I don’t know why in all the stories I’ve published that I’ve never written about popcorn until this Christmas book I’m writing. A great oversight on my part!
Anyway, I’ve done some research and what I found is interesting.
Even though popcorn is grown on ears, it’s very different altogether from sweet or field corn. The hull of popcorn is just the right thickness to allow it to burst open. Inside each kernel of popcorn is a small droplet. It needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop. Don’t ask me how it gets the water inside there.
All I know is that the water turns to steam when heated and pressure builds.
The oldest ears of popcorn were found in a cave in New Mexico in 1948. The oldest found there were 4,000 years old, so it’s been around an awfully long time.
The Aztecs used popcorn in their ceremonies, decorations, and dances. It was an important food for them as well. When Spanish explorers invaded Mexico, they were astounded by these little exploding kernels of corn.
In South America, popcorn was found in 1,000 year old burial grounds and was so well-preserved it still popped.
Long before corn flakes made an appearance, Ella Kellogg ate ground popped popcorn with milk every morning for breakfast. Her husband, John Kellogg, praised popcorn as being easily digested and highly wholesome. I don’t know if I’d want it in a bowl with milk.
In Victorian times, popcorn decorated fireplace mantels, doorways, and Christmas trees. Kids used to string popcorn and cranberries and was often the only thing on trees unless paper ornaments.
Here are some Corny facts:
Today, Americans consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn yearly.
Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world comes from the U.S.
Major states producing it are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.
National Popcorn Day is January 19th or whatever day the Superbowl falls on.
* * *
Darn, I’m itching to go to the movies! I can smell the popcorn now.
So, I’ve just added a scene in my Christmas book where my heroine pops popcorn for two little kids and they also string some to decorate with. In case you’re curious, the title of the book is A Cowboy Christmas Legend. Look for it September 2021.
Okay, your turn. How much popcorn do you eat? And what is the most surprising fact you learned?
The Fourth of July was celebrated big time in the Old West. From mining camps to wild cow towns, those early settlers used the day to whoop it up with dances, speeches, parades, foot races, and turkey shoots. Not to be left out, even American Indians celebrated the day with pow-wows and dances.
Some celebrations even took place in remote areas. In 1830, Mountain man William L. Sublette, on his way to Wind River with 81 men and 10 wagons, celebrated the holiday next to a large 130-foot-high rock. Claiming to have “kept the 4th of July in due style,” Sublette named the large boulder Independence Rock.
Located in what is now Wyoming, the rock became a signpost for travelers on the Oregon and Mormon trails. Companies arriving at the rock by July fourth knew they had made good time and would beat the mountain snows. Celebrations included inscribing names on the rock and shooting off guns.
Not every community celebrated with guns and fireworks. In 1864, a mining town in Nevada decided to celebrate its first fourth with a dance. Music, flag, and dance committees were formed. Of the three, the music committee was the most challenging as the only musician was a violinist who had an affinity for whiskey. His drinks had to be carefully regulated before the celebration.
Since the town lacked a flag, the flag committee pieced one together from a quilt. Fortunately, a traveling family camping nearby provided the blue fabric. The family included a mother and four girls, which meant more women for the dance. The problem was the girls had no shoes, which would have made it difficult to dance on the rough wood floors. The miners solved the problem by taking up a collection of brogans, and the dance went off without a hitch.
William “Buffalo Bill” Cody made history in North Platte, Nebraska on July 4, 1882, when he mounted an exhibition of cowboy “sports.” This was the beginning of his Wild West shows and what we now call a rodeo.
Not to be outdone, Dodge City did something different two years later for the Fourth of July to attract attention and business; It hosted the first professional Mexican bullfight on U.S. soil. Though the event was a financial success, it was not without controversy. Many, including Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, denounced the sport as barbaric.
Compared to the rest of the country, Denver’s first Fourth of July celebration was oddly subdued. Drinking or carousing was not allowed. Instead, the Declaration of Independence was read, followed by prayers, “chaste and appropriate oration” and wholesome band music.
