Tag Archives: lucci the no smoochie poochie

I’m Back!

8 Jan

01-8-2013 IM BACK

Hi Folks,

It’s been a couple of months since you’ve heard from me. I attempted my first NaNoWriMo in November, but only got to about four thousand words. To be honest, I became overwhelmed, stressed, and depressed.  I began looking at all of my efforts in a negative light.

Exhaustive participation on social media sites did not translate into book sales. I made many friendships with fellow authors for which I treasure, however; the time spent tweeting  and posting to Facebook had taken my imagination hostage. When I sat down to write, I had nothing. Nada. Zilch. This went on for weeks.

I decided to step away from it all for a bit. No Twitter; no Facebook; no writing; instead, I baked and cooked and read and hung out with my family and my animals. I spent a lot of time working outside in the fresh air, appreciating the antics of my three pet goats and the nine adorably funny Guinea Hens that have newly adopted my front yard as their home. I rested. I remembered how grateful I am for my life and the wonderful people and experiences that fill it.

My children’s story, LUCCI-The No Smoochie Poochie was published on Amazon exactly one year-ago today, and I also embarked on building my author platform, so I thought it fitted that I claim my imagination back on this special anniversary. I’m up on the horse!

I followed constructive criticism and am having some of the illustrations in LUCCI revised, and I opened my NaNo story and went to work on it this morning.

Now, I’m posting to my blog. Whoopee! I’m still scared as hell, but quitting is not an option!

Jeff Goins wrote a similar post about stepping away from it all. Try it; you’ll be surprised. The nicest surprise I received was knowing that there were folks out there still supporting me, although it was not reciprocated for a bit.

Thank you friends, see ya’ll on Twitter and Facebook pronto!

Guest Post by Carlie M A Cullen- Ria’s Birthday Surprise


Hi Folks,

Week 2 of the HEART SEARCH: LOST BLOG TOUR is in full swing, and author, Carlie MA Cullen has been making stops on the tour doing GUEST POSTS, interviews and sharing juicy excerpts from the book.

Today Carlie is guest posting on my blog and, since I write children’s stories, I asked Carlie whether she had ever written for children.

Carlie’s reply: “I’ve only written one children’s story as an adult – until now. I’ve written one especially for your blog…”

Oh boy, a special kids story just for my blog; I am over the moon! Without further ado…

Ria’s Birthday Surprise


Ria jumped out of bed. She was so excited as it was her seventh birthday. She rushed downstairs into the kitchen to find her mum waiting to fix her breakfast. Opening her arms she said,

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” as she gave Ria a big cuddle. Ria grinned up at her.

“Thank you, Mummy. Where’s Daddy?” Ria asked stepping away and looking around.

“He’s gone to pick up Nanna and Poppa. They should be back soon so hurry and eat your breakfast and let’s get you washed and dressed,” she replied, placing a glass of orange juice and a bowl of cereal on the table.

Ria finished her breakfast in record time and dashed upstairs to get ready. Just as she finished pulling the tangles from her long brown hair, she heard the front door open. A familiar voice drifted up the stairs.

“Is the birthday girl up yet or do I have to go upstairs with my tickle fingers?”

Ria giggled and rushed to the top of the stairs. “I’m up!” she declared looking down at her dad. He looked like a giant from where she was standing and he had a huge grin on his face. She rushed down the steps and launched herself at her dad.

“Ooof!” The noise exploded from her dad as she knocked the breath out of him and Ria giggled again. “Happy birthday, rascal,” he chuckled. He put her down and she ran into the lounge where her grandparents were waiting.

After lots more cuddles and kisses and birthday wishes, Ria noticed a pile of brightly wrapped presents in all shapes and sizes, complete with ribbons and bows, on the floor in front of the TV. She gasped and her face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Are these all for me?” She asked excitedly, her eyes as big as a basketball.

“Go on, open them,” her mum said, chuckling at the expression on Ria’s face. Ria didn’t need telling twice and soon the floor was covered with torn wrapping paper as she ripped into each one.

“Thank you! Thank you!” Ria exclaimed as she uncovered each new gift. There was a pretty dress, the same colour as a summer sky, for her to wear at her party that afternoon, books, DVD’s, a doll, a board game, a CD and some other nice clothes.

At the very bottom of the pile was a very flat present which she hadn’t noticed before. She paused before picking it up and took some time feeling it before carefully tearing the paper away, a curious expression on her face.

