Monday, November 29, 2021

Decorating the Christmas Tree through History ~ Ruthie Manier

Welcome to my blog on Cowboy Kisses!

 I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter, and a delicious dinner. Mine, like most people I think was fast paced. So many family members to gather with through out the day.

First, in the morning we carried on the tradition we started last year with a pie baking contest. Holly and Nick won again! The kids love the tradition of eating pie with ice cream or whipped cream for breakfast. No surprise there.

After My daughter Holly’s family went to her in-laws and the dishes were done with the food put away, my son and his family drove me to see my mother. We surprised her.

 My mom had ten children so is used to cooking enough food for an army. It was around eleven thirty and Thanksgiving dinner was on the table. I knew it would be. We didn’t come to eat after just eating pie a couple of hours before, however when mom says “Fix yourself a plate,” that’s what you do! So, we ate. 

After visiting an hour or so we drove home and five hours later I served Thanksgiving dinner for my family that lives with me.

Here’s a few pictures from my day. 

On to Christmas

The other day I was shopping and everywhere I went had lit Christmas trees up. It started me thinking about the history of Christmas trees of the past. My grandma Ruby Moore who was born in the early nineteen twenties told me about some things like stringing popcorn and berries. She taught me how to string them and I taught my children and we strung them for years while they were growing up. 

She also told me that the ornaments were mostly homemade. Crocheted, knitted, cross stitched. They made little red stockings, bells, angels, wreaths and rocking horses, and stars, basically anything they wanted. 

Sweet cookies were made and hung.

Berries, nuts and fruits.

Ribbons and bows.

Hand carvings out of wood and sometimes painted. 

Many used winter foliage that they would stuff in the trees to make them look fuller.

Homemade candles held on by wax or pins were used to light the tree up. As you can imagine this practice caused lots of fires. 

Candleholders became the next  popular way to illuminate the tree. 

Around nineteen fifteen beautiful glass balls and lanterns were invented replacing the candles. 

The first actual tree lights were invented by Thomas Jefferson yet it was his friend and co-worker Edward Johnson who was the first to show the walnut sized lights off on a tree. The first colors were red, white, and blue. 

New York was where the first tree was lit up by the electric lights. 

President Cleveland was the first president to light up the Christmas tree in the White House. 

String lights became available around 1890. They were not affordable for the general public until 1930. At first because the string of lights were expensive at twelve dollars a string which would average today at around three hundred and fourth many people rented them.

Do you know what the reasoning behind the lighting of the Christmas tree was for?  I didn’t until I googled it. From what I read it was to remind us that ‘Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.’ Another thought was that the tree was lit to remind us to be the light in someone else’s life. 

Have a joyous holiday season!


Friday, November 26, 2021

A Hint of Wyoming Territorial Prison by Zina Abbott

 When I say this blog post will be a hint, I mean exactly that. It is the day after Thanksgiving. Although I don’t shop Black Friday sales, I know there are plenty of people who do. Either way, today is not the day for a long post. Instead, I will share a few pictures about a place I enjoyed visiting several years ago.


The Wyoming Territorial Prison was a U.S. Penitentiary in 1872 and later Wyoming’s first state penitentiary.  For thirty years it held violent and desperate outlaws.  


Federal prisoners from all over the territories were transported there in style.

Perhaps one of its most famous prisoners was Butch Cassidy. The museum has a large display about the incident that resulted in him being one of the prison’s “guests.”


Then there was that other infamous visitor that showed up a few years ago. It was not long before she took upon herself a pen name and started writing North American historical romance with several of her stories set in Wyoming Territory.

The Prison Industries Building (broom factory) was used to raise revenue, manage the prison population, and used as a rehabilitative strategy.

Now the prison is a museum where visitors learn about punishment and rehabilitation practices in the last part of the nineteenth century. I have some nice photos I took while touring the prison several years ago. I plan to share a blog post or two with more details highlighting some of the details about this prison. Along with a few of its famous (and infamous) prisoners, there were some staff members you might enjoy learning more about.


Although my next book to be published is not about this prison, it does partially take place in Laramie, Wyoming Territory, the same city in which this prison is located. I give the prison an “honorable” mention in the story. Unfortunately, my month was turned up on end which resulted in me rescheduling this book to be the last in the series and not released until December 14, 2021. 

To find the book description and preorder purchase link for Mail Order Letitia, part of the An Impostor for Christmas series, please CLICK HERE.





Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site


Friday, November 19, 2021

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting from Lianna Hawkins


    This time of year, my family looks forward to not only time together but the extra special dinners coming their way. I'm a baker, so pies are one of my favorite desserts to make. I especially love decorating them with cute cookie cutter shapes like stars, fall leaves, and hearts. Last year, I changed things up by making a different dessert. Since we can only eat so much food, I chose to make cookies instead. Try these Pumpkin Cookies for something different this holiday season.  

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, plus extra for sprinkling
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces (1 brick) low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Add in the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat on medium speed until just combined. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Drop on cookie sheet by heaping tablespoonfuls (I usually use a cookie scoop), then use a spoon to flatten them a little. (These cookies will puff up a little rather than flatten out during baking, so they won’t rise much)
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are cooked through and bounce back slightly if you touch them. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool until they reach room temperature. Then frost or drizzle with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with an extra pinch of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon if you’d like. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
  1. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla together on medium-high speed until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar until it is all combined and the frosting is smooth. If it is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk or water until it reaches your desired consistency. If it is too thin, add in more powdered sugar until it reaches the consistency you want.
Enjoy this tasty treat!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

ICE CREAM COMES TO THE OLD WEST By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

Many different eras and cultures claim credit for the earliest form of ice cream, which appears to date back to China’s T’ang period, or ancient Persia. Creating this frozen treat must certainly have been a labor of love before the invention of ice houses, ice boxes, and finally, modern-day refrigeration. Eventually the recipe for this frozen confection made its way to the New World by way of the Quaker Colonists where, before long, it was sold in shops in New York and other large cities. Small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezers were invented in the 1840’s although it was still an expensive, labor intensive treat before commercial manufacturing got underway in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In my Western series, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Georgina, a spinster who owns the town’s café, is introduced to this yummy treat in a different town. It was important Georgina do something to ensure the café’s popularity and planned expansion, so I had her start making her own ice cream to sell in her café. Thank goodness, the time period made this a credible undertaking for this heroine, who eventually becomes one of the brides for the seven Mason brothers.
If you’ve not yet read this series, Book 1, Brody’s Bride, is on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday for only 99 cents, starting November 25th.

I’m not sure who first had the genius idea to dip a homemade cookie in ice cream, but if cookies and ice cream are your go-to dessert pairing, here’s a free cookie recipe book to download at your favorite online book store. target="_blank">

USA Today Bestselling author, Kathleen Lawless, blames a misspent youth watching Rawhide, Maverick and Bonanza for her fascination with cowboys, which doesn’t stop her from creating a wide variety of interests and occupations for her many alpha male heroes. Her hero, Steele, in HER UNDERCOVER COWBOY, is a modern-day cowboy, so when she was wooed by a man called Steel— while he’s not a cowboy, he is an alpha male and her forever hero. Which is why all of her stories end Happily Ever After. Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Newsletter to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers. AMAZON | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BOOKBUB

Friday, November 12, 2021

My Story Inspiration for The Calling Birds

  My Story Inspiration
By Jacqui Nelson

What inspires a story? 

Christmas! And since Christmas is next month, it feels like it's the perfect time to share the Story Inspiration page (a page I included in the back of the book) for the first Christmas story that I wrote...

The Calling Birds book cover


Story Inspiration page ~ from the back of the book

When asked, which day of Christmas would you like to write? I immediately chose The Fourth Day because with the title The Calling Birds, I could use the name Jack Peregrine. His name was inspired by Inspector Jack Robinson from the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries novels & TV series and the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children novel & movie. Jack and then Birdie’s names came to me lightning quick, and might not have worked as well in more specifically titled 12 days stories such as the Hens, Doves, Geese, or Swans. 

So, I chose the more generic title and then, as seems to be my nature, I became really specific. Peregrines’ Post and Freight had to be the plural because it’s a family-run business. The word “post” had to come before “freight” because when shortened to Peregrines’ Post, it stood for not only a postal office but a post on which a bird might rest AND a place to make a final stand - while trying to keep a business alive and a family together. 

Next, I decided I needed four birds to form my family because it’s The Fourth Day, after all. Jack’s brother, Max, and Grandpa Gus came to life. Now I cannot imagine The Calling Birds without Gus. 

Jack and Gus’ banter was inspired by my relationship with my mom. She was great fun but also incredibly stubborn (to the point where I’d worry for her safety). It became our running joke where I’d call her determined, but I meant stubborn - and she knew it. She was never absentminded, though. That feature is mine but, like Gus, I’d rather find ways to get around my shortcomings instead of dwelling on them.

