Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Appearing for a limited time:

A little poem I wrote.

On Writing

What do I know?
I didn’t invent language
I can’t answer
For the way it rains
Clears the air, puddles in places
Generally, I avoid it with
An umbrella of busyness
Or I fall in, unwillingly
Wet and uncomfortably cold
Am I supposed to show this to people?
The aftermath of a cloudburst
In my head?
What can they know
About riding out storms
Hunkered down
With a flimsy keyboard
For protection
They read words
To laugh or cry, to relax
They want user friendly words
To dream or forget
What do I know?
I write words to survive.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Three Corrections

I thought I better clarify the contest rules:

1. To enter: leave a comment and/or become a follower. I'd love to hear about anything you've won (0r lost), but any comment will be counted as an entry. The drawing will be random. ( I will not be judging the comment/stories - but I do love reading them!)

2. I will announce the winner on March 1st.

3. The prize will be a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Contests: winning, losing and otherwise

Last year I entered and won the American Mother’s Inc. State poetry contest. It is a fabulous organization for women. I was honored to win and was invited to their luncheon, allowed to read my poem and grateful to meet many friendly and inspiring mothers.

I also entered a few other poetry contests last year, most with the announcement of winners in February – this month. I suppose it could be a saving grace that the contests do not send letters to all but one of the entrants declaring “You Lost.” Posting the picture, bio and poem of the winner on their website is enough heartbreak. (Don’t worry. I have a comforting reserve of Valentine chocolates.)

I received one peculiar notice announcing the winner, not me, but stating my poem was under consideration for publication and I’d be notified by such-and-such date. It looked suspiciously form letterish and having suffered so recently from several losses in a row, I didn’t feel encouraged by it. I guess I’m not in the mood to be strung along.

Speaking of mood, I was thinking how I could turn mine around. Months ago, in a weak moment, I allowed myself to think of what I might do with any ‘winnings’ (read: money) – I thought how fun it would be to share the wealth – you know, have a contest and offer a bona fide cash prize.
So today when sitting down to blog or post or whatever the verb is for what I’m doing, I thought, ‘so much for the blog contest’. The generous-fighter-let-nothing-stop-me girl who is always trying to get more attention said, (you can probably see this coming)- “Have the contest anyway!”

So here goes: Leave a comment. Tell me what you’ve won, lost or otherwise (it can be anything – writing contests, radio contests, 3rd grade spelling bee – I’m really flexible here) Feb 28th I’ll announce the winner of a $20 Amazon gift card. Become a follower for an extra entry. Thanks for reading & good luck.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened . . .

. . .on the way home from cake class. I forgot to secure the cake. Maybe it was late, maybe I was in a hurry to get home. Maybe I wasn’t thinking about the large chunk of my life I’d already spent mixing, baking and icing this cake. Could I have forgotten the two plus hours I had just spent learning how to make it look like a bakery shelf showpiece? Evidently yes.

It happened at the first stoplight; I was in the car five minutes or less. I stopped and the cake slid easily off its ridiculously precarious perch, flipped over and landed near my feet. Really, what was I thinking?

I got home, surveyed the damage and consoled myself, “this was a practice cake.” I felt deflated anyway–all that learning & practice --and for what?

The resident teenager arrived on the scene and quickly pointed out my cake didn’t look so good, but followed that keen observation with a worried, “Is it still okay to eat?”
Deflated me, “Of course.”
Hollow-leg teenager, “Now?”
Me, “Oh, why not – just take a picture first.”
Confused teenager laughing, “Are you sure you want to document this?”

Yes. Disfigured as it was, I wanted to remember my cake and the new lesson I was reluctantly learning from it.

I thought of my writing efforts and current work in progress (for the record – I don’t try to compare everything in life to writing, my brain appears to do it for me automatically!) and realized the same kind of thing could happen. I could spend hours, days and okay, years working on a project and it could fall flat on its face. I don’t like to contemplate such anxiety-inducing images, but a funny thing happens when I accept the worst possible outcome. I decide it is worth it – the work, effort and risk –are all worth it. For the process, for what I learn, for what I gain. If I have a finished product that looks like a showpiece, I won’t complain, but I’ll remember it’s the creativity that brings joy.

I’ll also remember –if I ever take a field trip with my manuscript – that little bundle of joy will be securely fastened by a seatbelt!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can you have your cake and eat it, too?

Only if you remember to hide it!
These chocolate-covered chocolate and strawberry cake bites debuted and disappeared at the YW New Beginnings activity last night. I got to eat one of the less pretty ones at home that didn't make the final cut so I don't feel too robbed. But I think another round of rolling and dipping might be in order. Really, I'm very relieved they turned out at all. Usually I don't like to try new recipes when they will be given to people outside my trusting family (it's like inviting disaster right into your day)- but these were too yummy to pass up!
If you are curious and read through to the end of the post to see the recipe, you might notice these innocent looking numbers take a little bit of work. I think somewhere around rolling the fortieth cake ball, I began asking myself what had possessed me to undertake such a project in the first place (that and the meaning of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness). My first thought was "I wonder if I could make those?" I could have easily answered "of course" without having to give my kitchen a crumb coat. My next thought, more difficult to dismiss was, "I wonder what they taste like." That did it. Chocolate cravings easily overrode any rational thought and three days later -voila - cake bites!
So are they worth the effort? You'll have to decide that for yourself. My verdict? Absolutely. Creating any art takes work, making the completion of it all the more satisfying- the upside to edible art? You get to eat it -well, if you're fast.
Cake Bites
Recipe by Kathy Oaks
Makes 40-50
1 devil's food cake mix
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup butter
6 ounces cream cheese
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Milk, enough to make a good frosting
Dipping chocolate
Directions: Make cake according to directions on box and bake as directed. While baking, mix together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make a frosting. When cake is done dump immediately into a large bowl with the cream cheese frosting (or store bought frosting) and mix it all together while still hot (it will be a little mushy). Refrigerate overnight. Roll into balls and dip in melted dipping chocolate. If balls are sticky I put them in freezer bags and flash freeze them until I'm ready to dip. They will freeze beautifully for months before they are dipped, just let them thaw for about 5 minutes before dipping to prevent cracking. Once cake bites are dipped do not refrigerate or freeze, just eat them! *You can also use cream cheese frosting that you buy at the store. **German chocolate cake mix mixed with German chocolate frosting and dipped in milk chocolate is also very tasty.


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