Category Archives: favorite things

memorial day 2014 bigger is better

Confession–deadlines are looming and I’m supposed to be writing. What am I doing instead? Getting distracted by an ad for, of all things, giant lawn dice, because, you know, who doesn’t need a set of those? So as long as I’m in my crazy place I figured what the hell, let’s blog about giant things to supersize your Memorial Day gatherings this weekend.

Here we go. First up, the product that started me down this path of insanity…

GIANT YARD DICE

giant yard dice

Next, you’ve probably seen this on The Big Bang Theory, but it seems it actually exists…

GIANT JENGA!

Giant Jenga

And finally, what barbecue would be complete without these…

JUMBO GARDEN DOMINOS

JUMBO DOMINOS

Wishing everyone a safe unofficial launch to summer 2014! And if you’re looking to fill up your eReader or beach bag with hot summer reads, I had a new release this week (hint, hint). You can check it out at my site at (shameless plug) www.CatJohnson.net.

             Cat Johnson
 NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author

my favorite things: christmas gifts 2013

It’s kind of disturbing that Christmas is a mere three weeks away. There’s no time to wait. Love it or hate it, it’s time to shop for those gifts! Here are my favorite gift giving ideas for Christmas 2013. The best part? You can get them all without leaving the house.

GIFTS FOR THE BOOK LOVER

Wicked Witch Bookmark

An Etsy find, I’m giving these fun bookmarks this year along with a copy of the Wizard of Oz

GIFTS FOR THE MANLY MAN

Hand Grenade Paperweight

I own one for myself but what man wouldn’t appreciate such a unique desk accessory?!

GIFTS FOR EVERYONE

Joe Boxer Kmart Christmas Ad

Young, old, male, female, many on my list will get Joe Boxer PJs in support of the daring and controversial choice KMart made in airing my favorite ad this season! Watch it on YouTube.

Happy shopping!

Cat Johnson

my favorite things: the beach edition

Getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to the beach in Rhode Island and I thought what a perfect time for another favorite things post–the summer beach vacation edition.

Reef Bottle Opener Flip Flops

In case you’ve doubted it before, yes, I am one cool chick to have around. I can even open your beer on the beach with my shoe with these Reef flip flops! The bottle opener is built right into the sole.

IPhoneCase

A waterproof iPhone case! And it comes in pretty pink for girls. No, I’m not going swimming with my brand spanking new iPhone, no matter what the manufacturer says, but for sand and spill protection, I think this case will do just fine. Picture it–the iPhone stashed safely in the cup holder in the arm of my folding chair. Ooops! Oh no! I spilled my drink in the cup holder! What will I do? Never fear, the phone is safe in the waterproof case. And yes, I’m guilty of stashing my phone in my boobs, and sweat happens to the best of us in the summer…so this will be good for that too! 😉

Limeritas

My new favorite summer drink in a can, perfect for the cooler when you don’t want a beer on the beach. Try a Limerita! Made by Bud, it’s literally a margarita in a can! Comes in original Lime or Strawberry. 8% alcohol.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now. What’s your favorite things for the beach?

gifts for the writer

Deadlines wait for no man. Neither do holidays. So yes, I am one stressed writer as both loom before me, which inspired me to blog. Well, the stress did, as well as a blog post by the brilliantly irreverent Chuck Wendig “25 Gifts For Writers“.

Do you have a stressed writer in your life? Or hell, anyone who works from home. Here is my quick and dirty list of what my personal experience in this area has taught me they would love to receive.

A new mug. It must be big. Giant. Huge. Because I am too lazy to keep going to the coffee pot, or the tea kettle, to refill it. I will however, walk down to the microwave to reheat the contents–hey, I need some exercise, right? One year I saw a mug that said “What deadline?” on it. I didn’t buy it. I have regretted that decision every day since then. Just saying…

A fun new wine glass, perhaps holiday themed, because when it’s too late in the day for caffeine, this particular writer switches to alcohol. Of course, it goes without saying, that a nice accompaniment for the wine glass would be a fabulous bottle of wine to go with it. Possibly with a very fun name. My friend once bought a bottle of Writer’s Block wine. Brilliant gift, if you can find a bottle of that send it on over.

Daytime PJs. You know I’m not getting dressed just to sit in the house alone with the cats and write. Who has the energy or time for that? I will however change from my nighttime PJs to what I call my daytime PJs–some sort of comfy pull-on lounging pants with a big warm cozy sweater. That way I can be comfortable to sit and write all day, but if the man in brown comes a’knocking at the back door bearing gifts in his UPS truck, I can answer the door without feeling embarrassed. Oh, and an update for those who were following the saga of my writing sweater–I bit the bullet and threw out my very favorite holey black writing sweater. But, lo and behold, and thanks to a Black Friday miracle, the store where I’d bought it years ago had a sale and free shipping, and I replaced the sweater with one the same style but in a lovely soft grey. That’s the good news. The bad news is that since getting it, I have spent far too much time and money online buying new lounging pants and a tank top to match it. But hey, it is my work uniform, right?

A throw. While in my chair trying to write, I get hot, and then I get cold. Then I fall asleep. In any event, the perfect thing is a nice BIG soft throw that I can wrap around me when I need, use just to cover my feet if they’re cold, or toss it completely off me if need be–you’d be surprised how much heat 2 cats and a laptop can generate.

And finally (I’m almost embarrassed to write this but I will anyway)–a fake fireplace. Now, if you have a natural gas hookup in the house and a few thousand dollars to hire a plumber to run a gas line, you can install a lovely gas one. If you are cheap, as I am, you can buy this gorgeous electric one at Walmart for $129 with 97 cent shipping. I have to say, my writing lair is so lovely since I bought this thing that I never want to leave it! Yes, we have a perfectly nice real fireplace in the house. It’s downstairs and requires wood like every hour, and cleaning every week, and I’m too lazy for that, hence my totally portable fireplace that turns on with a flip of a switch. It makes me happy. Don’t judge.

So there you go–my suggestions for the writer or any other type of shut-in you may know. Have a wonderful holiday!

Cat

city sidewalks, busy sidewalks

The city most famous for its giant Christmas tree, skating rink and holiday windows has now brought Christmas to Broadway in a huge way. Three shows, on limited runs for the holiday season, bring three of my personal favorite Christmas stories to life. A Christmas Story, Elf, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas–all a must-watch for me, usually more than once, every single year.

It’s no secret I don’t love the sunless, godless city of Manhattan, but for Christmas I will venture down. There’s something magical about New York during the holidays. The shops all decked out, inside and out in greens, bows and lights. Though my friends like to drive in and valet the car at the theater, I prefer taking the train into Grand Central. That way you can walk past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the amazing window display at Sak’s, past Radio City Music Hall and the big tree and ice skaters at Rockefeller Center, on your way to Times Square and Broadway.

You have to do the city on foot so you don’t miss a thing. None of the little gems sparkling in the window of Cartier or Tiffany’s. Or the aroma of the nuts roasting in the vendors’ carts. The sounds of the bells on the carriage horses in the streets and the park. Or the thrill of haggling with a street vendor over the purchase of a scarf. Yes, it’s cold. The wind whips through those concrete canyons like nowhere else, but it’s all part of the experience to bundle up and have a cold, red nose. It makes you even more appreciative to duck into a restaurant and enjoy a hot meal and glass of red wine.

This is the city at its best that even a die-hard suburbanite like me can appreciate, and if you’re in town, don’t you dare miss it.

Cat

A Christmas Story on Broadway

Elf the Broadway Musical

Grinch the Musical

how many sleeps til christmas?! part 2 -gifts for the foodie

I had so much fun putting together the post with the list of gift ideas for the writer in your life last week, I decided to make another, but this time for the food/drink lover in your life. So here you go…get out your Christmas lists and credit cards!

