the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Favorite Cookie Recipe

These cookies are AMAZING. Especially if you like peanut butter, which of course I do. I am sad for those who are allergic to peanuts because their tongues don't get to experience the pure joy of these cookies.

This recipe makes ~3 dozen cookies, and in my experience they are a huge hit at bake sales (because they look so pretty and taste so amazingly yummy!).


1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour (it's also good with equal portions of whole wheat and all-purpose flour)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (if you omit the chocolate chips, this is also a kick-ass peanut butter cookie)

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg. Beat in the flour mixture a little at a time. Stir the chocolate chips in with a spoon. Use a small cookie scoop to drop the dough onto cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute in the pan then move to a rack to finish cooling.

I have also doubled the recipe and made giant cookies using a 1/4 c. ice cream scoop to portion the dough onto cookie sheets (use the bottom of the scoop to smoosh them down a little bit or they won't cook all the way through before the bottoms burn). If you decide to try the giant-size version, reduce the heat of your oven to 350 F and bake for about 15-17 minutes (or until the bottoms of the cookies are brown). You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Just a quick note to tell everyone that my defense was quite successful yesterday. I feel like I talked for a REALLY long time (which I did - 50 minutes), but there was no other way to convey the results of the ridiculous number of experiments I did and tie them together in a meaningful way.

Anyway, the defense is behind me, and I can officially be called "doctor" now. Now to figure out what to do with the rest of my career and find a *gasp* Real Job. A very frightening prospect.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Case You Didn't Know...

The end of my career as a graduate student is finally FINALLY really truly concretely in sight. My defense date is set. August 18 at 3 p.m. Wish me luck.

As for all that other emotional stuff from the last post, consider it resolved. Things are ok. But my in-laws are still annoying.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Happy 6th of July!

I'm only a couple days late...

And I am also losing my damn mind. I want to tell you all about it, but I'm too pissed off. And generally a mess. Seriously. An unbelievable mess. That is me. My mom spent the past two weeks in the hospital, so that's part of it. The hospital was full of incompetent idiots that I want to smack. That's another part of it. But that's not even the half of it.

I'm full of so many conflicting emotions right now that I don't really know what I'm feeling, to be honest. Suffice it to say that I have an even shorter fuse than usual and all of the little things that have annoyed me even slightly over the past year or so are bugging me again times 1,000. So I'm scared and pissed off and worried and frustrated and selfish and hateful and full of love all at the same time. It is not a nice way to feel. Right now I'm mostly pissed off. But give me 5 seconds, and something else might take over.

I sort of want to talk about it. But mostly I don't. I don't know what I want. I can't be still. I can't concentrate on anything. I need to be distracted. I need to be grounded. I don't need offers of "help" that are really just people saying they don't want me around. No, I don't need anyone take Max off my hands for a while. He's the only thing keeping me from completely falling apart right now.

I need some people to butt the hell out and others to step up and be there for me. I hate this. God, I am such a mess right now.

So I've decided I don't really want to tell you what's going on. I just needed to rant a little.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I discovered a neat trick over the weekend. If you add a little baking powder to your chocolate chip cookies, they don't fall flat after you take them out of the oven. Maybe you don't have that problem, but I certainly do. Then I tried a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe that used both baking soda (traditionally found in chocolate chip cookies) and baking powder. That is a great recipe, but it's not what this is about. This is about your basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. My chocolate chip cookies have been puffing up beautifully in the oven then falling flat once they cool. I don't like that. So this weekend I did some experimenting. I added 1/2 tsp. of baking powder to my basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, and they look great! It didn't change the flavor at all, just kept them from losing their puffiness after they cooled. Try it out.

