Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Stinkers

Dear Mom,

I know you were not much of a dog lover, but what's not to love looking at these two little stinkers? A friend of my daughter's found them--abandoned. She drove them in from Kentucky and the minute my other daughter saw them, she was hooked. The two pugs stick to each other like they're joined at the hip and they have the sweetest dispositions.

You can see how loved they'll be...

But you can also see how upset her other little baby is...

but no worries, he's equally loved.

Monday, December 19, 2011

O'Christmas Tree

Dear Mom,

I showed you a few of my children's handmade ornaments when they were little and here are a few hand-made by others.

My cousin Peggy painted this:

My friend Michele made this star and you can check out her website at wildstarcreations. She makes beautiful earrings, necklaces and suncatchers.

This sled was made out of popcicle sticks by my sister's father-in-law:

When I did research on my great aunt who spent 30 years in Farmington State Hospital (it's now called Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center) there was a gift room where items made by patients were sold. I had to pick up these:
This snowman is made from an acorn. You might not be able to tell from the photo how big that acorn is, but it's bigger than any I've ever seen. There are trees on the property that have these huge acorns.

This Santa was made from the bark of a tree:

The following are my kids' ornamnents made by parents of the PTO or teachers. I'm sure they hang on a lot of trees.

As the holidays approach, my adult children in from out of town, and no baking done yet and a project I have to finish before the big day, I'll see you all after Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all! And to all, thanks for following me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hanging Out O'Christmas Tree

Dear Mom,

A friend Tammy posted: Hangin' with my Uglies--about Christmas ornaments--the cherished ones. I love homemade ornaments from kids... from anyone actually. I'm stealing Tammy's idea and posting my own ornaments, but I think I'll call it, Hanging with my Beauties...

Here's the oldest ornament I have. I was 17 and worked at Ben-Franklin in downtown Ferguson. A co-worker made this for me. I feel terrible because I can't remember her name now. I can picture her face though.

Next are various handmade ornaments from my children. Casey's hand is the base for this Santa:

Jessica's thumbprint made this design:

Rita created this with an upside down heart. The pom-pom stuck on one of the eyes cracks me up:

I'm not sure which kid made this one and I'm surprised it hasn't turned moldy. I don't know what is inside all those cloves:

The next two are more of Jessica's:

Rita was a little crafter way back. She sewed this Santa by hand. You should check out her site on Etsy or her Egabrag Crafts blog.

HO HO HO, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Christmas Pageant, Birthday, Anniversary, St. Louis Reflections

Dear Mom,

The holidays are a busy time of the year anyway, but then I added a few extra things into the mix. Saturday I went to old St. Charles (Main Street Books) to support a few writer friends who have stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books... as part of their book signing event, if you brought a canned good, you received 20% off your entire book purchase. The canned goods went to the food pantry, so the event was more than just supporting my friends. I also had the pleasure of seeing a few other writer buddies, Sioux and Dianna.

Chicken Soup for the Soul
Here are the lovely women from left to right, Cathi, Tammy, Linda, and Theresa:

Later that same day, Norm and I had a Christmas party to go to. The next day, we had another Christmas party to attend and followed that with a party at our house to celebrate my grade school friend's movie that he wrote...

The Christmas Pageant
There it is, Mark's name on the screen: Written by Mark Valenti

First we all ate:

Then we were all being silly acting as if the movie put us to sleep:

We're all really proud of Mark and had a great time celebrating his success.

Monday I visited with another friend, and finally did some Christmas shopping. I seriously don't know how some people are finished AND have it all wrapped at this point.

Tuesday I decided to take it easy, after all--I'm another year older. One year older than you when you died. Seems odd as I remember you as being old. I guess since I was 12 and you were 53, it'd make sense that I'd think you were old. Just like the grandkids think I'm old. There are days when I feel old, but for the most part I feel like I did when I was in my 20s. Is that weird? Then I look into the mirror...

Not only did I celebrate my birthday, but it's Norm's birthday. We're exactly 10 years apart. Him being older. Some may think otherwise... speaking of old. And we got married on our birthdays. Nine years. Definitely a record. Technically this year Norm is tied with all of my other (three) marriages added together. The little stinker sent me a dozen roses.

And check out his creative wording on the card...

We celebrated by having dinner and then I had to drag him to another book launch/reading/signing for St. Louis Reflections. It was the launch party for another anthology by St. Louis Writers Guild members. The books weren't ready, but the party went on.

St. Louis Writers Guild President, Brad Cook started things off explaining the history of the guild. He's also the historian of the guild and has done an exceptional job at that!

Here I am reading my story "Hendel's Market".

I had a few props with me: a picture of Hendel's that hubby made for me, along with a jar of penny candy (not really a penny any more) but I talked about the candy in my story. Sugar Shack, where I purchased the candy for the book launch, was sweet enough to give me some wooden quarters to pass out at the event--good for 25 cents worth of candy in the store.

In my story I mentioned one thing my little sister and I would do is pretend to give one another communion with the flying saucer candies, and here's my daughter giving communion to my two sisters after she heard my story.

It really was a lovely event and I felt honored to be among special writers and part of the anthology. I'd like to thank everyone who ventured out, and for those who made the event possible.

Linda Austin wrote a nice article about event, A Gathering of Writers and Memories of St. Louis.

And if you're interested in ordering a copy of St. Louis Reflections, visit and they're only $9.99!

