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Because I work in a library, these may never stop coming.

 
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Shalala, don’t stop now, don’t try to hide it, how you want to… KISS THE EARL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#SexyMistakes!  Ok, not gonna lie, this is both ridiculous and awesome.  I might actually read this at some point.  I’d also kinda like to feel the need to use that hashtag at some point in my life.  Seems like an important mistake to make at least once in your life…

 

 

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Why this one?  Because it reminds me of my friends, that’s why.

 

 

 

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Once again, I’m twelve.  And this book is called Mocha Dick.  Haha, dick.

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Honestly, I think it’s that earnest, adoring look on the lady’s face, combined with the pensive, confused look on the guy’s face.  And somehow I think this is supposed to be a romance?  I dunno, confusion isn’t super romantic for me.  And neither are Amish beards while we’re at it.20160107_175624

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What?! You’re giving it away Macbeth, quit tweeting about your murder plot!  And hashtags, srsly?  lol

 

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Adorable, but deadly.  Look at his little face!  Just look at it!  I’d be super dead.

 

 

 

 

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It’s a chihuahua in a tiny sailor outfit driving a boat!  Can you stand it?!  And his name is Pepe!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not actually surprised that this book exists.  Indeed, by all rights, it belongs in this world more than I do.  Mostly I’m just super entertained that my library system carries copies(plural) of it.  This is amazing.  Such times we live in that you can go to your public library and pick up a book of Star Trek alien philosophy on war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But what deserves to exist even more than the Klingon Art of War book?  The scratch and sniff wine book of course!  I leafed through it, and yes, I sniffed. It describes in detail many types of wine and how to tell them apart by appearance and by smell.   Such a combination of sophisticated connoisseur and childish glee may never have existed in book form until now, and my library owns copies.  You’re welcome.  I would have checked this out if a co-worker hadn’t beaten me to it.

 

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Quickly, before it’s too hot for soup!  I make this soup when I don’t really feel like cooking or eating, but I still want something hot to make the belly rumbles stop.  It hardly takes any time at all if you use frozen vegetables.

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2 cups water

1 veggie bullion cube

1 TBSP cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

2 TBSP frozen peas

4 baby carrots sliced into coins(or just get a bag of frozen peas & carrots, toss in 4 Tablespoons and call it done)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg

Put the water in a pot and set it to boil.  Throw in the bullion cube and peas and carrots and minced garlic. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture, stirring continuously.  Then break the egg in a cup and stir it real good.  Stirring the soup slowly in one direction only(clockwise only, or counterclockwise only) add the egg a little at a time.  Then you can turn off the heat and keep stirring for about a minute.  At this point, I usually add a lot of soy sauce, but that’s only because they don’t make salt licks for humans and I have to get my sodium somewhere.  Then I stare at the steam for a bit and wait for it to cool off enough to eat while trying to keep the cat out of it.  It’s a fast, warm meal for a rainy day if you’re not very hungry.

I don’t usually consider salads recipes, but I haven’t really posted a recipe in a while and a friend mentioned looking for low starch, vegetarian recipes.  Also, this salad is pretty filling as salads go, and I know this friend has access to Trader Joe’s(our secret, shared lover) where you can buy all the ingredients.  This salad is a really good mix of sweet and savory flavors, and if you use the roasted squash while it’s still hot, an interesting mix of temperatures too. 20170201_151837

Ingredients

fresh arugula

5-8 cherry tomatoes cut in half(if you cut them in half they don’t pop in your mouth and squirt tomato seeds across the break room at your co-workers during lunch)

crumbled feta cheese

handful of walnuts

handful of dried cranberries

1 bag of cubed butternut squash

3 mushrooms, sliced

2-4 TBSP oil(enough to lightly coat the butternut squash)

1 TBSP dried basil(you could use fresh too)

Trader Joe’s Champagne vinaigrette

Directions

Toss the butternut squash with the oil and the dried basil.  Put it in a roasting pan and roast it at 375 for about 45 minutes.  It’s done when you can cut a cube in half easily with a fork.  You can turn up the temperature or roast them for a little longer if you want them to have crispy brown edges(which is sometimes nice for texture).

