Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Revolutionary Resolutions

Is the pending new year bringing out that first day of school feeling when all things are possible; and you might not be the geek/nerd again this year, but actually make the team or be noticed by the cute jock? Oh, all the fresh blank notebooks and sharp pencils just waiting to be put to use.

Or is it a nameless dread you feel? Like all those "I should..." things lining up to form a parade of intended resolutions. Either way, I hope you at least get the chance to consider your goals for the year, and you find satisfying ways to achieve them.

I'm opening up my writing business plan to review 2008 and planning for 09. I'm very determined this year in my goals, and as soon as they're fleshed out on paper or in a Word document, I'll share them. I'm looking forward to getting to work on my manuscript January 1st, and also participating in Melissa's The Just Write Challenge. I can just feel's gonna be a great year. Especially with all us writing bloggers keeping each other in thought and prayer for forthcoming good news!

Since one of my goals is to write more, share more and submit more, here's a little something I wrote in the year 2000, which I updated to make it current:

Riting Resolootions

The clock is ticking. My hands sweat over the keyboard, mind as blank as my checkbook balance. The mere mention of the "R" word makes my heart palpitate with negativity. Billowing red flags wave in my head. "All this over simply committing to paper your New Year's resolutions?" you ask. Well, it's not as simple as it sounds.

Rarely having succeeded in lots of decades at keeping any of those good intentions and resolutions, it has come to be my theory that I basically sabotage my goals and efforts by shackling them to that first day of January's clean slate of new habits and goals. My midriff's spare tire and home's roaming dust rhinos attest to my history of resolution failures.

Armed with this new psychological profile of myself, I will endeavor harder than ever to make progress this year, at least in my writing life. The rest of the usual stuff can just slide for 365 days. Therefore, I freely and honestly resolve to set no other goals except for this important area of my existence. There is research to be done, my women's fiction manuscript to perfect, feverish midnight compilations of weekly columns and manuscripts to edit, plenty of poetry and VizPo to be crafted, unending blog posts to make, and more than enough pressure to produce writing gems and witticisms whenever I so choose. And I do so choose. This year will be the year writing resolutions are kept or exceeded!

I, being of relatively sound mind and body, do herewith proclaim I will write even when time doesn't allow. When the muse strikes me, my printer cartridge is full, and the kids and part time jobs all line out to give my dwindling mental abilities time to function, I will write like my bahonkus is on fire. Then I will studiously (and after much research) begin the querying process like a someone driven.

That said, I feel optimistic about my chances for success in the writing arenas of 2009. Bring it on! How about you?

{Picture from}

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sad Cake Recipe

Today's good food installment comes from one of those nifty email recipe exchange thingies. I don't know the person who sent it to me, nor have I tried the actual making of this good dessert yet, but it meets my Cooking Requirements List (CRL) -- easy, inexpensive, (from what I can tell) yummy, and made from things usually already in the house.

I can't figure out how this recipe got its odd name, unless it's because you're sad when the last piece is gone. As always, lemme know if you try this at home, and how it turned out.

Sad Cake

2 cups Bisquick
4 eggs
1 box of dark brown sugar
walnuts or pecans

Mix together Bisquick, eggs, brown sugar and nuts of your choice (optional). Bake at 350 in greased pan until sides start to come away from the side of the pan.

{Note: Hey, a little time reference woulda been nice here. I guess you're supposed to hover over the oven and make sure it doesn't burn? Or...maybe that's how it got its're sad you gotta hang out in the kitchen babysitting it?} :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bloggers Quiz

Are you addicted to blogging? I think I might be in the beginning stages, so maybe it's time for a test. Since we all have better things to do (and posts to write and blogs to stalk), let's make it a Yes or No sorta quiz. Give yourself one point for each affirmative answer, and none for negatives.

~~Bloggers Quiz~~

  1. Do you think about blogging first thing in the morning...maybe even before you've had your first cup of coffee?
  2. If you miss a few days of posting to your blog and/or reading friends' messages, do you feel strange or like something's missing?
  3. Would you rather be writing/reading online than doing almost anything else?
  4. At random times during the day do things you see, hear or experience pop into your mind as being possible good blogging fodder? (Oh, I like the way that sounds!)
  5. Do you count bloggy folks as part of your circle of "real" friends?
  6. Are you taking this quiz?

Okay, add up your points. If you got less than 3, you're still a viable member of the living, breathing real world human race. Four and above points, you're doomed. Might as well hop on the addiction bandwagon and have a good time with the rest of us...

