Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jam Filled Butter Cookies

I love cookies with jam in the middle, so I decided make use of my homemade apricot jam. This is my first time making butter cookies, and baking can be tough for me, but I think these turned out okay for a first go around. The recipe for Jam Filled Butter Cookies is from www.allrecipes.com and was submitted my MKHG. It is a simple recipe, although I did have to look up how to cream butter and sugar together.

My #1 taste-tester Seth gave it a good rating, so it looks like the Office will get some cookies tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Apricot Jam

Now there is apricot jam. The recipe for this apricot refrigerator jam came from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It was a bit of a pain to peel the apricots since they are so small, and I think this is what caused them to be on the mushy side after I blanched them. That was a bit worrisome, but I figured it might be okay since it has to turn syrupy anyway. All in all, I think the jam turned out pretty well, but my taster Seth has not had any yet. We'll see what he says.

Stay tuned for more apricot-themed foods as we have tons of apricots to use.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Trilogy

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments, #3) City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The thing about certain sci-fi fantasy books is that when I get hooked, I tend to swallow the hook, the line, and the sinker. Books like Harry Potter, the Eight and Twilight have cost me countless hours of sleep, but it does not matter how much I suffer the next day, when it comes to books like these, I willingly give up the sleep everytime.

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series is the most recent set of books to capture my attention in such a way. I started the first book, City of Bones on Saturday, and that night I only got four hours of sleep because I just had to get all the way to the end. Sunday was supposed to have been spent working on my craft projects, but I could not put down City of Ashes. I knew better than to open City of Glass, but I just could not help myself that same Sunday. So, on a work night, I got three hours of sleep after only getting four the night before.

Work was not fun, and my brain was mush, but it was worth it. It is hard to believe, but I love the Mortal Instruments series almost as much as I love the Twilight Saga. Besides the lack of sleep, there is also a lack of hunger; and that is how I know I am in trouble. Lucky for my sleeping and eating patterns, the trilogy ended with City of Glass; but just like with Twilight I wish I could have more time with the main characters, Clary and Jace.

Clary is a human girl who discovers one night that she can see things that other people cannot, and an entirely new part of the world is opened up to her. That same night, she meets Jace.

Oh Jace Wayland.

He is kind of like the bad boy version of Edward Cullen, and this is probably Twilight blasphemy here, but I think I like Jace better. Don't get me wrong, Edward is nothing short of wonderful, but he is also a little too perfect for me. Jace falls far from perfect; he can be an arrogant smart-ass, but it makes him more real. Either way, Jace or Edward, maybe boys in books are better.

One final thing, while I loved reading this series, I feel that I should also share a small warning. There is a strange plot twist that occurs and goes unresolved in book one. However, in my experience American authors tend to be a bit obvious when it comes to their foreshadowing technique, so I read through books two and three, despite this strange turn in the story. I also did do a minor search on Google for a hint at what might happen, but I would not let myself click on any actual links to read full details. Now for the spoiler (stop reading if you don't want a clue): I was pleased in the end. Now it's time for me to re-read these a little because I haven't had enough.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Apricot Cobbler

Apparently we have an apricot tree in the backyard, and it decided to produce a ton of fruit. So much fruit that one of the branches broke! Most of the fruit is not quite ripe, but some of them are, so I picked a bunch and made cobbler (the recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook). It's a little on the tangy side, for Seth, but I happen to like fruit desserts with a little bite. KK, this post is for you!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Finally I Finished a Project!

With multiple projects going on I am having a hard time finishing anything, so I am happy that I finally completed something: a knitted cap that is supposed to look like a baseball. I bought the pattern a longtime ago from Patternworks, but this is the first time I tried it out. The instructions were not the best, so it took a few tries to figure out and I had to go back to the knitting store a number of times for stitch markers. In the end I used almost 100 stitch markers. At least it is done now, and I think it is reminiscent of a baseball.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another Book: Boy A

Boy A Boy A by Jonathan Trigell

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The capacity some human beings have for committing acts of violence stuns me. I just do not comprehend how someone can lose their head to the point where they are able to inflict pain and/or death on another person—especially pain which requires a direct act of violence in which the aggressor experiences physical contact with his or her victim. This all becomes exponentially more horrifying and incomprehensible when the crime involves children.

Somehow, all these feelings were pushed to the sidelines when I read Jonathan Trigell’s "Boy A". I did not forget how disgusting murder is, or how awful it is for the victim’s family. What changed was that I had empathy for the assailant, Boy A, and his situation.

The story centers around Jack Burridge, who has spent a large part of his young life in various forms of incarceration because of a murder he committed as a child. The law has since decided that he is rehabilitated, and subsequently, he has been granted release—he sheds his former name, along with his past and enters the world as Jack. The only connections to his past are his case worker, Terry and the panic button he wears in case he needs help from the law, which now protects his anonymity.

Trigell transitions back and forth throughout the book—taking the reader through Jack’s current life, to his unsure and lonely existence before he became Boy A, to his years in secure facilities and jail. In addition to this journey, Trigell shares glimpses into the lives of the people around Jack—the friendship between B and A before the murder; B incarcerated; Jack’s parents; Terry, etc. This movement allowed me to gain a wider perspective on the why and the how when it came to Jack’s human development and the choices he made. I found I pitied A, and wanted him to stand up for himself, but at the same understood why he was only a follower and never a leader.

I also found that I liked Jack. He is wide-eyed, scared, and hesitant, but this, along with his effort to build a life for himself as Jack makes him endearing. He is not completely alone because he has Terry, and Jack loves him as a son loves his father. I just wanted to hug Jack and see him succeed in this incredibly daunting endeavor. I even found that I could look beyond Jack’s past as Boy A and questioned whether or not he truly murdered Angela Milton.

My mind has been opened towards reasoning and understanding in a way that it has before. I tend towards the close-minded and often see things only in black and white; even more so when it comes to crimes of violence and brutality. Trigell has made the world gray for me. I still do not know if I believe in rehabilitation, and I feel absolute abhorrence for crimes committed by so-called innocents; but now I also see how a good child can make life-altering, life-ruining choices just because he or she is lonely and lost. In 2008, "Boy A" was voted in the UK as "the most discussion worthy novel by a living writer in the 'Spread the Word poll,'" and I must concur.

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