Writing and Reading: a discussion. – thegrammariansreviews.com

Writing and Reading: a discussion.

Apr
11

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

“Good” versus “Bad,” Making and Breaking Stories, and Workshops

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what makes and breaks a story, for me.  Between blogging, engaging in literature-based discussions in my classes, and going through the Hell known as the writers’ workshop, well, it’s easy for me to begin thinking and then talking about these kinds of things.

Just earlier tonight I had a discussion with a friend about the misconception writers and readers may have about “good” and “bad” stories and “good” and “bad” writing. Both my friend and I feel that there are clear distinctions between the two. For instance, just because I don’t like the Hunger Games, it doesn’t mean I think it’s a “bad” book, or “bad” writing. I don’t like the Hunger Games because I have issues with the characters, dialogue and some plot points. Meaning, I have issue with how the story is conveyed to me, not its literal make-up.

In a workshop setting, I think this sometimes becomes misconstrued, or a little too black-and-white. In my workshop experiences, if the other writers did not like a particular piece, they dubbed it “bad” writing, or equated it to not being able to write well. But I don’t think this is always the case. To be a writer, you must also be a storyteller. And I think sometimes the roles of storyteller and writer become blurred together, though I feel that they’re separate. I think you can have a great story to tell, but, at the same time, be unable to convey it well. Likewise, I think you can construct a very eloquent piece of work, but have it lacking in its actual content, or story. Because of this, I don’t think you can simply label a book “good” or “bad.” There are too many factors – most of them based upon opinion.

When it comes down to it, what makes and breaks a story for me are the characters. If there’s any disconnect between me and the characters in a story (presumably a majority of them, depending on how many are involved), I begin to lack the will to continue reading. I want the character to be a person to me – as real as they can be, whether they’re admirable or despicable. If they simply seem like a cookie cutter (without that being their intention), or uninteresting (again, without that being their intention), then I don’t see the point in me learning about them.

Going along with that, I also place importance on dialogue. The characters may appear to be as real as real can get, but if a disbelieving or ridiculous or lacking or cliched line of dialogue is tied to them, I start to become wary. They can’t just seem real; I need them to sound real as well. What they’re saying has to matter to me, on some level. If it doesn’t, then I know I’m not very emotionally invested, and possibly even interested, in the story.

Characters are what hold my attention – they’re what I cling to when I read. This unfortunately means they can both make or break it for me.

What about you? What makes or breaks a story for you? How do you view “good” versus “bad” writing? What have your workshop experiences been like?

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5 Responses to “Writing and Reading: a discussion.”

  1. I have to admit, as a writer myself, my first thing that I notice as a reader is plot, then the characters, then the writing, and then everything else that makes up a story. But a lot of that includes stuff like world building, which I am a big stickler for – if the world makes no sense, then I can’t get into the book as much as I want to. My mind gets caught up on the details instead of the story.

    I am not the biggest fan of The Hunger Games out there, but I still liked it. I think the writing was good, not great. The plot was good, not great (and I couldn’t help but come up with a list of other things that are like it). The characters… Good, not great, LOL. But I liked how it dragged me along and made me want to read more. I normally don’t read books in one night, but I read that book in one night. Suzanne Collins is a great storyteller, but the mechanics in my opinion could use more work.

    And about dialogue, I always have to say the dialogue out loud. On paper/computer screen it’s different than coming from your lips.

    Great post!

    • Alissa says:

      Exactly. I’m not its biggest fan, but it did keep me reading through all three books, which I think counts for something.

      I won’t necessarily read dialogue aloud, but I’ll repeat it again and again in my head to either try the different tones it could be given, or to see if it sounds realistic.

  2. […] “Good” versus “Bad” reading and writing […]

  3. We Heart YA says:

    You make some very good points. Writing versus storytelling is something the four of us discussed a lot. Each of us has different strengths along that spectrum. Our goal is always to help each other boost skills in the weaker area. And we like to read books that help us figure out how to do that.

