Aunt Gretta’s Pecan Pie

I usually bake something for the guys in the family on their birthday, and this year my son-in-law requested a pecan pie. I don’t know if I’ve ever cooked one before, but I got this recipe from my sister. Her pies are always delicious. But I’m pleased with the way it turned out. Here’s the recipe in case you want to try making it.

GRETTA’S PECAN PIE

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 T flour

2 T butter

1 t vanilla (I always add more)

1 cup pecans

Combine all ingredients and pour into an unbaked 9” pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

FUN, FUN HOLIDAYS

About books, movies, cooking, and advice
Decorating, shopping, and finding the best price
Life, love and raising kids
Along with do-hickeys, what-cha-ma-call-its, and thing-a-ma-jigs
We’re just two Texas girls
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!

Today, on Gabbin’ Gals, we’re discussing some upcoming fun holidays. 

Tomorrow, July 29th is Lasagna Day! I don’t like lasagna much, but I found this slow cooker recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. It’s really delicious and super easy because—well, it’s a slow cooker recipe. I won’t print the directions here. Instead, go to the site responsible for this yumminess, at the URL below. While there, you can sign up to receive two weeks’ worth of easy recipes and view some 30-minute meals as well. I signed up!  

https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/slow-cooker-lasagna/

Susan: When I had a house full of growing kids who could eat like field hands and liked to ask their friends over for supper, I was always looking for easy recipes that fed a crowd. A coworker gave me one for lasagna that could be prepared the day before. And what kid doesn’t like Italian food? So, I made it often. Years later, you can imagine my surprise when all three of my kids admitted they never really cared for it. I couldn’t believe my ears! These days, I try a lot of things I never got to try then. All I have to do is make sure it makes a small batch, so I won’t be eating leftovers for a week! 

July 30th is Paperback Book Day! You know the Gabbin’ Gals will celebrate it. Here’s a bit of history.  

In England, paperbacks were published as early as 1935, but they were poor quality. It wasn’t until Sir Allen Lane started a publishing company, that would later become Penguin Books, creating a paperback revolution. They published books by Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, and a few other notable authors. As a result, the company sold 3 million books in the first year. 

The US followed suit a few years later when Robert Fair de Graff decided books should be inexpensive and small enough to fit in a pocket. Simon & Schuster agreed and backed his venture. Sized at 4 X 6 inches, and costing 25 cents, the Pocket Books debuted in May 1939. 

So, do you still enjoy reading a paperback, or, have you succumbed to digital books? 

Susan: When someone asks me that question, I always tell them if it’s a good story, I’ll read it any way I can. One thing about physical books, though. If they’re yours, you can highlight passages, make notes or flip back to check on something that happened three chapters earlier. Can’t do that with an eBook. I’ve attached jpgs of three paperback books I’ve had since the 70s. I’ve read them dozens of times through the years. (You can tell by the covers)

Also, on July 30th, we celebrate International Day of Friendship. With social media, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with friends—even those who live thousands of miles away. So, celebrate friendship by reaching out to someone you’ve lost touch with. It just might make their day! 

Susan: I still send cards in the mail. Especially to my grandkids. And I have friends who still send them. There is something special about going to the mailbox and getting a card or a letter from someone I know. It makes my day! 

Ann: I can vouch for Susan sending cards. I’m always surprised and delighted when I get one from her…and feel terrible that I’m not as thoughtful.

Do you have a loveable mutt? Well, July 30th is also Mutt’s Day. In just about all of my novels, I give at least one character a pet—be it a cat or dog. Do you want to know why authors do that? It isn’t just their love for animals. It’s a way for characters to reveal part of themselves by having conversations with pets who can’t talk back! 

Susan: I write about animals in all my books too. And you’re right. They show us things about our characters we can’t see anywhere else. I like giving them human characteristics as well. In Not Long Ago, the protagonist, Erin, bonded with Griffin’s horse. It worked out so well, Bayard had an even bigger part in the second book.  

