Monday, December 2, 2013

MMGM: Mockingbird by Kathryn Eskrine

Mockingbird by Kathryn Eskrine
Ages: 10 and up

Book Description (from Amazon) - Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure- and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all.

Why it is marvelous - The age range listed on Amazon is 10 and up, but I found this book because it is on the list of nominees for the WLMA Sasquatch Award. So I know a lot of younger kids are reading it this year, which may not be a bad thing. There are some mature topics as the main character's brother dies in a school shooting, but I think the underlying theme here is bringing to light differences in people and how they can be accepted despite those differences. Anyone can be a friend, and anyone can teach us how to be a better person if we are open to those things. Hopefully the kids reading this book have paid attention and have a little more compassion because they chose to pick it up.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Quick and Easy Turkey Salad

My favorite Thanksgiving leftover is definitely turkey salad. Quick and easy to prepare, and it will disappear just as quickly. Nothing is measured so just add in the quantities that sound good to you. I am not a cook and don't use a lot of spices or know which go well together for that matter, so I just picked a few from my cabinet and threw them in. Responses for my daughter and husband were "fine" and "fine." Which from them means pretty good. I thought is was yummy, and probably would have tasted even better if I had let it sit in the refrigerator to let everything blend together.

Turkey, chopped
Celery, chopped
Red Grapes, quartered
Sprinkle of oregano
Sprinkle of sage
Sprinkle of ground mustard
Sprinkle of salt

What do you do with your leftover turkey?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

I have been wanting to try homemade granola bars for a while, but somehow thought they would be hard to make. My general plan when searching for a recipe is to type it in a search engine and use one of the first few that pop up. Lucky for me this one was in the top four when searching "how to make homemade granola bars with oatmeal."

Only 5 ingredients? Awesome!

No bake? Double-awesome!

Don't these look yummy? Oh, they are. And I even got a thumbs up from my husband who seemed genuinely surprised when he agreed they were good.

You will need to go here for the recipe which I found on the Minimalist Baker blog. I have no doubt that I will be going back there to pick up a few more new recipes! What to expect at the Minimalist Baker: Simple recipes that even the novice cook can approach. Always delicious, often sweet, never complicated.

Here are a few more shots taken while I was making these.

 I wanted my oats toasted so I started them first.

I used my Pampered Chef food chopper on the roasted almonds.

I also used the food chopper on the dates. This was kind of tricky as I had to shake them to the bottom each time but worked pretty well. I followed that up with a knife on any leftover big pieces.

These are the last two of the 5-Ingredient Granola Bars.

Makes 8 bars.

This was my first time trying a date. I still can't say I know what one tastes like because they were mixed in with the other ingredients, but in the words of the lady who works in the natural/bulk section at Fred Meyer, they are "flipping delicious." I will have to take a bite before throwing them in the bowl next time!

Hope you give these a try... and come let me know how they turned out!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Do You NaNoWriMo?

What an interesting concept. Write a (50,000) word novel in a month.

Most of you visiting my blog will know what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is, but for those of you who don't, here is the spiel from their website:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

I know a lady through scrapbooking who, when we were asked to list random facts about ourselves, said she completed NaNoWriMo. I was intrigued since I am in the process of getting better at writing and wanted to know more about her experience. I was kind of surprised when she said she did it just for fun!

Here is what she had to say.

1. How did you hear about NaNoWriMo, and why did you want to participate?
Yes, I did NaNoWriMo for fun in 2006. I heard about it from friends who had completed it the previous year. One of them has now had short stories published so they had more literary aims than me. I guess I've never thought of myself as being much good at creative writing, so fancied a challenge. 

2. Did you achieve the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month? Or did you have other goals?
At the time my daughter was 3 months old, and it gave me a focus beyond newborn duties. I was still getting used to not working, and this was something I could say I'd achieved. I knew I had to write an average of 1667 words each day, and would write longhand in a notebook while Amy was sleeping, then type it up in the evening. I stayed pretty much on track through the month and completed the 50,000 words in time. 

