Festive Fortnight [6]: Hot Chocolate On A Stick

By now I consider myself to be a pretty decent baker. I know my way around the kitchen (when it comes to sweet stuff, at least – I’m an average cook) and I can think up a good recipe.

Apparently, though, that doesn’t mean I know how to handle a microwave.

I tried to squeeze making these hot chocolates on sticks in before an appointment I had, which meant I had to hurry a bit. That wasn’t necessarily a problem, though, because this recipe is about as easy it gets: melt chocolate; mix it with a couple of dry ingredients and put it in a mold. That’s it. I went wrong on that very first step.

Because I was in a hurry, I decided to quickly melt the chocolate in my microwave instead of going for a bain marie (which is my preferred method). Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw smoke coming from the microwave. I’d burned the chocolate. Rookie mistake. As I’m writing this, my studio apartment still reeks from it, and my lovely orange-scented candle can barely mask it.

Anyway. If you aren’t such a doofus like me, this hot chocolate on a stick is super easy to make! They make lovely little gifts for your loved ones. All they need is a mug of warm milk, and when they stir it with one of these sticks, they’ll have a delicious hot chocolate!

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Festive Fortnight [5]: A Very Merry Potter Post

Some of you might be wondering: “what does Harry Potter have to do with Christmas?” Well, let me explain! Not all that much, really. Yet, for some reason, the Harry Potter films have become a part of Christmas for a whole lot of people around the world.

Perhaps it’s the cosiness of the earlier films, or the Christmas celebrations within them. I don’t know. All I know is that I wanted to do a Harry Potter post during this Festive Fortnight, because I love Harry Potter and I’ll take any excuse to talk about it.

Some time last year, I made a post in which I ranked the Harry Potter books. It was horrible and difficult, but also kind of fun! So, I decided to do the same for the films. The ranking is different from my ranking of the books, but there are definitely similarities, mostly at the top and the bottom. I just want to say as a kind of disclaimer before we start that I love all of these films a lot and that this ranking might change the next time I see any one of them. Although the top two and the last one are pretty much fixed.

Also, I did my best to be vague, but there might be a few spoilers here and there. Just thought I’d mention that

Anyway, here’s my ranking of all eight of the Harry Potter films!

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Festive Fortnight [4]: Candy Cane Marshmallows

The second recipe of the Festive Fortnight! This is one I’m especially excited about. It’s marshmallows! I tried making marshmallows before over two years ago, and it was quite a failure. Back then I was unsure what I did wrong, but now I know I didn’t use the right type of gelatin (the stuff I used basically wasn’t gelatin at all). With that knowledge, I decided to try again.

And you know what? Making marshmallows really isn’t that hard! In fact, it’s pretty simple, as long as you have a sugar thermometer and you stick to the recipe. My recipe was based on this Dutch one. I used a little less gelatin, and I added the crushed candy canes on top for that festive touch. The candy cane also adds some extra texture and a nice mint-y flavour to the otherwise soft and sweet marshmallows.

I’m still dumbfounded by the whole process of making marshmallows, by the way. I didn’t take any pictures of the process itself, which I’m regretting now. But I watched with wonder how a mixture of water, golden syrup, sugar and gelatin (so, a transparent and slighly golden liquid) turned into white, sticky goo (or, you know, marshmallow fluff) and tripled in size during the process. Science, man! I love it.

I love how easy these were to make, and I think I’ll be trying out different versions in the future. You can go all kinds of ways with the flavour and look of these!

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Festive Fortnight [3]: Five Books To Curl Up With When It’s Cold As Heck

I’m sure most of us can list a couple of things we don’t like about winter, like the cold or how it gets dark so frickin’ early (if you sense some frustration here… you might be right), but isn’t it way more fun to talk about our favourite things about winter instead?

My favourite thing about winter is how cosy everything gets. Part of that has to do with Christmas (which is my other favourite thing about winter) and all the lights going up around town. But it also has to do with the cosiness of being at home in a warm jumper with a cup of tea and a blanket. And books, of course. I’ve been loving curling up with a book on the couch at night after work. There’s just something extra special about doing that when it’s cold and dark out.

That’s why today, on the third day of my Festive Fortnight, I’m sharing with you a list of five books that I think are perfect for curling up on the couch with. It’s a bit of a random list in terms of what’s on it, but I thought to myself “which books would I love to read around Christmas when it’s cold outside?” and these are the books I came up with.

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Festive Fortnight [2]: Cranberry Orange Almond Bundt Cake

The Festive Fortnight has now officially started! I’ve been looking forward to this moment for over a month – and now it’s here. Hurrah!

I baked this cake over a month ago as well; it’s the first Festive Fortnight bake I made. At first, I wasn’t too sure this cake was going to be a success. It was a bit of an experiment. I’d made this recipe from scratch, and I was baking with fresh cranberries for the first time. They’re weird little buggers, aren’t they? I tasted one since I was curious what they’d taste like before baking or cooking them. Turns out, they’re pretty gross!

Anyway, despite my worries, this cake turned out absolutely delicious. It’s got a lovely almond taste, which combines magnificently with the orange and the cranberries. This cake is perfect for when you’re looking for something that is Christmas-y, but isn’t too heavy. The tang from the citrus and the cranberries made for a nice fresh contrast with the sweetness from the almond and the glaze.

Although the cake was amazing, the pictures of it didn’t exactly turn out as I’d hoped. Dusk was already starting to settle in when I took these pictures – that’s the trouble with winter, I suppose!

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[Announcement] A Festive Fortnight of Blogging

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Only two weeks until Christmas! Who’s excited?!

Since I started this blog, an inadvertent annual tradition has made its way into my Decembers; it consists of me kicking myself for not starting work on Christmas recipes earlier in the season. I love Christmas, and I love Christmas recipes, but I mostly end up not posting them, or posting them after Christmas, like last year’s gingerbread cookies.

That’s why this year I started planning my Christmas posts at the start of November. In fact, here’s a little secret: I’m typing this on the 14th of November (while rocking out to Mariah Carey and Wham!, of course). That’s because I’ve been planning quite an ambitious project…

For the coming two weeks, I’ll be posting every single day as part of my Festive Fortnight of Blogging!

There’ll be plenty of Christmassy recipes (6 in total!), and there’ll also be bookish posts and other festive fun things. I’ve got it all planned out (for a change)! This marks the first post, and the last one will be a round-up on the 24th.

So, get ready for two weeks of holiday cheer and festive fun leading up to Christmas!

The Macaron Saga – Part 3: In Which I Seriously Consider Giving Up Forever

That sounds rather dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because I’m feeling rather dramatic about this whole macaron making business.

Back in June 2014, I tried making macarons for the first time, and it didn’t go horribly wrong, but it didn’t go right either. Then in September of 2015 I tried making them again, and my first batch failed miserably, but my second attempt went much better. Still not the way I wanted them, though. In that post I wrote the following:

I hope to make another batch of macarons soon (and not in December 2016…), because it was so much fun to try this again and I’m determined to master the art of French macarons some day…

*coughs awkwardly*

Yes. That went well.

Anyway. I finally tried making them again. And they still didn’t turn out right. Let’s go through it, shall we? I’ll try not to be too bitter!

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Top Ten Books I Want To Read This Winter

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s been ages since I did a Top Ten Tuesday. In fact, this is my first one this year – and it’s almost December. Yikes. This week’s topic is books you want to read this winter. Now, I know I just did a post on my end of year TBR, but winter doesn’t stop on December 31st, so here are some more books I want to read before winter is over!

I’ll be honest, though; I’m pretty sure I won’t get around to reading all of these before spring. Partly because I’m not a very fast reader, but also because I fully intend on going back to my mood reading ways in the new year. I love being a mood reader! It keeps the spontaneity in reading, I think. All of the books on this list are books I already own, because I bought a lot of books over the past couple of months and I want to read them ALL.

So, onto the list (the links lead to Goodreads)!

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My First Foray Into Comic Books: The Sandman and Saga

I think it’s fair to say that I read a lot of books. I mean, I’ve got a book blog, for crying out loud, so this is a major case of “no shit, Sherlock”. Yet, despite being an avid reader, I never read comic books. The only thing I ever read (and I only just remembered this) is W.I.T.C.H., which I loved – and never finished, come to think of it.

Anyway. The point of this post is that recently I did read two comic books, because my boyfriend owns a few and I got curious. In August, I read Neil Gaiman’s Preludes & Nocturnes, which is a collection of the first 8 installments (or whatever they’re called – let’s remember I’m a rookie) of The Sandman. And then just this week I finished reading Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Turns out, I quite like comic books. I wasn’t blown away by either, but I did really enjoy reading them. Plus, they’re nice quick reads for my Goodreads challenge; let’s not pretend that wasn’t on my mind as well.

The thing I have found to be a little annoying with comic books is that there’s so many volumes, though… Before you know it, you’ve finished the first one, and then what? Just buy all the rest of them? It’s all so cliffhanger-y, but buying the rest of the series in one go seems a little excessive…

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End of Year TBR: In Which I Let Go Of My Mood Reading Ways

IMG_20171119_151701_678I was looking through my shelves earlier today,  trying to find inspiration for Instagram pictures, when I noticed once again that there are SO many books about which I’ve been telling myself that I’ll “read them as soon as possible”. Every book blogger (and probably every bookworm in general) is familiar with this problem, of course. We’re buying more books than we can read, and there’s always that one book (or actually in most cases; several books) that just keep sitting there on that shelf, never taking priority. It’s not that you don’t want to read it; it’s just that you want to read other books more.

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