Quarantine Recipe: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Because the majority of us have been staying home with lots of time on our hands, especially as it’s the middle of  Summer, I thought I’d share how to make a fun homemade treat which only uses only a couple of ingredients. Homemade peanut butter cups may sound like too much work, but it’s actually quite an easy recipe and yields good results.

What You’ll Need:

Measuring cups

Saucepan or microwave-safe glass bowl

Tablespoon

Two muffin tins

Muffin liners

Ingredients: 

-2 Cups Chocolate Chips (I used semi-sweet, but you can use milk chocolate or dark if you prefer)

-½ Cup peanut butter

– 2 tablespoons coconut oil–optional 

Directions:

  1. Measure  the chocolate chips and melt them, either over the stove in a saucepan or in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish.  Also, a quick tip–I’ve heard that adding a few tablespoons of  coconut oil to your chocolate helps it melt into a smoother consistency, so you can add some to your chocolate if you’d like.
  1. While waiting for the chocolate to melt, line your muffin tins with muffin liners. Once the chocolate is evenly melted, begin spooning about a tablespoon of chocolate per muffin liner, or as much is needed to ensure that the bottom of the wrapper is covered entirely and evenly.
  1. Now, measure the peanut butter and place it in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Afterward, stir it gently and begin spooning about a tablespoon into each of your individual muffin liners. (This part can be a little messy, and I learned the hard way! I’d recommend putting your muffin tins with just the chocolate in the freezer until it hardens, that way when you’re ready to add the melted peanut butter, you’ll have a much easier time doing so.)
  1. Using the rest of your melted chocolate, spoon some chocolate on top of the peanut butter, enough until it fully covers the peanut butter beneath it; approximately one to two tablespoons. 
  1. Place the muffin tins in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until they are fully hardened. Once hardened, take them out and allow them to reach room temperature before serving. Enjoy:)

Book vs. Movie: Little Women (2019)

Though I haven’t seen any other adaptations of Little Women, from reviews I’ve read online, this movie seems to be the best of the bunch. But I highly recommend reading the book before watching it, as the plot can be confusing if you don’t. 

Little Women (2019) shifts time frames constantly, moving between the two different books. When I first put the movie on, much like almost everyone else, I was confused. Throughout the movie it was hard to tell what timeline we were following, the actresses looked the same and they were never explicitly named. 

But as the movie went on, I grew to love it. The shifting timelines were unique and something I never considered could work. The switches really helped the viewers see the parallels, and also see how the girls have matured. 

With an 800 page book made into an hour and 15-minute long movie, you obviously can’t have all the scenes. One of my favorite parts of the book was when the sisters all got gifts for meemaw on Christmas in the first chapter, but sadly that part didn’t make the cut. But some of my favorite scenes include the infamous porch dance, Meg’s ball, Laurie’s proposal, and Beth playing the piano at Laurence’s house. 

Even though I finished the book the very same day I watched the movie, I somehow felt a very strong sense of nostalgia. The movie had a really great way of not only keeping the warmth from the book but expanding on it. Throughout the movie, I ended up feeling even more connected to the book and the characters. 

Speaking of characters, let’s discuss the casting. With very reputable and well-known actresses such as Meryl Streep and Emma Watson, it was appealing form the get-go. I enjoyed all of the performances of the cast, especially Laurie and Amy. When I read the book I despised Amy, but the movie put Amy March in a much better light. It portrayed her not as a person who is bitter about what she has, but someone who knows how to get what she wants and will do whatever it takes. Well, almost everything. 

Although I may have cried at the dinner table while reading the book. After a certain scene in the movie, I was sobbing for half of it. I could feel my parents looking at me troubled but I could not keep my emotions in check. Seeing particular heart-wrenching scenes from the book played out in the movie did not help my tears in the slightest. 

The movie also added some new ideas to the famous story. The newer movie has traces of feminism such as Amy’s speech about marriage that make this classic more modernized. The more current ideals fit with the characters perfectly, as the girls were raised with very modern ideas for the time period. 

The biggest aspect that translated very well from the book was the family dynamic. The movie revolves around the sisters, and the comfortable bantering and bickering really sold it for me. You can tell that the cast was really close while filming, and the movie conveyed the exact feelings of coziness and home that came when I read the book. 

Although the 2019 Little Women adaptation is one of my favorite movies to date, the books will always be better. I encourage you if you’ve only seen the movie to read the book, as it is a classic tale full of family, love, and sisterhood. 

-Asli B. 

Little Women, in all of its adapted forms, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

NBA2K20 Review

Have you ever seen a video game with a combination of life-like graphics and real-life sports? If you have, you probably know that NBA2K20 is one of those amazing video games. NBA2K20 is not only a video game, but it is also a great game to teach you about basketball. 

There are two purposes for this video game. While you have fun playing it, you learn about the game of basketball. There are 4 different game modes in NBA2K20. These game modes are all different and they are all filled with different activities. 

The Play Now game mode is where you can play with and against any team you choose in the NBA (National Basketball Association) or the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association). You can play against the CPU or you can connect another controller and play with your friends. You can even play online with friends. 

The MyTeam game mode is where you can play games, while you build your dream team. You can add any players you want after you buy the cards with your MyTeam Points. There are many different gem colored players, with the best cards being Galaxy Opals. After you have collected these player cards, you can fit them into your lineup and compete against the CPU or other online players. 

The MyCareer game mode is very special. In this game mode, you will be able to make a player who looks just like you and you will be able to control what he says or how he plays. It is like it is your NBA career. You have to start at a 60 overall player, but after you play, you will earn virtual currency and you will be able to upgrade your player to higher overalls. You can play this game mode in NBA games, or you can play in The Park and compete against other MyCareer players as well. You can buy your player outfits and accessories with the Virtual Currency  you earn after playing games. 

In the MyLeague game mode, you can choose a team that you will be playing with for the whole season. You have to play the games on their actual schedule and compete for a championship. You can also choose to be a general manager. You can trade for players and sign free agents in the offseason. It is like you own the team. That’s an extraordinary experience!

The thing that makes NBA2K20 an incredible video game to play is the graphics. The graphics are so life-like and it is as if you are playing with real basketball players on the TV screen. The stunning features in the game like the halftime show and the TV broadcasters makes the game more impressive and exciting. 

NBA2K20 is a basketball video game based on the NBA that can be played on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or PlayStation consoles. Since this video game is amazing, I would give it a rating of 10/10. 

NBA2K21 is also right around the corner, and you can preorder this game now or you can also buy this game when it comes out in September. Each year there is a new NBA2K because of all the team updates and game improvements. NBA2K21 will have 3 different versions; the Current Generation for Xbox1, Nintendo Switch and PS4, the Next Generation for Xbox SeriesX and PS5, and the Legend Edition version which can be played on all video game consoles. 

– Mert A. 

Reversion the Return: Chapter 3 game review

Reversion the Return: Chapter Three, produced by 3f Interactive, is a new and exciting story and role-playing game. The players follow the familiar protagonist, Christian, who is working with his fellow revolutionists to try and defeat the evil warlord Sergio from taking over his beautiful homeland, Buenos Aires. The game uses a simple but classic point and click playstyle, usually with inventory and puzzle-based missions. The game also uses incredible interactive voice acting as well as a hint system, for when the player is stuck. On top of that, the game’s 2d original aesthetics and challenging puzzles keep the players wanting more and more of the game

The characters themselves are very impressive. From friendly, peaceful citizens, to harsh, dangerous soldiers, the possibility is endless. This large amount of adversaries keeps the game interesting, as well as challenging. I still really enjoyed the live voice acting and performance of all the characters, and I felt that it gave each character a personality and personage. On top of that, each new environment and characters were individually drawn out and customized, based off of their personality.

The objective itself is very simple. The player must explore different parts of Buenos Aires in order to complete certain objectives. These objectives can range in simplicity and difficulty, such as the starting mission that requires you to remember a certain math equation, to one of the final objectives that require you to find and rescue your friend who was abducted by an evil military group. At times, these objectives can be tricky and confusing. At one point I was stuck for a good 30 minutes trying to find who I needed to talk too in one of the stealth missions.

To help counter these problems, the player is given the hint tool. This allows the player to receive a certain amount of hints, that will help them progress further in the level. Keep in mind that there are only a certain amount of hints that the player receives at the start of the mission, and after they use them all they must wait a certain amount of time for the hints to recharge. This system allows for the perfect amount of help to be given, while still keeping the game fun and challenging.

Overall, I enjoyed Reversion the Return: Chapter Three, produced by 3f Interactive. The simple but yet classic single-player story game really was nostalgic for me, especially since those were the types of games I used to play when I was younger.  The only thing I would improve upon is the diversity of the missions. I found that some of the missions were somewhat repetitive, so the game could become boring at some points. If the developers could somehow add a multiplayer aspect into this game, the possibilities would be endless. Besides that minor improvement, I really enjoyed Reversion the Return: Chapter Three and would recommend any puzzle-loving gamer to try it out. My overall rating of the game is it an 8.5 out of 10.

-Daniel C.

Authors We Love: Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau - Wikipedia

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 — May 6, 1862) was an American writer, philosopher, and representative of transcendentalism.

A graduate of Harvard University, he helped edit Emerson’s quarterly review of the Sundial. He was a lifelong supporter of the abolitionist movement. He preached abolitionism everywhere and attacked fugitive slave laws. Deeply influenced by Emerson, he advocated returning to the heart and getting close to nature. In 1845, he lived by Walden Pond, two miles away from Concord, as a recluse for two years, farming and eating by himself, experiencing a life of simplicity. Walden, a long essay on this subject, became a classic work of transcendentalism.

Thoreau was brilliant and wrote more than twenty first-class essays in his lifetime. Known as the founder of nature essays, Thoreau’s prose was concise and powerful, simple and natural, and full of thoughts, which was unique among the American prose in the 19th century. Walden is considered the most popular nonfiction in American literature. His other works include political treatise on Civil Disobedience, Life without Principle, Cape Cod, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack river, The Maine Woods, etc. Walden records his reclusive life in Walden, while Civil Disobedience discusses the injustices of government and power and justifies citizens’ voluntary refusal to obey certain laws.

Thoreau was not tall but very firm with pale skin and strong, serious blue eyes, and a solemn manner.Thoreau later in his life, had a beard that suited him. His features were sharp, his build strong, and his hands were strong and swift in the use of tools. He said that he used his feet better than his eyes to find his way through the woods at night, and that he could estimate the height of two trees with his eyes very accurately; he could estimate the weight of an ox or a pig as well as a cattle dealer. He was good at swimming, racing, skating and rowing, and could probably beat any countryman in the long walk from morning to night. The relationship between his body and his mind is even more subtle than we think. He said that every step of his leg was his. As usual, the longer he traveled, the longer he wrote. If you shut him in at home, he won’t write at all.

-Coreen C.

The works of Henry David Thoreau are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

The novel is about a young teenager who goes back 27 days in time to save a classmate from committing suicide. The teenage girl named Hadley never knew the boy named Archer who took his own life but felt compelled to help save his life. She goes through a lot in order to get closer to this boy. She uncovers secrets about him and learns more about herself.

I love this novel for multiple reasons. The first is that the story is very compelling and the characters are relatable. Many people have been through traumatic experiences and would probably feel the pain Archer was going through. People are lonely all of the time and no one seems to notice. I relate to Hadley, the girl who tries to stop the boy from committing suicide. She is a very compassionate character who goes out of her way to help this classmate that was a stranger not too long ago. I truly felt like I understood her feeling of emptiness when he was gone, guilt for not trying to talk to his freshman year and dedication to saving him from taking his own life where people cared about him and needed him.

The second reason is because suicide is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed in 2020. This novel shows the importance of looking for suicidal signs and the possible ways people can help prevent others from taking their own life. Many people are very lonely and need to have someone to talk to. I think that this novel is an example of what could happen if we as a society were more inclusive.

-Ellie B.

If you or someone you know has discussed or thought about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game is a short novel by Ellen Raskin.  This book has won several awards, including the Newberry Medal.  The story is about a millionaire named Samuel W. Westing.  Sam Westing was known as an eccentric man who loved games.  He left behind a very strange will.  According to the will, his vast fortune would be inherited by the person who could win a perplexing game he had devised before his death.

The will only allowed certain people to play the Westing game.  They were not the kind of heirs typically included in a will.  The game participants seemed to have no relation to each other, but they all had some kind of connection to Sam Westing.  According to the will, he had actually been murdered by one of his heirs.

The people all seem confused that they were selected to play this game, but each of them wants to win the Westing fortune.  The game involves various clues that arouse suspicion in each other.  As the game unfolds, the heirs discover many surprises, and realize that Sam Westing’s game is more dangerous than they had supposed.

I have read this book several times, even though I have already learned the surprise ending.  I still enjoy reading this book for its suspense and humor.  I also like reading about all the different characters, and their unique personalities.  The story is very clever and full of surprises.  This book is very engaging and I think you will have a hard time putting it down once you start reading it.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This award-winning book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, guides readers through a dangerous yet exciting journey of finding what is important in one’s life and to never lose hope to accomplish any dreams.

The main character, Santiago is a confident, shepherd boy that is known to be curious about the world and to believe in what he wants to believe in. In the book, he travels to many places but his destination is the Egyptian pyramids where he hopes to find treasure. Throughout the story, he receives advice from many mentors about finding his “Personal Legend”. He is taught to never lose hope and to follow his dreams which is what Santiago does. Being beat up after every obstacle Santiago has to face, by the end, he is a powerful and gritty young boy who realizes that he has the ability to accomplish any of his dreams. Join Santiago through his long journey, battling difficult circumstances and ultimately reaching his goal. With helpful advice from many individuals Santiago meets through his trip, there is valuable information that is important for the reader to also take in.

Though the book is not very long and not very hard, it is important to not speed through it but to understand The Alchemist is trying to teach us. I really liked it and if you decide to read this book too, I think you will like it as well.

– Amandine K.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

During quarantine, many of us have been searching for ways to distract ourselves from all the issues going on in the world right now. For me, the best distraction has been reading. I have always had a list of books that I am going to read “at some point,” but never actually got around to reading until now. One of those books was a friend’s recommendation: Bill Clinton and James Pattersons’ The President is Missing.

The President is Missing tells the story of a fictional President Jonathan Duncan, and his attempts to stop a cyber-terrorist attack from fictional terrorist leader Suliman Cindoruk. Duncan had attempted to negotiate with Cindoruk in order to make peace but later faced impeachment trials because of this collusion and its implications. Duncan meets two informants from Cindoruk’s group, but one of them is assassinated during the meeting. Duncan is forced to flee with the remaining informant, Auggie, to a safe house. There, he learns that Auggie and his colleague Nina created an extremely dangerous computer virus called Dark Ages for Cindoruk, but later fled to the US to help halt its use in cyber warfare. The virus is released the next day and the Los Angeles water treatment plant is sabotaged, thus contaminating all the water in the area. This is when Duncan and his staff find out that the true function of the Dark Ages is to contaminate all food and water supply in the US and use technology to sabotage everyday society. Duncan and his colleagues at the Pentagon race to figure out the disable code for Dark Ages, and his vice president is suspected of leaking the confidential information used for the virus. At the last minute, Duncan’s chief of staff correctly guesses the code word and the country is saved from Dark Ages and the impending cyber-terror attack. The person who leaked the confidential information and helped orchestrate the terrorist attack with Cindoruk is caught (no spoilers!) and the country is saved. 

This story is an epic work of fiction and is a perfect book to read during isolation. The story is incredibly intriguing and will keep you guessing until the very final page. Stay safe and keep reading!

-Katie A. 

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive