CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

February 27, 2014

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS Movicon2-happy

Hugs to the members of the Beanery Writers Group

HOW TO WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

On February 12, 2014, the Greensburg Tribune-Review printed my first letter to the editor, Open birth records.

What inspired me to write this letter? Why would you, I, or anyone else want to write a letter to the editor?

I wrote the letter because I felt strongly about an issue I hadn’t seen in the local Pennsylvania media, yet it affects a great number of the state’s citizens—

  • adoptees (born and released for adoption in Pennsylvania
  • adoptive families
  • women who released their children for adoption

I wrote the letter to inform citizens about HB 162, which, if passed by the State Senate, will allow adult adoptees access to their original birth record. The Bill passed the House unanimously on October 23, 2013.

UPDATE: HB 162 will be heard in the Senate Committee on Aging & Youth on March 18 at 10:00 a.m. 

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There are many reasons why you might want to write a letter to the editor. 40 reasons (from a survey asking this question of National Post readers) are presented in an article by Paul Russell.

I’ve excerpted three here. Visit his site to read the others.

  • The “letters to the editor” page is the perfect forum for exchanging ideas and finding out what other people are thinking about specific issues. Even if I don’t change anyone’s mind, at least it might make some people think and realize that there is more than one way to look at anything. Sometimes I think I am the only person with a specific viewpoint until I open my National Post to the Letters page and find that there are many likeminded people.
    — Renate Roy
  • Letters matter, otherwise nobody would bother writing. While factual reporting and editorial content are important, private citizens comments are no less so. Letters are metaphorically the hooting, foot stomping, hand-clapping, head shaking, tongue-wagging ministrations of a (more…)
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December 6, 2012

How to Use Marshmallows

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

HOW TO USE MARSHMALLOWS

In passing, I heard a television voice state that marshmallow companies depend, like many businesses, on the last two months of the year to build their profit margin.

Erewhon-Best-croppedI couldn’t find any information on the Internet to support this statement but I did wonder that it was the Christmas season that financially makes the marshmallow business, rather than the Easter season.

While exploring the question I discovered the many surprising uses for marshmallows. Of course there’s the traditional uses that everyone is familiar with:

  • S’mores
  • Rice Krispie Treats or Squares: Melt about 1/4 cup of butter or margarine in a saucepan. Add one package of regular-sized marshmallows (about 40 marshmallows) and stir until melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 6 cups of Rice Krispies. Place the mixture in a greased pan and cool, then cut into squares.1
  • sweet potato topping
  • toasted-over-the-fire marshmallows
  • marshmallow topping hot chocolate
  • fluffernutters (if you don’t know what a fluffernutter is click on http://carolyncholland2011.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/you-don%e2%80%99t-know-what-a-fluffer-nutter-is/ )

Below are some of the other uses for marshmallows:

  • Marshmallow Pie Improves on the Classic Mallomar
  • Marshmallow Animals
  • Bourbon Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Covered Beer Marshmallows
  • Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes

and a book: Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes

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MARSHMALLOW PIE IMPROVES ON THE CLASSIC MALLOMAR2

Once upon a time, the only desserts I made were pies, and then it occurred to me that a repressed desire for a thick, rich filling was subverting my more recent cake obsession. So I figured, might as well go with it and make a pie with a marshmallow filling.

For some reason, I saw it with a graham cracker bottom crust and a chocolate top crust. Well, clearly another repressed desire was breaking through. This was basically the idea of the Mallomar, that over-the-top cookie that Nabisco produces only during the cool part of the year because the chocolate coating would melt in hot weather.

The difference is that 1) this was a pie that I could slice into pieces of any size I liked, and 2) I could make it any time of year! A triumph over the limitations of eating guilty pleasures seasonally! You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry all the time….

Marshmallow Pie

Serves 8-12

For the crust:

10 graham crackers

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 to 3 grindings nutmeg

5 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

1. Put the crackers, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a food processor and process until fine, about 20 seconds.

2. Pour in the melted butter and pulse about 10 times, until just amalgamated.

3. Pour the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and, pressing with your (more…)

January 27, 2011

How to Make a Beaver Fur Hat

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

NOTICE: CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS moved to

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site.

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This week I received the following question by my new-found sister, Darlene: So, tell me about your “hats”.  I notice you almost always are wearing a hat   So begins our saga of getting to know one another. I referred her to my post Hats Make a Statement, which would answer her question.

     Although I am kind of late (I had the date wrong…) I am posting the following in celebration of National Hat Day, which was January 15, 2011.

HOW TO MAKE A BEAVER FUR HAT

From about 1550 until 1850, felt hats were fashionable in much of Europe… European gentlemen wanted fine hats. Quality hats demanded the best felting material available. Beaver fur was an excellent raw material. Beaver fur is tight yet supple and will hold its shape far better under rough wear and successive wettings than felt made from wool or other types of fur…. By the late 1500’s, the beaver was extinct in western Europe and was close to extinction in (more…)

January 17, 2011

Writing About (Historic) Buildings

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

WRITING ABOUT (HISTORIC) BUILDINGS

     The Beanery Writers Group (Southwestern Pennsylvania) members have an opportunity to visit and write about a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, in any genre the writer chooses. Once the idea was seeded, I realized that doing this would present a challenge to many of the group members, including myself. 

     We are preparing for this project by visiting and writing about local structures: two unusual restaurants, a historic building built in 1799 which is now a museum, a Catholic church Basilica, the county courthouse, etc. Because these excursions have proven how difficult it is to write about historic structures, I searched the ‘net for guidance. I discovered that there’s a scarcity of instructional material to glean from.

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     Buildings, like people, have stories to tell about their community’s and the nation’s past. Embedded in historic structures and landscapes are traces of past lives that are clues to how our ancestors lived, and how life today evolved. To write about them is to bring these traces to life.

     Historic structures, with a wealth of history, legend, and folklore on their doorstep, provide fertile material for factual and fictional writing. The writer’s imagination, inspired by the iconic locations, can run wild, using descriptive style and creating imaginative stories based on both fact and fiction.

     There are different approaches to writing about historic (or current day) structures.  

  • Describe in detail a general overall view of the structure, a room, or an item(s) on display. Use all your senses, but remember: descriptive writing does not include opinion.
  • Use personal interviews, research (libraries and Internet—caution, though—make certain the information is accurate), and documentation (public records, newspaper stories) to write a factual piece on the history of the structure. Support this with information on the structure itself and/or its contents, in part or in whole. Include the date the structure was built, its architectural style, how the structure changed through the years
  • Explore the people connected with the structure: the builder, the owners through the years, who worked in the structure, who visited the structure and why.
  • What was the structure’s original use? How did it reflect its certain historical era. How did it change through the years (additions, renovations, etc.)? What is its current use? Why were these changes made? What construction, special to its purpose, was used? What is the relationship between its construction and its purpose?
  • Why do you think that people are interested in visiting this building?
  • Can these buildings tell us anything about (to continue reading click on: How to Write About (Historic) Buildings)

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 ADDITIONAL READING:

DEVELOPING CHARACTERS IN NOVEL WRITING

Eavesdropping—the good and the bad of it

JOURNALIST ETHICS CONCERNING THE RECEIPT OF GIFTS

Journalism Rules and Professionalism: I had neither!

INTEGRITY: A JOURNALISTIC CODE OF ETHICS REVIEW

THE WRITING LIFE CONTINUES

THE WRITING LIFE: There’s a World Out There?

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November 23, 2010

My Husband’s Famous Pumpkin Pie

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

MY HUSBAND’S FAMOUS  PUMPKIN PIE

Made from Scratch

Monte W. Holland

     My husband, Monte, began making homemade pumpkin pies from scratch in 1985. To read that story, click on: My Husband’s Pumpkin Pie Saga

     Below he gives his instructions for making his specialty.

 THE CRUST

I prefer using an egg pastry recipe found in (more…)

May 17, 2010

SYNOPSIS PREPARATION

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SYNOPSIS PREPARATION

     Three questions remained on the Children’s Trust Fund grant application I was preparing. First, summarize the grant in one page. Second, summarize the grant in one paragraph. Third, summarize the grant in one sentence. After much work, and a lot of thinking, I answered the questions and truly understood what the grant was about.

     That was in 1991. It’s now 2010. I’m writing in a different genre: a historical romance novel, for which I must write a synopsis. My questions are:

  • What is a synopsis
  • Why is it important
  • How much of the work should I reveal
  • When should I write it
  • How should I write it.