Fill a large salad bowl with arugula.  You can really pack it in there if you are a hangry, greedy wildebeast like me. Toss in the dried cranberries, walnuts, mushrooms, and tomatoes.  Pile the roasted squash on top and garnish with feta cheese.  Or pile the cheese on too if you’re super hungry. Drizzle with champagne dressing.  I also sprinkle some salt on because I love me some sodium.  It’s super pretty, and you get to feel virtuous about eating salad.

I make this a lot for lunch, but when I make it for lunch, I let the squash cool completely before putting it on the salad and closing the Tupperware.  You can prepare it the night before and it stays pretty crisp as long as you don’t put the salad dressing on until you’re ready to eat it.

It’s taken long enough, I know.  I promise 2016 will not take as long… unless someone else dies and I get depressed and don’t do it.  But back on topic, hope you find something new and exciting here.

Children’s Books:

Tea RexTea Rex by Molly Idle

A little girl and her brother have a tyranosaurus rex over for tea. The text goes over tea time manners while the beautiful pictures tell the story. Hilarity ensues.

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Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds

A picture book about the difficulties of fitting in.  Personally, fitting in has always been a struggle for me, so I found this heartwarming.

 

 

421063Santa Claws by Laura Leuk, illustrated by Gris Grimly

Children’s picture book about monsters and Christmas, illustrated by the amazing Gris Grimly.  Are you looking for a book that’s cute, but creepy?  Look no further.

 

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Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

A short children’s novel about a father who has a wacky adventure while on the way to the store to get milk for his children’s cereal.  And it’s by Neil Gaiman.  ‘Nuff said.

 

 

17591892Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

A graphic novel about a world where each medieval town has a monster they are proud of.  Every town, that is, except for Stoker-on-Avon.

 

 

Teen Books:

17453303Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

A strange story about a girl and her friend who drink a bat and gain the power to see both people’s past and future. How do you drink a bat? I’m not telling. As for the history of the future, it’s horrifying and compelling, but I can’t tell you much more than that. It’s a story about friendship and choices, despair and hope, truth and lies, art and life, and the connections between people, both past and future. And personally, I enjoy books that delve a little into what it’s like living with mental illness, as well as feminism. I can’t think of a better way to explain this book; you just have to read it.

10874177Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Silly steampunk adventure about teenaged Sophronia, who is failing at being a proper lady. Her mother sends her away to a very unusual finishing school where she learns not only to be a lady, but also spying, poisoning, and a lot of other things she never expected. It takes place a generation before the Alexia Macon stories, so there are guest appearances of characters I recognized, but much younger. Fun fan service to see these characters in their youth.

14059024The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy, Lockwood, and George take on a seemingly normal case helping out a graveyard crew. But the body they unearth is more perilous than anticipated, and the people involved are just as dangerous as the ghosts. More banter, more scary ghosts, more adventure, and of course, a mystery.

 

 

 

20898019Ms Marvel No Normal by Willow G. Wilson

Part of being a teenager is dealing with being different, not fitting in.  And what I love about this version of Ms Marvel is that the girl is a muslim teenager living in New Jersey.  On top of all the normal teenage angst, she also has to deal with prejudice about her religion, and racism because she is of middle eastern heritage.  Plus, you know, super confusing new powers, and having a secret identity, as if things weren’t complicated enough already.

