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.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ada Lovelace and Penguins

When you read this, Emily and I will either be getting ready for our Library's 17th Annual Chocolate Lovers Bake Off or we will have learned the outcome. I promise to let you know next week if we won or not, and I will share one of our recipes, so be sure to drop by again!


Meanwhile, during the past week it was business as usual. We did our school work, I worked on the seemingly never ending array of dishes and laundry, and we had a visitor. This week's visitor was the feathered kind instead of the furry kind. I do love my backyard wildlife. So glad the hubby puts out suet, and we have multiple feeders!


And speaking of homework, Emily finished reading a most fabulous book called The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency. She read it  out loud to me, so I can promise you I am not exaggerating when I say fabulous. From the end papers to the final notes, this book is truly a work of art. Author Jordan Stratford has taken real life individuals like Mary Shelley, Lady Ada Lovelace, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens just to name a few and has created a work of fiction that will leave you wanting more. He pairs lady Ada and Mary Shelley as unlikely friends that form a detective agency and their first case leads them on an amazing journey to catch a thief. I find this to be a perfect book for mystery loving children in sixth to eighth grade.


Having also read Ada Lovelace - First Computer Programmer put out by PowerKids Press, I appreciated this fictional masterpiece even more. Lady Ada's real life wasn't nearly as exciting or as pleasant as the fictional one Mr. Stratford created and she unfortunately passed away at the age of 36.


And I read finally, I wrapped up this week up with a picture book entitled Little Penguins in honor of the snow that was finally deep enough for Emily to go sledding. This book by Cynthia Rylant is sure to be a pleaser for the pre-k to first grade crowd. The words are sparse allowing the illustrator to do his part in telling the story.


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. 


Friday, February 10, 2017

The Second Annual Valentiny Contest!

I don't know about you, but I adore contests, and I am definitely eager to participate in one hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill. This one is the Second Annual Valentiny Contest, and the entire story is limited to no more than 214 words, has to include a character that is confused, and must be written for children.

So here goes__





A Mixed Up Valentine (180 words)

Charlie Thomas carefully cut and pasted, glittered and glued, wrote and colored. Then, he sat back and admired the valentine he’d made for Rose. Charlie had adored Rose since Kindergarten, and every year he created a special card just for her.

When he finished admiring the card, he carefully placed it on her desk and returned to his seat. Just then, Sam passed down that aisle. The breeze he created when passing caused the card to float to the floor next to Jenny’s desk.

Jenny entered the class shortly afterwards and noticed what she thought was a note. She picked it up, looked around, and decided it was for her. Carefully she unfolded the heart shaped card and began to read. She smiled at the signature that said__ Love Charlie.

Jenny had adored Charlie Smith since kindergarten. She walked to Charlie’s desk, bent down so they were eye to eye, and hugged him around his neck. Charlie turned bright red. He wasn’t sure why Jenny had hugged him, but he had admired her since kindergarten, so he didn’t mind at all.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Valentines, Visitors, and Various Other Stuff

This past week could be called the week of V's. Since we are nearing Valentine's Day, Emily and I have been working on some heart art. First, she drew and colored a fantastic adult coloring book style heart. Then, we both made black hearts with designs. Mine is on the top and hers is on the bottom. We also threw in a light experiment for science.





My personalized license plates arrived and I put them on my car!


While we were having lessons on Thursday, we had a visitor. Since the hubby put a large metal piece around the pole to our bird feeder the visitors can't climb and steal seeds, but this one seemed content to scour for seeds the birds had scattered below. Emily also practiced her recipe for the Chocolate Lovers Bake Off coming up at our local library.



And finally, we modeled some LulaRoe fashions for a friend who was having a vendor party at her shop down town. Emily's friend, Katie joined in the modeling fun. The leggings are indeed soft as butter like I've heard, but boy are those patterns on the wild side.

Amidst all the various forms of school and fun, I still managed to read Little Why by Jonny Lambert. Little Why is a curious elephant that wants to be similar to every one he meets or sees, but all his mom ever tells him is get back in line. However, when they arrive at their destination, Little Why discovers why he doesn't need to be like anyone else.


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, January 30, 2017

Ideas

As I've mentioned before, for the month of January, I am participating in Tara Lazar's Story Storm. The premise is to come up with at least one idea for a story for each day of the month. As the month draws to a close, I am excited to share that I already have over thirty ideas and have also managed to write four picture book first drafts.


Talk about feeling euphoric! Besides coming up with an idea every day, Miss Tara scheduled a different author or illustrator to post an article on her blog about how to garner ideas. One of the tips was to take something ordinary and put a new spin on it. Another tip was to ask yourself what if. And I did both.

Last week during Emily's birthday party, the girls played hide-and-seek. So I began to take phrases from the game and ask myself what if. I came up with what I hope is an interesting and viable picture book story. And while only time will tell, I am pleased with my progress and I am so very glad to have participated!

But never fear, I still made time to read and review an already existing picture book called, A Well Mannered Young Wolf. This story was not what I expected and the ending was quite funny. The well mannered, but hungry wolf, goes hunting for something to eat. several times he catches prey but something always goes awry. I don't want to give away too much, so I will suffice to say this book is definitely worth a read.


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, January 23, 2017

Birthdays and Bunnies

This past week was a mixed lot as far as life's emotional roller coaster ride. I found out through FB that my publisher closed their doors, and I have no idea as of yet what that means. Time will tell, and while I wait, I will continue to work at improving my craft and gaining the notice of an agent.

On a cheerier note, this past weekend was also Emily's Birthday, and she got a double dose of birthday fun. On Friday evening, Bobby, My sister, and I took Emily and two friends to a birthday dinner at The Golden Corral. Before we left they played some kind of a jelly bean where they had identical looking jelly beans and some were tasty while some were plain down right gross. Flavors like barf and booger. I have no idea why one would want to eat gross flavored jelly beans, but the girls seemed to have a giggly good time.

 



On Saturday we hosted a party that was attended by her cousin and her school mates. We wore funny glasses. We played birthday bingo. We played hot potato. We played remember what's in the box. And we played a game called Spoons. Every girl received a spoon and they had to pass a mini Reese cup without using hands. It was much more difficult then one would think and made for some truly laughable moments.



And when the partying was over, I found time to do my weekly reading. Bunnies on Ice found its way into my hands and became this week's choice for review. Sparse on words but not on story, this story is a tale of childhood, ice skating, and self confidence. One patient and determined bunny waits all year to be a champion ice skater and when the time comes, she gives it her all and enjoys each moment. This book would be perfect for children ages four to eight.



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.