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Weekly Book Club {11.15.17}

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After reading two books from one of my favorite authors last week it was hard to top that. I did read a couple of books though- one that I enjoyed and one that I a bit more ambivalent about.

1. In the Night by Melissa Sinclair– Ten years ago Kara Vanderbilt was abducted and tortured for four days. She fought her way out of the hands of a sadistic madman and struggled to safety, nearly dying in the process, only to have her world shattered once safely home. Fleeing her family home and the only person who loves her, she tries to start over, but distance does not heal all wounds. Kara goes home seeking closure and gets sucked into a murder case that sounds eerily familiar. But the similarities must be a coincidence, because the person responsible all those years ago died in a fiery crash. With her life in turmoil Kara meets a man she can start a life with. But will it be too late? With the help of Detective Caleb Montgomery, Kara races to find the killer before he finishes the job that was started all those years ago.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I enjoyed this book. It was suspenseful, well written, character driven, and I liked the twists and turns. The ending could have been cliche but it was so tightly written that it came off well. There is some major triggers in this story so if sexual assault is an issue for you, skip this book entirely. It wasn’t a romance book per say, it was more in the genre of romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense. I will definitely check out more books by this author. 

2. Deal with the Devil by Evangeline Anderson– Luz Velez is a shapeshifter who can’t shift. Every time she tries to summon her inner wolf, she has a massive panic attack. Worse, her anxiety extends to the rest of her life. At twenty-seven, she’s still a virgin because attempting to have sex sends her into lockdown mode. She’s miserable and stuck—until Jude Jacobson comes along. Tall, blond and dangerous, Jude is the most feared vampire in town and the minute he sees her, he wants Luz. Vampires and shapeshifters don’t date but he makes her an offer she can’t refuse—a blood exchange that will help her control her panic attacks and give her the life she’s always wanted. Luz is desperate—she takes Jude up on his offer. But she doesn’t expect to fall for the darkly seductive vampire—or to be plunged into danger when her past comes calling. When Jude’s own dark secret comes to light, she begins to question her deal with the devil and wonder if she and Jude can make it…or if they’ll die trying.

My Rating: 3 Stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. I had really really high hopes, this story line sounded right up my alley. But something didn’t click for me. I liked the characters but I didn’t feel any connection to them. I felt like there was more smexy time than story and that was disappointing to me. I like my smexy scenes as much as anyone but I need a good strong story to go with it and this book was not that. I probably won’t read any more in this series. And again, trigger warnings in this book. 

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Easy Cajun Chicken & Rice

Everyone in our household loves spicy food! One evening recently I was desperate for a quick dinner because while we were gone during the day the power went out and I came home to a completely frozen dinner in the crockpot. Sigh. It happens. I had all the ingredients on hand to create this Cajun dish and it was a huge hit! Everyone LOVED it! I’ve added it to our regular rotation now!

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Ingredients:

2 cups chicken, cooked & shredded
2 cups white rice, cooked
1 bag frozen fajita vegetables, cooked
1 can Rotel
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Combine cooked chicken, rice, vegetables, and rotel in baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
2. Add cajun seasoning according to taste (*I used 2 Tbsp but we like it spicy so you can adjust for your family’s tastes)
3. Top with shredded cheese.
4. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

 I couldn’t believe how delicious this dinner ended up being. You can adjust the Cajun seasoning to your liking and if you really aren’t a fan of spicy, switch out the Rotel for regular diced tomatoes. This was a quick dinner that I was able to toss together with minimal effort. 

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Weekly Book Club {11.8.17}

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I read 2 books from one of my favorite authors last week! I loved one and liked the other. I have so many books that I’m trying to get to by the end of this year!

1. Protecting Dakota by Susan Stoker– Dakota James’s life has become the stuff of nightmares. The leader of the Ansar al-Shari’a terrorist group has become obsessed with her, determined to take her as his wife. On the run, she’ll have to pin her hopes on the retired SEAL charged with finding and stopping Aziz Fourati before he can carry out plans to bomb more US airports. Recently recruited to join a sleeper SEAL team tasked with fighting terrorism on US soil, Slade “Cutter” Cutsinger, with the help of some Special Forces friends, has located the one woman who can identify the deadly Ansar al-Shari’a leader. That was the easy part. Keeping her safe proves more difficult than anyone ever imagined. When she and her new friend, Caroline, are kidnapped by the terrorist group, Dakota can only pray Cutter and the SEALs will reach them before they’re taken out of the country—and away from Cutter forever.

I loved this book! It was full of action, full of romance, full of badassery. The main characters were awesome, they were both older and wiser. They made good decisions, had great chemistry, and the story was fast paced. My favorite thing was seeing characters from her other books. It’s like catching up with old friends! This book is a standalone with a HEA ending. But you should read all her other books because they’re amazing!

2. Rescuing Bryn by Susan Stoker– When you’re a Delta Force soldier, you see a lot. Often too much. But nothing can ever prepare you to see your entire team die before your eyes… The loss of his Delta brothers—and his arm—has Dane “Fish” Munroe still struggling months later. He’s moved to Idaho, where an isolated lifestyle is making things worse, not better. Not that there’s anyone left to care. Actually, Bryn Hartwell cares. In fact, she tries to surreptitiously make life just a little easier for the mysterious man who comes into the grocery where she works late at night, only to get a tongue lashing for her trouble. Still, he’s obviously hurting; someone has to worry about him, spurring Bryn to nurse Dane when he hits a particularly low point. Intrigued by the quirky, kind, socially awkward woman, Dane allows himself to get close to someone for the first time in ages. A potentially epic mistake—because when her interest in the prepper lifestyle puts Bryn in the hands of a homegrown terrorist, losing her could put Dane’s mental recovery permanently out of reach. But once a Delta, always a Delta. And there’s a team in Texas who are ready to have Dane’s back at a moment’s notice. 

I enjoyed this book but there were things that bugged me. First, this book is number 6 in the Delta Force Heroes series. It was a good edition to the series but definitely not my favorite. Bryn was a difficult character. I understand why the author wrote her the way she did but she was still annoying. She had more than a couple too stupid to live moments that frustrated me and slowed down the story line. I liked Dane and I liked them together but it was hard to believe the chemistry between them. 

 
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2017 Monthly Goals: November

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This is going to sound awful but I barely even registered that it was already November. I mean, seriously?! What is wrong with me? Oh yeah, kids. Kids are what is wrong with me. It’s been a long hard couple of months in our household. I’m counting down the days until our week long Thanksgiving break. It cannot come fast enough. 

October Goals:

1. Plan and enjoy Varsity Football Homecoming. DONE. It didn’t go quite as planned, but what does around here? Tyler was not cleared to attend Homecoming at all, he could not even be on the sidelines. So our family from out of town did not attend. We went because I’m team mom and had responsibilities to attend to. The kids all had their friends there and it was a good time. 

2. Choose new recipes to try. DONE. I tried 4 new recipes last month and all 4 were a huge hit. I’ve added them to our regular monthly rotation. You’ll be seeing them on the blog soon. 

3. Shop around for cheaper TV service. DONE. Kind of. I shopped around but didn’t find anything cheaper that’s reliable. Matt is adamant that we need all the sports channels and I agree. So for now we will keep our existing service and just pay the $20 difference. 

4. Organize recipes on app. DONE. It’s so much easier to find recipes now and I was able to weed through and delete recipes that we didn’t like or that I won’t make again. 

5. Plan Thanksgiving menu. DONE. It’s planned and I’ve already started buying some of the non-perishables. Boom. 

November Goals:

1. Shave $100 off of the monthly grocery budget. We are drowning right now. Between Maia’s $40 a week therapy appointments, Tyler’s $150 a week post concussion PT therapy appointments, and planning for the holidays, something has to give. And the only place we have to cut right now is the grocery budget. If I can shave $100 off it will help considerably. 

2. Plan and decorate for the holidays. I love the holidays. It’s truly my most favorite time of the year. I decorate for Thanksgiving and then we decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving. 

3. Write and schedule blog posts for the month ahead of time. I’m sure you’ve noticed, blog posts have been….irregular around here lately. Having 3 therapy appointments every week plus Tyler sees his sports medicine doctor every week, on top of school stuff and football stuff…it’s been really hard to blog. I want to take some time and schedule an entire month of posts. 

4. Purge all closets. Mason has grown so tall and I know his clothes from last winter won’t fit. I need to go through and pull out outgrown clothes and make a list of what the kids need for this year. They’re good on school uniforms so it’s just evening and weekend clothes. 

5. Meet with the head of schools about Tyler. I hesitate to share too much right now but we’ve had an ongoing issue with one of the football coaches about Tyler’s concussion. The coach has made the last 9 weeks absolutely awful for all of us and now that the season is over I need to address these issues. 

 
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Halloween 2017 Recap

It seems impossible to me that Halloween is already over! This year is just flying by and I’m not prepared! We had a great Halloween this year. It was a fun week of festivities for the kids with spirit week at school, Character Day for the little kids, and they got the day off of school yesterday. That’s like the trifecta of happiness. Ha!

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The lower school does Character Day instead of Halloween which I love. It’s a whole day of fun. They spend a few days prior to Character Day decorating a pumpkin or scarecrow according to a classroom book chosen by the teacher. Zoey’s class did A Bad Case of Stripes and Mason’s class did Three Little Pigs. They loved it and they really love seeing their display out in the front of the school every day! For Character Day they got to dress up according to one of their favorite books and parade around the entire campus getting high fives from the middle and upper school students. Mason chose to be the ninja from Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja and Zoey chose to be Pete from the Pete the Cat series. 

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The upper school students were allowed to dress up within reason according to a specific decade assigned by grade. The juniors were supposed to dress up as young 20’s. Tyler is rocking the Frat Boy Morning After look. Ha! He had a baseball cap that he put on backwards as well. I’m getting a pretty clear picture of what he’s going to look like in a couple of years. I’m scared. 

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A friend who is a teacher at the school got these great pictures of Zoey for me during and after the parade. So cute! She wasn’t able to get one of Mason because he was running along with friends. Of course. I love love love having friends who teach at the school. I get all kinds of pictures that I wouldn’t get otherwise. 

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We had a full crowd come trick or treating with us. Tyler declined to participate, choosing instead to hit several parties with his friends and football teammates. He was cleared by his medical team to go as long as there were no strobe lights, no black lights, and he wasn’t the one driving people around after dark. He was so happy to get back to some semblance of a social life. Maia had one of her best friends come spend the night, Mason’s good friend came with us, and Zoey’s best friend came too. I made Chocolate Chip Sheet Pancakes topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce and bacon on the side for dinner. It was delicious! This is just a small portion of our trick or treating gang! We were about 18 people strong out trolling the neighborhood for candy. 

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It was such a fun night. After everyone who wasn’t spending the night had left we watched Annabelle Creation and The Mummy with the big kids while they ate most of their candy and enjoyed Brownie sundaes and popcorn. Maia and her friend even took a midnight dip in the hot tub. They all collapsed in bed around 2am and didn’t move until around 11am, looking like zombies. Ha! 

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