The Letter W

Today in preschool we learned about the letter W.  For our math portion of school, I put gummy worms in a big glass bowl full of rice and let the kids go “digging” for worms.

They couldn’t WAIT to get their hands in the rice.

Once they dug up one (or six) I had them put the worms in a special bowl on the side.

Once we had found them all, we took the worms out and lined them up to count.

There was 18 1/2.    Once we counted them all, I plunged them back into the rice and the kids dug them out all over again!

Because it’s getting close to Halloween, I thought we’d do a Halloween craft using paint.  I had to keep it pretty simple because my son is two and I love that he wants to be involved with preschool, so I don’t want to get out too much stuff.

But white glitter would be awesome to add to this!  I made sure to point out that the ghosts were W-w-w-WHITE and WHITE starts with “W.”  All it took was black construction paper and white paint to get started.

It works best if the kids keep their fingers VERY close together.  After the paint had dried for a while, I added eyes and a mouth.  I happened to just use a black sharpie for the eyes and a black button for the mouth, but you could really use anything at all.

For a more involved hand print ghost project, go HERE .

Home: A School for the Eternities

I’ve been subbing for a Sunday School class -the 13 and 14 year olds.  I told my husband (the Sunday School President) he HAS to stop getting me to substitute because I’m falling in love with every class I teach!  Then they find the kids a “real” teacher and I’m kicked to the curb.  I take consolation in my calling.  I work with the Young Women, so I get to see the youth regularly.

I didn’t have time to prepare this lesson, but I got a last minute idea.  I had them list on fat popsicle sticks what they learn at home.  Then we built a house.

I have to say: I was REALLY impressed!

They thought of things I hadn’t thought of.

There were some repeats, and that’s okay.

After the house was done, I explained to the kids that the simple truths they all knew and had written on their sticks were largely unknown to most kids their age.  I told them how the only thing we take with us when we leave this world is our knowledge and we learn most of what we should know at home.  I listed most everything on the house out loud and they listened really well. 

Gosh, I love those kids.

Bounce Back


My name is Delia.
And I think I’ve finally recovered completely from my mother’s visit.

She stayed over the weekend and then some, and it was honestly good to see her.  It was draining, as I expected it to be, but I’ve finally recovered.  It was nice to have someone help with the cooking, and it was also nice to have someone to talk to.  Granted, she likes to do more advice-giving than talking or listening, but it was still nice.

She also formed an instant bond with the B&B owners, which doesn’t surprise me.  My mother forms bonds just about wherever she goes.  She’s bold and social.  I used to be somewhat bold and somewhat social -like a softer version of my mother, but it all got lost somewhere in my insecurities.  I’m starting to see hints of it coming back here and there, and it makes me happy.

It makes me feel so “at home” with myself.  Does that make any sense at all?

