Hey, y’all! It’s always such an honor to spend the day with you!
One of my favorite themes to write about is God’s love, and the way He guides us in His plan if we’re intentional about seeking His will in each decision. We all want to know we’re in God’s will, right? That He will bless the outcome of whatever we’re setting out to accomplish. But I’ve always tended to think that being in God’s will would make things easier. Make the road a bit smoother. So when life would become exceedingly tough, I would sometimes question how I had stepped outside of God’s will. Where did I go wrong?
Book two in my current series, Love’s Mountain Quest, is the story of a mother’s journey to saver her 5-year-old son who’s been kidnapped by a gang of thieves. Can you imagine how that must feel as a mother? The terror of not knowing what your child might be facing. The horror of the situation being so far out of your control.
She enlists the help of Isaac Bowen, a mountain man who’s helped her once before. Together they set of to recover her son and the friend who was stolen with him. I love Joanna’s tenacity to take action in the face of fear. Ever heard the phrase, “Cowgirl up?” This woman knew what that meant!
One of the things God showed me at a heart-deep level as I wrote this story was how critical the hard times are to reaching joy. Not just important to properly appreciate the blessings God brings to us, but we can’t actually reach the good until we’ve traveled through the rough parts. Our lives are a journey, and no matter how dark the current path may feel, I can cling to the fact that my Father will bring me joy and blessings, as long as I stay on the path He’s placed me. As long as I seek His face and yearn to model His righteousness, I can look forward to the gifts He plants along the journey.
That, my friend, brings me hope!
Today, I’m excited to give away a copy of book one in the series, Hope’s Highest Mountain. The winner will be randomly selected from those who leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you, what are some of the blessings that have come your way from hard times in your life?
As I’ve said a time or six dozen, my maternal grandparents were Iowa dairy farmers. My grandfather was a short, stoic German man who possessed a loud voice and strong opinions. Getting to know him and earn his respect wasn’t always easy, as my husband, Kevin discovered.
My Grandpa Walter saw my husband as a city kid who knew nothing of farm life. (Which was true.) As a child someone shared an animal proverb with Kevin. When a cat washes behind its ear rain is on the way. On one visit, Kevin noted one of my grandmother’s barn cats washing behind its ear, and shared the weather prediction with my grandfather. My grandfather naturally thought this city kid couldn’t know what he was talking about. A while later, Kevin set off to pick up my mother a hour or so away and asked my grandfather to ride shotgun. On their way back to the farm, the skies opened up. Not only did it rain, it poured. One of those driving rains that makes it difficult to see when driving.
That day proved to be a turning point for my husband and grandfather. Kevin showed my grandfather he knew something about his world, and my grandfather developed a new respect for my husband. From that day on until the day my grandfather died, cats washing behind the ears predicting rain became a running joke between them.
Farmers and ranchers often looked to animals for indications of the weather, and reliance on these methods isn’t as silly as it sounds. While people might not have known when creating the proverbs, now science often explains the animals’ behaviors. For example, cats ears may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure causing them to wash behind them when rain is coming.
Just for fun and to hopefully make your smile, here are some other animal proverbs from the Farmer’s Almanac.
If a cat sits with its back to a fire or sleeps with all four paws tucked under, bad weather is coming.
When a cat licks its fur against the grain, prepare for a hailstorm.
When a cat sneezes, rains is on the way.
But cats aren’t the only animal meteorologists…
If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather should be fair. If it stands with its tail to the east, the weather will turn bad.
When a dog eats grass or sheep turn into the wind, expect rain. (Based on how often my dogs eat grass, I should be building an ark, so I’m not a big believer in this one! ?)
If a bull leads the cows to pasture, bet on rain. But if the ladies lead the bull, the weather is uncertain.
The more brown a wooly bear caterpillar, the milder the winter.
(This one isn’t super practical since it requires a
tape measure. I can’t see many farmers measuring mole holes! ?) If the mole hole is 2 ½ feet deep, expect severe weather. If it’s 2 feet deep, it won’t be as severe, and 1 foot deep indicates a mild winter.
When pigs gather leaves and straw in the fall, prepare for a cold winter.
Fat rabbits in October and November indicate a long, cold winter.
Bats flying late at night mean fair weather.
Wolves howl more before a storm.
Predict the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps.
Hornets building their nests high in a tree means a snowy winter.
Cows laying under a tree in the morning means rain is on the way.
And from the plants:
When leaves “turn their back to you” and curl somewhat, watch out for rain.
To be entered in today’s giveaway for the Live Happy sink soap mate, a llama car air freshener and a copy of A Cure for the Vet, leave a comment on your weather proverb.
One of the things I enjoy in writing is the research. I love learning new things. For my current series, Bachelors & Babies, I needed to learn about childbirth and childcare in the 19th Century.
During the 1800s, infant mortality was shockingly high. Many died before the age of one, and a relative few lived to adulthood. Drownings, falls, snake bites, accidents, diseases, bad water, spoiled food due to the lack of refrigeration, poor hygiene, poor diet—the causes were numerous.
My hero in my second Bachelor & Babies book, JARED, was a rancher who happened to enjoy inventing things, such as a recording device like the phonograph invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. After the arrival of triplets in the household, Jared’s interests veered toward ways to aid mothers. First, he created a window box made with a wooden frame and using chicken wire for the top and sides. The box fit into an open window, with the bulk of it sticking outside. The infant could enjoy sunshine and fresh air without insects and be relatively safe (have to wonder about that).
He also created a walker much like those sold today. This wasn’t too unusual. Walkers were used back beyond the 17th century. His other inventions included a swing that resembled a porch swing except with a baby bed and a mechanism to make it rock. He also designed folding highchairs. The key was to make these items safe enough for the child and then pray they would be used safely.
At the time, when my story takes place (1879), baby formula had yet to be invented. There were baby bottles (some called murder bottles—see bottle like baby’s face & picture of several bottles—because of harmful bacteria housewives couldn’t easily wash away.) Rubber nipples tended to develop cracks that harbored bacteria. They could also release carcinogens and cause allergic reactions. Although the first rubber nipple was patented in 1845, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that a practical rubber nipple for nursing bottles was developed.
Nineteenth Century medicines, even those made for children, tended to contain shocking levels of alcohol and opium. Bayer Pharmaceutical Products invented heroin (diacetylmorphine) and started selling it from 1898. Sigmund Freud extolled the virtues of cocaine for its supposed ability to treat depression and impotence. Kimball White Pine and Tar Cough Syrup, which contained four minims of chloroform, was marketed for colds and bronchitis. In 1849, Mrs. Charlotte N. Winslow launched her Soothing Syrup containing sodium carbonate and aqua ammonia, as well as 65mg of morphine per ounce. It was advertised as effective for children who were teething. Babies were also spoon-fed laudanum for teething pain, bowel problems, flatulence and convulsions.
If that wasn’t enough to explain the high infant mortality rate in the 20th century, there was also premature birth, birth asphyxia, pneumonia, congenital malformations, term birth complications such as abnormal presentation of the fetus, umbilical cord prolapse, or prolonged labor, neonatal infection, diarrhea, malaria, measles and malnutrition.
When you think about it, you have to wonder that children survived at all.
To win an ebook copy of JARED, Book 7 in the BACHELORS & BABIES sweet romance series,
tell me . . .
What crazy things did you do as a child that you were lucky to survive?
I had a swing in my backyard and a driveway that went downhill. I’d swing as high as I could, wearing roller skates, jump off and skate down the drive. The trick was to turn onto the sidewalk at the foot of the hill and avoid flying into the busy street.
