Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Random Thoughts...“Why I Write”


 

                “Ain’t life grand?” Or at least that’s what they say. I say, “No it ain’t, not all the time.” I say it’s all you’ve got and you learn to deal with what you were given. Writing was given to me. The best gift I never asked for. The best escape I could never dream of. Pencil and paper…maybe. Fingers and keyboards…definitely. Regardless of which is chosen there’s a movie playing in my mind, in my soul. It needs to be written, yearns to be read. It fights to get out, unable to be contained. So why not set it free? Why not free my mind of this chaos known to many as imagination? I write until I no longer see that vivid image playing in high definition…and then I write some more. I release my desires, my unhappiness, my anger, my “whatever is in that moment.” I breathe new life into a story that claws at my existence, ripping me to pieces until it’s in its rightful place, on paper. I didn’t just become a writer; it’s what I’ve always been. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s my life, encompassed and passed on to you. The better question is, why don't you write?

Monday, February 10, 2014

 
Ingredients
 
For the Shrimp
½ Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Bread Crumbs
½ Tbsp. Garlic Powder
¼ Tbsp. Basil
½ Tsp. Salt
½ Lb. Shrimp Fully Cooked Before Packaged, Defrosted
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 Tbsp. Light Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 
For the Pasta
¼ Lb. Fettuccine
¾ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
¼ Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Parsley, Chopped
½ Tsp. Salt
 
Instructions
 
In a medium bowl, mix parmesan, bread crumbs, garlic powder, basil, and salt.
 
Set bowl aside.
 
Dip shrimp into egg bath.
 
Place shrimp in parmesan cheese mixture and coat both sides of shrimp.
 
Over low to medium heat, in olive oil, cook shrimp until cheese is a light golden brown.
 
Set aside.
 
Cook pasta according to package, until al dente.
 
Strain water from pasta and set aside.
 
In a medium pot, over medium heat, cook whipping cream, parmesan, butter, garlic powder, parsley and salt.
 
Stir occasionally until sauce comes to a slight boil.
 
Remove from heat.
 
Add pasta to sauce.
 
Gently mix, coating all of the pasta.
 
Plate the pasta and then top pasta with shrimp or set shrimp on the side.
 
Serve while warm.

Random Eats...Quick Pineapple Coconut Cake with Butterscotch Drizzle

 
Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box coconut cream instant pudding mix
4 eggs
½ cup water
½ cup oil
1 tsp pineapple extract
1 (8oz) can pineapple drained, chopped
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp pineapple extract
2 – 4 TBSP heavy cream
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butterscotch baking chips
2 TBSP heavy cream
½ cup toasted coconut

Directions:
*Grease and flour a Bunt pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
* Beat cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and pineapple extract for 2 minutes. Mix in the pineapple.
*Pour into bunt pan, spread to even out the dough. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until center of the top springs back to the touch.
*Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely.
*Beat the butter and the extract for a few seconds. Add in the powdered sugar. Beat very gently on low speed until it starts to come together.
*Add 2 TBSP heavy cream. Beat. Add heavy cream one TBSP at a time, beating after each addition until the frosting is of spreading consistency.
*Spread frosting on cooled cake. I didn’t spread it all the way to the bottom on mine.
*Put butterscotch baking chips into microwave safe bowl and microwave for one minute. Stir. Add the cream. Stir again.
*Microwave at 10 second intervals and stir until all of the baking chips melt.
*Transfer to a plastic bag, cut the tip and pipe the butterscotch over the cake.
*Garnish with toasted coconut.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Random Drinks...VODKA FRUIT POPSICLES

 
 
1/2 oz. (15 ml) Strawberry Vodka
Watermelon
Blueberries...
Strawberries
Kiwi
Fruit Juice
 7UP
 

Random Eats...Chicken, Ricotta, & Spinach Stuffed Shells

 
1 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup thawed frozen spinach (squeezed dry)
1 cup cooked chicken breast (shredded)
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1 egg (beaten)
20 jumbo pasta shells (parcooked)
24oz of your favorite pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
 
Cook the pasta shells for 3 minutes less than the box instructions, then drain and cool.  The pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
 
Pour half of the pasta sauce into a 9×13 baking dish, covering the bottom of the pan completely.
Mix the ricotta, shredded Parm/Asiago, spinach, granulated garlic, chicken and half of the parsley in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the egg into the seasoned mixture and stir to combine.  Fill a quart sized plastic bag with the filling, then cut off one corner of the bag, to create a piping bag.  Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling.
 
 Place the stuffed shells seam side down into the baking dish.  Top the shells with the rest of the pasta sauce, covering completely.
 
