I’m Like, Totally Your Huckleberry

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!

 

New Years Eve Tradition…and My Clever Mom

I’m talking today about my family’s New Years Eve traditions.

This is my family growing up, not my children and husband today.

I’m from a family of eight kids. Eight kids in a three bedroom farmhouse that was so old, before my mom and dad moved in, they were using it to store ears of corn. When Mom and Dad got married, there on the land my grandpa owned was this little old house.

Three rooms TOTAL. They did a bunch of fixing and turned it into (drumroll) a four room house.

Now, people didn’t always live in the mini-mansions they all do today, so it wasn’t that uncommon. But it was pretty squashed.

Mom and Dad slept on a fold out couch and the kids, which just kept popping up every year or two, slept in this cracker box upstairs, one room with a roof that slanted. When my SIXTH sibling was born, a brother, Mom and Dad added onto the house by…buying another house, hauling it in and setting it down by the current house. Now the house had THREE bedrooms.

But, I now slept on Mom and Dad’s fold out couch (which I did  not fold out). You can count that as a fourth bedroom, but it really wasn’t one.

All this to say, we were pretty poor and I was raised without much fancy stuff. And I really didn’t notice…much.

In the context of being poor, every New Years Eve, Mom would make this feast for us that was kind of expensive.

She’d get the pan out she used for deep frying, she had a wire basket to sink down into the hot oil, and she’d fry shrimp and chicken, French fries and onion rings.

It was DELICIOUS. My dad especially liked it which is why she probably did it.  But except for the shrimp, which she bought breaded, it was all made from scratch.

She’d peel and ‘french fry’ the potatoes. She’d dip pieces of chicken in a thin batter, and she’d make these onion rings that, every once in a while, I can find in a restaurant that is seriously trying to make delicious food. The onion rings would go in a thin batter, then she’d drop them in the hot oil and they’d kind of be all stuck together.

We’d just surround the poor woman and she couldn’t turn out that wonderful once-a-year food fast enough.

I’m fond of saying, I never knew there was such a thing as a cookie that wasn’t warm.

Same for shrimp and onion rings, deep fried chicken and French fries. We always ate this food as fast as she could cook it.

I found out much later that part of this annual deep-fried feast was Mom and Dad trying to come up with a way to keep us all home (as we got old enough to have driver’s licenses) She worried about wild behavior (for us) and drunk drivers on the road with us.

In fact we didn’t start the tradition until I was a little older, so there’s some truth to it.

I always have loved fried shrimp (honestly, I like every kind of shrimp!), and once in a while I get those really great batter-dipped onion rings like Mom used to make.

And they remind me of a simple time in a three-bedroom farmhouse with a herd of kids all surrounding a very special and clever Mom.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021!

To celebrate the new year.

And to say a FULL-THROATED GOOD-BYE AND GOOD RIDDENCE TO THE OLD ONE!

I am giving away an ebook.

I have new release that has been released before…in a novella collection.

So it may be one you’ve read before.

Dr. Tess and the Cowboy

An archeologist discovers dinosaur bones and wants to preserve an important site.

Her dream come true may destroy his ranch.

Or it may lead them to true love.

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Auld Lang Syne — A History


HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!

 
Welcome!  Welcome!
 
Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d take a break from posting about Native America and take trip to Scotland instead via a song.
 
It is to Scottish songwriter, Robert Burns, that the world owes its debt for the beautiful poem of Auld Lang Syne.  Interestingly, it’s become an  anthem that is recognized and sung all around the world.
 
.As the website at http://www.scotland.org says: “Auld Lang Syne is one of Scotland’s gifts to the world, recalling the love and kindness of days gone by, but in the communion of taking our neighbours’ hands, it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take into the future.”

 
Robert Burns penned the poem in 1788 and it is said to be set to an old folk song from the Lowland in Scots tradition, but interestingly, the melody sung the world round on New Year’s is not the original tune that the music was set to.  The older tune is said to be sung in Scotland in tradition.  I couldn’t find the original melody for this old song, but I wish I had — I’d love to hear what it was all about.

 
Another interesting fact is that it was Guy Lombardo who popularized the song and its use at New Year’s — although the song was brought to the United States by Scottish immigrants.  Lombardo started his broadcasts in 1929 — and it just somehow caught on — to the world at large.
 
In the words of Robert Burns, himself:
 
“… is not the Scots phrase, ‘Auld Lang Syne’, exceedingly expressive – there is an old song and tune which has often thrilled thro’ my soul”.
 
Robert Burns — a very handsome young man — who, though born a peasant, yet  lived with vigor and unfortunately for the world at large died young of rheumatic fever, even as his wife was giving birth to their 9th child.  He was only 37 years old.
 
9 children?  Goodness, he was busy, wasn’t he?  But he gave the world so much!
 

The words to Auld Lang Syne — taken from the website:  http://www.scotland.org/ features/ / the-history-and-words-of-auld-langsyne

Fancy singing along yourself? Here are the verses, and a translation of the words to Auld Lang Syne:
 
Scots Language version
 
Auld Lang Syne
 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.
 
Chorus
 
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne,
 
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
 
Chorus
 
We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.
 
Chorus
 
We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
Frae mornin’ sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.
 
Chorus
 
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.
 
Chorus
 
English translated version
 
Long, Long Ago

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And long, long ago.
 
Chorus
 
And for long, long ago, my dear
For long, long ago,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago
 
And surely youll buy your pint-jug!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago.
 
Chorus
 
We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered manys the weary foot
Since long, long ago.
 
Chorus
 
We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since long, long ago.
 
Chorus
 
And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will
For long, long ago.
 
Chorus

 
It’s been a rough year for many of us.  And yet, in some ways, our spirit has risen up to the occasion.  It is my wish for you that this next year be a better and more promising year.  I think we still have a bit of a rough ride ahead of us, but if we can keep loving one another throughout this next year, I think we’ll be okay.
 
Let me know your thoughts.  And, also what do you plan to do this New Year’s Eve?  For our family, it’s games!  Games!  Games!  Maybe some slow dancing, too…

 
Peace!

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.  

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. 

Happy New Year’s Eve!

 

Tonight we say goodbye to 2018. Whatever the year has brought you, it’s now over and it’s time to look forward with optimism. We have a clean slate! Start it with the things that mean the most to you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE FROM ALL THE FILLIES!!

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!

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.