Memories & Milestones: July 5 – 11

Here’s some dates to celebrate, from the new weekly column, MEMORIES & MILESTONES.

JULY 5-11

PT BarnumJuly 5, 1810: P. T. Barnum’s Birth Anniversary

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…” It’s the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, enjoyed by roughly 30 million people each year.

Much of the early success of this popular circus is due to a man born over 200 years ago. A consummate showman and brilliant promoter, he once said, “If I shoot at the sun I may hit a star.” He found his fame. PT Barnum’s legacy continues to bring laughter and enjoyment to boys and girls and children of all ages.

July 8, 1911: Nan Jane Aspinwall’s Grand Feat

In a year when American women didn’t have the right to vote yet, Nan Jane Aspinwall set out on a historic journey. She was the first woman to cross the United States on horseback. She covered 4,500 miles in 301 days. Why? Why, to deliver a letter from San Francisco’s mayor to New York City’s mayor, of course.

July 9, 1893: First Open Heart Surgery

With all the medical advancements this century, it’s amazing to realize that the first open heart surgery occurred well over a hundred years ago. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams operated on James Cornish, who suffered from a severe stab wound to his chest. The patient not only survived the surgery, but lived for many years following this groundbreaking surgery.

July 11, 1960: To Kill a Mockingbird Published

On this date 55 years ago, Harper Lee’s first and only book was published. To Kill a Mockingbird is a best seller, selling over 40 million copies since its publication. It was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and became an Oscar winning movie in 1962.

Overshadowing this milestone date, is Harper Lee’s second book, due out July 14, 2015. With a release date within days of this 55th anniversary, Go Set a Watchman is already a bestseller. Before it’s even been released.

This column is available for publication. Contact me at for details.

Dr Pepper and Pecans: It’s a Southern Thang!

Dr Pepper and pecans! What says ‘the South’ better than Dr. Pepper or pecans?

 Welcome to the last stop on the She Writes Southern Writers ‘Eat my Valentine’ blog hop. (Many thanks to Zetta Brown for her organizing and coordinating this blog event!)

Dr Pepper is the oldest major manufacturer of soft drink concentrates and syrups in the US. Its origins date back to 1885, to the central Texas town of Waco. The Dr Pepper Museum states that this native Texan had its beginnings at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store. The museum’s web site states that Charles Alderton, a pharmacist working at the drug store, created a drink to replicate the mixed fruity syrup smells permeating the soda fountain area. Many reports circulate about the origin of the name. The period was dropped from the name in the 1950’s. But very few dispute that Dr Pepper is a beloved favorite beverage, especially in the South.

Another Southern favorite is pecans. It’s reported that in 1906, Texas Governor James Hogg requested that a pecan tree be planted at his grave instead of the traditional headstone. He asked that the seeds be distributed throughout Texas, to make it a “Land of Trees.” In 1919, the Texas Legislature made the pecan tree the state tree of Texas. Pecan festivals abound throughout the south, usually from September through November.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Southern twist, here are two recipes using these Southern favorites.

I’m sharing two recipes for Dr Pepper Pork Chops. The second recipe is delicious and uses the traditional baked in the oven method. But, it takes three hours baking in a low oven. With Valentine’s Day on a Thursday this year, if you have to work and then come home and cook, that will make for a really late dinner. So, a quicker crock pot method is also supplied, equally tasty with a similar, but slightly different, sauce flavor.

dr pepper pork chopsDr. Pepper Pork Chops (Crockpot method)

4-6 pork chops
1 can Dr. Pepper
12 oz ketchup or chili sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in the crock pot, and cook on low for 6 hours or until the pork chops are cooked through. Remove the chops and whisk in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or flour) to thicken the sauce into a gravy. Serve over rice.
Compiled by Kim Conte for CafeMom Food & Party

Dr. Pepper Pork Chops Recipe (Oven baked method)
This dish goes together quickly, but it does take 3 hours to bake. It is well worth wait.

24 ounces Dr Pepper soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, sliced
6 center-cut pork chops

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a 9 x 13-inch pan, mix soda, brown sugar, garlic powder, cloves, ginger, pepper, salt, and onion. Cook 15 minutes; stir. Place pork chops in mixture, and cover pan with foil. Bake 3 hours
Recipe Source: Great Firehouse Cooks of Texas by Ron and Caryl McAdoo (Republic of Texas Press)
Reprinted with permission on cooking.

