Weird searches

I’ve read about these on other blogs – the strange things people are searching for that cause them to end up at your blog.

How about this one from the other day: “baked squirrel image.”

My questions:

1. Why?

2. Did you find one?

3. WHY???

Note: I will not be placing baked squirrel images on my blog in order to capture this demographic.

“Run away! Run away!”
"Run away!  Run away!"



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Blogging fail, plus squirrel photo

Persistent squirrel

Persistent squirrel

Well, heck. I don’t seem to be getting into the swing of blogging. I have never been a journaler, so maybe that should have been a clue (though I do like to write.)

I’ve baked several cookies, plus cupcakes, muffins, and a birthday dessert, since my last post. But do I write about it? Post the recipes? Take pictures?

I have beaded jewelry to show, but is any of it here? Um, no.

Move, oh do I move. Lots to say about that. Plus, it’s beautiful spring here in wine country, and I even have some great photos from my runs and hikes. Do you see them? I think we know the answer.

So, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do something with this little blog place: get some fun posts up, recipes, photos, stuff like that. Because lord knows there’s not already enough of that on the web, right? Still, it might be fun. So let’s see if I do. Oh, the suspense, I know…

Comments welcome. For now, just a haiku in three parts:

Do I want to blog?
It’s funny, I thought I would
But nothing happens.

Recipes, I’ve got
Jewelry and plenty of it
Running, yoga, more

Yes, it all happens
But you wouldn’t know from here
Blog fail, is there hope?



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Oatmeal Cookies, loaded up with good stuff


These come from Better Homes and Garden magazine, via Anna at Cookie Madness. Gotta love a cookie with “loaded” in the name…

The BHG recipe is here (you need to register, it’s free) and Anna’s posts about the cookie are here and here. I tweaked the recipe a bit, my version is below.

These are delicious and hearty, and can likely hold up to lots of modifications and additions according to your own tastes.


1/4 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
(I might try it with all brown sugar next time)
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon (I used my cinnamon-plus mixture, which includes some additional spices)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (use 1/8 if using salted butter)
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup oat bran
2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used Whole Foods 365 Dark Chocolate Chunks)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I soaked them in boiling water for a few minutes first)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

OPTIONAL: I added about 1/3 cup cinnamon chips, and rolled each cookie in just a bit of raw sugar before baking.

ALSO OPTIONAL: I baked up six cookies right away, then chilled the dough overnight and baked the rest the next day. I do think the texture and spice taste improve a bit with this method – although the first six cookies were just fine as well!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if baking right away)

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in flour. Stir in rolled oats, flax seed meal, oat bran, chocolate, cranberries, and walnuts (and cinnamon chips, if using) (dough will be a little crumbly).*

*(note – this is how BHG says to do it. I didn’t look closely and just mixed the flour etc. together and stirred it all into the wet ingredients, rather than beating in the flour separately. My dough was not crumbly, and the cookies came out fine. So the recipe seems to be rather forgiving.)

Drop about one tablespoon size or so (I used a cookie scoop) onto parchment or Silpat.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Makes about two dozen cookies.


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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, heading for Iraq

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

(Hey, it’s better than my last photo of cookies…getting better but still a lot of room for improvement…)

I signed on to a team (Kelseys Kakes) at BakingGALS to send cookies over to Iraq. It’s something I’ve often thought of doing but never got around to. The Oatmeal Cookie Guy posted about it, and that got me off my duff. These CC Oatmeal cookies are also one of his recipes.

It was fun to bake knowing they’ll be going to some folks who will really appreciate them. I love to bake but don’t dare have too much sweet stuff around the house, and while friends love the cookies, they also are not wanting to eat too many. So this is the perfect solution: I get the fun of baking, still enjoy a few myself :-), AND give a whole bunch away where they will be heartily welcomed. Cool! I sent a couple boxes of WetNaps, too, and a note with the ingredient list and saying “hi.”

These cookies are going to an Army Reserve unit, a Public Affairs Operation Center working directly with members of the international media who are in Iraq to get the “real story” for their audiences.

It’s not hard to do this; I recommend the experience. The BakingGALS website has an FAQ page that tells you just how to pack them and how to fill out the mailing forms. Check it out and maybe you’d like to try it as well!


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Well, hail


We just had a nice hailstorm. Doesn’t happen around here too often, so it’s pretty exciting. This is our teak patio table, dressed in ice.

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Holy Macro, it works!

Macro Mustard

I know this is kindergarten to many of you, but I had no idea I could do this before. It’s just on auto, set for macro, no editing. And the wind was even blowing a little bit, so it wasn’t perfectly still. To me, it’s fabulous. And it looked even better on full-screen – kind of shocked me when I saw it, actually.

I just never knew! It’s a whole new world…

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Chai-Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not a great photo – my first try at photographing food. I have a lot to learn. Ugh, that is too much yellow! Hopefully, someday this will be my “before” photo, to compare to much better versions.

However, the cookies are delicious! I’ve been a bit obsessed with chai spices lately – chai teas, buying the bulk spices to make my own combinations, and finding ways to use them in baking. I wanted to find a chai chocolate chip cookie recipe, and my Google search only brought up this one. It looks great but not exactly what I wanted to do. But it inspired me that it could work.

I ended up doing a hybrid of two of Oatmeal Cookie Guy’s recipes to come up the batter (this one and this one), and creating my own spice combination for the chai part.

Then I experimented: I baked a pan with two dough-only cookies, two with dark chocolate chunks, and two with choclate chunks plus cinnamon chips, and also two of each of those versions rolled in turbinado (raw) sugar. Fritz and I taste-tested all of them. I ended up making the rest of the batch with both chips and not rolled in sugar; next time I would make some with no chips, rolled in sugar for sure.

The plain ones were actually really good, and if I hadn’t been so focused on adding the chocolate part, I would have baked up more of those. And I wish I had made some with just cinnamon chips – will try that another time. The chocolate is great in them, but I think the spice takes a bit of a back seat. So I’ll still be tinkering with these to get the balance I want. I am very pleased with the batter itself – great taste and texture, and the cookies have that soft/chewy synergy I like.

I made a couple of pans right away, and the rest after letting the batter rest in the fridge overnight. I think that made the spice more intense, and as OCG says, it has a positive impact on the cookie in general. (Can you tell I’m a big fan of his blog and his recipes? He’s not just the Oatmeal Cookie Guy, he’s the Oatmeal Cookie Guru!)

I just took some to a neighborhood gathering and they went over great. One neighbor especially liked them, particularly the cardamom. So my comment below to reduce the cardamom definitely wouldn’t be her preference. 🙂 See, it’s a very individual thing, those Chai spices.


2 sticks butter (I used unsalted)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

2 cups finely ground oatmeal
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground oatmeal
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (use 1/2 teaspoon if using salted butter)
Chai spice mix:*
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground dried orange peel
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

*This is the spice combo I used, and it worked fine. I would probably experiment next time with a little less cardamom and a little more cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Maybe add a little clove, also. Really, you can play with the spices and tailor the mix to your liking. And I may try it with the actual chai tea mix sometime, either dry or brewed.

1 1/2 – 2 cups dark chocolate chunks (I used Whole Foods 365 – you could try semi sweet chips instead or a chopped chocolate bar)
3/4 cup cinnamon chips

—I might try a little less chocolate and a little more cinnamon next time, and also some with cinnamon chips only.—

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs, vanilla and milk; beat well. Stir in dry mixture a little at a time. Chips can be included in that mixture, or you can stir them in separately.

Drop by 1-2 tablespoon size balls onto parchment or Silpat. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 (11 minutes was perfect in my oven.) Let stand on cookie sheet 1-2 minutes, then cool on wire rack. Makes 6 dozen.


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