Monthly Archives: June 2012

It’s all coming together

Yesterday, I received my host family placement and a boatload of schedules and information regarding my first few weeks in Chile. Ohhhhh jeez. Now it’s starting to get real. I’ve got names (and faces- my friend was this host family’s first international child, and she’s got pictures), addresses, dates, and even times. It’s happening.

So that’s the study abroad update for the day! Let’s talk dessert.

I bought peaches and raspberries like six days ago with the intention of making this peach and raspberry crumble from- you guessed it- Joy the Baker. But then we didn’t have vanilla ice cream, which you must have to serve with any form of crumble or crisp. And then I got sick. Finally, we got the ice cream and I felt well enough to mix this up.

No lies: this is an easy dessert. These summer fruits are in season all over the place, which means you can probably get them on sale at your grocery store. Even better: if they’re in season in your region, go buy them off a stand on the side of the road or at a farmers’ market. Support local businesses and be green!

Off my soapbox. Back  to dessert!

Wash and slice some peaches.

Pretty, juicy, and sweet.

Rinse some raspberries.

Pink! So pink!

Mix up butter, old fashioned oats (not quick oats!), sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and a pinch of salt until it forms a coarse crumble topping. Do this with your hands. Yes, your hands. Get in there and get dirty!

Sandy and soft.

Get your fruit in the pan.

Are those colors not incredible?

P.S. Yes, I was shooting at night in my kitchen. That’s why the lighting is so horrible.

Mix part of the crumble topping in with the fruit. Redistribute the fruit evenly in the pan, and put the rest of the topping in there.

Voila!

Juicy, sweet, tart fruit. Golden, crunchy, sugary, buttery topping.

Wait for it…

BAM!

Really, you do have to serve it warm with vanilla ice cream. The creaminess just goes so well with the warmth and the tartness of the crumble.

Let’s just get a look at the beautiful colors in the crumble:

Scrumptious. Colorful AND scrumptious.

Fruit-based desserts are where it’s at for summer, guys. I’m telling ya. The 4th of July is coming up! I strongly suggest you get on this bandwagon for all those raucous patriotic parties you’ll be attending.

Random thoughts:

If you have crazy hair, don’t dye it. If you have blonde hair, don’t dye it. If you have both- like me- don’t EVER EVER EVER dye your hair. I now know what people pay to go blonde. Curly blonde girls, we have been created so that we wouldn’t have to pay for such craziness. I did yesterday, because I dyed my hair dark. Never. Again.

Get up in the morning and do the crap you have to get done. Just do it!

With love,

Gaby

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Can’t waste the day wishing it’d slow down

That’s a lyric from this song, one of my favorites by Sara Bareilles.

That was kind of what was going through my head as I visited with a friend yesterday. She is also going to Chile next semester, albeit at a different school, but we both leave around the same time. Which means that we’re both facing down this big trip that looms in the very near future.

It was really nice to talk with her about getting ready to leave and saying goodbye. It seemed like we both had this feeling that the time we got at home this summer was too short, or that we’re only just now appreciating the time we have (had?), when of course there’s so little of it left.

We also talked about how little time we might have left in the homes we grew up in. She plans on staying around school next summer, and I am not limiting my employment or internship options next summer to my hometown. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? That we’re actually getting old enough where we are facing the fact that eventually, we must leave home. It’s made even scarier by the fact that we’re both reflective people, and we recognize that we’re entering this time in our lives, a time that is almost entirely transitional and not settled at all.

Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. After all, I’ve still got a year and a half left on campus once I return from Chile. But still. Next summer might involve (gulp) scoping out employment options for after graduation. I might have to prep to take the LSAT and the GRE. I feel like I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I need to start thinking long-term. Not like ten or even five years long-term, but maybe like two or three years. And that’s longer than I’ve ever really thought in my life.

Has anyone else ever dealt with that? Or am I just that cerebral?

Let’s eat something. A conversation like that merits dessert.

Except this friend and I couldn’t decide what to bake. As the evening wore on, we became less and less enthused by the prospect of making a mess and waiting for something to bake and then cool. We also just wanted something fresh, not heavy or rich.

When that happens, go buy some heavy whipping cream and get out the fruit you have on hand- specifically, summer fruits like berries and peaches.

Whip up the cream with some sugar. Wash and slice the fruit. Dip. Enjoy.

Strawberry picture #213988230898

Easy peasy. Minus the peas.

