Ramblings · Writing Appearances

National Potato Chip Day and St. Patrick’s Day Activities

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking a link. Thank you!)

Did you celebrate any of the holidays in February? Well, every day can be a day to celebrate!

Check out National Day Calendar for the National Holidays in March 2019.

There are so many national holidays to choose from throughout the year. Do you think kids would be as excited as their parents to celebrate National Napping Day? Okay kids, time for a nap…it’s the best way to celebrate today!

Celebrate National Napping Day

My cats think every day is National Napping Day.

What about National Potato Chip Day on March 14th?

I recently finished creating a unit study for an online website, which I hope to share more information about in the near future, that included 26 different foods. One of the foods within the unit study was potatoes.

We have grown potatoes in our garden in the past, but it was interesting to learn about how potatoes are harvested and manufactured on a large scale. I also enjoyed learning how potato chips are made in a factory.

red potatoes

Some red potatoes from our garden a few years ago.

You can celebrate National Potato Chip Day by watching this two and a half minute video showing how stackable chips are made and packaged in a factory and this three minute video showing how other potato chips are made in a factory.

You could also read Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud and The Greatest Potatoes by Penelope Stowell, which are both fictitious children’s books about how potato chips were created.

Both of the books include real information about how potato chips were invented in the author’s note section.

Of course, you could also eat potato chips to celebrate National Potato Chip Day!

lays dill pickle chips

The holiday that most people think of for March is probably St. Patrick’s Day. Shamrocks, leprechauns, rainbows, and lots of green!

If you are looking for some St. Patrick’s Day crafts to do with little ones that promote fine motor skills, you can check out the roundup I did for Hands On As We Grow of 33 St. Patrick’s Day Craft that Boost Fine Motor Skills. My roundup was published with the words “St. Patrick’s Day crafts for kids are on tap in our house”, which must have been edited in after I had submitted the activities.

May you have fun celebrating whatever you choose to celebrate this month!

Ramblings · Writing Appearances

2 Websites for Children’s Book Writers

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click on one of the links and make a purchase. Thank you!)

I have learned a lot since beginning my writing adventure.

There is so much to learn! Publishing options, query letters, manuscripts, point of view, literary agents, publishers, research techniques, different styles of children’s books, magazine articles vs. book manuscripts, marketing, page turns, and the list goes on.

Of course, I’m still learning.

In the process, I have published two books, been interviewed on live TV, led preschool story times, celebrated National Pickle Day, attended SCBWI conferences, found a writing group, become a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa, and more.

live interview of Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles

One of the requirements I have as a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa is to write a post for the SCBWI Iowa website. For those of you who don’t know, SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It is an organization that helps writers and illustrators of children’s books by providing resources such as The Book, offering conferences, creating opportunities for writers and illustrators to communicate with one another, and more.

SCBWI The Book

Since SCBWI builds a community and encourages writers (and illustrators), I tried thinking of a way I could write a post that would benefit all of the writers who may read the post. My answer came just a couple of days later when I read an announcement about a website created for authors by another SCBWI Iowa member.

I investigated the website and found that it had a lot of useful information and resources for writing, marketing, and publishing. So, I decided to reach out to the creator of the website and ask if she would be okay with a virtual interview about her website to share with others.

That website is Journey to Kidlit created by Brooke Van Sickle. Brooke was very gracious and answered all of my questions.

I also knew of another website created by a group of authors including SCBWI Iowa member Linda Skeers (author of 52 Women Who Dared) that focuses on nonfiction writing. So, I also reached out to Linda to see if she would be interested in a virtual interview about her website Nonfiction Ninjas. She also graciously answered all of my questions.

If you are interested in writing books for children, I highly recommend checking out both Journey to Kidlit and Nonfiction Ninjas.

You can read those interviews on the SCBWI Iowa website here.

May you have a wonderful day!



Jobs of a Preschooler · Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles · Ramblings

Would You Eat This Ice Cream Concoction?

Does your family have a favorite TV show you watch together?

My family enjoys watching MasterChef Jr., and I have been trying to find out when the new season will premiere. A while back, I had read it was going to start on February 26th this year.

But it didn’t.

Now, it appears it should be starting again on March 12th. I guess we will see if that date is correct. It is amazing to watch children between the ages of eight and thirteen create such elegant dishes. Especially when they use ingredients I don’t even recognize!

I enjoy watching how the kids often band together and encourage one another even though they are competing against each other. They are still competitive, but they are also compassionate.

Sometimes, I wish I could taste test the dishes the contestants have created. Other times, not so much.

from book Jobs of a Preschooler...preschooler being a taste tester

Be a taste tester like the girl in the book Jobs of a Preschooler.

