B: Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

It’s April! You know what that means. No, not spring. Although that’s an extra benefit. April – it’s the month of the A to Z Blog Challenge! And on that note, here we go. We’re off and running. This month I’ll be sharing some ‘Behind the Scene’ moments of my writing journey.

In yesterday’s ‘A’ post on my Vintage Daze blog, I talked about how items from antique stores inspired stories. But not all the vintage items that became my muse come from antique stores. Such is the case with my short story ‘Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.’

Growing up, we lived next door to two elderly ladies, Bea and Pauline. They died when I was in High School, and I got many mementoes from them to remember them by. Many of the pieces I chose were old pictures, postcards, and some cookbooks.

Fast forward – many years after those high school days! I was now a grandmother and turning to writing. I pulled out two small cookbooks, both from 1928, and decided to use them as a basis for a short story. I had absolutely no idea in mind about what I wanted to write. I only knew that it had to be set in 1928 and that I wanted to feature the two cookbooks in them somehow.

When I started researching 1928 to discover some historical snippet that I could use to place my story in time, I saw that the first loaves of sliced bread were sold that year – in Chillicothe Missouri. Since my Grandpa Jones grew up not far from Chillicothe, and I was very familiar with that part of Missouri from our visits there, I knew immediately that this is where my story was set.

Then I set about developing two characters. Luetta was the one who loved to bake. Her best friend, Amanda, was a flapper that would rather dance and have a good time. Piece by piece, the story fell into a plot, and my short story was born.

Here’s the start of Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

June 1928

Luetta fought back a flash of irritation as she heard the stream of incessant chatter headed in her direction. She placed one finger at her place on the page and looked up as her best friend swept into the kitchen, the fringe on her dress swinging in pandemonium. “Really, Amanda. Must you be so…vocal?”

“It appears so, my reclusive friend. To counterbalance your quiet demeanor as you hide away in the kitchen. What are you doing sitting in here on such a fine day?” Her fingers looped through the long strand of pearls draped around her neck in a fidgety manner that Luetta was familiar with.

“If you must know, I’m looking up…”

Amanda cut Luetta’s answer off with a dismissive wave of her hands. “Never mind. It wasn’t a serious question. I know how you are with your cookbooks. Don’t you know there’s more to life than being a drudge in the kitchen?”

Luetta’s mouth dropped open, aghast at the implication. “Hardly. I love cooking and baking and reading about it. Besides, I need to master these delicacies if I aim to become Mrs. Adams one day. Haven’t you heard that a way to a man’s heart is through the stomach?”

Amanda pulled out a cane-backed chair and dropped down in the seat. “Horsefeathers! That’s not going to be how I get my man. No dreary kitchen duty for me.” She stretched out a silk-clad leg and pointed her toes towards the tin ceiling. “With gams like these, I aim to catch a swell fellow that will hire me a maid for all this…scullery work.”

“Oh, posh. You even have anyone in your sights?” Luetta calmly closed her cookbook with only a small twinge of anger at the interruption. Once Amanda invaded a space, all future peace and quiet was a lost cause.

Stroking her sleek bob cut Amanda rolled her eyes and sighed. “In Chillicothe? This one-horse town? You’ve got to be joking. Although I’m wearing Father down. He’s closer to giving me the money so I can go to Hollywood. I’ll find my Prince Charming there. Once I’m a screen star and famous, like Lillian Gish or Clara Bow.”

Luetta’s gaze lingered on the small Taylor Book of Recipes sitting in front of her on the table. It came with the new candy thermometer Mother had purchased at the mercantile downtown earlier in the week. There were some interesting new fudge recipes she was simply itching to try out.

But, as had happened all their adolescence as they were growing up, Amanda with all of her enthusiasm dominated and Luetta had learned to follow along. Even though they’d graduated from high school – with honors nonetheless – and were both turning eighteen later that summer, the dynamics between the duo hadn’t altered. The decision to choose between the tempting new fudge recipes – all named after popular colleges – was postponed.

March Back Story – Memoir & Family History

Here’s a portion of the March Back Story issue, my monthly author’s newsletter.
To see the entire issue in a PDF, CLICK HERE. 
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BACK STORY – MARCH 2016

Happy March! I think I’m liking this bit about the groundhog not seeing his shadow! Instead of the iced in days we had in February this year, the trees are starting to bud out and Spring is in the air far earlier than usual. My white Iris, the earliest bloomers in my garden are already blossoming. The Bradford Pears are filled with an abundance of white froth. And the weeds are already thriving and trying to muscle in.

The theme this month is Memoirs & Family History. I’ve included some information for writing your own family histories – along with some special recipes from my Aunt Ida (given to her at her wedding shower in 1960.)

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!
Trisha Faye, texastrishafaye@yahoo.com

Aunt Idas recipes

The recipes featured from the 1960 wedding shower in Glendora, California are posted HERE.

Writing Family History

Here’s some tips from The Armchair Genealogist
A Lesson in Writing a Narrative Family History

If you are ready to start writing your family history book but not sure how to turn your research into an interesting life story then I have some tips to get you started. How do you write a descriptive, creative, narrative story about your relatives when all you have is a list of dry facts and documents to draw on? How do you turn your facts into a story about an individual you never met?

Believe or not before you begin writing your family history, I am going to suggest more research. However, this time, you may want to consider a few different sources. Up until now, you have sought out very specific documents that you can attach to your ancestors. Unfortunately, there will not always be a collection of documents to help identify your relative. Even with these documents in hand, you may need more if you want to write a narrative of your ancestor’s life. Below is a list of my favorite research sources for bringing to life the lives of an ancestor.

