Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

April 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm 113 comments

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

I was almost fooled by the week of sunny weather Seattle’s seen, but the rain has finally begun to pour.

Just last week, the cherry blossom trees stretched over my head in airy, arching bloom, but these days I have to duck to avoid the low branches laden with water. Rain streaks down the windows, bathing everything in a steely blue glow. Umbrellas pop open like strange flowers when I walk outside. In the mornings I wear red rain boots to class, and in the evenings I fall asleep with the sound of rain in my hair.

I usually like this kind of weather, but right now, I can’t stand it. I’m impatient for summer. Impatient for dusty sidewalk chalk and melting Creamsicles, but mostly for everything summer represents – freedom, relaxation. No stress. There are only two months to go, but I don’t think I can make myself wait.

I am tired of being patient.

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

I was patient all through Christmas break, through the slush of February and the bitter chill of March. Four months to go until college letters… now two months… one month to go… Every day I switched between cheery confidence and desperate doubt. It was like picking petals off a daisy – they’ll accept me, they’ll accept me not

After months of waiting, I finally received the last of my college decisions yesterday. Of the eight schools I applied to, I was accepted at five. I was waitlisted at two very good universities. But the only school I really wanted to go to, the only school that could stir any passion in me at all, was the last one to send out decisions.

The whole day was simply killing time. I came home early and found that I had nothing to do. I ate a banana. I checked the mailbox (it was empty.) I read a book of short stories without understanding any of them. When the decision was available online, my brain staggered. I fumbled my way to the website and watched the page load with agonizing slowness.

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

I skimmed the first line and immediately knew. The letter was brief, polite, encouraging. It was brutal.

I read it, read it again, read it a third time with burning eyes. Emotions passed through me like images on a strip of film – horror, confusion, anger, pain, exhaustion, heartache, sorrow – until I couldn’t feel anything and laid face down on my bed, overwhelmed. Then I cried until my skin was as taut and my body was as hollow as a drum.

Have you ever felt like you’ve been waiting patiently your whole life for something? Something to validate all the work you’ve done? That’s how I felt. I’m just so disappointed in myself and I can’t help but feel wounded and unsure. I curse the thought that my only outright rejection is the only one I can’t take. I keep thinking about what I could have done, how I could have been better. I know it’s useless, but you aren’t rational when your heart is breaking.

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

I wish I could tell you that I’ve moved on, that the rain has cleared and I can smell summer around the bend and life is good. Not yet. It hasn’t hit me, but I know it will.

I didn’t break down today, as miserable as I felt every time I had to answer with that sad little smile, “Yep… rejected.” When I came home I wanted to be in the kitchen. And more than anything, I wanted to write. Typing out this post has been as good as Tylenol so far.

So much of my future is a mystery, but there are some things I can be certain of. Family, good food, and good company. I can be sure of ice cold lemonade in the summer to come and spiced pumpkin pie in the autumn to follow. I can be sure that luck will be with me wherever I go, though it may not always seem like luck at first, and that I will always have the patience to weather the wait.

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

These bars come together and bake in no time at all. Instant gratification, no patience required. For now, I can be grateful for that.

[PS: Happy birthday Grandma. Love you.]

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

These bars are really, really good. I’m still feeling pretty down. I could channel the hurt into a post, but I don’t really have the motivation to talk much about straight food. The bars are soft with slightly crisp edges and a bit of chew. The almond flavor is very good without being too overwhelming. Everybody liked the drops of blackberry jam and the pretty drizzle of icing. They went really quickly and I found them very addicting.

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars
Recipe barely adapted from Sophistimom
Makes a half sheet of bars

1 cup (2 sticks or 224g) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups (300g) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup seedless blackberry jam

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a half sheet (13″x18″ rimmed sheet) with butter or nonstick spray.

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Add in vanilla and almond extract. Slowly add flour and salt, and mix until just incorporated.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. It’s okay if you can’t quite get the corners, since it will spread during baking. Drop teaspoonfuls of jam evenly over the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown.

Allow to cool, then cut into squares (I used a pizza roller and a ruler to get even cuts.) Whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, and almond extract, and drizzle over the bars.

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Symphony of Sugar For the Love of Chocolate-Dipped, Almond-Orange Biscotti

113 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Caroline  |  April 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Oh gosh, I’m so sorry about the college. Just try to look on the bright side, 5 schools realize how priveleged they would be to have you in their presence!
    I am unable to tell you that I know what it feels like, being 14, I have yet to go through the agonizing (from what I hear) process of applying to Universities.
    I’m sure things will get better, you’re bound to meet some amazing people and have great experiences at the college you end up choosing.
    By the way, those bars look delicious and I cannot wait to get into the kitchen and whip them up. Fingers crossed mine look as good as yours do!

  • 2. Noelle  |  April 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    i’m sorry. i got rejected from the school i really wanted to go to a year and a half ago, and it’s the worse feeling in the world. i had one back up school, but i was so confident that it was the only school i wanted to go to, that i HAD to get in. if I didn’t get in there, i didn’t want to go anywhere you know?
    Getting rejected was probably one of the best things to happen to me, I decided not to go to my back up school, took time off to travel and I found my true passion in life. Now I’m waiting to hear back from the design school I applied to, my new dream school. My letter should arrive this week or the next, so I’m in the restless stage again, but if i don’t get into this school, it won’t be the end of the world, as long as you’re persistent.
    you can always transfer right? :)

  • 3. Molly  |  April 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm


    I think that in life everything that happens is meant to happen. Its taken me a long time to understand that sentence my mom has tried to pound into my head since I was little. There is always a good reason for everything, even the bad things that happen in life. You may not realize it now or anytime soon but you could go down a totally different path that will lead you to bigger and better things. Stay positive :)

  • 4. Katy  |  April 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the college decision. Their loss. :) I know it isn’t a good feeling, and it hurts, to get a rejection, especially from a school you really wanted to go to. Not fun. But you’ll get through it. And you’ll pick from the five schools you did get into, and I’m sure you’ll have a great college experience. And hey, you’ve got a whole month to pick which school you’re going to end up at. But even if you don’t end up loving or feeling passionate about wherever you end up, remember that you’re not going to be stuck there. Believe me, I know a thing or two about transferring. (I’m the whack job that is currently waiting for a decision to go back to the school I transfered from last year. Crazy, right?) You can always apply again as a transfer. Or who knows, maybe you’ll end up loving wherever you end up choosing and having a fantastic experience and education. But you shouldn’t feel disappointed in yourself. But never let anybody tell you that you’re not good enough for something. Never ever ever. I know it sounds lame, and that this might be weird because we’re total strangers, but I’m sure that you could do anything you want to. You might go a different path than you envisioned, attend a different university than you thought you would, but you’ll make it there in the end. Don’t give up, and good luck choosing a school. I know it’s tough to pick the right one, but I’m sure you’ll make the right choice. :)
    p.s Sorry that this post is kinda long and random. I’m not good at organizing my thoughts and tend to ramble sometimes. :)

  • 5. Sam  |  April 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I’m so sorry. :( You would have made a great addition to any college–just look at what you’ve accomplished while still in high school! Still, I’m sure you’ll find happiness wherever you end up. My brother applied early decision to the one school he truly loved, and was rejected. He was heartbroken, but he went on to apply to 9 other schools, and got accepted at 8, waitlisted at 1. He ended up falling in love with one of those 8, and is extremely happy there today. I wish you all the best with your decision. :)

  • 6. Heather  |  April 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Elissa. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve really been enjoying reading your blog – both the writing and the food :) I know it won’t replace the blow of a rejection (I’m a junior in college and love where I am even though it was not my first choice!) but I hope the validation from a reader means something too!

  • 7. linda  |  April 2, 2010 at 5:03 pm


    5 (i am sure wonderful universities) acceptances are major accomplishments…
    how many can say… 5 schools accepted me?

    which path you decide to take will be a road to new discoveries.

