Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garden Goodness

Today's recipe is a great one for summer. It's light, refreshing and the three veggies used can easily be found at local markets.

Hope you enjoy the yummy goodness of this salad and/or side dish I serve often in these loooooong hot months.

Marinated Veggie Medley

2 Vine ripe Creole tomatoes
1 Large cucumber
1 Medium Vidalia or red onion
1/2 Cup Robusto Italian dressing
Sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder to taste

Clean vegetables and dice small. Put into serving bowl and add a thick layer of dressing. Season to your preference. Refrigerate, stirring once every few hours until ready to serve as is, or over lettuce leaves for a nice salad.
Haiku Hooplah winner announced tomorrow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Haiku Hoopla!

Yeah, it's that time again! Write a haiku and post in comments for a chance to win a prize that will probably consist of grits, coffee, cobbler mix and/or pralines.

Or just leave a comment on what you think about poetry if you don't want to enter the Haiku Hoopla! You've got til midnight tonight. Feel free to pass the word around too. *wink*

And if ya missed the post yesterday on how you can have a better blog and accrue some blog love, scroll down and browse at your leisure.

Have a great week!

*Image from

Sunday, June 28, 2009

With a Cherry on Top? [Better Blogging]

Please, please, please...pretty please with a cherry, whipped cream and nuts on top~~~

Would ya add your address to your blog profile?

Several times over the last couple of days, I've wanted to email someone who left a comment to tell them something personal, or ask a question, or just chat outside the blog's public forum. But guess what? I couldn't because there was no email address listed on the email that notified me of their comment on one of my posts.

I promise, it's not hard to do. Look, if I can do it, anybody can! You'll also be increasing your online presence and promoting blog love throughout the Blogland community. This is all you gotta do:

  • Sign on at your blog
  • Click "View My Complete Profile"
  • Several options are listed such as Photo, Edit Profile and Contact. Click Contact, then Email.
  • ADD YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS HERE, Save, and voila!

In just a few seconds you have made yourself accessible to others whose blogs you leave comments on. You can email back and forth with them. And who knows, maybe an agent or editor will be impressed with how savvy you are AND how easy it is to reach you!

Welcome to the blogging forefront. You shall no longer be lumped with all those other anonymous unreachable people!

Now, I don't wanna push it since we've talked about this several times already...but while you're in there tinkering around with your blog settings and preferences, wontcha consider taking off that annoying little Word Verification function? I promise you, since I started this blog back in September, I've had exactly two spam comments...and all I had to do was go in and delete them with the little trashcan icon. *poof* they were dust.

Add your email and lose the Word Verification thingy and your bloggy friends will be eternally grateful. You might even get more comments, followers and/or traffic. Don't believe me? Just ask Debbie at Suburb Sanity and Vodka Mom at I Need A Martini Mom. Their blogs are so busy, ya gotta take a number to get in and comment. LOL

Now, go spread the word. And since it's Sunday, do something nice for somebody! (o:l>

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekend Plans?

So, what's on your drawing board for the weekend? I'm planning on resting, enjoying quiet time, working on the manuscript, reading and tweaking some poetry. Then there'll be some much deserved naps and bouts of loafing around.

Hope whatever it is you're craving, you get a bunch of it!

Thanks for all your good thoughts about our drought-y sizzling heat here. Would you believe we finally got some rain today? [Never underestimate the power of Blogland!]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dorothy, I'm Melting!

I don't ever remember going this long in summer without rain. We're in week three now. *pant* The only folks enjoying this scorching heat spell and drought here in Baton Rouge are the A/C repair people. do you keep cool when temperatures rise? And for you writerly types, is summer conducive to working at your craft?

Like Dorothy, may you be surrounded by faithful friends, escape dangerous situations unscathed, and always find the home of your heart. Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

We are the Champions...of the Worrrrld!

GEAUX TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Throw Me Somethin', Mista!

See me down in the bottom right corner of the photo, begging the Krewe members for some Mardi Gras beads?

Okay, it's not really me...but I am soliciting writing resources from y'all today, so if you know of a cool blog or website full of good nuggets, how 'bout throwin' 'em into a comment for the rest of us revelers?

