Monday, December 21, 2015

Death

9:36 AM
I should probably apologize for falling off the face of the Earth, but all I'm going to say is that the past few months took on a life of their own and everything came to a head last Tuesday.

I'm not going to get into a lot of details here because on some level, they just don't matter. What matters is the end result.

As most of you know, I deal with a multitude of mental issues every day...bipolar 2, ptsd, anxiety, ocd...and most of the time, I manage. This time, I didn't. In the midst of a depressive cycle, the man that I had fallen in love with decided that he wanted to pursue a relationship with someone else. It was too much. I've been fighting my own demons for months and I was emotionally exhausted. I had nothing left.

So, last Wednesday, while driving into town to do homework with the kids, my brain wouldn't stop ticking. It wouldn't stop thinking about everything and suddenly, I had this moment of clarity..the kind where everything seems to fall into place. I didn't want to live anymore. I wanted to die. This wasn't just one of those passing thoughts. It was as if a lightbulb had gone off in my head. There's no reason for me to be on this planet. I could die and life would go on for everyone else and it would be okay. Everyone had someone. They didn't need me.

I did homework with Ben. I tried to spend time with Roger. I tried not to cry. The one person who I had trusted more than anyone on this planet reached out to me and I told him. Even though just seeing his name caused me physical pain, I told him. He reached out to others who tried to contact me. I ignored them all. I didn't want to be talked out of this. The decision felt right.

When it was time to leave the school, I sat in my car saying goodbye to my children, to those that I love. I sat there crying for a while, the pain raw and consuming. Then, I started my car and headed out of town. As each car passed me, I prayed that it would hit me and I would die. I scouted places where if I drove my car off fast enough, it might roll or hit a tree or cause enough damage that I wouldn't live. As I got closer to home, a truck stopped a ways up in front of me and for a few moments, my foot didn't reach for the brake. I thought if I ran into him, it might kill me and I almost didn't hit the brake. In the end, I did...simply because I wanted to come home and finalize some things...then, the next night, I would do it. Some would say this was me looking for a way out, but it wasn't. I wanted to die. I just didn't want to leave more chaos behind me than was going to happen anyway.

In the end, I made it home alive and since I'm here writing this, you can guess I didn't go out the next day and off myself. Some tiny thing shifted and while every day has had its battles, I'm still here. Still, I'm tired and I'm fragile. Sometimes I'm living minute by minute, not day by day. Mantras that worked in the past are now contorted by what has happened. My brain changes you are loved to you are alone. The battle with myself is one of the hardest that I've fought.

Is there a moral to this story or even a point? If there is, I'd say that it's a simple one. Take care of those you love. Don't accept I'm fine as a response to how are you? Get details. Care enough to listen. Be there for one another and if nothing else, hold someone's hand so that they don't feel as if they're alone as they struggle simply to survive.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Book Review: The Midnight Visitors

12:47 PM 0 Comments
Miriam was glad to be warm and cozy. There were so many people in the town but it was nice and peaceful inside her cowshed. Little did she know that she would soon be joined by Midnight Visitors . . . and not just any old visitors!

Snuggle up and enjoy the warm, soft feel the art and narrative bring to this delightful Christmas picture book with a difference.

~~~~~~~~~~~
I absolutely loved this sweet book about Miriam and how she shared her space, not only with other animals on a cold night, but the baby Jesus himself. The story is perfect for children and I can't say enough good about the illustrations. This is a book that would be treasured by any child. My only regret is that my children aren't young enough to cuddle up and read with. Luckily for us though, they have a baby brother who can enjoy it for years to come.


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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, opinions, and smiles are my own.
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: Love Takes the Cake

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Meet the people who make it all happen—the planners, the photographers, the musicians who have helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples—as they find their own happy endings in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

She’s known for her delicious cakes, but there’s no recipe for dealing with the new man in her life.

