valentine’s day in six parts

I. Seventh grade.

I stand in a circle with my friends at snack break, laughing about some silly joke that no one else but us would find funny. I’m wearing my favorite red sweater and my white pedal-pushers. I scan the grassy quad, looking for The Boy I Have a Crush On, but I don’t see him anywhere. I’m hoping maybe he will give me a Valentine today. Maybe he will send me a Candy Graham. Maybe… maybe… My wishes don’t go much farther than that. Candy Grahams and smiles across the quad. To my seventh-grade self, holding hands seems the epitome of romance.

The Candy Grahams are school-sponsored Valentines. All week long, you could go to the ASB room during lunch and pay a quarter for a small square of paper, where you could write a note that will be taped to a Caramel Apple Pop and delivered during fifth period on Valentine’s Day. I bought Candy Grahams for my best friends, but I did not buy one for The Boy I Have a Crush On.

During fifth period, my heart thrums as the Candy Grahams are passed out. I receive one. When I see Erica’s familiar handwriting, my heart sinks just a little.

I receive Valentines from my parents and my Gramps. But all I can think about is the Valentine I didn’t receive. I wonder if a boy will ever ever ever want me to be his Valentine. The future seems so far away.

II. Ninth grade.

I make a Valentine’s card for The Boy I Have a Crush On {who is different from The Boy I Had a Crush On in seventh grade… um, hello, that was a lifetime ago.} Unlike in middle school, my high-school self actually talks to this boy. We are… friends? Sort of. We walk together from fourth period to lunch every day. I am hopeful that he will give me a Valentine. I decide to make him a Valentine so I will have something to give him, if he gives me one first.

During our walk from the classroom to the lunch tables, my heart pounds in my chest. I finger the Valentine in my jeans pocket. I’m wearing my favorite red tank-top and white cardigan. It is Valentine’s Day, but the magic fizzles out the closer we get to the lunch tables. As each minute ticks by, it is morphing into just a regular day. Then he says, “Bye,” heading off to join his friends, and I realize he is not going to give me a Valentine.

Erica tries to talk me out of it, but later I slip the Valentine into his locker anyway. I mean, I already made it. Why let it go to waste?

I receive Valentines from my parents and my Gramps. There is even a bouquet of cheerful sunflowers from my dad. But all I can think about is The Boy I Have a Crush On, and the Valentine I didn’t receive from him.

III. Freshman year of college.

High school seems so long ago. I am a brand-new woman. I have held hands with a boy in a darkened room while we all watched a movie. I have gone out on a date and kissed a boy. I have told a boy, plainly and clearly, my feelings for him. For the first time in my life, The Boy I Have a Crush On just might like-like me back.

This year, I receive a Valentine. It is a very sweet homemade card, accompanied by flowers and the board game Scrabble. Only it is not from The Boy I Have a Crush On. It is from A Boy I Like as Just a Friend. I have told him many times that my romantic feelings just aren’t there, but he continues his unabashed pursuit, and I am beginning to feel unsettled in addition to the sadness and guilt I already feel for hurting his feelings.

I realize that it is not only about being wanted. It is about being wanted by the person you want, too.

I put the flowers in a vase on my dresser, hoping The Boy I Have a Crush On will see them. Hoping he still might come by my room, before Valentine’s Day is over, and ask me to be his.

But, as the streetlights blink on outside the window, as evening steadily shifts into night, he does not come by my room. He does not see my flowers. On my bulletin board, I have pinned up Valentine’s cards from my mom and my dad and my brother, from Erica and Holly and Celine. Yet all I can think about is the Valentine he didn’t give me.

IV. Junior year of college.

Norwich, England. I’m studying abroad for a semester and I am in love for the first time ever. All those other Boys I Had Crushes On seem so insignificant compared to this overwhelming feeling. This is my first Valentine’s Day with a real Boyfriend. I could not be more excited. I take the bus into town and buy a giant card at Pound Land {like the Dollar Store in the U.S.} and some new tights to go with the dress I had already picked out weeks ago. Instead of chocolates, I buy my Boyfriend a case of Red Bull because it is his favorite drink.

The morning of Valentine’s Day, while he is in class, I sneak into his room and leave the card and Red Bull on his desk. A few hours later, he calls me, his voice filled with surprise at my gift. He thanks me for it, even though he says his flatmates are giving him a hard time. He always seems slightly embarrassed, around his flatmates, to be with me.

