Cozy Book Club February Book: Americanah

Book Club

SORRY about the delay on the announcement of the next (February’s) book. I’ve been in the jungle in Colombia with the most terrible hotel internet. Putting up Monday’s post took-—I’m not even kidding-—a few hours to upload the photos to the blog. It was insane.

BUT now I’m at the airport in Medellín with 2018 internet speed and the time is now to share the next book.

The book I chose for this month is called Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book takes place in Nigeria, London and The United States. I felt like this would be a welcomed contrast to Shaker Heights, Ohio.

This book explores a few themes but mostly it seems to be a love story, between girl and boy, separated by an ocean and a post 9/11 America. It seems like a fascinating book that would also yield an interesting discussion.

The author, Adichie, has won numerous awards from the three books she’s published. The book also has a crazy amount of positive reviews everywhere so the risk of it being boring/bad/lame is VERY slim.

I loved January’s book and it seems like everyone did as well! I hope this book is the same. My hopes are high.

Are you gonna be reading along?!

We’ll be back here on March 15th with a discussion AND I’ll be sharing a recipe inspired by the book.


P.S. If you share it on the Instagram, tag your photo/Insta Story #cozybookclub 🙂

P.P.S. You can find it on Amazon as a soft cover, Kindle and in audible form.
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Mini Chocolate Sheet Cake for Two with Raspberry Frosting

Cakes, Chocolate, Holiday

I’m currently in a small mountain town in Colombia called Jardin. I’m sitting on a balcony at the hotel while it pours that damp, humid rain that is so lovely. It’s so beautiful, quaint and lush. I arrived Saturday night, after a very full day of travel. And yesterday morning I took a helicopter ride, which I was actually terrified of, to Jardín. The helicopter ride ended up being so smooth and chill, I realized about two minutes in, I had zero to worry about. ALSO, I cracked open the new book club book which I’m announcing tomorrow! YASSS.

I can’t wait to tell you more about my trip and the book BUT today we’re still in the depths of Valentine’s Day content. V-Day is Wednesday!

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Cozy Book Club: Little Fires Everywhere Discussion AND Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rice Krispy Treats

Book Club, Desserts

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

OOF! This book. I never wanted it to end.

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t read a ton. I’m not one of those voracious readers that eats up book after book. I devour movies and TV shows and essays and articles, but not books. So it felt really nice to be enthralled in a story. It’s also somewhat isolating? I’m not sure if that’s the right word but I dig that it’s not a shared experience. You can walk around and replay the scene you just read, think about the characters and it feels like yours.

Let’s start by talking about the characters.

The Characters

Mia Warren – Mother of Pearl, artist, photographer, mentor to Izzy, comforter to Lexie, nemesis to Elena. I love Mia’s character. She’s a fascinating person. And while she makes decisions that are hard to agree with, I understand them.

Pearl Warren – Daughter of Mia, thoughtful and reserved. Exhausted from the instability of their nomadic lifestyle, she admires Elena Richardson because she is all that she craves: stable and structured.

Elena Richardson – Mother of four, part-time journalist and wife to successful lawyer Mr. Richardson. Most importantly, she’s the landlord to Mia, which is how the two characters intersect.

Shaker Heights – The town itself is also a character. Idyllic, quaint and tight-knit. It is the backdrop of the ensemble piece that is Little Fires Everywhere.

Let’s start the discussion part:

1. Who was your favorite character?

My answer: For me the answer is easy: Mia Warren. My favorite thing about this story is that there are zero villains. Yes, Elena is technically the antagonist but I empathize with Elena a lot. I understand her need and desire for structure and adhering to societies’ rules. I respect her it. But obviously, we all root for the person going against the current, the person who risks it all for what they think is the right thing to do. I feel most like Mia. Or maybe I want to be most like her.

2. Who did you relate to the most?

My answer: Hmm…I know this is sort of a cheap answer but I think I relate to all of them in completely different ways. But not one entirely. I relate to Elena’s need for following the path that was laid out for her. I understand Izzy for seeing the BS that is her mother. And I understand Lexie for not telling her mother. I also get why Pearl is almost allergic to her life at the moment but eventually understands.

