Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings

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Recently I picked up The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars by Steven Brust. It’s one that’s probably been hanging out on my bookshelf for at least five years, waiting for me to dive into its pages. At just 210 pages, I don’t know why I’ve never read it. To-be-read-shelf-shock, I suppose.

I’ve always liked fairy tales, from the Disney movies to Shelly Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre. (THE BEST!) In college, Mr. V and I took our only class together (since otherwise he ONLY took Math, Science, and Computer Science courses): Children’s Literature. It was taught by one of my favorite professors and is a highlight of college for me. Not only was Mr. V in there, but also three of our other good friends. We sat in a corner and were perhaps a little bit of trouble. Oh, and four of us were English majors who didn’t need the class at all.

We read Little Women, Harry Potter, Where the Wild Things Are, The Snowy Day, and other wonderful children’s classics. A study on pictures in books using this Molly Bang book is really memorable, too. But I think my favorite section of the course was when we studied fairy tales. We looked at the originals: Perrault, Grimm, Andersen, Madame D’Aulnoy. Some of these tales are truly horrific compared to the mild, Disney-fied versions we see today. It was simply fascinating.

fairytaleretellings

I love reading fairy tale adaptations, too, and maybe someday I’ll actually write that children’s book from the viewpoint of the pumpkin in Cinderella. Here are some of my very favorite ones. (The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars does not fall into this category. It was OK, but not awesome.)

tamlinTam Lin by Pamela Dean – Maybe around the same time as that Children’s Lit class, my roommate Erin gave me a copy of Tam Lin to read. Now I don’t know the fairy tale of Tam Lin at all – and maybe the ending of the book would make better sense if I did. But the story of Janet, a bona fide English major nerd in college in the 70s, is a wonderful read, especially for any fellow bibliophiles. She and her friends are so smart they probably couldn’t exist, but I am sure those people are somewhere, right? The ending, again, is weird. But I think it ties in with the actual fairy tale.

The Lunar Chronicles Series – Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and (to come) Winter – I think I only gave this series a try because it was based on fairy tales; I am not a sci-fi reader. But the combination of a fun future setting, the fairy-tale elements, romance, adventure, and some brainy heroines makes this series killer. I didn’t love Fairest, but the other ones are phenomenal and I can’t wait to read Winter in November.

briarroseBriar Rose by Jane Yolen – I love that Jane Yolen writes stuff like How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and also this, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty set in the Holocaust. It’s been quite a few years since I read it, but I remember really loving the tale.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire – What would this list be without Wicked? Unlike the musical, Maguire’s book is heavily laced with Oz-ian politics and animal/Animal rights. It is long, dense, and fascinating. I’ve also read Maguire’s Mirror Mirror and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. They were good, but not great in my memory.

monstroudbeauty - EditedI guess Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama is kind of a Little Mermaid retelling. I’ll admit I know nothing about The Little Mermaid except the Disney movie. It is an amazing book with mermaids and other fantasy elements and I adored it (and read it in one sitting).

This site seems to have a pretty extensive list of fairy tale retellings, although I don’t agree with all the mini-reviews. It does make me feel like I am not the only person who loves these adaptations.

Do you have a favorite fairy tale or retelling?

Pistachio, Cashew, and Chocolate Toffee {Secret Recipe Club}

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Pistachio & Cashew Toffee

 

I am doing a quick fill-in for someone in Group D of Secret Recipe Club, so this is my second reveal for April. Fun! I got to explore the new-to-me blog Hapa-tite. Nicole is a (very gorgeous) twenty-something of mixed cultural heritage who loves and embraces her father’s Hawaiian culture. She lives in the DC area, and writes about a mix of recipes, bento box ideas, tea, and restaurant reviews. Nicole is also a graphic designer and has one of the most beautiful blogs I have seen!

I would love to try some of Nicole’s other recipes, like these Date Bars or Homemade Filet-o-Fish, but for today I decided to tackle Pistachio Dark Chocolate Toffee.

I’ve never actually made toffee, but this looked so delicious and I had a bag of pistachios, so it spoke to me. I didn’t realize toffee is really not that difficult to make; this whole process took me maybe half an hour. And I have a whole pan of toffee that looks like it could have come from Williams-Sonoma (without the $45 pricetag!).

This toffee would make a beautiful gift or just nice to have around for some good, teeth-sticking-together, toffee snacking.

Just a note that I used pistachios and cashews … entirely because I got tired of shelling the pistachios. So buy pre-shelled ones or don’t be as lazy as I am. I liked the cashews, but I think all pistachios would probably be best. Or you can throw whatever you want on top of this: dried cranberries, sprinkles, crushed candy cane, candied ginger … the possibilities are endless.