As always, 'preciate ya, and have a great Wednesday. Would love to hear an update on your WIP progress too!

*Photo from

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peach Cobbler (& Writing Recipe)

I love this time of year when the fresh local produce is ripe and priced nicely. We can enjoy all the great tastes, smells and sights of another year of homegrown goodness.
Today's recipe for peach cobbler is a combination of my grandmother's method plus some quick and easy shortcuts. (Right up my alley!) Hope you enjoy.

Peach Cobbler

9 medium peaches (peeled & sliced)
1 pkg. Louisiana Fish Fry Cobbler Mix (yeah, you read that right!) or whatever your local brand
favorite is
1/2 Cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar

Wash, peel and slice peaches. Reserve peelings. Prepare cobbler mix according to package directions and let sit. Into a small pot over medium high temperature, put water and sugar. Stir and simmer for a few minutes. Squeeze peelings to extract juice, then put them into pot. Cook until juice thickens a bit. Smash the peelings to bottom of pot. Remove from heat and cool.

Melt butter in baking dish, or use cast iron pot if you have one. Pour in cobbler mix, leaving a bit in the bowl for garnishing. Strain juice from peelings over sliced peaches, then pour all over cobbler mix. Top with remaining cobbler mix. Cook according to pkg. directions. Great with vanilla ice cream!

For you writerly types, here are a few reminders brought about by today's recipe:
  • Don't forget to use the senses when describing scenes, people and things in your work.
  • Clean up the kitchen! (Edit, revise, edit, revise...)
  • Local flavor in your setting and character building makes for tasty reading.
  • Look for ways to squeeze the goodness from a scene, chapter, stanza or description.
  • Some parts of the "fruit" are not meant to go into the "cobbler." It's better to throw them out than to ruin your WIP.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning/ingredients as you go. The best "cooks" (writers) are those who can take a recipe, tweak it and make it their own.
  • Always follow directions unless you're a master chef.
  • Share your cobblers with others. They may suggest ways to make it even better!
  • Feed your readers well, but leave 'em wanting more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dr. Phil Says I'm What? (And Why I'm Twitching)

A little fun personality quiz of 10 questions at PsychCentral, supposedly first developed by Dr. Phil, for your Monday brain food. I scored a 45, so that puts me between Dr. Phil and Oprah. LOL.

The Lively Center of Attention: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

So, what's your personality type?

...and some writerly scoopage here at BookEnds Literary Agency's blog that might make you Twitch too. (Guess I gotta finally learn to Tweet. *sigh*)

*Photo from

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dad's Day Message/Thibodaux da Cowboy

Happy Father's Day to all you men who fill the dad role, whether it be your own biological children or others whom you mentor. We love and thank you, and send up prayers and good thoughts for those of you who are separated from family while serving in the military. HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!

One day Boudreaux was paddling his pirough down da bayou when he came up on his bon ami, Thibodaux ("Thib/Tib" for short) fishin' and drinkin' a few beers.
Boo "axed" (asked) Thib, "Mais, why you all bruised up, yeah?"

Thib kinda hung his head a little bit before saying he'd been ridin'a bull when his foot got stuck, and da bull pulled him all around since he couldn't get loose.

"Aw, Thib, I hate to hear dat! Where was you ridin' bulls? It's nowhere near rodeo time."

Thiboaux, he hang his head a little bit lower and say in a quiet voice, "Aww, man, dat bull down at da store dragged me 'round and 'round da parking lot til dat Wal-Mart manager finally come and unplug it."
*Image from

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Noblesse Oblige Blog Bling

Marguerite at Cajun Delights has passed on some great bloggy blingage to me and I am honored. I so enjoy visiting Marguerite's blog. As she says in her own words, it is a place, " promote and share our wonderful Cajun culture with the rest of the world. The area known to most as Cajun Country, is so rich in culture and history and is such a fabulous place to live and have lots of fun. Delectable cuisine, incredible music, and warm-hearted people with a contagious "joie de vivre".

The Noblesse Oblige award "rules" say, recipients are recognized for the following:
  • The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade amongst different cultures and beliefs
  • Their Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage, and offers solutions
  • There is a clear purpose at the Blog: one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Cultures, Sciences, and Beliefs
  • The Blog is refreshing and creative; and The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking

The requirements of the person receiving the award are as follows:

  • Create a post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award
  • The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post
  • Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved – preferably citing one or more older posts as support
  • The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions
Blogger must display the Award at any location at their Blog

Pretty cool, hunh? I do try to present tips about writing prose and poetry, and hopefully I also promote our awesome Cajun culture while extending a hand in friendship to others. I'm not gonna cite blog posts that backup these assertions because I think y'all all know me well enough by now to know they're true. :) So, on with the passing of the Noblesse Oblige award to others:

Debbie at Suburb Sanity for her great parenting advice and always seeing the humor;

Kathryn at Tender Graces and Kimmi at Writer in Waiting and The Unbreakable Child for going above and beyond as sharing caring authors who help others on the trail;

Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer for never giving up, and for encouraging others;

Joy at Red Silk Streams for her love of poetry and for being a military mom;

And although most of my favorite blogs/bloggers fit the description for this award, I'll keep it to six. Finally, Michelle the Surly Writer and BigBadJimSuldawgSullivan, who continue to widen the "gray" between black and white margins while making me think and/or laugh. [*Suldog, disregard award nomination if desired, or if it causes you to hunt up more zombie chickens as a reward.*]

Now, have a great and relaxing Saturday! We're entertaining friends from Scotland, so I probably won't be on the computer. See ya soon, sha (Cajunese for "cher," friend).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Computer Comedy

Something for your Friday Funny bone courtesy of my friend Betty from GodBlessTexas; a little thing we used to refer to as O.E. (Operator Error) with a twist~~~

I was having trouble with my computer, so I called Jaden, the nine-year-old from next door, whose bedroom looks like Mission Control, and asked him to come over.

Jaden clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem. As he was walking away, I called after him, "Hey, what was wrong?"

"Just an 'ID ten T error," the lad replied.

I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired, "An, 'ID Ten T error'? What the heck is that, just in case I need to fix it again."

Jaden grinned. "You've never heard of an 'ID ten T error' before?"


"Write it down," he instructed, "and I think you'll figure it out."

So I scratched up pen and paper and wrote down: I D 1 0 T.
And to think I used to like that little **beep**!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bad Tats

It's a slow news day here at Gumbo Writer's place, so I did a bit of cruising for some interesting oddity to share. I didn't have to look long, as there was a story from Belgium about a young maiden who went to get a few stars tattooed near her left eye, and according to her, things went horribly wrong...

Rouslan Toumaniantz, the tattoo artist, said Kimberley Vlaminck (18) 'absolutely' agreed she wanted 56 stars tattooed on the left side of her face. Vlaminck says she only wanted three, but fell asleep while the tattooist was at work, and woke horrified at the starrific new permanent facial renderings. Perhaps she didn't notice the artist's adherence to the "more is better" rule?

Umm, and how does one fall asleep through 53 extra stars' worth of piercing needles, pain and pressure? I have a few small tats myself, and let me just say, there's no way one snoozes during the process.

Toumaniantz maintains there was no language barrier as conjectured, and that his client was peachy keen happy when she saw the finished work...until she got home. Seems as how Dad and boyfriend both went ballistic, and that's when the lawsuit and troubles began. Read the whole story here.

Now, you know I have to ask: Do you have a tattoo? If so, what is it? And if you had to get one, what would it be of? 'Fess up!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poetry Contest Winner

Congratulations to all you brave poets who entered the contest. It's fun and fascinating to me to cull through a specific set of words and come up with something totally new. It's like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle with no picture on the box cover to guide you. Or picking through a page of words, trying to decode a secret message within.

As usual, it was hard picking a winner, but I really like the way Embee at A Would-Be Writer distilled all the photo caption entries and came up with an image-infused poem that saturated my eyeballs and mind with Louisiana elements. Her poem was cohesive. I could "hear" the poet's voice without being overwhelmed by it, if that makes sense.

Reading and rereading your entries reminded me of an important rule of thumb for writing both prose and poetry: What you leave out is just as important as what you decide to keep.

