Category: Holiday Fun

Freedom Isn’t Free

Before my son graduated from Texas A&M University and entered the Air Force, I took our freedom for granted. Since then articles on the plight of veterans hold a new meaning. My son was deployed twice but he is one of the lucky ones. He escaped any lasting trauma. Other veterans haven’t been as fortunate, because you know what? Freedom isn’t free.

For most of us, the Fourth of July means food, family, fireworks and fun. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. For those veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and some estimates say this is as many as one half million vets, this holiday is difficult. For them, fireworks sound like artillery and throw them back on the battlefield amid the death and destruction of war.

Some veterans have placed signs in their yards saying, “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks.” They hope this will increase awareness and encourage discussions about PTSD. If you plan to shoot off fireworks tonight, please give any veterans living nearby a heads up. This allows them to prepare to deal with their possible reactions and keeps them from being caught unaware.

We owe these men and woman because of the cost they’ve paid for our freedom. We owe them whatever help we can offer. That brings up the question, what helps veterans deal with PTSD or the other issues plaguing them after serving our country? In doing research? I’ve discovered two agencies who work tirelessly to change veterans’ lives for the better.

While researching my current book, the third in my Wishing Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, I visited Patriot Paws in Rockwall, Texas. This agency provides service dogs to veterans with physical disabilities or PTSD. Service dogs can perform tasks a disabled vet is unable to or provide emotional support. Either way, they help veterans regain control of their lives. Unfortunately, agencies such as Patriot Paws are too few and the wait lists too long. Veterans often wait YEARS to receive their service dog. For more information on go to http://www.patriotpaws.org.

Another wonderful agency helping veterans is Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship south of downtown Dallas. I discovered this wonderful organization when doing research for Roping the Rancher. My hero turned his horse ranch into a similar organization when he left the military. Like numerous veterans, he struggled to find a purpose with meaning after returning to civilian life. Equest’s program,

Hooves For Heroes, does amazing work helping veterans struggling with the lack of purpose issue, as well as, depression and PTSD. For more information go to http://www.equest.org.

No matter what your plans today, I wish everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July. But please take time to remember those veterans whose lives have been impacted serving our country. Some of them and their families have paid a very high price because Freedom isn’t free.

Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Roping the Rancher. 

Updated: July 4, 2018 — 6:41 am

Cowboy Fever and Rodeo Fun

This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.

I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.

Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.

Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.

Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).

Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.

For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).

One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!

As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.

I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.

I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.

How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?

Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!

 Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.

 Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.

Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.

To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLMXSGT/?tag=pettpist-20

A Bad Case of Spring Fever

Without fail, it happens every year.

I can’t predict when it will strike. I can’t pinpoint any one single cause.

But I always come down with a bad case of spring fever.

Although it isn’t contagious, it seems like many people suffer from the malady this time of year.

It generally hits our house about the time the crocuses bloom and lasts until the tulips start to bud.

What is spring fever, exactly?

The best way I can describe it is a wishing and wanting and yearning for…. something. Something that exists just beyond your ability to grasp it, even if you can’t define it.  There is a wildness, a willingness, to recapture something you are unable to even recognize let alone verbalize.

I think Mark Twain wrote a perfect summation of Spring Fever:

 

Based on personal experiences of suffering from spring fever, I thought it would be fun (and funny) to include spring fever striking the hero in one of my books.

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance (Grass Valley Cowboys, Book 2)

One lonesome cowboy needs a few lessons in romance…

Trent Thompson doesn’t have many secrets, except for the torch he’s carried for the new schoolteacher since she moved to Grass Valley more than three years ago. Instead of asking her out, he’s dated every single female in a thirty-mile radius, giving her the impression he holds no interest in knowing her.

Lindsay Pierce moved to Grass Valley to teach and quickly fell in love with the small community as well as the delightful people who live there. Everyone welcomes her warmly except for one obnoxious cowboy who goes out of his way to ignore her.

Will Trent be able to maintain the pretense when he has to babysit his niece, who happens to be in Lindsay’s class?

Romance is in the air as spring fever hits the Triple T Ranch!

Here’s a little excerpt:

“Mr. Thompson, I’m sure you are aware of the fact, but let me reiterate it for you – school starts at 8:15 a.m. Not 8:20 and not 8:25, but 8:15 a.m. sharp. Can you and your brother please make it a priority to get Cass here on time until Trey and Cady return?”

