My Giant Samoa Cookie

I made this version of a giant Samoa cookie for our Girl Scout End Year Celebration last year & have made it again, this year.  Now, I  want to share it with you!

Giant Samoa Cookie

Ingredients:

Cookie Base-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Samoa Topping-

  • 3 cups shredded coconut, sweetened

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

  • 425 grams soft caramels

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Watch the video here to get a visual of this technique.

  1. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch-thick. Use a bowl or plate to cut it into a large circle (make sure it will fit on your baking sheet!). Transfer the circle to a sheet of parchment paper, then place on a baking sheet. Slice a smaller circle out of the center to create a ring. Prick the surface with a fork, then bake at 325F for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

  1. Evenly sprinkle the shredded coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, until the coconut is toasted. Set aside.

  1. Spread about half of the melted chocolate onto the underside of the shortbread cookie, completely covering the base. Transfer the cookie to the freezer or fridge for the chocolate to set, while you make the topping.Place the soft caramels, milk and salt in a pot and set to medium heat. Stir constantly until the caramel has completely melted. Pour the caramel into a bowl with the toasted coconut, reserving about 1/3 cup of caramel. Mix the coconut and caramel mixture together.

  1. Spread the remaining caramel onto the non-chocolate side of the shortbread cookie. Generously spoon the coconut caramel mixture on top. Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the coconut. Enjoy!

So that’s it!  These are all pics from my very own creations.  All of the pictures in this post were from this year & last.    I hope that you enjoy & that you make it for your next Girl Scout celebration!

 

 

FREE {printable) Spring Stickers for your Happy Planner

I’m so excited about my VERY FIRST set of FREE Spring Happy Planner Stickers!

(This post contains affiliate links).

I have long been a fan of the Michael’s brand Happy Planners & now I (and you do too) get to decorate them for the seasons with my new free printable stickers.

If you’re not familiar with the Happy Planner, you can find them at Michael’s, sometimes Walmart, at Joann’s and of course on Amazon.com.

I prefer to get mine from Michael’s and actually did get the one that I have from there because I like using my coupons.

I designed these printables with spring in mind: pale pinks, greys and some green, sure to brighten any day.

I also wanted to use some inspirational quotes like, “Seize the Day” and “Now faith”; things to remind you to remember you, “Why” and to help, give you that push and sense of meaning to get you through the day or week.

I have used these in my actual planner.  So I wanted to make sure and pick and theme with colors that I actually loved.

To adorn your planner with these happy stickers, just click on the files below, and save them to your pc or flashdrive.  You can either print on to regular paper and use a double-sided adhesive tape or a light glue, OR you have it printed directly on to full label sticker paper and then cut each sticker to size as needed.

I hope that you enjoy these fun printable stickers as much as I do.

Download your free stickers here now:

Page 1:

and Page 2:

 

Happy Planning!

~Chemeeka 

 

Sweet Cream Cookies

I love making homemade cookies.  Each year, usually around Christmas, Thanksgiving or holidays (or anytime), I break out a batch of cookies & every now and again, I hit on a favorite.  THIS particular cookie has been a real favorite of the ones that I’ve made for my own family & relatives alike.

I call it my Sweet Cream Cookie because although the originally recipe says that it’s “Stawberries & Cream”, I have used so many different varieties of fruit fillings to fill the center with.

 

I’ve done these cookies with guava, blackberry, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, and lime.  They’re absolutely delicious with whatever fruit flavored filling, you fill them with.

Where did I get the original recipe?  From this Cookie Magazine here:

It was one of those $9.99 magazines that you see at the checkout counter that actually looks different from the rest, and I don’t mean in just the content.

It’s the quality of the cover & the quality of the image of the recipe.  And if you’re used to cooking & baking, then you can sometimes just look at the cover image that’s on the magazine & know that the recipes that are inside are going to be GREAT.  Then, you’ll usually look down to check the price of said cover and it’s, oh, $9.99 or $10.99….and in this case, totally worth it! 

 

I have been making cookie recipes out of this magazine for almost ten years (since 2009)!  And, I love them every time.  There are old favorites that are tried and true to my repertoire and this is one of them.

