Savoring Christmas


I’ve been writing in the Rodeo Romance series since 2013 when The Christmas Cowboy released.

When I wrote that first sweet romance about a saddle bronc rider and a focused corporate executive, I never imagined it would lead to a whole series of books.

But it has.

Each holiday season, I release a new book in the series and last week  Savoring Christmas released.

This story is a combination of hilarity and heartfelt moments that tug on your heartstrings.

Troy Lucas gave up his winning rodeo career to run the family ranch after the death of his grandfather. Now, being a rancher, a farrier, and even doing some team roping just for fun can’t seem to keep him satisfied. He didn’t think he’d miss his glory days in the rodeo when he came back home – in fact, there’s no where else he’d rather be. Still, he can’t deny the hole inside that keeps reminding him he’s hungry for something…more.

Chef Lark Gibson has only one thing on her mind: opening a restaurant in Portland. Until that day comes, Lark will take her food truck to as many events as possible and make sure her customers are always begging for more. The last thing she expected was to find herself distracted by a knight in dusty Wranglers, until a handsome cowboy comes to her rescue and catches her off-guard.



The idea for Troy and Lark’s story started when Troy first made an appearance in a book a few years ago as a quiet and shy farrier. I knew as soon as his character popped onto the page, I wanted him to have his own story and find his happily ever after.

Last year, when I was working on Remembering Christmas, I came around to the idea of Troy’s love interest running a food truck – because … well, why not? So I asked my reader group for food truck ideas. As soon as one of them (thanks, Stephanie R!) mentioned a tater tot truck, I knew that was what I wanted to include, and their sweet romance grew from there. (You might remember I wrote a whole blog about tater tots a few years ago.)

Josephine Blake from Covers & Cupcakes created this amazing cover for me and I couldn’t love it more. She took my request for a cowboy, a red-headed woman, a food truck, and a snowy background and turn them into something amazing.


“Are you hurt?” he asked, hunkering down beside her, not wanting her to feel rushed to move. He’d had the air knocked out of him often enough to know it was an uncomfortable, unsettling feeling.

When she didn’t answer, only inhaled a third breath, he started to worry. “Should I find a medic?”

She shook her head, sending that mane of finger-tempting hair into a lively dance. Troy kept his hands pressed to his thighs when he experienced a sudden, inexplicable need to brush the hair away from her face. With the verdant grass providing a sharp contrast to her red hair, it was all Troy could do not to snap a picture of her to make him smile on a lonely gray day. The woman could be her own Christmas decoration with her alabaster skin, red hair, and the green background.

Despite comparing her to holiday décor, she really was a beauty, even with her hair in a tangle and no makeup on her face, at least that he could see.

“Just take your time. No need to get in a hurry to move. If you need assistance, I’ll go find someone.” Troy wasn’t certain if her pale skin was natural because of her red hair, or if she was injured and trying to make light of it.

She pushed herself up into a sitting position. “That won’t be necessary, even if that was an exciting way to start the day,” she said in a mellow voice that flowed over him like rich honey warmed by the sun.

“Are you sure you aren’t hurt?” he asked, rising to his feet, then offering her his hands.

“Just my pride.” She latched onto his hands and Troy almost jumped back, feeling something charged, like a current of electricity, shoot up both of his arms. It was like grabbing onto an electrified wire. Instead of letting go, though, he tightened his fingers around hers and hauled her upright.

The woman appeared of average height for a female, not too tall or too short. She had a nice figure he tried not to ogle as he observed her bright blue T-shirt and a pair of dark gray cotton shorts with pockets on the legs. His gaze slid down the length of her to her blue sneakers, then started back up when he noticed blood trickling down her leg and over her knee.

“You’re hurt,” he said, reaching for the cuff of her shorts that fell just above her knee, hiding her injury from his view. He stopped before his fingers connected with the cloth and dropped his hand to his side. Touching a stranger that way seemed rather inappropriate. He certainly didn’t want her to wrongly assume he was a pervert who preyed on women who’d been bowled over by belligerent bovine running amok.


To me Savoring Christmas isn’t just about Troy enjoying the food Lark creates.

It’s about savoring the season and the people they love and care about. It’s about savoring moments that will become treasured memories. It’s about savoring the warmth in their hearts and the joy of selfless giving.

May we all savor this special time of year!

