So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night!

I'm so sorry my friends.   But I just don't have anything else in me.  Maybe when this depression lifts I'll be back, but for now I'm going to have to say goodbye and thanks for listening.  xoxoxoxoxo Annie


Aren't Carrot Cookies diet food?

Again, I'm indulging my dieting fantasies.  (I wonder how many calories I burn when I'm fantasizing?)  I really think that the carrots redeem these little gems, don't they? Carrot cake is my favorite cream cheese frosting transport unit.  I can't get that delicacy into my mouth fast enough . . . Now, think about it, isn't cheese loaded with calcium??  And I know I need calcium.  That settles it. I'm going to hire Martha Stewart as my new diet consultant.  Here's her first recommendation: 
Martha Stewart's Carrot-Cake Cookies

Makes 18
2 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup packed, finely grated, peeled carrots
1/3 cup dried currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Make filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and lemon juice; beat until combined. Cover; chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make cookies: In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, and egg yolk. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until combined. Mix in oats, carrots, and currants.
Drop dough by level tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake until edges are crisp, rotating baking sheets halfway through, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Turn half the cookies over, bottom side up; dollop each with about 1 teaspoon chilled cream-cheese filling. Top with remaining cookies, pressing gently to spread filling to edges. Serve immediately.

How embarrassing!

Oh my.
So, here are the ingredients for those amazing chocolate chip cookies. Don't forget to let me know when they come out of the oven!

2 1/8 cups bleached all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 7 ounces
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)

And of course, the directions are below . . . 
Thanks for the heads-up!  Will you stick around to help me out when I get REALLY old?


My oh my, do these look good.

These come with the highest recommendation as the best chewy gooey chocolate chip cookie ever.  You can tell I'm on a diet.  I'm vicariously eating.  Obsessing over recipes and pictures of cookies.  So, if you make these, you have to comment and tell me how good they were . . . warm from the oven . . . with a tall glass of cold milk.  And I'll drink my skinny shake and dream.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cook's Illustrated Magazine says:
These truly chewy chocolate chip cookies are delicious served warm from the oven or cooled. To ensure a chewy texture, leave the cookies on the cookie sheet to cool. You can substitute white, milk chocolate, or peanut butter chips for the semi- or bittersweet chips called for in the recipe. In addition to chips, you can flavor the dough with one cup of nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut.

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.
3. [See directions below for shaping cookies.] Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined 20-by-14-inch lipless cookie sheets, about nine dough balls per sheet. Smaller cookie sheets can be used, but fewer cookies can be baked at one time and baking time may need to be adjusted. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)
4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.

STEP BY STEP: Shaping Thick Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. Creating a jagged surface on each dough ball gives the finished cookies an attractive appearance. Start by rolling a scant 1/4 cup of dough into a smooth ball.

2. Holding the dough ball in the fingertips of both hands, pull the dough apart into two equal halves.

3. Each half will have a jagged surface where it was ripped from the other. Rotate each piece 90 degrees so that the jagged edge faces up.

4. Jam the halves back together into one ball so that the top surface remains jagged.

Don't forget to let me know how good these are.  I'm counting on you here.


I know, I suck at blogging. But, we've been away again. Greg and I just got back from Vail where we got to play for a few days with some of our very favorite friends. It's a group called the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC) whose members are each involved in work that in some way contributes to the growth and well being of humankind and the planet. These are all folks with some truly kick-butt goals who are daily making huge contributions to back up their talk. Every six months we get together for a few days to network, share what we've been learning, and play. Too, too fun.  I have to pinch myself.

Anyway, because I love you, and because you are always so patient with my absences (yeah, I know, you get over it pretty dern quick), I want to share something I picked up last week.  And no Natalie, it's not some strange virus. It's a very simple and amazingly effective breathing technique for handling unwanted emotional states. It was developed by the good people at the Institute of HeartMath. Whozzat, you say? I'll answer from their website: IHM is a recognized, global leader in emotional physiology, stress management and the physiology of heart-brain research. Fancy schmancy, no? I first heard of them years ago in an interview they did on NPR--and was beyond jazzed to meet them at TLC last summer. Their research center is engaged in basic psychophysiology, neurocardiology and biophysics research, and in clinical, workplace and organizational intervention and treatment outcome studies--and not just off in some dusty, dark rent-a-lab all by themselves--IHM works in collaboration with numerous university and health care system partners. In other words, these aren't just a couple of whackos in a diner, they are the gen-you-ine article.  So, now that I've blathered a bit, here's the breathing technique. HeartMath calls it Emotion Shifting with Attitude Breathing.
  • Step 1.  Recognize an unwanted attitude: an emotion or attitude that is draining your energy, such as frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, angst, self-judgement, blame, guilt, sadness--anything that's distressing.
  • Identify a replacement attitude, such as neutral, balance, calm, ease, peace, forgiveness, appreciation, compassion, non-judgement.  Below are some examples of negative attitudes and their possible replacement feelings/attitudes. Remember to listen to your own inner knowing, you'll more likely find the optimum replacement feeling there.
Stress/Frustration:  Breathe "neutral to calm and revitalize"
Anxiety/Impatience: Breathe "calm and balance"
Overwhelm/Angst: Breathe "ease and peace"
Sadness/Self-Judgment:  Breathe "appreciation and non-judgment" 
 Blame or Guilt: Breathe "compassion and non-judgment"

Now, here's how you're going to breathe.  Imagine that your breath is going to by-pass your nose and windpipe.  Imagine that your nostrils are at your heart and breathe through your heart.  Take several breaths this way, breathing with intention from your heart area, visualizing the air flowing in and out directly through your heart.  You don't need to monitor the depth or pace of your breathing, this will happen naturally as you keep your focus on breathing from and through your heart.

After you've practiced focusing your breath in this way for a minute or two, bring up the negative emotion you've been experiencing and consciously, with each breath, breathe in the replacement feeling you've chosen--as outlined above in Steps 1 - 3. 

Give this a try.  Seriously, you're going to love it.  It's simple, you can use it anytime and anywhere, and if you'll discipline yourself to work with it whenever you're stressed, you'll gain facility with it and find yourself walking around like a Jedi master.

By now, if you're one of my blog followers, you've probably noticed the synchronicity of my experience this week with my blog post from last week . . . right down to the language I used in that post.  Now, ain't that something?  Do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do. (Cue Twilight Zone music here.)  We'll have to chat about that another day.  

'Till then, keep breathing.  And remember how much I love you.

"Breathe" poster designed by Matt Willey of Studio8 Design.  Purchase at Magma.com.


Serenity and Order

I'm going to choose two words: Serenity and Order. Breathe in . . . breathe out: serenity. Breathe in . . . breathe out: order.  

Here's what's up.  My physical world is a mess.   A MESS.  A monstrous, maniacal, murderous, meandering MESS. (Yes, it does meander.  It's evil.  It's got tiny, hairy, black legs.  It's full of spite and malice.) For three years now I've been running from one deadline or crisis to another, juggling far too much and barely surviving by ignoring my own life and house. Mostly, I've only been able to drop by occasionally here at home to do a load of laundry or two and pay only the most insistent of bills. First it was full-time school at UVSC while I was still serving about 20 hours a week down at BYU. Then it was out to Hawaii to take care of Natalie's house and boys while she and Richie did EFY. Then home for a breath or two and away to Arizona for a month to help my mom-in-law deal with some medical issues. Let's see, then where? Back to Hawaii for a month for Lincoln's birth, I think. At the end of one of those jumbled months in there, I moved unexpectedly to Scottsdale to take care of Mom and Dad-in-law--and stayed, full-time, for seven months, and then, after a couple of months to help ease Dad after Mom's death, I moved from Arizona to California to get Dad set up and comfortable in assisted living. Next, out to Hawaii on a sudden emergency, and back to Scottsdale to get the folks' house emptied out--60 years worth of stuff!-- cleaned and ready to rent, and then, Gavin's death.  And the world came screeching to a halt, sending suitcases, laundry, paperwork, treasured possessions, hearts, minds, memories, souls and sanity skidding and crashing in all directions. When I finally made it home last July, it was the first time I'd slept in my own bed in over a year . . . and at that point, all my grieving body wanted to do was just that: sleep, sleep, s l e e e . For an entire year: I ate then slept, then ate and slept, again and again and again. Meanwhile, the piles of un-ironed clothes, stacks of mail and magazines, the towers of who-knows-what-that-is-or-where-it-goes, have multiplied and crept into every corner and taken up residence on every horizontal surface of my life. I feel like one of those crazy pack-rats that gets outed by her kids on Oprah. I don't dare get out of bed in the night to use the bathroom for fear I'll trip and fall into the black hole of one of these piles, and disappear. And then, heaven help me, someone else will have to come in and figure out what to do with all this mess.

So, today I'm choosing two words: Serenity and Order. And I'll breathe into them over and over until I've shoveled my way out. I'm not sure how long it's going to take, but I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck. 

Do you have a word or two you'd like to breathe into?

Battle at Kruger

This video has already been viewed by over 35 million people, so you may have seen it already, but if you haven't, get ready for a thrill.  It's a battle between a herd of water buffalo, a pride of lions and two crocodiles.  They're all fighting over a baby water buffalo who . . . well, I'll let you see the outcome for yourself.  You won't be disappointed.


The First IT Specialist

This sketch must have been created for my husband, Greg. Stunningly brilliant man that he is, most technology just melts his brain. . . and whenever he has trouble with his computer, the dogs and I have learned to run and hide. Sweetheart, you know I love you. You know I think you're the most handsome, loving, generous, amazing man on earth - but this Bud's for you: 

Oh, and hats off to Lyn. for finding and sharing this little gem!


Thanks again, Martha.

OMGosh.  How beautiful is this?  Can you imagine these as centerpieces for a wedding?  With -- I don't know -- various sizes of white flowers and lots of casual, trailing green foliage around the bases?  I want to make one of these sweethearts for the table in my entry hall. The simple cake stand will be easy enough to find.  But where to snag a hurricane with glass as beautiful as this one??? Here's what Martha's site says about making this vision:


Meet Victoria Jacoby

So Heather, I really did try to watch the Japanese game show, and it was interesting (nod, nod, wink, wink) . . . but . . . I ended up surfing over to America's Got Talent, which I've never watched before. Lucky for all of you! Now you get to see this amazing little girl. If you've just eaten, I recommend you wait to watch her. She's quite the thing. I think we should all pitch in and buy her a new costume. What do you think? ">


Where have you been?

Its been a L O N G time! The old me would have been frantic at not having left a post in such a long time, but, well, she deconstructed about a year ago and this new person (who's very unrecognizable to the old me) is happy to let things go when she needs a break. Thanks for asking about my absence. I love you too. So glad you all have rich and full lives outside of this silly blog!

So, where have I been?

Laguna Beach and a birthday bash for Jen

Disneyland with the Norton Crew

Laguna Niguel for Coleman's christening

Carlsbad to visit Pop

4 wks in Alpine, hosting Natalie and Richie's crew

55th Birthday (yes, I'm that old!)

1 year anniversary of Gavin's death (the 17th of June)

2 wks in Sedona, AZ, training in Sedona Method Coaching

Goodyear, AZ to visit Bart and Gretchen

and finally, home again, to mountains of laundry, mail, dust-and my own pillow.