brain tumor trip – nyc part III

I originally planned to put all of the rest of the NYC photos in this blog post, but then realized that there were 20+ photos left to share. Whoops. Instead, we’ll focus on Brooklyn today and there will be one more post with the other bits and pieces left to share from Manhattan (including the High Line, World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial). If you need a refresher, here are posts I and II from our 2016 brain tumor trip.

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

On Sunday we visited the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial then walked to and across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was so so hot and fairly crowded, so while I’m definitely glad we did it, I probably would have done it earlier in the day if I were going to do it again. The views of the city from the bridge and from the Brooklyn side were spectacular. I was ogling over the beauty and intricate details in both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. It is hard to imagine that the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed in the 1870s and 1880s and is still one of the most iconic and popular sites in New York.

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Those views!  Once we arrived on the Brooklyn side we made a stop at Juliana’s Pizza for lunch. The pizza was so delicious and fresh and made us feel like we were getting the real New York experience. I was also really excited about the Brooklyn egg cream that my mom ordered– when in Brooklyn, right? ;) That one made us feel like a real Brooklyn Zeigler :)

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

After lunch we walked to the Brooklyn Flea Market and moseyed our way around the small stalls. The Brooklyn Flea was great because it offered something for everyone’s interests, which is fairly rare in shopping situations.

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

We all really loved Brooklyn and agreed that we want to spend more time there next time we visit. There were so many cute shops, pretty views and quiet streets, all within a stone’s throw of Manhattan. It really is amazing how different each of the boroughs and neighborhoods in New York City are from each other. We walked around and hopped from site to site so much that we saw a lot of the neighborhoods during our weekend there. I enjoyed seeing all of the differences and experiencing the diversity of the architecture, shops, eateries, etc.

Stay tuned for one last post from our trip with the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial, the High Line, and more in Manhattan!

almond oatmeal granola bars

Ready or not, here it comes: back to school. My siblings are back at school, my teacher friends are back in their classrooms and campus is bustling around me. Back to school is here, whether we like it or not. To make it a little easier, I made almond oatmeal granola bars!

Almond oatmeal granola bars are perfect for the busy back-to-school season. | Pass the Cookies

I love granola bits more than the average person, but it is difficult to pack them up and nonchalantly eat them at work. There are lots of crumbs, and it is usually easier to eat with a spoon instead of shoveling with a hand shoved to the mouth, hoping to catch all of the crumbs. To solve that problem for on-the-go students, teachers and staff, almond oatmeal granola bars are an easy, portable, convenient and delicious snack option.

Almond oatmeal granola bars are perfect for the busy back-to-school season. | Pass the Cookies

These bars are filled with nuts, seeds and grains, with a little extra sweetness from honey. Almond butter and honey (or maple syrup, for vegans), bind the other ingredients together and keep the bars from crumbling to pieces. Chopped almonds, pepitas, shredded coconut and oats are suspended in the mixture, delivering a different texture to every bite.  Another bonus: these bars are so so so easy.  Mix the ingredients, refrigerate, cut and eat – that’s it!

Almond oatmeal granola bars are perfect for the busy back-to-school season. | Pass the Cookies

Almond oatmeal granola bars are perfect for the busy back-to-school season. | Pass the Cookies

I wanted these to be purely nutty goodness, without the usual dried fruit mix-ins that I would add to regular granola, but you can definitely add chopped dried fruit as long as you decrease the amount of other mix-ins (chopped almonds, pepitas, shredded coconut). You can switch up the almond butter for peanut butter, swap toasted almonds for toasted pecans, increase the sweetness with more honey; it’s up to you! Use these proportions, but make them your own!

Almond oatmeal granola bars are perfect for the busy back-to-school season. | Pass the Cookies

Happy start of school! I still don’t know how I feel about it…

Almond Oatmeal Granola Bars
¾ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup pepitas (can use all almonds)
1 ¾ cups quick cooking oats, or rolled oats pulsed a few times in the food processor
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup creamy almond butter (can use natural peanut butter for the same texture)
½ cup honey or pure maple syrup (I sometimes use ¼ cup of each)
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper.

