Our Crazy Dogs – Even More Photos of Katie and Kiff

I frequently get requests from my fans for more photos and info about our crazy dogs, Kiff the corgle and Katie the black lab/chow.  I realized it’s been almost six months since I’ve posted anything about those two lovable mutts on the blog, so here goes!!

Kiff loves to dress up:

dogs photos

Kiff loves to dress up!!

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Kiff with his backpack.

Katie loves a backscratch:

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And they both love to lay around:

Katie soaking up some rays

Katie soaking up some rays

Kiff loves to sleep on people's shoes

Kiff loves to sleep on people’s shoes

What crazy things does your dog do?

 

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Sharing My #waterstory for World Water Day

It’s been almost two years since we moved and I don’t miss the old house much anymore.  What I DO miss, however, is the extra space, AND the second bathrooom.  We are four (sometimes five) people living in a house with one bathroom.  Over the last two weeks, there have been at least two of us sick with some virus or another at any given time and there has been a lot of pounding on the door, begging, and yes, probably also cursing.  Even when there’s no one sick, it’s inevitable that the minute someone gets in the shower, someone else will NEED to use the bathroom for other things.  There is so little privacy!!!

These are first world problems.  Did you know 1 in 3 people worldwide do not have access to a safe, private toilet?  Here are some other statistics that put our first world problems in their proper light:

    • 768 million people in the world today do not have access to safe drinking water —roughly 1 in 10 of the world’s population.
    • Around 2,000 children die every day from water related diseases.
    • Women in developing countries typically walk an average distance of 4 miles each day on her trek for water. A typical jerry can of water weighs 40 pounds.
    • According to the world bank: $220 billion would be added to the global economy each year if we were to provide toilets and sanitation to everyone currently without it.
    • Just $25 can help one person access a lasting supply of safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation.
    • Having safe water and gender-segregated toilets in school keeps girls from dropping out once they begin menstruating.

World Water DayWorld Water Day is March 22.  In honor of that day, one of my teammates on the Global Team of 200, Jennifer Barbour, is in Nicaragua this week with WaterAid, getting a firsthand look at community involvement around water, toilets and hygiene education stands to revolutionize life within the Latin American Caribbean region.  If you’d like to read about it, you can check out Jennifer’s blog.  Here’s an excerpt:

Since being here, I’ve been amazed at the high level of poverty and near absence of running water all around me. I found out that less than 20% of people in this area have access to basic water and sanitation. We have seen some taps in the urban area of Bilwi that are connected to the municipal supply that are completely dry. I’m told they only get water every two or three days.

WaterAid is proving that even the impossible can be won. Because of donor
support from people who won’t take poverty for an answer, WaterAid has been able
to help over 19 million people gain access to safe water since 1981, and reached
15.1 million people with toilets and sanitation since 2004. That’s millions of stories
of how individual lives have been transformed in some of the world’s poorest,
hardest to reach places.

Our approach is simple: work side-by side with the local community to ignite
monumental change by giving them the tools that they need to break down barriers
and make water and toilets an accessible reality for everyone in their community.
Learn more about how we make it happen, and how you can be part of it all:
www.wateraid.org

What’s your #waterstory?

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Gorton’s Artisan Fillets with Oven Roasted Italian Vegetables and Radiatore #RealSolutions

I love fish.  Fresh fish is my favorite, but it’s so hard to get for a decent price.  In addition, not all fresh fish freezes well and, since I’m the only one in our house who eats fish, I can’t always eat it all before the expiration date.

I was so excited when Gorton’s sent me free coupons to try their new Artisan Fillets.  There are four varieties: Roasted Garlic & Italian Herb, Lemon & Cracked Peppercorn, Southwest Tortilla and Southern Style.  Gorton’s Artisan Fillets use real wild-caught Alaskan Pollock, which is one of my favorite mild fish.

Gorton's Artisan FilletsI chose the Roasted Garlic & Italian Herb Artisan Fillets.   To complement the fish, I made a yummy side dish of oven roasted Italian vegetables and radiatore.  You can check out my recipe below the review, as well as a great giveaway.  One of my readers will win two full-value product coupons and a Gorton’s wooden cutting board!!!

My Review:

The fillet portions are just right for me, at just a little over 2 ounces each and under 200 calories!!  The fillet was crunchy on the outside, flaky and delicious on the inside, with just the right amount of Italian flavor in every bite.  I can’t wait to try the other flavors!!

