by Sharon Stevens

Our daughter called looking for the recipe for Cakies.

She needed to take something to work for Halloween, and thought this treasured family favorite would be the perfect addition for the office celebration. She knew the basic ingredients were devil’s food cake mix, oats, brown sugar and oil, but couldn’t remember the exact ingredients and neither could I.

The recipe for Cakies was given to me years ago by Maggie Henry, a Girl Scout leader.  Once I had perfected it with trial and error, I took it to every PTA, Girl Scout, choir and fundraiser event from the get go. I also made it for Easter, Christmas, and especially Halloween. We would buy cake mixes on sale and freeze them until the next event. And we always kept everything else on hand.  If the girls came home saying they needed to take something to share I knew I couldn’t go wrong with something simple I could fix at a moment’s notice.

That evening I pulled out everything I had collected over the years trying to find what I was looking for. What a trip down memory lane! This brought up the most precious thoughts of our children, and every function we had attended together as a family. I had so much fun going through the collected memories right at my fingertips. Most of the favored ones were spattered, and stained with various and sundry long forgotten splatters.

When I finally found it, I e-mailed the recipe to my daughter, and thought I had added every piece. That evening she called and told me I had neglected to include the amount of oats which could alter the final result. After the discussion, I admitted I had made it wrong all these years or at the very least, hadn’t followed it to the letter.

Isn’t that just like writers? We take a simple basic recipe and change the story to fit our needs. No matter what genre we enjoy, we can adjust, knowing that it won’t ruin the final product, but only enhance our tale.

Our daughter called today and told me that the Cakies went over big, and several had asked for the recipe.  I had forgotten over the years how much fun I had in making this, but also in trying new things. I was never very adventuresome, and knew no matter how hard I tried it would never look like the perfect photo shoot in the magazine. No matter, I always enjoyed a good recipe.

So on the way home I stopped at the United Grocery store and picked up a copy of the November “Accent West”. I knew I would find something I could cook. And there I found it in Becky McKinley’s article about heirloom and family recipes “Cookies, Candies and Pies!” With just a quick glance I realized I had all the ingredients at home to make the Buffalo Chip Cookies.

I wonder what simple changes I can try to make it my own.


Cream 1 egg, ¼- ½ cup water, 1 stick of butter or margarine, ½ cup oil, ½ cup brown sugar

Stir together one box of devil’s food cake mix and 2 cups of oats

NOTE-for years I thought it was old-fashioned oats, but the recipe I founds says quick cooking

Spread into sheet cake pan

Mixture will be very thick.

May add nuts, chocolate chips, or fruit

Can use any kind of cake mix and any frosting.

Spice cake with cream cheese frosting is yummy.

Preheat oven to 375

Bake for 20-25 minutes, cool and cut into bars



by Sharon Stevens

“Destination-The purpose for which anything is intended or appointed; end or ultimate designs.” 1890 Webster’s Dictionary

I just love pageantry, don’t you? I love everything about it… the colors, the music, the fanfare, the camaraderie, the life stories, what’s not to like? I am amazed how people can pull together thoughts and families and turn them into visions and images for the whole world to view.

There is so much pageantry going on this weekend. To name just a few, the Olympics begin, the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon will be displaying a lock of George Washington’s hair, and last but not by any means least, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and Jodi Thomas are in Anaheim California for the Romance Writers Conference and Awards.

There is enough inspiration in just one moment with any of these events to carry an average observer for an entire year.  I was reminded of this when I was cleaning out the trunk of my car and came across the May 2001 issue of the local magazine ACCENT WEST. In it was the article by Liz Cantrell, “The Power Of A Dream,” about Brandon Slay and the story of his memories with the Olympics.

I had forgotten there was so many connections to our area so I stopped by the Canyon Public Library and picked up a copy of “Pride Of The Plains, 50 Years of the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame” by Mike Haynes and Dave Wohlfarth. The first story was about Joe Fortenberry, the Olympic basketball player from Happy Texas who attended WTSU. The last story was about Brandon Slay and his commitment to youth and sports all around the country. One of the many stories in the book was written about Merry Byers from Canyon, and her journey in basketball, all written by Jon Mark Beilue.

Every story I read is pageantry. I can’t help it. My heart doesn’t need to hear the “Star Spangled Banner” to explode with pride. It swells with everything I read in every publication with each word printed, and every photo posted no matter what country is represented. I can celebrate every single second all the way from the Opening Ceremonies to the last fireworks bursting in the skies over London. And this leads me to the connection with destination.

Diane Sawyer interviewed Apolo Ohno for the 2010 Olympics. He said something so interesting and deep I have carried this in my writing ever since.

Ohno mentioned that most of the other kids were there to win a Gold Medal, but he said he was living his destination. He had come to enjoy and celebrate the experience of just being among competitors and athletic friends.

