The Dearliest Says

This dip is awesome.

The first time I made it, The Dearliest and I ended up eating it all. For dinner. (It sounds better when I say it was for dinner, right?)

I took it to a gathering, and it was rather popular there too.

Now, I can’t take credit for the recipe by any means, and The Dearliest gets the credit for making everyone here aware of its existence. I can, however, take credit for sharing it with all of you!

It has a lovely zip, and we prefer it on crackers, sandwiches, and spoons. And pretty much any other way possible.

FRANK’S RedHot Buffalo Chicken Dip


  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup FRANK’S RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or FRANK’S RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese or your favorite shredded cheese


PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

COMBINE all ingredients and spoon into shallow 1-quart baking dish.

BAKE 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired. Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.

2015 Newsletter

I haven’t been quite as faithful updating the blog this last year, so I thought I’d share the Christmas newsletter I mailed out. I have, obviously, changed the names.


Hawknest Herald; December 2015

Hello to our friends and family! This year has been a strange combination of waiting and whirl-wind chaos, but we have so much to be thankful for. Yet again we have a new address, but this time the address is our own–in August we bought a house! The place needs work on the inside and out (fortunately we all know a contractor and landscaper…namely the Dearliest), but once it’s turned around it’s going to be a delightful property. The house is roomy with a full basement, and it sits on just over an acre of land. There is a shop with a barn and stalls behind it, a small greenhouse, a chicken house, and a few mature grape vines, raspberries, and thorn-less blackberries. There are plans for an epic garden next year and possibly a beef cow as well.

Our house is #11 in a long line of attempted purchases. Around attempt #5, The Dearliest began to joke that he intended to start charging realtors. “Need a house sold?” he started saying. “Let me know. The day I call to express interest in it, someone else will buy it. Doesn’t matter if it’s been on the market 2 days or 2 years, I will sell it!” It was truly difficult to not feel frustrated, because having the proverbial door shut in your face so many times is no manner of fun! When we found our house, though, it was clear God meant it for us. Things moved so quickly and so smoothly! By the time we found ourselves at the end of the process, keys in hand, we were left somewhat stunned and shaking our heads in disbelief.

Needless to say, we are all looking forward to many happy years here.

This year has been very busy for The Dearliest’s company. Aside from the general roofing and finishing jobs, there have been several remodels and new construction projects. The last couple months have been long and tiring for him with the addition of fixing up our house and yard. It’s a slow process, but sometimes even something small (like removing the full-sized canoe bookcase from the living room wall) can make a huge difference. One of his favorite features of the new house is the Jacuzzi tub, and he can’t wait to develop a huge garden and small orchard in the back yard. After the fire threatened us last year, The Dearliest was determined to meet this year’s fire season more prepared. He invested in some new materials that would enable him to put a portable water tank and pump system on his truck, qualifying it as a type 6 wildland fire engine.

I spent the first part of the year pregnant and craving grapefruit, artichokes, and loaded baked potato pizza. When I wasn’t thinking about food, I focused on writing, an endeavor that resulted in the completion of a children’s book! I still have hopes of publication, and that will be a goal for next year. I stopped pursuing it in order to prepare for Princess Ann’s arrival, and after she came, my mind was filled with All Thing Baby. Moving to our new house rivals Princess Ann for biggest event of 2015, and I’m enjoying the process of settling in. I’m looking forward to next year’s garden immensely and can’t wait to see our 2 dozen rose bushes in bloom. In September a musical opportunity presented itself when The Dearliest’s sister asked me to play piano at her wedding. It was a chance to play a baby grand in a state park next to the Snake River, so of course I said yes! The experience now ranks in the top 10 (maybe even top 5) musical events of my life.

LK (7) recently received a basic tool kit and immediately set about building helicopters out of scrap lumber. He also began a mock-up of the play house he intends to build in our backyard, although since I started writing this letter his plans have changed from a play house to a tree house. Home schooling goes well, and LK thrives on the more hands-on approach we’re trying this year. He especially loved learning about the solar system and dinosaurs. He still asks for regular time in the kitchen and can now add salad dressings, marinara sauce, and pancakes to his know-how.

Pokado (6 in January) absolutely loves having a baby in the family again and asks to hold Princess Ann whenever I set her down. She likes to be helpful, and often I’ll find her cleaning or organizing things in the house. Her achievements this year include losing her first tooth, learning to write her name, and throwing her first real tea party. After I realized my pens were disappearing only to show up in her coloring books, I bought her a pack of gel pens. Her coloring fervor took another jump and she only puts the pens down now for puzzles. She likes the new house very much, her favorite part being the chandelier that hangs in the dining room. She also loves the barn and dreams about the horse she hopes we get one day.

Squeaky (4) continues to be a strong pillar of energy. When the flu worked its way through us, she remained down for a mere 4 hours, while everyone else took 2-3 days to find their feet again! Her love for ballet and singing grew stronger this year, and I’ve started giving her basic voice lessons. Dance lessons are also in her future. She’s found a few new interests recently, including astronomy (she helped LK with a model of the solar system, and by the end of it declared her favorite planets were “the stinky planets” aka gas giants.) She also took an interest in legends and fairy tales, her current favorites being Robin Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella. She is now always on guard for giants.

Arc (2 1/2) is a very active bundle of little boy. He loves to use his voice and the objects around him to create his own soundtrack as he moves through his days. When he’s not inventing drumsticks out of markers and silverware, he dedicates his time to pointing out every tractor, truck, and fire engine he sees, whether it be on a page or out the window. He seems to be developing a soft spot for horses (“neigh-neighs”), and earlier this year he discovered a rather sophisticated preference for Tiramisu. He is a child who generally speaks very few words at once, but his grasp of language regularly surprises us with gems like “This is disgusting.” (commentary on a worm) and “Hey, can I ride?” (after watching The Dearliest do a few pushups).

Princess Ann arrived on July 2nd in the middle of a heat wave. She weighed in at 8 lbs 13 ozs and measured 20 1/4″ long. She will rival Squeaky for energy, I predict, as she is constantly moving and even in sleep I often catch her fingers wiggling. Currently she enjoys gnawing on her ribbon blanket, shaking her favorite rattle, and playing bonk-a-head with anyone willing to tap foreheads. She’s a happy, smiley baby with 2 teeth and a growing interest in the food everyone else eats. Rolling over is no problem for her, and we wonder if she’ll take after her daddy and be running by 6 months.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families this Christmas, and we hope the rest of your holiday season is full of happiness and peace.

God bless the corners of this house
And be the lintel blessed.
Bless the hearth, the table too
And bless each place of rest.
Bless each door that opens wide
To stranger, kith and kin;
Bless each shining window-pane
That lets the sunshine in.
Bless the roof-tree up above
Bless every solid wall.
The peace of Man, the peace of love,
The peace of God on all.

(Traditional Irish Blessing)

With Love,

The Dearliest, Fogwood, LK, Pokado, Squeaky, Arc, and Princess Ann


Holidays, Transformers, and the Letter that Changes Everything

Well this year sure went by in a woosh. Wasn’t it just January? Or something?


Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays! I know we are, even though things are a little unorthodox this year. We still have a lot of boxes everywhere, which makes decorating a bit more of a challenge. Probably not going to do much of that.

Except a tree! We WILL get a tree! Because, you know, the Dearliest. It’s a must for him. Also, I already know where the boxes with lights an ornaments are, so that’s a plus.

The time between Thanksgiving and today has been spent on Christmas cards, but as of last night they are DONE, and as of this morning, they are in the mail! (As an aside, Transformers: Age of Extinction is probably not worth your time, even if you’re doing something else while watching.)

For those who follow the writing side of my blog, there hasn’t been much on Pen Wending lately. This is mostly due to an exciting development: I’m working on publishing a children’s book! I’ve been working on it off and on over the year. Two days ago I started drafting the query letter, and my goal is to have it ready to submit to agents sometime in January. We shall see what happens.

On that note, I’m compiling a list of individuals who would be interested in joining the test team. What this means: When I finish the query letter, I send it to you, you give feedback. Were there mistakes? Does it read smoothly? Do you even want to read the book I’m marketing?

I will be sending out a related email soon, because among other things there’s a pen name involved so I can’t just give out information here on the blog. If you want in, leave a comment or shoot me an email!

And now I hear the beloved unhappy calls (read: screams) of Baby Ann. Time to put the metaphorical pen away.

Until next time!