Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Friday, September 30, 2011

Recipe Friday--Amaretto Punch

This punch is so yummy. Also, you make it ahead, freeze it, and use what you need. Every time I've served it, I've needed it all. I once took it as my offering to a house of bereavement. It was much more popular that the baked hams and chocolate cakes.

The whole recipe only has two cups of Amaretto, so it is not very potent. I always put a decanter of vodka by the punch bowl so people can do what they have to do.

Amaretto Punch

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart sugar
  • 1 (46 ounce) can unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups Amaretto
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract

Make a simple syrup by combining sugar and boiling water. Cool and put in quart containers or plastic freezer bags Freeze. Take out as needed and let stand at room temperature until slushy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bubble, Bubble

Cheryl's blog Tuesday got  me to thinking about the size of my personal bubble.  I like a lot of space around me unless I know you pretty well and even then I don't want you behind me. 

Most people who I know like some space around them.  Oh sure, we all know those "close talkers" who invade your space as they converse with you but most of us understand that standing at least a few feet from someone is really the best way to communicate without making anyone nervous. 

Of course, the "polite" defination of personal space varies from culture to culture.  Generally speaking cultures who have very dense populations tend to expect less space while those cultures with more space to spread out have the expection of larger personal space..

As writer this personal proxmity is something that needs to be considered.  We have all heard that you must get your hero and heroine on the page together as soon as possible and keep them in proximity to each other but what does that look like? Sure I like my large personal bubble but how does that change if I am attracted to you?  How soon would one character feel comfortable "letting" another in his or her space?  What would that look like?  How would that affect your story?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finding the Positive

Last week, I wrote about changes. There are so many changes going on in my life. Many of them are introspective, a lot of them are physical.

Change helps us deal with the world around us. If we do not change, adjust, we will not survive. It's typically called evolution, but we all know what it is... change. We can fight it. We can deny it. But it will always come.

How we look at the world around us is the most important thing there is. A good attitude gets us through the hardest trials, the loneliest nights, the horrors we might face. A positive attitude helps us live long, healthy lives.

'Positive' thinking is key here.

How do we change our outlook from glass half-empty to glass half-full? By surrounding ourselves with positive things, positive people, positive media, etc...

I've been growing to love Twitter. I've made lots of friends, especially ones I've met through the New Voices 2011 contest. These wonderful new friends are spread across the world in Scotland, England, Mississippi and Maryland. We each have a common goal, finding readers for our stories. Twitter has allowed us to correspond, no matter what time of day it is. Twitter helped me reach out and set a deadline with a Twitter buddy for entering the New Voices 2011 contest.

Chatting via Twitter, I have learned, helps build better lives day by day. My outlook has certainly improved. I'm sure that's a byproduct of my time on Twitter and the rejuvenating affects of life after surgery.

There is nothing like getting a boost to your self-esteem when you are full of doubt. Friends uplift. Friends don't break down. And the changes that are being made on a daily basis on Facebook and Twitter keep society on a constantly changing learning curve. This immediate information, confirmation, affirmation, helps us with the social changes going on around us and helps us network through the problems going on in our daily lives. It can also help boost our ambitions as in the 1Hr1K drills that go on frequently on Twitter.

Let's face it. People 100 years ago didn't have access to the information we have now at a click of our fingertips. We are a global race. And via that global sphere, we can seek out and gain encouragement in the zaniest and far-out places.

Online media can absorb a lot of your time. But if you channel into the right resources, you will find it can also be a boon to your life.

Here's a few of the great things I channel into every day via Twitter.


With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it. - Aristotle

We only know of one duty, and that is to love. ~Albert Camus

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. ~Confucius


Give your thoughts a chance and let them create ideas and visions that deserve to live.

An optimistic attitude is half of success.

We can use the web or any online access to encourage and uplift. We can choose to change for the better by helping those around us achieve their goals. What goes around, comes around. Pour yourself a glass half-full and watch it begin to overflow. Participate in something today that will truly enrich your life.

I'm happy with the changes I'm making in my life. I'm writing in a new genre I never thought I'd write. I've entered a contest. I'm going to a great fall conference this weekend. There are many things to take delight in and I'm truly grateful for the positive things in my life. They may not seem like they are always there, but if I look for them, they materialize in the zaniest places.

The key is I look!

What are ways you like to gain confidence and encouragement via an ever-changing web media?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm SOOOOO Tired!

I am so tired. Tired to the bone of dealing with things (aren’t we all?). Sometimes I wish I could be a bright, cheerful person but it’s just not in my DNA. And other people will not allow me that luxury. Sometimes I wish I could look for the best in people and things, but alas, I am not an optimist. And, usually people or things do not disappoint me because they meet my pessimistic view by acting or being as I thought they would be. Geez, it’s hard being right all the time…

The reason I am in such a mood is because I am doing renovations on the house. That started this. I am so tired of sitting and waiting on workmen who have to eat breakfast at nine in the morning before they start their workday (thereby delaying mine). I am tired of my house being in a total mess. I am tired of trying to clean when it’s pointless. I am tired of hearing “Uh oh” and hurrying to see what else they have broken.

This tiredness has set me to thinking of other things of which I am tired. Here is a pseudo-Jean list of things that I am tired of dealing with:

People who won’t take responsibility for their actions and blame others.

New cell phones (that says it all – I hate learning electronic things).

Waiting in line at Wal-Mart when there are only two lines open but they have all those registers.

Standing in crowds shielding my face from other TALLER people’s elbows (those sharp pointed things hurt when they hit you in the eye).

Trying to explain something to a man (that too is self-explanatory).

Dodging people on the sidewalk who are talking on their cell phones and not watching where they are going.

Standing in line at the grocery store and the old lady behind you is bumping you with her cart (I really get the urge sometimes to shove back).

Standing next to someone who coughs and then explains he/she has been sick all weekend (thanks, now I am going to be sick ALL week).

Buying something new and it doesn’t work right out of the box (necessitating taking the dang thing back and doing this all over again).

Family who thinks you are at their constant beck and call (okay, so sometimes I can get them back).

Having idiots pull out in front of you in their cars when you are ten feet away (sometimes I want to hit the accelerator).

Politically correct people (self-explanatory).

People who only listen to their own opinions.

People who take delight in irritating me (I am easily irritated).

People with no manners.

People who think they are entitled (only God knows where they got that idea).

I could probably go on but I want to hear what you are tired of. Add to my list and tell me what’s been irritating you lately.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In The Box

Over the weekend, The Guy and I washed the porch and porch furniture. It was imperative to do it early Saturday morning because we were having people over for the 2:30 kickoff and I wanted to go get some pumpkins before then.

So, I did what made sense to me. When I got up, I dressed in the around-the-house pants I'd worn the day before and put a bra on under the Jimmy Buffet t-shirt I'd slept in. I would shower and dress after the porch washing.

Not The Guy. He came down for breakfast showered and dressed in his game day shirt.

"You do remember we are washing the porch, don't you?" I asked.

"Yep," he said. "So?"

So, indeed. I shouldn't have been surprised. He can't get out of the box. It was morning so, he had showered. It was game day and somewhat cool, so he had donned his clean Crimson Tide long sleeved t-shirt. (If it had been hot, he would have worn his short sleeved shirt; later he'll put an Alabama sweat over the t-shirt.) Why, you ask. Because that's what he does. People who can't get out of the box consider it more important to do what they always do than to do what makes sense. I don't get it.

He's got a whole set of stuff in the box: half a teaspoon of sugar on the cheerios, a cup of coffee about midday Saturday, and birthday presents are never opened early. I could go on, but you get.

I might add, he did not get wet or dirty during the porch washing. I did.

How about you? How do you feel about life in the box? In or out?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe Friday--Hot Chessy Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Once upon a time Oldest Friend and I were active members of the Junior League of Morgan County. (We are now sustaining members and sit on the Community Advisory Board. Junior League is like Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.)

Anyway, it was decreed that a cookbook would be made. We lay on the floor of my living room painting the baseboards and discussed whether or not we really wanted to take on cookbook making. Maybe it was the paint fumes. I don't know. But what could we do? Mrs. Classy was president, and she needed us. Oldest Friend ended up chair of the whole shebang and I ended up recipe chair. It was a long ride, but I have to say I learned more organizational and managerial skills from that experience than from any other in my life. I learned that I was glad to have made a cookbook and I'll never make another one.

I also learned about this black-eyed pea dip. It was Oldest Friend's recipe and it's now a standard in our community. You can't go to a party without seeing it. I'm going to give the recipe like God and Oldest Friend intended but I have to add this little tidbit, else those who know me well will say, "She's lying. She would not eat that." And I wouldn't except for one little substitution that I make. I cannot abide sour cream so I leave it out and double the mayo. It works out fine. But if you like sour cream--and apart from me, who doesn't?--make it by the recipe.

Hot Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 151/2 ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Pkg. Dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese

  1. Sauté onion in butter.
  2. Mix all ingredients
  3. Bake 20 minutes in 350 degree oven.
  • Serve with Corn Chips.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Give A Little

I was thinking yesterday about how many people enrich my life.  Of course, this led to wondering if I do anything that makes life better for others.  The obvious answer here is that, as an elementary school teacher, I enrich the lives of some children.  I even had a child tell me a few weeks ago that I was a "Precious Light from Heaven." 
This was very sweet but also sort of  made me wonder about the teachers in her previous experience because I run a pretty tough classroom this time of year.  But hey, I will take the love where I find it. 

I also thought about the professional organizations that I am in with other writers.  I have had the wonderful opportunity this past year to give back to the Romance Writers of America by serving on a national committee and helping shape the future leaders of our organization.  I have gotten to work along side of some great folks who have taught me a lot. I have been an officer in my local writers' group, Heart of Dixie, and have been able to be a part of many fun tasks such as planning programs and re-working the chapter by-laws and the policies and procedures manual.  I think we have worked to help our chapter grow and adapt to whatever changes the future holds. 

I thought about the volunteer work that I do at my church and in my community.  I pitch in to help with youth events, children's events, and tutor in the community.

I think this sort of thing makes our world a better place. But was I really helping others or  just selfishly trying to make sure that my world is as nice as I can make it?  And that is when I realized that at each  place where that I give a little of myself that there are always many other people whose gift is enriching my life!

I think that giving back to our world is an important element of being happy and content.  Do you agree?  If so, how do you give back to the people or groups in your life?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life is Constantly Changing

Wow! Lots of stuff has been happening in my life lately. My neck surgery is healing nicely. I'll have that 3 week appointment next week and hope to get the a-okay for getting out and about. I've had some bad days but more recently, the good have outweighed the bad. My neck is regaining range of motion and the scar in the front of my neck is beginning to fade. I'm told you'll never know it is there at some point and I'm thankful for that helpful tip.

Our beloved Mr. Billington hasn't been as lucky. We had to put him down last Friday. He died in my arms, cuddling with me until the very end. We brought him home and buried him near our beloved labs, Bonnie Lass and Raven, and beside our other cat, Ashes, in the backyard. Miss Daae has been forelorn without her buddy, who really can portray the Phantom now. Mom's Siamese, KaaMakelani, feels more at ease slumbering about the downstairs. We, except for Kaa, will always feel B's presence and will miss him so very much.

The first time I tried to drive my car this week, it wouldn't start. Two weeks of sitting idle? Nope, the fuel pump had kicked the bucket. We were looking at a horrendous bill until we found out our previous fuel pump was still under warranty. Hallelujah! Good things happen when you least expect them and oftentimes need them the most. Learned something else too. I'm not ready to go back to work yet. I was worn out after getting dressed and ready for work only to go out and have to jump off the car, which didn't work, to my dismay. So I've decided that I'll wait until next week to give work another try. (The doctor did say 3 weeks, instead of 2. Gotta learn to stop rushing things!)

I've been using this time for introspection and finishing up my contest entry for the Mills & Boon New Voices 2011 Contest. And, I successfully entered my submission last night. This has been a new adventure for me, that far off horizon that eluded me for so long, is finally at my door. I'm talking about writing, not historicals, but a contemporary, something I thought could never be done. Guess what? Hey Mikey, she likes it! She likes it a lot! ;)

So if you have a mind to check it out, my entry is Lost Treasure, Captive Princess and you can find it here: Mills & Boon New Voices 2011. I'd love for you to stop by and leave a comment.

This contest comes once a year and this year includes all genres of romance at Mills & Boon. One of our dearest friends, Lynn Raye Harris, won the Mills & Boon Presents Contest a few years ago and she's written 11 fabulous books and counting so far. So this proves to be a wonderful experience. If I don't final, I hope to take away a new perspective on writing in the contemporary genre that will encourage and sustain me further down the road.

Life is constantly changing and we're to learn and adapt. I'm healing, Mr. Billington isn't suffering anymore, my car has been rejuvenated with a new fuel tank and a newer warranty, and I'm on an adventure, sailing uncharted waters. But I'll maneuver this contest with a compass as my guide and learn as much as I can. (Pirate!)

Like the willow, bend with the wind.

When is the last time you experienced a drastic change or took a fearless leap?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why is there Hair Everywhere?

Aside from still suffering the effects of the flu, I feel like I am trying to cough up a furball. Those of you with cats can understand. I currently have four cats, a Sheltie (these dogs have an undercoat and a top coat), a dastardly Doberman (who’s hair sticks like Velcro) and a mutt who sheds like the Sheltie. I do groom all the animals but that just doesn’t seem to do the trick. I am constantly chasing fur-covered dust bunnies around the house. I love my animals but I have killed four vacuum cleaners in the last two years. And, the vacuum cleaners don’t seem to work on the furniture, even with that attachment thingey which spins to remove the hair. Stubborn hair! It sticks to the cloth and makes my life miserable. I have tried those roller things that are supposed to remove pet hair but they don’t get it all and they get expensive around here.

