Alabama Football: NFL Ready

By Jennifer Hallmark

Alabama versus Florida State. The game of the year. The decade. The century. By the time you read this, it will be just another statistic in the history books. Hopefully, Alabama was the victor.

But whether or not Alabama scored the most points, its players are NFL ready. How do they get this way? What’s the secret?

If you ask Nick Saban, it’s the Process, a name he’s given to his style of coaching. Saturday Down South asked Ronnie Harrison and he said, “The Process is like a transformation, I would call it, from going from a young man in high school to a grown man in college,” he told me. “Off the field, with education and all the meetings and stuff that we have, all the player-development stuff that we have, that develops your mind mentally for it. And then on the field, all the workouts, all the hard work and stuff that we do, that’s The Process. If you trust The Process and trust the hard work and be dedicated to it, you’ll come out on top.” Check out Saturday Down South’s website for more on the Process.

No matter how you explain it, it works. The players are expected to play for the team, not their individual glory. They don’t try to beat their opponent each week. Instead, they try to better themselves each game. You don’t want to be the weak link if you play for “Bama.” Unless you want to watch the game from the bench.

The quarterback position seems to be the one exception. Starting in 2007, when Saban took over the team, John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy, AJ McCarron, Blake Sims, and Jake Coker have all played quarterback for Alabama. McCarron is the only one still on an active roster.

Click to tweet: Alabama players. How do they get NFL ready? #SEC #NFL

Could Jalen Hurts be the one to take it to the next level? He runs and he throws. Far. He’s young but the best hope for a true NFL career that we’ve seen in a while. Bama fans hope he stays in school a long time before going to the bigger stage.

The most NFL ready players may be the cornerbacks and safeties, who are coached by Saban himself. Other coaches think Saban is unsurpassed as a secondary authority. His detailed coaching on DB technique stands alone.

Marlon Humphrey and safety Eddie Jackson were the 13th and 14th defensive backs drafted since Saban has been in Tuscaloosa. And the other defensive players are no slouches either. Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Tim Williams were all drafted in 2017. Ten players totaled, the most in school history.

And the new season has just begun. I wonder how the draft on April 26-28, 2018 will go? I’ll have my DVR set so I won’t miss a moment. Which school will have the most players drafted?

I don’t know, but I bet you’ll see a lot of Crimson.

And if you like Alabama football, make sure and check out my “Roll Tide” Pinterest board at https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/roll-tide/

Writing Prompt: “Roll Tide?” The woman in orange squared her shoulders and faced the elephant mascot. She then proceeded to…

And do you like tailgating? Then try this hearty recipe for goulash that you can make ahead…

Danny’s Goulash

Ingredients

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
1 or 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups water
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Nature Seasoning
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 or 2 cans of whole kernel corn, drained (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste at end

Directions

In a skillet, sauté the ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Break up the meat while sautéing. Drain on paper towels. Place in large Dutch oven and add 3 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, soy sauce, Nature Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Add corn. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt and pepper if needed. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving.

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Cleaning and Organizing the Pinterest Way

By Jennifer Hallmark

What is better than a clean, organized home? I can’t think of much. I love the smell of a freshly laundered, dust-free, and everything-in-its-place house. But with six grandchildren who enjoy visiting Mamaw and Papaw and a full-time job writing, who has the time? Or the money to hire someone to scrub and scour?

Betty has already shared the way she schedules her cleaning. If you missed it, check it out here. But maybe you’re like me and can’t seem to follow a schedule when it comes to cleaning. I’ll start with a schedule but then notice that something (not on the list) needs to be done that day and I just have to clean that item. Then I’m off schedule. Again.

So, what’s a person to do?

Pinterest.

I’ve found so many great ideas and tips to first organize, then clean. So I thought I’d share some straight off my page and maybe they can help you create that clean and organized living space. https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/cleaningorganizing-tips/

Organize

  1. Tips for Organizing Your Home for Spring Cleaning- This article takes your house, room by room, and shares good tips for putting it back in shape.
  2. 22 Things to Get Rid of Right Now-I loved this simple list.
  3. 20 Mind-Blowing Organization Ideas-Good all-around organizing tips.
  4. How to Organize Your Entire House: A Ten-Week Plan-For you planners, here it is, all written out.

Clean

  1. 3 Genius Hacks For Swiffers That Will Save You Money-I loved this one because, well, I love my Swiffer and it saved me money. 😊
  2. How to Wash Walls in 5 Easy Steps-Simple tips for that normally hard job.
  3. 20 of the Most Popular Cleaning Tricks on Pinterest-And here are twenty tricks all in one place.
  4. How To Clean Your Microwave In 3 Easy Steps-Am I the only one who looks in the microwave and can’t believe the mess? Here’s your answer.

