Before I was able to purchase a small place in Wyoming where I live part-year, I always thought of Wyoming as ‘the cowboy state.’ The symbol of a cowboy on a bucking horse is pervasive in the state, and shops and bars are plentiful in throwing around the word ‘cowboy.’ But the other nickname for the great state of Wyoming is ‘the equality state’ because, as any feminist historian may know, Wyoming was the very first place in the entire world to give women the vote. Although it’s often said that the decision to give women the vote had to do with the comparatively small population residing in Wyoming at the time, the pro-suffrage vote was generally along political party lines with the Democrats bringing in the law on December 10, 1869. At the time, there was something akin to five men for every woman in Wyoming.
In September 1870, women finally got their chance to cast their ballots…and apparently predominantly voted Republican. Later that year, women jurists served, and in 1871, the first female Justice of the Peace was elected. Women went on to serve in several capacities, including in the state legislature. However, in my own neck of the woods, in the valley of Jackson Hole, things were a bit slower to take off, but when they did, women certainly made their mark.
It’s difficult to believe that the area in which the town of Jackson now sits was once called Marysvale, but that was the original postal address for the area. The first homestead claims had been filed in the 1880s, mostly by men, with women and families arriving later. In 1893, Maggie Simpson became the official postmistress sitting on a property that now is the center of town. She renamed the district Jackson and, as everyone now knows, that is the name that stuck.
By 1900, the town was slowly developing and lots were being sold for housing and shops, but it remained a fairly laid-back place with no real government. It took another twenty years for a town council to be elected—all women! At the time, the population of Jackson was 307 and Grace Miller beat one Frank Lovejoy for the position of mayor, fifty-six to twenty-eight. The five-woman council was able to collect long-overdue taxes, improve road conditions, maintain the Town Square, control roaming livestock, give access to the cemetery, expand sewer and water systems, and install electric lighting and a phone service. They also employed the first Town Marshal, a woman! Pearl Williams had formerly been working at the drugstore as a clerk, but having been brought up on a ranch located between Jackson and Wilson, she had her own horse and could look after herself in the wild. Apparently, most of Pearl’s time was taken up giving interviews to reporters who loved the story of the female marshal in the wild west. The truth of the matter was that the town jail cells had no doors and the worst incidents Pearl apparently handled, aside from keeping stray cattle out of the town square, involved drunken cowboys.
My own first visit to Jackson was as a young girl in the 1960s. I don’t remember much other than going up to Yellowstone except that it was still a fairly quiet place reveling in its small-town life. I suppose in the 1970s when my book Always on My Mind is set, it was just beginning to evolve into what it is today—a vibrant place that welcomes men and women (!) from around the globe, pandemics permitting. And women, of course, continue to play a vital role in both the state government and the town of Jackson.
If you’d like to win an e-copy of Always on My Mind, comment below and let me know what you think it might have been like for a woman living in Jackson in the seventies. There certainly was a lot going on in the country at the time. Here’s the book’s blurb to give you some ideas: 1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.
Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.
Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.
Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”
I was interviewed on Six Gun Justice. A podcast I only discovered after one of the hosts, Rich Prosch, invited me. It’s really fun. I’ve been hanging out there, listening to all these great western podcasts by Rich Prosch and Paul Bishop and all their guests, ever since.
The past few months, I’ve been working on a brand-new sweet western romance series set in a modern-day town that only exists in my head.
I can’t speak for other authors, but I have the absolute best time dreaming up towns, businesses, and oddball characters.
I first started thinking about a series set near Burns, Oregon, years ago. At that time, I jotted down a few notes, tucked them away, and thought about the characters and stories I wanted to write but just never had time to work into my schedule. Last summer, I began thinking of ideas for another ranch series, one with Summer in the title (inspired by a ranch sign I saw on the way to church one Sunday when I ventured along a back road). Finally, I landed on the idea of combining the two series into one and naming it Summer Creek. Of course, I came up with that idea ten minutes into a three-hour road trip with Captain Cavedweller. So the entire trip he was trapped in the pickup with me as I brainstormed ideas. Lucky for me, he’s great at brainstorming and tossing around “what ifs” so it was quite a trip!
By the time we got home, I had the basics outlined for the first three books with oodles of notes for more in the series.
I like to have a cover in finished before I start writing the book, or at least something in mind. And I knew I wanted the covers for this series to be different — original. After searching for hours (days!) online, I ended up asking a local photographer if she’d sell me three images from engagement sessions. She specializes in western photography and I fell in love with this image.
It was so incredibly perfect for the story I wanted to write and in fact, I wrote this image into the last scene of the book.
I had such a great time creating not just the characters and story, but the town of Summer Creek. It’s an old town that’s been around for more than a century, but it’s fallen on hard times and when the heroine arrives, she boosts the population up to 497. Did I mention it’s a really small town? One where a goat named Ethel roams around eating grocery bags and tube socks. Where the mayor is also the barber and locksmith, and… you get the idea.
Catching the Cowboy is the first book in the series and it will release June 9. I can hardly wait to share it with everyone.
She’s fresh out of jail . . .
He’s fresh out of luck.
Spoiled heiress Emery Brighton indulges in one mimosa too many, attempts to steal a horse, and winds up in jail. A sentence of community service leaves her at the mercy of strangers on a remote ranch near a small town in Oregon. Adjusting to country life is hard enough, but she has no idea how to handle her growing affection for a surly cowboy and his adorable daughter.
Steady and dependable as the day is long, rancher Hudson Cole just wants to raise his little girl and be left alone. When his grandmother invites a lawbreaker dressed in Louis Vuitton to Summer Creek Ranch, Hud is convinced Grammy has lost her ever-loving mind. Determined to detest Emery, he instead finds himself doing the one thing he vowed would never happen again: falling in love.
With one foot out the door, will love be enough to convince Emery to stay?
This sweet romance offers a funny, delightful happily ever after adventure in a quirky small town. Discover a meandering goat named Ethel, meddling matchmakers, and a community that feels like home in a story filled with heart, humor, and hope.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Sit by me,” Cricket said, snagging Emery’s hand and pulling on it.
Jossy feigned a pout. “I’ve been displaced as the favored seatmate.”
Emery glanced from Jossy to Hud. “I don’t want to steal anyone’s seat.”
“You’re fine,” Jossy said, giving Emery a warm smile then settling into the chair on the other side of Hud. “This looks and smells fantastic, Grammy. Thank you for making my muffins.”
“Of course, sweetie. It’s a treat to have you join us,” Nell said, lifting Jossy’s and Cricket’s hand in hers. “Let’s hold hands while I offer a word of thanks for this food and beautiful day.”
Hud would rather pet a rabid porcupine than hold Emery’s hand in his, but to appease his grandmother, he reached out and clasped it. Unprepared for the wild jolt of electricity that zipped from the point of contact up his arm, he would have dropped her hand and left the room if it wouldn’t have created a flurry of questions from his grandmother and Jossy.
Instead, he forced himself to sit still and listen to his grandmother say grace. As soon as he uttered “amen,” he released Emery’s hand, although his skin continued to tingle. He picked up the mug of coffee in front of him and took a long, bracing drink. He did his best to ignore the way it burned all the way down his throat as he picked up the platter of sausages. When he held it for Emery before passing it on to Jossy, he caught the woman eyeing him, as though she was equally disturbed by the unsettling, unexpected feeling that continued to linger in the air.
This … whatever this energy was that pulsated between them, was not something he wanted to explore or even acknowledge. He’d vowed years ago he would never be stupid enough to let another woman into his heart and life, and he intended to stick with that decision.
You can pre-order Catching the Cowboy for just $1.99. After it releases, the price will increase to $5.99 for digital copies. It will also be available in paperback.
To find out more, please visit my website, or order your copy today.
There are a few things I put into almost every book of mine and the telegraph is one. It was the “email” of the 19th and early 20th centuries. People needed a fast way to send a message, and in the early 1800s, Samuel Morse gave them the telegraph—a machine that sent a series of dots and dashes over a wire.
In April 1856, Western Union began operating and reached peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s when it was cheaper to send a telegram than call long distance.
They charged by the word and the cost of a 10-word telegram in 1870 was around $1.00, depending on the distance.
It was customary to use the word STOP in place of a period. I found one reason for this being that it was cheaper than a period but I’m not so sure. I couldn’t find the cost of a period listed anywhere. Another source mentioned that it was to clarify the message and since they were sent in a series of dots and dashes, distinguishing periods would’ve been difficult. I believe this.
In any event, messages weren’t that cheap, so people used the fewest words possible.
In my Men of Legend series, Stoker Legend installed his own telegraph on the huge ranch so he could get messages quickly since headquarters was a good thirty miles from the nearest town.
