Sunday, 29 June 2014

June mix.


This month I have, of course, gone for a Read Women Month themed mix full of upbeat songs by lovely lady singers!

Track List

That's Alright - Laura Mvula
The Wire - Haim
Kiss With a Fist - Florence + The Machine
All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor
Stay Out - Nina Nesbitt
Little Numbers - Boy
The Love Club - Lorde
22 - Taylor Swift

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Butterbeer.


I think all Harry Potter fans can agree that the most exciting thing about WWOHP and the studio tour in London is that muggles finally get to taste butterbeer. However, I don't know about any of you, but when I visited the studio tour last year I found the butterbeer to be a little underwhelming. It didn't taste at all the way I had imagined Butterbeer to taste. It was sweeter than I had expected and the flavours were a little too artificial for my liking.

So today I thought I would share with you my own recipe for butterbeer. This isn't the chilled, bottled butterbeer Winky drowned her sorrows with. This is a hot, steaming tankard mug of butterbeer to warm you up while you spend a pleasant winter's day with your friends at The Three Broomsticks.


Ingredients
  • 1 cup of milk (I just measure it in the mug I'll be drinking from)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp butter
Method
  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients
  3. Stir gently until the sugar and butter are completely melted and the milk is heated through but don't let the mixture reach boiling point
  4. If you want you can use a hand mixer to froth up the mixture but I didn't bother
  5. Pour it into your favourite mug and enjoy!


If it's not quite buttery enough for you then you can always add a little more and tailor the recipe to your preference. I definitely recommend using the real stuff though, if you can. I'm not sure wizards are working with Flora or olive oil substitutes!

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

#ReadWomenMonth books I'd like to see as movies.


As you probably gathered from Sunday's post, I'm pretty keen on book to movie adaptations. So today I thought I'd share with you some books that I think would make great movies (all written by women of course, it is still Read Women Month for one more week!)

I've even got some ideas for casting (with help from Jen and google.) You're welcome, Hollywood.


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I actually have to credit Jen again here because if she hadn't started talking about wanting an Anna and the French Kiss movie last week then I probably would never have come up with the idea for this blog post. Thanks Jen!

Reading about Anna and √Čtienne falling in love in Paris was one thing, but actually being able to watch it? Why isn't this movie happening already?

The Cast

Katie Stevens as Anna

Darren Criss as √Čtienne


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Well, if you're making an Anna and the French Kiss movie, then you have to make a Lola and the Boy Next Door movie too. Just imagine seeing all of Lola's amazing costumes come to life on film. Imagine the Marie Antoinette dress and biker boots and the San Francisco streets!

The Cast

Holland Roden as Lola

Andrew Garfield as Cricket



I feel like Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer might actually make a better film than it does a book. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like the book, but it's definitely not the best book I've ever read. A film would be able to emphasise the good parts of the story - Marie Antoinette's murderous ghost and the Paris setting - and fix the parts that aren't so great - Colette's struggling character development and the two-dimensional supporting cast. I really think it could be good.

The Cast

Jane Levy as Colette


13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Everyone loves a travel movie, right? Just imagine all the gorgeous European scenery we'd get from a 13 Little Blue Envelopes movie. I think if it was done well, Ginny's story has all the right aspects to make a really great coming-of-age movie (and you might have guessed already from my choices that those are my favourite kind of movies.)

The Cast

Melissa Benoist as Ginny

Will Merrick as Keith


Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Born Confused is so beautifully written, with such rich imagery, that it's almost begging to be made into a film. There were so many times when reading it that I felt I could almost see exactly what was being described and I think it really would make for an amazing film.

The Cast

Amara Karan as Dimple Lala

Abhi Sinha as Karsh

Becca Tobin as Gwyn


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is another book with really rich description and the things being described would all be so beautiful on film. The completely black and white circus has the potential to look absolutely stunning, and all of the magic in the book would make for some challenging but amazing special effects. This would be a best seller of a film for sure.

The Cast

Gemma Arterton as Celia

Eddie Redmayne as Marco


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Okay so Eleanor & Park is already being made into a film (yay!) which means all that's left to do now is wait and worry and hope that everything is perfect. (Here's a tip on how to make it perfect - cast Ami Metcalf as Eleanor!)

The Cast

Ami Metcalf as Eleanor

Booboo Stewart as Park


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

And of course, once Eleanor & Park has become the best selling film of the year, a Fangirl movie is bound to follow! Well, I hope so at least. Cath is a really interesting leading lady and those Simon Snow sections would be fantastic on film.

The Cast

Lily Collins as Cath

and Wren

(I have to admit Lily isn't my perfect Cath/Wren, but after hours of searching I still couldn't find my perfect Cath/Wren so I sort of settled for close enough. Is that insulting? I hope not. I really do like Lily Collins!)

Tom Felton as Levi

Kat Dennings as Reagan

So what do you think? Would you watch these films? Do you love or hate my casting choices? Who would you cast as Cath/Wren? What other books do you think would make great movies? Are these too many questions?

