Friday 19 September 2014

My name is Stasia and I can't make scones.

It was my mum's birthday on Tuesday and we spent the day at the zoo. On Sunday I had asked if she wanted a birthday cake but she decided that she wanted scones instead, so we could take them with us to the zoo and have a birthday picnic. This was fine, I thought, I'd made scones once before when I was at uni and I remembered it being a pretty quick and easy thing to make.

So on Monday morning I put on my dotty apron and pulled Mary Berry's Baking Bible off the shelf, ready to go. This wasn't actually the recipe I had used the last time but I thought surely this will be even better than the scones I made last time. This is Mary Berry!

Cut to two hours later. I have cut out all of the scones twice because they kept shrinking on the baking tray, the kitchen is literally covered in flour, my hands are so stuck together with dough that I can't remember what it felt like to be able to move them freely, and I have already had a little cry. I finally get the scones in the oven and ten minutes later pull out these.

These are not scones. I don't know what they are but I think we can all agree that they are not scones. A friend of mine saw this picture and said they looked like 'scones cunningly disguised as eggs' and I have to agree with her. Apparently they taste okay but I personally am not in any hurry to try them.

Okay, so Mary Berry has let me down. It's alright, I can find the recipe I used last time. I'm at the end of my rope already but it's mum's birthday and she wants scones so scones there will be.

Except we don't have enough flour left for another batch of scones because I used it all on the aforementioned definitely-not-scones. I have another cry. Dad drives me to the supermarket to buy more flour.

The process for the next lot of scones is a lot more like I remember it from last time. It's quick, easy, not too messy, and at no point do I feel the need to have a cry.

Until, of course, I open the oven door to find these.

They look more like scones than they do eggs, yes, and are therefore a step up from the last batch. But as you can see they are also almost completely flat. However, I do not cry. I am already numb to the disappointment.

I throw away the second half of that batter. By this time it is almost four o'clock. I haven't finished making mum's actual birthday present, I haven't showered, and at seven I am going to see a film at our local cinema club with dad. But I'm in too far now.

I grab the hella old cookery book that mum insists contains the best recipes in the world. Just that morning in fact, after the egg-scones came out of the oven, she told me that this book, that she has had since she was in school, has the best scone recipe in it.

Okay, I think, I'll try it. At this point I have spent an entire day making scones with no actual scones to show for it. I have nothing to lose.

I finally give up. I am surrounded by not-scones. Three batches of three different recipes and all that's left are me in my dotty apron and around 30 things that are definitely not scones.

I leave the not-scones strewn across the kitchen and have a long bath.

Mum comes home from her meeting. She tries to assess what exactly I did wrong with all the scones. I do not want to talk about it.

Mum makes her own scones.

I vow never to make scones ever again.

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Thursday 11 September 2014

Pete Wentz: Poet laureate of my wasted teenage pop punk heart.

Or: Fall Out Boy released a new song this week and then I wrote this weird post.

There's something about Fall Out Boy's music that makes me feel like I'm 17 again, but like, in the best way possible. Like I can single handedly kick the world into shape. Like I'm really alive. I know that's super cheesy but whatever, we've all got those bands, right?

There are some T. Rex songs that kind of make me feel that way too but unfortunately Marc Bolan is no longer around to release surprise albums. Imagine if Marc Bolan was around now though. Imagine the music videos. IMAGINE MARC BOLAN'S TWITTER FEED.

Sorry, this isn't about Marc Bolan, this is about Fall Out Boy.

(Although I mean, what isn't about Marc Bolan, really? If it's not about Marc Bolan it's usually about David Bowie or Dolly Parton. My music tastes are pretty sequin-based. With the exception of Fall Out Boy, who I am supposed to be talking about right now.)

I remember being a wee baby teenager and really only knowing a couple of Fall Out Boy's songs and just not really being that into it, but I had a few friends who really liked them so I listened to a few more of their songs.

Then I listened almost exclusively to Fall Out Boy and various Fueled by Ramen bands for about the next two years of my life.

And I have this weird association in my head between The Sims 2 and Folie à Deux because I spent basically the entire summer after Folie à Deux came out playing The Sims 2 with the sound off and listening to that album on repeat. Yeah, those are the crazy antics I got up to as a 17 year old.

I kind of took a hiatus from the whole pop punk thing while Fall Out Boy were on their own hiatus but when Save Rock and Roll came out last year it was like, well, this is it. This is my life again now. Patrick Stump tells me to put on my war paint and I'll do it. I'd probably kill a man if Patrick Stump asked me to. I wouldn't even question it.