I don’t think I could handle the challenging task of being a judge. The emotions of the kids when they are eliminated can be quite heartbreaking, and I don’t think I would want that responsibility.

My daughters and I do enjoy baking and creating foods together, and it is not uncommon to hear my daughters discussing with one another whether or not our food dishes are “MasterChef worthy”.

Typically they are not. And when they might be, it is probably because we found a good recipe to follow step-by-step and didn’t mess up.

If you have ever seen the show, you may know a Mystery Box Challenge is when the contestants have a large crate they can not see through in front of them flipped upside down. When the contestants are given permission, they lift the crate to discover an assortment of ingredients they use to make a dish.

A few years ago, we celebrated the start of the MasterChef Jr. season with our own Mystery Box Challenge. My girls were nervous as they lifted the crate because they had no idea what I was going to have them create.

I think they were pleasantly surprised when they lifted the lid and found vanilla ice cream, marshmallows, M&Ms, cookies, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, saltine crackers, nuts, and a few other items that could be used as toppings on ice cream.

So, it wasn’t a true Mystery Box Challenge. I didn’t have them cook or bake anything, and I didn’t taste test either of their creations.  But we still had fun.

From book Jobs of a Preschooler...Preschooler being a chef

Be a chef like the girl in the book Jobs of a Preschooler.

This is a picture of one of their creations. It had vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, marshmallows, M&Ms, and broken cream filled cookies mixed together.

ice cream creation

Unfortunately, I can’t find the picture of my other daughter’s creation. I personally would have prefered vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, and crushed saltine crackers mixed together.

Yes, crushed saltine crackers in my ice cream. It’s tasty!

No pickles, though.

from Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles book

Illustration from Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles

When I celebrated National Pickle Day, I had one student tell me he likes olives in his ice cream when I gave him a coloring page for the picture above. I’m kind of curious if he really does.

What is your favorite ice cream concoction?

Check out these posts for more fun with food.






Ways to Improve Productivity

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on any of the links and make a purchase. Thank you!)

Do you struggle with doing what you need to do in order to reach your dreams?

In my 2019 goals update, I mentioned my monthly writer’s group missed the January meeting due to weather, but we had hoped to get together in February to discuss our writing goals, problems we are having with our writing, and what we need help with or want to know more information about.

Thankfully the weather cooperated for us, and we were able to get together this month. We discussed what each of us is struggling with concerning our writing and tried to come up with ways to overcome these struggles to be more productive with our writing projects.

We also completed a chart created by one of the ladies in the group that forced us to think of our long-term writing dream, the steps it would take to get to that point, and obstacles that may force us further away from our ultimate writing dream.

At the end of the meeting, we came up with writing goals we would like to have accomplished before we meet again next month. This is an activity that we have been doing at the end of each meeting, which I find beneficial. It is nice to talk with other people with similar challenges who can hold each other accountable.

Maybe you don’t have writing ambitions like me, but do you have any other long-term dreams you would like to accomplish someday? Do you have someone or a group of people to hold you accountable? If not, is there someone who could help you to be productive and reach your dreams?

goals picture

If you had a chance to read the limited time offer e-book I had mentioned previously entitled Make More Margin: Free up 1-2 Hours a Week for the Things You Love With These 75 Productivity Tips, you may have found some helpful tips for staying productive.

I loved Jess Stuart’s quote on page 3 that says “prioritize your schedule in line with your priorities in life.”

The book offered multiple useful productivity tips. Here are five of the tips found within the book that I have personally used and found beneficial:

  1. Create to do lists
    • I create a daily to do list on a dry erase board. I make sure to complete the activities that need to be done first and then I move on to the items that are not as much of a priority. I love erasing items as I complete them because it makes me feel as though I am actually accomplishing something. There are days when I may not complete everything, but I can leave it on the board for the next day.
    • I have also found that it is beneficial for me to break large projects down into smaller manageable tasks and create lists for each of those tasks. For example, I am currently working on a course that involves over 25 different sections. If I just wrote “complete course”, that would be very overwhelming and not something that could be done in a single day. So, I divided the course into the sections, and I created lists under each section that need to be finished in order for that section to be complete. This makes it so much more manageable. I can easily see which sections are complete, which sections require more work, and what that extra work may be at a quick glance at my list.
  2. Have the kids help
    • My daughters are capable of folding laundry, washing dishes, and doing other daily chores, so I do not have to do it all by myself. Working together can be more fun and get the chores completed quicker, allowing more time to write or work on other tasks. Even little ones are capable of doing simple chores!
  3. Combine activities when possible
    • It is not uncommon for us to go to six or more different places on a day when I run errands because I try to accomplish as much as I can in one excursion. I make sure to plan the trip accordingly with a list (I love lists!) of the places that I am going to go in the order I am going to go so I don’t forget anything.
  4. Plan meals
    • I used to plan monthly dinner menus, but that didn’t seem to work very well, so I now try to plan weekly dinner menus. With a planned menu, I can easily see what needs to be taken out of the freezer for dinner and what needs to be purchased from the grocery store (and added to the grocery list hanging on the side of the refrigerator).
  5. Skim and delete unimportant emails
    • I have three emails. One for family, one for my writing adventure, and one that is a catchall for everything and everyone else.
    • It’s helpful to unsubscribe from any email lists that aren’t providing any valuable content and scan the rest of the email subjects and senders to see if the emails are necessary to read. I am signed up for mailing lists that do provide valuable content frequently, but it may not be necessary to read everything they say if it doesn’t pertain to me.
    • With that being said, I do read all of the comments on my website (which get emailed to me), emails from people specifically asking for more information about my books, and personal emails (from friends, family, etc.).

