Feb 16

D’s Biscuits

Posted by holly in recipes

After many years of saying “I can’t make biscuits”, I recently discovered that, yes, I actually can. All the thanks go to Derrick, my favorite foodie/librarian/partner in crime. This flawless biscuit recipe comes courtesy of Derrick’s test kitchen.


Plate O'Biscuits2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
3/4-1 c. cold, well-shaken buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 c. whole milk yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche
melted butter for brushing tops after baking

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, set aside.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together and then grate the frozen butter into the bowl with the dry mix. Set bowl in freezer while preparing the wet ingredients.
  3. Whisk 3/4 cup of buttermilk, egg, and 1/4 cup of yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche together in a small bowl. Set aside remaining buttermilk.
  4. Get flour mixture from freezer and gently combine butter with the flour. Add buttermilk mixture and GENTLY mix until just combined. Lightly knead until it becomes a solid mass, and if you need to add remaining buttermilk so that the mixture isn’t dry, do so in little bits and dribbles.
  5. Dump out mass onto a floured counter and pat out into a rectangle about 3/4 of an inch thick. Fold like a letter (thirds) and pat out again. Repeat one more time (you don’t want to handle it TOO much because the dough will get tough). Be sure to flour your hands too ’cause the dough is sticky.
  6. After final pat, cut biscuits out. Push STRAIGHT down. Don’t twist. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.

Makes 9-12 biscuits, depending on what size you make them.

Biscuit with Peach Blossom Honey


Dec 29

best music of 2013, according to holly

Posted by holly in music

it’s been a while, but the time has come again! here is the best of the best, according to me.

1. Peachtree Battle – Butch Walker






Did you really think my #1 would be anyone else? If so, you haven’t been paying attention. ;)

5 songs and 18 minutes of pure perfection, full of emotion. Every time I think I have a favorite picked out, one of the others taps me on the shoulder and shakes its head. I always know it’s time to turn it on when I am hearing the complete songs playing in my head over and over. IT’S A SIGN. One of my favorite parts, and it has been since the first time I listened to it, is the drums from BW and drummer extraordinaire Mark Stepro on Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To is the perfect, crisp drum sound I expect from a Butch Walker production, and what it should always sound like. I had the chance to hear these live in September in ATL a week after Butch’s father passed away, and that was clearly the musical highlight of my year, and definitely in the top 5 for all-time. Super emotional show, but so, so amazing. The Marvelous 3 encore was a nice bonus too, though that meant I yet again missed hearing “Hot Girls” live. NEXT TIME, WALKER.

2. Last of the Great Pretenders – Matt Nathanson






2013 was the year I discovered Matt Nathanson. How I had been living under a rock this long, I have no idea. In a way, I am glad though, because to me, this is clearly his best album yet, so I am starting at a good point. It is great pop/rock from start to finish, my favorite tune being Kinks Shirt. I also saw Matt live in Portland a few weeks after seeing Butch, just a short time after discovering this album, and that was a treat. His live show is definitely as good, if not better, than his recorded music, which isn’t always the case. Plus, he is funny as hell and is a total metalhead. How can I not like him?! I look forward to more great music from Matt.

3. The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs

winery dogs





I knew as soon as this supergroup was formed that I would be a huge fan. I predicted then that this would be one of my top albums of the year, and The Winery Dogs did not disappoint. Just a straightforward awesome rock album from Richie Kotzen (longtime highly underrated favorite), Billy Sheehan, and Mike Portnoy. All amazing musicians in their own right, but they melded together to make something even better. It may just be my bias showing, but this album felt most similar to a Richie Kotzen album, though you could definitely hear the others in the music. But a lot of the songs just felt like RK songs, which is totally okay by me, because he writes fantastic songs.  I rounded out the amazing month of live music this past October by seeing this band (see Butch, even they can come to Portland. WHY CAN’T YOU? no, I’m not bitter, not at all). It was so, so good, for many reasons: got to see them in a really cool new-to-me venue (The Star Theater), Portnoy was a beast (and kind of a primadonna and THE STAR), plus I finally got to see Richie Kotzen live, which was a total Bucket List event, and they played some of my all-time favorite RK songs. *swoon*

4. Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy






Let me tell you, if you had ever told me a FOB album would show up on a best-of list of mine, I’d have laughedsnorted in your face. But then Butch Walker got ahold of them and spun them into gold. I love everything about this album (well, except for the Courtney Love. meh.). My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) is what hooked me, The Phoenix is my favorite pre-run (or pre-anything) motivation song, and Save Rock and Roll. oh, Save Rock and Roll – THIS SONG. If you hear reports of someone losing their voice from singing this song so loud in the car, it’s likely me. Put that one on repeat.

