You Say You Want a Resolution…

You know that The Beatles are streaming now, right? I should make you a Spotify playlist. My faves. Some of them. I remember seeing The White Album, Sgt Pepper, and Yellow Submarine LPs, thinking “these are so cool!!!” I mean, they had LINER NOTES.

 

There you go. Hit play and continue reading.

Ok, so it’s the last few days of 2015, and I have about 6 posts to pub before that happens. I’m pumped. This one? Well, I’m a fan of resolutions. I am a fan of change, improvement, goals, and gin. They can go so well together. This year? I have a LOT of resolutions. YEP. I do. I like the goals. They make me feel fuzzy and warm.

  • finish my work on Dickens (at some point before May)
  • kick ass on the audiobook that I’m recording for my colleague, and avoid strep in January! (I seem to get it every freaking January, and that would interrupt recording.
  • Get my grant proposals written.
  • get the first of my lit tattoos. I’m thinking Vonnegut or Butler.
  • juice more
  • drink more water. (this one is every year. I fail every year.)
  • get my ass back in the box…the Crossfit box, that is.
  • get more houseplants.
  • stick to my planner. really.
  • meditate more
  • take the kids to Niagara Falls
  • go to at least one professional convention–without needing a stiff drink or an Ativan. (why does there need to be SO MANY PEOPLE?!) Even at MLA, where everyone is JUST AS SOCIALLY AWKWARD, I feel like OMG WHY THE PEOPLE!?!? There is also a ton of drinking at MLA. Obviously.

In order to SUPPORT your resolutions, not BASH them, because I hate resolution bashers, I’m making you a helpful Netflix guide! Aren’t I just a peach?!

You Say YOu

Make your resolutions STICK!!

SO YOU WANT TO ADOPT A PET!?!

It’s all about NY’s North Shore Animal League.  It will make you immediately choose to rescue an animal…or ten. Become that crazy cat lady you’ve always aspired to be!

SO YOU WANT TO TRAVEL TO PARTS UNKNOWN TO YOU!?

Yes, it’s another “white guys traveling,” show. I thought I’d hate it for that reason. Instead, I kinda maybe started making these guys characters in my mind and fashioned a novel inspired by them. It may be my NANOWRIMO of December, so DECNOWRIMO? Yes, that. I can’t help that I like them. I just can’t. You won’t be able to, either. They’re remarkably non-douchey or bro-y. My characters are taller, though. Sorry, guys.

SO YOU WANT TO DO GOOD WORK?? BE INSPIRED??

 

A man in S Korea provides a safe place for abandoned babies. BOOM! RIGHT IN THE FEEL BOX.

YOU WANT TO GET HEALTHY?!?! Um, who doesn’t?

This movie examines the why of illness. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s fascinating.

YOU WANT TO STICK IT TO THE PATRIARCHY?!

DAMN STRAIGHT!

Start here. Get educated.

OH, and this one.

YOU WANT TO MIX A BETTER DRINK.

Rye, bitters, gin, gin, gin.

YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A SECOND CAREER?!?!

YOU WANT TO TAP YOUR INNER BADASS??

Learn how to give zero effs from the original bestower of least effs ever.

YOU WANT TO TALK IT OUT. MAYBE FOR A CROWD.

 

These are ALL available on Netflix. I’ve watched all of them. Most, while on the dreadmill, because, rain. It’s my favorite Netflix place.

So, about getting healthy?

click the pic.

 

Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

Top Ten Books of 2015

top ten books of 2015

I was going to do a gift guide, but really, if you read my blog, you probably want to buy all the books for yourself and eat all the fucking cookies, alone, while reading book blogs, books, in your fuzzy slippers, sipping your gin, silently judging those who say “I don’t like reading.” (or loudly, but because you’re home, and they’re somewhere where people who don’t like to read are, {the GOP convention, obvs.}) So, instead…my top (insert arbitrary number here) books of 2015, and almond cookies, because I love you. Really. Check twitter. I’m just drunkenly sober enough to tweet out “I LOVE YOU!!!!” Although, if its deleted before you read it, I got soberer.

Also, this is not some fancy “PEN list” or some other gathering. This is from what I read, and I don’t always read those “must reads.” Sure, a few may end up on other lists, but mother of hell, I do what I want. :)

I’m not judging YOUR life. I’m judging the non-readers, remember? (Unless reading makes you nauseated, or you have dyslexia and it gives you headaches, in which case, check my auralgasms page for some AUDIObook recs. They’re a thing.) Also, if you’re reading this, you’re sexy. Just sayin.

This book floored me. Absolutely floored me. It’s like if Code Name: Verity and Harry Potter had a super intelligent Chinese baby NOT named “Cho Chang.” Yes, it’s middle grade/YA, but holy fucking hell, read it.

Ok, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider just adding Elizabeth Hunter’s “2015 releases” to my list. Two problems–no picture, and that would be creepy. Like, hiding in Elizabeth Hunters bushes, creepy. Not quite hiding in her bush creepy, but I am infectious. Also inappropriate and weird. You’re welcome. This book also features a story by Grace Draven, and the combo will leave you reeling. I seriously stepped back in a cold sweat from Ms Draven’s story. HOW DID SHE THINK THIS SHIT UP?!? “Gaslight Hades” is unlike anything you’ve read this year. And holy wow, Josephine…just, Josephine. My soul sister.

*don’t judge insomniac dramatic readers, we’re just DIFFERENT.

The HAPA, genderfluid ghostbuster with the heart of gold is the protagonist of this tale. The writing is quick and precise, the narrative dreamy and well-constructed. I have no idea how this isn’t on a longlist of some nature, because it should be. I loved it so freaking hard.

Read this today. If you don’t, you’ve failed at 2015. You lose the future. Check your fucking privilege at the door, and read. I know that there is no way I can truly understand the minority position. But, I can learn to empathize.

Five words: well, that was suitably terrifying. Five more, now I’ll read it again.

Oh, you’ve never read Sarah Vowell before? Well that’s a damn shame.

I’m feeling feelings about it. Big feelings.

Sexy Gandalf. Sexy twins. A life with love doesn’t mean a stationary life. Penny Reid’s gift for goof and gab, as well as fucking smart AF prose and wild, wiley romance is PERFECT in this.

 Yes, it’s another romance, but OMG READ THIS ROMANCE. MY WHOLE HEART IS OPEN. MY COAL-BLACK SOUL IS HAPPY. DO YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO ILLUMINATE A COAL-BLACK SOUL?!?!

I’m still trying to recover from this book. Yes, it’s an ontological narrative, which is often a hard pill for American audiences to swallow, but it’s amazing. This may not be the narrative you want, but it’s definitely the one you need.

The Peanut and I devoured each page with a hunger bordering on obsessive. It’s beautiful, it’s enchanting. GO now. get it.

Also, do yourself a favor and get these at your local shop.

Okay, so I guess this is the Top Ten Books of 2015. NOT such an arbitrary number. Don’t say I’m completely non-traditional.

And now? The Recipe.

Almond Cookies, because they’re delicious.

easy almond cookies easy almond cookies easy almond cookies

Easy Almond Cookies

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert vegan vegetarian cookie

Ingredients (2 dozen cookies)

  • 1/3 cup almond paste warmed to a little warmer than body temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter or vegan alternative
  • 2 eggs or 6 tbsp aquafabas
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

whip together butter, paste, and sugar

add in remaining wet ingredients

whip for 1 minute

stir in almond meal

sift in flour

refrigerate for 10 minutes

scoop into 2 tbsp scoops 2″ apart on parchment lined sheets

bake for ten minutes or until JUST golden on the edges.

let cool completely before removing from cookie sheet.

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Girl Power: Netflix and Chill with Jessica Jones

You guys. I totally had a whole “Netflix/Advent/24 Days of Netflix” post planned for today, I did. There was going to be pop-ups, giveaways, references to sexual organs, more movies! All of it!

But then, this past week has put into a stark light why feminism and standing up to the man and, you know, the patriarchy is so important.

