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Daring Greatly

July 31, 2014

daring greatly


I took the opportunity to re-read “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown with @thesocialbookclub. I read “The Gifts of Imperfection” by the same author two years ago, and it was a life changing book for me! I love Brene Brown. She is amazing! If you haven’t read anything by her, I highly recommend either of these books.

I also love the quote by Teddy Roosevelt which is where her title came from. We have read it to our kids on several occasions. I’ve always wanted to do a poster of it for our 16×20 frame in our living room, which I like to switch out occasionally. I thought I’d take this opportunity to calligraph the quote in a poster. (You can get it printed at Costco for $6). To download the poster, click here. Be sure to check out @thesocialbookclub on instagram.


Bastille Day

July 14, 2014


We’re celebrating Bastille Day with crepes and a spirited game of Guillotine. Use Alton Brown’s recipe for your crepes and get your Guillotine card game from Amazon and you’ll be a happy camper!

The Writing Process Blog Hop

July 2, 2014

How did I start writing? If you look at the checkered past of my English classes, you would find me an unlikely candidate for becoming a writer. Even for becoming a wannabe writer. In junior high and high school I was bounced around between remedial English class and honors English class. I don’t know why, but I always ended up on one end of the spectrum or the other. I never took AP English. It never even occurred to me to try. I had one particular teacher my junior year in high school who disliked me. The feeling was mutual. Due to that experience, I felt that I was quite terrible at English. I had convinced myself of this fact and as a result I didn’t take freshman English in college until I was a junior! I completed the minimum English requirements for graduation.

Fast forward a few (ahem!) years, and I found that I actually was a decent writer, and I really loved doing it too! I started getting comments from family and friends about my blog, editorial articles written to the newspaper, and even comments on my family newsletter for our annual Christmas card! Maybe I wasn’t such a poor writer after all. I decided to write a novel, and I did. I completed it, then sent it off to my family and friends to have them read it. They all told me they loved it, but they also gave me constructive criticism. I worked some more and then sent it out to agents. I received rejection after rejection after rejection. I was heartbroken. I stopped writing for about a year, telling myself that I guess I was wrong. I was not a good writer after all. The truth is, I didn’t really know anything about structuring a novel or creating a character. I had lots of ideas bouncing around in my head, and lots of stories to tell. But, let’s face it family and friends, that first attempt was not good, no matter how kind you were to read and critique it. It was truly terrible! I’ve read a lot of books on writing since then. I’ve learned a lot of things. I’ve nursed my broken heart. I’m ready to really give it a go again. All I’m lacking now is time. Sigh.

One of the things I have loved the most about this writing journey is the people I’ve met along the way! One of my first connections was Amy, who was re-introduced to me by a mutual friend (we met once our twice in college through this same friend, but only in passing). Amy is wonderful. She is an amazing writer. She works really hard. She writes beautifully crafted articles for her blog, for newspapers, and for other blogs. She also writes novels that are so good you can’t put them down. Amy has been monumental in my journey as a writer. She is always ready to encourage me and discuss the publishing world with me. And she is always there to proof my work, no matter how big or small it is. You should definitely visit her blog.

Melinda Joy is someone I “met” a few months ago in an online watercolor class we were both taking. (I say met, but I really mean that I kind of stalked her and, thankfully, she was not too creeped out.) It turned out that Melinda and I had a lot in common – what a fun connection we made! She’s a grad student widow right now, and they have two children. She has a lot to take care of amid chasing her dreams! She writes middle grade fiction, and you can check out her short stories on Amazon here and here.

Ginger is someone I just recently met on the internet. Ginger is one of those people you just want to be friends with. Plus, she is an awesome writer! I’m currently enjoying her first book, “Spark.” You can get it on Amazon here.

Now, I’ll share my answers to the three questions for this blog hop:

1. What am I working on? I’m currently finishing up a children’s picture book. I expect to be submitting this to slush piles across America beginning next week! Once I’ve completed that, I will resume work on several unfinished projects (I always have at least a few going on at the same time). These include a women’s historical fiction novel about a Mayan princess, a YA novel where a Santa Cruz surfer girl who becomes a mermaid, a middle grade novel about a boy who trains a bald eagle, and a collection of short stories about women in different circumstances called “One Fine Day in Rome”.

