Day 35: Raspberry Oatmeal Bars + Simple Pleasures
“Joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – Brene Brown
Ahhh…I love this time of year. It’s been snowing all morning here, and we decorated our tree last night. Despite living in one of the most sophisticated cities in the world, there’s still nothing quite as magical seeing our dinky little Christmas tree all lit up. Last night we turned off all of the lights, turned on the Christmas music (OK maybe it was already on…) and cuddled up on the couch. As I was laying there with my love, looking at our glowing little tree, with our cats chasing each other across the apartment, I thought to myself: there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.
These ordinary (and yet, extraordinary) moments are what I live for. The ones where you wish you had a pause button. To just sit and savor and soak it all in. These moments, however, are fleeting. Which is why we have to be aware enough not to let them pass us by as we steamroll onto the next “big” event. Sure, reaching a career goal or going on an amazing trip is worth celebrating. I run after those “mountain-peak” moments constantly (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this project!). I’m just trying to stay rooted in the present and to savor the small things – especially during this season of Advent.
Yesterday, I wrote about my struggle with messes. Just to clarify (and this ties into what I’m saying today) – I’m not saying to just throw in the towel and let your home become a pigsty. I could NEVER relax in a setting like that. It’s more of a mindset shift: it’s setting your expectations realistically. Giving yourself grace to clean as you can, without it becoming a fixation. It’s learning to embrace real life with all its joyful, magical, and often messy, moments.
Which brings me back to our tree. It’s probably 3 feet high, kind of crooked, and it looks like a 5-year old decorated it. (Think: Charlie Brown’s Christmas.) This tree is not making the cover of a magazine any time soon, but I think it’s beautiful. It puts a huge smile on my face, and forces me to sit back and contemplate this season.
OK – how does any of this have to do with raspberry-oatmeal bars?! Well, one of my favorite small pleasures in life is, every afternoon – around 3 or 4 p.m. – to have a little something sweet with a cup of coffee or tea. It’s so nice to take a pause, and to do something purely for pleasure’s sake. This is a ritual I could never imagine giving up. (I’ve gone through periods where I cut sugar out, and it’s pretty depressing to give up one of my favorite moments of the day!).
These raspberry oatmeal bars are perfection: sweet, salty, crunchy, and chewy (i.e. everything I like in a dessert!). They’re also incredibly easy to make, and are perfect for holiday gatherings or cookie exchanges. Take a moment for yourself today and savor the ordinary. You might find that it’s more extraordinary than you think.
See you tomorrow for Food-Styling 101!
(Photos by Signe Birck)
Makes 16 bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick + 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 pint fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8×8-inch baking pan.
Pulse the flour, brown sugar, and salt in food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it comes together into a dough. Turn into a bowl and, using your hands, gently knead in the oats and (if using) the pecans.
Set aside 1/2 cup of the dough and press the rest into the bottom of the pan. Spread the raspberry jam over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Place the raspberries over the jam, then sprinkle with the remaining dough.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes on a cooling rack and then cut into squares.
NOTE: These are best served the day they are baked, but you can store any remaining bars in an airtight container (layered with parchment paper) at room temperature for up to 2 days.