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Showing posts from 2016

Leather Britches Mother's Way

Happy New Year's everyone! I'm featuring a blog post from 2011. The story of how my mom made Leather Britches or Dried Green Beans. This recipe dates back to pioneer days. My mom learned from her mom,  Dora Warner Casto, who learned from her mom,  Lorene Casto Bailes. I hope you enjoy my essay.

My mother gardened all her life. It was one of her great loves, next to family, God, and country.

Because she grew up during the Depression, she learned to use every last item from her garden for canning, preserving, drying or pickling.

Every year at the end of the green bean season she made leather britches, dried beans that would keep for the winter.

These were the last beans hanging on the vines. The beans inside had grown to full size with outsides a bit withered. They were beyond the stage to can or preserve, or even to pickle.

Although her fried pickled green beans and corn bread were the best in the world. (Well, next to her biscuits and fried apples.)

Mother started the drying p…

Pairs at Nationals, by author Elizabeth Weiss Vollstadt NOW AVAILABLE. Read first chapter HERE free.

Guest Blog by Elizabeth Weiss Vollstadt about her just released new novel, PAIRS AT NATIONALS, an ice skating story. Perfect for the start of our winter season. Here's Elizabeth.






www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Pairs+at+Nationals++by+Elizabeth+Weiss+Vollstadt&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3APairs+at+Nationals++by+Elizabeth+Weiss+Vollstadt

PAIRS AT NATIONALS—Now Available at Special Price!
I’m excited to announce that PAIRS AT NATIONALS, the second book in my Pairs on Ice series, is now out and available on Amazon!  In this book for tweens, Jamie Bartlett, 13, and her partner Matt O’Connor, 15, have just won a gold medal at the sectional competition.  Now they are psyched to win gold at the National Championships.  But then an accident changes everything—and they are forced to train at a new rink with a new coach.  With skating as the backdrop, this book lets the tween reader (and older one, too) feel the struggles of training, the thrill of competitio…

Romance paperback now available - wrapping up those small holiday gifts....

NEW romance paperback makes a sweet gift for the reader in your life.

The publication of my paperback Dear Ann: Love Letters from Nam, which is a short story, is finally HERE. So happy. Just click the link below to go to Amazon and check it out. The story is told in letters between a young soldier in war-torn Vietnam and his bride back home in West Virginia. Priced at $5.99. I put a lot of hard work and considerable research into this story. It is a part of a much larger work - which may take the rest of my lifetime to finish or I may never. Thus, here's a portion of the story I still love! The letters make a good stand-alone story. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. If at all possible, please leave a review on Amazon. This paperback exists because of the many requests I had to turn this story into a tangible book. Dear Anne is filled with romance, and the emotion and angst that comes with war-time romance. Leaving a loved one behind to go fight in a war in a far away strange land…

Fifties Music Cure for What Ails you

This is a blog I've revised from 2010. It's very relevant today. I've been on a search for 50s music, the music that I grew up to.Recently I've ordered cd's and have had a great time listening to and dancing to the music. Remember Billy Joe Royal? Fats Domino? Sam Cooke? Well I remember them all and the words to their songs. What songs did you grow up to? I'm always looking for new music to listen to. I'd love to have your suggestions, not just from the 50's but during the time you grew up. What strikes your fancy? What songs did you fall in love to?
I shop at one of those stores where you can buy everything from groceries, to the latest movie, to tires for the car.

I passed one of those machines that plays music. The ones where you punch the song you want to hear and it takes off. Mostly the machines offer Celtic tunes, or peaceful songs to lull one to sleep. Not this one. It had some great selections.

My choice was SODA SHOP CLASSICS and when it started p…

Robert Frost Poems that I love.....

Gathering Leaves
Spades take up leaves No better than spoons, And bags full of leaves Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise Of rustling all day Like rabbit and deer Running away.
But the mountains I raise Elude my embrace, Flowing over my arms And into my face.
I may load and unload Again and again Till I fill the whole shed, And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight, And since they grew duller From contact with earth, Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use. But a crop is a crop, And who's to say where The harvest shall stop?

After Apple Picking
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree 
Toward heaven still. 
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill 
Beside it, and there may be two or three 
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough. 
But I am done with apple-picking now. 
Essence of winter sleep is on the night, 
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off. 
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight 
I got from looking through a pane of glass 
I skimmed this morning from the …

Happy Birthday!

 Sisters and Friends Forever!

Donna Sue and Bobbie
My birthday gift of a poem to her a few years ago




Today my sister Donna Sue Null Hoffman would be 77 years old. Three years without her has left a hole in my days. She called every day to check on me. She was like a second mother when we moved from our childhood home, I was five and she was eleven, and my mom remarried and worked full time. She took me under her wing and continued looking out for me until the day she died. One of the last things she told me when she was very ill in the hospital just before her death was she needed to take me shopping at Beall's (FL) and buy me clothes. She'd learned that I had bought some clothes at a local thrift store. (I love thrift stores. Her - not so much.) I asked her then what Beall's had that she liked so much. She said, "Pretty things." I asked her how she intended to get us to Beall's since she was …

Eyebrows: Help!

