Monday, January 30, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Boston Baked Beans

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Mmm...baked beans. Last week, I mentioned how much I love them. Want to know a secret? I love them so much that I keep my tv remotes stored in an old bean pot that's missing its lid! Okay, I loved the pot and needed an excuse to buy it at a garage! I do love baked beans though!

3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium onions, chopped finely, or 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound of bacon


Drain and rinse your beans, and add them to the crockpot. Add onion and brown sugar. Pour in the molasses and ketchup. Add spices. Stir to combine. Lay slices of uncooked bacon over the top of the beans.

Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, or high for about 4.

Try not to eat them before the rest of dinner is ready! Oh wait, maybe I'm the only one with that problem...


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Barbecue Beans

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I love baked beans and these are just a little bit different since they're barbecue, but they're still yummy alongside your favorite dinners! In our case, we do burgers year round (thank you, Foreman grill!) and these go alongside perfectly! I only wish I could get corn on the cob year round ...but then it wouldn't be as special in the summer...

1 pound of dry kidney beans (If you are crunched for time, this would work fine with 4 cans)
4 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
2 packages of Lil' Smokies, or cut up hotdogs


Wash and sort kidney beans the night before. In the morning, drain and put into a large pot with enough water to cover with an additional 2 inches. Cover, and bring to a boil. Boil briskly for at least 10 minutes before draining, rinsing in cold water, and adding to the crockpot. (This only needs to be done if you're using dry beans.)

Cover parboiled beans with enough water to cover another 2 inches. Cook in your crockpot on low for 7-10 hours. Drain and rinse the kidney beans then cover with bbq sauce and plop in your hotdogs or smokies. If you’re using canned beans, you can skip right to this step.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-3. Everything is cooked already, so it's just a matter of heating through.


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Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: The Kill Fee

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Poppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Faberge Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within - secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Faberge Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg - and the other treasures - should all be restored to the Russian people. Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect...The race is on to find both the key and the egg - can they be found before the killer strikes again?

When I chose this book to review, I had no idea that it was book 2 in a series. Thank goodness I didn't or I might have missed out on what turned out to be a fantastic book! It works just fine as a standalone. There, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's roll on to the actual review!

This book starts out with lots of explanation type stuff. There's a map, a list of characters, and and explanation to do with the differences between the White and Red Russians. Taking the time to read this really helped me get into the book. It helped me "investigate" alongside Poppy and while the results weren't totally what I thought, I also wasn't horribly surprised. I'm good with that. I'm not a giant fan of books where I feel like a total dingbat at the end.

The story is easy to read and Poppy is a fantastically likable character. The tidbits of history were one of my favorite bits but that's not surprising because I love history. All in all, this is a book that you're going to want to pick up if you're a lover of history and mystery.

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, January 16, 2017

Crockpot Monday : Baked Potatoes

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This week's recipe is one of my favorite things to eat but not always one of my favorite things to make! Why? Usually when I think to make them, it's late and it takes too long! Crock pot to the rescue! The best thing about baked potatoes is that they can be a meal in themselves if you pair them with some chili or other yummy toppings, you don't even have to make anything else!

Large Baking Potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
foil or parchment paper (optional)

Wash the potatoes and let them dry or dry them off. Prick them a few times with a fork and then wrap in foil or parchment paper, if you want. This step isn’t necessary. Add the potatoes to your crockpot. You don’t need to add water.

Cook on low for 6-7 hours on low or high for 3-6 hours or until desired tenderness. Check with a fork. When the potato falls off when poked with a fork, it's done.

Eat alongside your favorite meal or add your favorite toppings.


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Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review: Red-Blooded American Male

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Emmy award-winning photographer Robert Trachtenberg presents today's playfully "macho" coffee-table collection of 100 modern (and cheeky) portraits of men including Channing Tatum, Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, and more.

James Van der Beek in a state of undress; Mark Wahlberg arm-wrestling his son; Channing Tatum bromancing with friends in the park. These are the portraits of today's tongue-in-cheek masculinity, as conceived by Emmy Award-winning director and photographer Robert Trachtenberg. Red-Blooded American Male presents 100 of his most imaginative, striking, and unconventionally sexy portraits of both celebrities and regular guys going about their thoroughly modern lives. No longer do men have to be serious businessmen or hunky firefighters to be deemed attractive--they can also ride tricycles and get pedicures. Revealing a surprising (and often self-deprecating) side to Mel Brooks, Seth Rogan, Jimmy Fallon, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Hamm, Conan O'Brien, and more, this gorgeous coffee-table book features an introduction about male images and stereotypes plus pithy captions about each photo's shoot, giving readers a peek behind the curtain of a famed portrait photographer's creative process.

Every so often you come across a book and you just plain fall in love with it. That's exactly what happened the moment I opened up Red-Blooded American Male.  The photographs are amazing and I just love the descriptions that go along with the photos. The part that I like the best? The life that's in each and every photo. It takes an amazing photographer to draw out in these celebrities what Robert Trachtenberg drew out. I could probably go on all dang day about how amazing this book is if a) you love photography b) you love celebrities c) you love both or d) you have a goals of becoming a celebrity stalker. No wait, scratch d. Don't become a stalker. Go buy this book and admire these amazing people and the amazing talent of this amazing photographer from your favorite snuggly spot.


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, January 9, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Acorn Squash

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Oh my gosh! I completely missed a week. I'm so sorry! The holidays are always busy here and I plum forgot to sit down and work on the site. Time to fix that and hopefully with some recipes that you'll really enjoy!

Did you know that you can cook side dishes in your crockpot? Yep! Some may take a smaller one than you usually use but it can be done! Let's get started with one of my fall favorites that can be made anytime that squash is available!

Acorn squash
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 pinches of salt


Cut the squash in quarters, and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Put 1/2 Tablespoon of butter and 1/2 Tablespoon of brown sugar into each quarter. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon onto each brown sugar pile. Add a small pinch of salt to each quarter.

Lower the pieces into your crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for about 3. The squash is finished when it is fork tender and peels away from the skin easily.



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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Introspective Announcement

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Normally I would shrink down the images here to the "small" setting but I just can't with this one. I'm so incredibly proud of what that image represents that to shrink it would actually harm me. I'm sure you're thinking, yet again, that I'm a bit of a weirdo but that's okay. Let me explain what I mean...

That image is the cover to my very first book. Yep, I wrote a book. Okay, Nick wrote a book and then gave it to me and said it was mine now as much as it was his and to do what I wanted with it. So, after some serious nerves, I settled in and that's what I did. I tugged and tweaked, added a bit here, changed a bit there, and then gave it all back to him. He's taken it, formatted it, created this beautiful cover and is working on the publishing side of it.

When I first saw the cover yesterday, I nearly burst into tears because it's the fulfillment of a dream that I never thought would come true. It's one of those, if I were to die right now, I could die knowing that I did this. I was terrified, absolutely terrified, but I did this. I helped write a book and that's something I never thought I could do.

I can't remember a time in my life where I wasn't writing. By the time I was in middle school, I was writing poetry on a regular basis (and being envious of Kim Wisniewski because she got all the attention from classmates for hers) and it just grew from there. From the time my babies were in the womb, I told them stories. Still, it remained something private because like anything else I loved, I didn't think that I was any good at it. Years of being told I was stupid, useless, unwanted, lazy, etc had taken their toll and I rarely showed anyone anything that I wrote. Putting up my erotica pieces online helped with that a bit, but it didn't take long before people forgot that I even wrote them. I tried to be brave and followed a few people's advice and their belief that my writing was good and placed about half a dozen up on Amazon but in the 6 plus months that they've been up, I haven't sold enough for them to even send me a check.

Being a writer is hard. Being a writer who lacks confidence in her abilities can be crippling. When Nick asked me not once, but multiple times to work on this series with him, I thought he was crazy. It took him asking me multiple times over the course of a year for me to agree to work on it. I told myself that it didn't matter if I never finished, at least I would have stepped out of my comfort zone and tried. I had no idea how many areas of my world it would challenge me in.

If you were to look at the first five chapters, after my first pass at them, you wouldn't recognize me in them. In fact, I made an absolute mess of them. I spent those first five chapters fighting the anxieties that I would be a disaster at what I was doing, that Nick would see that I really couldn't write, and my dream of having my name on the cover would be destroyed. I can only imagine what Nick thought when I sent them to him. He never said anything though...simply I want to see more of you in this. He said that a lot as I worked through the 30 chapters that would become The Tether  - None Good. I want to see more of you in this. You can do this. You've got this. He wasn't overflowing with praise but every step of the way, I knew he believed in me. Knowing that saved me more than once as I fought my own shyness and nearly crippling anxieties to attend writing workshops and nanowrimo meetings.

The day I emailed him the final document, I so badly wanted him to be proud of me and to tell me that it was really good. I was proud of me. I don't often feel that way, but this time, I was proud of me. I'd overcome everything and maybe more of the words in the book were his than they were mine, but I'd had my "fingers" on every single one of them multiple times. This book truly is mine as much as it is his. It's my first and with someone I'm incredibly proud to be working with. Did he give me that praise? No, not really. He told me it was awesome work and asked about book two. That's him. Yep, good job, now let's start the next thing. He doesn't stop and he won't let me. I'm okay with that.

Then, yesterday and the cover...There it was. My name...and I was completely overcome with emotion. Sharing that image on Facebook and seeing him share it was like a dream. Then seeing people react and talk about how they want to read it, how they're just waiting to find out where/when..well, it just kept that high going. Every positive comment, every bit of encouragement and my insecure soul lapped it up. I had people offer to be beta readers and while I know that's not something we're likely to ever use, it felt really good to have people want to read it that badly. People believed in me and what I had done. They probably always have but I'm still insecure and worry. Nick will tell you that I worry far too much and need to shut off my big brain. He's right. I do and I do. It's a work in progress...

