Everyone needs a lift! When you’re down, sometimes all you need is a little pick me up.

During mass I learned a cute little thing that you can give out to the poor or just use for yourself in general for life:

Little Items For Tough Times

Such a clever name for little things you can give people when they’re feeling down or when they’re poor or when they need a pick me up!


So I somehow stumbled upon making the best sugar cookie recipe EVER

So I somehow stumbled upon making the best sugar cookie recipe EVER

When I realized my husband (because of his peanut allergy) had never had the pleasure of enjoying peanut butter cookies, a personal favorite childhood treat of mine, I decided my new mission would be for him to experience what a peanut butter cookie tastes like, that is without the peanuts.  So I ran to our Walmart looking for some almond butter that I could substitute in a recipe.

Well Walmart didn’t have any almond butter but they did have…

Cookie Butter….

Goodness if you’ve never had the pleasure of eating this, run…don’t walk…run to your local grocery store and get some. Now. It tastes like, I don’t know, like Christmas and the candy house from Hansel and Gretel combined. Honestly, I could probably write an essay on how good cookie butter but umm where was I, oh yes…I had the cookie butter in my hands and I was like…well I could probably just go to Trader Joes and get some almond butter instead…but cookie butter…I mean my husband has never had peanut butter cookies, he won’t really know what they taste like anyways!

So I bought it.  And nothing else. I got too distracted thinking about how delicious it was and headed home.

Ok, so you have to understand one thing about me.  I don’t like following guidelines or rule books or recipes or anything like that.  Even when I get furniture from IKEA I have this, I don’t know, this disease where I refuse to look at the instructions because I just want to figure it out myself.

That being said, I decided to look in our kitchen to see what we had to make some cookies.

I found…

-Eggs. Yay! One left to put in the recipe…

-One box of Betty Crockers Super Moist French Vanilla Cake Mix, apparently there’s pudding in this mix.

img_1350 I can’t figure out how to rotate pictures on this site yet so I’m sorry for the sideways picture

-No butter. Ugh, why did I not get some at Walmart?   But hey, we have some oil, kind of the same thing right?

-Maple Syrup.  Mmmmm. I love maple syrup.

-No regular sugar but some brown sugar.  Ok! Why not?

– A can of holiday frosting – about to expire, why not use that too…no one will notice it’s holiday frosting if I don’t put the green sprinkles on it…

-a tiny bit of chocolate chips…hmm they’re bittersweet but that’s ok, we will still try to use them

-oh gosh, no mixing bowl, it’s dirty and I’m too lazy to wash it…but we do have a big pot, that will work too right?

Now with all the materials in hand I went forward with the recipe.

I decided to track how much of everything I put in, just in case these cookies turned out to be amazing. Thank goodness I did because they truly were amazing…

SO here’s the recipe now

Pour the vanilla cake mix into a mixing bowl (or in my case a big pan)


Add two tablespoons of water, because hey this powder isn’t going to mix itself!


Add an egg


Add 1/8 cup of maple syrup


(ok about this…when I was a vegan and I made cookies I used maple syrup all the time to substitute for eggs, however I like it so much I usually try to always pour a little bit into whatever baked goods I make now)

Add 1/2 cup brown sugar


Add 1/2 cup oil


This is the point where it came time to add the cookie butter.  Previous peanut butter cookie experiences told me I should probably just put a half cup into the recipe.  But I mean, a half cup of cookie butter, are you kidding me?! Put the WHOLE JAR IN!


So I did…


And then you mix it all around until it looks like dough.


Make sure to really mix it well because you will get these white streaks in it from the white cake mix and those will bake and make your cookies look like they have weird spots on them if you don’t blend your dough some more until it’s all one color.

img_1378 img_1380

Now you take an ice cream scoop (because really, who likes eating small cookies..this way you don’t feel guilty about eating just one) and scoop the dough onto a slightly greased pan.  You may need to use two pans depending on the size you have.

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Oh yeah by this time you probably should have preheated your oven to 350 degrees.  Now that it’s at 350, put the cookies in and bake for ten minutes.


Take them out…

This is what they should look like:


Then, right away press one chocolate chip into the center of the cookie (because hey, a little surprise of chocolate in a cookie is always fun) This part is also really satisfying for some reason.

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Wait for them to cool and then spread some frosting on them.  If it’s red frosting you can make it look like a rose and pretend you had planned to make rose cookies the whole time, like I did.


Then you eat and enjoy and tell everyone you made the best sugar cookies ever!

When my husband took his first bite he said they tasted like a Mrs. Fields sugar cookie.  I was pretty happy about that compliment so I decided to not to tell him I had tried to make him the equivalent of peanut-less peanut butter cookies.

Maybe that’s a recipe for another day!










The GATEs We Live Behind

The GATEs We Live Behind

Did you know that we all live behind GATEs? These GATEs of our own mind that we self impose on ourselves are supposedly a root cause of our unhappiness, and I have very good reason to believe it true.

GATE stands for:

  1. Goal
  2. Action (or action tendencies)
  3. Thoughts
  4. Emotions

And these 4 things usually lead to a destructive negative cycle. But they don’t have to!

We fall into these traps because society demands that we constantly have ambitions and goals that we’re working towards. But to what end, and to what aim? Maybe sometimes, all we need to do is just be content with where we are. To stop and smell the roses. To appreciate where we are on this journey called life and not think about the destination but to enjoy the ride.

For when we have these goals, then we start taking actions, but because of those actions, we generate thoughts which may be self-conscious or causing you to live too often in the past or the future, but never the present, and thus we develop emotions around those thoughts whether destructive or constructive, but we start falling into a never-ending cycle of accomplishing goal after goal and always striving for that one last thing that we have to get BEFORE we achieve happiness. Why don’t we just start CHOOSING happiness right now instead of always wanting that one more thing that we think will make us happy.

You have to step BEYOND the GATEs of your mind. Be that fly on the inside wall of your head, and just observe what comes up. What kind of demands we put on ourselves and stress we may cause due to the actions, thoughts, and emotions we have as a result of setting those goals and achieving them. Have we ever paused and just said, “Thank You”? for getting us there? And admiring that everything we are and have done is a result of just BEING first?

Let’s just start with existing and then we can grow ourselves from the world of BEING to the world of ENJOYING 🙂


The Dispassionate Pursuit of Passion

The Dispassionate Pursuit of Passion

I recently came across an extremely interesting concept called “The Dispassionate Pursuit of Passion” that was taught in a Coursera class on Happiness by Professor Raj Ragunathan. It was a suggestion for an approach to pursuing goals as a way to maximizing Happiness which involves having a certain “preference” for certain outcomes over other outcomes “before” these outcomes occur, but “not judging” outcomes “after” they’ve occurred which mitigates the negativity from categorizing certain outcomes as bad outcomes.

He went on to say that this is actually quite difficult to achieve because we have to make a “Mind-Switch” from what he calls a “pre-occurraence preference” to a “post-occurrence non-judgementalism” which basically means that we have to go from wanting things a certain way to accepting and acknowledging how things turned out whether negative or positive because we don’t know whether they really ARE negative or positive in the long run.

There’s a TED Talk by a David Steindeldrass, a famous Catholic Benedictine monk, who says that we don’t have to be grateful for everything, but we DO have the OPPORTUNITY to be grateful in every moment; that we should RISE to the CHALLENGE of finding the opportunity in that very bad moment that we perceive as negative, we are given the opportunity to ENJOY. We can rise up to meet the challenge by learning something, to suffer, to stand up for our convictions. “We always get another opportunity,” he goes on to say, “That’s the wonderful richness of life.”

Thus, we can be grateful, even when negative things happen to us. This is something very tough to put into practice, but Dr. Raj asks us to start upon an exercise that will help you turn that negative energy into a meaningful positive one which is the act of writing down 3 apparently bad things that happened during the day that later turned out to be good.

Here are the 3 that I wrote down:

  1. We went Pokemon hunting with our parents yesterday and didn’t catch any super rare Pokemon, but we got to go to a part of Long Beach we’d never been to as a family, AND we caught enough Magikarp to evolve a Gyarados.
  2. We woke up late and didn’t get to go hiking at O’Melveny Park in time, but we got to see where the trails went and what kind of clothes we should wear the next time we go.
  3. We were stuck in traffic for a very long time on our way down to the Family Party, but I was able to write another chapter of my writing challenge and watch 2 videos of my Coursera course!

So now looking back on those events, I actually don’t consider them bad at all because they actually helped me achieve other goals that I had been wanting to accomplish.

I’ve been struggling with a strange form of control where if something doesn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, I let that moment steal away my happiness and I concentrate on how I didn’t get what I wanted.  However, if I just embrace the process and know that I have certain preferential outcomes, and after that outcome happens, not imposing any judgement on it, instead accept how things turned out and actually see the opportunity to enjoy and see the positive outcomes from it, then I can retain my happiness and fully embrace it to fully live life and all the wonder it holds. Because, there will always be more good things to come, and even good things to come that are hidden in the present moment that we just don’t see or realize. So we have to train ourselves every day, every single moment, to see those things that God is trying to reveal to us.

I think this is the first step to developing that “Implicit Trust” in life, and know that everything will be okay, and that we’re taken care of in ways we just can’t see yet.



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