Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chocolate and Changes

I am not happy.  OK, I said it.  The first step to changing something is admitting it, right?  Well I guess I can start now.

Grad school is hard.  Really hard.  I have no time for myself, no time for seeing friends, and no time for sleep.  The stress caught up to me and I got sick.  Today I spent five straight hours writing a paper, and I don't even understand what it says.  I am sad.  I snap at whoever is around me, and I cry on a daily basis.  And you know what?  That's not even the bad news.  Nope, the bad news is that I have a whole four years of this.

This is not a way to live for four years.  I am a happy person, and if I am not happy in a situation, I change it.  I'm not ready to drop out of grad school just yet, but I am ready to make some changes in my life.  Today is the first day of fall, the season of change, so today is a good day to start.  Instead of crying and trying to do my readings all day long, I took a break, and baked some cookies.  I opted out of going to a lecture I signed up for, and took time to clean the kitchen.  I might even take a nap.

I am going to school to learn to relieve people's suffering, and it's about time I learned to relieve my own.  Today marks the first day of my happiness project.  I am going to actively pursue that sense of life and hope that I've somehow lost.  These cookies are my first step.

Double Dark Chocolate Cookies
Recipe adapted from The Cookie Bible
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Friday, September 21, 2012

Throwing Things Together

Normally, when I bake, I like a recipe to follow as a guideline.  Other times, I am in a hurry, and think I have a general idea of what I'm doing.  Sometimes, this works in my favor, and others, the whatever-it-was-that-came-out-of-the-oven-that-in-no-way-shape-or-form-resembles-something-edible ends up in the garbage.

This week was my week to bring breakfast in for my clinical seminar class, and I was faced with the choice of spending a lot of time and making something super delicious and awesome, or actually doing the homework for my classes.  I went with homework this time, (although, you might recall, I normally chose the baked good when I was at Wes), and decided to throw together an apple crisp.  I literally just chopped up some apples, and then threw whatever I thought was supposed to go into apple crisp in the pot.  It's almost metaphorical for my life right now: "just throw everything together, give it time to cook, and hope it comes out OK in the end."

It wasn't a super typical "crisp," but whatever apple hodge-podge it was was pretty darn delicious.  Unfortunately, I don't have a real recipe for you, but I'll give you a general idea of what I did.

Caramel Toffee Apple Crisp
Yield: 1 large pyrex dish of apple crisp

Snickerdoodles for Stacy

A lot of my class of 2012 friends have been doing really brave and exciting things since graduation in May.  Some have gone on to grad school, some have traveled the country, some have moved to cities halfway across the world, some have moved in with significant others for the first time, and some are just brave enough to move home again (which probably takes the most guts of them all!)

One of my best friends in the entire world, Stacy, is one of those brave people that I admire.  She went home to NYC to work for the summer, saved up her money, and then bought a one-way ticket to Chicago.  She had no job, no plan, and moved in with two girls she met on Craigslist, without ever seeing the place beforehand.

I have so much respect for this girl, yet I'm still selfishly sad that she has moved so far away.  She's no longer a 1.5 minute walk from my house at Wes, or even a mere 4-hour bus ride from Boston to NYC.  She's literally a thousand miles away, and I miss her.

Her birthday was last weekend, and unfortunately, I haven't yet come up with a way to ship my birthday cakes.  This means I couldn't send her something as awesome as I made for her last year.  I had just made brownies a few days before, so I decided cookies would probably be the easiest to make and ship quickly.  I didn't have time to go to the store, so I had to settle for what I had on hand, and came up with snickerdoodles. (I was also rushing, so I didn't have time to take step-by-step photos, sorry!)

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book
Yield: 16 large cookies

Don't Stop Believin' Brownies

For those of you that have had the rare opportunity to speak with me the past few weeks, you know I've started grad school.  You also know that it's taken over my life, and that all I do is go to class, study, and go to my field placement, and go to work.  It's living, but it's not a life.  It's been really difficult to adjust, and it's taken its toll on my mental and physical well-being.  I've been doing a lot of crying, falling asleep at my desk, and have had a pretty lovely virus.

My second week of grad school, I decided I needed to make some brownies.  I didn't really have the time, but sometimes, you just have to make time for the things that make you happy.  Baking and eating brownies are two of those for me.  Between the brownies, the help of my 5 wonderful housemates, my boyfriend, my amazing peers at MSPP, and some strong encouragement from family back home, I am getting better.  I am feeling more hopeful and happier and supported and loved, and I want to thank everyone that has been there for me the last few weeks.  If I make it to my doctorate, it will be because of you amazing people.

I didn't have a whole lot of time to photograph and go step by step, but I am sure you are all incredibly smart people that can figure it out.

Salted Caramel Brownies
Recipe adapted from here
Yield: 1 9x13" pan of brownies (read: 1 serving if you are really upset, or are menstrual)