Saturday, March 30, 2013

The love you bake

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen what I can only describe as the creation of a woman on a mission.


If you want your cookies to turn out *exactly* like mine, you need some equipment. The initial cost outset of these is a little daunting, but I PROMISE it will be worth it.

I do three sheets of cookies at a time because my AMAZING oven has an incredible convection bake feature. (I read the manual.) Even doing them one sheet at a time will yield incredible results.

Equipment list:
- Pyrex Cookie Sheets (You can use any cookie sheets you like, but I LOVE these ones.)
- Size 16 scoop. (It's roughly 1/4 cup per scoop.)
- Silpat, or or other non-stick silicone baking mat

Embedded Recipe Image (Unsupported on IE 7 and earlier)
Browned butter chocolate chip cookies with a Nutella swirl and sea salt


  1. 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  3. 2 teaspoons salt
  4. 2 cups (1 lb) butter, browned
  5. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  6. 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 4 large eggs
  9. 1/2 cup Nutella
  10. 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  11. Grey sea salt


  1. Brown butter in a medium-sized saucepan, where you can see the color change. Brown until the butter is fragrant and nutty, but not black. Immediately pour into a 2-cup glass/Pyrex measuring cup to cool.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels
  3. Using a butter knife, gently swirl in the Nutella.
  4. Put the dough in the refridgerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F, or 325F if you're convection baking 3 sheets at a time.
  6. Using a size 16 scoop , scoop 6 cookies per cookie sheet onto a silicon baking sheet (like a SilPat). Sprinkle each rounded mound LIGHTLY with Sea Salt.
  7. BAKE for 11 to 15 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheets.
Search, share, and cook your recipes on Mac OS X with SousChef!

Any leftover dough gets scooped onto wax paper on a cookie sheet, goes in the freezer overnight, then gets put into a ziplock bag with baking directions written on it in Sharpie.

(If you go this route, let them thaw for 1 - 1 1/2 hours before you bake them for best results. Or you can do what KidBrother Sam does and eat them as cookiesicles.)

Because in the end, the love you make is equal to the stuff you bake. Right?

**EDITED TO ADD: forgotten chocolate chips and a Pinterest-friendly photo, should you be inclined to pin.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Danger Dilemma

Spring has arrived in the Bay Area. One of the many great things about this point in Genevieve's development is that we can take her outside and let her run, jump, and explore.
"Behold, all this. My Mousedom!"
The problem with this is that she wants to run, jump, and explore. You see my dilemma? Fortunately, Andrew is a roughing-it, rock climbing, camping type. And this is where we run into what I affectionately call the "Danger Dilemma".

Andrew is a brilliant man, and an incredibly loving father, but crazy hormones and irrational fears about danger lurking EVERYWHERE have led to some come to Jesus sane, logical, and loving conversations with my mother about differences in parenting technique, which we bonded over.

Very distinguished with her walking stick
Conversation #1 - The Stick
Me: I can't believe he's letting her play with a stick. A stick! She's going to impale herself.
Mom: It's not a sharp stick. He's right there.
Me: But! It's a STICK!
Mom: What do you think children have been playing with for THOUSANDS of years? Now drink your coffee.

Dressed for action.
Conversation #2 - How high is too high?
Me: Do you think he's throwing her too high?
Mom: No.
Me: It seems really high.
Mom: Genevieve seems to be enjoying herself.
Me: I think I should say something. He's throwing her above the roofline.
Mom: [Pause.] I think you should drink your coffee.

Maybe not *quite* the roofline, but still.
Despite my worries, I stand back and watch the two of them have a good time outside, occasionally venturing out to take a few pictures and steal a few kisses. Andrew and Genevieve have their own relationship, outside of me, and it's a pleasure - mostly - to observe it from a short distance.
Her giggles say, "Fly me HIGHER, Daddy!"
I'm sure I'm not the first, and I won't be the last mom to worry. But, kids need a little danger, right?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Magic kisses

When Genevieve was but a wee mouse, when she would bump herself and cry, Mom told me to kiss the boo-boo, then say, "All better!" I'm sure this was to make both Genevieve and me feel better, but it didn't seem to work.

Then, like with so many things in parenting (and life), all of a sudden, it DID. She bumped her head, I kissed, and BAM! Tears stopped. All better!

"Behold!" I announced loudly, "I have arrived as a Real MomTM. My kisses have magical healing powers!"
A kissy montage
I basked in the glory of my newfound power. All of the groundwork I had laid had come to fruition. I was reaping what I had sown! I am MAMA, hear me give noisy, magic kisses!

And then, in a moment of incredible productivity and grace, I banged my forehead on a lamp. Sharply. I hissed (in lieu of saying some Very Bad Words), and put my hand on my forehead.

Genevieve looked at me with Great Big Eyes. I knelt down, pointed at the offending spot, and said, "Kiss it and make it better?" 
Without a moment of hesitation, Genevieve kissed *my* boo-boo. My heart swelled at her empathy, as I announced, "All better!"

What you do will come back to you as a parent. It might take a while, but the payoff is totally worth it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Measure in leaves

I bound off Genevieve's Playful Stripes cardigan while she was napping a few weeks ago.

It's exhilarating finishing the knitting on a sweater. Especially a little sweater. But really, the best part is what comes AFTER the bindoff.

Playful Stripes cardigan by Alana Dakos
Casting on ANOTHER tiny sweater.