Charlotte owns the best bakery in Louisiana, and clients come from near and far for her renowned wedding cakes. And while the wedding scene is Charlotte’s place to shine, her own love life is more dull than ever. After a string of failed relationships—and men who actually were too good to be true—she has decided to throw herself into her craft and leave love and marriage to her clients.

Will is a successful entrepreneur but devotes much of his spare time to caring for his ill mother. He knows he doesn't have much time left with her, so he has done everything he can to guard his heart from relationships. And what girl would understand that he needs to spend all his time with his mother? But when his best friend calls in his help for his September wedding, Will can’t refuse. He's always been there for those closest to him. And when he finds out they don’t have a wedding cake yet, he knows exactly where to go—the bakery owned by the beautiful, mysterious young woman he buys treats from.

Charlotte assumes Will is just another party boy who flirts with all the bridesmaids. But is Will hiding something that explains his behavior? And despite their reservations, will they be able to deny the chemistry between them?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We all know that I love this series and that nine times out of ten, I simply gush over each one as I read it. Nothing new here then. I loved this one. The story is great. The characters are great. The writing is great and if the publisher doesn't do a third year of these, I'm going to be very sad. These are the perfect "guilty pleasure" for a quiet afternoon.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review: Fried Chicken

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An irresistible cookbook featuring more than 50 family-friendly fried chicken recipes--including classic Southern, globally influenced, and skillet- and deep-fried variations.

     Fried chicken is comfort food at its finest. Served alongside a biscuit, atop waffles, or just on its own, fried chicken is one of the most universally loved foods around. In Fried Chicken, Southern chef Rebecca Lang collects 50 of the most tantalizing, crowd-pleasing variations on the classic. There are perennial favorites like Buttermilk-Soaked, Bacon-Fried Chicken Smothered in Gravy; Tennessee Hot Chicken; kid-friendly Chicken Fingers; and even Gluten-Free Southern Fried Chicken. Also featured are internationally inspired recipes, such as Saigon Street Wings, Chinese Lollipop Wings, Mexican-Lime Fried Chicken Tacos, and Korean Fried Chicken with Gochujang Sauce. All of these recipes are impeccably tested, foolproof, and will have the whole family singing the praises of perfectly fried poultry.

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It's been a while since I've sat down with a cookbook and simply drooled. I did that with this one. How can you not love fried chicken in all of its varieties? I honestly don't know and I'm so glad that Ben requested that I pick this book for review. I loved the opening section with all of its tips, tricks, and information. I appreciated the fact that if a recipe called for a side, the author included that recipe as well. The pictures all looked incredibly delicious and I am looking forward to many delicious fried chicken dinners over the coming years.

Want to add this book to your shelf? I don't blame you! It's full of yummy!
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Orange Ginger Chicken

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October. Holy what the heck where is time going Batman! There's something about this time of year that simply screams warm and inviting smells and foods. I'm pretty sure that this orange ginger chicken falls under both of those categories. I know the house smells soooo good when I'm cooking it!



Orange Ginger Chicken:

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c. orange juice
3 Tbsp ginger
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze to remove excess air, seal, and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator over night. Empty bag into crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with rice, if desired.


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Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Review: Alice Hill in Silent Wonderland

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Take a journey through Silent Wonderland to Looking Mansion, where bells toll to warn of the house's cycles, and lavender doors are the only thing to save you from the Centaur that prowls the halls with fiery eyes and an agenda.

Alice Hill arrives at Looking Mansion to support her friend, Buck Glass, while he's on trial for the theft of 6 bullion. Forced to wait outside while Buck testifies, Alice cracks open the doors to watch from the halls. Unfortunately, she's too distracted by the events unfolding in the court room to notice the tolling of the bells. When the shadows start to seep from the walls, Alice knows she must find a safe place to hide or else face the evil that has come to find her.

Alice's adventure through the house and surrounding gardens sees her introduced to a motley crew of interesting characters. Unsure of who is friend or foe, she makes her way back, with her dog Rabbit, to the courtroom and the friend that needs her, all while being stalked by the determined centaur.

