Tis the Season to Craft

All the craft stores are having sales on their Christmas decorating items and also decor so we know this is the season to start our craft projects before we need to decorate.  Sometimes this means pulling out old wreaths and swags to make them look new and fresh.  I have had a four-foot wreath for over ten years and this year I have just the place for it out front.  So off to the store we went, my friend and I.

When you walk into a store as large as Hobby Lobby you can get lost in the Christmas flower selection and then you move to the other side of the store and you find nothing but Christmas decorations and craft items.  They have an entire aisle of nothing but Christmas picks for your decorating needs and another aisle of different ribbon and another with so many ornaments you can easily put a theme on your tree or greenery.  The picks are separated into the red section, then greenery, white and on the other side you can find picks with wood added into the picks.

Now for those who do not know what a floral pick is I will explain. It is a group of flowers, Christmas bulbs, toys/gifts,  and greenery arranged on a long piece of heavy wire.  You can place them in an arrangement or on a wreath to pull more things together.  They are great so you don’t have to personally pull different textures, colors, and themes together on your own.  It is my easy way out when I am doing large items like a wreath.  I sometimes use them on my Christmas tree as well.  They add more to the tree than just the Christmas bulbs.

After I purchased everything I wanted, I pulled it together and placed them in different bags.  One bag for the wreath, one bag for the garland that will wrap around the porch, and then a miscellaneous bag.  By sorting the items I controlled my theme I wanted to go with and I don’t use the multiple floral picks I purchased for a particular project.  It controlled me more than anything.  I hate when I use something I had intended for another project and have to go back to the store to purchase more to fill the area I am decorating.

My greenery saving technique is using floral wire when affixing my Christmas bulbs, flowers, and picks.  I like to reuse my wreaths, swags, and garland.  If I decide to change the color theme next year I can take the items off and replace them.  If I hot glue them on it will pull out the needles and destroy the body of the piece I am working with.  Most of the greenery you purchase for your Christmas projects have a life of longer than one year.  It took me a while to take all the lights and past items off my wreath this morning but it was well worth all the work.

Before I did anything I put a sheet over my door to protect the wood on the door and the trim.  The last thing you want to do is give yourself another project that could be harder to fix than you anticipate.  After I put my Christmas lights on the wreath I will place the things I want on the wreath in a temporary way so I can rearrange if I don’t like the way it looks.  I will admit I sometimes cheat and go to Pinterest to get ideas before I go to the store.  I always add more things to my project to make it my own.

When you place the last item on your project you can stand back and smile.  It is part of you and part of who you are.  I normally take a picture of the before and after so I have a record of what I did.  If the wind blows things around you also have a way to reference what the original piece looked like before mother nature played her hand on your outside decorations.

Have fun with your decorating.  Always make it yours.  Add ornaments that represent your life the past year or the children in your life or add pine cones off a new tree you planted this year.  They have ornaments you can put pictures in and make it all about family.  Have fun.  Don’t make it a chore.  It is supposed to be a stress relief. Don’t be afraid to quit when you start to getting tired or frustrated.  I have done that many times.

Happy Christmas crafting.

Pam

 

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Dad’s Chair

Next month it will be 14 years since my father passed away, September 16, and I think about him every day.  When I think about my dad I look back and wish I had spent more time with him.  The doctors said he had three to five years to live and we had nine months with him.  I guess the signs were there when he was not feeling well, spending more time sitting in the kitchen looking out the window and sitting in his chair in the office.  We were so lucky to have so many good people in our lives who harvested the crops and helped dad out when he needed it or just stopped over to talk to him about what was going on at the round table in town and how the crops were doing.

