Saturday, September 21, 2013

Apples on Etsy

This week has been really uneventful, so instead of any letter describing the week, let me present to you my best apple related finds on Etsy.


1. This reversible tote is so cute! I love the color combination of the strap together with the square patterned fabric and the apple fabric. 

2. I love dresses and this apple patterned dress in happy colors would be a perfect fit for me! Too bad the size isn't the right one. 

3. Who doesn't love cute buttons? There are adorable! I just need to make some baby clothes to put them on. And a baby to make them for. 

4. Packing your lunch and bring to work is a great way to save money. And with these reusable sandwich and snack bags you can also be environmentally friendly at the same time! 

5. A great apron is something everyone needs. This apron in automny colors would be awesome to wear as I welcome my guests to our Thanksgiving dinner. 

6. I myself am an Android and not an Apple girl, but I'm pretty sure this iPad Mini sleeve will work just as well with my Samsung Galaxy 7.0

7. If you love apples so much you want to wear them, this is the dress for you! I think there was even a green version of it if that's more your color. 

8. What about a vintage apple crate label

9. There are so many different apple necklaces on Etsy, but this one with a branch and falling apples caught my attention! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple sauce

So what to do when you have a large amount of apples? I guess making apple sauce is one of the obvious answers. Since I've never made apple sauce before, Google was as always the answer to my prayers and I ended up using this recipe as a starting point for my own sauce.



I love how the recipe calls for "4 large cooking apples". What is large? What is cooking apples? So my own adaption of it was:

4 liters of apple chunks (peeled and cored)
300 grams sugar
18 cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
6-7 tbsp water
200 grams butter


Cutting and peeling apples is definitely not my favorite part, especially not when the apples are small and many, but after what felt like peeling a gazillion apples I had finally filled my big pot.
This is what 4 liters of peeled apples look like. 
And then I just threw in the sugar, cloves and water. And squeezed the lemon over it before I put it over medium heat on the stove.
Yep, here it is on the stove. Still looks pretty much like just 4 liters of peeled apples. 
I didn't really know what to expect when cooking the apples. The recipe didn't say much about how much time I should cook them, and then it said that I would have to mash when they had become soft. I discovered quite soon that the apples seemed to be mashing themselves while cooking, so I just left the pot simmering on the stove while occasionally stirring and observing that more and more of the apples disintegrated and became sauce.
Getting saucier and saucier by the minute.
When most of the apple chunks had become mashed, I started fishing out the cloves (this is the point where you are glad you counted the number of cloves you threw in, that way you know when you've found them all). I also took a fork and mashed some of the bigger chunks.
Now it really starts to look like apple sauce.
When the sauce was more or less chunk free (not perfectly so since I didn't run it through a food processor or blender) I added the butter. At this point I had turned the heat down to low, but the sauce was still cooking.
Yes, apple sauce is delicious, but not necessarily a diet product even when
you make it yourself. 
I was surprised at how the butter changed the sauce. I thought it already tasted good and had a nice, saucy consistency, but the butter made both the taste and the consistency so much smoother! If you feel that your apple sauce is too tart, I would recommend you to wait adding more sugar until after you have added the butter. The butter might give the sauce the right amount of sweetness.
5 boxes for us, one box for my nice neighbor who gave us the apples. 
My 4 liters of apples turned into to around 2 liters of apple sauce. We will have some of it with our dinner tonight (pork sirloin) and the rest I will freeze. I'm already thinking about making a second batch of it because it was so easy to make, and it turned out really great!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rouge Fatal

Red is my color. It has always attracted me. And since this week is dedicated apples, nothing fits better than also apple red nails.

After a manicure that was a little too much for me a couple of weeks ago, I decided to do something with another of the colors in the Passport to Color collection. I decided to combine OPI's Cajun Shrimp with Chanel's Rouge Fatal.
I use the Trind Nail Repair as base coat. I don't know if it is really meant to
be used as a base coat, but I think it is awesome! My nails don't break
and my nail polish doesn't start to flake off that easily. 
I still can't really make a straight line with a nail polish brush (or any other kind of brush with nail polish on it for that matter), but I'm almost starting to get a hold on making dots with a sewing pin stuck on a pencil.
The dotted line was supposed to be straight, but who cares? 
I like the contrast between the Cajun Shrimp and the Rouge Fatal. I might even do this same combination again at some other time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apple pie

I have said it before, and I say it again: I'm not much of a baker. However, I guess it is inevitable to make an apple pie when you get such wonderful apples from your neighbor.

