Book Review: “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

I think the last time I reviewed a book was back in 2016. I lost my reading mojo, even though I continued to go on YouTube and watch over 7 different booktubers on a daily basis, adding new books onto my to be read list on Goodreads. In August 2018, I decided to take a chance and bought my first contemporary, trending book out there, it was Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Honestly, this book has been on my TBR list for two years, and I thought it would be one of those books that I’d either never want to read or purchase it because it was a bit cheesy. Fast forward to now, I’m thankful that I talked my mom into letting me buy it! And the fact that Netflix was releasing a movie based on it, definitely didn’t hurt either!

Backstory – Taken from Goodreads

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

I think I bought this book when the Netflix edition covers were released, because I almost didn’t recognize the title of it until I read the back of it and remembered the name “Lara Jean” so I was a bit intrigued but I also didn’t want to purchase it solely on the fact that it was going to be turned into a movie. I think I really got it for the fact that I hadn’t read anything in over two years and I made it my mission to make time for other things besides blogging throughout the week, so when I saw it, I hoped it would be enough to get me out of my funk and for like two months, it did that for me before I lost it once again. In my defense, I was an idiot and tried to read three books at the same time! Apparently I’m not that kind of a bookworm.

Overall

When I first started reading it, I wasn’t on chapter five yet, and I had already expressed to my parents how much I loved the book! I’ve been out of school, in what feels like forever, but this transported me back to my freshman year and I was seeing the similarities between what I did around all of the cute guys, except I never wrote them all letters. I only did that one and I delivered it in a full cafeteria, and how Lara Jean was around both Josh and Peter.

I think what I loved the most about her was how different or quirky as Peter describes her. I think that’s actually a perfect way to explain her to people. She is mostly a home body, likes to hang out with her family, and best friend Chris then getting drunk and/or high with the rest of the party goers. Besides all of the drama that ensues in the book, I honestly think the letters going out to the boys was the best thing for her. It got her out of comfortable shell and I think she started to learn something about herself as a person.

As far as the boys go, I was going back and forth with them. In the beginning, I was pulling for Lara Jean and Josh, but the more it continued I was really loving this “relationship” between her with Peter. I think my favorite outing between these two characters was their first one, where Peter takes her to go estate shopping at this old house. This is where you get to see Peter in a new light, he’s away from his friends and his attention isn’t on the ex-girlfriend Gen, they’re bonding throughout this little adventure. This is also the readers first glance at Lara Jean getting out of her comfort zone too.

Lastly, I need to talk about something that was added at the end of the book, and I’m not totally sure if the previous editions included them, but in my copy we get recipes of the cookies that were talked about towards the end of the book. I’ve only come across a book that had a recipe somewhere within the book and that was (weirdly enough) Duff McKagan’s autobiography It’s So Easy (and Other Lies) released in 2011. If you’d like to check out that review, you can click here, but I should say that the review was published in 2012. I wasn’t the best blogger at that time, so please ignore the many mistakes included in it, okay?

Have you read the book To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han yet? What were your thoughts about it? Which character is your favorite in the series?

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What I Love About Afternoon Tea!

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Hello!

Last October, when I stayed at my mom’s work while she recovered from her second surgery, my nana and I got to have a lot of fun together and one of the things we both got to enjoy was a theme dinner there at the nursing home.

Gail who works in the activities department explained to us that they try to have four different themes in a year. She and the other girls decorate the different dining rooms and they plan with the chefs of a meal that would go with that particular theme. The one I got to enjoy was “Serenade At The Seven Seas” or something like that. I liked it. I also loved trying the different courses, but the other ladies were a bit mixed though!

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The theme was called “My Fair Lady” and I guess the ladies in the activities department decorated the dinning rooms and made feathered hats or “bonnets” for the female residents! She took pictures and even wrote out the menu of what they served to the residents! I was going to use the one she made, but it had some spelling mistakes so I just redid it – later I realized I could have spelling mistakes on mine! Funny how they works!

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They also had a little tea party too!

According to Gail, in the film a couple of characters host a party and they decided to recreate that with the residents, so they decorated the large activity room with very pretty and colorful table clothes and had these beautiful centerpieces in the middle of them. They looked very vintage but yet modern too! They also made the ladies hats with feathers and ribbons in crafts. My nana really loved that, but as you can see apparently so did Alex!

28535342_1768924659838523_1707063689_nIn 2016, I actually wanted to have an afternoon tea themed birthday party. I had so many ideas that I wanted to do. I wanted to decorate my grandparent’s kitchen table with different fabrics, and since my birthday is like the day after Halloween, I knew my nana had a large black table liner and I thought if we put that on the table itself and laid out a red runner in the middle that way it wouldn’t look too dark and gloomy for the party!

Over the course of the last two years, I’ve actually wondered what I’d serve to this tea party if I ever had one! Since I read so many of my fellow blogger friends going to afternoon tea at different hotels or just plainly at home with their family members and/or close friends., I’ve been able to figure out what all is served, and I’ve grown to love the three teared stand of food that is laid out on the table. The first thing they give you is your tea. However, I’m like the 1% that doesn’t like coffee or tea, so I’m more interested in finding a good lemonade recipe. My mom actually made a homemade strawberry lemonade last year, where she let the strawberries sit out in the juice overnight to allow the flavors to marinate together. I’m kind of partial to anything raspberry, so whenever I see a “raspberry lemonade” on a menu at a restaurant, I instantly order it! So I’d rather have a raspberry lemonade instead.

