Sunday, October 27, 2013

Harry Potter Party Time!

So today for my vlog with the WordNerds, I talked Harry Potter recipes. Three of my favorites, to be exact. And, as promised, I wanted to make sure that y'all could have access to those recipes, so here they are! Later this week, I will also do a post of all of the Harry Potter-themed recipes I've tried, with links to their recipes.

Fish and Chips
2-3 tilapia filets (or any other fish of choice- feeds 2-4 people per filet)
As many potatoes as is necessary for your group. I tend to use 1 potato per person.
Batter (adapted from here):
3/4 cup flour (for a healthier choice, you can use wheat flour and it still tastes great)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
Fill a medium-sized sauce pan 3/4 full with canola or vegetable oil. Heat it on medium until when a small amount of water is dropped in, it pops.
While doing that, cut the potatoes into thin strips. Soak those potatoes in a bowl of cold water.
Prepare the batter: Sift the dry ingredients, then add the water. Cut up the fish filets into chunks, then coat them with the batter.
Prepare the chips first by patting them dry and then adding them to the oil. They are finished when the edges are browned and crispy.
Remove the chips, and then add the fish to the oil. Tongs are the easiest way to do this. Let them fry for about 10-15 minutes. They are done when the batter is browned and the fish is cooked all the way through (tilapia will be white when it is cooked).
To make them less oily, when you take them out of the pot, lay them on top of a paper towel on a plate.

Department of Mysteries Punch
makes 2 quarts
3 1/4 cups water
3 1/4 cups club soda
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 drops red food coloring (potential alternate: make strawberry lemonade)
1 brain jell-o mold (like these)
Freeze water in the jell-o mold 1-2 nights before the event.
Mix all ingredients together to make the lemonade.
To serve: Remove brain shaped ice cube (you may need to run warm water over the top to help the ice separate) from the mold. Put the ice into a punch bowl, then add the lemonade. 
For a theatrical effect, and small chunks of dry ice throughout the night to make it smoke. IF YOU ADD DRY ICE, do not use club soda. Make it with all water, and the dry ice will make it fizz.

Cockroach Clusters
(adapted from here)
makes about 30 pieces
16 oz. dry roasted peanuts
1/2 package of milk chocolate chips
2 oz. semi-sweet baker's chocolate
Spray crock pot with cooking spray (you may omit this step if you're using a crock pot liner). Place peanuts in the bottom of the crock pot, mixing salted and unsalted peanuts together. Add morsels, German chocolate, and bark. Cover and cook on low setting for 90 minutes. After allotted time, stir so that all the contents are well combined. Cook an extra 15 minutes if chocolate is not completely melted.
Line baking sheets with wax paper. Place rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to cool. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

NaNoWriMo is Coming!

So, in case you missed it, I subbed for Tom last Thursday over at the YA Rebels, and I talked about the upcoming National Novel Writing Month.

On Saturday Mitch talked about getting prepped for NaNo on that same channel. Fate? I think YES!

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as the hip kids like to refer to it) is just two weeks away, and if you're not sure what you want to do for it, now is the time to make up your mind! Like Mitch said, you will find your NaNo experience so much better if you have some sort of plan. Right now Susan Dennard, author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, is doing a great series of posts on how she outlines books, from the perspective of someone who used to consider herself a pantser (though now realizes she's really more of a blend).

In addition to that, though, there's a neat little program I stumbled upon courtesy of said blog posts, that could be useful for you more technologically-savvy plotters out there: Scapple. It's made by the same people who made Scrivener (which I ADORE), and is supposed to function as a free-form outlining tool for those who prefer typing to writing things down. There's a free trial that I'm going to be giving a shot, just to see what it's like, and you totally should too! If outlining is a necessary battle for you, then this program might be able to help you.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Something AWESOME

Okay, can we just talk for a second about Brandon Sanderson? His most recent book, STEELHEART, came out last month (I believe), and I can't wait to get my hands on it! It looks like it will be a great read.

Brandon Sanderson is also a creative writing professor at my alma mater. An AMAZING professor. Every semester his class fills up on the first day of registration, and even then dozens of people who couldn't get on the roster show up and wait for him to tell them to leave. Next semester, the rumor is he's getting an auditorium for his class so that more people can take it.

I was always jealous of those who were able to take his class, since I always had too strict of a schedule to add it. But NOW... Anyone can see his lectures! He is posting all of his lectures onto YouTube from the current semester. I have watched the first few and am loving it. He specializes in Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing, but I would say these lectures are great for anyone interested in honing in on their craft. You've GOT to check it out!

Here's the link to the very first video (NOTE: in the first lecture, I skipped a couple of the videos since they were about classroom workshopping, of which I won't be doing since I'm watching as a fly on the wall... I would recommend doing the same, since the lectures are pretty long):

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Moon and MoreI absolutely LOVED Sarah Dessen when I was in high school, but it's been a long time since I picked up one of her books. So, when I saw that this one was being released soon, I made sure to grab it. Dessen does not disappoint! This book is filled with characters who are strong, and make the kinds of changes that teenagers really make as they come of age. In fact, one scene involves Emaline-- the main character-- having a heated discussion with her mother about moving to college, and as I read it I could perfectly picture the exact same discussion I had with my mom the summer before I left for high school. I liked this book because of those real changes and relationships.

That being said, I feel like the book could have been much shorter. There was a lot of back story thrown in that didn't need to be there. For example, you see Emaline's good friend, Morris, moving slowly on the job, only doing the things he's told exactly, and getting fired. Instead of putting in a brief sentence about how "That's the fourth job this summer!" or something along those lines, we get a page of backstory about how Morris has always been unmotivated, and what that means for his future, and what it's done to his past. It felt like the first 50-60 pages were backstory.

Additionally, the style in which much of the story was written just wasn't my cup of tea. Oftentimes there would be a turning point at the end of a chapter, and then at the start of the next chapter you would find yourself dumped 24 hours later, and then would get filled in as Emaline pondered what happened after the change. It was definitely unique, but to me it felt like I was left hanging too often.

And finally, I loved the ending. For more on why, check out the spoiler section of my Goodreads review. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good read with very real characters and relationships.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This day... We Vlog!

(if you know what I'm referencing in the title, then we are probably kindred spirits)

Today was my first day vlogging for the WordNerds, so definitely check it out! I wear lots of crazy outfits, talk in a deep voice, and reference Arthur. So yeah, it doesn't get much better, right?

Check it out! And definitely be sure to keep watching, because I have a feeling there is something coming on Sunday that you won't want to miss! ;)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Virtual Hug

My blog has been getting a TON more views than normal lately, 
and so I just wanted to say: THANKS! You guys are the best!