Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: The Burning

A serial killer is on the lose. He has already beaten four women beyond recognition before lighting the bodies on fire, earning him the nickname, The Burning Man. Detective Maeve Kerrigan is on the task force that is working to bring him to justice, when a fifth body, Rebecca Haworth, is discovered. As Kerrigan digs deeper into the fifth victim's life she starts to realize that The Burning Man might not be responsible after all and a second killer is on the loose.

I wasn't sure what I was expecting in this detective but I ended up liking Maeve Kerrigan a lot more than I thought I would. She is definitely a woman in a man's world, fighting for her place on the task force by working hard.  Maeve is extremely likable as a character, and while the book moves slowly to end the conclusion, it doesn't feel slow. I love that while she is smart and focused, she doesn't seem omniscient. She is the narrator of the book as well as Louise, Rebecca's best friend, to give more perspective into Rebecca's life. A life that seems idyllic and wonderful on the outside, but under the surface is dark and desperate.

I loved that the book was two murder mysteries in one. You gained answers to all five murders as you learned the back story of one girl. Surprisingly enough, the murder's confession at the very end of the book was the least compelling part of the entire story. It was plain and straightforward and completely unlike the rest of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the first book in the Maeve Kerrigan series. It was my first experience with a British Procedural and I have to say I will be going back for more.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Campfire Banana Boats

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wet-Nap but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #showusyourmess  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
Growing up, my parents took us camping every year. We would drive away from all of the distractions of life and set up camp for a few days, just the 7 of us. It was always my favorite trip of the year because there wasn't any chance my dad would be called into the hospital.

My mom would bring all sorts of delicious things to make over the fire, but my favorite was always Campfire Banana Boats.  These delicious and messy fireside treats are easy to whip up, don't take a lot of preparation and the kids will love being able to toss them straight onto the fire.
You probably have almost everything you need for these banana boats on hand, if not a quick trip to the store will get you all of the ingredients. 

You will need:

  • bananas
  • a knife
  • chocolate chips
  • small marshmallows 
  • tinfoil 
  • Wet Nap (for clean up, these are messy!You can find a .55 cent off coupon here, while supplies last. )
Slice your bananas long wise down the center without peeling. Stuff the middles with chocolate chips. I recommend the small chocolate chips. I bought bigger ones this time and it didn't work as well.
Top your chocolate chips with little marshmallows. Push everything as far into the banana as you can.
Wrap the entire banana up in tin foil. Make sure that none of the edges of the banana are expose. When you are wrapping your banana, you want to wrap as much of the foil as you can on the peel and not on the chocolate or marshmallows. If the foil is straight on these, they will melt onto the foil instead of the banana.
Throw the bananas onto the campfire. I like to throw them at the base of the fire versus right on top. All the bananas to roast for about 10 minutes. Pull them out and check the insides, the bananas are done when the insides are warm and melted. Then dig in. 
As with most campfire foods, these banana boats are seriously messy but delicious, so right before we headed up the canyon, I ran into Walmart to grab more tinfoil and a container of Wet-Nap. We love Wet-Nap for camping especially since they have made them stronger and softer than before and I love that they moisturize with aloe. Wet-Nap is found on the napkin isle because unlike a lot of other wipes, it is meant to be gentle on skin. My 5-year-old seriously loves them. I have never met someone who wanted to clean up their hands so much! 
Campfire Banana Boats bring back some wonderful memories for me, they are delicious, nostaligc and thanks to Wet-Nap, not nearly as messy as I remember them being.
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Ice Cream Kitchenaid Giveaway

Today I have teamed up with some of my very favorite bloggers to bring you this fantastic giveaway. The only thing better than having a brand new KitchenAid in the color of your choice, is to get the Ice Cream Attachment so you can make your very own ice cream at home. The full prize includes:

  •  KitchenAid 5 qt Artisan mixer (color chosen by the winner)
  • KitchenAid Ice Cream attatchment
  • Copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
  • 1 Zak Designs Ice Cream Container, Pint Sized
Check out the wonderful blogs that have made this giveaway possible and then enter using the Rafflecopter below! 

