Fathers Day weekend and a citrus cake

Today is Fathers Day in South Africa. Over a week ago a arranged a gathering of the clan and everyone obliged except my one sister, Hayley, who already had other plans.

Unfortunately, last weekend’s cold turned into a sinus infection during the working weekend [I am sure I am allergic to air conditioning] and I ended up paying a visit to the doctor yesterday and coming home with a packet of medications including cortisone tablets and an antibiotic. The doctor said I should take it easy over the weekend. I looked around his office, checking to see if there was someone else who had crept into his office but no, he was talking to me. Didn’t he know it was Fathers Day weekend?

Anyhow, I came home after my visit, took my meds, and immediately stuck into making 100 strawberry and vanilla cupcakes. I will let you know what these are for next weekend. I also made a lovely citrus cake for the Dads.

Citrus cake recipe

This recipe is derived from a recipe that was in the Woolworths magazine a few years ago.


250 grams soften butter

250 grams castor sugar

4 eggs

4 egg yolks

5 ml vanilla extract

360 grams cake flour

22.5 ml baking powder

300 ml plain yoghurt

zest of 2 oranges

zest of 1 lime

zest of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In an electric mixer beat the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add two whole eggs and two yolks, beating thoroughly between each new addition. Add the remaining two whole eggs and two yolks, beating again. Add the four and baking power, alternating with the zest and the yoghurt, beating thoroughly between each addition. Pour/scoop the mixture into a prepared baking tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and loosen the sides or the cake will crack as it cools.

This morning I woke up late at 7am. I had a lot to do to prepare for the guests. I had molded the fondant badges for the rosettes for the cake just before I went to bed. I painted them with edible gold food colouring and then cut out round fondant discs. These I also painted gold. I used red and blue fondant to cut strips of 30cm long and 3 cm wide for the ribbons. I gathered these around to form a circular shape and glued the discs and the badges to the ribbon.

Fathers Day Rosette

I then made the icing. I made a quadruple mix as I need some for the cupcake event. I kept back a single mix and added the zest from one orange. I then iced the cake and added the rosettes. I sprinkled the zest of one lime on the top of the cake. It was really tasty.

Fathers Day Rosette Cake

We hosted lunch and it was delicious. I made meilie milk bread and a giant mixed salad and Mr Fox made a corned beef and two roast chickens. We also bought a salmon quiche [I just didn’t have time to make one]. My Mom-in-law brought two salads and a berry crumble pudding with custard. It was a feast fit for a king.

Oh, and there was one other thing. I wrote a 99-word prompt for Charli’s flash fiction prompt: Bouquet’s. Inspiration then hit and I expanded the prompt into a short story of about 1 500 words. It is my first ghost story. If you have time, do pop over to BakeandWrite and read it. I would love to know what you think. Here is the link: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/flashfiction-carrot-ranch-challenge-bouquet/https://bakeandwrite.co.za/flashfiction-carrot-ranch-challenge-bouquet/.

Have a wonderful week.




June is Jumping with Books

Teagan has shared the June book releases on her lovely blog. Thank you, Teagan, for including Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook among these amazing books 😊

Teagan's Books

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lulu on Atonement books Rob Goldstein’s Lulu dances on my Atonement books

Teagan:  Lulu! What the Sam Hill are you doing here?  I’m trying to work on Atonement in Bloom.  You are not part of the “Atonement-verse.” 

Lulu:  I figured you could use my help.  I mean, Lilith is the cat’s pajamas, but she’s snoozing.  You were supposed to finish that novel before spring ended.  I hate to break it to you, Sheba, but you’re about out of time.

Teagan:  Ha-ha… the cat is the cat’s pajamas.  If you don’t skedaddle back to Valentino’s train right now, I’ll sing Don’t Bring Lulu.  I know how you hate that.  How am I supposed to do anything else when you keep doing the Lindy Hop into my head?  Now scoot!

I’ve seen so many great books making their debuts already this month!  Silly me (after all this…

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Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray

Today, Michael and I are lucky enough to be hosting Jacqui Murray, author of the new pre-historic novel, Born in a Treacherous Time, as part of her blog hop.

We are very interested in this period of history and we had a question for Jacqui about her main character, Lucy.

Question: We know Lucy’s species, Homo habilis, died out about the time of this story (1.8 million years ago). Is this story dystopian—meaning Lucy loses in the end?

Look out for the answer to this question at the end of the post.

Born in a trecherous time

About Born in a Treacherous Time – Prehistoric fiction

Jacqui Murray has an amazing sounding new book called Born in a Treacherous Time.

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

Born in a Treacherous Time is prehistoric fiction written in the spirit of Jean Auel. Lucy is tenacious and inventive no matter the danger, unrelenting in her stubbornness to provide a future for her child, with a foresight you wouldn’t think existed in earliest man. You’ll close this book understanding why man not only survived our wild beginnings but thrived, ultimately to become who we are today.

This is a spin-off of To Hunt a Sub’s Lucy (the ancient female who mentored Kali Delamagente, the female protagonist).


Kirkus review

“Murray’s lean prose is steeped in the characters’ brutal worldview, which lends a delightful otherness to the narration …The book’s plot is similar in key ways to other works in the genre, particularly Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear. However, Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown. Even if readers have a general sense of where the plot is going, they’ll still find the specific twists and revelations to be highly entertaining throughout.

A well-executed tale of early man.”

 –Kirkus Reviews

Early reader review

Born in a Treacherous Time sheds light on a period of time that gave birth to the human race, and allow us to bear witness to the harshness and tenacious spirit that is uniquely human—to survive and endure. Readers with a thirst for knowledge and who enjoy historical fiction, this is a must read. I am looking forward to reading book 2 when it is published.

 “I devoured the book in 2 sittings.”

–Luciana Cavallaro, author of Servant of the Gods series and webmaster of Eternal Atlantis

Short extract from Chapter One – Lucy Leaves Her Homeland

“The scene replayed in Lucy’s mind, an endless loop haunting her days and nights. The clear sun-soaked field, the dying Mammoth, the hunters waiting hungrily for its last breath before scavenging the meat, tendons, internal organs, fat, and anything else consumable—food that would nourish the Group for a long time.

But something went horribly wrong. Krp blamed Lucy and soon, so too did Feq.

Why did Ghael stand up?  He had to know it would mean his death.

Lucy wanted to escape, go where no one knew what she’d done, but Feq would starve without her. He didn’t know how to hunt, couldn’t even tolerate the sight of blood. For him, she stayed, hunting, scavenging, and outwitting predators, exhausting herself in a hopeless effort to feed the remaining Group members. But one after another, they fell to Snarling-dog, Panther, Long-tooth Cat, Megantereon, and a litany of other predators. When the strangers arrived, Feq let them take her.

By this time, Lucy felt numb, as much from the death of her Group as the loss of Garv. Garv, her forever pairmate, was as much a part of her as the lush forests, Sun’s warmth, and Snarling-dog’s guidance. Now, with all the other deaths, she could leave his memory behind.

Forests gave way to bushlands. The prickly stalks scratched her skin right through the thick fur that layered her arms and legs. The glare of Sun, stark and white without the jungle to soften it, blinded her. One step forward became another and another, into a timeless void where nothing mattered but the swish of feet, the hot breeze on her face, and her own musty scent.

Neither male—not the one who called himself Raza nor the one called Baad—had spoken to her since leaving. They didn’t tell her their destination and she didn’t ask, not that she could decipher their intricate hand gestures and odd body movements. She studied them as they talked to each other, slowly piecing together what the twist of a hand and the twitch of a head meant. She would understand it all by the time they reached wherever they headed.

It was clear they expected her to follow. No one traveled this wild land alone but her reasons for joining them, submissively, had nothing to do with fear. Wherever the strangers took her would be better than where she’d been.

Lucy usually loved running through the mosaic of grass and forest that bled one into another. Today, instead of joy, she felt worry for her future and relief that her past was past. She effortlessly matched Raza’s tread, running in his steps at his pace. Baad did the same but not without a struggle. His sweat, an equal mix of old and stale from the long trip to find her and fresh from trying to keep up, blossomed into a ripe bouquet that wafted over her. She found comfort in knowing this strong, tough male traveled with her.

Vulture cawed overhead, eagerly anticipating a meal. From the size of his flock, the scavenge must be an adult Okapi or Giraffe. Even after the predator who claimed the kill—Lucy guessed it to be Megantereon or Snarling-dog—took what it needed, there would be plenty left. She often hunted with Vulture. It might find carrion first but she could drive it away by brandishing a branch and howling. While it circled overhead, awaiting a return to his meal, she grabbed what she wanted and escaped.

Feq must smell the blood but he had never been brave enough to chase Vulture away.  He would wait until the raptor finished, as well as Snarling-dog and whoever else showed up at the banquet, and then take what remained which wouldn’t be enough to live on.

Sun descended toward the horizon as they entered a dense thicket. They stuck to a narrow lightly-used animal trail bordered by heavy-trunked trees. Cousin Chimp scuffled as he brachiated through the understory, no doubt upset by the intruders. Only once, when a brightly-colored snake slithered across her path, did Lucy hesitate. The vibrant colors always meant deadly venom and she didn’t carry the right herbs to counter the poison. Baad grumbled when her thud reverberated out of sync with Raza’s, and Cousin Chimp cried a warning.

Finally, they broke free of the shadows and flew through waist-high grass, past trees laden with fruit, and around the termite mound where Cousin Chimp would gorge on white grubs—if Cheetah wasn’t sleeping on top of it.

I haven’t been back here since that day…”

About Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Wild seriesShe is also the author of over a hundred books on integrating technology into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Answer to our question

We know Lucy’s species, Homo habilis, died out about the time of this story (1.8 million years ago). Is this story dystopian—meaning Lucy loses in the end?

Homo erectus (Lucy’s arch enemy) was a violent species of man. Their skulls were significantly thicker than Homo habilis–a sign that they got beat about the head often and survived. He routinely kills to survive, thinks nothing about that strategy, but I leave it open whether Lucy’s species ‘evolved’ into this more robust species or was replaced by them. We just don’t know.

Purchase Born in a Treacherous Time


#Interestingliterature – I am David by Anne Holm

I Am David

This is one of my favourite childhood books [I think I make this same statement every week – I had a lot of childhood favourites]. A story of a lonely and traumatised boy who has spent his whole life in a concentration camp. The location of the camp is not clear in the book but Wikipedia suggests that it is Bulgaria. The camp guards are called “them” by the inmates are are feared and hated. David has never know his real family. His only knowledge of any sort of family relationship is with another prisoner called Johannes. Johannes looked after David and taught him many things.

On day, the camp guard that David hates the most calls him aside and tells him that he must escape that night. The electric fence will be off for just long enough for David to climb the fence and escape into the foliage that surrounds the camp. The guard tells him he has left a bundle of food and other necessities for him in the thicket outside the fence and that he must get on a ship bound for Italy and then travel to Denmark to find his mother. David is very suspicious of the guard and thinks it may be a trick and that he will be shot but he risks it anyway and escapes. David sets off on his journey to Denmark with only the small bundle provided by the guard and his knowledge of several of European languages gained from the other prisoners in the camp.

Image result for I am David journey

Map of David’s journey to Denmark

I am David is a poignant story of a boy’s triumph over fear and persecution and journey of discovery as he learns how to enjoy small things in life like washing his clothes, hair and body, eating and orange and socializing with other children. During his travels across Europe David has an opportunity to save another child and spends some time with Maria’s family.

David also has a chance encounter with a Danish painter, Sophie, living in Switzerland who knew his mother when she lived in Denmark. The painter asks David if she can paint him and while he is staying with her and modelling for her painting, their conversations enable David to glean small pieces of information about his mother, who was very close to Sophie.

One of the interesting themes of the book was David’s relationship with God. He weighs up everything he has heard about the various religions and settles on the God of the green pastures as his chosen God. His relationship with God grows as he travels and he derives courage and strength from it.

One of the most beautiful passages in this book is:

Before he had come to the town he had known about nothing but death: here he had learnt to live, to decide things for himself; he had learnt what it felt like to wash in clean water in the sunshine until he was clean himself, and what if felt like to satisfy his hunger with food that tasted good; he had learnt the sound of laughter free from cruelty; he had learnt the meaning of beauty – and now he must leave it and never return.”

Have you read I am David? What do you think of it?

Have a lovely weekend.