Sunday Lunch Invitation – Claire Fullerton, Kim Gosselin and Alisa Belzil

sunday lunch logo

Sunday Lunch today is going to be a wonderful riot of Southern hospitality, a table laden with great food contributed by the guests and talk of babies, family history and life experiences.

Faced with such three amazingly talented women it is tough to know who to feature first so I am going to go with the menu. I hope that you enjoy the company and the food and that you might consider inviting yourself to lunch. All you need is to bring yourself and a virtual guest who has inspired you and one of the courses. I will do the rest.

Time to meet my stunningly talented guests. Claire Fullerton, Kim Gosselin and Alisa Belzil.

Current Photo L1004368 (1)

Claire Fullerton is author of Dancing to an Irish Reel which has received some terrific reviews this year; such as this one.


We’re treated to the very best of the genre By JML on June 22, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition

In Claire Fullerton’s latest, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” we’re treated to the very best of the genre. Ireland’s land, people, music and weather are revealed through the observant eyes of Hailey, the traveller who has dared to plant tentative roots. Music is Hailey’s lifeblood, and she serves it however it comes to her. When it appears in the form of the musician Liam, we’re treated to the ‘dance’ that ensues when two artistic souls edge toward and away from each other. But Ms. Fullerton doesn’t fall back on a formulaic ending in which every ribbon is tied in a prefect bow before she leaves us. Instead, she lets the dance between Hailey and Liam play itself out like it does in life: with stops and starts; with complications; and with people who find a way to tell each other the truth. Don’t deny yourself this pleasure.

Direct Links to Purchase “Dancing to an Irish Reel”
Amazon Books and Kindle
Barnes and Noble Books and Nook
Google Play
Kobo Books

51XYrp8hy7L._UY250_Her book A Portal in Time is also available at the above bookstores including via her Amazon Author Page.

Let’s find out more about Claire and her contribution to our lunch today… The scrummy Corn Light Bread.


I grew up in the Deep South, that part of the US that many consider the last romantic place in America. And it is; the region has its own culture that is so steeped in tradition, it seems that time has stood still. At the heart of the ways and means of the South is an iron-clad code of manners handed down at birth. It is an imperative code of civility that is society’s glue, and there is no more egregious error one can commit than to display bad manners.

When people talk about Southern hospitality, what they’re talking about is how a Southerner will treat a guest, even if that guest is only someone a Southerner accidently brushes up against while walking down the street. The most salient characteristic of Southern hospitality is the ability to extend oneself, which means putting another first, to focus such a high beam of gregarious concern that anyone caught in the headlight will think they’re the most important soul on earth. But you have to be born into the South to know this, for the guidelines of Southern ways are taught through the power of example, wrought through simply observing the glittering Southern people that come before you, who never lower themselves to a gauche confession of their inner-workings, but prefer to walk the line of implication instead in a “show-don’t tell” manner. It is a way of being in the world that is confident enough in its own animal grace to know the unspoken influence of its own attraction.

If you’re lucky enough to be invited into a Southerner’s home for Sunday lunch, you’ll be offered enough food to power a steamboat upstream without its paddle-wheel, and I’ll tell you how I know this: I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, a place where many a proud local will remind you that the real definition of the region known as the Delta begins in the lobby of Memphis’ Peabody Hotel and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Believe me, they know how to put the food out in Memphis, and at the center of any display is a dish called Corn Light Bread. To any outsider, it would seem a side-dish, but to any self-respecting Southerner, Corn Light Bread is the only thing that matters at any given lunch.

Here are the ingredients to this Southern staple, which people in Memphis hold daintily in their hand and dip into anything that will adhere:

  • 2 cups corn meal, plain
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil.
  • Method: After mixing the ingredients together by hand, put it in a bread pan to bake in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour then let cool on a bread rack for a half hour. When it is ready, put it on your best china and display it in the center of the table. Everything else will become incidental!

Meet Claire’s guest for lunch.

My guest at today’s smorgasbord is the author Pat Conroy, author of “The Great Santini,” “The Prince of Tides,” and “South of Broad,” to name a few of his books. His impact on me boils down to one thing: he showed me what is possible in writing, that there is beauty in language and if wielded deftly, there is the possibility of communicating the nuances of human nature, wherein, I find, a crucible exists that is the juxtaposition of sorrow and joy, hope and fear and all of the attendant variables that go into this business of living from a human, emotional level. I think this crucible exists in us all as a driving force. Also, I identify with what I see as a consistent theme in Conroy’s work: his sense of place as an influential character, and in Conroy’s work, that place is the South.


