Currently

Every time I post a currently list, I check back in the archives and make sure it’s been a while since I made one.  And I pray you’re not sitting at home going, Gaaaaaaah, there she goes again with another one of those fill in the blank posts.  But the thing is, I love them.  Thus, your next installment.  Enjoy!

selfie

Also, my selfie game is spot on here, IMO.

Also 60% of this list is related to television.  Just so you know where I’m coming from right now.

Making: serious decisions when it comes to our soon-to-be kitchen.  I gave a lovely woman named Kellie this pin, and told her to go crazy.
Cooking: nothing; but I’m baking up a storm.  Stay tuned right here, dear readers.
Drinking: champagne sangria soon, I hope
Reading: Being Mortal, because Elise and Joanna told me to.
Wanting: to spend some time beating butter, flour, sugar, and eggs together tomorrow.
Looking: into heading up to NYC for a summer class with a coworker.  Any excuse to live there for the week…
Playing: with a new toy I got for work.
Deciding: whether or not to invest in new jeans
Wishing: I could snap my fingers and clean my room, a la my hero.
Enjoying:  my simple weeknight routine: barre, dinner, TV, bed.
Waiting: a couple more weeks for SCL’s birthday extravaganza.  She wants me to make something with cream cheese frosting.  Any ideas, dear readers?
Liking: The amount of (kitchen-related) storage space our new house will have.  Is it possible that there will be a home for all of my…ahem…things?
Wondering: whether this snow will be plowed in time for me to sneak off to a movie (who wants to guess which one?).
Loving:  Pure Barre.  I go three or four times a week, and I can do push ups for real (for probably the first time ever), and it’s amazing.
Pondering: the amount of brain space I need to read.  I have a much harder time sticking with a book when I have a swirl of other events going on in my life.  But in the summer I can put one away each day.  Go figure.
Considering: staying in bed all day.
Watching : Jane the Virgin, which my friend Kristen and I got into after Gina Rodriguez won the Golden Globe a couple of weeks ago.  Also Mozart in the Jungle, John Adams, and New Girl.
Hoping:  for snow days, while at the same time, not wanting snow to hold up our construction
Marveling: at my zen-like state over this renovation (she said as it had only just begun).  I know deadlines will get pushed back.  I know the weather will thwart our plans.  And I know there is nothing I can do about it.
Needing: I can’t think of anything I need right now.  What a fabulous feeling.
Smelling: Snow.  It’s colder than cold, but I cracked the window to breathe in the snow anyway.
Wearing : all the new Beyond Yoga pants (which is such a surprising color choice for me) and my grey Anthro cardigan.  I can’t get enough of them.
Following : I Have This Thing With Floors, We Never Met, and Reese Witherspoon on Instagram
Noticing: that it’s a rare morning when I wake up and don’t feel the need for coffee.  I’m officially addicted.
Knowing: that belting out some of the world’s best ballads at the top of my lungs while driving up and down 95 is good for my health.
Thinking: about how much clutter I’ve amassed in this small space in which we’re currently entrenched.
Feeling: excited about the snow day ahead!
Admiring: people who enter into social settings with nothing but enthusiasm.  Trying to be those people.
Sorting: Laundry.  Always.
Buying : nothing!  Trying super-hard not to spend anything right now.
Getting:  a ton of books in on hold at the library.  This one and this one, in particular.
Bookmarking: kitchens!  Lots of them.  On Houzz.  Which I don’t find as fun as Pinterest.
Disliking: that I completely forgot to tune into Gone With the Wind during TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar.  Praying I don’t make the same mistake with To Kill a Mockingbird on the 18th.
Opening: valentines from all the little people in my life
Giggling: over SNL40.  I know there are a lot of haters, but it had its moments!
Snacking: on conversation hearts – but only the green and orange ones.
Coveting :  cookbooks.  I haven’t bought one since at least last May and there are so many I’m waiting to click purchase on as soon as our kitchen island becomes a reality (which will likely be this May).
Wishing: for a magical, and perhaps nonexistant amount of snow, that lets me off work for two days, but still allows me time to work out and drive around town.
Helping: plan a lunch for 80 this weekend.  Wish me luck?
Hearing:  The Simpsons on in the background here, while my husband gets ready for Better Call Saul.  I’d tell you I watch it, but I really just glance up from the laptop in between violent scenes.

Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

One of my soon-to-be-neighbors is a health coach.  She recently found out I have a blog.
GULP.
I told her to tread carefully once she finds my little corner of the internet.  This blog is all sugar and no nutrition lately.  But as people keep having birthdays, and I keep not having a kitchen to call my own, that’s how it’s going to be for a spell.  Besides, chocolate oreo cupcakes are some of the best yet.  They’re definitely three-step cupcakes, as they involve a Nutella drizzle garnish, but they don’t feel quite as intensive as other three-step cupcakes.  If you chop your Oreos accordingly, the frosting has big chunks of both cookies and cream swirled throughout.  The only negative I can find with these is that the recipe makes 12.  I’d definitely double it next time.
oreo cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Oreo Frosting

  • 1 (2 sticks) cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 1/2 (about 18 whole Oreos) cups crushed Oreos

For Garnish

  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 24 (12 whole Oreos cut in half) half Oreo cookies

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer  on medium speed, beat eggs and sugar for about 2 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add the butter and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for about 1 minute, or until well blended. Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed until blended.  Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 the way full with cupcake batter. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Mix softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Increase to high-speed and beat for 3 minutes.

Place about 18 whole Oreos into a storage baggie, and using a rolling pin to crush Oreos. Fold in chopped Oreos into vanilla frosting.

Frost cooled cupcakes by using a cookie scoop or knife.

For the garnish:

Place Nutella into a storage baggie with a small hole cut at one end or piping bag to drizzle on top of cupcakes. Cut 12 whole Oreos in half, and place one half on each cupcake. Enjoy!

Deep, Dark, Chocolate [olive oil and sea salt brownie cookies]

These.  Cookies.

olive oil sea salt brownie cookies.

Per usual, I pinned them ages ago, and way too much time passed between the pinning and the making.  AGOMYR and I have an affinity for sweets sprinkled with sea salt, and these are my current favorites in that department.  I made them with the darkest cocoa powder, and Ghiradelli chips.  They were indecently decadent.

To make 2 dozen, you will need:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I tend to be one who laughs at the amount of chocolate chips, and then adds more.  This is plenty for those who like their cookies packed with ‘em.)

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the olive oil and sugar and mix until well combined.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one.
  • Add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt and beat until a dough forms – it should be the consistency of a thick brownie batter.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda into the hot water. Add dissolved baking soda and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  • Refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Use a cookie scoop to scoop out heaping tablespoons onto your prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are set.
  • Let cool completely on the baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Weekend Stories [cookies and cream rice krispie treats]

I kept my January calendar extremely empty.  January was about work, and working out, and not much else.  That’s a lie.  January was also about watching TV.  But otherwise, January was a blank slate on which to start the year.  This past weekend however, I started coming out of my cocoon to see what 2015 has to offer.

cookies and cream rice krispie treats.

This weekend I met up with some college friends.  I ordered a mimosa, because brunch, and got to hold a cute, squishy baby.

This weekend I watched two movies.  Boyhood and This is Where I Leave You.  Both fantastic, both for different reasons.  You know that Pinterest-y quote about looking back someday and realizing the little things were the big things?  That’s Boyhood.  And This is Where I Leave You is great for anyone whose family puts the fun in dysfunctional.

This weekend I took 3 days off from Pure Barre.  That’s a pretty big deal, but there was a little voice in the back of my head that told me I needed the rest.  I slept as late as I wanted for the first Saturday since I can remember, and it felt so good.  The best part is I’m itching to get back to the barre this afternoon.

This weekend I volunteered to serve dinner to some DC folks in need of a meal.  My husband asked if I had ever done something like that before, and I realized that in years of volunteering, I hadn’t.  It was a wonderful experience, and I am excited to have a couple similar dinners on the calendar for February.

This weekend I got to spend time with people who I’ve gotten to watch grow into older people who are kind, funny, loving, and generous.  They make me so incredibly happy.

This weekend I got paid the best compliment by my friend, K.Reza.  (Who I don’t think has gotten a shout out yet on A Glass of Milk.  K.Reza, it’s long overdue).  She told me my Rice Krispie Treat game was on lockdown.

cookies and cream rice krispie treats.

To make Cookies and Cream Rice Krispie Treats for 16, you will need:

  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 7 C Rice Krispies
  • 3 C Oreos, roughly chopped
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips; divided

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment, and grease liberally.

