The College Myth

“How’s college? Do you like it?”, asks every person I talk to.

“Yeah I really like it.” Is my usual response.

A true response would take way longer than the time they have and be much more personal than they wanted to know. The true answer is that most of the time it is great. It finally feels normal and I really like my classes and professors. But 15% of the time it straight up sucks. But no one wants to hear that college sucks. And if you are an optimist(like me) or a mathematician( not like me) my off-handed response of “really good” is an accurate average of my time away at school.

It’s widely said that a lot of a person’s personal growth and development happens during their college years. I don’t disagree. In my four months up at school, I know I have grown as an individual immensely.  Just like those growing pains and growth spurts that you had as a kid, but instead these are emotional growth spurts, both of which sometimes hurt a lot.

People also say “Oh you will make lifelong friends in college.” Or my favorite, “The friends you make now will be your bridesmaids later!” No one tells you that for a while you will feel like you have fake friends and half friends. No one tells you that if you go to a place where you don’t know a soul, that sometimes it gets lonely. They never say, “You will start to wonder if you smell funny before you actually feel as though you have a couple solid friends.”

I think this provides many people with a false expectation for what college will be like. For example, fireworks will not go off in the background when you first meet your roommate and you will not be instant best friends. I know that I was not at all aware of the sub-clauses in those general comments everyone makes about college.  I went into college thinking I would totally have it all together by day 10. Be involved, check. Make friends, check. Ace your classes, check. Grow, check. And by grow I do not mean in your waistline from the freshman 15, just to clarify.

Reality check: man was I mistaken. I never realized how much growing hurt. Being away from everyone I knew for close to 70 days, when I can’t think of a single time that I had spent without the presence of a familiar face before going to college, it hurt.  I missed dinner with my family, doing homework and hearing my parents talk as they were preparing dinner, sharing a room with my sister, good morning hugs from my mom, I missed all of home.  I missed the community of my small group, as I doubted that there was actually a single other Christian on the entire campus. I craved having someone with whom a look could be interpreted to speak 1000 words.

In the midst of this pain though, God always appeared. When I needed to meet another Christian on campus just to be reassured that they actually existed, in a totally random moment, I sat down next to one in a lecture. When it turned out that my dad had to fight a fire and couldn’t come to visit, two of my church friends from home to plan a trip to come visit. When I missed the companionship of my home friends, there was a friend waiting for me – I just needed to open my eyes and look around. God was always there in the pain of growing, and with his help I have grown with leaps and bounds.

I was also vastly unprepared for just exactly how long it would take to feel like I had really good friends. Even though I knew I was going somewhere where I wouldn’t know a soul, I thought, “It’s okay. I have already done this once before in high school when I went back to public school after homeschooling” what I failed to realize is that in high school I already knew some people. And they knew some people. So their friends became mutual friends and my friend circle expanded. In college it’s different. There is only one of me. I can only meet so many people and I can only spend quality getting to know you time with an even smaller number of people. I constantly have to remind myself to have grace with myself. Making friends takes a long time. Making best friends, let alone bridesmaid worthy friends, takes even longer. And in that long time, sometimes it gets a little lonely. But it’s okay. Everyone feels like that.

Give yourself grace, is what I have to keep reminding myself. Do you even remember how you made your last best friend? I know I can’t. Actually other than being nice, how does one make friends? I feel like it just happens naturally. Is there a point in time that marks the transition from friends to good friends to best friends? I think it all just takes time. It takes time to create the shared memories and inside jokes that come with a great friendship. It’s okay, friends will come with time. Hang in there.

I wrote this after first semester, and hesitated to put it up because it seemed really pessimistic, and that wasn’t what I wanted to portray-I knew it would get better, it was just slow going. Looking back on what I wrote after a full year under my belt, I still agree with what I was feeling, but I know it also gets better.  Second semester I found my people-friends I knew were friends.  I joined a sorority (though I never dreamed that I would), track season started, I found a home church, a bible study, and I became better friends with the people whom I had met during first semester.  I knew how to juggle school, laundry, feeding myself, and having a social life way better.  After two months of summer, though I am loving home, I miss my friends at school so much I almost wish school would start already just so I could see all my friends again.  Wholeheartedly, I can say that school is great and I am really enjoying it.

