Book Review: Little Red Riding Hoodie

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:30 AM

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bullies. Friends. Boys. Shakespeare. Demonic Dogs. Evil Spirits. You know, Sixth Grade.
Sixth grade is hard enough. When the school bully is on your case because you got the lead in the play instead of her, when the cutest boy in the whole class might actually like you but never makes a move, and when your dad is an alcoholic and you have to cook, clean, and take care of your little brother, the last thing you need is more trouble.

But Sally Prescott has more trouble than she ever imagined when she starts having strange dreams of demonic dogs, magical keys, and a wolf-headed spirit bent on her destruction. Her best friend knows a secret that may help, but she refuses to tell, claiming Sally made her promise not to.

As Sally's dreams start bleeding into reality, she realizes she is the only who can save her family. With a little bit of magic and a lot of determination, she'll get one chance to change her destiny and theirs. If she succeeds, she'll solve her problems at home and at school. If she fails, she'll lose everyone she ever loved.

Turns out sixth grade is tougher than she thought.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you've been keeping up with my reviews lately, you'll know that John is one of my new favorites in the Kingdom of Writing. I loved the first two books of his that I read and this one only falls slightly short of those.

Let me start by saying that I loved the characters in this book. I could connect with younger versions of myself and those that I know. I think that everyone will be able to see a bit of them in one of the characters within the book. Each one has their own personality and is well developed.

Here's my problem though. This book is supposed to take place during the sixth grade and these are not sixth graders. As mom to two teen boys, I'm frequently reminded of what happens during these years and I think that this book would have been much better set during the ninth grade. There is nothing like early high school drama and angst. Things like classes performing Shakespeare also would fit better into this not to mention the kissing and dating. I know that things are more progressive now, but I still don't know many parents who allow their 12 year olds to date.

My only other complaint? The story is really well written, but the reader is left not knowing why this entire thing happened to Sally. In their world is it normal for giant dogs to pop out of your dreams and into reality?

Other than that, I loved this book. The story is interesting and held my attention all the way through. I could sympathize with Sally's home life and problems. I absolutely loved her best friend, even if she was more than a little big gung ho at times. John is an incredibly talented writer and I promise that if I get my fingers on any more of his books, you'll be seeing reviews for them!

Photobucket

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Crockpot Monday: Chimichangas

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:30 AM

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds top round
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water
1 T dried minced onion, or 1 diced fresh onion
*1 can tomatoes and chiles--drained
*1 can diced tomatoes--drained
burrito-sized tortillas, and whatever toppings your family likes

Directions:

In the morning:

Salt and pepper your meat on all sides. Plop it into the crockpot and cover with 1/2 cup of water. Cook on low all day---I cooked this for 8 hours.

After your meat has cooked, remove it carefully. Skim the fat out of the liquid at the bottom of your stoneware, and remove excess juice. You really only need about a cup of juice left in the crock.
Put your meat back inside, and shred it with two forks. The meat should come apart easily. If it doesn't, cut it in pieces and cook on low a few more hours.

Add the can of drained diced tomatoes and drained tomatoes and chiles.

Turn your crock to high to warm everything up.

Prepare your toppings.

When the meat is hot again, start making your little chimichanga packets. Steam a few tortillas at a time by stacking them on a plate and covering with a dampened paper towel. Microwave for 60 seconds.

Take a steamed tortilla and plop a spoonful of meat in the center. If you use too much meat, it won't fold correctly. Fold the bottom and top of the tortilla, then the sides. The sides need to overlap a bit, so the meat doesn't escape.

Heat up some oil in a big skillet. When it is super hot, carefully put the chimichanga into the oil, seam-side down. Fry until golden brown (about 1 min) then flip.


Top with cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.


Photobucket

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Book Review: Eating in the Middle

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:30 AM

Friday, May 20, 2016

In her inspiring New York Times bestselling memoir, It Was Me All Along, Andie Mitchell chronicled her struggles with obesity, losing weight, and finding balance. Now, in her debut cookbook, she gives readers the dishes that helped her reach her goals and maintain her new size. In 80 recipes, she shows how she eats: mostly healthy meals that are packed with flavor, like Lemon Roasted Chicken with Moroccan Couscous and Butternut Squash Salad with Kale and Pomegranate, and then the “sometimes” foods, the indulgences such as Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Marshmallow Whipped Cream, because life just needs dessert. With 75 photographs and Andie’s beautiful storytelling, Eating in the Middle is the perfect cookbook for anyone looking to find freedom from cravings while still loving and enjoying every meal to the fullest.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Okay guys, you cannot imagine my excitement over finding this available for review. If you read my review of Andie's memoir, you'll know that I already think of her as my soulmate in food. Now, I get to see just what she's done in her own kitchen to help with her weight loss journey and I'm super duper excited! I should say that I was because I have already gone through this cookbook, but the reality is that even after going through it, I'm still just as excited.

