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.

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

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

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

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!

A Blast From The Past

Ann: While doing some spring cleaning, I came across a book I’d bought many years ago, The Verse by the Side of the Road, The Story of the Burma-Shave Signs, by Frank Rowsome, Jr.

Some of you will remember this clever advertising campaign, which lasted from 1925 until 1963. The rhyming jingles for a brushless shave cream were displayed on a series of small wooden signs spaced 100 feet apart along roadways across rural America.

The company, Burma Vita Inc., was operated by Clinton Odell and his son, Allan, who suggested using the roadside idea. For the first three years, Allan and his father wrote the jingles, but when their poetic muse ran out, they sponsored a nationwide contest, awarding $100 for each of the 25 best. Some of the annual contests received more than 50,000 entries!

Some were naughty and never made it past the first round of judging. Boy, wouldn’t you like to read those entries! By today’s standards, I’ll bet they weren’t that bad!

Here’s one of the most the popular:

He had the ring

He had the flat

But she felt his chin

And that was that.

Burma-Shave

Wanna take a stab at writing one? We’re not paying any money, but it might be interesting to see a modern take on the jingle. And we’ll share the one we like the best on our next blog!

Here’s Ann’s offering:

His cheeks were covered

In five o’clock stubble

Canoodling with him

Was too much trouble.

Burma Shave

Here’s Susan’s:

Short, balding, chubby

And missing teeth

But with cheeks like baby.

He couldn’t keep the girls away.

Burma Shave.

Susan: Talking about seeing these signs reminds me of road trips I’ve taken through the years—no fun when I was growing up. Three girls crammed together in the backseat of a mustang with black interior and no a/c. You either sat behind Daddy and got singed by flying ash (he smoked) or in the middle (with him yelling at you to duck your head because he couldn’t see) or behind Mama. He didn’t play the radio. And we drove for hours without a bathroom break. If I didn’t have a book, I read all the road signs. I knew exactly how far we were from the next Stuckey’s, Dairy Queen, or souvenir shop. (Not that we ever stopped) Things changed when I got married. My husband and I used to drive up in the hill country—nothing more relaxing than traveling down those back roads, listening to music, looking at the scenery.

Don’t forget to try your hand at writing a Burma Shave jingle. Leave it in the comments!

Winner of two eBooks from a previous post is Cindy Bright! BIG congrats, Cindy, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment on our blog.

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

BURN ONE, TAKE IT THROUGH THE GARDEN AND PIN A ROSE ON IT!

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 gals
Straight from the sticks
The only thing we won’t gab about
Is religion and politics!

Wonder what the heck we’re talking about? Well, May is National Hamburger Month. A staple at cookouts and greasy spoon cafes all across the nation, and the Diner lingo title to this blog is the way they used to be ordered.

“Burn one” refers to dropping the burger on the grill. “Taking it through the garden” means topping it with lettuce and tomato, and to finish it off, you pin a rose (onion), the most fragrant of flowers, on it!

Man, that diner slang just adds some fun to the order! Of course, in recent years the Fast Food King has been elevated to a ‘gourmet’ status. The origin is unclear, but burgers have been around for a long time. A recipe for a hamburger appears in a cookbook written in the 1700s, and in the 1800s, emigrants ate them on their way to America.

In 1896, the Chicago Daily Tribune mentioned a place called The Sandwich Car that offered a Hamburger steak sandwich ‘cooked while you waited on the gasoline range for a nickel.’

ANN: Hey, back in 1967, I bought hamburgers at McDonald’s in Austin, Texas for nineteen cents! Only a fourteen cents price increase from 1896!!

J. Wellington “Whimpy,” Popeye the Sailor Man’s friend, helped their popularity when he appeared in the cartoon as a hefty Lover of Hamburgers in 1930. His soft spoken and cowardly personality was in direct contrast to his willingness to do whatever it took to get one, or a billion, for free.

They come in all sizes, consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat; usually beef, pan-fried, grilled, smoked or flame broiled, served on a sliced bun with lettuce, tomato, red, white or grilled onions, pickles, bacon, cheese. Sliced avocadoes, peppers, mushrooms, along with condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, or relish.

SUSAN: The best burger I ever ate? October 3, 1969. On the way to Corpus Christi, my husband and I stopped at a little café. We’d only been married a few hours, and after being too busy and too nervous to eat all day, we were starving. Boy, did it taste good.

If burgers are your favorite fast food, then you’re in good company. Bruce Springsteen loves a good diner burger. Venus Williams prefers one from Mickey D’s, while Katy Perry fancies one from In-N-Out-Burger.

SUSAN: My favorite is a well-done pattie on a toasted bun, mustard on one side, and mayonnaise on the other, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomatoes. Sometimes thin-sliced avocadoes. Sometimes melted cheese.

ANN: Just so you know, to order that well-done burger in diner lingo, the waitress would shout, “One Hockey Puck.” My favorite thing about a burger is the sauce I put on it. I mix 3 parts mayo with 1-part mustard, add lots of ground black pepper, and slather it on both buns. I love to add grilled mushrooms and onions, along with lettuce and some good ol’ East Texas maters!

What’s your fave? We’d love to know the place you like best—or, if you have a special recipe. Let us know in the comments!

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