December Newsletter Poetry Corner: Christmas Power

Christmas Power

Glenda Bonham

Smell of candy cooking, squeals of shrill voices lifting,

A fireplace softly burning, carolers in harmony drifting,

Scent of Wassail simmering, the hush of snowflakes falling,

Lights twinkling on the tree, and dear family voices calling.


Bing crooning ‘White Christmas’, ring of Salvation Army bells,

Gift wrap crackling being folded, pretty toys are all on sale,

Laughter of children excited, crunch sounds in new fallen snow,

Smells of apples and cinnamon drifting, and a jolly Ho-Ho-Ho.


Feliz Navidad, the cheerful echoing calls of ‘Merry Christmas’,

The strains of the Nut Cracker Suite, boxes of colorful citrus,

Red Poinsettias lined in rows, old church bells pealing,

‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and the wise men kneeling.


Our Christmases are powered by the sights, scents, and sounds,

And the joy we feel, with our loved ones gathered ‘round.


December Newsletter Writers/Readers Quick Snack: Christmas Crack

Christmas Crack—Glenda Bonham

2 sleeves saltine crackers

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  1. 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  2. 2  cups (10 to 12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a pan with foil. Lay crackers in a single layer on the bottom. Set aside. Make the caramel sauce: Place the brown sugar, butter in saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the butter melts. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 5 minutes, just until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to darken. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour hot mixture over crackers and spread as evenly as possible. Place pan in oven for 5 minutes. Once the crackers are done baking, remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 minute, until the caramel is no longer bubbling. Then pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. Let set until chips are melted. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the top. While chocolate is hot, you may add chopped nuts, a cup of toffee chips, or crushed candy cane. Let cool and break apart.


December Newsletter Writers/Readers Quick Snack: Monster Munch Popcorn


Submitted by Frances Armstrong


  •  1⁄2 cup white or yellow popcorn kernels, divided
  •  1⁄2 tsp salt, divided
  •  11⁄2 cups mini pretzel twists, divided
  •  1⁄2 cup bear-shaped honey or chocolate graham snacks, divided
  •  1⁄2 cup lightly salted, dry roasted peanuts (optional), divided
  •  1/2 cup candy corn, divided
  •  1/2 cup candy coated chocolate pieces
  •  2 oz vanilla-flavored almond bark

Purple concentrated food gel (optional)


You can change up the color of the melted chocolate depending on the season or holiday!


1. Add 1⁄4 cup popcorn kernels into the Microwavable Popcorn Maker. Microwave, covered, on HIGH 2–21⁄2 minutes. Place the popcorn in the Large Serving Bowl, being careful not to add unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) of the salt.

2. Top popcorn with half of the: pretzels, graham snacks, peanuts, candy corn, and chocolate candy.

3. Place almond bark in 1-cup Silicone Prep Bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Continue microwaving 30–60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds until the bark is melted and smooth. Add food coloring until the desired color is reached.

4.Pour half of the melted bark into the Chocolate Drizzler. Drizzle over the popcorn mixture.

5. Microwave the remaining popcorn kernels. Add popcorn to the bowl and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Top with remaining pretzels, graham snacks, peanuts, candy corn, and chocolate candy. Drizzle with the remaining almond bark.

Let stand 5–10 minutes or refrigerate until set.


Book Review

December Newsletter Book Review: Before We Were Yours


Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

A review by Richard McGee

This story is told from the point of view of two people, separated by age, time, and economic class. Rill is twelve years old and the oldest of five children living with their parents on a Mississippi River shanty boat. Her father must take her mother to the hospital and Rill is left in charge with her siblings. A group of men grab the children from the boat and they are placed in a Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage. At first the children are told they soon will be rejoined with their parents, but the children grow to realize that is a lie.

Avery is in a wealthy family in South Carolina and has left her job as a US Attorney to help her dad get re-elected to the US Senate. She is a smart and politically astute woman destined to follow her dad to elected office. In a chance meeting, she discovers a secret involving her grandmother and decides to investigate to learn the details of the secret. Her search eventually uncovers the truth of the ties between her family and the orphan children seventy years before.

The scandal of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society that stole children from impoverished families and sold them to wealthy powerful clients around the country is a true story. The story of Rill and her siblings is a fictional composite drawn from the accounts of actual children taken into the orphanages.

The story is an emotional pull that will have you continually turning pages to discover the outcome of characters you have come to love. I highly recommend it.


Fun Tidbits and Facts

December Newsletter Fun Tidbits and Facts

UnknownDecember 2018 Calendar of Events

December 3—Regular Critique Meeting at 6:00

December 17 —Critique Café Christmas Party @6:00


Did You Know?

Early in 1843, as a response to a government report on the abuse of child laborers in mines and factories, Dickens vowed he would strike a “sledge-hammer blow . . . on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.” That sledge-hammer was
A Christmas Carol.



Things Heard at Meeting

“It makes your eyes light up, don’t it?”

“That explains us.”

“Some of us write fiction, Dad!”

“It was a fluzzy bur!”


Mission Statement – The mission of Critique Café Chatter is to spotlight the talents and writing efforts of the members of Critique Café Fort Stockton Area Writers Group. Contributing members of this newsletter hope to reach out to others with- in the community who enjoy creative writing and the literary arts. In the spirit of our sponsor H. Edward Petsch Arts and Music Memorial Fund, we are striving to stimulate the arts within the Fort Stockton, TX area.