    “wherever you go, go with all your heart.” ~confucius

    have a peaceful w/e & know that we are all wishing you the very best…& summer is just around the corner!

  • 8. Kristine  |  April 2, 2010 at 5:04 pm


    I’m really sorry to hear about the decision.

    Reading your post was like going through a time machine. The same thing happened to me last week. I pretty much reacted the same way. I baked rosemary kissed jam thumbprints instead though. The rosemary is quite soothing.

    I suppose the only thing to do is move on, accept, and enjoy what you have.

    On the bright side, the future is starting to take a more definitive shape. Being accepted by many schools is both a blessing and a curse, if you know what I mean.

    Two of my teachers shared this article from the Wallstreet Journal. It definitely helps put things in perspective.

    Cheesy knock knock jokes also help.

    Knock knock
    who’s there?
    madame who?
    Madame foot’s stuck in the door.

    I hope that wasn’t too cheesy.

    Reading your blog every Friday puts a smile on my face, so I just want to try and return the favor, although I’m sure my attempt to do so was futile. :D It’s the thought that counts though, right?

    P.S. These blackberry jam almond bars look delicious. I would very much like to eat one right now.

  • 9. Stephanie  |  April 2, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Hey Elissa,

    Recently went through the terror of being rejected for multiple residency programs, but at the end, think of it this way: you will be at a university that saw right through your application to the heart and soul of who you are and said, “Hey, come right in!” There’s nothing terrible about that. Best of luck to you, sweetie. You have many talents and many yet to be unveiled as you venture through these upcoming 4 years. :)

  • 10. Sara  |  April 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I know it’s probably not what you want to hear, but honestly, you will meet amazing people and create lifelong friendships no matter where you end up. Just keep doing what you want to be doing and stay true to yourself, and you will be happy. Hang in there! (If nothing else, blame the rainy weather!)

  • 11. Stephanie Elliott  |  April 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Elissa,

    As I have mentioned to you before, I teach AP English Lit and am the GATE Coordinator at a high school. I see my students experience just what you have described and the grieving you are going through is to be expected. However, I tell my students that every door that closes helps to narrow our options in a way that we sometimes need and inevitable keeps us on the path that is right for who we are and who we are to become. I can’t help but think this experience and the blog it inspired has helped you ease the heartbreak of many others going through disappointment themselves. What I admire so much is your maturity and that you know how to find healing in what you love. All my best to you!

  • 12. Sarah  |  April 2, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Elissa,

    That absolutely stinks. I’m so sorry, though I know how you feel. I was rejected by my dream school early action and four months later it still hurts. Baking helps a lot–though it’s Passover right now and I’m pretty much limited to macaroons and flourless chocolate cake for now. If I never whip another egg white again it’ll be too soon. But I also am struggling not to feel like those letters were some sort of judgement on me and the past seventeens years of my life. It’s hard, but my mother and the newspapers remind me that there are greater sadnesses in life than not getting into a college.

    And soon other things come to occupy your mind–crocuses pop up in your backyard, your English class reads an absolutely amazing book that changes your whole view of the world. I discovered your blog, and now I eagerly await your posts every week. I’m a lot like you–aspiring journalist, avid baker. Though I’m extremely jealous of your photographs–I’m completely inept at using any technology more complicated than a telephone, so my photography skills are limited. You actually inspired me to start a blog, though I’m still scrambling for time to write.

    I’m sure you’ll be happy wherever you go. That’s what people keep telling me, and though I still feel a little bruised I’m excited for my other schools and the decision I’ll have to make. It’s warming up in New York, after three straight days of torrential downpour at the beginning of the week. And next Tuesday night I’ll be able to bake again. Cherry blossoms will come out and my favorite author is speaking in Union Square next week. It’s exciting! And with all your amazing talents (this blog alone has floored me, so I’m sure that the rest of you is equally spectacular) you are certain to have a fantastic experience at some college that is equally wonderful and far more deserving for having recognized your greatness.

    I’m sorry that this post is long and somewhat sappy. I have a tendency to be overly emotional/philosophical. Plus I feel a sort of kinship with you, knowing for the past four months that someone on the other side of the country with similar interests to my own is going through the exact same agony that I am. I hope that the sun comes out soon in Seattle, and I wish you the best of luck with everything coming your way. Until then, enjoy your blackberry bars! They look delicious.

  • 13. Heather  |  April 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I just wanted to tell you about a friend of mine.

    The only thing she ever wanted to do in life is be a large animal veterinarian. She worked very hard toward that goal. But when the time came to apply for vet school, she didn’t get in. She applied the following year with the same result. I remember the day her 2nd rejection letter came. We were all far from our families, at college. So she didn’t have her mom to comfort her. All of us friends tried to comfort her as best we could. But she was inconsolable. Her dream had been stolen from her. After a few months of depression, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made different plans for life. She ended up going to nursing school in a different part of the country.

    She’s told me numerous time that her life is happier than she ever thought possible and that she’s incredibly grateful that she went to nursing school. She is convinced that her life turned out exactly as it was supposed to turn out.

    Anyway, my point is that I firmly believe that life takes us on a journey that we can’t foresee. The best parts of that journey are ALWAYS the unexpected bends in the road.

    While you may be disappointed now, you will have a great life. You have found passion in life and you have purpose. Good things will come to you. And at some point you’ll look back at this moment and realize that the things you have wouldn’t be there if life had taken the path you had in mind. Fate takes us where we are supposed to go, girly.

    I love your blog. Keep baking. :)

  • 14. alexandra  |  April 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    someone like you will be able to find a niche for themselves/ find things that they’re passionate about/ be happy at whatever school they end up at. i know that might not be much consolation right now, but i hope that you do take it as a compliment! your character and strength are quite evident through your blog, and you will bring a lot to whatever school you end up picking. the “dream school” concept is overrated, really! best of luck with your decision.

  • 15. Alli  |  April 2, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Elissa,

    I’ve been reading your blog for months and months, and I am finally delurking because I want to tell you that:
    1. Those bars look delicious! I love almond.
    2. I know how difficult it is to be rejected, especially when you’re so sure that the path that has been closed to you is the best path to take you to where you want to be. I know that it’s already been said a plethora of times in the comments above mine, and in better words than I could offer, but everything’s going to be okay. I’m sure that you will go on to be successful at doing what you love to do. And I know that the hope of what’s to come doesn’t take the sting away, but I hope you are encouraged in knowing that all of your loyal followers believe in you and are cheering for you.

  • 16. Indhu  |  April 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I am so sorry… but it is their loss Elissa… I loved this post of yours… you are so mature and I wish I had been half as mature when I was 17… I too am from Seattle and I absolutely love your blog… as much for your posts as for the recipes :)

  • 17. Deese  |  April 2, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    As a big sister who just went through the college application/acceptance/rejection thing with my baby sister, I want to say I’m sorry. My little sister got into 2 of the 4 schools she applied to. She was rejected from her first choice too, but now she will be going to my Alma mater, which is a great school for her chosen degree.

    However, she plans to stay for 1 year and then transfer to her first choice. That is if she doesn’t fall in love with the school and decide to stay.

    So, my advice is to pick the school that you think will fit you best and decide after a semester or two if you want to attempt a transfer to your first choice. You may find your 2nd choice is the prefect school for you!

    Great bars! I will be trying these soon. Keep baking I find it a great form of therapy.

  • 18. Hanna Begic  |  April 2, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I have only started reading your blog and am amazed at how well constructed and written it is by incorporating lovely words & your love for food.

    I must say that being a 15 year old i too am pressured as what to think when applying for a university.

    I can understand what you must be feeling & what i say next is an unusual comment as i would hardly listen to myself,

    Something happens for a reason & u were probably not meant to go there. I know that is the worst piece of advice but coming from one such as myself i tend to think it is true.

    You have an amazing blog & no doubt cooking skills. Don’t let this ruin your life.

    Keep cooking wonder girl.

  • 19. Emma @ Poires au Chocolat  |  April 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you. I have to say, though, that while I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way now, it’s often for the best.

    When I first applied to university, I had my heart set 100% on studying medicine at Oxford (we do it as undergrad here in the UK). My beloved grandfather and great-grandfather went there and it was my family’s dream – my grandfather cried (put it this way – he didn’t cry – at least in front of anyone – when my Grandma died) when I told him I was applying. I thought about nothing else – I worked relentlessly on my a levels and admissions tests etc. I did well. I got to the interview stage, which was the biggest cull of applicants.

    And then I was rejected. It felt like my life, my dream, had been taken from me. I cancelled my other applications and decided to apply again (They take 150 students, I came 152nd out of thousands – that hurt.).

    But then, after time, I realised it wasn’t a perfect fit. I didn’t have a truly heart-felt answer to ‘why do you want to be a doctor?’. I wanted my family to approve of me, for my grandpa to be so proud of me. I don’t know my father, he was my inspiration.

    But then nine months later, I applied for English Literature. My family were furious, despite the fact I still got into Oxford. ‘You can read, can’t you?’ etc etc. I still get sharply edged ‘jokes’ about it. But it’s okay, because I’m where I’m meant to be. I’m happy. English may not be what I pursue in life (hopefully that’ll be pastry!) but it’s what was right for me at this point in my life and I love it.

    I know it’s hard. I cried for days. I’ve never felt so worthless. I found out on my way to school for a school trip – it was possibly the most painful day I can remember as everyone kept asking me, sure I would have got in.

    I promise you, somehow it’ll turn out for the best.

  • 20. Deborah  |  April 3, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Your post took me back to a similar experience. I think everyone who has said that things work out unexpectedly and that you are being redirected on the right path for you is right. I’ve seen that to be true so many times although it might be years before you figure out why. That doesn’t mean you can’t also work to put things right, if you want to. Maybe you’ll end up at your first choice university as a postgraduate student – or maybe by then, it will no longer be what you want. Good luck – your blog is wonderful and I’m sure you are going to make a very positive contribution wherever you end up.

  • 21. Cousin Sharon  |  April 3, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Everything that happens in life happens for a reason. Pick one of the schools that appreciates what you have to offer them. Realize that the school is only as good as its current students. There are so many things that go into acceptance decisions that you should try not to take this as a rejection, just that you were one of too many talented young adults that wanted to go to that university, and there just weren’t enough slots. I really feel for you but know that whatever school you go to will be a better place for having you as one of its students.

  • 22. flory  |  April 3, 2010 at 7:16 am

    oh gods, i just got rejected from my dream university too. but i believe that you’ll do wonderful things no matter where you are! it honestly is their loss — and whereever you go, it’ll be awesome because =you’ll= be a student at -their- campus.

    the sun will shine!

  • 23. Micaela  |  April 3, 2010 at 7:56 am


    Getting rejected is really disappointing, but my friends and I all agree that you get into the school you’re meant to go to. I’m a junior in college and my best friend didn’t get into her dream school and ended up here instead and she is grateful every day for getting rejected from her “dream” school! So let yourself be sad for a while (it helps) but wherever you end up, just be ready to fully embrace it and in time I’m sure you’ll be grateful as well. Love your blog!! :)

  • 24. Amy  |  April 3, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about that. Chin up~

  • 25. Kodi  |  April 3, 2010 at 8:02 am

    So much about what makes your college experience amazing is the people you meet there, and not where exactly you are. Recieving a rejection letter is never fun, but try to focus on the five incredible options you have, and know that wherever you go you will meet people who will make the experience incredible and create memories and friendships that will last you a lifetime. :)

  • 26. Anne  |  April 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I was rejected from both my first AND second college choices, even though I had the grades, the activities, and everything I needed to excel at those schools. I understand your devastation right now. You’ll cry, you’ll throw tantrums, you’ll think your future is in doubt. You’ll even be jealous of your friends that got into their first choices.

    I ended up a small state school and formed friendships I will have the rest of my life. I wrote for the newspaper, another opportunity I would not have had at my choice schools. I spent a semester abroad, which was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am twelve years out of college and still reminisce about that time in my life. The best is yet to come for you.

    There are clouds and rain now…that’s part of life. The sun will shine again though and you will see the way forward with renewed perspective.

    Good luck…and keep baking. I love your blog.

  • 27. Valérie  |  April 3, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Oh Elissa… I’ve been there, most of us have. And it hurts, and it makes us feel less worthy, and it makes us question ourselves. But you mustn’t take this kind of administrative rejection as a reflection on your value, or as a personal judgement against you. College admissions, just like scholarship attributions or even job offers, depend on so many factors, a lot of which are beyond our control; sometimes, it can feel downright arbitrary. But you are creative and thriving, and have so many talents; you are going to have so much validation throughout your life. And even though it hurts right now, things will look better soon. Hang in there, and all the best.

  • 28. Kim, Rambling Family Manager  |  April 3, 2010 at 10:12 am

    My heart is breaking for you; I know that’s a huge disappointment. You are amazing and if I could go and shake some sense into those admissions people at that college I would- grrrr.

  • 29. Mel  |  April 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I’ve been following your blog for the past few months, and I’m shocked that any school wouldn’t be begging you to choose them. You are so talented, creative, and interesting — it’s truly their loss that you won’t be there. I hope all the best for you as you make your next choice. Whichever school you choose will be so fortunate to have you in their freshman class.

  • 30. good girl gone blog  |  April 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Aww sweetheart, rejection is hard. I will tell you that I applied early decision to a school I thought was perfect for me, got deferred and then didn’t get in. I was absolutely devastated- my two best friends had just gotten in early decision to two very prestigious Ivy league schools, and I was rejected by my top school. When it came time to make the final college decision, I told my dad he should do it- if I didn’t get into my top school, then it didn’t matter. My dad of course told me to go to state school because it was cheaper, but I eventually decided to go to Boston University. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but looking back 4 years later, I know it was a better fit for me. The thing is, you may think that other school was perfect for you, but truthfully, it just wasn’t meant to be. I bet you wherever you end up, you’ll be extremely happy. Trust me, it happened to me. I’m here if you need to talk- definitely send me an email if you need some advice. xo.

  • 31. Elizabeth  |  April 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    As much as you will find it hard to believe now, everything will work out with college. I too was rejected from my #1 choice (a very competitive university to which I would I would have been 4th generation!). I accepted my second choice’s offer to matriculate and LOVED IT. I met the most wonderful people, studied abroad within my major for my entire junior year AND was accepted to medical school (my ultimate goal since 1st grade). I will graduate from medical school in a mere 8 weeks and will start a competitive residency– and through it all I am still in touch with my closest friends from college as well as high school. College is all about the experience and who you meet on that journey. Ultimately, where you attend is not the most important factor– it’s your attitude toward the experience.

    You will rock wherever you go!! With time the pain will pass– don’t let a college cookie-cutter letter pull you down. . Keep your chin up and know that you are awesome!

  • 32. Gale Reeves  |  April 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    You are correct – ‘you aren’t rational when your heart is breaking.’ So, file this story away for another day…
    I needed a new computer 4 years ago. I am successful in my career and have excellent credit, but DELL would not finance my computer purchase. I was past angry. I told DELL to ^&)($^*. I went to the apple store and purchase 2 computers. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me and my small photography business. All that to say, sometimes we think we know what is best for us, but we really don’t. I am so thankful that DELL would not finance my computer. That failure (in my eyes) with DELL changed my life.
    Your photography is amazing. Your writing is amazing. I am so hopeful for you and I can’t wait to see your life in 20 years!!!

  • 33. Sue  |  April 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I know it’s painful now, but as time passes you will see that things work out for the best! (I know it sounds both trite and cliche, but it’s so true!) One day as you look back you will see that THIS road has taken you places that you’ve never dreamed of!