Join Alice Hill in Silent Wonderland as she unravels the mysteries of Looking Mansion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's been a while since I broke down a book by the good, the bad, and the summary, but I really feel as if that format is going to work best for this book, so let's jump right in, shall we?

The Good - Fun story that kept me interested right up to the very end. A lot of short story formatted books reveal too much information too soon, but the author kept everything well paced so that the ending was as much of a delight as the beginning.

The Bad - This is advertised as an illustrated story and it just isn't. The pages have a border around them, but it's the same border and I don't honestly consider that illustration. I also felt as if this fit within something else. I didn't really know the characters and that bothered me. If I were the author, I would consider writing more to this and turning it into either a book or a series.

The Summary - All in all, a short, enjoyable read. I had some spare time waiting at a restaurant for someone and breezed right through it. I really do hope that the author goes back and writes more to this because I know that I would enjoy reading about this alternative Alice and her world.

If you want to know the mysteries of Looking Mansion, I can assure you that this book is worth the $2.99 price on Amazon.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review: Last Chance Hero

11:32 AM 0 Comments
The inhabitants of Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica McLeod has opened an office right on Main Street. Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has ended his short career in the NFL and has come home to coach the mighty Pumas of Last Chance High. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot when she admits that she's never seen a football game, isn't really interested in doing so, and, in fact, doesn't know a first down from a home run. Meanwhile, Coach Ryan is discovering that it's not easy to balance atop the pedestal the town has put him on. When this unlikely pair is drawn together over the future of a young player--whose gifts may lie in the laboratory rather than on the football field--they begin to wonder if they might have a future together as well.

With the flair that has made her Last Chance books a favorite among readers of contemporary fiction, Cathleen Armstrong draws on the passion Americans have for the traditions of small-town high school football.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'll be honest. I'd completely forgotten about this series of books. This sometimes happens as the mom of two boys who keep chaotic schedules. When I first started reading, I kept thinking that something seemed really familiar about the book and sure enough, I have read at least one of the other books in this series. In some ways, this made the book feel like coming home. I already knew most of the characters. I can't say that I always understood Jess' stubbornness, but I certainly know people like that so I did enjoy that she was another totally real character. I enjoyed her story with Andy and catching up with everyone else, but again I'm going to be honest. I didn't enjoy the ending. It seemed abrupt and that there were a lot of loose ends. Now, if there's going to be another book in this series, I'm okay with that. However, I did read that this is the last book in the series and it just doesn't feel concluded and that always leaves me feeling unsettled.

Still, if you enjoy every day life in a small town with some serious sports fanatics and love thrown into the mix...I can for sure recommend Last Chance Hero.
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Monday, September 28, 2015

Crockpot Monday: BBQ Meatballs

12:00 PM 0 Comments
Okay, I have to tell you that I am super excited to be sharing this next recipe with all of you. As a sports mom, I'm part of quite a few team dinners and team dinners always require some sort of passing dish. Meatballs are absolutely perfect for this! My football boys like to toss them onto some bread and make sandwiches, so sometimes I throw a bag of sub buns down on the table next to them! I don't think I've ever come home with leftovers!

BBQ Meatballs:

Meatball Ingredients:
3 lb. ground beef
5 oz. evaporated milk
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. italian breadcrumbs
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. chili powder

Directions:
Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place on waxed paper lined cookie sheets. Freeze. When totally frozen, place into gallon sized freezer bag.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:
2 c. ketchup
1 c. brown sugar
1.5 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. onions, chopped

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together. Once meatballs are frozen and placed into the bag, pour sauce over the top, squeeze out any remaining air, seal, and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Place into crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours *or* on high for 1 hour, then switching it to low for 6-8 hours.