    For example, Stephenie Meyer is a fantastic storyteller. Not a very good writer, but a fantastic STORYTELLER.

    On the flipside, Franny Billingsley writes like magic. But sometimes her story doesn’t move very well.

    Of course, even those are just opinions — and the four of us definitely do not always agree. (Case in point: Sarah adores CHIME by Franny Billingsley.)

    One author we do agree on is Laini Taylor. For us, she is absolutely pitch perfect in both her writing and her storytelling.

    As for good versus bad, or what “breaks” story for us… It’s a balancing act. Character, plot, prose, setting, dialogue — none of these things are enough in isolation, but it’s how they work together that determines whether or not a book is successful. We’re successful ENOUGH, as the case may be.

    • Alissa says:

      I’d have to agree in that Laini Taylor is “pitch perfect,” as you put it. At the same time, I realize personal writing styles affect the telling of a story – which is an entirely separate component to this discussion now. There are so many factors.

WICKED LOVELY is hitting the big screen! – thegrammariansreviews.com

WICKED LOVELY is hitting the big screen!

Jun
21

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

That’s right. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr is going to be a movie.
 Read all about it HERE.

Let me just say that although this series has been a bumpy road for me with its super ups and disappointing downs, I am absolutely ecstatic it’s finally being made into a movie. If they do it justice, I think it will be wonderful.

(Irial fangirl time?)

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5 Responses to “WICKED LOVELY is hitting the big screen!”

  1. Lea says:

    Wow, that is funny because I have the same thoughts! Even though I personally didn't like this book, I am actually very happy that this is becoming a movie- maybe the movie will give me a different perspective?

    As a side note, I didn't like Twilight either, but I thought the movie wasn't too bad 🙂

    ~Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland

  2. thebookwurrm says:

    I'm totally down for this. I'm not too into the books but the movie version will be awesome. Fairies ftw.

  3. kaye (paper reader) says:

    I don't love this series, but I liked some aspects of it and I'll probably read the next book if there is one. However, I think this has the potential to be a very pretty film visually and that alone would make me want to see it. Besides, if it's popular, maybe we'll get The Iron King? 🙂

  4. Tara says:

    I still haven't read this series…maybe I should start now before the movie releases!

  5. Jess (Gone with the Words) says:

    IRIAL FANGIRL TIME!! 😀 I'm with you!

How to make twinkie cupcakes

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Twinkie cupcakes

I’ve got a confession: I love Twinkies. It’s true. Those stuffed, golden Hostess cakes get me drooling every time. I know they’re awful for you, and I know I’m otherwise more of a proponent of eating healthier alternatives. But these are childhood favorites for me – even moreso, I think, because I grew up not being allowed to eat them very often.

So it’s really no surprise that when I found this recipe for Twinkie cupcakes, I made it my mission to make them ASAP.

And let me tell you: they taste SO. GOOD. These cupcakes do Twinkies every bit of justice and then some. And there’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then… right?

Just promise me you won’t run away when you see how much butter goes into these things.

INGREDIENTS

twinkie cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 1 small box sugar free/fat free instant French vanilla pudding mix (note: I used regular because my grocery store didn’t have the sugar free/fat free kind, and it was fine.)
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons very hot water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with about 20 paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, stirring the box of pudding mix into the cake batter to blend. Portion batter evenly among muffin cups, about 2/3 full, and bake for approx. 15-18 mins or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, then core out the cupcakes’ middles with a sharp, small paring knife, careful not to cut through the entire cupcake. Eat or discard centers. (note: I ended up saving the centers, or at least the tops of the centers, to plug/cover the filling.)
  3. First, dissolve the salt into the hot water and allow to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the marshmallow cream, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy. Beat in the salt water. Mixture should be light but not as stiff as frosting.
  4. Scoop filling into a resealable plastic bag, seal tight, and snip off a corner of the bag. Pipe the filling into each cored cupcake, filling just to the top. Refrigerate cupcakes while you prepare the frosting. (note: I’m going to stop right here. Yes, these cupcakes are also meant to be frosted with an icing similar to their filling. But it requires another stick of butter, and another jar of Fluff, and more powdered sugar. I just couldn’t do it. It seemed like overkill. And while I’m sure they taste good with the icing, they’re delicious even without it. Plus, the way I rationalized it for myself is that Twinkies don’t have any icing outside either. So hah! But if you want to go ahead with the icing, you can find the recipe for it at the above link.)