Google is my best friend in moments like this, and this recipe sounded wonderful. I read some of the comments about it before starting to make it, so I decided on adding 1tbsp corn flour and some cinnamon. I love how well cinnamon works together with apples.
I made two small to share with my neighbor and one big for my husband and me.
I also chose to buy pie crust this time, since I had so much trouble the last. 
The recipe didn't call for it, but the ones who remember my troubles with the blueberry pie might understand that I chose to pre-bake the pie crust before adding the filling.
I wanted the apples completely covered with the batter, so I mixed them in with it
instead of pouring the batter over them. 
I poured the apples and the batter over the crusts and made some kind of square pattern with the rest of the pie dough. It was a little bit difficult since the pie dough I bough was round while the thing I use as a pie tin is square (and strictly speaking not a tin either).
Yea, I admit it, I have some problems cutting even strips. 
The pies baked for an hour and just started to smell better and better and better. 5 minutes before they were done, I took them out and sprinkled them with a little bit of sugar mixed with cinnamon before I put them back in again for the last 5 minutes.
Since the strips weren't connected to the crust beneath, they now
lie like a too small blanket on top of the pie. 
The batter consisted of butter, sugar, a little bit of water, a little bit of all purpose flour and a little bit of  corn starch. I have no idea how that batter is supposed to become solid, and it absolutely didn't.
It tasted much better than it looked! 
In a way it was the blueberry pie all over again - it looked like a mess, but tasted heavenly! And was perfect together with a glass of saft.

But seriously, has anyone a suggestion for a pie that is so easy to bake that even I can do it perfectly? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Meatless Monday #5: Roasted vegetables with apples

Today's Meatless Monday is heavily inspired by my favorite blogger, The Glamorous Librarian. It is just simply roasted vegetables with apples, olive oil and some spices.

I have a serious hang up on apples since my neighbor has a garden filled with an excellent variety of them. I know the most usual way of using apples in cooking, is making apple sauce. I will also do that, but this time I just wanted big chunks of warm, tasty apples.

I chopped up good sized chunks of apples, carrots, onions and celery root, threw them in a casserole dish together with some olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.
I love the automny colors! 
I would have loved to have grown my own herbs, but I'm not capable of keeping a cactus alive so I'll have to practice a lot before that will be reality. So for now I have to settle with the dried, store bought spices.

I let the veggies bake in the oven for around 45 minutes on 200C (400F) and it turned out great!
Here they are just out of the oven. 
This is another example to show that cooking doesn't have to be complicated in order to be delicious!

I of course made far too much for us, so we had the leftovers as a side later in the week.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How is my lemon tree doing?

No photo today because there's nothing to take a photo of.

The weather turned this week, and going from sunny and warm to cloudy and cold was not really in my consideration when I planted the lemon tree. I think this week has been too cold and the pot hasn't gotten enough sun. I dug up all the seeds and none of them had germinated.

I will however try again some time this week, but first I will have to get a grow lamp for my lemon tree. I will come back with an update next Sunday! Hopefully that update will be filled with a grow lamp and some newly planted seeds!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Liebster Award!

Wow, suddenly I was nominated for the Liebster Award by a blogger I didn't even know about. #thatfeeling ! 
Thank you so much, Daniela
There are so many awesome things about the nomination, but one of them is that it lead me to discover several really good blogs. 

The rules are as following: 
1. Each nominee should answer the 11 questions by the tagger.
2. Choose five bloggers with under 200 followers to pass this award to link them in your post.
3. Create 11 new questions for your chosen bloggers.
4. Go to their page and tell them about the nomination.
5. No tag backs.


So here are the questions I got and my answer to them: 

1. What do you love about blogging?
I love how it is a way to motivate myself to write better, take better photos, and to do something with any creative idea I have. 

2. What do you dislike about blogging?
I'm quite strict with myself and always put up rules that I have to follow. When blogging I make rules like "Meatless Monday" every week, post at least once every weekday etc. Sometimes I'm not very motivated to write the post I need for that day. But then just posting a photo can be the solution, and the next day I'm feeling better again. 

