Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Little Helpers and Chocolate Chip Cookies


        Y'all I love kids. I love their snotty noses, their questions, and just their fervor for life. I want to have children, adopt, foster and minister to children around the world. However, it's not time for that just yet, The Lord is not finished with the work that he has for me as a single woman. (Though sometimes, I'll admit, I wish he'd hurry up!) But, back to the point, I am so blessed to be able to babysit my nephews this summer! I started last week with just two of them (the oldest is still in school) and we have had a blast as well as more than a few temper tantrums and battles of will.

Memphis was not pumped about pictures, just cooking!
With John, who loves to cuddle
        One thing that they love to do is help. They will ask to do anything that I am doing, and I love for them to help! Memphis, who is now 3 years old, loves to help load the dishwasher. He doesn’t quite have the height and the spatial skills to do it adequately but I started giving him the job of putting the soap in, while John (age 5) loads the bottom rack. Memphis’ job started because I threw out my back and it hurt for me to bend over. Memphis gets one of the soap tabs out of the bucket under the sink, hands it to me to open, smells it (I can’t figure out his need to smell it every time) and then puts it in the soap compartment, closes it, and starts the dishwasher. After he looks at me with great pride and declares, “I’m your helper!”

         Lately, they have really wanted to do some cooking and of course I oblige. This week we made some less than healthy menu items - chocolate chip cookies!
(Side note: I had a debate with some friends over whether or not I could make cookies better than the roll of dough at the store, so this was a perfect time to prove my skills! And, I think it's safe to say I made them into believers.)

         I originally got this recipe from America's Test Kitchen and tweaked it just a bit. These cookies are not for the faint at heart because they are ridiculously tedious, but you could make a larger batch and freeze what you don't use for future moments of weakness, and trust me the are well worth the work!

On to the cookies...




Chocolate Chip Cookies
14 Tbsp. butter (1 ¾ sticks)


2 cups flour (8 ¾ ounces)


½ tsp. baking soda


½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ ounces)


¾ cups packed light brown sugar (5 ¼ ounces)

1 tsp. table salt

3 tsps. Vanilla extract


1 large egg


1 large egg yolk


2 cups chocolate chips or chunks

·      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the oven rack in the middle position.
The browned butter makes the difference!
·      Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside.
·      Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 5 minutes (at any point after the butter has melted you can move on, the longer the butter browns the “nuttier” it will smell and that flavor will incorporate into the cookies).
·      Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted. At this point I use a stand mixer for the remainder of the recipe.
·      Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk or blend until fully incorporated.  Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, a caramel color and appear gooey and shiny. 
·      Stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
·      Spoon the cookies on to a baking sheet lined with a silicon liner or sprayed with cooking spray. I use a small ice cream scoop with a trigger (instead of a spoon) to create more uniformed cookies. Place the cookies approximately 2 inches from another on the pan.
·      Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.  
·      Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.



They turned out super yummy as always and I think the boys seemed to like them a lot! Definitely not a healthy snack, but sometimes you just have to splurge!

much love, 
Lori Jane 


I am seriously considering writing a cookbook, thoughts? 


Saturday, May 4, 2013

An Enchanted Weekend


This weekend marks one huge milestone in my life, and it is only appropriate to take a few moments to reflect on every step that has led up to this point. I am officially finished with my Master’s degree and will be recommended for my teaching license this summer. The last step is walking across the stage at Bud Walton Arena next Saturday at 8:45 a.m. (who decided this was the opportune time to graduate? –not me, that’s for sure!)

The journey to this point has had its shares of ups and downs and it feels as if it just began. The whirlwind of a year has included interning at four different schools, meeting close to 1000 students and every day trying to show Christ’s love and grace to each student, though I most likely failed more often than I succeeded.

I have learned what it means to be rejected, to have others spread vicious untruths about me, and feel as if there was no way or desire to continue. I have spent a lot of this year clinging to different truths. One of these is Matthew 5:39 “But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Be careful what you ask, because if you ask the Lord to grow He will give you those opportunities, and they usually won’t be a “walk in the park.” Another truth that I continue to cling to is “The Lord is my strength and my song…” Exodus 15:2.