3. What do you plan to do with your completed manuscript?
I like my completed story, I know it has pretty massive plot holes, and would need a lot of edits, but I just did NaNoWriMo purely to see if I could. I'll probably dig it out at some point, polish it and let my daughter read it. NaNoWriMo was a lot of fun, and I'd recommend it to anyone. The support you can receive is so useful, and I asked a lot of questions on the forums, facts about the period in which my story was set.

I think this lady and I would be fabulous friends. She writes, she scrapbooks, she has a boy the same age as my youngest, she crochets, and is taking a keener interest in her fitness/health. Too bad she lives in Scotland! Hiya Chrissy! When I make a million dollars with my first novel (ha, ha!) I will come visit. :-) 

While I am not participating in NaNoWriMo I am planning on working on a MG verse manuscript. Since MG verse novels I have read so far fall in the 15,000 to 20,000 word range I would have to average about 600-800 words a day to finish. I am not making any guarantees.

Do you NaNoWriMo?

If you have, I would love to hear your experience in the comments!

Monday, November 4, 2013

MMGM: What We are Reading Now

This week for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I thought I would do an installment of What We are Reading Now.

Son #1 (age 11) :
  • The Death Catchers by Jennifer Anne Kogler - He picked this one up from the school library but he has not told me what he thinks of it yet.
  • The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4) by Rick Riodan - He was so excited for this book to come out and read it very quickly. Out of the blue this past Saturday he said Book 3 (The Mark of Athena) had the horribilist (his word) cliff-hanger ending ever, and why did the author make him wait a whole year to find out what happens?? He devoured the book and yes, he liked it.
  • Exile: (Keeper of the Lost Cities) by Shannon Messenger - Note to Shannon from my son... "please give me the next book NOW." He did say please! :-)

Daughter (age 9) - She is working her way through some of the books on the WLMA (Washington Library and Media Association) Sasquatch Award nominee list.
  • Zita the Space Girl: Far From Home by Ben Hatke - This book was probably the first graphic novel she has read and she breezed through it. My advice to her was to study the pictures as they have equal play in the story as the captions/dialog. She thought the format was OK, but said she it was difficult to tell the emotions some of the time. She must have gotten the gist of it because she scored 100% on the AR test at school.

Me (not reveling my age!) :
  • A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff - picked this one up at the library b/c I had recently seen it on Barbara Watson's blog and the cover is just so eye-catching.
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black (recently finished) - While I enjoyed this book, I thought there were a lot of pieces of the story tied up a little too conveniently or not tied up entirely to my satisfaction.
  • Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell (recently finished) - Grabbed this one at the library because I liked the cover (I pick a lot of MG books this way) and enjoyed the story and description of characters/scenery.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Monday, October 21, 2013

MMGM: Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm

I finally remembered to put together (and e-mail Shannon about it) a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post. Yay!

Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm is a lower middle grade book for children ages 6-9. It is the eleventh book in the series.

Book Description (from Amazon) - The lucky penny in Judy Moody’s pocket sure does seem to be working. She can’t stop winning — at bowling, spelling, the unbeatable Prize Claw, everything! For sure and absolute positive, she’ll ride that wave of good fortune all the way to Washington, D.C. Watch out, District of Cool, here comes Judy Moody, the luckiest kid ever, until . . . oh, no! Her lucky penny just did a belly flop into a porcelain bowl of yucky, blucky UNluck. Has the coin’s magic gone kerflooey?Are some people, like Jessica Finch or Stink, destined to have all the luck, while she, Judy Moody, gets stuck with a yard full of three-not-four leaf clovers, a squealing potbellied pig in an elevator, and a squashed penny with cooties? ROAR!

Why it is Marvelous - Judy is just such a cute and funny character and I absolutely adore the pictures in this series. For fans of Judy Moody this book will hit the spot. She is funny (dare I say "charm"ing) and even when things don't go exactly how she planned, Judy seems to have a way of making everything an adventure. The only thing I missed in this book was her cast of friends, as most of this story takes place in Washington D.C. The one classmate who is there with her is not a close friend, but will the good luck/bad luck charm push them farther apart or closer together? 

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Angel Earrings - Getting Crafty and a Donation

I saw this project in the weekly ad from my local craft store last December and put it to the side. I finally got around to making the cute earrings as a birthday present for my daughter in February. With the holidays coming up (again!) I thought I would post this project as something easy (but classy) you can make for someone you love.

With bead projects you often have to buy a bunch of the same beads/accessories to make just one project, so I had a lot of supplies left over. Soon after my daughter's birthday I heard news that an acquaintance had lost a baby late in her pregnancy. I got to thinking about that little angel baby and it brought me back to these earrings. I decided to make her a pair, but as a necklace instead, with one attached to the necklace and one she could slip off and place with the baby when they buried him. I passed this along to her through a mutual friend and have hoped that it brought her a small measure of peace.

Another mutual friend saw her necklace and (after a little asking around) came to me to ask if I could make some more and donate them to her ministry called Aaron's Project. She makes baskets for women who have lost babies, filled with items to help the woman/family through their loss. I was touched that she thought it would be something she would like to include and have now made some to pass on to her.

Not having done beading before, these were relatively easy to make. The only tricky part was getting the loop just right, using needle nose pliers. I used a pair of craft pliers from a Stampin' Up tool set. If you are making the set on the necklace then you need to remember to make the loop big enough (on the one that will be removed) to fit over the clasp at the back of the neck.

Here is what you will need to make these for yourself or someone you hold close to your heart!

Tierra Cast Angle Wings (15 mm)
Swarovski Tear Drop Crystal Beads (9x6mm faceted)
Crystal Bead for the angel head (mine is 5mm, which was a hard size to find)
Beading Headpins
4mm Rhinestone Halos (these didn't have a brand name - purchased at Craft Warehouse)
Connector (for a pendant style necklace - I found this one at Michaels)
Earring Wires (lots of different styles here - I made sure they were sterling silver for my daughter)
Chain/Necklace (the lady at Craft Warehouse measured and added the clasps for me)
Beading/Craft Pliers - to make a loop at the end of the headpin after adding the beads

Let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Journey in Scrapbooking

I have been scrapbooking since I was a teenager, taking photos, cutting up photos, journaling, and (at that time) putting it all in those awful albums with the peel back magnetic pages. (You all know those are harmful to your photos, right?) I kept newspaper articles on myself and my friends, ticket stubs and other memorabilia. 

Here is an example of my scrapbooking from that time. Not much technique going on here, using what was available to me: apparently scissors, ruled notebook paper and a red pen. I also didn't take much care in my penmanship, which is weird because I am pretty picky about that now. I would have also composed my shot of Muscle Beach Venice a little better... uh, to include some muscles!

To say memory keeping has evolved a little bit since then is an understatement! I found a company called Creative Memories at a craft fair in 1996 and attended a class at the consultant’s house… even got my husband to tag along and help with making the page. I love my Creative Memories albums and especially liked the concept of purchasing products in the same style/line to keep my options limited. Scrapbooking can be overwhelming and when I have too many choices I often end up not making a choice at all. I was just in Hobby Lobby yesterday and couldn't believe the amount of paper they had. My style in my Creative Memories albums has always been simple, usually opting for solid color papers, a simple title, journaling and a few (if any) embellishments. I also like my albums to lay flat so I never got into using any fancy supplies like brads and eyelets, twine, and really anything that would make my page bumpy.

Here are a few of my pages from my Creative Memories albums.

This is one of the first pages I made, very simple and just a few captions.

Here I am rocking the hand-lettering. Before I started using alphabet stickers I made most of my titles by hand, which is really kind of fun. Now is it just me, or does the design in the letter "W" look like a pair of boobs? I'm sure that was not my intention.

And here is another early layout where I copied a fun border I saw in a Creative Memories catalog. And... another hand drawn title.

