Saturday, April 22, 2006

Peeky Eggs Update
Today I:
- revised a picture book manuscript that will be published next year;
- finished up some game instructions for the Sunday school curriculum I'm working on;
- went to pick up my son's baseball uniform;
- made pancakes (it is Saturday after all);
- did other various and sundry things around the house.
Now that I'm finishing up these other writing projects, I'm feeling ready to move onto something new. Will be pondering that...

In the meantime, I decided to add some photos of the peeky eggs production from last week. Thanks again to Doodles and Noodles for her the recipe. Anyway, here's the first picture:

The first step in making the peeky eggs is to make the egg shells. The only ingredients are sugar and egg whites. I used a substitute for egg whites, called meringue powder (a Wilton product). Using an egg-shaped mold, I pressed the sugar mixture into the mold, and then turned it over onto a piece of waxed paper. After a couple of hours, the outer part of the shell is dried, so I scraped the "innards" out to make these hollow shells. These then dried overnight.

Next, I made the frosting, which serves as the "glue" inside the egg to stick the decorations to. It also used as the piping along the edges of each half and the front which holds the two halves together. This was the toughest step, mostly because a) I am completely inept at cake decorating (just ask my son--his cake from his 7th birthday is still a scary memory for me); and b) I don't have the proper tools. So, what you see here is the frosting mess.

Here I am almost finished with the project. This is not a terrific picture of the finished product, but you can see on the right my finished eggs, which--even in spite of my piping fiasco--still look pretty impressive. That's the cool thing about this project. You can pretty much mess it up entirely and the eggs still look awesome in the end.

Inside my peeky eggs I put little birds and eggs. I think I found a couple of small butterflies to put in a couple too.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back Home from Gettysburg
After church on Easter Sunday, we left for a 3- day hiatus in Gettysburg. It was a good choice. The drive wasn't bad--only 3-4 hours and just enough to do to a) not be bored, and b) not be overwhelmed with sightseeing. A perfect post-Easter trip. The weather was fantastic--the trees are leafing out, the tulips were blooming, the grass was Ireland-green. We took an auto tour with a CD (thanks, Debbie!) and drove around the battlefields, trying with all our might to imagine how this beautiful and peaceful place could be the sight where a terribly bloody battle took place in 1863. Bulletholes in old buildings attested to the fact that yes, this really was the place where the Confederate and Union soldiers met in terrible conflict which raged over three days. We noted that at least two chaplains were killed. I'm sure many more than that died, but we saw markers for at least two.

We really enjoyed the Dobbin House (here's some cool history on the building) and Farnsworth House, both old homes that have been turned into charming restaurants that serve delicious food where it felt like we were transported back to colonial America. All in all, a great brief getaway.

Now...back to the laundry.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday - It's All About Jesus
...Uplifted for the world to see He hangs in strangest victory,
For in His body on the tree He carries all our ill.
(HS98 824)

His life, His all He gave When He was crucified;
Our burdened souls to save, What fearful death He died!
But each of us, though dead in sin,
Through Him eternal life may win.
(HS98 821)

Here are some wonderful thoughts about Good Friday.

And the lilies at church have arrived, so Easter is coming...
Peeky Eggs
Here's a link to my illustrator's blog, Doodles and Noodles. Carol is a terrific illustrator as well as my good friend, and she's going to be putting up her darling sketches on her blog. So, take a look. In this post, she shows an adorable chick looking into what she calls a "peeky egg." (Love that name!) She shared with me the recipe for how to make them (and I think the links on her post may have some of that info). So, right now my countertop is filled with sugary eggshells drying.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Radio Interviews and Spelling Bees
Today I have a radio interview with KFUO in St. Louis on their Issues, Etc. program on my new book Mommy Promises. Hopefully, I won't sound too idiotic. Public speaking is not exactly my strong suit--not that this is public speaking per se, but still. It's close enough to make me a nervous wreck. But it's nice they're having me on the program and also nice that they made the book their book of the month. And I will say that these radio interviews have definitely gotten easier over time.

And we found out last night that our Jacob will be in the 4th grade spelling bee next week. I've been asking him about it for weeks, and finally he announced last night he would be in the bee. I asked him how long he's known. "Oh, for a few days," he said. I just roll my eyes.

I was a judge for the spelling bee the last two years since it's supported by the PTA. It's an exciting event for the 4th and 5th graders in the school.

So, back to my public speaking angst. Jacob can spell effortlessly, just like me. But I can't spell the words out loud. I can write down any word and spell it correctly probably 99% of the time. But saying the actual letters out loud?? No way. I stammer, I hesitate, I go brain-dead. But Jacob can spell aloud. And he also--as much as he hates being up in front of people--doesn't get nervous, at least not as much as many kids I hear about.

Here's kudos to those of you who are quick-witted and articulate (like my husband) and can spell out loud (like my son). I'll stick to my pen and paper.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Walk the Line
So, we finally watched Walk the Line last night, the movie about Johnny Cash. First of all, let me just say how glad I am that I am not rich and famous, which leads to all sorts of problems.

The movie reminded me of Ray in some ways. Obviously, they're both about very successful musicians. And both were acted superbly. But Ray Charles and Johnny Cash were similar in other ways. They both were raised in poor, southern families, both experienced tragedy when they were young, both became successful musicians, both had drug addictions and difficulty in relationships.

Another striking feature of this film is how it portrays Johnny Cash's father. If it's at all accurate, he was extremely cruel. He didn't appear to be physically abusive, but the emotional scars he left on his son were with him his whole life. It reminds me how powerful parents are in the lives of their children. And reminds me to pray a lot more.

Joaquin Phoenix is one of my favorite actors. He is extremely versatile. He can be scary and tyranical (as in Gladiator), simple and yet heroic (as in Signs), and fabulous in every way (as in The Village). In this movie, he embodies Johnny Cash so convincingly. Cash has a very distinctive voice and Phoenix nailed it. Reese Witherspoon was also stunning. The fact that they both sang their parts shows just how versatile both of them are.

Here's an interesting website called Rotten Tomatoes. This is the link to the Walk the Line review. Apparently, the site looks at lots of reviews and then figures out which ones are "rotten" and which are "fresh."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cool Photography Web site
Smithsonian's 3rd annual photo contest has its finalists on its web site. These are some spectacular pictures. Go here to check them out.
Cheep, cheep indeed!!
Check out this adorable picture. Real cheeping!! My illustrator and I are doing book signings this book for Cheep! Cheep! Fun!
Our Favorite Local Band
Scott and I have both written about Good Brother Earl before, but now they have a new CD, which I'm really enjoying (thank you, John!). Here's a link that will take you to their updated website, and directly get you to the info about their new CD, "Perfect Tragedy." I particularly like the song "Fighting Gravity," which you can hear in its entirety from this link. They are having a CD release party at the Rex on the South Side here in Pittsburgh this Sat. night. Cool!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Growing in Christ Sunday School Materials
Just got my author copy of the Fall 2006 Growing in Christ Sunday school materials for the middle grades from Concordia Publishing House. They look awesome! It's so great to see how all our ideas, brainstorming, and writing turned into these cool lesson leaflets, games, and posters. I was only one of the writers for the middle grade level (which is roughly 3rd/4th grades). This was the first quarter we wrote, which was the hardest for me. Writing curriculum is in a way very technical writing, which is somewhat different than what I normally do. But the project has been a joy in many ways.