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Plotter or Pantser

23 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

A frequent interview question in the Indie writing world is “are you a plotter or a pantser?” Meaning do you carefully plot out your story or write by the seat of your pants.

For my entire marriage my meal planning has been pantser style. I would buy whichever meats were on sale and wait for inspiration. My whole way of meal planning changed in May of 2018 when we took the plunge to begin the Keto way of eating.

As I began reading recipes and creating mental meal combinations I quickly found that my pantser ways would not work.I did begin making shopping lists but they were pretty general.

This continued until this past Christmas when I faced the challenge of creating Christmas Eve treats for our family tradition. We have an early supper, attend Christmas Eve services then drive around enjoying the Christmas light displays. After which we return home and enjoy a spread of cheeses, crackers, and chocolate baked goods.

As I made plans for the treats I realized my pantser self was in way over my head.

I decided it was time to change my ways. Using the List app on my phone, I made a list of the foods I planned to make, then I notated the cookbook and page number. I get so frustrated not being able to remember where I found a recipe. Underneath that list I created a shopping list and used the checkmark feature as I put items in my shopping cart.

This was life changing! Now I make a weekly menu of at least 4 meals plus any desserts I would like to make. Usually I have enough leftovers for two suppers and we treat ourselves to take out once per week. Under each meal I create a sublist with items to buy and where to shop for them if they on sale or aren’t available at Aldi.

The list below I neglected to add the source and page number of the recipe . Big mistake.

  shopping list

SPAGHETTI AND MEAT BALLS

  • Tomatoes. HAVE ALL OTHER INGREDIENTS

CHILE’S RELLENO BAKE

  • 2 OUNCE OF COTIJA CHEESE Walmart 
  • ENCHILADA SAUCE
  • 8 OZ MONTEREY CHEESE
  • 28 OZ OF GREEN CHILIES walnart
  • 8 0Z CHEDDAR CHEESE
  • 4 CUPS OF CHICKEN (BUY WHOLE)

TACO SOUP-TUESDAY

  • 1 CUP ZUCCHINI Walmart 
  • I JALAPENO PEPPER Walmart 
  • 2 LBS GROUND BEEF
  • 8 0Z TOMATO SAUCE
  • BEEF BROTH- 2 CUPS

QUICK CHICKEN CHOWDER

  • 1 /2 CUP CHOPPED COOKED BACON (BUY LARGE BAG AT WALMART OR SAMS
  • 1 ½ POUNDS CHOPPED COOKED CHICKEN ( CHECK OUT THE CUBED CHICKEN
  • 2 CUPS CHOPPED CAULIFLOWER STEMS AND FLORETS

PHILLY CHICKEN CHEESESTEAK CASSEROLE

  • 12 SLICES PROVOLONE CHEESE
  • 8 0Z MUSHROOMS Publix 
  • 8 OZ CHEDDAR CHEESE
  • 2 BELL PEPPERS Walmart 
  • ITALIAN SEASONING

How about you, do you create weekly meal plans?

Since beginning the Keto lifestyle my husband has lost 65 pounds and has seen improvement in his inflammatory issues. I have lost a mere 25 pounds but am no longer close to being pre-diabetic, inflammation is greatly improved and energy level 100% improved. There are many version of Keto floating around. We strive to eat whole food with minimal processing and additives. I read a LOT of labels! I get most of my meal ideas from Diet Doctor dot com and Kristie Sullivan’s cookbooks.

iAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books . 

My 2020 goal is to continue using  my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Suddenly I Am All Pink and Lavender

21 Jan

I have been making graphics for Social Media with verses from Proverbs. I have enjoyed pairing photos we have taken with a Proverb and sharing the story behind the pictures on the other site I manage, Rebekah Lyn Books.

This picture was taken on Christmas Day on the Merritt Island Wild Life Refuge. For some odd reason this week I am gravitating toward pinks and lavender backgrounds.

It will be interesting to see if this phase continues or if I go back to photographs. Wasn’t there a famous painter who was known for his color phases?

Blurred Days and Hot Cheese

16 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

This has been a busy week, but the only way I can remember why, is to look at the list of appointments on my calendar. PLEASE tell me I am not the only one who has do this. The days and weeks fly leaving blurred impressions.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Monday I had a mid-morning eye appointment that involved driving out of town, followed by a trip to Sam’s Club to pick up heavy whipping cream, a Keto staple. Made it home, had lunch, took a little rest then it was time to begin supper prep.

