Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day #15: More New Gadgets

Yesterday two big things happened: I finally got my highlights and a smashing new haircut. I have never gone this blonde before and I'm having to get used to it.

 And my mum and I went to the local(ish) Apple store so I could pick out my new computer. I made the geeks there very happy. I breezed in and said, "Alright, boys, I need a computer that does this and this and this. Here is my budget; pick something out for me." Normally, I don't like doing this to fellow retailers. I know what it's like to have a "not picky" customer who is, in fact, very picky and doesn't like any of the suggestions you give. But in my case, I really wasn't that picky. I just needed something that would do all the things I required. In the end, I walked away with the newest version of the MacBook Pro. I've been messing around with it a bit and love it so far.

Since it took hardly any time to get my computer - now named Colin - my mum and I had time to breeze into Powell's City of Books. Yes, I spent more than I intended, but my computer wasn't as much as I was expecting, so I thought: Why not? I completed some more series, so I'm not going to feel too guilty about it.

After that, we headed to Voodoo Donuts - because how can you go to Portland and not go to Voodoo Donuts? We seem to have the best luck whenever we go there; there's hardly ever any lines. And this time, there was no one else around. It's pretty unheard of; Voodoo Donuts is kinda of known for having hours-long lines of people, though I think that's mostly in the summer.

And then we decided to have an adventure. Donuts, computer, and books in hand, we headed from Voodoo back to where we'd parked. We figured if we cut one way, we would get there in the half the time from Powell's. We got a little turned around, a little lost, and I saw a part of Portland I could have gone my whole life without visiting. I can now say that I've been offered marijuana by some very high people, as well as a "very" tempting deal from a homeless guy to do a strip tease for a donut. That's sarcasm, by the way; I was in no capacity tempted to trade him one of my lovely donuts for a strip tease.

We eventually got out of the unsavory part of town and finally back into the safe spots. Other than being an interesting tour, I also got to test out how good of walking shoes my new sandals are. And I'm pretty sure they'll hold up in Nashville and New York.

I've spent all of this morning setting my computer up and syncing my iPod so I can actually listen to music on it. I intend in filling it up with lots of songs for my flights to Nashville. Unless I'm sitting next to some very interesting people indeed, I don't really want to talk to anyone. ;-)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Honey Balsamic Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of Budget Bytes!

Another quick dinner recipe that is yummy and can go with all sorts of things! Toss some vegetables with the chicken, too, and it's doubly good (if you like vegetables; I don't).

2 medium chicken breasts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp honey

  1. Slice the chicken into six diagonal strips. Place the strips in a ziplock bag with the 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients all together and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil on a skillet over medium heat. Cook the strips until browned on both sides. Remove chicken onto a plate.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Add the butter and remaining 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Stir everything up in the skillet. Add the honey, increase the heat, and let the sauce simmer until thick (approx. 5 minutes).
  4. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then add the chicken back into the skillet and toss until coated. Toss in vegetables for extra yummy and serve with rice!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Bookworm's Corner #6

The Bookworm's Corner is weekly updates on anything bookish! What I've read through the week, any books I've bought this week that I'm super duper excited about, recommendations lists, book news - whatever! This is where the Bookworm wades in.

What I've Finished

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
The Goddess War: #1
YA, fantasy
3/5 stars

The ancient gods are dying and Athena and Hermes are determined to find out why. The answer may lie with Cassandra, a teenage girl in Kincade, New York, who is the reincarnation of Cassandra of Troy: the girl cursed to see the future, but have no one believe her. The only problem is: Cassandra doesn't remember who she is - and Apollo isn't about to let her be used by the gods. So I read this for my book club, and so many members hated it that I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. When I finally started reading it, I knew that I disagreed with them. Antigoddess could be so much more and it does have nigglies and holes, but I liked it for what it was. I liked the plot and the Author's portrayal of the gods was very interesting and unique. We aren't seeing the gods in their full glory; for once, we're seeing them after they've been forgotten, after they have become less than gods, and when they are dying. At times the plot felt like it was running in place: stuff happened but it didn't really go anywhere. And I have questions. But this is the first book in a trilogy, and I'm willing to see where it goes next.

