Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tried & True: Chicken Recipes

Welcome to the newest feature on Ramblin' Rose, Tried & True, where I feature recipes on regular rotation at my house. I'm talking about those recipes that you eat every couple of weeks and are most requested. I figured I would start with chicken because it's such a versatile meat and probably one that we eat most frequently.

Crunchy Coconut Chicken Fingers with Peach Honey Mustard

Via How Sweet It Is

I'm all about condiments and this peach dipping sauce is ahhh-mazing. The mixture of coconut and peach flavors makes me think of sitting on a beach with a pina colada in hand. These Coconut Chicken Fingers are the perfect summer food and are a great substitute for your regular chicken finger. I like to put these on broil at the end to get a nice crisp. When I make the sauce, I puree the peaches less so I have a chunky sauce.

Greek Marinated Chicken

Via Budget Bytes

Of the three recipes featured today, this Greek Marinated Chicken is the one I make the most regularly. I have basically every ingredient on hand and its got great, bold flavor. Depending on time and preference, I make it using the suggested thighs or chicken tender style. From experience, the thighs tend to bake better in the oven than grill due to the marinade. I grill the tenders using my grill mat and it works perfect. The predominate flavor is the lemon so you can customize how intense you want it by how much juice you add.

Taco Chicken Bowls

Via Budget Bytes
Taco Chicken Bowls is one of those stupid easy recipes. Dump everything in your slow cooker and it's ready when you get home. I serve this over rice as suggested in the recipe but I also sometimes mix it up and serve burrito/taco shell style or in nacho form. My one tip is the quality and flavor of the salsa makes the meal. Choose a good salsa, add avocado and you're good to go!

For more Tried & True recipes, check out my Tried & True Pinterest board.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Most Anticipated Books Vol 2

small great things by Jodi Picoult October 2016

Ruth Jefferson, a labor and delivery nurse, begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone on the ward. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Say what you will about Jodi Picoult but girl writes some good books. There have been some hits and misses over the years but with as many books out there as she has, they can't all be winners. And yes, she does have a "formula" so to say but I can overlook it. Just don't go on a binge of her and you'll be fine. Her last couple books haven't had the same format as her earlier books but small great things sounds like it's going to be old school, reliable Picoult. I'm ready for a court drama that makes you question your morals.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman November 2016

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Hoffman will forever be at the top of my list. She is a must buy author for me; meaning I will purchase her book no matter what it is. I guess there's a theme with today's post of authors going back to their roots because Faithful sounds like early Hoffman. Her last few books have been more historically themed and while the synopsis of Faithful seems done, I know she'll bring it somewhere original.

Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs Today!

In chronicling the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, Augusten Burroughs examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. With Augusten's unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous, Lust & Wonder is an intimate and honest memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for.

Here's the thing, Burrough's last few books have been...not good to say the least but I remember laughing, crying and secretly wishing I could have been a fly on the wall for some of his adventures. His earlier stuff was gold and Lust & Wonder sounds like he's going back to what he does best, essays about his life and crazy mishaps. Count me in. 

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley June 2016

Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.
When you sit down with Lily and the Octopus, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride.
The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details.
We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.
For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog.
Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all. 

If you haven't read The Art of Racing in the Rain, you need to change that. Bring a box of tissues. Racing in the Rain left me a sobbing mess and I can only assume Lily and the Octopus will be the same. I've seen this book popping up all over the place and I'm sure it's for good reason. Also I love, love weiner dogs. At the Global Pet Expo, there were 9 week old Dachshund puppies at the Purina booth and I had to tear myself away.

What is one of your most anticipated books this year?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

If I Found the Pot O' Gold

Happy St Patty's Day! The girls and I are planning on going to a pub after work and getting some green beer. I was trying to think of a post for today and came up with this. Kind of like if I won a million dollars, this is the top ten things I would buy/do if I found the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

  1. I would pay off all of my parent's bills and let them retire.
  2. A two year long trip around the world.
  3. A Shelby for Errol and a bright yellow restored VW bus for me.
  4. I'd buy a decent house. Nothing extravagant, something nice with some land for farming and animals.
  5. Maybe a second home somewhere after I come back from that two year adventure.  Then I would know my favorite spot.
  6. Hike the AT. Hiking the AT takes money and time. I would have to be able to take 6-8 months off from work and at this time in my life, I couldn't not work and still pay my bills for almost a full year.
  7. Savings. I wouldn't blow it all. Half of whatever I found would go into savings.
  8. Let's face it, I would go on a shopping spree and buy some clothes, shoes and books. 
  9. Extended road trip across the US in the above mentioned VDub bus.
  10. Be one of those anonymous donors to a charity or some local need. See also: help wherever I can because you can't take it with you!
What would you do with that pot of gold?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


// Those Target lace up ballet flats that everyone's wearing are super ugly. So not a fan!

// I'm a literary snob. I totally judge your for reading James Patterson.

// My cat is better than your cat.

// I think is selling out.

// I work to live, I don't live to work.

// If I don't want to hang out, I usually blame it on Errol.

// I practice the Golden Rule daily at work.

// For the Instagram overload this week. 

// If Trump win's I'm moving to Canada. I have no words for the dislike I feel for him. I watch the debate last week and I just can't.

// Subway cookies are the best cookies.

What are you not sorry about?

Monday, March 14, 2016

What's In My Shopping Cart

As of 5pm today, I'll be on my way to Orlando for the week. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I've been teasing myself with checking the weather periodically and it will be in the mid-80's every day. Even though this winter was not particularly cold or snowy, I'm still excited for the warmth. I'm going with my two favorite people at work and did I mention it was for a pet trade show? We have a booth at Global Pet which is the largest pet trade show and usually has around 10,000 attendees. I can't wait to see all the animals and cat stuff for my Chitty.

Anyone got any good food recommendations or anything that's not Disney related?

I've also been doing my fair share of shopping lately which I really need to reign in. I'm supposed to be saving money not opening up my wallet for all the useless things that catch my fancy. 

1. You might remember me mentioning that these new shoes were on the way to me. Well I received them and they are currently on their way back. The color was not right. Online these looked black on black with white while in reality the background where the white dashes are looks dark navy not black. They also did this weird thing in the toe box when you walked so needless to say I returned them. I went to Olympia Sport the other day and picked up these Nike Tanjuns instead. I'm much happier.  They are so comfy and light. I'm between an 8.5 and 9. Normally I tend to wear a 9 in most shoes besides sandals. They only had an 8.5 in stock but they fit perfectly. I think the 9's would have been too big.

2. I've been a fan of Maybelline Great Lash mascara pretty much since I started wearing makeup. I've tried various other versions and brands over the years and I thought I had found my new favorite with the Maybelline Volum Express Pumped Up Volume. Until I tried the Volum Express Colossal Cat Eye. The wand on Cat Eye has the perfect shape. It separates the lashes and I find it puts the most on the outter area, which I like.

3. Put the word yoga into a work pant and I'm there.  I have seen the BetaBrand pants mentioned a few blog posts and I was intrigued. They are definitely more expensive than what I would normally pay but I got them on Leap Day for 29% off so I pulled the trigger. I went with the black cropped style. I love a cropped work pant because they are so versatile. They look good with ballet flats, heels and booties. I was nervous on sizing but I took their advice to size up if between and they fit like a glove. I was also really wondering what the material was going to be like. I definitely don't need another pair of black pants but I wasn't sure how the stretch material would look in a non-black color so I played it safe. Even now that I have them in hand, I'm still not sure how a different color would look. I'd like to get a pair of the straight leg if I ever see them on sale again.

4. I purchased this a few months ago but it's the best brow pencil I've owned and I got it off Jane, go figure. I've found it hard to find black brow pencils at my local drugstores so I bought this on a whim. It goes on smooth and the end always stays angled.

5. I don't have dark spots per se but I've found that the Pond's Clarant Dark Spot Corrector has definitely evened out my skin tone. I use a face moisturizer daily and have just recently started using a dark spot corrector. My skin tends to normal to oily and this does not leave my face feeling oily or slick. The only negative for me is that it doesn't have an SPF. 

What have you been buying lately? Share some links in the comments of your favorite recent purchases!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

February Book Review

Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend.
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

The Witch of Napoli by Michael Schmiker

Rating: 2.5
Via NetGalley
Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, seductive medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra's mysterious powers. She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know - does the "Queen of Spirits" really have supernatural powers? Nigel Huxley is convinced she's simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England's Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. Meanwhile, the Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe.  Inspired by the true-life story of celebrated Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (1854-1918), The Witch of Napoli masterfully resurrects the bitter, 19th century battle between Science and religion over the possibility of an afterlife 

First off it took me forever and a day to get through this book. I use the Kindle app on my phone and will read a book occasionally on it. I tend to read it here and there on lunch breaks at work. The Witch of Napoli fell short for me. I started reading this back in October and finally finished it. I kept thinking something was going to happen but there was nothing really to grab you. I didn't realize/remember when I read this book that it was based on a true story. So I do think the story of Palladino's life was intriguing. I just felt like nothing happened in the book. They went from seance to seance with slightly different results. I wish I had more favorable things to say but I finished the book so that I could review it but to me, it was a waste of time.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

Rating: 3.5
Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.
It's spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .
When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil---until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?
Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

I can't tell you enough that you should be listening to this series. The narrator has the perfect voice for these books and the stories and characters just tug at you. This is the third Inspector Gamache novel. With this one, we get a little bit more of the story with the Arnot case that's haunting Gamache. With each novel, you get to know the residents of Three Pines just a little better. Ruth is my very favorite character. She's this cranky old lady who's a famous poet. Rough around the edges but with this hidden kindness. The last two Penny novels had a part with Ruth that just kicked me in the gut.

Lottery by Patricia Wood

Rating: 4
Perry L. Crandall knows what it's like to be an outsider. With an IQ of 76, he's an easy mark. Before his grandmother died, she armed Perry well with what he'd need to know: the importance of words and writing things down, and how to play the lottery. Most important, she taught him whom to trust, a crucial lesson for Perry when he wins the multimillion-dollar jackpot. As his family descends, moving in on his fortune, his fate, and his few true friends, he has a lesson for them: never, ever underestimate Perry Crandall. 

Perry's character is so endearing.  You can't help but like him. He's that character that you want everything to work out perfectly for. That's probably why what happens with his family and how they treat and take advantage of him is so disgusting. You kind of had a sense of how Lottery was going to play out but I was happy with the ending. Lottery was one of those books that you leaves you feeling good. Like everything kind of worked out how it was supposed to.  Because his Gran took care of him and tried to teach him how to take care of his self, he ended up making good decisions. The biggest thing that I took away from this book is that someone like Perry, who society would consider dumb, was actually smarter than most people. He knew what was important in life. I ended up giving this to my manager at work to read after I was done and she really liked it too.

By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan

Rating: 3
The final battle between werewolves and vampires has an unexpected twist: love.
With twenty thousand years under his belt, Remshi is the oldest vampire in existence. He is searching for the werewolf named Talulla, who haunts his dreams as a memory from his ancient past. But he is not the only one seeking Talulla: She is being hunted by the Militi Christi, a fanatical Christian cult hell-bent on wiping out werewolves and vampires alike. Inexplicably pulled toward one another, and with no other choice, Remshi and Talulla must join forces to protect their families, fulfill an ancient prophecy and - through a love that should be impossible - ensure the survival of their species. 

This was the last book in the Werewolf trilogy. See my review for the first book, The Last Werewolf here. I listened to the previous two books so this one was a little hard for me to get into at first. Duncan's writing style is not my favorite. I found it long winded with run on sentences which were much easier to overlook in audio form. I loved the folklore surrounding the creation of vampires and werewolves. Remshi and his story were interesting. If you try and think about being 20,000 years old and what that really means, it's kind of incomprehensible.

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro

Rating: 3.5
A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.
So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city - a city that includes his wife and son - before it is too late.

I've watched The Strain on FX so I kind of knew what to expect with this book. I didn't notice until writing this post that I read two vampire books this month but they could not have been anymore different. While By Blood was more of your traditional story, The Strain is told from a pandemic viewpoint.  I love end of world, Armageddon type stories either in movie or book form. I think what makes this one so interesting is that it has a lot of science to it because Eph, from the CDC, is really spearheading the resistance to the outbreak. I also think it's pretty realistic to how something like this would happen. As a citizen, you wouldn't know what was going on. The news would have events skewed to make things seem like they weren't. Once the general public realized what was going on, it would be too late. The first novel is behind where the show is right now. I started the second book this week and can't wait to see where this trilogy goes. 

Love It: Lottery, The Strain & The Cruelest Month
Leave It: The Witch of Napoli

Life According to Steph

Friday, March 4, 2016

What I've Learned After a Year of Blogging

March 5th marks a year of blogging for me. I cannot believe that a year ago, I opened up Blogger and wrote my first post. I'd been reading blogs for several years and had thought about it off and on. I'm ashamed to admit this but I remember sitting at my desk at work and writing my first post and picking my blog template. I was bored and figured I'd give it a shot. I mean, what did I have to lose? It's been a little of a bumpy road but as long as I don't put too much pressure on myself and play the comparison game, I do enjoy it. I like this place and I genuinely love when I publish a post and see comments.  That fact that anyone reads what I say amazes me. So I thought I would share the things I've learned in this year of Ramblin' Rose.

// Telling people IRL that you have a blog is hard and it's hard for multiple reasons. It's hard to casually work it into convo that you have this place on the internet that you share yourself with. Nevermind trying to describe what you actually do. I can count on one hand the people in my "real life" who know about it. And besides Errol, they all asked "but what do you write about". If you're like me, you don't write about anything special; lists, books and maybe some awkward clothes reviews thrown in. So how do you describe that? It's also hard knowing that people you know might be reading your words. 

// I'm still trying to find my voice, so to say. I find it difficult to come here and for the words to just flow naturally. To not edit myself. To have something I deem worthwhile to read.

// I knew this when I started but blogging takes a lot of effort and time but I guess I didn't realize what that actually meant. I see other bloggers, who I read and love, post every day and then they read 100+ books in a year and do things on the weekends and I'm like where do you find the time? But also maybe the desire (if that's the word) because I'll be honest, sometimes I just want to come home from work and not really do much. I count reading in there with not wanting to do much. I loathe the nights where I have so much to do that by the time I'm done and ready to just settle down for a sec, it's bedtime. Share your ways with me, oh wise ones!

//When you have high expectations for yourself, it's hard not to feel pressure. Pressure to have the "perfect" blog with all the pretty photos and hundreds of readers with 50 comments a day. To stand out in a sea of sameness. When in reality, you don't want to fit in but you feel like you have to so that people will visit your space. I haven't fit in a day in my life so I have to remind myself that it's ok if I only post twice a week. No ones keeping track except for you.

// Finding a blogging schedule that works for you will be a challenge. I'm still working on this. It's been my goal all along to post three times a week but I'll be damned if I've gotten there. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else. You need to find something that works for you and your schedule.

// This goes hand in hand with finding a schedule but coming here consistently with unique and creative posts isn't easy. You might make every intention of blogging three times a week but your creative mojo might not always be there. Sometimes you might think that you have this really great post and then no one reads it. Or you might host your first giveaway and it will be a flop. There's a learning curve.

// But with all of the growing pains this year, I can't tell you how awesome it's been to know that I have people who come here to read my post and actually have something to say about what I'm writing.  It might be a small group of people but I honestly don't care. So thank you if you're one of those people. You know who you are. I appreciate every comment I get.
So here's to another year of blogging with a little more experience under my belt.