inspired by Annie's Eats: she blogged this week about some Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies and right when I read the title I thought, "That sounds amaaaaazing." I took a look at the recipe and it had two things I had a problem with: 1. Coconut (Gross. End of story.), 2. Toffee bits (Who keeps those on hand? No one...) I was just going to take those ingredients out and triple the amount of butterscotch chips, but thought it may be a better idea to see if there's a better oatmeal cookie recipe out there...

So what did I do? I googled: "soft oatmeal cookie recipe," and found a certain recipe referenced in a couple different places so I figured it'd have to be a good one. Upon looking at the ingredients of this recipe, there were a couple of things that impressed me: lots of brown sugar, lots of cinnamon, and lots of normal ingredients for the rest. (I strongly dislike recipes that make you buy things that you don't normally have in your pantry.) So, I tried it, added a full bag of butterscotch chips, and some of the best cookies ever were born. Now I can't take credit. It was Annie's idea, and this person's (whoever they are) recipe... Here's the recipe in my words.

Note: One of my pet peeves is when I start making a cookie recipe, am ready to scoop out the dough and put it in the oven then BAM! the recipe says you have to chill the dough for an hour. I think every recipe should have a disclaimer right up front saying, "Hey! This is going to take more time than you think it is! Plan accordingly!" So here's your note: This cookie dough needs to chill for an hour. Plan accordingly!
Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

-1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (that's 2 sticks)
-1 cup white sugar
-1 cup brown sugar, packed
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
-3 cups quick cooking oats
-1 bag butterscotch chips (I think it's approximately 2 cups)

-In the bowl of a mixer (if you're blessed like me you've got a Kitchenaid!) on medium speed, cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time then add the vanilla.

-In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. My favorite kitchen utensil in the whisk so I whisk mine together but any mixing utensil will do. Gradually add the dry ingredient to the creamed mixture. Once thoroughly combined, add the oats, then stir in the butterscotch chips by hand. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, you've got to chill it in the fridge for an hour. (Don't say I didn't warn you...)

-After that excrutiatingly long hour has passed, turn your oven on to 375 degrees. Form your delicious dough into delicious dough balls and bake on an un-greased (although I do like to use parchment paper, it makes for an easy clean up) cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and your house will be filled with the scent of amazingness and your tummy will be filled with the most delicious cookies in the world. (No exaggeration there.) Hope you enjoy!

P.S. I know that my photography sucks. I've even been trying to experiment more with my camera, but it still sucks. Don't let the lame picture deter you. These cookies are amazing. I plan on buying this book to help my lack of photography skills.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reality TV.

I'm a sucker for reality TV. I think I used to be in denial and say that I didn't really like it, but when you look at all of the shows that I DVR, 95% of them are in the reality television category. (Ok, not really 95%, I made that statistic up, because I share a DVR with 3 other people and only record two shows, so I guess you could say 50%. Anyway...) I think I like that it's real people, well, more real than an actual written character. I like the way the shows are shot different than a normal TV. And I like how the bulk of reality TV (well, at least the reality TV that I watch) is showcasing some kind of skill.

What reality TV shows do I enjoy, you ask? Well, I bet you didn't really ask but I'll tell you anyway...

-So You Think You Can Dance (currently watching)
-The Next Food Network Star (currently watching)
-American Idol
-Top Chef (and Top Chef: Just Desserts)
-Project Runway
-Ace of Cakes
-America's Next Top Model (don't really watch that anymore, but I'm not going to lie that when I see a marathon on, I may or may not flip to the channel...)

Anyway, just thought I'd give a shout out to one of my guilty pleasures: reality TV. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Signs of Summer.

The other night I was driving around and was overwhelmed with how lovely and summer-like it felt. I don't know if you knew this about me, but I love driving with the windows down (kidding, kidding; I'm confident that you already knew that about me...) but in addition to the splendor of the windows down drive, there were some other things that were perfectly summer-like...

1. Cicadas. Half of the state of Missouri has been taken over by cicadas, but thankfully I am not currently residing in that half of the state. I just get to enjoy the sound of them and am instantly taken back to childhood summers as I hear them sing. (P.S. Apparently an ice cream shop where I went to college was selling cicada flavored ice cream! It was big news...)

2. Golden oldies. So I know oldies music has nothing to do with the summer, but for some reason listening to it makes me feel overwhelmed with a sense of ... "summer"? Sadly, the oldies station in town plays primarily 70s and 80s music these days, but on Sunday nights they play the golden oldies, more 50s and 60s (I think...) and it's awesome! The other night I heard some good ones like Duke of Earl and The Birds and The Bees. It was so great...

3. Baseball. I drove by the old baseball stadium that my brothers used to play at when we were little. I miss going to little league baseball games. But it seems like the Kansas City Royals are on our TV more nights than not, so I get my fill of the game.

4. Humidity. Nope, I don't love the humidity, but there is something about the hot, sweaty, I-can-feel-my-hair-getting-curlier-as-we-speak feeling that is purely summer. Oh midwest humidity, what a love-hate relationship we have...

5. Lightning bugs. What is it about lightning bugs that makes them not scary like the rest of their bug friends. Lightning bugs and rollie pollies must have gotten on God's good side because for some reason we aren't inclined to kill them like the rest of the bug nation. I love lightning bugs. Sometimes when I see them I have to resist the urge of grab a mason jar and catch some to keep in my room.

