Cooking for Generations by Pepper Phillips

The youngest son decided to BBQ last Sunday. At our house.

That meant that I had to fix the side dishes.

Which I don’t mind. I know I’m eating well if I do it. We invited the other kids and their families and I whipped up a shopping list, bought the food, forgot something, rushed back to the store to get the missing ingredient and started to prepare the food the night before.

Some dishes need to be made ahead. The green jello salad is one. That recipe comes from my mother. That one and her potato salad recipe are the only ones I’ve used throughout the years. Which made me think…I know. Dangerous area there.

How many of us cook the same way our mothers did, and their mothers before them? How far back does the recipe go?

My Granny had a ‘secret’ ingredient for pumpkin pie. I was a kid when she told me the ‘secret’…I was warned that it was a ‘family secret’. Cool. How awesome! I couldn’t tell anyone except my children.

So, imagine my surprise decades later when I hear her telling everyone she knows the ‘family secret’ recipe.

It makes me smile and whenever I make pumpkin pie, I add a half teaspoon of black pepper to remember my Granny by.

Now, I did a google search for an image of green jello salad, and none looked like mine does.

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This is the tiny piece that was left in the plastic container. It will be gone in a few minutes, because it’s good and I’m hungry.

Green Jello Salad:

Two boxes or one large of lime Jello dissolved in two cups of boiling water.

One carton of small curd cottage cheese.

One can of crushed pineapple, drained.

Mix together and put in the fridge.

For the topping, mix 8 oz. cream cheese with 3/4 cup mayonnaise. I generally let my cream cheese sit out for an hour first to make it easier to blend in the mayonnaise. Spread on top and it’s done.  You can sprinkle chopped pecans on the top if you want.

The hubby loves this and warned the kids that they could take any leftovers they liked but to leave the jello salad alone.

What is your favorite recipe that was handed down to you?

 

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THINGS HAPPEN, THINGS GO WRONG

Weird stuff seems to happen when we’re pushed for time.

Monday, August 18, I got up on the run. Left the house at 7:45 and didn’t return until 3:30. Well, except to trade vehicles, which I’ll go into in a few minutes.

Bear with me.

I arrived at Nissan’s dealership around 8:15. Traffic had backed up for a couple of miles, but miraculously moved quickly. By 9:30, my car’s oil and filter was changed and tires rotated. I had a coupon and August, 18 was the expiration date. I didn’t want to miss the great discount.

So far so good.

After a twenty mile drive toward home to have the car inspected, I was almost done with the day. The wait for the inspection was about fifteen minutes, but in the heat felt longer. Finally the attendant completed the inspection and once again I’m back on the road.

Great!

Time to return home, drive the truck in for the same work as the car, then tags could be purchased and I’d be finished with that boring chore.

Oops! I’d forgotten my laptop battery needed replacing, and had brought it with me. I had called a dealer a few days prior to order, but the employee said I should come in because he couldn’t get their computer system to work. Really? Okay. I really didn’t have the time, but I could do that.

So…I turned around and drove fifteen miles to the dealer to order the much needed battery. Once there, I was told the order would not be shipped until around the 28th of the month. Not wanting to wait that long, I remembered another outlet that was quick and usually had all batteries in stock.

My computer is four years old, so they didn’t have the battery in stock. The lady who waited on me was extremely helpful and had the battery on order in a matter of minutes. The battery would arrive UPS next day air with only a $2.00 shipping fee. I found that amazing and completely delighted to say the least.

The day’s events began to take on a positive note. Yay!

Now back to the house to drop off the car and pick up the truck for oil change, tire rotation and inspection.

Things happen. Things go wrong. Such is life and its many lessons. So goes my lesson in jumping the gun.

After an attendant’s promise to get me out of the dealership within an hour, an hour and forty-five minutes later, the truck’s oil change and tire rotation was complete.

My nerves were beginning to wear thin. It was now twelve-thirty. I still had  a thirty minute drive for the truck’s inspection, visit Mom at the nursing home for a couple of hours, go by the grocery and prepare dinner and go to a funeral home for visitaion.

Such is life.

Two miles from the inspection center, I heard this loud hummmmm. I glanced over at the  truck beside me and thought the sound came from it. After braking a few times in the traffic, I realized the sound came from my truck. By the time I’d arrived at the inspection center, the sound had stopped. Strange, I thought. Thankfully there was only one car in front of me, so the inspection was a speedy one. Relief.