to do list

If you are looking for more ways to improve your productivity, you may be interested in the Ultimate Productivity Bundle being offered by Ultimate Bundles for a limited time only (today until Monday, February 25th).

The Ultimate Productivity Bundle is filled with a total of 5 eBooks, 14 eCourses, 1 summit, and 26 printables, planners, and workbooks that cover time management, goal setting, home management, self-care, productivity at work, and more.

If you were to buy each of the items offered within this bundle separately, it would cost over $1500, but Ultimate Bundles is offering it for only $37 until February 25th. After that, the Ultimate Productivity Bundle will no longer be available.

Please do not purchase this bundle if it is not something you truly think will help you to become more productive. Also, please don’t purchase it if you won’t take action after reading the eBooks or watching the eCourses or take advantage of the planners or printables. There is no point wasting your time (and money) with this bundle if it isn’t getting you any closer to your dreams!

If you think this bundle may be beneficial to you and will help you to be more productive and accomplish your goals, then please click here to find more information about the Ultimate Productivity Bundle. It will only be available through February 25th for $37 before it disappears.

Do you have any tips for being more productive?


2019 Goals Encouragement and Update

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

How are you doing on your goals for 2019?

Recently I read on Psychology Today that “71 percent of people who were successful in their resolutions slipped in the first month.” Do you feel like you have been slipping on your 2019 goals already? If so, I hope you find encouragement within the quote and continue to move forward – you can still succeed!

If you need some inspiration and ideas for freeing up some time throughout your week, you may be interested in a free e-book just released by Ultimate Bundles entitled Make More Margin: Free up 1-2 Hours a Week for the Things You Love with These 75 Productivity Tips. It’s only available until Monday, February 11th, so make sure to download it before then if you are interested in it.

You can download Make More Margin: Free up 1-2 Hours a Week for the Things You Love With These 75 Productivity Tips here (affiliate link).

Ultimate Bundles Free E-book

I downloaded it myself, and I was really leery when I saw it was 199 pages long. I was worried I would end up wasting time reading about how to save time, but I discovered it was a very quick read with quite a few useful tips. It was nice to know that I am not the only person who prefers a paper calendar and nontechy to-do lists!

The book provides answers from bloggers who were asked five different questions concerning time-saving tips, productivity tools, refreshing hobbies they have, how they use their small pockets of free time, and what to say to someone who feels guilty for not taking time for themselves. It can easily be read in small chunks of time since each page is simply a response from one of the bloggers to a particular question.

If you do download it, please let me know what you think of it. I might provide more of my own comments about it in a future post, but I am curious to hear what your thoughts are. The end of the book mentions an Ultimate Productivity Bundle that will be offered from February 20th-February 25th. I hope to include a link and more details in the near future for you just incase you are interested in the Ultimate Productivity Bundle.

We can all use some support, and I’d love to encourage you to continue reaching your goals.

Since I had previously mentioned my writing goals for this year, I have decided to give an update on how I am doing.

So, without further ado, here are my 2019 writing goals updates:

  • continue writing monthly for Hands On As We Grow
    • update: I’ve completed my monthly posts through the end of March, so my next post is due April 1.
  • continue writing at least two posts each month for my website
  • attend one SCBWI conference
    • update: There is a conference scheduled in September that I am looking forward to attending. Registration isn’t open yet, though.
  • be accepted by a literary agent to represent my works
    • update: After doing quite a bit of research, I submitted one picture book manuscript to a literary agent in December. Unfortunately, my manuscript wasn’t accepted by her, but I am very thankful I received a response. I also submitted picture book manuscripts to another literary agent this month.
    • Literary agents are flooded with manuscripts, and they can obviously only accept a limited number. I recently read on a literary agent’s website that she received 2,451 unsolicited queries or manuscripts (ones she did not request) last year within the six months she was open to receiving unsolicited works. The lowest month had over 200 submissions, and she had received 570 submissions during the highest month. That’s a lot of submissions to have to sort through! Out of those 2,451 submissions, she signed 10.
    • Needless to say, I will be super super excited if I am able to get a literary agent to represent me. With that being said, I don’t want to submit my manuscripts to just any literary agent. I have been doing research and being intentional about who receives manuscripts from me.
  • research, write a proposal, and submit needed information for a children’s nonfiction project I have recently started
    • I have done a lot of research for this already.
    • I read a couple of books and online articles to learn how to write a proposal for nonfiction books. When writing fiction, you often have to submit the entire manuscript. With nonfiction; however, you can typically submit a proposal that provides an overview, the target audience, comparable titles and how the proposed nonfiction book is different (possibly better) without bashing the comparable titles, a biography of the author and the reason author is qualified to write the book, possible suggestions for publicizing the book, a table of contents of the proposed book, and sample chapters of the proposed book.
    • I don’t want to give away all the details of my book idea, but I am hoping to compile 50 separate biographies together in one children’s book similar to Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels by Linda Skeers and some other comparable books I have recently read.

Women Who Dared Book

    • I narrowed the list of people I would like to include within the book down to 60, so I have 50 plus 10 additional just incase I can’t use someone due to lack of information appropriate for a children’s book. I wrote a quick synopsis for all 60 people and did more research on four of the people, so that I could include four sample biographies within my proposal.
    • I submitted the proposal along with the four sample biographies to a member of my writer’s group who was gracious enough to read through it and critique it for me. I was really nervous what she was going to say, but I trust her judgment and knew she would tell me ways to improve my writing. I was very excited when I received her comments back stating that the biographies were awesome. She gave me some helpful suggestions on ways to improve the proposal itself, and she provided me with names of two literary agents to consider for this manuscript idea. I plan to continue doing some research and hopefully submit my proposal or query (whichever is preferred) to at least one literary agent in the near future.
    • Since this was an idea I came up with (not something a publisher has requested), my manuscript may not get accepted by anyone and may never become a book. I really hope it does, though! Reach High and move one step at a time
  • research, write a proposal, and submit needed information for an adult nonfiction project I have an idea for
    • update: I haven’t even started this.
  • write at least one children’s book manuscript
    • update: I have lots of ideas, but I’ve been too busy working on other projects to start a new manuscript.
  • revise at least one of my current incomplete children’s book manuscripts
    • update: I completely rewrote one children’s book manuscript I have that I had brought to my writer’s group last year as an idea. My original rough draft had over 500 words in it, and it was very clunky. My current revision has less than 300 words and flows much better, but it still needs work.
  • do at least one school visit or story time (I didn’t do any this year, but I had so much fun doing them last year!)
    • update: I haven’t looked into this yet.
  •  submit at least one article to a magazine
    • update: I submitted a query for an article to a magazine and a children’s poem to two children’s magazines, but I haven’t heard any responses yet.
  • research some information about creating a course and possibly create a course (which will require even more research)
    • update: I did research information about creating a course for a homeschool website my daughters and I have been enjoying. I came up with three course ideas, which I submitted. Within a couple of days, I received an email approving all three course ideas, so I am now in the process of creating one of the three courses for the website. In time, I will be completing courses for all three of the ideas I submitted as long as everything goes as planned. I am really excited about this!
    • I plan to provide you with more information in the future on the current course I am working on.
  • decide what to do with a particular children’s book manuscript I’ve had set aside for a while
    • update: I haven’t thought about it much yet.
  • continue going to writer meetings
    • update: The January writer meeting was cancelled due to the weather, but hopefully we will be meeting again in February. We plan to talk about our writing goals, problems we are having with our writing, and what we need help with or want to know more information about at the upcoming meeting. It’s so nice to have a group to encourage me on my writing adventure.
  • continue as a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa
    • update: I am still a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa. Each month, I organize the monthly writer group meetings, and I work with the other members to figure out what topics we would like to discuss at future meetings.
    • I also had the opportunity to interview two amazing women recently (Linda Skeers, author of 52 Women Who Dared, and Brooke Van Sickle) about websites they have created to help other writers with their writing journeys. I put the interviews together for a post I submitted to be published on the SCBWI Iowa website. If you are a children’s author, I highly recommend checking out their websites, Nonfiction Ninjas and Journey to Kidlit.
  • continue adding and creating pins (and possibly a few boards) to my Pinterest account
    • update: I have added more pins, and I created a board specifically for pins from my website.
  • maybe join Twitter
    • update: I haven’t yet.

I’d love to hear from you about how you are doing with your goals so far this year. Reach high and see what you can accomplish by moving one step at a time!