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (one 12 oz. package) chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugars with a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, beat well. Beat in the flour mixture about 1/2 cup or so at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop little balls of dough onto a cookie sheet (I use a small cookie scoop so they're all about the same size) about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes (maybe a bit longer if your oven runs cool). Cool for 1-2 minutes in the pan then move to a cooling rack.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Blog

...but that doesn't mean this one is toast. It just means that I created a new blog just for knitting/craft projects. It's called LaTina is Crafty. I'll be re-posting the toys from my last entry here on there, plus a few others that I've completed since then. There isn't much there yet, but stop by and check it out! It will probably be updated more often than this blog, to be honest. Ciao!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Toys, Toys, Toys! Handmade, even!

I've recently delved into a whole new world of knitting - making toys. They're so fast to make! It started with my reading a blog and seeing a pattern for a carrot before Easter. It looked super easy, so I decided to give it a try. Then I saw a really cute pattern for a lamb that also looked super easy. Which meant that both a carrot and a lamb HAD to be in Max's Easter basket this year.

The carrot pattern is from Yarn Miracle.

The lamb pattern is Fuzzy Mitten's.

After the Easter knitting rush, I had to try a frog from the same blog where I found the carrot pattern (Yarn Miracle). Actually, I bought it from her Etsy shop. The pattern was trickier than the carrot and the lamb, but it was pretty quick to knit and I love love love it. He lives on Max's play kitchen.

I made another frog in solid orange. It's going to one of Max's old daycare teachers for Teacher Appreciation Day next week. Max is sad that this frog is not going to live on his kitchen with the other one. One day I plan to make him a bigger solid green frog to go with the stripey one.

I also made a turtle for another of Max's old teachers who loves turtles. This turtle was deceptively tricky to make. Whoever wrote the pattern told a big fat lie when she said this was a quick knit.

His current teachers get tiny bunnies. This was a free pattern from Twins Knit. I bought their Tom the Bear pattern, and I plan on making him soon.

Next up: a hammerhead shark for my nephew's birthday in a few weeks. I just started the shark, but the pattern is very simple, and I should be able to finish it quickly.

Now I'm afraid I must go do actual work, as I intend to defend my dissertation in June. No firm defense date yet, but I am determined to graduate this summer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Conversations with Max

Conversation #1
Me: Man, my throat hurts.
Max: Medicine!

Conversation #2
After smelling poop, I turned to Max and said: Did you poop?
Max: (mischievous grin; points to chair he's sitting in) Chair poop.
Me: Come on, let's go get changed. You pooped.
Max: Chair poop! No change!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Struggle for Independence

Today I had an epiphany. One that frees me from some of the guilt I feel when I get annoyed with my in-laws. I finally put my finger on the quality in them that drives me so crazy. They encourage dependence instead of independence. They do as much as they can to ensure that we rely on them in some way. Some might label that 'generosity.' But I think that this is more about control. They want to do everything for us instead of letting us figure things out for ourselves. They do things, presumably to help us out, before we even have a chance to think about it. I don't even think they realize that they're doing things backwards. Their child is an adult with a child of his own, but they still want to do everything for him. Which is a nice idea, I guess. But it goes totally against the notion that your job as a parent is to foster independence and raise a child who can take care of himself.

In an ideal world, our parents would let us know that they're there for us if we need them. They would offer support in whatever way they thought appropriate but let us decide if we needed help. They would not step in and take over as much as possible when they don't actually live in the same town.

I feel like I am in a constant struggle for control over my own life and my child. They're already planning a future trip to Disney World so that my father in law can have the same experience there with Max that he had with Chad when he was little. They don't stop to think that by doing things like that, they're robbing us of the chance to have those experiences.

I don't even know where I'm going with this. Maybe nowhere. I just know that there are a zillion little things that are adding up to my wanting to avoid the hell out of my in-laws, and I don't want to feel that way. I am aware of the fact that I can be incredibly controlling, but I stand by the idea that when it comes to my kid I should be in control. Even if that means that I do things a little differently than someone else thinks I should. Even if that means that my mother in law doesn't get to buy a complete wardrobe for Max (between Christmas and his birthday, she bought him ten complete outfits, all the same size) and decide what he's going to wear for every holiday. She's already bought him two sets of Christmas pajamas for next year. I think she's annoyed that I didn't consult her before I bought his Christmas pajamas this year. And he only needs one set of Christmas pajamas. Geez. I hate wastefulness. So she knows that if she buys something I can't return easily, he'll end up wearing it. Like the Halloween costume that she brought over. In September. Did I tell you about that? I was not happy about it. I did plan on buying him one. Then she beat me to the punch. Didn't say one word about it. Just showed up with it one day.

Talking does me no good. I get a smile and nod and "I don't want to do anything to upset you" and more of the same. When Max wakes up at night and doesn't want to go back to sleep when she babysits (because she always spends the night, you know), she always volunteers to stay up with him when we're trying to get him to go back to sleep. Stay up with him meaning stay up and play, of course. Which is so not ok. And is what happened Friday night. When we got home, Max was in the guest room with MIL. I heard him wake up at 3:15, and I heard them go in Max's room. I also heard something about wet pajamas, so I figured she'd change him and go back to bed. At 3:40 I could still hear them in Max's room, talking and playing. Very loudly. At 3:40 a.m. It does not take 25 minutes to change a diaper and wet pajamas. And it should not involve lots of loud talking and giggling. 3:30 in the morning is a time for whispers and shushing and calming and encouraging sleep. I went in and asked what they were still doing up. I was told she was changing him. I'm sure I grumbled a lot. It was the middle of the freaking night, and no attempt was being made to get the baby back to sleep. When I came in the room, Max latched onto me, and I sat in the rocking chair with him (over his many protests and shouts of OUT!) until he got sleepy again. There was lots of shh-ing and very little talking. Because guess what? When you talk and play with a toddler in the middle of the night he will never go back to sleep.

Boy did that ever get off track. Sorry. The point: my in-laws want us to depend on them for as many things as possible. I am incredibly independent and hate to ask people for help. We're like oil and water. And I'm going crazy.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Chair

I successfully procured a chair for Max yesterday, and I even decorated it!
The finished product:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Color Me Annoyed

You're probably sick of hearing me bitch and moan about my in-laws, but really it's been quite a while, so here we go again. I may have failed to mention here that we finally have a local hockey team again, which means season tickets for Chad and me (well, half a season anyway), which means leaving Max with baby sitters (i.e., grandparents) on a fairly regular basis. Most of the time my mother-in-law comes down and spends the night (even though I'd rather she go home, but she has this thing about driving in Mobile at night, so she stays, and I guess it is kind of late when we get home, but I digress). Sometimes my father-in-law comes with her (and when he does, they go home afterward). Other times my mom and sister baby sit (then they go home). When I do ask my mom to come over instead of my MIL, MIL acts like it is a personal affront to her. She seems to think that she is the only person who should ever baby sit for us. But with the way things are going, I'm on the verge of revoking her baby sitting privileges all together. Even if that means giving up the free baby sitting and having to pay someone. Seriously, she's making me crazy (nothing new there, I guess).

The first couple of times MIL baby sat this hockey season, things were ok. For the most part, she did what I asked her to. And then some switch flipped in her mind, and she decided that she would just do whatever she wanted to, completely ignoring me. And I can pinpoint when this happened. Max goes to bed (in his bed, by himself) at 7:30. He's been waking up and refusing to go back to sleep in his bed sometime after 10:30 pretty much every night, so he sleeps with Chad and me after that. Well, a few weeks ago after we got home from a game, Max woke up, and Chad and I weren't ready for bed yet. We didn't want to bring him in our room with the lights on, fearing he'd never settle down. So we took him in the guest room and let him sleep with Chad's mom that night. And the three times she's baby sat since then, she hasn't put Max in his bed at all. She holds him until he falls asleep and lays down with him in the guest bed, completely bypassing the crib and ruining any chance that he will ever sleep in his bed all night by himself ever again. Grr. Or else Max tells her no when she tells him it's time for bed, and she lets him have his way. That's not something you can do with an almost two year old and expect bedtimes to go smoothly for his parents after that.

When she baby sat this past weekend, I went over everything (dinner, no bath that night, all the rashy places that needed ointment, etc) with her. I also write everything down (at her request) every time she comes over. I specifically told her that she needed to put Max in his bed, even if he put up a fuss about it. He usually settles down within five minutes. I also went into great detail about what we do when he protests at bedtime, still keeping him in his bed. This was also written down. Then she went to Chad and asked him if it was ok if Max slept in the guest bed with her anyway! Grr. Chad told her no, by the way. He told her exactly what I had told her - put Max in the crib, and if he wakes up after a few hours and won't lay back down, then let him sleep with you. But guess what she did anyway. That's right! She went to bed with him instead of putting him the crib. So guess what happens the next day. Max expects us to go to bed when it's his bedtime. But - surprise! - we aren't ready to go to sleep at 7:30. So bedtime is a big ordeal, and Max stages a huge protest. Which is what always happens when MIL lets the toddler be the boss (and this before she even attempts to put him in the bed; as soon as he says no he doesn't want to go night night, she gives in). We've talked to her about this repeatedly. But she nods, says ok, and does whatever she wants regardless.

Something else she does that makes me crazy is refusing to put anything but baby powder on Max's bottom. Even if he has diaper rash. We put Desitin on him every night because it's the best thing we've found for protecting little bottoms from a whole night's worth of pee. When we don't use Desitin, Max's bottom is red and rashy when he wakes up. When we do use it, he's fine, and there's still a layer of cream that has to be wiped off. Which is what we want, because it means that the pee isn't irritating Max's butt. I don't know why that's such a hard thing for MIL to understand. Is she squeamish about rubbing cream on a baby butt?

Chad and I are going to an NHL game in Atlanta on Saturday (we're driving back that night), so Chad asked his mom to be here early that morning so we can leave by 10 a.m. Same deal as usual, she just needs to get here a little earlier. Then she had the bright idea to let Max stay at her not at all toddler proof house (when every time he stays somewhere other than home, Max doesn't sleep well for at least a week). Which would mean we would have to pack up all the necessary paraphernalia for an overnight stay, leave our house that much earlier, and drive all the way back over to pick him up the next day. Then deal with the consequences of a night at Grandma and Grandpa's (i.e., a week of sleepless, cranky nights). No thank you. We told her we would prefer if she would come over here, but she just wouldn't let it go. She kept telling Max to ask us to let him stay at Grandma's and just kept pushing the idea. After the 8th time she mentioned it (and after having told her no seven times) I finally just ignored her. If my mom didn't have to go home (she has three inside dogs, so someone has to let them out), I'd ask her to come stay instead.

Then there's the matter of buying huge and unnecessary things that we don't have room for. I put a child-size wooden chair on Max's Christmas list, and MIL asked me back in October or November if we would rather have a table and chairs for Max. I told her no. We just need a chair or two for him to use at the coffee table or the little table that is already in his room so he can sit there and color and have snacks and stuff. We don't have any place to put a table. Then on Thanksgiving, she saw a Black Friday deal on a table and chair set from Walmart. She asked me if I'd seen it (yes) and if I wanted her to get it (no, we don't have room for a table, he just needs a chair). But she bought it anyway. It's still at her house. We didn't have room for it in the car when we were there on Christmas, and really we don't have any place to put it at home anyway. Plus, it's kind of flimsy and not at all what I had in mind. So Max still needs a chair to use at the coffee table. He's been dumping out his toy bin, flipping it over, and sitting on that. Or pushing his riding toy over and sitting on that. I'm going out to Toys R Us today to get him a smock (my brother got him markers for Christmas, and Max loves them, but he keeps drawing on his clothes). I'm going to look and see what they have there, and if I can't find anything, I'll probably stop at Michael's or Hobby Lobby and get one of those little unfinished wood chairs. I might even get some paint and stencils and personalize it for him.