Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Hangover

Once the turkey hangover passes, that wonderful feeling of relief washes over me. Can you hear my happy sighing through your computer screen? Ahhhhhh. It's the sigh of relief indicating that my cooking and entertaining responsibilities for 2009 are officially over. I'm coasting for the rest of the year!

If you celebrated, I hope your Thanksgiving was great and I hope you're all energized for the next round of partying in December. I, personally, am still working on the "getting energized" part.

Do you know the wonderful Cinner at Things About Who, What, When, Where, Why? She has a beautiful blog, a great attitude and is a delight to spend time with. Please check her out. Cinner recently passed this nice award onto me.

The idea behind the award is to list 10 fun things about yourself, and then forward it to 10 of your favorite blogs. I'm not sure how "fun" my ten things are but here goes....

1) The pool and deck are still in the back yard. Phew! But they have not magically stabilized either. I've spent months working with contractors and engineers combing over blueprints and reports and well, my head hurts at the massive job ahead. We're close to making a final "plan" and decisions on what to do. In the meantime, I'm wearing garlic around my neck, burning sage and looking for an Exorcist so things don't get any worse.

2) Beloved's grand daughter "The Precious One" came home from the opposite coast for the first time since she started college. What a difference three months makes. She was always a poised and sweet girl but now she's a mature young woman-- And she took our breath away. There's no turning back now. She's not a kid anymore. When did that happen?

3) Big Sister called me early Thanksgiving morning to tell me about a muffin that's better than sex. I must admit, she peaked my interest with that one. And she was right! Here's the recipe for "Great Sex Muffins"-- (Get your mind out of the gutter, this is not an R-rated recipe.) The next time you make stuffing, make it a little extra moist with broth or stock. Use an ungreased muffin pan (without the paper liners). Form large "meatballs" out of the stuffing (don't pack together too tightly) and place in the center of each muffin cup. Place a small dab of butter on top of each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, then remove from pan. Prepare yourself for "the scene" from When Harry Met Sally. Eat muffin and enjoy! It's the muffin equivalent of the "crispy on the top, moist the middle" part of the stuffing. I hope it's as good for you as it is for me.

4) Thank gawd the possible pumpkin shortage for Thanksgiving did not hit Los Angeles. I'm guessing pumpkin growers or the likes started that cruel rumor to maximize sales of pumpkin pie. And let me tell you-- It worked! I ran out and bought pumpkin pies three days in a row and I have the extra pounds on my hips to prove it.

5) Nearby Beverly Hills hung their new holiday banners from streetlights. Each picture is a different banner. They look like this.
It's happy and bright and upscale but it kind of makes me feel like I need to dress up to shop there.

6) On the other hand, Target has a new campaign to "sell Christmas". This commercial cracks me up.

7) My holiday shopping list usually has 37 names on it. But this year, my list is only 18 names long. As a sign of the times, and perhaps a touch of holiday humbug combined with a total dislike for shopping, my Ohio family has decided we'll draw names this year. The thought makes me kind of sad for the nieces and nephews (who are ages 15-27) but happy not to empty the wallet this season. How big is your shopping list?

8) Godson has been pushing me to get a dog for years-- You know, because "Beloved needs one". Well, that is not going to happen and I've told him so for the last eight years that he's been "hinting". But, my folks in Ohio just got a new puppy (Noah's on the left) and now he's strongly hinting that we need to go to Ohio over his Christmas vacation to "walk the dog for his God-grandparents-- because they're old and it's cold there". Godson forgets that I know all to well how cold it gets in Ohio which is a big reason why I now live in the Golden State. And FYI--Godson and I go to Ohio "for snow" every other year. Last year we stayed two extra days due to a blizzard that shut the airport down. We're staying in Los Angeles this winter-- where it's snow-free, but I can't blame a guy for trying.

9) If I'm in a carb coma from all the Thanksgiving food I've consumed, why isn't Beloved in a football coma from all the football he watched?

10) The Monday after Thanksgiving ritual continues-- No more carbs, no bah humbug this year, no living in fleece and turtlenecks for the next five months-- it is Southern California, after all, and-- I am going to find my Blog Mojo if it's the last thing I do! Thanks for hanging in there with me while I search for it.

