Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#4)

I had trouble finding time to read this past month, but I managed to read two books. It’s also been quite warm where I live, so I’ve been drinking lots of cold beverages while I sit out in a nice shady spot and read.

Books

My Book of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt

This book is written in verse and is based on a true story of a man who was accused of murdering sex workers in Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s told from the point of view of a girl named Angel, whose mother has recently died. She starts stealing shoes from the mall and meets a man named Call who gives her “candy” that makes her feel like she can fly. She goes home one day high on this “candy” and her father basically kicks her to the curb. She goes to Call, who turns out to be a pimp, and she works for him as a prostitute. One day a friend of hers goes missing and she learns about other girls who have gone missing and never return and about a man named Mr. P who might be involved with the disappearances. Call hires a new girl who is only eleven and tells Angel to teach her the ropes. Angel refuses, saying that the girl is too young. Angel finds a purpose in this girl and tries desperately to get her out before it’s too late. I enjoyed this book and since it’s written in verse, it reads very quickly. I also thought that poetry was the best medium for such a dark story and that it would have been much different written in prose and not as effective.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I had tried to read this once before when I was in my Twilight phase, but couldn’t get past the way it was written. It’s written as though you’re reading someone’s diary. I found the first half of this to be rather slow and there were a lot of journal entries that I couldn’t figure out why the author had chosen to include them since they seemed unrelated. First, we are introduced to Dracula through the point of view of Jonathan Harker. Then it switches and follows the story of Jonathan’s fiance, Mina, and her friend, Lucy. There are also some news stories that are included that seem unrelated to the story. However, when Dr. Van Helsing enters the scene to help Lucy who has fallen ill, things get interesting. Finally things start to come together and make sense and the book is much more interesting after that point. Sometimes, though, it seems as though the characters are rather stupid and you wonder why they aren’t picking up on these things that they’re writing in their diaries.

Beverages

Luzianne Sweet Tea
If you’ve never heard the term sweet tea before, it’s just sweetened iced tea. Anyway, Luzianne tea leaves make the best and I’ve been drinking it a lot since it’s been hot.

Starbucks Frappuccinos
Just writing about this makes me feel really white, but I love to treat myself occasionally to a Frappuccino. Last summer, they had a flavor called mocha cookie crumble, but they discontinued it. That was one of my faves, but oh well. I have yet to try their fan flavors. I’m worried that some of them may be a little too sweet for me. I’ve also been trying to make my own Frappuccinos at home, but so far I can’t get them quite right. I might do a post on it if I finally figure it out, so look out for one of those maybe.

Bonus Blog · Books and Beverages

Gadgets for Books and Beverages

LED Reading Light and Tea Buddy

I wanted to lump these in with my last Books and Beverages post, but it would have made it a bit too long. So here they are in their own little bonus blog.

LED Reading Light (Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 Light)

I bought this for my trip to Hawaii, in case I wanted to read at night while my friend slept in the same room so that I wouldn’t keep her up with a bright light. It worked out well, and I even use it at home in the hopes that less light won’t prevent me from sleeping (melatonin and all that). The light has three settings, bright, less bright, and off. The less bright setting is still pretty bright, but doesn’t use up the battery as quickly.You can even buy an adapter separately if you don’t like using batteries. To use the light, you clamp it down to a bunch of pages, or the back cover for hardback books. It doesn’t mar the pages and stretches far enough up that it doesn’t get in the way of page flipping. I really like it and it can also serve as a flashlight. It’s pretty compact and can even stand on its own. Makes a great gift for book lovers and I think it would be great for in a dorm room. It comes in several different colors.

Tea Bag Buddy (Primula Tea Bag Buddy)

This thing is great. I use it mostly to put on top of my mug so that my tea doesn’t go cold as quickly. (So when I get distracted by a good book, my tea is still fairly warm.) It’s also great for holding the tea bag string so that it won’t drip tea down the side of the mug while steeping. On the packaging it shows that you can also use it to squeeze the last drop out of the tea bag, and as a place to set your tea bag down. It comes in pink, green, and white and is made from silicone. It’s pretty great, and I’ve had mine for over a year, so it’s pretty long-lasting too. And it’s easy to clean; you just need to give it a good rinse. It works best with tea bags with strings, but can still be used to keep your tea warm with string-less bags and loose leaf teas. Great for tea lovers.

Baking

Delicious Berry Smoothies

Okay, okay, this isn’t technically a baked good, but it is sweet and yummy like one. And since it’s summer, you really can’t go wrong with a delicious cold drink. The recipe below makes one 16 fl. oz. smoothie, so double it if you’d like to make smoothies for two.

You Will Need:

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries (Any berries or berry mix of your choice – I used fresh raspberries.)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular yogurt, whatever you prefer.)
  • 1/2 cup white grape juice (Use more or less depending on your desired thickness.)
  • Ice cubes

Directions:

Combine ingredients in blender and blend at high speed for 30-45 seconds or until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

I love the color of this smoothie. I used only raspberries and it came out this pretty shade of pink.
I love the color of this smoothie. I used only raspberries and it came out this pretty shade of pink.

That’s all there is to it! I love smoothies because they’re nutritious and delicious and can really hit the spot on a hot day.

Usually on Fridays I blog about baked goods, but I really couldn’t resist sharing my simple smoothie recipe with you. Next Friday will be baked goods, I promise. TTFN, ta ta for now!

Baking

Pintertest #1: Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a new type of baking post that I’ve been talking about doing for a little while. I settled on the name that Yvette suggested, Pintertesting. I believe that those odd yet creative recipes on Pinterest need testing and someone needs to test them to make sure they actually work. There won’t be pictures of all the steps of the recipes in these posts, but they will focus more on the end product.

I was skeptical about these Rolo stuffed cookies, so I decided to make them to see if it worked. It took me a little while to click all the links to find the original post, which is here. You can also view the original recipe there as well, but I’m not going to post it here since someone already has on their blog.

My Thoughts

I have only a few minor complaints about this recipe. It makes way more than 30 cookies, in fact it makes about 48. When I made these, I halved the recipe because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with 4 dozen cookies. My second complaint is that it says to preheat your oven at the beginning, but then in the middle of the directions it says to freeze the cookie dough balls for 15-20 minutes. So I preheated my oven when I put them in the freezer to avoid the oven being on unnecessarily.

I put the Rolo-stuffed dough balls all together in a loaf pan. They didn't stick too badly and fit into my freezer better.
I put the Rolo-stuffed dough balls all together in a loaf pan. They didn’t stick too badly and fit into my freezer better.

The good news is that the cookies were delicious. They come out and they’re all gooey and warm and chocolate gets everywhere. Then there’s the little caramel-y Rolo surprise in the middle. I made these with the optional pecans, which go great with the chocolate and caramel.

So gooey and delicious. This recipe is well worth trying out.
So gooey and delicious. This recipe is well worth trying out.

I imagine you could also make these with store-bought cookie dough if you don’t feel like making the dough from scratch.

If you want to see what other recipes may be appearing in future Pintertest posts, check out the sidebar where there’s a link to the Pinterest board, which is a collaboration between me and Yvette. If you know of any other recipes on Pinterest that look skeptical, let me know and maybe it’ll appear in the next Pintertest post.

Jewelry

How to Make Eyeglass Chains

Learning how to make and repair eyeglass chains was one of the catalysts of my beading hobby. My mom kept having to buy eyeglass chains because they kept breaking and we little idea of how to fix them. I went online to look up how to repair them, and like any online search I was inundated with information that I wasn’t really looking for. Somehow I stumbled upon some ArtBeads tutorial videos on YouTube and started learning the basics of beading and jewelry making. I was determined to make some eyeglass chains that would last longer than their store-bought counterparts, and I succeeded; my mom has had the pair I made her for several years, although they have needed a few minor repairs here and there. Another bonus is that hers are the colors of the New Orleans Saints, her favorite football team.

These make great unique gifts for all those people who complain about misplacing their glasses. They’ll be able to wear their glasses in another way and always know where they are. However, some people might feel old by receiving this gift, so give with caution.

How to make eyeglass chains

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you my basic formula for making durable and pretty eyeglass chains. I derived this basic formula from another set of eyeglass chains, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.

Supplies:

Step 1:

Open a jump ring and attach an eyeglass grip. Close the ring. Repeat for the other grip.
Open a jump ring with the pliers and attach an eyeglass grip. Close the ring. Repeat for the other grip.

Step 2: String a crimp bead, jump ring with attached grip, and string back through the crimp bead. Crimp using the crimping tool and attach an optional crimp cover.

Step 3:

Line up the crimp bead with the 12
Line up the crimp bead with the 12″ mark on your beading board. String seed beads until you reach the 10″ mark. String a larger bead, and then more seed beads until you reach the 9″ mark. String another larger bead and then more seed beads until you reach the 8″ mark. String another larger bead.

Step 4:

Continue stringing beads until you reach just before the 8
Continue stringing beads until you reach just before the 8″ mark on the other side. Repeat the pattern in Step 3 in reverse. Make sure your larger beads line up on either side.

Step 5: Continue stringing seed beads until you reach just before the 12″ mark. String a crimp bead, jump ring with attached grip, go back through the crimp bead and a few more beads. Crimp, and attach the last optional crimp cover. Trim any excess wire.

Finished Product

I used oval jump rings for this because I found that the wire tends to slip out of the gap in the oval jump ring less than with a normal jump ring. I also used a pre-made seed bead mix, which can save a lot of time and grief, but you’re welcome to make your own if that makes you happy. I’ve made two other designs which I’ve included below.

Goldstone Eyeglass Chain

How to make eyeglass chains

Seahawks Themed Eyeglass Chains

How to make eyeglass chains

Black and White Eyeglass Chains

DSCN1536

Pink and Gold Eyeglass Chains

pgec2

 

Baking

Alton Brown’s Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been craving some good blueberry muffins for whatever reason, so I turned to Google to look for a recipe. One by Alton Brown popped up, and I figured I’d give it a go since he’s never steered me wrong before. They came out great and already more than half of them are gone since I made them this morning. Alton made these in an episode of Good Eats, which is probably the best cooking show that ever was and will be. Here’s a link to the recipe.

Alton Brown's Blueberry Muffins

You Will Need:

  • 12-1/2 oz of cake flour, measured in weight (It’s about 2-3/4 cups, but the weight will give you the more accurate measurement.)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Heavy pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup yogurt (I used plain nonfat yogurt, not Greek yogurt.)
  • 1-1/2 up fresh blueberries
  • Non-stick cooking spray (If you aren’t using paper liners in your muffin tin.)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 380°F. (Why? Check out this video in which Alton makes this recipe.) Coat your muffin tin with non-stick spray if necessary. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in large bowl.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg, and yogurt. (Do not use a mixer.)

Step 2

Step 3: Rinse the blueberries and remove any remaining stems. Take a tablespoon of the flour mixture and toss it together with the berries. (It will help the berries stick to the batter and hold them in place so they don’t sink to the bottom during baking.)

Step 3

Step 4: Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and stir for a slow count of 10. Stop stirring and add a cup of the berries to the batter. Stir 3 more times. Do not over-stir.

Step 4

Step 5: Use a #20 ice cream scoop to drop the batter into the tins. (I used just a regular spoon since I don’t own a #20 scoop. I filled the tins all the way to the top and still had a little batter leftover for eating.) Sprinkle the remaining berries on top of the muffins and press down gently. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step.)

Step 6: Place them in the oven and set it to 400°F. (Why? Again, check out the video. Alton explains it much better than I could.) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, turning the pan halfway through the baking. Eat ASAP while they’re still warm for best results. Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Step 6

Usually, I post every Tuesday and Friday with some random bonus blogs thrown in there. However, I’ve been slacking off in my Tuesday jewelry posts lately. My goal is to have one for you this coming Tuesday, so keep your eyes peeled.

Nutrition Info:
Serving Size:
1 muffin
Calories: 270
Fat:
9.8 g
Saturated: 0.8 g
Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol:
15.8 mg
Sodium:
154 mg
Carbs:
43 g
Fiber:
0.5 g
Sugar:
19.2 g
Protein:
4.5 g
Vitamin A:
1.5%
Vitamin C:
3.0%
Calcium:
3.4%
Iron:
7.9%