“My wound is my geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call,” Conroy writes in the first lines of “The Prince of Tides.” When I read this line, its resonance was so immediate, it was as if I’d already read an entire novel. There was no need to read another sentence further, because, in my mind, Conroy had said it all. I think the region in which one is born defines them in many ways. It is a source of identification, the place of one’s roots among the safety of like-minded souls and the comfort of general consensus to such a pitch that it offers a tribal mentality to use as a frame of reference as one goes out into the world.

And what I admire about Pat Conroy is his seemingly effortless craft. To read any of his novels is to witness the ebb and flow of good story telling, which is never presented in a linear manner. Conroy knows we all have our stories, and that they are all predicated upon back story, which is not the same thing as digression. But there is such a thing as cause and effect as motivation, and therein lies the difference!

Of course, it should go without saying that no author should emulate another, but there should be the ability to let brilliance in as a tutorial. If one does so and processes it in a personal way, while trusting one’s own interpretation of events, be they experiential or imagined, then it is my belief that the birth of one’s voice begins here. I thank the author, Pat Conroy, for this insight. Reading his work gave me cause to ponder the question of how best to trust my voice and present a story.

Connect with Claire on her website and social media.
Author Facebook page: Link​
Dancing to an Irish Reel – Facebook page:Link​
Dancing to an Irish Reel -Google+ page: Link
Follow Claire on Twitter:
Claire on Pinterest: Link

My next two guests have arrived together which is appropriate since they have been collaborating on a wonderful new project. Let’s meet Kim Gosselin and Alisa Belzil.


The Blogger

Many of us know Kim from her blog where she seems to be able to take a simple, common word about life and turn it into a magical element that none of us can do without. Her posts on her family and life in general are a delight to read and I do recommend that if you have not already discovered Kim that you follow her there. Blog:

The Author.

Kim Gosselin should be considered one of the pioneers of self-publishing. Over twenty years ago as a young wife and mother to a son who was diagnosed with a chronic condition at the age of six, she was faced with every mother’s dilemma. How was she going to fix this? Kim had always written words but had never thought to become an author but at this stage in her life the choice was taken out of her hands. A book needed to be written.

Kim admits the book only took a short time to write but twenty years ago the options for self-publishing were virtually non-existent. So she spent six months working it out and without a computer it was all completed by hand and then to press.

That first book turned into a very successful publishing company. As well as titles by other authors, Kim also published 16 books herself educating children of all ages and their parents about various chronic conditions in a fun and easy to understand format.

taking diabetestaking asthma to school

Kim then relinquished the reins of the company so that she could spend time with her growing family and with a gap of over fifteen years this new book Babies of Two is proudly being published on November 1st.

Cover Final Babies of Two

Pre-order Link for Babies of Two available on November 1st.

Before we get into the delicious main course that Kim has brought today…I wanted to know more about the new book. I have read it and will be reviewing for the Christmas Grotto in a couple of weeks. But, I can tell you, that it would be perfect for all children and parents, especially those who are expecting or have been blessed with twins.

Babies of Two is the first book you’ve written in 15 years. Why so long?

I was thinking about writing and publishing a new book for a quite a while. So many different starts and stops in my head. If you saw how many ‘stories’ I’ve scrapped over the years you’d be astounded. The problem was I had too many ideas with not enough focus. I couldn’t quite find the passion needed to write or publish a book again.


What inspired you to write this delightful story?

My daughter-in-law announced she was expecting twins which was a delightful shock to the whole of our family! Suddenly my imagination began to dream of little babies in her belly. The bigger she grew the more of them I knew. My daughter-in-law let me feel them move when I placed my hand on her stomach. Payton often rolled with the blue of the waves while Olivia seemed to swim butterfly races!

Do you think there will be more books to come after Babies of Two?

Yes, I’m watching baby girls play and grow, smile and giggle, bounce and wiggle. I have dreams for them that are only beginning to crawl from letters to words. Hopefully, Babies of Two will be on new adventures for some time to come. Little lives not even imagined yet.

Now I will hand you over to Kim to describe her dish that she has brought with her that sounds delicious.


My food of choice which comes from my childhood. A favorite traditional recipe handed down from my beloved mother: Homemade Noodles. My mother rolled out huge batches of noodle dough by hand, before cutting them into noodles to dry overnight prior to every holiday and special occasion.   In-fact, my son is expecting them upon his arrival from South Carolina. Since this dish is a memory from my childhood it will go nicely with the theme of a children’s book.

Two days before every holiday, my mother began to prepare a feast in the heart of my tiny childhood home. The lens of my memory’s eye still sees her there, a picture post-card of yesterday, as if I stepped back into time. She’s busy cracking eggs on the edge of a huge stainless steel bowl. “Crack!” Carefully, she adds six to eight golden yolks to a silver bowl of sifted flour before mixing in splashes of milk. One-two-three…should be enough, don’t you agree? Finally a pinch of salt. First here, then there.   No measuring cups or spoons needed.

That was and is my favorite recipe, the ‘beginning’ of Home-Made Noodles handed down from my dear mother. No, not written on a piece of paper or typed on a 3X5 card. Instead it’s here in my head where it’s been since I was a little girl of ten.

My mother worked tirelessly to knead noodle dough, rolling it out as thin as possible. “Tender noodles that way,” she used to say. She cut each piece by hand, unrolling each one until it dangled from the air, long and curly. If it wasn’t to her satisfaction it went into the ‘Do Over’ pile to be rolled out again.   When all of the noodles were cut, Mother spread them out to dry on the counter, sprinkling flour on top before covering them with a cotton cloth. There, they remained hidden until becoming stiff as a board.

Just hours before holiday dinners, Mother boiled chicken breast, carrots, celery and spices in a big red pot on the stove. At exactly the right time, she added her prized noodles, allowing them to boil before turning the heat down to simmer. The flour thickened the broth, and when chicken and noodles became tender, my favorite holiday dish was served!

Thank you Sally, for inviting me to spend time at your lunch table today. The food was delicious and the conversation a pleasure. But, by far, you are the most generous and creative of hostesses. Unlike any other I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Thank you once again.

Here are the links to connect to Kim on her websites and also social media.
Facebook Blog Page:

As Kim’s special guest she has introduced me to her collaborator Alisa Belzil who has beautifully illustrated the Babies of Two.


Illustrator Bio for Alisa Belzil

Alisa has been painting in watercolor for almost ten years. Children’s illustration came alive in her imagination when she became the mother of two boys who awoke a passion for making people smile through art and illustration. She studied music, watercolor, and photography through University and has carried it with her in every aspect of her creative journey. Babies of Two is the first book that Alisa has designed and illustrated for publication.

Alisa has brought along dessert and I suggest we tuck into that whilst we find out more about this amazing new project.


Thank you so much for inviting Kim and I to Sunday lunch! I’ll get right to the good stuff, because I get to bring dessert to share. Belgian Waffles dipped in chocolate! I spent most of my childhood abroad in Europe travelling with my family, and my most delicious memories from Belgium were from the waffle stands. In a magical dance perfectly timed, they would hand press perfectly crusted and oh so airy waffles with caramelized sugar. If that wasn’t enough, a quick pirouette into the hot melted chocolate and you wouldn’t remember where you were headed before you were distracted by the smell of happiness.

Let’s discover how Alisa became involved in Babies of Two.


Pre-order Link for Babies of Two available on November 1st.

Kim and I somehow found each other at exactly the same moment in our lives when we were looking for someone to create magic with. We started our journey with a small illustration that I created in watercolors for my blog of a girl jumping in rain puddles. Quickly, she responded to my wide web search for a writer to give her a voice. She had such a unique style of writing that I’d adored even before this collaboration from her amazing blog. From there, a quick bond formed.

When Kim sent me her manuscript for Babies of Two, I instantly fell in love with the silly banter and depth of love and understanding between these two babies. It was unlike any children’s book I had ever read. The book is about a bond most people will never know unless they have been through the journey. Her story needed to be told, and the babies were already sketched in my mind.   We set no deadlines, no expectations, and we just let it happen. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, designing and illustrating a children’s book, but I was excited to take the challenge and go on an adventure with my new friend.

What is next after Babies of Two?

I would love to see the little twins grow up together! What an amazing insight it would be into their world to watch these two take on being toddlers, adventuring into school, and learning to share and grow side by side. Kim, I’ll be waiting! I am a mother of two sons, and I can tell you that the journey through childhood is incredible to watch. The connection between two siblings grows every day like nothing you could ever imagine.

Here are some other illustrations by Alisa and if you are writing a children’s book at this time then you might like to head over and see her portfolio.

penguin-and-cardinal029 penguins-happy-tea0411

Images ©AlisaBelzil

Connect with Alisa on her websites and social media.
Portfolio and Blog:
Facebook Artist Page:

Well I don’t know about you but I am definitely not eating much more today. My thanks to my guests for their delicious food and their wonderful contributions to the chat today.

I hope you have enjoyed too and if so please leave your comments and also hit some of the share buttons. It is always appreciated.

I would love you to accept an invitation to lunch. It is an opportunity for promotion of your latest project and also a way to reveal a little more about your life and food tastes! Being in the company of other guests also offers you a wider audience.

There is of course a little bit of work involved but essentially it is straightforward. You bring a course. Either starter, main or dessert and a virtual guest and tell the story of why you have chosen them. Of course if you have collaborated on a project then you can bring them as a guest as today.   I am looking for more guests for the mid to end of November and up to Christmas.

Here are more details

And my previous guests…

I hope you have enjoyed too and if so please leave your comments and also hit some of the share buttons. It is always appreciated.

There will be a slight break next week as I have some other house and visitor commitments. But I will be scheduling some more items for the Christmas Grotto.




71 thoughts on “Sunday Lunch Invitation – Claire Fullerton, Kim Gosselin and Alisa Belzil

  1. Pingback: Sunday Lunch Invitation – Claire Fullerton, Kim Gosselin and Alisa Belzil | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Lunch and fine company — perfect for a Sunday, Sally.
    I’ve never heard the term “corn light bread” but I can see how it fits. We never added wheat flour to our cornbread, so I guess that’s where the “light bread” comes in. Although, I’ve seen that recipes, even for traditional things vary greatly from one area to the next — and areas can be quite small. I’m sure it’s delicious.
    I wasn’t familiar with Alisa’s work — I love the charming illustrations! And Kim and Claire — delightful as always. Mega hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing but the best from your generous soul, Sally. I loved meeting Claire Fullerton together with her gentle Southern hospitality. So talented she is! And the crumbs of her moist lemon yellow cornbread, delicious! Alisa, I am so proud of her! She has created amazing magic upon paper pages regardless of my words. Everyone should gift themselves a view of this special young mother’s talent! The description of her Belgium waffles made my mouth water…Oh, to sit in an outdoor cafe and nibble on sizzling batter from the irons! YUM! Thank you once again, Sally. Truly, a pleasure to dine with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I will take this opportunity to thank Sally as well by saying what remarkable company I am keeping with Kim and Alisa! I’ll get to Kim’s book after I say her portrait is so lovely, it should be titled “A Study in Blue.” What compelling eyes Kim has; something mesmerizing about them as she gazes into other worlds. And the subject matter of her children’s books can only be seen as a gift to the world. As I read her words, I said, “Now here is a woman in touch with her calling.” Before I jump to Kim’s blog to follow, I want to say that Alisa has such a clear, feminine hand that I feel her personality, with its undercurrent of joy. Seems she dances upon the line of sophistication and whimsy, authentic in its execution and therefore all the more evocative. Congratulations to these two fine women on the November 1st release of “Babies of Two.” And thank you again, Sally, for such a unique platform.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Claire, I hardly know what to say, so emotive and complimentary your words are! I thank you from the whole of my heart. Such a gift to share lunch with you Claire, to learn and grow from your tremendous accomplishments. I was ready to hop a boat toward Ireland after reading Sally’s wonderful review. Lucky for me and others, it’s possible through the eyes of your lovely heroine, Hailey. Can’t wait to ‘meet’ her as she dances through life’s trials with her beloved, Liam. As for Alisa, she has become a part of me, within my soul day and night. I thank God for her and all that she ‘illustrates’ in life. She is just as fresh and sweet as her portrait portrays, yet strong in vision. With tremendous thanks to you Claire and many blessings. Kim

        Liked by 2 people

  4. You have a way of finding and showcasing the most lovely writers, Sally. Thanks always for that. I am a particular fan of Conroy, his books opened my eyes to the culture of the South, as I found myself a misplaced Yankee.

