Mom’s Easy Cole Slaw

Mom’s Easy Cole Slaw

Creamy with just a little tang.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Mom’s Easy Cole Slaw
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 4


  • 2 cups Cabbage thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Sweet Gherkin Pickle Juice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper


  1. Slice raw cabbage against the grain very thinly. Place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, pickle juice, salt, and pepper. Stir until all are incorporated to make a smooth sauce.

  3. Add the sauce to the sliced raw cabbage. Mix well. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

I use the light mayonnaise and the juice from a jar of “no added sugar” sweet gherkins. Mt. Olive and Essential brands make the “no added sugar” sweet gherkins. I like the blend of spices, rather than using vinegar.

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

forest2Some things are as clear as mud when it comes to being visionary. Metaphors not withstanding, we often can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes it takes a knock on the head, a kindly reminder, or even an “aha” moment.

Several friends have commented that my stories always include food. Often quite descriptive, they say.

“Of course,” I reply. “Food’s a big part of our lives. Our daily activities often include meal preparation and food service. Family celebrations, going out with friends, feeding the children–all revolve around food. It should be included in the story.”

“Did you ever consider combining your background in food and nutrition with your books? Perhaps on your website?”

I think that very question was the knock on the head, the “aha” moment for me. It’s something I hadn’t ever considered, yet studying nutrition is a part of my DNA. Why not expand on the meals I write about in my stories? Develop and post recipes; highlight important nutrition principles.

Perhaps I’m beginning to see the forest–the big picture. It will take me awhile to get there. But I’ve said it before. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In my newest story, No Gifts to Bring (not yet published), the main character suggests that a big pot of hearty vegetable beef soup would warm the innards of some folks who had been caught in a blizzard. It’s easy to make, affordable, and feeds a crowd. You’re welcome to my recipe at

Bon appetit!




Invisible to the Eye


Those who are familiar with Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince know that it’s an allegory with a timeless message of love and hope. I’m not sure why the story has been on my mind recently, though I’m drawn to one particular quote. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Nearly 50 years ago, I was cast as the businessman in an all-women community production of The Little Prince. Full of stage fright, I gave little thought to the message behind the role. I needed only to learn my lines and sing the businessman’s song, both intimidating tasks.

The businessman spends every moment counting the stars, believing that he owns them since he counts them. He has no time to engage in petty conversation. His work is all encompassing. He says: “I have so much to do! I am concerned with matters of consequence. I don’t amuse myself with balderdash.” (13.5)  The Little Prince becomes frustrated with the arrogance of the businessman and feels that he is missing the importance of the beauty around him.

Older and wiser now, I wonder why I was cast in that role. Did I exhibit those traits way back then? Perhaps it’s possible because it’s sometimes my reality now. I stay busy, wanting to focus on my writing, improve my stories, become more descriptive. Create ads, find keywords. Connect with social media. Develop a following. No time to waste. I have so much to do.

To be a good writer, “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” We can’t develop characters who are engaging if we’re not open to the presence of others in our lives. We can’t engage our readers if we don’t involve all of our senses throughout the day. The musky perfumed smell of a rose, the myriad colors of variegated summer leaves, the sound of early morning birds chirping, the taste of cold vanilla ice cream, the touch of a gentle hand. If these sensory images are lacking, we have a one-dimensional author.

The Little Prince said, “I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over…‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man—he is a mushroom!” (7.24)

I don’t want to be a mushroom.

Build It and They Will Come

baseball playerRome wasn’t built in a day, they say. A field of dreams didn’t happen overnight. It takes guts and stamina to orchestrate all of the facets of project management to create a platform. In my case, a writing platform.

  • Write and publish a book
  • Write another book to help market the first book
  • Create a social media presence
  • Develop an author’s website
  • Build a mailing list
  • Generate a following

That’s only the beginning. I’ve got so many balls in the air, I’m not sure if I’m coming or going. Maybe just going crazy. Crazy enough to believe that I’ve got the guts and stamina to be a writer. At least the guts.

My latest venture has been marketing through Amazon Marketing Services. Thank goodness for YouTube videos to provide the instruction. My first sponsored Kindle ad, I must admit, has been less than stellar. In the past three weeks, I’ve had 10 impressions, no clicks, and no sales. OK, I agree that’s really bad.

Who knew you needed at least 200 targeted keywords to get enough impressions that could result in a sale? The new sponsored ad goes live on Amazon today. I have a feeling that it’ll be a home run!

