Saturday, December 31, 2011

A "Series-so-far" Review: Song of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin

This series is definitely the best thing I read in 2011. 
Possibly the best thing I've read in a decade.

I have not been so enamored with either a single book or a series of books since I started reading Harry Potter over 10 years ago. Seriously, I cannot say enough amazing things about these books.When I rated them on my Goodreads account I gave them the following:

Game of Thrones - 5/5 stars
Clash of Kings - 5 stars
Storm of Swords - 5 stars
Feast for Crows - 4 stars
Dance with Dragons - 4 stars

To be completely honest, if I was simply reviewing the series against itself and not against other books, I would say that Game was a 4/5, Clash and Storm were 5/5, and Feast and Dance were 3.5/5...mainly because the first novel of course spends a lot of time setting the stage for this epic saga, while the second and third novels are just purely amazing. The first three books were all published within about two years of each other, starting in 1996, whereas the time period between Storm's publication and that of Feast was 5 years! And another six years passed after that, before Dance was published! Let's just say that I can only hope Martin sticks with his original book-every-two-years schedule for the sixth book in the series, because I don't know what I'll do with myself if I have to wait five or six years for another installment. Thank God I didn't discover these until recently (never thought I'd hear myself say that).

Seriously this series. The books are long, yes, but Martin really does have a way with characters and descriptions that makes the lengths worth it. His creations - both the land of Westeros and the people - have so many dimensions that sometimes it's hard to keep up, but that makes it all the more amazing. Just do yourself a favor - don't make the mistake I did and try to look up something online to clarify, because there are a lot of ASOIAF fans out there and they don't seem to understand the term "spoiler alert".

Oh, and make sure to at least read the first book before you watch season 1 of the HBO show, which yes, is based on the novel and is also pretty freaking amazing.

I wish I felt comfortable giving more info on Martin's writing style and the books themselves, but anything else I would say would possibly give things away and I absolutely do NOT want to do that. I delved into these novels with practically no idea what they were about, other than that they were in the "fantasy" genre - thankfully they are not such crazy fantasy that I couldn't stand it; they're more realistic than one would expect and that is part of their draw. And going in not really knowing anything about them definitely made them that much more amazing. Trust me. So, I've said it a few times and I'll say it again...just read these books, okay? ;)

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Fun Video of my 2011 Pictures!

So I've kind of been at a loss as to what to write about lately, but this seemed like a fun little thing to post!

I got this idea from Katie over at the secret life of Katie. You can go here to make your own video, if you want :)

I will say that it gave me a choice of two songs, but then when the site created the video it used the song that I *didn't* choose. Not sure what's up with that, but oh well. Also, the pictures that it took are all from albums in the August-December time range, not sure why. But there's lots of Europe in that vid, and some Vegas, and then some random stuff from here at home. More than I would ever have time to post in this blog, for sure. Enjoy! Pin It

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A perfect Christmas Eve...featuring about 12 hours of Lord of the Rings!

Because the only family Steve and I have here in South Carolina is mine, and we were spending Christmas Day with them, we had Christmas Eve to ourselves :) Therefore, a couple of weeks before the holiday we decided "What better way to spend Christmas Eve than hanging out at home and doing a movie marathon?!"

After some discussion, we figured that it had been nearly three years since our last Lord of the Rings marathon...which of course meant that the time was ripe :) Usually when we have movie marathons we just eat junk food and drink beer, but this time I wanted to do something a little different. So, being the cook that I am, I planned a menu. Thanks to the internet I found some LOTR themed recipes, and we made up a schedule.

First, the usual get out of bed and shower and dress...comfy clothes, of course, but I also donned my Evenstar necklace ;)

Sadly, I used to also have Galadriel's ring...but at some point it was lost. Probably during one of my moves, but it's possible the ring was stolen as well :-/ I suppose I'll never know.

Then, it was time for elevenses - Hobbit's Porridge - and Fellowship of the Ring!

