Saturday, May 23, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the historic Elizabeth area of Charlotte to Kennedy’s Premium Bar & Grill. This pub is tucked into a neighborhood friendly area that boasts many family restaurants and has a huge outside deck. Dora here. Wish the sky hadn't been so overcast because I would've enjoyed sitting outside on the gorgeous deck. 

We started with the Pretzel Bites appetizer served with Queso and Dijon mustard dipping sauces. Dipping in the Queso took the pretzel bites from OK to good. The server warned us that the Dijon mustard was spicy and she was right. Dora here. Phew! Have a tissue handy. The mustard sauce will clear out your sinuses, but I liked it! I was expecting these little nuggets to taste chewy and soft, but instead they were a bit crispy.
Pretzel Bites with Queso and Dijon Mustard
I chose the Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness gravy, layers of beef, mushrooms, carrots, celery, and onions topped with mashed potatoes along with a side of tater tots. The meat was tender and the vegetables cooked so that they still had a crunch. The mashed potatoes were creamy and the tater tots outstanding. My biggest issue with this dish was that it was only lukewarm, causing the flavors not to mix well. 
Shepherd's Pie
My wife had the Fish & Chips, deep fried Haddock, battered with Harp lager, an Irish beer. Dora here. Since Kennedy's is a pub, I had high hopes for this dish. 
The fish was lightly battered, flakey and tender. The sweet potato fries were a bit lackluster, and the slaw was just average. Nothing  really tantalized my taste buds. And the iced tea? A total loss. Bummer. But then I'm quite sure people don't frequent this establishment for the iced tea. :)
Fish & Sweet Potato Fries
I would rate this restaurant 3 forks out of 5 forks for a family friendly restaurant serving good food.



Do you set expectations for your dining choices based on a review, recommendations from friends, or perhaps from the name of the restaurant? 

Kennedy's Premium Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Crazy about Writing: Snickers had her cria today!

Rori’s Journal
Date: Monday, October 15

Snickers had her cria today. Oh my stars! She’s just beautiful, and just as sweet as her mama. I hope Snickers will rub off on Jumbo. Haha. Probably not. Poor Jumbo had such a tough life until he came to live here at the sanctuary. People can be so vicious and cruel. Isn’t that why I’m here? So, I don’t blame him for being a bit cantankerous.

But I bet the new vet could!

<Laughing out loud now.> You should have seen the on-call doc Corbin’s office sent to help. Unlike any vet I’ve ever met. I mean, really, what vet shows up at a working ranch in a fancy sports car? And the man never even dragged his medical equipment out to help with the delivery! Maybe the trunk wasn’t big enough? Or Corbin told him I was qualified? Whatever, but he sure looked a bit green around the edges. Must’ve had a long night with calls, but he handled Jumbo’s poor manners with grace and humor.

Other than appearing tired, he was mighty nice to look at. Thick dark hair. Heavy stubble on firm jaws. Cocoa-colored eyes that sparkled with kindness. A deep rumble for a voice. <insert dreamy sigh> Not that I’m looking.

But he was here when I needed him, the first man besides Burk or my stepdad, and plans to come back as a volunteer. Yeah, right.

Anyway, Graham, the vet, named the cria, Reesie. Think it was from all the chocolate I stuffed in my mouth?


Until tomorrow, Rori

****
Available June 5
with Pelican Book Group

Amazon Pre-Order
Still stinging from the publicity surrounding her father's death, social phobic Rori Harmon prefers the solitude of her animal sanctuary, accepting that marriage isn’t in her future. Racecar Driver Graham Decker refuses to be wrangled into a relationship by another money-hungry female. On a philanthropy mission, he arrives just in time to assist Rori with a llama birthing, but his appearance thrusts her into the media spotlight again. Has Graham found a woman who doesn't care how deep his wallet extends? Has Rori finally met a man who will stick around when times get tough? Is healing for a hurting heart finally within Rori's reach?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Excited about Reading ~ Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin

Purchase Link
The Cover Story~
Finding each other was only the beginning . . . 

When Kate Darby swerves off a mountain road to avoid hitting a California condor, she ends up trapped in her car, teetering on the edge of a cliff. Terrified, she breathes a prayer that changes her life.

It's Nick Sheridan who comes to Kate's rescue. Nick is handsome and confident, and he seems to develop a habit of rescuing her, but Kate is in town only until her grandmother recuperates from a stroke. She's not planning to get involved with one of the locals.

