Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy Almost New Year

Hard to believe it's almost 2016.  Seem like just yesterday we were fearing YTK as we moved into the year 2000.  Just wanted to thank all my bloggers for hanging in for another year, and send lots of love to Julie Lence for managing our new FB page.  The last week of the month is traditionally quiet, and with this being a year-end holiday...we'll be gearing up for more interesting articles about the old west.  Stay tuned, and Happy New Year to you all from the gals at Cowboy Kisses.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone from Ginger

Today, I'm sharing a story I wrote a few years back.  I hope you enjoy it.  It's not western-themed, but it surely fits the reason for the season.

Santa and the Tooth Fairy – by Ginger Simpson

Little Kayla sat near the Christmas tree and wiggled her lose tooth.  She stopped and turned her attention from the crackling fire beyond the hearth.  “Mommy, if I pull my tooth, do you think Santa will leave me a dollar.”

Her mother laughed. “I think you have things mixed up, honey.  It’s the tooth fairy who leaves money.”

Kayla cocked her head and flashed that familiar look of independence.  “I know that, Mommy!  But if my tooth falls out at tonight, maybe Santa will reward me, too.  I’m not sure if the Tooth Fairy works on Christmas Eve.”

Although only four, the child had a penchant for being creative.  Margaret Tanner put her knitting aside and walked past her daughter to the fireplace.  She poked at the logs and sent flaming fingers stretching up the chimney.  “I don’t think Santa will have time to look under your pillow.  You know, he’s very busy this time of year.”  She walked back to her chair.

The front door opened, and a blast of cold air flickered the fire.  “Daddy, daddy,” Kayla called, rushing over and grabbing him around the knees.

He ruffled her hair with his gloved hand.  “Hi, Sweetheart.  Let me get out of my coat and I’ll give you a hug.  It’s cold outside.”  He shrugged off his outerwear, sending snow flaking to the marbled entry hall floor. After shedding his gloves and hanging his coat in a nearby closet, he scooped Kayla into his arms and nuzzled her neck until she giggled.  Stopping, he leaned his head back.  “Have you been a good girl today?”

“Oh yes, Daddy, and I’ve decided you can pull my loose tooth.”

He flashed a puzzled look at his wife.

She smiled.  “We’ve already discussed the tooth fairy, but Kayla seems to think Santa should play a part.”

Russell placed Kayla on the ground, took her hand, and walked to his plaid recliner.  Sitting, with her perched on his knee, he scratched his brow.  “Why don’t we just wait until that tooth falls out on its own?  There’s no rush.”

“But, I want you to pull it.”  Her eyes clouded with tears and her little bow lips pulled into a pout.

“Then, let me see.”  He took hold of the loose tooth and wiggled it.  “You’re right. I think it could come out.”  Russell Tanner ruffled her hair again.

“Then pull it, Daddy.”  She scrunched her eyes closed and hunched her shoulders. 

“I already did.”  He held up a tiny, white enamel pearl.

Her eyes widened. She smacked her lips then made a face.  A wee bit of blood dotted her bottom lip.

“Come on, Kayla,” her mother called.  “Let’s rinse out your mouth and get you ready for bed.  Santa comes tonight and if you aren’t asleep, he’ll just pass us by.”

Kayla slid off her father’s knee and flashed a smile.  She looked adorable with a space where her tooth was just minutes ago.  “Thank you, Daddy.  I wanted to see if Santa will leave me a dollar so I can put it in the offering plate at church tomorrow.  It’s Jesus’ birthday and I want to leave him a gift.” 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Renew Your Christmas Beliefs by Ginger Simpson

Laura Indalls Wilder has long been a favorite author, and it's always scenes from her books that I harken back to...scenes that swept me away to another time and place when I engrossed myself in her stories back in elementary school. I especially loved reading how much Christmas was matter how meager because coming from a family of four children with one working parent, I learned early-on that we couldn't be greedy.

Ms. Wilder wrote of her mother's preparation for the holiday on the prairie.  "Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas". While Christmas in the cities often included trees, decorations, Santa, gifts, and cards, pioneers often faced heavy snow storms and miles dividing them from civilization.  Most gifts were hand made, as were decorations and adornments when things could be found to serve that purpose. Food was usually the traditional way to celebrate when money and mercantiles were scarce.   Trail hands, often miles from home and loved ones, probably recognized the day, but did little to celebrate.  Such was the fate of those who braved the wilderness.

Today, we may wander to a tree farm and actually cut down a real tree, but most of us have turned to artificial for the convenience.  While Ma Ingalls may have cooked all day, many of us now purchase ready-made meals from the nearby market, and very little thought or appreciation go into gifts.  Commercialization has stolen the real meaning of our holiday. 

My siblings had the best idea of all when a few years back they pooled their money, visited the dollar store and prepared gift bags for the homeless.  I wasn't there, but I can only imagine that handing them out renewed faith in family,giving, receiving, and love.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all did that this Christmas?  Wishing you all a renewed knowledge of what Christmas is all about.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A History of Purses and Handbags

hand crocheted bag
Ever wonder about the origin of handbags and purses that have been essential to fashion history since people first sought something to carry around their possessions with them? The first written mention of such items comes from the 14th century, although we do know that Egyptian hieroglyphs show pouches carried around the waist. Bags were attached to what were called "girdles" worn around the waist. They were adorned with embroidery and jewels and used to show status—the richer the person, the more elaborate the bag.

In the 16th century, handbags became more practical with the use of everyday materials, such as leather and drawstrings. During this period, larger cloth bags were used by travelers and carried diagonally across the body. More variety appeared in the 17th century, when both fashionable men and women carried small purses with complex shapes. Young girls were taught embroidery as a very necessary skill to make them marriageable and resulted in beautiful and unique stitched artwork in handbags.

Neo-classical clothing became popular in the 18th century, with a reduction in the amount of underclothing worn by women. To avoid ruining the look of this clothing ladies carried bags called reticules. Women had a different bag for each occasion and every fashion magazine had arguments on the proper carrying of purses. In reticules one might find rouge, powder, a fan, a scent bottle, visiting cards, a card case, and smelling salts.

Leather & beads made by Indians for tourists
The term "handbag" first appeared in the early 1900's and generally referred to hand-held luggage bags usually carried by men. These were an inspiration for new bags that became popularized for women, including handbags with complicated fasteners, internal compartments, and locks. With this new fashion, jewelers got into the act with special compartments for opera glasses, cosmetics, and fans.

Due to the revolution in fashion—with varying hemlines and lighter clothing—in the 1920s, bags no longer needed to match the outfit perfectly. The rage was for the stylish lady to carry a doll wearing an identical costume to her own, complete with matching bag.
Beaded bag

The 1940s saw new austerity in clothing, including handbags because of the war effort. Metal frames, zips, leather, and mirrors were in short supply so manufacturers resorted to using plastic and wood. This continued into the 50s. I well remember the boxy little plastic purses I had when I was young. The 50s also saw the rise of important designer houses including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes, while the 60s saw old notions of the classical and the rise of youth culture broken down.
Metal bag

I wish I’d known all this years ago when I wrote my books. Now I must hope I used the correct terms for the time period in which my story took place. This is why an author cannot do too much research. Do any of you own any vintage or antique bags? Most would still be popular to carry today under the right circumstances. What sort of bag did you carry to your school prom?

Velvet bag closed
made of fine chain mail
Metal mesh
 All bags shown here belong to the author.


Monday, December 21, 2015

A Few Christmas Tidbits
Our tree has been up for weeks, (most of) the presents are wrapped, the cards have been mailed, cookies baked, and this week the parties begin. Our oldest granddaughter’s birthday is the 23rd, so we have three full days of gatherings with family and friends. 

It is a busy time of year, and I hope you are all ready for your festivities to begin. I thought I’d just share a few little facts about this time of the year….

Christmas trees have been sold in the U.S. since 1850.

Alabama was the first state to officially recognize Christmas in 1836, however, Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until 1870 and Oklahoma didn’t declare it as a state holiday until 1907.

Mistletoe is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.

The Aztecs called the poinsettia Cuetlaxochitl which means “flower which wilts”, and the poinsettia is not poisonous.

Some reports claim that President Franklin Pierce was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White house in 1856, and others claim it was President Benjamin Harrison in 1889, but there is no dispute that President Theodore Roosevelt banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1901. 

President Coolidge started the lighting ceremony in 1923, copying many small communities. As the grid had broadened and brought electricity to smaller towns, having tree lighting ceremonies was a popular community event.

During a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804, a member passed out wooden cutouts of jolly old St. Nick along with stockings filled with toys, and that image of St. Nick became the Santa Clause image we know today.  However, his clothes were blue, white, and green. His famous red suit came about in an ad by Coco Cola in 1930.

Washing Irving (the author who created the Headless Horseman) is who created Santa flying in a sleigh in 1819, and Montgomery Ward created Rudolph as a marketing gimmick for a children’s holiday coloring book.

Happy Holidays!