The Tried and the True

Sriracha hot sauce
Sriracha hot sauce (Photo credit: kattebelletje)

There are two things I have a knack for. One is cooking, as long as there’s no serious pastry work involved. (Pastry and I stare at each other and circle distrustfully.) I enjoy trying out new recipes with ingredients I can incorporate in other recipes. I want to use up what I buy, not use it once and have it taking up space in my fridge until it curls up and dies, rots, and stinks. For example, there is an almost full bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce in my fridge leftover from an Asian dish I tried during our China unit study. It’s a niggling reminder every time I open the fridge. (The spiciness is not getting the thumbs-up from my kids. Someone please give me some mild-tasting ways to make it palatable, else I have a feeling I’m going to become all thrifty and try to add it to a homemade shampoo or facial toner. Save me!)

dolmas
dolmas (Photo credit: tofutti break)

I follow some kindred spirit food blogs—those are blogs that promote recipes with comforting staple ingredients—like Maggiesonebuttkitchen. Yes, the word “butt” is in the title of a food blog, and it happens to be a good food blog. Many of Maggie’s recipes require simple, everyday ingredients, like her Peach Snack Cake. She also showed me how to roast garlic, and her Dolma is on my “gotta try this” list. Okay, so grape leaves in brine aren’t hanging out in my pantry, but Maggie persuades me not to listen to myself about leftover ingredients. Mmm.

Last month I was introduced to at350degrees. Warning! This one’s pretty much all about sweets. Just going to the blog homepage will make you drool. At least, it makes me drool. Carissa finds recipes, tries them, and provides links for the recipe. My next guilt trip will be the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge. And then I will be dead of sweets overdose and become an example to food bloggerdom of what not to tempt your readers to try. But until then, let’s be optimistic and pretend I can get away with eating things that pair cookie dough and fudge together, shall we?

I also have a knack for writing. Surprised? Yeah, I’m full of surprises. My forte is character-driven fiction, and I have a ton to learn. I receive a lot of encouragement in my craft from the thoughts, questions, and discoveries of other WordPress writer-bloggers. Here are the ones on my instant email list, the ones who often speak to my writer’s soul: (They are in chronological order, the first being the one I’ve followed the longest.)

Twisting Threads: There’s a rhythm to Twithre’s thoughts. I can relate to her frustrations. She talks about floundering at times. She’s not afraid to admit defeat. In fact, she gains ground as she think-writes her way through situations. Her post Home Sweet Park is a glimpse into her interesting childhood experiences.

Ayesha Schroeder—One of my favorites is: Lofty Goals and the Like, where she reminds her readers, “Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from setting your goals.”

JMMcDowell: She recently wrote Am I Good At This—Or Not, and it was a candid look that reassured me of what every writer faces.

Thursday’s Child: Her writing style has an intensity I admire. Many of her posts express how she relishes life and love, like Feelings of Nostalgia. She wrote a post in December entitled, Developing Characters. It has some great suggestions for writers with a philosophical turn.

Joseph M Kurtenbach likes to entertain with his posts, and he is super imaginative. I think we share a dread of posting something we’ll regret, but I’m not certain about that one. Maybe that’s just me. 😳 One of his adventures that makes me laugh is My Run In with a Ninja Ant.

This month I’ve added wogginswriting. His “De Baiting Game” is hilarious and so true.

What are some tried-and-true blogs that have inspired you?

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What I Love…That Doesn’t Love Me

Scissors
Scissors (Photo credit: Uwe Hermann)

I love crafty things, but I’m not crafty. As I’ve told you before, I should have come with the warning label, “Don’t give scissors to this one.” Handing me scissors doesn’t mean I turn into a Gremlin or anything; I will simply destroy whatever I’m supposed to be cutting. Wait. Maybe I do turn into a Gremlin. Seriously, it’s bad.

I have a close friend, Holly, who is amazing with scissors—and anything else crafty. She shares cool ideas for what to do with paper on her blog, HS Homemade, and she just moved her blog from Blogger to WordPress! Am I excited? Honestly, when I found out, I gave a fangirl squee :o! I’ve followed her blog for over a year because I’m in awe of what she can create. It’s just paper, right? But now it’s the cutest little owl or a fancy card set to give as a gift. She shares her scrapbook layouts and easy sewing projects, and best of all are the mushy little messages she slips into her husband’s suitcase when he goes away on business. Valentines are year round at her house! And, yes, she’s just as fun in person as her writing depicts. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Piano
Piano (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

I also have no talent for painting, drawing, or playing an instrument. What is in my mind doesn’t translate easily for me through any form of art but writing. I’ll compose a song in my head and set down any lyrics, but playing it on the piano is not enjoyable. I will visualize an image, and the sketch that follows only serves to frustrate me. My hands won’t carry out what my mind wants to express.

That yearning is key to why certain paintings, drawings, pictures, and musical compositions inspire me. One artist on WordPress continues to talk to me through shapes, lines, and, most of all, through color. Marina Kanavaki’s watercolor work fascinates me. I can’t rationally explain why I like the woods IV, but I really do. I know forest #3 and atom flowers #10 speak to me about serenity of color. Marina uses a ton of green, which makes me happy. Her work reminds me that beauty isn’t always definable.

Two months ago, I started following I like photo..!, where mac collects beautiful photos, many of them scenic landscapes. This blog lets me take a peek at places in the world, highlighting their most brilliant aspects. When possible, the picture includes a link to the photographer’s collection. These are photos I certainly wouldn’t have found on my own. One of my favorites is Lago Maggiore, North Italy. It’s like looking at a fairytale scene.

So, what do you enjoy that isn’t necessarily something you’re talented at doing?