 

12813630The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black

Holly Black wrote a vampire book.  That’s really all I needed to know, but if you need convincing, it’s about a teenage girl named Tana who wakes up after a house party to find that everyone else in the house has been massacred by vampires.  Everyone, that is, but her ex-boyfriend(of course) and one vampire who has been left behind by his companions to die.  But Tana’s ex is “cold” with the vampire infection, and she fears she may be too. Vampirism is treated as a communicable disease by the government, and “cold towns” have been established and quarantined for those infected.  Holly Black builds a rich world of quarantined concentration camps, prejudice, fear, reality television, and celebrity worship around a character who struggles with her own self destructive tendencies.

 

8490112Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I completely tore through this whole series on a recommendation from a friend, Maryelizabeth, who owns Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego.  This is the story of Karou, a mysterious art student with blue hair(yo12812550u gotta have blue hair) and tattoos who draws monsters in her notebook.  What her friends don’t know is that the monsters are the only family she’s ever known.  The double life of a normal art student, and errand girl for monsters is a lonely one, and Karou is starting to get fed up with it all.  Then three angels with wings of fire begin marking magic doo13618440rs with handprints, and Karou’s life is about to literally burn down around her.  I love the amazing world that Laini Taylor has built, the characters she’s created, the drama and the humor, and the marvelous strangeness of it all. It’s a love story full of the worst kind of betrayals and loss, friendship and revenge, wishes and monsters and secrets, but a love story nonetheless.  And I love it.

 

Adult Books:

7235533The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.

How does he do this?  The books are huge and daunting, but totally worth it, and with Sanderson, you know you won’t be waiting 10 years for the next one.  He builds an amazing world ravaged by magical storms, full of strange creatures, new religions, and characters you want to like because they all believe they are doing the right thing(even the bad ones).

 

17671993Injustice: Gods Among Us, years 1 and 2 by Tom Taylor

I don’t often read DC comics, but these are amazing, and dark, and really explore the line between good and evil, hero and villain.

 

 

 

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 40102Outliers and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Fascinating research on becoming an expert, making snap decisions, and what makes successful people stand out from the crowd.  It gives you insight and perspective, like turning the Rubik’s cube of life around in your hands to examine from all angles.

 

 

91479Death Masks by Jim Butcher

I realize this is a single book partway through a series, but I don’t care, it was still one of my favorites from the last year, so it’s on the list.  Dresden is forced to confront the consequences of some of his mistakes, part of his past he tried to forget, and finds himself tempted to do the wrong thing.  Lots of moral and emotional dilemmas combined with sarcastic humor, badass fighting, and magic and myth.

 

7622500The Artist in the Office by Summer Pierre

Quite possibly the most inspiring book I read all year. A fantastic self help book for artistic personalities who work in non-artistic professions. It helps you to incorporate art into your daily lifestyle at work and at home, and to recognize how you can live your ideal artistic life, or something close to it, while working a day job. It has really energized me, and reminded me about the good things in life.

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The Third Act: Writing a Great Ending to your Screenplay by Drew Yanno

It’s short, and pretty to the point.  And it helped my fix the ending to my first completed novel.  Effective!

 

Gone GirlGone Girl By Gillian Flynn

A dark, surprising murder mystery full of twists.  This story kept me entertained despite the lack of magic OR spaceships!  But dark, Dark, DARK.  Be prepared for some messed up relationships.  Nick Dunne’s wife disappears, and when the clues begin to point back toward Nick himself, he realizes that the most likely explanation sounds completely insane. The movie was a faithful rendition, but the book is still totally worth it.

 

 

Saga vol. 4 and 5 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by25451555 Fiona Staples.

23093367I love this series so much, and it continues to hold my devotion.  I love the characters, and I
love the art, and I love the world.  Though I have to say, there a was a really harsh sucker punch at the end of Vol. 5.

 

So there it is, only like 11 months late… Happy reading.

I tell you what guys, 2016 has not been a kind year.

I don’t normally write this kind of blog, but I was thinking about it anyway as Thanksgiving approaches, and then I read this article.  I hope it’s not as dark as all that, but if wishes were fishes, I’d be a mermaid.  Or something like that.  So here goes.

