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I had such a moving experience this morning, I thought it was worth sharing:

On my way to the café this morning I walked by the same homeless man that I always see in Dinkytown. He smiles at me every morning on my way to class and usually asks if I can spare a sandwich or some change. I have always said no, because I’m in a hurry or don’t have cash, and he just smiles and tells me it’s okay and to have a great day. Today, after our usual interaction ending with me saying “I’m sorry, but good luck!” I felt guilty…I wasn’t in a hurry this morning. So I changed my mind, went into the café and bought a blueberry muffin to go. When I went outside, he was gone. I walked a block down and found him on the next corner, but when I approached him to give him the bag, he looked up at me, shook his head, and closed his eyes. I reached out to hand it to him, telling him that I picked him up some breakfast, and he started to cry. He put his hands in his pockets and wouldn’t accept it. I set the bag on the ground at his feet and told him that I’d already eaten breakfast, so I hoped he’d take it, and I turned around and walked the opposite way.

Halfway down the block I turned back and the bag and the man were gone.

It turns out, to him that muffin meant a lot more than just breakfast.

Sometimes it takes an experience like this to remember to notice people, to not make assumptions, and to take a minute of your day to do something small that will make a big difference for someone else.

Reach out to someone today!

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Valentine or no Valentine…they’re still fun to make! I spent the majority of my Saturday night making sure at least 12 people in my life would feel special tomorrow…

A good craft session with a good friend (not to mention a really delicious dinner) might just make up for my lack of “Valentine” this year. Friends > valentines, anyway.

😉

This is my grandma – one of the most remarkable women I know. Today is her 70th birthday, and although I’ve only known her for 20 of those 70 years, she has taught me at least 70 years worth of wisdom!

I love you, Grandma. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

It’s funny how a dreary day – drizzly, damp, and grey – can actually put you in the best mood. Today it is giving me a clear mind. It’s washing away all of the stress and chaos that sometimes comes with a busy day on campus. and allowing me to embrace my favorite grey sweater, largest coffee mug, and un-worn rainboots.

It’s an excuse to curl up on the couch and just relax. Sometimes I find it hard to justify when all I can think about is my mile-high stack of textbooks waiting patiently for me on my desk. But today, I don’t feel guilty. Today is a quiet day with no distractions, and a good day for relaxing, thinking, and writing.

The lesson of the day today is to make the best of things, to see the beauty in small deeds, and to find the hidden opportunities each day brings, even the grey ones.

Apples Baked with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar served on Yogurt

This morning I woke up early determined to make a special breakfast. I had decided last night that I wanted to make something seasonal, and I thought of cinnamon and apples. I also love to bake, so whenever I see recipes that combine breakfast with baking, I am temped to try them out. As I browsed through my extensive virtual recipe collection, I stopped and hovered my cursor over two different recipes: Baked Peanut Butter and Apple Oatmeal, and Baked Apples on Greek Yogurt. I finally decided on Greek yogurt over oatmeal, and pulled out my little pad of paper to make a grocery list. I made sure to add Greek Gods honey flavored yogurt, and I also tacked on some other items – steel-cut oats, canned pumpkin, dark brown sugar…you know, ingredients for all of those other baked breakfasts/desserts I still have to try out 🙂

So I got up at 7:30 this morning, recipe in hand, and got to work in the kitchen. I prepared the apple mixture in a baking pan and got it in the oven right away so I would have time to run off to the grocery store after they were done (and before my 10 am haircut appointment). The apples filled the house with a sweet, cinnamon smell and were done right on schedule, so I covered the pan in tinfoil and made a quick trip to the grocery store. I even made it back in time to photograph my finished product and sit down to eat with my family!

Everyone loved the Greek yogurt, and we topped our half-full bowls of yogurt with the hot, baked apples. Then we added a handful of granola and a drizzle of honey. It was even better than I expected – definitely a recipe to remember!

I also still have baked apples left over, so I want to find a creative use for them…or just heat them up and eat them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream like apple crisp…yummm.

I originally found this idea on Foodgawker, but I ended up modifying the recipe a bit. Here is the original and my own modified version.

 

Original recipe:

4-6 apples, peeled and cut into cubes

1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe pan. Roast apples for about 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until apples are golden brown around the edges. Serve with vanilla ice cream, oatmeal or yogurt and granola.

Total time: 60-70 minutes 
Yield: 2 cups

Source:  http://www.wishfulchef.com/2011/10/roasted-apples/

My modified recipe:

6 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into cubes

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe pan. Roast apples for about 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so until apples are golden brown around the edges. Serve with Greek yogurt and granola.

Total time: 60-70 minutes 
Yield: 2 cups

My very favorite Greek yogurt is Greek Gods Honey flavored yogurt – I like it so much that I drove  over to Kowalski’s to buy it after doing all of my other grocery shopping at Cub (Cub doesn’t carry the Greek Gods brand).

I also have a favorite granola (a new favorite, thanks to my grandma!) It is Great Harvest‘s granola that is cooked without oil. As you can see from the label, the only ingredients are rolled oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, honey, molasses, and cinnamon. They sell it in big 2 lb bags, which are very affordable (around $5.00) and last a long time.

 

I hope you all enjoyed this recipe, there will be more to come. Until next time!

The perfect oatmeal.

Cooked oats with a small handful of homemade baked granola (flax seeds, oats, cinnamon, and chopped pecans), dried cranberries, golden raisins, walnuts, a splash of unsweetened soymilk, and a drizzle of honey.

The only thing that would have made it better is steel-cut oats instead of the quick-cook kind, but unfortunately that’s all I had. Oatmeal is the perfect winter breakfast. It’s nutritious, warms you up on cold mornings, and keeps you full!

Some variations that I like are adding pumpkin spice (or even canned pumpkin if you’re baking your oatmeal) and baked apples. I’m going to give a new recipe a try tomorrow morning so stay tuned 🙂

I’m getting excited to move into my new apartment!

(from left) Jessi, Jenna, Steph, me, and Anne.

I will be living with Jessi, Jenna, and Steph, because Anne is going abroad to France. It worked out perfectly because we were able to switch places (she lived there while I was abroad in Venezuela). The apartment is adorable and is right in the heart of Dinky Town. I’ve never lived in Dinky Town before, but I think I’m going to love it. Not to mention that all of my classes are huddled closer to University this semester and my job is only a few blocks from my new apartment. Anyways, I’m hoping to start moving my things in right after Christmas and add my touch to my new home! I can’t wait to live with these girls, they are all so much fun. It looks like I have a promising semester ahead, and a whole month and a half left of break to enjoy before that! Life is looking good.

I had girl’s night at Aurora’s apartment last night, which is decked out in Christmas decorations, and now I am sitting on her couch with a cup of coffee because I slept over last night. We are off to Target (my second trip since being home…) and then I have more friends to see and catch up with: today I am going to see Gretchen’s house. That’s all for now…more updates on my Christmas break adventures to come.

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