Thursday, October 31, 2013

A very, very, happy Halloween ...

Marlene Terry
Well it's here ... Halloween, the first big celebration of the holiday season.

I really wanted to write about something special today. Something haunting, scary and memorable and in sync with the time of the year.
However, every time I think back of favorite Halloween memories, it's those years our family made and ran our very own spook alley that come to mind.

We lived way out in the country. And the thought of sending our children out into the dark with others we didn't know that well wasn't that comforting. So we decided to make our own fun.

... And believe me when I say, fun is an understatement, what with every child performing their own special part with vigor. And of course, there was a mishap or two.

... Like the night that our son, Mike .... well, suffice it to say Mike was usually our "Mummy."
It was his job to suddenly appear from the trees along the driveway, moaning and stiff-legged, while he drug his ancient bandages along with him through the dirt and motioned to the quaking, scared-to-death kids to follow him in order to receive their treats.

Wrapped in about two miles of cotton strips ... realism was important to us ... the job wasn't as easy as it sounds.
The mummy had trouble seeing at times with just a thin slit available to look through. He also couldn't scratch his nose with his heavily bandaged fingers, and a shift in a wrapping or two below the waist, made his walking a lot more stiff-legged than usual.

It was one, cold, misty Halloween night when Mike (the mummy) with a large group of trick-or-treaters in tow, approached the porch, and proceeded to open the CR-EEEE-AKING door for entrance into our Inner Sanctum.

The doorknob rattled a bit, and we, the spooks, vampires, witches and monsters, waited inside with bated breathe. ... Nothing happened.
Another rattle and the sound of commotion. ... And was that laughter coming from outside on the porch?
... The door was still shut tight.

Everything became very quiet as we waited and wondered why the mummy was taking so long to do his thing and open the  door so WE COULD DO OURS!

... And then ... 'DING DONG," the doorbell rang.

... Pretty hard to place terror into the hearts of little trick-or-treaters along with their parents and/or escorts who at that time were laughing so hard they could hardly breath.

... And the mummy?

...  He went skulking off into the bushes, where he removed a bandage or two from his door-opening hand!

... Hope everyone has that kind of Halloween this year ... very, very, happy indeed!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Satisfied/saturated ...

Marlene Terry
I laughed and laughed when I happened onto that little video I'm sharing today ... the one of the cute little girl and her reaction to an uncontrollable sneeze that happened too close for comfort.
... The expressions on her face are priceless and adorable because she's a LITTLE GIRL after all. ... And the person responsible for the sneeze? A LITTLE BOY!

Funny how we accept and forgive actions of children in our lives. But a mature grown woman? That's a whole different story.
The fact is a few days ago I watched with horror as some similar expressions appeared on the face of a customer.

OK. I'm sure by now you've guessed that the perpetrator was yours truly, who, nearly recovered and at the end of a bad cold, was suddenly beset on with one of my famous coughing spells.
... You know the kind. Everything is blissful and suddenly you feel it ... that little tickle deep down in your throat.
The pressure begins to grow and you try to act as if nothing is wrong. You press your lips tightly together in order to suppress that nasty hack from escaping. ... And then it happens ... KABOOM! 
... In addition, all that suppression churns up remnants of whatever you had in your mouth at the time, which is also propelled outward.

... I want you to know that I really was trying to hide out from everyone — especially customers. 

But those who needing help and not wanting to stand in the long lines at customer service, will happily search out any employee who doesn't seem to be busy, no matter what. ... Even if that employee is standing at a closet, door open with her head inside and her back toward the crowd, gyrating in time to a violent coughing, sneezing, gagging, attack.

"Excuse me," a deep male voice said from behind me.

"Hack, gag, hack," I responded.

"I need help to order a special foot for my wife's sewing machine," he continued, completely oblivious to my state of being . "You guys really need to keep a bigger selection on hand." 
Luckily the urge to cough out my guts, seemed to subside for a moment.
I took a deep breath and turned around — tears and other stuff, I'm embarrassed to say, running amuck down my face. 
... Thank goodness I still had part of a tissue that had survived the attack.

He, the customer continued his criticism as I filled out the paperwork for the order. And we were nearly done when he added what I'm sure he thought was a comic relief when a polite lady, seeing that I WAS busy, asked me if anyone else was available to answer a question.

"Try the closet," he said chuckling. "That's where I found her."

That's when it happened. ... that little tickle, deep down in my throat. 
... And I almost made it too.
Keeping my lips pressed tightly together, I finished up the transaction as I listened to the customer's continuing suggestions on how we should run the store. 
.... And just as I was about to thank him for the sale ... KABOOM!

... Needless to say I returned to the closet. 

... And the customer?

... He left the store ... not completely satisfied, but for sure ... completely saturated!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's the thought that counts ... sometimes ...

Marlene Terry
Never, never do anything when you’re too tired or busy to make sure it’s done right.
Those are the times when absolutely nothing you try turns out the way it’s supposed to, and the phrase “It’s the thought that counts,” ends up being sort of a slap in the face to the recipient of your efforts.

Everyone knows that the thought really only counts, when those you serve can tell that something very sweet was intended, that much effort went into the project  and … this is the most important part … the results are at least RECOGNIZABLE!

That’s when comments like “I love that you tried so hard,” and “It isn’t that bad,” really are sincere. And you can be sure that what you tried to do, although not perfect, is acceptable and prized.

There's also another phrase that bears repeating. “Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed!” And  that’s  exactly where I should have stayed instead of trying to produce one of my usually, very good banana cream pies for a friend of mine who’d been ailing.

My schedule had been so hectic during the week I couldn’t find the time to get to the hospital to see her. So when I heard that she was coming home, I was determined to make up for my absence.

... And although it'd been a while since I’d produced the pie that I used to be semi-famous for, I was sure it would be just like riding a bike.
…You know. Get back up on it, everything you used to know will come back in an instant and off you go. … Right?

Things really did start out normally. I crushed the Graham Crackers, added the butter and sugar and popped the crust into the oven to bake. ... And the fact that because some of the crumbs fell out through the hole in the bag, making the crust a little small, wasn’t that big of a deal.
However, the fact that I left it baking in the oven a tad too long … OK. It was over an hour too long ... was a big deal. 

... "It's going to be a bit crunchy," I thought looking at the well-done results.
"No matter though. The filling will cover it up." 
I’m not going to bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my recipe, when the ingredients are mixed at a fast speed and long enough, produces the most lovely, fluffy, delicious-tasting vanilla filling ever. Then all that’s left to do is add the cut-up bananas, place it in the crust and cover the whole thing with as much sweetened whipped cream as possible.

… And it would have happened just that way had the towel I carefully placed over the top of my mixer, in order to keep the filling from flipping out onto the walls, windows, cabinets and floor of my kitchen, stayed in place as it should have.

... I swear I only turned my back for an instant. But is was after midnight before I could unwind the towel that had somehow found its way inside, around and stuck within the loops of the mixer's whisk attachment. ... Plus the time it took to scrub off the filling from the walls ... windows ... cabinets ... etc., etc.

... Maybe someday I’ll take the time necessary and make that pie for my friend again ... Or ... on second thought … maybe not!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Monday, October 28, 2013

High Protein? ...

Marlene Terry
Happened on to High Protein Foods site on Facebook the other day and found it to be absolutely filled with great looking ... as well I'm sure great tasting, healthy recipes.
I was immediately drawn to a unique way to make and enjoy caramel apples.

"Perfect idea for Halloween," I thought, or an anytime fall/winter treat.

Try as I might though, I couldn't fathom how in the world this dish would be considered high protein.

OK. We all know the apple is the healthy part. But I have to admit I was a little uncomfortable promoting that wonderful, chewy caramel, although it's no secret that taste is one of my favorites.

However I eventually DID let go of my doubts and decided to share the instructions.

The fact that I happily agreed 100 percent, with one of the responses that followed the recipe, made it easy!

"It's a good way to get portion control," was the comment.
... Aah! A rational answer to my question. And a reason to go ahead and enjoy this neat treat ... ... in moderation of course!

Following are the 'how to' instructions as they appeared on Facebook. 

"Do u love caramel apples but hate trying to eat them? Try it this way! Hollow out your apples, Balance the apple halves in a muffin pan) and fill them with melted caramel. Allow the caramel to set and cut into slices! 

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Guided ...

Marlene Terry
Do you believe there are times when without much effort on our part, a higher power guides us into a place where we can perform His miracles?

I do!

It was just an average night at work not that long ago. 
I'd left home hours earlier, a short shift ahead of me.
I really hadn't seen the need to take along anything but my driver's license, since there wasn't any time-off scheduled for lunch or a break. 
But for some reason, I was prompted to open my wallet, take out the $20 bill inside and shove it into my pocket.

Things were slow all night with just a few customers roaming the aisles now and then. And with just minutes left until closing I began the cleanup and putting-away process.

That's when I saw her ... a young woman walking toward me, one of the cashiers walking with her. 

"Where would we find bobbin cases for Singer sewing machines?" The cashier asked.
... The question confused me. As far as I knew, we'd never had parts readily available for any brand of sewing machine. ... And I told her so.

"But they," speaking of a clerk in another store she'd visited, "called here last night and someone said you would have a bobbin case for my machine," the young woman replied as she fought back the tears welling up in her eyes.

My heart immediately went out to her as I noticed how she was dressed. She was clean and well kept. But her attire was also well used. No doubt. She probably didn't have the means to do much.

She continued her story, telling me that she'd been almost finished with her child's Halloween costume, when one of those "PLEASE, not now" mishaps occurred.
For whatever reason, she said smiling to try and lighten the mood, the needle had entered her machine at a bad angle, continued on to hit the bobbin case, and broke that little plastic part to smithereens.

"Just my luck," she said.
"I've been everywhere. And the only place I could find the part I need, they wanted $14 for it. 
"I only have $11," she opened her wallet to show me, "and I need to buy another needle too."

I quickly opened the drawer by the cash register and retrieved a card from a reputable sewing machine repairman, who I knew was reasonable and also having many parts on hand.
We called. ... His price was the same ... and he'd have to order it.

The young woman's face dropped at the news. And my mind raced to think of another solution. Turning away from her for a moment, I placed my hands in my pockets and felt the $20 bill.

... She was stunned when I handed her the money and suggested, wide-eyed and enthusiastically, that she HURRY back to the place she'd found the part, PAY for it and then RETURN HOME to finish her project.

"I can't take it," she said choking on her words as tears streamed down her face. "You don't have to do that. I'll do something else!"

After much time and convincing she finally relented. And with thanks and a big hug for me, she took the money and turned to leave.

"You need to know," she called back to me, "I prayed for help before I left home."

... As I said. There are times when we are all, for sure ... guided.

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A spooky story ...

Because of the time of the year it is, I've decided to share a spooky story.

I'm sure many have already heard at least one version of this tale. But after I became aware of the story, sent to me years ago by the office of a then state senator, it's become my favorite.

Following is the version I like the most. There's also a very interesting video to watch that adds even more details to what we've heard about DC the Demon Cat.

... Enjoy!

Demon Cat (or D.C.) is the name given to the ghost of a cat which is purported to haunt the government buildings of Washington D.C.

The story of the Demon Cat dates back to the days when cats were brought into the basement tunnels of the Capitol buildings to kill rats. Legend states that the Demon Cat is one who never left.

Its home is supposedly the basement crypt of the Capitol which was originally intended as a burial chamber for President George Washington.

According to legend, the cat is seen before presidential elections and tragedies in Washington DC, allegedly being spotted by White House security guards on the nights before the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

The cat is described as being black and the size of an average house cat; but witnesses report that the cat swells to "the size of a giant tiger,"  about 10 feet by 10 feet, when alerted.
The cat then either explodes or pounces at the witness, and disappears.
In the 1890s the cat is said to have inexplicably vanished when some Capitol Hill guards fired at it, and another guard supposedly died of a heart attack after seeing it. 

... As I said ... SPOOKY!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"I think I can" ...

Marlene Terry
We're enjoying the last warm days of this year, with a hard frost ahead in the near future. 
That's why I’m prompted to devote a little time and space to the lovely little purple daisies that line the front walk way at my home.