Just for fun, here’s a song my narrator, Luke Andreen, wrote for this series. Enjoy!

If you were going to write a song to go with one of your favorite things

(can be a book, movie, person, place, thing – whatever),

what would the song be about? 

Share your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Savoring Christmas and a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

Guest Blogger – Kathleen Denly – Cakes and Kisses

Have you ever been let down or even betrayed by someone you trusted? How did you respond and did it differ from how Scripture instructs us to respond? This is the major theme of my interquel novella Cakes and Kisses. So when I discovered the following event described in the June 9, 1854 edition of the Daily Alta California I knew it was perfect for my story.

“View of San Francisco taken from Telegraph Hill 1850”

“Another Squatter Disturbance — At a squatter disturbance, which occurred yesterday morning on Front street below Mission, a woman who lived in a house which a party were endeavoring to take down, became so incensed that she laid her baby down, picked up a shovel, and attacked Capt. Folsom. After she was disarmed of this weapon she went into the house and brought out a revolver, with which she endeavored to shoot the same party. The police interfered and prevented the woman from doing harm.” [spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have been maintained from the original article]

During my research I have encountered many similar “squatter riots” or “disturbances,” as the newspapers referred to them, but this one caught my attention because of the lone woman and child facing a group of men determined to see her homeless. Not only did it closely parallel the essence of the situation my heroine found herself in, it brought to mind the numerous accounts I have read of women being abandoned in San Francisco by husbands who headed for the gold fields—sometimes never to be heard from again. While some of these women were widowed by the harsh mining conditions, others were permanently abandoned by husbands who found themselves weary of being married. These women faced the daunting challenge of learning to survive in a burgeoning town fraught with criminal activity, an insufficient police force, and a frequently corrupt justice system.

Daily Alta California, November 22, 1851 — …the present police force is not sufficiently large to guard effectually against the commission of crime…

Daily Alta California, February 24, 1854 — …we think the force is scarcely sufficient, that our growing city demands a larger one…

Domingo Ghirardelli in San Francisco circ 1862

All of this dark history fit well with my theme.

However, not all of San Francisco’s history is dark and gloomy. One of my favorite parts of the city’s history involves the world famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. No doubt you’ve seen Ghirardelli chocolates in your local store and may even have received a Ghirardelli chocolate or two in your Christmas stocking. What you may not know is that the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has been around since the nineteenth century and was founded in San Francisco, California, by Domingo Ghirardelli.

“Hydraulic mining for gold in California”

Born in 1817 Rapallo, Italy, as Domenico Ghirardelli, he apprenticed with a local candy maker at a young age. He later sailed to Uruguay with his wife to work in a chocolate and coffee business and changed his Italian first name to the Spanish equivalent, Domingo. In 1847 Ghirardelli was operating a store in Peru when his neighbor, James Lick, moved to San Francisco, bringing with him 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolate.

Like many men, Ghirardelli left his family behind to join the rush of 1849 and seek gold among California’s hills. Not long after arriving, he gave up prospecting and opened a tent-based general store in Stockton, California where he offered supplies as well as confections to minors. In 1850 he opened a second store in San Francisco but in 1851 both stores burned to the ground.

Ghirardelli also had a store in Hornitos, California from 1856-1859. The historical marker at this location was my first discovery of Ghirardelli’s connection to California.

Demonstrating incredible resilience, Ghirardelli used what he had left to open the Cairo Coffee House in San Francisco. Unfortunately his coffee house proved unsuccessful. So he acquired a partner and opened a new store named “Ghirardelli and Girard,” again in San Francisco. This store did well enough that by 1851 Ghirardelli was able to send for his family to join him in California. In 1852, the company changed its name “D. Ghirardelli & Co. “ and was incorporated. It has been in continuous operation ever since—eventually becoming the modern-day Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

“Wife of Domenico Ghirardelli, founder of the Ghirardelli Chocolate empire.”

I’ve been fascinated by this sweet part of San Francisco’s history for more than two decades, so incorporating Ghirardelli’s chocolate and his San Francisco store into my novella, Cakes and Kisses, was a piece of cake. (I couldn’t resist.)

Cakes and Kisses (~49,000 words) releases December 1, 2022 and will be available for FREE to my newsletter subscribers for thirty days. After which, it will be available for purchase through Amazon. Click here to subscribe!



