On pretty days it can be awfully hard to stay inside. If you are in the mood to do some drawing being outside can be a problem. The wind likes to play with your paper and can even send it sailing away! Chasing your drawings might be fun once or twice, but it can get pretty frustrating after a while. That’s why Bart had the idea to create a rock buddy to help him keep his drawing paper in one place. Now his special works of art stay right where he wants them even if you has to go find extra crayons or his glue. Bart decided he wanted his rock buddy to be a green spider. He named it Biff just to be silly.
What will your rock buddy be? Will you give it a silly name too? Here’s all you need to do to make your own and find out just how helpful they are!
What you need:
1 Nice Stone (flatter stones are much easier to draw on than stones with lots of points and bumps, but you should pick the one you like best)
Markers (regular washable markers work just fine, but remember, they may wear off over time)
School Glue (optional)
Googley Eyes (optional, but very fun)
What you do:
1) Really look at your rock. Does it remind you of a snail? Does it look like it should just have one big face on it? Maybe that one corner looks just like a puppy nose should be on it… and his eyes could go right there… and his big floppy ears might hang just like that…
2) Use your markers to draw your creation right onto the rock! Make sure to color it in so you have a nice and bright new rock buddy to help you out! (If you need help, ask your big person, they won’t mind!)
3) If you have some googley eyes or other special decorations, use the white glue to stick them on in the right places.
4) Give your new rock buddy some time to dry – it shouldn’t take too long. You can think up a name while you wait.
5) Now all that’s left to do is find your rock buddy some paper to hold down so you can make a beautiful work of art outside!
Mother Bat wanted me to tell you that Biff is a great help for her as well. She borrows Bart’s rock buddy to hold picnic napkins in place!
While it is moving along in fits and spurts, I have been making headway on the newest book. The manuscript has been laying around gathering dust for far too long. It was written for my beautiful niece, Sheridan. She is currently creeping ever closer to the double digit years, so my picture book may be a bit young for her quick brain but I do think she will still enjoy the ideas it holds.
The story is about a little girl who cannot get to sleep. It employs one of my personal favorite creative visualization methods to get my brain to settle down and drift into sleep mode. I will admit, the little girl in the story has a bit more fun with it but that is only because she's young and has much more energy than this particular writer/artist *laughing*. **Spoiler Alert** By the end of the book, her journey leads her to the perfect place: sleeping soundly in her very own bed with the moon watching over her dreams.
Here is a sneak peek at some illustration details from the upcoming Sheridan Starswimmer (tentative release scheduled for September 2015.)
This week’s (very tasty) project comes straight from Mother Dragon’s kitchen. Whenever Father Dragon and Fiddlebug hear that she’s making French Toast Baskets, they know it’s going to be a great day! Mother Dragon hopes you enjoy them as much as her family does. She sent her recipe for me to share with you. Here’s how to make them:
What you need
Lot’s of soap and water to wash you hands often. Raw egg can make you sick, so you want to make sure to keep your hands very clean throughout this project.
6 eggs (2 for the French toast, and 4 for the scrambled eggs)
½ cup Milk (divided)
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Apple Slices (optional)
Muffin Tin (you may also want to try using paper baking cups if you are worried about removal)
Stove and Oven (and a big person to use both)
2 Bowls (big enough to mix scrambled eggs)
Whisk or fork to mix eggs
Pan for scrambled eggs
Plates and forks
What you do
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Wash your hands very well.
3) Use the cooking spray to grease the muffin tin.
4) Break two eggs into a bowl and add about ¼ cup of milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well with whisk or fork.
5) Dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture, letting excess mixture go back into bowl.
6) Line one muffin cup with the dipped piece of bread leaving crusts to poke out around the edge. The bread may tear, but you can just squish it back together in the cup.
7) Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the remaining bread slices so you fill the muffin tin. These are the French Toast Baskets.
8) Wash your hands well again while your big person puts the muffin tin in the oven.
9) Bake the French Toast Baskets for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are done.
10) While the French Toast Baskets are baking, break the remaining 4 eggs into a clean bowl and add the remaining milk. Mix well with whisk or fork.