The only way it could have been fresher would be if I had picked the fruit and milked the cow myself.

Random thoughts:

I am not a cat person. My immediate family does not have any pets, but we do have cats in our extended family. I do not like them. I have found them to be hostile, and I reciprocate the hostility. Unfortunately, this has extended to all cats in any home. Except for last night. My friend’s family has a cat, and yesterday, I let the hostility go. And then the cat curled up on a chair and fell asleep and I got the warm fuzzies and took this picture:

Fuzzy cuddle ball! (said in the voice I reserve for babies and dogs)

The printer and the scanner are two remarkable inventions.

Tea is magical.

That moment when you realize you’re coming out on the other side of a cold is awesome.

Okay. Maybe I’ll have a real, I-followed-a-recipe-and-used-an-oven dessert for you next time.

With love,

Gaby

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Pensamientos

Yes, the title is in Spanish. Because I am leaving for Chile in just two weeks now. TWO WEEKS.

Now all the stuff I’ve been putting off is catching up with me. Shopping, in particular. Most of my paperwork and travel documents are completed, so no worries there. But I really need to be mostly shopped and packed by the end of next week since I have family coming into town to visit me before I leave. And I also need to say goodbye to most people before then.

I’m trying to take the a-little-at-a-time approach. Buy a few things here, pack a few things there. But I can tell that these next few days are going to be really busy.

Ohhhhh jeez.

This past week, I volunteered at a summer lunch program coordinated between my parish’s St. Vincent dePaul chapter and the county Parks and Rec department. The particular population we served happened to be majority Latino, with a high percentage of native Spanish speakers, including a few who really didn’t know much English. Truth be told, though, I only spoke Spanish on a few occasions, and only had one real exchange with someone. But it turns out that this was enough!

One thing that I’ve learned after serving majority Latino communities a few times is that you should not underestimate their comfortability with English- especially in the kids. Chances are, the kids go to school here, and they’re in English-speaking classrooms. They certainly know enough English to communicate with you. I’ve found that it’s the very youngest children and older adults who may be comfortable communicating in Spanish. So if Spanish is your second language and you think you may encounter native Spanish speakers in a volunteer setting, gauge the situation before you whip out your Spanish.

During the meal program, I’d make little comments in Spanish, trying to get the littlest kids to talk, or commenting on how pretty a little baby was to her mom. I did this mostly to let people know (without loudly proclaiming YO HABLO ESPAÑOL) that I could speak Spanish if they needed it.

Someone did indeed pick up that I could speak Spanish, and on the last day she approached me about taking an extra lunch home for her daughter. This was a little difficult, since we were trying to conserve what food we had so everyone got fed and so we didn’t face a shortage like we nearly had the rest of the week. I am glad, however, that she came right to me instead of struggling through a conversation with my English-only fellow volunteers. She explained her situation to me, and since we hadn’t had lots of people asking for extra meals that day, I arranged to get another lunch for her.

Before she left, she came by to say, “Thank you, amiga.” I can’t tell you how much that means to me. First, because it felt like I actually accomplished something- which, as I’m learning with service, can be a rare feeling- and second, because I successfully understood a native speaker, and she could understand my Spanish too! Granted, knowing the demographics of this area, she was probably Mexican, not Chilean, and Mexican Spanish is an entirely different (and really, more understandable) brand of Spanish from Chilean Spanish. But still! I haven’t lost it since Spanish class last fall! I can talk! I can help!

I owe you all a snack.

For dinner, we made Chilean empanadas. My youngest brother did a project on Chile for his social studies class this year. My dad made empanadas for the presentation day. You can find empanadas all over Latin America, and variations of empanadas all over the world- think of the Cornish (or Upper Michigan) pasty, or the Italian calzone. The thing that distinguishes Chilean empanadas from others, I think, is the filling. In these empanadas, ground beef is cooked up with garlic, green bell peppers, spices, and- probably the unique part- chopped raisins, olives, and eggs. Then you stuff that into a dough, seal it up, brush on an egg wash, and bake!

All right, that may not be the preparation of the empanadas I’ll find myself enjoying on the street in just a few weeks (!!!). But I’ve heard that these were pretty darn close.

Like 10 times better than a Hot Pocket.

Flaky, crunchy, tasty.

Bubbly. Golden. Sizzling right out of the oven.

And the inside:

Mmhmm.

