Yum Yum Better Brownies

Ok, I have to admit that I altered the name of these brownies just a smidge. They are originally called Mmm-Mmm Better Brownies but I think it sounds better as Yum Yum Better Brownies!


Yum Yum Better Brownies

I have been dying to have brownies for over a month now. Fortunately, I happened to have all the ingredients in my pantry for this recipe. It’s been sitting pinned in the browser on my laptop for quite a while. And yes, I just finally got around to making the recipe.

I also found this a great opportunity for a project to occupy what could have been nap time since C decided not to take a nap. (We’re about 50/50 on naps now.) He did sleep really well last night and had a good day in preschool. So I can’t complain.

Yum Yum Better Brownies

He had so much fun dumping the ingredients in the bowls. He didn’t like it too much when I moved one bowl away to start working in the other. Luckily, he was easily distracted when he noticed we had  new things to dump in the new bowl. He also had a blast holding on to the spoon to help me stir.

I wish I could have gotten a few pictures of him helping me make the batter. Maybe next time! He’s been such a good helper in the kitchen lately and I love it!

Yum Yum Better Brownies

This brownie recipe is delicious. I did make a couple of changes to the recipe to make them the way I wanted them. I substituted the oil for melted butter. (See notes in recipe for amount comparison.) I ran out of vanilla extract (and forgot to buy more, oops!) So I substituted almond extract. (See recipe notes for changes.) I opted not to use the walnuts because I hate nuts in my brownies. And lastly, I added chocolate chips to the batter and to the top of the brownie. (Ok, I really wanted a big chocolate fix!)

They turned out perfect! I don’t own a 9×9 pan like the recipe uses. I ended up just using my Pampered Chef brownie pan which I already love (and have made other things in.)

Yum Yum Better Brownies

These brownies turned out fluffy with firm/crisp edges. The chocolate chips gave it a nice, melty, chocolate richness to it that is exactly what I want in my brownies. I highly recommend giving this a try. And the melted butter substitute was probably a good choice, though I can’t say for certain because I haven’t made these with oil.

Yum Yum Better Brownies

Yum Yum Better Brownies


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup melted butter*)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp almond extract)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional... amount to taste)
  • *Note: This was the equivalent of one stick of butter melted in 15 second increments in the microwave.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Beat in eggs.
  5. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Gradually stir flour mixture into the egg mixture until well blended.
  7. Stir in walnuts and/or chocolate chips, if desired.
  8. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
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Family Traditions – 52 Lists

Family traditions are another fun list for me. At first I didn’t think we had too many traditions, but after making this list, I realize that we have more than I thought. I have been doing my best to incorporate traditions from both mommy and daddy’s childhood to give our son a great family experience.

I also really love reading about traditions other people have with their families. It’s my favorite way to find inspiration for new things to try with my own family. And let’s face it, some traditions are so much fun you can’t help but steal borrow the idea from other people.


1. Birthday Picture

Every year I take a special birthday picture of my son. (Ok, like a true nostalgic mama, I take a lot of pictures, but there are a few specific points I absolutely HAVE to capture.) He always gets his picture taken when he wakes up to greet the world for the day in honor of waking me up at 2:43 in the morning for my first contraction. (TMI? sorry, it’s what happened!) The other picture I absolutely have to take is one at the time of his birth. So far, he’s always been asleep at this time, but his sleeping pictures are super cute. I place the pictures in a collage so we can see how much he’s grown over the years and hopefully I can keep this up until he turns 18.

Family Traditions

2. Birthday Cake

I make C’s birthday cake every year. Yes, I could get him a fancy pants cake decorated like crazy, but I don’t find this necessary. We also make cake for daddy on his birthday and daddy makes one for my birthday. It’s our newest tradition for homemade cakes on birthdays. (And yes, homemade from a box still counts in our house.) Mr. H and C both get funfetti cakes while I prefer chocolate cake on my birthday.

Family Traditions

3. Birthday Dinner

The birthday boy/girl gets to have the dinner of their choosing. As C hasn’t been old enough to ask yet, I just make whatever his favorite food has been at the time. Mr. H and I usually choose something like sushi or Chinese for our meals.

4. Birthday

(A lot of birthday traditions, I know.) The birthday person is treated like a king. They get to take it easy all day as the rest of the family pampers them. It’s a fun relaxing way to spend a birthday and a way I like to honor the day we came into the world.

5. Mother’s Day

Daddy helps C with a Mommy’s Day gift. And mommy gives both grandmas presents from C. Mostly flowers for Mother’s Day but occasionally other fun items too.

6. Father’s Day

Mommy helps C with a gift for daddy. And mommy gives Pap a present from C. Pap is the hardest to buy for but we usually find some cute little token for him.

7. Summer Vacation

We try to take a family vacation during the summer. So far we have only had one vacation as a family but we’ll work on making that happen regularly. Perhaps a beach vacation because Mr. H and I both love the beach!

Family Traditions

8. 4th of July

We’re still working on this one, but the plan is to start making the parade and fireworks a regular part of our 4th of July traditions. They were always part of mine when I was a child. Location to be determined, but I really enjoyed taking C back to my hometown for the celebration this year.

Family Traditions

9. First Day of School

Picture! Of course there has to be a picture. Unfortunately, he’s so active and excited that I couldn’t get a cute picture of him standing with any kind of sign this year. But I did get several great shots of him for his first day of preschool.

Family Traditions

10. October Horror Fest

Mr. H is a super huge fan of horror films and I really enjoy them. We watch them all year round with no problems. However, in October, we usually venture on a journey to watch a horror film each day in celebration of Halloween. We like to mix in classics with random ones we haven’t seen. (Or, that I really haven’t seen because he’s seen so many of them!)

11. Halloween

So far I have made both of C’s Halloween costumes. I would like to continue this tradition as long as I can keep up with what he wants to be for Halloween. The first year he was Clifford the “Big” Red Dog and last year he was a Scarecrow. We never made it out anywhere fun in costume but I have pictures to remember it by.

Family Traditions

12. Thanksgiving Dinner

We don’t have any special traditions other than to have a nice meal with turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving isn’t complete for me without the pumpkin pie. I look forward to Thanksgiving all year just for the pie. Each year we seem to celebrate in a different place (Mr. H’s parents house, his sister’s house, at our own home) so we don’t have any specific traditions other than to have the meal.

13. Decorating for Christmas

We start the weekend after Thanksgiving. I don’t enjoy Black Friday shopping so that doesn’t consume my Friday. Christmas season officially starts for me the day after Thanksgiving and I try to get decorations up then. (Or as soon as possible if we’ve decided to spend a few days visiting family.) I’m hoping this year or next I can also start the fun of letting C put some of the ornaments on the tree. (I can’t wait for this, honestly!)

14. Christmas Ornament

Every year C gets a new ornament. As he gets older, he’ll start choosing his own but so far I have made the choices for him. I also made an ornament for his hospital bracelet which hangs on our tree as well. I usually hang his special ornaments together on the tree and make it C’s special spot.

15. Muppet Christmas Carol and Nightmare Before Christmas

During C’s first Christmas season, we watched this movie. He loved it so much that he was up and dancing to the songs. I have continued to make sure we watch this at least once (ok, probably once a week) during the Christmas season. Mr. H and I also really enjoy Nightmare Before Christmas and this is a movie we must watch between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

16. Christmas Baking

I love making cookies. And Christmas is the perfect excuse to whip up a bunch of random cookies. I’m looking forward to C being able to help me this year as he’s already trying to help as much as possible in the kitchen. (He’s my favorite little helper!)

17. Christmas Eve Box

Every year we open a special family present on Christmas Eve. It’s called a Christmas Eve Box and contains a pair of pajamas for each family member. I also sneak C’s copy of The Night Before Christmas into the box as well as a movie (which so far have just been movies we’ve owned.) And last but not least a bag of microwave popcorn and some hot chocolate. The idea is to put on fun new pajamas, watch the movie with our popcorn and hot chocolate. Then to read the book as a bedtime story.


18. Christmas Lights

For as long as I can remember, my mom and I had the tradition to go out and look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. There was always one neighborhood where every single house had a display and it was pure magic (especially the gentleman at the start of the neighborhood dressed as Santa and handing out candy canes to the kids.) I started this tradition with C last year and was lucky enough to find some good neighborhoods to drive around in with plenty of lights to look at.

19. Christmas Breakfast

Cinnamon rolls. It’s my little tradition to have this fun breakfast treat on Christmas morning after opening presents.

20. Christmas

We stay home and celebrate Christmas. It’s the one holiday where I will not allow the family to go anywhere to celebrate. We start the morning off with C’s stocking full of fun in his room. He gets to open it right there before heading out to open the presents under the tree. Presents get opened first thing in the morning. We then have breakfast and spend the day enjoying our new toys under the tree. I do make a special dinner for Christmas which happens to be fairly similar to Thanksgiving Dinner.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

Family History Project

Just over seven years ago, I received a message from someone on Facebook. It was a man looking to find a half sister he had never met. I received a message because my name matched the name he knew for his half sister.

I knew I had a half brother who was a bit older than me from my dad’s first marriage. When I received this message on Facebook, I didn’t know what to do. I called my mom and got some advice from her. She gave me three big questions to ask to help discover if we were actually related or not.

Family History Project

Needless to say, I turned out to be the half sister he was looking for. This happened just before his birthday and turned into a great birthday present for him. I have always wanted a sibling and I’m sad I didn’t get to have one near me while I was growing up. However, as adults, I think we have a great relationship and help each other often in the struggles of life and parenting.


In all the fun that comes with learning about your own family, questions about family history start to come up. Especially when you find out that there is a question on paternity for the man who was listed as the father of your father. Neither of us knew what to think about this and started questioning just about everything.

Family History Project

After seeing some of the cool stuff a friend had found through Ancestry.com, I decided to give the free trial a whirl. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough information to get us any kind of clear answer. Only lots of possibilities.

So after that, we took the plunge and upped to a six month world membership. And I decided to take the plunge and get the DNA test in hopes that it would link me to someone where I could get some definitely answers.

Family History Project

It was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. I received the package for the saliva sample, filled the jar quickly, and sent it out the next day. Then it was the big waiting game. I checked the page every day to see the progress of my test.


When the results came in, I wasn’t surprised by the ethnicity information (save for a couple of random trace ethnicities.) Unfortunately, the people I have been matched with as far as second cousins don’t give me an answer that would 100% satisfy the questions we had.

Family History Project

And now I’ve been on the long road of trying to fill out family trees to see if I can get any better answers. Now, it’s just a time game. Waiting and hoping. Either way, this was a fun experience and gave me a little better answer than I had before trying any of this. Not to mention, some of these old documents are really cool to look at (like draft cards and death certificates.)