As for the ten blogs I'm supposed to pass this award onto-- I pick you and you and you and you..... Sorry, picking is too much pressure. If this interests you, please, by all means grab the award and run with it. Or you can...

...tell me one fun thing about yourself!
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nanny Goats in Panties: The Sunday Roast

Did you ever wonder where the blog name "Nanny Goats In Panties" came from? If you know Margaret than you who I'm talking about. If you don't know Margaret, you should! She's awesome.

CLICK HERE for blogging answers and a great interview with Margaret in this weekend's "The Sunday Roast.

Hope your weekend is going great!
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Photo Credit: Margaret at Nanny Goats in panties and Eddie Bluelights at Clouds and Silvery Linings

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog: YOUR Tips & Advice #1

Lots of great advise, words of wisdom, tips and insight have come in through comments on my A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog feature. So in case you missed them, below is a running list of info that you might find helpful as a new or even seasoned blogger.

Please feel free to add any additional advice you might have in the comments and this post will be updated again at a later date.

I did my best to keep track of who gave which tip first so if you left a similar tip and you're not credited for it, it's just because someone beat you to it. But, your advice is greatly appreciated so keep those cards and letters coming!

--Having read through several dozen emails from bloggers to pull this list and other feature notes together (with links) I will start by saying please add your blog URL to your email signature. Open your email and Keyword Search "Signature". It should give you the steps to add it automatically at the end of your email. It will help blog friends identify your blog and it will promote your blog to others who receive email from you.

And, if you see a lot of blank space between the end of your post and your Comment Button, go back to Edit Post and scroll all the way to the very bottom of your post. Delete the extra spaces at the very end of your post until your curser it just after the last period (.) of your post. It might only look like a few spaces when editing, but it's much longer on the published post.

--Be careful with your blog title and URL. Mine was supposed to be temporary, and if I liked blogging I thought I'd switch to a better, permanent title. But of course by the time I was hooked I'd made friends and it was too much trouble to change. Pseudonymous High School Teacher

--I wish that I had researched more before deciding on my blog title. It's not very appealing. It doesn't make anyone who sees it say "hey that sounds interesting, I think I'll check it out". But now I feel stuck with it because everyone knows me by that title. Matty at Matty Thoughts

--The one thing I wish I´d known, is how addicting blogging can get! :) Betty at A Glimpse Into Midlife

--I wish someone would have told me months ago to add the followers the prompting of a couple of my blogging friends, I have just recently added this and may have had missed opportunities for followers? It often feels like a popularity contest though...I don't like that part. Erin at Erin's Art and Gardens

--Commenting: My one pet peeve is taking the time to visit a blog, read through enough posts to determine whether I like it enough to follow it, publish a comment or two or six and then get summarily ignored. That's just rude. I don't like bloggers who think they're just too too wonderful and important to wave back. Alix at Casa Hice

--When I finish my comment I copy it by depressing the keys ctrl AND c.
I try to send it - sometimes it accepts but if not this time I smile to myself because if I am summarily expelled from blogger I just enter the post again and PASTE the comment I have saved into the comment box by depressed ctrl AND v and hey presto it either accepts or rejects and if it rejects I keep doing it until the comment is sent. I do this all the time now and save hours and hours of wasted time.
Eddie Bluelights at Clouds and Silvery Linings

--I'm a little bummed because I installed Disqus [for comments] and I like it, but I get some complaints and I can't get rid of it now because I don't want to lose all of my comments. Unknown Mami

--I don't like the Disques comment form and I also don't like word verifications. I just like to read and leave a comment without jumping through hoops. 2 Toddlers and Me

--You can turn off word verification on your comments, in your Blogger account, in settings.

