Monday, November 28, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Apple Cinnamon Pork Roast

9:04 AM 0 Comments
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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Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: Taste & Technique

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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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Monday, November 21, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Orange Honey Tilapia

10:36 AM 0 Comments
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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Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: The London Cookbook

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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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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Price of Sexual Harassment...

1:54 PM 0 Comments
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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Monday, November 14, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Mahi Mahi

10:29 AM 0 Comments
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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Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: Wonder Woman Legacy

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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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Monday, November 7, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Lemon & Dill Salmon

10:21 AM 0 Comments
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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Friday, November 4, 2016

Book Review: Ghost Board Posse

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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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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Life Lessons

12:46 PM 1 Comments
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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