Category: Just for Fun

Thank You Bees and Lady Bird Johnson

A couple weeks ago, my neighbor discovered a bee swarm on one of our fence posts. (When I first saw it, the swarm was twice the size of the one pictured.) Being a conservationist, I was concerned the swarm was honeybees. Being a paranoid dog owner/foster, I was worried what could happen if dogs and bees met. Thankfully, my ever-calm hubby hopped on the Internet and called Little Giant Beekeepers.

The woman he spoke with said the swarm was probably resting after their hive had been disturbed. They’d send out scouts, find a new home and move in a day or two. But, if we wanted, they could send a beekeeper. With me imagining one or more dogs not having the sense to leave the bees alone, getting stung, and having an allergic reaction, we opted for the beekeeper.

Turned out the bees were honeybees. When Miguel came, he suited up, and with an Amazon box and brush in hand, he swept them into the box! He accomplished the task amazingly fast. (Miguel later told us once the queen is in the box, the remaining bees pretty much follow.) Then he taped the box shut and said the bees would be relocated.

The bee incident made me thinking about Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy. This time of year, wildflowers, particularly Texas’ state flower bluebonnets, bloom along highways and in medians, continuing the conservation efforts she started decades ago. According to http://www.pbs.org/ladybird, on January 27, 1965, Lady Bird wrote in her diary, “Getting on the subject of beautification is like picking up a tangled skein of wool. All the threads are interwoven—recreation and pollution and mental health, and the crime rate, and rapid transit, and highway beautification, and the war on poverty, and parks—national, state and local.”

I’ve always felt passionately about issues. Rarely am I on the fence. These days, two of my soap box issues are conservation and saving honeybees. I keep thinking about planting bee friendly plants–sage, salvia, lavender, clover and native wildflowers. Honeybees are struggling to survive. I believe we all need to do our part to help. After all, as Lady Bird said, everything is interwoven, and honeybees pollinate most plants, including our food. No bees? Life will get tough for other animals. Humans included.

I think the bee swarm was the universe telling me to quit talking about it and improve my garden. This weekend I intend to take a tip from Lady Bird Johnson and plant flowers, because like she believed, “beauty can improve the mental health of a society,” and of course, I’ll choose bee friendly plants. We should be kind to our planet and its inhabitants, honeybees included. We’re in this together, and we should keep the Earth healthy. As French president Macron said, there is no Planet B. 

Tonight I’ll select one reader who leaves a comment to receive a Book Club wine glass and a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy, where my heroine runs a B&B, The Bluebonnet Inn.

Updated: May 2, 2018 — 7:22 am

Bested by a Buzz Wagon

I’ve spent many hours the last few weeks combing through digital editions of old newspapers from Pendleton, Oregon.

As I was browsing through the news on one front page, a headline caught my eye.

Buzz Wagon Proves Too Much for Ted

The first thought that popped into my head was “what’s a buzz wagon?” The second was “who’s Ted?”

If, like me, you haven’t been exposed to the early 20th century slang term, a buzz wagon is what some people used to refer to an automobile. (Presumably from the noise emitted from those early vehicles.)

On a lovely June day in 1912, a cowboy named Ted and another cowpuncher brought 300 head of horses to Pendleton to sell.

According to the newspaper, Ted could ride anything that had two ears and a tail, but the “golderned buzz wagon” was too much for the buckaroo to handle.

While they waited around town the evening before they were to set to sell the horses, Ted and his fellow cowpuncher wandered down to the Pendleton Round-Up grounds to see what amusements they might find.

What they found was an automobile left sitting in the arena, unattended, while members of the Elks club tried out teams for an upcoming chariot race (wouldn’t that be fun to see?).

The two cowboys thought the seats of the auto looked inviting, so they slid in to watch the proceedings. After a while, Ted landed on the brilliant idea of taking the auto for a spin. Although he’d never been in an automobile before, let alone drove one, he asked his friend to get out and give the car a crank to start it.

The car started but ol’ cowboy Ted found he couldn’t control the “red devil” as it traveled across the track of the arena. He whipped the wheel one way then the other, touched every button and pulled every lever to no avail. The auto stopped when he bashed into a pole at full speed.