You start this cookie, just like you would any rich & buttery cookie, with butter and cream cheese.  And then it all goes uphill from there!

 

My dad asked me to make this cookie the other day, so I wanted to start out with a new variety of flavors. First I went with the recipe original,

which is strawberry, and then I added the apricot jelly to it, and last but not least, I got lucky at the new LIDL’s by us and found this nice blueberry jelly.

You don’t often see blueberry jellies or jams sold in stores.  I don’t ever have a problem finding strawberry, blackberry, grape or apricot, but when I can find something like peach or blueberry, I grab it!

I made a single batch of this recipe (which yields about 5 dozen cookies–that’s if you don’t eat the batter along the way, lol!)

I grabbed my cookie containers for $1/each from the Dollar Tree (and that includes the top and the bottom of the container), and I made one to send to a friend & one to my dad.

They were absolutely delicious!

 

~Chemeeka 

Valentine’s Day Toffee Crackers

I loved making the Christmas toffee crackers with my kids, so much that they inspired me to make them in this sweet Valentine’s Day version.

All of the steps in the process are pretty much the same.

 

Except, you will want to substitute out pink vanilla wafers for your chocolate chips.

 

Add in your Valentine’s sprinkles & your good-to-go!

 

Now was that easy or what for a Valentine’s treat?

So what are you making for the kids this Valentine’s Day?

 

xo- Chemeeka  

Christmas Toffee Crackers

I have seen this cookie recipe so many times.  Moreover, I had tried this cookie so many times and LOVED IT!  The first time that I had it was at a Christmas Cookie Swap with a mom’s group years ago.

I knew then how easy it was, but had just never tried it for myself until this past Christmas.  Big Mistake!  My intentions were to make these & give them out to the neighbors, but what actually happened was the little treat bags that they were in never left my kitchen.  Well, except for one neighbor.  His did make it (see the one in the container pictured above).  Let’s get into this recipe.   It’s super simple & super delicious.

You start out with lining a shallow baking pan with parchment paper & not aluminum foil.  Why do I tell you that?  Because it will be far easier to remove your crackers once the toffee has been cooled from the parchment paper,  then from the aluminum foil.  It’s just that simple.

Next, you want to dissolve the brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and over medium high heat.

Don’t make the same mistake that I did, of melting the butter first and then adding the brown sugar to it, the second time that I made these.  The brown sugar & butter won’t become the lovely bubbly caramel that you’ll need if you do!

 

Next, pour your toffee over your parchment lined pan of crackers & let it sit for a few minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes on 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately add the chips.

If your chocolate chips don’t melt for a while after sitting there, then you can put the pan back into the warm oven for 2-3 minutes.

Spread your chips evenly with a spatula or a clean butter knife, sprinkle on toffee pieces, sprinkles or nuts.  Chill for 2 hours then break to enjoy!

 

If you’re planning on sharing these with friends or family DO NOT sample before doing so.  Otherwise, they may not get any, as they are just that good!

Sincerely,

Chemeeka from Things She Makes

Old Fashioned Pancake Recipe

One of my favorite things to make, is a batch of fluffy, buttery, homemade pancakes.  My kids absolutely LOVE it when make them my homemade pancakes & syrup and I do too!  Often times, I will whip up a batch following scrambled eggs & sausage, or on an occasion we will just have the pancakes with eggs, for breakfast OR dinner.

(Sorry for the blurry pic).

The crux of these pancakes, is all in the whisk!  Here are a few tips:

(1) Make it by hand, and with a hand whisk.

Call me old-fashioned, but pancakes and waffles are one semi-baked item (if you’re making waffles) that you don’t need any equipment.

(This post contains affiliate links).

(2) Take the time to make sure that your dry ingredients are blended well, before adding the wet ingredients.

I know that we all have that moment that we just want to, “get it done!”  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a dessert, lots of times, we’re ready to just throw it all into a pan or a bowl and let it go.  Whisper, “You can do that with this.”

It is always best to combine your dry ingredients fully, first.  Why?  Because the arduous task of trying to back-peddle those clumps of un-combined flour aren’t worth it.  And they’re going to turn your fluffy, butter pancakes into, “Hmm, what was that?  Hmm, that was just a hardened clump of cooked flour.”  You don’t want that!

(3) If at all possible, use a pour-able bowl.  It just makes it easier when it’s time to make your pancakes/waffles.  I am using one that I got from Pampered Chef years ago.  If you don’t have a local PC rep, you can also try using one of these:

Mainstays BPA-free Plastic 6pc Mixing Bowl Set

Cake Boss 2-Piece Melamine Mixing Bowl Set

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set, Blue/Green/Yellow

Next, you’ll want to use a hot pan or griddle.   For my pancakes, I use a flat metal griddle, like this one.  However, a portable cook-top style griddle could work just as well.

Presto 07211 Liddle Griddle
When it comes to serving, we’ve had everything from fresh fruit and whipped cream, to chocolate syrup & chocolate chips.

However, sometimes old classics never go out of style.

 

-Chemeeka 

Printable copy here: Old Fashioned Pancake Recipe

 

Five Things That You Should Do Before Logging on to Social Media

So here we are in the New Year, and so many of us, myself included, have lofty goals.  Well, maybe not so lofty:

(1) Lose weight

(2) Wake up earlier

(3) Go to be on time

(4) Eat healthier

(5) Save more money

(6) Spend less money

(7) Spend less time on social media

And the list goes on…

(This post contains affiliate links)

I find for myself, my usual day is more productive when I start off focused.  When I don’t log on to social media and when I do have a tangible “to-do” list.

I can honestly say, over this past year of 2017, I have become a lot more like the wife & mother that I want to be, rather than not.  And that took some diligence.  It took intentionality.  Most of all, it took cutting out what I was not, and honing that focus in, on a daily basis.   Consider the analogy of the mayonnaise jar, if you will, where you are actually intentional about what goes in first  and then next, and in what order and how much space there is left (prioritizing).

I put the big stones in first.  One thing that I want to always do, and want my kids to remember doing, when they’re adults, is ending the day on a soft note.  Leaving them with a good feeling about who they are & what they have accomplished in a day, and what they have to look forward to.

That is one of my large stones.

I am sure that you have large stones of your own.  One thing that is sure to get you sidetracked is to check-in with social media the second that you open your eyes.

There are many other significant things to aim the 24 hours that you have been given at.  Social media can be a time waster.  You’ll say that you’re just logging on to see what’s going on in the world, but may I ask, “What is going on with your goals?” And, “How far are you away from reaching those goals in comparison to last year?”

It’s the little things in life that, in the long run, are going to make the biggest difference.  In regards to your goals, it’s going to that little chiseling away at the colossal task that is in front of you.  All it takes is a little bit each day.

Enough with the lecturing.  Here are, The Five Things that You Should Do Before Logging on to Social Media Each Day.

(1) Record Gratitude.


It seems simple enough.  Right?  The first thing that you should do each day is not only to “be” grateful in your mind & heart (after all, we’d probably all say that we’re grateful to be able to lay in the bed and scan our phones, but before you do so) actually record your gratitude for the previous day, the current day, and any specific blessings.

Last year, I read in the book  The Secret  that one of the keys to receiving more of anything is to be grateful!  I have to tell you that for every area of my life that I practice the tools and techniques of gratitude outlined in the book, “The Secret” and in “The Magic“, I received abundance and favor and noticed a dramatic increase, in those particular doors opening.  (You gotta read it!  Not just for me but for yourself!)

(2) Pray for your children.

I love this next book that I came across.  It is by Stormie Omartian, who is also the author of, “Power of a Praying Wife”, “Power of a Praying Woman”, “Power of a Praying Grandparent” and many others:


I absolutely love, love, love this book because it literally outlines (in 31 chapters to be exact), how you can pray for your child, specifically.

I personally like to insert my children’s names when I do so.

Before you log on to social media for the day, or even for the first time, before you click any of your social media buttons, PRAY for your child(ren) and your spouse.  A little extra prayer can never hurt.

