Hopefully book news soon (cross your fingers for me) but right now, I’m ecstatic to be taking my first trip in a year and a half! Next week I’ll be flying to Oregon to meet up with my two fishing buds – we have over 20 years of memories! Fly fishing all day, and at night, it’s like a high school sleepover!
What a wonderful day we had here today! Hubby and I both have gotten both our shots, and daughter, son, and daughter-in-law have gotten their first one (plus, they’ve all three already had COVID last year!) We got together for Easter and “belated” March birthdays in our household. My hubby turned 70 on March 31, and my daughter-in-law, Kayla, celebrated her birthday on the 15th of March. Here’s what happened through Max (white lab) and Sammy’s (brown love-dog) eyes!
A Cover Reveal!
This was too pretty not to share! Autumn’s release date will be April 30th. I’ll be getting the book up for pre-order this week. In the mean time, feast your eyes! Love those spring time colors!
We’re doing something a little fun several times through the year. It might be a Craft Project, how we breathe life into a hero, or anynumber of things. You just never know. We’re sort of calling it Pot Luck. This is my day and I’m going to tell you jokes. Keep your fingers crossed because I’m not very good at this. Hopefully, you’ll find them worth a chuckle.
Okay, here we go……
A man and wife went to their lake cabin for a little R&R. It was a beautiful day and not a cloud in the sky, so the husband decided to go fishing in his rowboat.
After several hours with not much to show, he rowed in and tied up, telling his wife he was going to take a nap.
Now, the wife liked to read romance and she thought how perfect it would be to drift along in the boat. If she got too hot she could take a dip. So she rowed out a little ways from the shore where she could get a nice breeze and picked up her story where she’d left off. The hero cowboy was having a time getting his little darling to the altar.
She drifted along in the little rowboat and turned the pages, totally engrossed.
Pretty soon, a game warden came by and asked to see her fishing license.
“But warden, I’m not fishing. You can see the poles are inside the boat. Besides, I don’t like to fish. They’re smelly and I don’t like touching them. I’m just sitting here reading my book, not bothering one fish or one person.”
The warden looked stern. “That doesn’t matter. You have all the fishing equipment and could put the poles into the water if you choose. I’m going to have to write you a ticket.”
“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to take you to jail, ma’am.”
“Let’s make it the sheriff’s office, warden. I’ll need to file a complaint.”
“May I ask what your business is? I’ve been as polite as I can and I’m following the law.”
“The charge will be for sexual assault.”
“You’re crazy. We’ve done nothing but talk. You still have your clothes on.”
She smiled sweetly. “But I’m sorry, Warden, you have all the right equipment.”
Flustered, he threw his ticket pad down. “Have a nice day, ma’am, and continue reading your book.”
* * * * * * *
What Do You Call a Happy Cowboy? (a jolly rancher)
Why Did the Bowlegged Cowboy Get Fired? (he couldn’t keep his calves together)
* * * * * * *
I hope you got a chuckle or two. I’m giving away one early copy (autographed) of A COWBOY OF LEGEND. It doesn’t come out until April 27th so you’ll be ahead of the game. I’ll draw from the people who comment and the Giveaway Rules apply – https://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/.
Just tell me what makes you laugh. Or tell me a joke. I love to laugh.
To fill unscheduled blog days that pop up periodically throughout the year, the fillies will be featuring some crafts, decorating ideas, and a variety of other fun things we think you will enjoy.
Now, I’m not a big knitter although I’ve been knitting most of my life. Basic projects, mostly, like winter scarves, but my all-time favorite is a simple washcloth.
I’ve made stacks of these over the years. They’re great for tucking into Christmas stockings (yep, my adult daughters still get them hung on our mantle), to give away as bridal shower gifts, to needy families during the holidays and so on. They wash up beautifully, absorb beautifully, and are my favorite go-to washcloth in my kitchen towel drawer
I can make one of these in two good nights in front of the television. The instructions are super-simple, and I’m happy to share them with you.
BASIC COTTON WASHCLOTH
Size 8 knitting needles
100% cotton yarn (I love the Peaches & Crème brand)
Cast on 4 stitches. (I usually do 5 stitches)
Knit 1 row
Knit 2 stitches. Move yarn over to front to create an extra stitch.
Work until 50 stitches are on the needle.
