New Design!

booksbakingandbloggingIf you’re reading this on my blog, and not in some fancy reader you must have already noticed: Books Baking and Blogging has a new layout!

I’ve been wanting to change things up for a while now, but always postponed actually doing it. Re-doing your entire layout is quite the job and takes a lot of preparation. I wanted it to be (mostly) right in one go, so I had to make up my mind before implementing all the changes. That was the difficult part, really… Making decisions is harrrd, man.

But when I found out earlier this week that in my old layout the “Older Posts” button had gone missing completely when looking through the categories, I decided it was time to finally do it!

So, I spent most of today working on this layout, and especially the header. I’m pretty proud of it, if I do say so myself! I think the new look fits me and the feel of my blog way better, so I’m quite content.

Of course, I’m curious to hear what you think!

Some minor things might still change throughout the next couple of days (or weeks…). For instance, I’m not sure yet if I’m happy with my current social media icons, and I’ve been wanting to add a complete list of both my book reviews and my recipes for aaages, so now seems a pretty good time to do that, too.

I’m also thinking about adding some kind of rating system to my book reviews, so the structure of those might change a little in the future as well.

Sooo, what do you guys think? Any tips or suggestions? They’re more than welcome!

Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

When I saw this week’s topic the first thing I thought was “oh, don’t get me started!”. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only book blogger out there thinking that! My TBR list is huge (I don’t have a physical list, but the one in my head is humongous) and most of the books I want to read are still out there waiting for me to buy them. So finding ten books to put on this list wasn’t very hard. It was a lot of fun to do though!

toptentuesdayaugust26

1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I’ve read so many good things about this book, although I still don’t know what it’s about. Definitely want to read this one!

2. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

I loved the first book in the Cormoran Strike series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and am planning on reading every book in this series. Should really go and buy this one…

3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell seems to be everywhere and I still haven’t read a single one of her novels… Time to change that!

4. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I read a few very good reviews about this novel (and author), and have gotten curious.

5. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

I’ve only just finished The Rosie Project (review to come) and absolutely adored it, so I need to read this one as well.

6. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

I’m just so curious when it comes to this book! Lauren Graham was amazing in Gilmore Girls, and I really want to know if she’s as good a writer as she is an actress.

7. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Again, I’ve read so many good things about this novel and about Gayle Forman in general.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

What with Isla and the Happily Ever After just being out my bloglovin’ feed is overflowing with posts about Anna, Lola and Isla. I want to know what all the fuss is about!

9. Every Day by David Levithan

The premise of this book just sounds really interesting, and (again) I’ve read some good reviews.

10. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

I’ve almost bought this one so many times, but for some reason always decided not to do it. Still want to read it though. I really loved Extremely Loud & Incredibly Closeand the few pages I’ve read of this novel had me interested.

So, that’s my top ten for this week! Any books that should’ve made my list? Let me know!

(Also, this is my 100th post on Books Baking and Blogging! Wow!)

The Food I Ate in Barcelona

While being on my holiday in Barcelona, I thought it would be fun to write a blogpost about all the food I ate in that magnificent city. I took pictures of every dish I had, and carefully noted down what I ate and where I ate it in my little notebook. Now, I’ve been back for almost a month and this post is still waiting to be written! Let’s finally do this!

day 1 masqmenosDay 1: We arrived in Barcelona at the end of the afternoon, and we still had very Dutch timing when it came to being hungry: at around half past six we started to walk past all the terraces on the lovely Rambla de Catalunya in search of food. It had such a nice atmosphere, with all the lime trees lining the street and all these nice terraces full of people. We eventually stopped at MasQMenos‘ terrace to have a bite to eat. While we definitely needed something to eat, we weren’t that hungry so we both went for a salad consisting of tuna, fresh tomato, onion and a little bit of dressing. That was all there was to it, and it was so tasty! It came at exactly the right moment as well: right then it felt like the most delicious thing I’d ever had! My mother also ordered gazpacho, which tasted really good as well. Definitely a positive first experience with food in Barcelona! Continue reading

100 Happy Days – Week 14 (and final days)

I haven’t been around here much in the past week because for some reason I felt like I really needed to take a little break. Especially after the emotional and personal post I wrote a week ago (on which I got a lot of positive response, thanks everyone!). But now I’m back again, and I hope to get back to my regular schedule soon. First on the list is wrapping up my 100 Happy Days challenge!

Today was the 100th day of my challenge! It’s kind of a weird feeling, being done and all, and I still haven’t decided if I want to continue posting these happy days photographs or not. It’s been a lot of fun, and certainly made me appreciate the little things of every day more, but it was also one extra thing to have to worry (or think) about each day. So I think I’m just going to let the 100th day be the final day, and see if I’ll miss it or not.

You can still follow me on Instagram, though.

Anyway, here are the last 10 days of the challenge! I hope you have enjoyed me sharing these happy moments for fourteen weeks. Tell me, would you like to see me continue this? I’d appreciate the feedback!

week 14 - 15

Day 91: Mmm, Mexican food!

Day 92: Joined literary student association Flanor today and got this book for free!

Day 93: Had a fun night out at Night of the Songs tonight! I’m covered in beer now, though, but that’s what showers are for.

Day 94: Friends who make the perfect mojito are the best. (love you, Lou!)

Day 95: Ben & Jerry’s is the best way to make me happy.

Day 96: I love the beach! Will be spending the weekend here on Texel with my dad.

Day 97: Still loving Texel! The beach is definitely my favourite place in the world.

Day 98: Texel was a lot of fun! It’s good to be able to sleep in my own bed again though.

Day 99: Spontaneous trip to the cinema with a friend! Saw a wonderful French film of which I’ve already forgotten the name.

Day 100: I love walking around markets! There’s always so much to see and smell and people are always friendly.

And that’s it! This challenge was so much fun to do. If you want to join in the fun as well, here’s the link to the website of the challenge!

Robin Williams and Mental Illness

I was going to write a fun and upbeat blogpost today about the food I had in Barcelona, but then I found out about Robin Williams’ death this morning, and that hit me quite hard. It’s not like I was a massive fan of his work or anything. I think he was an amazing actor and comedian, and really one of a kind, but that’s not why I’m so sad right now. At first I couldn’t really figure it out, but then I talked to my mother and we talked about how he suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. Just like a lot of people in my family. My mother then said: “People like that somehow always feel a bit like family.”

And that was exactly it. It hit close to home.

Not only did the death of this amazingly talented and heartwarming person shock me enormously, it also brought to the surface my own confrontations with depression, both direct and indirect. I’ve been afraid of having bipolar disorder since I was a young teenager and first learned about it and the effect this illness has had on my family. It hasn’t stopped me from living my life in any way, but every once in a while I have these days when I feel this surge of fear in my stomach. “What if I have it too?” Today is such a day. It frightens me to think about it, so I usually don’t, but I couldn’t ignore it today. I know firsthand what this illness (and mental illness in general) can do to people, and it makes me so sad to think we’ve lost another great person to it yesterday.

I’ve been crying on and off during the day, and at first that felt silly, since I didn’t know Mr Williams myself, but I realised it’s about much more than that. I cried for my family, I cried for all the people I know that are or have been battling with mental illness (and sadly I know a lot of them), and I cried for the many people out there who feel like they’re alone. There is still this huge stigma, and we desperately need to get rid of it.

You’re not alone. No one is. There was a time I felt like I was all alone, but I now know I’m not. There are so many people out there who are suffering from depression, but are too scared or embarrassed to put that lable on it, thinking people will judge them or won’t understand. It’s not about other people, though. Fuck them. It’s about you, and about you getting better. I realised this after a while, and made the decision to tell my parents I thought I might be sick and I felt I needed to talk to a psychologist. So I did. I told my parents — they were proud of me. Then I visited a psychologist, and it helped me. I feel more confident and better about myself than ever before. Yes, I still have my bad days, but so does everyone else.

This got a lot more personal than I thought it was going to be, but that’s okay. I’m not ashamed of my sadness or fears or anything else. Neither should anyone else be. Please get help if you think you need it. It helps. Honestly.

