Mandy Wrangles_2_tn

It’s almost Easter! Just a few more days until the Easter Bunny is due to deliver the goods. And when you’re six years old, this is a Very Big Deal indeed. Such a big deal in fact, that the six year old living at my place has been counting down the days since… well, December 25th came and went. My kids are also currently on school holidays, so to help keep Mr 6 amused (and yeah, maybe to keep the Bunny-ache at bay…), we’ve been making all sorts of Easter Yummies. First up, the Mandy Wrangles version of that oh-so-amazing-gooey-chocolately-fondantey-goodness in a ball – the Cadbury Creme Egg.

 


Brushing chocolate up the sides of the egg moulds.What You Need:

Egg shaped chocolate moulds. Mine are plain, but you could use patterned ones.

Milk chocolate melts.

White fondant, available from all cake decorating shops, some supermarkets and online.

Yellow food colouring.

Vanilla essence.

A clean paintbrush.

 

How It’s Done:

Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate as smoothly as possible acorss the back.Make sure your moulds are clean and completely dry. Remember: when working with chocolate, moisture is your enemy. Melt milk chocolate using your favourite method, whether it be a small amount at a time in the microwave, over the stove-top using the double boiler method, or like me, using a cheap little fondue set. Once your chocolate is melted, you need to work fairly quickly.

Place a small teaspoon full into each chocolate shape. Now, you need these eggs to be hollow, so don’t over-fill. Using your paintbrush, brush the chocolate right up the sides of the mould before moving on to the next egg shape. Once all egg shapes have been chocolatised (yes, that is totally a word. Now.) put aside to set at room temperature.

While your chocolate egg shells are setting, take a couple of tablespoons of the white fondant and add some vanilla to taste and a few drops of yellow food colouring.

See? So easy a six year old can do it.

The vanilla flavour won’t give you the exact flavour of the Cadbury kind, but it’s pretty darn yummy.
Technically, you could use any flavour – in fact I’ve been considering making up some zombie Easter eggs with green or blue insides flavoured with blueberry or mint… but that could be an entirely different blog post…

Once your shells are set, spoon a teaspoon of white fondant into each. Then repeat with a smaller amount of yellow fondant in the centre. Melt up some more chocolate and smear over the top of your shells, trying not to make too much mess of your fondant.

Smooth off the top with a flat knife or spatula, as in my pic.

Once the egg halves are completely set (don’t rush them), they will pop out of the moulds with a small tap. Then, with a little more chocolate dabbed onto the back, join two halves together to make a whole. See… so easy a six year old could do it!

 

 

Chocolate shells with fondant

 

Gooey Easter Goodness!

 

 

 



Sun_InkBefore I begin my review for Ink, I just wanted to let you know that I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began this book. I had no idea how amazing the storyline or the characters would be! I had no clue just how big a decision Katie would have to make by the end of the story and what she finally decides to do.

Katie Green has recently lost her mother and, with it only weeks behind her, she is still dealing with the loss in every single aspect of her life. Many changes occur with the death of a parent, but with the death of Katie’s single mother, Katie’s life is completely shattered. Not only did she lose her mum, but also her closest friend. And as if things aren’t bad enough, Katie isn’t allowed to move in with her grandparents because of her grandfather’s health, and is instead shipped to live with her aunt in Japan.

Katie has never felt this uncomfortable. Japan is an entirely different world and Katie has been thrown right into the middle of it. She doesn’t speak the language, she doesn’t know how to eat with chopsticks, and she doesn’t like the food. At the beginning of the book, Katie is eating lunches of bento boxes stuffed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Forgetting to take off her school slippers when leaving one day, Katie decides to head back into the building and change her shoes. Being warned that there is arguing and fighting going on in the hallway, Katie ignores the advice and goes in anyway, embarrassed to have left school with her indoor slippers on. On her way back in, Katie bumps into a couple arguing and tries her best to hide behind her locker, but it’s no use; Tomohiro has already seen her.

Katie can’t make out too much of what the two are arguing about, except that Tomohiro is a huge jerk who has gotten another girl pregnant. Knowing she should keep her distance from Tomohiro, Katie is intrigued by him and finds herself following him and always looking for him in the crowd.

He isn’t the usual bad boy type, but instead he’s completely strange. There’s something about him that Katie needs to figure out, but isn’t sure why. When she catches him standing in the doorway of her classroom, the drawings on her paper start to dance and the pen in her hand explodes. She knows she has to figure Tomo out, and she needs to do it now.

Tomo is somehow connected to the Kami, a group of gods who have the power of the ink, and it runs through their veins. Katie is somehow connected to the ink, but neither of the two know why or how. But is Katie willing to risk her life? Is she willing to stay in Japan, instead of moving in with her grandparents? All for this boy?

If you haven’t seen this cover in person, you need to check it out next time you’re in a book store. It’s magnificent and truly a piece of art!

One of my favorite things about Ink was that the Japanese language was incorporated into the story. I love books that do that! I have so much fun writing down and looking up what all these different words mean and how they are used. It makes the book feel authentic to me, as if I were there with Katie in Japan.

At the start of the book, I was a bit disappointed in the main character and worried that I wouldn’t like her very much. I didn’t understand what triggered her to follow Tomo’s every move, and even stalk him to see where he was going in his free time. All I could think is “This chick is crazy! She’s completely intoxicated by this guy who just cheated on his girlfriend, got another girl pregnant, and is known for getting into trouble. Why would she even bother?”

But her obsession was justified; Tomohiro wasn’t just any random “bad boy” and Katie wasn’t just any girl crushing on him. They were connected through the ink, and needed to find out why.

But once Katie overcame her lust or infatuation with Tomo, I saw a different side of her that I really liked, just as I did with Tomo too. He was known as a bad boy, but after truly getting to know him, it’s not true. He cares a lot about Katie, and is willing to push people away to keep them safe.

Not only did I begin to love Katie and Tomo, especially together, but also Katie’s two best friends, as well as her aunt. I felt that these three brought a bit of humour into the story, and that Katie’s aunt brought her down to earth and back to what’s going on in life: the death of her mother and the grief.

The only thing I thought was missing was her parent’s back story. What happened to her mum? Where is her dad? But I have high hopes that those questions will be answered in the second book.

Overall, Ink is beautifully written and filled with the Japanese language! This story made me laugh, made me cry, and made it almost impossible for me to lay the book down until I was finished…and even then it was hard!

If you get the chance to pick up Ink, I totally recommend it! The second book, Rain, is hitting the stores June 24.



Graham_accidentsLeslie is used to nothing. She is used to getting nothing from her father, who has never even been a part of her life, from her mother, who is part of her life but doesn’t seem satisfied with anything Leslie does, and not even from her boyfriend who is supposed to cherish and adore her.

Leslie isn’t in the popular group; she doesn’t even have many friends. She spends most of her time cleaning and taking care of the household, and spending time with Keith and his friends. But when she gets up, angry, and leaves the lunch table, just to come back and realize that Keith never even noticed she was gone, it bothers her.

Getting up to leave and go outside, Leslie runs into a guy smoking behind the school. Besides the fact that his name is Dennis, she doesn’t know much about him. But he seems to always be around and by himself. While he seems like a loner and a bit of an outcast, Leslie soon welcomes his friendship and the small conversations they have with one another.

Leslie, Keith, Cain (his best friend), and Meredith (Cain’s girlfriend) all go out on a date together. Leslie sees Cain and Meredith sitting close, sharing a menu, kissing, and whispering to each other. Leslie looks at herself with Keith and realizes how little she feels, sitting next to him on the bench, looking at her own menu.

She sees how Cain treats his girlfriend and questions if she has feelings for Cain. She knows it’s not right, especially since she’s still with Keith. But what would happen if she caught Keith doing something he shouldn’t; doing something that could put their relationship on the line? Would she change her mind? Would her growing friendship with Meredith play a role in her decision?

I wasn’t very sure, at first, if I wanted to read this book. I read the synopsis and discovered that the main character was having feelings for another guy (while she has a boyfriend, and he a girlfriend). I don’t usually like that kind of girl. But there were some other things in the synopsis that pulled me in anyway; the relationship Leslie has with her mother and with Dennis.


Accidents & Incidents was beautifully written and filled with heartache, friendship, and family!

Leslie isn’t like any most teenagers. Yes, she deals with some of the main problems, but her family isn’t perfect and neither is her life. Her mom is strict and never thanks Leslie for anything she does. She doesn’t know who her dad is. She becomes friends with a guy who has his own issues, including smoking, and is struggling to keep her relationship with Keith.

Keith is Leslie’s comfort zone, Cain is the romance and attention she’s dying to have, and Dennis is the true friend she’s never had. But who is she going to pick? Is she staying with Keith because she’s in a relationship with him? Is she going after Cain because he would give her the adoration she wants? Or Dennis who couldn’t be more different from her?

Why stay with Keith if he isn’t making her happy? Why go after Cain when his girlfriend, Meredith, is becoming such a close friend? And why not Dennis?

I enjoyed watching Leslie’s relationships with Keith, Cain, Dennis, her mother, and Meredith develop and change. I liked that she thought of other people’s feelings and thought of the consequences of doing things and that she might regret later. Leslie wasn’t dumb, she thought for herself, and was down to earth.

Accidents & Incidents was beautiful. It was filled with family, love, and romance. My heart was shattered in the first few pages, and slowly mended back together by the end. Such a good read!



Clements_We hold these truths*Thank you Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy for review*

Ben and his two best friends, Robert and Jill, call themselves the Keepers of the School and they’re newest mission is to save their school, and the treasures inside of it, from destruction! They’re school is under a demolition order once school finishes for the summer break and instead will be turned into a seaside amusement park.

There’s only a few days left before summer break starts, so the Keepers decide to share their secret with more students. The three friends know that time is of the essence, and that they’ll never be able to do it all on their own.

They even get parents and a teacher, as well as a handful of classmates, to become their eyes and ears around the school. They’ll need as much help as they can get to discover and figure out all of the clues without being caught by either of the two janitors, who seem more than happy with the plans for the school.

When the Keepers finally find the treasure that’s been hidden for hundreds of years, they can’t believe what they’ve discovered. They know their only option is to call the police and the local museum even if it’s 3 A.M. and means getting in trouble. They know that there won’t be any other way to save the school before it’s torn down in a few hours time.

This is the first Middle Grade book I’ve listened to on audio and reviewed, and I truly enjoyed it! I thought the characters were smart, fun and adventurous – something I was hoping for in this kind of book. Ben, Jill and Robert really seemed to care about their school even if it meant breaking a few rules and getting in trouble.

The story was mysterious and suspenseful but still light and entertaining, perfect for any young reader just getting into books. The ending was truly amazing, and I was excited to see what the treasure Ben, Jill and Robert found would contain. And just like the Keepers of the School I was in utter shock when they found the things hidden inside of the school!

This is the fifth book in Andrew Clements, Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School series, and I hope to pick up the first four instalments soon. Great book to get a child you care about into reading!



hawaiian pizzaIngredients:

Crust-

  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup warm water (and a little more)
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Topping-

  • ½ cup canned tomato pasta sauce
  • 3 cups grated pizza cheese (or any cheese you like)
  • ¾ cup cut up ham
  • 2/3-1 cup drained and chopped canned pineapple

hawaiian pizza 2Instructions:

  1. First start with the dough. In a small bowl add the yeast, salt, and ¾ cup of warm water. Allow this to sit for a while, until it becomes cloudy and bubbly looking. It should only take ten minutes or so.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine the flour and oil, as well as the yeast mixture. Starting with a spoon, mix it together, but once it starts to become more dough-like, use your hands and begin kneading. Do this for a few minutes, until the dough is softer and elastic. If your dough is too sticky, add some more flour. If your dough is too dry and doesn’t really stretch, add some more warm water.
  3. In your large bowl, make the dough into a ball and add some oil at the bottom and top. This is to ensure that your dough won’t stick to the bowl. Allow it to sit for about an hour or two. It should be quite a bit larger than before.
  4. I used a baking sheet because I don’t have a pizza pan, but either is fine. Roll out the dough until it is the thickness of your liking, but don’t forget that it does rise while baking. If you’re using a rough dough pan, you should be able to get about two twelve inch (30 centimeter) rounds.
  5. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celcius). After rolling out your dough, brush a little more oil onto your pizza dough. Spread the tomato pasta sauce evenly with a large spoon, as much or as little as you like. Sprinkle half of your cheese, add the ham and pineapple, and then sprinkle the rest of your cheese.
  6. The pizza only needs about twenty minutes, or until it turns golden brown on the crust. Enjoy!

Made this one for my boyfriend. He loves Hawaiian pizza, and he LOVED this one! Wish I could have taken a picture of him eating it, but he was through three slices before I could even serve myself. 


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