Monthly Archives: July 2012

Book, er, Movie Review Monday – Act of Valor

I have a confession to make. I haven’t carved out nearly enough time the past couple weeks to read and I’m only about a third of the way through the book I selected for this review.

So no book review today. Instead, I thought I’d talk about a movie I watched recently and didn’t expect to like.

Act of Valor.

This is a war movie. A guy’s movie. Or so I thought. The blurb for this movie says this:

“A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey.”

Sounds like a guy-flick, right? Wrong. This movie is all about defining heroes and, being a romance writer, I’m all about heroes. Don’t misunderstand me. This also has the ugly side of conflict. There are things I didn’t want to see, but even more that I did.

This story was derived from real events that real SEALS dealt with.  Not only that, the SEALS in the movie were not actors. They were active-duty SEALS. I read an interview where the directors said they originally planned to use actors, but these guys were so dynamic, they put them in the roles instead.

That strength showed in their intensity and focus under fire. It showed in the cadence of their voice, in their familiarity with the terminology, in their devotion to family and to country.

I decided after watching this movie that devotion is what defines heroes and I was completely mesmerized. I could not tear myself away.

So, if you don’t mind the action, I recommend this movie as the most realistic look at what it takes to be husband, father, friend, and Navy SEAL.

And many, many thanks to all those who serve. Wow.

Babooshka, come!

This year my mum celebrated her 80th birthday by throwing herself even deeper into fund raising activities for The Chernobyl Children’s Life Line, a charity founded in 1991 to support the children horribly affected by the nuclear power disaster. She is absolutely amazing, tireless and may I say, fondly of course, sneaky? I mention this because a few weeks ago I found myself suspended in mid air hanging only by a thin rope; then whizzing around in a small car while being tossed a hundred feet above the ground, all the while screaming my lungs out as I hurtled toward the ocean, all of which was fondly caught on photograph by said mum. 

Why the ordeal? Because mum persuaded me to be a ‘buddy’ for the day to a group of children who come to the UK once a year from Belarus for a four week recuperative break, away from contaminated food, water and air. This respite helps boost their immune systems and makes a real difference to their health and lives adding up to two years to their anticipated life span. In light of that, how could I refuse?

But a few hours later, I sort of lived to regret my decision. For I was to be a ‘buddy’ during their day at the fairground. It started off well enough: candy floss, win a duck, toffee apples, slot machines … but then the children spied the rides and that was the end of my stomach as I knew it. From then on it was big dippers, some sort of helicopter ride that not only spun around generally but the individual cars spun too – in the opposite direction 😦  To cries of “Babooshka, come!” I was dragged to the next instrument of torture. The big dipper, located on the very edge of the sea, a hell ride during which I feared more than once an intimate acquaintance with Neptune was imminent. Then on to an obstacle course that involved my height-fearing self bouncing on an inch wide rope to get safely from one landing stage to the next – if you look closely at the photo, on the left (above the pier pressure signs)you might just see me clinging with relish to a landing station pole while my little charges continued to scramble around like fearless monkies born to the task. I grabbed only a brief respite before more cries of “Babooshka, come!” spurred me on to the next round of insanity. Thankfully, a friend’s small son took pity on me and we finished off the day with a nice, stomach settling ride on a merry-go-round.

It was the best fun, though, and the spirit and courage of those children humbled me. In her The Big Green Machine post, Lavada mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt’s edict to “everyday do something that scares you”. Those rides scared the pants off me, but I felt good that I didn’t bottle out. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Next year I want to make it to the second level of that obstacle course. 

Loads more photos of the children enjoying their trip are on the charity’s Facebook page.

The Big Green Machine

I’m back to what Eleanor Roosevelt said. “Everyday do something that scares you.” Tackling the big lawnmower scared me.

Note: This thing doesn’t have a steering wheel. And, worse it doesn’t have a brake. And, it goes fast and faster.

We have a lot of area to mow. Okay so we have two big lawn mowers. But, I haven’t mown a lawn since I tried it when I was around 20 years old and Jack told me to forget it. Like forever. Hey I should have taken better notes on how to get out of yucky jobs. I might have gotten out of cleaning the toilets. ☺ Yeah like that would have happened.

Anyway I was stressing over not being able to do more around here so Rick (son) gave me a short lesson and away I went. I did the whole front, about maybe ¾ of an acre. I was so proud I’d have popped a button if I hadn’t had on a tee shirt. I did hit one tree but reasoned that there were a few others that looked like they’d been hit at one time or another. And, I missed a few spots but all in all, it was a pretty good job.

Before you think I’m kidding about a lot to mow. This picture is the middle sized area. The one I mowed was bigger and of course had those tree’s. Wonder why a condo is looking better and better? I’m beginning to grit my teeth when people tell us what a beautiful place we have.

There’s still 3 acre’s up back but that will have to be done with the tractor. It’s easier in that it has a steering wheel and a brake. I’ve only driven it a short distance. Another mini lesson from Rick. But at least I didn’t do what Kris (daughter) did. She hooked the bucket on the gate coming up from the barn. Linda and I stood there with our mouths open waiting for her to take out the fence. But she recovered nicely and no damage done unless you count her rapid heart rate.