Hello, my name is _______, and I'm a blogaholic.

{Image from}

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Politically Incorrect Kartoons

It's getting harder and harder to locate these cartoons, but I enjoy the hunt. I guess there's no central listing for "politically incorrect jokes," so it's down to hunting and pecking. But there are a few holiday-themed ones in today's batch. :)

Choose your favorite in a comment. And then go have a great and relaxing Sunday now, ya hear?

1. Swamp Thang:

2. PIK in the Arts:

3. Ho-ho-ho:

4. You Too, Seuss?

5. Asexual Baked Goods:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Paint Us A Picture

Now that the majority of the holiday crush is over and we've had a chance to breathe a little deeper, isn't it a strange mix of feelings fighting for supremacy? There's the relief over not having to do so much running around, shopping, doing, planning, cooking, etc. But there's also a postpartum kind of letdown that the big day has come and gone again until next year. Luckily, it's Saturday, so the weekend stretches out before us, and for most of us, that means time off from job demands. And there's still New Year's Eve fun to come.

So, blog buddies, what's the best thing you experienced this Christmas or Hanukkah season...and the worst? Was the company good, but the food only mediocre? The kidlets act like monkeys on crack, but the desserts were as yummy as always? Paint a quick word picture and show us worded snapshots of your 2008 holiday happenings so we'll learn a little more about your corner of the world.
{Photo from}

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mug Love

I'm sharing a true Christmas story that happened yesterday and is posted at our Year of Gratitude (YOG) blog where I first wrote about my coffee mugs, if you have time to stop by. (Hint, it has to do with a half-naked Santa appearing out of the blue.)

Now, on to today's topic of mugs, because my house has been so full of comings and goings and company (some will be here until tomorrow) that I didn't have time to get my Sharpies out and draw another edition of Ledbetter Lunacy...

Bad Ode to Vessels
Oh, coffee mugs, coffee mugs, I love you.
Without you here, what would I do?
*Smile* and good morning to all you coffee or tea drinkers this day after Christmas. If you have a collection of favored mugs like I do, you'll understand this post. If not, just come along for the ride anyway.

I love each of my mugs for different reasons, but like my children, I love them all equally. Let me introduce you to my seven favorites: Senorita is the cup with the fish handles my daughter brought home from her senior cruise to Cozumel in appreciation for helping with her trip. Muscle Gal comes from one of my sons' trips to a Boy Scout National Jamboree to NY. He said it reminded him of me -- "Mom, it's a little cracked from the journey, but still got good life in it." (How's that for a teenage boy's attempt at symbolism?!) At least the chip doesn't come near my mouth as I swill my coffee!

Now, Big Gulp (the green upside down mug) I love because I rescued him from the trash heap at the end of a garage sale. What a bargain at just .10! Atop him sits The Black Lion. I treated myself to this beautiful, shiny treasure at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans while attending the Pen-to-Press Writers Conference. Next is Choo-Choo, the cup I purchased to commemorate a trip taken a decade ago to Colorado when we visited the Silverton-Durango coal-powered train. I love that cup because it's so unique; when hot liquids are poured inside, the blackened windows of the depot open to reveal several train engines. Then they go dark again when the liquid cools.

The big one to the right with all the faces of literary masters? That's B&N, named for the bookstore chain where I found it. I love it for obvious reasons including its depths and ability to limit my trips back to the coffee pot. Last but not least is The Graveyard. The place we all finally wind up. It reminds me to carpe diem, encourages me to keep writing, and represents an actual friend's book -- Deborah Leblanc's Grave Intent.

Before you call me a complete nut, think about this: each of my "mugs" is completely different in size, shape and description, yet provides me with key elements for healthy survival -- gifts from their interiors! These gifts for which I am daily filled with gratitude are good memories, inspiration, comfort, continuity, and the essence of all that is good in my world.

Yeah, you guessed it, the mugs are just like my dearest flesh and blood friends. And as trite as my ode and the following saying are, they are nonetheless true: My cup runneth over.

And to you ~~ I love your mugs, inside and out!

{Photo by Angie Ledbetter}

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Bliss and Blog Biz

This is my tree before all the gifts got wrapped and scattered beneath it. It's fun finding inexpensive ways to decorate it each year. Did you know if you choose a non-traditional color/theme, you can get decorations for next to nothing? The pink feather boas came from a party store, the pink ribbons were from my wedding almost 25 years ago (tied together now to form garlands), there are some plastic fruits, stuff from a clearance sale at a plant nursery, and some gold mesh wedding gift bags (10 for $2.50) with drawstrings that I put curled ribbons or plastic ornaments inside of and hung on the tree.