Hobbit's Porridge didn't really require a recipe. We used real Quaker Oats cooked per the can's directions (*not* the instant kind) and chose our toppings from the cabinets. Maple Bourbon pecans, dried cranberries, brown sugar and some extra half and half for Steve (on the left) and brown sugar, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips for me (on the right)!

As a note, we don't skimp on our movie marathons - I have the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, whose running times are all nearly 4 hours. Once Fellowship was over we had a hearty snack...

Ten Cup Ranger Cookies
(for Rangers in the field with only one measuring cup, of course!)

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oats (Quaker oats)
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins or craisins**
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

-Preheat oven to 350. 
-Cream together butter and sugars, add peanut butter and eggs, beat until well combined. Add oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, and nuts, stirring after each. Stir in flour. 
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; drop cookie dough onto it using a large spoon and bake for 15-17 minutes.

As a note, I don't really care for most nuts and I really don't like fruit in cookies. Therefore, as the original recipe said that you could mix and match the chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, oats, and coconut - so long as the total was 5 cups - I actually used 1 cup coconut, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup milk chocolate chips, and 2 cups oats.)

Partway through our viewing of The Two Towers, we decided that it was finally *that* time.

"It comes in PINTS?!" - Pippin

Of course, ale and cookies couldn't sustain us all day, so we did end up pausing the second movie about two-thirds of the way through to feast on Balin's Spiced Beef with Roasted Taters & Onions!

Balin's Spiced Beef
4-5 lb bottom round roast or similar cut of beef
Dry red wine
Apple juice (I used Simply Apple)
One or two sliced white onions
1/2 a bay leaf
1 tsp. each of cinnamon and allspice
1/2 t. cloves
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper

-Place the beef in a large covered glass roasting dish. Coat with the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper and surround with the sliced onions. Fill the dish with half red wine and half apple juice and add the bay leaf.
-Cover and let marinate in the fridge 12 hrs. or more. When you're ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place the covered dish in the oven and simmer for 3-4 hours (my roast was actually 3.83 pounds and 3 hours was the perfect amount of time).

Roasted Taters-n-Onions

 6 – 8 Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
2 white onions, cut into chunks
⅓ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter, melted
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt

-Preheat oven to 450. 
-Combine all ingredients in large roasting pan. Toss well. Bake until potatoes are crisp and golden brown, stirring occasionally, for about 60 minutes.

To be honest I was a bit concerned about the beef - many of those spices seemed kind of strange to be mixing with beef (not to mention the apple juice...) But in the end all of these recipes were delicious! I won't hesitate to make any of them again...LOTR marathon or not ;)

Sadly, between dinner and walking the dogs and some friends stopping over to hang out for a bit, we didn't really get into Return of the King until well after 9 PM. In the end we didn't finish our marathon until nearly 2 AM! Many pints of ale were consumed and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I have to say, if you've never seen the extended editions of these movies you're definitely missing out. And with that, I'll leave you with one of my favorite added scenes...this one from the extended edition of Return of the King. Every time I see it I get totally psyched by Aragorn's badassery.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have a Forever Lazy Christmas!

When I first saw the commercial for the Forever Lazy, I knew that I had to have one. Thanks to my sister Christy, I received one as a Christmas gift and now I'm going to gift all of you with pictures of all the fun things you can do in a Forever Lazy! This may or may not be the first of a "look what you can do in a Forever Lazy" series of posts. Just saying.

After unwrapping what was probably the best Christmas present I received, first things first I had to put it on!

And who cares if I look like a giant pink blob! Who cares if the Forever Lazy makes me look over twice as wide as I actually am! Because it is warm and comfy and FUN :D

I mean really, who can argue with this? You can unwrap presents in your Forever Lazy!

...or you can carve a roast in your Forever Lazy!

I may look as wide as I am tall, but I'm toasty when I walk the dogs in my Forever Lazy!