I want our daughters and sons to grow up expecting to see as many women in Congress, the Senate, in front of college classrooms, on the SCOTUS bench as they do men. I want them to know that women are completely autonomous from men, and not dependent on them to make their decisions for them regarding their bodies, how much they get paid, when they can have families, how they express their sexualities, and whether or not they choose to stay home or work outside of the home.

It sounds like a Utopia, but I don’t care. I’m tired of making excuses. I want it.

I want our daughters to know how kickass they are. I want to see the future Gloria Steinems and Audre Lordes and Elizabeth Warrens of the world pop-up and say “LISTEN!! WE ARE EQUAL, and WE ARE HERE!!” I want to see my daughter slay her own dragons, because she saw me slay them first, and knew it was possible.

This, THIS is why I won’t be doing the Merry Netflix post today.

Because there is something more pressing:

Women make the BEST superheroes.

Hear me out:

Kate Kane as Batwoman isn’t afraid to be 100% more vicious than her male counterpart, she’s more sexual, more gritty, more everything. Supergirl is innocent, yes, but she was sent TO PROTECT Superman. Her. Black Widow does it when she’s not fallen into a vat of nuclear reactor uranium or venom or benefit of extra-terrestrialism. Storm and Phoenix don’t blame their faults on anyone else (looking at you, Magneto!) and they manage to get shit done. The Scarlet Witch simply DGAF about worrying her pretty little head over the dumb stuff. Her husband, Vision is her PARTNER, NOT her savior.

And then there’s this lady

Jessica Jones. An orphan. A friendless waif of a woman who swills whiskey, manages her own shit, curses, has SEX, lives her life on her own terms, and KICKS SO MUCH ASS. Yes, I realize I’m discussing superheroes like they’re real people, but think about it, when you live with these characters for years, following them through all of their iterations and pages, movies and shows, they become a real part of what makes a superhero in your mind. They’re the archetypes, the ones you compare everyone else against. Be it for good or for ill, we project ourselves into these people and daydream and wish for possibilities. That is what makes the genre so spectacular. And Jessica Jones? She’s just so much.

And Netflix made her so much more. Netflix made her “Netflix and Chill” famous. The great thing about Netflix is that they’re so open to taking risks. Risks no network wil take. Sure, Showtime and HBO have sex and violence, and often both, but a feminist show that appeals to both genders, blows the Bechdel test out of the water, isn’t all about “Oh, but if I only had a man, or a penis, or matching shoes”??? Niet. Not before Netflix.

This show is NOT for kids. Not remotely. But many an undergrad dealing with those stupid feelings of inadequacy that show their ugly faces during times of crisis and stress will benefit from such a strong woman. And women my age and older? Well, we’ll just be tipping back our own dram and watching with our fists raised, periodically yelling “AMEN” at our ipads and televisions. She’s it. She’s it for us. We need more, we’ll always need more, but Jessica is LIFE. I am a shameless sycophant of this show that catches you from the first fifteen minutes and then sets you in its grip until you realize that hours and hours have passed, you are starting to smell funny, the coffee pot is empty, and your boss is wondering where you are.

Total Netflix K-Hole

So sit back, relax, and watch every episode.

Here’s a whiskey-based drink for your Netflix and Chill.

 

Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

Bearly Enough Puns.

Ok, before I get to the meat of this post, I want to congratulate Grace Draven and Elizabeth Hunter on their 4.5 star rating and “top pick” from Romantic Times for their duology Beneath a Waning Moon. It’s so well-deserved. Both novellas made my tingle parts sparkle. For real.

Is there a 12-step program for certain authors? Because I could probably use one. Elizabeth Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Neil Fucking Gaiman, Penny Reid, Madeleine Albright, Vonnegut, Austen, Dickens, Atwood…the list is long. These are authors I consistently read, re-read, am bowled over by, and get the shakes if I’m away from for any length of time.

I need a chronosynclastic infundibulum or some standing stones or some shit to transport me through time to make Vonnegut and Austen write MOAR. *Dickens, I love you, but you wrote a fuckton. We’re good. I wouldn’t want Great Expectations from the point of view of Estella, titled I Am What You Made Me. Ok, actually, I kinda would. TO VICTORIAN ENGLAND, I GO!!

ANYWAYS…

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Hunter fed my habit by gifting me with an ARC of Waking Hearts. 

