Sunday, February 23, 2014

Breaking Loose and Banana Bread

My resolution for this year was to be more spontaneous, and I think I have been doing a pretty good job with that so far.  In the past two months I started dating again, went to a trampoline park, ice skating, and bowling.  I am hosting spontaneous girls' nights and meeting with friends on the fly.  It's kind of nice to not have to plan every minute of my life all the time.

This morning after a terrific night of bowling and a movie, I woke up early to clean the kitchen, and noticed I had overly ripe bananas.  I could either throw them out, or make banana bread- the banana bread option won hands down, of course.  I am pretty busy with school and the internship hunt right now, so I don't have a lot of time.  But this morning, I decided I was just going to whip up a loaf and that was that.  I really like this new version of myself, the "go-with-the-flow-and-carpe-diem" version.  It is fun and exciting, and now apparently delicious.

If you had asked me on New Years Day if I thought I would be this happy two months later, I would have thought you were crazy.  It's a pretty cool feeling, and I think I'm going to stick with it for a while.

Brown Sugar Topped Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from The Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book
Yield: 1 large loaf

Friday, February 14, 2014

Saying it with Snickerdoodles

As I announced yesterday, I am back to blogging.  We had a snow day yesterday, so I of course used my extra day to bake cookies instead of do the massive amounts of homework I have... Then again, if you're reading this, then you probably know me, and you aren't at all surprised by this procrastination tactic.

I have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day.  I think it's too commercialized and sappy and pressured.  But I also kind of like it because it gives me an excuse to show my friends how much I love them.  Because friend-love and all other kinds of love should be celebrated on Valentine's Day too.  In previous years, I have spent my Valentine's Days stuffing my friends' mailboxes with cookies, teaching Zumba Fitness® in a women's prison, and playing Apples to Apples with patients in a psychiatric hospital.  Those were the best ways I could have spent a holiday about love- showing love to other people.

Last year I was in bad space and did not do anything to celebrate V Day.  This year, I am feeling inspired by the new love and relationships that have come into my life, so I decided to bake some cookies.  Unfortunately it is not as convenient to give them to people as in college, when I just put them in everyone's mailboxes.  This year, I had all I could do to battle the weather and get a tin full of cookies into my internship for my coworkers.  To the rest of my friends, please know that I love you and will give you cookies if you come visit me.

I wasn't exactly in a sugar cookie mood yesterday, so I decided to do something different.  For possibly the first time in my 24 years, I have a date on Valentine's Day.  This date told me his favorite cookies are snickerdoodles, so I decided to make them for my coworkers and leave an extra one out for him.  I usually hate sprinkles, but I wanted to be a little festive, so this is what I came up with:

Valentine's Snickerdoodles
Recipe adapted from here
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Baking, Birthdays, and Balance

Dear friends, family, and foodies that read this blog,

I want to apologize for the minor hiatus I took from blogging.  There has been a lot going on in my life, and I am finally ready to tell you about it.  I haven't entirely disappeared from baking.  In fact, I have done quite a bit of baking therapy.  I just haven't had the time to write about any of it.  Since my last post, I have made:

Peppermint Cupcakes w/ Dark Chocolate Ganache and Crushed Candy Canes

Melting Snowmen Cookies Take 2

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting and Crushed Candy Canes

New York Style Cheesecake w/ a Graham Cracker Crust and a
Homemade Cranberry-Sour Cherry Compote

Minnie Mouse Cupcakes

Mocha Cake w/ Espresso and Mocha Buttercreams,
Topped w/ Chocolate Shavings

White Cake w/ Vanilla Buttercream, Filled with Chocolate Chips,
Decorate with Fondant and Buttercream

White Cake, Filled w/ Strawberry Preserves, Topped w/
Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries

Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Buttercream
See?  Told you I've been busy.  I've also been busy with other things, like grad school, my internship, my two part-time jobs, and my never-ending quest for happiness and growth.  Allow me to fill you in:

1. Grad school: School has been tough, but I am managing things better and staying afloat this semester.  I still don't love my school or the Boston area, but I am hanging in there.  This is just what I have to do to fulfill my life dream, and that is getting me through.

2. Practicum: My practicum or "internship" has been going swimmingly.  I love working in a middle school.  I have some of the most wonderful and supportive coworkers and some of the most amazing students.  I never want to leave.  Unfortunately I have to, and the search for next year's site is grueling and frustrating, but I know I will find one that is meant for me in the end.

3. Marketing Job: I have cut back on some hours and am no longer working for Admissions, but I am really liking this job.  I have a really wonderful boss (in fact, she ordered the Minnie Mouse cupcakes for her daughter's birthday party!).  She is attentive and supportive and always there for me.

4. Tutoring Job: I had a plethora of students in the fall, and am just now catching a break.  I have met some really amazing kids and families the last few months, and one of them has almost become like a little sister to me.  I am loving what I am doing and can't wait to meet my next student!

5. Life: I made the decision to leave behind my toxic relationship and put me first.  It was a really difficult and painful decision that took many months to make, and I finally did it.  I feel free and happy and optimistic.  I am beginning the search for new apartments, but won't be moving until I secure an internship for next year.  In the mean time, I have been meeting new people and re-connecting with old ones.  I joined a gym and have been eating better.  I have been making time for myself and for being social.  I have finally found a sense of inner peace and balance, and I am not about to let that go.

Thank you to all of those who have supported me through this difficult time in my life, and I look forward to the times we are about to have now that I am a whole person again.  This 24th year of my life is going to be the best one yet; I can feel it.

Love and cookies,