     I approached the second question first. A synopsis is important for the same reason I discovered the final three questions on the grant application were important: to (more…)

December 18, 2009

How to Count the Gifts Given in the Twelve Days of Christmas

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

HOW TO COUNT THE GIFTS GIVEN IN THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

A Simple Question…Right?

      A teacher assigned a project to my Whipple Elementary School class: Who can cut the longest strip of paper from a sheet 8 ½ by 11 inches?

     Simple, I thought, and cut a strip 11 inches long before sitting back smugly.

     When the results were shown, I discovered my naivety. Some students knew to cut around and around the paper, making lengthy strips. It was an eye opener for thinking creatively and out of the box.

     I had the same sensation when I was reviewing information on the Twelve Days of Christmas for this year’s Christmas card/ornament. I came across a simple question: How many gifts would a person have to purchase if they bought every gift in the ditty’s list?

     Simple, I thought. There are two ways of counting. One gift for each  day, twelve total. Or, one gift the first day, two the second, three the third day, and so on.  Just add the total. It’s 364.

     Or, 376, if you count (more…)

November 12, 2009

There’s a Bug (Moth) In Carolyn’s Ear

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

NEW CONTEST!

MONTHLY PRIZE FOR COMMENTS

     CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is awarding a monthly prize to the reader making the most comments at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. To be eligible for the prize, comment on any post. The more comments you post, the greater chance you have of being the winner.

     The first prize, to be announced on December 3, 2009, will be awarded to the reader who made the most comments on during November. The winner will be notified by E-mail. In the event of a tie, a name will be drawn. Winners will be listed on this page. 

     Thank you for your loyalty to my writing site.      Carolyn C. Holland

NEW! INDEX PAGES!

Check out the INDEX PAGES on the left hand side of this blogsite to easily locate posts on your favorite subjects! Keep in mind—they are still “under construction.”

THERE’S A BUG (MOTH) IN CAROLYN’S EAR

By Cochran Cornell, the Cantankerous Cockroach 

After my very early morning experience when a moth flew in my ear, I invited my cartoon character Cochran Cornell the Cantankerous Cockroach to tell all you good folks the story from his point of view.  

     Last night, my creator, Carolyn, came up with a new definition for the phrase “You have a bug in your ear!”

     It happened at 3:15 a.m. She was trying to sleep, lying on her side, with her cat Honey resting on her shoulder and purring loudly in her ear. Suddenly, she jumped up, startling Honey and dumping her off the bed. Something was in (more…)

June 10, 2009

Fitness Program Update: Week 4

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

FITNESS PROGRAM UPDATE:

WEEK 4

I am sharing my personal fitness attempts with my loyal readers. To read previous segments, click on: Spring has sprung…with yard work and fitness workouts & Exercise/Fitness Program Landmark

     Two days, during the first week in June, I swam a mile. And two days I swam three-quarters of a mile. (to view photos, click on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3612835506/ & http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3612835176/  &  http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3612834718/in/photostream/  &  http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3612019637/in/photostream/ )

     On Thursday, May 28, I also did a fifteen-minute mile on the treadmill, spent six minutes on the elliptical machine, and did an incomplete regimen on the fitness machines. I did not take a nap that afternoon.

     Exercise is supposed to make you sleep. Right? Then why, that night, when I was so very tired that I went to bed at ten o’clock, was I still awake at three a.m.? I only slept (more…)

June 2, 2009

Violet infestation? Why complain?

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

VIOLET INFESTATION? WHY COMPLAIN?

      As I sat on my comfortable couch this winter, watching the snow drift with the winds and the birds fly to and from the window bird feeder, I was invited to contemplate on the number of blades of grass that would be on my lawn come summer. This invitation, in a Vital Stats column, Growth Industry, (the May 2003 Pittsburgh Magazine), states that the “Number of blades of grass on the Cathedral of Learning lawn” is 278,784,000.

     Naturally, my mind wonders about my lawn—and I wonder how I could ever count the blades of grass on it. I recollect how I once did red blood cell counts (I once worked as a hematology technician doing differential counts under a microscope). A section of blood, smeared on a slide and stained, is counted, and the total is projected from that count. Ah, so I could take a patch of lawn, say three inches square, and count the blades of grass in it. There are sixteen of these squares in (more…)

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