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Mosaic of entries for June Whip Up!

This month seven participants entered nine recipes for the Whip Up Something New! challenge. Two of those were potato recipes…

Raksha shared some spicy Baked Baby Potatoes from her kitchen that look absolutely yummy in their flower presentation. What a lucky coincidence I recently bought some amchur (mango powder)!

Uniflame reviewed mouthwatering Sweet Potato Fries from the Vegan Family Meals cookbook.

And since both these tater recipes are vegan, I certainly plan to put them on my dinner table!

Carol found the ‘thyme’ to cook up a Greek Sandwich that will probably end up in my lunch box someday — without the feta cheese of course, but with home-made hummus.

As always there were several sweet-tooths around. Joanna from It’s all about me made a Gluten-free Banana Bread to celebrate her part in Hello Dolly!, while Kristina baked another favorite: a red, white & blue Patriotic Pie — which closely resembles the Dutch flag!

Uniflame had 1 kilogram of cherries to use up in her White Chocolate & Cherry Muffins and Margot is harvesting the joys of her retirement with an abundance of raspberries from her garden, turning them into Raspberry Chocolate Scones. I have a raspberry plant on my balcony, but will never be able to grow enough berries for baked gooooods like this!

I did however submit two recipes this month too: an easy Savoury Summer Picnic Pie and Orange-Basil Tempeh from the same vegan cookbook Uniflame reviewed.

Now I don’t know if you remember but… We haz prizes! I promised to reward one of the vegan entries. Here’s the loot I put together!

June Whip Up Something New! challenge (Sur)Prize

I let Mr do his thing and the winner is… (drumroll):

Winner June Whip Up Something New! Challenge

Raksha! Please send me your address and the parcel will be on its way!

Since there were only two vegan entries this month (besides mine) I decided to offer Uniflame a consolation prize: something that’s on her wishlist… I’ll give her my gently read copy of Bento Box in the Heartland by Linda Furiya — if she can wait a little because I still have to write a short review for the Foodies Reading Challenge?!

Cover Bento Box in the Heartland, Linda Furiya

Before I finish there’s just one more thing I need to mention in this wrap-up post. I made a pledge. And I failed. I did not start organising my recipe cut outs and neither did I cook from them… It’s terrible, but there’s always next month! So hop over to Margot from Joyfully Retired and submit your JULY recipes in the Whip Up Something New! Challenge!

Whip Up Something New! button


Due to personal stuff (which I’m not going to bore you with) I didn’t read, blog or bento as much in 2010 as I would have liked to. Still, I’m happy with the things I did do! And hey, that just leaves room for improvement in 2011, right? ;)

I’m working on several blogposts about the books I read last year, movies I’ve seen, challenges I participated in and things planned for 2011. Thank God for Bloggiesta, a 3 day blog fixing event that’ll be held from January 21st – 23rd! :)

In anticipation of my challenge wrap-up post I can reveal that I did pretty good book-wise. I managed to read all the books I wanted to — and more. The reviewing part didn’t go as well though. :( I hope to make up for that in the next couple of months but I remember having said that last year, so don’t hold your breath… I do take requests by the way. ;)

Out with a bang<br /> readathon logoI was meant to go out with a BANG! readathonning the last few days, but I couldn’t fit it in my already busy schedule. So it was more of a deflating balloon LOL. BUT. I did read during the final hour of 2010 and that felt great! Might do it again this year. ;)

I ended up reading a meagre 52 pages (2 hours) in Caos calmo for my 3 day readathon.

Gnoe grazing in cyberspace

In 2010 I could be found on several other places in the bloggosphere.

Just to show you I haven’t been doing nothing ;)

April’s task for the 2010 Blog Improvement Project consisted of writing as many different styles of posts as possible. Preferably one post each of 14 appointed types… (the link will bring you to the complete list in the BIP website).

I took the challenge and managed to do 6 of these :\ Okay, plus one scheduled to be up in May. So you could say that I got halfway done! These are my entries for the challenge.

Short Post — less than 200 words

Gossip Grrl (198 words)

Climbing Mt. Murakami: bookshelf List Post

Climbing Mount Murakami (Murakami’s books; read & to read)

How-to Make a Japanese Switchback Cut How-To Post

How-to: Make a Japanese Switchback Cut (for your bento or buffet)

Hanami Bento 2010 (#97) Long Post — more than 700 words

Hanami Bento 2010 (900+ words)

Gnoe en route to France 1979 Personal Post

My First Favourite Book

My Sakura Collection Resource Post

My Sakura Collection (where to get treasures like these)

Interview or Guest Post

In May my motivational guest post will be up at the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge weblog! Link will be added afterwards.

(Not counting my short post on the Kookgrrls’ Weblog)

I got more out of the BP-Bingo than I had expected. And it was fun to do! My real problem was not a shortage of ideas (I got plenty), but a lack of time :( Still, our April mission made me look at blogging with different eyes. I think Graasland got more varied in only one month, and I learned it’s okay to just post lists or links. Even better: they are appreciated! That’s my impression from the comments and tweets I got anyway :) It’s interesting to see what kind of posts attract visits and reactions — although that could depend on the topic as well, of course ;)

BIP 2010 buttonThe bingo triggered me to finally publish about some subjects that were on my todo list for ages; like the switchback cut instructible, my Murakami list and the guestpost for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge. Which resulted in a more diverse blog topic-wise as well, not just in style of post. I hope to keep it up in the future! I think I’ve started well with my May posts, and a planned duo-review of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman with Elsjelas, who buddyread Murakami’s collection of short stories with me.

That brings me to two notable absentees in my posts for the BIP Bingo… I did not write a single review in April, nor did I do a poll. Of course reviews are a regular feature on Graasland, so there’s no need to challenge me on that subject. Although I have a huge backlog… And it would be great to try out different kinds of reviews, to see whether I can find a less time-consuming way of writing :\ I decided against presenting Gossip Grrl as mini movie review because 1) they’re more nano than mini, and 2) I wouldn’t want to count one post for two different post types.

Poll posts I’m familiar with as well: up until now I’ve posted 3 of them on the Kookgrrls’ Weblog. My April contributions to that blog might be considered guest posts, but since it’s sort of a communty blog that I participate in, I decided on a more challenging option and presented an existing idea to the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge hosts. All in all I feel quite accomplished!

The hardest part? You would never have guessed: I struggled immensily to write a post with less than 200 words..! LOL

Bunny Bento #96, March 30th 2010

You know how it is with rabbits… You start with two and suddenly there’s a whole bunch of them! So, bunnies galore in bento #96. Let’s make it my 2nd entry in hapa bento’s April B.O.M.B. Challenge!

Bunny Bento #96 en routeIn my usagi sakura bento box you find a Tofu Puff Bunny snuggling up to ordinary inarizushi, a bottle of soy sauce, rucola and parsley greens, a piece of snack tempeh and two avocado maki rolls. Yesh, I made all the sushi myself :) And it was goooooooood.

The snackbox contains homemade chuka wakame (seaweed salad), no.1 farmer’s cheese — nationally elected as ‘the best’ — and bunny marshmallows. On the side I had a mandarin and spicy rooibos tea.

Almost at the end of my hikeThe bunny bento hopped along on my hike today, where it got devoured on a bench next to the water. I walked the last 9 kilometers for my 2nd 100 Mile Fitness Challenge! Deadline is tomorrow so I’m right on time :) It was a nice trail called Kortenhoefse Plassen, crossing peat lands. A bit soggy at times ;) I especially liked the end, overviewing the lakes of Loosdrechtse Plassen.

So, what’s my end total for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge?
163 kilometers = 101 miles. Yay!

100 Mile Fitness Challenge logo

Should I go for another round? I wouldn’t have gone out today if I hadn’t needed to trot those last few miles…

The 2009 Classics Challenge ended on October 31st.
2009 that is. Hence the title :\
And only today I got to write a short wrap-up post in which I have some good news, and some bad news to share…

Let’s start POSITIVE. I finished reading my 5 classics for the Entree Level of the challenge in time! I did tweak the list of my admittance post a bit (substituting titles), but that’s allowed. So below you’ll find the books that made it to the finish line.

