Monday, August 27, 2012

Perfect Moment Monday: Cookie Dough

Perfect Moment Monday is a monthly blog hop/writing prompt, sponsored by Lavender Luz at Write Mind Open Heart, about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

When I was in college, a slightly-more-than-friend (not quite a boyfriend, but not quite a friend, either ... remember those kinds of relationships?) took me hiking.  We wound our way up a rocky trail that looked out, at the top, over a stunning valley on fire with the color of autumn.  He took me in his arms, bent me over backward so I could see the bowl of the valley and the bowl of the sky in perfect opposition, upside down, and whispered in my ear: "take a good look, and remember this."

And to this day, I do.

I've written before about in-betweenness and about stillness.  About how I'm not good at either one of those states of being.  How they are uncomfortable places for me to inhabit, because I just want to get there.  To the end of things.  Or at least, to keep moving.

But there's also something stunningly beautiful about that liminality, too, the second of stop-motion between here and there, when you're exactly in the middle, even if you're in the middle of chaos.  If you can be aware enough to notice those moments, they can take your breath away.

Which brings me to my Perfect Moment Monday.

Usually my Perfect Moment Mondays (or Perfect Moment any days, for that matter) are quiet affairs.  So it was a good challenge to notice one during a particularly chaotic day.  I was in charge of four kids today, two of my own, and two that belong to my friends.  I love these kids, because they mix so well with my own: the older boy is a year older than my son, but is a good match for him in terms of interests and challenges him to keep up physically, and the younger boy is a gentle but ever-so-slightly mischevious spirit whom my daughter adores.  And yet, having four kids to watch, especially when one of them is a toddler, is a lot.  On days like this I always think of two moms with four kids who live on my street, and marvel that they do this every day.

After a long morning cooped up inside because of the rain, and a long hour of reluctanctly patient quiet trying to let my daughter nap, everyone needed to get out.  We took a variety of wheeled things (bikes, scooter, wagon) to the park up the street, which was--miraculously!--not drenched, and spent some time climbing on the playground and zipping around in circles.  Eventually, my daughter found her way over to the swings; when she tired of the "baby swing," I took her in my arms, sat with her in my lap on the "big girl swing," and held on tight around her waist as I began to pump, sending us higher.

"Higher," she said, "higher ... higher ... squeee!"  She squealed with a mixture of delight and fear as we rose higher into the air, nesling into my chest like she rarely does at home.  The air was warm and thick, but the wind on our faces and in my hair felt good, and suddenly, I reached that point where the chain on the swing just about goes slack before gravity takes over and you arc back down again towards the ground.  I felt her whole body tense with pure joy at that moment, enjoying the place where she held her breath, between "up" and "down."

And I heard my friend's voice, as I often do during moments like this, when I notice them, saying "take a good look, and remember this."

That space between, when it's not one thing any more, and yet not quite the other, either.  Delicious.

Cookie Dough Balls
After the cake yesterday, you're going to get the wrong idea.  Trust me, it's not all sweets around here!  I made half of this recipe in order to put them into ice cream that we made together today as a treat for the boys.  They're not yet ice cream, and they'll never be cookies, either, because they don't have any baking powder.  But you can eat the dough because there isn't any egg in them.  Vegan cookie dough.  Two versions: one not really healthy, and one healthy, with nuts.  Your choice.  You can't go wrong.

The standard sweet version:
1 c. turbinado or coconut palm sugar (brown sugar will do, too)
2 T. sugar (your choice)
1/2 c. nondairy milk (I used soy)
1/2 c. nonhydrogenated margarine, like Earth Balance

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1  3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
 1 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl combine sugars and nondairy milk until sugars are moistened.  Beat in margarine and vanilla creaming until combined.  Add flour and salt and beat to form a soft fluffy dough.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Place a sheet of waxed paper onto a cutting board.  Scoop out balls of dough onto waxed paper (I used a 1/2 t. scoop) and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

The healthy version, from Love Veggies and Yoga:
2/3 c raw cashews
1/3 c oats
2 T. agave
1 T. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c chocolate chips

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  1. I haven't commented on your chocolate cake post yet because as with many or yours, I savor them in my Reader.

    This one looks equally savorlicious!

    And the story that goes with it? Perfect. I have a couple of those moments I can time-travel to, as well.

    I'm glad you and your daughter got to enjoy a perfect moment together :-)

  2. Such beautiful writing. I love the idea of the space in between and being mindful of what is taking place. I to am always in a hurry to "get there" and find myself telling my boys always to "hurry". What a good reminder to slow down and enjoy the middle. Perfect timing for me to read this, they just started school today, and I already found myself saying, "Hurry!"

  3. This is truly the epitome of a perfect moment J. I do remember those kinds of relationships and having those kinds of moments back then. I love how you brought your story full circle from that hike to being on the swing with your daughter. I also love that you have a safer cookie dough recipe and gave more than one option here. I echo Amy's words, you are such a beautiful writer (and person). Thank you for another moving and thought-provoking post.

  4. Another beautiful post. I am also often in too much of a hurry to get there, wherever there may be, and I can relate to that feeling when you realize that you are really in the moment and it is so good. I'm so glad you had this moment with your daughter and that moment with your not quite friend/boyfriend. Definitely moments you want to remember.

  5. Ahhhh liminality - one of my favourite subjects. More latterly its been met with the urgency and frustration to get from the first point to the 2nd point and minimising the space between as much as possible.

    "If you can be aware enough to notice those moments, they can take your breath away"


    "That space between, when it's not one thing any more, and yet not quite the other, either. Delicious."

    Thanks for the nudge on the perspective change! Love it!

  6. I've wanted to tell you that these past few posts have been beautiful, poignant, wonderful. I love them. I am constantly taking snap shots in my head...hoping I will remember them all, knowing I won't. It's too fast, this life...

  7. You make me marvel and think with every post. Thank you for that! I can feel the moment you described, and those moments in which you can be in the moment are so rare and so special.

  8. That does sound perfect! How fun.

  9. I love that word, "liminality".

    And I love to swing with my daughter facing me, so that her body leans into mine on the way up every time - even if it makes my hips ache. It's a sweet thing.

  10. Beautiful gorgeous writing. Wow. You are KILLING it.

    Your daughter reminds me so much of my own.

  11. What an amazing moment. I can't wait to have moments like that with my kids. It kinda reminds me of that moment when you drive over a little hill too fast and you get that feeling like your insides are jumping. I love that and really embrace it each time. There are a few places I know it will happen so I always go a little faster over those little hills.

  12. I don't have your email address. I could do September 30 probably but definitely not the 9th... moving day is the 18th! Agh! Email me though b/c I have a weird question. lauren (d0t) mcchesney (at) (gmail) (d0t) (c0m)

  13. What a gorgeous moment...and one, that only you will actually understand in its sheer depth.

    Can't wait to see my girl on a swing. Can't wait for her to want to get better at it!


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