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Elvis' birthday is coming up, dontcha know? So, today we are visiting Graceland, as I review Sideburns and Suspicions. Author S.C. Merritt wrote an entire story around a girls road trip to Graceland for the King's birthday and it is delightful.

This book is available as a free download at the link below, but let me tell you a bit about the story. Side Burns and Suspicions introduces us to Glory Harper, Momma, and Macy, Glory's daughter. Glory's husband was murdered and she has been depressed and withdrawn. Her college aged daughter decides to take Glory and Momma on a road trip to Graceland in honor of Momma and The King sharing a birthday.

What follows is a fun and fast paced ride through Graceland (wonderful descriptions of The King and his home) and solving a quick mystery that Glory gets involved with. This book is a fun introduction to the Sweetwater Springs Southern Mysteries Series.

I enjoyed spending time at Graceland and meeting Glory, Momma, and Macy. Follow the link below to get Sideburns and Suspicions and many other Free Cozy mysteries and if you read S.C.'s book, let me know how you like it!

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All across the Southeast today, families are sitting down to the traditional meal of the New Year: Roasted Pork, Collard Greens, Black-Eyed Peas, and Cornbread or Buttermilk Biscuits. There are variations to this theme and how it is prepared, but most all Southerners are eating or have eaten this meal on New Year's Day if they want to have wealth and luck in the the new year.

Most people have heard of this superstition, but don't know the history behind the beliefs. It all started with Africa, where both Collards and Black-Eyed Peas are native. Greens are the color of money, so it makes sense they symbolize a wish for a prosperous year, and pork has been associated with gluttony and wealth for centuries. Cornbread or biscuits' golden hue represents the hope for gold, but what in the world do black-eyed peas have to do with it all?

Black-eyed peas have been a part of year end celebrations for over 1,000 years. The peas have been known to show up as part of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, because they symbolize wealth and prosperity; some believe that Sephardic Jewish immigrants brought the tradition when they came to Savannah, Georgia.

Another theory is that after the Civil War, Union soldiers left the field peas and salted pork alone, deeming the foods unfit for human consumption; there ignorance was a blessing to the starving Southerners who considered themselves lucky to have any food.

Whatever the origins of the beliefs, I, like many other Southerners, grew up being told that if we didn't eat our peas and greens we'd be poor all year!

My family is Southern in roots but immigrated North so my childhood was spent in Ohio. To the Southern traditions we added sauerkraut (from the Swartzfager side of the family I'm guessing) so, today we will be cooking sauerkraut and pork, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and buttermilk biscuits and cornbread. Dessert will be Carolina Trifle.

Has the Southern New Year's Tradition made it to your neck of the woods in some fashion? What will you be serving for New Year's Day dinner?

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In simpler times our society reserved Sundays as a day to rest. People generally went to church, visited with family, or indulged in ‘me time’ of reading, napping, fishing, etc. I grew up when those things were still common; just about every Sunday, we’d go to Grandma’s for dinner (which was served at 2pm) and after dinner the women would sit in the living room or outside and talk while the men watched football or whatever sport was in season.

In the past thirty odd years we’ve digressed as a society. We are all so busy, we rarely stop and smell the roses, much less take a day and rest. I’ve seen reports that suggest this lack of time off is due to simple economics, but I think it’s more a result of social media.

What time used to be reserved for reading, drawing, even watching TV is more and more, being consumed by social media and also internet-based content like video games, etc. In my household we are guilty of this. We’ll sit down to watch a show that we should be watching as a family (or more often as a couple nowadays) but we aren’t really watching; we have our phones out and are either replying to someone or posting something we think is pithy.

This will label me old, but I wish we’d never heard of internet. When it first came out, I thought it was amazing, real-time information at my house! No longer lugging stacks of books home from the library or jotting down questions to look up in research books at the library … the knowledge available on command was awe inspiring, but the web has devolved into a three headed monster of politics, social media, and monetized everything!

As I write this, I am comprising a list of things I need to accomplish by Sunday evening. While none of them fall into the realm of internet activity, they are by no means ‘restful’ by the definition ascribed during my childhood. It seems those long ago days of R & R are so much nostalgia ...

I find myself longing for a return to simpler times, when we ate Sunday roast beef with Grandma, played cards on a Friday night with family and friends, and spent a lazy Saturday with a line in the water … am I alone in this nostalgia?

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