Lindsay hoped that by taking him to task and keeping herself in a professional frame of mind, she could ignore the tempting way his lips curled up at the corners when he smiled.

“Certainly, Miss Pierce,” Trent said, appearing thoroughly chastised. “Travis and I will make sure she isn’t late again. We had a little accident this morning. She had to change her clothes and that’s why her outfit is a little… um… creative today.”

Lindsay couldn’t keep herself from smiling. She didn’t know why, but watching Trent try his best at caring for Cass made her heart soften toward the tall rancher. While Trey and Travis were shorter and stockier, Trent was one long, tall handsome cowboy. Even she had to look up to see his face when she talked to him.

Drawn into the warmth of his blue eyes, she took a step back and noticed his coat looked like a blindfolded drunk had snapped it.

“You must have been in a hurry this morning. You don’t even have your coat fastened properly,” she said with a shake of her head. Before Lindsay thought about what she was doing, she took a step forward and unsnapped his coat, just like she would for one of her students. Only the warm, virile male in front of her was no five-year-old in need of her assistance. She couldn’t keep from sucking in her breath as she stared at Trent’s very bare, very muscled chest.

“Oh,” she whispered, blushing from the top of her head to where her neck disappeared into the collar of her blouse. “I’m sorry… I  didn’t…”

What about you?

Do you suffer from the malady of spring fever? 

Post your response for a chance to win a digital copy of The Cowboy’s Spring Romance!

Christmas Came Just the Same–Imperfections and All!

First, I wish everyone a blessed and happy 2018.

Last month I wrote about how doing less could make for a better holiday. I truly believe that, but this year I pushed the cutting back on the holiday production to the limits.

It was one of those years when my dear hubby and I couldn’t get our act together. It started with our tree, but continued all the way through New Year’s Day. Normally, we decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but this year everyone had other activities. Hubby and I kept saying we’d get it done, but three days before Christmas, there we were, still without a tree. While we did put one up and had lights, we never did put on the ornaments. But you know what? To paraphrase Dr. Seuss and my husband, “Christmas was just fine.”

I’ve spent years working to overcome my perfectionist nature. In the past I became upset when little things went wrong or didn’t get done because I felt everything had to be perfect. I missed opportunities to be present in the moment because I believed I had to be perfect.

This year I realized I do write what I know. My characters, especially my heroines, often struggle with trying to please everyone. They wrestle with the idea that their self-worth is tied to their accomplishments and others’ approval. They’re trying to be perfect. Those characters learn the journey can be as important as the destination.

Over the years while I’ve learned that lesson, I do backslide. (I felt guilty about cutting so many holiday corners, but not too guilty.) So, I’ve decided this year I’m making changes regarding New Year’s resolutions. My BFF Lori quotes a blog written by Jen Hatmaker on January 5, 2015 entitled “The Thing About Being More Awesome.” (If you want to read the blog go to http://www.Jenhatmaker.com.) She claims many resolutions set us up for failure and revolve around trying to be “more awesome.” We think we need to be the best author, mother, friend, spouse, and the list goes on. She insists, “The finish line to this particular rat race is THE GRAVE.” Lori and I joke about making a sign with the resolution Try To Be Less Awesome. Translation—quit trying to be perfect. So that’s what I’m going to do in 2018.

The best I can do is good enough, and I’m going to celebrate it. I’m giving myself permission to say yes to what gives me joy, no to what doesn’t, and to feel less guilty about both. Life is too short to live it any other way.

When my perfectionist starts nagging me, I plan to tell myself to quit trying to be more awesome. Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about what helps you when you find yourself trying to do too much, and be entered for a chance to win the ornament and a Leather and Lace scented candle from my favorite shop Rustic Ranch!

Updated: January 3, 2018 — 9:00 am

Facing Leftovers and Memories

 

I’m so pleased to be the first Filly to kick off 2018!  I hope each of you had a great holiday and the coming year will be even better.

Yesterday, as I wrote my blog for today, I began to think…”What in heck am I going to do with the leftovers from the holiday?  Be it candy and goodies, that I sure don’t need, to great food like ham and turkey with all the fixin’s.”  It made me wonder what and how the holiday season was celebrated during the 1800’s.  So, I pitched what I had planned to write and began checking

out the idea.  I’m thrilled to share with you some thought provoking ideas.

