Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pebbles


Because I had bought marshmallows to make the Marguerites I saw that there was a recipe on the back of the marshmallows that called for chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallows. You know I LOVE chocolate and peanut butter together, and my new relationship with marshmallows is blossoming nicely, so I thought - why not?
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pebbles (courtesy of Hy-Top brand marshmallows)
~One 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
~1 cup crunchy peanut butter
~38-40 regular marshmallows
In a large saucepan melt chocolate chips and peanut butter; stir together until blended. Cool chocolate peanut butter mixture about 5 minutes. Add marshmallows and stir until they are well coated. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheets. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.

These are simply delicious. Even my little guy thought so. That's his hand in the picture - helping himself. He knows he had to take one now before Mommy eats all the snack. He's a wise child. This is my new favorite snack, it's even good enough to replace Muddy Buddies, which I've made a batch every week since I first posted about Muddy Buddies. I call it the dessert diet. I ate almost all the chocolate peanut butter marshmallows in place of dinner last night. (But, in all fairness, I did only make a half batch, and I gave up two of them to my in-laws who happened to drop by, and Ethan had two at the most.)
Is there any chocolate on my face?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marguerites


I made these scrumptious nummies inspired by Pioneer Woman. They are so easy (Ritz cracker, peanut butter and marshmallow - and broil until desired brownness on marshmallow)and they are oh so good! I have never really been big on marshmallows, but now I'm sold. Last night, I put peanut butter and marshmallows on top of my 3 POINT Weight Watchers Oat Bake, and melted it in the microwave, and it was delicious. I just felt I needed to add 10 points or so to the treat ( ;

Book Review – Code Name: Baby by Christina Skye

Dog trainer, Kit O’Halloran, is training four dogs that are genetically enhanced and will become combat dogs. The Navy has a special unit of SEALS called Firefox – these SEALS are also genetically enhanced, but when one of them goes rogue and decides to kidnap Kit and her dogs, a fellow Firefox agent, Wolfe Houston is sent to Kit’s home to provide undercover surveillance. Wolfe and Kit grew up together; Wolfe’s best friend is Kit’s brother Trace O’Halloran (of Code Name: Bikini fame). Four years younger, Kit always had a teenage crush on Wolfe, and now she gets the chance to live out her wildest fantasies. But first, Wolfe must take down the rogue Firefox agent and ensure Kit and the dogs’ safety.

Code Name: Baby is one of Skye’s romance/science fiction/mystery novels. At least there wasn’t the added genre of paranormal in this one (as there was in Code Name: Bikini). The genetically enhanced Navy SEALs is a little hard to swallow: they can read minds, project energy fields and holograms and control animals? Sure, whatever. This might have its place in a science fiction novel, but it’s a little too much in a romance/mystery novel.

Code Name: Baby is very addicting at the beginning. We want to see how Wolfe is going to explain his presence to Kit and to see how they react to each other. When it finally happened, it was nothing special. Skye has Wolfe and Kit spending most of the story out of each other’s presence, which leads to poor character development. Certain story lines were left unfinished as well. This book had lots of promise, but didn’t deliver in the end.

Overall rating: 1 out of 3 stars

Book Review – Hot Pursuit by Christina Skye

When writer Taylor O’Toole agrees to follow her friend’s boyfriend Harris Rains to see if he’s cheating on her, she gets mixed up with a dangerous crowd. Navy SEAL Jack Broussard moves in to the apartment next door to Taylor to provide undercover security. But when Taylor continues to follow Rains, she continually ends up in need of Jack’s rescuing. With Taylor’s and Jack’s instant attraction to each other, can they keep it cool and stay alive?

This novel is smokin’ hot plus it has good character development and a good mystery.

Overall rating: two out of three stars: an decent read

(Sorry about the short review – I finished this book in Hawaii and it’s been a couple days and I have since read two more novels that I need to review.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My French Pedicure

My loving and giving Mommy treated me to a pedicure (she got one too). I got a French Pedicure with rhinestones, and am very happy with it. This picture isn't too great, but in case you can't see them, the rhinestones are at the base of my big toenail.

