Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Writing Wednesday

 People tell me all the time that they would like to write or they could write if they wanted to.

"Then do it," I tell them. But most never do. Maybe they start but then find out it is harder than they realized.

Don't just talk about writing, or say you will some day when you have time. Time passes and opportunities disappear.

Start writing today. Don't be like Scarlet and say, "I will think about that tomorrow." Tomorrow may never come.

There are many things you can write about. You don't have to start with a novel. Start small. Practice, learn, and grow as a writer. It takes patience, perseverance and passion. Patience is hard for me. I want things now. I started writing some of my books years ago. I'm glad I had the patience to work on them until I was satisfied and happy with the finished product.

Storytelling is an oral form of writing. If you can tell a story you can write a story.

Write tall tales, family traditions (so they won't be forgotten), family recipes and stories to go with them, superstitions, non fiction, nature, lists, love stories, jokes, journals, how-to books, ghost stories, lines for greeting cards, folklore, your family history, short stories, poems, etc.

You see there are many things you can write about. You just have to put pen in hand or fingers on keyboard and take that first big step and start. You might find out that once you begin you can't quit. I've thought about quitting before, but I can't. Another idea comes and I have to write it down.

The difference between a writer and someone who wants to write is that a writer writes and the other one talks about writing.

I like putting down family stories so they won't be forgotten. I want my kids and relatives to know about and remember the past. 

I like writing stories for children.

I started out writing picture books and poems. They were my first love. I eventually started writing longer works. I didn't know I had it in me but I did. I've written two middle grade books (one yet to be published) and two novels. I am now working on my third novel. 

So, my advice to you is just START. 

LEARN the rules.

FIND a writing group to help you grow.

Happy writing!


Posted by Janet Smart 


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Writing Wednesday

 Hi everyone.

I used to do a post on this site called Writing Wednesday.

Well, this is Wednesday. I think I will revive the tradition.

My latest writing achievements have been the release of two books recently.

One is just a new version of an older book. My Hum Hum Hummingbirds is now in hardcover - and I love the new cover! I also had to make the book 72 pages in order for them to publish it in a hardcover version.

And the second of my trilogy series is Mama's Memories. It is now out! It takes place in 1924 and Lucy is pregnant with her 8th child. She goes back in time and reminisces about what has happened since the ending of the first book, Where the Stars Grant Wishes, which took place in 1908-1910. 

I am very happy with both books. And I am now working on the third book of this trilogy. It takes place during WWII and at the moment it is called, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.

I was recently at a book signing at our local library and met a young girl who loved to read and write. She was the sweetest girl and said she had just started 8th grade. She purchased my MG book, Duck and Cover, and was excited about reading it. She asked us about our writing journey and said she has entered writing contests before, but hadn't won any yet. We told her to keep writing and to keep entering. Writing is something that gets better with practice. The more you write, the more you learn and the better you get. 

A number of years back my youngest son said that if you were a good writer, you shouldn't have to go back and make changes all the time. I said, "No, that is not the case". Editing is the process of making your writing better. All authors, even the big name ones, do a lot of editing. That's what makes a good story great.

I write a column for the local newspaper. I always try to have it finished before the deadline, because when you sleep on it and look at it again in the morning with fresh eyes, you always find things to change and make better. I don't think I would ever turn anything in without letting it rest and looking at it again with fresh eyes.

 A couple of my favorite quotes are:

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." James Michener

 "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try." Dr. Seuss

My Amazon page.


Posted by Janet Smart 

 

Friday, July 29, 2022

FREEZING CORN

 We braved the muddy garden and went out and picked corn to freeze. The garden has had a rough go this year from all the rain and storms that have passed through our area.


We picked a little over 5 dozen ears. We wanted to freeze 5 dozen and eat the rest for supper.

After shucking them, we cut the corn off the cob with a knife. Our corn (serendipity) is so pretty.

You put one stick of butter, one cup of water and 4 Tablespoons of sugar into your large pot. Turn on the heat, stir to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. 



When the butter has melted, add 10 cups of cut off the cob corn and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.



Empty into a large container to cool. I sit my containers on those reusable blue ice packs that you use in your lunch box to keep things cold. 


After the corn cools, I put them in freezer bags. I put 2 cups in each one. The 5 dozen ears of corn made 16 containers to put in the freezer.

The corn is delicious frozen this way. We just had a reunion and I brought some to it that I had put up last year, and everyone loved it. Still tasted great!



Just take from the freezer, thaw and heat. No need to add extra butter, only salt if you want to. I don't even add salt to mine.


This and other recipes are in my cookbook, Cooking with Family:  Recipes and Remembrances.

Enjoy making memories in the kitchen!


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Beautiful Rose of Sharon

 I love my Rose of Sharon - and so do the bees!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I'll let these pictures speak for themselves. We've had these in our yard for many years and they look more like trees than bushes. 

I hope you enjoy the pics.







Do you have Rose of Sharon in your yard?

PS The hummers also love them!


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Catching Up!

 I don't post like I used to. I mainly post on Facebook and You Tube.

We've had a cold winter and a crazy spring. 

This year we've been visited by chipmunks, many birds, beavers, ducks and whippoorwills!

I will post a few pics and links below.


We love our little chipmunk we call Freddy. My son even made him a little picnic table to eat on.




Our robins have been nesting in the strangest places!

And we have been listening to whippoorwills every night. Click here to check them out on my you tube channel. Make sure your sound is turned up. If you want, you can click here and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It's called Janet Smart-Country Living.

 I've been writing a new book, which will soon be available on Amazon. It is the 2nd in a series. If you like Appalachian fiction, I think you will enjoy these two books. The first one being, Where the Stars Grant Wishes. You can click here and check out by books on my Amazon page. 

We've just finished getting our garden out. We have peas, green beans, corn, squash and tomatoes. Can't wait for fresh veggies from the garden.

We constructed two teepees to plant our green beans around.

I am also helping plan for our high school reunion that will be held in August. My how time flies!

I will try and remember to post more often.

What's been happening in your world?



Saturday, December 11, 2021

Christmas Keepsakes and Memories

 We finally got our Nativity up today. I love it.



I'm still in the process of decorating and trimming our tree. I don't put up nearly as much as I used to. 


My tree is a tall skinny one, which I find hard to decorate. The limbs don't stick out far enough. I've got a variety of ornaments - lots of them home made and all sizes.





Here are three things that are important to me. The old Santa hat belonged to my mom. She always wore it on Christmas. Now I wear it. The ceramic angel belonged to my mother in law and the white crocheted snowflake was made by my cousin, Vera.

This Christmas card is very special. I found it in my dad's things after he died. Grandma and Grandpa sent it to him and my mom in 1947, the first Christmas my mom and dad was married. I love it. I display it every Christmas.


These are just a few of my Christmas keepsakes. 

One of my special memories is Charley proposing to me and giving me a ring on Christmas Eve in 1977.

Do you have any special keepsakes or memories of Christmas?

 




Thursday, October 28, 2021

USING ITEMS FOR OTHER PURPOSES

 I'm always thinking of ways to use things for what they are not supposed to be used for.

I've been cleaning and organizing around the house. I found this desk organizer in the floor gathering dust. 

It's not gathering dust any more. It's the perfect addition to my kitchen table.

This is an old printers tray that I use to display my kid's hot wheels on.


I use this old sewing machine drawer to store my vintage buttons in.

This used to be an old floor model radio that that was converted into a bookcase that I bought at a yard sale for $3.


Of course, I believe this is supposed to hold wine bottles. I use it to place my rolling pins in.


I'm sure lots of you do the same as I do. 

What item do you use for something entirely different than what it was supposed to be used for?


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Making a Barn Star Quilt

 I love barn star quilts that you see on barns (and other buildings) as you travel along country roads.

I love them so much, that we decided to make one to put on the back of our building (we don't have a barn).

LIST OF SUPPLIES NEEDED:

FROG TAPE (This is really good tape. It makes very crisp paint lines)


 

 

 

 

 

 

SMALL FOAM PAINT ROLLERS


 

 

 

 

 

 

EXTERIOR PAINT (we bought sample jars at Home Depot) and white exterior paint to prime the plywood with.



 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

4 x 4 MDO PLYWOOD (we bought an 8 x 4 sheet and cut it in half)

9 galvanized dry wall screws

The first and maybe hardest part is to decide on a pattern to draw. You can google Barn Star Quilt patterns and lots and lots come up for you to look at. Then you have to decide on what colors to use. We decided to use crimson red, sunspark and beacon blue.

Put on two coats of white paint for the primer. We already had exterior white paint that we had recently painted the building with. Also paint the edge of the plywood.

After the primer paint dries, draw on the pattern you want. We used a fine point sharpie.


 





Tape off the sections to paint (one color at a time) We did the blue first. Let the first coat dry for a day, then paint on the 2nd coat. After applying the 2nd coat, carefully peel off the tape while it is still wet.

Let paint dry a couple of days before taping off next section.


   







Tape off the 2nd sections to paint. We did the sunspark next. Like before, let the 1st coat dry for a day, then apply the 2nd coat, carefully peel off the tape.

Let paint dry a couple of days before taping off next section.








Lastly, tape off the 3rd sections to paint. Like before, let the 1st coat dry for a day, then apply the 2nd coat, carefully peel off the tape.








FINISHED PRODUCT








Let dry for a few days before putting outside.

My son drilled holes about 1 1/2 inches from the outside border in the corners, one in the middle and one on each side. For a total of 9 holes. He then countersunk the holes so the screw would be flush with the plywood.

We screwed a board up on the outside wall of the building to set the barn star on while we screwed it to the wall. 








After screwing it to the wall, we got the blue paint and painted the screw heads.







Then we stepped back and enjoyed the view. I love it!








As you can see, allowing for drying time, it takes at least a week to finish it. 

But it is worth the wait.