And in my latest book, The Mail Order Bride’s Secret, Tait Trinity used the telegraph to send for Melanie Dunbar, the mail order bride he’d been writing.
* * * *
Now I have an offer for you. From today 5-19-20 to 6-02-20 my Texas Heroes series (digital only) goes on sale everywhere online!
I’m obsessed with mail-order bride stories. I can’t imagine what would make a young lady leave her home and head west to marry someone she’d never met, live in unfamiliar surroundings, and basically consign herself to a life of uncertainty from the moment she stepped foot on the train (or stagecoach).
But this “wondering” was what got me started on a massive writing project that I’m loving every minute of! My SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE series (and this is my first series!) was born of wondering what would happen if a gambler, Calum Ross, had won some mail-order brides for himself, his cousin Blake, and their best friends Paxton, Collin, Liam, and Jordan Taylor—four brothers who they’d grown up with.
Returning to Texas when the Civil War ends, the men are eager to get back to life as it was “before” they went off to fight. Calum has all but forgotten that odd bet he “won” in a smoky bar near the end of the war, and the others never even knew about it. Of course, marriage is the very last thing on any of their minds on their travels home.
The six brides who are traveling to Texas from “back east” are as different from one another as any people could be, but during this long journey, they have embraced one another and become as close as sisters—they are family long before they ever cross the Red River.
The brides arrive before the men, to the unsuspecting Taylor family’s spacious home—and this excerpt is about the greeting they receive.
As I said, this is slated to be a series, as each of the couples have their own problems to overcome, with issues that happened before they ever met—and also, those that any couple might face—especially since they are starting marriage on such shaky ground.
I’m hoping this first book of the series will be released by early fall—and I’ll be sharing more about this venture as time goes by—but let me introduce you to some of my characters from SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE!
“Oh…my…stars,” Noelle gasped as the coach pulled to a halt in front of the elegant Spanish-style stucco home.
“As I live and breathe…” Angelica murmured. “Things are looking up already.”
“If we’re welcomed here, that is,” Tabitha added.
“Which we might not be,” Cami said quietly.
“Only one way to find out, ladies,” Jessamyn said firmly. “We’ll ask Mr. Fielding to wait a moment and see what kind of reception we get. No need to unload the luggage until we see.”
Just then, the front door opened wide and a man emerged. At the same time, the stage driver and shotgun rider called out a greeting, and the man lowered the barrel of the rifle he carried.
“Ain’t no call to shoot us, Lowell. We’re bringin’ a bevy of beautiful brides to your door!” Arnold joshed. He stepped lively to the stage door and opened it, and the women began to emerge in the heat of the June day.
“What in the cornbread hell—Arnold, is this some kind of sorry joke you’re pulling?”
The driver gave the man a peeved look, his bushy brows furrowing sharply. “I’ve saved you a drive into town, Taylor,” he said in a low growl. “The least you can do is be respectful in front of ladies.”
“Ladies!” Taylor scoffed loudly. “Load ’em back up. Only one here needs a bride is my foreman, J.A. Decker, and I ain’t gonna tempt him with a woman.”
“What’s going on, Lowell?” A woman’s voice came from somewhere inside the open doorway.
“Nothing, Ellen, just—”
A woman with a head of dark hair and emerald green eyes peered around the door, then, a wide smile of greeting lighting her features she moved past her husband onto the porch.
“Arnold Fielding, and Joe Darwin! Oh, and some weary travelers! Is there trouble?” Her look turned anxious.
“Only just now, Mrs. Taylor,” Joe muttered darkly.
She whirled to look at her husband, who towered over her by a good ten inches. Defiantly, she turned back to the group in the front yard and graciously announced, “Please, come inside and refresh yourselves.” Looking past them, she motioned one of the stable boys forward. “Jose, please unhitch the team and take care of the horses. They’re hot and tired, too.”
The boy nodded, moving toward the horses.
“Should we unload the—” Arnold began.
“That can wait until we’ve cooled off some,” Ellen interrupted, motioning them forward. With a welcoming smile, she threw the door wide. “We have guests, Pilar,” she called.
“Si, senora,” came a muffled voice.
Lowell Taylor stood aside as the travelers climbed the front steps and entered his house. As Arnold brought up the rear, Lowell put a staying hand on his shoulder. “What the hell, Arnie?”
Arnold shook his head. “I don’t know any more’n you. They say they’re mail-order brides on their way here from back east somewheres.”