Pistachio, Cashew, and Chocolate Toffee

Pistachio, Cashew, and Chocolate Toffee

Adapted from Hapa-tite.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 ounces chocolate (chips or chopped) - I used about 2 oz. very dark chocolate and 6 oz. milk chocolate chips
  • 1 c. chopped nuts, preferably pistachios, or other toppings

Instructions

Have an ungreased 9x13 pan close by while you make the toffee.

In a heavy saucepan, heat butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk constantly until you feel like your arm will fall off and the mixture reaches 300F. It will be a medium golden brown color. When the mixture gets sort of melted-marshmallow consistency and comes away from the side of the pan as you whisk, you're getting close.

Immediately pour the toffee mixture into the 9x13 pan and spread out. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until it is about 75% melted. Then keep stirring until it's uniform. Spread gently over the toffee. Immediately top with chopped nuts or other toppings. Use the bottom of a glass measuring cup to gently press the toppings into the chocolate.

Cool in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes or at room temperature 2 hours, until the chocolate is all hardened. Break off pieces and serve. Store any extra in the fridge.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/04/pistachio-cashew-and-chocolate-toffee-secret-recipe-club/

An InLinkz Link-up


Favorites of the Week

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Just some quick links, cause somehow it got to be Sunday evening already!

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to make:

Reading offline: A TON. I guess this week I will post about what I read in April. I just zoomed through First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen, and started reading The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle.

What have you been up to this week? I can’t even begin to explain the giant, crying, bundle of emotions I have felt like lately. See: When You Think You Are Too Much. Wednesday I texted a friend and told her I just desperately needed to see someone over the age of 6 that day. I ended up going to a Bible study with her, and it was really a wonderful choice and a great experience.

5 Favorite Uses for Therapeutic Lavender Oil

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FDA Disclaimer:  The information, advice, statements, and testimonials made about the essential oils, blends, and products mentioned on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The information on this site and the products listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, nor are they intended to replace proper medical help. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any regimen with essential oils.

I have to make a confession: I don’t really like the scent of lavender. I never have. I’m just not into floral scents; I like things that smell like food. Vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, apples? Sign me up!

Even when using the essential oils, my favorite scents are ones reminiscent of food: the lime-vanilla scent of Stress Away, citruses like Lemon and Grapefruit, and the mints like Peppermint and Spearmint. It took me some time to get adjusted to the more floral Joy and even Frankincense, even though I love them now.

But although I find the scent of lavender to be a little off-putting, I can’t deny that it has become a favorite essential oil for me.

5 Favorite Uses for Lavender Oil

Tiffany and I did an event yesterday, and something she said struck me. It’s easy to go to Walgreens and get a headache medicine, an acid reflux medicine, or a sinus medicine. When you look at a couple bottles of essential oils, there’s nothing on them to tell you USE THIS ONE FOR HEADACHE. Partially that is because not every oil is going to work the same for every body. It’s some because there are many, many different oils you can use to relieve some of that headache discomfort, depending on the type of headache it is and just what you’ve found works for you. Oils can take some trial and error (safely!!) to see what brings relief to your certain issues.

But you also can’t go into the drugstore and buy a medicine that helps 14 different things. Which is why an essential oil can actually be an amazing money-saver as well as a natural, detoxifying way to help some issues.

Today I’m going to talk about my favorite uses for Lavender. I have often heard Lavender called the “Swiss-army knife” of oils – it just has a bunch of uses. When in doubt … try lavender! (Please keep in mind these are just my experiences and NOT medical advice!)

The Essential Oils Pocket Reference says lavender can be used for “respiratory infection, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, menstrual problems/PMS, skin conditions (perineal repair, acne, eczema, psoriasis, scarring, stretch marks), burns, hair loss, insomnia, and nervous tension.” Here is how I’ve used it personally.

