Salty Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Bars–and On Being A Wallflower/flour

“Because you saw me when I was invisible.”

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I was thinking about this post last week and Googled that quote, expecting to be smothered by a deluge of cliche love saying sites and poems written by angsty teens with next-to-nil metrical know-how. Instead, I was thrown into a Flashback Friday moment when images like this and this popped up one after another, reminding me of why I liked The Princess Diaries so much in the first place: because who doesn’t feel like they’re an invisible little nobody some days?

I know some people who thrive on being invisible. They would Avada Kedavra the holy hippogriffs out of somebody to own an Invisibility Cloak. (Excuse me, I have Harry Potter on the mind lately–clearly.)

Then there’s me–I need attention and notice like Robin needs Batman, a.k.a. a lot. It would not be inaccurate to say that I am a human dog except much less adorable. (Debatable: I know.)

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I’m not talking about wanting negative attention or experiencing desperate withdrawals in my room’s darkest corner, but there’s no doubt that my parents raised a bouncing baby extrovert. I’m the only one in my family who feeds off human energy the way the monsters in Sailor Moon do: fervidly and unceasingly (seriously, do they never give up?).

What even my closest friends may not know is that I can also be super self-conscious about my hyper-enthusiasm. I’ll laugh if you tell me with a straight face that I am way too excited (because yeah, I am), but if you tell me that in an aw-look-how-cute-it-is-that-she’s-excited or deadpan way chances are I’d like nothing better than to punch you in the face.

Just kidding–I don’t like to get my knuckles dirty. But you’d probably see me skulking around a dark alleyway later that night, all brooding and Edward Cullen-like.

Okay, I wouldn’t. But you get the point.

Ala = super self-conscious ball of physics-defying energy who likes attention.

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Do any of you out there feel the same way? I’ve always just assumed that the road to food bloggerdom is paved with extroverts, because who else would spend half their waking hours publicly documenting the other half of their life, but that’s probably not true. Even as an extrovert, I loved writing because it didn’t require me to be “on” all the time or think of unparalleled witticisms on the spot (by the way, I suck at instant witticisms so if we ever meet in person, you’ll probably want to start the conversation on a particularly slooooow note). I don’t think I’m an awe-inspiring writer or anything, but I most certainly wouldn’t consider myself a natural A-game talker, either.

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I am dreadful at mingling at parties or among large confident groups of people–hence the “wallflower girl” nomenclature–and even when it seems like I am totally in my element, I am probably gauging every facial tick and restless eye twitch for disinterest from my listener. I actually do think of my interactions in terms of the Relationship Meter from the Sims game, which may not be an accurate representation of how relationships work in real life.

And when I’m the only one who’s not holding a drink or laughing along like hurr-hurr-hurr at some dumb humor joke that everyone has managed to find funny, I’d like nothing better than to melt into the wallpaper behind me like that creepy Clay Aiken creature who invisibly watches you in your room and serenades you with the suggestion that he could be your perfect man.

Yeah, I never understood that song either.

Whenever I start to feel particularly Clay Aiken-y, though, I have to remind myself that the total number of people in the room who probably notice my awkwardness is one: me.

Judgy folks will still judge, but being awkward is sort of like being a fart–yes, people notice, but most of the time nobody will say anything and everybody will forget about it, unless you’re a particularly big silent smelly fart, in which case people won’t forget but then again you should’ve known better than to go back for seconds on the refried beans anyway.

If we ever meet in person, these are the types of terrible, not particularly reassuring metaphors toward which you can look forward. Enjoy.

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But let’s go back to where I started when I first wrote this rambling post: invisibility. As far as I know (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), there are two types of social invisibles in this world: those who like being invisible, and those who think they are invisible.

One of the reasons I took up baking in the first place was because I wanted the friends and acquaintances in my life to feel noticed. Trust me: it can be difficult, creepy, not to mention imposing to walk up to a lonely wallflower and tell them that they aren’t as invisible as they may think. Do I walk up to the person who just farted and start small talk while pretending to ignore the doomsday fumes enveloping their three-foot bubble?

That’s probably the last thing a farter needs at that mortifyingly awkward moment: company. But if you plop a little bag of home-baked cookie bars with a nice note on their desk for them to find the next day,  it’s a gesture that they’d probably appreciate. That bag of bars says, Hey so this has nothing to do with you farting at the party last night not that I noticed or anything but I just wanted to say that we should be friends, so yay, let’s be friends through cookies.

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A few weeks ago, I was browsing through Facebook and found some posts by a good friend whom I haven’t seen in a long time but who is also one of the kindest, most genuine people I know. From what I read, it sounded like she was having a tough time at her new job–it was one of those nonchalant-but-really-not-nonchalant status updates that wants to be noticed, but is afraid to ask.

“We accept the love we think we deserve,” that wonderful novel-turned-film The Perks of Being a Wallflower reminds us. Apart from my family (and even then, sometimes), I am terrible at accepting love, but I do believe that everyone deserves it, especially when we think that nobody notices how badly we need it. Some people like being invisible, but nobody likes feeling invisible. That night after we chatted, I made these wonderful salted oatmeal cookie bars, packed them up, and shipped them up north the next day.

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Then of course I forgot all about them, until I opened up my Facebook a few days later and found this awesome, surprising message:

What a super surprise! Thank you!!! You, you, you Big Sweetie!”

And then this Facebook status she posted:

“Wow! I came home yesterday, tired and low, when I discovered a package of salty chocolate granola bars made by the amazing Ala, child lit scholar/master chef!! What a wonderful surprise! (You can check out her web page at

If awkwardness is like farting, then giving is like giving your kid a five-dollar bill at the carnival prize booth–they run off with a greenback and come back with their arms so laden with STUFF (they still give out those giant inflatable hammer toys?!) that you can hardly believe all that came out of a measly slip of paper currency. I read my friend’s message with a huge grin and danced around the room for a few minutes, because giving rocks. And the funny thing about giving to others is that you’re not just letting them know you notice them: chances are, they’ll notice you a little bit more in return, too.

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So that’s the story behind these salty oat bars, which were my first experiment with using coarse sea salt (by the way, I am a total convert now–it’s so cheap! Bought a huge box at the dollar store). My friend loves chocolate so I threw in a few handfuls for good measure, then whipped up a batch of good ol’ chewy chunky oat bars and sprinkled it with a liberal dose of sea salt for good measure.

These bars are the perfect way to show a friend that he or she’s not invisible! They’re a wonderful, addicting mix of salty and slightly sweet, with a perfect balance of chocolate heartiness for care packages. What do you think–is there anyone you can think of who needs a little noticing today?

Salty Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Bars–and On Being A Wallflower/flour

Salty Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Bars–and On Being A Wallflower/flour

A fail-proof, no-bake classic with plenty of chocolate and a salty-sweet twist! Perfect for those rush desserts or just a simple, no-fuss indulgence.


  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt


  1. Lightly grease a 9x9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in oats, then cook mixture for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, until well blended together. Press half of the mixture evenly into your prepared pan.
  3. Combine chocolate and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until the mixture is nice and melted. Pour evenly over the oat crust, then top chocolate layer with remaining oat mixture. Don't worry about making it completely even--a bit of chocolate peeking through is just fine!
  4. Sprinkle sea salt over the top of your bars. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting and serving!




19 Replies to “Salty Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Bars–and On Being A Wallflower/flour”

  1. ooooh we are different! I love being invisible for the most part, which is (as you said) kind of unexpected for someone who has chosen to blog. I enjoy the attention to some extent (otherwise why would I do this right?) but only from strangers 😀 I’ve kept my blog a secret from my friends and my boyfriend knows it exists because he saw it on my browser but he has promised not to read it.

    Love those oatmeal bars btw! I’ve been meaning to make some (for like two months now…) but for some reason I never really get around to it 🙁

    1. Oooh, that sounds so interesting, Shelley! I didn’t know you could even manage to keep something like a blog a secret! So none of your friends know what awesome things you’re doing with your photography and writing these days? Blogging takes up enough time that I don’t know how I’d explain that away! How do you do it? I had a period where I didn’t talk about my blog at all and remained anonymous, but I think it’s been fun opening up about it as the blog has grown 🙂 it makes for a great conversation starter, anyway. And you should definitely make these, you’d love ’em–sooo addicting!

  2. Giving does rock. And everyone wants to be noticed. I don’t think it has anything to do with being an introvert or extrovert, though. Introverts tend to relax/recharge while enjoying some alone time, or maybe with people they’re very close to; extroverts tend to relax/recharge in the presence of others (and not necessarily people they know). Or at least that’s how I understand it — I may well be wrong (I often am). I remember reading a news story about Bertolt Brecht when he won the Nobel Prize. He was being photographed, and obviously was painfully shy. In fact someone said something to the effect that he must not be enjoying himself, and he agreed we wasn’t. But he was SO pleased about the prize (the recognition thing) that he felt it his “duty” to submit to the publicity which he clearly found distasteful. What does this mean? I dunno. 😉 What I do know is these Salted Chocolate Oat Bars looks magnificent! And deserve all the love we throw their way.

    1. That’s a great observation, John–yes, introversion and being shy definitely are not synonymous, though I used to think that they were! Heh, and I don’t really know what the anecdote shows either, but it’s kind of awesome that he could win such a prestigious prize and come out of his shell I little, I suppose? 🙂 I think it’s time for me to crawl into my little hidey-hole and recharge now though. cheers!!

  3. The power of homemade cookies is not to be underestimated. The tempting Salty Oatmeal Cookie Chocolate Bars would brighten anyone’s day!

    1. Aw, and your comment has definitely brightened my day, too! Thanks, Deb–I’m glad you like ’em!

  4. Sweet & salty, never a better combination. And I absolutely love reading your posts:)

    1. Matt, you’re such a rock star–thanks for the really kind note, it’s always a blast having you around and reading your stuff as well!

  5. Girl, we are the same person, except you’re way younger and smarter than I am. I was a big schmoozer in my early 20s. I had a boyfriend at the time who hung out with a lot of random and super snooty people. The kind of people who always looked perfect (perfect hair, perfect smiles, perfect clothes, perfect bodies) and who were super pretentious. I had to hang out with them all the time, which is when I perfected my party poker face. Keep smiling, keep nodding, laugh when everyone else laughs. Then when I started my career, I had to go to a lot of functions where the poker face helped. Now that I’m older (and crankier) I hate schmoozing. I hate going to parties where I have to meet a lot of people. I’ll do it, but reluctantly. I’m at the point where I don’t want to put up a false front to impress others or to make them feel comfortable in the face of my uncomfortableness. Which is NOT to say that I’m not an extrovert – I totally am! I love being around people, talking, joking, laughing. I love attention and I crave it. That’s one big reason why I blog. I need human interaction and I love all the relationships I’ve built online (including our precious friendship. Love ya girl). There’s just a time and a place for it all. Sometimes I like being a wallflower (or in my case, a hermit hiding in my home) and sometimes I love being the loudest girl in the room, hamming it up for laughs. You just keep doing you, Ala. You’re fabulous and wonderful and all your different facets make you uniquely, wonderfully you. And I wouldn’t mind receiving a bag of these gorgeous salty oatmeal cookie chocolate bars. Just sayin’.

    1. HAH–if I’m “younger and smarter” (which I highly doubt, btw), then you are just as young and much wiser. That’s such good advice to keep in mind! I’m terrible at not bending myself over backwards to please other people; I recently had an incident riding Uber (I think you saw it on my FB status?!) where I felt like I dealt with it completely terribly. I ended up still making friendly small chat even though I was SO uncomfortable that he was asking me about my relationship status, etc. He was really, really pushy, and I need to learn to put my foot down more firmly than I do. I’m still nervous about it now in the aftermath of the encounter, just because there seems to be such a huge disparity between what I know I should do and my way of actually handling social situations. It’s a part of me that I’ll need to work on! But you’re right, when it comes to my own happiness, being me is most important. Any thoughts on any of this? Well said!

      1. Uber freaks me out. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how their drivers are sexually assaulting their riders, usually when the rider is drunk but STILL. Like this one: Be careful out there, girl!

  6. Homemade goods are the best!! So glad you sent this to a friend. I kinda have the opposite problem…I somehow cannot be invisible and that bothers me all the time. I try to blend in but for some reason it never works.

    1. Haha! Zainab, girl, you are the best kind of non-invisible–I can’t imagine a better and brighter personality. Forget blending in–you’re paving the way! Happy Wednesday!

  7. I am definitely an introvert. I gather my energy from within. Saying that, I love being around people. I love the feel of their warmth and the sound of their voices. I just don’t want to interact directly with them. I prefer to sit in the background and observe, perhaps accepting a friendly smile or two from the crowd. I find it works well with my photography (note the blackberry mini cake post) because I can silently watch people and capture their beautifully unaware moments without them feeling as though I am being intrusive. As for blogging and sharing my life… I find I still keep most of my life private, just slightly opening the door a crack for you to peer in just long enough to get to know the person behind the words. It’s just that I find my life so unexciting, that I would rather focus on tiny things I love and things I know you will enjoy, because more than anything, I want to make you (the rest of the world) happy.

    Yes, I will accept these irresistibly salty, chocolaty oatmeal bars and we will be friends 🙂

    1. LOL yes okay let’s be friends, Amanda 🙂

      I love what you write about using photography to become invisible–totally unrelated, but I was watching BBC Sherlock and…well, never mind, I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t watched it yet, but it’s interesting. I think you write beautifully, Amanda! Regardless of whether you agree or find your life intriguing, I’ve found that readers really do connect with those “genuine glimpses” into our lives, even if they aren’t explicit (e.g. this post, which is both about me and not about me…if that makes any sense?). On another note, I find that when I photograph people, they stare at me all funny 😀 guess I’m not as invisible as I think when I’m looking stalkerish, hehe. Thoughts on any of this?

  8. There is something about the flavor of oatmeal and chocolate that can’t be beat. These will go fast with my family.

    1. Yes, I hope y’all do enjoy this–I’d love to hear how it goes for you, Michelle! Cheers!

  9. I think I could be invisible or try to get noticed depending on the setting and situation. Most of all I love interacting and meeting genuine people and think your enthusiasm is awesome! We could all strive to focus more on the positive things…like these phenomenal looking bars! Sweet and salty is the best and that was so awesome of you to send these to your friend and that they had such a positive impact on her 🙂

    1. Aw, you’re so sweet, Kelly! This is why I love reading your stuff, too. Totally birds of a feather–your enthusiasm is contagious! Thanks for the kind note, I hope you’re having yourself a LOVELY week. I’d send these bars to every friend in the country if I could!

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