(Warning...a spoiler for the memoir ahead...skip the next paragraph if this is going to bother you.)

First, let's start at the beginning...she dedicated the book to Daniel. Now, at the end of her memoir, they were no longer together, so you know me..I want to know what happened! Why? Well, you could say that I'm nosey or that seriously, after her memoir, I felt as if she were a dear friend. Either way, I went to her site and discovered that they're engaged! Woohoo!

Yes, I know that none of that has a thing to do with cooking or recipes or cookbooks, but hey, it was exciting to me! To get back to the cookbook though, let me just say that I can easily see this becoming one of my favorites. It's filled with delicious recipes that all appear to be incredibly easy to prepare. As a busy mom/editor/site owner/fill in the blank, I don't always have a ton of time to experiment in the kitchen so this is great for me! Plus, she included two full sections of more decadent recipes that are perfect for that special occasion or to share with others. Did I mention that the photography makes everything look absolutely delicious and that Andie is just as down to earth in this book as she is in her memoir? I can only hope I can do the same with mine!

My recommendation? The pairing of both of Andie's books would make an amazing gift to someone who loves both memoirs and cookbooks. I can't imagine anyone not loving both of them!


Photobucket

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Fear - The Best Friend of Depression

Posted by Katrina Roets at 11:14 AM

Thursday, May 19, 2016

For the past few days, I've had multiple posts running around in my head, but I wasn't in a mental or emotional place where I could sit and write without it sounding like I was having some sort of breakdown. I want to start out by assuring everyone that I'm okay. I'm just having a really rough week, but I'm still here and I'm still fighting and that's the part that really matters. Now...on with the post....

Yesterday something happened that put me into a near panic attack like state for almost the entire day. It got so bad that I ended up with a migraine, which oddly enough may be the best thing that could have happened, but we'll get to that. So, what happened?

A friend of mine took the day off from work to celebrate his wife's birthday. He made her breakfast in bed, gave her amazing presents, and perhaps the best gift of all, he gave himself to her for the day. The day really was all about her. I'm sure you're shaking your head wondering what this could have possibly triggered. Fear. It triggered the biggest bout of panic and fear that I've had in a long time.

You see, I have a long history..39 years worth at this point of being tossed aside by nearly every single man who I have ever let get close to me and seeing what he was doing for his wife made me
afraid. I was afraid..and still am, though I'm working on it..that I will never have anything like that. I will never have anyone love me that much.

One thought..seemingly innocent.."I would so badly love for someone to love me like that." turned into a day of hell. My mind spiraled to the point where I was sure that it was impossible. If people saw me the way I see me...well, surely there isn't a single soul out there who could possibly love someone as messed up as me. I cried. I tried to fight my way out of it, but the harder I fought, the deeper I sank. I sank until I could no longer function and I gave up. I had a migraine, no rational way to explain the panic I was feeling, and nobody who I would completely subject them to the entirety that is the insanity that is my brain. So, I gave up. I shut down the laptop and I laid down on the couch. I tried to watch a movie, but I couldn't focus. My mind wouldn't stop. It kept right on going with its lies and nonsense... "You have an upcoming anniversary with someone and I bet they don't even know the date and they're not going to do anything special for you. You'll never be loved like that."

I don't know what suddenly changed. The movie was about over (Life of Brian, for anyone curious. I hadn't seen it yet and thought funny might help) and in the final scene, they start singing this ridiculous song, one I've heard over and over again and suddenly something clicked. All day long, I'd been thinking that I was jealous or envious, but the reality is that I was afraid. None of those three emotional states are rational, but somehow fear is easier to deal with. I know fear to be a way that depression keeps its hold. Depression lies and uses fear to help.

Fear is the reason that I don't lose weight. Fat is a buffer against rejection. When my ex-husband cheated on me and it led to our divorce, my grandmother asked me if I thought it had anything to do with my weight gain throughout our marriage. It hadn't, but the question was out there and as I laid there last night, silence in the house, I realized the fear is keeping me from a lot of things. I don't lose the weight because what if I did and nothing changed, nobody wanted to be with me. I don't go out (partially due to finances) because what if I met someone (male/female/whatever) and I liked them and then I never heard from them again?

Fear and depression pipe up in their twin voices with a single message. It's okay because you don't deserve those things anyway. Nobody could possibly love you or want to be your good friend with your past, with how you are. It's an incredibly hard mental prison to break free from. I've given my heart fully and openly, showed my entire self to just a few people ever and of those, two of them stopped talking to me and have pushed me completely out of their lives. Fear uses that as evidence that it's right.

Knowing that fear is trying to become the motivator in my life is a blessing. Remember I said that the migraine may have been the best thing that could happen to me? This is why. It allowed me to shut out all of the outside noise that bombards so many of us every day. No Facebook, no Twitter, no music, nothing but me and when I can get to the core of me, I can find the problem. Knowing the problem allows for me to find a solution. As you may have heard, knowing is half the battle. The other half is the fight to shut down those voices, but if Fear is the enemy of love, the solution is love. Loving myself and my flaws, acknowledging them but not letting them rule me. It's not going to be easy. I have over 30 years of conditioning to conquer. Still, if I can love myself, take care of myself, and yes, even spoil myself, I'll be doing the best thing that I can do.


Photobucket

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Crockpot Monday: Beef and Broccoli

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:30 AM

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ingredients:
1 lb thin beef (I used rib eye)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T white wine
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T brown sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 bag thawed broccoli florets (to add later)
Rice

Directions:

Add all of your liquids to the crockpot. Chop up the garlic and add to mixture. Stir in sugar and red pepper flakes. Slice meat into thin strips and coat it well with the mixture in the crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, depending on the cut of meat. Thicker pieces will take longer to tenderize.


An hour before serving, add entire bag of broccoli,cover and cook on high for another hour or so. Stir carefully to coat broccoli and serve over rice.


Photobucket

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Book Review: A Contest of Succession

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:30 AM

Friday, May 13, 2016

Nine contestants. One crown. Destiny awaits.

Garrick Tremaine was happy with a simple life as a soldier. But a mysterious dream has drawn him to Twin Falls, where the duke has died with no heir. A competition to claim the throne is open to anyone, but to win it, an aspirant must answer an incomprehensible riddle. Convinced it is Garrick's destiny to rule Twin Falls, his new friend, the oddball magician, Liliana Gray, pushes him to enter the contest.

But Garrick isn't the only one seeking the crown. A sanctimonious sorcerer, a hard-headed general, and a conniving criminal all aim to succeed the duke, and a disgraced elder from a foreign city has secret knowledge that may thwart them all.


As the contenders close in on the mysterious Blessing of the Fey, a goblin invasion, a dark god, and an enigmatic puppet master pulling strings from afar all stand in the way, and Garrick's destiny may actually be to die -- an unwitting pawn in A Contest of Succession.

An epic fantasy that continues the saga begun in The Sword and the Sorcerer!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
.....and we're back with book 2 of the Usurpers Saga! I don't know if it's possible, but I liked this book even better than the last one! Spoiler...book 3 is still being written and it's killing me! Hurry up, John!

Right..deep breathes...

I honestly enjoyed this book more than I did the first book, if that's even possible. I saw someone say the one thing that they didn't like about this book was the fact that there were no male/male relationships in it. That startled me because honestly, it wasn't something that jumped out at me. It wasn't a main plot point in the first book. It was just one of those things. This couple happens to be made up of two guys. No biggie.

This book is made up of an entirely new set of characters except for Liliana (I love that name so much!) and Vicia. We truly get to see the person that Liliana is as she steps into one of the main roles and we get to dislike Vicia even more in her role. I loved so many parts of this book but it's hard to talk about them without giving away plot points. Let's see...the characters in this book are just as well developed as the ones in book one. You really feel as if you know them and as if you're watching everything happening.

If I had one complaint it's that the Liliana (I'm assuming it's her) on the cover is not the way she's written in the book..or at least not in my mind's eye. Still, that is seriously picking at lint to find something. The storytelling kept me reading, even when perhaps I shouldn't be. I cannot suggest this series of books any higher. Honestly, I'm hoping that I get to read everything that this author has ever put into print.

