Tag Archives: sisters

Decoupage Memory Box

22 Aug

Many people nostalgically describe college as the best times of their life, but few people warn of the sadness that comes when it’s time to leave. Heading off to college often means saying goodbye to families, friends, homes, and cities that people have known all their lives. And while what lies ahead may be fun and exciting, saying goodbye is one of the hardest imaginable things to do.

I’m lucky because I’m moving only 30 minutes away from home, so I can come home to visit Goose and my family on weekends and even after school some days. It wasn’t just luck though. When you have people in your life as incredible as the ones that I have in mine, it’s impossible to stay away for long.

Saying “See you in November” to friends who you’ve known since kindergarten is tough. On the flip side, knowing that you won’t see them until Thanksgiving makes you appreciate what time you do have with your friends even more. Without seeing friends in school each day, you  have to decide which people are worth going out of your way to maintain relationships with via phone calls, letters, care packages, e-mails, and rare visits.

Packing up boxes of picture frames and sentimental items to take with me to my dorm left my room feeling impersonal and empty. The blank walls and eerily clean bookshelves made the room a constant reminder of my upcoming move, and from my little sisters’ perspective, of my leaving them. In an effort to show them that they will still be as much a part of my life when I go to college as they always have been, I made these memory boxes for them. This project also allowed me to test out the idea of making additional personalized boxes for friends to include in future care packages.

The boxes are really simple to make, as they involve little more than some cutting and pasting; but the personal thought and homemade aspect of the gift make this a wonderful way to show someone you care. Seize the opportunity to get as personal and creative as you want. Draw your own pictures or add text to decorate with. You can even experiment with fabric, wire, mirrors, and other materials.

Decoupage Memory Box

Materials:

  • Wooden box
  • Glue stick
  • Shiny Mod Podge  (or a mixture of 1 part Elmer’s glue to 1 part water)
  • Scissors
  • Exacto knife (optional)
  • Foam brush (or other paint brush)
  • Pictures
  • Magazine images
  • Letter or 3-D stickers

Directions:

  1. Take your time in going through old photos and magazines to choose a good selection of pictures that either hold a special memory or that you know will make the recipient smile. This is the most important step of the project. I spent months going through old magazines and a good few hours searching through my computer for the very best pictures. Gather more  images than you think you will need so that you can be selective when it comes time to actually lay out your images.
  2. Use the scissors to cut out each of your images. I chose to cut them right on the edge, but you can leave a slight border if you prefer. Just make sure that you are constant in applying the same method to all of your images.
  3. Layout what images you want on the four sides of the box, being sure to coordinate the tone and color scheme as well as possible. The longer you spend in the first step, the easier this step will be.
  4. Use the glue stick to glue down the images to each face, one face at a time. If you want your images to overlap the space where the lid and the side meet, press the top and the bottom together firmly and glue the image right on top of the seam, then use your Exacto knife to gently cut through the image along the seam. The cut will be unnoticeable in the finished produce, and you will still be able to open and close your box without a problem as long as no glue gets into the seam.
  5. Use the 2-D stickers and remaining images to decorate the top of the box, and even to dress up the sides a bit more.
  6. Coat each face of the box with a generous coat of Mod Podge, then top with any 3-D stickers if desired.
  7. Hide a special note or sentimental object inside the box and give it to someone you love.
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Halfway Cookie Bars

17 May

Recently I’ve been reading Amy Thomas’s dessert-filled memoir, Paris My Sweet in which she describes her journey to track down the most delectable sweets in Paris. I am so impressed by how simply through her mastery of language, she can make my mouth water! I’ve had an insatiable desire for an indulgent treat ever since reading Thomas’s description of macarons as “firm but tender, shiny yet rigged ,with ethereally light shells and heavy middles [that make them] miniature studies of contrasts-and deliciousness.”

While these Halfway Cookie Bars definitely lack the delicate refinement of macarons, they make up for it with their melty chocolatey deliciousness.

Cookie Dough

Press it into the pan: Layer one done!

I’m warning you now…these cookies are addictive. Make them at your own risk. Luckily for me, I made them and then was immediately able to dispense them among ravenous friends, our high school’s victorious baseball team, and much-deserving teachers.

Chocolate: layer two

These things are ridiculously good! If chewy chocolate chip cookies and fluffy meringue cookies had a love child, this would be it. These bars consist of a classic cookie dough base topped with a layer of chocolate, and then finished off with a meringue coating. The lightness of the meringue makes it so that you can scarf down two or three of these bars without going into a butter-induced food coma.

Whipped Brown Sugar Meringue

Scoop all of that fluffy deliciousness on top of the cookie dough and chocolate…what could be better!

Three layers complete. Add the sprayed parchment, then into the oven they go!

My little sister helped me make these scrumptious treats, and while they do require quite a few steps, none of them are that difficult… except for the last one.

 

Halfway Cookie Bars

Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, separated
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chunks
  • Canola oil cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover a 9 x 13 inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving some extra foil to  hang over all four sides of the pan and spray the foil with cooking spray. This will ensure safe removal of the bars after they cool.
  2. Make the cookie dough by whisking together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl. Then use a mixmaster to blend together the butter, the granulated sugar and just 1/2 cup of the brown sugar until it’s smooth and creamy. Slowly mix the egg into the sugar-butter mixture until it is completely absorbed, then mix in the water and vanilla. With the mixer at a low speed, add the flour mixture and beat gently until all the flour has been absorbed and the dough looks crumbly.
  3. Gently press the cookie dough gently into the pan with your hands, making sure the surface is even.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks on top of the cookie dough and use your palms to press them slightly into the dough. This will help keep the chips from moving when you add the meringue.
  5. Start making the meringue by whisking together the two egg whites in the mixmaster in a clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment. Gradually increase your speed to medium-high. When the egg whites are very frothy and look like loose foam, start adding the remaining half cup of brown sugar a little at a time. Continue increasing your speed to the highest setting. When all the sugar has been added, continue whipping the meringue until it holds firm peaks.
  6. Use a spatula to gently spread the meringue on top of the chocolate layer. Star by dumping the meringue in the center of the pan, and gradually spreading it out towards the edges.
  7. Coat a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray, then lightly press it on the top of the meringue to protect the meringue from scorching. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the parchment. Continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the edges look toasted and are pulling away from the sides of the pan.
  8. This is the most difficult step of the entire process, but do your best to wait until the pan is completely cook before lifting out the bars and cutting them into pieces.

Optional Variations:

  • Add some espresso powder or cocoa powder to the top merangue layer for a more pronounced flavor
  • Swap some or all of the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips or toffee pieces
  • Replace the chocolate layer with a fresh fruit preserve layer
  • Replace the classic cookie base with a peanut butter cookie base
  • Add old fashioned oats and coconut to the bottom for a bar reminiscent of Hello Dolly Bars

Or try anything else you can think of, the sky’s the limit!

Lets Play Ball….With Some Rice Krispy Treats That Is!

14 Apr

The best way to judge the character of a friend or boyfriend is by how they treat your family. Anyone can be nice to you, but it takes someone really wonderful to be good to your entire family. That is how you can tell that he or she is in it for the long haul. After the initial honeymoon phase wares off, it is the person who will hold your hand at family functions and help your family out in times of need that you truly want to be with. If someone bothers to invest him or herself in your family, it proves that he or she is really thinking in terms of the future.

Whether it means taking care of your younger siblings from time to time or spending time with your parent, a boy who cares about more than just getting close to you is one to hold on to.

Melt butter and marshmallows

Mix in cereal and press into the greased pan

I’m incredibly lucky that Goose gets along so well with my sisters and parents that he’s practically part of the family. He babysits with me, goes on trips with my family and I, plays fantasy football with my dad, and tonight he’s even taking my sisters and I to my sisters’ first Dodger game.

Cut out your baseball circles

Dip into white chocolate

Back around Oscar season, when Goose and I were babysitting my little sisters, we made these Baseball Rice Krispy Treats that I thought would be perfect to share with you, as baseball season is now getting started. These are the perfect treat to serve at a baseball tailgate, a birthday party, or as a post-game snack for your little sluggers. What do you do to get into the spirit of baseball season?

Use red icing to draw on your stripes

Rice Krispy Treat Baseballs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter plus more to grease the pan
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 5 cups Rice Krispy cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups good-quality white chocolate or white chocolate melting chips
  • red icing pen

Directions:

  1. Butter a 13 x 9 inch pan.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Once melted stir in the marshmallows, and stir constantly until fully melted.
  3. Remove marshmallow goop from heat and stir in cereal.
  4. Use a buttered spatula to scoop the rice crispies into the pan and press them down evenly.
  5. After the rice krispies are completely cooled, use a medium-sized circular cookie cutter to cut out your baseballs.
  6. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, and once it is completely melted, dip the circular rice krispy treats into the chocolate. Alternatively, you could spoon some of the white chocolate on top of the rice crispy, and then use the spoon to smooth it over the entire top.
  7. Once the chocolate has cooled, use your red icing to draw two small C’s facing the opposite sides, and then three stripes on each C to form the baseball stripes. Make sure not to place the stripes too close together, as the icing may spread a bit. Enjoy!

Rainforest…in Los Angeles?

6 Jan


As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I took my two younger sisters on a hike to try to find the hidden rainforest on the Fryman Canyon hike. Sadly, although we hiked for nearly two hours saw various rainforest signs, our tummies started grumbling too much by 3 PM and we decided to abort the mission until next time.

Even though we failed to find the rainforest, we still had a lovely hike from the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook down to Wilacre Park. We saw beautiful views of Los Angeles as a whole and the massive homes in the hills too.

It was a surpisingly warm day for early January, so we were thankful that the tree cover which encases the narrow path was there to keep us cool during our hike.

Unlike the Franklin Canyon trails, which gradually build up the reach a cingular point, these paths cover much more land as they continually wind up and down the hillside. This enables hikers to look down on the valley of houses from various angles and elevations.

As we exited the trail onto Iredell Lane it was a bit of a relief to move narrow, rocky paths to wide, paved roads, but the real treat was getting to admire the massive house that studded the canyon road.

The wide range of architectural styles, from whimsical cottages to modern houses, pleasantly surprised me. The massive lots and more remote locations clearly allow more building freedom than most areas in Beverly Hills.

This was a great way to visit yet another new area of LA during the last few days of winter break. I’m so proud of my little sisters for climbing over the rocks and dealing with the slippery slopes without ever complaining, and even better,  ending the hike injury-free. The next time any of you, my wonderful readers, find yourselves with a little spare time, I strongly encourage you to explore the nature escapes near you! Whether you live in a big city and have to really search for grassy spots or you are surrounded by them in the countryside, I hope that spending a few hours exploring nature will give you the same sense of clarity and relaxation that it gave me.