Monday, March 27, 2017

Friends

Everybody wants to find a really good friend or two, and while I do have a some very wonderful local friends, I've also been blessed with a small group of literary besties. It has been my good fortune to be able to meet and hang out with these  fantastic people at events I attend. This weekend I attended such an event when I participated in the Marion Library's Read Local Author Fair, and I was thrilled to see my fellow Ohio author bestie Deborah Bence Boerema, proud book mother of The Innkeeper's Dog.



Deb and I met several years ago through our publisher and have since formed a close bond. We are sounding boards for each other when things seem bleakest. We are cheerleaders for each other, encouraging continued growth in our writings. And we even share the occasional recipe. Deb's Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread is divine!

Deb and I usually only see each other in the fall and once in a blue moon in the spring, but this year we are planning on attending Nerd Camp this July, and I can hardly wait. Not only will we connect with teachers, illustrators, and other authors, this will be the first true test of our friendship__ we will stay overnight in a hotel. Here's hoping that neither of us snore.


At this weekend's event, I also met my social media friend Meghan Colvin for the first time. I can already tell that Meghan is going to be part of my literary bestie group which includes Deb, author Laura Eckroat, author Lori A Moore, author Lisa Tortorello, author Phyllis Griggs, author/illustrator Mark Wayne Adams, author Gail Nall, author/illustrator David Biedrzycki, author Paul Czajak, and author David A Kelly.


 




 
 


 


This group of fabulously talented people makes me want to be a better writer, they cheer me on, they encourage me not to give up, they help me revise and polish my work, they put up with damp shoulders when I need a good cry, they give me tips for achieving better rhyme when mine stinks, and they never ever tell me I talk too much even if they're thinking it!

And so of course, this week's reading selection from my library pile is about (drum role please...) friendship. I know, shocking isn't it. The book I read is Friends to the Rescue by Suzanne Chiew. It is a beautiful story of Badger, Mouse, Hedgehog, Rabbit, and how they work together to help rescue their new friend mole. The illustrations are colorful and quite adorable as to boot.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Grandparents Day, The Deer and Turkey Expo, and a Book Prize

This past week we celebrated Grandparents Day at the Independent Studies division of Mansfield Christian School. I usually volunteer in some capacity, and taking pictures of all the grandparents with their grands ended up becoming my job this time aropund. The picture of Emily with my mother-in-law is especially dear to me because MaMaw is the last remaining grandparent Emily has. And on top of that, this beautiful eighty-year-old woman made the effort of changing her doctor appointment so she could spend the afternoon with Emily!



We also went on an excursion this weekend. Emily and I joined my husband and my sister, and we attended the Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo in Columbus, Ohio. Now Emily and I aren't particularly interested in Hunting, Fishing, and the likes, but I am trying to teach her the value of sacrificial giving. You know, doing things with and for others that you wouldn't normally choose to do because you love them.

But I have to say, the event wasn't nearly as grueling as I anticipated. We sampled and bought some really delicious elk jerky. We found a booth with several varieties of honey, and the hubby's purchase turned out to be blueberry honey. For those of you not familiar with honey, that simply means the bees pollinated a field of blueberries, and the result from that particular plant created a uniquely flavored honey. We also viewed some extraordinary taxidermy. All in all I'd say it was a good adventure.




And finally, a book arrived in the mail. It is one of the two books that I received as a prize for winning tenth place in the 2017 Valentiny Contest. It is titled, Where Are The Words? and is written by Jodi McKay. Where Are The Words? is a interesting story about how a story is formed and the importance of punctuation. Period wants to write a story but doesn't know where to begin. With the aide of his other punctuation friends, the words they collect turn into something larger.



Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.




Monday, March 13, 2017

A Dog, A Groundhog, and A Cat

Whew! Today's post is running a little late, but it was kind of crazy last week. Emily had choir rehearsal and church on Wednesday evening, the band/choir gala on Thursday evening, and Speech Meet on Friday. That , together with the time change (sigh, groan) put me off of my game a little. Oh, and I almost forgot, I added 4000 words to the MG manuscript I'm working on.




So when I woke up this morning and realized I had not yet written my Monday book review, I snatched two books off the shelf and got busy. Since everyone loves dogs, groundhogs, and cats_okay maybe just dogs and cats; my selections contain those furry friends.

The first book, Me and My Cat, is a wonderful story of the true nature of cats. Cats are picky, obstinate, their own beings. Cats like things on their own terms. I know this is accurate because we own three cats, or do they own us? I also like this book because at the end there are directions from cat on how to treat your cat.

 
A Greyhound A Groundhog reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book. The same handful of words were arranged and rearranged on every page. It was a simple yet fun book that I think children from four to eight will enjoy.

 
So there you have it. two great books. Find them at your library or chose something totally different. Either way, be sure to read with or to your kiddos!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.






Monday, March 6, 2017

Breakfast, Rocks, and Painting

This past week Emily and I volunteered at The Flamin' Hot Breakfast. The Flamin' Hot Breakfast is the fundraiser for our home school branch of Mansfield Christain School. Emily always signs up to bus tables and I sign up to decorate a table. I chose a Valentine type theme for our family's table_ Home School is Sweet. I made valentine hearts that had all of our subjects on them and printed off pictures of Emily's field trips, art projects, and science experiments. Thankfully I took a picture of the vase I used for the center piece because I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product.



