Kill Germs The Healthy Way.

There has been a lot of articles in the news recently about “super bugs” and how the over use of antibiotics has caused many kinds of bacteria to be resistant to traditional medications.  WE OVERUSE ANTIBIOTICS when they really aren’t necessary.  In addition to antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections, we often use them for viral infections where they have no benefits other than to kill off the good bugs in our intestinal tract.  We can also  find antibiotics in meat and poultry, and in hand sanitizers, soaps and cleaners.  When we overuse them in these ways, not only do they kill off beneficial bacteria we need to digest food, they also create an overgrowth of “bad bugs”.

We don’t need to use antibacterial cleaners to get rid of germs.  Washing with regular soap and water will kill 99.9% of all germs.  So, instead of buying expensive anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, why not make your own?

MIX pure aloe vera gel with tea tree oil, or oil of lavender or myrrh – nature’s way of fighting bad bugs without destroying good one. Store in a container or pump bottle and use as needed.

For more recipes and DIY remedies, visit:


Father’s Day Fun!

It’s not too late to do some memorable things to honor the dad in your child’s life.  Any dad will love being treated like a king for a day.  A fast and easy gift can be as simple as a book of homemade “coupons” dad can redeem for things such as A FREE CAR WASH, BACK MASSAGE, FOOT RUB, DESSERT OF YOUR CHOICE,  and anything else you think the dad in your life might enjoy. 

You can also check out some great books about dad’s and Father’s Day at this site:

You and the kids might also want to make an awesome FOOTBALL HANDPRINT PHOTO keepsake.  It’s made using a simple salt dough recipe and a cookie cutter.

For awesome gift ideas, you can also check out:

Make DAD feel special…have a Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day Craft: Picture Puzzles — Levi & Laura

If you aren’t paying attention to the calendar, heads up! This Sunday is Father’s Day. Somewhat less advertised but equally as special, Father’s Day is the time to show your guy (father, grandfather, husband) just how important and loved he is. And what says “I love you” more than a handmade gift? Last year I […]

via Father’s Day Craft: Picture Puzzles — Levi & Laura

Swing Sideways – Book Giveaway & Journey

This book sounds like a great debut. Looking forward to reading it!

Writing and Illustrating

Congratulations to Nanci Turner Steveson for her debut book, SWING SIDEWAYS. She has agreed to do a book giveaway, so all you have to do to get in the running for win Nanci’s new book, is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Please make sure you check back on June 27th to discover the winner. Make sure I will be able to find and email for you, too.

blogswingsidewaysBOOK DESCRIPTION:

Perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons, this debut middle grade novel is the story of two girls and the unforgettable summer in which they learn about true friendship and…

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Keep Your Kids Reading This Summer.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has compiled a list of its members books that are perfect reading for kids of all ages this summer.  If you are concerned about your kids “losing their skills” during the summer break, why not check out some of these books at your local library.


Have a safe and happy summer break!

Marilyn Ostermiller Rides the Rails For Summer Fun!

Tracking Back Through Time by Marilyn Ostermiller

Got a yen to get off the fast track? If you’re looking for a summer adventure that takes you back to the trains that ran 100 years ago, you can ride on any of the numerous restored steam locomotives across the country. These trips offer views that can’t be enjoyed from the highway. And, depending of which train you hop on, you can enjoy the scenery in accommodations reminiscent of drawing rooms from that period.

This sampler of vintage train tours starts with an East Coast option and heads west:

  • Black River & Western Railroad, which dates back to 1854. Board at Flemington, N.J for a 25-minute trek to Ringoes, N.J. After a 10 to 15 minute stop, which includes a visit to a museum car and a gift shop, it’s all aboard for the return trip. For information about tickets, train schedule, special events visit: org
  • Strasburg Railroad, Ronks, PA. A 45-minute, round trip through the tranquil Amish countryside to Paradise, PA, and back. Travelers pass by more than 1,000 acres of farm fields. The excursion can be extended by getting off mid-trip at two convenient recreation areas. Choice of seating includes first-class, open air, coach and dining cars. For information visit: or call (866) 725-9666.
  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Board in Durango, CO. and travel 45 miles north through the valley of the Animas River before the canyon narrows, all roads vanish and for 30 miles there exists only the railroad, the glacial green waters of the river and the peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Narrators relate historic tales of the settling of the west dressed in period clothing. Season ends Oct. 29, 2016. Information: Reservations: (970) 247-2733.     473 Higline Sept2013 YLashmett wm
  • Grand Canyon Railway. Board at Williams Depot in Williams, Ariz. and arrive at the Grand Canyon Depot, just 200 yards from the edge of the canyon’s South Rim. The 2 1/4 hour trip covers 65 miles of classic Old West territory, including high desert plains with vistas, small arroyos and portions of the world’s largest Ponderosa pine forest. Vintage 1950s and 1970s-era diesel locomotives are used throughout the year. On select dates, the historic steam locomotive is put on the front of the train for the round trip journey. For reservations, call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) or visit:

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

Link to Youtube video:        Marilyn Ostermiller






Today is World Oceans Day: How Can You Make a Difference?