Don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook ( and sign up for my newsletter. Build it and they will come!

Metaphors, Similes, and Senses–Oh, my!

InspectorI’m envious. Green with envy. Searching for words that elude me, like a python slithering away in an African savanna. Metaphors, similes, and senses–oh, my! Figures of speech and imagery should be easy to craft. But they’re not. At least not if they’re used in a way that doesn’t seem contrived.

I’m currently reading a book that has magnificent similes and colorful descriptions that seem to come easily to the author. It’s why I’m envious.

Here’s one: “[The idea] came to him like an invisible breeze stirring the sand on
a deserted beach.” (Servant of Memory)

And another: “…was drawn to the paintings and their artistic elegance like a hummingbird to a succulent geranium in full bloom.” (Servant of Memory)

These quotes by Richard Gradner in Servant of Memory are only two of a myriad that have captured my heart. The story has touched me, as well. And so, this reading is a learning experience for me.

For those who know me, you’re aware that I’m trying to hone my skills as a storyteller. I’ve come a long way since “Charlie ate a piece of pie.” But I’m not there yet. Not until I can paint a masterpiece with my words. Not until my readers can feel every emotion, envision every sight, and listen to every sound that I hear within a scene. I’m a work in progress. A green work in progress.





Muddle Through the Middle

Apparently, way back, long ago, Aristotle identified that a story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’re talking ancient Greece here. Like 300 B.C.-ancient. It seems rather obvious, but then it’s not. Have you ever read a book with a cliff-hanger ending? I don’t like those at all. I’m sticking with Aristotle.

In his TED-talk about storytelling, Julian Friedmann reiterated the importance of a beginning, middle, and end to a story. So many authors have trouble with the middle, he said, that it becomes string-cliparta muddle. Like C.E. Lombardi stated, in 1909, a certain NY play had a “beginning, a muddle, and an end.”

I’ve been reflecting about this muddle concept while I’m writing my first mystery story. It’s a cozy mystery. Not too gory, a little intrigue and romance, lots of twists. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, watching detective shows on TV, and designing a plot that I hope is not too predictable.

In defense of No Gifts to Bring, this new work in progress, the muddle isn’t a mishmash of random ingredients. It’s also not a disorganized mess. But I do have a few more tangles than I’m used to handling. The trick will be unraveling for a tidy ending.

Robbery vs Theft

Last week I visited the West Pikeland police station to do research for my next book. I had been searching the web for details about robbery interrogations, but never quite found what I was seeking. It was time to get it from the horse’s mouth, so to say.

policemanI was somewhat anxious as I pulled into the police department driveway, wondering if I’d be considered a crime suspect or a kook. Neither was the case. The patrolman who met me at the door was exceptionally hospitable, inviting me to a whitewashed room down the hall.

He pointed to a seat at the end of a rectangular table for me, and he sat catty-corner to my chair while I expounded on the plot of my story. When I got to the point about the police interview of my main character, the officer suggested that I take a good look at my surroundings. “Am I in the interrogation room? I asked. “Indeed, you are,” he said with a chuckle. “Look above.”

I stared at the camera bolted to the ceiling. “Am I being videotaped?” He nodded and laughed. “Yep.” “And is that a tape recorder on the table in front of you?” “Yep.”

How cool is that? I can reliably write my main character’s experience in the story. I asked more questions about the interrogation process, then the officer said, “You don’t have a robbery.”

“Oh, but I do,” I argued. “And I may even add a murder.”

The nice policeman laughed again, but emphasized that I had a theft, not a robbery. A robbery involves physical force. A theft is the act of stealing someone’s property. Everyone probably knows that, but I didn’t. At least, I never thought about it in those terms. There are some revisions to make in my manuscript.

Now I feel like an authentic author, interviewing trustworthy sources to craft a credible narrative. No one can take that away, even if force is used. I’ve got the cops on my side.

Bringing Closure

Pete on sofaSeveral months ago after publishing A Specter of Truth, I decided to update Living with a Springer Spaniel: Pete and Me. This would be no easy task, as Pete had died six months prior and I was fearful of opening the emotions that were still close to the surface. Still, the book needed closure, as did I.

I pulled up the old document, and began revising the first few chapters. I created a new document for the kindle version, taking time to make a concurrent draft that could be used in paperback format. Different styles, different fonts. Different margins. Then I revised a few more chapters, backing both formats to the computer and cloud. Not much progress in writing had been made.