--It bothers me when people leave mean Anonymous comments on my blog or anyone else's. Have a backbone stick by your words or just move on. Unknown Mami

--I wish I had listened to advice not to use my real name. Someone from my past looked me up, and caused all kinds of trouble for me. It's okay now, but I had to threaten to file a police report. Gran at Gran Speaks

--I wish I had been a lot more anonymous and didn't plaster my full name everywhere. Kristina P. at Pulsipher Predilections

--One thing I didn't realize was my blog could end up in someone's hands as a result of a google search. Joanie M at Joanie's Random Ramblings

--Deleted Posts: If I had known what I know now, I would have left some of the posts I originally blogged. They were from my heart, inspirational, deep and I was afraid I would have offended someone. So, I erased them. Pastor Sharon at Dances With God

--Moderated posts - I understand that every now and then we get hit by spammers but that's almost always on older posts. There are settings to moderate anything older than two weeks. Hilary at The Smitten Image

--Pet peeve: A lot of ads on blogs that take ages to load. Selma at Selma in the City

--I really don't care for advertising in a blog, I can get all of that stuff everywhere else.Davine at 3 Buddah's and Me

--You should never use someone else's photo unless you have their permission and/or have paid them. As someone else mentioned, you can look for photos with a Creative Commons license that allows for sharing, that would be considered having the photographer's permission. If I use a photo that isn't my own on my blog, I do a search in Flickr for photos that have a CC license. Liz at Inventing My Life

--I use only my own photos which just like anyone else's will appear on Google images if someone does an appropriate search. This does not mean that they are up for grabs. They're still my images just as every other photo out there belongs to someone else. Without permission and attribution, it's considered plagiarized. Hilary at The Smitten Image

--You can find copyright free images for your blog at:

--For the copyright symbol [on a PC], the HTML code is & copy, with no space between. When you type them together you get & copy. Willoughby at This Stop Willoughby

--On the Mac keyboard that the © is produced by hitting the option key and then G. Hilary at The Smitten Image

--My biggest pet peeve is that bloggers seem to feel like they have to live up to some schedule or standard and fail to realize that this is not a job! If you have nothing in your mind to post, then don't post. I have seen blogs where people don't post for 3 weeks at a time and still gain a following. Blog world laws are simple. If you post, people will read. If you leave comments, you will get more comments, and if you go away, people will wonder what happened to you. I hate the whole virtual friends stigma that is attached to this thing, that is why I put my phone number in my comment section, because I want to be able to build relationships with some of the people that I meet here. Otin at Wizard of Otin

--Blogging I find is a place where you hope to be heard, but you must first learn how to listen. Ocean Girl at Live High

NEW QUESTION: What's your opinion and/or preference about RESPONDING TO COMMENTS YOU RECEIVE? Do you respond to comments individually on your blog? Do you email the commenter with a response/acknowledgement/thanks? Do you respond to some but not all depending on the comment? Do you not respond directly to comments at all? Do you leave comments on their blogs pertaining to their original comment? And/or do you leave a comment on their current post as an acknowledgement of their visit to your blog? (Make sense?) Short question: What's your blog commenting etiquette?

Word Verification was stated as a huge pain by many bloggers. So as a test, I'm turning ON my Word Verification for one week to see if it makes a difference in the amount of SPAM I receive. I'll let you know the results soon.

Hope your Thanksgiving was great!
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit © Mikael Damkier -

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

This picture was taken Thanksgiving Day in 1964. That's my Mom and Dad, both in their late 20s and my Great Grandmother-- Granny, in her mid 70s. I was 6 years old.

The table was set with my Grandmother's homemade tomato juice, turkey's on the left and the plate of "brown-looking glob" on the right is actually grape jello with bing cherries-- A Thanksgiving tradition.

Another family tradition was to eat the pumpkin pie first. Grandpa said Grandma worked so hard making the pies that we should "Eat dessert first in case the house burns down."

We lived in this tiny house until I was ten years old but there was always room for the whole family and stray friends-- as long as they brought their own folding chair to pull up to the table.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Aside from the great food, it's a time to reflect and give thanks. One of the many things I'm thankful for is the blogging community who has been so generous to me this year. May this be our first of many Thanksgivings together.

Pass the Pumpkin Pie please!

