Dinner And A Movie Monday – Dunkirk


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DunkirkLast Sunday my sister and I went to see Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and it’s been on my mind ever since. Stark and gripping, the film allows viewers to experience the events set into motion the end of May and the first of June in 1940.

The movie is about the evacuation of 338,226 men (including 123,000 French soldiers) who were cut off from the rest of the French Army by the German advance and left stranded on On the set of the new movie 'Dunkirk'the beaches of Dunkirk. It was written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan and told from three perspectives—the land, the sea and the air.At first, it was difficult to follow the non-linear narrative, especially since the time frame varies from one week to one day to one hour and switches from one to another throughout the movie. On land, we see a week’s events through the eyes of Tommy, a young British private and Commander Bolton caught in the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation. By sea, we join Mr. Dawson and his son who volunteer to head to Dunkirk the day before. In the air, we see what happens in an hour when three Spitfires take on the German Luftwaffe.

On the set of new film 'Dunkirk'It contains little dialogue, projecting the suspense through the visuals and music. Written to accommodate the intensity of Hans Zimmer’s music, we heard the sound of a ticking clock throughout the movie. Thousands of extras were employed, and boats that had participated in the real Dunkirk evacuation were used, as well as using genuine era-appropriate planes for aerial sequences. Nolan was also adamant that the entire cast be British.

To those of you who like historical movies like this, I recommend Dunkirk. It’s the first WWII film I’ve seen from the British point of view. I saw a whole new perspective. It was an emotional journey with all the impact of Saving Private Ryan without the blood.

On the set of new film 'Dunkirk'The reaction of the soldiers on the beach, hoping to be rescued and wondering if they would ever see home again, the frustration of British officers trying to achieve the impossible, the resolve of the pilots, and the selfless courage of those men who piloted the little ships of Dunkirk.

(Note: no recipe this time. I don’t think I saw any eating in the movie with the exception of bread and jelly sandwiches, and we all know how to make those)


Dinner And A Movie Monday – Morning Glory


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morning-gloryMy sister and I stumbled across this movie years ago and it’s become one of our go-to films, because it’s such a simple little story of how two damaged people open up and learn to love.

It’s based on a book written by Lavyrle Spencer. I’ve read most of her stuff, and it was one of my favorites…the kind that makes you go “awwwww”. I was thrilled to learn it had been made into a movie. It stars Christopher Reeve and Deborah Raffin.  We watched it again just last week and decided the acting was his best ever.

Will Parker is a man with an unfortunate past. After serving five years in prison for manslaughter, he’s just trying to find work. While passing through a small town in Georgia, he sees an ad in the paper. Ellie Dinsmore, recently widowed mother of two small boys and another on the way is advertising for a husband.

Desperate, Will goes to her farm. Despite Ellie’s misgivings, she agrees to put him up in the barn. After discovering how much they need each other, Will and Ellie fall in love and marry. She gives birth to a healthy little girl, and they work together to make the farm profitable.

But something happens to threaten their happiness, and Ellie is forced to come out of her shell and fight for the man she loves.


Honey Butter

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup honey

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (about 2 minutes). Serve butter at room temperature.

Dinner And A Movie Monday – Sommersby


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Sommersby(Reviewed this movie a couple of years ago. Watched it again last week. Enjoyed it as much as the first time, maybe even more.)

Sommersby , a 1993 film starring Richard Gere and Jodie Foster. Adapted from the historical account of 16th century French peasant Martin Guerre, this version takes place in the Reconstruction period following the War Between the States. It’s a period movie, with a touching love story and the chance for redemption.

Six long years after leaving his farm to fight in the war, Jack Sommersby is presumed dead. In spite of the hardships, his young widow and son are content in his absence, because he was an unpleasant and abusive husband. Her neighbor has asked her to marry, but she’s strangely reluctant.

Imagine her surprise when her husband returns a changed man. He’s kind and loving to Laurel and their young son, Rob. He even reads from Homer to them, something the old Jack never would have done. When she asks him why he’s different, he claims “War changes you; makes you appreciate things.”

The neighbor has reason to believe Jack is an impostor. And he’s not the only one. Everyone says he seems completely different. After taking the townspeople’s money, he sets off to buy the tobacco seed claiming that the crops will raise enough funds to rebuild the town church. All those that bought in on the deal set to work, transforming the dull and lifeless plantation into a breeding ground of promise and prosperity.

Laurel gives birth to a daughter, Rachel. Shortly after her birth, two US Marshals come to town town to arrest Jack for murder, Once the trial begins, Laurel’s attempts to save her husband quickly focus on the question of his identity: whether this “Jack” is who he claims to be, or a lookalike who met the real Sommersby in prison.

Laurel and Jack’s lawyer agree to argue that her husband is an impostor, not the same man who left Laurel to fight in the war. This would save him from being hanged, but it would mean those people who believed him to be the real Somersby would lose everything. Although she tries to convince the jury the man she loves is not a murderer, Jack is determined to be noble.

This was another ‘sister’ movie. I’ve never cared for Richard Gere, but I do love a good story about the old south after the War Between the States, and this one did not disappoint. The scenery was rich and earthy, the colors were vibrant, the characters real and the love story between Jack and Laurel was touching.

Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken

Nothing personifies the south better than fried chicken. To make the best batter ever for chicken or anything fried, this is my recipe.

1 c. milk

1 egg



1-2 c flour (depending on how much chicken you’re frying.

I either pull the skin off or use skinless chicken. Salt and pepper each piece and roll in flour. Dip in a mixture of milk and beaten egg. Roll in flour again. Use a cast iron skillet on medium heat with about a ½ inch of olive oil and fry on both sides. Makes a wonderful, crunchy golden brown crust. Take care to cook thick pieces long enough or they’ll be raw on the inside.

I like to serve it with mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh green beans and homemade biscuits, dripping with butter.Add iced tea, of course, and lots of it. Makes my mouth water just to think about it.

Makes my mouth water.

Dinner and a Movie Monday ~ Sophie and The Rising Sun


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sophie_and_the_rising_sun_headerLast weekend my sister and I took the chance on another movie we hadn’t seen advertised and didn’t know anything about.  It turned out to be a very good choice.

Sophie and the Rising Sun is a 2016 American film based on the 2001 novel of the same name. The film was released at Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2017 by Monterey Media.

It opens in the autumn of 1941 in a small southern town. From the first scene I felt transported to Salty Creek, South Carolina. I could feel the cool air against my neck, bringing with it the rich smell of earth and subtle fragrance of hydrangeas and the sound of soft, southern voices rising and falling.

Sophie and the Rising Sun tells a compelling love story. Sophie, an artist who also fishes and sells crabs to the townsfolk, and an Asian stranger to town are swept up in the tides of history. Like all small towns, Salty Creek has it’s share of gossip. And people who are quick to judge, many while harboring their own dark secrets.

Mr. Ohta, appears in the town badly beaten and under mysterious circumstances. Sophie, a native of Salty Creek, quickly becomes transfixed by him and a friendship born of their mutual love of art blossoms into a delicate and forbidden courtship.

After Pearl Harbor is bombed, a surge of misguided patriotism, bigotry and violence sweeps through the town, threatening Mr. Ohta’s life. A trio of women, each with her own secrets – Sophie, along with the town matriarch and her housekeeper risk their lives to protect him.


Crab Cakes

~Crab Cakes~

  1. 1.  In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup bread crumbs, green onions, red pepper, egg, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder and cayenne; fold in crab.
  2. 2. Place remaining bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Divide mixture into eight portions; shape into 2-in. …
  3. 3.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat  – Serve hot and enjoy!

Note: Once again, I feel the need to apologize to my readers. When I retired the end of January, my intention was to post on my blog at least once a week. But the past few months have been even busier than expected. My time has been split between things I need to do (get my finances in order, finish the house remodel and landscape the yard) and things I want to do (attend critique meetings, spend time with friends and family and get ready for a new grandchild)

Soon things will change. Texas summer weather will be here. Heat and humidity. For me, it means hiding inside the house with a tall glass of iced tea and spending my time writing. Maybe I’ll get caught up. Fingers crossed.


Dinner and Movie Monday – The Dressmaker


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The DressmakerWhen my sisters and I were little, sometimes my parents let us stay up late to watch an old black and white classic. Other times they took us to the drive-in. There we piled into the back seat in our pajamas with pillows and blankets, watching a double feature.

The three of us love to get sit back, get comfy and lose ourselves in a good flick. All kinds. So, when we had lunch together recently, one of my sisters recommended one she’d recently seen. She said it was great and loaned us her copy. She was right.

The Dressmaker is a 2015 Australian film written and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, based on the novel of the same name, written by Rosalie Hamm. Kate Winslet plays a dressmaker, Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage, who returns to a small Australian town to take care of her mother. It’s a story of revenge and reckoning. Moorhouse has described the movie as “Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven with a sewing machine.

After being accused of being responsible for the death of classmate Stewart Pettybone, Myrtle Dunnage is sent away from her hometown of Dungatar. Twenty-five years later, she returns to take care of her mother and ends up unraveling the mystery of Stewart’s death.

The whole town is buzzing about Tilly, especially handsome Teddy McSwiney. It only gets worse when she fashions a beautiful dress for one of the local girls who successfully uses it to catch a young man’s attention. Soon, every woman in town is wearing a “Tilly original”.

The film was filled with funny as well as touching scenes. Judy Davis played her mother, and she was a wonderful character. Liam Hemsworth was good as well. And when Tilly ends up getting her revenge, you’ll want to applaud.

Thanks for the heads up Jo Beth. This was a good one!

Lamingtons – In the movie, Tilly’s mother made Marijuana Brownies, which were a hit. However, this is an authentic Australian recipe I thought looked interesting.

australian foodPrepare time: 30 min

Cook: 60 min

Serves: 6


  •   Butter – 1 cup + 4 tbsps (unsalted and softened)
  •   Sugar – 1 3/4 cups
  •   Vanilla – 2 tsps
  •   Eggs – 4
  •   2 1/2 cups flour
  •   Baking powder – 2 tsps
  •   Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  •   Milk – 2/3 cup
  •   Buttermilk – 1/3 cup
  •   Salt – 1/2 tsp
  •   Coconut – 2 cups, for coating
  •   For Chocolate Sauce/Icing:
  •   Butter – 2 tbsps, unsalted and softened
  •   Milk – 1/2 cup
  •   Sugar – 2 cups, powdered
  •   1/3 cup, unsweetened cocoa powder
  •   Hot water – 2 1/2 to 3 tbspsPreheat oven to 350° Grease and line two 8″ cake pans with baking/parchment paper. In a bowl, cream butter, castor sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour, a few tbsps at a time. Use a wooden spoon to combine. Next add a little milk and stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk, ending with the flour. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool down to room temperature and store in fridge. Next day, prepare the lamingtons. Stir the mixture until smooth and a bit thick. It should not be a thick liquid as the cake will not absorb the chocolate coating. Once the excess sauce is drained which takes about 2-3 minutes, place each chocolate coated cube on a plate of dried coconut. Lamingtons can be stored in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
  • Sprinkle dried coconut all over the chocolate coated cake and allow to set for a couple of minutes and serve.
  • Once the cake is firm on touch and not crumbly, cut into small 2 inch square pieces. Cut each square in half, sandwich with jam or chocolate sauce. Use a fork or wooden skewer and dip each sandwiched cake squares in the chocolate sauce and coat well on all sides. Place on a cooling rack and allow excess sauce to drain by placing a parchment paper below the rack.
  • Prepare the chocolate icing. Place the icing sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  • Divide the cake batter equally into the two greased and lined pans. Bake for 55 mts to an hour or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine. Add the buttermilk and beat for 10 seconds.
  • Sieve all purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. Add salt and whisk together. Keep aside.
  • Method for making Lamingtons

australian food

How To Radically Revise Your Novel

Rachel Poli

Radical revision is a term to revise or rewrite your current draft. It’s a tool to help your reimagine your story.

This is a method I learned in school when I was working on my English degree. I’ve kept the notes these past two years because I found it to be helpful and a pretty cool method. It didn’t seem so at the time because it was homework, but I do think it helps.

How To Radically Revise Your NovelWhat does radical revision do?

The point of radically revising your novel is to try something new, something different you wouldn’t normally do. Rewrite your current draft in a new way and see which one works better.

It may or may not work, but you’re experimenting, getting to know your novel and characters at a deeper level, and you’re practicing new forms of writing.

In a way, I guess you could look at this as a…

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Why your writing is important 


People often say that words aren’t dangerous. But writers know better than that. We understand the power that words have. When we wield them we are all aware how we’re casting lightening stolen from the Gods.

Events in the world prove just how fickle words are. Assaulted by ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘post-truth’ a fiction writer gets concerned. People are using the words we love to spread fear not knowledge. Moreover, the seriousness of reality can make our whimsical tales feel unworthy of attention.

But fear not. Ursula Le Guin in her usual brilliant fashion, explained the difference between these ‘lies dressed as truth’ and actual fiction. You aren’t part of the distraction, you’re part of the fight against it.

Those words that you pull from your mind are not a distraction from current events. They are a mirror to it, deliberately or not. You have something to say…

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3 Tips To Be An Awesome Critique Partner

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

Your humble host. your humble host

My job as your mentor and/or guide…

…and/or critique partner and/or editor and/or sounding board…

is to figure out the things you’ve done that make your story less perfect, point them out, and try to help you figure out ways to correct them.

It’s also my job when I review my own writing.

I consider it my duty, what I would do for you and what I need you to do for me. Really giving it to each other straight so we can make our stories the best they can be.

It is a tall order.


It requires guts to tell somebody what’s wrong – with patience and kindness to do it in an encouraging and non-destructive way – and it requires time and energy to help them come up with a solution.

It requires fortitude to hear what’s wrong, even when delivered kindly…

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IMG_0985eIf I want to be successful as a writer, I must understand what makes my characters tick. Strengths, weaknesses. Things that make them happy or sad. Whatever motivates them. Including their fears.

I had an interesting conversation the other day with members of my critique group. I just considered it part of the meeting where we all visit and catch up before we get down to business. Until I got to thinking about it.

We were discussing our personal fears. Something we all have whether we want to admit it or not. While one of my friends had no problem admitting hers, she didn’t feel compelled to face them. Another friend said it was her faith that had helped her face hers.

Later that evening, it hit me. There’s a fine line between facing our fears and conquering them. And I’m not so sure that facing them isn’t the most difficult. Who wants to admit the fear of something others might consider irrational? And once we do, it means we have to deal with them. Which isn’t easy.

I have to admire anyone who has conquered their fears, but I must also admire those who keep trying.

One Man’s Journey (Part 4)


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After Lunch, Les Voutes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Here’s the 4th and final excerpt from Stan Hampton’s Journey Of The Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I’ve enjoyed making this trip with him via his wonderful photographs. At the end of this post I’ll share  an excerpt from The Ledger, available in Stan’s Intimate Journeys Anthology. Thanks again to Stan for sharing. You’re welcome back any time.


Charmaine Pauls, Montpellier, France

Did I mention I am a published writer? Not self-publishing, though. Several years ago on an author loop run by Melange Books LLC, I met the very talented Charmaine Pauls. We have become very good friends, and she is one of two authors that I regularly pepper with questions, particularly regarding female dress and perspective. (Ahem, she is the friend who came to my rescue by calling from Montpellier for a taxi in Vers-Pont-du-Gard—and, don’t ask why I don’t know enough French to call my own taxi.) After my arrival she took me on a quick walking tour of Montpellier, and we stopped for lunch.

700-year old church, Montpellier, France

One of the sites she showed me was a 700-year old church. Beautiful and incredible—I’ve used those words so many times since arrival in France, and especially during Winter Break, that I must find other words to use. But words really do not do justice to what I have seen and experienced.

Old bookstore, Montpellier, France

Charmaine showed me the bookstore Le Bookshop in the old town where she once held a book signing. This is the cellar—the ground floor is just as fantastic. And no, the stones are not mere decoration. Imagine, a bookstore in the cellar of a building several hundred, if not a thousand, years old!

After resting and visiting with Charmaine and her wonderful family in Montpellier, I returned to Pau on Sunday night, 5 March.

This has been incredible. I have gazed upon what I had only read about and finally I have walked where Romans, Gauls, and Medieval men and women once walked. My journey of the spirit has come to a close for now. But there are more journeys in the next two months.

And after that? I want to return to France to live for a year or two, to write and especially to photograph. And you know what? Such a happening is a very real possibility—I can do this rather than simply dream and wish as I once did. I can do this.


Intimate Journeys Anthology, Melange Books, February 2012.

ISBN: 978-1-61235-332-6

BLURB: Every journey through life is an intimate journey simply because it is someone’s personal journey. Sometimes the journey is like being alone in a small boat at the mercy of wild ocean currents, and sometimes the journey is like being part of a crew in a strong ship with billowing, wind-filled sails…

EXCERPT: The wintry night of New Year’s Eve 1899 was filled with excitement, hope, and wonder. The world was leaving the 19th century behind and entering the 20th century and no one could guess what wonders the new century offered.

Except Caleb Winston could care less. He was a heavyset man with a thick gray beard and mustache, and long gray hair slicked back over his head. As he sat in his favorite office chair brought from Fort Abraham Lincoln to the newly built home in New York, he let out a sorrowful sigh.

“It’s time to retire,” Abigail, his wife of thirty-six years, and his grown children had reminded him for several years until he gave in.

It was with a heavy and sometimes resentful heart that he turned over the operation of his sutler stores, convenience stores that served the soldiers in their far-flung forts, the local civilian population, and sometimes the Indians, to a long-time and trusted employee. He had two stores each in Montana, Wyoming and Arizona, and a pair of Indian trading posts in Wyoming and Arizona. Before he retired, management was usually conducted by mail and telegraph, though he sometimes visited his distant stores and posts. Though he was no longer a young man he enjoyed the travel.

At last, he and Abigail packed up their home and moved east that last spring of the 19th century; Abigail was ecstatic as their three children and their families lived within walking distance of their new home.

Yet, settling into a comfortable retirement was difficult. Caleb missed the vast wildness of the west with its beautiful snowy, forested mountains, isolated mountain valleys, full rushing rivers, and grassy prairies that extended to the edge of the world. During his travels he sometimes felt that he was watching a hard, yet pristine world, vanishing before the onslaught of endless settlers and a growing, yet mystifying technology. Future generations would never know the West as he had known it.

His resentment and unhappiness wasn’t only due to leaving a beloved life and world behind, but a realization that he was old. His health wasn’t the best and he sometimes felt his path in life was becoming narrower and darker, as if he was entering a deep sunless gorge that he would never leave…

The Ledger