Jumping for joy because life is good, school is over, and its finally summer.
Jumping for joy because life is good, school is over, and its finally summer.

In conclusion, a note to all the incoming college freshman-have grace with yourself.  Realize its a big adjustment, and set your expectations accordingly. Have fun, and know that everything gets better after first semester.  And a note to everyone who says, “College is the best time of your life!”-be careful, you might be creating false expectations in a nervous freshman’s mind.  You might not remember the trials of the first couple weeks, because the good times have washed out all of those memories, but more than likely they were there.

Lost: The Simple Joy of Reading

Guess what happened last night?
I read a book. For fun.  Not a fun school related book, but a plain, unassigned, free reading book. For some reason, I had this urge to read a nice carefree book in bed.  As I was walking to the library to obtain said books, I couldn’t even recall the last time I had read a book for pleasure.  Where had my love of reading gone?

As a child, I was the kid at the library with a stack of books two feet tall, counting them to see if I had reached the checkout limit.  I was addicted to reading.  In the summer, my parents would have to limit the amount of time I spent reading so that I would go outside to play and be social.  I loved that i could be transported to a whole new world and take on a whole new persona with the turn of a page, wherever I was.

My mom read to me almost every night until I was in high school and had to do homework  until bedtime.  Together we ventured to Narnia, became family to Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, roamed the apple orchards with Anne, and lived on the prairie with Laura, Ma, and Pa, just to name a few of our endeavors. She would read from eight to eight thirty every night; we took turns on who would occasionally fall asleep halfway through; that’s when we knew it had been a long day.  I loved that time. It was mommy and me time, our own special treat at the end of the day after my younger sister went to bed.  Promptly at 8:30 she would stop reading and say, “Alright time for bed Linds.” And I would beg for just one more chapter, just one teeny, tiny chapter.  She would look how long it was, and if it was short enough she would say, “If we read this, you will have to have no troubles getting up on time in the morning.” Of course I would readily agree; I would do anything for just one more chapter.  Together we read over seven thousand pages, and I am eternally grateful to my mom for investing that time in me and helping me cultivate my love of reading.

Between reading at night with my mom, and reading by myself, I logged many hours as a bookworm during my childhood. Like I said I was addicted. But once I got into high school, assigned reading came like a thief in the night and stole my free reading time.  Even on breaks, I either had assigned reading to do, or I was so burnt out from doing the readings before the break, I didn’t even want to think about reading more.  And it got worse and worse every year.  As more and more reading was forced upon me, the passion I had for reading faded dimmer and dimmer.

Not to say there wasn’t ever light in the dark tunnel of assigned reading.  My initial love of reading helped keep a light burning, even when the material was thick and I didn’t understand it all.  I still remember sophomore year reading A Tale of Two Cities, and learning about diction, syntax, tone, and all the usually boring parts of literary analysis.  It clicked for me, and my inner book-lover and nerd came out.  I loved thinking about why Dickens wrote the way he did, because as anyone who has ever read Dickens’ work knows; he has a very distinct voice.  To this day, that is one of my favorite books.  It was a light in my tunnel of literary analysis of assigned reading, a reminder of what I used to love.  But alas, all good things must come to an end, and assigned reading became like a chore again.

Just like reading Tale of Two Cities reignited my love for the written word, summertime also was a time of relaxing with good books.  Granted, most of the time I still had assigned reading to do, but at least for a couple of weeks I got to experience reading for the sheer fact of wanting to read once more.  In the years before my grandma died, she began a quest to read the entire classics section. It was awesome when she was reading a book that I was reading for school, because we could discuss it and read it together.  She made it through the entire classics section at the library, and inspired me to read more classics.  Thus every summer, before our annual long camping trip I would go to the library, and pick up a stack of around seven classics to read that trip.  During the course of these trips, I noticed that I always gravitated towards the classics that were not commonly read in school.  I couldn’t bring myself to read a book leisurely that was a “school book” no matter how great it was. I wanted to read a book that was clearly distinct from any book that had been or would eventually be a graded assignment.

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Assigned reading didn’t make me stop reading forever. It also didn’t make me hate reading.  But even for an avid reader, assigned reading slowly tortured my inner book-worm.  I don’t know how it got that way.  How did reading go from something I loved to a chore, as soon as it became associated with a grade or a homework assignment? Where was the point when reading became a monster?
I see it happening in my sister, as she is reading To Kill A Mockingbird, which if I might add, is an exceptional book, that I would read over and over, but she isn’t reading it because she wants to, she is reading it to answer questions to get a grade.  Naturally when reading something to answer questions, regardless the subject, one will skim to find the information that pertains to the question and then move on.  By doing so, one usually misses key information that makes the story enjoyable to read and less like homework. My sister likes to read, but not nearly as much as I did my freshman year, and I can see the enjoyment fading away as the books take on more weight than they were meant to hold.

I can’t imagine how it is for students who don’t like to read in the first place.  Actually I can; those are the students that don’t even bother opening the book and if the teacher is lucky the student will Sparknote it to at least make it appear like they are reading.  In doing so, they miss out on finding a favorite book or author, which might have led them to find a type of writing they enjoy reading.

It is not to say that assigned reading should be abolished.  What I am trying to suggest is actually very far from that.  Assigned reading exposes students to many different time periods, ways of life, styles of writing, etc. and provides great examples of how to write.  But we aren’t all going to be novelists. Maybe we should add a little more article and essay reading into the curriculum, because in this digital age, isn’t that what the majority of what our students will be dealing with in their workplace, or even in their daily lives?

Will adding articles help students enjoy assigned reading more? Possibly, maybe it will help the slower readers have confidence, because it is a shorter piece of work. Will letting students read what they want to read help them like assigned reading better? Maybe.  It might make it less of a drag and give each student the freedom to read material on what they are passionate about, or even find something they are passionate about.  But then what does one do about grading? How does one grade an enthusiastic student who only likes to read, say cookbooks and travel guides?  How does one encourage, if not require, the reading level to be grade appropriate?  How can one tell if students are actually reading the books?

I don’t have a solution, I really don’t even have suggestions on how to attempt to fix this issue, but I do know that somewhere between freshman year of high school and freshman year of college, my love of reading was vastly diminished as a result of reading wonderful novels knowing that my future would be partially determined on how well I understood and could analyze the book.  My understanding of the book led contributed to my grade in the class, which then played a huge factor in what colleges I got in to.  Reading somehow got reduced to a means to an end, and because of this many have lost sight, at least temporarily, of what the simple joy of reading is, myself included.

To conclude, I have one question that must be addressed; how do we reclaim reading from being a means to the end, and return it to the simple joy that it brings?

Endless Summer Photos

As I was procrastinating on sleep on Wednesday night and mindlessly spending time on my phone, I happened to start scrolling through the all the pictures I had taken this summer.  And I thought to myself, “Wow, I had such a great summer and took some awesome photos too!”   I had what I believe to be a great idea and decided to write  summer highlight review blog with all the cool pictures I took!  Without further adieu, here it is. Summer 2014.

