Cream Cheese Banana Bread

Oh yes! She’s back with yet ANOTHER banana bread recipe!

This recipe churns out a, dreaded word for some, MOIST bread.

Easy recipe, tasty results, torture your friends with that description.

Recipe here.

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My Life Among the Underdogs: A Memoir – Book Review

Published Date: January 15, 2019

Publishing Co.: William Morrow

Pages: 245

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My mission is to rescue. My hope is that one day I won’t have to.”

If you’ve heard that quote before, there’s a good chance that you’re a fan of Animal Planet’s Pit Bulls & Parolees. This memoir belongs to the feisty, red-headed woman who started Villabos Rescue Center, first rescuing wolves and wolf hybrids, then turning to one of the dog’s with the baddest reputations, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Currently, the rescue houses close to 400 dogs of all breeds and employs parolees to help with all of the work. It takes one tough person to hold all of that together.

In My Life Among the Underdogs, we get a peek into Tia’s life before starting the rescue. First, being raised a cowgirl by her stepmother who taught her to depend on no one else, to a drifting young adult, to an exotic animal trainer, to a dog trainer for Hollywood, then to rescuing full time. All of this while giving birth to and raising two beautiful daughters, who would become strong, independent and compassionate just like their mother.

We also learn the life stories of some of the top dogs of Tia’s life. These chapters were both uplifting and heartbreaking. You learn about these wonderful, resilient creatures and all they taught both Tia and humanity and then, you hear about their passing. How can that not tug at your heart? If you’ve had a dog, you’re probably all too familiar with that pain, so it’s impossible not to relate.

There are not too many people in this world that I truly idolize but, Tia Torres is one of the them. Life spent rescuing animals is hard, I’ve dabbled in it myself, no where near the size that Tia has. While rewarding, at times it can be absolutely soul crushing. You have to look the worst of humanity in the eye, not engage to the best of your ability and just get the poor, tortured animal the fuck out of dodge. It’s a hard thing to dedicate your life to. Animal rescue workers are more prone to depression and suicide, and it’s understandable.

I hope to see more memoirs from Tia Torres or anyone on her rescue crew. It helps bring more people into the rescue fold, even if it’s adopting instead of shopping, every changed mind is progress and we still have a long ways to go.

My one complaint, and I don’t think I’ve said this since I was little, is that there are no pictures! I mean, I want one million dog pictures, but if there could have just have been ten or so, that would have been great. I loved hearing about these amazing dogs but I would have also really liked to see their cute little faces.

Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) – Book Review

Published Date: June 2, 2015

Publishing Co.: Jo Fletcher Books

Pages: 592

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My review of Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoat’s #2).

There is a reason that this is referred to as swash-buckling fun, it is that, but it’s also so much more.

Knight’s Shadow begins to take a darker turn. We return to the crew with Falcio paralyzed from neatha poisoning. Each morning, the paralysis takes longer and longer to go away, all the while they’re surrounded by enemies. All the while, Falcio is slowly dying. That is the end he sees coming every morning he wakes and cannot move, cannot speak, can hardly breath. If it weren’t for his friends standing guard over his body at night, his enemies could slip in and easily finish the legendary Greatcoat.

The mission begins the same, to put Aline on the throne, but they’ve underestimated the game. There is a secret third player playing havoc with their plans. One moment they’re gaining ground, the next they’re knocked down two pegs and are fighting for their lives once again. The hits keep coming, but how much can one group of people take?

This novel ended up being so much more than I had expected, and to get too detailed would be to ruin the many excellent turns of plot. There were several moments where I was left simply with goosebumps and I was nothing but a fiend that had to continue to find out what happened next.

This easily climbs to the top of my favorite fantasy series list.

Birthday Book Haul – Year 32

Year 32 might seem like an odd addition to the title BUT I get some kind of birthday book haul every year, so for post purposes, we’ve got to distinguish the little guys.

My birthday shenanigans are officially over. It was quite the celebration this past weekend though. Ignited Moth came to visit for both book club and my birthday. (Don’t fret, I already told her she needs to get back to posting. 😛 )

If there is one thing we love besides books, it’s margaritas. We went out to the little mexican restaurant in town that we know has good ones only to find out that they now do MARGARITA FLIGHTS.

That pink one is prickly pear and it is life.

As per usual, Ms. Moth is the gift master supreme. Seriously, trying to out gift her is hard. Here is a peek at just a couple of the things she gave me:

Instant new favorite coffee mug.

We also HAD to adventure to the used bookstore in town. They have both books and cute cats that follow you around begging for pets.