5. Gravel & Wine – Gin Wigmore






yeah, yeah, cementing my #ravingfangirl status by including another album with the Butch Walker touch. WHATEVS. Normally, a voice like Gin’s is a total turn-off for me, so it’s a testament to the BW touch (songs co-written and produced) that I even liked this album at all. The songs make all the difference. Black Sheep is the biggest earworm.

Mar 24

On A Bender

Posted by holly in recipes

So my new favorite hobby is making liqueurs. I made some awesome Bärenjäger (aka Honey Badger) last year and decided to try my hand at a coffee liqueur next.

I looked at so many recipes online SO MANY, but decided to do a variation on the Serious Eat’s DIY Coffee Liqueur recipe. I used Stumptown’s Hair Bender, one of my favorite coffees, for the cold brew. I think that really helped it. The coffee taste is very smooth.

On A Bender


1/2 c. fine ground coffee

4 1/2 c. water, divided

2 c. dark brown sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 1/2 c. light rum

1 1/2 c. vodka


  1. Cold brew the coffee by combining the grounds and 2 1/2 cups of the water into a sealable glass jar, shaking it, then refrigerating the mixture for at least 12 hours. Strain through a coffee filter into another sealable glass jar.
  2. Combine the sugar and 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let this syrup cool to room temperature. IMPORTANT. You must let it cool.
  3. Add cooled syrup, vanilla bean, rum, and vodka to the glass jar that contains the coffee. Let that mixture steep for at least 3 days (I left mine alone for 2 1/2 weeks), then remove the vanilla bean and bottle the liqueur.

So I thought I would throw together a little list of my “best of” for music for this year. If you are at all familiar with me and my music tastes, much of this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

1. Butch Walker and the Black Widows – The Spade I mean, come on. Who else would be #1? I didn’t think there was any way for Butch to top 2010’s “I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart”, but he managed to do it. There is flat-out not a bad song on this album. I thought about trying to list my favorites, but they all are, for different reasons. I honestly listen to this nearly every day. And Butch and the Widows live? unreal. They just blew me away.

Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams2. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire I picked up my first Ryan Adams album (Heartbreaker) a couple years back after seeing a librarian friend mention him a bunch. I liked it but never really listened to it a whole lot. I ran across Ashes and Fire and was totally hooked from the first listen. I’ve gone back to listen to more of his past work, and I don’t know how I never picked up on him before now. It’s all a matter of timing, I think. The whole album is great, but “Lucky Now” is the standout track, in my eyes. er, ears.

The King is Dead by the Decemberists3. The Decemberists – The King is Dead  To me, this is just straight-up Decemberists. Another album that doesn’t have a bad song on it. Like The Spade and Ashes & Fire, this is an album I can listen to on repeat with no qualms. I really need to get around to seeing them live at some point (she says, sort of embarrassed, since she lives in PDX where they are also from.).

21 by Adele4. Adele – 21  Some songs on this album got way overplayed this year, but with good reason – they are just some damn good songs. She’s got a great voice and most of the time it shines. Favorites: Rolling in the Deep and Rumour Has It. Skip It: Lovesong (I love covers, but this is meh) and Someone Like You (she hits this sour note near the end of the song that just ruins it for me; she seems to have corrected this during some live versions I’ve heard, but… ugh.)

Sweeter by Gavin DeGraw5. Gavin DeGraw – Sweeter I’d heard Gavin’s name mentioned here and there, but never his music. I’d heard about Sweeter because Butch produced a couple of the songs on it, so I listened to a few samples of some of the songs and was immediately hooked. I do appear to be in an indie singer-songwriter phase and this fits in there perfectly. My favorite (at least today) is probably the title track. Hook-y, soulful good stuff.

