Showing posts with label Fall Fridays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fall Fridays. Show all posts

Friday, October 29


Welcome to FALL FOOD FRIDAYS! I got an email from Debbie at the Friday Friends for this soup-tacular soup recipe!

Souper Soup

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. boneless chicken pieces, cut up
3 sliced carrots
1/2 cup celery
1/2 small chopped onion
2 cans (14 1/2 oz ) low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 envelope Good Season Italian Salad Dressing Mix
1 cup uncooked bite-sized pasta
8 oz Velveeta Pasteurized Cheese

Cook and stir the chicken in hot oil in large saucepan until cooked through, drain.
Add vegetables; cook 3-5 minutes or until crisp tender, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken, broth, water and dressing mix. Bring to a boil.
Add pasta; cover. Simmer 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender.
Add Velveeta, cook until melted.

Now I have another soup recipe, which is my own....everyone is always impressed with it and even more impressed when they find out how simple it is to make!

Butternut Squash Soup from



Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.

I actually roast my squash in the oven and then scoop it out, following the rest of the above directions. I think roasting it gives it a must richer and deeper flavor.

Thanks for join me today. Again, if people continue to email me recipes I'll continue FALL FOOD FRIDAYS!

Friday, October 22


Welcome to FALL FOOD FRIDAYS! I got an email from VABlondie for Jamie Oliver's Guinness, Beef and Cheese Pot Pie, which sounds absolutely delicious. It looks like an in depth recipe, but it's actually pretty straight forward, no more difficult than stew. Thanks VA for sharing the recipe! Here it is...

steak, guinness and cheese pie with a puff pastry lid
main courses | serves 4 to 6
This pie is a real winner! As it uses bought puff pastry, it’s quick to prepare, and you can make the filling the day before if you want.

• olive oil
• 3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• 2Tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
• 4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
• 2-2.5lb brisket of beef or stewing beef, cut into 1" cubes
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 x 440ml can of Guinness (no lager, please!)
• 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 7 ounces freshly grated Cheddar cheese
• 1 package high quality puff pastry (phyllo dough)
• 1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes – try not to colour them too much. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, butter, carrots and celery and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.

Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back into the oven and continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick. A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.

Cut about a third of the pastry off the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin. Butter a deep pie dish, then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the side. Tip the stew into your lined dish and even it out before sprinkling over the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.

Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross it lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic. Brush the top with beaten egg, then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden. Delicious served simply with peas.

I have another recipe from a fellow blogger, Amanda: What a great, EASY, meal this one sounds like.

Vegetarian Dump Chili

It doesn't get easier than this

1 large onion, chopped
A couple of carrots, chopped
1 can tomato soup
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can chick peas
1 can cannelloni beans
1 can black beans (but I like to use 2 cans)
1 can corn
1 packet of your favorite chili seasoning (or 2 if you really like spice)

Dump all ingredients into a large pot. Always drain and rinse your beans and chickpeas before adding them (this washes off the ogliosaccharides and prevents gas). Add water to produce desired consistency. For really thick chili, add a couple of table spoons of corn starch. Simmer 1 hour. Also good for refrigerating and eating the next day.

This is one of me and my husband's favorite recipes when it gets cold outside. Unfortunately it seems that Michael is allergic to the beans and chickpeas in it, so we will have to skip it this year.

Those are the FALL FOOD FRIDAY recipes...please join in and email me what you love to cook this time of year!

Thursday, October 7


Two years ago I did something on my blog: Fall Fridays...which was a collection of short stories that I wrote while I was younger, and actually took the time to write stories (click the pic to be taken to those posts).

This year I decided to do something again, but instead of stories it's going to be foods....foods that are easy, quick, delicious, and most of all wonderful during Autumn's cooler days (and nights).

So without further ado, I introduce to you

But, I'm doing it differently this time...I'm opening it up to all my readers to submit recipes! I'll be posting a few of my own too! If you've got a delicious Fall Dish email it to me :-) Get me your recipes by Thursday night and I'll be sure to include them in the FALL FOOD FRIDAYS post and link them back to your blog.

Happy Fall!!

Friday, October 31

Fall Fridays ~ A "Short" Story

Happy Halloween! Thank you to all of you who have followed my Fall Fridays. In honor of Halloween, and the last day of Fall Fridays, I've posted one of my longer stories: I wrote this while I was in high school and have done some edits along the way. Enjoy!

Death’s Playful Kiss
It was a cool clear night. The moon was full and cast a ghostly light across the trees and over the field. The stark contrast of the leafless trees stood out against the bright star filled sky.
I remember that night better than any other of my life. How the crisp cool air filled my lungs, burning them. How when the air entered my nose it sent a sharp pain through my teeth and sinuses. My eyes watered endlessly and my mitten less fingers felt stiff and numb. The trees swayed in the breeze, rustling the remaining leaves. I remembered so vividly how the breeze sounded, like someone whispering, "Watch out!" My skin still crawls when I think of the warning.
That night I had decided to leave my wife and go for a walk through the fields, which surrounded our remote Victorian home. I remember feeling as though I was being watched when I closed the front door behind me. For some reason I suddenly thought of my wife alone, in the big house, sleeping peacefully in our antique four-poster bed. I brushed the thought from my mind, like dismissing an annoying fly.
As I walked further from the house I turned and glanced up at our bedroom window. I could see a faint glow from the window and figured Lara to be up reading, nothing unusual. It struck me how much the house looked like a devilish face. The black shutters against the white siding, and the white picket fence reminded me of a devious grin. I wrapped my arms tighter around me, rubbing my biceps through the thick flannel of my shirt, trying to get rid of my goose bumps.
I ignored the feeling of anxiety that was growling in the pit of my stomach and continued walking. After about fifteen minutes, I reached the top of the hill. Standing there I looked around. Peering through the dark, trying to distinguish one tree from another. Over the flutter of the leaves I recalled having heard a sweet, childlike laughter. I called out "Who's there?" I reproached myself for my immaturity, realizing it was just the wind and my imagination. I remembered the last time Lara and I walked up this hill, we could see the roof of our house over the tops of the trees. I wanted to turn in that direction but something was holding me, preventing me. I heard the laugh again, this time more sadistic though. I forced myself to turn toward the house.
My breath caught in my throat, strangling my scream of horror. I saw the roof of the house engulfed in flames. The blue and orange-yellow "tongues" licked at the roof like a dog drinking from a bowl of water. I stood amazed, gawking at the sight. I began to plod back to the house, my feet feeling as though they were made of lead. With each step I moved quicker, until I was at a full out run. The thin branches of the trees whipped at my face, slicing through the numb skin. I opened my mouth, forcing my wife's name to pass my lips. "Lara!” hoping she would hear me.
As I continued toward the fire, the smell of burning wood filled my nose. I heard the voice again, mockingly whispering, "Run! It won't help!" I ignored the voice. My tears, mixing with the blood that was running from the slashes on my face, blinded me as it ran into my eyes. I stumbled over a root, but caught myself against another tree. I leaped over the low stone fence, which bordered our property. Wondering what I would find when the house finally came into sight again.
As I rounded the corner of the field, I finally caught a second glimpse of the house. The roof was black against the sky, bathed in moonlight. I crumbled to the ground. There before me stood the house, same as it was when I had left. Lara's light was still visible from the window. I began to run.
I crashed through the front door and pounded up the stairs, yelling for Lara. I reached the landing outside our room and reached for the doorknob. I yelped in pain and quickly drew my hand back from the door. The knob was burning hot and had seared the flesh of my palm. I wrapped my shirtsleeve around my hand and tried again to open the door, but it was locked. I banged my cold, clenched hand against the strangely cool wood, but no one opened the door. I rammed my shoulder into the door.

