One thing that has kept my marriage strong is laughter.  Even when we were dating, Bob and I enjoyed moments filled with hold-you-sides-because-they-hurt hilarity.  We have found life to be much more enjoyable when we take time to laugh.

Our children grew up with laughter in the household.  On a particular night when they were upstairs in bed, Bob and I decided it was time for a bit of fun.  We had some glow-in-the- dark ping pong ball guns that we put into action.  All the lights were turned out except for the streetlights outside.  Each of us had a gun and we crept through the house hiding from each other in order to get a good shot.  The longer the “game” went, the funnier it got.  It was not too awfully long before our laughter was ringing through the first level of our house.  We kept trying to shush each other, but that made things even funnier.  Needless to say, the game ended when our children were awakened by all the noise we were making as we bumped into various furniture in the dark, not to mention all the whoops and belly laughs as we managed to hit our targets (each other) with glowing projectiles.

Laughter is good for the soul.  This past weekend Bob and I have enjoyed a visit from our son Adam, his wife Candice, and their precious 18-month old son Liam.  Liam has quite a contagious laugh of his own and we love hearing him giggle.

On Saturday evening, my cat Tennyson was sitting on the arm of my chair with his tail hanging down the side.  Liam spotted him and decided to pet him.  Liam touched his own ear, then he pointed to Tennyson’s ear as he stated aloud that they were “ears”.  Then he reached out and touched Tennyson’s tail, which promptly twitched.  For some reason that struck Liam as hilarious and he began to giggle.  He touched the tail again – it twitched again.  Liam’s laughter had the adults in the room doing some cackling of their own.  It was so funny to watch him be so amused by a cat’s tail.

Bob and I loved having our company this weekend.  One thing we shared with them was the Pumpkin Coffee Cake I had made earlier in the week.  All the chemo Bob has had lately has affected his taste buds, and even though things smell good to him they taste like cardboard.  However, he was pleasantly surprised when he took the first bite of his cake because it tasted as wonderful as the aroma “advertised”.

I do not usually prepare many recipes that call for a cake mix, but this one was an exception to that rule.  The ingredient list includes a pound cake mix, and I bought one so I could make the cake.  My family was glad I did!

Another pumpkin recipe I love is one for Pumpkin Gingerbread.  It has a delightful caramel sauce that goes over the top of each piece before it is served.

My advice to you is to take time to laugh with your family.  Laughter is a great stress-buster.  Also, try one of these scrumptious recipes – I do not think you will be disappointed!


Pumpkin Coffee Cake

1 package (16 ounces) pound cake mix

1 cup pumpkin

6 tablespoons water

2 eggs

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional


1 cup – powered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2-3 teaspoons milk

In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour half of the pumpkin mixture into greased 9″ square baking pan. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle half over the batter. Carefully spread with remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining topping (pan will be full). Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. When cooled, mix glaze and drizzle over cake. Yield: 12 servings.


Pumpkin Gingerbread With Caramel Sauce

2 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin, puree or canned

1/2 cup molasses

1 large egg

1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Vanilla ice cream, if desired

Combine flour and sugar; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Stir in pecans.  Press 1-1/4 cups mixture into bottom of an ungreased 9-inch square pan; set aside.  Combine remaining crumb mixture, buttermilk, and next 8 ingredients; beat at low speed with an electric mixer until blended.  Pour over crumb mixture, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into squares, and serve with Caramel Sauce and ice cream.

Yield:  12 servings


Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1-1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup whipping cream

Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat; add brown sugar and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until sugar dissolves.  Gradually add whipping cream; return mixture to a boil.  Remove from heat.

Yield: 2 cups