Monday, May 31, 2010

Up North With Some Kodak Moments

On my morning walk along the road near a stream a swarm of dragonflies danced around my head. They seem to be pulling some thoughts from my head for me to share with you.

Dragonflies...
aerial acrobats
who dart about
scooping up mosquitoes
for a tasty meal.

Dragonflies...
translucent wings
glistening in the sunlight.
Speed demons
moving at a very fast pace.

Dragonflies...
hover airborne
suddenly dart upward
downward
and even side to side.

Dragonflies...
are often mistaken for fairies.
But pay close attention
since both are out and about.

this free verse is a work in progress

Today being Up North presented me with several Kodak moments. First the swarm of dragonflies, then catching some sunbathing loons on the lake and a glimpse of a bald eagle perched beside its nest. I posted these pictures for you to enjoy.

Continue your holiday celebration with Hot Chocolate Wacky Cake
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 TB. melted butter
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1- 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3 TB. Kahlua
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Use an 8 inch square glass pan
  • Sift flour, white sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder, salt in bowl
  • Stir in the milk, melted butter, chocolate chips, vanilla, and Kahlua
  • Blend with a wooden spoon till smooth. The batter will be thick.
  • Spread it in the glass pan
  • In a small bowl mix brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa
  • Sprinkle over the batter
  • Pour hot coffee evenly over the top
  • Bake till top feels firm and edges just begin to bubble from the sauce that has formed underneath about 35 minutes
  • Let sit 15 minutes to cool slightly before serving
  • Spoon out portions of cake and sauce

optional serve with whip cream or vanilla ice cream

Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Eventful Week

Chapter 16: The Deal is Sealed
Written by Rocky Socky
The Sock Mart officially has two new owners with equal partnerships: Sock Fairies and Gnomes. Their venture capital company called Gemstone signed the purchase agreement on Friday. Right away they instituted several new offerings for the Memorial holiday weekend business.
First they put out two recycling bins in front of the store near the cash registers. For each sock purchase a receipt for a donated sock must be shown. This will keep the sockfairies happy knowing there is a good supply of mismatched socks to choose from.
Next the gnomes set up a kiosk in back of the store. They plan to sell gems, jewelry and accessories.
Holokai continues to work part time on Saturday and Sunday. Lucky Will's school is out for the summer. He is kept busy being Holokai's manager plus being an adoptive parent to two sock monkeys that were his birthday gifts. Palti (Hawaiian for my escape) is the Sock Monkey I gave Will for his birthday. Holokai's gift was a very small sock monkey that came all the way from Maui. His Hawaiian name means the sea.

Palti and Kai were both introduced to the crowd on Saturday. They went crazy seeing not one but three monkeys out on the sock tree. They were such a hit and Will even had taught them how to juggle small bananas. Oh what fun it must have been to watch them toss bananas back and forth and up and down. I had to work driving the Sockland Express and missed seeing all of their funny antics.
The crowd loved having the drawing for a free pair of monkey socks. But by Sunday at noon all other monkey socks had been sold out.
Seems everyone wants monkey socks worn by Palti, Kai and Holokai.
On Saturday and Sunday after each performance Holokai announced that next weekend the store has a big surprise for their customers. He told the crowd to check their local paper The Sockland Gazette on Friday for the reveal and coupons. I guess we will all have to wait till Friday to see what exciting things are planned by the new Sock Mart owners.


All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Moon Alert

FYI: Be sure to step outside tonight to enjoy the full moon.

Recently when browsing the children's section in the library this title caught my attention White Is The Moon by Valerie Greely. It is a simple circular tale that takes the reader though the day and through a range of colors using images of the natural world. I thought the format of the story with its repetition and rhyme would be helpful in teaching children how to write a simple poem. Note how on each page one animal is introduced and then it pops up in the verse on the next page.
The following are the first four pages from the book.
White is the moon
Shining bright
Sees an owl
In the night

Brown is the owl
With steely stare
Sees a fox
Standing there

Red is the fox
Sly and fast
Sees a frog
Hopping past

Green is the frog
With glinting eyes
Sees the sun
Slowly rise

Another book I'd like to recommend for adult writers is Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers. This is a great writing source to help the writer discover how to craft beginnings that will hook the reader, middles to compel the reader to stay with the writing and endings that leave the reader eager to read more of the author's work. The book shows examples of how to employ many literary sound devices and techniques that empower writers to move their writing from ordinary to the extraordinary. Throughout the book examples of fine writing were quoted from well known writers such as Roald Dahl and Natalie Babbitt.

