Juliana & Pooh

So I graduated from college a few weeks ago. I have to say, it wasn’t a sad day in any way. I was never really into the whole college thing. I’m glad it’s almost over. I just have a few more weeks of online classes and my diploma should be here by my birthday in August. Perfect way to celebrate my twenty-first!

Here are some of the non-cringe-worthy pictures of that memorable day. I just wanted to get the spotlight off myself so I wasn’t really interested in getting a lot of pictures. But I got the ones I wanted.

So there!

My brother being my brother wanted to really cheer as I crossed the stage and apparently this little one got pretty scared and started crying. I was so in the moment that I didn’t even hear her, but she made an impression on everyone sitting around them–a few old ladies nearby told them how precious that was and that they will never forget it.
imageThere’s a story here with Pooh. My parents got an adorable picture of my brother and I at his high school graduation and I was holding my Pooh Bear.
I’ve always loved this picture and honestly one of the first things I thought when we found about J was “I need a picture with this baby and Pooh at my college graduation!” We never planned on recreating the original, but I think it was my favorite part of the day and they’re definitely my favorite pictures.

“Okay, mom. Are you ready now?” I love how genuine this is.

so wish this was focused better (come on, Mom!) because this face is irresistible. Such a cutie-patootie. I’m glad she was there to take the spotlight off me!


So, I can check college off the list.

What’s next?

Well, I redid my bedroom…


I’m Still Here!

Even though it’s only been 2 weeks, I feel like I’ve abandoned you all. I promise I’ll let you know what’s been keeping me busy the past few weeks, but there are a few things left to do before I can do that.

In the meantime, please enjoy these marvelous cookies!

Mint-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I decided it’s time for a new favorite cookie. We’ve been making the same oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies for more than 10 years now and I feel like it’s time for a change. Not that I don’t love those cookies–I love those cookies. They will always be my classic, baseline cookies. (If I can remember to photograph them the next I make them, I’ll definitely post the recipe!)

But as I’m continuing my cooking journey, I’m learning that cookies are so easy to switch up and experiment with. And I’m loving all of these new concoctions!

Though they may need a little tweaking, these Mint-Chocolate Chip Cookies, based on two of my favorite chocolate chip cookies and my most recent obsession, are definitely finalists in the search for my next favorite cookie.

I started by browning 2 sticks of butter. This isn’t necessary, but I tend to err on the side of caution by constantly swirling the butter over medium-high heat.

There are basically 3 stages to browning butter. The first stage is this lovely foam.

The first stage of browning butter is foam.

The second stage comes very shortly after the foam appears. BUBBLES!

The second stage of browning butter is bubbles.

After a little while, it will become foamy again and when you see this wonderfully golden color appear, it is done.

The third stage of browning butter is the foam turning a wonderfully golden color.

Ahh, browned butter.

You want the butter to be completely cool when you add it in with the other ingredients. If you’re patient, you can take it out of the pot and just let it cool for an hour or so. But I’m not patient. So I put it in this measuring cup, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes (which was still 29 minutes too long for me!).

Ahh, browned (or golden, rather) butter!

As I put the butter in the fridge, I took out yet another stick of butter (mmmmm, buttah buttah!) and set it out to soften.

And watched an episode of Mad Men to distract myself. I am–was–fully obsessed with this show and am in denial now that it’s over. I think I’ll watch the series again from the beginning. And then do it again.


I was making cookies.

I took the butter out of the fridge and let it sit more while I threw together the dry ingredients. I added 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee grinds, 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder (will probably be changed to at least 2 teaspoons), 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt to a bowl.

I added the dry ingredients to a bowl.

And mixed them just until they were combined.

And mixed them just until they were combined.

Next I creamed the stick of softened butter, 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of sugar together in a separate bowl.

Next I creamed the softened butter and sugars together.


Then I poured in the beautifully browned butter and mixed it all in.


Totally optional, but I love oatmeal in cookies so I added 1/2 cup.


Then I added 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.


And mixed until combined.


I added the dry ingredients in increments, only mixing in about a third of it at a time.

Hey, that looks like cookie dough!