The cover pics are links to the posts about the books here on Graasland. Well… that’s how it’s supposed to be anyway. Because the BAD news is that I still haven’t reviewed all of them! Baaaaaad Gnoe. I hope to make it up by stating a short (ha!) opinion right here, followed by a quick recap of the other reviews. And you never know; once the fuses are blown (is that the correct phrase?), when the pressure is off — I might actually get to writing a full-scale evaluation of Brideshead Revisited and Revolutionary Road ;)

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
I saw the 1981 tv-series of Brideshead Revisited twice, so I couldn’t help seeing — and hearing! — Jeremy Irons in my head whenever Charles Ryder entered the story. (Likewise with the Sebastian Flyte character, although I didn’t know that the actor was called Anthony Andrews. It’s just Sebastian.) I loved the book and I got to understand the story better than I did before. Everything seemed to go SO much quicker than on the telly! I seemed to have forgotten big parts, like all that happened after Sebastian went abroad… But what I enjoyed most is that I understood why the novel is called Brideshead Revisited. I had never noticed it before and I think it’s grand. Maybe it was left out of the television series? Gosh, now I need to watch it a third time! ;)

After reading Brideshead Revisited with my online bookgroup, the Boekgrrls, some of the women came over to watch the 2008 adaptation on dvd. Of course we had a fun night, but I didn’t like the film at all. It was way too explicit about the homo-erotic motive that was so subtly hidden in the book. Maybe Waugh would have liked that if he had lived in our era. But for me it took the edge of the story. Also, I hated that ‘they’ had tried to find clones of the original actors — Matthew Goode even sounded like Jeremy Irons. Well, of course with a voice like Sir Irons (really, when is he going to be knighted?), such a thing is not really possible, but they obviously tried. Shame.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird was a quick and entertaining read ad I’m glad to have read it. The story immediately grabbed me and I liked the atmosphere of doom, suggesting that ’something was going to happen’.
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
Revolutionary Road got under my skin, but in a different way than Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (see below). After I had picked it up I immediately got immersed in the story. But it’s quite depressing… The feeling of doom hardly left me during the day, even when I was not reading! It’s obvious from page 1 that something bad is going to happen. And still, the end came as a painful surprise.

The story revolves around image. “The important thing, always, was to remember who you were.” Frank and April Wheeler think they’re special, even though they live in the suburbs, like their peers, and Frank has a job in an advertising agency that is not much of a challenge. It is shockingly recognizable: don’t we all think we’re different? I kept seeing Jon Hamm = Don Draper in Mad Men, as Frank Wheeler btw. But that might have something to do with the cover picture ;)

Again, I watched the movie adaptation afterwards. Unlike Brideshead Revisited I really liked it — although I’m not sure if I’d have appreciated it as much if I hadn’t read the book.

I Am a Cat (vol.1), Natsume Soseki
After reading volume 1 of I Am a Cat I wasn’t sure yet what to think of it. I’m not much of a person for satire and I preferred the parts concentrating on the cat over sections digressing on humans. Reading the 2nd volume helped me form a clearer opinion — but only the 1st tome counts for the Classics Challenge ;) The fun thing was that while reading I Am a Cat I came across several parallelisms with graphics I read at the same time; Coraline and Mutts. That must mean typical cat tricks are pictured lifelike!
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath ended as my favourite read of 2009. I had been holding off this classic for a long time, not knowing what to expect, and even for about a 100 pages into the book I had my doubts. But after a while it really got under my skin — and I still can’t get it out of there. Heart rendering. A Must Read for anyone.

You know what? I believe reviews are not even required for the Classics challenge! Phew, three things to cross off my to-do list in one go. I am so relieved! I might even join the new Classics challenge in February/March… Or I may not ;) Let’s see what the future brings.

Well, the Bloggiesta is over and I’ve had FUN. I’m going to repeat the things I achieved at the end of this post, so you don’t have to re-read them all (it’s just for organization purposes). Neither am I going to sum up the things I didn’t get to. My to-do list was HUGE and I’ve hit a dent into it ;) Thanks to the nineteen-and-a-half hours I’ve put into Graasland this weekend. Also, I visited several other participants and cheered them on in the comments. Don’t know how many though ;) This week I hope to work some more on my drafts backlog. I shouldn’t wait until the next Bloggiesta, which will take place in June! If I don’t have any other obligations at that time (like Mr Gnoe’s birthday…) I will definitely join again. Note to self: do not get distracted by mini-challenges ever again. *focusssss*

Thanks to Natasha of Maw Books Blog for hosting the Bloggiesta and all others that have contributed to the fun. Let’s hear three times OLE!

Bloggiesta Finish Line

Want to know what I achieved?

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


Currently grazing

Challenge logo

Gnoe herding...