Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies

Remember how I said that there was nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing better than the heavenly divine mixture of chocolate and peanut butter? 

Well, I’m sticking to that.

Today’s dessert/snack creation was inspired partially by my mother, who offhandedly mentioned rice crispy squares as we perused the food aisles of the local Walmart and partially inspired by my overwhelming craving to go camping this summer. And you know what camping means? S’mores. 

So I started thinking to myself, how could I incorporate a s’mores like taste into the redundant taste of rice crispies? 

Chocolate, obviously.

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But I lacked any ideas on how to get that smoky flavor or the crunchy, sweet texture and taste of graham crackers.

No, I didn’t layer the bottom of the pan with graham cracker crumbs – however the thought did occur to me.

So I scratched out the entire s’mores-replication plan and instead began focussing on what goes well with chocolate.

Caramel? Yes, but we don’t have any. Cherries? Absolutely (chocolate dipped cherries are a major love of mine) but the texture would just be off in rice crispy squares. Butterscotch? Aha! Bingo – I had found my next incorporation idea. Until I realized that our butterscotch chip supply is running low.

And then the stroke of absolute brilliance hit me.

To be honest, it hit me kind of slowly considering this should have been the first thought to strike…

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Peanut butter.

So, using the typical recipe for rice crispies, plus my added tweaks and additions, I whipped (or stirred. Hard.) up some chocolate peanut butter rice crispies.

The first thing my brother said when he walked through the door? 

“I smell cookies!”

And following his dinner of a moose meat burger (much to my horror), he cut himself the largest slab of rice crispy I have ever seen any single person eat and absolutely devoured it within 2 minutes. AND there were absolutely zero crumbs. Zip, zilch, nada! People who also live with 14 year old boys are most likely sharing my utmost surprise – for those who don’t understand my surprise, let’s just say that teenage boys can be slobs.

But that’s neither here nor there and you’re most likely getting sick and tired (and bored) of my ramblings so let’s just fast forward, shall we?

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Crispies

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 cups of rice crispy or rice puffs cereal
  • 1 bag (10 1/2 oz) or mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter (but if you want more of a crunch in your crispies, feel free to use crunchy peanut butter!)
  • 1/4 cup of margarine OR butter, plus a bit extra to butter your pan 
  • 3 blocks of semi-sweet chocolate (roughly 3/4 of a cup melted)

Butter a 9″ by 13″ pan with butter and set aside. In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt the 1/4 cup of butter, stirring to insure that it doesn’t burn to the bottom. Once the butter is melted, add 3/4 cup of peanut butter, stirring constantly, until the peanut butter is fully melted into the butter and created a slightly thick consistency. Add in the bag of miniature marshmallows, slowly if you prefer, but I just dumped them in, and stir constantly until they have melted into the peanut butter/margarine mixture. Remove from the heat and add in all of the rice crispy cereal, stirring until the cereal and melted mixture are combined well – or until the marshmallow mixture becomes too hard to stir – and transfer into the pre-greased pan. You can use parchment paper or a greased spatula to flatten the rice crispies. Let cool and harden.

While the rice crispies are hardening/cooling, you can set the chocolate chunks in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds on high. Remove and add in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter, stirring lightly, before returning to the microwave and microwaving for another 20-30 seconds. Take the bowl out, stirring the chocolate and peanut butter together well – make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl! and repeat until the chocolate and peanut butter and melted entirely together. You can then drizzle the still warm mixture over the rice crispies and voila! Instant hit with the family – especially the kids.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

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Flourless peanut butter cookies.

Was there ever anything better?

Be honest. 

Truly, the only thing better would be flourless peanut butter cookies with gigantic warm, melty, gooey, chunks of chocolate.

Which is easily doable with this recipe.

For my first time trying a flourless recipe, I was a bit nervous. How could I bake cookies without flour? How was I supposed to know if they cookies are fully baked or not? Will they look similar or different? But most importantly: Are they still going to taste as delicious as regular, with-flour, chewy, foodgasmic peanut butter cookies? (Can you tell I like peanut butter? A lot?)

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Now, looking back, my flourless-recipe anxiety seems a bit over the top. These cookies turned out moist, poofy, chewy and perfectly peanut buttery. And I mean perfectly peanut buttery. If you are a peanut butter mongrel, forget any other peanut butter cookie recipe that calls for flour and switch. Right. Now.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 1/4 cup of peanut butter (I used creamy, however if you prefer your cookies to have a little crunch to them, you can use crunchy peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a large (or two medium) cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, baking soda and salt together until well blended. The consistency will be thicker than what you’re used to, but do not worry, it’s supposed to be.

IF you wish to add any other type of mix in to your cookies, now is the time to do it. Some possible add-in ideas would be chocolate chips, nuts (chopped), butterscotch chips, Reese’s peanut butter cups (these would taste amazing in peanut butter cookies), fudge pieces, etc.

Drop the dough (by tablespoon) onto the parchment paper. Do not squish these cookies down as if they were typical peanut butter cookies. I repeat, do not squish these cookies. 

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes (or until puffy and lightly browned). What I did was set my timer for 13 minutes originally and then kept resetting it for another 2 or 3 minutes until the cookies were done perfectly, which I had to repeat 2 times. Allow to cool. Or don’t and just scarf the warm, fragrant cookies right from the pan – it’s entirely your choice. 

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Either way, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoyed baking it 🙂

P.S. Please excuse the Valentine’s Day napkins – I was feeling heartbroken and thought the little extra “love” would make me feel better. 

My Blue(berry) Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. The day of heart-shaped objects, a million different shades of red and pink and of course, chocolate. It’s also the day when I realize how horribly single I am – but let’s not dwell on that… I’ve always got next year, right? Plus, you don’t have to be in any type of relationship to buy all the marked-down Valentine’s Day candy tomorrow so, psh, who needs a significant other anyways?

*cue the playing of Beyonce’s Single Ladies*

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This morning when I woke up and rolled around under my blankets, trying to avoid any and all contact with the air that wasn’t in my immediate vicinity, I shut off my alarm and began giving myself a mini-Friday morning pep talk. So that maybe I would get out of bed and take a shower and not end up rushing like a madman – madwoman I should say – to be on time for school. Part of this preparation involved me checking my phone to find out I had a few emails, one of which being a priority. So, to continue my procrastination of leaving my safe haven, I opened up Gmail to find out the most wonderful of news! School was cancelled due to icy road conditions. Hallelujah! 

The school board sure knows how to show their love for us students on Valentine’s Day! 

At this point, it was 6:30 am and I was wide awake (of course, the pep talk would work on the day I don’t have school) thus began the inner-workings of my honestly terrifying mind.

And an hour later, I found myself in the open space of the kitchen, pulling out this and that from the cupboards, preparing a nice Valentine’s Day breakfast for my mother and brother.

Of pancakes.

And not the typical heart shaped, red ones with little strawberries forming hearts around a stack of pancakes drenched in syrup.

No.

I decided to make blueberry pancakes. Just plain old, blueberry pancakes.

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But before you judge my choices, let it be known – I am nowhere near a professional pancake maker. I actually think that a monkey could have whipped up a better batch of pancakes than I had last time. 

Can I fry french toast? Absolutely. Can I create killer scrambled eggs with a side of bacon and toast smothered in butter and homemade jam? It’s my most sought after breakfast from my little brother. Can I fry an egg and have the yolk perfect for dipping? Sometimes. Omelets are a breeze and anyone can stir together some oatmeal but pancakes. 

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I have never, in my 16 years, been able to master the art of making pancakes.

Besides, I’m pretty sure those people who can make a perfectly round pancake every single time cheat. Because there is no way in Hell (or Heaven) that I can make them cooperate and actually fry in the shape I want them to. 

*sigh*

But I was feeling especially adventurous this morning and once again, I was back at trying to create an edible pancake. 

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This time though, I succeeded. 

Of the twelve pancakes I cooked, there are currently zero left. 

If you think I’m not proud of myself for this accomplishment right now, you are wrong.

So without further ado, the recipe for my Valentine’s Day Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Yields: 10-12 medium sized pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
  • 1 cup of milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cup of Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix (the box calls for 1 1/4 cup of mix however I found the batter too runny and dumped a little more in)
  • 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil (you can substitute a range of different oils, I just grabbed what was closest)
  • Margarine for greasing the pan or griddle
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of fresh (or frozen) blueberries

If using a griddle, preheat to 375 degrees F. If using a pan, make sure your mix ready to be dropped in before turning your element on. When ready, it should be set to between medium and high.