And because we weren't being swallowed up by our Snuggies backwards robes, my sister and I were able to eat Christmas dinner in our MATCHING Forever Lazies!

Look at how cute and warm my niece Ava and I are on her first Christmas...she in her fleece onesie and me in - you guessed it - my Forever Lazy!

That's all I've got for now, but if it makes you feel better at the moment I'm hanging out on my couch as I write this blog, with a cat in my lap and Ben Hur on TV...and yup, I'm still wearing my Forever Lazy!

(See what I mean? Wouldn't this make a great series of posts? haha)
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Get ready for a few seriously geeky posts.

I know, I said that I wasn't going to be changing much in regards to the content of my blog, and I swear that I really meant it :) But the fact of the matter is, at the moment I'm at a loss as to what to write about, and we're planning a big day tomorrow that I just can't wait to post about, so between what I'm about to write and what I'll be posting soon after Christmas...yes, there will be a sort of barrage of geek stuff. Just for now.

Anyway, back in August 2010 I went to Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, which I've written about before - but I've really been trying to figure out how to make it to another conference. Celebration is returning to Orlando next August, but to be honest I wanted something different. I thought about Comic-Con, but I really don't have the money or vacation time to be flying out to San Diego next July. So...

That's right, Dragon*Con it is! Though much different than Comic-Con, it's also practically on my doorstep...and there are already a bunch of awesome guests scheduled! I resurrect the Juno Eclipse outfit, or maybe Luna Lovegood? Maybe figure out a Game of Thrones costume? Are any of these even Dragon*Con proper? Thankfully I have plenty of time to plan...and maybe learn to sew ;) Pin It

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

Bah Humbug Day!

Take a deep breath. Now rant about something.

The only thing I can really think of to rant about is actually completely my fault.

That being: I am so not into Christmas this year.

I don't like that I'm hating on Christmas, I swear. I didn't enjoy it when I was in high school, though I can't really remember why. Once I moved away from home and had my own Christmas tree, something snapped. I loved it. And I continued to love it.

Until this year, apparently.

The other day I posted about drinking Mimosas and spiked hot cocoa and watching Christmas movies, because I was trying, really trying, to get into the Christmas thing. I swear. Even after I'd delayed putting up and decorating our tree. Despite the fact that since I did so, all I can think about is the fact that I have to take it down and put all of those damn ornaments away, eventually. On top of that, in the past I've been the type of person who finished her Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving...not so, this year. The majority of it was done by the middle of the month, but I was grasping for gift ideas for my dad and finally just caved and picked up a couple things for him yesterday. Just five days before Christmas. Ugh.

For whatever reason, the season is just getting to me this year. Trying to figure out what to give everyone, trying to come up with the money to buy presents for my parents, sisters, nieces nephew and husband, getting six thousand emails a day about all the online Christmas sales (seriously, it never effing ends!), the crappy rainy weather we've been having, driving just about ANYWHERE this time of year, thinking "yay, I have a free weekend!" and then realizing that I've been invited to two or three different parties and have to pick and choose which one(s) to go to, giving up the idea of Christmas cards because they are so expensive to purchase and mail and then worrying that people will be upset that we didn't send any this year...the list goes on and on.

While we were watching Elf on Sunday (with three Mimosas in my belly), I was okay. Then we were trying to find movies to stream on Netflix and Steve insisted on this hour-long Christmas Classics...thing. I don't know what else to call it. We had a good laugh at "Santa's Surprise" but after that the shorts just grated on my nerves more and more.

After that we tried watching the claymation Rudolph but unfortunately for him, we were in a heckling mood. It was so very progressive for Rudolph's mom and girlfriend to go looking for him, you know, but then he movie had to take two steps back with this line: "Well, they are all very sad at the loss of their friend. But they realize that the best thing to do is to get the women back to Christmas Town." Gotta love the early 60s.

So there is my rant. This year, I am tired of Christmas and would just like for it to be over, please.

Now enjoy "Santa's Surprise" and the vast number of stereotypes that it covers.