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Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre

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The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been slowly easing my way back into book reviews since life got so chaotic around here and I strongly believe that I made a good choice with this book! I loved the characters and the way that the author made everything feel so real. I was drawn into Sophie's life as if she were my best friend. I fell in love with little Lily Cate. Did I mention that there's a bit of mystery and intrigue involved? Honestly, I can't think of a single negative thing to say about this book. I loved the way that the romance aspect of this book didn't overtake the story, but worked alongside it to bring a well rounded book that had a bit of everything.

If you're a lover of historical romance, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to you. As a matter of fact, feel free to head on over to Amazon and pick it up right now. That way we can sit down and talk about it later!


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Monday, September 21, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Sweet BBQ Beef Ribs

12:00 PM 2 Comments
Can you believe that we're almost all the way through September already? It's insane! Since this is my birthday week, I'm going to share one of my favorite dishes... Sweet BBQ Beef Ribs! Yummy! These are geared slightly more towards summer, but who can resist sweet bbq sauce and fall apart meat, especially when paired with a garlic smashed potato and corn? Yum!


Sweet BBQ Beef Ribs:

Ingredients:
3 lb. boneless beef ribs
1 c. favorite bbq sauce
1/2 c. apricot jam
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze out any excess air, seal, and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Dump into crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Add an additional 1/2 c of bbq sauce, if needed.


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Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review: The Memory Weaver

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Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother's grave--and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter's captivity.

When Eliza is finally given her mother's diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage?

Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart. Readers will find themselves swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

-------------------------
This is a tough one for me. I think that I was at least a third of the way into the book before I really started to enjoy it. Up until that point it was what I would dub as only okay. After that point, I started to become more interested and the book did hold me until the end. Overall, I'd say that the book pacing was slow and not enough time was actually spent covering the actual realities of when she was held captive. The entire portion of her returning to that area was actually a very minor thing so I felt a bit misled when it came to the book synopsis.

If I were to rate this, it'd be 3/5 stars. It's an okay book, but it really just didn't wow me.


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Monday, September 14, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Yummy Pork Tenderloin

12:00 PM 0 Comments
Everything is in full swing now and as predicted, it's total insanity with Roger taking 3 honors classes, being in band, and playing football. On top of that, Ben has a full course load and is managing the girls swim team! Between homework and sports, there are days that I wonder if I'm going to see home again!



Yummy Pork Tenderloin:

Ingredients:
2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 c. water
3/4 c. red wine
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients into a gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze out any excess air, seal, and place in freezer.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Place into crock pot and cook on low 4-6 hours. If desired, serve with liquid on the side.


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Monday, September 7, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Turkey Stew

12:00 PM 0 Comments
That's it. Summer is "officially" over here. School starts tomorrow. Realistically, it ended for us before it even began but now that school is upon us, so is game season. Roger has already had two football games and Ben has had a swim meet, so already this mom is busy and hoping that she can keep up. These meals have been a lifesaver all summer long so I just know that they're going to help get me through the fall too!

Turkey Stew:

Ingredients:
2 lb. skinless turkey thighs
1 lb. carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 medium potatoes, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
15 oz. tomato sauce
2 bay leaves

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a gallon size freezer bag. Press out any excess air, seal, and place in the freezer.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Dump into crockpot and cook on low for 8-12 hours. Remove bay leaves prior to serving.


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Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: In Tune With Love

10:26 AM 0 Comments
They’ve helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

April is willing to do anything for her sister’s wedding—until she comes face to face with a guy from her past.

April Quinn is thrilled to be her sister’s maid of honor, until the wedding coordinator quits and the responsibilities get dumped on her. It’s April’s worst nightmare—especially since her sister has more objections and opinions than a lawyer presenting a high-profile court case. When the wedding singer walks out at the last-minute, her sister hires a replacement. When April finds out who the replacement is, she’s ready to call it quits as well.
Because there’s only one person in April’s past that she never wanted to see again, and her sister just handed him a front row seat to the wedding.

Jack Vaughn finally has the career he’s always wanted. After playing in bars and singing in weddings as a struggling musician for half a decade, he’s just released his second album and sales are skyrocketing. But while visiting his parent’s Nashville home the weekend before his first headline tour, he runs into an old friend. When she asks him for a last-minute favor, he can’t bring himself to say no. Even though saying yes means he has to come face to face with April Quinn—the girl who hasn’t spoken to him in years.

And rightly so, since he stole something from her that he’ll never be able to repay.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just two weeks ago, you read about how much I love this series and now I'm back and telling you that this book was only middling for me. I felt as if the characters never truly matured. April also seemed unrealistically naive. Also, while the story was fun, it didn't feel inspiring (which is often the theme with these novellas) and it ended rather abruptly. Usually I walk away from these books with a smile, but this one I walked away just not feeling confident that Jack and April have any real chance for a forever type relationship.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Crockpot Monday: California Chicken

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I know that I've mentioned more than once how thankful I've been to have these meals and I really hope that you've all enjoyed them too! I have a little secret... I'm going to be releasing these as a cookbook with some bonus recipes! I'm super excited. There's still a ton of work to do, but I just couldn't keep it quiet for another minute. Now... on to the recipe!

California Chicken:
Ingredients:
2 lb. chicken breasts
1 c. orange juice
1/3 c. chili sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
*13 oz. can mandarin oranges

Place chicken into gallon size freezer bag. Pour liquids and spices over top. Add green bell pepper. Do not add oranges at this time. Squeeze out any extra air, seal, and place in freezer.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator. Pour into crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. With 30 minutes remaining, add mandarin oranges.


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Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: The House on Moody Avenue

10:11 AM 1 Comments
An eclectic assortment of humanity, with all their foibles and failings, lived in the house on Moody Avenue over a period of ninety years. I tell their stories.

Lisette, her unshakable faith sustaining her, is undeterred in the face of adversity; Julia, a social-climbing snob, sees her world crumble when her children marry inappropriately; Clarence, a Casper Milquetoast bank clerk, absconds with a quarter of a million dollars; Frances, a country girl, comes to the big city to marry a rich man; Sammy, a black man, passes for white.

Beatnik squatters, high on LSD, burn down the condemned ninety-year-old house, leaving it naught but a precious memory in the hearts of those who once sought its shelter.

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When I first picked up this book, I was excited because I'm one of those types who always wish "the walls could talk." I really feel as if homes have personalities and older homes have such wonderful histories. Unfortunately, this book was more the scattered stories of some of the people who lived within the house. The first story was well written, but sadly, it seemed to go downhill from there. The stories felt rushed and less and less interesting. It's not often that I pick up a book and by the time I'm done with it, I'm saddened because the idea was a great one but the reality just didn't hit the mark.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Tangy BBQ Beef Sandwiches

12:00 PM 0 Comments
At the end of summer, our bowling league has a special party where everyone pitches in. This meal is perfect for that! Every time I bring BBQ sandwiches, I come home with an empty crockpot! It's amazing how fast it goes. So, keep this for your family or take it to a potluck for everyone to enjoy!

Tangy BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Ingredients:
1.5 c celery, chopped
1/2 c onions, chopped
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c bbq sauce
1/2 c water
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 lb. boneless chuck roast
*buns

Place all ingredients into gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze out extra air and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Shred beef and serve on buns.


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review: All Dressed Up in Love

10:30 AM 0 Comments
The bridal shop business it took his mother three decades to build, the enterprise that covered his university and law degrees in full, was struggling because he might be part-genius when it came to contract law . . . But corset-style gowns with a mermaid flair? Shoot me now.

Tara Simonetti hated law school, but loved the community grant funding her presence at Temple University’s esteemed school of law. She could not fail. Would not fail. But when a notice for bridal store help appeared on the community notice board, Tara applied for the job immediately. While grants and loans helped pave her way, money for food was scarce. Legal precedence, moot court, and judicial clerking all had their place, but they were nothing compared to Alcenon lace, tucked silk skirts, and a well-placed peplum.

Greg had grabbed her help as the act of a desperate man. Within weeks, he was desperate again, this time to win her heart. But after using community funds to get her degree, how can Tara turn her back on the people who helped finance her goal?

But if she leaves Philadelphia and Greg to return to her small-town in northern Pennsylvania, she’ll be leaving her heart behind. A heart he won, fair and square by posting a help wanted notice on the coffee shop board . . . A heart that filled the missing niche in his mother’s acclaimed bridal store. A heart Greg longed to cherish forevermore.

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Does anyone remember how much I loved this series last year? Well, if you do, you won't be surprised to hear that I'm really enjoying it again this year. Novellas are a great way to get a bit of reading in without it taking up the whole day. This particular book was filled with great characters and great writing. I loved how the bridal shop staff was like a family and they brought Tara into that. Tara and Greg themselves were well written and like many novellas, it left me wanting more...


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Monday, August 10, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Chicken & Veggies

12:00 PM 0 Comments
Summer is winding down, but don't let that stop you from filling up that freezer! If you're like me, school starts and it's even more chaotic than summer break. I have one boy who is the girls' swim team manager and the other one will be playing football and will also be in the marching band. Did I mention that the band is competitive? I'm really not sure when we'll be home!

Chicken & Veggies:

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
15 oz. crushed tomatoes
10 oz. frozen green beans
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. dried terragon
*1 c brown rice, uncooked

Place all ingredients, except rice into a gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze out all extra air, seal, and freeze.

Cooking instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator. Place in crockpot. Add rice and cook, on low, for 6-8 hours.


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review: Infuse

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From the authors of Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails comes Infuse, a recipe book filled with fresh and flavorful oil, spirit, and water infusions.

Authors Eric Prum and Josh Williams’ passion for infusing oils, spirits and waters began one summer nearly a decade ago when the two first made peach-infused bourbon. They were awestruck. The seemingly simple process of adding fresh, local peaches to a Mason jar of Kentucky Bourbon, and infusing the mixture for a handful of weeks had somehow resulted in something so much greater than the sum of its parts.

In Infuse the authors share not only their favorite infusion recipes, but also how to use them in food and cocktails, like a spicy chili oil added to a grilled pizza bianca or a hot toddy spiked with the peach bourbon that started it all years ago. With more than 50 recipes for infusing oils, spirits and waters, Infuse provides instructions, quick tips and plenty of inspiration for how you can make delicious infusions part of your everyday.

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Any excuse to play in the kitchen and in my garden is a good excuse to read a book in my world. Okay, a book is a good excuse to read a book in my world, but a book that adds in those other components? Priceless.  Honest to goodness, this is a book that just encourages me to get in there and play which is something that I don't do near enough. I spend far too much time "cooking" and not enough time just letting my creative side flow. I just need to get myself some mason jars and a few of those fantastic taps that they're producing now!

Honestly... if you like yummy infusions, a bit of fun, and kitchen experiments, you're going to want to add this book to your shelf!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Hungarian Goulash

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I can't believe that summer is almost done. By the time that you, my lovely readers, see this, there will only be a few more weeks left. Both of my boys will be in high school this year and as some of you may know, teenage boys have insane appetites and little patience! Thank goodness for crockpot meals!

Hungarian Goulash:

Ingredients:
2 lb. round steak, cubed
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1.5 tsp. paprika
10 3/4 oz. can tomato soup
1/2 can water
*1 c. sour cream

Coat steak with flour and spices. Place all ingredients into freezer bag except sour cream.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator. Place in crockpot and cook, on low, for 8-10 hours. With 30 minutes remaining, add in sour cream. Serve over noodles.


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Monday, July 27, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Cranberry-Apple Glazed Porkchops

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Whew! Summer is rolling right along! It's been a roller coaster around here and there were weeks that I was so incredibly thankful for the meals in the freezer because there weren't funds in the account. This week, Roger has gone away to his first year at band camp and while I'm so proud of him, my mom heart mourns his growing up just a little. What's better for that then comfort food? Nothing! Okay, maybe a few things, but let's go with this...