I'll see you on Thursday for a post with much fewer images!

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Sunday, 22 June 2014

My favourite films based on books by women.



If there's one thing I love as much as a good book it's a good film, and a good film adaptation of a good book is even better, so today I thought I would share with you some of my favourite film adaptations of books written by women.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone dir. Chris Columbus

Of course we have to start with the Harry Potter films (as with the books, I find it impossible to choose a favourite so Philosopher's Stone will just have to represent all of them). Of course I have my problems with the films (Marauders who? Tom Riddle's human death what?) but at their heart all of the films kept the spirit of the books and I'm hardly one to complain about there being more Harry Potter in the world.


Clueless dir. Amy Heckerling 

I loved Clueless so much as a child, my dad got sick of having to watch it with me whenever it was on television (and it used to be on television a lot), but it wasn't until I was much older that I discovered it was based on Jane Austen's Emma. Now, I haven't read Emma so I can't say much about how faithful this adaptation is (I'm guessing the titular character doesn't have an electronic wardrobe in the book) but as a film it's still a definite favourite. I also had a great time figuring out how all the characters translated across when I watched the BBC miniseries of Emma with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller.


Twilight dir. Catherine Hardwicke

I was so crazy about Twilight when this film came out that I saw it twice in the cinema and found a bootleg of it online so that I could watch my favourite scenes again. It was serious. I'm a little less obsessed with Twilight now but this film still remains a bit of a favourite. I'm not so keen on the other films (I haven't even seen the last one yet) but this first one has something special about it and I think that's probably down to Catherine Hardwicke, who unfortunately didn't direct any of the subsequent films. Say what you like about Twilight but it is damn engrossing and something about the way this film is shot is almost dreamlike and just takes it to the next level, in my opinion. It also has a fantastic soundtrack, and there really is no denying that scene where the vampires play baseball to Muse's Supermassive Black Hole


The Hunger Games dir. Gary Ross

I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games series and I'll admit I was a little worried that a film adaptation wouldn't quite capture the world perfectly but I really needn't have been. With adaptations I don't mind changes from the book because of course a lot of changes are necessary, but the important thing for me is that the tone of the book remains, and I think that was handled amazingly in The Hunger Games movie and even better in Catching Fire. Katniss's world really translates fantastically to screen and I'm still so impressed with how faithful to the books these films are. Now I just kind of hope that the Mockingjay films are a little less faithful. Just a little.


The Princess Diaries dir. Garry Marshall

From one very faithful book to movie adaptation to one that basically throws the book out of the window and yet it still works. The Princess Diaries is nothing like Meg Cabot's book series, really. The only real similarities are the character's names and the fact that Mia is indeed a princess. Book Grandmere is not Julie Andrews, Book Michael is a genius, Book Mia's Dad is alive, and Book Lilly is... well Book Lilly is actually pretty much the same. And yet the film is so great, and it's so much fun, that I don't really care about those differences. The second film is even further removed from the books and it's still absolutely great. If you want feel good movies you really can't do much better than these and the books are pretty feel good too so I guess it all matches up in the end.


I Capture the Castle dir. Tim Fywell

I've already mentioned I Capture the Castle as possibly my all time favourite book a few times this month (and shared with you my recipe for The Mortmain) so of course I wanted the film to live up to everything I loved about the book and it really, really does. The tone of the film matches the book so perfectly that I was already pretty inclined to forgive any changes to the story but thankfully there aren't that many. Dare I say it, I think this might be a perfect adaptation. I've watched it so many times and it always leaves me in a good mood and it's one of those films that I'm just always in the mood to watch. (Others include St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold and Star Trek but neither of those fit on this list.)


Howl's Moving Castle dir. Hayao Miyazaki

I haven't read this book either so again I can't tell you how faithful it is or isn't to the original text but I can tell you that Howl's Moving Castle always just fills with this sense of childlike wonder and magic every time I watch it and it's another film that I don't think I will ever get sick of. It's the first, and so far only, Miyazaki film I've seen and obviously I'm looking forward to watching more. It's a tricky one because I love the film so much that I'm almost worried that if I read the book now then I won't like the book as much, but I suspect I'll probably sit down to it one day anyway.


Lost in Austen

Alright so I'm cheating a little with this one because it isn't actually a film, it's an ITV miniseries, but I couldn't make a list of adaptations from books by women writers and not include Lost in Austen! For those of you who don't know, because it is a little less straight forward than the others on this list, Lost in Austen is the story of Amanda, a woman from modern day England who, through a series of odd events, finds herself in the world of Pride and Prejudice while Elizabeth Bennet is in her place in 2008 London. Things inevitably start to deviate from the plot of the book and Amanda tries her best to get everything on track until she can find a way to switch back with Elizabeth. But of course things do not go exactly to plan because where would be the fun in that? Again, I haven't read Pride and Prejudice (I know, I'm terrible) but I really enjoyed this miniseries anyway and although I think it probably does help if you have at least an understanding of the original story and characters, you can definitely still enjoy it if all you know is that Elizabeth and Darcy are supposed to end up together (which I'm pretty sure everyone does. If you didn't then... sorry? But I mean come on, even I knew that).