I shot through the grocery store in record time. That chore done, I was on the way home. The day was harried, but now I could relax knowing the rest of the day was manageable.

Wrong.

Smoke

Smoke

I pulled into the driveway and opened the truck door. This putrid smell hit me right in the face. I popped the hood to see if during the oil change, there was oil that could have spilled onto something and caused the horrible, strong, rubber-burning scent. My first thought of blaming someone else. I didn’t have time to check under the hood. White smoke poured from under the truck, near the left rear tire. I jumped as though I’d been shot. My first thought was the truck was going to catch fire.

My heart pounded.

The car was a few feet away, then the house. My imagination worked overtime. In my mind’s eye, I saw a huge explosion, taking everything including the house.

The smoke dissipated. Whew.

But no. The smoke started back up with a vengeance.

After having had work done on a number of vehicles before, we’ve had strange items left under the hood. So, there I go again, thinking something could have been left under the car that caused the problem. In a matter of five minutes the smoke finally ended.

My first thought was something had indeed been handled wrong at the dealership. So, with the day’s previous events, I called hubby and we decided not to chance a long drive back to the dealer, but to take the truck to a shop a mile from the house.

With a funeral to attend at 1:00 the next day, I didn’t have time for this nonsense. But, my neighbor was gracious enough to follow me to the shop and bring me back home.

Who knew? The calipers had stuck and caused the brakes to lock up. Both back rear brakes needed replacement. New calipers, rotors, pads and few hundred dollars later, the truck was now back to normal and I wasn’t afraid to drive it again.

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I’m not so sure I’m back to normal though. My thought to blame someone else for nothing that had to do with the work they’d done, left a stain on my heart.

I will examine all measures before jumping the gun from now on.

I’m sure these incidents may, at some point, find their way into a book someday. My mind works overtime on plots also.

 

A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website for all My Books

The Ten Commandements

I am happy to belong to a group of successful authors on Main Street, but I am dedicating this post to the readers who wish to start a book and to the beginner writers who struggle to improve.

While I was editing my manuscript, I wrote a few must, that I called my Ten Commandements for editing. They were inspired by famous instructors.

Someone said that creating a good book is ten percent writing and ninety-percent editing. These statistics may or may not be true.  While I try to write my first draft as fast as I can to let the story flow, I certainly spend a lot of time polishing my manuscripts before sending them to an editor. Here are the ten commandments I learned from editors, successful authors, mentors or workshop instructors:

  • Hook your reader with your best first sentence, first paragraph, first page. (Mary Buckham)
  • Leave your reader in suspense with a grabbing hook at the end of each scene and each chapter. ( Mary Buckham again)
  • Avoid introspection in the first three chapters or first fifty pages. (Donald Maass)
  • Stay in the present. I still hear the late and wonderful Kate Duffy repeating: “Stay in the present. Don’t tell me the back story of your characters. Let us discover it through their actions as the story develops.”
  • Show, don’t tell. A reviewer made my day when he posted a review of my sweet and spicy, medical romance, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, on Harlequin website. He wrote: “Babies in the Bargain” could serve as an object lesson on how to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ a story. You always know exactly what the characters are feeling, indeed, for the most part you ‘feel’ along with them. It’s a great read.
  • Change setting when you change scenes to avoid boring the reader. Change POV to better show the emotion.
  • Pepper your dialogue with emotion.
  • Add sensorial details that make us feel, see, hear, smell with the hero and heroine.
  • Show the emotional development. (From an editor at Mills& Boon) You should see a definite increase of attraction from scene to scene until the love scene fall in place.
  • Raise the stakes. (Donald Mass)

Here is an extra and most important commandment:

Create lovable characters. If your characters are weak or do not appeal to the reader, the reader will not connect with them and the best plot will fall apart. I received a very nice praise from NY bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire that I used on my bookmarks: “Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk, in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable.” This praise can apply to the authors on Main Street. 20140805-082123-30083560.jpg

And here are famous quotes by famous writers:

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences~~Somerset Maugham.

The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing~~ Ken MacLeod

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to~~ Somerset Maugham

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict~~ James Frey

Mona Risk recently received an OUTSTANDING ACHIEVER Award at Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She’s a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year at Readers Favorite, a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll, and an EPPIE award finalist.
Mona Risk’s name was posted on Amazon.com in the 100 most Popular Authors in Romance list for several months and her books have garnered: Top Picks; Outstanding Read; Sweetheart of the Week; Best Book of the Week at various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher’s Weekly.

She had published several boxed sets of romance novels:
Holiday Babies Series–Christmas Babies, Valentine Babies, and Mother’s Day Babies.
Doctor’s Orders Boxed Set: Babies in the Bargain, Right Name, Wrong Man, and No More Lies.
Foreign Lovers–Her Greek, Tycoon, Her French Count, Her Russian Hero, and Neighbors and More.

Family, Friends, and Festing

I’ve had a really crazy year. My children are growing and changing in ways I haven’t been able to keep up with. I thought I’d have lots more time to bond, to make memories, to parent in a way that would have my children wanting to spend their time with me. At the same time, I’m dealing with trying to help my dad through the twilight of his life.

Hard.

What I’ve found through the good and the not so good that life gives us is that time spent, among friends and family we love, is time well spent.

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I’ve attended the Milwaukee Irish Fest every year since its inception—34 years so far. First I attended with my family of birth, now I go with the family and friends I’ve chosen to surround myself with as I move forward in life. Each and every Irish Fest has been terrific.

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I love the people. I love the culture. I love the experience of surrounding myself in both.

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My Warrior Chronicles books are steeped in Celtic Lore and the theme of what it means to be part of a family regardless of blood ties. My favorite of the Warrior books so far is: DEFENDING DESTINY.

2013 Defending Destiny

We at Authors of Main Street take great pride in writing about family and community; something I experience at every Irish Fest. Even in a crowd of 50,000+ people, I am surrounded by my community of friends who have become family—my Clan. That kind of bond is in all our books, especially in our Weddings on Main Street Box Set.

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I’d love to share my love of all things Celtic and Clan with you. If you enjoy romance with a bit of magic and myth, leave me a comment about what family means to you or ask to be added to my Leigh Morgan’s Minions Facebook page. Leave me your e-mail typed out, not as a hot link so we avoid spam, for a chance to win an e-copy of any of my Warrior Chronicles books. Your choice. Here’s a link to my Amazon page so you can see them all before choosing:

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May your life be filled with the love of good friends…

May each day bring moments of sunshine and happiness…

May you be blessed in health to see your children’s children grow as they make their lives full and rich, sprinkled with your traditions. May contentment be your companion every step of the way.

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Slainte!

Leigh Morgan

Wait! I’m not Ready!

Today as I was driving I noticed this lovely tree, its leaves resplendent in hues of gold and orange among 002the greenery along the street.

Inwardly I shrieked in horror. I mean, it’s pretty and all, but what gives? I couldn’t tell what species it is (maple?) and I don’t know its usual habits, but I’m a little peeved at this tree. After that extra-long, extra-cold winter we endured, and a summer that’s made me shiver more than perspire, I can understand why this tree might be a little confused. Heck, I was confused on certain mornings in July when I had to run back into the house to grab a sweater. But come on, it’s mid-August. What’s the deal, tree?

I’m not ready to see the leaves change colour. I’m not ready to pull out the socks that I tucked away in a dresser drawer back in May. I can’t bring myself to go through my kids’ cold-weather clothes to see what still fits. I’m not ready to think about covering the air conditioner, sealing the deck, putting winter tires on the van … and I’m sure as heck not ready to face the first snowfall of winter! With the way things are going, that could happen any day.

Women & Men & Sex = Funny by Joan Reeves

Cover of Just One Look by Joan Reeves

Readers agree that this is one of Joan’s funniest romantic comedies.

I love romantic comedy which is one of the reasons I write it. When a reader tells me she laughed so hard her family thought she was crazy, that just makes my day. I guess I can blame all those old movies I watched as a child for my addiction to humor and romance.

Golden Oldies

In case you’d like to waste invest some time in advancing your appreciation of vintage films, let me give you a few suggestions.

It Happened One Night Made in 1934, it starred Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. Runaway heiress meets a reporter who wants to exploit her story. Key element? The walls of Jericho. Watch the movie and you’ll understand.

Bringing Up Baby Made in 1938 and starred Katherine Hepburn as a zany rich girl who turns uptight Cary Grant’s life into chaos. Key elements? A baby leopard and dinosaur skeleton.

Pillow Talk Made in 1959, it was the first pairing of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Womanizing songwriter and uptight interior designer share a telephone party line, and that’s when the games begin. (Ask your grandparents if you don’t know what that is. We lived in the country and had a party line long after the rest of the world had private lines. A party line was a true test of one’s integrity. *g*) My cool hip daughter loves this movie so much she bought DVDs of it and the other Doris Day/Rock Hudson films. In several romantic comedies of that era, Tony Randall was the hero’s best friend and was hilarious in his second banana role in each film. He’s the kind of secondary character every romantic comedy needs.

Lover Come Back Made in 1961 and starred Rock Hudson and Doris Day again. In this flick, Rock and Doris are advertising executives who disdain each other’s client recruitment methods. When Doris decides to exact a little revenge, she gets way more than she bargained for. Oh, my! The scene when Tony Randall is driving a heartbroken Doris back to the city, and they stop at a diner is hysterical!

That Touch of Mink Made in 1962 and starred Doris Day and Cary Grant in a movie that confronts the virgin versus the player issue. He’s handsome, rich, and charming. She’s lovely and works though she’s not a career woman. They’re equally captivated, but she wants marriage, and, of course, he wants an affair.

Cactus Flower Made in 1969, this was Goldie Hawn’s film debut with Walter Matthau and the renowned Ingrid Bergman. What a romp this is! Yeah, it, and all the ones above are outdated in terms of our culture, but I bet you’ll laugh.

Fast Forward

In more recent years, there have been a lot of romantic comedy films made, but most of them fall short. They either throw in elements that are crude, not sexy–and they have no brilliant writers on staff to turn it into funny and sexy–or they’re derivative, lesser films with no freshness.

My Fave Romantic Comedies of Recent Years

In no particular order, here’s my list:

Pretty Woman
Notting Hill
About a Boy
Love Actually
Something New
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Sweet Home Alabama
The American President
Groundhog Day
When Harry Met Sally
The Princess Bride
Better Off Dead
Sixteen Candles
The Goodbye Girl

So, there you have it. A picture of my childhood and all the time I wasted invested in building my knowledge base of romance and humor.

Post Script

Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. She lives her happily ever after with her hero. Joan’s books are available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. She publishes WordPlay, a free subscription newsletter for readers and Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers.

Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Always remember Joan’s Motto: It’s never too late to live happily ever after!)

The Man Behind the Mask

I’m sure you’ve all heard the sad news about actor Robin Williams. At first I was shocked. He was such an engaging man, full of laughter and caring. How could he be depressed enough to take his own life? And then I got to thinking.

We’ve all known a class clown. That kid who never takes anything seriously, the one who acts out, the star of the show. I have a family member like that. And like Robin, he ended up addicted to alcohol. I watched the downward slide, the inability to talk rationally, the justifications and anger. That’s when I saw the person behind the mask, and it wasn’t the clown.

Can you imagine the burden of a man like Williams, always expected to be “on” and happy and entertaining? If you’re suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, like Williams, that has to be a terrible burden. I know when I go through phases of depression, I don’t want to talk–to anyone. I stop answering email, I don’t make phone calls or even want to leave the house. I couldn’t imagine being expected to laugh and make jokes and be the life of the party.

When we write our characters, one thing we have to do is look deep inside. What drives them? What makes them the person that they are? Not all of the answers end up on the page, but it’s only by knowing our characters’ deepest secrets that we can give them depth on the page. We have to know them to know what they will do in each situation, and why. Otherwise, they will only be cardboard cutouts, flat and uninteresting.

I’m currently working on a sequel to Lone Star Justice. This point in writing a book always goes very slowly for me, because I don’t yet know my characters well enough. My heroine is just now beginning to reveal her secrets, her fears and flaws. The hero still refuses to talk to me. He’s still a flat cutout, just waiting for me to figure him out. But I will. I’ll dig and push and search until I know what drives him, what scares him, what excites him. I’ll figure out his past and how it affects his present and future.

And when I do, he will be a whole man, not a stick figure hiding behind a mask. He will love and laugh, and he will hurt and tremble. And in the end, he will overcome it all because he is, after all, a hero.

If only real life were the same. My heart goes out to Robin’s family, because there is never just one victim in a case of suicide. Everyone who loves him is a victim.

Rest in Peace now, Robin.

If you know someone suffering from depression, or anyone who has ever even entertained the idea of suicide, learn what you can about the disease and how to help. Mostly, just always be available to listen to them when they talk. And if you ever find yourself in that downward spiral, reach out for help before it’s too late.