Free Snow Day eBook!

Schools and work are closed, and to celebrate, my Kindle picture book, The Winter That Almost Wasn’t is FREE on Amazon today!

Inline image 3

Making snowmen, sledding, snow angels, and so much more!
Sally, Mia and Ben can’t wait for snow, so they’ll try all the ways they can think of to make it snow.
“Sleep on a spoon
and we’ll have snow soon!”
How many snow making ideas do you know?

My daughter and I created this picture book last winter about a disappointing winter several years ago.  My kids had wished for a good snow all through the winter.  Just like the three kids in the story, they kept trying all the different ways they know to make it snow.

After hearing the story, my then 12 year old daughter offered to illustrate it for me, and we enjoyed working on this project together.

We hope you’ll download our book today from Amazon at The Winter That Almost Wasn’t.  Please leave a review to help us promote our book!  Thank you!

If you don’t have a Kindle device, you can get a free ebook reader for PCs and most mobile devices on Amazon.

OsirisComm Web Hosting Highly Recommended

OsirisComm Logo My husband and I have been happy customers of OsirisComm web hosting since 2000.  They are a small company, which has always provided us excellent, personal service.

  • Prompt, personal customer service – I’ve had experience working with another web hosting service through another web site that I inherited and I have been very frustrated with their customer service on several occasions.  They’re prices may be slightly lower, but you get what you pay for!  When it comes to your business web site and getting help with technical issues, it’s not worth saving a little money in exchange for weak customer support.  OsirisComm’s customer support staff answer questions quickly, with excellent technical expertise, and are really great guys.  You can see many more testimonials on their web site.
  • 99.99% up-time guarantee – Great dependability in the years we’ve been with OsirisComm.
  • Reasonably priced web hosting and domain name registration – Web hosting starts around $3-7 a month ($3/month for 1G, $7/month for 10G — recommended). First year is often 20% off for new customers.  Domain names start at $16 a year, but drop to $11 a year if you buy four years or more.

I signed up for the OsirisComm referral program because we highly recommend their Internet services and we want to tell others about this great company.  If you decide to purchase services through OsirisComm, please use one of the links on this page so that they’ll know I sent you.  Thank you!

Fascinating Books To Tempt Even the Most Reluctant Reader

There are many wonderful children’s book with beautiful illustrations, but some books go above and beyond by capturing the imagination and drawing the reader in with an interactive experience.

These are books that my children and I have found to be extra special. My thirteen year old daughter who is “too old for picture books” couldn’t resist taking a peek, and they are sure to inspire interest in even a reluctant reader.  They will make excellent gifts because they’ll be favorites to be enjoyed over and over.

Journey by Aaron Becker

A story told through pictures of a girl with a red crayon and a wonderful imagination.



Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson, Paintings by Rob Gonsalves

Amazing illustrations with optical illusions similar to those of M. C. Escher to challenge your imagination.  My favorite is the tall bridge that morphs into huge sailing ships on the title page.

Imagine a Night and Imagine a Place, by the same author and illustrator, are filled with creative illustrations as well, but my kids and I agreed that our favorite is Imagine a Day.

Flotsam By David Wiesner

Beautifully detailed illustrations make it easy to understand why this book is a Caldecott Medal winner.  Yet, the illustrations also tell a fascinating story without any text.  A boy finds an old-fashioned camera washed up on the beach.  When he has the film developed, the photos show a magically imaginative world under the ocean, as well as images of the other children who have discovered the camera on beaches around the world.

Chalk by Bill Thompson

With illustrations that look amazingly like photographs, Thompson tells the story of three kids who find a bag of chalk which magically makes what they draw come to life. Things get really exciting when they draw a dinosaur!  The illustrations look so real you’ll be looking closer to see if they might be photos or computer generated, but the copyright page states, “Bill Thompson embraced traditional painting techniques and meticulously painted each illustration by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.”

Can You See What I See?: Once Upon a Time by Walter Wick

Each illustration includes a list of everyday objects hidden in a fairy tale themed photo.

We also really like
Can You See What I See?: The Night Before Christmas


Press Here by Henre Tullet

Such a simple book illustrated with primary colors.  Yet it harnesses the power of the imagination to create an interactive experience in which the reader feels as though they are causing the pictures to change from one page to the next.


Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

“Mistakes can create opportunities for creativity” is the wonderful message of this book. This message is expressed through pages with flaps and windows that change tears and drips of paint into creative pictures.



Where’s Waldo?: Deluxe Edition by Martin Handford

One of several Waldo books by Hanford, Where’s Waldo? asks the reader to look for Waldo in each detailed illustration for a fun, interactive adventure.

Summer Squash Pasta


If you have more summer squash in your garden than you know what to do with, the Veggetti is a great way to make vegetable pasta!

I used yellow squash and zucchini to make the pasta with the Veggetti, then sauteed it with olive oil.  Very good with pasta sauce and Aidell’s chicken apple sausage (above.)  Delicious!

My friend who recommended trying the
Veggetti has collected lots of veggetti recipes on Pinterest.  Thanks, A!

If you want a faster method of spiral cutting vegetables, my friend has moved on to the Spiralizer which she loves.


Pope Joan eBook Deal on BookBub

Today, one of BookBub’s $1.99 Kindle deals is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.  These deals are usually only available for a limited time, often only a day.

I read this book several years ago, and found it quite interesting and enjoyable.  It has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon out of 596 reviews.

This story is based on an actual theory that one of the popes in the ninth century was a woman.  Joan was a very intelligent girl who disguised herself as her brother when he died and eventual goes to Rome where she becomes pope.  Whether the story is true or not, it is very well written and a great story about life in the ninth century.

BookBub is a site that sends an email listing several free eBooks and eBook deals each day.  It’s a great way to hear about the daily eBook specials!

Back To School Picture Books

If your kids are like mine, they can’t bear to even think about going back to school yet.  But it’s coming whether they like it or not.  Now’s a good time to get into the mind frame with some of these humorous and inspirational books!

Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus
By John Grandits
Kyle is riding the school bus for the first time so his brother gave him a list of rules.  How will he ever be able to follow all of them?!



First Day Jitters
It’s the first day at her new school and Sarah Jane Hartwell is nervous. With some coaxing she gets up and gets ready for school. But things are not always what they seem.




Marshall Armstrong Is New to Our School
By David Mackinstosh
Marshall is very different from everyone at his new school.  But one of his classmates gets to know him and comes to have a new opinion on making friends with new classmates.



Freedom School, Yes!
By Amy Littlesugar, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Most children are reluctant to return to school in the fall, but they may feel differently after hearing the challenges Jolie overcomes to attend school.  It’s 1964 and a Freedom School teacher comes to teach in Jolie’s community in Mississippi, but others in the community don’t want Jolie, her family and friends to attend school.  This book is based on interviews with actual Freedom School teachers who taught black children and adults in Mississippi.

My Teacher’s Secret Life
By Stephen Krensky, Illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
Kids are always surprised to see their teachers outside of school.  This is a cute story about a boy who thinks he knows what his teacher does when the kids leave school, but starts to wonder when he sees her in the community.



My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)
Bobby’s teacher is a monster. She’s often yelling and stomping. After they see each other in the park and spend some time together, they both see each other differently. A story that is both funny and sweet.

Books to Inspire Summer Fun!

Ladybug Girl
By David Soman and Jacky Davis
Lulu’s brother tells her she’s too little to play baseball, but as Ladybug Girl, she can do anything!  Filled with the simple pleasures of a morning outside and discoveries of what even a small person can do.

My Chincoteague Pony
By Susan Jeffers
Based on a true story, this book tells of Julie who “loved ponies…she read Misty of Chincoteague over and over again” and dreams of a pony of her own. This book appears to be out of print and only available second hand, but is a wonderful story of Julie’s trip to Chincoteague Island, Virginia for Pony Penning Day to buy a pony. It is through the touching help of strangers that her dream comes true.

Ghost Ship
By Mary Higgins Clark, Illustrated by Wendell Minor
While staying with his grandmother on Cape Cod, Thomas meets a boy on the beach who tells him a story of sailing ships, a brave captain and adventure long ago; accompanied by great pictures by award-winning illustrator Wendell Minor.

Roller Coaster
By Marla Frazee
A simple, fun story about the excitement of riding a roller coaster. Fun to watch the different people riding and their reactions to the ride throughout.

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!
By Candace Fleming
Mr. McGreely dreams of eating all the wonderful veggies from his garden.  And three rabbits do too!  Mr. McGreely will try to keep those rabbits out of his garden, but the rabbits just might be smarter.

Happy reading!

Simple Birthday Cards

Back in December, I challenged myself to make more simple cards in the coming new year.  I have to admit that it’s been hard for me to feel that simple cards are good enough, so I haven’t attempted to make simple cards in awhile.  Then I also got distracted with the (really cool!) Cards in a Box which are decidedly Not Simple.

But this past week, I needed six birthday cards for family and friends, and I had limited time.  So again I challenged myself to make simple cards.  It was difficult to make the cards work to my satisfaction, but in the end, I was very happy with the overall results!  It also made me very happy that I made more than four of the cards in just over two hours, where as it normally takes me two hours to make just one non-simple card!

What I have learned so far about simple cards:

  • paper with a texture or fibers embedded (such as the confetti card stock) adds a lot of interest to a simple card.
  • A great image can stand on it’s on with just a touch of color if it’s an outline stamp.
  • Humor can add an extra element to a simple card, such as a funny image, or text (see the Boynton cow below where I wrote inside “Have an udderly fabulous birthday!”)