I'd love to know what you think of these films. Which have you seen? Which did you like or which didn't you? And, of course, do let me know what your favourite book to film adaptations are! (Especially if they're from books written by women. It is still Read Women Month for one more week after all!)

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Banana macarons.


Today's Read Women Month post is a little recipe inspired by one of my favourite books, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perks. Of course it had to be macarons for a book set in beautiful Paris, and when I thought of Anna Oliphant my mind immediately went to bananas (you'll understand why if you've read the book, I hope). So here they are, delicious banana macarons for Anna and the French Kiss.


For the macaron shells (possibly not the technical term) I used this recipe from Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy. I actually found this recipe incredibly not easy because I kept messing up the sugar syrup, but they came out alright in the end and if you're a little better with sugar syrup than I am then you should find it a lot easier.

Ingredients
Makes 12 macarons (24 macaron shells)
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 90g egg whites
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 110g caster sugar
  • food colouring (optional)
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150 if you have a fan oven, like me) and line a large baking tray with baking paper (I used two baking trays.)
  2. Put the icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g egg whites together in a large bowl and mix to a paste. For coloured macarons, add a few drops of food colouring (I recommend gel colouring because it won't affect the consistency.)
  3. Put the water and caster sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil until the mixture starts to go syrupy and thickens - if you prefer to use a thermometer then it should read 115°C/239°F at this stage.
  4. Whisk the remaining 50g egg whites in a small bowl until medium-stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl, then pour in the sugar syrup, whisking until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny. Tip this meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture and fold gently until the mixtures are combined and stiff and shiny again.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe a little mixture under each corner of the baking paper to stop it sliding around. With the bag held vertically, pipe 4cm flat circles onto the lined tray, about 2cm apart, twisting the bag after each one. The mixture should be quite loose to give a smooth finish. The piping will leave a small 'tip' on each circle so, when they're all piped, give the tray 2-3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them.
  6. Leave to stand for 30 minutes to form a skin then bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes with the door slightly ajar until firm (our oven door won't stay ajar so I didn't do that but they turned out okay.) Remove from the oven, lift the paper off the baking tray and leave the macarons to cool on the paper.
My macarons were supposed to be yellow but I either didn't add enough food colouring or left them in the oven for a little bit too long (probably both) so they've sort of ended up yellow on the inside and brown on the outside. Like a banana left in the bowl for too long...


For the filling I used this recipe for banana buttercream icing. I halved the ingredients but ended up having to add a lot more icing sugar to get the icing to a consistency that was thick enough so I've still ended up with a lot left over. I'll give you the measurements I used but bear in mind that you too will definitely need more icing sugar and probably will have some buttercream left over!

Ingredients
  • 30g butter, softened
  • 60g mashed banana
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200g icing sugar (but I probably ended up closer to 250g or maybe even 300g)
Method
  1. Cream together the butter, banana, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
  2. Slowly beat in the icing sugar, adding more if needed.
  3. Use small amounts of buttercream to sandwich pairs of macaron shells together once the shells are completely cooled.
And try not to be too upset that you aren't eating them under the Eiffel Tower with Etienne St. Clair!


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Newquay Part Two - The Beach


After our lovely trip to the zoo my feet were already aching in my new sandals (I know, I know, who wears new sandals to the zoo? This idiot does) and it was just about lunch time so we grabbed some chips and headed down to the beach, where I got to soak my tired feet in the ocean. 




After we were quite finished being completely soaked by unexpectedly large waves we made our way back into the main town and stopped off in a Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlour and I had a really delicious strawberry cheesecake milkshake.


Then we went to Boots so that I could buy blister plasters. Seriously, never wear new sandals to the zoo.

If you'd like to see more of our day (or me making an absolutely charming face) then you can watch this lovely video that Jess made on her youtube channel.

Also, totally unrelated (yeah, right), if you have any tips about how to heal particularly bad sunburn, then I would love to hear them. Really. I am really not just saying that.

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Sunday, 15 June 2014

Newquay Part One - The Zoo


Check out that cool frog guy! (It could be a frog girl. I don't know its frog life.) I am ridiculously pleased with this photograph.

On Friday I went to Newquay with a few friends and took a lot of photos. I've managed to scale them down to a far more manageable number, but I've decided to split the day into two blog posts anyway, just so that I don't overload you with images!

We started the day at Newquay Zoo. It's quite a small zoo but the animals sure did love having their photos taken! Towards the end of our trip my friends were joking about me being 'the animal whisperer' and 'Stasia Dolittle' because so many of the animals seemed to be looking straight at my camera and posing for me! The meerkats especially...





(These are two of the three friends I went with, in the maze at the zoo. Not actually zoo animals, but pretty close.)






After we finished at the zoo we spent our afternoon at the beach and popped into a Ben and Jerry's ice cream parlour, but you'll have to wait until Tuesday for those photos!

I hope you're all having a great weekend!

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