Image Map
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Harry Potter Baby Pictures Ideas

When I met Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings a couple of years ago and we bonded over our love of Young Adult Literature, Crafting and all things Harry Potter. I mean, anybody who has a Moaning Myrtle picture in her bathroom has to be pretty awesome, right? 

Ever since she told me she was pregnant, I knew there had to be a Harry Potter baby photo shoot in this little boy's future. This shoot is absolutely one of my favorites I have ever taken and I can't wait to share it with you. In this post I will share where I got all of the props and we posed this little man to capture these photographs. 
 Teddy is about five months old in these photos and not sitting up yet, so all of these photos are set up to be safe for an uneasy sitter. Teddy is already Harry Potter lucky because his mom sells the cute outfit he is wearing in her Rae Gun Shop. You can find his outfit here. The glasses are apart of this costume set found here. The Scarf, Wand and Hogwarts Letter come from the Pieces By Polly Etsy Shop found here. I couldn't find the exact suitcase set I used in these pictures but this set here would work too.
 For this photo, we wanted Teddy to sit up so we could get a better glimpse of the glasses and scarf. The easiest way to do this was to put a pillow in the corner of the room, drape the backdrop over top of it and prop him up, with the security of his mom only a step away.
 This is absolutely one of my favorite picture. He is just so excited that he finally got his Hogwarts Letter.
 These next few pictures are perfect for people who might not want to spend a lot of money on props. You just need a copy of the books for these ones. The above picture is perfect if you have a sleepy baby but want to take a few more picture. Swaddle them in a white blanket and when they are asleep lay them down with the props.
For this picture, the books are not stacked in order, but set to make more even piles. After a couple of times of trial and error, we found that the second book, Chamber of Secrets, was the perfect height for the baby to lay on.
 The picture below is one of my favorites. For safety reasons, it is a composite image, or an image that is made up of two images. There are a few steps you can take when shooting to make putting together a composite image a snap. Have your parent hold the baby securely with a hand. Take pictures until you have one you love, then have the parent move their hand to a completely different spot and take a few more pictures. This way you will have two picture that combine easily for a cute, and parent free picture. The cute bird cage in the photo was purchased at Tai Pan Trading, which doesn't have an online store, but you can find a similar one here.

For more of my pictures you can check out Joyous Moments Photography and my Joyous Moments Photography Facebook Page. Do you love the images from this photo shoot and want to take some of your own? One lucky reader will win the makings of a fabulous Harry Potter Photo Shoot including: 
  • One Rae Gun Harry Potter outfit. Your choice size, Hogwarts house colors and style. Either the Harry Potter girly swing top set or the Hogwarts Tie onesie set (this can be done with or without ruffles on the bum)
  • One 3 Piece Gift Set from Pieces by Polly. This includes one Wand, a Scarf to the Hogwarts house of choice, one personalized Hogwarts Acceptance Letter, School Packing List, and Hogwarts Express Ticket
  • Make Love Not Horcruxes bag to carry all your photoprops (or favorite books) to your photo shoot!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Dangerous Creatures

What would you bet if you knew you couldn't lose? Ridley is so sure of her persuasion powers that she posses as a Dark Caster Siren, that she puts it all on the table in a game of cards. A game that she loses, now she owes someone even more powerful than herself anything he wants.

We are back in Gaitlin for the newest Beautiful Creatures book, but this time instead of following Lena and Ethan around, we are following Ridley and Link on Link's journey to become a musician in the Big Apple. Ridley has found Link a band, but what she doesn't tell him is that she using him to pay her gambling debts.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Ridley was my absolute favorite part of the Beautiful Creatures series, so I was thrilled to see a spin-off starring her. I loved getting in her head, even with hearing her insecurities and such, I felt her character stayed really true to what she was in the first series. Link was his fun, odd ball self. My only character problems came with one of the other main characters who seemed to flip his entire personality, and stance on life for no reason at all.

I felt like the pacing on this book was a little off. It took forever to get into and then the last thirty percent of the book absolutely flew by. Even though the middle was a little slow it was a fun read, that anybody who liked the Beautiful Creatures series would enjoy, especially if there was a small part of you who was always cheering for Ridley in you head.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Best New York Street Food You Can Make At Home- Halal Guys Copycat

Last year, I went to New York City for a week with my husband and my mom. It was an amazing trip — what can I say, I love New York!