Knit 1 stitch
Knit 2 together
Knit 2 together
Knit to the end of the row
Repeat until 4 stitches are left on the needle.
Cast off. When 1 stitch is left, cut 6″ tail of yarn and pull through the loop. Tighten, then weave tail through. I use a crotchet hook to do this.
I’m giving away a washcloth to two winners. To be eligible, just tell me if you like to do needlework? Knit? Crotchet? Counted cross stitch?
Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life.
But danger seems to track Kevin along the way, and he wonders if his half brother, Wyatt, is behind the attacks. Finally arriving at the ranch, everyone is at each other’s throats and the only one willing to stand in between is Winona Hawkins, a nearby schoolmarm.
Despite being a long-time friend to Wyatt, Winona can’t help but be drawn to the earnest, kind Kevin–and that puts her in the cross hairs of somebody’s dangerous plot. Will they all be able to put aside their differences long enough to keep anyone from getting truly hurt?
Meet the newest Benson foster dogs–Axel and Brody!
Our sweet boy Dax, has recovered from Parvo, gained weight, and gone to a fabulous forever home where he is loved and has two children to play with.
Wooing the Schoolmarm
If only they can learn to ignore each other, they might stop the sparks from igniting between them.
Miss Maddie Percy had come all the way from Washington D.C. to teach school in Colton Kansas. Instead, the feisty red-haired schoolmarm finds the town burned to the ground and her only shelter an isolated sod house belonging to widower Luke Tyler and his young son, Matthew. Never one to be deterred by setbacks, Maddie is soon making friends with the local Indians, setting up a tepee to live in, and finding her blood racing every time Luke comes near.
Luke Tyler has no room in his life for a woman—especially one as eccentric, spunky, and smart as Maddie Percy. His prairie farm life is too harsh, his memories too painful and his secrets too dark to give in to the feelings she has awakened in him. She might be stealing his son’s heart, but he is keeping his own out of reach. If only he could keep the sparks between them from igniting something as dangerous as love.
I have the best fans in the world! Thanks to you, I made it into the top five for Family Fiction’s 40 Essential Christian Romance Authors for the third year in a row. What an amazing honor! This list was determined strictly by fan vote, so that makes it that much more special to me.
If you’d like to see where your favorite Christian authors landed in the poll, you can access the article here.
Fellow filly, Mary Connealy made the list as well. YeeHaw!!
I’m happy to announce that I just signed a contract to write a third Harding Brothers book for Tule Publishing. Here are the first two in the series. I can’t wait to revisit these guys!
I’m happy to share that Lilac Bride is now available! You can find it on Amazon in both digital and paperback format, and it’s also available in Kindle Unlimited for those with KU subscriptions!
When wedding plans go awry, wily matchmakers come to the rescue . . .
Katherine Kelly has been dreaming of her wedding since she was old enough to cut pictures out of magazines and glue them into her bridal binder. When Kaden, the handsome cowboy who holds her heart, proposes on a snowy Christmas Eve, she couldn’t envision anything more perfect or romantic. The spring date is set, all the nuptial details have been meticulously arranged, and she only has six weeks to go before the big day. Then, in a blink, her carefully formed plans begin to rapidly unravel. A freak snowstorm, rampaging rodents, and a lost wedding gown are only the beginning of the troubles they face.
Cowboy entrepreneur Kaden Ford still can’t quite believe Katherine Kelly agreed to marry him. She’s beautiful, elegant, intelligent, and the woman who fills his heart with joy. He doesn’t care if they get married in a cathedral or a cabin in the woods. All he wants is to spend his life loving Kat. But when faced with one overwhelming challenge after another, will love be enough to hold them together?
Find out in this sweet, charming, small-town romance full of laughter, love, and scheming octogenarian matchmakers.
I’m also excited to share that I have a new nephew! Shane and his mama are both doing great and thriving. And Shane’s big brother, TJ, thinks he’s pretty neat, too. I recently got to pay them a visit, and took my dad along. The middle names of my little nephews are after my Dad, which is so sweet. TJ loves clocks, or ticktocks as he calls them. He had a great time playing with his great-grandpa’s watch while we were there.
Y’all, I’m “YEE-HAWING” today about these warmer temperatures we have in Oklahoma City after that devastating 2 weeks of below freezing Siberian winter air we experienced! Oh, my GOODNESS!
