Homemade Oreos!

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and they are delicious! I used the full amount of sugar and thought they were overly sweet, though. I noted in the recipe to reduce the sugar.

Homemade Oreos
Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [I recommend going with 1 cup)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.

2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag (or squeeze it through the snipped corner of a ziploc baggie) with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Mmmmm, just begging for a glass of milk...


Can I Share My Worst Nightmare?

Sitting in this chair.

In the same vein (to avoid looking like this), I got this message in my Flickr account mailbox today, (referring to one of the photos in my 365 day self-portrait challenge set):

womansday.com would love to post your photo of "59/365"

My name is Nelson and I'm the graphic designer and photo editor for womansday.com and we are doing a feature on Most Unique Gym Classes and we would love to post your photo of "59/365" we would be more then happy to give you full photo credit on our site for your photo if your willing to share it with us. Please feel free to contact me at nc***les@h**us.com or 21*-767-58*5. (I changed some stuff to protect the innocent)


Thank you so much for your time
hope to hear from you soon.

So, here we are, my beloved kickboxing class, about to be famous:

Oh, and not to be a snob...but I really hate when people misspell "you're" and "your" - can you find it in his message???

You can check out my progess here (I'm on day 117 already!): Jennifer Juniper 365


Tutorial Tuesday - How To Build A Fun Fort

You can see the buds just forming here in Pittsburgh. Spring is finally springing! Last week's rain really helped things along.

Helper Munchkin and I went into the woods to see what we could see...

We flipped over dead logs and found salamanders (he got away before I could get to my camera!)

And snails...

We found some fiddleheads just poking through the dirt...

And tried out the tire swing after a long winter...

We had fun, but it was time to get down to business. Each year around this time, my boys and I set about cleaning up all the branches that have fallen over the winter. Normally, we stack the sticks in piles and everyone grumbles until it is finished.

How to make this more fun???

A tree top had fallen during a particularly windy storm. I began to snip off the smaller branches to consolidate the mess and ended up with one thick branch that stuck into the air at an angle. Hmmmm...this could be the framework for a pretty cool hideout.

First, we had to gather our wood... (see the May Apples that are beginning to pop up?)

Then we began to lean the branches against the tree to form a wall...

Then we began on the second side and it began to resemble a lean-to. Very rustic, really cool, just right for a pack of boys!

Pretty soon, the big kids got off the bus and everyone began to pitch in. We even started to use branches from the other ugly piles stacked here and there. They began to make plans for army games, air soft battles, and fun times.

In the end, they got a pretty cool fort and I got my woods cleaned up. When mom's happy, everyone's happy!

Don't have a fallen tree handy? You could make a simple frame with a 2x4 and some nails. Nail it to a tree at an angle or straight across two trees and put those kids to work! It's simple, just lean and stack, lean and stack...you get the picture!


Have you Scheduled Your Mammogram?

Are you 40 or older? Have you ever scheduled a mammogram? You know it's your best chance for detection, right? You know you're supposed to go every 1-2 years, right? You know you may have to start going earlier if you have risk factors, right?

Let me tell you how it's gonna go down...

You are going watch this video by Rachel , a tear will well up in your eye, and you will immediately be compelled to get up and schedule your appointment. (thanks BernThis)


Read and Discuss Conclusions

Thank you to everyone who contributed to yesterday's Read and Discuss. Many of you voiced the same concerns I had with the situation.

The key word in my story (for me) was "suddenly". The boy has lived here for 18 months, and while he has always been very nice to the kids, he always had his own thing going. He was always at school, at work, or with his friends. Two weeks ago, that all changed (tattoo, earring, kids - in that order).

The sudden interest in the kids and the purchasing of toys to engage the kids were warning flags for me. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, true, but it is my responsibility to keep on top of what is happening with my kids.

So, I did my research, spoke to my kids in general terms, I'm keeping an eye out, and remaining present while they play. I said in a good natured way to his mother "What's up, is your son grounded for getting that tattoo or something? He's been around so much with the kids this week!" (her response was "huh?")