Even though we saw a ton of cool things, we were a little bummed by most the food we tried. We love to eat out and knew New York was a food paradise, but we must have chosen the wrong places. But there was one place that stood out above the rest and was the best food we had while we were there. No, it wasn't a fancy restaurant, it was from a food cart.

At 11, one night, my husband and I were starving after a day of running around the city. We stepped out of our hotel, the Midtown Hilton, and saw a couple food carts across the street. The lines were pretty long, even that late at night, so we figured they had to be good. We chose one of the carts and ended up getting a chicken and rice plate for about $6. There was so much food on the plate that both of us ate and couldn't finish. And it was amazing!

After we came home from the trip we both craved it. We read up about the cart and learned it's actually quite a popular food cart. Was it just coincidence we ate at the best food cart in the city? I don't know, but I knew we had to make it ourselves.

So we did.

Even if you've never had street cart food before, you've got to give this a try!


Chicken Marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 Cups long-grain rice
  • 2 1/2 Cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce Prep:

  • 1/4 Cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 Cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Chicken Prep: Place the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, coriander and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. Put half the marinade and chicken in a gallon bag and refrigerate. Spread the marinade well to make sure the chicken is coated. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Remove the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (don't skimp on the pepper!). Heat oil in an electric skillet at medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, and reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 6 minutes). Remove chicken from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes for juices to redistribute.

Chop the chicken into 1/4-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the other half of the marinade that you didn't use to marinate the chicken originally.

Rice Prep: Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the cumin and turmeric and cook about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir until rice is coated a nice yellow color. Lightly toasted the rice, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover the rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from heat and let the rice absorb the rest of the liquid until tender, which takes about 15 minutes.

Sauce Prep: Combine the sour cream, mayo, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk together well. Season to taste with salt.

Serve: Place the chicken and the marinade back in the heated electric skillet and cook over medium-high heat until heated through.

Serve by placing a bed of rice on a plate and top with the chicken. Serve with chopped lettuce, diced tomato, and toasted pita bread. The sauce is on the side (or on top if you love that much sauce, but be careful because it's kind of tangy). Hot sauce is also good with it.

This dish takes a bit of preparation, but it's super yummy. The pita bread is amazing with this. Use it to scoop up the rice and chicken instead of a spoon.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Custom Pinboards for Doctor Who Fans

Hi again! Lorene here, the blogger formerly known as just Lu. (The blog is still there, but the blogger isn't as often :)) If you've been reading Housewife Eclectic for many moons, you might remember me from my Wednesdays on the Web posts back in the day. But this time, I'm here to share some fun projects with you to give Debra a little break and some time to snuggle that sweet baby girl!

Up today: super easy, customizable pinboards. Yup, real-life pinboards, not the Pinterest kind. Make them for whoever -- I highly recommend your favorite Whovian :)

How to Make Custom Mini Pinboards

  • cork tiles -- I used coasters that had a decorative paper on the back, or you can pick up cork trivets, tiles, or sheets of cork at most craft/home stores or on Amazon 
  • vinyl -- I used glossy outdoor vinyl since the adhesive is stronger 
  • electronic cutting machine (optional) 
These are so easy and customizable! Just cut the designs you want out of the vinyl and stick it on! If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can cut simple shapes by hand easily with an x-acto knife. I used glossy outdoor vinyl since it has a stronger adhesive, but any kind of vinyl, or even contact paper, should work.

I used some of my favorite Doctor Who designs and sayings, traced in Silhouette Studio. I also customized some simple white thumbtacks with teeny tiny Cybermen, Adipose, Daleks and of course, a TARDIS! When you’re looking for images that you want to hand cut or trace digitally, try searching for coloring pages and stencils -- they’re generally simpler and easy to trace.

Have fun and I'd love to see what you create!

Go and be awesome,

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of 3 kids and wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She happily shows up here at Housewife Eclectic whenever Debra allows, and occasionally blogs on whatever topic comes up over at her blog, just Lu, when she has time in between projects and her awesome job as a virtual assistant. 
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