Category: July 4th Holiday

Red, White and Blue…Pie!

When I was younger and visited my Grandma Walter on their northeastern Iowa farm, I always pestered her to teach me something. She taught me how to crochet and to make cream puffs. (I posted her recipe in a blog a while ago.) She had a huge garden where she grew potatoes, green beans, onions and I can’t remember what all else. While I didn’t inherit her green thumb despite her tutoring, I did receive her love of growing things. Every spring I plant a garden. This year I have high hopes since I’ve gone to a raised garden to keep out the dogs and the bunnies!

My grandmother also taught me to sew. I refined that skill during home economics. It’s amazing how much money I’ve saved because I could sew bed skirts, window treatments and my children’s Halloween costumes. Okay, the later didn’t really save money as much as it allowed me to create exactly what they wanted. 🙂

It saddens me when I hear how children say their middle and high school schedules are too full to take Skills for Living, what my generation knew as home ec. My youngest took the class in middle school, and we both enjoyed it. Together we shopped for the fleece material for the pajama bottoms he sewed. He made a lot of the recipes he learned in the class for us. But the best part was, he became an expert pie maker!

Every Fourth of July he and I make what we call a Red, White and Blue pie. The basic recipe is the strawberry pie recipe from his Skills for Living class. The blue comes from adding blueberries and the white is whipped cream. Today just in time for the Fourth, I’m sharing the recipe with you.

STRAWBERRY PIE

Crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Measure 1C flour and 1/2 tsp of salt into a bowl. Cut in 1/3 C shortening with a pastry blender until shortening particles are pea sized. Add 4 TBS of ice water. Form into a ball. Roll from the center out until crust is pan sized. Fold edges under and crimp. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly brown.

 

Filling:

Clean 1-2 pints of strawberries.

In a saucepan, mix 1 1/2 C sugar (I use slightly less) with 1/3 C cornstarch. Add 1 1/2 C water and mix completely. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it’s thick and translucent.

Filling when finished cooking before adding jello.

Remove from heat and add 3 oz. package of strawberry jello. Put some of cooled glaze in bottom of the crust. Add berries and continue covering them with glaze. Refrigerate and serve topped with whipped cream.

NOTE:  Add blueberries and make you have a Red, White and Blue Pie!

Giveaway:  Leave a comment sharing your favorite Fourth of July food or tradition to be entered in the drawing for a signed copy of A Cure For the Vet and a cactus T-shirt from my favorite shop, Rustic Ranch

 

 

Updated: July 2, 2019 — 3:06 pm

Dressing for Independence Day (plus a giveaway)

Nothing puts me in a patriotic frame of mind more than seeing bunting proudly displayed on homes and businesses. In fact, I recently took a trip to Honey Grove, TX, the setting for my most recent release, More Than Words Can Say, and I saw this house.

Not only was this a gorgeous Victorian-era home restored to its former glory, but it was a patriotic home as well. It was only the middle of June, but they already had their bunting on display for all to appreciate and enjoy. I knew I had to take a photo because a key turning point in my story centers around a 4th of July Parade in Honey Grove.

Abigail and her sister Rosalind have decorated their bakery with red-white-and-blue bunting and paper festooning in keeping with the holiday festivities, but in addition to decorating their portion of the town square, they decide to decorate themselves as well. Rosalind (a young beauty) has been chosen at the very last minute to be Honey Grove’s Queen Bee and is to be featured in the parade. Despite the late notice, Rosalind agrees to participate so that she can promote the bakery by handing out honey-glazed biscuits to parade goers. Thankfully, Rosalind is handy with a needle.

Here’s a scene from our hero’s point of view. Like most men, Zach has grown impatient waiting on his wife and her sister to appear . . .

The door opened. Zach spun around at the sound of the hinges.

“It’s about t—” The complaint died on his tongue as his wife stepped through the doorway. She’d abandoned her work apron and changed her dark blue shirtwaist for a white lacy confection with a pleated front that highlighted her abundant curves. She’d tied a red sash around her waist that set off her blue skirt with patriotic flair and had somehow folded a scrap of leftover paper festooning from the shop’s decorations into a circle thing that looked remarkably like a flower. It sat pinned it to her blouse like a brooch. Not only that, but she’d magically woven red ribbon through the braid on her head, a ribbon he was certain hadn’t been there when they’d been working side-by-side that morning.

