“Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”

Once upon a time in a very special woods . . . .

Once upon a time, quite a number of years ago in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, when steam locomotives rumbled over the rails huff-chuffing along leaving puffy billows and clouds of smoke behind as they went, and paddle-wheeled steamboats navigated their way past shifting sandbars in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers with calliopes playing jaunty melodies to waving folk along the riverbanks, and farmers still relied on wagons, horses, and mules to work the land, there lived three bears.

The three bears were by no means the ordinary, average, or run-of-the-mill bears as most may be familiar with visiting in zoos and observing in nature documentaries today.  Rather, they were quite remarkable. As it turns out . . . . uncommonly special.

The first bear was named Walter, but everyone called him Little Red Bear after an unfortunate run-in with a hive of angry bees one early spring afternoon.  Not to be confused by the name ‘Red’, as his friends frequently shortened his nickname to in conversation, his true color was more of a rusty, reddish-brown color.  Kind of an orange, red, and brown all swirled, stirred, and smushed together.

Little Red Bear lived in the log cabin he had built on Honey Hill, overlooking Hoppers Holler below, named for the large number of rabbit families who made their homes along Blackberry Creek, aimlessly meandering from one end of the holler to the other.

Little Red Bear had large vegetable and herb gardens, along with many fruit and nut trees. He allowed several rabbit and other families to make their homes and safely raise their families in the space beneath his cabin for protection against marauding packs of weasels, the scourge of the Ozarks Mountain Country backwoods.

In addition to being regarded as the top honey-gatherer in the mountains, Little Red Bear was equally famous for both the finely crafted bamboo fishing poles and for the flaky, buttery biscuits he made. The steaming hot biscuits drizzled over with plentiful amounts of sweet golden honey of course, and served with every meal.

Little Red Bear was also known for his weekly Friday night fish fries when neighbors from all over the Tri-County area would bring their families, along with their own prepared dishes and dinner contributions to share for the potluck dinner. Everyone, old and young alike, looked forward to Friday nights and Little Red Bear’s fried fish, praised by all as “staggeringly good!”

The second bear was named Bobo.  A black bear and somewhat larger than Little Red Bear in size, Bobo had retired following years of performing in “Barney’s Traveling Big Top Animal Circus and Sideshow” where his balancing feats were legendary. Bobo was widely renowned as ‘Bobo the Balancing Black Bear’ and he still liked to perform for folk whenever the opportunity presented itself. Bobo was rightly confident that he could juggle or balance just about anything tossed his way.

Little Red Bear and Bobo were the very best of friends, an interesting pairing with Little Red Bear being noticeably more calm and thoughtful, while Bobo could be, at times, a bit on the hot-tempered side. But always one to be counted on whenever a problem or threat arose. Or a gathering of onlookers to entertain. Bobo was a trouper and showbear, thru and thru.

Bobo the black bear was married to Lily, also a black bear retired from Barney’s Big Top circus. They had made an unexpected magical connection behind the circus tent following a performance years before when both had reached for a visitor’s discarded cotton candy at the same moment, touched paws, and had been together ever since.

Not to be outdone, Lily also was known far and wide for her performing skills in the circus ring as ‘Lily the Dancing Black Bear’. Her graceful and charming dance performances, balletic in style, received rave reviews everywhere the circus traveled, with her most famous dancing maneuver still known as “The Lily Bear Twirl” to this day.

Lily was also noted for her exceptional pie making skills, with her special Autumn Spiced Buttermilk Pie the most acclaimed. Lily and Bobo lived in their log cabin, not too far away from Little Red Bear’s cabin on Honey Hill, towards the western end of Hoppers Holler. The more secluded and wooded end. The eastern end of the holler, home to Little Red Bear on Honey Hill, was more open with meadows of tall grasses, clover, and wildflowers that rippled in the summer breezes.

One day, when traveling to his favorite fishing hole which he had named ‘Perch Lake’ because of all the tasty yellow perch fish swimming about in it, Little Red Bear had come across a  small young bear, scarcely a year old and certainly not old or large enough to be independent, or to be out all on his own yet. The little bear had been trying unsuccessfully to catch a fish, was very thin, ragged in appearance, ravenously hungry, and appearing in every way clearly the worse for wear. His name was Cinnamon Charlie, and his coat color was a brownish cinnamony color.

Little Red Bear befriended Cinnamon Charlie, gave him a home, and took him under his wing to look after, guide, teach, and instruct him in the ways of the world. And fishing.

Cinnamon Charlie was delighted to have a roof over his head, regular meals, and a comfortably warm bed of his very own near the fireplace. And away from Little Red Bear’s snoring on the other side of the cabin.

So, then there were four bears.

The four bears lived in an area of the Ozarks Mountain Country largely unchanged by time or the outside world where they all walked along upright on two legs, and where animals and humans conversed freely with each other and interacted as equals, living side by side as neighbors and friends as it had always been.

Little Red Bear wore clothes, most frequently a pair of worn, faded and loose-fitting blue denim overalls, accompanied by a wide-brimmed straw hat and a washed-out red bandana tied loosely around his neck or dangling from a rear pocket, its location more often than not determined by the temperature of the day.

