confess

Creativity FAIL

I am a humble person, so let me share with you a recent failure.

 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Last week I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I really enjoyed this book, but I struggled to write a review for it. I’m still trying to get back into the groove of reviewing, so sometimes the words don’t come as easily. I also made the mistake of reading other reviews of this book on Goodreads, and oh my gosh, all those other reviews were much more eloquently written than the garbage that was spewing forth from my own ink pen. Eventually, every time I thought about writing this review, I started to feel dread, and this is not a good feeling to have when you’re trying to be a better blogger. Nothing fuels a blogging slump more than when a hobby starts feeling like a job.

So…I decided not to write the review. It took some convincing because…well, this is a book blog. What else should I do? Then, the idea came to me, probably when I was really hungry– concoct a delicious snack inspired by the book! And then I thought, ohmygosh! I could totally turn than into a feature!

In Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Bernadette’s gnatty neighbor, Audrey, is annoyed and inconvenienced by the blackberry vines that are growing from Bernadette’s yard and under Audrey’s fence. Audrey demands Bernadette get rid of the vines, and after complying a series of unfortunate but hilarious events follow. Initially I wanted to make a blackberry pie or a blackberry sauce to pour over a simple pound cake. But, then I remembered the one time I ate a blueberry sauce over pound cake that turned my teeth blue for about four hours…and I decided against that. And then I was stuck. Just as stuck as I was when facing the review I didn’t want to write. But, I sucked it up, I snatched the package of blackberries from the fridge, and I got to creating…something TERRIBLE.

It started with a package of blackberries. Amazing blackberries, actually. I don’t think blackberries are in season, so I was surprised that these berries were so big and so ripe. It took a lot of effort to not just shove fistfuls of them into my mouth– I had a blog to think about!!!

Smashed blackerries

Smashed blackberries

Instead I ruined them by smashing them into a seedy pulp and dumping them into a glass.

Green tea and blackberries

Green tea and blackberries

And then I poured green tea over top because…because…oh, I don’t know! Look, it was just an idea I had. The last time I had the urge to concoct something entirely without the aid of a recipe, I was about 9 years old and I was trying to make homemade chicken noodle soup out of wavy egg noodles and a chicken bouillon cube.

If I had written a review, it would have been as successful as the blackberry green tea.

If I had written a review, it would have been as successful as the blackberry green tea.

This is the finished product. A miserable glass of blackberry goop submerged in green tea. I tried to drink all of it down, but I could not. It was depressing. Luckily, I only wasted 4 blackberries on this. The rest I shoved into my mouth by the fistful.

Despite my cooking flub, I’m not giving up on this idea. I still think it will be a fun and tasty project to work on. In the future, I will probably seek the guidance of a recipe though.

 

What do you do if you don’t feel like writing a review? Do you push yourself to write one anyway, or do you choose not to write one? Have you ever had a super fun and creative idea for your blog that didn’t go according to plan?

 

teaview

Teaview: Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong (not quite #PSL)

Tea aficionados like to turn their noses up at tea from Teavana. And, understandably so. Teavana is notorious for masking otherwise decent tea with sweeteners and artificial flavors and other fruity/nutty/chocolaty additives. I am not a tea aficionado however, and I’ll admit, I’m distracted by flashy packaging, tempting names, and did somebody say chocolate?! But, even my experience with tea from Teavana is hit and miss. If you recall from my last weekend review, I splurged and purchased some Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong tea, and since today was a chilly 48 degrees when I woke up, I decided today would be a perfect day to try out this Autumn-inspired tea.

Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong Tea

Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong Tea

Teavana’s Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong tea has cinnamon, white chocolate pieces, dried pumpkin chunks, chocolate flakes, carob pieces, oolong tea, artificial flavoring, ginger, chicory root, pumpkin seeds, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and coconut blossom sugar. All of this sounds divine, but I was disappointed that oolong tea was number six on the list; it’s not really a priority. I blame myself for not reading the ingredients when I so hungrily added this tea to my cart.

Purple Angle Infuser Mug

Purple Angle Infuser Mug

I’m pretty awful at making tea according to directions, which I know is really, really important. I’m unsure of the temperature of water, but I did only steep for about three minutes. In my handy infuser mug! I like this mug because I can rest the infuser right along the edge of the mug, and the lid, which traps in steam and heat, also doubles as a small plate to rest the infuser on after steeping. Because, I will admit I am definitely a lazy sod, and I do not like walking to the sink after steeping. I’m not a fan of the size though. Bigger isn’t always better. It holds about 12 oz., but I usually only brew between 6-8oz.

