October 30, 2009

I tweet, you tweet, we all tweet for..

Conceit? Well, it rhymes anyway.

As fun as some of the social networking sites can be, I’m getting a little disillusioned with the whole process. I’m trying to get myself out there, to link up with other writers and professionals in the publishing industry. It’s just…how do I, with the limited time at my disposal, succeed at this networking game (stand out from the crowd), and how do I even measure my success?

I love that sites like Twitter exist, but I can’t keep up. I’m a parrot posing as a small brown bird—one among a flock of billions flying in perfect synchronization, turning on the wing this way and that—all chirping madly for attention. We mellow, brightly colored squawkers just can’t summon the same energy level as those hyper little brown birds who somehow come up with interesting things to tweet and re-tweet all day long. And how on earth do they keep up with what anyone else is saying? My follow flock is modest at less than 70, but even so, with everyone tweeting at once, the rare epiphany is often drowned out in the cacophony.

Those of us putting ourselves out there suffer from varying levels of narcissism, that’s just the way it is, but some (and yes, I realize I’m beating the bird analogy to a pulp with the following) fly where the air is a little too thin. I was under the impression that in order to be successful at self-promotion, a person needed to sort of *hide* the fact that self-promotion was their goal. So we tweet about this, that and the other thing, and toss in a few “hey, come read my blog’s” now and then, hoping someone will accidently click on the link we provide and maybe even read a sentence or two. An actual comment on my blog has been known to put me in a good mood for several warm, fuzzy minutes and a re-tweet puts me over the moon.

So anyway, I’ve noted several social networking personalities. There’s the Blatant Bird, who posts the same series of tweets over and over again as if the pressure of coming up with those interesting comments made him/her snap and go over to the Spam Side. There’s the Re-tweet-a-holic, who can’t seem to come up with his/her own amusing musing, so they forward the best of the best and take credit for it. There’s the Daily Doings folks, who let you know every time they have a satisfying cuppa joe or someone ticked them off at the supermarket. There’s the Social Networking is my Life group—these folks seriously must spend the majority of their days online, dedicated to being in their followers’ faces. There’s the Official Spammers, who don’t even try to hide that’s what they’re all about.

And there’s people like me, I guess I’d call myself a Professional Novice who freezes up half the time, deciding that no tweet is better than a lame-o tweet, so I only buckle under and update every three days or so. But I’m out there, in the thick of it, flapping my wings, leaving a trail of stressed-out feathers wherever I go. ;op

October 7, 2009

Chicken Bean Artichoke Stew

The first version of this recipe was an experiment that turned out surprisingly well (unlike the greenbean cornbread that my family and friends won’t let me forget!) Even my husband liked it, and he’s hard to please with anything even vaguely healthy. After several more tweaks, the below version stood out above the rest. The processed marinated artichoke hearts are essential, since they add a characteristic flavor that might surprise you. The beans and lentils are mix and match, use whatever kind you like. The artichoke bottoms aren’t necessary, but I like putting them in for an added vegetable – diced and cooked soft, my six-year-old son can’t tell they’re in there. The best tool to use for dicing them is the Chop Wizard, one of the few gizmos I’ve tried and found to be indispensable in my kitchen. My son, who normally refuses to eat vegetables, WILL eat this stew and ask for more, and even leftovers get eaten.

Toss the following into your crock pot (or in a pot on the stove if you’re in a hurry) and enjoy a tangy, hearty and healthy meal:

1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, pull all meat off and cut into bite-sized chunks directly into the pot (add some skin, too, for flavor)

1 can artichoke bottoms, drained and diced

1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, pour entire contents into food processor or blender and process until smooth

3-4 cans of any kind of bean (lentil, red, black, pinto) mix and match, drained and rinsed

1 32 oz. container chicken broth

This is my signature dish, the one I’m asked to bring to every potluck, picnic and family dinner. I hope you like it!