No Bake Cookies

no bake cookies
In all my years of cooking and baking, I had never whipped up a batch of No Bake cookies. A week and a half ago I made my first batch.

I made a third batch last night.

I cannot stop eating these cookies. The fact that they take less than 10 minutes to make doesn’t help the situation.

There are tons of variations on this basic recipe for No Bakes and this is no exception. My brother-in-law passed his recipe along to me with a follow-up message of modifications. I started with that recipe and altered it slightly in the three batches I’ve made to suit my needs. I use old fashioned oatmeal and natural peanut butter—both affect the consistency and timing of the recipe. The key is finding the right amount of oats so your cookie is not too dry or too wet to hold its shape. Humidity levels will affect this so keep that in mind when making these tasty treats. You may need a few more or less tablespoons of oats depending on your climate.

The recipe below is my current incarnation and is ridiculously delicious. I should probably padlock the Tupperware dish so I don’t eat them all in one sitting.

Oh, and make sure you eat the last bite out of the pan with a spoon while it is still warm. Trust me, you will not be sorry.

No Bake Cookies
makes 24–30 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons butter (heavy 1/4 cup—probably an extra TB full of PB)
2 1/4 cup oatmeal*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup peanut butter
pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Combine sugar, milk, cocoa, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil stirring often.
  2. Boil for one minute.
  3. Turn off the heat and add oatmeal, vanilla, peanut butter, and salt. Mix well.*
  4. Drop teaspoonful size cookies onto wax paper and cool.

Enjoy!

*You can use quick cook oats or old-fashioned oats. I use old-fashioned oats and allow the mixture to sit in the pan for 3 minutes before dropping the cookies onto the wax paper. If using quick cook oats you and mix and drop right away.

Busytown Toys Giveaway

Busytown-Easter

When I think of Busytown, I always think book pages filled with animals driving crazy cars throughout a town flanked with words describing what we are seeing.

Inhabited by anthropomorphic animal characters including Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Hilda Hippo, Bananas Gorilla and many others, Busytown is world full of learning opportunities.

Library.
Table.
Chair.
Book.
Paper.
Pencil.

From large to small it is there in Busytown, a fictional town created by long time children’s author Richard Scarry.

My husband and I grew up reading and learning with Richard Scarry’s animal friends. When G-tot turned two, we bought him a huge Richard Scarry book so he could have that same great experience of discovering new words and learning new things in Busytown.

Needless to say, we are big fans of Busytown in this house. We read the books. We watch the shows. We play with the toys.

And YOU have a chance to win a great prize pack and play with Richard Scarry’s Busytown toys too!

Busytown-Product

Richard Scarry’s Busytown Toys – Great Easter Basket stuffers.
Welcome to Richard Scarry’s Busytown!  It’s the liveliest, funniest, busiest town around!  Based on Richard Scarry’s classic books enjoyed by generations of families, children would love to be surprised by an Easter basket filled with a Richard Scarry’s Busytown vehicle pack, figure pack or mini plush.  These vehicle and figure packs are compatible with most wooden railway track play systems.  A comprehensive Richard Scarry’s Busytown play system is available, too, so kids can collect them all or build a Busytown all their own!  These toys are available at Toys”R”Us stores nationwide or online at ToysRUs.com.
Ages 3+

One (1) winner will receive:
An Easter Basket filled with a surprise selection of 8 products from the Busytown Easter Gift Picks including:

  • 1 Busytown Small Vehicle Pack
  • 1 Busytown 2-pack Figure
  • 1 Busytown Mini Plush
  • 1 Roadway Starter Kit

Want a chance to win?

Of course you do.

Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win this fantastic Busytown prize pack.
Let me know which Richard Scarry character holds a place near and dear to your heart.
Pontificate about why Mr. Frumble drives a pickle car.
Or just tell me you want to win.

Want a second chance to win? ‘Like’ Richard Scarry’s Busytown on Facebook (leave a separate comment on this post to let me know you did).

Giveaway will run until 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, April 4th. Winner will be chosen by random number generator and notified via email.

Disclosure: I was provided a set of Richard Scarry Busytown toys to review and offer a giveaway on my site. Opinions are my own.

UPDATE, 4.5.12: Winner by random number generator (and excluding my replies) is comment #15—Nanette. Congrats, Nanette! Picture 6

29 Weeks

You guys!

Seriously.

This face.

I can hardly stand it.

Dimple

Smile

The cute. It burns.

Life With Two

Life with two.
Life with two is…busy.

Our days are non-stop. G-tot stopped napping a long time ago so those precious moments of rest when Huggy Baby is sleeping are non-existent. I’m still nursing Huggy. Add to that the fact that he is  eating solids three times a day and meals take a LONG time to execute. That doesn’t include meals for the rest of us. Or laundry. Or dishes. Or work. The list goes on.

By the time I get the boys to bed and ready to decompress I am so freakin’ tired.

Life with two is exhausting.

I still find it a little intimidating to leave the house with just the kids and no Josh by my side. I’m not sure I can handle being outnumbered anywhere but my home turf at this point. I’m sure it is all in my head and I would be just fine but the idea of wrangling two around the grocery store with no partner makes me shudder.