But we were fortunate! We had power the entire time, though we were scheduled to be included in the rolling blackouts. That didn’t happen for our neighborhood, and I was so grateful that the power stayed on. We laid in a TON of firewood “just in case” though! Water was a different story–though we had water, there were about 2 days of it being brown, and even having visible dirt and grass in it. We were advised that “you might want to boil it before using it”–UM…YEAH.
But not everyone was sad about those extremely low temperatures and the SNOW we got with it! Sammy and Max enjoyed it for brief bits of time throughout the day. They are like kids, and needed to go out and play (among other things!) They kept us entertained and smiling. I hope you all made it through that “Siberian winter blast” without too much difficulty! Spring is on the way, and can’t get here soon enough for us.
PLAYING IS HARD WORK–ESPECIALLY CHASING ALL THOSE SNOWFLAKES! TIME FOR A REST!
When I first started putting my older titles — which had been mass market paperbacks — into e-books, I did it without realizing the amount of errors that can happen to a book simply because of the conversion. And so one by one, I’ve been re-editing these early titles and updating the covers and putting them out as 25th Year Anniversary books.
Lakota Princess is the third (3rd) book we’ve now re-edited, updated the cover and re-released. It’s quite a project and I have six books yet to go (the rest of my books were thoroughly edited once I realized the problem).
This is the 3rd book in the Lakota series and it is currently on sale for $.99.
That makes the Lakota Series (a series of 3 books) my first series to be out as 25th Year Anniversary books. Yay!
Here’s the series book covers from Amazon’s series page. The books are: LAKOTA SURRENDER; PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN; LAKOTA PRINCESS.
Here’s blurb of this book:
A love that defies the ocean. A secret deeper than blood.
Lakota Princess, Book 3
Driven from her home in England by hostile political forces, Estrela was little more than a girl when she came to be raised by a far western Lakota tribe. On the wide, sweeping plains she grew tall and strong, and won the love of a handsome warrior.
But on the eve of their marriage, she is torn away from her native family, torn from the man she loves, and forced to return to a place that feels more like a foreign country than her home. There she merely exists, haunted by her love’s sweet kisses and heated embrace, yearning for his unforgettable touch.
Black Bear has braved the ocean to find the woman whose beauty has captured his soul. But no sooner has he arrived in England than he is called upon to save her life. Who in their right mind would want to murder such a gentle spirit?
As Black Bear comes between her and death time after time, Estrela wishes they could both just disappear back to the plains, and bury the secret she has long hidden –- even from him. A secret from which only their love, truer than blood, can save them.
This is the 25th year Anniversary Edition of this book.
Warning: Sensuous romance that contains separated lovers who will let nothing come between them…not oceans, her mysterious past, or a murderer bent on destroying their future.
Book #3 in my Blackstone Ranch series from Tule Publishing!
Shandi Flanagan has lived in Paxton Springs, Texas, her whole life. When the bar and grill she’s been working at since high school comes up for sale, she vows to find the money to buy it. But when her house goes up in flames, so do her entrepreneurial dreams. The only good thing to come of it? Being rescued by the hottest cowboy around, Jace Paxton.
Jace has his hands full finding a way to grow his family’s vacation resort and tracking down the rustlers who stole his new herd of calves. At least being able to save Shandi, the town’s favorite sweetheart, goes right. She needs a place to stay, and there’s plenty of room on the Blackstone Ranch.
But he needs the bar and grill as much as she does. And while he’s a formidable competitor…she’s not. How can he take away her dream and future? How could she love him if he did?
The latest Clear Creek Brides Book is here!
Ruby Bennett is on the shelf. Okay, so they don’t call it that in Clear Creek. The residents prefer the term, “slow starter”. But at twenty-three, if she got any slower, she’d be in her grave before ever finding a husbad, so why kid herself? Worse, her best friend Merritt is now engaged, which only makes Ruby’s spinsterhood loom larger.
Peaceful Mathias Comfort (Matt for short) had plans and they didn’t include a wife. He had a business to build up, a one room cabin, and a brother willing to throw caution to the wind and take a wife. But not Matt. He would do things proper. But when he begins to accompany Ruby Bennett and her mother to help a family in need, he begins to learn that the best laid plans often go awry.
Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!
So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us goYee-Haw!!
