Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Squash Dressing #Recipe #Thanksgiving Side Dish

If you're looking for a tasty side dish, I recommend squash dressing. It's easy to make and one of the recipes that I had in my recipe box. My little blue and white house recipe box was recently featured in Country Living with other vintage recipe boxes! 

2 cups cooked yellow squash
2 cups crumbled cornbread
2 eggs
½ cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
Heat oven to 350

You can slice up three or four yellow squash and boil until tender. Also, you'll need to make cornbread. Then mix ingredients and pour them into a baking dish. Bake about 30 minutes.

Squash Dressing is one of many easy recipes found in Darlene's Redneck Recipes. It's a fun book featuring a commentary on Southern cooking by Darlene as well as over 200 home-style recipes.
You can buy it in print at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1688547436

    or Barnes & Noble.

It's also available for Kindle
It's a great Christmas happy/stocking stuffer gift idea for anyone who loves cooking! 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Blending Family Stories and Cooking and Fiction in Darlene's Redneck Recipes #Homestyle #Recipes

This week marks the end of a two-year project for me. I decided a while back that I would put together a recipe book for the younger girls in our Southern family that would reflect how their grandmothers and great-grandmothers cooked. I'm one of the last members of my family who grew up with these women and their food. That being said, I didn't want it to be just another cookbook.

I love writing humor and I knew I had the perfect character for it. Darlene Higginbottom. She made her first appearance in a 50's Southern comedy I wrote called "Laid to Rest." Actually, she was never supposed to be the main character but once she came on stage, I knew the story belonged to her and not Richie and Tommy Ray as I had planned. Darlene is an outspoken, ambitious, assertive country girl who believes you should dream big. Her dream is to become a movie star like her idol, Marilyn Monroe. I always thought of Darlene as looking like Marilyn, acting like Lucille Ball and talking like Madea. Darlene has always been one of my most popular characters. I've had more readers ask me about her than any other character I've written. 

Then I had to come up with a title. Darlene's Cookbook was meh. So I finally settled on Darlene's Redneck Recipes: Humor and Home Cooking. Darlene, who is from the '50s, talks about cast-iron skillets, cooking pies, picking poke sallet, etc. Plus she adds comments to the recipes every so often. Her comments and stories are all fictional, but they are based on things that I recall being told about or either doing growing up and as an adult. I also talked to my friends to see what they remembered about their mothers cooking and meals at the house. 

Regarding the recipes, my one stipulation was to use only recipes that required simple ingredients found in most kitchens. Nothing fancy or hard to make. Many of the recipes came from my recipe box and that's what I wanted for the book. Like looking through a recipe box with over 200 recipes. 

The cookbook contains my mother's chocolate pie recipe. It is the only recipe of hers that I have in her handwriting. She wrote "very good" at the end and circled it. That's true. That chocolate pie is awesome. Other recipes I had accumulated over the years were some from our patients at the medical clinic where I worked years ago. The patients used to make goodies for us at Christmas. Two of my favorites were Miss Jessie's sour cream pound cake, which was heavenly and Miss Amelia's pineapple filling that she put in little tart shells. They brought me their recipes, which I still have and included in the book. They have both been dead for many years, but their cooking lives on. Then there are the co-worker recipes like the one for a lemon pie that was written on a Post-It note.

In my quest for recipes and how women once cooked, I headed to a country beauty owned by an old friend of mine. On Fridays, she does all her "old ladies" hair for the weekend, especially church on Sunday. So I went out there on a Friday with notebook in hand and sat and talked with women who came in about cooking and what memories they had of their mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen. Plus I gathered more recipes. 

The women I grew up around cooked constantly. I had one aunt that practically lived in her kitchen. She was always in the kitchen cooking something. When we went to her house, we all sat at a big white and chrome table that was in the dining area of the kitchen. We never sat in the living room and I don't remember her ever being anywhere but in the kitchen puttering from the stove to the sink. 

