Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Show & Tell

With this installment of Friday Show & Tell, Writers Li.P.P. is going on indefinite hiatus. Even though we will no longer be blogging together, you can keep up with us on our personal blogs, Lindy Chaffin Start and Pam Asberry.  Thanks to all of you for supporting us by reading and commenting. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It just wouldn't be Christmas without these...

There's nothing healthy about them. But they have been a family favorite as long as I can remember, and I will make them every December until the day I die.


1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 can Eagle brand milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter; combine with graham cracker crumbs and pat down to form crust. Layer chocolate chips, coconut and pecans over crust; pour Eagle brand milk over evenly. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Says Healthy-er Can't Taste Good?

Okay, so I have to admit that when it comes to the holidays the last thing I am worried about is counting calories. I'm more a "moderation" girl than a "no bread and cheese" girl. Thanksgiving is the only day of the year I EVER feel over-full and Christmas means all of those delectable dishes we only taste once in 365 days.

Since 2011 has been such a challenging year and I have committed myself to taking the 2012 bull by the horns and changing my life in a complete one-eighty why should I concern myself with healthful recipes at the holidays? Maybe I want to set a good example. Could it be that I want to impress my friends with flavorful and healthy food? Perhaps my intent to completely change in 2012 needs to get a good start, or I need to send 2011 off on a healthier note. No matter. Here are some of the "better for you" recipes I will be serving this year. Enjoy!

Ricotta Dip for Fruit

1/2 Cup low fat Ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 6-ounce container vanilla low fat yogurt
6 cups cubed cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and strawberries

In a blender or food processor, combine ricotta, cream cheese, orange juice and powdered sugar. Cover and blend or process until smooth. In a medium bowl stir together cheese mixture and yogurt. If desired, cover and chill dip up to 24 hours. Serve with assorted fresh fruit.

Chili-Toasted Pecans with Dried Cherries

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
2 cups pecan halves (8 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3/4 cup dried cherries or a combination of raisins and dried cherries (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl combine oil and hot pepper sauce. Add pecans; toss to coat evenly. Set aside. In a small bowl combine chili powder, pepper, salt, cumin and oregano. Add to pecans; toss well to coat. Place pecans in a single layer in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake fro 12-15 minutes or until toasted, stirring every five minutes. Stir in dried cherries. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Praline-topped Brie

1 each 13-ounce round Brie or Camembert cheese
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Apple slices and/o toasted French bread slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cheese in a shallow, ovenproof serving dish or pie plate. In a small bowl stir together orange marmalade and brown sugar. Spread on top of cheese. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly. Serve with apple and/or bread slices.

I must thank Better Homes and Gardens for these lovely recipes, but for my own personal tips, well, here you go:

  • Always go for the whole grain. Be it french bread, mustard or cereal - whole grain is better for you.
  • If a recipe calls for crackers or bread, improvise with sliced fruit or vegetables. Serve the brie, as mentioned above, with apple slices. Serve that family-favorite cheese ball with sliced cucumbers, zucchini, celery or carrot slices. 
  • If you're serving a pasta dish, even spaghetti, lighten it up by using julienned squash (zucchini or summer) or take advantage of the fall harvest and use spaghetti squash. 

The best advice I can offer is don't overdo it. Enjoy yourself. Pamper your palette. Don't drink and drive. And if you do eat that one extra cookie, forgive yourself then get up and go for a walk the next day.

Happy Holidays my friends. Feast!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Show & Tell

Lindy Chaffin Start - Decatur, GA

Girls live here!
You reckon? Think pink! I hear it's the new "Red" this Christmas.


Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

Grand Cayman Island

To heck with the North Pole. If I were Santa, I would move my workshop to the Caribbean.

* * *

Have a great week-end; we'll be back on Monday with our favorite holiday party recipes!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wrap Yourself This Christmas!

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “the greatest gift is a portion of thyself.”

Yes, I love to craft and create. It has always been my gift to close family and friends to make their gifts at Christmas. The year Red was born I made Christmas ornaments. Small glass balls adorned with a snowman that was built from her tiny footprint. Cute, huh? The next year I made clocks out of wooden plaques with our family’s memories from that year captured in photographs on the face. Pretty cool. The next year it was a wreath made of jingle boughs decorated with small photo frames that captured our memories from the year. Fun. This year I am recycling. I can’t tell you because you just might be getting one, but know it will be recycled and handmade and Red and I hope you like it.

I agree with Pam that more often than not our friends and loved ones wish to have something special under the tree to open. I, in fact, am guilty of this very infraction. So much so that I gave my mother $100 and asked her to take my little girl shopping for the gifts on my wish list. Sad. True. Okay, so that has more to do with creating tradition and teaching a little red-headed princess how to think about someone other than herself at Christmastime, but equally as selfish is my wish for a small gift or two to open on Christmas morning. In all honesty I don’t need anything, but I wish beyond wishes for that small acknowledgement that I exist. Which brings me to the greatest gift of all – friendship.

Aside from the crafty-handmade gifts and the little tokens wrapped underneath my tree I want to give myself and my friends the greatest gift – each other. I plan to open my home to family and friends for one night steeped in frivolous fun – a re-gifters gift exchange, a covered dish, some hot cider, a carol or two, maybe even a viewing of Rudolf or the first Miracle on 34th Street. No matter what we do, just being together is what counts.

This year would have been impossible to bear without the love and support of our friends so now is the time for me to pay it back, or pay it forward, depending on your perspective. Won’t you join me?

What will you do this season to make it bright on a budget? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas on a Peppermint Striped Shoestring

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~Oren Arnold

I like the way you think, Oren. But you know what? My friends and family are going to be looking for something wrapped up under the Christmas tree.

And I am on a budget. I mean, seriously. Those days of reckless spending and paying off the Christmas bills around the fourth of July are over. If there isn't cash to pay for it, I'm not buying it. And there is powerful little cash left over after expenses. So what is a gal who loves absolutely everything about Christmas supposed to do?

I recommend handmade gifts. Whether you cook or bake, sew or craft, work with wood or provide useful services, you can come up with something to satisfy just about everyone on your list. If you're feeling short on inspiration, click HERE for some great ideas. I'm gonna try my hand at those chocolate spoons this week!

And if you're short on time, I would like to suggest that you visit and support small local craftsmen. To get started, I invite you to browse my selection of handmade jewelry at The Wishing Box (click HERE). And if you need a few stocking stuffers, please consider buying a handful of beaded bracelets to support Asberry School of Music's efforts to help Beading To Beat Autism raise $300 million to build an autism research and treatment center in Louisville, Kentucky.


Bracelets come packaged in a ziplock baggie containing a color insert describing the project.

The suggested donation is only $3 per bracelet. 6", 6 1/2" 7", and 8" lengths available; we will do our best to honor your color preferences or, better yet, let us choose for you! These make great party favors, stocking stuffers, and holiday gifts for teens and teachers. Checks should be made payable to Beading To Beat Autism; all proceeds will go directly to the organization. Please leave a comment if you would like to place an order and I will get back to you with the details. Thank you in advance for your support!

What are your favorite low cost Christmas gift ideas?

Author: Pam Asberry

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Show and Tell

Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

Florida, here I come!

All my bags are packed; I'm ready to go. As soon as the school bell rings this afternoon, I will pick up my 15 year old son and we will make a beeline for Tampa, Florida where we have a reservation for one night in a hotel. Then tomorrow we will take a shuttle to the cruise port where we will board the Carnival Inspiration for a five-day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel, returning Thanksgiving Day. It won't be a traditional holiday, to be sure, but I am looking forward to a break in my routine, fun in the sun, gourmet meals every night, and doing the electric slide while the steel drum band plays. 

* * * * *

Lindy Chaffin Start * Decatur, GA


You don't think about how fragile life is until you pass by something this deadly. Can you imagine walking your dog and having this impale you instead of the ground? I guess that's why they call them widow-makers. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Healthful Twist on Thanksgiving Favorites!

My Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Okay, so not really, but
Thanksgiving food was the hot topic this afternoon as I spoke with my Aunt Gwyne about our plans surrounding next week’s BIG day. It’s not unlike any of us to focus our utmost attention on a meal we get to eat once a year. I, for one, relish a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey and ham as the centerpieces surrounded by warm goodness rivaled only by what the ladies in our church might offer as a buffet feast on Wednesday nights.

