Hi! Linda Broday and Winnie Griggs here. We’re very happy to kick off this 10 year Anniversary celebration for Petticoats and Pistols! It’s so exciting to reach this milestone.
Cowboys on the American Frontier loved to sing, no two ways about it. They sang to the cows, to the moon, to their fair ladies. Cowboys today still sing–probably more than they ever did. And others love to sing ABOUT cowboys. So, in honor of our tenth anniversary, we thought we’d share with you some of our favorites, both old and new.
So we put our heads together and came up with the list below. And if you have a yearning to listen to any of them, turn up your volume and click on the name.
Hi! Winnie Griggs here. Three weeks ago we had one of those milestone events happen in our family – my youngest daughter got married. Although there were the requisite number of bumps in the road as far as executing ‘the plan’ for the wedding, the ceremony itself was absolutely beautiful. As the proud mother of the bride, I thought I’d share a few pictures from the big day with you.
These first two are before-and-after shots of the bridesmaids
Here’s a shot of me and my husband with the bride. Remember me mentioning there were a few bumps in the road? You can see the evidence of one of those ‘bumps’ in this shot. Just before the wedding, I had an allergic reaction to either my make-up or hair spray or both. As a result, my right eye was swollen almost shut for the whole ceremony and reception. Needless to say, I tried to duck out of as many photos as possible!
Here is a shot of all four of my children just before the ceremony started.
The next two are of my husband escorting the bride down the aisle. I especially like the second shot – the two bridesmaids visible over my husband’s shoulder are our other two daughters and to the right of the bride are me and my mother.
And here’s the happy couple!
Here’s one last shot to show you the cake
I hope you enjoyed this little peak into what was a very special day for our family.
And to celebrate the release this month of Second Chance Hero, the sixth book in my Texas Grooms series, I will be giving a copy to one person who leaves a comment on this post today.
SECOND CHANCE HERO
Winning the Widow’s Heart
To help his dying sister, Nate Cooper once broke the law and paid a heavy price for his actions. Now the ex-con turned saddler hopes for a quiet life and new beginning in Turnabout, Texas. Being declared a hero for saving a child’s life, however, leaves Nate feeling like a fraud.
Since the violent death of her husband, single mom Verity Leggett has attempted to lead a safe life, avoiding danger and excitement at all costs. And her daughter’s handsome rescuer Mr. Cooper seems like a perfectly responsible man, one she can finally rely on.
When his secrets come to light, however, will Verity be able to get over his past and see Nate for the caring man he’s become?
My choice for retro week is a post I wrote back in April 2012. Since both of my Archer brother books are set in the Piney Woods of Texas, I thought it would be fun to look back at the history of Texas’s lumber industry.
What was the leading industry in Texas at the turn of the 20th century?
Oil? – No, that came later.
The answer: Lumber.
Lumber? Are you kidding? I live in Texas. There are no trees. Oh, we’ve got some scrubby little mesquite and an occasional oak, but nothing that this California native would call a tree. So how in the world did the lumber industry out-perform cattle and cotton, two Texas staples?
A virgin stand of longleaf pine in the East Texas Piney Woods region, 1908.
Well, as anyone who has ever driven across this great state can tell you, Texas is a big place. Yes we have desert regions and prairie and grassland and hill country, but over in the southeast is a lovely section called the Piney Woods. And as the railroad worked it’s way west in the 1870’s and 1880’s, lumber men from Pennsylvania like Henry Lutcher and G. Bedell Moore saw the virgin forests of east Texas as a gold mine. Local boys like John Henry Kirby got in on the action, too, buying up and consolidating individual sawmills into complete lumber manufacturing plants. Kirby rose to success so quickly, he became known as the “Prince of the Pines,” having become the largest lumber manufacturer in the state by combining 14 sawmills into the Kirby Lumber Company in 1901.
Not only did the railroad boom make travel to the Texas woods easier, it was also one of the biggest sources of demand for timber. Railroads needed lumber to construct rail cars, stations, fences, and cross ties in addition to the massive amounts of wood they burned for fuel. Each year railroads needed some 73 million ties for the construction of new rail lines and the maintenance of old ones, estimated by the magazine Scientific American in 1890. From the 1870s to 1900, railroads used as much as a fourth of national timber production.
