Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'm so glad we had this time together . . .

Hello, gentle readers & contributors:
It is with great regret and sadness that we are “closing down” production of Rose & Thorn Journal after nearly 15 years.
This decision did not come easily, as it is always hard to let go of a long-held "labor of love."
We truly appreciate our wonderful volunteer staff. (You made each issue shine!) Likewise, the talented contributors of art, prose, and poetry. Your works filled every R&T edition with offerings for readers to enjoy. Thanks also to our supporters, fans, and friends.
Our last issue will be the spring issue in May.
We would love it if you would drop by our R&T Facebook page and leave a note.

Thank you all.

Angie Ledbetter & Kat Magendie 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Newsy Catch Up!

Hello, Blogville friends! Today is Gumbo Writer's FOURTH birthday, so I thought I'd check in and see how you're all doing. [If you need a little coloring therapy, feel free to print out the image above and get busy.] :) 

A few confessions ~~~ It's been so long since I posted, I got locked out of and had to obtain a new password. The nerve, hunh? LOL And to add insult to injury, there were 76 pieces of spam (much of it foreign), that needed deleting. Ugg. So glad I've got comments older than two days old set on moderation mode! 


As per usual, I've got about a million creative projects going on simultaneously: editing a few book manuscripts, keeping up with the functions and duties of Rose & Thorn Journal, enjoying Facebook and several groups I've started there, and {insert excited voice} I'm showing some artwork and photography at several local galleries! I'm engaging in a serious romance with photography of late, have gotten some poetry and anthology acceptances, am still hosting a monthly poetry workshop through our Arts Council, and yada yada yada. So, you can see all the creative goodies that are vying for my time, and some of the reasons I've not been as active as I should here. 

    On the home front, my youngest has moved onto LSU's beautiful campus, my oldest has graduated and is now teaching special needs students, and my middle son has returned to college. Yes, we've been a busy bunch. Oh, and thankfully, we weathered Hurricane Isaac well, unlike many of our neighbors along the Gulf Coast. 

Those are the high points in my What I've Been Doing journal. Sooooooooooo, what are YOU up to? Please share! 

Will be back tomorrow with a new Tasty Tuesday recipe or two. 

Huggage and all good things to YOU! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Italian Two-fer

Mm-mmm. Enjoy one of my favorite go-to recipes (spaghetti) and a new fav by friend Scott Mitchell (zucchini cakes).

Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs & Eggs

3 or 4 pounds meatballs (your own recipe or frozen) 
15 large eggs 
5 large cans Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce (2 Cheese & Garlic, 2 Mushroom, 1 Traditional)
Seasoning (garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt, Italian blend) 
2 medium white onions, diced 
2 cups each Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese  

In giant pot, saute onions in olive or canola oil until clear. Add in Hunt's sauce [it often goes on sale for $1 per can, and is just as good as homemade!], meatballs, and seasonings to taste. Add cheeses and about two cups of water. Stir well. Simmer on medium-low covered for an hour. 

Turn heat to medium after stirring well and tasting. Adjust seasoning if needed. When sauce begins to bubble, break and drop eggs into sauce. DO NOT STIR. Return cover to pot and let simmer for an hour. When yolks have hardened, stir gently just to mix. Return temperature to medium-low and continue cooking slowly for three or four hours. 

View inside the pot after adding eggs. 
Serve over angel hair pasta garnished with Parmesan. (Serves a ton of hungry folks. Leftovers make for a great casserole! Just spray a glass casserole pan, add pasta and sauce, and cover with a layer of Mozzarella and other favorite Italian cheeses. Bake covered with foil until thoroughly heated.)

Scott's Zucchini Cakes

1 Large Zucchini - grated
1 large egg
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Before beginning, grate zucchini onto a large dish towel, wrap tightly, and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. 

Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs and Parmesan together in a large bowl. Add bread crumbs and Parmesan - mix well. Heat oil in pan. Cook patties for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Enjoy! 

Add Ins - finely grate an onion, crumbled bacon, whatever. 


What have y'all been up to in the kitchen?! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Creating Vignettes

I dug this out of files & folders in my cyber Back 40 for friend Jink Willis when we got to yappin' about her blog post on the similarities between home staging and writing. This little article uses photographic concepts and pointers to (hopefully) help us hone the writing craft. Enjoy! 



Vignette: (n.) Any small, pleasing picture or view; a small, graceful literary sketch. (v.) Finishing a picture/photograph in the manner of a vignette.

Whether crafting a setting for a short story or novel, a scene in a play, or framework for poetry, writers who think in terms of vignettes create sharper, more concise, and more memorable work. (Think "snapshot" or "scene.")

Visualize your keyboard or pen as a photographer’s favorite camera. If you take the time to look carefully through the viewfinder before clicking, you’ll be happier with your finished product. Conversely, if you grab and snap in a rush, you’ll produce blurred, amateurish work. All art takes time and practice to perfect, but with persistence, we can hone our writing skills. To this end, following are a few “picturesque” tips on setting up good vignettes: 

Invest in good equipment: If you think you can produce high quality work with a throw-away camera, think again. The quickie writer submits the first thing off the top of his head without taking the time to edit with a critical eye. The professional (one who invests in classes, workshops, critique group membership, and other learning opportunities) knows by taking his time to learn the rules and techniques, his work will shine.

Get down (or up) on your subject’s level: Think and write from your characters’ perspective. See what they see, hear what they hear, etc. When this is done, the writing will come off as realistic vs. fabricated.

Move in close: The best photographs are those which get as close to the subject as possible. This is one reason macro shots have so much impact. Leave off extraneous descriptions, unneeded words. Crisp and sharp writing increases your publication odds.

Try different poses, angles, points of interest, and components of composition: Your vignette staging is important, so spend time thinking of the overall word picture you are composing. Would a change in Point of View work better? Have you given your characters enough depth through character sketching? What might be added or subtracted to create a clearer portrayal?

Frame your subject through the lens: Think of all aspects of your vignette and consider how it will be transmitted to your readers. Give your story plot or poetry balance on all sides. Is every single thing you are considering including in your vignette necessary? Beware of having trees sprout from subjects’ heads (fantastical plot lines). Savvy readers know when you’re overreaching. Make sure your thumb is out of the way also; remove all traces of yourself from your writing so the plot and characters can be heard and the author forgotten.

Research your subject: Always check your facts. A bit of research on products, eras, and other germane data adds unique, fresh details to your work. Editors and readers will appreciate the extra effort.

Now you’re locked, loaded, and ready to create better word photos. Your vignettes will be sharply focused, as will their tone, mood, and quality. Leaving readers with an unforgettable mental snapshot (of characters, plot, or evocative use of words in a poem) is a hallmark of good writing.

If you’re having trouble with a particular passage or stanza, why not post it here on the blog? I’ll gladly see what I can do with my editor's red grease pencil to help out. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creative Collaborations

Hellooooooooo, Blogland friends! I've been captivated by several ongoing creative projects, endeavors, and "things" lately, but decided it's a good time to be more active here, and yes, I've missed you. (More on what all's been going on with me later.) :)

I've just completed one of the most fun projects I've ever been involved with -- an altered book swap with Janice Williams Phelps. I forget how the idea came about, but we decided a couple of weeks ago to make small altered books, swap out halfway through to complete each other's books, and each keep one. Before even beginning really, Janice and I had the notion to keep and work on one book each, then exchange them, thus eliminating the question of who gets to keep which book and also the need to mail the books back and forth for completion. Smart gals, us. 

Before I delve into the project more completely, a bit about Janice. We've never met in person (but hope to one day), and share a similar background and interest in all things creative. Whereas I consider myself a doodler/dabbler in the arts, Janice has mad skills. She's an awesome artist in several mediums, photographer, has a beautiful way of waltzing with words on several dance floors -- book illustration and design, editorial services -- oh, I could go on and on! Check out some of her recent work HERE. I'll just post a photo of her fine art below (which piece was one of the first to "hang" in Rose & Thorn Journal's art gallery), and hope she forgives me for not asking permission beforehand. 