Inside was a book. She turned it over, read the cover and gasped,

“It’s got my name on it!” she exclaimed. She opened the cover and to her surprise, the whole story was all about her and her family. Mum, Dad, her grandparents and even her dog, Misty, was in there. “Mummy, Daddy, look! It’s got all of us in here and Nanna and Poppa and Misty!”

Her parents moved closer so she could show them, smiling at her amazement. At the very end of the book was a message. It read ‘To our darling Ria, Happy 7th Birthday, lots of love, Nanna and Poppa xx’. Ria got up from the floor and rushed over to her grandparents, hugging them both as tightly as her little arms could.

“Thank you. It’s the bestest surprise present I’ve ever had!”

That’s an adorable little story Carlie; thank you for writing it for my blog! :0) 

Please take the time to pop around to other blog tour contributor’s sites, as Carlie’s been hard at work delivering unique interviews and guest posts for all involved on the blog tour. For instance, here’s an informative GUEST POST by Carlie- “Wading through the Publishing River,” over at Michelle Birbeck’s blog “Short Sweet and Snappy.” Madeline Dyer hosts an info-packed guest post about characterization. So please check ’em out; you’ll learn a lot.


Read Carlie MA Cullen’s bio, and visit the complete list of blog tour stops to catch all of the guest posts, interviews, excerpts, and ENTER THE FAB GIVEAWAY HERE.

Carlie, thank you again for stopping by to guest post on my blog and leaving us an adorable children’s story; I really enjoyed it and know my reader’s will too. 

Recipe for Chicken Pot Pie

11 Oct credit-blakesallnaturaldot com

credit-blakesallnaturaldot com

Hi Folks,

Today we’re doing a  RECIPE FOR CHICKEN POT PIE. We had our first 40 degree morning in Texas this week, and it made me think comfort food!

When a writer regularly posts nothing but recipes of late, you know she’s in trouble. I’ll tell ya, I’ve been really trying to segregate myself from social media (yeah, that’s not working) and the rest of my duties (Gee whiz, I’ve got 5 dogs and livestock, duties one cannot delay like the laundry or dusting), and I’m feeling a bit lost.

I’ve got two rough drafts of children’s picture books and I’ve sketched out the beginnings of a chapter book that I’m crazy excited about; yet the hours pass me by doing the ‘have-to’s’ and I never seem to get to writing more than a page or two at a time. Nothing’s going to congeal at this rate, and I’m terribly frustrated.

So. I. Cook. It’s my release. It’s been funny lately because I ask myself, “Have I posted this meal yet?” If I haven’t, I shoot the steps so at least I can continue to post on my blog.

One thing I do feel confident about is that I am a good cook, and the recipes I post are tried-and-true and worthwhile. So sit back, print out the links and try this one yourself. Fall is upon us and there’s nothing like a home-made recipe for chicken pot pie to warm the cockles of your heart. :0)

Here’s a great video for making pie crust from AllRecipes.com. It covers 7-steps and shows great tips to get a perfect dough, such as making sure your mixing bowl, dough cutter and ice water are all well-chilled before preparing dough.

I’m linking 2 pie crust recipes here for your convenience:

Here’s a basic pie crust recipe for a single pie.

I use a recipe that yields 6 pie crusts, which gets me 3 double-crust chicken pot pies; this way I have one for dinner and can freeze two meals for later. If you choose to use this 6 pie crust recipe, substitute the ‘lard’ for 1 Cup butter and 1 Cup vegetable shortening, and save yourself a lot of mixing by adding about 8 tablespoons of ice water to start, then mix adding more water 1 tablespoon at a time. [NOTE: This recipe can be mixed, leaving out the water, and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. To make 2 pie crusts, combine 2 1/2 cups mix with 5 tablespoons of water and you’re ready to go. This is especially convenient around the holidays, as you’ll have dough ready to go anytime.]

Ingredients for One Chicken Pot Pie:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves- cubed

1 Cup sliced carrots

1 Cup frozen green peas

1/2 Cup sliced celery

1/3 Cup butter

1/3 Cup chopped onion

1/3 Cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

2 Cups* chicken broth -*the recipe calls for less but I found this is better

1 Cup* milk -*the recipe calls for less but I found this is better

2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

6 Pie Crust Ingredients:

6 Cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 Cup butter -well-chilled

1 Cup vegetable shortening- well-chilled

Before starting: chill mixing bowls, pastry cutter (or 2 forks), fat, and ice water

7-Step Pie Crust: (for a great visual explanation please view the video.)

