15 May 2013
THE ART OF WISHING by Lindsay Ribar is one of those rare books that I was waiting to read for months before it was actually published. I saw the blurb for it on Goodreads, and it caught my attention strongly enough to push it up toward the top of my "to read" list. So I was thrilled when a review copy arrived in the mail a day or two before the publication date. Of course, when you're anticipating a book like this, there's always the fear that it won't live up to your expectations. I'm happy to report that this one didn't disappoint.
Margo McKenna has a plan for everything. She knows exactly how she wants her senior year of high school to go, from getting the lead in the school play to getting accepted into the best colleges. When a genie grants a wish, derailing Margo’s plan, her orderly life falls apart. And when Margo suddenly finds herself in possession of the magical ring that gives its wearer control over the genie, she’s not so sure she wants to use her wishes. Even if the genie is someone as cute as Oliver Parish, the sophomore who is taking pictures of the play rehearsals for the yearbook.
As Margo and Oliver grow closer, she discovers that he’s being stalked by a man intent on destroying all genies, and only Margo can save Oliver’s life. But it will take more than just three wishes.
There were plenty of typical paranormal romance clichés sprinkled throughout the book, such as the instalove that sprouts between Margo and Oliver almost at first meeting. However, Ribar gives us a new twist on the three wishes tale, adding an element of mystery and intrigue with the murderous subplot. Girls who want a hint of romance, with a healthy dose of mystery and a few thrilling twists and turns will enjoy Margo’s story.
*Note (spoiler alert - stop reading now if you don't want me to tell you how it ends!!):
13 May 2013
I am so grateful for all of the Mothers in my life! I didn't write a post yesterday, because I spent the day being loved by my children and calling many of these mothers (mom, mother-in-law, grandmothers, sisters). But this morning, I saw this video, that perfectly sums up my feelings, so I had to share.
Love and hugs to you all!
Love and hugs to you all!
10 May 2013
Calling all Super-Secret Recipe Testers!For those of you who have already expressed an interest in helping me test my super-secret recipes, thank you so much! (If you indicated an interest in testing dessert recipes, you probably already got an email about this.) For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, read this post.
My first super-secret recipe that needs testing is:
(Click the link and enter the password I've given you to access the recipe.) Please remember that this recipe is TOP-SECRET! Do Not Share it with ANYONE, without express, written permission from me! However, you may share the COOKIES you make from the recipe with anyone you'd like. The more taste-testers you have, in fact, the better.
I had a little bit (okay a whole lot) of excitement here on my blog yesterday, when I got picked to be on Cupid's team for The Writer's Voice!! So, in typical Veronica fashion, I totally flaked & forgot to post the promised Crock Pot Gourmet recipe. (I've got to start scheduling these things in advance!)
Sorry about that, folks. I hope this delicious recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken makes up for it!
You will need:
1 lb. baby carrots (or regular carrots, chopped)
3 medium bell peppers
2 medium yellow onions
1 (12oz) jar apricot preserves
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Chop the onions and peppers into large (roughly 1-inch) pieces
and combine all veggies in the bottom of an ungreased 5-quart Crock Pot.
(*Note: You can also add pineapple chunks, if desired. I chose not to for this recipe, because I have a friend & faithful Crock Pot Gourmet reader who is allergic to pineapple.)
Arrange chicken thighs on top of the vegetables.
In a glass mixing bowl, combine ketchup, vinegar and apricot preserves. Stir to thoroughly combine.
Pour sauce over chicken.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until chicken is fully cooked.
(Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.)
Serve over Creamy Mushroom Rice (or your favorite brown rice) with a side of steamed broccoli.
05 May 2013
This yummy Crock Pot breakfast, Spinach & Potato Quiche,
can be easily adapted either for vegetarians:
or for carnavores, like my hubby & kids.
If you want the vegetarian option
(or if you're watching your fat and cholesterol intake), simply omit the sausage.
(This recipe doesn't easily adapt to vegan menus, though, because it's mostly eggs and cheese.)
You will need:
5 large russet potatoes
1 lb. frozen chopped spinach
4 large eggs
1 lb. cottage cheese
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
(or use extra sharp cheese, & you can cut it back to 1/4 lb. while still retaining the flavor)
6 oz. sausage patties (optional)
Place the spinach in a large, glass mixing bowl.
Thaw in microwave, just until you can stir it & separate the leaves.
Add cottage cheese and eggs.
Stir to combine thoroughly.
Slice potatoes into rounds about 1/8-inch thick.
Spray crock pot with oil, and layer potatoes on bottom of crock.
Top with approximately 1/5 of spinach mixture.
Add about 2 Tbsp. grated cheddar.
In third layer, add sausage (if desired) between spinach mixture and cheese.
Repeat layers twice more, ending with spinach mixture and remaining cheddar.
Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until eggs are set and potatoes are tender. (This is a perfect meal to put into the crock pot before going to bed for an easy breakfast in the morning.)
Serve alone, or with a side of steamed broccoli.
02 May 2013
I'm so excited to be participating in The Writer's Voice contest!Update: I'm so excited to be a part of Team Cupid for the contest!! I've been busily at work, high atop Mount Olympus with the other phenomenal members of Cupid's team, working on revising and polishing my query and manuscript. This is so thrilling, guys!! I can't wait for the official posts to go up on Monday, May 20th!!
There are 150 writers participating in this first part of the competition, selected randomly via Rafflecopter from the 243 total entries. (Is it silly that I'm thrilled to notice that Rafflecopter assigned the #12 to me, since my manuscript is titled TWELVE STEPS?) Each of us will have our query and first 250 words of our manuscripts up on our blogs by the end of today. Then, the 4 judges: Brenda Drake (the Contest Queen), Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), Monica B.W. of Love YA will hop from blog to blog to pick their teams.
The contest is based on the TV show "The Voice," and so each team leader will coach the 8 members of their team (+ 1 alternate) to help them polish their entries before the Agent Round (which begins May 20!!).
Here is my entry (wish me luck!!)
Title: TWELVE STEPS
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 70,000
Sixteen-year-old Andi has spent a lifetime in her sister's shadow, and she’s tired of being a second-class sibling. When Andi's crush asks her to fix him up with her sister, she decides it’s time to take action. She’s sure she could be as amazing as her sister, if people would only give her the chance to shine. But when Andi attempts to steal the spotlight by auditioning for Cinderella, she’s cast as the overlooked stepsister, a role she knows all too well. A kiss from Prince Charming proves disastrous, and her improved grades land her in the principal’s office, accused of cheating.
Andi may not be as perfect as her God’s-gift-to-the-entire-universe older sister, but she’s determined to show the world that second born doesn’t necessarily mean second best. As she works through her twelve step program, Andi discovers that her sister might not be as perfect as she seems, her crush might not be the man of her dreams, and she might be more talented than she realized.
There should be a support group for kids with perfect brothers and sisters. Something like AlaTeen, but without the drugs. We could all sit around and talk about how our perfect family members are systematically destroying our lives.
“Hello, my name is Andrea Andersen, and I am a second-class sibling.” And if my sister wasn’t so freakishly perfect, I wouldn’t be grounded.
I grab the last handful of hangers out of my closet and hurl the clothes onto the growing pile on my bed. Then, I scoop up all of my shoes and dump them into the middle of my bedroom floor. I slump to the floor in my now-empty closet and cradle my head on my knees. Usually, reorganizing my closet relaxes me. I love turning a chaotic mess into something organized and under control. But I cleaned my closet last week, so it’s not even a mess yet.
And I’m so not in the mood to sort through my clothes for Miss Perfect’s annual clothing drive.
I ignore the soft knock, but Mom opens my door anyway. “Jarod is here,” she says. “You have ten minutes.”
I suppress a squeal and scramble to my feet, smoothing my clothes and yanking my messy hair into a loose bun.
Jarod is here.
I must be dreaming. Jarod never comes over to see me. He’s usually here to drool over my perfect big sister, Alaina. But I’ve been grounded for nearly three weeks now. Maybe he’s missed me.
01 May 2013
So my blog has been fairly neglected for the past week. I had plans to post a yummy Crock Pot Gourmet recipe last Thursday, and I had all sorts of thoughts and random nonsense to share with you... but sometimes life gets in the way of the best plans. As you know, my first priority is always my family. And this past week has been super busy on the Mom front. Blogging, writing and recipe creation had to take a back seat for a while.
What have I been doing instead?
I spent 2 afternoons taking my daughter to Alamosa Books (our favorite independent bookstore here in Albuquerque) with her friends, so that she could film the scenes she needed for her "movie trailer" video book report project. (She needed a "library" setting for the scenes, but the only days available for our filming were the days that the public library was closed. We're so grateful for the friendly staff at Alamosa Books who allowed us to pretend their bookstore was a library for a few hours!)
We spent one afternoon recording the sound files for the video, and locating some royalty-free music we could use for it as well.
I spent one evening teaching my son and his scout troop to sew the bags they need for a week-long Trek this summer.
I spent one afternoon/evening (continuing late into the early morning) helping my daughter navigate through technical difficulties with the video-editing software as she put her presentation together.
I took time to attend an awards ceremony with my son, as he was recognized for his academic achievements this year.
And I entertained a houseful of little girls overnight, as we celebrated my youngest daughter's birthday with a pizza, movies & makeovers slumber party. (Complete with homemade build-your-own pizzas
I even got to visit my oldest daughter's class when she presented her book report and the video for the LIBRARY JUMPERS project, and she told me I could post a clip here.
It's been a crazy, busy week, and I'm exhausted. But I don't regret a moment of the time spent with my family.
And I'm slowly getting back on schedule, but first I think I'll take a nap!