Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Hoping you all have a frightfully fun Holiday Halloween!

This witch is actually a pretty lady: Lisa Martin making fun for neighborhood kids! Way-to-go Lisa

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Punkin Fun

I love Halloween and decorating the front porch for the kids. I like to make lots of different kinds of punkins and I don't make them scary I try to make them pretty, funny, cute or just kind of weird

This one is kind of weird

This is how I did it.

I found a pumpkin with a fun "nose" then I took some ping-pong balls and colored "eyes" on them. I carved out a couple holes to stick the balls in and then I glued some black Spanish moss on for the hair--WAH-LAH Super Simple pumpkin face.

My son wanted to make a pumpkin of his puppy, Faeden.

 And my daughter did a penguin.

How 'bout you? What type of pumpkins do you like to make?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baby Blanket Dilemma

I wanted to knit a blanket for a friend's baby. So I did.

But this is awfully pink for THOR. So I decided I'd make a better blanket for him.

This is how I did it.

I know even my fingernails match this green. That wasn't planned. Guess I'm greener than I ever thought.
This nail polish color is actually called wonder I LOVE it!

Now I'm just hoping Thor and his Mama like it :D fingers crossed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Interview with Oregon Writer: Dawn Prochovnic, MA

First off:  THANKS for taking the time to answer these questions and Gosh it’s one giant step for you and a huge leap (of hope) for writers everywhere.

1)      The first question that comes to my mind for me is how many books have you had published and/or under contract? 

So far I’ve been fortunate enough to have 16 of my books published. My first books were published in 2009 and my most recent books came out in 2012.

This is a real inspiration for writers, to hear success stories, especially in this economy.

2)      What was your inspiration for your book(s)?

In the year 2000 I started SmallTalk Learning, a company that specializes in teaching sign language workshops to parents and caregivers of hearing infants and toddlers. Sign language builds early literacy skills and helps preverbal babies communicate before they can talk. I discovered early on that the most effective way to help people learn and remember particular signs is to teach them catchy songs they can sing and sign with while they interact with their babies.  I wrote all kinds of ditties for this purpose, modeled after familiar children’s songs and rhymes like “Old MacDonald Has a Farm” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”    

After awhile I discovered that preschoolers and elementary school children are also interested in and can benefit from sign language. I developed an interest in expanding my reach beyond that which I could manage in my own classes.  I wanted to share the joyful experience of signing with children and their grown-ups across the miles, and I decided the best way to do that would be to publish a handful of my classroom songs in the form of picture books. 

In the summer of 2004, I attended my first of many writing conferences, and I formed a critique group so that I could refine my writing skills, transform my classroom songs into stories, and learn about the business of publishing. After many rounds of critique, countless revisions, and heaps of submissions and rejections, I signed my first publishing contract in March of 2008.  In addition to the books I have published, I now have several other books in the works that are not at all related to signing—some that are making their rounds through publisher’s slush piles and others that are still being fine-tuned.

3)      Was it a difficult task finding an agent/publisher?

I do not have an agent yet—that’s one of the many things on my to-do list! 

It was definitely hard work and time consuming to find the right publisher for my books. I researched diligently and submitted regularly. Happily, several editors took an interest in my work.  Not-so-happily, I heard again and again that my concept was not quite right for the trade publishers I was targeting.  Over time, the editorial correspondence I received shifted from form letters to personalized notes with suggestions for revision and/or ideas for other publishers that might be a better fit for my work.  The message was coming through: Several of my stories were publishable; I just needed to find the right publisher.

In the end, I found my publisher through serendipity and networking.  In October 2007, I attended a presentation by David Michael Slater, who participated in an event called Book Blast at a local middle school. After listening to David’s talk and looking at his books, I was convinced that his publisher was a good fit for my work. I chatted with David (after buying a couple of his books, of course) and I told him about the books I was trying to get published (yes, I had my elevator pitch perfected at this point).  David was kind enough to put me in touch with his editor at Abdo Publishing Group.  And the rest is history, as they say.   

4)      Is it difficult working all alone on your projects? How do you have social interactions in the solitary world of writing?

I think it’s more accurate to say that it’s hard for me to find solitary time for writing!  I have two school-aged kids who keep me busy carpooling, volunteering and cheering from the sidelines. I also run a small business that involves teaching and consulting, and I visit schools and libraries as often as I can. I like to talk nearly as much as I like to write. Socializing is not one of my challenges!
5)      What one author/book inspired you as a child?