You can even view the full hour-ish of "Christmas Classics Volume 1" here.

Don't say I didn't warn you, though. Pin It

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I'm actually only late with my confessions this week because the internetz went out this morning :) I guess that's not really a confession, buuut...whatever.

I confess...that I've actually been WRITING lately. I posted a few days ago that the reason I hadn't been updating my blog as much is because of my newfound obsession with the Song of Ice & Fire series, but that's only part of it. The other part is that I've been working on things that I would never post in my blog, stories and the like. And it feels good. And my writing comes before my blogging, always.

I confess...that I could not get out of bed this morning. I was supposed to get up at 7 and didn't until 7:25. No bueno. I used to be so good about jumping right out of bed when my alarm went off, but lately...I don't know.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Prep of a different sort ;)

Today I'm being lazy, but at the same time enjoying the Christmas season ;)

I'm wearing my snowman PJ pants that I bought at Old Navy 10 years ago (no lie). They are old and soft and wonderful. And a t-shirt from last year's 12 Bars of Christmas Pub Crawl. Steve and I bought champagne and OJ yesterday and we're enjoying Mimosas!

Aaand...Christmas movies! This one first, 'cause it's my favorite:


The champagne is sadly almost gone, but next up will be spiked hot cocoa...with Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka, of course! And then probably some more holiday movies of the claymation sort ;)

I hope everyone else is enjoying their weekend! Of course I'll post some this week, but I will also have one heck of a geek-centric post for y'all right after Christmas so keep an eye out. Pin It

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blogs from the past: 8/24/2004

Hello, faithful readers! (if any of you are still out there since I changed my blog name and address...haha) I apologize for my total lack of blogging lately. I wish I had a better excuse than "I'm obsessed with the Song of Ice & Fire series and am spending all my time reading the books and the wiki pages and searching for funny gifs relating to it"...but I don't. So here is a quick "blog from the past" to tide you over :) I was back and forth about whether to share this one, but I figured...what the heck. Basically I was in a bad mood one day and decided to bring up the three things I couldn't get used to about my [first] marriage, and on top of that we'd just "adopted" a new puppy. words speak for themselves, I'm sure ;)

Things I haven't gotten used to when it comes to being married:

3) Whether I want to be with him all the time, or have some time to myself. When he was leaving for work at 7:15 AM and not getting back until 6 PM, it was too long of a day by myself...but now that he's working out of the house, it just about drives me crazy that I'm not getting any alone time.

2) You think it's questionable what you should and shouldn't tell girlfriends when you have a BOYFRIEND. Apparently, once you get married, the majority of your girlfriends are rooting for you to fail and you can no longer tell them anything. I have to insert here that I absolutely love [name omitted] because she can listen to my issues, but she'll still sit there and say "You guys are a wonderful couple, the first couple years of marriage are hard but I know you'll get through them."

1) Business dinners. I'm 21, dammit, no, I don't really want to have dinner with the boss and his wife tonight. At least Jason's old boss was really cool, and younger. Not looking forward to sitting down for who knows how long with Jason's regional leader this evening. I'm just not.

Bad things about puppies:

3) They have to go to the bathroom every hour...or so it seems.

2) They have sharp little teeth. They might not be strong enough to break the skin, but they still hurt.

1) When you bring them home, all the other animals in the house get pissed at you for days...maybe even weeks. Or months. Who knows, we've only been through days so far.

Don't take the above lists as evidence that I hate being married or dislike our new pet. This is just the mood I'm in right now.

P.S. I still sometimes just want to be alone, I've never gotten used to or liked business/company parties or dinners, and above all I'm VERY closed about the negative parts of my relationship. Also, that was the last PUPPY I'll ever raise. I much prefer rescuing adult dogs, for those reasons and so many more ;) Pin It

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sending out my 20s in style...

