If you’re like your favorite Dandy, many, if not the majority of your days off are filled with errands & chores, most of which make for very, very boring blog updates. So, I spare y’all the details of my trips to the Farmers Market where I spend hours (literally, hours, I’m not making this up) reading labels on every item I buy to determine if it’s a better alternative to similar product that I could pick up in a fraction of the time at Killer Kroger (on Ponce, you know the one I mean…the one that you always think, “Oh, it’s not THAT bad” when you pull in & by the time you leave you’re wishing you’d picked up a Kevlar vest). Or bathing pups, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, washing the car, getting an oil change (literally, perverts), the list could go on & on & on. Come to think of it, there must be some good material in there somewhere. I’ll circle back on that…

Since we ditched cable, I have found that I am much more productive. Instead of getting up & watching TV for sometimes hours before running errands (which, between the two, took up the majority of my day off), I now get up & DO things. I read, write this spiffy little blog that y’all love so much, get all of my errands done & don’t feel quite as rushed. So, when I had the opportunity to have lunch with a friend yesterday that I haven’t seen in quite a long time, I jumped on it. There is something about sitting down for a lunch date with a friend. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good dinner & conversation, but sometimes lunch dates are better for catching up. And, they’re a good reason to ditch the chores & errands now & then.

In typical Dandy fashion, this couldn’t just be meeting for lunch at the food court at the mall. I mean, who wants to hang out in the basement of the mall (literally) while unaccompanied children run screaming around your table. No ma’am. My threshold in this environment is about 2 minutes before I’m white-knuckling it, fighting the urge to discuss manners & etiquette & proper child-care with oblivious parents. So, we set a date for lunch at Prime, one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta. If you haven’t been, I suggest you stop what you’re doing as soon as you finish reading this fascinating blog & go have lunch or dinner there. Randy, I promise that I’ll take you soon. 🙂

As with any date, I like to do something special for the other person. I set out to make Salted Chocolate Chip & Walnut cookies. They are as good as they sound. A mixture of sweet, chewy cookie, crunchy walnuts & a slight saltiness from sea salt sprinkled on top of them. Like all cookies, they are best warm & with an ice-cold glass of good milk (I prefer 2% or whole, none of that skim mess). I know y’all are panting with anticipation; calm down, the recipe is included below…

As the cookies were alternately baking & cooling, I did my some of my chores & picked out my outfit for the lunch date. Now, here is where I’m going with this: it’s time for us to stop the insanity with identifying our personal styles of dress with words like “comfy” or “easy”. No one ever sees a beautiful person walk into a room with a put-together outfit and says, “Wow–look at that hot guy/girl! He/she looks so comfy in those cargo shorts & old T-shirt!”. That NEVER happens. NEVER. So, please, as you contemplating your next date, regardless of who you are meeting, put a little effort into it. I’m not saying you have to show up at the mall in a sequined gown or a full suit. This isn’t the Red Carpet after all. But, it’s also not a Snuggie commercial; put some effort into it. I went for summer casual, Gap style: grey graphic T, navy summer-weight cardigan (yes, there are summer-weight cardigans. They are great for people that work inside a lot & hate the artificial coldness of many HVAC systems), white shorts (always classic & appropriate for spring & summer), blue suede loafers. Yes ma’am! Blue suede shoes! An homage to Elvis & the classics.

I digress, back to this lunch date & why it inspired this update. The food was great, as always. My friend walked in & looked as beautiful as ever. She’s one of those women that can wear a white shirt, patterned pencil-leg capris (channeling her inner-J Crew) and a pair of sandals like the clothes were literally made for her. She never looks overdone but she always looks great in whatever she wears (the power of a put-together outfit). We shared some baked goat cheese crostini (small, baked pieces of goat cheese in a tomato sauce with buttery crostini; delicious) & started talking like we had never left off. It’s been a very busy & eventful year for both of us & I realized how much I missed her & these conversations. All we need is a pocket of time for lunch & we can talk about everything from work to the world & everything in between.

As with every lunch conversation, we talked about our dreams. What had we done, what were we doing, what did we want to do & why…and, as always, agreed that there was usually nothing from stopping us or any other dreamers from realizing their dreams but themselves. This friend has began realizing her dreams by having her cookies sold at a supermarket & is talking about the possibility of expanding to more. And she reaffirmed something for me: we make our own possibilities. We control our lives. You’re thinking, “duh, Dandy, of course we do”. But, seriously, whether you want to open a bakery, start a business, write the next great American novel or be a poet & blogger that touches people’s lives in some way, you can do it. Who cares what anyone else tells you you can or can’t do? Just as the white-winged dove Stevie Nicks said before, “If you don’t have faith in yourself, no one else will have faith in you” (I’m paraphrasing the heck out of that). I walked away from this lunch date with a full belly, smiling, looking forward to the next time I see my friend, inspired by our conversation.

A simple lunch date with a friend. It was fantastic & inspiring & reminded me of living every day with a purpose. I hope you have a friend like this. They’re special.

Yes ma’am, the cookie recipe…I don’t recall where I found this, but I modified it slightly anyway, so I guess that doesn’t matter. At least, I hope not. If this was your recipe originally, please consider this an homage & do not seek some kind of royalties. Unless you want a dog or cat, I aint got much for you…

1 1/2 sticks of good butter, softened

3/4 c. brown sugar, pref. dark

1/4 c. sugar

1 large egg (not sure that makes any difference other than I like them a lot)

1 tbsp vanilla extract (I substitute a high-quality maple syrup like the Bourbon Maple Syrup I received as a gift last year; see previous post on Manners & Etiquette)

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cornstarch

2 c flour

1 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradhelli)

2/3 c chopped walnuts

1/2 c toffee chips, optional (I rarely include these; the cookies are sweet enough without them)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Turn on your favorite music. (Yesterday it was Stevie Nicks, In Your Dreams, hence the Stevie reference earlier. Anything with a gritty-voiced woman that doesn’t mind black chiffon & a tambourine will do in a pinch.)

Cream butter & sugars together until fluffy.

Add egg & vanilla & stir.

Add dry ingredients & mix well.

Add nuts & chocolate chips & mix well. (It’s important to add these ingredients in that specific order. If you add the chocolate chips first, some mixers will break the chips if they’re turned on too high a speed & that’s a tragedy).

Make sure the dough stays cool. There is a lot of butter in it. If the butter is too warm, your cookies will fall flat. (If it gets too warm, refrigerate it a while; no big deal. Don’t fall to pieces…). Scoop tbsp sized balls of dough onto the baking sheet, spaced 1″ to 1 1/2″ apart.

Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 8-10 mins. (I bake mine 10 mins; I like them a little darker on top & bottom).

Cool 5 mins on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. This is very important; the cookies are fragile when hot from the oven. Don’t ruin them; you’ll hate yourself for it.