Recently, I ran across an article about removing pet hair from furniture which I immediately laughed at then I looked at it more closely. The first suggestion was the use of a statically-charged balloon. That worked like a charm. The Dobie thought it was a big ball and he got the surprise of his life when it exploded in his mouth. Then he swallowed it, necessitating a large dose of Peroxide to get it back up. Bigger mess than I had before. I didn’t even try the tennis ball the article suggested because all the dogs think that tennis balls are the best toys since my Clarks. Then the article suggested Velcro curlers. Really? How many of those would I need to use and how do you get the hair out of them? Didn’t make a lot of sense to me; besides, I needed them for my hair, can’t sacrifice volume. The next one was using fabric softener sheets. All that did was leave deposits of tiny pieces of paper and made a definite oily-looking sheen on the fabric. Thanks for that, by the way (I also smelled fabric softener for days which is okay at first but after a while you kind of get queasy). Packing tape was next (during my days as a prosecutor I would use tape on my suit in a pinch before court so this made sense). However, the tape just didn’t last long enough to do the job and it starting sticking to the cloth. Great, more spots. The final suggestion was wearing a pair of rubber gloves, slightly damp, and running your hand over the furniture. Amazingly this worked! The only problem was having to constantly run and clean the gloves. Plus you can’t get them too wet or you run the risk of releasing the fabric softener vapors.

There was one final suggestion – vacuuming your pet. That was to prevent the fur from even reaching the furniture. Yeah, right. I would like for someone to volunteer holding my twenty pound Abyssynian mix for me to vacuum. I don’t think the blood banks would have enough for the necessary transfusions. And the Dobie? He already thinks the vacuum cleaner is an intruder that clearly must be destroyed at all costs. He’s bitten the wheels off of more than one canister vacuum. Triumphantly he parades around the house with the wheel, showing everyone how he has conquered the noisy sucker thing. I love my animals but this hair ball seems to be getting worse. Maybe I can borrow the Catlax…

Do you have pets? How do you deal with the hair and dustbunnies? Any suggestions, aside from no pets, about keeping up with the mess?

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Weekend In Pictures

Well, it's really only part of my weekend in pictures. I got distracted on Sunday and forgot to take any pictures so, it's really only my Friday night and Saturday in pictures. I took all of these pictures myself. You will note that I do not have a future in photography.

Friday night I went to the high school game to watch Precious Angel play. That's him. Number 54. ( I love him.) Only he isn't so much playing at this particular moment as walking across the field for the coin toss. I do not remember who won the coin toss, but I do know who won the game--us. Spectacularly. Winning is great. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

In preparation for the dessert competition at The Guy's work picnic (called Spud Fest) I made three desserts. This is my apple pie. Note the apple shaped pan. Note the little apple shaped bits of pastry. That is cheese pastry. It won for Best Presentation.

This is my caramel cake. That's real cooked caramel. I burned myself. Caramel will do that to you, but it was worth it. It won the Best Taste category. Winning is great. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

This is my pumpkin cheesecake. Note that I tried to make an artistic picture by placing it in front of my pewter pumpkin platter. Plus, the platter happened to be on the counter. It came in second in the Taster's Choice category. You don't win second. You lose first.

This is my refrigerator and part of my freezer. You will not find that many people who love their refrigerator like I do. So I took a picture of it. Plus, I was in my kitchen taking pictures.

After all that baking and watching the Auburn/Clemson game, The Guy and I went to Starbucks. (He participated in the game watching but not the baking.) That's him. In his game day shirt. That's his coffee. That's part of my purse. Do you see my houndstooth makeup bag? I bet you envy my life right about now.

This is Spud Fest. These are the potato guns built by various engineers. These guns are pointed toward a cow pasture. The goal is to shoot the potato as far as possible, not hit a cow. Nonetheless, last year, a cow was hit. It wasn't hurt but it was mad.

These are potato guns being shot. Once that happened, we ate barbecue. There were door prizes. We did not win. Then came the dessert contest. Did I mention that I won two of four categories? There was a category for Best Use of Potato. I did not use any potatoes. Nor, did I lie and say I did, though someone there encouraged me to say my pumpkin cheesecake was made with sweet potatoes. She was kidding.

After Spud Fest. we went to Cutest Girl in the World's media room to watch Alabama play. There she is. In her houndstooth hat. I wish I had made a picture of her houndstooth valances but I was still giddy from the dessert contest.

This is Oldest Friend's shoes. I want them.

This is Mr. Cutest Girl in the World and The Guy. They are happy. They've got cup
holders and their team is slaughtering North Texas. Those things are important to a man--at least the men I know. Winning is great. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recipe Friday--Orange Cheese Dip

Good pal Lynn Raye Harris posted a yummy recipe for Crawfish Dip on her blog this week that made me remember this dip. (You should take a look at Lynn's recipe at http://www.lynnrayeharris.com/2011/09/14/wednesday-recipe/. )

I've never been a fan of that cheese dip that entails melting Velveeta with Rotel tomatoes so this is what I served in the days before we knew Mexican cheese dip was called Queso Blanco and was supposed to be white. So it's kind of retro. Stephanie calls it "that orange cheese dip." Ever since my town has been blessed with some truly wonderful Mexican restaurants run by first generation Mexicans, my crowd has gotten a little snooty about this cuisine, including cheese dip. So I tried to make this recipe once using Chihuahua cheese. It was one big old watery mess. I understand Velveeta makes a white cheese now, but I am not going there. I'm just going to embrace the orange—at least in my dip. My team remains crimson.

But snobs or not, my friends will eat this. I've seen them. It was good back when Taco Bell was all we had and it's good now. It makes good game day food because, like Lynn's dip, you can leave it in the Crock-Pot with a basket of chips beside it and forget it.

Orange Cheese Dip

  • 4 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you want it.
  • ½ stick of butter
  • 2 Cups of milk
  • 8 oz. Velveeta, cubed

Mix together dry ingredients until there are no little lumps. Melt butter. Add dry mixture and cook for about a minute. Gradually whisk in milk until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and add cheese. Once cheese is melted, transfer to Crock-Pot on low setting. Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

Doubles nicely.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Morning, Noon, or Night

Yesterday as I was driving to my mama and daddy's to spend the night before some training in Florence, I noticed how beautiful my drive was.  It was one of those clear fall days when it seemed that I could see for miles.  In fact, on some of the ridges  I could see for miles.   The air was crisp and the sun was giving me a fantastic show as it set behind the hills to my west.

I love the time of day when day becomes night. Whether you call it twilight, dusk, sunset, eventide, sundown,  or my favorite, gloaming, to me it is a magical time of day.  I think part of this stems from my childhood.  I grew up waaaaaay out in the county and this was the time of day when my family slowed down and spent time together.  After supper my mama and daddy would often sit outside, even in bad weather, on the back porch swing or in the front porch rockers and talk about the day.  I didn't understand all those years ago what a precious gift it was to see my parents just sitting and enjoying each others company as they caught up on the events of their days.

I also think that another HUGE element of my love for the gloaming is that it is the part of the day where I truly begin to feel alive!  Good things and good times were just around the corner. I have always been a night owl.  Even as a small child, my parents could put me to bed at a childlike bedtime but I would lay there wide awake for hours.  My parents rule was that I had to go to bed at bed time and couldn't do anything like read or write.  I had to just lay there and stare at the darkness.  As recently as just a few years ago I still was up until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. most nights.  Heck, I even had some friends who were also night owls that I hardly ever talked to before 11:00 p.m. The only time I saw a sunrise was if I hadn't been to bed yet from the night of fun! Unfortunately, events in my life have slowly but surely turned me into a creature of the day. 
Stunning Sunset
Years of being a student didn't  do it; fifteen more years of working in an office didn't accomplish it. But 5 years of teaching bright eyed bushy tailed children at 8:00 a.m. means that I must be ready to face the day at 8:00 a.m regardless of my personal feelings about mornings.  As you can probably tell from this I am not thrilled about the change.  Oh, I understand that it is necessary, but I don't really like it.

What is your favorite part of the day?  Has that changed through the years or have you always felt that way?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Miracles Happen

These past few weeks have been a journey of pain, discovery, and healing. I'm happy to be back blogging at Okay, Listen Here for the first time since I had neck surgery, 12 days ago.

First, I'd like to thank everyone who offered prayer for my surgery and prayer for my recovery. Y'all have been a fantastic and an everlasting boon to my soul. I owe the speed with which I'm recovering to the support given me during this time.

Many who know me, know that I've been dealing with headache pain for nearly two years. Once, treatment for my headaches sent me into the hospital with a rare allergic reaction to a particular medicine, to which I had to have an antidote pumped in my IV for three days to get my body back on track. Every avenue was chased to bring me ease.

I've been scanned from here to there. There was no physical reason doctors could find for my headaches. (I was even told they were due to anxiety.) My headaches were on a 24/7 basis. Various remedies were tried. Meanwhile, I was going to the chiropractor to get adjustments on my neck, which had been bothering me too. During a visit three months ago, my chiropractor said he was going to have to send me to a Neurosurgeon. Now, I balked about this. I did not want surgery, even went through 2 1/2 months with the chiropractor to prevent it. But I'm here to tell you today, surgery has changed my life.

Though I'm still recovering, all pain in my left arm, neck, head, left eye is gone!!!! Praise God! One bad disc replaced took care of all that. Two bone spurs removed took the pressure off a very important nerve. I can see better out of my left eye. I feel better and more alert and just want to shout out my happiness, though it wouldn't do to stress my vocal chords, which are still adjusting to surgery. (Pirate!)

Suffice it to say, I'll have to keep my joy on the down low. But I'm one happy camper these days. The moral of this blog post is: don't be afraid to take that step, no matter how dangerous, to get your health back. Neck surgery scared me senseless. But it was done before I knew it and I felt immediate relief.

Stories are out there that I saw a troll in recovery. Yes, this particular troll was staring at me and I continued to tell it to "stop." Also, waffles is a random word sometimes spoken after surgery. Just saying...

I'd like to take a moment today to thank every doctor out there. It is truly a wonder what doctors can do these days.

And again, I'd like to throw a shout out to all my peeps and those I barely know who prayed for me during this time. I heart all of you!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emotional Affairs: Cyber-cheating?

Okay so it seems like I am thinking about a new career – psychologist. I love to watch people and try to understand their motivations. I guess lawyers do that because to understand the enemy means you have a chance to win. I think a lot of writers do the same thing. We have to understand our characters in order to give them depth and have our readers empathize with them. There is so much literature out there about psychological problems that it is mind-boggling (no pun intended).

One thing has caught my eye, in the wake of Tiger Woods (yes, he did text), Leann Rimes and Sandra Bullock – the emotional affair. Unlike the regular, run-of-the-mill physical affairs, it seems these types of emotional affairs are doing a heck of a lot more damage to the state of marriage. Emotional affairs are defined as an affair without sex. Okay, so you asked, isn’t that what an affair is? SEX? Well, no, it seems these affairs involve emotional investment which, according to the experts, is much more devastating for the betrayed spouse. The biggest problem seems to be that the betrayer does not realize he/she is involved with another female/male outside the marriage in an inappropriate manner until it is too late. They have become entangled in a mesh of deceit and subterfuge while thinking it was just innocent talking, texting, Facebooking or emailing.

I felt like writing about this because I think we should all sit up and take notice of what is going on around us. The main conduit of these affairs seems to be electronics - E-mail, texting, Facebook, cell phones and trac phones. It is too easy in this day of electronics to send off a text or an e-mail and thus it starts. Most of the experts say that the people involved in these affairs are looking for someone to talk to about their problems, maybe at work or maybe at home, through the internet or cell phones. They feel like they can’t talk to their spouses. Home life has become a place where everyone is hurrying to take the kids to some practice, meals are on the run, increased work-loads make every thing harder and no one talks. BUT there is this person who does listen, who does talk (albeit on the internet or the cell phone) and does seem to care about the disenfranchised spouse – the other woman/man. The Affair has begun in earnest. It’s been described as like passing notes in high school – puppy love. The affair partners move around in a fog with no responsibilities except perpetuating this affair. No real life problems to weigh them down. At some point, one will either get caught or find his/her way out of the fog, realizing that their real life is with their spouse and their family. But the damage is done – trust is destroyed, betrayal has occurred and vows have been broken. The strange thing about this is the betrayer says love wasn’t involved (they actually didn't really care about the other person). The affair was all about the excitement and flattery.

Can we prevent this from happening to us? Well yes, there is something that we can all do – TALK to your spouses. Set aside a time during the day when you really talk. Also, the experts on this new affair say that total transparency is necessary. That means that you should have a right to look at your spouses e-mails, phone, text and cell phone usages (on the bill). I know this sounds like violating trust but it really isn't according to the experts because you have a right to know who your spouse is talking to or texting. Most betrayed spouses say that they wouldn’t have violated their spouses’ privacy before the affair but wished they had because they could have prevented the affair by explaining such contact was inappropriate. On the other hand, the betraying spouses say that if they had known this was cheating, they would have immediately stopped before it got too involved (if you look at your spouse's electronic data you can easily head off an affair). It’s good to be vigilant in this day and age because there are a lot of crazies out there waiting to destroy your marriage. It doesn’t violate trust because all you’re asking for is honesty.

So, I’d like to know some things. Would you check your spouse’s cell phone, including the calls and the texts? What about his/her emails? Do you have a set time to sit down and talk to your spouse? I mean REALLY talk. Do you think this new trend of carrying on with another person via the internet/cell phone/ texts is cheating? Let us hear from you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Do The Clothes Make the Man?

I have stood it as long as I can. I've got to talk about football uniforms. We seem to be having an anti fashion show every week these days--to the point that ESPN has to talk about it and people feel the need to blog about. Oh, wait. That would be me.

Please know that my opinion of these uniforms has nothing to do with my feelings about the team or their ability to play ball. In fact, most of these teams do not and will never affect my life at all or that of my chosen team.

