Crockpot Monday: Chipotle Pulled Pork Soft Tacos

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:26 AM

Monday, December 26, 2016

The day after Christmas and a day that I am so, so thankful for my crockpot. The boys come back from their dad's today after spending yesterday with him and his family. I love having them back, but we're always on the worn out side of things! What better then than tacos that can cook away in the crockpot all day and all I have to do is serve up the deliciousness while we relax in front of the tv with a movie?

Chipotle Pulled Pork Soft Tacos:
Ingredients:
4 to 5 pound pork shoulder roast/butt
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced into rings
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon chipotle chili powder
3 Tablespoons honey
1 cup orange juice (about 2 oranges, or you can use bottled)
1 cinnamon stick
2 limes, juiced (to add at the very end)
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves (to add at the very end)

Suggested toppings:
corn tortillas for serving
4 cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated cheese
2 avocados, diced

Directions:

Rub salt and pepper on all sides of the meat, and brown in olive oil on the stovetop in a large skillet. Using kitchen tongs, place the browned meat into your crockpot. Using the same skillet, caramelize the onion and garlic until transparent and remove from heat. Whisk in the coriander, cumin, chipotle chili powder, honey, and orange juice. Pour this mixture evenly over the top of the meat. Toss in the cinnamon stick.

Cover, and cook on low for 10 hours, or on high for about 5 hours. Shred meat completely using two large forks and stir in fresh lime juice and cilantro leaves.

Serve in warmed corn tortillas with your desired toppings.

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Crockpot Monday: Chili Verde

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:19 AM

Monday, December 19, 2016

Does your family have a favorite winter time meal? For mine, it's without a doubt, chili. Every once in a while though I like to mix it up and instead of a "normal" chili (as in what my kid's expect), I do a chili verde.

Chili Verde:
Ingredients:
4 pound chuck roast, or pork shoulder/butt
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small onion, diced
1 (4 ounce) can diced chilies
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
10 tomatillos, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sage
1 Tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Directions:

Trim any visible fat from the meat, and place into your crockpot. Add diced bell pepper and onion. If your tomatillos have the leafy-outer skin left on them, take the skin and stem off, and dice finely. Add them to the crockpot. Pour in the contents of the diced chili can and the tomato can. Add spices. Stir a bit to get the spices down the sides of the meat. Add chopped cilantro to the top.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, high for 6, or until meat shreds easily with a fork.


Serve with rice, corn tortillas, shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream and some refried beans.

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Book Review: Lucifer's Harvest

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:09 AM

Friday, December 16, 2016

Lord Gilbert Talbot must provide soldiers for Prince Edward's battle in France. He wishes his surgeon--Hugh de Singleton--to travel with the war party to tend any injuries. Among those on the road is Sir Simon Trillowe, Hugh's old nemesis, who had once torched Hugh's house.

Finding himself in the same war party, Hugh resolves to watch his back in the presence of the knight, who is still holding a grudge. But it is Sir Simon who should not have turned his back....

When Trillowe's body is found, many suspect Hugh has wreaked revenge on his adversary. To clear his name, Hugh must once again riddle a reason for murder.
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Sometimes there is nothing better than to get lost in a good book and this book provided me just the escape that I needed. I've only read one other book in this series. After reading this one, I'm going to have to try to figure out why that might be.

While this book only clocks in at 148 pages, that isn't a bad thing. It's the perfect size to tuck into a bag or to curl up with on a cool evening. While the author uses historical terms in the book, he also provides a fantastic glossary at the start of the book so you won't be lost among strange words you may have never seen before. As for the story itself, it moves along at just the right speed and while I had figured out parts of the mystery, parts of it took me by surprise. As a mystery lover, I appreciate this. Books where I feel clueless or far too smart just aren't as much fun to read.

My recommendation? Pick up this book or heck, the entire series! This book stands perfectly on its own, but I highly suspect that you'll enjoy the entire series and with those cold winter nights ahead, why not build up your books to be read by the fire pile?

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

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Crockpot Monday: Carnitas

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:13 AM

Monday, December 12, 2016

I cannot wait to use this recipe this week! It's always a favorite, super yummy and lovely to come home to the smell of!

Carnitas:
Ingredients:
2 pounds pork shoulder
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
7 cloves garlic (whole and intact)
1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 cup beef broth
corn tortillas
sour cream, salsa, sliced avocado (optional)

Directions:

Use a 6 quart crockpot. In a small bowl, combine the salt and cumin. Rub mixture all over the pork, then place into the slow cooker. Add whole garlic cloves. Squeeze on the citrus, and pour the beef broth evenly over the top.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the pork shreds quite easily with a fork.


Shred meat fully and serve on warmed corn tortillas with desired toppings.


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Crockpot Monday: Asian Peanut Butter Pork

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:08 AM

Monday, December 5, 2016

How do you feel about peanut butter in entree style dishes? For me, it was a no go but I'm slowly coming around. I'm always a little bit proud of myself when I break out of a misconception of something..like that peanut butter only belongs in desserts!