Well, this is embarrassing. I didn't take this photo. It is way better than the selfies I took at graduation and I figured since I technically left off blogging at the beginning of summer with graduation, I should pick up where I left off. Graduation was great, it was a little long and hot, and I was just getting over being sick, but it was nice for it finally to happen!
Well, this is embarrassing. I didn’t take this photo. It is way better than the selfies I took at graduation(look you can see my phone in my hand, proof that I was taking selfies) and I figured since I technically left off blogging at the beginning of summer with graduation, I should pick up where I left off. Graduation was great, it was a little long and hot, and I was just getting over being sick, but it was nice for it finally to happen!
A week after graduation and a few days after my sister got out of school, my family and I embarked on a three week long camping trip.  This photo was taken in Bozeman, Montana, after two very long days of driving.
A week after graduation and a few days after my sister got out of school, my family and I embarked on a three-week long camping trip. This photo was taken in Bozeman, Montana, after two very long days of driving.
My dad and I went fly fishing one evening, just outside of Bozeman, didn't catch anything but spent sometime along a river that was bordered by beautiful farmhouses and pastureland!  This was one of the farms that we passed by and to me it looked like something out of a fairy tale.
My dad and I went fly fishing one evening, just outside of Bozeman, didn’t catch anything but spent sometime along a river that bordered beautiful farmhouses and pastureland! This was one of the farms that we passed by and to me it looked like something out of a fairy tale.

 

From Bozeman we went onto camp in Glacier National Park.  We were joined by our good family friends and they continued on the rest of the trip with us.  We went on a hike to Avalanche Lake on the only sunny day we experienced, and it was gorgeous. The lake is Glacier fed, surrounded by mountains, and so serene. My sister and I loved the numerous photo opportunities that the hike presented; around every bend was a new view to be captured!
From Bozeman we went on to camp in Glacier National Park. We were joined by our good family friends and they continued on the rest of the trip with us. We went on a hike to Avalanche Lake on the only sunny day we experienced, and it was gorgeous. The lake is Glacier fed, surrounded by mountains, and so serene. My sister and I loved the numerous photo opportunities that the hike presented; around every bend was a new view to be captured!
This is one of my favorite moments of our entire trip.  We found some old man's beard, and all decided to have beards.  A family that beards together, stays together.  :)  I couldn't help but make a collage with the best of all the funny pictures we took.  Old man's beard for the win.
This is one of my favorite moments of our entire trip. We found some old man’s beard, and all decided to have beards. A family that beards together, stays together. :) I couldn’t help but make a collage with the best of all the funny pictures we took. Old man’s beard for the win.
The best part about this picture is that when we were driving into the national park, the ranger asked my dad, "So you're bringing your dogs to the park?" totally not knowing that what he had mistaken for dogs in the backseat was really my sister and I.  In his defense, the windows were super muddy so I'm sure he couldn't see much.  But you know you are having a great hair day when the park ranger mistakes you for a dog. :)
The best part about this picture is that when we were driving into the national park, the ranger asked my dad, “So you’re bringing your dogs to the park?” totally not knowing that what he had mistaken for dogs in the backseat was really my sister and I. In his defense, the windows were super muddy so I’m sure he couldn’t see much. But you know you are having a great hair day when the park ranger mistakes you for a dog. :)

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This is my favorite place in Yellowstone. It is called Grand Prismatic Springs and it is amazing. The colors in this picture are 100% real, I have not altered it at all. If you go to Yellowstone, you must see this.

 

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We got home, after what seemed like a joyous eternity, and I spent many a morning running on the beach, soaking up the sand and sun before I moved up to college!

 

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Sunset on the Puget Sound, on Labor Day evening and my last day of summer.
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Point Defiance deserves way more pictures than just this one of the dahlia garden, but this post is already way to long, and I will post more about adventures at Point Defiance later.
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As part of orientation, we got to go camping for three days about two hours away from the school! I was in the overnight canoeing group, and except for the fact that it was super cold and rainy most of the time, it was a really cool experience! Unfortunately, it also deserves a whole other post devoted to it, so I will leave my description at that.
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Since day one of Kindergarten, I have taken a First Day of School picture on every first day of school. So of course I had to follow tradition and take one on my first day of college! :)

Sorry for the terribly long post! I hope you enjoyed the photographic recap of where I have been all summer and can see why my blog has been neglected! Since the first day of school, I have done homework, been sick, studied, bought my own groceries, made some friends, baked and cooked a little, and done laundry; all super normal everyday life things. But now, you are officially caught up on the major highlights of my life since I last blogged about it in June.

