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Friday, April 29, 2011

Money Machine Fun!

We went to our local bank today to make a deposit. I had told my husband on the way down that I wanted to open up a checking account. It just so happened that they were having customer appreciation day with cake, punch, give aways etc. 

And, if you opened up a checking account . . .

you got to go in a money machine!

I was a little hesitant about doing it,but I did. And, it was fun! 

 Oh, I plucked $21 from the flying money machine.
Not bad for 15 seconds of my time.

Have you ever been in a money machine before?

posted by Janet Smart at

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Story Starters

Writing Prompts! Don't you just love them.

Sometimes they are just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

One of my favorite stories I have written started with a writing prompt.
The prompt was to pick up a book nearest you, open to the first page and write down the first sentence and go from there.

The book was Christy. I cheated a little, and changed the words just a smidgen, but it was the start of my manuscript titled, Lucy of Tupper's Hollow.

Below are some first lines from books laying in the clutter surrounding my computer desk.

Now most of you know I write children's books. So these first liners are all from children's books, which can be anything from a PB to YA. A few may be familiar to you.

1. I understood almost nothing about the woods until it was nearly too late.

2. "I'll take her now," said the large man with old-fashioned braces holding up stained trousers, and a greasy cap on his head.

3. Night winds, moaning around corners and whistling through cracks, dashed snow against the windows of the Mountain View Inn.

4. The tabby kitten hooked his white paws over the edge of the box marked, Kittens 25 cents or Best Offer.

5. You wouldn't think we'd have to leave Chicago to see a dead body.

6. As summer wheat came ripe, so did I, born at home, on the kitchen floor.

7. There was no lake at Camp Green Lake.

8. Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity,  baripity, baripity - Good.

Now, just for fun let's start a story with one of these first sentences. All of my blogging friends can participate in this. You don't have to be a writer. Just pick one of the above sentences and in your comment add a few more to it to start your story. I'll be first.

Ba-room, ba-room,  ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity - Good. Uncle Joe's '34 Ford finally started. It sputtered down the bumpy road to the county fair. Aunt Lilly wrapped her arms around her patch quilt, cousin Sue held tight to her blackberry jelly and cousin George's pet pig squealed in his crate as it bounced sideways in the truck bed.

Okay now it is your turn. If you don't want to write a story starter, then tell which first sentence is your favorite.

Happy Writing

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Help With Blogger

Okay, this is just a quick post.

I'm going to let everyone know how stupid I am and say . . . Help!

It's not anything all that important, but it is bugging me.

Seems like blogger is always updating and changing things for the better, or so they say. But, it just makes things more complicated for a computer dummy like me. I go by the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I used to be able to change the color and font of my letters. I could make the title in my heading any color and font I wanted, make the links any color and font I wanted, change my color theme, etc. etc.

Well you see what I'm getting at. I can't do that now. Everytime I go to template design or whatever they call it, all that shows up is a black page. When I click on the links on the left side of this black page, I can't do anything. It keeps telling me that it is not applicable to this template.

The simple thing of not being able to change my fonts and colors has been getting on my nerves for the longest time.  I know I can do that with my posts, but I'm talking about the other parts of my page.

I almost had a tizzy yesterday when I was fooling around with it. The template I ended up with at one time didn't have any of my gadgets on the right side of my blog. I seemed to have lost everything except for my profile and a few listings of previous posts. I was so upset, it made me go slice off a piece of the homemade peanut butter egg that I had promised never to take a bite of again!

Well, somehow, I don't know how. I got all my gadgets back. But it made me realize that I shouldn't fool around with it any more and just not worry about little things such as colors and fonts. So now we are stuck with this bright blue until I get up the nerve to fool with it again.

Okay everyone, now is your chance to show me how stupid I am and tell me what I am doing wrong.

Thank you very much.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring has arrived!

Spring has arrived in all it's glory!

so many yard sales. . .

 We don't usually buy refrigerators at yard sales, but I did this time.
It sits in my garage now and is perfect for pop, overflow of veggies in the summertime, cartons of berries during berry picking time, thawing turkeys, extra baked items during the holidays.
I never thought I'd be so excited about a $50 refrigerator!

so many chores...

