Determined Like a Turtle

Box Turtle found in my garden.

Box Turtle found in my garden.

What do a turtle and writing have in common?

When it comes to writing, I’d rather be compared to a bunch of other animals. I’d rather soar, roar and wag my tail. But, alas, progress in the world of children’s books crawls along like a turtle. 

Speaking of turtles, look at the colorful Box Turtle who showed up in our garden. She had bright orange legs and was quite brave. Just like the courage it takes to submit manuscripts, this little lady didn’t shy away from potential danger. Just like my determination to bring my characters to life, she plodded ahead with purpose when I set her down next to a river.  (How do I know she was a she? Her irises were yellowish-brown, rather than the red.)

One of the things I do to improve my writing is participate in a Critique Group. I recently wrote an article about writing groups for the Children’s Writer’s Guild called the Critique Group Sandwich. Not only did the CWG publish my post, they included me in their list of contributors.  Yay!

Hon, maybe I’m crawling in the right direction.

Turtle kiss.

Turtle kiss.

Ready to re-locate.

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Box Turtle Source: Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Related Posts:  Stories and CeramicsQuotes and Notes (from the NJSCBWI14 Conference), My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop

 

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Pink and Purple Color Comparison

Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass Spheres

Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass Spheres, 2014.

Pinks and Purples 

I loved the glass in the garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Dale Chihuly created gorgeous glass sculptures that grew alongside “rooms” of blooms.  The resulting color comparisons were poetic.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.

Hon, I write.  I write picture books and chapter books.  In my stories, the little girl inside of me invites other children to mark the place where the sidewalk ends.

In that place and in that space,

we explore the world with open minds,

share our curiosity and wonder,

marvel at spiders and stars,

and believe in the magic of our imaginations.

Zinnia

Zinnia, Denver, CO.

Columbine

Columbine, Breckenridge, CO.

IMG_2262

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Purple Reeds, Chihuly.

Purple Reeds, Chihuly, 2014

Flat Sea Holly.

Flat Sea Holly, Denver, CO.

Blue and Purple Boat, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass.

Blue and Purple Boat, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014.

“Glass itself is so much like water.  If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up looking like something that came from the sea.”  (Quote by Chihuly.)

Related Posts:

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Glass in the Garden

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Orange Color Comparison

 

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Orange Color Comparison

Dale Chihuly, Blown-glass spheres in a boat.

Dale Chihuly, Blown-glass spheres in a boat.

Orange 

If you ever wondered–and even if you didn’t–where I came up with Bmore Energy’s tag-line, “Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary,” I’ll tell you. One day Hubby and I were taking a walk, and I pointed out some pretty yellow flowers. He said he hadn’t even noticed them. I said, “I find the ordinary extraordinary” and “That’s it! That’s the essence of my blog.” He laughed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in a wow-Naomi-has-an-eye-kind-of-way. My guess it was in a what-is-she-talking-about-kind-of-way. Two things are certain:  1) I’ll keep pointing out words, images, sounds, people, animals, nature and the infinite amount of things I find fascinating, and 2)Hubby will shake his head and laugh.

Last summer at the Denver Botanic Gardens, my bet is that everyone found color at the Dale Chihuly exhibit fascinating. The next series of posts will study color comparisons.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for viewing. I hope you like my photographs.

Enjoy!

Complementary Colors.

Complementary Colors.

Orange Mountain Poppy, Breckenridge, CO

Orange Mountain Poppy, Breckenridge, CO.

Glass Spires.

Glass Spires and Spheres.

IMG_5307

Goldfish.

Goldfish.

Koi.

Koi.

Flame-like translucence.

Flame-like translucence.

“Glassblowing is a very spontaneous, fast medium, and you have to respond very quickly.” (quote by Chihuly)

Related Posts:

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Glass in the Garden

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

 

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Fifty Shades of Grey

Dale Chihuly, Perennial Fiori, Blown Glass, 2014

Perennial Fiori, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014

Many shades of grey exist between black and white.

In my last post, Glass in the Garden, vibrant colors resemble Monet’s Impressionistic paintings. Here, black, white and grey stand in stark contrast to grass, leaves, bees and a wall of water.

Aside from contrasting colors, I am taken with the dichotomy between straight and curved lines borrowed from nature and mirrored in glass and stone at the Denver Botanic Gardens

kkkkk

As stems reach for the sun, bees drink up the shine.

Nicholas Kadzungura,Chapungu Sculpture Park, Zimbabwe, Africa.

So Proud of My Children, Nicholas Kadzungura,Chapungu Sculpture Park, Zimbabwe, Africa.

This African mother may walk tall and straight , but the curve of her face, tilt of her head, and bouquet in her hand form a circle of devotion around her children.

ppppppppppp

I’m passionate about children and reading, so it’s no wonder why this sculpture spoke to me.

The Boy and a Frog, Elsie Ward Hering, stone 1898

The Boy and a Frog, Elsie Ward Hering, Stone 1898

I am always amazed at how material such as stone can be chiseled to look like a person. This sculpture’s curves harmonize with the brick path and bushes.

Surprise! Instead of spires, around a corner were huge, wavy glass blooms. I wasn’t expecting these white flowers. Their clear “petals” blend with the falling water yet, at the same time, they wave upward and outward in an unnatural way. I do like the way they are both opaque and translucent.

Dale Chihuly, Perennial Fiori, Blown Glass, 2014

Persian Towers, Dale Chihuly, Blown Glass, 2014

Dale Chihuly,

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced. ” (quote by Chihuly)

Hon, what do you think of the black and white glass?

Dale Chihuly in Denver, Glass in the Garden

Monet Pool Fiori, 2014, Blown Glass and Steel

Monet Pool Fiori, 2014, Blown Glass and Steel

Monet’s Garden Re-Imagined

Last summer while visiting relatives in Denver, Colorado, we saw exquisite colors, smelled fragrant blooms, and heard busy birds and insects. The Denver Botanic Gardens featured an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s organic blown glass.  (June to November 2014.) The sculptures were vibrant, iridescent and sensual.  

In 2001, Chihuly started his Garden Cycle, exhibitions within botanical settings. Many sculptures stood on their own, while others were set amongst existing gardens.

I love color, texture and the juxtaposition of the natural and manmade, and try to capture that in my photographs.  

Enjoy this “tour” of the gardens, the first of many posts inspired by an artist.

Royal blue and turquoise glass accent the more traditional Impressionist colors.

Royal blue and turquoise glass accent the more traditional Impressionist colors.

Claude Monet is my favorite artist, and there are many whose work I love.  When I sit in front of his enormous canvases in the MOMA or MET, I find that elusive thing I search for every day…inner peace.  I am transported to Giverny, lost among the flowers, and walking in the forest forever…just for a moment.

Organic creature grows out of lily pads.

Where does the glass end?  Where do the reflections begin?

In this photograph, reflections of green swirls become Lily Pads roots.  Purple glass spikes grow out of the water and erase it.

Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid' Water Platter

Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’ Water Platter (from Longwood Gardens)

Glass or Creature?

Glass or Creature?

“Glass itself is so much like water. If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up looking like something that came from the sea. ” (quote by Chihuly)

Hon, have you seen Chihuly’s work before?  Where?  What did you think of it?

Me and my Plus One.

Me and my Plus One.

Flags Fly on July 4th

Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park

Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park, New York City

Happy July 4th!

Did you ever wonder why the American flag is nicknamed Old Glory? Here’s the story behind it.

Sea Captain William Driver (March 17, 1803-March 3, 1886) named the American flag he flew on his ship Old Glory. His flag was sewn by his mother and a group of young, female admirers from his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.

“Driver was deeply attached to the flag, writing:  ‘”It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?”‘*

Driver retired from seafaring in 1837, bringing his flag with him to Nashville, Tennessee.  When the Confederates tried to seize the flag during the Civil War, Driver saved Old Glory by sewing it into a coverlet.  It remained in hiding until 1862, when Nashville fell to Union troops.

Driver’s original flag and another one he owned were fought over by his daughter and niece.  In 1922, both became part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Hot Air Balloon Festival, NJ

Hot Air Balloon Festival, NJ

Flags along Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Flags along Fifth Avenue, New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle Sam in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Uncle Sam in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Statue of Liberty in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Statue of Liberty in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Flag Cow Statue.

Do you know which state this flag represents?  Answer at bottom of post.

Do you know which state this flag represents? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you know which state flag is pictured above?  Hint: the answer lies in the name of this blog.  Okay, I’ll tell you.  The yellow/black and red/white flag is the Maryland flag.

Hon, what are your plans today? I hope they include fireworks!

*Source:  Wikipedia

 

 

American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies

Hostess gifts idea:  Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

DIY Hostess gift idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. I bought these funky melamine dishes from SEED387. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

Hon, you know what I like about a holiday besides spending time with family and friends?

 The built-in theme!

One of my daughters and I had fun taking the American flag colors to the extreme.  We baked red, white and blue sugar cookies and cupcakes.  Click here for sugar cookie and Royal Icing recipes.  My daughter decorated with flags while I tried my hand at tie dye effects. I used a toothpick to “drag” two or three icing colors from the center out, then swirled with the toothpick to create a tie dye look.

Patriotic Cookies

Patriotic Cookies.

Tie Dye effect.

Tie Dye effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Coloring on cookies.

Coloring on cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baking Day continued with red, white and blue cupcakes. 

We were inspired by Ziploc Bag’s Patriotic Piped Tri-Colored Cupcakes, but they turned out to be more challenging than they looked.  So, we abandoned our pastry bags and spooned the colored batter into baking cups.  The result?  Still patriotic, fun and delicious.

*Tip:  Wear plastic gloves because colored batter is messy and stains.

1.  Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

2.  Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl vanilla.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3.  Transfer three bowls of batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored strips.

3. Spoon batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored stripes.

 

 

4.  Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags at all.

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags.

 

 

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5.  Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

 

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

American Flag Fun!

American Flag Fun!

Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers

It all started with salad.

I was shopping for salad ingredients when bright green peppers caught my eye. I hadn’t cooked Stuffed Green Peppers in awhile and I don’t know why.  They’re easy to make, delicious and healthy. If you’re a vegetarian, substitute a beef alternative and I bet this dish will still be delish.  Next time, I might add more spices and golden raisins.  There was enough rice to serve as a side.  So yummy!

1. Cook rice and gather ingredients.

1. Cook rice and gather ingredients.

2. Cut and seed green peppers.

2. Cut and seed green peppers.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Mix ground beef (or beef substitute), egg, parsley and 2 T tomato sauce.

3. Mix ground beef (or beef substitute), egg, parsley and 2 T tomato sauce.

4. Stuff peppers with ground beef mixture.

4. Stuff peppers with ground beef mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Combine tomato sauce, wine, water and oregano.

5. Combine tomato sauce, wine, water and oregano.

6. Pour tomato sauce mixture over peppers.   Bake.

6. Pour tomato sauce mixture over peppers.
Bake.

 

 

Out of the oven.

Out of the oven.

Stuffed Green Peppers

Ingredients:

1 lb green peppers (I used 4), cut and seeded (pepper body is abt 3/4 & top is

1 lb lean ground beef (or beef substitute)

1 egg

1/2 cup cooked rice (I used brown rice)

1 Tablespoon chopped parsley

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

3 Tablespoons dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon oregano, optional

1 cup water

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In a baking dish, place green peppers, cut side up.

3.  Mix together ground beef, egg, rice, parsley and 2 Tablespoons tomato sauce.

4.  Stuff peppers with ground beef mixture.

5.  Combine remaining tomato sauce, water, wine and oregano and pour over peppers.

6.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour

 

Father’s Day in Pictures

My dad with "Baby A"

My dad with “Baby A”

Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day means family time.  Thanks to these dads for making a difference in my and my children’s lives.

Need Cool Ideas for Father’s Day?  My article was published in Highlights this week.

Have a great day, hon.

My son and Grandpa.

My son and my dad.

Hubby and son.

Hubby and our son.

Hubby and son.

Hubby and our son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family patriarch.

Family patriarch with his grandkids.

Another great dad.

Another great dad (and uncle.)

My uncle, aunt and Plus One.

My uncle, aunt and Plus One.

Hubby, my brother and niece and nephew.

Hubby, my brother and niece and nephew.

Hubby and our Plus One.

This is one of my favorite photos of Hubby!

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake c/o Ina Garten

Coconut Cake c/o Ina Garten

Satisfy your Sweettooth

I can’t take credit for baking this, but I can for eating it! One of my daughters found this recipe in Ina Garten’s cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home.  I’m not usually a big fan of cream cheese icing (chocolate icing is another matter), but this icing was the perfect complement to the buttery, vanilla cake and coconut shavings. Guess what I’m in the mood for now?

Coconut Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 pounds (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing pans

2 cups granulated sugar

5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup milk

4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Icing Ingredients:

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted

6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper.  Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

2.  Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes,  until light yellow and fluffy. Crack eggs into a separate bowl one at a time, adding to butter/sugar mixture one at a time.  Mixing on medium speed also add vanilla and almond extracts.  If mixture looks curdled, don’t be concerned.

3.  In a separate bowl, combine (recipe says to sift together, but I don’t usually sift) flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  With mixer on low speed, alternately add dry ingredients and milk to batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

4.  Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife.  Bake in center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester (we use toothpicks) comes out clean.  Cool on baking racks for 30 minutes, then turn cakes out onto baking racks to finish cooling.

5.  Icing:  Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer again, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed.  Add confectioner’s sugar and mix until just smooth (don’t whip!).

6.  To assemble, place one layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with icing.  Place second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides.  To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides.  Serve at room temperature.

Tip:  To make in advance, bake cakes and wrap well.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.  Ice cakes before serving and serve at room temperature.

Want a piece?

Want a piece?