Words of inspiration from Jill Badonsky

I have two of Jill Badonsky’s books: The Awe-manac and The Muse Is In

Until tonight, I had not opened this newsletter forwarded to me by my wife the same month I left my job almost two years ago. Just one of those emails that slipped by…
I hope the quote nudges you forward in your creative pursuits…

jill badonsky quote with background

If you believe it’s time to give that creative calling inside of you a shot, honor it in some really small way today.

Start by asking “What do I love about my creative passion?” and “What one really small thing I can do to get started?”

Just asking these questions, even without having an answer, will begin to shift your energy toward the thoughts and actions that make it easier to get to your passion.

Once you light that fire, you will shine so brightly, there’s a chance one or two souls will stop their bickering and be inspired to do the same–you will be a catalyst of creative passion. — Jill Badonsky

Excerpts from an interview with writer Joan Wickersham

I came across this interview on one of my favorite writing websites. A few of the lines spoke clearly to me…

Enjoy.

  • “When I am home I tend to become preoccupied with laundry.”
  • “But that boggy, ploddy, stage of blah writing or no writing is just about unbearable while it’s going on.”
  • What’s your advice to new writers?
    “Keep going, and one day you’ll be an old writer.”

http://www.advicetowriters.com/interviews/2015/3/17/joan-wickersham.html

Curation Saturday: Gems from other blogs

1. Alex Markovich shares the products of his photography skills.

alex markovich

https://illustration.art.blog/2018/06/19/illustration-1/
https://illustration.art.blog/2018/06/21/illustration-2/
https://illustration.art.blog/2018/06/30/illustration-3/

2. Virginia puts life in perspective with her Roses in the Rubble.
Quote: “What does it take to stop you? There are all sorts of crutches that keep us from moving forward after our spills (splat) on the pavement of life: bruised egos and empty pockets, tears and fears, maybe sprained hearts too hurt to love anew.”

https://rosesintherubble.com/2018/07/19/character-muscles-crutches/

3. Shape Shifter Fitness keeps me on the culinary straight-and-narrow. Well, he tries to.
Quote [about turmeric]: “The difference it’s made in the quality of Stella’s life by adding it to her dog food has been amazing, and I’ll always be a huge proponent of its benefits for that alone.”

https://shapeshiftpt.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/top-5-new-eat-clean-foods/

4. Cristian Mihai shares his views and expertise on blogging.
Quote: “Accept that you have to add value.”

https://artofblogging.net/2018/07/20/how-to-stop-being-the-invisible-blogger/

Curation Tuesday: More from Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing

From Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You

  • “Do not, for money, turn away from all the stuff have collected in a lifetime.” [For many of us, it’s time to put all we’ve amassed to us.]
  • “Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are—the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore indispensable to others.”  [For me, this requires a daily pep talk. Sometimes, I’m all in. Other times, out of resistance, I drift toward other projects.]
  • “To feed your Muse, then, you should always have been hungry about life since you were a child. If not, it is a little late to start. Better late than never, of course. Do you feel up to it?” [I think Ray would suggest you dive into your closet of notebooks and half-finished works and see what is inches away from being revived.]

I hope a few of Ray Bradbury’s thoughts speak to you as a writer/creator.

Added on September 4, 2018:

Here is blackwings666’s post about Ray Bradbury.

Be open to inspiration. Write on!

Curation Saturday: Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing

From Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You

Excerpt 1:

“I needed that approval. We all need someone higher, wiser, older to tell us we’re not crazy after all, that what we’re doing is all right. All right, hell, fine!”

Yep, I guess that, along with the daily accountability, is why the My 500 Words Facebook group is one I’ve stuck with and visited daily.

These folks are in the trenches with me, many/most of us writing to explore, writing to reflect, writing to release, and sure, some folks are writing to publish, which is certainly just as valid and definitely exciting.

And so Ray B [easier to type than ‘Bradbury’…I think it’s the combination/sequence of the letters] found that validation from a revered 89-year-old art historian, Bernard Berenson.

While I’m not a famed art historian, I hope that my comments and content can provide some validation to fellow writers.

Excerpt 2:

“But it is easy to doubt yourself, because you look around at a community of notions held by other writers, other intellectuals, and they make you blush with guilt. Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.”

With this excerpt, Ray B draws the contrast between himself [“I believe one thing holds it all together. Everything I’ve ever done, I’ve done with excitement, because I wanted to do it, because I loved doing it.”] and many other writers.

As I write this post, as I consider my age, as I think about how I am not overly enthused by rewriting, followed by rewriting, followed by rewriting…and then marketing, I wonder if I’ll ever get anything published. This is not a ‘woe is me’ proposition. It’s just a moment of self-reflection, of revisiting [probably daily] what is more important to me when it comes to writing.

More from this book next week when Ray B addresses the muse…

 

I should have been writing. Instead…apple cake.

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You know how it is.

You find out that the distance between you and YouTube is just a voice command and a few clicks on the TV remote and there really is no reason to leave the recliner.

Okay, maybe you don’t know how it is. [i.e. you are not a slothful low-life.]

