Winnie’s Winners

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to celebrate the first day of Autumn with me – I enjoyed reading all of your responses.  I threw all the names in a cyber hat and drew out

Cherie J

Laurie Gommermann

Congratulations! You’ve won choice of any book in my backlist and a fun little Fall surprise 🙂
When you figure out which book you want, send me the title and your mailing info and I’ll get you prize on out to you.

And for another chance to win, I’m currently participating in a Book Sweeps with a fabulous giveaway package worth $400+ that includes an eReader and 39 books.  You can see details and enter HERE

 

Fall Fun Facts and a Recipe

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today is the official first day of Autumn. That means the weather gets crisper, the days get shorter, the foliage gets more colorful and pumpkin spice can be found creatively added to any number of beverages and dishes.

Shanna’s post yesterday gave you lots of fabulous information on how to entertain and decorate with Autumn in mind (and if you missed it you really ought to go back and read it!) So today I thought I’d share some fun facts about Autumn and also provide a coy of one of my favorite recipes.

Autumn Fun Facts 

There have been some interesting statistics gathered about kids born in Autumn

  • They might live longer. This comes from a study conducted by the University of Essex in Great Britain. In fact they are statistically more likely to live to be 100 than those born in any other season
  • They are more likely to do better in school according to a Department for Education report that looked at the 2012-2013 school year.
  • They are also more likely to be taller and to excel at athletics. One explanation for this is that their mothers probably had much more exposure to sun when pregnant, which helped them produce more vitamin D, which in turn helped give their kids stronger bones.
  • But the news isn’t all good.
    One study conducted by National Jewish Health found that those born in Autumn have a higher risk of developing eczema, food allergies, hay fever and asthma in later years that those born during other seasons of the year.

One of the things people often mention  when speaking of why they like Autumn is the spectacular foliage. Here are some things related to that you may not know

  • Leaves don’t really ‘change colors’. The fall colors are actually always there, but their appearance is based on the amount of sunshine they get (or don’t get). Sunshine enhances the chlorophyll inherent in leaves, which is a natural chemical that makes them green. But with shorter days and less sunshine, chlorophyll isn’t produced as much, making the green fade and allowing the other colors to push through.
  • The depth of color you see in the Autumn is based on how much sugar and sap is trapped in the leaves – that’s why maple leaves are such a vibrant red.
  • Evergreen trees remain green throughout the winter because their leaves and needles are coated with a thick waxy substance and they contain materials that prevent them from freezing
  • Leaves fall from trees in the Autumn because of a hormone. As they are exposed to less and less sunlight they begin to produce a hormone that encourages the growth of a cell between the leaf and the stem. This basically forces the leaf to push away from the stem and fall off. And whatever doesn’t fall before winter arrives freezes and dies.

Okay, enough trivia. On to the recipe I promised you. Confession time – I LOVE soups. I can (and often do!) eat them several times a week year round. But soups are especially yummy and comforting as the weather turns crisper.  Below is a very hearty cold weather soup that I just love.

Taco Soup   

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans whole kernel corn
  • 2 cans Rotel w/chilies
  • 2 cans pinto or kidney beans
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 pkg dry hidden valley ranch salad dressing

Directions

  • Brown meat with onion. Drain and return to pot
  • Add everything else to meat without draining vegetables
  • Simmer for at least one hour. Add water as needed

NOTES:

  • If salt is a concern you can find NO or LOW Sodium options for most of these ingredients
  • When serving you can  top with cheese, tortilla chips and/or avocado if desired
  • Leftovers can be frozen.

So did any of my Autumn fun facts surprise you? Do you have a favorite fall recipe you’d like to share? Leave a comment to be interested in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist as well as a fun surprise.

 

And you’re also invited to join me and the rest of the Love Train authors for a “welcome autumn” celebration today at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2143576775865837. The fun begins at 8 a.m. Pacific Time (9 Mountain, 10 Central, 11 Eastern). It will be a day full of fun, games, giveaways, and more!

Winner for Chris Martin’s Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to give Chris a warm welcome. A names were thrown into a cyber-hat and the following name was selected:

ALICE

Congratulations!!  Use the Contact form on Chris’s website at http://chrismartinauthor.com/contact   to get in touch with Chris to work out the details for getting your prize to you.

A Cowboy To Love Again

Gina Middleton took her heart to San Francisco, leaving Zach Rivers behind. After high school graduation, she accepted the first scholarship she could wrangle and headed to university, hoping Zach would follow her.

He would have if he could have. But family troubles kept him at River Ranch as he struggled to save the family legacy.

After a disastrous marriage and divorce, Gina is back in Sagebrush as the high school’s vice principal.

When Zach finds himself in the vice principal’s office, will he pass on this second chance at love, or will he make the grade this time before it’s too late?

 

You can Purchase from your favorite online retailer HERE

Winnie’s Winners!!

