months (maybe years?) ago i marked a recipe for breakfast cookies -- they looked wonderful & i tucked it away. i'm a dessert for breakfast person from way back -- if there's just been a birthday & there's a piece of rich chocolate cake in the fridge, know i'll be diving in as soon as i wake up. but, that's on special occassions. normally, i'm a big believer in breakfast being the most important and nutrient rich meal of the day.
i was taken by the idea of breakfast cookies because they would work so well for our family -- ryan could grab one as he ran out the door in the early morning for a flight. my daughter who has insisted on feeding herself from the very beginning (baby food? no thank you said ellie) could chow down on these while i made my latte. & well, we covered why i would love them.
but as i actually looked at the recipe (it called for 3 sticks of butter, 2 cups of sugar and 4 eggs in 16 cookies...) i realized it wasn't going to nourish us. so, i started playing around with it -- making substitutions, trying to pack as many healthy, flavorful ingredients as i could. batch after batch we've figured out what works for us. i know as they slowly disappear that i've snuck in so many wonderful things, which makes me feel good about the way we're starting our day.
i've been meaning to post this recipe forever, but you see -- i wasn't ever measuring anything. it's not really fitting with the rest of my personality, but i'm a crazy baker. i rarely measure anything & if i do so, it'd not what others might call precise. my friend allison, who had tried many batches, was determined to get the recipe -- so she came over one night and forced me to recipe. while every batch is a bit different, this is what seems to make the cookies we love best:
combine all wet ingredients:
- 1 can pumpkin (can sub or add banana, avocado, pureed sweet potato! we like to stick with pumpkin)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter softened/melted
- 2 eggs
- 2 TBSP flaxseed oil (omega-threes! i've been meaning to try coconut oil)
- 1/3-1/2 cup honey (depending on how sweet you like 'em)
- & 1/3 cup brown sugar
add dry ingredients
- 1 cup+ wheat germ
- 1 cup+ whole wheat flour
- 3 cups+ oats
- ¾ cup almond meal
- ½ cup almond slivers
- ½ cup+ shredded coconut (I use sweetened, but you don’t have to)
- 1/3 cup shredded dried mango
- ½ cup dried cherries or cranberries or combo
- 2 tsp+ cinnamon
you can make lots of substitutions (i can find all these ingredients at my trader joe's!), what’s important is that your mixer is STRUGGLING in the end, these are thick cookies. put big dollaps on a cookie sheet and bake for 18 min+ at 350 degrees (you want the tops to be browned and them to stay together). enjoy!
when i did this post on ellie's favorite books, i promised to share ryan & my favorite books on parenthood. i'm your classic first time mama -- i've been reading like crazy since long before ellie arrived. i've gotten better at the balance along the way (although recently, i had a freak out & stayed up way to late reading an entire book trying to find the "answer" to that phase for ellie ... needless to say it didn't work).
what i mean by balance is this: often you hear "kids don't come with an instruction manual" and of course that's true. but, by the same count, there are a lot of great books out there & you will get the most from them if you don't treat them as prescriptions, but rather find the things that resonate with your kid(s) and how you want to build your family and know this is a long endeavor -- it simply can't all be done today.
i think parenthood can be so overwhelming that when you find a book that resonates with you, you can instantly want the entire book applied in your life or feel like you've already screwed up (i remember when e was seven months old saying to ryan, in one particular exasperated moment, "well, we already screwed this one up, better luck with the next one" ha!). what i've gotten better at is finding books that have some new perspective to offer & not feeling like i have to drink the whole can of koolaide the author is offering in one big gulp -- i can see what works for us now, try a few new things, mark certain passages for when they might work for our family as it grows.
the books above are the ones that have had the most impact on our family -- the ones that have really changed how we approach this journey & that we will be re-reading many times in the years to come. they're all really different, so i'll do my best to explain why we love each one in hopes that maybe one or two meet you where you are. i can also honestly say three of these are books i would have totally loved to read long before i had ellie -- they're just as much about life as they are about parenthood.
in the more memoir/narrative/storytelling genre:
great with child: i've posted about this book before, but it's worth mentioning again. it has become my go-to gift for any pregnant friend. i found nothing more comforting during my pregnancy than reading it. it's a book of letters from a young mother and professor to one of her former students who lost both her parents at a young age & is looking for someone to walk with her as she becomes a mother. these are tender, authentic, wonderful letters. i'm planning on reading it again in the coming months.