Cranberry-Apple Glazed Porkchops

Ingredients:
1/2 c apple juice
2 peeled, cored, and diced apples
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 can whole cranberry sauce
2 lb thick cut pork chops

Instructions:
Place all ingredients into a gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze out any extra air, seal and place into freezer.

Cooking instructions:
Thaw in refrigerator. Place into crockpot and cook, on low, for 6-8 hours.



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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review: The Lost Garden

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Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident, and at thirty-seven she is made guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca. They leave Hampshire for the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast, and settle into Bower House on the edge of the village church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca’s interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the bramble inside. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together the three of them begin to uncover the garden’s secrets. In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell’s vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, who was killed just days before the Armistice was signed. Eleanor retreats into herself and her father starts to notice how unhappy she is. As spring arrives, he decides to hire someone to make a garden for Eleanor, and draw her out of - or at least distract her from - her grief and sorrow. Jack Taylor is in his early twenties, a Yorkshire man who has been doing odd jobs in the village, and when Eleanor’s father hires him to work on the vicarage gardens, a surprising - and unsuitable - friendship unfolds.

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It's been a long time since I've read a book that had me in tears more than once. There's just something about the author's writing style that tugged hard at my heart strings. I felt as if both Marin and Eleanor could have been my sisters, best friends, or even that they represented parts of myself. Both strong women whose lives had handed them hard times, still, they kept moving and I won't ruin the book for you, but just trust me when I say that once you get this book and open the front cover, you won't want to stop reading until you close the back cover. This is one book that will never be leaving my shelves to go onto the library free shelves. I somehow know that I will come back to this book time and time again, reliving those moments, purging those bottled up tears, and smiling at the sweet moments.

If you're looking for a book that will make you feel in all of the ways you can feel, The Lost Garden is one that you should be picking up. You're not going to regret it.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Crockpot Monday: BBQ Pulled Pork

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It's summer and summer means bbq, corn on the cob, baked beans, pasta and potato salads... and just general yumminess. As much as I hate the heat, I do love the food! It just doesn't feel right to try eating these things in the dead of winter. Plus, it's really hard finding good veggies during the off season! Dang corn only growing during nice weather! There is nothing more delicious than fresh corn on the cob or tomato slices... dang it, I'm drooling now. I'd better give you this recipe!

BBQ Pulled Pork:

Ingredients:
2.5 - 3 pound pork roast
1/2 bottle of bbq sauce
1/2 small onion, sliced
 1/2 c water*
Buns*
Place all of your ingredients into a gallon size freezer bag. Feel free to add more onion if it's your thing! My boys aren't sold on onion so I keep the amount down. Squeeze out excess air, seal, and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw and place into crockpot. Add 1/2 cup of water. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred meat and add more bqq sauce, if desired. Serve on buns.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review: Exile

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13-year-old Teodor has found a way to escape from kidnap, how long before he is safely home?
13-year-old Guy Erma has run away from everything he has even known and no longer knows what the future holds.
They escaped through dark tunnels and back alleys but they also discovered a hidden terror that now threatens their entire planet.
Two boys as different as two boys might be. Their adventure has forged an unexpected friendship, but do they really trust each other?
Dare they share their darkest, deepest secrets?

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Poisons...antidotes...Seriously action packed and a book that I couldn't put down. I loved every single segment of this series and I honestly can't wait to convince the boys that they ought to give it a try. Granted, they're not the readers that their mom is but I do manage to sneak one their way from time to time. My advice to all of my readers? Don't let the fact that this book is geared towards the young adult crowd stop you from picking it up. Adults and young adults are going to love this book and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's already on the Amazon top 100 or even top 10 list for this category. 

As for me, I'm thrilled to have found a new writer that I'm going to be watching for in the future!


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