Toast the almonds in a toaster oven or an oven. To toast in an oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place the chopped almonds on an ungreased, unlined baking sheet. Cook them until golden. You won’t need the oven again after this step. You don’t have to toast the almonds, but the bars taste so delicious when you do.

In a medium bowl, mix the almonds, pepitas, oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the almond butter, honey and/or syrup, and the extracts.

Pour the almond butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine until it is well mixed and there are no dry oats.

Place all of the ingredients into your parchment-lined pan and press down evenly. Cover the bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the parchment paper out. Cut squares or rectangles. The squares seem to stay together better. Individually wrap in plastic wrap for portability, or store wrapped bars in the freezer for later. The bars will stay good at room temperature for a few days, in the refrigerator for a week or two, and in the freezer for a few months. If you save them for later, put the wrapped bars in a freezer safe bag to really ensure they stay fresh.

You can also halve this recipe and make it in a loaf pan.

link love

Happy Friday!  Can you believe we are already at the end of August?! This month flew!  It is so crazy that school is about to start up again.  Campus is so quiet and peaceful over the summer and you feel like you have it all to yourself.  Sometimes in the summer I forget how busy campus, and the whole town, is during the school year.  Even the grocery stores are less crowded on student breaks.  I guess that shows how much this is truly a college town :).

link love 8.19.2016


And here we go with this week’s link love!  We have a strong Olympic theme this week.


brain tumor trip – nyc part II: central park

In case you missed the introduction to this brain tumor trip series, check out Friday’s post on our first part of NYC!  We spent a lot of time in Central Park during our trip, using it as an easy way to walk from place to place while being surrounded by green and city at the same time.

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

The park was filled with sunbathers, bikers, runners, kids, groups playing games and people spending time on the boats.  There were a few spots in Central Park that we had on our list of places we wanted to check out, the first being Belvedere Castle.  Belvedere Castle was built in the late 1800 with the sole purpose to provide a pretty structure in and a good view of Central Park.  It is now also the home of Central Park’s weather station.  I didn’t get any good shots of the exterior of the castle, but the views from the balconies were great.  We marveled over and over again about how crazy, and wonderful, it is that you can be in such a huge green space surrounded by trees in the middle of a massive city.

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

From Belvedere Castle we walked across the park to the Met (see Friday’s post for a little bit of the Met). After a bout in the air-conditioned museum, we went back into the park and walked south. We made a pit stop at the Loeb Boathouse and watched the boats launching and puttering around on the lake.

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

We continued on to Literary Walk and Sheep Meadow. I loved our short time in Sheep Meadow. In the midst of our touristy activities we felt like locals, lying on the grass, enjoying the view and the shade of the trees, while kids and their parents threw balls back and forth to each other nearby.

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the Cookies

As you can tell, I was a little excited to be there ;)

Brain Tumor Trip: NYC - Central Park | Pass the CookiesCheck back in for World Trade Center, Brooklyn, the Highline and the Village!

oatmeal dark chocolate fig bars

Oatmeal dark chocolate fig bars are the perfect end-of-summer afternoon snack.

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars | Pass the Cookies

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars | Pass the Cookies

Sometimes you are just in the mood for a bar dessert. Cookies and cake won’t do, but the dense crumb of a one-handed oatmeal bar fits the bill perfectly. I have been trying to make a fruit and oatmeal bar since the spring, with limited success until these. I tried oatmeal crumble rhubarb bars in rhubarb season and they were an utter fail, leaving me with a soggy and not quite sweet enough pan of bars. These oatmeal dark chocolate fig bars are definitely a success, and are customizable!

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars | Pass the Cookies

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars | Pass the Cookies

I love figs but haven’t been able to find fresh figs anywhere yet, so we use dried figs here to make a jam-like fig mixture. If this is too much work, skip the fig swirl mixture and just throw in chopped dried figs or fig jam. Chocolate makes everything better, so we introduce pockets of melty dark chocolate amidst the oatmeal bar and fig swirl. These would be delicious as just oatmeal fig bars or oatmeal chocolate chunk bars, if you remove one of the add-in ingredients, but I like to keep both for a more interesting bar. I also think the fig swirl helps trap moisture in the bar.