To complement the Dr Pepper Pork Chops, here is a Pecan Broccoli recipe for a delicious (and nutritious) side dish.

pecan broccoliPecan Broccoli
2 lbs broccoli
Black pepper
Fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup pecans
4 TB unsalted butter
1 finely chopped garlic clove

Remove and discard large leaves and tough portions of stem from broccoli. Wash broccoli, drain and tie securely into bunches with cotton string. Cook, tightly covered, in small amount of water 15 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain. Remove string. Arrange broccoli on warm platter. Season with salt, pepper and sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté pecans in butter until lightly brown. Add garlic. Sprinkle garlic butter and pecans over broccoli. Serve at once. Serves 6.  
From Taste of Texas Cookbook, edited by Joy Moffett Angel, Eakin Press

However you spend your Valentines Day, with a special someone, alone, or with friends, enjoy your day. And, Be a Pepper! It’s a Southern Thang!

International Quality of Life Month

something fabulousHooray! January is a month long celebration for International Quality of Life Month.

Sounds great. We all desire a quality life. Somehow a ‘quality life’ seems to always be a life just a little bit better than the life we are living. The quality life you envision for yourself may be one with more money, a better job, a nicer house, a newer car, more free time, more vacations, less free time …

Everyone’s idea of what components make up a quality life will differ. Most probably, each person will have a different definition of what their quality life is on different days, or during different phases of life.

Someone may be thinking a quality life is one with more money than what they currently have. Life will be better with fewer bills, more disposable income, or more financial security. Then a child or spouse becomes ill, or hospitalized, or worse. Suddenly, money doesn’t seem all that important. The life and health of your child or spouse becomes top priority.

Our defining characteristics of a quality life will change, sometimes day to day, sometimes year to year. But for today, for this moment in time, treat yourself to finding twenty or thirty minutes for yourself this week. Find a small slice of time where you can sit and contemplate your life, what is in your life, what isn’t in your life and what is important to you.

Make a list. Make a list of the blessings in your life that you want to keep. What would you like to bring into your life? What can go? What’s a low priority and what’s a high priority? Not according to what the world, your community, your business or your family thinks your life should be like. What is important to YOU for a quality life?

Jot some notes down. What steps can you take to move towards the quality of life you desire? You don’t have to have a massive overhaul of your life. Baby steps, that’s all you need. Take small little consistent steps that you can take one day at a time. A half hour here, an hour there. A phone call here, a date night there, a play date with your child, an hour writing the book you wish to write, an answer of ‘no’ to something you don’t wish to spend the time or energy on. They all add up these baby steps, by minutes and actions at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have the quality of life you desire, one created to your own desires that is YOU.

Celebrate life; celebrate Quality of Life Month!

Thank you, Muchas gracias, Danke

thank you 2Thank you, Muchas gracias, Danke, Merci beaucoup, Arigatô, Grazie, Gelic, Kamsah hamnida, Mahalo … a great big thank you to all who stopped by and supported my blog during 2012. (And ‘Tack så mycket’ to Viveka.)

WordPress displayed my 2012 blog report and visitors stopped by from over 140 countries! What fun! I received a refresher geography course browsing the map to see where all the visitors hailed from.

My top commenter’s were Louise (from Months of Edible Celebrations, currently off chasing dreams of another sort right now), Cindy (from Everyday Underwear – using her split personality to check in with two profiles, both of them in the top five), Viveka (from My Guilty Pleasures) and Ute (from Ute Smile).

Thank you all for your support in 2012. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013! Keep on celebrating life and all its delights.

Celebrate December – from candles to cats

candle heartDecember is a month of celebration. It’s also a month of remembrance. Sunday, December 9th is Worldwide Candle Lighting Day. Sponsored by The Compassionate Friends, this day unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of all children gone too soon.

View their site for more information:

December 11th is International Mountain Day. Celebrate life and celebrate the mountains in life; the physical mountains gracing our planet Earth, along with the emotional mountains that challenge our lives and strengthen us. Take a hike at a nearby mountain and reflect in its glory. Draw some mountains. Take an internet virtual tour of majestic mountain ranges.

On the 12th, celebrate Gingerbread House Day. Make a gingerbread house. Or, enjoy some gingerbread cookies in honor of the gingerbread season.

Tired of celebrating Christmas type holidays? Try your hand at something new. The 15th is Cat Herders Day. Meow! (Ouch!) That should challenge the stoutest of us all. I think I’ll go have a gingerbread cookie and contemplate my options.

Cookies and Christmas and Ties … oh my!

tie wreathDecember; it’s a month long celebration!

December is a month packed full of special celebrations: Hanukkah from the 9th to the 16th, Christmas on the 25th, and Kwanzaa from the 26th to January 1st.

A day of remembrance for Americans also falls in December. Pearl Harbor Day on December commemorates American lives lost on American soil and sea during World War II.

Lesser known holidays occur during this end of year month. Cookie Cutter Week is the first week from December 1st – 7th. Recipe Greetings for the Holidays Week is December 2nd – 8th. And don’t forget National Tie Month. Try out a tie wreath for the front door or mantle place.

November Winding Down … but still here!