So far, my husband and I and one other father are the only ones concerned. The general feeling around here is "Whoo, hooo! Free babysitting!" but I'm not so sure.

Do you know how to identify the sexual predators in your area? Megan's Law gives you the right to find that information. Click the link and enter your zip code, you might be surprised.

Thanks for your comments! I knew I was right to come to you about this :)


Feedback Friday: Read and Discuss

A new feature to help me in my numerous parenting struggles as the mother of three boys. Things come up now and then, and I thought this is as good a spot as any to gather opinions and advice. I will state the issue, leaving out my own thoughts and feelings, and hopefully gain some insight from all of you. I will comment at the end of the comments to share my conclusions.

Say hello to my little friend...


An 18 year old boy (a senior in high school) from my neighborhood has shown a sudden interest in playing with the neighborhood kids. The nine children he plays with range in age from 6-10, but the core group are boys around 7-8 years old.

He comes to the door to ask if the kids can come play or if they are playing in the cul de sac he comes out to join them. They ride bikes, and skateboards. They jump on the trampoline and run around. The kids follow him like the pied piper. He just bought some kind of spinning out big wheel thing that he brought out over the weekend to play with all the kids.

His family moved here 18 months ago from a neighboring state. He is a starter on the high school football team, he has a girlfriend, he is cute and popular in school. He has a job in a local indoor playground that parents rent for birthday parties. There are several teens on my street and many in the neighborhood.

The week he turned 18 he got a large tattoo, pierced his ear, and began playing with all the little children.


Now, it's your turn...


99 Things

Feeling like you haven't accomplished much in this life? Baby, you've done a lot! Check out this list I found while blog hopping. Everything you have accomplished or experienced is in bold, you can check them off the list. The rest can go on your To-Do list. Ready?

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. hmmmm, more like what I CAN afford, does that count?
7. Been to Disneyworld/Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo -I was the White Rabbit in my sixth grade production of Alice in Wonderland. Oh yeah!
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris- I will this fall! EEEEEKKKK!
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you were not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community - does driving by a horse drawn buggy honking and waving count?
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - this happened twice, I was aided by some spirits (the beverage type)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance - looooong story
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing - I get sea sick!
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - got sea sick then, too!
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business —58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies-I was a 4-H girl, those cookies were better!
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt — My son's quilt that is still on his bed
73. Stood in Times Square - with my Soul Sistas!
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been laid off from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book — Does my Shutterfly album count???
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - Meatloaf! NO JOKE!
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cellphone
99. Been stung by a bee

I'm doing pretty well, how about YOU???

Oh, and this one was too good to wait for Sunday Funny...thanks to Obnoxious SAHM for sharing this:


S. S. Recap

The Sistas gathered together this morning to pool our resources and make our cute patchwork aprons. There was lots of





Teasing (I for one laughed when Joy walked in and announced "I'm making a skirt." and proceeded to lay down a skirt from her closet onto her fabric and cut, sans pattern. It was going so wrong at first...

But she pulled it out in the end! Bravo!


Jamie Oliver's Crispy and Delicious Asparagus and Potato Tart

I realized later that I used too many potatoes in my recipe, it didn't set up quite right!


1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Sea salt
1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed
8 ounces filo pastry
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup freshly grated Grueyere cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Cheddar
3 large organic or free-range eggs
1 (8-ounce) container heavy cream
1/4 whole fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper


Put your potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile blanch your asparagus in a separate pan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes, and drain in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Get an ovenproof dish - I've used many different shapes and sizes. Layer the sheets of filo pastry in the dish, brushing them with melted butter as you go and letting about 1-inch hang over the edge. You want to get the pastry about 5 layers thick. Put a clean, damp kitchen towel over the top and put aside.

When the potatoes are done, mash them with the cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and cream and stir into your cheesy mashed potato. Grate in the nutmeg, season well with pepper and mix together. Spread the mashed potato over the filo pastry, then bring up the sides of the filo and scrunch them together to form a rim. Take your blanched asparagus and line them up across the filling, making sure you cover it all. Brush all over with the remaining melted butter and pop into the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve just as you would a quiche for a quick lunch or supper, with a salad.