And we’d be considered terrible authors if we failed to mention July 31st is Harry Potter Day. After all, Pottermore, the official fan site, reports more than 500 million HP books have been sold worldwide. Can you believe it? That’s one in fifteen people in the world who owns at least one Harry Potter book!! 

Susan: I don’t own any Harry Potter books, but I’ve read just about all of them. I loved the characters, the settings, the stories. I’ve bought copies of them for two of my grandkids who enjoyed reading them too. And if there’s a Harry Potter marathon showing on TV, you can bet I’ll have it on. 

Find out more about Ann Everett/Emma Ames: https://www.anneverett.com

July 20, 1969

I’ll never forget that summer. After a whirlwind romance, my boyfriend had asked me to marry him and we were busy planning our October wedding. And of course, we spent every moment together. Otherwise I might missed it altogether. He was in the Air National Guard and was fascinated with anything to do with flying and/or space travel. So when he found out they were going to broadcast the landing on the moon on television, we had to watch.

So there we were, sitting in my parents family room, watching their black and white twenty-something inch television that didn’t get very good reception. To be honest, the whole space thing didn’t mean that much to me. But I knew it did to him. And, I was just happy that we were spending time together. So we watched.

On 10:56 p.m. ET on July 20, 1969, the American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped off that ladder and planted his left foot on the moon. Then, he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Suddenly, I understood. Mankind had taken a giant step toward the future. We’d gone where no man had gone before. And I cried.

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

About books, movies, cooking, and advice
Decorating, shopping, and finding the best price
Life, love and raising kids
Along with do-hickeys, what-cha-ma-call-its, and thing-a-ma-jigs
We’re just two Texas girls
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!

That’s Grandma on the left

Susan: I’m what my grandmother used to call a clothes horse. I love colors, styles, and different fabrics. I come by it honest. My grandmother once spent a whole month’s salary on a skirt from France when she worked as a telephone operator in 1918.

me (left) my sister Kim (right)

I remember the dress Mama bought for me when I started school. A plaid shirtwaist with a white lace-trimmed collar. Maybe because it came from Sears. Most of my clothes were homemade. My grandparents had chickens, and the feed came in sacks with print material on one side that Grandma and Mama used for everything from dresses to kitchen towels to underwear.

When I got older, bobby socks were all the rage. And Poodle skirts. So were petticoats and full skirts. A few years later, I took a seam ripper to them and used the material to make fitted skirts and A-line dresses.

It’s incredible how the styles have changed over the years. But one thing I have learned. What goes around eventually comes around again. I never thought I’d see the day when girls wore bellbottoms, or tie-dye, or madras plaid again.  But guess what? Never say never. You should see the look on my daughter’s face when she finds out her new outfit is just like one I wore years ago.

Ann: When I think of fashion, what stands out in mind are the three inch heels I talked my mother into buying me for my 8th grade graduation, the sacks of hand-me-downs I’d get twice a year from older cousins, and the borrowed formal I used when I was a homecoming princess my sophomore year. It had a boned strapless bodice with a full skirt of layered netting and a bustle-like tiered satin accent on the back. Talk about making your butt look big!

Well, three-inch heels are all the rage, and now we have all sorts of re-sale shops where you actually pay for hand-me-downs. I no longer wear high heels, but I’m a frequent shopper of thrift/used clothing stores. As for the formal wear, I’m not sure if and when the big, big, skirted formals will make a comeback, but since big behinds are now in vogue, the bustle just might reemerge.

Susan mentioned wearing clothes made from feed sacks. I have a similar fashion history. My mom worked for Olive & Myers Manufacturing Company where she made mattresses. Yep, you guessed it. I had clothes made from mattress material. Talk about making your bed and lying in…I wore mine.

Do you have a fashion memory you want to share? OR, maybe a photo of you wearing one of your faves? If so, post it in the comments. We’d love to see it!

Find out more about Ann Everett/Emma Ames: https://www.anneverett.com

It’s About Time Series

2nd edition now available on Amazon – on KINDLE and IN PRINT for the first time ever!

https://amzn.to/notlongago

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of traveling through time. Visiting another time. Getting up close and personal with characters and places in history. Seeing things the way they were or the way they will be someday. Just think of the possibilities. And what if you could decide whether you wanted to stay or go back home? What would you do?

Erin has met the man of her dreams, but it’s complicated. She’s in one of those long-distance relationships, and the man she loves is a little behind the times–somewhere around 600 years. 

Along with her employer, March, Erin is transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something is not quite right at the castle, and they are certain mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. But Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping, and death while searching for the way home.

Posing as March’s nephew, she finds employment as handsome Sir Griffin’s squire. From the start, she’s attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility, and devotion to duty.  Yet, she must deny her feelings.  Erin misses her home that’s in a world centuries away, but she can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.   

From there, the story could have gone anywhere. Turns out, it did. I never planned for Not Long Ago to become a series, but when my daughter insisted there was more to the story, I realized she was right.  

 Coming Soon!

From Now On takes up where Not Long Ago left off. Some of my favorite characters are back. Arvo, the tall, gangly young man with a disreputable shock of red hair who becomes Erin’s good friend and confidant. Sir Edevane, Griffin’s fellow knight and friend, and Kateryn, Griffin’s feisty little sister.

Griffin travels to Erin’s world and brings her back to his, but before they can begin their new life together, Isobeil sends him on a mission to a strange island. When he doesn’t return, Erin assembles a group of his friends to search for him. Followed by his strong-willed sister, Kateryn, they travel to Swansea and secure passage with the notorious Captain Akin.

Erin discovers firsthand how the island has earned its dark reputation when she battles freakish weather, encounters a race of little people known as “Prowlies,” and experiences ghosts of the long departed.  She discovers there are “ley lines” crossing the island’s mountain peak, creating all sorts of strange phenomena. And Erin uncovers a secret while trying to rescue the man she loves.

Coming Soon!

If you love a time travel adventure with a twist (and a love story) and haven’t read Not Long Ago, please do. You can continue Erin and Griffin’s story in From Now On. The third book in the series is To The Past. As the relationship between the two love birds grows, they encounter even more obstacles to overcome while they’re dealing with the caves in Wales, blood moons, and more ghosts.

The It’s About Time series is available on Amazon and Goodreads. If you read it and like it, tell your friends. please post a review. You’ll make this writer happy! Visit my blog at susanaroyal.com and feel free to comment. Email me anytime at ssn_royal@hotmail.com I love hearing from my readers, and promise to answer my emails.

4th of July

However you chose to celebrate this day, whether it be out at the lake, at a cookout with family, or enjoying fireworks with friends, I hope it’s a safe and happy holiday. Sometime during the day, please stop and take a moment to remember what this day should mean to all of us.

Red Skelton was always a favorite of mine. Never failed to make me laugh, and sometimes brought me to tears. This was one of those times.

Dinner and a Movie Monday – Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 film based on the 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flag. Directed by Jon Avnet and written by Flagg and Carol Sobieski, it stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker. It tells the story of a relationship between two southern women during the depression, Ruth and Idgie, and a 1980s friendship between Evelyn, a middle-aged housewife, and Ninny, an elderly woman. The centerpiece and parallel story concerns the murder of Ruth’s abusive husband, Frank, and the accusations that follow.

Released December 27, 1991, the film received a generally positive reception from critics and grossed $119 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Oscars at the Best Supporting Actress (Tandy) and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

One of my favorites. If I’m channel surfing and I come across it, I have to stop and watch. Jessica Tandy movies never disappoint. It’s a story about loyalty, friendship, and always being there for those you love, something we all need in this world.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Prep : 5  m   Cook : 15  m   Ready In : 20  m

Directions

  1. Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends.
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
  3. In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels.

DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. NEKKID AS A JAYBIRD. HAPPY AS A LARK.