With a wire whisk, mix together the pancake mix, egg, milk and oil until there are very few to no lumps remaining. However! Do not over mix this batter, otherwise your pancakes will turn out tough. And nobody likes tough pancakes. Trust me. Fold in how ever many blueberries as your heart desires, stirring a couple more times before stopping and letting the batter sit for about 5 minutes. Drop about 1/4 cup of your batter into a well-greased pan, flipping when the edges begin to brown and the middle/sides begin to “bubble”. Repeat this until all of the pancake mix has been used. To keep my pancakes warm while waiting for the other ones to cook, I normally set my oven on the lowest heat setting possible (170 degrees F) and leave a tinfoil plate within, stacking each newly cooked pancake onto the plate. 

Serve the pancakes with your favorite toppings – syrup, jam, yogurt, fresh fruit, whipped topping, butter and/or cinnamon to name a few ideas. 

P.S. If you need a testament for how good those pancakes taste, ask my brother and his friend – both of whom were arguing over who had more pancakes and who should get the last one. 

None of the above photos used are my own, mainly because I couldn’t keep my family’s fingers away from the pancakes long enough to have a mini photoshoot. Credit is given where credit is due.

Happy Valentine’s Day, I hope it is/was wonderful for you!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Over-abundance of bananas? Check. Chocolate Chips? Check. The hankering for a moist, thick slice of cake slathered in frosting? Check. 

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This was my thought process this morning as I rolled out of bed, ready to face my partially pre-planned day full of baking (and full of baking it was!). However, those major problems I face when trying to decide on what exactly I want to bake were significantly more pronounced today. Is it healthy? Is it quick to grab and snack on? Will my brother like it or will he opt for the chocolate dipped cereal bars in the snack cupboard? And the biggest one: Will it make some room in the freezer?

You see, I have a slight hoarding problem. And by a slight hoarding problem, I mean that whenever Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones frozen entrees come on sale, I beg my mother to get me one or two or ten. And then I normally only eat one a week or so. Therefore these accumulations in our small, typical, above-the-fridge-freezer have become somewhat of a problem and (sadly) my mother has refused to buy me anymore until I eat the ones we already have. C’est la vie, I suppose. 

Anyhow, I spotted the frozen bananas shoved behind a loaf of garlic bread and wedged between the ice cube trays and a turkey (see, I’m not entirely at fault for the lack of room in the freezer! Ha!) and a light bulb went off above my head. Or at least it would have, if I had a light bulb above my head… 

My brilliant idea: Banana Bread!

Then I peeked in the bread cupboard and was dismayed to find my mother had already bought raisin bread, whole wheat bread, english muffins and bagels (carb overload!) and considering I hardly ever eat bread/bread products, it’s safe to say that we already have enough bread to last a couple weeks. 

But then, another thought struck me. And the hypothetical light bulb floating above my head flooded the room with a brilliant light. Or so I like to imagine.

Banana Cake! 

How to make it 14-year old friendly was the next question, but that answer is simple – chocolate chips. And of course, cream cheese frosting because my brother is an icing monger. Seriously, I think he could live off the stuff. Not that I blame him.

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So I got to work, mixing, stirring, beating and grinning – not a care in the world! As I created, I rewatched (for the millionth time) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and thought about pursuing a career in the nutrition/food world. Baker? Nutritionist? Cook? You never know, I could be serving you your next big, greasy batch of oil soaked french fries next time you head over to McDonalds.

For some reason, I doubt my parents would let me flip burgers for the rest of my life.

Ah well, at least I’d be able to pay for the Internet I would need to provide you with the following recipe – Voila, my personalized recipe (tested and highly approved by my family) for banana, chocolate chip cake with optional cream cheese frosting.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Cake (with optional Cream Cheese Frosting)

Yields: 9 servings (8 by 8 pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (I used all purpose, but it can be substituted to your preferences)
  • 1 cup of white sugar 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 small, frozen bananas (if you want a more banana-y taste, add more bananas but cut back on other liquids)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of margarine, melted (you can also use butter or applesauce, however I would suggest skipping the applesauce unless you want an overly moist/doughy cake)
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (depends on your chocolate preferences)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 by 8 pan with oil. Lightly flour, if you find your cakes get stuck easily. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, making sure that there are no lumps. 

In a separate bowl, take your frozen bananas and microwave them for 15-30 seconds, until they’ve begun to thaw but are still, for the most part stable. Take them out, peel them well and mash until you’d be able to feed it to a baby (aka very well). Once the bananas are mashed, transfer to a large bowl and add the egg, melted margarine (I microwaved mine for 30 seconds to get it melted and it was perfect), milk and the vanilla, combining well. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and combine well, but do not. I repeat, do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips, taking care to not over mix and transfer to the pre-greased pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake and have it come out clean (unless it’s melted chocolate).