Reflections on the Past Four Years

Robert Fulghum wrote a poem back in 1990 titled All I Ever Needed to know I Learned in Kindergarten.  In it he writes,

“These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some

and draw and paint and sing and dance and play

and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic,

hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.

Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:

The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody

really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even

the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.

So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books

and the first word you learned – the biggest

word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.

The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.

Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into

sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your

family life or your work or your government or

your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

Think what a better world it would be if

all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about

three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with

our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments

had a basic policy to always put thing back where

they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you

are – when you go out into the world, it is best

to hold hands and stick together.”

 

As I was pondering what to do for my senior project and reflecting on the abundance of lessons I learned in high school; I realized I really wanted to write a letter similar to Fulghum’s poem to both freshman me looking back, and my sister as she is going to be a freshman next year.  Here is what I came up with.

Dear Freshman me,

All you really will ever need to know, you’ll know.

and even on the perchance that you don’t know,

being the resourceful girl you are, obviously you’ll Google it.

Knowledge will not be found in the $100,000 of college tuition debt, but rather in the classroom, on the playing field, and in everyday life.  These are the things you will learn by graduation day:

Everything is better with food.

Attitude is everything.

Find a couple of things you love and apply yourself to them.

YOLO is not the best way to make major life decisions.

Stress doesn’t get you anywhere in life.

A smile and a greeting can make a persons day.

Don’t give up; on people, on life, or in class.

Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

Dream big, because  if you reach for the moon and miss you’ll land on a star.

Take risks.

Waiting until the night before to start anything is a bad idea.

Don’t be afraid of change, change is healthy.

Make friends, and “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together”.

Family is everything.  They have been yours from day one, and they will always love you.  Appreciate them.  Spend time with them.  Savor those dinnertime moments, those times where you are laughing so hard it hurts.  Soon you will be moving over 1000 miles away, eating dinner without your family; your presence at the dinner table thoroughly missed.

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But take heart everything will be okay.  You will still be able to Facetime, go home on the holidays, go on family camping trips, stay home for summer, and sleep in your own bed in your own house.  You can still go home and eat home food; you don’t have to be a vegetarian forever.

Cherish those times with your sister.  Those she may sometimes feel like an annoyance, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  Go easy on her and make memories; she is only going to be an innocent middle schooler for so long.  Have fun.  Take adventures together. Be spontaneous.

rachel and i

When you start following these tips, there is one very important thing that you must do.  Can you guess what it is?

Have fun. Though that’s a good one; it’s not the most important piece of advice I have for you, because you will have fun anywhere and with anything.  The biggest regret you will have is not taking enough pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take pictures on top of pictures on top of pictures.  There is no such thing as too many pictures, so snap away.  Capture the memories, you are only in high school once.

With love,

Senior you

senior Lindsey

Gluten Free Culinary Perfection

Ever since day one, my family and I have had almost weekly dinner with our family friends(more like family) that live four houses down the street from us.  The meals are sometimes more elaborate, and sometimes its a “whatever we can make with what’s in both fridges” dinner.  Either way, the food is always great and I always look forward to it.

I can’t even count the times where we have called our family friends or vice versa and said, “Hey! We’re trying a new recipe tonight, would you like to join us for dinner?”  (I’m pretty sure normal people don’t invite people over for dinner when they are cooking a new recipe, just saying.)  The fun thing is that whenever we try a new recipe; there is always the possibility that we will have to call for pizza, and we are all willing to take that risk. In all my years of eating these creations, I can’t remember a night where the dinner has been so terrible that we actually have called for pizza.  That being said, this environment has always encouraged me to try new recipes, and wing it, even if you don’t have all the ingredients and are under a little pressure.