Asian Peanut Butter Pork:
Ingredients:
1.5-2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 onion, sliced in rings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional garnish)
1 lime, cut in wedges (optional garnish)

Directions:

Use a 4-6 quart crockpot. Put onion slices into the bottom of your crockpot. Add the pork on top. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, and peanut butter. No need to stir.


Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-6. 1 hour before serving, flip the meat over in the crockpot to allow the other side to soak up the sauce. Garnish with chopped peanuts, and serve with lime wedges


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Book Review: The Illustrated Book of Sayings

Posted by Katrina Roets at 11:53 AM

Friday, December 2, 2016

From the author of the New York Times bestseller, Lost in Translation, come this collection of 52 artistic renderings of sayings from around the world that illuminate the whimsical nature of language.

Ella Frances Sanders's first book, Lost in Translation, captured the imagination of readers with its charmingly illustrated words that have no direct English translation. Now, the New York Times-bestselling author is back with an illustrated collection that addresses the nuances of language in the form of sayings from around the world. From the French idiom "to pedal in the sauerkraut," (i.e., "to spin your wheels,") to the Japanese idiom "even monkeys fall from trees" (meaning, "even experts can be wrong"), Sanders presents sayings that reveal the remarkable diversity, humor, and poignancy of the world's languages and cultures.

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To say that I love this book is an understatement. There is absolutely nothing that I dislike so I can't even do my usual the good, the bad, the summary. It's all good! I love the illustrations and how the author compares these incredible sayings from around the world with ones that I recognize from my own vocabulary. I've even used some of these in comments and posts around social media. In the time that I've had this book, I've found myself picking it up and reading it again and again. I don't think it's ever going to grow old. If you have a language lover in your life, this would be the most amazing gift. Seriously. It's one of my favorite things right now.

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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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Crockpot Monday: Apple Cinnamon Pork Roast

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:04 AM

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holy cow, where has the year gone? It's already the end of November! Football is done and basketball is starting for one child and jazz band is already a few weeks into practices for the other one. December is insane with concerts, games, and holiday fun! Thank goodness for my crockpots!

I don't know about you, but nothing screams holiday more than the scents of apples and cinnamon...okay, I suppose nothing screams fall more, but since there's no snow on the ground yet, I say it counts!

Apple Cinnamon Pork Roast
Ingredients:
2-3 pound pork-loin roast
1 onion, sliced in wedges
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 granny smith apples, chopped (to add later)
1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix (to add later)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (to add later)

Directions:

Use a 5 quart crockpot. Put onion wedges into the bottom of your crockpot, and add the meat on top. Sprinkle dry spices on all sides of the meat. Add apple and lemon juices. 

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. 20-30 minutes before serving, remove meat from crockpot and let sit on a cutting board. Put chopped apples (no need to peel), apple cider vinegar and the whole bag of coleslaw into your crockpot. Stir. Either slice or shred the pork, and add back to the crockpot.
Salt and pepper to taste and cook for an additional 30 minutes.


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Book Review: Taste & Technique

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:30 AM

Friday, November 25, 2016

James Beard Award-winning and self-made chef Naomi Pomeroy's debut cookbook, featuring 95 lesson-driven recipes designed to improve the home cook's understanding of professional techniques and flavor combinations in order to produce simple, but showstopping meals.

Combining elements of Julia Child's classical aesthetic and ambition to teach the world how to cook with Naomi Pomeroy's own unique history, style, and verve, this book is an inspiring guide for home cooks who want to up their game in the kitchen. Pomeroy demystifies professional techniques by paring back complex recipes to the building blocks necessary to create them. Her "master lessons" approach will appeal to home cooks of all levels who want to improve their skills. And her nurturing, self-deprecating tone is a welcome change from the ethereal fine-dining tomes that home cooks can't actually cook from or the snapshots of a specific restaurant meant to celebrate the chef's cult of personality. Beginning with sauces, and working from straightforward to more complex recipes, Pomeroy presents a collection of dishes you want to eat every day, including salads, vegetables, fish, pork, meat, and desserts--along with the tools and techniques you need to make each meal shine.

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Y'all know by now that I cannot resist a good cookbook and this one just looked so pretty and full of great information! I'm a pretty good cook, but it's something that I'd love to really improve upon. For example, my knife skills are absolutely atrocious! This book promised to not only have amazing recipes but to also be educational, so I said sure! send it my way!

Let's start with the good...

The pictures look absolutely amazing and I could have spent hours just drooling over them. I also really enjoyed the author's introduction to the book. She seemed like someone I could be friends with and I find that I appreciate that about cookbook authors. Down to earth is important to me. As for the recipes, they all sounded amazing!

The bad -
The author chose to lay her recipes out in paragraph format which can make it more difficult to follow a tricky recipe. Also, this really is a book that you have to cook your way through because those lessons are hidden within the recipes. For me, it would take me months to do this so it's just not realistic.

The summary -
This is a beautiful cookbook and if you have the time to work your way through it -and- you enjoy "fancy foods", you're going to love it. As for me, it's going on my shelf to properly explore once I don't have two teenage boys taking up every bit of my free time.