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

And... Congratulations to Chrisy at Artdecadence for winning the Snuggie Giveaway! Chrisy has a gorgeous blog so check it out. And a million thanks to Kristina at P. at Pulsipher Predilections for her fantastic interview on Blog Comments!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Carbs Galore

Food and I go way back. It's been a love/hate relationship on and off for the past 30 years. But, as Thanksgiving approaches, we've called a truce of sorts, at least for a few days.

As usual, I've gained a few pounds thanks to all the leftover Halloween candy and my weight is "up" (putting it politely) which means I'll be pulling out my Eileen Fisher pants (translation: elastic waist) for the holidays so I can enjoy two days of turkey feasting before the hate part of our relationship starts up again.

Actually, it's more of a carb feast than a turkey feast in my book. The only reason I even make turkey is for the gravy to load onto the bread stuffing and mashed potatoes I'll consume-- Thus the carb coma I'm usually in by the end of the weekend. Did I mention we have a "feast" two days in a row? Yes, twice! And that doesn't include leftovers.

Our Thanksgiving day will actually be spent with a wonderful group of friends who are seriously good cooks. The food is to die for! Then on Friday, I cook and we do it all again with Beloved's family. (My family are all in Ohio. We go back every other year.)

The Friday tradition started years ago so Beloved's kids didn't have to "pick" between parents and in-laws for the holiday. We simply removed ourselves and designated Friday as "our day" to kick back and celebrate Thanksgiving dinner in any form we wanted-- Some have sandwiches, some the traditional meal, but it's loaded with all the trimmings and well, now you understand the need for the elastic waisted pants.

So here we go again. I call Thanksgiving my real, or at least my first, New Year's Resolution with the annual "I'll start the diet on Monday" ritual. I've been doing this for years. We'll see how it goes this time. Since Thanksgiving is a little earlier than usual, I have a few extra days to work on taking off those *ahem*several*cough*pounds before I start obsessing about what to wear on New Years Eve.

This is my first Thanksgiving in Blogland and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you ALL for a great nine months. I feel really blessed and thankful to have met you and to have shared in your lives. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I wish you all a wonderful start to the holiday season and thank you for your kindness, readership and support. It means the world to me.

I'll be cooking this week and will catch up again with you all in a few days.

And.... I'm a huge fan of Beth's at Be Yourself Everyone Else Is Taken. She's doing an amazing GIVEAWAY to win a gorgeous new blog header. You have until Thanksgiving night to enter. Click HERE!

What's your favorite food-- Thanksgiving or otherwise?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit: © Amy Walters -

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Surprises

Do you get excited when you see the UPS or FedEx truck pulls up in front of your house? You know you're about to receive a package but you have no idea what it is or who it's from. I love that feeling-- the unexpected surprise. I got a great surprise this week from Big Sister and her awesome husband. It was an early holiday present, and their timing was perfect!

They've been working hard in their kitchen canning local produce and were so sweet to send me a "taste of back home". From left to right is the greatest Apple Sauce you've ever tasted-- It's just like taking a bite of apple pie. Dill Pickles are next and they are Beloved's favorite. Apple Butter is in the middle and perfect on a freshly toasted English Muffin. Next are Bread and Butter pickles that are to die for! And the smallest jar on the end is Corn Relish. I'll admit it, I'm hoarding that one for myself. It's fantastic and so-- Ohio-- specifically, my family in Ohio. Grandma canned this when we were kids and we ate it all the time. This jar is my new "comfort food". I get really homesick during the holidays and a teaspoon of the Ohio Corn Relish a day helps keep the blues away.

A million thanks to Big Sister and her awesome husband. All I can say is more please!

While you're blog reading this weekend, here's a surprise I know you will enjoy!

This pretty lady on the left is the delicious Alix of Casa Hice. (Braja called her delicious and now I do too.) If you haven't met Alix you MUST-- She's terrific! So terrific, in fact, that she's featured in this week's Sunday Roast presented by Eddie Bluelights.

In case you don't know, Sunday Roast was originated by the one and only David McMahon of Authorblog. When he stepped away from blogging to work on his novels he turned the reins over the Eddie. Anyway, Alix is featured this weekend in an interview about blogging and it's well worth a click over to check her out!