Some days I wish I could slow down time. G-tot turned five this past Saturday and the baby will be 7 months in just over a week. It just doesn’t seem possible.

Life with two is amazing.

This is my life.
I love it so very much.

Me and the boys

9 Years

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Three thousand two hundred eighty eight days ago I recited hand written vows with my best friend.

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Four hundred sixty nine weeks ago we danced hand-in-hand in a huge circle with a slew of our closest friends to All Together Now by The Beatles as our last song of the night.

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One hundred eight months ago I married an amazing man.

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Sure, our relationship isn’t perfect. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we go to bed mad.

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But every morning a kiss starts off our day and I love him to pieces all over again.

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He  is the one for me and I am the one for him.

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I’m certain of it.

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He gets me. In ways that NOBODY else could.

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I’m so lucky he said “I do” nine years ago.

Happy Anniversary, Josh. I love you.

Two Two-Four

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This is my Mom.

I would have to say she is my most favorite lady ever. Over the past 35 years she has loved me, guided me, taught me, and cared for me in a way that has made me feel like I hit the lottery when it comes to mothers. She has been a friend, a disciplinarian, a cheerleader, and a shoulder to cry on when I’ve needed one.

She is pretty fantastic.

Today is her birthday.

And although I’ve already wished her a happy birthday on her Facebook wall and I will call her later to tell her the same since we live too far away to celebrate together in person, I want to tell her here too.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

You deserve every wish you have ever made as you’ve blown out the candles on your cake each February 24th.

Cranberry, Almond, & Cashew Bark

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Inspired by this post written by Daisy over at Curvy Girl Guide (you are reading CGG, right? You know I also write there, correct?), I decided to make a batch of my own bark.

The results were fantastic.

In my opinion, the beauty of bark is that you can throw pretty much whatever you want in the chocolate and create some pretty delicious results. In addition to the dried cranberries, almonds, and cashews, I sprinkled some kosher salt on the top of the chocolate before it set. I highly recommend doing this. I do the same thing when I make almond clusters. I don’t use salted nuts and the addition of the kosher salt at the end is a great contrast to the creamy sweet chocolate.

Cranberry Almond Cashew Bark

Ingredients:
5–6 ounces Chocolate Chips (milk or dark)
1/2 tablespoon vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
Dried Cranberries
Whole Natural Almonds
Cashew Halves & Pieces
Kosher Salt

Directions:

  1. Place chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler—I use a small metal bowl set inside a small pan filled with a little water—over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the chips melt being careful to not get any water in the bowl.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup each of the almonds, cashews, and dried cranberries.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture onto a rimmed cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with a spatula.
  4. Top the bark with a few more cranberries, almonds, and cashews and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  5. Refrigerate to set. Break apart set bark with a butter knife.

Notes:
5–6 ounces of chips is about half a bag. I just eyeball it and don’t worry about measuring out the chocolate.
Dry off the bottom of the bowl you melt the chocolate in before pouring the mixture onto the baking sheet so no water drips into the chocolate.

Sunday Pinup

It seems that the entire internet has gone Pinterest crazy and I for one cannot blame them. The visual bookmarking beauty of Pinterest speaks near and dear to my creative side. I have a tendency to pin a lot of recipes, stuff to do with the kids, and art and design inspiration.

Even better than pinning is actually making the things I’m pinning.

So, I thought I would share a few of my pins this week that I’m eager to try or found just plain cool.

TARDIS!! I’m currently mourning the imminent passing of Doctor 10—one episode to go—and I’m sure this adorable bag would help ease the pain a bit.

Source: etsy.com via Holly on Pinterest

I will probably never do exactly this craft since we are not Altoid eaters in this house but I’m sure I could find another cute house for these sweet little mice.

Source: mmmcrafts.blogspot.com via Holly on Pinterest

Frozen Strawberry Mojitos? I’m willing to give them a try despite the fact that this drink screams summer and we have snow in Northwest Ohio this week.

Source: heatherross.squarespace.com via Holly on Pinterest

We have everything needed to make these this week already in the house. This pleases me.

Source: kayotic.nl via Holly on Pinterest

Yum. Nothing more needs said.

Source: bakedperfection.com via Holly on Pinterest

What did you pin this week? I’d love it if you would share your favorite Pins in the comments!

Giggling Babies Make Everything Better

There is just something about a happy, giggling baby that warms my heart.

It’s infectious really.

I have a hard time not smiling and laughing right along with my children when they get the giggles—regardless of my mood moments before.

Having a bad day? Watch this. Having a good day? Watch this anyway and make it even better.

When you are done and smiling from the joy Huggy Baby exudes during our tickle fest, head over to the Curvy Girl Guide where I’m talking about creating structure in my chaotic life.

Happy Birthday To You!

Today is my Dad’s birthday.

He is celebrating his 59th. The fact that this is his last year as a 50-something seems almost impossible to me. For some reason my parents fall into this category of being perpetually in their late 40s or early 50s. Which is ridiculous since I’m 35. If I’m getting older they certainly are.

But… they have this air of youthfulness about them.

For my dad it probably has a lot to do with the fact that he still loves to hunt. He still loves his rock ‘n’ roll. He just refuses to grow old.

It is pretty spectacular.

I hope that’s hereditary.

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Happy Birthday Dad!