*Optional: Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe makes more than enough icing, however it should keep in your fridge for up to three weeks or you can freeze the leftover amount. Or there is always the option of eating the remaining goodness. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of margarine or butter
  • 1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese (8 oz) at room temperature
  • 2-3 cups of icing sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Using an electric mixer (*gasp* personally, I prefer stirring/mixing by hand but I find that when icing is involved, electric mixers work much better), cream the butter and cream cheese together until it’s perfectly smooth (which took me about 3 minutes on medium), scraping the side of the bowl frequently. Add the vanilla and combine well. Slowly add the sugar, combining well each time and scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once with each new addition – also taste test after the first 2 cups have been combined, to figure out if you want to stop or keep adding more sugar. 

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Wait until your cake is done and cooled and then slather on the thick, irresistible frosting. If you managed to keep your spoon out of it (yes, it really is that good – my brother swears by it!). You can top it the icing with walnut pieces (which I did), pecan pieces, almond halves (basically any nut goes amazingly), extra banana slices or even some additional chocolate shavings. Experimentation never hurt anyone. Okay, I’m lying, it could possibly kill you but only if you’re experimenting gets a little out of hand. Coconut shavings? Acceptable. Potatoes? Scarily odd and not at all highly recommended but okay – I think. Anything under the kitchen sink? Unacceptable. 

Store any remaining frosting in the fridge or freezer and the cake is to be stored at room temperature – for however long it lasts. I’m betting not too long. 

Enjoy and feel free to leave comments!

5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Ever gotten one of those intense, oh my god I need a piece of chocolate cake right now or I’m going to kill someone cravings? Especially around that time of the month – am I right ladies? Mmmm, just the pure decandence of creamy, melt-in-your-mouth cake topped with mountains of smooth, whipped frosting with a side of flawless vanilla ice cream… 

Scratch the bit about it having to be your time of the month, any time of the month is good for chocolate cake.

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Well, my mother was recently in one such mood and I had planned on baking her a nice, big batch of double chocolate chip cookies to help her kill the craving only to (horribly) find out… We were nearly out of flour and brown sugar. That kind of put a damper on the cookie baking idea. However tonight, after spending my afternoon yesterday researching recipes, I came up with a winner! 

Single Serving Chocolate Cake in a Mug.

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Photo Credit: http://zoomyummy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/5-minute-mug-cake-4-with-soft-light4.jpg

Yeah, I thought they were joking too. Alas, I dug a little deeper into the wonderful online world of brilliant recipes, to find a plethora of recipes for cakes in a mug. I was also thrilled to find similar recipes for cookies, muffins, cupcakes and even mac ‘n cheese! Let me assure you, I was one happy camper last night. 

Thus tonight, after my little brother and mother finished dining on chicken nuggets and homemade french fries (personally, having an eating disorder, I couldn’t bring myself to have what they were having but instead opted for a delicious salad made of mostly broccoli and cauliflower), I asked them if they would want to try some dessert. Of course, the looks I got were half in bewilderment because both knew I had only gotten home about an hour previous and hadn’t had any time to experiment with a new dessert recipe. However, they acquiesced to my wishes and it turns out both were glad to have been tonight’s dessert guinea pigs.

They best part? I was able to whip up this recipe in under 10 minutes (and that was for two servings!) PLUS the ingredients are quite straightforward, although I tweaked the recipes I had found online to my own standards. Now enough of my ramblings (honestly, I would be surprised and quite honored to find out you read this far), it’s time for the recipe!

P.S. My brother did say that my spin on the chocolate cake in a mug tasted a bit more like a brownie than chocolate cake, but he enjoyed it nonetheless.

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Photo Credit: http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lvbo0zoPFQ1qlqiclo1_500.jpg

Simple Chocolate Cake in a Mug 

Yields: One chocolate cake in a mug!

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons of flour (I used all purpose because I find whole wheat flour throws the balance in baked goods off, however it’s entirely your choice!)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar (I used white although brown sugar will work perfectly fine. If you are going to be using an alternative sweetener such as stevia or splenda, I suggest using 1 tablespoon of the alternative sweetener and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of hot chocolate mix OR 2 tablespoons of cocoa (I used the hot chocolate mix because of a cocoa shortage within my household, which I suspect gave it the more brownie-like flavor.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons of milk (I used low-fat 1% milk, however almond milk, soy milk, 2%, etc. will all work in this recipe although I do suggest adding a bit more sweetener/cocoa if you are using unsweetened almond milk.)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of chocolate chips (Simply for the ooey-gooey deliciousness of molten chocolate oozing out of the cake.) 