In other words, I love Janice's work! Be sure to sign up for and check out her blog. It's chock full of creative goodness. 

Now, on to our Altered Book Swap Project. I'll describe how I treated each page of the children's book I made for Janice page-by-page. {If you're ever looking for a fun project to work on with a friend, this is it. You need NO particular skill; just a willingness to go where the book takes you, and a few basic art supplies. You'll be glad you did it. As a bonus besides the LOVELY one-of-a-kind personalized gift book I received in exchange, I learned a few things about myself in the process.} 

The original child's book cover, unaltered. (Found it at Goodwill for $1!) 

I loved the butterfly shape of the book because it reminded me of Janice -- colorful, beautiful, and full of life. Not knowing she had a butterfly book project on her back burner, I was happy I chose it. (The collaboration was full of synchronicity and personal symbolism, which I'll post about another time.) ;) 

I used various Sharpies and markers throughout the pages, as here on the altered cover. How glad was I when Janice told me that sanding these slick pages made other materials adhere easily? Anywho, I added a title -- A WOMAN, AN ARTIST (which I also added to the thin spine with my name and date, using a white gel pen), collaged on a picture from an artist magazine I liked, doodled around with markers and a bit of Gouache around the wing edge, added some self-adhesive bling around the outer edge and on the eyes to make the butterfly look more feminine and interesting. The antenna are two small pieces of wire affixed with Gorilla Glue. (A must-have for this kind of project!) Each page was finished with Majic Crystal Clear Spray to keep them from sticking together and to hold everything in place. I hole punched front & back covers and laced in a piece of leather strip so the book can be tied in a loose bow to hold it shut if desired.

The inside cover is a combo of marker, collaged words and photos cut from magazines. I circled around the text already there to form a new sentence, blotting out the words I didn't want to use. I kept part of the original shiny butterfly wing as is.  

The opposing page is collaged with tissue paper, magazine pictures, and one of Janice's own poems I decorated with markers and affixed with a small sponge tab thingy beneath so it stood away from the page. ModPodge glue was used on just about every page.


Next, I wanted to add to the size and texture of the book's pages, so used a heavy piece of art paper from Michael's that looked ferny and natural (except for the purple color), using the book shape as a template, and folded over to make a double-sized extra "wing" flap. A partner-less old earring became the door handle. If you look closely, you can see the word "Open" on one of the leaves. The Gorilla Glue came in handy for this page. 

When the flap is opened, the "secret" page is revealed. It's a lovely magazine pic of a timeless woman on top of the sanded and painted page. I added a sticky 3-D flower and some prose with "found poem" before varnishing with the Majic spray. 

The page at right is a combo of ModPodged items such as the little Victorian photographer girl, pink tissue over the overly-loud flowers in the original book, paint, a 3-D paper bird, and a real feather. I've blotted out all the words except, "fly." 

This page was really fun. Some of the element ideas to add actually came to me right before I fell asleep one night. I painted the whole page a rosy color except for the original text I decided to keep, Sharpied in the heart strings, and added an old iris greeting card cover. Then I added the words, "she is a PEACOCK!" to "Then one morning Caterpillar wakes up and . . ." The bird is a photograph of an albino peacock I took and printed out on regular paper, then decorated with various markers (except for its head). I couldn't bear to cut off all that beautiful tail, so I ModPodged it several times and sprayed a couple of coats on it and let dry, extended away from the book. Below, the tail is extended in a pull-out.

The next two pages were fun to do. I left the sun and some of the rays exposed, added a little Sharpie art I did on a piece of thicker artist's paper with the word "grow" added, left some of the words as the originally appeared, and covered up the rest with stick-on borders. I added on a few peel-and-stick butterflies, glued down and collaged on the flowers/sun marker picture I drew, then extended the sun rays over the artwork with some metallic gel pens. 

The page below, I wanted to reflect some of Janice's 
artistic interests and talents, and some of her many roles. These are depicted on the artist's palette and personalized paintbrush I drew on thick paper and tore out with rough edges showing. Magazine pictures and words were added to the collage, and a fortune cookie paper. ***I think I got these two photos in the wrong order, and am too stoopid to figure out how to switch them! 