The Lord has sustained me this entire year, and has provided me with a support group like none other! My family and my parents especially have been incredible throughout this entire year. From taking my phone calls to hear me complain EVERY DAY, to proofreading papers at all times of the day, I could not have asked for two better people to call “mom” and “dad.” Another person that I attribute my sanity to this year is my first mentor teacher, Brit Singleton. She was awesome while I was in her class and has gone above and beyond since I left. I hope to be like her when I have my own class and minister to my students like she ministers to her students.

I could go on forever thanking those that have helped me get through this year, but I will spare you! If you were one of those people THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! I wish that I could take every one of you to dinner, or send you flowers or something!

So not only has this been an exciting year as far as school is concerned, I have learned so much about life in general. I have become quite proficient at using the plunger (I think every single thing in an apartment will break at least once), I have learned what budgeting really means, and I have had to kill my own spiders. (This last one I am still working on, because I have to lie down for like an hour afterwards to calm down.)  Though I am not necessarily where I thought I would be at the ripe age of 24, I am so grateful for where/who I am, and I wouldn’t chose any other path for my life.

So why has this been an enchanted weekend? Did I feast my eyes on a real-life unicorn? Was I swept away by Tim Tebow to experience the culture of a distant land? Unfortunately, no to both of these questions. I did however, NOT set an alarm, clean my apartment, make a fabulous lunch for myself AND watch movies all day, one of those being “Enchanted.” I don’t even think I understand how much I needed today, to just be by myself and do nothing! Though I wouldn’t choose to do nothing everyday, it is nice to slow down when you’ve been running for so long!

Next week I begin applying for more jobs and babysitting my nephews, so look for updates on our adventures together!  I can’t wait to see what new quests I will go on this summer and what the near and distant futures will look like.

What does a relaxing weekend look like for you?

P.S. The lunch I made was chicken and some amazing roasted sweet potatoes, which was inspired by dinner that I had at my sweet friend MeriWhitney’s the other day. She has a blog, and she is an incredible cook, you should check her out!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Reflection

Well, its back to the grind of school again. This time, however, I have 8th graders! It's been a while since I was in 8th grade and I guess what I forgot was how small the students are, especially the boys! It has only been a couple of days, but I already am a big fan of Middle School and my mentor teacher is pretty great!

While I am excited about this semester and the start of a new year that I anticipate to be phenomenal, I wanted to take a minute and just reflect over Christmas. The past year or so has been busy for our family, my sister adopted two little boys taking their family from 3 to 5, my brother got married, and I moved almost 300 miles away into an apartment by myself. It was so good to be able to get together for the holidays and enjoy each other's company. And, Christmas is WAY more fun with three little boys that are so giddy at the idea of Santa coming. We have truly been blessed and I would not trade a minute. I can't imagine a day without my sweet nephews!

So that you can experience, how amazing my babies are, here is a little video that will melt your heart...it's a bit quiet, so you may have to crank up the volume! (P.S. this is my dad and my youngest nephew, Memphis)



Much love, 
Lori Jane 

What stories or favorite memories do you have from Middle School or Junior High? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Servanthood

If you know anything about me you know I am not one bit shy, and I rarely pass up an opportunity to be the center of attention.
Recently I moved 250 miles from my parents and the place that I have spent most of my life (Monticello, AR). One of the largest things that I had to get over after moving was meeting new people. I attended First Baptist Church Rogers because that is where my sister and her family went and every time I visited I felt home. But I was always nervous to go to Sunday school, especially since I am single.
(Side note: can the church seriously do something about their singles ministry? It's not a singles mixer every week, which is what often happens.)
The day that I put on my big girl panties and went to the class was probably the best day since I moved. Instantly, people were asking about me and before the class was over I had been invited to hangout that night and not to mention participated in an excellent lesson/discussion. Since that day I have had so many opportunities to serve with my new friends and develop some great relationships along the way. This is most of us at our Christmas party a couple nights ago...


