The End of Year Book Survey 2017

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The year is almost over, which means it’s time for the End of Year Book Survey, brainchild of the wonderful Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner! My reading goal for this year was to read 35 books. It was a bit lower than previous years, but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, especially considering the fact that at the beginning of 2017 I had no idea what my life would look like at the end of it. I managed to read those 35 books, and I’m currently half way through the 36th. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to finish that one before the new year, though, because I’ve got over 250 pages left to read and there’s only 4 more hours in 2017, which I won’t be spending with a book unfortunately.

I had a fun reading year! Of course, there were so many more books I wish I’d read this year, but that would be the case even if I’d read over a 100 books. So, I’m pretty content! Most of my reads were 4 or 5 star ones; I guess that’s the advantage of not being able to read that many books and being extra picky about choosing my next read.

Anyway, there are about a million questions to get through, so let’s get to it!

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Festive Fortnight [14]: Merry Christmas!

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Tomorrow is Christmas day, which means today is the very last day of the Festive Fortnight ! I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by! Of course, two weeks isn’t a very long time in the first place, but still. I started preparing all of the past thirteen posts in November, and now they’re all up. Time does fly when you’re having fun!

And I did have a lot of fun! I won’t lie, it was a bit stressful at times, but I’m really happy with all of my posts. The idea for the Festive Fortnight was born out of the fact that I wanted to post more Christmas recipes and bake more Christmas-themed stuff. Well, that definitely worked out great!

Considering the fact that I did have to think of thirteen posts for the past two weeks, my imagination has run dry right about now, which is why today will be a simple round up of everything that’s happened this Festive Fortnight. The links to all of the posts (except the first one, which was the announcement) are below the pictures!

Before we get to that, though, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

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Festive Fortnight [13]: A Festive Book and Dessert Pairing Guide

Christmas Book Dessert Guide

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! It’s nearly Christmas and I cannot wait. Yesterday was my last day of work for the year and now I’ve got eleven days off! There will be tons of reading and relaxing and doing absolutely nothing and it’ll probably be over before I know it. Like this Festive Fortnight – tomorrow is the last post already. I feel as if we’ve only just started!

Today I’ve got a fun post for you that involves both books and baking (the perfect combination, of course). A few years ago I posted a book and dessert pairing guide, with a graphic made by Shari’s Berries. A few days ago, they got in touch with me again about a Christmas version of such a guide. It seemed like the perfect post to include in my Festive Fortnight!

Below, you’ll find twelve books about Christmas and a fitting dessert to go with them. I’ve scoured the web for recipes for these desserts – I hope there’s something to your liking! Perhaps this will provide you with some inspiration for Christmas dinner…

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Festive Fortnight [12]: Christmas Tree Meringues

These Christmas Tree Meringues are the last recipe of the Festive Fortnight (cue “aaaaaw”s – there’ll still be two other posts, though) and they might be my favourite! I came across the concept of these meringues at a Dutch blog (Laura’s Bakery) and I immediately figured they’d be perfect for the Festive Fortnight. Ever since I got my free standing mixer, I’ve loved making meringues! They’re absolutely delicious treats and you can go all kinds of ways with the decoration.

The last time I made them I used food colouring gel to spruce them up for the first time, and I decided that I would use that same technique to paint these Christmas trees with some festive colours! I used red and green – the obvious Christmas colours – but you could also use all green if you want the meringues to resemble Christmas trees even more.

I based my meringue recipe on this recipe by CupcakeJemma and if you’re unsure how to make a good meringue, I’d definitely recommend watching her video. I tried to be as clear as I could in my instructions, but actually seeing what you’re supposed to be doing will beat any description I can give. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but Jemma describes everything super clearly.

These are so yummy, and they were gone before I knew it. My father in particular is a huge fan of meringues, but, then again, he’ll eat anything that has sugar as its main ingredient, it seems!

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Festive Fortnight [11]: Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag

We’re eleven days into the Festive Fortnight, so it’s high time for a book tag! I went in search of a fun Christmas-themed one and Google brought me the Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag via XingSings. I’ve been reminded once more of how bad I am at making choices; picking books for the answers to these questions was so hard. But I did, so let’s get into it straight away!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE.

The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favourite stand alone?

Man, we’re jumping straight into the deep end, aren’t we? This question tore me up inside, but in the end I’m going for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I might change my mind again tomorrow, but that’s okay. This is one of my favourite books ever! It’s got so much love and heart and it’s just wonderful. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve recommended it to.

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Festive Fortnight [10]: Chocolate Cookies with Mint Icing

Just looking at the pictures of these cookies makes me incredibly happy. They look so cute and festive! Plus, I know how they taste as well and let me tell ya; they are delicious. These cookies are a huge success all around.

This is the first time I made royal icing myself. Last year, when I made gingerbread cookies (which looked similar to these chocolate cookies) I bought ready made royal icing, because I couldn’t find a place to buy corn syrup. This time I had a little more time and did a little more research, and I found out you can just as easily use golden syrup, which I’ve got lying around in my cupboard anyway. The icing is super easy to make, and the mint really takes it up a notch.

The cookies themselves are wonderful, too. They’ve got a very rich chocolate-y taste and the texture is just right as well. And like the icing, they’re super easy to make! Just make sure you’ve got some time, because the dough will need to chill in the fridge for an hour. Apart from that, it’s a quick recipe with standard ingredients. Perfect for the Christmas holidays!

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Festive Fortnight [9]: A Festive Review of Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

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“I need you to be my person. I need to see you. And hear you. I need you to stay alive. And I need you to stop kissing other people just because they’re standing next to you when the ball drops.”

Two festive short stories

Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time…

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

First published: 2017

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Festive Fortnight [8]: Gingerbread Cupcakes

These gingerbread cupcakes were a hit! I made them for a birthday party and everybody loved them. I have to say, I was amazed by how incredibly delicious they turned out. I’m not the biggest fan of cupcakes (I’m of the opinion that frosting is highly overrated) so I don’t make them that often, which made this recipe a bit of an experiment. But it was definitely a succesful one!

The molasses are the big winner in this recipe, I think. Of course, they’re quite integral to gingerbread cookies and thus to gingerbread cupcakes, but I’m in awe with just how much extra depth the molasses bring to the flavour. The ginger also definitely comes through, which I love, and it makes sure the cupcakes don’t taste too sweet.

Then in comes the frosting; it’s a cream cheese frosting and it’s incredibly soft and smooth. The dash of cinnamon adds that extra little something and makes these cupcakes fingerlicking good. I mean, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet too much, but I’m pretty darn proud of these!

Those tiny little cookies on top are a Dutch ‘delicacy’. They’re tiny speculaas cookies (similar to gingerbread) which are generally eaten on sandwiches (I know – but it’s delicious!). I actually wanted to use Christmas sprinkles, but couldn’t find them, so these were a makeshift solution. It looks pretty cute, though, I think!

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Festive Fortnight [7]: An Amsterdam Book Haul

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took the train to Amsterdam for a fun day out together. I was planning on taking some nice festive pictures of all the Christmas lights, but it was pouring rain when we got there, which was a bit of a bummer. We still had a great day, though! We spent some time wandering around town, had great food, and visited an interesting exhibition on Medieval times at a museum.

And then, of course, there were the bookshops. Oh, the bookshops… I love them so! I was planning on buying some books in Amsterdam since I still had some book vouchers, but I didn’t expect we’d come home with eight of them! Eight is enough to warrant a good book haul, right? Right! Let’s go!

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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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