And last, but not least, did you read my interview with Kristina P. on Blog Commenting HERE? Cuz if you didn't, you might be surprised about a certain DEADLINE coming up at MIDNIGHT MONDAY, November 23rd that you'll want to participate in-- Especially if you look good in blue! (And yes, that's a hint!)

I hope you are having a great weekend. I'm off to sneak bites of Ohio Corn Relish and beg my Big Sister for more.

What surprise would you like delivered this holiday season?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credits: Joanna, Alix and Kristina P.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog-Part 4: Interview with Kristina P.

A million thanks to Kirstina P. of Pulsipher Predictions for agreeing to participate in my first A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog Interview. Kristina has a very funny blog, loaded with hysterical photos and lots of tell it like it is humor on the "minutia of her day".

She started posting on her blog in May, 2008 and had two comments on her first post! By July, 2008 Kristina's comments were in the 20s. In August, 2008 comments were in the 30-40 range and by September, 2008 she hit 157 comments with a very funny Tom Cruise Couch Jumping Giveaway. That’s impressive!

In October and November, 2008 comments were consistently in the 200 range per post! Then in January, 2009 Kristina P. soared to 451 comments with a post asking for “Anonymous Secrets”. (A great idea, by the way.) Since then, her posting frequency has reduced to approximately once weekly (from nearly daily when she started) and now continues to hit the 200 comments mark on a regular basis. That pretty much makes Kristina P. the comment idol of many, many, bloggers.

So how does she do it, what are her secrets and will she share her tricks of the trade? Grab a cup of coffee, soda or your favorite spirit and read on my friends. I promise you'll be "Snugglie" glad you did.

Q. What’s your secret to getting your blog seen/found by so many readers (especially so fast) and how do you maintain upwards of 200 comments per post?

A. I initially offered topless pictures of myself, to people who would read my blog. Surprisingly, this was a big hit with the female audience as well. I think that was due to the fact they could feel a lot better about themselves and the state of their breasts, especially considering I don’t have children.

But, I would say that my initial big break came from commenting on a Latter-Day-Saint (LDS) satire blog, Seriously So Blessed. There was a large group of us who would read each other’s comments, and then find each other’s blogs. I have met several of those women and have become great friends with many of them.

I know a lot of women join The Secret Is In the Sauce (SITS), or other commenting communities, as well as sites that have blog rolls. I am a Mormon blogger, and am part of the Mormon Mommy Blog community. You do not have to be LDS to be a member.

Truthfully, I’m not sure where people find me anymore. I don’t use Google topics at all. I have heard from many people that they found out about my blog by word of mouth. Someone may post a link to a post of mine, or have several family members that blog and they read the same blogs, etc.

I am not active in other social media, like Twitter or Stumble Upon, but I know that many people obtain readers by having people Stumble their posts, or they will post about a new blog post on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t make money off my blog at all (no ads), or have a business, so I choose not to promote my blog in those ways.

I will say, I am an avid promoter of The Snuggie, which is the best thing that has happened to America since Lindsay Lohan became a lesbian, and I think that is what ultimately draws people in. Wearing The Snuggie is a sign of a true American hero.

Q. How much time do you spend a week writing blog posts versus reading and commenting on other blogs?

A. I used to post daily when I first started blogging. I think that most new bloggers find they love the outlet and release. I initially started blogging for just my family, and had no idea how social blogging could be. I have no desire to be an author and I’m not a writer by nature, so over the past 18 months, I’ve become a bit more burned out, and now I post about once a week.

I focus more on the quality of posts, not the quantity. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to smoke more crack, which is going swimmingly, but I really wanted to spend more time writing about things that really make me laugh.

I am a self proclaimed Comment Junkie. In fact, a reader suggested I create a Comment Junkie button for my blog, which I did. Feel free to grab it off the sidebar on my blog.

I comment on A LOT of blogs. I know how it feels to get a comment and to know that people care about you, so that’s important to me. I always have my Google Reader window up, and I enjoy leaving comments for people. I probably comment on hundreds of blogs a day. Well, actually, I have my sweat shop employees do it. I am not above hiring small children to work 13 hours a day, cleaning my house or commenting on people’s blogs for me. Now, come on. I am not a complete ogre. I do let them watch Dora the Explorer, for 5 minutes at a time, over the course of the day.