Step 1- combine dry ingredients

Step 2- Cut in fat- slice into small pieces before adding to flour mixture. Using pastry cutter or 2 forks, cut in fat, turning the bowl and scraping the flour into the center as you go. Work mixture until fat clumps are the size of small peas.

Step 3- Add liquid- sprinkle mixture with a little ice water 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix in the water gently using a fork. (Texture should look dry and crumbly. Test: if the mix sticks together in your hand it’s good, otherwise add another 1/2 Tbsp. and toss and test.) Don’t over work or add to much water to mixture.

Step 4- Refrigerate dough to rest- divide the mixture into balls and transfer into quart size zip lock bags, and press dough into disks. (2 crusts-2 bags). Refrigerate for an hour.

Step 5- Roll out dough- flour rolling pin and counter space. Unwrap disk and smush lightly with your hand to flatten. Roll outwards from the middle, rotating a 1/4 turn after every roll, go until no thicker than 1/4″. Place a pie pan upside down on the dough. Rolled dough should be 2″ wider than the pan (4″ for deep dish).

Step 6- Place dough in pan- fold the dough in half, then in half again, put point in center of pan, unfold, pressing dough into bottom edges of the pan. Fix any rips with a bit of water and press. (Of course, I’d come up with plenty of rips and tears for this presentation…Murphy’s law.)

Step 7- Trim edges- Use a paring knife and trim along pan edge. For the top crust, roll dough one inch wider in diameter and place on parchment-lined baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the dough is refrigerating, I start my chicken mixture.


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened. In essence, you’re making a rue. Remove from heat and set aside.

* This is when I blind bake the bottom crust. Any time you’re making a pie with moist fillings, it’s a good idea to blind bake it so it doesn’t get soggy. To do so, line the dough pan with parchment paper and place dried beans or pastry weights and bake for 15 minutes. Another option I learned about is to take a pie tin and prick it with a fork and place in pan as pictured here. Allow to cool before filling.

Step 4- The attached recipe calls for something different, but I add the chicken veggie mixture to the rue and mix. Once the blind baked dough is cool, add the mixture to the pies…

Tip: Always place your pies on baking pans, just in case a pie wants to boil over. :0)

…Step 4 cont’d- Cover with top crust and seal edges. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Step 5- Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

While the pie is cooling, I just wanted to remind you that you have every day until October 31st to enter the HEART SEARCH: LOST GIVEAWAY!

On the next cool evening, why not warm your family’s tummies with this easy recipe for chicken pot pie.


Bagels – Make Your Own Bagels – with Bread Machine Ease



Hiya Folks,

Don’t you just love bagels? As a born-and-bred New Yorker, Saturdays would start out every weekend with a baker’s dozen. As an adult, nothing really changed…except the water.

Good bagels didn’t exist when I lived in Florida because of the water. Sure, there was Einstein Bros Bagels but they just didn’t taste the same as a good ‘ole NY bagel. It was only until moving to Texas, and receiving a cast-off bread machine from my hubby’s mom, that I discovered I could make them myself.

The beauty about this recipe is that most of the work is done for you in the bread machine. You just need to measure out a small amount of ingredients, throw it into the bread machine and walk away to do something else for an hour and twenty minutes. I’ve looked around and most bagel dough recipes are similar. Here’s a BAGEL RECIPE for a Toastmaster Bread Machine, which includes the ingredients and steps, so all you’ve got to do is print it out when you’re finished reading this post. I will list the steps here for you now, so you will see that it’s a breeze and YOU CAN DO IT!

No bread machine? No worries. The related article below will show you how to make the dough from scratch.


Add ingredients in this order to the bread machine bucket: 1 Cup hot water, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 Cups bread flour, 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast. Add bucket to the machine, set on ‘dough,’ and start the process. The machine will mix, rise and knead the dough for you in about an hour and twenty minutes.

Place dough on a floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Then roll into smooth balls and make a hole in the middle with your thumbs and pull open an inch. Place on greased or silpat-lined baking pan, cover with cloth and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until they double in size. Beat an egg with a little water in a small bowl for an egg wash and put aside.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then add 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Once bagels double in size, place 2-3 bagels in boiling water for 3 minutes, flipping them half way through. Remove with slotted spoon and place back on baking pan. Brush with egg and sprinkle toppings of your choice. Try minced garlic, salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and onion flakes.

boil bagels

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until brown, and cool on wire rack.

This recipe makes 8 bagels. Slice them and freeze, and they’ll be perfect out of the toaster too. Enjoy!

Now that Football Season has started, why not checkout this fun recipe for the super crispiest chicken wings here?