3. One trend that you absolutely love and one that you hate?
Oh, difficult question since I immediately think about fashion and I in no way am a fashionista or actually really interested in fashion at all. But then I realized that a trend can be anything. One trend I really like, is that buying second hand isn't just for poor people anymore. It is ok to make a conscious choice of thinking more about the environment and less about what is brand new and shiny. 
The trend I hate? UGGs. I really  hate those things that some people call shoes. They are ugly. They are not shoes. They don't deserve to be called shoes. They are just things to put on your feet that look silly. 

4. One piece of jewellery that you don't leave the house without?
My engagement ring and my wedding band. I feel naked without them! 

5. On your nails, dark, bright or pale nail polish?
Oh, that varies. But I think the nail polish I use the most often is Essie Mademoiselle, so I guess the answer will be pale. 

6. Do you have any pets? 
No, but we babysit my mother's dog relatively often. 

7. What is the one little thing that gets on your nerves?
People that wants to help in the kitchen and then use hours to chop the vegetables because they have no clue how to use a knife. I then really prefer just chopping them myself. 

8. If you could change one thing in your life with a snap of your fingers, what would that be?
I'm really happy with my life and can't really think of anything I'd like to change. Maybe I'd swap some of the crappy pair of shoes I've bought in my time for one or two pairs of Louboutins? 

9. Favourite dish and dessert?
I don't really think there is a specific dish I would say is my favorite no matter what, it all depends on the setting I do however love pizza with garlic, onion, parma ham, mushrooms and artichokes. 
I'd rather have a good cheese plate than dessert.. 

10. Favourite type of music?
Indie rock.

11. Favourite book/author?
I've already declared my love for JK Rowling and Harry Potter here on the blog. 
I also adore Le petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 


So what are the questions I want answered? 
1. What was the main motivation for you to start blogging? 
2. What blog post are you especially proud of?
3. What blog post are you now almost a little embarrassed having posted?  
4. What do you serve the first time you invite your date for dinner at your place? 
5. Chocolate or vanilla?
6. Do you remember what was the first book you bought for your own money? And why did you choose that book? 
7.What's your favorite holiday?
8. Describe how a blog post is usually written by you (I want to know the whole process). 
9. Your favorite color? 
10. What beauty product can't you live without? 
11. Describe yourself with 3 words. 

And the nominees are:
Illyanna @ Illyanna Fox
Erin @ Rice & Beans


Friday, September 13, 2013

Blog tour: Render by Stephanie Fleshman - a review

This week has been all about Stephanie Fleshman and her YA novel Render. You can read my intro and see a book trailer here, an interview with her here, a guest post by her here, and an excerpt of the book here.

I have received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review, this will however not influence my opinion about the book.


Short synopsis
Koldan, an 18 year old prodigy, thinks he has his life in front of him; a promising career as a doctor and the most wonderful girlfriend - Raya - that he plans to marry. But when his grandfather dies, everything changes when he finds a diary filled with mystical clues. These clues lead Koldan and Raya on to a dangerous voyage. Together with them they have Lukas, Koldan's younger brother, and their friend Ethan. Not until it seems to be too late, they realize how everything is connected through Koldan and Lukas' Russian heritage, and the reasons why their grandfather fled Russia when he was 18. Will Koldan manage to escape from his destiny and save his relationship with Raya?


Review 
While in Glasgow a few weeks back, I read a book review in The Independent on Sunday that ended with "As empty as its protagonist, the novel is stuck in her superficial worldview and lacks the gravitas or literary panache to puss us out of it." I don't have the literary quality to even write such a sentence, but more importantly - this is not how I feel about Render. However, there are some things I find troublesome during my reading of the book.

One of the most annoying things I know about, is loose ends. But equally annoying are loose beginnings. And unfortunately there are several of them in Render. What is a loose beginning, you may ask? It is when suddenly something appears without being well enough built up to. For me at least, it felt like it was out of the blue when the kids left on the voyage. What was so exciting with the diary that made them do it? How come Raya's and Lukas' parents let them travel all the way from the US to Australia? They're only 17, so they would need some kind of permission. Why were Raya and Lukas suddenly so close friends that they didn't have to speak to each other, they would instinctively understand what the other person was thinking? Nothing before that moment described their friendship as that close. And why would the story have to take place on a remote, lost island? I have the feeling the author was so excited about the action part of the story she wanted to tell, that she sometimes forgot that it isn't just about the action, it is also about understanding why the action is happening.

I have also read that the story is supposed to be in the paranormal genre, at it takes place in a world very similar to our own, but that it isn't our world. In this book, there aren't any hints of paranormalcy, neither are there any hints about their world not being our world.

But not everything is bad. Far from it! Stephanie Fleshman writes well. She doesn't fill her story with clichés and plump language. The story is constantly driven forward, and she doesn't linger with unnecessary descriptions of people and places. The reader wants to know what is going to happen on the next page, and we want to know if everything will be ok with Koldan and Raya.

The end makes it clear that this is the first book of a series, and I really hope some of the loose beginnings (and loose ends!) will be closed and better explained in the next books. It might also become clear why the author considers the book to be paranormal, and what the difference between their world and our world is. I know I will be reading them, because I have started to care about Koldan, Raya, Lukas and Ethan.

Red apples

I have an elderly neighbor with several large apple trees in his garden. I've been looking at the apples and thinking what a shame that they just hang there to rot. So the other day I just went over to him and suggested that I could help him pick the apples in exchange for keeping some of them myself. He just laughed at me and said that he didn't want any of the apples, but that I could pick as many as I wanted for myself.

I picked a bucket full and was so sad that I had to leave the rest, but there is a limit as to how many apples I need and have space to store. The tree was so full of apples I couldn't even see that I had taken many of them.
I have a pair of red rain boots for garden work, my high heeled ones are for
rainy city days. 
My neighbor said he didn't want any apples for himself, but I was pretty sure he wouldn't object to an apple pie made from them, so I made him one and invited myself over for coffee and cake.

There are so many elderly people living in big houses with big gardens filled with fruit and berries. Look around your neighborhood and see if you can help anyone picking them. I am sure that will be of great help for the ones no longer able to pick their fruit and berries themselves, and you get some for yourself that you can do any number of exciting things with!

On Tuesday I showed you how to make saft with redcurrants from my Grandmother's garden, next week will be filled with posts about what I've done with the apples from my neighbor's garden.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blog tour: An Excerpt from Render by Stephanie Fleshman

I am hosting a blog tour this week. You should also check out today's event over at Novelty Publishing!


Please enjoy this fun, playful excerpt from Render by Stephanie Fleshman. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

Render: An Excerpt


I spin around and pull her to me, sighing as her arms lock around my neck. I lower my face to her hair, turning it into the curve of her neck to breathe her in.

Her body molds to mine, lithe and boneless, and my arms swallow her as I tighten my hold. It softens all the hard points, the tension I’d been holding onto, smoothing the muscles in my shoulders and back.

“You have great problem-solving skills, by the way,” I tell her softly in her ear.

Keeping her arms around me, she leans back against the wall to look at me, a baffled expression on her face, whether in relation to the compliment or the unexpected direction in conversation, I don’t know.

“Do I?” Her voice lifts in a flirtatious pitch.

“Mmm. It’s why I asked you out,” I tease. “You solved most of my problems just by agreeing.” Looking back, I realize just how true this is, though I doubt she’ll take me seriously.

Her lips curl in an obliging smile, and her eyes say it all, disbelieving in their beauty, corroborating what I already knew. But she’s still smiling, and I alone am responsible for that.

She curls her hand around the side of my neck, and I feel her thumb glide over the scar behind my earlobe, one I incurred at fourteen, when Lukas slammed my head into the bathroom mirror. Then I broke his collarbone. Both of us ended up in the emergency room that morning, an incident that resulted in our father leaving for work a half hour later. It’s always quieter when our father is home.

“How are you doing?” she asks, looking up to search my eyes.

I slide my hands from the small of her back to her waist, as my gaze sweeps from shoulder to shoulder. I can already feel the ground of normalcy beneath me, her presence holding the pieces of my life together, when it seems everything can come apart at any moment. “Good now that you’re here.”

This seems to make her both happy and sad. A look of gloom passes over her face even as a small smile touches her lips. Then her eyes trail down the front of my body, taking in my suit jacket and pants. “You look like a lawyer,” she comments. “Straight from the courtroom.”

I can’t remember a time when she’s ever seen me in a suit. The closest is the tux I wore to her senior prom two months ago, which is not much different than what I wear now.

“It suits you.”

I raise my eyebrows in doubt. “What? Looking like a lawyer?”

“Not just a lawyer. You look…professional.” Then, with a full smile, she adds, “I like it.”

