"If you are hesitant to change, consider the beauty of autumn."

That may be off a word or two, but is close to the saying I read recently on the local Salvation Army sign. It's good for work or life in general. And it's so appropriate since this is Maple Leaf week in Carthage. Betty Saferite and I have been making some television appearances, and I've been attending as many of the events as possible because, except for Christmas, this is my favorite week of the year.

There's still lots more to come, including the lip-sync competition tomorrow night. Duke Mason is going to be the host, and I can't wait. As much as I love to hear Elvis sing a song, I think Duke is even better. And he's funny to boot. Speaking of Elvis, one of my co-workers, MaLia Merrick, brought me an Elvis tree ornament that sings "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" I play it all the time and I see myself replacing the batteries pretty often. It has a hook on the top of the ornament and I'm thinking about making it into a necklace. It would have to be a pretty sturdy chain as the ornament weighs a couple of pounds.

Each year during the Maple Leaf parade, I make a pit stop or two at the home of Verla Spry. Verla called me the other day to say she would not be home that day, but that she had talked to Carolyn Hamilton across the street, and it would be OK for me to stop by there. Not everyone would call to say they would be gone, let alone make reservations for me at another home. Verla is such a sweetie and I will miss seeing her this year.

On Tuesday, that Joplin woman, my daughter, Sarah, and I planned to attend the Taste of Home cooking demonstration in Neosho. I'm anxious to see the cookbook we are supposed to receive and can't wait to check out all the recipes. I have been unable to attend the last couple of times Taste of Home has been in the area, but others who have been there say it's a wonderful evening.

I have my first Granny gift. Kathy Wooldridge of Carthage gave me the sweetest card and a brag book for pictures. I can't wait to fill it up. The only picture I have now is one we took of the EPT test. It was starting to fade so we took a photo. Does that give you any idea of how baby crazy I am? I'll try to not bore you or shock you with too much information.

Last week I meant to tell you that I was unable to find blackberry Jell-O needed for the Bundt cake recipe. A nice reader called (I'm sorry I didn't get your name) and wanted to know where I found it. A long time ago, she had been able to buy Royal gelatin in that flavor. She called the company and was told that they no longer make it. I used mixed berry and the cake turned out fine.

Today, I'm including the hamburger vegetable soup recipe because it's easy and you can fix it in a snap on Friday night, put it in your slow cooker Saturday morning when you go to the parade and lunch will be ready when you get home that afternoon. My grandmother used to make a hamburger soup with rice in it and it was always one of my favorites. That's the good thing about vegetable soup - anything goes.

A dear couple from Afton, Okla., brought me some information regarding Elvis impersonator Eddie Valen appearing at the Royal Bay Theatre last Saturday. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. If anyone saw the show, I would love to hear about it. They also brought a recipe for spiced muffins. I should have written down where they told me the recipe came from because I don't remember. I think it was either a famous restaurant or bed and breakfast. Nonetheless, you will love these muffins. This recipe makes a large amount and the batter will last four weeks in the refrigerator so you can mix it up and fix the muffins as you need them. Or, do like my friend and share the batter. See you at Maple Leaf!

Hamburger vegetable soup

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper

4 cups beef broth

1 (141/2 ounces diced tomatoes, drained

1 small package frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped, peeled potatoes or one half cup frozen diced hash brown potatoes

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a large saucepan, cook ground beef, onion and sweet pepper until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain fat. Stir in beef broth, undrained tomatoes, corn, potato, carrot, basil, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serves 6.

Spiced muffins

1 (15-ounce) box Raisin Bran cereal

3 cups sugar

5 cups all purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 quart buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well and fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

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