My Favorite Things


I thought it might be fun today to share a few of my favorite things – summer style!

This time of year is always filled with sweet memories from my growing up years on my family’s Eastern Oregon farm. I spent a lot of time with my dad as his official “sidekick,” but I also spent time with my mom, who was determined to “domesticate” me. It took a while but I think she finally succeeded!

At any rate, there are certain things that, to me, say “summertime” and are among my favorites for the summer season.

I adore roses anytime of the year, but I have several rose bushes and love, love sniffing their fragrant blooms. I think they smell the sweetest in June. My favorite color is pink, so pink roses have always been my absolute favorites.

Idaho Spud Bars (which have appeared in a few of my stories) are one of my favorite sweet indulgences. When I was a kid, the local grocery store would often have them on sale in the summer  – four for a $1! Mom would stock up on them and keep them in the fridge. On a hot summer day, there was nothing quite look a chilled Idaho Spud bar. The pillowy, soft cocoa marshmallow center is surrounded by chocolate and rolled in coconut. It is so yummy! If you’ve never had the joy of experiencing one, I hope you get to someday! They are made by a company that has been in business for more than a hundred years.

Music is something I enjoy year round. In the summer, though, I have certain tunes I like to listen to and The Beach Boys are among them. My brother had several of their records and my sister liked to play them. My oldest niece thought the words to Little Deuce Coupe were “Little Goose Goop” so I think we played that song often just to hear her sing her version of the lyrics.


I love summer sunrises, but the sunsets are often far more showy in our little corner of the world. Watching those colors glide across the evening sky makes such a spectacular way to end the day.


Parades, particularly a 4th of July Parade, are another of my favorite things. The little town near our farm always had a big parade and rodeo for the 4th of July. It was a highlight of the summer to attend both. There is just something so patriotic about watching a parade go by (or participating in one!).

Those rodeos I went to as a child are what ignited my love of rodeos and writing about rodeo cowboys!


One year when I was about ten, my sister-in-law brought homemade banana ice cream to our 4th of July gathering. It has been my absolute favorite ice cream since then. When I introduced Captain Cavedweller to it, it became his favorite too. We generally make a batch of it to celebrate Independence Day.  If you’d like to give it a whirl, here is the recipe:

Banana Ice Cream

5 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
4cups whipping cream
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. banana flavoring
4 cups milk
4 ripe bananas, mashed
* Warning! Consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness.   If you do decide to make this and use the raw eggs, please choose eggs that are fresh with no cracks in the shell.
Start by beating the eggs until they are foamy and light. I let mine go about six minutes. Add in sugar and continue mixing. Slow the speed on the mixer and add in the cream followed by the salt, vanilla and banana flavoring. Continue mixing and add in the milk, blending in the bananas last. Pour into your ice cream freezer and freeze according to machine directions. We are usually unable to restrain ourselves long enough to put this in the freezer and let it get firm, but if you can, you can do that. There are never any leftovers, but if you have some, store in a covered container in the freezer for up to a week.

What about you?

What is one of your favorite things about summer?


Summer’s Here!

Are you hot enough yet? It’s going to be a scorcher here in West Texas today at 103! Summer officially arrives tomorrow but it’s a day early. The next three days will see no relief. I hope it’s cooler where you live.

Summers mean gardens and planting crops. Canning. It was work. Hard work. And everyone did their share.

Often people in the 1800s and even earlier had some darn good ideas that I wish we’d implement today. The people were mostly poor folks so how did they make do and survive when they had little money?

One really great idea was starting a seed library. One place or person was designated to collect seeds so when someone got ready to plant a garden, they’d go get what they needed. Then as their gardens died out at the end of the season, they’d take five seeds of each kind of plant back to the library. I always thought this was a great idea and no one went hungry.

I’m not sure why we don’t have these today. But then, people don’t grow gardens anymore. Not like they used to. They just run to Walmart.

