The Magician’s Curse – A Book Review

Title: The Magician’s Curse
Author: Linda G. Hill
Series: The Great Dagmaru
Genre: Romance, Gothic Romance, Fantasy
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?

Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

My Review

If you’re a fan of fantasy, intrigue and gothic romance then this is the book for you. 

The chemistry between Stephen and Herman is enough to make your Kindle start to smoke. 

And with a well rounded, and intriguing in their own right, cast of secondary characters, not a page goes by without something to catch your imagination. 

I would have loved to see more of Stephens magic but with a second book around the corner to carry on Stephen and Hermans story, I’m sure we will have plenty of opportunity for more magic.

*I reviewed this book for #TBConFB 

Got yogurt?

We did.

1.5L of Greek style yogurt.

Before it went bad I decided to look up a few recipes to use it up.

Two that stuck out were Snickerdoodle Cake and Frozen Yogurt Bark.

Both turned out delicious!

Print
Snickerdoodle Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 


Course: Dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Greek style labour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare 2 loaf pans.

  2. In a small bowl mix most of the cinnamon and 6 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside.

  3. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.

  4. In your electric mixer (or a large bowl), cream the butter, sugar and oil on medium speed for about 1 minute.

  5. Add the eggs and mix.

  6. Add the vanilla and yogurt and mix until just combined.

  7. Add in the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined.

  8. Scoop a 6th of the batter into each loaf tin, sprinkle a thick layer of cinnamon sugar over the batter, repeat 2 more times, ending with a cinnamon sugar layer.

  9. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from the tins.

  11. Serve warm with a little butter spread on.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Betty Crocker

 

Print
Frozen Yogurt Bark
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 mins
 

Got some Greek style yogurt left over? This is a really quick and easy way to use it up.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Greek Style Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey You can add more or less depending on your taste
  • 1/2 cup fillings/toppings of your choice raisins, craisins, nuts, marshmallows, frozen berries, fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam heated until runny
Instructions
  1. Mix the yogurt and the honey until well combined.

  2. Add in any fillings you want.

  3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or tin foil.

  4. Pour the yogurt onto the baking sheet. Thickness depends on you.

  5. Add desired toppings.

  6. Drizzle the strawberry jam over the top.

  7. Freeze for no less than 4 hours.

  8. Remove from freezer and break into pieces.

  9. Store in a sealed container in the freezer.

Mindfulness

Yesterday, a friend gently reminded me that our words become our truth.

The more we say something, be it negative or positive, the more those words, that thought, becomes reality.

I was irritated with someone and I called them stupid. She reminded me that people make mistakes and that there can be miscommunication from both sides and that even though I was annoyed it didn’t make this person stupid. 

She was right. The more I called this person stupid, the more annoyed I got and the more inclined I was to view anything to do with them in a negative light.

The fact is this person is not stupid, they do not deserve to be thought of that way and I was not only doing them a disservice but myself as well. I am not generally a negative person. I tend to see the best in people but now I was only seeing the negative.

From now I will remember to take a moment, deal with the issue for what it is, and not let my thoughts and especially my words become negative and toxic.

 

My words are my truth and my truth is positivity.

Live long and prosper.

About a year ago we adopted Spock.  Our first Israeli pet.

In retrospect we should have called him Flash. He is super fast, never sits still for a moment and eats everything in site.

He is also the sweetest little rodent ever. He never bites, unless you wake him up and is happy to climb on your hands and run around exploring.

This is how he likes to sleep, all smooshed in the corner with his nose in the air

Last Friday I noticed he had a lump at the top of his hind leg. It didn’t seem to be bothering him too much, he was still running on his wheel and eating and drinking, so I wasn’t too concerned about getting him to the vet until Sunday (by the time I noticed it all the vets were closed and they are not open on a Saturday so we had to wait).

On Sunday I asked a colleague to help me call the local vet who deals with rodents and make an appointment, except it turns out she is on maternity leave and her replacement doesn’t deal with rodents.

They referred us to two other vets, both of them quite far away for someone who doesn’t have a car. The one would require a taxi to get to and the other would require a 30 minute bus ride.

We called the one that was on a bus route and made an appointment for that night. Except then my bus didn’t arrive and I had to cancel the appointment and then it turns out the vet that deals with rodents only works one night a week and if I wanted to take Spock to them it would  have to be during the morning.

So the next morning we called the vet that needed a taxi to get to and they do deal with rodents just not with rodents that have lumps on their legs. 

So in the end I convinced Paul (who really doesn’t like rodents) to take him to the vet this morning.

Apparently the lump is something that older hamsters tend to get. Turns out that even though the pet store told us Spock was only a month old he was actually closer to a year old when we got him. The vet said that looking at his teeth, the loss of hair on his legs (they are almost bald) and the presence of the lump indicate he is closer to 2 years old now. And at two years old, she doesn’t recommend biopsy or an operation to remove the lump as long as he is not in pain.

While Paul had him at the vet they noticed his one eye was not open properly and they think there is an infection so they gave us drops to put in 4 times a day. I can see this being akin to bathing a cat.

So, in a nutshell, the hamster is OK and my husband is amazing for taking him to the vet for me (and for taking him back this Thursday for his follow up).

Wooooosh!

That’s the sound of another year flying past us.

On 1st September Aaron and Faith started their new school year.

Aaron is now in Grade 4 and Faith is in Grade 2.

For Faith this means she is now part of the main school, she gets to play where ever the rest of the school plays. The Grade 1’s were restricted to their own playground that they shared with the Grade 0’s, so this is a big step for her.

It also means there is no more sandpit for her to play in which means no more sandpit coming home in her shoes and pockets. Yay for me!

She is also going to aftercare every day, where they will hopefully help her with homework since I am useless with most of it.

So far she is loving being in ‘big’ school.

Aaron, on the other hand, no longer has aftercare. He is now in Grade 4 so both the school aftercare and the private aftercare say he is big enough to look after himself in the afternoons. 

::puts head between knees, takes deep breaths::

My baby is almost 10 and is now coming home from school all on his own. Making himself something to eat. All on his own. Doing his homework. All on his own. Looking after himself until one of us gets home. All. On. His. OWN!

But I think this child will be just fine. No, I know he will. He is a smart, independent, compassionate boy.

Here’s just one of the reasons I think this child is awesome!

Yesterday when he went home, the downstairs neighbours dog was outside. He called me to ask what he should do. I told him to knock on the door and if no one answered to try open their garden gate or try pick her up and put her over the fence.

They were not home, he couldn’t open the gate and she was too heavy (and growly) for him to lift, so I told him to leave her, I was sure her humans would be home soon and its not the first time she has been out, she never strays far and waits near the door for them anyway.

He wouldn’t hear of it. Told me it was too hot and she couldn’t stay by herself. So he coaxed her into our place, gave her a bowl of water and she then proceeded to climb on my couch and lick and bite herself for an hour, leaving a big wet slobber patch and half her hair all over my couch.

But my sweet, kind hearted boy refused to leave her vulnerable. He makes my mama heart so proud.

Here’s to a new school year. May it be as awesome as my children are!

Holiday

The summer one. The one that lasts almost 9 weeks. The one we have to find camps and childcare and things to keep the (not so) ankle biters out of trouble. For almost 9 weeks!

For the first 3 weeks the kids were at day camp at their school for the first half of the day and then at an aftercare for the second half of the day.

Then for 2 weeks they were at camp dad. Thankfully Paul was able to be with them and they went to Tel Aviv and to Haifa and visited museums and the Baha’i Gardens and went swimming and generally had a good time.

Then for 3 weeks they went to a half day camp for immigrant children arranged by the absorption department and they had an amazing time. The afternoons were spent with dad. 

And where was mom during all of this? Working. Because its 9 (!) weeks of holidays and I just couldn’t take time off (especially since I started a new position).

But I have this week off and the kids and I have some plans. Swimming, ten pin bowling, ice creams and the zoo just to name a few.

And then, on Friday, they go back to school (don’t ask, its 1st September and they go back to school on the 1st, never mind its Friday and only half a day and would make more sense to go back the next week).

Aaron will be in 4th Grade and Faith in 2nd Grade. I cant get over how big these kids are getting.

So that’s a catch up of the last 2 months and a preview of whats to come. Hopefully things will be more settled and I can blog more. 

A taste of childhood

The other day, while hunting for a tin of coconut milk, I came across condensed milk. It can be tricky to find here so I grabbed one and then stuck it in the grocery cupboard and promptly forgot all about it.

Then last weekend while looking for something yummy to snack on, I pulled out the tin. I also spied a bag of desiccated coconut and an idea struck.

Coconut ice!

I remember the white and pink sugar overload from my childhood quite fondly and decided to whip up a batch and introduce it to my children. Faith was dutifully impressed, Aaron took one sniff and said no way!

Its really, really easy to make and took no time at all. The hardest part was the mixing, its really good for toning your arms!

Print
Traditional Coconut Ice
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Super sweet, super sticky, coconut treats.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 400 g desiccated coconut
  • 3 drops red food colouring you can use any colour you like and even add flavouring if you want
Instructions
  1. Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl.

  2. Add the icing sugar and the coconut and mix together. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the condensed milk.

  3. Keep mixing. The mixture will be very stiff. Keep going.

  4. Line a square or rectangular, deep sided dish with baking paper.

  5. Scoop out half the mixture and using your hands or the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the dish. It doesnt have to be perfect but the more uniform the thickness is, the better it will look when you cut it into squares.

  6. Add your colouring (and/or flavouring) to the remaining mixture and mix well until the entire mixture is coloured to your liking.

  7. Scoop out the coloured mixture and using your hands or the back of a spoon, spread it over the first layer in the dish and press it down.

  8. Once everything is smoothed out to your satisfaction, place the dish, covered, in the fridge for a few hours.

  9. Once cold and set, remove the coconut ice from the dish, peel off the baking paper and slice into small squares with a sharp knife.

  10. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

You can add a bit of cocoa powder to the 2nd half of the mixture instead of food colouring to make a vanilla chocolate ice.

 

Some (old?) news.

We have been in Israel for just under 3 years now. I know, 3 years!!

And if you recall I was lucky enough to find a job within our 1st month here.

I have been happily employed in that job for just over 2 and a half years. 

מסיבת יום הולדת של אוריה ואיתי

A few weeks ago, the #BestBossEver called me into her office and told me that they were looking to fill a position in another department and between her and that departments head, they had discussed it and wanted to know if I would like to take the position.

I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes.

Since then its been a bit of a whirlwind.

I’ve trained my replacement, trained and done a handover on my new position and started working my new position full time.

This has been a huge learning curve for me. It has been a very long time since I worked directly with clients and its taken some getting used to. But I feel like I’m getting the hang of things.

I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team of people and the fact that I’ve only moved to a new department and have know the team for years already has been a huge help.

I’m still nervous about all the things I don’t know but excited about everything I get to learn too.  Like how to dial into a conference call (I know right? So adult!).

So, that’s where I am. It’s sure to be a wild ride but I’m looking forward to it.

*Photo by Paul

Tales of Freya – A Book Review

So this review is a little different. Its not about a single book but the first two books in a series of short, sensual stories, the Tales of Freya.

 From Sarah Dahl’s website:

The Tales of Freya are steamy, sometimes brutal, but always passionate Viking adventures that will leave you wanting more sexy Vikingness!

And they really are! I want more. Now. Are you listening Sarah?

So, here are my reviews of The Current and The Awakening.

Title: The Current: A Battle of Seduction
Author: Sarah Dahl
Series: Tales of Freya
Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Stories, Historical Romance,  Norse & Icelandic
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon 

Marked from the latest battle, Aldaith wants to recover by a stream. But instead of finding solitude, he stumbles on the fearless shield maiden Nyssa. The fierce beauty invites Aldaith into the water to engage in a very different kind of battle — one for which his training leaves him unprepared.

My Review

What happens after the battle?

This short tale is a glimpse into a rarely told part of the story.

I adore the confident and impish Nyssa. And just want to wrap myself around Aldaith.

My only complaint? I want more of their story!

Title: The Awakening: Embrace Beyond Passion
Author: Sarah Dahl
Series: Tales of Freya
Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Stories, Historical Romance,  Norse & Icelandic
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

Ingrid leads a quiet, joyless life with a husband who is oblivious to her needs. Every time the dragon boats carry him away, she resigns herself to the solitude of her modest hilltop farm by the fjord. But her uneventful world is shaken to the core when the shadows of her house reveal a secret that sets her passions afire.

My Review

 Smoldering is the only way to describe this short story. 

The slow burn of Ingrid’s awakening left me breathless. 

My sigh when the smoldering burn finally ignited could probably be heard miles away. 

Do yourselves a favour and put all The Tales of Freya on your wishlist. You won’t be disappoint. 

 

*I reviewed these books for #TBConFB 

Winning Ace – A Book Review

Title: Winning Ace
Author: Tracie Delaney
Series: Winning Ace Series
Genre: Sports Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

What does journalist Tally McKenzie want more—the story or the man?

When the opportunity arises for Tally to meet tennis ace Cash Gallagher, she grabs it with both hands. Desperate to advance her career, she hides her true identity from the celebrity.

After the normally private Cash divulges personal information, Tally seizes her chance and writes an inflammatory article. Incensed, Cash confronts her, but the darling of centre court gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself passionately drawn to the woman he should detest.

Yet Cash is a man with secrets that could destroy his career. Dare he take the risk of intimacy with Tally, or is the cost too great, even for his perfect match?

My Review

Wow!

I was hooked from the very first page.

The writing is slick, the action is fast and the chemistry between Tally and Cash is smoking hot.

This is the first book in a three book series and the cliffhanger at the end was whopper (I may or may not have cursed the author for leaving me hanging like that). 

I cant wait to get my hands on the next book to see what happens.

*I reviewed this book for #TBConFB