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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever (With An Accidental Secret Ingredient)

It has been quite a while since we've had a babysitter come over during the day so that I could get some work done. Well, it's been over three weeks since I have been to bed before 3 AM (and most days lately it's been right around 4) so last week we had a sweet girl named Sarah came over two afternoons. We had met Sarah before, but got to really know her at Quinn and Lindsey's wedding where she was a junior bridesmaid. She attempted to help Lillie get over her pre-game jitters over walking down the isle although I have to say that was not much of a success, seeing how Lillie ended up being carried down the isle on another bridesmaid's hip! I don't think Lillie will be getting any more invitations to be a flower girl any time soon - haha! Anyway, as soon as Sarah arrived last week she and Lillie quickly bonded over their love of baking (or maybe more their love of "sneaking" licks from the bowl, which Lillie inherited from me, of course).

I don't know about you all, but we really use Pinterest! We have tried quite a few of the recipes we've discovered on there. In fact, I hope to do a post at some point with links to my favorite ones. Anyway, although I love trying new things, Lillie's favorite is just regular ol' chocolate chip cookies. Last week she and Sarah experimented with some brownies with oreos in them, but this week they decided to just make some basic cookies. Well, I got the stuff out for Sarah and then told her that we generally just use the ingredients on the back of the Toll House package and add a little more brown sugar, and vanilla and then at the end we add in some oatmeal and a big scoop of peanut butter. My computer is set up on our kitchen island so I got to work editing some photos while they started baking. When it came time for the peanut butter we realized that both of our jars were empty - ahhh! I was looking through the cupboards hunting for a full jar that I could have sworn we had (although it still hasn't turned up so maybe I am going crazy) and came across a jar of nutella. Well, we figured it couldn't hurt to try that, right? So we scooped a big hunk in and gave it a try. OH MY GOODNESS! It was divine! In fact I think we ate more than half the batter before we even got to making the cookies. And I am embarrassed to say that we ate all but one cookie before dinner time! Ugh! (In our defense we made a half batch and Jon contributed to some of the nibbling before dinner too). 

Now, I know that everyone has a different opinion on food, so some people may not think it's that great, or some may not think it tastes all that different from a regular cookie but I have to say everyone in our house has officially claimed it our FAVORITE cookie! By Far! They were so good that we made them again the next day and I took photos and noted exactly how much we used of everything so we could write the recipe up. I will say they were a little fluffier the first day versus the day that we took pictures, but I think that may have had to do with the heat.

My little piglet Lillie eating one...

So here's the recipe. We always start with the basic Toll House recipe but add a little more brown sugar and vanilla. And then the ingredients we added that are not on the package are oatmeal, nutella, chocolate chunks, and milk chocolate shavings (that's optional). Seeing how there is nothing new under the sun, I am sure someone out there has tried nutella in a chocolate chip cookie before, but seeing how it is new to us and I haven't seen it on Pinterest or anywhere else yet, thought we would share it all with you!

If you click on the picture is should open larger and you can save it to your desktop and print it out!
(And if you don't have or like nutella just substitute it with peanut butter - that's how we normally make them and they are delicious!)

And here some pictures of our cute little bakers:
Here they are enjoying a warm cookie fresh out of the oven:

And enjoying another one a few hours later...

If you like to bake here are a few other recipes here on our blog:

I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Teeny Tiny Home Office

We don't have much extra room in our home so I have all of my computer "stuff" (oversized printer, silhouette machine, camera chargers, etc) and paperwork stored away here in this big armoire. I hate for wires and electronic stuff to be out in the open so this works perfectly. I have never really liked the way this piece looked, however, I LOVE it's functionality. It's a long story but I actually got it for free a few years ago and design-wise it has always driven me a little crazy because it was so clunky looking and really too large for the space, but practicality-wise, I have to say I couldn't live without it! So, seeing how I have been on a painting frenzy lately, I decided to go ahead and paint it to see if lightening it up would help. I like it so much better now! Unfortunately, thanks to the fact that we live in a townhome and therefore have very few windows in our whole house, the only windows in this room go off to the porch so the natural light in here is awful for taking photos. Especially on this side of the room. I was too lazy to get my tripod out so these are pretty grainy and the color looks lighter in these pictures than it does in real life. It is a darker grayish/tan than it appears in these photos.

