Monday, August 29, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Banana Pudding

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2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
4 bananas


Use a 1.5 quart crockpot for this recipe.
Put the peeled bananas into a zippered freezer bag and squish them. The bananas will still be slightly chunky.
Open the cans of sweetened condensed milk. Dump them into the crock. Mix in the bananas.

Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours, or on high for 1-2 hours.

Stir and pour into serving dishes and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.


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Friday, August 26, 2016

Book Review: Kingdom of the Hill Country

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For eleven years, the Earth has been recovering from the supernova flare, but in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, a new threat has arisen, a bandit horde brutal enough to send Helen Black, the independent minded horse doctor and rugged survivor of the Star Time to seek help from the Austin City Guards. Only James Fuller, son of the despotic Mayor, has his own priorities, with no time for the pretty, but rude and outspoken girl he'd met only once before, when they were children. The fate of the city and all its people depended on what he could do with a handful of troops, broken machinery with empty fuel tanks -- and the obscure and puzzling words of the city's infallible fortune teller. The Techno civilization was gone, but would everything descend into the horrors of the Hunters Cult, or would this be the start of a bright new future? Helen and James were the keys to it all.
When I picked up this book, I had no idea what to expect. I'd recently finished Mr. Melton's "Follow That Mouse" and while I enjoyed it, this book didn't seem to be of the same type of book. Guess what! It wasn't!

I can't recall when or if I've ever read a book that was futuristic but at the same time wasn't filled with advanced technology. It was really interesting to see how people were living without the modern technology that we so often take for granted. It made me chuckle to think about how people get on me about how many cookbooks I have when everything is available online. In this book, there was no internet. I guess I'd be doing a bit better than some, huh?

If I have one complaint about this book, it's the ending. I don't want to give anything away so I'll just say that it felt a bit forced. Other than that, the character development felt honest and seeing some people turn to bad while others did what they could to help others felt real. It wasn't until I reached the end of the book that I discovered that this was actually book two in the series. I'm going to be looking for the other books in this series so I can let you guys know if you should pick up just this one or the whole set!

As for this book, I can say... Yes! If you come across this book, pick it up and check it out! I don't think you'll regret it.


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, August 22, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Apple Dumplings

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2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls.
2 granny smith apples, sliced
1 stick of butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup Mountain Dew


Spray your crockpot insert with cooking spray.

Roll out the crescent roll dough, separating the triangles. Fill each triangle with one or two apple slices and roll them up. Pile the crockpot high with all of the dumplings. Melt the stick of butter in the microwave, and stir in the cup of sugar, and the cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over the dumplings. Then add 1 cup of Mountain Dew, pouring it over the top.

Prop lid open with a wooden spoon or chopstick and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or until the dough is brown and cooked through.


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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Me Update

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Hi all! I realized today that it's been quite a while since I posted just a random update post. Since I have a bit of time before I need to go pick up the youngest, I thought I'd stop by and say hi! Hi!

Thing here are actually going pretty well. There are the usual concerns but for the most part, we're doing okay. I've been making slow progress on the house. Watch for an upcoming photo update post from the kitchen. It's been a long summer though. I've rarely been at home and it's very much taking its toll on me. I'm tired. How tired am I? So tired that I can't stop giggling over this darn image.

Surprisingly enough, my mood seems fairly stable. I'm incredibly appreciative of that fact. Usually when I get this run down, I'm a complete disaster. Right now, though I have my moments of melancholy, it's not crippling me. I'm doing okay and it puts a huge smile on my face to be able to say that. Ever since I went to Baltimore, I've been working on me. It was pointed out to me then that I spend most of my life hiding away and I realized that the person was right. I had gotten to the point where I was scared of most everything.