I thought I would always use paper products, but kept getting farther behind with my pages, not having a dedicated space to scrap and once the kids came along, not wanting them to get into all the supplies. In early 2009, I downloaded some digital products being talked about on a photography site and started to play. I was already familiar with Photoshop and while it did take time to figure it all out, once I did I was hooked. No more cropping a photo and then having to run out and get another because I didn’t like the crop. No more redoing my journaling because I made a mistake. No more forgetting a set of photos and not being able to fit them in chronologically. I could use all the brads and twine and staples I wanted and my pages would still be flat! And no more paper cuts! 

When I started searching the internet I was amazed at how many digital products are out there. Since I was just testing the waters I searched for any and all free downloads I could find – and there are a lot. I landed on a site called Designer Digitals and they had some awesome freebies – three every week! When I poked around and looked at the gallery and forums I decided this was the place for me and have made it my digital scrapbooking home. I was thrilled beyond belief when Katie Pertiet (owner with her husband Randy Pertiet) asked me to join their Creative Team in the fall of 2009. I have made well over 500 pages since then and find that this is a great way to combine my love of photography and being creative, with the added bonus of having our family history recorded and ready to pass down to future generations. 

Here is one of my favorite digital layouts. For the most part I try to keep my layouts simple (doesn't always work) focusing on the photos and jouraling.

And here is a page I made for Project Life. The plan was to make a double-page spread for each week of the year. I finished nine weeks and petered out. I am hoping to revive the project for 2014 (in some way, shape or form) because every time I go back and reread the small details of our everyday life, I smile. Little things I recorded for the project that I would never have remembered otherwise. Like my son going through a phase of running up to the big Pepperidge Farm goldfish every time we saw one in the grocery store and giving it a hug and kiss.

So if you read through all that then I think you can tell I have been involved in scrapbooking for a while and am pretty passionate about getting pictures off the camera/iPhone (or out of the drawers) and documented in a place that will tell my family's story. Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday

OK, I just stole the title of this post from Barbara Watson, but it is perfect for what I am blogging about today. Since I have been quite the slacker in blogging about writing-related topics I have decided to expand my blog to include all things created by me. I love all my hobbies (and yes, until I change my mindset and become more serious, writing falls into that category) and seem to go in spurts. Well, except for scrapbooking. That is an all-the-time hobby. When the weather turns colder I pull out my knitting needles, with big plans to knit everyone I know something for Christmas. When I see a  cool project in the local craft store flyer, I run out and get the supplies and am hot on that for a while. When I get on a reading streak I can read multiple books each week. Every so often I get an itch to make a quilt.

So hopefully there will be something of interest to anyone who stops by. I added a few blinkies to my sidebar and added a tab at the top that details my published creative work.

For today I thought I would show you the latest scrapbook page I completed. I use an all-digital format which I will explain more in a later post.

This layout was designed using all Designer Digitals products.

The other creative thing shown here is the hat. I found this pattern and thought it would be good for my son. He approved and we took a trip to the yarn store so he could help choose the type and color of yarn. I am very happy to report that he was pleased with the results and I am looking forward to seeing him wear it this coming season. Click here for a link to where I posted this project on Ravelry.

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you come back and see me again!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Books my Kids Can't Wait to Read... but will have to.

There are two books coming out in October that my kids can't wait to read. My son (after years of me encouraging him) has finally jumped on the Percy Jackson bandwagon... and then The Heroes of Olympus series. The fourth book in the series by Rick Riordan, The House of Hades, comes out on October 8th. The other book both of my kids are looking forward to is Exile by Shannon Messenger, the second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. This on comes out on October 1st. Both are on sale in the Nook store for 50% off through today. I considered getting them, but wanted to check to see if they were loaded in the library system first. And both are on order! I had already told my kids they would have to wait for them at the library so I have placed them on hold, but what caught my interest were these numbers.

The House of Hades:
     System Availability - 30
     Current Holds - 68 (we are now number 69)

     System Availability - 3
     Current Holds - 1 (that would be us)

This really amazes me. My kids seem equally interested in both books, and I know other kids would be too if they just knew about the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. But Rick Riordan is an established, well-known author with a fan base for his books. I will be interested to see where Shannon goes with her writing and who knows, maybe her second or third series will have numbers (at least for our local library) like The House of Hades sometime down the road.

