As Mazzy and Harlow get older, I’ve been looking for more ways to teach them how to give to people less fortunate than them, in ways that are meaningful not just to me, but to them. This is why I took Mazzy and Harlow with me to donate diapers and baby food to people affected by Hurricane Maria the other day. Obviously I know our supplies are a drop in the bucket, but I believe the more people we teach to do good, the better the world becomes.

Walking a few blocks to a firehouse only goes so far though (it’s not like the money for the supplies came out of their pockets), so I’m not sure what Mazzy and Harlow’s takeaway was from the situation. My aim is to find ways for them to put a little more of themselves into the process of giving, so they can really experience how generosity makes them feel.

My good friend Daniela works for an organization called Cookies for Kids’ Cancer which helps people put together local bake sales to help raise money to fund pediatric cancer research. It was started by Gretchen Witt after her son Liam was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, Liam lost his battle but Gretchen believes that his memory is served best by continuing to help kids and parents who find themselves with a similar diagnosis.

Last Friday, Mazzy, Harlow, Allie and I baked six dozen “mystery cookies” (burning a few in the process) to sell at our own local bake sale.

I got my friend Lucy and her kids to bake six dozen shortbread cookies (not a burnt one in the bunch) and together we set up shop outside Dinosaur Hill, our favorite toy store in the East Village, who volunteered the space and were also kind enough to donate 10% of that day’s sales to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

At the sale, I sat back and let the kids do the selling and was really impressed to see them rise to the occasion. In just two hours, they made $375 (which will be matched, as were all sales in the month of September) and only ate a handful of cookies.

Fun fact! Alan Cumming was our very first sale. He paid $10 for a $3 cookie. I was too shy to get him on video.

I got everything else though! Here’s a video showing how it all went down:

In the end, we did some good and it was an awesome experience for the kids. They had fun, were proud of their hard work, and gladly handed over all the money we raised.

But I don’t want my involvement to end there. I’ve been looking for a philanthropic initiative to weave into my blog and I think one that can help parents get their kids involved around a cause they can understand is a good one. Plus, as Gretchen says, baking cookies helps put a pleasant face on a topic most people have trouble talking about.

So today, I want to do three things:

1) I am going to be conducting a virtual arm of our bake sale to continue to raise money for the cause. You can buy a virtual version of Mazzy and Harlow’s Mystery Cookies for $5. That’s it. I’m not asking for a larger donation, although you are obviously welcome to make one.

To buy a virtual cookie, click here.

2) If anyone is interested in throwing your own Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale and joining the Mommy Shorts fundraising team, I would like to become the virtual arm of your sale too. I’m planning on featuring one family’s bake sale each month (with a link to buy their virtual cookies) and all you’d need to do is submit a photo of your sale with your kids behind the table, a picture of your cookies and your cookie recipe.

If you would like to set up your own bake sale to raise money for Cookies for Kid’s Cancer as part of the Mommy Shorts Team, go to this page and click “join.”

3) I’d like to give you the recipe for Mazzy and Harlow’s Mystery Cookies! Which, full disclosure, we modified from a recipe on the Food Network. Who do you think we are? Martha Stewart???

Mazzy and Harlow’s Mystery Cookie Recipe


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
Mini marshmallows
Potato chips
Rainbow sprinkles


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Melt butter in microwave.

4. Whisk brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.

5. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.

6. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

7. Stir in the chocolate chips, marshmallows, pretzels, rainbow sprinkles and potato chips as your kids see fit. The key to the mystery is to make sure distribution is unevenly mixed in. Or, you can separate the batter into separate bowls and have each kid choose their own mix-ins. (Note: Try to hold your kids back from using too many marshmallows— if you leave the cookies in for too long, the marshmallows can create pockets of air in the cookies as the expand and melt.)

8. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into balls, spacing cookies about 2-inches apart on the pans.

9. Bake and then watch them like a hawk so you don’t burn them!

10. Take them out when they turn golden, about 12 to 16 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies.

11. Transfer hot cookies with a spatula to a rack to cool.

12. Try to wait for them to cool before you eat them.

That’s the hardest part.