“I’ll come by at 6,” he says. “I’m taking you out to dinner. It’s a surprise.”

I am a little kid on Christmas Eve. I feel like I’ve finally found the person who loves me back, who appreciates me for who I am. Who wants to be my Valentine and wants everyone to know it. That evening, Boyfriend comes over and gives me a daffodil he picked from the fields. We ride the bus into town together. He still won’t tell me where we’re going for dinner. Walking together down the cobblestone streets, he pauses in front of a Pizza Hut. I laugh, certain he is joking.

He holds the door open. “After you, my lady.”

Heart sinking, I realize he is not joking. In the next thought, I chastise myself for being judgmental. He is taking me out to dinner! On Valentine’s Day! I should be grateful. It doesn’t matter where we go for dinner; what matters is that we are together.

Over slices of pepperoni and cheese, he confesses that he waited until the last minute to make dinner reservations and all the other restaurants in town were booked up. We laugh about it, but all I can think about is The Girl He Had a Crush On back home, the girl he told me about last week, the girl with the pretty smile and contagious laughter who occasionally sends him letters. I feel certain that, if he was celebrating Valentine’s Day with her, he wouldn’t have waited until the last minute to make dinner reservations. He would have treated the occasion as something special. He would have felt so lucky just to be out on a date with her. I feel certain that the reason we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day at a Pizza Hut is because I’m somehow not good enough.

This is the first time I’ve had this feeling, with him. It will not be the last.

V. Four years ago.

Valentine’s Day is a Saturday, and I have dinner plans with My New Boyfriend. We have only been dating for two weeks–can I even call him my boyfriend yet?– but it feels like it has been longer than that. This thing between us is bright and shiny and new, full of sparkling possibility. Yet, my feelings for him are already growing serious. He feels familiar and yet also different than any other Boy who has come before.

My New Boyfriend asks if he can make me dinner for Valentine’s Day. I tell him that would be delightful. Never before has a man other than my father made me dinner.

I am living with my grandparents, who are apprehensive about My New Boyfriend {who they have not yet met} because he is In His Thirties! {I am twenty-six. In their eyes, I am still approximately sixteen.} So I ask My New Boyfriend if he would mind picking me up for our date, saying hello to Grandma and Grandpap. I know that, as soon as they meet him, they will love him. My New Boyfriend says of course, even though this means he will have to drive forty minutes each way four separate times: to pick me up and take me to his apartment for dinner, then to drive me home and go back to his apartment at the end of the evening.

I wear a lacy pink dress and bake red velvet crinkle cookies. I write him a Valentine’s card, where I try to hold back and keep myself from gushing too much. If I have learned one thing from the Valentine’s Days in my past, it is to keep my expectations low.

My New Boyfriend picks me up, right on time, looking so handsome in a collared shirt and sweater. He has a box of toffees for my grandma, who is immediately smitten. Grandpap claps him on the back and offers him a drink. We chit-chat in the living room for a few minutes before I’m able to extricate us away from the conversation and out the front door.

Instead of taking me to his apartment, where I’ve been a couple times before, My New Boyfriend drives me to his mother’s house, which is quite possibly the most gorgeous home I have ever seen. He explains that his mother is spending the night with his sister a few towns over, and she offered up her beautiful kitchen for him to use to cook tonight’s meal. He has made a salad and roasted asparagus and salmon. It smells amazing.

Walking into the dining room to light the candles, my breath catches. He has set the table with the fancy china and silverware. At my place setting waits a box of chocolates and a card. Inside the card, he has made a word search for me–all of the words are terms and inside-jokes from our two-week courtship: my favorite yin yoga class, my dog Murray’s name, the place of our first date: Lottie’s Ice Cream Parlor.

My eyes fill with tears. I feel like I’m in a movie or a novel. I realize that I don’t have to hold myself back with this man. I don’t have to be afraid of being disappointed. He is the Valentine my seventh-grade self dreamed of: choosing me, putting in effort for me, trying to make me feel special. When he looks at me, his eyes light up. When I look at him, my heart breaks wide open.

Until now, I always thought this kind of thing happened for Other Girls in Other Lives. But now, it is happening for me.

Later, when he kisses me goodnight, all I can think about is how I hope he always wants to be my Valentine.