Firstly, you mix all of the dry ingredients (excluding the chocolate chips) into your mug – make sure your mug is microwavable! – and then you add the milk. Stir with a spoon (or fork.. or knife.. or spork..) until you get the desired consistency of cake batter, making sure that there are no lumps left. Add 2/3 of the chocolate chips and stir into the batter. Bake in the microwave for 1 minute, on high. Take out, add the remaining chocolate chips to the top and place back in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Take out and enjoy 🙂

If you’re a frosting girl (or boy!) like I am, you can add frosting. Or if you’re more of a whipped topping person, spoon some on and get to work! Ice cream, jam, and fresh fruit would all taste wonderfully atop this personal cake as well. 

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Come on, how can you resist such succulent temptation?

As for my family, I slathered Betty Crocker’s chocolate frosting on top and sprinkled a few walnut pieces for an added crunch. Personalize as you wish!

I would have taken some photos, alas the desserts were whisked away and half eaten before I was given the chance! 

Now GO! Indulge in a slice of pure heaven… Or that’s what you can tell your friends – it’s not like they’d believe you, if you told them that cake this good could be made in under 5 minutes.

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Photo Credit: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/wp-content/uploads/chocolate-cake-for-one_thumb1.jpg%3F73e30c

1 Serving Contains: 250 calories 

Or To Her

Sleepy eyes caress long lines,

-pale expanses of freckled skin –

Or to her eyes, spotted with perfection.

 

Desperate hands intertwine,

-grasping and gripping and begging-

Or to her mind, pleading to never let go.

 

Gentle mouths mold together,

-soft and warm-

Or to her lips, the feeling of home.

Canadian Weather

If you’ve never lived through a winter in the vast, sparsely populated country known as Canada, you are simultaneously the luckiest and most unlucky person in the world. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift (I hope). 

Three days ago came the blizzard warning and to be quite honest, I didn’t pay much attention to it – what, was a little snow mixed with heavy gusts of wind supposed to scare me? I’ve lived on the East Coast of Canada my entire life, there was no way a little snow was going to scare me! In fact, I felt a bit disappointed that the storm wouldn’t hold off until Sunday night, delaying my imminent return to Hell (read: high school).

The flurries started last night, coupled with a few gusts of window, which I found to be a bit melodious, the thrum of gentle pulses of air against my window almost sounded like music. Almost. And for the first five minutes of the storm. Suffice to say, my sleep was disrupted various times through the night last night, thanks to the absolute pounding my poor window was taking from the window. As it was dark, I knew nothing of the snowfall amount at the time, but little did I really care at 3 am in the morning as I scowled in the general direction of the outdoors before sighing heavily to myself and continuing my attempts at sleep.

When I (finally) got up this morning (at 10:30 am, because I’m truly quite lazy) I didn’t spare a glance out the window, instead opting to go through my morning routine and try to figure out what I was going to do today. When I decided that I was going to finish a little home renovation that I had previously started, I finally peeked out my bathroom window and was awestruck at the sight that lay before me! My previously empty pool was half filled with snow, my mother’s car had two giant drifts on either side and I couldn’t tell where our driveway met the highway, plus it was still snowing! After spending two and a half hours finishing the gigantic task of repainting the bathroom, I shot another, more wary, glance out the window to see that even more snow had accumulated although it had stopped falling from the sky.

Then came the shoveling. I got bundled up, and when I say bundled up, I mean bundled up. Sporting a pair of sweatpants over a pair of jeans, a long sleeve shirt and a sweater underneath my winter jackets and a hat + hood combination, I was ready to brave the great outdoors. For thirty long, freezing minutes, I shoveled the accumulated snow from our driveway and finally, finally, when my mother started heading back inside, I followed joyfully. At that point in time, my fingers were so cold that I couldn’t feel them and my toes might as well have been ice cubes for all the warmth they were radiating. But just before slamming the front door shut against the frozen winds, I took one last look at our progress and couldn’t help but remark about how stunningly beautiful the snow was, glimmering lightly as the light from the stars overhead reflected back into the night sky. 

And then I slammed the door because power bills are not cheap and as my mother says, “we don’t need to heat the outdoors”.