chocolate + paper + scissors


What's in a Name? Paper.

Last week, I shared my passion for chocolate.

This week, I’d like to celebrate paper!

Let us not forget about our dear friend, paper. She is the reason we know our history. She provides us with a classic way to communicate. She allows us to express our innermost thoughts and sentiments to those we love. And, we can not only brainstorm new ideas on her – but we can make beautiful creations with her!

I have loved paper since I was old enough to pick up a crayon and scribble. Once I learned to read and write, and I could do so independently and joyfully, the written word became my passion – whether through reading or writing – and has been for the last 30 years. If writing was where I began to get to know my soul, paper became a best friend who helped me get there.

I have an organic list of all things I love about paper, which I’ll be sharing with you over time. Today, however (in the interest of time), I’ll start with just 10 thoughts from my wee years:

1. Treasuring any notepads stashed in my granny’s desk or my mom’s purse + red, navy blue and green Bic marker-like pens

2. Getting very excited about new notebooks – the smaller, the better (Mead’s Steno Notebook pads were the best) and pens – to stash in my tiny purses!

3. Locating stationery at any store, hotel, restaurant, school

4. Discovering beautiful cloth-covered blank books in fourth grade, which I took everywhere!

5. Writing creative stories whenever I could, mostly at home or in the car with my family

6. Always having a left hand covered in erasable ink when writing on notebook paper

7. Starting my first scrapbook in first grade (before scrapbooking was popular)

8. Using paper to write notes to friends, doodle, fold origami – sometimes all at the same time (and getting caught passing a note in third grade)

9. Writing fictional college newspapers (ads and all!) when I was in sixth grade.

10. Always knowing I had a private, quiet place to be, regardless of where I was, as long as I had my journal.

As digital as our culture is now, paper is still present and strong – and I believe it will be for quite some time.

Paper once inspired me - and still inspires me daily.

How has paper inspired you in your past?


Weekend (or Anytime) Breakfast Casserole

This morning I woke up with an extra spring in my step, as I got 11 hours of sleep last night! After reading to our daughter last night, I stayed with her for a moment after lights-out...then woke up two hours later in the same position, glasses still on (has this ever happened to you?). So, I picked myself up and crawled into my bed...and awoke at 7:30 this morning, craving a good, hearty breakfast!

We are a family that often eats breakfast for dinner - it's easy, sometimes lighter (but not always), and pretty inexpensive: all good things. I made this Crescent Roll Breakfast Casserole from Girlfriends on the Go! A Busy Mom's Guide to Make-Ahead Meals a few Sundays ago for dinner, and it was such good comfort food. It was really delicious - and very filling. Since there were obvious ingredients that could be lightened, though, my health conscience and I decided to lighten things up a tiny bit this time.

The beauty of this simple recipe is that you could also add a ton of veggies (spinach, kale, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.), and it would make it even tastier, colorful and healthy. My five year-old daughter has been experiencing some general picky-ness about several things as well as some If-This-Has-Vegetables-In-it-I-Won't Eat-It Syndrome lately, so I reluctantly left out the red bell pepper. After all that, she still wouldn't eat much, so, lesson learned: always keep the veggies in, people! (She gobbled it up last time, truth be told. And our son has loved every bit of it, too.)

This easy recipe will be a favorite for years to come! Thanks to Suzie Roberts for creating and sharing this recipe. I hope you enjoy it and that your weekend is just as yummy.


What's in a Name? Chocolate.

A more accurate title for today's post might be, "Why my blog is named Chocolate, Paper & Scissors" or "Chocolate, Paper & Scissors: What of it?"

I had an epiphany the other day that I should explain the name of my blog in more detail since I feel like it could have multiple interpretations.

In short, chocolate, paper and scissors are three of my very favorite things. In a literal sense, they are tools I use each day to create. In a symbolic sense, they represent three inspirational areas of my life - areas that sometimes overlap. I enjoy looking at life with both literal and symbolic glasses: things are more interesting this way.

Today, I'll begin with the first area: chocolate.

In random order, chocolate...

1. Is one of my favorite foods. It makes me happy!
2. Represents the creative side of my life...the expressive and the lovely.
3. Makes me think of cooking, which has become a necessary art (isn't that redundant?) in my life.
4. Symbolizes good health/balance. Eat a little bit each day!
5. Reminds me of special times with girlfriends.
6. Is something I like to enjoy during my alone time.
7. Represents the relaxing, the leisurely.
8. Often satisfies cravings.
9. Means savoring the delicious.
10. Symbolizes the whimsical, special and celebratory part of life.

I cook with chocolate for my family. I eat chocolate while I'm cooking for my family! It inspires me to take chances and be more creative. The color of chocolate warms me. Eating chocolate makes me feel cozy.

What foods inspire you?


Golden Cinnamon Pumpkin Bars...

I love you. You are the perfect treat. You are decadent, dense, beautiful, brown sugary-sweet and a tiny bit healthy (but no one needs to know this last'll be our secret). Won't you be mine every fall?