Charlene Raddon likes to claim that her fiction career began in the third grade when she told her class she’d had a nonexistent baby sister killed by a black widow spider. Her first serious attempt at writing came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. She’s been writing ever since. She grew up certain she’d been born in the wrong era and truly belonged in the Old West. Her genre is, of course, historical romance set in the American West. At present, she has five books, originally published in paperback by Kensington Books, two anthologies and a novella available on Amazon. Now an indie author, Charlene is busy on her next novel. She also designs book covers and other graphic materials for authors, specializing in western, at http://silversagebookcovers.com.
This month Harlequin has re-released my novel The Rancher and the Vet and Ann Roth’s Montana Vet in a two in one book entitled A Cure for the Vet available in Wal-Mart and on Amazon. In honor of that, I’m doing something special. Today, you’re getting two blogs in one because Ann Roth has joined me to chat about her book.
My novel, Montana Vet, is actually book 3 of my Prosperity, Montana, miniseries. Books 1 and 2 will be out in January, in another 2 in 1 release. No worries—I wrote the books as stand-alone stories featuring siblings. They don’t have to be read in order.
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of Montana Vet.
Veterinarian Seth Pettit has been AWOL from Prosperity for some time. Now he’s come home… with a fourteen-year-old girl in tow.
I have a soft spot in my heart for foster kids. I feel the same tenderness and concern for abandoned and abused dogs, which is one reason I felt compelled to create heroine Emily Miles, who shares my sentiments and has founded a shelter for these animals. The other reason, of course, is that she’s the perfect match for Seth Pettit—even though neither of them is looking for romance.
How Seth and Emily get together and fall in love is a story you don’t want to miss!
A little about me:
My genre is contemporary romance. I love happy endings, don’t you? Especially when two characters are so right for each other, but don’t know it.
To date, I have published over 35 novels, and several short stories and novellas, both through New York publishers and as an indie author.
Like Ann’s story, The Rancher and the Vet, features a veterinarian, but mine is the heroine, Avery McAlister. The hero is her first love, Reed Montgomery who returns to Estes Park to become a surrogate parent to his teenage niece.
I love writing old flame stories because there’s instant conflict, chemistry and sexual tension when they step on the page. But that wasn’t the only reason I enjoyed this story. Another was because I could have animals cause trouble throughout the book. Thor, Reed’s niece’s pet chihuahua, does his best to give Reed a proper welcome, complete with leaving him “presents.”
But I had the most fun with scenes between Reed and his niece. Making a bachelor caring for a teenage girl was more fun than should be legal. Talk about torturing a hero! One of my favorite scenes is when Reed takes Jess shopping for a school dance. Now that’s a man’s worst nightmare come to life. Thankfully for Reed when he’s in over his head, Avery comes to his rescue. At one point, I couldn’t get Avery and Reed alone without them sacrificing their pride. I groused that I wished I could lock them in a closet together. Thankfully Reed’s niece was happy to comply…
Thanks again to Ann Roth for joining me in the corral today. Since Ann’s book is set in Montana and mine is in Colorado, we want to know your favorite ranch location. Two randomly chosen commentators receive a copy of A Cure for the Vet. One signed by Ann and one by me. So, let’s hear what you think. If you could have a ranch anywhere, where would it be?
When I was younger and visited my Grandma Walter on their northeastern Iowa farm, I always pestered her to teach me something. She taught me how to crochet and to make cream puffs. (I posted her recipe in a blog a while ago.) She had a huge garden where she grew potatoes, green beans, onions and I can’t remember what all else. While I didn’t inherit her green thumb despite her tutoring, I did receive her love of growing things. Every spring I plant a garden. This year I have high hopes since I’ve gone to a raised garden to keep out the dogs and the bunnies!
My grandmother also taught me to sew. I refined that skill during home economics. It’s amazing how much money I’ve saved because I could sew bed skirts, window treatments and my children’s Halloween costumes. Okay, the later didn’t really save money as much as it allowed me to create exactly what they wanted. 🙂
It saddens me when I hear how children say their middle and high school schedules are too full to take Skills for Living, what my generation knew as home ec. My youngest took the class in middle school, and we both enjoyed it. Together we shopped for the fleece material for the pajama bottoms he sewed. He made a lot of the recipes he learned in the class for us. But the best part was, he became an expert pie maker!