When the owner of the car arrived on the scene, Ted offered to buy the man a new automobile. The owner thought he could have the auto repaired and they settled on $25 payment.

Ted declared he was through with man’s inventions, much preferring a bucking horse than the unpredictability of a “buzz wagon.”

To find out more about the happenings in Pendleton during 1912, be sure to attend the Petticoat Ball on April 12 on Facebook! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) and runs until 2 p.m. Guest authors, games, giveaways, and details about my latest Pendleton Petticoats book, Quinn, will be shared!

 

How am I? Same trailer, different park.

If you’ve read my books, you know I love pairing a cowboy with a city girl. My characters usually wonder how they can be attracted to someone who fails to hit even one item on their this-is-what-I’m-looking-for-in-a-potential-date list, and this creates great conflict. But another reason I love throwing cowboys and city women together is it creates great dialogue and can even increase sexual tension.

Here are some sayings that have great dialogue potential. I’ve tweaked some a little the way I would if I used them in dialogue. ?
• Woman, you’re as friendly as a fire ant.
• Darlin’, I’m so country I think a seven-course meal is a possum and a six pack. (I can see my hero saying this one with a wry grin.)
• If a trip around the world cost a dollar, I couldn’t get to the Oklahoma state line.
• You look like you were sent for and couldn’t go. (Can’t you see the sparks flying if my cowboy hero said this to a heroine?!)
• You’re so skinny you have to stand twice to make a shadow. (More sparks flying, I think as my heroine wonders if this is a compliment or a diss.)
• You look like the cheese fell off your cracker.
• Honey, you make a hornet look cuddly.
• Woman, you talk any faster and you’ll catch up to yesterday.
• You look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. Or, it’s twin, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on. (This one has potential for a tender moment, as the hero asks her what on earth happened. When she asks why he thinks something is wrong, he uses a soft husky voice and says, “Sweetheart, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on.” Of course, what he says shatters her control. She confides in him. He understands and consoles her. Bond forms, and there you go, sexual tension.)
• Woman, you could talk the legs off a chair.
• Are you two sandwiches short of a picnic?
• Don’t dig up more snakes than you can kill. (Can’t you imagine a city girl trying to understand what the hero means by this one and him trying to explain it?)
• Don’t write a check your ass can’t cash.
• He’s all hat, no cattle.
• You can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.
• Same trailer, different park. (In response to being asked how you’re doing.)
• Dang, if you aren’t double-backboned (I can see my hero saying this to a heroine when he’s impressed with her strength of will or character. Of course, she won’t quite get the compliment, and when he explains it, she’ll just melt all over his boots.)
• Woman, you’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water.

Not only can a western saying add color and realism to a story, it can add humor, reveal character or even create sexual tension. But best of all, it’s fun as all get out to write.

Now mosey on over to leave a comment about one of the sayings above or your own personal favorite and be entered for a chance to win the snack set and a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy featuring AJ, a Texas Aggie cowboy and New York City girl Grace Henry.

Updated: January 30, 2018 — 8:42 pm

They Should Be Cowboys

Ask any of my friends who really know me and they’ll tell you I like to watch TV. I find a lot of inspiration in good storytelling and, let’s be honest, physical inspiration for heroes. And though a lot of the actors aren’t cast in cowboy roles, I could easily see them with a cowboy hat and boots, a nicely worn set of Wranglers and sitting astride a horse as he rides the range. So I thought it would fun to share some actors I think would be good as cowboy heroes.

Because of photographers’ copyrights, I won’t be putting the pictures of the actors on here. But I’ll link their names to a picture so you can check them out and see if you agree. I’d also love to hear who you think would make a great casting for a cowboy hero. I’m always looking for inspiration to drive my creation of those sexy cowboy heroes in my books, and I’m sure our blog readers wouldn’t mind the visual treats as well. 🙂

My picks:

Matt Barr from Valor and Sleepy Hollow

Sam Heughan from Outlander

Matt Lanter from Timeless

Noah Mills from The Brave (He’s actually the inspiration for the hero in the book I’m currently working on for Tule.)

