Type A (Positive) Personality.

One word: Venice.

It even sounds romantic. Italy in general holds a nigh universal appeal as the most romantic country on the planet. Ok, mostly. The piazzas, the slickly fashioned men with swooning women. Gelato. Pasta. Tiramisu. Wine. Risotto. Pizza. Truffles. Grappa. Blood.

wait, blood?


Um, Yes.

Ok, not like the bloodied hands of Brutus, or the the chill in the blood of a visitor to an ossuary in Milan, not even all the scenes in Italy in The Godfather. 

The drinking kind!!


Yeah!! Italy is OLD AS OLD GETS!! There’re bound to be many

interesting characters.

THANK G-D, AMIRITE? I am a very pale, introvert bookworm. I can only take so much daylight. I also have more ADHD than an entire elementary school, so I have energetic needs. 

And while I’m normally more of a fan of shifters, the exception to the rule exists a few places, most especially, in anything Elizabeth Hunter writes. AND I AM IN LOVE WITH TENZIN. She has freaking permafangs that don’t retract. She’s ittybitty and can kill an army of dudes. She flies. She is ruled by no one. She’s awkward and intrusive and full of piss and vinegar. Ok, not piss, she’s a vampire. Blood and vinegar. Salt and vinegar blood. She’ll make a new crisp flavor!

Which is why I’m so excited that today is the release day for this beauty:

I am singing the Benzin song I made up. It’s a great song. It is to the tune of “X-Gon Give it to Ya.” It fits. Just sub Tenz and Benz every other line for “X.”

The blurb:

All Ben Vecchio wanted was a quiet summer before his last semester of university. Was that too much to ask?

All Tenzin wanted was a cache of priceless medieval coins that had been missing for several hundred years.

And some company.

Phrases like “never again” don’t mean much when you’ve been a vampire for several thousand years. And promises made in the heat of anger don’t outweigh the lure of gold. Ben Vecchio thought he knew everything there was to know about the immortals of Italy. But when Tenzin tempts him into another adventure finding a cache of rare gold coins missing since the nineteenth century, he’ll discover that familiar places can hold the most delicious secrets. And possibly, the key to his future.

happy dance. Benzin song. Salt and Vinegar blood! or not that last one. I’m a vegan. It’s also almost Lent, so, Fridays are out for Carwyn. What does a Catholic vampire eat during Lent? TOO MANY QUESTIONS, BACK TO BENZIN.

A good, heathen vampire. Because I like my vampires like I like my moonshine–entirely lawless and probably poison.

Once again, Ms Hunter’s ability to spin worlds from the closely packed microfilaments of her abundant imagination stupefies the senses and tickles the tender parts of the reader’s intelligence. Elizabeth Hunter’s world-building is so uncommonly spectacular, it’s apparent she’s become a standard to which other writers must reckon by. She continually outdoes her previous installments, and Imitation and Alchemy maintains and expands on that trend. It’s not a romance, per se, but everything about it is romantic. The setting, the people, the nigh folkloric atmosphere of the prose and intelligence of characters is reminiscent of the great Gothic romances of the past. Only entirely more badass. With 100% more Monty Python references.

I love watching Ben and Tenzin’s comlex relationship construct itself into something more. It’s challenging to all of my expectations of what a possible *or not* HEA might look like for them, and it whets my appetite for the next installment like that first beer at the pub. I love how Tenzin manages to pull Ben into the most insane schemes. I love how Ben doesn’t take a bit of her shit without giving it back. He’s not scared of her, even if he should be. They’re like this:

Ok, bad example. Let’s try again:

Imitation and Alchemy is an astonishing fantasy-filled adventure topped to the brim with intelligence, suspense, and delicious, yet morally questionable decisions.

Five stars.

Imitation and Alchemy by Elizabeth Hunter review.

Amazon • Kobo

For the recipe?

It’s Venice (sometimes) bitch. Gotta be Risi e Bisi. Only better. Cauliflower Risi e Bisi. Not so risi, then. SCREW YOUR EXPECTATIONS! It’s a Venetian dish typically made with rice and peas. Mine uses riced cauliflower for a new flavor exploration and fewer carbs. It’s so good.

delicious cauliflower risi e bisi



Cauliflower Risi e Bisi

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: saute gluten-free low-carb paleo vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower, chopped into a fine dice.
  • 1 leek, topped, tailed, and chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 1 tbsp butter or earth balance spread
  • 1 cup cubed and cooked pancetta or 1 cup chopped and sauteed porcini mushrooms (saute in a bit of oil without salt on HIGH until browned) (about a large fist full, my UK friends. Or a cuppa.)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste



heat fats on stove on medium high

stir in leeks and cauliflower

cook 5 minutes

lower heat to medium low and add garlic


slowly add stock, a little bit at a time until absorbed

stir in mushrooms or pancetta

salt and pepper to taste

stir in peas and remove from heat.

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Penny for Your Plots

Let me just apologize. This post should’ve been released last week, but my blog was down for the count with an attack on my server.

Have you ever felt like this after an experience?

Have you ever felt as though what you were expecting was so far from what you received that you’re now unclear as to what color the sky is, what day it is, possibly your age, gender, and occupation?

In a word? Gobsmacked.

That’s what Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid did to me. Sure, I knew it would be different. It’s a romance novel wherein the MCs are already married. That right there shakes things up a bit.

I didn’t expect the Vitamix/San Andreas Fault/Jurassic Park promo of plotlines.

Because moms are superheroes, duh.

The blurb:

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true.

Except… not.

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

What I thought:

This book is titled Happily Ever Ninja for a reason. It’s fucking sneaky, and I can’t get over how much I loved it.

It’s a romance that analyzes the ever after. What happens when the couple is established, and the day to day isn’t about wooing and winning, but about wooing and keeping? Should it still be about wooing? Is the woo even relevant? Can I use the verb woo one more time just to make it extra awkward for all reading this post? woo.

I read it in a sitting. One. I sat down, opened it, and didn’t do anything but refill my tea, get some snappea crisps, and let the tea continue its life cycle in and out of my body, and then finished the book. I closed it and felt alive. I felt vindicated. I wanted to tell everyone about this book. Married, unmarried, single, straight, gay, bi, a, demi, narcisexual. Everyone.

Happily Ever Ninja embraces the quotidian modalities of the modern family with such aplomb that it borders on the poetic. Greg and Fiona have been the face of marriage for the Knitting in the City series since book one, and when we finally get to see behind the bedroom doors, we’re surprised and intrigued. The pair have an amazing chemistry and dynamic, but they also have the same issues every married couple has. There’s a harmony in the discord that I’ve never previously encountered in my reading. Their roles have been so well-defined throughout their relationship, that when problems surface, they’re so entrenched in the capillaries of their marriage, that it’s difficult for Greg and Fiona to see that it’s slowly cutting off circulation to the limbs.

It also makes the decision to rectify the issues feel as much like a release of pressure and new life given to things past, that it makes the relief as fluid as the formation.

It’s truly a satisfying plot.

Happily Ever Ninja

But, it’s also funny as hell.

Greg and Fiona were funny characters before this installment, (knitting needle, anyone?) but in this book, their dry wit is given full operation in this book. A few of the phrases have made it into my daily conversation, but my favorite is “that sounds like something Hitler would say.” Because it works for so much. Especially at random places, like the ice cream shop or on social media. “Oh, I never get hot fudge”–“That sounds like something Hitler would say.” Or “I went to a casserole party and I had salad.”–“That sounds like something Hitler would say.” SEE? IT WORKS. I’m just waiting for someone to tell me they prefer 4 to 6 nipple clamps at a time, or something. Perfection. Or “I prefer to dress like a baby and be spoonfed canned peaches.” Unfortunately, most baby fetishists are underground about their proclivities, and I don’t think that will come up in conversation without alcohol or LSD–possibly wisdom teeth surgery.

Five huge stars. Not for Hitler.

Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Kobo

The recipe inspired by the book:

In the novel, one of the frustrating things many women deal with, Fiona deals with: messy husband antics. In one case, it’s muffins. Trust me, read it.  Also, Greg works on oil rigs. And ninjas are traditionally Japanese.


Ginger-Match Olive Oil Muffins

delicious and easy Ginger-Matcha olive oil muffins

Ginger-Matcha Olive Oil Muffins

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer bread breakfast snack dessert

Ingredients (20 muffins)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs or 6 tbsp aquafabas (beat aquafabas to medium peaks)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup boiling water with 1 tbsp matcha powder whisked in, or 2 matcha teabags brewed into it.
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, measured and then chopped finely
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 muffin liners


  • powdered sugar


preheat oven to 350F

fill a muffin tin with liners

beat together syrup, sugar, and oil until frothy

add in eggs

slowly pour in tea

sift in flour and stir slowly

stir in salt, baking soda, and baking powder

fold in ginger.

pour evenly into twenty muffins, about 2/3 full

bake 20 minutes or until puffed and a skewer inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

let cool completely

dust with powdered sugar

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Best Literary Quotes to Inspire You.


ICYMI, my blog has been down for DAYS. I tried not to get overly angry, but man was I ever pissed off.

Monday: Me looking at my blog: “are you taking the piss?! Seriously, ARE YOU TAKING THE PISS?!?!



I’m now logged in and blogging. My BP is approaching safe levels, and I can breathe. Not easily, but oxygen is flowing in the proper channels.

Now I can blog what I intended to blog for MONDAY, on a WEDNESDAY EVENING. (breathe in, breathe out..)

I’ve collected some of my favorite literary quotes to share. Some people don’t love quotes. I find them to be comforting quilt squares which I can stitch together to form the tapestry of all I’ve read. It’s impossible to remember all of the text in any given tome, but a snippet, a shining bit of prose that skitters off the page and into the depths of my mind, reifying itself indelibly into my conscious nature? Yes, by all means, let me keep my quotes.

Five Literary Quotes to Inspire You

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

Who in the world am I- Ah, that's the great puzzle.

Even if your heart is broken and attacking you, you're still not better off without it.



It will never rain roses- when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.



My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been  (2)

And now for the recipe!!

I’ve been on the whole-health kick lately, and with that, I’ve been changing my drinking and eating habits. Going dry more often, making sure I exercise more, and being conscious of what I put in my body and how it affects my life.

The internet is ABUZZ with golden milk. It’s purported properties, benefits, mood-altering abilities, etc. This was one case of holistic “wuwujuju” medicine I didn’t immediately balk at. Mostly because the chief ingredient in the Golden Milk is turmeric, and many studies have proven its benefits, and because when I was trying to get pregnant, the Chinese apothecary/TCM doctor (an MD PhD) made me turmeric tea. That tea tasted like tree bark and dog droppings, but I did get knocked up, and I felt healthy during the process. (If not a bit stiff and sleep deprived. Side note: it is unfair that we end up becoming sleep deprived while in the process of trying to become sleep deprived.)

This golden milk recipe is delicious. It tastes of ginger and spices instead of tree bark and dog droppings. A HUGE step up!

delicious golden milk delicious golden milk delicious golden milk


Golden Milk

Yield: 2 servings


  • 500 ml (about 2 cups) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 aniseed pod (omit if you hate anise.)
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • few flakes red pepper flake


  1. heat milk in a saucepan on medium until simmering
  2. stir in honey and turmeric, cook 2 minutes
  3. add remaining ingredients, turn to low, cook 8 minutes
  4. strain, pour, serve.

It’s Wafer Thin…

This post will mainly focus on the “Eater” half of “Reader/Eater,” but I wanted to quickly address what it is that I’m reading right now as well.


After You by JoJo Moyes. –harder than I thought to get into. I’m so stuck in the previous installment, I’m in a weird headspace about it.

Charles Dickens: A Biography by Claire Tomalin–it’s amazing. She’s a wonderful biographer.


Trueheart by Mel Sterling–for the second time in as many weeks. I simply adore it, and want to have all of my ideas fully-formed for my review.