  • First and foremost, SLEEP. I started my Young Living journey by diffusing lavender oil in Libbie’s room, because Kayla said it helped her daughter actually sleep through the night and sleep in later. Libbie still gets up before the crack of dawn, usually, but I believe the lavender helps her calm down and fall asleep much easier than she used to. I also use the Magic Sleeping Potion bath for myself when I am wound up and need to be able to go to sleep quickly. Here is what my friend, Blair, said about the Sleeping Potion: “I tried this last night and it was heavenly!! I was having trouble falling asleep and it was 3 am and I still wasn’t tired. So I made this and took a bath and it worked like a charm!!! Thank you for posting this!! I might just do this every night!”
  • Burning or raw skin. Rubbing a little lavender oil on a burn or on raw skin that feels like it’s on fire brings a wonderful cooling sensation and really helps. Try soaking a cotton ball and cooling it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes, too, and then putting on the ouchy area. Ahhhh!
  • Allergies. Lavender is an anti-inflammatory, so along with Lemon and Peppermint it can be a wonderful aid in relieving those seasonal allergies. I don’t know how they are where you are, but around here the pollen is NUUUUUTTTS right now. My David has bad allergies, so I diffuse this trio in his room about every three nights. It seems to help his congestion and cough tremendously. If you don’t want to use Peppermint around your kids, you can do Spearmint instead. I don’t feel like it’s quite as potent, but I love the scent and it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Sinus issues. This is probably my favorite use for Lavender, because I get awful sinus headaches. I don’t have a lot of runny nose/cough type allergic reactions, but mine present as painful sinus headaches behind my left eye. Before, nothing seemed to help except trying to sleep it off, which is hard to do when you’re working or the stay-at-home mother of small children. Now, if I wake up with one of these pounding headaches, I rub Lavender oil over the bridge of my nose and along my sinuses on the side that hurts – above the eyebrow and below the eye. Almost all the time, this is enough to ease the headache. If I let it get too bad, there’s no stopping it. But really, it has just been one time that I’ve eventually reached for some pain medicine (and still been in pain even with those, just giving in to sleeping it off).
  • Cramps. So this is my newest discovery. When I was having some lovely cycle-related pain last week, I read that Lavender could ease cramps. Huh?? Well, worth a try, right? I rubbed it on my abdomen and waited. And truly, it made a big difference in my pain level. My book tells me it is a relaxant, so maybe it just helps relax those muscles? I don’t know. I do know it helped me, and I was thrilled with that!

So those are my 5 current uses for Lavender oil. I’m sure I will keep discovering more as I keep learning and talking to other people about oils. And even with all that? I have only gone through about two-thirds of a 15ml bottle of Lavender since November.

Lavender is one of the easiest scents for companies to replicate. That is why it’s easy to get your hands on lavender oil that smells great and is cheap. But, as the Pocket Reference warns, “True lavender is often adulterated with hybrid lavender (lavandin), synthetic linalol and linalyl acetate, or synthetic fragrance chemicals like ethyl vanillin.” If you want to get the therapeutic benefits of Lavender, not just a good smell, you will have to get a high-quality, unadulterated oil. I stand behind Young Living because I have heard about their processes, know they inspect their products from Seed to Seal, and will not approve an oil that doesn’t have the highest therapeutic benefits.

So there you have it: why I love an essential oil I don’t even like the smell of. 

Related:

Favorites of the Week

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IMG_5619

Favorite picture: Libbie in her Bushbaby headband project for school.

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to make:

Reading offline: I recently abandoned Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward – just too graphic and icky for me. Last night I picked up When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson. I thought it might be just another so-so mothering memoir, but I am really enjoying it so far.

When You Think You Are Too Much

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In MOPS yesterday, we talked about the topic “Courage to Be Too Much.” Too much. Those are some loaded words for me. Upon hearing the topic, my first reaction was NO. Why would I want to be too much? 

But as our leader, Michelle, read the devotional from the book, I identified a little too much, tears running down my face. As the other girls listened politely, I tried to not shake with sobs.

Because, man, I feel like I am too much.

I’ve always felt not-normal. Now I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but when I was 12 and spontaneously burst into tears in choir class when I didn’t make All-County Chorus, I was beyond humiliated. I’ve always seemed to have more emotions than I can hold in one body.

I don’t have fears. I have things that bring on full-on panic when they cross my mind. When I feel joy, it is wonderful, and I remember those feelings a very long time. But I remember my lows, too. I remember pretty much every time I’ve ever said the wrong thing and hurt someone – on accident or not. I can find myself swimming in the guilt and shame of something that happened 15 or 20 years ago now.

Never a girl with lots of close friends, I’ve been thrilled to have one dear friend during every phase of my life. I’m too scared to unburden me on friends. Will they still love me if I truly expose the mess I am? If I cry way too early in our relationship? If I confess the depression journey and the foreclosure and the other reasons I carry around pain? What if she thinks I should feel more shame about these things I’ve become adjusted to and acquainted with?

Since I hit 30, I like to think I’ve become more accustomed to myself and more accepting of my own body, emotions, and life. I still feel like a mess. But I easily acknowledge that I am a mess and that most other people are, too. We just vary in our skill at hiding it; I have none.

And I’ve stopped trying to hide it at all. Nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable than trying to have a real conversation with someone whose life seems perfect. My tribe is women who will admit they struggle, they panic, they fear, they sometimes want to lock the door of the bathroom and eat a Snickers. We need truth. And we need each other.

There’s nothing worse than a world where you never hear, “Me too!”

There's nothing worse than a world where you never hear, "Me too!"

 

It takes courage to be OK with yourself. To be willing to be a “stranger and alien” in this world for your beliefs, or to accept your wild frizzy mess of hair and lack of style and say, I AM STILL A WONDERFUL PERSON. (And by your, I of course mean my.) It is brave to share your vulnerabilities with someone and face rejection. It is wise to let this happen gradually instead of with, say, the woman at the drive-thru window. But in order to hear, “me too,” you have to share some “me.”

Let’s go forth and be brave with our messy, lovely selves.