I am trying to get rid of one of my flower gardens. It is just too much trouble to keep weeded every year. We have put down plastic, covered it with mulch and everything, but the weeds still come. I have decided I do not like spending every spare minute in the summer on my hands and knees pulling weeds. So I am doing some rearranging, moving, and getting rid of.  I am going to have my son till most of it up and plant grass seeds.

so many DIY projects...

We have also tore out our old landscape timbers in our front flower beds and replaced them with new ones.

so many chores - Oh, I think I already said that, didn't I?

I'm so glad we finally tilled the garden yesterday!
I was beginning to think it was never going to happen. 
It has been so wet! The garden space has never had time to dry in between rains. 
It wasn't really dry enough yesterday, but we did it anyway, 
because more rain was forecast for today.

 We had a muddy mess to clean up underneath the tiller.

and, so many weeds....

I love my berries, but I hate the weeds! 

If you notice in this picture taken a few days ago, the patch is in bad need of a weeding! You can't get in there close with a lawn mower or weed eater. There isn't enough room and it is too dangerous. You can easily cut down the new vines growing up beside of the old ones. So, I was down there yesterday on my hands and knees pulling out weeds. I'm not halfway done yet, but I'm getting there. Anyone have any good ideas on how to keep the weeds out. I was thinking of maybe laying down newspaper around the plants after I have pulled the weeds. Mulch does not work, the weeds grow right through it.

Spring has arrived and along with the pretty blossoms, yard sales, chores and weeds comes the sore muscles.

I think my favorite season is Autumn!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Dry Holes and Gushers!

Welcome to Writing Wednesday!

First off, a thank you to Carole Anne Carr over at The Adventures of a Children's Author for passing on to me the You are an...Inspiration Award. As most of you know, I don't really go by the rules of awards and such. But I usually mention them when someone is nice enough to give me one.

Now on to my other topic for the day.

Dry holes and gushers!
What do they have to do with writing, you ask?

I am going through a gusher period at the moment.
I have all these ideas and stories in my head and they are all gushing forth trying to splash out onto paper (or maybe I should say computer screen).

I am currently working on what I think is a YA (young adult) manuscript. Notice I said I think it is a YA manuscript. I've never written a YA before, so wish me luck. If you notice my little WIP gadget at the top of my page, you will see that the computer is currently sticking it's tongue out at me.

But, I also have two PBs (picture books) I am working on. I had written one of these a few months ago and I have now brought it down from the attic of my mind and started dusting it off. I just finished the other PB and it is very short and sweet. In fact, I'm thinking it could be published as a board book.

I also have a manuscript I am working on that is not a fictional story, but a collection of articles, poems, recipes, crafts and such that I would really like to get some feed back on as to how to put it all together so a publisher might consider it.

I sometimes feel like a juggler . . .

and wish there were more hours in the day.

So, how about you? Are you experiencing a dry well or having a gusher?
It doesn't have to pertain to writing, we can be overwhelmed with garden work, housework, crafting ideas or DIY projects around the house.

Dry wells and gushers can both be very frustrating.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Crafty Bunny and a Pesky Rabbit Poem

I decided to make some bunny pins today.
Use your imagination and gather together a bunch of supplies.

ribbon, pom poms, wooden bow-tie shapes, googly eyes, black and white paint, 
pipe cleaners, pin backs, glue, scissors

Those little wooden bowties can be used for a lot of different activities. I also make snowmen pins out of them.  Glue a pin back onto the back of them. (Either hot glue or white glue) If you glue the pin back on them first, you can hold onto it while you paint the bunny white. You can paint the back of the bunny if you want, but you only need to paint the sides and front.

Get pipe cleaners and shape into bunny ears and glue to the backs. Hot glue is best for this, since it dries almost instantly.

I cut wire stems off of flowers to use for the whiskers. you could also use embroidery floss or whatever else you have on hand. Crafting is very flexible, and what you use for materials is limited only to your imagination. I used to craft a lot and have hoards of craft supplies! I got most of them at yard sales.