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars | Pass the Cookies

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars | Pass the Cookies

These save for a few days without getting too dried out. I love biting into them for an afternoon snack and getting bits of oatmeal crumble, mouthfuls of fig mixture and melty chunks of chocolate that blend with the fig.

Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup old fashioned oats
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Fig Swirl
¼ cup sugar
1 cup dried figs
1 ½ teaspoons hone
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional, can replace with more water or apple cider)

To make the fig swirl
Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer for 15-30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the figs are soft and moist. Pour the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

To make the Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Fig Bars
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″x9″ baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat for an additional minute.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. With the wet ingredients mixing on low speed, slowly pour in the dry ingredients until the ingredient are almost combined, but you can still see dry patches. Fold in the oats and chocolate with a spatula.

Spread the dough into your prepared pan and pour the fig mixture on top. Swirl the fig mixture and batter together with a knife. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bars. Allow the bars to cool on cooling rack before cutting.

brain tumor trip – nyc part 1

Over the weekend my family took a trip to New York City to celebrate health and family. When I was a freshman in high school my dad underwent surgery and a difficult recovery for a benign, but unknown, type of brain tumor. The following year, around the time of the surgery, we went on a long-weekend trip to celebrate life, family and everyone being healthy one year out. Since then we have made it a yearly tradition to celebrate every year we have together and call it the “brain tumor trip.”  We try to do so by taking a short trip (usually a three-day weekend) to a city that at least one of us has not visited, where we can get by on foot and with public transportation.  This year we went to NYC.  We walked all over (about 33 miles total!) and saw so many sites all over the city.

Since we trekked all over the city, I have lots of photos from all of the places we visited. There are too many to share in one day, so we’ll start with part 1 of the trip. We stayed in a beautiful Air BnB on the Upper West Side and started our trip by stopping in a nearby Momofuku Milk Bar, where we all tried different (delicious) treats.

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

A lot of the walking we did was through Central Park to get from one location to another, and to enjoy the scenery, but there are so many photos from Central Park that I’ll save them all for a separate post. From Momofuku, we walked through the beautiful brownstone lined streets to cross Central Park. We stopped at Belvedere Castle before continuing on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Upper East Side for a Shake Shack lunch (we had to have the full NY experience ;)).

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the CookiesThe Met was wonderful, and had a huge variety of exhibits. I had been before for specific exhibits, and to see the famous European painters (Degas, Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, etc.) but this time made it to the modern art and American art sections as well. The exhibits are so well curated that the paintings seem to naturally progress and lead you to the painting and the next room. One room contains a style that is incorporated into the next room, but with another layer or slight variation or development, which leads to the next room where that happens again, and on and on and on like that. I definitely recommend checking it out if you are in the city with some time. While you do have to have a sticker to get in, he entry price is suggested and you pay whatever you feel like it is worth.

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

We walked from the Met to Shake Shack on the Upper East Side for the first Shake Shack meal ever for most of us (excuse the iPhone pic). When in New York, right?

Brain tumor trip - NYC | Pass the Cookies

With some sustenance, water, and renewed energy, we headed back into Central Park for a long, hot walk to Rockefeller Center, and a short downpour along the way. Check back for Central Park, the World Trade Center, Brooklyn, the Highline, and a cute coffee shop in the Village!

link love

Welcome to another Friday! This week seemed really long for some reason and I’m glad to move on to the weekend and more fun things. My family is going on our annual long-weekend city trip and I’m so excited! I hope you have lots of great plans for this weekend, including some Olympic watching! :)

link love 8.5.2016via

Happy link love!

Many people, myself included, fall into self consciousness, comparison and self-criticism, especially now that social media always gives us an easy way to compare ourselves to those on the screen. I love this post about practicing self-love and growing your self-confidence by remembering to love who we are, and not envy what others look like or the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves.

On a similar encouraging note, dream big and dream often.

As you have probably heard, Instagram changed again (though I think they still need to work on another new logo) and ripped off, I mean added “stories,” feature, oddly similar to rival social media app, Snapchat. Like a lot of people, I’m still not sure about it, and until they get cute voice filters, I don’t know if I’m going to love it. I love both Snapchat and Instagram, but for different reasons and different uses. I like some parts of it, and agree it is more polished than Snapchat, but really don’t want to see the behind the scenes of every person I follow on Instagram. It’s just overwhelming and there are too many to look through!

I know I say this for lots and lots of cookbooks, but I’m so excited for this cookbook to come out, mainly because it is a really cool concept.  Molly from My Name is Yeh is creating this cookbook from her favorite foods and her life story.  I’m excited for the recipes, but just as excited to read the stories!

Zara’s new ballet collection of gym clothes is amazing!  I don’t know how anyone could wear them to the gym, but they look gorgeous enough to wear outside of the gym!

I have been looking at a lot of Ikea hacks lately, trying to figure out cheap but nice ways to decorate, and came across this commercial they came out with about what food Instagrams would have looked like in the 18th century.  So funny.

august goals

August is here!  Can you believe it?!  And I have my August goals ready before the month is halfway over – what?! :)

August Goals

This day last year I was just starting a new job, and it feels like the year has flown!  The first three weeks of July were so busy for us that I forgot how much I did, how much we celebrated (4th of July, 3 weddings and the return of siblings from far off lands) and how much I traveled (I stayed in 4 states within 6 days!).  While looking at my goals doesn’t necessarily reflect these busy and fun times, it makes me feel accomplished to look back at my calendar and know that we accomplished a lot more than just the items on my July goals list, and makes me feel better about not accomplishing the few items that aren’t crossed off yet.

Update on July Goals:
-Celebrate 4th of July with family in Georgia (always so fun!)
-Make a wedding cake – YES YES YES! :)
-Find ways to exercise even when it is 100 degrees outside – Youtube videos inside ftw.
-Hang curtains in living room and guest bedroom (holding off on bedroom because I want to paint) – It has been an ongoing struggle to get this done and I don’t know why
-Find paint color for bedroom
-Have fun with family and friends at many weddings! – lots of weddings, lots of love, lots of friends, lots of fun
-Plan a trip for family – All planned and we’re going this weekend!
-Enjoy frozen desserts – Ice cream, frozen yogurt and popsicles! :)
-Go on long walks – I underestimated how blazing hot it would be so this wasn’t a priority, but we did go on a few (and picked blackberries along the way!).
-Make a new recipe (savory or sweet) – We made Thai zucchini lettuce wraps and a few new baked goods!

August Goals:
-Hang curtains in living room and guest bedroom
-Pick paint color for bedroom
-Go on family trip celebrating another year brain tumor-free for Pops!
-Continue to find ways to exercise when it is 100 degrees outside
-Go on a date – this makes the goals list because surgery rotations=not much time outside of the hospital for Will. :/
-Sew/make at least two pillow cases for bed in second bedroom
-Learn a new way to braid my hair
-Enjoy the last of summer together before my work schedule gets busy again
-Set up the second bedroom with the furniture we have
-Keep working on Summer bucket list! :) (we are doing well! the photo above is from our latest trip to the farmers’ market :) )

relaxing lavender latte

Can you believe it is already August?! I feel like this year is flying by at record speed. July was filled with travel and activity and early morning wake-up times, necessitating more caffeine than usual. The combination of stress and little sleep made this lavender latte the perfect weekend treat.

Lavender Latte-1

Lavender Latte-8

Lavender bushes are in full bloom right now and they smell like a dream every time I walk by and catch a whiff.  The first time I remember seeing a lavender bush was in France when I was in elementary school.  We were in the south of France during a huge heat wave that melted the roads during the Tour de France that year, and it was scorching hot and very dry everywhere.  During our time in Provence, we visited Sénanque Abbey, which was surrounded by picturesque blooming lavender fields.  We have photos of my siblings and I in the middle of the lavender fields in front of the Abbey with rosy red cheeks from the heat and bleach blonde hair from the sun.  You can almost feel the heat radiating out of the photo when you look at it.  Now, every time I see a lavender bush I think of the lavender fields in the French countryside and that blazing hot, dry heat wave.

Lavender Latte-2

But, I also think of relaxation.  Since lavender was blooming all over the area, lavender goods were all over the markets in Provence.  Large lavender soap cubes, lavender sachets, dried lavender bundles, lavender everywhere.  Just walking through the markets and smelling the lovely calming scent of the pretty purple flower was relaxing.

Lavender Latte-3

While it might seem contradictory to call a caffeinated beverage a relaxing one, that is just what this lavender latte is.  It is for those mornings when you want to get off to a good, low-stress start, but need a little help from your friend, coffee.  Rather than infusing a simple syrup to make your drink ultra sweet, I opted for steeping the lavender directly in the milk that was used for the lattes.  The lavender milk warming on the stove makes your whole home smell like a relaxing retreat.  I loved smelling the wafts of lavender alongside freshly brewed coffee and hot Earl Grey tea in the morning.  It made the morning seem relaxed in the midst of a hectic schedule and set the tone for the rest of the day.  This lavender latte is creamy, calming and a delicious combination of flavors.  The beautiful frothed milk and small lavender buds make me want to sit down with another one now.

Lavender Latte-4

Lavender Latte-7

I drink coffee when I need the caffeine, but am more of a tea drinker in general, so I tried to make this with both tea and coffee to see how it would taste.  Both versions were great, but the tea can get drowned out with the lavender milk, without enhancing the lavender, while the lavender flavor seemed stronger and was not at all overpowered by the coffee in that version

Lavender Latte
4 shots of espresso or strong coffee or strongly brewed tea
1-1 ½ cups your choice of milk
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers

Add the milk and dried lavender to a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until it is warm and barely simmering. Make sure the milk doesn’t boil. This will take a while. Remove the milk from the heat and let the lavender continue to steep for about 5 more minutes (the longer the lavender is in the milk, the more lavender flavor it will provide).

While the lavender steeps, make your espresso, strong coffee or strongly brewed tea.

Pour the lavender milk through a strainer to remove the lavender buds. If you have a milk steamer or frother (we love our little frother!), use it to steam/froth your milk now. If you don’t have a steamer or a frother, you can put the milk in a jar with a tight lid and shake it until it looks frothy enough for your liking.

Divide the coffee between 2 mugs then pour in the milk and scoop any milk foam on top of your drink. Serve with sugar, to taste.

link love

Come faster, weekend, come faster!

link love 7.29.2016

via Pinterest

For some reason this week seemed to drag on and on. It wasn’t crazy busy, but we have been getting up really really early for Will’s rotation, which I think has made the whole week seem longer. But, we’re almost to the weekend – I can see it peeking over the other side of this work day!  Here’s some link love to pull us through.

Earlier this week I got the exciting news that my berry granola breakfast popsicles from a few weeks ago were featured on! If you don’t know about it, feedfeed is a website that sources recipes from home cooks, chefs and bloggers and creates groupings of similar recipes to inspire ans provide recipes for other home cooks.

As I am still trying to organize some of our shelves (and our entire second bedroom), these tips on organization are much needed and inspiring. Everything looks so neat, tidy and clean after it is organized correctly and matches. To do it on my own is a much scarier undertaking than this looks like it was though.

Have you been watching the conventions? They’re making history. Michelle Obama will always be one of my favorite first ladies and her speech earlier this week nailed it. “When they go low, we go high,” get it Michelle. And for that matter, get it Hillary! And if you missed it, President Obama nailed it too.

If moving past perfectionism was as easy to do as it is to write about, we would all be wildly successful.  Sometimes I don’t want to post something or take certain photos because I don’t think it is perfect, but “done is better than perfect,” in some cases, which is important to remember.  This is a good read on how to be more productive and train your brain to push past perfectionism. 

Finally, way behind the times, I know, but Hamilton is all I have been listening to all week and I love it.  Why don’t they do more historical modern broadway shows?  As a lover of all American history I would be a huge proponent of that.

Enjoy your long-awaited weekend, and may it bring cooler temperatures…please.

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