The Past by Tessa Hadley The story is quite engaging and sharply written. The prose is sparse but lovely.


rereading Bound by Lorelei James–I NEVER thought I’d pick this book up again, but found myself missing the characters. (maybe not the prostate massage.)

The Dirt on the Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones–to be honest, haven’t started. The last installment was so AHHHH, that I haven’t pulled the trigger.


Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips–it’s from 1997, and the “cassette” portions haven’t been edited out. It’s hilarious. (the cassette parts)

NOW! the rest of the story.

I’ve discussed my mental health quite a bit on the blog, and my physical health also, but I’ve rarely discussed my digestive health. This is mostly because I simply don’t want to discuss it. Scatalogical discussions don’t really thrill me. Though, my issues aren’t as, say, graphic as some.

I have a twisted intestine.If it sounds super-painful, that’s because it is. Because of this, I have pretty severe issues with air becoming trapped in pockets of my intestine and in my stomach, causing OMGSOMUCHBLOATING and pain.

This is exactly how I sometimes look after eating.

Anyways, for the past year+, I’ve been taking a STRONG proton pump inhibitor to relieve this issue. It works like a mother effing charm. However, it’s also contraindicated for another medicine I need more, and PPIs have recently been linked to chronic kidney disease. With my anemia, and my ADHD/MDD/GAD, I do NOT need another diagnosis, unless that diagnosis is “too awesome for words.” You know? So, I’ve had to ditch the PPI. That might not sound like a big deal, but when the pain of the bloating is so bad, and so constant, that you break out in chills and nearly throw up every twenty minutes, it’s a BIG FUCKING DEAL.

Chronic bloating is a fuckwit with a microphone. Not unlike this next guy…

see what I mean? He gives everyone a stomachache.

Coming off the PPI meant a LOT of research into anti-bloating diets. I found myself in the unlikely place of reading a Dr Weill article. You see, I’d previously put that doc in the same category as Dr Oz and Trump. Mouthpieces for their agenda. However, I just KEPT seeing research with his name on it. Like, real research. Researchy research.

So I read, and read, and read some more. I found peer-reviewed articles, anecdotal testimonies, and researched old wives’ tales. There is actually quite a lot of research on small intestinal microbacterial overgrowth and the like! FASCINATING! SCIENCE!

So I had one thing left to do.

well, science the air out of it, but it’s all relative.

I am NOT a nutritional scientist, so do your own damn research and due diligence as well, but I can tell you what’s been helping me, and where I’ve fallen short.

*probiotics. There’s so much research on this. I like the one they sell at Costco because I can buy it with my bulk soy milk and bananas.

*licorice and peppermint tea. If nothing else, it tastes great. Yogi sells a great one. Plus, you get those little yogi tea bits of trite wisdom!

*no straws. ever. seriously. They are like a bad bottle to a baby. My family draws the line at burping me. I think my husband would be amenable to spanking, but…Honestly, though. If you want a williwaw in your gut, by all means…

*live food. No, I don’t mean go bite a cow. I mean food that’s alive. Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, fermented veggies, yogurt, kombucha, ACV. Live food.

*drink a fuckton of mineralized water. I am referring to water with mint or ginger and other soothing things added. I use mint, ginger, lemon and lime. Keep a pitcher handy.

*eliminate regular dairy and meat. I KNOW I’M A SPECIAL SORT OF BITCH FOR EVEN SAYING THIS, but, it takes a truly long time to digest, and that’s bad news bears. Fatty fish is easier on the tumbly.

*drink celery and cucumber juice. WEIRD, right? But the literature is there, and it’s downright lovely when you make a blend.

*squats. lots of squats. deep ones.

Where I’m sucking, but I hear is really helpful.

*eat slowly

*no booze

*no sugar

*processed grains

presoak your beans

even more squats.

I could write sonnets about how much I love Richard Simmons.

Now, because I love you, I’m sharing the PERFECT JUICE RECIPE. I’ve been into juicing since Christmas. My daughter asked Santa for a juicer, and I don’t know how I lived without one.

My Beat the Bloat Juice

Beat the Bloat Juice

Beat the Bloat Juice


  • 1/4 small pineapple, chopped
  • 1 pink lady apple
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 inch ginger


  2. stir.
  3. drink WITHOUT a straw

Get Series(ous). #15

Before I get into it, can we just chat a moment about last night’s Golden Globes?

Creative People should not be allowed alcohol before they’re supposed to do something which requires forethought to what they say.

As a creative person, I will tell you, once I’ve had a few drinks, “fuck” becomes the chief word in my vocabulary. I mean, it’s high up there to begin with, but it REALLY comes out when I’ve had some cognac.

Moving on!


Holy hell.

Ok. This series, you guys.


This book is a YA, yes. However, it’s ridiculously intelligent. The history, the science, the well-researched intrigue. If you’re a fan of Erik Larson, Paula Uruburu, Hillary Mantel, Diana Gabaldon, Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, or Elizabeth Hunter, this series is for you.

It has all the politicking and intrigue of court society, but with a youthful, modern edge that will delight readers across age and genre lines. It’s a little like being held captive by an amazing storyteller, only to reason later that the bonds were untied the whole time, and you simply wanted to be there. It’s absolutely that compelling.

So, what's the series- (2)

The Immortal Descendants series by April White.

The Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old tagger Saira Elian can handle anything… a mother who mysteriously disappears, a stranger who stalks her around London, and even the noble English Grandmother who kicked Saira and her mother out of the family. But when an old graffiti tag in a tube station transports Saira to the 19th Century and she comes face-to-face with Jack the Ripper, she realizes she needs help after all.

Saira meets Archer, a charming student who helps her blend in as much as a tall, modern American teen can in Victorian England. He reveals the existence of the Immortals: Time, Nature, Fate, War and Death, and explains to Saira that it is possible to move between
centuries – if you are a Descendant of Time.

Saira finds unexpected friendships at a boarding school for Immortal Descendants and a complicated love with a young man from the past. But time is running out for her mother, and Saira must embrace her new identity as she hides from Archer a devastating secret about his future that may cost him his life.

It is so much more than this blurb. gah.




And a little this:

It’s not as cheery as most borderline romance adventure books. It’s not really dark, either. It exists somewhere in the ether above the sentiments of lamentation and determination.

Why do I love this series-

April White’s Immortal Descendants Series reads like an eloquent waltz across the topography of space, time, humanity, and the wilds of emotion. It completely encompasses that idea of “show, don’t tell” that makes novels something more than mere words strung across papyrus. Saira is the modern heroine readers crave. She’s forward-thinking without alienating anyone who isn’t in need of alienation. She’s blunt, sharp, responsive, and completely age-appropriate. She’s seventeen, and the reader knows that. She’s bright and intelligent, yes, but she’s also seventeen. That hindbrain, the one that tells adults “hey, BAD IDEA!!” Isn’t fully formed, and it shows, which is completely appropriate. There’s a reason so many of history’s heroes are so young. Too young to be terrified.

This series is an absolute joy to read, and burning through them in a weekend is a perfectly respectable way to spend a winter weekend.

Immortal Descendants

And now,

Recipe, Please!

I tweeted April White to ask what she prefers, and she mentioned salad. I love a good salad, but I ADORE a good dressing. In honor of the herbivore shifters in the series, (hold me closer, gazelle dancer!!) BUDDHA BOWL with AMAZING Miso-Mustard Dressing.

Buddha Bowl with Miso-Mustard Dressing

buddha bowl with miso mustard dressing

buddha bowl with miso mustard dressing buddha bowl with miso mustard dressing


Buddha Bowl with Miso Mustard Dressing

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: appetizer salad condiment vegan


  • Ideas for toppings:
  • grilled tofu and vegetables
  • black beans
  • roasted beets
  • black rice
  • tortilla chips
  • romaine lettuce
  • chopped bell pepper


  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tsp liquid aminos
  • 2 tbsp live apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chinese mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • juice of one lime


blend together ingredients of dressing and pour over salad.

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