Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day!

It made me think of how good our house smelled when I’d walk in the door after school and Mom would have a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were my favorites.

I tried and failed so many times over the years to recreate her cookies and couldn’t.

Mom was never good about writing down recipes or sharing them, so I finally gave up.

After she passed away, I happened to find her recipe, tried it, and the cookies were just like the ones she used to make.  With every bite of chocolate-imbued nostalgia, they took me back to those days when I’d come home and she’d ask about my day while I sat at the counter and had a glass of milk with a cookie or two.

If you need a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, here’s the one from my mama.

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and combine. Add vanilla. Stir baking soda and salt into flour then add a little at a time to dough. Stir in chocolate chips.

Use a cookie scoop, or a tablespoon to drop dough on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes until cookie are just set and barely starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: 36 cookies

What is your favorite way to enjoy chocolate chips?

If you aren’t a chocolate fan, what is your favorite cookie?

Post your comment for a chance to win a set of recipe cards!


Valentine’s Day Reflections

Some days I swear I can’t be as old as I am (and no, I’m not sharing that detail). Other days, I feel old. Not so much physically but in the slap-me-upside-the-head-with-a-reminder way. When my children’s babysitters started having children, that was a rude age awakening. (Now some of their children are going college!) This year as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’ve had another odd age related realization.

I remember what a big deal that day was in elementary school. Would my latest crush, Chris or Lester, give me a Valentine. Yes, I’m old enough that we didn’t have to give valentines to everyone in class. In college, I wondered what to do on that day because goodness, no one wanted to be sitting home. And of course, when I was dating, Valentine’s Day was a big deal. Do I give a gift or simply a card? If I go with the gift, what and how much do I spend? Such angst. When I had young children, Valentine’s Day was a great excuse to get a babysitter, go to a restaurant, and have couple time.

This year as a woman married forty-two years, the holiday isn’t as big a deal in the romantic love sense. Hubby and I will have a quiet night at home. We’ll get takeout, but don’t want to deal with getting a reservation and fighting packed restaurants. After dinner, we’ll watch a movie. Now I see the day as a reminder to tell those I care about how much they mean to me, including my exceptionally patient husband.

I want to make a point to thank all of you for being a part of my life. The first Wednesday of the month, you take time out of your busy day to chat with me. You share the ups and downs of this crazy writing life and have helped with my stories in more ways than I can count.

Since candy/sweets is the most popular Valentine’s gift, and I assume most of that is chocolate, I as my Valentine’s Day gift, I’m sharing my grandmother’s Chocolate Drop cookie recipe with you.


Chocolate Drop Cookies

1/2 C butter

1 C sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 C flour

1/2 C milk

4 Tbs Cocoa powder

1/2 C nuts (optional)

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a different bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add egg and milk. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and combine. Drop a small dollop on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for # minutes. Insert a toothpick to test for doneness. Cookies will have a cake like texture.


1 C powdered sugar

1 Tbs cocoa powder

2-3 Tbs butter softened

2-3 Tbs milk

Beat until creamy and smooth. Frost cookies when cool.

These cookies and chocolate covered strawberries are my favorite Valentine’s Day treats? What’s yours? Let me know.

Valentine’s Day in the Old West

Goodness, it’s February already! And that means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. So, whether you love or loathe it, there’s no doubt it’s one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world.

But how did we arrived at a holiday in the dead of winter, and symbolized by a chubby baby wearing a diaper carrying a bow and arrow, that will bring in revenue over $14.2 billion this year?


Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day or the Feast of St. Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14th. It originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named St. Valentine and is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

Formal messages or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Because it was thought that the bird mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day.

Up until the end of the Civil War, men might shower their special lady with a card to express his sentiments.

A “window” valentine ca. 1864.

This card was called a “window valentine” because front flaps opened to reveal a hidden message or image.

Or if a fella was well-to-do, he would purchase “eating chocolates” for his sweetheart. Produced by Richard Cadbury, these chocolates were sold in beautifully decorated boxes that could be used again and again to store mementos, from locks of hair to love letters.


The Old West and Valentine’s Day

Once the war was over, many soldiers left the war-torn East for a new life in the West. So, if a man was lucky enough to have a wife or sweetheart in the far reaches of the frontier, what was available to him?

In lieu of tangible gifts, the suitor might present his lady with something of himself. A carefully handwritten love letter in his best penmanship was a gift many a lady would highly cherish.


Carving out a life in the West, many men acquired skills which came in handy when crafting a gift for his intended. Whether it was a hand-tooled leather sewing box, a wooden blanket chest, or a poem of his own creation, men in the West were determined to show their affection on Valentine’s Day by manufacturing something hewed by his own hands.


By the last decade of the 1800s, access to a mail-order catalog (Sears & Roebucks, Montgomery Ward, and Eaton’s in Canada) offered jewelry, hat pins, parasols, and rings to the man who had hard cash and the desire to impress his lady.

Today, as in the past, Valentine’s Day celebrations are as varied as the people planning them. However, in 1873, this advertisement in the Matrimonial Times actually occurred in San Francisco.

            “Any gal that got a bed, calico dress, coffee pot and skillet, knows how to cut out britches and can make a hunting shirt, knows how to take care of children can have my services till death do us part.”

What women could resist an invitation so eloquently stated?!!!

Turning the clock back to the late 1950’s – early 1960’s…

I have such wonderful, vivid memories of Valentine’s Day in elementary school. A week before Valentine’s Day, every student would bring in a shoe box. During art class, we would decorate our boxes with crepe paper, hearts cut from red and pink construction paper, and paper lace doilies, making sure there was a large slit in the cover for all the Valentine cards we were sure to get. Ironically, most of the cards had a western cowboy/cowgirl theme! Do these look familiar to anyone?


For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, share your comments about a favorite Valentine’s Day memory from your school days.




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, <>.


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