This year, most public celebrations have been canceled. But we Americans will find a way to keep “the 4th of July in due style.” Just like they did in the Old West.
How are you and your family celebrating the Fourth this year?
He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter.Amazon
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. It’s Mother’s Day as I write this and even though Mother’s Day will be over by the time you see it, I thought it would be fun to share some history and fun facts that surround this special occasion. And yes, I know that for many of us, this Mother’s Day was celebrated differently than what we might have liked
Mothers have been celebrated throughout history.
In one of the earliest celebrations was in ancient Greece. In the spring they would honor Rhea, mother of the gods and the goddess of fertility, motherhood and generation.
In ancient Roman there was also a spring festival celebrating a mother goddess named Cybele. It was held on the Ides of March, lasted three days and was called Hilaria. It involved having her followers make offerings at the temple, hold parades and masquerades and play games.
In England the day coincides with an observance called Mothering Sunday. Originating in the 17th century, it takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, families who had moved away would return home to the original church they attended. A prayer service honoring the Virgin Mary was held and then afterwards children would present flowers to their own mothers.
In America, the celebration had a different origin.
In an effort to honor her own mother Anna Jarvis, who was not a mother herself, wanted to establish a day to celebrate mothers in an intimate manner. She tirelessly campaigned to that end and in May of 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day, thus making it a national day of celebration.
Unfortunately Anna’s story does not have a happy ending. She quickly became disillusioned with the holiday, declaring it had become overly commercialized and that this detracted from the personal aspects she had envisioned. She began staging boycotts and walkouts. Anna eventually spent all her money fighting her cause and died, destitute, at the age of 84 in a sanitorium.
In 2017 approximately $23.5 billion was spent on Mother’s Day gifts and the average consumer in the US spent a little over $185 on their moms.
Mother’s Day holds the record as the third highest day for flower and plant purchases Only Christmas and Hanukkah rank higher. In fact, approximately one fourth of all flowers purchased annually are bought for Mother’s Day. Something that may account for why Mothers love getting flowers is that a study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D of Harvard Medical School, found that that when fresh-cut flowers are around it generally makes people more compassionate and happier in general.
It will probably also come as no surprise that Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for folks to eat out, beating out even Valentine’s Day for that honor. In 2018 approximately 87 million adults visited restaurants on Mother’s Day.
And for those who can’t be there in person to take their mom to a restaurant, Mother’s Day is also the day that ranks as the highest for number of phone calls made. That number reaches something around 122 million.
In 2018 Approximately $4.6 billion was spent on jewelry during the Mother’s Day buying period.
And of course the most popular item to give Mother on her special day is a card. Every Mother’s Day about 152 million cards are sent.
During the 1920s France handed out medals to mothers who had large families. This was done to signify gratitude for helping to rebuild the population of the country that was devastated by the loss of so many lives during WWI. The practice was eventually discontinued and today the more common gift for a mother in France is a cake shaped like a flower.
The record for the oldest woman to give birth is held by a retired schoolteacher in India. Satyabhama Mahapatra gave birth to a boy at age 65.
The record for the shortest length of time between births is held by Jayne Bleackley whose two babies were born only 208 days apart.
On the flip side, the woman who holds the record for the longest interval between births is Elizabeth Buttle. Her first child was born in May of 1956 and her second in November of 1997 when Elizabeth was 60. The infants were born 41 years and 185 days apart.
The record for the highest number of babies born to a single woman is a whopping 69! The woman was a Russian peasant living in the 18th century. She gave birth to 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and 4 set of quadruplets.
And did you ever wonder why the word for Mom in nearly every language starts with an “M” sound? It is likely because the first sound an infant learns to verbalize is the ma sound. Since babies only need to open and close their lips to make these sounds – no teeth or tongue are needed – it comes more easily to them than other sounds.
There you have it. Did any of these facts surprise you? Also, how do you normally celebrate Mother’s Day and how was it different this year? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.
We have a special guest today, so please give Caroline Clemmons a big, warm Petticoats and Pistols welcome!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Thanks to the fillies for sharing the blog with me today.