As much as I’ve gathered, you usually start with the sandwiches, they are usually placed on the bottom and bigger tear. The traditional flavors are egg salad, smoked salmon and cumber all cut in small bites so they look more dainty, and they always have the crusts cut off! Now I look on Pinterest for other ideas to make this a little bit more casual, so I am curious about creating a sandwich or two as some kind of wrap or pinwheel–using the traditional plain tortilla or having a variation of spinach or whole wheat!

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On the second tear you had the scones, which apparently in the states we say the word completely wrong! I’d explain on how it’s really pronounced but I don’t even know how to describe it, so I apologize there.

I have actually seen quite a few of my favorite chefs make scones on their television programs, so I already know of some different kinds I’d like to try out. I also know that when you’re making them for the first time, they’re suppose to be crumbly, so there’s nothing wrong with them, that’s just how they’re meant to be! Ree Drummond created the Maple Oat Nut Scones after not being able to visit a Starbucks where she lives; they look really good! The way she described them on her show The Pioneer Woman they taste like a biscuit type of pancake, because it has a strong taste of maple syrup! However, I think I would have to keep the coffee out of it! And then there’s a Cheddar and Dill Scone recipe from Ina Garten, she’s made this with both cheddar and a Stilton, which is like a stronger blue cheese! She’s very inspired by French food and had a gourmet food store back in the day, so she’s figured out different ways to make a good savory scone!

28536475_1768924629838526_1468751189_nNow the real question is what would I do about the clotted cream and jam that they serve alongside the scones itself? I know we don’t have the traditional clotted cream or nobody makes it to that level as the British, so the next best choice to have would either be mascarpone or cream cheese! Personally, I’ve never been in jam or perseveres, so I wouldn’t necessarily put it out as an option if it was only me, but if I had a group of people, I’d probably get a small jar of strawberry or blueberry jam, but for those who want to be really adventurous they can try out the marmalade. You know, I love the smell of that stuff because it’s like oranges, but I have never tried it before and if it was put out there on the table, I probably would like to try a small dab of it.

As far as the top layer of the stand, my thoughts have differed, sometimes I think a very casual take on decorative cupcakes would work out very nicely! You could make minis so they’d fit on the tear better. However if you wanted to add a fun twist to them, like stuffing them, it wouldn’t necessarily work on the tiny ones. I’ve noticed I keep looking into French pastries. You’d think I’ve been watching too much Ina Garten lately! So the possibility of having macrons, which is something that is on my food bucket list (yes, I do have one those! I actually need to work on that soon!) and there’s the tarts or tarlets you can make, like the Mini Raspberry Tarts that Julia Baker made on her TV show! These were so cute and seemed really easy to make! If you’re a chocoholic, in which I sort of am, you need a couple of good chocolate desserts too! Truffles would be a good idea, as you can just eat it in one bite! You could dip strawberries in chocolate or make little pote de creme (puddings!) in mason jars too.

There doesn’t seem like there’s a right or wrong way to create your own afternoon tea! If you’re interested in learning and seeing what is actually served at the teas in the United Kingdom, I have compiled a list of favorite blog posts for you! I hope you have enjoyed this post!

A Candy Shop Afternoon Tea at Conrad St. James – Lux Life | Love Is In The Air at Langham London’s Valentine’s Afternoon Tea – Fresh And Fearless | Afternoon Tea at Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour – Little Miss Katy | Afternoon Tea at Rockcliffe Hall – This Northern Gal | Sweet Treats: Glam Rock Afternoon Tea at K West Hotel & Spa – AbsolutelyLucy

Have you ever attended an afternoon tea before? If you have, what was it about it that you loved the most? For those of you who haven’t, have you ever been tempted to create one yourself? Let me know in the comments!

snowflake

Milk Chocolate Oreo Bark

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Howdy folks!

So you’ve heard about the cookies, now I get to talk about the chocolate bark!

Now before I get too into this post, I have to say, we’ve never made anything from scratch–my nana and I–we mostly use the packaged stuff mostly because that doesn’t require much from us or anything else! I’ve always wanted to make food and/or desserts from scratch though, I watch Food Network all the time and they kind of inspire that side of me to go into my nana’s kitchen and learn to make things homemade, but unfortunately I’m too short to reach the oven and she even has trouble using her stove!

I kept seeing things on TV about how easy it is to make chocolate bark via the microwave, so I thought it was doable between my nana and I knew she wouldn’t go to use a double boiler to melt a bowl of chocolate! I thought about it for maybe three months and then I finally said something to her about it at the end of November and she thought it was a good idea and something new to put inside the goody bags too!

