Category: Christmas in the old west

‘Twas the Night B’fore Christmas, Filly Style!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas in this Junction of ours;

The sky over the prairie was ablaze with bright stars;

Our boots were lined up by the fire with care,

In hopes that Old Santa Claus soon would be there;

 

Felicia’s ornery mule napped snug there in the barn,

Whilst our visiting guest was spinning a yarn;

O’course JEANNIE in her wool socks and CHERYL in her cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

 

When out in the corral there arose such a ruckus,

MARY sprang her from bed to see what the heck was…

…outside the window, there on the barn roof,

She banged open the shutters and near busted a tooth!

 

The moon was so bright it near blinded our eyes

And the snow landed like whippin’ cream coverin’ a pie,

When, what to our hornswaggled sight should appear,

But a covered wagon and eight dusty reindeer!

 

When she saw the little old driver with red cheeks and nose,

LINDA flew right to work sweeping dust from his clothes.

He was cheery and bright, a right jolly cowpoke,

TRACY  laughed when she saw him; he was her kind of  folk.

 

Those reindeers, they ain’t docile. What a hissy they threw!

Nearly toppled the wagon, and Old Santa Claus too.

Quicker’n a youngin’ off to play hookie,

That old geezer came in and asked PAM for a cookie;

 

KAREN K. found one and he ate it, so KATHLEEN got milk

Then TANYA presented him with a scarf made of silk.

But CHARLENE, she hung back, we think she was a’feared

‘Cause all night she trembled and her eyes how they teared

 

No worry, KAREN W. told her, the fat guy’s a friend.

To us in the Junction and those ’round the bend,

Sure ’nuff Santa left a package in each Fillies’ boot,

Didn’t matter none to him, they was dusted with soot.

 

Then somethin’ happened, caught us all by surprise,

WINNIE, she showed up with an armload of pies.

We sat down to eat ‘em, and they tasted fine,

Thanks! With all of our deadlines, we hadn’t had time;

 

Old Santa asked for seconds; Bet that’s why he’s merry.

He tried pumpkin and apple, even pe-can and cherry.

PHYLISS heaped on whipped cream, and still he ate more.

His belly how it swelled! Would he fit out the door?

 

“It’s my big night,” he declared.  “Only comes once a year.”

Good thing for that, too, or he’d burst, we do fear.

He stifled a burp, and a pipe out it came;

“Smoking’s not good for you,”  MARGARET did loudly exclaim.

 

“All that sugar too,” KATHRYN hollered. “Think of your health.

FELICIA reminded. “Think of the children counting on your jolly old self!”

He listened real close and even nodded his head,

Took right to his heart everything they all said.

 

He tossed that old pipe in the fire with a pop,

“The Missus, she’s been tryin’ to get me to stop,”

With a hearty laugh and a promise to come back

The Fillies watched that old fella leap up the smokestack.

 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yee-haw,

And away they all flew, like twister-flung straw.

And we heard him exclaim as that team took flight,

“Merry Christmas, you bloggers, and to all a good-night.”

 *****************************************************************************************************************************************JEFFREY KOTERBA’S ARTWORK USED WITH PERMISSION

VISIT HIS WEBSITE: http://www.jeffreykoterba.com

And with much love and thanks to our dear friend and former filly Cheryl St. John, for incepting this filly poem.

Every Knee Shall Bend~Tanya Hanson

(I’m giving away PDF or e-copies of my two Christmas releases, the inspirational novella Christmas Lights, an installment of my Hearts Crossing Ranch series, and A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe that includes my sweet short story, Every Knee Shall Bend and five other Western romances! Two winners. So please leave a comment and check back tomorrow.)

*****

Since I am a firm believer that animals are righteous, lead us, and help us heal, it is no surprise that both domestic and wild beasts have a special role in my Christmas story, Every Knee Shall Bend. But the story goes deeper than that. It deals with the grief of losing a dear friend, but also the hope that comes with Christmas. And of course, true love, the greatest gift of all.

This beautiful Arabian from our local horse rescue modeled "Fallen Angel" in the story.

This beautiful Arabian from our local horse rescue modeled “Fallen Angel” in the story.

Somewhere in my childhood, I heard that animals kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve. Maybe somebody read me Thomas Hardy’s poem, The Oxen. All these years later, the idea came to life in my story. But how about other animal antics at this wonderful time of the year?

Well, we already know reindeer fly, thanks to Clement Moore’s 1823 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. Two years before, in his 1821 Sketches of Upper Canada, author John Howison related how a Native American told him deer kneel to the Great Spirit on Christmas Eve.

A kneeling deer from Wikipedia Commons

A kneeling deer from Wikipedia Commons

In 1879, a Reverend Hugh Taylor of England’s Northern Counties claimed bees assembled and hummed a Christmas Carol. And a parish in Whitebeck said oxen kneeled to a chorus of bees.

A legend from the German Alps tells how animals on Christmas Eve spoke out loud and foretold their owners’ deaths.

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In the sweet song The Friendly Beasts, the animals explain how they helped the Baby Jesus on His first night in the stable. The camel carried the gifts from the Wise Men, and the sheep gave wool for His blanket. The gift of the manger came from the cow, and the dove and her mate cooed Him to sleep.