This back inside cover was a lot of fun to do! It says, "Wishes can come true!" And I forget what I altered or changed. LOL. I cut up a piece of a Chinese takee-outee box because it had awesome colors and factory creases for folding. Then I cut the same size piece out of the book so I could insert the green tissue (like a present you unwrap), the folding box piece, and a small artwork I made on tiny canvas paper with fine markers, a collaged tree and bird pictures cut from magazines. All put down with Gorilla Glue. When closed, the box flap piece appears as below. I hole-punched through the layers of the box flap and hooked in another earring to keep it closed. (Pic below) 

And finally, here's the back cover! Paint, collaged tissue paper, the tissue paper-covered piece poking through from the inside cover (which forms an abstract flower pot), more 3-D flowers, and stems I cut from a pad of white peel-and-stick art paper (what a fabulous pad to have on hand!) I colored green with a Sharpie. 

WHEW! That's the story of the little butterfly book that morphed into something completely altered by one woman's handiwork. 

And here is a photo of the AWESOME altered book swap project that arrived on my awaiting doorstep last Friday from Janice. Visit her blog where she is posting today about this cooler-than-skool exchange, and where I'm heading as soon as I hit publish! 


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Chicken Ranch Enchiladas

Welcome to my kitchen! This is another not-so-bad-for-ya recipe I think you'll enjoy. It's easy to add to and subtract from with your favorite (or on-hand) ingredients! 

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas 
1 pkg. (8) small multi-grain tortillas 
4 leftover (or fresh baked) chicken thighs, fat skimmed
1 lg. yellow onion cut in thin rings 
2 cups shredded low fat Mozzarella cheese 
2 tsp. dry Ranch dressing mix 
1 1/2 cups low fat Ranch or French Onion dip, or sour cream (or combo of these) 
Extra seasoning to taste (sea salt, black pepper & garlic powder)

Saute onions in olive or pure coconut oil in a large pan until tender. Add in bite sized chunks of chicken, dressing mix, dip/sour cream, and seasonings. Cook & stir over medium low heat until until mixed and heated well. Layer mixture onto tortillas, add a liberal sprinkling of cheese, and roll up/tuck under. Heat individual servings in microwave. Serve with salsa or ranch dip. Great with a side salad or pico de gallo. 




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Turkey Stroganoff

Yeah, I know it's Wednesday, but I've been busy with a ton of other projects and events lately, so I thought I'd post a recipe today while I had time. 

How you doing? Hope your year is going as swimmingly as mine! Lots of fun stuff's been going on . . . a few great trips, speaking at a writers conference, leading a bimonthly writers group, hosting monthly poetry workshops, creative endeavors (art, poetry, book projects), etc. etc. blah blah blah. 

But enough about that. Here's what ya came for: a great and easy downhome recipe that won't break the bank! :)


Turkey Stroganoff

16 ounces of lean ground turkey
1 small white or yellow onion, diced fine 
1 package (12-oz.) wide egg noodles 
3 10-oz. cans low fat cream of mushroom soup 
2 cups low fat milk 

Saute onion until limp. Add turkey and brown. Spice with sea salt, garlic, and black pepper. Add in soup and milk. Stir to mix well and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Cover and cook on low for @15 minutes. Prepare noodles according to package, then drain. Serve stroganoff over noodles while hot from the pot. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serves 8-10 hungry eaters. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Smothered Squash

Before we talk squash, let's talk spam! Fix your settings to moderate all comments that are over two days old. This keeps about 99% of the evil spam from being published on your beloved blog. It also negates the necessity of having that confounded {insert cuss words here} Word Verification control on. Now . . . on with the recipe:

Smothered Squash

6 medium-small yellow squash cut in 1/4-inch rounds 
1 medium white or Vidalia onion cut in thin rings
Olive or coconut oil 
1 tsp. sugar of half a packet of sweetener 

Saute onions in oil for about 10 minutes or until they turn clear. Add in squash and stir. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a sprinkle of garlic powder to taste. Cover and simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes or until squash is "fall apart" tender. Serves 6. 

Easy, quick, delicious! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Two-fer Tasty Tuesday! Grab a Plate.

We're eating healthier and getting in some exercise in the Ledbetter household, and that extends to the S.O.'s of said family. Last week, daughter's sweet boyfriend cooked this chicken for us, and it was deeeee-licious! 

Bubba's Crispy Oven Fried Chicken

1 package chicken breasts (cut into strips) 
Cornflakes (fill large Ziplock 2/3 full and crush up)
8-oz. reduced fat shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 packets dry Ranch dip
Egg whites for dredging

Coat chicken strips in egg white, then put into cornflakes. Shake well to coat. Spray cookie sheet well with non-stick spray and add coated chicken strips. Bake on 350 for 45 minutes or until brown and crispy. 

**To complete the meal, we added baked sweet potato fries; asparagus, squash & zucchini medley (recipe below); fresh green beans, and corn. A great and filling supper! 

Grilled Veggie Trio

1 bunch fresh asparagus 
2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash (cleaned & cut into strips) 
2 T. pure coconut oil (or olive oil) 
Sea salt, pepper, minced or squeeze garlic to taste 
Juice from one lemon or concentrate 
1 1/2 T. dry ranch dressing 
Parmesan cheese 

Saute veggies in a large pan in oil of your choice, stirring to mix in all other seasonings, and until done but still crisp. **The coconut oil is great for your "good cholesterol" and adds great flavor. Cover with lid and simmer on low for @ 15 minutes, continuing to stir. Serve hot for a healthy and tasty side dish. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Funnies - Blonde Goes Postal

Yay, it's Friday! Hope you have a few laughs this weekend. :D Here's a little humor to get you started right ~~~

A blonde needs some stamps for Easter cards she's mailing out, so goes to the post office for her purchase. 

She asks the clerk, "May I have 50 Easter stamps with cute little bunnies or pretty flowers on them, please?" 

The clerk asks, "What denomination?" 

The blonde swings her long hair, digs a calculator out of her purse and starts calculating. Finally she says in a snide voice, "Well! Has it come to this? Give me 22 Catholics, 12 Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran, and 6 Baptists." 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Snappy Brussels Sprouts

I know this is one of those veggies like broccoli that everyone loves to hate, but if you give 'em a fair shake, they're really good. There's some confusion on their name (Brussel vs. Brussels), but these little cabbage-like beauties pack a powerful health benefit punch: 

@ Cholesterol-lowering and fiber-loaded 
@ Good for digestion 
@ Stabilize DNA inside white blood cells (infection fighters) 
@ Cancer protection 

So, now that you know the true inner beauty of Brussels Sprouts, here's a quick and delicious recipe: 

Snappy Brussels Sprouts

Steam a bag of frozen sprouts or enough fresh for four servings, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off heat and drain. Add in 3 T. garlic butter (or Smart Balance + minced garlic to taste, or 1 T. coconut oil + minced garlic). I've made them all three ways and each version is good. Squeeze in juice from half a fresh lemon. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix flavors. Put the lid back on and let "marinate" for a few minutes. Serve hot. 

What's your favorite green veggie? 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cajun Secret to a Long Marriage . . .

Thanks to my dad for sending me this smile of the day~~~

At St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Hackberry, Louisiana, down near the bayou, they have weekly husbands' marriage seminars. At the session last week, the priest asks Boudreaux, who said he was
approaching his 50th wedding anniversary, to take a few minutes and share some insight into how he had managed to stay married to the same woman for five decades. 

Boudreaux replies to the assembled husbands, "Mais, I try to treat my Marie nice. I spend money on her, invite her sometimes to da bouree game down at Poppa Tops Bar, and tings like dat. But best of all, I took her to France for da 25th anniversary!" 

"Boudreaux, you are an amazing inspiration to all the husbands here! Please tell us what you are planning for your wife for your 50th anniversary?" the priest says. 

Boudreaux puffs out his chest and replies, "Mais, padre, I gonna go pick her up." 


Have a great weekend and lotsa laughs, you! :D 

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