I believe in miracles.
I try to change the world every day.
I love my husband, my friends, and my family.
I plan my next great adventure constantly.
I think most occasions call for a dress.
I write what I know and believe.
Some of you may remember how I was so excited to start new course work through the NYU Heymen Center last fall. I started my first paper immediately, and then I got stressed and busy at work and it sat on my desk top for 2 months. After I quit my job, I was determined to get my coursework done. But college applications were due for my senior, so that came first. I submitted my first paper right before Thanksgiving.
The same day Sarah got into Princeton, I got my first paper back in the mail. It had a handwritten A on the last page, and I cried. No lie. I probably was still crying about Sarah’s Princeton acceptance, but I cried for my A, too. I thought I might try and file for an extension, but then I just decided to buckle down and get it done after Christmas.
I spent one evening and a full day in front of my computer finishing the last couple papers and my exam and I sent them in at the LAST.POSSIBLE.MINUTE. You have no idea. Literally, on December 30, I was sending in the last of my papers… then I waited.
Last weekend, I found most of my papers in the mail, and I got an A on EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. of them… and a B+ on my final exam. And I.WAS.THRILLED.
Tonight, my final grade was posted, and it was seriously THE best feeling EVER.
And while I would NEVER suggest procrastination is a good idea… I am pretty proud of myself and ready to sign up for my second pre-req, I think!!
One of the first things that slid when I started having trouble at work was my JLD placement with NDSM. It was also the only thing keeping me centered, but J took away flex-Fridays, so I didn’t have a choice. The coordinator at NDSM was really understanding when I told her I needed to put my schedule on hold. When I left my job, I spent a lot of time getting Sarah’s college apps finished up, and suddenly the holidays were upon us and NDSM was closed until January 3.
The first week of the new year, Tom told me he wanted me to go back to NDSM if I wanted to on Fridays. I had debated just getting my hours in on Saturday mornings, but the more I thought about it, the more I really felt like my heart was really with my Friday afternoon people, so I emailed the coordinator and got back on the schedule.
This past Friday, Tom insisted that we not leave for San Antonio until my hours were complete at NDSM. It’s like he knew. I had a steady stream of people all afternoon, but one in particular really stood out to me. He was 68. 68.
I have a hard time with young girls with babies, but I have an even harder time with older people. I wonder where their families are and how they are in these positions. He had a job offer from a man he worked for many, many years ago delivering flowers to florists… but times had changed and the guy needed a DPS report before he could hire him to drive. So, he headed to the DPS to get the report.
They wouldn’t help him.
Told him it was all online and they couldn’t get the report for him. He needed to go home and request it online.
HE’S 68!! Seriously?!
So, sensing that this was a BIG deal to him, I suggested we get online and get that DPS report. He was completely agreeable. I got the checklist of things we needed and he was ready to go… until it came time to pay the fee. He didn’t have the money, and I could tell it was devestating to him. So, I whipped out my credit card and paid it. I didn’t think about it. I just did it. It was only $20. In my world (right, wrong or otherwise), that’s NOTHING. NOTHING.
And he was completely grateful… As I handed him his pristine driving record, he insisted on giving me an IOU. The charge was minor to me, but to him, it was a game-changer. He was headed off to give the report to the guy and start getting some hours in before Valentine’s Day.
Maybe the guy was a con-artist. Maybe he had $20. Maybe he didn’t. Either way, I felt like he needed it. I feel like I can tell when people are sincere, and I’m pretty sure people don’t just ask for DPS reports. Money, maybe… not help with DPS reports.
As most of you know, I had put in for SEVERAL other JLD placements… and I had been placed into my first choice. My job schedule and uncertainty caused me to change it, and one of the only things I could commit to was NDSM, but each day I’m there, I become more and more convinced that it is the right place for me…
and hopefully, I’m making a difference in the lives of the people I work with each Friday. I just thank God that Tom loves my placement as much as I do and encourages me to take care of business there, too.
This week’s mini apple pie recipe is brought to us via Little Bit of Funky… when I saw these on pinterest, I knew they would be THE perfect addition to our Thanksgiving menu. We’re going small this year and this recipe can be halved. My boyfriend only eats pumpkin pie, so making an entire apple pie seemed silly, especially once he surprised me with a trip to New Orleans following Turkey Day. Oh, and add in the fact that anything mini is considered to be WAY cuter….
I have to admit, I had big plans for these that included acorn and leaf cookie cutters. Fall, however, managed to thwart me at every turn… (Read: I was not going to 16 stores in search of cookie cutters a la the great candy corn hunt), so I had to settle for an apple cookie cutter from Joann’s. Bah humbug.
I used a 2.5 inch round cookie cutter, and it was slightly small but the 3.5 inch was WAY too big. If you have things to play around with, go for it.
4 large apples (Note: I used Honeycrisp, because that's ALL Kroger had two days before Thanksgiving?!. I also used five and I had plenty of leftover apples. You could probably use 3, but I don't want you to have too few and then yell at me.)
6 tablespoons of flour
¾ cups of sugar
2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
2 boxes of Pillsbury roll out pie crusts (4 total)
2 tablespoons of cold butter (plus a little extra to melt)
Peel, core, and cut apples into ½ inch bits. You should have four cups or so of apples. (I did this the day before and stored in an airtight container to save myself time on baking day.)
Mix apples with dry ingredients in large mixing bowl, making sure to fully coat all apples.
Unroll your pie crusts and cut 12 rounds. Press into muffin tins. Also, cut 12 or so tops... in my case, I cut 12 apple shaped tops.
Fill muffin cups with heaping tablespoons of apples.
Cut butter into 12 equally divided pieces and place a piece on each top.
