Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Escape from Danger, by Gill Jacobs

I haven't done a book review in a while so I thought I'd share about a book I was given by my church this Easter. It's called 'Escape from Danger,' written by Gill Jacobs and is part of the Faith Finders series, published by DayOne Publications. Buy it here.

The book is set in Israel in the time of Jesus, following the story of Naomi, a pre-teen girl who runs away from home in Damascus because of her abusive step-father. She travels with her friends to Jerusalem for Passover, where she tries to survive by stealing food and sleeping in a barn. She gets very ill, almost to death, but thankfully her friends find her and look after her! But laced through her story is the story of Jesus: his death, resurrection, ascension. As the family stay in Jerusalem working for Saul, they see the followers of Jesus grow and spread the word in the temple and at Pentecost. But what will happen when the family have to travel back to Damascus? Can Naomi accept Jesus' teachings of forgiveness and apply them to her life and those who have hurt her?

The book is well written, though based more on action then description. For me the author has perfectly balanced the Bible story and forgiveness theme with the plot of Naomi's story, so it is a pleasure to read. I finished it in two days, I enjoyed it that much, and I'm now lending it to my friends. This would make a good gift for 10-14 year olds or anyone who enjoys reading!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

I’ve really enjoyed the Easter holidays and the lovely springtime weather. The past two weeks have given me time to really get to know my new camera. I've discovered that I really love photography, and when I did a photoshoot for my younger sister and her friend it made me think that I would like to be a fashion photographer. I also got up really close to a white stag at Knole, and took pictures by the River Thames, which I'll share later. The photos here are from a visit to my granddad’s farm, where there were we visited week-old calves and bluebell woods. The floor was just carpeted with the beautiful purple flowers! I was looking for some wildlife to enter into the RSPB WildPix, but I didn't see any to photograph, as we probably scared it all away!

I wish everyone a Happy Easter, but more than that, a truly meaningful one as you celebrate Jesus amazing Resurrection!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Ultimate {Double} Chocolate Cookies

In our family we've tried a lot of different cookie recipes, all of them claiming to be delicious, and most of them were. But when we found this recipe, it made the best cookies yet! They are richly chocolatey, not over sweet but not bitter either. Texture-wise, they are perfect too: just chewy at the edges, then almost gooey at the centre, even when they're cooled and have been stored for a day. They are so satisfying, yet so more-ish. Guests love them! My younger sister and I have never made any other chocolate cookie recipe since.

I've got a bit of a confession behind this particular batch of cookies. They are not the best I've ever made. You see I wanted to make these cookies so badly that even though we only had caster sugar (and the recipe uses soft brown sugar) I made them anyway. And I didn't use chocolate chunks (we had none of those either.) So although they looked nice, they were, to put it mildly, crisp. Lesson learned: use the right sugar (duh me!) and get the chocolate chunks. These cookies are worth it!  

The Ultimate {Double} Chocolate Cookies
Makes around 20 cookies

125g soft butter
275g brown sugar
1 egg
150g plain flour
35g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
35g good-quality cocoa powder
150g roughly chopped chocolate
or instead the same amount of m&m’s/peanut m&m's/smarties

   Preheat the oven to 180'C/160'C fan-forced, and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
   In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and egg with an electric mixer until smooth. Weigh out the dry ingredients and mix them together, then sift into the butter, sugar and egg and mix to combine. Lastly mix in the chocolate.
   Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls on the tray, allowing about 5cm space for the mixture to spread. Bake for about 10 minutes. It is important to leave them on the tray for 5 minutes afterwards before you transfer them to a wire rack to cool. 
   Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days... if they last that long!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Easter Inspiration

It's been a while ages since I last posted anything as I've been busy (yeah, you guessed it!), and I kind of forgot all about easter until I realised that we are on easter holidays for the next two weeks. So although I haven't made anything for a while, I have been storing up inspiration for you. The following post will be a bit of a mish-mash of pretty, easter-y things, from old favourite bakes to new craft ideas.

Painted Easter Bunny Jars- these look so cute and so effective! Paint and craft cute easter bunnies out of baby food jars and fill them with easter treats to give as gifts.

photo: dotcomgiftshop
Hand Painted Hanging Easter Eggs- another idea for a sweet easter gift, especially as they come in a cardboard egg box and you could hang them out in the garden for an egg hunt!

photo: magpie patterns
Chubby Chirps- use your leftover yarn to create a clutch of chicks nearly as cute as the real thing! They would make such cute easter decorations on the mantelpiece and lovely gifts.

photo: lakeland
Simnel Cake- This is a recipe for a classic easter cake and a favourite in our house and I can't wait to make it again soon.

photo: soulemama
Gratitude Wrap- I know this isn't particularly easter themed, but I was really pleased to receive one of these from my mum a while ago, and I've got into writing letters and cards this spring. pdf here.