Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Reading Suggestions

Girl Reading on a Park Bench
Hello everyone!

Last week, I did a post about my summer reading list and what I plan to read this summer.  I make my list out each year with whatever happens to catch my eye as far as books go.  If you're looking for some books to add to your summer reading list, here's a few that I would suggest.  These suggestions are rather eclectic because that's the way that I read. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -  I'm sure that you've heard about this trilogy by now.  You've probably heard that once you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down until you've finished.  This is completely true.  I would suggest these novels for anyone, but if you're especially into dystopias, you should read this.  Also, the movie based on the series comes out in March 2012.  It's best to go ahead and read the books now.  If you wait too late and read the books too close to the release of the movies, you'll be annoyed by all of the changes made in the movie.  Happens every time.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley - This book is one of my favorites.  It won a Newbery Honor so obviously other people agree with me about how good it is.  If you enjoy fantasy novels, you will enjoy this one.  The plot features a not annoying young female protagonist which is a nice change.  However, the best part of the novel is the detail that McKinley goes into while creating another world.  This book will draw you in and delight you.

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley - This one is kind of a prequel to The Blue Sword even though both books can be read on their own.  Some people might complain that the pace of the novel moves slowly, but if you take the time to slow down and lost yourself in the narrative, you will find this book amazing.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I do realize that this book is extremely long at 900+ pages.  You don't have to read it all at once though.  I haven't seen the movie, but even at 4 hours, I'm certain that it can't capture the richness of the story on the pages.  I would suggest that you read this once because there is a reason why it is a classic. 

Dracula by Bram Stroker - Vampire fiction has been very in vogue lately.  As you are probably aware some of it is very, very not good.  So why would you want to read one of the best know vampire novels?  Because this one is actually quite good.  Forget what you've seen in every horrible Dracula movie and read this classic. 

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews - If you are looking for a biography to pick up this summer and you haven't already read this one, then you should.  In this memoir, Andrews recounts the early years of her life, how she got her start at a young age, and her success on the musical stage long before she became a film star.  I am completely amazed by Julie Andrews and her talent.

These are just a few of my suggestions.  If you'd like some more, feel free to ask.  What do you suggest as reading for this summer?

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Reading List

girl with books
Image credit weheartit

It's that time of year again.  Summer.  As much as I love curling up with a good book in the winter, I have more free time for reading during the summer holidays.  Each year before I get out for summer, I enjoy making out a list of the books that I'd like to read during the summer.  Just in case I ever find myself wondering what to read next.

I have absolutely no method for choosing which books go on this list.  The list includes books that I actually own and haven't managed to read yet, books that I've been told are good, books that I think seem interesting, really just any books at all.  Although I might not actually read each book on my list, I will make it though most of them, and I will read many, many more that aren't on the list at all.  If you're making out your summer list too, I hope that my list and my reasoning behind the books that I've chosen can help you pick out a book or two to add to your list.

  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - The Help is going to be my serious novel of the summer.  From what I understand, it's about the civil rights movement, but it's told from a difference angle than what you would usually expect.  I'm heard lots of good things about the novel, and it's set in Mississippi as well so I have to read it.  I think I'm going to have to take it in slowly though.
  2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe - I have no idea why this book is on my list.  Possibly I added it after rereading Swiss Family Robinson.  That would make sense, right?  Sometimes, I do strange things.  I think I'll read it though.
  3. The Princess de Cleves by by Madame de Lafayette - The Princess de Cleves has been on my bookshelf for over a year.  I just haven't picked it up yet.  It was written in the 17th century I believe so it's a bit difficult to read.  I'm interested in the plot though.  Love triangle, French court, 16th century. 
  4. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan - I want to read this one because of Little Women and the scenes in which the March sisters play Pilgrim's Progress.  Wanting to read one book because of another book always seems like a good idea to me.
  5. If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White - After Betty White's re-surge in popularity, I'm interested in reading this book about some of the things that she's learned in over 70 years of her career.  According to some reviews, her memoir, Here We Go Again, is better.  I'll read which ever I can get my hands on first.  Possibly both.  Or neither.  It's the summer.  I can change my mind.
  6. My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke - This memoir makes my list because I adore the Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Poppins too, of course.  Who doesn't?
  7. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness - The title of this novel caught my interest on Amazon's bestseller list.  It's about witches and vampires, two very popular subjects in the book world lately.  I hope it's good.  I've read some very bad witch/vampire fiction as well as some very good witch/vampire fiction.  Bestseller usually indicates good, but you never know. 
  8. Chalice by Robin McKinley - This is on my list because Robin McKinley is one of my favorite fiction writers.  It came out several years ago, but I somehow missed it.  According to the reviews that I've read this is more like some of her first novels than her most recent novels.  That is perfectly fine with me because her first three novels happen to be my favorites.
  9. Pegasus by Robin McKinley - Another book by Robin McKinley.  This one came out in November though, so I'm not quite so far behind.  This one involves a princess and a pegasus, so it should be interesting.  McKinley is wonderful at creating new worlds, and her style of writing is so unique and rich that I enjoy reading her work usually regardless of the subject.  I am slightly wary though because I've come to expect such good things from her that I judge her books more severely than I would another writers' which doesn't seem fair.
  10. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore - I read the first chapter of this book at the Penguin Group website.  During this first chapter, Arthur Conan Doyle is trying to figure out how he can kill off his celebrated character.  If the rest of the book is as good as this first chapter, it's going to be a good book.  Add to this that I recently read Conan Doyle's book in which Sherlock Holmes actually dies.  I'm looking forward to this one a lot
These 10 books aren't everything that I'll be reading this summer.  There will be many more books since I'm  taking Women in Literature and Major Authors of American Lit at my university this summer. 

