The Queen’s On a Diet: A Real Life Fairy Tale


Once upon a time, the Queen of the castle felt most chubby. She stopped asking her magic mirror if she had gained weight, because it became increasingly apparent that the mirror had a bad attitude, so the Queen punished the mirror by using off-brand mirror cleaner, just until he remembered his place.

The reason the Queen was sure she’d gained weight was obvious. Her queenly robes and gorgeous ball gowns were way too tight, and verily she was unable to fit into her royal Spanx. It even seemed her crown itself was a bit snug. Soon, the Queen was unable to wear anything except the Royal Yoga pants. And oh, did the Kingdom suffer because of it.

The Queen consulted instead her royal diet advisors. For a time, she convinced herself that Ye Healthy Choice dinners, though full of sodium managed to taste much like the wood in the fireplace, so that’s where the rest of them went.

Next, the Queen tried Smart Ones dinners, because she was placed under the spell of the bright red cartons that promised delicious lasagna and decadent desserts with no immediate consequences or calories. Unfortunately, the Queen was a regular sized person, and not a two-year-old baby as the portions recommended, and the two bites of chicken buried under the semi-frozen broccoli made the Queen throw up a little in her mouth. When the Queen finished her Smart Ones, she felt empty and sad, and to console herself from the loss she celebrated by inviting the brothers Ben and Jerry over for a late night party. Though the King also had affection for the popular brothers and their delightful Chunky Monkey potion, he invited them back to visit when the Queen could fit in her gowns again.

There seemed to be no end to the Queen’s desperation. A sparkling fairy with six pack abs and shiny teeth convinced the Queen that her magic shakes would too transform her into a pretty fairy as well. After a couple of weeks of the magic shakes and intense push ups and unflattering yoga positions, the Queen discovered that exercising sucked and the shakes tasted ever so much better if the magical Ben and Jerry’s concoction was added to the mix.

Finally, the Queen decided that she was done with dieting and just bought some bigger ball gowns. Ben and Jerry visited the castle so often it seemed like they were more family than friends, and everyone lived happily ever after, until the next time the Queen’s ball gowns shrank.

Torture for Breakast.

Tina Bausinger:

Haha! I don’t know that I’ve experienced this specific smell with Cheerios!

Originally posted on afroirox:

I try to be a cool mom every once in a while. Not too often, because I don’t want my kids getting confused and thinking that we’re friends or something. We’re not friends, The Destroyer. Playing a Mortal Kombat together does not a friendship make. Especially since I rip you to shreds every.single. time. Bwahahaha. Raiden wins.

Evil laugh aside, I thought that I’d be completely unlike my own mother and get my kids the junk cereal of their choice as a treat. That’s a cool mom thing to do, right? They chose Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which I felt was a bit of a cop out. I mean, CTC is pretty close to Life cereal, and I wouldn’t put Life in the complete junk category. I couldn’t believe it. What kind of kids do I have? I was like, “You guys, how about Coco Puffs? Froot Loops? (Called such because to…

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Living in the South: Creekside


It's pictures like this that inspired our own creek visit.

It’s pictures like this that inspired our own creek visit.

A couple of weeks ago I innocently asked my cousin Rachel if we could visit the creek she’s always talking about when we visited.

Let me tell you something: the Bartons and Hignites take such a request SERIOUSLY. Before I knew it, we had three cars, two trunkfuls of BBQ supplies, rafts, and other sundry creek essentials piled to a precarious capacity. The girls, Mancub and I showed up with nothing but the 110 SPF sunscreen I found especially for my skin tone: pale Irish vampire. This is a necessity if we don’t want to end up the shade of red usually reserved for fire hydrants or Target insignia.

It’s not that we MEANT to be a pack of freeloading panhandlers. We just didn’t know what we were in for. We thought we’d show up, swim around for a couple of hours in the hot Missouri sunshine and be done with it.

Oh no my brotha.

