I think my love of the west and cowboys grew out of my love for my grandparents’ Iowa farm. I loved that place. I did a lot of thinking and dreaming there. I also learned a lot, mainly from my grandmother. The older I get the more I appreciate what I learned from her. She was an incredibly strong woman, but she possessed a quiet strength. She worked the farm and raised six children. I always thought her the most patient person I knew. She never had a cross word for anyone, and I can count on one hand the number of times she lost her temper.
My grandmother always made time for me and my endless questions. Such a simple gift, her time and attention, and yet, such an important one. And I had a lot of questions about whatever she was doing, whether it be gardening, crocheting, sewing or cooking. All of which I still enjoy doing today.
One day when she was making one of my two favorite treats, cream puffs–the other was her angle food cake with fresh strawberries–I asked questions and wrote down what she told me. Because of my curiosity, I have my grandmother’s recipe for cream puffs.
For a holiday gift, I’m sharing her recipe with you.
½ C butter
½ tsp salt
1 C water
1 C sifted flour
Combine butter, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once. Stir until the mixture sticks together in a ball and leaves the edges of the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until egg has been completely absorbed. Drop by tablespoonful, heaping in the middle, on greased baking sheet with 3 inches between each. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 10 minutes. Do not open oven during baking or cream puffs could
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks (beaten)
1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons milk
In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 C milk to a boil. Stir in above mixture. Reduce heat and cook until thick. When cool combine with ½ pint whipped heavy cream.
Leave a comment about your favorite holiday treat and be entered to win a cup and plate set along with a copy of Family Ties. May 2019 be filled with many wonders and joys for you and your family, and remember, of all the gifts you can give, the best is your time and attention.
I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)!
I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner.
In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year.
So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today.
I hope you’ll take a look!
He needs a holiday miracle. . .
She’s prepared to deliver one
Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.
All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe. Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.
With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.
The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh 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.
The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!)
The 1940s and 50s has been called the golden age of Christmas music, and for good reason. White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland and Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer are just some of the treasures that came out of this period.
Following World War II people were ready for messages of hope and change, and song writers were only too eager to comply.
Some of the greatest Christmas hits have fascinating and even funny stories behind them. Silver Bells, written in 1950, is one of them.
Inspired by the number of different kinds of bells heard at Christmas, the songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evan decided to write a song about them.
They called the song Tinkle Bells.After they finished writing the lyrics, they played it for Evan’s wife and were shocked then she almost fell off the couch laughing.
She then explained that the song might make people think more of the bathroom than Christmas. The two men didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about until she explained that mothers used the word “tinkle” to get their youngsters to use the toilet.
The two men wisely changed the song title to Silver Bells.
Jay and Ray weren’t the only songwriters saved from making a mistake. Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane wrote Have yourself a Merry, Little Christmas for Judy Garland to sing on screen.
What they hadn’t counted on was Judy rejecting their song and threatening to walk off the set unless the lyrics were changed. In the original song, they’d written that the two lovers might never see each other again. Have yourself a Merry Christmas/it may be your last/next year we’ll be living in the past.
Judy knew that wasn’t the message that people wanted to hear in times of war. She sent the song back for a rewrite. Though Martin and Blane were convinced it was a mistake, they gave the song more upbeat lyrics and scored a hit.
Another hit was inspired by a parade. Gene Autry had been invited to be a special guest at the Hollywood Christmas parade.
Fearing that his prewar career success was behind him, he was delighted to be greeted by thousands of screaming youngsters. It seemed he had not been forgotten.
However, Gene soon learned his mistake. The children weren’t screaming for him. They were screaming for the man behind him.
“Look, Ma,” one boy yelled. “Here comes Santa Claus.”
Gene Autry had been upstaged, and his worst fears had been realized. The screaming children had no idea who he was. Later, he recounted the incident to his composer friend, Oakley Halderman.
Halderman laughed. “Sounds like a song to me.”
The two men worked on the song together. Here Comes Santa Claus became Autry’s first hit in a decade, and helped to relaunch his career.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is The Little Drummer Boy. What is your favorite?
Christmas is such a wonderful time to be together with family and share in healthy doses of love and laughter. My empty nest is back to peak capacity with my college student kiddos back home, and this mama is loving it! We have a puzzle going that my daughter and I work on together. We play board games nearly every night. Now if I could just find time to wrap all the gifts stuffed in my closet.
You know what I need? I need a cowboy hero to ride to my rescue and wrangle all those stray gifts, brand ’em with paper and bows, and herd them under the tree. Maybe what I need is this guy:
I don’t write for Harlequin, but I have to admit, this ad made me smile.
And with Christmas right around the corner, I have a great virtual stocking stuffer idea for you.
The Christmas Heirloomis on sale for only $2.99 for the e-book version at all major retailers through the end of December. Stuff your own stocking with a little Christmas cheer or surprise a friend with an e-gift. All you need is their email address to send them a copy.
In my upcoming release, ELEANORA (Book #8 in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series), the heroine, Eleanora Cavender, is tasked with organizing a scavenger hunt for the town’s July 4th celebration. The widows have suffered terrible losses after mine explosions, and the mayor believes a scavenger hunt would improve morale and be fun for the widows.
Eleanora is not exactly enamored with the idea. The whole thing feels frivolous, she resists such a big responsibility, and she’s at a loss for ideas.
However, the hero, Reed Shannon, loves the challenge of a good game. Strategy excites him. And in the end, quite unexpectedly, he finds the perfect prize for Eleanora’s scavenger hunt.
I have a large family, and this year, we are making a HUGE break from tradition in that we are forgoing a gift exchange. Instead, we’ll spend the evening playing games.
Here’s a few of our favorites throughout the years.
Actually, this will be a new one for us this year. The Saran Wrap game where trinkets (candy, small toys, money) are wrapped up in a big Saran Wrap ball. Whoever can peel away the Saran Wrap before time is up gets the prize. Can’t wait to do this one!
Sequence – and old favorite. Players use cards and chips to get five in a row. Sounds easy? It’s all about the strategy.
Tripoley – remember this one? Uses cards and chips to play several games – Rummy, Hearts, or Poker. We spent hours and hours playing this one growing up.
Spoons – put your spoons in the middle of a table, get a deck of cards and try to get four of a kind. Fast-paced and easy.
Pictionary – draw a picture of the word on a card and have a team guess what the word is. No words or gestures can be used. Hilarious because, well, most people can’t draw well.
Family Trivia Game – my brother has accumulated interesting facts from our childhood for years. Talk about a trip down memory lane. Great fun for us older kids who lived it. Great fun for the younger ones to hear about it.
Of course, I can go on and on, but these are just a few games that will keep you laughing and enjoying time together, adults and kids alike.
How about your family? Are you game-players? Will you gather around the table or floor and challenge each other this Christmas? What’s your favorite game?
Please share what kind of fun your family enjoys, and I’ll pick a winner for a $5 Amazon gift card!
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Are you one of those super organized holiday people who have up their Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving and mail out their Christmas cards the following week? I used to be, but I have to admit, not so much lately. As of today just about the only decorating I’ve done is to hang up the Christmas stockings. (Mantle is looking mighty crowded these days – I LOVE it!!)
The four stockings made from the same fabric are ones I made for my kids when they were very young. I even crossed stitched their names and a holiday design on the cuff. When my oldest daughter got married I purchased her husband a stocking but cross stitched a cuff to add to it so that it matched the other four. Unfortunately, by the time my next daughter got married my cross stitching days were behind me. So I personalized the rest of them with jaunty embroidered patches.
As I was taking care of that fun bit of holiday tradition (and remembering holidays past), it made me wonder, where did the custom of hanging stockings come from. So I decided to do a bit of research.
It turns out that there are two schools of thought on how this came to be, both shrouded in myth and tradition.
The most popular theory is that it is linked to the stories surrounding the generosity of the original St. Nicholas. Nicholas lived in the third century and was renowned for his concern for and generosity toward those in need. One story tells of a poor widower who had three daughters. The man was distraught over the fate his daughters were facing since he had now dowry to offer prospective husbands. The story goes that Nicholas heard of the family’s plight and secretly, so as to not gain honor for himself, entered their home and left gold coins in the girls stocking which were hung by the fire to dry. Thus the practice of hanging stockings by the fireplace in hopes of receiving a gift was born. Oh, and sometimes an alternate version is given that has Nicholas leaving a small gold ball in each stocking. This is supposedly where the custom of putting oranges in the toe of stockings comes from.
The second theory on the origin of the Christmas comes from a completely different belief system, that of Norse mythology. According to this version, children would fill their shoes with straw, root vegetables or sugar and leave them on the hearth for Odin’s flying horse to eat. As a reward for their kindness Odin would replace their offering with one of his own, that of gifts or sweets.
This practice was widely spread through Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Once Christianity was adopted, the legend of Odin’s benevolence merged with the stories of St. Nicholas evolving over time into today’s current practice.
Whatever the truth of the matter, I’m glad this fun tradition is part of our current day holiday celebrations.
So what about you? Does your family hang stockings? Is there a story behind any of the stockings themselves?
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of two copies of the re-release of The Christmas Journey
Philadelphia lawyer Ryland Lassiter is everything Josephine Wylie wants – for a brother-in-law! As the sole supporter of her family, Josie’s plans for herself have always had to wait. But Ryland will be ideal as the new head of the Wylie clan…once he finally realizes how perfect he is for her sister.
Ry knows its time to settle down. The newly appointed guardian to a friend’s daughter, he’s ready for a home and family. All he needs is a bride…and Josie’s sister is not the Wylie who has caught his eye. If only Josie would see the truth – that the only Christmas present he needs is her love.
Three previously released Christmas novellas now together in one book.
Longhorn Christmas Netty Lewis, a lonely young widow is saved from a raging mama longhorn by a passing cowboy who’s been wandering since the end of the Civil War. She needs help surviving her rugged life and caring for Jeremiah, her young son. And that means rounding up a nice-sized herd of wild-as-wolves longhorns.Netty and Roy, along with Jeremiah begin a journey toward Christmas, family, home and love…And a herd of longhorns are making the way hard.
A sweet re-telling of The Gift of the Magi–with a happy ending…The Sweetest Gift. She longs for music. He needs a valuable horse to improve his herd.When Christmas comes the gift they truly give is the gift of love.
The Christmas Candle, A lonely widower with a pair of out-of-control sons he never got to know while their mother was alive.A woman with a love of nature and beauty and scent…and the little boys seem determined to destroy her way of life. A feisty Ozark mountain granny who doesn’t put up with much nonsense.The gift of a candle for Christmas and a Christ child who is a perfect match for this scent of heaven.
***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!*** Amazon gift card.
The Partridge will be celebrating its one year anniversary come December and is still going strong. A delightful tale about a little town struggling to survive. Their only hope, mail-order brides!
Reverend Chase Hammond hoped was in a pickle. If he didn’t get the men of Noelle married, his and every other man’s hopes of having the railroad come would die, Noelle right along with it. But planning to marry the men off to save the town and actually doing it were two different things. Some didn’t like the idea, thinking a mining town should be mining, not marrying! But that was only one of Chase Hammond’s problems. Problems that if not fixed immediately, would seal Noelle’s fate …
Felicity Partridge was in trouble. Big trouble. An active voice for Suffragettes, she’d managed to get herself arrested more than a few times. Now her father demanded she marries to keep her out of more trouble. But how could she further the cause of women shackled to a husband? But when her father gave her the choice between marriage and jail, she decided it best to further her cause elsewhere, and Noelle, Colorado seemed just the place to do it! Especially when she found out who her husband to be was …
Unfortunately, he had other ideas about marrying. Amazon Link
Christmas in Clear Creek, another Christmas favorite!
Bowen Drake had a gift. Unfortunately, he didn’t want it. He even went so far as to do ‘bad’ in order to thwart the ‘good’ that seemed to follow him everywhere! For when HE needed it the darn thing didn’t do HIM any good at all! He tried drinking, he tried womanizing, he even tried outlawing, but nothing worked. Finally, he stumbles into the little town of Clear Creek and there discovers why we’ve been given the gifts we have…
Elsie Waller came to Clear Creek after the death of her grandfather. She had high hopes for her life in the little town including looking for a husband. Imagine her elation when she happens upon the man of her dreams the very day after she arrives! Of course, the fact he was half frozen did put a damper on things, but once the townsfolk of Clear Creek thawed him out she endeavored to make sure Bowen Drake stayed around long enough to see she’d make him a mighty fine wife! The only question was, how?
Enjoy Bowen and Elsie’s fanciful tale of mishaps, miracles, and love! Amazon Link
And to top things off, one lucky reader will receive a $10.00 Amazon Gift Cardjust for following me on BookBub/
***Scroll down to the form below. Click the BOOKBUB link to my author page and FOLLOW ME, then note on the form that you followed. If you want to mention it here, too, feel free!***
Although A Texas Christmas has been out since 2011, it is still one of our best selling anthologies. It hit New York Times and USA Today making is a popular holiday read.
On the eve before Christmas a blizzard arrives in Kasota Springs, Texas, transforming the small town into a night to remember.
Four ladies desperately in need of saving, four hard-ridin’ cowboys who aim to please. . . Four stories of holiday fun, and lots of laughter and love.
In A Christmas Miracle, Mattie Jo Ashley has lost too many people she loves. She is determined not to lose her baby sister to a mysterious disease.
Dr. Grant Spencer has every confidence in his abilities as a third generation doctor, but is sorely in need of self worth in other areas of his life….
When Mattie Jo unleashes havoc in the community and takes Grant to the brink of testing his courage and fortitude as both a doctor and a man, all discover the true Christmas spirit and the power of genuine love and acceptance.