In Ralph Fletcher's A Writing Kind of Day he ends his poem book with the following poem. Perhaps his words will inspire you to write a poem tonight under the full moon.
A Writing Kind of Night

It is clear tonight,
a writing kind of night.

There's a moon stirring up
mysterious metaphors
in my imagination.

The heavens are jam-packed
with planets and black holes
that are still undiscovered,

and magnificent poems
that are still unwritten.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Mania

Chapter 15: New Developments
Written by Rocky Socky
The past few days have become almost a blur with so many events unfolding. I wrote last week about a Venture Capital Company that was being formed by the gnomes and sock fairies to propose a buyout of the Sock Mart. The gnomes are the financial backers since they have accumulated a lot of wealth through jewelry making and selling gems. This new investment company was named: Gemstone. Thursday the proposal was presented to the owners of the Sock Mart. A deal was made where gnomes and sock fairies each have shares of 50%. Provisions were made to keep the current staff. Since the addition of Holokai has increased weekend sales an agreement was made to retain his services for 4 hours on Saturday and three hours on Sunday. An added clause stipulated that any one purchase made by a customer must be accompanied by a single sock to be donated to the recycling bins placed near the cash registers. This way a bigger supply of single unmatched socks would be available to the sock fairies. Donations of single unmatched socks will be advertised in local papers. In addition, signs will be posted inside the Sockland Express bus. The current owners received a very fair price for their store. The sale will be completed this week.
Will's party was a lot of fun. Holokai was beside himself with excitement over Will's gift from me. It was a dream come true to have another sock monkey to play with and it is even close to his size. Will certainly is going to be kept busy being an adoptive parent and Holokai's stage manager on the weekends. Lucky Will's studies will be ending in a few short weeks and he will have the summer off to keep on top of these new responsibilities. But the biggest surprise of the evening came with Holokai's gift. Instead of wrapping it, Holokai sent all the guests on a scavenger hunt to find Will's gift. It was spotted hanging out in a nearby plant. Can you believe it! Another new sock monkey to join the gang. Holokai rescued his friend from the shelf at the Sock Sanctuary in Maui where he came from. My two traveling companions from the Maui trip helped arrange all of this for him. Imagine Will's astonishment ...now he has two adopted monkeys to take care of!
All I can say is...this was quite a weekend to remember!

A picture of Will's birthday gift has been posted.

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Perfect Gift

Chapter Fourteen: The Gang just Got Bigger
written by Rocky Socky
Yesterday after one of my Sockland Express runs I made a quick stop at Sockland Mall. Will has a birthday this month and I had some time to do a bit of shopping. As I was leaving one of the stores a moment of weakness came over me. There on a shelf was this very small red box with the cutest sock monkey peering out the box window. I was unable to resist this purchase, especially when I read the words: Please Adopt Me-Sock Monkey Rescue Kit.
The best part about being a sock monkey adoptive parent owner is this little sock monkey comes with its own booklet of care instructions. Now I knew Will could handle all this and the monkey would be great company for Holokai. I know he will find the booklet helpful since it covers things like housebreaking, separation anxiety, which toys and books to buy, and socialization issues.
Will's party is this weekend and I am so excited to bring this gift. I posted a picture of the birthday gift. But don't tell anyone since I want it to be a surprise for Will.