This combination of supply and demand fueled a “bonanza era” for the Texas lumber industry that lasted 50 years, from 1880 until the Great Depression. During this time, Texas became the third largest lumber-producing state in the nation.
Northern investors swooped in to buy up land, sometimes even taking advantage of “use and possession laws” to seize property from families who had owned it for generations. Corruption abounded as logging companies controlled their workers, paying them only in vouchers for the company store despite the incredibly hazardous working conditions. These “cut and get out” operations left acres of land decimated.
Today if you travel through east Texas, you can still see the pine forests, however the trees are younger and more slender compared to the giants that grew there back in the 1880s. Maybe in another 100 years, we’ll find a return of the true Piney Woods of Texas.
Now for the big treat…
Winnie Griggs is giving away a copy of her brand new release, The Bride Next Door, along with a sparkly “I Love To Read” pin. What could be better than a free book and a little book-lover’s bling?
To be entered to win, leave a comment about what you most like about forests.
When Harlequin does a continuity series, a group of editors come up with a concept and invite the authors they want to participate. The authors are given what is termed ‘the bible,’ a two or three page synopsis of each story and a brief sketch of each character. An overall concept is included, explaining how the threads connect the stories.
After that, it’s up to the authors to put their heads together and collectively figure out how they’re going to make this idea work—and how they will create their individual stories to keep the plots logical and the stories exciting enough to carry them through however many pages.
I’ve participated in several Montana Mavericks continuities, both historical and contemporary, as well as a contemporary continuity about a fertility clinic. One of the most critical parts of this whole process is the brainstorming and chemistry between the participating authors. A good group makes all the difference, so I was delighted after Love Inspired Historical asked me to write the first book in the Irish Brides trilogy I learned Renee Ryan and Winnie Griggs were the other two authors.
I’m fortunate that Winnie is my sister Filly here at Wildflower Junction and Renee is a member of my RWA chapter, so the three of us already knew each other. Working with them was a joy, and I can only hope they feel the same way about my participation. We plotted and shared and wrangled plot points until each of us had a great story to write.
The premise and setting set me back for only a few minutes. Three orphaned Irish sisters leave their homeland and travel to America in hopes of finding a man they discover loved their mother. They need a place to live as well as a new start. I’d only ever written American-set stories and only a couple set as early as 1850. As soon as I began my research I was hooked. The history of these sisters came to life for me, and I had the privilege of setting up each character—with Renee and Winnie’s guidance of course.
I prepared myself for the narrative and dialogue by watching every Irish movie I could fit into my schedule. Quite a hardship I assure you. My favorite is always Far and Away, but there are other great ones.
I enjoyed populating the sailing vessel, the Annie McGee with colorful sojourners and creating conflicts for my character, Maeve Murphy. I slipped in one cowboy, who is traveling back home–couldn’t resist. The tale of The Wedding Journey unfolds onboard the ship, as Maeve is given a position as the physician’s assistant, and their trip is underway. Renee and Winnie have written the stories of Bridget and Nora, Maeve’s older sisters, whose tales begin once the ship docks in Boston Harbor.
Once my story was finished, Harlequin asked me to write a free online serial for their website, and gave me free license to come up with a prequel to the Irish Brides. Again I dove into research for something to snag my interest and found stories of the poor starving Irish being sent to penitentiaries for stealing food or not paying their landowners. The story sprang to life from there.
In 1850 Ireland, Darcy Keegan secretly plans to escape the drudgery of the prison where her father is warden to start a life elsewhere. Her plans are thwarted by a young boy who’s been imprisoned and whom she can’t bring herself to leave until she knows he will be safe.
Vaughn Donnelly has recently returned to Castleville to add a wing to the penitentiary, and is captivated by the young lass he observes in the prison yard. His job prevents him from staying, so love and marriage are out of the question–or are they? When he intervenes on behalf of a lad being mistreated, he wins the admiration of the Irish lass he admires.
Their shared concern for the laddie quickly turns into something more–read Donnelly’s Promise FREE on the Harlequin website: CLICK HERE
By the time I finished with these two stories I thought and dreamed everything with an Irish accent! I had so much fun with these characters and their tales of love that I can’t wait for readers to discover them.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I love browsing thrift stores for old books. I came across one the other day that just called out to me – Sumptuous Dining In Gaslight San Francisco 1875-1915. Its sub-title is ‘Lost Recipes, Culinary Secrets, Flambouyant People, and Fabled Saloons and Restaurants from a Golden Era’ – how’s that for intriguing. The inside jacket reads, in part “From the bawdy Barbary Coast to imperious Nob Hill, San Francisco has always projected a vitality and playfully corrupt character that are irresistible to all. And nowhere is this style more gloriously reflected than in the city’s fabled cuisine.”
There are a multitude of wonderful tidbits in this book about the people, eating establishments and social mores of the time. But what I thought I’d share with you today are just a few of the recipes, along with the snippets of information that went along with them, that are contained within the pages of the book. Naturally, I focused on the desserts. 🙂
According to the author some of the original recipes have been slightly modified to take current cooking methods into account. So let’s take a look at a few of these recipes and their stories:
Charles Schmidt was the chef at the Old Poodle Dog restaurant (don’t you just love that name?). He shared one of his most elegant dessert recipes with the folks at Sperry Products to advance the sales of their flour and so the recipe has been preserved to this day.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
Brandy, to cook’s touch
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs, separated
1 ounce glace fruit, chopped into small pieces
½ ounce semi-sweet chocolate, grated
Preheat oven to 350F. Rub a tablespoon of the butter inside a medium sized soufflé mold and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of sugar. Crumble the macaroons into a little Brandy, and let them soak for several minutes. Boil half the milk with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Dissolve the flour in the remaining cold milk, add this to the boiled milk and cook it for 2 minutes. Remove the milk from the heat to cool before adding the egg yolks, thoroughly beaten. Bring the mixture to a slight boil, then remove it from the heat. Beat the whites of the eggs and the remaining teaspoonful of sugar until stiff peaks form, and fold them into the warm soufflé mixture. Then, in quick steps, pour half of it into the mold and top it with the fruit pieces, crumbled macaroons and grated chocolate. Pour in the rest of the soufflé mixture and slide it into the preheated oven. Bake the soufflé for 25 minutes and serve it at once.
Delmonico’s. one of the five great restaurants of San Francisco of this era, burned down in the Great Fire of 1906. The following recipe, which is popular to this day, was developed in remembrance of this disaster.
1 pint heavy cream
3 teaspoons white rum, plus additional for flambéing
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup finely grated almonds
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup saltine crackers
In a small saucepan, scald the heavy cream. Add the rum, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Dissolve ingredients in the milk. Simmer long enough to remove the starchy taste, then add the egg yolks and transfer the cream to the top of a double boiler. Over boiling water, cook it, stirring constantly, until it is thick. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the cream into a flat dish to a depth of about ¾ inch. When the cream is cool and firm, turn over the dish and slide the cream out on a flat board. Cut the cream into oblongs and roll in the finely grated almonds. Then dip each oblong in the beaten whole egg and roll it gently in cracker crumbs. Chill the cream. When it is firm, fry the oblongs in oil heated to 400 degrees F just long enough to turn the almonds golden. Pour additional white rum over the fried cream, carefully set it afire and serve the dessert flaming.
After the Gold Rush, an increasing number of no-nonsense Yankee women arrived in San Francisco, ready to set up housekeeping with their own brand of strict traditions and overall thriftiness. The following recipe was taken from an 1872 collection and printed in its original form
CANDIED ROSE LEAVES
Select the desired quantity of perfect rose leaves, spread them on an inverted sieve and let them stand in the air until slightly dried but not crisp. Make a syrup form a half-pound of granulated sugar and a half-pint of water, and boil the mixture until it spins a thread, then lift the leaves in and out of the hot syrup using a fine wire sieve. Then let the leaves stand for several hours on a slightly oiled surface. If the rose leaves then look preserved and clean they will not require a second dipping. Then melt a cup of fondant (basic vanilla icing) and add 2 drops of essence of rose and 2 drops of cochineal (herbal rose food coloring) to the melted icing. Dip the rose leaves into the mixture, one at a time. Dust with fine confectioner’s or powdered sugar and place on oiled or waxed paper to harden. Then pick daintily and enjoy as you would candy drops!
There are many more recipes and stories just like these. If you enjoyed reading them I’ll be glad to share others with you from time to time.
