Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I'd say today of all days is an appropriate day for Thankful Thursday. :)

  • Grocery stores that remain open the morning of Thanksgiving so you can run in and buy one more package of yeast.
  • God's faithfulness to me. I don't know what His plan is, but I know He is good, and I can rest in that.
  • My family and friends. Every day I am reminded of how blessed I am to have them around me.
  • Fun Jazzercise sessions to kick off Thanksgiving morning.
  • A sense of humor. Life would be dull without it.
  • The beauty that surrounds us daily - how can you go through autumn and not notice it?
  • A job that I truly enjoy going to everyday.
  • A job that gives me three days off to celebrate Thanksgiving!
So many things I could list. My cup runneth over.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Get ready, Internet, because this might just be the most amazing cookie cake you've ever experienced. I have had 2 guys tell me that if they weren't married, they would marry me based on this cake. I've had people tell me I should sell them and become rich. It's powerful, I tell you. So let's get started.

Start by preheating your oven to 375. 

Then go gather the ingredients because otherwise you'll have to run to HyVee in your workout clothes and everyone will stare at you because you are in capris and a tank top when it's 31 degrees outside. Not that I would know anything about that.

I know they say to mix all the dry ingredients first, but I don't do that. I put my 2 cups of butter flavored Crisco in my mixer and let it get beat to a pulp with 2 cups of brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar while I mix the dry ingredients. 

(I was trying to be all Pioneer Woman on this tutorial and show you step by step, but it ended up as a mess. I don't know how she does it. So there are a lot of photos missing from this point on.)

So while the butter and sugar are blending, I sift 4 1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of salt into another bowl. (Confession: Sometimes I don't feel like using another bowl, so I just add it in at the end and skip this step.) Here's a photo of Kody because he sits there and begs the entire time.

Okay, so we go back to the butter and sugar mixture at this point. Keep scraping down the wet ingredients and let them get mixed in really well. You'll need to add 3 Tablespoons of vanilla (yes, 3 Tablespoons, that's key), 1 teaspoon of water and 4 beaten eggs.

Now you're ready to add in the flour mixture. Here's my trick to keep flour from getting everywhere. I take a tea towel, and wrap it around my mixer, leaving a little space in the back where I can spoon in the mixture. It works as a guard and I don't have to put any new attachments on.

Then it's time to add in 18 oz. of chocolate least. Throw more in if you feel like it. Add some M&Ms or nuts or Reese's Pieces. Whatever your heart desires. Mix them in well, and savor the dough goodness. (I am not responsible for you consuming raw egg by tasting the dough.)

Then get 2 round pans and spray them generously with Pam spray. (Or the off brand equivalent because you're too poor to buy brand name.)

Spoon your mixture into the cake pans, but DO NOT fill the pans all the way. In fact my photo has just a little too much dough. DO NOT spread it all the way to the edges...unless you like really crispy edges, then I guess you could.

Pop them in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Don't over bake them. They should still be a little jiggly when you take them out. One of my friend's moms told me that you know cookies are done when they are no longer shiny, and it works like a charm. Pull them out, let them cool, then find your favorite chocolate icing. Here's mine...

Put a dab of icing on a pretty plate to hold the cake.

Then turn one cookie cake face down on the plate...

Cover it in icing.

And place the other cookie cake on top. The result is the best cookie cake ever.

Really you could use any chocolate chip cookie recipe, but here's mine because I think it's the best. To each her own, though.

41/2 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
2 c. butter flavored Crisco
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
3 T. vanilla
1 t. water
4 eggs
18 oz. chocolate chips

Bake for 9 min @ 375

For cookie cake bake 15-18 min @ 375
And you'll need chocolate icing.


Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Photo Season

I love autumn. It's seriously one of my favorite things, and one of the best things about it is the light. The way the sunshine filters through the trees and takes on the golden hue of the leaves is amazing. It makes for pretty pictures. Plus it's just before Christmas card season, so it works out well. I've been busy taking family photos, so I thought I would share some with you.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


I don't want to write this post. I have been avoiding it for some time now. I would rather write about my tips on wearing jeans with boots (because apparently Holly and Beth need me to write about that) or show you all more photos of my house, but I'm feeling prompted to write this. For the entire Internet to see. Which scares me.

Recently I stumbled upon a blog called Can You Stay for Dinner? To say that it's inspirational is an under statement. Andie writes about food and her journey of losing 135 pounds, and I saw so much of myself as I stalked browsed through her archives. It made me realize that keeping my story to myself is selfish. There could be a girl out there who is going through the same things as me. Who needs to hear someone say the things she has been thinking out loud. Even though this is uncomfortable for me, I'm going to do it. I'm going to write about my weight loss. I've done this before, but it's time for me to come back to it.

In the past 7 months I have lost 45 pounds. That's 7 newborn babies. 5 gallons of milk. 2 cinder blocks. 1 bag of dog food. Have you ever tried to lift a big bag of dog food into a shopping cart? It isn't easy. I often make myself look life a fool trying to do so, but that is a different post for a different day. Most people say, "45 pounds, that's awesome!" or "Wow, that takes a lot of dedication." or "You look amazing!" I hear all of these things, but I don't feel them. I still feel like the Jenny that carried 8 more inches around her waist. I still look in the mirror and see the Jenny that pushed sizes she swore she would never wear. It wasn't until I stumbled across a few of these photos on Facebook tonight that I realized I have changed.

The top 3 are my starting point. The bottom 3 are my current point.
I am learning a lot right now about loving myself as is. I'm learning that weight is not everything. I'm learning about loving food, and not longing for it. I'm learning about acceptance, motivation, health, nutrition, body image, exercise, and inspiration. But most of all, I'm learning to view myself the way God sees me. I can't wait to tell you all about it, and let you join me in this journey. Are you ready?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A favorite quote

I read this quote a few years ago, and since then it has been a favorite of mine. It is written on the chalk board in my office. It's a good reminder that life is meant to be lived.

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” 
 Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

And a pretty version....