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 

Flux – A Book Review

Title: Flux
Author: Marissa Farrar
Series: The Flux Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

I was just like any other twenty-two-year-old until a horrific tragedy changes everything.

When I wake up in hospital with barely a scratch, strange things start happening. At first I believe I’m being haunted by my lost loved one, until a leather-jacketed man called Hunter confronts me. Turns out the paranormal events are coming from within me, and the terrible incident has released an ability I have no control over.

And I’m not the only one.

Hunter takes me deep beneath my home city of San Francisco to become part of a secret group of people known as The Kin. Each member of The Kin has a special talent—the ability to control things with our minds. But others are onto us—men who desire to use us for their own gains.

Can I protect the people I have left, or will my powers be my downfall?

My Review

I am in awe. No, seriously. This book is awe inspiring.

I spent a fair amount of time thinking of who I would cast as each character when this becomes a major motion picture.

The story gripped me from the very first page and didn’t let go. The action is real and you feel as if you are right there in the thick of things.

The characters are completely relatable. Especially Ari, I felt like we could be best friends. I adore Hunter and may have a small soft spot for Kit too.

I loved the twists and turns, who to trust, the hows, they whys, the sizzling chemistry between Ari and Hunter.

I cannot wait to dive back into this world when book number 2 is released.

You can follow Marissa on Twitter and Facebook and don’t forget to bookmark her website for updates on all her books.

*I reviewed this book for #TBConFB 

Yes, another recipe.

A while back I bought sour cream and since it was on special I bought 5 pots. Then I only used one. 

Since the sour cream was about to reach its expiry date (can sour cream really expire? Does it just get more sour?) I asked around for recipes to use up the last 4 pots.

I used one pot to make a creamy nutmeg pasta sauce the other night and then last night I used another pot to make these quick and really delicious scones.

Scones my wife made

 

Print
Sour Cream Scones
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 6
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 envelope baking powder (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons water approx/as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.

  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients.

  3. Add the sour cream and start mixing it in.

  4. The mixture will start to look like bread crumbs.

  5. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together.

  6. Use your hands to kneed the dough into a ball. The dough will be quite sticky.

  7. Coating your hands in flour, take small handfuls of the dough and form balls.

  8. Place on a baking tray and flatten slightly.

  9. Bake at 200C for about 15 minutes.

  10. Allow to cool slightly before breaking them open and slathering butter, jam and cream over them.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from AllRecipes here.

Healthy homemade burgers

The last two days I have been home sick with Aaron. He’s ok, just another bout of viral-thing-itus. But, being home meant plenty of time to cook.

Over two days, we made homemade pizza, homemade chicken burgers and we made another batch of pasta sauce.

Here is the recipe for the chicken burgers. They were so good we ate all (8!) of them in one sitting!

Print
Breaded Chicken Burgers
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Quick and easy to make breaded chicken burgers
Course: Main Course
Servings: 8
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 500 g chicken mince
  • Half onion minced or grated
  • A few cloves of garlic minced
  • Half cup breadcrumbs/panko
  • Salt, pepper, sweet chili flakes to taste
  • 1 egg
  • More breadcrumbs/panko for covering the patties
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Take handfuls of the mixture and shape into balls then flatten to desired thickness (my kids did this part and had a blast).
  3. Set the patties aside and heat some oil in medium heat pan.
  4. Dip each side of the pattie into the crumbs before placing in the hot oil.
  5. Fry for 5-10 min each side (depends on thickness of patties).

Dream a little dream. Again. And again.

I have a recurring dream. Well, a theme really. The dream differs every time.

The Persistence of Memory

Sometimes its the first day of school or varsity. Sometimes I’ve transferred mid semester.

Sometimes I am all alone when I get there and others there are tons of people, all of them know each other and know where they are going.

The theme though, is that I am late and I don’t know where to go. Why? Because I cant find my class schedule and I haven’t memorised it. 

The dream usually entails me wondering around, trying to figure out where I’m supposed to be and knowing that no matter when I get there I am going to be late, the class almost or actually over.

Sometimes I get to the class and sometimes I wake up before I get there but I always wake up an anxious bundle of nerves.

Meh! So many issues I can pick out of these dreams. 

Who else has recurring dreams?

Homemade

Recently I have been trying to make more things from scratch. Not only is it healthier but most of the time its far more cost effective than buying ready made.

I posted about my pasta sauce the other day. The total cost of that was under ₪10 (about R35). It was also sugar and preservative free and was totally delicious. 

I also want to start making my own burger patties and pizza bases.

One of the things I’ve been making myself each week is our Shabbat challah. I started off making it because I got myself a stand mixer with a dough hook and it is just so easy but now I make it because its cheaper, healthier, tastes amazing and its really special to have homemade challah on a Friday night too.

I have reduced the original recipe to make 2 small medium sized challot but the original recipe makes enough for 4 challot or 2 challot and a dozen cinnamon rolls. Here is my amended recipe.

Print
Challah
Prep Time
1 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
2 hr
 
Course: Side Dish
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant/dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour (approx)
  • 1 egg for brushing
  • sesame seeds/kosher salt/herbs for topping
Instructions
  1. Place water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl.

  2. Leave for about 5 minutes or until it starts foaming.

  3. Add eggs, oil, salt.

  4. Add 3 cups of flour and start mixing.

  5. Slowly add the 4th cup of flour until the dough becomes smooth and not sticky.

  6. You may need more or less flour, go by feel.

  7. Either kneed by hand or with a dough hook on your mixer until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

  8. When the dough is ready, lightly oil your bowl and place the dough inside.

  9. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise for about an hour or until double in size.

  10. Kneed down and divide the dough into 2 equal parts.

  11. Form 2 challot, either by plaiting or forming rounds.

  12. Turn the oven to 180C and let the challot sit, covered until the oven is ready.

  13. Brush challot with beaten egg and top with desired topping.

  14. Bake for 30 minutes.

  15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is adapted from Sy's Challah on AllRecipes.

Cooking with Aaron

Last night Aaron and I made dinner together.

I taught him how to blanch and peal tomatoes, how to caramelise onions and that no matter what you are cooking, always salt the water.

We made a really yummy tomato sauce that we used in a baked ziti (I’ll blog that recipe another time).

I really enjoyed cooking with Aaron, he loves to get involved and asks lots of questions. He also ate TWO servings of the ziti and declared it delicious.

Oh and he insisted on washing up all the bowls and dishes once we had finished cooking.

Print
Tomato Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

This sauce goes with anything from pasta to meatballs.

Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 8 large tomatoes blanched and peeled
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 red pepper finely diced
  • 1 small tomato puree
  • red wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • chili flakes
Instructions
  1. Fry onions, garlic and red pepper.

  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and herbs and salt/pepper to taste.

  3. Bring to the boil then simmer while you make the pasta/meatballs, about 20 minutes.

  4. Once the pasta/meatballs are ready, remove sauce from heat and blend with a stick blender if you want.

Recipe Notes

The recipe is just a guideline, feel free to adjust the ingredients to whatever you have available, less herbs, more wine, canned tomatoes instead of fresh, there are no rules except to just have fun with it.

Only happy things here!

The world is a sucky place at the moment. And social media brings out all the negative naysayers and the horrible pictures and horrific stories of misdeeds.

There have been moments when I just want to shut down my social media accounts and ignore all the bullshit. But then I realised I enjoy interacting with people on social media. Its a way for me to keep in touch with family and friends and share the things that make me happy.

So instead of getting rid of the baby with the bath water I’m adding bubbles. Lots and lots of happy, shiny bubbles. OK, mostly accounts involving adorably cute animals. Cute animal bubbles!

Here are the accounts that I am following on social media that bring a smile to my day.

Coral-Leigh’s gorgeous little Beastie

Facebook

Twitter
 
 I hope you clicked through and added these awesome and fun accounts to your feeds. Let me know if you follow any fantastic feeds I should add to my list.