Thursday, December 31, 2009

Answer to Thought for Thursday

Answer: Spurs. The Spur Awards are given out for fiction and non-fiction about the American West.


What are the annual literary awards of the Western Writers of America called?

Put your answer in comments, then come back around 3:00 to see, if you were "write" or wrong.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Answer to Word for Wednesday

Answer: Qwantz is intellectually stimulating material found on the internet and/or sexy and exciting - according to the Urban Dictionary. Check it out here.

Word for Wednesday

Word: Qwantz

Take a guess, what does it mean? Put your guess in comments then come back around 3:00 to see if you are correct.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pink Glove Dance for Breast Cancer Support

Trip for Tuesday

Poitiers, France

On January 8th, my son's girlfriend will be going to France to study abroad for a semester. She will be studying with the University of Oregon study abroad program.

Poitiers is about an hour and a half away from Paris. It looks like a small community in an ancient European city but we'll find out more after MacKenzie has been there for a while. If you want to follow her journey, check out her blog here to learn more about traveling, studying abroad, and living in France.

I'm sure we'll all miss her but what a life experience this will be for a young lady.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Munchies - Homemade Kahlua

So we still have the New Year to celebrate and here's an EZ homemade recipe to help:

Homemade Kahlua:


1 quart water
3 cups sugar
16 teaspoons instant coffee
1/5 Vodka
2 teaspoons vanilla (or one fresh vanilla bean)

Simmer two hours, allow to cool, add two teaspoons real vanilla extract

Makes approx. two fifths of Kahlua

You can see the two bottles we made in the picture. Plus you can make it taste more or less like coffee. I always tell my kids recipes are just a guideline - adjust everything to your own taste and desire. That's why I love to cook at home - things taste just the way I want them - well, unless I burn it. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


One of our Christmas traditions is going to a movie on Christmas. So, today we went to see Avatar, which is about 3 hours long but I barely noticed because the movie was so engrossing. This is a James Cameron movie and a Fern Gully grown up feature film. It mixes drama, graphics, suspense and thriller all in one. I would definitely recommend it on many levels.

And, if you haven't seen Fern Gully - go rent it this weekend. That is a definite must-see for any family with kids.

Friday, December 25, 2009


I hope you all have a healthy and happy holiday and an even better New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Why are there so many names for one man? And why does he look so different?

Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus,
Kris Kringle, Old Saint Nick

And what about elves, gnomes,
nisses, or companions to help Santa? Why are there so many?

Because there are so many cultures, countries, and people who celebrate Christmas. Some of the celebrations have merged together and people believe these names classify one man but is that true or is it merely a merging of beliefs over the centuries?

I'd say it's a mixture. These names all symbolize the spirit of giving through one heroic iconic individual. Saint Nicholas may not really be Santa Claus but he sure is similar--at least in my opinion.

During the holidays I hear people complain that Christmas begins earlier and earlier every year but did you know that Christmas starts earlier and lasts longer in most other countries?

The United States is a capitalistic society where everything is rush-rush, hurry-hurry but other countries savor the season. Still, I have to warn you that not all the celebrations are based on cheerful legends, in fact, some are pretty gruesome but here is a sampling of stories from around the world. And, some of the countries that celebrate Christmas do it for weeks rather than days.

The Netherlands begin their celebration on December 5th on Saint Nicholas or Santa Klaus Eve.

Saint Nicholas was a fourth-century Bishop born in Spain who brought Dutch children holiday gifts.

In Syria:

In Syria and Lebanon Christmas celebrating begins on the anniversary of Saint Barbara's death. It is said she became a martyr in 235 on December 4th.

Not a happy holiday story but legends tell of a beautiful girl named Barbara who was pursued by many men; however, she had nothing to do with them because they were all pagans and was devoted to her Christian faith. Her pagan father was so angry that he tried to kill her but miracles kept saving her. Finally she was locked away in a prison so no men could see her beauty when the authorities denounced her as a Christian and the pagan judge condemned her to death. Her own father carried out the execution.

Despite her suffering, she never wavered in her love for God. That's why Syrian children love Saint Barbara and are taught of her courage and devotion.

Today Saint Barbara is remembered with a Feast that uses candles, vivid colors and candies to help celebrate.

In Lorraine, France

December 6th begins the celebrating of Saint Nicholas' Day.

Saint Nicholas is said to bring candies and nuts to all the good kids but he has a not so kind companion, Pere Fouettard, who is similar to Holland's Zwarte Piet, he carries a bundle of sticks and remembers which boys and girls have been naughty or nice. Bad little boys and girls have to keep an eye open to make sure they don't get swatted with a switch on their toes as Pere Fouettard passes.

In Sweden:

Saint Lucia's Day is December 13th in Sweden. She wears a white dress with a red sash and a wreath of lit candles on top of her head. She announces the Yuletide. This custom goes back to 304 when legends says Saint Lucia was condemned to death. Another gruesome tale. Folklore says she was born in Sicily to a noble Christian family and had her own eyes removed by a rejected suitor because he was a pagan. The suitor was so angry he denounced her as a Christian and she was imprisoned where she was tortured and killed.

But, Lucia means "Light" and she is honored with the candles.

There are so many different ways to celebrate the season and so many different days that people party but, it seems to me, most countries celebrate the season in similar ways using the cozy comforts of life to make the season memorable. And what better way to celebrate than with good food shared with family and friends? And it never hurts to decorate the house and add a little warmth with the glow from flickering flames and scented candles plus it's always fun to share presents and goodies.

Does your family have any traditions that have been passed on throughout the decades?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Word(s) for Wednesday

I usually play a word game on Wednesday but I came across this very fun teach-nology word game/lesson using Christmas words.

For any of you out there with kids, I think you might enjoy this worksheet especially since Winter break is upon us and the kids are probably antsy about opening their presents. This might help give you something to do.

Let me know if you like it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Techy Tip for Tuesday

Customizing Outlook.

I took a class at work recently that showed us some tricks about how to customize Outlook. So, if you have Outlook as your email and calendar software, I hope this helps.

You can change the look of your calendar.

Change the Day/Week/Month view

1. In the Calendar, click on View, point to Arrange by, point to Current View, and then click customize current view.
2. Click Other Settings.
3. Do any of the following:
To change the day display, change the Time Font, Font, and Time scale.
To display appointment end times, under Week or month, select the Show end time check box.
To display weekends together, select the compress weekend days check box.
To display appointments times as miniature clocks, under Week or Month, select the Show time as clocks check box.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Trees 'Round the World

One of the most famous trees of all time is the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree:

Most of the other trees are very impressive.

The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., is decorated with 3,000
ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling
evergreens in the 'Pathway of Peace' represent the 50 U.S. states.

The world's largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes
of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy's Umbria region.
Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire,
the 'tree' is a modern marvel for an ancient city

A Christmas tree befitting Tokyo's nighttime neon display is
projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.

Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague's Old Town Square,
and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous
Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains
in the southern Czech Republic.

Venice 's Murano Island renowned throughout the world
for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree
in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone
Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern
reflection of the holiday season.

Moscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox
calendar on Jan. 7. For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with
festivities in anticipation of Father Frost's arrival on his magical
troika with the Snow Maiden.
He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year tree, or yolka, which is traditionally a fir.

The largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall)
can be found in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal.
Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special
enchantment of the city during the holiday season.

'Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree': Even in its humblest attire,
aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany's Karwendel mountains,
a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.

Ooh la la Galeries Lafayette! In Paris, even the Christmas trees are chic.
With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and
high fashion, it's no surprise this show-stopping department store draws
more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower

In addition to the Vatican's heavenly evergreen, St. Peter's Square
in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.

The Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol
is dressed for a party. Madrid's two-week celebration makes
millionaires along with merrymakers. On Dec. 22, a lucky citizen
will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world's biggest lottery.

A token of gratitude for Britain's aid during World War II,
the Christmas tree in London's Trafalgar Square has been
the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947.

Drink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer
Frankfurt's city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.

Against a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of Red, White and Blue
Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown).

(Author unknown)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Giveaway at

And who couldn't use some more shopping gear? It's a fun eco-friendly bag to put your groceries, or whatever you wanna buy, inside.

So pop on over here and post a comment, maybe you'll walk - or, um, click - away with a fun bag you can fill however you like.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Happiest Time of the Year

This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year but I also think it's the busiest time of the year. Sometimes it's hard to remember how happy we are when we're soooooo busy. So I wanted to remind us all of an old childhood tool parents used to teach us the simple things: "STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN" so you can remember to appreciate these moments in your life, otherwise they slip by and you barely notice.

And if you're curious which ones of us are the happiest, yes, there's been a study to determine which state is the happiest, you can check it out here. And you might be surprised.

I hope you all have a happy holiday season!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Earth-Friendly Friday

Recycling is up, garbage is down - at least in Portland, Oregon.

The city uses blue and green roll carts that are used to collect unsorted recyclables. Now, with this one simple change, which makes recycling easier, Portlanders are recycling and composting more. For example, since last year recycling and yard debris material increased by 14 percent which is the equivalent of 10,000 tons or 20,000 pounds. Not bad for one year.

This one change helped residential garbage decrease by almost nine percent or 9,000 tons - which is 18,000 pounds of garbage that isn't going into the landfills.

Overall, the city says that Portland's households and businesses are recycling and composting 67 percent of the waste that they generate. The goal is to stop growth in the waste stream and raise recycling to 75% by 2015. This is one way to reach that goal.

Plus, if you're looking for some green gifts, check out this site:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Answer to Thought for Thursday

Answer: George Washington. And these dogs were the founders of the American Foxhound breed.

Washington bred descendants of English hounds mixed with a French foxhound given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette.

Thought for Thursday

Thought for Thursday for all you dog lovers out there:

WHICH U.S. President's dogs were named Tipsy, Drunkard, Sweetlips, Truelove and Tipler?

Take a guess. Put in comments and then come back around 3:00 to see if you knew the answer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Answer to Word for Wednesday

Answer: Describing someone with the ability to use their feet to pick things up. Also, pedextrous. If you want to read more, check out the Urban Dictionary here.

Word for Wednesday

Word: pedexterity

What does it mean? Break it down and you might get it.

Post your guess in comments and then come back around 3:00 to see if you were write or wrong ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tea for Tuesday

Actually I thought I'd share Three Cups of Tea By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin sponsored by The Literary Arts and Powell's Books

"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger," a villager tells ... "The second time, you are an honored guest. The third time you become family and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die."

I went to hear Greg Mortenson speak at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Monday night and he is an inspiration. He's one man promoting peace with education, especially for girls, in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Using Pennies for Peace to fund his projects of building schools in war-torn Pakistan and Afghanistan, he is proving that one person can make a difference in the world--and it can be a dramatic one.

He says "I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death."

How is this related to the upcoming holiday season? I would say when we think of "Peace on Earth" we can think of Greg's mission to promote peace through education. The pen truly is mightier than the sword.

Plus, this lecture reminded me of my favorite show of all time, "It's a Wonderful Life"

George Bailey--just like Greg Mortenson--proves that one life can make a tremendous difference in the world.

So Merry Christmas You Good Ole' Savings & Loan!

Monday, December 14, 2009


When I was young we only had one t.v. I know, I know, deprived children that we were. And, more than that, Dad was the one who ran it. Not the kids. But every Friday night Mom would let us watch a movie - it was usually something similar to Animal Planet but back then it was called Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

And there was always a lion or a crocodile chasing Jim across the field, through the water, or where ever he was heading.

But the big treat of the night - aside from the movie - was popcorn. We all got to have a bowl of popcorn, sometimes even two. And we'd even get to have a glass of pop. My choice back then was Coca-Cola or what we now call Coke.

Those were the simple times.

Today there are so many choices it can seem overwhelming. HBO, Showtime, Disney Channel, and that doesn't even include the other 400 channels offered nightly.

Kids are bombarded with choices today. Some times I wish we could step back in time, to the simpler days. Especially at the holidays when we're all so busy getting ready for that one big day.

What simple memories do you have of growing up and the holidays?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Spotlight: Barefoot Books

For all my writer friends I thought I'd post a little bit about a book publisher where you can submit your work.

Barefoot Books is a small, independent publishing company. They specialize in children's books - for a wide range of ages.

They focus on themes that support independence of spirit, encourage openness to others and foster a lifelong love of learning.

Their website iss:, and you can submit to the Submissions editor at:

2067 Massachusettes Avenue,
Cambridge MA 02140.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Freelance Success Stories Contest

Sponsored by Writer's Market - just thought I'd pass on the info to all my writing friends:


There is still time to enter the 5th annual Freelance Success Stories contest. This free contest is looking for real stories of freelance success. These should be personal stories (first person) and true. First place will receive $750 and publication in the 2011 Writer's Market.

Submission rules: Stories should be 800-1,500 words. Submit as .doc (not .docx) or .txt attachment, or in the body of the e-mail message. Subject line should read Freelance Success Stories (or there's a chance it could be deleted without being read). E-mail submissions only to

Good luck!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Earth-Friendly Friday

Make Monkey Memories and Warm Woolies for Christmas rather than buying needless things and trivial trinkets.

I made my daughter a monkey blanket. This is a useful gift-I hope-that will last for years.

We went to the fabric store and she picked out two fabrics: one side is monkeys and the other is striped - so the blanket is fun colored, cheerful and reversible.

But you could make a blanket out of old jeans, favorite shirts and skirts or any fabric you have around the house. If you don't feel ready to take on a blanket - and to be honest, it's kind of a two-person project because it's so big and heavy, it helps to have another set of hands to help feed the material through the presser foot. But you could always start with pillowcases. That's one project we used to do for Christmas when the kids were young. I'd take them to the fabric store and let them pick out fun fabrics and then we'd sew pillowcases that they still use today.

Gifts can be fun and useful without being wasteful and frivolous.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Answer to Thought for Thursday

Answer: They were radiator caps and homes for gauges.

They turned to decorative ornaments when the radiator caps went underneath the hood and temperature gauges moved to the dashboard.

Thought for Thursday

?: What was the original purpose of automobile hood ornaments?

Put your guess in "comments" then come back around 3:00 to see if it was correct.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Some choices are hard, difficult tasks that rip at our emotions and torture our souls. Others, aren't so hard.

Let me explain.

Here's a photo of me someone snapped when I totally wasn't expecting it. I don't think I could have looked worse if I tried.

He was going to post this one if I didn't supply another picture. Come on, that wasn't a hard choice to make.

I had to take another one and quick:

So, what hard choices have you made lately: peanut butter or chocolate, heck why not eat both? EZ-smeazy decision making Kim's way. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Magic Christmas Bars

Around the holidays, I love to bake super-Yummy recipes. Here's one I've been baking for years and the kids still ask for it.


1 and 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter
1 can 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups chocolate chips
1 and 1/2 cups coconut flakes
(optional: 1 cup chopped nuts)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix graham crackers and butter together and press into baking pan for the crust.

Pour sweetened condensed milk over crust.

Layer coconut and then chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 minutes or until coconut just starts to turn golden.

Let cool for ten minutes (if you can) cut and serve. Yummy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Claws is Coming to Town

Here comes Santa Claws, Here Comes Santa Claws - right down Santa Claws Lane

The holidays are upon us and Santa Claws is Making a List
- he's checking it twice
He's gonna find out who's naughty or mice

Santa cat is coming to town

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Almost Homemade

I'm trying to make a lot of my gifts this year to help keep down costs and not contribute to the over-consumption and consumerism that has become the holidays.

I had an idea for my boys, since Jacob and Luke both like to sketch, I bought them inexpensive sketch pads and then used some art adhesive (we had sitting around the house) to glue on some of their own art to the sketchbooks.

I think it adds a personal touch and is fun. But you could do the same thing for other people. It wouldn't even have to be homemade art, it could be a photograph or a favorite saying. Just glue photos of favorite holiday meals to a notebook and give it to a cook in your life, add a couple recipes to the inside and you've got a fun, thoughtful present that didn't cost much more than some time.

You could do the same thing for the gardener is your life. Glue some favorite flower photos to a notebook, add some paper for notes and tuck away a couple seed catalogs you can pick up for free (usually) at your local garden store, and you've got another fun gift.

I'm wishing you a Happy, healthy--almost--Homemade Holiday!

It's easy to come up with ideas if you think for a minute or two.

So, if you have an idea, please share it in the comments so others can enjoy the season without breaking the bank.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


1. Is it good if a vacuum really sucks?

2. Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?

3. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?

4. If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?

5. Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack?

6. Why does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?

7. Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?

8. Why do "tug" boats push their barges?

9. Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we are already there?

10. Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?

11. Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?

12.. Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?

13.. Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?

14. Why do "overlook" and "oversee" mean opposite things?

15. Why is "phonics" not spelled the way it sounds?

16. If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?

17. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

18. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

19. If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?

20. Why is bra singular and panties plural?

21. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?

22. Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?

23. How come abbreviated is such a long word?

24. Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?

25. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

26. Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?

27. Christmas - What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?

28. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Earth-Friendly Friday

One thing we can give at the holidays that won't cost a penny is time. Last weekend my husband helped my son make a home-made frame for a piece of art he'd bought at a festival.

Jake wanted something special but custom frames are expensive and he wanted real brass or copper accents, which made the prospect more expensive. So the art sat and waited for Jake to get a little extra money. But it waited...and waited... until my husband offered to help him make the frame from scratch. Together they cut the glass out of a recycled window, wood left over from another project and brass. Then they bent the brass and screwed it all together. It took some time but only cost $4.00.

So, maybe you can't cut wood, bronze or glass, but what talents can you share with those you love? All it takes is time and maybe some creativity to create beautiful things together. It not only creates wonderful gifts, it creates memories that will last a lifetime.

Instead of buying gifts, think about making them or giving the gift of time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Answer to Thought for Thursday

Answer: Stevie Wonder

Thought for Thursday

Thought: In 1980 what entertainer wrote and recorded the song "Happy Birthday" to gain support for a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Take a guess and then come back around 3:00 to see if you were right.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Answer to Word for Wednesday

Answer: Promising success - now isn't that what we all hope for? If you want to read more, check it out here.


Word: Auspicious

Take a guess, what does it mean?
Put your guess in comments, please.

Hint: Something we writers hope we will glean.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


One of the control functions I use all the time is Ctrl + F

That is a shortcut for "find" a word. So if I'm looking for a name in my manuscript, I just hit Ctrl + F and type in the word I'm looking for. The cursor will pop to the place I'm looking for.

Another quick shortcut is Ctrl + G

That is a shortcut where I can type in the page number I want to pop to. So say I'm on page 1 and I want to go to page 146, I type Ctrl + G and then 146, WAHLAH, like magic I've been beamed to the coordinates I wanted to find.

Hope this helps you in your writing, revising, and reading.