2. Why do I write what I write? I guess I haven’t really figured out my favorite audience. As you can see from my list above, I’m still writing a bit of everything. In most cases, though, my stories contain something out of the ordinary. If they aren’t set in a fictional place and time, at least they contain something mystical, miraculous, or faith-based. There are two reasons for this. First, I believe in a lot of things that can’t necessarily be seen or described by science or by ordinary life. Second, I have a hard time crafting a story that is set in everyday life that is interesting. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people can do it beautifully. I just don’t seem to be one of those people.

3. What is my writing process? This is the part where I tell you that I wake up at four o’clock every morning, write for an hour, go run 5 miles rain or shine, then write for another hour. All before my kids wake up and I start the day. Hahahahaha! I wish! But no, that is not how my writing process goes. With four kids (one of which rarely sleeps through the night), that just isn’t what my life looks like right now. However, to make any headway, it’s very important for me to write every day. I find that when I do that, my subconscious is always thinking about my story and coming up with ways to solve problems; my characters speak to me, and I see a lot of things in the world around me that can be incorporated into my story. I’ve tried just about every method for writing. I have countless notebooks with a chapter or two and a list of characters, or even just a passage here and there. Add to that 3×5 cards and notes jotted on receipts, and it is a great big disorganized mess. What works best for me is to type in Word on the computer, but sitting down at the computer for an hour a day is not always possible. When I’m out and about, I write in a notebook I keep in my purse or I write in Evernote on my phone using a bluetooth keyboard like this one. I find it’s very important to write something down as soon as it comes to my mind. It’s amazing to me how fleeting these thoughts and passages are. Sometimes they’re gone before I can even grab a pen. Definitely, consistency is key for me. Something I’m lacking terribly right now.

Thanks for letting me share a little bit about my writing life with you! Be sure to check out the blogs of my writing friends!


Happy Peepster!

April 22, 2014

All right, I know you’ve been waiting anxiously to see the photos from our third annual Peeps diorama contest, so without further ado, here they are. First of all, we have the addition of a traveling trophy for first prize made by Mike and Lisa. Isn’t it so cute ?

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Now, on to the competition. It was intense this year! The bar continues to be raised. This year we had four entries that were interactive. We’re just waiting for a robotic entry…maybe next year?

To start off, we have “Peeps in One Rythm”, by Scott, celebrating the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. This was one of our interactive displays which blasted world cup music throughout the day. I may or may not have woken up in the middle of the night with one of the songs playing in my head. Okay, I totally did.

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Here are some close-ups of the fans:

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A Brazilian player autographs a soccer ball for some fans:

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The American team warms up:

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Nice save by the goalie. Good thing he has such long ears, it really makes those headers easier:

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Another interactive feature of this diorama was that the kids could use the extra soccer balls to shoot goals (think of that soccer game you play on the table at a restaurant with the straw wrappers while you’re waiting for your food to come. But with balls instead of wadded up straw wrappers. And a giant stadium. Complete with 67 Peeps).

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Another interactive diorama this year was the North Pole by Mike and Lisa. (They tried to come up with a name that contained Peep in it, but Peep is a tricky word, and sometimes that just doesn’t work. I’m not going to give you the examples that didn’t work here, I don’t need the google spiders finding my blog for that sort of wording. You’ll just have to figure it out on your own.)

This one had Christmas music playing, and they made some pretty great selections for their music. As a lover of Christmas music, I feel qualified to make that call. I can pretty much listen to it year-round. Okay, before we look closer at this one, just look at the Peeps and think about how long they have been contemplating their diorama. (These Peeps weren’t purchased yesterday.) That in itself is incredibly impressive! Of course, anyone who knows these two knows they have never been accused of failing to plan ahead.

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The reins for the reindeer were loving threaded through each reindeer Peep with a nail, then marshmallow was painstakingly cleaned off the chain. My intention for photographing this one was to show you the close-ups of the sleigh and the Santa Peep. However, I was distracted in the middle of the shoot and didn’t get the shots I needed. Oh, the importance of a shoot list! You will have to take my word for it. The sleigh was handcrafted, and the Santa suit was exquisitely tailored to fit the Santa Peep.

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Poor little guy! This is how I fear I will end up every year when dealing with the Christmas lights. The gingerbread house was ordered online (where else are you going to find a gingerbread house this time of year?!), and I am told it arrived in more pieces than it should have been in. That frosting isn’t just for looks, it doubles as spackle.

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Good thing he has a friend to help him!

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You should always heed the warning signs. Especially when ice is involved.

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Thankfully, his snowmen friends are getting him out of there!

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The reindeer pen:

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Complete with everything you would expect to find in a reindeer pen (like Raisinets).

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This was my favorite scene in this diorama, even though it is a bit cannibalistic. But I love the little details, like the hand-charred miniature marshmallows. I think that one gingerPeep is even salivating. Nice work, guys! It’s this sort of attention to detail that we’ve come to expect from these contestants.

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Next up is Bunny Rock by Mark and Kim.

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This one was interactive, appealing to the olfactory sense. They used herbs grown in their garden as the trees, giving a pleasant natural aroma to their diorama.

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The bunnies who have made it to the top.

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Notice their cute little climbing gear all nicely coiled up? So tidy, these bunnies.

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It includes the bunnies who haven’t quite made it yet.

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The ones who are almost there:

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A few more on their way:

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And the ones waiting to climb.

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Maybe that little pink guy has made it? Nope. He’s still here. Hang in there, little buddy.

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Our final interactive entry was Phantom of the Opera by Sarah. We were graced with various songs from the production playing from the theater, and if we had a prize for the most Peeps that had hair added to their heads, this would be the clear winner. There are reports of pulling a nearly-all-nighter on this one.

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Christine Peep:

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Carlotta Peep:

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and, of course, the Phantom Peep lurking in the box.

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When Peeps go to the theater, they dress to the nines.

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A word to the wise Peep: keep an eye on this handcrafted chandelier. I predict it will fall (and I’m not referring to workmanship here).

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A bird’s eye view of the theater:

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This was my favorite theater-goer. When you go to the theater, you can always expect to see some opera glasses.

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and some top hats!

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Next up is Delta Peeps by me. The delta is where our family has been going waterskiing since I was four. I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was. Just know it was a very, very long time ago!

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The island and delta house, complete with a dock made out of the actual materials the dock is made out of:

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Vikki reading a book on the dock.

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Chris wakeboarding – sweet air! And my mom driving (she always wears a blue visor when she drives the boat).

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The observer is ready with the flag in case he falls.

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And the kids in the back are wearing their life vests.

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This photo is for my siblings, to see if they can guess which wakeboard he’s riding.

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Our next entry, “Chopped,” by Carl and Pat presented a competition within a competition, along with my mom’s love of the food network.

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The Peeps have their baskets of ingredients. I wonder what they contain? Chicken? Eggs? Easter candy?

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The judges deliberate:

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And the verdict is in:

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Do you think he knew it was such a literal title for the show? Of course, if the knife didn’t get him, the fire probably would have. He also seems to be unaware of the effect of heat on marshmallows.

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One way or another, it was just not his day.

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Gulliver’s travels by Kathy is next.

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Gulliver awakes to find himself a captive of the LilliPeepians.

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They look nice enough.

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But only time will tell whether or not he will be able to win them over.

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Indiana Jones by Rod and Leslie!

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Do you remember that scene?

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Yes, that scene. You just didn’t know those birds were Peeps!

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At least they don’t make Peeps that are shaped like snakes.

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For so many reasons!

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Selma, who loves K-pop created this concert.

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Don’t you love the audience’s seats? Little egg cups for the Peeps to sit in!

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Our final entry in the adult competition is from Greg and Vikki, and is the only edible entry, so to speak.

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Mmmmm! Delicious!

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Peeporoni Peepza – ask for it the next time you’re ordering a pizza!

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For the kids competition, we went with a broader range of prize categories (as we were tallying the votes we realized that we had three prizes and four kids entering. Now, I’m all for a healthy competition and teaching kids that sometimes they just aren’t going to win, but that’s just mean! So we did a quick brainstorm, wrapped up an extra chocolate bunny and voila! new competition categories for the kids).

First up is Josh and his meticulously researched “Adventures of Lewis and Clark”. He won the prize for “Best representation of a historical event”.

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Here are the rowers. Is that even a word? Maybe oarsmen is better.

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Lewis Peep and Clark Peep hanging out in the back.

