Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday: Healthier Trail Mix

You know, I never understood how people could get away with saying trail mix was healthy! Nuts in moderation, great, all those mono- and polyunsaturated fats, raisins are good----but m&m’s? C’mon people! Nice try! (ok, maybe dark chocolate of some kind!)
So today, I came up with this  (ok, this is nothing new for you, but it's new for us!):

A healthy trail mix bar. I set out organic craisins and pumpkin seeds. That was all the organic I HAD so I also put out chocolate Cheerios, raisins, and sunflower seeds. In the organics section at Giant, I wanted to check out their craisins, as Ocean Spray’s had been kinda slammed in Eat This Not That for adding too much sugar. So I check out Nature’s Promise, a plastic tub of craisins: $4.99!! And a crap-ton of sugar!! WTF Nature’s Promise?? So I go to the bulk in the same aisle and find bulk craisins with several grams less of sugar. Win! And, if you can believe it, they were OUT of pumpkin seeds. So I grabbed a packet of pumpkin seeds which just happened to be organic.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movie Mondays: DVD Review of The (new) Karate Kid

This movie is a bit different from the original and I think I liked it better!

In this version, the young boy is American but moves to China. Here he meets his “Mr. Miyagi” in the form of a super played by Jackie Chan. This movie is more serious and dare I say, spiritual almost? The chemistry between Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith is more serious, a little more intimate and father-son. Ralph Macchio always seemed to not understand Mr. Miyagi, thereby creating a wall between them. Yeah, they grew to care about each other, but in this one, you were rooting for Dre Parker’s (Smith) mom to get with Mr. Chan! You wanted a family for him because he was so much younger.

Then too you’ve got the improved level of film here. The original one seems like a B movie now that the new one’s out! Beautiful scenery and shots of China. Gritty shots of the little neighborhood Dre is living in. Additionally, the fight scenes are so much more complex and much better choreographed. Smith obviously knows what he’s doing! On the other hand, because Ralph Macchio didn’t have martial arts training before-hand, I guess that makes his version of a young un-trained man learning karate more authentic, huh?

All in all, I’d say this was not a “must-see” but if you liked the original, you’ll like this one even better! B+

My Hollywood Hubbies and Fantasy BFF's

I have recently created two new pages that I am so psyched about I could giggle!  (But I won't, cuz I'm not 12!)

My Hollywood Hubbies are those handsome hunks that I love to watch on TV, in the theater and via DVD (or any other way I can get them!).  All of us ladies have this list, even if it's only in our heads. 

Furthermore, you have those ladies you could watch all day...preferably in your comfiest pj's, with a cup of something hot (chocolate? tea? coffee? what's your poison?) some (dark for me!) chocolate, popcorn, shades drawn and be perfectly content.  These are my Fantasy BFF's and I would watch them on TV over and over again!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Review: Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Pale Demon (Rachel Morgan/The Hollows #9)Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember the first book I picked up in this series, thinking, “This is labeled urban fantasy basically? Do I like urban fantasy? I don’t think I do….” But a synopsis or a quote from a reviewer, something caught my eye and I read it anyway. I was intrigued. I laughed so hard (Jenks the pixie and his derogatory Tink comments, oh boy!) and I was unnerved and completely hooked. It was like nothing I’d ever read before.

PALE DEMON by Kim Harrison is another amazing reading experience! This book in the series throws Trent, Ivy, Jenks, and Rachel (as well as a few other characters they pick up along the way) into a car on a road trip. Why? Rachel doesn’t know, Trent won’t tell her---and let the tension commence! Trying to get Trent to California in one piece (which Rachel promised Quen she’d do!) is going to be harder then she thought, what with the wild-Elven-magic wielding assassins, the witch coven on her tail, Jenks going missing and more! Not your usual road trip! Throw in a soul-devouring demon that seems impossible to defeat, some breath-taking fight scenes, and the roller coaster that is Rachel’s relationship with Al (or Trent for that matter!) and you'll be alternating between highs and exhaustion. And the end? It leaves you flipping pages in disbelief! It can’t end there, can it??

I love the twist and turns this book (or any Kim Harrison book!) takes. The character Rachel Morgan has grown exponentially and is so real, you feel like you must have met her at some point in your life. Every time Rachel is in a corner, I read all the more eagerly, knowing she’s going to pull something out of absolutely nowhere to send us flying in disbelief. And then the author is gonna slam us on the way down with a plot twist! You literally cannot guess what is going to happen next. The author knows her world better then we the readers do and her world is expansive in a way that keeps the author from painting herself into a corner, but not in a way that is uncomfortable for us as the readers, if that makes sense; we feel safe, like walking through the uncertainty that is Wonderland, but having Alice holding our hand the entire time.

