I set my alarm to wake up early on a Saturday morning. A true rarity. To do something I really didn’t want to do. Yet another true rarity. I like my comfort zone. But I was committed. I circled yes.

My church does this thing called “The Closet.” It’s a place where homeless people can come for their winter essentials to survive another Chicago winter. Literally survive. A warm coat. A hat. Gloves. A scarf. And snow boots. For three years I’ve been promising myself I would work a Saturday. And for three years I’ve slept in. Selfishly. I’ve found better things to do like bake and take pictures and work out.

Over the past couple of years I’ve become numb to the homeless lined streets of my urban city. Until I woke up early on a chilly Saturday morning. I met people. People with stories. With smiles. People who I thought needed me, but really I needed them. The first woman we helped said to me—this must make you feel good. She’s right. It did. And it also made me sad. Sad that I’ve slept in. Sad that I’ve ignored the needs of my neighbors. And sad that my motivation is selfish at its root. As the hours passed that Saturday morning, the scarves, the coats, the gloves, the snow boots—they all began to disappear. Come back in a couple weeks, we told them in hopes the shelves would be replenished.

Peppermint Bark + a wish
  • 10 oz. (1 1/4 c.) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz. (1 1/4 c.) good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c. peppermint candies, crushed
  1. Line a pan with a 12"x8" piece of foil.
  2. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler or microwave on medium until just melted.
  3. Using a spatula, evenly spread a thin layer of chocolate close to the edge of the foil. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until hardened.
  4. Repeat with the white chocolate, layering on top of the dark chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint, lightly pressing into the chocolate. Refrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces and store in refridgerator until serving.
• Be very careful not to let any water mix with the chocolate while heating. The chocolate will “seize” and become crumbly in texture. I speak from experience.

• Skip the Starlight Peppermints and go for the regular or mini candy canes. They are much easier to crush. I place them in a freezer bag, fold over, and use a meat tenderizer to crush.

• For the chocolate, be sure to buy good quality. Chips are cheaper than bars unless you have a Trader Joe’s nearby. They sell dark chocolate by the pound. Holla! Make sure your white chocolate is the real deal, no partially hydrogenated stuff. I prefer Ghiradelli or Trader Joe’s.

• If you are using chocolate chips, no need to coarsely chop.
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