Some gifts are unforgettable. Like this antique pad of paper my sister-in-law gave me. Not only did she recognize my passion for all things vintage, she celebrated the writer I longed to be.

Today, that writer’s tablet stands on my bookshelf, peeking over my shoulder as I create my fictional worlds.

Writing is hard. It’s a drawn-out process, sometimes taking far longer to finish than we want. It’s full of rejection, discouragement, learning, diligence, discipline, passion, creativity, excitement, community, loneliness, letdown, and waiting. And waiting and waiting.

So why do it, if it’s so hard?

Remember the movie, Chariots of Fire? It’s based on a true story of the 1924 Olympics. Eric Liddell, one of the main characters, is quoted as saying, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

When I write, I feel God’s pleasure. Not because of what I’m about to do. I feel His pleasure because I’m doing what He wants me to do, now. I might never do amazing and glorious things in the publishing world, but for whatever reason, God wants me to write. So I’ll write.

God encourages me through friends and family, cool things that happen, and having fun creating a story. But God’s written words take encouragement to a new level. I love 2 Corinthians 4:16,18: “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day…So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen.” These and so many other verses help me to keep going, keep doing, keep moving past discouragement and experience the joy of doing things His way.

What about you? How does the Lord encourage you to keep going?

Eggs, Anyone?

Ah, Eggs a la Goldenrod. Mom served this to us every Sunday at lunch. Well, maybe not every Sunday. But it sure felt like it. I hated Eggs a la Goldenrod.

Then. Now, I crave it. Go figure.

Turns out, this dish has been around for a long, long time.

I knew it had been around since the early 1950’s. A while back, I discovered an old index file full of recipes my mom (or one of her sisters) had collected for a home economics class in high school.

But it’s even older than mid-century.

Fannie Farmer, famed cookbook writer and principal of the famed Boston Cooking School, included it in her first cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, published in 1896.

I bought the cookbook to help me understand what people fixed for dinner at the turn of the century. Specifically, what my characters might eat.

It’s super interesting and very humorous.

I was thrilled to find my old hated, newly loved Eggs a la Goldenrod recipe in this classic.

Try it and let me know if you hate it or love it!

Beware the Crazy Quilt

Ever heard of a crazy quilt?

A block from an antique crazy quilt

Crazy quilts were all the rage for young women in the late 1800’s. But they were quite controversial.

Because—gasp—they were not at all practical.

In fact, crazy quilts featured sumptuous materials like silk, satin and velvet. Not exactly affordable stuff, much less easy to care for.

That’s enough, right there, to send any practical farm woman scampering for the latest log cabin quilt pattern and some good, practical calico.

While I think crazy quilts are a thing of beauty and a showing of great skill, the people–especially men–of the early 1900’s abhorred them, and jokes abounded at the idiocy of such an undertaking.

Newspaper articles abound on the lunacy of the crazy quilt.

And that’s why I chose to feature this art form in my historical novel.

More to come!

Old Photos

I love looking at old photos. Behind the people, the expressions, and the setting, there’s always a story.

I wonder what their lives were like, way back then.

What were they thinking?

What were their dreams?

What were their hobbies, education, or routines?

Take a look at this photo of my relatives. Judging by the clothing (women in shirtwaists and dark skirts that fall to the ground), and putting that together with their birth dates, I’m figuring this photo was taken between 1895 and 1900.

When I look at this, I long to know more.

When that spunky gal on the right, Ola, was older, her family begged her to write down her memories. What a wealth of information that is! In her writing voice, she talks about how it was to live during a time before cars and planes made family and friends accessible.

Ola lived to be 93 years old. She experienced love and loss that is incomprehensible to me. But what got to me was the leaving. When she was a child, she and her family left the comfort of family in Georgia to make a better life in Texas. They traveled by train to get to Navarro County, where she eventually met and married her sweetheart, Clarence. Then, in the early 1900’s, she and Clarence loaded their young family into a covered wagon and made an arduous trip to northern Oklahoma.

 It’s that last bit, the travel by covered wagon, that made my imagination go wild with possibilities.

What would it be like to leave behind safety, security, and beloved family in order to make a better life in an untamed land?

That question led me to my current novel-in-progress.

I’d love to tell you all about it in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, if you have any old photos hanging around, take another look and ask yourself, What’s their story?

I’d love to hear it!