Boynton Birthday Cat Card


Boynton Birthday Cow Card (I wrote inside, “Have an Udderly Fabulous Birthday!”)


Silhouette Flower Cards


Sailboat Masculine Card


Pink and White Cake Card (Thanks to Iris for the layout idea!)



Boynton Birthday Cat Card
RS – Kidstamps Boynton birthday cat
SU Teeny Tiny Wishes set Just For You
Card Stock – White confetti cardstock
Ink – Stampin’ Up! Cool Carribean
Accessories – aqua grosgrain ribbon,
Sanford Prismacolor Pencils

Boynton Birthday Cow Card
RS – Kidstamps Boynton birthday cow
SU Teeny Tiny Wishes set happy birthday
Card Stock – White confetti cardstock
Ink – Stampin’ Up! Taken With Teal
Accessories – Wildberry ribbon (Michael’s),
Sanford Prismacolor Pencils

Silhouette Flower Cards
RS – Just For Fun silhouette wild flowers with Queen Anne’s Lace and A Muse Queen Anne’s Lace,
Seaside Stampin’ Ink Happy B-day Calligraphy
Card Stock – Stampin’ Up! Daffodil Delight, Bashful Blue
Ink – Stampin’ Up! Taken With Teal
Accessories – Black satin ribbon

Sailboat Masculine Card
RS – Stampin’ Up! Simply Summer sailboat,
Stampin’ Up! Small Script set Wish
Card Stock – Stampin’ Up! Cool Carribean
Ink – Stampin’ Up! Bermuda Bay
Accessories – Teal ribbon tied with square knot

Pink and White Cake Card
RS – Paper Salon cake, Hero Arts Happy Birthday
Card Stock – white
Ink – Stampin’ Up! Melon Mambo
Accessories – Bright pink ribbon,
Stampin’ Up! Sizzix Designer Frames Oval embossing folder

Happy Birthday, America!

Picture books to celebrate America’s birthday.

My kids and I have read a lot of books about America and patriotism recently to get ready for July 4th.  These are our favorites.

America the Beautiful
Paintings by Wendell Minor
Beautiful paintings of American landscapes. Includes the story of how Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the poem “America the Beautiful” from Pikes Peak in Colorado in 1893, and how Samuel Augustus Ward wrote the music that is now well-known.



I Pledge Allegiance
By Pat Mora & Libby Martinez, Illustrated by Patrice Barton
A sweet story about Libby and her great aunt who passed the test to become an American citizen, and what the Pledge of Allegiance means and who wrote it.


The Star-Spangled Banner
Illustrated by Peter Spier
The national anthem illustrated with engaging watercolors that depict the British attack of Fort McHenry in Baltimore in the War of 1812 when the Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key.  Also includes the story of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during that battle and how it came to be in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.


By Allan Drummond
The excitement at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty, and what she means to America and the world.



The Impossible Patriotism Project
By Linda Skeers, pictures by Ard Hoyt
Caleb struggles to create a patriotism project for Parents’ Night until he is inspired by his father who can’t be there.  A touching story about the many symbols and meanings of patriotism.



Paul Revere’s Ride
Illustrated by Charles Santore
Beautiful illustrations bring to life the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, telling the story of how Paul Revere warned the colonists of the arrival of the British army.


Little Hands Celebrate America!: Learning about the U.S.A. Through Crafts & Activities (Little Hands Book)
By Jill Frankel Hauser
Crafts and activities to celebrate America; and learn about its symbols, natural beauty, landmarks, and diversity.

Happy reading and Happy 4th of July!

Daily Yoga App


I have tried a lot of yoga videos and even a class, but after all of them, my favorite is the Daily Yoga app.  This is a free app, available for iOS (iphone and iPad) and Android.  The free app is great and includes a dozen different yoga routines.

Even better, right now they are offering a summer special of 50% off on the subscription which gives you even more routines!  It’s a great time to try out the free app to see if you’d like the subscription at a discount.

What I like about this app is that the yoga routines are a perfect level for me.  Some videos I’ve watched have been too slow, too many poses with just breathing and poses that didn’t feel like they were challenging me.  Some have been too advanced with poses that were too challenging or required too many extra accessories such as straps and blocks.

I also really like that this app includes several time options for each routine, such as 10, 15 and 20 minutes.  I love being able to choose a length to fit my schedule.

I started doing yoga after having bad lower back pain last summer.  I’ve since found that just doing the the Daily Yoga for Back 10 minute routine once a week keeps my back healthy!  I even enjoy the feeling of stretched, warmed muscles after a routine so much that I’ve increased my yoga routines to several times a week.

UntitledTo see the special offer, install the free app on your mobile
device.  When you open the app, the special offer will pop-up as in the image at right.  Regular subscription prices are shown in the image below.  If you don’t catch the discounted subscription this time, they run specials periodically and they’ll pop-up when you open the app.

Enjoy and Nameste!