Monday, September 20, 2010

Quick Fix for Blah Writing and Chocolate Crackle-Top Minis


Tallgrass, a novel by Sandra Dallas, was lent to me by Stella. The novel's narrator is a thirteen-year-old girl in a small town in Colorado where the government opens a Japanese internment camp during World War II. That would cause enough turmoil in a small town, but then a young girl is murdered. This book gives a balanced portrayal of prejudice and fear through the eyes of compelling characters and vivid details of the 1940s. Notice how the small everyday details of how everyday life was lived bring the story to life. Useful whether you are writing life story, general nonfiction or fiction.


Quick fix for blah writing. Go to Hutchinson Dictionary of Difficult Words  I love this place. Here is how they explain it. “Do you aim to become a member of the literati, or do you wish to be a savant? Do you want to avoid being verbigerative and be succinct instead? Search the Hutchinson Dictionary of Difficult Words' A-Z index of over 13,900 difficult words to increase your vocabulary or just find out what those words really mean!”

2010 Johnson County Master Gardeners Tour

While we don't want our writing to be as overblown as this lady's "hairdo,"  we can add richness, depth, and texture to our writing by expanding our vocabulary. You may not even use the word itself. Explore the subtlety of meaning. Use those shades in your own writing.

Find more resources such as this at


Write about the worst hairdo or haircut you ever had. Years ago I moved to a new city. Soon I needed a hair cut. When I emerged from the salon, my bangs were about one inch in length -- if that long. Or they seemed that way to me. Guess I was too young to realize hair grows. I cried for an hour and couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror for weeks. Write for ten minutes about hair, what it means, how you relate to it, what you have done in the name of beauty. Let the writing rest for a few days. Revise and rewrite. Add it to your life story book or -- shape it into an essay or story and send it out for publication.


This recipe is lifted directly from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone's recipes on  I'm not crazy about peanut butter, but the photo that was in Peggy's newsletter looked super yummy. She writes, "The peanut butter topping crackles to reveal dark chocolate base in these delicious mini-muffins. They begin with a boxed cake mix, so they are simple to make.  These little morsels are not overly sweet as you might expect. If you want that extra sugar kick, dust the mini-muffins with powdered sugar just before serving."  © 2010 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to, Inc. Thanks, Peggy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crackle-top Minis

Bottom Layer:

1 package (about 18.4 ounces) devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 Tablespoons) butter, melted but cool
1 Tablespoon water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Top Layer:

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 ounces (3/4 of a large block) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
Powdered sugar for dusting, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini-muffin tins with papers.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, butter, water, and eggs. Mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Fold in chocolate chips.
In a small bowl, cream peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, and cream cheese until smooth. Add egg and mix just until incorporated.
Fill each mini-muffin paper with about 1 Tablespoon of the chocolate mix. Top with about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mix.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on racks. Just before serving, dust mini-cups with powdered sugar.
Yield: about 60 mini-muffins

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