New Release! I’m happy to announce that the third and last book (so far….) of my sweet Holly, Idaho series comes out on February 2. Amazon
Three weeks to win her heart…
Investment banker Felicity Evans returns home to Holly, Idaho, to answer her injured father’s SOS. He needs her to help him meet his construction deadline on a historic property by Valentine’s Day. Felicity swings a mean hammer, but her life is in Seattle and she’s leaving as soon as the project is finished. One problem with her quick escape plan? Danny Montgomery. Years after moving away, he still complicates her life despite her many efforts to forget him.
For as long as Danny Montgomery can remember, Felicity Evans—Felix to him—has tied his heart in knots. She’s spent years avoiding him after their childhood rivalry, but, short on help, has no choice but to hire him to help her finish renovations on a keystone project for her father. This time, Danny won’t let her ignore her true feelings.
He has until Valentine’s Day to make her his. Can he convince Felix to give them one more chance and prove they’re a perfect match?
BOOK 1 of a brand new series (Lone Star Legends) coming out in April!
There’s a new generation of Legends itching to make their mark.
Nothing writing related – but I am yee-hawing, because I just got a fishingboat! I’m an avid fisherman who has spent the past six years where there is no above-ground water. We’ve moved to where I have two lakes and a river within 15 miles of me, and I’m so excited I can’t sleep at night!
Meet Bubba Not the guy, that’s my husband. The boat’s name is Bubba!
At present, I have three of my books on sale for $.99 cents. The first one is “out-wide” at various platforms. The other two are at Amazon only. I’m going to leave the covers of them here so you can see what ones they are:
I’ve received my first ever review from Publishers Weekly! Yee-Haw!
This international magazine and website was founded in 1872 and has published continuously since then. It’s a weekly trade publication for publishers, authors, agents, librarians, booksellers, etc. They are tough, selective in what they read and review, and just to be chosen from a mountain of submissions is a very good thing!
The review, in part (because I don’t want to give my book away!)
“. . . this contemporary western should please Crooks’s existing fans and earn her new ones.”
Coming February 16th!
PREORDER Her Texas Cowboy, Book #2 in the Blackstone Ranch series:
I’d love to announce a new book but since I don’t have one coming out in the near future, I’m going to make a announcement about a chapter in another book … the book of life. Our oldest granddaughter is engaged to one of the nicest men I know. They met when she was in college and he was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He went on with his career in the military and was stationed all over the world, while she finished her education and became a Raspatory Therapist in Dallas. Their wedding will be in July 2020. I’m so proud of them.
Lots of us have had tough years personally before, but not in my lifetime have we as a human race had such a difficult year. If you’re like me, New Year’s held a new significance and you’re thankful to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. Hopeful for 2021, I tried writing about the activities I desperately miss and appreciate more since COVID-19. I hope this year to return to treating myself to a mani-pedi (I’m so relieved it’s closed toe shoe season!), getting a haircut every six to eight weeks instead of twice a year, going to lunch with friends and sitting close enough we don’t need walkie-talkies to converse, and window shopping. Somehow instead of being the hopeful post I intended, I found myself needing a break from thinking about COVID and the harsh realities it’s brought crashing down on our lives.
Also needing to laugh, I turned to a book I discovered in Glassboro, New Jersey visiting my son. When the title caught my eye, This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book, I had to open it. The dedication had me LOLing. “This book is dedicated to the eminent individuals whose words are parodied herein. We’d like to imagine each of them, living or dead, getting a chuckle out of it. We only wish we could invite them all to dinner. * That would be, like, totally an amazing party. *Except maybe Hannibal Lecter.”
The book takes famous quotes and inserts the phrase like, totally. Having been part of the generation that thought those words were so cool, I couldn’t stop reading. The next thing I knew I was reading quotes to my husband. So today, in hopes of making you smile and showing how adding two words can change a sentence, I’ve tweaked some famous quotes.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in like, totally rising every time we fall.” -Nelson Mandela
The way to get started is to like, totally quit talking and begin doing. -Walt Disney
Life is what happens like, when you’re busy totally making other plans. -John Lennon
To be or like, totally not to be. -William Shakespeare
When you reach the end of your rope, like tie a knot in it and totally hang on. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but like, totally by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson
It is during our darkest moments that we must like, totally focus to see the light. -Aristotle
Here’s some modified western/cowboy sayings from grammar.yourdictionary.com.