Over the weekend, my grandpa came down to visit and attend my sister’s soccer game.  We all completely forgot that he had recently(within the past two weeks) become officially gluten intolerant, and didn’t remember until he said, “This is amazing! It’s the first bread I have had in two weeks!” when we made him a sandwich.  He ate the sandwich, thinking it would be okay just for that meal, but it didn’t go over so well.  He told us what he had been eating and how much he was missing noodles and toast, and especially cookies.  He LOVES homemade cookies.  He wasn’t even aware that they made gluten-free substitutes for bread and noodles, and was blown away that I could make him some gluten-free cookies.

I, being the extremely resourceful person I am, googled some recipes, found a promising one, went to Sprout’s for the gluten-free ingredients, and embarked on a gluten-free cookie journey.

The reviews I read for this recipe were all very good, and praised it.  My goodness, I followed the recipe to a T and I ended up with gloppy, crinkly, soft, and gooey cookies that wouldn’t even come off the cookie sheet.

It was a mess. These are just the ones that came off the sheet looking at least a little like a cookie.
It was a mess. These are just the ones that came off the sheet looking at least a little like a cookie. The rest was only fit for ice cream toppings and/or immediate sampling.  Needless to say, there were several cookie fatalities that night.

 

I finally got so frustrated with it that I stuck the remainder of one sheet back in the oven to hopefully crisp up and be easier to remove while still maintaining the cookie shape.  Meanwhile, I ranted to my mother about school, checked Facebook, lamented the sad state of my cookie disaster, looked at another recipe-realizing I forgot to pick up half the ingredients, made an entire new batch of cookies after tweaking the recipe, got them all set up on the cookie sheet, turned on the oven, took a picture of my kitchen mishap, and finally looked at the oven to see why it was seemingly taking forever to heat up.  And this is what I found…

My First Ever Burnt Cookies :(
My First Ever Burnt Cookies :(

I have never, ever, burnt ANYTHING this badly. EVER.  It was terrible.  I burnt everything so much that the chocolate chips were crummy.  Boy was I frustrated.  I don’t really like failing at things I normally excel at.  Like I have said in earlier posts, I don’t mind failure, knowing that failure is the only way to learn, but seriously, I have been making cookies since I was old enough to be in the kitchen with my mom.  Thinking back on it, I think I was more frustrated that my cookie pride was hurt, not really that I had “failed”.  It wasn’t a complete failure as the undercooked ones tasted good, but just didn’t hold their shape.

Being my hardworking and stubborn self, I wasn’t going to let these cookies have the best of me, I put the newly altered recipe batch in the oven and watched them like a hawk.  The reward was SWEET REDEMPTION, both literally and figuratively.

Much Better
Much Better

Lesson learned, just like Aunt BethAnn has always said, don’t ever be afraid to make a dish, based on how it will turn out or how it did turn out; you can always order pizza and try again another time.

Professional chefs have had their share of meal mishaps and burnt food, and look where they are now.  Maybe burnt food and mishaps are just a step in the right direction towards culinary perfection.

Anyway, I almost forgot to include the recipe(the one I changed).

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 9-11 minutes

Total Time: 26 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups of your favorite GF all purpose baking/flour substitute
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for chocolate mint chip cookies, use 1 teaspoon peppermint extract)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) gluten-free chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In a large mixing bowl, combine egg and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy. Add butter and beat on high until combined. Add extract and beat briefly. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (optional).

For 1 dozen large cookies use a 2 tablespoon (1/8 cup) ice cream scoop or drop heaping tablespoons of dough on prepared baking sheets.

For 2 dozen small cookies use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon.

Bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are crisp on edges and slightly soft in the middle. Cool on baking sheet.

Valentine’s Day: Corporate, Cute, AND Crafty?

For the entire month of February, I have thought about Valentine’s day; debating the pros and cons of it, and trying not to be too cynical about it.  I decided that while Valentine’s Day was cute and fun back in kindergarten and elementary school, where everyone bought Valentine’s for the entire class and handed them out, but now its just another day just with the added pressure of doing something extravagant or special for your significant other.  In short, I am one of those people who thinks Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, created to stimulate the economy of cards, chocolates, stuffed animals, and flowers.

I mean, its great and all to tell and show your significant other that you love them, but really, we need a day dedicated to it?  Just in case I forgot on the other 364 days of the year?  I would much rather surprise someone on a random day to confess my unending love for them, then on Valentine’s Day, just because the spontaneity of it makes it that much more memorable and special.

On Friday, while I was brainstorming for this post, I thought, “Sweet, I have $10 bucks in my pocket! I’m going to go by the flower shop on the way home from school and practice to buy my mommy some flowers, cause I love her so much and I know that would make her week.”  Now, before you immediately think “Suck up” or “I wish my kids did that”, I must say I have had some great training.  My dad has been know to send my mom flowers on random days, especially when he is gone fighting fires for weeks at a time, just to say “I love you” or “Have a great day”.  I learned from the best.  Anyway, my mom was so excited and touched she really didn’t know what to say except “Aww, Linds” and “Thank you” and give me a big hug.

Now imagine if I had done the same thing on Valentine’s Day.  Though my mom would still think it was special, it wouldn’t have the same effect.  Lesson learned: spontaneous surprises are awesome. (Guys, take note)

 

That being said, I can’t bear to be completely bah-humbug about Valentine’s Day, because it has some pretty amazing and cute decorations. And it is super cute, so in as much as I think it is a silly day, I like it.  I am hosting a Valentine’s Day outreach event, and have scoured Pinterest, Etsy, YouTube, Google, and many other realms of the internet to find the perfect decorations and centerpieces.  And I found them.  They would work really well as creative flower substitutes(guys, thinking outside the box = great idea) or valentine’s to give to friends and coworkers.  Heck, they could be flowers for Singles Awareness Day as well, basically whatever floats your boat.

 

 

These are super cute and guaranteed to win anyone’s heart over(or make an amazing centerpiece).  But honestly, flowers and chocolate are pretty much the awesomest thing ever to a girl, so what could be better than combine the two? Gentlemen, don’t worry, these are super easy to make and inexpensive.  $12 dollars, a little time, and TLC and you will have yourself a beautiful bouquet of rose kisses.

 

Supplies:

  • Green floral tape- any craft store will have some

  • Tape

  • Hershey’s Kisses

  • Red Cellophane- I found mine in the dollar section of Target in a 6 sheet pack, but it was also next to the tissue paper in the gift wrap section

  • 9 inch wooden skewers-any grocery store will have them

  • Scissors

 

Instructions

Step One:  Pair all kisses together, taping them together at the base of each kiss(flat part to flat part) to form the rose bud shape.

Step Two: Cut out 4.5 inch squares of cellophane to wrap the kisses in.  Cut as many pieces as you want roses.

Step Three: Place the taped kiss pair in the center of one of the cellophane squares, with one of the pointy end of the kisses in the center of the square.  Bring all four corners up to the center, gather the cellophane and twist it to start forming the stem of the rose.

Step Four(the hardest part):  Take a 5 inch (ish) long piece of the floral tape and start wrapping it where you twisted the cellophane to form the beginning of the stem.  Continue to wrap it around until you have secured the cellophane over the kisses.

photo-9
This is the goal of Step 4.

TIP: If you stretch the floral tape out as you are wrapping, it sticks a little better.  I have no idea why, it just does.

Step Five:  Insert the skewer, pointy side in, into the rose bud and partial stem.  Be careful not to stab the chocolate.

Step Six: Take your roll of floral tape and begin to wrap from the flower down the skewer to form the stem.  Once you are at the bottom, cut the tape, smooth the end down, and you’re done!