Nick is a reformed veteran of life in the fast lane, a new Christian, and a travel writer. When he sees a car dangling on the edge of a cliff, the daredevil in him jumps into action. He doesn't expect to be swept off his feet by the car's occupant. He's made a vow--no dating for a year--but keeping that vow is going to be a lot more difficult now that he's met Kate Darby.

My takeaway~
Kate Darby's career is on the fast track until her grandmother's stroke. Leona is all the family she has left, and she's determined to help her grandmother until she's back on her feet. But she has a hard time accepting her grandmother's faith, and has lived her adult life making "safe" choices and being independent, relying only on herself. Travel writer Nick Sheridan has always lived life on the edge until a tragedy sends him to the top of Mount Abel to wrestle with God. He came off that mountain a new man, vowing a year of not dating.

Kate laid her head on his shoulder. "I'm scared."
"Of what?"
"Everything," she said in a whisper. "I don't know how to live like this, how to mix the old and the new."
The black and white balloons were more fitting than he had imagined. An artist blended the two colors to make shades of gray. People compromised. But some decisions really were black and white. A person couldn't go east and west at the same time, but two people could walk side by side in the same direction. At some point, though, they had to agree which way to walk. If they couldn't and they still wanted to be together, someone had to make a sacrifice.

That excerpt pretty much sums up the book for me. Nick and Kate were attracted to each other immediately, and the story was a romance from the first page to the last, but that doesn't mean they didn't have to work through their share of problems. I felt that Nick's love for Kate was a symbol of Christ's love for us. Saddened and distressed by the gulf widening between them, he woos and loves her back.

I thoroughly enjoyed Until I Found You. Bursting with emotional depth, packed with a spiritual punch, it also carried just the right amount of sizzle for me. The parallel between human relationships and condors, rare birds who mate for life, was a bonus. Definitely a keeper!

"Faith is what allows us to see the daffodil in an ugly seed, the chick in an egg. We don't understand how God works, but if we look, we see His handiwork everywhere--even in the mirror." ~Leona


Disclaimer: I received this book free from Amazon. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte and to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, which is scheduled to change hands for a whopping $21 million soon.
Bad Daddy's Burger Bar
This family oriented eating spot boasts an industrial feel but includes TVs and a patio to cater to all clientele. Dora here. I think Ernie just got all excited about the diamond plate wainscoting. Reminded him of a fire truck. :) Seriously, folks, Bad Daddy's attracted all ages, and is in a walkable, bikable neighborhood. Be warned though. Parking is tight, and by Saturday at noon, people were lined up outside, waiting to get in.

We started with the Fried Pickles appetizer. These dill pickles were very good; sliced lengthways, fried very crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The only thing that would have made these better would be a little less salt. Dora here. Anybody else getting tired of seeing fried pickles on here? Note to Ernie: next time go with a different appetizer! 
Fried Pickles
I chose the Classic Southern Burger, a basic burger topped with chili, American cheese, relish, mustard and slaw and served on a Brioche bun. Basically a Carolina burger except swap the onions with relish. This burger was huge, sloppy and had to be eaten with a fork. The flavors were outstanding and the chili actually had beans. Tater tots were crispy and had an excellent taste. Dora here. There was nothing basic about that burger.
Classic Southern Burger with tots
My wife had the Frenchie which is a turkey burger with brie, applewood bacon, grilled apples and garlic mayo served on a Brioche bun. Dora here. I was torn on this one because I really was leaning toward the Mama Ricotta's Burger, just to try it. Doesn't that sound intriguing? Anyway, the Frenchie with the grilled apples won. The bun was soft and fresh, as if they baked it on site, and the cheese literally oozed from the sandwich. Good thing the tables sport a roll of paper towels because you'll need 'em. But, let me tell you, the jalapeno honey mustard and bad daddy sauces on the side were ah-mazing! They jazzed this yummy turkey burger to awesome, but too much of a good thing might leave your tongue on fire.
Frenchie - turkey burger
And get a grip! Check out the size of this burger!

I would rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 forks for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

What's your favorite burger joint? How about a fave burger?

Bad Daddy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Crazy about Writing: What Inspired the Harmon Heritage series?

It was our granddaughter’s fifth grade graduation. Award recipients pranced across the stage to thunderous applause and hundreds of camera clicks. One particular girl accepted her award and then skipped down the steps, racing through the center aisle all the way to the back to hug her mama. When she finally rejoined her class, sniffles could be heard across the crowded auditorium.

Yeah, I was digging in my purse for a tissue. But my writer’s mind was already at work. Where was her daddy? Why wasn’t he there? How could he miss such a momentous event in his daughter’s life? Was it because of divorce? Could he not get off work? Perhaps he was in the military and currently deployed. The possibilities, the what if’s, continued rolling through my head long after the program was over.

Just a handful of days before this ceremony, we received shocking news that our son’s childhood friend committed suicide. Terribly upsetting because as a twenty something he was just beginning his journey, but also because our lives had been so entwined with his family’s for many of their elementary school years. This, just after learning that a neighbor of ten years committed suicide. An international athlete, a mighty giant devoted to his two kids, and newly divorced.

To honor a shy fifth grade girl and two precious children, who adored their daddy and had to be reeling over his death, the inspiration for my Harmon Heritage series was born. Three siblings whose celebrity father committed suicide leaving them hurting and angry, with more questions than answers, more pain than peace. Rori’s a social phobic, hiding behind a wall of fear, preferring the solitude of animals to the whispers and pointed fingers of blame over her father’s death. Beck abandons his family and the love of his life and wanders for a decade because he fears he carries the same genes as his father. Burk, the oldest and Beck’s twin, feels like he’s the glue that holds his family together and puts his personal and professional life on hold until Rori heals and Beck finds peace for his wandering soul.

Perhaps you’re hurting, the enormous waves of pain dragging you under until you lack the strength to claw your way back to the surface. Or the chains of sorrow shackle you to this moment, blinding you to the promise of a new day, a brighter tomorrow. God, with His knows-no-bounds and nothing-holds-Him-back love, can take those dark places, those huge gaping chasms of loss, and meld them into a beautiful tapestry of healing and peace, of hope and joy.


 Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 NLT

Available June 5
with Pelican Book Group
Still stinging from the publicity surrounding her father's death, social phobic Rori Harmon prefers the solitude of her animal sanctuary, accepting that marriage isn’t in her future. Racecar Driver Graham Decker refuses to be wrangled into a relationship by another money-hungry female. On a philanthropy mission, he arrives just in time to assist Rori with a llama birthing, but his appearance thrusts her into the media spotlight again. Has Graham found a woman who doesn't care how deep his wallet extends? Has Rori finally met a man who will stick around when times get tough? Is healing for a hurting heart finally within Rori's reach?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Excited about Reading: London Tides by Carla Laureano

Purchase Link
The Cover Story: 
Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world's war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace ... only for her to choose career over him. Will life's tides bring them back together ... or tear them apart for good this time?

My Takeaway:
I read Five Days in Skye, and LOVED it. You can read that review here. It's not necessary to read Skye first although London Tides revisits Skye for a joyous celebration, so I'd recommend it. :)

"She shouldn't be here." London Tides pulled me in with the first line. It didn't take long for Ian and Grace to reconnect after a ten year separation, and, oh, what a sweet romance for a few pages! Always a but, though, right? This is one of those books where I knew the bottom was going to drop out any minute and that my heart would be ripped into shreds. Yes. That's exactly what this book did.

"You can't see all the suffering and violence and hatred without wondering if there's still good in the world. Most of my colleagues see evil as proof that God couldn't exist. But despite all the bad, there are still people who help others when their safety, their very lives are at risk. When I see that, I know without a doubt he has to exist. I think without God, the good that remains couldn't survive." ~Grace

I was so invested in the characters. Grace because she was hurting, suffering from PTSD after living through the horrors of war zones and, since her identity had always been wrapped up in her job, wondering who she was now. Ian because he never gave up loving Grace, not after ten years apart and not even when a close friend and his well-intentioned mother tried to convince him otherwise. But at a crucial spot in the book, I wanted to throw my hands in the air and scream at Grace, "What are you doing? Just tell him how you really feel!"

For me the ending was a bit too abrupt. After ravaging my emotions, I wanted a little more happily-ever-after, a bit more "ahhh" factor when I flipped to the last page. But don't let that stop you from scooping up this sweet romance! With a subtle faith thread weaved throughout and a plot that'll keep you guessing whether Ian and Grace will actually enjoy a happily-ever-after, London Tides will appeal to contemporary romance readers across genres.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from NetGalley and David C. Cook Publisher for the purpose of sharing my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.
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