Carelessly-made Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – A Barn Owl Recipe

One of the things that the Barn Owl loves doing with the kids is making chocolate chip cookies. It is just tons of messy fun for him.

I am always amazed by the careless way that the Barn Owl follows (or doesn’t follow) recipes, generally doing everything by approximation and haphazardly slinging ingredients into the mixing bowl – and it always turns out tasting delicious!

Here is the Barn Owl’s chocolate chip cookies recipe. These cookies are a favourite in our household – slightly crisp on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth chewy on the inside!

Little E is a Cookie Monster!

Little E is a Cookie Monster!

The Barn Owl’s Carelessly-made Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

Barn Owl’s advisory note #1: Don’t bother to accurately measure anything

  • 2 1/4cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Most of a block of unsalted butter (about 225-250g or 1 cup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

    Barn Owl’s advisory note #2: If you have no dark chocolate chips, get a bar of dark chocolate and smash it to pieces with a hammer. Or a mallet. Whatever.

  • Baking sheet
  • Greaseproof paper

Instructions:

  1. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs together until smooth and you can’t see the sugar anymore
  2. Add flour and baking soda and mix together until you can’t see the flour anymore
  3. Eat some of the chocolate chips or chocolate pieces
  4. Stir in the rest of the chocolate chips or chocolate pieces.
  5. Refrain from eating raw cookie dough – it’s bad for you
  6. Line baking sheet/tray with greaseproof paper
  7. Using a tablespoon, dish out spoon sized portions of cookie dough and drop onto the tray with each lump of dough about 2 inches apart
  8. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and cool for 1-2 minutes before eating (or scarf them down straight away – whatever works for you!)
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Tasty tasty tasty!

Last Minute Teacher’s Day Craft Ideas: DIY Photo bookmark

When J and I were brainstorming for ideas for a good Teacher’s Day gift, Little E mentioned that she wanted to make a gift for her teachers too. However, she did not want to give her preschool teachers a pen, like her older brother, citing that her teachers hardly ever use pens at all. She decided that she wanted to give her teachers a bookmark.

I railed against the idea of giving her teacher’s the usual plain rectangular bookmark covered with random stickers and scribbles, which although it would be made with tender loving care, would not be very memorable. So, we decided to make photo bookmarks instead.

A simple and meaningful bookmark craft!

A simple and meaningful bookmark craft!

What you will need:

  1. A computer
  2. A digital camera or smartphone
  3. A printer
  4. Blank card paper or matte photo paper (we used matte photo paper)
  5. Scissors
  6. Paper knife or craft knife
  7. (Optional: Alphabet stamps and ink)

How we did it:

  1. We started off by taking a picture of Little E standing in front of a white background, holding her arms slightly away from her sides.
  2. To make Little E stand out against a white background, I asked her to choose clothes with a bright pattern on it. I also smoothed her hair into different hairstyles to see which one would work the best.
  3. Using a word processing programme on the computer, I drew boxes that were roughly 2″ x 6″ in size and inserted Little E’s photos into each one, making sure that the width of her picture was exactly 2″. (With the page setup in ‘landscape’ format, I could fit 5 bookmarks in a row vertically and 2 bookmark horizontally)
  4. I printed off the cards onto matte photo paper, and carefully cut them out using scissors.
  5. Using a sharp paper knife, I carefully cut out the outline of Little E’s head, shoulders and arms and along the sides of her dress, extending the edge of the dress to the end of the bookmark.
  6. On the back of the bookmark, Little E used alphabet rubber stamps to print a short message to each of her teachers
  7. Ta-Dah! The bookmarks are done!

I hope Little E’s teachers get some good use out of the bookmarks and enjoy seeing her little face smiling up at them each day!

Last Minute Teacher’s Day Craft Ideas: Photo Pen-Holder Card

Teacher’s Day is just around the corner, and the kids and I were trying to come up with simple gift ideas.

J wanted to give each of his teachers a pen as he noticed that all of his teachers seem to use up pens very quickly. I thought that this was a very practical but rather impersonal gift, so our challenge was to come up with a way to present his gift that was not only unique but memorable.

We decided that we would make Teacher’s Day cards using J’s photo and slot a pen into each one, so that it would look as if he was holding the pen like a light saber!

