Archive for November, 2012

This trilogy focuses on the Gallaghers of Ardmore, in Ireland. In addition, it speaks of an old legend about a faerie who courted a mortal woman, and was refused because when he proposed he talked of things he could give her instead of the love he had in his heart. After she died, he cursed them both until three mortal couples love and accept freely. Obviously, the three mortal couples are the Gallagher siblings, Aidan & Shawn (male) and Darcy (female).

Jewels of the Sun (Gallaghers of Ardmore / Irish Trilogy, #1)

Jewels of the Sun: this book is about Jude Frances Murray, a Yank who comes searching for her roots and herself in Ireland. She falls in love with Aidan, who falls in love with her. She is unsure of herself and searching for what she wants; Aidan is sure of himself and wants her and to run the family pub. So far, so good. This is a theme that Nora Roberts explored before (Enchanted, Born in Shame).

Everything moves along in an engaging manner until the middle of the book, where Aidan loses all intelligence and sensitivity he had previously and proposes marriage the way the faerie proposed to his mortal woman (“I need a wife, and you fit”). I see the need for parallelism, but couldn’t it at least be in character?

After being rightly refused, he proposed a second time with what has to be the worst proposal on human record, and was refused in a way that had me giving Jude a standing ovation. After this, he seemed to come to his senses, after a talk with his brother, and proposes like a normal human being, giving us the happy end.

I found it annoying that an obviously sensitive intelligent person becomes a clod in order to fulfil some faerie curse. I don’t mind the paranormal, but I do like it when characters live. However, I really liked Jude and the way she found her spine, so this gets 3.5 stars.

Tears of the Moon (Gallaghers of Ardmore / Irish Trilogy, #2)

Tears of the Moon, the second book, deals with Shawn Gallagher, and the woman who has been longing for him since childhood, Brenna O’Toole. I enjoyed at the beginning the obvious stereotype switching, where Brenna can fix anything with any power tool and Shawn is the one who knows how to cook and doesn’t know how to hold a screwdriver.

The story progressed more or less OK, though I found it odd that Brenna wasn’t aware she was in love with Shawn, considering she’s been after him all her life. So she’s blunt, inconsiderate, and a bit emotionally repressed, but OK, I can live with that.

And then came the discovery that Brenna and Shawn are sleeping together. In Nora Roberts books, the sex comes around the middle of the book and the book ends with marriage. That’s how she works. However, maybe if she insisted on setting a novel in Catholic Ireland she should have reconsidered? When the premarital sex is discovered, oh, the moaning and the wailing. The slut-shaming and name calling. Followed by melodrama befitting a teenager trying to emulate Romeo and Juliet. This was mostly ignored in the previous book, maybe because Jude was a Yank and didn’t know better?

As I see it, you can’t have it both ways. Either Brenna really believes that premarital sex is a sin, in which case she should have been a virgin and she should have slept with  Shawn only if she was in love. Or she doesn’t believe it’s a sin, so she isn’t a virgin and thinks she wants only sex, but then she shouldn’t carry on like a guilty sinner afterwards.

In short, Brenna comes out as a melodramatic hypocrite in addition to an inconsiderate interfering busybody.

At this point I lost all interest in the book. I skimmed a bit and found that Shawn also begins acting like an idiot, so as far as I’m concerned they deserve each other. Good riddance. 0 stars.

Heart of the sea is about Darcy Gallagher, who in previous book shows herself as childish, gossiping, openly mercenary, and interfering. After the second book, I just didn’t have the patience for reading about another character I don’t particularly like. So I’m not going to read it.

All in all, disappointing.

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I returned to work last Sunday. Whoo-hoo!!! 😀

It was great to get out of the house again, great to use my brains again (as everyone knows, if you don’t use it, you lose it). There were lots of adjustments to make though – new boss at work, all my projects to be revived as they were shelved while I was gone. However, the most complex part of the day is the morning – getting everyone out of the house. Only slightly less complex is the afternoon and getting everyone back in the house 😉

So to solve the morning problem, I made all the food for school and work the evening before and put in the fridge, and had a breakfast plan for the kids. But what about my breakfast? I’m cutting down sugar as I mentioned, so eating Belgian waffles (I make ahead and freeze) for breakfast is not an option (how sad…). I can’t drink milk because it makes baby break into a rash, so cornflakes is out of the question as well. Especially as what I really wanted was an omelet. But who has time to make omelets in the morning on a weekday?

And then I found this recipe and said Eureka! I’ve found it!

Egg muffins

Basic recipe: put fillings of your choice in muffin cups until 1/3 full. Beat eggs with seasoning of your choice and pour into muffin cups until 2/3 full. Bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes. Keeps well in the fridge for a week or freeze.

My recipe: I sautéed onion, red pepper and squash in olive oil, added salt, oregano and thyme. On top of that I put small squares of yellow cheese. This I covered in beaten egg. It came out dee-licious! Part I put in muffin cups with paper liners; part I put in ramekins (about twice the size of one small muffin). The paper liners became soggy and fell apart, so that wasn’t so good. On the other hand if you want to freeze this you need something. I’ve got silicon liners somewhere; I’ll try that if I’m freezing these. Otherwise I’ll stick to ramekins in the future.

Egg muffins – the perfect make ahead breakfast!

My husband got a bit miffed that I ruined something that sounds so tasty with squash (he hates squash). So next week it’ll be mushrooms and spinach 🙂

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Last Friday I made:

1. Cooked carrot, squash and potato for my baby

Vegetable soup for baby

2. 6 bags of carrot + celery + onion mix for my freezer.

Carrot, onion and celery mix

3. Carrot muffins as a hostess gift (we were invited to dinner). As our friends don’t eat refined sugar or white flour, I substituted the 3/4 cup sugar by 1/2 cup of honey, omitted the chocolate chips, and baked for 25 minutes at 10 degrees less (170 degrees). Notes for next time substitutions: less honey and more cooking time. It was just a little too sweet and just cooked. But it tasted awesome!

Awesome carrot muffins

So basically I peeled carrots all Friday 🙂


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It is after all possible to have too much of a good thing. After staying at home for almost 5 months, I am done reading light literature, and I have actually resumed work on my thesis. I’m going back to work this Sunday. I can feel my IQ draining slowly back into my brain 🙂

As part of the celebration of that, I reread de Lint’s Moonheart. I remembered it vaguely, but no more. And there is so much more!

Moonheart at its simplest explores Sara Kendel’s discovery of the Otherworld, a world close to this one yet with elves, manitous, faerie and more, and her battle with an evil being that stalks her. Woven in it are the stories of Keiran Foy, an apprentice in the Way; John Tucker, of the RCMP; and Jamie Tams, Sara’s uncle.

On a less simplistic level, Moonheart explores the world that is merged with this one, but unseen, and the workings of the soul that are just out of our reach. de Lint’s talent lies in weaving mythical tales not in a place “far far away and a long long time ago”, but here and now *, in the middle of the city. After reading his books, you keep feeling that if you turn your head faster, you’ll see an elf run between cars, and if you listen harder, you’ll hear the strains of the harp pulling you on…

Pure magic. 5 stars.

* Well, in Canada in the 1980s.

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I’ve been trying to make my diet more healthy, specifically avoid sugar. This is a bit of a problem for me, as most of my snacks have sugar. Even though I use oil and whole wheat and oatmeal (instead of margarine and white flour) I usually add sugar. So I’ve been trying to make my snacks more vegetable-y 😉

I’ve found how satisfying a simple lettuce salad can be. I rip a few leaves of lettuce with my hands, add some halved cherry tomatoes, and that’s it. If the mood strikes me (and if my hunger allows me to spend a few more minutes) I add sliced red pepper, sliced cucumber, or fresh mushrooms. However, the piece de resistance from my point of view is the honey mustard salad dressing.

I’m willing to eat almost anything if it comes with honey and mustard. 🙂

I make a small amount in an old jam jar. It keeps for 3-4 salads, easy. And it’s so much tastier to make it myself.

Of course, I’m substituting honey for sugar, but amounts mean something right? 1/4 tsp honey has got to better than a tbsp sugar. And the lettuce probably counts for a lot as well 🙂

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

1 tbsp real mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
dash olive oil
dash vinegar

Place all ingredients together in a jar with an airtight lid. Shake it until mixed. Taste and add ingredients to your liking.

Additional options: You can use balsamic vinegar in place of regular vinegar for a different tang. You can use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of vinegar for added freshness. You can add spices such as dried oregano or basil for an Italian touch. Just don’t leave out the honey and the mustard 😛


Salad Dressing [and salad]

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