So what’s the final result look like?

Well, as I tweeted the other day, it looks like this:

I stuffed my Twinkie cupcakes and then re-capped them so they weren’t just open pockets of filling. When I started having less and less of the filling, I simply stopped coring the cupcakes and spread the filling on top, as icing.

And then I dove in. The good thing is you can eat these cupcakes two ways: right after you fill them, ’cause then they’re all full of gooey goodness, ready to burst, and after you chill them in your fridge, ’cause then they’re like your traditional Twinkie. Total win-win.

If my picture isn’t exactly making your mouth water, then you might want to look at this picture from The Domestic Rebel’s site. Cue drooling ………. now:

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10 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {8} – Twinkie cupcakes.”

  1. OMG, I am so glad you made them!! Aren’t they rocking?! I’m intrigued by the unfrosted version-yes, the frosting IS a bit sweet, but the unfrosted sounds just about perfect. And you’re right, Twinkies are perfect without it normally so why not have a Twinkie-esque muffin?!

    • Alissa says:

      Haha, well, it only LOOKS like a muffin. Still tastes like a cupcake. 😉

      And they’re beyond rocking. They’re just …. cannot express it in words!

      Many, many, MANY thanks to you for posting the recipe. <3

  2. Jessica S. says:

    OMG. I’m bookmarking this page!!! <3 Thanks for sharing!

  3. I want to eat a Twinkie cupcake! It looks SO good.

  4. elena says:

    oh geez these look so unhealthy but SO GOOD! I’m not really a fan of twinkies but I’ve had them fried & with ice cream before which was delicious. Really bad but delicious, haha.

Quinoa veggie burger (recipe)

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: veggie burgers

Hello, I’m Alissa and I may be turning into a vegetarian.

All right – that’s not necessarily true. But I do love my vegetables, and lately I’ve been a severe quinoa junky. (That stuff is SO good!) So naturally if you put quinoa and veggies together, I’m going to start drooling. …Although technically I planned to post about another food find, after stumbling upon this recipe and giving it a go, I couldn’t resist; I had to share.

Do you see these beauties sizzling?

I had my reservations about making these, though. Years ago, when I’d decided to try going vegetarian, it was veggie burgers that stopped me from continuing a meatless path. Those premade, hard-as-rock patties were beyond unappetizing and finding this recipe brought back the memories of eating what might as well have been cardboard. But then I saw that they called for quinoa and I thought, How bad could they really be?

Not. Bad. At. All. (Of course this one looks way more picture-perfect than mine!)

INGREDIENTS

veggie burgers

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15 ounces can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small pot, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, scallions, garlic, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into four patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side. [note: I found that this made too much of the mixture for only four patties (I didn’t want them that thick), so I ended up with six instead.]

 

In the end, these were absolutely delicious. And hey – I didn’t have to feel guilty for eating two because they’re packed with protein!

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4 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {14} – veggie burgers.”

  1. *drools* I may have to try these. They look delicious!

  2. Nikki Steele says:

    Looks amazing! I find myself swinging to vegetarian recipes lately too, especially with the heat.

How to make homemade popcorn

Whip it Up Mondays! {7}

Jun
11

2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, Whip it Up Mondays

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Popcorn

It used to be that I’d rarely ever eat popcorn. Movie theater popcorn? Pass. Too greasy. Microwaveable popcorn? Pass. Extra Loaded Butter? More like Is There Butter at All? Plus, I always hated having kernels stuck in my teeth.

And then I got a wok and everything changed. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that woks are meant for cooking Asian cuisine. While that’s true, it’s not the only truth. Woks are good for many things (a list that would need its own post), including making popcorn. BUT. There’s also another way to make homemade popcorn: in a regular pot.