I have to admit that we're back home now and I took the picture here, where the sun doesn't shine except every 27th day. And as you can see, it's not shining today, and I try to use natural light, so I didn't have quite enough light to keep my shutter speed above 1/60.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Crunch Milk Chocolate


My step-dad flew to the Big Island for work twice this week while we've been in Hawaii. He brought us back some Crunch Milk Chocolate from the Big Island. It is DELICIOUS. It's milk chocolate, with crispy crunchies in it, with Macadamia nuts ... yummo!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SPAM - A Hawaii Favorite


My mother has been converted to liking Spam. It's taken five years, but she's finally admitted the truth - she enjoys Spam and buys it in bulk at Costco. For those of you who don't know, Spam is a favorite food among the locals in Hawaii. They even have a Spam festival. A traditional Hawaiian breakfast would be Spam, eggs, and rice. My mom convinced Hubby to try this breakfast one morning, minus the rice because we didn't have any already made.
Hubby's verdict: it's good - I probably shouldn't like it, but I do

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Another visit to Cheesecake Factory


We enjoyed our first visit to Cheesecake Factory so much, we went there again today. It is about two blocks away from my mom's condo. Hubby got this "Lots-of-Fun Burger". His verdict: it was a little too fun (meaning too big). He'll stick with the Classic Burger. Oh, I must mention his strawberry lemonade. He insisted I get it in the picture.


I ordered this "Crispy Spicy Beef." My mom got it the first time we went, and I really liked all the sauce that it comes with, and I like the crispy-ness;I don't know how they do it though - it's not breaded.


I ordered the original cheesecake (the first time, I ordered the ultra-uber chocolate peanut butter, over-the-top cheesecake; I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was too sweet for me.) The original was okay, but I prefer the New York Cheesecake at Black Angus.


Hubby ordered the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. His verdict: "It's delicious!"
(We ordered them to-go in case you're wondering.)

Rainbow Drive-In


After visiting Sea Life Park, we went to Rainbow Drive Inn for a Hawaii Plate Lunch. A plate lunch is some kind of meat (Teriyaki chicken, or BBQ Steak, or Breaded Mahi-Mahi), with rice and macaroni salad.

This is my meal, I got BBQ Steak, but with rice only.

The picture isn't that great because I took it in the backseat of the car.

My Mom and Donivan did not enjoy their meals so much, and have vowed to never go to Rainbow Drive-In again. Instead, they will stick with L&L Drive-In. Rainbow did not have brown rice for my mom like they once used to, and they gave her regular Coke instead of diet. She also wanted cole slaw, which they advertise that they have, but they were out of cole slaw that day. Donivan's complaint was that there was not enough sauce on the meat; it was dry.

That seals it, we'll have to visit L&L while we're here.

Book Review – Code Name: Bikini by Christina Skye

In this paranormal/suspense/science fiction/romance novel, Navy SEAL Trace O’Halloran is assigned to provide security to a top-secret package being transported on a cruise ship. When cruise pastry chef Gina Ryan gets involved due to the head of beverage services targeting her due to jealousy, Trace decides that the beverage host might be involved somehow, and assigns himself to protect Gina. Of course, living in close quarters makes it hard for them to resist each other. Can they have passion and stay focused enough to stay alive?

Communicating telepathically, shape-shifting, throwing energy nets, controlling others through thoughts are just some of the science fiction attributes the members of the special Navy SEAL team called Firefox are able to do. This is so out there, and hardly any explanation is given – these traits might be okay in a science fiction novel, but in a romance/suspense/paranormal novel, it’s a bit much to swallow. That’s right, there’s also paranormal occurrences – the ghost of a dead person warns Trace of upcoming events, and he smells lavender whenever the ghost is around. Again, no explanation is given. This is too ridiculous!

The good aspects of the book are the character development, the multi-conflict storyline, and the strong secondary characters.

Overall rating: 1.5 out of 3 stars

Book Review – Flashpoint by Suzanne Brockmann

Computer specialist, Tess Bailey, has trained hard to become a field agent. But after her agency denies her field agent status, she quits, and takes up an offer from Tom Paoletti to work as a field agent at Troubleshooters, Inc. On her first mission, Tess is assigned to work with Jimmy Nash. Tess knows Jimmy from the Agency, and even had a one-night stand with him, after which he never called, left the Agency, and moved to Mexico. They must get over their rocky past because their mission requires them to go undercover as husband and wife in Kazbekistan. They must recover a top-secret laptop that has details on Al-Qaeda’s future attacks.

Flashpoint has good secondary characters as well as main characters, which makes the story very interesting. Since the book is in the Troubleshooters, Inc. series, the focus is more on the plot than on steamy love scenes between the “hero” and “heroine.” We do, however, get to see a lot of character development with Jimmy, who is a flawed hero. Brockmann is a master at knowing just how much detail of the suspense plot to mix with the romance plot to make a good romance-suspense novel.

Overall rating: 2 out of 3 stars – a good read

Book Review – Freedom’s Price by Suzanne Brockmann

In Freedom’s Price, Brockmann finishes telling the story she began in her book, Forbidden. San Salustiano native, Marisala Bolivar moves to Boston to attend college. Life in her country is better now after the civil war in which she met journalist Liam Bartlett. Marisala helped free Bartlett from prison in San Salustiano and nursed him back to health. They were both attracted to each other, but since Liam was eight years her senior, and Marisala was only fifteen when they first met, they did not act on the passion between them. Marisala’s uncle has asked Liam to look after his niece while she’s in Boston, and when Marisala has no where to live, Liam offers her a room in his condo. Can the two ignore their feelings for each other?

This is a short novel, and other than the main conflict – will the guy and the girl get together or not (which, we all know the answer to that) – there was no other significant conflict in the book. There were several strands that Brockmann could have explored to make the story more interesting and to give it more depth, but it just wasn’t done. I did not find the main characters particularly likeable.

Overall rating: 1.5 stars…I guess you would want to read it if you read the first book, Forbidden.

Book Review – Freedom’s Price by Suzanne Brockmann

In Freedom’s Price, Brockmann finishes telling the story she began in her book, Forbidden. San Salustiano native, Marisala Bolivar moves to Boston to attend college. Life in her country is better now after the civil war in which she met journalist Liam Bartlett. Marisala helped free Bartlett from prison in San Salustiano and nursed him back to health. They were both attracted to each other, but since Liam was eight years her senior, and Marisala was only fifteen when they first met, they did not act on the passion between them. Marisala’s uncle has asked Liam to look after his niece while she’s in Boston, and when Marisala has no where to live, Liam offers her a room in his condo. Can the two ignore their feelings for each other?

This is a short novel, and other than the main conflict – will the guy and the girl get together or not (which, we all know the answer to that) – there was no other significant conflict in the book. There were several strands that Brockmann could have explored to make the story more interesting and to give it more depth, but it just wasn’t done. I did not find the main characters particularly likeable.

Overall rating: 1.5 stars…I guess you would want to read it if you read the first book, Forbidden.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Dinner

Mommy and I made Father's Day dinner. Below is the appetizer: Herbed-Cheese and Bacon-stuffed Mushrooms.

We had a Caesar Salad:

And King Crab legs, red potato and butter (not drawn). The Fillet Mignon was really thick and took longer to cook, so we started with this, and added the steak later.

Fillet Mignon with sauteed mushrooms and onions.


Earlier in the day, Mommy and I walked to the Food Pantry (a local grocery store) and got Beard Papa's. It's a Japanese cream puff. I looked at the price of a gallon of milk while we were there...guess how much it was?