The scent of the tea is inviting and cozy– cinnamon and chocolate seem the most predominant. But that’s all the positive things I can say about this tea. I did not care for the Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong tea. It’s sad because I did not taste the oolong tea at all. This isn’t one of those instances where all the additives mask the flavor of the tea, the tea just wasn’t there. I struggled to find the tea leaves amongst all the pumpkin pieces and chocolate chunks. Teavana did succeed in making this tea taste like pumpkin, though sadly not like a comforting slice of pumpkin pie. You know how pumpkins smell when you are carving them into jack-o-lanterns? That’s the kind of aroma or flavor this tea had. It was…vegetal(?) and sour. I also wasn’t a fan of the sweetness of the Pumpkin Spice Brulee. I rarely add sugar or honey to my tea, so the sweetness of the coconut blossom sugar was really overpowering to me.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed, and at $13 for 2 oz. of “tea”, I won’t be buying any more. I’m not sure it’s entirely Teavana’s fault though. I’ve tried pumpkin spice teas in the past, and I wasn’t impressed then either. To get my fix of Autumn, I guess I’ll be sticking to pumpkin spice lattes.

If you’ve tried Teavana’s Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong tea, what did you think of it? Or, do you have a favorite Autumn-inspired drink?

 

feature

Feature and Follow: Book Buying Before Blogging

Before book blogging, how would you find out about new books, or did you?

bookfair

Scholastic Book Fair: the day you especially did not want to stay home sick

When I was a youngin’, I learned about new books through the Scholastic Book Fair! As soon as the book catalog was sent home with students, I became antsy with anticipation. I’d spend the evening circling the books I wanted to purchase, and my mom would send me to school with a check to cover the cost. I think this was the only time I ever “discovered” new books. You see, as a kid, I was a bit of a habitual reader. I would discover an author or series, and I would stick with it.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

My go-to authors were:

  • Jon Scieszka– the Time Warp TrioThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse
  • Louis Sachar– Sideways Stories from Wayside School and of course, Holes
  • Jack Prelutsky– all his poetry books, but especially A. Nonnymouse Writes Again! and The Dragons are Singing Tonight
  • Robert Munsh– Again everything that came out during my childhood, Paper Bag Princess, Pigs!, Love You Forever, Purple Green and Yellow
  • R. L. Stine– Goosebumps, Give Yourself Goosebumps (which were the choose your own adventure series), and oh gosh, FEAR STREET!!!
  • Shel Silverstein– EVERYTHING! I also had his poems on tape, and I listened to them on repeat, repeat, repeat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (series) by Nancy McArthur
  • The Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Bailey School Kids (series) by Marcia T. Jones, Debbie Dadey, and John Steven Gurney

Do you see a theme here? Almost everything I read was a series. I wonder if I burned myself out on them, and this is why I cannot finish a series now.

Angusthongsandfullfrontalsnogging

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging made me laugh until tears streamed down my face

In high school, I was on my own to discover new books. And this is actually pretty strange to me. All of my friends were book nerds too, but we rarely talked about books unless that book was Harry Potter. There was one exception– I turned a friend onto The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books. These books were hilarious! But…I never finished the series.

Most of the time, I would walk in to Barnes and Noble, armed with $70 of allowance money, and I would spend then entire day roaming the bookshelves. I would pace in front of the young adult section for covers and titles that caught my eye and summaries that kept my attention. People weren’t as avid readers of young adult books back then, so I don’t recall the selection changing too often. Still, I felt like I re-read those summaries and stared critically at those covers every time I went to buy books. Despite the lack of reviews or book chatter, I always seemed to love the books I picked out.

Feature and Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

justmycup

Just My Cup of Tea: unBEARably cute

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So, I had this clever idea for my Just My Cup of Tea feature– I would present a series of tea cups that fit a theme from the book I reviewed during the week. That fell by the wayside when I went on that unintended hiatus though, and now I’m trying to catch myself up. Have you read A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (review)? If you have, then you know that Bill Bryson becomes worried by the idea of bears meandering on the trail he’s hiking, and he’s absolutely hilarious about it. I’ve discovered some unbearably cute mugs that would be perfect to sip tea from while reading this book


 

etsy_mugsleys_mamabear-papabearSip tea with your honey dearest from this mama bear/papa bear gift set (from Mugsley – etsy)

 

etsy_oldenglishco_bear-hug

Tea is kind of like a bear hug in a mug anyway, so why not enjoy it from this Bear Hug mug? (Old English Co – etsy)

etsy_kinshipgoods_get-stuff-doneI don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I would be ten times more motivated if I could drink my morning brew from this mug telling me to get stuff done…plus, more bears! (kinship goods – etsy)

etsy_shlos_stacking-animal-cups

If you need  a little more wilderness in your life, check out these stacking wildlife cups! psst! you can even mix-and-match their bodies to make the animals looks like grand mythical beasts (shlos – etsy)

etsy_bearcreekpotter_treemug

Or, if you don’t like bears (what’s wrong with you?!), here is a simple pine tree mug. I’m sure there are plenty of pine trees along the Appalachian Trail (BearCreekPottery – etsy).

 

Which mug is your favorite? Alternately, bears are ferociously cute– do you have a favorite type of bear?

I’m quite partial to pandas!

 

 

 

 

 

The Weekend Review

Weekend Review: pumpkins and stray gods

Happy September!

My mom has started her countdown for Christmas, but I’ve started my countdown for the first day of Autumn– just a mere 15 days! I’ve already started dreaming about pumpkin spice lattes, and vendors have already been teasing me with products that taste like Fall. When I checked my e-mail this morning, Teavana had sent me an e-mail about their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong tea, which is described as having a “balanced swirl of rich pumpkin and flavors of caramel, toffee, butterscotch, and creamy vanilla”. How can I even say no to that? Trust me. I tried! I tried to be the responsible adult, but…Teavana was offering free shipping with the promotional code pumpkinlove (ends 9/9), and before I knew it, I had also added Earl Grey Creme black tea and some tea tins to my basket. I suppose it’s appropriate to treat yourself every once in a while, right?

Aside from some goodies that should arrive in my mail shortly, I also finally finished a series other than Harry Potter, and I celebrated my two-year work anniversary (with more tea!)

So far, September is starting out on the right foot!


noragami

Noragami (ノラガミ : stray god)

I’ve discovered something new on Netflix this week– the anime Noragami! (Of course, it was a manga first). The anime is about Hiyori Iki, a middle school student, who is hit by a bus, while trying to save the life of a fella named Yato. While Hiyori survives, the incident causes her to turn into a half-phantom, and she learns that Yato is actually a god trying to make a name for himself by doing odd jobs around Japan. And, I really mean odd jobs. Sure he fights phantoms by night, but during the day he serves ramen and cleans people’s showers for a mere five yen; he’s saving to buy his own shrine for people to worship him at. Noragami is charming and silly and funny, but it’s also incredibly deep because it’s delves into issues like bullying and death. The artwork and the music are also impeccable, and I cannot encourage you to watch this show enough.


Books On My Radar:

Apparently I’m craving something spooky. I’ve just added a handful of books to my wish list, and they all deal with ghosts or haunted houses or pacts with the devil.

On My Radar 1

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre ♥ Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson ♥ Conversion by Katherine Howe ♥ The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco ♥ Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine ♥ The Supernatural Enhancements  by Edgar Cantero

 

This question is probably more suitable for October, a month for mischief and horror movies, but have you read any spooky books lately? Do you have a favorite horror novel?

 

feature

Feature & Follow: On Writing

Are you also a writer and of what genre, or did you ever consider writing?

I am not a writer, but I do write every day in some fashion.

Sometimes I write posts for this blog. Sometimes I scrawl my soul across pages of my “Shakespeare Never Tweeted a Sonnet” notebook. Sometimes I write letters to a friend. Every month, I write an Accounts Receivable narrative for my company’s board report, but ugh. And, sometimes I get swept up in my creativity and write page after page about the characters and the world that has been lingering in my imagination for a few years now.

Of course I considered writing as a career. That’s why I majored in English. I favored creative non-fiction– I love reading it as much as I love writing it– but, I had no idea what I would do with an English degree. I think I was more smitten by the romance of writing anyway. Outside of personal diddies like a blog post or a diary entry, I definitely lack the discipline it takes to craft a story. I spend more time thinking about trying to write than actually putting pen to paper and letting the ink bleed through.

I attempt to write with abandon every November during NaNoWriMo, but even that intimidates me! I usually give up after day three, but I’m still going to try it again this year. You never know… A rag-tag crew of airship pirates has been occupying my thoughts for five…maybe six years now. One day I will have the courage to give them life.

Feature and Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

 

 

aboutaseries

I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, I got talked into reading it. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about the series, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. In Twilight, I got to read about Bella and Edward’s relationship, but in New Moon, I got to read about Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. And I finished this up just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring. I actually skipped about an entire chapter of this book because it was not holding my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk toward Jacob– like she was over compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. It was off-putting enough that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy that attempting to finish the book became a real challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because while I liked the movie's ending a little better than the book's ending, it was still a "cop-out", and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?