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Friday Sharing: Solitude

22 Mar

I know it’s been awhile, but I just read the most beautiful poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and I wanted to share. This breathtaking piece follows the soothing melody of a nursery rhyme, but has a great and terrible beauty to it. Perhaps it may appear a bit gloomy for a Friday afternoon, but Wilcox’s truth and personal pain rings through so beautifully in it. Enjoy!

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain. 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Story Time To Start Off The Weekend!

21 Sep

Today I’m taking a break from my weekly travel blog re-caps for something a little different. Here’s a little story I wrote to get you started on some weekend fun. I hope you enjoy it!

The Lone Dwarf

Growing up, my best friend was a giant, or at least that’s how he appeared to me. He would always complain that he felt undervalued as an individual because his ma always compared him to his brother. I could never really sympathize because as a septuplet, having only one identical brother sounded pretty good to me.

Wearing matching baby clothes and sleeping in the same room as kids almost drove me insane. As grown ups it’s even worse. We share a tiny house and all seven of us co-own the family mining company. There’s nothing I hate more than when one of the workers mixes me up with one of my brother. Especially when they call me Grumpy. I hate that guy, he’s such a jerk.

Well anyway, back to the point. My brothers had always made me miserable, but I used to always brush it off by sleeping in order to escape from their constant bickering. I would dream of taking my share of the family fortune and running away with some beautiful forest maiden. When Snow White appeared out of the blue last month, everything changed.

She was the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on. She had thoughtful brown eyes the color of moist earth, tiny feet that could almost fit in the palm of my hand, and rosy cheeks that were always flushed with laughter. All my brothers could see in her though were her superficial traits like luscious lips or unblemished skin. They were such pigs, totally incapable of recognizing a fair maiden in need when they saw one. They even had a bet going about who could kiss her first, just for the fun of it.

I on the other hand, was head over heels in love with her. I even stopped napping because of her. This real flesh and blood lady dwarfed the maidens of my dreams. After a few days of simply enjoying the peace and order that she infused into our otherwise unruly house, she truly won my heart. If she could make me be happy even in that loathed house, I couldn’t even imagine how amazing my life could be living with her alone.

I began to dedicate any time that I wasn’t with her to chopping down trees for lumber and eventually constructing a cozy little love cottage on the edge of the woods furthest from her wretched stepmother. All I wanted was to make her as joyous and carefree as she had made me. I stayed up late into the nights and woke up at the crack of dawn in my attempt to finish the house before any of my crass brothers had a chance to lay their grimy hands on her.

Last week, after countless splinters, strained muscles, and sleepless nights I finally finished the house. It has a pond for her beloved song birds, bright blue and yellow interior walls to match her favorite dress, and a spacious kitchen for her to cook her brilliant dishes in. I designed every aspect of the house in an attempt to please her, from the heart-shaped stone path to the handmade extra long bed.

I was heading back to the house from a long day of putting the final touches on our love cottage with the hopes of professing my love to Snow White when my idiotic brother dopey came wandering up the road singing, “Snow White dead. Snow white dead. She ate an apple, now she’s dead.” I figured that he had just found his drug stash that we had hidden from him, so I ignored it for the most part.

As I got closer to the house, I noticed that it was unusually quiet, and I started to worry. When I finally climbed the steps to the front door, I could see my brothers solemnly sitting on the extra long couch, whipping tears off their cheeks, my true panic set in. There lay my beautiful Snow White on the floor, utterly motionless.

I immediately started searching Doc’s medical books, unwilling to believe that she could exit my life as quickly as she had entered it. To say that the results for “unmoving, unbreathing woman” were grim would be a gross understatement. Eight of the nine places that pertained to her condition proclaimed that the girl must be dead, but just as I was about to give up, I found one that said true love’s kiss could restore life to a poisoned maiden as long as the kiss occurred within 24 hours of the poisoning.