To win an ebook copy of my debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness, (which introduces the heroine of Cakes and Kisses), leave a comment below letting me know which type of chocolate you prefer.

NOTE: All newspaper quotes used in this post are in the public domain and were found at: California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside, <>.


Connect with Kathleen here:



Celebrate Autumn’s Arrival

Can you believe it?

The first official day of fall here in the United States is tomorrow.

I love the autumn season. The crisp crunch of leaves beneath my boots. The spicy and loamy scents that waft on the afternoon breeze, and the pumpkin and spice scents that waft from my oven. The sounds of fans cheering at high school football games, and the brilliant array of colors as the leaves change from green to crimson, tangerine, and gold.

As the days grow shorter and we tend to spend more time at home, it’s a perfect time to host a get together, whether it’s inviting a friend over for lunch, or the whole gang over for a bonfire.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I used to work for a direct sales company that was all about making entertaining at home easier and more enjoyable for the hostess. I learned so many tips and tricks for entertaining that really do simplify things, I thought I’d share a few today.




One of the easiest ways to entertain is to pick a theme for your gathering. It makes everything from decorations to food choices so much simpler.

For an autumn party theme, send out invitations shaped like fall leaves or use stationery with a pumpkin or apple theme.

Bring the colors of the season into your home using shades of crimson red, burgundy, sage and earthy greens, golden yellow, and deep orange. Use accent pillows or throws to really create that warm and cozy atmosphere we associate with fall.  (Side note: you can easily recover a pillow using a swatch of felt since the edges won’t fray. Cut a piece big enough to cover the entire pillow and glue the edges or simply connect the edges by stitching with a piece of thin ribbon.)

Decorations for your party can be something as basic as a few potted mums, bundles of wheat tied with raffia bows, or a pile of mini pumpkins and squash. You don’t have to get carried away with something fancy.

Your meal can be simple as well. Make a big pot of stew (check out Cheryl’s recipe for hamburger stew) or a filling casserole. Finish the meal with a pumpkin or apple dessert.

If you want the party to be a more hands-on experience, do a fun activity before the meal like apple picking or visiting a pumpkin patch.

Or host an autumn bonfire. Serve up hot dogs, potato wedges and mulled cider.

Here’s a list of party ideas from A to Z:


Back to School

Crafter’s Gathering

Decadent Desserts

End of Summer

Foliage & Fun

Game Night

Harvest Festival

Indian Summer


King’s Castle

Leaves & Laughter

Maze Daze

Nature’s Splendor



Queen for a Day

Rag Time



Under the Umbrella


Wiener and Marshmallow Roast

X-ray Vision/Superheros


Zebra – everything is black and white



If I thought I could get away with it, I’d burn pumpkin scented candles all year long. Just think about walking into a home where the scents of pumpkin, apple, cinnamon or spices fill the air. It makes you think about fall and hayrides and pumpkin pie and all sorts of wonderful, comforting experiences.

The main thing to remember as you fill your home with the scents of fall is to stick with one scent at a time.

If you’re burning a sweet pumpkin candle in the kitchen, don’t light a heavily spiced candle a few feet away in the family room. Before you know it, you’ve got warring scents and quite possibly a headache.


If you are looking to bring the autumn season into your home, a great place to start is by going outdoors. What fall leaves, branches or natural items, like grasses, pinecones or nuts, can you bring indoors for an inexpensive accent to your decor?

Use neutral tones highlighted with fall colors, focusing on the vivid jewel tones of autumn like rich red, warm gold, brilliant orange, deep green and pops of purple. This is not the time or the season to go all beige. Think bold, warm and rich when you are choosing accent colors.

Create a fall welcome at your front door by placing pumpkins on steps, a twiggy wreath around an exterior light or baskets filled with bright fall flowers like mums.

Use fall scents like pumpkin, cinnamon and apple throughout your home. Whatever scent you choose, make sure you stick with it consistently so you don’t have scents overpowering each other. No one wants to walk into a scent war-zone!

Fill bowls or baskets with nuts or pinecones for a fast fall accent. Place large leaves between a serving tray and a piece of glass (or a clear glass pate). You can use this as a centerpiece, serve warm mugs of cider on it or leave it on the coffee table as a conversation piece.