night lights: my godmother found a copy for me in a used bookstore months ago & mailed it to me. a collection of stories from a single mother -- this book has all the things i love most: a raw account of motherhood, a mother willing to be bold in her telling of her story, with absolutely beautiful writing. there are these lines that just hang with you -- i remember reading that "small boys become large men in the presence of large men who still care about small boys" and just putting the book down to let the truth of that really soak in.
dude you're going to be a dad: this remains ryan's favorite book -- you can read my full post on it here. i love sending this & great with child to any of our friends who are expecting for the first time. i just gave ryan this book for christmas & will let you know what he thinks about it -- i'm kind of hoping it's a great with child or night lights for guys.
now more practical/scientific books:
simplicty parenting: oh my word i've been reading this book over the past few weeks & have just loved it so much. i struggled with the introduction, but as i got into it, i just found so much that resonated. i describe it as like a really rich piece of chocolate cake -- you really have to read it slowly because there is so much to process -- about your own childhood, the choices you're making in your life as an adult & the way you're going to build your own family. i love all of the really simple truths, the very simple things to implement -- the sections on play, dinner time (especially how powerful candles can be!) and story telling will have a direct impact on the environment at our house, even now. probably only 5 percent of this book really applies to having a 14 month old, but i'm so grateful to be reading it now. the writing is so well done & i just find the science and research behind it really fascinating. this book surely can be overwhelming and takes a really strong point of view, but if you approach it to try to find a few things that will work for your family, i think you could really come to love it. my copy is so marked up & it's the first book i've asked ryan to read in it's entirety (usually i just read aloud sections :)
grace based parenting: as a christian, who wants to raise my kids to know & love God, this book has been my absolute favorite from a faith perspective. i read it while ryan was deployed & literally typed up an outline of the book, with the quotes i found most powerful (i'm a dork, i know). when we went away to charlottesville, we spent a whole afternoon talking this book through. it was one of my favorite conversations we've ever had -- i learned so much about my husband & it brought up so many important things to talk through as we begin our family.
montessori from the start: i went to a montessori school when i was little & have several friends who have their kids in local montessori schools -- it has always been a way of teaching that has made so much sense to me. one of the most important things i've learned about parenthood is that it is so critical you understand childhood development. one of the most frustrating things can be the misunderstandings -- if you don't know where your child is developmentally, it can be so hard to get through the day with them. i read this book right after e was born & just read it again as she turned one and we hit a real rough patch in our days. while we haven't begun to implement a full montessori environment, i've really consistently practiced some of the most basic tenants and seen the impact in ellie's life. it has influenced how i talk to her, how our days go, what i've exposed her to & how i think about her growth.
healthy sleep habits, healthy child: certainly one of my steepest learning curves in the first year of parenthood was really coming to understand sleep -- how it happens, why it is so important, how to make it work for your baby. every new parent i know spends a lot of time thinking about sleep -- and wishing more of it would happen in their house! like childhood development, the thing that has been most helpful to me is to really try to learn about sleep -- it has given me the most comfort, confidence to make the choices to get ellie the sleep she needs and handle the really tough patches that come. this book was by far the most helpful -- again, not prescriptive, just presenting a ton of research and science. it's also really accessible -- i've gone back to it a bunch of times over these 14 months.
oh my word this turned into a long post! clearly i'm passionate about these books -- they feel like dear friends who have been with me on this journey. (for those of you wondering: great with child, night lights & simplicity parenting are the ones i would read even if i wasn't a mama yet!) the next book i'm excited to dive into is this one. now it's your turn -- what have been your favorites? xo
my last update was right before my dad got home from deployment, i started walking, turned one & whole lots more -- i won't dilly dally any longer, here's my news:
so, my dad is home AND i have a flight suit JUST like his (it was actually his when HE was a baby -- can we discuss the fact that my dad was once a baby?! crazy!) the highlight of my day is when he comes in the door -- and i get to try to take all his patches off.
two new ways to have fun: run up & down the paper tower aisle at target (shouting is optional) and sneaking bites of your dad's toast at the diner while you play with half and half packets. good times folks.
