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…

Baio in the Buff?

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a state. I’ve not been able to train for my upcoming triathlon as much as I’d like, because my bits decided to BRING A POX UPON OUR HOUSE! Seriously. Children are disgusting little beasties that I am sure we’d all segregate and quarantine if they weren’t so freaking cute.

Ok, sometimes, I still desire a quarantine of my very own.

I’ve been able to train 3-4x/week, but transitions are HARD, and I simply need more training. For the next few weeks, I need to erect a bulwark around my children so they’re unexposed to any more plagues, pox, or fits of annoying behavior.

The swimming and the running are a breeze for me. (A sprint distance triathlon is actually REALLY short.) The time on the bike is getting easier. Alas, going from one to the other? I keep falling over. Not figuratively–literally– falling on my ass.  I look like a former frat boy after a bachelor party every time I’m in a transition zone.

 

I’ve been watching ample youtube videos on transition, and relying on my training team to tell me what I’m doing wrong, but honestly, I think I just need practice–and perhaps–the grace of the gods.

or….yeah right.

I have a heavy training schedule this week, and I’m actually looking forward to the pressure. I’m also looking forward to the snacks.  I picked 93487394867394 apples with my kids, and I’m ALL OVER apples and peanut butter dip.

I may have written a song about apples and dip to sing to my bits. It may go to the theme of Charles in Charge. Scott Baio may be mentioned. My kids may look at me like I’m just this side of the loony bin.

“dip and apples, you are my, favorite food. dip and apples, scott baio, in the nude.”

I am not a poet, but you WILL remember that song.

Moving on from Chachi and his member…

It’s HALLOWEEN MONTH!! SAMHAIN!! ALL-HALLOWS EVE. aka, “the BEST HOLIDAY EVER!!”

It’s full of yoga pants clad women ordering spiced lattes, cottony spiderwebs….

this guy…

and most of all…

READING CREEPY BOOKS AND DRINKING TEQUILA. I have actually no idea why tequila is required other than because, tequila.

So, for your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled a fantastic list of classic horror books you may have missed. Yes, I love a good contemporary horror book as much as the next lady, NOS4A2 being one of my top books of 2013, penned by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s oldest son.

Stephen King is the reason I DON’T TRUST SEWERS.

 

 

fuck you, Stephen King. Fuck you.

Without further ado..

horror collage

FYI, my platonic soul mate, Amy, is doing an awesome horror book giveaway on her blog.

Now?

The food.

You know what you need in your life this fall?

Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Challah!

Why? Because A: Challah is delicous. B: Apples are both plentiful and delicious. C: see A and B.

apple cinnamon pull apart challah apple cinnamon pull apart challah apple cinnamon pull apart challah

 

Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Challah

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: depending.

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer bread dessert Halloween Hanukkah Rosh Hashanah

Ingredients (a gigantic pile of challah or)

  • 2 pounds apples, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp mace
  • 1 batch of challah dough. (thawed, your recipe, chow’s recipe, any number of recipes.)
  • 1 egg plus 2 tbsp water, beaten

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

combine apples, honey, and spices in a large bowl, set aside

but challah dough (about 2 lbs of it) into 24 even pieces

roll out each piece into a circle, drop an apple piece and SEAL DOUGH WELL around the apple

place on a silpat lined sheet

like a monkey bread, layer/ stack these little filled nuggets 10″ diameter and 3 layers deep, in a conical shape.

depending on how much dough you have, this may make more than one loaf.

brush with egg mixture

bake until a deep, golden brown.

eat like crazy.

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Describe it to Me. In Detail.

I am in sadface mode. Tomorrow, two of my triathlon team members leave me for 14 days so they can haul ass back to their native Scotland to vote on the referendum for Scottish independence. They are strongly in favor of Scotland being its own nation. I am awash in anxiety for them. I will miss their company on my long rides and runs these next two weeks.

Since it will just be the Professor, Viking and I running and riding the next fortnight, and we are accustomed to running together quietly, I’m back on the audiobook train! (Incidentally, this train is spectacularly quiet and has booze and/or tea service 24/7. It’s basically heaven.)

Since I’ve been buying up new audiobooks like they’re the key to longevity, or, better yet, the key to unlocking the Voynich manuscript…or the key to eliminating whisky di….nevermind. Let’s just say, I’ve always loved audiobooks.

So, because I have a staggering 288 titles just in my audible library, 60 more on itunes, and COUNTLESS on my hard drive,  I’m going to give you a quick “how-to” guide on getting started with audiobooks.

audible

 

1st tip. If you find you like audiobooks, sign up for a library card, an audible membership, and amazon unlimited right meow.