I imagine Abigail and her sister dressed a bit like this. Abby with a red ribbon at her waist and a patriotic paper flower brooch. Rosalind in a fancier white dress with leftover red-white-and-blue bunting draped over her hips and bustled at the back.

“Isn’t she stunning?” Abigail asked as she turned her face away from him.

She? He only saw Abigail.

However, when Abigail gestured behind her, Zach finally noticed Rosalind stepping into the hall. She didn’t make his heart pound like Abby did, but he had to admit she was a right fine looking female. They must have taken curling tongs to her hair, for it hung in blonde ringlets down her nape in a way that reminded him of the fancy women in New York who used to bring donation baskets to the orphanage at Christmas.

Her clothes were much fancier than her sister’s, too. All white and frilly. She’d taken some of the bunting fabric and fashioned an overskirt that draped down her front and pulled up into a big bow at the back. She wore a straw hat decorated with more of those red, white, and blue paper flower things.

For someone who’d known for less than twenty-four hours that she was going to be the star attraction of the Fourth of July parade, she’d done an impressive job of improvising a patriotic ensemble that would no doubt put Sophia Longfellow to shame.

Abigail shot him a look that felt remarkably like a kick to the shin. Obviously, she expected him to say something. And not to her.

He smiled at Rosie. “I’ve never seen a prettier Lady Liberty.”

Abby beamed at him, making him stand a little taller since he’d somehow managed not to stick his foot in his mouth. Then she took her sister’s hand. “You’re beautiful, Rosalind. No one deserves the title of Honey Grove’s Queen Bee more than you.”

Abigail and Rosalind might not have been dressed quite like the lady on this vintage Victorian postcard, but they were creative in using what they had to create festive and patriotic ensembles.

I don’t have too many patriotic ensembles myself, but when the time is right I have been know to pair red, white, and blue items from my closet in new and interesting ways.

What is your favorite way to decorate either your home or yourself for the 4th of July?

Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of More Than Words Can Say and see what disaster befalls Abigail during that fateful parade.

Warning! Tim McGraw will make you cry.

For those of you who lived through the Vietnam War, you’ll remember the violence and discontent from our country’s involvement.  As crazy as it sounds, many Americans blamed our soldiers for being there, and their suffering and the terrible things they witnessed made no difference to those back home.  The soldiers were shunned and rebuked upon their return to US soil.  They were made to be the enemy when they were, in truth, fighting to help keep us all free, something everyone should have appreciated more than they did.

Nowadays, thankfully, the tide has turned, and the men and women in our military are honored and revered, as they should be.  Patriotism is surging.  The flag once again flies with respect.  Who can keep a dry eye while watching a news clip of a soldier dad returning home to surprise his child?

One of the ways to show our patriotism is through songs and videos.  Yesterday, my sister-filly, Cheryl Pierson, wrote an excellent blog with many examples of patriotic songs, and our readers loved chiming in.

Funny how great minds think alike.

Tim McGraw is one of my top three country singers, and I’m sharing his popular video for “If You’re Reading This.”

During our Special Event week celebrating patriotism, please enjoy.  And be sure to grab a Kleenex.

Updated: June 24, 2019 — 4:24 pm

THE TOP ‘MOST PATRIOTIC’ COUNTRY SONGS–WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE? by CHERYL PIERSON

 

Summer seems like the most patriotic time of the year in general, doesn’t it? We kick off the summer months with Memorial Day in May. Poppies are worn in remembrance of veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day in November.

On June 6, we are reminded of the sacrifices made on a faraway beach in Normandy that resulted in many deaths in WWII, but turned the tide for the Allies and helped us gain victory. June 14th is Flag Day, a fine “tune up” for our huge 4th of July celebration that’s right around the corner.

Is anyone more patriotic than a cowboy? I don’t think so!  So many country and western songs have been written through the years that are a tribute to not only our troops, but to first responders, and to all the “regular” American people who love our country.

Here is my list of top country and western patriotic songs, compiled from several on the internet—all different, but all wonderful—and all with one thing in common: our love for our country. These are in no particular order. I don’t know how anyone could choose one over the other since they all are products of excellent songwriting and musicianship—and heartfelt sentiments about America! And goodness knows, I didn’t list them all here—no room! Like I said, there are a lot of patriots in the country music field, and a huge number of songs to listen to in order to get in the patriotic spirit of things! I’ve included the youtube links in case you want to pop over and give these a listen!

