Monday, September 15, 2014

First Book Review! *may contain mini spoilers!*

I've finally finished a book; well, actually, I've read several books in the last little while, but I haven't really been reading anything new lately. However, that has changed! I just finished reading Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce, and I thought I'd share a little bit of what I thought about it with you. Because why not; I like books and reading, I'm trying to encourage myself and others to read, and sometimes sharing a book is the best way to do that.

I have to preface this my saying that I've been waiting for a new book from Tamora Pierce for a long time, and then once I received it I was busy and couldn't read it right away. I was also lost among re-reads, so even though this has been sitting on my shelf since Christmas, I've only just finished it. I don't know how or why, but my moods dictated that I re-read other stories before turning to this, and I'm sort of glad that I did. I re-read some of the earlier Circle of Magic books, and I managed to refamiliarize myself with the characters of Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn.

I'm a little bit disappointed. As much as I hate to admit it, I just wasn't as gripped by what was happening as I have previously been by Pierce's books. It could, of course, be because I've already read The Will of the Empress and thus already know a little bit of what must have happened; heck, I've read Melting Stones as well, so I even knew Luvo. There just weren't very many large plot devices that, as a T. Pierce fan, I didn't know had to happen before the end of the book. As much as I love Briar (he's my favourite of the Discipline Cottage students), Rosethorn, and Evvy, I didn't see the growth in them that I wanted to see; I feel like because I knew them before the book, and after the book, there couldn't be much of a scope for overall growth throughout the novel, as it had already been established how they would end up. As much as I love the characters, and was thrilled with the way they interacted with each other (something about the relationship between Rosethorn and Briar just makes me grin), I found myself wishing they could grow and evolve.

The new characters were both highlights, and disappointments for me. Parahan and Jimut were interesting, fun new characters to meet, and I feel like they were well written; in fact, I'm a little bit sad that we don't get to know more about them, their lives, and their futures. The Emperor, well... I'm not sure where I sit with regards to him. I understand that he's supposed to be a large political threat, and a vile, vicious man, but I just.. I didn't find myself seeing him as much more than a spoiled child and a plot device; he was the powerful enemy that would invade Gyongxe, so we had to see how vile he was: He'd burn down an entire garden because of a single defective rose, and he'd buy people of great rapport to be treated as pets, therefore he must be awful. As a great and powerful emperor, he just fell a little bit flat to me. I have to say though, so did the God-King; he struck me very much as a boy who was a leader so that Gyongxe was more vulnerable in appearance at some points, and then at others he was a very wise person. I'm sure this is all by design, because of the shared connection with the Gods, but it was a bit bizarre.

The descriptions, and uses, of Ambient Magic were of course interesting and well written, but there were a few things in the plot that were questionable to me: why did Rosethorn have to go on her quest; was it because of the religious implications, or was it just a plot device so that her strength in later novels could be continued? The rescue of Parahan I understood, and applauded, as it helped to greatly drive the novel forward, but the huge emphasis put on Jia being the one to harm Evvy I could have done without; it seemed like a fairly unnecessary detail to me, and though I'm sure it was supposed to showcase a betrayed relationship, it fell flat with me; it would have been more effective for me personally if someone who hadn't shown any care for Evvy had been her prosecutor.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed the story as a whole, and it was nice to see exactly why the character behave as they do in later stories. However, my one great regret is that I read this after I'd read Melting Stones and The Will of the Empress. If you've never read any Pierce, or if you're just starting to read about Emelan, I would certainly recommend this book; heck, even if you've read all the other books, I'd recommend this book. However, if you can read them in chronological order, as opposed to the order in which they were written, please do!

I'd give this novel 3 happy shakkans out of 5 because of the order in which I ended up reading it.

So, how're we feeling? Hopefully like grabbing a mug of tea and settling into a new novel. That's what I'm off to do. Well, I'm drinking water right now, and I've got a copy of Anna Dressed in Blood waiting for me, on loan from the local library. Ciao!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Baking Experiment Success Stories

 Well hello there! I don't have any tea today, and I'm not going to talk about coffee - anyone that knows me knows I song drink it. And I know it's been a while since I've posted anything at all, but you know, life. I'm going to do something a little bit different today and talk about food; I know this isn't a food blog, but I've been doing a lot of food related things lately, and I thought I'd share. 

