Thanksgiving Projects

Yes, I’m a little early, but nothing compared to the retailers pushing Christmas in August!!  I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost among the leaves…or rather holidays of Halloween (is that technically a holiday?) and Christmas.  That being said, I’m here to hopefully encourage you to do something a little special this year.  Invite somIMG_1430eone new to your dinner table, try a new recipe or craft or better yet, treat every day like Thanksgiving.  We all have something to be thankful for, even on the grayest of days.

Here’s an idea for a Thanksgiving dessert and a centerpiece all in one.

Take a look at the date on the bottom of the copied magazine page…Country Living October 2006.  Do you think I saved this recipe long enough?  I finally pulled it out last weekend and made the pumpkin-shaped cake.  It turned out pretty good, albeit a tad dry.  We really liked the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but agree IMG_1415it was not quite strong enough.  If I were to make this cake again, I would increase the pumpkin to 1 full cup and the pumpkin pie spice to 3 teaspoons.  I used two smaller (6-cup) bundt pans and they worked fine.  I only had to do a little trimming to get the cakes to stack evenly.  In addition to the drizzle icing, I spread a very thin layer of chocolate icing between the layers and mixed the leftover icing with the cake trimmings and shoved them down in the middle of the cake; I knew the family would want more icing, and I needed something to support my leaves and stem. I took the easy way out and used artificial leaves and stem (chenille stems twisted tightly together).  I just didn’t have time to make marzipan, although I highly recommend it because it looks so much better.  If you try this cake, let me know how you make out.


Easy Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

1 Devil’s Food cake mix

2 t pumpkin-pie spice (increase to 3 t)

2/3 c pumpkin (I suggest increasing to 1 c)

1/4 c softened unsalted butter

3 whole large eggs

1 cup finely ground pecans

3/4 c water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter and flour or use baking spray to coat two 6-cup bundt pans, 1 large bundt pan or three 6, 8, or 10-inch round cake pans if you want to do some serious carving.  Double the recipe if using the round cake pans.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat using a mixer on medium-high speed until batter is smooth.  Fill the cake pan(s) and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.  Watch closely and test with a toothpick.  Do not over bake.  Cool cake(s) completely on a wire rack before assembling.  Trim the pumpkin cake halves flat on the side that would be the bottom of the bundt pan before stacking together to form the pumpkin.  If you are using round cake pans you will need to carve the cake into a pumpkin shape after stacking the layers.  Decorate as desired.  Viola!  Easy peasy!


My grandson loves to make name cards for special occasions, so I decided to try to make pilgrims hats.  This turned out easier than I expected and I’m including the instructions for you.  Names and/or artwork on the hats can be provided by the little pilgrims in your life.   All you need is white paper (you can use copy paper), black and yellow construction paper, scissors, glue and Scotch tape.

Lady Pilgrim’s BonnetIMG_1413

Cut a piece of white paper (8-1/2 x 11 inch copy paper in half) to 5-1/2 inches x 8-1/2 inches.  Fold one of the longer edges back 1 inch; this is the front of the bonnet. On the opposite side measure in 2-1/4 inches on each side and then up 1-1/2 inches toward the center of the paper.  Mark the center of the same edge with a pencil dot.  With your scissors, cut up to the 1-1/2 inch marks and then down to the center dot.  This looks like an “M” when it is cut out (see picture).

Bring the 2-1/4 inch sides together and tape front and back to secure; it looks like the Flying Nun’s hat at this point.IMG_1417

Now, pull the center point down to the bottom of the back shaping it to fit as you go.  Secure with tape.  Punch a small hole in each side of the front of the bonnet.  Tie a knot in the end of a 6-inch piece of string or ribbon and pull the unknotted end through the hole.  Repeat on the other side.  Tie a bow with the ribbons to hold the bonnet in place.  All done.IMG_1419

Man’s Hat

From black construction paper cut a 6-inch diameter circle for the brim of hat.  Cut a 4″ x 9″ rectangle of black paper.  Cut a 1-1/2 inch x 8-1/2 inch piece of white paper and a 2-1/2 inch x 3-1/4 inch piece of yellow construction paper.  Look at the picture above for the finished hat to use as an example for the man’s hat.IMG_1414

Glue the strip of white paper 1/2 inch above one long edge of the large black rectangle.  When glue is dry roll the rectangle into a cylinder and tape inside and out to hold in place.  Do not fold or crease this piece.  Poke a hole in the center of the round piece of black paper and then cut pie-shaped wedges, approximately 2-1/2 inches, toward the outside of the circle.  Fold these wedges up into the center of the cylinder and tape.  Cut the center out of the yellow rectangle leaving 1/2 inch borders on all sides and glue on top of the white band at the front of the hat.  I did not cover the top of the hat, but you can if you like.  All done!






Visit me at

Autumn Approaches

back to schoolThe days are shortening, the leaves are starting to turn color, and anticipation grows for parents and children alike for the first day of school.

Stores are crowded with tired parents and children stressing about choosing cool clothes to make them fit in.  New school supplies are a thrill at any age.  I bought a new spiral notebook this year just to feel like part of the game.  school supplies

Backpacks make a garden of color on Target and Walmart walls with the selection getting bigger every year.  How did we ever manage carrying multiple books on our hips?  And, how come boys never had as many books to carry as girls?


Covering our school books was one of my favorite tasks every year.  The kitchen table was piled with books, brown paper bags, and tape.  Being able to make a tight fitting book cover from a paper bag was a true skill and one to be proud off.  I remember the smell and the feel of the covers as I stacked the finished books.  In those days doodling on the book covers was an art form.  When your boyfriend’s name changed, you had to make a new book cover.

woven book cover

Look at this clever book cover…woo hoo!

Oh…the excitement of going to junior high.  You thought you would never adjust.  Just when you loved junior high the most, it was time to move on to senior high and even greater anxiety.

junior high

Stay-at-home moms will get to enjoy a few extra minutes of quiet time before trying to coordinate everyone’s new activities and starting the chauffeur game.   Working moms will look at their calendars in fear of having to work late and business trips that will take them away from the school activities they want to share with their children.

frantic mom

Do you think this mom is ready for school to start?

I wish you all happy times and please do not text or talk on the phone while driving your children.

Which is more important, the phone call, or your child’s life?  No brainer!


Autumn – the season of colors and change

I love shuffling through colored leaves and the cooler temperatures with the hint of winter on the wind that fall brings.  Visiting farms to pick your own apples and pumpkins, the excitement of trick or treat and Halloween parties no sooner end then we are launched into the holiday season.

“Yellow, Orange, Green, and Brown, All the leaves keep falling down!”  These perfect words, for describing fall, come from a little book entitled Leaf Trouble by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church.  It’s a sweet book about a squirrel named Pip who doesn’t understand why his tree is dropping its leaves.  Leaf Trouble is the perfect bedtime read for young children.  Unfortunately, the book can only be purchased through Scholastic Books.  Ask your child’s teacher when the next book fair at your school will be or if she can order it for you.

Thanksgiving.  For me, this is the forgotten holiday squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas.  Somehow it never seems to get the attention it deserves at my house.  I don’t decorate as much, I don’t get to watch the parades on TV any more, and I’m already tired just thinking about the upcoming month!  For some, Thanksgiving is the most important day of the year spent with family and friends, as it should be.  For others, it’s the point the stress of the holidays begins.  So, let’s talk about reducing the stress before it starts.  This would be considered my Busy Mom Tip or rather “tips.”

Get organized. 

  1. Mark all upcoming events on your calendar. Say no to anything you really do not want to do.
  2. Make lists and keep making them of everything you MUST do.
  3. Be prepared. Plan your menus in advance and shop as early as possible for the non-perishables.  Perishables should be the only reason you need to shop a few days before the event.
  4. Cook and bake anything that can be frozen with good results ahead of time.  I make and refrigerate my pie dough and cookie dough as far ahead as two weeks and then only have to bake on the day before I need them.
  5. Shop early. Wrap early.  Decorate early.
  6. Ask for help…don’t be a control freak! This was the hardest thing for me to learn, it took over 40 years of doing every holiday meal myself before I realized I really could ask for help and actually get it.  Ask family members to share the load.  Hubbies and teenagers who drive can help with shopping and errands.  Younger children can dust, vacuum, set the table, haul folding chairs, shovel snow, entertain younger children, clear the table and help with the dishes.  Yup, they really can, and you’ll be surprised how much they’ll appreciate feeling important.  Friends and family will be happy to bring their favorite dish when invited to your home.  If you do this right you may end up only having to light the candles!
  7. Reciprocate. When invited to dinner or a party always ask “what can I bring?”  Make sure the hostess knows you mean it.  During the party and after help with cleanup, no excuses, every little bit helps.
  8. This is my favorite…EAT OUT! We have a local family restaurant that cooks a whole lot better than I do and they’re open on Thanksgiving.  Now all I have to do is convince the rest of the family how much fun it would be…don’t hold your breath on this one.
  9. No matter where you spend Thanksgiving, when you are gathered around the table be truly thankful for your blessings. Enjoy the food, but also enjoy the company and see if you can’t incorporate family dinners more often in your everyday life.
  10. Finally, as my mother-in-law always said when saying grace, “let us be mindful of the needs of others.”


Thanksgiving in miniature.   Here’s a picture perfect dining room with everything including the turkey.  Of course, it only looks like this before everyone dives in.  Fitting your family around this table may be a challenge.



Thanksgiving project for your dollhouse:  Make your own Thanksgiving vegetable – a mini bowl of green peas. Glue some mustard seeds into a tiny pot or bowl.  Paint them green with craft paint.  Voila! Dinner is served.  Very simple and very adorable!  Look around your local craft store for anything that can be used as a miniature bowl and don’t forget the jewelry aisle!  There are all kinds of tiny items in this aisle that can be used for making miniatures.


Reader Contest

Enter to win a free copy of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.  Place your name and mailing address in the “leave a reply” section at the bottom of the blog and submit it to me.  Ten lucky readers will receive a copy of the book mailed to their home.  Last day to enter will be Tuesday, December 14th.  Winners’ names will be drawn on December 15th and announced in the following blog.  Don’t just enter because you like free things, upcoming contests will be based on questions from the book.  If you don’t win you can still enter future contests by ordering your own paperback or e-book from


Guest Blog

Check it out!  Friday November 21, I’m doing an author interview on

Orchid does a great job reviewing middle-grade and young adult books, and her blog art is a feast for the eyes.

Little play on the Thanksgiving theme there…feast…get it?

Do you know what your children and teens are reading?


Coming up in the next blog:  The “flying turkey” and more.

Please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you.


House for Sale


 front of house  3

The Rosedawn Plantation – designed and constructed by the Lawbre Company is a magnificent statement in the Antebellum Southern Classical Greek Revival tradition. The Rosedawn contains three floors with twelve rooms and measures 55″ Wide x 26″ Deep x 37″ High.  The Rosedawn is the ultimate in dollhouses and the perfect gift for daughter or granddaughter. Visit to appreciate their craftsmanship.

The Rosedawn, completely electrified and all but one room meticulously decorated, is being offered for sale to the highest bidder (over the owner’s pre-determined minimum) with or without the existing furniture.  If you want a superior quality dollhouse and don’t have the time or interest in doing the detail work, this is the house for you.  If you are a miniature enthusiast you will recognize the quality of this house and an opportunity you don’t want to miss.


20141028_12112220141028_121357Bedroom 1

The house located in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC area is large and significantly heavy.  The successful bidder will be responsible for picking up the house and/or arranging for packing and shipping.  The original shipping crate is available.

Please send bids to me with your contact information and I will forward them to the owner for consideration.  Christmas is just around the corner…don’t delay.