The United Nations recognizes today as WORLD OCEANS DAY, with a theme of Healthy Oceans-Healthy Planet.  I recently read a disturbing fact: By 2025, for every three pounds of fish in the ocean, there will be one pound of plastic.  Our oceans are becoming landfills, where 80% of the trash in the ocean comes from land.  The Atlantic Ocean garbage patch extends from Cuba to Virginia.  The Pacific Ocean Patch off the coast of California is the size of Texas. 

And, it isn’t just oceans that are affected.  This is also occurring in lakes, rivers and streams.  The Environmental Protection Agency has a goal of reducing plastic pollution discharges to our waters to zero within the next ten years.


Use washable dishes and refillable water bottles.  Bottled water comes from the same source as tap water.  If you use a filter on your sink or in a pitcher, you’ll not only save money, you’ll be saving oceans and waterways.

Waste less, reuse and recycle as much as you can.  Properly dispose of waste you cannot reuse.


Visit   to see how you and your family can get involved in promoting clean, thriving waterways.    To learn more about marine debris and the Trash Free Water Program visit:

NJSCBWI 2016: Rocks It Again!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of reconnecting with my writing “tribe” at our annual conference in Princeton NJ.  The NJ chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (NJSCBWI) is always a great time to learn techniques for improving the craft of writing for children.  It’s also the best time to pitch projects to agents and editors who are in attendance…each specifically looking for new talent.

We got to meet many new faces and reconnect with familiar ones.

Friday evening cocktails with Robin Newman and Carol Lyndstrom.

Friday evening cocktails with Robin Newman and Carol Lyndstrom.

It was a great weekend and always leaves me re-energized to start new projects and edit old ones based on critiques gotten from those in attendance. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Jody Staton, Yvonne Ventresca, Cathy Breisacher

Jody Staton, Yvonne Ventresca, Cathy Breisacher

In KidLIt TV Land with Katya "Kat".

In KidLIt TV Land with Katya “Kat”.






Author book signing with Marina Cohen.

Author book signing with Marina Cohen.

Saturday Evening Social with Gigi Collins, Jody Staton, and Kathy Bakos.

Saturday Evening Social with Gigi Collins, Jody Staton, and Kathy Bakos.

With PB author Robin Newman.

With PB author Robin Newman.

With Illustrator/author Mary Zisk.

With Illustrator/author Mary Zisk.

Celebrate…National Donut Day!

So who was the genius who designated the first Friday in June as NATIONAL DONUT DAY?  It should be no surprise that these popular treats get a day of their own.  While I’m more of a “muffin maven” than an “donut diva”, I do have a soft spot for our local farmer’s market apple cider donuts!

You can celebrate the day by buying your favorite donut treats.  Or, get the kids involved in MAKING YOUR OWN DONUTS.  For some delicious recipes to get you started, visit:

Try this recipe for: CINNAMON BAKED DONUTS from The Barefoot Contessa.

  • Baking spray with flour (such as Bakers Joy)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoon (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees . Spray 2 doughnut pans well with baking spray. Into a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until just combined.
  2. Spoon batter into prepared baking pans, filling each one a little more than three-quarters full. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then tap doughnuts out onto a sheet pan.
  1. Melt butter in an 8-inch saute pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each doughnut first in butter and then in cinnamon sugar, either on one side or both sides.


What flavors are your favorites?

2016 Crystal Kite Awards Announced

Writing and Illustrating

The Winners of the 2016 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards:

Congratulations to all this year’s winners and my friends:
Laurie Wallmark, April Chu, Kat Yeh, Elisa Wheeler, and Don Tate.

Atlantic (Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey/Wash DC/Virginia/West Virginia/Maryland)

Ada cover 72dpi

Laurie Wallmarkillustrated by April Chu  Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books)

New YorkTwinkie Pie

Kat Yeh – The Truth About Twinkie Pie (Little, Brown)

Midwest (Minnesota/Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan/Indiana/Ohio)

Pat Zietlow Miller

Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler – Wherever You Go (Little, Brown)


Don Tate

Don Tate Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree Publishers)

Australia/New Zealand

Frane Lessac 

Frané LessacA is for Australia (Walker Books Australia) and

Peter Carnavas Blue Whale Blues (New Frontier Publishing/Scholastic Australia)


Stacey Lee

Stacey Lee – Under a Painted Sky (Penguin BFYR)


Margriet Ruurs

Margriet Ruurs – A Brush Full of Colour (Pajama Press)

International Other

Angela Cerrito

Angela Cerrito – The Safest Lie (Holiday…

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