Keep your focus on warmth. Warm colors and cozy fabrics create a fantastic sense of welcome.


If you are a pumpkin maniac (hand waving in the air), here are a few ideas to add pumpkins to your menu if you choose a pumpkin theme (or just really love pumpkin!).

• Make a simple pumpkin soup by adding about four cups of chicken broth to a 28-ounce can of pumpkin. Cook until bubbling and let simmer then stir in about 3 ounces of Feta cheese, season with salt and a pinch of nutmeg.

• Use canned pumpkin as a thickener. Add it to any type of chili or stew that needs a little thickening.

• Substitute canned pumpkin for half the fat in quick breads. This works well with cinnamon, citrus and chocolate. Or make your taste buds extra happy and make a loaf of pumpkin bread.

• Add canned pumpkin to half your cheesecake filling. Swirl it into the filling, but don’t mix, before baking to get an awesome design and incredible flavor.

• Mix canned pumpkin into softened ice cream then refreeze for a quick pumpkin dessert. Serve with gingersnaps and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

• Mix a heaping spoonful into grits, top with grated Parmesan cheese and a tiny dollop of butter.

• Mix canned pumpkin with one part apple cider and two parts ginger ale for a fun beverage.

You could also make pumpkin polenta, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin muffins, roasted pumpkin wedges, pumpkin roll or pumpkin seeds.

However you decide to entertain this fall, just remember to enjoy the experience and not get too wrapped up in the details. It’s all about connecting with your friends and loved ones that truly matters!

Speaking of connecting, I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the Love Train authors for a “welcome autumn” celebration tomorrow. 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!

What’s your favorite way to entertain?

Casual? Rustic? Elegant? Classy? Whimsical?

Or if entertaining isn’t your thing,

what’s your favorite autumn flavor? 


Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of my newly released

Fall Into Love

collection of two autumn-themed sweet cowboy romances,

and a digital copy of my Savvy Autumn Entertaining guide!



Bar D Chuckwagon

Back in June, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, my hubby planned a great trip for us to visit Durango, CO. Knowing how much I love the history of the west, we visited several museums, rode a steam train to Silverton, and even stayed one night in an 1800’s hotel.

One of the highlights of the trip for me happened at the very beginning of our trip. We spent an evening at the Bar D Ranch for their Chuckwagon Supper and Old West Cowboy Music Show. It was FANTASTIC!

The Bar D is more than just a ranch. It’s a western village complete with chapel, blacksmith shop, mercantile, chocolate shop, art gallery, and even a train depot. We made sure to get there early to have lots of time to explore.

This adorable little chapel is rented out for weddings. It contains lovely stained glass, and on the night we visited, a couple of cowboys were using for a cowboy poetry reading. The well was right outside the chapel, and since I’m currently working on a westernized Snow White tale, I couldn’t resist a photo by the wishing well.

They also had a large smithy where a local blacksmith was busy plying his trade.

We took advantage of photo ops by the covered wagon and cowboy cut out as well.

I bought a few souvenirs, perused the art gallery, and we even dared spoil our dinner with a sweet appetizer from the chocolate shop. So good!

Then it was time for dinner and a show.

This gorgeous mural was on display as we lined up for our grub. In true cowboy fashion, they served us on tin plates and filled our water/tea/lemonade cups with giant galvanized coffee pots. All the shops close down winner starts, and the staff become our servers. Even the cowboy performers we’d soon see on stage. Everyone wore period western costumes to add to the experience. The costumes were more 1950’s TV western than actual 1800’s western, but I didn’t care. It was too much fun!

The food was delicious! You could choose chicken, roast beef, combo plate, or pay extra for a rib eye steak. Several of the people at our table ordered the rib eye, and it looked amazing. I had chicken and loved it. Wes went for the combo plate. We both ate every bite. Meat, baked potato, biscuits, homemade applesauce, and a slice of spice cake.

As we finished eating, the Bar D Wranglers made their way onto the stage. This was the true highlight of the evening. Fiddle, string bass, and two guitars with four-part cowboy harmony. Everything from Tumbling Tumbleweeds to The Devil Went Down to Georgia. We even had an instrumental version of the 1812 Overture highlighting Gary Cook, one of the Wranglers who is a 2-time National Flat Pick Champion on the guitar. So impressive!

