# neiman marcus cookies

I’m sure you’ve heard the famed tale. Lady begs Neiman Marcus for their famous cookie recipe. They charge her $250. She gets her revenge by spreading the recipe far and wide. The rest is history.

This recipe is the Paul Bunyan of the baking world. Sorry to burst any bubbles.

But that doesn’t make it any less amazing.

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These babies were the star of our Super Bowl spread. I hadn’t had them in years and it was such a glorious moment to be reacquainted with them. Thanks, Dad.

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I think what makes them so special to me is the addition of oats. But not whole oats that would make them overly chewy. BLENDED oats that result in all that nutty oat flavor without the extra chew.

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There’s also chocolate chips AND grated milk chocolate. It’s a match made in Neiman-Marcus-lies heaven. This is seriously one of my favorite cookies. Make it for your Oscar party tomorrow!

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Neiman Marcus Cookies

2½ c. rolled oats
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
4 oz. milk chocolate, grated
1½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Measure the oats into a food processor or blender, and blend to a fine powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the blended oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate and nuts.

Roll the dough into balls and place about two inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges are set but the center still looks undone, about 11 minutes. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days (they can also be frozen for up to 2 months).

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# tulsa trip (January 2016), part 3

The final piece of the Oklahoma puzzle! Picking up right where I left off…

We had a belated birthday celebration for Lily right after Bryan and Robbi’s shower. Our little reader got a slew of awesome new books, including one of my faves (Nancy Drew) from one of my faves (Memaw).

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We went for the Yoda birthday card that made you blow out your own candles, mostly so Tim and I could try all night.

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Then we just relaxed…

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…and took awkward pictures next to our height-challenged grandmother.

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And Lily surprised me with a few photos of her own. Haha, I love this one.

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There was the most spectacular sunset that night. Their front view is A++++!

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Later that night, when it was just the sibs, Lily had us pass a ball around a circle using only the body part she called out.

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I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in my life.

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The neck one was just a taaaad uncomfortable…or awesome, depending on who was up.

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The next morning was my last with these cuties. Linc…he is so expressive. These were all taken in quick succession.

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It makes my heart sing to see him and Lily get along so well. Knucks!

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Well, usually so well.

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That night was the Super Bowl, which called for a ridiculously awesome spread of snacks at my Dad’s house.

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More on those cookies this weekend. They knocked my socks off.

Then I was on a plane back to Utah with my heart and my stomach so full.  And when I was walking to the baggage claim, I noticed that Sports Illustrated had copied our shower game for their cover, haha.

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That’s a wrap on a very action-packed trip!

# camping-themed baby shower for Bryan and Robbi (Tulsa Trip, part 2)

The purpose of my visit to Tulsa wasn’t just to stock up on Mexican food and Aunt NoNo time. It was to co-host a baby shower for my brother and his wife with my sister!

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Bryan and Robbi are due in April with their first, a boy. Their nursery is camping themed, so Booh and I wanted to mirror that in the shower. Here are all the details, starting with the decorations.

Like the shower I threw for Booh when she had Linc, we did a garland of clothes that made for a cute present-opening backdrop, as well as bonus gifts for them to take home.

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All of the clothes were outdoor- or camping-themed. This Utah girl especially likes all of the flannel numbers.

As you walked in, we had a camping alphabet book we re-purposed as the guest book. We also rifled through Lily and Linc’s toys to use this awesome Land of Nod campfire set as the center of the present drop-off.

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Also, this Land of Nod teepee.

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The tables were lined with camping-themed books (more bonus gifts) and our four shower activities. More on those in a minute.

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The food was all on the kitchen island. (Seriously, get a look at Booh’s new kitchen! Gor-geous!)

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We made a big batch of my dad’s famous salsa, which we had him test upon arrival.

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And these cheese balls that look like pine cones (or hedgehogs, which still fit the woodland theme).

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We also made “camp roll” sandwich pinwheels a la The Pioneer Woman

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…and fruit arrows. The strawberries staining the tips blood red was a nice realistic touch by Booh. haha

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Lily and I made the campfire cake, which was soooo fun.

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We used my favorite chocolate cake recipe and my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe.

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The logs are Pepperidge Farm’s chocolate pirouette cookies and the flames are made of butterscotch and cinnamon hard candies. Crush five candies of each flavor together in a bag, pour on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet that’s been sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 350-degrees for 6-8 minutes. Let cool completely and then break into shards.

