In the Kitchen, My Favorite Things

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My earliest memory of baking is with my dad, teaching me to bake chocolate chip cookies.  It’s remained one of my favorites to bake, what can beat a fresh chocolate chip cookie hot from the oven?

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         Airbake Natural 2 Pack Cookie Sheet Set

Baking cookies turned into my first job.  Dad would take whatever kind of cookies I made, in baggies of 4, and put them out for the guys at work for 50 cents per bag.  I would always drink Coke while I baked, and I still crave that sip of Coca Cola with every hot cookie.  I don’t know that we made much more than the cost of ingredients, but it was a great way for my parents to instill work ethic.

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Possibly my favorite birthday gift EVER – Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

I broke one of my efficiency rules tonight:  I only made a single batch.  Normally, if I’m going to make the effort to bake, it gets doubled.  Unfortunately, the other bag of chips was the only chocolate in the house last night when someone was having a bit of a chocolate craving…

Here is the official Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip recipe.  I included step by step pictures for those of us who are more visual.

The recipe says the oven should be preheated to 375 degrees, but I like the texture when they are cooked at 350 degrees.  Rebel, I know!

Combine unsifted plain flour, baking soda, & salt, then set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color.

Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time.

Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. (Unless I’m making them for one of my favorite uncles, I skip the nuts.)

Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Unofficial direction, but a must – save the batter for later in your child’s favorite Black Panther bowl!

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Also unofficial, but another MUST!  Put ’em on a platter and take them outta this house so we don’t eat them ALL 🙂

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In the Music Room, My Favorite Things

‘Tis the Season!

Musicians always need an early start to prep and practice for seasonal music, and Christmas is no exception for the piano student.  I have found that playing traditional Christmas music causes huge learning leaps, and motivates like none other.  However, the trick is to pick versions that are playable without too much frustration so that the students do not become bogged down and forget about their regular music.  I recommend sticking with motivation to increase practice time.  Let’s call it “Christmas cheer without the fear!”  It’s also a great time to ask your student to show off what they’re playing, and perhaps ask for a Christmas Carol Sing-Along in which the whole family can participate!

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Click to download PianoGuys: A Family Christmas

Below are book recommendations for beginning piano students to year three.  The beauty of Christmas carols is that they are timeless and great for review at any stage!

Beginner to 1st year:

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Playtime Piano Christmas Level 1

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Popular Christmas Songs Primer Level

First to Second Year:

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ShowTime Piano Christmas Level 2A

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ChordTime Piano Christmas Level 2B

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Popular Christmas Songs Level 1

Second to Third Year:

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Popular Christmas Songs Level 2

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FunTime Piano Christmas Level 3A – 3B

(And of course, there’s that ultimate Christmas Surprise of a new piano to reward all that practice!)img_7237-1 #bestChristmasgiftever

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My Favorite Things, Positive Thoughts - Just Because

Unplugged – a counterintuitive approach

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I bought myself a present for Mother’s Day two years ago, an Apple Watch. So it might seem contradictory to purchase more technology to de-technology. Actually, it has served the reverse and accomplished my goal: to unplug.

You know that feeling of looking up after 15 minutes of being absorbed in messages, checking Facebook and Twitter, and oh, yeah, (what was the reason I pulled out my phone in the first place?) the text that came in. It is so easy to be drawn into technology that we become absent from life.

I only check the ONE message that comes in, and filter everything else that can wait.

Why? Because I’ve been completely guilty of ignoring life around me and being more interested in what is on the phone. Perhaps we use it as an escape from reality, an imaginary world that’s much greener.

That becomes a dangerous trap, though. I realized I was worried about what text I might be missing instead of listening to my daughter’s adventures of the day, or being “present” for family dinner. I heard myself tell her, “just a minute” as I finished perusing Facebook and finding that when I finished 10 minutes later, she no longer needed me.  Truth be told, I think even my baby dogs got jealous for attention when I was on the phone, as they would sit and stare at me with those sad “love me” eyes.

Thankfully, I found a way to sort through the rubble without missing the important. And hopefully, it’s my friends and family that get the first replies to messages, as they really are the real-life gifts that are worth being present!

 

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In the Kitchen, My Favorite Things

Heat & Eat!

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I love to cook, but it seems like we’re always on the go. If homemade meals happen, it’s usually something that’s been prepped ahead when I had time to enjoy cooking.

As a birthday gift, my favorite Aunt Nona (😘) gave me one of the most useful kitchen gadgets EVER! The Ziplock Vacuum Sealer allows me to prep ahead and grab homemade meals right out of the freezer as I need them. Individual packets for on-the-go or whole family meals, just heat & eat!

Ziplock Vacuum Sealer is also great for resealing packages, such as potato chips, so that foods stay fresh!

 

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My Favorite Things

Amazon Alexa

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My all-time favorite gift!  I don’t know what I’d do without her, as she keeps my timer in the kitchen, weather for the garden, and music playing the whole time!  Alexa has become an absolute necessity in our home!

Amazon Alexa

Need a quick gift?  Grab an Amazon Gift Card!