11) Wash your hands very well while you have your big person add a small amount of butter to the pan and heat it on the stove.
12) When the butter is melted, add the egg mixture carefully. This and cooking the mixture into scrambled eggs may be a great job for your big person to handle.
13) When the French Toast Baskets are fully cooked, and your scrambled eggs are all done, have your big person remove the French Toast Baskets from the muffin tin.
14) Drizzle a small amount of syrup on a plate. Place a French Toast Basket on top of the syrup. Fill the French Toast Basket with scrambled eggs, and top the eggs with a little bit of shredded cheese. You can also add some sliced apples to the plate since they are so yummy and good for you.
15) Build French Toast Baskets on the remaining plates. Make sure everyone has a fork too!
16) Enjoy filling your belly with this wonderful creation!
Another major change since April is that I decided to step down as the WVWriters Inc. region 3 representative. I actually loved this job. I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Sure, it didn't come with a paycheck in the monetary way but it was an amazing way to meet and support the talented writers in my area and introduce them to the local readers who might not have known that they lived so close. I had the opportunity to work with a number of individuals and organizations who put a lot of time and effort into making our world a better place. I had the privilege of adding my efforts to that mix. So, why did I step down? Well, the simple answer to that question is: It was time. Prior to this position, I was on the organization's board as 1st VP for 2 years. I served as rep. for a year. During that 3 years, I found that my focus really needed to be on other writers and on creating a supportive atmosphere wherever I happened to be that promoted literacy and writing - especially to the younger generation. These things are pretty important to me and I felt they needed most of my attention. It required so much, in fact, that I found that I was no longer writing. It's an odd sort of thing to try to nudge others into doing something that you can't seem to find time for in your own life. It started to really bother me while setting up the Alderson event. Also, I have always been "selectively social" and on the shy side. Once I get to know someone and find my comfort zone with them, I'm fine but dealing with new people - especially when I need to ask them to do things for me - is something that I find emotionally exhausting. The rep position requires a lot of social energy and I found that putting the time and effort that I felt the position deserved left me drained and wanting to hide in my office. Once you start putting off fun outings with friends in order to get some alone time, you have to admit to yourself that how you are doing things isn't working. Becoming a hermit is frowned upon in our society and really hurts your own book marketing plans *laughing*. I finally decided that in order to keep the position I would have to give up writing and find a way to enjoy being an extrovert. The latter is never going to happen, and the former is too painful to contemplate. So, I officially handed the position off as of July 1st. To be honest, I was a little sad when it was over. I will miss being in charge but I know that I will have ample opportunity to help the new rep and the organization in general in the future so it isn't the end of the story, just the closing of a chapter.
If you are a writer, I highly encourage you to join West Virginia Writers Inc.. You do not have to live in WV to be a member, and we are an amazing organization. The annual writing contest poses some stiff competition. The Spring Conference offers HUGE returns in motivation and creativity (it is also one of the least expensive and most jam-packed conferences you will find). We have a large and varied online presence for your convenience including an e-mail round table, blog, forum, and Facebook presence. The other members are generous in their support and advice. Check us out at the link attached to the photo. You'll be happy that you did.
Oddly enough, all that pent up creativity immediately vented into a new project. Stay tuned for a sneak preview of the results!
Bart is a bat who loves the night sky. The stars sparkling, and the moon shining down get his imagination going and he can almost picture what it would be like to stand in a crater on the moon and look down at the earth. He thinks it would look like one of his favorite marbles with all of its blues and streaks of white clouds. Fiddlebug and Craig love hearing Bart talk about space. He makes a trip to the moon sound like the best idea in the whole world! The three friends know that building a real rocket isn’t something they can do, but Craig came up with a great idea to build a very useful pretend rocket. The little frog thought of this rocket terrarium while Mother Dragon had him and Fiddlebug planting seeds to start indoors for her spring garden. Everyone had so much fun making it that they wanted to share the idea with you!
Here’s what you need:
1 two-liter bottle with the cap
1 handful of gravel
2-3 cups of potting soil
Seeds for your favorite small vegetable (I used peas. Lettuce, green onions, cherry tomatoes, etc. would work well too)
Chops sticks (optional depending on your plant choice)
1 paper towel tube
Crayons, markers, glitter glue, and other decorations
What you do:
1) Have your big person make a cut all the way around the 2 liter bottle about 1/3 of the way up from the base. You will have two parts to your bottle when they are done.
