A Christmas Affair

We’re happy to welcome back fan favorite Jodi Thomas today, here to talk about a bit of Christmas romance.

I know we’re only starting fall. I haven’t even gotten my Halloween decorations out, BUT in the book world it’s time to start collecting all those wonderful Christmas stories we all love to read.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t curl up with a few stories. In all the rush of planning, decorating and cooking, I love also taking time to read.

So last winter, just after I put away the decorations, I stepped into fiction. While I’d been writing Indigo Lake, I wanted Maria to have her story.

Sometimes characters come alive and for me. Maria came into my study, sat down and said she wanted to have a wild affair. She’d been too busy when she was in her early twenties and building a business; then after the accident that left her blind, she withdrew from the world. Now, she decides she wants the shy store owner who stocks her famous jams and jellies.

Only problem is Wes Whitman doesn’t want an affair. He’s watched over her for years. He wants forever.

I hope my story, A Christmas Affair, will make you smile this Christmas.

An early story folks around the Panhandle of Texas remember always makes me smile so I thought I’d share a bit of history.

Family stories

In the late 1800s on the flat land of the Panhandle a rancher let his four daughters talk him into having a Christmas party. The women baked for days and decorated not only the house, but the barn as well. The rancher hired a fiddler and invited families who lived nearby, and any cowboy who wanted to ride in was welcome.

Legend is they came from as far away a Lubbock and Liberal. The rancher put them all up in the barn.

Christmas Eve it started to snow so most spent the night, but the next morning the weather was worse. The company stayed almost a week, eating the rancher out of his stores of food for the rest of the winter. The fiddler played until he passed out, then folks took turns singing so the dancing in the parlor never stopped.

The rancher didn’t mind the company. All four of his daughters were engaged before the New Year came and the snow melted enough for all the company to go home.

Fall: Memories of Mother and Baking

FALL.... brings back fond memories of my mother and baking. Each year as the season transitioned from summer to fall, so did the smells in my childhood home.

When the days began to grow cooler and the nights colder, my mother started stockpiling baking ingredients. Several times a week the scents of cinnamon, apples and chocolate greeted me when I came home from school. Mom would always invite me to help her make cookies or bake a cake, but I was only interested in licking the beaters and stealing a spoonful of batter before heading outside to play with my friends.

My mother taught herself how to cook and bake. While us kids watched TV at night, she’d browse magazines for recipes and add them to her collection. After my mother passed away, my sister sent me a few of her recipe books. I appreciated the gesture, until I took a closer look and saw that the recipes were all main courses and appetizers. She’d kept the pastry and dessert books for herself. Sneaky sister.

Pioneer Woman to the rescue! A while ago I bookmarked Ree Drummond’s cooking blog on my laptop. I told myself if a Pi Beta Phi sorority girl and graduate of the University of Southern California could teach herself how to cook for the Marlboro man, then I could teach myself to cook for the golfer man.

Ree’s rum cake recipe is one of my favorites. After two trial runs at making this cake, I was confident enough to purchase a fancy Bundt pan and Ree’s vintage-looking cake platter. Each year I stock up on bottles of rum and make several cakes to give away at Christmastime. You can find Ree’s rum cake recipe HERE.

I’ll never be as good in the kitchen as my mother, and I’ll never keep my recipes as organized as she did. But when I do come across a recipe in a magazine or on the Internet that I’d like to try, I print it off and toss it into my vintage recipe tin, which sits on my vintage stool in the corner of my not-so-vintage kitchen. 

 

Giveaway Alert!

Answer the following question for a chance to win a signed paperback or digital copy (winner’s choice) of TWINS FOR THE TEXAS RANCHER. (I’ll announce the winners name in the comment section of this post on Sunday October 1st!)

Of all the treats your mother baked when you were growing up, which was your favorite?

 

Until Next Time…Happy Trails!

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Winnie’s Winner !!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to ‘talk tea’ with me.  I made note of several new flavor recommendations that I plan to try in the coming weeks.

As for the promised giveaway, I threw all the names in a virtual hat and the one I pulled out was

TRIXI

Congratulations Trixi, you’ve won your choice of any book from my backlist. You can find a list on my website. Once you’ve made your selection, click on the contact button and send me the title along with your mailing info and I’ll get a signed copy right on out to you.

Winners! Winners!

Howdy!

Well, because this is a special event, I’ve decided to have 3 lucky winners this week.  And so I drew 3 different names.

The winners are:

Denise — Connie Sauders — Karen Markuson

Congratulations to all three of you!  Now, you can have your choice of e-books.  Here is my website:  http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — you can go there and pick the e-book of your choice — or you can opt for the newest release, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE — just be willing to wait a few days for the book to actually go on sale.  In any event, I will need an address to send the e-book to, so please do contact me personally at:  karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — and figure it all out.

Again, Congratulations!  And for those of you who didn’t win this time around, please do come back in a couple of weeks.  Often I give away books — not always, but pretty often.  So come on back.  What a wonderful time it was yesterday, and I loved each and every one of your comments.

 

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.

 

The Harvest Festival — Our Native American Roots

Yummmmm…  Autumn — crisp air, scented delicately with falling leaves and the smoke from wood stoves;  Cinnamon and fresh apple cider, pumpkin pie, turkey and cranberry sauce, apple pie, the last of the corn on the cob…

And what about the “feels” of autumn? Traipsing through leaves, racking them up and jumping in them; picking up a leaf and tracing its pattern; warm days, cool nights, the pleasure of feeling Mother Earth prepare for a few months’ sleep.

And how about the sounds of autumn?  Cold nights and warm blankets, football games announcing the players; the sounds of cheerleaders and marching bands; long practices — even the quiet sound of leaves falling to the ground.  How I love it.

thanksgivingOf course, to the people who lived close to the earth, these were all the beauties of autumn, also.  So much was this the case that an entire festival of fun and merriment was devoted to autumn — and that festival was called the Harvest Festival.

Of course we are all pretty much aware that our Thanksgiving comes from the Eastern Indians, and in particular Squanto — and if you didn’t know about Squanto, I would highly recommend the movie, Squanto, starring a young and dreamy Adam Beach.  Sigh…

But what was this festival called Thanksgiving?  Did it happen just this one time?  Or was this Thanksgiving part of an ancient celebration of the American Indians to give Thanks to He who is known as the Creator.

Thanksgiving was one of several festivals amongst the Eastern Indians — in particular I’m talking about the Iroquois.  However, these ceremonies were common to all the Eastern tribes.  There were many festivals throughout the year, and they tended to follow the seasons.

The Iroquois celebrated six festivals, wherein they gave thanks to the Creator for all they had.  These festivals would open with speeches by leaders, teachers, and elders.  And of course there was much dancing, which was done not only for the fun of simply dancing, but it was also a sense of worship.  It was thought that because the Creator needed some sort of amusement, He gave the people dancing.  Let me tell you a little about some of these celebrations.

In spring — early March — it was time to collect together tree bark and sap – this was needed to repair houses and other things, such as canoes, bowls, etc.   Spring was also the time for planting.  This was the maple festival.  Next was the Planting festival.  Here prayers were sent to the Creator to bless their seed.

The Iroquois’ main food source was corn, beans and squash (the three sisters), and of course deer meat or other meat when available.  Family gardens were separated by borders that were broad and grassy — they would even camp on these borders and sometimes they were raise watch towers.

The next festival of the Iroquois was the Strawberry Festival.  This is where the people gave thanks to the Creator for their many fruits (like strawberries).  It was summertime.  The women gathered wild nuts and other foods, while the men hunted, fished and provided various meats for cooking.  Again, each festival was greeted with much dancing and merriment.  Did you know that the some Iroquois believed the way to the Creator was paved with strawberries?

The festival after that was the Green Corn Fesitval.  Again, the people thanked the Creator for the bounty of food that had been raised all through the summer.  Dancers danced to please the Creator and musicians sang and beat the drum.  Again there were many speeches to honor the people and the Creator.  There were team sports.  Lacrosse was the game that was most admired and it was played with great abandon by the men.  Women played games, too and often their games were as competitive as the men’s.

The season festival following that was…are you ready?  You’re right — The Harvest Festival.  By this time the women had harvested the corn, beans and squash.  Much of it would be dried.  Much went to feed families.  Husks were made into many different items.  Dolls, rugs, mats.  Did you know that the dolls didn’t have faces?  Now was the time to gather more nuts and berries.  Men were busy, too, hunting far away.  Bear, moose, beaver were all sought after and hunted.  Again, there was much celebration.  Dancing, speeches, prayer.  And of course — food.  It was this particular festival that was shared with the newcomers to this continent.

Can you guess what the next festival was?  Although this is a Christmas tree, it was not a celebration of Christmas — but if you guessed this, you were very close.  The next and last festival of the year was New Year’s.  At this time, a white dog was sacrificed as a gift to the Creator.  This was also a time for renewing the mind and body.  (Does that not remind you of our New Year’s resolutions?)  At this time, the False Face Society members would wear masks to help others to cleanse themselves of their bad minds and restore only their good minds.  There was again much celebration, much dancing, much merriment and enjoyment as each person would settle in for the long winter ahead of them.