Thanks to everyone who came by to play the Caption This game on Monday. I had so much fun reading all of the fun and creative lines y’all came up with.  As promised I randomly selected four names and they are:

Lana J Burton

Judy Sexton

Cheryl C.

BN100

Congratulations!!  If you would each contact me via my website with the email ID you want your $5 gift card sent to as well as the title of the book you want and your mailing address I’ll get your prizes on out to you

It’s Game Day!

Hi all, Winnie Griggs here and I’m this month’s host for Game Day.  So I thought we’d play a little game of Caption This.

Simply select one (or more!) of the pictures below and create a caption for it.  Have fun with it – let your imagination run wild. There are no wrong answers – just be sure you indicate which picture your caption goes with  🙂

I’ll be picking 4 winners – each will get a $5 Amazon gift card and their choice of any of my books.

So Ready, Set, CAPTION!!

 

#1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4

 

 

 

 

 

Winnie’s Winners!!

 

Thanks to everyone who stopped by this week to discuss favorite vacation memories with me – it was fun to read all your responses. I tossed all the names in a hat and pulled out these three:

Kathy Rader

Kia B

Teresa F

Congratulations to each of you – you’ve won your choice of any book from my backlist. Once you’ve decided which one you’d like to have, send the title along with your mailing info to me via the contact page on my website – http://www.winniegriggs.com

My Branson Vacation

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. A few weeks ago we took a family vacation to Branson, Mo.

Some of my kids had been there before but I hadn’t so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, we had a fabulous time!  Nine of us took the trip and seven of us stayed in one condo while two stayed at another which helped extend the time together.

We tried to cram as many of the attractions as we could into the three days we were there. Here’s a list of how we spent our time.

We spent a day at Silver Dollar City (Unfortunately no one took pictures). Several members of the group took advantage of the rides – I didn’t. But there were lots of craft demonstrations ( glass blowers, wood working, pottery, etc.) and fun shops to keep me happily entertained.  One of the things I found that I just couldn’t pass up was this dragonfly puzzle box. I love dragonflies and collect trinket boxes so it seemed custom made just for me 🙂

 

We caught the Sight & Sound Theater’s production of Jesus. The production value was absolutely AMAZING! I had an aisle seat and there were live animals – sheep, pigs, horses, camels, birds – some of which ran up and down the aisles close enough to touch. And the sets themselves were active, realistic and altogether fabulous.

 

We toured Wild World where there were many more animals than I expected – sharks, reptiles, birds, creepy crawlers and lots of furry critters. The highlight of this particular outing was when three members of our group were able to get up close and personal with some lemurs.

 

We also stopped in at the Titanic Museum. The tour started with the staff handing everyone a bording ticket complete with the name of an actual passenger who sailed aboard the Titanic. The ticket contained personal info on that passenger including name, position, ticket class and some other notes. At the end of the tour you found out if ‘you’ survived or not. I was the ladies maid for a dowager and assigned to second class.
I learned so much during the tour. At one point we were able to stick our hands in a vat of liquid that duplicated the temperature and density of the water surrounding the wreck – Brrrrr!

Here I am standing in front of a reproduction of the grand staircase. (By the way, my character was among the survivors. 🙂 )

 

Another place we visited was the Butterfly Palace. It was so fun to go inside the plant conservatory and let the butterflies approach and feed on the blossoms the staff provided.
There was also a great little mirror maze tucked inside the same building. I would probably still be wandering around looking for a way out if I hadn’t had my daughter and grandson there to help me find my way 🙂

 

But my favorite part of the whole trip was our visit to Top of the Rock. There is a two and a half mile nature trail that you can navigate on your own via a golf cart. The scenery was fabulous – rock formations, a cave, waterfalls, wildlife, streams, covered bridges.

There were also these wonderful wildlife medallions embedded in the metal fencing and bridge headers along the trail that I found were so intriguing. I’ve been trying to do a little research into them but so far haven’t had much luck.

 

We capped off the vacation by having a game night our last evening there. We ordered pizzas and played a rousing game of Mexican Train dominoes. Since we are a highly competitive bunch it was loud and energetic and fabulously fun!

 

So there you have it, our first family vacation since before the pandemic.

What was your own favorite vacation? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

And don’t forget to come by on Thursday to help us celebrate our 15th birthday!!

 

Spread  the word – there are going to be BIG prizes and BIG fun!

Play Fifteen Filly Fact or Fib? and you could win!

Happy Birthday to us!

Upcoming Release and a Recipe.

 

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

My upcoming release, Talulla, is part of the Love Train series. Pam and Shanna have already spoken of it in their posts but just as a reminder all the books in the series feature a hero and heroine who are traveling on board a Union Pacific train and get together with the help of a matchmaking conductor.