VI. Today.

My Husband is not making me a candlelit dinner this Valentine’s Day. It is a Wednesday, and we both won’t get home from work till after 7. Sometimes fancy homemade candlelit dinners simply aren’t practical if you have to get up for work the next morning and you want to get to bed at a decent hour. Instead, we are planning to go out to a new Thai restaurant we’ve been meaning to try.

We will exchange cards and hugs and kisses. I will remind My Husband of the crossword puzzle he made for me, our first Valentine’s Day. “Can you believe, we’d only been together for two weeks!” we’ll marvel.

“Can you believe, you drove all the way there and back, there and back, to pick me up and take me home?”

“Yeeesh. I must have really liked you,” he’ll say with a wink.

When I was in seventh grade, and ninth grade, and college, and all the years in between, I was so focused on the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day. I dove full-force into the hearts and flowers and chocolates, the parade and performance of the day. It was almost like Valentine’s Day was a milestone when I felt pressured to prove to others — to myself? — that I was loved. And again and again, the day fell flat. But it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough love in my life. It was because I was focused in the wrong tiny sliver of the pie.

Even before I met My Husband, even when I was poking an unwanted Valentine through the slit of a locker or forcing a smile as I chewed my way through a slice of lukewarm pizza, those Valentine’s Days were not wasted. I think of that girl I was, so fully ensconced in love. I think of her and I want to tell her,

Take a step back, baby girl. Look around you. Look at your family and your friends. These are the people you are going to have with you down the road. You don’t have to be so scared. You don’t have to try to force things. The kind of love you dream about is going to come into your life soon enough. Trust in it. Trust in yourself. And don’t forget to be so grateful for all the other love around you. Don’t take those Valentines for granted.

Maybe it’s easy for me to say all of this now that I’ve found My Husband. I remember those lonely wrung-out days vividly–days when I was still searching, hoping to meet him in every busy café or grocery store aisle I wandered down. I remember feeling so anxious and unmoored, worried that I might never find my person. Wondering if I would ever have the easy comfort of a sure-and-solid Valentine love, like a worn-in pair of jeans–the comfort I feel today.

Maybe it’s because of My Husband that I’m able, now, to slough off the fear that used to eclipse the love within this holiday for me. Now, I can fully appreciate Valentine’s Day–not for its pomp and circumstance, but for its richness and depth. I love seeing the shy smiles on my students’ faces when I give them cards and candy. I love the rainbow crayon homemade Valentines they give me in return. I love bringing cookies to our across-the-hall neighbor Joyce and bringing chocolates to our 97-year-old Great Aunt Flo, seeing the pure surprised delight on their faces. I love mailing cards to my friends scattered around the country. I love reading and rereading the Valentines from my mom and my dad and my brother, displaying them on our kitchen table where I can see them throughout the day. I love buying myself flowers, if I want to, not needing to prove anything to anyone but simply because they are pretty and would brighten up the apartment.

This Valentine’s Day, I have everything my past self used to long for. The irony is that now, looking back, I realize that I had it all along.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader. Please tell someone you love them. And please know that you are loved and you are enough, exactly as you are.


Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and use the following questions as inspiration for some “free-writing”:

  • What is your favorite Valentine’s memory?
  • Make a list of all the love in your life–people, animals, places, activities, it all counts!
  • Write a love letter to yourself, describing in detail all the things you love about your amazing self.

fabulous friday #50

Aaaaaand just like that, it’s the weekend! It is a warm one around here and we are all trying to stay cool, and also soaking up some gorgeous sunshine outdoors. I get to meet up with this pretty lady in a few hours for dinner.

me and dana sideboard

So excited to catch up with her! Hope you’re up to something fun!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My favorite dessert of late: organic vanilla greek yogurt + fruit {raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are my faves!} + mini chocolate chips.

yogurt dessert

2. My wonderful minister gave me a copy of this little book, which takes its title from a beautiful Robert Frost Poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

nothing gold can stay

I’ve been reading through the short essays in this book when I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night, and it has been a source of comfort.

