Monday, October 29, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Orange Chipotle Ribs

10:13 AM 0 Comments
It's the end of the month already! How does this keep happening? Can you believe it's only 2 days until Halloween? I wish that I lived in an area that got a lot of trick or treaters. I've never outgrown my love for this holiday. Who knows...maybe next year I'll start rebuilding my yard display...until then...yummy food!

Orange Chipotle Ribs:

3 pounds beef ribs
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cloves smashed and chopped garlic


In a mixing bowl, mix together everything except for the ribs. Place the ribs into your crockpot and pour the sauce over top.

Close and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on high for 5-6. The meat is done when it has reached the desired tenderness and is no longer pink.

Then, once they're done, try to resist grabbing one and eating it right over the crockpot! Instead, serve them up with a veggie and maybe even some rice and enjoy!

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Review: The Blood That Binds

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Book Review - The Blood That Binds - Jo Ho
I love these covers!
Blood never lies… unless what you’re seeing isn’t real.

A new urban fantasy series from the award-winning screenwriter of ground-breaking BBC TV series Spirit Warriors.

After a trip to a place of magic seemingly leaves the girls with more questions than answers, Tyler takes off to spend some much needed time with Ally only for danger to have followed them with potentially devastating consequences for the sisters.

Meanwhile, Marley has family problems of her own. Realizing that she has never known anything about either side of her family, she broaches the subject only for Paul to evade her questions. Why is he keeping secrets from her, what doesn’t he want her to know?

With the other girls preoccupied with their own issues, Eve takes the opportunity to try to mend bridges with Cassie. What should be a nice dinner out turns into an ordeal, however, when an unwanted chance encounter causes more antagonism between them. As Cassie tries to deal with the aftermath the only way she knows how, she just makes things worse.

Frustrated with the way things have gone down, Eve retreats home but finds herself confronted with the very secret she thought was dead and buried…

Will the girls be able to defeat their own personal demons before the real ones catch up with them?

Saving the world has never been this Twisted.

I'm not a big fan of serials and yet, I can't stop myself from choosing this series over and over again. It seems that I need to know what happens next!

The Good:

I'm enjoying seeing more and more of the girls' backstories. They're interesting characters in themselves which is nice to see in a "group" setting.

The Bad:

I'm just not feeling the interpersonal relationships in this segment as much as I did the others. Also, while I'm enjoying the bits of the "original" four, I really would like to see more. I'm hoping that as we get further in, more of the backstory will be revealed.

The Summary:

I'm still really enjoying this series. I would warn you to read them as back to back as possible. I had to let a month or so go by in between this and the 3rd and found myself confused for the first bit as to who was who and what they were doing. 

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, October 22, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Orange Beef

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I'm a sucker for sweet and citrusy and this week, my youngest son will be finding out the results of his audition to be a member of the Kalamazoo Youth Jazz Orchestra so I'm hoping that this will serve as a celebration dinner. Fingers crossed!

Orange Beef:

1.5 pounds beef round steak, sliced or beef stir fry strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1 small head bok choy, cut in 1-inch chunks
Cooked white or brown basmati rice for serving


For absolute best results, marinate the meat the night before in a plastic bag with the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, honey, ginger, and orange juice). In the morning, dump the contents into an empty crockpot and add the vegetables on top.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, high for 3-4, or until meat is fully cooked and super tender. Serve over rice with the juices left in the crockpot.

Keep your fingers crossed for him. He loves performing with this group and it doesn't hurt on the college applications!

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Book Review: Swell Time For a Swing Dance

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Swell Time For a Swing Dance
December 31, 1941. Young Houston socialite Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., can’t imagine a better way to send off the old year and ring in the new than by dancing through the night with her fella, Pete Stalwart. But a swell evening soon takes a terrible turn when a fellow dancer with moves like Fred Astaire ends up dead on the dance floor. And before the hands on the clock can point to midnight, a finger is pointed at Pete, accusing him of murdering the young man.

Then after Pete is hauled away in handcuffs, the night goes from bad to worse . . . and Tracy’s sweet grandmother is accused of stealing an ancient artifact from the museum. Now Tracy must team up with her boss and mentor, Sammy Falcone, in order to find the stolen statuette, unmask the real murderer, and restore the reputations of those she loves the most.

Yet as America becomes embroiled in another world war, the risks and sacrifices intensify—even on the homefront. And Tracy soon finds her own home invaded by a near parade of questionable characters, while unsavory suspects lurk in the shadows, and a ruthless reporter makes her life miserable. With time ticking against her, Tracy must be willing to swing past the setbacks and hop through the hazards if she hopes to solve a mystery that involves a lot of dancing . . . and a lot more danger.

Y'all know that I've been a long time fan of Cindy's writing. I would read Buckley and Bogey all day, every day if I could. This is my first foray into her Homefront Mystery series though. In fact, this is book 2 and somehow I haven't read book 1 yet! Luckily, while reading book 1 may help with knowing the characters a bit more, this book completely works as a stand alone.

Outside of my son's love of Jazz, I don't really know a lot about the 1940s so seeing all of the references within the book really helped for me to feel as if I were alongside the characters as they worked to solve the mystery of who did what and to who! I love the individuality of each of the characters. It really brings them to life.

If I had one complaint, it would be that Tracy spends an incredible amount of time referencing her favorite book series. It got a tad old for me but as soon as I'd sigh, the story would move on and I'd be sucked right back into the pages! If you're in the mood for an old timey mystery, this series would be a great one to start with.

Now for even more excitement! The author is doing a giveaway during this blog tour and you don't want to miss out on the opportunity to win some goodies, so be sure to enter! Oh! And silly me, I forgot to mention that she's made this book free on Kindle for the duration of the blog tour! Head on over to Amazon and get it today!

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Good luck and happy reading!

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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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wordsmith Wednesday: Want to Get a Real Feel for the Forties? | Cindy Vincent

9:03 AM 1 Comments
Get a Real Feel For the Forties

Thank you, Katrina, for hosting me here today!  As I’m sure you know, I have a real fascination with the 1940s.  And having released my second WWII mystery novel, Swell Time for a Swing Dance, I think I’ve also racked up about a gazillion hours doing research!  Now people ask me how they might find out more about the era.  So here’s my recommended “quick list,” for those who want to get a real feel for the forties . . . and WWII.

I’d suggest that people start by watching these old black-and-white movies:

1.  Casablanca

First on my list is, of course, one of the most famous movies of all time, Casablanca.  With the war as a backdrop, we see the romance between Rick and Ilsa, and one of the most iconic final scenes ever shown on the silver screen . . . or on your big screen TV, as the case may be.  Be sure to get out the tissues, because you’re going to need them, folks!  As an author, I also find this movie to be very skillfully and tightly plotted.

2.  Mrs. Miniver

This movie shows what life was like in England during the war, and especially during the Blitz, those horrible months when Hitler bombed England—relentlessly. 

3.  Since You Went Away

This movie has some similarities to Mrs. Miniver, but it’s set on the American homefront during the war. 

4.  Confessions of a Nazi Spy

Based on the real-life case of Rumrich Nazi spy ring in the U.S., the term “Fifth Column” is mentioned.  Fifth Column essentially refers to enemies already within a country, ready to help take over when their army invades.

5.  Stormy Weather

This one is purely for fun, with fantastic music by Fats Waller, Lena Horn, and my favorite, Cab Calloway. Here’s a clip with Cab Calloway and the Williams Brothers:

6.  The Maltese Falcon 

Yup, I’ve just recommended another Bogart film.  It couldn’t be helped, since this movie was considered the best mystery/thriller of the year.  And believe me, you won’t really “get” Bogart until you see him as Sam Spade. 

Now that you’ve watched all these movies, let’s move on to some books.  While there are tons and tons of books written about WWII, here are a few of my favorites: 

1.  Those Angry Days by Lynne Olson

2.  Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson

3.  Wolves at the Door by Judith Pearson

4.  The Hollywood Canteen by Lisa Mitchell and Bruce Torrence

5.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Last, I’d suggest visiting a museum or two. 

