Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Get By With A Little Help - From a Blog

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Do you look with envy at all those Instagram and FaceBook posts where people’s homes are decorated to the nines? You know the ones I’m talking about. Your sister who has every cutesy-pie little decorative piece here and there and everywhere and she posts photos of Every. Single. Thing. she owns. You do realize that you are not the abnormal one in this picture, don’t you? So many of us are in the last-minute-club that looking at those photos just sends us into the Guilt Zone─much scarier than the Twilight Zone.

Blog, Book, and Busy
I’ve been writing this blog for a few months now, but I've also been working on a book for a couple of years. I’m in the midst of edits and am trying to get it ready to go out to editors and agents. I’ve won some awards and my book has garnered some attention this year, but it needed the help of a good red pen. Enter an outstanding editor.

My editor is the best. Her suggestions and catches are making this a much better book. She even has me doing written exercises in my weakest areas, all to make me a better writer. Now throw in cataract surgery, remodeling a home, six hundred miles from where I currently live, and the absolute need for quality hugging time with my granddaughters. I just have to have that sugar fix. It’s what keeps this DD going and it’s so much better than chocolate! I failed to say that I’m in Florida and our girls are in northern Virginia. Busy, busy.  But that’s life.

So, in the middle of the night, when I do my best thinking, I began looking for ways to make the upcoming holidays a bit easier. I started with my Library of Resources (LOR). My social media coach told me I need one of these, and it has been a lifesaver. If you don’t have one, you need one, especially if you are a writer or a blogger. So here a few of my favorite sites. Some have been in my LOR for a while, but some I just found in the wee hours this morning.

Some Favorite Blogs
One of my favorite blogs is Hymns and Verses. Doreen Cagno has such a pretty home and she tells you where to purchase her finds. I love that. You won’t believe what all she can do with the simplest of things from Wal-Mart or Ikea! Check her out and you’ll see what I mean. If you like her, don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter so that you get her outstanding ideas. She has fall décor as well as her current look for Christmas. Don’t forget to dig into old posts. She has gems in there!

I found this great blog this morning. Flea Market Gardening. She has great ideas for all seasons, but you will love her Christmas décor. Even though her blog posts appear to be a bit older, they still generate great ideas. Go check it out at So many ideas, with links to each within her blog. Be sure to search for one that has twenty one ideas for Christmas.

Another one I found this morning has so many fantastic projects, I won’t ever get around to half of them. One of my favorite things about Shaunna West is that she is a fellow-Alabamian. She lives just up the road a piece from my hometown of Andalusia, Alabama. You’ll love her blog, I promise. And, if you live in or near Troy, Alabama, she has a store there, y’all!  Her blog is Perfectly Imperfect. I love that name. From gorgeous painted furniture to a teaser for an HGTV show, her site is fabulous.

Of course, there are the ones you would expect to see, Martha Stewart, House Beautiful, Southern Living. Of these, my favorite is Southern Living as it has everything from great food, to décor for any and all seasons.

The nice thing is, even if you don’t go all-out like these bloggers, you can use their ideas to create something you do have time to do, something that works for your family. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Your family will think you are a genius and that you worked so hard to make the holidays special. And besides, its’ all about making memories, not about perfection. I have to interject one more blog here. Check out Just 18 Summers by my friend Michelle Cox. Talk about making memories. It isn't all about the holidays, but you'll love her blog.

Just to help you out a bit more, I’m including my sister’s recipe for Busy-Day Chili. I’ve been making this for years and it couldn’t be better or easier. I hope you enjoy it.

What are some of your favorite blogs? Have they helped you make the holidays less stressful? Share a link with us and tell us about them. 

I Get By With a Little Help - From a Blog @DDuPreeWilliams

Bobbie’s Busy-Day Chili

3 pounds ground beef (you may use turkey)
Two Envelopes French’s Chili-O seasoning mix
One 30-Oz. Can Tomato Sauce
One 30-Oz. Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
Three cans Bush’s Seasoned Chili Beans (use the heat level you prefer, and don’t rinse!)
Two to three cans additional kidney beans (I mix them for a variety of color. Rinse and drain these)

Brown the ground beef.
Add the packets of Chili-O
Stir in the Tomato Sauce followed by the tomatoes
Stir in the Chili Beans
Stir in the rinsed and drained kidney beans
The only water I add is that used when I rinse out my cans. It’s isn’t a lot. Less than a cup. Pour from one can to the next, slosh it around and pour into the next can.

At this point, you may add any other spices you like. It isn’t necessary, but if you like yours hot, by all means, grab that bottle of hot sauce or that little bottle of red pepper and shake away.

Cook on low, stirring pretty often as the sugars in the ingredients will tend to stick and may burn if you have your heat too high.  I cook mine at least an hour just to blend all the flavors.

Serve with shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream.
This takes less than 30 minutes to throw together.
It freezes well.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fall-The Glory of God's Creation

by Debra DuPree Williams@DDuPreeWilliams

Almost everyone I know says fall is their favorite season. It happens to be my favorite, too. I love watching the leaves change from their summer green into the yellows, oranges, reds, and even browns of fall. It’s their way of bidding us goodbye for a season, with a promise to return in the spring.

All the leaf-hoppers in those parts of this great country of ours must agree with us. In the Asheville area, where I live for a portion of the year, the hotels and parkways, scenic-vista-pullovers and area restaurants, are filled with those coming to view God in all of His glory. When we were recently up that way, we took two lovely drives to view the leaves. I guess that makes my hubby and me a part of the very group about which I just spoke.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Greatest of the Great, A Golden Reunion

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Two weeks ago, I attended my fiftieth high school reunion. Like everyone else there, I wondered where on earth the years had gone. It had been fifty years since I had seen some of my classmates. Others, I’ve seen fairly recently. Facebook and Instagram have proven valuable instruments in keeping us connected to one another.

The festivities began on Thursday and concluded with a breakfast on Sunday morning at the Andalusia Country Club. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend all of the events, but I did make it for the Saturday evening gathering at Springdale, an old estate in Andalusia, purchased by the city, and now used for purposes such as our class reunion.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It's That Time of Year . . . Have You Done This?

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Here it is, already past the mid-point mark of October and I am just now thinking about October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With the stories I know of family and friends who have walked this dark road, you would think I’d remember. But, life took over, I got busy . . . and I simply forgot.

My sister Bobbie was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2015. My husband and I were sitting in the Fatz restaurant in Candler, North Carolina, when I got the call from her. I had to leave the restaurant, I was crying so hard.

Cancer is the one word that most of us dread hearing. It invades our bodies and our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, unlike anything else on the face of the earth. It’s an ugly word.

But, since our family members are followers of Christ, we all began to pray for my sister. I put her on every prayer chain I could find. In fact, many of you prayed for her. I cannot begin to tell you how very thankful we are for every single utterance of her name.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Unexpected Journey

by Debra DuPree Williams                                                                           @DDuPreeWilliams

Back in 2011, when my husband and I lived with our eldest son and his family for a few months, I spent a great deal of time with our then, fourteen-month-old granddaughter. She was a delight, as was her seven-year-old sister. Their needs were very different. Jim chauffeured P to all of her camps and activities while I remained at home with E.

E and I spent many happy hours devouring every little board book and every picture book in their home. She had her favorites. One of those was about a band. Since she comes from a long line of musicians, including her dad who plays guitar and drums, and her mother who was a drummer in a rock band back in her school days, I think it was just a genetic thing for her to be drawn to that little book.

But one of her books made me cringe every time I read it. The rhythm of the words was off. I had a hard time reading that book, but E loved it, so I read it anyway and tried not to make too many faces.

One night I thought, I can do this. I’ve written poetry all my life. I think I could write a children’s book. So, I set about giving it a go. I wrote a book about music, of course (I have two degrees in music). It wasn’t a grand book, but it was a start. It featured an adorable little conductor whom I called Maestro Musik. It taught some basic music lessons, too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

From Generation to Generation

by Debra DuPree Williams @DDuPreeWilliams

Our Great-Nephew Brit and His Beautiful wife, Kelly
I did something for the first time ever this past Friday. Actually, my husband and I did this together. We attended a baby reveal party. Now, when we were having our kids, there was no such thing as a baby reveal party. If you wanted to know the sex of your unborn child, they would tell you during a routine ultrasound, but only if you wanted to know. And no one had heard of a baby-reveal party.

We didn’t want to know. We decided that we wanted to be surprised because we knew we were going to be thrilled no matter the baby’s gender. So, three times we waited. Three times we were blessed with little boys. Precious little boys.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Now We See in a Mirror Darkly

                                              by Debra DuPreeWilliams @DDuPreeWilliams

I recently had cataracts surgery. I cannot begin to tell you how much I dreaded that particular procedure. Even though my husband and several family members have been through it and they all assured me that it was “a piece of cake” I just couldn’t imagine being awake, though highly sedated, for such. I’m the proverbial chicken when it comes to things like this. At one time, I was even needle phobic and would pass out during a simple blood draw. Heart issues cured me of that, big time.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday when I had my left eye done. My husband had told me, “You won’t even remember it. All you’ll see is bright lights and a psychedelic show.” I’m not much for light shows. They give me migraines, every single time. Just the thought of being aware of what was happening to me was enough to have me running for the hills.