Monday, July 24, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Beer Braised Turkey

11:12 AM 0 Comments
If the beer in this recipe gives you a moment of pause, don't worry...the alcohol will cook out well before serving. Personally, I'm contemplating changing this recipe up with a bottle of cider instead of beer. If you do a bit of experimenting, be sure to comment and let me know what you tried and how it turned out!

Ingredients:
2 pounds potatoes, washed and quartered
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 pounds turkey drumsticks, or a bone-in turkey breast
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dried basil (or 1/4 cup finely diced fresh basil leaves)
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer

Directions:

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the potatoes and onion into the bottom of your crockpot, and add turkey on top. Drop in butter, basil, and lemon juice. Sprinkle on salt, and pour in the beer.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.


Photobucket

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: The Inkblots

9:47 AM 0 Comments
The captivating, untold story of Hermann Rorschach and his famous inkblot test, which has shaped our view of human personality and become a fixture in popular culture

In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic of a new generation of modern artists. He had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see.

Rorschach himself was a visual artist, and his test, a set of ten carefully designed inkblots, quickly made its way to America, where it took on a life of its own. Co-opted by the military after Pearl Harbor, it was a fixture at the Nuremberg trials and in the jungles of Vietnam. It became an advertising staple, a cliché in Hollywood and journalism, and an inspiration to everyone from Andy Warhol to Jay-Z. The test was also given to millions of defendants, job applicants, parents in custody battles, workers applying for jobs, and people suffering from mental illness—or simply trying to understand themselves better. And it is still used today.

Damion Searls draws on unpublished letters and diaries, and a cache of previously unknown interviews with Rorschach’s family, friends, and colleagues, to tell the unlikely story of the test’s creation, its controversial reinvention, and its remarkable endurance—and what it all reveals about the power of perception. Elegant and original, The Inkblots shines a light on the twentieth century’s most visionary synthesis of art and science.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been reading a lot of fiction lately and wanted something a bit different so when this book became available for review, it seemed like the perfect timing. Finding the time to read it, however, is another story for another day. Let's talk about Rorschach.

The Good: This book reads as if you're talking with a friend. I love this author's style. Biographies can be dry but I never had that experience with "The Inkblots". In fact, I picked it up every chance that I got because, almost like a fiction book, I wanted to know what happened next.

The Bad: The second half of the book is about what happened with the test after Rorschach's death and while interesting, I admit that it had a bit more trouble holding my attention.

The Summary: If you're interested in psychology, psychiatry, or just really well written biographies, I suggest you pick up a copy of this book. I don't think that you'll regret it.

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Asian Turkey

11:07 AM 0 Comments
For the longest time, I turned my nose up at any recipe that declared itself to be Asian. Why? Soy sauce. I just didn't like it. It's still not my favorite but I've found that if it's paired right, it can be downright tasty!

Ingredients:
1 turkey breast (5-7 pounds)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish cream
3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Place the turkey breast into the crockpot, breast side down. In a small mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, horseradish, chopped garlic, lime juice, and salt. Whisk together until everything is incorporated. Pour the sauce all over the turkey breast, allowing the sauce to pool up in the rib cage cavity.

Cover. If your lid doesn't fit on your pot completely (mine didn't), cover the top of your insert with layers of foil. Crimp the edges as tightly as you can and then place your lid on top. Cook on low for about 8 hours, or until meat is no longer pink when you cut into it and registers 170 degrees. If your turkey has a built-in thermometer it should pop up.

Carefully remove the turkey from the pot and let sit for 10 minutes or so before slicing.

If you’re a gravy fan, pour the turkey drippings into a small sauce pan and boil on the stove until the sauce has thickened and reduced. Serve with your favorite sides!


Photobucket

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: Death in the Floating City

9:28 AM 0 Comments
Years ago, Emily's childhood nemesis, Emma Callum, scandalized polite society when she eloped to Venice with an Italian count. But now her father-in-law lies murdered, and her husband has vanished. There's no one Emma can turn to for help but Emily, who leaves at once with her husband, the dashing Colin Hargreaves, for Venice. There, her investigations take her from opulent palazzi to slums, libraries, and bordellos. Emily soon realizes that to solve the present day crime, she must first unravel a centuries old puzzle. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, especially when these revelations might threaten the interests of some very powerful people.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another of my free library shelf finds! The title captured my attention and so I tossed it into my bag and on my last "make myself take downtime day", I picked it up and read the whole darned thing before I realized it! That's a good sign that I enjoyed the book, but let's break it down a little bit more.

I'm a sucker for a mystery and this one was really well written. Even though the chapters switch between present and past, there was absolutely no confusion and it was easy to see how they were tied together. The characters felt true in their interactions and even though this was the only book in the series that I've read so far, I still felt as if I knew them.

Now, if I have to find a complaint, it's only that the ending seemed off to me. I don't mind being surprised by who the bad guy is, but somehow it just didn't feel right to me. Still, it didn't stop me from enjoying the book.

So, if you like mysteries, check out the Lady Emily series. I know I'm going to try to track down another one and if I spot one on the free shelf, it's going home with me.


Photobucket

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Apple, Cheddar & Turkey Meatballs

10:59 AM 0 Comments
Who doesn't love meatballs? I honestly can't think of a single person in my world that is anti-meatball. If you know of someone, I'd love to hear their story! Just drop me a comment below.

Now...on to delicious!

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds extra lean ground turkey
1 egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 green apple, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground turkey with the other ingredients. Don’t be afraid to use your hands!

Make golf-ball sized meatballs, and drop them into your crockpot.

Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 5-9. Remember that the more full your crockpot is, the longer these will take to cook.

Photobucket

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Review: Irish Cream

9:17 AM 0 Comments
Damian "Day" O'Sullivan is a troubled young man who blames himself for a tragic vehicular homicide he may not have committed. Trouble is, Day's entire family seems to be conspiring to pin the crime on the poor lad, which only leads Nuala and Dermot to wonder who really ran over (three times!) Rodney Keefe in the parking lot of a ritzy Chicago country club.

