Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits: CRANBERRY DELIGHT

Each year I can’t wait for this time of year for many reasons. One of them is the stores have fresh cranberries to make one of my favorite treats. What are they, you ask?

Chocolate Covered Cranberries

Oh, my goodness! I can’t stop myself from shoving one after another into my mouth. I love the snap of the cranberry when I bite into it. Snap! Snap! Snap! The mix of the sweet with the tart is a wonderful combination.

As I was washing the cranberries this year, the image of the men standing in waist-high water with floating cranberries came to mind. Then I had to ask. “Why do they float cranberries?” Here is what I found.

Cranberries are ready to be harvested after the first frost, September through early November. The special beds they are grown in are flooded with water six to eight inches above the vines. A machine called a harvester is driven through the beds, careful not to damage the plants. It plucks the berries from the vines, which float to the top. Then they are corralled to a corner where they are pumped or conveyed from the beds. This is called wet-picking.

But these aren’t the fresh cranberries sold in stores this time of year. This process can bruise the fruit, so they are immediately processed or frozen.

The cranberries available in bags in stores are harvested by dry-picking, less bruising means they can be sold as fresh. This process is slower and more expensive. Only about five-to-ten percent of the US crop is dry-picked.

So the ones I use for my treat are dry-picked. They are super easy to make with only two ingredients. The hardest part is waiting for the cranberries to thoroughly dry after washing them.

Step 1: Wash cranberries

Step 2: Allow them to dry completely. If they aren’t completely dry, the chocolate turns weird and lumpy. Then it needs to be pitched and start with new chocolate. This year, I washed them and laid them out on a towel to dry completely. Then I put them in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight, because I didn’t have time to make them by then. The next morning, I laid them out on the towel again to reach room temperature and for any condensation to dry.

Step 3: Melt chocolate according to package directions. Pretty much any kind of candy coating chocolate will work.

Step 4: Coat a handful of cranberries at a time in the pot of melted chocolate and put them on wax paper to cool.

I usually use tongs to pick them out of the pot and put them on the wax paper. This year, my time was limited, so I scooped them out with a spoon and tried my best to separate them on the wax paper. Much faster. It worked well enough. They weren’t as pretty, but still oh so delicious.

Snap! Snap! Snap!

The cranberries can be coated with milk chocolate, white chocolate, or even dark chocolate. My favorite is white chocolate.

Mmm Mmm Snappy Good!


***COMING FEBRUARY 2022!***

MRS. WITHERSPOON GOES TO WAR (Heroines of WWII series)

A WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flies a secret mission to rescue three soldiers held captive in Cuba.

Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon is a thirty-four-year-old widow, mother of two daughters, an excellent pilot, and very patriotic. She joins the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). As she performs various tasks like ferry aircraft, transporting cargo, and being an airplane mechanic, she meets and develops feelings for her supervisor Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg. When Peggy learns of U.S. soldiers being held captive in Cuba, she, Major Berg, and two fellow WASPs devise an unsanctioned mission to rescue them. With Cuba being an ally in the war, they must be careful not to ignite an international incident.

  Pre-Order HERE!
MARY DAVIS, bestselling, award-winning novelist, has over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle Book 4) THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) is a Selah Award Winner. Some of her other recent titles include; The Widow’s Plight, The Daughter's Predicament,Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection , Prodigal Daughters Amish series, "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS: The Birth of the Dictionary

...and the Passion of Lexicographers.

In elementary school, when I couldn’t spell a word (which happened a lot having an undiagnosed learning disability) I would ask the teacher for help. The answer I would always get was, “Look it up in the dictionary.” This would frustrate me to no end. If I could spell it, then I could look it up. But since I couldn’t spell it, I couldn’t look it up to figure out how to spell it so I could look it up. I would return to my desk defeated.
 

Why am I telling you this? Because there was a time when teachers weren’t able to give you the impossible task of looking up something you didn’t know how to spell.


The earliest known dictionaries date back to 2300 BC. These were uniform tablets consisting of word lists from one language to another.


Through the centuries and across numerous countries, other dictionaries were created. Many not more than these word lists and glossaries, and all contained only a small portion of words from the culture.
 

One of the first to include definitions and etymologies came out of Ireland in the 9th century, consisting of 1,400 Irish words.
 