Now and then I like to feel good…

And I was over the fucking moon. I have been WAITING for Allie and Ollie’s story for what seems like forever and week. I love love love me a bear shifter. And a VIXEN?!?!? Let me remind you about the symbiotic relationship foxes and bears have in the wild…

THEY’RE BASICALLY BFFS, K?!

The bears (begrudgingly) share their kills and hunts with the arctic foxes, and even allow them to DEN WITH THEM. So what if Ollie and Allie aren’t arctic. They’re like the adorable desert equivalent.

I’ve been researching this a lot…because, you know, reasons.

Seeing the ARC pop up on my kindle gave me a shot of sheer joy that went through my entire body. Immediately, I searched for the puns that litter most bear shifter titles.

NOTHING. Not a single cheesy pun. Not “Bearly Ever” or “Bearly Hanging On” or “Bearly Dressed” or “Bearly Pregnant” or “UnBEARable” or even “Fox You.” Nothing.

These are all suggestions for any other bruin shifter book anyone would like to write. By the way, the sequel to Bearly Pregnant is, of course, BEARing Down, the third is Bearly Lucid.

 Ok, so the book made me so happy, I was SINGING in-between fits of reading.

Specifically, the vocal stylings of one Mr Freddie Mercury. So, BEAR with me while I write a musical blog.

Upon first reading, I already knew how much I loved Ollie. He is so steadfast in the previous books. He’s just a hot, level-headed, sexy, kind, lickable, wonderful bearman who just wants…

I feel you, Ollie. I feel you.

And Allie. Poor Allie. Her husband is a dog (literally) and ran off with his tail between his legs, and left her, leaving her wondering…

And she’s a mom. Of four. That changes a person–inside and out–like it as not. It’s not always easy to deal with those changes emotionally. But Ollie? Ollie gets her and thinks she is all the better for it.

(Here we see Freddie Mercury dressed as a different sort of bear.)

And Allie knows that

That big old, bar owning bear is just the right person at the right time for Allie. And Elizabeth Hunter beautifully choreographs the minutiae of a family dynamic into the idea of a fledgling relationship. Her children are wonderful and funny, and everything four kids should be. Loud, crazy, fun, and demanding.

(with 100% less cocaine.)

Elizabeth Hunter does not shy away from giving her protagonists impossible choices or painful realizations. In fact, other than world building, it’s what I would say she does best. She isn’t afraid to kill her darlings or just beat them the fuck around. No matter what, it makes the story so much more interesting.

And Cambio feels like home at this point in the series. The joy of reading an Elizabeth Hunter novel is the all-encompassing submersion into the masterfully imagined worlds and living completely in that existance for the span of the pages. And when her characters finally get that happily ever after? They fucking earned it.

The first time Allie and Ollie come together? I was as giddy as they were.

Ollie rescues Allie and she rescues him right back. Isn’t that how it should be? The strength shared between the two reminded me a lot of those great love stories you hear about during times of war or strife, when leaning on one another becomes absolutely essential. As necessary as breathing.

The ending made me deliriously happy. I won’t give away any major details, but, I had major chest tingles. Major.

Waking Hearts by Elizabeth Hunter

Five big, big, stars.

BUY IT

I think you know what recipe I made:

Obviously

Easy Bear Claws

Easy Bear Claws

 

Easy Bear Claws

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert breakfast snack

Ingredients (5 claws)

    for the claws

    • 10 puff pastry squares or 2 sheets puff pastry cut into ten squares or ten rounds
    • 6 oz almond paste
    • 4 tbsp vegan or regular cream cheese–soft
    • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
    • 2 tbsp butter or vegan butter
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp water
    • (or bean water+soy milk instead of eggs and water)

    for the glaze

    • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
    • 1/3 cup soy or regular milk
    • 1/4 tsp almond extract
    • 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)

    optional

    • chopped nuts

    Instructions

    for the claws

    preheat oven to 350F

    mix powdered sugar, almond paste, extract, butter, and cream cheese in a mixer on high

    let the puff pastry come to almost room temp and stack squares two by two and cut them into the wide “C” shapes. Don’t cut the claws, yet.

    smear the spread on half of all of the cut squares, leaving 1/2″ border all around

    mix egg with water and beat

    top with another cut square

    press firmly on edges to close

    cut five slices on longest edge

    place on parchment lined baking sheet, bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

    let cool 15 minutes

    for the glaze

    combine all ingredients and whisk the hell out of them

    drizzle claws with glaze and top with nuts

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    Excess is Just Enough.

    Get Series(ous) #14

    This week has been filled with tragedy and rhetoric. People slinging mud whilst others are simply trying to survive. We need some light, some humor, some incredibly inappropriate .gifs to relieve the pall which has settled so heavily on our terra firma.

    Not to worry, I’m pretty boss at making/finding inappropriate .gifs.

    And it’s time to Get Series(ous), and find the next series you should devour. And I mean devour. 

    So, for whom is this series a good fit?

    Let’s see…

    This guy is your hero.

    This thought has entered your mind more than once when you experienced an “encounter.”

    This image makes you simultaneously dizzy and it makes you think this:

    and this:

    This series is for someone who likes a bit of dick in her dude. She likes a guy who may or may not be entirely PC all of the time, but it’s not because he’s racist or misogynist, but instead because he’s lost the ability to give a single fuck. This reader is turned on by bilingual men who can do more than just wear a suit and earn a paycheck. This reader loves a storyline that is linear with just enough zany to keep you on your toes, and keep the pages turning. This reader probably likes this movie:

    It’s on Netflix. Watch it.

     

    (Yes, I love that movie in a way that can only be described as “reckless.” Shut it. Yes, I watch sans subtitles. NO, that’s not influencing this post. {a lot.})

    What’s the series?

    The Amour et Chocolat series by Laura Florand. (Love and Chocolate).

    Why do I love it?

    So many reasons. First, they’re beautiful. The stories, the language–bits of French are scattered through the text–the characters, the setting. All beautiful. They’re completely fantasical. There are “witches” making chocolat chaud, (hot cocoa–recipe to come) a billionaire heiress breaking into chocolate shops, a woman bent on world peace settling with a brut of a chocolatier.

    But the fantasy just makes the storyline that much sweeter.

    Laura Florand crafts these novels with the same focus and skill that a chocolatier uses when creating the tiny works of confectionary art, and the result is equally as rich and satisfying. (Not to mention less-fattening!)

    These novels transport you to the banks of the Seine, with the entire history of the City of Light whispering in the echoes of each installment.

    BONNE! Tres jolie. J’aime! J’adore.

    These books make you hungry–not only for decadent french food and confections–but more additional installments of the series. It becomes compulsive.

    Laura Florand is now an “auto-buy” for me. Meaning, if she comes out with a new book–I’m buying it. And I’ll probably enjoy it with a chocolat et un verre de vin. (ou trois!)

    What recipe complements this series?

    Duh.

    Molten Chocolate Almondine.

    Molten Chocolate Almondine

    (psssst, it’s dairy free and egg free and my fancy pants french friend could not tell!) (french purposefully not capitalized as the French do not capitalize nationalities used as an adjective.)

     

    Molten Chocolate Almondine

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Keywords: bake dessert vegan soy-free

    Ingredients (4 ramekins)

    • 1/2 cup aquafabas (the water reserved from a can of white beans)
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
    • 1/2 cup salted almond butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup cocoa–sifted twice
    • 1/2 cup flour–sifted twice
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/3 cup espresso
    • 4 squares of Ghiradelli (or whatevs) 72% dark chocolate.
    • coconut oil or cooking spray for the ramekins

    Instructions

    preheat the oven to 375F

    spray the ramekins with cooking spray or brush with coconut oil

    in a mixer on high with the whisk attachment whisk the aquafabas to stiff peaks

    in a separate bowl, melt the chocolate. (I do it in the microwave in 30 second increments)

    stir in the coffee and almond butter

    gently stir in remaining ingredients save the aquafabas and squares

    fold chocolate mixture into the aquafabas slowly

    pour into the prepared ramekins

    insert a square into the center of each

    bake for 15 minutes

    serve. (with wine and ice cream)

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