Don’t know the official name for those little flowers, but I never walk outside to the front or drive out of my garage that the sight of them just doesn’t make me happy.

However, they ARE annuals.

That means when that hard frost does come, they’ll be history!  As in the blossoms and the plant itself will die completely away and not return next spring.

The biggest problem with that is they truly do deserve to return, as they struggled all summer in scorching 100-degree heat, and braved wicked and destructive wind and hailstorms. 
… In fact, I actually thought, a time or two, they just wouldn’t survive. And if the truth be known, all that stress made them well, unattractive, to say the least. 

The earwigs also found them and were enjoying the leaves for lunch most days, leaving only large gaping holes surrounded by a green membrane as a remembrance of what was once there.
... And some cute little neighbor kids who held an invitational tag meet with friends one night, tromped most of what was left of the plants down into the ground about as far as they could go.

It was really like a miracle. 
After the heat subsided and we were thrown immediately into fall a few weeks ago, the cooler temperatures seemed to refresh those little plants and surprisingly they began to grow … and at an accelerated pace!

One day they were just wilted, ragged looking, green stringy vegetation. And then suddenly there were buds. … Then a few purple blooms appeared. 

And now?

... We’re just in awe of those gorgeous large lavender blooming bushes that as I said, make you happy just  to look at them.

It was as if they realized their time was running out to be able to show how wonderful they were and what they could do. And so they put out a supreme effort to make sure they wouldn't be forgotten. 

... Sort of like the lessons we learn in that children's tale "The Little Engine that Could."
...  Face every challenge determined to work hard and with the attitude “I think I can. … And eventually and for sure ... we will!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hollow Weenie ...

Marlene Terry
Getting close to All Hallows Eve, Halloween, or as a friend's little girl recently said it was,"Hollow Weenie."

The name came, her mother said from her daughter's first experience with Cheetos Puffs. You know. Those orange (as in the color not the taste), light and puffed up, cheese flavored snack treats.
Someone had passed out mini bags as Trick-or-Treats last year. And because the Cheetos were of the same shape as wieners, and also seemingly filled with nothing much but air, or were "hollow," ... well you can see why the name stuck.

During that same conversation Ellie also told me what her Jack-o-lantern will look like this year and told me plenty about her big brothers' plans, as well.

"They," she said speaking of her brothers' intended creations, "are MONSTERS." She emphasized that last word in a low husky tone along with some pretty scary facial contortions.
"Mine," she continued as she reverted back to her sweet angel face, "is a kitty!
... Ahh!

Now Jack-o-lanterns are something I can really relate too. As I told you before, we're planning a pumpkin-carving party of our own. It's this weekend as a matter of fact. 
Our kids who live nearby, grandchildren, neighbors and friends are all invited. 
Especially fun this year, will be the participation of two of our 'out of town' sons who are planning to be here. 

... Contrary to what they might tell you, the adults in our bunch, secretly look forward to pumpkin carving as much or more than the little ones. ... What with the smell of freshly baked cornbread and chili greeting them, spooky sounds reverberating through the house and especially the garage. It's the place that for one night each year, becomes a misty, candle-flickering, carving, (say the next word like Vincent Price) LA-BOR-A-TORY! (Evil laugh follows)!

Just recently I happened on some really great and easy design ideas for carved pumpkins in one of my favorite magazines, Woman's Day ( And I can't resist sharing a few.

...But if you stop by my home on Oct. 31 and notice a very familiar looking clever "mummy" Jack-o-lantern peering out from under the bushes? ... I promise. ... The design REALLY IS all mine! 
... RIGHT!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Monday, October 21, 2013

What about the fishes? ...

Marlene Terry
Kids look at life in such an amazing way. They're faithful, loyal and quick to believe what you, as an adult, tell them as long as it seems right. And if it doesn't seem right they are even more prompt to question it. That's when you're treated to their straight-forward, 'tell it like it is, 'reasoning.

Take the time I filled in as a Sunday School teacher for a bunch of 5-year-olds.

Heaven knows I love to tell a good story, especially when kids are the audience. I also enjoy complimenting the tale with sound effects when possible, loud exclamations and drama ... plenty of it.

That's why the subject matter that day "Noah and the Ark," was especially enticing.

