Rebecca Reviewed It: Feb. LitJoy’s Young Adult Book Box Subscription

Journey to Belong is the February theme of LitJoy’s Young Adult Book Box subscription. I admit I am well over the age of “young adult”. But I love these subscription boxes from LitJoy.  I currently subscribe to the young adult and the magical subscription boxes. In my young adult quarterly book box subscription, I receive the full crate items. I get the book, related theme items, and usually the add-ons.

Here’s a first peek at the contents of the Journey to Belong subscription crate. If you have not received yours yet, do not go any further. Major spoilers ahead!

I love opening these boxes. The subscription boxes are my treat. I have recently subscribed to a couple more from different companies. I will share my thoughts on those as they arrive.

Contents Included in the Journey to Belong box.

Are you ready?

New York Institutes Photo Strip

Who doesn’t love photo booth images? I remember squeezing into booths with my friends just to make silly faces before the camera snapped the photo. These photos are from our favorites in the Shadowhunters series.

Rapunzel Spoon Rest

This a cute little spoon rest. Currently, the item is not in the kitchen but on my shelf.

Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers Lip Balm

If you have been following the storyline of the Bridgeton family, you already know about Lady Whistledown.

Stalking Jack the Ripper Manicure Set

I love the little manicure set.

His Dark Materials Candle

I am such a fan of candles. This one has glitter.

A Dark Shade of Magic Teacup and Saucer

Teacups and saucers are part of the young adult subscription boxes. I am becoming a big fan of these themed cups.

Here’s a better view of the saucer.

The Golden Flame

I cannot wait to read this book. One of my favorite items in these boxes is the books. If you are a fan of different books, I recommend joining the Lunacorns. When you are a member, you get the normal deals and exclusives like most groups. But you also get access to the Lunacorn group on Facebook.

The best part of the group is the book recommendations. There are so many books and series that are new to me. Without the group, I would not have expanded my reading to different authors.

Umbrella Academy Washi Tape

My penpals are going to love the Umbrella Academy-themed washi tape on their next letters.

The Add-Ons

The add-ons are additional purchases to the LitJoy Crate Young Adult Book Subscription boxes.

New York Institute Polaroid Enamel Pin

New York Institute Rosie Puzzle

The puzzles are fantastic. I am hoping to put them together to eventually hang on my wall.  The one from this box is officially licensed merchandise, created by @rosiethorns88. I love the artwork.

So did you get the box? I would like to know your opinions. My favorite item? Tough choice! But I think, the cup and saucer are my favorite. I am starting a new collection.

Rebecca Reviewed It: The Wizarding Trunk Other World Beast & Arithmancy Crate

I recently received my second crate from The Wizarding Trunk. The title of the crate was Other World Beast and Arithmancy. Here are my thoughts on the contents.

First Peek! Now, if you are still waiting on your trunk, stop here! There are spoilers ahead.

 

  1. Tree Lice: Pure Blood Apothecary created this wonderful Tree Lice potion bottle. I love the potion label. I could definitely vision this as part of a potion master’s supply cabinet.
  2. Today’s Lesson Pin: Sorry for the poor quality photo. The pin slides to one side to review the lesson of the day. I love the pin. But, I can honestly say I would never wear it. The Lesson Pin will be displayed with others that I cannot depart with yet will not wear.
  3. Magical Platypus Wooden Print: J.P. Misslecrow rendition is absolutely stunning.
  4. Leprechaun Gold: Who wouldn’t want some gold? But will this one disappear?
  5. Flesh-Eating Slug Repellent: The Flesh-Eating Slug Repellent’s potion bottle is my favorite item in the entire box. I admit I stared at this for a long time. I cannot wait to use the little green bottle in some upcoming photos.
  6. Negative Energy Reed Diffuser Oil: I am excited to use this Negative Energy Reed Diffuser Oil. The item came with reeds, which will soak up the oil to distribute a scent throughout my home.
  7. Other Worldly Beast Info-Grams: Twillings & Tattings did a fantastic job creating these two World Beast Info-Grams.
  8. Skeletal Horse Paperweight: I am not a paperweight user. But, I did like this skeletal horse paperweight. I plan to just display the paperweight on my shelf. Do you use a paperweight? Am I the only odd person who doesn’t?
  9. Arithmancy Study Guide & Information Sheet: Danny at Wizardry Workshop designed this wonderful guide and information sheet.
  10. Other Worldly Creature Book Cover: Love the foiling on this book cover, designed by Danny at Wizardry Workshop. Now, the cover fits the American edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  11. Antiqued 9 Sided Arithmancy Dice: The 9 sided arithmancy dice looks old with antique coloring. What mystery does the dice hold for you?
  12. Notebook for Other Worldly Creatures: The notebook is my second favorite in the box. I just love the design-perfect for photos or cosplay.

