Category: Oregon

Potatoes from the farm to your freezer

I spent my growing up years in an area where row crops were every bit as prevalent as wheat and hay fields. 
One of the most popular row crops (next to onions) happens to be potatoes. Some of our neighbors grew acres and acres of them. One year, as a fundraising project for our senior class, we went and picked up all the “cull” potatoes from their field and sold them for something like a $1 per bag by going door to door in our small town. That was not the most fun any 17-year-old ever had.

I also just happened to grow up in the same valley where one famous potato company started and continues today, known as Ore-Ida.

If you’ve ever stood in the freezer section at your grocery store and looked at the selection of frozen tater tots, French fries, or hash browns, you’ve probably seen Ore-Ida potatoes with their trademark red bag and distinctive logo.

Ore-Ida is  currently produced and distributed by the H.J. Heinz Company, now part of Kraft Heinz. The primary production facility for Ore-Ida is located in the community of Ontario, Oregon, that sits right on the border between Oregon and Idaho. The company once employed more than 1,000 people, but today has around 600 employees. 

Back in the mid-1930s, entrepreneurs and brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg began growing sweet corn in eastern Oregon. Their first company, Grigg Brothers, became one of the largest distributors of sweet corn in the United States. 

Then, in 1949, with financial backing from their brother-in-law Otis Williams, the brothers rented a frozen food plant located in Ontario, at the border with Idaho, and converted it into a potato-processing facility. The three men purchased the facility in the early 1950s. In 1952, Oregon Frozen Foods Company was founded. 

Initially, the company produced and sold frozen corn and French fries. In 1953, Tater Tots were invented and patented by Ore-Ida. The tots were made from seasoned slivers of potatoes left over from the French fry production. (Oddly enough, Tater Tots are the brand’s most popular product). 

The company went on to build a second plant in Burley, Idaho, where many of their potato fields were located. The company’s name became a syllabic abbreviation of the two states where they ran the companies and the original logo consisted of outlines of Oregon and Idaho with Ore-Ida superimposed in italicized letters. 

Ore-Ida was acquired by the H.J. Heinz Company in 1965. Ore-Ida’s headquarters were located in Boise, Idaho, until 1999 when a new frozen foods division was created at Heinz’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

So the next time you reach into the freeze for a bag of fries or tots, you’ll know a little history of the company of you bought the Ore-Ida brand. 

Of course, I have to share a recipe with you today. This one includes Tater Tots and is easy to whip together for a fast meal. 

Tater Tot Casserole

2 pounds of ground beef

1 package of Ore-Ida Tater Tots

1 cup shredded colby-jack cheese (or cheddar)

1 tsp. onion flakes (or grated fresh onion)

2 cans of cream of mushroom soup

1 teaspoon seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place tater tots into a 9 x 13 casserole pan (I lightly spray mine with non-stick spray first) and set in the oven while you brown the ground beef. I add the onion flakes, seasoning and salt and pepper to the ground beef. When the hamburger is browned, mix it with the cream of mushroom soup and spoon over the top of the tater tots. Layer on cheese and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soup is hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for a few more minutes until cheese is a melted layer of luscious gooey-ness. Remove from oven and serve. I like to sprinkle the top of my casserole with a bit of chopped fresh parsley. Captain Cavedweller likes his straight up “without any of that weird green stuff on there.”
Enjoy!

What is your favorite fast or easy dinner recipe using potatoes?

 

Stop in later to see if your name has been added to the list of semi-finalists! 

Only those who comment have a chance to win!

The Dynamite Kid

 

The past several weeks, I’ve been working on a new book in my Baker City Brides series which is set in the 1890s in Baker City, Oregon. 

The town got its start from gold mines in the area back in the 1860s. The gold played out, or so people thought, then enjoyed another boom around 1890. 

The story, titled Dumplings and Dynamite, takes place for the most part at a mining camp. 

Photo Credit: Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This is a photo of the E&E Mine out of Baker City. It appears much as I envision the mine where my story takes place. 

Photo Credit: Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

I’m fascinated with the mill buildings that sprung up against the hillsides at mines like this one – the Golden Gate Mine near what once was called Greenhorn City. 

It’s hard for me to envision what it was like working in a mine because I wouldn’t have lasted a day. Probably not even an hour. I don’t like dark, enclosed spaces. At all. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to get up day after day and spend hour after hour in the bowels of a mountain digging out some other man’s fortune. 

 

Photo Credit: Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

The image above shows mine workers from the Bonanza Mine (one of the most successful of its time) near Baker City.The men are wielding “single jacks,” four-pound hammers, and steel drills. For light, the miners had candles on a wire stuck in a crack in the wall.

In my story, the hero is working as a powder monkey (a new term I learned in my research), also known as the brave individuals who worked with the explosives at a mine. The powder monkeys, or powdermen, were in charge of rotating the explosives to ensure older explosives were used first, ordering explosives, transportation of explosives, and keeping up the area where the explosives were stored. And in my story, he also sets off the charges, although, in reality, this job was often left to the miners who were digging out the ore. 

It was while I was trying to dig up research on dynamite usage in the early 1890s that I happened across an interesting story. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s fun reading, anyway. The source is from Richard Dillon’s book Shanghaiing Days. New York: Coward, 1961. 

According to the story, a young man named George Banks had a job working on the portage railroad at Cascade Locks, Oregon. It was the mid-1890s and shanghaiing was a rampant sport at the docks in Portland. In fact, it was a known fact the port was one of the worst places in the world to be kidnapped around that time. 

One day, George (known as a confident, upright, rock-solid fellow) was in Portland picking up a load of freight and he missed his returning sailing on the riverboat. Stuck on the wharf with crates of merchandise for work, he didn’t want to have to wait for morning to leave. 

A few friendly fellows approached George and offered to help him out. They made a deal for George to pay them for transporting him and his crates, and the men soon returned with a boat. The men helped George load his crates and they cast off, heading the wrong direction. At first, George merely puzzled over what they were doing. Then one of the men explained to him he was a sailor now and they were taking him to their ship where he’d be stuck working for them as little more than a free laborer. 

George took exception to this plan. 

“You ain’t gonna shanghai me,” George informed his kidnappers, reaching into his pocket. “I’ll blow you to hell first.”

His hand came out full of blasting caps.

All those crates the men had loaded were full of dynamite and George had the nickname among his friends as the “Dynamite Kid.” 

Needless to say, the boat turned around and took George where he wanted to go. After he unloaded his cargo, he paid the men as he’d originally agreed to do, then went about his work. 

I think I would have liked to have met George. Talk about pluck and determination! 

Although I’m not quite ready to do a cover reveal of Dumplings and Dynamite, I will share a little excerpt with you today:

 

Seth gathered an armload of wood and carried it inside the cookshack where mouth-watering aromas filled the air.

Long tables and benches filled the room. Through a doorway, he could see a woman and the two younger boys he’d noticed earlier scurrying around the kitchen, scooping food into bowls and dishing it onto platters.

“Need some wood?” Seth asked as he walked through the doorway.

The woman glanced up at him in surprise, but quickly recovered. She waggled a gravy-coated spoon in the direction of the wood box then went back to scraping gravy into a large bowl.

“I’m Seth. Mr. Gilford just hired me,” he said after he dumped the wood he carried into the box by the stove. He stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep from snatching a golden flapjack off a platter one of the boys carried out to the table.

“I’m Mrs. Parrish, the cook,” she said, not meeting his gaze as she handed the gravy bowl to a boy then picked up two platters full of bacon.

“Allow me,” Seth said, taking the platters from her. The woman might have been twenty or fifty. From her stringy hair, rumpled dress, and bedraggled petticoat hanging an inch below her skirt hem, she looked rather unkempt, but she smelled clean and her eyes were bright.

In fact, they were an unusual shade somewhere between gray and green that made him think of the sagebrush that grew so prevalent to the south and east of Baker City. In spite of circles beneath her eyes and smudges of flour on her cheeks, her skin was smooth, without the wrinkles age brings, and dusted with a generous helping of freckles.

He glimpsed her hands. Although rough and red from hard work, they looked young, almost delicate.

Yet, the woman moved slightly humped over with the hint of a limp and when she smiled at him, he couldn’t miss the absence of her two front teeth. He stepped back and followed the boys out to the dining area, setting the platters on the table. Something about the woman bothered him and it had nothing to do with the lack of teeth. If he was a gambling man, he’d bet she was hiding something. He had a feeling Mrs. Parrish was not at all what she seemed.

 

Learn more about the Baker City Brides series on my website, or browse through my boards on Pinterest!

What about you? If you found yourself living at a mining camp in the late 1800s, what job would you have done? 

 

 

 

Grass Valley Cowboys

A few weeks ago, I was working on promotional plans for my books for the summer. As I browsed through my books, a little niggling thought kept popping up… one that said it was time for more book cover makeovers.

Every once in a while, I’ll give a book cover a new look. It’s fun and allows my brain to use some different creative skills. 

This time, the series I decided could use a new look is one of my favorites — the Grass Valley Cowboys. 

Set in the tiny Oregon town of Grass Valley, this series focuses on (as the title implies) the cowboys who live there. Specifically, cowboys from the Thompson and Morgan families.

I had such a good time writing these books and I do plan to write a few more before I bring the series to an end. The inspiration for the series came when I happened to drive through the area on the way to spend the weekend with my aunt and cousins. I just couldn’t help thinking what a fun setting Grass Valley would provide for a story.  Not only that, but one of my dear friends grew up in the area, and had stories to share about things that happened there.

The settlement of Grass Valley began with the establishment of a few stock ranches. Settlers began to arrive in the area and were soon plowing the cattle-sustaining grass to plant wheat fields.  Dr. Charles R. Rollins, a physician from New Hampshire, is credited with establishing Grass Valley when he arrived in the area with a small party of pioneers.  Dr. Rollins had an easy time choosing a name for the location since the rye grass grew thick and tall in the alkaline soil. Rollins built a large two-story hotel, which included a clinic from which he prescribed and sold medicine. 

The Grass Valley Cowboys series takes place in modern times, but as I wrote the stories, I often envisioned what life was like when the area was yet settled. When deer hid from hunters in the tall grass and those crossing the Oregon Trail pressed onward for the fir-dotted hills of the Willamette Valley. 

Here’s a little about the books and a look at the brand-spanking new covers!

The Cowboy’s Christmas Plan

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 1

Cadence Greer’s plans for a happy-ever-after are quickly derailed when her fiancé runs off with his secretary a week before their wedding. Homeless, jobless, and jilted, she escapes to Grass Valley, Oregon, where she takes a job as a housekeeper and cook to seven cowboys on a sprawling ranch.

Trey Thompson is a well-respected pillar of the community, running a successful ranch with his brother. All he wanted was someone to cook meals and keep the house clean. When he hires Cadence Greer for the job, he gets more than he ever planned on, including a sassy little redheaded orphan.

 

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 2

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?

 

The Cowboy’s Summer Love

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 3

After six years in the service and two tours of duty in the middle of a war zone, Travis Thompson eagerly returns home to Grass Valley, ready to resume his life on the Triple T Ranch with his two older brothers. Ever the wild-child, Travis doesn’t disappoint as he rolls from one adventure to another in his quest to keep his adrenaline pumping. He needs a release for the tension constantly building inside him, especially after he discovers the girl he’s loved his entire life just moved back to Grass Valley.

In love with Travis Thompson since she was old enough to notice boys, Tess Morgan can’t stay away from him no matter how hard she tries. Convinced Travis sees her only as his best friend’s sister, she wants him to realize she is the woman who could love him deeply and passionately.

 

The Cowboy’s Autumn Fall

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 4

Brice Morgan thought love at first sight was some ridiculous notion of school girls and old ladies who read too many romance novels. At least he does until he falls hard and fast for an intriguing and thoroughly perplexing woman at a friend’s wedding.

Bailey Bishop attends her cousin’s wedding with no intention of extending her brief visit to Oregon. Married to her career as a paleontologist, Bailey tries to ignore her intense attraction to her cousin’s best friend, Brice. Ready to return home to Denver, Bailey instead accepts the opportunity to explore a new dig site not far from the family’s ranch in Grass Valley. Can she keep her feelings for Brice from derailing her plans for the future?

 

The Cowboy’s New Heart

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 5

Former bull rider Hart Hammond spent twenty years building a business empire while successfully avoiding love. He buried his heart the same day he made his last bull ride and has vowed to never make the mistake of loving a woman again. Then he meets the beautiful mother of the fun-loving Thompson tribe.

Years after her husband died, Denni Thompson can’t bear to think of giving her heart to anyone else. With three newly married sons, a grandchild on the way, and a busy life, Denni doesn’t entertain any notions of romance until she encounters the handsome new owner of Grass Valley’s gas station.

 

The Cowboy’s Last Goodbye

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 6

With his siblings and friends entangled in the state of matrimony, Ben Morgan is more determined than ever to remain blissfully single. Despite his vehement refusal to commit to a relationship, he can’t help but envision a future with the sweet, charming woman who unknowingly captures his heart.

Harper Hayes is an expert at bad relationships. After vowing never to wed, the idea enters her mind with alarming frequency after she meets Ben Morgan. Although the handsome cowboy makes it clear he’s only interested in having fun, Harper’s dog and crazy uncle have other ideas.

 

You can find all the books in the series on Amazon .

Also, for a limited time, The Cowboy’s Summer Love is on sale for just 99 cents! 

If you were going to come up with a name for a book in this series, what would you choose? 

Matrimony Vine

I was flipping through an old book about the Oregon desert the other day when a photo caught my eye of a vine climbing up the side of an old cabin.

The caption beneath the photo said, “Homesteaders’ wives needed something green in the middle of the gray desert.” 

Of course the photo was black and white, but the description went on to state that most women planted a matrimony vine. 

Matrimony vine? 

Although I loved the name, I’d never heard of it. 

A quick search revealed matrimony vine is also known as Chinese Wolfberry, Chinese Boxthorn, Himalayan Goji, Tibetan Goji. The deciduous shrub has roots that go back to Japan, Korea, and China. 

As the book I was reading stated, homesteaders who were trying to make a living in the sagebrush-dotted desert lands longed for a spot of color, something that would grow with minimal attention and water.  Many of them found what they were searching for with the matrimony vine. 

I could so easily picture a hardworking farm wife dumping her dishwater on the plant, eager to keep it green and growing in the sometimes harsh desert climate, especially those found in the dry interior of California, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon. 

Legends state a newlywed couple would plant the vine at their homestead to bless their marriage.

Matrimony vine was also a “pass along” plant that could be easily dug up and shared with others. Can’t you just see a mother digging up a bit of her beloved plant to share with her daughter when she wed?  The “lifted and gifted” plants seemed to thrive amid the desert climate.

Another way the plants came to America where with Chinese workers. The berries, popularly known as Goji, have been used for centuries by the Chinese in teas, as dried condiments, additions to stews and soups, as well as for medicinal purposes.

Waves of Chinese immigrants began arriving in San Francisco in the 1850s, and with these immigrants came components of their native culture, including the Goji berry. Tens of thousands of immigrants arrived, escaping poverty and civil war in China, initially bound for the gold fields of California. As they journeyed throughout the west for work, the Goji berry traveled along with them.

Today, stands of matrimony vine mark where homesteads long ago lost to time, fire, or other causes, once stood. The shrubs can also be found growing near old Chinese cemeteries.

Sadly, the plants have become host to the potato psyllid which is related to aphids and secretes a toxic saliva during feeding that causes great harm to potato plants. 