Tutorial Tuesday - Cute Reversible Apron

The Soul Sisters are gathering in the morning for coffee, Jamie Oliver's Asparagus Potato Tart, and apron making! Get your things together and join us! (I apologize for the crappy photos, the light is terrible on this cold, rainy spring Pittsburgh day)

We saw a cute apron similar to this the last time we were together on Blissful Living (we stalk that thing, we want to go there and be their friends!), and decided to make a morning of it the next time we came together.


Fabric Scraps
Various Trims
Sewing machine
Needle and Thread

We have decided to all get together and pool our scraps, to mix it up a little. I think most people can make this apron with the extra fabric and trim they have on hand. If you need something, consider getting some fat quarters in the quilting section ($1.49 at JoAnn's). Joann's also has trim on sale this week for .50-.97 cents/yard.

Cut your fabric into strips of various widths and press.

Sew, right sides together, to form a patchwork. The dimensions should be 27 inches x 21 inches for your panel. You can measure and cut to size after you piece your scraps together.

Press everything flat.

Here are my two 27 x 21 inch panels, remember, it's reversible!

Measure 14 inches from the top of the fabric panels, fold then press. Now bring the pressed fold up until it is 3 inches from the top of the apron panel, forming a deep pocket. You will do this with both panels. Pin to hold.

See? Now press.

Now, place the two panels right sides together and pin.

Mark three inches down from the top. This will remain unsewn to allow you to turn the apron right side out and also give you a spot to attach your apron ties.

Sew the two panels together, careful not to sew shut the 3 inch spaces you marked!

Pull the panels right side out through one of the openings you left unsewn, then press.
You can then sew down the center of the pocket to form two pockets

Let's make the apron ties. Cut a length of fabric 6 1/2 x 20 inches. Fold the fabric in half length-wise and sew, leaving one end open.

Pull the tube right side out through the open end and press.

Slide the open end into the unsewn spaces in the apron. Pin and sew, topstitching the ties in place.

Here is one side of the apron. Let's embellish it with the trims. I have a friend that calls me "the queen of random", I do random well. Mix it up with unexpected combos of fabric and trim. Don't be too matchy matchy.

Hand stitch your trims...

The reverse is yellow with a band of teal at the bottom, but I've lost all light for a proper photo. I will post the fun with the girls tomorrow to give you lots of great ideas and inspiration!


Where the Wild Things Are

Did you go through the stage with your kids where they wanted the same book three times a day for a year? That book for our family was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. We read that damn book so often we had all memorized the words and I considered painting a mural onto his wall. I would have if I could have figured out a way for it not to look scary in the dark.

Though I grew so sick of that book, it now brings a lump to my throat when I try to read it aloud today. I can't help but recall cuddling up with it and my boy before nap or bedtime. Smelling just-washed hair, footie pajamas, and chubby cheeks. He was always so interested in how it would end and loved the "wild things" (he had a wild streak himself).

Spike Jonze has directed this book into a movie due out in the fall, and though I hate seeing books made into movies, I'm compelled to go to this one. Watch this trailer and see if you get the goosebumps I did. All the memories came flooding back - my boy...



Last night was not the greatest in terms of planning. I defrosted a roll of phyllo dough for dinner (thinking it was a pork tenderloin), so we decided to go out to eat. You know, to celebrate writing a check to the government, to bail out all those who don't pay their bills to do our civic duty.

So, on the way to dinner we take a good look at our children who are beginning to look like they have been raised by wolves, and decide to get a quick haircut first (does it EVER work out that way, though?)

We sit, waiting 30 minutes for a 2 minute haircut (#3 all over, please), while Peacemaker and Helper Munchkin begin to ACT like they've been raised by wolves. The Big Guy and I look at each other and realize that we are quickly loosing control.

We finally get them the hell out of there and sit down to dinner. The two little guys go to the bathroom and the Big Guy gives #1 Son a dollar to play a game in the lobby while we wait for dinner. He explains that the little kids won't get one because they were bad...but don't tell them that.

Then the kids return and Big Guy loses his mind and announces (like a proclamation, Here Ye, Here Ye...) "Your brother just went to play a video game with $1 because he was good. You will not get one because you were not good." I shoot him a look that says "It's your funeral." and the crying and fit throwing begins in earnest at our booth. (Big Guy actually thought he was going to watch the Penguin playoff game after that little diddy!)

So, this is a rundown of the conversation that ensued. Just read the following with the sound of Peacemaker crying "I want a dollar! It's not fair, it's not fair!" on a loop in the background.

Helper Munchkin: "Why can't we have a dollar?!"

Exhausted Mom: "It's called consequences."

Peacemaker (stops his chant for a moment): "What's con-see-ences?"

Mom: "It means when you do something bad, something bad happens to you."

Helper Munchkin: "Where did you read THAT?!"

Mom (staring at Big Guy and replying in a very dry tone): "In the Parenting Handbook."

Peacemaker and Helper Munch (wailing): "Give us a dollar, toooooooo!"

Mom: "No, I'm sorry. Not today."

Dad to Peacemaker (ever helpful): "You have a booger sticking out of your nose. Get it, it's driving me crazy!" (I look at him, incredulous)

Now, here is the piece de resistance...Peacemaker very deliberately reaches in for the booger, displays it on the tip of his finger, then wipes in on his pant leg with gusto. Like, "Oh, yeah, you won't give me a buck? Well, I'm going to wipe a booger on my pants, you meanies!"

Mom: "Well, that sure showed me!"

End Scene...


To Do List

My to do lists are so painfully boring and repetitive I almost can't stand to post an example. But, then I thought to myself "Self, why suffer alone?"

Juniper To-Do List (for the remainder of this week)

Go to gyne appointment
Clean house
Wash laundry
Fold laundry
Put away laundry
Volunteer at school
Round up Soul Sisters for a crafty get-together for next week
Baseball practice
Schedule the Peacemaker's 8 year appointment (that is already late)
Help Peacemaker practice for First Communion
Plan picnic for after First Communion
Clean house (again)
Help with homework
Groom dog
Attend school meeting
Clean house...I think you get the picture.

While reading Poetry and Hums blog she posted some fictitious to-do lists...what if I were...(dream sequence sound effect...)

Carol Brady:

1.Decide what Alice should fix for dinner
2. Solve teenage problems
3. Have Alice do the laundry
4. Sit on Mike's lap and say something witty
5. Make a grocery list for Alice

June Cleaver:

1. Polish pearls
2. Sign up for flower arranging class
3. Apply corn pads from wearing heels 24/7
4. Good naturedly scold the Beaver
5. Kiss Ward while lifting one foot behind me.

Debra Barone:

1. Love Raymond
2. Look for houses NOT across the street from mother-in-law
3. Change the locks until a new house is found
4. Threaten bodily harm if Ray doesn't take my side against mother.
5. Search for three children who are never around

Carmella Soprano:

1. Call all of Tony's mistresses and tell them to beat it.
2. Get my nails done.
3. Remember never to "go for a drive" with any of Tony's men.
4. Work on my New Jersey accent.
5. Cook Baked Ziti for dinner.

Kitty Foreman:

1. Buy air freshener to remove the scent of pot in the basement.
2. Crack a beer for Red.
3. Fix a cocktail for myself... for breakfast.
4. Plan a hot tub party with Bob and Midge.

Shirley Partridge:

1. Get gas for the bus.
2. Book "gigs"
3. Warn Danny that he will become a washed up, roid-rage loser in adulthood.
4. Stare at Keith's hot buns and feathered hair.
5. Keep Laurie on the keyboard to maintain lead vocalist position.

Try it, it's fun! Here, I'll give you some people to think about...Oprah, Angelina Jolie, Bart Simpson, Dwight Schrute... Choose one of them or come up with one of your own and give me your best shot!


Your Skin Fix, December Edition