Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#11)

My three books a month goal isn’t looking so great. I’m six books behind, but I’m determined to catch back up. After all, the year is still young and it’s not yet halfway over. In May I’m hoping to read four books to start catching up. Please hold me accountable. Without further ado, here are the books and beverages I enjoyed (sort of) this month.

Books

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

18687376It’s been almost two years since I gave a book a two-star rating on Goodreads. In fact, I almost gave up on this book after I’d read through about a quarter of it. But I didn’t want to set my reading goal any further back, so I drudged on. Honestly, I would’ve given it one star, but the actual story idea was pretty good. Basically, a man is found riddled with bullets floating in the Mediterranean. He’s lost all his memory due to a bullet in his hippocampus (memory center of the brain), but the rest of his brain is intact. Anyway, this piece of microfilm implanted in his hip leads him to a bank in Zurich where he finds out his name is Jason Bourne. Then, he finds out he is somehow involved with Europe’s infamous assassin, Carlos, and a mysterious American organization called Treadstone. He slowly uncovers facts and memories and tries to piece it all together as he’s being hunted down by Carlos.

Anyway, the basic outline has potential for a great novel, but the actual storytelling falls flat on its face. The writing style is so cheesy, I was rolling my eyes every chapter. And in the beginning is a completely unnecessary rape scene, not to mention that this book certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. And the prominent female character, Marie, who becomes Jason’s love interest, is often referred to by other men as “the girl” or “the woman” and not by name. Call me a feminist, but it really started to bug me after the umpteenth time. Anyway, I recommend watching the movie instead. It’s much better than the book, and I don’t say that often.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

20322241The Popsugar 2016 reading challenge calls for a book of poetry and it occurred to me I’d never read this book all the way through. Also, I needed a quick read to boost my Goodreads goal. Some of the poems I distinctly remember from my childhood. Silverstein has this silly whimsical way of writing poetry that’s great for reading to children. Lots of fun rhymes and things that found funny. There’s also cute little illustrations/cartoons that add to the poetry, and some of the poems are dependent on the pictures, so it makes for a cute and fun read. While I was reading it, I kept wondering how he even came up with some of the topics in his poems. Anyway, if you want something fun to read to kids or just something light and silly to keep you trucking along in life, this is a great book to pick up.

Beverages

Protein Hot Chocolate

I just made this the other night. I have a big can of protein powder that I bought for making some breakfast cookies, and I was trying to think of other uses for it. Then it struck me. What if hot cocoa had a little more protein in it and a little less guilt? I added a little powder to the cocoa packet mix and stirred in some hot milk and it wasn’t even that bad! It still tasted like hot cocoa, with a just a hint of protein shake, but not enough to make me gag. Anyway, I’m going to keep trying it out and maybe do a post on it once I’ve got the recipe right.

Bigelow Assorted Herbal Teas

I need variety in my tea. I don’t like to drink the same thing every day. So an assorted tea mix was a perfect choice. Inside the box is chamomile, mint, lemon, orange, pomegranate, and one that’s a mix of chamomile and mint. Without tea, I don’t think I could have made it through The Bourne Identity.

Jewelry

Two Variations on Bar Necklaces

Bar necklaces are a rising trend in jewelry. They’re minimalist, elegant, and versatile. So of course I wanted to have a go at them. I first made what I call a “mock bar necklace” because it’s really just a single strand beaded necklace. After I bought some new supplies, I made an actual bead bar necklace, and I’m planning to make more. (The new supplies are for the new direction I’m planning to take my shop, but that’s another post.)

Both of these designs are fairly simple and could be tackled by beginner/intermediate jewelry maker. Try out your own colors and beads, and you’ll find that the design possibilities for these are endless.

Mock Bar Necklace

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If you don’t have any wire or necklace chain, and aren’t planning on buying any in the future, then I suggest trying out this design. Center your “bead bar” on the strand and fill in the rest with seed beads for the “chain.” Finish it off with some crimps and a clasp. It’s really easy, and would also be great if you’re just starting out with jewelry making. Click here for the Etsy listing.

Neon Bead Bar Necklace

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If you’ve got some wire and chain hanging around, then try out this design, using whatever beads you want. Cut a length of wire a little over half an inch of the length of your beads. Make a simple loop on one end, string your beads on, and finish off with another simple loop. Make sure the beads have a little bit of wiggle room. Next, cut some chain to your desired length, and then cut it in half. With a jump ring, attach one half of the chain to one end of the bar, and repeat for the other end. Attach a clasp to the ends of the chain, and you’re ready to go! Click here for the Etsy listing.

Let me know in the comments how your bar necklaces turn out!

