Thursday, November 26, 2015

Harry Potter Tree Skirt DIY

It's been a bit of a stretch of time since I last blogged. Been a busy gal, but I'm back and why not start up with a great Christmas DIY share. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I think we can all agree it is for a lot of us. Nothing like putting out the tree,stringing the lights, decorating it with garland and strategically placing the ornaments. Add a star or an angel, and you just can't go wrong. The Christmas tree is our canvas. What we put on it makes it our masterpiece and the tree skirt is that finishing touch. Speaking of tree skirt... This year, I felt like making a change to my masterpiece with a new tree skirt. I pondered between purchasing a new one or making one. A fan of DIY I decided to take a scroll down Pintrest lane to find some inspiration. And find one I did! The perfect one, a Harry Potter tree skirt!
From the creative mind of Randi from Sowdering about in Seattle I found this great inspiration and just had to make one of my own. And so I did...
I took a different approach than Randi. I wanted square rather than round, used canvas fabric instead of sheet, skipped the tea stain and added a little more detail. My "details" came from inspiration elsewhere and I must give credit where credit is most certainly due- SamanthaFay1987's Marauders map art from deviant I am loving my tree skirt ( I added my kids to step around the map with Harry, Ron and Hermoine) and am thankful for the creative minds of Randi and Samantha for helping me make my finishing touch for my "canvas" this holiday. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Moms Come Hither - Hands Free Mama - The Important Thing About Yelling

I came across this post via the lovely Face Book shared by a friend from  The important thing about yelling. I think every Mama has yelled at her kid(s). I have yelled at my kids. I admit it. Guilty. And I hate that I have. I try hard not to. Try VERY hard not to. It's not often that I do, but those few times that I do, I HATE that I do.

So, when I came across this, again shared by a wonderful friend of mine, also a Mamma, I had to read it. I think every mother doesn't desire yelling at her kids. One, it tears them down. Two, it makes them afraid of you and three, you just feel horrible doing it. Not in the moment. I get why we do. You are exasperated, spent, stretched and in a moment of weakness, you com bust.

Rachel Stacy Mafford seems to have a plan on how to stop the yelling. It started with this:

"Releasing myself from the unachievable standard of perfection and societal pressure to "do it all."

Rachael decided to become a Hands Free Mama. This is a wonderful article and you can read in detail how Rachael did just this by clicking here. Rachael has a blog of her own where she continues to write about on being a Hands Free Mom. Rachael even has created a lovely hands free pledge letter you can purchase in her store to hang on your wall to help remind you how to be a hands free mom. Click on image to go there.

image from

Rachael even has a book out that goes in further detail about being a hands free mama,  how to stop the yelling and to stop saying hurry up.

"Rachael Macy Stafford's post "The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up" was a true phenomenon on The Huffington Post, igniting countless conversations online and off about freeing ourselves from the viscous cycle of keeping up with our overstuffed agendas. Hands Free Mama has the power to keep that conversation going and remind us that we must not let our lives pass us by." 

--Arianna Huffington, Chair, president, and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books. 

image from
Her book Hands Free Mamma : A Guide on Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do-List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! is available in the Kindle Store, in paper back, audio CD and audible.

Thanks for the drop by!

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Blueberry Picking Adventure and What I Took Away from it (Besides the Berries)

Nature, at it's finest, is when it produces produce- At least I think that. I know,I know, there are more things to Nature besides the yummy fruit, but hey it tops it. Organic, for me, well... you can't come any closer to organic than to pluck the fruit yourself (not using pesticides plays a factor too-I know) but let's carry on.

This past Saturday, my husband and I and four of our kids went to a local farm and picked some blueberries. We did it twice last year and this was our second time this year. We're going again next Saturday too. Love it. Fun, you get to pick and eat and get great berries at a reasonable price. We're also helping support a local farmer. You just can't beat that.