Will I get the next crate? As of right now, my membership is canceled. I do love the products. But my budget is a little tight. I want to have extra money for the upcoming holiday season.

Did you get this crate? What was your favorite?

National Pepper Pot Day

Honestly, I have never heard of the story or legend of the Pepper Pot, which I find difficult to believe since I am such a history buff.    The story goes on that on this day (December 29) in 1777, a soup which was spicy and warm was served to the Continental Army on the orders of George Washington.

The era was the time of the Revolutionary War; the Continental Army had set up camp Valley Forge during the winter.  The legend states that George Washington himself had asked the cook to serve up something special since the men had been enduring such harsh wintery conditions.  George Washington wanted a special meal that would not only keep the Army warm but would also help boost their morale.

Having experienced ice storms and frigid temperatures in the past in the mid-Michigan area, I can just imagine how cold these soldiers must have been as they camped out at Valley Forge.  Since the food and other supplies were limited in the area at the time, the Army’s chef used the resources that were on hand, which included pieces of tripe, small pieces of meat, and peppercorn.  The chef added these ingredients with others into a big pot; hence the Pepper Pot was born.  The Pepper Pot soup is also known as the Philadelphia Pepper Pot soup.  The spicy soup was an instant hit among the Army men.  Some even deemed the Pepper Pot, “the soup that won the war.”

I haven’t tried to make this soup yet.  I just don’t have all these ingredients on hand.  So, I will have to let you know in the future how the soup turned out. After researching, I found a recipe for Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup on About.com, here’s the recipe which was submitted by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone:

Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds beef honeycomb tripe

3 teaspoons salt

Water with 1 Tablespoon salt

3 Tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onions

1 whole onion, studded with 3 cloves

1 rib celery, sliced thin

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin

1 leek (about 1 cup), washed, sliced, including tender green part

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup of water

1 small meaty veal knuckle

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle Chile powder or cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf, broken in half

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups 1/2-inch-diced potatoes

1 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tablespoons water

1/3 cup butter for garnish

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Preparation:

Rinse tripe under cold water. Drain and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and rub into the tripe to clean the crevices. Rinse again to remove the salt.

Place tripe in a 3-quart saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches, with the tablespoon of salt stirred in. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Drain tripe and let cool. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, chopped onions, whole onion, celery, carrots, leeks, and bell pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables, cover, and reduce heat, simmer, occasionally stirring, until onions are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Add broth and water to the pot, along with the veal knuckle, tripe, garlic, Chile powder, bay leaf, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the veal knuckle and pick off the meat, cutting any large pieces down to bite-size. Discard the whole onion. Return the veal meat to the pot, along with potatoes, evaporated milk, and parsley. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Stir in cornstarch mixture and simmer 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thickened.

Swirl butter into the hot soup until melted and immediately ladle into bowls to serve. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Yield: 6 servings

Reference:

Filippone, P. (2013). Philadelphia pepper pot soup recipe. Retrieved

from: http://homecooking.about.com/od/soups/r/blss112.htm

Photo Credit: Pixgood.com

Personal Review: Geek Gear Wizardry Box

I do not write too many personal reviews. In my opinion, everyone has the right to decide if a product is right for you or not.  With that being said, I am a fan of subscription boxes. The monthly or bi-monthly crates are filled with various items. Depending on your personal tastes, a crate may contain beauty items, food from around the globe, movie memorabilia, and much more. The best aspect of these crates, you never know what is inside. The crates are a pleasant monthly surprise.

Today’s crate just made me smile from first glance to viewing the final product. So I just had to share my excitement with all of you.

 

First, sneak peek…I admit I opened this one slowly. I took pictures as I pulled out each item.