Photobucket

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own. 
If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons:

Rejection Scars

Posted by Katrina Roets at 2:43 PM

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It’s a tough afternoon around here right now. Insecurities are screaming in my head and I’m really struggling with shutting them down. It gets this way sometimes. It gets this way when I let my head go somewhere it shouldn’t go. In this case, it went down the path of someone in my world could possibly be more than they are now. A few days ago, we had that conversation because it had occurred to him too and in the end, he rejected me on that level. There are always reasons why it’s not because of who I am…I don’t live close enough, he’d never be brave enough to pursue anything, etc.. Heck, someone even told me the other day that they really wanted me sexually but instead they unfriended me on Facebook because I was so far out of their league. I’ve heard that one before. That was the line guys in college told me years later when they confessed to liking me.

The reality …at least my reality… is that I don’t believe any of it. After years of being told I was stupid and nobody would ever want me, that I wasn’t wanted by my own parents, it’s stuck. That’s the voice I hear inside my head with every rejection. I destroy myself by repeating it out loud to myself. You’re stupid. You’re fat. You’re ugly. Nobody is ever going to want you, not even just for any kind of physical relationship that doesn’t involve marriage or anything like that. It’s become a mantra on the days where I’ve done something like this, believed there was a possibility.

You’re stupid. You’re fat. You’re ugly. Nobody will ever want you. Your own family didn’t want you. You’re a nobody. Invisible. Only seen when somebody wants something and then thrown away again. Used. Discarded. Worthless. You’re going to be alone forever. Nobody will ever want you.

Nobody is saying those words to me anymore except for me and on days like today they come faster and faster until it’s like a blur inside my own head. When I was a child, I had a closet that was above our stairs. There were two rows of rods and clothing hanging in it and I would climb up into it and hide. Nobody could find me there (not that they were looking) and I was safe. I miss that closet. I miss having a hiding place where I can curl up until it all stops.

When I lost my hiding spot, I started hurting myself. I’d scratch until I nearly bled. Anything to stop the voices in my head. Anything to distract me from the emotional pain. Did you know that a glass dildo when swung at fleshy parts of the body can leave amazing bruises? I do. I’ve done it. I’ve sat and just hit myself in the same spot over and over again in an attempt to get rid of the emotional anguish. It works, right until you stop swinging and things like pants hide the marks you’ve left. Always hide the marks you’ve left. It’s safer than people asking you questions. If you’re lucky, you’ve worn yourself out enough that you sleep. Sleep can help. It quiets the chemicals in the brain.

Still, here I sit, remembering that not having expectations, not having dreams, not thinking yourself worthy and all sorts of horrible things is sometimes safer than letting yourself have those things because when time and time again you don’t get them or you get rejected, you’re brought right back to this place and while it’s familiar, it will never be comfortable.

I long for the times when I had the self-confidence to truly believe in myself and that things were possible. Not just people things, but me things. There are days when I wake up and I smile and I really believe that I am an amazing person, that I can do the things that I want to do, that I’m not crippled by the contents of my own head. They happen and remembering that gives me small bits of hope on the really bad days. I try to remind myself of just how far I’ve come and that I can’t give up. I may be my own worst enemy but sometimes I have to also be my own biggest supporter. It’s hard. It’s hard to pick yourself back up when you’re the one who knocked you down, but sometimes you’re all you have because you live in a world where people just don’t understand. It’s easy to be sympathetic to someone who has cancer or lost a limb or is somehow physically crippled. It’s not so easy when what’s been destroyed is a piece of your very soul and when due to no fault of your own, your own brain chemistry hates you and tries every chance it gets to cause more harm.

I don’t talk about my life, my world, my struggles with very many people anymore. After opening up completely to two people who in the end not only rejected me but cut me completely from their worlds, I’ve shut down. I’ve hidden away here in my little village. Most people only see the surface, they see what they’re comfortable seeing, and don’t have to see anything more. Now again, I tried opening up to someone and I’ve gotten hurt and another brick goes up but maybe it's progress that it isn't an entire wall.

You’re stupid brilliant. You’re fat unique. You’re ugly beautiful. Nobody will ever want you. Your own family didn’t want you. (They’re idiots.) You’re a nobody princess. Invisible Loved. Only seen (by idiots) when somebody  an idiot wants something and then thrown away again. Used Needed. Discarded Wanted. Worthless Precious. You’re going to be alone here forever for a very long time. Nobody Somebody special will ever want you forever. Don’t give up yet. 


Photobucket

If you like what you've read here, please share it with others using these buttons: