Monday, May 2, 2016

Travel Season and Candied Pecans!

Since most of the book fairs and festivals are in the spring and the fall, these are my busy travel seasons. In my last post, I shared about my time at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival and the authors and illustrators I spent time with. Then I came home to the every day business of taking Emily to her Terra Nova Testing, Children's Church, and taking myself to the dentist. That wasn't nearly as much fun as the book fair, especially since I have to go back after I return from this coming week's trip to the Hudson Children's Book Festival. I'm not looking forward to getting my last wisdom tooth pulled, but I am going to be brave.



In anticipation of my upcoming trip, I have been making candied pecans for my friends. They are super easy, but they do require turning every fifteen minutes for an hour. And they pack into Wilton pretzel bags beautifully. I'm looking forward to meeting friends at Hudson as well as making some new ones.  One of the new friends I hope to make is Beth Ferry, author of Stick and Stone. I reviewed this book a while back and it is seriously worth mentioning again. It is a beautiful story of friendship and sticking up for others.


I will most certainly tell you about all my friends including the new ones and all this year's new book offerings next week when I return. Meanwhile, I will leave you with the recipe for the pecans. Once you eat these, you will have to use unusual powers of self control to stop at just one serving. Yes, they are that good!

1 pound Pecans
1 egg white
1 TBS water
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a stand mixer, beat egg white and water until foamy. Add nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly coated in egg mixture. In a small bowl mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour over nuts and stir until evenly coated. Spread out on a large baking sheet. Place in oven and set time for fifteen minutes. When timer goes off, turn nuts with a metal spatula. Do this every fifteen minutes for an hour. Allow nuts to cool thoroughly before placing in an airtight container.

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 and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

SOKYBF 2016

Sorry this post is a little later then normal, but we didn't get home from Kentucky until late. Kentucky, our home away from home. The place where I attend the Southern Kentucky Book Festival while my family visits relatives and rides horses.

Kentucky

 
Author Table at SOKY 2016

And if you've never been to a book festival or fair, I recommend them heartily. I recommend them because they are an extraordinary place to find great books by authors and illustrators you know and love as well as authors and illustrators you don't yet know but might come to love. It's a place to make great new friends and visit long time friends. It's a place of wonder and a place I love to be a part of!

Southern Kentucky Book Festival
Debbie Dadey, Ginny Smith, and Me

This year I reunited with some of my besties like Lori Moore, Debbie Dadey, and Mark Wayne Adams, Emily's favorite illustrator.

Me, George, and Lori Moore

Debbie Dadey and Me

Mark Wayne Adams and Emily

I once again had the privilege of sitting next to Gail Nall, and enjoyed catching up with Jessica E. Young, Alison Lyne, Susan Eaddy, Matt Payne, Bruce Kessler, Kristin Tubb, and Mike Norris.

Gail Nall and Debbie Dadey
Gail Nall, Debbie Dadey, and Me





Me and Kristin Tubb

Jessica E. Young and New Friend Kay Whitehouse

In addition, I met some fabulous new friends like Gary Cieradkowski, Amanda Driscol, Kay Whitehouse, Margo Smith, Sara Celi, and I finally got to meet FB friend Julie Danielson. Despite reveling in children's books, I also have friends in other genres, friends like Ginny Smith, Carey Corp, Lori Langdon, and new friend Ray Peden, whom I was equally excited to see.

Susan Eaddy, Linda Hawkins, Julie Danielson, and Gary Cieradkowski


Margo Smith



So if you weren't as blessed as I was and weren't able to attend the Southern Kentucky Book Festival, be sure to check out these great books online at Barnes and Noble or Amazon!

















 

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 and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 























Monday, April 18, 2016

Crazy Good

This past week was crazy good, and by that, I mean it was busy with some crazy and some good days. The crazy involved me at an eye screening appointment and the receptionist telling me my husband's insurance was canceled at the end of March. You can probably imagine my dismay! It turned out to be a company wide glitch which canceled everyone's eye insurance. The HR department failed to let anyone know of the problem or that they were working to correct the situation. The situation is now resolved, but I spent an hour at the optometrist and ended up leaving without my eye screening. I guess I will reschedule when I get back from the Southern Kentucky Book Festival taking place this next weekend.


The good days included attending Cookbook Club with Emily. The theme was salads, so she made a delicious orange fluff jello salad while I made an eight layer salad. Both recipes were a combination of parts of recipes I had found but wasn't quite happy with. The orange fluff tasted divine and might just be our new family get together go-to dessert. In case you want to try it for yourself, just grab:

1 box orange jello
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 container non dairy whipped topping
1 can crushed pineapple (undrained)
2 small or 1 large can mandarin oranges (drained)
2 cups mini marshmellows

Simply mix all ingredients together well, chill, and serve!


