Wednesday, August 20, 2014

July 2014 Playlist

Here is a playlist of the 30 songs that impacted me throughout the 31 days of July!  Enjoy




1. Your Guardian Angel-The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: This is such a beautiful song, I always want to stop and listen whenever I hear it.

2. Defy You-The Offspring: I don’t think I can ever mention enough times how much I love The Offspring!  This is one of their greats.

3. Penguin-Christina Perri: I love penguins, I love Christina and this is a cute song, now I want to write a song about Lobsters….

4. Togther-The XX: The Great Gatsby seriously had one of the greatest soundtracks of all, I love this song.

5. More Than Love- Amerie feat Fabolous:  Songs like this could go either way with the ending that they chose for the video.

6. Come Close-Mary J. Blige: This will always be one of my favorite Common songs, and Mary J. looks likes she hasn’t aged a day.

7. You-Mya: Great song, would be nice….

8. Selling the Drama-Live: Because teenage years, that’s why 

9. God Bless the U.S.A.-Lee Greenwood: This song makes me cry every time I hear it.  You can’t have the 4th of July without this song.  I will always think about being at the Linvingston 4th of July Rodeo watching the fireworks.  

10. 1979-Smashing Pumpkins: Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness…. Need I say more?

11. You’ll Be In My Heart-Phil Collins: Liam was really into Tarzan in July, and the stupid movie made me cry multiple times every time we watched it….  Such amazing lyrics and what they represent.

12. Beautiful-Snoop Dogg feat Pharrell and Charlie Wilson:  This song will always and forever remind me of Tech School and Graham's Central Station......

13. Next to You-Chris Brown feat Justin Bieber: Even those this video is pretty dumb(which is why I opted for the lyrics version instead), I do still love the message of this song.

14. Ironic (Acoustic)-Alanis Morissette: In case the original wasn't awesome enough, this acoustic version is for when you want the same message in a slower tone :) You can never go wrong with Alanis.

15. Over the Love-Florence and the Machine: How can you not love a FATM song?  This song is so beautiful, and I always love her lyrics, and it comes off of the amazing Great Gatsby soundtrack.  

16. Don't You Wanna Stay-Jason Aldean feat Kelly Clarkson: Yeah yeah I know country music, but I can recognize a great song with great lyrics regardless of genre. 

17. Rosie's Lullaby-Norah Jones: I was blessed to be able to see Norah in concert, and that girl is talented.  This is such a beautiful song.

18. Soldier of Love-Sade: Sade is the queen of music, and I too am a soldier of love.

19. I Miss You-Blink-182: Blink reminds me of growing up and I always loved this song.

20. Let It Be-Blackmill feat Veela: Blackmill never disappoints, they always have entrancing songs.  Love this one!  "Let it come, and let it be"

21. Derezzed (Glitch Mob Remix)-Daft Punk: Because this song is straight awesomeness, and shows the art of musical prowess.

22. Can You Handle It-Usher: This song is just hot, and slow and I love it.

23. Fat Bottomed Girls-Queen: Before Sir Mix-A-Lot there was Queen...  Even if Freddie Mercury was picturing something else in the front.....  It's still a classic :)

24. Falling Slowly-Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova: "I don't know you, but I want you all the more for it Words fall through me, always fool me, and I can't react.  Games that never amount to more than their meant will play themselves out"  Such power in those lyrics.  I have to stop everything and listen when these two amazing musicians get together.  If you have never been blessed with the opportunity of watching Once, you need to make your life better by doing so.  That movie never gets old for me.

25. Open Your Eyes-Snow Patrol: I seriously cannot get enough of this song.  I could listen to it on repeat for days.  I always have to crank it up and sing along.  This song just speaks to me in so many ways! 

26. Lost-Michael Buble': Michael has been gone from my playlists for far too long with how much I love him!  This is another one of his great songs. 

27. Cookie Jar-Gym Class Heroes feat The Dream: This song is so hilarious and brilliantly put together.  I just love Gym Class Heroes and Travie McCoy :) 

28. Spectrum of the Sky-Break of Reality: Just a beautiful instrumental song.

29. Stay With Me-Sam Smith: I love this song Sam can seriously sing, it's definitely heartfelt and heart breaking.  I think we have all had that relationship that was doomed from the start but had some sort of crazy chemistry that you wanted to keep fighting for it anyway. 

30. Turn Your Lights Down Low-Bob Marley & Lauren Hill: I will always love this song, such a great (post mortem) collaboration.

31. End it On This-No Doubt:  Seemed like such a fitting song to wrap up the playlist from the songs I had to choose from throughout the month :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rogue Hunter: Inquest

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rogue Hunter: Inquest is a book written by Kevis Hendrickson. It is the first in the Rogue Hunter series and centers around a galactic bounty hunter named Zyra Zanr.

Rogue Hunter is a Sci-Fi novel that starts out with a news bulletin that states that the wanted killer Boris Skringler has been captured in New Venus. The bounty hunter Zyra Zanr went to retrieve him and was also captured, who is now believed to be dead.

It took me about 4% of the book to figure out what was going on… and then I couldn’t put the book down. I lost sleep I got so into the story. It is not just any book that can possess a reader in the way that Rogue Hunter:Inquest had with me. I loved about 85=90% of the story. But when the galactic battle began, I felt like the visualization and character connection was all of a sudden missing. There were all these names of ships, but not a good idea of the size or capability of them. Also the new players on the scene in the battle had little descriptors that stood out, except for their eyes.

Overall, the flow of this book was exquisite. I loved that Kevis was not afraid to push the envelope and that Zanr was not choosy in the sex of her heart’s desire. There was not a lot of background in the beginning, but flashbacks filled the reader in on what brought Zanr to the present predicament. It was easy to connect with Zanr and root for her. The ending was one of those “please don’t let it be true…” sort of endings that left me wanting more from this series.

I give this book a 4.5/5 stars. If it wasn’t for the jumble of the battle I would give it a 5/5 either way for site review purposes, it deserves to be rounded up to a 5. For a book that I cannot put down in my busy lifestyle that is saying a lot about the story telling ability of the author. I highly recommend this book as an entertaining read. It is most suitable for people who enjoy sci-fi, romance, intrigue, betrayal, suspense, unsavory characters, fiction, woman-empowering, etc.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Beef Minestrone Soup-One Pot Recipe

For my birthday my mother got me a bunch of mini cookbooks.  One of them was full of one-pot recipes, so of course I had to find one and completely jack with the ingredients.  Here is the result of that fun, it turned out quite delicious. :)

Ingredients:
1 lb Hamburger
Seasoning (Basil, Oregano, Alpine Touch, Crushed Red Pepper)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
1 Carrot (Peeled & Sliced)
1 Zucchini (Peeled & Sliced)
2 Celery Ribs (Chopped)
10-12 Grape Tomatoes (Diced) *substitute a can of diced tomatoes if needed
3 Large Tomatoes (Crushed) *substitute can of crushed tomatoes if needed
5 Mushrooms (Chopped)
1/2 Can of Black Olives (Sliced)
2 1/2 Cup Beef Broth
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Cups Bowtie Pasta
Shredded Cheese to taste

Directions:
Add the hamburger to a pot and cook on medium.  Once browned add the oil, garlic, carrot, zucchini and celery.  Cook for about 4 minutes.  Add in remaining ingredients except for the cheese and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes until pasta is al dente.  Stir occasionally and serve when done.  Stir in the cheese and top with basil and enjoy!

Brown the hamburger in the bottom of the pot
Add the oil, garlic, carrots, zucchini and celery
Add in the remaining ingredients and mix together
Mix in the shredded cheese and enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fire Country

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Fire Country is Book 1 in the Country Saga and written by the talent David Estes.  Fire Country is a book based around a girl named Siena who lives in Fire Country, which is essentially a desert type terrain that stays hot for the majority of the year.

This book was truly phenomenal.  David has created a unique world, realistic characters, a new governing body and even a fitting language for the setting.  Fire Country is a breath of fresh air after all of the unfinished products I seem to have read recently.  There was amazing flow, I didn't have to worry about constant interruptions with typos and grammar issues, and it was easy to get lost in this world as I was rooting for Siena and wanting her to rise above her social status and find a way to find true happiness in life. 

Fire Country happens in a somewhat post apocalyptic world where the population is much less than it was and the life expectancy is much lower with the average person dying at age 30.  As someone who turned 30 this year, I found this crazy to think about that this could be my last year.  Due to these circumstances, the fire people have rules enacted that involve girls turning 16 to become bearers for the tribe.  Once a quarter every girl at the age of 16 must attend a "call" ceremony.  This means that she will be paired with a randomly selected man over the age of 18 to become his "bearer" and to bear his children.  Once having a child she will be expected to bear another child ever three years after, until the household is full.  A normal full household has 3 "bearers" and nine children.  Siena is a "scrawny" girl prone to daydreams and has no interest in becoming a bearer, and not having any choice in who her call will be.  Unfortunately for her, her father is in high-level leadership in the tribe.  Through her slight rebellions she comes to discover unimaginable secrets, and just when you think the scandal of the tribe is enough for the book, there is a new and crazy turn of events. 

David has made such a brilliant story with Fire Country and each character comes to life from Siena to her family and friends and even the ancillary characters.  Even when in a depression I couldn't help but chuckle at Siena's dry and witty humor and her sometimes conversations with Perry.  Siena shows the world that even a skinny young girl can stand up against what she feels is wrong and find herself in the process.

I give this book 5/5 stars, and cannot wait to read book two in the saga.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys getting lost in a story.  Within these pages you will find intrigue, hope, rebellion, betrayal, love, independence and growth.  This book is more than fiction, it is entertainment at its finest.  Don't wait to pick this one up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Boxes, Grandma and Train Tracks: The Mind of a Toddler

July was filled with having fun with boxes, grandma coming to visit, SeaWorld, trains, and things that movie lead Liam to say.  I love my hilarious little character of a toddler, these are some of the moments I was able to record from the past month.  Enjoy!

Liam and I decided we wanted to start out Friday night off playing with trains, so I took him to Hastings to buy a new train since he had been so good, and they are the only place that sells wooden trains.  Liam immediately decided that he wanted a Play-Doh dentist kit and wouldn't not settle for a train.  I told him we would think about it but he had to carry it.  He carried that set for over an hour while we looked at books and various other things and he told me how much he wanted it, so after carrying it around for that long, I figured that he deserved it haha.

Liam found a candy heart on the floor of the car and stuck it in his mouth
I said "Eww, don't eat that."
He replied defensively "I didn't eat it mom, I licked it."
Then he kept explaining to me repeatedly how he only licked it and he wasn't going to eat it.
I said "Liam, it was on the floor of the car, licking it is still gross."
His response was "I just licked it mom."
Boys....


I was loading the dishwasher while Liam was getting out of the bath; upon completion I found he had dried off with 3 separate towels and changed around all the night lights in the house haha.

Liam found a lizard at bedtime, he kept hugging it and telling it her loved it and goodnight.  I finally got him to put it down gently with only a broken off tail.  He went in to use the bathroom and was in there for too long so I went to check on him and he was sitting on the floor with the lizard hugging it goodnight.  He was concerned about the lizard and asking me if it was ok.  I told him the lizard had to go outside to go home and put it outside, pretending not to notice the poor gecko's 3 smashed feet.  I hope it got away.  We talked about being gentle and I didn't have the heart to tell him the gecko was hurt.  

I think it just hit Liam at bedtime that grandma wasn't here anymore. He cried for a good while and wandered around aimlessly wanting grandma to play and read him a story... Wish we lived closer. 

Liam only wants to eat the frosting and the fudge/crunchy middle of his DQ ice cream cake.... he is definitely my child haha 

Liam swam on his own for the first time at the hotel pool in San Antonio!  So proud of my little man.


Liam and I are watching the Croods, and Liam says to me
"No mom, we don't hit people with rocks ok"
I agreed with him haha.


Liam turned my new laptop box into a toddler fun house haha.

Liam just brought me a box of birthday candles and told me "it's Liam's birthday."
I told him that his birthday wasn't until December.
He Said "Mom, sing Happy Birthday ok."
So I did and then he grabbed the candles again and said
"Go get my fire mom.."
Life with a toddler is never boring haha.


 Liam out of nowhere just screamed
"Mom! I Love You!"
So I yelled back
"I love you too"
He thought it was most hilarious things ever haha


I set Liam's lunch down in front of him and he asked
"You made this mom?"
I said "Yes I made it just for you Liam"
He said "Oh, good job mom, yummy in my tummy"
Motherhood has its perks
 


Liam and I are cleaning out the fridge, and he disappears at some point. I don't think much of it, until I hear him knocking on my bathroom door and yelling "Mom"
So I go see what he is up to and he has taken 6 slices of cheese and has them rolled up in a ball and is flattening them out with his play-doh rolling pin.
Liam then got to have (what I previously would have thought of as an unnecessary) explanation of the difference between cheese and play-doh...
Oh the joys of motherhood.


Liam just found a "little bunny FooFoo" video on youtube. Nothing makes it seem more ridiculous than to see it depicted. Haha I never realized just how silly that song was. When I was little it seemed so serious haha.

This morning when I woke Liam up for school he said
"Mom, I'm tired, I want to take a nap."
Maybe this means he will start sleeping in later....  

*No, it did not mean that at all yet this month     

 While reading bedtime stories,
Liam: "P is for Plane! Airplane"
Auntie Savannah: "Are you sure it's a plane? It looks like a pig"
Never a dull moment hahaha


 Liam's allergies are acting up and I just tried to give him a quarter dose of allergy medicine to help with his nose and he refused to take it saying
"I don't want to get better"
Bribing was effective in this instance...


I just went to check on Liam since he went back into his playroom and I caught him looking over lego building plans very intently like he was a foreman. He would take little sips from his cup without his eyes leaving the plans haha.

Tonight during hockey before bedtime Liam kept giving me "thumbs up mom" and then he would put an imaginary sticker on my hand, and I had to do the same for him haha.

Liam's new bedtime stalling technique is taking a really long poop with the door closed..... If you try to interrupt him he giggles and runs back to the toilet and says he needs to poop more... The only reason I can't get mad is that he actually does poop more....

Liam just told me "No bubbles in the eye mom, bubbles are for eating"
Oh the joys of bath time haha






























   















Monday, August 11, 2014

Hawaiian Chicken over Jasmine Rice

I was inspired by a similar recipe that I had made a couple of months ago, and Liam had really enjoyed it.  When we received two pineapple this week, I instantly thought of this recipe!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Seasoning (Barbecue, Mango Lime, Garlic Powder)
BBQ Sauce
2-3 Pineapple Rounds (Sliced)
1 Cup Jasmine Rice

Directions:
Add the oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Add the chicken and season it generously.  Cook until browned on both sides and turn heat to low.  Cook the rice in a rice or steam cooker.  If you do not have one, you can also cook on the stove-top.  Pour the BBQ sauce over top and allow to warm and soak in.  Add the pineapples on top and cook for another minute or two.  Serve over a bed of rice & enjoy!


Add the chicken to the pan and season it generously
Add the BBQ sauce and cook until warmed
Add the pineapples and turn off the heat, allowing to sit for 1-2 minutes
Serve over a bed of rice and enjoy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mirian

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Mirian is written by D.S. England.  It is book about the port city of Mirian and the people that reside there; mostly The Watch, the mercenary Talon, and other various riff-raff characters here and there. 

England did a wonderful job of setting up the story, there is a lot of action going on and the the story definitely has a dark, almost desperate tone.  The reader can connect with the characters and truly feel their struggle.  All main characters are well defined and described and I loved how there was a great all-around view of events from many different points of view.  This was written with a great fluidity so that you did not feel lost with the change in view point. 

Mirian definitely hits the ground running with instant intrigue and betrayal.  There are definitely many desperate moments, and also moments of singular character development and personal perseverance.  I definitely did not see the way the "plague" aspect was going to play out and thought that it was well-imagined by the author. 

I liked Seline the most, although she wasn't one of the main characters, and I liked to be in the mind of Theal, even though it came with many unexpected surprises.  The book does a great job of capturing the frantic situation that each character finds themselves in.  Captain Nathan Tam, definitely is a great example of an honorable man faced with a desperate time. 

The main detracting forces for this story are the same as most books I have read of late...  Typos and grammar issues.  In addition there were also several formatting issues in the Kindle format where a sentence would stop in the middle and big up tabbed down in the beginning of a new paragraph. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite the distractions.  I give the story a 4/5 stars, and would love to see a cleaned up version to earn the 5 stars this book can easily obtain.  Mirian ends with the intent on another installment into the series and left me with curiosity and yearning to know what is in the next story.  I will definitely be reading book two.  If you are into intrigue, betrayal, mystery suspense, action, character development, darker themed books, paranormal/fantasy than this book is definitely for you! 


Friday, August 8, 2014

Goulash From The Garden

I have been craving some delish hearty goulash for a very long time, and had a ton of veggies to use up before they went bad, so I decided to mix it all together into some delicious goulash.  I tried perusing the internet for goulash recipes to get an idea of where I wanted to go, but everything that I found was very boring and looked the same.  In the end I deiced to just close the computer and the cookbooks and just create my own from scratch, so here it is:

Ingredients:
1 lb hamburger
Seasoning (Garlic Powder, Spicy Montreal Steak, Alpine Touch)
10 oz Ditalini dry pasta (or elbow)
24oz basil, tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
1 ear of corn (cook, and cut the corn off the cob)
6 grape tomatoes (sliced)
4 mushrooms (chopped)
1 zucchini (peeled and chopped)
1/2 eggplant (peeled and chopped)
1 red pepper (seeded and chopped)

Directions:
Add the hamburger to a heavy bottom skillet and cook on med-high, add the seasoning.
Boil the pasta until al dente.
Once hamburger is browned add the sauce and warm. 
Now add all remaining ingredients and cook on low until all ingredients are thoroughly cooked and warmed. 
Serve with the hamburger sauce over a plate of pasta and enjoy!