If you're still looking for suggestions, I'll be putting up a list of my suggestions for summer reads later this week.  I'd like to know what you think of the books I have on my list so far.  Have you read or heard of any of them?  What do you think about them, and what will you be reading this summer?

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cake and cupcake inspirations

Hello everyone!  I hope that your week is off to a good start.

My week is certainly starting off well since today happens to be my birthday!  This year, I won't be having a cake for my birthday since I'm without an oven as are all of my friends.  However, since I love making cakes for my friends' birthdays when I'm at home in the US, I have a huge collection of cake and cupcake ideas ready for next year.  Maybe I'll make myself a late birthday cake when I get home if I can't wait until the next closest birthday.  Maybe.  Even if you don't plan on baking soon, please enjoy the beautiful cakes.

Minnie Mouse Cupcakes
Photo via weheartit
I'm loving the Minnie Mouse cupcakes.  After all no one is ever too old for Disney. 

Moon and Stars Cupcakes
photo via weheartit
These remind me a bit of Mickey's hat in the Sorcerer's Apprentice. 

Layered Birthday Cake
photo via weheartit
White icing? Check. Colored dots? Check. Layers of pink and white? Check.  I think that's everything that a cake needs to be perfect.

Dolley Madison Layer Cake
photo from marthastewart.com
This is called the Dolley Madison Layer Cake.  I just really want to try making a caramel cake.  It is understated and not over the top, but still impressive.  Sometimes when I bake, I forget that taste is just as important as looks.

Rose Cake
Photo credit naturallyella
I've seen several cakes with the rose pattern technique.  I think that learning to do the roses would be a good way to make a basic cake look even more elegant when the occasion calls for something more than normal.

Donut Cake
Photo credit - Love. Luck. Kisses & Cake Found via pinterest

This seems like the perfect solution for when you need a cake quickly or if you don't like baking.  Who wouldn't want a cake made of doughnuts?  Extra points if they are Krispy Kreme.

Do you have a go to cake for certain occasions or any cakes that you're looking forward to trying in the future?  We'd love to hear about them.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gifts for Girl Grads Going to College

Gifts for Girl Grads

Hello everyone! I hope that you are having a wonderful day!

With graduation season beginning soon, I thought that today would be a good time to offer some suggestions on gifts to get for high school grads. 

- One of the first gift ideas for a girl who will be living in a dorm room at college next year is a laundry bag.  As you might guess, this gift comes in extremely handy when a girl has to take her laundry to whatever inconvenient place the washers and dryer happen to be located...and it's good for taking home laundry on the weekend too.  I've seen several ruffle laundry bags like the one above from Urban Outfitters which would make doing laundry more fun. 

- The second suggestion is the ever popular collegeatic items.  You can find cups, bulletin boards, t-shirts, sweatshirts, decals, mugs, bags, towels, teddy bears...basically anything that you can think of, you can find covered in the logo of the college or university that your grad plans to attend.  After all, who doesn't love school spirit?

- My third suggestion actually combines several ideas into one.  Vera Bradley printed items are all over college campuses.  I can't think of any girl I know from my university who doesn't have at least one thing in a Vera Bradley pattern.  One of the most useful items is the Vera Bradley Zip ID Case.  Everyone needs an ID case because it will hold her college ID, her driver's license, her keys, and her phone.  Basically all of the necessities.

Also, many girls that I know also have a Vera Bradley Duffel . A duffel bag is an indispensable item for any college girl.  She'll need it for packing her things for a weekend at home or a trip with friends.  Despite the fact that I've suggested Vera Bradley, any ID case or duffel bag would be a good gift.  My duffel bag is, in fact, not Vera Bradley.  If you choose Vera Bradley, check to see if your girl has a preferred pattern.  (I also realize that I've included a laptop case in the picture above. Only get this if you know what size laptop she has.  I included it to give you an idea of the style of patterns. Oh, and because I want it.)

- Final suggestion, Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss.  I'm sure that you've probably noticed this book in any display suggesting gifts for grads.  There is a reason why this is such a popular gift at graduation.  This book is written for those getting ready to begin a new adventure in their lives.  Some of the most basic truths of life are presented inside this book.

