AUTUMN LEAVES AND PUMPKINS, PLEASE!

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: October is my favorite time of the year. From crisp mornings to sunny afternoons. From unexpected rain showers to chilly evenings. I love to pull out my extra blankets, sweaters, and warm pajamas. Indulge in some pretty mums and put out the fall decorations. Get out my Autumn candles. And start looking for new recipes to try out.

This time of year, I love to watch some of my favorite Halloween movies. Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, Silver Bullet, to name a few, along with some oldies like The Uninvited, Murder, He Says, and The Ghost Breakers. The ominous music and the dark, gloomy scenes never fail to put me in the mood for Halloween. What are some of your favorites?

This month is National Book Month, a time for us to celebrate and expand our love of reading. When that first norther blows in, it’s the perfect time to pull on some cozy slippers, have a hot cup of something and curl up on the couch with a good book, especially if it’s raining! I’ve read some outstanding books lately. What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon, Paula Brackston’s witch series, Deborah Harkness All Souls Series, to name a few. With fewer new shows coming out because of COVID, now’s the time to start that book you’ve been wanting to read!

Like most of you, I spend my summers looking for the easiest, quickest dishes to prepare, preferably without using the oven if at all possible. I find myself eating a lot of salads and sandwiches. Don’t get me wrong. I love to cook, but I don’t like to sweat. So, when the temps cool off, I reach for my cookbook and dig out some of my favorites, like these two recipes.

Mush Muffins

2 c. water

½ c. instant grits

1 c. milk

2 t butter

1 t salt

2 T warm water

1 1/8 t active dry yeast

5 ½ to 6 c flour

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add grits. Reduce heat. Cook on low 5-7 minutes until water is absorbed. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in milk, butter and salt. Set aside. Cool to lukewarm. Combine 2 T water with yeast in small bowl. Let stand until dissolved. Stir into grits mixture. Mix with as much flour as possible using a wooden spoon. Turn out and knead in remaining flour for about 10 minutes. Let rise until doubled (1½ hours) Punch down. Let rest 15 minutes. Roll out dough. Cut with biscuit cutter and place in shallow baking dish. Brush the top with melted butter

Tomato Soup

2 T butter

1 c chopped onion

8 oz fresh mushroom, cleaned

2 T flour

1 14 ½ oz can whole tomatoes drained and chopped

1 cup hot water

1 16 oz can tomato sauce

Two beef bouillon cubes dissolved in ¼ c water

½ t white pepper

1 t sugar

1 pint heavy cream

Sauté onion and mushrooms in butter.  Add flour and stir till bubbly.  Add hot water, tomato sauce, bouillon, tomatoes, and pepper.  Simmer about ten minutes. Remove from heat, add sugar and cream.  Mix well until heated.

These go great together and make the house smell heavenly.

ANN: Those sound like great recipes…even though I don’t like tomato soup!! However, I LUV (I sang that in opera for effect) any kind of bread. I’ll definitely be making some of those muffins. Besides, nothing makes the house smell better than fresh bread baking.

I have a couple of recipes I’ll share in the next post on November 9, 2020.

By then, maybe some of you readers will have tried these two shared by Susan. If you do, then leave a comment on her blog site or mine. We’d love to hear if you liked them or not.

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

WHAT ARE WE SEARCHING FOR?

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, the Gabbin’ Gals, Susan, and Ann ask the question:

Ann: Have you ever wondered what people might think if they knew what you were googling? As writers, we google all sorts of weird stuff. For my mystery series, I google things like—what kind of poison could I used to kill someone without it showing up in a standard autopsy…or what could I use so the victim will die within fifteen minutes!

So, if someone looked at my search history, they just might call the cops!!

Susan: I’m with you! The latest thing I googled was about the Viking’s lifestyle. What they wore, what they ate, and how they lived. I had a mental picture (from some movie, I’m sure) about people eating large quantities of Pork cooked over an open fire and chasing it down with alcohol. While they did drink beer or mead, they ate a lot of mutton, whole grains, and vegetables.

I’ve googled whether or not you can kill a man wearing chainmail with an ax, time travel, ley lines, and standing stones.

Ann: I thought it might be interesting to share some Google statistics.

According to https://searchengineland.com
Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. That’s the average figure of how many people use Google a day, which translates into at least 2 trillion searches per year, 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day. Holy Moly!!

To find out more about Google search statistics, see this article: https://seotribunal.com/blog/google-stats-and-facts

Now that we know how many searches are going on let’s take a look at what people are searching for.

From March through April, the 9 most googled recipes according to https://www.chowhound.com are:

9. Cheesecake

8. Lasagna

7. French toast

6. Meat loaf

5. Brownies

4. Pizza Dough

3. Chicken

2. Pancakes

And the NUMBER ONE googled recipe is, BANANA BREAD!!

The following statistics were taken from https://www.mentalfloss.com visit their site for much more info.

Since we’ve been staying home more, many of us have taken up new hobbies. Some have been learning a new language, while others have been binge-watching Netflix…me included. Just so you know, the top three programs watched so far on Netflix are Tiger King, Ozark, and Outer Banks. I’ve watched one of those.

The most googled searches for hobbies are: Texas/TV and Films…so there, I’m not the only couch potato in the state!

Folks on the East Coast are googling home workouts. Most of the Mid-west is looking up video games.

DIY dominated Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Some of the most interesting searches are: While Texans are having trouble sleeping, Floridians want to know how to sleep at work.

Colorado wants to know how to stop drinking, and New Mexico searched to find out about day drinking. Ohio searched for how to dye my hair blonde at home, and folks in Pennsylvania need to know why their plants are dying. And then there’s Maine—they want to know how to build a chicken coop!

Now for the top “How to” searches:

10. How to lose belly fat

9. How to make French toast

8. How to write a cover letter

7. How to make pancakes

6. How to make money

5. How to draw

4. How to lose weight

3. How to get pregnant

2. How to Kiss

1. How to tie a tie

Kids with face-paint and Halloween costumes isolated in white

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought you might enjoy knowing the most searched costumes from last year. The source for this information came from https://www.vogue.com.

From 1-10, they are: It, Witch, Spiderman, Dinosaur, Descendants, Clown, Fortnite, Chucky, 1980s, and Unicorn.

Ann: My husband says he’s waiting for the day he can google ‘where are my glasses and get an answer!

Susan: Amen to that!

For more about Ann/Emma and her books: https://www.anneverett.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Life, love and raising kids
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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

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