A Family Vacation/Adventure to Remember ๐Ÿšฃโ€โ™€๏ธ โ›บ๏ธ ๐ŸŒŠ

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I have finally, finally sorted through these pictures from our OARS trip in August๐Ÿ˜ณ!

If you happen to have seen the OARS trip that my hubby and I went on back in July, then you already now what fans we are of this organization.

It has taken me this long for a couple of reasons. 1. I have been fortunate enough to be extra busy this summer. I have been traveling and playing with my kids๐Ÿ˜Šย And, 2. mine was the only camera on this trip, which meant that my other family members would grab my phone and took far more pictures than my capacity to sort through!

I have lots of this:

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And this, to deal with!

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So….You can see part of why this took so long!

This was a true family vacation. My hubby, our two kids, one boyfriend, hubby’s parents and me, set out for Moab, Utah. Our plan was to visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, for the first couple days, then meet our OARS guides for a 5 day, 4 night white water adventure.

We flew from Seattle to Salt Lake city and rented two cars to transport the seven of us, and our gear, to Moab (a four hour drive). After stocking up our VRBO and getting a good night sleep, we all piled into one car for the 30 minute ride to Arches. To accomplish this task, two of us had to ride in the back of the van. The smallest ones got that honor!

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Yes, I have a coffee mug with me! This was not the highlight of the day, to be sure ๐Ÿคข. But is was worth it to see this gorgeous park!

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Of course, you can’t take climbers to the rocks and expect them to stay on the ground.

 

We had a blast climbing and scrambling up the formations!

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Even Grandpa could not resist doing some climbing!

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That evening, the kids and I decided to hike to the iconic Delicate Arch, to view it at sunset. My son set a rapid pace, so we got there in plenty of time!

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We hiked back in the dark and got ready for Canyonlands the next day.

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Canyonlands is beautiful, no doubt! But I have to say, for me, Arches was a little better! Of course the kids found plenty to occupy themselves๐Ÿ˜Š

Alex loves to boulder, so she had to work her way over the top of this ledge.

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And Ryan couldn’t pass up this crack climbing opportunity. I am sure that we received some odd looks from the other visitors ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Finally, it was time to meet our guides and start our trip down the Colorado River. Our path would take us through Canyonlands once again, but at the water level. We began with a couple days of motoring down the river. We had a lot of ground to cover before finding the rapids.

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We were treated to amazing views!

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And then the skies opened up and it pouredย โ›ˆย ๐Ÿ’จย ๐ŸŒŠย I am talking biblical proportions here! We all grabbed our rain gear and huddled, under what little cover there was available. But we had to keep motoring down river to make it to our first camp site.

Very wet!

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And, look at the color of the water! It was full of sediment streaming down the red rocks. The guides, who spend every week in this area, said they had never seen the water so red.

 

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Nevertheless, they set up camp and made us dinner๐Ÿ˜Š

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OARS trips are known for their amazing food preparations, even in the middle of nowhere! We had delicious dinners and breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) was perfect, every time๐Ÿ˜‹

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Our first night was wet, but fun!

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The next day was cooler than most, nice if you are in the desert, in August. We did appreciate the cooler temps.

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We did dock along the way and take some time for hiking around. Our guides were very knowledgeable about the local geology and the former indigenous tribes. We saw glyphs and old ruins that were the way of life thousands of years ago.

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The weather dried out and the hot temps returned showing us amazing sunsets and abundant wildlife. I especially loved the bats at twilight.

 

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While the guides made dinner, we would pitch our tents and play games. My son is throwing a horseshoe in the picture below, That is some follow through ๐Ÿ’•

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One night, I was taking some panoramic shots when the kids got involved.

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Each night we were treated to spectacular sunsets and moon risings.

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Our last day was rapids day! Sadly, I was too busy trying to survive to take any pictures of us actually navigating the white water. It took all day, and I swallowed a lot of the Colorado in the process ๐Ÿ˜†. Absolutely the best day of the trip! We did not flip, which is great, but we did go vertical a few times๐ŸŒŠ

All great trips have an ending! We motored to the extraction point.

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And loaded up into two, very small planes!

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Ryan jumped into the copilot’s seat.

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Our final view of Canyonlands came from above, making our trip complete!

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This is the “confluence”, where the Colorado meets the Green River. We were treated to a view that is unique due to that thunderstorm from three days prior! Really amazing๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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If you have hung on this far, then thank you! I do hope I have not driven you crazy with my wacko family adventures! If you get the opportunity to travel with OARS, you will not be disappointed. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

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Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: August, 2018 Challenge: Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿฐ

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Oh My! It is August 31st and the last day for me to get this challenge completed ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. Nothing like waiting to the last minute๐Ÿ˜‰

I got incredibly lucky this month, because Sally chose an easy challenge for our August installment. If you have ever baked a cookie, and made frosting, then this is a fun and simple project! In fact, the hardest part of this challenge was choosing which of Sally’s flavor combinations to make. ๐Ÿ˜Š

My hubby’s birthday is also in August, so I chose flavors that I knew he would like. I made Sally’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, as written in the link above. The only difference was that I included white chocolate chips, along with the semi sweet ones, and made mine a 9 inch, 3 layer cake.

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I also made her Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, yum ๐Ÿ˜‹

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After that, which was very little work, all I had to do was assembled and decorate!

I kept the decorations simple, as this was for my husband (who does not like sprinkles๐Ÿ˜ณ)

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This flavor combo was a hit with the whole family, and it was a fun alternative to the standard ice cream cake he usually requests for his birthday.

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Next month’s challenge involves choux pastry! So I will have to be on top of my game in ย September! ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿณ

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Adventure Travel and an Apology๐Ÿ’•

I am a terrible blog buddy! ๐Ÿ˜žย I am so sorry that I have not been paying attention to all your amazing and wonderful posts. I do have a feeble, but credible defense.

My adult children are both between jobs and done with college. Which means that when they call me up and say “mom, do you want to climb/paddle board/go on a hike/see a movie…” I say “YES!” You see, I know that this is a rare opportunity for me. Next summer, they will be working, and/or in graduate school, in other states. I am milking this for all I can while they are nearby! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The hubby and I have also been traveling quite a bit too. We recently went on an OARS trip for our anniversary in July. I have mentioned the OARS company when I wrote about adventure traveling. They organize and partner with local groups to set up adventures all over the world. This time we headed up to Bear Camp, at Chilko Lake in Northern Canada. This beautiful and remote property is owned and operated by Brian and Ashley, a married couple that hosts adventures all over the world! You can find out more about them at Iroamtheworld.com.

Granville Island, Vancouver

The first part of this adventure required us to drive up to Vancouver, BC. Having lived most of our lives in Seattle, we have been to Vancouver many times. But this was the first time we have ever stayed at Granville Island. What a treat!!! We were sad that we only had one night there.

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The island has running paths, ferry rides, paddle boarding… So many activities and in the heart of this amazing skyline.

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Check out these silos! The art work is vibrant and impressive.

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I found this building to be so unique.

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This pirate ship cruises around the island to the delight of many squealing kids!

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The local street market reminded me of Pike Place in Seattle. It is full of fresh foods, unique gifts and specialty foods. I took way to many pictures, but will spare you!

 

Getting to Bear Camp

Did I mention that this is remote?๐Ÿ˜ณย We boarded a small plane in Vancouver, and flew to Williams Lake. The plane held 18 passengers, with the pilots that makes 20 people total.

 

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Once at Williams Lake, we then pilled into a van and drove for another 4 hours to the camp. Many of us cited this bus ride as the low point of the trip. Still worth it to get there! But, a long dusty ride!

Arrival Time!

The main lodge, where we have our meals and meet for our activities, had our tent assignments and morning coffee drink orders! Yes, this is glamping!!

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This is tent #8, our home for the next 5 days ๐Ÿ˜Šย as seen from the lake.

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And, inside the tent…a king bed with lamps, heated blanket and beautiful wooden furniture.

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Some of you may be wondering about the facilities. Well, check out this gorgeous shower (one of three available for the guests). Each is hand crafted with the stones from the lake.

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And check out our view from the deck! The water is clear, clean (no filtration needed) and COLD ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. Canadian mountain water, all the way!

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The Activities

We only had three full days and wanted to spend as much time on the water as possible. We decided to brave the class I and class II rapids in the inflatable Kayaks on the first day.

It was actually raining a bit for most of the day. But we were supplied with full wet suits and were never cold!

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I was not good at this! And did find myself in a tree (or two!) but it was a blast!

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The second day we decided to attack one of the hardest hikes we have ever been on!

This is Mount Tuillan, it is 12 miles round trip, so that is 6 miles with 3000 ft gain, and back again!

 

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Finally, the views were starting to pay off about half way up!

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And then the top!

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We are smiling here, but actually suffering. So sore and the mosquitoes were the worst part!! ๐Ÿ˜ซ

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The biting bugs were so bad in fact, that we jumped on some paddle boards to get out onto the lake once we returned from this hike. Our theory was that there would be no bugs out there!

Look how clear this water is!!

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We really enjoyed the calm water, and the peaceful, relaxing time on the lake. Unfortunately, Dennis still managed to get a large bite while in the middle of the lake!

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After killing my upper body kayaking in the trees, and my lower body hiking the mountiain, I wanted something fun and simple for the last day. Fishing!! ๐ŸŽฃ

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We landed 8 fish between the three of us! We released them, but it was so fun watching the trout hit the lures. The water was that clear!

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The one activity that we did not do was horse back riding, but this is also available on this trip.

Now for something important, the food!

Of course we have to talk about the food! One of the hallmarks of an OARS trip is that they provide all the meals. And, they don’t skimp on that!

Our first dinner was served right on butcher paper, down the center of the table! I love this idea, and plan to steal it๐Ÿ˜Š

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Another dinner!

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Desserts were delicious too! ๐Ÿซ

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Dennis loved this vegan fudge.

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And, eggs Benedict anyone? Don’t you always make that when you go camping๐Ÿ’•

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All great things must come to an end, and it was time to make our long, long way back to civilization. Fortunately, we were spared the four hour bus ride this time! We took a float plane back to Vancouver. This was my first time on an amphibian aircraft and I was so excited!

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This time it was a family of 4 and us! 7 whole people on this flight, counting the all important pilot๐Ÿ˜Š

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Gorgeous views!

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And back to Vancouver

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From here is was just a simple 4 hour drive back to Seattle (thank you border control ๐Ÿ˜ฌ)

 

This was our second OARS trip and we enjoyed it just as much as our first, a decade ago!

When is the next one you ask? In 5 days!!!! Yep, our entire family -including a boyfriend and grandparents, are heading to Moab to raft a segment of the Colorado!

Thank you for hanging in there with me this summer!๐Ÿ’•

 

A Guest Spot on “Loving the fifty something” blog!๐Ÿ˜Š

HI Everyone!

First, let me apologize for being behind on your awesome blog posts! I am back now and hope to catch up, but I have to admit that I have been chronically behind for months now! ๐Ÿ˜ณย And, we have three trips scheduled for August! I really hope to read your awesome words soon!

While I was traveling, Sam, from Loving the fifty something, published a guest post featuring me. She was kind enough to include me in her “amazing over 50’s” series! If you have not met Sam yet, she is a amazing over 50 herself! She surfs and mountain bikes and has a fabulous attitude about aging! Check out her blog and connect with an outstanding person!!

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Thank you Sam ๐Ÿ™!

You can see her write up, (and then follow her blog!) ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

https://lovingthefiftysomething.com/2018/07/26/amazing-over-50s-guest-post-5/

 

 

Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: July, 2018 Challenge: Hand Pies ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฅง

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Technically, the challenge was for apple hand pies. But, I was really impressed by the gorgeous cherries in the store that day, so I decided to make both varieties ๐Ÿ˜Š

I mentioned before, in the cherry pie challenge from last year, that I am not much of a pie baker. It’s not really so much that I am intimidated by making pie crust, I am just more of a crumble fan. But that cherry pie last year was so good, thanks to Sally’s recipe and, this is the point of a challenge is it not? To try new things๐Ÿฅง!

I started out by making a double batch of her homemade pie crust. This is a really simple recipe that includes both shortening and butter. I have also made her all butter crust in the past, and that is delicious too. I opted for this version due to the hot weather we are having in Seattle. The all butter recipe would have been more temperamental than I would have liked that day!

Like most pie crust recipes, you start by cutting in the cold fat until it is the size of peas. My “peas” are always huge! More like lima beans. Then cold water is drizzled in until the mix starts to clump.

When the mix is ready (not too dry or wet) it is formed into a disk, wrapped with plastic and chilled. I like to do this the night before.

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The next day I went climbing outside, then came home and made the fillings. First the apple: Pretty much a classic apple pie filling. A couple apples, sugar, butter and spices all cooked down and cooled.

Then the cherry filling. Sally has many to choose from and I went with her simple cherry pastry pie filling. The only change I made was to use half bing and half rainier cherries. I like the balance of sweet and tart that these two varieties contribute to the pie.

Cherries were combined with sugar and lemon. This cooked down and was thickened with a cornstarch and water mixture.

Once the fillings were completely cooled, it was time to roll out the chilled pie dough. I used a 3.5 inch cutter and some smaller shapes to make some decorative cut outs.

I had to be careful to chill in between each step to keep the dough cold. This took some time! Finally, it was time to fill the hand pies.๐Ÿ

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The tops went on, and pressed to seal to the bottom pastry. The top was brushed with egg wash and the vents were cut. Finally the decorative cut outs applied, and sprinkled with coarse sugar.

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Then the cherry hand pies were assembled.๐Ÿ’

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I tried to make the decorations different to distinguish the apple from the cherry.

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All the hand pies went into a 375F oven for about 30 minutes. While they were baking I prepared Sally’s Homemade Salted Carmel Sauce for the apple pies, and a simple Vanilla glaze for the cherry ones.

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By the way, that caramel sauce is amazing on ice cream ๐Ÿจ!

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The verdict: Both the apple and cherry hand pies were quite tasty!๐Ÿ˜‹ย My husband and I were partial to the cherry one, just a bit more! In fact, I may have to make a full cherry pie when we get back from traveling later this month ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿฅง

Give this a try! the recipe is easy to scale up or down, and many of the components are freezable and easy to make ahead. Enjoy!!

Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: June, 2018 Challenge: Brownie Baked Alaska ๐Ÿจ

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For the month of June, Sally challenged us to make a retro baked Alaska. The twist: no cake base! Sally admits that she does not like cake combined with ice cream. My son is the same way. I also never eat cake mixed directly with ice cream, I don’t like the soggy cake texture ๐Ÿ˜ณ

So I knew my family would love the brownie, cake and merengue combo. This is such an easy dessert to make, and the entire thing can be assembled, frozen and then torched right before you serve it to your guests. I decided that Father’s Day would be a great time for us to try this out.

There is a little prep work that needs to be done the night before. The ice cream needs to be shaped and frozen. I purchased my ice cream, but I do like to make it from scratch, perhaps next time! This 9 inch, 2.5 quart mixing bowl will hold 3 quarts of ice cream. I chose mint chocolate chip since it is one of my hubby’s favorite flavors. The ice cream is softened and placed into a mixer with a paddle attachment, and beaten until creamy. The softened ice cream is placed into the mixing bowl, which has been lined with plastic wrap. This will make unmolding much easier! Wrap it tight and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours. I put mine in overnight.

The next day I made one of Sally’s brownie recipes. She has many to choose from, you will find the one you like๐Ÿ˜Š. I went with theย Chewy, Fudgy Homemade brownies๐Ÿ˜‹ย So glad I did! Super easy and so tasty!

First melt butter and chocolate together and let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugars, eggs and vanilla.

