•    Pancake Cookies in the Afternoon   

    Being a resourceful woman is something I am proud of. Some of my best abilities center around using old, cast-off treasures to create something new and fabulous – one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure. Our home is a budding example of this grandmotherly cliché. I love garage sales, resale shops filled with possibility and a good smattering of dust, and cooking with creativity – and without recipes. I am not fussy or fancy, but I love living with a spirit of creativity and everyday adventure. I am quirky and continuously optimistic. It is my nature, and is something that just is what it is.

    I love to experiment in the kitchen, but do not like to read directions. I don’t like complicated recipes and certainly don’t like lots of rules. I am intuitive and find that I am the happiest when I live in connection with my creative spirit and a heart filled with gratitude. Life is full of opportunities for sweet appreciation. I love to cook and create, but really am more of a wizard with an apron than an actual baker.

    Cake mixes are wonderful shortcuts to great cookies, cakes and bake-pops. There is something liberating about gratefully accepting some help from Miss Better Crocker when it is available, and the most important ingredient for an afternoon in the kitchen is simply fun. Time in the kitchen should be rejuvenating and filled with pleasure – our souls can be nurtured by the simple act of preparing food for those we love or even as a gift we prepare for ourselves.

    Totally Townie Pancake Cookies

    Ingredients:

    1 butter cake mix

    1 egg

    1 stick butter, softened (we use the real stuff, and stay away from the synthetics)

    ½ bag of your favorite chocolate chips

    1 large bowl

    1 large cookie sheet or baking dish

    An open heart and clean hands to do the mixin’

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cake mix, butter, and egg in large bowl. Mix well. Incorporate chocolate chips until they are throughout batter. Scoop the batter into round lumps onto cookie sheet. It will be thicker than traditional pancakes, and look very much like standard cookie dough. The pancake part comes in when the cookies are flipped (typical pancake fashion) half-way through baking. Total baking time is  12 – 16 minutes, depending on your oven. As the dough begins to bubble around the edges, or half-way through (6- 8 minutes on each side), remove tray from oven for just long enough to flip the cookies, and return.

    This recipe was created after I burned the bottom of my cookie for the last time. It seems that very often the underside of my cookies burn while the top is still gooey. This is most likely the result of not following the directions, but creative juices flow freely when our souls are free to welcome them in.  I was frustrated by my burned-bottom-cookies for the last time when I decided to give those cookies some help and with the magic flip of the wrist, Totally Townie Pancake Cookies were born.  May your kitchen always be filled with laughter, creativity and a cookie jar that welcomes guests from near and far.

  •    Green Magic on the Porch   

    It came as no surprise to see that the small, decorative jug holding a good portion of colored green water that found its home on my back porch was nearly frozen this morning. This old jug is often filled with colored water to coordinate with the feeling of our spirits or the calendar on our fridge. It is used to hold tiny, plastic beads and other trinkets that can slide through the small opening, just for the sheer pleasure of two little ladies and their mommy. On this particular morning, the jug contained green water that by the whimsical chilling of jack frost, transformed into a green, icy slush.

    As the sun shone onto our cold porch, this green little treasure caused me to stop, to smile, and to savor the bright beauty of this cold winter morning. I love winter. I love spring. I love summer and fall. I see the changing of the seasons as a chance to experience the world through different eyes- if even for only a few months. Winter in Michigan brings with it bright, dry, crisp snow that when stepped on, gives the listener a moment filled with winter wisdom and delight in the harsh breathe of our coldest season. The white blanket of January snow gives the grass and dirt beneath our feet the chance to rest – to grow dormant and to withdraw from our sight until the glorious rains of spring reunite us with the vibrant glow of nature’s awakening.

    Our world is filled with enchantment and the gift of a cold winter day is brimming with possibility. I hope today brings you a sample of snow-covered magic and perhaps a moment to stand silent amidst the world around you covered in snow.

  •    Beauty in Big Rubber Boots   

    Beauty comes from within our spirit. It is a smile, a wink from a friend, or the touch of a familiar hand in the middle of the night as we meander into dreamland. It is peace in the spirit and a zest for life that give a person beauty. Sometimes beauty comes with hair that has not been brushed all day, or in the sound of laughter flowing from the heart of a woman who’s face is graced with the gift of eyes that smile, sweetly embracing each beautiful wrinkle that she was given in return for years filled with stories.

    Life is not easy, yet life is beautiful. As a mom, I don’t spend the time on my own appearance that I used to. This is not deliberate. It is something that just happened, not over night, but over time. Most days I do get dressed and I even manage to put some form of “professional” attire together on the days when I go to the office. My morning routine has been simplified over the last 5 years – from hot rollers, matching accessories and high heels of the non-mommy-days to lip gloss, a very quick flash of mascara and big rubber boots that will keep me from slipping in the snow as I struggle to keep a squirmy toddler within my grasp in line at the post office.

    I don’t spend the time that I once did selecting my outfit for the next day and I certainly don’t spend the money on personal trinkets and treasures that at one time seemed appropriate. Maybe this comes with age, or maybe it comes with the idea that clothes, makeup and fancy platform shoes are not as high on the priority list anymore. I have never been dazzled by new clothes, and thankfully, I love resale bargains and old musty treasures that, by some, could be considered gaudy. I also love creating something fabulous from almost nothing. Most of all, I love the peace that comes from living a simple, but rich life filled with everyday treasures.

    I am not fancy or fussy. I am actually a straight-forward character of storts and am grateful for the little lessons in life that dribble onto my lap when I least expect to see their smiling faces. Once such lesson recently came from my 19-month-old daughter. I have a set of coffee cups that were given to me as a favor at a bridal shower. These white ceramic cups boast large photos of a very fancy, beautiful and well-dressed woman gracefully sauntering down the sidewalk. She is clothed in a sophisticaed dress, large-brimmed hat and is dripping with elegance. Each time our daughter sees the coffee cup, she points to the woman, nodds her head and says, “Momma.” The first time she said this I was rather surprised, but her confidence in this beautiful woman being Momma has never waivered.

    This lesson is an example of true beauty – a beauty that I am grateful to even capture in my heart for a moment–a gift from God that I cherish. The eyes of children see their mom as a symbol of charm and comfort, of beauty and grace. The eyes of children see their mom and see peace and security – they see an example of warm snuggles on the couch on a cold January morning and as a rock-a-bye lullaby whisper as the sandman gentle takes over for another night of slumber.

    Although my days of frequent high heels, and leisurely mornings filled with time for internal discussion on the debate over flashy faux jacket or vintage felt shawl have been set aside for now, I gratefully embrace this rich mommy-season in my life. I am blessed to hear the little voice that reminds me that she sees me as beautiful. This little voice is a reminder that each of us holds a gift to be the best we can be and to give richly to others. We each are beautifully created, and designed with a purpose. We each hold beauty. The next time I haul out the fancy coffee mugs, I promise to accept the compliment of a 19-month old beauty, even if I am wearing big rubber boots and my hair has not yet been brushed.