What’s Audible? It’s Amazon’s audiobook app and store, and you get huge discounts, access to big ol’ sales, whispersync (which is where you can flip back and forth between kindle and audio) and ONE audiobook a month for $15 a month. It’s a steal.

Amazon Unlimited gives you a huge library to choose from with whispersync (many titles) for $10/mo.

YOUR LIBRARY. Not only do they have traditional CDs, they have OVERDRIVE!!! OD allows you to be LENDED books on audio via YOUR LIBRARY, which, as you know IS FREE. Do this. Do this now. They’re not open while you’re reading? Set up a tent and bring bagels. Be ready. Preparedness is important. If those douchey-fucks can wait all night for a fucking phone or handbag at H&M, you can wait for BRAIN CANDY/VITAMINS. Or, you know, go when they’re open.

Personally, I’d like to see people camped out near the library. It would fuck with the librarians.

DO YOU HAVE THE LATEST SCALZI?!??!? WE’RE WAITING…..quietly.

The trouble with audiobooks for most people is….the narration. I, myself am a narrator. (under a stage name not going to be revealed here) And I am also an avid listener. So, as a reader and reader, I am highly critical of a good narrator.

The narration needs to suck you in from the start. It needs to be well-produced and fluid. It has to be fast-paced when called for, and dramatically slow in other parts.

Here’s the thing. Narrating audiobooks is not as easy as you think. First of all, most of us are freelance. We have our own studio space, producers, etc. WE are responsible for talking to the authors for things like pronunciation, ideas, etc. Our producers mix us, and we spend hours upon hours in front of a mic, trying to make magic happen. We see diction coaches and listen to every foreign conversation we can get an ear on. We talk to ourselves in the shower.

Sometimes we slip and are talking to ourselves in the kitchen, in a French accent, and our husband comes up behind us and assumes that we’re role playing, and then we tell them how we want to rain hell over the British…and they may look at you strangely…and you go back to stirring the paprikash. QUIT JUDGING ME!!

However, when a narrator is good? Oh holy shit, it’s great. You are transported. It’s this rush. This OMGWHOISTHISPERSON?!? I totally want to be their bestie/sister/havethemdodirtythingstome. It makes the book better. More alive. More real.

It, in a word, rocks.

For you, my lovely scamps, my favorite current audiobook narrators. (not including myself, as that would be…impossible. I fucking hate the sound of my voice.)

audiobooks

 

In no particular order: (searchable through itunes AND audible)

Sophie Eastlake. Both Thea Harrison and Chloe Neill have used this snarky-sounding Midwestern narrator for their novels, and she’s awesome. She’s masculine and feminine, sweet and mean, sexy and fun. Her grip on punctuation without the intake of breath between pauses is AWESOME!

Robert Petkoff: total panty-dropper narrator. I swear to you ladies, he does this growl….I’d listen to that man read a textbook that I WROTE (I write textbooks. It’s a thing) and be all hot and bothered.

Tavia Gilbert. Jeaniene Frost uses her exclusively. She has the BEST quick-timing. She has a natural flow that slinks like water over sand. It’s brilliant.

Jim Frangione. He’s not shy. Many times a narrator who reads very sexy material can be shy or they read it plain. He puts his sensuality in it and it gives him an edge.

Holter Graham. His RANGE. By all of the gods above and below, his RANGE. You’re never disappointed in an accent or dialect. He fucking nails each one. Sherrilyn Kenyon loves him. So does Patricia Briggs. For.A.Reason.

Luke Daniels. What can I say about Luke Daniels? I loved him narrating for Kevin Hearne, and I loved some other things he narrated, but listening to him depict a person with Asperger’s Syndrome in 600 Hours of Edward made me fall in love with his narration. As many of you readers know, I have a  6 year old son with Sensory Processing Disorder, which shares many similar traits with Aspies. I cried and laughed and cried again at his narration because he got it so fucking right. I can’t explain to you how big this is to us in the community.

*sidenote: I’ve also listened to him enthusiastically describe fellatio. This was overheard by my neighbor who asked me about it later.

Lorelei King: She is Mercy Thompson. She IS Charlie Davidson. She should so be my bff at least long enough that she can introduce me as a pro-wrestling babe, or perhaps nobel winner. Her men? OMG off the charts good. Her comedic timing is perfection. I love everything she reads. (pleasepleaseplease read me the Science Times. The authors are terrible.)