Bacon KeychainBACON!

Everyone loves bacon, right? And I heard a horrible rumor that there may be a shortage due to weather and failing crops that were needed to feed the pigs… I don’t know, it’s all too horrible to think about, so let’s move on to the gift for the bacon lover! How about a key chain proclaiming your love for both that someone special in your life, and bacon? Courtesy of Etsy.com and WhiteLilieDesigns.

Lobster Print~

LOBSTER, anyone?

How about framing this print for a unique item of kitchen decor?

A beautiful antique lobster image, printed on a vintage dictionary page from Black Baroque on Etsy. They have tons of other designs as well.

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Trader Vic's Book o Food & Drink

TRADER VIC

I’ve just recently read about Trader Vic’s history and it’s pretty amazing. More than that, so is his famed dark rum which I also just tasted for the first time.rum_dark

Buying this cookbook for my husband was a no brainer and I’m at this very moment holding in my hand the original 1946 printing of Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink, available on Amazon, and it is totally cool.

Imagine how happy a gift of a bottle and the book would make the rum/food lover in your life.

Any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

Cat

there’s how many sleeps til christmas!? gifts for the writer

I keep seeing these Tweets from @santa_claus, things such as the below…

Santa Tweets…and quite honestly, it’s giving me anxiety.

Didn’t we just have Christmas? Wasn’t I just stressed out over having no time to put up a tree like a month or two ago? Apparently not since October is upon us, and then November and Thanksgiving, and then it’s all downhill from there. So in an effort to stay ahead, I already have gifts falling out of my closet where they are dangerously stacked on top of my boxes of promo for next year’s conferences.

So in the spirit of holiday giving and keeping my sanity, I bring you this year’s edition of Christmas gift idea for writers, all found at Etsy.com

My Pen Is Huge print

Typewriter print

Pencil Scarf

Drink Quote Coasters

Writer's Banner & Prompt Dice

Book Purse - Shakespeare

bourbon!

September 2012 has been declared National Bourbon Heritage Month in Kentucky by the state governor. I read that little tidbit on the Bourbon Blog because, you know, I like to keep abreast of important happenings in the world. Now I don’t live in Kentucky but I’m never opposed to celebrating! Besides, I just happen to have developed a few bourbon recipes recently.

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You see I was going to New Orleans, to Bourbon Street to be exact, and partaking in an author pub crawl at the Bourbon Cowboy for Authors After Dark to promote my cowboy series. Of course, that called for some Buckin’ Good Bourbon Drink Recipes, did it not? So I consulted my favorite liquor store, told the man what I was doing, and I loaded up my cart with ingredients I thought might make a good drink. Having tended bar for more years than I’d like to admit I knew flavors and brands pretty well for the liqueurs, but I needed some advice on the bourbon. He steered me to Evan Williams brand, saying it had a lighter flavor than some others and would mix better for my experiment. Then I went home, cracked open all the bottles, lined up a bunch of glasses and started to mix. This was about 2PM, keep in mind, so by the time the husband arrived home that evening from work, I was slumped in the bed but I was excited, because lined up on the table I had three drinks I was pretty sure were pretty damn good. And beneath each glass I had a note with what I’d put in them because by then I was a little loopy and was afraid I’d forget.

*

He agreed the drinks were tasty! Now I’m not saying no one has ever mixed these alcohols in this particular combo before. They probably have. I’m just saying these combos are personally tasted and found to be very drinkable by me, and I’m not a bourbon drinker generally so you know they must be good. So in honor of Bourbon Month and the release of my next cowboy book FLANKED in just over a week, I bring you my cowboy-inspired bourbon drinks.