But there is one crucial ingredient missing: the mint-chocolate chips. I added about 3/4 cup of my latest obsession, Andes baking chips.


Then I put them on a cookie sheet…


And baked them in a 375 degree oven for about 9 minutes, or until golden brown.


Mmmm, fresh cookies!

I left them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.


Because once they hit that rack, they don’t last long.


Mmm, I can smell them now!

Bring on the Rain!

In honor of our first “big” thunderstorm last night and of my “last” week of college (graduation is Saturday, but I’m still taking a few summer classes), I’m throwing it back to a piece I wrote for a class last semester. After writing this, I got really excited about starting my blog and was convinced this would be my first post. Unfortunately, I started my blog four months later…so it wasn’t really relevant anymore. But today, it definitely is.

It rained this weekend. In fact, it poured this weekend. The wannabe professional photographer in me was thrilled!

See, the thing about rainstorms just before twilight is that they leave behind the most spectacular sunsets. Those sunsets call to me. I start to get antsy waiting for the rain to let up so I can run outside and take hundreds of pictures.

There are always a few stages I go through during rainstorms:

  1. Oh, look. It’s raining. I know it’s supposed to rain, but it sure doesn’t look like it. Then all of a sudden, it is.
  2. Wow, it’s raining hard. One second it’s raining and the next it’s raining.
  3. Is rain supposed to be horizontal? The telltale sign that this isn’t just a rain shower. This is a rainstorm.
  4. I didn’t think it could rain leaves. When the driveway starts to look more like the jungle floor than a driveway, I know this is a powerful storm.
  5. Is that hail? The deck starts to turn white, but it’s too early for snow, and much louder.
  6. The sky looks brighter over there! Get ready! When the sky starts getting brighter, it’s time to slip on my navy blue rain boots and bright orange raincoat. This is also the time to get the camera out, figure out which lens is appropriate and, of course, make sure the memory card can handle the hundreds of pictures coming its way.
  7. Get set! Standing at the door looking like a freak, with my hand resting on the handle, I’m all ready to go.
  8. Go! The rain has slowed, the road is steaming and the sky is still dark from the rain, but the sun is shining on the tips of the trees, gradually making its way down the trunks.

Then the question is, where to start? There are so many spectacular sights and I know they won’t last long. I make my way around the yard and down the driveway, making sure to snap at least two pictures of every subject, knowing there’s a good chance of some being blurry. I can’t resist taking some puppy pictures while the camera is out.

I’m fully aware of how silly I must look while I’m shooting pictures. I’m a big fan of squatting and getting all kinds of weird angles just to see what I can come up with. Sometimes it feels more like I’m playing a game of Twister than taking pictures. Isn’t that how the pros do it?

Thirty minutes later, I’m back inside going through nearly 300 pictures on my computer. I’m disappointed to see that about 40 percent have to be deleted, but a few of the remaining pictures make me question why I’m not pursuing photography instead.

If you’ve never taken a walk after a rainstorm so close to dusk, I highly recommend it. It’s magical. If you’re up for it, grab the camera and pretend you’re a pro.

Bring on the rain!

Here are some of my favorite pictures I took that night.


Must Love Babies

I wasn’t planning on being a crazy baby person today, but then a little baby fell asleep on my shoulder and all I could think about is how much I love her. So here’s what she’s been up to at grandma’s house over the last few weeks.

She’s started wearing her sunglasses more often and I can’t stand how cute she looks!

I love these next few–my dad and I had gone to pick up my new phone (!) and stopped to get some coffee on the way home. J was pretty interested in my dad’s frappuccino so we let her try some!

20150410_112824 20150410_113426_001 20150410_113442_001

Of course a second after this next picture was taken, half of the remaining drink was all over the table…20150410_113445_009

And then she was feeling SOOO happy! Gee, I wonder how that happened 😉

And later that day, she was interested in the kitty!


It’s too bad she doesn’t have any pets that love her…


Here we go…


Let’s really grab him now!

Oh no! Where is kitty going?!


Okay, so maybe Charlie isn’t quite to the loving stage yet.

But J is definitely loving her swing!

20150410_155620Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play with a little girl and her puppy! It’s a rough life, but, you know, someone’s gotta do it!