Hmmm – it seems that most of my posts open this way.I hope you all don’t mind that I use my research efforts as fodder for this blog.Anyway, to continue, I wanted to insert an ‘armadillo incident’ in my current work in progress, which is set in northeast Texas in 1894.Today armadillos can be found throughout much of the state (the exception being the Trans-Pecos region).But what kind of range did they have in 1894?.So I started digging around for information, and along the way I discovered some interesting facts about the strange looking critters and their migration into the US.
First off, I assume most of you know what an armadillo looks like (see the pictures included here if you don’t) but for those of you who have never actually encountered a real life armadillo face-to-face, here are some statistics:The common name for the armadillo found in the United States is the Nine-banded Armadillo.The adult animal is about the size of a terrier, its upper body is encased in a bony carapace with large shields on its shoulders and rump, with nine bands in between (thus the name).Average size is 2.5 feet in length and about 13.5 lbs in weight.They have 30-32 peg-like teeth and strong claws that aid in their burrowing.
What my research uncovered was that the armadillo didn’t make an appearance in the US until after 1850.After that date, however, the armadillo incursion took place with amazing rapidity.In fact, the magnitude of their annual range expansion is almost ten times faster than the average rate expected for mammals.
Learning this tidbit, I immediately began to wonder what changed at about the 1850 mark.Digging deeper I discovered that there were three major roadblocks that initially held the armadillos back.
The first of these was the Rio Grande River.Even though armadillos are good swimmers, the Rio Grande is a formidable waterway and very few armadillos would attempt such a crossing, and few of those who did survived the conditions on the other side. Which leads to the second factor, which was
Predators.Not only would thewolves and panthers of Northern Mexico and South Texas have kept the population at bay, but man hunted them as well since armadillos were highly prized for their meat. (Still are – hubby informs me that he has eaten armadillo and found it quite tasty).
And lastly there was the matter of habitat.While armadillos can and do survive in a number of different settings and environments, their dwelling of preference is brushy or forested terrain.Prior to 1850, south Texas experienced annual fires (both natural and man made) that left the area covered in large part by prairie grass.
All of these factors changed when American settlers began colonizing Texas in the later half of the nineteenth century. Armadillos were able to take advantage of the increase in human traffic across the Rio Grande, to find opportunities for safer travel themselves.In fact, it’s likely that many were deliberately brought across as a potential food source.And the presence of humans also served to decrease the population of the natural predators such as the above mentioned wolves and panthers.And the halting of the yearly burn-offs allowed mesquite brush to gain a foothold in the open grasslands, providing a more armadillo-friendly habitat.The subsequent development of this territory for pasture and crop use gave the armadillo population an additional leg up as it made the land an even more suitable environment for their habitation.
So that explains how they came to immigrate to this country.But what factors played into their rapid expansion once they made it to the US?By nature, armadillos normally don’t stray far from the area of their birth – unless the population is high.It seems armadillos have a high reproductive rate, with females regularly producing their young in sets of identical quadruplets.As favorable conditions allowed their numbers to increase, they began to range farther from home.And with life spans up to twenty years, it only took a small number of the animals to establish stable populations in new territories.
Of course, man helped speed things up along the way.Armadillos managed to stow away on railcars that were used to transport of cattle from Texas to other states.They were also carried to other locations as curiosities and then later escaped or were released in the wild.For example, the Florida population had its genesis in 1924 when armadillos were set loose from a small zoo during a storm, and their foothold was further strengthened when several more escaped from a traveling circus in 1936.
Another interesting fact I learned about armadillos is how they cross a body of water .Not surprisingly, because of their heavy shell, they tend to sink.When crossing a very narrow body of water, like a ditch or small stream, the armadillo will simply walk across the bottom underwater – in fact it can hold its breath for up to six minutes.When faced with a wider body of water, however, the armadillo has the ability to ingest air, enough, in fact, to inflate its stomach and intestines to twice their normal size.This increases the animal’s buoyancy, allowing it to swim across.Once it reaches land again, it will usually take several hours for the animal to release all of this extra air from its body. The mechanism armadillos employ to accomplish this is still something of a mystery to scientists, but it appears to be a voluntary rather than autonomic response.
Oh, and as for my story, I did discover that armadillos became common in east Texas at around the 1900 mark.Which means, it is probably safe to assume that a few of them had reached that area by 1894.Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…