Together, the four bears and their friends, animal and human alike, are the main characters in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” tales — positive and inspirational fiction stories told in an easygoing, old-fashioned manner with a bit of down-home Southern flair and humor, which we simply call a Country Comfortable style. Themes of Kindness, Positivity, Helping Others, Spirituality, Conservation, and Mother Nature are interwoven throughout.

The multi-generational short stories are family-friendly, instructive for young middle-grade readers, and perfectly suited for reading to little ones on your lap by the fireside, while also being both humorous and enjoyably entertaining for adult readers on their own.

Discover what our readers have had to say about the Little Red Bear stories in their Reviews and Reader Comments, and tap here to enjoy a Free Preview for yourself.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” —  about an uncommonly special bear and his friends.  And where no story ever begins with — “Once Upon a Time . . . .”



Thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We hope you will join us for Little Red Bear’s stories because everyone needs to step off the front porch for an entertaining and rewarding adventure now and then.

Just please remember to scrape the mud off your boots when you get back.  We’ve already gotten a few letters about muddy floors.  —  Jim  (and Red!)


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

            “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”             – Walt Disney


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

        “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” — Erma Bombeck


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


 

 

 

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Happy Halloween! — A Nostalgic Look Back at Trick or Treating in Days of Yore

Happy Halloween!

          It’s that magical time of the year, when little ghosts and goblins appear.                                       Scampering up and down the streets, scurrying around with bags of treats.                     Trick or treating back when I was eight; oh, the candy bars then were truly great!

Halloween has changed much over the years. Halloween Trick or Treating in my neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri growing up in the 1950’s and early 60’s  frequently featured homemade baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, brownies, Rice Krispie treats, homemade popcorn balls, and more —  all carefully bundled in plastic wrap. Homemade candied apples were a real treat, along with homemade taffy and fudge at some homes.

And every year — without fail — a few slices of cake wrapped in plastic wrap which always seemed to find their way to the bottom of the treat bag to inevitably end up smashed flat or crumbled before I got home. But cake crumbs are cake nonetheless, so nothing ever went to waste.

Cupcakes, cookies, and brownies always seemed to survive better in the bag than a slice of cake for some reason. Despite being young, even then I appreciated the all-day effort of having baked and decorated what had to be several handmade cakes for slicing, wrapping, and handing out on Halloween night, and knew their hearts were in the right place with it all. But still find myself asking and wondering to this day — really, what were those folks thinking to hand out a wrapped slice of cake for a treat bag?

Appearing a few decades ahead of their time perhaps, there were also a few health conscious homes in the neighborhood who handed out fresh apples along with the occasional orange, banana, or assorted nuts tossed into the bag. We politely said “thank you”, never wanting ungratefulness to poison the well for next year in case they came to their senses at some point, but shaking our heads leaving just the same.

Older folks were known for frequently giving out pennies and other loose change, along with an occasional pencil or two. I always just figured they were older and not able to travel to the store easily to stock up on the really good stuff, but trying as best they could, nevertheless. And that was good enough for us, with “old people” perhaps more highly regarded and respected in those days. We don’t hear the term “hardening of the arteries” much anymore. I think that’s because the medical and drug folks can all charge more for terms like “arteriosclerosis” and “atherosclerosis” because it sounds much more serious. But, may be wrong. Getting back to Halloween, then.

Bubble Gum, Tootsie Roll Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Wax Bottles,  Caramels, Jaw Breakers (always a favorite of mine!), Sugar Daddies, Jelly Beans, Candy Corn, Boston Baked Beans, Milk Duds, Caramels, Saf-T-Pop Suckers with their looped handles, Circus Peanuts, Licorice, and boxes of Cracker Jacks helped fill out the treat bag. Red Spanish Peanuts were popular, too.  Many of the items simply tossed loose and unwrapped into the bag, of course. Individually wrapped packages were only just beginning to come onto the scene at the time.

Some folks didn’t bother with the process of making a popcorn ball, choosing instead to merely wrap the loose popcorn in plastic wrap gathered and tied with a twisty tie. I usually jammed those into a side pocket for a handy street snack along the way later. It was good because it was both filling and wouldn’t sticky-up your hands like candy.

All of this, and of course not to leave out the truly treasured and most sought-after Halloween prize — Candy Bars!  There were only two sizes of candy bars generally available at that time — ‘Full Size’ and the larger “I May Need Help Carrying This One Home Size”.

Some homes offered cold apple cider to refresh on an occasionally warm evening, or hot chocolate in paper cups on especially chilly nights.  Every home seemed warm and welcoming, and homes without a front porch light on to welcome and light the way for visitors were rare indeed.

Growing up in the Midwest, Halloween nights could and did vary from warm to chilly to bone-shivering cold. Nobody under the age of adult ever wanted to cover their costume with a raincoat or parka!