Are you doubting me yet? Stick with me!

First, the benefits. Making your own popcorn isn’t only tastier, but healthier. Microwaveable popcorn brands contain preservatives, nasty chemicals and unneeded sodium. Oh, and let’s not forget the entirely fake butter. Homemade popcorn simply has oil, salt (to taste) and real butter. That’s it. And it’s cheaper. Microwaveable popcorn can cost $5+ for a mere 3-5 packs, whereas buying a bag of kernels to pop at home (which ultimately yields like 10x the amount of popcorn) can be as cheap as $2. The other good news is it’s just as easy to make as it is to pop it in the microwave.

The typical popcorn kernels are yellow and white kernels. (Yellow is the kind they use at theaters.) But am I the only one that hates those annoying hulls that get stuck in your teeth? I’d like to think I’m not! Well, guess what? There’s a way to avoid them: black kernels, which have fewer hulls. When I discovered this I ran out and bought some, and to my surprise, they really do have very little hulls! The one downside is that they don’t pop as big as yellow and white kernels. So it comes down to a matter of preference. Either way, it tastes so much better, and that’s what matters.

So, what do you do?

INGREDIENTS

homemade popcorn

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable/canola oil
  • 1/3 – 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels (serves up to 4)
  • a few pinches of salt (to taste)
  • butter, melted (depends how buttery you want your popcorn; start with 1 tbsp and melt more if needed)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour 3 tbsp. of vegetable/canola oil and popcorn kernels into a deep pot. Stir the kernels to make sure they’re all coated with some of the oil, then flatten them out so most of the kernels aren’t atop others.
  2. Turn the heat on high and cover with a lid. The kernels will start popping in a few minutes.
  3. In the meantime, melt your butter!
  4. When the popping tapers off, turn off the heat and transfer popcorn to a bowl and sprinkle with a bit of salt and the melted butter. Toss to coat as many pieces as possible.

And ta-da!

 

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2 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {7}”

  1. […] How to make your own popcorn […]

  2. […] The Grammarian talks about how to make popcorn at home without a microwave. […]

Whip it Up Mondays! {2} – thegrammariansreviews.com

Whip it Up Mondays! {2}

Apr
15

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, Whip it Up Mondays

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Microwaveable Potato Chips

 

Guess what I bet you didn’t know? Yep – those potatoes you have just sitting in your pantry? You could be turning them into deliciously healthy, non-processed potato chips.  BUT WAIT! Don’t go!

I know your mind is swimming with images of fryers and grease and the all-important ticking of the clock, reminding you of the time you just can’t spare for making measly potato chips.

But what if I told you that you wouldn’t have to use a fryer? What if I told you that you could use your microwave?

And that’s precisely what I’m telling you. You can make your own potato chips in the microwave. In the span of four minutes! And the best part is one potato can yield you a bunch of chips, and you get to season them however you’d like. You can also store them for several days  – so you can make a bunch and not worry about finishing them!

When I first came across the microwaveable potato chip idea over here, I didn’t know what to think. I almost felt cheated that I didn’t know I could have been easily making my own chips all this time, flavoring them exactly how I want them, without having to buy bags and bags of processed chips. I always assumed a fryer was needed, and I was not about to waste a bunch of oil just to fry thinly sliced potatoes. So this idea of utilizing your microwave to make your own chips is just ingenious to me.

Are you ready to see how easy it is?

INGREDIENTS

microwaveable potato chips

medium russet potato
parchment paper
salt
optional seasonings: chili powder, Old Bay seasoning, powdered cheddar, etc.

DIRECTIONS

Using a mandolin, v-slicer, or knife, slice one medium russet potato (peeled, if you like) as thinly as possible, taking care that all slices are the same thickness. Line the turntable tray of your microwave with parchment paper and place the potato slices on it without overlapping. Salt lightly and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings.

Microwave at full power–watching closely–until spots of brown begin to appear, about 4-6 minutes. Turn off the microwave for 1 minute. Microwave again at full power until the slices are golden brown. (Be very careful not to over-brown or they will taste burned.) Remove from the microwave and allow to cool. Repeat until all potato slices are cooked.

For salt + vinegar chips: Dip each potato slice into cider vinegar before putting it on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt before microwaving.

I don’t think it gets any easier than that! Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of potatoes laying around while I’m at school, so I have to wait until I’m at home to indulge in this neat little cooking treat. But if you have potatoes going unused, I highly suggest giving this a try!

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10 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {2}”

  1. Mind officially blown. I will definitely have to try this.

  2. This is AMAZING. I didn’t know it was possible to make chips outta the microwave. I’m with Amanda – my mind is officially blown XD. Gonna have to go to the grocers today to pick up some potatoes!

    Just a coupla questions – do they come out crispy or more crunchy? Also, do you think fingerling potatoes would work?

    • Alissa says:

      I’ve never tried with fingerling. I assume they’d still work, but, I’m guessing it probably has to do with starch content? That’d be my guess, anyway.

      And it depends, but I’m going with that they’re more crunchy.

      Let me know how they turn out for you!

  3. This sounds kind of interesting I may try it.

  4. Cialina says:

    Wow, this is so tempting.

  5. […] Whip it Up Mondays!- this week the Grammarian gives a recipe for making homemade chips in the microwave. […]

  6. […] Alissa from The Grammarian’s Reviews blew my mind with a recipe for microwave potato chips. […]

Cooking tips: prep.

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: cooking tips

Cooking tips don’t always pertain to the actual cooking of things. Sometimes tips are also essential for prep work. Here are two quick tips to make your cooking experiences just a little bit better.

 

ONION WOES

Ever go to cut an onion, only to be reduced to tears and burning eyes? (It’s all right. It happens to all of us.)

Did you know there’s a way to prevent that, though? That’s right. You don’t have to cry!

Here’s what you can do:

1. Put the onion in the fridge or freezer at least 20-30 minutes before planning to cut it.

2. Quickly rinse the onion (peeled) in water, then chop.

 

SMELLY HANDS

Garlic is amazing, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to smell like it for quite some time.

Here’s how to get the potent smell off your hands:

1. After chopping the garlic, rub your hands on a stainless steel utensil.

2. After chopping the garlic, wash your hands with lemon soap or lemon juice.

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8 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {15} – cooking tips.”

  1. I have heard that onion trick!

    Also, I like garlic. Mmmm…. garlic.

  2. Liz. R says:

    Is it odd that I usually don’t cry cutting onions? I do sometimes but most of the time I’m fine. I wonder why…maybe different types of onions have different effects? And garlic is amazing but the smell left on your hands is annoying. Will definitely be using those tips!

  3. Nikki Steele says:

    What a fun one! I actually have a pair of old swimming goggles I use when cutting onions because they make me tear up so badly. I have to use them covertly as my husband can’t help laughing when he sees me in them.

    Another quick garlic tip if you don’t have a garlic press is to slice the clove thinly, sprinkle a bit of salt over it, and then mash it with the back of a fork. The salt makes it easier to break the garlic up.

    • Alissa says:

      😮 I like that tip! Especially because I don’t have a garlic press. Will be using in the future! Thanks, Nikki. 🙂

Doughnuts: made the easy way!

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: doughnuts

(Yes, I spell it “doughnuts.” It really, really bugs me when I see it spelled as “donuts.”)

So, I’ve been on a bit of a doughnut kick. And in this kick I’ve learned a new trick. (Oh man, I rhymed.) Check this out:

Talk about easy!

Thank you, Pinterest!

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8 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {13} – doughnuts made easy.”

  1. *snorts* It must be spelled doughnuts, huh?

    That looks like a really easy way to make doughnuts! 🙂

  2. Liz. R says:

    I am trying to find out if these are sold in England, they look amazing and so easy to make! If not, I will just have to go out and buy some, you’ve got me craving doughnuts now :P.

  3. OMG!! I used to make these alllll the time!! They really are super tasty and fluffy. 🙂

  4. Cialina says:

    I admit it… I am IMPRESSED.

Whip it Up Mondays! {1} – thegrammariansreviews.com

Whip it Up Mondays! {1}

Apr
09

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, Whip it Up Mondays

photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: Churro Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you think about churros, your mind immediately goes to those glorious sugary, golden sticks of dough. But today we’re going to think about churros in a different way – as CUPCAKES. Yes, you read that correctly.  Churros. As cupcakes.

Really, what could be a better combination?

I first saw the churro cupcake recipe on Cecilia’s blog (check it out for the original page and her bookish insights!) and immediately began to drool over the pictures she posted, including this one:

Heaven, in the form of a cupcake. Look at all that caramel!

Needless to say, I was sold on the recipe and discovered I already had all of the ingredients. So I made them, of course! Mine didn’t come out nearly as pretty as Cecilia’s, but they still tasted absolutely wonderful. And that’s what matters most, right?

My churro cupcakes. (I drizzled them with caramel sauce AFTER this picture was taken.)

I’m not at all lying when I say that they’re delicious. Okay, yes, I am. Because they’re MARVELOUS. They’re the perfect go-to dessert for Autumn and Winter – or any time at all, really. You can never really go wrong with caramel on top of cupcakes. Especially churro cupcakes.

So whaddaya think? Ready to give ‘em a go? I hope so!

INGREDIENTS

cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 (1 stick) cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until just combined then stir in the vanilla and oil. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and gently stir in until barely combined. Add half of the milk, mixing until just combined. Repeat these steps with the remaining flour mixture and milk, ending with the flour. Do not over-mix.

Fill each cupcake tin with 2 tablespoons of batter, or until the cupcake tin is filled half way (do NOT be generous). Bake the cupcakes for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with one or two crumbs clinging to it. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.??

For the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Then stir in the vanilla. Beat the mixture well, until light and fluffy.

Pipe onto cupcakes, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and top with a drizzle of Dulce De Leche (or caramel sauce) if desired.

*Note: I’m not much of a baker, so making cupcakes from scratch and, well, NOT from a box mix was a little daunting at first. But this recipe is so simple and easy enough to follow that I actually ended up making these 2-3 weeks straight. No lie. So if I can do it, you can, too. And the awesome thing is you’ll be proud of what you’ve done with such little work, and everyone else will think you’re a Cupcake Queen (or King!). Win-win!

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10 Responses to “Whip it Up Mondays! {1}”

  1. Cialina says:

    That looks so good!

  2. Cecelia says:

    Alissa – So glad you liked the recipe (and found it easy!). Those cupcakes were a big hit when I made them, too. Happy baking!

  3. Ooooh, cooking. I think you need to come over and cook (or bake, as the case may be) for me. *nods*

  4. Liz. says:

    Those look AMAZING. Your ones looks so yummy, I wish you could send me some! 😛 Definitely want to try making these some day – thank you :).

  5. OMG, that’s amazing XD. I didn’t even know there’s such thing as cupcake churros, but I will definitely be trying this out. I fell in love with churros (and gained like, 3 lbs extra to show for it, lol) when I was in Peru last year and the only place I can find churros here is Cinnabon – not quite the same, haha. Thanks for the recipe and photos! Yum!

When blogging gets personal.

When blogging gets personal.

Oct
04

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

This post was inspired by Jamie’s story about the collision of her blogging and personal life.

——————————-

This site, although comprised of posts about books, memes and other ramblings, is personal. It’s my space that I choose to share. My posts may not be specifically about me, but they are me nonetheless.  I take the time to read and review the books posted on here.  I read and react and post my thoughts to issues happening in the community or publishing world. This post is personal, too.

But, as personal as this all may be, it’s an estranged, or detached, form of personal. Blogger friends, authors and publishers, while easy to talk to, are not necessarily the same as family or friends you see every day (in person).

For me, The Grammarian’s Reviews is a sort of separate personal life. Yes, my family and some of my friends know about it. But they don’t actively read it, search for it, talk to me about it. It’s more of a “Hey, did you post this on your blog?” or “Hey, you can write about this on your blog!” type of relationship. So when people “in real life” ask about my blog, or find out about it, I’m totally unprepared. And, in all honesty, I become defensive and nervous.

——————————-

At the beginning of this semester, on the first day of my media writing class, I had to introduce myself to the class and explain why I’m interested in media (and what aspects of it). Naturally, I blurted out that I’m an advocate of blogging because I run my own website.

“Oh, really? What sort?”

Again, naturally, I said, “A book review site.”

“Oh. Well, you can have a plug. What’s it called?”

I blinked. I shrugged. I stuttered. Then, in a much quieter voice, I said, “It’s called The Grammarian’s Reviews.”

I hoped – I prayed – no one would write it down and find it later. As soon as I got back from work, I logged on and checked my site stats. Sure enough, there was a miniature spike in page views. (What looked like a spike was pretty much just paranoia. But still.) I wondered if I’d receive an anonymous comment, if someone would mention it to me before the next class.

They didn’t.

But what if they had? Why was I so afraid? It’s not like I have anything to be ashamed of. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of the YA and book blogging community.  But that’s the thing.

In my world, when people initially discover I’m a blogger, they want to know what kind. “A book blogger,” I’ll tell them. That’s inevitably followed by the question “Oh, what kind of books?”

Which is when it all goes to hell.

“Young Adult,” I’ll say.

“Oh,” they’ll reply. “Like younger books?” Or, sometimes, “Like Harry Potter?”

“No. That’s middle grade.”

I already know it’s a waste of breath because they don’t understand and have already lobbed me into a stereotype.

——————————-

Jamie’s story made me not only reflect upon this, but also realize that there’s a major difference. Being thrown into the book blogging community, there’s already an established understanding.  We may not blog about the same genres or same books or same issues, but we all have a mutual respect for what each other reads and thinks about those reads.

“In real life,” there’s no established understanding. When someone stumbles across my blog, they don’t already have a respect for the fact that I read or for what I read or for why I blog. It’s like I have to sell myself using my blog, without warning. It puts me on the spot. Every time. I don’t like it, but I’ll never deny being a book blogger and YA book reader.

I just need to work on my confidence when put on the spot.

Do you ever feel embarrassed talking about your blog “in real life”? How can you overcome it?

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14 Responses to “When blogging gets personal.”

  1. Anne says:

    I hate to admit it but I actively try to keep my blogging life and my real life separate. My parents know about it, and some of my coworkers, but that’s it. I think some of that is because I had a falling out with the group of friends I used to discuss books with and blogging was a way for me to build a new group of reader/friends away from that. I don’t like to tell *anybody* just in case it would get back around to those friends and they would feel justified in invading what I’ve created as a personal reading space. It may be an irrational fear, but there you have it – we’re all irrational sometimes.

    I’m just glad that the blogging community *is* so supportive. We all have common goals and we all have an understanding that YOUR blog is YOUR space. We’re very polite about respecting that (at least everyone I’ve met is, I’ve heard stories, but fingers-crossed none of my blogging friends ever have to experience that). Even among other book lovers in real life you run into difficulty because people feel the need to argue with your opinions if they disagree, instead of politely, respectfully just saying so. On the internet and through text we have to be very careful because of the pitfalls of communication without facial expressions and inflection that we’re naturally just nicer about what we’re saying.

    Sorry for the novel! Great post, Alissa, lots to think about!

    • Alissa says:

      That’s so true. Many readers I know often like to rag on my reading choices, or don’t even bother to try and understand why I read what I read. It can be difficult to build that respect between one another, which is why I think I prefer to keep my book talk on here. The respect is (usually) already there.

  2. I love this post, Alissa! Part of the reason why I love book blogging is that I don’t have to feel odd or ashamed of reading and blogging. I think I also show a side of myself in blogging that people in real life may not see or understand. But I’m working on my own confidence when it comes to not letting people IRL affect my pride in my blog. 🙂

    • Alissa says:

      I love getting to show the side of myself that people in real life don’t understand. It’s one of my favorite parts about blogging, especially because, when I first started, I expected I’d have to limit myself and my voice.

  3. Kris says:

    I think it depends on the intention of your blog. My music blog, for example, is a weird hybrid of the cyber world/creative non-fiction/personal reflection/academic analysis that there is no way I can completely separate my personal life from it. There’s a danger to that though, which I’ve certainly faced.

    For me, the nervousness about talking about my blog “in real life” is a matter of separation of worlds. My friends read my blog – no biggie, thanks for the support. Enemies have read my blog – yeah whatever glad you have nothing better to do with your life. But, if I write it on the internet then I expect it to be a internet thing. As soon as someone casually pulls out the old “Oh hey, I read you blog post recently” in real life, that’s when I flush red and start stuttering….or stay quiet because inside I’m like “ohgodohgodohgod.” It’s not really something I can control though. I write about personal things so I have to get over it sometimes.

    My secret is just to plow through it. It’s not something I can control so why worry about it.

    • Alissa says:

      True. You can’t control anyone’s response.

      I’d like to, at some point, be able to control my own responses though. I don’t want to stutter or stay quiet or feel bad about whatever they’ve seen. I want to stand behind my work, which I don’t think I do well enough.

  4. Annette says:

    Sometimes I like the fact that my IRL friends and family don’t really check on my blog. I always think about that when I post and make comments. You know, “Would they think this is stupid?” Probably…. but it’s not for them….

    • Alissa says:

      I do that, too. I always think about whatever the current, topmost post is and how friends stumbling upon it would interpret it. But that’s really what it comes down – they’re own interpretation and judgment.

  5. We Heart YA says:

    Everything in the last section of this post = big fat yes.

    We’re all part of a community, so we understand how things work. But outside those “walls,” anything goes, and some people will get it, but many others won’t.

    Is that scary? Absolutely.

    But one thing that might be helpful to remember, is that everyone’s got those “walls” in their lives. They’re Gleeks, or they’re into fly fishing, or they volunteer at soup kitchens on the weekends, or they gamble, or whatever. There’s any variety of “clubs” and communities that people belong to that their friends & family just won’t understand.

    They key, as you said, is to be okay with it. To have confidence on the spot.

    And to not feel like we have to justify ourselves to anyone else. Explaining is one thing; justifying is different.

    • Alissa says:

      I love that you used fly fishing as an example.

      Also, you’re right. Justifying versus explaining is a good way to look at it. I’ll be keeping that in mind!

  6. […] Alissa (The Grammarian’s Reviews) builds off Jamie’s post from last week and talks about when we admit to people IRL that we are book bloggers. […]

  7. […] (The Grammarian’s Reviews) wrote a post on blogging versus personal life. It got me thinking about my personal reasons for blogging in a way I haven’t […]

  8. I did for a while, but then I read somewhere that if I’m really passionate about my blog, I should be shouting from the rooftops that I blog and what the address is. My situation is probably a little easier since I focus on sci-fi and fantasy, which, while nerdy, is generally accepted by the real life nerdy community. In fact, once I started telling people that I have a book blog, I started feeling like I had more street cred as a sci-fi/fantasy fan :D. Not everyone that I tell finds their way back to the blog, but a couple of my rl friends read it regularly. It’s crazy to look over their shoulder in class and see one of my posts on their screen!

    For YA bloggers, maybe pre-empting the misunderstanding by saying “Young Adult, so books like the Hunger Games and/or Twilight” or something more eloquent than that. Since THG and Twilight are popular, it could help bridge the gap…. I suspect a lot of those people might have actually read and liked one of those series and will then be excited to hear about more books like them.

    • Alissa says:

      That’s a good idea to keep in mind. I’ve never thought of providing examples. Once I get the dreaded WTF look when I mention YA I tend to shut down, so this could maybe help stop that. Thanks!

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