Magic STD Hands

I once had this really terrible therapist. He looked like a cross between Lavar Burton and Dora’s cousin, Diego. He also had a cat who was always perched on his desk, in the file box, unmoving. I honestly thought that thing was stuffed until I once saw it look up at me, find me lacking, and put its head back down. ANYWAY…He once told me to make a list of things that make me happy every morning to allay my dark periods. He actually used these words “you may find that it keeps them from returning at all!”

I know what works and what doesn’t for my inner turmoil. Time works. Solitude helps. Running and baking are good. Reading is awesome. I could Little Engine the hell out of my mood, and it would come to nothing.  I could be days dwelling in the craggy darkness of my mind’s interior, only to wake up de profundis, on the adret side, ready to conquer the day and go for a run. My reason for therapy is to work through the deeper issues that created the dark periods to begin with. *other than the chemicals in my brain that run amok. Therapy is like mederma, only in my brain.

I’m not one for mincing words. When the shrink told me he thought it could act as some sort of prophylactic barrier over my brain. I blurted “what the fuck?” He’d obviously been playing sudoku on the pad in front of him during our previous sessions. Maybe he was drawing funny faces. Grocery lists? His happy list? (I imagine his happy list includes playing sudoku and counting money.) 

At the same time, my brain is given toward inappropriately-timed vivid imaginings. As I was explaining to him that I’ve tried all manner of positive thought previously, including gratitude lists, my subconscious mind took over. He kept saying that my mind is like clay, and the thoughts are like hands, and I just need to give more strength to the positive hands.

Of course, in my brain, positive hands are electrically charged and also carriers of STDs. I don’t want electric gonorrhea hands molding my clay.

When I got home, the man asked me how my therapy went. I said “THAT QUACK WANTS TO MOLD ME WITH ELECTRIC STD FINGERS!!” The man just shook his head while saying “so, not a fit, then?” OBVIOUSLY.

While he was obviously not the therapist for me, and should (given his ailurophilia) perhaps think about a career in pet psychic/psychiatry. I think lists like these do have a place. Especially in goal-setting, and dream realization.

When I’m up, when my mind is filled with flowers and unicorns,(my unicorn’s name is Ollie, and he poops skittles.) and the worst of the beasts are caged, I find lists incredibly helpful. The *happy list* had an unexpected consequence. I realized that so much of the shit I do on a daily basis was absent. My list looked (somewhat–no order) like this:

  • hang with my bits
  • acting class
  • singing
  • reading
  • music-y stuff
  • running/swimming
  • increasing weights on barbells
  • cooking
  • writing
  • hanging with friends
  • learning
  • having a clean house
  • spending time with the man

After this, I realized that most of these require me to do so much other stuff to keep them afloat, but some crap? Some crap can GO! When I think of it that way, it’s a relief. Stuff I don’t need to do, or am obligated to, which doesn’t improve my or my family’s life? AU REVOIR!

Though, I’m pretty sure a judgmental cat-in-a-box would definitely be on my happy list. Think of all of the meme possibilities.

Until then, I cook.

Dill-icious Chickpea Salad

This salad is mostly about the chickpeas, and the dressing. The veggies are totally up to you. I’ve written down which I love, but let your mind go crazy. You could even add cubed feta, or shrimp, or diced tofu or grilled chicken! If you go with my recipe, I suggest letting it marinate for a few hours before you eat it. It REALLY punches up the flavor

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Dill-icious Chickpea Salad

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: (depends on ingredients)

Keywords: no bake appetizer salad entree side snack July 4th summer spring

Ingredients (giant bowl o’salad.)

  • 1 cup chickpeas (I prefer home-soaked and cooked, but canned, rinsed, and drained are also fine)
  • 1 cup each of chopped
  • pepper
  • red cabbage
  • green cabbage
  • cucumber
  • hearts of palm
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion

for the dressing

  • 1/2 cup chopped dill
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of one half of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

Instructions

stir together all veggies, lightly salt and set aside

whisk together dressing ingredients

pour over vegetables

stir

let marinate a few hours or overnight.

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Running on Empty.

There is always a moment of pure clarity between pain and relief. You know this as sure as you are reading this. It’s the moment wherein you’re sure that nothing else in the world exists beyond your own mind, your own body. It’s precious and fleeting, and brings with it revelation. All of humanity has felt it as you have, or none of humanity has felt it as you have, and it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the spark ignited from this place. You could come here by thoughts, by action, by nightmares awake or asleep.

But what do you do with that moment? How does one breed that spark into a series of fireworks? Can you multiply it as though they’re Chinese lanterns being set off into the night sky? Can you harness it as Tesla once did; as Edison made profit? I want to tuck it away somewhere inside the annals of my mind so that as I go about the banal quotidian tasks I’m forced to accomplish, I remember there is more.

Recently, I’ve had a lot on my plate. My scholarship is reaching a peak. I have multiple deadlines for journal articles needing to be finished. I have auditions and stresses with my kids. At the same time I learned that my great-aunt, the woman for whom my daughter is named, is afflicted with an inoperable cancer. For some reason, referring to it that way sounds less-threatening than simply calling it “dying.”

When I’m overwhelmed, I turn to the quiet solitude of reading and running, often at the same time. (audiobooks) Any runner will tell you about “the wall.” It’s a place most runners hate or avoid. When I’m too much in my own head, or feeling a bit more “fucking crazy” than usual, I seek the wall. I run hard and fast until I hit it. I go at it full bore. I throw myself into its imaginary brick-and-mortar barrier. I need the pain in my lungs and muscles. I need to heave with exertion. For me, this moment is ipecac to the miasma of negativity that surrounds my psyche. It brings me to that spark. It gives me a sort of perspicacity that I’m unable to obtain in any other manner.

Alas, it is so transient. The Japanese have a word for it we lack in English: “Aware:” “the bittersweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty.”

I just love that. It so perfectly captures what that moment feels like, and why it’s so bothersome that it is so intangible.

Lately, while running, I’ve taken to thinking about creative things. I’ve been ruminating on problems less, (my typical mental destination while running) and focusing more on newness and insight. While some things are no less bearable, others are becoming more fruitful. My scholarship is DONE for the semester. My latest WIP (a YA novel) is sitting pretty, ready to be edited at over 170K words. My daughter has a polka-dot pedicure. (BTW, trying fancy pedis on a 3 year old is not something I’d suggest. It’s like trying to catch a tiger by the tail and forcing them into a sweater.) I finally think I found my flame for my lantern.

Now for the food. It’s getting hotter, and I’m obviously running a crap ton. (or tonne, for my people across the pond.)

Paleo Mochanut Pops (Vegan) AKA paleo popsicles

Paleo Mochanut Pops

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Running on Empty.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 6 pops

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • the cream from one can of coconut milk (refrigerate can, remove separated cream from water)
  • 2 tbsp melted 100% chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar

Instructions

  1. whisk together hot coffee and other ingredients
  2. pour into six pop molds
  3. freeze
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Booze, Books, Battlestar Galactica.

Ok, or not.  Here’s the thing, I’ve once again been relegated to the damnable treadmill and elliptical because, reasons. MOTHER LORD ABOVE THOSE ARE BORING MACHINES. It’s as though they stare at you as you approach them. You can hear their chatter “woosh, woosh, I make your eleventh-grade chem teacher seem interesting.”

(mine was a beady-eyed man who had severe halitosis and looked like a bald “Beaker.” Meep.)

What do you do when you want to stab yourself in the face with an ice pick just to alleviate the boredom that’s swamping your limbs into a state of angsty ridicule?

Read. On the damn whatever machine. I tried watching Kathy Lee and Hoda, but I learned my lesson. You just never can be sure they’re not going to do a segment on pediatric cancer that sends you into heaving sobs. in public. That’s just embarrassing.

What else do you do? Imagine yourself a new bookclub wherein there are as many cocktails as there are books and points of discussion. I’ve already done the wine-meets-books-recs.  This one is “we’ve worked out. we’ve read. we’ve paid our dues for our calories. I like booze.” book club.  The title may need some work, but, you get it.

“we ran, we read, we *rummed.↓” That’s better.