During my growing up years on our farm, we had one of these plants growing out behind our milk barn near the shed where we bottle fed calves. I had no idea what it was, but each spring, it burst forth with beautiful purple blossoms and each autumn, bright red berries begged to be picked. My mother told me it was poisonous and to leave it alone. Now I’m kind of wishing I’d plucked a few of those berries anyway. 

And there you have it, how matrimony vine came to be an invasive plant in the Pacific Northwest!

If you close your eyes and envision a homesteader dutifully keeping alive a plant in the midst of dirt and sagebrush, what do you picture?  

Landscape Architecture from the Past

Recently, I was eyeball deep in research for an upcoming historical release. 

In the story, set in 1913, the heroine is a nanny and the hero is a landscape architect. 

The hero, Flynn, runs a landscaping business with his sister. Not only does he design elaborate (or simple) gardens and yards, he also has a huge greenhouse where he develops and experiments with plants. 

When I started working on Flynn’s character and his profession, I did some research into landscape architects and greenhouses.

The first recorded greenhouses were in Rome around 30 AD. Legend states that the physicians of Emperor Tiberius told him he needed, for health purposes, to eat a cucumber every day. Supposedly, his scientists and engineers brainstormed how to grow plants year round and the greenhouse came to be.

Greenhouses traveled to America in the 1700s. They grew in popularity in England in the mid-1800s when glass began to be widely manufactured. The inspiration for Flynn’s greenhouse comes from the spectacular Temperate House at Kew Gardens in London. My gracious, I’ve added this impressive garden to my bucket list of places I hope to someday see.

Temperate House is the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse and recently reopened after an extensive renovation process. Some of the world’s rarest and most threatened species of plants are among the 1,500 species of plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands included on display.

Of course, Flynn’s greenhouse isn’t as magnificent as this or nearly as large, but it did give me some wonderful ideas of what his greenhouse might look like. And he has an interesting collection of plants and flowers he’s collected from his travels around the world.

When I first considered Flynn’s career, the term landscape architect seems so modern. But I discovered the roots of the profession go back to 1828 when Gilbert Laing Meason, a Scotsman, wrote a book offering insights into the art of relating architecture to landscape. William Andrews Nesfield was reportedly the first person hired as a “landscape architect. He designed garden areas for Buckingham Palace in London and Castle Howard in Yorkshire. In 1863, Fredrick Law Olmstead used the term landscape architecture for designing public open space (parks). Olmstead is known as the father of American Landscape Architecture. I like to think his work helped inspire my character Flynn.

In the story, Evie (releasing May 23), Flynn is hired to design and install an elaborate garden at the home of a well-to-do couple with three young children. Flynn finds himself falling for the nanny and scheming ways to spend time with the effervescent woman. 

Will love bloom between a spunky nanny and a distracted landscaper?

Unconventional nanny Evie Caswell views it as her duty to bring fun and laughter to the residence of her strict, aloof employers. Full of life and spirit, she is determined to teach the couple’s children how to be young and carefree. With hardly a minute to herself, she long ago surrendered her dreams of having her own home and a family. Then her employer hires Flynn Elliott, a landscape architect, to turn the yard into a spectacular garden. Enchanted with the intriguing man, Evie realizes after meeting Flynn nothing in her life will ever be the same.

Renowned for his landscape designs and ability to make anything grow, Flynn Elliott is a bit of an enigma. He spouts romantic poetry to the plants in his greenhouse and stealthily avoids social interactions, yet can charm birds right out of the trees when the need arises. While his sister handles the finer details of their business, he often loses himself in his work, forgetting the outside world exists. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman in a moonlit garden leaves him seeking opportunities to discover more about the effervescent Evie and the joy she radiates to those around her.

Will the two of them be able to set aside their doubts and fears to embrace a happily ever after?

Brimming with lighthearted moments, snippets of history, and the hope of true love, Evie is a sweet historical romance sure to warm your heart. 

