Tag Archives: thanksgiving

I Have Some Thank You’s To Share


There are some important people and groups to be grateful for today.  I received two contributions this week for my Spain trip.  I know how to reach Doug to thank him, but Donna, EF is very secure, so I have no way to contact you personally to say thank you for your help!  (Thank you for leaving a name!)  So, Doug/Donna – thank you so  very much for your kind words and support: both for my work and for my upcoming trip.

I can’t believe we leave in 98 days!!!  crochethook

If you are unfamiliar with the story about my wish to travel the world to study crochet hooks and the hands that hold them, please read my post: I Want To Travel The World And Meet Other Women Through Crochet!  (Again, not a pickup line.)  That post tells the back story of this crazy idea I have about making a documentary about crocheters around the world, about all the very different kinds of hooks on every continent in the world, and about the hands and stories of the women who own them.

It’s crazy!  And yet, I’ve never been outside the contiguous United States ever in my life.  Ever.  I’ve never even seen Alaska or Hawaii.

So I’m set up to go as a chaperone on my daughter’s AP Spanish trip to Spain.  However, because I’m not staff and because I’m not a student, I’m on my own for all fundraising.  So that’s where selling all my crochet and asking for help comes in, because I’m running out of time.

Thank you so much for the help guys!

I also want to take time to express gratitude for two young marines I know who will not get to spend Thanksgiving home with their family.  Instead of sitting back and relaxing after a hefty meal, they and many other US service people around the world  are working their butts off for us.

So here’s a shout out to all the soldiers, police officers, firemen, doctors and emergency personnel who are working today, keeping watch and being there should they be needed.  To all the people who respond to emergency situations, to the agencies that keep things running and the night watchmen who let us sleep, and to those who volunteer at the food kitchens and keep the roads and transportation open:

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


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Ergonomics In Crochet Hook Design And The Hands That Use Them

My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!

What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations

Crochet Hook Engineering – Types of Tools – Crochet Hook Challenge

Crochet Holding Positions For Hooks – A Tutorial

Did You Miss Out On This #Crochet Goodness?
(Twitter crochet chat from around the world!)

Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!


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Filed under 'Tis the Season, NaBloPoMo

Pumpkin Pie Secrets Plus A Gluten-Free Version


I love the Thanksgiving time of year.  We didn’t keep Christmas when I was a kid, so Thanksgiving was the one time each year that I got to spend with all my other family members, no matter what our religious beliefs at the time.  That one holiday was responsible for most of my memories of my cousins and uncles.  And it’s the one day a year we stop and purposely, as a family, as an example to our children and as a nation, take time to be grateful.  I know many don’t, but in our families, we take it very seriously.  Perhaps because our American family roots, both mine and hubby’s, on all four of our parents’ sides, goes back well over 225 years.

There were many food traditions in my family during the fall and winter seasons, but one absolute must tradition every year (besides turkey) was to have pumpkin pie.  Not sweet potato pie, not pecan pie (though that’s a must for my husband’s family) and not chocolate or apple or any other pie.  Though many of those pies were always present too.

But pumpkin pie…  This was a command performance every year.

If you don’t like pumpkin pie, then I’m going out on a limb and saying, it must be because the only kind you’ve tasted is store bought.  Which is nearly flavorless.  Pumpkin pie should have all the exquisite spices and in my opinion, that is mostly skimped on in commercially produced pies.  And if you think you don’t like homemade pumpkin pie, I’m guessing it was made by someone who didn’t have long pumpkin pie traditions in their family to know how it should taste.  Because pumpkin pie is an amazing custard dessert that easily doubles for a (mostly) nutritious breakfast, with coffee of course.  And those holiday scents don’t hold a candle to the real thing!

There are a couple secrets to how it should be made, of course.  And it doesn’t require growing your own pumpkin.  In some ways, I’d like to think that my family’s long and deep cooking traditions might have some influence on even me today.  They probably don’t, but it’s nice to think they might.

In either case, I do know that this is how my great-great grandmothers liked to make this pie.  They also liked to substitute sweet potatoes when pumpkin wasn’t available or was too expensive to get, but it’s not nearly as good.  Some people can’t tell the difference, but I most certainly can.

Trivia: Did you know that pumpkin custard was often baked not in a pie shell, but inside a pumpkin shell?  And let me tell ya, it’s not the easiest to move around!  (I helped my daughter make it once for a school project.)  Pie shells = way easier.  Pumpkin shells get soft and like to collapse.

Julia's Pumpkin Pie

This is one of my pies, after cutting into it to make sure the custard had set just right. See how dark the orange color is?

1)  Don’t use white sugar.  In fact, I don’t use light brown sugar either.  I use dark brown sugar.  Yep, get the flavorful stuff.  And if you don’t have dark brown sugar, you can try substituting 1/4 cup molasses + 1 cup white sugar for each cup of dark brown sugar you need.  (Mix it well.)

Pumpkin pie should not be a light color.  It should look like a burnt pumpkin color thanks to all the flavor inside!

2)  Pumpkin pie spices should include not only more than a dash of cinnamon, but also cloves, ginger and nutmeg.  And sometimes a smidgen of allspice.  If you have it.

Those two rules right there will go far in making your pie better than anything else you’ve had – providing of course, that you don’t have similar family recipes and already know what I’m talking about!  Time and again, people are amazed how much they do like pumpkin pie when they try mine.  I currently hold about a 90% win-over rate.

Want to take a stab at a delicious pumpkin pie?

Pumpkin Pie:

2 deep-dish pie crusts (homemade is always tastier)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (larger the yolks, the better)
1 15oz can solid pack pumpkin
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (or sub 1/4 cup molasses + 1 cup white sugar, mix very well)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (Watkins is the best brand)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves (no more – or it will over power the recipe)
2 dashes of nutmeg
1 dash of allspice (optional)
1 12oz can undiluted evaporated milk (or a 1 1/2 c. half & half)

Prepare pie crust dough according to recipe or package directions.  Mix filling ingredients in order of listing above. Pour into pie crusts.  Bake in preheated 425˚F oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350˚F. Bake additional 45-55 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool before serving.

Note:  When using a metal or foil pan, bake your pies on a cookie sheet.

Want to make this pumpkin pie gluten-free? 

You can bake it like a crème brûlée custard!  Ditch the pie shell and instead pour your mix into greased oven-proof ramekins or custard cups.  Line a 9×13″ pan with a towel, carefully keeping all edges of the towel inside the pan.  Place the custard cups inside the pan on the towel, then pour hot water around the custard cups and saturate the towel.  (I use a teapot.)  You want the water to come half-way up the side of the cups.  Bake, uncovered, at 350° for the first 20 minutes.  At this point, if you want to add a topping like pecans or streusel, this is the time to add it.  Then bake it another 30-40 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Total cook time this way is 50-60 minutes (or until knife comes out clean).

And there you go. Pumpkin pie heaven!  crochethook

Happy Thanksgiving preparation day, everyone!  If you try my recipe, you must be sure to let me know!

PS  :)  You may share my recipe as long as you include my name (Julia M. Chambers) and a link to this post on my blog. Thanks!  :)

Go ahead and click a link below to pin or share this post. You know you want to! : )


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When Dreams Are More – A Story About Gratitude – NaBloPoMo


It’s the month of November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  The month we supposedly deeply feel, express and show gratitude in all its forms.  And yet, right out of the gates, I have felt like complaining this first week.  I’ve read things that have gotten under my skin, been irritated with tasks I’ve been volunteered for (ahem, voluntold for), there are things I want to get done and haven’t been able to, and there’s my struggling to be and do everything, everywhere, all at once.  Plus there are very real and unfair things taking place at this time in my life.  Things I can’t control and just have to deal with or ignore.  If anyone has a right to complain just a little, it’s me.

And yet there are blessings too.  And there are times I think, when the only way to deal with things is to shift our state and be reminded of our blessings.

And so I often find inspiration comes in unusual forms in my life, if I’ll just but listen.

I am a dreamer.  It is part of who I am.  I have always dreamed dreams of significance.  As such, it is really interesting sometimes the things that come out as wonderful experiences and lessons that often only the dream world can provide.  I keep saying I’ll write a book about my dreams.  Maybe someday.

One night I had an opportunity to reflect within during my sleep.  There were all sorts of things dreaming through my head that night, but at one point, I suddenly became aware of a single state of being – Gratitude.

In my dream, all the people of my childhood began to flow before my eyes, like a river of stories.  But they weren’t the major figures that are easy to look back upon and remember.  The people I was reminded of were those who played small but important roles, whether I was aware of them as a child or not.  Some of them had faces and others, I did not know them, but I was shown stories of the roles they played that at some point made way into my life.

The grade school principal who I rarely saw or was aware of, but who depended heavily upon my mother as PTA president, the parent volunteers who put together the carnival I bought my first jewelry at, the mother who part-time coached my basketball and volleyball team one year, the grandmother from church who rode the bus with my brother to make sure he got to basketball tournaments without mishap, the friends of my parents who were great about supporting their role as parents and sometimes took us kids to give them a break, the lady at the concession stand who always had a smile, the mothers who volunteered to cook in that hot cabin kitchen at summer camp whose faces I can’t even see, the teenagers who listened to my stories as a kid, the girl who taught me to make mud pies.  And there were so many more.  Such small and even tiny events in my life throughout my childhood and then on into my adulthood.

So many people who had indirect and yet important positive influence upon my life.  And it was time for every one of them to be told “Thank You.”  Thank you for who you were then and who you are now.  Thank you for the small roles you have played, even if you didn’t think it mattered or anyone noticed.  Thank you for doing things the best you could or stepping out to do a small thing that had a trickle down effect upon the Soul that I AM.  Thank you for taking the time to Smile and to Listen.  Thank you for believing in me even when I didn’t know you.  Thank you for playing chase with a couple of bored kids stuck at an adult gathering. Thank you for loving my parents and believing that their job was important enough to support, even when you did not have children of your own.  Thank you for judging and encouraging me at the science fair. Thank you for sending my teacher that info on volunteer opportunities for young kids. Thank you for taking the time at the grocery store to tell me that a bag of apples can help you make a long drive better than gallons of coffee.  It’s saved me time and again!

Yes – those carnivals you slaved over meant something and positively affected us as kids.  Yes, taking the time to laugh at our jokes and look at our creations made a difference.  Yes, that piggyback ride at the church picnic made for a positive reference point in my sense of community. Yes, that handful of change you gave me at the store, when you didn’t even know me, touched my heart. Yes, that heart-felt talk you had at the city council meeting changed my life for the better, even if you weren’t sure what you were going to say or who would agree with you.

Your insecurities don’t matter.  What does matter is what you did in spite of them and I thank you.

Thank you for the sense of community you fostered and gave me as an internal foundation to return to time and time again.  You have been a great teacher to me, even if you don’t remember me and we pass unknowingly on the street today.

We have connected, you and I.  And I am so very grateful!

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Life Has Taught Me That All Too Often You’re Better Off On Your Own


People let you down.  Teams, bosses and employees let you down.  Friends make promises they don’t keep.  Family members have insane expectations.  Colleagues take advantage of you and your work.  Leaders pretend to be people they aren’t.  Managers abuse their power.  Religious people prove to be hypocrites.  Atheists and politicians too.  Armchair warriors who can’t help but to give out a cyber punch/ jab/ pinch.  Like an abuser, justify it with “They deserved it.”  The people with those handicapped tags that aren’t really disabled and who cut you off in a parking lot so they can swoop quickly into that front row parking space before you pass it.  I’ve been cut off in parking lots by more people with temporary handicap tags lately than ever.  Wtf?

People who pretend to be experts at something they are not.  Receivers with no sense of gratitude or conscience.  And the guilty who take their guilt out on others when they fail.

And it generally boils down to a selfishness at heart.  A general disregard for a fellow human being.  The one right next to you, not the stranger from another culture you’re trying to impress.

It’s kind of like how family all too often treat each other worse than they would a stranger.  Biting the hands that feed and nurture them. Devolving into a vicious cycle of dysfunctional relationship and communication to rule the rest.  And now days, a couple of conversations online makes you familiar enough to take a punch, familiar enough to receive judgement and be devoid of rights to safety. Familiar enough to be disliked or hated, never having met face to face. And based solely on a paragraph or two.  I feel like a bit of my soul bruises every time I hear someone talk about how they hate someone else.

Have people disappointed me lately?  You bet.  People with enough life and professional experience to know better.  People who’ve received enough kindness too.  People who should know the value of a team, of a cause, of a single person or an act of selflessness.  How a betrayal of trust ruins it for all.  And how gratitude always wins.

Has it been everyone?  No. Not by a long shot.  But enough repeats to get to me.  I know better than most how tough life can be, so as patient and laid back as I can be, it takes a while to build up.  I wrote the emotionally charged title on purpose.  Because I know it speaks to the feelings of a lot of people lately.

This Thanksgiving, of all times, let’s think about this.  And not just football.  Take accounting, of ourselves, of the relationships we allow in our lives, of the examples we allow our children to see.  Recognize reality for what it is.  Take responsibility for ourselves, because others are not as invested.  Demonstrate patience and tenderness with others, because we know what pain is.  And savor the gems in our lives, rarer today than ever.

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