Once I found one that I wanted, I just kept finding more.

It was a fantastic weekend. ❤

Have you read any of these books? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love margaritas?

The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery – Book Review

Published Date: September 12, 2006

Publishing Co.: Broadway Books

Pages: 324

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

You know you’ve worked in the medical field for awhile when you can read about gonorrhea and syphilis on your lunch without losing your appetite. Some people may count that as a negative, I count it as a positive. It takes a hell of a lot to ruin my lunch.

For myself, this was very much a one chapter at a time read. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s not even too text book like in any matter. The stories are fairly fascinating and John Hunter was a character, there just wasn’t the pull to dig in deep and not let up until I was finished. Perhaps in true Hunterian fashion, I had to contemplate the works and dissect the knowledge at my own pace.

John Hunter had a thirst for knowledge that could hardly be quenched. From his early days, until his last, he needed to know more about how the world worked. About anatomy, about evolution (though it wasn’t dared called that back then), and disease states. His approach to science greatly influenced the scientific method that we know today. He began to change how wounds were treated, depending less on blood letting and more on experimentation to find a better way. He improved surgical methods.

While he had many admirers, he had just as many enemies who did not like him challenging the accepted way to practice medicine. This almost never slowed him down though. He pushed boundaries that led to many advancements. He also had a few theories that ended up slowing down progress on other things, for example, he conducted an experiment to prove that gonorrhea and syphilis were essentially the same disease. There was a flaw in his method that he never did find out about, as we know today that they are not the same disease.

There are so many things that this one man is responsible for influencing in both science and medicine, that I could go on for pages. Instead, if you’re interested, go pick up this book. It will educate you far more than I would ever be able to. He was a revolutionary and a rebel, and you know how much I like rebels.

Warning: lots of animal torture.

“Hunter had died, as he had lived, in rebellion, speaking his mind.”

Power Tools, A Girl’s Best Friend

I’m 100% certain that that title is a lie, but I couldn’t think of anything else.

Last autumn, I decided that my new hobby would be wood working. I’m not even sure that that’s the proper term for it, I want to make stuff with wood! Starting with pallet wood until I get better. However, I decided this right before cold weather hit and you were not about to find me out in the garage in the cold.

Spring forward to my birthday in which my dad bought me a Sawsall and a Skilsaw, and instead of pallet wood we bought a 10 foot piece of birch to fiddle with.

My grandfather LOVED building furniture and was good at it. I have several of his pieces to this day. He taught my dad a lot of the trade but it’s not my dad’s passion. My dad however, is super excited to pass on their knowledge to me and I’m happy to absorb it. Hopefully, it becomes my new hobby because people keep giving me power tools left and right.

Here’s my first project with my dad. It’s a couch arm cover. It functions both as a place to set drinks and other things, and protection for the couch from Ozzy standing on one arm to stare out of the living room window at people walking by. It’s nothing fancy but I did learn some cool tricks to hide screws.

What do you think of my first attempt at building something?

Thirty Two, Wooo!

Hi friends! Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday, and as such, I’ll probably be MIA for the weekend. My dad and uncle are coming to town to celebrate and I just want a weekend of fun and shenanigans.

My coworkers threw a lovely little party for me yesterday at work since I took the time off. They got me an Instant Pot (Woooo! Time to try a million new recipes!!), a giant bottle of my favorite tequila, and a gift card to Bed, Bath and Beyond since they know there are a million things I want to buy for the house.

My husband couldn’t wait until my birthday and gave me a present. A custom made Harry Potter purse with little secret pockets inside. It’s really cute.

I just have to get through today at work, then it’s a margarita fueled weekend for this girl!

P.S. Don’t be depressed about entering your thirties, they’re seriously the best.

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) – Book Review

Published Date: September 12, 2017

Publishing Co.: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

It’s my theory that if you’ve ever said the words, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” then you’ve never been dirt-fucking-poor. Money can buy a lot of happiness. Maybe not all the happiness in the world but trust me, it takes a major weight off of your shoulders and puts you on the path to achieving what does makes you happy.

The Babel Corporation has selected poor teenagers from all over the world to compete for amounts of money they never imagined by going first to space, then onto a new planet. The trick is, they have to survive rigorous training and score high enough through these competitions to make it down to Eden, a planet inhabited by lifeforms known as Adamites, who like human kids but not so much the adults. The teenagers may still encounter trouble while down on the planet, mining a precious resource called Nyxia, the real goal for Babel.

Emmett Atwater was plucked from Detroit. Poor, dying mother with shit insurance, and a father working himself to the bone trying to make ends meet while raising a son and being the support of an ailing wife. When Emmett is offered a chance to make all right for his family, he doesn’t hesitate. All his other competitors are enemies, standing in the way of his goal. Until, a couple sneak behind his wall and make themselves friends instead of only competition.

Almost all of the kids know that Babel Corporation is much more sinister than their outward appearances, but with that kind of money and healthcare for family on the line, you can over look a lot.

This was a fair start to a YA science fiction trilogy. I think the part that will interest me the most will come in book two. Although, I’m not running off to pick up the next book. Time will tell if I continue the series.

Top 5 Oldest Books on My TBR List

I joined Goodreads just as a way to keep track of the books I already knew I wanted to read because I kept losing my list. Of course, the side effect was that my TBR blossomed from a meager 10-15 books to it’s now current state of 265. Periodically, I’ll go through the list and cut anything I decide that I’ll probably never read. So, I thought I would share the ones that have survived the cuts. (Although, I haven’t done one in awhile so that may change.) Two of them I’ve owned for years and just haven’t read yet.

“The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.

The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected. 

The truth will get out, even if it kills them”.

” Katie is driving to work one beautiful day when a dead man jumps into her car and tries to eat her.  That same morning, Jenni opens a bedroom door to find her husband devouring their toddler son. 

Fate puts Jenni and Katie—total strangers—together in a pickup, fleeing the suddenly zombie-filled streets of the Texas city in which they live. Before the sun has set, they have become more than just friends and allies—they are bonded as tightly as any two people who have been to war together. 

During their cross-Texas odyssey to find and rescue Jenni’s oldest son, Jenni discovers the joy of watching a zombie’s head explode when she shoots its brains out. Katie learns that she’s a terrific tactician—and a pretty good shot. 

A chance encounter puts them on the road to an isolated, fortified town, besieged by zombies, where fewer than one hundred people cling to the shreds of civilization. 

It looks like the end of the world. But Katie and Jenni and many others will do whatever they have to to stay alive. Run, fight, pick each other up when they stumble, fall in love…anything is possible at the end of the world. “

” It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down. “

“Andrew Ranulf Blankenship is a handsome, stylish nonconformist with wry wit, a classic Mustang, and a massive library. He is also a recovering alcoholic and a practicing warlock, able to speak with the dead through film. His house is a maze of sorcerous booby traps and escape tunnels, as yours might be if you were sitting on a treasury of Russian magic stolen from the Soviet Union thirty years ago. Andrew has long known that magic was a brutal game requiring blood sacrifice and a willingness to confront death, but his many years of peace and comfort have left him soft, more concerned with maintaining false youth than with seeing to his own defense. Now a monster straight from the pages of Russian folklore is coming for him, and frost and death are coming with her.”

” Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but otherwise in the pink of health. The nonstop sex and exercise he’s still getting probably contribute to that, as does his diet: unusual amounts of flesh and blood (at least some from friends and relatives). Jake, of course, is a werewolf, and with the death of his colleague he has now become the only one of his kind. This depresses Jake to the point that he’s been contemplating suicide. Yet there are powerful forces who for very different reasons want – and have the power – to keep Jake alive. “

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Coffee & A Chat – Spring

Why yes, I have decided that these little coffee chats may become a semi-regular thing as I enjoy them. Just a little time to ramble on about life or whatever topic seems to be on my mind on an early Sunday morning, sipping the world’s best beverage.

Yesterday was a beautiful 67 degrees here. I had to work half the day but when I came home we promptly got to work on spring clean up. We have several probably 100+ year old maple trees in our yard and they always drop their leaves at the end of the season. Let me tell you, there were a metric butt ton of leaves. (Between fall and spring, we’ve raked about 50-55 bags of leaves.) Add in all the rain last fall and we were not able to get everything up by the last leaf pick up of the year. So, that meant a messy yard when the snow melted.

The dogs had an intense game of ball and then hung out on the patio while we worked in the yard. The fresh spring day had everyone feeling lovely.

She’ll play ball until she drops.

I was so happy in fact, that I picked up a house plant for the first time in about 10 years.

I don’t exactly have a green thumb when it comes to house plants. Thus, I picked one that’s hard to kill.

There were signs of green life springing up all over the yard and it just made me want to go out and buy MORE plants/trees/bushes.

Berries before leaves.

I’m ready for all of this. The cold and gray was really putting a funk on my life. One day of sunshine and I was ready to live outside.

What are your Spring plans? Looking forward to planting anything special?