To get started, I thought I’d compile a list of unconventional romances/love stories that will be even more fun to discuss after you drink the cocktail I’ve made.

*not to be confused with rimmed, which is a different club altogether.

Top Ten Unconventional Romances for your book club.jpg

Top Group, Clockwise.

Painted Faces by LH Cosway. This is CERTAINLY unconventional. –From the blurb…

Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she’s around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn’t know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.

–spoiler alert–the picture on the cover is of the hero, not the heroine. SOOOO GOOD.

The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Sarah Bruni From the blurb,

An offbeat love story about the adventures and mutual rescue of a young woman out of place in her hometown and a mysterious stranger who calls himself Peter Parker (and begins to cast her in the role of Spider-Man’s first sweetheart), The Night Gwen Stacy Died is about first loss, first love, and finding our real identities.

I Am Livia by  From the blurb,

“It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.

Unravel by  From the blurb,

Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine. One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward. Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind. Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help. A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past. And now…everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he’s real, and I know he needs me. Do you believe me?

Robicelli’s: A Love Story With Cupcakes By Allison and Matt Robicelli.

I’ve already reviewed this book multiple times and in multiple locations, but to review, see here.

Bottom Group.

The Rosie Project by  From the blurb,

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Edward Adrift (book 2 in a series.) by 

From the blurb:

It’s been a year of upheaval for Edward Stanton, a forty-two-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s lost his job. His trusted therapist has retired. His best friends have moved away. And even his nightly ritual of watching Dragnet reruns has been disrupted. All of this change has left Edward, who lives his life on a rigid schedule, completely flummoxed….Edward goes against his routine and decides to drive to a small town in Colorado where he once spent a summer with his father—bringing Kyle along as his road trip companion. The two argue about football and music along the way, and amid their misadventures, they meet an eccentric motel owner who just might be the love of Edward’s sheltered life—if only he can let her.

Bone Deep by  From the blurb,

In the fall of 1946, grieving war widow Sarah goes to the carnival with her friends and is riveted by the tattooed man in the freak show, sporting head to toe body art. Later she discovers him hiding in her hayloft, escaped from virtual imprisonment since childhood by the carnival’s evil owner. She shelters him on her farm, fighting a powerful sexual attraction while learning about his mysterious past and gentle nature. When a local child goes missing, Tom uses his psychic gifts to locate her, but his assistance in the case doesn’t allay the town’s mistrust of such an exotic stranger in their midst. Small-town prejudice tears the lovers apart and a very real threat from carnival owner Art Reed endangers them. Can they rise above obstacles of fear and hate to create the family both have always craved?

Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo by  and 

This is a very long blurb, but let me tell you that it’s a highly-unconventional book that you’ll fall into and will leave you thinking about it for years. It inspired much of my scholarship, and continually inspires others.

THE MOTHER LOVING FLOWERS IN THE MOTHER TRUCKING ATTIC. (poetic license used with title.) by VC Andrews.

If you didn’t hide this from your mom when you were twelve only to watch what is possibly the worst and best Lifetime movie ever made while drinking at age thirty? YOU’RE MISSING OUT. For real. Time for a re-read…AWAY FROM GRANDMA. (closer to your cousin?)

And to get your drink on?

Funfettini

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Funfettini

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: beverage

Ingredients (2 drinks)

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1.5 oz DiSaronno Amaretto liqueur
  • 1.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Creme
  • 1 oz vanilla coconut milk
  • sprinkles, maraschino cherries and simple syrup for garnish

Instructions

dip rim of 2 martini glasses in simple syrup and then in sprinkles

drop maraschino cherry into each glass

shake alcohols together with ice

strain into glass

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I F#cking DO Love Science

If there’s ever been a YouTube video to aptly describe me, it’s this one…

I.Love.Science. It LITERALLY makes the world go round. (magnetism, the study of the solar system, etc…that shit is all science.)

I want to download this song and replay it all day long. I know the F word is featured prominently in the lyrics, and I couldn’t possibly be forced to care.

Science literacy is of HUGE importance if we as a society wish to continue to thrive and compete with our past selves in a race to not only save the planet from certain disaster, but to improve our own daily lives.

I have heard a nigh infinite number of arguments as to why teaching biology or archeology or chemistry in a Liberal Arts college, to a humanities major is an epic waste of time and resources. Here is the answer I give: if we choose to only educate based solely on the topic of the student’s chosen field, we are minimizing their ability to reason and argue with any sort of accuracy. If a scientist only knows science and no literature, than they are without the the knowledge of the impact of their work in the daily lives of non-scientists and become largely out-of-touch. If historians learn only history, then they’re left as prey and unable to make wise choices when it comes to historiography and the need to amend which was written. If an English major isn’t taught how to reckon the differences between petroleum geologists that are skewing their data and graphs, and those who aren’t, then when they go to vote, buy a car, teach their children, they aren’t allowed all the facts.

Moreover, I realize that college isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is in a position where they require it, and some simply choose not to go. Thankfully, that’s not the only way to be educated. (Though I am all for a heavily-subsidized college education, thus making it more available to the masses.)

There are several documentaries and books and magazines and tv shows that provide an excellent basis of knowledge for anyone willing to watch/read.

This is from The Inexplicable Universe series by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Available on Netflix.

Can you imagine a better narrator for an Allosaurus than Hamlet himself, Kenneth Branaugh? No, I don’t think you can. Also available on Netflix. I will grant you that a documentary on dinosaurs is based on theory and hypothesis rather than hard fact, but the dating and comparisons made to current creatures make it a worthwhile endeavor.

A series I ADORE is “How Stuff Works.”  I honestly never thought I’d give a damn about how a vending machine works, or how corn plastic is made, but it’s freaking entertaining and educational. Guess where you can get it? Yup, Netflix.

I also think it’s important to be educated at the very youngest age about two things: One: nutrition is important and can change your life, and Two: sometimes your mom can lie to you with cookies. Sometime cookies can be big, fat, liars. Never trust the man.

Put these delicious and NUTRITIOUS cookies in your face-hole (the biggest one).

Beet and Carrot Breakfast Cookies

beet and carrot breakfast cookies beet and carrot breakfast cookies beet and carrot breakfast cookies

beet and carrot breakfast cookies (Gluten Free)

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 13 minutes

Keywords: bake bread breakfast dessert side snack dairy-free gluten-free soy-free

Ingredients (2 dozen cookies)

  • one large carrot or heaping cup of carrot chips
  • one medium beet, about 2″-2″
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup salted almonds
  • 1 1/2 cup oats

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpats

in a food processor, grind nuts to a fine grind

grind oats into a flour

grate beets and carrot into a medium grate

stir all dry ingredients together

mix together all wet ingredients

mix together and heap one inch apart in one tbsp scoops, flattened a bit on top.

bake for 13 minutes or until set and beginning to brown.

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While Netflix has compensated me for these posts, The opinions are my own.

Head+Wall

As I sit here now, I have just completed a book that I am certain, if it has not made me dumber for reading it, it has at least wasted several hours of my life for which I have no hope of recovering. It was one of those books that has so many 5-star ratings on goodreads you begin to wonder if perhaps the whole of those reviewers were not living on some island affected by brain-altering gases and poor mating rituals.

It seems a valid hypothesis upon finishing that epic piece of monster shit. The protagonist was a misogynistic cock-goblin, and the woman was the sort who thinks it’s ok to get physical with men simply because they won’t return it, and also claiming to be strong and independent, while really being a lily-livered shit. Here’s what I wrote on my Goodreads page. (FOLLOW me!)

Tangled (Tangled, #1)Tangled by Emma Chase

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I lost more iq points by reading this than I would have by huffing paint and watching the Fox News Morning program.

The protagonist is a male-chauvinist, bitgoted, shit goblin who thinks it’s ok to fat shame, (by referring to Martha Stewart as “pudgy”) insult movies by calling them “gay,” calling Hillary Clinton “masculine,” and by treating the women around him like shit.

He calls his sister “the bitch.” He states, very early on in the book, if women want to be respected, they’d act in a respectable way. Because, clearly, it’s completely ok for him to screw everything with two legs and a vag, but the women who are having sex with him, are clearly not respectable.

How is it a WOMAN is writing a book FOR WOMEN (ostensibly) that casts this giant ball of douche fuck as the man we’re supposed to fall for? If Jordan from “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Don Draper from “Mad Men” had an orgy with Bella Swan from “Twilight,” and somehow managed to meld their seed into one flurry of mansplaining chromosomes, Drew from Tangled would be that evolutionary mistake.

The love interest? She’s really no better. She often resorts to hitting and throwing things (drinks, slaps) knowing full well that retaliation in kind will not come. She is petty, and while I no doubt believe the author thought she was writing the character of a strong woman, her actions and quick relenting to Captain Dick make her appear shallow and witless.

This book has enough 5-star reviews to make it appear as though it’s the next To Kill a Mockingbird when in reality it is closer to reading the print bastard of The Bachelor and Real Housewives.

If you loved this, do yourself a favor and read some Gloria Steinem or The Audre Lorde Compendium: Essays, Speeches, And Journals It will help.

Women are worth more than what men think of them, and they’re smart enough to walk away without throwing their drink.

View all my reviews

I don’t relish writing bad reviews. In fact, most times, I hate it. The author goes through so much work, trials, struggles, just to get a book to print that I don’t want to disturb that at all. I don’t want to make it less for them. But sometimes, a book hits off all of my negative buttons in such a way as that I cannot stay silent, or simply offer constructive criticism on the pacing or character development. This was one of those occasions. Sometimes, there is a certain joy in reading something campy or terrible. Amy and I oft have a great chuckle over these debacles of literature. It’s good fun! But this book made me want to scream, fight for income inequality, and protest Hollywood double-standards.

I just want women to respect themselves enough to know they are deserving of respect no matter how many people they sleep with or what they do for a living, or whether or not they’re a size 6 or size 26. Books like these don’t perpetuate that belief.

OOOOOsh. Now that’s off my chest, how about an easy, healthy, delicious snack that will knock your socks off?

Chili-Garlic Pineapple

I know, I know, it sounds SO WEIRD! But if you’ve ever had pineapple pizza, or Chinese Pineapple Chicken or those mangoes in Latin grocery stores with chili and lime? You know it’s already a winning combo. I’m simply amping up the flavor by oven-drying these bad boys. It brings out the natural sugars and makes the chili-garlic POP. These addictive little slices are made with crushed Szechwan peppercorns, but you can substitute either pink or black pepper as well. The Szechwan peppercorns have a bit of a different sort of capsaicin in them that has a tongue-tingling effect that I find most pleasing. It’s also great to use when dusting your fish or pork to fry. Incidentally, Whole Foods sells a Szechwan blend in their spice section that would work as well (almost) as the blend I make.

This spice mix IS NOT JUST for pineapple. Use it on every.freaking.thing. Eggs in the morning? CHECK. Steak? CHECK. Mix this shit with butter and spread it on bread the way teens spread Mono? CHECK.  It’s life-changing.

chili-garlic pineapple chili-garlic pineapple chili-garlic pineapple chili-garlic pineapple

Chili-Garlic Pineapple

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: +/- 2 hours

Keywords: bake appetizer breakfast dessert salad side snack dairy-free gluten-free kosher nut-free paleo soy-free vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (one large pineapple or more)

    for the spice mix

    • 1 tbsp toasted and crushed (pestle and mortar) Szechwan Peppercorn (available online or in specialty stores. Otherwise Pink or Black peppercorns are alright.)
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tbsp grated and air-dried lime zest (grate night before and leave out overnight on a paper towel)

    for the pineapple

    • One large pineapple
    • juice of one lime or half of a lemon
    • drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil

    Instructions

    preheat oven to 200F

    slice the peeled pineapple as thin as you can slice it

    core the slices

    toss in a bowl with olive oil and citrus juice

    arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment

    sprinkle with seasoning mix

    bake for 2 hours or until browning and chewy. This could take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours depending on how thick you slice them, so keep a keen eye on the oven. Also, if they get a bit brown, they still taste great.

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