oaty almond cookies

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I’m in a bit of baking spree right now. I recently flipped through “Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break” at the public library which describes the Swedish custom of taking the time to enjoy your coffee along with a snack or baked treat (basically the best tradition ever). Since then I have felt quite justified, nay compelled in my desire to have a cookie with my coffee because, you know, its part of my culture.

I wanted to make cookies yesterday but I found that I was out of white flour so I was inspired to concoct the following recipe using ground oats and almonds instead. The result was surprisingly delicious (although I’m not sure how far wrong you can go when butter and sugar are involved). Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups slivered almonds  (3/4 cup to be ground into flour, 3/4 cup to be added into the dough later)

2 3/4 cup oats (3/4 cup to be ground into “flour”, 2 cups to be added to the dough later)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup butter (room temperature)

3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

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Preheat oven to 350 and move a rack to the top spot.

Start by grinding 3/4 cups slivered almonds and 3/4 cup of oats together in a food processor (I used a magic bullet but I imagine any blender will do) until you reach a flour-like consistency. Mix in the baking powder and salt with the almond-oat mixture.

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In a mid-sized bowl, mix together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Add your dry ingredients, the final two cups of oats, and the slivered almonds. Use a small ice-cream scooper to scoop round balls of dough (about an inch and a half in diameter) on a baking sheet. I recommend using parchment paper as the cookies are quite thin and it will be easier to remove them from the pan later.

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Place the baking sheet on the very top rack as the bottoms of the cookies can burn quite easily. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Take them out when the bottom is brown but the top still looks a bit soft and then let them sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing them.

The result should be crispy, chewy, almondy, yummy cookies. Enjoy!

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thoughts from the cave

Many fall down, 

  few return to the sunlit lands.

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

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Greetings, friendly readers! Are you guys into the introvert/extrovert conversation? I’m pretty into it but I don’t like to admit it. On the one hand, it seems silly to try and categorize all people so diametrically but, on the other hand, it’s quite fun to talk about.

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For me, it’s a sliding scale. As a mom of three needy humans, I crave alone time more than anything. Sometimes I fantasize about going to an office job; I dream of dressing up in pleated slacks and a button down shirt and sitting at a computer doing data entry in a quiet cubicle with the occasional water-cooler conversation. I also find that the more time alone I have, the more time alone I think I need. My me-time void is bottomless.

In our house, we call it “the cave”. The cave is a metaphorical place that I go when I am alone (or sometimes when I am with other people :p); a cavern of treasures and tunnels. The more time I spend alone, the deeper I descend. I write lists, I plan various projects, I write, I make, I pretend to ignore the outside world. My cave is safe and cozy, the world outside is a troublesome inconvenience. I spelunk further in, further down, until one day I happen to look up. I look up, I look around, and I realize that I am in a dark cave all alone.

What was once a den of delight is suddenly a cage of gloom and I panic. I’m all alone! I have no friends! To which someone usually gently but firmly reminds me, “Actually you do have friends. You just need to call them every once in a while.” And following the light of this undeniable logic, I brush away the cobwebs from around me and slowly claw my way once more to the sunlit lands. There to remain until my next spelunk.

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Have you noticed that introverts love talking about being introverted? Which is funny because I would think of extroverts as being external processors. In the last few years, it has become quite popular to extol the virtues of the quiet and introspective among us which is great because they tend to need a bit of drawing out. But let’s not forget about the invaluable extrovert. I come from a social family and I think it’s safe to say that I am married to one of the most extroverted people in the world and I am daily thankful for them. They pull me out of my cave and help me to see the world through a more outward perspective.

Because I love being alone but I am not immune to loneliness. I like making new friends, I find people pleasant, I love small talk (but hate phone calls). What does that make me? An outgoing introvert? An ambivert? An introspective extrovert? An in-N-outrovert?  A french fry?

What do you think? Should introverts be left to their own resources or is it good to come out of the cave every once in a while?

life inspired: the secret garden

“when you see a bit of earth you want,” he said with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive”

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A week or so ago I mentioned that I want to start posting about things that have inspired me lately. When I look around me (in real life or on the internet) I am often overwhelmed by things that are difficult and messy; sometimes a look at something lovely is just what the doctor ordered.

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So for my second batch of creative inspiration, I bring you “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson.