RIP Robin Williams.

robin-williams

100 Happy Days – Week 13

Wow, only ten days left to go! It’s going to be weird to not post a happy days picture every day anymore… Although I could just keep going of course, but I don’t think I will. This week had its ups and downs, but there were definitely some very happy moments!

week 13

Day 84: Really looking forward to starting this one tonight!

Day 85: Look at them gorgeous strawbs!

Day 86: Had a nice time with my friend Fooke today, just getting a quick drink together.

Day 87: Had a great time at my cousin’s birthday party but forgot to take a picture, oops! Now doing a bit of reading before bed.

Day 88: Pizza and tv shows and YouTube videos with my friend Yvonne! Good times!

Day 89: Mmm, risotto a la mama!

Day 90: Cards against humanity and wine!

Those were my happy days! How was your week?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

catcherintherye

Usually when writing book reviews, I give you guys the summary from the back of (my edition of) the book. That won’t really work for The Catcher in the Rye though, as the back of my edition is the same as the front. Quite empty. I went to look what Goodreads has to say about the novel, but didn’t find its description very suitable for this review. I think that’s because I went into this novel knowing very little about it, except that it’s a classic and it’s about a troubled teenage boy (Holden) who says “goddam” a lot. Knowing so little about it worked out very well for my reading experience, so I don’t want to give too much away for the few people who don’t know much about it yet but do want to read it.

So what am I going to talk about? Well, the usual: some ramblings about what I liked and/or disliked.

I did really like The Catcher in the Rye. I don’t think it’s a new favourite of mine, but I can definitely see why it is a classic and why so many people find this novel life-changing and amazing. It definitely gives you something to think about, although I can’t pinpoint what exactly are the features that are so thought provoking. It is just so honest and raw, while at the same time being told by a somewhat unreliable narrator. There’s something about that combination that hits a certain spot. While reading, I felt very sorry for Holden but was also quite annoyed with him at certain points during the story. In any case, I felt quite close to him as a narrator, as if he was telling his story to me personally, and I was concerned about what was going to happen to him. That’s the sign of a great novel, right there.

Then there’s also the fact that the writing style of this novel is just something else entirely, in a good way. As I said, the story is told through the eyes of Holden, and through the manner in which he relays everything that happened to him it’s just as if you’re listening to him speak. No fancy words, a lot of curse words and a very nonchalant and seemingly spontaneous way of telling/writing. Even though this novel was written over sixty years ago, it still feels relevant today. There’s no sign of the archaic language you find in many other classics, although the constant use of the word “old” without it referring to age made me chuckle quite a bit.

I’m not sure if this review was entirely coherent, but I decided to keep the just-say-what-you-feel kind of style of the novel in mind while writing, as it seemed fitting.

Anyway, it was good to finally read The Catcher in the Rye and I was thoroughly impressed by its one of a kind-ness. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d really recommend putting it on your to read list. You might not love it (or you might be passionate about it, who knows), but I feel it’s definitely a must-read for book lovers.

Barcelona in Four Days (and a lot of words)

A little over a week ago I got home from my trip to Barcelona, the city of Gaudí. I went together with my mother, and we had a wonderful time, so I figured I would write a nice blog post about it. I made about 400 photos while there, but narrowed it down to 21. Man, that was hard! Barcelona is such a beautiful city and it left me quite overwhelmed, to be honest. Everywhere you look there is something really pretty to see (and photograph), so I didn’t even knew where to begin to look. Anyway, let’s not start gushing right away, and take it day by day (wow, I should be a poet).

Day 1: Arrival and La Pedrera

0barcelonagaudi

On the roof of La Pedrera

We travelled by airplane, and arrived in Barcelona at the end of the afternoon. I’m not really fond of flying as I get quite nervous and stressed, but everything went smoothly, so we arived safe and sound! There was this very handy airport bus that dropped us off at Plaça Catalunya, which was quite close to our hotel, and we decided to walk that last bit. The heat made the walk with our big suitcase a bit of a chore, though, so I was quite cranky when we arrived. Seriously, I don’t do well in heat. Which was a nice foreboding for the rest of our stay…

Nah, I wasn’t that bad. Continue reading

100 Happy Days – Week 12

This week was very relaxed — I got back from Barcelona on Saturday and caught up on blog posts and had fun with friends for the rest of the week. It was was just very nice and laid back, just what I needed!

week 12

Day 77: Drinking tea, eating ice cream and catching up on blogs and vlogs!

Day 78: So nice to spend an entire day on my own again. Now having a nice salad for dinner and watching tv shows.

Day 79: Yay, bubbles! They turn me into a seven-year-old… :-)

Day 80: I finally have a fruit bowl! And it’s so pretty, I love it!

Day 81: Just made the most gorgeous little chocolate and banana cakes! They taste sooo good. (here’s the recipe)

Day 82: Beautiful day today! Just ate dinner outside, which doesn’t happen too often.

Day 83: Movie night with my friend Yvonne!

And that’s it for this week! How was yours?

Banana Chocolate Cake

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, or anything baking related for that matter. That’s because it’s actually been a while since I did some actual baking. There’s a logical explanation for that, though. It’s summer. Now, for most people that wouldn’t be a reason to stop baking — in fact, many people would find it a reason to bake more. However, we’ve had an unusually warm couple of weeks here in the Netherlands and I live on the top floor of a house with a flat roof. Quite frankly, it’s been way too hot to even consider turning my oven on. But these last couple of days have been much less warm, and ever since getting back from Barcelona (which I’ll post more on later) I have had te urge to bake again.

So, here I am with these delicious banana chocolate cakes! When my parents got back from France a few weeks ago, they brought a really cute silicone baking form with them for me as a gift. It’s one form for six little cakes, and I thought I’d try and bake something with it today. I immediately thought of the banana-chocolate combination, for some reason. That combination just never seems to fail, and maaan, are these mini-cakes good! Also, why is it that smaller things are always cute? These cakes are adorable!

P1010674

You’ll need…

- 200 g caster sugar

- 125 ml sunflower oil

- 2 eggsP1010668

- 250 g plain flour

- 2 teaspoons baking powder

- ½ teaspoon salt

- 2-3 bananas (about 300-350 g)

- 100 g dark chocolate

- 1 teaspoon vanilla flavouring

- a cake/loaf tin, or a pan for several smaller cakes (see picture)

- and an oven, of course! This cake needs to be baked at 180 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

So, let’s get baking!

1. Mash bananas and chop chocolate First off, just to get it out of the way, you have to mash the bananas in a (small) bowl until you’ve got a banana mush. It’s entirely up to you how mushy or lumpy you want your bananas to be, though. Also, chop the chocolate into smaller pieces (again, size is up to you) and add it to the banana mixture. Alternatively, you could also use chocolate chips instead of a plain ol’ chocolate bar.

2. Mix oil and sugar In a seperate (larger) bowl, whisk the sunflower oil and the caster sugar together until it’s evenly mixed. You could also just as well use butter instead of sunflower oil, but I prefer oil because it’s a bit healthier and I always have it at home, whereas I never have butter unless I have to bake something with it.

3. Add eggs, banana mixture and vanilla First, add the eggs to your oil and sugar mixture and whisk them through. Now, add the banana mixture and fold it through your batter. Also add the teaspoon of vanilla flavouring at this point.

4. Add flour, baking powder and salt The last thing you need to do before you pour you mixture into your baking pan is adding the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Fold it through your batter until everything is evenly mixed. Don’t overmix it, though, or your cake(s) will have trouble rising in the oven.

5. Pour batter in pan and bake! Now, pour your batter into your pan. If you don’t have the kind of form I used (which I completely understand, it’s an unusual form), you can just use a normal loaf tin, although it’ll take a bit longer to bake. You’ll have to grease a regular (non silicone) loaf tin before pouring in the batter, though. Once you’ve got your batter in some pan or other, put it in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes. A larger cake will probably take up to 40 or even 50 minutes, you’ll just have to pay attention and time that yourself. Another option might be using a muffin tin.

Once your cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a while before taking it out of the tin. I do recommend tasting it before it gets cold, though, because this cake tastes absolutely delicious while it’s still warm! Enjoy!

P1010679

P1010673

P1010677