Cowboy Simple Christmas

Keeping Simple Christmas…

In a lot of modern homes, Christmas is anything but simple. It’s costly and complex, like a Rubik’s Cube puzzle with  angles and facets and faces… And no matter how much you turn and twist, someone is not going to be happy.

Well dagnabbit, that’s a confounding situation since Christmas isn’t supposed to be about us.

It’s about them… a family, pushed to travel with a baby due and no choice. A family put upon by governmental regulations, taxes and expectations… and a secret baby.

Anyone who writes romance understands the lure of a secret baby. We have Mary, pregnant by unexplained means. We have Joseph who stays by her side because an angel came to him in a dream…. and told him to stand by Mary, to welcome the coming child as his own…

And then he did, so Joseph is one of my favorite saints. He not only stood by her, he cared for his wife and little son and when it was time to escape a tyrannical killer in the form of King Herod, Joseph fled with his wife and child to a foreign land…. and didn’t bring them back until Herod’s reign was over.

Now that’s a true cowboy.

He put them first.

He cared for them. He probably wasn’t exactly comfortable with all of this… a wife, pregnant by unexpected and unexplained means…. a child not his own…. and to leave what he knew first to protect them.

He may have been a carpenter, a man who worked with his hands to shape wood, but in my heart, he was a true cowboy. He put others first…. he was patient as needed…. strong enough to take the lead… and loving enough to accept a child not his own. That wasn’t exactly the norm back then.

This link to Michael Card singing “Joseph’s Song” is such a perfect image of Joseph… the cowboy. The sacrificial father…

Simple Christmas…. Remember Laura Ingalls’ description of her prairie Christmas in “Little House on the Prairie”? A tin cup… a candy stick… and a shiny penny!

And Ma made sugar cakes and they roasted venison or rabbit or fish caught in Plum Creek…

Simple isn’t bad. Simple is good. Simple can be fulfilling. Like when you stay up all night with an ailing cow and she takes a turn for the better come morning…. Like when your taxes shoot up and you’re not sure where the money will come from and all of a sudden you have the best maple syrup season you’ve had in a dozen years… Or how about when someone puts a bug in your ear about fancy pumpkins and you like the idea and grow them and sell 17,000 pumpkins because you thought fancy stacking pumpkins would sell… and then they did! 🙂

Simple goodness… simple foods…. simple comforts…. simple songs… simple romance….

In this beautiful season of giving, I have a brand new book release that centers on second chances… new beginnings… and God’s perfect timing in a little town where wishes and prayers and hopes and dreams mingle freely…

A town called “Wishing Bridge”.  And of course there is a link for you to see this wonderful 4 STAR ROMANTIC TIMES story RIGHT HERE!!!!! 

I want you to read this story. It’s not a Western, but it’s a great book with a heart for the downtrodden and hope for the future… It’s a story that grips your heart and soothes your soul… it’s a story of small town loving and small town fears… and about three women who make a pledge to help each other as needed, and now– twelve years later– it’s needed.

I’ve got a Kindle copy to give away today so let me know if you’ve got a Kindle or the Kindle app for your computer or tablet…. and I’ll tuck your name into the wishing well!  So what do you do to keep the spirit of Christmas as your focal point so you don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle? I’d love to have you share your points right here today!

 

Julie Benson’s Winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat about the holiday traditions.  You gave me some wonderful ideas I’m going to try out this year!

The winner of the set of mugs is:

Cindy Woolard

Congratulations Cindy. Please contact me privately at julie@juliebenson.net to let me know your address.

Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat. I loved hearing from you.

Could Be Less Really is Better

When I started researching Western Christmas traditions I discovered pioneer celebrated with the holidays with homemade gifts and were described as being filled with “humble fare.” This made me think how elaborate the season has become. Then I realized the older I get, the more simplicity appeals to me.