What series are you reading and can't wait for the next book?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Author Amy Head Shots!

I had the pleasure of taking head shots for my good friend Amy. Her debut middle grade novel RED BUTTERFLY (Simon and Schuster), to be published under the name A.L. Sonnichsen, will be out February 2015. Go Amy! You can read about her book deal here.

So please help Amy by chiming in with your opinion of which of these shots is your favorite for an author photo on the back of her first book. You can respond here in the comments or go to her blog and comment there. Thanks so much!

Isn't she beautiful! :-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

MMGM: Out of the Dust

It has been a LONG time since I did a MMGM post! I decided to pick a book my good friend Amy (A.L. Sonnichsen) gave me to read, one that inspired her in writing her MG verse novel RED BUTTERFLY to be published by Simon and Schuster in February 2015. If you haven't read about Amy's book deal click here to check it out. And come back on Friday because we will reveal all the beautiful glory that is Author Amy, as I like to call her, in the head shots I had the pleasure of taking for the above-mentioned book. And we need help in choosing the best one!

Now for Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

Book Description (from Amazon): Like the Oklahoma dust bowl from which she came, 14-year-old narrator Billie Jo writes in sparse, free-floating verse. In this compelling, immediate journal, Billie Jo reveals the grim domestic realities of living during the years of constant dust storms: That hopes--like the crops--blow away in the night like skittering tumbleweeds. That trucks, tractors, even Billie Jo's beloved piano, can suddenly be buried beneath drifts of dust. Perhaps swallowing all that grit is what gives Billie Jo--our strong, endearing, rough-cut heroine--the stoic courage to face the death of her mother after a hideous accident that also leaves her piano-playing hands in pain and permanently scarred.

Meanwhile, Billie Jo's silent, windblown father is literally decaying with grief and skin cancer before her very eyes. When she decides to flee the lingering ghosts and dust of her homestead and jump a train west, she discovers a simple but profound truth about herself and her plight. There are no tight, sentimental endings here--just a steady ember of hope that brightens Karen Hesse's exquisitely written and mournful tale. Hesse won the 1998 Newbery Award for this elegantly crafted, gut-wrenching novel.
Why it was Marvelous: I have read quite a few historical novels lately and I find myself intrigued with the fact that people in general lived so very differently than we do now. And for them, it was just the way it was... and they worked through their hardships and moved forward. I think that is what I liked most about this book. Bllie Jo is tough and while nothing is remotely perfect in her life, she perseveres. 
I also really liked the style of verse writing in this book. I have read a few novels in verse but this was the first one I really "got" the impact verse can have on a story. After I read this book I tried to write a scene in verse and found I really liked it... and plan to complete a manuscript in verse as well. I'm 800 words in, not much yet but a start. 
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What we are Reading

It has been a long time since one of these posts! What are you reading?

What we are reading now.

Son #1: (Age 11)
  • This boy has FINALLY started reading the Percy Jackson books. I gave him The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan who knows how many Easter's ago (yes, I know a rather odd present for Easter) and I think he only read it because there was nothing else around. Of course he loved it and was begging for the next two in the series and can't wait for the fourth this fall! 
  • Then he went back and to the original series starting with The Lightening Thief... couldn't get the second at the library so I was nice and bought The Sea of Monsters for him and he read it in one day, even with an entire 6th grade school day spent learning (I hope) not reading! He is more than half way done with the third (started today) and I have the next two ready to pick up at the library! I guess he likes them.

Daughter: (age 9)
  • She completed the Barnes and Noble reading program this summer and received Hoot by Carl Hiaasen as her free book. She LOVED it and went on to read Chomp and is now reading Flush. Hoot is her new favorite book!
  • Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham. This is one I brought home from the library and she picked up. She has been enjoying it but put it to the side to read Flush (see above) although I am sure she will come back to it. When I asked her why she like it she said, "He's a kid, he's a lawyer. It has murder!" Wonderful... maybe I should have read it first! 

