Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Back to Basics Beans and Rice

Beans and rice is the most basic of dishes.  People eat the combination of grain and legume worldwide.  It's not fancy, but it fills you up and can feed a lot of people on a budget.  Plain and straightforward, rice and beans are like The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack.  What you see is what you get.  Enjoy!

Back to Basics Beans and Rice

1 (1 lb) bag dried pinto beans
1/3 cup picante sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 cups instant brown rice


Rinse the beans and soak them according to directions on the bag. 
Put in a crock pot.
Cover with water, plus about 2 inches over top of beans.
Add all ingredients, except rice.
Cook on high in crock pot about 3 hours til tender.  May also cook on low overnight.
Add the rice and cook until rice is warm and plumped.
Serve with cornbread.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack

Food to eat while reading: Back to Basics Beans and Rice

The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Your Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent by Merrilee Boyack

“Want your Children to Move out of the House Someday?”

As my children get older and are more capable of doing chores and becoming independent, I wonder if I am giving them too little responsibility-or too much. Merrilee Boyack draws on her experience of raising four boys to shed some light on the subject.

Read the synopsis here.

What I liked:

Personally, I feel that children are spoiled and pampered anymore. The author is a fan of giving children responsibilities as a part of a household. Her attitude made me laugh:

“Not only do I want lots of grandchildren, but I want to spend years watching my children raise them. I want to listen to my kids complaining about how their children won’t clean their rooms, won’t do what they’re told, and are lazy and unmotivated. I’m going to spend decades just laughing. My grandkids are going to think they have the happiest grandma on the planet.”

Boyack talks about the “Mom Martyr Syndrome”, those mothers who do everything for their children as an “act of love”. She believes that a loving mother should teach her children to work and do things for themselves.

Included in the book are great ideas about teaching children to manage finances, do chores, and take care of themselves. There is even a list by age that tells what a child can be taught to accomplish. Her list shows that a four can make his own sandwich, a twelve can make and keep his own dentist appointment and at sixteen, a child can file an insurance claim. As an added bonus, if you email the author, she will send you an email copy of the list so that you can adjust it for your own children (she really does email it-I have a copy).

What I would have changed:

Although the chapters are clearly defined, the contents of each are a bit sporadic.

This book is by no means an all-inclusive fit for every family. Keep in mind that it is one woman’s experiences with how to teach independence to children.

The verdict:

The Parenting Breakthrough is a refreshing way to add some variety to the way you currently run your household.

I gave this book 3/5 stars.

Purchase: The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent
Genre: self-help, nonfiction
Publisher: August 1st 2005 by Deseret Book Company
Where I got the book: Amazon, used

Monday, May 17, 2010

Show vs.Tell in a Montage

How much should be shown or told in a montage?
 Many stories have a stretch near the middle when the protagonist is in a static state.  There are few ups and downs, and he is often training, learning, journeying, and otherwise preparing for the events to come.  For instance, in the movie Karate Kid, the montage illustrates Daniel's training with Mr. Miyagi.  The montage allows the audience to experience a large stretch of time in only a few minutes.  The viewer understands that when the montage is over, the protagonist now has the skills necessary to fight his "demons". 

In my WIP, my protagonist is about to enter one of these training periods.  I can't figure out how to go about showing the passage of time and giving the reader an idea of what has transpired, without spending too much time on unnecessary details.  How much should I show, and how much should I tell?

Do any of you have experience with this part of their story?  Or can anyone think of a book in which the author did a great job of executing a section this way? 
Now if only life could include a montage.  I would spend my day writing and playing with my kids, followed by a five minute montage in which I do the dishes and the laundry.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blog Hop

Jennifer at Crazy For Books has a great thing going on. Her Book Blogger Hop is a great way to network with other book bloggers. Sign up on her McLinky list and don't forget to check out at least a few of the blogs that are listed there. Please let me know if you found me through the Blog Hop!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tasty Tuesday Divine Dark Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

I just love the title of Bree Despain's book The Dark Divine.  It sets the luscious tone of the book from the get-go and hints of the deep emotions that are between its pages. Nothing is more divine and dark than chocolate.  One taste of these chewy and rich cookies and you'll be hooked.

Divine Dark Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1  1/2 cups  flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups oats

1 cup dried cherries

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt.  Do not overmix.  Stir in oats, cherries and chocolate.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lined or lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottom edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Instantly drawn by the title of the book and the cover art, I snatched this book up at the LDSStorymakers Conference in April. The Dark Divine: doesn’t it just sound intriguing? I don’t know of anything better than clasping a deliciously anticipated book in my hands—except when that book lives up to the praise and hype that precedes it. The Dark Divine is one of those scrumptiously readable books.

Food to eat while reading: Divine Dark Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

Note: I have to mention that I am typing this review with the purply nail polish that Bree gives out at her signings. It matches the cover. :)

Read the synopsis here.

What I liked:

Despain weaves a story of forgiveness and redemption using fantasy as a metaphor. The themes hit close to home without being “preachy” at all. I love the way the author chose to convey her messages in a way that is entertaining and still effective; the book will carry important truths to young adults who might not otherwise be willing to read about them in a formal way.

References to grace and divinity were artfully done and stayed away from the cliché.

Despain’s characters are tangible and relatable. Grace has a quiet confidence and, well, grace about her. Her relationships with her brother, Jude, and Daniel, the love who has re-entered her life, are realistic and tug at my heart strings. I fell in love with Daniel on the first page; he is so mysterious, a bit dangerous and obviously smitten with Grace.

The plotline is smooth and reads almost like a mystery. By the time you finish the book, you will look back and see how quiet events were significant to the character’s development and the story.

Grace commits to a love that is powerful by the end of the book. The Dark Divine reads beautifully and contains great truth, but Grace’s sacrifice pushes the book to a new level, where you will dig deep inside and ask if that selflessness resides in your own heart.

What I would have changed:

Without spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it, let me say that Daniel’s motivation to seek Grace out is more than just his attraction to her. That detail makes me doubt how pure Daniel’s motives are for trying to gain Grace’s love.

In between the time when Grace finds that she loves Daniel, and the climactic scenes at the end of the book, there was too little happy time for the couple. I wanted to experience more of their love for each other. Granted, I understand that because of Daniel’s inner demon he has difficulty getting too close to Grace, but a bit more courtship would have been enjoyable.

So, I am curious:  for those of you who have read the book, do you agree with the changes I wish for in this book?  Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

The verdict:

The Dark Divine teaches truths of redemption and forgiveness in a fast-paced, satisfying romance that will leave teens wanting more.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Purchase: The Dark Divine

Genre: fantasy, YA , paranormal romance

Publisher: December 22nd 2009 by EgmontUSA, Hardcover, 372 pages

Where I got the book: LDSStorymakers Conference bookstore