Enjoy!
Cat Johnson


CAT’S NUTTY COWBOY
1 part Bourbon
1 part Frangelico® Hazelnut Liqueur
Serve over ice
Variation: Add to hot coffee and cream for Nutty Cowboy Coffee

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CAT’S BUCKIN’ BOURBON
1 part Bourbon
1 part Kahlua® Coffee Liqueur
Serve over ice
Variation: Add hot coffee and cream for coffee with a kick

~

CAT’S SMOOTH TALKIN’ COWBOY
1 part Bourbon
1 part Dark Creme de Cocoa
Serve over ice
Variation: Add hot coffee and cream for a chocolately treat


my favorite things: york

This is absolutely random, totally out of the blue and probably stems from the fact my work-in-progress is dragging at a sloth-like pace and my brain is rebelling, but I LOVE YORK. The city in Great Britain, that is. I was there about 20 years ago and I would move there in a heartbeat. Any rich men out there who want to make me a kept woman in York, email me!

What brought this up? A tweet (I was procrastinating on Twitter rather than writing) about an article about UK’s first reading cafe opening in York.

That single tweet brought to mind all my memories of my visit so long ago. The history. The architecture. The quaintness. The seemingly ancient city walls. The old inn we found a room in for the night. The food-one of the best meals I’ve ever had was in York (and England isn’t known for its cuisine in my mind).

I fell in love with that city and I’d love to go back to visit. Even better, I’d love to rent a place and hide out there for six months or a year. Writing. Living. Soaking it all in. Why not? I can work anywhere. All I need is a way to write-laptop, iPad, pen and paper. Okay, in this day and age things move a little faster in publishing than in, let’s say, Hemingway’s time, so I’d probably need internet once in a while too, for edits, correspondence with publishers, promo hoing, etc. But otherwise, I could pick up, pack a bag and be gone, and still earn a perfectly good living…

Hmm, if you don’t see me for awhile, I may have just done it. Don’t worry, I’ll send you all a tweet!

Cat

my favorite things: stevia

Okay, I will freely admit that I hated Stevia the first time I tasted it. I’m not all that in love with its natural flavor now, to me it tastes like licorice and unless it’s alcoholic as in Sambuca, I don’t want licorice in my coffee. But I am slowly getting used to natural Stevia flavor the more I use it.

But the vanilla-flavored liquid Stevia I bought–OMG! What a difference some vanilla makes. I bought it as a non-calorie, all natural sweetener for hot coffee but I’ve ended up making the most delicious iced tea and iced coffee I’ve ever tasted in my life. And it’s healthy, and it’s not fattening. How can you go wrong? So now, instead of mixing powdered chemicals with water for my diet iced

tea, I boil a kettle of water, throw in a few teabags, sweeten with a squeeze of vanilla stevia and chill. It’s so tasty it’s like having a treat. And when I have leftover coffee in the pot, I put that in the fridge too, then add half and half and a squeeze of vanilla stevia and viola! My husband said it’s as good as the flavored iced coffee people pay a lot of money for at certain coffee shops we all know and love to hate. AND as I said before, no calories (except for that found in the half and half) and all natural (so my friend will stop yelling at me for using Splenda).

What is Stevia? My understanding is it’s a naturally growing plant but let’s turn to the all knowing Wikipedia for clarification.

220px-Stevia_rebaudiana_flowers Here’s a picture of the Stevia flower. Pretty, no? Now I like it even more! Here’s what Wiki says… “Stevia is in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleafsweet leafsugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.”

I see it is also sold in chocolate flavor, which I’m very tempted to try for a Mocha Iced Coffee at home. There is also an Orange flavor which would probably be amazing added to sweeten whipped cream, though I guess the cream defeats the purpose of the low calorie sweetener. There’s also Root Beer, that I’m not so excited over but to each his own. I suppose it would be good in plain seltzer water for an all natural, low-calorie alternative to soda. Hmmm…..

So give it a try. It seems pricey but I paid under $10 for a bottle and I literally use only drops at a time. Perfect for summer, enjoy some Vanilla Iced Tea or Coffee without the guilt!