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Things you will need:

  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 package of Oreos
  • Cookie sheet
  • Wax paper
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Spatula
  • Microwavable bowls

We had my mom go to the store a few days before and I guess she couldn’t find Nestle milk chocolate chips, so that’s why you can’t find them in the picture above! I missed it, I couldn’t get it all in one shot! Sorry about that!

I gave my nana different recipes for the two variations of bark we were going to do, but don’t get too excited here! Like I had mentioned in the cookie post on Monday, my poor nana had fallen in the middle of the night and by the time we were doing this, she was very sore and had been dealing with some back spasms so the fact we managed to get through this one was a damn miracle!

Anyways, the Oreo bark originally asks for white chocolate chips but I thought that since we were going to use the white chocolate for the peppermint bark then maybe we could use milk chocolate chips instead! I’m leaving the original recipe here if you want to read it word-by-word but it’s honestly pretty easy! We decided to do the prep before we went to the melting stage, so we put half of the Oreos into a Ziploc baggy and closed it up before I grabbed a mallet that my papaw used to scare us with as kids, he used to ask us if we had a spanking lately! Anyways, it was very heavy but I felt like Thor as I managed to lift upright and crush the cookies to smaller pieces! It was quite fun actually!

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It said to crush them so that they’re coarse but I still wanted everyone to taste the Oreos and “cream” inside so I deliberately left a few big chunks here and there!

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After I got the cookies crushed, we moved on to the actual chocolate and my nana had to do this because I’m sure if I would have done it, the bowl would have flipped over and the chocolate would have landed on the floor!

We were fairly confused on what to do about the chocolate because it said to measure 1 cup. We put it into our bowl and you’re supposed to follow the directions on the back of the package on how long to melt them in the microwave, which I’ve always heard on Food Network is that you put it in for 30 seconds and then stir it around to get it melted better and if it needs to melt some more, you put it back in for another 30 seconds. Well, the package said 60 seconds and by the fifth time nana took it out of the microwave we realized that maybe the bag was right. When we got to the second cup, we put it in for the correct time! My fault!

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Once we got to this point, I think it’s fair to say my nana was over it. When she put our first batch of melted chocolate out on the cookie sheet, we put the Oreos on top of it, but then for the second she just poured the chocolate into the crumbs and that seemed to work better than what we had done the first time around…

When we were finished with everything and it was all into the sheet, we put it into refrigerator for about an hour or so! Somehow we managed to distract ourselves enough to not mess with it. When my Aunt Laurie came down, she brought her batch of peppermint bark and chocolate covered pretzels and she and nana stacked all three treats together with some parchment paper and some red yarn and put some in everyone’s goody bags! Everybody seemed to love the crap out of them which made me really happy, but I think I will never get nana to do this again!

So, are you a homemade or pre-cooked type of person? Should I suggest to fudge next year? 

snowflake

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Cake In A Mug!

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Hey guys,

So I’m here with a little baking post! I think the last one I wrote about were the cookies at Christmas, but technically those are premade so yeah! As you can see from the title, we made these cakes inside mugs! You might be skeptical right now, but I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty incredible!

This wasn’t even my idea! My nana found it through her Facebook, if I remember correctly it was from “On This Day” sidebar. She sent me this little status one day and I just thought it was a fluke despite seeing it done on TV. She really wanted to try this out so she had my mom get like six different cake mixes a few weekends ago. She got two angel food  cakes and strawberry, lemon, chocolate, yellow, and white mixes. She also got the idea of storing them in mason jars, I wish I could’ve read my mom’s brain when she read that section of the grocery list!

What you’ll need for this:

  • 2 different cake mixes
  • big bowl
  • whisk
  • water
  • coffee mug (has to be microwaveable)

She asked me of the selection she had, what mix I wanted to try and I was really curious about the lemon so we tried it out with the angel food mix. She took both mixtures of their boxes and put them into a big or medium size bowl. We tried to mix them together with a wooden spoon but it didn’t work out well for me so we switched to a whisk. When I first went to stir it, I swooshed the powder right out of the bowl and onto the floor and the lower half of my body!

After a good stir, my nana grabbed us some coffee mugs, both are mostly used for soups. For this, you need to take out three tablespoons of dry mixture. She did the first one, but I did the last two, I even leveled it off with my right foot! There’s not many times where both feet work together on something! Anyways, next you put in two tablespoons of water and stir it until the lumps are out. Lastly put it in your microwave for one minute and when it’s done you let it cool like a regular cake and put on frosting, fruit or whipped cream to finish it off! Personally, I don’t necessarily like any frosting, much less whipped cream! Yuck! So I just ate my little serving as it was and it was pretty good without anything on it.

The flavor is very subtle compared to the actual smell when we first opened up the bags. It’s very sponge-y, thanks to the angel food. Since we only used a small bit of our mix, we had to have a good place to store this rest. This is where my nana’s second idea comes into play! We poured the mix into a measuring cup since we figured it would be easier to put it into the jars, nope! We still made a mess! This time it was nana’s turn! We each got our own jar full of lemon/angel cake mix ready for a midnight snack!

I think my nana wants to do the chocolate one next! Third will be confetti! Yay!

Have you ever tried the microwaveable cakes before? What is your favorite?

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snowflake

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