Winnie’s Winners!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to provide feedback on my upcoming projects. Just discussing them made me really eager to tackle them!  I threw all the names in a hat and selected the following winners:

ABIGAIL

SHARON SPARKS

SHERRY MASTERS

TERESA L WEST

Congratulations ladies. Just let me know which of my books you’d like to have (either one of the three described in my post or any of the others you’ll find on my website) and contact me via my website with the title and your mailing info and I’ll get the books right on out to you.

What Should I Tackle Next?

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today’s post is a bit different than my usual post. Instead of sharing information I came across in my research I’m going to ask you to help me with a bit of research of the reader variety.

I have three older releases that I’ve received the rights back for and I’d like to reissue them as self-published editions. However, they all need to be gone through and updated and right now I’m working on a contracted book that has a firm deadline. That means I have limited time to focus on them and will need to do them as low-priority side projects. So I’d be interested in learning which of the books intrigues you the most. So please rank the following in the order in which they interest you – and there are no wrong answers.  I’ll select at least one person to receive their choice of any book from my backlist (and I still have several copies of the below out of print books I’ll throw in the mix as well)

Book 1 – this was first published in 2002 under the title Whatever It Takes. Here’s the original blurb:

Flirting With Perfection…

To adopt the little girl she’s come to love, widow Maddy Potter needs a fiancé, not another husband. Luckily, she’s found the ideal beau for her purpose:

Clayton Kinkaid agrees to court her, propose marriage, and then leave her at the altar as she requested. But when he arrives on her doorstep she knows their charade will never work. Clay is too handsome, too smooth… too potent. Who would believe such a charming, good-looking man wants to woo her?

Clay accepted Maddy’s proposal in order to repay a family debt of honor. He traveled to Missouri expecting to find a reserved widow, not a beautiful young woman—a woman who has the temerity to suggest he comb his hair differently, mess up his clothes a little, maybe even walk with a limp. She even has the audacity to instruct him on how to court her!  Clay knows he could be the perfect suitor. What he didn’t realize was that he’d soon long to be the perfect husband.

Book 2 – this was originally published in 2004 under the title A Will of Her Own. Here’s the 2004 blurb:

Will Trevaron’s grandfather demands that he leave America and return home to England to claim his title of Marquess. Will is expected to put himself on the marriage market but balks at the idea. He hits on the perfect solution: a marriage of convenience to Maggie Carter. A union with a “nobody from the colonies” would shock and horrify his stuffy family and rescue from poverty the woman who had once saved his life. Will didn’t count on getting three spirited children in the bargain though. And he didn’t expect to fall for his wife.

But as Maggie sets his household straight about what an independent lady from an ‘unsophisticated country’ would and would not accept, the new marquess begins to discover that his marchioness has a will of her own.

Book 3 – this one was originally published in 2010 under the title The Heart’s Song. The 2010 blurb reads:

Widower Graham Lockwood hasn’t stepped foot in church since he lost his family. So he can’t possibly say yes to his new neighbor’s request that he lead the hand bell choir. But widowed mother Reeny Landry is so hopeful—and her fatherless children so in need—that Graham agrees to help.

Suddenly, the man who closed himself off is coming out of his shell. And he finds himself acting the father figure to Reeny’s sweet, mute daughter and her loner son. But going from neighbor to husband is another matter altogether. Until a loving family teaches Graham to hear the heart’s song.

 

So there you have it, the three projects I’m itching to get to work on. Let me know which order you think I should tackle them in and why, and I’ll throw your name in the hat for the drawing!

 

Winnie’s Winner!

A big thank you to everyone who dropped by earlier in the week to talk about horsepower. I threw all the names in a virtual hat, and drew one out – the winner is

KRISTEN

Congratulations Kristen. Just select which book you want (you can find a list at https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ) and send the title and your mailing info out to me via the contact form on my website.

 

Horsepower – History and Trivia

 

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last moth I did a post on the Transcontinental Railroad. While I was doing my research I came across a little footnote on the term horsepower, one of those little trivia nuggets that led me down a rabbit trail. Today I thought I’d share the results of that little research sidetrack.