About books, movies, cooking, and advice
Decorating, shopping, and finding the best price
Life, love and raising kids
Along with do-hickeys, what-cha-ma-call-its, and thing-a-ma-jigs
We’re just two Texas girls
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!

DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. NEKKED AS A JAYBIRD. HAPPY AS A LARK.

Is a nail only dead if it’s in a door? Since a jaybird has feathers, how can it be naked, and, is a lark always happy? We’ve grown up hearing and speaking these idioms, but what do they mean?

First, let’s define idioms. According to https://www.thefreedictionary.com/, they are the characteristic vocabulary or usage of a specific human group or subject. So, each country and region have their own idioms. In the US there are more than 25,000. I figure the south will claim a fair amount of those!

In book three of the Sweet Thangs Mystery series, Pretty Bows and Turned Up Toes, Sheriff Dan McAlister describes the body of Jay Roy Hobbs as dead as a doornail, nekked as a jaybird, and looking happy as a lark! Long after writing that, I decided to find out what those old-time sayings meant. You may be surprised by some. I was.

forged nails letters – old rusty bent nails in shape of letters, isolated on white

Dead as a doornail

One explanation is that back in the day, doors were built using only wooden boards and hand-forged nails. They needed to be long enough to attach vertical and horizontal wooden panels together so they wouldn’t pull apart. The nail was pounded in and bent-over which made it difficult to pull out. The technique was known as dead nailing—thus dead as a doornail.

Naked as a jaybird

In the 1920s and 30s, upon arrival, new prisoners went straight to the showers and then walked from there to their cell, naked. J-bird was slang for jail-bird. And all this time, I thought we were talking about a bird without feathers!

Illustration of a Cute Nightingale Belting Out Notes

Happy as a lark

Okay, this one was exactly what I thought. The lark sings a lovely melody which makes it sound mighty happy.

Crazy as a loon

Even though, the bird is known to have a haunting cry which is compared to the howls of the insane. The second theory I found for this idiom makes more sense to me.  It’s short for lunatic.

This next one is what got me to wondering about idioms in the first place. As I turned onto a street, there was a bucket in the road. I thought, someone needs to kick that out of the way. What? No. No one should kick the bucket! I couldn’t help but wonder why we say that. Why would kicking a bucket have anything do with dying? Maybe I’m the only one in the world who didn’t know. But, now that I do, it makes sense.

A boy kicking the pail on a white background

Kick the bucket

A common theory is that it refers to hanging…execution or suicide. You stand on a bucket and the pail is kicked away for the noose to do its job. Another theory is that a goat, after milking, may kick the bucket and spill the goods creating a ‘bad ending.’ The origin of the phrase might also refer to a Catholic custom of using holy-water buckets to sprinkle the blessing upon a deceased.

Well, that’s five I’ve grown up hearing. That leaves 24,995 more to check out! Let’s take a look at those Susan comes up with.

Susan: I grew up hearing all these sayings and more. I thought everyone knew what they meant. But sometimes I come across people who’ve never heard of them and give me a strange look. Most of the ones I’ve shared today are pretty explanatory.

I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw him

You couldn’t pick up someone and throw them very far, so you’d put very little trust in what they say. I always imagine someone trying to throw someone much bigger than they are.

So dry I’m spittin’ cotton

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Especially when you’ve been out in the Texas sun during June, July or August. If you have, you know what I mean.

Got to get back to my rat killing

You use this phrase to end a conversation with someone when you’ve got to get back to whatever it is you were doing when you ran into them in the first place. I used this phrase one time in a conversation with a writer friend from up north and he didn’t know what the heck I meant.

I didn’t just fall off the (turnip, tater, watermelon truck)

In other words, I’m not naive. I know you’re trying to fool me, and I’m not falling for it.

This ain’t my first rodeo

Don’t be giving me advice. I’ve been in this situation before. I can handle it.

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

 Hang out with the wrong crowd and you’ll end up in trouble.

I love idioms. I think they make a conversation so much more colorful. Especially when you can picture them.

Tell us some of your favorites. Leave them in the comments.

Find out more about Ann Everett/Emma Ames: https://www.anneverett.com

Some images purchased from Deposit Photos. Nails taken by: @Tamara_k, singing bird taken by: @lenmdp, kicking the bucket taken by: @blueringmedia

My Heart Still Surrenders

I read a lot of different genres. Lately, it seems I’ve been drawn toward historical romances. When the author does a good job, I feel like I’ve been transported to the era where the story takes place. My Heart Still Surrenders, by Robbi Perna is a lovely example.

Navarre is a mercenary employed by King Francis II of the Two Sicilies with a less than stellar reputation with the ladies. When Carolina, the Contessina DeSimone, is disinherited and disowned by her ruthless father, he comes to her rescue. Their love story was enchanting as was the author’s descriptions of 19th century Italy.

You’ll find yourself drawn into the story and feel as though you are watching it unfold through your own eyes.  

DRIVE-INS AND JESUS

About books, movies, cooking, and advice
Decorating, shopping, and finding the best price
Life, love and raising kids
Along with do-hickeys, what-cha-ma-call-its, and thing-a-ma-jigs
We’re just two Texas girls
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!

Drive-in movie theaters have started to make a comeback in recent years, and in light of the coronavirus outbreak, it could be a good thing. They were the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead. The idea caught on, and drive-in theaters popped up all over the country. Their popularity spiked after WWII and became an icon of American culture and a typical weekend destination

Susan: Music to my ears when I was a child. We’d put on our pajamas and grab our pillows because it was going to be a long night. Daddy and Mama always went for the double and triple features. During the summer it got dark so late we’d be there most of the night.

I can smell the popcorn now! A cool summer breeze, the smell of the hot dogs on the grill, the crunch of gravel as cars pulled in. If we were lucky, we might get to go to the playground located in front just under the movie screen.

The advertisement for the snack bar flashing on the screen made my mouth water. (Too expensive, Daddy always said so we brought our snacks with us) The concession stand sat in the middle of the lot, along with the restrooms (which we avoided like the plague because Mama had a thing about germs).

When my husband was a teenager, he’d go to Floyd’s Dairy Bar (5 burgers for $1.00) and buy a six-pack of soda on his way to the show. He also told me the story of parking behind a kid who sneaked in a trunkload of friends (must not have been Bargain night)

My fondest memory is the time my uncles took a carload full of kids to see Cat Ballou. They took us to the snack bar and let us get ANYTHING we wanted. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! It’s a wonder I didn’t make myself sick.

I remember Cool Hand Luke, The House on Haunted Hill, Planet of the Apes, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Shenandoah, and a whole lot of John Wayne movies. I saw a whole lot more, but those stick out in my mind.

Ann: Well, Susan, my parents never took us to the movies…drive-in or otherwise. And, once I was old enough to date, I wasn’t allowed to go to a drive-in.

However, I remember two exceptions to the rule and they stand out in my mind. Not because I was at a forbidden place, but because something memorable happened.

Drive-in visit number one: I went with a friend and her mother. I don’t recall what movie we saw, but I do remember the Lunar Eclipse that night! We spent our time watching it instead of the movie.

My second experience was the first date I had with the boy I would later marry. We’d gotten special permission to go…a one-time-only deal. Again, I don’t remember the movie, but I remember what I was wearing—a purple and white seersucker full skirt and sleeveless top. It was summer and even seersucker didn’t help.

Tom, my date, had a church hand fan in his car. Remember those?  To my surprise, you can still order them as promotional products. They’re about the size of a sheet of typing paper mounted on a paint stir stick. Most of the time they had a picture of Jesus on them.

Well, Tom, being a gentleman, gave it to me so I could stir the air…which I did. But my hand got tired after a while so I laid the fan in my lap. When I raised it to fan again, it caught on the hem of my skirt, and pulled it over my head!

Find out more about Ann Everett/Emma Ames: https://www.anneverett.com