In the 18th of may I had this incredible craving for cheesecake, and I absolutely adore cheesecake, but sometimes it's so heavy it makes me feel a bit ill afterwards. However, while I was in Galway last year I had the most amazing, light and fluffy cheesecake, so I thought I would try to find a recipe like it. The one I had was mint, but the one I ended up making was a lightly flavored lemon cheesecake, and it was sort of amazing. 
 Here's what I looked like while baking - nothing special; just a cheesecake. Well, actually, it's a Japanese Cheesecake. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and oh my gosh it was amazing. Personally there are a few things I'd do a little differently than I did, but that's partially because my pan is larger than prescribed so my filling was rather thin. However, I can't even tell you how satisfying this recipe was. And my cheesecake didn't crack along the top either, so it cooled properly and not too rapidly, which is a first for me! 
It looks like a pretty basic, round cheesecake, with nothing strange to offer, right? Right. Well, it was wonderfully light and lemony, and topped off with raspberries it was superb. 
 (Cheesecake recipe can be found at )

This isn't the only Pinterest dessert I've made lately, either. A friend pinned a chia seed pudding recipe a little while ago, and we have an abundance of chia seeds at home lately (we use them in our breakfast), so I decided to try this out. I also had a can of coconut milk sitting in my cupboard begging to be used, and since I'm not a huge fan or curry, I decided this was the best was to go. It was really easy to make, and surprisingly good; I popped some fresh fruit into it when I packaged it up to take it to work, and the flavour melded into the pudding by the time I got around to having my break. It looks weird, and my family kept asking what THAT was 
 In our fridge, but it was worth it! The recipe for that goodie can be found at and it really is simple to make. I made the maple syrup one and used coconut milk, and it was fantastic and simple. 

I know this has been short, but hey, it's better than nothing, isn't it? So, how've you been; is the summer starting to beckon to you? And what are some of your recent cooking experiments, or recipes you love that sound strange? I've got to run and take some chocolate-quinoa cupcakes out of the oven (another random baking experiment), but I hope you're doing well! Please do tell me about your recipes; I seem to be in a baking/dessert experimentation phase :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Oh, yes, well then.

Hullo. Wow, so I always knew I'd be terrible at updating a blog regularly, but I never thought I'd be this awful. Seriously, this is terrible; I just found a half-finished post saved on here that's from three months ago (which has since been deleted, as I have no idea where I was going with it)! So, what has happened since I posted my cookie recipe? Well, I started a new job, baked more cookies, and celebrated Christmas and New Years with my family, among other things. It's been quite a while, hasn't it?!

So, how've you been? I'd offer you something to drink, as I have learned it is customary to do with guests, but all I currently have is water, wine, rum, coke, and tea, so your choices are limited. I'm drinking wine; it's late in the evening, and I am savouring the glass I poured to have with dinner - what can I get for you?

Right, well, now that we're all settled with our respective drinks, how are you? I've been quite well, thank you; as I said, I've started a new job, so that's terribly exciting. No, honestly, some days it does feel as if it's going terribly, though I've been assured it's not just me; I'm working as a pharmacy assistant, and being trained on-the-job, so it's a lot to learn and take in, though I haven't messed it up too terribly yet (I just have to get the hang of it; why doesn't 30 grams of ointment always fit in a 30 gram jar?!). Yes, so, that's what's consuming my life currently; that and house-sitting, of course. And yourselves? Has anything terribly exciting happened to the internet since I last wrote? I mean, outside of news articles that have circulated the globe, have I missed anything terribly important?

It sounds like I'm up-to-date? Aw, what a lovely thing for you to say, though I'm certain it's hardly true! Anyways, how were your Holidays? Mine were fantastic, and incredibly busy! I'd show you the photos, but I sort of, accidentally, haven't been taking that many. I know, I know, I said I would be taking more, but.... It would seem that I told you a falsehood; I'm terribly sorry about that. However, yes, Christmas was incredibly busy this year. We hosted dinner, and of course we had to get everything else finished before that, so it's a good thing my sister demanded I be back in the family home by 7:30am so that she could "wake me up!" never mind how busy the day was, it was still absolutely fantastic, and then the next few days before New Years were also insanely busy, so there was certainly no rest in my house until this weekend, actually, and even that hasn't been terribly restful.

You see, I'm house-sitting, so I'm in another person's house at the moment. The homeowners have more people coming in on about the 14th or 15th, which is all well and good, but I'm working the weekend before that, so I've got to make sure I get everything I need to finished before they arrive home. Also, today I had to run into the city and pick up a few things, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so of course I dawdled. And then, my sister wanted me to accompany her and Momma to lunch and the grocer, as she's just moved out on her own (like, New Years Day, not even joking), so I didn't get home as early as I'd anticipated. Then, dinner. And of course, the wine. And a movie. And now here it is, 10 o'clock in the evening, and I've not done the housework. Tomorrow, hopefully, I can get some of it done. After Jazzercise, and before dinner and Grandma's? Hopefully!

Hmmm, I think that's really all I have to say this evening. I fear I must depart; there's idiots arsing around in their trucks outside, and I may just be a crotchety old lady and go tell them off. Either that, or I'm off to the other side of the house with my wine to watch some television before bed; I haven't decided yet. Have a pleasant night, my dear, and enjoy your evening. I'm hoping I'll be better at this blogging thing in 2014, but I make no guarantees. Who know though; perhaps I'll even get my travel blog from the summer months finished and updated (yeah, right; who am I trying to kid?!)