T-shirts are always part of these Wizardy Geek Gear boxes. I absolutely love getting a new t-shirt every month. Of course, my t-shirt collection is growing more than I could ever wear in a year. The August box contains an exclusive beasts t-shirt.

Love this shirt!

Other items in this box include:

Cornish Pixies Tea

I love loose tea. I was so happy when Geek Gear started putting teas in the monthly boxes.

Living in Michigan, I can never have too many socks. Michigan winters can get really cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new mug…

So exciting, this is my first Gringotts Mug. I cannot wait to add this to my collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bright new print…

Licensed and exclusive, the print will look great on my bedroom wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was so happy to see a wand in this month’s box. I love the Geek Gear wands. Each is uniquely made and durable.

The wand’s specifications.

I love the skeleton wand. Reminds me of my favorite holiday, Halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving the best for last, the signed owl art poster was my favorite in the August Wizardry Geek Gear Box. I just love this print. I am actually going to hang the poster in my living room.

So my overall review of the August Geek Gear Wizardry Box is 4-stars, my highest rating. I felt like my birthday or Christmas came early today.

Do you subscribe to any monthly crates? What is your favorite?

 

National Novel Writing Month: Inspiring Writing

Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? Do you want to encourage your children, teen or yourself to be a better writer? The best way to learn to write is simply to start writing. Every person has a story to tell. Encouragement to start your love affair with writing is within yourself.

Tips to Release your or your Child’s Inner Writer

1. Write 

Make time to write. The statement may seem simple. But reality can make finding writing time extremely difficult. Work, school and other commitments mean full schedules to take up your time to enjoy a creative outlet. Consider devoting at least 20 minutes a day to your writing. For your children, set up a time before the bedtime routine. The quiet reflective time can help your child or yourself relax after a long day.

2. Your Own Space 

For many inspiring writers, a dedicated writing space is necessary. A well-supplied desk can be an outlet for hours of writing. Other inspiriting writers can do their craft anywhere.

3. Writing Tools 

  • Journals: Journals are a great way to encourage writing in your children and yourself. Older children especially teens may find journal writing a great way to express emotions. Even younger children can tell stories for you to write down. Looking back on past entries, the best part of journal writing is the memories.
  • Notebooks: Spiral notebooks are an inexpensive resource. Encourage story writing even short entries may be a start to larger creative endeavors.
  • Pens and Pencils: Using different writing instruments can be a valuable part of the creative process. Often, writing longhand is inspirational to your creative process.
  • Gel Pens and Markers: Another creative instrument is colored gel pens and markers.
  • Storage Space: Create a storage area for your writing. A cabinet, bookshelf, or a storage bin are perfect ways to keep your writing or children’s writing in one place.

4. Outside Influences 

Exposing your children or yourself to new experiences creates inspiration. Depending on your personal interests and the age of your children, find appropriate local community events. Use the experience to write in journals or create short stories.

  • Poetry Night: Exposure to other people’s musings may inspire you to write.
  • Author Readings: Attending author oriented events allows you to connect with others in the field.
  • Open Mic: Poetry, readings, songs and other creative endeavors are generally part of an open mic night.
  • Library Events: Check with your local library for events. Many host story hours, reading clubs, children and teen events. Getting a library card
  • Field Trips: Schedule times to try something new. Go to a museum, art gallery, or other events outside of your regular routine.
  • Community Events: Networking in the community allows you to meet new people. Observing others in different social settings may result in the perfect character for your writing.

5. Write Others

Practicing writing does not have to be formal. Writing others the old fashion way or snail mail allows you to concentrate on the words. You can outline stories of your day. If you do not know who to write, consider:

  • Pen pals
  • Grandparents/Older Relatives
  • Nursing Home

6. Conferences, Seminars, and Writing Organizations

Formal education allows you to expand your skill set.

Writing is a great creative endeavor. Children can learn to test their imagination by storytelling. Teens can use writing as a tool to express emotions. Creativity inspired outlets have long-lasting benefits. From school to work, using your imagination may inspire unique ways to approach a problem or project. And, who knows maybe your writing will result in a published novel.

National Indian Pudding Day

Today, November 13, 2017,* is National Indian Pudding Day. Is your reaction the same as mine? What exactly is Indian Pudding? Or perhaps, you have heard of the old fashion recipe.  For myself, when I first read this, I had no clue what to expect from the recipe or even how to create the dessert.

