The mash up

I've got about a billion things to write about. Let me give you an outline.

1. Armstrongs came to visit
--A. Valentine's Day
2. Shake n' BAKE
--A. Cowboy Cookies
3. The Olympics
--A. The travel bug
4. Going Green
--A. Seventh Generation/Martha Stewart Clean
5. Bing, bang wala-wala bing bang.

1. This past weekend the Armstrongs made the journey from Hendersonville to the Triangle, braving the sleet and snow, to visit us at our humble abode they helped us move into more than six months ago. Has is really been that long?? Sheesh. Not much has changed, however, other than my ever-changing switcheroos of plants, lamps, candles and other mobile decorative items. 'ey, lay off me, I like to change things up. ;) We went to the Barbecue Joint for supper with Beckie and Collin and surprise guests Graham, Joanna, and Price, after stuffing Graham and Joanna's moving truck and cars full of every last possession in their Durham apartment. We bade the Ashes 'adieu' and sent them on their way as a light snow began to dust our surroundings for the millionth time this winter. That evening, we watched Canada, with glowing hearts, welcome the rest of the world into its country for the 2010 Winter Olympic games. On Saturday, with Mike in from a business trip, we went to Big Ed's and met the Edmondsons for breakfast. After that we went to the mall where I found the best pair of interview pants in the world. (I think I'm going to get the job with these puppies on.) We went back to our apartment and decided to have what Beckie dubbed a "fitness event". Basically, we channelled the Coopers and all went to the gym to work up a sweat before relaxing the evening away with lasagna, blackberry cobbler and the women's moguls. After church and lunch at Pei Wei on Sunday morning, we said our good-byes. Until next time!

A. Isn't he just wonderful?!?! A man who brings flowers home the Friday before Valentine's Day. A rare gem.
2. Shake n' BAKE: no, these are not shake n' bake, break n' bake, boxed n' baked or any other kind of pre-made cookie. These. are home-made. They're called Cowboy Cookies and came to me via a redheaded nursing school friend of mine, Betsy. These are a belated birthday gift, but I'm 99% sure the recipient is not reading this blog, so it's okay that I've just blurted that out. These particular cookies have oats, chocolate chips, craisins, and pecans in them, but the original recipe calls for oats, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, raisins and pecans. Basically, you make an oatmeal cookie and then add whatever you want to it that sounds yummy, hearty, and cowboy-ish.

Here's the recipe:

MIX: 1 cup white sugar (or Splenda), 1 cup brown sugar, 2 sticks butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

ADD 2 eggs to the above mixture.

IN A SEPARATE BOWL sift together 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. ADD to sugar/butter/egg mixture.

ADD 2 cups oats, 1 pack (12oz) semisweet chocolate chips, 1 cup raisins, 1 cup butterscotch chips, 1 small bag chopped pecans.

BAKE at 350 degrees on greased baking sheet for 8-9 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack (otherwise they are so soft and gooey that they will fall apart!)

There you have it. BRIEF ASIDE...The above recipe yields a TON of cookies--great for a bake sale, party, weekend camping trip with friends, etc. In the batch I just whipped up, I only made a half recipe and it gave me about 2 1/2 dozen big cookies. So, adjust accordingly.

ALSO--Once you've added the oats, the amounts and ingredients are basically up to you. Don't like raisins? Leave 'em out. Love white chocolate? Add some creamy chips to the mix. Rather have walnuts than pecans? Go for it. I will say, the original recipe also calls for 12oz of butterscotch chips (as in, equal amounts chocolate and butterscotch) and I found it to overwhelm the other flavors so I only added a cup. Play around with it! Just make sure you keep in mind your favorite cowboy as you lick the spoon or drop the dough onto the baking sheet. :)

PS: I definitely did not sample one of these hot and fresh out of the oven. And it was not very good. Which is why I'm not sad at all that we are sending them to someone else. Not at all.

3. The Olympics. Other than the amazing feats of athleticism, this years Olympic games make me want to go on a second honeymoon. To CANADA!!! Again. For those of you who don't know, Andrew and I were this close to going to Banff in British Columbia, but instead went to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on our week-long trip as newlyweds. The trip was amazing, but the beautiful vistas and snowy mountain tops on the TV are seriously giving us the travel itch. And, boy, do we want to scratch it.

4. Going green. So. I don't know if my proximity to Carrboro, my composting mother, or my California residing sibling is to blame for this, but I've decided to systematically, well, go green, for lack of a better term. No, I'm not going to stop shaving my armpits and exist on tofu and soybeans, but my first step towards assimilation into this emerald tinted life is to phase out my usual household cleaners and opt for more environmentally and well, human life friendly organic cleaners. So far, I've purchased Seventh Generation all-purpose wipes (the fume-free version of Clorox wipes), and Seventh Generation all-purpose cleaner (for more stubborn spots and stains in the bathroom and kitchen). I want to check out Martha Stewart Clean, too, (y'all know how much I love Martha!), but they only sell them at Home Depot and I just don't really go by there very often. But anyway, instead of taking all of our "old" cleaners to the hazardous waste drop-off, we've decided to use 'em up and then make a clean break towards a safer and healthier and cleaner home. Orrrrr, as soon as we can afford it, I will be taking them to the hazardous waste drop-off and totally switching. Basically, we've got no reason not to, and too many reasons to make the switch. I mean, why not? The prices are basically the same as other name-brand cleaners, and they are not every day purchases, so it's an easy switch. It's step one, really. In ten years, though, if I'm eating granola out of my pockets, wearing Birkenstocks and socks, and living in a cave, please, please stage an intervention. I will thank you kindly.

The wala-wala bing bang was just filler. Ta-ta!

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