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#10)

February was not a good month for reading and by that I mean that I got nothing read. So I made sure I did in March and I managed to get through two books during this crazy busy month.

Books

The Martian by Andy Weir

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This book is amazing. It’s about an astronaut named Mark Watney who finds himself stranded on Mars after a bad windstorm caused his team to abort their mission. Mark nearly dies in the windstorm, and his team and NASA assume he’s dead. With his resourcefulness and great sense of humor, he starts planning how he can get rescued once he figures out a way to contact Earth. The science in this book is on point and it makes you realize how much of a real-world application all your science classes actually have. It’s an exciting read, and some parts had me on the edge of my seat so bad that I didn’t want to turn the page because I was scared of how bad it could get. Just when things get comfortable, Weir throws in some obstacle that Mark has to figure out how to conquer. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m really excited to see how they adapted it since it was up for so many Oscars. And Matt Damon.

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

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This books takes place in Middle Earth, and it basically gives you Middle Earth’s creation story and the mythology surrounding it. It makes sense of those references in The Lord of the Rings to the history and lore of Middle Earth, and explains where most of the races come from. It also has a couple chapters in the end about the Rings of Power and gives more insight on that. I recommend reading it after The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings because it does contain a few spoilers in the Rings of Power chapters. Also, since it focuses more on the lore, it’s a bit more dense and not as exciting as the those two books. It’s a very worthwhile read if you want to be a hardcore LOTR fan or just want some more knowledge regarding Tolkien’s world.

Beverages

Starbucks Cherry Blossom Frappuccino

When I first heard the name for this, I got excited. Then I read a description of the drink and found that it’s made out of strawberries and cream, white chocolate, and some matcha. Since they were offering it only a few days, I figured I should try it. It was good, but it tasted like a sweeter version of the strawberries and cream.

Starbucks Caramelized Honey Latte

When I was in Japan, I would go to Tully’s every week and get a honey milk latte. When I came back to America and asked a barista at Starbucks to make me a honey milk latte (I was hoping it might be like a secret menu thing) she looked at me blankly and wondered if putting a few honey packets in a  regular latte would suffice. It wasn’t the same, but I appreciated the effort. Then Starbucks came out with this caramelized honey latte and I thought finally someone had heard my cry. So I tried it. And it wasn’t anything like Tully’s in Japan. It’s really sweet and reminds me of so many of Starbucks other latte flavors, so it’s not a unique taste. I guess I’ll give them and A for effort.

Baking

Pintertest #6: Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

I had a good laugh when I realized what the acronym for the name of this pie is. I’ll let you figure it out. Anyway, the acronym is the opposite of what this pie tastes like (or at least I imagine it to be; I’ve never tasted the acronym before). If you’re a fan of cinnamon or sweet things, then this is definitely a recipe for you.

This recipe has been going around on Pinterest for a long time, and the recipe I used is here. The basic idea is that instead of a normal crust, you roll out some pie dough, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, tightly roll it up, slice it, and press the slices into the bottom of a pie dish. The squished pie dough rolls resemble cinnamon rolls and it’s very pretty. It’s recommended you use a glass pie dish, so that you can see the pretty rolls from the outside and impress all your friends.

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The crust after getting an egg wash. (I may have eaten a couple of the little pie dough rolls…)

You then fill the crust with a cinnamon and apple mixture (the recipe I used calls for both honeycrisp and granny smith, but you can use whatever apples you like). You top it all off with a brown sugar crumble mixture and throw it (gently) into the oven for an hour. After it’s cooled, you drizzle it with some cinnamon icing in a swirl to make it look like a cinnamon roll. Then you slice it up and serve with some vanilla ice cream. Yum!

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The finished pie. It’s a lot taller than the one pictured in the original recipe, but I think I used too many apples by accident. Oops.

Here’s the link again if you want to try out the recipe yourself. Make sure you use 7-8 cups of apples, not 7-8 apples. I did that, and I think that might be why mine turned out so tall.

Where Have I Been?

I think it’s been about a month since my last post and I can explain. March was crazy. I intended this post to go up the Friday before Pi Day, but that clearly didn’t happen. I got slammed with homework and that took priority over blogging. Then, before I knew it, it was time for finals, so studying became the priority. Now, as I start a new quarter and start taking my Etsy shop a bit more seriously, I’m finding that my days are filled yet again. I’m slowly figuring things out, though, and I’m going to find some time for blogging in all this chaos. I might have to scale it down to one post a week, but I’ll see how everything plays out before making a final decision on that. If you’ve been wondering about Books and Beverages, I didn’t actually read anything in February, but March’s post will be up tomorrow, so stay tuned!