So, like most things, I had to start with some research. The recipe is actually well known in the New England area. The history of the tasty dish goes back to the early 17th century. The dessert was mainly served during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Prior to making the new dessert, I searched for different recipes. For the people who know me well, they are fully aware I am not the best baker. I basically do not have the patience to bake. For the most part, I do know how to bake and cook. But my skills are not top notch in the kitchen department. We all weaknesses. Admittedly, I do enjoy canning and making homemade jam.

After reading the recipe, I knew I was in over my head. I never even heard of the term “temper the egg” before reading the instructions. So, I did what I normally do when I cannot understand a recipe: I called my mother. Of course, she came over to help me. (By the way tempering an egg means slowly adding the hot liquid to the egg mixture to bring the two different temperatures together).

Most of the recipes called for cornmeal, molasses, sugar, milk, and spices. So, my mom and I picked the one, we thought would be the simplest to try for the first time. The recipe was an older one, but the sugar amount was reduced. I did not want or need a lot of sugar in my dish.

The main ingredients for Indian Pudding plus flour and sugar.

The ingredients start by cooking on the stove top.

The mixture coming together.

The next step requires baking. As the Indian Pudding begins to bake, the wonderful smell filled the house.

Baking in the oven.

The final product was finished. I will admit the look of the pudding was not what I had expected.

The finished product straight out of the oven.

 

The wonderful smell matched the deliciousness of the Indian Pudding. The recipe suggests topping with vanilla ice cream or heavy whipped cream. Well, I used the store bought-brand but the final product was still “yummy” good. I am glad I was able to try something new. As an extra bonus, my mom was able to help share this blogging experience.

*Note: This blog was originally written on November 13, 2015, for my other site.

 

Creating Your Own Pet Rock

Are you old enough to remember the Pet Rock craze? Well, I am. When I was in grade school, I remember a classmate owning a Pet Rock. During Show and Tell, she explained all the different things the Pet Rock could do. For example, she fully believed the rock felt heavier during sleeping hours. Of course, I was skeptical. But my overactive imagination could relate the rock as a living creature.

Today, September 3, 2017, is Pet Rock Day. Originated in 1975 by Gary Dahl, the Pet Rock fad was an instant hit. Smooth stones were put in a pet carrier for the home for the Pet Rock. In fact, you still can buy Pet Rocks today at www.PetRock.com.

Celebrating Pet Rock Day

Today, you can either purchase a Pet Rock or craft one. Actually crafting the rock into different creatures may be a fun activity for the entire family.

Supplies You May Need:

  • Rocks (Gather some out your drive or purchase a bag at your local dollar store)
  • Paint
  • Googly eyes
  • features
  • Glue
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pom-poms
  • Glitter, if you are brave

The only limit to the type of craft supplies needed is your imagination.

Have fun creating your own type of rock creature. In fact, consider creating an entire rock family.

References:

Pet Rock. (2017). Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_Rock

Pet Rock. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.petrock.com/

Celebrating Harry Potter’s Birthday

I am a full believer in celebrating life. Small celebrations bring lasting memories. Every day our daily schedules and commitments keep us busy. Enjoying little moments is a necessity. For fans of the Harry Potter series, myself included, today, July 31st represents the fictional character, Harry Potter’s birthday. Along with Harry, J.K. Rowling celebrates her birthday today too.

In the book, Rubeus Hagrid provides Harry with a birthday cake on his 11th birthday. The simple scene from the Keeper of the Keys immediately ushers us into the magical world of Harry Potter. Why not incorporate his birthday into a family fun night? Or invite your friends for some magical fun.

  • Consider making a quick birthday cake as a special dessert treat.
  • Gather the family or friends around to watch the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
  • Make wands.
  • Eat chocolate frogs.
  • Create your own owl, cat, or toad.
  • Have special snacks or cook an entire meal based on the Wizarding World’s cuisine.
  • Make magical themed crafts.

    Melt pony beads on old pizza pans to create large Harry Potter inspired sun catchers.
  • Need a quieter activity, reread the Harry Potter series or listen to the audio versions.

In a couple weeks, school, homework, sports and enforced bedtime routines will be part of your already full schedule. Take a moment to enjoy the little things and celebrate “The Boy Who Lived”.

Reference:

Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury Children’s, 1997.

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