2) Fold pieces of masking tape over the edges of both the base part and the top part where it has been cut. This will help you avoid sharp edges and give the future tape a better hold when its time to put everything together.
3) Add a handful of gravel to the base. This helps excess water drain out of the soil but still keeps it available to the plant when it needs a drink.
4) Add potting soil up to about 1 inch below the edge. Pat the soil in nicely and add some water if you need to help the dirt settle better.
5) (one plant) Poke a hole into the center of the dirt. Follow the direction on your seed pack to see how deep it should be. Add your seed and tuck it in gently. (Multiple plants) If you are planting lettuce or something else that grows in bunches, make sure you follow the directions on your seed pack so you add the right number of seeds for the space.
6) If you need to add a little water for your seed, do so now. Future water will be added through the top of the two liter bottle, but this way will be easier now.
7) Put the top of the two liter bottle back onto the base and use masking tape to hold the two parts together. Your bottle should look like a bottle again.
8) Cut a strip of construction paper that is tall enough to cover your masking tape. Wrap it around the base and use the glue stick to glue it in place. You will probably have a gap between the two edges.
9) Use another strip of construction paper to fill in the gap between the edges that are covering the base of your rocket. It should reach all the way up to where the top of the bottle curves. This will also be where you name your rocket.
10) Fold a cone of construction paper that is big enough to set over the top of the bottle and look like the nose of your rocket.
11) Have your big person help you cut the paper towel tube into 3 equal parts.
12) Wrap each paper towel tube section in aluminum foil. These will look like the rockets engines.
13) It’s time to decorate your rocket! You can use crayons, markers, glitter glue, more construction paper, buttons… Anything you like!
14) Make sure your rocket has a name and put it on the strip of construction paper that goes up the side.
15) Glue the foil covered tubes to the construction paper at the base of your rocket. Put one on either side of the name strip and one in back so they are evenly spaced around the rocket.
16) Be sure the construction paper nose cone is on top of your creation!
17) Find a sunny spot to put your rocket. Vegetable plants like lots of sunlight! The seed inside should sprout and begin growing in a few days or weeks. You can check the back of your seed pack to find out how long it will take. If your seed fails to grow, you can always try again. Some seeds are just too sleepy to grow a plant.
18) Add water as needed by removing the cap and pouring a small amount inside. Terrariums hold onto most of their water, so you shouldn’t have to do this often.
19) When your plant is too big to be comfortable inside the rocket, remove the tape and carefully lift off the top to give it more room. If it grows even bigger, you may need to replant it into another container.
20) If you take good care of your plant, it will produce some healthy and tasty snacks for you!
Craig also wanted to mention that this rocket terrarium will grow other plants just as well as vegetables. He is thinking about making a whole fleet of rockets and planting everything from marigolds to Venus fly traps that like to eat bugs just like Craig does!
It is amazing how quickly 3 months can go when you are in the middle of events, projects and new ideas! I had hoped to be back to normal on the blog long before now. My apologies. I honestly didn't mean to disappear! To catch you up a bit on everything that has been going on since my last post, here is the beginning of the condensed version of my vacation from the blogging world. Since it is the longest, I'll just stick to the one update today. Enjoy!
Lions and Authors and Books... Oh My! was held in Alderson, WV on April 25th. The weather outside was miserable, but the atmosphere inside was magnificent! It is a beautiful thing to see authors working together and readers benefiting from the results. Our interactive activities were a big hit, and our presentations (although not entirely on schedule) were well attended little bubbles of amazing information. I look at it as a very positive sign that our food vendor ran out of food before the day was over! The evening's entertainment was simply beautiful. Truly an amazing day. I'm only sorry for those who didn't have the opportunity to come spend it with us. They really missed out!
I wanted to share a slide show of the our authors, their book covers and the day. It's a bit long (and my camera was acting up so some are a little fuzzy), but I hope you will take a few moments to watch and check out the links. It is not often that you have this much talent in the same room.
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!