I started to realize this last week when I turned in some pictures for the paper.  As Ed looked through them, he sort of knit his eyebrows and “tsk”ed a little.
Then he said, “Delia, you’re a great photographer.”
I thanked him, but I sensed there was more coming.
“You just…” he paused to gather his thoughts, “Don’t know anyone in town.”
“I don’t,” I agreed, “You’re right.”  I didn’t know what knowing people had to do with photography, but he was about to tell me.
“The thing people love about this paper is the way you can feel the community through it.  Did you know that we have people across the nation and a few across the seas subscribe to this paper?”
I admitted that I didn’t.
“Former citizens.  Relatives of citizens who visit.  Military men and women looking for piece of home… the list goes on and on, but the point is: our paper captures the greatness of our little town.   We don’t waste our time with sensational stories and gut-wrenching statistics.  We want people to read about what Miss Ruby’s lunch specials and the Rittmans’ truck that’s been running for almost five generations.”
I nodded my head, but I didn’t say anything.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” he said, “I’m not criticizing you.  I’m just telling you that you need to sink your teeth into this town.  I’d like for you to study the history and the people.  See this picture of Nathan Brown?”
He held up a picture I’d taken at the Elementary school of Nathan Brown, the Student of the Week.
“Yeah…” I said.
“Do you know who he is?” Ed asked.
“The Student of the Week?” I asked, weakly.
“Nathan Brown is the son of Nate and Jessica Brown.  Nathan Brown is the grandson of Jake and Sally Brown.”
“The Bed and Breakfast owners?” I offered, a little excited at the fact that I recognized someone’s name… finally!
“Yes,” he nodded, happily, “But Nathan Brown is also infamous for being the sneakiest kid in this town.”
“He is?” I asked, smiling.
“But in this picture, he’s smiling.  Nathan Brown doesn’t smile for pictures.  Nathan Brown doesn’t smile for anything unless he’s succeeded in causing trouble for someone.”
“Oh,” I said, understanding, “I actually had to bribe him with a dollar to get that smile.”
Ed laughed at me.  I laughed at me.
“The thing is… people thrive on pictures of kids like Nathan Brown in their element.  It makes them feel at home, and truth be told: you’re taking historic pictures.  In fifty years, people are going to look at this newspaper clipping and wonder why on earth their grandfather was smiling when they all knew he hated it.”
“I see,” I answered.  And the whole thing made me laugh.  I’d never worked for a newspaper before, let alone a small town newspaper.  It was turning out to be more work than I had originally thought, “What do you think I should do?” I asked.
“Monday morning, I want you to come in and log your time and then head directly to the town library.  There’s an entire Local History section.  You can start there.”  As he spoke, the bell on the front door jingled and a customer walked in.  I turned around and saw… I kid you not… the man from the quilting shop.
I quickly turned back to face and Ed and hopefully hide my surprise.
“What can I do for you, Mason?” Ed asked.
“Just here to pay for my subscription,” he answered.  I stepped quietly to the side.  Ed wrote him up a receipt, and went to hand it to him, but something stopped him.
“Mason, have you met Delia?” He asked. He turned to look at me and my entire being filled with FEAR on the chance that me might recognize me from the quilt shop.
“I don’t believe I have,” he extended his hand.
“I’m Mason Fuller,” he said.
“I’m Delia.”
I actually DID give him my last name, but I’m not giving it to you.  Ha.
“Nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand.
“Mason’s recently moved back to town and in with his Mama. Isn’t that right?” Ed asked.
“Yeah,” Mason nodded, “Are you new in town?”
“Yes,” I nodded, “I just moved here with my three girls a few weeks ago.”
“Do you have family here?” He asked.
“Um, no,” I stumbled, “We just needed a fresh start.”
“This is the best place it the world to get that,” Mason smiled.
“I hope so,” I said, “Ed was nice enough to hire me on the newspaper crew.”
“No, you just happened to come in at the right time,” he chuckled.
There was a moment of awkward silence before Ed snapped his fingers.
“Mason, have you got any plans this weekend?” He asked.
“Not so far,” Mason replied, “You need something?”
“Can I hire you out for Saturday?  Delia’s been having a little trouble getting to know folks around here, and I’d like her to get a feel for the town’s history.  Would you mind taking the day?  You know more about this town than most folk, and she’d learn more from you than she would from a few library books.”
“Sure, I can do that,” he replied.
“What time works for you, Delia?” Ed asked.  I thought about pointing out that Ed hasn’t actually asked IF it would work at all, but if it were going to work, last Saturday would have been the day.  Mom was coming and she could stay with the girls.
“Nine?” I asked.
“Try seven,” Mason answered.
“Seven?” I was confused.
“Ruby’s opens up at seven, and her first bath of pancakes are always the best.”
“Oh, okay,” I nodded. “I’ll meet you there, then?”
“Seven,” he said, walking out the door.
“Glad we got that squared away,” said Ed.
“Yeah,” I agreed, trying to mask the screaming nervousness making the rounds in my stomach.  Immediately on leaving work, I did something I hadn’t done in weeks.

I phoned my mother instead of her phoning me.

DATE: 11/4/2010 2:09:00 AM
When I told my family that I would be moving, they were so supportive and extraextraextra ready to help in any possible way.  It was sweet to see how much they care and I felt a twinge of guilt for telling them to back off.

Okay, I didn’t put it quite like that.  But I got the point across. I made it clear to them that I needed to do this myself -that the girls and I needed some alone time together to establish “us” again.

Mom called last night.  She’s coming.  She says she can’t take it any longer.  I know it must be hard for her.  For the past eleven years, I’ve never lived more than a ten minute drive from her.  Now I’m (GASP!) two hours away.

I know I’m sounding mean and awful and cynical.  And I know I shouldn’t.  Is it terrible that I just want to be left alone?  Yeah, it is.  I shouldn’t want to be alone, and given my present circumstances, I think I NEED people to step in and demand to be part of my life; otherwise I know I’m unintentionally leave them out.

Obviously, there’s no room for mother in my trailer.  There’s also no hotels around, but there is a Bed & Breakfast.  I went to visit with the owners -who also met AND REMEMBERED me from the fall festival -Jake and Sally Brown.  They told me they started running the Bed & Breakfast out of their home to help pay for expenses while they raised their children.  Sally took on most of the inn running while Jake worked full time at the limber yard, coming home to eat, sleep, and handy-man at the B&B. Their children are long grown now, and they told me that their sixth great-grandchild was just born.

As I drove home with their flyer listing the room prices, I felt a weight on my heart.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I realized that it was jealously -hopeless jealousy.

They were together.  They’d never NOT been together.  They started together and they’re ending together and they’re enjoying their grandchildren together.

I’ll enjoy my grandchildren.

But I won’t enjoy them with Ryan.

DATE: 11/3/2010 3:50:00 AM
Ed loved my prints from the festival.  I think he wanted to use every single one of them, and he opted to do a center-page spread just for the festival.  It was sort of surreal to see my name under all of the pictures.  I know it isn’t like my name is appearing under the pictures in the The Times, or anything.  It just gave me such a good feeling to see the fruits of my “labor.”

I have to put labor in quotes because snapping pictures with a fancy-pants camera doesn’t feel like honest labor -not that I’m complaining.

And I’ve been thinking about Stan.  I guess it hasn’t been Stan I’ve been thinking about so much as what Stan made me realize.  Stan was the first single man I’ve talked to and felt totally okay with it.  Usually when I talk to any single man -under the age of 80 -I squirm uncomfortably.  The best part about Stan wasn’t that HE made me feel more comfortable -it was ME!  I did it!  In fact, looking back on the situation, I think if I had talked to him three months ago and he had asked me so many personal questions, I would have found an excuse to excuse myself.

It feels good to get some of myself back.  And the more I think about when exactly I lost myself, the more I realize that I lost myself long before Ryan left.  Maybe that’s why he left -I don’t really know.  Part of me thinks it still matters somehow -why he left.  But most of me has surrendered to sense.

Ryan told me he couldn’t take the girls last weekend, so we went to the harvest festival together.

When I called him on Monday, he told me he couldn’t take them this weekend either.

I was really excited because I wanted the girls with me on Halloween.  But I felt a HUGE black guilt-cloud roll in after I hung up the phone because I don’t have any money for cool store-bought costumes.  I did have a little money in my account -left over from Ryan’s monthly check.  I dusted off my old sewing machine and decided to get to work.

My grandmother taught me to sew.  My mother could never grasp the relationship of needle-to-thread, and I at least wanted a shot at it..  My grandmother took me under her wing and taught me everything I know, which is only a tiny piece of what she knew.  I remember wandering down the aisles at the fabric shops as a child -my grandmother would hold my hand and I would feel so overwhelmed.

“Which one?” I’d ask her, over and over.  She’d tell me she couldn’t help.  She’d tell me it was MY project and I should be the one to decide.

Once, after I’d spent nearly an hour staring at bolts of fabric, she bent down to my level.  I can still see it in my mind -her tan fake-leather hand bag stuck in the crook of her right arm, her soft rosy eye shadow that she wore faithfully every day of her life, and her polyester pants suit.

“The fabric will speak to you,” she said, plainly, “It always speaks to you.”

I felt like she had somehow given me a key of some kind -let me in on a secret only women knew.  Of course she was right.  My grandmother was always right.

I took my money to the local quilt shop, wishing my grandmother were by my side.

As I stepped into the little shop that day, the fabric started speaking.

But the only thing it had to say was “1992… 1993…”

I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.  The only thing their fabric is missing are the gerber daisies from my older sister’s wedding reception (and I’m not talking about the cute gerber daisies I’m seeing in toddler girls’ hair these days).

I wasn’t left alone long enough to leave, and the two older ladies running the store were more than happy to help me with anything I could ever need.  I ended up leaving the store with 12 yards of plain black fabric ($2 a yard!), a small bag of big black buttons, and two spools of black thread.

I remember meeting the ladies in the quilt shop at the harvest festival, but I could NOT remember their names.  As I checked out, I tried to be sneaky about checking out their business cards and sneaking a peak at any hints of names on envelopes or order forms… nothing.

Of course they weren’t wearing name tags.

Everyone ELSE knows who they are.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t remembered my name, but they did.

I was so busy name-hunting that I didn’t hear the shop door open.  Little did I know a saint had walked in.

“Ruth, has the fabric my mother ordered come in?” they asked.

Ruth.  RUTH! Of course! Her name was Ruth Clairbourne.  I couldn’t believe I had forgotten.  She had helped run the bake sale… it was all coming back.

“Yes,” Ruth answered and disappeared behind the counter, “How is she?”

“A little better, thanks,” the stranger replied.  By then, the stranger had made their way to the counter and were standing next to me.  I took a step back to see if I recognized them.


I definitely did not see HIM at the fall festival.

And I definitely wished he had not seen ME at the quilt shop looking like a frazzled hermit in my boot cut jeans, now-loose-because-it’s-a-size-too-big-thanks-to-weight-loss-(yay!) green sweater, BASEBALL CAP (for crying out loud) and ponytail.

I’m vain in that I hate it when remotely attractive people see me at my worst.

I hunkered behind my hat the best I could while he took the fabric from Ruth Clairbourne and then got in line behind me.  I wanted to ask him to please go first because he had fewer items and I’d rather him not be on the viewing end of my backside.

But we weren’t at the grocery store.

And I don’t usually talk about my hind end to strangers.

So I just quietly paid for my stuff, thanked RUTH by name, and quickly made my way the HECK out of there.

As I drove home, I realized what a moron I was.  When Ryan met me, I didn’t used to care about that kind of stuff.  I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought of me -mostly because I was filled to the brim with confidence.  These days?  Not so much.  And that’s okay.  That’s really, really okay.

I hope I don’t see The Stranger again anytime soon.  I’m hoping that my hat hid me enough that he won’t recognize me next time we meet.  If we ever meet.

Not that it matters.

What does matter is that I made three pretty amazing black cloaks and my daughters made for three pretty scary Dementors.  I may not be as handy as my grandmother with a sewing machine, but I like to think she’d be pretty proud of what I did.

DATE: 11/2/2010 2:45:00 AM
I guess I had it in my mind that the fall festival was going to be something carnival-like where the park ends up smelling like cigarette smoke and knock-off cologne.  Well, it wasn’t.  Moving from the city to a small town has been really eye-opening.  I mean, I would never have dreamed of taking my kids to something like a community fall festival because I wouldn’t know who was going to be there.  My mind was overrun with thoughts of drugs and child-snatchers.

But this was different.

I went to the fall festival because I HAD to (for work).

I took the kids with me because I HAD to (can’t afford a sitter, and I think every person who might have qualified as a babysitter was, in fact, at the festival).

When I drove up to the town park, I expected to see reality but I was suddenly faced with something a lot like Mayberry -minus the house dresses and plus iPods.  The girls immediately found their new friends from school, and I was left alone with my camera.  At least I was left alone with my camera long enough to drape it around my neck.  Dorothy found me, just like she said she would.

I think I met half the town.  I don’t remember their names, but I felt like I really got to know them as I hid behind my camera lens.  I snapped pictures of the teenagers throwing pie at the PE coach (it still boggles my mind that there’s only one school and one PE coach).  I snapped pictures of little girls chasing each other across the yellowing grass.  I snapped pictures of an old couple sitting in lawn chairs together, their hands touching as they draped their arms over the seats. I snapped pictures of expectant mothers and young mothers and grandmothers.  I snapped pictures of the bake sale ran by beautiful women in country aprons.  Dorothy told me all of their names as I took their pictures without their knowledge.  She gave me brief histories and told me who was related to whom.

I felt a certain pleasant detachment from the crowd.  Strange enough, I enjoyed sitting back and watching everyone enjoy the festival.  I didn’t want to mingle or visit -I just wanted to observe.  My camera gave me the sanctuary I wanted so badly.  I would have stayed completely tucked away if it hadn’t been for Dorothy.

In her defense, she didn’t thrust me conversation.  Dorothy would never.  Anyone who knows her would agree with me.  And everyone knows Dorothy.  THAT’S what got me.  I heard someone approach her as I snapped a few pictures of the man in charge of driving the tractor that was hitched to the hay ride.  I didn’t think much of it -mostly everyone approached Dorothy.  Generally, they left me alone.

Why is it when people standing next to you start to whisper, you hear every word?  When they’d been talking at full voice, I’d managed to completely ignore them.

The person talking to Dorothy was a man -I’d gathered that much.

Dorothy told him I’d just moved into town.

He asked where my husband was.

I thought about intervening then and telling them he was probably spending the weekend with his girlfriend and her kids, but I decided to keep with my original game plan of pretending I couldn’t hear a word of what was going on.

Anyway, Dorothy told him that I was recently divorced.

Then they paused.  They always have to pause. They always have to pause to make a face -the sympathy face.

About that time, Dorothy decided I needed to know the stranger.  I felt a soft tap on my shoulder, and I took my camera away from my face, turned to Dorothy, and pretended I had no idea what she could need me for.

“This is Stan,” she said, using her hand to present him, “Stan, this is Delia.”

Yes, I realize I just told you my name.  I think it’s about time.  Just don’t tell my mother where I am.  Thank you.

“Hi, Stan,” I said, smiling the way you should when you meet someone for the first time, “Nice to meet you.”  I shook his hand and then asked, “How do you know Dorothy?”

I watched them look at each other, completely puzzled.  Neither one of them had any idea how they’d gotten to know one another.

“Well, you taught me in Sunday School,” Stan said, “And there was that one summer you taught me piano lessons.”

They both chuckled.

“I think it all started the day Stan was born,” Dorothy smiled at him, “I helped deliver him.”

“You helped deliver him?” I asked, astonished.

“And just about every other person standing around here,” Stan added.

“Dorothy, I had no idea!” I said, amazed.

“That’s not true,” she shook her head, disregarding my comment, “I didn’t not help deliver every person standing around.  I gave that up years ago.  Besides, ” she took a breath in, “There is one person here who I did not see on their actual birthday and that’s because he’s too old.”

Dorothy pointed a delicate finger at Ed who was purchasing a candy apple.

“Excuse me,” she said, nodding at us.

She made her way to Ed, and I was left.  Alone. Alone plus Stan.

I had no idea what to say, but that didn’t seem to matter much.  Stan kept conversation going.

He asked me about my job.

He asked me about my girls.

He asked me how I liked small towns.

He asked me if I missed the city.

He asked me if I liked Dorothy and candy apples.

And before I knew it, I was neglecting my camera completely, stuffing my face with the most delicious caramel apple I’d ever had, and telling a man named Stan all about myself.

Want to know what I learned about Stan?

He’s about six foot two.

He has a head of full dark brown hair.

He’s not thin.

He’s not fat.

And he took piano lessons from Dorothy one summer.

How did this happen?  How did I let myself ramble on to a complete stranger for an hour an half?  I’ll tell you how.

I blame Dorothy.

I take comfort in this: at least he doesn’t know my last name or where I live.

And I also take comfort in this: I didn’t feel even a little bit strange about talking with him.  I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t be talking to him.  I didn’t feel like I needed to find Ryan somewhere in the crowd.  Overall, I felt okay.

And that, friends, is something like a breakthrough for me.

(Goodbye Olivia Newton-John)

Caramel Apples From Euphoria

I follow a website called

It’s full of great information, and when I saw their post about caramel apples, I decided to make some the night before Halloween.  Let me preface this post by saying this: I hate caramel apples.  I always tasted them because I felt like tasting caramel apples is pretty much an American requirement, but I never liked it.  Ever.

This recipe looked different and it piqued my interest, so I gave it a try.  Oh, MAN ohmanohmanohman am I glad I did!  These apples are better than…

regular caramel apples.

As I melted the caramel in a pot, I took a tip from a friend and let my kids stick toothpicks into Granny Smith apple bits that I had scraped out with a melon baller.

I poked a toothpick in one to give them an example and then I dipped it.

Such a cute idea!  Sadly, this was the only one that made it.

The rest of the apple balls ended up looking something like this:

And this:

My daughter calls them “witch stompers.”  I only hope she doesn’t use them on me when I get witchy.

I should also tell you that she stole a full-sized apple while I was melting caramel and poked it like CRAZY with toothpicks and then put apple balls on top of THOSE toothpicks and then more toothpicks in the apple balls.

Now THAT was a witch stomper.

Anyway, it kept her busy while I dunked the apples in caramel.  After letting the caramel set up in the fridge for about two hours, I melted some white chocolate chips and dunked the caramel apples in the white chocolate.  Before the white chocolate hardened, I sprinkled the apples with cinnamon and sugar.

You all know me well enough by now to know that my kitchen pictures are about as glamorous as a shack.

But oh, sweet sweet sweet taste buds.  You’ve GOT to try this.  We’ve crowned these apples with the NEW TRADITION crown.

Here’s what I did:



12 large, tart apples

Homemade caramel – or 2 bags Kraft caramels if you are short on time (I used the bags!)

2 bags white chocolate chips

1 T oil for thinning and it helps the
chocolate set faster.

1/2 cup sugar mixed cinnamon to taste usually about 1-2 teaspoons

Popsicle/ craft sticks

Cellophane bags for wrapping

Ribbon for tying and decorating

Any cute tags to attach

Caramel Recipe (if you don’t use bagged)

4 cups of sugar

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of unsalted butter

1 tsp. of Vanilla

2 cups of light corn syrup

Instructions for caramel:

While on medium heat, bring
mixture to a rolling boil.

Slowly pour milk in as you stir.

Melt butter. In a heavy saucepan
combine sugar, syrup, and butter over medium heat. It takes a while at this
point. I thought it would never quite get to the right temperature, but just
keep stirring. Slow and steady wins the race, do not raise your temperature. The
caramel will turn to a caramel color. Cook to a firm ball stage (Drop a little
of this syrup in cold water and it will form a firm ball, one that won’t
flatten when you take it out of the water, but remains malleable and will
flatten when squeezed.) or 240-245 degrees. Once at firm ball stage, take off
heat and add vanillaStir constantly. Let it cool for five to ten minutes and
then test an apple.

Tip1: have all these ingredients ready and pre measured so you do not burn
caramel. It works best with a candy thermometer, nice ones are great, but a
cheap one from the grocery store will do the job as well.

Tip2:  once sugar has dissolved to syrup do not re introduce new sugar, it
will crystallize.  Keep the sides of your pan and utensils clean.

Instructions for apples:

1. Wash and dry apples. Keep apples cold, it works much better. I did an ice bath bath in my sink!

2. In a medium to large saucepan make caramel or melt caramel according to
package directions

3. Put popsicle stick in the apple.

4. Dip in melted caramel making sure
to fully coat it. Let it drip drip drip then take a knife to scrape off the
bottom so you do not have a large foot of caramel when dried.

5. Place on parchment or wax paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray
heavily or a great non stick cookie sheet sprayed with oil or smeared butter.

6. Cool in the fridge until caramel is set up. 2-3 hours is best.

7. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals. You can add a
little shortening or veg oil if the mixture is too thick.

8. Coat the apple with the chocolate.

Again drip drip drip and then scrape
excess off.

9. Sprinkle it with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

10. Cool completely in the

Check out a full recipe and tutorial HERE , glamorous pictures included.  Don’t compare.  Thanks.

Best Hot Cocoa Mix of All Time!

One day in the spring of 2004, my boyfriend took me by the hand and took off running.  I fumbled behind and had no idea what was going on -mostly because it was raining so hard I couldn’t see a thing.

He stopped abruptly and pulled me close.  While I lost track of time, my boyfriend smothered me in the sweetest kisses imaginable.  Rain was pouring down our faces and absolutely drenching us, but neither of us cared.  At least, we didn’t care at first.  But after a while?  We were freezing.  It didn’t take long for my boyfriend to grab my hand and take off running again.  Only this time, we ran to the nearby gas station and bought two steaming hot cups of hot cocoa with french vanilla creamer added in.

By the way, friend, I’m a lousy addict of gas station hot cocoa with french vanilla creamer added therein.

My boyfriend is now my husband, and he still enjoys mackin’ in the rain, which is totally fine with me because I eventually get hot chocolate out of the deal.  Win-win.

HOWEVER, I’m running out of money.  Christmas is coming, you know.  Instead of spending a few bucks on a cup every other night-ish, I hopped online and started googling hot cocoa mixes.

I tried this mix first, and I’m not even going to bother with anything else.  It would be totally pointless.  Now all I need is some french vanilla creamer…

You’re Going To Need:

11 C. Powdered Milk

1 C. Confectioner’s Sugar

11 oz. Powdered Coffee Creamer

2 lbs. Nesquick powdered chocolate milk mix

4 Tblsp. cocoa powder

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

1) Mix all together in a HUGE bowl (I used my cake saver, which I’ve never actually used to save cake)

2) Store in airtight container.

3) Use 1/3 mix to 2/3 water when making hot chocolate.

This mix does look pretty rough, but it stirs in really smooth.  If the coarse-looking texture bothers you, try blending it up.  But you really don’t need to.

After making and measuring this all out, I figured it makes about 55 single hot cocoa servings.

You can fit about five 1/3 C. in a pint jar, if you’re wanting to make this to give as a gift.

It can get a little pricey.  I can’t wait to renew my Sam’s Club membership -maybe some of these ingredients are cheaper in bulk. This batch cost me about $23.

Still it ends up costing WAY less per cup, so I’m happy.

I put the kids to bed on Halloween and literally SKIPPED into my bedroom to put on my fuzzy monkey PJs.  I made some of this hot chocolate and started watching Arsenic and Old Lace.  I made it through about 15 minutes of the movie.  I woke up on the couch after it was over.

My rain-loving boyfriend had covered me in the warmest comforter in the house.

My hero.

Butternut Squash Soup

In other words, I’m getting fat.  And you can’t even see the baked pumpkin off to the side.

But this soup, friends, is worth getting fat over.  Besides, it’s getting cold.  It’s time to put on some natural insulation.

A few weeks ago, I was tromping through my Dad’s garden with him.  I’ve told you about this before.  He asked me to make butternut squash pie.  I did.  We all ate more than we should, and then Dad requested some for Thanksgiving.  His request shall be granted.

What I didn’t tell you is that my Dad’s cousin, Jolene, was with us at the time.  She asked me if I was going to make butternut squash soup.  I didn’t know there was such a thing and told her so.

Enter google.

I think I need an I heart Google shirt.

I found a great recipe that I modified to my liking and I’m going to share it with you now.  It’s a new favorite.  Serve it with sweet cornbread.  If you’re lucky enough to live a few miles away from Mom, pay her to make cornbread.  You will not, you can not regret it.

You’re Going to Need:

1 1/2 Tblsp. Butter

1 tsp. minced, dehydrated onions (or 1/2 a raw onion, sliced)

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 butternut squash, seeded, cooked, peeled and mashed (in that order, usually)

4 Cups Chicken Stock

1/2 Cube Chicken Bouillon

1 pinch ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 – 1/2 C. milk

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat; cook the onion,garlic, and thyme in the butter for about five minutes.  Add the squash and chicken brother.  Mix the squash in as well as you can.  It will have a chunky interesting texture instead of being completely smooth.  I like chunky soup.

Crumble bouillon over the top of the soup, add the cumin, salt, and pepper to taste.  I always add a little more cumin because I’m a huge fan. Once you have it seasoned to your liking, add the milk slowly.  Then remove from heat.

I usually double this recipe because when I make it, people love to eat it!  I hate running out of food, and even when I double it… there’ JUST enough.


I made a deal with my Beehives that if they would complete the second required value in the Good Works section of their personal progress, I would make them an apron.  Two of them did it and last night I checked the girls’ personal progress and realized that one more had completed it!  I’m going to get started on her apron, but here’s the other two I made using a pattern from the awesome apron book my sister bought for me.

The pocket was crooked, so I embellished it with two yo-yos to hid the fact that the yo-yo side was a lot lower than the other side.

This one only needed one yo-yo:

I can’t wait to get started on another apron!  My girls seriously rock.

Flower Headband for Infant

I took all of my crafting stuff with me on vacation, and I was SO glad I did!  I had lots of fun making crafts with friends and family and I got some really great ideas.  One of my friends mentioned that she had ordered a headband online and when it arrived, she realized it had been made using nylons.  Then my sister in law said she had seen the same thing!  I had to try it, so when I got home… I did.  The nylons I bought weren’t high quality because I mostly wanted to play with the craft and figure it out.

I started by pulling a flower apart:

Then I glued it together with E6000:

I stitched a little pearl bead to the middle:

My daughter painted my nails by the way.  They look really good and totally and completely neat (snort).

Once the bead had been stitched on, I did not cut the thread.  I left it long so I could stitch the flower to the cheap nylon.  Speaking of the cheap nylon, make sure you cut a pretty good-sized piece off.  It bunches and rolls up once the flower is put on:

Bunch up a piece where you want to stitch the flower:

And then stitch it on!

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!  I just need to find a baby to try it on before I start handing them out at baby showers.

I also want to try a few with tiny little crochet flowers attached to them.  I made this one, but I don’t like the flower very much.  I was experimenting.  But to get idea of what it might look like:

Crochet Rug

I finished my kitchen rug!

I made it using two sheets that I cut into one continuous strip like so:

You don’t cut all the way to end, but when you start a new strip, you start at the beginning and cut.  It doesn’t make much sense to SAY it, but it I show it… it might help.

I’m glad to have it done!  All it took was a honkin’ sized crochet hook and single crochet stitching.

Fabric Pumpkins

It’s time to pull out your fabric scraps and make pumpkins!!  They’re so easy and ridiculously cute that you can’t NOT make a few!

I still need to tie ribbon on mine, but check out the HOW TO by clicking on the link below: