Friday 30 September 2016

Friday Books - The Information Officer

Thank God it's Friday!

The week is over, and the weekend always has more time for reading. But before we do, its time to fill our TBR piles and visit each other.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are where you'll find new books. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

The Information Officer by Mark Mills

Thursday 29 September 2016

Friday Book Share

07 _ 10 _ 2014 (4)
It's the Friday Book Share Game to help search for that ideal novel/author, created by Shelley Wilson.
Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the questions based on a book you enjoyed reading and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare
First line of the book.
Mario was in a good mood.
This wasn’t saying much; he was often in a good mood. It was a legacy from his father - a simple, hardworking man who had drilled into his children the value of giving daily thanks for those things which most took for granted.

The Wise Woman from Tekoa by Lynne Robinson

"Journey with the wise woman from Tekoa as she returns from Jerusalem to her home. The holy gift of wisdom enables her to change the lives of 12 people she meets along the way - one for each of the tribes of Israel. The healing words she speaks to each of them and her deep insights have a life-long effect on these people as well as on her, as she experiences the deep joy that comes from being used by the Holy One to make a difference in the lives of others."

Stories have the power to change lives. This one was written with that in mind. It is filled with nuggets, wisdom and moments of truth and illumination.

The author has a beautiful way of capturing the beauty and the grace of the wisdom and meaning in everyday situations.

The power of connection with God and each other cannot be underestimated, and this shows that in a unique and special way.

It's also, at 80 pages, a a very easy read.

4 stars

ISBN: 9781920084363

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Marinated Mushroom Salad

I thought I'd done them all - every single one of my recipes online. I don't have all that many, I thought. Well clearly I do. Because last night when I wanted to make Marinated Mushroom Salad, and I looked online - voila - it wasn't there. And hence today I have a recipe to share.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano - or fresh is great too
Freshly ground black pepper
1 or 1 1/2 punnets mushrooms
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 to 12 pitted kalamata olives, halved (optional)
handfuls of chopped herbs - like chives

In a large serving bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk together. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, and parsley. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir again before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Now make a green salad. Add your favourite protein - chicken breasts, or fish fillets, or even some halloumi. There you go. Dinner, sorted.

I found this first on

More recipes

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain

There. I should stop here. Based on that cover, you cannot stand there and tell me you don't want to read this book.

It opens in the mind of a dying man. He clearly doesn't want to die. 

"I can’t bear it. I cannot stand the thought of leaving my girls, of not seeing them again."

Jo Spain's second novel, this is a series as far as Detective Tom Reynolds is concerned, but it's not really necessary to read them in order. There is nothing in this one that will spoil With our Blessing, which if you haven't read yet, you should. Right now.

Set in Leinster House, when above mentioned body is found, having fallen into the arms of an angel, and then dying trapping key evidence between his body and the floor, (I know, but I take spoilers VERY seriously.), the Irish police force, politicians, and their wives are in a panic. Leinster House is the seat of Parliament.

Everyone is a suspect, there are enough political shenanigans going on to find motives a-plenty, and that's before we even try to discover what they do after hours - when not (or maybe still) at Leinster House.

Jo worked there, she's Irish, and it feels like she delights in grabbing us and running through the passageways through the many entries into her world. Except I don't think the real one is a bad as the one in her head. Or maybe it is?

The plot starts with a fair amount of detail that makes for an absorbing read. There are funny moments, to relieve the tension, and heartbreaking scenes, where the detail overwhelms you with its heart-wrenching sadness. The characters are real and warm, cruel and hurt. 

A fabulous 5 stars from me.

ISBN: 9781784293185

You may also like A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George or Shroud for a Nightingale by PD James

 More reviews

Monday 26 September 2016

I got stamina

It's Monday. Again. How do they come around so fast? I hear you. And now that it's not even 3 months to Christmas Day (no pressure, you early shoppers), they're going to come around faster and faster. Watch and see.

If you're anything like me, you don't feel like running today. But we need to keep at it. Keep moving, Keep getting fitter. Every day counts. And as the days come at us, faster and faster, we're just going to keep going - at a steady pace. No? Come on.

I've got a great song for us today. Let's get straight to Sia. The Greatest. Featuring Kendrick Lamar. Take a listen.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Take Time

Sunday - time to think, time to slow down, time to connect.

But what have you spent your Sunday doing so far? If you're anything like me, it's been pretty like most other days - waking up early and a wild dash to get ready, and do things that haven't been done during the week.

The worthwhile things in life don't always cost money. They usually take a major investment of patience, perseverance and persistence. Think about it - the growth of a tree, the development of a child into adulthood (ok, not completely free, but you know what I mean), the establishment of a friendship where you can be  completely yourself with that person.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Ten of the Best #64

Good morning sunshine, rain, clouds or whatever you're experiencing in your part of the world. For us, it's another sunshiny day - yay. And I will be spending today trying not to do anything and failing miserably, as usual.

But before I try that, let's catch up on the social media that made our week, if we got time to watch it.

President Obama tops this week's choice with this awesome letter from a  6 year old boy about the Syrian boy he saw on TV.

And did you know there will never be another first lady like Michelle? Watch this, and tell me who comes close.

Friday 23 September 2016

Friday Books - Beneath the Surface

The best part about Friday is that we get to link up with these wonderful book bloggers and share our favourite reads.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are where you'll find them. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain

This book gets off to a great start.

A man is shot and killed, in Leinster House - where all the senior politicians and members of Parliament spend most of their time.

Why? Could it be related to the one photograph found between his body and the ground? Or is there another reason.

This is Jo Spain's second novel, and I'm about halfway and loving it.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Salsa Fish Bake

This was the first fish dish I ever cooked for my children - apart from fish fingers - that they ate without wrinkly noses, gagging noises and asking for a piece of toast. And the bonus is, it's easy. It almost feels like cheating, there is so little to do.

Salsa Fish Bake

4 pieces of fish fillets (We usually use hake)
250ml tomato salsa (make your own, or from a jar)
2.5ml fresh parsley/coriander
50g cheddar cheese, grated
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Arrange the fish in an oven proof dish sprayed with oil. Spread the salsa over the fish and top with herbs. Sprinkle grated cheddar and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with diced avocado and tomato.

Simple as that - serve with green salad and potato wedges.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

All the Girls, all the Books

I looked back over the last year or so to see how many books I'd read with the word "girl" or "girls" in the title. Surprisingly it was only six out of the 73203 listed on Goodreads, I thought it had been more.

But they're all so good. And not one of them is written by a man. Interesting, that? Maybe it's just the ones I've read, or maybe it takes a real man to write a book that has "girl" in the title - with a pink cover, of course.

So here they are.

And if you click each of the covers, you can see my full review.

Ani FaNelli (yes really!) has it all.

Monday 19 September 2016

It's Monday, We Rise

Morning all.

Welcome back for another week. If you're struggling to get out of bed this morning, stand in line. Funny how some mornings it takes that much more commitment, willpower, and energy than others. I often wonder if it's the same the world over, on any given day, or whether some really over-achieving fitness freaks got up earlier than I did and sucked all the energy that the universe to offer or themselves, so there's none left for me. I know, it's really crazy in my head sometimes. And these are just the thoughts that make it onto the page...

Sunday 18 September 2016

Embrace your Storm

Do you see the clouds gathering? Can you smell the rain in the air?

I've been thinking about the "storms of life" recently. It seems that wherever I turn, someone is going through a personal battle, a struggle, a difficult situation. Not only is it happening to a great number of people, but the struggles seem more intensive than the usual "My life is a bit yucky, and I have to face my day" stuff. These struggles involve loss, grief, real personal pain and they require internal growth to be able to pass through. 

That's hard. 

Friday 16 September 2016

Ten of the Best #63

Good, good morning to you all. So glad to have you here in this sunny spot in cyberspace. Welcome to the place where we share each other's timelines - I collect the interesting, thought- provoking, funny and entertaining stuff from my social media feeds, and choose my top ten. I put them here every Friday evening, or early Saturday morning, so we can catch up as the weekend begins. That way we don't have to spend too much time checking our phones during the week - just a small binge on a Saturday morning.

Li'l ole me, the crusader, saving you all from social media addiction and being more attached to your phones than your significant others. Ya right. Cue the white horse, the violins, the drum roll, let's go.

We will start with the great U S of A this weekend.

Friday Book Share - I Found You

07 _ 10 _ 2014 (4)
It's the Friday Book Share Game to help search for that ideal novel/author, created by Shelley Wilson.
Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the questions based on a book you enjoyed reading and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare
First line of the book.
Alice Lake lives in a house by the sea.It is a tiny house, a coastguard’s cottage, built over three hundred years ago for people much smaller than her.

Friday Book Find

I am so glad it's Friday. 

It means we get to link up with these wonderful blogs and share our favourite things - Books.

BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are where you'll find them. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

How beautiful is that cover? And I love the image of a cottage at the sea, that is built for little people. That is where Alice Lake and her three children live. Alice knows she has made poor life choices, so when a stranger shows up on the beach with no memory of how he got there, she is in a quandary.

Thursday 15 September 2016

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

Alice is a single mum to three children. She lives in East Yorkshire and is not known for making the world's best life-decisions. So when she finds a man on the beach with nothing - no identity, no money, no jacket and no memory - no one thinks it is a good idea to take him in, not even Alice's own children, or Alice herself.

Denny, Alice's best friend is cautiously supportive, and they try to unravel the story.

Lily, new to London, having married the man of her dreams (who she hardly knows) three weeks ago in Kiev, and now having "lost" him is completely unravelled.

Meanwhile, back in 1993 in Surrey, a family of four meet a self-assured young man and befriend him too. 

The three stories move at a gentle pace to start off, but then the danger, and the intrigue pick up. Who can be trusted?

Some of my recent reviews
Lisa Jewell has found her niche. Somewhere between chick-lit and psychological thrillers. This is lighter than The Girls, but with more angst and agony than After the Party. I think the best part of reading her books is they're edgy, without being too gory and dark, thus giving them a wider appeal. I will be holding this one up high at my book club, recommending it to everyone, no reservations. You should read it too.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781780893617

You may also enjoy After the Party or The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell. Or try another Lisa - Hall - read Between You and Me.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Salmon Steaks with Goat's Cheese, Tomato and Parmesan Crust

This is a perfect Spring/Autumn evening meal. Low on carbs, and high on all the good things, your whole family will enjoy it.

500g salmon steaks
Quarter lemon
Black pepper
100g soft goats' cheese or cream cheese
80g sundried tomatoes in oil  - finely chopped
120g fresh white breadcrumbs (or use quinoa, cooked, or nut flour)
50g parmesan cheese, grated
5 ml fresh basil 
15 ml olive oil

To serve: Basil leaves, finely sliced red onion, baby tomatoes, mixed salad leaves. (Not worried about sodium? add olives and/or capers)

Tuesday 13 September 2016

The Book of Forgiving - Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

Desmond Tutu is an Archbishop, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chair of The Elders, and was Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. All of these things mean he is eminently qualified to speak from his life experiences.

The fact that he writes all his books, merely as Desmond Tutu, the human, also speaks volumes.

This one, he has written with his daughter, Mpho.

Both speak honestly and emotionally about their journeys.

"...we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take towards healing the broken parts."

So why did it take a group of Texans, who rave about this book, written in my country, by my people, for my people, to finally convince me to pick it up? I don't know, but I'm glad I finally did.

Monday 12 September 2016

Be yourself

Good morning. How are you today? It's Monday again, and time to get inspired. We're getting fitter, running faster, walking further and loving life while we go.

In this weekly post, I try to find some words and some music to help us find our groove, and our inner jam, and make it a little easier.

My thoughts today are about being true to ourselves, and not trying to be who we're not. You were made to be you. Life is hard enough living it true to yourself. Who cares what other people do, and think of us? 

That's why I love this "Friends" clip, where Phoebe runs "like a cross between Kermit the frog and the six million dollar man." 

Sunday 11 September 2016

The Story and the Song

I love stories. Telling them. Hearing them. Reading them. Imagining the places and the people, and feeling connected to the world and what happened through the power of the words.

I also love music. The emotions, memories and powerful  sensations it invokes. How a simple melody, or a well placed chord. a catchy beat and an unusual harmony can hook me in and make me smile.

So it's no surprise that I love to find out the stories behind the songs - why they were written, how they came to be, and what the process of writing was. 

Since it's Sunday, and I'm going through a book entitled "Amazing Grace" which features old hymns, I thought I'd look at yesterday's hymn - Majesty by Jack Hayford. Written in 1977, it isn't exactly ancient, but it is an old standard.

Rev. Jack Hayford, the pastor of Church of the Way in Van Nuys, California  was travelling in Great Britain during the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, observing all the royal symbols on display, and seeing the castles and country and he began to consider the implications of being born to rule. In the car, he asked his wife, Anna to jot down thoughts, lines and the melody that came. The full story is here, as well as a link to an audio clip. I think about God's majesty whenever I see mountains - they really do declare it so well.

Saturday 10 September 2016

Ten of the Best #62

Seriously, what happened to my week? 

About five minutes ago, I was doing last week's Ten of the Best. It cannot possibly be Saturday already? 

But here we are, another week older, wiser,  and about to be made more entertaining and of value to society. Or at least that part of society that enjoys what is shared here!  

Grab some coffee and breakfast, and let's check out what was hot on my social media feeds this week. As usual, a big shout out to all my friends with great information, music and funnies on your timeline - you guys are the ones who make this such fun (and so popular!). I dread to miss a week, I may get lynched.

Where to start? So much happened. I think it may be a while since we we saw some American news. Here's the national bird and the (maybe) soon-to-be POTUS. I don't know - they are not getting on, it seems. Warning - the video is only about 40s long, and then it loops back to the beginning - so you don't need to watch it THAT many times. There are only so many times you can see the man say "How does my hair look?".