    And…homemade noodles…always a fan, it’s a request I get often…simple drop dumplings. ☺

    Have a great Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely group for lunch. I recently read a review of Claire’s Dancing to an Irish Reel and put it on my wish list – think I’ll add the recipe for the light corn bread, too. It sounds tasty.
    It was lovely to meet Kim and Ailsa. The baby book sounds wonderful and the illustrations are brilliant – what a great collaboration. The chicken with noodles dish sound delicious. In Afghanistan noodles are made by hand, too, but cooked instantly before they are dried.


  6. Reblogged this on Sweet Afternoons and commented:
    So unbelievably humbled and grateful to be a part of this table of creative, talented and inspiring women! Thank you to Sally, Kim and Claire!

    Come check out this Sunday’s Lunch Invitation with the delightful Sally Cronin. There’s comfort food and good company. Pour a cup of hot coffee and join us!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sally, so humbled to be amongst such talent today! Thank you for sharing your table and allowing me to be a part of this particular group. I am the writer out, yet I feel somehow all of us coming from these different paths in life share a common creative love and drive. Grateful for this opportunity and delighted to forever know these women and follow along as you all continue to do amazing things and inspire others.

    Claire, your cornbread description on a Sunday afternoon evokes such memories of my childhood, I have to say thank you. My family roots from Georgia, and a meal was not a proper meal without some sort of bread. Cornbread being my favorite, and I find myself wanting to rush to my cast iron skillet and cook up your recipe. I am so excited to have been introduced to your writings, and I believe Hailey, the traveller, and I will be sharing a journey together that I have long been searching for when I get to sit and indulge in your book!

    Kim, love to you my dear friend for letting me be a part of your incredible journey. I’m still pinching myself to have met you! One day, we will have to cook these noodles together, with doodle at our feet and babies of two…three…four…a dozen…running around.

    Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a delightful lunch crowd. This is my first time meeting Claire Fullerton. Must check out her enticing books. I’m familiar with the rest of your guests. Fabulous sharing of food, stories and illustrations. Congrats to Kim for her last children’s book and I love, love, love Alisa Belzil’s work. I came late but enjoyed this gathering. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very amazingly talented group of women, thanks for sharing, it inspires me to keep digging at the bottom of my barrel of dreams and keep working hard. Alisa has artistic talents by the bucket loads and I am sure we will see many more books illustrated by this talented artist.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What amazing guests you had for Sunday lunch. Claire Fullerton’s Dancing to an Irish Reel sounds like something I would love to read. I love children’s books and will be checking out Kim’s books. Alisa’s artwork is absolutely stunning. Now, I’m off to check out their social media pages and blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So happy to pop over to today’s lunch Sal. Lovely to learn about Claire and southern hospitality. Equally lovely to see beautiful Kim here, and also a bonus to meet Alisa and learn about her illustrations. Wonderful Kim and Alisa are working together. 🙂


  12. That is a great informative post, enjoyed it thoroughly, especially the parts of the Deep South of America, I have seen it portrayed in many old movies relating to the Civil War era, beautiful homes spread among graceful gardens and lawns, my history may not be correct but I think it was it had cotton fields and Bayous, my memory is coming from old movies with Clark Gable and John Wayne era, also Gone with the Wind. Your lovely post at least got my imagination going. Thank you for sharing.
    Aussie Emu aka Aussie Ian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed and I had the privilege of living in Houston in the 80s and travelling all around the South including New Orleans and Florida etc. Great people. My father was a huge Western fan and in particular John Wayne.. when they visited we took them to San Antonio and the Alamo.. he loved it.. Enjoy the weekend. best wishes Sally


      • Your Father and I would have had a lot in common with the old Westerns I think Sally.
        New Orleans and it’s vibrant lifestyle has always had an appeal to me, maybe one day I will get a chance to see that part of the world, my next adventure is back to Chile to visit the Atacama desert.
        Wishing you much Love and Happiness and a beautiful weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Saturday Round Up – | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  14. Pingback: Christmas Grotto 2015 – Babies of Two by Kim Gosselin and illustrated by Alisa Belzil | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  15. Pingback: Smorgasbord Open House – Meet author Claire Fullerton | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  16. Pingback: Smorgasbord Open House – Meet author Claire Fullerton | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life | writerchristophfischer

I would be delighted to receive your feedback. Thanks Sally

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