I set the stage, as I explained the plight of Noah who didn't live anywhere near an ocean or sea. He was doing what Heavenly Father told him to do, building a huge boat ... many cubits long ... on dry land and telling everyone, who by the way were making fun of him and laughing at his attempts, that the end was near. 
... I really did expect questions about the cubits, but surprisingly none came. 

... Then there was the THUNDER! ... A sheet of thin metal rippled back and forth provided the sound. LIGHTNING flashed! ... Flipping the light switch on and off rapidly did that job. ... And the RAIN?
With their eyes shut tight as I instructed,  the kids listened to the storm and felt the raindrops falling, not from the sky as we were inside after all, but from a filled-to-the-brim Super Soaker squirt gun.

You should have seen their faces. Wrinkled brows denoting worry and concern, hands over their mouths ... to keep from screaming, of course, and there was a quietness you rarely experience with 5-year-olds. You literally, could have heard a pin drop. ... No doubt about it. I had their attention and the point of the story was understood.

Suffice it to say things were going well and as I hoped when I reach the story's very sad ending. You know. The part when the WHOLE WORLD is covered with water and every animal and person on it, except for those inside Noah's Ark are DROWNED.

We took a moment to reflect on that tragic scene and then one very thoughtful little boy raised his hand to make a comment.
"Teacher?" He said setting a respectful tone for his question. 
"What about the fishes?"

... As I said ... straight forward, 'tell it like it is,' reasoning.

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Happy Ending ...

Marlene Terry
How many people do you think, can comfortably stash themselves inside a normal size store on any given Saturday?
Normally, weekends are busy in the retail world, but one recent weekend? ... Unbelievable!

I should have expected it. But I'd forgotten how the time of the year and especially the WEATHER, can turn a normal day into a nightmare.

It started on Monday a few weeks ago and persisted almost every day that week — the wind, rain, and the colder than normal temperatures. ... And being October with outside chores fading fast, it was bound to happen.

When I worked in retail years ago, we had a name for it — the "Holiday Syndrome."
We'd wake up in October to an early fall snowstorm, head to work, enter the store through the back entrance and be greeted by literally hundreds of lined-up, anxious, shoppers, who'd suddenly realized the holidays were on the horizon and .. with coupons in hand ... could hardly wait for the doors to open.

For the first few hours everyone was happy, patient and friendly. But after the crowds increased (to about a million it seemed), and the lines became increasingly longer... well … suffice it to say that wonderful holiday spirit changed slightly.

I was the only one in my department for the first eight hours on that aforementioned Saturday. And with many out-of- normal needs that took me forever to complete, folks rapidly began to shift from one leg to the other. … Or they were showing signs of irritation that I COULDN'T MOVE FASTER AND BE IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE AT A TIME.
... Yep. It really put a damper on that cheery, festive atmosphere.

"Did everyone quit but you?" More than one asked.
"Is this going to take much longer? I left my kids in the car," another impatient, harried lady commented when the incessant horn-honking coming from out in the parking lot became more and more noticeable.

That's when the thought came to mind that if this had been a scene in one of those olden-day Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movies, all of us would have suddenly started humming, and clicking our fingers as we swayed to the beat of that honking horn.

Then wonderful music coming from unseen instruments would increase in volume and I, being the star… or in this case, the only one working ... would have jumped onto  the display tables where the newest models of very expensive sewing machines were displayed. Then, without missing a beat, I would have tap-danced my way through and over the top of each one. 

... And those who complained the most?

They would have also sprung into action being suddenly moved upon to help out and be team players.

… And you guessed it. … Right after they … still in sync… shuffled over to the cash register, they would have magically moved along every remaining unhappy customer, checked them out, waved goodbye and had them on their way home in an instant.

… And if that doesn't qualify as a Happy Ending, I don't know what would!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just plain wonderful ...

Marlene Terry
Just a few days ago we all returned home from our, first in five years, "Girls Only Weekend."
We planned it for months, the get-together that included me, my daughters, one adopted daughter, as in we all claim her as ours, and two granddaughters.

Traveling from our homes scattered throughout the Northwest, we finally met up in two carloads at Tremonton, Utah, and proceeded on together to Salt Lake City — our destination.

And I just have to say ... the weekend was just plain wonderful, as we reminisced, caught up and giggled our way through a plethora of activities that included "Frightmares" with tons of very convincing zombies at the Lagoon Amusement Park, impromptu meals and snacks, shopping, getting turned around on the freeway more than once, and some pretty hilarious happenings at a "Witches Night Out" celebration.

Not a scary or sinister event at all, that last one included a "cackling contest" with two of my girls participating.
They were BOTH great in their attempts. So great in fact, that at the end I rated them No. 1 and No. 2 of the entire bunch. ... But trust me. I'm never, ever going to say which one I thought took the top spot.

It was also refreshing to watch as hundreds of other, dressed to the nines, "mom witches" along with their daughters, granddaughters and even a few generational groups with great-grandbaby witches in tow, arrived happy and anxious just to enjoy some time together. ... All of them behaving in uncharacteristic ways ... for witches, that is.

Take the expressions of love, for instance. It seemed imperative to the older of the groups, that the younger bunch not only have fun, but were praised, watched over, and received enough hugs to make them feel warm and happy. And that gesture was given back  in kind.
... Come to think of it , that's pretty much what was happening to us too!

Yep. There's no doubt about it. The sights and sounds of this past weekend will be a favorite memory for all of us, and a reason that down the road aways, we're going to feel the need to do it again!

You know, experience another one of those times ... when you finally give in and loosen the ties you have to the world, let go of pride, forget petty differences, look deeply into the eyes of those you've loved for a lifetime ... and remember why.

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's your favorite recipe? ...

Marlene Terry
Hoping to see some of those wonderful Jack-o-lantern photos of yours, and hearing the stories that go along with them.
Or do you have some pumpkin carving tips we'd all be better off knowing about?
I personally would like to know an easy, clean way of taking the insides out of the pumpkin. That stuff is so slimy and icky, there are times I'd just rather not bother.
Send your photos, stories, tips and ideas to, so we can share them with everyone.

... Thanks to Betty who did send me a link ( to look at for ideas for Jack-o-lanterns.
... It's fabulous by the way. And I especially love the one that's upchucking! (See photo). 

... Come to think of it, that's a great idea for removing the insides of a pumpkin just part of the way at least. 
... It's also reminiscent of how I feel the day AFTER Halloween. ... I can never seem to control the urge to pig out on those Trick-or-Treat treats ... especially those tiny Almond Joy candy bars. ... BARF, BARF, BARF!

My point is, it really doesn't matter what age we are. This time of the year is fun ... if we make it that way.

Remember the smell of burning leaves? ... It was a favorite part of fall for me during my growing up years. And then there are those special comfort foods that begin to appear about now and last through the winter. 
... We'd also like to feature your favorite cool weather recipes along with the stories of where they came from and why they're your favorites.

Did your mom make a special treat that you'll never forget? What recipes were handed down from extended family members?  ... Those that are still part of every holiday feast. 

It never fails, whenever I think of favorite family recipes, that my mother's aebleskivers (tiny Danish pancakes) and especially her pickled beets come to mind
Actually the beets were a tradition in my family and my sisters' families for years. And there's a funny story about how none of us could ever hold on to that recipe. I'll share her recipe and the other details along with YOURS ... that is if you'll send them to me.

One last note: I did receive one photo with no explanation of any kind for a really fun ... and easy Halloween treat. 
For each one, you'll need a Tootsie Pop, black pipe cleaners and glue-on googly eyes.
I guess there was no explanation included because it 's obvious how that friendly Black Widow Spider (pictured) was created. ... All of it by ambitious treater (as in the one who hands out candy to the kids on Halloween) who really wanted to add "the look of delight" to the faces of those little ghosts and goblins who'll soon come knocking at our doors.

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Leaf blower functions ...

Marlene Terry
I'm going to say it one more time at least. I absolutely love this time of the year. Even the raking, trimming, sorting, and composting isn't that bad if you go about it with the "right attitude."
Not the one that says, "Oh brother this is going to be a lot of work," ... drudgery, drudgery, drudgery, but the attitude that with a lot of enthusiasm added, produces thoughts that make it hard to wait until you can get our there and wallow in it all!

I will admit however, those particular tasks are  probably enjoyed more by those who, being so young, don't notice the cold, or the aching joints that happen after hours of fall cleanup.

... Take my little grandson for instance. He'll gladly help and spend more than just a few minutes of concentrated effort if it means that at the end, when the leaves are all piled together, he'll be allowed to jump into the middle of it, and scatter to his heart's content.

... Of course that means you'll have to clean it up again. But it's always worth it.

Last year we also enjoyed what Nana's new, little woman-size leaf blower could do. It was light enough for him to handle and his curiosity and determination to have fun set the example.

In case you didn't know, a leaf blower is the machine that emits a wind powerful enough to blow leaves and lawn clippings into a centralized pile. ...
One more option is to reverse the air stream which creates a vacuum-like suction that picks up leaves from the lawn and contains them in an attached bag. 

... Now here is where that aforementioned "right attitude" changes things. 
With leaves being sucked into that bag, throw a big blanket over it AND you (like a cape) and pretty soon you'll be the scary Hunchback of Notre Dame, to the delight of all those watching!
... Or you can suck in your cheeks (or the cheeks of anyone else you can catch) and create big red circles that remain in place ... sometimes for days
... Or blow your hair into oblivion, straight up and spiked. 
... Or chase your family members around the lawn, while everyone  screams in terror and/or delight.
... Or (of the bunch this is may favorite), you can place the end where the wind comes out as close to your mouth as possible. 
... Remember it really isn't a good idea to try and put it INSIDE your mouth. But being as close to it as possible will not only clean off anything you might have stuck on your teeth at the moment, the sight of what happens is going to make you laugh so hard you'll cry!

... Warning: Do not try this if you wear dentures!

... Yep! Fall cleanup will be here before we know it. ... And I CAN'T WAIT!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rest from our labors ...

Marlene Terry
Uh, oh. There they are. Can you see them? Those red leaves in my maple tree. Those that I see every day through the window of my writing room.
In a few days there will be many more, and after that?

Well most of us are acquainted with what that means. It's a lot like spring except different.
In April we emerge from our homes to prepare our grounds for the summer ahead and for growing things.
Fall eventually sees us outside too, and in about the same weather conditions. Except then, we're CLEANING UP the remnants of what we grew and are preparing the grounds for the winter ahead as well as my favorite perk ... "resting from our labors."

I'm sure you know by now that I truly love the colors of fall and all the fun that the changing seasons bring. ... I just wish that raking up all those leaves wasn't so time consuming, messy, and labor intensive.

I mean, why can't those leaves fall just one giant bag at a time? 
I'm pretty sure I could handle that. 
But at my house at least, the moment I have the yard cleaned up and looking good, a night wind arrives and secretly deposits, amid branches and garbage, about a million leaves. 
... And they're everywhere ... at the edges and corners of the lawn and packed tight under the fence making it impossible to reach them with a rake. The rain gutters will also be filled to the brim. .. And how in the world do you remove leaves STUCK under the shingles on the roof of all places?

Despite my worries and complaints, I'm pretty certain we'll make it through again this year. But I DO wish I could think of an easier way to do things. That is in addition to leaf blowers, adjusting the lawn mower really high in order to suck the leaves up, and RAKING, RAKING ... and RAKING!

In the past I've had my moments, figuring out solutions to most challenges ... especially when the effort helped to alleviate some of the time spent on a task.
... Like years ago when we had a big garden and an even bigger orchard. 
It was a fun experience at first. You know ... when all those fruit trees were small and growing.
Later, when they all began to produce fruit, it became a full-time job for the whole family to keep the orchard weed-free, sprayed, and most of all, PICKED.

That's when I came up with a unique way to harvest the pie cherries. 
I would pay a penny to each of our kids and their friends ... if they could talk them into it, for every cherry they picked off the trees while still leaving the pit hanging there on the stem!

... Don't laugh. It worked great. ... And except for the sticky arms that happened from the juice migrating from fingers to hands, to arms and beyond, it also saved a ton of time. 

... Absolutely no pitting necessary for the canning process!
♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at