I am happy with how it turned out and the best part - not only did I get this piece for FREE a few years ago, I painted it for FREE too! They were giving away free quarts of paint at our Ace Hardware so I of course snatched one up. The paint was a different brand than I usually use but I had them mix up a Benjamin Moore color for me - Valley Forge Tan. I would say it more gray than tan though.

Here it is before. The other night when I was about to start painting I realized I wasn't sure if I had any pictures of it before so I took this one. Thanks to the fact that it was in the wee hours of the morning and with no natural light it looks worse here in the photo than it actually did. (Although it was very heavy/clunky looking!)

When I looked through my photos later I could just find glimpses of it. Seeing how I never liked it I always made sure it was cropped mostly out of pictures.

I want to get rid of the glass and add chicken wire like I did for my parents hutch, but the glass is not going to be as easy to take out of this piece so I'm not sure when I am going to attempt that.


I think this new color works so much better in this room now. This is a photo from earlier this year when it was still black and you can see on the left where it sits in relationship to the rest of the room.

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer! We've been quite busy. Dana was here this past weekend and we spent most of Saturday at Busch Gardens. Here she is with Lillie:

And here is a picture of Lillie and Jon with the ENORMOUS flamingo Jon won for her. I think next time we will play something that Jon is not so good at so we don't get stuck with any more ridiculously oversized toys. =) It was quite the challenge getting it in the car and takes up about half of Lillie's room. I have no idea how I am going to ever be able to "discreetly" get rid of it - haha!

I hope you all have a fabulous Wednesday!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Color on the Porch Part II (The Blue Armoire)

I have had quite the painting itch these past few months. I had a few pieces indoors that needed to be painted like our coffee table, side table and a little french cabinet and I painted my parents hutch and dining room table. I also painted my computer station/armoire (which I will show you later this week). Then I kind of ran out of things to paint. I really wanted to do something colorful and outside my usual comfort zone. Lillie begged me to paint it pink but I wasn't going to go that crazy! =) I decided to go with a grayish blue, although it looks a bit more blue than I anticipated. If it were in the house I would probably have painted over it shortly after I finished. However, seeing how it is outside I decided to keep it for now. I kind of like the fun pop of color! And when I get sick of it I can just paint over it again. This is already the fourth color it has been in the six years I have owned it.

The color I used is Benjamin Moore's Boothbay Gray.

This is what it has looked like for the past three years and will probably be again at some point when I get sick of the blue. There was nothing wrong with it, in fact, I really liked it this color but it was fun to kind of switch things up a bit.

And here are a bunch more pictures. 
We hope to have a limited number of lemonade signs available in our shop in the coming weeks.

To help balance the blue over on that end I painted four of my plates with the same color as the armoire. And although we eat out here quite a bit, don't worry, we don't actually eat off those plates. They serve more as chargers.

Our green fleurs pillow covers are now on sale for just $12.95!

I have two of these wreaths that I got at Target a few years ago. One I have always had indoors and it looks the same as when I bought it. The other one I have had on our front door on and off over the past few years and it had become really discolored looking and had all these brown spots all over it. It had been in our garage for a while and I thought I would try spray painting it. I am so glad I did! It's like having a new wreath!

You can see photos of the other side of the porch in this post here. And our tutorial for the poster in this post here.

You can also see our porch decorated for winter here:

and decorated for fall here:

and last summer here:

Also I wanted to let you all know we finally have restocked our 12 by 20 Je T'aime Pillow Covers!

I hope you all have a fabulous Monday!

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