The concept of horsepower was created in the eighteenth century by a man named James Watt. And believe it or not, it was created as a last ditch marketing gimmick.

In the 1760s, Watt was tasked with repairing a defective steam engine. But Watt was an enterprising inventor and noted some inefficiency problems with the overall design that he thought he could correct.

So instead of completing his assigned task, Watt created a new and improved steam engine that was far and away better than anything on the market at that time. However he had trouble finding any customers willing to give his product a try. The problem was, previous steam engines had failed, in sometimes spectacular ways, making folks unwilling to replace their familiar and reliable horses with yet another version of the engine.

But Watt was not one to give up easily. He decided the answer to his marketing problem was to come up with a unit of measure that would allow him to compare his engine to horses. He poured a lot of time and thought into how he would do this. Watt eventually came up with a unit of measure that was defined as the power exerted by a single horse to move 33,000 pounds of material one foot in one minute. He dubbed this unit of measure the horsepower.

 

His calculations went something like this: He had observed ponies at a coal mine and  figured out that on average the animals were able to move 220 pounds of product over a mineshaft 100 feet long in one minute. By his calculation, that was equivalent to 22,000 pounds over one foot in one minute. Then he made one additional tweak to his calculation – he figured a horse could do 50 percent more work than a pony, thus his new horsepower measurement would equal 33,000 foot-pounds of force per minute.

As you can see, the manner in which he computed his horsepower measurement was not truly scientific, nor was it entirely accurate, but the important thing to Watt was that it gave him a method to convey the power of his engine in a manner people could visualize. Armed with this new way of measuring his engine’s power, he claimed his machine had the power of ten horses, in other words ten horsepower. It worked – people were receptive to this new way of looking at his engine and so were willing to reconsider the value of his machine.  This tactic proved so successful that his competitors began using horsepower in their advertisements and sales pitches too.  And this unscientific measurement that was developed as a marketing tactic is still in use today, more than 240 years later.

A couple of additional bits of trivia

  • Because of The Watt Engine’s rapid incorporation into many industries, many consider the Watt engine to be one of the defining developments of the Industrial Revolution.
  • James Watt was later recognized for his contributions to science and industry, the unit of power in the International System of Units, the watt, was named for him.
  • An actual horse’s peak power has been measured at  just under 15hp. However, for prolonged periods of time, the average horse can’t deliver even one horsepower.

There you have it, a short accounting of what I discovered about the origins of the term horsepower. So what do you think, did any of the information in this post surprise you?  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of any of my backlist books.

Winnie’s Winner

A big thank you to everyone who stopped by to tell me about their train adventures on Monday. The winners of their chaice of any of my backlist books are:

February Jones

Linda Klager

Congratulations to both of you. Just check out my list of books (https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ), then contact me via my website with the title you selected and your mailing info.

The Transcontinental Railroad

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. According to my This Day In History Calendar, today is the 152nd anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869), an event that had a profound effect on everything from commerce to the environment of this country.

So today I thought I’d share a bit of history and trivia around this event.

First a timeline of key events:

  • 1832 – Dr. Hartwell Carver made his first push for construction of a railroad to connect the east coast to the west coast. That proposal didn’t make it through, but Dr. Carver didn’t give up and over the next several years continued to write articles supporting his proposal.
  • 1853 – Congress commissions a survey of 5 possible routes. These were completed by 1855
  • 1862 – The Pacific Railroad Bill signed by Abraham Lincoln. The act offered government incentives to assist “men of talent, men of character, men who are willing to invest” in developing the nation’s first transcontinental rail line.
  • 1863 (Jan) – The Central Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Sacramento. They lay the first rail in October of that same year.
  • 1863 (Dec) – The Union Pacific Railroad breaks ground in Omaha. But because of the Civil War it isn’t until July of 1865 that the first rail on the eastern end is laid.
  • 1869 – Transcontinental Railroad completed

Now on to some other Interesting facts and trivia:

  • The railroad line followed a route similar to that used as the central route of the Pony Express primarily because this route had been proven navigable in winter.
  • There were two main railroad companies involved in constructing the historic line. The Central Pacific Railroad received the contract to construct the line from Sacramento to points east. The Union Pacific Railroad was awarded the contract  to forge the path from Council Bluffs, Iowa west. As noted above, construction began in 1862 and in the early days the place where the two legs would meet up and become one was not decided.
  • As the project neared completion, President Ulysses Grant set Promontory Point Utah as the place where the two rails would meet. On May 10, 1869, the final spike was driven and the Transcontinental Railroad was deemed complete.
  • The final spike driven is often called the Golden Spike. However the spike was actually gold plated, a solid gold spike would have been much too soft to drive into the rail.
  • The total length of the rail line was 1,776 miles. 1086 miles was laid by the Union Pacific crew and 690 miles by Central Pacific. At the time of its completion it was one of the longest contiguous railroad in the world
  • The chosen route required 19 tunnels to be drilled through the mountains. This was no easy task during this time period and it managed to push forward barely a foot per day. Even when  nitroglycerin was introduced to blast through the rock it only increased their progress to 2 feet per day.
  • When completed, the Transcontinental Railroad allowed passengers to cross the country in just one week as opposed to the four to six months it had taken before.
  • The fare to travel from Omaha to San Francisco was $65 for a third class bench seat, $110 for a second class seat and $136 if you wanted to ride first class in a Pullman sleeping car.

And there you have it, a short and sweet lesson on the Transcontinental Railway. So what about you, do you have any experience with trains and railways you’d like to share? If not, would you like to ride a train someday?

My only personal experience was on a vacation to the Grand Canyon – we road the train from Williams AZ to the south rim, a trip of about 2 hours. It was a really fun addition to our vacation experience.

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a choice of any book from my backlist.

 

Winnie’s Winners

Thanks to everyone who joined me Monday to speak about our love (or not) of grilled cheese sandwiches. I threw all the names in a figurative hat and the names selected are:

Patricia B.
Kathy Bailey
Congratulations ladies.  Select which book from my backlist you’d like to have (You can find a list at https://www.winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ) and contact me via my website with the title and your mailing address and I’ll get it right on out to you.

The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Who doesn’t love the humble but oh-so-yummy grilled cheese sandwich.  Its ooey-gooey goodness not only warms our insides but (at least for me) brings back warm memories of childhood around the dinner table. And, according to my National Day Calendar, April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, so today I thought I’d offer up some history and fun facts related to this well-loved comfort food.

  • It turns out, the idea of taking bread and cheese and heating them together into a quick and tasty meal goes at least as far back as the ancient Romans. However, the grilled cheese sandwich as we know it today is credited to James L. Craft, who created a method to keep cheese from spoiling quickly. With the advent of commercially available sliced bread in the 1920s he decided it was a match made in culinary heaven!
  • Early versions of the grilled cheese sandwich were made open-faced with only one slice of bread and the cheese was usually grated.
  • Schools eagerly adopted the grilled cheese sandwich, more often than not pairing it with tomato soup. It was a cheap and tasty meal option to fulfill dietary requirements for both protein and vitamin C.
  • Prior to the 1960s the grilled cheese sandwich was often referred to as a “cheese dream”.
  • In 1994 Diana Duyser, a work from home jewelry designer, took a bite from her grilled cheese sandwich then stopped when she saw an image of the Virgin Mary on the toasted portion of her sandwich. She kept the rest of thee sandwich for ten years then listed it on eBay. The winning bid was $2800, placed by Golden Palace, an online casino.
  • The New York restaurant Serendipity 3 holds the record for producing the most expensive edible grilled cheese sandwich. The bread contains champagne and gold flakes and the sandwich includes truffle butter and a rare Caciocavallo Podolico cheese. The cost of this sandwich in 2017 was $214.
  • In 2006 competitive eater Joey Chestnut set a record by eating 47 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes.

Some fun notes from various surveys:

  • The most popular pairing of the grilled cheese sandwich is with tomato soup.
  • The US cities that rank highest on the “grilled cheese lovers” scale (according to UberEats) are Baltimore, San Diego and Cincinnati.
  • By one estimate, an online search for “how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich” will yield over one million results.
  • According to a 2018 market study, Americans consume over 2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches a year.
  • The most popular cheeses for grilled cheese sandwiches (in the US) are American and cheddar.
  • Another survey reports that grilled cheese lovers are not only more generous than their non-grilled cheese lover counterparts but they are also more adventurous and travel more.
  • Food & Wine ranks the grilled cheese sandwich from San Francisco’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen as the tastiest. The chef is an MIT engineer named Heidi Gibson.