(3) Exercize

I swear with each day, that I am going to wait until I get the kids off to school and get my chores done, that I am finally going to pop in my head phones and get a little work out in.  It never happens.  Who am I kidding?  However, if I am up before everyone else, and sure enough awake before anyone else is even thinking about getting out of bed, then that is my time to get my little work out routine in.

Keep it simple, and start with stretches or a warm up before you begin.

Disclaimer

(4) Write a blog post.

This one really touches home for me.  One of my blog-goals for 2017 was to begin writing down blog post ideas during the day as they came to me.  And the second step being, actually mapping out when those posts should appear or when I thought that they would be relevant.  Once again, a lot like the excersizing portion, if I fool myself into thinking that I am going to sit down and write out my post, in the midst of the throws of my day, many times, it is not going to happen.

One of the tools that I have found helpful has been to hash out my notes in either a note-taking app on my phone or with pen & paper in a notebook.  Sometimes the inspiration does come in the wee-hours of the morning & even long before I actually want to see the glare of the computer screen.  Right then and there, by completing that one step of getting my thoughts out onto paper, in the quiet of the not-yet day, when the time comes (again, using the prompting of wanting to check in on social media as your cue), I can sit down and hammer out a post, to check off of my to-do list!

Last but not least,
(5) Complete a project.

We moms always, always, always, have a batch of dishes that need to be done, or a load of laundry that needs to be folded, or better yet, a stash of laundry that needs to be purged and clothes from the last weather season swapped out.  Before you log in to social media for the day, to moment to get one thing (at the minimum) off of your to-do list.

“Been meaning to get clothes ready for an upcoming consignment sale?”  Get it done.

“Got an outfit that needs to be returned/exchanged at the store for the correct size?”  Pull it and get it sorted out (& done).

“Is your minivan or vehicle do a quick cleaning out, vacuuming, organizing, wiped-down or purging?”  Get it done.

“Do you have last season’s decorations still up at your house?”  Well, then swap those out too!

There is always, always, always, something meaningful & productive that needs to be done.  Before you log on to social media for the day, do one or all of these five things & rest assured that you’ll be glad that you did.

-Chemeeka 

My Little LIDL find…. {with Advent Calendar with printable reading schedule}

 

I am so excited to share with you my latest little LIDL find, and just in time for Christmas!

I went to check out the new LIDL supermarket in our area, and just as I began to browse to see what all they had, I stumbled across this- an advent calendar!

(This post contains some affiliate links):

I had been wanting to do some sort of Advent tradition with the kids.  Whether it was reading a new Christmas book every night, or opening up a little gift, or reading a verse… I just knew that I wanted to do something.  Anything, in fact would be good.  So when I ran across that sweet find, it totally fit the bill!  After I got it home and took it out of the package, I hung it up and then noticed that it needed to be ironed.  So, I took it back down, and gave it a quick once over with the old iron.

In case you are wondering, I used one of these hooks to hang it on the side of my fridge.

The material is super sturdy & thick.  The pockets are nicely done.  (The seamstress in me is noticing all of the details!)  And to top it off, the calendar itself was all of $4 bucks.

You can’t beat that!

Here are some other Advent calendars that you might like:

I set ours up right next to our hot cocoa and cookies bar.  So the kids have something special to look forward to in addition to our nightly Christmas traditions.

We are also using this FREE printable guide  to go along with our advent, as well as some yummy chocolate coins.  This calendar is just part of our Christmas tradition this year and I hope that it is something that you will incorporate into your own home.

 

Sincerely,

xo Chemeeka 

8 Traditions that you should start this Christmas…

Christmas can be that time of year when the days fly by, financial stressors are high, schedules are busier, and for one reason or another, the magic of Christmas seems to always be outside of your reach.

This Christmas, I want to give you 8 practical ways, to make your home a haven and the destination of your heart a place where Christmas finds it’s warmth and the season finds a spot for you to sip and savor in those moments that your family will treasure for years to come!

This is my guide for the 8 Traditions that you’ll want to start this Christmas:

  1. Make Christmas ornaments

Pom Pom & Pinecone Ornaments

There are a TON of handmade ornaments that your kids can make.  Some with little or no help from mom/dad and others that you’ll have to more closely manage.

