What I remember most is your “Hi Dollies,” the way you’d stand at the top of the stairs when I would stop by for a visit. Your face always lit up to see me; my heart would grow four sizes bigger when I would see you. Sometimes you would have a pie in the oven. Or something ready for me to eat. The house was always impeccably clean. As if you knew I was coming over. You always knew. You were smart like that. I remember when I was younger. And sleepovers at your house were the highlight of my week. I loved playing princesses in your gowns with Rachel. I always got the pink gown. She had the purple. We’d run around the house hoping you’d forget our fast approaching bed times. We felt so elegant and regal, yet we were so young and innocent. If you could see us now.
I remember when you first got sick too. You were so stubborn you you refused to go to the doctor. We begged and begged and you said you were fine. But we all knew. When you first lost your hair, the cancer society gave you some wigs to wear. And you placed them so nicely in the closest because there was no way you weren’t going to rock some gorgeous scarf around your new fuzzy short do’. You didn’t need any wig. You were perfect the way you were. I remember you couldn’t make it to my last college meet you were so ill. That day I landed a perfect 10 on vault. And I knew you were watching over me. I pictured your face lighting up when Grandpa called to tell you the news. My heart grew four sizes bigger just picturing your reaction. For 20 years you were my biggest cheerleader, saving every result book, picture and newspaper clipping. You made me feel like a winner in even the worst of times.
You were so brave, Nan. Braver than I could ever be. Even at the McNally house. When you wasted away to skin and bones, with just a few stray hairs on your head, you still had time to smile. You smiled while you napped. You smiled when anyone came to visit, even though you were so sick. You smiled when we opened your room door to let the May birds songs drift in. You smiled the biggest three days before you left for Heaven, when Grandpa took you for a drive to McDonalds for an ice cream. How you had the strength to go amazes me. But then again you amazed me all the time.

When I think of you now, I get a funny pain in my palm. This tingly feeling that signals the onset of tears. And the tears make me realize how now that you’re gone, I’ve lost my best friend. Sometimes I pick up the phone to call you, to hear your voice. But you won’t pick up. Unless I call to the big house upstairs. I know you’ll answer me then. And then we could talk. I could tell you about the wedding progress Andy and I have made, and how I am very much enjoying my internship at the magazine. You could tell me about your walks downtown and your garden. You’d maybe talk about how Rachel is doing, or the damn birds outside your kitchen window. And it would be like old times, just you and I.

You used to always whip out a tube of lipstick when we were together. “Put a little colour on your lips,” you’d say. And if I was lucky you’d dab some on my cheeks as blush. You weren’t a fancy lady. A no fuss kind of gal. But you loved your lip colour. And you were so beautiful. Thanks Nan for watching over me everyday for the past two years. For reminding me that the simple things in life make the journey worth it. For teaching me about grace, forgiveness, selflessness, and charm. And for always loving me for who I am. It’s not good bye, it’s until we meet again. I love you.

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love me some s’mores. The gooey goodness of melted marshmallows combined with sweet chocolate and the subtle taste of graham crackers; what could be better? Well throw all those goodies into a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe and you are destined for dessert perfection. I basically used inspiration from the so tasty S’mores Brownies I made in January to bake up these beauties. Most of the ingredients for the cookies can be found around the house and I promise you anyone who takes a bite of one of these will be asking for more. Unless you eat them all by yourself which I happened to come very close to doing. I know, how embarrassing right?
S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham crackers smashed into tiny pieces
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 sprinkle of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
seeds from one vanilla bean
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 3/4 cups of mini chocolate chunks
2 cups mini marshmallows
1-2 Hershey bars in pieces
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl combine your flour graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and stir until combined. Beat together your butter, sugars and vanilla extract in a larger bowl until creamy and smooth. Add in your eggs, blending on medium speed until fully incorporated.
Beat in the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating on medium speed until combined well. Pour in the chocolate chips and stir with a spoon. Covering your hands on a bit of flour, roll 1-2 tablespoons worth of dough into a ball and place on the parchment paper. I fit only 9 cookies on my baking sheet.
Bake for 4 minutes in a preheated oven and remove from heat. Place as many marshmallows and Hershey chocolate chunks into each cookie before returning to the oven to bake. Continuing baking for approximately 4 more minutes or until the marshmallows start to puff out slightly. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes until cooling completely on a wire rack. Keep covered in an airtight container for up to three days. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Try not to eat too many if you can resist!

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