Honorable Mentions:

Panic! at the Disco – Vices and Virtues I can listen to “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” endlessly

Fran Capitanelli – Kave Talk  Fran is the guitarist in Butch’s band, and his solo stuff is fantastic too

Ponderosa – Moonlight Revival Just good Southern rock/country-ish stuff

This is was actually easier to come up with than i thought it would be. I spend so much time discovering new music that isn’t actually new that I had a much smaller pool to pick from.

I am an obsessive scrobbler, so feel free to follow me on last.fm and see what I listen to next year.

Jan 20

Be-All End-All Mac and Cheese

Posted by holly in recipes

I love me some mac and cheese. Most mac and cheese doesn’t pass muster with me, and this recipe might have something to do with that. I tweaked a few different recipes and experimented until I settled on this tasty concoction.

Holly’s Traditional Mac and Cheese

Be-All End-All Mac and Cheese

from hollysuewho on flickr

3 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 1/2 c. milk
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. dry mustard (opt.)
A few shakes of hot sauce (I use Crystal; opt.)
4 c. cheddar cheese, shredded – I usually use a mix of sharp white and medium cheddar (I prefer Tillamook, but will grudgingly recommend Cabot also)
2 c. pasta of choice, cooked and drained (being a traditionalist, I use large elbow macaroni)

Optional Topping:

1 T. butter, melted
2 T. bread crumbs/panko

Melt 3 T.butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour and salt; cook and stir for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and then pepper, dry mustard, and hot sauce; stir constantly until thickened. Add shredded cheese (reserve 1/2 c. or so for topping) and stir until cheese is melted.

Mix pasta and cheese sauce in 2 qt.casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. For topping: mix melted butter with bread crumbs and sprinkle on the top.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Optional Add-ins:

Cubed ham
Crumbled bacon
Slices of smoked sausage/kielbasa
Corn (it sounds weird, but it’s gooooood)

Butch Walker’s new album, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, is streaming on the web before the official release date. Check it out here:


I woke up raring to go today, so after a trip to work complete with car-dancing and a stop at Starbucks, I was ready to work.

First off was finishing this month’s orders. I saved the best for last – the 600s! This is always my favorite section. So much variety, and so much of it is really popular with patrons. Some random selections from what I ordered today:

After that, I processed my patron requests for the week. They have become a lot more manageable this year since we cut down the number of active ILL requests patrons can have (yes, right now everything goes through ILL. we’re working on a system to have purchase requests be submitted separately). I have had almost half as many as I used to have. What used to take me a good half of the day or longer now takes just a couple hours.

After lunch, I took care of the last couple stragglers in the Extensive Searching/Nancy Drew ILLiad queue, fixing titles and saying no can do.

The rest of the afternoon is spent with email and gathering info and documents to start compiling info for my sections of our draft collection development plan. Getting going on this is one of our big goals for the year. I’m looking at what another couple libraries have done and also pulling some from our weeding guidelines. Our plan is going to explain, in general terms, what our guiding principles and processes are for developing the library collection. This will be one of those documents that is continually evolving, but you have to start somewhere, so we’re trying to get something down on paper. I think this is going to be a really good process. We’ll be getting input from our branch staff once we get a draft. I think it will really help all of us to be on the same page. And I really like the idea of more transparency with our patrons on how/what we buy.

And on that note, it is the weekend and time to RELAX. Thanks for checking this out. I really plan to post more. I swear.

Thursday. I love Thursday. It’s almost Friday! :)

Had scads of email when I got in. Delete, delete, delete. Peered into the twitterscope and Friendfeed and a couple library blogs – fer reals! I read actual library blogs. I know, right?

Had a pow-wow with my supervisor and co-worker, talking about the meeting re: floating yesterday. A debriefing, of sorts. Can I just say, I love the people I work with? Our vision and attitudes in regards to our collection are so in sync. We just work well together. that, and we are all awesome. :)

So I finished up the cart of 700s I started yesterday afternoon. Cart wrangling can be sort of tedious, mostly because of the TitleSource interface. [don’t even get me started on the UI nightmare that is TitleSource3. I will go on for days.] For the bigger areas, I have multiple carts (divided either by Dewey subcategories or broad subjects) for titles I want to purchase. When it comes time to buy, I have to move the ones I want to buy into a new cart, but it’s all a guessing game at that point, because I haven’t always pre-determined how many copies of everything I will buy. So I make a best guess and see how close that is to my target budget amount once I have everything allocated. Often I end up having to move some stuff back and save it for another month; once in a while, I’m under and it’s like Christmas. :)

My last cart of the month will be 600s. I tend to save it for last, because I often have many patron requests in this area, so those will chip away at my monthly budgeted amount, so it is just easier to wait and see how much is left.

Before tackling the float carts of the day, I had to stop and take ibuprofen. If I am going to have sore muscles post-exercise, it hits me about 20 hours later. The shoulders and arms got a workout yesterday at yoga, so there you go.

Big chunk of graphic novels to re-allocate today. Mostly Marvel. lots of juvenile nonfiction too, so good news for the new library, which is looking for more. :)

And thus we have another day down in the non-stop-thrill-a-minute life of this collection development librarian.

Today was not terribly exciting or different from any other day.

I spent a good chunk of the morning getting a cart of 900s ready to purchase. The hardest part of buying books is always deciding which ones to buy, since there’s never enough money to buy everything you want. It’s especially tight right now because we’re tweaking our budget year and trying to stretch our budgets. not an unusual thing these days. Right now, my criteria is:

  1. Books I have noted to get asap to fill a particular hole or a new edition of a current title, then
  2. Books with favorable reviews
  3. Other books that sound interesting (though there are fewer of those thrown in these days).

It’s definitely not a precise science. The 900s always have LOTS in the #1 category because of all the travel guides. We’re putting a bunch more on standing order when our new budget year starts in a few months, so that will help a whole lot. This batch included quite a few local travel guides, which are definitely in demand.

We had our monthly Collection Confabulation meeting, which is a brown bag lunch discussion we hold here. Every month is a different topic, and we invite branch staff down to talk about collection stuff. Today’s discussion was on floating, so we had many more attending than usual. It was a good discussion, and I think we got some good ideas out of it on how we can continue to tweak things and make the system work for everyone.

Speaking of floating, in the afternoon, I cleared out two more carts of float books to be distributed, armed with my new knowledge of what people want/don’t want. I actually feel a bit better about weeding some of the areas I don’t select, like YA fiction, so that part was easier too.

I also started getting a 700s cart ready to go and will finish that up tomorrow.

Like I said, not a whole lot of new or different today. I left work and went to my much-needed yoga class, which didn’t seem to aggravate my elbow that has been bothering me (not too much, at least), so that was also a good thing. Getting old sucks. And we did some awesome assisted wheel poses, so I was happy. That’s my favorite pose (yes, I know. I’m weird).

Then I came home, had dinner, and wrote this post. The End.

Fun morning!

First thing was a trip to the dentist – just for a cleaning, luckily. I bet you are jealous though, right?

Then, since I was in the neighborhood for the dentist appointment, I stopped in to order a new pair of glasses, since it’s a new year and they are covered by insurance. I, uh, may have a problem when it comes to glasses. This is what I chose:

Menizzi 1081 glasses

Eventually, I found myself at work. Checked email and the usual web locales. Dealt with a few more staff/patron suggestions and set aside a printout of a couple catalog records that appear to be the same book to give to the head of Tech Svcs.  The physical inbox is EMPTY (well, it isn’t anymore, but for a couple hours, it was!).

Got a response back from a patron on one of the ILL requests I was working on. Realized the simple article request was really a full-blown reference question that needed some research. Tweeted something to that effect, which went to Facebook, and got a response from one of the Information Services staff to send it to them – which is exactly what I was planning to do!  We connected later and the request is now in their virtual hands.

I need to figure out the best way to keep up with the review journals. Now that I have such a significant portion of the adult nonfiction, it’s a bit harder to keep up. Right now, I am still looking at the paper copies as they come through. It’s sort of working, but really easy for me to get behind if I get too busy with other stuff. I can get them through TitleSource, but I am finding that more cumbersome to deal with right now than the dead tree versions. Pondering, pondering, pondering…

Finished off the rest of the Nancy Drew queue in ILLiad.

Sorted out the last of yesterday’s Float cart and grabbed another. a big chunk of this one is actually one of my areas – the 200’s (religion). a fair amount of things to weed this time.

and that was all she wrote for Tuesday. I am pretty sure there was some other stuff in there today, but… oh well.  Time to relax for the evening.