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.

FUN, FUN HOLIDAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 20, 1969

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

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

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

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

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

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

That’s Grandma on the left

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

me (left) my sister Kim (right)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s About Time Series

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

https://amzn.to/notlongago

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

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

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

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

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

 Coming Soon!

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

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

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

Coming Soon!

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

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

4th of July

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

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