These are the uniforms worn by Notre Dame and Michigan this past weekend. I have nothing to say about the Notre Dame uniform. That's a good thing. What I need out of a uniform is for it not to distract me from the game. The Notre Dame uniform fills that criteria. But that Michigan uniform--my, my my. While watching, all I could think about was Mighty Mouse.

This is the uniform worn by Maryland two weeks ago. I don't know who they played. I don't know who won. I don't know who the mascot is. I did not see the game. I don't even know if it was on my TV. But the uniform made news even outside the sports world, so I felt I should include them. It puts me in the mind of car racing.

This the the uniform worn by the Georgia Bulldogs in the Boise State game. I watched every second of the game and the only thing I noticed about the uniforms were the lack of names on the jersey. Apparently, I was alone. There was much talk of these uniforms, but they didn't distract me so I was okay with them.

I only saw the last part of the LSU-Oregon game two weeks ago, but suffice it to say I was distracted. Not by LSU's uniform. They looked the same as they always do. But believe me, that Oregon uniform looked even worse in HD on a 46 inch screen television. A million times worse. I thought they looked like little creatures from a 1970's video game thats graphic claim to fame was neon. But I've heard, if you don't like Oregon's uniform, wait a few minutes.

What do you think?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Game Day Recipe Friday--Blackyed Pea Cornbread

You won't believe how good this is. You can make it in muffins pans or a 9 X 13 pan and cut it into squares. I've done it both ways, but, frankly, I think that muffin business is a lot of nonsense for nothing. Especially on game day. I haven't got time for that.

Roll Tide. Or whatever it is you need to say to get through the day.

Black-Eyed Pea Cornbread

  • 1 pound of sausage
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15.5-ounce can of Black-Eyed Peas, undrained
  • 1 Cup of self-rising cornmeal
  • ½ Cup self-rising flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 Cup of buttermilk
  • ½ Cup of oil
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¾ Cup cream-style corn
  • 1 can of chopped green chilies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown sausage and onion together until sausage is no longer pink and onion is soft. Drain grease.

Mix remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add sausage and onion.

Pour into a greased 13X9 pan or drop into paper lined muffin cups.

Bake 45 minutes for cornbread or 25-30 minutes for muffins.

Let sit 15 minutes before cutting.

Serve with salsa or picante sauce if desired.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Boots, New Attitude

The Best Boots EVER!
I have new boots that I bought Monday and wore tot school today.  While my love of new footwear is pretty well known, my love for these boots go to an entirely new level.  I have been happy and smiling all day long because my feet make me so happy! 

I know that no one who knows me even just a little bit would have ever guessed that I would fall so in love with a cowboy boot.  In fact, I would have never guessed it myself.  I sort of had to be talked into buying them by a friend.  How sad it would have been if I had missed out on all of the joy that my new footwear has brought me. In fact, my new boots seem to have induced a new sassy attitude as well.

Can you think of a time when one random act effected your attitude about life?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Pleasure of Their Company

Kathy is recuperating beautifully and says hello to everyone. She'll be back with us soon.

Meanwhile . . .
Let's play a game. I would call it a creative exercise but game is more fun. Besides, I'll give a prize for the answer I like best. Creative exercises don't get prizes. They get grades or self-satisfaction. I say let's do game and tangible.

Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to tell you about a couple of women I saw shopping together in the grocery store. Then, I'm going to ask you a question about them. Not anything like, "What color were her polyester shorts?" but a speculative question.

Here goes:

They had that worn-out look about them that came from factory work, softball, late beer nights, and divorces. One looked like she'd had her hair cut by the only idle stylist in a walk-in salon the day before Easter. The other should have availed herself of that because she was too old to have all that hair hanging down her back. Their dark rusty tans didn't do anything to improve their looks, but they didn't know that. They were excited from the tops of their Lady Clairol heads down to their rubber flip flops. Their shopping buggy was full of charcoal, sirloin steaks, potatoes, store brand mayonnaise, and Cool Whip. Clearly, they were going to have a party.

Here's the question: Who were their guests going to be?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's in a Name?

What’s in a name? I have often pondered how people come up with some of the names of businesses. Do they sit and actually think about it or do they simply write down the first thing that comes to their mind? Or does it have to do with registering their business with the Secretary of State and the name they actually wanted was already taken so they had to come up with something else fast?

After visiting the Plains this weekend we were driving back home through the remainder of a tropical storm. I am a nervous passenger when there are fifty mile per hour wind gusts so I sought some way to calm my nerves. The name of a business caught my eye and thus this blog was born. I began writing down the names of some businesses and I thought I would share them with you.