Cascade cardigan, by Raya Budrevich.

This sweater practically knit itself. "Just one more leaf!" I would think to myself, knitting frantically during naptime, after she was in bed at night, until my eyes started to cross.

It has to be some seriously good knitting for me to pass up on sleep these days. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed knitting this sweater. I even enjoyed *blocking* it. (MADNESS!)

The yarn (Cascade Greenland) is delightfully round, robust, and substantial, which makes it an utter joy to knit with. It's the next best thing after working with my own handspun.

While I was working on it, I couldn't help but think of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I've had memorized for some time now. "On Sunday, he had one nice green leaf, and he felt much better."
Nice green leaves
Then I went all If You Give a Mouse a Cookie on this sweater. I dug through my button box and found caterpillars, but it wasn't enough. We found oranges, grapes (not entirely accurate, but close enough), strawberries, a butterfly, and apples (with the help of a friend). I also found grosgrain ribbon with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I remember reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to KidBrother Sam, when he was little; how he used to say "cal-i-pittar", how we would count all of the fruit and poke our fingers through the holes. And now we're sharing this with Genevieve, and creating new memories.

It's not quite finished, but I am already so excited about this sweater. It will be something beautiful that reminds her of one of her favorite books.

I guess, sometimes you measure love ... in leaves.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

An avalanche of amazing

We've all heard the stories. You know, the ones where a beloved friend (or member of the family) utters a phrase and that's the moment that the resident toddler chooses to parrot back what they've heard?

A week and a half ago, I was fretting that Genevieve wasn't really talking. Sure, she was babbling up a storm, but she wasn't using very many *words*.

"She is FINE," Mom assured me. "Once she starts talking, she'll never stop."
"My soul, my heart..."
In the following few days, an avalanche of amazing things happened.

First, it was time for a snack. Clear as a bell, "Apple." Then, pointing at Niki, "Dog." On the changing table, "Diap[er]! Diap[er]!" Asking for Mom, "Gramma!" The icing on the cake? She called my dad by  his special name- the one that translates to "Daddy Darling". (I don't need to tell you that he turned into a great big Grandpa puddle.)
One, two, three, WHEEEE!
And then Mom proved what I had been reading about in The Scientist in the Crib (which is SUCH a good book), about passive language. According to Dr. Gopnik (and common sense, once you think about it), you understand language before you can speak it.

Genevieve slipped out of one of her shoes. Mom asked Genevieve to please bring her the shoe so Mom could help her put it back on. Except that Mom didn't ask her in English.

Genevieve looked at Mom, picked up her shoe, walked over to Mom, handed her the shoe, then gave the "up" signal. Message received, understood, and responded to.

(For the record, Mom was super smug. And rightly so.)

Then, on Saturday, the most incredible thing happened.

We were having lunch at the table, Genevieve looked over at Andrew and repeated a phrase we've all said a million times, clear as a bell.

"I love you."

Not "luh dada". Just, "I love you".

I was so overjoyed, I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. And then it would tap dance on the table. This is one of those Mommy Moments where you forget about all the hard things, and all you can do is be in the moment and soak up all those incredible, amazing, oxytocin-enhanced feelings.

I looked to Mom and Andrew. They heard it, too. And she said it again, later. And again, after asking for "Gramma" when Genevieve was getting ready for bed.

Mouse wrestling
I was right; It's just like the song says. Children will listen.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Stitches therapy

Stitches West was great this year. It's great every year, but this year was different. Special. Amazing.

It was a family affair; Genevieve's whole entourage was there. We had toys. We had "chewies". We had our trusty stroller and our diaper bag. We had our bag lunches and healthy snacks. We had knitting aunties available at every turn. We were ready for anything.

The convention center had plenty of room to run and play, without being underfoot.

Piggyback, with extra pigtails
And a few quiet places for DangerMouse to get her beauty sleep.

Napping at Stitches, under the Love Blanket
Andrew was incredible. He did most of the DangerMouse wrangling all weekend, and I got to take the two classes like we had planned.

It was incredible. I took Lily Chin's Short Rows for Bust Darts class, which took all of the mystery out of short rows and replaced it with completely accessible math. I took notes. I participated. I learned. For three incredible hours, I was a Knitter.

Andrew, as you may have guessed (and are not surprised AT ALL to find out) surpassed all expectations. He had the help of a friend's charming daughter (Dr. Adorable) who was more than happy to play with Genevieve, and it was obvious that Genevieve thought that Dr. Adorable was the cat's meow.

I got to spend a lot of time with friends who I don't get to see nearly enough of, which was the best part. It recharged my batteries in a way that I desperately needed. It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air after being cooped up too long. But better, because there was knitting.

I did a little shopping, and I added to the "good intentions" pile. You know, the one where you buy materials to make stuff for your friends' kids, but sometimes you don't have time to follow through? That's the "good intentions" pile.

A two-sided blanket to go with this one.
What was the most remarkable was what I'm referring to as the "Stitches Miracle". In over a year, Genevieve had only slept through the night once or twice. During Stitches, something happened. With the exception of one night, she has slept through the night every night during (and since). Clearly, this kid has whatever the knitting equivalent of midi-chlorians are.

It has been amazing. I'm feeling almost well-rested. The sun shines a little brighter, Genevieve's laughter is more joyous, and I'm feeling better than I have in ages.

I've always thought that observing traditions is incredibly important. Observing knitting traditions are even more important when you're raising a future knitter.