Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day" target="new">" border="0" alt="Myspace Graphics">" target="new">Myspace Graphics," target="new">Memorial Day Graphics at

(If this graphic does not show up, sorry. Blogger and I are not getting along at all. It is really pretty. Sigh.)

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.


Have a wonderful week.
Happy reading and writing

Monday, May 23, 2011

Flag Cake Recipe

I had another post for today, but a link to this was on one of my message groups and I just have to share it with you. (Taste of Home tells us to share as well.)

Taste of Home will donate 10¢ to the USO for each unique visit to from May 26, 2011 to July 4, 2011, up to $100,000.

  • 15 Servings
  • Prep: 1-1/2 hours + chilling Bake: 35 min. + cooling 
35 125
Photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) French vanilla cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs

  • 1 package (3 ounces) berry blue gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme


  • Line a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Transfer cake to a covered cake board. Cut a 5-in. x 4-in. rectangle (1/2 in. deep) in the top left corner of cake, leaving a 1/2-in. border at outside edges of cake. For red stripes, cut seven 1/2-in. wide rows across cake, about 1/2 in. deep, leaving a 1/2-in. border at outside edges of cake.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve berry blue gelatin in 3/4 cup boiling water. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into a 2-cup measuring cup; add enough ice cubes to measure 1-1/4 cups. Stir into gelatin until slightly thickened. Scoop out and discard any remaining ice cubes. Repeat, making strawberry gelatin.
  • In a small bowl, combine strawberries and 1 cup strawberry gelatin. In another bowl, combine blueberries and 1 cup blue gelatin. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or just until soft-set (save remaining gelatin for another use).
  • Stir gelatin mixtures. Slowly pour blueberry mixture into rectangle; spoon strawberry mixture into stripes.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy; beat in the confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Add marshmallow creme; beat until light and fluffy. Spread 1 cup over sides and top edge of cake.
  • Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag; insert a large star tip. Fill the bag with remaining frosting. Pipe frosting in between rows of strawberry gelatin and around edges of cake. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until gelatin is set. Yield: 15 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 438 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 81 mg cholesterol, 363 mg sodium, 67 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 4 g protein.

Flag Cake published in Taste of Home USO Flag Cake Campaign

So all you cake lovers, here you go. Happy baking.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

12 Tips for Maintaining a Journal Writing Practice with Tina M. Games

Welcome to day five of Tina M. Games 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour as she discusses trips for maintaining journal writing.

Hi, I'm Tina M. Games, author of Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery.

Because journal writing is such a big part of my writing life, I'd like to share with you 12 tips on how you can create and maintain a comfortable journal writing practice to support your journey as a writer.

Remember, there are no hard-set rules for keeping a journal. How often you write, how much time you spend, and how rigorously you maintain a regular journaling schedule are matters of personal choice and circumstance. What seems a comfortable writing schedule for one may seem unbearably formal to another. And while an individual living alone may have hours of solitude and enormous flexibility in terms of time, a parent with small children may have very little of either. So it is of primary importance to find what works for you.

The following general guidelines, however, may help you to establish journal writing as a regular and enduring habit.
1. Allow regular writing times.   Find a time of day that works well for you and use this time every day. As much as possible, control interruptions during this time.
2. Create a proper writing environment.   If you need quiet space, try to find a time that you can write without the noise and interruption from friends and family. If the hum of the world around you is soothing rather than distracting, plan to write during a time when other people will be engaged in their own work and not looking over your shoulder.
3. Develop a centering ritual.   Associating journaling with another pleasurable habit can help to strengthen the routine and create an atmosphere of self-nurturing. When you are ready to write in your journal, consider pouring yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Play relaxing music. Take a moment for meditation, deep breathing, or prayer.
4. Date every entry.   If you only establish one habit in your journal, let it be this one. Dating every entry allows you to chronologically reconstruct your journal by date. It also gives you the opportunity to observe cycles, trends and patterns. Over time, you'll begin to notice and plan your down times, your creative times, and your introspective times.
5. Prompt yourself with a routine self-reflection question:   If you tend to have trouble starting, prompt yourself with a routine question, such as "What am I feeling right now?" or "What's on my mind?"
6. Write quickly.   You can outsmart dreaded "journal block" by writing so fast that the Internal Critic and the Internal Censor can't catch up. Writing quickly also provides much more ready access to subconscious information, because you're not as liable to be thinking about what you're writing.
7. Tell yourself the truth.   Your own truth is not your enemy. Don't try to talk yourself out of knowing what you know or feeling what you feel. You'll get the best results in your journal if you give yourself permission to write your own truth.
8. Write because you want to write, not because you have to.  Don't allow journaling to become an obligation or chore. Remember not to demand more of yourself than you can give. If you have missed a day - or several days - accept that journaling, like life, is imperfect. Just write the next time you have a chance.
9. Create a positive feedback loop.   As you continue to use the journal as an opportunity to be with and learn about yourself, you will find that the practice gains a momentum of its own. Discovering your own hidden depths piques your curiosity and stimulates you to continue, setting up a positive feedback loop between your conscious and unconscious mind.
10. Emphasize process rather than product.   An important purpose of journal writing is simply expressing and recording your thoughts and feelings. Concentrate on the process of writing - keeping the flow of words going, rather than worrying about the end result. If your goal is to have a specific audience read your piece, go back to it later and edit it. You can always use your journal as the raw material for more polished writing.
11. Learn from your own experiences.   After just a few weeks or months of keeping a journal, go back to earlier journal entries. See how you've changed. Look for patterns and correlations between your stress levels and your health. How does stress affect your energy levels? See what helped your general mood improve by opening up journal entries that precede an increase in your mood ratings. Learn from your own experiences. Use the objectivity of time to review your life from a different perspective that you had when you wrote the journal entries.
12. Have fun!!   Journal writing is its own reward. Once you get started, your journal will become another one of your good friends - one who is always available and who has the time to listen attentively.