1.  If you’re ever in New Orleans, please take time out to visit the National WWII Museum.  Not only is it one of the top museums in the country, but it’ll give you an education like nothing else.  It’s really one of the best ways to learn about the war.

Here’s a bit about the movie that’s shown there every hour.  I’ve seen it several times, and I never leave dry-eyed.

2.  Finally, here’s a link to the Pacific War Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, another excellent museum to visit.

And there you have it, my quick list for learning more about the forties and WWII!

Thanks again, Katrina, for hosting me. I always enjoy your blogs, and I have to say—I truly envy your cooking skills!

And thank you to Cynthia, for joining me here this week! I've been a fan of hers for ages and blessed enough to be friends with her on Facebook. I'll be reviewing her new book Swell Time For a Swing Dance on Friday so make sure you stop by and also, swing over to Amazon and download the book yourself!

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Mongolian Beef

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Every so often I just crave something a little bit different than the things we make around here. I know that you know how it is. You're super busy and you don't want to spend a million years cooking but you still want something delicious when you walk in the door after a long day...Enter....

Mongolian Beef:


1.5 pounds flank steak
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sliced green onions – set one aside for garnish
1 teaspoon dried minced onion (or 1/2 fresh onion, diced very small)

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter (if allergic, use black bean paste)
3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch (to dredge meat -don't add to sauce mixture!)
1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)


Slice meat into thin strips and toss in a Ziploc bag with cornstarch. Add all of the liquid and dried spices to your crockpot, and then the peanut butter, and mix well. Add the garlic and three of the sliced green onions. If you are using fresh onion, add that now, too. Place meat on top and carefully toss to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Flank steak is thin and has very little fat, and will cook quickly. There isn't a lot of liquid in this dish, so if your crockpot tends to cook hot, check it after 3 hours.
The meat is done when it is no longer pink and has reached desired tenderness. Serve over rice and garnish with freshly sliced green onion.

I know that seems like a lot of ingredients but it goes together super fast! I haven't tried it yet, but I'm guessing that this would make a great prep in advance and freeze meal. Just keep your dredged meat in a separate bag from your sauce.  If you try it that way, let me know. I'd love to hear how it turned out!

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review: See No Evil

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The End of the world is coming yet Marley doesn’t even know what she is much less what she can do.

A new urban fantasy series from the award-winning screenwriter of ground-breaking BBC TV series Spirit Warriors.

With the First Seal broken, Marley and the girls finally learn what Michael is up to… and it isn’t good. Christian is more determined than ever that they put a stop to him but is avenging his mentor more important to him than the girls’ own lives?

Tyler finally starts her new job but gets quickly into trouble. Exhausted by everything she must do, she uses her power to secretly brew up her first potion. It’s just a little something to get her through the day, she’s positive it isn’t going to be a problem…

After Eve says some hurtful things, Cassie uses her powers to escape her own insecurities, but when a cute guy hits on her for the first time in her life, all bets are off.

While the others try to deal with their issues, Marley has some big problems of her own: specifically, the terrifying ghost that keeps coming after her until Marley decides to take drastic measures in a bid to drown out all of her unwanted visitors, a move which ends up leaving her in terrible danger.

All the while, Michael is making big moves towards his evil grand plan…

Saving the world has never been this Twisted!

Fans of The Mortal Instruments, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars will love this thrilling new series.

Just like your favorite TV series, Twisted consists of many episodes. See No Evil is episode 3. A new episode will be released every eighteen days!
Free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Things are heating up! This episode has the girls all over the place, but still not really coming together as a team.

The Good:

The characters are still uniquely individuals and the story keeps rolling along. I start reading and I don't tend to stop until I reach the cliff hanger that is sure to come at the end of each one of these episodes.

The Bad:

Without knowing just how long this title is going to be once all of the episodes are going to be released, I'm a bit concerned with the pacing. Since I don't know though, everything could be just fine!

The Summary:

Still a fun read if you're into the paranormal at a young adult level. Be aware though that this is a serial so there's no telling just how many episodes and just how long it's going to take before you get the entire story. At the writing of this post, only one has been released and another four are available for pre-order. I hope that gives you some idea of what you're in for!

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, October 8, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Meat Lover's Chili

9:52 AM 0 Comments
If I had to say what my favorite fall dish would be, I think I would say chili every single time. My usual recipe is pretty simple, but sometimes you just want something a bit this recipe certainly covers that!

Meat Lover's Chili:

2 pounds beef stew meat (frozen is fine)
10 ounces smoked andouille sausages, sliced
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (whole can)
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (or about 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups beef broth


Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Place everything into your crockpot: meat, sausages, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and all the seasonings. Stir in the broth. Cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. For chili, the longer the better.

Serve with your favorite toppings. We love saltines or oyster crackers, shredded cheese and/or sour cream! No matter how you serve it, it's yummy!

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Review: When Through Deep Waters

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Alicen McCaffrey finally has the life her mother always dreamed for her: beautiful home in Santa Monica, successful husband, adorable daughter. Then tragedy blows her carefully assembled facade to pieces. Worse yet--Alicen feels solely responsible. At rock bottom, she decides to accompany a childhood friend back to Red Lodge, Montana, where they spent summers together as kids.

The peaceful mountain landscape, accented with lush forests and small-town charm, brings back happy memories of time spent with her beloved, eccentric Grandma Josephine. Alicen begins to hope that perhaps things could be different here. Perhaps the oppressive guilt will lift--if only for a moment.

But when Alicen starts hearing voices and seeing mysterious figures near the river in the woods, she begins to fear she's completely lost her sanity, as it's rumored her grandmother did. Or might there be more to Red Lodge than meets the eye? Could the voices and visions be real--and her only means of finding the healing she so desperately needs? Or will they prove to be her final undoing?

Sometimes you pick up a book and you have no idea if it's going to be a good fit for you or not. That's part of the reason why I write up book reviews. I want to help others find books that they're going to love.

The Good:

Ms. Dekker writes amazing lead characters. She does such a wonderful job of sharing Alicen's grief and the dive into depression. I could relate to Alicen and the struggles that she had after watching her "perfect" life fall to pieces. I felt as if I were walking right alongside her as she struggled. This was made easier by the wonderful job that the author does at setting the scene. I could see the woods, the small bookstore, the house, and all of the places that Alicen finds herself. 

The Bad:

This book is completely labeled as the wrong genre. It isn't really a mystery or a thriller. I would have tucked it more under paranormal fiction, if anything. Also, while it didn't bother me, some may be bothered by the theme of self-forgiveness due to their beliefs that only God can truly forgive. Like I said, this wasn't an issue for me but I wanted to give y'all a heads up in case that sort of thing may be an issue for you.

The Summary:

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The fact that it was listed as a thriller worried me but as I said above, it really isn't a thriller. It's really a book about finding yourself again after the world has taken your light away. For me, I am very glad that I took a chance and picked up this book. I hope you will too.

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, October 1, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Maple BBQ Beef

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Happy October! I can't believe how fast this year is going by already! I just had my birthday a week ago and suddenly it's October and Halloween is just around the corner! My baby is already over a month into his senior year of high school and I'm bugging him constantly about college applications...thank goodness for my crockpot!

This week, it's all about one of my favorite fall flavors...Maple!

Maple BBQ Beef:

2 pounds frozen solid stew meat
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes (or 1 large onion, peeled and diced.)
2/3 cup beef broth


Dump everything into your crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for about 5 or 6 hours. If you can, stir once about halfway through cooking. If you can’t, it’s not an issue. Just stir well before serving.

Your meat is finished when it can break apart with a spoon. Serve with mashed potatoes and/or roasted vegetables.

Question: What's your favorite fall flavor? Comment below and let me know!

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