I received complimentary product from Gorton’s in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway for the chance to win two full-value Gorton’s product coupons and a Gorton’s wooden cutting board!!

Recipe: Oven Roasted Italian Vegetables with Radiatore

Summary: The Italian herbs and olive oil really help to bring out the oven roasted flavor!!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped
  • 1 cup baby carrots, halved
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups radiatore (pasta)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix onion powder, olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add vegetables; toss to coat.
  4. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a large cookie sheet.
  5. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes; turning at the halfway mark.
  6. While vegetables are roasting, cook radiatore according to directions.
  7. Drain pasta and toss in a large bowl with roasted vegetables.
  8. Serve immediately.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Gorton's Artisan FilletsEnjoy with a Gorton’s Artisan Fillet!!

Visit Gorton’s online to download a coupon, find recipes and explore products.

Connect with Gorton’s on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

Click on the image below to be taken to the Real Solutions Sweepstakes, where you can enter for the chance to win the grand prize of $2500 or lots of other cool prizes!!

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Coconut Cream Banana Cake Recipe

The other night, Bud’s girlfriend made a delicious chicken curry for dinner (I’ll share that recipe another time, I promise).  Anyway, we used coconut cream instead of coconut milk, which was AMAZING!!! but the recipe only called for a couple of tablespoons.  We had almost the whole can left and weren’t sure quite what to do with it.  Willow (Bud’s girlfriend) came up with the idea to use coconut cream instead of sour cream in her favorite banana bread recipe.  The result was so dense and moist we just couldn’t call it bread anymore.  So without further adieu, here is Willow’s recipe for:

Recipe: Coconut Cream Banana Cake

Summary: The coconut cream makes this so moist and dense!!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed over-ripe banana ( approx. 4 medium bananas)
  • 4 cups + 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating in individually.
  5. Add mashed banana.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients
  7. Beat coconut cream into butter-sugar-banana mixture.
  8. Add dry ingredients one cup at a time to wet mixture, beating between cups, until smooth.
  9. Pour batter into bundt pan.
  10. Bake for 70 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center of the ring comes out clean.
  11. Turn upside down on a cooling rack.
  12. Allow to cool.
  13. Dust with powdered sugar.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

coconut bream banana cake recipeEnjoy!!

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Global Impact Women and Girls Fund – Celebrating International Women’s Day Every Day

I am always amazed at the young women who work with me.  Just a generation apart, but their self-confidence, strength and natural assumption that they are worthy is a joy to behold.  I wish I had that much verve when I was their age.  How wonderful that they were raised in a more enlightened time, where women are respected, protected, educated and most of all empowered to be the best they can be.

But in developing countries, there are so many women and girls who do not have the economic and social advantages we do here in the United States.  By investing in a girl, she can lift herself out of poverty and abuse, altering the condition of her family, her community and, ultimately, the world.

Did you know?

  • An estimated sixty percent of women have been physically or sexually abused.
    In some countries, long-standing cultural, and often religious,

    practices devalue and marginalize female children, which results in lack of access to education, marginalization, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and violence.
  • Women produce half of the world’s food, but own less than one percent of the world’s property.
  • Each year, about 300,000 women suffer a preventable death during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Two-thirds of the children denied primary education are girls.
  • Women and girls make up ninety-eight percent of trafficking victims.

Without access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care, equal rights, education and decent employment, poverty continues to intensify. When mothers lack the means to thrive, their children suffer, as well.

No single charity is large enough to combat these challenges alone. Organizations worldwide are uniting to provide resources and frontline delivery of services on a global scale, including:

global impact women and girls fund

Photo courtesy of Plan USA

Access to education

global impact women and girls fund

Photo courtesy of Plan USA

Job skills training

global impact women and girls fund

Photo courtesy of Plan USA

Prenatal and early childhood care

and many more…

global impact women and girls fundThe Global Impact Women & Girls Fund brings together four of the most respected, best-in-the-business international organizations focused on helping women and girls.

  • CARE
    In more than 80 countries, CARE addresses not only the consequences of gender inequality, but also the root causes. CARE works to increase women’s and girls’ ability to determine their own futures through improved education, increased economic power and more decision-making authority in their homes and communities. At the same time, CARE engages with fellow community members, social and religious leaders, politicians and local organizations to shift attitudes and behaviors that marginalize women and girls. This involves working closely with men and boys to promote equitable roles, responsibilities and policies, as well as respectful attitudes and behaviors, and mutually beneficial relationships.
  • World Vision
    World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision is the largest international non-governmental organization in the world, working in nearly 100 countries with 45,000 staff serving millions of people in need.
  • Plan USA
    Investing in a girl and her future, gives her the ability to lift herself out of poverty, altering the economic condition of her family, her community, and ultimately her country. Decades of experience and in-depth research have proven it. Yet even today, a girl in the developing world still faces overwhelming odds from the day she’s born.
    Through sustainable development projects, Plan reaches out to the most marginalized and vulnerable populations of girls around the world, rigorously measuring their impact every step of the way.
  • ICRW (International Center for Research on Women)
    ICRW research identifies women’s contributions to their communities and the barriers—like HIV, violence, lack of education—that prevent them from being economically stable and able to fully participate in society. ICRW provides a path that creates the conditions under which not just one woman, but millions of women can benefit.

Through this fund, contributors will join with millions of people to change the world by helping to provide education, protection and rehabilitation from violence and exploitation, job training, healthcare, safe drinking water and a host of other services to women and girls around the world.

Your contributions go directly to supporting real and meaningful work to improve the lives of women and girls.

Won’t you help women and girls everywhere live healthy lives wherein they are protected, respected, educated and empowered to reach their potential?

About Global Impact:

Global Impact is a leader in growing global philanthropy. The organization raises funds to meet critical humanitarian needs around the world. In partnership with nearly 100 major corporations and more than 300 public sector entities, Global Impact provides funding to more than 100 U.S.-based international charities through innovative partnerships and employee giving programs. Since 1956, Global Impact has generated more than $1.6 billion to help the world’s most vulnerable people. The organization and its charity partners help an estimated 400 million people each year.

global impact women and girls fund

Follow Global Impact on:

This post is a part of a sponsored awareness program that seeks to help women and girls everywhere live healthy lives wherein they are protected, respected, educated and empowered to reach their potential. Visit www.togetherforwomen.org.

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Scrambled Huevos Rancheros Recipe

On workdays, my breakfasts are super simple.  I usually either grab a protein bar and a yogurt, or make a quick cereal and yogurt parfait.  But on my days off I LOVE a hot breakfast.  I like to experiment with healthy egg recipes.  My new favorite is this Scrambled Huevos Rancheros recipe.

 Recipe: Scrambled Huevos Rancheros

Summary: A fresh twist on huevos rancheros

Ingredients

  • 1 corn tortilla
  • chili powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 baby bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/3 can vegetarian chili
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. salsa
  • 1 Tbsp. sour cream

Instructions

  1. Coat both sides of tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle with chili powder.
  2. Heat over medium heat, flipping once, until warm.
  3. Remove to a warm plate.
  4. Coat skillet with cooking spray.
  5. Saute’ onions and peppers for 3-4 minutes, until they start to soften.
  6. Add vegetarian chili, cumin and chili powder.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Pour the mixture over the tortilla.
  9. Coat the skillet with cooking spray again.
  10. Beat the egg and add to the pan, cooking over medium heat while constantly stirring, until set.
  11. Spoon egg on top of veggie and bean mixture and garnish with salsa and sour cream.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1

scrambled huevos rancheros recipeEnjoy!!

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What is Chiari Malformation? #TeamBelinda

Belinda's Brain Surgery
I would like to introduce you to my friend Belinda.  We first met last year in a blogging group.  Belinda is a wife and mother of two.  She has two blogs, Pinterest Fanatic, and Giveaway Fanatic.  She has been a tireless supporter of her fellow bloggers.
Belinda has a rare disease called Chiari Malformation.  This is a serious neurological disorder which causes debilitating pain, as well as many other horrific symptoms.  Here’s a graphic from Team Belinda that explains the condition:
What is chiari malformationBelinda has been almost completely bedridden since last summer due to Chiari.
The surgery Belinda needs to relieve her symptoms is called Posterior Fossa Decompression.  This surgery needs to be performed by a Chiari specialist – a brain surgeon who is familiar with Chiari Malformation.
Here’s a graphic that shows what one part of Belinda’s surgery will look like:
what is chiari malformationUnfortunately, Belinda had to travel out-of-state to find a Chiari specialist.  In addition, although she has appealed their decision, her insurance has refused to cover the surgeon’s fees.  The surgeon has graciously extended a 20% discount as long as the fees of $50,000+ are paid in full prior to surgery on 4/16/14.
$42,725 has been raised so far, but there is still a long way to go.  Won’t you help?
We at Team Belinda are asking that you donate even as little as $1 to help our dear friend.  If you can help, you can donate at youcaring.com or through a Paypal donation to brainsurgeryfund@gmail.com
Or send cards, words of encouragement and donations to:
Belinda’s Brain Surgery
P.O. Box 1937
Woodstock, GA 30188
In addition, there are many fundraisers ongoing in which you can participate.  A list of current fundraisers can be found at http://www.facebook.com/belindasbrainsurgery
Belinda is a very special lady.  She is so grateful for all the prayers and donations that people have provided.  Here is a prayer she wrote as part of a blog post last Wednesday:
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you heal my body and rid me of all this pain. Lord, I don’t want to suffer, but should it be your will then I ask that you allow me to be an instrument to touch others and bring them to you. Please don’t let my suffering be in vain. Amen.
God bless you, Belinda!!  ((hugs))
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An Apology

I just wanted to offer my readers a short apology.  It’s been over a week since I posted.  I need a bit of a break from the day to day of blogging, but I also took on two book reviews due on the same day and have been spending my off time reading, reading, reading.

I hope you will enjoy the two book review below and I promise to have lots of fresh new content in the weeks to come.

Thank you for sticking with me!!

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Give Me Love Book Review

Give Me Love Book Cover Give Me Love
Reason Series
Zoey Derrick
Paranormal Romance
Zoey Derrick Publishing
February 19, 2014
154 pages

Mikah and Vivienne have crossed that line and their relationship now borders on breaking through the walls that have been put in place. Their relationship has only just begun, but the forces around them are determined to keep them apart.
MIKAH BLAKE has been fighting with himself, discovering who and what he is has been harder than any challenge he’s ever faced in the past. But there is one thing he knows for certain – he will stop at nothing to protect the woman he loves.
VIVIENNE CALLAHAN’s past has left her with scars for her future. Scars that only one man has managed to wipe away. But will those scars stay away forever? Or will Vivienne be forced to face her past once again in order to move on to their future?
Reason Returned…
Hope Blossomed…
Desire Exploded…
Will their love take flight?

My Review:

First, you can’t read Give Me Love without reading the first three in the series.  You can check out my reviews of Give Me Reason, Give Me Hope and Give Me Desire, if you want to get some taste of what the series is like.

I will say, that unlike the other three books, there are graphic sexual scenes in this one.  Although this is not normally to my taste, they were not gratuitous scenes, but definitely an integral part of the story.  The oddest part is that Vivienne is pregnant throughout the whole book, so it makes the sex scenes a little unusual, if not uncomfortable to read.  Not that I don’t think pregnant women have sex, I mean I was one (twice), but I don’t really want to read about it.

Other than that, though, I did enjoy the book and I felt that it ended the series in just the right tone.  It’s nice to see Vivienne and Mikah have a happy ending (without giving away too much).

I give Give Me Love four stars.  It’s a deeply romantic, passionate, quick read for a lazy afternoon.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review through Innovative Online Book Tours.  All opinions are 100% my own.

About the Author:

Give Me Love Book ReviewZoey Derrick is the author of the Amazon Best Selling Angels, Demons & Devils and Paranormal Author of Give Me Reason – The Reason Series Book One and comes from Glendale, Arizona. Zoey was a mortgage underwriter by day and is now a paranormal, romance and erotica novelist full-time. She writes stories as hot as the desert sun itself. It is this passion that drips off of her work, bringing excitement to anyone who enjoys a good and sensual love story.
Not only does she aim to take her readers on an erotic dance that lasts the night, it allows her to empty her mind of stories we all wish were true. Her stories are hopeful yet true to life, skillfully avoiding melodrama and the unrealistic, bringing her gripping Erotica only closer to the heart of those that dare dipping into it.
The intimacy of her fantasies that she shares with her readers is thrilling and encouraging, climactic yet full of suspense. She is a loving mistress, up for anything, of which any reader is doomed to return to again and again.

Follow Zoey Derrick on Website/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/Amazon

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The Shadow Princess Book Review

The Shadow Princess Book Cover The Shadow Princess
Queen Victoria’s Daughters
Mary Hart Perry
Historical Romance
Diversion Books
February 9, 2014
302 pages

To catch one of history’s most notorious killers, a princess risks losing her family, her life—and her heart…

London, 1888: A year after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee terror mounts in the city’s slums. A killer has butchered two prostitutes, the crimes brutal even by London’s hardened standards. Rumors of the murders reach Princess Vicky, daughter of Queen Victoria and grieving widow of the German Emperor Frederick III. When her niece Princess Maud visits, she brings with her even worse news—the Metropolitan Police have a suspect. It’s Vicky’s nephew, Crown Prince Eddy. Desperate to clear her family’s name, Vicky rushes back to England.

Detective Inspector Thomas Edmondson believes there is a royal cover-up behind the killings. He will stop at nothing to expose the truth and bring a murderer to justice before he can kill again. But when Vicky joins him in searching for the man who will become known as Jack the Ripper, neither of them foresee the overpowering attraction that will draw together the royal and the commoner—or the danger their love puts them in.

Shadow Princess Book ReviewMy Review:

It is no secret that I am one of Mary Hart Perry’s biggest fans.  You can check out my reviews of The Wild Princess and Seducing the Princess if you don’t believe me.

That being said, it was extremely difficult to be objective when reading The Shadow Princess.  But I tried.  And let me tell you, objectively, that this book is at least as exciting and romantic as its predecessors.

The story of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Vicky, and her assistance in the investigation into the Whitechapel Murders (aka Jack the Ripper) is a work of fiction. However, it is so well-researched and well-written that you will feel like you are right there in the side streets of London viewing the aftermath of the Ripper’s disgusting crimes right alongside Empress Vicky.

As always, Perry’s characters are real people, fleshed out and feeling.  Vicky is someone I would like to be friends with and her dilemma between duty and love is heart-wrenching and sweet.

I also enjoyed Vicky’s relationship with her children as compared to her mother’s relationship with Vicky and her siblings.  One of the saddest parts for me was when Vicky laments her megalomaniac son, Willy (if you know your history, you will realize that Wily eventually becomes Kaiser Wilhelm).  Reading Perry’s books has prompted me to look deeper into British history, particularly the Victorian era.  It is interesting to see how closely related so many European royals were or are to each other.

I give The Shadow Princess five stars.  Fans of historical romance will love this book.  It is also not necessary to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one.  The Shadow Princess stands on its own.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review through Innovative Online Book Tours.  All opinions are 100% my own.

About the Author:

the shadow princess book reviewMary Hart Perry, aka Kathryn Johnson, grew up in New England and now lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and two feline writing partners, Tempest and Miranda. She’s the author of over 40 novels published by major U.S. and foreign publishers. She writes historical fiction as Mary Hart Perry and contemporary romantic thrillers under her own name, Kathryn Johnson. She also teaches fiction-writing workshops forThe Writer’s Centerin Bethesda, Maryland. Her popular 8-week course,The Extreme Novelist, supports and encourages class members through a full first draft of their novels. In 2008, she foundedWrite by You, a writer’s mentoring service, to aid individual authors in reaching their publication goals. She has been nominated for the prestigious Agatha Christy Award, and won the Heart of Excellence and Bookseller’s Best Awards (sponsored by the Romance Writers of America). Her works in progress include Victorian thrillers inspired by the lives of Queen Victoria’s daughters, and a new contemporary romantic-suspense series scheduled for release in 2014-15. Kathryn is a member of the Author’s Guild, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Novelists Inc, and the Historical Novel Society.

ONLINE LINKS:

Website:  www.MaryHartPerry.com

Contact: Mary@MaryHart Perry.com,  or  Kathryn@WriteByYou.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/Kathryn.K.Johnson.3   or  for MHP:  on.fb.me/Kj7hzU

Twitter: @Mary_Hart_Perry   or   @KathrynKJohnson

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathryn-johnson/21/8b3/350

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/Mary_Hart_Perry  or www.goodreads.com/KathrynJohnson

Enter for the chance to win a digital copy of the book!!

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