There had been "hard word" dictionaries for a few hundred years. A "hard word" dictionary was a compilation of words people might not know, leaving out all common words. But just who determined which words most people wouldn’t know?
 

Though various cultures have had their own version of dictionaries, I want to focus on English ones or we'll be here all day. The first English dictionaries were glossaries of French, Spanish, and Latin words with explanations of their meanings. In 1220, John of Garland, an Englishman, invented the word “dictionary.” Richard Mulcaster, in 1582, created the Elementarie, an early non-alphabetical list of 8,000 English words. (How would you ever find the word you want if it wasn’t alphabetical? Dictionaries are cumbersome enough without throwing the words in at random. In truth, they were mostly by topic.)
 

In 1604, Robert Cawdrey, an English schoolteacher, created A Table Alphabeticall, the first Alphabetical dictionary. (Thank you, Cawdrey.) Though considered the standard by which other dictionaries imitated, it was unreliable and not definitive.


Throughout the 1600s, various dictionaries were published by people who felt what their predecessors created wasn’t good enough. Everyone tried to improve on what was out there, but no one really did. Because there was no single, definitive source, sometimes in old documents and writings, words would be spelled different ways.
 

The first “modern” dictionary, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) by Samuel Johnson, was more reliable than earlier forerunners of dictionaries. For over 150 years, Johnson’s dictionary was the standard in England.
 


 

Meanwhile across the Atlantic Ocean, American Noah Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language.
 


 

But Webster didn’t stop there. He began compiling a new version, expanded and fully comprehensive, in 1807 called An American Dictionary of the English Language. This took him twenty-seven years to complete. In order to evaluate the etymology of words, he learned twenty-six languages, including French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, German, Italian, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic, and Old English (Anglo-Saxon). (That is dedication.)
 

Webster's dictionary contained 70,000 words, 12,000 of which had never appeared in any dictionary before. It was Webster who changed many words from the British spelling to something simpler. For instance, he removed the “u” from such words as colour and honour making them color and honor, changing the “re” and the end of some words like theatre and centre making them theater and center, and waggon to wagon. He also added American words like skunk and squash that weren’t in British dictionaries. In 1840, a two-volume second edition was published. In 1843, his dictionary was acquired by G & C Merriam Co and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary was born.
 


 

For some time, British academics wanted a definitive collection of ALL the words in use with spelling and definitions, but they didn’t have anyone willing to tackle the humongous task. A committee (formed in 1857) was seeking a person to undertake and oversee the endeavor of creating a comprehensive, single-source for words. Different people were in charge of the project, but none made significant progress until James Murray came along in the 1870s.
 


 

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) didn’t happen overnight. It took nearly fifty years to complete, and encompassed twelve large volumes, which were released as they were finished. The first volume of The Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1884. The OED was completed in 1928.

Today, most people consider the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and The Oxford English Dictionary to be the definitive sources on English words.
 

I can’t imagine the undertaking it was to create a credible dictionary. I’m glad I didn’t have to complete such a task.

 

THE QUILTING CIRCLE

Historical Romance Series

By Mary Davis

THE WIDOW’S PLIGHT (Book1) – Will a secret clouding a single mother’s past cost Lily the man she loves?

THE DAUGHTER’S PREDICAMENT (Book2) *2020 Selah Awards Finalist & WRMA Finalist* – As Isabelle’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams.

THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (Book3) *2021 Selah Awards Winner & WRMA Finalist*– Nicole heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband. Can she learn to be enough of a lady to snag the handsome rancher?

THE DÉBUTANTE’S SECRET (Book4) –Complications arise when a fancy French lady, Geneviève, steps off the train and into Deputy Montana’s arms.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q6L5QT1?searchxofy=true&binding=kindle_edition&qid=1634872128&sr=1-1


***COMING FEBRUARY 2022!***

MRS. WITHERSPOON GOES TO WAR (Heroines of WWII series)

A WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flies a secret mission to rescue three soldiers held captive in Cuba.

Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon is a thirty-four-year-old widow, mother of two daughters, an excellent pilot, and very patriotic. She joins the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). As she performs various tasks like ferry aircraft, transporting cargo, and being an airplane mechanic, she meets and develops feelings for her supervisor Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg. When Peggy learns of U.S. soldiers being held captive in Cuba, she, Major Berg, and two fellow WASPs devise an unsanctioned mission to rescue them. With Cuba being an ally in the war, they must be careful not to ignite an international incident.

  Pre-Order HERE!
MARY DAVIS, bestselling, award-winning novelist, has over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle Book 4) THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) is a Selah Award Winner. Some of her other recent titles include; The Widow’s Plight, The Daughter's Predicament,Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection , Prodigal Daughters Amish series, "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits: HERCULANEUM

Vesuvius’s Other Victim

I remember Sunday, May 18, 1980, the day Mount Saint Helens erupted. The winds were such that where I lived didn’t receive the downpour of ash like other areas immediately did. On the other side of the mountains, where my sister attended college, ash rained down. She called and asked how to get ash out of her church dress. So much collected in the college town that she could scoop it off her windowsill as a memory of this fateful day.

So why am I bringing up Mount Saint Helens?

Almost two thousand years ago, in 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted. When one hears the name Vesuvius, what pops into most people’s heads? Pompeii. But Pompeii wasn’t the only place destroyed. Pompeii lay south of the volcano while Herculaneum, west of the mountain, was given a far more lethal blast from Vesuvius.

Vesuvius first erupted at 4pm on August 24th, sending a cloud of ash, heat, and debris over Pompeii, burying it and its inhabitants. This is the popular story we hear so much about. But that is not where it ends. (Another source says the eruption had to have taken place on or after October 17th. Either date, the devastation was the same.)

Several miles to the west sat Herculaneum, a hamlet of some 4-5,000 residents. Herculaneum, though about an eighth of the size of Pompeii, boasted more lavish and larger houses. This seems to be where a wealthier class of people lived. When the first eruption happened, Herculaneum could see the several mile high cloud but it was traveling away from them, burying Pompeii.

Ruins of Herculaneum in the foreground,
Ercolano in the middle, and
Mount Vesuvius in the background.

Just after midnight, the volcano belched again out the west side of the mountain. It sent a wave of super heated gas, ash, and lava in Herculaneum’s direction at 160 kilometers an hour. This pyroclastic flow was far more deadly than the first eruption. Hot lava filled Herculaneum’s buildings, supporting walls and roofs as it encased the city. Herculaneum was buried under 20 meters of pumice, ash, and debris. (Pompeii was buried under only four meters of debris.) What all this debris did was preserve organic material that wasn’t found in Pompeii. Things such as wooden doors and support beams, clothing, and food, among other organic matter. Many of the frescoes and mosaics remain intact. All of these artifacts give a much clearer picture into first century Roman life.


  

Statue recovered from Herculaneum

In 1709, long after Mount Vesuvius annihilated Pompeii and Herculaneum and generations had well forgotten there had ever been cities there, a man set out to dig a well. He found far more than he bargained for. This is the traditional story of Herculaneum being discovered. But city remnants were found in earlier earthworks. In 1738, regular excavations began and have continued off and on ever since. Workers would be hired by the wealthy to dig up treasures from the site to bring back to decorate their palaces.

As archeology digs took place in Herculaneum, unlike in Pompeii, bodies weren’t uncovered. It was assumed that, having seen the first eruption, the inhabitants had fled to safety.

Boat Sheds

In the 1980s, as more portions of the village were excavated, over 300 skeletons were discovered in the boat shed area (that is now inland). It is theorized that the people fled to the water in hopes of rescue. Their deaths would have been fast in the super heated gases that swept down from the volcano.

Today, still only a small portion of the city has been dug up. It is doubtful the whole of Herculaneum will ever be unearthed as the city of Ercolano sits on top of it.

 

NEW RELEASE!!! THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle 4)

Will Geneviève open her heart to a love she never imagined?

Washington State 1894

Geneviève Marseille has one purpose in coming to Kamola—stopping her brother from digging up the past. Deputy Montana has lived a simple life. But when a fancy French lady steps off the train and into his arms, his modest existence might not be enough anymore. A nemesis from Aunt Henny's past arrives in town threatening her with jail. Will she flee as she’d done all those years ago, or stand her ground in the town she’s made her home? When secrets come out, will the lives of Geneviève, Montana, and Aunt Henny ever be the same?

 

MARY DAVIS is a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle 4). Some of her other recent titles include; THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (Quilting Circle 3, Salah Award Winner), THE WIDOW’S PLIGHT (Quilting Circle 1), THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT (Quilting Circle 2), "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, Prodigal Daughters Amish Series, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection , and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits: BOOK RELEASE PARTY!

🍁🍁🍁 FALL BOOK RELEASE PARTY! 🍁🍁🍁
🥳 Come join the fun on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
3:30-5:30 p.m. PST (6:30-8:30 p.m. EST)
Grand Prize $35 Amazon gift card as well as other prizes
🍁 My latest release 🧡 The Débutante’s Secret 🧡 (Quilting Circle 4) will be one of the featured books.
The others are:
🍁 Mabel Gets the Ax by Susan Kimmel Wright
🍁 A Mug of Mayhem by Angela Ruth Strong
🍁 Promise Me Aloha by Taylor Bennett
See you there! 🍁🧡🍁

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits: VICTORIAN MOURNING LOCKS


In Independence, Missouri sits a unique little museum dedicated to hair art but not fancy hairdos as one might think. The hair in Leila’s Hair Museum are strands from dearly departed loved ones made into art. Before the advent of photography, people liked to keep a little something of someone who had passed on. We have all seen this type of thing in movies where a small hank of hair is kept in a locket.
 

People of bygone eras took this to whole new levels by saving a loved ones hair in a keepsake or weaving it into a work of art. This art form has been around since the 1500s and flourished during the Victorian era.

Not only would one find tresses in lockets but woven into bracelets, necklaces, rings, brooches, and other jewelry pieces to keep a loved one close.
 


Originally, these fancy hair art jewelry pieces were only affordable to the very wealthy being created by master craftsmen. By the mid 1800s, women were creating hair art at home. Books and instructional guides were written on the craft. Popular magazines of the time, like Godey’s Lady’s Book, had printed patterns for hair art and offered starter kits with the tools needed for the craft. This made hair art mementos affordable for the average person.


These memorial tokens weren’t relegated to jewelry only. Wall art was created with hair. Sometimes the hair was incorporated into the art and other times the hair was the art.


Hair wreathes like this one would represent generations of a family. Each time a relative passed away, a piece of that person’s hair would be added to the wreath. Hair was twisted with wire to help it hold its shape.


Can you imagine all the DNA in a piece like this? 

Testing on hair cut from Beethoven’s head in 1827 showed his life-long illness was due to lead poisoning.

Unlike a lot of other natural fibers, hair doesn’t decay over time. It can last for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. On the other hand, the gum used to glue the hair together does decay, resulting in the piece loosing its integrity and the hair coming loose or moving within a piece.



On the far left side, you can see in this one where the hair has come loose and is gone now due to degraded glue. 

Some famous people whose hair has been saved in some of these hair art pieces are George and Martha Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Webster, Aaron Burr, Jenny Lind, Queen Victoria, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson to name a few.

In this video, you can take a look around Leila's Hair Museum.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOvArYUyPQc)

Do you think this sort of thing is cool or creepy? 

Would you want your hair preserved in jewelry or wall art for generations to come?

 

NEW RELEASE!!! 

THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle 4)

Will Geneviève open her heart to a love she never imagined?

Washington State 1894

Geneviève Marseille has one purpose in coming to Kamola—stopping her brother from digging up the past. Deputy Montana has lived a simple life. But when a fancy French lady steps off the train and into his arms, his modest existence might not be enough anymore. A nemesis from Aunt Henny's past arrives in town threatening her with jail. Will she flee as she’d done all those years ago, or stand her ground in the town she’s made her home? When secrets come out, will the lives of Geneviève, Montana, and Aunt Henny ever be the same?

 

MARY DAVIS is a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle 4). Some of her other recent titles include; THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (Quilting Circle 3, Salah Award Winner), THE WIDOW’S PLIGHT (Quilting Circle 1), THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT (Quilting Circle 2), "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, Prodigal Daughters Amish Series, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection , and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:

Tuesday Tidbits: CRANBERRY DELIGHT

Each year I can’t wait for this time of year for many reasons. One of them is the stores have fresh cranberries to make one of my favorite t...