• January 29, 2014

    Mango Pork Chops

    Mango-Pork

    Rejoice, dear readers, its recipe time again!

    My husband has never really liked pork chops.  I have several recipes that I really like, but he usually grumbles and complains about them.  That is, until I discovered and improved the following mango pork chops.  He actually requests these and gets excited when I make them.  I think it’s just a good mix of just enough spice paired with the sweetness of coconut and cinnamon.  Whatever it is, I’m glad they passed the test!  *grin*

    Mango Pork Chops

    By Erin Published: January 29, 2014

    • Yield: 6 Servings
    • Prep: 15 mins
    • Cook: 30 mins
    • Ready In: 45 mins

    Rejoice, dear readers, its recipe time again! My husband has never really liked pork chops.  I have several recipes that I really …

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Ingredients-1Gather ingredients.
    2. Ingredients-3Heat the butter in a large skillet and brown the pork chops on both sides. Remove chops and set aside.
    3. Pork-ChopsAdd garlic powder, curry powder, and flour to the butter and juices left in the skillet and stir well. Then, add chicken broth and salt, mixing well. Return pork chops to the skillet, cover and cook for about 25 minutes on medium/high. Stir the mixture occasionally and add a little water if it starts to get dry.
    4. MangoCut mango into bite size pieces and add them to the skillet with the pork in the last 3 minutes.
    5. Ingredients-2In the meantime, add coconut milk and ground cinnamon to a separate pan and stir well. Simmer it until sauce gets slightly thicker.
    6. Mango-PorkServe pork chops with rice and cover with the coconut milk sauce.

    Pro Tips:

    Be careful not to overcook the meat, it dries out pretty easy.  It’s best to check it often to make sure the liquid is still sufficient.

    Don’t mistake papayas for mangoes… they are not the same thing.

  • January 22, 2014

    Perspective

    Sometimes things get messed up.  You can’t sleep at night.  Work is too demanding.  The weather is horrible and the news is depressing.  You get sick.

    Or someone else does.

    Sometimes you just want to eat ice cream and chocolate for dinner because somehow all that sugar and indulgence will make things better.

    When things seem to be falling apart, tempers get short.  When tempers get short, people get hurt.  Arguments and little problems suddenly become big problems.  One problem becomes many problems.

    Recently, I read something that really made me think about the way I handle it when things don’t go how I think they should.  I don’t remember exactly what it said, but basically: Bad things in life don’t give us horns, the horns were always there.  Bad things in life become excuses for us to let them out.

    The way people handle less than ideal situations says a lot about our character and who we really are.  It is so easy to be positive and full of joy when everything is going your way.  If nothing bad ever happened, we might not even know those horns were there!  And yet, there they would be.

    I think a lot of how we handle these things has to do with perspective.  You don’t have a choice how things happen or what will get thrown at you on a given day, but you do have control over how you respond and how you view the road ahead.

    So, be grateful for the hard times and struggles in life.  As backwards as that may sound… give this new perspective a try, for it is the struggle that really grows a person and makes us strong.  It is the struggle that creates opportunity to reach our highest potential.  Without hard situations, we may never know what we are capable of – both good and bad.

    This week has been full of ups and downs and a lot of added stress that is outside of my control.  I’ve done the grumpy, argumentative thing already.  So, now, I am asking myself to be patient and grateful.  To find the roses among the thorns.  And where there are no roses, to plant them.

  • January 15, 2014

    Top Five: Board Games

    Growing up, my family never really got into games.  I never had a Nintendo or Game Boy, our PC was definitely not up for any games that didn’t come pre-installed, and I only played board games at friend’s houses or with my grandparents.  So what did I do when I grew up?

    I married a man who loves games.

    And I became friends with his friends.

    And now I play games.

    I’m still not very good at video/PC games, so that makes it really hard for me to really get into them.  I love to watch my husband play games with good story lines, like Bioshock Infinite , but I’m still a bit intimidated by them myself.

    What I have really come to love, though, is a good board game.  I can’t get into things like Monopoly and Scrabble, but give me a good quality strategy game, and I’m all in!

     

    Settlers of Catan

     

    One of the best games that I started out with was Settlers of Catan.  Settlers is a German made game for 3-4 players (with an expansion pack, you can play with up to 6 players) that puts you in charge of settling a new land.  You must harvest resources, or else trade with another player, so you can build roads and towns.  The really interesting thing about Catan is that it’s not just the one game you can play… there are 4 official expansions as well as several variants and scenarios to mix it all up with.  This gives Catan huge replay value – if you want to spend the money.  You can also get versions that are child friendly, travel ready, or card/dice based.  If you’re looking for a board game to broaden your gaming horizons, I would definitely recommend starting with Settlers.

     

    Ticket to Ride

     

    Ticket to Ride is another German-style game I really love (although, its maker is based in the US and France – not Germany).  This game gives you and 1-4 other players several train routes across a country or continent that you must build.  The strategy comes in when other players start building where you want to build, as well as, choosing routes that you can string together so you can complete them all before you run out or pieces.  Like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride also has several versions, including: USA, Europe, Germany, Nordic Countries, as well as several expansions, and a card game.  I think this is actually my favorite of my top five (we have the Europe game, but have also played the Germany version which is harder because I am not terribly familiar with German cities and spelling).

     

    Citadels

     

    The next game on my top five is Citadels.  Citadels is a card based game for 2-7 players and is, you guessed it, a German-style game.  There is no board in Citadels, just cards that you choose from each round to determine what character you will play – and what special ability you get for being that character.  Your goal is to build eight districts in your city before anyone else.  You must be careful what you build, though, because “cheap” districts will earn you fewer points at the end when you tally them all up.  Also, there are benefits to some characters if there are districts of their same color (e.g.: the Warlord character is represented by the color red and, if you choose the Warlord on your turn and also have a red district in your city, you will get extra gold).  There is an expansion set that adds in different characters and changes up the rules a little.  Citadels is a fun game to play with a big group – smaller groups seem to be a little more difficult.

     

    Lords of Waterdeep

     

    Lords of Waterdeep is a Wizards of the Coast – Dungeons and Dragons based board game made in the US, but, again, is a German-style game.  2-5 players complete quests and earn rewards, thus increasing their influence over the city of Waterdeep.  From there, players can use their influence to create new buildings and actions on the board to help themselves gain points and to hinder others from completing their plans.  I haven’t had many opportunities with this game yet, but it really is a lot of fun.  The artwork alone is worth a look and the perfect design of the box and piece storage is awe-inspiring.

     

    Evil Baby Orphanage

     

    And last, but not least, is the Evil Baby Orphanage!  Made by DFTBA Records (Hello, Vlogbrothers), this is a card based game for 3 or more players.  If I remember right, the Vlogbrothers asked Nerdfighteria (their viewers) what they would do if given the chance to go back in time and interfere with the evil people of history before they grew up.  One commenter said they should all be taken to an Evil Baby Orphanage to be cared for and, hopefully, changed for the better.  So, in the game, you become a time traveling nanny who collects the likes of baby Hitler, baby Stalin, and baby Typhoid Mary and pacifies them with toys.  The babies often move around the table – either being snatched by other time nannies, or wandering into other orphanages after biting, grabbing, or otherwise harming fellow babies.  There is an expansion (The Crayon Manifesto) that I haven’t played yet, but the name is so great, I think I need to.  *grin*

     

    There you have it – my top five board games!   Now all you need is 1 to 6 other people and a table!

  • January 8, 2014

    Reading Through 2013

    Books

    In my resolutions post last week, I mentioned that I want to read my way through the alphabet.  The idea is that I will read a book that begins with each letter of the alphabet in 2014 (although 26 books is probably shooting pretty high).  I’m not going to go in order because I have a series I want to read that wouldn’t be in alphabetical order, but I’m going to try to get all the letters in anyway.

    Part of the reason for this resolution – or, goal – is because in 2013, I challenged myself to only read books that had been banned or challenged.  That particular challenge was really interesting and satisfying to me as a reader.  It caused me to pick up books I’d never heard of before and read things I probably never would have picked up otherwise.  This year, I am hoping the alphabet challenge will present similar benefits.

    Ultimately, last year with the banned and challenged reading list, I chose to participate because I believe in the importance of reading books that make you think.  Books that have difficult topics that make you wrestle with it until you learn something, solidify your beliefs, or feel something you’ve never felt before.  Books that commonly earn a banned or challenged status are typically misunderstood by those seeking to ban them.  I believe the best thing you can do with a banned book or a book with a subject matter you aren’t necessarily comfortable with is to read with an open mind and try to understand the context of the “offensive” portion of your book.  Once you’ve read the book in full, think about the purpose and what is meaningful to you (or others) about the story.  Many of the greatest books in all of literature have been banned for some offense to someone… so please don’t let the idea of a book being “bad” stop you from reading it.  Don’t let it stop your kids either (read their books yourself if you are concerned about age appropriateness and be ready to talk to them about tough subjects that will come up when they read it).  It’s all about critical reading and thinking about things in different context to fine the real meaning.

    The books I read last year were mostly found on http://www.ala.org/bbooks/.  There is also a ton of great information about how and why books are banned and the importance of reading provided there, so please check it out and see for yourself.

    The following is my reading list from 2013:

    Harry Potter

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

    Always Running

    Always Running by Louis Rodriguez

    Perks of Being a Wallflower

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    Their Eye’s Were Watching God by Zora Hurston

    The Great Gatsby

    The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

    Looking for Alaska

    Looking for Alaska by John Green

    Sophie's Choice

    Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

    Oliver Twist

    Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    The Kite Runner

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    Great Tree of Avalon

    The Great Tree of Avalon by TA Barron

    Whether you challenge yourself with lists and themes like I have or just read whatever you love, keep reading, my friends.  Get your books open, Kindle’s fired up, and read everything you can!

  • January 1, 2014

    Resolutions

    New Year 2014

    Happy New Year!

    I don’t usually pay much attention to the New Year and traditions that typically accompany it, but I have to tell you, I’m kinda feeling it this year.  It is so easy for me to get stuck in a rut of the day-to-day and forget that there can be so much more in life.  So many things to learn and aspire to.

    I really want 2014 to be different.  I’m getting better at stepping outside my comfort zone, but I’m really not where I want to be yet.

    So, without further ado, I present my New Year’s Resolutions and Goals for your reading pleasure:

    1.  This year I will update the blog on time (Wednesdays)

    2. Take more pictures

    3. Have more adventures and try new things

    4. I will make more health conscious decisions with regards to food and exercise

    5. I will practice more self care (e.g.: yoga, relaxing with a book, walking the dog, etc.) to help cope with stress and anxiety

    6. Read my way through the alphabet (in no particular order, because that would be really hard)

    Now I just hope I can get these good habits started and really maintain them all year!  As I go throughout the year, I’ll be sure to keep you up to date.  :)