Since several starts wore Chinese-inspired gowns at the Met gala this year, you are probably already aware that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a Chinese fashion exhibit. The exhibit is called China: Through the Looking Glass and it is amazing. The exhibit takes place on several floors in the museum and is a work of art in and of itself. I highly recommend visiting if you get a chance!
This gown was made with gold embroidery! It is truly spectacular.
After living in the area for over 2 years, my boyfriend and I finally visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It was crazy busy due to some festival but we were able to get some nice pictures regardless. Summer is almost here!
My awesome sister graduated from FSU last weekend so I went down to Florida and we celebrated in style - at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! It was a blast and it inspired me to try a Harry Potter-insired recipe. We, off course, had butter beer (frozen and regular kind) so I though these Butterbeer Cupcakes by Amy Bites would be fun to try.
So we went to both parks in Universal AND Islands of Adventure and they were both AWESOME:
My first Butterbeer:
And now for the cupcakes:
They turned out great! I did do a little bit less vanilla because I was using pure vanilla, not imitation and I had a good amount of ganache at the end left over but they were delicious!
The directions help with the order in which to mix the ingredients:
I may have had some bites of the batter before filling the forms.
I forgot to take a picture of the frosting ingredients but I did take pictures after. As suggested by Amy in the recipe, I eded up adding a little over a tablespoon of heavy cream to make the consistency of the frosting smooth:
I made a mess filling the cupcakes with the ganache. I probably should have let it cool down more before using it. Oh well, it still tasted good.
Now frost them up!
I decided to add some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans because I had bought them while we were in Hogsmeade and I thought it would be fun. I have so far been too chicken to try the mystery flavors. I'm working up to it.
Voila! Amazing Butterbeer Cupcakes! They really do taste like Butterbeer!
Week 1 (April 6th - April 12th)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Synopsis: Serving as the stage of a mysterious magical competition, the Circus of Dreams is home to wonders and splendor that captivates all who come across it. As a little girl, Celia is marked and bound to compete against another in the competition to test magical skills by a deal struck between her father, Propsero the Enchanter, and his nemesis, Mr. A.H. As both competitors grow up and the competition begins, mysterious circumstances start to take place.
Opinion: Being a sucker for sci-fi - especially sic-fi that includes magic - this book easily captivated and intrigued me. I liked the sense of mystery that was maintained throughout the story and the vivid imagery that instantly transported me. The world created felt very unique and magical with fantastical characters and events that really gave justice to the phrase "Circus of Dreams" and I had trouble putting the book down while I was at work. In short, it was wonderful and I loved it.
4.5 out of 5 hearts
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Synopsis: English schoolboys at pre-adolescent age get started on an island after their plane crashes and have to figure out how to survive and function in the absence of adults and civilization.
Opinion: This is the most misleading title I have ever come across. I had avoided reading this book because it just sounds gross and creepy crawly and not like something that would be interesting to read about. Since this is such a famous book and I kept seeing references to it, I felt it was high time to read it. A title like 'The Island' or 'Assembly' or 'Savages' would at least have more to do with the premise of the story than a reference to one boy's hazy thoughts. Basically, the story is not about flies. I actually liked this book much more than I had anticipated. It was an interesting and thought-provoking look at human nature and I enjoyed reading the journey of these boys all alone on an island.
3.5 out of 5 hearts
Week 2 (April 13th - April 19th)
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Synopsis: Growing up poor and losing her mother as a child, it was Maisie's aptitude and desire for learning that allowed her to rise above her station and become a private investigator. On her very first case, Maisie Dobbs comes across the case which involves a soldier who was severely wounded during World War I and after dying in a home for wooded soldiers, left nothing but his first name on his tombstone. Having served as a nurse in the war, Maisie has seen the physical and emotional tolls of war. Maisie investigates the man's past, her own past catches up with her.
Opinion: This was a touching and poignant story that I enjoyed reading. There was no crazy excitement but it was an easy and cathartic read.
3.5 out of 5 hearts
Week 3 (April 20th - 26th)
The Bielksi Brothers: The true Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forrest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Synopsis - the byline of the title, 'the story of three men who started a village in the forrest and saved 1200 Jews' really sums it up perfectly. History itself gives it context and it's true story to boot.
Opinion - Absolutely unbelievable and incredible. An amazing story about a family who found a way to escape a cruel death by the Nazis and then tried to help other do the same by forming a community in the forests of Belarus and waging guerrilla warfare. While free from direct German cruelty that was being suffered int he Jewish ghettos, life as Partisans had its share of difficulties and the brothers faced many challenges. I thought it was astonishing to read about what was accomplished by the brothers and what issues they had to deal with. While we all know millions of innocent people were mercilessly murdered during this time, it was still shocking to read about war crimes witnessed by the brothers. To think human beings are capable of such acts of inhumanity is alarming and devastating. All in all, I though the book was incredibly fascinating and captivating and I think everyone in the world should read it. No joke.
5 out of 5 hearts
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Synopsis - Upon leaving India after a cholera outbreak, 10-year-old Francis is sent to go live with her mysterious uncle in Yorkshire, England. Here she learns rumors about a garden that no one has entered in the past decade after a tragedy made her uncle lock the garden and burry the key. As Francis is left largely by herself with no servants to look after her and tend to her every whim as they did in India, she is forced to become her own entertainment and quickly begins to spend most of her time outside. Here she begins her journey to uncovering the secrets of Misselthwaite Manor.
Opinion- I thought this story was lovely. There were many surprise elements that I enjoyed and even though there technically is no magic -- and I know this sounds super cheesy but I don't care -- it felt kind of magical. This was one of the sweetest stories I've ever read without being, or feeling like, a children's story.
4 out of 5 hearts
Week 4 (April 27th - May 3rd)
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Synopsis - Following the death of the man who commissioned the building of the house of seven gables after getting possession of the deed through questionable means, tragedy haunts the generations of the Pyncheon family who live in the house. After a beautiful young niece of the current occupants come to visit, a change is seen in the mood that surrounds the house.
Opinion - I have no idea why this book is a classic. In my opinion, this story would have been great as an Edgar-Allen-Poe-Like short story but it was incredibly dull as an entire novel. There was so much minute irrelevant detail that was tedious to get through. Most of the novel is also written in ridiculous run-on sentences that contain several thoughts. This probably just has to do with the style of the 1850s but I personally did not appreciate it because by the time I got through the rambling between the sentence, I almost forgot how it started so had to look back before finishing the sentence. This would be a good book to read in preparation for a GRE or other standardized test of the sort because it had a lot of world that I had never heard of. Shout out to Google for helping me out on that account. Basically, this is a tedious book that was not good reading for fun. It was not fun.
1 out of 5 hearts
About the Author
Born and raised in the Netherlands, I now work as a designer in NYC. I love trying new things, candy and the color orange. In this blog, I will post about things I've learned and things I love. Veel plezier!