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond
YA, alternate history
5/5 stars

It is 80 years after the Nazis won WWII with their genetically engineered soldiers that turned the tide of the war. Zara lives in Nazi-controlled America, trying to go unnoticed by the Nazis. Because she has a secret: she has mysterious powers. And if they ever found out, she'd be executed. I love all things WWII, and the idea of the Nazis having won the war is very intriguing. So of course I had to read this book! It was incredible. Minus the genetically engineered soldiers - the Anomalies - the author presents a very believable and frightening image of what things might have been like. The characters are really good and the plot fast-paced and engaging. I loved it.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Dorothy Must Die #1
YA, fairy tale retelling
5/5 stars

Amy Gumm is the other girl from Kansas. And like Dorothy Gale, she's been swept away from her boring life and into the land of Oz by a tornado. But this isn't the Oz Amy has read about. Dorothy has returned - and she's evil. Now Amy must ally herself with the Wicked and kill Dorothy. I hate Oz with a passion, after reading all 15 originals about two years ago. But this Oz - oh my gosh, this Oz was incredible. Creepy as all hell, dark and twisted and disturbing - and so awesome. Dorothy is one of the best villains ever! And Amy is a spunky, sassy protagonist with the attitude. I loved it.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes #1
YA, fantasy
3/5 stars

Meira is one of eight surviving refugees from when their kingdom - Winter - was taken by Spring and their magic stolen. Now, they're on a quest to regain their magic and restore their prince to his throne. At first I wasn't hugely impressed with the whole idea of kingdoms being stuck in one eternal season. But as the world building was continued, I liked it more and more. The characters were great - Meira very capable and tough - and the villain impressively intimidating. I didn't care for the love triangle - though it certainly wasn't the worst I've read - and the pacing was at times way too fast.

The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
YA, thriller
4/5 stars

When Stephen is forced to move to boring small town Spencer, Michigan, he knows his life is going to go from sucky to downright awful. But then he meets a group of guys who hang out in the cemetery and he has hope that he's found friends. Until their little group starts to take a very dark and evil turn. . . .The author told me this book was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. And that was literally all I knew about it before I read it. I didn't look up reviews or read the synopsis beforehand. And oh my gosh, this book. I don't know what this book did to me, but it was awesome. It was creepy and captivating and disturbing and frustrating as all hell. And that ending. . . .I still haven't gotten over it.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter: #4
Middle Grade: fantasy
3/5 stars

It's the beginning of Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Lately he's been having concerning dreams about Lord Voldemort, waking up with his scar hurting. But all worries are pushed aside when the Triwizard Tournament is held at Hogwarts. Harry is too young to enter - but then someone puts his name in the Goblet of Fire. And once the Goblet has chosen you, you must compete. I'm just enjoying this world more and more with each new installment. There's so much world building and attention to detail. Things could have moved at a much quicker pace, but I liked the character development and exploration so much that I didn't want it to. And then the book takes a darker turn at the end, promising further development in future books. Voldemort is probably one of the most pathetic villains I've read, but everything else sort of makes up for that.

What I'm Currently Reading

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan: On page 259
Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales: This week, I read N/A
Anderson's Best-Loved Fairy Tales: This week, I read N/A
Wolfsblood by Hazel West: On page 216
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie: On page 175
- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: On page 64
The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells: On page 70
- Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon: On page

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sweet & Sour: Derailed Plans and New Gadgets

Sweet & Sour is a weekly feature where I talk about one "sweet" thing that happened - and one "sour" thing. Because life throws us lemons and cookies! But because bad news should always come first, we're doing this in reverse order!

The Sour

It seems like it's been one of those weeks where any plans I make are derailed. Getting the group together to go see Insurgent has proven to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would, and I'm still so tired from being ill that I have had to skip rock climbing for the past few Wednesdays. I'm going to be so out of shape when I get back to it.
The Sweet

I got a new iPod! A nano iPod! A gorgeous green nano iPod!! See it here! Isn't it pretty?! My very old one broke a while back and I realized I needed a new one before I went to Nashville; otherwise I wouldn't be able to listen to anything on the plane over. o_0

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quote Wall #6

Quote Wall is for everyone to comment and share their favorite quotes of the week. Be it from a book, movie, other people - whatever you like! Share them in the comments and I'll put them up on the Quote Wall page!

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see." - Arthur Schopenhauer -

Monday, April 13, 2015

Honey Mustard Salmon

This recipe is courtesy of Cooking Classy!

If you're looking for a really quick, easy, and yummy salmon dish, this one is perfect. It takes hardly any time and makes little mess.