I was a Dr. Seuss kid.  It’s not possible for me to name just one of his books that captured my heart as a child.  I loved “Hop on Pop” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” I also loved “The Foot Book,” “The Eye Book” and “Yertle the Turtle.” There were other, lesser-known authors, such as Al Perkins and Mike McLintock, who wrote other favorites of mine from the same Random House Beginning Book Series, such as: “The Ear Book,” “The Digging-est Dog,” “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb,” and “A Fly Went By,” all of which are still on my bookshelf. The rhythm I feel in my bones when I work on a rhyming picture book exists because of these authors. These were the books that were read aloud to me over and over again as a young child, and these were the first books I was able to read independently. The author I loved most dearly as I developed into a fully independent reader was Judy Blume. You might say Dr. Seuss and his contemporaries taught me how to read, and they shaped my love for rhythm and rhyme, and Judy Blume was the reason I became a bookworm.      
6)      I’m curious about the process you use when writing. Could you share a little bit of how you go about actually doing the hard work of writing, ie how do you structure your days, weeks, months – writing projects?

I do not have a regular time or place that I write, but I always have one of my works-in-progress noodling around in my head. I think about it when I drive. I think about it when I fade off to sleep. I think about it as I’m waking up. It’s always there. I find that my best creative ideas arrive, and my biggest story problems work themselves out, when I’m on a walk, or a long drive, or in the shower. As a result, I have a gazillion scraps of paper with scribbled notes taped into my writing journals and stuffed into writing files. For the harder work of revision, I need longer, more solitary blocks of time.

Sometimes I sit down to write as soon as I get the kids off to school, other times I write in my parked car or at a waiting area when I’m in between carpool duties. Occasionally I write after everyone is tucked into bed. True confessions: I don’t write every day (unless you count email!).  I aim to write every week, and I set weekly creative writing goals for myself. At the beginning of each week I send an email to the co-founder of my critique group to share my goals, and report on my past week’s progress. Lately I’ve been running ragged with family responsibilities, so I have to be more diligent about setting aside time to write. Once I sit down and get into the groove, I lose track of time and everything else on my to-do list gets put off for another day.
7)      When did you have that ah-ha moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in middle school I authored a poetry book that I gave to my mom on Mother’s Day.  That is my earliest recollection of considering myself a writer. In the years that followed, high school essays, college term papers, and corporate white papers gradually replaced my creative writing time.  Fast-forward 20 years later to the summer of 2004, when I attended my first creative writing conference. I participated in a writing exercise facilitated by one of the faculty members, Ann Whitford Paul. She asked participants to write down the name of a past school teacher and asked us to complete the following sentence: “Mr/s. always __________________ .” I wrote down Mr. XXX always has bad breath.” I wrote several pages without stopping, and that was when I remembered how much I enjoyed creative writing, and that this interest went well beyond the signing stories that first inspired my interest in getting published.
 8)      Do you have a big picture plan?

I had a big-picture plan for getting my Story Time with Signs and Rhymes books published. That said, the more I learned about the publishing industry, the more I realized that my original plan was not consistent with how the industry works (or at least how it worked at the time). My professional experience included being a VP for a major financial institution and I’d run my own training and consulting business for several years, so I was accustomed to setting goals and action plans and following through.

To reach my publishing goals, I anticipated that I would need to find an illustrator whose style and strengths aligned with my project, identify a publisher I’d like to work with, build a publishing schedule and marketing plan, and then get busy with each book’s rollout. Ha!

Over time I learned that the traditional publishing industry simply does not work that way. Had I been interested in starting my own publishing company (which at one time, I considered), I could have facilitated the process I envisioned. Instead, I shifted gears and focused my attention on improving my manuscripts and researching suitable publishers, so that when I eventually found my “publisher match” I had a strong inventory of work that was ready to go. 

Going forward, I have less of a formalized “big picture plan,” and more of a project-by-project plan for each of my current works- in-progress.         
9)      What goals have you set – i.e. selling a manuscript a year, making a certain amount of money off of an already-published book, or what?
I set personal and professional goals each year, and as I mentioned before, I set creative writing goals (action plans, really), on a weekly basis. Last year, for example, one of my goals was to start a blog ( that reflects my professional interests in early literacy, sign language, and writing for young children. In the coming year, I plan to experiment more with technology to expand my outreach (i.e. web-based videos, podcasts, skype visits, interactive e-books). I also plan to conduct an agent search in the coming year. I have several manuscripts that are ready to market, but I’ve been so focused on writing new stories and marketing the books that have already been published that my manuscript submission schedule has suffered.  Newsflash: It’s harder to get work published if you don’t take the time to submit it!   
10)  What advice would you give other aspiring writers who have yet to get published?
This seems like such a trite and oft repeated response, but really the best advice I can offer others is to write. Write your stories. Write them well. Revise them. Seek objective feedback, and consider it openly. Revise again and again and again, and then let your work sit. Use this sitting time to read. Read everything in your genre that you can get your hands on. Read outside your genre. Read current books and re-read old favorites. And then, re-read the manuscripts you have sitting in the file drawer. When you can look at a work-in-progress with fresh eyes and no longer see glaring changes begging to be made, begin the work of finding the right publishing home for this piece.  Rinse. Repeat.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laurelhurst in the Fall - an ode

An ode in pictures. Isn't this pretty...and it will only get better over the next couple of weeks. The leaves will turn bright yellow and red...

I'll go back...and then I'll share again: Laurelhurst.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Portland Nursery Apple Festival

Every year, in the fall, Portland Nursery has an apple festival. The sign to look for is the giant apple bobbing around in the wind over the skies of Portland. We always go to taste the apples, buy some cider and bring home a bag of apples--or two. We used to go to get the kids' faces painted, let them paint a pumpkin and to eat some popcorn, caramel apples and ice cream.

This year was no was pretty darn windy. I'd never seen them have to take the apple out of the sky--not until this year.

They had to reign in the red, ripe beauty. And do you know what I thought of...?
 Yep, Curious George...I could picture him floating away on the rope attached to that red beauty.

How 'bout you...what does this make you picture in your head?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin...Seeds

See the photo of the pumpkin seeds down in the right hand corner...? Whenever I carve pumpkins, I save the seeds. Then I separate out the gunk and rinse them in a strainer. After that, I put the seeds on a paper towel on a cookie sheet and I let them dry off a bit. Then I pull out the paper towel, spray the seeds with olive oil and sprinkle a little kosher salt over the top. I roast them on 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, (it depends on how big the seeds are, how many seeds there are, and how long I can wait!) I like my seeds a golden brown.

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with numerous health benefiting minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

In fact, some say they can even help prevent cancer. If you want to read 10 health benefits of pumpkin seeds just pop over here and check it out.

Now, I admit that when I was growing up, in a house with nine kids and grandma living with us, Mom used whatever she could to fill our stomachs. Nothing went into the garbage and Mom was sustainable before anyone else even used that word. But...pumpkin seeds are delicious.

I thought everyone ate them. son was talking to a friend and that friend had never had pumpkin seeds so I thought . . . "What?!" I have to share my Mom's legacy to me, my kids and now you.

So, all you readers out there, do you roast pumpkin seeds? Do you do anything differently...maybe add some spices or sugar or ...?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Run Like Hell Portland - 2012

Run Like Hell is a Halloween themed run that benefits The ALS Association of Oregon. My hubby and I signed up for the 10k (or 6.2 mile run) my sis and a friend signed up for the 5k. It is one of the funnest runs because people come out dressed in full Halloween garb. These year it was a Super Heroes theme. There were a ton of Bat Mans, plenty of Wonder Women and I saw quite a few Incredibles. But there were lots of other great costumes...including Santa Claus - now, that's a true Super Hero to kids.

This run isn't so much a race. Everyone is in a good mood--not so competitive as some runs. We all start snapping photos of each other and it's easy to make friends. I met another Poison Ivy - and we chatted about how we made our costumes ('cuz I'm too cheap to go buy one ;)

She had a great wig! No way could I run with a wig on. But then some people ran in full Big Bird costumes and kudos to them. It's not easy to run . . . let alone run with a furry-feather suit on.

Sonic and Tales made an appearance- true super heroes to gaming guys and gals. Just take a peek at some of these fun get-ups Portland had going on - in the streets of downtown Portland.

So, I hope y'all get a chance to Run Like Hell!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cinderella's Pumpkin

My Cinderella Pumpkin
I wanted to try to paint my pumpkin with silver and gold - so I did. 

First I bought a white pumpkin (or Moon Pumpkin) then I wrapped an old piece of lace (I had in the house-cuz I'm super cheap) around the pumpkin and pinned it in place with straight pins. 

Then I just started spraying. First I did a layer of gold then I added a little silver over the top..

I let it dry outside for a little while. Then I peeled off the lace and brought the pretty pumpkin inside for a centerpiece.  

 It reminded me of Cinderella :D

Friday, October 19, 2012

Running...and Pooh

Sorry, if I've brought you here and you were looking for that big cuddle loveable lug of a bear, I'm not talking about Winnie. And, this post has nothing to do with the Disney Store.
Nope, this one is all about running...long distances. Because I've learned a few things over the last year and a half. I used to only run short distances. It took me a long time to get past the two mile mark. It was like that middle of the week hump, or my miserable Monday morning was something I just couldn't seem to put behind me. But then finally I had a break through and in June I ran my first ever marathon...a true milestone for this Old Fat Mom. Of course I had to drop 30 pounds first to do it. Thanks to Weight Watchers... :D (Which by the way is running a Free Promotion until Saturday).

Anyway, back to my story about pooh...

There's a direct link to running and your digestive tract. I know, we don't want to talk about such things. But it's your body and we all have to, you know, pooh...

So, it's best to be prepared.

When I go out for a long run, I try to have everything I need: water, Shot Bloks, maybe a little Gu. But I never thought about the other part...well, except for maybe needing to pee--you know, I'm a woman and we women have bladders the size of a small pea. Anyway, I never really had a problem with the other side of the digestive tract...until I started trying to speed up. . . and cut down my time by running intervals... Now, I'm not a doctor and I don't know but I'm just saying, when I started running faster, I had to GO. So, I started reading up on the issue.

When you run, more blood gets to your vital organs and speeds things up and (apparently) flushes them out. So if you're going for a long run, remember, don't eat a lot of high fiber the night before. Avoid roughage. And when you do your first marathon, don't - let me repeat myself DO NOT do something out of the ordinary for you. People kept telling me to carb up, carb load, and eat my fill of pasta. Hey, that's not normal for me. That might be okay for super skinny runners. But, like I said, I'm an Old Fat Mom, and I usually run on nothing, 'cuz I have plenty stored up in reserves. Anyway, the sad fact was I carb loaded and felt horrible the entire way of the run. On the bright side, I finished and heck I was 50! So I'm not complaining...much. I'm just passing on a few words of wisdom to all my running friends, especially any Old Fat Moms out there. You don't want to feel sick on your very first marathon...right? So take heed ladies, don't eat a lot of fiber the night before, and don't carb load if you don't normally.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another Birthday

It was Luke's birthday and all he wanted for his special day was . . . food. Yep, to go out to breakfast and dinner. And, heck I'm a card carrying Weight Watchers member (and by the way you can join for free until Saturday-just saying) so no one has to twist my least not very hard - to get me to a restaurant. So, off we went. First to Petite Provence on Division. Yep, those chocolate croissants for breakfast are always delish! And while we were there, the owner brought Luke a full cinnamon loaf with a candle in it. Of course the family had to sing and then a sweet young couple sent pastries over to the table (sort of like ordering a drink for someone on their 21st birthday--only we didn't know these people at all). So having had more than enough to eat, we rolled out of the restaurant. (btw: I forgot to get any pictures of the breakfast - bad Mom - so the picture above is the free dessert - a pile of ice cream, I think, from the dinner dessert.) But back to my story...

Then a few short hours later, or so it seemed, we were off to dinner.

So more food and more free desserts and I'd say we all had a very Happy Birthday for Luke! How 'bout you readers out there, do you like gifts or food with family for your birthday?. . . or maybe both...or something else...?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Here in the Pacific Northwest we writerly folks have a local tradition, it's called: Wordstock. It's a writer's workshop/festival filled with fun information for readers and writers.

One of the things I love about Wordstock is the price. It is so affordable that there is no reason not to go. Here is a list of the 2012 prices: 1 day-$7, 2 days-$10, groups of 10 or more: $5,  kids ages 0-13-free (but a ticket is still required).

That's the reason I always try to volunteer. And, it's a wonderful way to get to know other writers/readers and people with like-minded interests.

I've volunteered a couple of years and highly encourage others to do the same. Plus, there are all sorts of events associated with the festival that take place ahead of the BIG event, one example is a poetry slam.

And there are so many wonderful, friendly people to get to know. Like Kelsey. She volunteers a ton of her time to the cause.

She sat with me at the Registration Table but she was doing way more than me because she was a black shirt - I was a red shirt. Shirt colors are the way to quickly distinguish the worker bees from the real honey bees (or the ones who really know what's going on behind the scenes.)

And Kelsey bought a couple of the cutest books ever, at the festival: Baby Mouse by Matt Holm and illustrated by Jennifer Holm.

So, if your budget is tight but you want to get into the wonderful writerly world, take note! Write this one word down: WORDSTOCK.  And put it on your calendar for next year. You won't want to miss it! Guaranteed.