The O'Sullivans are a ruthlessly ambitious clan of South Side Irish, who consider themselves the cream of the Irish-American community. The sensitive Day has always been something of a black sheep in the family---and perhaps a scapegoat as well.

But the twisted saga of the O'Sullivans isn't the only mystery to be unraveled. Having stumbled onto the diary of Father Richard Lonigan, a nineteenth-century parish priest assigned to a remote village in old Donegal, Dermot and Nuala find themselves caught up in the closely guarded secrets and scandals of that desolate time and place, where simmering resentment against the ruling English sometimes erupted into violence and murder....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's been ages since I picked up an Andrew Greeley book and when I spotted this one on the library free shelf, I let myself go ahead and spoil myself. I'm always telling my boys to make good choices and I'm pleased to say that I did by following my gut.

As always, the characters delighted me. This is book 8 in the series, but don't let that stop you from reading it if you get a chance. It works perfectly as a standalone. I loved the addition of Day to this book! He's the perfect project for Nuala and crew!

I do, however, have to report that the switching between the Father Lonigan "mystery" and the modern happenings did throw me off. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out the connection between the two events and since the mystery isn't revealed until the very end, it just felt as if I were reading two separate books. That being said, both were enjoyable!

So, in conclusion (I'm feeling fancy today!), I really do recommend any of the Nuala books written by Andrew Greeley. They're all delightful. Well, at the least the ones I've had the joy of reading have been. I'd say they're the perfect curl up under a blanket and lose yourself in a story type of book.

Photobucket

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Turkey Cutlets

10:38 AM 0 Comments
 Long time no recipes! Life got away from me this Spring and I feel as if I'm still playing a game of catch up! I have one kid in the Caribbean on a science research trip (holy fundraising for that!) and the other one is now working five days a week. Since he can't drive, I'm doing a lot of driving back and forth. Since money is tight, I'm using the time he's at work to hang out at the library in the hopes of catching up on some stuff! First on the list? Getting our recipe section moving again!

Now, I know it's summer and depending where you live, turkey can be tough to come by unless it's a full turkey or ground turkey. No worries..substitute chicken or just hold onto these until Fall!

Ingredients:
1.25 pounds turkey breast cutlets
8.5 oz jar sundried tomatoes, drained and rinsed
2 oz can anchovies, drained and rinsed
6 slices of bacon

Directions:
Spread the bacon on the bottom of your crockpot. Rinse off the anchovies, and lay them on top. Add the turkey cutlets. Rinse off a bit of the oil from the sundried tomatoes, and add them on top of the turkey.

Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.


Photobucket

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Growing Up

11:31 PM 0 Comments
Today I dropped off the youngest at Jazz Camp for the week and as I drove away, it struck me just how independent he's become. As soon as we'd collected his things from the car, he took off for the dorm and forgot I was even there in his excitement to reconnect with his friends from last year. After I gave him his things, he joined his friends and didn't even look up as I left.  Please don't get me wrong, he wasn't rude or disrespectful. He was ready to move on with this coming week. He was ready for this next mini chapter.

Tonight, idly looking at house listings, I started to wonder how ready I am. In 11 months, my oldest will graduate from high school.  He's nervous about it and I spent some time tonight talking about options with him. There's a local trade school especially for disabled people. They have a program that he might be interested in. I'll need to see if they do job placement or anything like that because if they don't, the program he's interested in is fairly useless.

Still, it got him thinking about changes too. He knows that after his brother graduates from high school, I have to move. We talked today about places I could move to. He asked me where I had friends because I don't have any here. He told me that he doesn't care where I move because it's my life and I have to be happy. It made me smile to hear such an adult thought come from him. He's growing up and I can no longer deny that both him and his brother are on the verge of adulthood. It won't be long before they'll be doing their own things and where will that leave me?

Creating a whole new world for myself.  For nearly 18 years now, I've been mom. That's been my role, my title, and my life. Soon though, I'll be having to make the tough decisions and trying to decide what's best, not for them, but for myself. In theory, I could move anywhere in the world. In reality, I think I'd better stay in this country..heh... That being said, there's a lot of country out there. I could stay nearby wherever the boys are. I could move somewhere random. There's also ...well, I don't really talk about this, but there's a man that I've fallen for and right now, circumstances outside of our control don't allow for us to be together, but who knows, maybe we might find ourselves in closer proximity.

That's a lot of well maybes, huh? There's also the question of what do I do with myself when mom isn't my full-time gig. I would really like to write and to make enough to be able to start paying off old bills. Wouldn't that be smashing? I think so. Of course, it means educating myself as to how to promote my writing better so that people know it exists. A friend on Facebook posted the other night that he met an author who makes about $60k a month (I think, a month was the time frame) but also spends $5-10k during that same time frame on advertising. That's a great return, but I have no way of investing that kind of money into myself. Is it possible to start the ball rolling without spending that kind of money? I have no idea. I guess that's where educating myself comes in.

So, here we are...about 2 years until I have to be moving on from where I'm at and a lot of decisions to make, a lot of work to do, and a lot of finding me that needs to happen before then.

Photobucket

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fearing Success

1:03 PM 0 Comments
"People who have experienced trauma may associate the excitement of success with the same physiological reactions as trauma. They avoid subjecting themselves to excitement-inducing circumstances, which causes them to be almost phobic about success." -- Psychology Today

"The Jonah complex is the fear of success which prevents self-actualization or the realization of one's potential. It is the fear of one's own greatness, the evasion of one's destiny, or the avoidance of exercising one's talents. Just as the fear of achieving a personal worst can motivate personal growth, the fear of achieving a personal best can also hinder achievement." -- Wikipedia

Yesterday, I wrote a post about finding myself and in it, I mentioned how I'm the only thing standing in my way of so many things. Today, I woke up absolutely exhausted and immediately went into beat myself up/I'm worthless mode. I sat here feeling sorry for myself. There's no other words to describe it. When my body/brain says you need a down day, I get incredibly frustrated and I take it out on myself. A lot of us do that. We beat ourselves up over things that are outside of our control.

