Friday, January 8, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie (in the CrockPot!)

What you'll need:

3-4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken (the one with herbs is delicious)
1 can cream of onion (or whatever flavor you like the most)
1 chicken bullion cube
2 cups Irish red potatoes, cubed
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups fresh peas
salt & pepper
1 can of Pillsbury Grands Southern Style biscuits (or whatever kind you like)

What you'll do:

Place your frozen chicken in the CrockPot. In a separate bowl, mix the cream of chicken, cream of onion, bullion cube, potatoes, carrots and peas. Salt & pepper to taste. Pour all over the frozen chicken. Place the lid on your CrockPot and cook on "low" for 6-8 hours.

Right before you're ready to eat, bake your biscuits. Serve the Chicken Pot Pie over open-faced hot biscuits. Voila! Deeeeeelish! This is really good leftover, as well. Shred what's left of the chicken and mix it in. Enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Gifting Series by K.E. Ganshert

Just before the new year, friend and fellow author Betsy St. Amant posted a photo of a book on her Facebook. You have to understand, Betsy's a charming, extremely gifted writer. She's cheerful, funny, and refreshingly honest. So, when she recommends a book, you jot down the title and get to reading-stat.

The picture was of K.E. Ganshert's The Gifting, a young adult inspirational science fiction dystopian (whew!) set some time in the future (she does not indicate an exact year), when God has been eliminated from society.  Churches do not exist. Though it is not against the law to consider oneself a Catholic or Protestant, per se, if one does declare such beliefs, a gasp usually ensues.

Teresa Eckhart (Tess) takes us on a first-person journey of initially believing she's crazy--she sees things, spiritual beings, most cannot--to realizing she has The Gifting. Growing up in a Christian environment, my mother occasionally reminded that a spiritual dominion exists our human eyes cannot see; that, if we could see this realm, we would be terrified.

Well, that's what I thought of while reading this series. Tess and those with The Gifting (like her brooding/intense yet likable love interest, Luka) not only see this realm, they also harness the ability to interact with it through dreams. The adventure upon which these two embark is both memorable and edge-of-your-seat exciting. Each chapter ends with you wanting to read the next--just one more and I'll go to sleep! The secondary characters are beautifully written, possessing their own unique personalities and personal agendas. The writing itself, Ganshert's voice, is simple yet pleasingly rhythmic.

Much like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, this series possesses the old-as-time yet highly effective theme of Good versus Evil. The struggle is real--really, it is--and there are times when you honestly don't know if Tess is going to make it to the edge of destiny's path. What stood out the most to me was the masterful interweaving of Ganshert's own moral compass into lines and paragraphs and chapters. When you catch these tidbits, you'll know it, because she's making you think. And I personally love that in an author. The challenge to question your own beliefs; to ask yourself, "What would I do if faced with this situation?"

I recommend this series to ages 15+.

You can check out Katie's website here: Her novels can be purchased at all major book retailers, as well as in electronic format via the usual suspects.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

P.S. While you're at it, take a peek at Betsy's site as well:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Journaling

I can't take credit for this one. Admittedly, I've learned a lot from UK beauty blogger Tanya Burr. More than just showing us how to apply winged eyeliner perfectly, Tanya has a knack for helping us enrich our lives. Whether by sharing old recipes or methods of dealing with chronic anxiety, she always finds a method to keep it fresh, keep it simple, and keep her followers interested.

One of Tanya's New Year's resolutions is to book journal. As an avid reader, she likes to keep track of what she's read and how she felt about it. I think this is a great idea. For writers who read (and you should be reading!), this covers two importances:

1. Remembering what you've read; and
2. Training yourself to REVIEW.

If you're a published author, you know the importance of reviews. How meaningful they are--even the bad ones! So, why not keep a book journal and not only jot down thoughts about the novel in your own personal notebook, but also transfer your review to Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.? Win win.

Here's what I've read so far this year:

The Gifting, The Awakening, and The Gathering by K.E. Ganshert

Wrong by Jana Aston

I recorded these finished books in my book journal, then wrote what I thought--an honest review. Then, I popped those reviews on Amazon & Goodreads. It's a great feeling to leave feedback for an author who's worked hard to give the world his or her finished baby.

What do you plan to read this year?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Sunday, January 3, 2016

A New Year

I'm not much on New Year's resolutions. Sure, I always want the run-of-the-mill cliches everyone wants: a better diet, a stricter workout regime, and more time with my family. But to list goals I intend to keep? I'd rather not set myself up for failure.

But something happened at the end of last year that made me want to try harder this year. Epiphany pops up like that, I suppose. You never know when it'll happen or, more importantly, why it happens when it does. One morning, while pulling into the parking lot of my son's pre-school, the thought suddenly hit that I should already have the option by now to go back home and write. The idea slammed like a punch to the chest. So rattled by shock, I was, that, as my son and I walked hand in hand from the parking lot to the front door, I fought both a sudden bout of tears and the wind whipping and dragging freshly curled hair across expensive lipgloss.


I wanted to hide inside my closet, sit on the floor, and sob. I wanted to call in to my brand new job and tell them I was sending movers to pick up all my stuff; that I couldn't do this anymore.

Instead, I turned on Spotify and drove.

For the rest of the day, I zombied out. Grunted in response to questions. Typed the wrong date at least five times. I mean, it was really bad. I even thought about calling local counselors to see which one could fit me in the soonest. What was wrong with me? Why hadn't I tried harder to write everyday? Didn't my writing career mean anything? Didn't I want to write for a living? Wasn't that The Goal?

Reasons but no excuses. Raising a three year old. Working a stressful day job. Attempting to keep a clean house. Bottom line was/is that I had taken writing out of my schedule. A good friend and fellow author recently told me that, according to her brother, we allot time for that which means the most to us. In other words, if it's that important, you'll find a way.

So, as you might have guessed, my New Year's Resolution is to Write. Not just to write, but to Write Every Day. Because to answer my own question, yes, I still want to write. I still want to write and to have written. I still want to publish and connect with readers through memorable characters and plots.
That is still The Goal.

What's yours for this year?

Peace, Love & Junior Mints,

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