When my dad passed away the things I wanted was his desk and chair. Mom didn’t want them, she didn’t have a place for them when she moved into town.  I have placed both items in my office and I even inherited the love seat he had in his office, as well as his filing cabinet.  I was always my father’s daughter as I followed him all over the farm and was never far behind him when he was feeding or working in the barn.  He was my mentor and he taught me so much over the years.  These items just keep me remembering all the good memories and feeling like he is watching over me and I am making him proud.  🙂

As I sit in his chair it is as if he has his arms around me telling me “you can do this and I love you.”  I created ProDuctions over 25 years ago and he was able to see me starting the company, watching as it grew.  When I had a question he was there to help me think about how I wanted to handle the situation or what I wanted the end result to be.  He always taught me to remember where I came from, there is nothing more important than your reputation in business and don’t forget how you were brought up.

Today I walked into my office, I looked at my dad’s chair sitting there waiting for me.  I have been so blessed over the years with all my friends and people I have met on my journey.   Two years ago we published Galon the Northern Pintail Duck, last year I published The Silver Heart under Samantha Sheridan and I am working on the second book in the Galon series of books.  I have five total books written about Galon and his adventures.  My dad read a few of them, but many were written after he passed away.  The Silver Heart was written in the 90’s and he told me I needed to publish it, which I did and am so proud of it, as well as Galon.

Anyone who knows me knows I can not just write a book, I have to go the extra mile.  La Donna Brewer-Capps and Barry Wayne are two of my dearest friends and they wrote “You Can Do Anything” for Galon.  He is a tough duck and they fight over him all the time saying he is their duck. LOL    La Donna recorded the song in the Tone Slinger Recording Studios, in Nashville, and I am so proud of that song.  I know it was done with all the love in the world and their friendship means the world to me.  Galon has gotten his wings and he has a lot of ground to cover yet in his travels.

For those who do not know his story… Galon’s creation came from two ducks who traveled to my parent’s pond every year.  They would land at the pond and would stay there for several months and then move on.  While I was sitting out there one day I came up with the idea of writing a book about a duck named Galon.  It seemed the things I encountered in life became more stories about Galon.  Galon even broke his wing in one story.  That book was written when I was thrown from a horse and broke my shoulder and wrist.  Galon goes through the same things I did and had the same feelings I was feeling at the time.  He has friends at the pond and he also has friends in the farmer’s barn who come into the stories.

Today I am sitting in my dad’s chair and I am working on editing the second book. I am giving Galon more character and adding to his story of growth as he travels to the city.  He has never been farther than the pond so it is an adventure as he encounters cars,  manikins in store windows, and makes friends with a mouse.

This big leather chair has become part of me and who I am.  I can still picture dad sitting in the chair and at his desk as we walked into the house.  There are so many things going on in the world and it is nice to have a place to go where memories come flooding back about the good times.  My dad’s picture hangs on the wall behind me of him sitting on his horse Red.  The picture was taken when they were rounding up cattle in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  Good times are great memories and sometimes turn into great books.

Have an awesome week!  Travel safe.

Pam

http://www.egbertbooksandpublications.com for information on where to find Galon the Northern Pintail Duck and The Silver Heart.

“You Can Do Anything” LaDonna Brewer-Capps and Barry Wayne.  Vocals by LaDonna Brewer-Capps.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELUY1YiN0Ng

 

 

Making Simple Meals

So many of us struggle with making healthy meals and trying to stay on our diet.  I know I struggle all the time.  I know it didn’t take me a few months to add on the extra weight so I have to change my eating to include eating more times a day and eating less at each meal.  The hard part is when you are cooking for yourself and you just don’t want to get out the skillet or grill and make something.  It is easier to reach for something out of the freezer and throw it into the oven,  ie a pizza.  Diets will take some weight off, but can we continue to eat that way the rest of our life?   I can’t.  I am trying to change my way of eating for the rest of my life.  More healthy eating, less fast food.  🙂

For a long time, I will admit I threw in the pizza or frozen food to eat for a meal.  I also admit at times I will grab a frozen dinner and put it in the microwave.  They are lower in calories but, unfortunately, they are high in sodium.  I keep telling myself I am cutting back on the portion and the calories so it is going to good for me.  Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with eating a frozen dinner every once in a while, just not all the time.

The other day I opened my fridge and I found some bacon and fried all of it up.  I put it in a food saver and placed it back in the fridge.  Earlier I had pulled three pieces out and cut them into smaller bites.  I then reached in and pulled out my romaine lettuce.  (*First Hint: I purchase my romaine lettuce in the stalk, not cut up in a bag.  It seems to keep longer and stay crisp. I also put the stalk I am using in a gallon bag and roll it to get all the air out of the bag when I seal it up. ) Looking for something sweet on my salad, I grabbed three strawberries and sliced them.  Then it was time to think about pulling my salad together so I reached into my refrigerator and grabbed my salad dressing.  I am in love with the Opa Feta Dill Greek Yogurt.  It is thicker than most dressings and is found in the produce section of the grocery.

All of this only took me about 10 minutes to put everything together.  The salad was so good.  During the summertime, we tend to lean towards cooler foods to eat.  Salads are a great way to get your protein and also your vegetables.  You could add some cucumbers to the salad if you would like.  I added the strawberries to give it a little bit of sweetness to kill the craving for an after dinner sweet, which I try not to keep anything in the house that resembles cookies or cakes lol.  Now like everyone I just die for a candy bar or a cookie.  lol

When I grew up we lived on a farm and times were tough.  We ate a lot of meat because we butchered it on the farm.  There was also a jar of jam or jelly on the table at our meals and we were encouraged to make a jelly bread to fill us up more.  Mom always had a sheet cake made and sitting on the counter for us to eat so we weren’t munching on other things.  Every few months my mom would make up breakfast rolls and they could be found rising all over the kitchen.  She would freeze them and pull them out as needed.  So was I raised on a lot of carbs?  Yes!!  But, we worked hard on the farm and we burned off the calories.  It is a new generation and we are more sedate than we were back them.  Time to eat healthier and feel better.

I hope I have given you some inspiration and maybe you will find yourself walking through the grocery and hitting only the aisles around the outside of the store.  Most of the healthier foods.  🙂  Have a great week!!

Pam

 

Salad plate

Independence Day 2017

Yesterday was July 4th, 2017 and over the past few days I listened to a lot of people and sat watching them.  I was raised that July 4th was a day we celebrated our independence, becoming our own country.  As a child, we would go up to the local park about dark and the local American Legion would carry the United States Flag in as they played the Star Spangled Banner over the speaker system.  We would stand and put our right hand over our heart.  I wonder how many people think about this when they get together.  Have you thought about why we shoot off fireworks on July 4th?  Is there a reason the tradition started?

The reason we shoot off fireworks is “because John Adams wanted us to. Before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, he envisioned fireworks as a part of the festivities. In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. The Pennsylvania Evening Post wrote that in Philadelphia, “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” The paper noted that “Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.” That same year, fireworks also lit up the sky in Boston, where they were exhibited by Col. Thomas Crafts over the common. By 1783 a large variety of fireworks were available to the public. In 1784 one merchant offered a range of pyrotechnics that included “rockets, serpents, wheels, table rockets, cherry trees, fountains, and sun flowers.”*

What would the 4th of July be without fireworks?  I know as a child I learned all the ooohhhs and awwws as the big ones exploded in the sky above me.  Our mom would bring along a big blanket and we would sit on the grass and watch the fireworks as they lit up the sky in brilliant colors or a big bang would go off and we would cover our ears.  These are all times we remember and I hope we are teaching our children what the 4th means and why we are celebrating.  It is about all the military who have fought for this country and our ancestors who wanted more for this country than being controlled by another country.  We are a proud nation and we are struggling right now.  It is so easy to forget the important things and make it all about us as an individual.  Each firework going off is a representation of each of us.  A different color, different design, or a different size but we are all Americans who care about this country and will stand up for it with our last breath.

https://www.facebook.com/AnthemLights/

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*Slate website

Kids and Easter

I was bitten by the flu bug the past few weeks, adding in an upper respiratory infection and I was down for the count.  When I finally made a trip into town, I ventured to the Walmart and passed by the Easter section.  I stopped only long enough to make the decision to work on that project another day.  It was my first outing, and the doctor’s instructions were to not tax myself and pay for it later.  LOL, I have learned that was good advice because I did and regretted it.

Today I thought about Easter and the kids. It doesn’t matter how old you are the idea of hunting for Easter eggs around the yard is always fun.  I remember my mom dressing me up in a pretty Spring dress with lots of lace and a hat for Easter Sunrise service at church.  We would come home, and mom would work on Easter dinner while we changed clothes and the eggs suddenly appeared in the yard.  Our Easter bunny came later and dropped off the eggs while we went to church I guess.  We were whisked off to church, so we didn’t have time to check out the yard and see if the Easter bunny stopped at our house.  The eggs always had different kinds of candy in, and we each emptied our eggs into our own bowls.

Now it is my turn to do the egg preparation and egg hiding.  My plan of action is to collect all my change and put some change and a few dollar bills in the eggs before placing them around the yard on Easter morning.  I also purchase a few other things and put special eggs out for each of the grandkids to find, turning them in for bigger gifts.  Sometimes I purchase bubble wands,  ear buds,  hot wheels, or anything else I think would fit the kids.  It makes the hunt even more exciting.

I normally do an Easter basket for each of the kids, but this year I am thinking in other directions.  My oldest grandson is 14, and the youngest is 4.  Lucas would probably like an Easter basket, but now days not many parents put a lot of candy in the Easter baskets and I am sure he won’t be impressed with granola bars lol.  I know as a grandparent I don’t have to do anything, but it is my way of being part of their day and doing something special for them.

What are your ideas for Easter?  Do you have any projects you have done in the past that worked well with your children?  Please share.  Would love to hear them.

Pam Easter-Basket

Everyone Loves a Heart

When I thought about my blog this week, I had several ideas, but only one, because it is relevant to the week of February 14, Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day for many is a day they can share how much they love that someone special and do something they would not normally do for them.  Purchasing roses is a huge deal on February 14, and I have received several dozen roses over the year, and they are absolutely beautiful as a table centerpiece or on your desk.  The stores are packed full of heart designed boxes of candy, Valentine’s Day cards, and other cute ideas.

Valentine’s Day isn’t about going out and purchasing roses or a box of candy for some of us.  Just doing something special and unique means more than a dozen roses.  Now if that means you get your wife an oil change for the car you are destined to spend the night on the couch, but finding a special card and taking her to her favorite restaurant, not yours, is sure to make her smile.

Over the years I have accumulated several nice pieces of heart jewelry I just love.  I had several necklaces and rings given to me many years ago.  I was given a silver heart watch that means the world to me.  I still have it, and it wasn’t given to me on February 14, but on a day I will never forget.  I love that watch and the love that was behind the gift.

When I wrote The Silver Heart, it actually came after seeing a heart necklace at the Ohio State Fair that I fell in love with.  I bought it, and it was incorporated into the story.  I would reach up at times and feel the heart when I was working on the book, which was also written into the story of the book.  Montana Silversmiths had a necklace which was perfect for the cover of the book and for my character.  I have heard from so many people who have purchased the necklace, and they love it.  For my Christmas present, my son and daughter-in-law gave me the silver hearts bracelet, and I love it.  It goes with my heart necklace, and I will think of them everytime I wear it.

Valentine’s Day is not about spending money you don’t have.  Some of my fondest memories are of the cards the kids made me out of construction paper and lace doilies in Sunday school or at school.  A single rose can mean so much if presented with a kiss and hug to follow.  Nothing is worst that “here you go, honey, I am headed out to the barn.”  Stop, take a breath and spend some time showing you mean the gesture you are making.  It isn’t always about the dollar amount spent as much as the feelings behind the action.  Nothing is better than curling up watching your favorite movie with some champagne and strawberries on the bed.  Quality time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  I know it is not for everyone, but for those of you who love the idea of Valentine’s Day, do something special for your loved one.  Personalize your present this year.  Think about who the person is and what they love to do.  Make this a Valentine’s Day they will remember forever.