In reality I don’t have children, I have a husband that travels a lot, I am an extremely fast reader and typer, and I have a job with a lot of down time, so I can spend more time reading and commenting than a lot of people.

Q. How many blogs do you follow and regularly comment on?

A. I don’t use the Follower feature on Blogger, for several reasons, but I do love my Google Reader. Currently, I have 534 blogs in my Reader. I would say that I comment on probably 450 of them on a regular to semi-regular basis. I can’t believe I just admitted that out loud. Don’t judge.

Q. What would you estimate is the ratio of “commenters” vs “lurkers” on your blog (per post)?

A. I’m not exactly sure how many readers I have, but I would estimate that it’s probably in the trillions. And by trillions, I mean tens.

I would estimate that about a sixth to a seventh of my readers actually comment, and from what I have gathered from other bloggers, that’s a pretty accurate number across the board for bloggers.

Q. Anything else we should know about commenting, readership or blogging in general?

A. Unless you are Dooce, The Pioneer Woman, or sex-God David Hassellhoff (seriously, have you seen him in a Speedo?), people rarely garner comments without commenting on other people’s blogs. I understand completely that if the time I spent commenting dropped, the comments I received would also drop.

I can’t remember the last time I commented on someone’s blog first, as I get new people who comment on my blog, pretty much daily, but I do visit every person’s blog who comments on mine. I have made so many personal connections through blogging, that it’s important to me that I don’t become “too big” for my readership. I hear that complaint a lot from bloggers.

There is a reciprocity rule in blogging. Blogging etiquette states that if someone comments on your blog, the polite thing to do is to return the comment, at least once. If someone continually comments on my blog, I will add them to my Reader, and will read and comment on their blog.

There are plenty of blogs I read that may not have the wit of Ellen Degeneres, or the poetry of Maya Angelou, but I truly care about the blogger and the relationship we’ve developed, and so I care about what they have to say.

I know Joanna recently posted about having to drop people from her Reader, and feeling guilty about it. I used to have the guilt. I no longer do. I read too many blogs to spend time reading blogs of people I don’t feel connected with or enjoy. I probably go through my Reader once a week and will delete blogs of people who haven’t commented on my blog in ages, and I just don’t know they are reading anymore. There are blogs, however, that I read and comment on regardless if they ever comment on mine.

I lose Followers just like everyone else. The first time I lost a Follower I curled up in the fetal position in my therapist’s office, sucking my thumb, singing a Clay Aiken song (I was so ashamed of that part), but now, it doesn’t bother me at all, and I understand it’s the nature of blogging.

The last thing I wanted to say about commenting, is that to leave a comment that is meaningful in some way. I am not going to say that I never skim posts, as that would be a lie. All bloggers do. But it’s rare. And if I leave a comment, I make sure it’s pertinent to the post, or I comment on something that struck me. Sometimes I leave a comment just to let someone know I am still reading.

But if you leave a comment like, “Oh my gosh! That is too funny! I hate Mario Lopez too!”, on a post about someone’s grandma dying, and you see that same comment on 10 other blogs, people will take notice and put a bloggy hex on you. Not that I've ever done that, of course.

So there you have it folks! Is Kristina P. awesome or what!?!?! She shared her knowledge and insight into blogging and made us laugh along the way. Even if "comments" aren't your goal, I hope you agree this was an honest and insightful read. THANK YOU KRISTINA P.

And as a thank you for taking the time to read through this entire interview, YOU can enter to WIN your very own SNUGGIE just like Kristina's!

All you have to do is leave TWO comments-- Leave one comment BELOW on my blog, AND one comment ON KRISTINA'S BLOG THANKING HER FOR THIS INTERVIEW!

All entries must be received by midnight, November 23, 2009 to be eligible. Comments must be made on both blogs at the above specified links/posts. One entry per person. Drawing will be random. All results are final.

Thanks again Kristina!

How do you comment?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photos courtesy of Kristina P.