A Little Introduction may be in Order

Sweetgum Life, A Little Introduction

Hi Everyone!

One of the Facebook groups that I follow suggested that I make an introduction of myself. So here goes…

quote by Jim Henson

Coffee board quote by Jim Henson, the Muppet guy.

Where in the World is Jachin, Alabama??

I am Stephanie L. Robertson and am from a little unincorporated town that may not be on the map anymore: Jachin, Alabama. Trust me, most peeps have never heard of Jachin or even the nearby town of Butler, population–oh, about 2,000 souls.

Jachin Grocery, Cows, and a Pony!

My parents took over my grandparents’ little country store, Jachin Grocery, and purchased some of the Lindsey family land behind the enterprise. Dad raised stock cattle (mostly black Angus, a Hereford or two, Brahman, and a Semmentol bull at one point that we named Semme.) He showed Tennessee Walking Horses (practically unheard of in south Alabama), and I eventually got every girl’s dream: a pony.

Roll Tide!

I went to the University of Alabama and then moved to Huntsville, Alabama to teach school.

coffee nook

FYI, I spilled coffee all over the place before I took the picture! ;-p

How I became a Professional Writer

I loved kids, but knew teaching wasn’t for me. After stepping back, I realized that I wanted to write and work in one of those shiny, sparkling R&D buildings in Research Park. Meanwhile, I met and married the love of my life!
I enjoyed work as a technical writer before I left to be a F/T mom. Still, I kept up my work by tutoring some of my Asian friends in English and then freelance writing.

To Write a Book

Back in–oh, 2012 or so, I decided to write a book, which I did. Next, I wrote a dystopian book…still working on it so I can “pitch” it at writer’s conference in May.

Secret Garden book and seeds

Secret Garden

What next??

And, as my daughter says, the future awaits!

Getting to Know You

Your turn! One of my favorite things about blogging is meeting new online friends and reading comments. I’d love to hear from you!

favorite things


My Work Space for April 2, 2018

Hello Everyone!  I’m here to describe my work space for April 2, 2018.  It’s up to you to guess where it is!

photo of Stephanie

My latest picture for my writer’s conference biz cards. Taken by my beloved husband.

Work Space Clues

my work space

First draft of Easter short story, written in long-hand and published on Good Friday.

So, I have to get out of the house and be around people in this work space.  It’s a place where you can find lots of literary work.

It’s a space for bibliophiles.

It’s quiet enough for someone who is easily distracted…that person, being your ol’ friend Steph.

I can sit there as long as I like, tapping away at my father-in-love’s Surface…Yes, he is nice enough to let me borrow it again because my computer keyboard’s space bar is stuck.

I have to pound it with my thumb or else all my words run together…very annoying when I’m trying to finish up my novel.

The work space if comfortably heated or air-conditioned–and in this crazy north Alabama weather in April, you never know what the temp is going to be from daylight to dusk.

Lots of people are there to get work done.

The people can be of any age, from toddlers, to school-age, to adults.

I can get help if I need it.

Can You Guess Where My Work Space is for Today?

I think my clues are too easy…Can you guess where my work space is today? I’ve got to go back there in a little bit and wait for Princess Buttercup’s band rehearsal to conclude.P.S…You can actually cheat if you visit my @sweetgumlife or #sweetgumlife on Instagram.

today's work space on April 2, 2018

Today’s work space.

Whoever gets the answer right, I’ll send them a virtual chocolate egg. (Sorry, but a real one will probably melt in the mail!!) Here are the rules to my Sweetgum Life work space April 2, 2018 guessing contest: No rules. Anyone of any age can enter because it’s a virtual contest with a digital prize (ahem, jpg!) Good luck!



last week's work space at Lowe Mill location of Piper&Leaf

Last week I worked at Lowe Mill‘s own Piper & Leaf.

What Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet Taught Me about Marriage

My sweet husband and I will be celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary in June.  When I first got my degree with a major in family studies, I knew that I probably wasn’t ready to become a marriage counselor, which is why I chose my major to begin with.  I, in fact, had never had a long-term relationship at that time and would not meet my husband for another three years.  But now that I’ve been blessed with (almost) 20 years of marital experience, I feel that I’m at a point that I can hand out a tip about marriage every now and again.  So what has seasoning a cast iron skillet taught me about marriage?

estate sale find: cast iron skillet

Estate sale skillet.

You’ve got to Season it to Make it cook

First of all, you’ve got to season that cast iron skillet so it’ll cook right. I actually got a cast iron skillet as a wedding gift, but I didn’t know you had to season it. And now I don’t have it any more (more about that, later.) Just like a good ol’ skillet, you’ve got to start out on the right foot. I’m not a big fan of Cinderella romance novels because all of those gooey feelings come and go over time. A good marriage is made of sterner stuff. Like friendship, respect, trust, and similar values.

400 Degrees can Kill Virtually any Pathogen Known to Man

So I hunted and recently found a “new” cast iron skillet at an estate sale for just $12. (Woo-hoo!!!) I asked Doctor Uncle (a biochemist and professor) how to get the germies off the skillet. He told me that if I bake it at 400 degrees, no creepy-crawlies will survive. So, I’d say that you need to keep the heat in your marriage, and it will keep away any unwanted invaders.

Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet isn’t what You Think

Do you have to add paprika, salt/pepper, and thyme to season your skillet? (As they say in this part of Alabama, “Naw!”) No, because I thought I’d try this. At 400+ degrees, those little powders will smoke up your kitchen. Seasoning means to coat the skillet with oil and bake it for an hour or so. Because I didn’t do this to my wedding skillet, it got all rusty. Not a good thing. I ended up selling it at a yard sale, warning the buyer, “Fair warning, it’s rusty.” But the lady didn’t seem to care. Now I know…all she had to do was clean it and it’d be as good as new. Lesson learned.

Check Your Pantry for Expiration Dates

My Crisco shortening had an expiration date of October 24, 2015. Do you know what that means? Not only did I let that shortening expire, but it moved with us from our old home! How did that happen? Because I wasn’t paying attention. A marriage can “expire” unless you are mindful of it. Like a garden, it needs cultivation. Try do keep doing nice things for your sweetie. Go on dates. Go on trips. Get counseling if you must.

Marriage is Precious

Do whatever you have to do, because a marriage is a very precious thing. More precious, obviously, than a cast iron skillet. But like a little cast iron skillet, the more you season it, the better it cooks!  What do you think?  Can you add any marital advice?

skillet and lard

Hundred-year-old lard.


What I learned from Being Sick

It’s not pretty, when an extrovert gets sick.  Especially when they get laryngitis.  It’s like their lifeline has been cut off.

I know from personal experience.

Last week, I got a nasty sinus infection, and one of the first things that went was my voice.

Oh, it was fine for a while.  I mean, everyone needs a little down-time every now and again.  So, I snuggled into my blankets, gathered my tea bags and coffee mugs, and was prepared to wait out the illness.

I was sure that the illness would blow over in 3 or 4 days.

Except, it didn’t. In fact, it got worse.

My face began to hurt because of heavy sinus pressure. And then my nasal passages became blocked.

Eventually, I went to the doctor and received a shot.

And here’s what I learned…

Be Thankful for Good Health

After my little stint with the plague, I value my health so much more. I am usually in very good health, and it’s hard to believe that something as simple as a sinus infection can bring a healthy person down.

Be Thankful for Modern Medicine

Sure, I’d probably get better on my own–in something like 10 days or so. And I hate shots, but I was willing to do anything to feel better quickly. I am so thankful for the good medical care and the wonderful medical practitioners in the United States!

To Visit the Sick

As an extrovert, I can tell you that it’s extremely hard to be out of the loop for about a week. Now that I’m on the mend, I’m ready to talk to anyone–the mailman, the lady behind me in the grocery store, the police officer who stopped me for speeding (just kidding, I made that up!)…

Being sick helps me to remember those who truly do have health problems and reminds me to visit them…especially shut-ins.

Being sick is no fun, but it can really give you a new perspective. And just to give you fair warning: if you see me in the grocery line in the next couple of days, don’t be surprised if I lure you into a long conversation!