Life Lessons 21-25…and then some

For those of you who know me, you probably know that my birthday has come and gone over a few weeks ago! Although I had intended to finish my 25 life lessons before my birthday, my life was a little hectic in the week leading up to it (I was at a national conference during the few days leading up to my birthday and was busy at the conference).

In addition, I had a lot of difficulty finalizing those last five lessons. What did I want to say? What were the most important lessons that I learned in the first quarter of my life that I really thought were worth sharing?

There’s so many things that I could say or wanted to say that it was hard to narrow it down to only five. So, I didn’t…and I tried to figure out what were the most important things to know. Of the lessons I had in mind, what were the lessons that I would want my (future) kids to know? When I do have children, what will I teach them? What are some of the first things that I will teach them? Well, there are a lot of things we can and should teach our kids, but below are some of the lessons I learned that I know I will most definitely pass onto my future offspring.

Life Lesson #21: Be there. Each year, the catholic schools in my diocese have a baccalaureate mass the night before commencement. In the past few years, the diocese’s relatively new bishop presides over the mass. In one of his homilies in recent years, he talked about the importance of being there for others. He challenged the seniors and the congregation to live a life in which they would be there for others at all times.

Be there for your friends and family to help them celebrate when things go well in their lives, but also be there for them when the going gets tough. Hold out a hand to a person who is need, and be willing to offer a warm embrace when all someone needs is a hug.

I’d like to expound upon the part about being there others in things aren’t going so great. It’s easy to be there for others when things are going well and you can join in the celebrations. However, we must also be there for others when things aren’t so pleasant. When a friend is upset and questioning a life decision, or when they’re depressed about something going on in their life, we must also be there for them in those times of need for those are the times when they probably need us most. Anyone can be there for the good times; everyone wants to take part in a celebration. However, the real challenge is to be there in these difficult times.

Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of being there for others especially in these difficult times. I cannot tell you how many times I went to calling hours as a child before I fully comprehended the finality of death. I know that some people would disagree with children going to calling hours at a young age, but in retrospect, I think having those experiences taught me a lot. They taught me what it meant to be there for others when they needed it most. They made it a lot easier to deal with these situations as an adult. Had I not had these experiences, it would have been a lot more challenging for me to handle these challenges.

I’d also like to think that when we find ourselves in difficult situations, we’d want someone to be there for us, so why shouldn’t we be there for others during these times?

 

Life Lesson #22: DO something that scares you.

This is a tough one and it’s a lesson that I’m still coming to terms with. I think the lesson here is not to let fear rule your life. It’s easy to have fears and to let these thoughts or worries impact your decisions. However, you can’t live in a bubble. If you avoided everything that scared you and made decisions based solely on things that didn’t scare you, I’d venture to say that you’d probably miss out on a whole lot. This can apply to anything – whether it’s entering a relationship rather than avoiding one for fear of getting hurt, or going on a crazy adventure rather than staying inside because you’re afraid of the number of things that can go wrong. As many of you know, I’ll be applying for graduate school in the fall. I think I’m beginning to have a better sense of what I want to study which is awesome. However, with this new found understanding has come a realization that many of the schools that have what I want are all around the country from out west to the deep south. The thought of spending 4 years there and being away from my family and friends terrifies me. It’s such a scary thought and it makes me really nervous to think about the possibility of moving to one of these places. However, I know that applying to these places is the best thing I can do for my future. I’d like to think that if I applied and got into one of these schools that I’d have a better chance of being able to eventually make my way back to Ohio in a relatively short period of time. I guess you’d say that I’m following one of my previous life lessons in thinking about the future.

Life Lesson #23: Accept that not everyone will like you.

As a kid, we want everyone to like us. We want to be friends with everyone we meet (or at the very least, we want to be invited to all of our classmates’ birthday parties) and if someone tells us they feel otherwise, our feelings are immediately crushed.

I’m telling you now that it’s OK. Someone may not like you and you may have no idea why. Or, it might be because you ticked them off and you were aware of that crucial moment that changed everything. Or, it could be because of the way you look at them, or the way you talk, or the way you dress, or a million other things. It truly could be anything and there’s no true way of knowing the cause.

Don’t fret and don’t waste time or energy on these people (Side lesson: also realize that you can’t please everyone, so don’t worry about making everyone happy. It truly is impossible).

Life Lesson #24: Be someone that you would want your kid to admire.

As some point in our lives, we’ve all looked up to someone. We’ve found a role model who has led us in the right direction and have used them as a guide for how to act in certain situations. Perhaps we have multiple role models who have inspired or challenged us to be better and do better – it’s possible that this person has challenged us to do something we otherwise would have never considered. Be this type of person for someone else.

I want to inspire people i want someone to look at me and say, "because of you i didn't give up" - just girly things

Life Lesson #25: Don’t compare yourself to others.

This one is challenging and it may be something that you struggle with for a long time. Don’t compare yourself with others. Someone will always be smarter, faster, prettier…and the list continues.

There is always going to be someone who has an edge over you in some way, shape, or form. But it doesn’t matter. Believe that you are good at what you do and fully capable of facing any challenge that comes your way.

Life Lesson #26: Always, always, always believe in yourself. 

This one is simple.

Believe in yourself. Always.

Ignore your negative self-talk. Rid yourself of people who put you down. And just believe.

nina dobrev, quotes, sayings, believe yourself, quote

Bonus Lesson: Don’t think too hard and overanalyze everything. Just live your life 😉

Love, happiness, marriage…AKA…Am I really that old?!

I admit it.

I’m a romantic at heart.

I love love.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of what my perfect wedding would look like.

I imagined the dress (strapless, or with cap sleeves; ball gown; veil; white), the shoes (low heels, same color as my dress or matching the bridesmaid dresses), the bridal party (a compilation of family and friends from different parts of my fiance and I’s lives). I could see my parents walking me down the aisle. I could hear a close friend or family member performing the readings on the altar (with this being one of them).

And, I could even taste the plethora of cookies that would undoubtedly be making a statement at the reception. Mmm.

But not just yet…right? I mean, I’m only 23. I’m a little too young for that. I have enough trouble keeping track of myself, how could I be expected to keep track of someone else?!

And yet, within the past few months, a lot of people I’ve known have gotten engaged. In fact, two of my close friends are in the process of planning each of their weddings!

It’s a wonderful time. A happy time. And a…

FRIGHTENING TIME!

Despite all the excitement over a friend’s engagement, it quickly brings up thoughts about my own relationship status.

Me? Single (and searching).

My initial thought on hearing of someone’s engagement is something along the lines of, “YAY!!!! I’m SO excited and happy for you!” While my internal thought process goes something like this, “Seriously, another one?!? Are we really that old? Is that what I should be doing now? I guess I’m just going to become a cat lady for the rest of my life!”

It’s amazing to think how things related to marriage have changed over the years. For example, in 1980 the median age of men at first marriage was 24.7 and the median age of women was 22.0. In 2010, the median age of men increased to 28.7 and for women it was 26.7. (Good news-I’m only 23, so I still have some time!)

The point is, when I see my friends getting engaged, it scares me. I think about how I’m only 23 and still have to finish my master’s degree. And then I remember, I’m probably going to spend another 4-6 years obtaining my PhD. Which means I’ll be pushing 30 by the time I finish school (eek!) and get a job. Then hopefully (assuming someone will put up with my shenanigans) I will get married and start having kids (immediately…before I’m 40)!

Has anyone else ever had this feeling? Maybe not about the marriage thing, but just about getting older? Where you or your peers begin to do things that you think should be done by someone older? The thought I have is, “Wow. We’ve reached the age where this is what happens and is the expectation.”

When I was younger (i.e., high school and younger), I used to think that people in their 20s were mature and would be ready to take on grownup experiences (take that as you will). Now that I am that age, I think about how wrong I was. Although many of my peers may be ready for these things, I’m not…or am I? I don’t feel old…but does doing any of these things mean I have to be old? I only feel 23 (whatever that means).

It’s like all of a sudden, it hits you.

You. Are. A. Grown-Up.

You are ready to open the doors to so many opportunities that you never had access to before. You may not have the opportunity just yet, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not ready.

So, what’s the point of this ramble? Well, here’s one:

And, holy cow! I better get a move on =)

Just kidding. In reality, know that you can do your own thing. Weddings bring weddings, but they have to be for the right reason. There is no rush. There is no hurry.

…(but if you happen to know someone, feel free to send him my way 😉

Cookie Table Project: Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies

Note: This is part one of a double post (the posts, though, are unrelated and do not have to be read in order).

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In my last post, I gave you a little history lesson on the cookie table and previewed the first cookie I was going to try in my little “cookie experiment” in the months leading up to my cousin’s wedding.

The first cookie I  tried was: Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies. I found the recipe through Pinterest, but the original recipe can be found on the TidyMom.net blog.

Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lemon Cake Mix (approximately 18 oz)
  • 8oz. Cool Whip (thawed)
  • 1 egg*
  • Powdered Sugar

Baking Tools:

  • Parchment Paper
  • Stand or Hand Mixer
  • Cookie Sheet(s)

Parchment paper is essential for making this recipe. Plus, it makes cleaning up a breeze!