I hope that my suggestions for gifts are helpful to anyone who is looking for a gift to help their grad celebrate this important event.  If you know of anyone who might be looking for suggestions please feel free to share this post with them (there are buttons at the bottom to share through email, blogger, tweets, and facebook.)   I know that there are many more things that could be included on this list for graduation gifts.  If anyone has any suggestions that they wish to share, please leave a comment and if anyone still has trouble finding the perfect gift, just ask.  We'll do our best to help you think of something.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 Scone Recipes to Try

As I mentioned earlier I spent my spring break traveling through the UK.  One of my favorite parts of the trip (I had lots of favorite parts of the trip) was stopping by a cafe one afternoon to try tea and scones.  I already knew that I would like scones since my mom likes to make this recipe for Cranberry Drop Scones on Sunday mornings.  She always says that those scones aren't as good as the ones she ate in England though.  This has always confused me since I think the drop scones taste good.  I have to say that now I understand, and I've begun a search for a recipe to recreate the scones that I tasted.

The following 10 scone recipes are some of the most interesting options that I have found so far in my search.  I think that real scones don't need anything other than cream and jam to taste amazing, but I can't help wanting to make scones with other things added in as well.  If you are trying to avoid to much sugar, go ahead and scroll down to numbers 9 and 10 because the rest in this list tend to contain chocolate.

1. Maple Bacon Brown Sugar Scones
2. Blueberry Scones
3. Samoas Scones
4. Chocolate Chip Cream Scones
5. Cookies n' Cream Scones
6. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones
7. Chocolate Cranberry Scones
8. Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
9. Girdle Scones
10. Classic Scones

I think that number 10 is probably the kind of scone that I'm searching for.  Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thanks for Our First Award!

Thanks to Alexandra at Ropcorn for giving us our first blogging award.  We were so very excited to receive this unexpected award!  While we're thanking people, thanks also to everyone who has been reading our blog.  We're still learning about blogging, so thanks for supporting us.

The rules for this award are the following:
1. Thank and link back to the blogger that awarded you the badge.
2. Share 7 things about you.
3. Award 5 or 15 other bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers to let them know about the award.

7 things 6 things about us (because 7 doesn't divide evenly)

1. Jennifer - I love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
2. Jennifer - My dream summer job would be to work at a Disney park as one of the Disney princesses.
3. Jennifer - I really like sonnets especially Spencer and things written by John Donne.
4. Elizabeth - My favorite movie is The Princess Bride with Secondhand Lions being a close second.
5. Elizabeth - I cannot wait for summer when I can eat watermelons again.
6. Elizabeth - My newest favorite city is London.

We pass on the The Versatile Blogger Award to
Pudding Pie Lane
The Book Garden 
Slow Southern Style 
The Simply Luxurious Life
The World According to Marilynn

If any of the above would like to pass on the award please do, but don't feel obligated to do so if you don't want to.

I hope that everyone has a lovely day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Shoes That Every Girl Needs (part 2)

A few weeks ago, I did a post called The 5 Shoes that Every Girl Needs.  However, I do realize that every girl doesn't need exactly the same kind of shoes depending on where you live and what your own personal tastes are.  So with a few suggestions, I've made another list.  The shoes on this list are more fun and not quite so basic as the ones on the previous list.  If you have all of the basics, this a a good list to help you build your shoe collection.  If you can only buy a few shoes, then it helps to have an idea of what kind of shoes you really want.

The Shoes that Every Girl Need (part 2)

1.  The first type of shoe that I would suggest is a ballet flat that is flexible and can be put in your bag for occasions when you need to switch from heels to flats when you need to walk for a long distance.  I own a pair from Gap which are so comfortable that I tend to wear them all the time, not just for switching for walking.  Because they are flexible, they seem more comfortable than normal flats already are.

2.  While rain boots aren't necessary, I would suggest them if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain and you have to walk places often.  Rain boots work for college students like me, but if you feel like you want something more grown-up, you can always go for actual boots if you make sure that you get boots that are waterproof.  I still love wearing my pink and brown rain boots with my matching umbrella.  It seems to make rainy days more enjoyable. 

3.  Since summer is about to start, wedge heels are a great choice for cute summer shoes.  Wedge heels go perfectly with sundresses which are a summer staple in most girls' closets.  They are also easier to walk in than normal heels as well.  We all know that sprained ankles are not a good way to start off the summer.

4.  I'm sure that by now everyone knows what TOMS are.  For every TOMS shoe that you purchase, the company will donate one pair to a child in need (find out more at toms.com.)  You can't miss these shoes because it seems like almost everyone has a pair now.  TOMS are perfect for casual outfits.  At the moment, I really like the sparkly TOMS.  I recently saw the pink pair for the first time, and now I don't know which one of the colors to choose.  For those who don't like so much shine, there are plenty of other choices.

5.  Another good choice for summer is a fun pair of sandals.  I don't think this one needs any explaining.  Summer = sandals.

6.  The last suggestion for today is peep toes.  I have to say that I don't wear peep toes because I don't like the way that my toes look in them.  However, they can be wonderful for times when you need something less formal than your normal high heels, but you still want something fun.  Also, if you keep your toes pedicured, you should show them off in peep toes as often as possible!

I realize that all of the options that I've shown are fairly common since I tend to stick with classics when it comes to shoes.  Does anyone enjoy following trends in footwear?  What is the craziest pair of shoes that you own?  For me, it's a pair of polka-dotted flats.  Like I said, I'm not very adventurous with shoes.

Thanks for stopping by today!


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