What kind of beverage who the pioneers drink to welcome in the New Year?

  • Champagne: used throughout the 1800’s
  • Ale cocktail: a mixed drink comprised of ale, ginger, and pepper beginning in 1838;
  • Apple brandy a/k/a Apple Jack: a  liquor distilled from apple cider;
  • Brandy sour: brandy, lime or lemon juice and carbonated water, from the 1860’s;
  • Brandy toddy: brandy mixed with hot water and sugar;
  • Cocktail: got its name by 1806 for any mixed alcoholic drink;
  • Martini: comprised of gin and vermouth also briefly known as a Martinez; and
  • Syllabub:  a drink I’d never heard of. It’s similar to eggnog, but made with white wine, brandy, sugar, and whipped cream. It was traditionally served at Christmas early in the century, especially in Charleston.

Tea:  The first Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, or A&P, opened in 1859 on Vesey Street in NYC.  Its rows of tea bins contained teas from around the world.  By 1880, there were 95 A&P stores from Boston to Milwaukee.

Coffee:  Although tea was the preferred beverage until the Civil War, coffee was lightened with Borden condensed milk as early as the 1860’s.  Yes, you read that correct, the condensed milk we use today.  Chase and Sanborn coffee was sold in sealed cans around 1878.  Maxwell canned coffee followed the following year.

Now, what would the kids enjoy, in the way of candy?

Pretty much the same as today…peanut brittle, fudge, pralines and popcorn balls.  After the mind 1800’s, gumdrops and jujube paste became available. Penny candy came in later.  Chocolate was available throughout the century; with milk chocolate being invented later.

Christmas dinner was just about the same as today, depending on the part of the country you came from and your wealth.  Turkey, chestnut dressing, roasted  pig, celery, hot rolls, cranberry sauce and potatoes.  Desserts ran today’s gamut…mincemeat pie, pumpkin pie, and one of my favorites being a Texas girl with a Southern mother, sweet potato pie.  We enjoyed mincemeat because of my Ohio born and raised Daddy.

One of my favorite items, which I’ve never tried, is beaten biscuits. Eaten in the South for breakfast prior to the Civil War, the name was derived from the dough, which had to be repeatedly pounded with a hammer or mallet to knead it.

In my story No Time for Love in the anthology Give Me a Cowboy, which was my first published work with Kensington, with fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace, I used this for a scene.  Here is the back blurb: “Newspaperman Quinten Corbett wasn’t expecting his new apprentice to be female. Boston-born Kaire Renaulde is far too refined for a rough-and-tumble frontier town—and far too pretty for his peace of mind….’  It was fun to write and I hope you enjoyed if you’ve read the story.

I could write the rest of the day on interesting foods for the holiday in the 1800’s, but I think I’ll leave you to ponder over what I’ve tossed your way.  After all, I have eggnog left over and is waiting for me before an open fire, while my darlin’ hubby watches football.

In my neck of the woods, the Texas Panhandle, we celebrate New Year’s Day with a larrupin’ serving of black-eyed peas and cornbread.  When I was growing up, we also had corned beef and cabbage. Now, I confess that Mama won out.  Daddy, being from the North, said black-eyed peas were thrown to the hogs, but I guess to keep peace she added mincemeat pie to the holiday menu.  Such wonderful memories.

Is there any special meal you serve for New Year’s Eve or Day?

To two readers who leave a comment, I will be giving away their an autographed copy of Give Me  a Texan or if you already have read it, I’ll offer an eBook of your choice.

 

Updated: January 2, 2018 — 1:50 pm

Ten New Year Thoughts

What a difference a year…or four days…make. Decorations are put away and the good times stored in my memory. It’s time to look forward to the future and I do think this will be an easier year.

In 2018, I’ll reissue The Cowboy Who Came Calling in February (Book #2 of Texas Heroes) and TO CATCH A TEXAS STAR in July (Book #3.) Those will wind up the series in a fine fashion before I start releasing Outlaws Mail Order Brides in January 2019.

But whoa there! I’m getting ahead of myself. 2017 has a few a more days left.

I’m supposed to write about resolutions except I don’t make New Year resolutions. Never have. So here’s a compromise—I’m just going to call these Ten New Year’s thoughts.

