Monday, February 24, 2014

What I do in my "spare" time...

Ok I'm going to start off by saying this is in NO way a book related blog post. But it was inspired by a book related I guess in a way it sort of is a book post. Either way, I'm posting it LOL

I was filling out one of the usual "what do bloggers do" interviews for a fellow blogger (I will update with links as soon as it's up) and one of the questions was "What hobbies, other than reading, do you have?" And that got me to thinking... Not many of you DO know what I do when I'm not reading.  So here's an example of one of my many "extracurricular but not book related" hobbies:

Crockpot Chicken Broth I made over the weekend

I practice the art of food preservation on many levels. Yes, I'm your typical "Betty Homemaker" LOL. Canning, dehydrating, and freezing are an integral part of my life and the only way I would consider living my life. I had the opportunity to have the influence of my Great Grandmother Alice early in my childhood and have gladly continued on in the traditions of using every product in a way that nothing is wasted. 

This is one of the easiest recipe that I can show that ANYONE can make in their own kitchen with canning jars, a deep pot and the addition of a few canning utensils. I start the recipe with the gallon baggie full of chicken bones and veggie ends that I keep in the freezer and add to whenever I make a meal that has either ingredient in it. 

What I do is anytime I either make a full chicken, or buy a rotisserie chicken to use for dinner, I pull the meat off of it and then throw the bones in a gallon baggie and put the baggie in the freezer. As I make dinners that have onions, garlic, carrots and celery in them, I add the ends and pieces that would normally be thrown away into that chicken bone baggie. Yes, you are making homemade deliciousness from things you probably throw away EVERY day. (Hence the "nothing is wasted" concept that I try to live by.) You just keep layering and squishing things in to fill up the baggie completely. I even add the liquid at the bottom of the container from the store or from my homemade rotisserie chicken...additional "free" yumminess right there, y'all!! 

Once the baggie is full - or in my case, this week I had planned a meal that required broth and didn't have any on hand - you pull out your crockpot, throw the contents in (You may have to cut the baggie off, depending on how much you squished and squeezed in there. And I like putting some cheesecloth down in the crockpot first first so all I have to do is pull it up with that instead of having to strain it later...) add enough water to cover the contents of the baggie, put the lid on, and leave it overnight or all day on low. If you don't have a crockpot, you can easily make it in a deep pot as well. Just throw everything in, put water to cover, and boil on the stove on low for 3-4 hours.

While you are patiently waiting for the yumminess to cook down, you need to sterilize the jars that you should have already purchased (if you didn't, now would be the time to go out and get them ;) ) and have them ready to fill. I always have more jars than I "think" I need so that I'm not scrambling around trying to find extra jars.

That evening or the next morning, you either strain the broth into a bowl or pull up the cheesecloth and let it drain, (I don't add salt or pepper initially so this is the time that I check the flavor and add salt and pepper and possibly additional water, if the broth is too flavorful and would overpower the intended dish.) and then put it into the jars with a ladle, wipe the rims, put the lids/bands on, and water bath can them for the time recommended at your elevation. The base time is always 10 mins, so if you live below 1,000 feet, you only have to water bath for 10 mins. 

When your time is up, you pull the jars out, set them on a clean towel on your counter and wait patiently for the "canning music" to begin when the lids start to seal :) On this particular recipe, if your lids don't seal you can either put a new lid on and re-water bath can them or just stick that particular jar in the fridge and plan on using it within a week.

Most avid canning people will have the full set up of canning accessories with the big pots with racks, etc. I have those things and use them when I'm making large batches of things, but I have found that my deep noodle boiling pot with a clean dishrag in the bottom works just fine for little projects. I also have a VERY tiny kitchen, so pulling out the full arsenal of canning equipment just doesn't appeal to me unless it's a big day of canning. The main goal is to have the pot deep enough to where the jars are completely covered with water and have the jars not touching the bottom of the pot. I've never had a problem with the method that I use, so I stick with it :)

The picture above depicts a full gallon baggie of veggies and chicken bones, which is approximately 3 chickens and the equivalent of about 6-7 onion ends/outside, 18 or so garlic ends, 12 or so celery ends and 6 baby carrots (I haven't been using full size carrots lately so didn't have those in there and chose to just "sacrifice" the baby carrots to the cause LOL.) I filled the crockpot up to the rim, let it go on low for about 14 hours, removed the cheesecloth full of now mushy bones and veggies, tasted the broth and added water because it was entirely too strong for my likings, and put it into 9 pint sized jars and 2 quarts. I only canned the pint sized jars because I plan on using the 2 quarts for meals this week. 

Voila! Minimal prep, minimal effort, and lots of yummy goodness from "trash"... That's my definition of starting the week out G-R-E-A-T!! Happy canning y'all <3

Immortal Sin by Julie Milillo

One Girl.

Two Worlds.

Three Questions.

What lies beneath the hidden secret?

Can love rise above the inevitable?

And most importantly, where will her fate lead her?

Amanda Chaste had lived what she considered an average life in New Jersey, looked after and cared for by her grandmother. But when she accidentally meets an enigmatic stranger from out of town, her world is drastically thrown upside down. A hidden secret has been buried in the past and not even Amanda can save herself from her own fate.

Conflicted and tormented within her own flesh, discovering her true identity will prove to be something that will change her life forever.