Try out some of these ideas and tips and let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I’ve got to go now. I’m in the middle of organizing and cleaning the “toy” room I’m creating for the grandchildren. Now where are my rubber gloves?

Writing prompt: Needed: Money to

Click to tweet: I’ve found so many great ideas and tips to first organize, then clean.

Will You Find Treasure This Year?

By Tammy Trail

Spring is the time for new beginnings. The birds are out tweeting. Barnyard animals frolic through the grass with younger versions of themselves in the warm sunshine. Humans tend to frolic out of doors also. Yard work calls us into labor. We’ll wear shorts in 60-degree weather because we long for the warmth of spring days.

Cleaning takes on a new meaning in the Spring. Have you noticed any ” Yard Sale”  signs out yet? Not to worry, they’re coming. You can be sure that folks will be going through those closets soon and setting gently used merchandise in the “for sale” pile.

Most likely, there is a community of people in your town or city who love to yard sale. They will either have a sale of their own, or wake up early on a Saturday mornings and drive to them. That old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is surely their motto.

Websites, blogs, and even Pinterest share lots of tips for setting up your own yard sale. Here are a few:

  1. Make your signs attractive and visible to the car passing by your yard. There are some cute ideas on Pinterest with catchy phrases and decorations.
  2. Prices should be easy to read. Putting them on the top of an item is better.
  3. Make sure you have enough cash to make change. Chances are everyone will want to pay with a $20 bill.
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to help you. While you are distracted, someone could walk off with a potential sale. Another set of eyes can help discourage a thief.
  5. Selling cold beverages will add to your sales.

If you are an early riser on Saturday mornings and love to bargain, here are some tips for you as well.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. You may need to park some distance away from the yard, or stand in line before taking your treasure home.
  2. Check the box before purchasing an item. There may be something entirely different inside when you get home.
  3. When buying something electrical, ask if you can plug it in to check it. If it takes batteries, make sure the battery compartment is not corroded.
  4. Never buy used car seats for babies or toddlers from a garage sale. Once they have been involved in an accident they are useless.
  5. Purchasing your items with smaller bills will make your seller smile. She or he won’t need to worry about making a lot of change.

My favorite garage/yard sale item was found by my parents. As a young girl, I had a portrait of Jesus hanging on my wall. I talked to him every night before I went to sleep. When I grew up and moved away, I left that picture behind. Through the years, I assumed my parents had gotten rid of it, or it was lost in a move from one house to another.

Last year, I went to visit my Mom to help her get ready for a yard sale. In a corner of her basement, behind a couple of boxes, I found my old friend. He is with me now in my home. One of these days, I will get my picture of Jesus re-framed and hung on the wall in my bedroom.

Click to tweet: Have you noticed any ” Yard Sale”  signs out yet?

Here’s a good prompt: Free puppies today.

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The Art of Cooking

by Betty Owens

cook, cooking“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France

Want to try something fun? Open Pinterest, put the words, “Grandma’s Recipes” in the search bar and hit enter. Not only is it fun to read the recipes, but the stories that go with them. Oh, the memories—yum, the goodies!

And I had the pleasure of finding a winner. The best turkey dressing recipe of my memory was not my grandmother’s, or my mom’s (sorry Mom), but belonged to a woman named Mildred Totten, who was the lead cook at a retirement home. I worked there for several years while in my teens. We saved leftover bread, biscuits, and cornmeal muffins for a couple of weeks ahead (stored them in the cooler).

The morning of the Thanksgiving meal, we gathered in the kitchen and tore all that bread into bits. Ms. Mildred melted butter in a huge skillet and added chopped veggies then mixed it all together. She used an ice cream scoop and placed mounds of dressing into well-greased institutional-sized muffin tins. Then she baked them in the oven. They smelled wonderful and came out like a muffin, moist in the center, slightly crunchy on the edges. Placed next to warm, sliced turkey, and topped with turkey gravy, they were scrumptious and disappeared as fast as she could bake them.

retro-1321078_1280Serving up a delicious meal is truly an art! Yes, this month’s topic, “The Art of Cooking,” is a timely one, don’t you think? Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Many of our authors will also share a recipe. The one I found that inspired my special cooking memory is found HERE. My clan actually prefers a plain bread stuffing (not corn meal) and I usually rely on the bagged croutons that are already seasoned. But this year, I might try this recipe and see if anyone notices. Shhh! Don’t tell on me.

The true art to cooking is making and serving something that inspires memories (good and bad). Maybe your favorite remembered meal inspires laughter in your home. Yes, I have some of those, too. I’ve also messed up recipes that turned out to be a family favorite. That’s how some of our greatest inventors happened upon life-changing inventions. It all started with a mistake and voila! You have a masterpiece.

dinner-table-1433494_1280And don’t forget the presentation. I’m not great at that, but one particular anniversary, I nailed it. No, not literally. I “created” beef bourguignon (bur-gen-yon). Technically, it’s a beef stew with layer upon layer of flavor. I served it on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with a side of crusty French bread. Our best china, tablecloth and candlelight, a floral centerpiece. I went all out. But the food stole the show—a true winner. It was labor intensive, and a little on the expensive side, but worth every penny.

I hope you’ll check back in from time to time and see what’s cooking at the Writing Prompts blog. And don’t forget, our holiday giveaway is in full-swing. You can win a gift card, free books, and whatever else we can find to give. It’s the holiday season! Leave a comment on any of our Monday and Friday posts for a chance to win, throughout the month of November. Complete our writing prompt for a double entry. For all the details about the giveaway, click this link: Once Upon a Christmas.

What’s your all-time favorite food memory? Have you created a winning recipe?

Writing Prompt: Your best friend Millie has invited her husband’s new boss and his wife to dinner. She calls you the morning of the dinner, panicky. “I can’t do this. Can you help me? I don’t know what to cook!” How will you come to the rescue and save Millie’s dinner?

An Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe

15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
12 oz. can evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (floured spray works well).
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon until well-combined.
  4. It will seem a little thin, but this is perfect.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle dry spice cake mix on top of pumpkin mixture.
  7. Drizzle melted butter over the top.
  8. Bake for 55-60 minutes. (The middle may still jiggle a little, but it’s done–don’t over bake–it’ll be too dry). It will continue to set up as it cools.
  9. Cool for 30 minutes or longer before slicing and serving.
  10. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream & a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Can also be served with ice cream.

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All Things Wedding

By Jennifer Hallmark

wedding flowersI dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

This quote made me smile. June is traditionally the month of weddings and here at the Writing Prompts blog, we’ll discuss all things wedding. Whether a wedding is a simple ceremony among a few friends or as extravagant as Princess Diana’s, some type of ceremony can be found in almost all cultures and countries. Join us throughout the month of June. Maybe we’ll learn something new.

Mandy's wedding

Mandy’s wedding

Weddings are very much on my mind these days, though none of my immediate family married in June. Mom and Dad married in September as did my daughter, Mandy. My husband and I married in July. My son will be newly wedded (May 27th) by the time you read this post. When I think of the weddings I’ve been personally involved with, several words come to mind:

Beauty                         Romantic

Stress                           Hurry

Good food           Flowers          Surprises

 

And did I mention stress? I’m still looking for my dress and considering the groom’s table. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Did I mention it’s only two weeks until the wedding? Sigh. But like all the others, it will somehow fall into place and we’ll look back with fond memories.

As a writer, I’ve thought a lot about weddings over the past couple of years. I’ve written a novel tentatively titled “When Wedding and Weather Collide.” If you knew me very well, you’ve find it amusing that I’m writing a book with a wedding as a major plot point. I never really dreamed about weddings as a teenager, though I always figured I’d marry someday. I didn’t have a scrapbook like my daughter or any thoughts on a wedding dress.

Our weddingSo when my boyfriend proposed, almost 34 years ago, I said okay. I couldn’t think of an argument against it. I was finishing a semester at college so Mom did a lot of my planning. I remember I didn’t want a traditional bride and groom cake topper, so I found a bell and dove to go on top. I wanted pink in the wedding because it was my favorite color. I borrowed a dress, planned a fairly simple ceremony, and we became husband and wife.

In my novel, I really enjoyed planning the wedding. I found the perfect dress, picked out colors, cakes, bridesmaid’s dresses, and even invitations. You can see all of my findings on my Pinterest page here.

So, in a way, I discovered a perfect wedding. 30 something years later. But that’s okay. Maybe one day, I’ll sell the movie rights and we can all watch the wedding on the Hallmark channel…  🙂


Writing Prompt: Complete this thought…

Lila stepped into the fabulous, lace-covered gown that had been her grandmother’s. The few alterations had made it fit like it had been made for her. Her best friend, Anne, started to zip the gown, then stopped.

“Uh, oh.”

“What do you mean, uh oh?”