All afternoon I tried to work up the courage to kiss her and reveal my love for her before it was too late. After changing into my finest suit, coming my hair, and spraying on my special occasion cologne, I ventured to the living room to kiss my girl. That’s when my heart broke. Crouched over my fair maiden, sloppily kissing her delicate lips, was my childhood friend, the giant. Despite my childhood perception of my monstrously large friend, I stared at him for a few moments, recognizing that he wasn’t much bigger than Show White. In the few moments, while I stood there dumbfounded, he woke her up, picked her to his horse, and rode away with her.

Once I ceased to be able to even discern her general shape on the horizon, I turned to my brothers and asked them what the hell that was about. They said that Doc had told them that a kiss could save Snow White, but they couldn’t agree on who should kiss her, and therefore win the bet. So instead of calling me over, the one brother who hadn’t put in money on their filthy bet, they decided to call over Phillip over to “plop a wet one on the chick.”

So here I am now, writing this suicide note. Thank you, you wretched best friend for kidnapping the love of my life. Thank you brothers for ruining my one chance at happiness. Thank you mom and dad for making me live with these awful slobs. I’ve had enough of all the misery! Now I am taking action for myself and finally letting myself sleep forever to overcome this wretched heartache.

-Sleepy

Roommate Cookies (aka Momofuku Milk Bar Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies)

29 Aug

After three tedious mornings of taking the SAT, weeks of college essay revision, and months of waiting for college acceptance letters, I am finally a university student at my dream school. For the past week I’ve been living in the arts and humanities building with my incredible suite mates, and I’m loving every minute of it.

What did I do my first weekend of college? Bake cookies of course!

When I went home for the weekend, I wanted to bring a nice big batch of cookies for the dorm. These couldn’t just be any cookies, they had to be knock your socks off cookies to introduce my constant baking. So I turned to the brilliance of Christina Tossi’s Momofuku cookies.

They turned out even better then I had expected. They were so delicious that my floor mates and I eagerly devoured them within a day. They integrated the staples of a college student’s diet: cookies, chocolate, marshmallows, milk, and cereal.

The crunchy cornflake crumb and gooey marshmallows are reminiscent of rice krispy treats, while the buttery dough and chocolate chips are similar to traditional chocolate chip cookies.

The cookies take a lot of prep time between making the cornflake crunch, creaming the butter and sugar for 10 minutes, and allowing the dough rounds to chill for over an hour, but they are worth it!

By making the cookies smaller, reducing the butter by half a cup and substituting half of the mini chocolate chips for higher quality dark chocolate chips, I made the cookies slightly lighter so that you can eat two or three of them without a terrible stomach ache or sugar rush. Trust me, there’s no way to stop after just one.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar via Daily Candy

Yield: 15-20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cup mini marshmallows
  • 3 cups Cornflake Crunch
    • 3 3/4 cup cornflakes
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk powder
    • 1/4 cup plus 3/4 teaspoon sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 6 tablespoons plus 2 1/4 teaspoons butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275° and line 4 large baking trays with parchment.
  2. Prepare the cornflake crunch by crushing the cornflakes with your hands in a medium bowl to 1/4 their original size. Add milk powder, sugar, and salt, then toss to mix. Add butter, then toss to coat. The butter will act as a binding agent to combine the dry ingredients with the cereal, creating small clusters. On a lined sheet pan, spread the clusters and bake for 20 minutes, until they are toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed. Allow them to cool completely.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down sides of bowl, then add egg and vanilla and beat 7-8 more minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Mix just until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step or risk overmixing.) Scrape down sides of bowl. Still on low speed, paddle in cornflakes and chips until just incorporated, about 30-45 seconds. Then paddle in marshmallows.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup scoop to plop the dough onto the remaining lined pans, leaving 3 inches between cookies. Pat tops of dough domes flat. Wrap pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. Do not bake room-temperature disks — they will not hold their shape.
  6. Once again preheat the oven. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until cookies are browned on edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. Cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. Leave them in oven for another minute or so if they still seem pale and doughy on the surface.
  7. Cool the cookies completely on pan before moving them to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

18 Aug

Thank you so much to the incredible bloggers at both Act Like A Lady, Eat Like A Man and My Student Struggles for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award! The wonderful young ladies who write both of these blogs are smart, passionate writers and thinkers whose blogs encourage me to infuse every drop of creativity that I have into each of my blog posts. Sara Ann of Act Like A Lady, Eat Like A Man posts wonderful recipes, work outs, and style tips. She writes such honest, passionate posts that reading her posts makes you feel happy inside, as if you are talking to a childhood friend. My Student Struggles is a blog full of fascinating research and personal musings that you can count on to make you really think!

Award Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3.  Nominate 15 other bloggers that you admire or inspire you.
  4. Go leave a comment and let the people know you have nominated them.

About Me:

1. I recently switched my major from Architecture to English, with the goal of becoming a high school english teacher

2. The only tv show I really watch is How I Met Your Mother

3. I drink about 3 cups of green tea daily, I’m addicted!

4. My full-grown teacup poodle weighs just 3 pounds.

5. I am obsessed with all types of fruits, especially peaches and berries.

6. I am in the process of growing out my hair to donate for locks of love, hopefully next summer it will finally be long enough.

7. In just 4 days I move into my dorm with my 7 lovely suitemates.

Nominations:

Glad to be Back Home and Proud to be an American (with Patriotic Cupcakes)

15 Aug

After traveling with my family for the past 2 1/2 weeks, it’s great to be home!  We visited London, Istanbul, Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Geneva, Paris, and thanks to a missed flight connection on the way home, London again. It was wonderful to observe the different foods, languages, and ways of life in each of these countries. The extreme cultural differences in Istanbul especially made me grateful for the many modern advantages of living in the US.

The experience of seeing my country as a group of talented hopefuls at the start of the Olympics in Danny Boyle’s brilliantly directed Opening Ceremony and then again as gold medal winners in the Men’s Basketball Finals has amplified my sense of national pride. Being in London for part of the  2012 Olympics was an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am so grateful that my parents enabled my sisters and I to be part of this incredible event.

I wanted to create some fun, spirited cupcakes to celebrate USA winning the most medals in the Olympics this summer, so I came up with these sprinkle-filled goodies. I believe that funfetti cupcakes are a quintessential American treat, so here’s a homemade, patriotic alternative to everyone’s favorite boxed cupcake mix. Feel free to mix up the sprinkle colors to suit your own country!

 

 

The cupcakes have the perfect mix of sweetness and almond flavoring so that they are great to snack on even without frosting. But this frosting is unbelievable, so make it anyways! The frosting truly tastes like light and fluffy vanilla ice cream. It’s so good, in fact, that this is now my new favorite frosting recipe. Enjoy!

P.S. Many more travel pictures to follow:)

Olympics Funfetti Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Cupcakes adapted from C&C Cupcakery

Frosting adapted from Sweetapolita

Serves 12

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup red and blue sprinkles

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup red, white, and blue sprinkles (with stars preferably)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line a cupcake tin with red, white, and blue cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside. In another small bowl mix together the yogurt and milk, then set it aside as well.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream your butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture is thick and white. Add the vanilla and almond extracts then mix again.
  4. With a spoon, slowly mix in 1/3 of your dry ingredients then 1/3 of your wet ingredients, repeating until both of the mixtures from the first step are fully incorporated. Be careful not to over mix.
  5. Pour in you sprinkles and lightly fold them into the batter a few times. Again, do not over mix.
  6. Spoon in the batter to liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until your tester comes out clean.
  7. While the cupcakes are baking, start making the frosting by whipping the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 8 minutes on medium speed. Then add the sugar, milk, and vanilla and continue to beat on medium for 6 more minutes until the frosting is light, creamy, and fluffy.
  8. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on cooling racks before icing. Use a piping bag fitted with a star tip and start on the outside with a large spiral, moving inwards. Top each cupcake with a small handful of sprinkles. Hint: use an empty spice shaker with wide holes to evenly coat each cupcake with the sprinkles.

Genuine Blogger and Sunshine Awards

8 May

I know that many people turn to tv or movie-watching to reward themselves for a long day’s work, but for me, I always find the greatest comfort in reading blogs. It never fails to amaze me how many immensely talented and genuinely kind people fill the blogosphere. Whether it’s seeing a new post from one of the bloggers I follow appear on my blackberry screen, reading a sweet comment on one of my posts, or getting a notification that another reader liked my blog enough to start following me, the wonderful world of blogging continually brings a smile to my face.

Hiba from Cloud of Lace, who nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award a few months back, has been kind enough to nominate me once again for the Genuine Blogger and Sunshine Awards. I can’t thank her enough for her thoughtful comments, insightful posts, and touching award nominations. Make sure to check out her incredible blog with lovely decorating, DIY, and travel posts!

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

  1. Link the award to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Answer the questions that come with it.
  3. Pass it along to 10 people and let them know they have received it.

The questions are:

  • Favorite color: Yellow
  • Favorite number: 15
  • Favorite Non-alcoholic drink: Green Tea
  • Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
  • My Passion: Traveling
  • Favorite pattern: Florals
  • Favorite Day of the Week: Saturday
  • Favorite Flower: Sunflowers

The 10 Bloggers I’d like to nominate for both the Genuine Blogger & the Sunshine Awards are:

  1. Turn Towards the Sun
  2. As Is Home
  3. Sugar To Glitter
  4. Belopotosky
  5. Love and Cupcakes
  6. Make Something Mondays
  7. Sensual Appeal
  8. Roam and Home
  9. Movita Beaucoup
  10. Baker Bettie

E+ Green Homes

5 Apr

In a stark contrast to the towering concrete apartments that overwhelm the Seoul skyline, the E+ homes are modest one and a half story homes. Just an hour outside of Seoul, in Kyeong-Gi, South Korea, Kolon Engineering and Construction is teaming up with Unsangdong Architect Corporation to develop sustainable housing that works with the environment to create a unique living situation that both helps the environment and boosts the inhabitants’ well-being.

Currently, a model E+ home is set up on the Kolon headquarters to showcase the 95 eco-technologies that work together in the design to achieve maximum sustainability. Through its efficient system of saving, producing, and recycling energy, the E+ home meets even the strictest German Passive House standards. The house uses a mere 27% of the average amount of energy used by a Korean home, and it generates 38% of the energy that is used by a Korean home.

The roof enjoys a thick cover of vegetation to boost oxygen production and trap heat. Its steep pitches and quarries maximize daylight, catch the maximum amount of water, and achieve optimum placement of the light tubes and photovoltaic panels. Large glass window and doors provide heat recovery ventilation and air filtration, which will reduce the need for additional heating and cooling units. The subterranean pipe system also captures and stores both rain and heat underground to further increase the home’s self-sufficiency.

People who are considering switching to an E+ home can book a one or two night stay in the showcase home to help them decide if they want to make the switch. Potential homebuyers can see firsthand if they want to live with the high-tech technology that runs everything from the interior furnishings to the roof. Hopefully these beautiful and sustainable homes will catch on and start beautifying Seoul’s current skyline that is filled with grey, looming high rises.

I really like the house’s innovative approach to solving urban problems, but it does seem rather impractical because of the far greater square footage of this house compared to typical apartments and the expensive new technology. I think is an interesting way of using natural beauty to enhance the typical simplicity of modern homes. The E+ home works very well in its environment, but I doubt it would be a practical housing solution for city life. I hope that more of these houses appear around in the world wherever there is ample land and funds to support an E+ home.

*Photos from Dwell Magazine’s April Issue