Brown the seasoned hamburger
Add the sauce to the hamburger while the pasta is cooking
Add all remaining ingredients
Serve the hamburger sauce over the pasta and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thoughts on Technology & Humanity

When we moved from the sword to the gun, did we lose some of our humanity? Is gun use less personal? And are those using guns less skilled and ethical then earlier warriors who used the sword or bow?
In order to answer this question, one must define humanity.  Humanity can be defined as: the quality or state of being humane; the quality or state of being human; the branches of learning that investigate human constructs and concerns; the human race; whereas humane is defined as: kind or gentle to people or animals (Miriam-Webster 2014).  In that sense I would say that no, we did not lose some of our humanity; in some sense you could even go so far as to say that guns became more humane.  Many sword injuries do not result in an instant death or even a quick one, unless through beheading, which usually was not accomplished in one fell swoop.  Killing is still killing regardless of what weapon is being wielded. 
I honestly think that that a weapon being more or less personal has more to do with each individual and their values and beliefs, as well as their cultural and societal values and beliefs.  As a society death has become less personal and valuable.  We may have more humane ways of killing death row inmates with lethal injections, but that involves someone in another room pushing the buttons to activate the series of injections for a quick and low pain type of death.  If we are to take a look at earlier methods such as a firing squad, one could argue the humanity, but one could not argue the fact that it was much more personal to line up and look someone in the eyes and shoot them; whether or not the shooter knew which bullet was the one to deal the killing blow.  I do not see how this is less personable than a sniper.  Never having been a sniper myself, I can attest to those around me in the personal way in which they have felt and relived each and every death that has come as a result of their weapon being fired.  They watch many of these shots and aftermaths for kill assessment through a scope, but they image and those memories never leave them.  The same can be said for Drones, just because they may be classified as a “game” environment, does not mean that if it less personal.  Many people are now being classified as having PTSD from the images on those screens, in a drone situation you are there to watch and get a BDA (battle damage assessment), you can be made to watch helplessly if any bombs go astray or if your own people are being shot and killed by the enemy.  Again, skills and ethics have to do with the individual wielding a weapon, not the actual weapon itself. 


References
Miriam-Webster. (2014). http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humanity

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rise of the Trinity



I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Rise of the Trinity is written by Claudia Cullen and is based around a prophecy of triplet sisters that will stand as the only force to defeat “the destroyer.”  Slightly cliché, I know, but this book is worth the chance.

Claudia has done a great job of personalizing each sister in vastly different ways, Sinhade, Jessale, and Liana were all separated at birth to fulfill different obligations for their queen mother.  The world building and storytelling is definitely commendable.  Claudia has definitely created the great first to a book series (a Trilogy would only be right with the Trinity after all).  ;)

Although the girls are reaching their 15th birthday and rite of passage, Claudia superbly captures the older age of time in the book when the youth were burdened with adulthood life and decisions even before this age.  Each girl is mentally broken in a unique way, and each has vastly different strengths.  On their 15th birthday their father bestows upon them their birthright gift which opens up a whole new world for each of them.

Initially I loved Jessale the most, even though she is the most broken, but by the end of the book, I couldn’t help but champion Liana for her spark and independence.  Although the good vs evil fight has been; and will continue to be written about, a thousand times over, Claudia was able to make this story uniquely her own.  This book stands out from others in its genre.  

With all of that being said, I have to point out some glaring deficiencies.  TYPOS!  They are so distracting, and in this case it was mostly to do with character names.  There is an ancillary character named Enoch, whose name is spelled Enoch, Enock and Inoch all within the span of about 3-5 pages.  I also found there was sister name swapping several times.  I’m not sure if this had to do with another sister originally carrying out an action and in edit the sister’s role was changed, but the name was mistakenly left, or what was the case.  Luckily it was easy to keep reading and figure out which person was meant, but it did break up the flow of the writing.  

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars.  Despite the typos, it was an engaging story and was easy to get into.  The book hits the ground running and keeps the pace for the majority of the story.  This initial book in the series is like a huge set up for the main events to come.  I will definitely be reading on to the second book when given the opportunity.  If you are into fantasy, fiction, young adult, prophecy, light and dark, spirituality, and anything in between, you will enjoy this book.