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The Native American Peeps even got peace medals (created for them by Thomas Jefferspeep to give the Native Americans as they traveled across the country. By the way, we still have Thomas Jefferspeep from last year. In fact, he was sneaked to church in Josh’s pocket for Easter Sunday. He is considerably smaller, having lost much of the moisture that was once an integral part of him).

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You knew we couldn’t get away from Frozen, so here is Elsa’s castle by Kate and me (she came up with the idea and traced the shapes, I cut them with an x-acto knife, she helped me spray paint them, helped me glue gun them, and she decorated and placed all the Peeps). She won “Best adaptation of a movie.”

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Lovely inlaid snowflakes in the floor (random Christmas decoration that never made it into the box).

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Elsa in her dress (Olivia helped her make the dress).

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This is Olaf and Sven. I know what you’re thinking. Aside from the noses they could be twins!

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Olivia’s creation “Harry Potter” won the prize for “Best adaptation of a book.”

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Here are all the magical Peeps with their magic wands:

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Can you spot Harry?

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Finally, in the kids competition is Lucas’s Peepseidon’s temple. He has been studying Greek history at school, and that was his inspiration. Also, he had to make this for a school project a few weeks ago. At that time it was not so Peep-centered. He won “Best representation of a mythological person.”

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His temple included bunny friezes,

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tourists taking photos

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of the statue of Peepseidon,

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and more tourists checking out the information in the brochures.

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It was another great year for the Peep dioramas!

Watercolor Peeps Easter Decorations

April 17, 2014

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We’re kind of obsessed with Peeps around here, so I thought it would be fitting to make some decorations that reflect that. These were so easy and fun to do!

All you need is:

    • paper (watercolor paper or cards -I used these)
    • watercolor paint
    • paintbrush
    • marker for faces
    • hole punch
    • ribbon

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After making the cards (see my previous post), I made the banner as follows:

Punch the holes in the upper corners of the cards.

Tie a knot at one end of your ribbon (leaving excess ribbon to tie the banner up)

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Thread ribbon through one side of the card (I threaded my ribbon to the back because I painted my peeps too close to the top. It would probably be cuter to thread it through the front if you leave yourself enough room).

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Thread ribbon through other hole in card and tie a knot.

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Tie a knot six inches away (or your desired length depending on how far you want to space them). It’s really hard to tie a knot six inches away. I found it was much easier to get the knot started approximately six inches away, and then measure and adjust the knot as you pull it tight.

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Repeat the process until you have as many cards as you want on your banner.

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To make centerpieces, write names on extra cards. Attach each card to a wooden craft stick. Insert into wheat grass (I transferred my wheat grass into little pails purchased at the dollar spot at Target).

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Super cute and so easy!

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Easy Easter Decorations

April 16, 2014


We’re getting ready for Easter around here, so it’s time for some super easy decorations! I bought these little cards (they are meant for scrapbooking) and I’m painting little peeps on them with watercolors. I bet your kids can even help! When they’re dry, just add the little faces with paint or a marker. The beauty is that peeps all have different faces, so you don’t have to worry about making a mistake!

When they have dried I’ll punch holes and string them together with a ribbon for a cute banner. Yay peeps!


My New Obsession

March 31, 2014


If you know me at all, you know that I love to learn new things. I love to take classes and I would probably take a beginning class in just about anything – just to see if I like it.

I recently took a watercolor class from Nicole’s Classes. It was taught by the amazing Monica Lee at Smart Creative Women. I loved it so much and I was so sad when it ended. Plus, one thing I learned from it is that I really need to learn how to draw better. After some poking around the internet, I found Skillshare. It is AWESOME! For just $10 a month you can take as many classes as you have time to do. They are all internet based too, which I love because I can watch videos while I’m on the treadmill at the gym. (Hello, motivation to get to the gym!) It’s a win-win!

The breadth of classes is amazing and includes things I’ve been wanting to learn, as well as things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn! And the level of instruction is amazing – from industry leaders in each area! Calligraphy and hand lettering, garment draping from Anya Ayoung Chee (Project Runway), making a pattern in adobe illustrator, map making, fashion illustration and watercolor from Katie Rodgers (, and on and on. You guys, I am in heaven! All for only $10 a month. It’s like a dream come true for me! Hop on over to Skillshare and check it out!