Thanks again to all who entered, and we'll do it (or something similar) again soon. Now...the winner:

Mesmerized by the stillness of the water,
Drowned in memories of dusky summer promises.
The sunlight filtered through the trees
As the Spanish moss drooped above.
My place for reflection.
Around that corner.
Welcome home.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Simply Delicious Meal Menu

Before you don a drool bib, don't forget about yesterday's Poetry Contest. You do NOT have to be an accomplished poet to enter! Cobble together your found poem from the photo caption contest, tweak the lines and email me your entry. YOU could win a bookstore gift card. C'mon.....don't be chicken! :)

This is one of the meals we enjoyed while my extended family was in town for the long weekend. It was tasty, easy, used the best of summer's fresh local ingredients and the flavors were well balanced.

Simple Green Salad

Hearts of Romaine
Creole Tomatoes

Cajun Cauliflower

Large head of cauliflower, stemmed and washed

1-cup shredded sharp cheddar
Liberal sprinkling of Tony's (or your own version of Cajun seasoning)
1/2-cup each mayo and mustard

Steam cauliflower until soft, but do not overcook. Drain and remove to serving bowl. In small bowl, mix together mayo and mustard. Slather mayo/mustard mix over cauliflower, sprinkle on Cajun seasoning and cover with cheese. Pop in microwave and heat until cheese is melted.

BBQ Chicken and Grilled Zucchini

BBQ your chicken thighs slowly so you don't burn it. That is the secret to good drilling. The zucchini was cut into strips and marinated overnight in a plastic zippered bag with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil with lots of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Grill until tender but not mushy.

Fruity Sponge Cakes

4 fresh peaches

1/2-carton each of strawberries and blueberries
Whipped Cream
6 sponge cake cups

Clean and stem fruit. Cut into bite-sized chunks into a small bowl. Sprinkle on one packet of Splenda or sweetener of your choice. Let sit in refrigerator a few hours. When ready to serve, spoon fruit mixture into sponge cups. Add large dollop of whipped cream and more fruit to garnish.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photo Caption Contest Winner/And a Poetry Contest!

Your entries in the contest were good, and it was hard to pick a clear winner. (Oh, and if you visited early this morning -- sorry for the premature automatic post of my "found poem," composed of parts and pieces of all the entries, minus the winner information. I crashed last night before polishing the post! Argh!) Thanks to all who entered!

The winner of the writer's prize packet goes to...

Anita at Rollercoaster Days! Anita put the evocative and fitting word "drowned" in the sentence with "dock," as a description: As she ambled towards the dock, she was drowned in memories of dusky summer promises and firefly kissed skin.

A prize was also garnered by Wendy at All in a Day's Thought for her lovely entry: Beyond blankets of dirt and canopied leaves, far below the spreading sunlight it waits; my place for reflection and emergence.

Surprise! Here's a secondary contest inspired by the first~~

Make your own poem using only words from the photo caption contest entries found HERE. You can change the word tense, line breaks and spacing, of course, but you may NOT add any extra words of your own.

Email your poems of no more than 15 lines to by tomorrow at midnight, and I'll announce a winner on Wednesday! Put FOUND POEM CONTEST ENTRY in the subject line.

Doh, I forgot to state what the winning poet receives ----- a Barnes & Noble gift card! So, keep those entries coming.

Finally, here's my "found poem" crafted from the caption contest entries:

Sweet Home Louisiana

Beyond blankets of leaves below
spreading sunlight waits
for emergence
around that corner,
filtered through trees saying
welcome home. Wake up, [ space ] hurry.
Tires scrape and burn slow
as Spanish moss, [ space ] fall coming.

There boys fish,

amble to the dock [ space ] drown
in memories of summer
promises, Hansel & Gretel's

house, a Yellow Brick Road.
Little old men in stable arms
of oaks mesmerized by the stillness.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Boudreaux & Thibodaux Use a Measurin' Stick

Boudreaux, him walkin' down da road one day when his friend Thibodaux approaches from da udder direction carryin' him a long long bamboo fishin' pole and a yardstick.

Da two friends, dey stop and talk awhile. Thib, he stands dat pole straight up in da air, and den he tries to reach up to da very tippy top wit da yardstick. Seeing it just ain't gonna work, ol' Boo yanks da pole from Thib's hands, lays it down on da sidewalk and measures it.