On one of the bunnies I used google eyes. On the others I painted on the eyes. I think I like the painted eyes better. It is very easy to do. Use the tip end of your paint brush (not the brush end), dip it into black paint and quickly touch where you want the eyes to be. After it dries, use a toothpick to dip into white paint and make  a  dot in the middle of the larger  black dot. If you want, you can make  eyelashes by using the toothpick dipped into the black  paint.

Use ribbon of your choice, tie a bow and glue it onto the front of the bunnies neck. White glue is best for this,  since it disappears after it dries and you can't see it like you can the hot glue. Remember (like you tell your kids) less is best when using glue. Glue small pom poms on for the tails. I happened to have some sparkly white pom poms and used them.

I think they turned out pretty good. I put my favorite onto my blouse.

by Janet F. Smart

I look upon the rabbit
And, oh I hate to see
Him hopping toward my garden
To start his eating spree.

I watch him twitch and wiggle
I watch him chew and munch.
I watch that pesky rabbit
As he eats his lunch.

He loves the tasty carrots
And leafy lettuce, too.
But, dear me, I think he loves
Most everything I grew.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Walk in the Deep, Deep Woods

We went for a walk in the deep, deep woods. The leaf covered ground surrounded us. Squirrels scampered away as we approached. A hidden world coming to life beneath our feet, her treasures waiting to be found.

Watch where you step or you may squish little creatures!

Delicate ferns unfurl, their fuzzy stems coming to life.

I thought I was taking a picture of a may apple, 
but do you see the hidden treasure in the bottom of the picture?

Delicate morsels peeping from beneath the dead forest floor covering.

Do you like morel mushrooms? We call them molly moochers.
They are worth the trek into the deep, deep woods.
Don't you agree?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writing Wednesday

I've been busy this week. I have been working on my manuscript, but as you can see by the graphic above, my computer is still sticking out it's tongue at me.
This is the first story that I have written an outline for. I've been referring to it and following it - a little.

But, since making my outline, I have. . .
changed the ages of my characters
changed the number of children some of the characters have
changed the names of some of the characters
and, after doing a little research on line I've decided to use a secret as a plot twist! If I do this, it will completely change the ending of my story.

What do you think? I think I am not very good at following outlines.

I've been reading A Girl from Yamhill, A Memoir by Beverly Cleary. I purchased this book at a yard sale over the weekend. While reading this I got an idea for a picture book for young children. So, I stopped writing my above manuscript, and scribbled down words to a picture book. It is a very simple manuscript but with a twist that makes it unique. At least, I hope that's what the publishers will think.

I know it  is time consuming, but...
I am always cruising the internet,
I am always reading articles when an idea comes to me out of the blue,
I am always finding articles that have information in them that pertains to something I am writing, or it shows me something I can do to make my story better.

On another topic, I actually got a post card from a publisher this week! I know, I know it is just a 'form postcard,' but now a days when you don't hear anything from publishers unless they actually want your manuscript, it was a nice thing to find in the mailbox. They thanked me for submitting my manuscript and it stated they will be back in touch with me as soon as they have reviewed my material, which may take several weeks. My translation - I think they finally retrieved my manuscript (which was sent to them about 2 1/2 months ago) out of the slush pile and are currently looking at it. Let's keep our fingers crossed that they like what they read.

Happy Writing!

posted by Janet Smart at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chickens and Plate

Yard sales are starting to slowly pop up in our area.

I couldn't pass up this rooster and hen pair. You can't tell by the picture, but these are old and they have crazing on them, which I think makes them pretty. On the back it has USA 465. I love them, I haven't been able to find any like them on the internet.

And, I found this Fenton Bicentennial Plate, #1 in a series of 4 that they made. It is milk glass, which everyone knows I love. It came in it's original box. I love milk glass and things patriotic, so it was a fit for me.

You all notice that green lamp sitting in back of the plate. I posted about this lamp before, but no one knew much about it. It looks like it was made out of green vintage plastic bowls and candle holders. Do any of you know anything about this type of lamp? Were they  manufactured or did someone hand make it?
You can go here and read my 2009 post about it and see more detailed pictures.

I spent a total of $5 today, which I don't think was too bad.

Any yard sales in your area yet?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Writing Wednesday

Someone once asked me, "Why do you right?"
I sat there for a minute thinking about her question.
She said, "I think it is because you don't want people to forget about the past."

That is true for a lot of what I write. I write about the past. I am trying to write my family history, but I keep getting sidetracked. My first visit to a writing group was inspired by my wanting to get help with  a Picture Book manuscript I had written about my experiences of picking berries with my grandmother and cousin. I haven't got that story right. . .  yet. Maybe I should go back to that manuscript and try again.

When I write my poems and my stories, I put onto paper my memories, so they will not be forgotten.
I hope when I do this, I will write them in such a way that other people will also get enjoyment out of them also.

I guess that is the secret to writing --- we need to write our stories so interesting and unique that other people will enjoy them. 

What about you? Why do you write? What do you think the secret to writing is?

April is National Poetry Month, below is a poem I wrote about my past.
I hope you enjoy it.

Recipe for Warm Memories

Our ancestors taught us
To cook. They passed down
Their food customs
To their children.

Grandma rolled each thin layer
Of her applesauce stack cake.
She patted the left over dough
Into sweet cookies.

She creamed the peas
Just right, made holiday pies,
And baked bread to eat
With each meal.

Mom taught me how
To make soft, fluffy dumplings
And to beat the fudge
Until it was glossy.

My aunts fried skillets
Full of golden apples
And cooked welcoming
Sunday dinners.

They tilled the land and
Harvested the crops.
Their busy hands preserved
The food for the winter.

The kids washed the jars for
Green beans, tomatoes,
Pickles, chow chow,
And sausage balls.

Blackberry jams and jellies
Won blue ribbons and proudly
Stood by the apple butter
On the cool cellar shelves.

Our ancestors taught us
To cook. Their memories
Keep us warm on
Cold winter days.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Food, Finds and New Story

Hey everybody, I'm posting about a simple taco dish, yard sale finds and a new story I'm writing.

I made this taco dish a few days ago. It is very good.

2 tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
16oz sour cream
8oz softened cream cheese
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 pint pizza sauce
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes
2 cups crushed Doritos
1 - 8oz jar medium taco sauce

Brown ground beef in skillet and drain. (I use the real lean ground beef and I usually don't have any fat to drain) Add taco seasoning and pizza sauce. Simmer until well combined. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Roll  out crescent rolls on 1/2 sheet baking pan to make a single layer crust. Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Apparently my baking pan wasn't large enough, there was only enough room for 1 1/2 pkg of the crescent rolls.

Combine sour cream and cream cheese and beat until well blended and creamy. Spread the mixture all over the cooled crust.

Gently spoon ground beef mixture over the top of sour cream mixture. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the beef mixture. Layer with lettuce and tomatoes. (I didn't have tomatoes, so none were added) I refuse to buy tomatoes from the store off season. They are too expensive and taste awful!

Crush Doritos and sprinkle over top of vegetables. (I only used 1 1/2 cups of crushed Doritos).I put my Doritos in a small Ziploc bag and crushed with my hands.  Lastly, pour taco sauce over the entire dish.


This is very good. I have a few suggestions, though. It makes a lot! Unless you have a large family or you are taking it to a pot luck dinner, HALF the recipe and it will make plenty.

Also, my son said he would rather I left the taco sauce off and let people add it on their serving in their plate. He is not that crazy about the taco sauce. This would be very easy to do.

I went to a couple of inside yard sales today. I picked up a few things, among them. . .

candles, Little Golden Books and 2 very nice 5 x 7 frames. 

I love the frames, they are vintage looking and made of metal and would look great with pictures of my ancestors in them. I also collect Little Golden Books, I hope I don't already have these, I'll have to check.

NEW STORY! I haven't been posting as much as usual lately, because I came up with an idea for a new story. I have been writing! When I am on a roll, I hate to stop. This story takes place in the mid 1940s. I was calling it, Ruby Mae, but I am now thinking about calling it Ruby Mae and Nellie. Ruby Mae is (at the moment) 19 yrs old and Nellie is her young 6 year old niece. Spunky Nellie wants to share the spot light with Ruby Mae, so I decided I should include her in the title, too. I've a long ways to go, I am only on Chapter Three, but hopefully I will keep plugging along until I am finished. I think it will be geared for Upper Grades.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

posted by Janet Smart at