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

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Crockpot Monday: Orange Honey Tilapia

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:36 AM

Monday, November 21, 2016

Back with more tilapia! Plus, who can resist the combination of orange and honey? Not this girl! Plus, a friend of mine has amazing hot honey that he sells. Of course, he'll be the first to tell you that local honey is best! With the weather cooling off, you may not be able to find a local farmer's market, but I encourage you to give it a shot!

Ingredients:
4 tilapia filets (frozen is just fine)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 (10-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
aluminum foil
salt and pepper to taste at the table

Directions:

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Lay a length of foil on your countertop and place the fish directly in the middle. Dribble balsamic vinegar and honey over the top of each fillet, and place a handful of drained mandarin oranges on top.

Fold over foil and crimp the edges to form a packet. Put the foil packet into your slow cooker, and put the lid on. You can make individual packets, but you really don’t need to.

Cook on high for two hours, or until fish flakes easily with a fork


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Book Review: The London Cookbook

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:59 AM

Friday, November 18, 2016

From an award-winning food writer comes this intimate portrait of London--the global epicenter of cuisine--with 100 recipes from the city's best restaurants, dessert boutiques, tea and coffee houses, cocktail lounges, and hole-in-the-wall gems--all lovingly adapted for the home kitchen.

Once known for its watery potatoes, stringy mutton, and grayed vegetables, London is now considered to be the most vibrant city on the global food map. The London Cookbook  reflects the contemporary energy and culinary rebirth of this lively, hip, sophisticated, and very international city. It is a love letter to the city and an insider's guide to its most delicious haunts, as well as a highly curated and tested collection of the city's best recipes. This timeless book explores London's incredibly diverse cuisine through an eclectic mix of dishes, from The Cinnamon Club's Seared Aubergine Steaks with Sesame and Tamarind to the River Cafe's Tagliatelle with Lemon, and from Tramshed's Indian Rock Chicken Curry to Nopi's Sage and Cardamom Gin. Striking the perfect balance between armchair travel and approachable home cooking, The London Cookbook is both a resource and keepsake, a book as much for the well-travelled cook as for the dreaming novice.

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Oh London...one of my favorite cities in the world. I was only there a brief time, but it never got old. The mixture of architecture, the mixture of people, the food...and now this cookbook has come home to me and I love it.

The book is far more lovely than the image above shows. Really, I'm impressed with the binding. It's just lovely. (Sorry, I seem stuck on that word today!) While not every recipe includes a pictures, those that do will have you drooling so be sure to put down some sort of protection for those pages. I do have to warn you though that these aren't recipes that you're going to come home from a long day at work to prepare. These are special occasion recipes or for those days when you just want to experiment with something new. I will assure you though that these are not the bland dishes that the British are "known for". They all look completely scrumptious and yes...lovely.

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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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The Price of Sexual Harassment...

Posted by Katrina Roets at 1:54 PM

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This is the photo that started it all. 
Sometimes something happens and it takes a while before you see the ripples that it’s caused. This morning, I posted a picture that was taken at a photo shoot that I did about 4 years. Less than an hour after I posted it, this conversation happened.

J : I remember playing with those when they were new. Lol How have you been?
Me: Playing with what when they were new?
J: Your boobs.
Me: omg…seriously?
J: Um, yup.
Me: Well, I’m just fine and it’s good to see you’re just as much of a pig now as you were during that one week mistake.
J: If that makes you feel better about putting your cleavage on public display. It was an off-hand comment and not meant to offend. I apologize if it made you self-conscious. You look lovely as ever and I hope you’re enjoying life at this stage. Good luck.

Less than an hour and a man that hasn’t spoken to me in 20+ years opened up a conversation with me like that and then went on to try to shame me into posting a photo that showed me feeling beautiful, a feeling that I’ve struggled my entire life to capture. 
I was angry and felt violated. He had tried to take something from me that had been so hard for me to achieve.  Yet, at the same time, as I read over this conversation for the hundredth time, there is a part of me that is whispering that I over reacted..was what he said really that bad? Maybe it was really just a joke?

You see, as a woman, to some extent, I’ve been trained to turn a blind eye to this kind of behavior. After all, boys will be boys, right? Nobody said anything to the friend of my mother’s who used to grab me and pull me close to him. Nobody said anything to her boyfriend that used to touch me in ways that made me uncomfortable. Nobody said anything to the man at the convention who walked around me taking pictures of my boobs because they were “on display for the public” in a corset.

Except, this kind of behavior isn’t okay no more than it would be okay if I walked up to a former classmate after 20 years and grabbed his crotch. That wouldn’t be okay. It would be me violating him and this morning, this “man” violated me with his words. He made me feel like an object, or in this case, a pair of objects. He made me feel dirty and I had done nothing wrong. This is not okay.

What he doesn’t know is that I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I was ugly, that I wasn’t worthy of affection or love. He doesn’t know that it took me months to build up the courage to agree to do that photo shoot. He doesn’t know that the night that I did it, I had been on my feet for over 24 hours, had an awful sunburn, and felt like I would be made fun of if those pictures were ever seen.  He doesn’t know that it took every ounce of courage I had to walk into that hotel room or how hard my friend probably had to work to make me smile and laugh. He doesn’t know the insecurities I dealt with while I waited for those photos to come back and how every day that they didn’t, I was sure that it was because I was too hideous and that there wasn’t even a single good one in the batch. He doesn’t know the terror I felt when I posted just a few of those photos to Facebook because I was sure that nobody would like them and that I would be ridiculed.

He doesn’t know about the friend of my mother’s, her boyfriend, or the random con guy. He doesn’t know that I stopped running in high school because some “man” made a comment about how my boobs bounced when I chased after my younger brother on the playground. He doesn’t know that while I put on weight for medical reasons, there were years that I didn’t try to take it back off because I had an ex-husband who never noticed if I made an effort and that deep down I’m afraid that if I do take it off, I still won’t be beautiful or god forbid, I may shrink but my boobs won’t and that will open me up to even more comments about them.

He doesn’t know that my doctor has recommended breast reduction surgery and while I want to do it, I’m afraid to because it feels sometimes as if my boobs are the only attractive things about me. Few comment on my eyes or my mouth or anything like that. He doesn’t know any of these things because instead of talking to me, instead of having a real conversation about me, he opened up with how he once played with my boobs when we were teenagers.

He forgets that after that incident, I ended any contact with him. He made me uncomfortable at the age of 14 and today shows that he’s still incredibly capable of it. So, did I over react? No. What he did isn’t acceptable behavior and it’s behavior that sadly is far too common.

As it was happening, I shared it with a male friend of mine and he responded that I’m lucky that it doesn’t happen more often, that certain female friends of his get things like this every time that they post a picture. It makes me incredibly sad that this goes on every single day, a million times a day, and there are people who just brush it off. Please let me make something clear. My friend didn’t brush it off. However, far too many people do.  Far too many shrug it off and say oh, he was just joking or don’t be so sensitive. There are those who say well you asked for it because of the type of photo it was.

Let me make this clear. It is never okay to sexually harass another individual. I don’t care if they’re
standing nude on your front porch (though if they are and it’s not someone you know in a bizarre joke, you should probably not answer the door and just call the police), it isn’t okay. It is never okay to take away someone’s safe place. That’s what happened to me. In one short message, I no longer felt safe in a place that was my own. In one short message, I was taken back to all the other times when something like this happened and nobody did a thing.

So, I did a thing. I called him a pig and unfriended him. I posted a long post to my Facebook account about the incident, where I didn’t name any names or point a finger at him. Who did it didn’t matter. What mattered is that it happened and that it never should have. I told one person in private who it was because they asked. If others ask, I’ll tell them as well. Nobody needs a predator in their backyard. I could have done more. I could have reported him. I could have pm’d the 125 mutual friends that we have, all of which graduated from the same high school as us. I didn’t. Why? Honestly, it wouldn’t have made a difference.  I removed him from my world and that’s what I needed to do. It wasn’t a hard decision.

Writing the post wasn’t either. I needed people to know what had happened, to understand how it affected me. One short message will affect me not just in those moments but for perhaps days to come. I should be writing a book right now and instead, I’m writing this because I need to get some of this out of my head so that I can move on. I’m writing this because maybe I’ll have the courage to share it and maybe, just maybe it will cause someone to stop and think before they harass someone else. I know that some people just don’t understand that something like this isn’t something women just brush off and go about their day. If it hasn’t happened to you, it can be hard to understand. The problem is that this kind of thing started happening to a lot of us before we were even in high school. I spoke with a friend of mine today who talked about how she was groped around the age of 14. I had a boy try to rape me when I was about 13. I had comments about my breasts before I graduated from high school. This isn’t a new thing and it certainly hasn’t let up.

So I have some favors to ask of you…

1)Parents, teach your sons that this isn’t okay. It isn’t okay to treat a woman like an object or to talk to them the way that I was spoken to today.  I use a simple example with my sons and it’s one that I mentioned earlier. I ask them how they would feel if a random person came up and grabbed their crotch. Neither of them liked the idea.

Your sons should be just as appalled that someone would grope a woman’s boob as they are at the idea of someone randomly grabbing their crotch. Men, your sons mirror your actions. So, be the man that you want your sons to be.

For those of you with girls, teach them that this isn’t okay and it is okay to stand up for themselves and for their friends. Heck, boys ought to be taught the same thing. Stand up for your friends, female or male. Stand up for yourself. Nobody stood up for me when I was younger. Today, I stood up for myself but that hasn’t always been the case.

2)This follows right up on that last paragraph and this goes for everyone. Looks aren’t everything. Boobs aren’t everything. Muscles aren’t everything. There is a heck of a lot to a person. Don’t hyper-focus on one aspect of a person. I have someone special in my life who reminds me that I am the 3 B’s: I’m beautiful. I’m brilliant. I’m brave. It’s not just about the outside. Sure, the man thinks I’m beautiful on the outside, but he loves my spirit, my soul, my sense of humor. He loves me…and the beautiful portion of those 3 B’s covers all of those things.

3)If you see this happening, don’t just stand there and watch. I don’t care if it’s happening to a total stranger. Step in. Speak up. Let the person know that what they’re doing is not okay. Let the person that it’s happening to that they’re safe. Be someone’s safe place if they need it. I opened this whole thing with a comment about ripples. One short message can cause ripples that none of us see until they’re there. I expected to take a few deep breathes, remove the guy, and move on with my day. Instead, nearly 2000 words later, I’m here writing this.

If this happens to someone you know, don’t be afraid to check in on them. Make sure they’re okay. I just had a friend call me and say hey, I’ve got your back. Let me know what you need from me. That’s a treasure worth more than gold.

4)Get angry. This kind of thing isn’t okay. It’s never okay to objectify someone or to make someone feel like they’re not a person. Every single person on this planet deserves to be treated respect. So, get angry with those who don’t treat you and others the way they ought to be treated.

5)Be the solution. Yep. I’m asking you not to be part of the problem. Anyone remember “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson? Change starts from within. It starts from within every single one of us and so that’s how I’m going to close this whole thing out. I’m going to ask each and every one of you to be the change that we all need to see in this world.

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Crockpot Monday: Mahi Mahi

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:29 AM

Monday, November 14, 2016

Someday I hope to travel the world and I'm hoping to make it to Hawaii. I have a longing to lay on the beach with a book and to be able to just watch the waves hit the shore. Of course, I burn like a vampire in the sun, but maybe by that point they'll have invented some sort of invisible bubble that I can sit in that none of us will be able to see... Until then, I can make mahi mahi because it's the most tropical sounding fish I can think of...

Ingredients:
16 of mahi mahi or other favorite fish
Favorite fish seasoning
Fresh veggies such as broccoli, asparagus, and spinach.
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Wash all your veggies, and while still damp place them into the crockpot. Rub your favorite seasoning into your fish and place it on top. Pour lemon juice over top.

Cover and cook on LOW for approximately 2-3 hours. Mahi Mahi is cut fairly thick. If you are using thinner fish (such as tilapia) check after 90 minutes.


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Book Review: Wonder Woman Legacy

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:00 AM

Friday, November 11, 2016

Wonder Woman: Legacy was written to help fight breast cancer and perhaps give Wonder Woman her greatest challenge. Wonder Woman has a secret -- a sixteen year old daughter.

Well educated and rigorously trained by Amazon instructors and her mother, Elissa is the smallest of her people and has only a fraction of her mother's power.

Desperate for her mother's elusive approval, Elissa takes the garb of Wonder Woman and one of Themyscira's most advanced jets and runs away from home to assume her mother's role as Wonder Woman, and hopefully return home a hero and prove she is all Amazon.

However, things in Patriarch's World are not as simple as she had hoped and an encounter with one of her mother's most powerful enemies makes her realize how truly unprepared she is to follow in her mother's footsteps and assume the mantle of Wonder Woman, and suddenly her quest to become a hero becomes one to discover who she really is.

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I'm not going to lie. I've had this book waiting around to be reviewed for a few years now. Somehow, in one of the fits of organizing, it got laid to the side and was only recently rediscovered. Once I found it, I had to dive right in. Here's what I discovered:

While the book had a bit of a slow start for me, once I really got into it, it was a great read. It's the story of a mother's love for her child and of a child coming into their own. Elissa's struggles, while set in the realm of being a superhero, are ones that most of us can relate to and remember going through. Some of us are still struggling to discover ourselves. As for her mom, I can relate as I watch my own boys grow up and have to step back sometimes and let them discover things for themselves.

Unfortunately, I have some bad news for all of you out there. While I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves super heroes, has children, knows people who have children, etc, this book appears to be out of print. Amazon has 2 copies being sold in their used section. I also couldn't find a website for the author. There is an email address in the front cover of the book so hopefully when I contact him, I can get some more information. If I do, I promise to report back!

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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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Crockpot Monday: Lemon & Dill Salmon

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:21 AM

Monday, November 7, 2016

I know that Salmon isn't for everyone. It's one of the stronger tasting fish. Still, it's full of yummy goodness for your body so if you haven't had it or if it's been a while, why not give it another shot? I think this one will be a true test of if I can get the boys to eat fish...

Ingredients:
1/2 pound to 2 pounds of salmon
2 lemons
12 ounces of fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon dill
1/4 cup vegetable broth

Directions:

Wash your spinach and drop it into the crockpot. It will look like a lot, but it really shrinks down. Place your fish onto the bed of spinach, and sprinkle it on each side with the spices and herbs. Slice the lemons and layer them on top of the fish and on all sides of it. Add the broth.

Cook on LOW for 2 hours, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.


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Book Review: Ghost Board Posse

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:05 AM

Friday, November 4, 2016

When five boarders dream of winning the biggest boarding competition ever - they have no idea what horrifying adventures lie ahead! While on tour they are enticed to enter the most haunted castle in England by an internet stranger. Once inside, they embark on a journey of terrifying mysteries and vicious secrets while trying to keep it all together for their world wide tour. Join the team as they ollie and grind throught this gruesome tale!

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A couple of weeks ago, I attended MeggaCon in Jackson, Michigan and I happened to meet the artist on this series of books. It just so happens that he's also married to the author! When he asked if I'd be interested in checking out their series of young adult books, I didn't even consider saying no.
With everything going on in my life right now, this book was just what I needed. Filled with great characters, great adventure, and great writing, I didn't want to put it down. If I had one gripe, it's that there were grammatical errors throughout the book. They probably wouldn't be anything that most people would notice, and certainly not the young adult set that this book was meant for. It's just that they jumped out at my editor's eye and you know me, I have to mention that sort of thing.

Now, for the realllllly good parts. This book is the first in a series and I'm going to be lucky enough to be seeing these fine folks again at another convention very soon so fingers crossed I come back with the other books to share with you!

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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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Life Lessons

Posted by Katrina Roets at 12:46 PM

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

For the past few days, I've had this post in my head and yet, as I go to write it, that same mind is completely blank. This happens when the fog of depression begins to lift. The things that I had thought about while it covered me seem to dissipate with it. Still, I want to put down what I can and I hope that by sharing it, it will help those who care about me and those who may be having similar struggles or know someone who is. So...let's see what my brain wants to share...

Last week was absolutely horrible for me. You see, I was supposed to be spending the week near someone that means the world to me and a few weeks ago, that trip had to be cancelled. I'm not sure that I realized just how much I had been counting on that trip as a chance to recharge. At least I didn't until Monday.

You see, for as long as I can remember, I've set targets...points to get to...when I drive, I mentally break the trip down into little chunks so that it doesn't seem so long. When I have a period of time where I'm insanely busy, I find some point to get to. I tell myself that if I can just get to that point, it will be okay. It helps me keep going when I'm tired, rundown, and just want to give up. This trip was that point for me. If I could just get to the hotel, everything would be okay. I wouldn't have any responsibilities or anywhere I had to be.

Then, that was snatched away from me and I fell apart. That's the only way to put it. I woke up Monday morning and all day, my brain kept track of where I should be on the last stretch of the drive, of what I'd be doing in the hotel room, how long until I saw my friend...I mentally tortured myself and no matter what I tried, I couldn't stop it. Bipolar brain was fully in control and the more I fought it, the harder it got. I spent so much time in tears just wanting things to be different but knowing that there wasn't anything I could do.

Then, it got worse. When I wasn't thinking about what I "should" be doing, I started thinking about death. No, almost obsessing about it. I wasn't at any risk of killing myself then. I kept thinking about what would happen to various things if I were to die...my websites, my belongings...I became obsessed with the idea of creating a Death file on my laptop. I wanted to fill it with files laying out what I wanted to have happen...how I'd want Nick's original drawings returned to him because I truly feel that I'm only a temporary caretaker of them...how I'd want Geek-o-Rama offered to Brian and then if he didn't want it, I'd want a post placed on the site and left there for 6 months before shutting the site down. Every 30 minute drive in and out of town for 3 days, I obsessed over this.

Something changed on Wednesday evening...around the time that my friend would have been leaving me to go home...the fog started to lift. You see, in my head, the week had been planned out and when it reached a point where I would have been alone again, somehow it started to get easier. In some ways, it was as if I was living one week out loud and another in my head. At that moment, I came to some realizations and they've been floating in and out of my head since then.

Two paragraphs I said that I was at no risk of killing myself then, but that's not really true. I wasn't going to slit my wrists or take all of my medication at once, but I was killing myself...just slowly and in a way that nobody would realize what I was doing. I was going between starving myself and eating so horribly that it would eventually kill me. I stopped taking care of me and was so lost in the fog that I didn't notice. I was wandering blindly, desperately hoping that someone would reach out and give me something to hold onto.

It didn't happen though. Even though I pretty much disappeared from social media, didn't do the site's work for the week, or talk to anyone, nobody noticed or if they did, they didn't reach out. I was lost and there was nobody looking for me. Please don't misunderstand...I realize that other people are busy or just may not have been aware. I don't blame anyone. I'm not upset with anyone. It just hit home that the only people who said to me, "You matter" were on a Facebook post. It brought home just how isolating the fog is.

So here we are...a week out from the fog...and I'm not quite okay, but perhaps I'm no longer lost. I found my way through and I did it by myself. It was harder than if I'd had someone there to hold my hand but it shows that it can be done. I know that more dark times will come but I also hope that I can remember that I'm stronger than I seem and that I can be brave.


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Crockpot Monday: Halibut in White Sauce

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:16 AM

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halibut has been one of my favorite fish since I was in high school. A friend of mine got some to make a special dinner for her boyfriend and we tested her recipe in advance. I can't remember how we made it, but ever since, I've picked up halibut whenever I wanted a bit of a treat for myself.

Ingredients:
24 ounces halibut (or other white fish like tilapia or fillet of sole)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 lemons, 1 juiced, 1 for garnish
aluminum foil

Directions:
Microwave butter in a glass bowl, and whisk in the flour. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the chicken broth. Slowly add the flour mixture to the milk and broth, stirring the whole time. Squeeze in the lemon. Add the sugar to the sauce mixture. Lay out a length of foil onto your kitchen countertop and place the fish into the middle. Spoon the sauce on top. fold the foil over and crimp the edges.

Cover your crockpot and cook on high for about 2 hours, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.


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Book Review: 5 Love Languages - Singles Edition

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:00 AM

Friday, October 28, 2016

Gary Chapman first penned the bestselling The Five Love Languages more than ten years ago. The core message has hit home with over 5 million people as it focuses on the need to "feel" loved. This need is felt by married and singles alike. Dr. Chapman now tackles the unique circumstances that singles face, and integrates how the same five love languages apply in their relationships. For example, in a business environment, when and how is physical touch appropriate? Take the love language test included.

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If you've read the original Five Love Languages, you can save your money and don't bother to pick up this particular edition. It doesn't really have anything new and the author doesn't seem to have a very positive attitude when it comes to dating. I would also warn you, dear readers, that this book has a heavily Christian tone to it and while that's great for some, it does rule out a lot of readers who may have benefited from the concepts in this book. My recommendation? If you want to know about the Five Love Languages, pick up the original book or just do a quick Google search. Leave this particular book on the shelf.

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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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Crockpot Monday: Foil Packet Tilapia

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:06 AM

Monday, October 24, 2016

I know that fish isn't for everyone, but since my doctor insists we try to eat healthier around here and since I happen to agree, we're going to give fish a try! After all, not all of it is super strong flavored, right?

Okay...confession time. I like fish. My boys, on the other hand, aren't as sure so fingers crossed, these recipes are as big of a hit with them as they are with me!

Ingredients:
4 Filets of Tilapia (or another white fish)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
4 chopped garlic cloves
pinch each of salt and black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients, except for the fish, in a bowl. Lay out a piece of foil. Rub your sauce mixture over both sides of the fish and place it onto the foil. Fold the foil over and make a little packet for your fish.  Place all of the packets into the crockpot.

Cook on high for 2 hours. Unwrap carefully and test with a fork. If the fish flakes easily, it's done.


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Book Review: Shades of Mercy

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:30 AM

Friday, October 21, 2016

It’s 1954 and the world is about to change—including the far Northwoods of Maine. But that change can’t happen soon enough for fourteen-year-old Mercy Millar. Long tired of standing in as the “son” her father never had, Mercy’s ready for the world to embrace her as the young woman she is—as well as embrace the forbidden love she feels.

When childhood playmates grow up and fall in love, the whole community celebrates. But in the case of Mercy and Mick, there would be no celebration. Instead, their relationship must stay hidden. Good girls do not date young men from the Maliseet tribe, at least not in Watsonville, Maine. When racial tensions escalate and Mick is thrown in jail under suspicion of murder, Mercy nearly loses all hope—in love, in her father, and in God Himself.
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A bit slow to start, this book does pick up and it turned out to be a very enjoyable read! It's filled with a history that isn't so far in our past, but that many of us either didn't live through or have simply tried to move on from. If you're a Christian, you'll appreciate the character's morals and how they held onto their faith throughout the book. All in all, this was an enjoyable read and if I get the chance, I'm going to look for additional books in the series.

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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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Crockpot Monday: Holiday Punch

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:00 AM

Monday, October 17, 2016

With Halloween fast approaching, this punch is perfect for your spooky parties!

Ingredients:
4 cups cranberry juice
4 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup hot tamales or red hots candy
1 cinnamon stick (for garnish)

Directions:

Combine juices in your crockpot, and add hot tamales or red hots. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4-5. Stir.

Ladle into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

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Book Review: Photographs From the Edge

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:00 AM

Friday, October 14, 2016

With more than 500,000 books sold, celebrated nature photographer Art Wolfe recounts the stories and techniques behind the images of his forty-year career around the world.

Legendary photographer Art Wolfe presents an intimate behind-the-scenes guide to the experiences, decisions, and methods that have influenced forty years of stunning images captured around the world. Wolfe and co-author Rob Sheppard transport readers on a global journey, while carrying on a dialog about photography, tools and process, world travel, close calls, and photographic opportunities both taken and missed. From the rich sights and smells of the Pushkar Camel Fair to the exact moment when a polar bear and her cubs leave their arctic den, Photographs from the Edge represents the instances when circumstance, light, and subject miraculously collide to form an iconic image.  Many of these photographs can never be duplicated as cultures and landscapes are transformed and wildlife diminishes or disappears all together. No matter his subject, Wolfe regales us with the stories behind the photographs and helps us experience life on the world's most unique photo safari. Photographs from the Edge is a lifetime of experience distilled into a rich photographic education.

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If you're like me and you love photography and could spend hours just looking through photos, this is a book that you're going to want to pick up. Not only are the photos absolutely breathtaking, but each one includes the story behind the photo, what lens was used and even some tricks and tips. There are over 270 pages of art and instruction in this book and I know that it's one that I'm going to come back to again and again.

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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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The Pain of Dying

Posted by Katrina Roets at 12:51 PM

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Today was hard. There isn’t another word for it. Okay, there probably is. Something like heart wrenching and soul crushing, but those are phrases so we’re going to stick with hard. It was hard and I’m not sure that I handled it in the best possible way, but at the end of the day, I handled it.