I remember trick or treating in the snow twice. How could one forget something so truly magical as that? And recall more than a few rainy nights in the time when trick or treat bags were truly paper bags in every sense of the word, long before plastic bags and plastic tote pumpkins arrived on the scene. More than a few friends had the bottom burst on a rain-soaked bag, dumping all of their Halloween treasures on the wet sidewalk.

Fortunately, I escaped that calamitous fate thru the years, likely due in no small part to my beloved Mother making me carry an umbrella with me, no doubt. Carefully tilted to protect the treat bag held high and dry, naturally.

It almost goes without saying that every stop required us to actually come inside the house and perform in the living room — tell a joke, tell a story, sing a song, dance, do a trick, stand on our head, or do “something” to earn our Treats. Unearned giveaways were rare. Somersaults were always a big hit for the littlest kids to do.

A good costume got you in the door, but that alone would not fill the treat bag. We were all expected to work for our candy and treats, patiently standing in line awaiting our turn to perform. With only three channels on the black and white television sets and dodgy reception most times, a steady line of kids performing was great entertainment rivaling and surpassing anything on the TV for the night. So, entertain we did. Milton Berle and Jack Benny would have to wait for their turns that night, too.

“Knock Knock” jokes, while usually not earning the highest performance awards of a candy bar, were always reliable in a pinch to rescue the situation when the strange kid in front of you stole your best joke or trick, so the astute Trick or Treater always kept a few entertaining jokes in reserve just in case.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange you going to give me some candy?

Although that particular little diddy ran the risk of getting you an orange instead of a Baby Ruth.

But a good “Knock Knock” joke could usually be relied upon to be rewarded with at least a popcorn ball.  If the household had just heard the same joke three times before you arrived, you were probably doomed for pennies, though. And maybe a short lecture about coming better prepared next year.

And it did happen occasionally, as hot new jokes seemed to cycle thru the neighborhood in a given year —“Better tell me another one son, or it’s three pennies for you.  I just heard that one five times before you got here!  What else you got in your trick bag?”

Holiday- Halloween- Art 4

Trick or Treating done correctly was literally a performance art, requiring hours and hours of pre-planning, preparation, and dedication.  And on Halloween night, it was a process that could not be rushed if anticipated rewards were to be realized.  A good performance took both time and commitment to the craft.  On a successful night, multiple stops home might be needed to offload full bags and then head back out for more.  Candy bars being the truly sought-after prize, of course!

It was good to work together, not only in your group so everyone had their own unique performance art for the night, but also coordinating with other groups on the street, as it could save a lot of walking and shoe leather. We never realized at the time that Halloween night was a great exercise in developing teamwork skills.

“Don’t bother stopping here, Jim.  Old lady Jones is already out of candy and dumped pennies in our bags.  But the Haskins has still got Snickers I heard.”

Forewarned, time could be saved by heading only towards the high rollers still handing out candy bars and cupcakes.  By 6:45, everybody on the street knew which house was giving out what, which naturally led to candy bar homes running out before the Bazooka Gum, safety suckers, and fruit houses.

When you spied groups of kids running towards a particular house, you knew to hurry there next.  When you saw kids walking down the driveway shaking their sacks and hearing “thump, thump, thump,” you knew they’d been fruited.  So unless really hungry for an apple, best to pass that one by and come back later.  Chances were pretty good they’d still be open for business at nine.

Can’t speak for others, but on a few occasions, I was treated with Silver Dollars. Honest-to-goodness, better-than-Musketeers, real Silver Dollars!  Sometimes it was wise not to be “too” disguised when visiting favorite neighbors, or those you had helped with summer yard work or fall leaf-raking.

But that was without a doubt at the same time both the awesomest and bothersomest treat one could receive, being simply too special to spend and convert to candy.  Gather enough pennies and nickles from the bottom of the bag and you could quickly convert that into cool, hard, candy. Not so with silver dollars. That just never seemed right to even consider doing.

I still have Halloween silver dollars stashed safely away in the back of a dresser drawer tucked beneath layers of underwear for safekeeping. Back in the day, no self-respecting burglar (or sister) would think of rummaging thru someone’s underwear drawer for loot.  The same silver dollars still tucked safely away from years ago I should perhaps add, not the same underwear, of course. Just, to be clear on that point.

It probably goes without saying, but that stashing away part never would have happened with a Three Musketeers.

Holiday- Halloween- Art 7

Costumes were usually homemade, wholly or at least partly by the kids themselves. Big-footed clowns, cowboys and Lone Rangers with masks, knights with aluminum foil helmets carrying cardboard or wooden swords and shields, Indians in feathers and war paint, policemen, miniature firefighters, princesses with capes and crowns, angels with halos and wings, red-caped devils complete with garden pitchforks, army soldiers in their fathers’ oversized WWII and Korean War gear and helmets, scarecrows stuffed with straw, and ugly-nosed, warty witches with brooms.  A few Tinmen from Oz here and there,  but that was a hard costume to pull off without a lot of help from parents.

Along with many a hobo, most patterned after Red Skelton’s famous “Freddie the Freeloader” character at the time. It was a fun costume which I employed a few times, raiding Dad’s closet for over-sized, baggy clothes, and a hat. He never would part with one of his cigars in order to pull off the complete ensemble look, though.

