Monday, March 27, 2017

graze review

     I now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a post of a different sort than what I usually pen: a product review. It's not book related, but it's almost as good. It's food related.

     I had heard of graze through a commercial on TV, and since you can get a sample box for free, I wondered, "why not?" I love free food. I am the free sample queen. I know when the most free samples are at the mall, and I'm pretty sure by this point the free sample man at the Japanese food kiosk knows my face. I see him a lot.

     ANYWAY....graze is a company that claims to send healthy, delicious snack food right to your door. Each box (with 8 containers of single-serving snacks) are $13.99. Personally, I find this a bit expensive, since I think the serving size is pretty small (it comes to about $1.74 per snack package) but then I remember how much money I spend at the vending machine and the cafe at school and it doesn't seem quite so bad. And then I wince at how many of my dollars go to junk food. EITHER WAY IT'S BAD :/

my graze box

     As far as graze goes, you don't exactly have control over what they send; they have a large selection of snacks that you can rate as "Love It," "Like It," "Try It," and "Trash It." The level of love/like you choose makes a difference of how often they send you that flavor, while if you rate something as "trash it," you won't ever get sent that flavor at all. You can rate things before you try them, too, so from the start they have a better understanding of what you'd like. (For instance, I trashed anything that had raisins in it because raisins are gross.) They also have a lot of options for people with allergies, too, and you can select an all-sweet box, an all-savory, and a few other varieties.

For my sample box, I got four flavors:

Cranberry & Hazelnut toasts with Cocoa Dip
Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie
Sesame Garlic Crunch
Sweet Memphis BBQ

     I was a little sad that I didn't get any of their granola bars (which, being a British company, they call flapjacks) but overall I was pleased with the choices they sent me.

     The Cranberry & Hazelnut toasts were pretty good, although I was disappointed at how few were in the box! The chocolate dipping sauce was also pretty tasty, and since it had been in a warm mailbox, I didn't even have to heat it up. (Depending on what snack you get, though, that could definitely be a bad thing.)

     Frankly, I was disappointed with the Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie. Taking a handful of the mix and eating it at once it was actually all right, but each individual item didn't taste particularly good. (especially the vanilla fudge, which was rather odd)

     I was surprised by how much I like the savory selections, since I thought I'd be more drawn to the sweet. Sweet Memphis barbecue was kind of addicting, and I clicked "love" on that one after I tried it.

     The Sesame Garlic crunch was a bite more bland, and had more of that "healthy," whole-wheat taste. But even so I ate it up, and I think it grew on me after awhile- I'd definitely want to get some again.

     Even though I'm pretty sure each snack package is supposed to be one serving, I ate all four in one sitting (granted, I shared with my family, but the high majority of the food was gobbled up by yours truly). I definitely would say a serving is really more like two packages than one. Not so much the trail mix, but there were only four or five tiny hazelnut toasts! (can you tell I'm sad over this?) Overall, though, it is a nice surprise to find in the mail, and personally I think a lot of the fun is wondering what kind of treat you'll get next....I'm just still not quite sure the price is worth it.

     Now, I'm off to find more free food....

(By the way: if you are going to try it, use the code 7XL9NVVFP at the checkout, and you'll get your first and fifth box free...and I'll get rewards too! So see, we all win)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Book Sacrifice Tag

     I saw this tag a little while ago and thought it was a really interesting idea...but I was busy and wasn't sure I wanted to tackle an entire post flambĂ©ing my most-hated novels because, let's face it, people get vicious when books they love are under attack. Did I really want to be open to a deluge of hate in the comment section? (By the way...I am not against book-burning on principle. There are terrible books that deserve a flaming death of judgment and punishment. Rotten stories are not somehow sacred just because someone typed them up on a piece of paper.) Anyway, then Suzannah did it and she seemed to survive the experience, so I stole the tag from her.

#1: An Over-Hyped Book

Situation: You are in a bookstore when the zombies attack.  Over the loudspeakers you hear the military announce that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness.  What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies?