Mom: (not revealing my age!)
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I am really enjoying the writing in this book... more literary than I am used to with my usual middle grade reading. Adult books can be frustrating sometimes though because they take a lot longer to read. LOL! 
  • Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger. I am enjoying this book as well but put it to the side about a month ago. I think the pace was a bit slower than some of my other middle grade reads and I got impatient and moved to a few books I could finish more quickly...   
  • Butter by Erin Jade Lange and Deadline by Chris Crutcher, two YA books I grabbed from the library for my Nook to read on a two-week road trip. Kind of ironic that both of these books had a similar theme... things you would do only when you think/know you are going to die, and how those things shape your life differently. They were both very good, but a telling sign that I had moved into YA territory - bad words! :-)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Elementary Writing/Reading Notes

I have been a bad blogger. I love the idea of blogging but haven't learned how to be very consistent. Next week I think I will plunge back in with a whole week of MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday) posts as there are a lot of books I have read this year but haven't blogged about. So stay tuned.

I still have some writing projects I am working on and one new project I am excited about.

I love going though my kids' school papers and looking at the ones about reading and writing. Sometimes there are some gems in there! Here are a few from my daughter's 3rd grade class.


Twenty Minutes a Day
by Richard Peck

Read to your children
Twenty minutes a day;
You have the time,
And so do they.
Read while the laundry in in the machine;
Read while dinner cooks;
Tuck a child in the crook of your arm
And reach for the library books.
Hide the remote,
Let the computer games cool,
For one day your children will be off to school;
"Remedial?" "Gifted?" You have the choice;
Let them hear their first tales
In the sound of your voice.
Read in the morning;
Read over noon;
Read by the light of
Goodnight Moon.
Turn the pages together,
Sitting close as you'll fit,
Till a small voice beside you says,
"Hey, don't quit."


Questions for Response.
When you read a story, ask yourself:

  • What things about the character(s) or events do I like of not like?
  • What feelings do I have as I read or listen to the story?
  • What makes this a good story or not a good story?
  • What part(s) of the story will I remember or discuss with others?
  • Are there other stories that are similar to this story? Characters? Events? Places? Times in history?
  • Is there anything about this story that I would change?
  • Would I read this story again?
This was a good one to think about as a writer and change the questions around. For example: "What feelings would I like my audience to have as they read or listen to the story?" or "Would I write this story the same way again?"


Author's Purpose: 
Does the story entertain, inform, try to persuade me, or teach me how to do something? 

I guess if it doesn't do one of these things, the author has failed! 


Spelling Tips

Bill Cosby "Pudding" Method.
Yo! Bill sez: Have your child write the words/sentences in pudding. Just spread your favorite flavor on some wax paper. Write the word, check it, then smear it out. Lick your fingers and go to the next word or sentence!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Clutter: My (old) Purse

This is a blog post I did on another blog years ago. Last weekend I was talking about my old purse with a friend and told her I would send her the post b/c it is pretty funny (now that I can look back and laugh about it!) so I thought I would just post it here instead. Maybe you will get a kick out of it too. And if you know anyone who writes women's fiction, pass it on. Maybe they can snag a tidbit or two about a real-world mom with an extremely cluttered purse. LOL!

An if anyone is wondering after reading the article, I ended up hosting a Miche Bag party and switched to their classic size purse, and bought a smaller wallet!


From April 2010...

My purse.  What an amazing and horrible mess!  It is hard to tell from this picture how much stuff is in there, but just read on...

I went to a baby shower last year and they had a game where the lady with the heaviest purse wins a prize. I knew right away I would win, and not only because I had a full bottled water in there!  Other ladies had bigger, bulkier bags but mine tipped the scale and won!  So apparently I have known about my little purse problem for a while but have chosen to let it get worse and worse. There have been times where it has taken me a good minute to find my keys in this veritable black hole.  Several times I have actually given up, looked elsewhere for them, only to find they were in my purse the entire time... dropped into the wrong pocket or just hiding in a deep corner.  Uuugggh!  How frustrating.  Not to mention the red marks the straps often leave on my shoulder after a long shopping trip.  Children's backpack studies have shown the direct relationship of heavy backpacks to shoulder and back pain.  While not as heavy, I'm sure my purse is no different.  And since I already have hereditary back issues, I am definitely not doing myself any favors here.   