All accompanied by the predictable number of white-sheeted ghosts floating over the sidewalks, of course.  Skeletons were fairly rare in those days because that was mostly a store-bought costume that neither kids nor parents wanted to admit to having to resort to, as everyone took pride in their self-made costumery.

We talked about them a lot in name but no one ever really knew what a Goblin was to make a costume for it.  It was just a creature of myth and folklore that we did not want to run into on the street that night because chances were pretty good it wouldn’t be a kid in a costume.  Ghosts with eye holes were generally considered pretty safe to approach, though.

Clearly the most outstanding costume I remember was when the older, bigger, “I’m-better-than-you-are” neighbor kid across the street’s father made him the scariest and true-to-life realistic Headless Horseman costume since Ichabod Crane galloped on a plow horse thru Sleepy Hollow, complete with fake dripping blood around the collar and a glowing pumpkin carried on a stick for his head.

Apparently, his dad had worked on the Headless Horseman costume all summer in the garage, keeping it a secret from the neighborhood.  Yeah, every block had one of those kids.  Looking back on it now, he rather sadly always went out on Halloween as a group of one, by himself with his father in tow, helping to carry the bags of candy his son accumulated along the way. Yes — bags — plural. My father was at home, warm and dry, being entertained by endless troops of kids in the living room. His father was serving as a pack mule in the cold and wet. He only needed the costume, he was already doing all the work.

Sometimes I wondered if the Headless Horseman might have been happier in a white sheet running along with the rest of the neighborhood candy scroungers.  It was hard to tell, even back then, if a jerk was alone because he was a jerk or if he was a jerk because he was alone.  Whichever, receiving double rations and more from almost every house, the Headless Horseman made a record haul of candy that year that no one ever came close to matching and that we never heard the end of.

Runner-up for the best-ever costume was the same kid the year before, a square-headed Frankenstein costume his dad whipped up complete with bolts coming out of his neck and walking on platform shoes and getting double-treated again.  Jerk.

Stampa

Trick or Treating certainly isn’t anything like it used to be.  Many more costumes come off racks in the store or delivered straight to the door from online ordering rather than pridefully homemade nowadays. The only Super Heroes in our minds back then were the parents giving out candy bars on the block.

Kids in our neighborhood now look at you like you have worms crawling out of your ears (which might actually be a good look for Halloween) if you ask them to do anything beyond hold their bag open to toss the candy inside. Forget the carefully staged and choreographed song and dance numbers in the living room. Some don’t even hold the bag open, expecting you to bend over and do that, too.

And regrettably, there are all the safety issues that never even crossed anyone’s mind in our time. Carrying a flashlight in order to “see and be seen” was all we were warned about. X-rays weren’t for candy. They were for broken bones when you missed the last porch step in the dark.

Most curious of all, candy now comes in the “Fun Sized” version, which try as I might, I still don’t see much fun in it. Talk about the ultimate Halloween trick!

Times change. But the Halloween magic of little children trick or treating doesn’t, and they aren’t seeing the night thru our memories, busily having fun and making memories of their own.  Want to make a special memory for a little princess or cowboy?  Give them a full-sized candy bar and watch their eyes light up!  Although, you better be prepared for the onslaught up the driveway when the word hits the street!  Some things never change.


Here are a few Halloween Safety Tips and Guidelines from the National Safety Council to help keep your children and little neighborhood trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night.


Happy Halloween!  Here’s hoping full-sized candy bars and overflowing treat bags for everyone!  Please keep an eye out for the little Trick or Treaters in the streets, keep the front porch light on, and remember to “Scare Safe!”

Thanks as always for stopping by for a visit and spending part of your day with us! Little Red Bear and I are off now to work on our costumes. Think I’ll be a cowboy this year. I was going to go as an author, but Little Red Bear quickly pointed out that I masquerade as a writer every day so should try something different for Halloween.  Yeah, that kind of took the fun out of that one, so a cowboy it is.

Happy Halloween!  — Jim (and Red!)


“Every pumpkin knows that a Smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks!”

“A full bag, tired feet, dry socks, and sticky fingers meant it was a Happy Halloween.”– JRM


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.” — Erma Bombeck

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.

Little Red Bear’s New “Autumn Splendors” Video!

Happy Autumn!

The time of Autumn is our favorite season and time of year around these parts, beginning with the last marshmallow roasted on Labor Day and lasting thru to the first of December when we start celebrating the Christmas holiday and all things snow and winter.

Right now we are loving every minute of October and Autumn. Some early-changing leaves are just beginning to turn color and hint at the beautiful display soon to follow.

It has been a while since we have made a video, so Little Red Bear thought it a perfect time to fix that and create a new one to celebrate the beautiful season of Autumn to share with everyone.

We tried a few new things with this video, updating the playbook a little as we try to keep learning and evolving our technical skills, keeping in mind that this old writer went thru college using a slide rule at a time before the dawn of personal computers.

