Tuesday, November 24, 2015
365 Thank You Notes
It started with this. Last week, a colleague passed through my room and handed me this post-it note folded up. He didn't say a word, just gave it to me, and kept going. I now have it stuck to my laptop, just below the keyboard where I look at it every time I sit down to use the computer (which is ridiculously often). This little piece of paper makes me smile each and every time I look at it.
I am a huge believer in gratitude. Deep breaths and reminding myself how much I have to be thankful for gets me through a stressful day. In a text message sent recently to the BFF, I wrote "Life is too short to feel sorry for ourselves." I am not even sure what or who we were messaging about, but that thought popped into my head. I have a bulletin board in my classroom this year (I only have one, thank goodness, because putting together a bulletin board is not one of my teacher super powers) just for my Gratitude Project, shall we call it.
Last week, I handed my 10 advisees a blank notecard and an envelope and asked them to write a thank you note to someone in their lives. I then mailed the notes. Call me old-fashioned, but there is just something about getting a note in the mail with a stamp and your own personal name on the envelope. I have loved getting letters my whole life, or at least for as long as I can remember. I even recycled stamps so that I could write to friends until I found out that was illegal. The local postmaster didn't catch me and I didn't get a jail term or anything. Mama Mildred discovered what I was doing and let me know that a stamp can only be used once. Seriously?
If the kiddos were writing notes, then I decided I should as well so I wrote one to Sister Moo. She is my baby sister and an amazing person. I don't tell her that often enough. We call, we text, we email, and I know she knows that I love her, but I do not express my gratitude to her often enough. She was 1/365. I am writing down the recipients in my nifty Passion Planner so I can keep myself on track. Mama Mildred (for being my amazing mama), Leonard Pitts (for his amazing column on the November 13 attacks on Paris), and an 8th grade girlie (who amazes me everyday with her smile and the fun attitude she brings to my class) have been among my "victims" so far.
Today's recipient will be the giver of the post-it note. A big teddy bear of a 6th-grade-math-teaching man whose room is across from mine. I am grateful he decided to move to the Triangle and take a job at my school. His smile lights up the room and he listens to me when I need to vent.
I've shared the recipe for Chocolate Stuff before on this blog, but it is so good that it bears repeating. I am up way too early this morning, the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break, and I am getting ready to pop some in the oven. I think that 5/365 will appreciate it...
I did not use Hershey's cocoa... sorry, HRH Sweet Potato Queen Jill. Mme M gave me a box of Van Houten 100% Pur Cacao last March when I visited with her in France. Use the best ingredients you have or can get your grubby little paws on is always my motto for baking. I also baked the Chocolate Stuff in 4 individual ramekins instead of a loaf pan this time. Better for gift-giving. And believe me, should you find yourself in need of a chocolate fix, this is it. Always have the ingredients on hand.
Ready to go in the oven--
(I will now quote The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love pp. 170-171 since I have it open to the chocolate-stained pages that contain the recipe...)
Here's the deal: Beat two eggs with a cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of flour. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In the microwave melt together one stick of real butter (I never use unsalted; I think it tastes flat) and two fairly heaping tablespoons of Hershey's cocoa. Get regular Hershey's in the dark brown box- anything else is different and will screw it up. Dump the butter-cocoa mixture into the other things, and stir it up good. Then add a running-over teaspoon of vanilla. I use real vanilla, but the grocery store kind won't ruin it. Stir that up, too. If you decide to go for nuts, use a whole bunch of pecans, chopped up fine.
Pour the Stuff into a greased loaf pan, set the loaf pan in a pan of water, and stick the whole business in the oven at about 300 degrees. Depending on how your oven cooks, it needs to stay in there for 40 to 50 minutes. You can reach in there and tap on the top of it at 40 minutes. If it seems crunchy, I'd take it out. You can't really undercook it, since it's good raw, but you don't want to overcook it and lose the gooey bottom so crucial to the whole texture experience.
Bon appétit, everyone! Do not let a day go by without expressing your gratitude to at least one significant person in your life.