  • I want to write more books that not only entertain but leave you with something to ponder.
  • I want to make this a fun year as much as I’m able.
  • I plan to dance in the rain and celebrate a milestone birthday. Never mind which one.
  • I plan to self-publish a short book or two on my own.
  • I want to give with my whole heart in everything I do. Life’s too short to hold back.
  • I want to do my part to help this earth by recycling, keeping my corner clean, and stamping out litter.
  • I want to do what I can to help the homeless people and pets.
  • I want to be a better, kinder, more sympathetic person.
  • I want to listen with my heart instead of my ears.
  • I want to make my family proud every day.

There you have it. Ten thoughts for 2018—God willing and the creek don’t rise. I’m sure you have your own set of thoughts. I wish you peace, love, and harmony now and forever.

I’m giving away a Linda Broday 2018 small wall calendar. To enter the drawing, tell me about your weather or what Santa brought you or what book you’re reading. I’ll draw late Saturday.

 

 

The Week Between

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was one I looked forward to with great anticipation each year during my childhood.

It wasn’t just the break from school that made the week fun (although I so enjoyed the freedom of not being at school or being plagued with mountains of homework).

If there was more than an inch of snow on the ground (which was typically the case on our Eastern Oregon farm), it meant unlimited outdoor entertainment. We went sledding off the hill right outside our back door, skating on the pond, snowmobiling across the sagebrush on the other side of the canal, and we even built snow forts a time or two.

Because my parents had a big house with ample room for parking, we almost always hosted Christmas for our extended family. My mom’s family and dad’s family took turns coming.

One year in particular I remember well because Mom’s family had all come for Christmas. We barely had a dusting of snow on the ground, so we spent most of the day inside with nothing to do but play with new toys, eat yummy food, and wish it would snow.

But then, in that magical week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it snowed, and snowed. And then snowed some more. In an impromptu effort to wring every bit of fun we could from the holiday season, Daddy invited his family to come over for New Year’s Day.

Snowy fun, circa 1970-something. That’s my John Deere snowsuit in the back left side of the photo with the hood securely tied almost up to the nose.

Mom made a huge pot of chili and enough cinnamon rolls to feed a small army.  My aunts provided salads and sides along with oodles of desserts. Family began arriving late morning and we spent the rest of the day sledding, skating, and having a wonderful time. The cold and darkness didn’t even put an end to our fun. After warming up with chili and hot chocolate, some of my hardier cousins trouped back outside to sled in the dark.

I’ll never forget that special New Year’s Day or how much fun we had.

Do you have any special New Year’s Day memories from your childhood

(or maybe from a holiday with your children?) 

One lucky commenter will receive their choice of a digital copy of any one of my books.

Wishing you all a safe, peaceful, joyous New Year’s Day and a fabulous 2018!

Santa’s On His Way

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! It’s that day of the year when kids can hardly contain their excitement, knowing that it’s only mere hours before Santa will make his way to their house (if they’ve been good) to eat cookies, drink milk and leave toys beneath the tree. I can remember my parents ushering my sister and me off to bed as soon as we saw Santa on the radar during the weather report on the 10 p.m. news. The Santa tale includes him making his way down the fireplace chimney, which brings me to how I began to question this whole Santa thing when I was a kid.

One, how could Santa come down a chimney in the middle of winter without burning himself? And what if you didn’t have a chimney that would accommodate a man of that size? This last question came up because we had a wood-burning stove when I was a kid. There was no way that Santa was fitting down a stove pipe, escaping the fire in the stove and magically squeezing himself out the stove’s door along with his unburned bag of toys. When challenged by my questions, my mom said he came in through the back door. Again, I wasn’t buying it. I knew for a fact that Mom locked that door and checked it multiple times in classic OCD fashion before she went to bed. There was no way she was leaving it unlocked.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that kids figure out the Santa fib even earlier these days. Between their friends and the Internet, it’d be hard to not figure out. But even when we’re older and no longer believe in the existence of an actual Santa Claus, we still love the story and what it symbolizes — the magic of the season as seen through the eyes of a child on Christmas morning.

When and how did you figure out that Santa wasn’t real? Were you disappointed?

From the Milburn family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I hope your 2018 is happy, healthy, fun and prosperous.

Updated: December 20, 2017 — 9:17 pm
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