Monday, December 12, 2011

St. Louis Reflections

St. Louis Reflections Book Release Party & Last-minute Holiday Book Fair
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
7-9pm at the Kirkwood Train Station
101 W. Argonne Dr. Kirkwood, MO 63122

There will be readings by the anthology authors. They'll be serving wine and cheese. Of course there will be books for sale for $9.99. And other books written by St. Louis Writers Guild members will be for sale also.

If you can't make the event, you can order the book from

And for more details, you can read my previous post.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More on The Christmas Pageant

Dear Mom,

Remember me telling you about my friend Mark and that he had written the story that was made into a Hallmark movie, The Christmas Pageant? Gail Pennington, of wrote an article about Mark and the movie.

I'm having some grade school friends over on Sunday so that we can watch the movie and celebrate! It should be pretty fun. A few of these friends are the same one's I'd have pajama parties with back in grade school. How funny is that? Here we are forty years later--it's not "pretend" any more.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Book Launch!

Dear Mom,

Remember that good news I said I had in my previous letter to you? I almost can’t believe this, but I just found out that another story that I wrote will be in another anthology. How cool is that?

St. Louis Reflections Book Release Party & Last-minute Holiday Book Fair
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
7-9pm at the Kirkwood Train Station
101 W. Argonne Dr. Kirkwood, MO 63122

There will be readings by the anthology authors. They'll be serving wine and cheese. Of course there will be books for sale for $9.99. And other books written by St. Louis Writers Guild members will be for sale also.

St. Louis Reflections anthology was created to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the St. Louis Writers Guild. Written by members of St. Louis Writers Guild, there are 45 pieces in the anthology, a mix of poetry, prose, and personal essays. It also includes a list of every member in 2010.

My piece is written about Hendel’s Market (titled “Hendel’s Market” pretty creative, huh?) and of course, you know where that was in Florissant, just two blocks away from where we lived when I was a kid. I hope I did it justice—there were a lot of us Sacred Heart school kids, and others who frequented Hendel’s. But what a place, that's for sure.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some Friends and Chicken Soup for the Soul

Dear Mom,

I'm pretty sure if you were alive, you'd like Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Although I can't remember you ever reading. Maybe I never paid any attention when I was a kid. Or maybe you didn't like to read.

I have some friends who are doing a book signing of various Chicken Soup books, where they have their stories published.

Linda and Tammy will be at Main Street Books, 307 S. Main Street in St. Charles on Saturday, December 10 from 1-3pm. If you bring a canned good, you get 20% off your entire purchase.

It's the 2nd Annual Chicken Soup for the Soul book signing/ Canned Soup for the Body food drive to benefit the local food pantry.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Storm Country: The Anthology Book Launch in Joplin!

Dear Mom,

The launch party, reading and signing of the book, Storm Country: The Anthology held in Joplin on Sunday was a huge success. I’m not sure where to start.

It was held at the at the Spiva Center for the Arts. Slowly but surely people trickled in and before I knew it, it was a packed room.

Deb Marshall, President of the Missouri Writers Guild started things off by introducing the youth that were part of the book. She presented each one with a certificate.

They had also received a copy of the book and they had been busy signing their names to everyone’s copy.

Deb then presented the librarians with a check for $3,000! (Money raised from the sale of Storm Country—and there’s more to come.)

The youth then read their poems. After that, other contributors could read their story or poem.

Rosalie Carol Linda Bonnie (I forgot to snap her picture while she read)

Here’s the President of the Joplin Writers Guild, Clauida, who came up with the idea to create the book. Yay Claudia!

I read part of my story—starting from the part when I had finally heard Geoffrey was alive because Gwen had seen him and called her sister, who posted it on Facebook. Both Geoffrey and Gwen were at the event! Here we are (Gwen to the left):

After the event was over we went out to eat and that's when I had the honor of meeting the family that had picked up Geoffrey and took him in after the tornado hit. After dinner, Geoffrey showed us some of the devastation and holy cow, it’s really hard to wrap my head around what I was viewing. Unbelievable—and I’m sure what I saw wasn’t anything like it was when it first hit.

It was a long day, but worth every minute.

Again, I can’t thank everyone enough for all their efforts in making this possible. And Susan and Rita, thank you for riding with me and helping at the event.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Storm Country: The Anthology

Dear Mom,

I leave tomorrow for Joplin for another launch party, reading and signing of the book, Storm Country: The Anthology which has a story of mine in it about Geoffrey. I'm so excited because I will get to see Geoffrey too!

The details? Oh, well, it's Sunday, December 4 from 1-4 pm. It's at the Spiva Center for the Arts located at 222 West 3rd Street in Joplin of course! The books sell for $10 and all proceeds go to the Joplin school libraries. There are more details too.

I'm truly honored to be a part of this anthology and am so grateful for all the people involved that made it happen; starting with the idea to the actual (beautiful) book.

When it was announced that you could pre-order books, I ordered 50 and am happy to say that I've sold all 50 of them. I'm grateful too for all those who have shown their support to me as a writer and to Joplin--where the real support is needed.

I have some other good news too but I'll have to save that for later. Watch over me, as I'll surely need it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Christmas Pageant

Check out The Christmas Pageant presented by the Hallmark Channel and written by a good friend of mine, Mark Valenti! I went to grade school with Mark. There were certain kids that I felt I knew what they were designed to do. Even back then, I knew Mark would be into movies in some way, shape, or form.

I hope you'll all support my friend by sitting down, turning on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, December 11, 8:00 pm Eastern and 7:00 pm Central and watch The Christmas Pageant. Who doesn't love a feel good movie? You know what I'll be doing on December 11th!

Congratulations Mark!