The first one was a fish restaurant on Lake Martin by the name of “Fish Tales.” Now, think about it: is this a place to go discuss the one that got away? To me it conjures images of dirty, fishy fishermen sitting around, swilling beer and telling tales. Not exactly a place where I would want to go with my family. Just a thought. Though the name is cute, maybe it’s not conveying the right image. Then we have “Catfish Cabin.” I have a mental picture of a family of catfish living somewhere in a cabin by the lake. I shudder to think about knocking on the door and being greeted by a two hundred pound catfish with long whiskers. That made me remember a place I saw in South Carolina named “Bronco’s Barbeque.” There was this big image of a horse on the top of the building. Of course you wonder: are these people making French barbeque out of horse? Secret's in the sauce...

Beauty Shops – Yes, here in the South we still call them that. Not salons – BEAUTY SHOPS. I passed one name “Curl Harbor.” Very cute name until you start equating that with Pearl Harbor which was an excruciating defeat for the United States. Does that mean that any hair cut you get there is going to be a disaster? Not exactly what you want to convey in a name. Then there was “Hairspray Heaven.” Really? I mean that brings to mind my grandmother, tight perms, and lacquer. And, ta da, there was a salon – “Splash Salon.” Are you going to make a big splash with your new hairdo or is someone going to splash something on you while you are there? Just some confusion on my part.

We passed a junkyard outside of Oneonta which had a body shop named “”Sudden Impact.” It’s kind of like naming a hospital “Cuts r’ Us.” Are you really hoping for someone to have a “sudden impact?”

The “Mater Shop” was a roadside market selling, you guessed it tomatoes, along with other vegetables. Another one was the “Picnic Basket.” I just thought that was odd.

There was an antique store named “Antiques and Uniques.” Now, that was very catchy but then I started wondering, what’s a unique? I don’t think that is a noun. Another store, specializing in patio furniture was named “The Swing Thing.” Without being too specific, that conjured other images in my mind, risque’ ones at that.

The best one was Jordan-Hare Stadium. I love the name, wouldn't change a thing about it because it epitomizes all the wonderful things I love about that special place. And, you see the nicest people there!


So, are there any unusually named places that you know? Share the names with us here under the Tulip Tree.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are You Ready To Tailgate? It's Football Season!

In honor of the Opening of the College Football Season, I give you my famous Tailgate Bread. This is a wonderful thing to make and take with you to a game. It can be made ahead and reheated. And, when wrapped up as detailed below, will stay warm until cut into slices.

I like to change things up. I add ham, turkey, salame, different cheeses, whatever you decide to mix into the filling, you can make it work. I've done this in a TexMex mode, with salsa and cheeses too. I've even done an Italian version. Given a little imagination, you can really take this recipe a long way! Enjoy!

Tailgate Bread

1 loaf Frozen Bread Dough (or French Bread Dough made in Bread machine)
1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
6 slices cooked bacon
1/2 lb. thinly sliced turkey breast
1 beaten egg

Spray cookie sheet with Pam, place dough (frozen) in center, brush with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and mold to dough. Let rise to double in size.

(Or make French Bread dough in bread machine, using the dough setting. After dough has risen, pick back up on recipe.)

Spread risen dough over cookie sheet, up to 2-3" from edge of pan. Make 10 slices along each side of rectangle about 2" long. Be sure to leave center whole. Place turkey down center, add cheese, and bacon. Overlap dough strips one after another over stuffing, securing ends carefully underneath. Once sealed, pinch holes closed. (Will resemble long Subway sandwich.) Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (opt.).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with mustard. Can make ahead and reheat for 30 minutes. Wrap in foil, newspaper, and a towel to stay warm. Cut into slices and enjoy!

(I'll be out of pocket for a few weeks as I'm having surgery, but Jean, Stephanie and Cheryl will be sure to keep you entertained. I'll be watching football as I recover and ducking under the Tulip Tree when I can. Blessings!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Do you ever wish you could go back to school just to have the pure joy of recess again?  My new classroom is right beside the playground and I can hear children as they are playing on the swings and slides or just running around in general having fun. This is especially evident late in the school day after they have had a long day of hard work in their classrooms.

I have never been the most outdoorsy person, even in the best of circumstances but I can sure remember the long ago joy of recess.  There wasn't a teacher to look over my shoulder and boss me around!  I could be the boss of the other kids, and often was.  I could choose to swing or slide or even just hang out in the concrete culverts that we called the "Tunnels of Love" because they were painted red.  Ahhhh, those were the days!

Now, as an adult, I don't ever seem to have a recess.  Oh, I sometimes have a day where I don't have as much to do but I don't really seem to ever get that pure joy like I did as a child where I feel as if I can just do what ever I want for a few minutes.  Maybe I should try to join the kids on the swings.

What do you do to recapture your joy or when you need a recess from life?