Authors In Bloom Giveaway Hop

The contest has ended and the winner of my giveaway prize is:

YJ Wang

who will be receiving a signed copy of my memoir, Off Kilter, and a package of imported Polish candy.

Congratulations to YJ! And a big thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by here and enter the contest. I hope you enjoyed visiting all the authors’ pages.

I’d love for you to follow me and also visit my website for news about my memoir classes and the progress of my new book, a time travel novel about an ancestor from 19th century Poland.

Happy Spring!

And here’s my Gardening Tip:

Since I like to write about my Polish heritage, I’ve decided to give you some spring gardening tips from the Poland of yore. In days of old, there was a folk belief that the egg brought life to the field and assisted in the growth process. Polish farmers placed an egg between vegetable rows to protect against insects. Some buried an egg near fruit trees to increase their yield. Egg shells thrown on the field were thought to increase the yield of rye and protect wheat from blight. Women buried the shells of colored eggs in the garden where they grew madder, its roots used as medication for colic. 

Of course, you can also use the half-shells to start seeds indoors. Just be careful when you crack your eggs open, raw or hard-boiled, so you have two nice-sized halves for a bit of soil and a seed or two.

I’m going to try the egg shell routine in my little garden beside my townhouse. Can’t hurt, can it? So after I eat my Easter eggs (not the chocolate kind), I’ll save the shells and place them in the soil where I hope to plant a few annuals next month. Have you ever done this? Let me know if it works, please!

Now, here’s something for your taste buds:

I’m posting the following recipe, in her own words, in honor of one of my favorite Polish American relatives. If you’d like to read more about her, and see her photo, check out my essay, “You Have to Eat Lunch,”  in the latest issue of  bioStories. 

Ceil’s Potato Chip Cookies

Cream together 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup Crisco and 1 cup margarine.
Add 1 egg and beat well with cream mixture.
Add 3 cups flour, 1 cup nuts or coconut, 1 1/2 cup potato chips and 2 tsp. vanilla.
Mix well and drop by tsp. on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Please don’t forget: UNgreased cookie sheet. There’s plenty of grease in these cookies already! 

Don’t forget to visit the other authors involved in the hop, 
conveniently located on the link below:

Authors in Bloom

The old ladies

Since a large part of Off Kilter is about growing up Polish-American, I’m curious about how other writers have thought about their ethnic heritage.

I’ve created a workshop called “Writing Our Cultural Traditions,” and presented it at three different conferences – in Austin and Houston, TX and in Blue Bell, PA. One of the examples I use is a lovely poem, Black Dresses by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, a wonderful poet and creative writing program director at Passaic County Community College, NJ.

It begins:
“I dress now all in black like the old ladies
of my childhood….”

How did the old ladies of your childhood dress? The old men?

Here’s an excerpt from my essay, “Pine Lake,” published in, issue 20, Winter2008:

Our grandparents passed the afternoon on wooden folding chairs in the shade. He was a small man in a white shirt with black arm garters, on his head, a straw hat with a black band. And she, white-haired and smiling, wore a pastel housedress, thick brown stockings and laced tan shoes. Grandpa liked to walk off by himself to look at a tree or pick up a pinecone and show it to one of the grandchildren. From time to time, Grandma handed out the food she’d brought: bags of potato chips, bunches of ripe yellow bananas.