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Red Velvet Heart-Surprise Cupcakes

Cakes, Desserts, Holiday, Winter

Hi hi hi!

These were so fun to put together. I failed…SO HARD the first time I made these. A few of you might’ve seen it on Instagram. But the first, first time I tried to make them was actually a few years ago.

I bought this heartbreak cookie cutter in hopes of making “heartbreak surprise cupcakes.” BUT OMG that did not work at all. Now I realize the biggest problem that I kept encountering was that the cookie cutter needed to be the perfect size.

I finally figured it out and went to Michael’s and picked up this heart-shaped cookie cutter that’s about 1-inch big. It was only, like, a dollar and I believe now it’s on serious sale because Valentine’s Day is next week and Michael’s is already moving onto Easter/4th of July and most likely Halloween. They move quickly!

I will be very forthright and say that this recipe takes a bit of time. You basically make a 8-inch red velvet single layer cake. After it bakes, you punch out the hearts.

This layer can easily be made the night before and you can wrap it tightly and keep it in the fridge.

And then the white batter is made. The hearts are placed right in the center of the cake batter.

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Strawberry Conversation Heart Cake

Cakes, Holiday

Not going to lie to you, this is way less exciting than the Kim Kardashian chocolate conversation hearts that all the famous people on Instagram have been smashing. I want one!

This cake is still really amazing. It’s strawberry because we all know that conversation hearts are really gross. I bought a variety bag for this shoot (to use as props) and ate a few and omg they were so terrible!!

It reaffirmed my decision to make the cake a yummy strawberry cake. Remember when I made this strawberry sheet cake? It’s that recipe and made it into a two-layer heart cake. I topped it with strawberry frosting and a little message of LET’S GET COZY!!

It took me exactly a whole lot of hours and curse words to be able to write LETS GET COZY in buttercream. I will say that I can use some buttercream-writing-practice.

I was very close to taking it to the nearest grocery store where I was gonna plead with the woman who works at the bakery to write it for me. But then I thought, NO! This is a learning experience.

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Crispy Sweet Potato with Green Shakshouka

Breakfast, Healthy, Quick and Easy, Whole 30

One of the most frequent questions that I get, (besides people asking what Amelia is doing lol), is: “what should I register for?” I think registering is a very opportune time to get all of those kitchen-musts all at once. How great!

An item that I think is a great addition to your list is an air fryer/toaster oven combo. Admittedly, I didn’t really know how to use an air fryer, but now I find myself using it all the time!

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Charred Corn and Poblano Pepper Queso Fundido

Appetizers, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

It’s FRI-YAY! I’m currently preparing to go to Colombia. I’m sort of in shock that I travel in a little over a week to a place that I’ve longed to go to for a long time. I can’t wait to see the little towns and colorful doors and eat arepas.

Truth is, most of my family doesn’t even live there anymore. Everyone left in the late 70s and 80s due to the immense violence and political unrest. Most of my family actually went to Brazil, where now lives an entire new generation of Brazilians. Some don’t even speak Spanish anymore. It’s amazing.

I can’t wait to share more with you soon. BUT FIRST, game day foods! I whipped up this queso fundido because I want to eat nothing more while people yell at the television and I look at my phone and gossip with my friends.

I chose to use corn—which I realize might not be in season for you (and that’s ok because frozen is good, too!)—because we actually had some at the market.

This couldn’t be more easy but it starts with my favorite step and that’s charring the corn and poblano pepper.

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Blood Orange Pound Cake

Cakes, Desserts, Winter

I posted this recipe on the Instagram yesterday but figured I’d put it right here too so it’s easily printable and readable.

I also wanted to say hello and tell you that I’m currently knee-deep in finalizing my Valentine’s Day content for this year and am INCREDIBLY excited about it all. There is a sheet cake for two, some cupcakes with a fun surprise inside and a few other cute and delicious things. I’m thinking of adding something savory in the mix. But then I’m done! I can’t wait.

When I walk around the neighborhood, I’m sort of surprised that a lot of the houses are decorated for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never seen such a thing before. I dunno if these people are bored or just really good homemakers. WHO KNOWS. But I’m here for it. They have heart wreaths hanging on their doors.

Another thing that is thriving in the neighborhood is all the winter citrus hanging from the trees. It’s all gorgeous. Everything from blood oranges to cara caras to little kumquat bushes. They’re all so pretty.

I didn’t steal these blood oranges from a neighbor—I bought them—but feel free to take some from a neighbor and make this cake! I said it’s ok!

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10 Cozy Things to Make in February

Cakes, Winter

I’m concentrating on two things right now:

1. Get the kitchen (FINALLY!) in photo-ready shape to get her final school photo taken for this blog. I’m almost done! I purchased a whole lot of new and pretty things from the Urban Outfitters home sale last month and now I’m rearranging everything trying to make it nice.

2. And I’m currently trying to watch all of the Best Picture Oscar nominations before the award show in early March. This weekend was spent convincing everyone around me that I, Tonya was a movie that is important and we should go and see. And you know what?! It did not disappoint. I’m going and seeing Phantom Thread tonight and I will report back! Paul Thomas Anderson’s interview on Fresh Air was wonderful.

February is inching closer and closer to us, after a very long January. It wasn’t a bad start of the year and I finally feel ready to dive in a bit more.

I figured I’d start by sharing some thing that you should make and eat in the month of February.

February is inching closer and closer to us, after a very long January. It wasn’t a bad start of the year and I finally feel ready to dive in a bit more.

Veggie Baked Ziti with Burrata (for two!) – Because Valentine’s Day is in February. And regardless of your relationship/love situation, these are so good. The melty burrata on top is a beautiful addition.

Baked Nashville Hot Chicken – This is one of my favorite dishes EVER because it’s like Shake n’ Bake Chicken but spicy. If you love Nashville Hot Chicken, you’ll love this. And of course, since it’s baked, it’s so much easier; no fryer and no hot oil.

Bacon Western Cheeseburger Sliders – There’s this football game everyone loves to watch happening soon (this weekend!) and these would be a wonderful thing to make. They’re sliders so they’re mini-sized.

How to Make an Edible Stadium – A few years ago, I got inspired by Reddit (again) and set out to make an edible stadium just for fun. It involved lots of arts and crafts and piping with sour cream. I loved it!

Heartbreak Cookies – More Valentine’s Day content. I loved making these chocolate sugar cookies for the population of singles. I’ve been single and happy and I’ve been single and miserable. I wish I had these cookies in both instances.

Breakfast Tacos – It’s hard to explain why I love breakfast tacos. I mean, there’s not much I need to explain, right? I love these breakfast tostadas because I love eggs and chips and this combines my love for both.

Breakfast Corn Dogs – Instead of regular hot dogs inside, these have breakfast sausages and they are SO good. Eat them with maple syrup and a little butter. Breakfast indulgence.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – I know I posted these last week but WHATEVER. I love these cookies and I feel like we should all make them. In the month of February, the weather can still be crappy and people are sick of it. Eating cookies helps.

Rose Chocolate Cake for Two – Easiest chocolate cake ever. And it’s made that much better with chocolate fudge-y frosting on top. A little salt makes it ultra good!

Aguadito – Everyone and their mom is sick. I’ve been trying to avoid all the sick people but it’s super difficult. Instead, I’ve been making this soup because it’s perfect when you need a bit of healthy chicken soup in your life.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate, Cookies, Quick and Easy

One of the biggest let downs in life might be the moment when you grab an oatmeal cookie–thinking it’s chocolate chip–to only realize it’s actually an oatmeal RAISIN cookie.

I don’t hate raisins. I used to tho because I remember my mom would put those tiny boxes of California raisins in my lunchbox and every time I opened up my lunchbox and would see it, I would let out a dramatic and admittedly-bratty UGHHHH.

So, yeah, I don’t adore raisins. I won’t go out of my way to eat them and oatmeal cookies taste a million times better with dark chocolate chunks than raisins. Sorry, raisins.

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