No, no, I'm not 30. Not yet. Thankfully ;) Today I am 29, though, and yes it's a weird feeling. I mean, let's not lie - weekday birthdays suck when you're a grownup. I had to work yesterday, I have to work today, I have to work tomorrow. I did however celebrate my last 20s birthday in style on Saturday night, with a Roaring 20s themed party (appropriate, no?) at a bar downtown. We had a private room and special drinks and food and it was a ton of fun. Though the next morning wasn't an easy one...haha.
Maybe it was the tequila that did me in...
(And yes, I'll take any excuse to have a theme party!)

So because tonight is a weeknight, we'll have takeout (which we never do) so that I don't have to cook, and maybe I'll treat myself to a hot cocoa with Pinnacle Whipped vodka and read far too much of A Feast for Crows until it's time for bed :) Happy birthday to me!
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I have no idea why I ever ever EVER listened to Toby Keith by choice. Ugh.

I confess...that I have a thing for older men. I have for a while, in fact - when I was a manager at Disney I absolutely had crushes on two of my superiors who were both in the 45+ age range...and I was 23. (No, not people I worked with directly, in case anyone from Sunset reads this! haha) And I totally think that Brad Pitt in his 40s is way more attractive than young Brat Pitt, not to mention my love for Viggo Mortensen and half the actors in Game of Thrones. Sigh.

I confess...that I did a lot of confessing yesterday about my obsession with the Song of Ice and Fire series...and both before and after I posted yesterday's blog, I sat on my couch reading. All day. I'm not kidding, all I did yesterday was sit on my ass and read Storm of Swords...for about 10 or 11 hours. Oops?

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recipe Link Back!

Hello, readers! Hopefully I didn't lose a bunch of people by changing my blog link and all :) Sorry I've been away for the past few days, but I had a big party to plan and didn't have time for blogging. Well...that's a partial truth. The entire truth is that between planning last night's party and the fact that I literally can't put down the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, I haven't had time for blogging ;)

Anyway, so this is going to be a quick one because I'm still obsessing over Storm of Swords, and that's that.

It's fairly rare that I find a recipe and change nothing about it when I make it myself, so usually I have no qualms about posting my version of these meals on my blog...but as with a Tomato Fritters recipe I posted a couple of months ago, I got this recipe from Stacy at Every Little Thing and made it as she did. It's definitely tasty and a great different pasta dish, so try it out!

(As you can see, I served mine over pasta, though as Stacy says you can serve the shrimp and sauce over other things as well
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Big changes 'round here!

I started this blog a year ago last month, but to be honest I just haven't been feeling it recently. I struggle over what to write about/post and whatever theme or themes I was going for in the beginning never really stuck. The previous title was a mouthful, too: A Serendipitous Life? I had hoped that the happy connotations of the word "serendipitous" would overrule the fact that it might as well have been "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in terms of length and spelling...buuuut I don't think it did.

There's more to it than that, though. I was still ignoring the biggest part of myself - my geekiness. I mean, sure, I like dressing up (in cute outfits) sometimes. I like to party. I enjoy cooking and I think I'm pretty damn good at reflecting on my past [mistakes] and giving advice. To be honest, the more I thought about it the more I realized that not much in my life has been "serendipitous". I mean sure, there were a few things that happened that were "fortunate accidents" but by and large I've made my bed and I lie in it.

Content-wise, my blog isn't going to change much. I've updated my basic info page, and the look/layout will be different (and I'll hopefully get around to updating that sooner rather than later...sigh)...but I'll still post blogs from the past, 101 in 1001 updates, recipes, book reviews, etc. etc. So have no fear...if you've actually been enjoying my blog, surely you will continue to do so ;)

So now, who wants to donate a new header and button for my new name? I promise to give you props and love you forever.
I'd make one myself but Photoshop was on my husband's computer and that has sadly bit the dust :(
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monthly 101 Update: November

It's that time monthly recap for my 101 in 1001 list :)

I've begun working on two new tasks:

Run a 5k - Last month I registered for the Greenville Run Downtown in January 2012! So barring any crazy illness or injury or whatever...I'll be participating in that and getting this one out of the way.