Back to the opportunities to serve - the wife of our Sunday school teacher is in charge of the church's Christmas program and naturally she asked for volunteers. Because I am not part of the choir (not from lack of desire or skill) I said I would help. The program spans 3 Sunday mornings and each week is a new experience. The first week was the biggest new experience, in that it was the first time I was behind the stage rather than on it. I was holding the door and cuing the soloist instead of singing the solo. I don't think I can say I've found myself in this position before. Needless to say I was quickly reminded that a servant means you serve wherever you are, whether or not it's glamorous. If standing backstage wasn't enough of a reminder, this last Sunday I had to honor a strange request.
The man playing Joseph is a white man, and thus we applied dark makeup to his face to make him look more like a Middle Easterner. The problem we found, though, was his very light hands and feet that were so obvious on stage. So there I was, on the floor, applying makeup to the feet of a man I had just met. It may sound silly, but it made me think, "it takes every person, to make a bigger impact." My job was not very significant, but think about the story we were portraying....
Mary, a virgin called upon to carry the Son of God. Joseph, instructed to be the father of the King of Kings. The Inn keeper gave them what he had. Every person was important. Maybe it's a stretch, but I was hit with a big stick called humility, reminded of all the not so glamorous jobs that Jesus did. As we continue into the holiday season, take a minute and reflect on what this is all for. What is something you can do this week or today to make a greater impact for the Kingdom? You never know, bronzing someone's feet could lead to a production that spurns others towards a relationship with the Lord.


If you are in the Northwest Arkansas area this Sunday, join us for the last installment of The Story. (Check out the link for more info)


much love, 
Lori Jane 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Life Lately

Oh my goodness!! It has been 101 days since I last blogged!! What have I been doing for nearly 1/3 of the past year? -Oh right so much!!

Here is how it went....
My brother got married.

I also attended THREE weddings in the month of October! I guess this is the season of my life!





(Cousin Zach, precious college friend Meagan, and sweet high school friend, Ashley!)


Some more sweet friends got engaged!!
My girl scout, roommate, super lawyer Katelyn & the incredibly talented, beautiful, crazy, Maggie

 


This fall was also full of Homecomings of all kinds...

I also spent some time crafting and cooking. I made my first sponge cake and it was so yummy! I made 14 pecan pies for Thanksgiving, but I forgot to take a picture for proof!

I did however get some pics of my decor!



I also attended a couple of Razorback games, the team might not have been phenomenal but the games always are!




 Two holidays have passed!!
Halloween. Me: Mrs. Captain America, Memphis: Ninjago, John: Army Man, Logan: priate
Thanksgiving. I am thankful that there is always an adventure to be had with these two cousins! Mamaw found some old accessories and we definitely embraced them!

So many more things have happened and I could go on for days about the many blessings that I have had these past few months. The most recent thing that has happened... I finished my first semester of my internship. I am more than halfway through my Masters program!! This week was bittersweet as I turned in my last few assignments and said goodbye to the students whom I have grown very fond. I am reassured daily that my calling is a teacher and I am so happy that I get to work with students and get paid for it! (well at least they tell me I will get a paycheck, not really sure what that's like!) The Christmas holiday is upon us which means, time spent with family and friends, celebration of our Savior coming to earth and lots of free time to craft!! I can't wait to show you some of the projects I am working on!! 

I am going to miss seeing these sweet babies every day! Go Mounties!

Much love,
Lori Jane 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Updates

So much to report. Everything from the best health clinic in NWA, to my first day of subbing, to my Fantasy Football draft! I can't wait for the opportunity to catch up on everything! 

much love, 
Lori Jane 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday night highlights

Today, is Friday which means a few things....the weekend is here, I made it through the week and I don't teach. On Fridays I go to the U of A and take classes rather than teach them. To say that today was overwhelming could possibly the greatest understatement of my life. Papers, research, reading, and journal articles are just a few of the things about to take over my life! I had a near breakdown at work tonight when I thought about it!
To add to the long day, the sickness that is taking over my body struck harder. Now I can't breathe and I have a nasty cough AND I have lost my voice. In all of my classes I just sat there because I couldn't speak loudly enough to be heard amongst my peers! At work I asked for tasks that didn't involve a lot of conversation so I spent most of the night in back stock, surrounded by my bestie - Vera Bradley. With everything that piled up on me today I felt so defeated. But, I know that this is what the Lord has for me so I know that He will provide the strength and knowledge I need to make it through the year!

What keeps you going when you're feeling down?

Much love,
Lori Jane