About Julie Milillo

Julie Milillo has and always will be a true Jersey girl from  the shore. ​Acting, singing, writing and drawing were always  ​her hobbies from the very beginning. Julie has always been ​involved in the arts and loves to express her creative streak in any ​way she can.
​​​​​She graduated from Brookdale Community College with her ​Associates Degree in Theatre and Liberal Arts. Soon after,  she ​discovered her passion for reading and thus fell in love  ​with the paranormal fiction genre. After reading and  ​collecting a number of books, she decided it was time to create her own stories and characters. After having the opportunity to meet one of her favorite authors, she was  ​determined to take writing seriously. Julie applies her knowledge of acting and character development in creating  ​her stories. Her goal is to simply express the genuine qualities in her stories and the characters she creates in hopes of ​capturing the hearts of readers who also love this genre.

Julie currently resides in Maryland with her husband and ​her French Bulldog, Goober. Julie loves dogs, movies, music, and anything fantasy related. In her free time, she loves to ​bake and perform whenever she can.
Her writing debut novel, Immortal Sin, the first of The Immortal Sin Trilogy, was released on November 22nd 2012. The sequel, Immortal Descent will be released in October 2013.
Website     Facebook     Twitter

Friday, February 21, 2014

Found In You by K.L. Ruse


Twenty-three-year-old Camryn Singer never imagined that she would return to the place where she lost everything. To grant a dying wish, she moves back to the small Jersey beach town where she grew up, hoping to somehow find the missing pieces of her life. Determined to keep her wounds unopened and her heart guarded, she instead slams head-first into Cole Stevens.

Sexy surfer Cole has always used the waves to numb the pain of his past. But when he runs into Camryn on the beach one day, he wants nothing more than for her to heal his scars and light the spark back in his life.

Will Camryn and Cole be ripped apart when the ghosts from their pasts come back to life, or will they discover that it’s not until you’re lost, that you can be found?  


a Rafflecopter giveaway
About K.L. Ruse

I am a middle school teacher who recently traded in my chalk for a laptop to follow my dream of writing contemporary romance novels. I live with my husband and two daughters in the suburbs of Philadelphia. When I'm not writing, I spend my time reading and relaxing with my family at my home-away-from-home, the Jersey shore.

After I graduated from Villanova University in 2003, I never imagined my path would lead me in this direction.  Writing was a hobby, an outlet for me to live in a world of happily ever after.  Now as I watch my dream become a reality, I believe that happy endings do exist.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Release Day Blitz: The Nycren (Guardians Book 6 Part 2) by Lola StVil

It all ends now.

About Lola StVil

Lola was seven when she first came to this country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She attended Columbia College in Chicago, where her main focus was creative writing. In addition to plays, she also writes screenplays and short stories.
She has been commissioned to write for ABC, CBS and Princeton University. She won the NAACP award for her play "The Bones of Lesser Men". In addition to being nominated for LA Weekly awards. Her work has also received positive reviews from The LA Times, Variety and LA Weekly.
Website        Facebook         Twitter

Guardians Series


Book 1: The Girl The prophecy says I will fall in love with team leader and Angel, Marcus Cane. The prophecy also says that our love will cause his mission to fail and end the world. Whatever. This human is not worried. Why? Because I do not intend to fall in love with Marcus. The truth is I hate him. I hate his warm brown eyes with flecks of gold, his chiseled face and broad shoulders. I hate how over protective he is just because a few thousand demons are after me. In fact, I couldn't care less about Marcus or his perfect telekinetic girlfriend. And when I see him holding her, I don’t die a little inside…

Book 2: The Fallout
Just because she has wings, doesn’t mean she’s an Angel…
It's front page news on every Angel gossip rag:“Marcus & Ameana: Gone The Way Of “Brad & Jennifer.”So, Who Is The “Angelina?” Emmy Baxter—a mere mortal!” Ameana tries to avoid her ex and his new love by focusing on the other evil out to destroy the team. But soon her pain turns to fury. And before the end…a girl plots revenge, a leader is on the edge and an Angel falls.
  Add to Your Goodreads Shelf | Purchase on Amazon

Book 3: The Turn
There. Will. Be. Blood. After the Council hands down a severe punishment, A Guardian declares war on the Angel world.
Before the end Lives will be lost Love will be tested And blood WILL flow...
  Add to Your Goodreads Shelf | Purchase on Amazon    

Book 4: The TriplexThe team finds the locaton of the Triplex, but in order to destroy it and save the world, a horrific decision must be made. Can Marcus do what he needs to do in order to complete the mission? Or will his heart get in the way...Add to Your Goodreads Shelf | Purchase on Amazon

Book 5, Part 1: The Quo
   WARNING: This book contains a scene in chapter 20 that is for mature audiences only. Readers can skip this chapter without missing any info vital to the plot. A team divided. A leader in turmoil. A love tested. Now, it's the heroes who need saving Add to Your Goodreads Shelf | Purchase on Amazon


Book 5, Part 2: The Lyris The end of the world is not coming; it's here An impossible decision... A massive war... A Guardian silenced forever... (Please note chapters 29 & 30 are for mature audiences) Purchase on Amazon

 Book 6, Part 1: The Shoma In order to reunite the Council and save both our world and theirs, the Guardians need to assemble three missing pieces of an ancient  relic called The Shoma. But their search is derailed by their love lives and entanglements. Surrounded by evil and under the threat of annihilation our lives depend on this one team. But with all the sex, scandal and secrets, who has time to save the world? Purchase on Amazon    

Short Stories (THIS BOOK HAS SPOILERS, SO IT IS BEST READ AFTER BOOK 1 (The Girl)) Please note this is a book of short stories about the Guardians and their lives before the mission. This book is 20k words long and has nine short stories including *Julian's Core *Rio's secret crush *Julian & Femi's first meeting *The days & nights of Tony-Tone and more...
Short Stories From Book 5
Can't get enough "Guardians?"
Read these short stories AFTER reading book 5 part 2 and find out:
Why Marcus made the decision he did at the end of book 5.2
How Jay and Miku hooked up for the first time
and where Mouse came from!