Instead, we were able to intertube, eat a giant feast, and even jump off a bridge. That took some persuading on Rachel’s part. I wasn’t sure that the good people of Missouri were quite ready to see my over 40 self in all my glory dangling off the precipice over the roaring waters.

I’ve seen footage of this event, but I’ve paid big bucks to have it burned.

I can’t describe how graceful I looked as I sank like an anvil to my death. I lived to tell about it, but just barely. When Rachel was able to take a breath (not because she was drowning but because she was laughing so hard), she offered her assistance (she’s always nice to the elderly) as I hobbled from the water like a wrestler who just had his man parts handed to him. I’m sorry but that’s what I looked like: my hair piled in a wild nest suitable as a habitat for local wildlife as I navigated over the jagged rocks barefoot, searching for the beach in my blinded state, the subzero creek water still swishing through my ears in a deafening roar.

It was super fun. I’m serious though. Rachel is the ONLY one who can talk me into such craziness.

Did I mention that right before I hurled myself toward my icy death, much like Rose on the Titanic, Rachel asked me “What are you thinking right now?”

All I had to say was, “I’ll tell you exactly what I’m thinking…” and Rachel spit beer all over a small child who was innocently wading nearby. Paying for the poor kid’s therapy is really the least she can do.

After the jump, we all gathered around the coveted picnic table (there are only a few, and Uncle Gene staked ours out with all the vigilance of his Army Reserve training.

Would you fight him for a picnic table? I think not.

Would you fight him for a picnic table? I think not.


In seconds, the table top was covered with every kind of snack ever created, including Aunt Mollie’s freshest produce, sliced and ready to go. SOOOO good. Our Redneck Hotdog is pictured below.

Top it with freshly sliced tomatoes and onions and...cilantro?

Top it with freshly sliced tomatoes and onions and…cilantro?

Paul didn’t let the “No bbq grills allowed” rule stop him. He grabbed a spare tire rim, filled it with bbq coals and BAM. Hot dogs that were just as delicious as if Bobby Flay himself materialized to tape his cooking show. It was pretty ingenious.


Even though our party was prematurely rained out, we still were freaking exhausted when we returned to the hotel. I felt like I had just been through rigorous exercise. On second thought, I really had.

Thanks family for the memories! I can’t wait to do it again.

10 Books We’re Looking Forward to in July

Originally posted on Cheshire Library Blog:

How’s your summer reading going – need some fresh ideas? Well you’re in luck!

Every month, librarians from around the country pick the top ten new books they’d most like to share with readers. The results are published on One of the goals of LibraryReads is to highlight the important role public libraries play in building buzz for new books and new authors. Click through to read more about what new and upcoming books librarians consider buzzworthy this month. The top ten titles for July are:

  1. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  2. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
  3. The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
  4. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  5. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
  6. World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III by Ben H. Winters
  7. California by Edan Lepucki
  8. Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal
  9. The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by…

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My comfort food favorite…no bake cookies

Tina Bausinger:

These are SO GOOD. Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

Originally posted on all things messy...:

photo (3)

Apparently I can’t be bothered with wax paper either

So last night I had a full blown food breakdown and broke all of my own rules…I made spaghetti (just noodles, sauce and Parmesan cheese, I can’t be bothered with meat apparently) and then I had a HUGE craving and made my all time favorite – No Bake Cookies.  I would venture to guess that most of you have had these before, a kind of childhood right of passage I would say.  The simple ingredients, short cooking time and divine flavor are a cooking trifecta in my book!

No Bake Cookies

1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)

1/2 cup butter (I used margarine…and yes I know it’s bad for you – I’ll try coconut butter next time)

2 cups sugar

4 TBS cocoa powder

3 1/2 cups Quick Cooking Oats (I used 4 cups)

1/2 cup Peanut Butter

2 tsp…

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5 Tips for Traveling With Teens

I'm including this picture to show you a few of my gorgeous (and tanned) relatives. Yes, I am related. Shut up.

I’m including this picture to show you a few of my gorgeous (and tanned) relatives. Yes, I am related. Shut up.

Enjoy this clip from National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase:

It’s that time of year again. Roadtrip! Nothing says summertime like voluntary confinement in a car for hours on end!  Because most of my family lives in Arkansas and we’re in Texas, it’s a necessary evil if we want to see them. Because I don’t want to end up like Clark Griswold’s family in Vacation, I have certain rules for the road. There is a certain freedom you achieve when your kids aren’t babies anymore–for example, nobody’s gonna poop their pants (unless you stopped at that food truck you passed, then all bets are off). However, traveling with teens can create a whole other set of joys and challenges. For your amusement, here’s 5 easy tips for traveling with teens.
1. Make sure everyone’s showered AND is wearing deodorant. Yes, this seems like an obvious thing, but sometimes with teens regular hygiene can be dicey at best, and nothing puts pain into hour three on the trip like the rugged aroma of the unwashed masses. Unless, of course, you’re recreating Civil War America and want pure authenticity then go for it.
2. Crank up the tunes. I always think that the driver has first dibs, unless of course I’m not driving, then I institute the “oldest person picks” rule. I like the Eagles channel on iTunes. I feel that it’s my duty as the most musically educated (ok, except for Jody and Sarah but who’s writing this blog anyway?) to spread my knowledge of 1970s rock to the next generation. The Eagles, The Beatles, pretty much any band that represents a bird or insect if up for grabs. I also love me some “Sweet Home Alabama” type music. I see it as my duty. They can’t learn it all from Rock Band. Take some responsibility, parents.
3. If music gets old, have an audio book handy. We listened to “Insurgent” on the way last time. It’s the second book in the “Divergent” series. Good stuff, and Mancub didn’t mind. He actually turned it back on after a pitstop.
4. Take a few short breaks and let everyone switch seats. Those long teen legs need to stretch out periodically, preferably NOT in my back.
5. Have lots of snacks on hand. The last thing you want to happen is to break down on some deserted road. That’s how Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts, people. With Mancub’s appetite I can’t afford to take chances.I don’t have bumper stickers but if I did it would say “The cycle of cannibalism stops HERE.”
Be the change, people. BE. THE. CHANGE.

Women of the Bible: Pharoah’s Daughter and the Heart of Adoption

We know little about her, not even her name. But the daughter of King Menephtah and Queen Isinefer-t is famous for one act: her benevolence. Attended by her maidens, she went to the river to bathe and instead found a son. Exodus tells the story this way:

Exodus 2:5

Then Pharoah’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. Then his sister asked Pharoah’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharoah’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying “I drew him out of the water.” 

Ok, I’m not going to ignore the horror of the situation. The reason that Moses was put afloat in the first place is that the Pharoah had ordered all Jewish boy babies to death. The fear was that the slaves would overrun the Egyptians and revolt. So besides the atrocity of slavery, the Pharoah was also participating in a mass genocide.

Still, I cannot ignore the heart of the princess. By bringing the baby into the palace, the unnamed girl risked her own punishment by directly opposing her father’s laws. And, knowing Moses was Hebrew, he was not simply added to the servants. He became family. By growing up in the royal household, he learned the innermost workings of the politics of the day. In the end, Pharoah’s daughter rescued the baby who would be the man to take down the whole country, a clear example of the sovereignty of God. Even when the night seems darkest, He is always in control.


On Camping in Memphis and Graceland: A Real Life Fairy Tale


Gather round, children. I’m gonna tell you a scary story by the campfire tonight. Once upon a time, way back in the 1980s when men were hairy and women bought Aquanet by the gallons, a family decided to go on a vacation to Graceland, the home of Elvis. Elvis was indeed a King, The King of Rock ‘N Roll, and was loved by many women, especially Southern women, for his silky voice, his swivelly, scandalous hips and his love of pompadour hair styles. Sadly, the vacation was a pilgrimage to Elvis’s graveside as well as his home, because The King died prematurely on his golden commode, because of his love of magic pills and peanut butter and banana sandwiches. God rest his soul.

