An Excitable Box

Oh this post.

If you are related to me–DO NOT READ THIS POST!!

If you do, please, don’t ever talk to me about it, and certainly never look me in the eyes ever again, because I’LL KNOW.

So, a little bit before my vacation in Ohio, my friend Thien-Kim Lam of I’m Not The Nanny, From Left to Write Book Club and, most recently, The Bawdy Bookworms, asked me to review her latest venture, The Bawdy Book Box.

The description from the site:

“Each Bawdy Book Box will contain one smokin’ hot romance or erotica book, a sexy adult toy, and an additional 2-3 surprises to feed your mind and body. (Don’t worry, if you’ll need batteries, we’ve that covered too.)

As a bonus, all Bawdy Bookworms (that’s you!) will have access to our discussion forums aka our virtual book club. No more worrying that your grandma or colleague will see your status update about Mr. Sexy’s escapades. Come over and join other smart, sexy women talk about our books and vibrators.”

I mean, how could I say no?

Basically, the only thing to say was “yes, yes, YES.”

Here’s my box. (TWSS) I immediately instagrammed it. Because, of course I did.

It came in a very nondescript package. It contained the book: Biscuits: Tea: English Breakfast, because, theme.   And then…something I can only assume was designed as a tea stirrer. A battery-powdered tea stirrer. A very powerful and very small tea stirrer. A “bedazzled” tea frother. Because gems like you deserve to have their tea stirred by only the fanciest and smoothest tea frothers. And trust me, it will really stir your tea. Like, bubbling over. Best for hot, creamy tea.   Alongside some cherry flavored lubricant. (because when you’re greasing your wheels, it’s best to know what the engine tastes like.)   What did I think about this box?   I loved it. Truly. But one tiny thing.   The book was the fourth in a series. YES!! Each CAN be read as a standalone, but I have book neuroses, and can only read series in order. It’s a thing.   Turns out it’s #4 in a SPIN-OFF series, so I have many books to read, now. I loved the Beautiful Bastard series, and now there’s MORE.   The book was good, and it, um, really warmed my tea. In fact, I’ve loved the series so far. A series I was sure I would HATE.   I was wrong.   Would I buy the box? Yes. If my family asks: no. But that’s the joy of the nondescript box.   NO ONE KNOWS WHAT’S INSIDE!! (twhs)   Now, a hot recipe for a hot box. (that wording is weird, but go with it.)   It’s seasonal–like the box.   Indian Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro Pesto   Indian Pumpkin Soup with cilantro pesto    

Indian Pumpkin Soup and Cilantro Pesto by Cat Bowen Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Keywords: appetizer entree side soup/stew dairy-free gluten-free kosher paleo soy-free vegan vegetarian


for the soup

  • 2, 15 oz cans pumpkin puree
  • 1, 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (plus more if it needs thinning)
  • 1 large sweet potato, roasted
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted (cut off the top, wrap in foil. bake at 350 for about 45 minutes)
  • 2 cloves raw garlic
  • 2 tbsp EVOO or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp hot curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

for the pesto

  • 8 oz toasted pecans
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of one lemon


in a large stockpot on medium, heat oil

thinly slice garlic clove

toss garlic in oil and fry until golden brown

remove from oil

add spices and toast until mix becomes extremely fragrant

stir in remaining ingredients, leaving the salt for last.

mash the potato in the soup until mostly smooth

simmer one hour

serve with pesto


combine all ingredients in food processor and process until nearly smooth.

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the box was free, but how it was used, and my opinions are my own.

Goddess of Badass.

Hey guys!!

To be 100% honest, I am wiped. I have been working feverishly on my own novel and my scholarship that my reading schedule hasn’t been as rigorous as I’d like. It’s making me a wee bit starkers, but I’m still managing about 4 books/week.

Though my trips to the gym have been spread out a bit more than I’d like, and that’s making me even crazier. I am not simply one who can abide a lack of physical activity. It just doesn’t mesh. I realize that I’m not taking care of myself as well as I should be, and that doesn’t typically end well for anyone.

But today is the first day of fall. It’s the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar, and it’s Mabon.

Oh, Mabon! How I tried to understand what the fuck you were when I was a teenage make-believe Wiccan. How I loved the movie The Craft. It celebrated all the things I loved best as a tween/teen. Black clothing, dark lipstick, revenge against bitchy girls, the ability to fly, unattractive jewelry, emo journaling. (Wait, I guess this blog is kind of my new emo journal, is it not? OH WELL. You can take the girl out of her walk-in closet filled with black candles and eighth grade best friend, but you can’t take the black candles and nag champa out of the girl–because that smell lingers.

This always ended in personal injury.

(no, seriously. I just ordered some black candles for my Samhain display. Also, white ones. No red, though. That would be tacky. {And they burn pink, not red.}) Also ordered: black gauze, a few candleabrum, skulls, pumpkins, Victorian-style potion bottles, and one stuffed wolf. I’m considering some nifty black light Christmas lights, but haven’t decided. If you’re wondering the look I’m going for…

Pretty much. Yeah.


I really love Halloween. It’s one holiday that really brings out the best in people. And by that, I mean, they pretend to be an entirely different person for a few hours. In many cases, a zombie is entirely preferable to that asshole in the History department who talks about the “good ol’ days” pre women’s suffrage. Please, please, eat some brains. 

As for my costume? I’m not sure, yet, and I’m a bit worried. I’m vacillating between the goddess Scáthach, and Bridget Bishop. I can get away with a lot warmer clothing as Bridget, and for those of you who may not know, Scáthach is the Celtic/Scottish goddess of slaughter, and Bridget Bishop was the first woman executed in Salem, Massachusetts for witchcraft. I love the idea of a badass bitch who trains warriors for battle even as she’s dropping a few kidlets of her own. Her name actually translates to “she who strikes fear.” Which is pretty damned incredible. And Bridget Bishop? Everyone knows her tale, and it’s tragic. However, it serves to remind us all that in the not-too-distant past, our country failed its most vulnerable. The Salem Witch Trials are often referred to in terms of why feminism was able to gain a foothold in the United States, and it remains a crucial point today.

She Who Strikes Fear vs She Who Was Victim of Fear.

Both badass.

If all else fails, I could go as Cersei Lannister or the Red Queen.



What I’m reading.

On kindle:
     Pucked by Helena Hunting I may DNF. I have an image that perfectly sums up this entire          book thus far. I actually IG’d it.

The Old Curiosity Shop Charles Dickens.

On Scribd.

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

On Audible.

Georgia on my Mind by Marie Force

Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (for the Captain…and me)

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Now? FOOOOOOOD. I’m on an umami kick. I’m obsessed with the “fifth flavor.” It’s a lot like The Fifth Element only decidedly fewer leather straps. Love, soy sauce, what’s the difference?! I don’t see one! I give you…. Umami Hummus. (cue angels singing.) It’s how I imagine hummus would taste if my favorite sushi bar started in on the dip train. BTW, they SHOULD. Now that I’m a vegan and all. They should read my mind. Umami Hummus


Umami Hummus by Cat Bowen Prep Time: 5 minutes Keywords: raw appetizer side snack vegan

Ingredients (1 large jar)

  • 1, 12 oz bag of frozen edamame, shelled, frozen–thawed.
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp prepared wasabi
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro


add all ingredients into a food processor and blend the hell out of it.

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Weighty Words: The Top 5 Fitness Books That Don’t Make You Want an Oreo.

When I re-branded my blog, I told myself I wouldn’t completely cut fitness out of the blog entirely, because it’s still a huge part of my life, and I love talking about it. However, it felt disingenuous to continue in the vein of “healthy fitness blogging” when I realized that a lot of the time … Read more…

Adoring Assigned Reading: Books You May Have Missed.

I woke up this morning with a total ladyboner for life. I mean, It’s NOT going to be 90+degrees fahrenheit, my kids’s fevers broke, I had JUSTENOUGH soy milk for my coffee, and I haves new audiobook to listen to. (written like a Boov, because I don’t fucking have to watch Home today, because I’m getting out of the fucking house and off the sofa like my ass is on fire.)

Frank gets my enthusiasm. My “spark.”

I will lift heavy things. I will drink iced coffee served to me by a stranger. I will smile at random passersby in the least creepy (possibly most creepy) manner, ever.

I was also excited because it is THIS DAY!!!!

adoring assigned readingYAYYAYAYA!!

In honor of the removal of my atrabilious mood, I’m doing one of my FAVORITES!!


OH, Wentworth. Wenty. My love. You are right on time for this blogger. Right.On.Time.

I sort of just want to write: READ AUSTEN. READ ALL OF IT. IT’S MORDANT SATIRE!! MAKING FUN OF THE 1% SINCE THE REGENCY ERA. I will not. At least again. Instead, I will tell you why you need to read…

I don’t even need to link it. Buy it anywhere. Get it from the library. Barnes and Noble. ANY BOOKSTORE EVER.

But, why, why should you read this juicy little gem of feminist awesome?

A: because, feminism.

B: Because Jane Austen wrote books nigh on 200 years ago, and she thumbed her nose at all of the things of which she was born into. She understood that the trappings of wealth and common practices surrounding the commodification of a woman’s maidenhood was an absurdity that should be skewered. She also understood that finding a connection with another person on a level beyond that of “he’ll keep me in satin dresses” is the key to actual happiness. That it is our personalities and inclinations which make us a match for someone else, not our pursestrings.

The love between Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Persuasion is the most beautiful “second chance” romance of its kind. Here he is, a seaman in the Queen’s navy, and she, a well-bred blue blood, yet they love each other fiercely. However, Anne is young–nineteen–and impressionable, and breaks off their relationship believing she needs to make a more advantageous match when she is advised to do so.

You can see where this is going.


Oh man.

square in the feels.

 It’s ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY A FIVE-STAR READ. Like, five-star first gear. no pages yet colored on or torn out. Brand new.

Whatever do I dare pair with this?!?!?!

It’s also regency(ish). But it’s MODERN! Just a few years old.

The Blurb:

First love is like the measles—a hot rash one is stronger for surviving. 
Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. It’s not a big problem, unless you are one.
Unfortunately, Sophy is.
Sick of her outcast role, she escapes her father’s house, only to fall from her horse during a spring storm. Injured, soaked, and shivering, she stumbles to a stranger’s door—Tom, a blunt edged merchant from a family of vulgar upstarts. Mistaking Sophy for the genuine article, he takes her in.
Sophy can’t resist twisting the truth. Soon she’s caught in her own snare—and it might just be a noose.

Why I loved it.

I really thought this book would just be an “ok” way to spend an afternoon. I was content to sit and read it much like one is content to watch a Full House marathon on TBS, or a t-ball tourney. That is to say–I was very “meh” about it.

Until I began reading.

All at once I was knocked sideways by the particular care taken to the dialogue, and the challenging nature of the prose. Who is this Jaima Fixen broad, and why have I never heard of her?!!? The book’s editing is flawless, the story composed delicately and precisely, and the romance is a steady, slow, growing burn. I liken it very much to Austen or Bronte, insomuch as it’s not “guy and girl or possibly two or more guys and a girl start banging it out halfway through the book, someone is an asshole, but don’t worry–they’ll get over it in time for a HEA.” It’s more “Let us slowly but confidently mark time and reason, building suspense and hope for a seemingly impossible couple to defy the odds and become a pair.”

In fact…GASP(!!!) No one bangs anyone in this book. It’s like a professional kitchen it is so clean. But it doesn’t suffer for a lack of sexual interludes. If anything, it makes the small gestures of affection between the two MCs even more fraught with tension and fragility, like Piastro Oliv strings for a violin, the sound or feel is bright and rich, full of precious things, but it’s so tenuous at first, difficult to play, until one masters their instrument.

The conclusion is all the more satisfying for the difficulty in reaching it.

Four Stars. (one star removed because I couldn’t easily place the time until it was spelled out.)

So, what would I make to go with these books?


So I made toasted pasta. Austen and the like are ALWAYS EATING TOAST. But seriously, you don’t need a recipe for that. But toasted pasta? It’s one of those easy, delicious, and unexpected things–much like Fairchild. 

I implore you to make this with whole wheat pasta. The flavors are nuttier and bolder than with white flour or semolina pasta, not to mention the protein and fiber content. The recipe calls for Earth Balance buttery spread, but you know by now from reading my blog, you could use traditional butter. A good improvement on this dish, albeit an expensive one is to use truffle butter. If you do so, eliminate the red pepper flakes. You can also add grated parm, bottarga, or even feta or goat cheese atop this delight.

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio E Oglio

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Keywords: appetizer entree side snack vegan vegetarian nut-free soy-free

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 1 tbsp butter or earth balance buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked red pepper
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • vegetable or chicken stock, depending on dryness of pasta between 2 and four cups.


in a DRY skillet on medium-high, break the DRY pasta in half and toast it until most are a rich, golden brown

reduce heat to medium

add the oil and garlic on medium heat until garlic is translucent.

toss pasta

add a cup of the stock and stir until stock is absorbed

add salt and another 1/2 cup of stock until that is absorbed

continue until pasta is al dente

finish with butter, pepper, and red pepper flake.


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Cultivating a Love of Reading in Kids. Top 5 Ways to Raise a Reader.

and The Unintentional Nerdification of Mine.

I want to put this out there: before I ever had children, I declared they would have interests separate from mine. They could choose or not choose their own fascinations and whimsy, hobbies and daily activities. I would boldly embrace whatever they chose to love, be it sports or crochet or animal husbandry–I was ready.

Yes, that pug will make a fine husband!

However, apparently environment and eagerness and the total geeking out of the parents has more influence than one might have expected when one was 23-24.

Apparently, osmosis is totally a thing. Unlike fetch, which is still not a thing.

