Christmas Pre-Func(tion)

Do people even say Pre-Func anymore?
Anyway, we had some old friends over for dinner last night. The house is all decorated (but that in no way implies we are ready for Christmas. No ma'am, we are not), there was a howling windstorm outside, and all was cozy inside.
A perfect night for a post-mortem on Thanksgiving, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and to give each other a pep talk for the upcoming holiday which will be equally rife with shenanigans, expectations, and probably too much of ALL THE THINGS.

So. To get the party started we had this.

My younger daughter had returned from a Young Life camp this past summer raving about BIG COOKIES and MOM I GOT THE RECIPE except IT FEEDS 900 PEOPLE. 
900 people. I'm not one to shy away from big projects but...The math to scale that recipe was crazy making, so I tossed it aside and turned to my good friend Mr. Google. Thankfully, Big Cookies, aka Pizzookies or Skillet Cookies, are a total thing so it wasn't too hard to find a recipe.

Yes, we ate it straight out of the pan. I put plates out, what was I thinking.
I was pretty convinced that we wouldn't be able to finish it and wondered how I would wrap up the leftovers.

Forgive the blurry photo. Just needed proof that yes, I clearly underestimated my friends. We polished the whole thing off. 
We definitely got the holiday season off to a good start.

Peppermint Bark Big Cookie

1/2 cup butter softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped peppermint bark (see note)
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
1 pint peppermint stick ice cream 
Hot fudge sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 inch cast iron pan with baking spray.

Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg and mix well.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low until combined. Stir in the peppermint bark and nuts if using.
Spoon the dough into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 18 minutes.
Allow the cookie to cool for about 5 minutes. Top with the pint of ice cream and then spoon some hot fudge over the top. Serve immediately with spoons for all, clearly who would need a plate for this.

I did not have peppermint bark so I used 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and a cup of Andes brand peppermint crunch baking chips.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, Snoqualamie Ice Cream Peppermint Stick Gelato will serve you well.

We Were Naive

My friend and I.
We thought these summers were endless. Summers filled with kayaks, piles of wet beach towels, giggles and whispers drifting upstairs from the basement, long walks, and late night campfires with both our families snuggled close.

A well loved backyard at the cabin

Our blissful summers by the lake were soon interrupted by camp counseling gigs, dropping kids off at unversity, summer internships, study abroad, and career changes.

All grown up. New Years Eve 2014.

I can't say that I begrudge our kids any moment of the story they are writing for their lives, BUT.
I'd like to turn back the clock.
I want a moment to memorize the sound of their collective laughter.
I want to freeze a snapshot (or two or twelve) of them playing, teasing, becoming siblings.
I want to go back and take advantage of those days that I thought would always be.

This summer took me off guard. But it is still good. Really good. The older kids caught up with each other while studying abroad, the youngers grabbed each other in between their summer comings and goings. I think it was a glimpse of what their adult friendships will look like.
And us parents? We spent a few evenings contemplating the looming empty nest.

Empty. Nest. Can I just say that the term "Empty Nest" conjures the image of champagne AND tissues. A totally celebratory weepfest.


One hot summer evening the twins dropped by with a bag of peaches from the over abundant tree on their property. They were perfectly ripe and smelled heavenly. I had planned to use them in a pie but the week got away from me, as did the peaches. They quickly became more suitable for jam. And what better way to preserve our summer memories than in a few jars of peach butter.

Lakepoint Place Peach Butter
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 pounds peaches, pitted, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
Juice of one lemon

Place peaches and water in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the peaches from heat and puree, I used an immersion blender. I made mine very smooth but I'll leave it up to you as to how you like your fruit butter.
Return the peach puree to the pot and add the sugar, and lemon juice. Bring this to a simmer/low boil and cook for 40 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
Now, the peach butter is done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear trail when scraped across the bottom of the pan. IMPORTANT NOTE: I cooked my peach butter for an hour and a half and still did not achieve this. I gave up out of boredom and spooned it into jars and called it good. It's a bit on the thin side and could double as a sauce. All I can say is whatever.
Kept airtight in the fridge it should last you two weeks. If you want directions on how to can the jars see the original post on Smitten Kitchen.

One Day Soon....

Senior year. Senior. Year. 46 days until she graduates. I can't even.

This child who still holds my hand, snuggles in close, and whispers that I am her best friend is ready to fly. She is so very ready to fly.

I'm not ready to let go. Not yet. There is still so much to be said, to be taught, to experience. Have I made her understand how remarkable she is? She is brave, and a truth teller, and tender hearted.
So tender hearted.
She is GRACIOUS, and merciful. And... she can be a handful.
There is a reason we call her Le Petit Générale.

Bali Indonesia 2003

Her sister used to say that Morgy was just like the center of a cinnamon roll. Warm and soft, and squishy. If you had the pleasure of knowing her when she was a child you would remember her hands. Oh Lord, those hands. Little pillows of squishy goodness.

So I am grateful for these days. For early mornings when my family room is filled with her friends who have come for breakfast before school. For soft murmurs of them praying for each other. For snapchats, and texts, and a Gilmore Girl binge watching companion. I am even grateful for all the times she loses things and needs help to find them. Every mom knows it is nice when they still need you a little bit.

And while one day soon she will fly, we have some time left.