Low-calorie holiday treats that won’t cause diarrhea!

image Unless you’re a hyperactive nine-year-old fueled by Pixie Sticks and Hostess Cupcakes without an ounce of concern for weight-gain because concern is the ONLY ounce you’re going to gain this holiday season, then you’re like the rest of us trying to get through the next six weeks without looking like Jabba the Hutt’s stunt double.

What this means is finding a healthy balance between satisfying your God-given right to partake in all of those delicious holiday treats while, at the same time, adhering to the God-given Commandment to avoid gluttony.

Yes, the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways. Take fruitcake for example…

No, seriously. Please take mine.

That’s because over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing quick and easy holiday recipe tips that are both low-calorie and delicious! And not just because “quick and easy” is my pet name.

Today, I am going to show you how to make a cup of hot chocolate that you can drink as an alternative to buttered rum or egg nog, which are not only high in calories but, depending on the alcohol content, can lead to makinge a snow angel in the front yard wearing nothing but a Santa hat.

In August.  Continue reading

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Some tryptophan-inspired tips for NaNoWriMo writers

imageWelcome to a special post-Thanksgiving edition of Ned’s blog! What makes this post special? It’s the only day of the year I can refer to the writing tips I’m about to share as “giblets of wisdom.” The same goes for other Thanksgiving-themed writing idioms, such as “stuffing the bird,” “mixing my gravy” and “rinsing the gizzard.”

Ok, you’re right. Those last three don’t sound appropriate ANY time of year, including Valentine’s Day (depending on what you’re into).

For those of you who may be visiting for the first time (assuming you’re still reading), each Friday for two years I posted a weekly feature called Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I shared insights gained from 16 years as a newspaper columnist and offer them like the wax paper-wrapped innards of a holiday turkey; obviously important enough to include but something no one really wants to think about.

It was a weekly post The Master of Horror Stephen King® called “…the place I go to find answers to writing questions I never thought to ask. At least while sober…”

It was that kind of powerful, completely fictitious testimony that prompted me to combine those two years of writing tips into my second book, Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist, which was released last month.

Or maybe “escaped” is a better word.

Either way, with NaNoWriMo coming to an end and second and third drafts of manuscripts soon to be underway, I thought it would be a good time to pull an excerpt from my book about what to look for when revising, editing and polishing your manuscript.  Continue reading

A whisper rooted in thankfulness

Since becoming editor at Siuslaw News in September (Yes, I’m still the editor), one of my goals has been to make a more personal connection as a newspaper with our community. In Wednesday’s issue, I took the opportunity to open up a bit to our readers about one of the things I’m most thankful for and why…image

 

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Though it’s been 35 years since I arrived in Oregon as a high school sophomore, when people ask where I moved from, I still whisper when I say, “California.”

I do so in jest (mostly), secure in the knowledge that revealing my California roots — however withered — won’t suddenly bring nearby conversations to an embarrassing halt, leaving cricket chirps in its place.

Part of the reason is because, more often than not, those around me are also originally from California.

Seriously, folks. I’ve heard you whispering.

But recently, I’ve come to realize there’s a different reason I whisper when it comes to explaining where I was in relation to where I am now.

It’s a whisper rooted in thankfulness.  Continue reading

Separating Thanksgiving fact from fiction with the help of Mr. Knowitall

image It’s been more than 300 years since that first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians sat down together in celebration and, much like the Americans of today, made a solemn vow not to eat more than your standard bull elk.

We know this because of a passage recently discovered in the diary of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, who described the first Thanksgiving like this:

Our harvest be large so that we might rejoice! Our plates and bellies be full to swelling! We have feasted on meats and gathered crops, and pies of sweet fruit!
Aye, I say! I think it be time to vomit!

— Edward Winslow, Dec. 13, 1621

In spite of this kind of irrefutable historic documentation, many myths still exist about one of our most celebrated holidays. For example: Did anyone actually eat the Indian corn, or was it just used as a decoration? Continue reading

I’m finally giving up on being People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’

imageAdmittedly, I have given up my dream of being called “Sexiest Man Alive” by anyone other than my incredibly supportive, beautiful and nearsighted wife.

Back when George Clooney got the title a second time in 2006, I was inspired to continue my quest. Sure, the fact that he is ruggedly handsome, square-jawed and extremely fit were factors to consider — assuming you’re into those kinds of things — but he had a much more important quality that gave me hope: He’s actually WAY older than me!

By a good five years.

Which is almost a decade, really.

So, given our conclusion that George Clooney is practically a Centenarian, I was feeling pretty good about my chances, even after being overlooked for Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, Matt Damon, Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth, Dave Beckham, Ross Murray, etc.  Continue reading

Thanks to our veterans, there will be plenty of time to disagree tomorrow

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Driving to work this morning, talk radio stations were full of the continuing discussion and debate over the elections. Hosts grilled pollsters, questioned campaign strategists and analysts. Guests expressed their exuberance or dismay over the results. Prognosticators made predictions ranging from whimsy to woe.

As I listened, I noticed one topic that was missing from today’s discussion table:

Veterans.

Without the fundamental right we have as a Democracy to vote, there would be no election to discuss — and without the service and sacrifice of others in defense of our nation, there would be no Democracy to afford us that precious right to vote.  Continue reading

The heart of Democracy isn’t in the chosen — but in the choosing

I purposely wrote today’s editorial early Tuesday morning, before any results, acceptance speeches or other Election Night events could influence my thoughts. I wrote this with my community in mind, however far that reaches…

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imageI’m writing this Tuesday morning, well before the final votes will be tallied and, quite possibly, contested by one side or the other in the days and weeks ahead.

As much as I’d like to believe Tuesday night will close the final chapter in a political season that
has played out more like a work of fiction than reality, my gut tells me there is already a sequel in the works to this poorly written chapter in American political history.

Yet, as I slipped my ballot into the drop box this morning, I thought of the poem “Election Day, November 1884” by Walt Whitman. In it, he eloquently expresses the simple but important notion that the act of voting is, in itself, more powerful than any individual elected within our Democracy.

The still small voice vibrating — America’s choosing day, the heart of it
not in the chosen, (but) the act itself the main — the quadriennial
choosing…

In this era of social media coverage, on-demand soundbites and the constant barrage of political ads, posts and Tweets, it’s easy to forget the fundamental value our vote represents — and that the sum total of our Democracy is larger than any one individual.  Continue reading

Not even bad Tofurkey will stop you NaNoWriMo writers!

imageLet’s be honest: No one is going to read this.

Why?

Because everyone is busy working on their novel this month! Who has time to read a blog post — even if it’s about writing — when they have 30,000 words remaining in their 50,000-word manuscript, no to mention a 30-lb. Thanksgiving turkey already thawing in the sink?

Plus, in just a few weeks, many NaNoWriMo participants will be following up their day of giving “thanks” by attacking fellow shoppers on Black Friday for the last pair of “Walking Dead” slippers! What if their fingers get broken during a tussle at Target? Or they get walloped at Walmart? Mauled at Macy’s? Shanked at Sears? Body slammed at Bloomingdales?

You get the idea.

Even though it’s less than a week into NaNoWriMo, a lot of writers are feeling the pressure to finish their manuscripts before Nov. 24 because anything can happen once Thanksgiving Day arrives. No one wants to take the chance of being within 500 words of finishing their manuscript, only to have it consumed in a sudden turkey flashover fire thanks to the combustable nature of aunt Renee’s new whiskey stuffing recipe.  Continue reading