Every Fourth of July he and I make what we call a Red, White and Blue pie. The basic recipe is the strawberry pie recipe from his Skills for Living class. The blue comes from adding blueberries and the white is whipped cream. Today just in time for the Fourth, I’m sharing the recipe with you.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Measure 1C flour and 1/2 tsp of salt into a bowl. Cut in 1/3 C shortening with a pastry blender until shortening particles are pea sized. Add 4 TBS of ice water. Form into a ball. Roll from the center out until crust is pan sized. Fold edges under and crimp. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Clean 1-2 pints of strawberries.
In a saucepan, mix 1 1/2 C sugar (I use slightly less) with 1/3 C cornstarch. Add 1 1/2 C water and mix completely. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it’s thick and translucent.
Remove from heat and add 3 oz. package of strawberry jello. Put some of cooled glaze in bottom of the crust. Add berries and continue covering them with glaze. Refrigerate and serve topped with whipped cream.
NOTE: Add blueberries and make you have a Red, White and Blue Pie!
Giveaway: Leave a comment sharing your favorite Fourth of July food or tradition to be entered in the drawing for a signed copy of A Cure For the Vetand a cactus T-shirt from my favorite shop, Rustic Ranch.
As I am writing this, it’s Memorial Day. To most of us, this is a day off work to spend with family and friends. We know the holiday is meant as to remember those who died serving our country, but do we really do that? Do we take the time and make the effort to do that? Do we realize how important this day is to those who’ve lost a loved one in service to our country? So many lives given for our freedom.
Today I’m remembering a young man I never met. Lloyd Wohlford, Jr. died serving our country in Vietnam on June 17, 1967. I learned about Lloyd when my uncle, Wayne Walter married Margaret Wohlford, Lloyd’s sister. From everything Margaret has told me about Lloyd, I’m sorry I never knew him. I also know the world is a much better place because of him.
Margaret describes her brother as a hard-working farm boy raised in Decorah, Iowa. She said Lloyd “always knew what needed to be done and the right way to do it.” When he went to Vietnam, he took those values with him. When Lloyd and his buddies were ambushed, this farm boy did what needed to be done. He carried others, as Margaret said, “numbers too many to recall” to safety. After saving numerous lives, he picked up his weapon and returned to battle. That was when he was lost.
For families of those who died serving our country and those who fought alongside the fallen, as Margaret said, “Memorial Day is not for those alive but for those we have lost.” It’s a day for remembering and to ensure heroes like Lloyd are never forgotten. We need to remember not only that heroes like Lloyd sacrificed their lives, but the legacy their actions leave behind. People are alive today because Lloyd Wohlford, Jr. was in Vietnam that day to save them. He lives on through them and everyone who remembers him.
As you read this, Memorial Day is over, but that doesn’t mean the remembering is. We have so many freedoms in the United States. It’s easy to take them for granted and forget how others fought and died for the freedom we enjoy. It’s true—freedom isn’t free. Many have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
If you haven’t lost someone close to you serving our country, ask someone who has to share memories of his/her loved one. When you see a post on a fallen soldier on social media, please share. Help keep that memory alive. We can never repay our debt to those who died for our freedom, but we can start with ensuring they are never forgotten.
Thank you for stopping by today. To be entered for the random drawing to win a copy of the Blessed wall handing and Home on the Ranch: Colorado Rescue leave a comment. If you’ve lost a loved one serving our country, please share his/her story with us. I’d love to help you honor your hero.
As a contemporary romance author, my research is different from historical authors. For the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, my research topics included seizure treatment/causes, service dogs and veterinarian office software. As a result, I don’t often come across cool historical tidbits to share with you the way Petticoats and Pistols historical authors often do. But recently, I came across a Facebook post about librarians on horseback. Considering my love of books and horses, I couldn’t resist learning more.
The Pack Horse Library program was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration during The Depression. In 1930’s Kentucky, the unemployment rate was almost forty percent and around thirty percent of the state’s population was illiterate. The hope was The Pack Horse Library program would decrease both these statistics. In addition to these issues, the ten thousand square foot area of eastern Kentucky this program served lagged behind other areas in the state in terms of electricity and highways. Scarcity of food, education and few economic options compounded the problems.
Getting the program’s employees to these rugged, rural areas of The Appalachian Mountains where people with the greatest need lived proved challenging, too. Because of the terrain, horses were chosen as the mode of transportation. However, the most astounding aspect of the program was that most of the employees of The Pack Horse Library were women! Folks simply referred to them as “Book Women.”
After loading donated books, magazines and newspapers, these librarians set out on their own mules or horses and headed into the mountains. Not an easy task, even when the weather cooperated. But imagine how difficult and treacherous the trip had to be in snowy or rainy conditions. Often the terrain became so rugged or remote, even horses couldn’t travel, forcing the librarians to continue on foot, carrying the books! No matter how cold or bad the weather, these librarians persisted, covering one hundred to one hundred twenty miles a week. One librarian had to complete her eighteen-mile route on foot after her mule died. Now that’s dedication!
By 1936, these devoted librarians serviced over fifty-thousand families and one-hundred-fifty-five schools. But these women did more than provide books. They acted as a connection between these rural Kentucky communities and world. They tried to fill book requests, read to people who couldn’t read themselves, and fostered a sense of local pride. And all for a salary of twenty-eight dollars a month.
The Pack Horse Library program ended in 1943 along with the WPA. War had pulled the country out of The Depression, but these strong, determined librarians had left their mark. They made a difference.
To be entered for the drawing to win a copy of Colorado Rescue, a looking sharp wine glass and the bracelet pictured, tell me what you love about libraries or share your favorite memory involving a library.
One of my favorite parts of spring is watching the roadsides for Texas bluebonnets. They cover entire hillsides in the area around Austin, but up in northwestern Texas, they are more of a rare find. There are certain places that I know to look each year, and about a week ago, I noticed the first patches of vibrant blue.
Two of my three kids have graduated from high school, and as part of their senior pictures, I made sure to get them out in a field of bluebonnets. There is a reliable patch out by our small airport, and we’ve made pictures there several times.
Many years ago, I snapped some photos of them myself in a field of bluebonnets in a vacant lot not too far from their school. Aren’t they adorable? (I’m not biased or anything.)
Peter, the youngest, won’t have his senior pictures made until next year, but here are Bethany and Wyatt in their bluebonnet photo shoots.
The year we made Bethany’s senior pictures, I also had a few author photos taken – yes, in the bluebonnets. Here are a couple of my favorite. (Unfortunately, it was very windy on the day we took the pictures, but I kept telling myself I was just like one of those models standing in front of a giant fan. Ha!)
Do you have favorite photo traditions in your family?
What are your favorite spring flowers?
Oh, and one more thing . . .
A Huge Christian Historical Romance Giveaway!
If you love historical romance, this is the giveaway for you. Two winners will receive all 23 books pictured below. One winner will also receive a free e-reader. Authors participating include well-known names like Suzanne Woods Fisher, Susan May Warren, Misty Beller, and Rebecca deMarino. What a great way to discover new favorite authors!
I’m giving away a copy of More Than Meets the Eye, the prequel to my June release, More Than Words Can Say. Most of the books in the giveaway will be in e-book format, but some authors (including me) will offer the winners (if in the US) the option of choosing an autographed print copy. To enter, click here. The contest runs through April 17, so enter soon!
I love the sweet smell of earth coming back to life after a long winter’s rest. I love the scent of hyacinths in the air, while daffodils brighten days with their cheerful blooms.
One of the things I love the most about spring are the babies – baby chicks, rabbits, (and my favorite) spring calves.
During my childhood years spent on the farm, I spent many a happy moment watching calves chase each other around the pasture in spring. Tails high, they would race and play and make me so glad we raised cattle.
Last week, I was visiting family and my niece invited me out to her place to take photos of their spring calves. I went with Amanda and her husband as they did the evening feeding.
This little guy was playing peek-a-boo.
While Amanda and Marc fed, I decided to get out of the pickup and snap photos.
I found a spot and hunkered down where I could take photos of the calves. They weren’t quite sure what to make of the stranger who’d infiltrated the pasture.
I could almost see a cartoon bubble above these two… “What is that thing? Do you think it’ll play with us?”
This little guy was by far the most adventurous of the bunch. If he’d come just another step or two closer, I could have pet him. Or given him a few fingers to suck on. There is nothing in the world like the sweet milky breath of a baby calf.
It’s the sweet fragrance of a brand new human baby.
Which Amanda and Marc will be welcoming soon. I can hardly wait!
You can read about some animal babies (chicks and bunnies!) as well as a crazy assortment of rescue animals in my book Easter Bride that will release March 21!
Will meddling matchmakers make a perfect match?
Piper Peterson loves the small community of Holiday, Oregon. She resides there at a beautiful, old farm where she’s surrounded by animals she’s rescued. And she manages the feed store that’s been in her family for more than a hundred years. Despite her contentment with life, her grandfather’s plans to sell the store and farm leave her future up in the air. When a sly matchmaker works to set Grandpa up with the perfect woman, Piper jumps at the chance to lend a hand. But the last thing she expects is to fall in love while helping her grandpa find happiness.
Stuck at a crossroads in his life, Colton Ford can’t decide which direction to head. Then an invitation to stay at his brother’s ranch in Holiday provides an opportunity Colt can’t pass up. He hopes time spent at the Flying B Ranch will help him clear his head and sort out his life. Before long, he finds himself entangled in a matchmaking plot involving his widowed aunt and a charismatic old gent. When he agrees to give the budding romance a nudge, he has no idea the man’s delightful granddaughter will capture his heart.
A heartwarming story filled with country charm, laughter, and hope, Easter Bride is sure to bring readers the joys of budding spring and sweet romance.
I think my love of the west and cowboys grew out of my love for my grandparents’ Iowa farm. I loved that place. I did a lot of thinking and dreaming there. I also learned a lot, mainly from my grandmother. The older I get the more I appreciate what I learned from her. She was an incredibly strong woman, but she possessed a quiet strength. She worked the farm and raised six children. I always thought her the most patient person I knew. She never had a cross word for anyone, and I can count on one hand the number of times she lost her temper.
My grandmother always made time for me and my endless questions. Such a simple gift, her time and attention, and yet, such an important one. And I had a lot of questions about whatever she was doing, whether it be gardening, crocheting, sewing or cooking. All of which I still enjoy doing today.
One day when she was making one of my two favorite treats, cream puffs–the other was her angle food cake with fresh strawberries–I asked questions and wrote down what she told me. Because of my curiosity, I have my grandmother’s recipe for cream puffs.
For a holiday gift, I’m sharing her recipe with you.
½ C butter
½ tsp salt
1 C water
1 C sifted flour
Combine butter, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once. Stir until the mixture sticks together in a ball and leaves the edges of the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until egg has been completely absorbed. Drop by tablespoonful, heaping in the middle, on greased baking sheet with 3 inches between each. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 10 minutes. Do not open oven during baking or cream puffs could
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks (beaten)
1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons milk
In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 C milk to a boil. Stir in above mixture. Reduce heat and cook until thick. When cool combine with ½ pint whipped heavy cream.
Leave a comment about your favorite holiday treat and be entered to win a cup and plate set along with a copy of Family Ties. May 2019 be filled with many wonders and joys for you and your family, and remember, of all the gifts you can give, the best is your time and attention.