May 30, 2011

The Mountains Bow Down

Last night I finished the book: 'The Mountains Bow Down' by Sibella Giorello.

        The novels main character is named Raleigh, who is an FBI agent.  She is supposed to be going on a vacation cruise to Alaska, but when a murder occurs on the ship she gives up her vacation plans.  The events in this book occur over the period of a week, which keeps the suspence at a moderate pace (not too slow or too fast).  While Raleigh is on the case she also navigates through tough personal issues surrounding her mom and fiance.

        The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it ended quite abruptly.  The murder case was wrapped up and all the questions were answered, but her personal conflicts were left up in the air.  At this point I knew that this book was one in a series because her personal story was what would connect all of her future books.  I am left wondering about what will happen in Raleigh's personal life, which should make me want to read the next book, but I don't think I will be rushing out to get the others anytime soon.

        It was a good book, and a mystery that takes many turns and keeps you guessing.

May 29, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate-Banana Bread Muffins

What a title huh?

I began by scouring the internet for gluten free banana bread recipes.  I found hundreds of people offering their gf (gluten free) recipes and I studied a dozen or so of these recipes.  I decided to use other peoples recipe as my guide, then I created my own recipe.  It was another cooking experiment.

When I did this I made 1/2 the batter plain banana bread muffins.  Then I put cocoa powder in the remainder of the batch.  I already calculated that into the recipe.  [If you want to make a whole batch of choco-banana use the 1/2 cup, if you want half a batch of plain and choco banana use 1/4 cup on the remaining batter]

The recipe:
2 cups Pamela's gluten free baking flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder (OPTIONAL)
5 bananas 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons agave
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

Combine wet ingredients with sugar and butter, then I added the bananas into this as well.  Then mix into the combined dry ingredients.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Since this was an experiment I was thinking that next time I will add 1/4 cup of water because the batter seemed too dry, and its not something I thought of until after the fact anyway.  I was wondering if it really was too dry as I made it, but only when talking to other, more experienced cookers I learned that maybe more water or oil would make them even better.

Fun Picture:
Wet ingredients
looks pretty unhealthy, but turns out pretty good.

I'm linking up to these parties:
The Girl Creative

Grardening Project

I have begun a little garden.  For years the backyard at my mom's house has become a desert, no grass or trees, just annoying weeds.  This summer I am trying to change that.  We have planted a patch (emphasis on patch) of grass, using sod from the home depot, and several hibiscus plants.  The decision to make a garden had to do with our tortoises.

Our tortoises (but I call them turtles), are two years old and eat a lot.  Last year we learned that we had to start feeding the turtles grass and flowers in order for them to grow healthy.  So we need to grow our own grass and flowers in order for the turtles to have food.

I am writing to tell you that I have managed to keep the grass and plants ALIVE! It is quite exciting, being that I have just jumped into this endeavor.  Recently I planted some dichondra (clover things), which are sprouting up and making me feel like a competent gardener.

These pictures of the plants do not do my skills justice. You see, the turtles go around eating all the leaves off the bottom of the plants so they look like they are not growing.  And my dichondra really aren't that big, obviously, but that are sprouting, which means I am doing something right.  Every little sprout encourages me to continue learning about making my garden.

May 26, 2011


Last week I finished the book "Specials" by Scott Westerfeld. I have to say this is my favorite book in his trilogy. The two previous books were "Uglies" and "Pretties."

In this book the main characters are 'special' and are able to do incredible things with absolute freedom. Tally is still in an internal battle of finding her place is in the world, and struggling to find out who she is.

This is similar to the first book in that there is suspense that pushes the book forward, and makes you not want to put the book down.  What I think makes this book great is that there is a 'cure' to being 'pretty.'  The people in this book are rejecting societal norms and creating a new way of life.  This book is a kind of metaphor for hope, in that  people can work together to bring about change.

I recommend this series to everyone.  It is categorized as a 'teen' book, which means anyone can read it.  I think that the series brings up good thoughts about the environment, socialization, and being independent.  I am sure there are so many other things to say about this book, but I don't want to ruin the series by giving you lots of details about the book.


The other day I decided I should make granola bars so that I would eat breakfast in the morning.
When I wake up I am so not in the mood to eat anything, which means I usually end up starving by the time I get off work.  This is a bad cycle which I am trying to stop.  I figure granola bars are super convenient and easy to eat, so it would be a perfect breakfast for me.  Yet, when I tried the store bought ones, I find them way to sweet to be eaten in the morning right after brushing my teeth.  So I endeavored to make my own. 