Now…..The food.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

It’s not a pumpkin pie, but not strictly a cake, either. It has a crumbly-awesome topping, and it’s OMG SO GOOD.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

 

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Keywords: bake bread breakfast dessert cake pie fall

Ingredients (serves 8-12)

    for the cake

    • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1 cup melted butter
    • 1 1/2 cup flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 cup brown sugar–packed
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp clove

    for the crumble

    • 1/2 cup SOFT butter
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Instructions

    preheat oven to 350F

    grease 10″ springform pan

    combine wet cake ingredients

    mix until smooth

    sift in dry ingredients

    pour into pan

    crumble

    using a fork, combine crumb topping ingredients until big crumbs form

    sprinkle evenly over cake batter

    bake until the top *just* wiggles when you wiggle it, and the crumb begins to be a bronzy-golden brown.

    let cool completely.

    serve with whisky. Or not. Your choice.

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    Do We Think Charlie Sheen Likes Honey?

    How do you pass the time on a thirty-mile bike ride, or a fifteen-mile run? Typically, while running, I’d listen to a combination of audiobooks and music, and old podcasts of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on my iphone. Even if I am running with The Navajo, (whom I may also refer to as “His Lordship Prettyboy.”) I often remain enveloped in the notes and bars between my ears.

    However, I am training for my first triathlon. While Ellie Mae and Scandi Sally refuse to ride bicycles with the rest of us, we’ve all been logging miles together running and swimming. While we’re running, we have a tendency to talk politics and food, because…I have no idea, actually. I think we’re just weird. But in the liminal space between running and biking, there is this bit of retrocession of energy, where we could easily fall prey to the gravitational weight on our limbs and minds, and we could just fall over from the exertion. There must be excitement to get beyond the mental and physical lassitude.

    For days, we stuck to our old ritual of “The Sorkin Game,” only without alcohol. For those of you who have never heard of this genius game that really only my friends play, it’s a drinking game. You read or quote Sorkin scripts as fast as you can, or as well as you can, without screwing up, because if you do, tequila is going to find you. Whomever messes up first during our brick, is forced to rack the bikes.

    Well, I’ve been playing this game for years, and so has the Professor, so we try to one-up each other–hard. We can go back and forth,”walk-and-talk” style for days without error. Last week, I threw down. I grabbed all my chips, and threw them at the boys BECAUSE I FREAKING CAN. They wanted me to do this tri to get over my fear of bicycles? Fine. Take this, mother truckers.

    I recited this monologue, and I.Did.It.Perfectly.

    It should also be noted that Martin is my favorite Sheen. My second favorite being Charlie, then Emilio (estevez..ugh, sticking to your actual surname…boring!) and my fourth favorite is the sheen my lip gloss gives me. It’s called “black honey,” just FYI. –It should also be noted that the fourth Sheen has not met my second-favorite Sheen even though I met him outside a unisex bathroom in Manhattan and he stared at my tits for a very long time.

    The Highlander was shocked I could do the Latin, and said so. I replied by quoting off a crap ton of the Leiden Aratea, which is a 9th c. manuscript of a writing of Germanicus.

    After his eyes popped back in his head, the fairly-large Scot started quoting off extremely random Gaelic proverbs he’s memorized. Because early astronomy isn’t weird enough. I am going to stress the *extremely* bit of *extremely* random. I believe one of the proverbs has something to do with not pissing in the wind if you just put the sheets up to dry. Which, I suppose, is a valid concern. Not to be outdone, the Professor started quoting romantic poets of England. I tuned him out somewhere during Wordsworth. Because, zzzzzzz.

    Well, the Highlander has taken to one specific phrase for when we’re dragging our asses particularly low: “Cha deoch-slàint, i gun a tràghadh.” (pardon my disastrous spelling.) I am pretty sure it means “it’s not healthy if you don’t drink the whole thing.” Which I would take as a great pub song, but it means, if you’re doing it, do it until you’re done. So with his bastardized Gaelic, I throw in bastardized Latin: “Ubi cubuli meum ibi patria.” “Where there is my bed, there is my homeland.” Because, tired. *very bastardized Latin.* The Professor just keeps saying things like: “Love is my religion and I could die for that….Soft pipes, play on!” And more Keats. Seriously, I get that he’s a Keats scholar. He’s probably academia’s foremost Keats scholar. (not Proust..not even second highest regarded Marcel Proust scholar in the United States.)

    After we run out of playful banter, we mostly just swear at each other until it’s over. “Why, WHY are we doing this? Who thought this was a good idea? Did you finish Penny Dreadful, yet?” The important things.

    Then we get hungry.

    Thankfully, I’m a pretty good cook.

    Paleo Date-Nut Pancakes.

    Paleo Date-Nut Pancakes Paleo Date-Nut Pancakes

    Paleo Date-Nut Pancakes

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 20 minutes

    Keywords: grill breakfast side snack

    Ingredients (12 pancakes)

    • 1 cup mixed nuts
    • 1 cup pitted dates
    • 1 cup coconut flour
    • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (or more/less, depending on your flour)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 egg
    • 3 egg whites

    for the topping (per serving)

    • 1 tbsp peanut butter
    • 1 tsp coconut oil
    • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

    Instructions

    pulse nuts in a food pro until you get a fine powder

    add in dates until pasty

    add in all other ingredients, milk last

    when you reach a thick pancake consistency, stop adding milk

    Using a 1 oz scoop, scoop onto greased griddle cooking each side for 2-3 minutes

    for the sauce

    add the ingredients for the sauce into a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds

    pour over pancakes

    eat.

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    Sapere Aude

    As I type this, I have my children watching Cosmos on Netflix. It’s an hour of keeping the kids lulled by the sweet, dulcet tones of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his love of logic and science. I want my kids to be dreamers. I want them to question everything. I want them to question me, you, their teachers, everyone and everything. Every time they don’t find an answer, I want them to dig deeper, search harder, and seek to find. Nullius in Verba.

    The place I take the kids most-often in the winter months is the American Museum of Natural History, and the Hayden Planetarium. They love strolling the halls of Science and paleontology, marine life and folk art. They ask question after question about who and what came first, and where it is we’re headed. My son could spend hours in the planetarium, simply mesmerized by the grandeur of the cosmos which is so difficult to see in NYC, with all of its light pollution. “What’s beyond our galaxy, Mama? What happens if you throw a magnet in a black hole? Could Zeus make lightning on Jupiter?” He may or may not have seen me watch a silly documentary called Chariots of the Gods on Netflix. Aliens+gods+pyramids+beer and a sofa=awesome night at home.

    I remember watching the original Cosmos with Carl Sagan in reruns on PBS as a kid. I was instantly enamored by his easy manner and fervent passion. He also had some boss blazer and turtleneck combinations. He remained important to me even through my turbulent teenaged battle between where and how my faith and science could fit together. I was taught that evolution was a joke, that we aren’t a changing universe. I was taught this in spite of the fact that I could SEE evolution. I could SEE changes in the universe. Somewhere, deep inside my mind, lived the quiet words of Carl Sagan, just waiting to be given an ear, and a fistful of curiosity. I am so grateful for that.

    Now? My kids have ample opportunities to question, to seek, to know. The can go to the museum, or the library, or even just an iPad. They can watch Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking  and then scroll through the Science News and Discoveries App, and see what correlates.

    We are lucky to live in an era that between My Little Pony and Transformers, there is NGD and Hawking, open and accessible at the press of button.

    On a compleeeetely different note, you know I’ve been training for my first triathlon. You also know I’ve been terrified of riding bicycles. Lately, I’ve been doing REALLY well on the bike. Yes, I’ve fallen, but it WASN’T THAT BAD. I mean, I’m a klutz. I’ve fallen HARD just by walking! So it wasn’t really that bad. I didn’t break both arms, my cheekbone, and grind my teeth! So…WINNING! (I fell down the stairs at fifteen and did just that. You know, WALKING.)

    Anyway, I typically like to listen to audiobooks when I cook, but because I’ve been baking and cooking up a storm for triathlon fuel, I’ve been watching documentaries on my tablet. Biking and running documentaries. By the dozen. Yesterday, while making the recipe featured on today’s blog, I watched Rising from Ashes on Netflix, and was immediately inspired and immediately felt like an asshole for eating batter while watching a documentary featuring bicyclists who overcame GENOCIDE to keep on riding.

    Yup, asshole party of one.

    I got over it by watching Run for Your Life: The Fred Lebow Story on Netflix after the biking movie. I felt SMUG. I like SMUG. Smug is a comfy duvet of self-aggrandizement. The whole thing reminded me of the fact that unlike Boston, my marathon allowed women runners THE VERY FIRST YEAR. (so she got sick and couldn’t run. WHO CARES?!?!?!) Proving once and for all, NYC kicks Boston’s ass in all things, not just city layout and baseball. BOOM!

    Now? Food for your Face.

    Almond Banana Power Balls

    all-natural, nutrient dense, happy balls of yum.

    almond banana power balls almond banana power balls

    Almond Banana Power Balls

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 10 minutes

    Keywords: bake appetizer bread breakfast dessert snack vegetarian soy-free kosher gluten-free dairy-free

    Ingredients (1 dozen balls)

    • 1 cup almonds
    • 1 1/3 cup whole-grain oats
    • 1 egg
    • 1 very ripe banana
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 3 tbsp honey

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350F

    grind together nuts and oats in a food pro

    when smooth-ish add in remaining ingredients

    stick in freezer for 10 minutes

    scoop onto greased baking sheet

    bake for ten minutes or until golden brown

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