We went early, before eight, the morning so far was cool and the kids were in a picking mood. Yes, there is a picking mood. Kids have to be in this such mood or you get this- "Mom, I'm hot." or "Mom, my legs are tired." or better, "Mom, the grass is itchy and my bucket won't fill up fast like yours and I don't like the bucket tied around my waist, so can you carry mine for me. Look you can tie it right here next to yours..." It goes on.

And I still love it all. And yes, I would do it again.


I smile.

I would do it again because regardless of the whining, the itchy grass, the heavy buckets or even the biting bugs (not a problem so far, I remembered the spray), I'd do it again for the quality of time. Life gets busy sometimes. Or maybe we just let ourselves get too busy. Life is as busy as we let it. It also can fly very fast if we let it do that too. So moments like this. Berry picking moments like this, I savor. I savor it like garlic butter on a nice piece of steak that you don't get to eat very often because you are a mother of six plus one and so you are always too broke and can only eat steak about twice a year. Hamburgers are our finest otherwise and that's ok too. I've got a lot of fine memories over hamburgers.

Memories. Key word. Memories are the best. They are those special stories planted in our heads to savor like that nice piece of steak covered in garlic butter to enjoy over and over whenever we want and not just two times a year. (I really am OK about eating steak two times a year, it's just funny to reference:0) Get pictures of those memorable moments and it gives visuals to it. Plus it's fun to look back in time. It also comes in handy for later, much later when your memory starts to fail you. I recommend keeping a journal. Writing those stories down to share with the grand kids later. I cannot go on enough about how much I loved hearing the stories my parents and grandparents shared with me in their lives before me.

Memories are important and you don't have to go on the most supreme adventures or go broke to create a memorable moment. A cardboard box, scissors and a permanent marker has built a few great memories for my children and who would have believed it?! It's not what you spend or where you go, its how you use that time. That's what matters. Not everyone can do the theme parks. Not everyone can afford the vacations twice a year. And that's ok. People were making amazing memories before those kind of vacations or parks. Go somewhere local. Go to the beach. Go to a park. Go to the pool. Just go somewhere together.

Going blueberry picking with my family, I not only created a memory, got my pictures (cause I just love taking pictures of my family:0) and gained some juicy berries, I got that togetherness. I slowed down our lives just a little and got to spend some quality time with the ones I love. Family is  essential to a quality of life. Humans are not meant to be alone and no family isn't just blood related. Friends are family. The craziest of friends make the best type of family.

So get together with someone you love and go blueberry picking. Or not. It's your memory:0)

Thanks for dropping by!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How do You Choose a Book? What Type of Reader Are You? and Do We Stay Dedicated to Our Authors?

Before I  was a writer, I was a reader.

I love reading. As a teen I was always reading. Fiction. Romance. Supernatural and even chillers. I started with Nancy Drew Case Files, moved on to Fear Street and then on to Dean Koontz, Danielle Steel, V. C. Andrews and L.J. Smith.  I read them, loved them and if they had another offering, I read that one too.

This brought a question to my mind.

Why these books? Why these authors? Why do we pick the books we do? And how do we decide which authors to stay faithful to?

The answer to the fourth question is easy, because we love what they write. Now what about the first three? Lets break them up.

Why these books?

I can only speak for myself, so I will. I pick my books by their covers. Regardless of the saying "Never judge a book by it's cover" I still do. I think we all do. We must confess, no matter how hard we try, a vibrant, well done up cover draws us more than just a simple one. This doesn't mean the content of the simple covered book isn't worthy. There are several examples out there that contradict this, but in today's society, in this busy, busy world, the cover just can't be simple anymore. It has to grab ya. Do you agree?

The second is the blurb, the book description. It has to be a draw in too. The average length to a book blurb/description is 200 words in length. That isn't a lot.  Book Cover Cafe goes over this more for you writers here. Two hundred words to draw a reader in with. That is quite a task for the author. For the reader, if it doesn't capture us, we move on. If it does, well we then go to the first page.

The first page. The third and final player in our decision. A friend of mine shared with me that if the first few sentences to that first page doesn't capture the reader, they move on. That readers today will only give a book thirty seconds of their time and if it doesn't interest them, they will look for another.  Was this really true? I thought on it and then I researched.

 You only get one chance to make a first impression—and that one chance with a reader lasts only minutes. -Writer's Digest, Chuck Sambanchino, Jessica Regel. (Click the link to read more.)

So maybe my friend was onto something.I didn't find anything on that thirty seconds, but I don't doubt it isn't true. What I did find does go along with what my friend said. Found in a discussion on Goodreads,I found readers on average do make their decision on sticking with the book on those  first and second chapters. If they aren't captured within those first pages, they ditch the book.

Why these authors?

Why do we pick our particular author? (I'll go singular.)

To find an author we love and then stay dedicated to them, we must first find them.  We try them out. See if we like their work and then decide if we'll stick around for the next read. Deciding on keeping the author pretty much goes on how we like their first book, their second and so on. Is there a time when we stop liking our author? I say yes. If I am disappointed in my author's books, this would persuade me to want to "ditch" my author. I haven't experienced this yet thankfully, but I can assume this does happen. Of course I had to research this and you will never guess what I found... This isn't necessarily so. On another general discussion on Goodreads, I found this topic- Authors you keep reading even though you have no idea why. You can't get anymore specific than that!

 I'm sure there are more discussions like this, but I felt sharing this one was enough. So...maybe not all readers abandon their authors by one or two or even three bad reads. What do yo think?

Why do we pick the books we do?

We've already gone over how we choose our books in the first question, I know this. This question, at least in my mind, is wanting a more specific answer beyond picking the book. Perhaps I should have asked Why do we read the genres we do?  That would be better, but it wouldn't involve why we pick other genres. If we do. Do we? And if so, why?  Curiosity? By accident? We see a great cover, read the blurb. Like it. Go to the first chapter, get drawn in, buy the book and only after, realize it was a sci-fi. So are we now a fan of sci-fi?  This made me think. Do readers try other genres? And if they do, do they stick with them? Here's what I found:

Does writing in different genres turn off readers?  Author Toby Neal shares an author's perspective on this.  " Most readers will "try" a favorite author's book in a different genre, but if they don't like it, they won't buy another."  Click the link above to read what else she says about this.

What genres do you refuse to read ( and why should you shouldn't refuse to read them.)  Novelist Mike Duran shares his two bits on what he thinks about readers sticking to one genre and why they should try another. " Good writing is good writing, no matter what genre it is." and " Reading different genres makes it possible to discover authors and styles you would have never encountered." Stood out to me.  To read more of his tips on genre consideration, just click the link above.

7 Different Types of Readers : Which do you write for?  Along with these two articles, this one came to my attention. Something I just had to share. Something for authors and readers. What type of reader are you? or What type of reader are you writing for?

Fantasy Writer Victoria Grefer shares seven different types:
1. Readers who focus on character.
2. Readers who care more about what happens than who the people involved are.
3. Readers who want to know what happens in a book before they read.
4. Readers whose experience is ruined if they hear spoilers.
5. Readers who skip or skim passages.
6. Readers who feel panicky if they skip anything.
7. Readers who always finish a book.

She helps authors figure out who they are writing for and asks readers which reader they are. For me, I am the reader who focuses on character. I like my characters and their character. I love connecting with my characters. Forming that bond. I'm a fan of series, but would never turn away a solitaire. So...what type of reader are you?

Thanks for the drop by.Share your thoughts. Give some feedback. Or just say hello. I love comments and appreciate the time you take to leave them. If you enjoyed my share, don't forget to follow me. Take care!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Anna's Getting Revamped- Changes to the Giveaway & Cover Reveal...

Hi all,

Yes, as the post title said above, I have made changes to the giveaway. Life likes to throw you curves and though that isn't an entirely bad thing, sometimes however these curves do tend to get overwhelming and  right now I am. There is just not enough time for everything for me right now. Poo... I need more hours in the day and more hours in the night! Ugg!