So. Good. We’ve got extra dough, so hopefully we can make some for the family when they come to visit.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend! I plan on having some dessert to show you next time…

With love,

Gaby

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A letter to college freshmen

Dear freshmen,

Congratulations! You graduated high school. Don’t you feel good?

Hopefully, you are unbelievably excited (albeit a little scared) of what you’re about to experience in a couple of months. You are about to begin what may be the fastest four years of your life. Your first year, particularly your first semester, can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. That’s why I have put together this post, to give you a little guidance from someone who’s been there.

You’re going to change- a lot. So will all the friends you knew in high school. Many of your paths will diverge. Some of you will go to schools close to home and stay there for the rest of your lives. Some will go far away and never come back. Some will go to state schools. Some will go to private schools. All of this will change you. And you may come to realize that you are on an entirely different trajectory than the people you grew up with, people you loved. That is all perfectly okay. You will need to learn how to let people change and even drift away. Believe it or not, friendship does not always last forever. And that is perfectly okay.

The above also goes for the friends you make first semester. Things can shift after winter break. Just let it happen; the people who should be in your life will stay there. I promise.

Don’t worry about being homesick. Don’t be surprised by it. I went to school just three hours from home and was terribly homesick most of first semester. Again, let it happen. Fighting it will make it worse. Get help if you need to. Your classmates are going through the same thing, so be vulnerable and open up. You are not alone.

Get yourself off the freaking Facebook. This is a lesson I still haven’t learned. Unless you’re researching social media for a paper, there probably is no legitimate reason for you to be on it more than a couple times a day. Log out and do your homework or get some sleep.

Exercise. Sweat. Breathe hard. 20 to 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Make time for it. Chances are, you spend at least 20 to 30 minutes a day on Facebook/Twitter/etc. Cut it down, and you’ve got the time. This isn’t just so you can gloat to yourself while everyone else you know puts on the Freshman Fifteen (not a myth, kids). It will help you sleep better, reduce your stress, and if you insist upon having it in your schedule, it will force you to get your work done. Make it a part of your day.

And eat well. Lay off the pizza and take-out. I hope that your dining hall has more tolerable options than burgers and fries. Try new things. Eat a vegetable with every meal, even if it’s just carrots and broccoli. Drink skim milk or water instead of soda. But don’t get crazy about this. If you need a treat to help fix a bad day or to reward yourself once in a while, have it. It won’t kill you.

Step away from the Starbucks. Those fancy drinks are caloric bombs and way overpriced. If you need one once in a while, again, go ahead. But a grande caramel frappuccino is not your morning coffee.

Another easy way to put on the Freshman Fifteen? Alcohol. If you choose to drink, moderation is the word. Sometimes freshmen put on fifteen pounds just in alcohol! It’s also expensive. Save your money and your liver.

And speaking of alcohol, I beg you: NEVER EVER EVER go to a party alone, leave a party alone, or let your friends leave alone or with a stranger. This especially goes for girls! Keep an eye out for your friends. You know you’d want them to do the same for you.

Don’t let all this talk of alcohol scare you off from parties, though. Get out and meet people! Dance. Be yourself. Have some fun. You’ll have earned it.

Speaking of meeting people: try an extracurricular, even first semester. It will help you meet people outside of your dorm, teach you time management skills, and distract you from homesickness. Don’t overexert yourself, but don’t be afraid of being a little busy.

You don’t need to be best friends with your roommate. You must, however, get along. Respect each other’s needs. Speak up if you have a problem. Listen to each other. If you have really serious problems (as in, she locks you out so she can hook up all the time, or he has a habit of sharpening knives and staring at you while he’s doing it), go talk to your RA as soon as you need to.

Don’t bring too much stuff with you. Let me show you a picture of my room freshman year:

That loft on the left? Was the entire extent of my private space for the whole year.

We had to fit three people into a room meant for two people. Long story short: you do not need thirteen coats and fifty pairs of shoes. Think utility over fashion. Bring only what you’ll really need and wear, and enough of it to last you a week or so before you have to do laundry.

Keep track of your money. Balance your checkbook, or if you don’t have a checkbook, start an Excel spreadsheet of your withdrawals and purchases. Trust me. You will appreciate this later. If you can, get a job, but a job that you enjoy.

Do something good for your soul. If you go to church or are part of a youth group at home, find services and similar groups on campus or nearby. I strongly encourage this to help keep you anchored when things get rough: God does not leave you or change the way everyone else will. I say this as a Catholic attending a very Catholic school with a large population of practicing Catholics, with Masses available every day, multiple times a day, at numerous locations on campus. So I know it was almost too easy for me to stay in touch spiritually. But I’ve had other friends at secular schools who sought out their weekly services and religious peers, and they say it made a big difference.