I thought about holidays past, and admitted one of my favorites occurred a year when my husband was unemployed. Surprisingly, that took away of the holiday stress. I wasn’t going crazy searching for the perfect gift for family and friends because everyone knew we couldn’t afford presents. I didn’t worry about what to wear to my husband’s office party or how I’d spend an evening with people I didn’t know. Not being able to spend money on gifts and activities forced us to emphasize the important aspects of the holiday. We concentrated on what mattered—family and close friends.


We gave more than lip service to spending quality time with our children. We asked each child what his favorite Christmas movie was and watched each together as a family. We looked at Christmas lights. We baked everyone’s favorite holiday treats. We talked. We laugh
ed.

Thinking back on those memories to write this I recalled a little book I bought years ago entitled The Little Book of Christmas Joys by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Rosemary Brown, and Kathy Peel. I pulled out my dog-eared copy and read through it again to pick some suggestion to share some with you.

 #7 * Take a basket of Christmas goodies to a notoriously grumpy neighbor.
#8 * Be nice to sales personnel. They’re often wearier than you are.
#18 * Let go of a problem you can’t solve. Enjoy the season.

#38 * Take a shut-n a scrumptious Christmas dinner.
#53 * Go caroling.
#69 * Before going to bed every night of the Christmas season, ask yourself, “Whose life did I make brighter today?”
#91 * Offer to run holiday errands for an elderly friend or relative.
#104 * Give anonymous gifts of money to someone who has been laid off.
#108 * Curl up before an open fire with someone you love.
#183 * Compliment at least three people every day in December. This is a gift that’s always appreciated.
#203 * Give a donation every time you pass a Salvation Army bell-ringer.

#231 * Add a new Christmas CD to your music collection each year.
#283 * Tour a historic home in your area that has been decorated for the holidays.
#409 * Watch the television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
#425 * On New Year’s Day, light three candles and think about the three things that happened the past year for which you are most thankful.


May your holiday season be filled with simplicity and joy, and one last tip. #279 * Remember that the loving holiday spirit in your home depends more on the words you speak than on the gifts you give.


Now tell me your favorite holiday tradition or tip and be entered to win the set of four mugs, perfect for hot chocolate or spiced cider as you sit with
loved ones in front of the fire.

Add One Hot Cowboy and Stir

We’re delighted to have Dee Burks with us today. She’s filling in for Phyliss Miranda who’s out of town. Dee is immensely talented and infuses her stories with humor that will make you laugh out loud. This Christmas-themed book is sure to please. She’s also giving away three copies (winner’s choice of format!) So, help us welcome Dee!

It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I write contemporary westerns and I think I have the best job in the world.

I’ll be happy to spur you outta the chute, Cowboy!

How many times have you wanted to shout that at a smoking hot guy in Wrangler’s? Actually I think I did once, or maybe twice! Cowboys you run across these days are just as exciting and interesting as they were back in the old west and I love writing about them. There is truly nothing more enticing than a smart, sexy, wickedly funny cowboy romance set in the mountains. When I decided on the setting for this series, I chose the beautiful Moreno Valley in far Northern New Mexico. It is one of my favorite places – full of ranchers, cowboys and beautiful scenery.

Beyond an awesome setting, I knew I wanted more than your average ranch cowboy to be the hero of this first book. I wanted something different. Something that would interest readers and give the book an added dimension.  One day, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, a guy I knew in high school (ahem…like over 30 years ago) posted some photos of a set of custom spurs he was making. I thought, “What an awesome occupation for a former rodeo star!” And the idea for Custom Made Cowboy was born.

I sent Quint Finney, spur maker extraordinaire, a message and asked him for an interview which he graciously granted. He also sent me a pair of custom-made spurs that I could examine and take pictures of. I feel that sort of authenticity is something you can’t replace as a writer. To hear the excitement in the voice of someone who actually does this work, allows me to add nuances I couldn’t get any other way. I feel it is that real, down to earth voice that makes my hero, Trampas Woodburn, leap off the page and into the hearts of readers.

A former bull rider (yes I interviewed one of these too!) Trampas is trying to start a new life away from the spotlight but still stay connected to his rodeo roots. A leather and spur making business is what he dreams of, he just needs a quiet place to relax and get things off the ground. While he is starting a new life, my heroine, Angie Martin is desperately trying to keep her life together.

Angie is a painter and owns a little art studio in Eagle Nest, NM. I now live in Northern New Mexico, and can tell you firsthand that art is everywhere and so are great artists. I’ve had the opportunity to sit and listen to artists talk about what it feels like to create great works and the struggles that go along with making a living from that art. Giving my heroine a teetering art business to try and salvage while dealing with an unexpected, hot cowboy adds layers of humor and tension to this book in every area.

I chose two very strong willed, determined people who aren’t looking for romance at all to show how unexpected and powerful love can be. Their connection to one another is palpable, to the point readers may feel as if the pages will burst into flames on occasion!

Being a writer is a great excuse to talk to gorgeous, knowledgeable cowboys and I do a lot of it – which I, of course, will use in a book at some point (wink, wink).

I hope you all enjoy this book and to get you started I’m giving away 3 copies of Custom Made Cowboy (winner’s choice of format.) To enter the drawing, leave a profession in the comments that you think would suit a cowboy – beside chasing cows!

* * * * * *

About Dee:

She’s a bestselling author who brings to life today’s true west with feisty heroines and heart melting cowboys. A multi-generational Texan, she now lives in the gorgeous mountains of Northern New Mexico infusing all her settings with authenticity of the southwest while crafting love stories spicier than the hottest green chili!

Her favorite pastime is writing as the snow falls over the Sangre De Cristos, hot cup of coffee on the desk and sweet pup Charley at her feet.  When not writing, she travels the west collecting ideas and indulging her passion for fly fishing.

Our Oldest National Park

Since the last time I blogged here, I’ve started writing the first book I’m doing for Tule Publishing. Not only is this book set in one of the most beautiful areas of the United States — the Paradise Valley of Montana — it’s also adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, which is our nation’s oldest national park. The park was established by Congress, and President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law March 1, 1872. That was more than a decade before any of the three states in which the park currently sits — Montana, Wyoming and Idaho — even became states.

By Henry Wellge (1850-1917) (David Rumsey Map Collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Yellowstone is not only very ecologically diverse, including being home to half of the world’s geothermal features, it also has a rich history. The area the park covers, more than 3,400 square miles, has been home to Native Americans for around 11,000 years. We know this because an obsidian projectile point was found during the 1950s excavation for the building of the post office in Gardiner, Montana, which is the gateway community where the northern entrance to the park is located. Arrowheads made from the same type of Yellowstone obsidian have been found as far east as the Mississippi Valley.

Though mountain men occasionally visited the area as far back as the late 1700s, it wasn’t until the late 1860s that organized exploration made it to this rugged and remote area. Prior to that, occasional tales from the area, such as those told by John Colter of a place made of “fire and brimstone,” were dismissed as a product of delirium or as pure myth. In fact, it became known as an imaginary place called “Colter’s Hell.” Though famous mountain man Jim Bridger also spoke of the area, he was also not believed because he was known to be a great teller of tall tales. It wasn’t until two different expeditions in 1869 and 1870 that the world began to believe that Yellowstone was real. Shortly thereafter, several voices spoke up for the protection of the area as a national park.

Photo taken by Daniel Mayer and released under terms of the GNU FDL.

Initially under the purview of the Secretary of the Interior, the park subsequently was overseen by the U.S. Army for a period of 30 years from 1886 to 1916. You can still see the Army’s Fort Yellowstone structures, which serve as the park’s headquarters in Mammoth Hot Springs in the northwestern corner of the park. Throughout the park, you’ll find museums and roadside exhibits that detail various aspects of the park’s history, wildlife, geothermal features and ecology. The wildlife is interesting in that the herds of bison and elk and the free-roaming bears and wolves give modern-day visitors a small glimpse of what the great landscapes of the West were once like.