A gallon of milk was $9.69 plus tax!!! Luckily we got milk for Babycakes at Costco, where is was $5.05 for a gallon. But never mind that...back to the Beard Papa's - they were delicious!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Food in Hawaii


Here's my Dole Whip from the International Marketplace. I forgot to take a picture until I got half-way through my dessert. Hubby said I subconsciously didn't want you to see how big it really was.

We walked to the Farmer's Market today, and I tried my first beignet (pronounced Ben-YAY). I had, just yesterday, read about beignets in the book I'm reading - Codename: Bikini, where the main character is a pastry chef. I ordered chocolate-filled beignets. And I was so excited about them, I forgot to take a picture! But this picture is of the lady making more. It's a deep fried pastry, sprinkled with powdered sugar (basically a donut). Babycakes loved them!

Hubby got this grass-fed, beef, Andouli (a spicy Cajun) sausage. The beef is raised on Oahu on the North Shore. He reports that it was good, but not as good as the Kielbasa we had for Memorial Day.

Mommy got this Blueberry scone from the Diamond Head Grill and Market - it's famed here in Hawaii among the locals. My mother doesn't even like scones, but someone brought her one at work, and she's been dreaming of them in her sleep ever since.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hawaii at Night


We are staying with my family in Hawaii. This is one of the views from their condo on Waikiki beach.


I love Waikiki at night - I love the lights. This view is taken from the back of the condo.


This view is also from the back of the condo (the view from the kitchen). I have always loved the mountain out there and how the houses built on it make it look like lava flowing down it (at least at night).

More pictures to come!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review – The Admiral’s Bride by Suzanne Brockmann

Dr. Zoe Lange, a secret agent specializing in chemical warfare, is called on by Admiral Jake Robinson to help his team recover a stolen chemical warfare agent. Zoe and Jake are instantly attracted to each other, but the memory of Jake’s dead wife, prevents them from acting on their emotions. But when their efforts to recover the chemical require them to go undercover as husband and wife they might not be able to resist each other.

The Admiral’s Bride is one of Brockmann’s Tall, Dark & Dangerous series, and therefore is heavily centered on the romance between the hero and heroine. The story is nothing special, and the characters are very typical, so if you want something fresh and new, don’t read The Admiral’s Bride. If you want a nice fast read, go for it!

Overall rating: two out of three starts – a decent read

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Book Review - Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann

Readers of Brockman’s Tall, Dark and Dangerous series will be a little shocked at the more vulgar writing Brockmann uses in her Troubleshooters, Inc. series, of which Into the Storm is book number 10. Brockmann is known for her ability to write from a man’s perspective, but the cussing and vulgarity is more “in your face” in this series. If you can get past the twenty-page prologue about the Navy SEAL Team Sixteen’s operation in Afghanistan, then Into the Storm is worth the read.

Brockmann uses the prologue to establish characters, namely, the main character, Mark Jenkins. If you can manage to keep the Team Sixteen characters straight in the prologue, the next task is to learn and keep track of the many characters of Troubleshooters, Inc., where Lindsey Fontaine, works. As a former LAPD officer, Lindsey is well-skilled to take care of herself in the dangerous situations she often finds herself in through her work. Mark and Lindsey notice each other right away, but there’s one problem – Tracy Shapiro – the new receptionist for Troubleshooters, Inc. Mark has been infatuated with her since high school.

Despite this, Mark and Lindsey hook up for a night of sex that ends with Mark running out on Lindsey to go help a drunk and cash-less Tracy. But when Tracy goes missing while playing the hostage on a combined Team Sixteen and Troubleshooters training mission in New Hampshire, Mark and Lindsey must battle their emotions and the worst snow storm of the decade in hopes of finding Tracy before it’s too late.

Brockmann proves herself to be a great character writer, but this does make it a little hard to keep up with all the characters if the reader is not familiar with the series.

Overall rating: 2 out of 3 stars – a good read

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Matthew McConaunghey and the Beef Commercial


Hubby was asking me the other day if the annoying commercials on the radio that feature two women having a silly conversation about makeup products appeals to me as a woman. I told him no - that those conversations are totally fake and cornball and they make me not want to buy the product. I usually turn off the radio.