It hasn't been easy but one little step at a time I've worked on reclaiming me. I've started working on my weight. (You can read about that over on Welcoming Weight Loss) I've gotten back into working on the kitchen. I went out for drinks one night when I was invited. My biggest thing? I've taken on a co-author role on a series of books. The opportunity was offered to me over a year ago but I was too afraid to agree to do it. Now, even though I'm not as confident in myself as my partner is, I'm doing it - one word, one paragraph, one chapter at a time. I've also decided to further my education. Not with another degree quite yet (there's some serious financial mess to clear up before that can happen), but with an hour every other week during my writing time where I focus on something. Some of you may remember Caliban's website. I'm working my way from beginning to end of that. It's a bit of a journey of self-discovery. Once I finish that, I have a ton of blogging and writing tool pdfs that I'd like to go through. Once the boys are back in school, I'm going to increase the frequency for working on the book and for "homeschooling" myself. I do want to go back to college and most likely get a second bachelor's degree and then who knows, one day I may even become Dr Kat. I kind of like the sound of that.

For now though, things are going well. I'm doing well. Finances are always tricky, but I'm not letting that defeat me. I'm keeping busy doing what I can do and trying not to focus on the things that I can't control.

Eek! I just noticed the time! It's time for me to get changed and to head into town to pick up Roger. We have some grocery shopping to do and then home. I'll be back soon though. I have to tell all of you what the boys are up to!


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Friday, August 19, 2016

Book Review: Follow That Mouse

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Dot Comal loved her home town, although the Utah ranching community of Ranch Exit was too small to call a 'town'. She had her horse, Pokey, and her father to care for, and Ned from the next ranch over was comfortable to be around when he showed up on his motorcycle. But things were changing. The animals, and even her father, were showing signs of a growing irrational rage. Only Watson Winekia, the old Paiute shaman claimed any knowledge of what was happening, but he was too old and he expected Dot to heal the valley. She was at a loss, until a strange mouse led her to bigger secrets than she'd ever imagined, hidden below her feet. She had to wield mysteries hidden for decades quickly, before her home town and everything she loved was wiped off the map Hang on to your reality, because Henry Melton, award winning author of the YA adventures Emperor Dad and Lighter Than Air, takes us on an adventure just on the other side of the line into fantasy.

If you recall, I've reviewed a couple of other books by Henry Melton and I pointed out that he was better suited writing full novels versus short stories. It turns out that I was right! In my first foray into his full length novels, I was pleased to discover that not only did this book hold my attention, it had me picking it up every time I tried to put it down.

This book is a great blend of small town, sci-fi, and fantasy. I loved the aspects of magic mixed with science. When I finished it, my first thought was to wonder whether or not there had been a sequel written to this book. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything that indicated that there was. So, I guess you'll just have to read this one and if you enjoy it, write the author some fan mail asking him to tell all of us what happens next!


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, August 15, 2016

Crockpot Monday: 5 Layer Brownies

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It's dessert time! Yum! Did you know that you can make desserts in your crock pot? Yep! For the next 5 weeks, I hope you enjoy!


1 16 oz package of brownie mix
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup oats


Use a small 1.5 quart crockpot for this recipe. If you want to use a larger size, you’ll need to increase the amount of ingredients so that they spread over the entire crockpot base.

Melt butter and pour it into the crockpot. Add water, egg and brownie mix. Stir until the mix is totally incorporated. The batter will be thick. Pour the can of condensed milk over the top.  Layer on oats, coconut and then the walnuts.

Cover and cook on high.  Test with a knife after two hours, if it comes out clean, cook for another 20-30 minutes with the lid off to get rid of the collected condensation and to help solidify the condensed milk. You will know this is done when the edges pull away from your stoneware.


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Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club

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For every woman who has ever dreamed of starting over, or being a better mother, or just knitting a really nice scarf . . . When her husband dies in a car crash--not long after announcing he wants a divorce--Jo Mackenzie packs up her two rowdy boys and moves from London to a dilapidated villa in her seaside hometown. There, she takes over her beloved Gran's knitting shop--a quaint but out-of-date store in desperate need of a facelift. After a rough beginning, Jo soon finds comfort in a "Stitch and Bitch" group; a collection of quirky, lively women who share their stories, and their addiction to cake, with warmth and humor. As Jo starts to get the hang of single-parent life in a small town, she relies on her knitting group for support. The women meet every week at the shop on Beach Street and trade gossip and advice as freely as they do a new stitch. But when a new man enters Jo's life, and an A-list actress moves into the local mansion, the knitting club has even more trouble confining the conversation to knit one, purl two. The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club is an uplifting, winning tale about the healing power of friendship and new beginnings. It's a charming novel that will delight all passionate knitters--and win over befuddled, would-be knitters, too.

