Posted in Cookies, Life Lessons

2014: The Year of Love

Happy New Year!! I know, I know I’m a few days late. I had the best of intentions but unfortunately my transmission decided it just didn’t want to accompany Little Blue (as I affectionately refer to my car) and me on the journey into 2014. So needless to say it’s been an interesting start to the year already. Between that, my New Year’s Day Dinner Date with the precious octogenarian couple who have taken up semi-permanent residence in our hospital guest house, and now a snow day, all I can say is that if the first 48 hours are any indication, I’m in for quite an adventurous year. We shall see…

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t typically make resolutions in January because mine are reserved for the start of the new school year each August. However I am known for assigning each new calendar year with a theme or quote that I hope will dictate the year ahead. It’s not something I search for…just something that seems to be timely or a thought that happens to strike when I’m not really think about it. There was the year of positivity, the year of opportunity; one year the theme was “epic”; another was dedicated to new adventures.

Well, as of 2 PM on New Year’s Eve, I had yet to stumble upon a theme. I spent New Year’s Eve day baking and cooking like crazy, filing away recipes to share, before venturing north to Philadelphia to reunite with some truly amazing people whom I don’t see nearly enough anymore. I got to ring in the new year with that lovely group of people before Little Blue (poor thing could only drive forward once my AAA friend graciously pushed us backward out of the gas station) made the precarious journey back to Baltimore just in time for my afternoon shift/dinner date at the hospital. After our pork dinner, I surprised my favorite 81-year-old duo with a special treat: homemade gluten-free, dairy-free double chocolate chip cookies. I know what you’re thinking: yeah, Katie, real special treat. But I mean it! Of all the people I’ve discussed allergies with over the past three years, these 2 just might take the prize for most curious. I swear every time I come on for another shift, they’ve got another food-related question for me. They excitedly bit into their cookies, chewed, pondered…and in a moment I could tell by their faces, I’d won them over. With his eyes wide, the husband in this dynamic duo slapped the table and exclaimed, “Hot dog! I taste the special ingredient and I bet you didn’t even know it was in there.” To which his wife responded, “What in the samhill did you do? Did you add dairy to her cookies?? I know the extension for ER transport!” He responded with a laugh and a head shake as he explained himself with a twinkle in his eye, “No, no. I didn’t add anything. She did and she didn’t even know it. I can taste what makes these cookies so delicious…it’s love. Who needs gluten when you’ve got that??”

My New Year’s Day Dinner Date with the dynamic duo…

Well, in that moment, my heart just about melted. (And I’ll admit I filed that away as the potential motto for my future bakery…please don’t steal it!) And I watched as the two of them smiled at each other and thought to myself: this might be the strangest but also the best New Year’s Day I’ve ever had…even in light of losing poor Little Blue’s reverse function. Well the two of them went to bed and eventually I did too only to wake up bright and early yesterday morning to return to work. Halfway through the morning PD session, I ran up to my classroom to call the transmission specialist and was greeted by an unexpected message. It was from one of those saints in street clothes I mentioned earlier. He has this special gift for noticing how people are feeling and sharing the perfect Scripture passage to address the situation they’re facing. Well, I clicked on his message and was met with a verse from 1Corinthians 13:2.. you can read it for yourself if you so desire but in short it’s the verse that says you can have everything in the world but without love, you really have nothing. As I reflected on this verse during the remainder of morning PD, I thought back to last Sunday’s 2ndreading (starting with Colossians 3:12)which is one of my absolute favorites. It also addressed the same topic…love. I thought back on the priest’s reflection of unconditional love shown by both Mary and Joseph in the midst of such uncertainty throughout the Nativity story. And it hit me: the theme of this year must be love.

Well sure enough, PD Day continued on and my suspicion was only solidified. First the Charismatic Mass Coordinator shared the most precious proposal video his friend had made…true love all over that one. Then I woke up this morning (to a snow day!! WOOHOO!!) and turned on the news just in time to see excerpts from Pope Francis’ mass today in Rome with his Jesuit brothers. And what did he say? That the Gospel can’t be preached with “beatings of condemnation. No, the Gospel must be preached gently…with love”. Well, there you have it folks. If ever I needed confirmation of this year’s theme, there it was from the mouth of Pope Francis himself. And he wasn’t done. He went on to talk about the formation of today’s youth. About how we can’t just form their minds but also their hearts. About how if we don’t form their hearts, we create “little monsters…and then these little monsters form the People of God”. Way to keep it real, Pope Francis. Seriously, I love this man.

In short, I have decided this is the year of love. Love in all forms. It’s only been 2.5 days but I am already amazed by the love I’ve experienced. I began 2014 surrounded in love…you know the kind of love you can only find in old friends and family. The kind that simultaneously reminds you of the person you once were, highlights just how much you’ve grown to become the person you are now, and most of all reminds you that there are people in this world who will always love you, no matter how much you grow, change, and evolve. I sat in the presence of the love of a couple that has endured the ups and downs of 55 years together. I experienced love in the hugs, smiles, and “Happy New Year” greetings of my co-workers on our first day back to the grind. I was blessed with the love of good friends who went out of their way to help push my car out of its parking spot and then drive me around now that Little Blue is away for a few days getting a transmission that is willing to take the journey through 2014 with us. Yes, love really is all around us (cue the Love Actually music now). But we just need to stop and notice it. And more importantly, we need there to be more of it.

Ringing in 2014 with some amazing ladies…

So this year, I don’t really have a resolution. At least not in the traditional sense of the word. I am committing myself to love. To noticing it, searching for it, embracing it, sharing it, and pouring it into all the recipes I create this year. So as we run full speed ahead into 2014, I offer the same challenge to you. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon all of your own resolutions…but I invite you to add to them. Let’s make 2014 the year of love. Because really if you let love be the guide in all of your choices, actions, decisions, etc., well, then 2014 is bound to be a great year, isn’t it??

I opened Pinterest this morning and this appeared. If I needed any further confirmation, this is it.

And to kick off the year, here are those delicious recipes. Just remember…who needs gluten (or dairy or soy??) when you’ve got love??

Happy New Year 🙂

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 3/4 cups almond flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3/4 cup agave syrup1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks

 Mix it all together and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes!

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