A wanted woman’s flight, a man in pursuit of honesty, not stolen gold.


Noelle, Colorado –  Christmas 1876

Many years have passed since Bernadette Bellamy fled the Cariboo Gold Rush and her reputation as the sister of a French-Canadian gang of thieves. Armed with only an honest talent for sewing and a willingness to lead a solitary life on the run, she stays one step ahead of everyone seeking her brothers’ last—and now lost—heist. Until a craving to settle down makes her reinvent herself as Birdie Bell, a dress shop owner. The arrival of an old foe combined with her desire to hold onto her treasure trove of fabrics has Birdie joining a wagonload of brides bound for a remote town.

After losing his leg and his wife, Jack Peregrine buries his pain under a mountain-high pile of work. He only agrees to sign up for a mail-order bride to save the town of Noelle, keep his freighting business, and care for his absentminded grandfather. But Jack’s request for a sturdy bride who won’t crumble under his burdens brings him a woman as tiny as she is troubled. Can two mismatched people band together to become the perfect match?

Book Review "captures your heart from the start."



The Calling Birds - Christmas 1876
Robyn: A Christmas Bride - Christmas 1877

*  Next month I'll share my inspiration for Robyn *

Spend Christmas in Noelle, Colorado. Join the Peregrine brothers and their brides.

Hope you enjoyed my writing inspiration and that your Friday and your November are...beginning to look a bit like Christmas but only in the best ways. 🎄❤️ I'm hoping I won't see any snow until Christmas Eve ❄️⛄

~ * ~

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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Hunter ~ Julie lence

 It's release week for Hunter!  


For his last mission with the army, Hunter Barlow volunteers to go to Jackson Creek and round up supplies for the regimens camped outside of town. Not only does Jackson Creek put him that much closer to the California brothel that was his childhood home, but his brothers are there and settling a score with them is of the utmost importance. They deserted him, left him with a mother who despised him. But when the woman Jackson Creek’s mayor hires to cook and clean for the army’s headquarters off, Hunter hires Tawny Monroe to take her place. A working girl with bright blue eyes, something about Tawny suggests he’d rather keep time with her than seek vengeance on his brothers.     


   Tawny Monroe fled Baltimore and her aunt’s constant badgering for a chance at freedom, but penniless in Austin, she was forced to take a job as a working girl. Feeling the sharp sting of the saloon owner’s hand too many times, she stole away to Landries in Jackson Creek, only a working girl’s wages don’t readily provide an escape from the past, so when handsome army sergeant Hunter Barlow offers her honest work cooking and cleaning for him, she readily accepts, hoping he’ll find favor with her skills and take her with him back to his fort. But when something deep within lurches toward Hunter’s honesty and muscles, Tawny isn’t so sure freedom is what she wants most of all.    


The door to her room swung open. “You’re not going to Kansas, darlin’.” Hunter stood in the archway. “You’re coming to California with me.”

Her pulse racing, Tawny considered his silhouette filling the doorway. “That’s the second time you’ve referred to me by that term.”

“You don’t like it?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“What are you saying?”

“I…” She sank her teeth into her bottom lip. Without seeing his features close up, she couldn’t decipher his reason for wanting her to accompany him. He couldn’t have had a change of heart regarding relationships this quick. “I think the storm has disturbed more than your sleep.”

“You’d rather go with the captain?”

“You’re putting words in my mouth. But to answer your question, I don’t want to go to with the captain. I want to go with you.”

“Good. We have a few days. I’ll find a horse for you and—”

“I didn’t say I would go with you. I—”

“Why not?” He shoved away from the doorjamb, ambled toward her. “Don’t you like me?”

“My feelings have nothing to do with the issue.” She gulped as he lowered his weight to the mattress near her feet. “What would I do in California?”

“You’d help me. I plan to convert Ma’s brothel into a hotel.”

“But… I know nothing about hotels.”

“Neither do I. We’ll learn.”

“I don’t know, Hunter.” She fidgeted with the edge of the blanket. Part of her was tempted. Riding with him and then working alongside him afforded her opportunity to earn his trust, to prove to him all relationships weren’t meant to hurt him.

I can convince him to hold me against him, to kiss me and to—

“Don’t say no.” He slid his weight toward her. “You’re the first person I’ve cared about in a long spell. Hell, you’re the first woman I’ve ever favored. I can’t explain it, seeing how we just met.” His large palm cupped her cheek. “Don’t make me ride home alone, Tawny. Please?”

My stars! He did have a sudden change of heart. “I like you, too, but—”

“No buts. You want your freedom and you’ll have it. I ain’t gonna run roughshod over you.”

Lightning flashed outside the window, enabling her to detect a scowl on his lips. “You want to run roughshod over me?” She shook off his palm and eased back from him.

“Not you, Pearl.” His scowl deepened. “If she was a man, I’d shoot her. Landry left because Pearl lied to Ma that Landry stole from Ma. And when Ma died, Pearl stole the brothel from me. I wouldn’t have left California if I had a home.”

Mother of God, but he should hate all women. Most had been cruel to him. Then again, she didn’t hate all men. “I’ll go with you. But you must know, I haven’t ridden in two years, and even then I was nervous. But I wanted to get here, so I didn’t think about it.”

“No worries. Soon as I find a horse gentle enough for you, I’ll help you gain confidence in the saddle.”

“Your brothers have horses.”

“Yep.” He stood. “Best we sleep. Tomorrow promises to try my patience.” He went to the door and paused, came back to her. “Tawny, I ain’t much. Just an army man who steals supplies in back alleys and fleeces gamblers at the poker tables.” He cupped her cheek again. “Something upset you today. Whatever it is, you’ll tell me when you’re ready. Until then, stay close to me. Like having you near.”


 Hunter is devilishly handsome as his brothers, Slade and Landry, and just as headstrong. More importantly, he's looking to settle a score with them. To find out why, and to discover what Tawny really thinks about moving to California with Hunter, grab a copy today. Available exclusively at Amazon.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

My Fascination With ...

 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

November is National Native Heritage Month so this post will be about the indigenous people who inhabited and still inhabit Colorado.  My fascination with early people and civilizations began at a very early age. From the moment I heard the word Aztec, I was on the hunt for everything I could find on them. This led to finding other early civilizations. This love of and need to understand the history never left. 

After moving to Colorado, the desire to know has taken me down some interesting roads, both literally and figuratively. Diving up Boreas Pass one fall I looked out over the area and wondered what it was like for the early dwellers in the area. Did they stay in that valley? These questions are the meat of an author's life. 

The early indigenous people have left us some mysteries, and so much more. Here are some I find fascinating.

1. Mesa Verde

2. Dinosaur National Momument

3. Prayer Trees.

Most know that Mesa Verde is located in the southwest part of the state near the New Mexico, Arizona border. This cliff dwelling site was established by congress and Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. It is the largest archeological preserve in the United States. A visit there takes you back. The site was used as early as 7500BC to about 1250AC. 

The Dinosaur National Monument in the northwest part of the state is located on the border of Colorado and Utah. It was designated a National Monument in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson. The Fremont people inhabited the area from 200 to 1300. It is here you will find the Petroglyphs and Pictographs of the Fremonts.  

The Black Forest area northeast of Colorado Springs has what are called Ute Prayer Trees. These are modified trees whose use is still under investigation. 

For more information on the above places that fascinate me, check out the links below.

Dinosaur Monument Petroglyphs

Dinosaur National Monument

Ute Prayer Tree Video

If you are in Colorado Springs the weekend of November 19, 2021, come stop by the Colorado County Christmas Gift Show, Colorado Author League booth, and meet Colorado Authors, including myself. Colorado Country Christmas Information

For more on National Native Heritage Month here is a link to an earlier blog post: Initial Post on National Native Heritage Month


Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Out-of-this-world in Colorado


One of the things I enjoy most about being a writer is the things I learn along the way. I adore research and I especially love to learn the history and lore of new places where I set portions of my stories. Most of my books take place in my two ‘home’ states of Texas and Louisiana. Since I’ve lived in both, I knew a lot about the area – but nowhere near all there is to know. In the writing process, I’ve garnered so much information and knowledge than I would have otherwise. My life is richer for it. One friend told me that I ought to try and get a job promoting the area, but I figure that’s what I’m doing – in my own way. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few dozen readers (that I know of) who visited the places that I’ve written about – they called it going on the ‘Sable Hunter Tour’. I was flattered to say the least.

My most recent book, PREDESTINED – NATHAN MCCOY’S STORY is set in Texas and Colorado. I have visited the region in Colorado several times, but I’ve never lived there. However, in preparation for this book and a couple of others, I have delved deep into the interesting facts and folklore of the San Luis Valley. Needless to say, I fell in love. The beauty of the place is unparalleled.

Stretching from southern Colorado to northern New Mexico, this mythical desert is a large flat basin surrounded by two magnificent mountain ranges, the San Juan to the west and the Sangre de Cristo to the east. I do love the seashore, but if I had to choose – the mountains would win every time. There are several peaks in the Sangre de Cristo that rise over 14,000 feet. Most of the year, these high points are snow-capped. The sight of these giants towering like gods rising from the earth are such a mind-boggling contrast when viewed from the desert basin below – especially from the Great Sand Dunes. 


(courtesy Chris Light – Wiki Commons)

The first time I saw the sand dunes, I felt like I was standing on a distant planet. Stretching over 30 square miles, they look like a restless ocean. 

The otherworldly vista is not the only thing that gives you pause…there’s an uncanny spiritual energy in the air. I know I felt it and I’ve read many accounts of others who feel it as well. That was one of the reasons I wanted to set PREDESTINED there – both Nathan and Clare have a few ‘extra’ sensory perceptions and they needed a backdrop as magical as they are.

I think this special energy is what drew the Utes and the Navaho here thousands of years ago. The tribes used the area for vision quests and as a sacred hunting ground. They considered the San Luis Valley to be the ‘place of emergence’ or the sipapu where they would see star people coming from the sky in flying pods. They called the highest point, Blanca Peak, the Sacred Mountain of the East.


Also, they would gather for a ritual at the Great Sand Dunes where the ground would open up and they would be welcomed into caverns deep within the earth for protection and healing. I can’t help but think that maybe this is what happened to the Anasazi Tribe who vanished mysteriously in this region hundreds of years ago.

In modern times, the San Luis Valley is called the Bermuda Triangle of the West. Incredible high levels of magnetism are recorded in the region, the same as at Stonehenge, Enchanted Rock (near me) and Machu Picchu. All of these sacred sites, including the San Luis Valley, share a similar connection to astronomy and an affinity with the stars and the gods who allegedly came from those far distant worlds. There are also many who study the carvings and hieroglyphs found at all those mysterious places and conclude they are depictions of extraterrestrial visitors. In the past people would scoff at such a notion, but not so much anymore – not since the government has come out with their studies and findings. In fact, there are more recorded sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena in the San Luis Valley than anywhere else in North America.

In Predestined, Clare – the heroine – lives in a cottage in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains. I sent her and Nathan on a date to explore the region. They traveled up to Florence to see the arrowhead collection at the Pioneer Museum.    

Later, they traveled through the Sand Dunes National Park and on to the UFO Watchtower – where they later got married in a ceremony far more romantic than its odd location would have you to believe.


I’m drawn to places like this – Saratoga Lights in Texas, Marfa Lights in Texas, Brown Mountain Lights in North Carolina – I love to just sit a spell to see what I can see. When I visited here, I wasn’t disappointed. I saw a configuration of lights I couldn’t explain. The owner of this odd little spot is a former cattle rancher named Judy Messoline. She built this place over twenty years ago – first as a joke – until people started coming. Now, tens of thousands of visitors visit to camp out and share a common interest in things they don’t understand.


Judy, who started out as a skeptic, is now a true believer. She has witnessed 28 sightings herself. Her most exciting memory, that she observed along with a dozen or more other folk, was of a cigar shaped ship that tore across the valley sky at untold speed.

While I was in Colorado, I had one other mystical UFO sighting. It was from my hotel room in Telluride. From my window I could observe the beautiful peaks of the distant mountains. I’d studied them close enough to know that there were no buildings on the rocky ridges. However, late that night when I got up to go to the restroom, I happened to look out the window and see lights high up on one of the peaks. It looked like one of those revolving restaurants with the glass windows. I could see a rounded row of lights. I woke everyone up to make them watch with me. We stared at it for hours and some tried to convince me that it was someone’s house way up there – but I knew better. I stayed up as long as I could, but I finally gave out and went to sleep. When we woke up the next morning, the ridge was empty. Whatever was up there had flown off during the night. I loved it.

Anyway – I wanted to give you a glimpse of a very unique and mysterious place. And if you would like to read a love story using these gorgeous surroundings as a backdrop – I invite you to read the newest HELL YEAH! – PREDESTINED.

Have you ever seen something you couldn’t explain? I’d love to know. If you have email me at I hope you all have a wonderful and safe day.

Love, Sable