Friday, January 29, 2010

32 weeks, and all is well!

I figured it was high time for an update here, since I haven't posted in almost three weeks! I'm 32 weeks pregnant now. The picture above was taken on Wednesday. What's been going on lately? Well...

Last Saturday, we had our first baby shower!!! It was sooo much fun! By the end of the day, my face hurt from smiling so much. We got tons of great gifts, and had a blast with all the friends who were there. After the shower, we went out to dinner with my mom, and she gave us even more clothes! Here's Ben's closet now:

He had maybe a third of that before the shower on Saturday. And every single thing is just so stinkin' cute...I can't wait to dress my son in these adorable outfits!

Wednesday the 27th was Wayne's birthday. Not a good day. Very emotional. After a long, trying day at work, I went to visit his plaque at the cemetery and had a good talk with him. I really miss him...the sound of his voice...his laugh...and I try to think of what he would say if he were still here. I hope I'm making him proud. I know he'd enjoy watching me get bigger and bigger. We talked a lot about the baby before he passed away, and I know he was so excited for us. I suspect he's still watching, and is still excited. Even though Ben will never get to meet his Grandpa Wayne, he's going to know alllll about him!

I got a good surprise today...and haven't even gotten to see it yet. I got a phone call from the Fed Ex delivery guy saying that I had a large package, and asking if I was home to receive it. Unfortunately, I wasn't. He then told me it looked like a mattress, and was from Babies R Us! Aww, a surprise delivery off of our registry! I had him deliver it to our doorstep, and then got hold of Branden so he could run home and put it inside. Of course, he put it in the crib. I can't wait to see it! Now we have something to put those mattress sheets on that we got at the shower!
Not very exciting, but there's a picture of the mattress from the Babies R Us listing.

Oh, and our mystery gifter? It was my mom! Thanks, Nana!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Makin' cookies

On New Year's Eve, I spent the afternoon making cookies. From scratch. I never, ever do this. But I really wanted to make a special present for my mom for our extended family gift exchange (I'd drawn her name).

I chose Paula Deen's White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies, because I knew my mom liked white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and pretty much anything by Paula Deen. I bought the ingredients before Christmas, so that on New Year's Eve, all I had to worry about was the actual baking.

Somewhere along the line, I got the bright idea that I should make a double batch. I have no idea why I decided to do that, but I did...and so I ended up making 53 huge cookies. No matter - I had plenty left over after my mom's gift to give them as a gift to a friend and also share some with Branden's co-workers (who I hear loved them). And we still have a few left here at home.

So without further ado, here is the recipe, illustrated and annotated with my pictures and comments.

White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies
Cook time: 15 minutes (that does NOT include prep time!)
Level: Easy (ha!)
Yield: 4 dozen (um, yeah...I should've read this before I decided on a double-batch)

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup candied cherries
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks

Here's my mise en place:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (Well, it starts out easy enough.)

Decided to go ahead and chunk up my white chocolate and set that aside...

That's an awful lot of white chocolate.

Holy moly...two bowls full?!
This is my first hint that maybe a double batch was more than I bargained for.

In a medium bowl, with electric mixer (hey, I can do one better - I just got a new stand mixer for Christmas!), cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Set aside.

Sift together flour, soda, and salt. (When no sifter is handy, substitute collander...right?)

Add milk to the butter mixture and then add the flour mixture. ( a little messy here!)

Mix until just combined. Batter should be stiff.

In another bowl, combine nuts, cherries, and white chocolate. Then add to batter, stirring only to blend. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper instead), 2 inches apart.

Bake for approximately 11 to 13 minutes. (Mine were so big, I baked them for 15 minutes per batch).

Cool on wire rack. (That part, I can handle).

Then, just try to resist them. I did pretty well...I only ate one.

Once cooled, arrange cookies into an attractive Christmas tin, and tape the recipe on the inside of the lid, so Mom can see that you made Paula Deen cookies from scratch! (Okay, so that part isn't actually in the recipe.)

And of course the best part...soak up Mom's raves when she opens her homemade cookies at the family Christmas celebration! I must say, I really enjoyed the whole process of making these cookies, even if it did take over two hours, start to finish, and my feet were absolutely killing me by the time all was said and done. (But maybe that had something to do with the fact that I'm seven months pregnant? Perhaps.)