This past week we were still working on painting rocks for the new group we joined, North Central Ohio Rocks as well. Emily finished her lady bug and I am working on a bee. I still have to paint the wings and antenna as well as give it a clear coat.


I kept taking the rock we found with me, so we could leave it somewhere new for another individual to find. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting it was in the deep recesses of my purse. Finally, I gave it to Emily. She went with a friend to see the Lego Batman movie and promised to leave at the theater somewhere.

This week my reading selection involved painting, a painting elephant to be precise. Ellie, by Mike Wu, is the story of an elephant who wants to help keep her zoo from closing down. Ellie becomes downhearted when she can't seem to find a talent like all the other animals, but one day she stumbles upon a paint brush and an artist is born.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge

As you all know, I love writing contests and challenges. Not only are they fun to see if I can adhere to strict guidelines, but they are a great way to improve my writing. This latest challenge is hosted by Vivian Kirkfield and is the toughest challenge I've entered so far. The story must be told in a mere fifty words or less. I managed to keep mine to 45!





A New Dog

He followed me home.

No.

I’ll Feed him and walk him.

No.

I’ll give him a flea bath.

No.

I’ll buy him a collar and a bone.

I don’t think so.

I’ll teach him to come when called.

Maybe.

We can name him Fred.

Fine.

Monday, February 27, 2017

It's Winter Still

That warm spell last week gave me a false sense that spring had arrived. I worked in the yard cleaning up leaves and debris. I even opened the windows briefly. But all good things come to an end, and the frigid air a snow have returned reminding me that it is still February.

But, even the cold of February couldn't dampen Emily's and my enthusiasm for a new group we have joined. What group is it you ask? North Central Ohio Rocks. It is a rock painting group that leaves painted rocks at random locations for people to find. Just days after a fb friend invited us to join, we found a rock at the grocery store. It happened to be a rock from a sister site Northeast Ohio Rocks, but it definitely inspired us to get painting. We finished our first two rocks (mine is the owl and Emily's is the pastel) and are working on our second two.


 

And of course, since we still are officially in winter, I read some wintry books. The first was titled, Red Sled. It is the story of a son and dads day of sledding and how it makes them glad. Told in extremely simple rhyme, this book would be perfect for that child just beginning to read on their own.
 

I also read Plants In Winter, a non fiction science book for the very young giving a simple picture of what happens to plants in the winter. The pictures are beautifully photographed winter scenes that are pretty familiar about now.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Big Adventures

When you hear the term "big adventure" what do you think of? Do you think of a cruise of a lifetime, moving to another state with no job, or perhaps starting a family? Yes, those are definitely big adventures, but in my opinion, every day life is a big adventure.

After all, when you wake up each morning, do you really have any idea what the day might encompass? Yes, you have plans to do the dishes, eat lunch, and take out the trash; but what about all the unexpected moments you have to look forward to?

Moments like hearing your daughter's name announced as first place winner in the children's category for your local library's Chocolate Lovers Bake Off. Of course, it was my hope that she would win, but I had no idea whether or not she would. I also managed to snag a second place in desserts for my Samoa Cookie Pie.


Another great big moment of my week turned out to be the arrival of a special package. It was from second grade teacher Jene Daub and the second grade classes from North Tama Elementary. The package contained thirty brightly colored letters, a teacher letter, and a book the children had made based on my Quack and Daisy characters. The book they created was for a classmate battling cancer, and the proceeds will go to him. They added a character of their own, a donkey called Jon Jon, and even illustrated it themselves.



To me opening the mail is always an adventure, but opening this special mail was a big adventure involving love. After all, how can you not fall in love with children who send you rainbow colored letters eschewing your awesome writing talents (their words not mine, lol).


So go forth and gloriously anticipate your next big adventure whatever it may be. And while your at it, read about Hetbie's Big Adventure like I did. Herbie the hedgehog goes foraging on his own for the first time and has an adventure, an unexpected adventure, a big adventure!

 
Oh, and here is Emily's winning recipe as promised last week. You might as well start your next big adventure with a treat involving chocolate!


Mini Oreo Mousse Cheesecakes

For the Oreo Crust:
16 whole Oreos crushed
1/4 cup butter- melted

For the cheesecake filling:
16 oz. cream cheese- softened to room temperature  
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour crème
1 TBS flour
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate mousse:
3 egg yolks
6 TBS powdered sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 oz. semisweet baking chocolate-finely chopped
4-5 Oreos crushed
16 mini Oreo cookies for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees, line cupcake pans with 16 liners, set aside. Stir together melted butter and finely crushed Oreo. Press 1 heaping Tablespoon of mixture into the bottom of each liner. Bake for 5 minutes and allow to slightly cool.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth. Add the sugar and sour cream and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating on low speed after each. Beat in the vanilla and flour. Spoon the batter onto the crusts until almost full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.

In a medium sauce pan stir together egg yolks, powdered sugar, and 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream. Cook over low heat until it thickens and almost doubles in size WHISK CONSTANTLY. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and stir until melted. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Separately beat remaining 1 2/3 cups heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk one fourth of whipped cream into chocolate custard to lighten. Fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly. Stir in crushed Oreos Pipe onto cheesecakes. Refrigerate.  Remove paper liners and garnish with mini Oreos before serving.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.