I'd love to tell you that I meditated or came to some brilliant conclusion that brought me here today, but the reality is that I noticed that I had Pinterest open in a tab so I decided to lazy scroll through things and see what I found. What I found was a whole lot of pins on writing and it reminded me of yesterday's post so here I am...after pinning about a dozen of them to go back to later.

If you know me well at all, you know that I write. I write stories, I write posts, I write diary entries in Word that may or may not ever be seen by the world. I write. It's what I do. It's what I've done for as long as I remember. It's what I want to do with my life. I want to write.

Seems easy enough, right? If someone said to me that they wanted to write, I'd say, "Then write." Except it's not that simple. Okay, the writing part is. Writing isn't difficult for me. Heck, hand me a notebook and a pen and I'll doodle and write all day long. It's the part that comes after that...what do I do with it once I write it? Do I file it away somewhere? Do I publish it? Do I tell anyone about it?

Just a few days ago, I got the Facebook notification that on this day a year ago, I published my first story on Amazon. I've gone on to publish something like 8 stories. In that year, I've never made enough off selling them to even receive a royalty payment. Why? Because I've been afraid to take the next steps. I have the resources. Russell Nohelty has a podcast all about building up your creative business. I'm part of at least one really good authors' group on Facebook. I'm friends (or at least Facebook friends) with multiple published writers.

So what's holding me back? Me. I am. I'm the problem. I'm terrified of what happens if I do this and I do it well. What will that mean for my life? What changes will there be? Just thinking about it has my anxiety flaring up. Then, there's the other side of it. I look around at the people surrounding me and I think "What's the point in even trying? There are so many people out there already doing this. There's nothing special about me or what I do."

I'm afraid of success and I'm afraid of failure. So, I do nothing. I write my stories and sometimes I post them and sometimes I don't. I write here and since it's mostly ignored by the outside world, I tell myself that it's a sure sign that my writing isn't any good. If it were, surely something I'd written would have gained traction by now. Is that the truth? Probably not. There are a million people out there writing the same  types of things on their blogs. There's no reason that mine would gain attention.

Still, I write because I can't imagine a life without doing it. This is part of me. I just have to decide if I'm brave enough to really show people what I can do and if I am, I have to start taking those steps. I know that I'm not alone in feeling like this and I hope that I'm not alone in whatever happens next.

Photobucket

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Finding Me

12:47 PM 0 Comments
Sometimes something someone says gets stuck in my head and I can't get rid of it. It sits there, tugging at my thoughts, pulling at my emotions, until I give it the attention that it desires and perhaps the attention that I need to give it. After all, if it's there, it must be there for a reason, right?

In this case, a man that I was involved with a few years ago, perhaps more now, wrote me this rather horrible email to not only end our relationship but to end any association he had with me. Honestly, it was cruel and below this person, but that's not what this post is about. It's about what he said to me in that email that has hung around in my head for all these years and the fact that I'm finally at a point where I can deal with it clearly and without wasted emotion. After all, emotion is wasted on someone who was flat out cruel to you.

I'm not going to directly quote him because honestly, I have no desire to open that email. The gist of what he said was that I'm not me. I'm not someone who stands for anything or has her own beliefs. I'm merely someone who morphs herself into whatever she thinks the other person wants. I'm nothing more than a mimic.  Harsh, huh?

That one single idea has stuck with me ever since I read it and I wondered if it was true. Who am I? I'm reminded of this quote from the movie Music and Lyrics:

"Since then, every time I pick up a pen, I'm haunted by those words that he wrote, you know? "She was a brilliant mimic. She could ape Dorothy Parker or Emily Dickinson, but stripped of someone else's literary clothes, she was a vacant, empty imitation of a writer.""

Stripped of other people's interests and beliefs, who am I? You see, he was right in a way. I do tend to take on the interests of those I care about. Do I do it to define me? No, I don't think that I do. I do it to have more in common with them, to learn about new things. Rob is a perfect example of this and someone who, on the tiniest off chance that he ever read this, wouldn't care if I used him as an example.

Rob was/is very much into roller derby. Me? I knew next to nothing about it. When I'd visit him, if one of his friends stopped by, they'd sit and talk about it and I'd be left out because I knew nothing about it. I hated that. It was also something he was very passionate about so I wanted to know more. I downloaded and read the complete rule book. They teased me that the next thing they knew, I'd be some sort of official. The reality is that I never intended on playing myself or getting involved. I just wanted to know more. I'm still holding out for Rob to take me to my first bout.

Did I change myself into a derby girl because Rob was into derby? No. Some would point out that I did go and buy a pair of skates. I did. I still have them though due to illness, etc I haven't used them since right after I bought them. Skating is fantastic exercise and a lot of fun. It was something I could do on my own or go with Rob to do when I was visiting him. Was it because of him that I looked into it? Yeah, it was. Did it change anything? Not really.

So where am I going with all of this? I guess I'm going to the part where I say Stuart was right. Over the years, I've molded myself at times. My upbringing caused that. If I wasn't what was wanted, things happened. When I was with the boys' dad, that continued. Please don't misunderstand. He never raised a hand towards me, but he knew what buttons to push to get me to be or do what he wanted.

Then, I was on my own. I was no longer his wife. I no longer had an identity. I didn't know who I was. So, over the years since then, I guess I've explored options. With Rob, I explored the idea of skating and I discovered that it was something I enjoyed. I totally sucked at it, but I enjoyed it. With others, it may have been certain television shows or hobbies. Does that mean that I continued to morph? Perhaps, but only to the smallest extent. As someone who had no idea who they were anymore, what their interests were or what they wanted to do/be in life, it was a way to discover the answers to those things. I discovered that no matter how much someone else liked it, I just could not get into Buffy, but that I loved Doctor Who. I realized that I do kind of like certain types of science fiction. I found a tiny piece of me.

I tend to think of myself as one of those jigsaw puzzles that have 10,000 pieces and each time I discover something, a tiny piece slides into place. With enough exploration, I may find me again. I think that I started my container garden a number of years ago because Rob or someone was growing tomatoes and it gave me an additional connection to him. It also allowed me to discover that dirt therapy is really good for me. Does Rob still grow tomatoes? Heck if I know. I do know that right now, there are 8 plants on my front porch that I need to water later today.

There are also things that I do simply because they're a part of me. I love to craft. I've been making things since I was a child and while I don't do it as much these days it's not because someone has frowned on it. It's simply because I got in my own way and now I need to clear that out so that I can get back to it. Nick once told me that coloring is my therapy...crafting always was and I suspect it always will be. I can't draw but I can still create in my own way.

Which brings me to writing...another thing that I've done for as long as I can remember. In fact, if you asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I'd tell you that I want to write. It's another thing that I'm just plain getting in my own way of. Will I ever be famous for writing? Probably not. Could I be successful at it? Probably. It's my own fears that are getting in the way of that, but that's probably another post for another day. It's another one of those thoughts that have been bumping around in my head lately.

What does this all mean? It means that you may see me becoming interested in something that you do. I may try it out for a little bit. I may discover that I love it and stick with it. I may discover that it's not me and leave it. Either of those things is okay. The only way to truly discover if something is me is to try it. I'm not mimicking, I'm exploring and exploration is healthy. It's good.

In order to reclaim me, I have to find me.

Photobucket

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review: Marie Antoinette Serial Killer

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Another of the books that I snagged from the free shelf at the airport and another one that was perfect for me to read when I spotted it...

The Good:
This book is such an amazingly easy read and though the author has a reputation of being a horror writer, this book isn't horror. I'm the biggest chicken in the world and nothing in this book even gave me a shiver. What it did give me was the joy in watching a teenager grow up and come a bit more into herself as the book progressed. It gave me a ghost story that was set in the present, but had its start in the past. I'm a history junkie and while this part was totally made up, I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book.

The Bad:
If I had one complaint, and it's a small one, it's that not all of the french in the book is translated. Still, this was so minor and it didn't take away from the reading itself so I'm nitpicking.

The Summary:
This is another light reading book. It isn't a heavy mystery or a scary horror novel. It's a fun book geared towards the teenage set. Some have complained that the main character is a snobby bitch and that it gives girls the wrong impressions about fat girls, nice girls, and the lot, but the reality is that I have seen groups of girls made up of exactly the group depicted within this book. Is it always the case? Nope. Still it exists and Collette has to learn that fashion sense, the latest boy, and all of that doesn't define a person.

If you like light reading in this genre, I suggest you give this book a shot.

Photobucket

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: The Clockwork Scarab

9:30 AM 1 Comments
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lately I've had some periods where I've needed to sit around and wait on the boys to finish whatever they're up to. It's given me some bonus reading time that I completely grabbed up. It gave me the chance to finish a couple of books that have been calling out for me to read them...

The first is The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason. I picked this up from a free shelf at the airport a couple of months ago and the title alone had me from hello. Then, I read the description and discovered that the two main characters were a Stoker and a Holmes and that was it. It left the shelf and went with me.

The Good: 
This book was fun to read. The characters were easy to relate to and while I've seen it said that Mine especially seemed judgmental for someone who was supposed to be brilliant, I have to say that it seems very much within a teenage girl's personality. Just because you're brilliant doesn't mean that you don't sometimes make assumptions. Aside from all of that, the story is very much plot driven and it's a plot that had me picking the book up whenever I had a few minutes to squeeze in some reading.

The Bad:
This book is a steampunk novel and while I don't mind that per se, I did mind that the author reminded us of it every other page or so. It wasn't necessary to the story building. The book also felt slightly unfinished. We don't know who was behind what was happening. We don't really know why the time traveling character was brought there or if he ever made it home. I know that this is book 1 of a 4 part Holmes/Stoker series so I'm hoping that the author revisits these in future books and resolves them.

The Summary:
Overall, this is a really fun book. It's certainly geared towards the teenage set, but as a not quite a teenager anymore, I enjoyed reading it and I'm going to try to track down book 2 to see what happens with this pair next.


Photobucket

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: Princess Nenji

11:41 AM 1 Comments
Nenji lives a quiet life, but with a longing for adventure. Barely considered royalty, her life is uprooted when the Dragon King sets out to eliminate the threat of the Lorac Family revealed by prophecy. Nenji has to learn quickly about magic, politics, and herself as she takes on the roles of young lady, witch, and queen. Princess Nenji is a gripping novel. This fantasy story revolves around a young 14 year old girl, mages, royalty, dragons and creatures you never even imagined. This book gives new insights about justice and mercy, coming of age, and the power of a family's love. It is a quick read, both exciting and refreshing. You will be continually surprised at how the plot unfolds. The author has been called a creative genius, and this book is unlike any other book you have read.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last week, I introduced you to Dani and the Dragon. Princess Nenji is set in that same realm. Heck, she's part of the same family as Dani. This book takes place after the events in Dani and the Dragon, although I believe it was written prior.

While I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I did Mr. Carroll's other book, I very much enjoyed it. In fact, I read it in one sitting. That says a lot for a book. I loved the glimpses of characters that I had grown to love in the other book and the first thing I did upon completing it was to go to the author's Goodreads page to see if there were other books in this series. Unfortunately, there are not. I really wanted to find out what happened with all of the amazing characters that the author has put together.

If you're a lover of magic, dragons, fantasy, and princesses that can more than hold their own, I strongly suggest that you pick up Mr. Carroll's two books. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed an author so much.

Edit: The author has changed his pen name to Simon Driscoll. For information on how to find his books, check out his web page.

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

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Dani and the Dragon

9:54 AM 0 Comments
Coming of age isn't easy for a homeless orphan girl. But when Mages, Kings, and Dragons all want to control her destiny, she must uncover her past to find her future.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'm not going to lie to you. This book has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. That's what happens when you fall apart and have to put yourself back together. Things get set aside for far too long...but in some ways, it makes them that much more awesome when you pick them up again.

In this case, I had no idea what to expect from this book. I picked it at random from a stack when I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time sitting around while the youngest child performed with his steel drum band. Turns out that it was a really good random book choice!

All of the characters in this book are really well written. Dani is a character that you can't help but get attached to. With every step of her journey, you're right there with her. Though the book is fantasy, you believe that all of these things have happened or are happening to her. The writing is just that good. The story progresses at a steady pace and you're caught up in the world of royals and dragons and one girl who is just trying to figure out what's right for her.

Would I recommend this book? Yep. Totally. Go and get it. It's a great read and another one that I couldn't put down.


Edit: The author has changed his pen name to Simon Driscoll. For information on how to find his books, check out his web page.

Photobucket

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories about Facing the Unknown

11:04 AM 0 Comments
From storytelling phenomenon The Moth, 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best ever told on their stages.

Carefully selected by the creative minds at The Moth, and adapted to the page to preserve the raw energy of live storytelling, All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Alongside Louis C.K., Tig Notaro, John Turturro, and Meg Wolitzer, readers will encounter: an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, an Afghan refugee learning how much her father sacrificed to save their family, a hip-hop star coming to terms with being a one-hit wonder, a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill's secret army during World War II, and more.

High-school student and neuroscientist alike, the storytellers share their ventures into uncharted territory and how their lives were changed indelibly by what they discovered there. With passion, and humor, they encourage us all to be more open, vulnerable, and alive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sometimes you pick a book and you're not sure why. That was the case for me and this book. I had no idea what was drawing me to it, but once I started reading, I knew that I'd made the right choice. While this book can be read in small snippets, I couldn't stop reading and actually read this in one sitting. Every story had something in it that made me nod or smile or even cry a time or two. I truly believe that there's something in it for every single person out there.

My one and only complaint was that the stories in the book are almost all from well known people. One of the things that draws people to The Moth are the average people who get up and talk. They were left out of this tome and I really wish that they had been more included. I'm just an average person and I really was looking for an average person to connect to in this book.

That being said, I know that this book is going to go onto my shelf and be one that I come back to time and time again. I sincerely hope that they do more in a series of books because storytelling is such a powerful tool and we all have something to share.

Photobucket

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kids...They Grow Up Fast

1:33 PM 0 Comments
This past Saturday was a long one. Roger and I were up at 5am so that we could join his high school steel drum band at a festival for the day. The festival was pretty awesome and I'll share a link to the mass band performance at the end of this post, but that isn't what I want to talk about...I'm going to sit here and I'm just going to write about being a mom.

For the longest time, mom has been my primary title. It's been my world and my life. Those two boys have been my world and my life. It's only been in the past little while that I've started thinking about what I'm going to do when they're gone and living their own lives. I still don't really know but I am thinking about it.

On Saturday, I had expectations. I expected that this was an event that Roger and I were doing together. Except, the event really wasn't what either of us had figured it was. So, instead of spending the day with me, he spent it with his band and with his friends. He did pretty much everything with them. He sat with them. He had lunch with them. Since this wasn't my usual group of band kids, I wasn't invited to join them. I ate lunch alone. I sat in the bleachers alone. I watched them laughing and inside, a part of me hurt. I was happy he was having a great time, but it still hurt that I was on the outside looking in.

Still, there were those moments where he was completely my boy...he ran over to me to make sure it was okay that he spent $5 of the money we'd set aside for his band trip. During the concert, he was sitting on the opposite side of the gym from me and I realized that we were sitting in the exact same position. He'd make faces at me from across the room and I couldn't help but smile.

What's the point of all this you ask? Just that Sunday, after his dad had picked him up, I was sitting there thinking about the weekend and I realized something. The very fact that he was confident and comfortable enough to not need me on Saturday meant that I had done my job. He may not know how to sew a button back on but he's learned the skills that will help him become the man that he wants to be and the fact that he'll still make goofy faces at me from across the room means that no matter how old he gets, he won't forget he's my kid. With that realization, I was filled with peace and that, my friends, is a very good thing indeed.

If you'd like to check out the mass band performance, check out this video!


If you'd like to hear the HHS Steel performance, head on over to my YouTube channel where it's almost all kids, all the time.

Photobucket

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: The Clancys of Queens

8:30 AM 0 Comments
Fifth-generation New Yorker, third-generation bartender, and first-time author Tara Clancy was raised in three wildly divergent homes: a converted boat shed in working class Queens, a geriatric commune of feisty, Brooklyn-born Italians, and a sprawling Hamptons estate she visited every other weekend. This childhood triptych comes to life in The Clancys of Queens, an electric, one-of-a-kind memoir.  

From scheming and gambling with her force-of-nature grandmother, to brawling with eleven-year-old girls on the concrete recess battle yard of MS 172, to hours lounging on Adirondack chairs beside an immaculate croquet lawn, to holding court beside Joey O’Dirt, Goiter Eddy, and Roger the Dodger at her Dad’s local bar, Tara leapfrogs across these varied spheres, delivering stories from each world with originality, grit, and outrageous humor.

But The Clancys of Queens is not merely an authentic coming-of-age tale or a rowdy barstool biography. Chock-full of characters who escape the popular imaginings of this city, it offers a bold portrait of real people, people whose stories are largely absent from our shelves. Most crucially, it captures—in inimitable prose—the rarely-heard voices of New York’s working-class women.

With a light touch but a hard hit, The Clancys of Queens blends savvy and wit to take us on an unforgettable strata-hopping adventure.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 I finished this book over a week ago and I've been trying to decide how to write this review.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I love memoirs but traditionally, I choose ones by people that I actually know. In this case, I have and had no idea who Tara Clancy was, though I did get to know her throughout her book. In fact, I got to know quite a few interesting characters. When the book opened up, I smiled at her memories of her grandparents and what life was like when she was with them. As the book progressed though, I found myself smiling less as the language picked up and some of the stories seemed too out there to be true. Are they true? I don't know. I mean, I have stories that people look at me and say there's no way that happened, but they did. Then, the book abruptly ended and it didn't feel as if there were any closure to it. If I had to rate this book (and I kinda do), I'd give it at 3 out of 5. It's not a bad read, but I feel as if I may not have been the right audience for it.

Photobucket

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Questioning Me Part 2

10:00 AM 1 Comments
Last post I left off with the conversation that I had with myself on the drive home after a busy day. Today, I want to tell you about what happened after that....

I came to the conclusion that I think I knew all along. Once I cut away all the insecurity and all the garbage surrounding the truth, there it was waiting for me. It wasn't anyone's doubt in my abilities but my own. He didn't use me (or anyone else) because he didn't feel he needed to. He had the confidence in his work that I never seem to have in my own.

The review on Amazon for the book that I worked on with Nick was harsh but it was true. I didn't give the book the attention it needed on what should have been its second to last pass through. As I worked on the book, Nick repeatedly told me that it needed more of me in it and after taking the time to process the review, I think I finally understand what he meant. I tweaked his story but I didn't add to it. I didn't change it. It's still Nick's book with me making the most minor of changes, things that most people wouldn't even notice when reading it.

By the time I pulled into my driveway, I was completely calm and at peace with the situation. I had hope that no longer feeling the panicked anxiety that I had failed Nick on book 1 would allow me to get back to work on book 2. Wednesday is supposed to be my writing day, you see. It's the day that I have 3 hours set aside to do nothing but write. Except, that isn't what happened...

I looked at my bag where my writing notes live. I looked at the folder icon on my laptop. I did both these things but I couldn't go further than that. I was suddenly overwhelmed by exhaustion. I decided that perhaps the time had come to lay down and explore these feelings and to try to get to the bottom of the situation. Except, the oddest thing happened...I laid down on the couch, stared up at the ceiling and started working my way through things. What was the cause of the anxiety? That part was easy...

1. I "failed" at book 1. While people seem to like it, I didn't do my job to the best of my abilities and I let Nick and myself down in that.

2. Book 2 is supposed to be far more me. Nick has made that clear when we've talked about it. This book isn't supposed to just be me tweaking. It's supposed to be me adding things to it, changing it, and when I finish this book, I'm supposed to write a third book all by myself. I'm terrified of book 3. I don't know that I can do it.

3. See author in quotes triggered my ptsd. It brought back every moment when I was told that I couldn't do something and/or wouldn't ever be anything.

Except, as I laid there, I wasn't feeling any of the anxiety. I was laying there, completely clear minded as I went over everything in my mind. Finally, I asked myself one question, telling myself that whatever my first answer would be would be what I trusted. I asked myself, "What are you supposed to do?" and without second thought, I answered "Write book 2." I had total peace and no insecurities, no indecision, just peace that this is what I was meant to do.

What does this mean? Well, it could be a few things...

1. The anxiety over working on the second book may not be true anxiety but something I've taught myself. The only way to get over it will be to force my way past it and to just pull out the notebook, to open the file and and do something. It won't be easy but it will be something I do.

2. I've acquired a form of ...numbness when it comes to this. This happens to me in high anxiety/stress situations. I don't realize just how badly things are affecting me until I have some sort of physical manifestation of the stress. This first started happening to me when I was 19. It's called conversion disorder and it's not much fun. For me, it's happened different ways...I develop a cold spot in my chest, my hands go cold, one time I had a pain that raced down my left arm and for 3 days, my hand on that side was pins and needles as if I'd slept on it.

3. I have finally, on some level, accepted that this is what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to write. I have stories to tell and I'm supposed to tell them.

If I really have to say, I'd say it's a combination of all three. Knowing that gives me power though. It means that the next time I have the chance to pull out my files and notebook, I will take a deep breath and I will pull things out. It may take me a couple of attempts to actually start working again on the book, but  I will start working on it again. I have an April 30th deadline. It won't be done by then and that's okay.

Photobucket

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Questioning Me

12:39 PM 0 Comments
Once upon a time, I probably lived without anxiety, without fear, without constant worries, but I don't remember that time. These things have been a part of my world for so long that they've become a part of me. I've lived with certain levels of anxiety for so long that to not have it starts a new wave of fear and anxiety.

Those are the thoughts that led to me writing this post today. No, those are some of the thoughts. There are times that my mind moves so quickly that i can't keep up with it. Last night wasn't one of those nights and that's truly what led to me sitting here now writing as if I'm sharing secrets with my closest friends....

Yesterday was a busy day. I had my first eye exam in about ten years. I wasn't nervous until they called me back and put me in a chair. Suddenly I was having to take deep breaths and to remind myself that it was only an eye exam...to fail it meant nothing more than getting a pair of glasses. I felt ridiculous for being anxious over something so small.

From there, I picked up my oldest and took him to his annual check up with his orthopedist. The appointment seemed to go too quickly and she has essentially released him from her care unless something happens. That led to another round of anxiety, especially when his stepmom questioned the entire thing. I had to remind myself that her office is only a phone call away and if I feel as if I need to go talk to her, I can go and talk to her.