 

Directions:

  1. If your Cool Whip is frozen, make sure to thaw it completely before starting.
  2. In a bowl, combine the cake mix,  Cool Whip, and egg.
  3. Beat the mixture well, for 1-2 minutes, until all ingredients are fully incorporated into one another. The dough will be slightly sticky and look a little like taffy.
  4. Place approximately 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl (to roll the cookies in before placing them on the baking sheet.)
  5. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. IMPORTANT: Do NOT use wax paper. Wax paper should not be used to bake with and is not an alternative for parchment paper.
  6. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into the powdered sugar, completely coating the dough ball before placing it on the cookie sheet. 
  7. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

    These are what the cookies look like when about 2/3 of the way done. They will still be soft when you take them out, but leaving them sit for a minute or so will make them firm.

  8. Cookies will be soft when first removed from oven.
  9. Cool cookies on a rack.
  10. Eat!

 

Tips:

  • *A commenter on the TidyMom.net blog suggested using 2 eggs for a fluffier cookie. I might try this next time. My cookies were a little flat, but not so flat that they were a failure.
  • Thaw your Cool Whip but keep it cold. The colder the Cool Whip is, the easier the dough is to handle. I definitely noticed that as the dough got warmer, the cookies didn’t come out as nice.
  • Watch out for the powdered sugar! Coating the dough leaves a lot of powdered sugar on the baked cookies and if you inhale the wrong way, you’re left with a powdered sugar-induced coughing fit. Haha!

 

The Verdict:

These cookies were amazing. Plain and simple. They were light and slightly chewy. Just lemony enough without being overpowering and not overly sweet. I will definitely make them again and hope to make them for my cousin’s wedding. The only downside to them is that I don’t think they are the kind of cookie that will freeze well, so I’d have to make them close to the event.

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Tackling the Cookie Table: Why Pinterest Has Made A Wedding Tradition Easier

It’s hard to believe that it’s the end of February. It seems like 2012 just started and now we’re already 2 months in. Crazy. I have a lot of things to accomplish in the next 2 months including: decide what the heck I’m doing with my life, finish my thesis, take comprehensive exams, and find something awesome to wear to 2 different weddings (one for the sister of a fellow Dame and one for my cousin).

But a smashing outfit is not the only thing I have to worry about when it comes to weddings, my cousin’s in particular. No, I have time to worry about a dress and shoes. Right now, my main concern is cookies.

Yes, cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.

You see, here in Northeast Ohio (Western Pennsylvania too), we have this tradition at weddings called the cookie table. And it is epic.

This is one example of a wedding cookie table. Cookie tables range in size and arrangement, but a traditional cookie table is laden with dozens of cookie varieties.

While the wedding cake is still a mainstay of the wedding reception, the cookie table is equally, if not more, important. A traditional part of the wedding reception in the Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania region of the United States, the cookie table is truly a force to be reckoned with. No one is really sure of how it got started or where it actually began, but it’s easy to make an educated guess.

Most likely, the cookie table tradition became prevalent from a combination of the high influx of immigrants that came into this region in early twentieth century and their baking traditions, the expense of an elaborate wedding cake, and the hardships caused by the Great Depression. For a more nuanced explanation, one of my history professors (a Youngstown native) explained that the cookie table was (and still is to a certain extent) all about social power and social debt.

Mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends, cousins, etc. spend months before a wedding baking and freezing cookies for the big day. Requests go out – “Can you make cookies for s0 and so’s wedding?” The number of cookies you display and the number of people you can get to bake them for the occasion says something about your social power, but it also puts you in debt to the person baking the cookies. They call in that debt later when they need cookies for a wedding.

As for where the cookie table exactly originated, both residents of Youngstown, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania both claim their city to be the birthplace of the cookie table. We’ll probably never really know, but I’m betting on Youngstown.

Today, cookie tables are different at every wedding. It depends on the bride and groom’s preference, the number of cookies people have time to make in this busy world, the size of the wedding, ethnic and religious traditions, and your family’s past usage/experience with the cookie table. My family definitely adheres to the cookie table tradition, but we don’t have anywhere near as elaborate a cookie table as some others do.

That doesn’t mean the cookies are in short supply though. Recipes won’t just be doubled or tripled. Some will be octupled. (Yeah, I know this might not really be a word. But for my cousin’s wedding 5 years ago, my Mum made 8 times the normal recipe for one cookie alone.) Needless to say, I didn’t eat any of those cookies at the wedding, nor do I have an easy time even looking at them now, 5 years later.

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IMG_1331 - Copy

So, it’s full speed ahead with the cookie baking. And, all I have to say is: Thank God for Pinterest!

Over the next few months, I’m going to be using Pinterest to seek out some new (to me at least) cookie recipes to make for my cousin’s wedding in June.

I’m going to catalog my cookie baking progress on here where I’ll share the recipes and my take on the cookies I try.

First up is Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies.

Here’s a picture of what they’re supposed to look like:

I hope to make them this weekend, so check back soon to see whether they are cookie table appropriate.

🙂