anti bullying book release

Finding ways to fight bullying can be hard.  My children went through bullying clear through High School.  I have written a children’s realistic fiction book, Revenge of the Dorkoids: The Secret Club Begins (Windy City Publishers) that can help.

Most anti-bullying books are written in a self help/text book format aimed at adults.  But kids are the ones that have to deal with school bullying the most.  Revenge of the Dorkoids is an adventure story that revolves around 3 boys being bullied in the 6 grade.  Kids will love reading how these boys turn the tables on the bullies.  A set of discussion questions in the back of the book will help you and your child explore research proven anti-bullying techniques that help reduce school bullying.

An additional bonus is that this book makes vocabulary development irresistible as the characters use vocabulary  as  their weapon against the bullies.  Follow their further adventures as these kids develop their vocabulary and turn it into a secret language.  Available soon through  Read more at Windy City Publishers.


Catapults and Cub Scouts

One Hundred Fifty Cub Scouts Making Catapults!  We call this fun?  Actually we do call this fun.  It was a blast.  My husband V was asked to help with a Regional Cub Scout Merit Badge on Engineering.  V is a Chemical Engineer and we were doing mechanical engineering but Cub scouts are not picky.

The theme for this event was a Medieval Court including building a CASTLE.  So all the leaders had crowns on.My fearless leader had a crown on too, ON a hard hat.

My husband immediately turned to me and asked for my HELP.  This is the usual course of events.  So I was there and I had a crown – a sparkly TIARA 🙂 but V got the credit and the photo opp.  One of the Adults with a scout troop works with V and took the photos for their company news letter.  But hey a girl’s gotta complain about something.

When V asked me to help I was totally THERE.  He wanted to have the boys make catapults.  No way I was going to miss that. So I sent him to our favorite website that I gave him a membership to for his birthday,,  where he found a great, easy catapult.  click HERE to see catapult instructions.

Each troop rotated through the 6 engineering activity stations.  At ours V started by giving an intro., a catapult demo using our BIG catapult, and a demonstration on the benefits of using pulleys.  For the pully demo. V would have the 2 largest fathers hold on to one end of the rope with a single pully and have the smallest scout pull against them.  No luck.  Then he would switch the fathers and the scout to a rope that passed through several pulleys – a block and tackle.  Woo Hoo!  The fathers were no match for the scout.  EVERYONE got to try. 😀

scouts to the right, scouts to the left, and not a leader in sight

After that they came to me and our Explorer scout assistant, E , to make their catapults.  As they moved up the line they gathered their supplies, base, wood block, tongue depressor, plastic spoon, and clothespin.  E and I would hot glue the parts together as fast as we could so the boys could move on to the next engineering station on time.  WHEW!

At the end, (drama), we ran out of supplies!  We had not been told of the increase in registration.  We had 30 extra sets of pieces but still ran short of tongue depressors.  First I gave out all of our demo catapults.  Then I tried glueing the spoon directly on to the clothespin.  But the catapult needs the extra leverage provided by lengthening the clothespin with the tongue depressor.  😦   What to do???

Then I, yes that would be moi, the non engineer, came up with the brilliant, amazeing, tremendous, stupendous, marvelous, (I could go on), answer.  I quickly cannibalized a clothes pin.  I glued the two wooden pieces where the tongue depressor was supposed to go so that their ends overlapped a little.  Then I added the spoon.  Voila – Victory.  And that my friends is how I erned my degree as an honorary mechanical engineer.

We were unable to stay for the part where the scouts all built a Castle together using parts that each troop had been assigned to bring.  But we left our big display catapult, built last July 4th, for them to use to bombard the castle.  To see my family using the catapult we loaned for the castle atack click HERE

One Hundred Eighty-plus Cub Scouts with Catapults?  FUN!

Prevent January Doldrums-Bake these EASY Snowmen Cookies

Snowmen are not just for Christmas, let the gang down gently by baking these fancy cookies that are ready to decorate in just 35 minutes.

Time Table

Mix dough using Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix-15 minutes.

Shape first 10 cookies – 10 minutes

Bake first batch/shape second 10 cookies-10 minutes.

Bake second batch/mix frosting-10 minutes

Now you have time and energy left to decorate the cookies.

What you will need

Cookie Dough – bowl, cookie mix, 1/3 stick butter, 1 Tablespoon flour, 1 egg

Quick and Yummy Frosting, 1 cup whipping cream, powdered sugar, salt

(cream cheese frosting or butter cream frosting are good too but take a bit longer. My favorite frosting is made with Clotted Cream instead of butter and is as quick as the cream and sugar.  I make my own clotted cream since my daughter who lives in England has gotten me addicted to it.  It is expensive to buy here but I developed my own easy recipe for making it.  Click HERE for the Clotted Cream Blog.

Cookie sheets, spoons, butter knives, spatula,( and the items I forgot to put in the picture),thin pretzel sticks, white sprinkles, red pull apart licorice, mini M+M’s or mini chocolate chips.  I got my Mini M+M’s from the stocking stuffer treat area at Walmart.  Albertson’s told me I could buy a pound of them from their bakery.

Mix up the dough using the recipe for rolled cookies ( I used the drop cookie recipe plus 1 T flour but the cookies spread too much)

Take one full teaspoon of dough for the bottom ball of the snowman.  I make all 10 at the same time so they are close to the same size.  This helps them bake evenly.

Gently press out dough ball into flat circle.  The cookie will have a more defined snowman shape if each circle is slightly wider than it is tall.

Take one full teaspoon of dough, roll it and pull it into the middle and top balls.

Gently press out dough balls so that they overlap just a bit.  Bake 7-10 minutes at 350

When the last batch of cookies are baking, mix powdered sugar and a pinch of salt into 1 cup of heavy cream.  I never measure the sugar, I just keep adding a spoonful till the frosting is how I like it.

Allow second batch of cookies to cool while frosting the first 10 cookies.

Frost cookies and decorate.  I pull the licorice apart in double strands for the scarves.  I also give each snowman blue, green or brown eyes.  I make sure have enough orange ones for noses.  Use the rest of the colors as wanted.  I break 1/4 of the end off of each pretzel stick for the arms,  1/2 seems too short, a whole one seems too long.

Have fun!

Making Clotted Cream

They say you must have homogenized cream to make Clotted Cream.    I however am not a good listener.  🙂  So I went right ahead and proved them wrong.

All you will need is:  1 large bowl, put ice in this

1 medium bowl with straight sides

a fan

Heavy Whipping Cream

Put ice in the large bowl, pour a pint of cream into the bowl with straight sides, notice the one in my picture is a casserole dish. It’s sides are straight, though not at a 90 degree angle.  The sides on this one are straight up enough to work well.  Don’t use a round bottom bowl as the cream will harden at the edge as it thickens and the level in the bowl drops.

Put the bowl of cream inside the bowl of ice.  The ice keeps the cream cool while it clots.

Put both bowls in front of a fan.  I tilt my fan down slightly to improve the air movement across the cream.

To make clotted cream you want to reduce the amount of water in the cream.  With homogenized cream you simply let the heavier cream rise to the top (I think).  This process causes the water in the cream to evaporate giving you heavier or clotted cream as a result.  Heating the cream to reduce it does not produce a satisfactory product.

Fan the cream for several hours, checking on it’s progress every 30 minutes or so.  Stir the cream or draw the clotted skin to the back of the bowl.  When most of the cream has thickened stir well.  Some lumps will remain.  This is the only difference between this clotted cream and commercial clotted cream.  The taste is the same.  This recipe costs about $1.50; I buy the qt. size which is almost the same price as a pint.

Serve with scones, or muffins, or any sweet bread or use to make frosting.

Frosting made from Clotted cream is my favorite frosting.  It is made by mixing powdered sugar into the clotted cream and adding a pinch of salt or a bit of vanilla, lemon, or peppermint flavoring.


Populating a Gingerbread Castle

My family, especially my daughter, and I have been making a Gingerbread Castle.  My daughter is very good with gingerbread and LOOOOVES to do a house or castle etc. at Christmas time.  While she was baking the gingerbread for two days, I began to make people.   After the people were molded and baked, I began to paint them. ( My children say, “Don’t sit still too long at our house,you might get painted.” 😀 )  The paint of course is thin, royal frosting, made of egg whites and powdered sugar.  Then colored, pink, red, green, yellow, turquoise and white.  The princesses gown, hat, and veil from hat are all glittered.  Princesses are allowed to over dress.  You can find the silver balls on line or get them from a local bakery.In our house normal is never good enough.  We have to over do it.  So we have a gigantic castle which took acres of gingerbread,12 batches, and my storybook people to live in it, a king, a princess, a jester and two knights.  With so much effort, not to mention, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter, in this project, I called the Hospital and asked if we could bring the castle to the Children’s ward.  They were delighted.  So we had to transfer the castle on its cardboard base to plywood so we could carry it to the hospital.

If we let the kids eat the castle others could not enjoy seeing it as they arrived at the hospital.  So I made Christmas tree and snowmen cookies.  I liked the snowmen best.  I liked them so much I made some snowmen guards around the sides of the castle which strengthened the walls for its journey.To see the castle in construction, instructions on making your own, including full downloadable plans, and to see the finished castle, click here.  Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’ll post a tutorial on how to make the cute snowmen cookies!  They’re so easy you don’t even need a cookie cutter.

Hello World!

Wow, my very first blog post.  Ever!  How exciting 🙂

First, a little about myself.

I’m currently a resident of Montana, but that’s recent.  I was born in New Mexico, and have lived in California, Illinois, Utah, West Virginia, Michigan and Mississippi.  You could say I’m a Resident of the Country.

Primarily I’m an artist, although I graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Elementary Education.  My first love, though, is art, mostly painting.  As my kids were growing up (now both grown and out of the house) I did a lot with watercolors, and a bit with pastel.  We also had fun crafting things that could have been in magazines.  Recently, though, I’ve taken my creativity into a new realm:  Books.  I’ve just had my first book accepted for publication!

After seeing how much young kids really enjoyed learning (I taught kindergarten in Mississippi) I decided that a book about how cool it is to be smart would encourage older kids to keep loving learning.  The book centers around a group of kids who are top of their class.  They’ve got a problem, though.  They’re being bullied by the jocks.  They find out that there is strength in numbers and being smart doesn’t have to mean being unpopular.

Come follow my journey through the adventure of publishing, and make friends with my characters: Aaron, Ryan and Trevor as they Beat the class bully while conducting killer science fair projects and develop a Secret Language Club.