Throw a new/different theme party - I've scheduled a "Roaring 20s" theme party as a sort of birthday/holiday party for myself...this weekend! I can't wait...especially as I really just love that period of history.

As for completed goals - I honestly did better this month than I thought I would, especially as I shocked even myself with two of the three tasks that I accomplished.

Get a new computer - I out of the blue decided to buy myself an early birthday gift...a Macbook Pro! And I'm in lub with it, for sure.

Go to a Greenville Road Warriors Game - We attended the Road Warriors vs. Florida Everglades game on 11/5/11. It was an interesting experience, for sure. I think I'll stick with baseball. (as a note - yes, I've been to plenty of hockey games in the past...but it had been quite a while, and...well, the poor Road Warriors. That's all I'll say about that.)
Steve and I at the Road Warriors game
Try sushi one more time - For some reason I originally thought that if I tried sushi one more time, it would be my THIRD time and therefore if I still didn't like it I could say "hey, I tried it three times and didn't like it three times...three strikes and sushi is OUT!" But then I remembered that I'd already had it three times. So this was actually my fourth (that being @ Tsunami's in Greenville on 11/19/11). And no, I still didn't/don't like it. To be honest I am of the opinion that *most* people (now, I didn't say "all" so don't get your panties in a knot) who claim that they love sushi really just say as much because it's the "cool" opinion to have. But I'm sorry, sushi is gross. End of story. I mean, raw fish? Really? Who thought that would be good? Pin It

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oops...a super late Monday Confessions!

I confess...that I wasn't even SO busy yesterday or today that I just couldn't get to Monday's just that I got wrapped up in the Song of Ice & Fire series (the TV show and the second novel) and totally forgot.

I confess...that I stayed up until 5:30 AM Saturday night/Sunday morning drinking beer and playing with my computer. Oops?

I confess...that I'm thinking about changing my blog name/general theme. I have some ideas but...I don't know. We'll see. Changing the header and button and links everywhere and blah blah blah isn't appealing to me enough to go ahead and change it immediately. Anyone have experience with doing this? Was it difficult/frustrating?

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Two Truths and a Lie Answer

I was bored last night and decided to record my response to my two truths and a lie entry...enjoy! :)

(Also, the still that was automatically picked is obviously priceless...haha)

Oh and at one point I say that #1 was true, and in the next sentence-ish I say it was a lie...obviously I meant to say "truth" again. I didn't notice this until I'd already uploaded the video...oops. haha Pin It

Friday, December 2, 2011

Two Truths & a Lie

I honestly don't get very many comments on my blog, but I've decided that this game sounds fun and I want to participate :) Therefore, if any readers are out there, I will now tell you two truths and a lie. Your task is to guess which one is the lie, and in a few days I'll post the answer! So get to it.

As a note, all comments will remain screened for a couple of days so that those of you who don't know me as well as others really have to guess ;)

1. I wanted to marry Steve in Las Vegas, but *he* wouldn't have it and that's why we got married in Greenville.
2. I have seen every single animated Disney movie.
3. My blood pressure consistently sits in the [very low] 100-110 over 60-70 range.

Comment with your guesses as to which is the lie!!! :)
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thirsty Thursday for the Holidays


4 shots Eggnog
1/2 of a shot (1 oz) of ginger liqueur, such as Stirrings
1 shot (2 oz) white Creme de Cacao
1 shot (2 oz) dark rum, such as Myer's Dark or Gosling's Black Seal
A pinch of ground clove
A few sprinkles ground cinnamon

-Pour the eggnog, ginger liqueur, Creme de Cacao, and rum into a shaker over ice. Shake well to mix.
-Pour all into a glass (you can separate out the ice if you are worried about it getting watered down) and top with the clove and cinnamon.

(I realize it sounds a bit weird, but I swear it tastes like gingerbread!)
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