The donkey, shaggy and brown, carried His mother safely to Bethlehem. And this sweet equine has its own holiday in France for similar reasons. The “Fete de L’Ane” celebrates the donkey who carried the Holy Family into Egypt and is praised with the chorus “Hail, Sir Donkey, Hail.”

img_3496

Have you heard any other legends about animals at Christmas?

 

The Oxen

By Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

1915.

 

cowboy-under-the-mistletoe

Blurb: in Every Knee Shall Bend,  vagabond Alder Dale leaves the mountains after many years to come to his brother’s Colorado homestead for Christmas. However, last thing he expects to find is a beautiful widow raising kids not her own. Suddenly the wide-open range he loves seems cold and lonely. Walls and hearth call out to him.

Mail-order bride Sadie Dahlstrom leaves Kansas for a new life,  unprepared for widowhood. When she kneads the war wound of a rugged yet gentle stranger, her heart swells with a warmth far different from a Christmas fireplace.

*******

In Christmas Lights, the tone is serious, too. It’s an installment for my Hearts Crossing Ranch series. The heroine Lori appears as an “ex” in a prior story, but I wanted her to have a happy ending all her own. She has to go through a lot to get there, but I’m glad she saw the “light”.

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Blurb:

The Christmas party at Hearts Crossing Ranch is the highlight of the Season in Mountain Cove, Colorado, but Lori Lazaro longs to be anywhere else.

Until a handsome cowboy driving a one-horse open sleigh starts a journey of the heart. Deep down, she doesn’t want it to end, but it must. Heston Calhoun lives life in the spotlight, and after past trauma, Lori needs the comfort of a life in the shadows.

Lori Lazaro stirs Heston like no woman ever has before. Sure, his family stars in a popular unscripted television show about ranch life, but he’s not going to let Lori’s skittishness end their story before it even begins. Having faced dark moments in his own past assures him God can brighten her future. He simply needs to convince Lori that together, they’ll write a happy ending after all.

 

 

Updated: December 1, 2016 — 3:12 am

Welcome to Shanna Hatfield–and three books, three winners!

It is a pleasure and a treat to be a guest once again here at Petticoats and Pistols. Thank you to all the fillies for hosting me today. I’ll be giving away THREE ecopies of The Christmas Quandary, so please leave a comment.

bookmark-back

I love history and digging into tidbits of the past as I research details for my sweet western romances.

In my latest release, The Christmas Quandary, I happened upon a toy that captured my interest.

zoetrope-1

A zoetrope is one of several animation devices (pre-motion pictures) that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs, shown in progressive phases of motion.

The name Zoetrope was composed from the Greek root words “life” and “wheel” – meaning “wheel of life.”

zoetrope-2

A cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides is the basic component of the zoetrope. The inner surface of the cylinder features a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures. The slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.

A 5,000-year-old earthenware bowl from Iran is considered a predecessor of the zoetrope. The bowl, decorated in a series of sequential images, portrays a goat jumping toward a tree and eating its leaves. zoetrope-4

Variations existed on the idea of the zoetrope, but it wasn’t until December 1866, when an American company, Milton Bradley and Co., advertised a zoetrope.

Zoetropes were eventually displaced by more advanced technology, notably film and later television. Today, some zoetropes can still be found in special art projects and performances.

In The Christmas Quandary, one of the characters purchases a zoetrope for his daughter’s Christmas present. The only quandary surrounding the gift is whether or not the child’s uncles will wear it out before Christmas morning since they can’t seem to stop playing with it.

Have you ever been in a quandary? Had a dilemma?

Share your answers for a chance to win one of three copies of The Christmas Quandary (Book 5 in the Hardman Holidays series).

And if you haven’t read any of the Hardman books, The Christmas Bargain (book 1) will be available for free digital downloads on Monday!

christmas-quandary

~*~

Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.

When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Make sure you sign up for her Newsletter to get the latest on new releases

and exclusive giveaways (including a free short story set in the old west)!

christmas-quandry

Bread Pudding: From Frugal to Fancy (and a recipe)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Many dishes that are prides of the American table today once were ways to avoid wasting food. Shipping of all but basic staples didn’t begin until the latter half of the 19th century; perishables weren’t shipped at all until refrigerated containers, or “reefers,” were invented in 1869. Even then, perishable cargo could be carried only a few miles before the ice melted.

The first successful long-distance reefer transport occurred in the early 1880s. The first grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1916.

Happy Cowboy ChristmasConsequently, settlers on the American frontier and American Indians used every part of the animals and plants they grew or gathered in order to avoid starvation. Frontier and farming families stewed poultry necks, tails, and wings because the meat and bones offered precious protein. Slaves in the American south prepared animal innards like chitterlings (intestines) and vegetable leavings like potato skins in a variety of ways because their masters considered those things offal. Anyone who has visited a restaurant in the past twenty years recognizes chicken wings and potato skins as trendy appetizers. At “soul food” eateries, chitlins are standard fare. (Yes, I have eaten them. No, I won’t do so again.)

Because carbohydrates offer a quick source of energy, bread, too, was a precious commodity. Many frontier families baked with cornmeal or corn flour. The latter was obtained by repeatedly pouring cornmeal from burlap sack to burlap sack and shaking loose the fine powder left clinging to the bags. Bread made with wheat flour was a treat…even though merchants in frontier towns often “extended” wheat flour by adding plaster dust. Frontier families might make a multi-day journey into town for supplies once or twice a year.

savory bread pudding

savory bread pudding

Since the early 11th century, “po’ folks” have turned stale bread into bread pudding in order to use every last ounce of food they could scrounge. Originally, the concoction was a savory main dish containing bread, water, and suet. Scraps of meat and vegetables might be added if the cook had those on hand.

What we think of as bread pudding today came into its own in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Creative cooks turned the dish into a dessert by combining stale bread with eggs, milk, spices, and a sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar. Some also included bits of fruit, berries, and/or nuts.

My family and friends talk me into baking bread pudding each Christmas, and sometimes for other special occasions during the rest of the year. They don’t have to do much arm-twisting, because the rich dessert is easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and delicious.

bread pudding dessert

bread pudding dessert

One thing to know about bread pudding: Making it “wrong” is darn nigh impossible. Any kind of bread can be used, including sweet breads like donuts and croissants. Likewise, spices are left to the cook’s imagination, fruits and nuts are optional, and sauces are a matter of “pour something over the top.”

Through years of trial and error, I’ve created a recipe that works for me. Have fun experimenting with the basics (bread, milk, butter, and eggs) until you come up with one that works for you. I prefer mine fairly plain, but you may want to add or top with raisins (a New Orleans classic), chocolate, bananas, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, rum sauce, caramel sauce, powdered-sugar drizzle, or almost anything else you can imagine.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
(can be doubled for a crowd)

Pudding
(makes 10-12 servings)

3 large eggs
1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
¼ cup bourbon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1 16oz. loaf stale French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes

Heat oven to 325.

Stir together eggs, cream, granulated and brown sugars, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Place bread cubes into a lightly buttered 13×9-inch pan.

Heat milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until butter is melted. Do not boil.

Stir ¼ cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture. When well-combined, slowly add remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. For a fluffier pudding, lightly press bread into egg mixture so all bread cubes are coated with the liquid. For a dense pudding, allow the pan to sit for 20 mins. before baking.

Bake for 45-55 mins., until top is browned and no liquid is visible around the edges. (The center will look soft. Don’t bother with the toothpick test—it won’t tell you anything.)

Allow pudding to stand for 20-30 mins. Top with bourbon sauce and serve.

Bourbon Sauce
(This will knock folks across the room, so be careful how much you pour on each pudding serving. 2 tsp. vanilla or other extract may be substituted for bourbon, if desired.)

1 cup heavy cream
½ Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.

Whisk together corn starch and water, then add the mixture to the cream, whisking constantly.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Whisk and simmer until thickened, taking care not to scorch the cream on the bottom.

Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add more sugar and/or bourbon to taste.

Ladle sauce over each serving of warm-from-the-oven or room-temperature pudding.

Serve and enjoy!

 

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALBread pudding wouldn’t be on the menu in the dingy cafe on the wrong side of Fort Worth where the heroine in my latest story works. The job is a big step down from her previous life as a pampered socialite. “A Long Way from St. Louis” appears with stories from seven other authors—including filly sisters Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—in Prairie Rose Publications’ new holiday anthology, A Mail-Order Christmas Bride.

A Long Way from St. Louis
Cast out by St. Louis society after her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger when she discovers the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.

Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.

When the debutante and the back-alley brawler collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.

Here’s an excerpt:

If the lazy beast lounging on a bench beside the depot’s doors were any indication, the west was neither wooly nor wild. As a porter took her hand to assist her from the railway car, Elizabeth Adair stared. The cowboy’s worn boots crossed at the ends of denim-clad legs slung way out in front of him. Chin resting on his chest, hat covering his face, the man presented the perfect picture of indolence.

Surely her husband-to-be employed a more industrious type of Texan.

Her gaze fixed on the cowboy’s peculiar hat. A broad brim surrounded a crown with a dent carved down the center. Sweat stains decorated the buff-colored felt. Splotches of drying mud decorated the rest of him.

Lazy and slovenly.

Pellets of ice sprinkled from the gray sky, melting the instant they touched her traveling cloak. Already she shivered. Another few minutes in this horrid weather, and the garment would be soaked through.

The porter raised his voice over the din of the bustling crowd. “Miss, let’s get you inside before you take a chill. I’ll bring your trunks right away.”

Taking her by the elbow, he hastened toward doors fitted with dozens of glass panes. Ragtag children darted among the passengers hurrying for shelter. Without overcoats, the urchins must be freezing.

She glanced around the platform. Where was her groom? She had assumed a wealthy rancher would meet his fiancée upon her arrival. Perhaps he waited within the depot’s presumed warmth. Her hope for a smattering of sophistication dwindled, but a woman in her circumstances could ill afford to be picky.

A group of ragamuffins gathered around the cowboy. As the porter hustled her past, the Texan reached into his sheepskin jacket and withdrew a handful of peppermint sticks. A whiff of the candy’s scent evoked the memory of a young man she once knew—a ne’er-do-well removed from St. Louis at her father’s insistence, and none too soon.

After depositing her beside a potbellied stove, the porter disappeared into the multitude. The tang of wood smoke drifted around her, so much more pleasant than the oily stench of coal. Peering through the throng, she slipped her hands from her muff and allowed the hand-warmer to settle against her waist on its long chain. She’d best reserve the accessory for special occasions. Judging by the people milling about the room, she doubted she’d find Persian lamb in Fort Worth unless she stooped to ordering from a mail-order catalog.

Mail-order. At least the marriage contract removed her from the whispered speculation, the piteous glances.

The shame heaped upon her by the parents she’d tried so hard to please.

Elizabeth put her back to the frigid gusts that swept in every time the doors opened, extending gloved palms toward the warmth cast by the stove.

Heavy steps tromped up behind her. Peppermint tickled her nose.

“Bets?”

A gasp leapt down her throat, colliding with her heart’s upward surge. Her palm flew to the base of her collar. Bets? Deep and smooth, the voice triggered a ten-year-old memory: If ye were aulder, little girl, I’d teach ye more than how to kiss.

She whirled to find the lazy cowboy, his stained hat dangling from one hand. Her gaze rose to a face weathered by the elements, but the blue eyes, the crooked nose…

Brendan Sheppard.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert? I’ll give an ebook copy of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

All Hail Texas Pecans! (and a recipe)

Kathleen Rice Adams headerIn Texas, pecans are a Big Deal. The trees are native to the state, and according the archaeological record, they’ve been here since long before humans arrived. When people did arrive, they glommed onto the nuts right away as an excellent source of essential vitamins (19 of them, in fact), fats, and proteins. Comanches and other American Indians considered the nuts a dietary staple, combining pecans with fruits and other nuts to make a sort of “trail mix.” They also used pecan milk to make an energy drink and thickened stews and soups with the ground meat. Most Indians carried stores of the nuts with them when they traveled long distances, because pecans would sustain them when no other food sources were available.

Pecans

Texas pecans

An individual Texas pecan tree may live for more than 1,000 years. Some grow to more than 100 feet tall.

Pecans have been an important agricultural product in Texas since the mid-1800s. In 1850, 1,525 bushels left the Port of Galveston; just four years later, the number of bushels exceeded 13,000. In 1866, the ports at Galveston, Indianola, and Port Lavaca combined shipped more than 20,000 barrels of pecans.

Nevertheless, as the state’s population exploded, pecan groves dwindled. Trees were cut to clear fields for cotton. Pecan wood was used to make wagon parts and farm implements. One of Texas’s great natural resources was depleted so quickly that in 1904, the legislature considered passing laws to prevent the complete disappearance of the pecan.

Left alone to regenerate for a couple of decades, Texas pecan groves came back bigger than ever. Until 1945, Texas trees produced more 30 percent of the U.S. pecan crop. In 1910, pecan production in the state reached nearly 6 million pounds, and the trees grew in all but eight counties. During the 1920s, Texas exported 500 railcar loads per year, and that was only 75 percent of the state’s crop. The average annual production between 1936 and 1946 was just shy of 27 million pounds; in 1948, a banner year for pecan production, the crop zoomed to 43 million pounds produced by 3,212,633 trees. In 1972, the harvest reached a whopping 75 million pounds.

Texas pecan orchard

Texas pecan orchard

During the Great Depression, the pecan industry provided jobs for many Texans. The nuts had to be harvested and shelled. Shelling employed 12,000 to 15,000 people in San Antonio alone.

The Texas legislature designated the pecan the official state tree in 1919. Between then and now, pecan nuts became Texas’s official state health food (Texas has an official health food?), and pecan pie became the state’s official pie (and my official favorite pie). Pecan wood is used to make baseball bats, hammer handles, furniture, wall paneling, flooring, carvings, and firewood.

Yep. Pecans have always been, and continue to be, a Big Deal in Texas—especially during the holidays. I’d be surprised if any native Texans don’t bake at least one pecan pie for either Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner or both.

Texas pecan pie. Do you see how dark and luscious that is? Milk-custard, my hind leg.

Texas pecan pie. Do you see how dark and luscious that is? Milk-custard, my hind leg.

The first known appearance of a pecan pie recipe in print can be found on page 95 in the February 6, 1886, issue of Harper’s Bazaar. I’ll bet Texans were baking the pies long before that, though—and I’ll bet even back then Texas pecan pies weren’t the wimpy little milk-custard-based, meringue-covered things Harper’s recommended. In Texas, we make our pecan pies with brown sugar, molasses or corn syrup, butter, eggs, a whole bunch of pecans, and sometimes bourbon.

Another thing Texans have been making with pecans for a long, long time is cinnamon-pecan cake—another treat lots of folks enjoy around the holidays. My family doesn’t put bourbon in this dessert. Instead, we pour a delicious whiskey sauce over each slice. (It occurs to me that for a passel of Baptists, my family sure cooks with a lot of liquor. See the old family recipe for muscadine wine here.)

On to the cake recipe!

 

PecanCakeCinnamon Pecan Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
Additional chopped pecans or pecan halves for topping, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

In large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beating at low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

At low speed, alternately add milk and flour mixture into sugar mixture, beating just until blended. Fold in pecans. Spread in pans. Sprinkle chopped pecans or arrange pecan halves on top, if desired.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire rack and cool completely.