Cover as desired with left over dough (or in my case, apple cutouts... that started to look like pumpkins just to irritate me...) and brush tops with melted butter.
Bake at 400F for 18-22 minutes. I baked mine for 10 minutes and then checked on them every 2 minutes. I ended up taking them out after 20 minutes. I let them cook and used the tip of a knife to gently pry them out of the muffin tins.
Remember when I said I was going to make a pinterest recipe every week? Yeah, me too. Life happened and I didn’t have any time to do anything. Now that I HAVE time… I have a ton of projects on my “want to do” list… Without further adieu… I present my latest Pinterest attempt… the pinwheel cookie recipe!
In a stand mixer, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars with paddle on medium until well blended.
Add butter in, gradually, and continue mixing. Add in vanilla extract. At this point, your dough will form a ball on your paddle. (Note: I initially had some trouble getting the dough to form, so I kicked the speed up - no problem!!)
Remove all your dough and divide into two equal parts. Return one portion back in to the mixer and add the food coloring and any extra extracts. I used Wilton gel food coloring in leaf green and vanilla extract for this batch. You could coordinate your colors and flavors, for example green food coloring matched with a mint extract or yellow with a lemon extract, etc. Also, if you are using liquid food coloring, you will need to add a few tbsp of flour to keep the dough from becoming too wet. Mix until the color is spread out evenly.
Roll out each portions of your dough, between two sheets a wax paper until is reaches about 11 x 9 inches and is ¼ inch thick. Slide both unto a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. (Note: I only did it for an hour, and it was almost too long to get it to roll without breaking.)
When firm, remove the top sheets of wax paper from both. Brush the uncolored vanilla dough lightly with water using a pastry brush. Then flip the colored dough onto the vanilla uncolored dough so they are stacked atop each other and even. Press the edges lightly with your fingertips to seal them together. Using a small pairing knife, trim the edges of the dough to make straight, even lines.
Pour out sprinkles onto a large platter and set aside. Be sure your dough is still cold, but flexible. Once it's ready, begin rolling the long side of dough into a swirl, jelly-roll style. Now, don't get nervous if the outer layer of uncolored dough tears a bit. It's no problem, just pinch and pat those tears and voila, then just keep rolling.
Now gently lift your dough log onto the sprinkles and roll away. Cover the log completely with your sprinkles. Wrap the colorfully decorated log in plastic wrap twice. Depending on when you want to bake the cookies, either place the wrapped dough into refrigerator for about 3-4 hours or you can put it the freezer and keep it there for up to 2 months. (If freezing, give yourself time for the dough to defrost in the fridge overnight before cutting.)
Slice your dough into ¼-1/8 inch slices and bake on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move them to a cookie rack to finish cooling.
These cookies are easier than they look and can be customized for ANYTHING! Christmas, 4th of July, birthdays, Halloween… anything you can find sprinkles for, you can make these to celebrate!
There are no eggs in the cookie dough, so you can eat the ends AND the scraps!
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to go with my [amazing] high school senior to tour some amazing schools here in Dallas. My senior has launched a not for profit organization and she’s working with the Uplift Education schools on it. (My high school senior is AMAZING and she has the biggest heart. I hope my kids turn out JUST.LIKE.HER.)
Uplift schools are mostly in low-income areas. They are public charter schools where students are assigned by lottery drawings. They are doing AMAZING things to change the face of public education. If my boyfriend started schools, they are exactly what he would do. (After seeing the schools, I’m really disappointed he didn’t take a board position with them when offered. I hope this changes in the future.)
Every school promotes a college going culture from kindergarten. Teachers decorate their door with their alma mater. The question is not “if“, it’s “where”. FROM THE GET.GO.
My senior commented on how much pressure that would be for her – and I asked her to consider her life – was there every any other option for people? Would anyone from her school not go to college? The answer, of course, is no.
Chances are, these kids don’t know anyone who has gone to college. They would grow up believing it wasn’t for them. It would be unattainable. Uplift doesn’t allow that. They want those kids to know they WILL go to college and it’s a matter of WHERE. (One of the schools even has that in their lobby — not if, where.)
By the time we finished at the second school (we visited five), I stood in the lobby and wondered (not for the first time), “WTF am I doing with my life?”
And I meant it.
I knew when I left work on Thursday – after working late all week to take off – that there would be hell to pay on Friday (and it didn’t disappoint)…
and as I stood in the lobby of this school, I thought to myself,
Why? What am I doing with my life? Why am I fighting for things that REALLY DON’T MATTER when there are so many things that do?
And I pushed all those thoughts out of my mind and I focused on the high school senior standing in front of me and all the kids whose world she was going to change this year. I focused on what Uplift was doing and I was inspired and encouraged.
At their campuses where kids don’t speak a lot of English, a kid will hear their name at least 10 times before they walk into the classroom EVERY MORNING. They require their students to stand up, command the attention of the room, and then speak in complete sentences (even in kindergarten). They have students sign whether or not they agree or disagree with the teacher (or student) and stand up and give their piece. They are teaching kids to communicate and look people in the eye. When students passed us in the hallway, they stopped, shook our hands, introduced themselves, and told us what they were learning. The same was true when we entered the classrooms. The teachers were excited and passionate. It was AMAZING.
My senior and I had some good conversations about life and college and lessons I learned that I felt I should share. We shared lots of giggles and I figured out some of her stress. It was like hanging out with my cousin. She’s an amazing girl, and I can’t wait to see what she does with her life.
After I dropped her off, I headed to my boyfriend’s office and I was on Cloud 9. I was quickly brought back to Earth, and I’ve found I don’t have the will to fight over the stupid stuff anymore.
I want to be like my high school senior. A world-changer who doesn’t know the boundaries of what she’s capable of.