Chewing the fat with a country girl

Right now, it is early Saturday morning, dark and raining. Daylight is very slow in coming and it is, indeed, a good day to write. So, with coffee in hand, I compose this post.

November was a very interesting month for me and, lucky for you, I feel like telling you all about it!

First, about NaNoWriMo. I did not write the required number of 50,000 words and did not win the coveted prize – the NaNo tee shirt. Believe it or not, I’m okay with that. Without having more than a vague notion on Day 1 of what I wanted to write, I really didn’t expect to accomplish such a lofty goal. As the days progressed and my ideas stagnated, I began to write pure garbage to try to maintain a decent word count. Then, it occurred to me that I was wasting valuable time for nothing. Don’t get me wrong. Out of the 23,706 words I have written, I might could use four or five thousand as a beginning draft to my story. And, that is good! It is a beginning. It is more than I had on October 31. Next, I begin the task of writing each of my possible three plots to see which one works.

Second, I recently received a renewal notice from my web host regarding cindyscountrycorner.com. Wow. That means I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a year now. The notice made me think about my site and how it first got started. In the beginning, I had no idea where it was headed. I thought I’d write more entries than I actually did. I thought I’d write more about aging, and books, and recipes. I thought I’d write more about the lowcountry and events going on in my neck of the woods. Turns out, this blog is not any of those things. It is really just my journal of life. It means that this blog will never get famous or that strangers from the world over will hang on every word I write or that advertisers will clamor for a spot on my site. And, I’m okay with that, too. That one renenwal notice solidified for me what this blog is about.  

But, that revelation made me realize that I want to start another website. My OTHER website. The one where I actually DO write about the people and events in the lowcountry. It will be an on-line magazine. And, it will be the definitive site to visit if you are a local or a visitor to my neck of the woods! And, of course, it will attract both local and web advertisers. Well, that’s my dream, anyway! I have a domain name picked out, but cannot reveal it yet. I wouldn’t want someone else to buy it first!

A third thing that happened to me in November is meeting a writer, Amy Oscar, who is in the process of writing a book about angels. She is looking for angel stories to include in her project and I directed her to two of my stories – “Millie’s Angel” and “Thinking in Threes.”  The exciting news is that she likes one of these stories (“Thinking in Threes”) and is including it in her work! Oh, I don’t get paid for the story or anything like that. Heck, I’m not even sure I will be given credit. She might only use bits and pieces of the story for all I know. But, the thing that is important is that I wrote something that someone else can use. Writing doesn’t get any better than that, me thinks! (I’ve added her personal website, Story, Spirit, Seed to my Sites I Like list located on the left sidebar of this page)

A fourth thing that happened last month is that one of my blog pictures was used on another website and it links to my website!  The picture is one I took this past summer during sister vacation. It is a shot of the front of Phipp’s Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. Go here to see it! http://www.nextstop.com/guide/Y4WaPVDKSI4/go-pittsburgh/

A fifth thing is that I joined Facebook. If any of you would like to friend me there, you can find me by clicking anywhere on my Facebook Profile Badge which is located on the left sidebar of this page (near the very bottom of the page).

Oh, and one other thing that I should have mentioned earlier is that I am going to start writing my cookbook. I had forgotten about my desire to do that until a few days before Thanksgiving. My friend at work, Pat, had found a macaroni and cheese recipe on All Recipes she wanted to use for her big family Thanksgiving reunion. I remembered one that I make that is super easy and super good. It is from “Mrs. Whaley’s Charleston Kitchen.” This is a wonderful little cookbook that is also filled with pearls of wit and wisdom from a very charming and witty Charleston grand dame. I hadn’t had this book out in a while and immediately fell in love with Emily Whaley all over again. Since I am full of advice and opinions and love to cook, I thought that I, too, could become a cookbook author! Maybe I’ll call my cookbook “Chewing the Fat with a Country Girl.” Haha!

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A new look to my blog

Hi, everyone!

As you can see, my blog looks a bit different. I worked on it quite a bit over the weekend.

I hope you like the new header. I have been wanting to change it ever since I first started blogging. You see, the theme I use, called Tarski, is free. It comes with several choices to use as a standard header and the one I liked best was the one you used to see every time you visited my site. It was a pretty nice header. My problem with it, is that quite a few other bloggers use that same header, which made my blog look like so many others.  

But, now my blog header is different than everyone else’s in the world, because the pictures used to create this new header are mine! I took the one on the left from our boat while traveling on Folly River on our way to the beach. The middle picture was taken at Beidler Forest, part of Four Holes Swamp. The picture on the right is of Lake Marion.

I had tried several times before to change the default header to one of my own design, but had no luck. I finally forced the time over the weekend to figure out the errors and get it done!

I’ve also changed a few things on my sidebar. Please take the time to navigate down the side there to see those changes. I hope you like the Quote of the day, Word of the day and Pun of the day! Do you see the “Recent Comments” section highlighting the most recent comments to my blog?

I hope you also click on a few of the “Sites I Like.” Let me provide an overview of these. The first site listed is “All Recipes,” http://allrecipes.com/. If you have never checked out this site, please do when you get a chance. There are thousands of recipes available to use, with reviews and ratings! I have found many great recipes on this site that I use all the time. One thing I really like about this site is that I can search for recipes using a specific ingredient. For instance, (not that this has happened to me recently) let’s say I have been inundated with zucchini in the garden and I am sick of the 20 different ways I’ve prepared it in the past three weeks and I have more in my vegetable crisper getting ready to go bad.  I can type zucchini as my key ingredient and find lots of other scrumptious ways to make it!

 Another Site I like is “An Englishman in New Jersey,” http://englishmannj.blogspot.com/, a blog written by my friend, Graham Gudgin. He is an ex-pat Brit living in New Jersey. Sometimes his take on being such a fellow is quite funny!

The Beidler Forest Blog, http://beidlerforest.blogspot.com/ has stories and pictures about life in the swamp! Mark Musselman is an excellent photographer and I never tire of looking at his pictures.

The barbecue website, Blog-B-Que, http://blogbque.com/, is a relatively new site. It was created by a few of my friends, Shelly, Russ and Rick. It has great barbecue/outdoor cooking recipes and tips from regular folks like you and me. As a matter of fact, I have a guest post on their site (click here to see it http://tinyurl.com/mg4ox7) and plan to add a few more.

Frame by Frame, http://framebyframe.godlaughs.net/ is a blog written by my friend Dr. Rus Jeffrey. He and his wife Sandra preview a lot of movies every week and Dr. Rus writes a very thoughtful review. If you like movies, you may want to check out his site before you spend your dollars going to the movie theater!

Well, LolCats, http://icanhascheezburger.com/, is one of those sites that once you get there, it’s hard to leave! You can even create an account yourself and create your own Lolcats!

And finally, A Daily Wag, http://dailywag.marthastewart.com/, is one of Martha Stewart blogs, about the adventures of her two dogs, Francesca and Sharkey. It’s cute! I think my friend, Daneen, would like it, for sure!

I have made other changes to my blog, too. One, is a way for you to get notification when comments are made on a post. When you first make a comment, you will now notice a box at the bottom of your comment  allowing you to check it if you want to get notified when someone else makes a comment. So, when you say something funny or profound and want to know what others think about your comment, you can now get a notification via email. Try it out and let me know how it works for you.

Additionally, I have added a “Share This” button at the bottom of every post. This allows you to send a link to the story you just read to all of your friends! If you are on Facebook, MySpace, Digg, or a ton of other social sites, you can just click on the appropriate button. To send an email, click on the email tab! Send my story to everyone you know!

Also, dear faithful readers (you know who you are),I am always looking for something to write about. Please email me with your story ideas!

Caio!

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Twitter

Most of you have probably heard of twitter. It’s been plastered all over the news – celebrities using it, politicians using it, jurors tweeting during trials, basketplayers tweeting during halftime, people losing their jobs over it, yada, yada.

Some of you may even be twitterers. I am a twitterer – my username is cindyoyo.  I’m not sure now how I came up with that name. I had decided to sign up for twitter to see what it was all about, but didn’t think I’d really use it, so I didn’t put much thought into a username. I did try using cindyo (since my name is Cindy O’Something), but it was already in use.

Most people liken twitter to a huge cocktail party. Everyone there is milling about hearing snippets of conversations. Since it is a cocktail party and you are suppose to mingle, you may hear someone talk about something that interests you and you stop there and chime in with your thoughts about the subject.  And, then, if they drift into another conversation that doesn’t interest you, you might continue strolling around the room to join in another conversation that does.

 The basic premise of twitter is to answer the question, “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less.

So, at this most basic level, you might see comments like, “Stuck in a traffic jam,” “Eating sushi for lunch,” “housecleaning sucks,” “kids at soccer practice,” “why did the chicken cross the road?,” yada, yada.  These kinds of comments are aimed at no one in particular. They just answer the question, “What are you doing?” Some of these comments can be boring or incredibly funny or disarming.

I have become friends with “tweeple” from all over the world. Well, some are mere acquaintances, but some, those that you engage in conversations with often, become actual friends. These are people you would take the time to see if you were in their hometown, maybe meet for a beer or a cup of coffee.  I talk to people in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Lithuania, England, Ireland, Wales, Canada, and all over the U.S!  It’s fun to see how we are different and also how much we are alike. Some of the people I follow are writers, gardeners, cooks.   I enjoy our conversations, and also learn something new everyday!

So, if you want to twitter, go for it. But, after all the positive things I have just said about it, let me also warn you about its negatives.  First, twitter can be addicting. Once you start meeting people and having conversations, you discover how much fun it is and you spend more and more time twitting with them. And, while you are twitting, you are not doing other things. This addiction makes me think of a quote from John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Modify it for twitter and it would be, “Life is what happens while you are busy twittering.”  

Second, all twitterers have to keep a vigilant lookout for spammers and phishers. These are people that follow you and then encourage you to follow them back solely to either sell you something or to direct you to a link that might ask for personal information or might download a virus.  Since twitter is a casual social experience, some tweeple may have a tendency to let their guards down and can sometimes get suckered into one of these scams. 

There are obvious things to look for when deciding to follow someone you don’t know yet. One is the twitterer’s profile. Does the profile include a picture and biography of that person? Does that twitterer have followers and how many? Does that twitterer engage in conversations with other twitterers (real people) or just send “sale messages,” i.e.,  “I got a free PC and it really works! Click here for details.”  There are some “bots’ (not real people, but rather computer generated robots) that aren’t so blatantly obvious. But typically, if after looking at a profile, you think it’s safe to follow someone you don’t know, then follow. Try to engage the person in conversation (‘bots’ cannot reply). And, don’t click on any links sent to you by this person until you are sure, it is indeed, a real person that is trusted by numerous other twitterers. Spammers and pshishers are not out to find quality relationships. They simply reach out to the masses, hoping to rope someone in. It will not take long for you to determine if another twitterer is worth following.

You don’t have to let what I just said scare you off, though. From a security standpoint using twitter is no different than using email. You handle your twitter account like you handle your email account. You don’t open emails from people you don’t know, right? And hopefully, you are extremely selective about what links to click on. It is the same with twitter.  

If you decide you want to try twitter, you must sign up for an account at http://www.twitter.com. You also have to start following people and engaging in conversations. Follow me at @cindyoyo! I’d love to twitter with you!

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