While on the phone with Auntie, she mentioned she had been for her quarterly check up today. When asked how everything turned out, she said in her always calm, positive manner, “Everything’s fine.” Though she did say her doctor had reminded her of the upcoming holidays and offered fair warning. Now mind you my aunt is the survivor of the century. It started with a broken ankle that led to a heart attack which lended itself to the discovery of diabetes then breast cancer. Heck, that’s just been in the last six years. Apparently her doctor shook a firm finger in her direction and reminded her she could only cheat on two days – Thanksgiving and Christmas. Otherwise, she had to mind her diet. We giggled a little as we both know Auntie cheats a bit whenever she feels like it. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Then, we talked about the meal. She will have the cherished turkey and ham, green beans and corn. I don’t know what everyone else is planning to contribute. All in all we will have about 25 for dinner at my aunt’s. Here is what I am planning to take:

Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole

2 bags frozen broccoli
2 bags frozen cauliflower
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 sleeve Town House Crackers
1 stick butter

Method: Cook the broccoli and cauliflower according to package directions pulling from the stove a couple of minutes early so as to finish in the sauce in the actual casserole. In a large bowl mix soup, sour cream, mayonnaise and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the broccoli and cauliflower. Pour mixture into a large casserole dish (9x13) sprayed with cooking spray. Top with crushed crackers. Drizzle butter over the top to finish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Get ready to taste heaven (yes, that was a casserole-eatin’ choir of angels you just heard).

My Better than Soufflé Sweet Potatoes

3 pounds sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
Salt and pepper

Method: Nothing is easier. Boil sweet potatoes until they are tender. Remove from stove and drain. Return to pot. Mash potatoes the best way you know how – potato masher, mixer, whisk – they all work fine. Add a few tablespoons of butter while they are hot. Mix well and check consistency. Add honey; about half a bear. Then salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve. Simple, pantry-friendly.

Sugared Pecans

1 pound pecans
1 cup sugar

Method: Another, oh so simple recipe. Put pecans in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover with water. Add sugar. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until the water begins to thicken slightly and turn a nice dark caramel brown. Drain. Toss boiled pecans onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spread them evenly so they don’t stick together. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 200 degrees until the pecans and the sugar dry out a bit and form a nice crust. Depending on your oven, 30 minutes to an hour. Let the pecans cool in the pan. Transfer to a bowl and serve. This will be the happiest crowd of people you have ever seen.

Enjoy all of the kudos on your contributions. Don’t over indulge. Celebrate you and your family. Be thankful for all that you have, even the fleas. And, have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Family's Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving 2010
l-r: Casey, Nathan, Eric & SeDonna
This week's blog topic is Thanksgiving recipes made healthy. But I cannot tell a lie.

I don't do Thanksgiving healthy. Every year, I make Thanksgiving dinner the way I always have, fat and calories be damned. Then everyone at my table eats himself or herself into a stupor and enjoys every delicious minute. I know I do. It's just one day out of 365. Geez.

I usually do both ham and turkey with bread dressing like my mom's, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls and pumpkin pie, with green beans and corn as a nod to balance. My brother and his wife usually join my two sons and me for dinner, and each of them has another favorite side dish/dessert to go along. Here the recipes.

* * *

1 bunch broccoli, chopped small
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup red onion, chopped small
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl, then stir together dressing ingredients and pour over, stirring to combine. This is good topped with crumbled bacon, but I serve that on the side since Casey is a vegetarian.

* * *

1 bag frozen hash browns
1/2 stick butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Arrange hash browns in a greased 13 X 9 inch baking pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat until melted. Pour over hash browns. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.

* * *

3 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flaked coconut
1/ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, milk, 1/3 cup margarine, vanilla and eggs; set aside. Thoroughly combine coconut, brown sugar, flour, 1/3 cup margarine and pecans in another bowl. Spoon 1/2 sweet potato mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan; sprinkle with half the coconut-pecan topping. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

* * *

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, halves or pieces

Beat eggs slightly with fork. Stir in syrup, sugar and vanilla until blended. Add chocolate pieces and pecans. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell (I use Pillsbury!) and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

And there you have it: instructions for a feast fit for royalty. Regardless of which way you go - healthy or not so much - I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Author: Pam Asberry

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Show and Tell

Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

The view from my bedroom window.
 I'm going to miss those leaves when they're gone.

* * * * *

Lindy Chaffin Start * Decatur, GA

My neighbor's treasured Japanese Maple
It's funny how Pam and I think alike most Fridays. Every year this tree puts on a brilliant display of crimson and gold. It's my signal for the fall of my life to begin. Time for rest and rejuvenation, not only for Mother Nature, but for me as well. I'll miss the leaves, but when the first snow falls, I'll have a much better view of the field below. Happy Fall Y'all!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pretty Awesome New Stuff – Bad and Good

My friend, Pam Asberry is all too inspiring and her post on Monday about awesome new things she has tried brought me to shameful tears. You see, this year hasn’t been about trying new things for me; it has been more about shedding the old:
  • Cleaning out closets
  • Hosting a yard sale
  • Taking a break from everything I aspire to be to search for a job
  • Letting go of a relationship I thought was forever
And what awesome new thing did I get? A little piece of paper, signed by a judge, that states I am once again…single.

But wait! I don’t want to weigh you down with a bunch of poor, pitiful me sob story stuff. If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written you know that’s not at all what I’m about. Let’s take another look at the bullet points above:
  • Yes, I cleaned out my closets. I discovered half of my clothes were either too small or too big so guess what I did. I bought new ones. One of my favorite new outfits I found at Macy’s. Hot, right?
  • Okay, so what. I hosted a yard sale. Big deal! I made enough money to re-do my little girl’s room. It’s very pretty and purple now. She no longer resides in a guest room disguised as a kid’s room. She now has her very own space complete with a newly painted night stand and stars and “jewels” on the walls.
    Red's New Room
  • Yeah, yeah. This is where it gets hard. I took a break from everything I aspire to be to look for a job. Listen, it only sounds bad. My passions (writing, cooking, painting) got put on the back burner one more time in my life but in their place I got to take classes on InDesign and Illustrator and learned some cool new tricks of a new awesome trade. I’ve been doing freelance graphic design ever since. So there is still the ginormous void of an actual job but I know its coming. Living in faith, I know, like I know, like I know. So, now is the time for me to reconnect with my passions while I still have some free time and let God take care of the rest.
  • Letting go of that relationship was probably the most devastating, but in the process I connected with old friends and new, especially the girls, like Karen, Zoe, Pam, Megan, Marjorie and a list of others who must forgive me as I only have so much space in one blog post, BUT you know who you are and you know I love each of you so much it hurts.  And lest we not forget the boys like Mark, Bryan and Michael who have been like little beacons of hope for me that good, honest men do still exist.
You see, my pretty awesome new things are the things I had been lacking all along. The gumption to get rid of the old and start looking for the new. The knowledge that space is very personal. The ability to learn and grow. And, the courage to admit when something just wasn’t working.  

Yes, in 2011, I shed the old but look at all the awesome new things, and people, I discovered in the process.

Life in Penned Perspective by Lindy Chaffin Start

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seven New Favorite Things

I gave myself an unusual birthday present this year.
I started a new blog back in August, on my fifty-second birthday. Inspired by Julie Powell of Julie and Julia and Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project, I vowed to try something new every day for a year and blog about it. Over the course of the eighty-four days that have passed since then, I have had some wonderful experiences that I undoubtedly wouldn't have had if not for my resolution. I have experimented with new recipes, visited unfamiliar places, even learned a thing or two. Some have become a part of my daily life. Since my budget is tight, most are low-cost or no-cost. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Godiva Dark Chocolate.

2. Pillsbury Mocha Fudge Brownies.

3. Once Upon A Time.

4. 100 Push-Ups/200 Sit-Ups.

5. Pumpkin Spice K-Cups.

6. PaperBack Swap.

7. Pinterest.

Click on the pink links to find out more. Then I hope you will go back and visit my blog Between Birthdays often!

What are one of your favorite new things?

Author: Pam Asberry

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Show and Tell

Lindy Chaffin Start - Decatur, GA

This little piggy's pic was taken at Southern Belle Farm in McDonough, GA
Yep, that's me, the pig in blue. Okay, so I'm not really a pig - physically, spiritually, emotionally - but showing you a picture of this little guy trucking it around the track to the finish line sets up the holidays for me. Halloween is over and here we are into the first of November - already. 

Time to get your calls on kids. Let the fun begin! Soo-ee! Sorry, I mean Happy Holidays!

* * *

Pam Asberry - Dacula, GA

Legacy Hall, River Center for the Performing Arts, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University

It's all a matter of perspective.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Classics Do It For Me

Make me giggle to no end, that is. Like this one...

Lucille Ball is an all time favorite of mine, well her and my mother and my aunt when they get started laughing at something and just can't stop.

Cheers to the girls today!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bet You Can't Watch This Without Laughing

Me? I have to laugh to keep from crying.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Show and Tell...

Lindy Chaffin Start - Decatur, GA

Red as Jesse from Toy Story - 2010

The always fabulous Headless Horseman (here he looks ghostly)

There are some terrific pumpkin carvers out there, but Screamer was by far my favorite jack-o-lantern last year. Something about him "screamed" CREATIVE!!!
Happy Halloween, Y'all!

* * * * *

Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

Nathan, October, 2005
I know it's a cliche, but they really do grow up too fast.
I am 5" 2", so when this picture was taken, I towered over my little guy.
My, what a difference six years makes!
My advice? Treasure every chaotic moment with your precious little trick-or-treaters this year.
Your big ones, too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ghosts of Halloweens Past and Writers LiPP Costume Contest!

Of course I was a big fan of Halloween when I was growing up. What kid in her right mind wouldn't love an excuse to put on a crazy costume and go door-to-door begging candy from the neighbors? My brothers I used to come home with our pillowcases stuffed full of treats. But whereas all their good stuff (that is, the chocolate) was gone within days, I rationed my treats out and make them last nearly until Christmas. I've always been good that way. So why is it that there's always more month than money?

But I digress. I don't have any pictures of myself in costume back in the day, but my all-time favorite was Casper the Friendly Ghost. I remember sweating behind the mask, but I dug that shiny white robe.

By the time I got to high school, I determined I was too old to go trick-or-treating (my, how things have changed!) and I don't remember Halloween being fun again until I had kids of my own. I used to stay up until the wee hours sewing costumes for them

Josh and Casey
doing seasonal crafts with them

and taking them to pumpkin patches and corn mazes.

Nathan and Casey
 I firmly believe that these activities helped them grow in wisdom.

 Even Karma gets in on the action sometimes.

And now for the moment you have been waiting for.

Yep, it's really me. October, 2006.
Now, it's YOUR turn! Please send a picture of yourself dressed in your Halloween finest for a chance to be featured on Friday Show & Tell AND win fabulous prizes, including an exclusive Writers Li.P.P. t-shirt. Send your entry to May the best costume win!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Open House and Costume Contest! Come and Play!

Me and Red - Halloween 2009
Halloween is a favorite of mine. Not only do I love a good haunt, but the memories that surround this special day linger in my mind like summer hangs on in Georgia.

My friend Kate who was 96 when she died some years back, used to open her home to all us neighborhood kids on Halloween. She would dress like a movie star straight from 1930s Hollywood and serve up yummy treats to the kids and parents that wandered by on Trick-or-Treat rounds. Wassail for the grownups, hot apple cider for the kids. Homemade popcorn balls decorated with chocolate bars to make them look like jack-o-lanterns were a staple along with spiced cookies - Kate's specialty. 

Trick-or-Treating the full length of our neighborhood all by ourselves was something special and not getting home until 9:00 PM on a school night. The best part was being with the host of friends I grew up with. The Moseley's, Rob, Hunter and Jay, Amanda, Audra, to name only a few, were the usual traveling pack when we were younger. We would inevitably run into other friends and the group would grow until it took us a full ten minutes to get through the passing out of candy at each house. Great fun. 

In my twenties, and don't I wish I could've found this pic for you, the only Halloween party I attended was with my first husband and we dressed as Frankenstein and his bride. He came complete with stilts that made him seven feet tall, and my hair was almost as tall as his stilts. Scary! 

But the best Halloweens I have ever experienced have been with Red. Her first Trick-or-Treat was 2009. We traversed the neighborhood and collected candy from every house with it's front light on - in the icy cold rain. She loved every minute and so did I. Yes, that's me, the Too Sexy chef up top. In 2010, she dressed as Jessie from Toy Story and I dressed for warmth and walking. This year she is destined to be Daphne from Scooby Doo and so am I. Yes, she has asked me to be the "Mom Daphne." *laughing* I like purple, so why the heck not. 

This week isn't all about us though, its about you too. Pam and I want you to e-mail us your favorite Halloween get-ups from the past. We'll choose a winner, or two, and post them for Friday Show and Tell. We'll have prizes for best costume too! 

Pam's on Trick-or-Treat deck next! Have a great week and send me your photos -

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Show and Tell

Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

Do you ever feel this way?
The coffee mug says it all.


Lindy Chaffin Start * Decatur, GA

Emerge Unstoppable!
After ten months of struggling through the pain of divorce, I still did...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where Do You Draw The Line?

In Lindy Chaffin Start's blog post Monday, she detailed conversations that decisively ended relationships. I was impressed. Me? I seem more like our reader Denise, who commented:

Oh, you are so not alone. I always see the good and write the bad off to just a bad moment. I will forgive just about anything.

Here are some examples from the past.

Me: "I am thinking about going to University of Colorado and getting my Ph.D."
Serious Boyfriend: "Go for it. But I can't promise I will be waiting around for you when you are finished."
Stunned silence. Eventually, I give up my dream of getting a Ph.D. and marry the guy.

Me: "So what's this big secret you want to tell me?"
Friend: "I am having an affair with John Doe."
Stunned silence. John Doe is married and all of our mutual friends know it. I don't approve, but I keep her secret, lying for her when friends ask about their relationship. 

Me: "What just happened?"
New Boyfriend: "You're just not as slim and slender as I originally thought."
Stunned silence. I am 5' 2"; at the time, I weighed 105 pounds. My confidence is shattered, but we talk it through and I end up in a four-year relationship with the guy.

Denise went on to say:

I do have a line or two and am drawing more. There's just so much a girl can put up with, right?

I like to think my learning curve is also improving. I am learning to speak up for myself. I divorced the husband. I broke ties with the friend. I ended the four-year relationship. And here are some examples from more recent history.

Me (on a third date): "So tell me more about your situation with your ex."
New Boyfriend: "Well, she isn't exactly my ex. We aren't exactly separated. And she doesn't exactly know I am seeing other people."
Great balls of fire! I don't date married men! Please take me home!

Me: "That's a great idea. I would love to spend Valentine's Day in the mountains with you."
Boyfriend of Six Months: "I'm going to have to cancel our weekend reservation. My mom is expecting me at her house for Sunday night dinner."
I hope your mom will also keep you warm at night! Bye-bye!

I don't know why it's taken me a lifetime to figure this all out. But the good news is that am no longer willing to spend five minutes with a man who diminishes me in anyway or puts me at the bottom of his priority list. Nor am I willing to keep dirty secrets for a friend or put up with any kind of abuse from anyone--whether it's directed at me, at a minority group, or anyone else. At this stage of the game, it's about being true to myself and treating others the way I want to be treated.

If that isn't true love, I don't know what is.

Where do YOU draw the line?

Author: Pam Asberry

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Exorcism Factor: Things I Heard and Swore I Would Never Repeat

"See ya!"

5 FINGERS© Nithi Chungyam |
It’s funny how we perceive others.  When it's someone we care about it's hard to see that they may be flawed to the point that we need to cut ties. This post means a great deal to me because I am essentially outing people I have known without revealing their identities. For these purposes, let’s call it an exorcism. This is my way of writing the note and lighting it on fire so that I can finally let these folks go. All of these people I have known well, shared intimate conversations with, and completely disconnected from once these statements were uttered. You ready?

Me: “So, why the name change?” 
Friend: “There’s a warrant out for my arrest.”
Me: “For?”
Friend: “My ex is after me for back child support.”
Refrain from slapping. See ya!

Me: “Girl, you look great! How did you lose so much weight?”
Friend: “Well, did I ever tell you that cocaine is my drug of choice.”
Head tilt. Huh? See ya!

Me: “I really appreciate your help this weekend. Is there anything I can do to repay you?”
Friend: “Didn’t you tell me once that the doc had given you Xanex for your panic attacks?”
Me: “Yeah. Why?”
Friend: “I’ll buy them from you.”
Are you kidding me? See ya!

Me: “You said that you wanted to have your children raised in church. What happened?”
Friend: “I just said that to try to get in your pants.”
Whole host of expletives resound in brain.  See ya!

Sadly, I am naïve enough not to pick up on the warning signs like most. Believing in people is what I do. Seeing the good, refusing to admit the bad until it smacks me across the face – WHACK! Gratefully, I am well aware of when to call a friendship quits.

What about you? Is there something you’ve heard from a friend that has ended a relationship? Something you swore you would never repeat?

Pam is up next. Until Friday Show and Tell I bid you a good week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Show and Tell

Lindy - Decatur, GA

The neighbor's mailbox-eating tree...
9-1-1 Operator: "9-1-1. What's your emergency?"
Neighbor: "OMG! Send and ambulance!"
9-1-1 Operator: "Sir, what happened?"
Neighbor: "My tree ate my mailbox!"
* click *

* * * * *

Pam - Dacula, GA

I dream of living someplace warm enough to wear tank tops, flippy skirts and flip-flops year round,
because as soon as the temperature dips below 60 degrees, I reach for my fuzzy socks.
This is probably as close as I'm going to get to flip-flops for a while.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Recipes: Black Bean Soup

My blog sister Lindy believes that perfection can be found in pork tenderloin. That may be true for you carnivores out there but, as far as I'm concerned, perfection can be found in a simple pot of homemade soup, like this recipe for black bean soup, adapted from my 1981 edition of Laurel's Kitchen. Yes, I have been dabbling with vegetarianism for a long, long time.


1 1/2 cups black beans
1 1/2 quarts water
2 heaping tablespoons VegeBase
(or substitute 1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth for the water and VegeBase)
2 tablespoons oil
1 carrot
1 onion
1 potato
2 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch garlic powder

Wash the beans, place them in a pot along with the water and VegeBase (or vegetable broth) and 1 tablespoon oil. Cover tightly, bring to a boil, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours or so, until the beans are very tender.

Chop the onion and saute in the remaining oil until soft. Chop the celery, including the leaves; dice the potato and carrot; add celery, potato and carrot to onion and cook over medium heat for several minutes, stirring all the while.

Add the vegetables to the beans, along with the seasonings, in the last hour of their cooking. Bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat to simmer until the beans and vegetables are done.

Makes about 9 cups. Great served in a bowl topped with hot sauce and a dollop of sour cream and a side of cornbread, or leftover on a bed of rice and topped with salsa and grated cheddar cheese.

Click the links below for some of my other favorite fall recipes. Enjoy!

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins
Apple Streusel Pie
German Chocolate Pie

Author: Pam Asberry

Monday, October 10, 2011

Best Things These Li.P.P.s Ever Tasted – Fall Recipes

Do you ever have that feeling like your hands are in control? It’s the craziest feeling – they have to be doing something. I often say in these instances that “my hands are bored.” There is nothing like cooler days and a tinge of color on the leaves outside my window to inspire creativity. My bored hands are at the ready to do some busy work. So, I give them something to do.

Flavors of fall are especially important to me – freshly harvested apples, root vegetables like parsnip, carrot, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts all lend themselves to a heartier, cool-weather plate.  At the center of this plate is perfectly roasted pork tenderloin. Yes, perfect. I know I said in my post last Wednesday that perfection was unattainable but perfected is possible. Well, perfection may be found in pork tenderloin.

Let’s build our plate and then I will give you the super secret, super easy recipe:

Imagine if you will a beautiful 10 inch dinner plate with elegant branches from a wintering dogwood filled with red berries stretching from corner to corner. In the center of the plate is a simple sweet potato mash made with a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper. In the seven o’clock corner there is a luscious mound of sautéed spinach with slivers of shaved garlic. In the one o’clock corner there is a nice showing of roasted root vegetables – carrots and parsnips – roasted in olive oil and rosemary. In the 11 o’clock corner, half of a Granny Smith apple and sharp provolone cheese are cubed and tossed together.  Sound good so far? Now, we need our focal point.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 split baby tenderloin, fat trimmed
  • Emeril’s Original Essence
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Simple. Simple. Simple.

Place the tenderloins in a gallon Ziploc bag. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat (a couple of tablespoons) then pour, not sprinkle, Emeril’s  Original Essence into the bag atop the tenderloins. Zip the bag then squish the tenderloins around in the bag until they are nice and orange all over. It’s the spices, I promise. Heat a nonstick sauté pan, should you have one available, on medium-high to high heat. Sear the tenderloins on all four sides, each side will be a nice crisp brown - not black. Turn the tenderloins onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Take the meat out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

This is the simplest pork tenderloin ever. I perfected the method while building a home in Juliette, Georgia. Every weekend we would commit to work through so I would pack the cooler with things that were easy to prepare with very few ingredients. This tenderloin, some cheddar cheese, Texas Pete, and flour tortillas made for a great lunch straight from the grill.

Fall conjures up so many flavors for me. I suggest you start your day with pecan pancakes and maple syrup. Have an enjoyable light lunch that might be a twist on Waldorf salad and whole grain toast or crackers. Finish your day with the ultimate fall dinner (above). No autumn weekend is complete without it.

Life, and menu ideas, in Penned Perspective by Lindy Chaffin Start

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Show & Tell

Pam Asberry * Dacula, GA

This little guy shows up outside my kitchen window every single night.
I know he is looking for bugs but I like to think he is just peeking in to say hi.
Regardless, I admire his steadfastness and tenacity.

* * * * *

Lindy Chaffin Start * Decatur, GA


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Pondering on Perfection…

The very best thing I’ve read in the last few days truly made me think on the topic of perfectionism. This is a point made by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. She points out, “Upon completing the Universe, the Great Creator pronounced it ‘very good.’ Not ‘perfect.’”

Life is rarely perfect therefore we will never achieve perfection. Sounds fair. And, who would want to? What fun would life be if we all achieved our goals the minute we set out to? I figure we’d all be left standing around until one of us screamed, “What’s next?”

Pam’s post on Time Management this past Monday drove this point home to me. In there she asks, “Are you fully engaged in the one or two pursuits that bring you sheer delight? Would you be happy doing nothing but what you are doing for the rest of your life?

Funny thing about it is, when you are doing what you love, there is no need for perfection. Uh oh. What did I just say? Seriously. Look at it this way - yes, manuscripts have to be as perfect as perfect gets. Hello, that’s what editors and proofers are for. Work can be flawed, but people must still be served, events must still take place, the daily grind must still go on. Here’s my question, would you rather be sitting on the couch writing surrounded by poignant reminders that you have an active family (aka. a messy living room) or would you rather be expelling all of your energy perfecting your living room in a blind effort to make a peaceful space to work? If you spend your time cleaning to find the perfect space, then what do you do when the kids get home from school and want their fair share of quality time with you? After dinner, as everyone bathes and dons PJs, will you find time to write like you had planned earlier in the day? Can you forgive yourself and try again tomorrow? Sure you can. BUT, will tomorrow look like today?
© Aje |

It doesn’t take long to see the same pattern we all face. Lisa Bloom speaks about this in her book, THINK: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World. Find the time that you need to do the things that fulfill you. Let the kids take part in the cleaning and, in my humble opinion, do it before bed so you can have a semi-clean house when they leave for school. When they get home, allow them an hour of “free time” to do what they want in their space. This will allow you an extra hour to do what you want. Try it.

Stop looking for perfection. Find balance.

Until Friday Show and Tell this is Life in Penned Perspective by Lindy Chaffin Start.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A new perspective on time management

After spending the summer eating frogs, being a total slave to a stack of arduous to-do lists, I am trying a new approach, which seems to be working for the always brilliant Danielle LaPorte. I recommend that you click HERE and read every word of this recent blog post of hers. Here is my favorite part.

Time management systems are tricky beasts. They may help us be more productive, but not necessarily less stressed, or more fulfilled, or more in touch with our true nature. We may look freer with our priorities all tidy, but too often, time remains the master and we get "given" time for obeying the system.

I'd rather be fulfilled than obedient. And it turns out that when I'm fulfilled, I'm...fulfilled--whether I'm productive or not. And that gives me plenty of energy to be more focused on what matters most, which makes me truly productive.

My way isn't working. My daily to-do list is physically impossible to achieve, so I wake up every morning stressed and anxious, knowing that I am going to fail before I even get started. Is this any way to go through life? Obviously, the answer is no.

I love Danielle's suggestions for putting time management in its place. I already "batch and chunk," so that one is a no-brainer. I am super excited about trying some of the others. Like NOT keeping a detailed  to-do list. Asking myself every morning what it is I really feel like doing. And, arguably most important for me, focusing on the one or two vocational pursuits that really excite me.

Here is my breaking news: I am finally ready to admit that I cannot do it all: teach piano lessons to 40 students each week--a full-time job--while simultaneously building both a handcrafted jewelry business and a writing career AND taking care of my family. Something has got to give. And over a tear-filled breakfast a couple of weeks ago, my friend Denise helped me realize what that needs to be.

Her question went something like this: "If you designed a piece of jewelry that became so popular that making jewelry could be your sole means of support--if it went viral and you could no longer meet the demand for it by yourself and you got to run a factory to manufacture it--would you be happy doing nothing but that?"

I didn't even hesitate. The answer was easy. "No."

Music and writing are my passions. I enjoy making jewelry and hoped that my Etsy store would provide me with some extra income during this slump in the economy and buy me time to hone my skills as a writer, but the truth is that every penny I earn selling jewelry goes right back into supplies to make more jewelry. And sales haven't been great the past few weeks. I expect that will change as the holidays approach, so it makes sense to stay in business through the first of the year, but after that I plan to liquidate my remaining stock. I still enjoy making jewelry; I will probably keep my store open with a handful of select signature and seasonal items, and do special orders upon request. But I will keep my focus where it needs to be. On my personal development as a musician. On teaching my students every week. On honing my skills as a writer, both of fiction and nonfiction.

The relief I have felt as a result of this decision tells me that it is a step in the right direction. Wish me luck.

Are you a slave to your to-do list? Are you fully engaged in the one or two pursuits that bring you sheer delight? Would you be happy doing nothing but what you are doing for the rest of your life? If you don't like your answers to these questions, what are you going to do about it?

Author: Pam Asberry