For the first time, we included a few “mini-videos” within the video, in addition to using a vocal backing soundtrack for the first time, with all previous videos having used instrumental tracks.

A big Thank You to members of our Patron community, whose support allowed us to renew our video creation service subscription which had lapsed a couple years ago, so looking forward to creating more presentations going forward now, with Halloween and Vintage Christmas themed videos already in mind as possibilities.

And, big Bear Hugs and Thank You’s to Matt and Delia of M&D Hills Photography, who allow me to share their beautiful photographs of the Smoky Mountains Region with you. Matt and Delia are truly “good folk” as we say, and I encourage you to visit their site and learn more about their talented work and offerings.

Little Red Bear and I hope you enjoy our new video and your Autumn visit to Little Red Bear Land. We would appreciate a tap on the “Like” button and a “Thumbs Up” on Youtube to let us and others know.  View on full screen with speakers and earbuds if you have them, for the best enjoyment, and please feel free to share with friends and family.

Do you like to chase after autumn leaves when they fall, floating in the air and blowing in the breeze, running to catch them before they land on the ground?  I invite you to join us for a comforting and relaxing Autumn visit to Little Red Bear Land.

The background music track to the video is “Like a Star” by Laura Ault, and it is available on Amazon for download if you would like.  If you would like to see videos about the characters and settings in Red’s stories, visit our Little Red Bear’s Videos page.

Thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We hope that in our own way we help to make your day a little more special, too.  — Jim  (and Red!)

ps — Remember to join us here every Sunday morning for our regular “Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes” feature when we share the top special recipes which caught our eye during each week! Tap Here To See The Most Recent Recipes For Autumn


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!” — L. M. Montgomery


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“Autumn — the year’s last, loveliest smile.” — William Cullen Bryant


“Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes — Happy October!”

Happy October! Autumn has arrived!

When not lying awake nights trying to come up with words that rhyme with ‘orange’, Little Red Bear and I like to make things that often feature the color orange, one of the official colors of the autumn season.

In recent weeks I have shared a few recipes appearing on various company websites and mentioned a few product brand names which I use and recommend from personal experience. That led to a question as to whether I am receiving any income in return from product mentions or from recipe and blog referrals. To clear that up right away, the answer is No, No, and No.  This is and will remain a non-monetized blog. None of the companies, products, or food blogs which we mention or refer to even know that I or my writing blog exist.

If we find a recipe which we deem worth sharing and it just happens to be on a particular product or company’s site, so be it.  Same goes for the various food blogs whose recipes we feature each week. If they all receive a benefit from it via their own advertising and sponsorships — great.  It is all about the recipes and sharing for the benefit of everyone. Same for product mentions. If I have personal experience with a product brand which I rely on, that information is passed along for the benefit of everyone from a perspective of sharing, not because I receive anything for it.

It’s simply about sharing and helping others with no strings attached. That’s the Little Red Bear Way, after all.

If you are new to our Sunday morning recipe sharing and missed the first Little Red Bear Recipes Post explaining what we are doing, simply tap on the link to check it out.

So then, let’s get to the recipes we found this week!

Favorite Frosted Brownies

While we both will eat any brownie placed in front of us, Little Red Bar and I disagree over our favorite type.  Red prefers the thinner fudgy type brownies, while I like to add an extra egg to my batches to get the taller, more cakey brownies. But we do agree that regardless of the texture, we both love Frosted Brownies!  Which type of brownies do you prefer?

Favorite Frosted Brownies Recipe

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Okay, this is the first of a couple of recipes this week that when Little Red Bear and I looked at the title turned to each other and asked — “What were they thinking?”  But, then we dug a little deeper into the recipe, thought about it for a minute, and then turned back once again to say — “Oh my goodness, that looks good!”  So, ultimately, a bewildered “What?!?” was replaced with a hungry “Wow!”

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Recipe

Easy Apple Cobbler With Cinnamon Roll Topping

This is an easy recipe for an Apple Cobbler that uses prepared, canned Cinnamon Rolls (in the dairy section of the food market) for the topping.  It is mentioned in the text but not in the recipe card itself — be sure to cut the individual cinnamon rolls into quarter pieces before spreading over the top so it all comes together better in the end.  It also says you may discard the frosting packet.  I don’t think so!  That frosting gets spread over the top of the cobbler in these parts! The taste and smell of the apples plus the cinnamon rolls baking together has to be amazing.

Easy Apple Cobbler With Cinnamon Roll Topping Recipe

(Fool Proof) Homemade Pretzel Bread

As mentioned before, I make breads of all kinds and love Pretzel Bread. Little Red Bear called me over the other day.  “Look here, Jim,” he exclaimed with a sly grin on his face, pointing at the recipe title. “They must have written this recipe just for you — it says right here — Fool Proof.”

(Be sure to make those cross slashes in the top to provide a way for the steam to escape while baking. Otherwise, built up steam inside will escape by bursting out uncontrolled somewhere else, disfiguring the nice loaf shape.)