WARNING: politics.  If you just want a recipe, scroll down to the bold text about broccoli.

I am thankful to live in a nation where the law is on the side of free speech, and freedom of religion.  I am thankful and awed that gay marriage was legalized over a year ago.  I am thankful that there is a second wave of civil rights for women, gays, people of color, and gender identity.  I’m thankful to live in a democratic nation that believes I have the right to vote.  I’m thankful for my education, and all the things that it helps me understand about the world.  I am thankful none of my family are in the hospital this Thanksgiving.  And I am thankful for my uninhibited access to the internet, net neutrality, and the ability to blog about these things right now.

Things I believe:

More knowledge is always better than less. Always.

God is everywhere, in everything, not in just one building, one church, or one man.

All human beings deserve equal civil rights.  You should be able to worship, love, and live as you wish as long as no one is getting hurt.

Hell, animals deserve civil rights.

You cannot claim to be pro-life while eating meat, supporting the death penalty, or voting against social services for impoverished mothers and children. Life is not exclusive to human beings, nor does it end at birth.

Your life matters.  YOU matter.  And so do I.

Look guys, as a writer, I try to make friends with all kinds of people and learn how they work.  I might be cranky and kinda asocial at times, but ultimately, I’m forgiving of a lot of human failings and I have hope.  I want to believe.  But in electing You-Know-Who, I feel like America is not the place I thought it was.  He was the worst option, and now I can’t help but wonder if we’re just getting what we deserve.  Except, no one deserves to lose their civil rights just because they exist.  If you’re scared right now, me too.  And I’m not going to just stand there and watch when I see something bad happen to someone else, I’m going to Do Something.  I hope you’ll do Something too.

I’m actually afraid to post this blog.  And I’m sad there are things I don’t even know how to talk about here.  I’m at a loss.

So here’s a recipe for the broccoli at Old Spaghetti Factory.

Broccoli with Browned Butter and Cheese

Ingredients:

broccoli florets(how much? I dunno, how many people you trying to feed? I usually get a couple pounds)

3-6 Tablespoons of real butter

Mizithra cheese(I found some at Sprouts!)

Steam the broccoli and put it on a pretty plate.  Then put the butter in a pan and heat on medium while stirring constantly.  You’ll smell it as it starts to brown.  It smells great. Keep stirring for maybe 30 more seconds after you start to smell the butter browning, but careful not to burn it. Turn off the heat and drizzle the butter over the broccoli. Grate the cheese and sprinkle generously over the broccoli.  It’s beautiful.  Don’t eat it all in one sitting.

 

It’s Banned Books Week!  I haven’t read any banned books yet this week, but I love celebrating my right to learn whatever the hell I want.  This feels especially important to me as a writer as well as a librarian.  As a librarian, I do research professionally.  As a librarian, people have asked me to remove gay magazines, and picture books from the shelves(yes, this has actually happened, and more than once).  And as a writer, I look up a bunch of really weird, questionable stuff.  So hooray for the first amendment and freedom of information!  This might not seem like such a big deal, but when you consider that in North Korea they only have access to 28 websites, it puts things in perspective.

At the top of the list for most challenged books of 2015 is Looking for Alaska, by John Green, which is a great book.  Just behind it is Fifty Shades of Grey, which while I don’t feel like I can say it’s a great book, I don’t support removing it from shelves either.  This year the ALA is focusing on promoting diversity, particularly since books that take a hard look at the issues faced by different cultures and people are often the ones that get challenged.

That’s about all I’ve got for now.  I haven’t been cooking as much, but I’ve been reading and writing plenty.  The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt was a pretty interesting read, and I’m digging into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series(shit is DARK).  Happy reading everyone.

 

I haven’t blogged in a while because of how hard I’ve been working on other projects.  I have an art show opening in a couple days, I went to two comic conventions, I’ve finally got a draft of my novel that I kinda like, and I’ve been working odd hours due to short staffing and summer reading program.  Usually I post about books or food, but I haven’t had a lot of time to cook or write book reviews lately.  I have nearly completed my favorite book list of 2015, but it’s a long list, so it’s taking a while.  I thought I’d step outside my regular pattern to tell a personal story.  If you don’t like cats, feel free to stop reading now and come back for the favorites of 2015 post.

Three years ago in July I came home and nearly ran over a tiny kitten.  It was about 11pm, and there was a group of feral cats hanging out in my apartment parking lot.  When my headlights hit them, they scattered.  All but one kitten.  It sat there staring at my headlights until the last possible second before it bolted.  After I parked, I went looking for the kitten and found it hiding under another car.  I coaxed it forward just a little, but then it sniffed the air and ran off.  The kitten and I did this for about a week.  I would come home, nearly run it over, then try to catch it.  I didn’t really have a plan, I just didn’t want to run over a tiny kitten.

After that week, I started to worry that someone else might run it over.  After all, lots of people speed through the parking lot, and this kitten clearly had a poor grasp of self preservation.  So I asked to borrow a humane trap from a neighbor.  She brought it over while I was having a girls night party, and I recruited the girls to come with me while I set the trap.  We only had to wait about 15 minutes.

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The kitten sprung the trap and began fighting like a Tazmanian devil to get out.  It was hard to carry the trap it was fighting so hard.  Eventually the kitten calmed down or wore itself out and curled up in the back of the trap.  I slid a tiny litter box into the trap, took some pictures of the kitten, and posted it on Facebook to see if anyone would like an emaciated tabby kitten.  I’m allergic to cats and had no intention of keeping this feral kitten.  The next day, I had no takers, but the kitten seemed calmer, so I tried to pet it through the trap.  It let me.  So I opened the trap and tried reaching inside to pet it.  It let me.  It was so thin I could grab it with one hand and pull it out of the trap into my lap.  It snuggled and purred, which stunned me.  It wasn’t so feral after all, but it was too thin to belong to anyone.kitten2

I kept posting pictures to Facebook, showing videos of the kitten to co-workers, and even asked my apartment manager if anyone was missing a kitten.  During this time, I was keeping the kitten in the bathroom, but one day it got out and hid under the couch before I had to go to work.  When I came home, the kitten had used the litterbox, made no messes, and destroyed nothing.  This was encouraging.  So I sat down on the couch with the kitten to watch Youtube videos of well behaved cats getting baths and explained that this was necessary because of my allergy.  Then I gave it a bath.  It wasn’t as well behaved as the cats in the video, but it didn’t try to bite or claw.  I thought, if I kittencan bathe this cat, I might be able to live with it.  Famous last words.

After a month, the kitten was crying at the door for me every time I came home. It watched TV with me and sat in my lap purring.  I gave up trying to give it away and made a vet appointment.  Then a friend called and asked if I was still giving away a kitten.  I realized that no, I wasn’t.  This was my cat.  At the vet appointment, I learned that my kitten was about three months old, and a she.  A she who had nearly been run over multiple times, and so either had no understanding of the danger, or was flirting with suicide.  So at the suggestion of a friend, I named her Opheliartkittena.

I never meant to get a cat.  I’ve never had one before, and I’m allergic.  But here we are three years later, and Ophelia has been the happiest of accidents.  20150712_230611CAM01043

Working in a library is not the boring experience that the media makes you think it is.  I only hush people when they’re being really obnoxious, like talking loud enough on their phone that I know all about their colon problems.  I do just as much computer help as I do book help; I get to have conversations with hilarious 4-year-olds; I’ve had to explain that stringing a tight-rope between library building supports is not allowed; I’ve had to say the words “so, I understand you were watching videos of the female genitalia in the presence of minors;” and I’ve been threatened with bodily harm by large, angry motorcyclists.  My stories aren’t even the crazy ones.  A lot of my librarian friends have crazier ones.  Not that every single day is exciting, but it’s way more interesting than most people realize, which is one of the reasons I enjoy my job.  I hate being bored.

However, when something crazy is going down, I don’t usually get pictures.  I DO take pictures when books are returned with unusual bookmarks.  Plane tickets, receipts, toilet paper, birthday cards, and personal p20151204_125527hotographs are not that uncommon.  I’ve seen actual food more than once(which seriously damages the book, btw, don’t do it).  I found 10 Euros once, and another time had to call someone because their child support check was left in a book.  But again, I don’t have pictures of those.  Here are the pictures I do have:  A rubber witch finger in a children’s non-fiction book about zombies, and a hair pick, for some reason.

 

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This one here is the absolute winner though.  It’s a huge coffee table book about World War 2.  The bookmark is an expired lunch coupon for a local strip club with a sticky note that has a20150806_120509 girl’s name, phone number, and “home goodz” scrawled on it.  You’re welcome?

 

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Between being sick, dealing with family issues, and trying to keep up with all the projects I’m working on, a lot of things have sort of fallen to the wayside.  My apartment  needs spring cleaning, I’ve been too tired to exercise, I have’t been editing my novel or blogging, and I haven’t been cooking as much as usual.  I actually went out to a fast food place and ate a burrito alone in my car like some sort of overworked business person, or possibly a lonely barbarian.

Things I HAVE managed to accomplish: 3 pieces of art on display in shows, 1 piece sold, 2 commissioned art pieces completed, 2 more commissions in the works, and I wrote a picture book(which I still need to illustrate).  Why do I do this to myself?  Oh yeah, not creating art makes Homer something something.  Go crazy?  DON’T MIND IF I DO!

Anyway, the moral of this story is I’m busy, so here’s a recipe for busy people who also like to be vegetarian and fancy: a sandwich.

FANCY PEAR SANDWICH

1 pear(I used D’angou, but it would probably work with any kind)

2 slices of bread(whoa, getting crazy here TWO slices of bread?!)

1 small handful of arugula

1/2 Roma tomato, sliced(Where’s the rest of it?! What did you do you animal?!)

Spreadable herb cheese like Laughing Cow or herb rolled goat chevre(so fancy!)

Directions: Spread cheese on one side of each slice of bread.  Slice pear once on each side of the stem so you have two hemisphere shaped slices and one weird center slice with the core.  You can either leave the hemisphere slices as they are, or slice the very top of the dome off to make the sandwich lie flatter.  Place the two side slices of pear on one piece of the cheese bread side by side.  Put tomato slices on top of of the pear.  Rinse and dry the arugula thoroughly, then arrange on top of the tomato.  I like salt, so I put a generous shake of salt on top of the arugula before putting the top slice of bread on, cheese side down.  If you are near a stove or a toaster oven(remember you’re a busy person, too busy for cooking!) you can pop the sandwich in for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees or so to toast it.  Now you have a really fancy sandwich and one weird core slice of pear.  You can cut the core from that last slice and use the good bits to garnish the plate, or just eat them.  It’s a lot like a pear salad, but more filling and you can eat it on the go.  Nom nom, type type, checking the email.

December has been a rough month.  I don’t feel the need to go into details here, but suffice to say there was a death in my family and there were concerns that there would be more than one death.  I’m glad it turned out to be only the one, and I’m glad I got to see her a few days before she left us.

My original plan for this month’s post was my favorite books of 2015, but I’m a little sick right now and I don’t have the stamina to work on that.  So, here’s a few links to recipes I’m planning to make this week:

Glazed maple mustard tempeh with collards.  It sounds weird, but it’s totally tasty.  I’m using kale instead of collard greens though, and twice the garlic 🙂

Also, because I’m sick, here’s a recipe for traditional hot toddies, and rum toddies.

That’s all for now.  I’m gonna take a nap.