Surviving November and NaNoWriMo

It’s national novel writing month. These are a few of my survival strategies.


I know that drinking too much coffee is supposed to be bad. But it’s a necessary evil. So I’m trying to counteract it with a glass of water after every cup of coffee. Of course then I’m spending more time in the bathroom, but it gets me up and moving when my butt starts getting numb or sore.


Eat to keep up your strength but watch what you eat. It’s way too easy to eat bag after bag of potato chips while writing. Again… bad for you. And you’ll drop crumbs in the keyboard and your greasy fingers will slip off the keys for more typos – and that’s just plain gross. Besides, the fat and salt are not so healthy. So don’t eat potato chips.

Ideally I should take food breaks away from the computer. The problem with my food breaks is that I get distracted and it takes way too long for me to get back to my writing. A twenty-minute break can turn into a couple of hours. Maybe I should prepare carrots and celery sticks for myself and bring them into the “bat cave” (my office) with me. Sans drippy dips. Yes. I’ll do that tomorrow. I promise.


Definitely. If I get stuck and can’t come up with my next scene, I will sometimes take a walk or go to the gym. Exercise increases blood flow and feeds more oxygen to the brain. That’s good for you. I especially like yoga. It helps to clear my mind. Once the cobwebs are gone, I can usually write again.


Great idea if you can limit your intake. But I can’t so I’m better off without it. (However, the secret stash under my desk comes in handy sometimes.)


Maybe. Just a little. After 5:00 PM. Especially good for writers’ block. Not so good for grammar, punctuation, sentence sense, or plot. Plan to spend extra time rewriting anything that you wrote under the influence of a couple of glasses of wine.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck and keep writing!





Sunday Dinner: Can You Ever Have Too Many Tomatoes?


About 14 large, farm-grown tomatoes are staring at me from the bottom of a box. I need to do something with them.

And I should do it today.

14 Tomatoes

14 Tomatoes

I need to take care of them before they rot. But I don’t really feel like it and I’m running out of ideas.

Here’s the backstory that you didn’t ask for…

I didn’t have many tomatoes from my garden this year. Lots of butternut squash, but not many tomatoes.

Butternut squash and Black Eyed Susans

Butternut squash and Black Eyed Susans

So, in September, I bought a big box of Italian plums (tomatoes) from the local farm stand. I blanched, peeled, seeded and froze most of them. I made a batch of spaghetti sauce (tomato gravy) and we ate it all week. And that was that.

When I went back to the farm stand about a two weeks ago, they had large baskets of round tomatoes for sale. I wasn’t planning to process any more tomates, but I bought them anyway. I couldn’t pass it up. They looked great and they were $6.00 for a huge basket! The guy carefully took the tomatoes out of the basket and put them into a box for me and carried them to my car. Later, son, Ian, took them out of the trunk and brought them into the kitchen.

The next day, I picked out a few that seemed a little bruised and made a salad for lunch. Ian made a tomato pie for dinner.

Last week, I blanched, peeled, seeded, and froze a bunch. I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce for the week, and yesterday I made a large batch of homemade salsa.

I still have 14 tomatoes (large – about 3.5 in. diameter)  in the bottom of that box. Staring at me. Threatening to go bad if I don’t pay attention to them.

And my freezers are almost out of space.

Yes, freezers… plural. Three of them. One upright freezer, a freezer in the garage refrigerator, and a freezer in the kitchen refrigerator. Lots of freezer space is great for buying in bulk to save money but it comes with a price. Anxiety. I fill them up with great foods but then worry about losing the food every time there’s a power outage. I should add “a generator” on my birthday list for my peace of mind. Or maybe I should learn how to can tomatoes instead of freezing them.

Getting back on topic, this is my Sunday Dinner post, so, according to my self-imposed guidelines, I must include a recipe. I know… tomato soup! I have a favorite recipe, adapted from an ancient cookbook from my earliest days of cooking, The New James Beard (1981). This recipe is easy and quick with a short ingredient list.

Rita’s Cream of Tomato Soup

(adapted from James Beard’s Fresh Tomato Soup)

  • 1 onion
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup Half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (more or less)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Chop and saute the onion in olive oil until soft. Peel and seed the tomatoes. Add tomatoes to the onions. Add salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the half and half.

If you want your soup to me smooth, puree the tomato mixture before adding the half and half.

Suggested changes to the basic recipe:

  1. Add agave (or sugar) when cooking the tomatoes to sweeten it up.
  2. Add garlic to the sautéed onions before adding the tomatoes.
  3. Add sage or other spices.
  4. If you don’t like your soup creamy or want it dairy free, add chicken or vegetable broth instead of half and half.
  5. For a richer soup, replace the half and half with heavy cream (and wave your wooden spoon over the pot 3 times chanting, “Calories be gone!”)

Now, what will I do with the eight tomatoes that will be left after I make the soup?

*looking for room in freezer*