Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Cashew Caramel Corn–To Die For

Robyn Venable asked me to share my recipe for caramel corn, one of my favorite autumn things. I didn’t share it with anyone for a long time, because it was the only thing I could make better than anyone else.

Besides, it wasn’t MY recipe. It was a recipe given to me by a friend or two.

But I’ve changed it so much over the years, I think I can safely share it now without worrying that she’ll get mad at me. I hope so, anyway.

The trouble with the way I cook is that I use a specific pan for the popcorn and know how high it should go in the pan. When it gets that high, I stop popping corn. LOL.

I use a turkey roasting pan (the heavy kind) filled just less than half full. Since that doesn’t tell you much, the recipe calls for 8 cups of fresh popped corn.

1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C cashews
12 T margarine
6 T light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and cashews to a boil. When mixture boils, stop stirring. Cook for five minutes. Stir in soda and vanilla.

Pour over popcorn and put in 250 degree oven for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Spread out on waxed paper to cool. Break up and eat. It’s really (REALLY!) good with coffee. :)

As I said, this really isn’t my recipe. (I’m always shocked at people who share a recipe as if it’s theirs. Does anyone really create a recipe from scratch?)

This recipe came from my friend Joy and my sweet friend/neighbor/Heavenly Citizen Suezan for sharing their recipes with me. I’ve enjoyed it for years, and now I’m sharing with you!




Fall/Autumn/Best Time of the Year!

It’s here!

It isn’t a calendar or a clock that tells me. It’s the feeling when I go outside. It’s #2 son’s birthday and football and the fair.

It’s the color of leaves and the frost on the punkin.

What? you might ask, but I bet you already know.

It’s Fall. Autumn. Heaven Time. (Whatever you call it.) And I’m so excited! Its got me knitting and cleaning and loving life.

The best thing? Caramel Cashew Popcorn. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S, buttery, sinfully wonderful goodness. I learned how to eat it (by the ton) and finally how to make it myself when I lived in Pryor Creek. Friend Joy Mobley shared the magical recipe :D and over the years I’ve tweaked it just a little.

It’s great with coffee for breakfast. Not exactly the breakfast of champions, but it DEEEELICIOUS! It’s good for lunch. Heck, it’s even good for dinner.

Think I’ll refill my coffee and have another kernel–or a bucketful!



Now, I’m wondering . . . what’s your favorite Autumn treat?

Leave a comment

The GRAND Canyon

How long has it been since you were at the Grand Canyon?

We’ve been there twice, the last time at the beginning of this month! And to be honest, my toes stayed curled for a long time after we left because of the sudden drop looming next to the path. :)

As you can probably guess, I snapped a few pics while we were there.



This statue was in front of the restaurant where we ate. Don’t you love it?

GC-FATHER-SONTo be honest, I’m a people/critter watcher first and a canyon watcher second. This pair looked like a father-son to me. I loved the way they were recording their time together.

GC-HORSEThis was one of the park rangers. She didn’t stop and chat (sadly) and she didn’t offer me a ride, sigh, but she was friendly. Nice horse, too, huh?

GC-LIZARDWe watched this guy sun himself on the edge of the canyon for several minutes.

GC-SQUIRRELAnd this speedy character entertained several of us lurkers.

GC-ART-STUDIOThis is an artist’s studio there at the edge of the canyon. Imagine spending your days painting God’s handiwork. (And hoping you don’t sleep walk off the edge.)

GC-WEEDSI did get a few (!) shots of the canyon. God really carved out a beautiful place out there.

GC-THE-CANYONAren’t the muted colors gorgeous?



GC-TRAILING-PATHI decided I couldn’t climb any higher on the rim train at one point (that deep hole was making me dizzy) so I sat on a bench and waited while G-Man went on up.

I met several people while I was there. One couple was Sam and Rebecca from Ohio. They asked where I was from and I answered, “Cleveland, OKLAHOMA. When I say Cleveland, most people say ask if it’s the one in Ohio.”

Rebecca laughed. “When you start talking, they know it’s not Ohio.”