Once, twice, on the third try it budged. Again I smashed the door, and it opened under my weight. I fell into the room and ran for the bed. I called Lara's name again, but she didn't respond. My throat closed and my heart pounded against my chest, slowly I crept toward the bed. I remember pulling the sheets back from Lara's face, retching at the sight of her burned flesh. Her hollow eye sockets stared vacantly back at me, as if blaming me for their current state.
I fell back, continuing to stare at the skull and ashes, which were my wife. I noticed that the sheets, and nightgown were not burned. Neither was the bed nor any thing else. There had been no fire. I stumbled from our room and slumped against the door frame, I was completely confused.
A burst of icy wind swept up the stairs and slammed into me, knocking me to my knees. The sharp feeling of the cold across the back of my neck tightened its grip around my throat. I began to gasp for air, to suppress the burning feeling of suffocation that was growing in my stomach and lungs.
Fear grasped at the edges of my brain. I clawed frantically at my throat, trying to release myself of the increasing pressure there. I began to see spots before my eyes and my brain began to slow. Everything felt as though I was watching it happen to someone else, a movie. Nothing seemed real, as I watched the room begin to spin around me, faster and faster. I slowly began to crawl into the part of my brain where death lives, blackness filling my eyes. Another breath would not and could not be had.
I remembered waking up in the bed, after this had happened. My head pounded and felt as though a thousand nails had been hammered into it. I tried to sit up, but fell back on the pillow in sheer agony. I slowly turned my head, looking around the bedroom. Slowly everything, which had happened, began to trickle into my memory. I softly moaned from the pain. The feeling of it brought something to my mind, but I couldn't quite recall it. I closed my eyes forcing myself to remember. Bits and pieces of what had happened came back to me.
There was a freezing wind that had knocked me to my knees, then blackness, and the pain. God, the pain! I rolled over on my side and noticed a body next to me, in the bed. How had I gotten in the bed? My brain was suddenly flooded with everything that had happened. The fire, the voices, Lara . . . I quickly tore the sheets back from her. The little bit of moonlight, which crept through the curtains, splashed across her face. There she was peacefully asleep, an innocent smile played across her lips.
Calmness crept across me, I leaned over and kissed Lara on her flushed cheek. Her eyes fluttered open, as though they were butterfly wings. Lara smiled at me through the dark and moved closer toward me. I held her in my arms, becoming more frightened, and aware, of the past happenings. Slowly I drifted into a troubled sleep. I inhaled the smell of the sweet floral scent of Lara's hair, haunted by how she was before.
I woke up with a jolt and realized that Lara was not there. I frantically jumped out of the bed, calling her name. I glanced quickly around the room. I heard a soft giggle coming from the bathroom and carefully walked through the door. Another giggle, Lara jumped out at me from behind the door.
I was extremely startled. Lara must have seen it in my face, because she quickly apologized, kissing me good morning. I walked past Lara and looked into the mirror. I remembered that my face was all cut up last night from the branches. There wasn't a scratch on my face. I heard Lara getting dressed and walking down the stairs. I splashed my face with the icy cold water and looked into the mirror again, watching each drop slide down my face and splash quietly into the sink.
Lara was in the kitchen when I finally came downstairs. As I walked out of the bedroom, I noticed that the door was not smashed. I couldn't understand it; I had slammed through it last night breaking it into two different pieces. I rubbed my temples and continued down the stairs. My headache had grown in its intensity.
I walked into the kitchen and headed straight for the cabinet, I grabbed a few ty.lenol and then a glass. I walked to the fridge and opened the door, searching for orange juice. Lara said to me, "The juice is out on the table already.” I remember her looking quizzically at me, as though I was someone else. I poured a half a glass of juice, threw the pills into my mouth and gulped the glass of sweet sticky liquid down in one shot.
I lowered myself into the chair at the table as Lara placed a plate of gooey scrambled eggs and greasy bacon in front of me. She stood watching me pick at my food. I wasn't hungry at all; I was more upset about what had happened the night before. I noticed then that Lara was still watching me, frowning with a scared look of concern on her face. I forced a smile at her.
Lara pulled the seat out across from me and sat, still staring at me. I asked her what was wrong. She said to me, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I am fine. Why do you ask?"
"You seem really distant this morning, and you were murmuring in your sleep last night. Something about a fire. You kept moving all night, kicking out and stuff. You sure you're okay?"
I looked at Lara, took a deep breath, and told her everything that had happened. Well at least everything that I could remember. She just sat there, staring at me blankly. Slowly she stood up, pushing the chair back. She walked around the table and stood behind me, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and holding me. "What a horrible dream!"
I shook off her arms from around me, "It wasn't a dream. It really happened, I know it did.” I sat quietly there, still staring at my food.
Lara moved behind me, toward the sink. "I am so sorry Baby." I could tell from the look in her face that she was having a hard time believing it. I knew I shouldn't have told her; it confused her too much.
I got up from my seat, not having touched any of my now cold food, and walked out the back door. Lara followed me out and to the porch swing. I sat down and she sat beside me.
"Lara, I know you think I am crazy, but it happened. I know it did. Trust me, please."
She pulled her feet up on the swing and rested her head on my shoulder, "I don't think you're crazy, honey. I just don't know what to say, that's all. It just sounds so off the wall. I am sorry."
"I know you are.” I just wish I understood what happened. It's just so freaky, the entire thing," I reached toward Lara and put my arm around her shoulder and held her close. I was so afraid I was going to lose her, to something or someone. I looked down at her, her eyes were closed and I noticed a small tear trailing down her cheek. "It's all right Lara, don't cry. I am here and nothing has happened. We're both okay, right?"
Lara slowly nodded her head and wiped away the single tear. I hugged her close and kissed her on her head, then slowly stood. "Where are you going now, James?"
I told her I was going for a short walk around the property just to see if everything was all right, and I would be back in a little while. Reluctantly Lara nodded her head and walked into the house, probably to clean up from breakfast. I walked around the house and shivered, in spite of the hot air, which surrounded me, remembering how scared I was the night before. As I walked toward the woods I felt as though I was being watched, again. I spun around quickly, looking in every direction, but I didn't see anything peculiar.
All that day the feeling stayed with me. I walked into the house in time for lunch. I walked toward the sink and began to scrub my hands with the slippery bar of pink soap that sat on the counter. I looked out the window toward the field and noticed someone walking along the edge of the woods. I bolted out the back door of the house and ran for the place where I had seen the person. By the time I reached the spot, there was no one there. I looked around frantically, praying that there would be someone there and called out, but no one answered my desperate call.
I slowly walked back toward the house, opened the creaky back door, and sat at the table. I noticed that Lara was looking at me with that same concerned frown. She asked me what I had seen, I told her that it was nothing to worry about and forced a smile to my lips. I could tell from the look on her face that she didn't believe me.
The rest of the day Lara and I puttered around the house. We worked outside, in the garden, and we cleaned the house. By the time it was ready to eat dinner I had all but forgotten about my worries. When I sat to eat, my mind began to wander, I thought about the person whom I had seen standing in the field. Who was it? What did they want? Did they have something to do with my "dream?" I was racking my brain, trying to find answers for all my questions. There was none.
That night, after Lara and I had gone to bed, I dreamed that someone was in the house. I woke out of my sleep; Lara was gone. I heard the laugh again, the same devilish one that I had heard in the woods the night before. I ran down the stairs, just as I turned toward the living room I saw the train of a nightgown slip around the corner. I walked swiftly down the hall toward it, hearing the front door open and close quietly. I bolted for the front door and noticed someone walking across the field carrying someone. I knew that someone was Lara.
I yelled at the top of my lungs, "Lara!” I began to run after the figure, following it across the field. When I finally caught up with it, it was gone. I looked around frantically for some sign of it or of Lara. I noticed that my feeling of being watched was creeping slowly through my veins again. I searched around in the dark, straining my eyes to see.
I noticed a strip of pale blue material blowing in the breeze. I grabbed for it and immediately knew that it was from the nightgown that I had bought Lara for Christmas the year before. I called her name again, nothing. I heard a voice; this time it was that of an older woman. She whispered, "There, look before you. There."
I pleaded with the voice, "Please help me. Where is my wife?"
There, look before you. There."
I began to sob uncontrollably now at the fact that Lara had disappeared, perhaps forever. I looked through the underbrush, when I noticed a hem of a nightgown from behind a tree. I rushed forward and found Lara lying prostrate on the ground. I fell down beside her and rolled her over onto her back, her head in my lap. I noticed a dark line around the base of her neck.
Red blood slowly trickled from the slit along her throat.
Someone, whoever it was who had carried her to the woods, had killed Lara. Her throat was slit from ear to ear. The muscles in her neck were exposed and blood began to gush faster from the wound. Her face was ashen and no emotion or sign of life could be seen in her eyes. Her entire body was cold, grey and clammy. I leaned over her body, sobs wracking my own into convulsions. I gently touched the cut and ran my fingers along her pale cheeks, shedding my own tears onto her skin. I kissed her on the lips and stood. I bent down and picked Lara up, carrying her back to the house. She felt so frail and light in my arms, like a child.
I couldn't believe that Lara was dead.
I walked through the front door and carried her up the stairs to our room. Gently I lowered her onto the bed. I placed her head on the pillows and pulled the sheets up to her chest. I sat next to the bed on the rocking chair, thinking of how our life was over. We had wanted so much and hadn't gotten that far. We were only married for a year and a half. We wanted children, but now we would never have them. It was my fault I had known something was wrong, but I didn't do anything about it.
Tears streamed down my pale cheeks, tracing their path through the dirt that was on them. I began to lose consciousness and finally fell asleep. My dreams that night were so odd. I have never been able to forget them, no matter how much I have tried. I remember now that I had been running through the woods, something was following me and I couldn't elude it. Step for step it matched me. I ran and ran until my legs collapsed beneath me. I lay on the ground waiting for my assailant to swoop upon me, taking my life as it had taken Lara's. No one ever came. I was completely alone, no one in the world knew where I was or cared.
