Book Review: What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)

March 2, 2010 reviews 4

About six months ago I traded ocean paradise (San Diego) for a mountain retreat (entrance to the Appalachian Trail).  In so doing most of my 1000+ books went into storage in my mom’s basement including my copy of Judson Mitchum’s Sabbath Creek.  I have to admit I am a procrastinator but I am also not the world’s best at organizing my books when it comes to storage solutions/moving.  So I am late in my February review for Georgia and unfortunately I have not found my copy of Sabbath Creek yet!  But I will….and you will be so happily surprised when I do as Judson Mitchum is a wonderful author!
What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should): Timeless Secrets to Get Everything you Want in Love, Life, and WorkInstead, I bring to you Ronda Rich.  Author of several books about being a Southern woman, sydicated newspaper columnist “Dixie Divas” and Georgia born & bred.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of her before as she lives just right down the road from me…oh, well!  Anyways, I’ve read What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should) now a couple of times.

I’m going to let you in on a big Southern girl secret…’s all in the water! Hah! Just kidding, actually according to Ronda Rich, if you are gracious, flirt with everyone, charm the socks off of every man from the youngest to the oldest and make a killer pecan pie, then you know the secret to being a Southern woman……Now, myself, being born in Beaufort,  South Carolina which is about as southern as they come, do know that it is about being gracious and kind to everyone and yes somewhat charming.  I prefer peach cobbler to pecan pie of which I will include the recipe below….ahhh, you will have to let me know if you try it! I don’t share this recipe with just anyone!  There are some gems in Ms. Rich’s book such as “Pretty is as pretty does” or “character and spirit are the true beauty of a woman” and my favorite –

In this life, we have two choices when adversity clouds our skies – to be bitter or to be better. Being bitter will choke the joy from our lives and darken our days spent on earth. Choosing to be better after our troubling experiences, however, will enrich our days and add peace and contentment to our lives.

Southern women know to accept that life is neither a fairy tale nor fair and get on with the task at hand.

Now see that last line is just where I started to have a bit of a problem.  Because I do have women family and friends who live all over the country who have met adversity and faced it with a grace unlike any I have ever seen.  It is not only women in the South who know how to be graceful under pressure or to be a “steel magnolia” I truly believe it is women all over who have an inner core of strength that defies all logic.  Yes, women in the South may flirt a little more, be somewhat more charming, cook with a lot more sugar and turn our tea into syrup but I believe women all over should stick together and not point fingers at each other or say one region is better than another because it can flirt more….that just seems somewhat pompous.  I give this book 3 out of 5 quills.  There’s some good points about being a woman, if you can get past the arrogance…..and I don’t even think it is an intended arrogance, but still it comes across to me as being there, and I’m a fellow southerner.  Let me know what you think if you read it, or if you’ve read it!  

Peach Cobbler

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 stick of butter
1 (28 oz) can of sliced peaches, undrained

Melt butter in 13 x  9 baking dish. In mixing bowl, coarsely mix 3/4 cup of sugar & 1 cup of flour.  Once butter is melted, pour peaches & juice into buttered baking dish.  Sprinkle sugar & flour mixture on top evenly.  Take last 2 tablespoons of sugar and spread on top of flour/sugar mixture. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until brown & bubbly.  Serve hot and with yummy vanilla ice cream!

Hint: Fresh peaches (from Georgia) can be used. When using fresh peaches, peel and slice them, sprinkling slices with an additional 1/2 cup of sugar. Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours prior to using.


Update on The Happiness Project

March 1, 2010 Uncategorized 3

As I shared with you on February 23rd during the Tuesday Teasers, my daughter & I have started The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In this book we are encouraged to set our own “Personal Commandments” or goals for the year. I did not begin in January, and it is not necessary to begin in January; however, I am starting at the beginning of my “Personal Commandments” list. Ms. Rubin encourages the readers to just jump right in to whichever month you have started reading. At the top of my list, as was at the top of her list is to “Be Gretchen” or “Be Stacy”….a lot of women can probably relate as we wear so many hats that sometimes our own gets lost in the shuffle and we forget what it looks like. I’m working on remembering my hat right now.

Also this past month, I added one more thing to my list of Personal Commandments and that was to Be Healthy. Thus I’ve started walking in the park for 20 minutes for at least 3 times per week, eating healthier, NOT eating quite as much of the sweets as I’m well-known for eating, and trying to take my meds like I’m supposed to. I do not want this blog to be an outlet nor a forum for my condition, but I do have multiple sclerosis. So the walking in the park has been really great, especially since we’ve had a few hours of sunshine here and there!

So, this next month for March I have to add another Personal Commandment. And I just figured out what it will be….I am going to get organized, room by room. It may take the whole month, but I’m going to do it! I have a few books on organization somewhere ……I just have to find them!

So that will put me at
1. Be Stacy
2. Be Healthy
3. Get & Be Organized

I hope you have had a relaxing Sunday!  I will try to be a good sport and say congrats to Canada for the Gold in Hockey today but on the inside I have to tell ya I’m biting my tongue really hard and I want to go and do a re-do of that overtime……LOL

It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.
G. K. Chesterton


Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

February 27, 2010 reviews 4

So if you had to describe yourself as a piece of candy, which one would you be?

In one of the sweetest, and I do mean literally sweetest books I’ve read in a long time, each chapter is titled with either a candy or cookie.  The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is filled with sweetness, and the main character, Josey, has described most of the characters in the book as a piece of candy.

The book opens with Josey, the unloved Princess of Bald Slope, North Carolina, opening her bedroom closet door to find Della Lee Baker, local waitress, sometimes prostitute, and newly found position of “fairy godmother” sopping wet in her floor blocking Josey’s way to her stash of candy, cookies & romance novels.  This of course does not sit well with Josey but what is she to do, she has never been one to cause a lot of trouble, not since her father passed away when she was 9 years old and she decided to stop being the town terror (of which no one in the town, least of all Josey’s mother, will let her forget).

Della Lee has chosen Josey’s closet to hide in while she runs away from her abusive boyfriend, but before Della Lee heads North she has decided to transform Josey’s life.  Josey is not so sure she needs her life transformed but ends up reluctantly going along with the plan.  Della Lee discovers Josey has been pining for a man for three years and begins to train her in the art of love.  Della Lee also knows that Josey has no friends, so she sends her over to the cafe at the courthouse where Chloe Finley runs “Reds” her great-grandfather’s sandwich cafe.  Josey and Chloe immediately become fast friends. And Chloe is by far my favorite character.  I don’t feel bad for sharing this as it happens early in the book and is not a spoiler at all….book lovers will definitely relate:

She could remember the first time it happened to her.  Being an only child raised by her great-grandparents on a farm miles from town, she was bored a lot. When she ran out of books to read, it only got worse. She was walking by the creek along the wood line at the end of the property one day when she was twelve, feeling mopey and frustrated, when she saw a book propped up against a willow tree.

She walked over and picked it up. It was so new the spine creaked and popped when she opened it. It was a book on card tricks, full of fun things she could do with the deck of cards her great-grandmother kept in a drawer in the kitchen for her weekly canasta game.

She called out, asking if anyone was there. No one answered.  She didn’t see any harm in looking through the book so she sat under the tree by the creek and read as much as she could before it got dark. She wanted to take it with her when her great-grandmother called her home, but she knew she couldn’t. The owner of the book would surely want it back. So she reluctantly left it by the tree and ran home, trying to commit to memory everything she’d read.

After dinner, Chloe took the deck of cards out of the kitchen drawer and went to her bedroom to try some of the tricks. She tried for a while, but she couldn’t get them right without following the pictures in the book. She sighed and gathered the cards she’d spread out on the floor. She stood, and that’s when she saw the book, the same book she’d left by the creek, on her nightstand.

For a while after that, she thought her great-grandparents were surprising her with books. She’d find them on her bed, in her closet, in her favorite hideouts around the property.  And they were always books she needed.  Books on games or novels of adventures when she was bored. Books about growing up as she got older. But when her great-grandparents confronted her about all the books she had and where did she get the money to buy them, she realized they weren’t the ones doing it.

The next day, under her pillow, she found a book on clever storage solutions. It was exactly what she needed, something to show her how to hide her books.

She accepted it from then on. Books liked her. Books wanted to look after her.

 And from that passage on I was hooked.  Anybody who would write about how books find us right when we need them and the magic of books, ahhh, that is an author I want to follow.  The twists and turns and the growth of Josey throughout this book is nothing short of magical.  There is no other word for it.  I’ve tried to thesaurus the word, but nothing comes close.  It is a treasure of a book and one that sits with you afterword like a good friend.  Oh Sweet Friends, read this book. You’ll be happy, and somewhat bittersweet, but mostly happy, that you did.  
The Sugar Queen is a Five Quiller!


The Happy Dance

February 25, 2010 Uncategorized 8

Well my fellow peoples, as you can see I have a new design & layout!!! Of which I am so very excited that I don’t think I’ve stopped doing the happy dance since my new design came online about 45 minutes ago…..I have to tell you friends, if you ever, ever, ever think of doing a redesign to your blog or a touch-up, or anything…go to Barbara at  Can you see what an amazing job she did on my blog! How creative she is…and that’s not all – when I contacted her earlier this week we set a tentative target date to finish around March 10th….it’s February 25th and she’s DONE!!!! Barbara works efficiently, professionally, oh so friendly, and when I was stressing this afternoon about a part I had no idea how to do in order to prepare for the install, she was so calm and reassuring.  I’ve looked at all the other sites she’s created & each one is unique & wonderful in its own way, that’s how I was sold on Barbara to begin with; but I have to be honest, (shhh, don’t tell) I LOVE LOVE LOVE mine the best!  (Is that like saying my child is the love of my life?…, who knew blogging could get so under your skin!!!!)

Ok you bloggers who’ve been doing this for some time – am I in a honeymoon period about blogging or will I be this obsessed in a year?!?


Waiting on Wednesday

February 24, 2010 Uncategorized 1

From the author of Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen comes a new story that our book club has chosen to read for March and I for one am so excited!  This book is scheduled to be released on March 16th.

In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world—no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes—which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

Is there a book that you are anxiously awaiting for? Ready to beat the doors down of your local bookstore?  Have you read any of Sara Addison Allen’s sweet, magical books? If not, oh my goodness, you should definitely read them!