 

VanillaWhiskeySauceWhiskey Sauce

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
½ Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup bourbon

In small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil.

Whisk cornstarch and water together and add to cream while whisking constantly.

Bring to a boil, whisk and simmer until thickened (taking care not to scorch the mixture on the bottom). Remove from heat.

Stir in sugar and bourbon. Taste. Add sugar and whiskey to adjust sweetness and flavor, if desired.

 

Folks in Fort Worth in the 1880s would’ve eaten this cake—or something very similar—during the holidays. That’s exactly when and where “A Long Way from St. Louis,” my contribution to Prairie Rose Publications’s Christmas anthology A Mail-Order Christmas Bride, takes place. The book—with stories by fellow fillies Cheryl Pierson and Tanya Hanson—bows November 27, but it’s available for pre-order now at Amazon.

PRPA MAIL ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDE WEB.JPG FINALHere’s a little about “A Long Way from St. Louis”:

Cast out by St. Louis society when her husband leaves her for another, Elizabeth Adair goes west to marry a wealthy Texas rancher. Burning with anger over the deceit of a groom who is neither wealthy nor Texan, she refuses to wed and ends up on the backstreets of Fort Worth.

Ten years after Elizabeth’s father ran him out of St. Louis, Brendan Sheppard’s memory still sizzles with the rich man’s contempt. Riffraff. Alley trash. Son of an Irish drunkard. Yet, desire for a beautiful, unattainable girl continues to blaze in his heart.

When the debutante and the ne’er-do-well collide a long way from St. Louis, they’ll either douse an old flame…or forge a new love.

 

So, readers… What dish—dessert, main course, side, or appetizer—absolutely must be part of your holidays? I’ll give an ebook version of A Mail-Order Christmas Bride to one of today’s commenters who answers that question. (All Petticoats and Pistols sweepstakes rules apply to this giveaway.)

 

Hardman for the Holidays~ Shanna Hatfield–and a giveaway!

Jangle my bells and call me a fruitcake (you wouldn’t be the first), but I’m as pleased as a cup of Christmas punch to be a guest once again here today.

I’ve had Christmas on the brain since mid-summer when I started working on holiday stories. Two of them released yesterday, so I’m excited to share a little about them with you today.

November 13 Christmaw Vow

 

The Christmas Vow is the fourth book in my Hardman Holidays series. These sweet Victorian romances take place in Eastern Oregon in the town of Hardman.

Once upon a time, there was a town named Dairyville, springing up from the barren landscape of sagebrush and rolling hills in the Eastern Oregon desert.

Eventually, the town became known as Raw Dog while a rival settlement sprang up a mile away known as Yellow Dog.  Stagecoaches and wagon trains traveling north and south through eastern Oregon and Washington found a convenient stopping point in both Raw Dog and Yellow Dog. The rivalry between the two locations escalated as they competed over which town would secure the stagecoach depot for the area.  When Raw Dog received a permanent stagecoach station, the two towns became one — Dogtown.

November 13 Snowy background

 

The town’s name changed to Hardman in 1881 when David N. Hardman, an old pioneer farmer, moved to town and brought the post office with him, by consent of the government, which he previously operated from his farm. The town took the name of the post office, and was known from that point on as Hardman.

Today, Hardman is a ghost town, but I like to envision it when it was bustling with activity. Images of what it used to be like filled my head as I created the first book in this series, The Christmas Bargain.

November 13 Christmas Bargain

As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in the small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt. Much to his surprised pleasure, Luke discovers his wife is a wonderful cook, among other things.

In fact, her skill at whipping up delicious meals and sweets carries through all four stories in the series.

Here’s a little excerpt from The Christmas Bargain:

“I happen to know a thing or two about you.” He shot her a sideways glance.

“Do tell, kind sir.” Filly batted her eyelashes at him. If Luke didn’t know better, he would think she was being downright flirtatious.

“I have observed, dear woman, that you put others before yourself, you are a dedicated and caring friend, and that you have a keen mind with a quick wit. You are clever, smart, and not afraid of hard work. Also, you’re very talented with domestic skills and inspiring as a cook. Your chocolate pudding could make grown men weep.”

Filly offered him a perturbed glare. “So, Mr. Granger, I have missed my calling as a schoolteacher or perhaps a cook at the restaurant. If my chocolate pudding makes grown men weep, what will my peach pie do to the male population? Bring them to their knees? Make them beg for mercy?”

Luke laughed aloud…

*****

 Visit Hardman as I see it in my imagination through the Hardman Holiday series: The Christmas Bargain, The Christmas Token, The Christmas Calamity, and The Christmas Vow.

November 13 Capturing Christmas Cover (3)

 

In addition to The Christmas Vow, Capturing Christmas, the third book in my Rodeo Romance series, released yesterday as well.

Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as the redheaded photographer he rescues at a rodeo.

November 13 JCCF logo (2)

November 1 through Dec. 24, ten  percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.

Heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful gals here at Petticoats & Pistols for inviting me back for a visit today.

As a thank you, I’ll give away one digital set of the Hardman Holidays series. Share a comment answering this question:

What’s your favorite holiday treat?

Wishing you all an early but very happy holiday season!

 

Author Bio:

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller. This USA Today bestselling author is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West,  Romance Writers of America,  Sweet Romance Reads, and Pioneer Hearts.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Updated: November 10, 2015 — 2:10 pm

Three of Christmas’ 12 Brides~ Tanya Hanson

Hot off the presses! The Brides of Christmas, Volume Two…win a copy today!marryingminda-crop-to-use

Last year, my editor asked me to represent the Cactus Rose (Wild West) line in a multi-author Christmas fest–The Twelve Brides of Christmas. I was given the theme “Four Calling Birds.”

The invitation came while I was visiting family in Hawaii! Inspiration hit me: why not an American cowboy finding romance in the islands?

Hawaii has such a rich ranching history…

November 12 Parker horses

Awesome mountain ranges…November 12 Wainae Mountains

 

Romantic sunsets…

Sunset

 

Dear little vintage towns…

November 12 Rustic town

Warm breezes and sparkling waves…

November 12 Rolling waves

Seahorses… (okay, seahorses don’t appear anywhere in the story, but we visited a breeding farm and they’re too darn cute not to post. And well, real horses appear.)

November 12 Seahorses

Anyway, everything wound itself together in The Christmas Room. (except seahorses.)

TheChristmasRoom_w9259_750 enhanced

And the fun continues! This Christmas, all twelve novellas are appearing in four anthologies, in both ebook and print formats. My story appears in Volume Two, out this very week. I’m honored to share the spotlight with two other talented authors. And I’m giving away an e-copy today to one U.S. commenter. 

Volume two Brides of Christmas

Here’s the scoop:

The Christmas Room by Tanya Hanson (Four Calling Birds)

Running from her past in Nevada and healing from unspeakable grief, innkeeper Martita Akala has built a new life on the island of Oahu…until a handsome cowboy disrupts her well-ordered peace.

 

Having made a deathbed vow he can’t break, a rancher from Lake Tahoe sails the Pacific to find a missing woman. Will spending time in Martita’s “Christmas Room” make cowboy Rooney Lind realize he’s found what he’s been looking for his whole life?

     *****

The Mystery of the Claddagh Rings by Kallie Lane (Five Golden Rings)

The Claddagh rings have resurfaced along with the hit men searching for them. An FBI agent offers to protect Fiona in exchange for the rings. Does she trust a mysterious stranger or go it alone and lose everything…maybe even her life?

Agent O’Shea is willing to do whatever it takes to clear his father’s name. He never imagines Fiona will touch his heart. As they join forces to beat the odds, will he be able to keep her safe…or will he surrender to the legacy of the Claddagh rings and let her go?

 *****

Six Geese For Monica by Brenda Gayle (Six Geese A’laying)

When her inability to conceive a child ended her marriage, Monica Stevens left her home town. Seven years later she reluctantly returns to run the Mother Goose Daycare while her mother undergoes surgery. Luke Donovan is struggling to balance career and fatherhood to six adopted children.
Initially brought together by the children, Monica and Luke quickly surrender to their growing passion. But Monica wonders if Luke’s interest in her is only as a mother to his children. Is history about to repeat itself or will a Christmas miracle finally give Monica the family she’s always dreamed of having?

*****

So here’s your entry into the giveaway: Where is the oddest place you’ve ever seen a cowboy?

*****

 (I’m signing off with a little excerpt from The Christmas Room:)

His lids popped open. Staring at her–eyes dark blue as a midnight without stars. “What happened? Where am I?”

“You had… an accident.” Martita shuddered, recalled his arm hanging from its socket. Like an undone button at the end of a long thread.

“Eh?”

“You…you got knocked from your horse in the surf,” she told him. “Getting your beeves to the steamer.” Honolulu had no deep water wharf. Paniolo had to tie cows by the head to the gunwales of small longboats and drag them through the water to load them to larger boats and steam ships.

Confusion wrinkled his brow. “What?

“Your arm got caught in the reins.” She wiped his face gently. “The waves knocked you both about pretty hard. But Doc Howe says he got your arm set back into your shoulder socket correctly.

“Where…where am I?”

“My boarding house. Honolulu.”

Updated: November 10, 2015 — 4:10 pm

Margaret, The Reluctant Cook Shares a Recipe

MargaretBrownley-headerP&P RECIPES LOGO

Margaret’s Philosophy about cooking

A meal should never take longer

to prepare

than it takes to eat

 

Whenever anyone suggests I share a recipe, I cringe. Not that I don’t have a recipe file, mind you. It’s just that instead of recipes my file is where I keep the telephone numbers of local take-outs.  So you can2_NutcrackerBride imagine how I felt when an editor asked me to include a recipe with my story The Nutcracker Bride. 

In desperation I turned to my daughter for help.  (Yes, the very same one who once thought school cafeteria food akin to the eighth wonder of the world. In her youth she was the Julia Child of the Lucky Tray Special.)

jelloAs I recall, she was particularly impressed with the Jello. She couldn’t believe it actually kept its shape after the mold was removed.

“Big deal,” I muttered.

“And the orange juice doesn’t taste burnt,” she persisted.