I remember getting up in my dream and beginning to walk. I just wanted to forget everything. As I walked, I heard someone whispering my name, "James, help me please." It was Lara's voice. I called out for her, but all that responded was the wind in the treetops.
Then I woke up. I looked at Lara's deathly face, as peaceful looking as it had been last night. I knew this time that this wasn't a dream and that Lara was not going to come back to me, like the night before. Above my sobbing I heard the bedroom door open. I jumped to my feet and stood before the bed, protecting Lara's body.
A chilling wind filled the room, and someone stood before me. I asked in an extremely defeated voice, "What do you want?" The hulking body just stood there before me, not moving or saying anything. "Haven't you taken enough? You have killed the one thing in my life that I cannot live without. Couldn't you have taken me and spared her?"
became infuriated as the Being still did not respond and begged, "Answer me, please!"
The person was not human, but yet it carried itself in the same manner. I couldn't quite figure out what it was. The Being wore a long cloak of black, which swathed the entire body. The hood of the cloak covered its face, preventing me from seeing it. It began to take measured steps toward me. I backed up until I was next to the bed. I would not let this thing harm Lara's corpse. She was dead and no one would hurt her as long as I was alive. The Creature walked past me to where Lara was lying. A strong hand extended from the sleeve of the cloak and gently traced the line along Lara's throat. I gasped and went to stop the person. He raised his other hand and I my body flew back, my head hitting against the wall. I slid to the floor, unconscious.
I still don't know what really happened after that, I have tried to remember so many times. I remember waking up though and the sunshine pouring through the window. I looked toward the bed and noticed that Lara's body was no longer there. I lay down on the bed, buried my face in her pillow trying to inhale her scent, and began to cry. I knew I would never see her again. She was gone forever from my life; I knew that now. I don't remember how long I lay there, it could have been minutes, or weeks, nothing mattered anyway. Lara was gone. No more would I wake to see her smiling face, or hear her laughing or singing while vacuuming the house. There would never be any children, no grandchildren. No Christmases or Thanksgivings with annoying, yet loved, family members.
As I lay there crying, I felt a hand touch my hair, pushing it out of my face. I looked through my tears trying to perceive what was before me. There was Lara smiling at me. Her hair was the way it had been when she was alive, the most brilliant chestnut color with waves that surrounded her beautiful face. I knew I had to be dreaming, that thing, whatever it was, had carried off Lara’s body. I reached for her face, anticipating that it would disappear just as I would touch it. My hand didn't touch air, but skin, Lara's smooth freckled skin. I began to sob again at the continual cruelty of that creature tormenting me this way.
The mirage of Lara said to me then, "James. James it's me. I'm here, nothing has happened to me. I'm okay." She smiled so sweetly at me and I thought that this wasn't Lara, but an angel.
I begged with it, "Please bring my wife back, please."
"James, it's me. I am here. Oh honey, what has happened?"
I looked at this person before me and realized that it was Lara, she was right in front of me and she wasn't dead. I became frightened by this and drew back from her.
Lara looked at me puzzled, "What is it? What's wrong, Hun?"
I reached for her face, holding it between my hands and rubbed her cheeks with my thumbs. She was really there. I ran my hand down to her throat and noticed there was a faint pink line along where her throat had been slit.
Lara looked at me sadly and whispered quietly, "I know. It was no dream."
I reached again for her and raised myself to my elbows and kissed her gently on her pink lips; they reminded me so much of raised petals. I held her tightly in my arms, holding her close to me. I remembered that I was so afraid to let her go, I thought if I did she would disappear from me. Slowly I began to realize that Lara was really there, she was alive.
I asked her quickly, "But, but how? How are you alive? I found you in the woods and your throat was slit and I carried you back to the house and then the cloaked figure came and, and..."
Lara raised her finger to my lips, silencing me with her touch. "It doesn't matter anymore, I am here. We're both alive and together. Everything that happened wasn't a dream."
I looked at her tears streaming down both our cheeks, and she continued, "I was dead but I didn't die. I was in some place with a horrible thing. It, it wouldn't let me wake up and tell you I was alive. I don't even remember everything that happened. There was a bright light though and someone was standing over me, tracing a line along my throat. I tried to scream but I couldn't. Then the figure disappeared."
I realized that Lara was telling the truth; she had no reason to lie. We knew that there was no explanation. That if we had decided to tell anyone they would think we were insane. Something or someone had disrupted our lives. Both of us had been "touched" by something. Our lives had been altered in their course. Neither one of us knew how, we were only happy that we were alive and together.
Even to this day Lara and I still wonder, what exactly it was that happened in those two days. We will never know, but we do know now that we have been given a precious gift. That of life. We have lived our lives to the fullest. Many Christmases and Thanksgivings, celebrated with our four children and five beautiful grandchildren.
Lara still has a light scar on her throat and my palm is still scared from when I burned my hand on the doorknob that night. Neither one of us mind though, our scars serve as a reminder as to how close we came to losing each other.

The End

Friday, October 24

Fall Fridays ~ A Short Story

Dust was everywhere… “No wonder she always does such a poor job of cleaning other people’s homes, she can’t even take care of her own!” Tomasina Finkle stood in the doorway of her maid’s home, clutching her coat to her as if in fear of it being pulled off her by the dirt and grime that seemed to be ubiquitous.

Trudy Gallagher had been the Finkle’s maid for almost 37 years; working in their house since she was 11 years old, when her mother had died. Trudy was forced to work, while her father mourned her mother’s death, finding his form of consolation in the bottom of brown paper bag. It had been left to Trudy to see that her younger brother was taken care of and that required money.
Tomasina cared little for the woes of her maid’s hard life. Her only concern was why the dreadful girl hadn’t been around to clean in over a week. Tomasina Finkle would not stand for that kind of disrespect and was determined to find out what Trudy’s pathetic excuse was.
Tip toeing around the house Tomasina paid little attention to the old family photos, hung on the wall and faded from time. She ignored the smell of mildew that permeated the air. She was more concerned with the state of her maid’s house than the fact that her servant was human. The maid’s life was, of course, no business of her’s, until it got in the way of Trudy’s responsibilities to Tomasina Finkle.
Tomasina carefully walked down the hallway and to her left noticed a door slightly ajar and a weak light shining from underneath it. “Now I’ve found you”, Tomasina thought to herself, “caught in the act.” Slowly she opened the door toward her, being careful not to be seen by her unsuspecting maid. Tomasina had a glint of sheer delight in her eye at the possible chance of catching Trudy lazing about.
Once the door was open wide enough for Tomasina to slip through it, she stepped full in to the dim light and stepped down silently on to the first of the stone steps, grinning ear to ear. One the landing she peered down in to the basement, her eyes adjusting. Tomasina’s hand flew to her mouth, pathetically attempting to stifle her scream. Turning back toward the door she tripped on the first step, grasping for the railing and pulled herself up the stairs.
Tomasina raced out of the house, no longer paying attention to its dust and clutter. Once outside her maid’s house Tomasina quickly walked to her waiting car and got in, looking all about wondering if anyone had seen her.
The house wife next door to Trudy’s had seen Tomasina Finkle running from the maid’s house and had heard a scream. Quickly she walked to her own hallway and picked up the received, “Yes, officer, I want to make a report. I believe there’s been a murder.”
Tomasina Finkle drew herself a bath and tried to boil what she had seen out of her mind. The image of Trudy Gallagher lying dead, in a pool of blood, at the bottom of the basement stairs was bothering her more than she believed it should. After a good, long soak Tomasina was once again ready to face reality: her maid was dead and she must find a new one.
There was a sharp rap at the door while Tomasina thumbed through the telephone directory searching for a new house cleaner. “Ma’am, there are two officers here to see you”, the Finkle’s butler mumbled.
“What?” Tomasina thought to herself, they must be here to ask when I had last seen Trudy. “Well, let them in you blithering fool.” The butler bowed slightly and quickly shuffled out of the room.
The shorter of the two policemen introduced them, “Mrs. Finkle, I’m Officer Offaly and this is my partner, Officer Cummins. We’re here to ask you about Trudy Gallagher, she is your maid isn’t she?”
“Yes, she was my maid”, Tomasina said in her most condescending tone. She was rather annoyed that these two men walked in to her house and were more concerned about her maid than her.
“Why do you say was your maid?” Officer Cummins asked.
“She hasn’t graced us with her presence for nearly a week now. I was actually looking in the directory for a new housekeeper when you fine gentleman had arrived.”
“Well, Mrs. Finkle, Miss Gallagher hasn’t been her because she was dead. There was an incident reported this afternoon by a neighbor, and Miss Gallagher was found dead at the bottom of the basement steps. Do you happen to know anything about her death?”
“No, no of course not”, Tomasina was becoming more and more annoyed with these two officers; did they believe that she had something to do with Trudy’s death?
“Well, Mrs. Finkle,” the taller of the two started, “we have a witness who says they saw you exiting the Gallagher home shortly after they had heard a scream.”
“I cannot believe this! How dare you accuse me of such a thing? Get out of my house immediately!” Tomasina railed at the two officers, genuinely shocked that they even could consider someone of her high standing could stoop low enough to murder a maid, “My lawyers will be in touch with you.”
“Mrs. Finkle, your lawyer has already been notified and will be meeting you at the court house: We have a warrant for your arrest for the murder of Trudy Gallagher.”
“What? This is preposterous!” The larger of the two officers stepped toward Tomasina, handcuffs at the ready. “I refuse to be led out of my home as if I were a common criminal!” The officer took a step back and motioned for her to walk before him. Tomasina Finkle, lady of the house, stepped gingerly past him and then, recollecting who she was, stormed past the officer and walked out of the house, and for good measure, slammed the door behind her. The two officers looked at each other and shrugged.
The ride to the courthouse was the longest of Tomasina’s life. She was used to being chauffeured, but never in a police car, with its plastic seats and untinted glass. Once they arrived, the shorter of the officers walked to Tomasina’s door and opened it for her. In a moment of a mental lapse, Tomasina held out her hand waiting for the officer to help her from the car, remembering herself, Tomasina crept out of the car, checking to see if there were people about and stormed in to the courthouse.
“This is an outrage” She clamored once in to the building, Tomasina marched straight for her lawyer, “and it is ridiculous! Don’t they know who I am? They can’t do this to me!”
“Actually, Mrs. Finkle, they can, there is enough supporting evidence that you are a viable suspect in the murder of Trudy Gallagher.”
Tomasina Finkle, for the first time in her life, stood with her mouth open and no words spewing out. Slowly her mouth began to move again, in pantomime of speaking, but nothing could be heard. She had never thought, in a thousand years, that she of all people would be considered a “viable suspect” in the murder of her maid.
“Mrs. Finkle, I’ve posted bail for you, but there will be a hearing at the end of the week. The police have a few questions for you, before you can go back home.” Tomasina just starred in shock, sitting through her interrogation, answering all the questions put to her. She knew what she was saying was the truth, but she could see that no one believed a word she was saying. At the end of a torrent of questions Tomasina was allowed to go home, where she stayed until the hearing for the murder of her maid, Trudy Gallagher.
Friday morning came and much to Tomasina’s dismay the past few days of her life were not a dream. The courtroom filled with all those who had known the Finkles, and their despicable reputation of seeing all others as base and insignificant. Judge Valdren entered and took his seat, quite surprised that this hearing entailed Mrs. Tomasina Finkle. “What on earth could this woman have done?” The Judge thought to himself.
Tomasina was once again questioned, her reputation dragged through the mud, in front of everyone, seemingly solely for their entertainment. Witnesses were called forth and questions answered. As the time wore on it became increasingly obvious that Mrs. Tomasina Finkle could not be troubled with the miniscule lives of her servants, let alone interested enough to have a hand in their murder.
Mrs. Finkle’s repute for being less than concerned with her servants and their welfare, resulted in her being removed from the list of suspects. However, there were no other people that could have been the murderer of Trudy Gallagher. Mrs. Finkle had no motives at all to murder her maid; she could never have been bothered with it. Tomasina was free to go with nothing more than a muddied reputation.
In the very last row of the courtroom sits an unassuming man, with nothing memorable about him; just a glint, a darkening of his eyes as the “not guilty” Tomasina Finkle marched victoriously toward the door. No one would ever expect her to recognize her own butler.

Friday, October 17

Fall Fridays ~ "From the Orchard to the Oven: The Pie in American Culture"

For this Friday's "Fall Friday" I decided to share the article I had written and submitted to Better Homes and Gardens (it wasn't published in their pie issue). Enjoy!


From the Orchard to the Oven: The Pie in American Society
by Jessica White

For centuries we, as Americans, have been filled with and by the wonder of pie. To many it is not just a dessert, but an enduring symbol of home, of America. Pies permeate every aspect of our lives: we sing about pies, watch movies in which a pie becomes a central character, and we enjoy eating them whenever possible. Whole contests are dedicated to their singular deliciousness: Whether it be baking them or eating them.

