Wednesday, August 31, 2016


My latest go to meal has been pasta with red sauce. I use different shapes of pasta and always dress up my basic marinara sauce to suit whatever I'm feeling that day. Because it's such a quick and easy go to, I've decided to share my recipe with you all! I'm trying something new and showing you what I've done, step by step with photos.

1 medium onion, diced
4 (or more) cloves garlic, diced
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 cup red wine
1 tbsp dry basil
1 tbsp dry parsley
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, saute onion in 1 tbs olive oil until you get some color on the onions.
2. Add garlic and tomato paste. Saute for about 2 minutes. 

3. Add spices (red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika) and let cook for 1 minute. 
4. Add wine (I had red that day) and let simmer until reduced by half. 
5. Once reduced, add dry herbs and let simmer another 5 minutes. 
6. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato puree. Simmer for at least 30 minutes on low heat. Taste your sauce. (If it's too acidic, add a tsp of sugar, simmer for 5 minutes, taste, and repeat if needed.)
7. If you have, add some fresh basil and parsley (chopped). Cool and serve when needed. 

TA-DA! You've got yourself homemade marinara sauce! While this does take some time to make, you can see how easy it is. While I haven't yet made a big ole batch to freeze, I may one day do it. This is something I can whip up on a weeknight and as the sauce itself simmers, I usually take care of my tot (bathe and change) and the sauce is done. Then I just add some cheese, veggies, and pasta (she's not eating meat right now) and dinner is served! She loves it, I love it, and it's easy! What more can one ask for. 

Some variations on this can include just using the spices to doctor up a jar of marinara. You can also saute some ground meat and add that in to simmer afterwards. If you don't want to add the wine, you can always use any variety of broth. That's what I love about recipes such as this. You can make it as versatile as you want and add your own touches to it to make it your own. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Funny Parenting Reads

When I first became pregnant, I grabbed every last pregnancy book I could get my hands on. I downloaded apps and overloaded on all things pregnancy. After I had my darling daughter, I found very little time to read. Most of my parenting advice came straight from my own mom. I mean, she did raise three kids and I'm sure somewhere along the way, she picked up on a couple things. As I started to get into my own groove of parenting, I went on a search for parenting books that made me laugh and not embarrassed (or ashamed) by the fact that I forget almost everything and I'm not all that organized. I'm just your average mom and I am proud of that.

If you're a mom or dad and you want something that will keep you laughing as you unwind (what's that?), check out these books. They are sure to keep you snickering and there are some good tips in there too!

Books for Moms: 
I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting by Karen Alpert
Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro 

Books for Dads: 

Daddy Needs a Drink by Robert Wilder
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

If you are looking for something more serious on parenting, I do have two recommendations. One is a book that I've purchased and hold onto for dear life. The other is quite informative in regards to raising kids in this tech era. 

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell is part of the Five Love Languages series and it obviously gears towards kids. I truly think this series is a life changer for any and all relationships. I have read this particular book twice now and intend to use it often as my daughter grows. Definitely worth checking into! 

Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers by Lucy Jo Palladino is not a quick read by any stretch. I took my time and read it. It's quite interesting to learn about the different "types" of attentions and how they impact our kids. Very informative and gave me a better understanding of how to deal with technology as my daughter grows. 

Whether you are looking to laugh or just learn, I'm sure there's one here you'll love. If there's one you'd like to recommend for me, I'd love that. I'm always looking for a funny or educational parenting book! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mayhem: The Three Lives of a Woman by Elizabeth Harris: Author Interview + Giveaway

MAYHEM Three Lives of a Woman by Elizabeth Harris
Genre: Historical Literary Fiction
Date of Publication: October 5, 2015
Publisher: Gival Press
# of pages: 130
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Mayhem: Three Lives of a Woman is a literary novel with a historical setting that engages issues of gender, vigilantism, recovery from trauma, and nostalgia for the rural and small-town past.
Two stock-farmers in 1936 Texas are accused of castrating a neighbor. Mayhem is the story of their crime and its consequences–the violent past and standard gender relations that enable it, and its economic displacement of the modest, well-connected woman who occasions it.
Around the edges of the story, an authorial narrator admits why she fictionalizes this past and shapes the novel as she does.