Santa Handprint Ornaments

Nonetheless, being able to capture the preciousness of having an item that was handmade by your child to look back on, is always a priceless treasure.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Don’t forget to scribble their name & age on the back (ie.  “Maria, age 4-Christmas 2017”) before you stash them away  until next year.

2. Bake cookies

There are so many yummy & simple Christmas cookies recipes out there that you really don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

(This post contains affiliate links)

The most important thing about this step is actually getting into the kitchen with your little ones.  Take a simple recipe like Russian Tea Cakes, grab some aprons, (a little patience) and enjoy!  I will assure you that there are memories in measuring out the flour & sugar that your kids won’t soon forget.

3. Decorating the Tree

The task seems simple enough, “Right?”  Well, not always.  If you’re one of those that has OOPD (Obsessive Ornament Placement Disorder-I’m not 100 % sure but I have heard that such a thing does exist) than having your kids join you -or take over completely- in the decorating of the Christmas tree may not seem like a doable option.  However if you’re a part of the percentage of the population that doesn’t mind where the ornaments go, then why not this Christmas, share the task of trimming the tree with the little ones in your home.  They’d likely always remember that they played an important part of helping to bring the magic of Christmas into your home.

4. Come home to the sound of  Christmas music

I feel like most of the retail stores have my number when I am not even thinking about Christmas just yet, and I walk in their door to pick up something totally random and I smell the scent of cinnamon and hear Christmas music playing.  Nothing puts me into the spirit faster than a few decorations, some holiday scents, and Christmas music.

This Christmas, grab a couple of Christmas cd’s at that start of your morning or just before the kids get home from school, throw a disc of season-themed music into the cd player and get the sounds of Christmas swirling around the atmosphere!

5. Make Hot Apple Cider

The smells of Christmas…ah, yes!  Nothing says Christmas more in your home that the aroma.  If you’re not a baker, than this recipe is perfect for you!  Grab some oranges, cinnamon sticks, a few frozen cranberries and some apple cider, throw them into your crock pot and you’re good to go!

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider 

Not a fan of cranberry, then check out these other recipes: Crockpot Caramel Apple Cider, Crockpot Mulled Apple Cider, and Slow Cooker Apple Cider.

6. Open a gift per night

We often use Thanksgiving as a time to rehearse the things in our lives that we are thankful for.  Why not this Christmas use simple gift wrapping ideas and package up individual gifts that have one word on a sheet of paper per box.

Alternate each night who gets to pick to open a gift, and for the word that is found on the paper inside (“Grateful”, “hopeful”, “thankful”, “happy” etc.) , go around the family and share expressions of what that word makes you think of and what are they, “hopeful” for.

 

7. Read Christmas stories

It’s easy to forgo sitting down & snuggling up to the sounds of mom or dad reading an old Christmas story but this really is the time of year to do so.  Rather than keeping up with the demands of the hurriedness of the season.  Grab some of your favorite Christmas stories & make the memory of reading them together with your family.  Whether around the dinner table or just before bed, this is a moment that you’re kids will enjoy.

8. Set up a hot cocoa bar

Add a little bit of magic to your Christmas decor this year by having a designated space (a small side table will do) for a hot cocoa bar.  Set out Christmas mugs (I found these at the Dollar Tree), some hot cocoa packets, Christmas cookies, and add a bowl of white chocolate chips, brown chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and candy canes.

You can also grab everything that you’ll need for your hot cocoa bar here:

Melamine Christmas Tree Platter
Santa Claus Christmas Decor Mug Dishwasher/Microwave Safe (4)
Chocolate Dipped Oreo Cookies decorated for Christmas 7 Oreo Assortment, Milk Chocolate
Nestle TOLL HOUSE Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels 12 oz. Bag
Nestle Tollhouse Premier White Morsels, 12 Ounce
Jet Puffed Miniature Marshmallows – 16 Ounces
Brachs 12- 6oz. Peppermint Candy Canes

With that, you should be off to a great start for a Merry Christmas!