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little. Maybe there is some hyperbole at play in this post but come on, what other band could get Courtney Love and Elton John in the same music video?

Maybe that's why I love Save Rock & Roll even more than their past albums (controversial, I know), maybe it's because the addition of Elton John brings Fall Out Boy one step closer to sequins than they have ever been before?

Sequins or not, listening to Centuries makes me feel like I could punch a shark right in the nose and I'm probably going to be completely useless for anything other than listening to the new album on repeat when it comes out.

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(I promise things will get back to normal with my next post.)

Tuesday 2 September 2014

August book reviews.

This month I FINALLY got to read Isla and the Happily Ever After and yes that caps lock was definitely necessary because I have been waiting for this book for so long I honestly started to think it might never be released. To paraphrase the great Twitter philosopher of our time, Jaden Smith: When You Have To Wait Over 18 Months For A Book. Then You Will Realise.

Life, the Universe and Everything is the third book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series. I reviewed the first two books last month and finished this one early in August. I loved the first two books in this series but honestly, I found this one to be a little bit of a chore to get through. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that the main group of characters spent a lot of this book apart and one of the things I had enjoyed most about the first two books was that group dynamic. Life, the Universe and Everything also seems even more complicated than the first two books in the series. Like, needlessly complicated. It was still very funny though and I'm still looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. 3/5 stars.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

With Isla and the Happily Ever After finally being released I thought I'd better re-read Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door to refresh my memory of this world and its characters. I instantly fell in love with Anna and the French Kiss when I first read it and it was no different this time. Although I think I definitely noticed and appreciated more of the detail in this book the second time round. And since I'm always only one impulsive, late night, whiskey fuelled debit card transaction away from running away to Paris anyway, it will come as no surprise to anyone that Perkins's beautiful descriptions in this book had me rolling around on the floor, pining after French pastries and Notre Dame. 5/5 stars.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

The first time I read these books I actually preferred Anna and the French Kiss but upon re-reading them I think I've definitely changed my mind. Cricket Bell and Lola Nolan are the ones for me. I'm in love with both of them. Okay, mostly Cricket. However, Lola's view of fashion is pretty close to my own, albeit a little more extreme. Rest assured though if I could easily get my hands on some pink wigs and wasn't so terrible at sewing, I would totally be rocking Lola's looks. I've never been to San Francisco but again, just as with Anna and the French Kiss, Perkins's descriptions really brought the place to life for me. I almost felt like I could taste Andy's pies. I wish I could taste Andy's pies. 5/5 stars.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I don't think I've ever ripped open a package as quickly as I did this one when it finally fell through our door. Isla and the Happily Ever After takes us back to The School of America in Paris from Anna and the French Kiss for a large part of the story but we also get to visit Barcelona and New York, which, again, Perkins does a fantastic job of using to just fill me with god damn wanderlust. If you've already read Anna and the French Kiss (which I ABSOLUTELY recommend you do before reading Lola or Isla because even though these aren't technically sequels there are still a few events in this book featuring characters from the previous two books that will definitely spoil the ending of Anna for you) then you'll be familiar with the two main characters in this book, Isla and Josh. Isla and the Happily Ever After follows a little bit of a different story to its sister books. Whereas Anna and Lola are more about the getting together, Isla is definitely more about the staying together, and it was really nice to read that. If I have just one complaint it would be that there is not enough of Isla's friend Kurt for my liking. I wanted more Kurt. I want a whole book about Kurt! But other than that, 5/5 stars.

If you're a fan of YA romance then I honestly cannot recommend this entire series enough. But you could probably tell that already.

The Wandering by Saruuh Kelsey - Expected release date: 23rd September 2014.

Alright so technically I was actually proof reading this one but I thought I'd sneak it on here anyway since 'proof reading' is totally still 'reading'. The Wandering is the sequel to Saruuh's first book, The Forgotten, which was one of my 10 Favourite Books of 2013. The Forgotten and The Wandering are the first two books in The Lux Guardians series, which will eventually be a series of four YA dystopian novels (is dystopian the official genre? Saruuh, let me know if I'm marketing your book wrong), which will all be available for free as ebooks with a limited number of paperbacks available too. The series follows four main characters; Honour and Horatia, who are from the year 2040, and Bennet and Branwell, from the year 1878, as well as a whole host of other fantastic, interesting characters. There's time travel, romance, secret organisations dedicated to overthrowing the corrupt government, all that good stuff. 5/5 stars.

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