Some cowboys have like, totally too much tumbleweed in their blood to settle down.
When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be like, totally ready to have it thrown around by someone else.
Always like, totally drink upstream from the herd.
Never ask how stupid someone is ‘cause they’ll like, turn around and totally show you.
The only good reason to ride a bull is to like, totally meet a nurse.
And my favorite…
Never like, jump a barbed wire fence totally naked.
I hope these changes to famous quotes made you chuckle. To be entered in the random drawing for today’s giveaway of the sparkly Peace sign and a signed copy of Home on the Ranch: Family Ties share a quote and like, totally parody it in This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book style. Here’s to 2021. May your year be blessed, and wishing you like, totally the best year ever!
We have gotten more snow and ice here in Oklahoma already this year that usually what we get all winter! But, I wanted to share Max and Sammy having a good time in the last snow storm we got earlier in December. At least THEY enjoyed it! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a VERY Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to 2021!
Book #3 and the last in my Blackstone Ranch series! And my, my, this cover is perfect!!
This is definitely the biggest YeeHaw of 2020 for us, and such a wonderful way to close out the year. Wyatt proposed on Christmas Eve, and trusted me enough to be the photographer for capturing the moment. We adore McKenna, and are so happy for the two of them.
Can opposites attract and plan the perfect winter wedding?
Free-wheeling Stevie Evans is thrilled when her best friend announces she’s getting married and promises to help, never imagining she’d play wedding planner with her bestie’s uptight brother, Brant. She and Brant clashed several years ago and she’s avoided him ever since. But this time she can’t run or hide, and the buzz of attraction is stronger than ever.
Brant Gilroy’s meticulous life plan takes an unexpected turn when he hits a career bump on the same day as his sister’s wedding announcement. She wants to get married at the family tree farm, which he’s been restoring. Brant’s determined to make her day special despite his uncertain future, although he dreads working with her best friend—a woman who’s his complete opposite. So why can’t he get her out of his head?
As Brant and Stevie work together, Brant begins to wonder if they have more in common than they suspected. But how can he convince her that opposites can sometimes make the perfect team?
I have a new release, the second book in my Clear Creek Bride Series.
Two meddling matrons
A town full of spinsters
And one musicale …
The last thing Merritt O’Hare wants to do is perform in front of the whole town. For one, she can’t play the violin to save her life. And two, Benedict Comfort, the self-appointed leader of this musical fiasco irritates her to no end. But when Merritt finds a way to really get to him, she executes it with relish. Unfortunately, she might have bitten off more than she can chew on this one.
Benedict Comfort thinks Merritt O’Hare isn’t worth his time. Though he likes exchanging barbs with her, he can only take so much. And rehearsals with the woman and her friends are downright painful. None of them can play a whit! But he can. Imagine his surprise when he finds he likes teaching them. Toss in a ridiculous challenge Merritt presents him with and the game is on! But spending time with Merritt is doing more to him than bringing out his love of music. It’s opening his heart …
I am so proud of my hometown in the Texas Panhandle. Each New Years the newspaper names a Man and Woman of the Year. It is typically people who are philanthropists; thus, giving of themselves and their money.
This year our town awarded this honor to our hometown heroes … our first responders. I am honored to still live in the town I was born and raised in.
Thank you, Amarillo, Texas. I have some more great news to brag about, but will save it until tomorrow when I do my regular blog. Look forward to seeing you all.
The Fillies have wrapped their last gift and baked their last treat. While they wait for old St. Nick, they’re remembering a favorite Christmas.
We’d love for you to share one of yours.
A favorite family tradition began by accident. When the children were small, I habitually bought Christmas presents throughout the year and hid them. The problem was, some presents were invariably forgotten until after Christmas. One gloomy January, while organizing my closet, I found a set of cars I’d intended Santa to leave under the tree. Not knowing how else to handle it, I entered the room where the boys were playing and announced, “Look what Santa left on the roof.”
Needless to say, the unexpected gift was a big hit. Every year after that, Santa left something on the housetop. The funny thing is, no one ever thought to ask what Mom was doing on the roof.
Christmas is all about family, and last year we tried something a little different. Instead of a big gift under the tree, we decided to give the kids a big experience. So the day after Christmas we piled in the car and drove 2.5 hours to Fort Worth. There we watched the latest Star Wars movie in IMAX, ate an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (browsing in the Barnes & Noble next door while we waited for our table to be ready), then finished the trip by doing an escape room. We had never done one before, but we loved working together to solve the puzzles and figure out the clues to the fantasy storyline. We even managed to solve it with a little grace from the operator who let us go a few minutes over our hour limit. Not knowing what would lie ahead the next year in 2020, I’m so thankful for this Christmas memory of travel and family fun!
My best Christmas was a bit different – it was the year my dad quit drinking. After a horrible night of blood (he fell and cut his head – 18 stitches) and screaming (mom, at him), under the tree the next morning, he promised us he’d taken his last drink. We didn’t believe him – we’d heard it many times before. But good to his word, he didn’t, from then until he passed away, fifteen years later. Best. Gift. Ever.
One of the enduring memories that stands out for me of Christmas–every year–was how we had to orchestrate everything on Christmas morning so we could get it all on film! My dad loved to take pictures and developed a lot of his own pictures when he had time. BUT…he loved technology, too, and when those Super 8 movie cameras came out, he must have been first in line to get one. Every Christmas, he’d hook up the light bar and get the camera rolling. We’d all stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed, anxious to see what Santa had left for us (by that time, I was the only one left in our house that believed in Santa, since my sisters were older). Mom would invariably be calling, “WAIT! I have to put on some lipstick! Let me do something with my hair!” I would be chomping at the bit to start ripping and tearing my presents open, and of course, my older sisters were heaving sighs of frustration at the whole affair. Dad would yell, “COME ON, EL WANDA!” She’d yell back, “JUST A MINUTE! I’M COMING!” It’s so funny now–I can see what a comedy that would have been to an outsider–and it was so predictable. Every. Single. Year.
My favorite Christmas was when I was about eight years old. My dad had been in an explosion at work around September and received 3rd degree burns on his face and hands. My mom spent many days and nights sitting with him and we didn’t know if he’d make it. On Christmas Eve my mom was back at the hospital and my oldest sister who was married stayed with me and my younger sister. As I went to bed that night, nothing seemed right. I didn’t know how we’d make it if my dad died. And I didn’t know if there would any gifts the next morning. Mom barely paid us any attention and worry sat in her eyes. When me and my sister woke up on Christmas Day, there were gifts and I knew we hadn’t been overlooked. Then my mom came and told us that our daddy was going to live and that was the best present of all. He was released from the hospital three months later. This memory has stuck with me and I’m always amazed by the power of God’s love. Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you find your own miracle.
After 45 years of marriage, four daughters, and now ten grandchildren, my treasure chest of precious Christmas memories is overflowing. But there is one that stands out.
We always lay out a table of snacks to munch on during gift-opening. Several years ago, I used our Christmas dinner centerpiece to showcase the snacks on the dining room table. With four slender red candles tucked amongst faux evergreen in a lead-crystal base, the flickering candlelight effect was lovely. We retreated into the living room to open gifts.
About an hour in, I heard a tiny POP. With all the conversation, no one even noticed, but I KNEW. I flew off the couch, leapt over a pile of presents, careened around the chair, raced into the dining room, and sure enough, one of the slender candles had tipped over into the evergreens and caught fire.
I kept running to the kitchen for my sleek, white fire extinguisher, but alas, my thumb wasn’t quite strong enough to push the button. Now that my family had run in, too, I thrust the fire extinguisher into my able-bodied son-in-law’s hand and grabbed a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda out of the cupboard. By then, the fire extinguisher was spraying like a trooper, I added a large swath of the Arm & Hammer for good measure, and within moments, the fire was out.
But every plate of those savory snacks was ruined. So was my lead-crystal base and the rest of the centerpiece, and we had to have the dining room table top re-done.
It could have been much worse, of course. Thank goodness that POP! saved the day, and I’m convinced the Christ Child helped me hear it when no one else did.
When I was five years old, my parents moved up the hill on our farm into the new house they’d spent a year building. It was my mom’s dream home with plenty of room for all of us and for guests, too. That year started a tradition that lasted for more than twenty years of my parents hosting Christmas for thirty to fifty people, depending on which side of the family was coming.