3. Last weekend I drove to Marcus Books in Oakland to attend a talk by Tavis Smiley about his new book chronicling his 20+ year friendship with Maya Angelou, My Journey With Maya. Tavis’s talk was filled with humor, wisdom, and his trademark insight. He is one of my role models! And I am savoring this book. I would definitely recommend picking up a copy — I think it would make the perfect Mother’s Day or graduation gift!

my journey with maya

I also loved these beautiful murals on the outside walls of Marcus Books:

marcus books

marcus books 2

4. My friend Jess sent me this lovely ring and a nice card in the mail, out of the blue! It was really sweet and made my day. It’s an infinity ring, symbolizing the everlasting bonds of friendship. She sent them to our friendship group from college, as a way of honoring Celine.

infinity ring

5. This *free* April reflection worksheet courtesy of Nicole at Life Less BS. It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to April and hello to May! Nicole never fails to make me feel inspired and ready to tackle my goals and BIG dreams for my life.

Questions for the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

chocolate pumpkin-spice kiss cookies

I have a simple, delicious recipe to share with you today! These cookies are easy to make, come together in a flash, and would be the perfect holiday treat for a party or get-together. I brought them to a BBQ this past weekend and they were a big hit!

I got the idea for these cookies when I came across these babies at Walgreens after getting my flu shot: pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses!

pumpkin spice hershey kisses

I was intrigued and they were on sale, so I scooped them up! When I got home, I started brainstorming what I could bake with them, and I thought about the cookies my mom makes during the holiday season using chocolate Hershey’s kisses. I thought I could make a similar cookie — except with pumpkin spice kisses, I decided I wanted a chocolate cookie base.

Rummaging around in my pantry, I found this.

chocolate cake mix

So I decided to make chocolate cake-mix cookies {similar to the funfetti cookies I made for Grandpap’s birthday two years ago.} I love cake-mix cookies because they are dense, soft and chewy. Yum!

I was able to whip these cookies up in about half an hour, and they turned out great! If you don’t have Hershey’s kisses, I think just making the chocolate cookies would also be a hit. Add in some peanut-butter chips and you’ve really got it made! 🙂

chocolate kiss cookies

chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies

– 1 box chocolate cake mix {I used triple-chocolate fudge; I bet devil’s food would be good, too!}
– 1/3 cup vegetable oil
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine cake mix, oil, eggs and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Dough will be stiff and sticky.

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, to allow dough to become easier to handle.

4. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. {Note: these cookies EXPAND quite a bit! My first batch, I made the dough balls much too big. Just a tablespoonful is enough, I promise!}

5. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are set.

6. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. While cookies are still warm, gently press a pumpkin spice kiss into the center of each one.

chocolate kiss cookies

You can easily adapt these cookies based upon your favorite Hershey’s kiss. I think using a peppermint kiss or white-chocolate kiss would be divine!

If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
aunt elaine’s peanut butter blossoms
pumpkin spice cake mix cookies
eggnog cookies with buttercream frosting

fabulous friday #38

Happy Friday! You know what this means, right? One week till Halloween!! Do you have any ghoul-tastic plans yet? {Haha, someone is obviously a liiittle too hyped up on caffeine right now… sorry!} Earl Grey before yoga + post-yoga endorphins + pumpkin chai latte from Starbucks after yoga = this version of me you are hearing from right now 🙂

Moving right along… this weekend, Allyn and I are going pumpkin-patching {don’t know if that’s actually a verb, but it is now} and I’m planning to hit up a craft store for a couple last-minute touches for my Halloween costume. If you’re looking for an easy, fun Halloween costume but don’t have any ideas, feel free to check out this post with some costumes that have worked well for me in the past!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This beautiful autumn bouquet from ProFlowers that arrived on my doorstep a couple days ago from my incredibly sweet and thoughtful dad! He sent them just because he was thinking of me and wanted to send some sunshine my way. How amazing is that? I am the luckiest daughter on the planet. I miss you, Daddy!

autumn flowers from dad

2. My favorite dessert of late: peanut butter toast topped with mini chocolate chips!

pb toast

3. Every time this song comes on the radio I do a little happy dance: “Riptide” by Vance Joy.

4. This heart-wrenchingly beautiful and wise short essay my brother wrote for HuffPost called The Girl Effect and My Grandmother. Read it, and believe me — you’ll be glad you did! Here’s a teaser:

“The agony of these missing parts applies not only to our deceased loved ones — it applies to when we allow fear to dampen courage; ignorance to imprison knowledge; and hatred to overwhelm love.”

