I read two really great books this month. One was a YA sci-fi, and the other was a non-fiction history. Although I fell short of my monthly goal of three books, I’m glad I got to start off the new year with some good reads and delicious drinks.
Winter is the fourth and final installment of The Lunar Chronicles. Princess Winter is the step-daughter of the evil Queen Levana. Winter is arguably much prettier than Levana, something that caused Levana to mar her step-daughter’s face, but the scars only seem to augment Winter’s beauty. Winter is basically a futuristic sci-fi retelling of Snow White, with the other previous three books’ storylines of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel thrown in. With four princesses (more or less), there must be four knights in shining armor, which means there are many ships for your shipping pleasure (and no messy love triangles). If you haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles yet, now is the best time since you won’t be waiting for the next book to be published. (Lucky you!)
When I saw this as a nominee for Goodreads’ 2015 Choice Awards, it had my attention. I had just recently gotten back from studying abroad in Japan, and had visited Nagasaki while I was there. The book follows the stories of five survivors (hibakusha) from before and after the bombing. Similar to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, the book focuses on the human impact of the bombing and what it was like for people to be exposed to high levels of whole body radiation and the intense heat from the bomb. This book helped to put my visit to Nagasaki in perspective, but I still can’t even imagine the amount of destruction and suffering that the bomb caused. Some parts were really difficult to read, considering how graphic they were, but it was a really well written book and didn’t seem to water down anything.
International Delight Microwaveable Hot Cocoa
I’m going to be honest with you, I only bought this because the grocery store was trying to clean it out, so it was on sale for $0.45. It came in half-gallon cartons, like milk, and in either milk or dark chocolate. Basically, it’s hot cocoa ready to go. You pour some in a mug, microwave it for about a minute and enjoy. It was actually pretty good, and made with real milk so it was nice and creamy. Great for a chilly winter day.
School work really caught me off guard this quarter, so that’s why there was a hiatus. Since it’s a few weeks in, I’ve more or less adjusted to the work load, so you can expect more consistent blogging.
Anyway, Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching (it’s only two and half weeks away) and that’s why I’m writing this Valentine’s Day jewelry post. I’ve got a matching bracelet and earring set and another pair of earrings for you to admire and draw inspiration from.
Red Velvet Hearts Set
I fell in love with these beads when I saw them. First of all, they’re fuzzy faux velvet so they’re fun to play with. And second of all they’re big and chunky to make a lovely statement. They’re very lightweight beads, which made them perfect for earrings, and I also really love how they went with the cream colored pearls in the bracelet. Click on the links above to see more pictures.
Hearts and Hoops Earrings
The charms at the bottom of these earrings are actually recycled from some toggle clasps that didn’t quite work. I really liked them, so I didn’t want to just toss them, and so they ended up in some earrings. I framed some dark red and pink Czech glass beads inside some silver-tone hoops and attached the charms to the bottom for dangle. I really like how they turned out. Click on the link above for more pictures.
It’s the second Friday of the month, so that means it’s time for a new Pintertest! This past fall I didn’t have access to an oven, so I went through a baking withdrawal. So I would go on Pinterest and dream about making fall things, and I was bummed that I was missing out on the pumpkin spice craze. I’m making up for it now, though, so that’s why you’re seeing a pumpkin spice recipe at the beginning of January.
Anyway, the author of the recipe responded to comments on her original recipe and made a few tweaks to address an excess moisture problem. I decided to do this post on the updated recipe. She recommends either drying out the pumpkin puree beforehand, or adding half of what it calls for. I decided to cut the pumpkin in half, because drying out the pumpkin sounded like it could get pretty messy. I also added some extra marshmallows because it still seemed a little too runny. It turned out great and they taste wonderful!
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 5 cups mini marshmallows
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 6 cups crispy rice cereal
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. Add pumpkin and spices. Stir until well combined.
- Remove from heat. Fold in the rice cereal until well combined.
- Spread out in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Cover with a piece of wax paper and press into the pan to level it off. (If you cut the recipe in half, use an 8 x 8 pan instead.)
- Allow the treats to cool for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Makes about 24 treats.
This recipe is really quick and simple, and the results are delicious!
In this peppermint fudge, chocolate and peppermint come together in holy matrimony. It’s really simple to make and the results are deliciously dangerous. I got the basics of the recipe off a bag of Kroger mini marshmallows, and put my own peppermint spin on it.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
- 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/3 cup crushed peppermint (Place some candy canes in a bag and use a rolling pin to break them up. Use 1/2 cup if you’d like more.)
- In medium saucepan, bring butter, milk, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat.
- Boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows, chocolate chips, and peppermint extract. Stir vigorously until chocolate and marshmallows are melted.
- Stir in crushed peppermints. (Set a little extra aside if you’d like some on top.)
- Pour into a greased 8 x 8″ pan. Sprinkle any remaining crushed peppermint on top, if desired.
- Refrigerate until firm. Store in an airtight container.