By Jim Peaco, National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Since 1916, Yellowstone has been a part of the National Park Service. Its creation has led to the protection of more than 400 units of the NPS covering more than 84 million acres in every state as well as the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. These park units collectively had more than 330 million visitors last year. Fifty-nine of the units are designated national parks, many of which are also World Heritage sites. Thirty-five of those 59 parks are located in the West and protect a variety of landscapes and history that embody the American West. That’s not counting a huge number of other NPS units that are designated as national monuments, battlefields, seashores, historic sites, national historic parks, preserves, lakeshores, wild and scenic rivers, recreation areas, military parks, parkways, cemeteries, historic and scenic trails, and heritage areas.

Have you ever visited Yellowstone? Other National Park Service units? What is your favorite?

To find out more about Yellowstone National Park and the rest of the units of the National Park Service, go to http://www.nps.gov.

E.E. Burke Has a Winner!

E.E. (Elisabeth) Burke thanks you all for coming to read about this exciting new series. She apologizes for being unable to reply due to a sudden death in the family. Keep her in your prayers.

Now for the drawing…………..

Winner of the ebook copy of THE PARTRIDGE (Book #1 in the series) is…….

KERI BRADSHER

Woo-Hoo! Congratulations, Keri! Either Elisabeth or Kit Morgan will send you an email so be watching.

 

Welcome Guest – E. E. Burke

Thank you for having me back as a guest on Petticoats & Pistols!

This December, I have the privilege of being part of an exciting new series inspired by a familiar Christmas carol.

Christmas, 1876: Noelle, Colorado is in danger of becoming a ghost town if the railroad decides to bypass the mountaintop mining community. Determined to prove their town is thriving, twelve men commit to ordering brides before the railroad’s deadline six days into the New Year.

Each of the twelve women has her own reason for signing up to become a mail-order bride. But after they arrive in the uncivilized settlement, they aren’t so sure they’ve made the right decision. Neither are the grooms.

Will the marriages happen in time to save Noelle? The countdown starts on Christmas Day.

Where’s Noelle?

The mining town where the Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides series is set is a fictional place, but we drew inspiration from the history of Leadville, Colorado. This mountain boomtown located ten thousand feet high in a valley of the Rockies, became famous for its silver mine. But the town actually got its start when gold was discovered there around 1860. The stream gorge, named California Gulch, instantly became the site of a 49er’s style gold rush, with crude dwellings and businesses (supplies, saloons and whorehouses) springing up along the narrow gulch.

Two years later, the gold ran out and miners abandoned the town in droves. It stood deserted for thirteen years until another prospector became curious about the black sand and underlying rock and had a sample assayed, which proved to be carbonate of lead rich with silver.

By 1877, the silver rush was on! The town’s name came from its lead and silver mining. Later, copper and zinc would be shipped out of the mineral-rich valley.

The story of mining communities like Leadville and even our little fictional town of Noelle are strikingly similar. The moment precious ore was discovered, the town would boom, almost overnight. But few of these towns survived past the initial rush. Those that did faced another challenge: connecting their towns to the rest of the world. As the railroads advanced across the country, connecting east to west and establishing a faster, cheaper way to move goods and people, communities vied to attract the railroad, knowing it would make the difference between thriving or becoming a ghost town.

In our series, Noelle faces both of these challenges, and the men living there come up with a clever plan to save their town.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, written by twelve bestselling authors, put a new twist on an old song in a heartwarming historical romance series.

The Partridge by Kit Morgan – A clever man’s plan becomes a matchmaking disaster…and the countdown begins to save the town of Noelle.

The Dove by Shanna Hatfield – A bewitching gypsy and a beguiled blacksmith tangle over a hidden treasure…with only eleven days left to save the town.

The Hens by Merry Famer – A wandering woman finds exactly who she was looking for, but not who she was expecting…with only ten days left to save the town.

The Calling Birds by Jacqui Nelson – A wanted woman’s flight leads to a man in pursuit of honesty not stolen gold…with only nine days left to save the town.

The Gold Ring by Caroline Lee – A dangerous masquerade and a twist of fate put Noelle’s future at risk…with only eight days left to save the town

The Goose by Peggy Henderson – A woman on the run, a man who doesn’t want to be caught—it’s one wild goose chase…with only seven days left to save the town.

