Category Archives: martha in the making

make your own bookplates

One of the most thoughtful graduation gifts I ever received was a collection of my favorite classic novels – Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and Crime and Punishment – in special collector’s edition hardcovers. Is it nerdy how much I love them?

If you’re looking for a graduation gift over the next few weeks, this is an easy, affordable, and meaningful gift for that lucky graduate! You can personalize it by adding one of these homemade bookplates too. I made these with decorative paper (the kind I was busy searching for at Michael’s yesterday!) and a template I made for the bookplate insert itself. These templates are attached as PDFs below in maroon, black, light blue, and light green! The PDFs are already sized, so all you need to do is print!

Template for Light Blue Bookplate


“life is precious” jar

May 23, 2011

I made one of these jars for my mom on Mother’s Day last year to express my gratitude for everything that she does for me, and today decided to expand it to everything in life that I am grateful for – what makes life precious.

I thought it would be a cute gift idea that you might enjoy! Happy Monday!

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chocolate-dipped macaroons

May 19, 2011

Last month, while I was drooling over Reese Witherspoon’s pink wedding dress in her exclusive article in People magazine, I came across a recipe for homemade macaroons by…who would have thought…one of my favorite women from the Real Housewives of New York City, Jill Zarin!

As a former devoted Real Housewives fan (until I started taking night classes), I knew I HAD to try this recipe. Especially when I saw how easy the recipe is, and that it only has six ingredients. They taste incredible!

Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons

Adapted from Jill Zarin

Makes 30 macaroons.

2 14-ounce bags of sweetened, flaked coconut
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Mix coconut, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.

3. Scoop small spoonfuls of coconut mixture (I’d recommend using your hands) and press the mixture firmly together so that it doesn’t break apart after baking. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Let cool.

5. Double boil semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted. Dip macaroons into the melted chocolate, and let cool. Enjoy!

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tiny matchboxes

May 11, 2011

It’s finals week. Seven of the nine classes down, two to go. Never mind that they’re the hardest finals I have yet – but they are clearly a lower priority than 1) catching up on all of my TV for the week, 2) reorganizing my sock drawer, 3) exercising (if you saw a girl singing – and occasionally dancing to – the Glee cover of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” while running on the beach, that was me), and 4) following through on a crafty little dream I had the other day to decorate tiny matchboxes with cute paper, ribbon, mini rosettes and any other girly things I can get my hands on. Then, print tiny notes to put inside of them, or fill them with candy, earrings and gifts.

These are worth failing my finals for!

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May 10, 2011

This past weekend, some friends and I went out to an amazingggg steak dinner… and while the entire meal was delish, my favorite, FAVORITE part was this incredible, steaming, puffy popover (I am a carb-lover, what can I say).

I did some research when I got home and realized that popovers really aren’t that hard to make. They look like it – but they really only take about 45 minutes from start to finish. And that includes baking time!


Adapted from Chef Deborah Scott at Island Prime
Makes 12 popovers

– 2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
– 3 eggs
– 2 tablespoons of melted butter
– 1 3/4 cups of milk

1. Before you start baking, set the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.

3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add the milk and melted butter and mix.

4. Add the egg, milk, and butter mixture to the flour. Mix until smooth.

5. Place an aluminum popover pan (or a cupcake pan if you’re not quite committed enough to buy a pan dedicated specifically to popovers) in the oven for 5 minutes to preheat. The popovers won’t be the same unless the pan is hot before your pour the batter in!

6. Spray each cup with nonstick cooking spray.

7. Pour the mix into cupcake pan. Fill each popover until 3/4 full.

8. Bake for 8 minutes at 450 degrees.

9. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 12 minutes. Serve hot!

(I’ve had some mixed reviews on what to do after they are baked – I recommend serving with butter and salt drizzled on top, or melting some cheese on top about 3 minutes before they are ready to come out of the oven. My dad recommends adding powdered sugar or syrup and making it into a dessert!)

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May 7, 2011

It’s almost bikini season girls! Which is why I am busy making not one, but TWO, Chart House-inspired mudpies. It is the perfect summer treat, and so worth the extra time I’ll be spending at the yoga studio sweating it off. For those of you that don’t know the Chart House, it is known for its mudpies… the oreo pie crust, rich coffee ice cream, amazing hot fudge sauce, whipped cream… truly too good to be true.

And just because I am in such a good mood knowing that I never, ever have to take another accounting class in my life (as of last night at 10 p.m. when I finished my accounting final), I am going to make these mudpies with homemade fudge sauce and homemade whipped cream. Homemade coffee ice cream would be pushing it… I’ll save that for another time.

It’s a pretty simple recipe, especially if you opt to use store-bought whipped cream and fudge sauce (it’s just not the same though!).

Homemade Mudpies

This recipe will make you two delicious mudpies.

3 16-ounce bags of Oreos, crushed
2 sticks of butter for mudpie, 1 stick of butter for fudge sauce
3 quarts of coffee ice cream, softened
8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, plus 1 ounce for chocolate shavings
1 1/2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar for fudge sauce, 3/4 cup for whipped cream
1/2 cup of corn syrup
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract for fudge sauce, 1 teaspoon for whipped cream
2 cups of heavy whipping cream, chilled

1. Crush Oreos (by hand or with the chicken pounder, like I did in my Mud Pudding post)

2. In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the Oreo crumbs with 2 sticks of melted butter.

3. Press Oreo crumbs into two pie pans, thickly, and press up against the sides. The Oreo crust is my favorite part about the mudpie, so I went crazy with my Oreo crumbs!

4. Scoop in coffee ice cream until filled several inches over the rim of the pie pan. I made one mudpie with all coffee ice cream and the other with both vanilla and coffee ice cream.

5. Place in freezer while you make the whipped cream and chocolate fudge sauce, or until ice cream is firm. For the true Chart House recipe, freeze for 24 hours prior to adding fudge sauce and whipped cream.

6. Now for the homemade fudge sauce (adapted from Smitten Kitchen), add one stick of butter and 12 ounces of chocolate to a saucepan placed in water (double boil). Melt chocolate.

7. Simultaneously, boil 1 1/2 cups of water in a larger saucepan.

8. Once chocolate and butter mixture is melted, pour into boiling water in other saucepan. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of corn syrup, 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.

9. Increase the heat, while continuously stirring, until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil, while stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

10. Remove from heat, and let cool for 20 minutes.

11. While cooling, prepare the homemade whipped cream (recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook). Pour 2 cups of heavy whipping cream into a large bowl and cream with a handheld mixer until it is firm.

12. Add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and continue to cream. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and mix until blended.

13. Set in refrigerator until fudge has cooled.

14. Spoon fudge over mudpie, covering Oreo crumbs and ice cream completely. Set in freezer for 20 minutes. It will look a little messy! This is what happens when you are in a rush and didn’t freeze the ice cream for long enough – it still tastes amazing! – but for a true Chart House recipe, freeze the ice cream for 24 hours before adding fudge sauce.

15. Spoon whipped cream over mudpie, covering fudge sauce completely.

16. Using a sharp knife, thinly cut into remaining ounce of semi-sweet chocolate to create thin chocolate shavings. Sprinkle over the top of the whipped cream, and place back into freezer until serving time!

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beach weddings

May 4, 2011

The perfect compliment to an old-fashioned country barn wedding is right here on the beautiful beaches of California. I am so lucky to live here… especially in the 85 degrees and sunny amazing weather we’ve had this last week. I am finally getting a slight (very slight) tan. Meaning that I am no longer translucent or easily mistaken for a Twilight character. There’s something about outdoor weddings, especially somewhere as raw and serene and inspiring as the beach.

This is such a cute sign – I love the handwritten type on the beachwood.

My ideal beach wedding table settings. Such pretty pastel colors!

Love the flower arrangements!

I love this – girly and personal!

I would have never thought of this, but it makes sense! Beach weddings can get so cold!

Just gorgeous.

My obsession with twinklelights continues…

There is nothing more romantic than dancing on the beach at sunset.

All images are from one of my favorite wedding blogs, Style Me Pretty.

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barn weddings

May 2, 2011

This past weekend was a little bit crazy – babysitting (aka cooking and chauffeuring for my fully grown brothers) and prepping for the onset of finals throughout the next few weeks was not very conducive to my new hobby of blogging!

The 24/7 royal wedding coverage has not been conducive to blogging either. I still can’t get enough of Will and Kate and their little convertible and their honeymoon and how shiny her hair is… how do i get hair like that?

Their wedding was to die for…but it got me thinking… what is the U.S. equivalent of getting married in a landmark like Westminster Abbey? But for normal people, i.e. nonroyalty?

Barn weddings.

I knew there was a reason why I’ve been compiling pictures of barn weddings for the past five years of my life…

Love cowboy boots with wedding dresses.

Fireplace in the barn? Amazing. And so romantic.

I love twinklelights!

Obsessed with chandeliers in barns.

You really can never have too many chandeliers.

Jelly jars for flower arrangements – genius!

Gorgeous, right? Maybe Prince Harry will consider this?

All images are from one of my favorite wedding blogs, Style Me Pretty.

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peanut butter rampage

April 27, 2011

I’ve been on a bit of a peanut butter rampage lately. I cannot get enough of it.

While on my peanut butter frenzy, I had the urge to make homemade jumbo peanut butter cups. Like Reece’s, but so.much.better. They can’t even compare. And what’s so great is, for you chocolate lovers like me, you can put as MUCH chocolate as you want into these peanut butter cups. I prefer a tiny thin layer of peanut butter in my enormous mound of Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate. And when I’m in the kitchen, I am in charge.

These homemade peanut butter cups are surprisingly easy. Here’s how you make them:

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Makes about 15 jumbo cups

– 2 cups of smooth peanut butter
– 1 cup of powdered sugar
– 3 teaspoons of vanilla
– 3 12-ounce bags of chocolate chips (semisweet or milk)
– 15 muffin liners

1. Mix peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

2. Double boil the three bags of chocolate chips over low heat. For those of you who don’t know about double boiling – the greatest invention for melting chocolate in the world – place chocolate chips in a saucepan, and place this saucepan in a larger saucepan filled with water. This prevents the chocolate from burning.

3. Line a cupcake tray with muffin liners.

4. Once melted, drop one large spoonful of chocolate into each muffin liner. Using a spoon, coat the sides of the muffin liner with chocolate. It won’t look very pretty initially…

5. Drop one spoonful of peanut butter mixture into each chocolate-filled muffin liner. This is the ugliest stage of the process… I promise it looks pretty eventually.

6. Scoop melted chocolate on peanut butter to cover completely.

7. Refrigerate for 20 minutes until firm.

For a cute packaging idea, you can put the peanut butter cups in small plastic bags and tie with a ribbon.

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peanut butter lovin’

April 26, 2011

Last week, my younger brother’s nineteen-year-old pro triathlete friend brought over some homemade peanut butter cookies. I was skeptical, to say the least, when I saw the mound of what I now know to be heaven sitting in a plain ziploc bag in the hands of this triathlete.

When I tasted that sweet bite of bliss, I knew I had to have the recipe. But no, much to my disappointment, this triathlete friend of my brother’s just “throws a bunch of stuff together in a bowl.” No recipe.

So today, when I really should be working on my big business consulting final project… I am on a mission to figure. this. out.

I ended up making a few adjustments to Ina Garten’s – a true domestic cooking goddess – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (minus the chocolate chunks). Her cookbooks are my go-to, life-saving treasures. They have taught me how to cook.

And I have to say, these cookies are pretty darn good.

Here’s how you make them:

Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Makes 40 cookies

– 2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
– 1 1/2 cups of golden brown sugar
– 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, plus more for topping
– 2 eggs
– 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
– 1 cup of peanut butter
– 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of salt

1. Blend butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer (or do this by hand if you are in need of a workout) until mixed.

2. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and peanut butter one at a time until combined.

3. Add flour, baking powder, and salt one at a time until combined.

4. Drop small spoonfuls of dough onto parchment-covered cookie sheets. Press down a fork in criss-cross patterns before placing in oven. Or use a chicken pounder, like I did for one of my batches.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Immediately after taking cookies out of oven, sprinkle extra granulated sugar on top.

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