Top 10 Favorite Things Right Now

Good morning! 

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I admit and apologize for being negligent, as the end of the trimester found me extremely busy, and hadn’t much time to write (or read, for that matter). Solutions come over break! Today is pie-baking day, and I have some time to pump out posts when those beauties are in the oven. None in yet, but they will be soon. 

Anyways, as a “warm-up post” since I haven’t written in a while, I thought I’d do a Top 10. Favorite Things Right Now. I did one of these in what, June? I think it was June. You can find it here (or here was the one right after it). I like those posts a lot. Maybe it’s because they’re really fun to write, and I kept seeing them on some of my favorite blogs in my absence. And so I present my own. 

1. PIES! 

I am making six or more pies today. I think it will be seven because one recipe makes a double. For a sneak-peek of my choices, I’m making one of these (which have amazing pictures), one of these, and one of these for my neighbors. Excited for a day of baking ahead. 

2. The Best American Nonrequired Reading

My (I don’t know how to describe the subject) teacher sent me something related to Ray Bradbury, and the quote was from the 2012 version of this. I really want to look it over, as it seems very interesting from the first glance. 

3. Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street

I just started this the other day. It is the first book for me ever that I am fully committing to writing in the actual margins. Post-its are typically my thinking vehicle (fueled by my English teacher last year), so it is really weird for me to pick up a pencil and start writing in the book. I like it, though, and the book itself is awesome and quirky and I will post a review when I finish (which hopefully will be pretty soon). 

4. These cookies.

I am hoping an opportunity will pop up in the near future for me to make these (though I am making Christina Tosi’s cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies on Sunday– which brings me to #5….). 

5. Christina Tosi!

A newly-discovered role model of mine. She kicks some pastry butt. Tough as nails, endlessly innovative, and a driving force (if not THE driving force) behind super-cool Momofuku Milk Bar. I got the cookbook (thank you, Dad!) as a present while up at school; I cannot wait to start experimenting!

Image

 

6. Holiday planning. 

I am already looking at cookies and wrapping paper. Is that a bad thing? I hope not. I have too many cookie recipes and ideas for that. I like being very much in control far in advance, so planning holiday cookies before Thanksgiving is over? Maybe not normal, but it will keep me a little more sane. 

7. Fujifilm X10

Image

 

My friend has this camera and I’ve fallen in love with it. Definitely on the “potential presents for myself” list (along with the smaller things that are this and this and this). 

8. The Literary Gift Company

One of my favorite online gift sellers. Their stuff has book charm without being too kitschy sometimes, and it is very fun to browse. 

9. Book Arts

This is an awesome activity I’m taking where you make new books/notebooks! Sometimes out of other books (the library has this fantastic free book bin- need to scour on a daily basis). Sometimes from scratch. I will definitely post pictures later. It is a wonderful way to relax, make new notebooks, look at really cool things other people make…. And I have a great instructor, which helps. 

10. The Vanilla Bean Blog

Image

 

I have fallen in love with this blog big time. I had seen the name before but not explored until recently- and I was so happy I did! The recipes are original and beautiful, and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Be sure to check it out if you have time. 

That’s all for now, folks. I’m off to bake some pies!

-Nicole

Advertisements

Blast from the Past: Wuthering Heights

Hello all-

I should be doing work instead of writing this, so I will keep it pretty quick. Here is a “Blast from the Past” old review of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights from last year. 

—————

Nic’s Review: Wuthering Heights

 

                  It was originally my dad who told me to read classics. He knew I was beyond the beach-read teen fiction I’d mainly done over the summer. So, when school started up again, I picked Wuthering Heights as my first fiction book. I’d owned a copy for years, for whatever reason, having heard of it here and there. And the book had sat dormant on my crowded bookshelf. Then I dove into it.

                  The first couple of days were a bit hard, I’ll admit. The switching of narratives was confusing; it made me rethink passages several times to clear things up. But eventually everything fell into place, and the book started making sense. That doesn’t mean I’ll say I love it.

                  My favorite character was Heathcliff, his mystery and intrigue was incredibly addicting. His interactions were always the best to read, to try to decipher. Plus, I’d recently read Julie and Julia where Julie Powell refers to her brother as Heathcliff. I didn’t get there reference then, but it makes so much sense and fun now. I thought Catherine, the first one, was insipid and just created a tiresome love triangle. I was glad that she and Edward ended up together due to the fact that he’s more constant for her. I will admit that I was kind of sad that she died.

                  The settings of the book are absolutely amazing. And I don’t say that lightly. I’ve read plenty of books, and a great setting really makes it. Wuthering Heights’ dark, sharp, protruding sense, even in the English countryside, fit with the vibe and gave me a clearer picture. Thrushcross Grange, in my mind, seemed the opposite: an airy house that blended in easily with the rollicking moors. The difference between the two exaggerated Bronte’s point in a fantastic way about how different the two lives were; each unique and hard. I loved it.

                  However, the plot was not so up-to-par. While acknowledging that this is a classic romance novel, the whole love triangle thing got a bit boring after a while. Okay, so Catherine is married to Edgar but loves Heathcliff, and wants to be with him but loves Edgar too and wants to keep living at the Grange and yet still at the Heights; I could go on. And on. And on. And on. That’s just how the story works. If you go in prepared for that, then you’ll probably like it a bit more. Overall, the plot was based off of a love triangle, then its following generation and a string of deaths along the way. This basically leaves you with long descriptions by a faithful narrator, Nelly Dean, and a slew of dialogue.

                  Wuthering Heights is for sure a classic worth reading. Bronte’s take on a dramatic love life is one that’s helpful for your own. Now I know not to get bitten by a dog so I have to stay with a family for five weeks. I also know not to fall in love with an adoptive brother, and that isolation can drive even the deepest love crazy. The words of the time came to life, and I now know a whole string of old English vocab. Though I probably won’t refer to my sister as a “bonny lass,” the thing’s good to know for future readings. I give Wuthering Heights three and a half stars, since it’s got some charm, especially in setting, but beware of tough accents (I’m saying Joseph here) and a winding plot. It’s a love story for the one who wants to learn English literature. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.

——————-

I would still probably give Wuthering Heights three and a half or four stars now. I think I appreciate this one more in retrospect. It’s a good rainy day book since it’s a rainy, gray day here today too. Plus this is one that whatever library you use will almost certainly have (if you’re a library person like me). It’s also referred to in other things you may come across (ie Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia where she compares her brother to Heathcliff, which is so hilarious once you know the reference). So it’s a good reference book.

Have fun! Read good books!

Nicole

The World’s Weirdest Cupcakes (AKA How I Have a Good Weekend)

Image

Hi all-

I hope you can infer by the title of this post (which is kind of strange in itself) that I had a good weekend. I certainly did. Especially Sunday, which was pretty nice and relaxing. I went to and played in a soccer game, which our team won, winning the championships. I got back on campus and toasted pumpkin seeds. Then took a trip with a friend into town. I bought goodies pictured above. 

Then, after coming back, working for a little while, and going to dinner, I made cupcakes. They tasted pretty much like normal cupcakes. Except there was one surprise ingredient. You could never guess what it was from eating it, but here are some clues-

1. A health food thing. 

2. Brown. 

3. Small. 

4. My dad sent me a whole box of them because I’d wanted to try them in the first place, though I don’t have many (or any) uses for them here. 

Do you know? Probably not. You wanna see what they looked like?

Image

You still can’t guess, I know.

I’ll tell you.

Flax seeds. Yup. I put flax seeds in cupcakes.

You couldn’t taste them at all. And if anything, you could kinda see them, and while warm, there was a slight nuttiness to the cakes that you don’t normally get with chocolate cake mix. 

Do you want to try this? Put about a quarter to a half a cup of flax seeds into a box of cake mix. (Side note: I hate cake mix and I’m only using it because of the circumstances.) Add slightly more than that amount of chopped mini Halloween candy bars (I also hate Halloween, and these cupcakes were to thank a friend who made it awesome for me this year. Thanks Amelia!). Bake. Frost with frosting. Put a Hershey’s Kiss on top (unwrapped, of course). Eat.

If you do not own paper cupcake liners, it’s probably not a good idea to make these just in your cupcake pan. I found this out last night. If that happens to you and they stick and come out all warped, put them in a bowl, crumble with frosting until pretty moist, then form balls or flatten the mixture. Refrigerate. Preferably overnight. You could potentially freeze it too. Then cut into squares and you can eat it that way and it’ll taste awesome and be cooler than a destroyed cupcake. And all the candy stuff kinda sinks to the bottom, so definitely opt for this instead of trying to salvage the awkward cupcakes.

So I made some weird cupcakes, I took a trip into town, and I worked on an essay and a project. Of which I should do more of now and not write. I will post quotes later this week, maybe tomorrow. 

Hope your weekend went swell! Read lots of good books (some of which I will review in the near future)!

Nicole

In my absence…

Hello. 

Image

 

I thought I would surprise you with the simplicity and glory of this egg. I am feeling quite random tonight, but that isn’t a bad thing. And because I have this weird spare energy, I am going to share with you why I haven’t been blogging so much. 

I am busy. There’s this thing called school that I have to attend. So that means I have work to do attached to that to do in my spare time. So as much as I would love to spend most all of it reading (and baking and peer tutoring and experimenting badly with photography and playing Bananagrams) I have homework to complete and essays to write. 

I apologize that this means that there aren’t many posts, or that the quotes are not week-by-week as they’re supposed to be. I apologize that I haven’t been making every effort to post ASAP, and even though I love schoolwork, it’s still a lot in my way from doing exactly what I want all of the time. 

I have a bit of time tomorrow. I hope to write book reviews tomorrow and make some cupcakes and win soccer championships (YAY!) so I have a full day ahead. 

Enjoy your busy lives, readers, and I will try to enjoy mine to its fullest, so I can read more and thus be a better writer/blogger/reviewer. 

All the best (books to read, that is),

Nicole