So this weekend if you watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, or travel to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to view the lock of George Washington’s hair, or google the awards at the Romance Writers Convention in California of Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, Linda Broday and DeWanna Pace, embrace the joy and excitement and pageantry each represents. Wish them God Speed as they travel to their destinations, and don’t forget that they cherish these wishes as they return home.

As always I am living my destination. Happy trails as you journey to yours.

Sharon Stevens



by Sharon Stevens

“The telling of a tale links you with everyone who has told it before.

There are no new tales, only new tellers in their own way,

and if you listen closely you can hear the voice of everyone who has ever told the tale.”

by William Brooks


by Rives Collins & Pamela J. Cooper

I always jump at the chance when asked to volunteer as a storyteller for the annual Panhandle Plains Historical Museum (PPHM), “Cemetery by Twilight Tour”. Who wouldn’t be excited with the opportunity to research and celebrate the lives of those at rest in the historic Llano Cemetery.

For one minute after answering the call I am utterly elated, and the next terribly dejected. The task before me begins to swell like a Tsunami, simply because what I am expected to accomplish. One, I have to complete the assignment before Saturday October 15, 2011 at 3:30, and, two, condense one hundred years of community history from a mountain to a molehill within just one area family. And three, I have to limit my story to eight minutes or less. With hours of research facing me this is just a tad bit overwhelming.

The simple fact of the matter for me is this…the stories never stop. You can’t get them to slow down long enough to put a handle on the memories. You can’t just put your hand up and command thoughts to wait their turn, or to back up and make room for the important facts to come forward. It is like putting your fingers in a dike to stop the flow of water when another hole beside you opens up. In the case of the drought we have been experiencing here, no doubt it is the panhandle dust that will bury me deep underneath.

My load would also be a great deal lighter if I had limited experiences and resources to choose from. But my choices include a full weekend of programs that intersect on every level with what I am compiling.

On Thursday night October 13, 2011 at 5:30pm WTAMU in conjunction with the PPHM will be hosting The Remnant Trust lecture by Dr. Wade Shaffer speaking on “The City in Early America, The City Upon the Hill”. All free and open to the public.

Friday October 14, 2011 the Friends of the WTAMU Cornette Library will be hosting Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author and Writer-In-Residence at the college for their fall luncheon at 12:00pm. Her talk will be on “Working in Harmony-Combining Art and Craft” and also for her reception for that evening from 4:00 to 6:00pm.

Then there is the Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Chuck wagon Supper on October 15, 2011 at 5:00pm at the Palo Duro Cowboy Church on Highway 60 West of Canyon with cowboy poetry, storytelling, music and authentic chuck wagon food.

How can I choose what is relevant to my journey? Who knows where an idea might fall into place at just the right moment?

And I can’t forget about the resources. Does anyone have any idea as a writer how many places I connect with to follow the story? The Archives at PPHM or the Cornette Library, or any library within the Harrington Consortium, or every library around the country can and will assist me at any time. If I want to find out about the schools I can research through the school districts. Churches have people just crying for an opportunity to help with their faith, their members and their church history. Reading someone’s Master’s Thesis is an outstanding source of information from architecture to theater. Scanning through area magazines with a local flair like “Accent West” and the “Amarillo Magazine” unwittingly connects me forward. The Internet offers links around the world, but directs me to treasures and information right here at home in city newspapers of the Amarillo Globe News and Canyon News with archives online for today as well as years ago.

And the people, so many people. Wherever I am I mention one name and invariably someone will step out and share with me a story attached to a name, a place, a kinfolk, a time, an adventure. How can I choose? How can I limit? How can I condense?

The simple answer is that I can’t, and that’s okay!

In his book from RUSH TO DESTINY, Larry Jay Martin writes about the appreciation for the characters out of America’s past. He remarks, “Without all of them there would be no story.”

In the eight minutes I appear before you at the Llano Cemetery I can’t share every memory I accumulated while researching the epitaph carved on a tombstone. I know I will never be able to list the accomplishments of the family buried there beneath the earth.

My message is simpler than that. In that moment where we congregate together honoring the movers and shakers of our area, we are simply sharing of all that is good that surrounds us. I am a “new teller” telling the same story so that those listening might be encouraged and inspired to research on their own at the museum, or a library, or to talk with someone to connect with their heritage and history, then to pass it on.

I know that my version of the story is not the only one out there. That evening there will be storytellers throughout that will share about the people they represent. Trudy Hanson, professor at WTAMU, usually brings her students along. Hanson is a passionate professor and gifted storyteller and she is also the one who requires the book, THE POWER OF THE STORY. She is a true storyteller.

Come visit Llano or attend any of the other events in our area. If you stop at the Wolflin burial plot I can’t promise you I will limit my talk to only one story,I can only follow where my heart leads. And that, my friend, is the ultimate power of a story because…

“If you listen closely you can hear the voice of everyone who has ever told a tale.”

Sharon Stevens