5. My grandma’s soup. Her chicken tortilla soup just might be my favorite, but she also makes a mean split pea and curried lentil + barley. I’ll try to get the recipes for those latter two up on here soon!

grandma tortilla soup.jpg

Oh yeah, and one more thing that might explain why I’m feeling so dang happy and excited … I FINISHED MY NOVEL!!!

finished novel doc

Happy weekend, friends! Sending lots of love & joy your way! Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere. It means a lot to me 🙂

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

fabulous friday #13

Aaaand just like that, it’s Friday again! Where did this week go? I can’t believe how quickly it flew by.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My friend Janet is visiting! We’re both going to a writer’s conference in Seattle and she was able to book a flight to San Francisco to spend a couple days with me before we head to the conference together. She gets in tomorrow morning. We email and talk on the phone, but I haven’t seen her in over a year and I can’t wait to give her the biggest hug. We met in college while studying abroad in England {along with our dear friend Lauren, who lives in New York} and whenever I get together with these ladies it feels like zero time has passed at all. Lots of laughter and too much chocolate will invariably be happening in my life this weekend.

jan laur and me

{Janet, me, and Lauren on a bus in Norwich, England. This was during my headband phase 🙂 Hard to believe it’s been six years since this was taken!}

2. This song: “Happy” by Pharrell. It’s impossible for me to restrain my happy-dancing when this song comes on. So dang catchy! I think this could be the theme song for TGIF!

3. These flourless chocolate cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod. Nom nom! These babies are definitely on my baking agenda.

4. All the sweet and thoughtful people in my life. I am so blessed. Just a few examples lately: Melissa at church sent me an incredibly kind Facebook message. Kathleen invited me a comedy show and offered that I could stay with her overnight if needed. Holly texted me a happy note that got my week off to a great start. Ben left me a nice voicemail. {Ben, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I haven’t called you back yet! This weekend!} Allyn took time out of his super busy schedule to send me recommendations for places to check out in Seattle, since he used to live there. Dana, a Bay Area native, took time out of her day to compile a list of fun places Janet and I can check out while she’s visiting. And I could go on and on… I am surrounded by amazing people who make me feel very loved and grateful.

me and dana

5. These wise words from the always-wise Whitney: “A Letter to Myself at 22.” And this inspiring post from another one of my favorite bloggers, the always-inspiring Robyn: “nobody cares about your pant size.”

Now I’m off to finish a couple projects before heading into the city for dinner tonight. Happy Friday, everyone! Treat yourself to something fun today!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans for the weekend?

a year of Wooden: week 6

I can’t believe it’s late Tuesday afternoon — this week is flying by already! Yesterday I went out to lunch, caught up with my friend Chidelia via Skype, and started a new tutoring job that I’m really excited about. This morning has been busy with yoga, errands, and writing time. My apologies for being a day late with this post!

a year of wooden

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed.

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.

Last week, the challenge was to call up a friend on the phone to say hello or schedule a catch-up coffee date or lunch.

I connected with quite a few friends this past week, old and new, in a variety of communication forms — phone, email, and in person. It was simply wonderful. I feel so rejuvenated and happy when I make time to connect with my friends. I love catching up, sharing stories from our lives, and laughing together. I always want my friends to know how grateful I am to have their love and support in my life.

For this week’s challenge, in honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s bring back those elementary-school days of passing out valentines and candy hearts! Send valentines to your friends — cards, candy, glitter hearts, whatever floats your boat. The important thing is to let your friends know that you love them.

I’ll leave you with a quote I came across this week that made me smile:

chocolate quote

Have a terrific rest of your Tuesday!

Questions of the evening:

  • Do you generally give your friends valentines?
  • What is your favorite elementary-school Valentine’s Day memory?

fabulous friday #5

It’s the last friday of 2013, and it’s been far too long since I’ve done a “fabulous friday” post. So here you go…

… 5 things I’m loving right now

1. Getting to spend time with my sweet family. My poor brother is sick and hasn’t had much energy, so I rented a bunch of movies and we’ve been spending lots of time laughing and talking on the couch.

movies rented

I spy a Mr. Mur-dog sleeping on the couch!

2. Speaking of laughter, I can’t get enough of the Michael Bolton Honda commercials that have been playing this holiday season! Every time one comes on I start busting up. This one might be my favorite. They always remind me of the SNL digital short that Michael Bolton did with The Lonely Island … hilarious!