Wuthering Heights

     I'm not sure if this book is over-hyped, exactly (the phrase makes me think more of a million-dollar book franchise that's become a household name and spawned a series of badly acted but high budget movies) but it's definitely well-known in the classic novel arena. It's well loved by many, which I find difficult to understand, and held up by some as the perfect stormy romance with the epitome of the tortured hero, which I find even harder to grasp. (In the novel's defense, I don't think that's the meaning of the book at all). I tried to appreciate it and the story it had to tell because sometimes books use unlikable characters and bad situations in a way that works, but I hated nearly every moment of this reading experience. Steam was perpetually coming out of my ears and fists were occasionally clenched. If there was a way to reach through the pages and commit literary murder, I would have strangled Heathcliff before we'd gotten 1/4 of the way through.The only thing that made this book bearable was that it was told from a story-within-a-story format, so I imagined that I was being told a horror story on a cold and dreary night, with wind howling in the distance.

*SPOILER* And also I cheered when Heathcliff died *END OF SPOILER*

#2: A Sequel

Situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour and you're probably the type who melts when you get wet.  What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?


    Little Women and Me

    So maybe this book shouldn't count on a number of levels because it's not a sequel, exactly, and I also haven't exactly read it (or at least, the whole thing- I picked it up in the library and ended up skimming it until the end). Basically it's about a girl named Emily  who gets an assignment to write about one thing she would change in a classic novel. She picks Little Women, and somehow gets magically transported into the novel where she tries to prevent Beth from dying and make sure Jo ends up with Laurie.

     Yes, I understand there are people who think Laurie and Jo should have ended up together. I do not count among the number. I could write an essay on why the two of them are completely wrong for each other, why Jo made the right decision, and why Professor Bhaer is actually awesome, but I'll save it for another time. I assumed from the beginning that Emily would come to realize that Lousia May Alcott knew what she was doing when she ended the book the way she did. BUT NO. After her experience wrecking havoc throughout 1860s Concord, Emily comes back to our world and writes her paper and explains why she thinks the two of them should end up together and gets a bad grade because, SURPRISE Jo and Laurie *do* end up together because she "fixed" the book while she was in it or something. ??? I'm sorry, the book wasn't broken in the first place. UGH I GET ENRAGED JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

#3: A Classic

Situation: You're in English class and your professor won't stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature". Personally you think the classic is garbage and you decide to express your opinion by hurling the book at his head.  What classic is that?


The Call of the Wild

     I slugged through this one either in late middle school or early high school, and I don't remember much of it because I may have been half asleep from boredom. I've heard a lot of Christians don't like Jack London because of his worldview. Is this true? I don't know. I was more turned off due to the fact it was about a dog.

#4: A Least Favorite Book

Situation: You're hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to to turn the whole world into a frozen wasteland.  Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book.  Which book would you not regret tossing into the fire?



     I am especially bitter about this one because the first couple of chapters are actually well-written and they tricked me into thinking the book was going to be good.

     It wasn't.

     Supposedly Pride and Prejudice told from the servants point of view, this had the potential of being a really great book. Unfortunately, the original novel's characters were shown in a constantly negative light, it's littered with crude references and a postmodern view of history, and WHY DO YOU HATE ON MY FAV CHARACTERS, JO BAKER? WHY? I was so disgusted with this one that I didn't even finish it.

#5: A Series

Situation: There's a flooded stream you have to cross on your quest and you can't get your feet wet. Which series (oh yeah, btw, you brought your whole bookshelf and also probably the local library with you) will you use as stepping stones?


The Austen Project (mainly Sense and Sensibility)

     I didn't know how to answer this question, because generally if a book is bad, why would I read the rest of the series? There are definitely duds in the many series that I've read, but not enough to chuck out the whole lot of them. And I've read plenty of mediocre series that were insipid but not maddening enough to really fit on here.

     And then I remembered.

     The Austen Project is a series of Austen re-writes by different authors, setting Jane Austen's novels in the present day. A little iffy in concept, I admit, but I was willing to give it a chance. So I read Sense and Sensibility. Nope-ety nope nope nope. From its strange adherence to plot points that didn't work in the modern day and disregard of the moral core of the original, to its unlikable characters and in-your-face inclusion of technology, it was a disaster. I haven' read the other subsequent books in the series, but just from their blurbs and the reviews I've read, I don't think they are any better. The Pride and Prejudice rewrite, Eligible, looks particularly appalling. In our world, apparently modern = steeped in sin. If you believe in ghosts, don't. Because if they truly existed, then Jane Austen would have risen from her grave by now and hit all of these authors with her reticule. Or maybe stabbed them with her pen.


     I answered each question on this tag as it came, but now looking over it, there is a definite pattern. If you learn anything from this post, let it be that you should not attempt to "fix" beloved classic literature. IT'S A BAD IDEA. DON'T DO IT.

     That's all.

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