Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Redwall Picnic // Fictional Feasts

 The molebabe Gadgee poked his snout out from under a floppy layer of pastry he was carrying. "Furr maken 'unnymoles, zurr!"
 Skipper joined the little moles as they kneaded dough on a countertop, busy as bees and covered in flour. "Ahoy, mates, wot's an 'unnymole?"
- Pearls of Lutra (p. 270), Brian Jacques
  When I told my younger brother about my Fictional Feasts project, he immediately suggested I make something from the Redwall series. I've read two of those books myself, and I agreed that it was a really good idea. Those books are jam-packed full of food. The animals are always feasting and picnicking!

 Recently, we borrowed The Redwall Cookbook from some friends of ours. It's a really cool cookbook with a ton of delicious-sounding recipes in it. We ended up making "Nunnymolers" and "Strawberry Fizz".

|My failed first attempt.|

 The Nunnymolers were so good! They were sweet and buttery and the fruit-center was delicious. I made mine a little bit differently from the cookbook. Instead of a whole strawberry and raspberry, I just sliced up some strawberries for the center. Also, the way the cookbook told to fold the pastry did not work out (as you can see in the last picture), so instead I folded the pastry like a turnover and pinched the edges with a fork. That worked perfectly!

(recipe from The Redwall Cookbook)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, cubed
12 strawberries
12 raspberries
Raspberry or strawberry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and the confectioners' sugar. Add the butter or margarine and rub it into the flour with your fingers (alternatively, pulse the dry ingredients and butter in a food processor) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water, mixing with a fork (or pulsing in the food processor) until a dough forms.

2. Divide dough into twelve 2-inch balls. Use your palm or a rolling pin to flatten each ball into a 5-inch round.

3. Spread each round with a thin layer of honey. Place 1 strawberry and 1 raspberry in the middle of each piece of dough, then fold the edges of dough in toward the center, leaving a small opening in the middle, and pinch the folds of dough together. Put a dollop of jam into the top of each Nunnymoler.

4. Bake until firm and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

 As for the Strawberry Fizz, I came up with my own recipe. I blended up some strawberries and poured about 1/3 cup in each glass. Then I topped it with Sprite. It was yummy! It was a bit too sweet for my taste, though.

 It was a lot of fun making these, and I'm looking forward to trying out more Redwall recipes. Also, thank you for all the comments and suggestions on my last FF post!

Earlier Fictional Feasts post:
Bilbo's Afternoon Tea


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Happy List

Inspired by Olivia's "Things That Make Me Happy" posts.

 i. baby lambs

 ii. skittles

 iii. an Easter break filled with warm, sunny days

 iv. daily bike rides

 v. chocolate, chocolate, chocolate

 vi. owl city's new song: Beautiful Times

 vii. reading good books (I finished The Lord of the Rings!)

 viii. kayaking on the lake

 ix. watching Anne of Green Gables for the first time in ages

 x. iced teas and iced coffees

 xi. sleepy kitties

 xii. flowers everywhere

 xiii. making Easter Nests

 xiv. pavlova


Hope you're having a lovely spring, too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On My Bookshelf: Science Fiction

Previous On My Bookshelf Posts:
Fairy-tale Retellings
Historical Fiction

Science fiction used to be a genre I'd stay away from. (Space? Robots? The FUTURE? Boring!) But in the last few years, I've started to love it.

Here are a few of my favorites!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

  I think I'll skip the synopsis on these - I think everyone knows what they're about! This trilogy has certainly received a lot of hype, and I think they deserve it. They're exciting, action-packed, and brilliantly written.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

  I don't know where to begin with these. They are futuristic fairy-tale retellings that involve cyborgs, a wide-spread incurable plague, and a dangerous civilization of people on the moon. Yeah, I know. Extremely cool. This series is not yet complete - the last book, Winter, is coming out next year.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

  This is about a young man named Axel, who's uncle is an eccentric (pretty much crazy, really) professor. One day, the professor decides to go on an impossible and outrageously dangerous expedition to the center of the earth. And he's dragging his nephew along with him.  
  It's an extremely fascinating and unique book, and a great classic.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
 This book is about a boy named Jonas, who lives in a seemingly perfect society. When he's twelve years old, he's chosen to be trained by the Giver, a man who holds the memories of the past and the only knowledge of the outside world.
 This was the first dysopian novel I ever read. It really shocked me: I had never read about such an corrupt, controlling society before. It really made me think, and even though I read it years ago the story has stayed with me.

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
 Out of the Silent Planet is about an ordinary man named Dr. Ransom who is kidnapped by two evil/crazy scientists and is taken to another planet. Madness ensues.
 This book was weird. But I liked it. It isn't a "fun" book, but it is extremely interesting. Of course the writing is phenomenal - it is C. S. Lewis after all :)

 There are several more science fiction books that I'd love to talk about, but I'll save them for another post. And I'm sure to be reading a lot more sci-fi this year, too.

I'd love to hear what you guys think about this genre. And I'd love to hear what your favorites are!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Liebster Award

  When I first started blogging (a looong time ago) tags and awards were the thing. They were everywhere. Maybe it was too much of a good thing, because after a while it all came to an abrupt halt. That was pretty sad, because they are super fun and a great way to get to know other bloggers. That's why I was excited to see this award/tag going around, and was even more excited when Olivia awarded me!

  So, thank you very much Olivia! You all should go check out Olivia's blog. She's one of my favorites ever. She's super sweet and super talented and her blog is the bomb.

 Here's how this award works:
+Thank the amazing blogger that nominated you
+Answer the 11 questions the nominator provided
+Nominate a few other bloggers who have less than 200 followers
+Post 11 different questions for your nominees to answer
+ Contact your nominees to let them know that you've nominated them
 Here are the questions that Olivia asked:

1. What is your theme song?

I'd probably have to go with an Owl City song. Maybe Alligator Sky

2. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a hair-dresser at one point. And I just remembered this: when I was really little I wanted to be a "flower girl", and by that I meant that I wanted to sell flowers on the street like the lady did on my favorite episode of Barney. Yep.

3. Pet peeve?
Me: "Caleb, what's my pet peeve? I can't think of anything interesting."
Caleb (13 year old brother): "Closed doors. You always want the door open! That's pretty weird."
Me: "Oh yeah, that's true. Thanks!"

4. Do you ever listen to classical music?
All the time! I have a ever-growing playlist on Spotify.

5. What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
I'm kinda shy around strangers, so moving to California to live there for a year had some scary moments for me. I didn't know anyone, so going to youth group and things like that for the first time was pretty scary. Everyone was so friendly, though, so I felt at home pretty quickly.

6. Where in the world would you most like to live?

Iceland sounds pretty awesome. England does, too. But I love it here in Ireland :)

7. If you could meet a fictional character IRL, who would you meet and why?

There are so many I would love to meet. After thinking about it, I think I might have to go with The Doctor from Doctor Who. Why? Because he's the coolest ever, and maybe he would take me with him in his TARDIS and we could travel through time and space and all that.

8. Did you ever change the name of your blog? If so, why?
Yep. My blog was original called IrishGirl which was a play off of American Girl (I was obsessed with that at the time). I guess I sort of outgrew that one. Not that long ago I renamed it to √Ālainn, which means "beautiful" or "lovely" in Irish.

9. How do you feel about thrift stores?

They're cool. When I lived in California, I really liked browsing around Goodwill. I think the only things I ever bought there were books, though. Here in Ireland, there aren't really any big thrift stores like that.

10. Would you ever go skydiving?

The idea of skydiving is incredible. If I ever got the chance to go, I hope I'd be brave enough!

11. Road trips or quiet afternoons at home?

Quiet afternoons at home. :) But I do love road trips once and a while, too.

Here are the lovely bloggers I nominate! They each have amazing blogs, and they are absolutely lovely people.

Kristin from Sew Technicolor
Hannah from Fantasy Gypsy
Inna from Paper Raindrops
Anna from Zu Hause
Katie from Dream Sailor
Lydia fro Planet Lydia

Here are my questions for the bloggers I nominated:

1. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
2.What, or who, inspired you to start blogging?
3. What is your favorite thing about spring?
4. What's the last movie you watched, and what did you think of it?
5. Who is your fictional crush?
6. If you had to choose another time period to be born in, which would you choose?
7. What is your least favorite food?
8. What is your favorite food?
9. If you could only reread one of your favorite books in your life, which book would you choose?
10. What was your favorite movie when you were little?
11. What genre of music do you listen to the most?

Also, feel free to answer these questions in the comments!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bilbo's Afternoon Tea // Fictional Feasts

 Fictional Feasts is a project that I'm really excited to begin, because it mixes together my love for reading, my love for baking and cooking, and my love for photography. Over the next few weeks, I'll be trying to make some of the foods that are talked about in some of my favorite books. I hope you enjoy seeing the results!

     "A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you,
my good sir," said Balin with the white beard. "But I don't mind
some cake
— seed-cake, if you have any."
     "Lots!" Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise;
and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint
beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round
seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-
supper morsel."
The Hobbit (p.9), J. R. R. Tolkien

 Yesterday I made Seed Cake, which is a traditional British cake mentioned in Tolkien's books as a favorite treat of the Hobbits. I had never made anything like it, so I was excited to see how it would turn out.

  I really liked how the cake turned out. The caraway seeds and the orange zest give it a very unique flavor. My family liked it, too - there wasn't much left of it by the end of the day!

 If you're wanting to try out something different, I definitely recommend giving this cake a try.

 There are lots of seed-cake recipes out there. I used *this one* from"The Hobbit Second Breakfast" website. For those of you in countries that use different measurements, though, you might find *this recipe* more convenient.

 I wanted to ask you all:

Are you interested in seeing more Fictional Feast posts?

If so, do you have any ideas for other treats talked about in books? I'd love to hear your ideas.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Sit Beside the Fire and Think

A Poem by J. R. R. Tolkien

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall never see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door. 

 I'm currently reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time. One thing I love about the books is how Tolkien incorporates poetry into his story. This is my favorite poem of his so far.