“Ah,” I say, mirroring her smile as I grasp her meaning. “I like that you’re my biggest fan.”

Her teeth shine bright against her tan skin. She drops her arms to her sides, and I lace my fingers through hers. She smells of honeysuckle, vanilla, and lavender all at once, with soft underlying notes I can’t name, a scent that swirls inside me, tantalizing every cell in my body.

I lean forward, canting my head slightly to fit my lips to hers. I have to fight to keep the rhythm slow, to savor every second. But when her mouth opens, urgency builds within me, and I press farther. Too soon, though, she’s pulling away, leaving my blood pumping in a hot stream and my heart pounding against my chest. I place a hand on the wall behind her and lean forward, closing the narrow space she’s put between us.

“I wasn’t finished,” I say.

I’m already tilting my head to kiss her again when she stops me with one word. “Wait.”

“Wait?” I mutter against her lips.

I feel her palms on my chest, easing me back. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but touching her, but I slowly resign myself to the conversation that is apparently inevitable, when my only instinct is to kiss her. I straighten and meet her eyes, which does nothing to tame my thoughts.

“I got your note,” she says.

When I started mowing Mrs. Whitney’s lawn, Elizabeth gave me a key, so I could let myself in when they weren’t home. In the beginning, I would leave Raya notes on her dresser, not knowing at the time that she’d actually keep them. When she showed me every note I’d ever written her, my first instinct was to laugh, because it seemed senseless. But then I saw how impressed she was and felt empowered that I could make her so happy. She probably has a shoebox full of notes by now.

I back her against the wall until we’re touching from hips to shoulders. Her eyes, as warm and green as summer leaves, meet mine. She’s looking at me as if I did something amazing, but just in case, I ask, “Is that all? Or is there something else you want to add, because I’d really like to kiss you right now?”

Her eyes dip momentarily to my mouth. “I was going to thank you for the note, but you distracted me.”

“You don’t need words for that.”



Render Tour Badge

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving... Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan--until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hair joy

I've never had a strict beauty regime or products I regularly buy. I don't even wear make-up on a daily base. The only thing I've been constantly changing, has been my hair. I don't think anyone knows how many different hair colors and styles I have had. It has ranged between long and very very very short, between Dolly Parton blonde and purple, from natural straight to fake curls. At the moment, however, my hair is relatively long and without any coloring or fake curls.

And the thing is - I'm actually pretty happy with my hair at the moment, so for the first time I'm really looking for products that are good for my hair. Here are my absolute favorites at the moment.
Big Sea Salt Shampoo for extra volume from Lush and
Hair Supply conditioner/hair mask from Soap & Glory.
Erin over at Rice & Beans has a wonderful post about why she loves Lush. There is nothing more to add to it. There is no Lush nearby where I live, but I had a very nice little round in the one I found in Glasgow a couple of weekends ago. I'm truly happy with the Big Sea Salt Shampoo. My hair that is ALWAYS flat suddenly got volume without me having to tease it into pieces first.

I love Soap & Glory's packaging. They are so fun! And I even loved it more when I found several of their products on sale a little while ago. They don't do animal testing and they also have a lot of products that are vegetarian/vegan friendly. Hair Supply can be used both as conditioner and as hair mask. It makes my hair as soft as baby hair and it smells really good! And that without making it heavy.

So if any representatives for either Lush or Soap & Glory reads this, I would love to make this a sponsored post. I'm sure I can convince all of my 5 readers (including my husband, my mother, and her dog) to buy your products!

What are your favorite hair care products? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blog tour: Guest post by Stephanie Fleshman

I am this week hosting a blog tour. You should also check out today's event over at Novelty Publishing!

Please enjoy this guest post by Stephanie Fleshman, author of the enticing Paranormal YA, Render. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.


The 5 Guys You'll Meet in YA Fiction:

A Guest Post by Stephanie Fleshman


According to GalleyCat, YA eBook revenues increased 120.9% last year. The great news is whatever YA male character types keep you reading, it's unlikely you'll run out of books anytime soon. After a while contemplating my favorite YA reads, I noticed a pattern when it came to the male heroes in these stories. Without further ado, here's a run-down of the 5 guys you're likely to meet when reading a Young Adult novel...