I hope you are enjoying spending time off from "real life" to be with friends, family, in quiet and serene relaxation, or doing whatever it is you love doing. Our family gathered last night for our traditional Christmas Eve, and a good time was had by all. After church and a huge potluck, we always play Dirty Santa with gag gifts. For the last 10+ years, a black silk teddy and rabbit ears have been wrapped and re-wrapped to circulate to the "lucky" winner. Last night, Mom swapped the gift she picked -- a bag of toilet paper -- for the teddy, afraid it might make its way outside the family since there are more and more friends, Significant Others, etc. attending. Those velvety rabbit ears atop her chemo-bald head was a sight to see!

Now, for the blogging you ever check the keyword analysis for your blog? I tell ya, it's simply and purely fascinating! Here are just a few of the phrases used to locate my blog last week:

strange growth on tree
what does shazayum mean
easy gumbo recipe
hurricane joke gift
gumbo writers

Do you look at your blog's statistics and see all the different countries visitors are from? Like me, do you wonder who all comes by your blog but doesn't leave comments? What's the one thing you'd like to add to your blog? And what do you like most about your little corner of the blogosphere? Okay, enough questions.

I'll leave you with a few more shots of my 2008 Christmas tree. Hugs to all, and to all a good day! {And if you haven't seen how the Ledbetters have "elffed" themselves just for you, zoom down to the bottom of this page and click on the video.}

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday Writings

An exciting announcement today at Gumbo Writer's place! Friend and fellow co-managing editor at The Rose & Thorn Literary e-zine, Kathryn Magendie's novel is going to be published! I couldn't be more excited if it was my own book about to make its debut. How's that for some good Christmas news?

Kat has worked long and hard on her women's fiction manuscript, and it is full of wonderful, full-bodied characters, lyrical language and plot conflicts. The book's working title is From a Mountain Rising, and as a lucky beta reader, I am a proud "godmother" of her literary baby. Kat's writing-editing-shopping-to-publication is good news for all us writers. That she has a Spring 2009 release date gives us all hope. It's also an important reminder not to discount small and indie presses. Click here to see what Publishers Marketplace has to say about her book.

Since she's a most generous person and loves all things about the writing process, maybe she'll be so kind as to answer any reader questions you leave in comments when she gets the chance. And here's her personal site/blog if you haven't visited yet ~~ Kat's place.

One more thing: WooooooHoooooooo and Ah-woooooo (wolf howl)!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Divine Artichoke Dip

If you like artichokes, I promise you, you're gonna love the mess outta this recipe! I just noticed there have been a lot of cheesy offerings lately, so next week, I will make something that does not call for it.
When (not if) you make this, please let me know how much you enjoyed it. :)

Divine Artichoke Dip (also great as side dish)
1 1/2 cup Duke's sugar free mayo
2 cans (32 oz each) of marinated artichoke hearts
4 T. garlic powder
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Parmesan
In a large bowl, chop artichokes quarters into smaller pieces.

Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Spoon into casserole dish, and smooth out evenly.

Bake at 400 degrees or until golden brown.

Serve hot. (You may need drool bibs!) The big Frito scoops are best with this dip. It also makes an excellent small serving side dish with homemade pita chips. Yum...can ya smell it?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Who Knew?

Instead of personality quizzes today, let's talk about obvious things we might just not be aware of.

Here's an example from a friend's email forward that I've changed some:

I really did have to go check this out for myself after reading it. You know when you try to pull aluminum foil off to cover a pot or dish, and the whole roll comes tumbling out of the box and unrolls on the floor? Then you have to try to roll it back up into the box and it's all crinkly. It doesn't have to be like that!

If you look at the end of the box, written plainly (for anyone who'd ever think to look there) to see, it says, "Press here to lock end." In that same location, there's a tab for locking the roll into place. I wondered, has this nifty locking mechanism always been here? Why have I never seen it before? Why isn't this pointed out in Reynold's Wrap commercials? Even the store brand foils have this contraption.

Guess what else? So does Saran Wrap! I can't tell ya how many times I've made a gummed up mess out of a roll of cling wrap, which mostly only sticks to me or itself instead of the intended item.

Do me a favor...please tell me I'm not the only one who didn't know this. Lie if you have to. And share any other kitchen secrets you might be selfishly keeping to yourself.

