Category: New Year

Musings From A Budding Optimist

2020 is off and running for me with a big event. Tomorrow To Tame A Texas Cowboy is released! 

I’m also starting out the new year with a shiny new outlook thanks to some advice I received. 

I’m a firm believer that everyone we encounter teaches us something. I also believe the simplest action sometimes has a profound impact. That’s what I discovered when I entered Maxine’s Uptown Boutique, in Pitman, New Jersey and met Jinger Cahill. What she told me changed my outlook. Today, I’m passing on her wisdom.

My heroine, Cheyenne Whitten, a barrel racer, is definitely an optimist. For me, that sometimes proved difficult. My strength has been seeing possible pitfalls in situations. Because of that, I never would’ve called myself an optimist and have tried to change that. I’ve heard “it’s how you look at something” before. It’s the old the glass is half-full, not half-empty idea, but I’ve struggled to put those words into practice.

Jinger taught me what I give voice to, I give power to and attract more of. When I said I struggled with negativity, the universe heard, “Hey, I love negativity! Give me more!” As I’m writing, the vision of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors saying “Feed me, Seymour” popped into my head! 🙂 

Over the years, people have told me not to worry. I’ve been given what I call the Frozen advice—Let it go.  I’ve been told not to get my panties in a bunch. I thought it was great advice, but wondered how to accomplish it? How do I rewire my brain? Then Jinger shared a quote from Mother Teresa. “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” The light bulb went off. My brain screamed, “I understand it now!” Instead of concentrating on what not to do, I needed to give my brain something else to focus on! The way for me to fend off those emotions was to work on being more positive.

I’ve never been a big believer in affirmations. Imagine Natalie Wood’s character, Susan in Miracle on 34th Street. When she doesn’t find the gift she asked Santa for under the tree, in the car on the way home she mutters, “I believe. I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” That was me when I tried Jinger’s affirmation, and like Susan, I received a surprise.

“Great I Am, White Light of Truth (you can tailor to your own beliefs), only good will come to me. Only good will go from me. So be it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Those few words reframed my thinking. They remind me to stay positive. When I slide back into old ways, they remind me to look at the flip side of a situation and to focus on what I can do, rather than what I shouldn’t.

If what I’ve shared resonates with you, great. If not, file it away. Someone you meet may need to hear it one day. Whichever the case, thank you for being here today, and I wish you a blessed 2020 full of possibilities. 

I have two giveaways today. One person will receive the Chakra bracelet from Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique. Another will receive the Goldstone bracelet, and both will receive a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about the best or most impactful advice you’ve received. 

Click here to buy a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. Click here to like and follow Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique on Facebook.  

Updated: January 7, 2020 — 9:13 pm

The Simplest Gift

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.

Cream Puffs

½ C butter

½ tsp salt

1 C water

1 C sifted flour

4 eggs

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 

collapse.

Filling:

Mix together—

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. 

Updated: January 2, 2019 — 8:59 am

Christmas Came Just the Same–Imperfections and All!

First, I wish everyone a blessed and happy 2018.

Last month I wrote about how doing less could make for a better holiday. I truly believe that, but this year I pushed the cutting back on the holiday production to the limits.

It was one of those years when my dear hubby and I couldn’t get our act together. It started with our tree, but continued all the way through New Year’s Day. Normally, we decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but this year everyone had other activities. Hubby and I kept saying we’d get it done, but three days before Christmas, there we were, still without a tree. While we did put one up and had lights, we never did put on the ornaments. But you know what? To paraphrase Dr. Seuss and my husband, “Christmas was just fine.”

I’ve spent years working to overcome my perfectionist nature. In the past I became upset when little things went wrong or didn’t get done because I felt everything had to be perfect. I missed opportunities to be present in the moment because I believed I had to be perfect.

This year I realized I do write what I know. My characters, especially my heroines, often struggle with trying to please everyone. They wrestle with the idea that their self-worth is tied to their accomplishments and others’ approval. They’re trying to be perfect. Those characters learn the journey can be as important as the destination.

Over the years while I’ve learned that lesson, I do backslide. (I felt guilty about cutting so many holiday corners, but not too guilty.) So, I’ve decided this year I’m making changes regarding New Year’s resolutions. My BFF Lori quotes a blog written by Jen Hatmaker on January 5, 2015 entitled “The Thing About Being More Awesome.” (If you want to read the blog go to http://www.Jenhatmaker.com.) She claims many resolutions set us up for failure and revolve around trying to be “more awesome.” We think we need to be the best author, mother, friend, spouse, and the list goes on. She insists, “The finish line to this particular rat race is THE GRAVE.” Lori and I joke about making a sign with the resolution Try To Be Less Awesome. Translation—quit trying to be perfect. So that’s what I’m going to do in 2018.

