“Mobile App”

I hope you are enjoying your area’s Fourth of July festivities, as well as some time with  family and friends. This is the third and final post for “Barbecue Week” here on my blog, and  I have an idea for a healthy appetizer. I have also created a to-go box to serve it in; hence the title “Mobile App”!

I have been following The Pioneer Woman–Ree Drummond–for a long time. Having grown up in western Nebraska, I felt an instant connection to this woman who lives on a ranch in Oklahoma. I own all of her cookbooks, and, in fact, I stood in line at the Tattered Cover Book Store in downtown Denver, CO to have her sign my copy of her first cookbook.

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I think her recipe for Watermelon Pico De Gallo makes one of the best summer appetizers around, and what’s not to love–it’s colorful, refreshing, and healthy to boot. Just look how vibrant all of the ingredients look together:

pico de gallo ingredients_1.jpg

It’s a labor of love, for sure, as it takes some extra time and effort to dice everything up, but you will not be disappointed with the end result. People appreciate having a healthy option, and you can’t get more guilt-free than this–especially when you serve it with vegetable tortilla chips!

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Doesn’t this look incredible? The best part is, it tastes as good as it looks! It’s cool and crunchy, and the sweetness of the watermelon balances out the flavor of all of the peppers.

The hard work is done; the pico de gallo is ready. Now let’s talk about serving it.  This is an appetizer that works well when it’s served in individual portions, so that people can just “grab and go”. Let me show you two ideas I have:

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I found these treat cups at my local dollar store, and I filled each one of them with the pico de gallo. This would be an easy way to allow guests to take the appetizer to anywhere in the backyard, but there’s no place for the chips. They would have to go on a separate plate.

So I challenged myself to design a box that could hold both the treat cup and the chips, similar to the boxes your food comes in at sporting events.

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I found these treat liners at Michaels this week at 50% off, and I used the gingham and stars patterns to line the inside of my simple box design. I started with a 12″ x 9″ inch piece of paper, scored each side at 2 1/2″, and put the box together.

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There isn’t anything complicated or fancy about the boxes, but the treat liners make the boxes food safe and they are the perfect size to hold both the pico de gallo and some chips. Now this appetizer truly is portable and mobile, and guests can take it anywhere they want to be.

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Mission accomplished! After I had taken all of the pictures, my husband and I each took a box and enjoyed our “mobile app” out on the deck with a glass of wine. The box helped brace the cup as you tried to get some pico de gallo onto a chip, which is an added bonus!

Thanks for joining me for “Barbecue Week”–I’ve enjoyed sharing my ideas and designs with you. Have a happy Fourth of July tomorrow, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

P.S. Did you happen to notice the watermelon towel in some of my pictures? My nephew’s wife, Jodi Kostelnik, made it. She creates and screen prints food-themed designs onto hand towels, onesies, tote bags, etc., and the watermelon print is one of her newest additions to her shop. Visit her website here and enjoy looking at all of her clever designs and gift items.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hand Pies and Diaper Folds

Welcome back to Part II of “Barbecue Week”! It’s Friday, and the long Fourth of July weekend is about to begin. I can’t believe that tomorrow is July 1st–where did June go?!

In keeping with the focus on barbecues, today I have a fun dessert idea that would be perfect to serve at or take to a cook-out–hand pies. Sweet, round, fruit-filled miniature pies. The concept is brilliant, and I can’t think of anything more American, or better suited for a Fourth of July barbecue than hand pies. They require no cutting or serving; guests can just grab them and eat them on the go.

My vision was to make both strawberry and blueberry filled hand pies with star cut -outs in the middle of the top crusts to carry out the Fourth of July theme. I had picked up this recipe card at Stonewall Kitchen recently, which I thought would be perfect for the blueberry hand pies.

Stonewall recipe card.jpg

After a little more research, I found a strawberry hand pie recipe that I liked, so all that was left was for me to put on my apron and get to work. I will share the links for both recipes at the end of this post.

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Both recipes provided instructions on how to make hand-made crusts, but I used prepared pie crusts instead.  I wanted my hand pies to be round, although they can be made in all kinds of shapes–half moon, triangular, rectangular, etc. I did make each of the fillings, and the blueberry filling consisted of both blueberry-rhubarb jam and a cream cheese mixture.

Blueberry filling_1.jpgStrawberry filling_1.jpg

The blueberry fillings were pretty liquidy–how’s that for a technical cooking term! Because I didn’t want all of the filling to escape out the star-shaped hole, I followed the recipe exactly and just cut a slit in the middle of the top crusts. The strawberry filling, on the other hand, was very congealed, so I did use the star cookie cutter on those top crusts.

Here’s what my pies looked like just out of the oven:

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the blueberry,

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and the strawberry. Look how sweet my little pies look with the star cut-out. In the end, I could have used the star cut-out on the blueberry pies, as the filling didn’t seep out of the slits at all.

While the pies were cooling, I started working on a packaging idea, which is where the diaper fold comes in. The diaper fold has been around for a long, long time and when all of the folding is done, you end up with a pouch. The best part about the diaper fold is that you only need a square piece of paper; no special tools or adhesive is needed. Just a square piece of paper.

Let me show you:

Paper square_1.jpg

I chose to use parchment paper, as it is food-safe and I really like how crisp and white it is. After some trial and error, I determined that I needed to start out with a 9 1/2″ square in order to fit the hand pies.

Start by folding the paper corner to corner to form a triangle:

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Next, fold one of the bottom corners over to the other side, making sure that you have a straight line across the middle of the triangle.

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Repeat with the other bottom corner.

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Fold down the top flap, and you’re done. The flap keeps everything closed together–as I said, no adhesive is needed.

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Here’s what the pouch looks like inside. This is going to be a perfect for the hand pies! Now it’s time to dress these pouches up–I can’t serve my cute hand pies in plain white pouches!

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I ended up making some paper rosettes and decorating them with layers of stars. The rosettes reminded me of the buntings you see everywhere, and they also mirror the round shape of the pies. My plan was to tie some baker’s twine around each of the pouches, and then tie the rosettes onto the twine.

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I didn’t like how this looked, however, so I went back to the drawing board. I ended up making double baker’s twine bows and I tied the rosettes to the bows.

 

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And there you have it–really cute, food-safe diaper fold pouches for my sweet, round, fruit-filled miniature pies! Wouldn’t you just love to serve or take these cutie pies to a get-together?! Better yet, wouldn’t you just love to sink your teeth into one of these cutie pies?!

Speaking of taste, I know you’re dying to see the inside of the pies, and I’m not going to disappoint you:Blueberry on plate_1.jpg

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It’s hard to see in the close-up picture of the blueberry pie, but the two different fillings really didn’t mix together during the baking. If I were to make these again, I would add the cream cheese filling first, and put the blueberry-rhubarb jam on top, so that the blueberry filling showed through the star cut-out. And, how did it taste, you ask? It’s not bad–you definitely need the cream cheese mixture, as it tones down the tartness of the jam. I don’t think I would make the recipe again, however. I think I’d be happier with a blueberry filling similar to the strawberry one.

Now on to the strawberry:

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The strawberry pie gets my vote, hands down! This is exactly what I wanted–a round hand pie with a star cut-out in the middle of the top crust. The filling was congealed enough that it didn’t ooze out during baking, nor did it ooze out when you broke it in half. And the taste–simply divine! I would definitely make this recipe again–the filling isn’t complicated to make, and the whole process goes pretty quickly if you use prepared pie crusts.

Before I go, I just have one more thing to show you:

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Look how cute this diaper fold pouch is as a silverware holder! I’m telling you, these pouches couldn’t be any easier to make, and they are so versatile. The sky is the limit!

Here are the recipe links:

http://www.stonewallkitchen.com/jam-filled-hand-pies-R2219.html

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/strawberry-hand-pies/

That’s it for today, and I’ll look forward to seeing you again on Monday for Part III of “Barbecue Week”. Enjoy your weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mason Mondays

It’s no secret–I LOVE mason jars! I love their shape and the color of the vintage aqua jars.  They are incredibly versatile, and can be used for many different functions and purposes. I have used them all throughout my house, and in each instance, they serve a specific need.  For example:

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I am using these jars in my pantry to provide a splash of color.

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This jar in my kitchen is doubling as a vase,

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while the painted jar in my living room,

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as well as these jars in my craft room have been re-purposed as home decor.

Mason jars work really well for craft projects. Since I tend to use them often, I am starting a new series here on my blog entitled “Mason Mondays” to highlight my posts using these jars. Anytime I feature a mason jar in my project design or packaging, I will post it on a Monday under the “Mason Mondays” heading.

Today is the first post in this series, as I used the 4 oz. mason jars for my husband’s Father’s Day dessert. He loves Key Lime Pie, and when I found this recipe for Key Lime Pie Cups, I knew these would be the perfect ending to his Father’s Day meal.

You start out by filling each jar with a graham cracker crumb mixture,

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followed by the key lime filling.

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The filling gets topped with Cool Whip and graham cracker crumbs, and then the cups need to refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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Just before serving, place a lime wedge on each cup.

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All I needed to do now was put each Key Lime Pie cup on a dessert plate and pour the coffee. My husband could hardly wait to dig in!

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Look how sweet each dessert looks in the 4 oz. mason jars! And it tasted just as good as it looked–I love it when that happens! It was very light and refreshing–a perfect summertime treat. My husband had 2 servings, so I think we can call this recipe a success! Check, check, and check!

I hope your week has gotten off to a good start. Take care, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

 

 

 

Happy May Day!

Welcome back to my second post for today!

I know that May Day isn’t celebrated as it was when I was growing up, but I have such fond memories of making and delivering baskets to my friends’ doorsteps that I have decided to keep the tradition alive for my own enjoyment.

If you’re not familiar with the tradition of May Day baskets, I go into quite a bit of detail in my very first blog post here so I won’t repeat myself now. Instead, I’d like to get right into this year’s project. Since the treats set the tone for the entire theme, I’m going to start there and end with the basket.

I chose to make sugar cookies for my treats this year, but not just any sugar cookie–I made Swig Sugar Cookies. Have you heard of them? I saw the recipe several years ago on a blog I follow, and I have been wanting to find a time to make them ever since. These cookies were started by a bakery in St. George, Utah and are reported to be the best sugar cookie known to man. It’s said that the magic of these cookies is that the cookies are cold and the frosting is at room temperature. What intrigued me the most is the cookie’s shape–it reminds me of a flower and with the pale pink frosting, I  think they are really pretty.

After you make the dough, you roll it into balls. Then you dip the bottom of a glass into some sugar and flatten out each ball, which gives each cookie it’s signature shape and creates a well for the frosting.

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Even after baking, the cookies retain their shape:

Cookies after baking_1

The frosting is tinted with one drop of red food coloring, and I just love the pale pink color. Don’t you just love how the cookies look once they are frosted?

Frosted cookies_1

I think they are such pretty cookies, and they really do look like flowers. Now that I had the cookies made, it was time to focus on the basket.

I already knew what basket I was going to make, as I had saved the directions to a basket I had seen online several months ago. I thought it would be the perfect size for my cookies. I spent quite a bit of time picking out the colors and the designer paper for this basket, as it was important that the basket be as pretty and sweet as the cookies were. I ended up using the same patterned paper that was used in the online tutorial, as the floral pattern and the colors matched the cookies perfectly.

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The basic basket is a 4 x 4 box with 3/4″ flaps on all sides. The fun part comes when you add on 1″ strips of paper going both directions.

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The ends of the strips get attached just underneath the top flaps and create these arched slats. Here is a front and side view of the slats:

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Once you have all of the paper strips attached at the top, you fold the flaps down.

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All that was left to do was add the handle, which I edged on both sides with lace for some added charm.

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I kept the tag simple, so that the basket shape and colors could really stand out.

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Ta da–I present to you my May Day basket for 2016! I love the shape and details of this basket, and I think it’s the perfect basket to hold my sugar cookie treats. Here’s what it looked like with the cookies inside:

Basket ready to go_1

The sugar cookie recipe makes a lot of cookies–71 to be exact–so I still have a lot of cookies left over. As an additional surprise, I have another packaging idea for cookies for you that doesn’t involve a handmade basket.

I decided to make a paper backing for the cookies that would hold the cookies in place inside a cellophane bag. This type of packaging would work for any occasion and for any size of cookie. I simply measured the height and width of my cookie, and cut a piece of white paper that was 2 1/2″ longer and just as wide as my cookie. My cookies were 3 x 3, so my paper was 5 1/2″ x 3. I scored the bottom at 1/2″ and 1 1/2″. Once the paper is folded on those score lines, it will create a cradle for the cookies. I decorated my paper backing with stamped flowers in pastel colors, made a tag by stamping a small doily with coordinating images, and this is what the final set looked like:

Cookie backing and tag_1

I’m sure this all makes more sense, now that you have a visual! I took a picture of the cookies sitting the backing before I package them up, as the glare from the cellophane bag makes it difficult to see everything clearly.

Cookies on backing_1

You can see that I added a piece of patterned paper to the bottom flap of the backing, as otherwise it would have been white.

Cookies all packaged up_1

You could make this packaging even simpler by using patterned paper for the backing instead of stamping designs of plain paper.

Before I close, I thought I would pass along the links for the cookie recipe and the basket pattern in case you are interested to try either or both yourself.

Well, this has been quite a day here at “Made By The C”! An anniversary and May Day, all in the same day! I hope you’ve enjoyed my projects today, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

Paper Apples and Loaf Pans

As promised, I am back today with another apple-themed post. I got up bright and early this morning to make another new (to me) apple recipe: Apple Walnut Bread. As I was preparing all of the ingredients, I noticed that the recipe didn’t call for any cinnamon, so I did add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to my flour mixture.

loaves of apple walnut bread_1

This picture just makes me happy–I love to have several different varieties of mini bread loaves in my freezer that I can pull out at a moment’s notice, and my stash is bone dry. These loaves are a good start to building up my supply again. One recipe was to yield 3 mini loaves, but I was able to get 4, which made me feel less guilty when I cut into one of the loaves for breakfast!

my breakfast_1

I even got out my apple dishes to use this morning, and I don’t know what made me happier–the warm, just out of the oven bread or my apple dishes! The dishes are by Pfaltzgraff, and the pattern is called Delicious. I only have the salad plates and mugs, and I use them in the Fall when friends come over for coffee. This pattern has long since been retired, which makes me appreciate having them even more.

But, I digress. Back to the bread–mini bread loaves are the perfect size to share with others, and I have a packaging idea to dress up the loaf pans for gift-giving. First, I want to teach you how to make a layered, paper apple which will be the embellishment for the package.

paper apple materials_1

You will need some newspaper or old book print, along with 2-3 squares of patterned paper. I chose to use an apple die-cut as my bottom layer, so I will only need 2 squares of patterned paper. The third square of patterned paper could be substituted for the apple die-cut.

Start by folding your papers in half. Note, if your patterned paper has patterns on both sides, make sure that the pattern you want to use is on the inside. Once your paper is folded, then draw half of an apple shape near the top of your newsprint/book print fold and cut it out.

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I have placed my first apple on my apple die-cut for better visualization. Keeping this first apple folded, slide it down along the fold, and cut out a second apple half just slightly larger then the first one.

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I am showing my first layer in red so that it is easier to visualize how the second apple is cut. Once you have the second apple cut, slide both apples down again along the fold and cut a third, slightly larger apple out of the newsprint/book print.

Now you will switch to your first piece of patterned paper, and taking all three folded apples, place them on the fold of the patterned paper and cut out another apple slightly larger then the last.

first patterned paper_1

Cut out apples with the remainder of your patterned paper pieces, remembering to cut the apple slightly larger than the last layer.  When you are finished, you should have 5-6 graduating-sized apples.

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Now it’s time to glue the layers together. When you cut the layers, you go from smallest to largest. When you glue the layers, you go from largest to smallest. I use liquid glue, and I like to pour out some glue onto a small paper plate, and then use a toothpick to run some glue all along the fold line on the backside of each apple. The finished apple should look something like this:

finished apple_1

I think these apples are so cute, and the newspaper/book print layers add so much charm. You could easily use this same concept for other symmetrical shapes, i.e. hearts, stars, butterflies, etc. The apple die I used for the base of my apple has leaves. As an alternative, you could cut some leaves free hand and glue them on. I also stamped some seeds on the top layer; those seeds could be drawn on instead.

Are you still with me? Good, because now we get to put the whole package together.  I think it’s probably easiest for you to take a look at one of the loaf pans all finished, and then I’ll back track and explain the steps:

patterned paper decoration_1

I made a template of the top of one of the loaf pans before I washed it for baking. I then used that template to cut the shape from 3 different kinds of paper. Once I had my loaf pan wrapped in plastic wrap, I placed the paper on top of the pan. I glued my layered apple onto a small doily; threaded a double strand of baker’s twine through the open cuts in the doily; and secured everything on by wrapping the twine completely around the entire loaf pan. I like to use double strands when I’m using baker’s twine, as I think it gives the bow a little bit more “beef” or weight. Here’s a closer look at the apple embellishment:

patterned paper close-up_1

I realize that not everyone has patterned paper on hand, so I also used parchment paper:

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and brown paper:

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I wanted you to see that you can use whatever you have in the house as the paper topper, and that even plain parchment or brown paper can look fabulous with a little ribbon and embellishment. You’ll notice that I changed up the apple for the brown paper wrap and put all of the color in the front, and I also used red gingham ribbon instead of the baker’s twine to offset the paper.

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Here’s my happy trio of mini bread loaves, all dressed up and ready to share. I can’t decide which one is my favorite–do you have a favorite?

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Well my dear friends, we’ve come to the end of today’s post. My breakfast is all gone, and my bread loaves are all packaged up. Thanks for joining me today, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out number the stars.”

-C-

Apple Pie and Fry Boxes

Hello, my friends. How has everyone been? It’s been awhile, but I’m back today with an apple-themed post. It’s starting to feel like Fall here, with the temperature a little cooler and the air a little crisper, and that has put me in the mood to bake. I wanted to make something that would make the house smell amazing, yet was light and fairly quick to make. Let me introduce you to Apple Pie Fries:

Apple pie fries

I found this recipe over a month ago, and I have been waiting for cooler temperatures to make it. These fries are relatively easy and quick to make, and they would have made the house smell amazing if I had remembered to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top before I baked them. Ha Ha! I did remember to sprinkle the sparkling sugar on before putting them in the oven, so all is not lost.

Fry close-up

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine certainly was, so I could hardly wait to taste one. The recipe suggests serving the apple pie fries with caramel apple dip or ice cream caramel sauce. I happened to have some individual caramel dip containers in the refrigerator, so I put some apple pie fries on a plate along with the dip and dunked away.

Snack plate

I’m happy to report that I only ate two of the fries–not the whole plate!–and I concluded that the fries are too sweet with the caramel dip. If you followed the recipe exactly and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar on before baking, these fries would be perfect just as is.

I also concluded that these fries would be a fun treat to give to others, so I spent the rest of the afternoon designing some packaging for them. French fries belong in fry boxes, so I made some up along with some embellished apples to use as tags.

Fry boxes and apple tags_1

I used Papertrey Ink’s Apple Prints dies and some retired paper by Stampin’ Up! called Bella Rose to make the tags. I used the same 4-layer design for each of the tags–I just mixed and matched the colors and the paper patterns. I kept the fry boxes very simple by stamping a row of apples at the bottom of each box.

Now it was time to fill the boxes with the fries. After some experimenting, I determined that each box could comfortably hold 8 fries. I was able to make 53 fries from a single recipe, so you could package 5-6 boxes from each recipe, depending on how wide you cut your fry pieces.

Completed fry boxes_1

It really is all about the packaging, isn’t it? By themselves, the apple pie fries are somewhat plain, yet when you dress them up with packaging, they end up looking like gourmet treats!

Here’s a side view of one of the boxes, so that you can see how well they fit in the box:

fry box side view_1

I’m passing along the recipe, in case you’re interested to give these a try: Apple Pie Fries. Stop back by again tomorrow for another apple-themed post. And, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out number the stars.”

-C-