I love love love Kim Harrison’s Rachel Ward series and I highly recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in urban fantasy with a strong female character or who likes magic, mayhem, witches and bounty hunters! (oh alright, there's also vampires, pixies, werewolves and elves!  Happy now?)

View all my GoodReads reviews>>>

See my comment on this book at Fresh Fiction.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recipe Review: Nut-Encrusted Salmon and Fufu

When we went to Disney World, we ate at a restaurant called Boma’s in the Animal Kingdom. Now, they had quite a variety of food, including lots of Mediterranean food. Those of you that know me well know I am a meat and potatoes girl! Fish is not something I ever eat….unless it’s battered and from a yellow box in the freezer. But for some reason, this salmon just looked so yummy to me: thick, flaky, called “nut-encrusted”—something else you should know is I love crunchy! Chips, pretzels, overdone meat, so the word “encrusted” just started me salivating! I also ate some couscous, which my hubby refuses to eat at home, so it’s something different for me to eat!

Image credit: Andrea P.
 For some reason, I couldn’t get that darned nut-encrusted salmon out of my head! So I decided, once I had cooked salmon for the first time ever this month, that I wanted to try and cook it the Disney way. Well, lo and behold, there is a website full of Disney recipes---and I found it!! That and one for “Fufu,” no lie. That’s mashed root veggies with some interesting spices.

So go check out that site, especially if you’ve already been to Disney World, it is so cool to make something and re-live your trip a little! Sigh.  :) I cannot, unfortunately, find the pictures I took of this meal! I’ve looked everywhere I normally save (all of 2 places!) and they are not there nor are they on the camera. One of those times I feel sure I’m losin’ my mind! Oh well, I’ll add them the next time I make this! lol

Nut-Encrusted Salmon
This was spicier then I remembered but I DID try to put the nuts in the blender in order to get them finely crushed. I roasted them myself in the oven, which would have been fine, but I think I put them in the blender too early (something about the oil settling after rising to the surface during roasting? I don’t know, all I know is, it was a little mushy and clumpy in some spots in the blender!) I tried to add some extra sugar (not a lot!) to cut the burn, but while I tasted only a mild burning sensation after chewing and swallowing, my hubby kept saying, “It tastes sweet…that’s what I taste is sweet..” Sigh. Figures. Next time, I’ll do less blending, no adding extra sugar either!

Another caveat: 1/16th of a cup? It’s a tablespoon! Why they are using those measurements, I have no idea!

I know sounds funny but it tastes so yummy! (that could be its commercial jingle!) It is such a simple recipe and I have combined root veggies before but it tasted nothing like this!

Image credit: ilovemypit

It has potatoes and sweet potatoes and then coriander and cinnamon, very simple. But it was so good! Normally I use butter and cinnamon on a baked sweet potato, but this was really good, I can’t even explain it; subtle flavor, the spices enhanced the flavor of the veggies in a way that was smooth not spicy or anything. This will be one of my new favorite comfort foods! Really!

All in all, I was happy to have some new flavors on my plate (and in my mouth!) but I have to say, the kids scraped off the topping and my husband shrugged over the potatoes. So maybe something for a girls’ night? lol

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Review: The Raven Queen by Jules Watson

"Thanks, Lara - great and thoughtful review....I felt you really got what I was trying to say, especially about it being a love story between Maeve and herself. Great insight!" --Jules Watson

The Raven QueenThe Raven Queen by Jules Watson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Raven Queen is a historical fantasy based on a Celtic legend.

Always a fan of strong female characters—this one is a warrior queen—I also have a bit of an obsession with all things United Kingdom, love historical fiction, can’t get enough magical adventure….well, let’s just say this book has almost everything I have ever liked about reading!

From a reader’s perspective, this book is like swimming in very deep waters, sinking further and further under until you think you aren’t going to make it and then you come up for a big draw of air. And then you tread water for a bit, gaining your strength and before you think you’re ready, you’re swimming again. And the end of the story is you, washing up on the shore, drained, exhausted, and completely happy.