November 27, 2012

Three more days … there are three days left to celebrate in November. Contrary to public retail opinion, the calendar does not contain three or more months of solid December consumerism. Other months are alive and well between school starting and the year ending! (Can you tell my “day job” is in retail and I’m burned out already?)

November 29th is Electronic Greetings Day. It’s quick and easy. Send a virtual card to someone you love. Brighten their day.

November 30th is Stay Home Because You’re Well Day. No, I won’t be celebrating this one, I can’t do that. But I will be there in spirit!

Other monthly celebrations for the month of November include, National Diabetes Month (always something to be aware of before we spend the next month ingesting more sugar than our bodies need), National Georgia Pecan Month (honored by that traditional Thanksgiving favorite – pecan pie), National Life Writing Month (can I use that as part of my Nano writing –National Novel Writing Month?), and National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (one of my favorites, I celebrate this delicious treat every month).

For the next three days, take a moment to stop, look around your life and celebrate the love and abundance that surrounds you.

(So, you ask … what does the photo of the crooked house in Poland have to do with November’s celebrations? Not a thing. Not a single thing. But it makes me smile. And in these frenzied holiday activity cram-packed days, anything that brings a smile to our faces is a good thing. Have a happy day!)

Buttons and Bridges and Nano … oh my!

I’m still celebrating life … every day! However, to allow more time for personal celebration, I will only be posting a weekly celebration blog, instead of the daily celebrations. Writing, and writing about celebrating life, is important to me. To keep my writing a priority, I’m scaling back some of my other activities, such as the daily posts. I’m continuing with my blogs, my Facebook pages, and expanding into weekly columns.

I avidly believe in celebrating every aspect of life we can. But, the truth still applies that there are only 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes, available each day. I’m sure many, if not all of you, have the same time crunch that impacts our decisions, our choices and our life.

November celebrates a month of writing; a month of intense writing. It’s NANO time! Or, National Novel Writing Month. Write a book in a month. The goal is to write 50,000 words during November. Take December off to celebrate the holidays and family. Then after the New Year, tackle the edits & polish it up. I’m working on Prissy & Paige, a little behind, but will be catching up this weekend. (Go DFW Rhinos, Go!)

Button, button, who has the button? November 16th is National Button Day. Buttons are fascinating, collecting buttons is fun. Celebrate the day by taking a look at some of these unusual button fun facts.

And, historic bridges; I love historic bridges and I’m not alone. Historic sponsors Historic Bridge Awareness Month. Their site states, “Historic Bridge Awareness Month is an opportunity to remind yourself that historic bridges are disappearing because the vast majority are not preserved and are being demolished and replaced at an alarming rate.” Check out their site at:

Celebrate today, celebrate your life, and celebrate all the goodness and blessings in your life!

Choosing to Celebrate Life

A Reason to Celebrate …. Who needs a reason? As Robert Brault stated, “There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.”

The opportunities to celebrate life surround us with their infinite possibilities. We simply don’t always see them clearly. Life happens; and, when life happens, life gets busy. We become blinded by the tasks, chores, and errands that infiltrate our daily lives. Laundry, cooking, dishes, yard work, birthday presents, lost dogs, kids to practice, dance, games, not to mention working to keep the family fed and sheltered.

We wait for preordained occasions to celebrate; birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving or Christmas. What about celebrating the thousands of special occasions that don’t come printed on our calendars?

For starters, we woke up this morning, we’re alive. Yes, the day may be packed from morning to night, there may be conflicts, arguments, tough meetings and not enough time to complete what we need to do. But, as a friend reminded me last night, it does beat the alternative, doesn’t it?

Is the day beautiful and sunny, filled with glorious blue skies and fluffy white clouds? Is there rain when the state needs it? Do you have the absolute best spouse, children, grandchildren or family in the world? (No, sorry, I have those!) Did a gorgeous blooming flower greet you when you walked outside? Are your cupboards full? Do you have more clothes in your closet than you can possibly wear through the rest of your lifetime?

I challenge you to take five minutes, sit down and make a quick list. What are you grateful for? What can you see from where you’re sitting that is a blessing? Add to your list through the day, or the week. Let’s celebrate the bounty in our lives. What do you choose to celebrate today? There are countless reasons to celebrate, if we examine our lives in closer detail. Celebrate life today!


Thursday, November 1st: This month is for you, Sue! November is BANANA PUDDING LOVERS MONTH. Or, ‘Naner Puddin’ for those with ties to the south.

Sponsored by Rodgers Banana Pudding, they say: “What sweet memories we share of family sitting down together eating their banana pudding dessert. Banana Pudding Lovers Month is a time for families to re-create the memories of their happy childhood, or start creating memories for your own children! Let’s pass the tradition from one generation to another.”

For a yummy banana pudding in a a 9 x 13 pan, check out this recipe from

Happy ‘Naner Puddin’ Day!

Previous Older Entries

June 2023

Past blogs