Fall is among us – and so are the pumpkins! We took our first trip (of many, I imagine) to a local pumpkin patch yesterday afternoon. Being surrounded by such autumn wonderfulness kept reminding me of my favorite fall treat, Golden Cinnamon Pumpkin Bars. I made a batch last week and froze half - because if I didn't freeze them, I would have eaten all of them by myself. They're perfect for a snack, dessert, and since they're whole-grain - they're great for breakfast, too. If you love pumpkin pie, you're guaranteed to love these.

I'd like to give big props to King Arthur Flour for creating this intoxicating concoction of fall flavors. And, many thanks to Anna over at Cookie Madness for posting this recipe in early 2009! I could eat any food containing pumpkin year-round, but saving these for fall make them more special – and somehow more authentic.

I've posted the recipe below, but you can view the original recipe at Anna's site here, where you'll get to read everyone's fun comments about their obsessions with pumpkin recipes. My only change is using white chocolate chips instead of nuts and cinnamon chips.

Golden Cinnamon-Pumpkin Bars

6 oz unsalted butter (168 grams)
1 1/3 cups packed light or dark brown sugar (280 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla (5 ml)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder (3 ml)
1/2 teaspoon salt (2 ml)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (3 ml)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon cloves, ¼ allspice)
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin (9.5 oz)
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (170 grams) — weight out 170 grams white whole wheat
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9 inch metal pan with cooking spray or line with foil and spray foil.

Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the sugar. Return the bowl to microwave and heat for another 30 seconds or just until it starts to bubble. Let cool until it’s comfortable to touch, then stir in the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and egg. When well mixed, stir in pumpkin. Add the flour, cinnamon chips and nuts or raisins and stir until mixed.

Pour into pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

This makes 2 dozen 2-inch bars.

I'd also like to acknowledge the lovely cake platter on which these treats rest. I received this platter as a birthday gift from my very dear friend Amy, who has impeccable taste with home goods. I was even more amazed when Amy told me that she knew the talented woman who made it! The artist? Katie Reed of Mish Mosh Design. They have beautiful creations, and among their recent selection is some precious hand-stamped jewelry that I have my eyes on...

This cake stand is, by far, my favorite piece in our home because of its versatility and beauty, so you'll probably be seeing it here many more times.

Thanks to all who contributed to this post - you ladies are great!

Now go make some pumpkin bars, sit in a pile of leaves with your loved ones, and enjoy this weekend!


Happy Birthday, Little Budsie.

Today, we celebrated the birthday of our little boy, who was born two years ago today. Two! Because he is known as the "little brother," the "baby boy," - I'm not sure I'm ready for him to grow up. But when I see his growth, his grateful heart, his personality - all the sweet things that become more defined as he gets older: I am more in love each day.

Yes, he is growing more headstrong. He runs from room to room - and when we're outside, he's in his element. Cars, trucks and trains are his game - and playing with his big sister.

Big sister was so excited for his birthday! She spent much time the other day after school wrapping his gift, writing out his card. And today, she decorated birthday cookies for him (since we'll have cake this weekend with family) - and she gave him lots of M&M's and sprinkles! It must be pretty fun to have someone take good care of him like she does.

What a lovely gift in itself, little budsie. Even when you guys have a rough day, she is still crazy about you, even if she won't admit it.

Happy Birthday!


Moments this week

It’s been a lovely week for weather in Texas: fall skies, cooler, drier air, and a breeze that always reminds me that we are not alone – and to be grateful for perfect moments.

In other ways, though, this week has had a couple of not-so-perfect moments for our family, as the stomach bug floating around made its way into our home. My sweet kindergartener, who has managed to escape catching these long-lasting bugs her first five years of life, has been bitten – and has been down and out for four days. It’s hard watching her feel so tired, not being able to keep down much of her tiny meals. How I wish I was one who was sick – so I could take hers away.

It was almost two months ago that our baby boy pushed his chair back (with his chunky legs of steel) and hit the ground – resulting in a concussion and a skull fracture. Miraculously, he was running and playing the next day, and thankfully, his young, growing body has allowed his skull to heal with time. I still shudder at the memory - it's a day I'll never forget.

And today, this same more-independent-every-day boy managed to find some allergy medication of daddy’s, which he decided to try for himself (unsupervised), which gave us another scare! I think he was quite proud that he managed to get the pill out of the pouch – but when he saw the worried look on my face, he immediately teared up. Three calls to poison control, one to our pediatrician and a quick (although unnecessary) trip to the ER, and thankfully (thankfully!) he is fine.

When we become parents, we know these moments are part of the package. Going through them, however, with teary eyes, is a different matter! Although I wish we could wrap our children in pillows and face masks around the clock, we can’t. Moments like these remind me that no parent is perfect, we can always be a little more careful, accidents do happen and that we and our children are given new chances every day: new chances to begin again, new chances to thank God for our blessings and new chances to love and squeeze our children even harder than we did the day before.

I'll let a sweet print of mine by Mary Engelbreit finish my thoughts: