National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month

Meet Liam…

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Liam Witt’s courageous battle with cancer inspired his parents Gretchen and Larry to start Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Tragically, Liam’s nearly 4-year fight with pediatric cancer came to an end in January 2011. During his strong fight, Liam’s favorite cookie was our very own Lemon Drop.

Did you know?

Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease of children in the United States.

Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to all childhood cancers combined, that’s less than one penny.

13,500 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year.

During the entire month of September, Pacific Cookie Company will match up to $500 in Liam’s Lemon Drop sales. Join us and give some change to make a change in a child’s life!

Mama’s Night Out 2014

Mama's Night Out Santa Cruz

Powerful. Strong. Inspiring. Glitter. These four words are what best describes Mama’s Night Out’s 4th year in a row of raising funds for pediatric cancer research. This was my first time attending Mama’s Night Out, and it was an evening full of beautiful women whose individual stories tugged at the heart strings and inspired you to want to make a difference. I was joined by four amazing women, one of whom will be a new Mama later this year, expecting her first.

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Walking into the event made you feel like you were walking the red carpet with your glamorous gal pals. First, taking a photo in front of the sponsors sign followed by checking in to receive all the information and wine glasses you would need for the evening. Once you entered, you could walk right into the Mama lounge and taste one of the many delicious wines being poured by ONE HOPE wines, Beauregard and more. Should you need to accessorize, there was beautiful jewelry to try on, and if you were feeling adventurous (I mean fitness motivated), you could sign up for the Precision Wellness Center at Cabrillo College.

If you headed left, you could purchase raffle tickets to enter to win some of the most amazing raffle prizes I’ve ever seen (and let me tell you, I love me a raffle!!) Aromas of wonderful smelling food and sweets from Gales Bakery, Red Apple Cafe, Pacific Cookie Company, Driscoll’s and more filled the air. The talented and fabulous DJ, Alchemy Productions! dropped beats everyone at any age could get down to on the dance floor and we all got the opportunity to spread a little glitter.

Photo from Mama's Night Out Facebook page
Photo from Mama’s Night Out Facebook page

As some of you may know, we work very closely with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and attending the event and hearing the influential Mama’s speak about their children’s lives made me so proud to do what I do everyday. It made my job more special than I could ever imagine. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house while the Warrior Mama’s gave their beautiful and eloquent speeches, highlighting the unforgettable memories their children gave to them.

Libby Kranz was one of the Warrior Mama’s and the speech she gave was powerful, raw, emotional and extremely positive for everything she had been through with her beautiful daughter Jennifer. Losing her, just three short months ago. Her strength was inspiring and her speech was beautiful, detailing the days she spent with her daughter who was beyond full of life and love. You can read more about her on her blog Love 4 JLK, here. Her speech was not only emotional, detailing the life she had been blessed to spend with by her daughter Jennifer, but it was also educational and full of glitter. (There is now glitter all over my home, and every time I see the sparkly specks, it reminds me of Jennifer, they put a smile on my face and remind me to contribute to a cause bigger than myself.)

LOVE 4 JLK
Photo from LOVE 4 JLK

Her daughter Jennifer was diagnosed with DIPG on her 6th birthday, age 6 also happens to be the average age in which most children are diagnosed with cancer. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma is a tumor located in middle of the brain stem. The median overall survival of children diagnosed with DIPG is approximately 9 months.  Every day seven children die from cancer, seven. Leaning this and knowing that pediatric cancer is the least funded of all cancer research brought me to tears, it’s just not fair. This was absolutely the most shocking information, and it made me so angry knowing that the lack of funding isn’t made more aware or publicized. The future of this world is so dependent on us, this statistic is extremely sad. We are the difference and the change, we can do something about this.

If you were inspired to do more by the awakening Cookies for Kids’ Cancer video, or by the commanding speeches by the amazing Warrior Mamas, please sign up for the Mamathon, you too can spread the glitter and raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer.

Mama's Night Out Mamathon

Bake Cookies Day!

The best part of the Christmas season for me is all the cookies, chocolate, and rich family dinners. Today is Bake Cookies Day and we thought we would share one of our favorite holiday cookies recipe from the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies Cookbook that is on sale now here, here, or here. This is a PERFECT gift for your favorite cookie lover and a great way to give back to an amazing organization. All of the proceeds go directly to fund research for pediatric cancer.

One of my favorite seasonal flavors that I am so happy has become an everyday flavor is Chai. Whether it’s in a latte, tea, or baked good, I need it, I want it! This is a great activity to get your family together because everyone can get creative by using cookie cutters or just making their own shapes. If you have a cookie exchange party to go to this is a perfect recipe to go for because it’s easy, doesn’t take a ton of ingredients, and you get a pretty large amount out of one batch.

Below find a recipe for Chai Stars that is sure to warm everyone in your house up during the chilly winter season.

Chai Stars

yield: 4 to 12 dozen, depending on size of cookie cutter

Grinding tea from a couple of chai tea bags puts the warm coziness of a chai latte in a crisp, buttery cut-out cookie.

For the cookies:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 chai tea bags
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water or brewed chai tea
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

To make the cookies:

  1. Place the granulated sugar and loose tea from 2 chai tea bags in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Place in mixer bowl with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the flour and mix to blend thoroughly.
  2. Divide the dough in half, flatten into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a star cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Re-roll scraps, chilling dough if necessary.
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks half-way through the baking time. Cool on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough on cool cookie sheets.

To make the glaze:

  1. Mix water or brewed chai tea with the confectioners’ sugar to make a glaze. Place the glaze in resealable plastic bag, snip off a corner, and decorate colored cookies.
  2. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

VOILA!

 

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Mama’s Night Out 2013

For the third year in a row, I was able to attend the annual Mama’s Night Out event put on by Cara Pearson and Michelle Riddle, two mama’s striving to make a difference in the world of pediatric cancer (you can read about their connection to pediatric cancer and, more specifically, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, HERE).

This year, I attended with two wonderful women in my life and my best friends; one of them is even an expecting mama herself and due mid June! The other is a little baby crazy, but will be a fantastic mother when that day comes – she claims her and her fiance will one day have a “baby farm!” Well, not seriously…but my point that she loves babies is made clearly with that comment. 🙂

collageUpon exiting left from the elevators the sound of wine glasses “clinking” together for a toast followed by the laughter of a group of women drifted down the hall. It was easy to get swept up by the beauty of the space: elegantly chic cocktail tables draped with beautiful silky white table cloths and accented with pink and orange table runners; matching pink and orange votives lighting up the smiling faces of women quite obviously enjoying their glass of complimentary wine over some long needed conversation amongst girlfriends; and buffet tables of everything from pan-seared polenta topped with fresh basil pesto by Teen Kitchen Project, to warm wood stove pizzas by Wood Fire Woodie, all to be finished off with a side of flourless chocolate cake by Chocolate and organic mouth-watering ice cream in portion-sizes from Mission Hill Creamery.

You become drawn in – with raffle tickets purchased, you peruse your options, sipping on a cocktail and browsing the vendor tables…even stopping for a photobooth shot or two – and you settle into the casual groove of the event, taking pictures with friends and making new acquaintances. Between the wine and the shopping and the music and the food, it is easy to forget the meaning behind the event. I wondered myself if everyone here felt the same way. It was at that perfect moment an announcement was made that a video would play in 10 minutes (to watch the video, click HERE).

SpecialGuestsI knew what the video was going to be about. I knew that this year, Cara and Michelle wanted to focus on a group of women they called “Warrior Mama’s.” And I knew that we would hear each of their stories. A wall of photos, available for viewing as you walked in, was dedicated to their stories and commemorated those who have battled and who are still battling childhood cancers.

Ten minutes later, I felt this…unexplainable feeling began to overwhelm each of my senses: my skin covered with goosebumps, anticipating the sad stories you might expect at a benefit for kids’ cancer;the tightening of my heart, as I urged to reach out and hug the mothers who have been through so much with their beautiful children; and my eyes eventually revealing small tears of sadness in reaction to the hopeful feeling I felt that maybe, just maybe, the money we raised between all 400+ women at this event would be enough to help fund research leading to a cure for for the child of one of the families represented and honored tonight.

As expected, the beautifully formatted video about the ten “Warrior Mamas” brought tears to everyone’s eyes. I broke away in search of a napkin or two to dry my face and saw the women around me all fixated on the video. Perfect, I thought to myself. The message is hitting home. I handed my friend the napkin. She was a blubbering mess. In this moment, the connection was made. I once again felt the connection to the cause and to the importance of bringing awareness to this issue. UsThree

 We get so caught up in our everyday lives and the miniscule problems we encounter on a day to day basis, but it became clear almost instantaneously that these problems are infinitely inconsequential in comparison.I am so happy to have been connected to this cause over the past few years. Not to be too cliché, but it has helped me to refocus my attention on the things and people in my life that I love and care most about.

Mama’s Night Out grossed $50,000 this year!! This is the most money we have raised yet! Thank you to all of our sponsors and to the volunteers who made this all happen! If you did not have a chance to attend the event or donate to this cause, but would like more information on how to give, check out both Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Jacob’s Heart to support childhood cancer awareness.

Supporters