However, there is one commercial that is very effective. It's the Matthew McConaunghey Beef radio ad. Woo-eee! I love it when I'm driving along, and suddenly his voice drips like honey over my radio speakers. I get the biggest grin on my face when I hear his southern voice telling me all about beef. Yes, I will eat beef. Yes, that's what I'm making for dinner. I will never grow tired of this radio ad.

Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging, here's a link to the ad.

Thank you, Matthew!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Book Review - Code Name: Nanny by Christina Skye

Because of the dangerous criminals she prosecutes as the assistant district attorney, Cara O’Connor asks for help from the FBI when she begins receiving death threats. FBI Agent Summer Mulcahey enters Cara’s life to serve as the nanny to her two girls. While on the job, Summer finds an instant attraction to the gardener at Cara O’Connor’s estate. Used to ignoring her feelings, Summer does just that, until she finds out that the hot gardener, Gabe Morgan, is an undercover Navy SEAL – there to help protect the family. When their hunt for whoever is behind the death threats leads them on a trip to Mexico, the temperature rises between Summer and Gabe. Can they protect the family and work out their feelings with each other?

I did not enjoy Code Name: Nanny nearly as much as I did Code Name: Princess. Code Name: Nanny is plot-driven, and I felt Code Name: Princess was character-driven. A lot of time was spent on the details of the covert operations while time between the main characters, Summer and Gabe, is mostly limited to the time they spend together on the job.

Overall: two out of three stars – a decent read.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anniversary


Yesterday was mine and hubby's anniversary. I planned a surprise dinner at a nice waterfront restaurant, and arranged for Babycake's to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa. It was fun to do all the planning for what I called our "Anniversary Spectacular."

Hubby gave me these beautiful roses. Thanks Hubby for all the great years!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Book Review – Forever Blue by Suzanne Brockmann

Navy SEAL, Blue McCoy, is on leave for his brother’s wedding when he meets up with Lucy Tait, a local police officer. Lucy developed a crush on Blue, four years her senior, when he saved her from a gang beating in high school. Blue was in a serious relationship with another girl, Jenny Lee, at the time. Jenny Lee left Blue for his brother, and Blue is expected to be the best man at his brother’s wedding, now twelve years later.

Now a full-grown woman, Lucy finds that she and Blue have an instant chemistry, but she guards her heart knowing that Blue might just be using her as a stand-in for Jenny Lee. When Blue becomes the main suspect of a murder of his brother, he is forced to stay in town until the investigation is complete. The whole town thinks he is guilty, except for Lucy, and she is his only hope of being proved innocent.
***
I loved this book. Forever Blue is the second in Brockmann’s Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series. As in the first book of the series, Prince Joe, the heroine is straight-forward and speaks exactly what she is thinking. I very much admire this quality, but I did notice that it is a direct repeat of the heroine of Prince Joe. I also very much liked Blue. He has to deal with the fact that since he saved Lucy from a beating when she was fifteen, she views him as a hero. He knows he is not. He acts out in anger (which we see in the book) and doesn’t always make the right decision. This flawed characteristic in the hero of the book makes him very likeable and real. Lucy is very much a real character as well. She does not wear fancy underwear and is most comfortable in her jeans and no makeup.

The emotional conflict of the book is the exact same as the emotional conflict in Prince Joe. Based on pure animal attraction, the hero and heroine sleep together, but then, after spending more time together, they realize, individually, that they might be falling in love. But both are afraid to admit that, thinking that the other slept with them knowing that it was no-strings-attached sex. Of course in the end, it all works out, after all, it is a romance novel. Despite the similarities of Forever Blue with Prince Joe, I still very much enjoyed reading this book, and I think it has something to do with the very real characters Brockmann is able to write. Brockmann expertly weaves in just enough details of the murder investigation with the love story, and it is a delightful and addicting read.

Overall rating: three out of three stars – go out and read this!