A unique card for Teacher's Day!

A unique card for Teacher’s Day!

What you will need:

  1. A computer
  2. A digital camera or smartphone
  3. A printer
  4. Blank card paper or matte photo paper (we used matte photo paper)
  5. Scissors
  6. Paper knife or craft knife
  7. (Optional: Alphabet stamps and ink)

How we did it:

  1. We started off by taking a picture of J holding a small object in his hands (so that his fingers would curl naturally) against a white background.
  2. To make J stand out against a white background, I asked him to choose dark clothes with a bright pattern on it.
  3. Using a word processing programme on the computer, I inserted J’s photo into the file, carefully positioning it so that his hands were roughly in the centre of the card.
  4. I printed off the cards onto matte photo paper, and J carefully cut them out using scissors.
  5. You can actually just print out a message on the left side of the card, but we decided that it would be more personal if J handstamped his message. We got our alphabet stamps from The Paper Stone (the stamping ink was a gift from a friend), but most scrapbooking or craft stores will have something similar.
  6. Using a sharp paper knife, I carefully cut along the outline of his hand and arm, making a slit big enough to slot in the pen.
  7. I had J stamp his teachers’ names on the front of the card, and write a personal note to each teacher in the blank space next to his picture.
  8. Ta-dah! The card is done!

I really liked how the card turned out – so I might use this technique to make party favours or maybe have J holding a pencil, a lollipop or a party whistle!

The options are endless!

Birth Stories: Little E makes a big entrance (or, Labour – True or False?)

So about 10 days before Little E came, there was a little bit of fanfare. A trial run, if you will. I woke up in the morning, having strong and regular contractions, so the Barn Owl brought me into hospital.

By the time I reached the hospital, the contractions – although still coming regularly – seemed to have eased off in strength. A quick check by the doctor showed that my cervix had already dilated by 2 cm. So they kept me in hospital and had me walking around to see if anything was happening.

But nothing happened.

In fact, the contractions stopped altogether.

By the evening, I was feeling like a complete fraud so I asked my obstetrician if I could just go home. She did a brief check (I was still 2 cm dilated) but she decided the contractions had stopped and didn’t seem to be coming back, it wasn’t worth forcing the issue. So she booked me in for an appointment on the following Monday and said, laughing, ‘You’ll probably be in here again before then – but don’t forget that I’m away this weekend!’

Well, the following Monday arrived, and I was still the same. Still pregnant. Still tired.

At my doctor’s appointment, the obstetrician checked me over and…lo and behold, I was still 2 cm dilated. “We can’t have you walking around with a 2cm dilation forever,” mused my obstetrician.

I agreed with her. I was getting rather alarmed by the enormous size of my belly which was starting to extend beyond my arms’ reach. Soon I would need an extendable brush to scrub my tummy in the bath.

I had also been having a lot of difficulty walking. The ligaments in my body were naturally softening to allow the rigid pelvic bones to move apart and make space for the baby during labour. However, combined with the excessive pressure of my burgeoning belly, I began to experience what is known as ‘symphysis pubis dysfunction’, that is, the two halves of my pelvic bones would grate and grind horribly against each other whenever I moved, and occasionally, I would get a sciatic pain which would shoot down the back of my leg like lightning. I was reduced to shuffling my feet in order to get around.

Additionally, my skin was getting so problematic that I was starting to develop some form of ‘Princess and the Pea’ type sensitivity. Even the softest silken comforter and smoothest cotton sateen bedsheet felt terribly rough and scratchy, like lying on steel wool. I was up at stupid o’clock every night, tossing and turning (or rather, rolling around like a dugong on the beach), just trying to get comfortable.

I WANTED THE BABY OUT. NOW.

My obstetrician nodded sympathetically. “Let’s schedule you for an induction of labour for the morning of your estimated due date, ok?” she said, “But hopefully you will go into labour naturally before then.”

I looked at the calendar. That was a week away. Fine, fine, fine, fine, FINE. I can be patient.

A week passed and it was the day. THE DAY. The day of the estimated date of delivery!

At breakfast, The Barn Owl looked at me expectantly. I shook my head and waved goodbye to him as he headed off to work.

By this time, I’d started talking to Little E, as if cajoling her would help move things along. There’s sunshine and butterflies here, I said, coaxingly.