also, it turns out used bookstores are actually giant mazes!
most afternoons, no matter how cold or overcast or blustery, ellie & i venture outdoors. we may just wander around our backyard, or go see our favorite boys at the end of the street, or head off to the park, but we get out for some fresh air. (some days, it's the only way we're gonna make it thru the day...)
i'm excited to share some parenting books that have been encouraging, comforting, challenging & inspiring me in a post very soon, but it seems all of them point to how important it is for little ones to explore the great outdoors, at their own pace. last week, i was inspired to step back & capture just how my little one does just that.
we've been reading with ellie since she was a few days old. it's been incredible to revisit some of my favorite books from when i was little (oh jamberry, i still love you!) and discover some really wonderful books that have been written in the years in between.
i know that very soon ellie will have her own favorite books that she insist we read over & over again, but i've found over the past 14 months that there are some books we both really love & keep coming back to. i thought i might share them for all of you who love giving books to little ones in your life. these are the most well read books in our house:
chomp zoo. this was a gift from friend's for e's first birthday & we've read it a gazillion times in the short time it's been in our house -- it's simple, full of wonderful animals & e just loves the pull tab. when the gorilla grins, i do too!
edward the emu. my understanding is this is like good night moon in australia, one of their classic children's books. well this might be the book we have read the most times to ellie -- the ending makes me laugh each & every time. i love how the story flows & ellie always seems so captivated by the illustrations.
jamberry. one of my favorites for all of my life -- who doesn't love saying razamatazzberry?!
a is for apple. a new-to-me book, ellie has really come to love this book since she figured out how to work the flaps. she "reads" this book to herself all the time. a great first birthday present!
olivia saves the circus. olivia fits right in around our house & we especially love how she saves the circus. the storytelling in this series is just wonderful.
time for bed. this book successfully puts all three of us to bed most nights (i always catch ryan yawning when i'm reading this to ellie!). i've loved reading this to ellie most nights of her life.
the little mouse, the red strawberry & the big hungry bear. this too was one of my favorites as a little girl & i still just love the page when the strawberry is disguised! e often points at this one when she's suggesting which one we read next!
we have a few other favorites, but i'll save those for another post. i'd love to hear your very favorites! happy monday, xo.
one final post on e's birthday party -- the invites! to keep the it simple, i designed these in powerpoint (maybe some day i'll have illustrator, but for now this is my go to!). i snagged some white cards & hot pink envelopes at my favorite paper store when ryan & i were in charlottesville, printed them on our home computer & hot glued candles from target on them. a little washi tape to seal them & voila!
it's hard to believe it will be february this week (?!) how did that happen?! i thought it might be fun to share a little valentine's day wish list with y'all (my sweet husband also asked for some ideas!). valentine's day has become a holiday where we give each other one thing for our home/yard -- usually for ryan that means a new tool (lowes is his favorite place to head on the weekend...) & for me it's something that will make our house a bit cozier. here are some ideas:
1. these new cannisters from west elm are so clean & simple, just my style.
2. i've been looking at this weekender bag from everlane for MONTHS, the bag i've been using since high school is falling apart & this looks so sophisticated & grown up!
4. let's be honest, beautiful return address stamps always get me.
5. this has become my favorite cookbook -- the pork loin, fish cakes & turkey chili are oh-so good! (plus kind of a sweet valentine's title!)
6. you're never too old for pink heart stickers.
7. a friend just ordered these shams & i haven't stopped thinking about how beautiful they are!
8. i recently did a big kitchen cleaning/purging -- it was one of the most rewarding cleaning projects i've ever done & i smile each time i open a cabinet (nerd alert). it also gave me a chance to see if there was anything i don't have that i seem to need quite often -- the only thing that made the list was a small cookie sheet. when i have something small to stick in the oven, it's so cumbersome to use & clean our big cookie sheets, this would get a lot of use!
we don't make a big fuss on valentine's day, usually exchange cards (i can never choose just one), a small gift & make a homemade meal together. i know this day gets a lot of grief, but if you think of it as one more day you can be intentional about your marriage/relationship & have a little fun together, i promise it won't be so bad :) & for all your single readers -- plan a dinner party for your closest friends, host a movie night, and then let me know how it goes!