The Swan by Piper Hugely – A beautiful woman with secrets comes to Noelle to confront a powerful person with the truth…and only six days left to save the town.

The Maid by Rachel Wesson – A convicted murderer, a young maid on the run…with five days left to save the town.

The Dancing Lady by Mimi Milan – A desirous diner owner and a disguised dancer waltz their way to love…and only four days left to save the town.

The Lord by Danica Favorite – An assayer and a ladies maid, each living a lie. Will the truth ruin everything…with only three days left to save the town?

The Piper by Amanda McIntyre – A determined matchmaker, a stubborn mountain man…and only two days left to save the town!

The Drum by E.E. Burke – A bad luck bride, an exploding disaster…can Noelle be saved in just one day?

You can check out this series by joining our awesome Facebook group. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire just for joining!

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? What is it, and why is it your favorite?

I’ll give away a copy of the first book in this series, The Partridge, to one lucky commenter!

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical and contemporary romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in. Find out more about this author and her books:

Website | Amazon | BookBub

Winner! Winner! For Karen Kay’s Free e-book Give-away

Howdy!  And a Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!  Hope your home is filled with all the good scents of baking and cooking.

We do have a winner for the free e-book give-away and that winner is:

Stephanie Jenkins Ortiz Cerrillo

Congratulations to you, Stephanie!  Please do contact me personally at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — and we’ll arrange to get the book to you.

Many, many thanks to all of you who came to the blog today.  I so love talking to you all.

As a note:  all of my books, with a few exceptions, have been reduced in price for the Holiday Season.  Be aware, however, that after the holidays, the books will return to their original price.  If you type in Karen Kay books at Amazon prompt, it should give you a list of the books that are on sale.  As we enter into the Holiday Season, my wish for you is a season filled with love, with family and with good cheer.

A Pinch of This and a Dash of That

Have you ever noticed that some of those old family recipes never taste as good as you remember from your childhood?  Those early cooks didn’t waste a thing, as anyone who inherited a recipe for giblet pie will attest. I also have a recipe that calls for one quart of nice buttermilk. As soon as I find buttermilk that meets that criteria, I’ll try it.

I especially like the old-time recipes for sourdough biscuits. Here’s a recipe from The Oregon Trail Cookbook:

“Mix one-half cup sourdough starter with one cup milk. Cover and set it in the wagon near the baby to keep warm … pinch off pieces of dough the size of the baby’s hand.”

Early cooks didn’t have the accurate measuring devices we have today and had to make do with what was handy—even if it was the baby.

If you’re in the mood to drag out an old family recipe this Thanksgiving, here are some weights and measures used by pioneer cooks that might help: 

Tumblerful=Two Cups

Wineglass=1/4 Cup

Pound of eggs=8 to 9 large eggs, 10-12 smaller ones

Butter the size of an egg=1/4 cup

Butter the size of a walnut=2 Tablespoons

Dash=1/8 teaspoon

Pinch=1/8 teaspoon

Dram=3/4 teaspoon

Scruple= (an apothecary weight=1/4 teaspoon

Gill=1/2 Cup

Old-time tablespoon=4 modern teaspoons

Old-time teaspoons=1/4 modern teaspoon

2 Coffee Cups=1 pint

As for the size of the baby, you’re on your own.

                                                                Weights from Christmas in the Old West by Sam Travers

 

Chuck wagon or trail recipes call for a different type of measurement

Li’l bitty-1/4 tsp

Passle-1/2 tsp

Pittance-1/3 tsp

Dib-1/3 tsp

Crumble-1/8 tsp

A Wave at It-1/16 tsp

Heap-Rounded cupful     

Whole Heap-2 Rounded cupfuls

Bunch-6 items

However you measure it,

here’s hoping that your Thanksgiving is a “whole heap” of fun!

 

For Your Christmas Reading Pleasure

Amazon author page

iTunes author page