Saturday, July 22, 2017

Recipe: [Fancy] Homemade Hot Chocolate

Hello, Cooks!

Today, we are making homemade, absolutely fabulous, hot chocolate. (Disclaimer: This is not powder.)

Again, obviously not one I made.
The recipe is from:

  • 600ml milk 
  • 142ml pot double cream
  • 100g chopped chocolate
Pour the milk, double cream and chopped chocolate into a pan. Bring gently to the boil, whisking until smooth. Serve in individual cups or mugs topped with mini marshmallows and a little grated chocolate.

The recipe says it makes four cups, and nutrition information is on the website.

I wish I had time to actually make these more often.

Now here's the fun part: You can add whatever other spices you want. You can add cinnamon, vanilla, maple, peppermint (or just get peppermint candies and let them dissolve in the hot chocolate), chili spices, cardamom. . . whatever you want. However, add a tiny amount, taste it, then add more. Spices are a lot stronger than you think.

Also, you can use different types of chocolate for a wider variety.

What's your favorite spice?

Spruce Nogard

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Creative Complex: Flowers

Hello, Friends!

This is a guessing game. Which flower goes with which story? (Okay, so sometimes I get bored of just making you do something to do with writing.)

A) Rose
B) Golden Flower
C) Flower

Here are your hints:
  • One is from a fairy tale twist. (But does not appear in the original story.)
  • One you should know right away.
  • Two are from princess stories.
  • One has been transformed into a flower.
  • The previously mentioned one is found in Grimm's fairy tales.
What's your guess? Post in the comments!

Spruce Nogard

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dragons: Dragons Through Cultures: Asian

Hello, Friends!

Today, we are continuing our Dragons Through Cultures series. Last month, we talked about European dragons, which were generally seen as evil. They blew fire, had wings, and had a reputation for killing knights.

However, Asian dragons were completely different. Asian dragons are wise, benevolent creatures. They brought rain to water crops and manipulated the seasons, and were a symbol of spring. Asian dragons are also seen as religious figures sometimes, and once upon a time in Japan during droughts, Buddhist monks would practice religious rites to try to convince the dragon to bring rain. Also, the new year in China is celebrated with a festival, in which dragons take part.

Asian dragons can fly, but do not have wings, and look very different than European dragons. Like European dragons, however, they are still being used in literature today.

What do like about Asian dragons? Was there anything you found unexpected? Post in the comments!

Spruce Nogard

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Gardening: Soil

Good Day, Gardeners!

Today, we will be talking about soil. Why talk about such a boring topic? First of all, it's not boring. It's interesting. Second of all, because this is useful and important information.

Now, I have four main cautionary points to talk about.

1) Beware! Non-organic Fertilizers
Although you may not know it, a lot of soils actually contain artificial fertilizers, which are not good. I shall have to have a whole post about fertilizer sometime. Anyways, fertilizers often give plants a boost, but using chemicals. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't prefer eating chemicals with my food, especially when studies have shown they have less-than-desired side effects.

2) The Shocking Truth: The Diet of Vegetables
Not all soil is okay for vegetables to grow in, because soil used for flowers sometimes contains chemicals that are even worse for humans to eat. As long as you know the soil in your backyard hasn't been used as a toxic waste dump or anything, you should be fine. This is more for buying bags of soil at the store. Be sure to check the back!

3) Danger Ahead! Direct Contact with Soil
At the store, some bags of soil, although fine to grow vegetables in, have tons of warnings about how to always wear gloves when coming into contact with the soil, and always wash your hands afterwards, and never touch your face. . . If you have pets or children, then you should probably be wary of this type of soil. Also, when you think about it, if a vegetable ends up resting on the dirt, is it okay to eat it, even though you rinsed it? I mean, you were supposed to wash your hands whenever you touched the soil. . . However, I have found bags of soil that are certified and promise they are "clean." This means the organic fertilizers they use are safe to touch, and safe for children and pets to be around. (You can use the less expensive soil, you just have to be careful.)

4) A Word of Warning: The Relationship Between Tomatoes and Manure
In short, tomatoes grow really giant and huge in manure, which is great, until you realize none of your tomatoes are turning red. So, don't grow tomatoes in manure. :)

So, here's our (somewhat devious) gardening post for today!
Spruce Nogard

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Creative Complex: Idiomas

Hola, Amigos!

Today, we are going to explore different languages. First, pick a word. I'm going to pick bird.

Then, pick a few languages. They can be real or made up. I'm going to do Spanish, Elvish, Irish Gaelic, Russian, and Romanian.
Next, translate the work into each of the languages.

English: Bird
Spanish: Pareja (pronounced "pah-ray-ha")
Elvish: Aew (sorry, can't find a pronunciation)
Irish Gaelic: éan (pronounced "ain"-rhymes with "rain")
Russian: птица (pronounced "ptitsa")
Romanian: pasăre (pronounced "PAS-ah-ray")

What sounds the most smooth? Rough? Air-y? Flow-y? Why? How is this useful in writing, or even real life?

Spruce Nogard

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Reviews: Woodwalker

Hello, Creatures!

Okay, so today was supposed to be the review of The Last of August, and although the review is written, I have to consult with someone to make sure I'm not being too harsh. I mean, I don't want to make anyone who liked the book feel awful. So, instead, I am reviewing Woodwalker, by Emily B. Martin. By the way, sorry this post is up late.

Woodwalker is about a former Woodwalker, Mae, who has been exiled from her home. In the
Silverwood, Woodwalkers are the highest level of the Wood Guard (or Forest Guard? I can't remember.). When Mae suddenly comes across the monarchs of Lumen Lake, who were deposed when their country was annexed, she is offered wealth for one task: Get the royal siblings through the Silverwood. Risking execution, Mae, filled with longing for her home, accepts.

This book was a four star book. I loved it!


I really enjoyed Mae's love of the Silverwood. I loved learning about the different plants and animals. I also loved the whole theme of the Light, and Mae's vigor in protecting it. I appreciated Mona's questioning, which made perfect sense, especially in her circumstances. The world Woodwalker takes place in is a wonderful world, one I wouldn't mind living in, and while each country is uniquely different, they all share the same wonder and base, the Light. I also loved the ending. I wish I could say more about the ending, but I really can't.


This book has a slower beginning, and lots of traveling in the woods. I didn't mind this at all, but in a day and age where people are being conditioned more and more to see/read fast-paced movies/books all the time, I thought I'd better warn you. Also, Mae and the royal siblings fight quite a bit throughout the first main chunk, and I finally had to skip to the ending to make sure they got along eventually, because I so wanted them to. :) Then I proceeded to read the rest of the book. :)

I loved this book overall, and I loved the dynamic characters. I liked how they were all different, and all had unique perspectives. I also liked the pearl-diving and forest-protecting. I loved the Wood Guard's job, and I wish we could do the same thing in real life for all wildlife.

Have you read this book? What do you like about it?

Spruce Nogard

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Fairy Tales: Tropes

Hello, Magical Beings!

I know we've talked about archetypes before, but today we're going to talk about tropes. I've written a few posts about archetypes:

Mental Library: Archetypal Hero Journey

Mental Library: Critical Lenses: Archetypal Lens

Mental Library: Archetypes

These might help you understand tropes a little better.

Tropes are like archetypes, but smaller. This means they only exist in a certain culture's fairy tales, or they are not common enough to be archetypes.

*Disclaimer: I have not studied these matters thoroughly. This information is based solely on what I have read and observed from reading fairy tales.

Some of these include:  

-The three dresses, each more beautiful than the last
These are sometimes described as one being as beautiful as the moon, another being as beautiful as the sun, and the last being as beautiful as the stars. Anyways, girls keep showing up wearing these three dresses, mostly throughout Grimm's fairy tales. (The dresses would be much more beautiful than this one, and ball gowns, but I was having trouble finding pictures.)

-Witches who live in huts with bird feet
This is mostly Baba Yaga in Russian fairy tales.
Now imagine bird feet on the bottom.
-Iron shoes
These have appeared in multiple cultures. The wearer usually has to walk until they've worn out all three pairs before they can find what they are trying to find.

-Disobedient wives who suffer as a result
If you've read the post about "The Robber Bridegroom," "Fitcher's Bird," "Bluebeard," and "Mr. Fox," you know what I'm talking about. These wives appear in multiple collections of fairy tales.

What tropes have you noticed in fairy tales?

Spruce Nogard