New Hess Truck For the Holiday Season.

When my son was a boy, he looked forward to getting a new Hess Truck for Christmas.  Since 1964, the company has produced a new one each holiday season, still delighting kids young and old. This year’s model will be three times special: Along with the RV, there is an ATV and a motorbike. The ramp doors of the RV fold down so you can roll out the ATV and motorbike, both of which have drivers wearing helmets. These smaller vehicles can pop wheelies and move around on their own thanks to the friction motors.  The RV lights up with a total of 72 lights, the most for any vehicle. And, it’s quiet.

You can check out this holiday tradition at: http://www.hesstoytruck.com

2018 Hess RV with ATV and Motorbike

Photo courtesy of Hess.

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Celebrate Giving Tuesday.

We often give in small ways everyday without realizing it. Lending a helping hand to a neighbor, having lunch with a friend, donating used clothes to a local shelter, helping at a food bank, sharing our garden’s bounty with friends, are only a few ways we give of ourselves on a daily basis.

Did you know that the act of giving back boosts health, well-being, and happiness? So, every time you give, you get back something in return. Maybe that’s why we feel so good giving gifts during the holiday season. Instead of material goods, why not give the gift of your time and talent?

Tomorrow, November 27, 2018, is Giving Tuesday. We can celebrate generosity and kindness by the simple act of giving of ourselves to others. Visit  http://www.givingtuesday.org  for ways you and your family can get involved.

helping hands

Remember: No gift or act of kindness is ever wasted.

November is Peanut Butter Lovers Month!

I have to admit I was surprised to learn November is Peanut Butter Lover’s month. Pumpkin lovers? Certainly. Cranberry lovers, or even apple lovers? Sure. Who knew peanut butter was something to celebrate this time of year.

In honor of the easy, versatile and kid-friendly food, here is a simple dip that you can proudly serve for the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. Makes a perfect appetizer to keep kids of all ages from asking “When do we eat?”. It’s easy for kids to make as well.

PEANUT BUTTER DIP:1/4 C creamy peanut butter, 3 oz. low fat cream cheese, 1-2 T. apple or orange juice, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce.

1. Combine the PB, cream cheese, juice and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add applesauce, a little at a time, until it is the right consistency for a dip. Chill before serving with the following:

sliced bananas, carrots, celery sticks, broccoli florets, apple slices, graham cracker sticks, pretzel rods, or any assortment of fruits and veggies you choose.  It’s amazing how many things taste great with peanut butter. 

Feel free to try it with non-traditional dippers such as pickles, pepper slices, sausage pieces or whatever. Refrigerated, it will be good for 2-3 days.  If you have allergies to peanuts, try substituting another butter in the recipe.

peanut-butter

Anyone out there adventurous enough to try a peanut butter and turkey sandwich? Who knows, it may be a new way to enjoy all those leftovers.

Three Worthy Causes to Sponsor on Veteran’s Day and Beyond.

Even though the holiday season is fast approaching, and thoughts of outdoor activities turn indoors, you can still show your support to two worthwhile causes throughout the year.

1. How can you honor Veteran’s on this Veteran’s Day?  Pick up a box of Band-Aids Our Veteran Heroes design bandages. With each purchase, the company makes a donation to TEAM RED, WHITE & BLUE, an organization that helps and supports veterans.  You can find them at Drugstores nationwide.

2.  Saturday, November 15 is AMERICA RECYCLES DAY.  Sort your cans, bottles,  and paper and help keep America beautiful.  visit: http://www.americarecyclesday.org

3. Feed the hungry one grain of rice at a time while also building your vocabulary. for every word you correctly define, grains of rice will be set aside and donated to those in need. Visit  http://www.freerice.org

Author/Illustrator Mary Zisk Presents: The Art Behind THE ART OF BEING REMMY.

I am thrilled to have children’s book author and illustrator Mary Zisk to talk about her debut middle grade novel THE ART OF BEING REMMY. I had the pleasure of reading this delightful time travel adventure back to 1965 and will share my review at the end of this post.

Mary will talk about the art she created for the book and her inspiration for writing it.  Here’s Mary:

The Art Behind The Art of Being Remmy

Mary-Oliver-Remmy-web

The most exciting event of my junior high life inspired my new middle grade novel, The Art of Being Remmy. When I was 13, I won a Draw-the-Beatles contest and tickets to a Beatles concert. The BEATLES! My best friend and I could barely hear the Fab Four singing with all the screaming, but the event was electric and so memorable.