Top the saucy shells with 2 cups of shredded mozzarella, and the remaining parsley.
 
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, until the shells are bubbling and the cheese is melted and gooey.

Random Lit...Cerece Rennie Murphy's Order of the Seers Trilogy

 
Author Bio:
 
Cerece Rennie Murphy fell in love with science fiction at the age of seven, watching “Empire Strikes Back” at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., with her sister and mom. It’s a love affair that has grown ever since. As an ardent fan of John Donne, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut and Alexander Pope from an early age, Cerece began exploring her own creative writing through poetry. She earned her master’s degrees in social work and international relations at Boston College and Johns Hopkins School for Advance International Studies, respectively, and built a rewarding 15-year career in program development, management and fundraising in the community and international development arenas – all while appreciating the stories of human connection told in science fiction through works like Octavia Butler’s “Wild Seed,” Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and “The X-Files.” In 2011, Cerece experienced her own supernatural event - a vision of her first science fiction story. Shortly after, she began developing and writing what would become the “Order of the Seers” trilogy.
Cerece lives just outside of her hometown of Washington, D.C., with her husband, two children and the family dog, Yoda.
 
 
 
Synopsis:
What would you do if you held infinite power in the palm of your hand?

Order of the Seers poses this question within a story that fuses action, mystery, romance, and adventure in a science fiction novel that keeps you at the edge of your seat.

Order of the Seers begins with the journey of Liam and Lilith Knight, a brother and sister who are hunted by The Guild, a ruthless world organization that seeks to capture and exploit Lilith’s unique ability as a Seer to envision the future. Soon after they are forced to leave their home, Lilith and Liam discover that she is not alone. Other Seers like Lilith are routinely kidnapped and enslaved by the Guild for the purpose of consolidating wealth and power around the world.

But from within the organization, Marcus Akida, a captured Seer with powerful visioning capabilities, quietly plots his daring escape with the help of a beautiful and tortured Seer named Alessandra. When the escaped Seers are drawn to the same remote commune in Iowa as Liam and Lilith, they each find a place where they can rebuild their lives and rediscover their passion for life and love. As the Guild’s efforts to find them intensifies, the Seers ban together with outlaws from the commune to fight back against the organization that threatens their lives – setting off a chain of events that will unleash the full power of the Seers and change everything we know about the true potential that lies dormant in each of us.
 
Review:
**Contain Spoilers**
 
 I saw this book quite a few times and though, hmmm that sounds interesting, but I never read it. I bought it and still didn't read it. Finally I grabbed it and once I started I had to finish. The plot pulls you in from the start. It open with a young lady, Lilith, and her older brother, Liam seemingly having a sibling spat, but as it progresses you feel that somethingisn't right with Lilith. she's obviously hiding something. That something turns out to be their mother's death. Lilith and Liam become fugitives running and fighting for their lives each step of the way. I found it quite interesting the way Liam became the protector of Lilith. He would protect her with his life and she would guide him with her visions. The author did a great job developing their story.
 
Fast forward to two other Seers, Marcus and Alessandra who form a bond like that of father and daughter, who are being held against their will by the Guild (who murdered their family and kidnapped them-as they do all Seers) and under the control of a drug known as Luridium. Marcus is the only one capable of fighting off the side effects of the Kuridium, which makes him an entity to be reckoned with. With his help, Alessandra's powers expand and they are able to escape from the Guild's facility. Through the explanation of the way the Luridium worked and other facts about the Seers and their DNA, I found myself wanting to skip a few parts because they were to in depth as far as the scientific elements are concerned, but I continued to read. I could have done without such an in depth explanation though.
 
The Seers are drawn to a man named Eli, who is also harboring Lilith and Liam in a remote community closed off from society. The story of Liam and Alessandra was beyond beautiful and thier sex scene...LOVED IT!! There they hatch a plan to take down the Guild and reveal it's true intentions and operations. When they mentioned a "fight" I figured fists and other body parts would be involved, but the Seers had evolved and so had their powers. I loved the appearance of Joel (Marcus' son, who was presumed dead) and his connection to Lilith.
 
I give this book 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone.

 
 
Synopsis:
 
The Quest to Control the Power of the Seers Continues…

After successfully destroying the Guild’s Purification Center in Chicago, The Lost Seers, led by Joel Akida and Lilli Knight, embark upon a world-wide mission to save their kind from the tyranny of the Guild and unveil their greatest weapon – The Restoration Project. Developed in secret, The Restoration Project has the potential to awaken the supernatural ability within every man, woman, and child on earth and bring down the very foundation of the Guild’s power and authority.

But the Guild has other plans. Driven by the necessity for control, Crane Le Dieu creates The Red Order, a new league of clairvoyants whose sole purpose is to hunt down and annihilate the Lost Seers. Without the Guild’s mind-controlling drugs, The Red Order is able to develop its gifts far beyond the capacity to see the future, honing their skills to become the ultimate threat against the Lost Seers. But the question remains – will the power of The Red Order be enough to defeat them?

The Red Order continues the epic battle for freedom which began in Order of the Seers, revealing the secret motives behind an organization that exists to exploit and a renegade movement that seeks to usher in the next phase in human evolution.

What are you capable of?
 
Review:
**Contains Spoilers**
 
 Let me just say right off the bat, I loved this book more than the first one. Again, it opens with action/drama and pulls you right in. Liam and Alessandra have been hunted down and are about to face what seems like a fatal battle, but Alessandra realizes that she posseses more power than she could have imagine and is able to project her thoughts into actions, as well as heal Liam. Her new gift of healing almost costs her life in another scene though.

The group risked coming together from their hidden locations in order to discuss the fact that Eli and the other scientists have discovered the Seer gene in every human being and that they could actually reawaken it, so that everyone could be a Seer. Hmmm...sounds interesting, but I don't think I'd want it. Joel put it best when he questioned if humans were really ready to have the capability to see the future, but know that there was no way they could change it, no matter what would happen. Nope, I'm good.

Mentioned in the first book were Seers, Michael and Nina. The Guild got to them before Joel and the others could, and it is with them and three other Seers that the Red Order is born. Their main goal is to take a new form of Luridium that doesn't stunt their capabilities to evolve their gift of seeing. While Michael and Nina were lied to and told that Joel killed their parents, Tyrol is the only memeber who willingly came to the Red Order. In addition to the Red Order, there's a creature...in the end we find outhat the creature is actually the true form of a man, but for most of the book, it's just a creature who's unstoppable and who wants Lilith.

After confrontation with Joel, the Red Order realizes they were tricked and Michael and Nina change their allegiance to the Guild. Through a series of media releases, interviews, and other propaganda, the world is alerted to the existence of the dormant gene and what the Guild actually does.

I found myself completely immersed in this novel, but there were a few parts that I didn't really get. The main one being, is Lilith dead? In orde rto face Crane she "transcended," but my understanding of that was that she basically let go and kills herself, something that her and Joel discovered they could do by accident. She does this and actually admits that one day she owuld have to tell Liam; Joel admits that he would join her as soon as he could; but she's still walking around and talking to them as though nothing has changed. I guess I'll have to wait and see. I'm also looking forward to the havoc that I know will come from the creatures they inadvertantly released into the world.

Another 5 stars for Mrs. Murphy!
 
Order of the Seers: The Last Seer
Releae Date: TBD
 
Having unleashed a new evil into the world, The Seers face the ultimate challenge in The Last Seer, the third and final book in the Order of the Seers trilogy

Random Eats...Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

 
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Black pepper
1 cup honey
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch green onions, finely diced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Season chicken liberally with black pepper and place in a crock pot.
Combine honey, garlic, soy sauce, ketchup and red pepper flakes in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Add green onions and stir (reserving some for garnish if desired).
Pour honey mixture over chicken pieces then cook, covered, on high for 3-4 hours (or low for 5-6 hours) or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
Remove chicken from crock pot then cover to keep moist. Increase temperature of crock pot to high (if not already on high) and replace lid.
Add cornstarch to a small bowl or cup then slowly add water; stir until smooth. Add cornstarch slurry to crock pot, cover and heat until sauce thickens (about 30 minutes).
Chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add back to crock pot. Gently stir to coat chicken with sauce. Reduce heat to “warm” until ready to serve.
Serve chicken and sauce over white rice. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.

Random Drinks...The Flaming Moe

 
2 oz. (60ml) Blueberry Schnapps
1 oz. (30ml) Creme de Cassis...
1/2 oz. (15ml) Whiskey
1/2 oz. (15ml) Vodka
1/2 oz. (15ml) Simple Syrup
Sprite
Float Bacardi 151 or Everclear on top

* Shake all the ingredients except Bacardi 151 and Sprite with ice and strain into a highball glass. Layer on Sprite. Layer on Bacardi 151 or Everclear.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Random Eats...Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

 
1/2 pound ground beef
8 bacon strips (cut into chunks)
1/2 diced onion
1 clove garlic - chopped
4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F 
Cook ground beef then drain
Cook bacon until crispy (drain but keep 1 1/2 tablespoons grease in pan)
Saute onion and garlic in grease
In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, worcestershire and ketchup Add beef, bacon, onions and garlic to mixture above and stir until combined.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes
ENJOY!!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Random Lit...Fabiola Joseph's The Art of Deceit

 
 
Author Bio:
 
Fabiola Joseph was raised in Silver Spring Maryland while spending most of her summers in Brooklyn New York. While in Middle school, she found her passion for reading and writing and wrote her first book Among Us. She has not stopped writing ever since. She continues to develop new stories and poems at her home in Florida.
 
Synopsis:
 
Sex, drugs, lies and video tape all dwell in the shadows of hip hop. A world that is glamorous and alluring can blind its participants to certain truths. This euphoric illusion which is full of money, women, and power, can also be deceiving. You start to believe that the fame will last forever. That the people around you are really your friends, and that the scandalous women at your side really love you for the person that you are. Stardom can become dangerous for the na├»ve souls who rise to success without armor. Tangie, who has mastered The Art Of Deceit slithers her way into the heart of many and into the wallets of even more, her latest victim being Hip Hop’s newest sensation Tay’von-Too Fine- Miller. Tay’von is told by his record label that he needs a better looking woman on his arm because the public will deem his plus size girlfriend unbefitting for a rising star. So he pulls Tangie into his world hoping to use her for her looks, only to get rid of her when he is done. But he has highly underestimated her. Her charm is hypnotic, that of a snake charmer, and as strong as the magic from a voodoo priest. Once she has cast her spell, she is sure to bring any man or woman down to their knees. She rules with a blackened heart and shows no mercy to people like Shamika, the spiteful girlfriend of equally talented but not as successful rapper Black Dialect. Tangie will stop at nothing to secure her lifestyle, even if that means shaking hands with a record label owner who Tay’von has proclaimed a sworn enemy. Carmello wants Tay’von to sign to his record label, and Tangie wants revenge. Together they hatch a plan that will give them both what they want. What will happen when Tay’von, his bodyguard, the sexy R&B tour mate Amira, and Carmello all fall under Tangies spell? Death, debauchery, and deceit, now if only everything would go as planned.
 
Review:
**Contains Spoilers**
 
Wow!!! Where do I start? Okay, first things first, Tangie is crazy as hell. Like certifiably insane and needs to be committed ASAP. While Fabiola never came straight out and said it, I'm pretty sure Tangie is addicted to sex and money (Dr. Phil would agree with me).
Tangie starts out as a woman with her sights set high, extremely high, and I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the fact that once she got into a position where she had everything she wanted, literally, she still wasn't satified. She wanted more, and more, and even more.
She hooks up with Tay'Von, the #1 rapper in the game, and he spoils her rotten. The minute he leaves to go on tour, she practically rapes his bodyguard (who coincidentally falls in love with her and can't resist her ever again). Now, Tay'Von is definitely no angel; he's doing his dirt while on tour and he even has and old flame that he's either still seeing or has stopped seeing and still sleeps with every now and then.
Fast forward, Tangie goes out on tour with him, with the understanding that she's not allowed to ask any questions about what he's doing or who he's doing it with. She develops a relationship with and falls in love with the R&B singer Amira, and while on tour these two women somehow fool Tay'Von into believing they're just really close friends. Amira ends up killing herself after Tay'Von forbids Tangie from seeing her ever again. In the midst of all of this, Tay'Von (who does just about every drug known to man) smokes a laced blunt with another rapper's girlfriend, Shamika, and in a fit of anger, he basically rapes Tangie, brutally assaults her and leaves her bruised and "bitten." Tangie uses this as her reasoning behind getting back at Shamika.
Fast forward more, Tangie enlists the help of a crooked record exec and on the night before her wedding to Tay'Von (who she marries even though she's slept with just about everyone he works with or refuses to work with) she leaks a sextape of Shamika and her rapper boyfriend, Black, in a very compromising position.
Shamika vows revenge and tries to tell everyone that Tangie set her up, but Tangie has everyone fooled and no one believes Shamika. In the end Shamkia confronts and almost kills Tangie, but Tangie manages to kill her instead. The novel ended under the presumption that Tay'von was dying and so was Tangie, but we're left waitig to see what happens in part 2.
If I could change anything, I would want more background on Tangie. I don't think we will ever be able to understand or explain why people do crazy things, but I would want more from Tangie's environment and upbringing. Also, I felt like there was something missing. you know that feeling where you expect a twist or explanation and never get it? That's how I'm left feeling right now. Not because of how the novel ended, but because it just feels like there should be more.
Either way, I enjoyed the novel and look forward to reading more from this author.
 
4 Stars