This first one is an odd one, but I just love it. It was recorded by David Ball, who didn’t have that many hits, but this one will stay in your memory when you hear it for the very first time. I get chills every single time I hear it.  A young man buys a ’66 Corvette and discovers a letter in the glove box “My name is Private Andrew Malone, and if you’re reading this I didn’t make it home…” Which always makes me think about so many young men who could have written this following line…“For every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true…”  It’s called RIDING WITH PRIVATE MALONE and it has a very twisty ending you’re sure to love!

 

https://youtu.be/v5dyHPX8Cos

 

Probably the most recognized country song that many call our “unofficial” American anthem was written and performed by Lee GreenwoodGOD BLESS THE U.S.A. Written in 1983, it’s become synonymous with patriotism, and is loved by countless Americans, whether they are typical country and western fans or not. Its simple message is one that grabs you and holds on, and I have to admit, that even after nearly 40 years of hearing it, I still get teary! “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me—so I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, for there ain’t no doubt I love this land—God Bless the U.S.A.!”

 

https://youtu.be/yH61hFsma24

 

Another “oldie but goodie” is Merle Haggard’s THE FIGHTIN’ SIDE OF ME, written in 1970. Oh, goodness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my husband play and sing that back when we used to have our band…fond memories, and it was a song that was a frequent request, whether we lived in West Virginia or here in Oklahoma. “If you don’t love it, leave it, let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’—when you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me…” I love the sentiment of this song. In true “Merle” fashion, he’s saying that we can disagree on things without trashing our country. I think everyone in the audiences we played to knew the words to this song!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIxBmyRQlwQ

 

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? is not a “patriotic” song in the way we’d normally think of one, but it was not written during normal times. Penned by Alan Jackson in 2002 after the horrific events of  9/11/01, this song is packed with emotion and validates the many thoughts and feelings that Americans went through during the aftermath of that day. Each chorus of this song ends with the reminder that God’s greatest gift to us is love—even though we were going through some horrendous times. This song was nothing short of a masterpiece that drew Americans together, gave us hope, and let us know we were not alone in our feelings.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNsfx_4k-JA

 

In 1974, Johnny Cash wrote RAGGED OLD FLAG, a recitation about all the incidents that happened to “the ragged old flag” that hangs in a little town’s courthouse square as told to a town newcomer by one of the old men who lives there. “She’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…on second thought, I guess I do like to brag, cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KqrjeScLSI

8TH OF NOVEMBER, another patriotic song written about the Vietnam war, is performed by Big and Rich. It is the true story of a terrible battle in which the 173rd Airborne was engaged. That day, 48 Americans died with very few survivors when they were ambushed by 1200 Viet Cong. “With the fire rainin’ down and the hell all around there were few men left standin’ that day…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozpdBvB0hek

 

 

 

There are countless others, in case you want to put together a country and western playlist for your big Independence Day shindig! Take a look!

SOME GAVE ALL by Billy Ray Cyrus

LETTERS FROM HOME by John Michael Montgomery

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? by Darryl Worley

IF YOU’RE READING THIS by Tim McGraw

HOME by Dierks Bentley

I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK by Lee Brice

FOR YOU by Keith Urban

IT’S AMERICA by Rodney Atkins

FLYOVER STATES by Jason Aldean

COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN) by Toby Keith

WHERE THE STARS AND STRIPES AND THE EAGLE FLY by Aaron Tippin

AMERICAN SOLDIER by Toby Keith

THE BALLAD OF IRA HAYES by Johnny Cash

This isn’t all of them, either! Hope you all have a very happy 4th of July with family, friends, and loved ones. What’s your favorite country and western patriotic song, and why? It’s hard to pick just one!  

Prairie Guest Books

In the recently released Old West Christmas Brides collection, Chimney Rock plays an important part of my story.

Located in Nebraska, this rock formation was one of the many prairie “registers” along the pioneer trails leading west, and could be seen from as far as thirty miles away.  Some considered it the eighth wonder of the world.

Thousands of travelers carved or painted signatures onto these “registers.”  Sometimes they left messages to those traveling behind.     

Those in a hurry would simply hire one of the businessmen who had set up shop at the base of the rocks to carve or paint signatures for a fee.  Travelers would often add hometowns and date of passage. 

Chimney Rock was taller in the 1800s.

The best known “Register of the desert” was Independence Rock.  Travelers beginning their westbound trip in the spring tried to reach this rock by July 4th.  Reaching it any later could be disastrous. For that would mean, travelers might not reach their destinations before running out of grain or the winter storms hit. 

The most recognized landmark on the Oregon trail, Independence Rock is located in Wyoming.  The granite outcropping is 1,900 feet long, 700 feet wide, and 128 feet high and has been described as looking like a turtle or large whale.  It’s a mile around its base. 

 

True West Magazine

It’s hard to imagine in this day of instant communication, the importance of these rocks.  In those early days, mail was none-existent and anyone heading west had no way of communicating with family back home.

Travelers climbed the rock to engrave their names, but also to look for the names of friends or relatives who had passed before them. One of the earliest signatures to be found is that of M.K. Hugh, 1824.

Cries of Joy!

Lydia Allen Rudd reached the rock on July 5th, 1852.  Though she wrote in her diary “that there are a million of names wrote on this rock,” she was somehow able to locate her husband’s name.  He had passed by the rock three years earlier.    

Unfortunately, erosion and time have erased many of the names, but the echoes of the past linger on. 

If you were a traveler in the 1800s, what message would you leave for those traveling behind? 

 

 

“This tale charms.” -Publishers Weekly

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Updated: September 26, 2018 — 2:33 pm

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?

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

SIGNING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE–by Cheryl Pierson

Declaration of IndependenceWhat does July 4th mean to you? A day off work? An appliance sale you can’t pass up? A day the banks are inconveniently closed?

In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes lose sight of what this patriotic holiday means to each and every one of us—because the real reason for it occurred so long ago…over 200 years in the past.

In the “big picture”, 200+ years is not really so far away—we’re a relatively new country, compared to so many others. But because of the frenetic pace our contemporary society keeps, the past is something that’s easy for us to forget.

But think of what the men who signed our Declaration of Independence faced for putting their signatures on such a document…Treason.

united-states-flag_2188_130213397[1]Here’s a little bit about the fifty-six rebels who came together during those hot July days so many years ago, and created the document that could have made or broken a new nation…

Five of these men were captured by the British during the Revolutionary War. Though the signers’ homes were not specifically targeted for looting, twelve of the signers’ homes were occupied, ransacked, and vandalized in the process of the war.

Abraham Clark’s two sons were captured and incarcerated on the prison “hell” ship, Jersey. They were treated with special brutality because of who their father was. When offered their lives if he would recant, Clark’s answer was an anguished, resounding no. John Witherspoon’s son, James, was killed in the Battle of Germantown, 1777.

Francis Lewis’s wife was held prisoner for several months before being exchanged for two British prisoners.

Lewis Morris and Phillip Livingston lost several of their properties. Morris’s home was taken over and used as a barracks for soldiers—by the Continental Army, first; and then, not long afterward, it was “appropriated”, looted and burned by the British.

united-states-flag_2183_58326922[1]The youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence was Edward Rutledge, age twenty-six. Benjamin Franklin, at age seventy, was the oldest. Eighteen of them were under forty—three of these in their twenties. Almost half of the fifty-six men who signed—twenty-four—were lawyers and judges. Eleven were merchants, twelve were doctors, ministers and politicians. The remaining nine were landowners and farmers.

 

Two future presidents signed—John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President).

Those who were not there to sign? George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry.

John Hancock signatureJohn Hancock was one of the richest men in America at the time. There was also a price on his head—500 pounds. He signed with a mighty flourish, in letters so large “that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward.”

I wish I had room to go into further detail about these remarkable men who came together and, in three hot days, hammered out the Declaration of Independence for this great country or ours to be born and recognized.

These are 1337 of the most important words ever written—the birth certificate of a nation.

As we cook our hotdogs and shoot off our fireworks tomorrow, let’s remember the real reason for the Fourth of July holiday, and the other name we call it: Independence Day. And please remember these men who took such a chance with their property, their families, and their lives. They had much more to lose than they stood to gain—but they saw the love of their country sacred above all else.

One Magic Night WebWhat are some of your favorite memories of Independence Day? Leave a comment below, and I will draw two lucky winners for my novella ONE MAGIC NIGHT that takes place in Indian Territory at a 4th of July picnic!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!