The Gardens of Emily Dickinson

Posted Mar 21 2017, 7:34 pm


SPRING has surely sprung…and since we’re on that wonderment of nature, I’d love to chat about Emily Dickinson! Yes, THAT renowned poet with a unique expression that still seems fresh even today.

However, during her lifetime (December 10, 1830 to May 15, 1886), she was known more for her beautiful spring gardens than her remarkable talent with the written word. Indeed, as other Victorians at the time, Emily was fascinated with the language of flowers as well as their symbolic meanings — and she liberally used them as metaphors throughout her poetry. 


Her private gardens were breathtaking, and her knowledge of each bloom within quite intimate. Granddaughter of the cofounder of Amherst College and daughter of a respected lawyer and one-term congressman, Emily was educated at Amherst (Mass.) Academy and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. She spent virtually all her life, the later years growing increasingly reclusive, in her family home & gardens in Amherst, or at The Evergreens, the poet’s brother, Austin’s, home — which today still preserves an integral part of Emily Dickinson’s private world. Both locations are an impressive “time capsule” of this remarkable woman and her impact in the 19th-century . By 1870, though, Emily was dressing only in white and declining to see most visitors.


Regardless her reclusiveness, she loved the gardens of her world and treasured every bloom. Of her nearly 1,800 poems, only 10 are known to have been published during her lifetime. Her complete works were published in 1955, and she has since become universally regarded as one of the greatest American poets.




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The History of the Candy Cane

Posted Dec 1 2016, 11:51 pm



Ahh, yes…the CANDY CANE. Those oh-so-delectable hard sugar sticks practically scream ‘the holidays’, don’t they? historical-candy-cane-shepherdsThe legend goes that these sweet treats appeared nearly 350 years ago when a choirmaster in Germany bent white sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff — although there’s no documentation from the 17th-century to validate such a fact, the story has transcended time. historical-candy-cane-roses-1And then a few years after that, in the mid 1600s, sugar roses were added to the treats. Eventually the roses fell out of favor for the plain white canes until the red ‘n white stripes we love today were added around 1890, and no one really knows WHO introduced the colorful swirls to the white. historical-candy-cane-sugar

But, the FIRST candy canes in America appeared in 1847 when a German immigrant living in Wooster, Ohio looped the tasty candy canes he brought with him from Europe over the boughs of his Christmas tree. historical-candy-canehistorical-candy-cane-treeAfter that, the sale of the treats boomed, and eventually, in 1919, the ‘Famous Candy Company’ [later, Bob’s Candies] in Albany, Georgia took the honor of being the world’s largest candy cane maker. But, way back then, each flavor-filled stick was formed by hand & was quite a timely process.

historical-candy-cane-the-keller-candy-cane-automated-machinehistorical-candy-cane-machineIn 1957 all was about to change when a Catholic priest named Gregory Keller [brother-in-law of the candy company’s owner, Bob McCormick] finally invented a simple devise which was dubbed ‘The Keller’ machine. This implement automated the making of the popular sugar sticks and forevermore streamlined the candy cane process.

Ahistorical-candy-cane-crochetccording to Encyclopedia Britannica, “The legends of the candy cane are many, including that the cane was shaped like a “J” for Jesus, the three red stripes symbolized the Holy Trinity, the hardness of the candy represented the Church’s foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor reflects the use of hyssop [an herb referred to in the Old Testament].” historical-candy-cane-vintageOf course, none of these are proven historical facts, but they do make up a wonderful tale. So, come THIS holiday season, when you’re ‘decking the halls’, don’t forget to include a couple o’ Candy Canes…they’ve been welcoming in Christmas for hundreds ‘n hundreds of years.  Oh, and btw, the curved part of the cane is called the “warble,” and the straight part is called the strabe…so there you have it, the history o’ the beloved candy cane. Happy holidays, y’all. ☺ 



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We all scream for ICE CREAM!

Posted Jul 20 2016, 9:12 pm

ice creamIt seems that summertime was made for Ice Cream! Yep, ’tis my favorite treat of all!

ice cream TangBut, did y’all know the “origin” of this sweet treat dates all the way back to China, circa AD618 when King T’ang of Shang had slaves haul ice to his palace to make a ‘slushy dish’ called koumiss ice cream koummis[heated, fermented milk, flour & camphor]? In 1744, a Scottish colonist described in his journal, & I quote, “…a Dessert treat…Among the Rarities of which is compos’d some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most deliciously.”


ice cream Mt. Vernon

And in 1782, even George Washington mentioned in HIS journal, the delights of owning “a cream machine for ice” at Mount Vernon. 



ice cream Nancy M. Johnson

BUT, it wasn’t until September 9, 1843, when Nancy M. Johnson [of Philadelphia] got her tub, cylinder, lid, dasher, & crank she called her “artificial freezer” patented. ice-cream -freezer-patent






ice cream jacob_fussellEven Baltimore dairyman Jacob Fussell [who spearheaded the very first commercial ice cream factory in 1851], didn’t make any changes to the process. ice cream fusselAnd by the 1930s, grocery stores and vendors all across America began selling the creamy treat. ice cream vendor

ice cream 1862






But, in all this time, Klatchers, NOBODY has changed Mrs. Johnson’s design. Nope, guess she knew a good thing when she ‘patented’ her cylinder/dasher method which is still crankin’ out tubful’s o’ the good stuff today. So, who wants ice cream? Yummmmm!!…Oh, & cheers to summer! I’ll have a scoop o’ vanilla, please.  ☺





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Portières a plenty!

Posted Jul 12 2016, 9:07 pm

Portieres green dress

Who doesn’t remember the movie ‘Gone With the Wind’ & Scarlet O’Hara’s emerald green dress made from her mother’s portières?!!  I doubt there’s a garment more immortalized on earth! Portieres greenBut, let’s chat a bit about that word, shall we? PORTIERESA portière is technically a hanging curtain placed over a door OR an opening into a room. Derived from the French word porte [door], portières were extremely popular during the Victorian era & yards of draping material were used to stop drafts & dampen sounds between adjoining rooms—besides their utilitarian use, portieres also brought ‘eye-candy’ & more status, if you will, to the wealthier Victorian homes. portieres 9

The rich enjoyed the inviting, softening statements as their guests sashayed from room to room. Most portières were made from velvets and brocades to polished silks and satins. And the more expensive, the better!! And added embellishments of bullion fringe, or gold cording proclaimed great prestige to the home owner. portieres 4

Some even used decorations of strung wooden, ivory, or jet beading. Even seashells!!

Portieres - Tearing-down-the-curtains-2Portieres scarlettSo, back to that famous emerald green dress worn by Scarlett…in the book version of GWTW, Margaret Mitchell correctly used the word CURTAIN, however…in the movie version, the term portière was used INcorrectly by both Scarlett & Mammy: ’cause they were talking about green velvet WINDOW curtains — not portières, which, as we now know was the Victorian word used to describe draperies IN DOORWAYS.

So, Klatchers, the next time y’all see the movie…now you’ll know the truth.



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The Typewriter!

Posted Feb 17 2016, 5:47 pm

Typewriter - Tower


Yep, the lowly lil’ typewriter! My first, a Tower typewriter, created by Sears & Roebuck. ‘Twas a marvelous creation, indeed.  But, let’s imagine creating novels on one today? LOL….I shutter at all the ‘white-out’ I’d need.

typewriter - ball


BUT, I digress. Instead, let’s take a trip all the way back to 1870 & see the “writing ball” created by a Danish pastor named Rasmus Malling-Hansen. ‘Twas a remarkable ‘first’ of its kind machine…’though it fell out-of-favor when, in 1874, a Milwaukee newspaperman & part-time tinkerer named Christopher Sholes approached the Remington Arms Company with a better idea. typewriter - first