HANDY TIP: I’m a home chef and can whip up fancy dishes off the top of my head, but for some reason I don’t keep basic recipes in my head, and I don’t have a lot of counter space to bring my laptop in the kitchen. I got tired of printing out recipes for often-used items, so I started taping them in the inside doors of my kitchen cabinets. (It’s clear that I do not live in the Taj-Majhal so forgive the rustic-ness.) My cabinets holds cake transfer images, a 7-step pie crust dough, and recipes for chicken pot pie, fresh flour tortillas, fajita seasoning mix, bread machine soft pretzels, and of course, BREAD MACHINE BAGELS.


Dag Nabbitt, I Have Texas Hair!

13 Sep Texas Hair, lucci the no smoochie poochie, dogs, bedtime story, children's book

lucci the no smoochie poochie, dog story, children's book, pets

This is my profile pic; the one on Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else that associates my friends and readers with me. Before you read on, I ask that you remember me this way because things have changed drastically!..

One of the first things I remember soon after moving to a small town in Texas close to 4 years ago was something Joy Behar said on “The View” one day. She mentioned a nation-wide poll that listed Texas as the “worst hair” state.

I recall saying, “Fabulous, I live here now,” but didn’t give the statistic more thought. Then, I soon became aware of some kind of a difference while walking through stores, parking lots, all around really. I noticed amateurish cuts, God-awful highlighting jobs, grown-out roots and pony tails…pony tails and hats. I promised myself that would never be me.

Take a look; Texas claimed two out of 13 of the worst cities in the country in a 2009 survey. “For the least hair-friendly cities, TotalBeauty noted a number of factors that contribute to frizz, dryness and other common hair complaints. These include humidity, hard water and a dearth of hair salons.”:

Donna L. Sadd

Unfortunately, the 2012 survey stayed the same.

Now, I’m a New Yorker who was used to plunking down $150.00 at the ‘beauty parlor’ for a color and a cut, more if it was time for highlights, the same in Florida. Yet, since moving to a ‘rustic’ small town in Central Texas Hill Country, I gave the 4 home-town salons a shot, but they were all sub-par. It’s just a different world out here, and I can attest for the “dearth” of hair salons.

It’s been such a slow process that I just had’nt noticed. The intense Texas heat found me cutting my hair short and I began coloring it myself. Let’s put it this way, after one showers and dresses then does farm chores, one needs another shower! It’s daunting and I guess somewhere along the line, something shifted.

I settled on a small neighborhood place that equates more to a barber shop than a salon, where I now pay (wait for it, wait for it) a WHOPPING $12.00! That’s if I drag my boney butt down to town to get it done; usually, I just trim my bangs over the bathroom sink. The one-woman shop owner is also the minister of the Korean church next door. I get a trim and a sermon all at once; now that’s one stop shopping!

I had always wanted to be an “Ivory Snow’ kind of girl, natural and make-up free, and I soon realized it out in this country. When my hubby and I get together with family, I’m the one in jeans and boots, hair up, no make-up (well maybe a tad of mascara) and they’re all face-painted, dressed up and acrylic-ed out. I shake my head; what’s the point? We’re out in the sticks for Pete’s sake and there’s no one to impress.

This stark reversal of mine found me feeling quite liberated, but lately it’s gotten a bit out of hand. Focusing full-time on writing hasn’t helped. I wake at 4:30 every morning so that I have some quiet time before my 3-mile morning walks at 6:30. I try to catch up on Twitter and Facebook so that I’ll be able to concentrate later on writing after I come home and get all 10 animals and a husband fed. Then I’m out in the goat yard for an hour or two cleaning up. By the time I get back in the house it’s noontime, and I get stuck in my pink Texas Longhorn ball cap that I wear on my morning walks.

Texas hair, lucci the no smoochie poochie, dogs, bedtime story, picture book

I’m beginning to think the “Great Grandma” is looking better than me.

Sometimes I can be found in my dilapidated cowboy hat feeding the dogs, doing farm chores, writing, cleaning the house, caring for the goats, writing, secretarial work for hubby, and writing.

Texas Hair, lucci the no smoochie poochie, dogs, bedtime story, children's book

It’s gotten so bad lately that I’ve regressed to pig tails!

Texas hair, lucci the no smoochie poochie, dogs, pets, bedtime story, children's book

Notice the roots? I went past Ivory Snow Girl, did not collect $200.00, and landed at Frump. I’ve become a statistic!

I only dare post shots from the back! Whaaaaah, I need a trip back to New York. :0(

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