I recently saw where scientists are collecting seeds from all over the world and storing them in a bunker up in the Arctic. Some plants are becoming extinct.

Another thing they did on the frontier involved the schools. Back then, as in the schools today, they had little money to operate with. Everything went for a building and a teacher with none left over for buying schoolbooks and supplies. The children would bring one egg each day for the teacher. She’d collect and sell them and use that money for what she needed.

Also, often the school board didn’t even have a place for the teacher to live so she took turns staying in people’s houses. I don’t think I’d have liked that very much.

People back then found ways around every obstacle. Delta Dandridge in a book I wrote called Texas Mail Order Bride used these ideas to help the town of Battle Creek, Texas. She also founded a women’s society and called it Women of Vision. The women all pitched in and restored the run-down town. They rebuilt buildings that were falling down, painted and gussied everything up and that attracted new businesses and settlers.

In case you’re interested, here’s the Amazon Link for the book. But it’s also available everywhere.

Another practice that was not in the book was snow homes. In the winter when school children couldn’t get home because of the snow or rain, they went to the neighbor’s house that had been designated. Often they stayed overnight and then just trudged back to school the next day. Snow homes were a place of safety where you were warm and fed. You were always welcome. I love this practice.

Kids today sometimes don’t always have a safe place to go. They’re just left on their own to figure things out as best they can. But that’s a topic I don’t want to get into.

What do you think of these? Did your mother or grandmother ever tell you about other practices they had back then?

I’m giving away one ebook copy of Texas Mail Order Brides.

This started my Bachelors of Battle Creek series.

10 Things to Do Before Summer Ends

I don’t know about you, but the summer days are flying past. I’m pretty sure they stir a breeze and make a whirring sound as they whiz past my head.

Before summer bliss turns to cozy days of autumn, I thought I’d share a list of ten things to do before summer winds to an end.

  1. Blow Bubbles. Doesn’t matter if you have kids or not, go blow a few bubbles and see if a few worries and cares don’t float away with the soapy orbs.
  2. Go on a Picnic. It doesn’t matter if you make something elaborate, run by the deli, or grab take-out, pack a blanket and your loved ones and head for a park or picnic area you haven’t visited this summer.

  3. Host a bonfire. Make sure you follow local ordinances and keep a hose handy. And don’t forget to have plenty of S’mores supplies on hand.

  4. Eat a popsicle. It’s cold and sweet and perfectly delightful. Indulge and enjoy. Have a contest to see who can make theirs last the longest.

  5. Pick fresh fruit. Scan the classified ads or ask around for the best “U-pick” fruit location and then go pick something. You’ll be glad you did when you bite into that fresh off-the-tree fruit!

  6. Take a hike or a bike ride. Go somewhere off the beaten path and really look around you. Take in the scenery, the smells, the sounds. It won’t be long until fall paints an entirely different canvas over nature.

  7. Take photos. Although the moments won’t last, the photos and memories will. Take photos of your family and friends enjoying the last days of summer in all their joy and silliness.

  8. Eat watermelon. Take it outside and let the kids munch to their heart’s content, with juice running down their chins and onto their toes. I dare you to join them! There is summer sweetness packed in every juicy sweet bite.

  9. Make homemade ice cream. There is nothing like making your own ice cream and enjoying each cool, creamy bite of frozen confection. Our favorite is banana ice cream.

  10. Enjoy a sunset. There is nothing quite as spectacular as watching the summer sun sink into the western horizon. The pinks, oranges and golds that fill the sky can be breathtaking. Go sit outside and watch nature’s beauty descend. If you are of a mind to keep up the gazing, throw down a blanket and watch the stars.

I’m going to see how many of these I can cross off the list before September arrives!


For a chance to win a mystery prize,

post one thing you are looking forward to doing before summer ends. Or share something fun you’ve already done this summer!

How I Spent My Summer

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Happy Labor Day!

Since I’ve already done a post on Labor Day history and trivia in a previous post (you can read it HERE ), I thought I’d do something a little different this year – take a look back on my summer.

As you may or may not remember, I had foot surgery back in mid-February. It was a long healing process – 12 weeks where I couldn’t let my foot touch the floor and another 2 weeks where I could walk, but only if I wore a medical boot.  This was me at the end of those 14 weeks.

That took me to the end of May. So as summer began I was ready to make up for lost time.  I made a trip to my hairdresser – such a relief to get rid of 4 months worth of shagginess!  Then we made a trip down to my Mom’s – so good to be able to visit with her and some of my siblings again.

It was also in June that my future daughter-in-law invited me to accompany her and her bridesmaids (which included my daughters) to shop for their dresses. The wedding gown she picked is breath taking and the bridesmaids dresses are lovely and I was very happy I got to tag along and be part of the day.

Another thing I was once more able to do was have all my kids and their families over to my house, which is just what we did to celebrate my husband with a Father’s Day family lunch.

The month of June ended with me dogsitting for my daughter’s sweet and frisky Dean while she and her husband went on vacation. Dean made sure that I got my exercise, no matter how hot it was outside!

July was all about the Romance Writers of America national conference – something I look forward to every year. Preparations included getting my notes together for the workshop I was scheduled to present, making sure I was prepared for the board meeting (I’m currently a member of the RWA board), doing a little shopping and getting my hair and nails done.

But I also began to feel that something was still not quite right with my foot. A visit to my doctor three days before my scheduled departure for Denver confirmed my fears. He told me to resume wearing my medical boot and he scheduled a CT scan for the week after I returned.

Determined to find the silver lining, I posted this picture, saying that it had definitely lightened my suitcase to only have to pack left shoes!

Despite having to wear the boot, I had a great time at the conference in Denver.  My agent, the fabulous Michelle Grajkowski, along with her associate Cori Deyoe, invited all their clients who were at the conference to tour the fabulous Molly Brown House Museum with them. The place was a fabulous step back in time and I learned a lot of things I hadn’t previously known about this remarkable woman.

The rest of the conference went equally well. While there were some things I couldn’t do – no dance party for me – I focused on the things I could do.  The workshop Renee Ryan and I presented was well attended and well received. I had opportunities to visit with several editors I’d targeted, my agent and I had a productive career planning session and I was able to meet all of my volunteer obligations. But one of my favorite parts of the conference is getting to spend time with friends, some of whom I only get to see this one time a year. Here are pics of just a few of those friends I reconnected with this year.

Three days after I got home from the conference I was back in the doctor’s office listening to the results of the CT scan. It seems one of the metal screws they inserted in February had shifted and was causing problems that only another surgery could correct. A week later it was done and I was back in a post-op cast with strict instructions not to let my right foot so much as touch the floor. This time I was a little more prepared for the process, but cabin fever is what it is. The only time I get out of the house these days is to visit the doctor. On the bright side, I’m enjoying being able to being able to do a lot more reading guilt free 🙂

Since my surgery I’ve gone through two more casts.  The doctor lets me pick my cast color so I tend to pick colors that make me happy.  I think my next one will be a bright blue 🙂


However, there was a wedding shower scheduled for my son and his fiancee down at my Mom’s (a 5 hour drive from me) that I was determined not to miss. So my three daughters agreed to drive me down in my van and get me there.  It meant packing up my wheelchair, knee scooter and assorted other paraphenalia, and setting up the van so I could sit with my foot propped off the floor for the entire trip.  Here’s what the back of my van looked like for an overnight trip.

But it was well worth it!  The shower was lovely, the guests were all family so it was great having a chance to visit. Here’s a picture of the happy couple along with the cake my very talented sister made for them.

So that was what my summer was like.

How about you? Did you take a fun vacation or stay-cation? Have any memorable moments? 

Leave a comment and I’ll pick one person to win their chice of any book in my backlist.