Friday 9 September 2016

Friday Books - The Muse

On Fridays I participate in BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

The Muse by Jessie Burton

I love this excerpt. It sets the scene for the most enjoyable part of Jessie Burton's books - the beautiful writing.

Thursday 8 September 2016

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Is this not one of the most beautiful covers you have seen for a long time? 

Having read Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist, and seeing this one on the shelves in the very expensive exclusive book stores, I was desperate. And then I remembered I had some Audible credits, and it was with delight I started listening.

The story opens with a vivid scene in which Odelle Bastien is working in a shoe store in London, trying to make a life for herself, having moved here from Trinidad. She is finding it difficult to get good work, even though she is educated and willing - it's that being a Trini and female makes it a little more difficult in 1967. She gets a job at the Skelton gallery, and makes new friends who inspire her to explore hidden talents.

We also meet Olive Schloss, daughter of a famous art dealer in 1936, lover of art, beauty and desperately craving love and to be seen - especially by her father.

The narrator is excellent, and the voices she assigns to the two protagonists are brilliant. However, Jessie Burton's writing is of such a high standard that her words need to be read to be truly appreciated.

So when my daughter wanted to read this too, I was delighted to get my hands on a physical copy and keep listening - I wanted to inhale this book and make it a part of me. 

Burton, as she did in The Miniaturist, creates a world for us to disappear into. A magical historical, dangerous and anxious world. But here, unlike The Miniaturist, I connected deeply with the characters, loving them instantly, and therefore giving the book much more of my attention.

A resounding 5 stars - this book is breathtakingly beautiful in every way.

ISBN: 9780062409928

You may also enjoy The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton or The Long Song by Andrea Levy

More reviews

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Chicken Tikka Masala

My new go to healthy option is Tikka Masala. I've shared a vegetable masala before, but today we're cooking chicken, It's healthy and delicious, and everyone loves it. So grab your apron, and get ready to be the hero in your home tonight. The bonus is, it's really easy to make. Remember the chicken needs at lest a half an hour to marinate, so do that before you go to the office this morning, or allow extra time later.

500g skinless boneless chicken pieces - thighs or breasts
1 cup extra thick yoghurt
1 T fresh ginger, grated, 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Mix the ingredients and add chicken and marinate for at least 30 minutes

3 t butter
2 t olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 ginger, peeled and minced
1 red chilli, minced (optional)
2 T tomato paste
2 t paprika
1 t garam masala
7 roma tomatoes, diced (or 1 tin chopped peeled tomatoes)
2 cups water
125 ml cream (or more yoghurt)
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Saute garlic, ginger and chilli in butter and oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add the paprika and garam masala and saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes (and herbs and pepper to taste). Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Cook chicken under grill on a roasting tray - about 5 minutes a side (can be slightly  underdone). Blend sauce until smooth, reheat and add chicken. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add cream/yoghurt and coriander and serve with a salad.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Dead in the Water by Irna van Zyl

Irna van Zyl is a South African journalist, with 30 years in the media trade, and many accomplishments. 

Set in Grootbaai, a fictional town near Hermanus and also featuring the Western Cape, this, her first novel, introduces Storm van der Merwe, a suspended detective warrant officer as its protagonist.

It opens with a "car chase" on our SA roads - featuring a bakkie, a beetle and a truck. Plenty of action, and a typically South African scene. 

Later, Storm, walking her dog on the beach, finds a body. You can probably predict the rest - especially if I say the words perlemoen(abalone) poaching, shark diving and tow trucks. 

All the ingredients, this book, translated from the Afrikaans, had great potential as a crime thriller. The writing was ok - a few moments had me wondering if it was the translation ((this is Moordvis in the vernacular - which sounds way better), or the original text that had some repetitive turns of phrase. For me, it was the lack of character development and  personalities that left me not caring what happened to whom. And frustrated, because I so wanted to enjoy it.

Predictable, familiar and ultimately fairly boring, I plodded through this one.

2 stars

ISBN: 9781485903581

More South African crime fiction from Deon Meyer - try Icarus. Or what about Paula Marais - Love and Wine.

More reviews.

Monday 5 September 2016


There are some days when it all comes together. And I'm happy to say that today is one of them.

This is the weekly post where I  share some motivational (actually mostly for me) to get up and start the week moving - preferably with some form of aerobic exercise. I'm running and walking today, and let me just say - "I don't even need the music. I'm good to go."

Spring is definitely in the air where I live. The leaves on the trees have that pale "should we -shouldn't we?" colour. The sky is white-blue, there are the faintest pink blossoms, delicate in their beauty, and everything is gentle. The heat is not too intense, people aren't throbbing with that summer killer attitude - yet. Everything is ok. And that's ok.