Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#12)

I read three books this month, including the first books of two trilogies, Mistborn and Red Rising. Coincidently, all the books this month were about oppression. That made for some interesting comparisons to see how different authors handle that theme. I also gave in to social media pressure when it came to beverages this month.

Books

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

68428The world that Sanderson created is a desolate place ruled by an all-powerful tyrant, the Lord Ruler, who claims he’s a god. During the day, ash falls from the sky, and at night the eerie mists covers the land and the stars. There are two classes in their society, the nobility and the skaa (peasants). Most of the nobility are very harsh on their skaa workers to keep them in check to quell any rebellious feelings. The Lord Ruler keeps the nobility in check with his obligators and Inquisitors, and to make sure that they don’t have any bastard children with the skaa. In the nobility bloodline is a power called Allomancy, which allows a person to draw specific powers from different metals. Kelsier, a thief and survivor of the mysterious Pits of Hathsin, is an Allomancer. He gathers a team of other Allomancers and an apprentice and together they plot to overthrow the Lord Ruler, who has been in power for thousands of years.

It’s a really good read, and although it’s long, it’s well paced, so it reads pretty quickly. It has pretty much everything you could want out of an epic fantasy, including world building, epic fight scenes, and magical metal powers that remind me of Magneto.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

15839976In the future, we have outgrown our planet Earth and are in need of a new place to live. Darrow is part of the lowest class, the Reds, in this new society. The Reds are preparing Mars so that future generations will be able to live there. His wife, Eo, has always dreamed of a world where her children don’t have to work under the surface of Mars, mining the resources necessary for habitation. Soon, however, Darrow learns that humans have been living on the surface of Mars for decades and that the Reds have been lied to all along. He wants to fulfill his wife’s dream, so he becomes a part of a plan to infiltrate and bring down the ruling class, the Golds. He gets into the Institution, which is basically the Gold college where they learn how to rule and stuff. There, he is set up to fight his classmates until one comes out on top.

This was a very exciting read, and the class system is a lot more complex than that of Mistborn. However, I would have appreciated more world building in the beginning to learn more about the Reds. Also, the game where the classmates fight each other was an interesting combination of Hunger Games and Percy Jackson, so if you like either of those series, you should pick up a copy of Red Rising.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

16058610It’s the summer of 1963 in Cayuga Springs, Mississippi, and nine-year-old Starla Claudelle is on her best behavior so that her Mamie will let her go to the Fourth of July celebration in town. But, when she punches the neighborhood bully in the nose, she gets put on restriction. She sneaks out to the parade anyway, but gets caught. She runs away, scared that Mamie is going to send her to reform school. Starla meets a black woman who offers to take her to Nashville, where Starla’s mom is trying to make it as a singer. Starla is confident that her mother will want her, and that her daddy will come to live with them too and they’ll be one happy family. However, Starla encounters several bumps on the road and learns about the oppressive segregation going on in the South as she travels with Eula.

This book reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird in several ways, but it’s also very different. It’s a coming-of-age story and delves into the dream vs. reality theme.

Beverages

Chai Tea

I don’t know what it was, but I had this craving for chai tea with cream and sugar. I’d only had chai tea once before when I was in Japan, so I had to go out to the store and get me some tea bags. Chai tea is really nice on rainy days. I’ll have to try iced chai tea when the weather’s right.

#PinkDrink

IMG_1270I was skeptical of the pink drink at first, but considering it’s on Starbucks “secret” menu, and not some half-baked seasonal drink idea (Remember the Cherry Blossom Frappuccino?), I figured I’d give it a go. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s not really all that secret. It’s a Starbucks strawberry acai refresher with coconut milk instead of water. It was actually pretty good, and did have that beautiful pink color that Instagram is going nuts over. My one complaint is that my drink was definitely more ice than drink and it was gone in a flash.

Baking

Pintertest #7: Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos)

I was first introduced to the concept of totchos by Yvette, and we decided we’d make them for our Memorial Day weekend celebration. The celebration began last year when we made turkey gravy and watched Thor: The Dark World. We amped it up this year with totchos, turkey gravy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Agents of SHIELD (which I’m still crying over.)

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Anyway, we found this pretty simple recipe on Pinterest for the totchos, and since we baked it in the oven, that classifies it as a baked good and therefore a post for this blog. We didn’t opt in on some of the toppings, but we did add some fresh avocado. The recipe I’m about to share is our edited version, and you can find the original recipe here. It’s such a brilliant idea, combining tater tots and nachos.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of frozen tater tots (32 oz.)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheese (4-8 oz)
  • Sour cream
  • Pico de gallo
  • Diced avocado

Directions

  1. Follow the directions on your package of tater tots for the baked version.
  2. While your tater babies are in the oven, brown and crumble the ground beef, then season according to the directions on the taco seasoning packet.
  3. When the tots are done, take them out of the oven, but leave the oven on. On top of the tots, layer with cheese, beef, and more cheese. Put back in the oven for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  4. Serve up some totchos, and top with sour cream, pico de gallo, fresh avocado, and cheese. (We found that by cutting the avocado halves in a grid pattern, and then gently squeezing them, made for an easy way to get the diced avocado out of the skin.)
  5. Optional: Go back for seconds.
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Melted cheese action.

These totchos really enhanced our Ferris Bueller and Agents of SHIELD viewing experience. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. It’s super easy, and super delicious.

Jewelry

A New Direction

After a lot of researching and pondering, I came to the conclusion that it’s time for a change for Yellow Raspberry Jewelry. This was back in early March, and I’ve slowly been making changes while I’ve been going to college. In fact, some of those changes have spilled over into this blog, but rest assured, the content will remain the same.

If you’ve noticed, minimalism is one of the latest rising jewelry trends. If you’ve also noticed, a lot of my items do not fit under the minimalist category. At first I thought about going into bead bar necklaces and gemstone wire wrapped hoop earrings, but there’s a lot of competition for that out there already. I’d need to come up with something else.

I read an article about a girl who opened her Etsy shop while she was in high school and over three years made about $100,000 in sales. After a week of her beaded macrame bracelets not selling, she switched to wire wrapping instead, and I think I’ll let the 100 grand tell the rest of that story.

Anyway, this is what inspired me to look into wire worked jewelry. I discovered that there wasn’t as much competition for wire worked necklaces, as in a wire bent into a simple shape, such as a zodiac sign. And it also works with the new minimalist trend, so it seemed like the perfect idea. But, in order to sell them, I knew they were going to need to be made with sterling and other precious metals. My plan is to branch out into gold filled in the future, but I started off with sterling because precious metals are not cheap. Also, if they end up not becoming the hit like I think they will, then I won’t have spent too much.

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So far, they seem to be doing pretty well. I have ten out of twelve zodiac signs in my shop, and I’m hoping to have the rest up within a week or two. Plus, I’m trying to clear out my old inventory, so a lot of my items are on clearance for 40% off. Several clearance items have been featured in this blog, so if you’ve had your eye on something, the time has never been better. I’ve also been working on branding, and more changes will be coming soon. I even have an Instagram account for my store, which I recommend checking out: @yellowraspberryjewelry.

I guess the moral of this story is don’t be afraid to change directions with your business!