If you’re not religious, that’s totally fine! Explore things. Just do something that keeps you in touch with yourself and whatever you feel connected to already. Journal, meditate, take a walk by yourself in a pretty part of campus. Like I said, take time for your soul, for your spirit.

The most important thing I can tell you is to give everything time. It all takes time. It may seem like everyone else is making lifelong friends faster than you are, or coupling up before you are, or that they’ve got their life plan figured out down to the day, but trust me- they don’t. They might think that they do, but they don’t. You can’t plan this stuff. It doesn’t all come together right away, or even after your first year, or your second year. The best thing you can do is to accept the change and let it happen.

Try new things. Be good to people. Ask lots of questions- of your professors, of your friends, and of yourself. Reach high. Set yourself apart from your high school classmates- you know which ones I’m talking about. Do what you know is right for yourself. Don’t compromise who you are. That way, you won’t have any regrets.

With love,

Gaby

P.S. If anyone has any advice to add or dispute what I’ve said here, comments (as always) are welcome!

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The calm before the storm

What storm, you ask?

The homesickness. As I stare down my upcoming semester abroad in Chile, I can see it coming. That raw, aching need to be home with your family and friends, having a normal summer and going back to school like everybody else. Those moments when I’ll be reduced to tears in wildly inappropriate situations.

And I will cry. Ask anyone who knows me. I’m a crier. A HUGE crier. I can’t hold back tears to save my life. And I also really fail at the whole “I’ve got something in my contact” trick. Because no human would take as long as I do to recover from a speck of dust in her eye.

(Although I did get a piece of char from a beef kabob stuck in my eye last night. That was a tricky one. But I digress.)

I truly envy the people who can have a decent cry and still look put-together when they’re finished. After a good, solid cry- the kind I can see coming with the homesickness- my eyes puff up like someone just punched me in the face, minus the bruising. If I go to sleep after, the swelling will be there in the morning. So there will be no hiding what I’m going through.

I’ve been through homesickness before. It hit me like a freaking ton of bricks my freshman year of college. Like an earthquake in Wisconsin. By that, I mean I wasn’t expecting it at all. Certainly I knew I’d miss my family and friends a little. I honestly thought, however, that since I wasn’t going that far away to school, and I knew I’d be with a lot of people like me, that it wouldn’t be too bad.

Holy lord, was I wrong. And it didn’t matter that I was making lots of friends. It didn’t matter that I was getting along in my classes (with the exception of Calculus II for Engineers- that probably made it worse). It didn’t matter that I kept going to Mass, nor that I received notes from home multiple times a week, nor that I was exercising and eating well. None of it seemed to help.

While I managed to keep my head above water to the outside world (as far as I can tell, few people knew how hard it was), inside I was pretty well wrecked. To the point that I began skipping heartbeats, having panic attacks, and going through a pleasant spell of insomnia. It got so bad that I made two trips to the health center in a week, once in the middle of the night with a friend, and another resulting in an EKG and a blood test. Note: hypochondria and the physical manifestations of homesickness aren’t a good combination.

Thank goodness for the doctor who saw me on the second appointment, who gave me the tests just to be safe, but also recognized that I was just so homesick I was making my body sick. Without making me feel stupid, but also without coddling me too much, the doctor told me that it was just first semester freshman year. I was just really, really homesick. And nothing was wrong with that.

So, here I am again, facing another huge life change. This time, at least, I see the tornado of homesickness in the distance. Tornadoes aren’t totally unexpected in Wisconsin. In fact, tornado preparation is taught in elementary school. Cheeseheads know how to deal with tornadoes. At least this time I know it’s coming.

I’ve begun to plan how I will handle it this time. I know there will be new challenges, like a new language and culture, but I think I’ll be better at seeing the signs. My coping mechanisms include exercise, since it helps me get things off my mind for a little while; reading, because that’s also a good way to get out of my head for a bit; lots and lots of email; keeping busy, since freshman year, I basically did jack squat outside of schoolwork; and by just letting it happen.

I have to let it happen. I think half of the reason why my homesickness was so darn rough was because I was shocked by it. I was fighting it, and feeling bad that I even felt so bad. I had trouble remembering that most of the other freshmen were homesick too. This time around, I hope I’ll be able to be more patient with myself and accept that homesickness is just part of the process.

Have any of you studied abroad or had a big life change that gave you some homesickness? Do you have any recommendations for me? I’d love to take any suggestions you have!

It was nice to get that out. Thanks for listening, guys.

With love,

Gaby

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I need a salad.

I’ve had an eat weekend.

An “eat” day, week, or weekend is a term I think I first heard from Joy the Baker and Shutterbean on the Joy the Baker podcast. Basically, it’s a period of time in which you eat everything in sight, more or less. Most of that food is also what one would call indulgent.

It began Friday night, when I ate chips and salsa and frozen pizza and made scones with a friend of mine. Saturday included a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich for lunch, followed by a lavish dinner out with the family. When I say lavish, I mean multiple appetizers, bread, cream-based soup, scallops wrapped in bacon, pasta in beurre blanc (aka butter sauce), and three kinds of sorbet for dessert.

Question: who decided that an entree featuring bacon needed pasta topped in butter sauce as a side? Also: what human eats the appetizers AND the bread basket? This human, I suppose.

So Sunday morning rolls around, and I’m still a little full from last night, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve got my mind set on baking biscuits.

Biscuits are a standard item that I strongly suggest all of you include in your repertoire. They are seriously so easy and quick. Biscuits belong with every meal: with jam, butter, or honey for breakfast; as a sandwich for lunch; and with stews and soups for dinner. I got my recipe out of the Betty Crocker cookbook and used the buttermilk variation on the baking powder biscuits.

Why buttermilk, and what should you do if you don’t have it? Read here.

Look familiar?

It looks a lot like scone dough, doesn’t it? They’re almost the same thing. It’s important not to over mix biscuit dough so that you don’t get rid of the air sitting around inside of it. Baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk are reacting to create some really great, fluffy texture. When I cut this dough into rounds, I could hear a squishy, deflating sound. That is a good sound.

Little pillows of heaven.

See how they’re already a little puffed up? That’s a good sign.

Glory.

Let me illustrate this airy, flaky thing for you:

Nailed it.

Just one more picture in case you haven’t been convinced to make these yet:

Breakfast? I think yes.

So, with two of those slathered in butter and honey sitting in my stomach, we went off to church. And then we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch. It was buffet style- of course. I managed to get in a plate chock full of rice, naan, and curries before my stomach said, “Please stop.” And then I snuck in a mango lassi, mango ice cream, and a gulab jamun. And THEN my stomach finally said, “Please stop NOW.”

Naturally, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to shake myself out of a food coma and make a strawberry pie.

Yeah, I made a pie. I made this pie, from Brown Eyed Baker. Someone remind me to follow this blog more often. This is the second pie I’ve made from her site, and I’ve had bonkers success both times. Coincidentally, both pies are adaptations of Cook’s Illustrated recipes. Cook’s Illustrated is an excellent resource. They test and re-test their recipes until they get things exactly right. It may seem like more work, but trust me, it’s reliable and worth the effort to follow their methods.

I did the crust from scratch. Hate me if you want, but you should get on this bandwagon too. From-scratch crust is not as hard as you think it is, and the results really do blow storebought crust out of the water.

Went in there without a hitch.

Just so you know: pie crusts often require chilling in between steps. Unless you have all day to work on a pie, I’d suggest you make the disk and chill it overnight, and finish it off when you’re ready to bake a day or two later. I had to chill this crust three times: once as a disk to firm it up; then in the plate like above; and then after I fluted it, like below.

Just trying to make it look pretty.

This pie crust really shrunk after baking, but don’t worry, it’s going to do that anyways.

Flaky and buttery.

But this pie is really all about the strawberries.

This is about the twentieth photo I’ve taken of strawberries recently.

The recipe calls for three whole pounds of strawberries. No skimping here, kids. It really takes three pounds. Get them at a good price at a farmers’ market, or hit up the store when there’s a sale.

There are two parts to the filling: glaze and raw strawberries. Puree the strawberries by themselves in a food processor:

I was half-tempted to add a banana and some ice and call it a smoothie.

Then, cook these at a full boil with cornstarch, low-sugar recipe Sure-Jell, sugar, and salt. Cornstarch and Sure-Jell are thickeners. They will help hold the filling together so it doesn’t completely fall out of the pie. Stir that mixture constantly: don’t leave it unattended, or it will scorch and stick to the pan.