3. For Christmas, Erica got me this amazingly delicious tea from Flying Bird Botanicals called “Bluebird Morning”… it’s caffeine-free but really gives me a boost of energy in the morning. I can’t get enough!

bluebird tea

4. I also can’t get enough of these dark chocolate oranges from Trader Joe’s. The little chocolate orange slices are so cute, I can never eat just one!

dark chocolate orange

5. One of my favorite bloggers, Nicole Antoinette at A Life Less Bullsh*t, put together a wonderfully motivating and helpful guide to de-cluttering your life as you head into the new year. You can download the guide and worksheets for free on her blog, because she’s just that awesome. Something I really love about Nicole is that she always gives clear, actionable steps that you can take to make a difference starting now. In her de-cluttering guide, she breaks it down into four categories: physical space, mental space, digital space and emotional space. I’ve never felt more energized to clear out the clutter in my life and set a game plan for my goals in the new year!

Questions for the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?


gluten-free oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

I have an easy recipe to share with you today — another winning gluten-free cookie!

gf chocolate oatmeal cokies

– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup agave or maple syrup
– 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 cup peanut butter

for chocolate drizzle:
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, agave/maple syrup, and butter. Beat until creamy.

3. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking soda and baking powder and beat well.

4. Add peanut butter and mix.

5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

6. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around edges.

7. To make chocolate drizzle: microwave chocolate chips and butter for 20 seconds. Stir until chocolate and butter and melted and well-combined, microwaving more if needed. {Be careful not to burn the chocolate!}

8. Once cookies are done, let them cool and then drizzle with melted chocolate.

Enjoy! I love these with a big glass of milk!

happy 4th of july! + chocolate pb rice krispies treats

Happy 4th of July! I’m taking a few minutes today — as I try to every day, but especially today — to be grateful for all the men and women who have fought to establish and protect our nation’s independence. We are all so blessed to live in freedom. Every human being should have that blessing — in fact, it shouldn’t even be a blessing. It is a basic human right.

I’ll also be thinking today of the Four Freedoms Speech that FDR gave in 1941, and especially of the Norman Rockwell paintings that were published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. I was fortunate enough to see the original paintings a number of years ago with my Gramps and brother when a traveling exhibit came to town. I feel incredibly blessed to enjoy all of these freedoms. Clockwise from upper left: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear.

What are you doing today to celebrate the 4th of July? We’re going over to my aunt and uncle’s house for a backyard barbeque and pool party. I’m looking forward to a sunny day of relaxing with my family.

I signed up to bring dessert {no surprise there!} and I decided to bust out a new recipe that didn’t require me to turn on my oven. {It’s been so dang hot out!} I was inspired by this recipe on Money-Saving Mom for chocolate oatmeal no-bake bars. I love rice krispies treats, so I adapted the recipe to use mostly rice krispies. Here’s my take on it:

pb chocolate rice krispies

chocolate peanut butter rice krispies treats

– 1/4 cup coconut oil
– 1/4 cup maple syrup
– 1 cup peanut butter
– 2 cups mini marshmallows
– 1 cup chocolate chips
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 3 cups rice krispies

1. Grease a 9 x 13 glass pan and set aside.

2. In a big pot over medium-low heat, melt coconut oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter. Stir until melted and well-combined. {Be careful it doesn’t burn!}

3. Add vanilla and chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is all melted.

4. Add marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are melted.

5. Remove from heat. Add rolled oats and stir. Add rice krispies, one cup at a time, until well-combined.

6. Pour into the glass pan and refrigerate until chocolate has hardened and the bars have “set.”


pb chocolate rice krispies

If you liked this recipe, here are a few similar desserts that would be great to bring to a 4th of July party or potluck:

rice krispies treats with mini M&Ms
classic lemon bars
patriotic fruit cobbler
pb cup brownies
red velvet crinkle cookies

gluten-free pumpkin oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

Happy Friday, everyone! I can’t remember if I mentioned it on the blog yet, but my brother has recently started eliminating gluten from his diet, so I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen to see if I can come up with some yummy gluten-free treats! Here is a recipe that went over well in my household. Hope you enjoy!

pumpkin cookies

gluten-free pumpkin oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

– 2 cups gluten-free oats
– 1 egg
– 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
– 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie)
– 1 ripe banana, mashed
– 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter
– 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
– 2/3 cup dried cranberries
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 tbsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat the egg. Stir in maple syrup, mashed banana, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: oats, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.

4. Slowly, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and stir until combined.

5. Add chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts, and mix well.

6. Drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set in the middle and browned at the edges.

Enjoy! And have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 🙂

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