  • Interview the living -the first time you interviewed them you may have been seeking mostly facts, dates, and names. Re-address your living relatives with a different approach, this time, seeking out stories around daily events, traditions, hobbies and specific interests. Get to the root of who they were not just when they lived.
  • Turn to your digital library to find social histories and experiences of other people in the same given time and place.
  • Look to town and city histories during the period of your ancestors to help paint a picture of the community in which they lived.
  • Revisit the neighborhood of your ancestors to appreciate the kind of community they came from, who their neighbors were, and the struggles and strengths of their community.
  • Look to timelines of wars, natural disasters and epidemics to understand the world and local events your ancestors lived through.
  • Read about cultural customs including foods, music, social events and traditions of their homeland.
  • Fiction novels although to you may seem unconventional, can sometimes offer up a very detailed window into the lives of our ancestors. Many historical fictional novels were written with great care to insure historical accuracies. Writers invest a lot of time in painting a picture of the people of the time. These novels can be very useful in giving you a feel for the lives and perils of your ancestors through some major historical times and events.

Culling as much historical information as possible from all of these sources and weaving them with the biological facts of your relatives, will put you on your way to a creative narrative history that your family will want to read. Perhaps painting a picture of your ancestor where one may have never existed before.

Memoirs

From Writing & Selling Your Memoir, by Paula Balzer

On the differences between Memoirs and Autobiographies:

An autobiography is a biography written by the person who is in fact also the subject of the book. In other words, an autobiography is the entire life story of a particular individual. … Traditionally, autobiographies are reserved for individuals who are extraordinarily famous, since an autobiography literally spans an individual’s entire life …

A memoir has come to mean an autobiographical work that is generally more specific in nature or that encapsulates a specific period of time or an experience. … a memoir is not so much a “life story” as it is a “story of a life experience.”

On Memoir Hooks:

While most memoirs tend to fall into one of the following categories, I dare say it’s possible that every once in a blue moon, you’ll encounter’s one that, (gasp!), just might fall somewhere outside the general parameters … Here’s a closer look at what kinds of memoirs you’re going to find on the shelf at your local bookstore.

–Travel Memoirs and Spiritual Quests
–Food and Wine: Memoirs that touch the senses
–I’ll Take You There Memoirs
–I Will Survive Memoirs
–Love and Relationship Memoirs
–Memoirs of Exploration

Recommended Books & Web Sites

Writing and Selling Your Memoir, Paula Balzar

The Truth of Memoir, Kerry Cohen

Writing Life Stories, Bill Roorback with Kristen Keckler, PhD

Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories, CarolLaChapelle

http://www.rd.com/advice/great-tips-on-how-to-write-your-memoir/

http://thewritelife.com/how-to-write-a-memoir/

https://www.standoutbooks.com/writing-memoir/

Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Topping

sweet potatoes

This tasty sweet potato dish is a perfect compliment to your Thanksgiving turkey (or ham). It’s not only delicious, but nutritious too. Sweet potatoes are high in many nutrients and vitamins. Sweet potatoes don’t have any fat or cholesterol (except for the additional ingredients that are in this dish), they contain fiber, high amounts of Vitamins A and C, and moderate amounts of calcium and iron. (See nutrient value here)

Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Topping

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla Topping

Mix sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, butter and vanilla together. Pour into a well-greased two quart casserole dish. Cover with topping. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°.

TOPPING:
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped

Combine ingredients and mix well to form crumbs. Sprinkle over the potatoes.

Serves 6

Its Thyme for Fall_cover

It’s Thyme for Fall!

This booklet contains 9 herbal blends, 33 fall recipes and 9 crafting recipes.

Get ready for your Thanksgiving meal with a Turkey Basting Blend. Herbed Olives and a Sweet Potato Soufflé complement your turkey, with desserts of Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pie and a Grated Apple Pie.

Want to get a head start on a few Christmas gifts? The Pumpkin Spice Latte Body Scrub and Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub are quick and easy, getting you ahead of the upcoming Christmas frenzy.

http://www.trishafaye.com/herbs_and_holidays

Pumpkin Delight – It’s Thyme for Fall

It’s Thyme for Fall! The fall chill drifts through the air, getting us in the mood for nights of fireplaces and hot chocolate, sweaters and boots, and of course…the season of pumpkin anything.

Pumpkin Delight

1 29 oz can pumpkin 1 13 oz can evaporated milk 1 cup sugar ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice ½ tsp cinnamon 3 eggs 1 box yellow cake mix 1 cup pecans, chopped 1 cup butter, melted

Whipped Cream

Directions.

Beat together pumpkin, milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and eggs.

Pour into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish that has been sprayed with vegetable oil.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixtures, then sprinkle on pecans.

Drizzle melted butter over the top.

Bake at 350ºfor 1 hour.

Chill. Cut into squares. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Its Thyme for Fall_cover Thyme for Fall brings you 9 herbal blends with thyme in them and 33 recipes for delicious and tasty delights (Cranberry Conserve, Thyme Lime Chicken, Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Topping, Spicy Pumpkin Molasses Pie…and more!). Also included are 9 crafting recipes such as Peppermint-Thyme Foot Scrub, Pumpkin Pie Lip Balm and Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub.
Only available here: http://www.trishafaye.com/herbs_and_holidays

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