Thank you for allowing me to connect with you here today! Join me tomorrow as I share with you what's on the horizon for me and some workshops and programs that may be of interest to you.

Follow Day 6 of Ms. Games' tour tomorrow at

Friday, May 20, 2011

On the Go with Award-Winning Author Renee Hand

Welcome to day five of Renee Hand’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour as she discusses workshops and author visits.  

I am busy with many author events throughout the year. Every month I have something going on. I get heavily requested to teach my writing workshops. Schools around the country ask me to come to their schools and talk about my books and/or do a writing workshop. My writing workshop is engaging and inspirational. Students will be amazed as their test scores improve.

I have children’s books that range from Pre-K to 1st grade, 2nd and 3rd grade as well as books for 4th grade and up into middle school. I have over 25 years of writing experience with 9 books published. Four of my books have won various awards. I have participated in over 200 events since my first book was published. I have programs for each age group that are interactive and fun. I am also a great speaker and come highly recommended. When I go into schools or do any author event, it is memorable. I am always looking for new opportunities and love to participate in author events.

Follow Day 6 of Ms. Hands tour tomorrow at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

To me, one of the nicest things about being a writer is the wonderful friends I've met along the way. The authors I know share with others, they encourage others, and they do the "happy dance" with you when there's good news. They also understand when the news is less than happy. Thanks to one of my dear friends and author, Darby Karchut, for the Stylish Blogger Award. Now, it is my pleasure to award it to seven wonderful bloggers.








Many others could be listed here, as well.

In keeping with tradition, here are seven things you might want to know about me.

1.  I was an actress: Sleeping Beauthy in summer camp when I was 10.

2.  My children were already born before I went to the university.

3.  I fell off a mountain and landed on my head.

4.  I've been married for 54 years.

5.  Elvis Presley was my idol and I was in his fan club.

6.  When I was in Jr. and Sr. high school I was a majorette with the band.

7.  For 22 years I taught in elementary school, from grades 2 - 5.

Your turn, Stylish  Bloggers, to tell us about your awesome selves.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What I've Been Doing Lately

These pictures are from last fall, but I've been watching the deer lately. Everytime they come up to eat, I think of Bambi. He's one of my favorite characters. I need to set the camera up again so we can keep track of new fawns that should be arriving in May and June. Now that's a beautiful sight. They're so precious.

Notice the legs behind the doe. Her wee one.

Aren't they cute?

Back for dessert.

The whole family came to dinner.

Have a lovely weekend. Take time to enjoy our beautiful world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

My email brought me the best news this morning. The second nice thing that's happened to me this week. And I really needed my spirits lifted cause 2011 has been a rough year so far. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines has been named a Finalist in the Novella category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. At first I thought there was a mistake. I entered the teen division. The letter went on to explain that they sometimes put a book in a different category if they feel it fits there better. My book is short, so I'm happy. I don't have all the details yet, will post again when I know more. It will be published at the site Indie Book Awards with the other Finalists and Winners in the next few weeks. It will also be listed in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards catalog, distributed at Book Expo America later this month.

Now I can breathe.

Have an awesome week, friends.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Global eBook Awards

Quote of the Week:  If you see someone today without a smile, give them one of yours. Unknown. I had a poster in my classroom of a cute dog that said this.

I'm happy to announce that my YA Historical Fiction, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, has been nominated for the Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards.

While having votes and comments isn't supposed to make a difference in the judging, (they'll base the winners on the book), I would appreciate comments and your votes. If you have a spare minute, please stop by the Contest Site and say "Hi." You'll also see 5 little e letters at the top, on the left side. When you hold your pointer over the e on the right it says: "You gotta read this one." I've been leaving comments on all my friends pages, and I'm discovering some new stories that sound interesting.

Thanks, all. You're the best. If any of you are entered, please let me know, and I'll be there in a flash.

Have a great week. Happy reading and writing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

From Student to Teacher to Writer

For twenty-two years I taught in the public schools, everything from second grade to fifth grade. Those years were so much fun as well as a lot of work. Today, almost everywhere I go I meet former students. Recently I attended a book signing by one of my students who is now a mother and author. Her book is Single Woman Seeks Perfect Man, Facing the Consequences of Unhealthy Relationships, by Dani Miser.

Publisher: Deep River Books

ISBN: 1-935265-27-X
ISBN: 978-1-93265-27-6

2010, Soft Cover, 207 pages

About the author:

When I knew Dani, she was a sweet fifth-grader. Then she grew up and became a lovely young woman. According to her bio from the back cover of her book, she and her husband started working with CARES, an apartment-based ministry. She partnered with churches to organize community outreach projects and did Bible studies. Her book encourages others in their relationships with Christ. She speaks on a regular basis.

Single Woman Seeks Perfect Man tells Dani's story as well as the stories of many other couples who have been helped through Dani and her husband's work. She also quotes scripture to emphasize her message.

So if you know someone who is in a troubleing relationship, this is the book for them.

(My copy is signed by the author.) It is so nice to see the children I once taught succeed in the grown-up world.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Children's Book Week

Children's Book Week is celebrated May 2-8 this year. According to the CBW website, the celebration started in 1919. Check out the history of this countrywide event at Children's Book Week. And take a look at these neat posters.
That was then.

This is now.

Do you have any special plans to celebrate this week? If so, we'd love too hear them.

Happy Reading and Writing.