She couldn't drive as was true of many of the farm-raised women who were my kin and ancestors. They lived on farms, milked cows, had chickens, hogs, and vegetable gardens.
They used what they had on hand when they started cooking a meal. They didn't have ready access to grocery stores and they didn't have the money for specialty items. So all their dishes were simple and homemade. I tried to stay true to that in this book

In Darlene's cookbook, I leave it up to the cook to add whatever additional spices, herbs or flavors they want to try. That's how new recipes are created, so be creative in the kitchen and enjoy some good food!

Here's an interior picture:

Darlene says her cookbook would make a terrific Christmas gift!!! So keep it in mind.

It is also available as an ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z1DJVMF
The books aren't linked yet on the same page. 

And thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to leave a review! 

Wishing you a wonderful week! 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Finished by the First of Fall. Goal Reached! #HappyFirstDayofFall

I can't believe fall is here already. Of course, we've haven't had any fall weather yet and I'm wondering if fall will come later and grow shorter with each passing year. I hope not. Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the colors and clothes. I'm just an autumn person.

I have been away from my blog for most of this year as I've spent a lot of time working on my house, doing some fixing up and cleaning that I had neglected for a few years. LOL!!! I finally finished this weekend. My goal was to be done by the fall and I made it! I also finished up the cookbook I've been working on all year. More about that in coming posts.

I have a lot of writing to get done this winter. Several projects waiting on me. I'm happy that I finally got my writing cave put back together after getting new flooring. I had moved everything around and it didn't work for me, so it was back to moving stuff again. I think I've got it like I want it. Here's a picture of it and trust me, it is rare that it is ever this uncluttered. I'm a writer who has to have a lot of stuff around me when I'm working.

One of my favorite new things is the quote I have on the wall. "Do one thing every day that makes you happy." I had a friend, who has since passed away, but she always told me to do one thing every day that you enjoy, even if it is just a good cup of coffee. I think it's important to do something, even a very small thing, that you enjoy. So this first day of fall I hope you find some joy.

Friday, August 2, 2019

How to Give Furniture a New Look with Homemade Chalk Paint. Cheap and Easy!

Since April, I have been working on my house. It all started when I decided to paint the den and have new carpet installed. Of course, one job led to another. While I was at it, I thought I should go ahead and have the floor covering in my writing room replaced. Plus there were numerous other things that needed to be done including touch-up painting, cleaning out cabinets, and the shed. I ended up having two yard sales. Now it is the first of August and I am finished with all the big tasks for now. I'm looking forward to autumn and some new ventures, but that's for another blog post.

I wanted to share with you my experience with making and using chalk paint, which I've found I love!!! I have painted several old pieces of furniture I had and a cart. When I decided to do this, I did some research and check out Lowe's. I was practically going over there every day when I was working on the house. Chalk paint is expensive and since I didn't know if it would work or not, I didn't want to invest that much in it. After doing research I decided to try to make my own paint. It worked great. Plus it costs next to nothing.

I ordered calcium carbonate from Amazon. I bought the LD Carlson brand. It costs about $6 for a 1 pound bag which I still have some left. The texture is like flour. Mixes really well with the paint and there's no grainy problem. NOTE: Be sure to keep your calcium sealed tightly so no moisture can get to it. 

I bought the small sample jars of paint from Lowe's $3.98 each. Note: you can save even more if you buy the mixing error paint samples if you find a color you like at $1.25. For the final finish, I used Johnson's Paste Wax, about $8. Still have half the container left. 

Prep furniture: Be sure it is clean. And I recommend sanding lightly. I used a sanding block and went over the tables, especially the tops. At any rate, chalk paint adheres well.

Regarding paint: flat latex is recommended. However, Lowe's samples are satin finish. So I used satin finish and was happy with the outcome.

Recipe for chalk paint
1 cup latex paint  
4 tablespoons calcium carbonate
2 tablespoons warm water.

Note: This is going to be enough paint to do a couple of tables or more. 
If you are doing a small project like a table, cut it in half or fourth.
I cut it in half. 

Pour your cup of paint into a container. You can use empty Cool Whip or cottage cheese containers which are great because they have lids.

In a separate container, add calcium. Then warm water and stir until dissolved.

Pour this into the container with regular paint and mix well. 

Apply a smooth coat and use a good brush for a smooth result.

Let dry and cure overnight. I found it's important to let paint cure overnight. A couple of times when the paint had dried, I started to apply a whitewash/paint coat and I had a problem with the bottom layer coming off. So I advise to put on a good coat and let it dry overnight. 

After the project is dry, you can do different techniques such as antiquing or whitewashing or distressing. I didn't do antiquing. You would need to get the stain for that at the store.
You need sandpaper for distressing. And you can make whitewash from any color paint, which is what I did.

To make whitewash you use 1 part paint and 2 parts water. For example: 1/3 cup paint and 2/3 cup water. Stir well. Have some soft old cloths for wiping it on and off. You can use a brush to paint it the furniture and then wipe it off with the cloth.

You can apply layers, lightly wipe on and off until you get the effect you want. You can use a couple of different colors of whitewash for a beautiful result. 

You may want to distress the piece. Using a block of coarse sandpaper, sand paint off a couple of places like on the trim or edges so the wood shows through. You can use a block of fine sandpaper to smooth those places.

Let all your paint dry overnight. 

Finish with wax. You may need to get a round brush, used for chalk paint finishing, to use to apply your wax. I used a friend's on my tables. Then I did one a couple of days ago and I applied the wax using a cloth because I didn't have the brush. After you have put the wax on the furniture, then you use a cloth and rub it in. The more you rub the more satiny the finish is. 

You can also use an acrylic clear coat to finish a project. That's what I used on my metal cart and it worked well. 

I am going to share some photos of my projects. The dark table and the round table were vintage tables that I bought at estate sales, probably 20 years ago. The square table I've had in the shed for many years. I bought it on clearance years ago and used it for a while as a printer stand. Then put it in storage.

The bookcase is old too and on the bookcase, I used a blue-green paint that was one of Lowe's mistake samples that I got for $1.25. Then I made a wash of deep blue paint to go over it. I used a color called piano brown on the square table. Then I made a wash of a little brown mixed with a color called Hopsack, a tan color. I put the wash on the table. Then I made another wash of white paint and put that on the table. I used white and hopsack to make the base paint for the round table and side table. Then I used a wash of hopsack over them. I distressed the side table edges. 

I sanded the metal cart, which was sprayed paint black and looked awful, and painted it with a violet color that was another mistake sample. The chalk paint held well to the metal and I finished it with the acrylic spray finish, applying several light coats.  

For all the pieces I did, I still have paint left. I used about a 1/2 cup of chalk paint per piece. Maybe a little more for the bookcase and cart. So I probably have less than $5 invested in painting and finishing of each piece. The cart is probably $10 since I used a half-can of the spray that cost $11. 

You can also use chalk paint on flower pots. I painted one with the hopsack color just to see and it stuck to it. I want to eventually do some picture frames. It's a great way to update colors. The picture below is a maple table I painted using blue chalk paint and dark blue wash. The flower pot was green. It's not a good photo as I had to crop it. 

That's it for my post on chalk paint. If you have some old tables stuck back in a shed like I did, it might be fun to give them a new look. You could even sell them. When I was having a yard sale, I was working on painting the first two tables outside and everyone wanted to know if they were for sale.

If you have any questions about chalk paint, leave them in the comments and I'll respond with what I know in relation to my experience.

Have a great weekend and I plan to blog more often now that I am finally caught up around the house. Of course, I have a lot of writing I need to do!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Practicing the Art of Decluttering and Painting Wallpaper

Happy May! The month of May always brings blossoms to a hardy rose bush in my yard. My mother grew rows of them. They are the kind of roses that you can break off a stem and stick it in the ground and it'll root. I don't know of anything that kills it either. You just have to dig it up. I enjoy the blooms this time of year and they have such a sweet scent. 

I haven't posted much at all online because for the past month I've been busy with my house. I painted the wallpaper in the den. I wasn't sure this would work and now I wish I had tried it much sooner than I did. The wallpaper had been up there for years and I knew it would be impossible to take it down since there was another layer beneath it. But the den carpet needed to be replaced and I had to decide what to do with the walls. I watched some YouTube videos and decide to try to paint the wallpaper.
I wiped down the walls with some mild cleanser and a soft kitchen dishtowel. 
Then I used Kilz Premium primer. The paper was a dark stripe so I put on several coats. I used 2 gallons. Then for paint, I used Sherwin-Williams Superpaint in White Organdy. It did a great job with coverage. I'm very happy with the outcome. 
Having new flooring put down is almost like moving since you have to move everything out of a room. I figured I might as well get rid of a lot of the stuff I've accumulated over the years. I've been reading the Japanese Art of Decluttering and I've reached a point in my life where it is time to let go of sentimental things from years past that has no value to anyone other than me. I'm trying to apply this to my house and I really dread the writing room. I am going to start on moving stuff out of here this weekend. Pray for me. 😃

My son came home for a couple of days and we had a great visit. I was really happy that he installed a new hard drive on one of my computers and I think that will be the computer I'll use for writing. Of course, switching computers is like moving, too.

I will have more news on Darlene's Cookbook soon! Hopefully this weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

From Now Novel: What are loglines? 6 tips to write strong summaries

Happy Hump Day!! Today I'm sharing a terrific blog post I found on Now Novel regarding loglines. Loglines are a  way to briefly pitch your book and you can use them on a social media site along with a picture of your cover or book meme. If you're wondering what a logline is and how to write one, I think this post will be a huge help. Here are the first few paragraphs. Click on the link at the end to go to the entire post.

"There are many technical writing terms to learn as you become a writer. A word you might come across from time to time is ‘logline’. What are loglines, why is this type of summary helpful, and how can you write better ones? Read these logline definitions, tips, and examples:

Defining loglines

A logline is ‘a synopsis of a script or screenplay’ (Collins Dictionary). Many use it to describe single-sentence book summaries, too. You could describe the hook-driven summaries of bestsellers Hawes lists here as loglines.

The creators of Logline App explain the term’s origins:

‘…first used in old Hollywood. The big studios would own hundreds of scripts, and the studio head would keep a log book that recorded concise summaries (or “loglines”) that described each script in the studio’s possession.’Term etymology via Logline

A logline is a useful type of story summary because it gives potential readers, publishers or TV/film producers:
The central conflict of the story
A broad synopsis of the story’s plot
An emotional hook to grab potential viewers’/readers’/producers’/publishers’ interest
Other key narrative details such as setting, key characters (protagonists and antagonists) and character goals

Example loglines
‘A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.’Logline for The Matrix via filmdaily.tv

‘A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.’Logline for the 1994 movie Speed via studiobinder.com

Why master logline writing?
Writing loglines is a useful exercise to master for not just screenwriters but novelists and other storytellers too because:
Loglines help you distill what matters in a story or individual story ‘episode’. This helps you keep the main focus of your story clear

Read More: What are loglines? 6 tips to write strong summaries

Monday, February 18, 2019

#MondayMotivation: Let Hope Inspire You

Hope is always in our hearts, waiting to latch onto a dream. Hope can get you up in the morning and push you forward. Yet, sometimes, it is hard to hang onto hope. I have had it slip away many times and I think those are the most empty times, when you don’t feel hopeful about your future.

I am lucky enough to have some good friends who are always supportive and encouraging. The main thing you have to do is get up and start something productive. I think goals inspire hope. Hope leads us to accomplishments. So if your hope is lagging, imagine yourself doing something and succeeding. Hope will latch onto that! 

Hope you have a great week!!!