Let this mixture cool, and then toss in the remaining two pounds of strawberries until they are evenly coated. Dump into the cooled pie crust, make it look pretty, and let it chill in the fridge until it’s set a little bit- at least a couple of hours, but not overnight.

Disclaimer: I hated the lighting in my kitchen for these photos.

And another shot:

Glossy. And tall.

I suggest you serve this with a little whipped cream. I do not recommend ice cream, because the point is to let the strawberries shine. Is the pie time-consuming? Yes. It really is. But this is a winner for the way it highlights the fruit as simply but as stunningly as possible.

Every positive dessert-related adjective belongs here.

I stuck that landing.

It will probably be a few days until you see more food on this blog. Can you blame me? I’ve got plenty of other things to talk about, though. So please stay tuned!

Comment and say hi, friends!

With love,

Gaby

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One step closer…

I am now officially in possession of a Chilean visa.

It’s in there. Right on the first visa page of my passport book. There’s this piece of paper with my face and a bunch of information, stamps, and signatures on it that basically tell the Chilean government that I pose no foreseeable danger to their country.

Getting all the paperwork together took more time than it took me to get to Chicago, sign a few copies, give some fingerprints, and get back home. That’s all it was. The consulate is in a small office within a very non-descript building with just a few friendly staff. Traffic was nearly nonexistent so I arrived nearly forty-five minutes early for my appointment, and I got out of there about twenty minutes later. Nothing to it.

You know what this means, though, right?

This is actually happening. I’m going to be living, studying, and running around a foreign country for half the year. Very, very soon.

Commence panic. But that’s for another post. Right now, I have scones!

Pretty things.

I made dark chocolate orange buttermilk scones, from the one and only Joy the Baker. Obviously, not all of the ingredients are included in the picture above. I have the dark chocolate and the orange because they are the highlight of this recipe. And the flour and sugar canisters because they’re flour and sugar canisters! My friend’s kitchen had the prettiest, most useful stuff and the BEST lighting. She’s recently gotten into baking, and I’m begging her to photograph it all since her kitchen table could host the most beautiful pictures.

Joy’s directions are pretty straightforward. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add cold butter. It must be cold or it won’t form a “coarse meal” like it should. What does “coarse meal” look like?

Like this!

I highly recommend that you follow Joy’s lead and mix the butter and dry ingredients together with your fingers. Butter kept getting caught in the pastry cutter, and I wasn’t getting results. This came together pretty quickly, and I love using my hands.

Second photo of zesty dough this week.

Apparently zest is my thing lately. See the little pieces in there? This dough comes together very quickly and easily. It’s okay if it’s a little wet. It will dry up in just a minute.

Dump, knead, and roll.

Well that caption failed. Anyways, kneading the dough very briefly on a well-floured board will dry that dough right up. Don’t freak out if it sticks to the board. Just add more flour.

Roll it out, slice it up, and stick in the oven. And we’re done!

Dense goodness.

Nope, I’m not using parchment paper. Funny, because Joy posted about using parchment paper recently. I’m still not biting.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate how scone-looking they baked up. Good.

I love it when I nail the texture of a baked good. And my friend and I totally did it here.

Dump extra stuff on top of these. Sometimes I find chocolate and orange a little overwhelming together, so it helps me to add other flavors. Like butter and fresh strawberry jam, for instance!

Feeling full just looking at this again.

Pretty pretty, right? This went off without a hitch. I don’t know what I’d do differently. I would definitely like to make more scones if they’re all as easy as this recipe. Also: I need to make biscuits. They smelled like biscuits when they came out of the oven. And that smell drives me absolutely insane in the best way.

Dear future husband: if you smell like biscuits, you win.

Um, what?

Aaaaand moving on to random thoughts!

Little kid laughter and smiles are the best.

Think positively, people. Bring good energy into a room. YOU be the light.

I managed to fold two fitted sheets into a shape very closely resembling a square. I’m proud of myself.

It’s the little things.

Normal is relative.

You will find signs and moments that tell you that yes, you are where you should be, and dang girl, you’ve got it good.

Here’s my plan for the next few posts:

Father’s Day baking. A trip to the farmers’ market. A story about sports bar trivia that reveals a lot about the kind of person I am. Reflections on homesickness.

Sound good?

Be good to the father figures in your life, be they your actual fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, godfathers- anybody who’s a dad to you. I hope you have all been blessed with a dad and others as amazing as those in my own life.

With love,

Gaby

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