The best I can do is good enough, and I’m going to celebrate it. I’m giving myself permission to say yes to what gives me joy, no to what doesn’t, and to feel less guilty about both. Life is too short to live it any other way.

When my perfectionist starts nagging me, I plan to tell myself to quit trying to be more awesome. Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about what helps you when you find yourself trying to do too much, and be entered for a chance to win the ornament and a Leather and Lace scented candle from my favorite shop Rustic Ranch!

Updated: January 3, 2018 — 9:00 am

Facing Leftovers and Memories

 

I’m so pleased to be the first Filly to kick off 2018!  I hope each of you had a great holiday and the coming year will be even better.

Yesterday, as I wrote my blog for today, I began to think…”What in heck am I going to do with the leftovers from the holiday?  Be it candy and goodies, that I sure don’t need, to great food like ham and turkey with all the fixin’s.”  It made me wonder what and how the holiday season was celebrated during the 1800’s.  So, I pitched what I had planned to write and began checking

out the idea.  I’m thrilled to share with you some thought provoking ideas.

What kind of beverage who the pioneers drink to welcome in the New Year?

  • Champagne: used throughout the 1800’s
  • Ale cocktail: a mixed drink comprised of ale, ginger, and pepper beginning in 1838;
  • Apple brandy a/k/a Apple Jack: a  liquor distilled from apple cider;
  • Brandy sour: brandy, lime or lemon juice and carbonated water, from the 1860’s;
  • Brandy toddy: brandy mixed with hot water and sugar;
  • Cocktail: got its name by 1806 for any mixed alcoholic drink;
  • Martini: comprised of gin and vermouth also briefly known as a Martinez; and
  • Syllabub:  a drink I’d never heard of. It’s similar to eggnog, but made with white wine, brandy, sugar, and whipped cream. It was traditionally served at Christmas early in the century, especially in Charleston.

Tea:  The first Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, or A&P, opened in 1859 on Vesey Street in NYC.  Its rows of tea bins contained teas from around the world.  By 1880, there were 95 A&P stores from Boston to Milwaukee.

Coffee:  Although tea was the preferred beverage until the Civil War, coffee was lightened with Borden condensed milk as early as the 1860’s.  Yes, you read that correct, the condensed milk we use today.  Chase and Sanborn coffee was sold in sealed cans around 1878.  Maxwell canned coffee followed the following year.

Now, what would the kids enjoy, in the way of candy?

Pretty much the same as today…peanut brittle, fudge, pralines and popcorn balls.  After the mind 1800’s, gumdrops and jujube paste became available. Penny candy came in later.  Chocolate was available throughout the century; with milk chocolate being invented later.

Christmas dinner was just about the same as today, depending on the part of the country you came from and your wealth.  Turkey, chestnut dressing, roasted  pig, celery, hot rolls, cranberry sauce and potatoes.  Desserts ran today’s gamut…mincemeat pie, pumpkin pie, and one of my favorites being a Texas girl with a Southern mother, sweet potato pie.  We enjoyed mincemeat because of my Ohio born and raised Daddy.

One of my favorite items, which I’ve never tried, is beaten biscuits. Eaten in the South for breakfast prior to the Civil War, the name was derived from the dough, which had to be repeatedly pounded with a hammer or mallet to knead it.

In my story No Time for Love in the anthology Give Me a Cowboy, which was my first published work with Kensington, with fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace, I used this for a scene.  Here is the back blurb: “Newspaperman Quinten Corbett wasn’t expecting his new apprentice to be female. Boston-born Kaire Renaulde is far too refined for a rough-and-tumble frontier town—and far too pretty for his peace of mind….’  It was fun to write and I hope you enjoyed if you’ve read the story.

I could write the rest of the day on interesting foods for the holiday in the 1800’s, but I think I’ll leave you to ponder over what I’ve tossed your way.  After all, I have eggnog left over and is waiting for me before an open fire, while my darlin’ hubby watches football.

In my neck of the woods, the Texas Panhandle, we celebrate New Year’s Day with a larrupin’ serving of black-eyed peas and cornbread.  When I was growing up, we also had corned beef and cabbage. Now, I confess that Mama won out.  Daddy, being from the North, said black-eyed peas were thrown to the hogs, but I guess to keep peace she added mincemeat pie to the holiday menu.  Such wonderful memories.

Is there any special meal you serve for New Year’s Eve or Day?

To two readers who leave a comment, I will be giving away their an autographed copy of Give Me  a Texan or if you already have read it, I’ll offer an eBook of your choice.

 

Updated: January 2, 2018 — 1:50 pm

Ten New Year Thoughts

What a difference a year…or four days…make. Decorations are put away and the good times stored in my memory. It’s time to look forward to the future and I do think this will be an easier year.

In 2018, I’ll reissue The Cowboy Who Came Calling in February (Book #2 of Texas Heroes) and TO CATCH A TEXAS STAR in July (Book #3.) Those will wind up the series in a fine fashion before I start releasing Outlaws Mail Order Brides in January 2019.

But whoa there! I’m getting ahead of myself. 2017 has a few a more days left.

I’m supposed to write about resolutions except I don’t make New Year resolutions. Never have. So here’s a compromise—I’m just going to call these Ten New Year’s thoughts.

  • I want to write more books that not only entertain but leave you with something to ponder.
  • I want to make this a fun year as much as I’m able.
  • I plan to dance in the rain and celebrate a milestone birthday. Never mind which one.
  • I plan to self-publish a short book or two on my own.
  • I want to give with my whole heart in everything I do. Life’s too short to hold back.
  • I want to do my part to help this earth by recycling, keeping my corner clean, and stamping out litter.
  • I want to do what I can to help the homeless people and pets.
  • I want to be a better, kinder, more sympathetic person.
  • I want to listen with my heart instead of my ears.
  • I want to make my family proud every day.

There you have it. Ten thoughts for 2018—God willing and the creek don’t rise. I’m sure you have your own set of thoughts. I wish you peace, love, and harmony now and forever.

I’m giving away a Linda Broday 2018 small wall calendar. To enter the drawing, tell me about your weather or what Santa brought you or what book you’re reading. I’ll draw late Saturday.

 

 

The Week Between

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was one I looked forward to with great anticipation each year during my childhood.

It wasn’t just the break from school that made the week fun (although I so enjoyed the freedom of not being at school or being plagued with mountains of homework).

If there was more than an inch of snow on the ground (which was typically the case on our Eastern Oregon farm), it meant unlimited outdoor entertainment. We went sledding off the hill right outside our back door, skating on the pond, snowmobiling across the sagebrush on the other side of the canal, and we even built snow forts a time or two.

Because my parents had a big house with ample room for parking, we almost always hosted Christmas for our extended family. My mom’s family and dad’s family took turns coming.

One year in particular I remember well because Mom’s family had all come for Christmas. We barely had a dusting of snow on the ground, so we spent most of the day inside with nothing to do but play with new toys, eat yummy food, and wish it would snow.

But then, in that magical week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it snowed, and snowed. And then snowed some more. In an impromptu effort to wring every bit of fun we could from the holiday season, Daddy invited his family to come over for New Year’s Day.

Snowy fun, circa 1970-something. That’s my John Deere snowsuit in the back left side of the photo with the hood securely tied almost up to the nose.

Mom made a huge pot of chili and enough cinnamon rolls to feed a small army.  My aunts provided salads and sides along with oodles of desserts. Family began arriving late morning and we spent the rest of the day sledding, skating, and having a wonderful time. The cold and darkness didn’t even put an end to our fun. After warming up with chili and hot chocolate, some of my hardier cousins trouped back outside to sled in the dark.

I’ll never forget that special New Year’s Day or how much fun we had.

Do you have any special New Year’s Day memories from your childhood

(or maybe from a holiday with your children?) 

One lucky commenter will receive their choice of a digital copy of any one of my books.

Wishing you all a safe, peaceful, joyous New Year’s Day and a fabulous 2018!

A Quilt for the New Year & Book Giveaway

MargaretBrownley-headerYou’re invited to an old fashioned Quilting Bee.  Look at my quilt below and tell me how you would decorate a patch to add. It can be a picture, a resolution, a wish for the New Year or anything you want it to be.  One lucky “quilter” can choose either a copy of Petticoat Detective or Undercover Bride(Sweepstakes rules apply.)

patchwork-quilts

I’m giving you each a blank patch to add to my quilt. 

What would your patch say or what would it look like?

 

HeaderBanner_CalicoSpy

Someone is killing off the Harvey Girls and undercover Pinkerton detective Katie Madison hopes to find the killer before the killer finds her—or before she burns down the restaurant trying.

To order my brand new release, Calico Spy, click here!

Amazon

B&N

iTunes

 

Updated: January 2, 2016 — 10:44 am