My son, aka “The Captain,” is a 7 year old nerd. Completely and totally, and he came by it honestly. His favorite movie–right now, because it is ever in flux–is Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. He will enthusiastically reenact entire chunks of it for you.

You may be cool, but you’ll never be “Elf riding a gigantic buck through gold helmets” cool.

His favorite book is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He loves all things comic books. He hates most sports but loves running around pretending to be a warrior dwarf from Dragon Age. *and I mean RUN. Boy is like greased lightning and pure kinetic energy. Sitting still for long is not happening.

Still pissed I was willing to sacrifice you for Dragon treasure? Guess I deserved that.

Originally, we thought my daughter was going to be much more traditional. To a point, she is. She loves Barbie and princesses and probably wants a pony for her birthday. She’s also obsessed with Wonder Woman and Supergirl and Ironman and her favorite…

She’s also REALLY into steampunk, lately. She is into SP because I am an idiot and recently read to her Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story NOW she wants to be a steampunk iron butterfly princess for Halloween. DO I LOOK CRAFTY TO YOU?! No. No I do not. I can’t even operate a bedazzler and I was a dresser for a drag queen for years. I fail. Also, WTF is an iron butterfly princess? DOES IT TRAVEL BY AIRSHIP OR GEAR WINGS?!?! There are too many possibilities. 

In spite of the fact that I have unintentionally nerd herded the fuck out of my offspring. I am so proud of how much they both love the written word. My son has severe ADHD, so while he can read hours of comic books, he likes to “read” tons of audiobooks while, you know, acting them out–as you do. My daughter, however, can sit on my lap whilst I read to her, or listen to audiobooks for…well, until I’m really tired of doing every voice ever.

No one ever told me that having children would keep my vocal acting skills so fresh. BONUS!

I’ll admit, the voices do vivify the activity of reading, but the real joy is in the moment of togetherness.

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents

Harvard, Yale, Brown, Colgate, and Columbia Teacher’s College have all done studies about the importance of cultivating a love of reading early on in life. Children who read and are read to perform better in the classroom, on tests, and as far into the future as their professional careers. It’s essential to grow a love of reading in children, so that the joy continues when it’s not always fun. (Like when your English teacher assigns Ulysses because he hates you…and life…puppies…rainbows…happiness.)

How did I do it?

Top 5 Ways to Raise a Reader. (1)

  1. Access, Access, Access. 

    I get it. Hardcover books are $$$. Board books are $$$. I get that. But access to books is crucial. There are some GREAT resources for inexpensive or free books on the net and locally. is probably my favorite. You can buy books in groups for pennies. Local used bookshops are also a great, and fun resource. Strangely enough, stoop sales and yard sales have rewarded me with some of the best finds I’ve read, and by authors I’d never heard of. Never discount library sales!! The books are often equipped with library binding, and that is nothing to sneeze at. *Not to mention just taking stacks out on loan.* Scribd, a monthly service, and Kindle free time also have hundreds of thousands of children’s ebooks available.

  2. Model the behavior yourself. 

    It’s hard to raise a reader if you’re not a reader. I always tell people that if you think you aren’t a reader, that just means you haven’t found the right book. I will always be grateful to my family for not only getting me to the library and bookstore, but for being readers themselves. My MawMaw had a basket of books beside her sitting chair–always. The beach is a place I remember watching my family hang out under the umbrella reading until dusk. The Plain Dealer was delivered at 5am every day. Children of readers read.

  3. Talk to your children about their books. 

    This not only reinforces the lessons learned in the books, and their comprehension of them, it also serves to stir up excitement over their next read.

  4. Take them to the library. 

    This may seem obvious, but I’m not just talking about going to check books out. Most libraries have reading groups, activities surrounding literature, movies, etc. They’re a great resource.

  5. Create a routine. 

    Which, contrary to popular belief, does not have to be at bedtime. My kids will PESTER THE EVER LOVING EFF OUT OF ME if I agree to read before bed. One book becomes eleventy. We read right before lunch or just after school. It’s a nice way to kick back, relax, get some serious snuggling, and learn. I cannot overstate the snuggling. My seven year old is growing out of it, so I have to squeeze in all the snuggles I can.

Most importantly, don’t make it stressful or punitive. It’s not “if you don’t behave, you’ll turn off YouTube and READ!!” That’s never going to work. Reading needs to be a choice and a gift.

Now, what recipe could possibly go with this?

One my kids chose, of course.

Their favorite.

Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream


Vegan No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: freeze overnight

Keywords: vegan ice-cream


  • the cream from two cans of coconut cream with no additives
  • 3 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 4 tbsp instant espresso
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar


heat the milk and cream on medium a stove until just starting to simmer

whisk in espresso and sugar until dissolved

add salt and vanilla

pour into a 2 quart container and freeze overnight.

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