There was comedy too. One of the songs they did was Old MacDonald’s Dysfunctional Farm. It included a lisping snake, an asthmatic cow, and a foul-mouthed chicken just to name a few. We were all in stitches.

A fifth wrangler joined the show for about four or five songs. He was a yodeling cowboy who held us all spellbound. Wow! He flipped between registers with the agility of a a concert pianist. So fast and so clear. I loved it!

What a great way to kick off our vacation! We were grinning the entire night.

If you were going to eat a chuckwagon dinner, what is the one cowboy dish that would be a must to include?

Don’t forget about the P&P Birthday Party on Thursday. It’s going to be so much fun with some great prizes!


Stories from My Winery Visit

Photo: Kiepersol

My husband and I recently visited Kiepersol Winery and Bed and Breakfast in Tyler. Our room at the Bed and Breakfast was in the building with the restaurant. Not only were the surroundings quiet, calm, and serene, the wine was wonderful, our room beautiful, and the restaurant defied description. They feature great steaks and seafood, with incredible sides. My favorites were the sauteed mushrooms and garlic potatoes. And the desserts…I had cherries jubilee, and I swear I gain a pound thinking about it, but it was worth every calorie.

But the stories of the winery’s history our wine tour guide, Ron shared captured my writer’s sentimental heart. Founder Pierre de Wet’s story would do any hero proud. Born in South Africa, in 1984 after the death of his wife from skin cancer, he and his young daughters, age two and four, moved to America. Pierre worked as a farm laborer until he could buy acres in Tyler, Texas. Though in 1996 there were no wineries from Austin to Florida, Pierre was sure he could make a winery work.

The winery’s name comes from the Kiepersol farm where Pierre grew up. Legend has it soldiers running from a lion toward a lone tree, shouted, “Kiepersol! Kiepersol” as they sought safety in the tree. (Later it was learned the soldiers yelled, “We hope this tree will keep us all!” Pierre named his winery after that Kiepersol tree, hoping everyone who visited the winery would find that same comfort.

Pierre’s determination and frugality when he started his winery served him well. To lower startup costs, he purchased used equipment. In tough times he sold residential lots, eventually creating one of two wine estates in the U.S. In 2000, he harvested his first grapes. To sell his wine, he hired teenagers with signs and obtained retired Clydesdales for carriages rides that ended at the winery.

Photo: Kiepersol

I can’t share all the winery’s stories today, but I want to share one behind Flight sparkling wine. Guinea fowl have roamed the area for over 20 years as vineyard stewards. Their chatter safekeeps the grapes from deer and birds. They eat bugs serving as nature’s pesticide. Guinea fowl spotted feathers are believed to be good luck charms. Now to the name. The winery says, “We believe each spotted feather found represents a releasing of the past. Flight is grown in a place where one can feel soulfully grounded while also letting dreams soar. So. Take Flight my friends.” That sentiment makes me shiver.

I love visiting Texas wineries and hearing their stories. The minute I heard Pierre de Wet’s, I thought how I would’ve loved to create such a hero. The courage, strength, and determination he possessed to come to America with two young daughters when the only person he knew was a Texas A&M professor, astounds me. He created a winery, a bed and breakfast with fifteen rooms, an incredible restaurant, a distillery, and an RV park! But most importantly, he raised two strong women who carry on his legacy.

Pierre de Wet and his daughters
Photo: Kiepersol

I may have found a retirement-keep-busy-and-involved career. What could be better than telling a winery’s stories, meeting fabulous people, especially if I could be paid with an occasional bottle of wine and dinner?

Today I’m giving away this horseshoe decoration and a signed copy of To Tame a Texas Cowboy. To be entered in my random drawing, leave a comment to this question. What is the best story you’ve heard or best/most interesting fact you’ve learned on a trip? Or, if you don’t have a story to share, just stop by to say hello or tell me about a real life hero in your life.


Samoas, Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos – Oh, my! by Pam Crooks

Okay. I admit Girl Scout cookies don’t evoke an image of a hunky cowboy or anything much western, except, well, cowboys love to eat the cookies, too, don’t they?

As a grandmother and aunt of Brownies and Girl Scouts throughout the years, I’ve done my share of supporting their cookie sales, and I look forward to them every spring.  This year, with two granddaughters selling, my haul was twice as big as a normal year.  And at $5 a box, I don’t eat them as fast as I’d like.  I stored most of the boxes in my freezer to ration out as I wanted them, and when we opened up our cabin at the lake, I brought several boxes to keep out there, too.  In fact, I just had a couple of Thin Mints at lunch yesterday.