One last thing -- why would someone leave this UFO (Unusable Flippin' Object) in my fridge? {We may need to explore this more deeply in coming posts.}

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Word on Political Incorrectness

Welcome to the shady world of politically incorrect humor, my bloggerish friends, where we giggle and laugh away from the disapproving world. Today's offering runs the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime. Thanks to email friends who supply me with a continuing stream of fodder to share with you. I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to vote for the one that tickles your funny bone the most.

But before we get into the grins, let me share a great article in the Chicago Tribune I just read by friend Amy Sue Nathan. If you need lessons on the fine art of re-gifting, she nails down the rules nicely. Good stuff here, y'all!

1. Please check all homework:

("Mom works at the hardware store selling shovels.")

...I'd like to have a Word with you about a few things...

2. Expired:

3. Cheers:

4. Invisi-Girl:

5. I taut I could fwy:

6. Really?

7. OSHA?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spotlight on...Writing Stuff

First, a heads up from ChristaCarol about an agent who is gifting writers with the chance to have their pitch critiqued. I submitted my paragraph in the growing number of comments, and am hoping I get chosen for a crit. Either way, it was fun, and reading others' descriptions of their mss was interesting too. Even if you aren't ready to start querying yet, it's a fun exercise that might help you get your book's plot down more concisely.

Since I'm in the mood for writing as the New Year and new opportunities loom, here are some tips from NYT best selling authors I heard speak at a conference about six months ago ~~

  • Publisher's Lunch was recommended as a good site to join if you want to keep abreast of what's happening in the publishing world.
  • Craft a "log line" or "tag line" for your novel. This is a short one-sentence blurb that gives agents/publishers a feel for your book immediately. [Example: "When Sally Met Harry meets the Hulk."]
  • Especially if you're writing mystery or suspense, throw in a few red herrings, but don't forget to resolve them at some point. This adds depth and interest to your plot.
  • Spoon feed your readers the back story slowly as you move forward instead of dumping too much right up front.
  • If you're stuck in a scene, try brainstorming 10 things that could happen. This may reveal new paths to you.
  • Having 3-5 scenes per chapter is a good rule of thumb.
  • Never change the POV during a single scene.
  • Make sure your characters aren't just talking heads. Move them from place to place and room to room.
  • If possible, have an editor go over your ms before querying.
  • Save the cliches for dialog.
  • Not every line of dialog needs to have a tag ("he said," "she whispered," "Margo replied.")
  • Always give your readers credit for being smart. You don't have to tell them the obvious.
  • Your synopsis should be short and concise. Tell the story and get to the end. How do your characters survive and find resolution?
  • Look at your writing business plan and make sure it provides for your future as a writer vs. a one book wonder.
  • Even villains and bad girls need redeeming qualities.

Do you find these kind of random tips helpful? More good stuff later. Now, go have a great weekend!

{Image from}

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ledbetter Lunacy - Meltdown at the Mall

Yep, it's that day of the week when we all take a break from sanity and enjoy a little craziness in the form of some family "drawerings."
So, get a cup of your favorite beverage, put the dogs out and occupy the kids. It's your time to snuggle in for some pre-Christmas viewing pleasure. *And some Christmas muzak piped in just for you*

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top 10 Reasons I Hate Going to the Dentist

Eww and arghhh, I have a regular check-up at the dentist's today. Can you spell dental phobia? Perhaps I have it because for most of my life, dentists just thought I was being a titty baby and bad patient when I insisted they were hurting me. Come to find out, I'm anesthesia resistant, therefore, their weak little narcotics and anesthesia methods never worked on me. I was being poked, prodded, drilled, scraped and enduring other nightmarish procedures without the benefit of pain-killing medication.

It's a verified condition which I discovered when none of the three epidurals I had while birthing big, giant, uncooperative babies ever did their job. Yeah, natural childbirth. Ouch.

My twin sister has the same thing. Plus...we have a double set of nerves in our mouths. One of my kidlets is resistant to anesthesia too. He woke up during an appendectomy and then broke the leather restraints they put on him. Guess it's a good thing they give you that amnesia drug now during surgeries so you don't remember being awake! *shudder*

Okay, so before I freak myself out completely, here's my list:

Top 10 Reasons I Hate Going to the Dentist

10. The days long dread of appointment day approaching.

9. Stupid dentists who think listening to muzak can calm their victims.

8. Dentists who insist on making you talk when your mouth is out of commission.

7. The very phrase, "Spit and rinse."

6. Cotton all jammed up in my gums during procedures.

5. Hygienists who carelessly spray water all over me while they clean and scrape.

4. "Boss, de pain, de pain."

3. The malformed x-ray strips that cut into the bottom of my mouth.

2. Making follow-up appointments for further work.

1. Trying to find a dentist who believes me when I say I'm still in pain (or can feel the drill) even if I have already had 14 shots!

What is it you detest most about going to a doctor or dentist?

{Photo from}

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Inspires You?

A mother of several small kids struggles to see her way beyond the perpetual pile of dirty diapers and other mom chores she has to perform between waking and sleeping every day. Being the main and stay-at-home parent, most of the odious chores of keeping a decent house and rearing children born close together fill her days. It’s all she can manage most of the time, but she once had dreams of being a writer. Since the father of her children isn't a hands-on kind of guy, and her parents and family support are on the other side of the country, her dreams have been put on hold indefinitely. Many nights she sits in her rocker and cries from sheer exhaustion. Her salvation comes in the form of being transported by good fiction or visionary poetry. Wouldn't you love to be the one whose words make her tired eyes light up?

Who do you write for? Why do you write?

We all get inspiration for tooling our words into pleasing finished pieces from different sources. For me, it's imagining the eyes of someone reading a humorous story, a well-written poem, or a colorful splash of VizPo I’ve crafted. This vision in my head encourages me to keep at it.

When the self-doubts pile up or procrastination threatens to derail me, I picture a receptive set of peepers just waiting to read the words I've strung together. And sometimes that does the trick. But what good is my writing if it stays locked up in an electronic file? It can't serve others or me from that location.

I know I can't be alone in this puzzling dichotomy called the writer's life. Won't you drag out, clean up and send off some of your work today? C'mon...what's the worst that can happen? A little rejection? You're a big boy/girl; it'll just make you stronger and more determined if you receive a No Thanks instead of an acceptance. Maybe you’ll luck out. But you (we) won't know unless we submit.

See that man who just got downsized out of a job he's held for so long, he's almost ready for retirement? Do you know he may be waiting for one more nudge before he'll begin putting thought to paper in the form of wonderful personal essays?

What about that young student over there? She's had a rough year at the university, and could really use your experiences to encourage her to continue on her path.

Just so you know, I recently read a similar post somewhere in the Blogosphere. And, yes, it inspired me to pay it forward, take a chance, express my thoughts on the whys and how-comes of writing. I originally posted it at The Rose & Thorn's Literary ezine's blog under editor tips and tidbits last week. {It's a great place to dig around and find good writing info., so check it out if you get the chance.} And thanks to Ang for the blogging mentor award. 'Preciate you!

Now, who do you write for? Why do you write?

{Graphic from}

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Easy Breakfast Casserole

I love this recipe. It's easy, you can substitute lots of ingredients for what you have on hand (I've prepared it with every conceivable combo, and it's all good), is great anytime of day or night, feeds a big group, and isn't real hard on the budget. It's a great main dish to make a day ahead, and pull out the next morning to bake; especially if you've got guests and don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen.

My veggytinarianistical friends might enjoy substituting asparagus and mushrooms for the meat.

Since this is what was served up for Sunday's brunch, and in honor of my 101st consecutive post, I'm passing it along to you. Enjoy!

Easy Delicious Breakfast Casserole

8 large eggs
1 cup milk (or Low Fat, or 2%, 1/2 & 1/2, etc.)
4 English muffins (or French bread, biscuits, biscuit mix, croissants)
3 cups mixed shredded cheese
Butter or olive oil (or some of both)
1 link andouille sausage (or breakfast sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon,
shrimp, ground beef, or whatever ya got already)
1 onion chopped fine
2 garlic pods chopped fine
Salt, pepper, spices to taste

Chop meat/seafood up fine and saute
with onions and garlic. I use a mixture
of olive oil and Smart Balance butter.

While those ingredients cook down
and begin to brown, beat your eggs,
seasoning and milk together in a bowl.

Your browned ingredients should be
cook, but not overly-so. (Burnt veggies
are not good.) ;o) Turn off the heat
when just brown enough.

Grease a Pyrex or casserole dish with
butter/olive oil so casserole does not
stick. Tear up your choice of bread
and layer into baking dish.

Next, add into casserole your browned
ingredients, spreading evenly. Top
with the cheese.

Bake covered with foil on 375 for
about 40 minutes, or until cheese is
bubbly and egg mixture is firm.
This is what you'll pull from the
oven, along with a delicious aroma:

And this is what you come back to if
you leave the kitchen to run get
dressed for about 5 minutes:

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