Best Selling author Carra Copelin writes contemporary and historical romance. The Texas Code Series, contemporary romantic suspense novels include Code Of Honor, Book One. The Brides of Texas Code Series, western historical novellas, explores the Texas Code Series beginnings. Katie and the Irish Texan, Book 1, Matelyn and the Texas Ranger, Book 2, and Angel and the Texan from County Cork, Book 3. Laurel:Bride of Arkansas, American Mail-Order Brides Series, Book 25

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Day Tradition - Eating Black-Eyed Peas

 I borrowed the following article to share my family's belief in the good luck given by eating black-eyed peas on the first day of the new year. My family, on my dad's side, was from a little town in Alabama called, Cross Plains, then, named Piedmont, after the Civil War. After great loss, the families of Sherbett and Pike moved to Bosque County, Texas and with them came our black-eyed pea eating tradition.


Thank Gen. Sherman for our black-eyed pea tradition

12.31.09 | 10:04 pm
I gotta feeling: Black-Eyed Peas not only will be playing on the radio, but they’ll be served on a table, too.

My first foray from the suburbs of Philadelphia to the Deep South—Yazoo City, Miss., to be exact—taught me several things.
  1. Dress up before you sit down at the dinner table, pleated-front khakis preferred.
  2. Pace yourself at the dinner table when a broccoli cheese casserole is served.
  3. You can refer to the American Civil War as “the War of Northern Aggression,” if you’d like.
  4. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is an important Southern tradition to bring you good luck in the coming year.
These lessons helped me, a bona fide Yankee carpetbagger of nearly 18 years, acclimatize to my new environs south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Now I still can’t say y'all. You guys will have to wait a few more years for that. Nor will I blame “northern aggression” for the Civil War. Lincoln bashing is where I draw the line.

But I have come to fully embrace the distinct dishes (chile con queso is a newly formed section of my food pyramid) as well as Southern culinary traditions, like eating those black-eyed peas on New Year’s.

I recently took a very non-scientific poll of yay or nay around the dinner table about the reason for the black-eyed pea New Year’s tradition and found nay person to offer a yay response.

Some Northern Aggression Actually Informs the Tradition

Tradition has it that Southerners have been eating black-eyed peas for good luck on the first of the year since the end of the Civil War. They were the only things left for many Southerners to eat after the invading northern army, led by Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, tore through Georgia on his “march to the sea.”

Sherman believed that the actions of his army “hastened what we all fought for, the end of the war."

Sherman’s goal was to bring a quick end to the war. He also wanted to make Georgia “howl.” To do so, Sherman’s army not only took the city of Atlanta, but it cut a path of destruction some 300 miles long and some 60 miles wide through the South. As the army wreaked havoc, it consumed almost everything with which it came into contact. Almost everything except black-eyed peas.

Apparently Northerners thought these cowpeas, as they referred to them, were unfit for human consumption (gasp!). Thus, for Southerners caught in the wake of this destructive army, there was little else that winter of 1864-65 on which they could subsist.

Little did he know it also inaugurated a New Year’s tradition for southerners.

So considering my recently acquired affinity for black-eyed peas runs counter to the apparent long tradition of Yankee disdain for the bean, I’m quite proud of my turnaround in taste.

Thank you, Steve Popp, for sharing your story with us.

 Now, my mother had her own rules for eating, what we as kids called, the dreaded pea. We could eat one spoonful or, if that was too much, at least one pea. I think my brother might have stretched that to one-half. I happen to love the sassy little legume, but, after having children of my own, I understood why she amended the folklore. Mother, who was very superstitious, was going to make sure we ate a pea. She told us if we ever missed eating one on New Years Day, there was a three day grace period. I just want to say that I dearly loved my mom, and tomorrow we will be having a bowl in her honor. Eat up!!

Happy New Year! Carra  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year

Every new year we start out with great expectations of things to come. If we're lucky, there are more good times than bad. I hope this past year of 2011 was good to all of you, and I wish that 2012 will be the best year yet.

Texas Skies Blog is still relatively new, but I hope to have more articles pertaining to writers and the writing process. I am also planning a few interviews with authors to discuss their books and their world of imagination. My first guest will be Lyn Horner, author of action-packed, romantic historical fiction. I hope you will stop by the first week of January to visit with Lyn and me.

Happy New Year, Carra

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Wishes

My wish for you in this time of reflection, family, and Santa Claus is a safe holiday filled with loved ones, good food and a warm home. May you all have a very Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Traditions

We all have family traditions. Some of these are developed with new families, some are carried down through generations.

The history of the modern Christmas tree dates back to Germany in the 16th century. German immigrants brought them to America about 1700 and they became popular with the general U.S. population about 1850. The tree is widely accepted today with Christmas trees gracing homes and office buildings alike.

I'm fairly certain that our family traditions, including the decorated tree, started, at least, as far back as the late 1700's to early 1800's. The trees through the years have come in all shapes and sizes. Growing up we had short ones, tall ones, fir, white plastic and a cedar that my dad cut for us one night. It was such an adventure having daddy cut down our own tree, that is, until we saw the sign saying we were on land belonging to a state park!

My husband and I started our family's tree tradition with a Lionel train set and a town consisting of a farm, train station and Santa with reindeer. While the placement and additions have changed throughout the last 40 years, it's content remains circa 1955. The following shots are from our tree this year.

I would love to hear from you if you'd like to share your family traditions. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas - Memories and Magic

I love Christmas, from religious services to Santa Claus, Nativity scenes to Christmas trees. I love it all. We start decorating our tree the Friday after Thanksgiving, hang the outside lights, and set up the train board under the tree. There's the shopping, driving around the neighborhoods looking at all the homes decorated with lights and the baking...yum! This year I've taken  to woolgathering, more than in recent years, and I thought I would share a couple of my memories.

The earliest Christmas I remember was at age five. It turned out to be the one that made my mother cry. Why you ask? Well, you see, Santa had always left a doll under the tree for me, and, apparently, after seeing the doll, I would play with nothing else. This particular year, the jolly old guy also brought a buggy.When relating the story to me many years later, Mother said she knew, if I had seen the doll first, the morning was over. She told me how she quickly hid the doll behind the tree, then waited to see what I would do. Upon finding the buggy parked there in all its beauty, I promptly took it to my room, found my favorite doll, Janie, and began to play. Mother said she felt so bad that she never hid another thing from us.

Another memory I'd like to share with you, circa 1952, is of the decorated store windows of Neiman-Marcus, Sanger Bros, and A. Harris in downtown Dallas, Texas. We would bundle up in heavy coats, hats and gloves and walk along Elm, Main and Commerce Streets looking at the scenes depicting Santa's workshop, outdoor scenes with elves and furry animals, and cozy living rooms on Christmas morning. One I remember, in particular, depicted Clement Moore's, Twas the Night Before Christmas. The animated mannequins portrayed every aspect of the classic poem, including the dad in his cap, smoking a pipe and watching Santa about to rise up the chimney. It was so magical seen through a child's eyes. I can't help thinking my own children missed something wonderful.

This week I began planning a Christmas time-travel romance. The possibilities are endless; my memories are calling out to me. What could be more fun than creating my favorite kind of romance occurring at my favorite time of year?

I'm wishing wonderful Christmas memories for everyone. Enjoy the season!