Nom, nom, nom.


ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO (can you believe it’s been that long?) five years after the Girls Scouts were organized in 1917, one of the directors printed a sugar cookie recipe in the group’s magazine, and councils across the country used the cookies as a fundraiser.  The girls baked them with their mothers, packaged them in wax paper bags sealed with a sticker, and sold them door-to-door.  The idea grew in popularity, until 1934, the first batch of Girl Scout cookies were made by a commercial baker.

Once World War 2 hit, shortages of butter, flour, and sugar forced the girls to sell calendars instead, but by war’s end, the cookie sales resumed big time.  By 1948, 125 licensed bakers were baking up the treats.  In 1951, there were three main varieties – Sandwich, Shortbread, and Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints).

As the decades rolled by, the cookies flourished in scope.  Packaging became more uniform.  More varieties were developed–some tossed aside, some kept. Eventually, those 125 bakers were whittled down to just two today, Little Brownie Baker and ABC Baker.  Though the pair used the same recipes, they named the cookies differently. Even the infamous and most popular Thin Mints began as Cooky-Mints, which changed to Chocolate Mint, then to Thin Mint, then to Cookie Mint to Chocolate Mint to Thin Mints to Thin Mint and finally, back to the plural Thin Mints.  🙂

Depending on where your cookies are sold, here are the differences in names.


I had no idea.  Never heard of a Trefoil.  Or a Samoa.  They were always Caramel DeLites and Shortbreads to us.

What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?  Were you ever a Girl Scout?  Do you have good (or bad) memories of selling cookies – or anything – door-to-door?


I don’t know about you, but I love to bake.

I hate cooking meals with a vengeance. But baking is something I love, and do well, and include  in most of my books.

When I was very young, no more than eight, I began to bake. My parents were both into cooking, as well as my grandfather. He had a wood stove, and taught me to bake on it. That was over fifty years ago, and unfortunately, he is long gone. Home cooking was big in the Victorian era since takeaway food did not exist.

I write historical small town romance, and most small towns of that era had stores such as bakeries, diners, cake shops and even candy stores. I have featured all of these in my books, but also have my homebody heroines baking as well.

For me, baking and cooking is part of normal life, and so it is for my heroines. As a young mother, I would spend one day a week making bread, pies, cookies, and other delicacies. All made from scratch, and by hand. (No machines involved.) This has given me the knowledge needed when writing my westerns. In turn, it helps make the stories more realistic and believable.



I’m extremely lucky that I was gifted recipes passed down through generations of both sides of the family. I have a wedding cake recipe that has served generations, and also doubles as a Christmas cake. I have pastry recipes that put frozen pastries to shame, and are relatively easy to make.

Soups were a mainstay for many of our pioneers, especially those with little money. Vegetables were mostly home-grown, and stock taken from other foods they cooked. Even gravy was made differently from how we make it today; they used the juices of roast meat combined with flour, and cooked on the stove until thick.

Even today, I make recipes that were used over fifty years ago – my daughter uses many of them as well. It is very satisfying to make food from scratch, even if it is sometimes more time consuming than buying packet foods. Our ancestors didn’t have such luxury afforded to them, and I often wonder how they coped without the appliances we use today.

All these years down the track, I can still recall my grandmother whipping cream using only a fork. We had an electric mixer, but she refused to use it, since she’d always made it without one.

My heroines are tough – they had to be, being born into the Victorian era was not an easy task. In A Bride for Noah, (Book One, Brides of Broken Arrow), the heroine has come from a life of poverty. I created that character on a great-aunt from my childhood. Her husband was a goldminer, their home had a dirt floor, and they had very little, but she made the most of what was afforded to her.

Okay… onto the fun stuff!

As a special treat, I am offering readers of this blog, a copy of my personal collection of Christmas recipes at absolutely no charge. Nor will you be asked to join my newsletter.

Download your free copy here:

If you wish to join my newsletter and grab your complimentary copy of Miserable in Montana, you can do that here:

Keeping within the theme of cooking in the Victorian era, you may be interested in my current series, Brides of Montana. You can check out the series here:


Contest: I am giving a way a kindle copy of Maggie, Book Four, Brides of Montana (released only days ago) to two lucky readers. To be in the draw, please leave a comment mentioning a food that might have been consumed in the Victorian era.

Thank you for having me, and good luck in the competition!




Award-winning and best-selling Australian author, Cheryl Wright, former secretary, debt collector, account manager, writing instructor, and shopping tour hostess, loves reading. She writes historical and contemporary western romance, and has over fifty published books.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and is married with two adult children and has six adult grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she can be found in her craft room making greeting cards.



Whoopie Pies and An Upcoming Release

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today I’m excited to report that the release date for the second book in my Amish of Hope’s Haven series, Her Amish Springtime Miracle, is almost here! It will hit the shelves on May 24th. This book features the youngest of the three Eicher sisters, Hannah, who happens to work in a bakery.

One of her specialties is Whoopie Pies. And it turns out they are the hero’s favorite treat. However he’ll only eat the chocolate ones with white filling and the heroine makes it a mission of sorts to try to get the hero to try one of her other flavors.

Since the whoopie pies play a role in this book, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of trivia about these yummy pastries.

But first of all, for the uninitiated, a traditional whoopie pie is a delicious dessert sandwich made by taking a fluffy white marshmallow-y filling and placing it between two domed chocolate bun-sized cakes.

Now, on to the trivia:

  • The whoopie pie goes by several other names. Among them are a gob, a bob, a black and white, and “BFO,” which stands for Big Fat Oreo or Big Fluffy Oreo.
  • You can actually buy whoopie pie baking pans.
  • The record for the world’s largest whoopie pie is one that weighed in at 1,062 pounds. It was made on March 26, 2011 in South Portland, Maine.  The record setting pastry was cut in pieces which were sold and the proceeds helped send pies to soldiers serving overseas.
  • There are 5 states that lay claim to have been thee birthplace of the whoopie pie:
    • Pennsylvania – they claim the whoopie pie recipe comes from the Pennsylvania German culture and that it has been handed down through many generations
    • Maine – Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston, Maine has been making them since 1925
    • Massachusetts – Berwick Cake Company of Roxbury, Massachusetts, which is sadly no longer in business, had them on the menu in the 1920s
    • There have also been claims from Virginia and  New Hampshire but I couldn’t find any info on what these claims were based on
  • There are two theories on where the name whoopie pie came from
    • The first, put forth by those who support the Pennsylvania claim, is that Amish housewives would bake these and put them in her family’s lunch pails. And when the lucky farmer or schoolkid would find them they would yell “Whopee!”
    • The second, put forth by those who support other claims, is that it came from the 1928 Gus Kahn song, “Makin’ Whoopie.”
  • Maine has declared the third Saturday in June to be the state’s official Whoopie Pie Day. There is also a Whoopie Pie Festival in September that is held in Piscataquis County
  • There have been two whoopie pie inspired ice creams by national brands. Ben & Jerry created Makin’ Whoopie Pie in 2002 (it has since been discontinued) and Turkey Hill has a limited edition version.


Back to my book – some of the flavors Hannah tried tto tempt Mike with were

  • chocolate whoopie pies with a special mixed- berry filling
  • chocolate whoopie pies with strawberry cream filling
  • lemon whoopie pie with cream cheese filling

If you could develop your own flavor for a whoopie pie, what would it be?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for an advanced copy of Her Amish Springtime Miracle.

Her Amish Springtime Miracle


An orphaned baby brings together an unlikely couple who learn the true meaning of family. 

When Hannah Eicher discovered sweet baby Grace in her barn last spring, the adorable infant seemed like the answer to her prayers. The young Amish baker has always wanted a familye of her own and now that she’s fostered Grace for nearly a year, her adoption application is almost certain to be approved. But an unexpected visitor to Hope’s Haven could change everything . . .

Englischer paramedic Mike Colder is only returning to his childhood hometown to locate and adopt his late sister’s baby. But when the trail leads to Hannah and Grace, Mike’s determination falters. With Hannah, the simple life he left behind suddenly seems appealing. Despite their wildly different worlds, can Mike and Hannah give each other—and Grace—the greatest gift of all: a life together?


You can preorder HERE



Water Glassed Eggs

Now that I’m living close to my mom, who is in her eighties, we have a lot of interesting discussions about the “good old days.” For instance, her grandfather, a Finnish immigrant, never farmed with a tractor. He used mules until he died in the 1940s. I’ve learned about pitching hay into the hay wagon while kids stamped it down, and tying the milk cow to the car bumper and pulling her to the neighbor’s field to put her in with the bull.

I’ve learned about her friends who had no running water and who bathed in the slough, my uncle tipping outhouses at Halloween, my grandmother putting water in the car radiator in the winter (no antifreeze) and then driving across the long lake bridge to go to a Roy Rogers movie, making certain to put a blanket over the hood of the car, to keep the radiator water from freezing. And of course when she got home, she had to empty the radiator. Good times.

My mother was fortunate enough to have a refrigerator while she was growing up, but her cousins had a hole dug in the back yard, covered with boards, where milk was kept.  Talk of food preservation led to stories of preserving eggs in water glass. This fascinated me, so I looked into it.

Water glass is a mixture of water and pickling lime. Pickling lime is a mixture of bones, oyster shells and limestone that has been heated in a kiln, then hydrated with water. There are different kinds of lime, and a person making water glass will want hydrated lime.

The first rule to preserving eggs in water glass is to use fresh farm eggs that have NOT been washed. when a hen lays an egg, she creates a product with a protective coating that seals the pores and keep bacteria out. This is called the bloom. Only eggs that have a bloom, which store eggs do not, can be preserved in water glass. If an egg is dirty, it can’t be wiped clean, because this affects the bloom. Only the cleanest eggs can be used.

Mix the lime with a ratio of one ounce of lime to one quart of water. You’ll need to mix enough to completely cover the eggs in your food storage grade container. A three-gallon pail with a lid works well. Submerge the eggs in the solution, pointy side down. After the eggs are submerged, cover the pail to decrease evaporation and store the water-glassed eggs in a cool dark place.

Before using the eggs, wash thoroughly, because pickling lime isn’t good for the digestive system.

How long can eggs be kept this way? From 18 months to 2 years.  You can keep adding eggs to the preserving pail daily, but the bottom eggs should be used first.

These eggs are not pickled. They are used just like fresh eggs. The only caveat is to watch for cracks and never use a cracked egg.

Are you familiar with water glassed eggs? Did your family use any old-timey food storage methods? Looking forward to hearing!

A Recipe From My Childhood

How they wrapped my finger up at the ER.

I don’t think I’ve shared this fact before, but I’m super clumsy. My father used to tease me and say they should’ve named me Grace. I always joke that even if there was only one piece of furniture in a room, I’d manage to bump into it and end up with a bruise.

Well, I’ve done it again. I got tangled up with my dogs, fell, and broke my left ring finger. As it is hard to type, I’m doing a simple recipe post today. My family has made this Strawberry Dessert as we call it, for years. It’s light and refreshing, a perfect dessert for a big easter dinner. As it’s best made the day before to be completely set, it leaves you time on Easter for church, preparing the meal, and having fun with family. If you’re like me, unless I make dessert ahead of time whenever, we go without because by the time we’re done cooking, eating, and cleaning up, I’m too tired to make dessert!


Strawberry Dessert


1 angel food cake

2 packages of # ounce strawberry Jell-O

2 Cups boiling water

2 10 oz (approximately) frozen strawberries in syrup, not the unsweetened kind

1 pint whipped cream


  1. Tear angel food cake into bite size pieces and place in a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a bowl, stir boiling water and Jell-O until dissolved. Add frozen strawberries. Stir until strawberries are separated and mixture has started to thicken. Place in refrigerator for fifteen or so minutes until much thicker but not set.
  3. Whip cream to a thick but not stiff stage. Remove strawberry and Jell-O mixture from refrigerator. Fold in whipped cream until mixture is well combined and smooth.
  4. Pour over angel food cake. Refrigerate until firm.

Growing up Lutheran in the Midwest, Jell-O was a staple at family events and church potlucks. I can’t even count how many salad and dessert recipes I have that require this ingredient. This one is one of my spring and summer favorites. I hope you enjoy this blast from my past.

To be entered in my random giveaway for the Hanging With My Peeps T-shirt and a signed copy of Family Ties leave a comment about your favorite Jell-O recipe or the oddest one someone you know has made.