4th of July

Susan A. Royal

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.

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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!

In this blog post, Ann and I are reflecting on things that make us grateful.

Susan: Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I don’t know about you, but COVID or not, the year has flown for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working hard to finish projects I kept putting off. Staying close to home has paid off in that respect.

Another thing I’ve noticed. I find myself paying a lot more attention to the small things that happen when the seasons change. The first hint of green that signals spring is coming, the blooms on the crabapple tree in my yard, the crisp fall air when the leaves begin to fall. I always notice it. But this year, I appreciate it like never before.

The same thing can be said for the kindness of people. We’re all having to deal with inconveniences. Shortages. Delays. And the list goes on. We can complain, or we can make the best of things. We can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can be grateful.

I’m grateful for my family. And those special friends I know I can count on. My health and my home. My life isn’t perfect, but hey, I’m not either. The good thing is, I wake up to a fresh new day every day. And I can make it any kind of day I want.

A great cold weather meal that will make the kitchen smell heavenly.

Hearty Navy-Bean Soup

3 cups (1 ½ lb. dried navy beans)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup diced ham or bacon

2 cups chicken brother

2 ½ cups water

Salt-pepper-parsley to taste

Soak beans in the remainder of the ingredients overnight. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until tender. 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Serve with Broccoli Bread


  • 10 oz. Pkg. frozen broccoli chopped & thawed
  • 2 sticks melted butter (1 cup)
  • 16oz. cottage cheese
  • 2 t salt
  • 4 large beaten eggs
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Corn Mix
  • 1/3 cup diced onion


  1. Mix well with a wooden spoon and pour into greased pan (9X13”).
  2. Bake at 400°, 30-45 minutes or until lightly brown.
  3. Cool slightly before cutting.

*can be put in freezer

Ann: One of my favorite quotes is below. The first time I read it, it made me stop and reflect on all the things I’m grateful for.

I agree with Susan. During this difficult time, we all need to pause…take a breath…and concentrate on what’s good in our lives. Even if it’s just having a good night’s sleep, or that first cup of coffee, or maybe it’s looking back through photo albums of our children and grandchildren.

Nothing remains the same…and someday soon, these challenging times will be behind us…because in the words of Mrs. Waylon Jennings… storms never last…. bad times all pass with the wind.

Susan’s cornbread recipe sounds delicious. I recently ‘doctored’ a cornbread mix and it turned out pretty dang good.

Use the cornbread mix of your choice and make according to package directions.

Add ½ to ¾ Cup of whole kernel corn (drained)

Also add a small can of chopped green chilis OR 1-2 chopped

fresh jalapeños. (remove the seeds unless you want the bread to have a kick) 

Bake according to directions.

 So yummy!


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


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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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.


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.

Bridey’s Stranger

Available soon on Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Bridey lives in a medieval world off the shore of Manx Island. The sea holds a special place in her heart. Ever since she was a babe in her father’s arms, watching the tide push the waves inland. She slips away from the cottage every chance she gets and makes her way down to the beach, spending hours along the shoreline, gathering treasures and exploring the caves.

One day Bridey finds a stranger on the beach. A young man nearly dead from exposure. She hides him in a cave nearby and nurses him back to health. She doesn’t know who he is, where he came from, or who’s after him, but she falls in love with him anyway. And her life is changed forever.

This novelette is a companion piece about characters who appear in the It’s About Time Series. Included are excerpts from the other books in the series, including a brand new book which will hopefully be in eBook and print before the end of the year.

My thanks to all of my readers who have patiently waited for my books to come out in print. This has been a long learning process for me. I’ve been in collaboration with my wonderful cover artist, Suzannah Safi and Sheryl Lee, the fantastic lady who does my formatting, and together we’ve worked hard to give you new and improved versions of all my books.

Stay tuned. There’s more to come!!!

Oh, That’s Subtle: The Little Things Holding Your Novel Back – by Janice Hardy…

This is good advice.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

On Fiction University:

Subtlety can mean the difference between a novel that works and one that falls flat. 

The smallest change have a big impact on your writing. One word change, one shift in perspective, and everything’s different. Hopefully such changes result in a better story, but when they don’t, spotting what’s wrong can be frustrating.

Maybe you’re struggling with a story right now, or submitting one that’s getting good feedback, but just not quite landing anywhere, or having beta readers tell you it’s good, but not great, and it’s lacking something they can’t put their finger on. You know you can fix it if you could just find it.

Take a closer look and see if there’s a subtle reason that’s holding your novel back.

Continue reading HERE

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