I can’t get into a lot of details because those details aren’t just my own. I share them with another, but really there are only parts that matter and it’s those that I want to talk about. So, here we go…another day in the life of me…

One of my dearest is in an incredibly hard place in life. Someone that he loves is dying and not just dying, but the kind of death where the person’s health deteriorates and they just start to fade away. It was brought to my attention today and though I don’t even know this person, it put me back into a place where I was remembering what it was like to go through that.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written publicly about it. I know that I’ve written about it in the autobiography that I will someday finish. It was one of the hardest periods of my life.  I grew up not feeling as if anyone loved me except for my grandmother. If anyone loved me, it was her. She was the only person in my family that I could go to with things. Then, she got sick. It started with what I suspect now was lymphedema that was allowed to run unchecked. By the time she was taken to the hospital, she was running a fever of something like 104 and they honestly didn’t think that they could save her.

I was called to the hospital. I didn’t know if it was going to be the last time I saw her. Luckily for me, it wasn’t. I wasn’t ready. She recovered slowly and after a week or two, she was moved to a convalescent center for rehabilitation. There was a lot going on within the “family” during all of this and it was taking its toll on me, but I did what had to be done and I tried to stay strong. No, I did stay strong. I didn’t let myself worry or collapse like I probably needed to. I didn’t take care of myself. I did what I had to do so that things could go as smoothly as possible and so that she could come home.

She did come home but it was never the same. The illness had taken its toll on her and it was obvious. Over the summer and fall, I watched her deteriorate. Every time I saw her, she was smaller and seemed less there. It turns out that somehow the doctors had missed that she had more than lymphedema. She also had colo-rectal cancer. My uncles begged me to do what I could. I was the only person that she responded to. That might be because they treated her like a child which frustrated her. I would make her anything that she wanted, trying to entice her to eat a little something. I brought numerous coke slushies from Meijer because they almost always sounded good to her. It was never enough to do her any good, but I tried. I had hope that anything helped and if nothing else, something would be in her stomach for when I tricked her into taking the heavy duty painkillers that they had placed her on. She didn’t want to take them so I would tell her that they were just a new form of Tylenol or something like that.

By Thanksgiving, she was plainly telling me that this would be her last one. She told me the same thing at Christmas. Not long after that, her rate of deterioration seemed to increase. She had given up. She was done fighting. People say that knowing someone’s death is coming somehow makes it easier. What they don’t talk about is how hard it is to watch someone you love start to disappear and then turn it someone that you barely recognize. By the time she ended up in hospice, she wasn’t my grandmother, but a shell of her. She was in constant pain and the cancer/medication had affected her mind. She was convinced of things that had never happened or that just weren’t real. Christmas was the last time I took the boys with me to see her. I didn’t want their last memories of her to be what she had turned into.

She made it until March. I’m not going to lie and I’m not going to apologize, but the day I got a call from my uncle…or maybe it was my mother…that hospice had called and that she had only hours left to live, I was relieved. She had no quality of life left. Less than a week before she went to hospice, she had been left alone overnight (my family was too self-focused to stay with her and she refused a nurse) and had somehow fallen, landed on her walker, and broken her collarbone. She was in unbelievable pain all the time at this point and stuck in a morphine haze. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted it to be over for her and I wanted it to be over for me. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I wanted it to be over for me. The months upon months of watching her disappear had taken a serious toll on myself. I never relaxed. I never shut down. I lost so called friends because they couldn’t understand that I was living in survival mode.

The day she died, I collected up some things from her house and I made arrangements to meet up with some of those so-called friends to get me away from all of it. That was a fiasco, but not a story for now. It took me a long time to recover from her illness and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. I hurt for my friend and for those who are going through this with him. I hurt for his wife and that she’s going through what my grandmother did. I don’t know all of the details but I don’t need to. I only need to know that it’s happening. It breaks my heart because I’ve been where he is and I know how hard it is to stay strong. I’m going to do my best to be there for him as much as he’ll let me. He’s not the type who leans on others, but I’ll be there if he needs to. If I hadn’t had a couple of people who stuck by me at the worst and when I wasn’t close to at my best, I don’t know if I would have survived it.


If you pray, I ask that you raise this family up. If you believe in good thoughts, those are always welcome. In the coming days, knowing there are those who care will make a difference. I know that it did for me. 

Edit: This was written a week ago, but for reasons..yes, reasons...I waited until today to post it.

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Crockpot Monday: Gingerbread Latte

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:00 AM

Monday, October 10, 2016

I know that it's really a bit too early in the season for this, but who can resist some serious yummy on a cool Autumn evening?

Ingredients:

4 cups milk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
cinnamon stick (for garnish)
whipped cream (for garnish)
1/2 cup strong black coffee, or a freshly-brewed shot of espresso

Directions: 

Put the milk into your crockpot, and whisk in the dried spices. Don't add the coffee.

Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, or high for 1-2.  Don’t allow the milk to boil.
Pour over hot coffee or espresso.

Garnish with whipped cream, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick.


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Crockpot Monday: Chai Tea Latte

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:30 AM

Monday, October 3, 2016

Chai Tea is a favorite drink among my friends so this one is always popular this time of year!

Ingredients:

4 cups milk
4 black tea bags
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
4 sticks cinnamon (or 2 teaspoons ground)
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Put everything into your crockpot. Float the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and tea bags on top.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or until heated through. Press the tea bags against the side of the crockpot with a spoon and ladle into mugs.


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