2 salmon fillets, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with greased aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the dijon mustard, honey, and garlic. In a shallow dish, mix together the Panko bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest. Add olive oil and toss to evenly coat the crumbs.
  3. Brush the tops of your salmon with the honey mustard mixture. Then dip the coated salmon in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat until all of the salmon fillets are coated.
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Serve with steamed asparagus and lemon wedges.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day #14: Illness

So my body decided that it needed a forced shutdown. Wednesday I woke up with leringitis - which pretty much takes away my voice and saps my energy. Annoying, but still workable. Thursday morning I woke up with the stomach flu. Which is a lot less workable, and I stayed home from work to sleep.

Normally, I can have a love-hate relationship with being sick. On the one hand, of course you feel awful and look awful and there's just nothing fabulous about it. On the other hand, though, it does give you some down time. Catching up on TV shows (which I haven't done in a while), reading, eating ice cream and other "invalid" foods.

But the stomach flu is an entirely different matter. I was too tired to watch or read anything. All I did was curl up underneath a blanket on the couch and shut my senses off to the world. If I wasn't sleeping, I was too miserable and nauseated to want to do anything except die. Forget ice cream and other treats; it just made my stomach more upset and I was stuck with eating ice chips and that's about it.

I have, since then, returned to the land of the living. I did get some reading done in between being awake and asleep. My voice has been returned to me and I can stand up and walk around without feeling like I'm going to pass out. But I'm still very exhausted. I feel like a sponge that has been wrung out one too many times, and what appetite I possess is still totally and completely gone.

Tonight I meet four YA authors, and while I probably should just go back to bed after my shift at work, there's no way I'm missing these authors. So glad I get to sleep tomorrow.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Day #13: Pottery & Author Events

Happy belated Easter and all that! I hope you guys enjoyed my special Easter recipe that I posted, in lieu of my usual reading update (I figured I should have something special for Easter). Also, I apologize for my erratic updates and absences. I've been a little busy with stuff.

So, in news - The Reading Hedgehog, my other blog, is back up and running. And I'm enjoying it ten times more. I have a few new things on it, such as weekend recaps and a new reviewing format! Maybe you should check it out at some point. ;-) Still in book news, I've been prepping for upcoming author events. On the 10th, I am meeting YA authors Victoria Aveyard (Red Queeni), Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die; The Wicked Will Rise), Sara Raasch (Snow Like Ashes), and Heather Brewer (The Cemetery Boys). So I've been trying to read all of their books before the big day. I have also, of course, been planning for my trip to Nashville on the 29th, where I'm going to meet YA author Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding; A Spark Unseen; Rook). I've been clothes shopping and scouring touring websites to figure out what I want to see in Nashville. If any of you have any ideas of must-see places for a history/book/food nerd, please let me know! Recommendations would be welcomed.

I also had two separate  girls' nights with some friends a few weeks back - the first one we went to a pottery place where you can paint your own designs. My results were returned a couple of days ago!

To commemorate Sherlock's return!
A bookmark jar! I have so many bookmarks; I needed a place to put them.

The second girls' night we went and saw the new Cinderella movie. That was a lot of fun. I needed a fluffy, fairy tale story. And all in all, I liked the movie a lot. The casting was perfect and the changes they made to the story, while subtle, were very good.

That pretty much brings you up to date on what I've been up to. I of course will be posting about how the author event goes; really, really looking forward to it!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Italian Easter Bread

This recipe is courtesy of Grains of Earth!

I put myself in charge of Easter dinner this year because I had a ton of new recipes I wanted to try out! While everything turned out delicious, this Ukranian Easter bread was my pride and joy. It turned out so perfect. Yes, that is a whole duck egg in the middle. The great thing about this bread is you can make it for anything - just leave the egg out of the middle. It won't compromise the bread shape and you can save it for Easter, to make it special.

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup salted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups (approx.) flour
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
6 eggs, dyed or not (your choice)
pearl sugar

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just until the butter is melted.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs and sugar. Add the warm (too hot and it will kill the yeast) milk mixture.
  3. Add one cup of flour, mixing in between, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. You may end up using more than 3 1/2 cups of flour; that's fine.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
  5. Placed in a greased, covered bowl, and let rise for 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough down and divide into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces out into 1-inch thick ropes about 14 inches long. Taking two pieces, pinch ends together and braid, then form into a loop and pinch together.
  7. Lining a baking sheet with greased aluminum foil, place braided circles on it.
  8. Once you've braided all of your loops, cover the sheet and let rise for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  10. When the circles are done rising, brush with the egg wash. Place a whole, raw egg in the middle of each circle. The egg will bake through in the oven. Sprinkle the circles with pearl sugar as generously as you like.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  12. NOTE: because of the eggs in the middle, this bread does need to be stored in a refrigerator. If you don't put the eggs in the middle, store it like any other bread!