This story was absorbing and putting it down was like coming back to yourself. The story wove in magic (or the Source) quite seamlessly, making it seem a part of the characters and of the storyline as well. Many stories that include magic often write it like a prop that characters manipulate. Jules Watson makes the Source almost another character, something the characters relate to and with throughout the story. However, ultimately, this is a love story, not only between two people, but between Maeve and herself.

From a writerly perspective, I am in awe. Ms. Watson’ s complex layering of character development, relationships and plot drive is nearly flawless. The pace is relentless, character driven and logical. I learned a lot while reading this story and I anticipate reading it again for those very reasons!

I would say my only negatives are that some of the fighting at the end drags on a bit; after the break-neck pace, it had me skimming and chomping at the bit to get back to Maeve! And I was quite surprised that this is classified as a YA, but the sex scenes were a little racy for YA, if you ask me; I wouldn’t want my child younger than 16 reading this!

Other than that, I highly recommend The Raven Queen, by Jules Watson.

This book was given to me by the publisher, via the author.

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Technology Seminar for Parents

The topic of internet predators, the safety of Facebook, picture posting, children on the internet and how to keep them safe are all hot topics. I am now so paranoid, my kids aren’t allowed on the internet (at ages 6 and 4 ½ y.o.) even though they are technologically savvy (surprisingly so!). We are constantly telling them, ok, you can play on the computer….but only go to these 5 websites….and don’t click on anything else….don’t talk to anyone….don’t “friend” anyone…and don’t tell anyone your name!! Or where you live!!

That sounds like great fun, doesn’t it? Play the game, don’t interact with anyone!

And the paranoia doesn’t stop there!

Not only do I NOT post any kind of pictures of my kids online, I get fully irritated with people who do (otherwise adored family members who post without my permission!).

What do I think is going to happen?

I don’t know! Maybe some perv will become so enamored with my child, they’ll stalk us with their keen intellect and computer skill so they can kidnap them!... Hey! It could happen! Stop snickering!

But I don’t know, is that possible? Can people do that??

Well, one way to find out is to take a class! And it just so happens that St. Joseph’s of York on Kingston Rd does just that but get this: it’s FREE! Yes, you read that right! F-R-E-E.

So I contacted the St.Joe’s IT team and Thomas Steele was kind enough to respond. I asked him a few questions so you wouldn’t have to! Here’s the deal:

Read more here >>>>>>

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Page Elements

Excuse me if this is in any way incoherent--it is now 1:37am and besides that, I lost a whole hour of sleep last night!!
I am trying to get the graphics just right on here so I can get the heck back to writing--I have a whole list of topics!!---but I wanted to let you know I didn't like the headers and social media icons I had installed. I didn't like all the texturizing ....and of course, now I don't like the color combinations....and the little symbols on the bottom of each book are all different sizes...and the digg book looks different from the others at the top...but  *sigh*  I am too tired to fix it!! lol
I'll do it, to bed!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Didn't MEAN to be Toxic to the Environment!

I would love to help the environment.  I really would. The thing is, it’s expensive.  And time-consuming.  And a pain.  

And I don’t like feeling obligated to do anything, quite frankly. It’s why my Thank You notes have fallen off in recent years! (I’ve resented being told what to do since I was about 4, my mother tells me!)

At any rate, I was noticing something yesterday: I have quite a few things that I should probably be doing….that I just don’t. Enough for a list. So here it is (you know how I love my lists!)

1. I should be composting. Totally don’t. Think about it…don’t do it. Down the disposal.

2. Not using plastic of any kind. Use plastic every day, I do! (I’m sorry, I seem to have just channeled Yoda for a split second there!) The best I can do: trying not to microwave it since plastic can bleed chemicals into your food. But, honestly, what doesn’t?

3. I use re-usable grocery bags, but guess what? They wear out. And they cost money to purchase. And to replace. So I don’t have enough for all my groceries. I tell them plastic is ok for the rest. In my defense, we use the heck out the plastic bags!! Dirty smelly diapers, dog poo, broken glass, etc etc. We do what we can.

4. I leave the water running while I brush my teeth. But, it annoys me to no end when my husband or kids do it. Go figure.

5. Recycle used aluminum foil. My sister seemed quite surprised I just used it and threw it out. Can you believe it?? I throw out used foil! The nerve!

6. I do not rinse and reuse my ziplock bags. I’m sorry, it’s just gross. I cannot always remember what used to be in what bag and frankly, I don’t want to be worried about what used to be in there mingling with what I was using it for currently. For example, I’d always worry that the gallon ziplock I was grabbing for the kids’ spare clothes used to have meat in it. Even if it’s cleaned. Blech.

7. Hanging my clothes on the line. Love the smell, however, need a clothes line to do it! And can you imagine, with kids, trying to dash outside to spend 10-15 minutes to hang wet laundry? I’d come inside to rooms that looked like a cyclone hit. Truly. Not even feasible! Instead? H.E. (how do you type that??) and energy star washer and dryer---just going to have to do!

Can you believe Walmart has a flickr account? At least, someone posing as Walmart does....
Image credit: Walmart Stores

Going organic. Great premise. Again, with the high prices!! I thought the whole point was less chemicals and whatnot! Why isn’t that cheaper!! I’m grocery shopping with a binder of coupons and a calculator for God’s sake! Help a shopper out! There are virtually no coupons for organics. Get with the program people! It makes me want to…

9. Grow my own fruits and veggies. But who has the time for that crap?

NOT my garden...not even my pic!
Image credit: Bukowski18

10. I use disposable diapers. I can’t see trying to get set up for your baby by buying cloth diapers that run $20 a piece or more, especially when you need a good 20 of them to get through the first 3 months or so, they get changed so often! You also can’t just run grab one when you realized you haven’t LAUNDERED YOUR DIAPERS! Who wants more laundry with a newborn?? And then as they get older, and their poop changes and you gotta clean that out before you can wash it..?? Ew. Sorry. Not happening!

And that, my friends, are my environment-ruining contributions. That’s just around the house. We also own 2 non-electric cars…worse: they’re a pick up truck and an SUV.

So when saving the environment is no longer expensive, time-consuming and a pain, I'll be right there.  In the meantime:  Sorry.  My bad.

Movie Review: Due Date

2 out of 5 stars.

One star for containing Robert Downey Jr. One star for Jamie Fox.  Ok, half a star for trying to hard.

I’m really bummed about this movie for a number of reasons.

1. I really liked Robert Downey Jr. I had grown to really like him, thanks to Iron Man, and while he was good in this….

2. It was just really crass. And not in a funny, HaHa, don’t we all pick our noses sometimes, I can relate kind of way but over the top gross-ness.

3. It was a birthday present.  From my own list.  Sigh.  What a waste! Can I get a do-over??

I always wonder what people are thinking when they read the script of the movie you are watching (and hating) ---did this particular gross scene look better on paper? Play out differently on the set then they anticipated? I am having a hard time recalling any genuinely funny scenes, they were all either crass or over the top.

Mr. Downey himself is great and has great comic timing and Zach with-the-unpronounceable-name can be very funny because he’s always so deadpan, but still…I just feel like having two totally different characters---one we would consider “normal” and one totally cuckoo-weird-o---in the same car would be funny enough if they were good writers. It was one over-the-top thing after another. You got to the point where it was like, “Why is he still with this guy?”

I wasn’t sympathetic to the character of Ethan at all; he was gross and obnoxious in a completely oblivious way and once my friend came to get me, I would’ve left him there. Any rational human being with an ounce of compassion and a healthy sense of self-preservation would have made sure he had money and then left him at the hospital. And then the thing with Mexico? So stupid. I mean, it could’ve been funny, until Ethan/Zach stole the cop car, then it was just dumb, leaving me yelling, “oh come ON!!” at the TV.

I think that funny is in relating to a character, when you can see yourself and you laugh because you know

 EXACTLY what they are talking about or going through! This movie took moments that could have potentially been that….and then stretched them all out of proportion until they snapped. They ruined the funny!

I would say that if you loved American Pie or the Van Wilder movies, you’ll probably love this. More man humor than my humor! (Sorry guys!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How LEGOS are like Roaches...

Yeah, you heard me...

1. They are everywhere.

2. They seem to multiply exponentially.

3. I find them places I don’t like, like on my kitchen counters and on the bathroom floor.

4. It is enjoyable to suck them up with the vacuum cleaner.

5. Stepping on them in the dark is extremely unpleasant.

Image credit: Phillie Casablanca

6. It always aggravates me to look under a piece of furniture and find them underneath.

7. When I see them all over the place, I feel like my house is dirty and messy.

8. They’re tiny.

9. They make their way into every crack and crevice.

10. When you clean them out in one room, they show up in the next.

Image credit: midom

All in all, I don’t want roaches in my house and Legos are now just a necessary evil because my 6 year old is now emotionally attached.

Damn you Legos, damn you!


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