Those of you who still have your natural eyebrows, please hold up your hands. Okay. Nice show of hands. Now, let’s see the hands of those who have eyebrows that are not the greatest but still in place and serving you well.  O-kay. Good count. Thanks! All those who had your hands in the air are now dismissed. Sorry. This class is going to discuss and dis-cuss (not really! well, maybe!) the lack of nice regular eyebrows. When I was a kid like most of you girls in the audience, I had normal eyebrows. Nice shape, nice color. It was in my teens, when I started to pay attention to them, that they began to let me down. I first learned to pluck and tweeze the hairs above my eyes from watching my sister Sue do hers.  She had black brows in a perfect arch over big brown eyes. Nice.  Nice wasn’t my experience. Far from it. I either took off too many or too little. I never got the hang of tweezing or plucking so I gave that up. For a few years I let my brows grow in a random patch over my eyes. They were li…

Information about writing stories...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0985259116/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
Copy and paste to go to Ezra on Amazon


I ran across this questionnaire from a few years ago. Probably when I was preparing Ezra and Other Stories for publication. The questions made me think and figure out exactly why I wanted to write the stories in the collection. Hope this will help you if you're writing a story of if you've read EZRA and want to know my process.

What is your book's tone, and how do you want readers to perceive your text?

Each story in this collection houses characters that are flawed humans dealing with both serious and humorous situations. My characters are humble people most living in West Virginia. They’re ordinary people going about their lives the best they can and in most cases succeeding in spite of the odds against them.

Provide a summary of the stories in this book of eleven short stories.
Each story is named after the main character.

Mabel and the Garage Sale is about Mabel finding hope aft…

Who am I now?

Ray and I at his favorite restaurant, The Ridge Inn, in Laurelville. He's been gone two years and 7 months. Perhaps someday I'll figure out the question that haunts me.


Who am I now? 

I’ve thought about this a lot lately -

As I turn another year older this week.

I’ve lived my life taking care of others.

But that part of my journey is over.

What do I do now?

Who am I supposed to be?

The familiar is unfamiliar. 

I’m alone. No direction. No goals. No leader.

I walk in circles.

I aim for one place, end up in another.

I belong nowhere.

To no one.

The odd piece 

in a puzzle.

One person’s death

Took away my identity.

Who was I then?

Who am I now?

                                          ******

Thanks for reading.   Comments welcome.

Ah, Spring and all her glory.

I'm enjoying the spring weather that has finally arrived in Ohio bringing blooming pear trees, red buds and tulip trees. How about you? Do you love spring as much as I do? I spent a day on the patio, putting out the table, chairs, umbrella. I painted a white wicker plant table and have decided it's too good for the patio. I plan to use it in the bathroom instead. Just when I thought winter would last forever, spring arrived with temperatures in the 70's. I noted buds covering my rose bush and a robin building a nest in the crevice of my chimney. I wanted to let them stay but they managed to leave so much debris at my front door that I had no choice but to shoo them away. Hopefully they've moved on to one of the many trees and bushes in my community, a more cozy place for raising babies. When I was a kid growing up in Putnam County, WV, I was outside at the first glimpse of the sun coming through my bedroom window. I ran through our yard, down through the orchard where we …

She brought Jesus more than an Alabaster Box

This piece has been revised from an earlier version. Apologies.


What was an alabaster box or jar? Alabaster jars were often made from a precious stone found in Israel. This stone resembles marble, and were extremely expensive. These jars contained ointments, oils and perfume. The thick stone prevented the aroma from escaping and kept the perfume from spoiling. The shape of the jar often had a long neck and a sealed top. The top had to be broken to open, which allowed it to be used only once.  Some believe that women who owned these jars were usually prostitutes who used the smell to lure in men, or to cover up their own odor. However, several women owned many different types of perfumes. Sources for water were limited, so they used these oils and ointments for daily hygiene. 
The story from Luke 2:27 is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. Jesus was having dinner with a pharisee (Simon) and a lowly woman came to him with her alabaster box of expensive perfume. (It seems that …

"The waste paper basket is the writer's best friend." - Isaac B. Singer

Barbara signing books at Tamarack, WV with an avid reader.

On Rewriting & Quotes On Writing
Sometimes beginning writers say they don't believe in rewriting. They're afraid they'll somehow lose the excitement of the first draft. This is far from the truth. Rewriting is making the work better. You add, delete, and revise. What worked well in the first draft stays. Most professional writers know there is a sense of control that comes with revision. It's where one knows one has mastery of the writing craft. Not easy! Just remember - anything worth having is never easy. So if you'd like to start writing, or if  you're in the middle of a project, get busy. Time is wasting!

"It is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is common in all writing and among the best of writers."
- E. B. White

"I don't write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find wh…

Happy Valentine's Day...

What does Valentine's Day mean to you?  

We each have our own unique story of love and how we met "the one." 
Some have funny stories, strange stories, or simply humdrum stories that are special.

Here's how I met mine.

My cousin, Sue, married the guy's best friend, Bill. Sue and Bill had set me up on several dates that fizzled. I wasn't sure about this third one. However, I went along with it.
AND fifty some years later, I can report that it was a success. He was exciting, tall, dark, and handsome. A world traveler who'd been in the Navy (a Seabee), traveled aboard ships, vacationed in Hong Kong, stationed in the Phillipines, visited Hawaii and lived on Midway Island as a swabbie. He was, in other words, exactly what I was looking for. Someone who would take me away from my childhood home where I thought my life was the pits. (How is it we learn after we mature that our lives were pretty darned good growing up! In fact, real good!)

We started our lives in our h…