(Fool Proof) Homemade Pretzel Bread Recipe

Blonde Chocolate Macadamia Bark

This recipe is certainly a keeper for the holidays coming soon. The “Blonde” term comes from caramelizing white chocolate, gently toasting white chocolate in the oven to a rich caramel color and flavor. And, it has Macadamia nuts.  What else can we say other than “Please pass the tray!”

Blonde Chocolate Macadamia Bark Recipe

Mac and Cheese Soup

This was the other head-scratcher that Little Red Bear and I came across this week, at first trying to comprehend the thought of a macaroni and cheese soup  —“Say what?”

Then, we thought about it. And thought about it. It was a chilly day that day, and by the time we got to mid-afternoon this Mac and Cheese Soup started to sound really good for dinner. Made from a base of chicken or vegetable stock with milk and a combination of Velveeta and shredded cheddar cheese, this soup would be wonderful with a slice of rustic bread on the side. Another lesson to never judge a book by its cover, or a recipe by its title.  And who doesn’t love the little pasta shells?

Mac and Cheese Soup Recipe

Autumn Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spice Cakes are a fall and winter favorite here with the delightful aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice wafting thru the home.  This is a scratch cake recipe as opposed to the supermarket box mix and is beautifully finished with seasonally colored candy sprinkles and nuts decorating the top and sides.  The nuts are optional of course, but always added here with a bear and other critters waiting for cakes to emerge from the oven.

Autumn Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

If you enjoy these recipe features, please tap the Like button below and feel free to Comment and let us know, and we will be on the lookout for more interesting and fun recipes to share with you each Sunday morning as we go along.

And remember, all of these recipes are added each week to our “Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes” board on Pinterest for you to access anytime and find those from previous weeks if you missed them.  I invite you to follow and check out my other Pinterest boards while there.

Family Time is the Best Time!

Sunday family dinners are special times when families step away from busy weekday schedules, get together, and share not only a meal but also important ‘together time’, as well.  Staying connected and involved. It is so easy for us to both feel and become disconnected in today’s hectic, fast-paced world, with all family members being pulled in so many different directions between work obligations, school, after school and social activities. It happens to us before we know it. And I don’t know of anyone yet who has had a successful, meaningful, or long-term relationship with a cell phone.

We all benefit from, but children especially need a home base and safe place to feel secure, confident, and loved. That connection and anchor has always been and will always be family. There is no substitute. Little Red Bear and I hope that you and your loved ones can enjoy family together time today.

Thanks as always for spending part of your day with us! We would be honored if you recommended our site and pages to friends and family.  Little Red Bear and I look forward to your visits here, and hope that in our own way we help to make your day special, too!

We’ll be back every Sunday morning with more of Red’s selected special recipes, so be sure to subscribe in the top right column and follow along to be notified of every new post.

Wishing everyone a wonderful coming week. Kindness costs nothing and can turn someone’s life around. Be the reason someone smiles today! – Jim (and Red!)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Stories —  Sponsored in Part by —
Old Orchard Feed, seed & Farm Supply — proudly supporting Ozarks mountain country ranchers and farmers since 1886.  we take special orders –” none too large or small, we fill them all.”

(Read about Old Orchard Feed, Seed & Farm Supply in coming Little Red Bear Stories!)


“Family is the most important thing in the world.” – Princess Diana

“I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life.” – Barbara Bush  


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“Kindness is the sunshine in which Virtue grows.” — Robert Green Ingersoll


Tri-County Storekeepers Line Up to Back Little Red Bear Adventure Stories!

When not standing in the ‘Strange and Silly Fiction Aisle’ at Barnes & Noble waiting for people to ask for our autographs, Little Red Bear and I are hard at work reenacting and writing about Red’s adventures.

The second collection of Little Red Bear stories well underway now will be somewhat different in approach than the first collection, which consisted of six short stories, each more of a novelette in length, truth be told. The second collection book will be noticeably longer with two additional full-length stories, along with much shorter stories which we have not agreed on a name for yet — Mini Stories or Interludes — positioned in between the longer length features.

What with the format changes, longer overall book length, and increased number of stories, it has become quite the project and undertaking. Add to that several new story characters coming from all over the U.S. and overseas, and it is readily apparent why we are running substantially over the production budget.  More characters to house and feed, additional writing sets to be constructed, landowner permits obtained for writing access, new character travel expenses, etc. Not to mention insurance, medical, and paramedic service costs while working with wildlife, some rather ill-disposed.

As luck would have it, the majority of our story characters are domestic animals and wildlife, so wardrobe costs are kept to a ‘bare’ minimum, so to speak. And while it is true that some of the characters quite literally do work for peanuts, it still does all add up in a hurry.

Scanty wardrobe and peanuts notwithstanding, the long and the little of it is that we found ourselves already way over the anticipated production budget for this story collection by the midway point, with critters eating us out of house and home.  And did I mention about the peanuts?

To their credit, a good number of businesses in the surrounding region of Little Red Bear Land in the Ozarks Mountain Country, which we refer to as the “Tri-County Area” in the stories, have stepped forward to sponsor our writing and story work. In exchange for an occasional mention of their enterprises in the stories, of course. Perhaps you may already be familiar with one — ‘McNickles Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds’ on the outskirts of Round Corners, where Little Red Bear has done book signings on occasion.

So, rest comfortably assured that writing and production work on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories is continuing unabated thanks to local shopkeepers and community support. Just letting you know so that you are aware what is going on when an occasional message from one of our sponsors appears here on the writing blog and elsewhere as we go forward.  It goes without saying that this still is and will remain a non-monetized blog in the traditional advertising sense, of course.

We will be updating story progress from time to time as we go along and get closer to the publication date, scheduled for early next year, barring unforeseen production delays.

If you are not already following my Facebook Writer Page, now would be a good time and I encourage you to do so.  As in the weekly recipes Little Red Bear shares here on the writing blog every Sunday morning, we find a number of wonderful, inspiring, entertaining, and educational videos and other items each week doing writing research. We are going to begin sharing the best ones on my Writer Page as we come across them. Most are short, focusing on our major themes here of Children, Family, Kindness, Positivity, Mother Nature, and Pets.  Pets and animals always make for a smile to brighten a gloomy day.

Thank you always for spending part of your day with us. We would be honored if you recommended our site and pages to friends and family.  Little Red Bear and I look forward to your visits here, and hope that in our own way we help to make your day special, too!  — Jim (and Red!)


“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Stories —  Sponsored in Part by —
Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas — Furnishing the Finest In Must-have Accessory Items for Successful Highwaymen and Holder-uppers Since 1836. Conveniently Located next to the citizen’s bank of blusterville.

(Read about Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas in the coming Little Red Bear Stories!)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes. 


“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’ Mara


Old-fashioned, Multi-Generational, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

       “It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is — what are we busy about?”     – Henry David Thoreau


Happy Labor Day Weekend!

“Oh, look, Red. It’s Labor Day! The annual day set aside to honor human mothers for the nine strenuous months of pregnancy and arduous hours of Labor to finally deliver a newborn baby,” Cinnamon Charlie observed, reading the headline in the ‘Squirrelly World’ morning newspaper.

“I don’t think that’s the meaning behind this day, Charlie,” Little Red Bear corrected. “They have a whole different day to celebrate human mothers. It’s called ‘Mother’s Day’, in the month of May each year.”

“It says so right here in the newspaper, Red — Labor Day. What else could it be if not to honor human mothers in the Labor and Delivery rooms today?”

“Well, Charlie. This Labor Day honors the labor movement as a whole and the contributions that Workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.”

“What about mothers? Aren’t they workers, too?”

“It honors mothers in a way too, I suppose,” Little Red Bear added, thinking more about it. “Part of Labor Day honors those mothers like Rosie the Riveter who left their homes to work in factories and helped save the country during one of the most difficult periods in history, the Second World War. The American labor force and the role of mothers in the homes were never the same after that, as women had joined the labor force permanently, helping to make the country even stronger going forward.”

“So Labor Day is about Mothers then, Red,” Cinnamon Charlie chimed in, beaming and reveling in having made a point.

“I suppose it is, Charlie. I suppose it is. And rightfully so,” Little Red Bear agreed.

Little Red’s Bears Handpicked Recipes, a regular Sunday morning feature, is taking a break in honor of Labor Day while remembering those still displaced and suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, and will return next week.

In the meantime, we wish everyone a Safe and Happy Labor Day! —  Jim   (and Red!)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  to keep improving, and expanding our writing to others. 


“I was a Rosie the Riveter. I’m really proud of that.” – Ruth Duccini

Holiday- Labor Day 3

“Genius begins with great works; labor alone finishes them.” – Joseph Joubert


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

                                                 “One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.                                              No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” — Elbert Hubbard   


“Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes — Labor Day Specials!”

Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, the end of summer was marked by the Labor Day Holiday Weekend, with the following Tuesday always the first day back to school. Times have changed, with so many school districts now restarting early to mid-August.

So, Little Red Bear thought it might be a good idea today to dedicate this week’s recipe selections to the coming Labor Day Holiday next week, in order to give you the week to gather ingredients and be ready ahead of time for the weekend.

Our inbox overflowed with autumn pumpkin recipes this week, and “Mickey’ Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” already started at Disney a few days ago, but we are going to hold off on autumn things in lieu of one more taste of summer before heading into the annual Fall Pumpkin Rites of Passage.

If you are new to our Sunday morning recipe sharing and missed the first Little Red Bear Recipes Post explaining what we are doing, simply tap on the link to check it out.

So, in honor of Labor Day next weekend and the end of the summer season, here are some notable summer recipes, a few sides and a few treats, that we found to savor the flavors of Summer one more time!

Apple Cranberry and Almond Cole Slaw

This cole slaw is made with Gala Apples, Cranberries, and Almonds, using mostly Greek Yogurt instead of mayonnaise for a healthy and delicious twist on an old favorite. And incorporating apples and cranberries, this slaw will transfer right into the coming fall and holiday seasons, as well.

Apple Cranberry and Almond Cole Slaw Recipe

Barbeque Spice Roasted Potato Nuggets

These Potato Nuggets, seasoned with your favorite barbeque dry rub, are a perfect accompaniment to any dish coming off the grill — steaks, burgers, barbequed chicken, and more.

Barbeque Spice Roasted Potato Nuggets Recipe

Berry Feta Spinach Salad with Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

If not up for Cole Slaw, this salad makes a beautiful and delicious dish for company, with festive strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  Oh — and did I mention that it also features Candied Pistachios?

Berry Feta Spinach Salad Recipe

Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Okay, so your Labor Day Weekend plans don’t include stay-at-home barbeques or dinners with friends. You’re going to be out and about enjoying the last holiday weekend of summer. Awesome — we’re right there with you! So how about some lighter fare?  These delightfully fresh Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches perfectly fit the bill and are amazingly good.  Little Red Bear and I used to do sort of the same thing on Ritz crackers — a spread of cream cheese, a cucumber slice and sprinkle of dill weed on top for appetizer snacks. Little Red Bear and I skipped the Seasoned Salt in the recipe, but kicked it up a notch by stirring a packet of Good Seasons’ Zesty Italian Dressing Mix into the cream cheese first.  Oh, so good. The dill weed is what makes it! But if you do not have fresh dill weed, no worries. The dried dill weed seasoning is still amazing with this.

Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches Recipe

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Cake

Company is coming for dinner and what to do for dessert?  A cheesecake? Or a traditional cake? Around these parts we love both, so why not put them together? This patriotic colored Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Cake will be a holiday showstopper any time of year! And it is simply a layer of cheesecake sandwiched in between tinted layers of vanilla cake.

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Cake Recipe

Patriotic Flower Pretzel Bites

Speaking of patriotic holiday themes, Little Red Bear and I both loved these Patriotic Flower Pretzel Bites as wonderful side treats for parties and get-togethers.  But here is where we got creative. With the recipe calling for Red, White & Blue Holiday M&Ms to make the flowers, we figured that we could use any holiday-themed M&Ms for a neat holiday side dish treat any time of year — the Halloween mix colors for a Halloween party, blue and white for Hanukkah, the green and red blend for Christmas, red and white for Valentines, and so on. So while this recipe is patriotic themed, it could be adapted for just about any holiday party or event. It’s also a recipe that the kids would have a blast making up for you, too! And, have you ever enjoyed the white chocolate covered pretzels?  If not, you’re in for a treat. And if so, well — you know what we’re talking about here!

Patriotic Flower Pretzel Bites

Indoor S’Mores

S’Mores are a summertime and autumn favorite, roasting the marshmallows over an open fire or the remaining hot coals from the barbeque. But what to do if it rains?  Make them indoors, of course!  Little Red Bear loved this recipe because it let him have yet another treat to make up in his cast iron skillet.  This is a baked-in-the-oven S’Mores Dip for dipping the graham crackers into while staying dry out of the rain. No reason to miss out on the S’Mores due to inclement weather any longer, and the kids will love the great dipping action and fun! But a caution — don’t let anyone lick the leavings from the skillet until it’s properly cooled down though.  Ain’t that right, Red?

Indoor S’Mores Recipe

As a bonus, if wanting to stick to a Patriotic theme and to keep in mind for next year’s Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays, here is a fun recipe for an American Flag S’Mores Dip, too. The marshmallow colors come from red, white and blue sprinkles which form a crystallized coating when baked in the oven. The recipe also includes a link to a Rainbow S’Mores Dip, prepared in the same manner, perfect for Easter and other times.

Fresh Glazed Peach Pie

I was able to get some fresh peaches from the local market this week and they were delicious, so thought this Fresh Glazed Peach Pie a perfect late summer treat.  The glaze, using peach-flavored Jello, works to keep the peaches fresh. This recipe is perfect for Little Red Bear and me, using a prepared pie crust to keep it simple and quick for the holiday weekend.  And as readers are aware, Little Red Bear is a biscuit champion, but cannot make a decent pie crust to save his soul. And with an achy back, I don’t want to bother.  So the prepared crusts work great for us!

Fresh Glazed Peach Pie Recipe

If you enjoy these new recipe features, please tap the Like button below and feel free to Comment and let us know, and we will be on the lookout for more interesting and fun recipes to share with you each Sunday morning as we go along.  And remember, all of these recipes are added each week to our “Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes” board on Pinterest for you to access anytime.

If you have a family favorite or vintage recipe that you would like to share, please snap a photo and send it along to us. We’ll be happy to add it in for the benefit of others.

Thanks as always for spending part of your day with us!  And as we head off into a new week, paraphrasing what Henry Ford said — the person who thinks they can and the person who thinks they can’t are both right.  Which will you be?   – Jim (and Red!)


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free blog to be able to offer the most pleasurable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits here, please consider Becoming a Patron of this site and my writing work, helping my friend Little Red Bear and me to be able to continue improving and expanding our outreach to others. 


                         “One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”                   – Henry David Thoreau

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“Good food is always best when shared with good friends and family.” – Little Red Bear