Available May 23, you can pre-order your copy today! 

If you could travel back to 1913, what career would you choose?

Go-Carts and Baby Carriages

Recently, I was diving deep into research for a story set in 1913. 

Among the resource books piled on my desk was my trusty reproduction copy of a 1908 Sears, Roebuck & Co Catalog. I love all the little everyday details I can unearth in its many pages! 

I was searching for baby gear that day. Partly because it tied into the story I was writing (the heroine is a nanny to three little ones), and party because I’ve had baby on the brain for the last few months as we awaited the arrival of my niece’s first baby. 

In particular, I was interested in a description of baby carriages.

 

I wanted to see images of what they would have looked like during that time period.

Did they have any unique features or selling points? What would make a young mother decide to purchase this option or that one?

I had grand visions of ornate carriages with flowery details. 

What I didn’t anticipate was to be so surprised by the product description. 

Notice anything strange in the description?

They called them Go-Carts! 

I had no idea they’d ever been labeled as go-carts. 

On the following page they had advertisements for baby carriages. 

I studied both pages for a while, reading the descriptions, trying to figure out what the difference could be.

At first I thought that perhaps a carriage meant the baby could rest flat and a go-cart meant they were sitting upright. But the go-carts advertise being able to recline.

Then it a light bulb went off. I think the difference is that go-carts can be moved into different positions and many of them could be folded flat (how handy!) like a stroller. 
I tried to dig up some research to either confirm my idea or dash it, but I have yet to find anything that talks about go-carts from Victorian or Edwardian days. 

I did find an interesting history of baby carriages, though. 
William Kent, a landscape architect, designed the first carriage in 1733. It was created for the children of the Duke of Devonshire. Kent constructed a shell-shaped  basket on wheels the children could sit in and be pulled by a goat or pony. 

Wealthy families were Kent’s primary customers. 

The 19th century was a time when parks and recreational spaces were enjoyed as family strolls became popular. An economical way to take babies along needed to be developed. 

Benjamin Potter Crandall manufactured a new design in the early 1800s. He claimed his baby carriages were the first manufactured in the US, although it’s been argued

 the F.A. Whitney Carriage Company may hold the title. At any rate, Crandall developed a style that could could be pushed rather than pulled. His design was largely rejected. His son son, Jesse, eventually took over the business and made some additions, including a brake and added a model that folded as well as parasols and accessories. Reportedly, Queen Victoria purchased three of them which made his designs a must-have for mothers everywhere. 

Carriages were built of wood or wicker and held together with expensive brass joints. Often, they turned into ornamented works of arts. 

Models were named after royalty, like Princess and Duchess.

Charles Burton created the first “pram” or perambulator. It had a three-wheel push design and looked a little like an arm chair on big spoke wheels. Customers found it unwieldy and complained about the design, but Burton was determined to succeed. He took his design to England where he found popularity once the royals began using it. In the UK, the word pram is used to describe a carriage, because of the popularity of the perambulator.

In 1889, William H. Richardson patented the idea of the first reversible carriage. The bassinet was designed to face out or in toward the parent. Until that point, the axis didn’t allow each wheel to move separately, but Richard’s design increased maneuverability. 

Before long, go-carts were being advertised that could fold flat, recline and more. 

As the new century advanced, so did improvements with baby carriages and strollers until we reached today’s models, filled with accessories and safety features. 

If you’d like to find out more about the story that necessitated this research, look for Evie, coming May 23! It’s available now for pre-order on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y4gnadrk 

Will love bloom between a spunky nanny and a distracted landscaper?

Unconventional nanny Evie Caswell views it as her duty to bring fun and laughter to the residence of her strict, aloof employers. Full of life and spirit, she is determined to teach the couple’s children how to be young and carefree. With hardly a minute to herself, she long ago surrendered her dreams of having her own home and a family. Then her employer hires Flynn Elliott, a landscape architect, to turn the yard into a spectacular garden. Enchanted with the intriguing man, Evie realizes after meeting Flynn nothing in her life will ever be the same.

Renowned for his landscape designs and ability to make anything grow, Flynn Elliott is a bit of an enigma. He spouts romantic poetry to the plants in his greenhouse and stealthily avoids social interactions, yet can charm birds right out of the trees when the need arises. While his sister handles the finer details of their business, he often loses himself in his work, forgetting the outside world exists. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman in a moonlit garden leaves him seeking opportunities to discover more about the effervescent Evie and the joy she radiates to those around her.

Will the two of them be able to set aside their doubts and fears to embrace a happily ever after?

Brimming with lighthearted moments, snippets of history, and the hope of true love, Evie is a sweet historical romance sure to warm your heart. 

~*~

Oh, and if you’re wondering, my niece and her sweet husband welcomed a bouncing baby boy April 2! I was there for his arrival, but can’t wait to return for a visit and hold Baby T again! 

~*~

If any of you know any history about the difference in go-carts and baby carriages, I’d love to learn more.

In the meantime, feel free to share your favorite “baby” item. What makes your heart pitter-patter and think of babies when you see it? A blanket? An adorable pair of booties? Sweet little onesies?

 

Where Bustles and Spurs Meet

The thought of bustles and spurs and how at odds the two things can be just makes me smile.

I love (LOVE) writing about cowboys and anytime I can work in the jingling of spurs, even better! 

I also love writing about unlikely couples. You know the type… it might be city versus country or uptight versus laid-back. 

One book in particular, Crumpets and Cowpies, was such fun for me to write because the couple was about as opposite as they could be. She was an English Lady. He was a rough rancher from Eastern Oregon. How in the world could these two find common ground let alone fall in love? 

Well, that’s part of the joy of writing for me. 

In this story, Lady Jemma despises the rough cowboy who’s shown up on her doorstep. She’s as proper as they come and refuses to put up with what she views as his insufferable ideas and overbearing disposition. 

Thane Jordan is called to England to settle his brother’s estate only to discover he’s inherited much more than he expected. To claim his inheritance, he has to put up with the fussy, tightly-laced Lady Jemma. 

Here’s a fun little scene that illustrates how well the two of them get along:

“There’s one more thing we need to discuss.” Thane smirked in the familiar way that both aggravated and excited her as she looked at him again.

“What might that be?”

“This…” Thane reached behind her, grabbing her bustle and giving it a gentle tug. She sucked in a gulp of air at his outlandish behavior. “Has got to go.”

At her abhorrent glare, he let go of the bustle and took a step back, although his grin broadened. “You can’t work on a ranch with that thing flopping around behind you. You can dress however you like when we go into town, but for life on the ranch, you need to put it away. While I’m on that subject, you can’t go around with your corset laced so tight it makes you faint.”

She glared at him. “I did not faint.”

“You came darn close and I won’t have you putting your health in danger just to make an already tiny waist smaller. You can wear it, if you insist, just don’t lace it so tight. Since you’re going to be getting new clothes, make sure you get them to fit with the corset loosened.”

Jemma trembled with fury as she stood in front of him, about to combust with anger. She couldn’t believe he would dare converse about such personal, sensitive topics as her bustle and corset.  “You, sir, are a…”

“Save it, Jem. Unless you can invent some new words to call me, I’ve heard it before.”

Thane gave her bustle another tug as he walked by, returning outside to where he’d been hammering horseshoes at the forge.

You can find Crumpets and Cowpies along with the other Baker City Brides stories on Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/yxer7bca

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of the prelude to the Baker City Brides series along with the first three books, just post your answer to this question: 

If you were Lady Jemma, what would you do?

Set aside your bustle or continue to wear it?

Cavedwellers and Love

With Valentine’s Day almost here, my thoughts are tripping around romance and love even more than usual. 

In fact, Valentine’s Day always takes me back to the early days when Captain Cavedweller and I had just started dating. We met the day after Christmas (on a blind date), saw each other New Year’s Eve, then he went back to college nine hours away and I assumed that was all she wrote.

About two weeks later, he called to let me know he’d transferred schools and was back in town. After that, I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t see each other right up to the day we married. 

Under all that cavedweller exterior, he really is a romantic at heart (just don’t let him know I shared that little secret). 

That very first Valentine’s Day, he brought me gifts every day for a week. They weren’t expensive, elaborate gifts, just little tokens of affection that made this hopeless romantic’s heart melt and then melt again. 

Fast forward several years to a point where we were both so busy with life, we’d kind of forgotten about what it felt like when we fell in love. The “spark” had been replaced with getting through one day and then another. 

Unwilling to fully surrender what had once been an amazing romance to the mundane of everyday life, I decided we’d spend a year going on a weekly date, just like we did when we first met. And since this was an experiment, I thought writing our experiences in a journal might be fun.
You can read about all our dates and my feelings of each one (even when they were getting a little routine) in Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. And it’s free right now on Kindle! 

A marriage that lost its spark.
A secret journal.
And a woman determined to light a fire under an introverted cavedweller.

Share the adventure of one couple’s efforts at reigniting their relationship in this G-rated journey through fifty dates.

Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, USA Today Bestselling author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their marriage.
This journal provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.

And while I’m on the topic of cavedwellers and love, I have to share a little about another book with cavedweller in the title. 

Captain Cavedweller and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in December. Way last spring, I started thinking of something unique and special I could give him as a gift. I finally decided it would be fun to write a book inspired by him. Then I landed on the idea of making the book about a time-traveling cavedweller. 

Oh, my gracious! The book was such fun to write! There’s the handsome cavedweller, a ranch with cowboys, and so much more!

Rob Foote, the amazing illustrator I hired to illustrate my children’s book and the covers of The Friendly Beasts of Faraday, took my whackadoodle ideas along with a wedding photo, and turned them into this fantastic cover.

 

I was so nervous when I handed CC a wrapped copy of the book on our anniversary. Would he love it? Hate it? Would he get that it was written with a heart full of love? 

He opened it and started laughing. And laughing. And he totally got that whole love part of it, too.

 

Can true love endure beyond the constraints of time?

Archaeologist Hannah Clayton has the unique talent of clearly imagining the past as she unearths artifacts in the present. When she stumbles across a cave with a wall of hidden petroglyphs, she’s giddy with excitement. At least until a man dressed like a caveman appears out of nowhere and scares her witless.

Inexplicably drawn to the cavedweller who calls himself Thor, Hannah has to decide if he’s involved in an elaborate hoax or if he’s a walking miracle. Thor is unlike any man she’s ever encountered. From the moment they meet, she knows nothing will ever be the same.

He acts as though he adores her, makes her laugh, and fills her world with more joy than her heart can hold. But are the bonds they share strong enough to keep Thor beside her and prevent his return to the past?

Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart is available on Amazon in digital and paperback formats.

To enter for a chance to win a digital copy of Capturing the Cavedweller’s Heart, just answer this question:

Would you rather receive candy, flowers, dinner out, or jewelry from your sweetheart?

Wishing you all a beautiful, love-filled Valentine’s Day!

Holiday Fever with a New Historical Release Today!

Are you enjoying our week of Holiday Fever? 

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:  http://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.

http://tinyurl.com/y8pldruv

 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!) 

http://amzn.com/B00GU2BYBQ

Happy Holidays from my heart to yours! 

Romance and Banter are Brewing

Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.

We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.

This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!

CIR meme with covers

The stories begin releasing November 1.

Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.

 Sleigh Bells Ring Meme

 Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It  releases Nov. 1.

You’re never too old to fall in love . . .

Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?

Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.

Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.

When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?

As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess  while he recuperates from knee surgery. 

She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her,  but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…

 

“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.

Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”

Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”

“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”

He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”

Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”

“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.

“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”

“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”

“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”

“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”

Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”

 Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”

A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”

“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”

“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”

Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”

 

Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!

A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love. 

Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.

A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?

A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.

Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.

pre-order SBR

 

If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?