Then tonight something happened and I went from soaring high to crying in about 2 minutes.
Tomorrow I may see it as a silly little thing, but tonight it made me realize just how tenuous that pride and confidence about my writing really is. Suddenly I was questioning if I'd really messed something up and what if others read it and thought that it didn't work. Every horrible voice popped up in my head and suddenly I crashed.

Why am I telling you all of this instead of just saying omg, here's my book cover? Because I promised to be real with all of you. This book journey has had its highs and its lows and I wouldn't go back and change any of it. It's pushed me and I needed to be pushed. The past couple of days have shown me that I can do things, even if they're hard and scary. They've also shown me that I'm still pretty fragile in that oh my god I can do this department.  And you know what? That's okay. Life is a journey and each step forward is a good thing.

So, now that you've read through all of this...let me share with you the text that Nick included when he posted this image originally:

Yeah, I just had to show
you again! 
Something evil is stalking the streets of Baltimore, our only hope is the Keeper of the Tether - Sarah Taylor. The only problem, she doesn't want it and her only guide CT, the Grandson of the original Keeper wants it back. And there is a Demon, a Psychotic Killer and a secret society chasing them; all wanting the power of the Tether for their own nefarious plans. One bright spot, at least Sarah can summon an Angelic Guardian for protection, if she can figure out how to use the Tether. Watch the shadows as the battle for our reality is only just beginning...

The Tether - None Good is coming Easter 2017
written by Nick Davis of The Words & Art Of Nick Davis
And Katrina Roets of Katrina Roets - Author

Crazy, huh? That's me. That's my name. That's my little fan page. Of course, that's also Nick and Nick's fan page. I encourage you to like his. He does some really cool things. I think he also has a Kickstarter coming up so you'll want to be getting in on that if you can. Yeah, I know...I can't resist promoting someone else, but this someone else is pretty awesome. I promise I'm not just saying that because we have two more books to go or because I'm the editor on his other projects. He really is a great storyteller and talent. 
So what now? Well, now I take a few deep breathes and I get a firm grip on that feeling of excitement and pride that is still in there trying to fight past the anxiety and the fears. I take that and I smile because I did it. I did something I never thought I'd be able to do. Yep. Me. The girl/woman who was told she was stupid, that nobody would ever want her, that she wasn't any good at anything just proved every single jackass who ever spoke those words wrong, including myself. I did it. I helped write this book. I'll help write the next one and then I'm going to write the third one. Why? Because I can. I did which means I can.

As for all of you? Well, you keep your eyes and ears open for the official release date and the where to buy announcement.  I'll post it here, but if you want more regular book updates (I'm still getting used to this whole official author who needs updates thing), go hit like on my fan page. I post there about this far more often. Then, I hope that you'll try this book on for size and if you like it, let me know, write reviews, tell your friends, and maybe even buy book 2 when it's done and ready to go.


PS My next big dream is to have an actual book signing. Is that crazy or what?
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: The Missing Matisse

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Nazi planes were bombing Paris the day a lifelong, more personal war began for Pierre. It was the day he lost his identity.

Born into a famous family, Pierre Matisse grew up immersed in the art world of Paris and the French Riviera, spending time with some of the most famous artists of the twentieth century. The man he knew as his grandfather, legendary artist Henri Matisse, encouraged Pierre from a young age, creating a strong desire in him to become a great artist in his own right.

Being a Matisse was an important part of young Pierre's identity. So he was crushed and bewildered when, at the outbreak of WWII, that identity was suddenly snatched from him with no explanation.

So began Pierre's lifelong search to solve the mystery of who he really was, a quest that forms the intriguing backdrop to this memoir of a fascinating and adventurous life on three continents. Spanning the insider art world of 1930s Paris, the battles of WWII, the occupation of France by the Nazis, Pierre's involvement with the French resistance, his post-war work restoring art and historical monuments, and his eventual decision to create a new life in North America, The Missing Matisse is a story of intrigue, faith, and drama as Pierre journeys to discover the truth―before it's too late.

Pierre Henri Matisse was born in Paris in 1928. Brought up as the grandson of Henri Matisse, Pierre spent his childhood among some of the most famous artists of the twentieth century, including Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

During WWII, Pierre and his father, Jean Matisse, were heavily involved in French underground activities, wanted by the Nazis for their efforts in aiding the British spies and saboteurs. When the war ended, Pierre worked in the restoration of the art and historical monuments in France that were damaged by the war.

Now a citizen of the United States, Pierre is best known as "The American Matisse, the Artist of Freedom and Love." He is devoted to children's causes and has given or created pieces to help organizations such as Project Hope, The American Red Cross, numerous children's hospitals, missions organizations, and rescue programs around the world.

Pierre and his wife, Jeanne, live in Florida.
I wanted to love this but I'm afraid that I can't go above like. The book is written in present-tense which is really unusual for a memoir. The author also included a lot of information that just dragged down the story of his life instead of filling in the gaps. I had also hoped there would be a lot more regarding the mystery of who is father was. It seemed to pop up now and again but never in as much detail as I would have liked.

All in all, it was an okay read for anyone who enjoys history but not totally my thing.

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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