Carrot cookies

These soft cookies are so easy to make, and I suppose a little less guilt-inducing than most cookie recipes.

Carrot Cookies
adapted from Simply in Season

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups raw carrot, shredded
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional frosting: Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon vanilla and about a tablespoon of milk, or enough to make it spreadable. You can also use orange juice, but I find that a little overpowering.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Stir the butter and sugar together in a big mixing bowl. Add the carrot, egg and vanilla.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Slowly add them to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Drop the cookies (about a tablespoon of the dough at a time) onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to get brown.

Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before you dab on the frosting.

Nia training in Des Moines

This is taking place at my yoga studio later this spring, so I just wanted to get the information out there. It was huge for me, and I can highly recommend it to others who are looking to learn more about Nia and perhaps teach it in the future.

photos courtesy of

A Movement Training for you mind body and soul
Des Moines, Iowa
May 15-21 2010

Each day of this 7-day training contains a combination of fluid dance arts, precision martial arts and self- healing practices. Immerse yourself in the 13 Principles of Nia and take home tools for a lifetime.

The Spring Nia White Belt Intensive will include:

* the new Nia white belt Learn Manual
* a week devoted to movement and music
* a return to awareness, self healing and the body in motion
* freedance and creative self-expression

$500 deposit to secure your space. This training is open to all levels of experience and completes the requirement to become a licensed Nia teacher if so desired.

Location Details:
Family Tree Yoga Studio
3817 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa

Contact: Sandi Hoover
telephone: 515-202-2584

Mama needs a new bike

As much as I love my hybrid bike that I’ve had for years and years but only recently started putting miles on, it’s just not quite right for me anymore. All the people I ride with have road bikes, and quite frankly, I’m tired of getting smoked.

So, does anyone have any suggestions on how/where to find the bike of my dreams? I live pretty close to a great bike shop, and I plan to go and look at both new and used options. However, I know how easy it is to get sucked into buying a $1,000 bike when you don’t really need one…

Loving: cute business cards

I needed some personal business cards in a hurry, and on the cheap, so I whipped up some at I think they came out pretty cute.

For a few extra bucks you can use their templates and just find a photo that you like to upload. I found the little typewriter on a free clip art site, just by googling something like “free typewriter clip art.”

Black bean burgers

The snow is mostly gone, so I can go back to pretending it’s full-on springtime and make some recipes that remind me of barbecues and farmers markets. Right?

This one is a favorite. I wasn’t over the moon for it at first, but I tweaked it over time until I got it right.

I’ve been trying to get away from buying meat-like products at the grocery store. While they are vegetarian, they are just as processed as all the other crap I try not to buy. And I’m really trying to stick to Michael Pollan’s simple instruction: eat food.

But veggie burgers are tricky. They rarely hold together the way ground beef does. They can be crumbly and dry. They can be full of mushrooms, which I don’t love. These black bean burgers, if prepared correctly, are pretty great. The keys, I think, are to chop up your veggies extra small, squish the beans into an almost paste, and make sure that you have enough binder – either an egg, or some applesauce, if you want them vegan.

Here’s the version I stuck with (makes about 5 burgers):

Black bean burgers
adapted from a recipe on

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup oats
1/2 a small onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg or a couple spoonfuls of applesauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
Enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of your pan
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Mash up the beans with a potato masher or fork. Add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, oats, egg or applesauce, salt, pepper and Worcestershire and mix until combined.

On a separate plate, combine the flour and cornmeal.

Preheat a large skillet to just a little over medium heat, and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. I like to add a little bit of butter, as well.

Take a handful of the bean mixture, a little smaller than a baseball, and flatten it into a patty. Roll the patty in the flour/cornmeal mixture and then drop it into the hot pan.

Cook for about four minutes on each side, or until a light brown crust forms. If you like, melt cheese on top before serving.

We got some more of those bright orange organic sweet potatoes at the store today, so I made some sweet potato fries to go with our burgers.

These were so great. Even if you love a regular meat burger, you can still change it up from time to time.

Signs of spring

I got a nice surprise when I went outside today and saw these adorable flowers in the yard.

They sort of sprung up out of a pile of leaves and broken twigs that has been buried under a lot of snow all winter. I know we have bulbs planted throughout the yard but I haven’t seen any other blooms yet.

The dogs are happy. Every day they come up with a different toy that has been frozen all winter. And unfortunately for me and any neighbors who are home during the day, the squirrels are back to taunt Sadie.

And she is so ready.

Green cupcakes!

I loved Bakerella’s post the other day about the idea of making a red velvet cake recipe into green cupcakes so much that I had to try it myself. Except I realized I couldn’t make red velvet because I didn’t have any buttermilk. So I went looking for a simple vanilla cake recipe with buttercream frosting, and landed on one from Martha Stewart.

I’m also shopping for a recipe that I can use for vanilla wedding cake (since Mike’s making chocolate), so I counted this as an experiment.

It actually worked really well. The cake by itself doesn’t have a ton of flavor, but when you add the buttercream frosting, which is incredibly flavorful (hello, butter!), it’s the perfect combination. Next I want to try Smitten Kitchen’s wedding cake recipe. I’m still wavering over whether or not I should use regular buttercream or one with cream cheese for the wedding. I think the cream cheese, in addition to tasting good, will help with stability at room temperature. But I would welcome your thoughts.

Anyway, back to the green cupcakes. I worried that my cheapo food coloring would produce something really pastel, but it came out a pretty bright green color. The photos don’t do it justice…

The only thing I changed was the baking time. Martha was way off on this one. Maybe her fancy test kitchen ovens bake faster, but I had to add 5-7 minutes to the baking time to get them all done in the center. I came out with about 20 cupcakes. I also halved the frosting recipe, and had just enough.

Here’s what I used:

Vanilla cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated and scraping down sides of bowl, beat in vanilla.

2. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to assure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling papers about 2/3 full. Bake on the center rack of the oven until tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Simple buttercream
Makes 2 3/4 cups

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

(Or for half, 2 sticks of butter, about a cup of powdered sugar – or weigh a half pound, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt)

1. In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on high speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Halfway out

Every time I walk into the dining room I see Sadie halfway out the dog door. It’s like she’s noncommittal about going outside, and she can see just fine from there, thankyouverymuch.

Introducing: a vintage blog

I may have lost my mind completely, but I decided to start another blog devoted to my growing passion for vintage items. Over time I hope it becomes a resource both for people who are interested in collecting and selling vintage items, and for people who just want to incorporate them into their decor.

It’s called Vintage Lives On, and you can find it here:

I would also like it to be a showcase for what’s possible as far as taking old items and making them new again. Other sites like Design Sponge and Young House Love do a good job of that, but I’m sure they get overloaded with submissions.

So, please stop by if you get a chance. I have a few posts there already, and I plan to update it often.