Easy to Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

With autumn here and colder days fast approaching, it’s always nice to get cosy and eat some delicious food. It’s my belief that your soul needs warm yummy food at this time of year!

Having always had a sweet tooth, baking is something I’ve enjoyed since I was little. Cookies and biscuits are something I haven’t attempted to bake for a long time, but as the chilly autumn evenings have begun closing in, I’ve been called to bake something warm, chocolatey, and delicious!

“Cheers” to cookies!

These are easy to make for even the novice baker, and having not made any type of cookie for years, I was skeptical at first how they would turn out. Not only were they mouthwateringly good, they were also surprisingly simple to make. You can even include your little ones while baking, and have them help stir the ingredients. 

Baking cookies is fun for kids!
Willow is always so excited and happy to help me in the kitchen

I’m always on the look out for delicious recipes, that are also healthier. With the rolled oats in this recipe you can rest assured that your little one is still getting a healthy dose of protein & other essential nutrients from their chocolate chip cookie after dinner! 

So read on and learn how to bake the most delicious, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, melt in your mouth oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! 

Easy to Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes around 16 cookies

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, cold (can sub for vegan butter like Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (can sub for vegan chocolate chips, or switch for raisins)

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl (little hands can help stir!) Heat the oven to 350F (180C).

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until combined, and resembles a smooth thick paste. If you have a hand blender I recommend using it, as the cold butter does take some working to combine with the sugar.

3. Mix in the vanilla extract and chocolate chips (or raisins).

4. Mix dry and wet ingredients until a dough forms. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time if the dough isn’t sticking together. The goal isn’t to have one large thick ball of dough, but rather test you can work the dough into balls and they stay together. 

oatmeal chocolate chip cookie batter
This crumbly consistency of dough will combine easily. Be careful not to add too much water

5. Take roughly two tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, place on an overproof tray. Lightly press the top of the ball to flatten slightly. 

6. Bake for 14-18 minutes until the cookies start to brown around the edges. The cookies will still look raw and be soft, but TRUST ME, they will firm up as they cool. I’ve ruined batches by cooking longer than needed thinking they weren’t ready, only to find that when they cool they’re overdone and too dry. 

waiting for cookies
Our house was filled with chants of “cookie cookie cookie” until they were done

Let me know how you get on with these cookies! They make a great desert alone or with ice cream, or as an after lunch treat in the school lunch boxes. Enjoy!

Roseanne is the blogger behind the honest and inspirational personal blog Roseanne Writes. Native to Scotland and now calling Canada home, Rosanne helps mothers navigate motherhood while remaining true to themselves. You learn more about Roseanne and follow her personal blog here.


4 Easy Zero Waste Lifestyle Changes

A lot of awareness has been made towards the zero waste movement and I have been trying to make easy zero waste swaps in my life lately. Here are 4 of my favourites.

It’s been over a month since Plastic Free July has ended and I am still trying to make simple and easy changes in my lifestyle to be as zero waste as possible. A lot of awareness has been made towards the zero waste movement and I am especially happy with the new Starbucks lids for their cold drinks (no more straws!). I have been trying to make easy zero waste swaps in my life lately and today I will be sharing 4 of my favourites. If you want more inspiration on getting started on the zero waste movement today, check out the tips in this post here. Okay, now on to the easy swaps. 

1. Switch to using bars of soap instead.

I’ve always been the person to use a body wash (in a plastic container) along with a loofa for my daily shower. However, in an effort to minimize my single use plastic consumption, I started using bars of soap inside of soap bags for the past few months and it’s been working great. I used to be grossed out by the soap scum that starts to collect on where-ever I placed the soap bar, however, these soap bags from Amazon are great. You just place your bar of soap inside the bag and not only do they help exfoliate your skin, they also prevent soap scum from building up and you don’t have any of those tiny pieces of soap left-over.

I also have been loving using this GoodSoap from Whole Foods. It is made using fair trade ingredients, smells amazing and is it at a great price point.

2. Use sponge cloths instead of paper towels.

I recently came across this Toronto based company TenAndCo. that makes the most beautiful sponge cloths as well as other home goods. So, I went ahead and purchased a few of their Swedish Sponge Cloths in a variety of colors and patterns. Not only are they the perfect replacement to paper towels, but they also make cleaning more fun since they are so beautiful.

These sponge cloths can absorb 15x their weight, can replace 17 rolls of paper towels, are eco-friendly, anti-bacterial, prevent streaking and are 100% biodegradable. After a few months, you can just throw them away in your compostable waste. This brand even uses biodegradable packaging to send these sponge cloths in the mail. You create zero waste when ordering this product!

3. Make your own homemade cleaning products.

Although this swap may seem like more effort, it honestly is not. There are tons of recipes online for different cleaning recipes and Clean Mama is my personal favorite blog and her book also helps make getting started making your own products so much easier.

I just purchased a few amber glass spray bottles from amazon, a couple of the staple ingredients for almost all cleaning recipes and I have not looked back. You minimize on plastic waste and by creating your own cleaning products you also minimize the amount of chemicals in your household.

4. Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

This is another super easy swap, that minimizes your plastic consumption as well as cuts down on cost. I really like the Nellie’s brand, which you can find online as well as my favorite place to shop: Home Sense. Dryer balls tend to have a long life span and to keep your clothes smelling amazing, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the balls before tossing them in the dryer. Dryer balls are a safe alternative to the toxic dryer sheets and also help in reducing wrinkles and creating softer fabrics. They can even decrease your drying cycle!

There you have it! 4 easy swaps you can try today and get started on that zero waste lifestyle.

Kamaldeep is the blogger behind the the beautiful and inspiring blog Get Kamfortable. There you will find highlights of her city, Toronto, minimalist DIY’s as she decorates her home, recipes and vegan restaurants that she loves. You can read Kamaldeep’s full bio, and follow her on instagram @getkamfortable.

Crockpot Jambalaya – Yummy, Healthy & Keto-friendly

easy family weeknight meal

This Jambalaya recipe is something I stumbled upon years ago and it continues to be a family favourite. Sometimes I have found that flavours can get lost in the crockpot process, but the flavours with this recipe is incredible. I have tweaked it a few times over the years to suit dietary requirements in our family, (including removing garlic and carrots), it hasn’t lost any flavour along the way.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as ours!

  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium-sized red peppers
  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • c long-grain brown rice
  • 1 12-oz package of sausages (turkey, hot, italian… whichever you prefer) pre-cooked (on pan or bbq) cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp block pepper
  • 2 c water
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  1. Spray crockpot with a olive oil based spray, and place onion, celery, peppers, tomatoes and sausage in the crockpot in that order.
  2. Add hot sauce, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.
  4. One hour before it’s finished cooking, toss in parsley and shrimp. Stir until well combined. Cook brown rice, (or cauliflower rice), separately.

Makes six servings.

crockpot jambalaya
crockpot jambalaya
crockpot jambalaya

Watch as I make this jambalaya plus other weekday dinners.

I Rebuilt My Identity To Create A Healthier Relationship With Social Media

identity and social media

I feel like I am disappearing.

That was the only way I could describe the feelings of anxiety and loss of identity that I felt at times mid-summer.

Last June, I was going through a particularly difficult season of parenting, and was coming out of a very busy time of travelling to conferences coming away with a lot of ideas, examples and calls-to-action to support my online content creation business.

I was so immersed in what I thought I wanted and what I felt I had to do next, which included build and build, and more and more that I began to feel lost and fall out of love with creating and storytelling, something that had once brought me endless joy.

I felt out of touch with my family, my husband and myself.

I’m not sure where this pressure was coming from, I could possibly call it the Rachel Hollis effect, which had acted as a much needed fire under my ass, but somewhere along the way had morphed into this cloudy, anxious, unsatisfied monster in my mind.

As the summer began I made the decision to create more balance in my life that needed to happen in order to protect my mental health and stay in the world of social media, which is a vital part of the business I have built from the ground up.

I wanted to give more of myself to my kids, change the way I was sharing my life and use social media in a different way to protect my mind and my relationships.

It had all just become too invasive.

So, my goal was to continue to breathe life into everything I had created and then just live life.

But something happened… When I stepped away from the screens and the apps I had no idea who I was.

It scared me to the point where at times I felt like I was floating and had no sense of what to do with myself. I realized that this unhealthy relationship I had built with social media, (especially Instagram), and this constant pressure to grow, grow, grow, would take time to stop and rewire my brain.

It would be a process.

I began stepping back and looking at what I had created. I took baby steps to heal my mind and my soul.

So I began by just sitting and reading outside. In fact much of July was spent training myself to leave my phone inside my house, while I read a book in my backyard on my deck, often looking up as I watched my kids play.

reading

This stillness began to tell my brain that it was okay so have some separation from the machine of constantly sharing and seeing what everyone else was doing.

As the weeks went on, and as I mastered stillness, I started to feel like I was disappearing and fading away. I was realizing that a strong feel of loss of identity was coming to the surface as I reprioritized how I was spending my time.

If I wasn’t as present online, then who was I?

At one point mid-summer as I floated around feeling like a delicate spec on the planet, I unexpectedly opened up to my mom and my sister-in-law about my identity crisis. I shared how I was intentionally creating more boundaries with social media and work.

Through this raw and honest conversation I was able to better see what I had created, to find joy and self-worth in parenting, and gain perspective on life outside of social media.

As the summer sank deep into August I was starting to get better at being present and calm in parenting and in running my business, while feeling more certain about who I was and that I still mattered.

Now that I had created this boundary and distinction between myself and interacting within real life vs myself in the virtual online world, it was time to begin to reengage in a different way.

I have learned to be patient, appreciate what I have grown and dive deeply into what feeds my soul.

If I don’t feel like posting, I don’t, even if days go by.

I have been taking more time to truly engage, instead of being a collector of likes.

I have been creating content that is simple, but creative and relatable.

I have been keeping more of my own and my family’s experiences to myself, occasionally carefully choosing teachable stories to open up about.

I’ve stood with other parents after school allowing myself to fall deep into conversation, despite it eating into my “work day.”

I’ve prioritized soul-strengthening exercises like walking my dog and taking yoga classes.

I’ve given my kids and my husband more of me.

This journey in redefining my identity, participating fully in in-person experiences and creating healthy boundaries with social media that support my mental health will probably be a constant lesson, and often require some course correction.

I now feel like I am on a path of intentional living, intentional and creative content creation, and being intentional within each relationship.

Now four months out from the beginning of this journey, I’ve observed something interesting and hopeful. It makes sense really, but when you are so deep in the world of entrepreneurship and online social media it can be really hard to see…

I had been stuck.

But ever since I slowed down in what I was creating to share online, I’ve watched the needle move. My online growth across multiple platforms had been stagnant for a while. But switching from working around the clock and embracing the “more is more” concept to stepping away, living life, breathing, slowing down and allowing myself to be inspired gave air to the the flame that it had needed for so long.

Designing for Small Spaces

Maybe it’s a brand new home which these days they keep building smaller and smaller, or it’s a century house that for some reason comes with closets that can’t even fit a clothes hanger. Designing for a small space is something that continues to stress people out. Let me lend some insight by delving into this sweet and petite Toronto home. 

With the cost of real estate in the city, every inch counts and this house was ripped to the studs to get the most out of the space.

Designing for a Small Space - Lara Young for Nesting Story

If the project allows it you will want to maximize the main areas, and a proper space plan goes a long way. This old house was once broken up into many rooms and doorways. By breaking down the walls and making this an open concept living space it immediately felt so much bigger. This double sided partition doesn’t only divide the space and create areas but also acts as the media wall/fireplace for both the dining and living rooms. This is a great example of how you don’t need full walls to create zones.

Designing for a Small Space - Lara Young for Nesting Story

Pick items for the scale of the home. With only a small space for a main floor powder room this area had to be done right. The bathroom size is the right fit with a small scale sink just big enough for washing up and a smart barn door that doesn’t encroach into the hallway.

Designing for a Small Space - Lara Young for Nesting Story

When you don’t have a ton of area to work with make points of visual interest wherever you can. This could have easily become a forgotten wall above the stairway. Instead it becomes an area of interest with a great wall detail and a beautiful light fixture that plays with texture and shadow.

Designing for a Small Space - Lara Young for Nesting Story

Planning ahead can make all the difference. For the 100 years before this renovation this master bedroom had flat 8’ ceilings. By investigating what was above the drywall this room gained vaulted ceiling and feels like it has doubled in size. Not only has it gained space but also so much character. This may seem like a big undertaking (which it can be) but keep in mind the ROI as it will also boost the property value. 

This room is also packed with smart details like storage under the bay window and sconce lights above the bedside tables to maximize a smaller furniture footprint. 

Whatever the challenge may be remember that small scale homes often give opportunity to create character and interesting details. Make sure to think it through before a renovation so there are no missed opportunities. 

Lara Young is the Principal of Lara Young Design, and also a new mom. Like many of us Lara is trying to find that quintessential work/life balance. Being her own boss is bringing Lara one-step closer to her dream. You can read Lara’s full bio, or contact her to help with your next design project here.