The Art of Being Remmy

When I decided to write my novel, I used the pride and thrill I had felt from winning the contest to mold my main character, Remmy Rinaldi—a twelve-year-old girl who dreams of being an artist in spite of the objections from her father, the rivalry with a knucklehead boy, and the possibility of losing her best friend to a rat fink. I also reconnected with the remembrance that there were unwritten rules keeping girls in their place in the mid-sixties—sports are for boys, limited career options with the preferred being homemaker, dress codes, etc.

During draft number six, I came to a realization: how can I write a novel called The Art of Being Remmy and not have any art in it? I first drew an illustration that helped me define the premise of the book and create a possible visual direction.

Remmy_overview

As I continued rewriting drafts, I drew more cartoons—Remmy’s Wow Wall, best friend Debbie’s bedroom with matching canopy twin beds, and Suzanne The Rat Fink.

The Art of Being Remmy

But as my text drafts got deeper into Remmy’s emotions, I put myself in her place and felt that any artwork in the novel would be most meaningful and impactful if Remmy did all the illustrations from her point of view in her Super Secret Sketchbook—like illustrating in first person, instead of third person.

Layout 1

But what if readers of illustrated or graphic novels expected to see Remmy and all the characters acting out the narrative in scenes? I could be taking a big risk. As an experiment, I illustrated Remmy’s dream of the Beatles in NYC, influenced by her favorite painting, The Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh. Creating that illustration felt so right and natural to Remmy’s inner feelings and to my artistic process, I knew that was the direction I had to take.

The Art of Being Remmy

I continued by doing a full-page illustration for each of the 35 chapters of the book (plus a small spot illustration for each chapter opening).

The Art of Being Remmy

The Art of Being Remmy

The Art of Being Remmy

It has taken nine years to bring Remmy out into the world. I hope her story will now entertain middle grade girls as well as give them inspiration and feelings of empowerment as they create their own life journeys. Follow your Spark!

Mary Zisk is a graphic designer (mostly of magazines), an author/illustrator, and an artist with a passion for capturing foreign destinations in watercolor. She is the author and illustrator of the picture book, The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted, and the illustrated middle grade novel, The Art of Being Remmy. Mary lives in New Jersey with her daughter and four white fluffy rescue mutts.

To learn more about Mary (and Remmy), please visit www.MaryZisk.com. She blogs about her many eclectic collections at www.TheClutterChronicles.com.

The Art of Being Remmy is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

As promised, here is my (Darlene’s) review for THE ART OF BEING REMMY:

The Art Of Being Remmy by Mary Zisk is a delightful time travel trip back to 1965 when the Beatles reigned supreme. Remmy Rinaldi and her best friend Debbie ADORE all things Beatles and make a plan to one day meet their idols. Remmy also loves art and has a second secret plan to develop her Spark as an artist, even though it means going against her father’s wishes. Girls in the 1960’s need to know their place and follow the path men have set for them. A path that includes being housewives, mothers, maybe teachers, nurses , secretaries or stewardesses. But artists? NEVER!

Remmy is determined to prove her father and everyone else – including her once friend Bill – that she can be a great artist. Good enough to win a contest. She keeps her drawings in Super Secret Sketchbooks and earns her own money to take painting lessons so she can enter the Art Awards Contest.

Lots of challenges get in the way of Remmy’s plan, including problems with her best friend and a devious French Rat Fink. Along the bumpy road of 7th grade, Remmy learns that some rules are worth challenging and fairness for girls in all aspects of life is one of them.

This illustrated middle grade book is a funny and charming peek into the days when the Beatles took the world by storm and the force of female protest was at their heels. An entertaining read that celebrates creativity and girl power.

 

 

Celebrate National Author’s Day.

As an author, a reader, and a lover of books, it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to send a “shout out” to my favorite authors, especially today.  Today, November 1, 2018, is NATIONAL AUTHOR’S DAY. How can you show some “LOVE” to your favorite authors?

Buy a book and give one to a friend.

Leave a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Tweet your praise on Twitter. Let your favorite author know how much a book meant to you. Use the hashtag #NationalAuthorsDay.

If an author has inspired your own writing, take some time to honor your “inner author” and put your own words onto paper.

Reach out to your favorite author/s because writing is a lonely business. With so much negativity in the world, a good book brings a lot of pleasure. Thank your favorite authors today.  They deserve it.

Thank you Katherine Applegate, Kate DiCamillo, Marina Cohen, Beth Ferry, Laura Sassi, Annie Silvestro, Ransom Riggs, Laurie Wallmark, Janet Fox, Jennifer Donnelly, Sharon Creech, Joanne Rocklin, Robin Newman, Alan Bradley, Marissa Moss…..we may be here all day.