I looked through food blogs and found various recipes and combination's.  I decided to make my own recipe because I did not have all the ingredients needed to follow one of the ones already posted.  After looking and studying each recipe I came up with my own.  So this was definitely an experiment.

And this experiment yielded granola not granola bars.  It is not too sweet, with a great amount of crunch. And the baking cooked the oats enough so that they are not tough.

I used two different recipes to guide my experiment, which can be found here and here.

The Recipe:

2 cups oats
½ cup pecans
½ cup walnuts
1 cup cherry crasins
1 scoop protein powder
4 tbs butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
Some honey

Mix dry ingredients together.  Melt butters, sugar, and honey in saucepan.  Bring the ingredients in the saucepan to a boil, but don’t let the liquid burn.  Combine all ingredients and mix well. 
Bake at 300 degrees for 30-35 min.

I baked these in a deep dish which may have made them more prone to crumble.  Next time I make them I will put more liquid into the bars (like eggs, oil, more butter), so that hopefully they will hold them together better.  I will also use no such a deep pan, maybe if they are thinner they will hold more too. 

This calls for another experiment.  But only once I finish my current granola.

Linking up with these fine blogs:
Somewhat Simple HouseofHepworths

May 23, 2011

Small grad gift

One of my family acquaintances is graduating from an online high school.  So there was a small family get together to celebrate her accomplishment.  I wanted to do something kind of special, we got her a program for her new computer, which wasnt much pretty stuff to open.  So I decided to make something a little special.

I love the dollar tree, and they have some really neat grad stuff.  So on a whim I was inspired to decorate a cup to crate a small keepsake item.

I grabbed a plain run of the mill cup that said "grad." 

It was nothing very special, until I thought I could decorate it to make it something that is worth using and showing off.  I decided to use some puffy paint to decorate the cup.

I worked my way around the cup making designs and caps.  There were a few smear marks of where I tried to wipe off a few mistakes, but hopefully no one will inspect it that closely.

I only had two puffy paint colors at the time, something I will hopefully use for another project, so it is not very exciting, but special enough I think.

My brother is also graduating this week, and I am planning to make him a cup for his graduation part.  I was lucky to find a 'grad' cup of his schools color (green), so I will decorate that this week, after buying other puffy paint colors. 

Since this was first published I did make my brother his own cup.  And I tried to leave it kind of plain so that it wouldn't be too girlie.

I am linking up to M.M.M at CRAFT and Some Day Crafts

Keeping It Simple lil luna link party button

May 21, 2011


Yesterday I finished the second book by Scott Westerfeld, called Pretties.  It is the second in his series, with the previous one being Uglies. 

This book follows the same young girl Tally through the adventures of being a pretty.  In this case pretty means a modified human, who underwent surgery to make everyone the same and to think alike.  She is a strong willed girl who fights with all her might to not be trapped by the ideas that others have put into her brain. 
     This second book is not as good as the first, the author has to create a whole new world for the reader to become a part of, so it takes some setup chapters, which are not as exciting.  The book follows the same premise as the previous book, finding new characters and events that impact this particular group of friends. 
     Tally is trying to escape the ideas that society is putting in her head, which can be tied to our lives right now.  We have this idea of pretty, but its so small and encompasses only 1% of the population.  All people are beautiful in their own way, and it makes life great that their is this diversity that can be seen and appreciated.  This author goes above and beyond what others do. 
     He uses ideas from the present, creates a future world, then combines them to tell a futuristic story that is incredibly relate-able to today's culture.

I have already started book three called Specials.  I have only read part one, but it is already more exciting, and incorporates characters from the first and second book which is really what I really want to read about.  

May 16, 2011

the 'Uglies'

I recently joined an online book club you can see here.  This months book is "Uglies" by scott westerfeld.  It is a great book.  Its a teen novel, so it reads pretty fast, but it is none-the-less one of the best reads.  I wouldn't consider it teen, it seems pretty adult to me, but what do I know?  There are a lot of ideas thrown discretely into the book that refer to today's society and questions the values that society currently holds.  Its strange the book takes a futuristic point of view, but its a future that is a result from the way things are now (or at least something that seems plausible in the far future).  The story is about a girl of 16 who decides between being an ugly or a pretty, so I can see how maybe its considered 'teen.'

The book ends in a cliff hanger, and it was only then that I knew it was a series.  Thankfully for me the whole series has been written so I can read them all at once and not have to wait for any.  Upon finishing the "Uglies" I went on the library site and found there was a long line for the second book of the series "pretties", so I went to the bookman's down the street, they didn't have it, so I had to stop at barns and noble because I just cannot wait to start reading the next one.  I am already on the waiting list at the library for the third and fourth book of the series so that when I am done reading this one I will not have to wait to start devouring the next.

May 14, 2011

Friendship Love Letter

Today I have decided to link up with Mamma Kat and her writing workshop.  You choose a prompt, write it out, and let it flow into the universe.  This is my first time trying to link up, I hope I got it right... I chose to write a love letter, but this is to someone I consider a friend, who I have loved having in my life.

Dear you with those crazy kids,
     I am so glad you asked me to come and babysit for you.  I love your kids so much and would do anything for them.  You let me into your home one day and I have always wanted to stay.  I know we are in different places in our lives, there is a small gap in our ages, but I want to get to know you and become your friend, not just the girl who babysits your kids.  I think that you are a crazy cool person, doing your own thing and showing the world your wonderful smile.
     I am grateful for you, and that you have opened your home to me.  Whenever I feel lonely I want to just stop by to have a good time with you and your kids.  I hope that sometime I can become someone maybe you want to hang out with, and someone who you can talk to.  My life has become so much better with you as a part of it.  I don't think I will ever have the courage to tell you this to your face, that I think of you as a friend.
     I love you for all the kindness you have shown to me and hope that I can continue to be part of your family as time goes by.

Tearful Ending

I just finished one of the newer Nicholas Spark's books called Safe Haven, and oh man, the end is a tear jerker.  There are some parts you don't see coming, others are terrifying, and there is a kind of suspense that runs throughout the book that makes you want to keep reading and learn more about the characters.
     This book is about a girl (or woman, whichever you prefer) named Katie who is starting a new life in a small town.  The book takes us through her new life, and how it is different from what she has had in the past.  We learn a dark secret that she is hiding from everyone, and trying to forget herself.  As you can imagine, it being a Nicholas Spark book and all, there is a guiding love story, something that touches your heart as you move through and become a part of this complicated tale.
      The ending is not sad, though tears did fall, but in a way that you are overwhelmed with happiness for Katie, and that she has overcome all these obstacles to get everything she wants out of life.

May 11, 2011

Craft Hope

As I have been searching sites for ideas and inspiration I stumbled upon this thing called Craft Hope.  Its where people craft for a cause.  This months mission is to make bracelets for orphans in russia.  I am totally into this, and it is my new obsession for the next month. 

I want to do this in order to be a part of something bigger than myself.  Its a great way to do something small, but know that it will make a big difference to those children who have nothing.  I am trying to think of new ways to create bracelets so that not everything is the same. 

I stated this yesterday, and I have made three bracelets already.  Of course, my conviction may waver through the month, so I am not sure I will be able to keep up such a pace.  But I like the idea of coming together with others and working toward a common goal. 

It's like an independent activity that connects you to many people all at the same time. 


I hope that maybe through this others will join and this can make an even bigger impact.  I have decided I am going to focus my bracelet making on making ones for the boys.  Its easy to use pretty colors and shiny beads, but I am taking a different path, wanting to make sure that everyone will be included.

May 10, 2011

Left over peeps

I am a fan of peeps, though not obsessed.  I got a bunch boxes for easter, and over time this marshmallow becomes just another marshmallow, and the fun and excitement of their cuteness has worn thin. 

So to finish off my last few peep boxes I decide to make some chocolate dipped peeps.

I pushed toothpicks into their heads (which at first I thought was quite funny for some odd reason).  Then used some mircrowave melting chocolate (called Dolci frutta) to dunk them in.  Then let dry and you have a flavor enriched peep.

They were quickly devoured, mostly by me, but are an excellent treat.


Hi! my name is Amy.  I am a graduate student who is having a bit of a quarter-life crisis.  I am taking the summer off from school, no summer school or even thinking about next semester.  This semester has beat me down.  I have been so unmotivated, and completely indifferent to classes.  The only joy in my life right now is, well, shopping.  That's lame.  This summer will be me finding inspiration, maybe trying new things, and doing some well deserved relaxing.

My hobbies includes: crafting (scrap-booking, painting, some amateur jewelry making), reading, dollar store shopping, playing outside with the kids I baby sit, doing crafts with kids, crochet, and watching TV.
But I am so ready to learn other hobbies, I mean I get bored really easily, so I need to have many things that can occupy my time.