So the family, Mom, Dad and three wild hellion girls, left their cozy little cottage on Highland Street to visit Elvis’s castle which was famous for its tasteful decor and many televisions. But alas, the family, though hard-working and upstanding citizens of the kingdom of Springdale, were poor in coin but rich in love for one another. And so, to err on the side of the thrifty, the Queen and King of the household deemed that the family, to save some gold, would camp in the great outdoors and experience the wild Memphis forest rather than stay in Ye Comfy Inn. And oh, the choice was made.

Don’t be afraid, dear children, when I tell you that the tent the family constructed was of shaky nature, and despite the Queen’s liberal spraying of the Deet perfume, the mosquitos of abnormal size dined on the little princesses all night. Despite the fact that the King had inflated swim rafts from The K-Mart Shoppe, the oldest princess in particular felt nothing but a hundred jabs of the stony Memphis soil underneath her unwashed head.

Although the King of the family had at one time been a policeman in the United States Air Force and was very manly and feared by many, the oldest princess was not reassured that the entire family would not be put to death by the countless caravans of rouges who commenced to participate in an illegal activity of  drive-through shootings as the KOA Camp the family stayed in was in an area of town that was known to be inhabited by such ruffians. But the night flew quickly and the day dawned bright and new and the family, though slightly anemic and very ill-tempered, were not so worse for the wear.

Before the oldest princess knew it, there it was! The King’s mansion in all its glory! And although the family had to stand in a very long line for many sweat-inducing and hours of dehydration, they too had their turn to tour the fabulous palace of promise. The oldest princess was especially impressed with the King’s “Jungle Room” which encapsulated the understated decor of the 1970s and had apparently been the doom of many wenches of Loose Moral Values.

After taking pictures with King Elvis’s Pink Coach, the family dined at Ye Olde Soda Shoppe and this time, in spite of the King’s tight wallet, the whole family enjoyed a cool room at The Beste Western Inn, and to the soothing sound of nearby gunshots, enjoyed a restful night’s sleep before heading home in their giant Ford station wagon with no air conditioning, their sunburned legs sticking merrily to the blue vinyl.

The end.


So You Want To Make A Living Writing? 13 Great Truths

Tina Bausinger:

Bob Mayer’s advice at the DFW Writers’ Conference is one of the reasons I published my first novel. The guy knows his stuff!

Originally posted on Write on the River:

IMG_1494This is the flip side of my 13 Harsh Truths post of 29 April.

It’s a great life. I’m my own boss. I wear shorts and t-shirts to work, which is in my house. I sit at my desk with a great view of the TN River with a blank stare, drool running down the side of my mouth, and I’m working. Well, not really. Because no one’s paying me for my great thoughts. They’re paying for my writing.

I’ve been doing it for over a quarter of a century and here are some Great Truths I’ve learned about making a living as a writer.

  1. You can. You constantly hear “No one makes a living writing novels.” I’ve heard it for decades. In 2012 I was at a conference where I gave a keynote, then was listening to another keynote speaker saying “Don’t quit your day job”. And it started…

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Whiskey Peach Cobbler: A New Addiction


You know what makes regular peach cobbler even more mouthwatering? That’s right, whiskey.
No, you don’t consume the whiskey in the process of assembling the cobbler (although if you take a sip or two I won’t judge). I’m not a fan of whiskey normally–I prefer red wine, myself. But there’s something about how the whiskey and the peaches and the sugar all coalesce that really is just plain magic. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll see. Within seconds you’ll be a believer, and that’s a FACT, Jack.

Whiskey Peach Cobbler
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp. whiskey (for this last batch I used Crown)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 stick butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt the butter and spread it in the bottom of a glass baking dish. In a bowl, mix the peaches, sugar, vanilla and whiskey. Pour the peach mixture in the baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda together. Add the milk last, only mixing until moistened. Pour the batter on top of the peaches.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until brown and bubbly.