The First Americans indeed did give this country very much, not only its festivals which we still remember to this day, but also it gave to this nation a fighting spirit for freedom.  In these times when there seems to be a forgetfulness about our American roots, it is wonderful to remember that the American Indian and the Love of Freedom went hand-in-hand.  What seems interesting to me is that our Thanksgiving festival still honors the custom of giving thanks for those gifts that He, The Creator, has given us.  To the American Indian all of these festivals contained this special element — that of giving Thanks to our Maker.

Perhaps it’s only because this one festival was shared by American Indian and Colonist alike that set the tone of Thanksgiving for future generations.  And I do believe that the love of autumn and giving thanks for that which belongs to us has its roots in The Harvest Festival, so beloved to the Eastern Indian Tribes.

What do you think?

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered into the free give-away.  Giveaway Guidelines are off to the right here on this page.

As an aside, for a short time the book, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE, Book # 4 in the Legendary Warrior series, is on pre-order sale.  It’s due to be released to KindleUnlimited October 1st.  While I don’t yet have a link to share with you, I do have the gorgeous cover, and so I thought I’d let you have a peek at it before it goes up for sale.

WELCOMING FALL WITH A NEW RELEASE! by CHERYL PIERSON

Hi everyone! What better way to kick off our fall special events week here at PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS than with some good news about a new book? The end of the year is in sight and with it comes such a time crunch for most of us. In the publishing world, things begin to gear up toward the end of August and don’t grind to a slow-down until Christmas. Holiday stories must be gotten out in a timely manner for readers, and there are many contests that deadline at Dec. 31, as well.

 

In the midst of all that, I managed to finally get one of my own short novels out, and what a joy! THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON started out as a short story for our Prairie Rose Publications anthology, Sweet Texas Christmas. BUT, sometimes stories take on a life of their own, and this one did just that. It soon became obvious that it was not going to be eligible to include in the anthology when the word count topped 20K and I was only about halfway finished. These characters needed a longer story! Here’s the “short” version:

A woman with no home…

Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…

The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?

In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON is available now for pre-order for KINDLE, and will release on October 26 in both digital and paperback. It’s full of action, suspense, and of course, Christmas magic!

Here’s the link to pre-order your very own copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B075SJX8SL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506003195&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Miss+Julia+Jackson%3C%2Fstrong%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Fall is definitely here, and it’s time to settle down with a good book in a comfy chair with a favorite beverage (and maybe some chocolate!) and read, read, read!

 

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!

 

The History of the Harvey Girls

Today’s special guest is Rhonda Gibson, here to talk to us about her latest interesting book research about the Harvey Girls and her newest book releases. Welcome, Rhonda!

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger here at Petticoats and Pistols! I love coming here and sharing my latest research efforts. Right now I am devouring all information on the Harvey Girls.

I’ve been a fan of the Harvey Girls for many years. Come next year, I will have a Harvey Girl novella released by Winged Publications. As you can imagine, I have been reading up a storm about these outstanding women who helped shape the West.

From the late 1800s to the mid-1950s Harvey House restaurants and dining rooms upheld their tradition of quality food, high standards of service, and reasonable prices. The Harvey Girls served weary travelers gourmet meals in thirty minutes. Some served in restaurants, others in lunchrooms. All donned the standard uniform of black or white starched skirt, high-collared blouse, with a bib and apron. They served their patrons with practiced precision and polished etiquette.

Each patron would tell their waitress whether they preferred coffee, hot tea, iced tea or milk. The cup code enabled their choice to be served quickly. If the waitress left the cup right side up in its saucer, that meant coffee. Upside down meant hot tea. Upside down, but tilted against the saucer meant iced tea. Upside down, away from the saucer meant milk. Patrons who changed the positions of their cups risked getting the wrong drink.

The advertisement for “young women 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent” as waitresses in Harvey Eating Houses on the Santa Fe Railroad in the West is legendary. Their contribution to the growth of the American West is preserved in poetry, song, and film. The humorist, Will Rogers, observed that the Harvey Houses kept the West in food and wives.

From a variety of backgrounds, many of them supported parents and siblings back home on $17.50 in wages plus tips, while they carved out a future for themselves. They also received free room, board, clean uniforms, and a train pass to their training facility. Your family tree may have a Harvey Girl among its branches.

Right now, the Harvey Girls novella is in research mode but I do have two new books out this month, Pony Express Special Delivery and The Cowboy’s Way. I am giving away a copy of Pony Express Special Delivery, so leave a comment either about the Harvey Girls or the Pony Express for a chance to win.