“They probably defrosted theirs in the microwave instead of on the stove,” I said defensively. I couldn’t believe she actually preferred bland orange juice.

She looked at me suspiciously. “And the rice could be eaten with a fork.”

“Probably one of those mountain grown brands,” I said weakly.

For the record, that smart aleck kid is now a professional chef and has raised three children who hate cafeteria food. When asked why she became a professional cook she claims it was for self-survival. 

Here’s the recipe she whipped up for my story.  It breaks my rule of no more than three ingredients per recipe, but you know how these chefs are.  If, like me, you use your oven for storage, don’t worry. I’ll be happy to provide the telephone number of a great German bakery.

 

German Zimt Makronen Cookies

1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs separated. Need only the whites
pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup of granulated sugar
Whole hazelnuts to top cookies
Mix together ground nuts, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Beat egg whites. When eggs are stiff add lemon juice and salt. Continue to beat until stiff. Gradually fold sugar into beaten egg whites and fold in nut mixture.
Using two small spoons place small mounds of cookie dough onto greased baking sheet.
Top each cookie with a whole hazelnut and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 20-25 min. Leave to cool. Enjoy with friends and family.

Okay, how many of you enjoy cooking? What is your least favorite kitchen chore?  

 

More Love and Laughter from Margaret Brownley

The Nutcracker Bride: He’s a Texas Ranger and she just shot him!

12brides of ChristmasThe Nutcracker Bride can be purchased separately or as part of this great collection of stories from some of your favorite authors, including our very own Mary Connealy.

Amazon

B&N

Updated: September 28, 2015 — 7:27 am

Love in the Time of Miscegenation

Kathleen Rice Adams header

She’s the sweetest rose of color this darky ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew;
You may talk about your dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee.

Those are the original words to the chorus of “The Yellow Rose Texas,” a folksong dating to early colonial Texas. The first known transcribed version—handwritten on a piece of plain paper—appeared around the time of the Texian victory at San Jacinto in April 1836.

Marie Laveau 1774-1881 Marie Laveau by Franck Schneider

“New Orleans’ Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau (1774-1881) was a free Creole of mixed race.

In its original form, the song tells the story of a black man (“darky”) who has been separated from his sweetheart and longs to reunite with her. The lyrics indicate the sweetheart was a free mulatto woman—a person of mixed black and white heritage. In those days, “person of color” was considered a polite way to refer to black people who were not slaves. “Yellow” was a common term for people of mixed race.

During the Civil War, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” became a popular marching tune for troops all over the Confederacy; consequently, the lyrics changed. White Confederates were not eager to refer to themselves as darkies, so “darky” became “soldier.” In addition, “rose of color” became “little flower.”

Aside from the obvious racist reasons for the modifications, legal doctrine played into the picture as well. Until the U.S. Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional in 1967, all eleven formerly Confederate states plus Delaware, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia outlawed marriage and sexual relations between whites and blacks. In four of the former Confederate states—Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—marriage or sexual relations between whites and any non-white was labeled a felony. Such laws were called anti-miscegenation laws, or simply miscegenation laws. In order to draw what attorneys term a “bright line” between legal and illegal behavior, many states codified the “single-drop rule,” which held that a person with a single drop of Negro blood was black, regardless the color of his or her skin.

Texas’s miscegenation law, enacted in 1837, prescribed among the most severe penalties nationwide: A white person convicted of marrying, attempting to marry, or having sex with a person of another ethnicity was subject to a prison sentence of two to five years. Well into the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for the non-white half of the illicit relationship to be severely beaten or killed by irate local citizens.

The first American miscegenation laws arose in the colonies in the 1600s. The laws breathed their last gasp in 2001, when Alabama finally removed the anti-miscegenation clause from its state constitution after a referendum barely passed with only sixty percent of the popular vote.

Texas’s miscegenation law plays a role in “The Big Uneasy,” one half of the duet of stories in my new release, The Dumont Brand. The father of the heroine’s intended “lives in sin” with a free Creole of color. Under a tradition known as plaçage, wealthy white men openly kept well-bred women of color as mistresses in the heroine’s hometown, New Orleans. Texans frowned on the practice nonetheless. The situation causes no end of heartache for the heroine.

The Dumont Brand releases Friday, along with 20 other books, as part of Prairie Rose PublicationsChristmas in July event. About half of the books are holiday tales (like The Last Three Miles), and the other half are stories set in other seasons (like The Dumont Brand). Each of them will warm readers’ hearts all year long. Prairie Rose will host an extra-special Facebook fandango to celebrate the mountain of releases July 28-29. You can RSVP here. Did I mention the Prairie Roses will be giving away free books, jewelry, and other fun prizes?

The Dumont Brand 2 Web

 

On the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until Amon Collier finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother Ben’s wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy: To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace: After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.

 

The-Last-3-Miles-Kathleen-2-Web_FinalThe Last Three Miles also will debut Friday as part of PRP’s Christmas in July:

When an accident leaves Hamilton Hollister convinced he’ll never be more than half a man, he abandons construction of a railway spur his lumber mill needs to survive. Believing no woman shackled by social convention can be complete, railroad heiress Katherine Brashear refuses to let the nearly finished track die.

The magic of Christmas in a small Texas town may help them bridge the distance…if they follow their hearts down The Last Three Miles.

You can read excerpts from both books and peruse a complete list of the titles that are part of PRP’s Christmas in July event here.

 

To do a little celebrating of my own, I’ll give an e-copy of The Dumont Brand to one of today’s commenters and an e-copy of The Last Three Miles to another.

Please note: Both are available only as ebooks.

 

CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN JULY WITH PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS!

Cheryl2041webHi everyone! Ready for some great western historical romance reading at some fantastic bargain prices? Well, let me tell you about Prairie Rose Publications’ 2nd annual CHRISTMAS IN JULY event!

Christmas in July is a chance for us to be able to showcase our authors’ short stories from the past year’s anthologies as single sell stories. Many of the stories are Christmas stories, but there are others, as well, and also for the duration of our Christmas in July event some of our full length novels will be reduced to only .99!

Our Christmas in July event will start on July 24 (this Friday) and will last through the next Friday, the 31st. One fun thing we always try to do when we have these sales is a Facebook party called a “FANDANGO” for our authors and readers to connect and get to know one another. During this year’s Christmas in July, our Fandango will take place on Monday, the 27th and Tuesday, the 28th. We decided on those days because Jacquie Rogers, one of our authors who is always so wonderful at setting up these shindigs for us, has a birthday on the 27th, and mine is on the 28th!

Here’s a collection of the 21 short stories and duos that will be available, but we’ll have more books available at “Christmas in July sale prices”!

PRPChristmas+in+July+2015 FINALI’ll post the links below so everyone can sign up, if you’d like to attend, and come join us for two afternoons/evenings of lots of fun, chatter, and PRIZES! What is Christmas without gifts?

Here’s a sneak peek at our fillies who will be participating with some of their stories in the Prairie Rose Publications Christmas in July event!

 

PRPThe Last 3 Miles Kathleen 2 WebKathleen R. Adams The Last Three Miles

When an accident leaves Hamilton Hollister convinced he’ll never be more than half a man, he abandons construction of a railway spur his lumber mill needs to survive.

 

Believing no woman shackled by social convention can be complete, railroad heiress Katherine Brashear refuses to let the nearly- finished track die. The magic of Christmas in a small Texas town may help them bridge the distance…if they follow their hearts down The Last Three Miles.

 

A PRAIRIE ROSE DUO–TWO STORIES UNDER ONE COVER!

PRPTanya Sisters Double 2 WebTanya Hanson: Sisters: Her Hurry-Up Husband

Prim and proper socialite Elspeth Maroney flees from an indiscretion to the Wild West of Colorado as a mail order bride. She doesn’t plan to stay long, only a month. Rancher Hezekiah Steller needs a wife quick to get himself an heir, but what will the stagecoach deliver to his doorstep?

Their worlds collide deliciously until Ellie must confess her mistakes. Will Hez still want her tomorrow?

Her Thief of Hearts

To escape her domineering mother, Omaha socialite Judith Maroney heads to her sister’s Colorado ranch on the morning train…a train that’s ambushed by the very cowboy who stole her heart on her last visit!

Taking on the disguise of his outlaw twin brother, Tremaine Heisler holds up a train to retrieve a family treasure—and finds his gun pointed at the woman he loves. Is there any way out for either of them?

A PRAIRIE ROSE DUO–TWO STORIES UNDER ONE COVER!

PRPTracy Garrett Duo WebTracy Garrett—A RIVER’S BEND DUO

Wanted: The Sheriff

Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only weeks away, Martha decides to announce her intentions — and declares the sheriff a wanted man.

Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore — until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.

No Less Than Forever

Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birth. He has good friends and enough income to provide him with a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.

Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have…a love that will last forever.

PRPThese Rough Dreams Cheryl WebCheryl Pierson: These Rough Dreams

When Southern socialite Gabrielle Mason discovers she’s pregnant, she takes her future into her own hands. She has her family name to consider, and a husband is what she needs. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride in Indian Territory. But the man who proposes isn’t the man she ends up marrying.

Johnny Rainbolt is not a family man by any stretch of the imagination…but Fate is about to give him no choice. His late sister’s three children will be arriving on the next stage, and he has no idea what to do with them. When cultured Gabby Mason is left waiting for her prospective groom at the stage station, Johnny sees a way to solve everyone’s problems.

Some dreams get off to a rough start. A mail-order marriage is only the beginning. When one of the children is stolen, Johnny and Gabby are forced to depend on one another in an unimaginable circumstance that could turn tragic… or show them what might become of THESE ROUGH DREAMS.

These are just a few of the wonderful stories that will be available on the 24th!

Visit our website at http://www.prairierosepublications.com on July 24 to see the unveiling of over 21 wonderful books, duos, and short stories that we’ll have available for Christmas in July!

To join up for the 2015 Christmas in July PRP Fandango at Facebook, go here and click “JOIN”—this event will start both the 27th and the 28th at 5:00 EASTERN STANDARD TIME, so don’t forget to make the adjustment for whichever time zone you live in! I promise, you won’t want to miss out on one minute of the fun!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1608290686092159/

We look forward to seeing you there!

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015