Dear Jolene,

Can you believe it’s already been two years since you were born?! I really don’t know why I’m writing you a letter since you are only two and haven’t learned to read yet, but I can’t just drop by for a visit because I live three states south of where you live.  It’s sort of a pain we can’t see each other more often, but it is what it is.

I was really happy to hear you liked the books you got for your birthday gift.  Do you have a favorite book yet?  I don’t remember my favorite book from when I was two years old, but my favorite book when I was a kid was The Pain and The Great One by Judy Blume.   I bet you will like it too since you are an older sister to a little brother.

What else did you get for your birthday? Someday when you are older, you should ask for a real live pony.  Your mommy wanted a pony when she was little. She never got one, so I bet she would be happy to get one for you.

I made some popcorn balls for you as a virtual birthday treat. The invitation to your birthday party had a pumpkin on it, so I thought you might like to see popcorn balls that look like pumpkins.

You can make these pumpkin popcorn balls with your mommy and daddy.  In fact, the last time I made popcorn balls before I made these, your daddy helped. It was two years ago at Christmas, and he was working near Papaw and Mamaw’s house.  We all made red and green popcorn balls before you and your mommy got there.  It wasn’t a lot of fun because the popcorn was held together by syrup heated to the soft ball stage, and boy, that syrup was hot!

It’s a lot easier to make these popcorn balls than it was those Christmas popcorn balls.  These use melted marshmallows instead of hot syrup to hold the popcorn together.  The pumpkin popcorn balls are really, really sticky to put together, but its nothing a good coat of non-stick cooking spray can’t handle. Just be sure to ask your mommy or daddy to help you because little girls should not use the kitchen unattended. Remember the last time you wandered into the kitchen alone?  Your little brother ended up wearing a colander on his head!

After you form the popcorn and melted marshmallow mixture into balls, you can decorate them with Tootsie Rolls and green jelly candies. I even made a jack-o-lantern face by cutting and rolling pieces of a Tootsie Roll, but you could use chocolate chips instead if you have them. (I used all of mine when I made your mom’s virtual birthday treat, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies).

Now, I know you are not always a little pumpkin.  But even when you are ornery, you are the apple of  a lot of eyes.  I  tried to make popcorn balls that looked like apples too, but a funny thing happened when I added the strawberry Jello to the marshmallows.  The mixture turned pink instead of red.  Can you believe that?

I was really disappointed at first, but then I remembered you got a pink pumpkin when you were born.  I  figured that meant I could make pink pumpkin popcorn balls too!


Well, I guess that’s all for now.  I hope you have a happy birthday today, and many, many more.


Aunt LeAndra

 Photo Credit – Emily B.

Fall Pumpkin Balls
Serves: 12
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 cups (1 bag) mini-marshmallows
  • 1 - 3 ounce package orange Jell-o
  • 12 cups popped popcorn
  • optional: 1 cup peanuts
  1. Place the butter and marshmallows in a large, microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave the butter and the marshmallows for approximately 45-60 seconds or until the marshmallows are puffed.
  3. Stir in the orange Jell-o powder.
  4. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and the peanuts. Stir quickly to coat.
  5. Spray non-stick cooking spray on hands, and shape the marshmallow-popcorn mixture into balls.
  6. Decorate with Tootsie Rolls and green jellies.
This recipe should make 12 tennis-ball sized popcorn balls. I cannot stress enough the importance of well greased hands when forming the popcorn balls. Licorice and chocolate chips are also good items for decorating the pumpkins.