Tuesday I worked at our church food pantry, Compassion house.

It was so busy I didn’t get my coffee break until it was over. Whew! I am sad that people in our community need help with food, but I am thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of this ministry.

Wednesday- now that is a mystery. I know I woke up, I know I did stuff around the house. I do not know what it was. I DO remember making supper.

Have you ever eaten Country Ham Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese? The first time I had it was in Charleston, South Carolina at Poogan’s Porch restaurant. I was hooked and searched online for the recipe. You can find it here.

Recipe Direct has the same version in a smaller quantity and without the cayenne pepper.

We eat Keto and for supper Wednesday I planned bacon wrapped chicken tenders and the Poogan’s Porch Country Ham, Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese (substituted cauliflower because everything Keto substitutes with cauliflower). Except the gouda was not smoked, instead it was smoking’.

When my daughter bought it at Aldi, she didn’t notice the red flecks scattered throughout. No worries, I said to myself, I will just leave out the cayenne pepper.

I should have worried. After slicing off a piece to sample, I needed water-STAT.

My husband is not a fan of hot foods so a recipe change was in order. I decided to use half gouda, half cheddar and 2 ounces of cream cheese. The dish turned out sopping delicious but it still had some heat. I am not patient when a recipe calls for simmering until the sauce is reduced by half. Consequently the consistency was more soupy than I would like.

But I found a bright side. I have quite a bit of the sauce left over and tonight I plan to add pizzaz to steamed broccoli by spooning some of the sauce over the ho-hum veggie. The sauce will make its next appearance mixed with shredded chicken and served over Zeroodles with Oat Fiber. You can buy them on Amazon but the price is insane. I buy them on Netrition.

Wednesday evening I remember vividly. My daughter purchased a laser printer from the church rummage sale back in the fall. It is an older model but was still in the box. She tried repeatedly to set up the air print feature without success. I volunteered to try. (Note to self, never buy a Samsung or HP product.)

Samsung was bought by HP and the only way to speak with tech support is to BUY a subscription. That is insane. After spending over two hours searching online, with nerves stretched taunt, I admitted defeat. Then my husband came in and began making suggestions… We won’t go there.

Except for an early morning test that involved drinking nasty liquid, nothing exciting today. I think it is time for lunch.

How is your week going? Let me know if you try the Mac and Cheese recipe.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Memories Made for Savoring

9 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Thursday and Friday are my days to post announcements and a daily Scripture verse to our North Carolina Facebook page.  Since we have taken masses of photos of the mountains during vacations over the years, I have begun trying to choose pictures of the area rather than the free photos on Pixabay.

The scripture for today is Luke 14:23

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Today as I was scrolling through 2011 photos thinking surely I have photos of highways and hedges, I found pictures of a day trip we took with our grandchildren and son. 

In the summer we tried to go on an “adventure” once or twice per month. This particular day we had lunch in a picnic area with rugged stone tables, then embarked on a slow one way drive through the unpaved Heintooga Round-Bottom road. When we first discovered this drive, one drove over there stream on a concrete ford. In later years a bridge to cross the stream was built. We preferred the crossing but I am sure it was often a problem during heavy rains and runoff.

Description from the website.


This beautiful driving trail descends from the high altitudes of the Balsams down into the coves of Roundbottom and Cherokee. The road is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Cherokee entrance of the Park. Continue all the way up to the mountaintop. Make a left turn at the Balsam Mountain Campground sign and continue until the paved road dead ends just beyond the campground. This is a one-way road so once you start there is no turning back. The first fourteen miles are bumpy, winding, and sometimes steep. When you come out of the woods, it looks like the road dead ends into the water. Actually, you drive right through the water on a concrete ford. Park here, take your shoes off, and enjoy the cool mountain water! From this point it’s a two way gravel road back to Cherokee. When you dead end into Big Cove Road take a left turn to go to Cherokee!

It was a good day filled with fun and laughter. Our “grands” are grown now and I miss those days but I am thankful for the memories. I savor them. Time passes quickly and circumstances change. Take every opportunity to make memories with loved ones and friends.

My Always Resolution

2 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

We had an exciting New Year’s Eve. We met our daughter in Orlando and went shopping at Ikea. We were home by 6:30 pm and in our PJs by 8:30. Then I spent the rest of the evening listening to sporadic fireworks.

The pop, bang and sizzle of the fireworks reminded me of New Years Eve, 1974. That was the night this inexperienced and nervous mother brought her first child home from the hospital. She had been fussy all afternoon and into the evening. When she finally fell asleep I blew out a sigh of relief. Unfortunately the relief lasted for maybe an hour. Then the fireworks began and you guessed it….they woke her up and she was up for hours, or so it seemed. Hmm… she never became a good sleeper. Coincidence?

Did you make some new resolutions for 2020? I use the term new because sometimes we seem to recycle the same ones year after year. That can be depressing.

I didn’t make a single one. I could have chosen to lose more weight, begin an exercise program or read more non fiction, all good things, but also guilt producing if I failed. Many years ago one of my Bible teachers gave each lady in her group a tiny easel with a verse chosen for them. It has become one of my life verses.I think I’ll stick with it as my always resolution.




I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

…And Nature Sing

26 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Christmas day the weather was perfect. It was the kind of day that people like me who flee the summer heat say “if only Florida could be like this all year.” After exchanging gifts and enjoying our traditional Christmas breakfast of country ham, biscuits and eggs (no grits now that we are low carb-ers) we decided to drive out to the beach.

Christmas afternoon at the beach became a family tradition while we were raising a family. I worked in healthcare on second shift and chose to be off Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. That way I could spend most of the holiday with the family. Most years my husband, children and my parents would load up the van with surf rods and off they would go fishing and I would go to work.

We are blessed to live near the Canaveral National Seashore and pristine Playalinda beach.

It was good to see families outdoors and enjoying the beautiful day and we enjoyed watching them.

My dad fished the beach several times during the week, finding the best spots. Since the water is constantly moving, the sands shift the deep troughs where the fish run. He would stand on the dunes and read the waves, He was a fish whisperer. We miss him.

The “beach road” has 13 crossovers to the dunes. It had been a long time since we drove the length of the road so we decided to explore. We found this sign to be humorous.

I have to tell you the parking lot for this crossover was the most crowded! I hope they has sunscreen.

One day when my dad was fishing near the nude section a man came walking up the beach toward him, clad only in a Palmetto branch front and back. Someone had taken the man’s clothes! I hope he had some extra in his car.

The Canaveral National Seashore adjoins the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. There are multiple dirt runs running through the area giving one an up close experience with nature without bugs or snakes! We usually come across gators sunning but I guess they were celebrating Christmas with their families : ). My daughter and I snapped pictures of birds as my husband slowly drove through the swampy terrain.

We decided to drive on to Haulover Canal to check out the Manatee viewing platform. When we arrived there was only one other person there. By the time we left the parking lot was filling up. We didn’t see any Manatees, hope they had better luck.

The canal got its name because it literally was a spot where first indians and then settlers would haul their canoes and boats from the ocean into Mosquito Lagoon. I bet you can’t guess where the lagoon got its name!

We drove alongside the Australian Pine tree lined canal where families parked to fish and barbecue. I only snapped one photo as I didn’t want to block the narrow road.

Our drive was accompanied by Christmas music playing softly on the car radio. It was a glorious day and I seemed to feel nature sing.

Some random photos.

PS This is the setting for my daughter’s novel, Undaunted, formerly titled Jessie.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

We Wish You Joy

24 Dec

Wherever you live and however you celebrate Christmas, we wish you joy as you celebrate the birth of the Savior with those you love.

Savor the Season

20 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Wow, we have been in Florida for one week and I am feeling a bit exhausted. The 11 hour drive from the NC mountains last Wednesday left my husband and I with “road trip lag.” Thursday started off early with a much needed hair trim. It seems to take a couple of days for me to settle into my Florida groove buying groceries and putting away my must haves that I brought from NC.

Saturday we visited EPCOT at Walt Disney World to experience Candlelight with Gary Sinise narrating. The show is free but getting a seat involves standing in line for a couple of hours on the chance of getting in. We are too old for that these days! Earlier in the year we purchased a dinner package that would give us priority seating . It is expensive, but it’s our Christmas thing. We chose to dine in Morocco’s Marrakesh restaurant. We ate there once before and were pleasantly surprised with the flavorful food. The restaurant itself is beautiful with mosaic tile throughout.

I am uncomfortable taking pictures in a restaurant and invading diners privacy. I shot this one over the head of the couple next to us. In the center section a dancer performed to beautiful music played on a keyboard.

After our meal we visited a favorite store in the UK, Twining’s tea. We stocked up on the flavors we can’t find in our local grocery stores. To my surprise, the park was quite crowded, but it was a Saturday. After exploring shops in Japan and France we made our way to The American Adventure and were fortunate to find an empty picnic table to rest while we waited for our time to enter the amphitheater. I loved the Christmas tree and people were lined up to have pictures taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

The music was magnificent, Gary Sinise as narrator superb. As the sun went down, the evening turned brisk. An absolutely perfect evening… but boy were we tired. Thankfully our daughter volunteered to drive home.

Do you ever have weeks where you know you were busy, but it’s all a blur? That is how this week has been. I haven’t wrapped a single Christmas gift or planned our Christmas meal. On the plus side, I have made muffins and strawberry ice cream!

My friends, as we prepare to celebrate this joyful holiday let’s remember to savor the season…time spent with family, cherishing memories and most of all celebrating the birth of the Savior.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors. My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

On the Move

12 Dec

My Take

Onisha Ellis

Wednesday was moving day. Well not actually moving, maybe transition day is a better phrase. Early this morning, we loaded and I do mean loaded our car and set out for Florida.

We left the mountains in jackets and gloves. Let me clarify, my husband left in jackets and gloves, I left in a short sleeve Christmas shirt with a lightweight hoodie. Now we are settled into our daughter’s home with the air conditioner blasting. My feet are bare, no longer needing socks or slippers.

I am a big fan of cold days, bowls of soup, coffee, a warm throw and a good book. I will miss them. But I am also a fan of spending time with our daughter and getting together with precious friends. The winter will pass quickly and then I will be sad to leave Florida. We are blessed to be content wherever we end up.

So goodbye mountains.

Hello Florida!

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Thanksgiving Our Way

5 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

We had an untraditional Thanksgiving day. Our daughter flew up around noon and since the airport is an hour and a half away, we decided to not stress about the meal. We could be thankful just as easily on Friday. And we were!

Usually when we make an airport run to Asheville, we do some shopping. Since shops were closed we decided to take a scenic route home along the Blue Ridge Parkway. For some reason, maybe because the area is familiar, we hadn’t driven this portion. It was beautiful and we will be driving it again!

To our surprise there were several cars parked at the overlooks and the passengers were sitting in the sun, some even picnicking. This car was parked next to us and I tried to snap this picture without them noticing.

Saturday evening a cold front moved in bringing with it rain and heavy winds. I heard some noise during the night but didn’t think much about it. I always hear noises. Sunday as we were backing out of the driveway on the way to church, my ever observant husband spotted at tall pine tree down at the back of the house. We have a lot of trees and the downed one was stuck in the top of one. We were thankful for this as it prevented the tree from falling on our roof! Getting it the rest of the way down would prove to be challenging.

I was thrilled that our daughter was here to help her dad. Their brains run on the same track and she works well with him. Me….not so much.

A portion of the tree that was hanging at a 90 degree angle was fairly simple to bring down. The rest of the tree not so simple. As darkness closed in they secured the tree with ropes in the hope that if the wind brought the tree the rest of the way down, they would control the fall.

Our daughter had an early evening flight on Monday and her dad didn’t want to spend the morning working on the tree. That meant that on Tuesday I would be his helper. Uh-oh.

Tuesday morning he brought out a come-along (no idea if that is spelled correctly) and attached it to ropes and then a chain. He cranked and pulled to no avail. Mostly I watched and said “be careful!” I suggested he come inside for lunch and rest a bit. The bit turned out to be a couple of hours and that was a good thing. Because, before I could put my jacket and shoes on, I heard a whoosh. I ran to the window to make sure my husband was ok and saw this.

The tree was down and with only minor damage to a path rail! We are beyond thankful the tree didn’t damage the house and fell in such a way that we didn’t have to pay a tree surgeon to take it down. My husband has plans for the wood and next spring I hope he is able to spend many happy hours in his wood shop.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

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