Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkins And More - Ten Things of Thankful

Didn't we just DO TToT, like, yesterday? Has a week already gone by? No matter, here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Last week, I thought it was Thursday on two different days that were most assuredly NOT Thursday. Then it really WAS Thursday, so I had three Thursdays in one week. THIS week, what I thought was Friday was actually Saturday. So, I skipped a day in there somewhere and got to the weekend a day earlier than I thought.

2. Comfort food! The college boy is home for his fall break, and Friday night, I made vegetable beef soup, hot rolls, and chocolate cherry cake. And we all sat down at the table and ate together. Heavenly, all of it.

3. When baking the cake, I was reminded of another story about my grandma. She worked in the store with my grandpa, and after he passed away and my dad took over, she continued to work there until she was at least 70. When an employee had a birthday, she would bake a cake and bring it to the store, and more times than not, it was requested that she make her chocolate cherry cake. It became her signature cake, known as "THE birthday cake" at the store.  No one knew how she made it, but they all knew it was delicious. My mother finally asked my grandma for the secret recipe, and then passed the recipe on to me. Then one day, while using a chocolate cake mix, I picked up the empty box and glanced down at a recipe that was printed on the side of the box. It was for chocolate cherry cake. Exact same recipe. In fact, it was a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner from 1974. All this time, everyone thought my grandma's birthday cake recipe was something mysterious, and it turns out it was under everyone's noses the whole time. So my mom asked her where she got the chocolate cherry birthday cake recipe, and she said, "Oh, that? I found it on the side of a box of cake mix." 

Grandma's Super Secret* Chocolate Cherry Birthday Cake:

1 (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 27-32 minutes.


5 T. margarine or butter
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt margarine in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add sugar and milk and combine well. Bring mixture to a full boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until melted and smooth. Pour over warm cake.

*yeah, not so much

4. Two successful trips to the pumpkin patch with my two different preschool classes. No one cried, wet their pants, or threw up. If that's not a sign of a successful field trip, I don't know what is!

Farmer Tami telling us about pumpkins
at Fredrickson Farms

Best Pumpkin Patch in the history of ever.

85 pounds of pumpkin. Not much
more than that of Tami.

My precious pumpkins, listening intently.

5. While we were at the pumpkin patch, a reporter from the local NBC affiliate was there to do a story about it. I tried to evade the camera but got caught a few times. I feared the only part of me that would be in the shot would be my butt, but it never was (yeehaw!). You can catch a glimpse of me on the hayride at the beginning and at the end of the clip, and a quick smidge of me inside the barn. (There was some footage of another group of little kids [appears to be a daycare] taking a hayride as well, not to be confused with our group of far superior children.)

6. My friend Allison had an appointment for her first-ever mammogram. She was completely freaked out slightly apprehensive about it, so I went along for moral support. I told her what to expect (completely forgetting about the bb's that the technician sticks on your nipples to mark them - surprise, Alli!), didn't make fun of her for having her gown on inside out until after the whole thing was over, and was even allowed to be in the room with her for the procedure. Favorite quote from the whole thing: As the technician was helping her get into the correct position, Allison asked her, "What do you do with girls who don't have much? At least I have something to flop up there!"

VERY early morning appointment. We are not wearing
make-up. We are a little sleepy and a lot daffy.

7. My friend Lizzi helped me embed the video for #5. How cool is it that someone over 4,000 miles away can help me with a blog issue? There were some little bits of code before and after the video that refused to go away, so I plain ol' deleted them, and hopefully, nothing will go awry because of it. 

8. Finally got my fall decorations out of the attic. THIS IS NO EASY FEAT. Our house has a large (meaning huge) master bedroom and bathroom addition over the first floor family room that was done by the previous owners. Above it is a very nice attic space. It has lights and a floor and is perfect for storage, except for one small problem. Except for one huge problem. The only opening to the attic is in the ceiling of my closet. It is an opening about 3' x 2' . There is no "pull down" ladder. The only way to get up there is to drag the 8 ft extension ladder up two flights of stairs from the basement, move all the shoes out of my closet floor, and send someone up who can (a) fit through a 3' x 2' opening, (b) is not afraid of heights, (c) is strong enough to carry the tubs of fall (and/or Christmas) decorations to the opening and lower them down to someone standing on the ladder, below, and (d) is smart enough not to whack their 6'3" self on the 5'6" ceiling. College Boy scores a three out of four.

9. We are going to visit my parents this evening and go to dinner with them in the teeny, tiny town of Hume, population 336. More to come on this Thing of Thankful!

10. Last weekend was the Homecoming Dance, and as promised, pictures!

My daughter and her date.

Them again.

The whole group who went together, minus
the one boy who was running late.

Happy weekend, y'all! Link up with us, below.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts


  1. I love, love, LOVE the pumpkin patch and the video of the kids and you. And the MASSIVE pumpkins - what fun :D

    Fall decorating seems to be a really Big Thing over there, and I have to say, it seems odd to me, as we have no such tradition. Is it a Halloween thing? Harvest? Just plain 'it's autumn and we gotta make it better than thinking that this means winter's around the corner'?

    Your grandma is a SNEAKY LADY. But also very cool for pulling that off.

    So glad you were able to provide moral support to your friend. You done good :D

    1. The pumpkin patch was fun - the weather was perfect!

      I just finished my fall decorating. I'll have to take some pictures for you. I don't put much Halloween stuff out; just a few jack-o-lanterns. Mostly I use fall leaves and pumpkins. It makes me happy to bring fall inside.

      My grandma really wasn't being sneaky. I don't think she realized everyone thought it was some secret recipe. It was so funny that it was on the side of the cake mix box!

      Hey, I got a free muffin out of going to the mammogram with her!

    2. It sure looked good in the video :)

      Yeah I'd be interested to see - there are loads of pics floating around of pumpkins and ornaments etc - I just don't get it. But hey, why not celebrate whenever (and whatever) possible!

      If she didn't even realise, then the story goes from 'funny' to 'hilarious' :D

      Ah I guess that makes it worthwhile :)

  2. Your daughter looks beautiful!

    I am with Lizzy on the fall decorations, it is something very uncommon here, as well as the whole pumpkin thing.

    The cake sound totally delish! Yum!

    1. Thank you, Joy! I don't know why we're so crazy about our pumpkins in the U.S., but I like seeing them - they're such a "fall" thing! And the cake IS delish. The frosting is very, very sweet, though. I could almost do without it and just eat the cake plain.

  3. Oh dear, the cake story is awesome! The mysterious cake from the side of a cake box...

    The trips to the pumpkin patch sounds like so much fun, especially since all the kids adhered to the first and most important rule ;-)

    Hope you have a great rest of the weekend!

    1. It was pretty funny to find that recipe on the side of the box!

      The field trip was certainly successful on all levels, although I did have one of my kids tell me she had "puked in my bed and puked on the floor" sometime previously. Made me a little nervous and hoped she was just remembering something from a long time ago....
      Enjoy your weekend, Stephanie!

  4. Lots of thankful!! I love the cake recipe story.

    1. Thanks! My grandma was sometimes pretty funny without meaning to be!

  5. cool on the video... it worked great! We went to pick pumpkins today...loads o fun. Mammos not so much... but also necessary. The whole time Im reading about the cake Im thinking "ooooh family recipe-hope she includes it!" and you did! box and all! My kiddo and his wife are coming for their first anniversary tomorrow and I still have to make a cake because it is also her birthday... may do this one. Will let ya know! Thanks!

    1. Do let me know if you make the cake! It's very moist and yummy. And it IS the super secret special birthday cake! Glad the video worked (thank you, Lizzi!). Even more glad my butt wasn't in it.

  6. Did my comment not get posted again?? It's getting old!!

    Anyways, I love the cake story, really awesome! It's been all on a box.. perfect...

    Your trips to the pumpkin patch seem to have been a lot of fun. Especially since all the little ones adhered to the first and foremost rule.

    Hope you have a great weekend!

    1. Whoops! Yes, your first comment got posted. So did your second....

  7. Wish we had Halloween here in Singapore too. Those were great pictures...a handsome couple!

    1. Aw, thanks, Michelle! They looked really cute together.

      You have TONS of interesting holidays in Singapore! Are there any that are similar?

  8. The cake story made me laugh but I loved how a preschool trip with no body fluid issues basically makes it a win! Very much agree there - but I suspect that has more to do with the stage of life I am in than anything else. And another reminder that we need to get out to a pumpkin patch over here!

    The homecoming photos are lovely - as are the dresses! It's funny - I sit on the Athletic Board for my university, so I get invited annually to the Varsity Sports Awards for the school. I remember going three years ago and thinking how awful most of the dresses were. While I think this is probably a sign that I am officially "past it", I also think the cuts and styles that year were just plain awful. But these dresses are lovely! So maybe I'm not past it (or style has thankfully moved on again...)

    Lovely post - enjoyed it!

    1. Every day with preschoolers with no bodily fluids is a win, rare though they may be! (Getting into the snot season - yay....)

      The dresses were all pretty. I've seen pictures of years previous when that wasn't true. All the girls seemed to opt for cupcake dresses, except for my daughter, who went as a slinky nightclub singer. At least she's built for it.

      Thank you so much for visiting!

  9. omg...the secret cake recipe...that is priceless! I'll have to try that one, sounds really good! pumpkin patch photos are precious! I understand very much how Lizzi can help from 4,000 miles away! She's my resident editor of all things bloggy and otherwise. I'm a bit of a ding dong and she's always pointing out my spellings errors....and there are a lot. I'm afraid I cause her much eye rolling, poor thing.
    Enjoyed all of it! Well done!

    1. My computer knowledge can be put on the head of a pin. I fly by the seat of my pants with this blog stuff, so if I run into something I can't figure out, it's Lizzi to the rescue!

    2. Beth, you make me sound like a right meanie!

      But I do what I can to help out - hopefully some of it is constructive and welcome :)

  10. The pumpkin patch kids were a trip. I haven't heard anyone want to be a train engineer for years! lol And the secret recipe ... ah, why divulge a specialty to those that do not know? Smart lady! That's your daughter? OMG, I hope your husband grilled her boyfriend with the third degree as I used to do my daughter's! lol Good post!

    1. When you're four, you still think being a train engineer is like it is in Thomas the Tank Engine.

      Everyone's assumption was that cake recipe was some big mystery. I guess no one ever asked her where she got it until I found it on the side of the box and asked.

      Yeah, my husband has said he has to see GPA and class rank before anyone takes her out. Which really isn't necessary, because she always says, "I hate stupid guys."

  11. hey you're on TV! (yeah, I guess you already knew that)... very cool thing to do though... (I watched will on the Brunch...'hey! there's Dyanne!
    fun to know famous people and such

    1. The problem with living in a small town is that it's pretty easy to be around when there are tv cameras. Avoid, avoid, avoid! Just a little trivia for you - the anchor who introduced the piece is a graduate of the preschool, and his mom works there was a teacher. See? Small town.

  12. Your #1 sounds so much like a line from "The Jerk". "The first day seemed like two days, Day 2 felt like it was 5 days, Day 3 was just a day..."
    Your preschoolers are so well-behaved! Looks like a gorgeous day for a field trip. We don't go on field trips with our preschoolers. Everything comes to us, including llamas.
    The attic situation sounds horrible. I would never put anything up there if I had to go through that nonsense.
    Your daughter is gorgeous.
    Your grandparents were a trip! I love the cake story.

    1. Aww, I reminded you of one of your favorite movies!

      Thank you! Nothing a teacher likes more than hearing her class is well-behaved! That was the day I had my primary kids there (the 3's). They are more like loose cannons, but they did very well.
      This is the only field trip the primary class goes on, because the parents have to transport them. We have two 15 passenger church vans that we used to use to take pre-k on trips, but when MO changed the seatbelt laws so that kids have to be in booster seats until they are, I think, 8 yrs. or 100 lbs., we had to stop taking them in the vans. So pre-k goes to the pumpkin patch and to two different children's plays at the local college, but the parents have to meet us there. Not as much fun. Anything else has to come to us (this week, fire trucks!).
      The attic thing sucks.
      Thank you!
      And it's really good cake!

  13. I literally LOL'd at the grandma's cake recipe post. In fact, Jak asked what the heck was so funny. My roommate and I get asked the same question about our cookies. It is the same recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse bag!

    Your daughter looked stunning, and I loved her dress. In fact, it was my favorite of all the girls in the photo. She must have her mother's beauty.

    1. That's great, Kate! Yes, just smile and act mysterious when someone asks you about the chocolate chip cookie recipe. It'll drive them crazy.

      And thank you so much! You are so very kind! Wanna know something cool (that I know you'll appreciate)? Found the dress at Ross Dress for Less for $23.

  14. Awww, you featured me in your blog....thanks again for going with me! And those muffins were really good! (We need to find out who made them). You're a great friend Dyanne! (Love the pumpkins and Emma looked gorgeous) By the way I'm feeling MAJOR pressure to decorate for fall and I'm just not that into it. Weird?

    Allison (the mammogram friend)

    1. Who knew getting a mammogram at the ass crack of dawn could be so much fun? Glad to be there for your inaugural flopping of the girls onto a steel plate!

  15. When I got married, my aunt made a cookbook for me that included copies of all of my (deceased) grandmother's recipes. I was so excited to finally try to make her chocolate chip cookies! When I got home, I pulled it out and flipped to the dessert section to find... A photocopy of the back of a Toll House chocolate chips bag.

    I wonder if our grandmothers were in the same sneaky club.

  16. When my kids were little, some friends and I had a cooperative preschool. I loved field trip days, but we were never on TV. How exciting!

    I don't like dragging things out of the attic, and that's with a pull-down ladder. We've had houses with attics similar to yours, though. What were the builders thinking?!

    1. When you live in a small town, it's not difficult to find yourself in a tv news spot. The trick is learning how to avoid finding yourself there. I was trapped this time!

      I wish I knew what the builder was thinking when he put the hole in the ceiling of my closet! Why would you make such a nice storage space with no access?

  17. Hmmmmm.....I can't wait to try that cake!!! Actually went running downstairs to see if I had all the ingredients. cake mix. :( Will be at the top of my grocery list for this week. :D

  18. With my crazy sleep schedule I am always mixing up my days. It can be annoying.

    I love your grandma story. I'm here at my grandma's and I shared that entry with her, and we both were cracking up... and she was like... "wait a second" and said she was going to call Pillsbury and ask about a recipe she got from the side of a box to make chocolate cherry bars. I read her the recipe you posted and said that sounded almost identical, which made the story even better!

    The mammogram story was also awesome! I'd be afraid hanging out with you lol

    Glad you were able to get all your holiday decorations down :) and that you and the kids had a great time at the pumpkin patch. Though, it is a shame the rump escaped viewing! Maybe next time ;)

    The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink