IF I COULD HAVE A CHOICE…

Ritika Rasal

If I could have a choice, I never chose to be with you.
If I could have a choice, I never chose to live in trauma all those years with you.
If I could have a choice, I must have chose happiness when I was suffering from sadness.
If I could have a choice, I chose my career instead of waisting all those years chasing and caring you.
If I could have a choice, I chose myself not you.
If I could have a choice, I chose friends over loneliness being with you.
If I could have a choice, I chose world over a small apartment stucked in it with you.
If I could have a choice, I must chose freedom instead of being your slave.
But that was past…
Yes, a past which I erased…

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MY MOMMA ALWAYS SAID…

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!

Advice—an opinion someone offers you about what you should do or how you should act in a particular situation.

When you were a kid, remember how you turned up your nose when an adult offered words of wisdom?

Then you got older and found yourself using the same guidance with your kids!

Yeah, well, good advice is good advice, no matter the century. I mean, the Ten Commandments have been around a while and they’re still relative! Okay, maybe I’m stretching it a little because they’re considered more than just advice, but you get my drift.

Today, the Gabbin’ Gals and some friends want to share some of the best advice they’ve received.

We’d love to hear some ‘pearls of wisdom’ you’ve received. So let us know by commenting here: https://www.susanaroyal.com or at https://www.anneverett.com

Love/marriage/relationships

“You can get married anytime—all you have to do is lower your standards.” (Ann’s momma)

“A man never leaves unless he has another woman.” (Ann’s momma)

“You can tell the minute a man touches you if it’s for his benefit or yours.” (Ann’s momma)

Friendships/morals

“Use your brain. That’s why God gave it to you.” (Susan’s Daddy)

“Clean don’t rub off on dirty.” (Ann’s momma)

“Pretty is as pretty does.” (Ann’s grandma) (Susan’s grandma). I heard those words many times when I was growing up.

“Nothing good happens after midnight.” (Ann’s daddy)

“If you saw someone jump off a cliff, would you do the same thing?” (Something Susan’s Daddy always used to say when she got in trouble for following the crowd)

Fashion/Beauty

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” (TNBW member, Lauren shares her mother’s advice referring to women in Spandex)

“Never wear a pair of new shoes on a shopping trip.” (Susan’s mother)

Finance

“Put something back for a rainy day.” (Susan’s mother)

Borrow money from a pessimist, they don’t expect to be paid back.” (TNBW member, Memphis Trace. I’ve credited his penname because he’s still borrowing money using his real name)

Everyday Life

“Tomorrow is another day.” Scarlett O’Hara.

“Don’t believe everything you read.” (TNBW member, John Hamler, quoting Abe Lincoln)

“Reality is never as good or bad as people claim. (Ann’s friend, Dagny)

“A job isn’t done when you’re tired of it. It’s done when you finish what you said you were going to do.” (Susan’s friend, Robbi)

“When you’re talking, you’re probably saying something you already know. If you shut up and listen, you might learn something new.” (TNBW member, Tai Baker)

“Nothing in life stays the same, so treasure the good times and accept the bad, knowing that this too will pass.” (Susan’s friend, Sheryl)

“The good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth…listen twice as much as you speak.” (TNBW member, Don)

“There’s no reason not to stay clean. Soap is cheap.” (Susan’s grandma)

“Wherever you go, there you are.” (TNBW member, Dirk B.)

“Every day starts fresh and new. You get to decide what kind of day it’s going to be.” (Susan)

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

Beauty on a Budget

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!

Pennies Make Dimes and Dimes Make Dollars

SUSAN:  One of the many things we Gabbin’ Girls have in common is that we both love a bargain. We’ll go to just about any length to sniff one out. And it only makes sense. Our mantra is: Why pay a dollar for something when you can get the same results for a fraction of the cost?

To save money, you need to be familiar with your brand names. That goes for clothes, makeup, or hair products. You could lose out on a great sale if you don’t. Another thing to do is to check stores regularly that carry them. You never know when they’re going to run a sale, markdown, or have a clearance sale.

When I stopped coloring my hair, my beautician recommended I use shampoo for gray hair to keep it from looking dull and yellow. After some research, I came across Generic Value Products Conditioning Shampoo. They compare it to Clairol Shimmer Lights. 6.99/16 oz or 10.99/33.8 oz. You can order online, or if you’re lucky, you can catch it on sale at the store. Clairol Shimmer Lights is 12.99/16 oz or 21.99/31.5 oz. The generic brand does everything I want, and I save money!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to pamper themselves every once in a while. Dr. Teal’s products are great and don’t cost an arm and a leg. Walmart carries a line in several scents (Lavender, Milk and Rose, Milk and Honey, Vitamin C and Citrus and others). They range in price from around 5.00-10.00 for a 32 oz bottle, and I love them!  I’ve also given them for gifts.

Walmart Makeup Haul  https://youtu.be/xNtaFAHzML0

Mud Mask Review https://youtu.be/Jl1VeZXcWaE

Everyday Look  https://youtu.be/79uCQrYc5es

Monday Blues https://youtu.be/TH3-ald40jQ

Listed above are some of the posts from Carrie Amanda’s YouTube channel. My daughter does Beauty on a Budget tutorials on makeup application, price comparisons, and tells you where you can buy for less. She haunts Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree and keeps her viewers informed on all the latest there and at Walmart.

ANN: YAS! The Gabbin’ Gals love a bargain!! Many years ago, I joined an online survey site where I shared my opinions about products and services. You may want to give one a try. Just search the internet for ‘survey sites.’ You can earn cash by answering questions or trying products. They once sent me a bottle of liquid makeup to try for a month. I’d never used a liquid. I’d been using Merle Norman cream foundation for years. The bottle of test makeup I received was in a Clinique bottle. After a month, I was hooked. I loved it. At the end of the test period, I answered the final questions and imagine how surprised I was to find out I’d been testing a new product by Cover Girl! I’ve been using it ever since. After all these years, it only costs about $7.00 per bottle where the Merle Norman I’d been using costs about $23.00. Talk about a bargain!

Another product I strongly endorse is also a shampoo. I may have mentioned it before. Suave Sheer Color Radiance. It only costs $2-$3 per bottle and it lathers as good or better than most expensive brands.

These are just a few ways to save money and look good while you’re doing it. I’m sure you all have “finds” of your own. Please feel free to share them with us. We’d love to hear them.

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

From Now On

From Now On, the second edition of Book 2 in the It’s About Time series is live on Amazon and available for the first time in print!   

Griffin has traveled across the centuries to reunite with the woman he loves, but he and Erin may not get their ‘happy ever after’. Not if Lady Isobeil has anything to do with it. Griffin has to leave Erin behind and travel to eerie Manx Island. When he goes missing, Erin and his friends set out to find him. Followed by his strong-willed sister, Kateryn, they ride to Swansea and secure passage with the notorious Captain Akin.

Erin sees firsthand how the island 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 “ley lines” crossing the island’s mountain peak and that make time travel possible. 

Yet these obstacles pale in comparison to the secret Erin uncovers while determined to rescue the man she loves.

~Mini-Excerpt~

I am a stranger to this world, even though I’ve traveled here before. Fate and not design brought me the first time. It took me from an existence dependent upon modern technology to a place where people feared such things and those who used them and hurled me into a distant future.

While searching for a way home from this harsh and sometimes violent place, my regard for its inhabitants who valued honor and duty above all else grew into admiration and respect. I found myself drawn to them. Sir Griffin, in particular. A man who saved my life more than once. I never expected to fall in love with him.

Torn between my feelings and a longing for home, I returned to my world with only vague memories of my experience. My life went back to normal, but part of me sensed the loss of something more precious than anything I’d gained. Until the day I saw him again.

This time I’ve come by choice, and it is where I’m going to stay. Fate willing.

~Coming Next~

Book 3 in the It’s About Time series. The love story continues…

EVERYBODY’S GONE SURFIN’

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!

During this time of quarantine and social distancing, you may find yourself surfing the internet more and more. If that’s the case, then today’s blog is for you.

We’ve included some great sites that will make you laugh, cry, update your wardrobe and redecorate your house! Be sure and check them out.

A little funny scottish fold kitten is hanging on the rope. isolated on a white background

One of my favorites is: https://www.sadanduseless.com/

They refer to themselves as “The Most Depressive Humor Site on The Internet”, claiming it is their sad attempt at humor. You’ll find a selection of funny pictures…everything from ‘Baby Pooping Faces’ to ‘Cats in Citrus Hats.’ It is definitely worth checking out if you need a belly laugh.

Beautiful woman in oriental clothes with parasol sit on stairs, indoor shot

If you’re over fifty, then you’re sure to find a blog at https://passionfruitpawsandpeonies.com/lifestyle-and-fashion-blogs-for-women-over-50/ to interest you. They have selections from every day to outrageous.

Collage of clothes in blue colors isolated on white

For the career-minded woman, check out https://www.careergirldaily.com/  They blog about everything from time management to how to accessorize with jewelry.

If some daily inspiration is what you need, then visit https://brenebrown.com/blog/ where she shares real conversations, ordinary moments, and inspiration. If you don’t know who Brené Brown is, then you’ve been living under a rock!

Brené has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring GreatlyRising StrongBraving the Wilderness, and her latest book, Dare to Lead, which is the culmination of a seven-year study on courage and leadership.

She hosts the Unlocking Us podcast, and her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix. The Call to Courage special debuted on the streaming service on April 19, 2019.

Brené lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie.

Panoramic picture of a colorful modern living room

In the mood for some home/DIY inspiration? Here are three sites you might enjoy.

addicted2decorating.com

https://www.younghouselove.com/

https://www.thriftydecorchick.com/

SUSAN: Every morning when I log on to my computer, one of the first things I do is check my email and read my daily post from Sean of the South. Sean’s humor and his insight on humanity (especially the kind you see in the south never fails to touch me. I start out laughing and end up with tears in my eyes. He makes me appreciate life. Sean Dietrich is a columnist, novelist, and podcast host, known for his commentary on life in the American South. Check him out. You’ll be glad you did.

ANN: I LUV (I sang that in opera for effect) Sean of the South! I depend on his blogs to keep my tear ducts cleaned out. Susan recommended I follow him and I’m so thankful she did. His daily posts are a bright spot in my day!!

https://refashionista.net/

SUSAN: My daughter told me about Jillian’s blog several years ago, and I love it. On each blog, she takes a garment and refashions it step by step, giving you photos and tips. It’s filled with how-tos for a more stylish and creative life. She’s my kind of girl!

From refashion and upcycle tutorials on how to repurpose even the ugliest of thrift store clothes, to thrift style inspiration, to home DIY projects, to an occasional post on how to live your best thrifty life, it’s all here!

There’s nothing I like better than thrifting, repurposing, junking and checking out resale shops. If you’re like me, check it out.

ANN: I swear Susan and I are sisters from another Mister! I say a hardy Amen to repurposing, junking, and thrifting.

https://www.grammarly.com/about

https://prowritingaid.com/

For those of you who write like me, getting a clean copy is invaluable. I’ve used both of the above sites. I pay for the one I use, but what’s great is they have free versions you can check out. You have a spellchecker, grammar checker, style editor. And all in one place. You can edit faster. Fix style issues. Eliminate errors. It’s a great tool I use that allows me to spend more crafting my story.

ANN: Great suggestions—not only for writers but these sites will help students turn in better writing assignments, along with folks who send out resumes.

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

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

I got this recipe from Pinterest. It’s a great place to search for recipes with ingredients you have on hand. In my case, I had frozen strawberries and greek yogurt, so I searched for strawberry yogurt muffins. These muffins came out moist and just sweet enough. I’m going to try adding chocolate chips next time. Great with a cup of coffee!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tap. Salt
¼ cup butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup chopped strawberries
¼ cup brown sugar for the top

Directions:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and oil until smooth. Add the egg, yogurt and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture and mix well.In a separate bowl, combine the first four dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture.Add the chopped strawberries and lightly mix in.Place paper muffin liner in your muffin tins. Use a ¼ cup scoop to fill the liners. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top of each muffin.*Chocolate chips would be a great optional add. Add 1 cup with the strawberries.Bake for 12-14 minutes for regular muffins and 8 to 10 mins for mini muffins or  until golden on top and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

EVERYONE DIES FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN

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!

SUSAN: I grew up in the city. Every summer, we visited my grandparents, who lived in a small community. It was like The Andy Griffith show come to life. I loved it. My husband grew up in small towns. I always envied him. So, we jumped at the chance to raise our kids in that kind of atmosphere.

Things happen here that never happen anywhere else. People will tell you hello and ask how you’re doing. And they aren’t just asking to be kind. They’ll call you by name, and they give you the benefit of the doubt, especially when your kids go to the same school, are on the same little league team, or play football together. If the mailman can’t deliver something to your nephew who lives out in the country, he’ll bring it to you instead.

Someone always knows what’s going on at your house. My cousin once came from out of town to visit, and when I got to work, my coworker wanted to know whose Harley was parked in my driveway before 8 a.m. If you get a delivery and you’re gone, your neighbor will sign for it. Of course, they’ll want to know what you ordered. If there’s a death in the family, they’ll bring food and ask whether you need anything. If they see someone at your house and know you’re not there, they’ll tell you about it. Whether you want to know or not.

At first, it was a little stifling, especially when you’re private people like my husband and me. But we learned to dodge the questions we didn’t want to answer and appreciate the fact that they really do care.

ANN: Unlike Susan, I grew up in a small town. A really, really, small town…population 312.  At least, that was the count during my day. And although it now has a whopping 1,253 residents, it’s still considered small.

During this COVID-19 situation, I’ve thought more about how I grew up, and because of that, the pandemic hasn’t been so hard on me. Staying home without much to do was a way of life.  In the summer, we’d go out to play and stay until dark, only coming inside to eat dinner (which is now called lunch).

I loved the sound of our screen door slamming because it announced my daddy was home from work.  I cherish the time spent sitting on the porch, peeling peaches or shelling peas hanging on every word of the stories my grandmother told.

I grew up without air conditioning, color TV, local movie theaters and restaurants. The social life in my hometown consisted of school and church activities such as Bible school and sporting events, along with the occasional school dance.

The most trouble we got into was turning on the lights at the football field, toilet-papering someone’s house, or spray-painting our year of graduation on the water tower. (Not me because I was afraid of heights)

We had a theater for a while, but it burned down—twice! Each summer, a big truck hauled in a roller-skating rink and set it up on a vacant lot. When it left, the medicine show took its place for a couple of weeks. Each night, they sold a magic elixir that was guaranteed to cure what ailed you. They also featured a magician and held talent contests for local folks. I entered one year, singing “Cross Over the Bridge” by Patti Page, and won third place! 

I’m not sure that counted as my fifteen minutes of fame, but then again, to quote small-town girl Miranda Lambert, “everyone dies famous in a small town.”

**Do you have a favorite small-town memory you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments following this blog post.

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

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.