Monday, August 31, 2015


Last evening I received a call from my nine-year-old granddaughter, Brenna. She's been in school for a week and a half now and had lots to tell me. We talked about who was in her class, who her teacher was, and what was her favorite subject so far. A number of her friends were in the same fourth grade section, her teacher is the same one her brother had, and she likes IM best of all.

"What was IM, I asked?" 

"Instrumental music," she explained in a way that somehow I should have known that."

"Why IM?"

"Because it's fun!"

"What's fun about it?"

"Grammy, when the instructor shows me how to play a note on my trumpet, and then tells me to do the same, I do it but it comes out like a sick elephant's painful moan!" 

"So what's fun about that?"

"It's so funny, that's what! Brenna says as she laughs hysterically.

Kids, you gotta love em!

Somehow we got on the subject of lockdown drills. With all the shootings that have occurred in schools over the past ten years, these type of practices are mandatory now.

"What exactly do you do during these drills?" I asked.

"If the gunman is in our area, the teacher locks the door and tells us to hide in a closet, or use our desks as a shield. We're supposed to grab things we can throw at him if he should get in and be ready to run out if a pathway becomes available."

"And if he's not in your area?"

"Then we are supposed to follow the teacher to the nearest exit and run away from the school as fast and as far away as we can."

"The thing that bothers me the most, Grammy, is that we never know when these drills are going to happen and if they're real or just practice. That makes me so nervous I almost want to cry."

"I'm so sad you have to go through that, honey, but it's better to be safe than sorry," I said.

"Grammy, who does that anyway? Why would somebody want to come into a school and shoot kids he doesn't even know? If he's so miserable, why doesn't he just shoot himself and leave us alone?"

"I don't have the answers to your questions, Brenna, but this is what I think. He probably is so angry he can't think straight. He's in a lot of pain so he wants to inflict pain on others. Going after children assures him he can succeed because they are the most vulnerable. People with his type of problems are usually cowards, and wouldn't target grown-ups for fear of retaliation. Funny thing though, most who commit these horrific crimes take their own lives afterwards."

Again Brenna lamented, "Who does that, Grammy?"

I wish I knew how to answer her mournful query, but I don't have a clue. The fact of the matter is anyone can become the shooter of innocent people. The variables that drive a person to act in such a terrible manner are countless. The ones that immediately come to mind are severe depression, being constantly bullied, being antisocial and a loner, seeking a thrill, being high on drugs, and the reasons go on and on. Yet there are those who plan and execute  murder without justification that are described as great folks who have never shown any of the signs I've enumerated, but have been described as pillars of the community, helpful to their neighbors, church people, volunteers in all sorts of needy programs, and just your everyday nice guys who wouldn't hurt a flea.

"I don't know who does that, Brenna. If they could be identified before committing their ugly deeds, many unneccesary and hurtful instances could and would be averted. Unfortunately at this time I can only pray that you and all children are never put in such a situation, yet if you are, thank God the schools are being proactive in reducing the number of casualties by conducting lockdown drills.

Being anxious actually is a good thing, it keeps you on your toes and ready to fight if you must, and take flight if you can!

Monday, August 24, 2015


I know all of you have been awaiting this post for a while now, but summer has a way of taking me off course. A few weeks back my hubby and I enjoyed a hectic vacation at Pawley's Island, N.C. with our daughter, Kristy and her family. What a gorgeous place to kick back and build sand alligators, hop the waves, or in my case, get slapped around by them, swim in three different pools, eat at some of the finest bar and grills in the South, play Uno and lose three times, chase the youngest around the condo trying to get him to poop on the potty, and finally dropping onto the bed after 16 hrs. of complete madness for a well-earned rest, but instead being awaken at two in the morning by the pounding footsteps or noisy voices from the family above us. Truly a vacation to remember!

                                                             MY BABA'S FAVORITE FRIDAY RECIPES

Being Catholic in the Fifties meant 'what's for dinner?' was never in question, the answer was always FISH. Beer-Battered Cod was fast and easy. Baba scooped some flour into a bowl, added baking powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Next she’d beat an egg and pour a cup of pilsner beer into the mix. Once the consistency met her approval, Baba combined all the ingredients to form a creamy batter.After filling her cast iron skillet with lard, Baba turned on the burner and waited until the oil was hot enough. When Baba was certain the specific temperature was reached, she’d flick a few drops of water into the skillet. If the droplets skidded across the surface, she knew she could begin frying the fish. Baba dipped each piece into the batter, held it high to allow the excess to drip off, then carefully lowered it into the skillet. She always knew when to turn the fish over. Her internal clock had been set since she began cooking meals in her mother’s home. After all the pieces were done, she’d place them on a towel to drain, set them in a pan and put in the oven to keep warm until dinner.

Czech Pivo-Mlátil Treska
   (Beer-Battered Cod)

(potato pancakes)

Because potato pancakes were always in demand,Baba made  sure she grated enough potatoes  to have left-overs. She  then cracked  and  egg or two into a bowl and whisked  them with a fork. She’d add  flour to the eggs by the handful, and sprinkle in a pinch of salt and pepper. Although many recipes called for onions in this dish, my grandmother never included them in her pan-cakes. After stirring everything together, if the consis-tency was too watery, Baba continued to increase the flour  until she thought it looked right. That’s the way Baba cooked, by handfuls, pinches, and appearance.
While the potato mixture rested, Baba covered the bottom of her electric fry pan with cooking oil and set it to the correct temperature. She’d then drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot grease. When bubbles began forming on the edges of each one, Baba turned them on the other side for just a minute or two. She’d then remove the pancakes, place them in a pan and pop them in the oven to keep warm.


                                                                 (Bubbly Cake)       

Although any type of fruit could be used when making Bubbly Cake, my grandmother preferred using blueberries. She’d rinse them under the spigot, place the fruit in a bowl, and mix a little flour in with them.

Her next step was to combine the wet ingredients together. Baba poured milk into her mixing bowl and a bit of vegetable oil. Before adding the eggs, she needed to separate them. My grandmother’s technique in doing so was awesome. She’d take each egg, crack it on the edge of the bowl, and with one hand, open it, drain the egg whites, and drop the yolk into the milk and oil.  I’ve tried to replicate her method, but have never been able to master it.

In another bowl, Baba mixed the dry ingredients. She’d then add the milk mixture little by little and continue beating until a creamy batter was formed. Next Baba beat the egg whites until they formed stiff peaks and gently folded them in.  Baba greased a nine by eleven pan, poured the batter in, gently placed the fruit on top, set the oven on 375 and let it bake for thirty minutes. When cooled, she’d sprinkle it with powdered sugar.  So simple, a kid could do it!


PLAYING HOOKY (When We Were Kids, Bk. 1) is the first chapter book of this series. I originally wrote it for tweens and teens. However, because it takes place in the Fifties, I soon discovered that the baby boomers, folks born 1941-1944, are just as enamored with the story as the kids. Playing Hooky takes people back to their own childhood, which makes them able to identify with Betty Lou and Danny Kolinski on so ma
ny levels.


 (When We Were Kids, BK.1)

When Frank Kolinski was fatally injured in the mill, Mary, his wife, and his two children were left to fend for themselves. Baba, Zedo, and Uncle Tom encircled the little family with their love and support. Living in Baba’s house, gave her daughter comfort and assistance in raising her children, and for Betty Lou and Danny, these three people became their pillars of strength and source of wisdom and understanding.       

hope you will try some of Baba’s favorite Friday recipes. As a family we looked forward to every meal because we knew how much love and caring went into the preparation. We were never served anything that came out of a box or can. With Zedo seated at the head, we respectfully gathered around Baba’s kitchen table to share blessings, food, and conversation. We cherished this time together and were excused only when our plates were emptied and our stomachs, full.
I also hope you get a chance to read Playing Hooky and the following three books in the series, Puppy Love, Pimples and Periods, and Promises. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.  

Monday, August 17, 2015


In 2012 at the ripe old age of 68 I gave birth. Miracle? Not really because instead of a boy or a girl, I presented the world with my first children's book. Since that June, I've written six more tales for ages 3-7, and four chapter books for tweens/teens. Eleven newborns in three years! I guess you could say I have a very fertile imagination!

I consider my works to be honest, factual, and funny. Every one of them is framed and mounted in our family room right up there with all the grandchildren.  Each has been a labor of love. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to my pride and joy:

Ages 3-7


A whimzical tale of a boy who can't understand why he must get his hair cut and puts up a fuss when in the barber's chair. However when the deed is finally done, when he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he decides the monthly ritual isn't as bad as he once thought. A big red lollipop is another reward he can certainly appreciate!


A dirty kid is a happy kid! Liam loves to play in the mud, chew bubble gum, scribble with markers, and do all the things boys do that make their moms wish they were pretty, prissy girls! No matter how hard she tries, this mother cannot clean up her son's act!

3. CALLING ALL GRAMMIES  A Christmas Tale of Friendship

Santa is in big trouble now. His sleigh is busted and Christmas might have to be canceled this year. But after he makes a call to his dear friend, Grammy, her plan just might change everything. Grammy emails her pals from all over the world, and together they work hard to make all the children's dreams come true!


How can a baby be in mommy's belly? How did it get there? Why is mommy getting so fat? What is jumping around inside mommy? Why is there a puddle of water under mommy? These are just a few of the questions her younger son wants answers to but nobody seems to be able to help, not dad, not big brother. Is there really a baby in mommy's belly? You'll have to read this hilarious tale and see!


Two boys have been friends since birth. Ty-Ty is white and Thomas is black, but color never crosses their minds. The only thing these buddies want is to have fun in the sun, tease Thomas's sister, and enjoy mama's soup and sweet potato pie. They plan to be pals forever!


Grammy's grandson can't image life without her. Where would she go? How would she get there? What would she do there? Would she have her favorite things to eat? Would he ever hear her sweet voice again? Sadness and anger fill his soul until mom explains that Grammy will be with him, always and forever!


The new baby in the family is a mover and a shaker! After tricking dad to think he was asleep, this bundle of energy rolls out of the house and into the world of fun and excitement. He rides a bike,plays basketball, and meets new friends. When trying to climb a giant try, baby finds himself waking up in his crib. Did he really do all those things or was he dreaming? What do you think?

Chapter books for tweens/teens


In this story, readers are introduced to Betty Lou and Danny Kolinski for the first time. Growing up in the Fifties without their father, Frank is difficult for the sister and brother team. They attend parochial school, play hooky, and revel in their freedom until faced with a band of rock-throwing bullies. Danny is seriously injured, and although Betty Lou confronts his attackers, she is ridiculed and sent away without resolve. The girl must face the horrible truth that she alone is responsible for the harm that has come to her brother. While waiting for her mother and Danny to return from the emergency room, Betty Lou realizes that her anger towards the bullies is rooted in the rage she harbors because of her dad's death. She's mad at God, mad at the doctors for not saving him, mad at the world, but mostly mad at herself because somehow she believes she is responsible for his passing as well.


In the second book of the series, Danny experiences his first crush on Emily Salay, a classmate at St. Michael's Parochial School, who captured his heart during the summer of 1953. At the start of the school year though, Danny grows anxious when his buddies see him in Emily's company. How does he handle this dilemma? Not very well, to say the least.

Betty Lou is involved in puppy love for the first time, too. The nine-old isn't really sure she can handle the rollercoaster ride of emotions she and Bobby have embarked on. Only when her Baba tells Lou the story of Millie, her childhood pet, does Betty Lou finally understand the real meaning of this unsettling yet strangely wonderful experience.


Dealing with ugly zits, school bullies, and a three-day suspension leaves  Danny Kolinski sad and angry. His younger sister, Betty Lou, has her own problems. Most of her seventh grade friends are wearing bras, but she remains flat-chested. To compensate for her delayed development ,Lou takes unusual measures to make herself look and feel better. 

One day, while her daughter is standing in her underwear before the full-length mirror in their bedroom inspecting her body, Mary accidentally walks in.  Betty Lou flies into a rage, telling her mom she's totally mortified, and insists on privacy from now on. After allowing some time to pass, Mary sits beside her tween and explains what happens when girls and boys begin going through puberty. She not only discusses the physical changes, but emphasizes the emotional and social turmoil that both Lou and Danny will be experiencing over the next few years. Mother and daughter come to an understanding that during this difficult time in one's development, it is extremely important that they keep an open dialogue while taking this journey together.


When Betty Lou Kolinski decides to attend high school away from home, her family adamantly objects. But ever since she learned to read, Lou's dream has been to become a famous author, and going to Vincentian Academy promise her the chance to achieve her goal.

Danny, now sixteen, meets a dark-haired beauty, and invites her out for a soda. To his surprise, Marion accepts and the teenager is walking on air. Though life promises good things ahead for him, Danny soon loses his job and is badly beaten by town bullies.

Some promises are meant to be kept, and some promises should never be made. Find out whether or not Betty Lou and Danny choose wisely where promises are concerned.

I would be terribly remiss not to acknowledge the midwives (illustrators) that contributed their amazing talents to the births of my eleven beautiful stories. Derek Bacon did the covers and interior pages for the first five children's books. When he could no longer work on my projects, Abira Das took over to lend her expertise to books six and seven. Elliott Beavan designed the covers of the first three chapter books, and again, Abira willingly accepted the job posting for PROMISES. These three illustrators are among the best in the business. I contracted them by going to the website, If you're ever in need of professionals who illustrate, edit, format, or anything else related to publication, Upwork is the place to go!

As does any proud mother, I, too, love showing off my offsprings any time I get the opportunity in pictures and prose. After all, they truly are my pride and joy!