cooking & recipes motherhood

Baking Delicious Memories

Making delicious memories. on 365 Project

One of my favorite childhood memories is baking peanut butter cookies with my grandmother. She taught me everything I know about baking (and crafting and marrying men who are awesome cooks). But baking peanut butter cookies with grandma was always my favorite activity to share with her growing up. I can still remember her teaching me the infamous “criss cross pattern” for the first time, the tips and tricks to make the pattern come out perfectly – it was my favorite part and they are still my favorite kind of cookie, too.

I made these for Bunco tonight and purposely made them while the kids were awake so my oldest could learn the criss cross technique – I figure at nearly five years old, he’s definitely old enough to be learning these kinds of things and he did a great job! I love the idea of passing these little memories down to my kids, sharing the things I loved as a child so that they can hopefully become treasured memories for them, too, someday.

Times have changed since I was a kid. I have taken up the habit of using baking mixes at least 50 percent of the time and peanut butter cookies in my opinion are a great recipe to use a mix with as I think they come out almost exactly like my grandmother’s from scratch recipe and we don’t have to use up all that peanut butter to make them. As long as you have that criss cross pattern, it’s all good in my book!

books & reading reviews

I Read: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen This book caught my eye immediately and I knew I had to read it, knew I would adore it. Of course, I’m already a huge fan of Anna Godbersen after devouring her Luxe series and I was eager to read the first installment in her newest series which takes place in the roaring twenties.

By the summer of 1929, when the weather was just getting warm enough that girls could exhibit exactly how high hemlines had risen, Prohibition had been in effect for so long it had ceased to bother anyone much. The city had a speakeasy per every fifty souls, or so the preachers liked to exclaim on Sundays, and sweet-faced girls from the hinterlands were no longer blinded by wood alcohol, for the real stuff had become plenty easy to get. The Eighteenth Amendment had converted us all to grateful outlaws.

-from the prologue of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

There were so many things that I loved about this book. It deftly rotates between the stories of the three main characters – Cordelia, Letty and Astrid – and presents each character in an honest light that is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. You find yourself rooting for all three characters regardless of their flaws while daydreaming about olden times. Historic New York is described in such beautiful detail from the gorgeous gowns to the older architecture and way of life.

I also really liked the contrast of life in the 20’s compared to life at the turn of the century in the Luxe novels. Having read both it really allows you to see just how quickly life changed in just twenty short years – all of the new liberties that girls growing up in the 20’s had compared to their mothers and grandmothers. To then think about how much life has changed even since kind of blows my mind. I don’t think the girls from the Luxe series could have even imagined how much life would change in such a short time.

I love historical fiction and have been a fan of a lot of the new young adult novels coming out and this book combines both of those genres brilliantly. I wish I could learn all of world history through Anna Godbersen’s eyes as she is such a talented story teller and really makes these times come alive in her writing. And like her previous books, Bright Young Things boasts all of the same mystery, intrigue and suspense that you’ll come to expect in her books from the beginning to the cliff hanger of an ending. Can’t wait to read book two!

If you loved the Luxe series or are a fan of historical fiction, you won’t want to miss this new series! Bright Young Things was a fantastic, indulgent and addictive read from beginning to end!

family fun memes & carnivals

Project Simplify: I'm Cleaning Out My Closet

Project Simplify @ Simple MomSo I’ve mentioned Simple Mom’s little 5 week Project Simplify, correct? Every week she’s going to tackle a different area of the home and invite everyone reading along to do the same, blog about it and maybe win some fun prizes. Since we’re moving next month, I thought this would be a great chance to declutter before we start packing so we won’t have to move around junk that we don’t need.

This week is all about the wardrobe (click here for more information, inspiration, tips and such) which was so perfect and timely because the day before I read this, I actually went through my “unmentionables” drawer and got rid of all the holey socks and took a little mental inventory of things I need and things I already have too much of. My sock drawer has never looked so pretty and I was eager to say the same thing about the rest of my wardrobe, so Tuesday afternoon I purged while the kiddos “napped” (do your kids actually nap anymore? It’s slowly turning into a pretense here).

my closet before the purge

So this is what my closet looked like before I tackled it. Lots of mismatched hangers and feeble attempts at being organized, but mostly just a mess of clothing that doesn’t really fit and a whole bunch of things I never wear. After much modeling of ridiculous outfits and things I haven’t worn since I bought them, haven’t worn since I was pregnant or breastfeeding, etc. here’s what my closet looks like now:

holy tiny wardrobe batman

I’m a take no prisoners kind of declutterer. I don’t really hestitate to send something packing once I decide that the clutter’s gotta go. I secretly adore the purge and feel liberated to see all that stuff head to the donation bin. The first thing I noticed while going through the closet is that I actually have some really nice stuff and a lot of it I might never notice because it was hiding in a big pile of ugly before. I also found some old favorites that I had been ignoring last spring because they were tough to nurse in, etc. This spring I plan to rock some old favorites and I won’t have a problem finding them now.

I got rid of a lot of skirts and dresses that I bought because they were gorgeous but never wore because they looked ridiculous on me. I’m learning to say that that’s okay and it’s not my fault and my body can only change in so many directions (i.e. I may be skinny someday, but I’m never going to be tall, etc.) I’d rather have two dresses that look rocking than twelve that just look meh.

like shoe shopping for free

Something else I found while cleaning my closet? Shoes I forgot I still owned. They were all covered up by those ridiculous dresses I was never going to wear. I tried them all on, too and found out that my Cheap Shoe Buying practices of yester year are even more uncomfortable now. So I tossed out the dingy, uncomfortable shoes and kept the two that looked / fit the best, though to be honest, I want to replace them, too at some point.

I love getting rid of stuff

Much better. You know what else I got rid of?

no more WIRE hangers (or plastic "bought it with the shirt" hangers that tell everyone how fat I used to be)

I was thrilled to be able to get rid of all these mismatched hangers that came with shirts that are too big for me now. Buh bye evidence that I used to wear XL shirts. I won’t miss you.

much better

Thanks to my rocking purging ways, this small assortment of mostly matching plastic hangers were plenty. I’ll probably pick up another pack for any future clothing purchases so I won’t be tempted to use the store hangers anymore.

I also went through my dresser – don’t think I flaked out after the closet, I’m serious when I say every piece of clothing was touched that day. Want some before and afters of the dresser, too? If not – go read something else. Momma’s not done yet!

This was my pajamas drawer, also known as that big pile of comfy stuff. It was a disaster area. I just grabbed whatever was on top. Truth.

now organized pj drawer

I got rid of the stuff that was uncomfortable, way too big, way too small and then organized what was left into “pretties” ; “work out clothes – yes I actually own work out clothes – notice them and use them Jen!” ; “comfy but also cute” and “slippers and comfy socks that rarely get used but I’m keeping for now anyway because they don’t take up much space”

My goal is for all of my clothes to be cute or pretty, whether they are “comfy” or not. That’s getting closer and closer to reality. Huzzah.

tshirt drawer before

This is my t-shirt drawer.


Not much happened here, but I did get rid of a few of my older t-shirts that were looking a little dingy. We don’t need dingy. I also made a slightly better attempt at folding as things went pack into the drawer.

lastly the jeans drawer

Last but not least, my jeans drawer. This drawer made me kind of sad because:

the ones that fit

Apart from the pants I was wearing when I took this picture, these two were the only other ones that fit. (and a pair of dressy capris not shown)

after for now

So this is what’s left for now, until I lose enough weight to squeeze into the rest, which I put in the bottom drawer that I never use because it’s so low:

see you soon skinny clothes

When I opened that drawer by the way, I found an army of fat people clothing that made me feel really good to get rid of. I’d much rather hold on to skinny person clothing while I work on losing the weight. By the way, we’re only talking one or two clothing sizes smaller here – not like Size 6’s or anything. I’m being realistic here about what I’m keeping. As for the stuff I’m getting rid of:

hello cathartic purging

My wardrobe might be teensie tiny now, but all this stuff was hiding the good stuff so I’m thrilled to be rid of it. Plus now when I pout and whine that “I have nothing to wear!” my husband can look at my closet and see that I speak the truth.

To reward myself for all my hard work of actually doing chore like stuff at naptime instead of lounging around watching iCarly reruns like I normally do, once I finished my hard work, I turned on the tv for half an hour before the kids woke up and enjoyed this:

a well deserved treat

I can’t go too hog wild, I am trying to lose weight after all. The Skinny Drawer is beckoning me, you know.

Are you purging this week with Simple Mom? Let me know in the comments section so I can come over and cheer you on!