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The effect is so cool.

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Definitely a triumph for us gals who love to bake.

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The shower favor was a build-your-own trail mix bar. Happy Trails!

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Booh found some really fun critter-themed games online that I made using some free woodland fonts.

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The first we named “Who’s Your Daddy,” where you had to match the baby animal to its parent. The second was called “The Waiting Game,” where you had to match the animal to the number of days it gestates. Not so easy.

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Lily made an answer board and was very official in calling them out so everyone could grade their papers.

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The third activity wasn’t really a game, but a letter from Camp Jackson where you could pass on well wishes to the baby. Lily’s was by far the sweetest.

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The “Build a Baby” stations we had around the tables were the funniest activity.

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Two pictures, a pair of scissors and endless laughs.

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And then it was time for gifts!

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I loved the OSU basketball shorts (a staple of Bryan’s own wardrobe)…

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…and the high-tops. Baby Jackson’s all ready for the court/field.

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Their sweet gifts were a great mix of practical and fun sent from family near and far.

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Especially this double-sided game-day blanket.

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There were a few gifts whose cards made me cry…

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…but it was all smiles and “oh-how-cute”s otherwise.

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Then it was time for pictures, like our intentionally-closed-eye favorite.

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And baby-kicking time…

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…and sleeping in the teepee time.

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What started as an innocent sibling selfie turned into a riot.

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Overall, it was the perfect afternoon with family celebrating the newest addition to the team. We love you, Bryan and Robbi, and can’t wait to meet Baby Jackson in a few short weeks!

(And big props to Booh, my co-host and partner-in-all-crimes, in making this happen. I love celebrating anything with you.)

# tulsa trip (January 2016), part 1

I was so excited to share the details of my trip to Oklahoma two weeks ago, even going so far to process all of my photos the day after I got home. A new record, surely. But then I was hit with a bronchitis-mystery-virus monster that left me in bed with a high fever and ridiculous cough for the last week. No joke. Today is the first day I’m fever-free, sitting up-right, at my desk, walking my dog, feeling somewhat normal. It has been R-O-U-G-H. PSA: Traveling twice in one month when you are normally only exposed to your husband and dog can wreak havoc on your immune system. But, I’m happy to report it no longer feels like confetti is blowing around my lungs every time I try to take a breath, something I managed to take for granted in the years since I last had bronchitis. Stay well, my friends.

But, rewinding to the fabulous trip home. I left Utah begging for “more color” on Instagram. This was our drive to the airport.

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Beautiful, but a little monotone for my taste.

Luckily, this is what I woke up to after my first night in my sister’s new home. Wish: Granted.

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HELLO, COLOR! Oklahoma sunrises and sunsets are the best. Hands down. Game over. Case closed.

Here’s Booh’s new house with the most glorious of backdrops. Years in the making, this place is absolutely gorgeous and worth every minute of the wait.

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Since they had just moved in like six days before I dropped my luggage in their entryway and yelled “Honey, I’m home!”, I’ll save more house photos for my next trip. But here’s a sneak peek of their powder bath.

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Each room is this magical and vibrant. And filled to the brim with natural light. It’s a photographer’s dream. Especially the living room, where Lincoln *happily* modeled in a new chair.

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Everyone should have a piece of furniture that matches their eyes, right?

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My nights were spent in Lily’s Beauty Shop. She’s very talented and booked weeks in advance, so I was lucky to get a spot.

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I also got to star as Proud Aunt at her school play, where a stray bird tempted to steal the spotlight.

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Lily was the Star Fairy in Sleeping Beauty…

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…and Little Red Riding Hood’s Mother…

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…and recited a Spanish Nursery Rhyme.

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Like any smitten fan, I had to get her autograph backstage.

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We celebrated with a lunch selfie…

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…which turned into a “hey, can I borrow your glasses and camera?” session for one…

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I seriously have about 20 photos like this on my camera. So hilarious.

The next day was the day of the baby shower, which I’ll share all the details of in the next post. We all gathered bright and early to cheer Lily on at her last basketball game of the season.

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It was an action-packed start to a great visit. Posts 2 and 3 coming soon!

# super bowl 50 menu

Joe and I are continuing our tradition of making a team-based Super Bowl menu. But since I am out of town for the real Super Bowl, we celebrated during last weekend’s Pro Bowl.