One Christmas in particular stands out so well in my mind. About ten feet out the back door of the house was a big hill we could sled down and at the bottom was a pond where we liked to ice skate. I’d gotten a brand-new bright orange plastic toboggan that morning and was ready to test it out. Right after lunch, once the gifts had been opened and the mess cleared away, most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins poured outside to join in the fun. My dad and brother ran snowmobiles as a “taxi” service, carrying sledders from the bottom of the hill back up to the top. Some chose to skate and others stood outside and watched.
We were out there for hours, laughing and having such a great time. The sledding hill seemed to get slicker with each run and finally Mom decided everyone had been out in the cold long enough and drew us in with the promise of hot chocolate and wealth of desserts. Two of my cousins (who were grown and married with their own kids), decided to take one more run down the hill. They grabbed my old toboggan, jumped on it together, and down the hill they sailed in a great impression of Clark Griswold. They hit a big bump, the toboggan broke in two, and off the went in different directions. One landed in the ditch and the other crashed with a face full of snow. I was so glad they hadn’t been on my new toboggan!
I’m so grateful for all the wonderful childhood memories I have of special holidays at home with my parents and extended family.
Oh, how I love Christmas! One of my most memorable Christmas Eve’s occurred when I was a third grader. I’m the oldest of four girls. Daddy had just bought a brand spankin’ new Chevy.
We could hardly wait until Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. I recall waking up to not only a huge snowstorm where drifts had covered Daddy’s new car, but nothing from Santa Claus under the tree. How horrible!
While Mama fixed us hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, Daddy explained everything to us. The snow was so heavy that Santa couldn’t get in our door because of the snow, so he put all of our presents in the trunk of the car.
Well, after breakfast, Daddy dug out while Mama kept us preoccupied by doing a jigsaw puzzle. Sure enough Santa had left our gifts, just like Daddy said. I’m still confused because if Santa and his elves make all of the gifts in his workshop, how in the heck did they end up in Sears and Roebuck boxes. But you know, it was a wonderful white Christmas and I’ll never forget it.
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Can you believe Christmas is just a few short days away? December just really got away from me. I only just managed to get my tree decorated and stockings on the mantel this past Sunday. But better late than never I suppose.
When I first thought of what I might produce for this post, I let my thoughts run to the Christmases of my youth. And one of the first memories that came to me was of my momma in the kitchen making Christmas candy, so called because she only made these treats at Christmastime. She would make fudge, pralines, divinity, and bar cookies. There was one in particular that was my very favorite. I know everyone thinks of pecans when you think of pralines but they do come in other flavors as well. One of these flavors is coconut. Since I’ve never been much of a fan of pecans, these were a real favorite of mine. And come to think of it, I’ve never seen coconut pralines anywhere else – just those produced by my mom and grandmother.
And the fun part of these candies, besides the fact that they were oh so delicious, was that momma would buy fresh coconuts still in the shells and once she cracked them open, drained the milk (which I loved!) and dug out the meat, she would give them to me and my younger sister to peel and grate. with a hand crank grater. My sister and I really enjoyed this, especially since once the pieces got too small to work with we would eat them – so yummy! I still have that old grater to this day, though I haven’t used it in years.
And here is the recipe, named for my Mom:
Shirley’s Coconut Pralines
2 cups of sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of whole milk (coconut milk can be substituted for all or part)
2 cups of shredded coconut
½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a 2-quart or larger saucepan.
Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Continue cooking, without stirring, until contents reach the soft ball stage (235-240°).
Stir in the shredded coconut; then continue cooking until it reaches the soft ball stage again.
Remove from the stove and allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
Stir in the extract and then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns creamy in color.
Quickly, before the candy hardens, drop by rounded tablespoons onto waxed paper, forming patties. Let cool before removing from wax paper.
Wishing you all a joyous and blessed Christmas regardless of your circumstances.
As always, it’s wonderful hearing from our loyal readers who’ve been visiting us for so long. We’ve loved hearing from many new readers, too. Even better, we loved that you learned more about us and our books. We hope you keep coming back to enjoy our blogs and our bestselling western romances, both historical and contemporary.
And now . . . the moment everyone has been waiting for . . . the winners of our BIGGEST contest ever!!
$10 Amazon Gift Cards
And Drum Roll . . .
Our GRAND PRIZE Winner of a $130 Amazon gift card is:
Congratulations, ladies! Pam will send you your gift cards to the email address you listed on the entry form.