  • 34. Making my Mark  |  April 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Oh, I’m sorry. The pain of rejection stings like no other, but something great that you never considered may come your way.

    Bake a few sweets, clear your head, then get back up.

  • 35. Making my Mark  |  April 3, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I wasn’t finished before my comment posted.

    You are too talented, too passionate, too motivated to let this get you down. This is just a bump in the road of life that I know can propel you into something even better.

  • 36. Linda  |  April 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Shame on them, for not recognizing what a jewel they rejected. You are smart, so incredibly eloquent, not to mention a heck of a cook! I see something wonderful in your future, and I am so glad I found your blog, so that I can be a (remote) part of it.

    I hope your black cloud lifts from your shoulders soon. I know how awful it must feel. You just want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head and hibernate until it all goes away! And it will go away, eventually.

    I’m sending you long-distance hugs from San Diego! You are in my thoughts and, as I still tell my grown-up kids, I’m waving my magic wand like crazy in the hope that it will make you feel better.

    Fondly, Linda

  • 37. jessie  |  April 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm


    By now you have like a billion comments about how rejection can be a good thing, and I’m one to atest to that. After being rejected from my “dream school” I chose a college in the city (NYU) and while it may have not been what my parents had expected, I had a great experience and now that I’ve graduated, I’ve realized what a great choice it was.

    The dream college opens several doors, but it stops there. The rest is up to you… and the economy. Going to a great college only matters when you graduate in a terrible economy, but i suspect that by the time that comes around for you, you’ll be okay.

    Best of luck to whereever you end up going to!

  • 38. Rosa  |  April 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I love your blog. I’ve been reading for a while but this is my first comment, so…hello.
    I, too, was rejected by the colleges I most wanted to go to. It’s a long, hard wait for decisions, which gives you plenty of time to build up all your hopes and dreams into one “perfect” school that you just HAVE to get into. It can be devastating when you don’t get in, I know. While all of my friends were celebrating their acceptances to their dream schools, I was left trying to decide between the few I had gotten into–the ones I didn’t really want to go to but had applied to “just in case.”
    Well, guess what. I’m now in my second year at one of those “just in case” schools, one that I never thought I would attend. And I love it. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. I know this doesn’t always happen to everyone, but it is a very real possibility. Sometimes you don’t know the right place for you until you get there.
    And those bars look delicious…too bad it’s still Passover =)

  • 39. Rachel  |  April 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Im a junior in high school right now and let me just say it is the most stressful year ever! Was it for you??? For all those comments that say it is for the best(how could it its horrible!!!), i disagree but maybe when im old and wise i will understand. Rejection is the worst and i am dreading this time next year. at least i know i will have these bars to cheer me up if needed! Eat lots of chocolate it helps i promise.


  • 40. Elaine  |  April 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Hi, I’m sorry to hear this. I was there myself many years ago — my two top choice schools rejected me. I ended up going to my third choice, and you know what? It turned out fantastic, way better than either of the top two would have. I had four very, very happy years there. Funnily enough, this was true for almost everyone at my school — the whole first month or so, conversations began with, “So, who rejected you?” Yet most people came to love the place.

    I imagine previous posters have said the same thing, but I hope you can find a good fit among the schools that did accept you and the same thing will happen for you. I bet it will.

  • 41. Kathleen  |  April 3, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Elissa,

    I’m currently a junior in college, and I went through a very similar experience during my senior year of high school. I know this time is so incredibly rough, but I just wanted to let you know that a rejection from the school that I thought was best for me was the best thing that ever happened to me–I got shoved out of my comfort zone at a school where all of my dreams have come true. Right now it sucks big time, but I promise, the future might not be as bleak as it seems :)

    Best of luck!

  • 42. Hillary  |  April 3, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Hey girl. So sorry to hear about the college rejections! I’m a senior too and it’s been a stressful past few weeks! Actually, the whole “college” think is what inspired my blog. I’m sure you’ll end up wherever you’re supposed to be :)

    and PS: love the blog. I’ve been reading off and on for a while now. I wish I could bake!

  • 43. samk  |  April 3, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    hi.The other posts have given you lots of support but having been in your position some years back I thought my tale may help . my story is from the UK but I too cried .I wanted to be a doctor and applied and was rejected by all the schools I applied for. We go to medical school straight from school at 18.But come summer I reapplied through our clearing system and got a place in a university I barely knew of as far from home as you can imagine but still in the UK.I met a guy over a dissecting table and we are still together over 30 years later! I guess what I am saying is serendipity or life has a way of putting us in the right place especially if you make the best of it.I also have been a doctor for the past 30 yrs and am an attending in the UK.My career has been good as well and it is largely down to the great training I had at the university i never even considered.Now my own daughters who are your age are struggling to get to university i feel their pain and yours again but now I have the faith and experience to believe life has a way of turning out for us all often in the most unexpected ways best S PS love to bake as well -great stress relief and your recipes really work even here !

  • 44. evylynn  |  April 4, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I remember crying for hours when I got rejected from my first choice school. It didn’t help that I had almost assumed that I would get in. It also didn’t help that I knew other people at my school who had gotten in. Why not me?

    But, as others have commented, it is amazing how bad events can turn out to be good. I thought I would be going to some school that I would hate. I wound up going to a university that I absolutely love.

    What I do want to add, though, is that the college admissions process can be COMPLETELY random. So please do not think that there is something wrong with you. Or that you are somehow not good enough to get in. The decisions are made by people–so it cannot be a perfect system. There is chance, there is randomness, and there is human bias. Unfortunately, sometimes none of it turns in your favor.

  • 45. Emily  |  April 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Hey Elissa,

    I also received a rejection letter from my first choice school a couple of weeks ago and your right- it’s brutal. A few of my friends applied to this school and of course I wanted to be accepted with them. Then I received that ominous letter and it crushed me. I also cried and spent the rest of the day imagining the “what ifs?” I think the hardest part was telling everyone I didn’t get in. But I’ve slowly accepted it and so will you :) I know you’ll excel no matter where you go to school. This was just a closed door. Now, go find an opened one :)

  • 46. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  April 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve never had blackberry jam! BUT, I’ve had jam-bars, and I’ve had blackberries AND I love both. I’m excited!

  • 47. Sara  |  April 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    You are amazing! Please don’t let this get you down! I adore your blog-and recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how some of the world’s most successful people didn’t get into that one college of their choice. I bet in a couple years from now you will fall into that category!!!! :) Keep your hopes up and heart open!

  • 48. Amy  |  April 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I’m in law school now, and to be quite honest.. I only applied to one undergrad school (my home state’s largest public one) and the whole process took about ten minutes and cost $25. I went, for free, and I can’t say that my choice hindered any of my future plans. The opportunities and enthusiastic professors are out there at EVERY school — be genuinely interested and active in your field of study and you’ll go places.

    Just remember: 90% of success is showing up.

  • 49. Margarita  |  April 5, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Elissa, when I read your post my heart ached for your sadness. I knew how much you were looking forward to going to that university. I wanted to soothe and comfort you and make you feel better. I read the responses to your post and I was gratified to see everyone on here trying to do the same. You are so loved by so many, my goodness, you are a treasure. I could read the desire of those commenting to soothe and comfort you too. I know I appreciate you sharing your talents, emotions, memories, values, time and so much more with us. You have people that care for you because you bring us joy through your writing and pictures. You are already a success. Your supporters are right and I agree with them, things happen for a reason. You will grace the university where you ultimately attend. They will be blessed to have you. The person you are will take you with success wherever you go. Your fan. <3

  • 50. Kristan Roland  |  April 5, 2010 at 7:20 am

    So sorry to hear about the college…..that really sucks. You are so very talented, though, you will end up very successful regardless. I hope you cheer up and have a wonderful week!!


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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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