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Possible Buyout

Chapter Thirteen: Combined Forces
It took me two days to get the full story about the recent late night meeting at the fairy circle. Not only were there sock fairies in attendance, but they had also invited their gnome friends for indispensable advice. Gnomes are earth spirits who work with fairies to protect earth's treasures. Certainly socks, a needed accessory in this climate, would come under the category:Earth's Treasures.
Gnomes are peaceful beings who tend to live in hilly meadows and rocky woodlands. Because of their love for animals, all creatures of the forest are their friends. They are guardians and protectors who are willing to help others at any time. You also need to know that gnomes love gems and jewelry. They are considered by many to be one of the best gem cutters in existence. Which brings me to the point that over time their accumulated wealth has been in gem stones. After lengthy discussion it became clear that their sock fairy friends needed financial as well as moral support. A buyout plan to obtain the Sock Mart was hatched. This would would then give the gnomes and sock fairies complete control. Since the weekend business brought in most of the week's revenue it was agreed they all had to move quickly so a Venture Capital Company was formed. Two representatives from the sock fairy and gnome groups were elected. It is my understanding that tomorrow their proposal will be presented to the Sock Mart owners.
As always I will keep you updated on ongoing developments.

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010
______________________________________________________________________
The following recipe was adapted from Byerly's Summer 2010 Real Food magazine
Barbecue Caribbean-Glazed Chicken
Ingredients: Caribbean Glaze
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 3 TB. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dark molasses
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 tsp. allspice
  • 1/3 tsp. cinnamon (Saigon spiced)
  • 2 TB. dark rum
  • 2 TB. orange marmalade
  • 2 TB. cornstarch mixed into 1/2 cup cold water

Directions:
  • Pour everything into a small saucepan
  • Cook over low heat until mixture forms a light syrup
  • Divide mixture in half
  • Marinate 4 chicken breasts in refrigerator for 4 hours in a plastic bag- turn a few times
  • Grill and baste with rest of marinade

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Skyrocketing Sales

Chapter 12 Update
Despite some mishaps Holakai made the past two weekends working, sales have increased substantially at the Sock Mart. Word has spread about his funny antics on the sock tree, impressive juggling, particularly with bananas, and hourly sock drawings. The manager even hired extra security to help keep the crowds orderly and cashiers to keep up long lines of customers. It seems everyone wants to buy socks, especially monkey socks.
But the sock fairies are not impressed at all with skyrocketing sock sales. You have to remember one of the jobs of the sock fairies is to collect single socks. When their bags are full they go to the sock bank in search of matched pairs. If they are lucky each matched pair will entitle them to a gold coin.
Last night I had a funny feeling that trouble is brewing when I heard about their meeting. The sock fairies were getting together at midnight in the fairy ring under the oak tree. I suspect they have some mischief planned to slow down sock sales. I will do my best to see what they are up to and get back to you as soon as I can with more information.
To be Continued...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Makes You Smile

What Makes You Smile is a caption that caught my attention today. I volunteer at an elementary school. The caption blazed across a hall bulletin board in the primary wing. The art work was priceless. Each child had drawn their face with a very LARGE smile. On it they wrote about the things that makes them smile such as: funny siblings, cookies, hugs, presents, Disneyworld, tickling, puppy kisses and their list goes on and on.
I thought to myself about the things that make me smile: such as kind words, Up North scenery, fruity drinks with paper umbrellas, being with friends and family, making my 12 times at the Y for a reduced rate, sock fairy adventures and yes.. my list just goes on and on too.
I GOOGLED smiles and was quite surprised at the slew of smile quotes. Here are some of my favorites.
  • A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. Phyllis Diller
  • A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks. Charles Gordy
  • Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. George Elliot
  • It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown. Author Unknown
  • A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. No one is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it. And none so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as no one needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. Author Unknown
Hope these photos make you SMILE


Monday, May 10, 2010

A Splendid Day

Yesterday we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to take a trip to Arboretum. The tulips, crabapple trees, and lilacs were stunning. Of course where was my camera when I really needed it??? But as luck would have it I used my camera phone. The pictures turned out so much better than I thought they would so I posted some for you to enjoy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Good Writing

L M N O peas by Keith Baker is a book I mentioned last week in my blog as a suggested title to consider. I could not resist buying such a clever alphabet book. The illustrations are so imaginative as alphabet peas have a variety of adventures in the alphabet world. The brief text compliments the illustrations and is easy to follow. And I even learned a new word when I came upon the phrase We're yogis in a pose!
A new chapter book which I could not pass up purchasing was The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. This book has few illustrations, but it's the rich text draws you into the world of night fairies. This is the opening page.

Flora was a night fairy. She was born a little before midnight when the moon was full. For the rest of her life-and fairies can live hundreds of years-that hour, a little before midnight, would be the time when her magic was the strongest.
Flora was at home in the dark. Like all night fairies, she cast a silver shadow, which helped her hide in the moonlight.

Exploring a bookstore can be a very fine adventure as one discovers new titles as well as rediscovering the old.
This book exploration brings me to another rich experience. Yesterday I had the privilege of listening to some graduating education students from a local college read their thesis (action research papers). Their dedication, earnestness and enthusiasm was impressive to watch as each shared their projects. The importance of teaching the fundamentals of good writing was a recurring theme in the topics addressed. Certainly a worthy goal building a solid foundation of writing fundamentals will help produce good writers in their classrooms. Understanding these fundamentals will help students strive to become the best writers they can be.
I thought this quote from an eighth grader in the book A Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher was quite poignant and certainly reinforces the goals these future teachers hope to achieve in their classrooms.

When I pick up the pen it changes me. I'm not the same person. The way I talk, think, and everything changes. I feel more natural, more relaxed, and more like myself. That is the true power of the pen. p. 127

Who knows...maybe someday these future writers will write a book and we will pick it up to enjoy.
_________________________________________________________________
The sun is out... my flowers survived the frost!!!!
I wish all of you ...
Happy Mother's Day

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Winner

Chapter Eleven
"Here's mine!" shrieked a young customer pushing through the crowd clutching onto a slip of paper for the box.
Holokai danced round and round shaking the box up. A hush went over the crowd as Will rummaged around inside the box and pulled out a piece of paper. "And... the winning number to match is... 2056."
"Me! It's me!" shouted an excited winner running towards Will and Holokai.
Will found a pair of monkey socks in the winner's size and...just like the ones Holokai was wearing. He took a picture of the winner with Holokai showing off their socks to post on the Sock Mart website. This was the fourth winner of the day.
"Here is a picture of The Born to be Wild group," said Will to the excited winner. "Enjoy your souvenir!"
As the crowd was moving in different directions throughout the store Will noticed Holokai's face. He had a look of panic just seeing the manager approaching them. He was prepared for a long, stern lecture on his recent mishap. "Holokai and Will, what a day we have had.! Do you realize our sales have increased the past four hours you have worked? Everyone loves watching you on the sock tree. And we can hardly keep up stocking the tables with merchandise. But Holokai when you work 11-3 tomorrow you must try something other than bananas to juggle. We can't have any more lights smashed!"
"I know just the thing to juggle,"
said Holokai. "And... I had such a fun day making everyone laugh".
A side note: Born to be Wild group photo posted.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Writer's Weekend

This past weekend I was fortunate to attend The Children's and Young Adult Literature Conference at The Loft Literary Center. I always find it energizing to participate in events sponsored by the literary community. There were several highlights for me the past two days. One was a networking lunch time moderated by John Coy. He is an accomplished local author who wrote the picture books Night Driving and Strong to the Hoop. I have always enjoyed using these books to teach creative writing. Jon Coy shared some of his insights with the group regarding the challenges of publishing picture books in today's market. At this time he sees a stronger market for chapter books and YA novels in the publishing world. He has moved to that niche in the market with book titles that include: Crackback, Box Out, Top of Order and Eyes on the Goal.
Another highlight for me was Nancy Carlson's presentation Writing and Illustrating Your Work. She is a local author/illustrator who has published over 50 primary children's books that include: Start Saving Henry, Harriet's Recital, and Louanne Pig in Talent Show. Nancy Carlson also spoke to the challenges of the picture books in today's market. She emphasized the importance of marketing and social networking. She has taken on a personal challenge to do a sketch a day for a year and post each one on her blog. Check it out: www.nancycarlson.com
On a personal note I would like to add there a lot of resources and classes to support writers at The Loft Literary Center.
Lastly, I would like to recommend some pictures book titles that were highlighted by Andrea Welch, an editor at beach lane books as fine examples of artistic elements and good writing:
Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
Winter Is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer (local author/illustrator)
Who Said Coo by Deborah Ruddell
Fold me A Poem by Kristine O"Connell illustrated by Lauren Stringer