Goodnight, sleep well, and keep warm against the winter's chill!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tastes Like Autumn!

Alright, so lately I made some cookies. Actually, they were really yummy cookies, and I posted a few photos on facebook. I’ve had a few people asking about a recipe, so I thought I would share. If you’re interested in the original, I found it on this fantastic blog, here.

She says the yield it about three dozen, but I think I managed about two. However, if you multiply the recipe by five, as I did the other day, you end up with a plethora of cookies. Possibly too many (yes, I said there was such a thing as too many cookies). But I needed to use my homemade pumpkin puree before it went bad, and these were just too good to resist making more.
Also, these cookies are frosted pumpkin-spice cookies
I’d suggest pre-heating your oven, of course. The recommended temperature is 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ingredients for cookies
  • ·         2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
  • ·         1 tsp baking powder
  • ·         1 tsp baking soda
  • ·         2 tsp cinnamon
  • ·         ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ·         ½ tsp cloves
  • ·         ½ tsp salt
  • ·         ½ cup of butter, softened
  • ·         1 ½ cups of sugar (I didn’t actually use this much and they turned out fine)
  • ·         1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ·         1 egg
  • ·         1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Icing (Oh yes, these are chai-frosted!)
  • ·         2 cups of icing sugar (I’m still trying to work up the courage to halve this and substitute corn starch; the frosting can be quite sweet. This is a good deterrent from eating too many though!)
  • ·         3 tbsp milk
  • ·         1 tbsp melted butter
  • ·         1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ·         1 chai tea bag

Combine your dry ingredients in one bowl, and your wet ingredients in another (creaming your butter and sugar, and then adding your egg, vanilla, and pumpkin after). Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well-combined.
My batter turned out sticky, so before I popped my cookies onto my baking sheets, I greased them fully. The blog’s author recommends using parchment paper, which is also an excellent option.  Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, switching racks about halfway through. When you remove your cookies from the cookie sheets, make sure they have an opportunity to fully cool before they are frosted.
To make the frosting melt your butter and milk together in a sauce pan, heating fully (seriously; if you don’t heat them in a sauce pan, the frosting doesn’t thicken properly. Weird, right?). Steep the chai tea bag in the liquid for 5-7 minutes, just as you would if you were making a cuppa, and then… Well, you could reuse it, I guess, but I put mine in the compost. Put your new solution into your icing sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth, and frost your cookies as desired.

Seriously, these cookies were pretty delicious. I mean, they disappeared from my house pretty quickly, and I haven’t had any complaints from anyone yet!

Do any of you have a holiday favourite? What about a favourite sweet to make during the fall; I’d love to try some new recipes!
~*~ Follow Your Dreams ~*~


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Well, Shall We?

Our Prime Minister has written a book.

I mean, I shouldn’t really be surprised, a lot of people write books, in a lot of different ways, but my first thought of course was: “when?!” So I did a bit of reading. Apparently he started writing in around 2005, and plugged away at it in sections, 15 minutes a day style. Huh. So of course, that go me thinking as well. What would happen if I sat down to write for fifteen minutes a day? What could I come out with?

Well, honestly, I can’t answer my own question. However, I think this may be a new challenge to try. For fifteen minutes a day, I’ll sit down and write. I already know there will be days when I get nothing done; everyone has a day where they just can’t get the words to the page, eh? But maybe some days will be better than others, and I’ll actually decide to keep writing. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

What will I write about though? Hmm, what do I want to write about; shall I write a fantasy, a thrilling adventure with spells and sorcery; or shall I write a tale of the sea, a swashbuckling fantasy about a pirate and the troubles he faces; again, I could try to write something more based in reality - a trip to Europe, a life in the county; anything is possible, and I think that’s what has been stopping me in the past - not knowing what to write about.

Of course, after you have a topic and a plot with a basic manuscript, there’s the research. You don’t want to stumble into something and then realize you’ve got it all wrong; but to get there, of course, you have to have an idea. So. What do you think I should look at writing about (aside from completing my Europe blog… I’ll get to it, I *promise*. I’ve even got my journal in a special place on my desk, and the photos are going up on Facebook in an order now!)? “Far-off places, daring sword fights, a prince in disguise?” (Beauty and the Beast) Or shall I keep it closer to home, and what I know? Hmm. With Halloween coming up, maybe I’ll write something spooky? Or, of course, I could write a series of short stories.

Actually, that’s not too bad an idea - a series of short stories, each being written in fifteen minutes. It could be like those “Math Minutes” you do in school; except not math, and certainly not only one minute. I wonder…

Well, now I’m wondering many things; will I actually do this; do I have the drive to see it through; when should I start; what will I do on days that I can’t find the time; why is it so hard to find fifteen minutes to myself some days. A multitude of questions are now clamouring for space in my mind, and thus, I must leave you. I’m off to do a spot of cleaning, and then when I get home to fix the drivers on my laptop and eventually print off my booklist so that I can begin organizing my personal library.

~*~Follow your dreams!~*~

xx  L.C.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Well hello there, again!

I feel as though I’ve neglected my blog, but I just couldn’t keep up with two while traveling. Therefore, “Hello, it’s so nice to see you again!”

        (I went to Stonehenge this summer).

    I’m back from Europe, have been for a little over a month, and as such I’m attempting to readjust to life as a somewhat sedentary being. By somewhat sedentary I don’t mean that I don’t get out, but that I’m not moving every 2-4 days like I was in Europe. If you want to hear more about my time in Europe, my blog on that is over at It’s not quite completed yet as, like I said, I’m trying to readjust. Also because I’ve been busy with the travelling thing.

    Anyways, how are you? I’d pour you a cup of tea, but as you see, that’s quite improbable - I’m here, and you’re over there. What a predicament, isn’t it? But alas, I shall have to keep up a one-sided conversation then, and try to provide some sort of entertainment. Where to begin…. Well, the last month has flown by for me, as I’m certain it has for you. I arrived home, tried to get over jetlag, tried to get used to driving again, and went back to work. I also did some housesitting, and here we are. I’m frazzled; are you frazzled? I can’t believe it’s already part of the way through September! I’ve got more cover letters to write than I know what to do with, am currently looking in on 2 pets at 2 separate homes, and working. Also, the aforementioned cover letters allude quite nicely to the job search that I am currently undergoing, don’t they? I thought it was a nice way to broach a topic, anyways.

           --this is Bailey, our new puppy!

    So yes, today I’d like to talk a little bit about job searching. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any easier the more I do it. In fact, I’m thinking it may get a bit more difficult, because you not only have to update your resume, but every job you apply for requires a well-tailored cover letter; that’s the hardest part for me. Cover letters are my downfall; they just make me uncomfortable. “Here, here’s one page of paper. properly address and date it, and then use the rest of the space to tell me your work history, where you found this opportunity, and why you’re the best candidate for this whole job. Oh, and because we’ve never met, I’m making snap decisions about you based solely on these few pieces of paper you either send me, or hand over. So do it right.” That’s what cover letters say to me. I can’t help but to image this huge, faceless person lurking in the shadows when I set out to write a new cover letter. It’s always a basic humanoid shape, but I always image a deep male voice. And the figure is ALWAYS about a foot and a half taller than me.


    Even though I’ve had a basic outline for my cover letters for years, the task doesn’t become any less daunting; I’m just not good at basically bragging about my accomplishments (or lack thereof). What about you, how are you? Are you applying for jobs as well; if so, how’s it going? Do you have any tips for someone like me, who seems to be drowning in paper? Please, let me know!

    I guess that’s all I’ve actually got to say today. Maybe next time I won’t be at work and drinking only water. Then perhaps we can sit down and make a cup of tea together. Cheers until next time!

xx  L. C.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wow, hey. Apparently I've sucked at keeping my blog up to date since I graduated. Did I even mention that I graduated? Erm... Yes, yes I did. Well that's good, I don't suck at this nearly as much as I thought I do then. I'm not very good at it, still, but that's something I can work on.

I'm house sitting (again) currently, and I'm taking care of two lovely little cats, Spook and Mitzy (Mitsy?), and I have a view of the ocean, and life is good. But that's not my reason for being here today. Nah, today I just have to say 'I'm going to Europe in like 59 days!' This is a thing that's happening, so yay! I'm not sure if I'll have much time to blog while abroad, but I'm hoping I get to write a little bit (maybe on the train/bus/plane?) and because of that, I'd like to direct you to my shiny, new, never been used (yet) travel blog. If you want to follow my adventures (and preparation), I'll try to be better at updating things there than I am at updating things here. Other than that, I don't have much to say tonight. I've been trying to get back into some writing tonight, fueled by brie with crackers and jam, and tea (and Dr Pepper because I'm classy like that?), and it's been... Interesting. Apparently I'm writing a short story about the search for that perfect, elusive white tee shirt. Who knew?

I guess I could give you a sneak peek at that, but you'd possibly die of boredom. *reads back story* Yeah, you'd definitely be bored. So I'll leave you with a few quick photos of... erm... Early December through January and February. Yeah, sorry 'bout that.
Frosted Leaves :)

Snowy Hills (and trees) on a New Years Day walk :)

Walks with the Great Aunt by the sea :)

I live in the best place (by Great Aunt's house in... January!)

House sitting view, zoomed in. 

Isn't she a cutie? With the Observatory floor in the Castle

These ladies and I played tourist in our "hometown" in December

Night at the Gardens.