No response.

I really didn’t want to have to undergo an induction, I pleaded, come out soon.

No response.

YOU COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY OR SO HELP ME WE WILL GO IN THERE AND DRAG YOU OUT!

I felt the faintest hint of a backache. Was it…? It went away again. Oh nope, it’s coming back, stronger this time.

Very soon, I was having moderate contractions every ten minutes or so. I called the Barn Owl up on his mobile phone.

The Barn Owl was skeptical. After all, he’d been duped once already. “YES IT IS REAL NOW MEET ME AT THE HOSPITAL”, I said firmly, trying my best not to screech.

Then, I waddled to the study, where the Aged P was hanging out.

“Mum, I say, Mum, I’m having contractions. Could you take me to the hospital?”

The Aged P jumped three feet in the air, and started pacing around the room. “Now? Now? But what about the Barn Owl?” she squeaked in alarm.

“He’s turning the car around and going straight to the hospital and he’ll meet us there.”

The Aged P stared at me blankly. She paced the room a few more times, muttering “okokok” to herself. Then, inexplicably, she headed to the kitchen and started washing vegetables.

“Mum, I say, Mum, what are you doing? I have to get to the hospital!”

The Aged P appeared to be in some sort of a daze. At the sound of my voice, she dropped half the vegetables in the sink with a start. She walked out of the kitchen still holding a wad of bok choy, then walked back in and put them back in the fridge. She then wandered off to the bathroom to wash her hands. Looking in the mirror, she suddenly said, “I need to do my hair. Do I have time to have a shower?”

By this time, I was starting to get Real Pain. By which, I mean about 7/10 on my personal pain scale. Terrible, but barely tolerable. “I don’t know! I think you should take me now, nobody is going to see you, you can just drop me off and go home.” I said through gritted teeth.

The Aged P was taken aback. “I can’t leave you alone in your condition! You’re about to have a baby!”

“I know! We gotta go now, though. The Barn Owl will probably already be there and you can leave me with him, it’s going to be ok!”

The Aged P seemed somewhat shell-shocked but she grabbed her keys and off we went.

As we pulled up to the hospital, we saw the Barn Owl’s car turning into the carpark, so mum rang him on her mobile and told him that I was heading to the labour ward.

“Are you sure you’re going to be ok?”, the Aged P said, “You’re starting to sweat.”

“No, you go on home, Mum, I’m a bit nauseous but I’m going to be fine.”

After fussing around me for a little bit longer, the Aged P seemed unconvinced, but she reluctantly said goodbye and let the porters wheel me away to the labour ward.

“Drive safely!!!” I hollered after her retreating figure.

In the labour ward, the doctor did a check. “You’re at 2cm,” she announced cheerfully.

“2cm STILL?” I exclaimed, incredulously, “I’ve been at this all morning!”

The Barn Owl took this moment to saunter into the room. “Where have you been?” I panted, another contraction hitting me like a wave.

The Barn Owl started. So did I. My voice seemed very loud.

“I’ve just been parking the car,” he said, frowning and looking at me worriedly, “Are you doing alright?”

“I’m fine. Just great.” I said, forcing the words out and trying to form a smile.

The Barn Owl grimaced and brought a hand up to his ear.

Hm. Was I shouting? I must try and be more controlled. WHOA HERE COMES THE PAIN AGAIN.

The doctor, who seemed to have gone into a trance, suddenly interrupted our friendly exchange. “Do you want any pain relief? Some gas, maybe?” she asked brightly.

“No, I’m feeling quite nauseous so gas isn’t going to work for me. I’d like an epidural please.” I tried to whisper, but the words seemed to come out like a shriek.

The doctor retreated and returned after what seemed to be an interminable period of time but was probably only 15 minutes. She was accompanied by the anaesthetist who appeared to do everything in slow motion.

Please. Get. On. With. It! I thought to myself, gritting my teeth and breathing through the pain.

Again, the epidural kicked in and suddenly the irritating buzzing noises in my head went away, the sun came out, the birds started singing, and the Barn Owl looked at me and said, “Epidurals are great. You should have one ALL THE TIME. You were barking at everyone and being so mean.”

“What? I was not! I said ‘please’! I was being polite!”, I protested.

“You were getting louder and louder!” laughed the Barn Owl, “You were frightening the nurses! They were huddled in the corner outside the room when I arrived.”

“Was I? I was trying not to be loud. I had to force the words out in between contractions!” I protested.

Now that the pain had gone away, I lay back on the bed and tried to rest. All too soon, an hour passed, and the doctor returned on her rounds.

“Do you feel the urge to push?”, she asked.

“I’m not feeling much of anything, really.” I said, still in a state of eternal bliss.

“I think you can try pushing now.” she advised.

So I did.

After about 50 minutes of pushing, I was started to get irritated. WHY isn’t the baby coming out? After all, everyone I knew had been telling me that labour would be much easier the second time round. “This is not EASIER!”, I grumbled.

“The baby isn’t positioned optimally in the midline. She’s all squashed up, lying in a ‘Z’ shape.” said the Barn Owl, “Everytime you push, she’s getting compressed like an accordion instead of moving down. You can see it.”

“I think she has a shoulder stuck,” I complained, “Whenever I push, I feel a knobbly bit digging into the right side of my pelvis.”

The midwife and the doctor gave me a sharp look when I said that. I knew that in their mind they were thinking about the worst case scenario – that the baby would experience shoulder dystocia as a result and permanent shoulder damage.

The midwife had been pushing on one side of my abdomen with each contraction, unsuccessfully trying to shove the baby’s knees into the midline, but now she called for help from two other midwives. One of them started pushing on other side of my abdomen to try and get the baby out of the ‘Z’ shape, whilst the other put pressure on the right side of my pelvis to push the baby’s shoulder away.

A few more unsuccessful pushes later, the doctor turned to me. “I think we might have to consider an episiotomy,” she said to me, in between pushes.

“Ok, I’m considering it!!” I said with gritted teeth, as the contractions started again. I held my breath and pushed, with the three midwives pushing on my abdomen.

THUNK.

My tummy suddenly disappeared like a collapsing balloon, the trio of midwives nearly falling over me in the process.

“YIKES!”, cried the midwives.

“YIKES!”, exclaimed my doctor, as she caught Little E and flipped her onto my chest, “Incredible! She’s VERY big!”

The Barn Owl and I looked at the baby in amazement. At 4.1kg, she certainly looked very large. And surprisingly clean and pink, for a newborn baby.

“Hello, baby”, I said, as Little E opened her eyes and looked back at us.

“Waa,” Little E offered, laconically, waving her little hand royally at all of us, “Waa.”

As an afterthought, she quietly emptied her bladder on the blanket before latching on for her first breastfeed, much to the amusement of everyone present.

One Hour Old Little E discovers her finger and her eye

One Hour Old Little E discovers her finger and her eye

This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting birth stories please click on the picture below.

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If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here by Mary over at Simply Lambchops.

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Mary and her 4 lambs

Mary has not one, not two but three little lambs and one big lamb.

She writes at Simply Lambchops – her little online space to preserve precious memories of her children, and reflections on Down Syndrome through stories of her littlest one.

I am always amazed and inspired by her strength and resilience which is reflected in the spirit of all her lovely children! It is amazing to see how the whole family rallies together to love and protect little K, who has Down Syndrome, and to cheer her on for every achievement and milestone.

The lovely Yann

The lovely Yann

At next week’s stop we will be visiting Yann over at Bubsicles.

Yann is a mother to two little men who, unfortunately, believe strongly that sleep is for the weak. Therefore, she sleeps too little (for her liking) and drinks too much teh-si. She suffers from Acute Mother Guiltilitis and is also addicted to writing and photography.

I love perusing Yann’s writings which are always accompanied by the most beautiful photographs! She has such a great eye.

The Barn Owl Plates Food

Yesterday we had a nice fry-up for dinner. There’s nothing better than ‘breakfast for dinner’ type dinners. I had some nice bratwurst sausages that needed cooking, as well as left over mashed potatoes which are great for making into potato cakes. I had to scurry off to feed Thumper halfway through serving up the food, so I left it to the Barn Owl to finish plating everything up.

This is what happens when I plate food:

A delicious, hearty meal

A delicious, hearty meal

And this is what happens when the Barn Owl plates food:

Not playing with my food, honest!

Not playing with my food, honest!