“Where back east? Hell, ever’thing’s ‘back east’ from where we are.”
“I don’t know, Lowell. It wasn’t my business. Said this is where they was headed, and I offered to bring ’em on out to save you a drive into town. It ain’t too far out of the way.”
Lowell stepped aside grudgingly. “You’ve never been one to trurn down Pilar’s lemonade and sopapillas. Reckon that’s why you offered so kindly.”
Arnold smiled. “No, sir. And I ain’t gonna make today any different.”
“Let’s go see what this is all about,” Lowell muttered. “Then I’ll decide if those women stay.”
Arnie chuckled. “Or, Miss Ellen will.”
It was impossible to remain proper and aloof, the women soon discovered, in Ellen Taylor’s home. What her husband lacked in manners, she made up for in spades, with her welcoming demeanor, the genuine friendliness of her smiles, and her God-given ability to draw them out of their awkward reserve.
“When was the last time you ladies had a proper meal?” she asked, assuming that, no matter what, their funds would be running low by the end of their journey.
Quick looks at one another darted around the room, and she turned a blind eye, as if she didn’t notice.
“Pilar, perhaps you and Luisa could make some sandwiches for everyone,” Ellen instructed. “I’ll pour the lemonade.”
“I’ve made tea, as well,” Pilar said with a quick nod as she excused herself and called to Luisa.
“Let’s move to the back porch, everyone,” Ellen said when she’d poured their glasses full of something to drink. “There’s a good breeze out there, usually.”
They’d all seated themselves except Lowell, who remained standing in the center of the porch looking around at all of the travelers, the driver, and the shotgun rider.
“Now I want some answers. Not to be rude—” he held out a hand as Ellen started to intervene, “—but I need to know what this is all about.”
Silence fell, and the others looked to the woman with blonde hair that was once curled, but now hung in tired, relaxed ringlets at the back, beneath her hat that looked as frayed and threadbare as her spirits. Her blue eyes still sparked with determination, and it was plain to see she was the one the others had come to depend on.
“Miss…” Ellen questioned, meeting the woman’s eyes.
“Thomas. Jessamyn Thomas. But I go by Jessie to my friends.”
Ellen smiled. “Jessamyn. What a lovely name. May I call you Jessie, then? Can you shed some light on this situation?”
Jessie nodded, and glanced at the others to be certain they approved of her speaking for all of them. “For various reasons, we had all ended up in Charleston, South Carolina, during the war, or at the war’s end. Also, we had all applied to the Potter Marriage Pairings Agency—”
“Mail-order brides,” Lowell muttered, raking Jessamyn with a disdainful gaze.
Seeing the fight come into her features, Ellen sent her husband a quelling look. She reached across one of the other women to touch Jessamyn’s hand. “Please, continue, my dear.”
Jessamyn turned away from Lowell’s steady glare to look at Ellen, effectively dismissing him. Ellen held back a smile.
“Yes. But we each have a reason for becoming a mail-order bride. And those reasons are for each of us to tell—our own stories—when the time is right.”
“But how did you come to be here? In Texas?” Ellen prodded.
Jessamyn lifted her chin. “We were…won. On a gamble. It-it was a card game, and Mr. Potter had nothing else to wager but part of his business holdings. Normally, he charges a fee to the—the prospective groom. And the groom would also pay travel expenses for—for the bride. So, Mr. Potter bet six brides.”
Lowell let out an indignant huff of disbelief. “And who would you have us believe would be stupid enough to wager a pot of money against six women who are desperate enough to—”
Jessamyn stood quickly as her anger got the best of her. “Mr. Taylor, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever man becomes the husband of any of us will be the winner of that game, I can promise you.” Her voice shook with fury. “We are all here of our own accord. We are here honestly. We were told that we had husbands waiting for us.” Her blue eyes narrowed, but by now, Lowell Taylor stood, slack-jawed at the young woman’s dressing down.
“As for the man who—as you say—was stupid enough to gamble on us? That would be a dear friend of your family—a Mr. Calum James Ross.”
Lowell’s eyes widened at this, but Jessamyn wasn’t finished.
“So you see, when we meet with Mr. Ross, he will be able to explain everything to your exacting satisfaction, I believe, Mr. Taylor.”
The room fell deathly quiet, and a muttered “Sandwiches are ready,” sounded from the doorway.
I don’t know if I could be a mail-order bride–could you?
Before I started writing An Agent for Dixie, book #73 in the popular Pinkerton Matchmaker series, I had a rather contemporary view of health spas and resorts. Of course, I had read about the waters at Bath in Somerset, England, from various regency titles over the years. But those books don’t go into much detail about what people actually did while they were there. I always assumed Bath was more like a popular destination where people went to be seen or to make connections.
Public baths were popular in Roman times and were often not located at a natural hot spring. Under the level of the pool, water was heated in boilers with wood fires. The location usually had three rooms with pools of different temperatures. A bather could use each in his choice of order or soak in only one. The warm pool was called the tepidarium. The caldarium contained hot water, and here slaves would rub perfumed oil over their masters and then scrape off oil and loose skin with a knife. The cold bath, where bathers swam, was called a frigidarium.
Over the years, public baths went in and out of fashion, related to fears of catching certain diseases, as well as times when they were seen as places where political dissidents met. In the 16th century, ancient medical texts were recovered in Italy containing information about balneology, the science of the therapeutic use of baths. Chemical composition of the water was analyzed to determine which natural spring might help which ailment. More and more, “taking the waters,” or balneotherapy, became a doctor’s directive for the patients who could afford to take time away from their daily live for “the cure.” Another reason was that doctors didn’t have other remedies, before the invention or development of modern medicines, to recommend for certain maladies. Better to prescribe something than to admit their lack of knowledge.
In the 1800s, especially in mountain locations, health resorts sprang up throughout Europe and the United States (more so in the 2nd half of the century) where thermal pools had been discovered. Some people experienced an improvement in their health by drinking the mineral waters (usually from cold springs). Others were told by doctors that the hot mineral waters helped conditions like gout, arthritis, muscle strains, skin conditions, rheumatism, and lumbago. Often, mud treatments, massage, or restricted diets became part of the regime.
Owners of the natural pools hoped people would come to the location and linger, so hotels and/or boarding houses were constructed near the thermal pools. In the grander hotels, entertainment and activities were offered for the times the guests would not be partaking of the waters. The amenities ran the gamut from nature walks to game of croquet and shuffleboard to concerts and balls, depending on the clientele. Because of the variety of offerings, some enthusiasts made a circuit of visiting several locations during the summer months.
Health resorts that appealed to the citizen possessing modest means offered camping spots or minimal shelter
and advertised the benefits of sleeping outdoors. Some churches conducted their revivals at certain resorts, and annual traditions were born.Armed with this research, I had great fun in inventing a resort town with a spa in the grand fashion of an Italian bathhouse.
Foreign diplomacy is the Zivon family business but Alexei resists the polite constraints, not lasting a year in law school. The four successful years working as a Pinkerton agent prove he was meant to follow a different path. Now, he’s faced with the biggest challenge of his career—training a female agent who has no practical skills. Alexei figures he can convince her to just observe as he solves the case, because nothing will interfere with his success rate.
Since childhood, Dixie LaFontaine lived in her older sister’s shadow but applying to become a Pinkerton Agent is her first major decision. Being matched with confident Alexei is intimidating, especially when the assigned case involves them pretending to be brother and sister at a health spa where jewelry has gone missing. Dixie has no qualms about pretending to be a French heiress needing care for her arthritis. Soon, she falls victim to Alexei’s charm and realizes that hiding her feelings might be as hard as ferreting out the thief among the spa’s clientele. Will Dixie focus on learning the skills of an agent, or will she concentrate on turning her marriage of convenience into a lasting love? You can check the book out on Amazon.
Have you ever been to a health spa or read about them. I’m giving away an e-copy of An Agent for Liana, book #63 in the “Pinkerton Matchmaker” series.
Loner Dale Claybourne is not afraid to face down thieves, swindlers and even murderers. But he quells at having to train a female agent. Gregarious Liana LaFontaine yearns for a taste of the adventurous life of being an agent. Impulsive by nature, Liana jumps into situations she doesn’t have the experience to handle. Dale fights his growing admiration for this French beauty while keeping close to guard her safety. At odds over almost everything, the pair has to solve the mystery of who is stealing from a Virginia City saloon—a task made even harder because of the wild attraction that shouldn’t be present in a marriage of convenience.
While reading my sister filly, Phyliss Miranda’s, blog last week on being a frugal housewife, I couldn’t help being thrown back into my childhood and remembering all the countless times my own mother had to be frugal while raising babies that kept coming almost every year. (To read Phyliss’ blog, click “1800’s Frugal Frontier Housewife”.)