A few weeks later, I tried again, knowing I’d have to add that dreaded chapter about Pete’s death. Whenever I get stuck in writing, I return to the beginning and revise. That usually gets the juices going. But it didn’t this time. I just kept reading and revising.

I was sure it wasn’t writer’s block that I was facing. I knew what I needed to write. For the life of me, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t re-live Pete’s last days. I put my drafts aside and began writing my newest story, which doesn’t yet have a title.

I always thought of writer’s block as a glitch in the creative process. That an author can’t imagine a story or a scene. That the printed words don’t resonate. I thought of writer’s block as a blank page with crumplewriter's blockd paper scattered across a desk. I had never experienced such a break in momentum. Whenever I finished one novel, an idea for the next one always popped into my head.

So, I’ve learned something. There can be many reasons for writer’s block, in the physical and psychological realms. In my case, my emotions were getting in my way. And the only way around them was to face them.

I retrieved my draft this past week, and wrestled with every word. Each paragraph of the finale brought quiet tears until I reached the end. Then I cried, deep gut-wrenching, soul-cleansing sobs that I hadn’t done in these many months since making the horrible decision to put Pete down.

I took myself to the Y, and swam 21 laps in the Olympic-sized warm water pool. Non-stop. So there is closure now, for me and for Pete. I buried him “at sea,” with a 21-gun salute. Life goes on, yet I will never forget my best friend. Pete may have been spoiled, but I trained him that way. The revised Living with a Springer Spaniel: Pete and Me is now available as an e-book at




Flying by the Seat of my Pants

flying pigI’m a pantser. I admit it. Actually, I’m quite content as a pantser. I own my pantserism.

In the literary world, a pantser is a writer who writes  as the muse leads, rather than plotting and outlining. From what I’ve learned, there are plotter and pantser authors. One is not better than the other. Both need inspiration and creativity. It just comes down to a matter of style.

I have always written by the seat of my pants. Remember those dreaded term papers in high school? My teachers would have been appalled to know that I wrote my outline after writing the paper.

I’m not against plotting. In fact, I do it often. In my head. Why waste the time, I argue, to write everything down when it’s going to change. Kind of like the weather. Or maybe like life. That’s always changing.

My stories usually begin with a location, then I craft the narrative around it. During quiet moments, I visualize the main character and a problem. I choose the path for the beginning, and I know in some fashion how it will end. Then, I write. Sub-characters emerge. Action ensues. Dialogue brings the scenes to life.

Time to mull again. In fact, that’s what I like to do just before I fall asleep at night. Picture what comes next. The story needs conflict, or perhaps a back-story for interest. Add a few twists–which might surprise me, as well. The muses work their magic.

I’m glad there’s a name for my condition, and it’s not life-threatening. In fact, for me, being a pantser works. And I’m proud of it.

Visit me at


Finding Balance

Finding balance in our daily lives can be somewhat illusory. We recognize that stress, and over-commitment, and not enough sleep, and poor eating habits, and limited exercise, and… Let’s just say that just about anything can interfere with our peace and tranquility. Without a proper balance, we can become frazzled and unproductive.


A mobile is a perfect example of balance. We know what happens when the weight of one hanging element is off-kilter. The entire structure loses its center of gravity. Rather than an object of beauty, it becomes distorted and dysfunctional. Are we not the same?

Speaking for myself, when I focus on one thing in my life that seems to be getting out of hand, the others don’t naturally fall into place. I may shorten the string for one, but then must adjust the remaining connections. If I have too many objects to balance, the whole darn thing is out of whack. I skip from one activity to another, barely accomplishing what needs to be done.

I do believe our personality types enter into the algorithm of balance. I’m definitely an introvert. In other words, I re-energize in a quiet, organized environment. An extrovert, on the other hand, claims his or her center of gravity by interaction with others. That’s a big difference.

I’m tremendously energized by writing. My space is organized, I have no noise to distract me, my imagination takes over, and the story evolves. If that were the structure of my life, all would be calm. But wait! Daily activities of life interfere. Shop for groceries, clean the house, open the mail, pay the bills, meet up with friends, grade assignments, get some exercise… It goes on and on, doesn’t it?

Now that I’ve published my books, I’m told, I can’t let them wither on the vine. Create a website, start a blog, have a social media presence, and advertise, advertise, advertise. Update the website and blog, develop a following, create a mailing list, write a newsletter, schedule speaking engagements and book signings. What’s an introvert to do? And what priorities do I claim?

For me, balance is illusory. But I’m working on it.