 

And of course this post wouldn’t be complete without a  recipe so here is a version for my own personal favorite grilled cheese sandwich

Ingredients:

  • Pepper jack cheese – a thick slab or a generous heaping of shredded cheese
  • 2 slices of bread – whatever you have on hand will work but I prefer sourdough
  • Butter seasoned with a touch of garlic salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Brown mustard

Directions

  • Preheat your skillet on a low heat – I like to use a well-seasoned iron skillet but a regular skillet with a bit of butter will do
  • Spread seasoned butter on one side of each piece of bread (slather it on, don’t skimp!)
  • Add a very thin layer of brown mustard to the unbuttered side of ONE slice of bread (just a enough to flavor but not overpower)
  • Place the cheese on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread
  • Place the bread and cheese, open-faced style, in the skillet with the bread side down and cover for a few minutes, allowing the cheese to melt. Once the cheese starts to melt add the second slice of bread and cook uncovered until both sides are a nice golden brown.
  • Plate and Enjoy!

So let’s discuss. Is there any of the points above that surprised you? Do you like grilled cheese sandwiches? Do you have a favorite recipe?  Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for winners’ choice of any of my backlist books.

 

Winnie’s Winners

Hi folks. Thanks so much to all of you who dropped by earlier in the week to discuss the love of paper dolls with me. Because the response was so great I decided to select a dozen winners. And without further ado, here are the names:

Debra Guyette
Janice Hopkins
Julie Butler
Karen Humphries
Kimberly Murdock
Lori Smanski
Melanie Backus
Paula Shreckhise
Stacey Ulferts
Teresa West
Tina Wayman
Veda Funk

Congratulations to all!

Please select which book you’d like to have (you can find a list on my website at winniegriggs.com/booklist.html ), then contact me via my website with the title and your mailing info and I’ll get the book on out to you.

A Short History of Paper dolls

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I actually had a completely different post in mind for you today, and had it half written, but other obligations and procrastination got the better of me. I did some research earlier in the week but didn’t get started drafting the post until this afternoon and got to feeling, shall we say, a bit under the weather before I could complete it. So instead I’m reviving a older post on a fun topic.  And by way of apology I’ll be giving away multiple copies of my books (I haven’t quite decided how many yet).

Once again I was trying to come up with some activity or thing the children in my current WIP could use to amuse themselves.  One idea I thought of was paper dolls.  But how common were they in 1894?  So off I went to do some research.  And here is a summary of what I found
First of all, identifying the date of the appearance of the first paper dolls depends on your definition of what a paper doll is.  As early as AD 900 the Japanese were using paper figurines in purification ceremonies.  In the thirteenth century the Chinese used large stick-mounted figures in their puppet shows.  But most historians agree that paper dolls as we currently think of them originated in the late eighteenth century when French dressmakers employed them as a way to illustrate the latest fashions to their customers.  Today you can find a rare set of  hand painted figures from the 1780s housed in the Winerhur Museum in Delaware.

In Europe, many of the early sets of paper dolls depicted actors and actresses of the stage and there were separately crafted toy stages to go with them.

In Pioneer America, however, paper was a prized resource and any child lucky enough to get paper dolls treasured them greatly.  They were carefully pressed between the pages of books or placed in a sturdy box.

In 1810, the S&J Fuller Company of London produced the first commercially popular paper doll.  Named ‘Little Fanny’, the two-dimensional doll was printed in a 15 page book that boasted seven distinct figures.  In addition to the various poses and outfits, the book included a moral tale for the edification of the children to whom it was presented.  Two years later, J. Belcher of America printed a similar doll with accompanying moral tale, this one named Little Henry.   Within ten years paper dolls were a popular toy for children in both America and Europe.

In the early days, basic paper dolls were created in various states of dress.  Some came modestly dressed with permanently painted on clothing, while others were attired only in undergarments.  Also, the early versions were missing the tabs for affixing the clothing that are common place today.  Before these came along,  children carefully applied tiny drops of sealing wax to the paper ‘clothes’ as a temporary glue.

Before chroma-lithography came into common usage, paper dolls were colored by hand.  Civil War widows often supplemented depleted incomes by embellishing the printed dolls .  However, even after the advent of lithography, some of the manufacturers continued to print in black and white for children to color themselves.

In 1856, Anson Randolph published the book Paper Dolls and How to Make Them, A Book for Little Girls.  Inside the pages were illustrations of dolls and clothing to cut out and play with.  According to The New York Evangelist:

“Paper Dolls and How to Make Them, is a book of a thousand for little girls. It contains instructions how to make those ingenious and beautiful little paper dolls, clothed with every variety of costume, and every style of appearance, which are sometimes sold at the shops. The instructions are so plain, and the plates giving illus­trations so numerous, that every little girl can learn the art, and in learning it, will have a perpetual field for the exercise of taste and ingenuity. The study is exceed­ingly attractive, and will furnish means of enjoyment to the nursery and fireside that may well alternate with books and plays. The author has displayed great tact in giving the descriptions, and a genial loving desire to promote the happiness of children — a trait which we place among the highest virtues, in anybody. As there is nothing of the kind in market, and opens a bound­less field of occupation and enjoyment, the little book must become a favorite.”

(Ah-ha – this is something I can use in my book!)

In 1859 Godey’s Lady’s Book became the first magazine to include a paper doll in its pages.  Other magazines quickly followed suit, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Home Companion.  These dolls carried such names as Lettie Lane, Polly Pratt, and the famous Kewpie Dolls, and often included figures comprising full families, including servants and pets.   The most popular of these ‘magazine dolls’ came along in 1951 from McCall’s Magazine – Betsy McCall.

As paper dolls grew in popularity, manufacturers of household goods saw them as a great medium to promote their products.  Some of the products advertised include Pillsbury flour, Singer sewing machines, Hood’s Sarsaparilla, Clark threads and Lyon’s coffee.  These dolls were produced either as die cut items or as printed cards to cut out.  They were produced in large quantities and many examples can still be found today.  J&P Coats company (now Coats and Clark) took this a step farther when they came up with a unique take on the paper doll.  There were five different dolls available to purchasers of Spool and Crochet Cotton.  The unique feature of these dolls were that they had mechanical heads.  The head piece was separate from the body and was actually constructed in a wheel formation that contained three heads painted on both sides, so that the doll could be viewed with any one of six expressions, and even some slight variations on hairstyles.  This head was attached to the body of the doll at the neck with an eyelet,  The clothing for these ‘mechanical paper dolls’ were constructed with a fold and slipped over the head in the same fashion as a ‘real’ dress.

Another group that jumped on the paper doll band wagon were newspapers.  In the 1890s the Boston Herald printed two paper dolls, a blonde and a brunette along with instructions for ordering additional dolls.  They kept the interest alive by printing clothing for the dolls in subsequent issues.  The Boston Globe, not to be outdone, began printing their own series of dolls and clothing.  After the turn of the century a Teddy Bear paper doll series made an appearance in the paper as well.  By 1916 several other papers had begun following suit.  During the Great Depression, newspaper produced paper dolls enjoyed a huge comeback.  Many of the characters were pulled directly from the comic papers, characters such as Dick Tracy, Li’l Abner, the Katzenjammer Kids and Brenda Starr.

The 1940s and 1950s was the advent of America’s romanticized love of the Wild West and this was reflected in paper dolls as well.  Many sets of paper dolls were crafted after characters from western movies and television shows, and of the imagined life at a dude ranch.

By the early 1960s, Barbie had appeared on the paper doll scene and quickly became the most popular paper doll among American children of all time, a title she still holds at the time of this posting.

I admit, despite the popularity today of all the electronic gizmos, I have fond memories of the hours of creative play my sister and I had with paper dolls and fashion dolls exercising our imaginations to bring the toys to life.

So what about you?  Did you play with paper dolls as a child or is there a child in your life who did?  Do you have a particular memory you’d like to share?

Leave a comment to get your name tossed in the hat for a chance to win your choice of any of my books.