A pie is an entity unto itself, secure in its position in America: It is threatened by no other dessert. A pie is more than just a yummy treat reserved for Autumn and Thanksgiving, after the fruit has been harvested. Pies are the epitome of the old cliché: “a labor of love”. From start to finish they require the continual scrutiny of its creator, demanding attention to each minute detail.

For any pie it is the crust that is the foundation; it alone will determine whether a pie succeeds or fails. The creation of a piecrust can only be mastered if the baker puts all of their attention into their dough and its every “need”: too much flour and it will crumble, too much water and it will stick, too much handling and it will never become a crust. Whether the crust is homemade or not, the baker is always conscious of the necessity for the perfect crust.

Fruit for a pie must be carefully picked, each piece gingerly removed from its lifeline and tenderly placed in a basket. Then there is the preparation: cleaning and slicing each piece of fruit, folding in the perfect ratios of spices and sugars, imperative to the successful flavor of each pie: Until it is perfectly nestled into the crust.

When all of this is said and done the power of pie still does not come to fruition until the sweet aromas of baking fruit, sugar, and crust, begin to permeate throughout the home. This euphoric sinus experience is so profound, holds so many memories and emotions, that candle and air freshener companies alike have attempted to replicate the singular gloriousness of a pie baking. All have succeeded at falling short of its glory.

Pies are more than just a wonderful dessert. We each have our own special collection of images and sensory experiences that come to mind when we smell, taste, or even think of pie. It is because of all the effort and love that goes in to each slice that people are reminded of warmth and home. That place in which we can find comfort and love: Every element that pie invokes in each person.

A pie is symbolic of love. Each one meticulously crafted by hand; one certainly does not go about its creation without some intentions of affection and thoughtfulness. It is the pie that most commonly graces the threshold of a new neighbor, welcoming them into a community. It is the pie that is most commonly served in the diners of small-town America.

While some may see it as silly to say that pies are representative of Americans, there is a reason for the phrase “As American as apple pie”. It has nothing to do with whether or not we “invented” pies, it is seems to have everything to do with how pies embody the spirit of America: All of its labors and looks.

Pies are not anything extravagant, they are nothing fancy to look at. They won’t collapse or fail to rise; they aren’t a sugary confection that must be handled with delicacy. Americans are hearty people, people who can weather any phenomenon and still stand strong. Like a pie there is nothing exaggerated about our demeanor or persona, it is what is inside of us that make us what we are: strong, hearty, and hard working.

Pies in all their simplicity are representative of an entire country, our homes, and the hard work and determination of a sole being. They are as varied as the people of this great country: Each bringing their own flavors and colors. Pies will last, not because they are fancy and extraordinary; they will last because they are “plain and simple”. Because of all that they bring to mind and represent. Pies are the emblem of America, her citizens, and its culture: Pies are not something to be taken lightly.

Friday, October 10

Fall Fridays ~ Short Story

For this week I decided to post a short-story that I wrote in high school. I actually won first place in a regional contest for this story. Enjoy!

A dark night, along time ago, there was an old woman. The woman lived alone, deep in the forest, with her dog, Harold.

Every year in the spring, the woman planted squash and pumpkins in her garden which was guarded by a scarecrow. When fall came, she harvested her crop, and then cut up all of the squash and pumpkins for pies and cakes. This year though, she made a spooky jack-o-lantern to put on her porch.

One night when the woman was asleep in bed she heard a scratching against the side of her house and then a raspy, inaudible voice. The woman ignored it and fell back asleep.

The next morning when the woman went out to her garden she felt like she was being watched. All that day she felt that something was wrong.

That night just before she went to bed she let Harold outside. She closed the door and then heard him barking. She reopened the door and went out on the porch. The barking suddenly stopped. She called Harold but he didn't come.

All of a sudden the jack-o-lantern lit up, the pumpkin turned around and looked at her. The woman was frozen stiff. Suddenly the pumpkin began to rise and the woman realized the body was that of her scarecrow.

The woman stepped towards the door, realizing that it had latched behind her, she screamed, the scarecrow coming closer.

The jack-0-lantern said in a raspy voice, "You killed them! YOU!"

Those screams were the last ever heard from the old woman.

Tuesday, October 7

Fall Fridays

Being that I LOVE Fall I've decided to do something special each of the 4 remaining Fridays in October. I decided to do this after I realized how much of my own writing has in someway been influenced by this wonderful time of year.

Sometimes it might be a post with an essay that I wrote in college, another it might be a short story I wrote when I was in elementary school. You'll just have to check back every Friday to see what's new!