I have held an affinity for houses since I was young. Growing up, I had recurring dreams of houses filled with endless rooms. I would explore them, opening door after door, impatient to see what the next one held, disappointed when I finally awoke. Nowadays, my love for houses reveals itself in less subtle manners. Along with a standing date to watch This Old House on Sunday mornings, I regularly go on home tours for no reason other than a curiosity to know what's inside. In the summer, my boyfriend and I go on long walks around the lakes scattering our Minnesotan city. The lake walks are our compromise; he prefers to take in the beauty of nature and I prefer to take in the beauty of the lakefront properties.
I imagine the lives held within those four walls—what the mothers hope, what the fathers fear, what the children dream.
Now that I've recently started the search for a home, the excitement I've kindled has faded somewhat as the reality has sunk in. The market is difficult, the region I'm searching is one of the highest priced in the city, and the houses I can afford will need a lot of love. I understood there would be compromises, but it wasn't until I was actually faced with the tangible decisions that I realized how difficult this process would become. Do I choose the house with the beautiful yard, but disappointingly tiny kitchen? The house with the pleasing fit and finish, but dysfunctional layout? While a good coat of paint can go a long way, it cannot cover up the unchangeable.
Right now I am looking for a beautiful place, a beautiful place to grow my family, a beautiful place that needs only a good coat of paint and little else. It doesn't exist—not for me and not right now—which has been a hard realization to swallow. Adjusting my expectations has left me with complicated feelings, especially when reality still comes at such a high price.
A house doesn't make a home, as my mother reminds me. And she's right, of course. It will be up to me to make a place beautiful, to put in the love and the work and the hope, to build a home.
Oatmeal Fudge Bars are a sweet, chewy bar to satisfy your cookie cravings. The bars feature rich dark chocolate sandwiched between chewy oatmeal cookie layers. The cookie layers are more pronounced than the chocolate, creating a balance between flavors. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.
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Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Yields 16 servings
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (170 grams) old-fashioned oats
5 ounces (140 grams) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (80 mL) heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a medium bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until uniform. Gradually add flour, baking soda, salt, and oats, mixing until uniform. Press 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan evenly. Set aside the remaining 1/3 of dough.
In a microwaveable safe bowl, combine roughly chopped chocolate, heavy cream, and espresso powder. Heat in 30-second increments in the microwave, stirring between each increment until smooth. Pour over dough and smooth.
Crumble remaining 1/3 dough over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting and serving.