The good days also included the wheather warming up enough for me to grill ribs which we ate outside. We ended that day with a mini bonfire on the patio. And, I rounded out the good days by attending a SCBWI Ohio North Critique Meet Up. Lisa Amstutz, author of science books like Robins (Backyard Birds), was a wonderful moderator, and she helped me figure out just how to polish up a few of my manuscripts for submission.


All in all the good outweighed the crazy as often it does, and that left me with time to head over to the SCBWI and vote for the Krystal Kite nominee of my choice in the Midwest division. I looked all the selections over carefully, admired many if not all of them, and finally chose to vote for Uh-Oh by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Patricia Barton. It is a delightful book with adorable illustrations and shows one family's trip to the beach. The Uh-Ohs in the book are the crazy unexpected moments the children experience at the beach much like my crazy no insurance moment I experienced. And much like me, the children quickly moved past the crazy and embraced the good. This book is perfect for parents and children from two to six.


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 and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Welcome to Japan!

This past week was spent in a whir of activity as we got ready for an Around The World Event sponsored by our Independent Studies Home School Group. All the children participating were to choose a country, a historical event, or a something similar to give a presentation on. Emily chose Japan because she had lots of  display items her father had brought home from his work trip last year.

She gathered facts, found pictures for her display board, and retrieved all her Japanese memorabilia from various parts of the house. I took it upon myself to create a costume from thrift store items. I scoured the second-hand shops until I found a silky robe that looked oriental in pattern, but it had a very narrow belt that just wouldn't do because traditional kimonos are worn with an obie (a wide silk sash). I kept searching until I finally found a single, silky, black curtain. It was two panels with an attached valance, and I knew if I cut off one of the floor length panels I could whip it into a obie of sorts on my handy dandy sewing machine. Although not exactly authentic, most of the audience loved Emily's make-shift robe and actually thought it was the real deal. Resplendent in costume finished off with Japanese toe socks and flip flops, Emily gave a great presentation.




Before the presentation, we all partook in a dinner. Each family prepared a main dish or salad and a dessert corresponding to the country or historical event that their child or children had chosen. I made fried rice and Japanese Kasutera Sponge Cake. I found the recipe and a wonderful video at a site called Japanese Cooking 101. This cake was super easy to make if you decide you and your family want to try some ethnic cuisine.


 

There were quite a few families participating, so they divided them up into two groups in two separate rooms. The other children in our group also did fabulous jobs.


After all the learning and fun was done, it got me to thinking about some books I've read and enjoyed with Japanese main characters. The first, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, takes the reader back to WWII and the sad period in our history where we rounded up citizens based on their heritage and an irrational fear. It is am excellent picture book depicting the proud way in which the Japanese detainees held on to a small piece of normalcy and beauty.


The second book, Hana Hashimoto, is the story of a girl who's love of music and her persistence helps her achieve her dream of playing her Violin in the school talent contest. The author, Chieri Uegaki, has also written another book called, Suki's Kimono, which I have not read, but I would love to.



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 and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Lost and Found

This past week started in March and ended in April. It started out warm and spring like and ended on a cold note. While it was sunny and pleasant I found myself snapping more pictures of our resident cardinals and helping Emily with her Japanese project for school.





When it turned colder, I made a pot of vegetable beef soup, sat in front of the fire my husband made, and hoped my beautiful spring flowers would survive the unusual April snow that found us when spring seemed to be lost.





And speaking of Lost and Found, I found some beautiful books in my library stack this week. One by author friend Marsha Diane Arnold aptly named Lost. Found. One by author friend Tammi Sauer called Nugget and Fang. And one by an author/illustrator that I am unfamiliar with but would love to get to know called Love From A Star.

Marsha's Lost. Found. is a deliciously simple book that pretty much uses only the words lost and found to tell the story of a bear who has lost his scarf, the subsequent animals that find it and then lose it along the way, and bears eventual reuniting with said scarf. In addition, the beautiful illustrations by Matthew Cordell pull the story gently along.


Tammi's Nugget and Fang is a story of unlikely friendship, the friendship between a toothy shark and a mini minnow. They are the best of friends until Nugget has to go to school and is continually told that minnows and sharks can not be friends. Fang is heartbroken over this and does everything in his power to show Nugget they can and should be friends. Nothing works until the entire class of minnows finds themselves in trouble__ trouble that only Fang can help them out of.
 

And finally, Love From a Star by Katherine Cutchin Gazzetta which is a wonderful story reminding the reader of each star's infinite beauty and God's love for each of us. The illustrations are beyond cute and almost make me a little jealous of Miss Katherines's dual talent.

 
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 and join the Literacy Musings Monday Blog Hop where you will find other great blogs, or my personal website, Fun With Aileen, where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own early grade Fern Valley chapter book series and my Quack and Daisy picture book series. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.