Songs That Stab Me in the Heart: “Anna Begins” by Counting Crows

Skip the ad if you can, and put your earbuds in. Close your eyes. Listen. Then read the lyrics.

She’s talking in her sleep
It’s keeping me awake
And Anna begins to toss and turn
And every word is nonsense but I understand
And oh, Lord, I’m not ready for this sort of thing

Wordless Wednesday: Change

Every Tuesday night is Pancake Tuesday. Last night I changed it up and put some pumpkin and chocolate chips into the batter. This made the batter, and the pancakes, slightly orange but despite their normal fussiness the kids didn’t mind. They loved them!

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The Best Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

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A few weeks ago I met the lovely Kari Lauritzen, a new-ish blogger whose site, The Yellow Bungalow, is a delight of recipes, food and cooking tips, and other lifestyle content. We were at the opening of a cafe on the other side of town, an event that took me far too long to reach by car, which is normal in Los Angeles. By the time I arrived I was ready to eat almost anything, and there sat Kari, picking at a peanut butter cookie.

While I scarfed up bites of this and that, the others gathered at the table started talking about this peanut butter cookie, and how it wasn’t exactly the most amazing peanut butter cookie anyone there had ever tasted. “In fact,” said Kari, “the best peanut butter cookie recipe I’ve ever used is still just a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar, and an egg.”

Whaaaaat?

There was a pause in the chatter, and we all sort of cocked our heads to the right and little question marks appeared above us. As a mostly-food blogger, Kari should know what she’s talking about, so we listened. She discussed the various options to this recipe – a sprinkle of salt, rolling the cookie dough in turbinado sugar, adding a bit of baking soda for fluffiness – but she kept coming back to how easy this was and how it was the best tasting peanut butter cookie.

“How long do you bake them?” somebody asked.

“And at what temperature?” asked someone else.

Kari made a “beats me!” face and suggested 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. She makes them by feel, she said, and of course I was sure hers came out perfectly every time. She made it sound so easy.

And so it was that the following weekend I woke up far too early in the morning, and having just bought a new jar of peanut butter the night before, I impulsively decided to test this too-good-too-be-true recipe. No embellishments, just the three simple ingredients. Behold:

The Best Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

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I simply dumped everything into the bowl and mixed. Then I made dough balls of varying sizes, and either rolled them in turbinado sugar or not. I wanted to try that.

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I baked them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. They came out great. I used Trader Joe’s natural creamy peanut butter, and the cookies were crumbly and fell apart easily if touched before they cooled. Once cooled though, they were just in between soft and crunchy. I preferred the non-sugar-rolled cookies because the sugary ones seemed too sweet. But man, if you like peanut butter, you will love these!

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Because I was experimenting, this batch made about 20 cookies. We went to the beach that day so I brought them with us. There were no leftovers. I have since told a friend about this recipe and she texted me tonight telling me she can’t stop eating them.

And then for this post I finally looked up The Yellow Bungalow and here is the recipe with a pro chef treatment, so it might make more sense over there! Plus her pictures are very pretty. Thanks, Kari!

Wed

I Am a Writer

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I race to the computer. But first I furiously open a bottle of wine. But first I tear off my skinny jeans and thrust my legs into a pair of worn out, fraying “sweatshirt” shorts, the ones with a drawstring. But first I pee.

I race to the computer to say this: that I am a writer. That I wish I had listened to that pull of the words on paper that I remember first knowing when I was seven years old, when I won the city’s contest for creativity. The prize was a $50 bond. I think I still have it, pockmarked with thumbtack holes from all the places I have lived – my first prize for writing, on display. I wore a white turtleneck studded with multicolored shapes that looked like Good ‘n Plenty when they gave me the award.

Tonight I sat in my child’s third grade classroom, a monster of an adult perched on a tiny child’s chair, listening to his teacher describe the many ways that her students, her bright, inquisitive students, surprise and delight her. I heard a mother whisper to another “We’re so lucky.”

They’re so lucky. We’re so lucky. I’m so lucky.

I’m so lucky that even after decades of redirection, somehow I found my way back to writing, to the struggle of identifying myself as a writer even when nobody is paying me to write words. I’m lucky that I do this even for myself, so that when I want to remember what it was like to smell my newborn baby, or dig a steamer clam out of the Bay of Conception in Mexico, or throw a rage-fueled punch that puts a hole in a wall, I can look back on these digital bits, and remember.

Somewhere between age 7 and my stellar performance in high school, I decided that I would be a doctor. It was a great detour, a misstep, a wrong turn. I wrote during all of that. I kept a journal, a cringeworthy Moth-worthy journal of angst and teenaged love in a composition notebook in high school. I kept a journal in college, when it was now my job to process thought and spit it back out in an organized fashion. I wrote about world events like the Berlin wall coming down, the Rodney King riots, the earthquake. I wrote about young love and betrayal. I wrote about my friends. I wrote about my dying grandmother.

And then I didn’t get into medical school, and I lost a great love, and I wrote about all of that in my paper journals, too. I moved across the country to find myself and have a grand adventure, and here I am now, living in a suburb, heating up chicken nuggets before the babysitter gets here, sitting obediently in a third grade classroom at Back to School night. I’m on the board of the PTA. I wear my dyed blonde hair in a ponytail. I am a stereotype.

And I love it.

Because I have had rejections, because I have taken time off, because I have stalled at selling my story, I have been feeling like a poser, a fraud, a mother who is “working” with air quotes formed by fingers when someone asks me what I do. Still, I read books about writers, I am in a writers’ group, I am on a writers’ message board. After being a student again just for one delusional moment, I came home and picked up a book about writing, and I felt an electric moment of recognition. “Yes!” I screamed silently. “I know this! I am this!”

So that’s it. Whatever I’m doing, however successful I am at it, this is the truth. I am a writer.

I’ve always been a writer.

It’s nice to say and mean it, even if I have to keep doing this. When you’re in love, and you say “I love you,” you don’t only say it once. You keep saying it. Your lover needs positive affirmation, maybe sometimes, maybe often. So I’ll say it again.

I am a writer.

I remember.