If you know me, you know that I cannot resist piles of books looking for a new home. In this case, I picked up this gem of a book off of the library free shelf when we popped in to use one of their tables.

It's been a while since I've dived into the chick lit genre, but I rarely regret when I spoil myself with it. This was no different. I started reading this while away on my trip and I'm pretty sure that I finished it in nearly one sitting. I absolutely loved Jo and more than once I completely related to her and the things that she was going through.

I appreciated how the characters were written in a completely realistic way, including Jo's boys. As a mom of two boys, I know what little boys can be like and hers fit that bill perfectly. As a non-knitter, I was also happy to see that knitting was a part of the story, but not *the* story. I'm excited that this is actually the first book in a series. I'm off to add the other books to my Amazon wishlist now!


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Monday, August 8, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Adobo

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Chicken Adobo:

3 to 5 pounds of chicken meat
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 bay leaves
1.5 cups shredded carrots
1 yellow onion, sliced in rings


Assemble the chicken in a plastic zipper bag with the salt, pepper, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and vinegar the night before. Place into the fridge overnight.

Slice the onion in rings and place the rings at the bottom of the crockpot. Add in the shredded carrot. Pour the contents of the zipper bag over of the onions and carrots.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5.


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Friday, August 5, 2016

Book Review: Sea Garden

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Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas-rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere-from the critically acclaimed author of The Lantern

On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden's owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian …

Near the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life . . . and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.

Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?

Ingeniously interconnected, this spellbinding triptych weaves three parallel narratives into one unique tale of love, mystery, and murder. The Sea Garden is a vivid and absorbing chronicle of love and loss in the fog of war-and a penetrating and perceptive examination of the impulses and circumstances that shape our lives.

A few weeks ago, I was blessed enough to be able to go away for a week. Life had been burning me out and I needed the time away. On my way out of town, I stopped at the store and happened to pick up this book. After all, what's relaxing time away if you don't have a book to read while you're doing it?

I fell in love with how the author brought these stories to life, but I almost quit reading after the first novella in this book. The ending was...odd....and it didn't feel like it offered any closure to the story. Thank god I kept reading! By the time I was partway into the second story, I had almost forgotten my frustrations with the ending of the first. By the time I finished the book and saw how all three stories tied into each other, I was thrilled that I had picked this up!

If you get the chance, make sure you give this entire book a chance. Don't stop at the first story. Read the whole book and then decide for yourself! As for me, I enjoyed it. The author does a great job of drawing you into the story. If you do read it, let me know what you think!


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Monday, August 1, 2016

Crockpot Monday: Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

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Buffalo Chicken Lasagna:

uncooked traditional lasagna noodles
4 already cooked chicken breast halves
Jar of prepared pasta sauce
1 cup buffalo wing sauce
3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
Tub of ricotta cheese (15 oz)
2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella and cheddar blend)
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (optional)
1/4 cup of water


In a large glass bowl, combine cooked and chopped chicken breast, the pasta sauce, and 1 cup of buffalo wing sauce. Ladle a big spoonful of the sauce into the bottom of your crockpot. Cover with a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. You'll have to break them to get a proper fit.

Add a smear of ricotta cheese to the top of the noodles. Add a layer of chopped bell pepper. Sprinkle on a handful of shredded cheese. Repeat layers until you run out of ingredients.

Add the bleu cheese crumbles, if desired. Put the 1/4 cup of water into your empty pasta sauce jar and shake. Pour the liquid over the top of the entire lasagna.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on high for 4-5. When cooking time is complete, unplug and take the lid off of the crockpot. Let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting into so that the cheese has a chance to set.


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