I start thinking about food possibilities when there are still eight teams left in the running. What can I say? I love themed food parties. When we realized it was going to be Carolina v. Denver, our menu was already set and we were already hungry.

For the Panthers, it was an easy decision. BBQ.

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Joe’s favorite is pulled pork, which has got to be the easiest meat recipe for any vegetarian to make. 2 lbs pork butt + 1 can of Root Beer + 7 hours in the slow cooker. Voila!

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You are guaranteed to have a support group watching your every move when it’s ready.

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Joe made his own Carolina-style BBQ sauce, too. It tasted like a zingy Arby’s sauce, so I obviously loved it.

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1 c. ketchup + 1 c. apple cider vinegar + 1 c. dark brown sugar + dash of Worcestershire + chili powder + pepper. Bring to a boil, simmer for 30-40 minutes, cool to room temperature and chill.

Doesn’t get much better than this for Joe.

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But since I needed something on the BBQ front to pair with my leftover tomato soup (wah-wah), I made The Pioneer Woman’s Quick Shells and Cheese.

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Quick, indeed, and very yummy.

For the Broncos, I dug out my mom’s classic recipe for Cowboy Cookies.

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A soft, buttery base with chocolate, cornflakes, coconut and oats. Nothing wrong with these.

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They aren’t fancy, but isn’t that a pre-requisite of Super Bowl food? Just good and plentiful.

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Just a few suggestions for your own parties this Sunday. Go Panthers!

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Cowboy Cookies

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening, at room temperature
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
1/2 Tbs. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 c. oats (old fashioned or quick)
1/2 c. coconut
1 c. cornflakes
3/4 c. chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees.

Cream butter, shortening and sugars together in electric mixer until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and add to the mixer while on low speed. Add oats, coconut, cornflakes and chocolate chips and mix by hand until just combined.

Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your fingertips.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown. Leave on baking sheet for 10 minutes for moving to rack to cool completely.

# miami trip (January 2016)

After surviving last weekend’s drop of over a foot of snow, it’s imperative for me to recap my warm, sunny trip to Miami. This trip brought a lot of work, a lot of family and and a lot of good food. The pictures can *mostly* tell it all.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that this building is this gorgeous. Many a productive meeting within these walls over the week I was there. New faces and old friends, new plans, new 16-17 season…#new.

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But something that is neither new, nor never gets old is this rooftop view. This was the start of a glorious sunset.

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My trip overlapped a visit my mother-in-law and brother-in-law made to Miami, so we were able to meet up for dinner and a movie in the park outside my building. Turns out, The Boy Friend is weird, so we didn’t last long.

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The next day, my mom and Mike arrived for the weekend, which started with one of our PULSE concerts–a late-night, club-style event for orchestra and DJ.

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It was a “white out” version, which means we were decked in our winter summer whites and wore these LED color-changing bracelets to be part of the show.

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Here are a few glimpses of what PULSE is like…

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I love my job.

Saturday was a nice day off with brunch at Big Pink (always, forever, amen) and time on the beach.

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I have to give a big shout-out to these massive iguanas that were all over this tree on my walk to work. It was crawling with them. (Sorry, horrible.) At first I noticed one that was licking water off of a leaf when it was pouring rain. But then every time I walked by, there were more and more and more. So awesome.

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At times you’d only see their scaly backs…

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…and other times you’d only see them peeking through the leaves. So entertaining.

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The highlight of my week was definitely our day trip to Sanibel to see Bobbie and her family. It’s a convenient halfway point between Miami and Tampa and a familiar haunt for me and Bobster. I hadn’t seen Abby (other than on Skype) since she was one-and-a-half, so this was a big moment. Clearly, she was thrilled to see me.

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Just kidding, she really was thrilled, but probably not as much as I was to see her.

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She even took a few pictures of her own with my camera.

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Her parents are much more photogenic!

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Our attempts at getting a girls’ photo were hilarious, albeit a little unsuccessful thanks to someone’s constant wiggles!

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Baby’s First Game of Cornhole. That’s a baby book milestone, right?

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We walked off our big lunches at a nature trail and center. Baby’s First Binoculars.

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I love this picture. Lots of good conversation going on about ballet, friends, school…

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More adventures at the nature center building birds…

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…and listening for the ocean.

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It was a big day for her…and Mike.

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Overall, the most perfect day and trip.

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“Everyone, hold hands!”

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One more “swing me!”

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Until next time, Florida!