Monday, March 27, 2017

A Slice of Life - 3

Oh, sometimes I despair of ever being able to cook anything resembling a decent meal!  All the times I tried cooking when I was younger, I always assumed it just got easier to do when you were grown up.
Well, it doesn’t. I’m beginning to feel sorry for Riley He tries so hard to eat anything I make without complaining, but it’s hard to miss his grimace every time he takes a bite. He tries to keep a smile on his face, but I can tell he enjoyed the food the ranch hands cooked better than whatever I try to scrounge up in the kitchen. 
Like today, for instance. I was determined to cook a good breakfast. At home, it was one of my favorite meals. There’s nothing like a good breakfast to get you ready for the day.
Riley has a fondness for flapjacks, and I hadn’t tried cooking any since we were married, so I thought I’d give it a try.
I made my way into the kitchen and flipped through the handy recipe book Mother gave me as a wedding present. I have to say, that gift was better than anything else we were given! Mother understands how hard it is for me to cook. I located the recipe for pancakes and scanned the ingredients.
In all honesty, it didn’t look that hard. There couldn’t have been more than half a dozen ingredients, and every one of them was simple. Buttermilk, flour, baking powder, eggs, salt, and butter. The measurements were clearly listed, and I was confident this would be the one breakfast I got right.
I scurried around collecting everything I would need and setting it on the counter. I double checked to be sure I had the baking powder and not the soda. I learned my lessons with that a long time ago!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Photo Friday: Stepping Stones Covers

I thought it would be fun to give you a peek at all of the Circle C Stepping Stones covers. These first two (Books 1 & 2) are the current books. They were just released! The next two are covers for books 3 & 4), coming out next fall. And the last two (Book 5 & 6) are *shhh--Andi Blog Fans only* what I would like to suggest to my publisher (but they are NOT for sure. Only my ideas).

1. Which one(s) do you like best? 
2. Who do you think the boy character (in the story) is on cover #5, the blue cover? You've met him before. :-)




Thursday, March 23, 2017


A fan was wondering about Tucker,  Riley's dog. They wanted to know if he was a border collie. The answer to that is yes, but the breed was not recognized as such until the early 1900s. So I couldn't use "border collie" in the book. Here is everything you have ever wanted to know about how the border collie came into being.

Riley’s dog, Tucker, is a working member of the collie dog family. He looks and acts like a border collie. However, the specific breed name “border collie” was not officially established until 1915, when the term was used to distinguish between this particular kind of collie and the Scottish collie. By whatever name you want to call Tucker, he is a collie-type dog and especially good at herding livestock: sheep, cows, and even ducks.

Collies originated in Scotland, where they have herded sheep for hundreds of years. They spread all over the world and are sometimes called “sheep” dogs. Border collies are highly intelligent and extremely energetic, acrobatic, and athletic. In fact, many say the border collie is the most intelligent of the dog breeds.

Border collies are medium-sized dogs, with a moderate amount of fur (that sheds frequently). They come in almost any arrangement of colors: black and white (the most common and Tucker’s coloring), red/tan/white, black/tan/white, and even one solid color. Their ears can stand up, droop, or be semi-erect, like Tucker’s. Sometimes they have one blue and one brown eye. Tucker’s eyes are both brown.

Old Hemp
The first official “border collie” was a dog named “Old Hemp.” He was born in 1893, and his herding style was a little different from how the other herding collies worked. Hemp was quiet and powerful, and the sheep responded well. Many liked his style and used him as a stud to improve their own collie lines. Thus, the “border collie” breed was born. Every purebred border collie today can trace their lineage back to Old Hemp.   

Border collies need considerable daily physical exercise and mental stimulation. The Circle C ranch gives Tucker plenty of opportunities to run, herd, and work. Running alongside while Riley rides Dakota is sheer joy for Tucker. He is a bundle of energy.

Do border collies make good pets? Yes and no. Due to their working heritage, border collies are very demanding, playful, and energetic. They need space and lots of action, either with humans or other dogs. If not given chances to expend their energy, the border collie will chew holes in walls and furniture. Outside they will dig holes out of boredom. In a household of small children, they will want to herd them, along with any small pets like cats and other dogs. They can’t help it. This was bred into them for hundreds of years. It is what they are as a dog.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 5

To begin this story go HERE.

Chapter 5-

“So, that’s the story,” Andi finished. “It’s nothing important.”
“It sure isn’t,” Cory agreed as the four sat around in front of Goodwins the next afternoon. “And I haven’t seen ol’ Zeke around since we got out of school today, either. Everything must have cooled down since yesterday.” He shook his head. “Too bad. And here I thought there might be something exciting going on in this town for a change.”
“How about this for excitement?” Rachel offered. “Let’s play some hide-and-seek. It’ll pass the time and keep us from becoming Fresno’s worst gossips.”
The boys looked doubtful. Hide-and-seek was a sissy game.
“Okay,” Andi agreed, eyeing the boys. Then she grinned. “Or, if you don’t want to do that, we could jump rope or something.”
Jack made a face.
Cory shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous, Andi. I wish you had your horse in town. We could take turns riding her.”
“Another day,” Andi replied. “Besides, Taffy gets bored riding up and down the streets of Fresno. She’d much prefer to gallop on the range.”
She frowned, thinking of another long afternoon stuck in town because Justin was keeping late hours. Perhaps she could ride Taffy into town tomorrow and thus be able to go home right after school.
She jumped down from the boardwalk. “I’ll be IT first,” she offered generously, “since you boys don’t really want to play, anyway.”

Andi turned around and buried her face against Goodwins’ plate-glass window. She counted to one hundred as quick as she could, hoping to get a glimpse of a leg or an arm when she turned around.
“ONE HUNDRED!” Andi shouted at the now-deserted street.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Slice of Life -2

I wonder why I ever thought being married would be boring! It’s brought some of the most interesting adventures I’ve had yet.
The most recent one happened earlier today. I made my way out to the barn, planning on taking a ride on Shasta. However, I only got as far as the tack room when one of the hired men came galloping up to the house, yelling my name.
As I watched him vault out of the saddle and run up the porch, I froze. Had something happened to Riley?
Suddenly, my feet came alive. I set the saddle I’d been holding on the corral fence as I flew toward the house. When he heard my footsteps, the man turned from the porch, saying something about someone getting injured.
The look on my face must have shown my thoughts, for he was quick to assure me that it wasn’t Riley. Instead, two of the men had been fixing a length of barbed wire fencing when for some reason, the second man lost his grip. The metal flew from his hands, slashing his partner in the face.
Riley had sent this man ahead to ask if I could have warm water and some rolls of gauze ready to try and stop the bleeding.
As the messenger galloped away, I made my way up the steps and into the kitchen. I put on a pot of water to boil, and made my way to the medicine cabinet.
I had never needed to help with ranch incidents before. Normally, Chad would take care of them, or if further help was needed, Mother would help. Taking a deep breath, I squared my shoulders. For Riley to bring the man to the house, it must be pretty bad. I sent a quick prayer heavenward, hoping the deadly wire had missed his eyes.
Picking out two rolls of neat, white fabric, I decided to grab the iodine as well. That finished, I made my way back to the kitchen.
By the time I had the bowl of warm water ready, I could hear horses approaching the ranch. Trying to keep a hold of everything with only two hands, I made my way into the living room and set them on the small table. Moments later, Riley appeared, his face flushed and red. My heart jumped as I saw blood on his hands, but I realized a moment later it wasn’t from him, but rather from the man he was helping.
It was one of the newer ranch hands, though all I could see of him were his eyes. Thank God, the wire had missed them. His teeth were gritted in pain, and every breath came out as a gasp. I’ve never been someone to feel queasy at the sight of blood, but when I saw what the wire had done to his face, I quickly looked away.
Riley took no time in setting him down, and his eyes scanned the supplies I had set on the table. It was then I realized I had forgotten a cloth to help clean his face.
I flew back into the kitchen and grabbed a clean cloth. When I got back, Riley grabbed it from me and thrust it into the bowl of water.
As I watched him wipe the blood away, my own blood boiled at the thought of some careless worker causing this.
I know Riley has dismissed him by now, and I have to say I’m glad he no longer works here.
Ranch work is nothing to be careless about.
Riley was able to staunch the flow of blood and get the man wrapped up well enough to head to Doctor Weaver’s office. I’m so thankful he did it. I can’t imagine having to do that on my own.
I never realized just how much Mother took care of. Nurse, housekeeper, manager . . . Life on a ranch calls for one person to be able and fill many different roles.
Well, now that things have settled down to normal, I think I’ll go on that ride. The sun is shining, and nothing sounds better than a gallop with Shasta!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fan Fiction Stories

It's been really busy, and a couple of (short) fan fiction stories came in. Mrs. M has been dragging her feet about posting them, but she have a few minutes after the convention to do so tonight. Enjoy!

Virginia's Point of View by Abigail D. 

Crown of Slop by Abbi. G.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 4

To begin this story, go HERE.

Chapter 4

Andi didn’t forget her promise to Cory about asking why Zeke’s son, Toby, was in jail. As soon as supper was in full swing—and before the boys could launch into a boring discussion of cattle prices—Andi popped the question.
Silence fell. Five pairs of eyes turned in her direction.
Andi glanced from Justin to Mother, then at her other brothers and sister, then back at Justin. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No,” Justin answered, smiling. “It just seems an odd question coming out of nowhere. What prompted your curiosity about Toby?”
Andi shrugged. “I promised Cory I’d ask you. He’s interested in everything that goes on in town. He noticed that Toby’s father, Zeke, has been following your lawyer-friend Mr. Barnes around a lot lately.”

“Very observant, that boy,” Chad put in with a scowl.
“Yes,” Justin agreed. He turned back to Andi. “What else?”
“Oh, nothing much. A bunch of us watched  Zeke get knocked through the doors of the saloon across from Goodwins, and then we heard Mr. Barnes and him exchanging words.”
“I believe it,” Chad said. “Zeke Blazer is a—”
“Never mind, Chad,” Justin cautioned.
“So, what’s the big secret?” Andi wanted to know.
“There’s no secret, Andrea,” Mother spoke up. A brief look of sadness passed over her face. explained. “Ezekiel Blazer hasn’t always been a drunk and a drifter. Twenty years ago, in fact, he was a neighbor. But when the fire destroyed his place and claimed the life of his wife and two of his sons, he changed. He wouldn’t accept help from anyone. Bitterness took hold. Then when the bank took his ranch, well . . .”
Mother sighed. “It’s not a pretty story, and one that certainly is no concern to you or your friends.”

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Slice of Life-1


It’s funny how time works. When I was younger, it seemed the days took forever to go by. Though I’m still convinced that spending a good part of the  day in the stuffy schoolhouse has something to do with that.
But now . . . now it’s as if one day slides directly into the next, hardly giving me any chance to catch my breath. Living with Riley here on the ranch has been a bit of a change, though I’m thankful every day that we didn't have to move far when we married. This land has a hold on me, and I know I could never leave it!
I had an interesting run-in today, with Chad of all people. Sometimes I really don’t think he’ll see me as grown up! Brothers.
It was just after breakfast had finished, and Riley had headed outside. I wanted nothing more than to follow him, however I pushed the feelings aside, determined to do the work I despised the most first. Housework. It’s not that I particularly mind the work. I know it takes a capable woman to keep the household running (a fact Aunt Rebecca was always sure to let me know), but all the little details put me in a tizzy.
Anyway, Riley had mentioned soon after we moved in here that he loved the way the sunlight filtered through the windows in the front room and brightened up the area. Just yesterday, I noticed that some of the glass panes had fingerprints smudged from when Lucy brought the children to visit.
I quickly finished clearing the table and wiping it, and then finished the dishes. I’m forever grateful that with only the two of us there aren’t that many to do.
Just as soon as they were put away, I grabbed a bucket that stood next to the back door, and filled it with hot water and soap. The water was almost too hot for me to stick my hand in, but I decided I could manage it.  Just as soon as the windows were done, I could head out of doors. I could almost feel the sun on my face, and just the thought helped me to move faster.
I took the bucket though the kitchen and dining room, and then into the sitting room. At first, I had just planned to clean the lower panes, but looking up, I decided that while I was at it, I had better clean the higher ones as well. If I could do it all now, it would mean I wouldn’t have to do them again for another week or so.
Unfortunately. I’m not tall enough to reach the top panes on my own. After a quick look around the room, I could tell that I wasn’t strong enough to move any of the furniture in here either. But the dining room chairs. They were light enough for me to carry.
I set one of them near the window and stepped up on it, grateful that once again that I didn’t wear the ankle-length skirts most ladies wore. With the bucket in one hand and the cloth in the other, I was just able to reach the top pane if I stretched high enough.
Two of the panes were cleaned, and just as I moved on to the third one, the front door banged open. The sudden noise caught me off balance. I desperately tried to regain my footing. I stepped to the side . . . and right off the edge of the chair.
The floor met my face with astonishing speed, and I yelped as the hot water soaked through the fabric of my shirt.
“Andrea Carter!”
I groaned as I felt arms go around my waist and pull me  into a sitting position.
“It’s Andrea Prescott,” I muttered, not letting myself look up and meet Chad’s gaze. What in the blazes he was doing here at the house I didn’t know, and at the moment, I was not too happy to see him.
Before he could ask me anything, I pushed away and stepped back. My knees felt a bit wobbly from their run-in with the floor, and I could feel a headache coming on, but that was all.
Looking up, I stared at the mess. The chair had stayed standing, but every single window pane was wet and would need to be redone. My bucket lay on the floor, though there wasn’t as much water around it as I had expected. Apparently, I had managed to soak up most of it.
I heard Chad chuckle, and looked up in time to meet his gaze.
He shook his head. “Not even Riley can change you too much, can he, little sis?”
My only reply was a glare.
I guess, writing it out now, the whole incident seems rather humorous. But oh, was I mad at Chad! I had everything perfectly under control, and he just had to come and barge through that door.
And to think, all that he had come over to do was extend Mother’s invitation to come to lunch. I guess with so many of us being gone now, it can sometimes get lonely for her, even with Ellie there.
Well, seeing as how Riley has agreed to let me ride the range with him tomorrow, I should head to bed.
After all, who knows just what tomorrow will hold?