Idris Elba from the Thor movies

Oscar Issac from the new Star Wars movies

Jensen Ackles from Supernatural

Juan Diego Botto from Good Behavior

Eric Dane from The Last Ship

Now it’s your turn. Tell us who you’d like to see play a hunky cowboy hero. Let’s see how many awesome choices we can come up with today.

 

 

 

Updated: January 28, 2018 — 11:31 pm

Flavors of Fall!

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  Here at Wildflower Junction we’re celebrating all things Autumn this week. At first I had trouble figuring out what I would write about – after all, there are so many great things to love about this time of year – cooler temperatures (at least in theory!), yummy foods like soups, gumbos and chili, fall colors peeping out everywhere, high school football, and so much more.

But then I went to the mailbox where I found my latest tea catalog and BOOM, I had my topic. Because one of my favorite things about Autumn is the availability of some yummy seasonal teas.

Of course, to do this piece justice, I had to do some research to rediscover old favorites and find new blends to try. So let’s talk about some of those great flavors.

The first one everyone thinks of for Fall is pumpkin.  But did you know that in addition to the regular pumpkin spice tea Teavana makes one called Pumpkin Spice Brulee, Twinings makes a Pumpkin Spice Chai,  Stash makes a decaf version of Pumpkin Spice and Flying Leaf Tea Co. makes a blend called Smashing Pumpkins (what a fun name!)?

Another seasonal flavor favorite is apple. Again, there are intriguing blends beyond your normal Spiced Apple. Tea Forte offers Harvest Apple Spice and Swiss Apple, Republic of Tea offers Caramel Apple and Hot Apple Cider blends, Teavana has a flavor called Apple Pie a la Mode and Capital Teas offers one called Apple Strudel.

Then of course there is cranberry. The Republic of Tea offers both Cranberry Spice Hibiscus and Cranberry Blood Orange while Celestial Seasonings has both a Cranberry Vanilla and a Cranberry Apple blend,  Teavana makes a Pomegranate Cranberry herbal tea and Davids Tea offers one called Yes We Cran (another fun name!).

Then there are a number of Autumn teas with intriguing names such as Republic of Tea’s Sonoma Mulled Zin, Teavana’s Caramel Truffle, Davids Tea’s Maple Sugar, and Flying Leaf Tea Co. offers a flavor called The Nutty Butterscotch.

I don’t know about you, but I noted quite a few in those lists that I am REALLY eager to try.

So are you a fan of tea? If so, do you have a favorite flavor?  Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win your choice of any book in my backlist.

 

It’s Fall, y’all! You’re Invited to a Hoedown!

 

  An Autumn Hoedown All Next Week!

        September 25-29

No place is better than Wildflower Junction when Autumn falls upon the fillies.

HARVEST. PUNKINS. HOT APPLE CIDER, SCHOOLMARMS. BONFIRES.

Ahhh, it’s in the air!!

Join us next week for a fandango to celebrate the season!

As a special treat, Jodi Thomas will wind it up on Friday and talk about her new book!

 

Updated: September 24, 2017 — 9:21 am

Happy Labor Day!!!

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

By the time this post goes up it’ll be Labor Day and I certainly hope you all are able to take the opportunity to have a relaxing day with family and friends.

Around our house, Labor Day usually means outdoor cookouts. But for my family, instead of BBQs and picnics, we like to send the summer out with a seafood boil.  This year it’s going to be shrimp.

I love a good seafood boil.  In addition to the shrimp and appropriate seasonings, the pot this year will contain corn, potatoes, sausage, mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, garlic, lemons and limes- a veritable banquet!

Here’s a photo taken from a prior Labor Day feast – doesn’t it look yummy?

 

Of course, no feast would be complete without a great dessert.  So  today I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite summer treats. It’s a sort of trifle that my family calls a punch bowl cake.  It’s super easy to make and as a bonus, especially on these hot summer days, it’s no bake!

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made angel food cake
  • 1 large tub of whipped topping
  • 1 package of either vanilla or cheesecake flavored instant pudding (6 serving size)
  • Approx 1 lb berries of your choice (I prefer strawberries but I’ve made it with mixed berries as well)

Directions

  • Prepare pudding according to directions.
  • Mix together with whipped topping and set aside
  • Tear cake into bite-sized pieces
  • In a large bowl, layer ingredients as follows:
  • 1/3 each of angel food cake, berries and then cream mixture
  • Repeat twice more
  • If desired, garnish top with additional berries, nuts or grated chocolate
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve

So what about you? Do you have any special Labor Day traditions? Any favorite end of summer foods?  Share your answers and I’ll put you in the running for a copy of any book in my backlist.

Updated: September 5, 2017 — 2:11 pm

My Favorite Small Town Getaway

Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!

I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.

The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.

The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.

Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.

I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.

I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.

 

 

Summer Escapes

Being a California gal, the beach and ocean take top priority with me.  I thought you might like to know about some of my favorite spots:

Cambria-This little town is nestled among Monterey pines. My favorite place to watch the sunset is on a bench that sits atop a cliff overlooking Moonstone beach.  Once, while my husband and I were sitting there enjoying a glass of wine, a bagpiper appeared and played Amazing Grace.   For a moment, I thought I was at a funeral, but I know he meant well.

 Ventura—This seaside town is only an hour away from my house, so it’s a perfect place to spend a weekend or summer day.  August is county fair time.  If you can stand the heights, the Ferris wheel offers great views of the ocean.  If you’re into antiques, Ventura is the place to go.  I found a beautiful iron gate there that had been ripped out of an old house.  It now adorns my wine cellar.  This town also has great museums, bookstores, restaurants and wineries.   You can even see Erle Stanley Gardner’s law office where he wrote the drafts for his first Perry Mason novels.  Speaking of mysteries, Ventura is where I got the inspiration for my Undercover Ladies series.

Morro Bay-The scenery is beautiful and the weather nearly always perfect. There are shops and museums to explore and of course our favorite Art in the Park event which takes place every Memorial Day weekend. It’s also fun to watch the antics of sea lions and otters, but the real attraction is the dining. 

 For a change of pace, sometimes we head for the mountains.  Our favorites include:

 Mammoth—This is mainly a ski resort, but we enjoy going there in the summer in our RV and relaxing by the lake.  The mountain air is good for the soul, and fishing and hiking is great.  Before going, you might want to make sure your health insurance is up-to-date.  My husband once fell out of a boat and hit his head, my son fell off a bicycle and I had an unpleasant encounter with a bee hive.  In case you’re wondering, Mammoth also has a great ER.

Big Bear- We once rented a cabin on the lake for a week.  It had a large wooden enclosed porch that seemed like the perfect place for the two grandbabies to play.  Big mistake; We ended up having to pull hundreds of splinters out of their little legs and hands.  On a brighter note, Big Bear has miles of bicycle paths to explore and a great night life.  They tell me the rock climbing is out of this world, but I’m too chicken to try.  The village offers some great shopping and dining.  Just watch out for those wooden porches. 

Tell us about your favorite summer get-away.

 

 

There’s a new sheriff in town and she almost always gets her man!

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Updated: June 18, 2017 — 9:21 am

A Little Cowboy Humor

It’s hot, I’m tired and madly trying to finish a book.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some lighthearted fun and thought a little cowboy humor would do the trick.

A COWBOY AND HIS CELL PHONE

Permission for use granted by Nick at Science and Ink\http://www.lab-initio.com/

Any cowboy can carry a tune.

The trouble comes when he tries to unload it.

 

-John-Betong at Johns-Jokes.com

 

An onion can make people cry; but, there’s never been a vegetable

that can make people laugh.

 

Permission for use granted by Nick at Science and Ink\http://www.lab-initio.com/

 

When in doubt, let your horse do the thinkin’. 

 

Permission for use granted by Nick at Science and Ink\http://www.lab-initio.com/

 

Always take a good look at what you’re about to eat.
It’s not so important to know what it is, but it’s critical to know what it was.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What is your favorite way to stay cool?
 

There’s a new sheriff in town and she almost always gets her man!

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Updated: June 18, 2017 — 4:16 pm
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