The novel ‘creation’ clicked w/Remington executives & soon they rolled out the first mass-produced typewriter called the ‘Sholes & Glidden’…BUT, this looked too-decidedly ‘feminine’ since they manufactured the ‘type-writer’ in their ‘sewing machine department’ & adorned the piece with painted ‘flowers’ – no lowly clerk in his right mind wanted THAT in the office! Typewriter - Remington

typewriter - advertismentSo, the executives put their minds together & came up with ‘The Remington’ & this model was gladly embraced. Of course, other manufacturers soon jumped on the ‘typewriter’ bandwagon, until…


typewriter - underwood…1895, when a German-American inventor named Franz Wagner created ‘The Underwood #5’. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the name “Underwood” comes from John T. Underwood, a successful entrepreneur of ribbons & carbon paper who bought the company early in its history.” This model was produced by the millions for both personal use & office work & became the most popular typewriter ever…UNTIL…

typewriter - selectric


1965…when IBM (International Business Machines) breathed to life a model called ‘The Selectric’ with the lil’ ball-of-keys tucked inside. Yep, typewriters had come ‘full circle’…& the rest, as they say, is history. So, think of this evolution the next time we open up our WordPerfect program to write…☺



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PBS came calling! ☺

Posted Feb 10 2016, 5:00 pm

PBS 1‘PROJECT REVEAL’…”Write Your Story” — As promised, here’s the half-hour PBS/WNIN television show which includes my interview woven around a festival where others share their hopes & dreams. PBS 2Hey, we’re all ‘authors’ of our own ‘life story’ & I’m so blessed by y’all’s presence in my journey. ENJOY the ride.   PBS





As I always like to say: “Since we’re going to dream anyway, by golly…DREAM BIG!”

~ Cindy  


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Colonial Williamsburg pics! ☺

Posted Dec 7 2015, 9:44 pm



Williamsburg BooksigningI had a blast at my book signing in December at historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.  So honored by the invitation.

Colonial Williamsburg 1 Colonial Williamsburg







 Long. Live. Historical. Romance. 

Colonial Williamsburg 2







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Historical Romance Retreat – September 22-25, 2016

Posted Nov 12 2015, 1:48 am


I’m book signing in Spokane, Washington — COME SEE ME and rediscover why Historical Romance was your First Love…

In a magical historical hotel setting, this weekend retreat is a book lover’s dream come true.  Join some of the world’s most celebrated authors of historical romance coming together for an intimate gathering that gives every guest a chance to mingle and play. Dress in your favorite era, enjoy historical foods, games and music while surrounded by the glamour of a hotel that was once only enjoyed by the elite.

Click here to find all the details for this glorious upcoming conference.


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COFFEE – The Favored Drink of the World!

Posted Aug 21 2015, 8:39 pm in ,

Coffee - Whieldon coffee pot 1745


Ahh yes…COFFEE. The world’s finest drink! The history of this marvelous ‘pick-me-up’ reaches as far back as the 10th-century arab-coffee-traderswhen coffee beans were carried in sacks upon the backs of camels by traders traveling from Ethiopia to Yemen.








By the 15th-century, however, the drinking of this fine brew was restricted to purely religious events, with coffee trees growing only inside selected monasteries. But the people demanded the monks share their ‘special’ beverage & soon coffee swept across Europe with a vengeance.




In 1475, the world’s first coffee shop, Kiva Han, opened in Constantinople.  And according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “…coffee became available in England in the early 16th century as the race among Europeans to obtain live coffee trees [& beans] was won by the Dutch in 1616.”


Coffee house in 1674


But England was not far behind & the first English coffeehouse opened in St. Michael’s Alley in Cornhill [this hill is one of the three ancient hills of London; the other two are Tower Hill, site of the Tower of London, & Ludgate Hill, crowned by St Paul’s Cathedral].  A constant rendezvous for men of business.  coffee house1And as the years unrolled more & more establishments opened their doors to coffee-consuming customers & by 1675 there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses spread throughout England. 


 Coffee house locations prior to fire of 1748There was even a map created showing the locations of many of the London Coffee Houses [prior to the great fire of 1748]. In fact one popular shoppe, ‘The Queen’s Lane Coffee House’ [in Oxford], which opened their doors in 1654, is STILL pouring up the ‘go-juice’.


Coffee virtues of drinkBut, as ‘necessary’ as coffee had become to men, women were not allowed inside any coffee shoppe doors [with the exclusion of Germany] anywhere across Europe. According to the Britannica, “…the anonymous 1674 “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” declared ‘the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE …has…Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our kind Gallants, so much so that they are become as Impotent, as Age.” 

Coffee 5 women 2


Of course, that petition soon changed things for womankind as the brew soon flowed past their lips, too. LOL. As all important as this ‘vitality’ drink was to Europeans…coffee did not arrive to North America ’til late in the 16th-century when the Dutch East India Company stepped ashore at New Amsterdam [now known as New York] by the British. Coffee 7 - 1752 Pewter Coffee Pot




Coffee houses soon began to crop up all along the eastern coastline, though tea remained the favorite drink in the ‘New World’ until 1773 when a little ‘revolt’ known as the Boston Tea Party forevermore changed the American drinking preference to COFFEE. The rest, as they say, is history.


Coffee image


Okay…I’m off to pour me up another glorious cupful.  Have a great day! ☺





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A glove is just a glove…or is it? ♥

Posted Jul 29 2015, 6:19 pm


gloves open


Ah yes…let’s chat a bit about GLOVES, the hand-covering that has been worn by humans for thousands of years.  


manoinFrom the earliest documented use by the Minoan warriors back in 2600 BC gloves - gauntlet 1590, leather with silk and gold threadsto those gauntlets worn by the knights in the Middle Ages…






to Michael Jackson’s single bejeweled gant-de-la-main…






to OJ Simpson’s ‘doesn’t-quite-fit spectacle, gloves have played a major fashion role throughout history.






But we can thank Queen Elizabeth I for setting the stage and wearing her richly-embroidered and perfumed leather coverings to draw attention to her comely hands.

gloves - 1890s opera glove


The incredibly popular “opera glove” [worn above the elbow] entered into the historical annals of in the late 18th century & even some swimming outfits of the turn of the 19th-century were accessorized with these mode essentials. gloves 1850 picture

And yet, no time in history is the female hand’s simple fashion adornment more important than when a Victorian-era lady donned her final accessory pièce de résistance before sashaying out the door – be it day or evening wear, a lady’s glove truly DID make the lady.

gloves 3 - 1880s Honiton lace

Before Elias Howe invented the first sewing machine in 1846, ladies gloves were actually made by hand & the material of choice ranged from simple linen & wool & fur to the finest crocheted Honiton lace [a type of bobbin lace made in Honiton, Devon], to the strength & durability of leather. And yet, only the wealthiest of debutantes could slide their hands into kidskin or Peccary, the most-expensive of all hand-covering materials. gloves - french lavendar leather 1867And with these fine ladies, no skin was to ever show, so hand gloves came in many lengths to allow one to adept easily to the occasion. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “The length of ladies’ evening gloves are referred to in terms of “buttons”, whether they in fact have buttons or not. The word is derived from French, and the exact measure is actually a bit longer than one inch. Wrist length gloves are usually eight-button, those at the elbow are 16, mid-biceps are 22 and full shoulder length are 30. Opera gloves are between 16 and 22 inches long, though some gloves can be as long as 29 or 30 inches.” And one would never wear rings over their gloves, but a bracelet? Oh yes, now those they would adorn with glee.

gloves fingerless 1869When ladies teas evolved in the Victorian era, so did the fingerless glove, allowing the socialite to sip her tea in style withOUT removing her covering. And these adornments also played into a Victorian lady’s love life & was known as a “language of gloves”, whereby a female could communicate with her intended lover without actually speaking a word. But gloves were also one of the few gifts a lady could receive from a man other than her husband.

gloves 1906The Edwardian years kept the trend of gloves forefront in the fashion world, but during World War II most raw materials [particularly the leathers & fine silks] were dedicated to the war effort, so women had to carefully maintain their pre-war 1940leather gloves or resort to ones of ‘practical cotton’. 1940 1





1950The arrival of the 1950s found a resurgence of gloves, so much so in fact, that ladies & their little girl offsprings would never dream of attending church or a dance without their pristine, just-to-the-wrist white gloves, pearl button on the backside notwithstanding. From the ruling monarchs of Europe to The Pope inside Vatican’s hallowed halls, indeed, GLOVES have played an important role throughout much of history…

gloves warmth

Ahhh, if only we wore them today as the finishing touch to a fashion ensemble rather than the sensible, sturdy winter hand-warmers they’ve evolved into now…





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