It’s taken two days for me to recover and my hands are still a little tingly from gripping the bars so hard. At my age I think I’ll shoot for something scary every week instead of every day.

Hot Chicken Salad

Hot Chicken Salad doesn’t sound as appetizing as chicken and rice casserole, which is how I think of this recipe. This is my comfort dinner. It’s quick, easy and very yummy! Ummm,  what it’s not is lo-cal. Just giving you fair warning. 🙂

Hot Chicken Salad (for 13 x 9 pan)

Combine in large bowl:

  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 2 12.5 ounce cans of chicken, drained
  • 3 and 1/2 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mayonaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Mix together and spread in 9 x 13 pan. Top with cheddar cheese and slivered almonds. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.




“C” is for Candy by Valerie J. Patterson

When I was a kid there was a store a couple blocks from my home.  Kesslings Drug store.  It was a grand old store.  Hardwood floors worn and darkened with age.  A magazine rack tucked away at the back of the store.  An old fashioned soda fountain and counter with the little silver stools that spun around and around.  And a penny candy counter with the little brown paper bags to put your purchases in.

Recently, I was reminded of this little haven from my childhood when a friend and I were discussing tastes and flavors from the past.  I mentioned Tangy Taffy.  This was a foot-long bar of pulled taffy that came in a wide variety of mouth-watering flavors like Cherry, Grape, Watermelon, Strawberry, etc.  My favorite was the strawberry.  The point about Tangy Taffy was that it was deceptively sweet before it got eye-wateringly tart.  I loved this stuff.

Another favorite of mine as a kid was the edible lipstick.  Now this was an awesome invention in confection.  It came wrapped in gold foil, with about half an inch exposed, and resembled a tube of lipstick.  If you licked the top and spread it across your lips, it actually left behind a streak of what I would call hooker-red sugary color.  If it actually dried on your lips, they became rather stiff.  This stuff tasted wonderful—unlike the real thing, which rather tastes like one would imagine an old tire would taste like were one to actually lick an old tire.

One of my husband’s favorites as a kid were the boxes of candy cigarettes.  These were long sticks of bubble gum wrapped in a piece of paper that resembled a real cigarette.  If you blew into the cigarette a puff of ‘smoke’ would actually filter out.  Isn’t it amazing that they sold these things and no one actually banned them out of fear little kids would become addicted to smoking?  Neither my husband nor myself are smokers and yet, this was a rather novel piece of candy.

And let’s not forget the wax mustaches and lips that tasted great for about ten minutes at which time the wax became unbearable to chew any longer.  And speaking of wax, what about those little soda bottles filled with sugar water in a variety of colors?

Or the candy coins wrapped in gold foil?  Or those long sheets covered in candy dots—pure sugar!  Oh and another favorite—Black Jacks!  The black, white, and pink striped pieces of taffy that had a very hard to describe but rather delightful taste of anise and spearmint rolled into one.  Razzles—the candy that magically changed into gum!  Giant Swedish Fish!

All of these things could be bought with a penny.  I’d take a quarter with me and come home with a sack of delights I would munch on then hide in my sock drawer hoping my sisters wouldn’t sniff them out, and rob me blind.

Kesslings is still there.   You can still buy a brown paper sack of penny candy, but it’ll cost you a lot more these days.  The cherry cokes are just as delicious, and still made the old fashioned way.  Sadly, the candy lipsticks are now crunchy sticks of tart candy that don’t leave behind any color.  They don’t make Tangy Taffy any longer, which really is very sad.  My husband recently bought me a package of Razzles and they were almost as good as I remembered.

My oldest sister still lives in my hometown.  When her son was little, I took him to Kesslings.  As my feet walked across the hardwood floors, I was transported into a simpler, more magical time—my childhood.  Never lose the flavors of your past.  They make you who you are, what you remember, and what emotions you feel.  Be open to new flavors, new memories, and new nuances of yourself.  There’s no better way to go through life than by tasting it.



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Wow, has this last month gone by fast!! We are busily getting ready for our county fair. With the grandkids over baking a lot this past week I thought I’d share a family favorite of ours with you. This bread … Continue reading

Happy Monday!

Go me for remembering that it’s my day here at the blog. Sometimes the old noggin thinks I have the third Wednesday (sorry Nancy) instead of the third Monday, so I’m quite proud that I remembered.

I hope you all had a nice weekend and that the month of July is treating you well. I know some of the UK friends and Pacific Northwest friends here have had an abnormally cool season. You could sure come on over here to sunny Florida and I’d be glad to share some of out 90-100 degree days with you! We’d have a popsicle and stick our toes in the sand. Maybe even take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico that’s usually as warm as bath water.

Here’s a cool drink recipe to keep you from knowing (or caring) what the weather may be:

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 lemon cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 orange cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 lime cut into ¼ inch thick slices
For syrup, in a small saucepan combine sugar, water and the 4 end slices from the lemon, orange and limes. Bring to boiling, stirring till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.
Squeeze juice from cooked fruit slices into the syrup, then discard.
1 750 ml bottle dry red wine, chilled
2 cups of carbonated water (I use lemon or lime flavored, but you can use plain)
2 TBS brandy (cheapest you can find!)
In a large pitcher combine syrup, wine, carbonated water, brandy and remaining fruit slices. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Make approximately 6 (8 ounce) servings