If you’re feeling nostalgic or looking for some loveliness to herald in the spring, I recommend revisiting this childhood gem (or consider reading it for the first time). It is sweet and pleasant and the perfect inspiration if you’re looking to tackle a daunting project. As you follow young Mary Lennox’s journey of bringing a neglected, nearly-dead garden back to life you might find yourself longing for your own patch of chaos to bring into order which, if you have little kids, probably won’t be too hard to find :).

how to plan an ok birthday party (including a cupcake hack!)

This year our little Joy requested a Paw Patrol party for her third birthday, and as it seemed easy enough to execute I was happy to oblige her. I love celebrating my kid’s birthdays!

Kid’s parties can be expensive and elaborate things which can be fun and wonderful but they really don’t have to be expensive and elaborate. Sometimes you just do what you can do and that’s ok too. Personally, I’ve chosen to keep the bar low for myself because so far our kids are quite easy to please 🙂 Here’s how I managed it:

Two nights before the party, Addison and I took a little trip to the dollar store to stock up on party supplies. After some discernment of exactly how little Paw Patrol paraphernalia I needed to purchase for the party to qualify as a “Paw Patrol Party” to the three-year-old mind, I opted for the blowing thingies, special cups and napkins, some stickers, and my mom contributed a bunch of paw patrol helium balloons. I also grabbed a box of cake mix, a bag of frozen chicken nuggets and french fries, juice boxes, paw patrol themed fruit snacks and some mini Smarties boxes from a nearby grocery store.

The night before the party I whipped up a batch of cupcakes (I love cake mix!!) and hung the Happy Birthday sign while the kids slept. I probably also did a bit of tidying. While not the queen of clean, I do try to make things relatively tidy before having a bunch of kids over as it increases my chance of recovery afterward.

The morning before the party I iced and sprinkled the cupcakes. I also made some nifty cupcake toppers using a hack I discovered while preparing for my son’s Spiderman party last year. All you need are toothpicks and a multipack of relatively symmetrical stickers. Just attach two of the same sticker to either side of a toothpick, insert into the cupcakes and voila! You now have Paw Patrol cupcakes.

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Then you can use the other stickers from the pack (the non-symmetrical ones) to turn brown paper bags into fun Paw Patrol party bags. This was actually a fun little activity for Joy to help prepare for her party.

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Joy also helped me pack the goody bags with smarties and fruit snacks. Around 30 minutes before the party I threw the french fries and chicken nuggets into the oven. I tend to plan our parties around a meal time because I’m not great at games and entertainment. Food keeps everyone busy for a good chunk of the time. The guests consisted of siblings and a couple of Joy’s little friends and their mamas and even though it wasn’t the most amazing party ever produced, I’d like to think it was still a fun time. We sure love our three-year-old!

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slow progress

just keep swimming just keep swimming

just keep swimming swimming swimming

what do we do? we swim swim swim.

dory

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Its seems to me that my life, creatively speaking and otherwise, adheres to the seasons. Fall is productive and winter is… less so.

As a stay-at-home mom, I find that having some sort of side-project gives me more focus and helps me to be more efficient with my regular tasks. So to get out of my winter funk I’ve been trying to put myself to work but it’s starting to feel like a make work operation. Maybe because it’s a make work operation…

Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your tires? I do. I feel that way RIGHT NOW as I am trying to find some words to go with these nice pictures.

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One of my slow progress projects is that I’m trying to crochet up a super chunky ultra cozy cardigan. I haven’t seen a pattern quite like what I’m looking for so I’ve been trying to make one up myself. But it is quite difficult! And slow!

I bought 12 balls of Red Heart Grande yarn on sale back in December and then had to find the right size hook for ultimate drape, which didn’t arrive until the beginning of February. Mini crochet lesson: Upsizing your hook is a good way to achieve a more drapey fabric.

The yarn is very chunky and works up quite quickly, which is good because I have ripped out my work several times. I’m nervous that there will be some vital mistake that I won’t notice until the cardigan is finished- which is exactly what happened the last time I tried to make a cardigan. I had just sewn on the buttons and was trying my completed cardigan on for the first time when I realized that the side with the buttons was 4 inches longer than the side without buttons. That mistake is probably why I usually don’t attempt anything much bigger than a tea cozy so you could say this cardigan is an important step for me. Process is progress?