“I have an accent???”

GC-LEAP-PADSThis is the place where my kids hopped around the last time we were at the Grand Canyon. Yeah, my toes curled then, too.

So when was the last time you were at the Grand Canyon? Well, it’s time to go back.

Not that it changes much in a span of a few years, except for the manmade stuff. But most peoples’ memories are never as beautiful as the real thing. Head out that way soon and send me a picture of your favorite part.

I’ll love it.


Alpha and Omega

Sometimes when I’m referring to my baby sister and me, I call us Alpha and Omega–the first and the last. The beginning and the end.

Well, that’s only when we’re talking about my siblings. I’m going to share the REAL Alpha and Omega in our fam. And since niece Melanie already shared it on Facebook, I’m hoping I won’t get in trouble.


My name is on there so I can get the photo cred. :)

That’s C&C–Carol and Christian. Carol’s the taller one, but they’re both pretty cute, aren’t they?

Alpha and Omega got along pretty well. Omega didn’t squeal or squirm and Alpha didn’t drop him.

Of course, he’s had a little practice with six kids of his own, twenty-one grandchildren (counting the two in heaven) and twenty (or so) great-grandchildren. He just might know what he’s doing. :D





I Met Puff! (But I didn’t inhale.)

Here’s the funniest picture I took while we were on vacation. puff-the-magic-dragon

I tried to get G-Man to get out of the car so we could take a selfie together in front of the sign, but he just shook his head. I don’t know if it was because the shop was still open or if he was afraid Puff the Magic Dragon would snatch us.

I wasn’t worried, though.

In case you’re wondering (you are, aren’t you?) I didn’t go inside. I didn’t buy anything. I didn’t get a free sample, and I didn’t see Puff. (I didn’t even breathe deep while I was there.)

I knew Colorado had passed a law that made the sale of weed legal, but actually seeing it for sale like that blew my mind! :D

There was a shop closer to our hotel called GANDALF’S SMOKE SHOP. I don’t know if it sold cannabis (they don’t mention it in their ad) but just hearing the name made us laugh out loud. They had the name for it!

BTW: For those of you who don’t know, in that song about Puff the Magic Dragon, they aren’t talking about imaginary creatures. At least, that’s what the big boys told me.

See what you think–



The Silver Line

If you talk to anyone who’s been to Durango, they’ll almost always ask if you took the train to Silverton. We took the train, but they made us give it back. *That’s a joke.*

And I’m so glad we did. :D

little-engine-that-couldThe day before our train ride, we went through the museum. (G-Man and I are big museum visitors. Just ask our kids!)

005This is where the engineer hangs out during a train trip.

006The guy who shovels the coal puts it in here. I forget how much coal they use on one run to Silverton and back (I think it’s six tons) but one man with a shovel puts it all in that spot right there.

He uses most of it going to Silverton, because it’s all up hill. Very UP

007That’s Gary standing in for the engineer. Does a great job, doesn’t he?

008There are a lot of cars on the train, and the one you’re in decides how much you pay. Some are open cars that can’t be closed. (Brrr!)

Some are close to the refreshment car.

We went in a car that had windows that could be opened or closed and wasn’t too far from the food/drink/party car. (We didn’t do the party thing, but some people do.)

027We left early in the morning. This is a shot as we went through town. The entire way to Silverton, the train followed the Animas River.

I don’t know if you heard about it or not, but there was a spill into that river a few weeks before we headed to Colorado.

When we got there, the main part of the river had cleared up, but all along the edges on the rocks and shore was a yellow stripe. Kind of like a bathtub ring.

051You can kind of see the stripe in this one. They told us it would clear up the next time they have a heavy rain or snowfall.

065One of the cool things about this train is that it was used in lots of movies. “How the West was Won,” “310 to Yuma,” and “Around the World in Eighty Days” are a few I remember.

Does the little house above look familiar? It’s where Etta Place lived in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

I had hopes, but Robert Redford wasn’t hanging around. :(

067This is that same area.

062We stopped several times on the way up to pick up campers and hikers and zip liners. I think this was a private home out in that area. Even though it’s a National Forest, private individuals owns pieces of it.

054I might have hinted that I have a problem with heights. This was a shot of one of those high places before we got there.

049Ahem. Not the highest place, but getting close.

037 This is our engine pulling us around a curve.

042Farther around.

061Along the way we saw several waterfalls.

063A bridged not used anymore.

The railway was built–blasted out of the rock of the mountain–to carry silver and gold to the smelter in Durango. Those mines are closed now and very few people live in Silverton all winter long.

But in the summer, it’s a good sized town. They have lots of restaurants and places to shop–because of the train.

We had narrators going and coming. The first was in the character of the man who built the railroad. The second was one of the first lawmen of Durango.

Very interesting and educational.

I’m not sure if little kids would enjoy the time on the train, but I did!

Have you taken the Durango/Silverton train? Which part did you like best?


We Filled the Well!

My sweet niece, Hope, mentioned the other day that I haven’t blogged lately. (Hiya, Hope!)

I told her that I’d run out of words. How sad is that? A writer without words is like an artist without his medium, a swimmer without water or a musician without music. Pretty darn bad.

Just to be honest, everything I thought about writing was b-o-r-I-n-g. And who wants to be boring???

But I refilled my well last week!

G-Man and I went to Durango, Colorado, then on to the Grand Canyon. Except for the fact that there’s a long fall right in front of everything beautiful out that way, we had a great time!

The first day in Durango, we went to Mesa Verde. Ever been there? We have a few times, and each time it’s magical. Or spooky. Or both!


This is the view on the way up, through the windshield. Yep, those are bug guts you’re looking at. Sorry about that. I washed the windshield each time we got gas, but those bugs were determined to die there.

When I washed it once, a Mexican man who’d taken my space’s squeegee to help his wife clean their windows, brought his back. (I swiped one from the next aisle over.) When he did, he said, “My wife said, ‘These dratted insects.’ But I answered her, ‘At least they’re legal dratted insects.'” And he laughed.

I wasn’t exactly sure what he said (heavy accent on his part and poor hearing on mine) so I laughed with him. He was very nice!

So, back to Mesa Verde. The first thing did when we got there was to go to their main building. What’s it called? Wait, I know. The Visitors’ Center. (Duh) Anyway, we went there to get my visit-all-the-national-parks-book stamped. Since my joints aren’t quite up to long hikes and climbs, we didn’t pay to go on one of the regular tours.

We opted for the self-guided ones instead.

mv-flowersThe wildflowers were beautiful. And we saw lots of wildlife–squirrels, chipmunks, lizards and even a bear! We were in the car when we saw fuzzy boy, thank heavens! I’m not sure I’d have thought it was so wonderful if we’d met him face to face.

We found our way to the “Step House,” so called because they found some ancient steps there. (I couldn’t see them, but they were there.)

mv-step-house  mv-house-with-steps




I wish I could show you the valley floor those people had to travel down to get where they were going to build their houses. I whined just walking on the paved path.

The best thing about the trip was the nice people every place we went! We chatted a little with another couple while we were there. (She was from up north. He was from Durango and looked like a young Sam Elliott. :D ) They were very nice. You could tell he did a lot of hiking/climbing/etc. She was more like me–afraid of heights and not used to the thin air. :)

I’ll admit, I whined some, but I made it back to the car without having to be carried. (I did mention Gary giving me a piggy back a time or two. He didn’t jump at that idea.)

Reminded me of a book I started a long time ago about some people who camped out in a cliff dweller’s hut. I think I needed to spend more time in Mesa Verde, just sitting inside the house and communing with the ghosts living there.

But there was a park ranger guarding the place, and I really wouldn’t want to mess anything up. We could have spent our entire time away at Mesa Verde and still not seen all of it. Those park rangers have fantastic jobs!

So . . . have you been to Mesa Verde? What did you think?

If you want to learn more about Mesa Verde, check this out–





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