Do you have one of these on your building or barn?



Sunday, January 10, 2021

Recipe - Deer Stew

 We had deer stew today for Sunday dinner. It is a new favorite of ours.

The last time my son got a deer we canned it. Or, I should say, he went next door to our cousin's house and they canned it. 



I chopped up a bunch of carrots, potatoes, celery and an onion.


I cooked it in a can of beef stock and 2 cups of water for approximately 15 minutes.

I added the canned deer meat and cooked it just a few minutes longer. Then I added a small amount of the liquid from the pot to 2-3 Tablespoons of cornstarch and stirred well.



I stirred it into the pot and cooked it for a few minutes to thicken it a little.


It's very good and easy! The deer meat is very tender and already cooked, so it's a quick meal to cook.

How do you like to fix your deer meat?


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

COVER REVEAL

 UPDATED SEPT. 2021

I started this story back in 2008. Go here to read my post about it.

That's a long time to be working on a book, but it has been a labor of love. They say that your first story shouldn't be published, that it is a practice of sorts. Well, instead of not publishing this book, I edited, changed and continued to add to this story down through the years.

I have three versions saved on my hard drive. One is 21,000 words, one is 28,000 words and one is 31,000 words. Thanks to one of my writing buddies, Max Price, it is now over 56,000 words. So, although a short one, I can now classify it as a novel. Max convinced me to try and write the added words needed to make it into a novel. His encouraging words gave me the confidence I needed.

This story started very early in my writing career. It came from a writing prompt. They said to take the book nearest you and take the first sentence and start your story. The book next to me was Christy. I love that book and have read it numerous times. It just so happened that it took place during the same time my grandparents got married. I was into genealogy and family history at the time, so I thought I'd write a fictional story loosely based on my grandparents. 

My only fear is that family members will read it and say, "That's not what happened" or "How do you know that's what happened?" My reply will be, "I know. This is a FICTIONAL story." I'm sure they will see similarities and say it reminds them of our grandparents, but that is fine. I want the similarities to be there. This is my humble way of honoring them. I never knew my grandpa, he died a few months before I was born, but I grew up living next to my grandma. I only wish I had asked her more questions and learned more about her early life.

The title has changed numerous times. It is now Where the Stars Grant Wishes.

The names have been changed numerous times. 

And, that first line has changed numerous times.

But, I am finally ready to share it. 

Blurb from the back of the book:

In a time and culture steeped in superstition and old traditions, Jonathan and Lucy marry. The place is Blackberry Holler, which cuts through the Appalachian hills of West Virginia. The time is  1908. Lucy, a spirited young girl, marries Jonathan even though she secretly believes his ma is a witch. During the first years of her marriage, she discovers secrets and makes wishes on stars, but will she ever accept her eccentric mother-in-law's ways? Her life, the life of her unborn child and the life of her husband's young cousin are in jeopardy. Will her wishes on stars and the unique abilities of Jonathan and his ma be enough to save them?

For those of you who may worry that this is a story about witches, it is not. It is about a time and place different from today, and people who had certain abilities were often thought of as being witches, but were not -- they were just different.

Here is the cover.

An old-fashion cover for an old-fashion story. The cover and the few illustrations in the book were drawn by me.

 





I'm a little nervous about doing it, but I am going to push the 'publish' button and release it after Christmas. (It was released on December 28, 2020) It is be available on Amazon in paperback and e book. 

I've already written one that takes place in the 1940s during WWII. But, I'm thinking of writing a sequel that takes place in the 1920s. (I am working on that sequel that takes place in 1924 now) These books will feature the same families.

I hope you enjoy reading Where the Stars Grant Wishes as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here is a link to my Amazon page.

Download it or order the paperback. I think you'll like it. Then whether you like it or not, leave a review. Reviews, (good  and bad) help sell a book. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

PUMPKIN MUFFINS with CRUMB TOPPING

 I love muffins.

I love baking muffins.

I love sharing muffins.

Before Covid 19 came into the picture, I volunteered at our senior center. My cousin and I, and sometimes Charley, conducted craft classes every Wednesday. We really enjoyed it and so did the seniors.

Almost every Wednesday, I would also bake something and bring it to the center. Usually it was muffins of some kind. 

Today I baked Pumpkin Muffins.

Here is the recipe:

Muffin Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of self rising flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup of oil

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree

2  large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup of chopped nuts of your choice (I used hickory nuts)

CRUMB TOPPING:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 up granulated sugar

1/4 cup of light brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

6 Tablespoons butter, melted


Pumpkin muffins Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 15 muffins, so prepare a second muffin pan in the same manner. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together until combined. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and milk together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the chopped nuts and then fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
  3. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them almost full.
  4. Make the crumb topping: Mix the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice together until combined. Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form. Spoon crumbs evenly on top of the batter and gently press them down into the batter.
  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for an additional 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan.
  6. For mini muffins, bake for 11-13 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Ingredients for muffins
     
    ingredients for topping
     
    fresh from the oven


I love eating muffins!
Yummy!