After that it was picking up the youngest and waiting for him to get changed into his tux, taking him back to the school, helping a little bit with the concert set up and enjoying the annual Band-o-Rama concert. It was during this that I saw an instagram post that showed that I wasn't doing editing work on a comic that I had been 150% sure that I was. I was waiting on the file to arrive. It turns out that I misunderstood and there had never been an intent for me to work on the book.

My reaction scared me. There was the usual bit of hurt and such, but then something shifted. I took a look around the gym, at the kids rushing about to make sure everything was perfect and I just stopped caring about a comic.  For the next two hours, I didn't care. Instead of being wrapped up in my fears, insecurities, and anxiety, I was wrapped up in the music and what was happening in front of me.

It was after the concert, after I had dropped the kiddo off at his dad's and during the 30
 minute drive home that it all came back. I cycled between insecurity, being completely calm, and perhaps somewhere between the two. I had entire conversations with myself:

"He didn't use anyone. He probably doesn't feel as if he needs a proofreader/editor for comics, just for prose type things."

"Yes, but he said he was sending it to me."

"Yes, that's probably how you took his yes when you asked about seeing it that week, but that's probably not what he meant."

"What if he doesn't think I'm capable of doing it? After all, that one book review said I sucked as an editor and that a professional needs to look at it and fix it. What if he agrees with her?"

"And what if you acknowledge that you aren't perfect and that you rushed the second review of the book and didn't do a third like you usually do because you were more worried about disappointing him by missing the deadline than you were with your usual level of perfectionism?"

Yep, sometimes I'm pretty darn harsh with myself. Still, that last self was right. I didn't give it the third review that I do with all of my projects. I missed things. It's the accepting that it's okay that's the hardest. Anything less than perfection in this kind of thing isn't okay and I will be going over it again and sending it back in so that hopefully it can be updated.

Why am I telling you all of this? I don't honestly know. I think, more than anything, I felt the need to write, to share some of  this with someone.

There's more to this, but this post is long and perhaps it's better left to another post...


Photobucket

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Review: Lightning Wolves

12:43 PM 0 Comments
It's 1877 and Russians forces occupy the Pacific Northwest. They are advancing into California. New weapons have proven ineffective or dangerously unstable. The one man who can help has disappeared into Apache Country, hunting ghosts. A healer and a former sheriff lead a band into the heart of the invasion to determine what makes the Russian forces so unstoppable while a young inventor attempts to unleash the power of the lightning wolves.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do you want to know how you know that you're really enjoying a book? It's when the power goes out and you curl up on the couch with a flashlight so that you can keep reading. Seriously. This happened to me last night. Thankfully the power was only out for about 30 minutes, but during that 30 minutes, I was reading by flashlight. Why? Because I loved the alternative take on history. I loved the ideas of new aircraft and ways of doing things that fascinated me. The characters were well done and while I was reading the book, I celebrated and mourned right alongside them.  If I had one complaint, it's that I didn't realize this was the second book in a series. It does explain though why at some points, I felt as if I ought to be familiar with a character that I wasn't. Ninety-Five percent of the time though, this book did great as a stand alone.

Would I recommend that you track down a copy? Absolutely. As for me, I'm going to see if I can't get my hands on book 1 and book 3 of this series.

Photobucket

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own. PS I want a lobo. No idea what that is? Guess you'll have to read the book...hehe...

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Chicken and Dumplings

9:28 AM 0 Comments
Nothing says comfort food more than chicken and dumplings. All the yummy veggies in a yummy sauce with yummy bready dumplings...I may be drooling on myself now...

Ingredients:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
16 ounces frozen vegetables
2 cans cream-of-something soup, or combine in a saucepan:
4 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 can refrigerated biscuits, or one batch drop biscuits

Directions:

Put the chicken and vegetables into the bottom of the crockpot. Add the cream-of soups, or your homemade substitute.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. An hour before serving, shred chicken with two large forks, and drop in the biscuit dough.

Cover and cook on high for another hour. The biscuits are done when you can insert a knife and it comes out clean.

Serve in bowls, with a biscuit or two per person.


Photobucket

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Five Years...

1:02 PM 0 Comments
Five years ago today I got the call that would lead to the end of something that had started 10 months previously. Looking back, I think I can say that it was the day that I finally lost myself after the previous 5 years of fighting to find myself again. I suppose that I ought to give some background so that this makes sense to someone other than me...

In 2005, Peter and I agreed that it was time for a divorce. In June 2006, the divorce was finalized. Memorial Day weekend 2017, I left the house that we had bought together and everything I knew to move to New York. To say that I was lost is perhaps the understatement of the century. I left behind everything I knew and in some ways, my very identity. For the 10 years or so before that, I had been known as Peter's wife. Since 2000, I had been someone's mom. There was no me outside of those two roles. I didn't have any local friends. The only people I socialized with were online.

For the next five or six years, I fought to figure out who I was without being someone's wife or mother. (Of course, I was still the boy's mom but I had made the heartbreaking decision to leave the boys with their dad because he had the job, the money, the insurance, and the location where all of Ben's team were located.) I missed almost an entire semester of school due to a depression so bad that it crippled me and gave me panic attacks whenever I tried to get into the car to go anywhere. I ended up in therapy that was mostly useless because the therapist decided that my entire issue was that I was lonely. I wasn't lonely, I was lost.

I did finish that semester of school by some tiny miracle, dropping most of my classes, and having some incredibly understanding instructors. I finished the following year as well and while it improved, I never really shook that depression. Later, I would be diagnosed as Bipolar II. I graduated with honors with a degree in Psychology and was once again faced with the idea of having nowhere to go. The people I had been renting from wanted me out and I wanted out. The atmosphere was unhealthy on almost every level. In the end, I decided to "come home". I needed to be back with my boys. I found a house to rent in Sunfield, about 25 miles from them. It wasn't perfect but it was at least within driving distance. I threw myself back into being their mother. I drove (and still do) every day to town to do homework with one or both of them. I went (and still go) to all of their events. This was a me that I knew.

Slowly, piece by piece, I recovered from losing the world that I knew and I started to build up a new one. I was finding me again. I started writing again. I started crafting again. I slowly purged the things that I had accumulated and that I really had no need for. I felt as if I had close friends, even if they again lived nowhere near me. I started working out and eating better. In fact, I think I lost close to 75 pounds and for the first time in a long time, didn't hate myself when I looked in the mirror.

My Grandparents
Then, my world started to crumble again. The only person who I had ever felt loved me unconditionally got sick and suddenly everyone was leaning on me for strength and acted as if I could somehow magically fix it. I should have been stronger. I should have said no, but I didn't. They knew what cards to play. They reminded me how she'd taken me in when my own parents didn't want me. Before I knew it, I was spending almost every weekend at her house cleaning, organizing, purging, sorting and with my poor boys in tow. It wasn't fair to me and it wasn't fair to them, but the guilt laid on me was too much for me to say no to.

I stopped working out. I stopped cooking because I was tired and stressed and I was starting to crack around the edges. I was trying to keep everything normal but nothing was normal and the guilt of the fact that I was dragging my children into it added to everything. Five years ago today, my grandmother died after being sick for 10 months. I'm not going to lie. I was glad. I was glad that she was no longer suffering and I was glad that it was over. Except, for me, it wasn't over.

For the next six weeks, my family would guilt me into going through ever box that had been packed and sorting it into things they could sell and things they could toss. I was exposed to their greed, their hypocrisy, and their selfishness. They were allowed to mourn but I was expected to work. During that six weeks, I was pushed to my breaking point and at the end, when I finally had the strength or perhaps the desperation to say no more, it was too late. I had lost myself again. I had lost myself and I had lost the few close "local" friends that I had thought I'd had. I went home and buried myself..literally.

Boxes and boxes of her things had made their way to my house either because I'd brought them there or because they'd been dumped there. On top of that, I had started to surround myself with stuff in a desperate effort to feel some sort of security. In the years that followed, it would only get worse. There are very few who know the true conditions that I was living in and in some ways, still live in. I wish I could explain how this was "okay" to me but I can't because it wasn't. The worse the house got, the worse I felt. The guilt, the anxiety, all of it overwhelmed me until I was crippled and frozen by it.

Five years ago, I lost myself again and I'm just starting to find myself. Some of you have seen the tag Reclaiming Me either here or on Facebook. That's a very real thing for me.  Just over a year ago, I started purging my house again. I've backslid at times and made huge strides at others. Eight months ago, Nick convinced me to work with him on a book series. When he brought it up in exchange for doing something for me, we both knew that it wasn't a fair deal but neither of us cared. I think he knew I needed to push myself, that I needed a challenge and as for me, I felt ready to take that challenge. Oh, I've had major bouts of anxiety and self doubt since that agreement, but I finished book one and it's had good feedback.

Five years is a long time and I'm not back to the place I was before it happened. I wish that I could say that I was, but I'm not. Every day is a challenge on some level. Today, I woke up and my power was still out because of a wind storm yesterday. I was cold, tired from waking up repeatedly because i was cold, emotional because of today's anniversary and while what I really wanted was to have a message saying I love you, I had one that felt harsh...harsher than it really was but a tired me is a vulnerable me. I'm not going to lie. I laid on the couch for an hour and just cried. The world felt like it was just too much for me. Just thinking about it has me in tears again. This morning I relived the loss of everything that mattered to me and it's still in my head... but I got up, changed into jeans, and drove to someplace warm that had outlets so I could recharge things in case there's still no power when I get home tonight.

Five years is a long time, but it isn't forever and today I'm a little bit stronger than I was then. Today, I got up off the couch. Today, I walked out my front door. Today, I wrote this. Tomorrow, I will write more. Two years from now, I will make a final decision on where I'm moving to and hopefully, I will have the courage to do it. I know where I want to be at that point. It's not just up to me though, but today, under the fear and the emotions, there is hope.

Photobucket

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Cheeseburger Soup

9:21 AM 0 Comments
Cheeseburgers are always a favorite around here. I have secret dreams of traveling the country trying out different types of burgers in different places. It's just one of my food travel dreams. Do you have any crazy dreams like that? I have another one for specialty hot dogs...and crazy desserts...You know, I might just love to eat good food!

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon dried onion (or 1/2 of a white onion, diced finely)
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 cup milk (to add later)
24 oz Velveeta, cubed (to add later)
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Crumbled bacon (optional)

Directions: 

Brown the meat on the stove top with the onion, and drain off any fat. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a 5-6 quart crockpot, pour in chicken broth. Add garlic, bell pepper, and potatoes. Stir in the browned meat and onion.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until onions are translucent and potatoes are tender. Stir in milk and Velveeta 20-30 minutes before serving. If you'd like the broth thicker, blend a bit with a hand held stick blender.

Garnish with Tabasco sauce and crumbled bacon, if desired.

Photobucket

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Broccoli and Three Cheese Soup

9:16 AM 0 Comments
When your kids were young did you put cheese on their veggies to get them to eat them? Do you do it to your veggies? If so, you may just love this recipe. It's all those yummy cheeses with some veggie thrown in!

Ingredients:
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups milk
2 10 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets
1/2 diced white onion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup each of three different shredded cheeses

Directions: 

Mince the onion into really small pieces. Add the onion to your crockpot and top with the milk, broth, and spices. Stir in the two frozen bags of broccoli.

Cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-6. The broth is done when the onion is cooked nicely.

20 minutes or so before serving, shred all the cheese you are going to use (if you didn’t buy it already shredded) and stir it in.  The cheese will be stringy and will stick to the broccoli. If this bothers you, you can use an immersion blender to blend up some of the larger pieces of broccoli.

Serve with your favorite rolls or drop biscuits.

Photobucket

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

Follow Us @lifewithkatie