“Mayhem is a wonder of a novel.  A careful evocation of time and place, community and character, pitched in a voice rich with the lyric poetry of everyday speech, the novel seems not so much narrated as blown up by a breeze.   It’s not enough to claim that I believed every word of it; I felt every syllable.  This archetypal tale of crime and punishment, so filled with tragedy and sympathy, is one of the most wildly alive novels I have ever read.   Every sentence teems with truths both literal and metaphorical, and yet, for all its wisdom and profundity, it reaches us in the manner of a folk ballad, high and sweet and clear.” -- Michael Parker, author of All I Have in This World and The Watery Part of the World

“. . .what to read, watch, and listen to this. . .month in order to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy. . .Mayhem: Three Lives of a Woman, Elizabeth Harris. . .” -- Jeff Salamon, Texas Monthly

“In the tradition of Wendell Berry’s elegiac fiction, Elizabeth Harris’ Mayhem. . . a novel that shows reverence to the American South and the people who labored there, but, unlike Berry’s Port William, Kentucky, Harris’ Prince Carl County is unmistakably Central Texas, complete with cattle, cotton, pink granite courthouses and tight-knit German communities.” – Amy Ritthaler Gilmour, San Antonio Express News

“. . . expresses solidarity with marginalized white women from small rural towns, performs a sophisticated act of sisterhood.. . .the quietly insightful and beautifully written Mayhem intrigues and enlightens.” -- Judith Newton, Huffington Post

Amazon   IndieBound
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I love novels. I’ve loved novels since I was a child, first for their creation of an alternate reality you can disappear into. (I was often unhappy as a child, but I had a great capacity for joy.) I love the escape that fiction—and to an extent any reading—provides. But later I came to appreciate fiction as an art in the medium of language. I have the temperament of a maker and a tinkerer, I wanted to make art, and language was the medium I had.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?
Full-time now. I’m living the life I’ve always wanted to.

What did you enjoy most about writing this Mayhem?
Discovering the right perspective to tell it from. Writing outdoor scenes with birds and trees and a river in them. Writing scenes of kitchen work, such as home canning, that I’ve observed but never done.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book?  
A lot has been said elsewhere about big ways that women’s traditional subordination limited their lives: lack of education, for instance. Mayhem: Three Lives of a Woman, set in a rural Central Texas of 1936, dramatizes a woman’s difficulty at small things that add up: getting heard, getting believed, giving herself the benefit of the doubt, asserting innocence when presumed guilty, having an identity apart from family, earning a livelihood, living down a false story.

What cultural value do you see in writing, reading, and storytelling?
Stories are one of the ways we make sense of our experience. Katherine Anne Porter says you should practice an art for the great happiness of your lifetime. And of course writing and reading are keys to education and to many professions.

What do you like to read in your free time?
I belong to a book club, and I read books they choose that I might not have discovered otherwise. Recently I read Donna M. Johnson’s memoir, Holy Ghost Girl.

I often read books my husband is interested in, so we can talk about them. Last winter we both read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s  Between the Woods and the Water, and I’m about to read Alexandra Horowitz’s On Looking.

Some novels I read because they’ve won a prize. Recently I read Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer winner The Sympathizer.

I read books I buy at readings, often by writers I know.  Books in that category that I’ve read during the past year include Steve Harrigan’s A Friend of Mr. Lincoln, Thomas McNeely’s Ghost Horse, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho’s Barefoot Dogs, Elizabeth McCracken’s  Thunderstruck, and Edward Carey’s YA novels, Heap House, Foulsham, and Lungdon. I’m still reading Jose Skinner’s The Tombstone Race, and I look forward to reading Dominic Smith’s The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.

Sometimes I read an older book just because I’ve wanted to for a long time or I’ve loved other books by the writer. Last spring I read Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost.  

What book do you wish you could have written?
I never have that reaction. There are books I envy for how well they do what they do, but I can’t even imagine having written another writer’s book.

What do your plans for future projects include?
I wouldn’t call it a plan, but I might write another short novel like Mayhem incorporating both historical and approximately contemporary settings.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
My relationship with my husband because I promised him I wouldn’t.

Elizabeth Harris is the author of Mayhem: Three Lives of a Woman (2015), which won the Gival Press Novel Award and was a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Fiction (2016). Mayhem has been reviewed with enthusiasm, praised as essential cultural Texana, and compared to fiction of Katherine Anne Porter, Wendell Berry, Cormac McCarthy, and Annie Proulx for its style and its penetration of the Western myth. Harris’s first book The Ant Generator (1991), a short story collection, was chosen by Marilynne Robinson for the prestigious John Simmons Award from the University of Iowa Press. Some of her stories have been anthologized in New Stories from the South, Best of Wind, The Iowa Award, and Literary Austin. Two other novel manuscripts of Harris’ have been recognized in national competitions. 
Harris grew up as Betsy Hall on the east side of Ft. Worth, where she became an avid reader. Her father was a journalist, a former editor of The Daily Texan in 1930-31 who worked for the now-defunct Ft. Worth Press and Pittsburgh Press, and she recalls former newswomen—who had become reporters during World War II—as personal inspirations and role models. She went to high school in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and to Carnegie-Mellon and Stanford Universities. She taught fiction-writing at the University of Texas at Austin and counts many friends and writers among her former students. She and her husband are birders and football fans. Visit Elizabeth Harris at
  August 15 - 24, 2016
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Author Interview
Guest Post
Author Interview
Author Interview

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