In my book, Tally and Max are the heroine and hero. They were childhood friends but a tragic accident that resulted in the death of Tally’s brother drove them apart. Tally convinces her father to send her away to boarding school halfway across the country and she’s never looked back.

Twelve years later Tally’s father convinces her to come home to fetch some pearls she’s inherited.  Max, now a widowed father traveling with his seven year old daughter, coincidentally (or is it??) is on the same train. Thanks to the conductor, Max and Tally end up in the same Pullman section.

Almost the entirety of the first half of the book takes place on the train, and Max and Tally are in close proximity for the two and a half day trip which forces them to interact. BUT Max’s daughter is with them which means they have very little opportunity to get to the heart of their conflict and their building attraction.

So when I finally got them to their destination I had to come up with at least one  scene where a reluctant heroine and my single father hero would find themselves alone together for several hours. I finally settled on a berry picking outing.

Which led me to do some research. I know all about the berries that grow wild here in north Louisiana, but I had no idea what grows in Wyoming. My research quickly led me to the boysenberry, which is apparently similar to the blackberries that grow around here. That scene turned out to be not only one of my favorite in the book, but story-wise it proved to be quite fruitful, on several fronts.  🙂

Anyway, while I was looking at info on the boysenberry I found quite a few online recipes, some of which looked quite yummy.  And reading through some of them made me think about my recipe for blackberry cobbler, a recipe I thought I’d share with you.  This is one I got from a friend many, many years ago and then tailored a bit over the years for my own taste.  Hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
  • An additional 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced strawberries

 

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Pour 1/2 cup melted butter into an 8-in. square baking dish and make sure the bottom is evenly covered.
  • Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl until well mixed then add to butter in baking pan.
  • Combine the berries, the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Toss until it is well mixed. Spoon berry mixture over the batter in the baking dish.
  • Bake approximately 45-50 minutes, until the topping is a golden brown and the fruit is tender. (The berries will sink beneath the batter as it cooks)
  • Serve warm. Delicious topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

TALULLA

Will returning home bring Talulla the peace that’s eluded her for half her life?

Ten-year-old Talulla watched in horror as her beloved older brother fell through the ice while trying to save her. Thanks to the quick actions of Max, her brother’s closest friend, she survived. Her brother didn’t. When she overhears Max tell her father that she’s to blame, Talulla feels betrayed by the two people she thought she could most trust.

Unable to bear their disappointment, she begs to be sent to a boarding school halfway across the country, and in twelve years she’s never looked back. Until now.

Widowed father Max is traveling home with his seven-year-old daughter. Unfortunately, a bad case of travel sickness overtakes the little girl, and Max turns to the conductor for help. When the man finds a passenger willing to share her Pullman section, Max is relieved until he discovers his daughter’s benefactor is Talulla, a woman who abandoned her own father and whose last words to Max were an impassioned I hate you.

Can these two find a way to push past their mutual distrust to regain the friendship they once shared? And perhaps something more…

 

Pre-order HERE

 

Winnie’s Winner!!

Thanks to everyone who stopped in to discuss jewelry art with me this week. It was such fun having so many of you drop by. I threw all the names in a hat and drew out

ELLIE

Congratulations Ellie. Just email me your mailing info and I’ll get the Book Lover picture on out to you.

Jewelry Art and a Giveaway

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today I thought I’d do a post on one of my more recent hobbies – jewelry art.

I first stumbled on this when visiting a small town Texas festival. I walked inside one of the vendor booths and saw all of this beautiful metallic and bejeweled artwork everywhere. There were Christmas pictures that featured trees, wreaths and angels. There were romantic pictures that featured hearts, flowers and gowns. There were message pictures that featured names, occupations and short sayings. Everywhere I looked there was something new to delight the eye and each of them were entirely unique. And what made it even more fun was when I looked closer I could see that each picture was made up of dozens of pieces of jewelry.

I didn’t take pictures that day (and kicked myself for that later!), but if you want to see some examples, you can look HERE and HERE.

My mind immediately went to the box in my dresser where I tossed all of my broken jewelry, the earrings that no longer had matches and the beads and rhinestones that had fallen from their settings. At last! Justification for holding on to all those seemingly useless bits and bobs. And for the costume jewelry I no longer wanted.

The first thing I tried my hand at was a Christmas tree. While it didn’t come out as polished as some of the ones I saw at the festival I think it looks pretty good ?.

I’ve made several others since then but have given them away and don’t have pictures. But I also tried my hand at forming words which resulted in this Book Lover one.

I eventually ran out of jewelry and put the hobby aside. But I still look for inexpensive pieces when I’m in thrift stores or at garage sales and estate sales and am gradually rebuilding my stores. So who knows, I may give it another go soon.

So what do you think? Have you seen examples of this particular craft before? Have you tried it yourself? Would you like to?

I’ll select one person from among those who leave comments to send the Book Lover picture to. (And in the interest of full disclosure there are several glue stains on the backboard)