So here it is...

Anna's revamping is gonna take a little bit longer. But that's OK! It should. That's the idea of the revamping, I am trying to put out there a book near to perfection and hurrying it along is not the ideal approach :0) Readers deserve this, my readers deserve this. If not then how's a poor Indie gal gonna gain more readers :0)

I love writing, but I love my family more. And right now my family needs me a lot. A little over a year ago my grandmother passed away and I am my grandpa's rock. When he needs me in the week, I am there. Even if its three to four to everyday.  My sixth kiddo just entered Kindergarten ( he was my severely premature babe) and he is struggling. I need to be there for him, for all my kids. I am mom first and writer second. I love them both, but have to balance both and right now, I just can't. Somethings gotta give and sadly, it's poor Anna. (Sorry Anna, I love you!)

So again, Anna's revamping is gonna take a little while longer. But I cannot stress enough my humble thanks to all my supporters/readers for all of that support you give. Of course it would be absolutely cruel of me to cancel the giveaway all together... HEY! WE LOVES PRIZES! So I won't.  Instead of the four revamped Anna Kippling books right now, instead, I'll hike up that Amazon gift card goodie to $20 dollars! How many ebooks can ya get with that?! Go Indie and ya may get more...hint, hint:0)

So, I know it's not much, but you'll win a couple bookmarks with my new cover on them and twenty bucks for's still pretty cool. Plus,when those revamped books come out, I will contact the winner and still get them those free copies. Plus! Plus, I'll do up another the set, some bookmarks and probably some more Amazon cash! Yeppie!

Not  to bad right? YEah...yeah A.D. not bad at all :0) (She smiles)

Well, before I go, I did promise you a cover reveal and thanks for the votes guys, helped a lot! Here it is! (she squees)

Wathca think? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment bar. Of course, the three following books have their revamped covers, but you'll have to wait to see those...

Again, my biggest thanks and hugs to all of you who have dropped by, made a vote, entered and shared along. Thank you for your support! You didn't have to, but you did. (Big smile)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
While your here, enter the rafflecopter, you can enter daily. Please share, appreciate it!

Thanks for the drop by!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Have you Experienced a Ghost? & How do you Know if you Have? Ghostly Experiences...

photo courtesy-

I was visiting author Deborah Hughes' blog Ghostly Dramas, reading her blog post about 12 signs a Ghost is Near where of the twelve, one particular one stood out to me- #10 Hearing a knock or several.

 Well, I had just experienced this such phenomena!

A few nights ago my husband, seated at the dining table with our eldest daughter, working on a Pre- Algebra assignment together (good luck with that!)  suddenly heard a knocking come at our back door. Our back door is probably twenty feet or so away from where they were seated. OK, no big deal, we all get knocks on our doors, so what makes this paranormal?

Well, here's the curious thing about that.

It was a little after 8 pm and  pretty much already dark outside. This was also at our back door. Beyond that backdoor where two dachshunds. They bark at pretty much anything that nears the fence and are not to keen on just letting anyone in our back yard. They are good guard dogs. When the knocking came, these two were right outside that back door. They were also not barking. Hmm...

In response, my husband went to the door, peered out the window and said "Hello..?"


He looked to the switch, flipped all the back lights to our back yard, flooding it with severe brightness,sending it void of any shadow, and looked out the window again.

No one.

There was no one at our back door or in our back yard. There was ABSOLUTELY nothing out there. Well, nothing besides the two pairs of blinking eyes of our pooches sitting by the back door begging to come in.

 And again, they are not barking...

Well, this had us curious as well as perplexed. My husband was sure he heard knocking and so was our daughter. So, the pair of us together, my husband with his bat and I with my knife, go out into the dark night to further investigate. Going out our front door, we stick tight against each other and head around to the back gate leading to our back yard. We lift the latch (ok, not together) and enter. From there, with great caution, we proceed with our "further investigating". Searching every square foot of our back yard, we again come up with nothing.

No one. Just the two dachshunds standing at our feet, wagging their tails and giving us strange looks.

We return inside. We lock our front door, assure our kids everything is well and then return to our locked back door. We stand staring at it still perplexed and feeling a little stupid realizing we are still holding onto our bat and knife. What the heck?  What had it been? After putting his bat away and me my knife back to its sheath between the mattress of  the bed we share(of course on my side), we let our doggies in.

A new revelation...

You see, when my husband went to let our dogs in, he opened the door and then had to open the screen door to let them in. This act sent a question suddenly arising in our minds. We heard a knocking on the wood door and not on the screen one. So how, if the screen was closed, if  it were someone outside, did they knock on the wood back door without opening the screen and not have our dogs barking at them?

So, the knock had to have come from the inside.
photo courtesy:

Hmm....again, interesting...

Now, I know this wasn't a spooky story or even near amazingly creepy, but it was my ghost story. And a lot of the time, this is how many of our ghost stories tend to go. This is not the first paranormal experience I have encountered and I'm sure it will also not the last. I am fine on how un-scary my encounters tend to be, and regardless, they still seem pretty cool to me. I have yet to experience a scream your head off kind of ghostly drama, and so far I only get those kinds from watching scary movies or a ghost stories on TV.

Would I want a really creepy ghostly experience? Umm, probably a big NO. I' m not stupid. (She smiles) These subtle experiences are probably enough for my heart. (She smiles again).

Now, A.D. How do you know for sure that you did have a ghostly experience?  (you are welcome skeptics) Well, we really don't know for sure. It's mostly a gut feeling, unless we have hard core proof, and that is even better. Most of the time, its just a firm belief and a fun story to share. I will admit, I am a strong believer in the paranormal, but I am also pretty level headed. I am not what you would call a paranormal sucker (you know, those who will believe almost everything) and do have the common sense to know if I'm being duped.
I do practice de-bunking and I should, I've watched enough Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures to know better (Another smile).

Well, thanks for the drop by and please, if you have a ghostly experience, please share!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Panera Bread's Autumn Squash Soup---Ever Love Something and Want It For At Home? Well, Here Ya Go...

Friday (the 13th by the way) I was at Panera Bread having lunch with my grandpa- our usual routine for Friday after I clean house for him (grandma passed away a year ago) and I have to tell ya, I enjoyed the most tastetastical (yes I made that up) cup of soup ever!

Well, wait. I'm getting ahead of myself in my excitement. Rewind. Ok, let me start from the beginning...

 At eleven am (our usual time- grandpa likes routine) we arrive to those beautiful doors of Panera Bread. We walk in, say our hellos to the other usual's ( Usual- meaning any gentlemen or ladies who frequent Panera more than just once in awhile), grandpa sometimes lingering  to thank a solider, Veteran or police officer for their service,and then we slowly (Grandpa's 83, so it's not a dart) make our way to the ordering counter . When we reach it, we both then  proceed  to say our hello's to the staff we consider friends, even family (yes, they know us pretty well- heck, they know our orders by heart) and then make our orders.

Grandpa's order: Cup of chicken noodle or wild rice soup (thanks to me by the way) with the baguette (knife & 1 butter to go with it), small cup of coffee and sometimes (more often than not) a peanut butter cookie-grandpa's a diabetic, he is trying to watch his sugar levels, he's been a good boy.

My order: Either the tomato,broccoli cheddar or clam chowder (they don't put this one out often:) soup, with baguette, a half of a Mediterranean veggie sandwich, medium fountain drink and of course a shortbread cookie-that is yum by the way! (Click here for that copycat recipe)

Like I said, these are our usual orders. Changing up my soups is my way of living on the wild side. (Honestly, I commonly order the same because if I like it then why not). Well this Friday (did I mention it was the 13th?) I spot  Autumn squash soup on the soup menu. I love squash, I mean I really, really love squash! Steamed squash, fried squash, raw squash, squash casserole and now squash soup. Before this day that will forever hang in the history, I had never ventured into the squash soup realm.(I kick myself now for that). Truthfully, I have never been to a place that ever offered it.

 This day (Friday the 13th by the way) I change my order up. I pick the Autumn Squash soup.  We get our drinks, grab our cookies and then find our table to sit and wait for our meals to arrive. The wonderful server, who knows us well, shows up with our plates of yumminess and sets them down. Before me, I find a cup full of some yellowish soup with toasted almonds at the center of it.

I pick up my little silver wide mouthed spoon and take my first bite...


I do not know how many times I mention this to my grandpa(lost count really); it was like eating my lunch and dessert at the same time( I said this quite a few times too)! There was a sweetness to it that reminded me of pumpkin pie and yet a distinct taste that reminded me it was a soup and meant for a meal, not a dessert. The soup was creamy, smooth going down and as much as I wanted to inhale it, I took my bites in leisure. I wanted to enjoy this for as long as I could. Each bite was like discovering it for the first time again.

Over and Over...and over.

I liked the LOVED the soup. So of course the gears of my mind went into action-well they are always in action, but just a pick up in pace:0)- trying to make it clear I do think:0)

I wanted to make this at home. As much as I love going to Panera, I wanted to eat this soup every day and going everyday to Panera to eat it does make a dent in your pocket book (still love you Panera!) I knew (I am a mom of 6) that I could make this soup at home and for a lot less and get a lot more. So where do you find a recipe for something you like?


I googled squash soup like Panera's and found a few recopies. They varied a little, but then were the same a little. So of course, I wanna find out the best combination of ingredients to make this soup as fabulous as Panera's. This means experimentation time.

Note: My results will be in another blog post. 

For now, I want to share these recipes with you.  You can try them out individually and compare, pick and choose which ingredients you want and then make the soup or even make up your own version. Share the  results with me if ya want, cause I sure would  LOVE to hear them!

Panera Bread Company Butternut Squash Soup Sources: 

 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 small onion 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon dried) 1 small butternut squash, chopped 6 1/3 cups chicken stock (50.4 ounces) 1 1/4 cups heavy cream 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 cup chopped walnuts Hot pepper sauce Melt butter over moderate heat in large saucepan. Add the onion and rosemary and cook until soft (approximately 5 minutes). Add chopped squash, chicken stock, heavy cream, salt, white pepper and hot sauce. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for approximately 2 hours - or until squash is tender. Use blender to puree the hot soup. Toast walnuts to use for garnish. Serve in a bread bowl. - this came from Recipe Goldmine.
2-3 TBS butter/vegetable oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 red apples (I used Gala), peeled and diced
1 carton of chicken stock
Sweet curry (look for curry with a brownish color - it contains more cinnamon.)

Roughly chop everything and sauté with 2-3 Tablespoons of butter or oil for
20 min or until onions are translucent.

Add 1 carton of chicken stock and simmer for 1 hr.

Blend with an immersion blender, reg blender, or food processor to
desired consistency. Add 1/2-1 cup (or as desired) 2% or whole milk.

Season with salt and curry powder to taste! I think I used about 1/2 to 1 tsp curry powder...Enjoy!
-This came from Kristi's Home Kookin'

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
Recipe below was also on photo courtesy of justapinch

2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 small onion,minced
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 small butternut squash, chopped
6 1/3 c chicken stock (50.4 ounces)
1 1/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 c chopped walnuts
Hot pepper sauce
Over low saute onion and rosemary in butter and cook til soft (5 min).

Add chopped squash, chicken stock, heavy cream, salt, white pepper and hot sauce. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 2 hours - til squash is tender.

Use blender to puree the hot soup.

Toast walnuts to use for garnish.

Serve in a bread bowl.
- this came from Mommysavers

So, there ya go! Have fun, make a mess and enjoy! I will get back to you on my results and let's pray they are good ones :0)

Thanks for the drop by!