So, I decided to sit down last night and clean the darn thing out.  I made a list as I went, and while some of these items are a little embarrassing, I am posting it here for "the blogging world" to see.  Maybe if I record it, and come up with a few "rules of the purse" to make sure this won't happen again, I will have some motivation to hold myself accountable.  We will see.
The List: (cringing a bit here)
  1. Comb - most likely from the kids' school pictures last fall.  It was dirty so I threw it out.
  2. Small pencil from putt-putt last summer.
  3. Dairy Queen kids meal bag, coupon already torn off.
  4. 2 round pins from a visit to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in August 2009.
  5. Alex's achievement ribbons from her last TOPS gymnastics meet earlier this month.
  6. 2 leather coasters and 1 leather key chain from a hands-on demonstration at the county fair in August 2009.
  7. Thank you note for a girl who attended Alex's birthday party in February, on the off-chance we see her at gymnastics.
  8. Fred Meyer rewards coupons - expire 4-24 which I would still like to use.
  9. Very old (and crumbling) check holder with two empty books of checks, old receipts and a check register I haven't used in eight years!
  10. Wrapped fortune cookie and wrapped chocolate chunk cookie from Panda Express three weeks ago.
  11. Lollipop, band aid.
  12. Point and shoot camera in a case and the battery charger.
  13. Kids' shot records.
  14. Blank deposit slips from two different banks.
  15. Business cards for my photography business I closed over a year ago.
  16. Business cards for MOMS club - they are dirty and I would never hand them out in this condition.
  17. Metal business card holder - empty.
  18. 3 free ice cream cone coupons for McDonalds.
  19. Key chain w/eyeglass screwdriver.
  20. REI report to members which had the dividend and 20% off coupons I used a week ago.
  21. 2 empty (cardboard) gift card holders.
  22. List of locations for lunch after bowling league (through 12-29-2009)
  23. Receipt for the headboard in Brandon's room from one year ago.
  24. Printout of vision benefits from 7-09
  25. Free pass & schedule for the Gravity classes at the fitness center.
  26. Oil change papers from 5-22-09.
  27. Oil change papers from 8-21-09.
  28. Receipt from tennis shoes ordered last week.
  29. Written list of things to do in Washington D.C. for a trip last June.  I forgot to bring the list.
  30. Spoon used for a yogurt snack... I know, gross.
  31. Old grocery store shopping list.
  32. Small journal to record quotes from the kids.  Pen.
  33. MOMS club name tag and lanyard.
  34. 9 small bow hair clips, which were taken out of Alex's hair at gymnastics several months ago.
  35. 2 bobby pins, 2 AAA batteries, 1 screw, 1 rock, 1 nerf bullet, and 2 hair bands.
  36. Feminine hygiene items, more band aids, and very old hand cream.
  37. Cell phone.
  38. Tickets to a Jon Schmidt piano concert from 1-7-2010.
  39. Small pouch with a pearl from San Francisco, who knows how many Januarys ago!
  40. My Wallet.  It deserved a picture.  See below.  It is ridiculous.

So now that my purse and wallet are cleaned out, what should I do?  I like my purse, but maybe I need something smaller.  I also like my wallet, but maybe I need a separate holder just for "the cards" and then one for my cash.  I will have to take a look somewhere this weekend and see what is out there.  As far as rules.... I think the first thing is to obviously keep less receipts.  At least some of the gas stations now give you the option for no receipt, which I gladly take!  I know I hold onto some receipts because I am afraid I will need to return something but there are several stores that have such a good return policy you really don't need to have the paper receipt.  Target and Costco for example... they take back anything it seems!  Another rule - if the kids give me something to hold onto while we are out, give it back to them once we are home.  And it would not be a bad idea to sit down once-a-week and clean out what is not needed.  I will be back with an update... for now, a few things I found searching the internet.
The first two above are purse inserts.  This allows you to take the insert out and change purses easily.  The Butler Bag is the purse and insert together, and a little more pricey.  I see there are a lot of other inserts out there, just search "neat purse" or "purse organizer" and a bunch of options come up! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

MMGM - Keeper of the Lost Cities

It has been quite a while since I have posted but I thought it was only fair that I pop in for MMGM with a short review on Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger! While I have not read the book myself, both my kids (ages 11 and 9) have read and LOVED it. My son read it in two and a half days (during the school week) and my daughter read for about three hours each day until she was done. To say they are excited for October and the release of the next book in this series is an understatement. They want it NOW!

Book DescriptionTwelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. And Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and almost instantly she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.
But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.

In my daughter's wordsThis book is about Sophie Foster, a 12-year-old girl who discovers she is an elf from another world. She also finds out she is a special elf. I liked Sophie because she risks her neck to save her family. Another character I liked was Fitz. He is the elf who finds Sophie on Earth and helps Sophie multiple times. I also liked Keefe who is another friend to Sophie. Keefe was daring and ditched school when he could.

I liked this book because it has danger and it’s another thing to keep me away from my chores. I had to read for hours so the book could answer my questions. I loved it so much that I read three hours a day. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes adventure and danger.

I can’t wait until the next book comes out in October. I’m going to download it on my Nook.


Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

MMGM: Ungifted and Pickle

Is is still Monday? Gosh, I hope not. How did your first Monday of the New Year go? Mine started with discovering the 5th grader forgot about some homework over the weekend, couldn't find a protractor for him to finish it, telling me he hates me b/c I took his iPOD away for the day, him slipping on ice in the driveway so he had to change clothes and then missing the bus at his home school and having to drive him to his actual school. The day improved slightly when my friend came over and we exchanged holiday gifts, but then reverted when my 2-year-old screamed his head off because he doesn't understand the concept of sharing with his little friend. He is fine at public places and other kids' houses, but apparently HIS toys are sacred. Anyway, onto the books!

If I had gotten this done yesterday then I was going to call it Wonderful Middle Grade Wednesday but it just didn't have the same ring as MMGM. And I'm drawing a blank for a "marvelous" word that starts with a T. So even though it is Thursday, here is my MMGM.

Since starting to read and participate in MMGM posts I have to admit, a lot of the books I read are recommendations from other MMGMers (just finished Liar and Spy) and sometimes I feel like I am just talking about what has already been talked about. So I chose two books for today. Ungifted by Gordon Korman, which I think I first heard about on Joanne Fritz's blog and Pickle by Kim Baker, which I don't think I have seen on MMGM and is written by the Co-Regional Advisor of the Western WA SCBWI.

Book Description from Amazon - The word gifted has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It's usually more like Don't try this at home. So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix up by one of the administrators, instead of getting into trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students.

It wasn't exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his gifts might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed.

Book Description from Amazon -
This is the story of the LEAGUE OF PICKLEMAKERS.
Ben: who began it all by sneaking in one night and filling his homeroom with ball pit balls.
Frank: who figured out that an official club, say a pickle-making club, could receive funding from the PTA.

Oliver: who once convinced half the class that his real parents had found him and he was going to live in a submarine.

Bean: who wasn't exactly invited, but her parents own a costume shop, which comes in handy if you want to dress up like a giant squirrel and try to scare people at the zoo.

TOGETHER they are an unstoppable prank-pulling force, and Fountain Point Middle School will never be the same.

Why they are Marvelous: Both of these books have a humorous slant to them which I enjoy. But what I think is key to middle grade literature are the ups and downs and bonds of friendship. In both of these stories the main character has trouble with his best friend/s as the events in his life start a series of changes. Will their friendships be able to endure these changes and come out stronger in the end, or will their differences become too much for them to handle? I thought both authors dealt with this aspect of the story well and that is what I remembered most from each book.

Happy Monday... I mean Thursday!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.