Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas Book Haul

I was lucky enough to receive a few books over the Christmas holidays. I made a quick video to tell you what I got and a little about them. Take a look and tell me if you've read or want to read any of them. I'll also leave a list of the books below.

1) The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R Tolkien
2) The Fall of Arthur - J.R.R Tolkien
3) Every Day - David Levithan
4) Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - David Levithan/Rachel Cohn
5) I Wrote This For You
6) More Than This - Patrick Ness
7) The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
8) Rivers of London - Ben Aaranovitch
9) Temeraire - Naomi Novik
10) Living Dead Girl - Elizabeth Scott
11) Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Friday, 27 December 2013

Holy Crêpe!: Profiteroles

It is no secret, to anyone who knows me, that I love to bake. So if you stick around you should expect to see the occasional post about when I have been let loose into the kitchen. The most recent trip saw me make profiteroles for the first time.

Click here for the recipe

I had never made any type of pastry before so this really was a first for me. Choux pastry end up looking like a paste and I found that you needed quite a bit of patience when waiting for it to come out of the piping bag.

Learn from my mistakes! Make sure you keep a decent amount of space in between each dollop of pastry on the sheet otherwise the dollops will combine to make a choux pastry monstrosity. Also try and make sure they are uniform in size so that your tower doesn't look lopsided.

The recipe has a lemon filling however I tried to make this and it just turned out wrong. It was thick and dense and I actually broke my piping bag when I tried to fill the pastry with it. So I ditched the recipe at that point at was left with filling-less profiteroles and a hungry family.

After some quick thinking on my Mam's part we ended up filling them with squirty cream. I was slightly over ambitious with how much I could get in a few of them and had cream oozing out of them but that was not a problem. The profiteroles were then dipped in chocolate and put in the fridge to set.

I think we probably left them in there a little too long because when we got them out and tried to pull them apart we did find that they were stuck together and pulling at them was tearing the pastry and leaving cream everywhere.

From start to finish this was a disastrous bake but it had a delicious end result. Let me know if you make these and have more success than I did.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Let It Snow - Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle

Title: Let It Snow - John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Penguin UK
Series: N/A
Service: Own
Release Date: 05/09/2013
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback


Buy || Goodreads

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicoloured lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town in a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today's bestselling teen authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle - the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses. 

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Why do you say that?

I was gifted Let It Snow by my Mum who thought I would enjoy a holiday read. It's a book containing three holiday romances each penned by a different author. The stories are all linked, showcasing characters right from the beginning the whole way through. I really loved this aspect of the book because I felt it was easier to read rather than a compilation of different stories set in different places with entirely different people. 

Overall I thought the book started off strong but got a little weaker towards the end. I think that was more because of the character the last section of the book focuses on. I find it hard to read a book when I cannot connect with a character or when I dislike them. I would recommend Let It Snow for anyone that is looking for something that will fill them with holiday spirit. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Prompt & Circumstance: Christmas Lights

It’s dark. Darker than it should be at 5 PM. And I am being jostled and bumped as I grip my little sister’s hand and push my way through the crowd. My parents have played the guilt card and whilst they stay at home and keep warm in front of the fire, I have drawn the short straw and have had to come out to witness the Christmas lights being turned on. ‘After all, you don’t get to spend much time with Becca these days.’ As if that’s a choice that I could help. I picked the university best for me, it just so happened to be the other end of the country.

A lot of people think the gap between me and my sister is weird. There is a clear 13 years between us. Becca was a surprise child (or accident if you want to be cynical). I love my sister but I hate being out with her because people look at me as if I am her mother. Some give me that pitying look and other disapproving and I just want to yell, ‘Not my kid! Just my sister.’ But instead I bite my tongue and just pull her along.

I manage to pull us out to the edge of the street. I put Becca in front of me and keep my hands on her shoulders. I know she wouldn’t wander off somewhere but at least this way I’ve covered my own back. There are lots of families around us and the noise level is almost unbearable. Our town is usually pretty sleepy but it feels like every single person has come out to see the lights being switched on. I’m not even sure why. The local council hasn’t changed them in years. They are the same crappy light fixtures that are hanging from the street lights and shop fronts as when I was a child.

I shuffle my feet slightly trying to keep myself warm. Becca is bouncing up and down herself but whether from excitement or cold I cannot tell. A guy with a tray of flashing lights comes down the street and Bec turns to me with her big blue eyes. “Jade, please can I get one. Please.” She is pulling at my arm and although I think it’s a waste of money I can’t say no. “Sure, Beccs.” I rummage in the pocket of my skinny jeans and pull out a fiver that has seen better days. I flag down the vendor and Becca picks out the gadget she likes the best, a spinning monstrosity of bright greens, reds and blues.

No sooner has she got it in her hand and is waving it around there is a burst of music from the stage that has been erected opposite us. The crowd around us erupts into cheers and my sister begins to jump up and down. Even I crane my neck and look down the end of the street as the parade begins. The black tarmac of the road becomes a catwalk for the floats that are sponsored by local businesses.

Father Christmas brings up the rear of the parade throwing out the bitesize chocolates you get from Celebrations tubs and children are restrained by their parents and guardians to stop them running onto the road. He heaves himself off the float and onto the stage where the mayor also stands with is chain hanging around his neck. He gives the usual speech, telling us all to be safe and to enjoy the Christmas season and how he is proud to spend another Christmas being mayor of this fine town. Then the countdown begins.

Becca grips my hand with the strength of a vice as we start at ten. With each number she hops up and down on the spot and jolly old Saint Nick grabs the lever. As we hit one he pulls it and the dark streets are lit up in ice blue images of starts and green holly. Best of all, the tree standing in the middle of the town centre lights up from top to bottom completing the somewhat picturesque scene.

Even though she’s seen it every year since she was three, it is as if that switch is also wired to Rebecca who lights up just as bright as the rest of the street. She hugs me around the middle. “Thanks for bringing me, Jade.” I look down at her and even though this wasn’t my ideal night, I smile. Ruffling the hair on the top of her head I tell her, “It’s alright, squirt. Now let’s head home, it’s freezing out here.” And once again I am bumped and jostled as I grip my sister’s hand and push my way through the crowd.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas Tag 2013

Do you prefer a real Christmas tree or synthetic?
We’ve never had a real Christmas tree. We’ve had a number of synthetic ones over the years that have been a range of different colours. The current one is black. But I really would like a real one. I don’t think anything could beat the smell and the look of a real tree.

You're in a coffee shop, it's December, what do you pick?
Either a hazelnut or peppermint hot chocolate.

Whats your favourite colour scheme for decorating the tree?
Silver and blue! I love the icy colours. I’m not fussed on gold or red. Some people make it look really nice but every time I try it just looks disasterous.

Giving or receiving presents?
Giving. I am terrible for buying people presents.  I always go overboard and have a tendency to spoil my little sister. It’s always nice to receive things and know someone has thought of you but I adore seeing people’s faces when they open a gift and you know you have got it spot on.

To mince pie or not to?
…I have never eaten a mince pie

What's your traditional sunday lunch?
Turkey, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, sprouts, carrots, stuffing, gravy. And there’s always cake for dessert.

Christmas day fashion
Everyone stays in pyjamas. No need to try and be fancy with us. This year we have the addition of ridiculous Christmas jumpers!

What's your favourite Christmas song?
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. Last Christmas by Wham makes it quite high on the list thanks to my mum. And I always have Michael Buble’s Christmas album playing.

What's your favourite Christmas film?
Love Actually! It just makes me feel all the feels. I cry, I laugh, I despise Alan Rickman. What is there not to love about that film? But I also love Elf. Any Christmas film really because it just makes you feel all warm inside.

Open presents before or after lunch?

Who waits until after lunch? In our house we end up opening them around 4AM. Dad is the biggest child and will wake us all up to open them much to mum’s despair. When we head over to nan’s and wait for all the family to congregate so it’s about 11 or 12 o’clock before we open the rest.