"Dere you go! It's 12 foots long," says Boudreaux. Thib, him upset and irritated, yeah. He grabs dat yardstick and yells at Boo, "You fool! I don't wanna know how long dat pole is! I wanna know how high it is!"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wooing the Muse

Congrats to the Surly Writer on visiting with her muse. She took the photo caption/story starter contest and followed through with her initial entry idea to craft a full blown story. Being the honest and good person Michelle is, she asked for her entry to be removed from comments on the original post so I wouldn't think she was trying to butter me up for the win.

Check out Michelle's story and let it inspire you to reach for your own creative goals.

How do you commune with your "muse" in order to be more productive?

Friday, June 12, 2009

If You Were an Ice Cream Flavor...

...which one would you be? Yeah, I'm got an envie (craving) for a scoop or eight of pistachio almond, so the closest I can get to it is this blog post.

So, what's your favorite?

And are you a cone biter or a restrained eater? :)
*Photo from

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Marriage of Poetry & Prose

One of my Rockin' Blogs listed in the sidebar is Amy Sue Nathan's. She had a great post yesterday which the cyber gremlins tried to gum up, but Amy, being the smart writerly woman she is, figured out how to untangle the wonky coding. Go read her AN ASPIRING AUTHOR'S POEM. It's fun and funny, but also carries quite good advice for writers. (And tell her I sent ya!)
Here's a little taste:

I read a book I didn’t like,
gave it to a writer-friend,
She didn’t like it either,
neither made it to the end.
We both enjoyed the prologue,
then it fell apart...

Don't forget to enter Gumbo Writer's photo caption contest. [Details in yesterday's post.]

I'm excited about my stepdaughter and family coming to visit today! They're an Army family and have been stationed all over the place, so it's great to have them back in good ol' Louisiana again. Nana's gonna squeeze five sets of cheeks while they're here for the boys to attend an LSU football camp. Can you imagine how exciting that must be for young 'uns?

Now, you go and have yourself a great day and weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photo Caption Contest

Good morning, ladies and germs. Today's contest uses two of my favorite elements -- photography and writing -- and you don't have to be a writer or photographer to play along!

As usual, the rules are simple:

  • Choose a photograph from my getaway last weekend and write a corresponding caption or story opener. (Please include the photo number you're targeting.)
  • Leave your entry in a comment.
  • I and an unbiased third party [most likely King Rufus my DH (Deer Hunter) or one of our teenagers] will select a winner based on originality and "wow" factor, which by its very nature is unexplainable.
  • No more than 20 words, please.
  • Contest runs today through Friday, June 12th. The winner will be announced sometime next week when my company clears out and my head gets screwed back on straight. :()
  • Winner will receive a "Writer's Package" consisting of some tools of the trade. Now y'all know that means some coffee too, plus other goodies. (Be sure I can get in touch with you through your blog or leave an email address if you don't have a blog.)
  • Pass the word around and let's get started.

Since I'm feeling creative, I'm going to try to compile parts of pieces of your entries to form a "found poem" afterwards. You'll be welcome to do the same.

Good luck!






Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shrimp Pasta for 40

I'm on my laptop, so can't get to my photos, but here's the recipe I served at the men's shelter at the end of last month. This is a picture of my handsome dad working as my sous chef. (Have you ever seen a bowl or colandar this big?!)

Since I don't do math real well, you can reduce down the dish to suit your needs. Pasta salad is great thing to serve as a main or side dish in any season, and obviously, nice for serving a big crowd. Enjoy!

Shrimp Pasta for 40

4 6-oz. cans large pitted ripe black olives
6 14-oz. cans quartered marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup Romano cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
2 5-oz. containers shredded Parmesan
Seasoning to taste: Tony's Cajun seasoning, Italian dry seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder.
4 16-oz. frozen cleaned shrimp (150-250 count)
6 12-oz. bags bow tie pasta
2 6-oz. container crumbled Feta cheese
2 large bottles creamy Cesar dressing

Boil pasta according to directions. When half done, add shrimp to the pot and continue boiling until pasta is fully cooked. Drain and rinse.

After cooling, put pasta and shrimp into an extra large bowl. Cut olives and artichokes into smaller pieces, and add them to the bowl along with every other ingredient. Mix well.

Serve and watch the smiles appear.

**I've substituted grilled chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken chunks for the shrimp and the recipe works just as well!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Which Key are You?

Time for some Monday brain food and a bit of fun. This keyboard key quiz only has five short questions, and the results are interesting!

Sooooo, which key are you?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

For Better and For Worse

To my wonderful parents who, for 51 years, have been the embodiment of good marriage and true partnership. Love you.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Have a Loverly Weekend

I may run away for a day or two to recharge the batteries, but will be back soon. Hope your weekend is wonderful!
*Photographer - Kjunstorms @ flickr

Friday, June 5, 2009

Take it from Twain

Sage writing advice from a master:

1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others...both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

4. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

5. When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a minstrel at the end of it.

6. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.

7. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

8. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

9. The characters in tale be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

The author should:

Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.
Use the right word, not its second cousin.
Eschew surplusage [excess of words].

Not omit necessary details.
Avoid slovenliness of form.
Use good grammar.
Employ a simple, straightforward style.

Picture: Joseph F. Keppler, artist.'"Mark Twain," America's best humorist.' Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1885. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Surprising Health Boosters

We know the power of thoughts and actions, but did you know they can help determine your health? According to a recent article in Good Housekeeping, they can add or subtract years from your life.

It's a hard balancing act to juggle the facets of our busy lives -- kids, relationships, work, writing, hobbies, etc. And when we have too many balls in the air at once, often the last thing we worry about is ourselves. Maybe it's a good time right now to stop and take stock; to put ourselves on the perpetual To Do list of chores and goals.

The emotional aspects of our lives we can improve for the betterment of our physical health are simple and free, but often overlooked:

Focus on Positivity~ Recent studies that followed participants for 40 years showed that those who felt good about getting older added an average of seven years to their lives. Ridding ourselves of negative emotions (bitterness, regret, anger, hostility) does the heart good, literally. Putting a little more sunshine into our disposition is good for us, and nobody wants to be around a sourpuss anyway. Today, let's let some of those darker feelings go, and concentrate on the upbeat like joy and gratitude. How? Be an extrovert, join a civic or church group, talk to strangers, put ourselves "out there" more.

Be Action Oriented~ Volunteering with organizations that help others or promote good causes is also good for us. Who knew? Mom was right again -- it never hurts to extend ourselves to others. One of the study stats says those who do two or more volunteer activities have a 44% lower death rate. (Hey, that's better results than exercising every other day!) Compassion boosts our antibodies, so lending a hand benefits our health as well as helps others. Win-win.

Pump up the Prayer Power~ Yep, it's official. Regular worship and meditation can add seven to 14 years to life. Besides guiding us to sidestep certain vices, being part of a prayerful community gives us a support system. A deeper belief system than our own power improves our health.

Be a Social Butterfly~ People with really strong social connections enjoy better health. This applies to stable, good relationships as much or more than seeing friends on a regular basis. Solid relationships equal stronger immune systems.

So bloggy friends, let's get out there and do something nice for somebody. Like green veggies and vitamins, it's good for us!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

O is for Organization

It’s hard to keep writing projects organized when working on several things simultaneously, but without some sort of plan, productivity can come to a crashing halt.

Successful writers – freelancers, columnists, poets, novelists, essayists, or a combination of several of these types – have a system for keeping their work on track. Many tout the benefits of submission tracking software or websites, while others prefer working with a hard copy such as a writer’s calendar book. Either way, busy writers benefit from having a reliable system in place instead of trying to remember where work was sent or when a first draft or article is due.

Making a tickler file for keeping deadlines and ideas straight is one method of taming the chaos which regularly threatens to invade writers’ desks. Maintaining a production file in our workspace encourages the productivity flow. When projects and their parameters are compiled in a neat and accessible fashion, we spend less time searching for pertinent information. General orderliness helps the inspiration muse do her magic.

Whatever system is used, a handy reference, calendar and idea pile will always be nearby. When writer’s block threatens, opening up a production file full of ideas, quotes, research notes, and/or project due date reminders jump starts the creativity motors.

Filing systems can be housed in word processing documents, in expandable folders, on spreadsheet programs, in a recipe file box or good notebook set aside for just that purpose. For travelers, a zippered binder will fit inside a laptop case for carrying ease.

The type of production file a writer chooses is less important than being dedicating to using it. Organizing thoughts, ideas, data, and deadlines benefits writers of all genres, no matter how long they’ve been in the writing biz.

Typical categories for Work in Progress (WIP) entries might include: Title of Work; Themes & Settings, Plot (Opening, Middle, and End), Threads, Character Traits & Personality, Physical Descriptions, Education and Profession, Synopsis, Outline and Miscellaneous.

Important data for each project should contain detailed contact information, expectations, submission deadlines and anything pertaining to the successful completion of the project. Having a place to store “extras” for each task, such as photos, magazine pictures, ideas for future use, research, sketches and notes is also helpful.

Organization keeps writers in the writing groove. It makes for productivity and saves time. Story ideas develop with more ease, and deadlines don’t fly past. With discipline, sweat equity and a workable production filing system in place, writing enthusiasm isn’t far behind.

With all that said, my home office still looks more like this, but it's on my To Do list to remedy soon:

Thank you for voting in the Whose Right poll. I am now officially entitled to a fine meal and an admission from my friend that she is wrong about the humanity of agents! :)

What's your best organizing tip?

Capote's Cornbread

Okay, I lied. I said I'd post the Shrimp Pasta Salad for 50 recipe today, but I'm at my parents' with my laptop, so you'll have to wait until next week for that recipe, k?

Today's offering is something special for the writerly amongst us! It's a favorite dish from Truman Capote's family files. If you're working on a writing project or larger WIP, maybe this special cornbread will inspire you:

Truman Capote's Cornbread

1 tablespoon butter or bacon drippings
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups stone-ground white cornmeal

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place butter or drippings in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in oven.
2. Combine eggs and buttermilk in small bowl or measuring cup; whisk together with a fork.
3. In medium bowl combine sugar, salt, baking soda and cornmeal, stirring well to combine.
4. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, beating just until the dry ingredients are moistened, no more.
5. Pull the skillet from the oven. It should be good and hot, with the fat sizzling. Swirl the pan to coat it. Quickly transfer the batter to the hot skillet and return skill to the oven. Bake until browned and pulling away from the skillet, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot, cut into wedges from the pan.

*Recipe from The Cornbread Gospels.

What's your favorite thing to serve or eat with cornbread?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend Pictorial

Remember all those nice thoughts and wishes y'all gave me for a great weekend? Well, I had one, so thank you! No senior or junior sons' activities to attend, no college or honors frat events for "Queenie," no school band function, no baseball games, no nothing "kidcentric" at all.

In other words, I had a whole two days of nothing scheduled, so we spent most of that time working in the yard -- a long overdue event -- but the weather was gorgeous and now the flowerbeds look wonderful. (Maybe the Christmas tree and decorations will actually get put away next!)

I hope your days off work were nice too. Check in and let me know what you did.

Here are some pics from the weekend, a photo montage if you will, so you can glimpse a shiny few day in the life of Gumbo Writer. *smile*

* Note the recurring 4F theme [Family, friends, food, fun] in these shots, for which I am grateful:


Dad helps me prepare a gigantor shrimp and pasta salad for the men's shelter. I wonder if other people have cooking implements that make meals for 40? [Recipe tomorrow!]

Taking a break to enjoy the outdoors, I found a little dove nesting behind my parents' house.

Closeup of flowers some of my folks' friends brought to Mom. I can't believe they're still this fresh after a week!


Front yard after weeding and preparing for new flowers.

Aren't these flats gorgeous? Alabama Coleus and vinca.

Finished for the day. It was great sinking fingers and toes into fresh earth!

After. Ahh!

On the last trip to Lowe's or Home Depot for "one last thing," two hot air balloons passed overhead.


A friend's parents' 65th anniversary party.

Daddy made a huge spaghetti supper for about 25 of the family clan. This is my mom and one of her four great-grands. Aren't they beautiful?

And rays from heaven.

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