Anywaaay, this recipe from joyofbaking.com was the first to show up on the big screen. Stephanie Jaworski’s demonstration was clear and concise. My version matched the one in the video. Always reassuring. The baking time was within the +/- 5 minutes margin-of-oven-performance estimation. Taste and moistness and ingredient ratios–spot on. Final grade: 91%. [Bravo, Stephanie!]

Ready for baking: 

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More than a few notes:

  • One of the best parts of baking–Wife comes in the front door, breathes in, and announces to the world: “Someone’s been baaaaking!”
  • Liked Stephanie’s idea of making an apricot jam glaze. I went with raspberry. Yep, I’d do it again. Always one to hedge my bets, I glazed only half the cake.
  • I add tons more cinnamon than is called for and included allspice as well.
  • I mixed brown with white sugar.
  • No raisins in the house [my preferred dried fruit]. I went with dried cranberries, which I nuked in water for about 45 seconds to tenderize them a bit. Wouldn’t have hurt if I subbed in brandy or creme de cassis for the water.
  • I’m sure this has been suggested elsewhere in the world, but…the microwave’s ‘defrost’ setting works great for melting butter. Ditto for gently reheating certain delicate leftovers like shrimp.
  • Type of apple used: Winter banana [from our weekly community-supported agriculture box. A shout-out to Denison Farms, by the way.]
  • I cook/bake better when a towel is draped over my shoulder. Go figure. I’m not an Emeril Lagasse fan-boy, but he rocks that same shoulder accessory.
  • Yes, I will continue my socially marginal habit of consuming cake by the manually mangled hunk.
  • Where did today’s inspiration come from? A. Those winter banana apples weren’t going to cook themselves.   B. The apple festival-winning cake in last night’s Hallmark movie. [Hey, call me a wuss, but our current crop of semi-journalistically responsible ‘BREAKING NEWS!!!!’ channels are just plain bad for our health. If I’m going to engage in harmful behaviors, they’ll include flour, sugar, butter and a message to someone that I care about them.]
  • If I had more time, I would have revisited Maida Heatter’s apple cake recipe .
  • Lest you think my life is perfection on a plate, consider this:

Our toothpicks are scattered throughout the pot holder drawer. Really…rounding them up and replacing them in a too-small box, from which they will no doubt roll out within minutes…unfathomable torture.

  • I miss having a dog lurking nearby watching my every move.

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Thanks for visiting. Give this recipe a try. It has ‘comfort on a fall Sunday afternoon’ written all over it.

 

 

I should have been writing. Instead…Stovetop Chocolate Cake.

 

File_001Yes, stovetop. A challenge worth pursuing.

This recipe came from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street website.

And I have to say, as with Cook’s Country/America’s Test Kitchen [C. Kimball’s most recent endeavor], the accompanying video segments were extremely helpful.

***

As the cake steams–yep, steams– toward completion, some questions and notions:

  • This will be my default ‘baking’ method during the heat of summer. 
  • A while back, I mentioned my tendency to do weird, lame stuff in the kitchen, such as mixing or chopping at the very edge of the counter. Wull-gee, what are the odds something’s going to end up on the floor? I do eventually learn from repeated bungling, however. So this time, the floor was spared the usual cascade of ingredients. Bravo.
  • Buuuut, did that keep me from having my laptop hanging precariously over counter’s edge as I began typing this post? Uhhh, no. Seems like once I hit my threshold of competency, all bets are off. Hide the knives, check the burners, and pray. [Doesn’t matter which god you choose, by the way. They all understand kitchen hazards. And at some point in the process, I become the poster child.]
  • I should have hired a first-grader to cut my circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.
  • With this stovetop strategy, will we still be treated to the warm, enveloping aroma of a baked chocolate cake? Answer: No.
  • I’m not supposed to lift that lid till the prescribed 23 minutes has lapsed. I actually resisted. Decision: It needed an extra five to seven minutes. On the upside, unless the water has evaporated, the risk of burning the cake is minimal. In other words, steam bath: forgiving…oven heat: cruel and merciless.
  • When it comes to chocolate desserts, our mantra: Dark = better. Darker = more better.
  • Always remember: Eating cake by the hunk enhances flavor by 23%. [Margin of error: +/- 5%]
  • My wife rolls her eyes at my Philistine ways, bBut I say, ‘If I bake it, I break it.’ And it’s oh-so-good that way. Besides, she gets to even out the ragged edges.

Final verdict: This recipe is a keeper. The cake came out dark and dense and moist. What more could you want?

 

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The steaming takes place inside a Dutch oven–actually any pot with a tight-fitting lid and deep/wide enough to fit an eight or nine-inch cake pan. The coil of aluminum foil simply keeps the cake above the heated water.

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The chocolate shmeer on the plate is a sure sign of this cake’s moistness. [The added chocolate chunks don’t hurt either.]

Added notes: Apologies to Bitter Ben, whose blog I follow. Rather than bittersweet, I used semi-sweet chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s.

And to faithful reader Virginia [Roses in the Rubble], try this recipe. It should be a fair payback for the recipes you’ve shared with me.