What better time for us romance readers and authors than a day to celebrate romance? In addition to Valentine cards, common expressions from a man to a woman include chocolates and red roses. I hope I get chocolate! I wouldn’t mind both, of course.
Do you remember how exciting the day was in elementary school when you exchanged Valentines with other children? The smell of library paste and red paper stuck to your fingers? Did you experience the desperation of Charlie Brown for the Little Red-Haired Girl if you were hoping a special classmate gave you a Valentine? Later, when did you get your first heart-shaped box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers? I was in the eighth grade and caught by surprise.
I’d always thought the custom of sending Valentines originated in the nineteenth century. I was wrong. Valentine greetings were exchanged as early as the 15th century and printed cards appeared in the seventeenth century. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.
In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” (Hmm, reminds me of the word “scrapbooking”.) Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (more cards are sent at Christmas). No surprise—women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
If you remember studying his works, I don’t want to give you a headache. However, the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules,” writing,
“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
We’re more concerned with our Valentine’s Day, aren’t we? What I recommend for the day is a book, a romance of course. Kick off your shoes and curl up in a cozy spot to read. So many great writers have romances available to fit every taste.
By the way, I have an upcoming release on February 19 for A BRIDE FOR LUKE (The Proxy Brides Book 10). Although it was considerable work, this was fun to write and I’m hoping readers will enjoy the book. Beta reader results have been very positive! It’s available for preorder now at the Universal Amazon link: http://mybook.to/Maeve. It will be in e-book and print and free in Kindle Unlimited.
Here’s a synopsis blurb:
Each is struggling to build a better life . . .
Two strong-willed people are bound to clash . . .
Danger forces them to focus on what is at stake . . .
Maeve Kelly came to America for a better life but found only signs that said No Irish Need Apply. When the cousin with whom she is staying leaves Boston, Maeve is left desperate. Her job at the laundry doesn’t pay enough for her to survive alone. Her friend suggests a way out, Maeve resists but finally accepts. What else can she do?
Sheriff Luke Sullivan is proud of his accomplishments. Known for his strong principles, he is admired and well-respected in the community. When he learns his mother and aunt have schemed to get him a proxy bride he’s furious. If he’d wanted a wife he would have found one. He respects and loves his mother and aunt and finally agrees to the marriage. Before he and his bride can adjust to one another, Luke is caught in the middle of an explosive situation between striking miners and the railroad.
Threats against Luke by each side have him fearing for the safety of his wife, mother, and aunt. He must resolve the strike to protect his family and many others. Will he succeed in time to save lives?
Enjoy an excerpt:
He pushed back from the table. “How can I keep you safe if you don’t follow orders? Do you understand?”
She put her hands on her hips. “Oh, so it’s orders you’re giving me, is it? Weel, Lucas Brady Sullivan, I take orders from no man. Do you understand?”
“Mae, you’re making something from nothing.” He tapped his chest. “I’m your husband. You promised to obey me when we wed.”
That brought her temper down a notch. She had promised and Father Patrick had lectured her on the husband being the head of the household. “Mayhap I did, but not high handed orders.”
“And what would you consider obeying? You want a written invitation to remain home? Shall I show you the other wanted poster and suggest you avoid that man? You’ve no idea what these other men look like so how would you know if they were walking down the street or shopping in the Mercantile? How can you know who’s an upstanding citizen and who’s a stranger in town? You were in front of the Mercantile when Higgins accosted you.”
She turned toward the sink, hands on her face to hide her shame. “Aye, ‘tis sorry I am. The worry of what’s going to happen has me in bits. I can’t get out of my mind the fact someone may shoot at you from an ambush.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “Don’t fret, honey. I’m doing my best to keep this situation from becoming violent. I can’t focus on my job if I’m worried about where you are and what you’re doing and who’s around you.”
She leaned her head against his broad chest. His strong heartbeat reassured her. “I see the way I was wrong. ‘Twas my mistake and I said ‘tis sorry I am.”
She looked up at him. “But, for us to have a peaceful marriage you’d best consider making requests instead of giving orders.”
Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a tiny office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their three rescued indoor cats and one dog.
The books she creates in her pink cave have made her a bestselling author and won awards. She writes historical and contemporary as well as time travel and mystery. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading her friends’ books, lunching with friends, browsing antique malls, checking Facebook, and taking the occasional nap. Find her on her Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter. She loves to hear from readers at email@example.com
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.
As most of you know, the fillies take the last two weeks off from the regular blogging schedule so we can enjoy the holidays, too. But we want to keep the festive spirit alive and let you know we’re still thinking of you. So every year, we try hard to stir up something fun for everyone.
I’m bringing up the tail end of Jingle Jangle Spurs, and even though Christmas is over, New Year’s is just around the corner. Have you ever wondered how the custom of ringing in the New Year with champagne or a lively cocktail began?
It’s said that after Julius Caesar fiddled with the pagan calendar and ultimately added January, he ordered Roman consuls to begin their new terms then. Hence, in addition to looking forward to the end of winter, the people heralded in some new politicians as well, and took up the opportunity to celebrate.
The practice of heralding the new year spread across Europe and eventually America in the 1800s. Settlers stayed awake until midnight firing their guns, setting off fireworks, and tolling church bells. Some even went door to door demanding drinks like spiked punch and lemonade, along with snacks. Can’t you just imagine the festive atmosphere with the air filled with noise and raucous (and maybe a little drunken) fun?
Later in the decade, champagne emerged as the cocktail of choice in society parties and fine restaurants. I suspect most of you reading this can recall lifting a glass of bubbly after 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve?
My husband and I don’t go out to celebrate like we used to, but I’d love to share my favorite Sangria recipe that’s easy to make, festive and LOW CALORIE to boot!
Even better, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve to enjoy it.
1 750 ml bottle of white zinfadel wine (use red wine, if you prefer!)
1/4 cup orange liqueur like Cointreau
1 unpeeled orange, thinly sliced
1 unpeeled lime, thinly sliced
8 oz can pineapple chunks or slices, undrained
2 cups lime or lemon-lime seltzer, club soda or carbonated water, chilled
Combine all into large pitcher EXCEPT seltzer. Stir and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Add the chilled seltzer just before serving.
Wishing you all a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!
As a child, Saturdays were my favorite day of the week. I remember getting up early and rushing through chores just so I could spend the afternoons watching Westerns. I had an unstable childhood, so I found comfort in the predictability of those old shoot em ups. When a cowboy rode into town, you just knew he would set things straight before riding into the sunset.
I also knew that when the camera zoomed onto the hero’s spurs as he walked into a saloon, he was sending a clear message; No one had better mess with him.
I became fixated on spurs and for good reason. As a foster child, I was constantly being bounced from family to family. This meant I was forever having to change locations. But the hardest part for me was having to walk into a new school, which I did more times than I can remember. This never failed to make me feel like an outsider. Because I was shy, thin as a rail, wore glasses and had red hair, I endured much teasing. No one called it bullying back then, but in modern terms that’s what it was.
After going through an especially hard first day at a new school, I remember thinking enough was enough. Would Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard or Bob Steele stand around while the town picked on them? They would not! Only ten at the time, I decided what I needed was spurs, just like my favorite western heroes wore. The next time I walked into a new school, my spurs would send a clear message that no one better mess with me.
Convinced I had an answer to my problem, I asked for spurs the following Christmas, but never got them. It didn’t matter. The next time I walked into a new school, I pretended I was wearing spurs just like I’d seen one of my cowboy heroes do the previous Saturday. They only jingled in my head but, you know what? It worked. Somehow the jingle-jangle sound that only I could hear helped drown out the teasing and that made me smile. And that smile helped me do something I’d not been able to do at other schools: make new friends. It was a lesson I never forgot.
In that spirit, I wish you all a jingle-jangle holiday season filled with lots of smiles, good friends and loving families. May all your spurs, imagined or real, be shiny ones and bring good things your way.
For a chance to win this “don’t mess with this house” doormat, tell us what movie or TV show made an impression on you as a child?