January 29, 2014

Returning Iowa Friends

At a recent book signing, I was pleased to see Joan and Donna from Winterset, Iowa.  They are already GOODBYE LIErs and are anxious to read Mark of a Man, #3 in my Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie trilogy.  Stay tuned, girls...

Joan and Donna

January 25, 2014

Potato Stamping - a Goodbye Lie Fave

I love old fashioned crafts because they're easy and fun and because our ancestors created them.  Potato stamping is a wonderful family activity. It is featured it in my historical romance novel, Amelia Island's The Goodbye Lie Trilogy set in 1882 in north Florida.  In the story, the Dunnigan children are kept occupied with this activity so as to protect them from the frantic goings-on by the adults around them. 
potato stamps with paint
completed T shirt
Caution:  Since a knife is needed for cutting the potato, an adult must be present to supervise.
Paint.  Read the label on the paint before applying it to make sure you're using the correct type for the object you will be stamping.  If stamping on wood, acrylic (washable) paint will work.  Poster or acrylic paint is good for paper.   Use fabric paint for fabric.  Be careful of water color paints because they may be too thin.  The outline of your stamp might look blurred.
     Always test the consistency of paint and the coverage of your stamp on a paper towel or rag or wood scrap, whatever is similar to your intended finished product.
     Once the paint on your design is completely dry, heat set paint on fabric designs with an iron set on high.  Stroke the iron over the picture while it is covered with a protective cloth (like an old pillow case) for three or four minutes.   Do not scorch and DO NOT USE STEAM.
You'll need:
  •  Sharp knife (for adult hands only)
  • 1 large fresh potato, at least 3" in diameter to make two stamps
  • Pencil for outlining pattern on potato or cookie cutter
  • Paint - see notes above
  • Paint brush, sponge brush or cotton swabs
  • Aluminum foil or paper plate for paint palette
  • Paper towels for blotting and testing stamp
  • Multi-colored felt tip markers (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Beads (optional)
  • Buttons (optional)
  • Thin ribbon or lace for bows (optional)
  • Pencil with new eraser for dots (optional)
Wash the potato to remove any dirt and pat dry with paper towels.  Do not peel.
Cut the potato evenly in half using a large knife to make a clean cut.  It needs to be as flat a surface as possible without ridges - these will show when you stamp. 
Decide on what image you want to stamp.  A simple pattern will be easier to cut into the potato than an intricate one.  If making initials, make them block style, bold and backwards!  Save the complicated snowflake-type shapes for when you've mastered the easy stuff.
With the pencil, trace or draw your pattern free-hand on the cut side of the potato, or press a cookie cutter 1/4 inch into the flat white surface of the potato.
Cut away the area outside the stamp so that the stamp protrudes by at least ¼ inch.  I found it was best to cut away small sections at time, being careful not to let the knife slip under the actual stamp part, or it will fall off.
Squirt a small puddle of paint on the foil.  With a brush or cotton swab, paint the stamp portion of the potato, making sure the stamping surface only is evenly covered.  Wipe off any paint that slops over the edge.  You want a crisp outline. 
Test your stamp on a paper towel to see how much paint and pressure are required before you actually begin stamping your project.
To change colors using the same stamp design, wipe away any excess paint from the stamp and paint on a new color.
Let the paint of an already stamped design dry before partially stamping over it with another color if that's the look you desire.  If you want the colors of the paints to blend, then quickly stamp the new color over the color used just before it.
Get creative.  Personalize items or decorate wrapping paper, book covers, picture frames, stationary, brown bags as gift bags and lunch bags.  Stamp gift tags, envelopes, refrigerator pictures, T shirts, paper and cloth napkins, tablecloths, doll clothes, etc.  If you can think of it, you can decorate it. 
Embellishments for T-shirts or fabric purses:
  • Sprinkle glitter on the paint while it's still wet so it will stick.
  • Glue tiny beads, buttons (sewn on fabric) or ribbon bows (safety pinned for removal for washing if necessary)
  • Outline the stamp with a marking pen or paint a boarder around each stamp pattern or random stamps on the object you're making so it will stand out. 
  • Spatter paint - Dip an old toothbrush in gold paint or any other color and run your finger along the bristles from tip back toward you, while pointing the toothbrush at the object you're decorating.  The paint will speckle the surface.  Practice first on a newspaper to test the technique and discover the coverage you want.
"Necklace" look (as in photo above) - Repeatedly dip the flat new eraser of a pencil into paint and dab it onto a shirt in a draped pattern to resemble the beads of a necklace.  Make it a choker or a long necklace, whatever appeals to you.
If you cover your potato stamps in cold water in the refrigerator, they will keep for a day or two.
Reprinted article from www.GraciousJaneMarie.com

January 19, 2014

What Do You See?

I attended a meeting and in the board room was a large conference table with a very busy faux wood grain pattern, or at least I think it was supposed to be wood.  My attention quickly turned from the subject being discussed to the table's surface.  The more I examined it, the more odd creature faces I saw.  Some were cute, sort of, and some were scary.  I hope I never have to talk business around that thing again because it gave me the creeps!  See if you can see any of the faces I did.    
table from a distance- busy pattern
large seal face showing one eye, nose and mouth?
wide eyed alien heads?
eel profile with its mouth open, facing right?

January 15, 2014

Oops, Another Lucy Moment

Oops, I did it again. Taking a line from Britney Spear’s song, I once again got myself in and, questionably, out of a pickle this morning.  There I am, readying my person for an early meeting.  Granted, it was 7 a.m., on a cold winter’s day for Florida, and two out of four light bulbs were burned out over the bathroom vanity, but is that an excuse?  I certainly think so.  Anyway, I’m brushing my hair as I often do before attending  meetings. The exception is when I meet with  Button, the cat,  Abby, the dog, and Martha Bear, the ursine, http://www.greenlightwrite.com/marthabearcentral.htm , for they do not require  such formal preparations as this.
Back to my incident. There I am, brush in hand, looking at myself in the dim light and thinking how my hair needs some lift due to the new conditioner I used.  That stuff will be going back to the store as soon as I can find my receipt.  Now what did I do with that thing?  It’s then I remember I have some hair raising, volumizer, poofy stuff in the cupboard below. I hadn’t used it in ages, but it should still be good.  Do those things expire and sour like lumpy milk?  Squirting a little on my right palm, I pat it here and there and everywhere on my head.  A slight almond scent, I don’t recall smelling the last time I used it, wafted through the shower’s steam.  Eyes closed, rub, rub, more pat, pat and I am ready to observe a fuller head of hair. Expecting one thing and seeing another equals SHOCKER!  What I observe is a semi-greasy mass of semi-curly waves.  I did not verify what I grabbed from under the sink.  What is it?  I dash to the window to take a look at the label in the breaking light of dawn.  Remember, it’s pretty dark in the bathroom.  The good news is that I count that dash as two calisthenics, as in exercise.  I figure any time you move your feet, you’re exercising.  That romp to the sliding glass door probably burned one-one hundredth of a calorie, don’t you think?
At the window, I still can’t read the label.  Grrr!  “Where are my glasses?” I shout, as I do approximately every 13. 27 seconds of my life, or so it seems to Bruce, my husband.  “If you’d only get one of those string-things so you can hang your glasses around your neck…” he says.  That’s a blog for another day.  After finding my lost lenses in the dog’s bed, yet another blog, I put them on, adjusting them just so because one of the temple arms ( I looked that up) is missing.  Clarifying what is soaking into my brain at this point, I say a quick prayer of thanks that the substance I so generously applied to my scalp  is  not toilet bowl cleaner, but my granddaughter’s shampoo for curly hair! 
Having zero time to re-wash and dry my hair, I do what any former Girl Scout does. I apply copious amounts of glitter body powder to absorb the oil from the shampoo. A fast brush through, a quick goodbye kiss to Bruce, who looks at me in his usual way when I do unusual things, and I am out the door, the evidence of my latest Lucy moment apparent in my trail of white dust. 
Home again, in the comfort of my Story Central corner, I think back, happy no one was hateful enough to comment on my flat, dull, except for the sparkles, ten shades lighter powdered gray hair.  People can be so nice, can’t they? 

January 10, 2014

Disney's Castle Comes Alive Video

Our family spent time at Disney World in Orlando, Florida just after Christmas.  There is always something new and wonderful to behold there.  This time, for me, it was what they have done to Cinderella's castle.  Please click on the video below and enjoy.  Being privileged to see this 10 minute projected spectacle in person created a memory I'll keep forever.   
Video from AttractionsMagazine.com
(I took a video very similar to the one above, but managed to get the sidewalk and street light in the process, making it my usual home movie.)
photo by JMM

photo by JMM

photo by JMM

January 5, 2014

Mark of a Man Excerpt- Crusty Anchor

Making the Mark:
Readers often ask me where I get ideas for my novels.  Here is one quick explanation with a short excerpt from my upcoming Amelia Island's Mark of a Man, part of Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie Trilogy. Set in 1898, the action happens from Florida up to Pennsylvania, down to Cuba and back to Florida. This particular scene is set in the Crusty Anchor Pub. The fictional pub is named for my granddaughter's stuffed cat.  When she was very little, she used to chew on the tail, it would dry, and get icky between washings.  Hence, we nicknamed the animal, CRUSTY Kitty.  The ANCHOR is to honor my brother, a Navy man, and there you have it- Crusty Anchor.

Mark of a Man excerpt: 
   Aunt Jency was a youthful thing and delicate, barely older than Pat, himself. In the short while he'd known her, he decided he liked her. She seemed a fine and caring person, even if she wasn't much of cook. From the looks of her husband's belly, he was finding sustenance somewhere.
   They caught sight of the rough, painted sign spelling out Crusty Anchor Pub in faded red letters. Pat envisioned it rowdy with mariners and didn't want to see Jency put in an uncomfortable position. To his pleasant surprise, the small place was mostly crowded with families. The chatter was high and the aroma wonderful. 
   They sat at a table in the center of the room with thirty or so customers enjoying their meals. Twenty feet from the window, they crooked their necks to get a glimpse of the darkening sky and deep gray of Presque Isle Bay.
   "You know, y'all," Pat commented, "the scene outside reminds me of Florida, with the boats, I mean."
   "You'll be having your fill of water by the time your hitch is up in the Navy."
   "You're right about that, Uncle John," Pat agreed, but silently hoped he was wrong, since water was what floated his family's business.  
   "Hear that accent, y'all?" mimicked a booming male voice. "Sounds like we got us a dirty Grayback clear up here in Erie."
   Tightly and quickly, Pat blinked, hoping that menacing voice behind him spouted only an empty challenge. Hags-teeth! Brawling got him where he was today. In the second before he turned to face his aggressor, he tossed a glance at Uncle John who was polishing his utensils on the sleeve of his plaid shirt and seemingly paying no mind. Jency, bending over her child, shielded the baby with her body. Pat stood, spun on his boot, and stepped away from the table, in case there was trouble. He tensed, saying, "The war's long past, man. If you still want to do this, I'll give you one free swing. After that--"...

   Perpetua stirred, fussed, and Jency pulled forth a tea towel wrapped baby bottle. "Good, it's still warm."
   "It had best be," the child's father said. "We don't want our little girl to be unhappy."
   "My daddy always says girls are made for spoilin', Uncle John. I see you both have the same philosophy."
   Their attention turned from one another and back to the baby when she let out a huge wail as the bottle slipped from her mother's hand and pulled from Perpetua's mouth to crash to the floor. Spikes of glass glistened in the light of the oil lamps on the surrounding square tables.
   "Oh dear," Jency murmured, the worry heavy in her tone. "Perpetua may still be hungry. I never imagined this happening. I haven't another bottle with me."  She lifted the baby over her shoulder and patted the child's back. A soft burp erupted and Perpetua calmed down.
   "Shall we go before the poor thing realizes she hasn't had a full meal?" Uncle John ordered in the form of a question.  
   The buggy ride jostled Perpetua back to sleep. Pat talked softly so as not to wake her. "Thank you both for a wonderful taste of home." The moment he'd said it, he realized the thoughtlessness of his remark. He would never intentionally hurt Jency's feelings about her cooking. "I mean--being with you has reminded me of my family in Fernandina. I miss them a great deal."
   Riding up to their front door, Pat dismounted and helped Jency and the baby down from the buggy. He didn’t go inside. Instead, he shook his uncle's hand and kissed the back of his aunt's on their front stoop.
   "Well, son, we'll write to your father and tell him what a fine man he has in you. Be sure and come visit us again when you get leave. Don't be a stranger."
   "I won't, sir." On his horse, "Thanks again, Uncle."
   "Goodbye, Pat." A tender smile lit Jency's face. Perpetua whimpered. "I must see to my little one."
   Riding away, Pat aimed his ear in the direction of Uncle John's house.  Curious, he thought, how similar a child's cry was to that of a woman's.  


January 1, 2014

Peeper's New Year's Warning!

Happy New Year!

You may have heard to eat black-eyed peas on January 1st for prosperity in the new year because the peas represent coins. Having pork/ham means a positive advance into the future since pigs eat in a forward movement, not side to side. Consume cornbread to keep your family close in spirit.

*Grandmother Peeper writes in her Goodbye Lie Diary entry, "Don't wash anything on New Year's Day, lest ya wash a family member way!" 

No worries here, Peep. We ate canned black-eyed peas.  Apologies to you great Southern home cooks. Add cornbread muffies from Jiffy muffin mix and my personal variation on Reubens- thinly sliced ham instead of corned beef.  While we may have circled these traditions as opposed to enacting them exactly, I promise you, Peeper, I will do no laundry, give the dog a bath or wash a dish today, as per your warning. 

Take heed, dear friends.  Peeper has spoken!

(*Peeper adopted the 1880's fictional Dunnigan family in my Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie Trilogy.)