Guy #1: The Broken and Vulnerable
When I think of broken, I think of Josh from Barry Lyga’s Boy Toy. The sad thing about Josh is that he knows he’s broken but blames himself instead of the person at fault. When I think of vulnerable, two characters come to mind: Sam from Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series and Cabel from Lisa McMann’s Wake series. Cabel is doused with gasoline, then set on fire by his alcoholic father. He wants to be loved, yet is scared. What makes him strong in a not-in-your-face kind of way is that he wants to love. His lack of resentment and hate is what makes him attractive.


Guy #2: The Abusive
In Jennifer Brown’s Bitter End, Cole is the product of “like father, like son.” In Swati Avasthi’s YA novel Split, however, Jace is the product of being victimized by his own abuser. Unlike Cole, Jace is capable of remorse and guilt. He not only owns up to his actions, but he wants to pay for them. By comparison, Jace makes Cole look like a sociopath.  


Guy #3: The Obsessive
It’s no secret that Edward from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga is borderline stalker when it comes to Bella. She is his world entirely. In his mind, though, he is only being protective. So, is Edward protective, overprotective, or obsessive? You decide:
  • Protective: Capable of or intended to protect someone or something.
  • Overprotective: Having a tendency to protect someone, esp. a child, excessively.
  • Obsessive: Of, relating to, characteristic of, or causing an obsession; Excessive in degree or nature.

Guy #4: The Dominant
A good example of this type of YA male lead character is Patch from Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series. Patch is 100% boy. He’s self-confident, strong, and stands his ground against Nora. Though he is dominating, I don’t believe it’s in a harmful or abusive manner. In the second book, you get to see more into his heart as he begins to really care for Nora’s well-being. By the third book, he’s thinking of Nora’s safety and how he can stay with her. He sacrifices what he wants in order to protect her and their relationship, which seems non-existent to Nora by this stage. Not everything is what it seems, though. Other good examples are Alex from Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry and Avi from the same author's How to Ruin series.  


Guy #5: The Lovable
I’m going to start with Koldan from my own YA novel, Render. Koldan is firm but not so dominating that he feels the need to control. He’s confident and strong, but recognizes his weaknesses. He’s romantic in the sense that he will do whatever it takes to keep Raya safe, even if it means risking his own life. And he’s not afraid to show his feelings for Raya. Now, I cannot move forward without mentioning Holder from Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. Thirteen years! Thirteen!!! That’s all I’m going to say. Those of you who have read Hopeless know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, there’s nothing about this guy not to love.  

Now I've got a question for you: What's your favorite YA male character type?


Render Tour Badge
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving... Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan--until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Small awesome owl


Audrey over on the fabulous handcraft blog HGK was looking for pattern testers for her very cute owl medallions.
Audrey's owl medallion. Picture taken by her
I have always loved owls. I love how they symbolize knowledge, and I love them a little bit extra since they remind me of my mother and her owl collection. So of course I wanted to test her pattern!
I got the pattern as pdf file and could just print it. 
The pattern was really easy to follow with detailed instructions. Audrey recommends that you use felt and will be selling the pattern as a package together with the materials needed for it. I decided to make use of some fabric I already had at home and made the owl out of jeans fabric.
Cutting the pattern, then cutting the fabric. The pieces fit perfectly together.
I did make it a little hard on myself by using jeans fabric instead of felt, but that had all to do with my own stupidity (yes, 3 layers of jeans fabric is hard to hand stitch) and nothing to do with Audrey's pattern.
Small stitches for the eyes, gluing the ribbon, stitching the front and back together,
filling the medallion and then closing it. 
Without any major accident (only once did I stitch myself with the needle so hard I started to bleed) I finished the medallion in around an hour and now it hangs on my favorite hand bag to bring me luck.
It is perfect on my bag! 
You should all hurry over to HGK and check out all the other cool things Audrey is doing!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blog tour: Interview with Stephanie Fleshman




I am this week hosting a blog tour. You should also check out today's even over at Novelty Publishing!


Please enjoy this interview with Stephanie Fleshman, author of the enticing Paranormal YA, Render. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.  


An Interview with Stephanie Fleshman

Author of YA Paranormal Novel, Render


1. How do your experiences traveling and growing up in a rural town help you to write? 
Traveling has always stimulated the passion I have for learning other cultures. Render definitely depicts that, since I bring so many other cultures into the story.

2. You are among many new authors who went to a post-secondary school for something completely different from writing. How does your degree in psychology play a role in your writing? Psychology is the study of human behavior, so that has definitely helped to create multi-dimensional characters.

3. Do you have any advice for others who have stuck to a career path, but find that writing is their true calling? 
I don’t believe you have to choose. Experience and knowledge of different fields can benefit a writing career, depending on what you want to write.

4. Who are two of your favorite authors, and why do those authors speak to you? 
Cormac McCarthy. I think he is a literary genius.
J.K. Rowling. She is a true storyteller, which I believe is different than telling a story.

5. You use some really unique names in Render like Koldan, Raya Whitney and "The Russian." Where did you get the inspiration for the names? Secondly, when in the writing process do you name characters?
I start with names, but those names have a tendency to change throughout the story. For Render, most of the names had to do with origin.

6. “Koldan Holdt knows what he wants.” He knows, but his fate has been determined since before his birth. Can you discuss how people find their way around the obstacles of life as well as any suggestions you might have? 
Recognizing there is no such thing as complete control--the control you do have is determined by different variables, one being the choices you make.


Render Tour Badge
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving... Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan--until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

What to do with redcurrants

Redcurrants are berries that are not common many other places than in north/western Europe. Here in Norway they do not grow wild, they are a garden plant. Growing up we always had redcurrant bushes in our garden, but now my Grandmother is the only one left having them. The berries are quite sour, so many don't like to eat them without sugar. But they are great to use as a dessert with ice cream, or to make jam, or to do what I did with them.
Berries in a bucket! 
In Norway (and I think also other places in Scandinavia) we drink something we call saft. My American husband had never heard about it before, even though it does have a English name; squash (or cordial, juice or diluting juice according to Wikipedia). It is a "non-alcoholic concentrated syrup that is usually fruit-flavored and usually made from fruit juice, water, and sugar or a sugar substitute." Becoming saft was the destiny of my berries.

My mother has an old pressure boiler (I think that is what it is called) for this specific purpose.
Her name is Saft-Maja, and as you can see from the dead flies, she hadn't
been used in quite some time. 
You fill the bottom container with water and the top container with the berries. The steam from the water and the juice from the berries will then mix together in the middle container.
And all the way on the top you out the lid. 
I took about 45 minutes until the berries was completely collapsed and had given away all their juice. At that point it was about time to turn off the heat and pour the saft from the pressure boiler over into a pot. I used a measuring cup to do this in order for me to know exactly how much saft I had.
Sorry for varying photo quality, this point of the process was a little hectic. 
The reason for measuring the amount of saft, is to be able to calculate how much sugar to add. Since redcurrants are quite sour, I used 300 grams of sugar per liter of saft. With sweeter berries like raspberries or blueberries, you can use less sugar.

While the saft was heated up again in order to dissolve the sugar, I also heated the containers for the saft by soaking them in boiling water. I did this so that the glass jars wouldn't break when pouring the very hot saft into them.
Glass jars soaking in hot water. You can of course also use bottles. 
I chose to not add any preservatives in the saft. The sugar itself works as an preservative, but it isn't sweet enough to be very effective. I therefore filled the saft in jars that I then froze. When I take them out of the freezer, I put them in the fridge.
It has a beautiful red color! 
So how do I use it? I pour a little bit of it in a glass, then add water and maybe some ice cubes and voilà! I have a refreshing alternative to water without having the huge amount of sugar and other unwanted stuff you have in sodas.
Cheers!
You can of course make it completely sugar free by using alternative sweeteners. You can also use it as a base for making jello or sweet red dessert sauce. 

What do you do with the berries that grow in your garden? And what are your alternatives to water? 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blog tour: Render by Stephanie Fleshman

I have now officially been blogging one month and there are so many exciting things I'm discovering out there in the blogsphere. One of the most exciting are blog tours as a way to help new writers promote their books. I'm so lucky that I get to host one of these tours this week!

This week we are getting to know Stephanie Fleshman and her YA novel Render.

The blog tour includes a bunch of giveaways and a really good offer on the book itself. Tomorrow you'll get an interview with Stephanie Fleshman, on Wednesday she will be guestblogging her, on Thursday you will get an excerpt from Render, and on Friday I will post my own review of the book. All this while I also do my regular blogging.

  



Render Tour Badge
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:

  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.
About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving... Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan--until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her




a Rafflecopter giveaway

I voted!

Like I said on Friday, there's an election in Norway today. This year it's the general election (as opposed to the election we'll have in 2015 that will be a local election). The polling places opened at 9 am, I was there around 9:15.
My vote counts! 
My polling place is located at a primary school, and the school children were playing around in the school yard as I entered the place. It reminded me of my childhood when my primary school also was a polling place and how exciting I found the elections. I think every time all the school classes were allowed into the place and the polling place manager would explain and show to us how to vote. I was anxiously waiting for the time when I would be able to vote myself. As I was to leave the location today, I saw a school class entering and I hope those kids feel the same excitement as I did. 

On my way back home I dropped by the grocery store, and there I saw one of the more curious things about election day in Norway.
Election day. No beer sales.
The stores are not allowed to sell beer, and the liquor store is closed. I don't know when the law about no alcohol sales on election day was passed, but I find it interesting that it is still there and that it doesn't seem like any of the parties are trying to remove it. 

I hope all my Norwegian readers has used their right to vote this year, and I hope the rest of you will use your right the next time your country holds an election! 

Meatless Monday #4: Cheese pizza

We have put a few hectic weeks behind us, so when my husband was away at the beginning of last week I took the chance to relax and not do much at all. Dinner was not on my list of things to put any thought in. But with my husband back and the weekend approaching, I decided on a Meatless Friday.

I love cheese so much. I have a theory that almost anything can be made better with adding some cheese (and some garlic). I was in a weight loss program a little while back and felt like the strangest person on the planet when all the people in the program were talking about the problems with resisting chocolate and potato chips, where as all I could think of was all the delicious cheese I had to stop eating. Given the choice between chocolate and cheese, I would always choose the cheese. But now I'm rambling. Back to the meatless dinner: 3 cheeses pizza.
I'm seriously challenged when it comes to baking, so I buy pizza dough at the store.
Typically I'm either too hungry or too tired to really think when I go to the store, so chances are I forget some vital ingredient to anything I make. I thought I had some tomato sauce at home, but I didn't. Improvising is something I often do in the kitchen. Mixing pesto rosso and ketchup worked wonderfully - it turned out to be better than most tomato sauces I've used before.
Mozarella, blue cheese, and standard yellow grated cheese. 
So pasta sauce, a good amount of chopped garlic and then the 3 cheeses evenly dispersed on my pizza.
Say "Cheeeeeeeeese!"
I guess a lot of you are skeptical when it comes to blue cheese, but seriously - give it a try! It is so good! If blue cheese is not your thing, try making cheese pizza with cheeses you don't usually use, like a sharp cheddar.
Yes, it was as good as it looks. 
I don't think this is a dinner that would go well with my weight loss class, but I believe in enjoying good food with people you love, and this was an excellent dinner I shared with the person I love the most.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How is my lemon tree doing?

I'm not good with flowers and plants. I've never managed to make anything grow or keep anything alive. But I really want to learn! The fall is a bad time of the year to make anything like that happen, especially in Norway where the winter is very very cold. The solution was to find something I could grow inside. A lemon tree. From seed.

I was more or less following this description on how to do it.
Potting soil, pot with drainage holes, bucket to mix soil and water, water and a glass with the seeds. 
I started with putting a layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot. I don't know why, but I remember my mother used to do that with her plants when I was a child, so I guess it is something you should do. Maybe I should google it, but I'm too lazy right now. If anyone of you knows why, feel free to leave a comment to explain it to me!
Pebbles and some grass from the garden. 
I then mixed a good amount of water with some of the soil so that the soil got thoroughly moist. It is important that the seed doesn't dry out.
Some really wet dirt. 
And then I filled the pot with this thoroughly moist soil. I used my finger to make three small holes for the seeds. I decided on planting three seeds at once in case some of them wouldn't germinate.
Here are the seeds I dug out of an organic lemon. I picked the three I thought
looked the healthiest. Not that I have any idea what a healthy seed looks like.
I took the seeds out of the water, sucked on them in order to remove all the fruit flesh and then put them in the soil.
I hope the seeds will like their new home in this moist soil. 
I of course covered the seed with soil.

The next few days will be crucial. I have no idea what to expect, but I will make sure the seeds are warm and get all the sun I can give them. Right now they are standing outside sunbathing in the uncharacteristic warm September weather we have this year.
My hopefully growing lemon tree out in the sun. 
Come back next Sunday and I'll give you an update on how my lemon tree is doing! 
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