Happy first day of summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best. Brownies. Ever.

Holy cow! It's almost been two weeks since I last blogged! Where has the time gone...

I think I have made up my mind on the best brownie recipe ever. I've made it time and time again and every time, I think, "Dang these are good!" I can't take credit, none at all, but I can pass it on so that you can enjoy it as much as I do. They're crazy easy, pretty inexpensive to make, and stinkin' delicious. Here they are: Betty Crocker's Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies (with my math skills to one-and-a-half the recipe because it was originally for a 9-inch cake pan and seriously, who makes a 9-inch cake pan batch of brownies? No one. We all want the 9x13. Am I right or am I right? )

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

-1 box family size brownie mix (any mix will do, and make sure it's family size, none of that 9-inch crap)
-Water, vegetable oil, and eggs that the box mix calls for

Chocolate Topping
-1 cup chocolate chips
-1/4 cup butter, in cubes (that's a half stick in case you don't want to do the math)

Peanut Butter Filling
-3/4 cup butter, room temperature (that's one and a half sticks...)
-3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I have people in my life who would argue and say Peter Pan is the best, but there is no need to use the name brand stuff, off-brand will taste just splendid)
-3 cups powdered sugar
-2 tablespoons milk

-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9x13 cake pan with cooking spray. Make brownies according the the directions on the box. Make sure brownies are cooled completely.

-In a microwave safe bowl, microwave topping ingredients for 1 minute, stir, then microwave for another minute or until smooth. Let the topping cool for 10 minutes, so you might as well be efficient and make the filling in the meantime. Combine the butter and peanut butter in a mixer and beat until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and milk, alternating the two until fully combined and delightfully smooth. Spread the filling evenly over the brownies and then spread the topping over that (it should be done "sitting" by now). Refrigerate the brownies to help the chocolate set. I store mine in the fridge, and if you decide to, too, you will probably want to set them out about 30 minutes before serving so the chocolate doesn't require a chain saw to cut through. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe makes a lot of peanut butter filling. Not all is necessary for the brownies, and I'm not going to lie that I keep a little out and use any leftover chocolate to make perfect spoonfuls of peanut butter/chocolaty amazingness. You should do it, too. You'll thank me later.

OH! And happy father's day to my special Daddy. It was his request that I make these brownies today. He knows what he's doing with those baked goods... and many other things. He's one of the coolest men I know...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


(Lane County, Kansas by Joel Thomason)
Something that has kept me smiling all week? My brother Joel's pictures that he's been taking while biking across Kansas. I know when a lot of you think about biking across the state of Kansas things like tarantulas, and nails scraping against a chalk board (ugh, that gives me shivers just thinking about it), and waterboarding come to mind. But to my family and myself (and whole bunch of other people because quite a few come out to do it every year) it sounds splendid.

My uncle Dave has participated in the Biking Across Kansas event the past few years and this year my brother Joel decided to join him. Joel's pictures taken from his iPhone are quite great. I've been looking forward to his tweets and the photos of the seemingly normal yet beautiful portraits of Kansas life that he's being taking as he travels across the great state. Here are a few of my favorites so far:
(McPherson, Kansas by Joel)
(The Colorado Border by Joel)
(Cotton Wood Falls, Kansas by Joel)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bright Side Is Back.

Hey there! I know it's been a while. Sometimes when I'm having a hard time it takes me a while to get to this place where I can look on the bright side of things. But I'm finally here. Ready to look on the bright side of life and blog about it. So here are some things I've been enjoying lately.... (Pardon the lame Photo Booth pictures, I was too lazy to bust out the camera.)

1. I bought a Kindle. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. My mom always talks about how much she loves hers, and I enjoy reading but am too lazy to go to the library, and my friend pointed it out to me that they were selling them on Woot! for $89.95... so I went for it. And I love it. A lot.

2. My friend Katie is in town and will be living in Kansas City this summer! We had dinner and watched a movie tonight (RedBox was running on empty so we chose For Colored Girls. Warning: most depressing movie... ever.) It was just really nice having an old friend around. I'm excited for the summer with her.

3. One of my guilty pleasures in life is girly beauty products. I got a coupon from Beauty Brands in the mail for a free smoothing spray (I know this seems dumb but I love this kind of thing, and it was a $16.98 value!) with any purchase. So what did I buy so I could get my free hair product that promises to make all my frizz go away? Another shade of OPI nail polish. You know how much I love that stuff...

4. I've been really busy the last couple weekends and this weekend I kept myself completely free so I could recharge. Not only have I had some quality relaxation time (I slept a solid 12 hours last night) but I've also been productive. Cleaned my room, cleaned the bathroom, did my laundry... It feels good to have things in order again. (My bed is made, that is a miracle.)

5. There's been a lot of celebrating going on lately. My brother Cory graduated from high school, then the following weekend his track team went to state and placed second, my brother Kyle's birthday was on Tuesday (p.s. Kyle if you're reading this, I thought we were going to celebrate on Tuesday so that's why I haven't given you a present yet...), and tomorrow we are celebrating my aunt Cindy's retirement. Lots of things to celebrate about.

Life is good.