Samantha Sheridan

 

Pick up a copy of The Silver Heart book on any online bookstore or go to http://www.egbertbooksandpublications.com for more information.

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Going from Self Publishing to Publishing Company

Today there are fewer and fewer publishing companies who give you an advance, for your book, and you then write the book, turning in chapters set up by the publisher. The movies show that, but normally a publisher does not work that way for a first-time author. They want a copy of your manuscript to see the quality of your work.  More and more authors are self-publishing their own books and marketing them through companies like BookBaby for this reason.  This is an easy way to publish your book and have it sold on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Advantages to self-publishings:  You make more money, and the money goes into your pocket.  When you self-publish you end up with 100 percent of the eBook sales. Bookbaby does not take any commission from the eBooks.  You also make more money if your sales come from your Book Store on Bookbaby.com.  Spreading the word about your book on social media sites, LinkedIn, etc. helps to bring more readers to your book.

The only negative to self-publishing through sites like Bookbaby is you have no control over distribution.  If your book takes off and sales go sky high, the book sites will run out of books.  They only order so many books, and this could hinder your sales.  You have no control over the number of books being sent from the distribution center to the bookstores online.  They also do not have any control over a book physically hitting the book shelves in the box stores.  Publishing companies have the links to the box stores to get your book on the shelf, in view of the consumer.

Do you need your book in the physical big box stores?  There are a lot of people who are now consumers of places like Amazon, and they have the Prime account to get their goods in two days.  Does that make it easier for them to order?  The only thing you are missing in your sales is the impulse buyer.  How many people walk into a store and look for a book to purchase?

According to Publishers Weekly, “According to the “2010–2011 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review,” only 11% of book buyers who bought a book online said they did so as an impulse purchase, while 44% said the book they bought online was the one they intended to buy. The results were significantly different at physical bookstores, where the ability to browse through the shelves resulted in 26% of book buyers saying they bought a book on impulse, compared to 28% who bought the specific book they had intended to buy. Browsing also helped buyers choose a title, with 30% of shoppers at stores reporting that they bought a book that they had not planned on buying compared to only 17% of online shoppers.”

Self-publishing means you cover all the cost of the book.  No matter how good of writer you are, you NEED a good editor.  One very wise person once told me you never edit your own work.  How many times have your read something you have written and your mind reads what it is supposed to say, not what is typed on the page?  If you publish a book, you do not want to have grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Depending on the expertise of the editor and the length of the book this could cost you a few thousand of dollars.  In the end, it is a great investment.  Do you want a book review that tears your book apart because of writing errors?  As an author you want your book to stand up to the best of them.  Who doesn’t want their book on the New York Post Top 10 list?

Another cost is the book cover.  You will pay several hundred dollars to have your book cover produced.  The book printer needs high-quality graphics, and they need the book cover done printer ready.   If you only want to put your book on eBooks, you can list the book through Amazon for a very low cost.  The cost to go through BookBaby is again going to cost you a little bit of money.

I am in no way discouraging you from self-publishing your book.  I am so glad I didn’t start my book with a publisher.  Since I began my book project, I have learned so much.  Understanding what the publisher goes through helps with negotiating a contract with them.  If you start out self-publishing, you have more control over what the book cover design looks like and how the book is put together, from the front page to the acknowledgments/author biography.  My goals were to prepare you for the steps to publish your book.

The Silver Heart is my baby.  I have believed in the book since the last word was put on the page.  I was offered a deal with Harlequin, but they wanted me to split the book into two books, creating a sequel.  This idea just didn’t feel right for me.  I put the book in a file drawer and let it sit,  I knew one day I would pull the book out and work on it again, and I did,

Enjoy writing and never forget to have fun with it.  When it becomes work you tend to put it away.  Make every day an adventure and smile as you follow your dreams.

samantha-and-pete-signed-book