Of course, it’s common knowledge most women settling in the west in the 1800’s had a tough life providing meals and clothing for their families, especially if they were homesteaders living remotely. If they couldn’t sew, knit, cook, bake, butcher stock, tend gardens, and so on, their families suffered. Lazy wasn’t an option! Ditto for women living in barely-settled towns, often with only a single mercantile or two to buy groceries and meat, provided they had working husbands or weren’t widows living on meager savings.
And granted, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, most women lived an easier life while they stayed home with the children and their husbands worked. Many women didn’t drive yet, and even if they did, most likely did not have a second car in the household. Families were larger than they are today. Mothers didn’t have the privilege of running to the grocery store every time an ingredient was missing from her pantry. Grocery stores were small, simply stocked, probably located in the neighborhood and vastly different than the super-markets we have today.
My mother was the iconic mother of the time, just as I described above. Fortunately for us kids, she grew up on her family’s farm and was a great cook, seamstress, and a dynamo when it came to having a clean house.
We lived simply, just like the other families on our street. We didn’t know any better, but we always had three square meals a day.
Here are some of the things she cooked for us:
Bologna, often sliced and fried. Bought in big chubs wrapped in red paper, bologna filled our bellies for years. Sometimes, mom would grate the bologna, add a few ingredients, and call it ham salad.
Sliced hot dogs. She’d split them in half and fry. Probably a substitute for bologna. If she kept the hot dog whole, I don’t recall her using a hot dog bun until years later. We’d use a slice of bread instead. Hot dog buns were available since the early part of the century, but no doubt she considered the bun an extravagance.
Jonathan apples. I barely remember any other fruit in the house but them, bought by the bagful. It was her go-to-snack for us kids. I remember the Jonathans as mushy (and yes, I know they make wonderful pies and crisp!) but to this day, I won’t eat one. Red Delicious was expensive and purchased only for special occasions, and there weren’t the varieties we have today.
Cream of Wheat. I never liked the grainy texture of Cream of Wheat or Coco Wheats, but it sure stuck to our ribs and made for a cheap breakfast. Growing up, I put oatmeal in the same category, but I do like oatmeal now, as long as it’s loaded with nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and milk, none of which, of course, WE had back then!
Mayonnaise sandwiches. Except she never bought mayo, but Miracle Whip. Occasionally, we’d have lunch meat (see bologna above), but I loved mayonnaise sandwiches, always on Wonder Bread. At school, we didn’t have cafeterias, chairs or tables to eat lunch. We sat on the church parking lot, on hard concrete, and never thought twice about it.
Powdered milk. Oh, we hated that! She’d try to sneak it on us kids, but we always knew. She’d stretch the powder by using less, which resulted in watery looking milk. Occasionally, she’d mix real milk in, which I suppose helped, but us kids always knew.
Chicken fryers. She never bought chicken pieces, which were more expensive, so farm girl that she was, she’d cut up whole chickens herself. I can’t even count the number of Sundays we had fried chicken for dinner.
Jell-O. Who among you didn’t have Jell-O made as salads with shredded carrots and chopped celery, fruit cocktail, or canned pears?
“Eat bread with it.” One of her favorite strategies to stretch the main course.
Spaghetti sauce. She never used canned or fresh tomatoes, but used tomato paste and water with the perfect amount of Italian seasonings. My mother’s spaghetti and meatballs (or featherbones) were family favorites, and even my Italian grandmother would have to agree my mother’s sauce was delicious!
Velveeta cheese. We never had cheddar, colby, Provolone, or anything like that. Always Velveeta, which we loved. Very versatile and back then, much cheaper than it is today.
Graham crackers and leftover frosting. If she made a cake and there was extra frosting, into graham crackers it would go, and it was a favorite cookie of ours. I made these many times myself, and now my daughters do, too.
Kool-Aid. I think sugar must’ve been fairly cheap back then, because we had a lot of Kool-Aid, the powder in a package kind. Never soda pop or even lemonade.
Wax paper. She would wrap our sandwiches for school lunches in a sheet of wax paper like a present. Later, wax paper came in sandwich sized sacks that you had to fold at the top. Plastic baggies didn’t come for years later, but even if they were available, she would’ve considered them extravagant.
Oh, I could go on and on. I’m sure you have memories of how you or your mom was frugal decades ago, or even now. How did she save pennies? What was your favorite frugal food?