Keep swimming, friends.

 

life inspired: the sea in between

“When you have kids there’s this natural concern…this is going to change everything. How are we going to do what we’ve been doing? But you can do just about anything you did with kids that you did without. It’s just a lot more work.” 

Josh Garrels

I know I’m not the only person out there looking to integrate a bit more creativity into the ordinary; in light of that, I’d like to start sharing things that I’ve read or seen that have inspired me lately.

The Sea Between is a documentary about how musician Josh Garrels and his family, along with arts collective/ production house Mason Jar were all invited by the Johnson family to spend a week at their house on Mayne Island where they could enjoy the beautiful surroundings and “let art get made” despite none of them having met before.

I love this sort of “art just because” project. It’s not about making heaps of money or achieving a certain level of fame, it’s just because. I first saw this film when they screened it at Josh Garrels’ concert a couple years ago and I was quite excited to be able to watch it again when they recently posted it on youtube.

There is much to stretch out those creative mind muscles in this film: sentiments about the creative process, ambition, classical vs. personal expression, the shifting music industry, integrating creativity in family life (see above one of my favorite quotes on parenting found at the beginning of this film), and expressing faith in art. And if all that doesn’t inspire you, then I’m sure the music and beautiful scenery will. Enjoy!

the days are long but the years are short

“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

Miss Prism (The Importance of Being Earnest)

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I love digital photography. I can take endless snapshots of pretty things and sweet moments without worrying about the cost or clutter of film and prints. Of course, the downside is that it takes me forever to get anything printed.

We have one giant family album that I’ve been working on for a while starting with our engagement photos up to the present day: The Lacasse Family Storybook. I’m at least a year behind. There are gaps where I haven’t finished putting in our wedding photos and Mabel hasn’t even made it into the album yet but the good intentions are there on the shelf. I’ll get to it eventually because I know one day my kids will pore over it the way I spent countless hours poring over the “1986” album from our family collection. It wasn’t even a baby album or mostly pictures of me but it was my year and I knew that album back to front.

The task of sifting through the thousands of photos on our various computers and devices is daunting because how can I know which are going to be the key identify-forming, story-telling images? Is it the photo of my coffee in the morning light or one of the 16 photos I just took of Addison holding Mabel because they just looked so cute? And which one of those 16 photos is it?

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Recently someone mentioned to me that they don’t really remember their kids as toddlers because they’re too busy knowing them at their current age. It makes sense. Why spend time dwelling on the way someone was in the past when you are building a relationship with them in the present? But it also totally freaks me out- the next day I took twice as many photos and videos as usual. I got Addison to take a video of me kissing Mabel and a video of me conversing with Joy about the best part of her day; the thought that I won’t remember the feeling of those soft chubby cheeks and the sound of that funny little two-year-old voice makes me feel panicky.

I take photos to hold on the ephemeral but it also acts as a way to draw my attention to all of the gifts in my life. I love scrolling through my Instagram photos, and as I relive all the moments I felt compelled to capture I am tracking our story and God’s faithfulness.

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Because the years fly by but the days are long. Long and messy and frustrating at times and, as a stay-at-home mom, I am often painfully aware of the passage of time. It races by like an unbearably long cargo train, while I sit at the crossing (probably texting my husband, asking what time he’ll be home), an observer of progress. Sometimes it feels like change is happening all around me but I’m stuck in sameness.

But God is present in the sameness. And I’m learning to trace His faithfulness in the midst of it. I must.

The days are long but the years are short. When I look back through pictures from a year, a month, even a week ago I can see how fast my children are changing. This revelation brings a twinge of sadness but also excitement for what lies ahead. With the magic of ordinary days, babyhood vanishes and is replaced with wonders anew. New words and skills are learned, new ideas formed, new stories told as the world is understood through new eyes. And as my children change from glory to glory, I hope that I am changing as well -in spite of the sameness. Not in ways that can be measured and marked on a doorframe, but in the more essential ways, those which are invisible to the eye.

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i hope i remember these days
these days of quiet busyness
these days of noisy innocence
when i was your captive audience

i hope i remember this time
this time of frantic stillness
these moments of static movements
when you were my precious vocation

 

Psalm 139:1-12

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.