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Add the flour, cocoa and salt

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Fold in the dry ingredients and a cup of chocolate chips

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Bake in a 9 inch pan, which fits the circumference of the bowl.

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Let this cool completely, then add it to the bowl of frozen ice cream. Invert the brownie, rewrap and keep frozen while you prepare the merengue.

 

Set the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over simmering water. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved, then place in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

 

Generously spoon the merengue onto the unmolded ice cream and brownie bombe.

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This can be frozen until you are ready to serve, or you can get out your handy torch and go for it! No torch? No problem, just use the broiler function in your oven. But don’t walk away!!

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The left overs stayed in the freezer for several days and still tasted great! We enjoyed this so much, and it was so easy, that I decided to serve this at the second Yoga Retreat that I catered this past weekend.

I went with the individual cupcakes for the Yogis ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. The only difference was that the brownie batter was placed into a lined muffin tin, and there was no pre-freezing involved.

The cooled brownie cups were unwrapped, a scoop of ice cream was added, then the merengue as previously described. I assemble 8 and placed them in the freezer for after dinner.

The yogis had fun torching their own desserts ๐Ÿ˜ƒย .

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1529732028525This was a fun, easy summer dessert ๐Ÿจ. Another great idea from Sally’s Baking Addiction!๐Ÿ™

The Killed Conscious, Book Review ๐Ÿ“š

Today we celebrate the latest release from author Jordan Antonacci! ย  The Killed Conscience

The Killed Conscience cover-1 (2)

 

 

Investigative journalist Emilee Weathers is hungry for the perfect story and not too particular about how she has to get it. Asked to help find new evidence for a convicted serial killerโ€™s appeal, she heads for the mountain town of Pigeon Forg

ย When she discovers the body of a recent victim, the questions come thick and fast. Has she happened upon the work of a copycat? Is the real killer still out there? And is there anybody in this neck of the woods she can trust?

 

 

My Review

The Killed Consciousย 

Jordan Antonacciย 

4.5/5 stars

Emilee Weathers is fresh out of college, with her newly printed degree in Journalism and in a relationship that has lasted too long past its prime, when she gets a call that will change everything.

Detective Nichols from Knoxville PD has reached out to Emilee because of her investigative skill set, and her ties to her home town of Tennessee. A dangerous convicted serial killer has been granted an appeal and may be released unless Emilee can uncover new and compelling evidence against the notorious Valentine Day Killer, better known as VDK, Patrick Liftmen.ย 

This is the dream shot Emilee has been waiting for, a chance to prove to herself, and her father, that journalism was the right choice. A chance to build her career and an opportunity to be reunited with her childhood friend, Sebastian. As she dives into the details of the case, she realizes that everything is not what it seems. Emilee begins to doubt that the real killer is in custody, and as new victims are unearthed, begins to question her role in the investigation.ย 

Can Emilee find the proof needed to stop a monster from reentering society? Can she find the strength to end her abusive relationship? And, can she sort through her unresolved feelings for her childhood crush?ย 

A Killed Conscious is the second novel by Jordan Antonacci. I confess that I have not read his first book and did not know what to expect of his writing style. What a pleasant surprise! Antonacci balances these storylines beautifully. He easily created suspense and thoughtful characters which propelled the storyline forward. I found myself wondering where the narrative was headed and which, if any, of these characters were truly trustworthy. This was a fast read, which for me is a signal of a great story. I constantly wanted to know what happened next, and there were twists and surprises right up to the last sentence.ย 

The ending is abrupt, so much so that I contacted Jordan to check that I had the entire manuscript! After he assured me that this was, indeed, the end of the novel, I understood and appreciated the tactic.ย  I will be reading the sequel! I look forward to learning more about Emilee, and enjoyingย Antonacciโ€™s writing, as he continues to develop as an author.

ย 

Purchase your copy today!

You can pick up your copy and read more reviews through the links below!

Connect with the author, Jordan Antonacci

Jordan’s blog is Mrhushhush on WordPress.