Melt butter in the bottom of a large pot.  Stir in marshmallows until melted.  Before they’re completely melted, add 1 1/3 C white chocolate chips, and melt those too.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in Rice Krispies.  Add 2 1/2 C chopped Oreos.

Pour mixture into pan, and pat Rice Krispies down evenly.  Sprinkle remaining Oreos over top.

Melt remaining white chocolate chips, and drizzle over pan.  Leave at room temperature till cool.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

Cut into squares and serve.

Baking Camp

I have a little (future) neighbor who bakes up a storm for me on quite the regular basis.  Ahhhhh, quaint, suburban life.  So far, she’s supplied me with cookie dough bites, Goo Goo Cluster s’mores, and countless cookies.  I’ve only known her a matter of months!  She’s my kind of girl, and I feel terrible that I’m not in the best place to be paying her back with sugar and sprinkles right now. So my goal this summer is to have her over to bake with me.  A little Summer Baking Camp if you will.  If I got to pick, here’s what we’d make…

Dunkaroo Tartlets

Homemade Strawberry Jam Toaster Pastries from @loveandoliveoil

Strawberry pop-tarts

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Birthday party ice cream cake

Smith Island cake

January Reads

january reads

Just Read:

Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher

Because I had just finished approximately 8 million letters of recommendation, so it was time for a snarky book about letters of recommendation.  Any book that says it “puts the pissed back in epistolary” is a book for me.  Fans of dry humor (Where’d You Go Bernadette?, This is Where I Leave You), this one’s for you.

Reading:

Mozart in the Jungle, by Blair Tindall

Because I watched the first season on Amazon, and I loved it.  I want to see how true the show was to the book.  Did you know the author was married to Bill Nye (The Science Guy!) for a short while?  I wonder if he’ll make an appearance too.

Want to Read:

I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

Because it’s one of those titles that keeps popping up on my radar, and I’m always a sucker for a good YA read.  It’s been too long since my last one (The Selection, by Kiera Cass, in case you were wondering).

Previous posts: December Reads; November Reads

Required Reading, On Reading Aloud

required reading, on reading aloud.

I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, dear readers, but reading aloud is one of the best things you can do for any child, whether or not that child belongs to you.  Yes, giving children uninterrupted time to read is important.  So is playing outside, limiting screen-time and making sure at least some green items on a plate are consumed before you get to the reason you got to the table in the first place.  Much like music is magic beyond all that’s done at Hogwarts, reading aloud is magic beyond anything I understand.  I know a thing or two about it from various experiences, and I can tell you for sure that I will someday be that sucker whose kid stays up way too late because she kept asking for “one more page/chapter/story.”

Anyway, if you want more than my dreamy ode to reading aloud, then you should know a couple of things.  It’s natural to read to kids when they’re too little to read on their own.  As they grow up, it’s easy to think that you should just let them read on their own.  That independent reading is a skill they have to build.  And that’s also a fact.  But that independent reading has to be balanced with listening to stories as well.  A child’s reading comprehension always lags behind her listening comprehension.  Which means she can understand complex stories better when she doesn’t have to read all those words on the page.  You’re reading them for her.  All she has to do is sit back and listen. And maybe follow along with a copy of her own.

You’re also modeling fluent reading for her.  When you read with inflection, when you take a slight pause after a comma, and when you add voices to each character (I do such a mean Hermione Granger), you are showing her what good readers do.  Rather than sitting and listening to her stumble over words, and harassing her to reread sentences that sounded too choppy for your liking, you can just read.  Read without ceasing, and let her hear how it sounds.

This list is arranged roughly by the age of the child you’d want to read to, from younger to older.

Helen Oxenbury: Google Image Result for http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-d7ruKXgobuc/T19Dfs41YHI/AAAAAAAABHw/TIZmFqOTXwg/s1600/FLOWERS%2Bhelen%2Boxenbury.jpg

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (source)

The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes

The Saturdays, by Elzabeth Enright

Everything on a Waffle, by Polly Horvath

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Jester

The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket

The Witches, by Roald Dahl

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, by Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, her!)

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar

The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by JK Rowling

Every Living Thing, by Cynthia Rylant

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls

Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli

The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (not so much because it serves as a good read aloud, because there are places in the middle where it drags, but because you have to read it before you can get to…)

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

The Wave, by Todd Strasser

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck