Two Families. One Thanksgiving.

About 56 years ago (maybe more!)…two families became friends. One family lived in the city. One family lived in the country. The city people started visiting the country. They loved the farm where the country family lived. They loved the tall pine trees, the hilly pastures, the winding trails through the woods. They loved the horses and the cows. They loved the friendly people, the smaller towns, the quiet beauty and vigor of East Texas.



Thanksgiving at the farm in 2015.

 So the city family moved from the city to one of the small towns near the farm. The city family had four children and the country family had one child. All of the children truly became close friends. The only child of the country people felt like he had four brothers and sisters. Of course, all of the original children are grown now and their children are grown. There are now many happy grandchildren.


Four Wheelers!

The original parents in the city family and the original parents in the country family are no longer with them in person. However, their spirit and love lives on and on through the wonderful tradition of their Thanksgiving Celebration…a Thanksgiving that has been shared for those 56 (or maybe more!) years. Thanksgiving is always held at the farm that everyone loved so much in the very beginning of the friendship.


One of the barns.

My husband happens to be the lucky only child who felt like he was part of a very big family. The farm happens to be our farm that I have written about in many of my posts. Our children grew up with cousins who are not really, truly cousins…but cousins that are just as close as real cousins. And friends that are the forever kind of friends.


Better steer clear if I am driving a four wheeler!

Last Thursday, our families spent another Thanksgiving together. There were 49 of us gathered for the annual celebration. During the years, we have added other friends and relatives to the group. My nephews and niece have spent many Thanksgivings at the farm. They now all have families who also share in our Thanksgiving tradition. Our friends from across the road (ironically originally from the city) celebrate with us. We have added a brother and sister-in-law to our group. My husband’s cousin joined us this year. We usually have someone new each year. We love for new people to celebrate with us.


Our grand-dog spent his first Thanksgiving at the farm.

The first Thanksgiving that I spent at the farm was just a month after I met my future husband. I had been told that it would be a large group, but I was still so very surprised! There were people everywhere…so fun, so friendly! I was asked almost immediately if they should start “polishing the silver” for a future wedding celebration. Like I said, I met him just a month before Thanksgiving! What could I say? I kind of had a feeling that it would work out, so I said “yes”. Almost two years later, they did indeed “polish silver” for a bridal shower for me…just as they did for our daughter when she married two years ago.


Train ride at the farm!

Those Thanksgivings so many years ago were the start of something so incredibly special in our lives. We spend all day together…lunch and dinner…dessert all afternoon. Football…four wheelers…walking through the woods. Talking…laughing…remembering…holding a new baby just born in August.

This is what friendship is all about!

This is what family is all about!



Super Engaging Book #9


Another Super Book!

When I think about the sound of coffee percolating, I remember the constant “kerplop, kerplop” of the ever busy coffee pot.  The “kerplop” sound was almost like a drumbeat saying “wake up”, “come to the kitchen”…the sound could be heard all day long. My parents drank coffee all day long…I do not like coffee at all! My husband’s parents drank coffee all day long…he does not drink coffee at all! Go figure! Maybe we just got tired of the percolating “kerplop” sound!



Percolating coffee is still the norm at local cafes and diners. Even for a non coffee drinker, the smell and sound of coffee brewing is comforting. I suppose coffee at a small local café takes me back to a simpler time. Believe it or not…there was a time not so long ago when Starbucks were not on every corner! Besides, cafes and diners also have grilled cheese sandwiches and usually lots of good conversation!

When thinking about a small café or a diner, I can’t help but remember one of my favorite children’s books…

In the Diner

Written by Christine Loomis

Illustrated by Nancy Poydar

In the Diner is a fun book to read to young children since there are continuous two word phrases. Throughout the book, each two word phrase rhymes with the next two word phrase. With the distinct phrasing, the flow of the book is swift and exciting.

Bright and interesting illustrations accompany the words. The multicultural diner is filled with talkative people from the hungry diners to the busy servers to the even more busy cooks. Joe’s Diner is clearly a special place! During the last school year, I ordered a copy of In the Diner with a CD…the sounds inside the diner were amazing! The children asked me to always keep the book in our Listening Center!

Editorial Review of In the Diner

From School Library Journal:

A day at the diner is delightfully presented with rhyming text and colorful illustrations. Hungry patrons and playful children enjoy the friendly atmosphere as cooks prepare burger and ice cream sundaes and waiters serve their satisfied looking clientele. The crowd includes many ethnic groups; male and female diners and workers; as well as a visually disabled man with a guide dog. Although beginning readers would enjoy exploring this book on their own, it is especially suited to reading aloud because of the catchy, short text and clear, lively pictures.

Mary Rinato Berman, New York Public Library


Yes! I Changed My Theme!


Sometimes you just have to change your image a bit…like wearing more bright colors or maybe becoming blonde. Oh wait…I am sort of blonde or at least I once was blonde. And I most always wear bright colors. Maybe I might want to wear outlandishly high heels. Forget that…I like to walk upright. Maybe I just needed a change for my blog for just no real reason at all. Or maybe I just wanted my blog to look slightly more grownup.

After all, I am not teaching kindergarten anymore…even though my heart is still with the children. How I loved those children! So fun! So talkative! So bright! However, I am moving on to LIFE AFTER KINDERGARTEN! I am really finding that life is very fun in the real world away from teaching school! I can still go back and visit, but now I can go shopping when I want to go shopping! I can have lunch at a regular time instead of at 10:35! Perhaps, I can even cook dinner for my husband. Well…I am not sure about that for every single day…let me just say that we certainly enjoy going out to dinner!

So that is it…I changed the look of my blog and I am surprised that it worked. I thought sure that it would take all night and that I would have to ask the very helpful Happiness Engineers for continuous help. As it turned out, I just drove one of them crazy for about twenty minutes!  A miracle! And I do believe in miracles!!

Thank you for reading my rambling words! I do appreciate all of you from around the world! Please visit often!!

Mama’s Recipe #2: Baked Fudge. Wow!


Baked Fudge


 My mother made some of the very best desserts ever…cookies, cakes, pies, and TARTS.  All of my parent’s neighbors were aware when something special was about to appear from the oven. It was uncanny how quickly their neighbors would show up and wait at the breakfast room table…waiting for a cup of coffee and a wonderfully sweet treat.

Even after I finished college and began working, I could expect to come home to a table filled with my parent’s neighbors. When my future husband first visited my parent’s house, he also met their neighbors. Honestly, they were part of the family…Bee, Edwin, Dorothy, Bettye and on and on.

And we can’t forget my aunts…Aunt Lois, Aunt Doris, Aunt Ethel (when she was in town), Aunt Eva, and Aunt Beth. They were all very talkative and fun and perhaps a bit opinionated (in a good way!). My future husband had way more people to impress than just my parents. He liked to talk and sit around the table laughing with lots of friends…especially when a great tasting dessert made with chocolate was being served! We are the same way with friends today when we visit our farm or when we get together with friends in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Maybe it is something about a chocolate dessert that makes everyone a bit happier…or maybe it is any sweet dessert. Or maybe it is just the camaraderie with long time friends who know all of your crazy habits and like you anyway! Somehow, I think desserts might play an important part in some families…like mine!

One of my favorite desserts that my mother made was…

Baked Fudge

Unbelievably delicious! No kidding! I could never find where the recipe was written down, but I found an old newspaper clipping with a Baked Fudge recipe. I made it and…YEA!…it tasted just like my mother’s own Baked Fudge!  The recipe was from a now closed restaurant named “Tale of the Trout” in Roger, Arkansas. My mother must have had a similar recipe long before the restaurant opened in 1977. I have no idea where my mother got the original recipe!

Baked Fudge has a very custard-like consistency…sort of like a hot pudding. My mother always called this dessert a CRUSTLESS TART. I always thought that tarts included fruit, but I now realize that there are also chocolate tarts. The following is the very good recipe for Baked Fudge…


Tale of the Trout Baked Fudge


4 eggs

2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1 cup butter

1 cup chopped nuts (my mother used pecans)

2 teaspoons vanilla



Add sifted dry ingredients to well-beaten eggs. Add butter (melted), vanilla, and nuts. Pour into a 8x10x2-inch pan. Place pan in a larger pan filled with a hot (boiling) water bath. Add enough boiling water to the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until firm like a baked custard. Cool, serve with whipped cream. Serves 8 to ten. The fudge will be crusty on top.



Appreciating Nature and Friends.


Chapel at Top of the Rock…Big Cedar Lodge…Ridgedale, Missouri

The magnitude of nature in Ridgedale, Missouri surprises me even more on each visit to Big Cedar Lodge, located on Table Rock Lake. Big Cedar has become one of our favorite vacation places. Peacefulness and tranquility mixed with an abundance of fun activities are the most obvious and important components. On second thought, the sheer surrounding beauty of the Ozark Mountains is an added near perfect bonus.


A waterfall at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.

We just returned from yet another trip to Big Cedar. We cannot seem to stay away! Our very close friends met us in Missouri and we packed every activity possible into each day. We visited the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park and rode a tram through the park on winding roads that were punctuated by waterfalls, springs bubbling from the ground,  and creeks overflowing with trout. Happy people were in abundance…walking/jogging, riding on bicycles, and attempting to ride on segways! In this contentious election time, hearing the laughter of friends and the laughter of even those unknown to us was a very welcome respite! We needed this special time!


A bridge on the golf cart cave tour at Top of the Rock, Big Cedar Lodge.

Big Cedar Lodge is filled with small details…as portrayed in the following short video:

Yes…we had a wonderful time with friends. How can we measure the worth of a friendship? Perhaps…by many years of spending Thanksgiving together…by watching our children grow up, go to college, begin careers, begin families…by an abundance of shared memories through difficult times of loss and incredibly joyful times of simple moments…by knowing that we will be there for each other and our combined families. During our times with friends last week and last year, we realized one of the most essential parts of life…we must take the time to be together and see the beauty of our surroundings.


The beginning of fall colors at Big Cedar Lodge.

Big Cedar Lodge happens to be one of our places to find joy and appreciation for nature and for friends. I imagine and I sincerely hope that you have such a place. It could be as near as your backyard or seven hours away… no matter…the first step is to figure out where to find such tranquility. After all…we all need more peace and laughter in our lives.


The beauty of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.