November 2011

I’m nowhere near ready for the Christmas season but I wanted to share with you a fun new children’s story; The Christmas Village by Melissa Goodwin. The author jokingly refers to it as It’s a Wonderful Life meets Back to the Future and she isn’t far off…

The Christmas Village is the story of Jaime, a 12 year old boy whose father recently left. Jaime is having difficulty dealing with all the changes and, while at his grandmother’s house, begins wishing he could live somewhere peaceful and safe…like his grandmother’s miniature Christmas Village.

Poof! One night Jaime gets his wish magically transports into the little village, but things are not always as they appear…there is danger in the town of Canterbury. It’s a winter adventure as Jaime tries to help his friends and find a way home.

This is a warm, cozy read reflecting the importance of friends and family, trust, forgiveness, and gratitude. Great for ages 8 and up (I read it twice!). I love the book trailer, which I’ve pasted below for your enjoyment. I also had the opportunity to interview the author, Melissa Ann Goodwin, who is touring this week with WOW! You can read the interview and follow the tour schedule here.

Melissa Ann Goodwin is a native New Englander, now living in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, artist J. Richard Secor. She has written extensively for Fun for Kidz, Boys’ Quest and Hopscotch for Girls. She was a regular feature article contributor to the Caregiver’s Home Companion for more than five years. Her work has appeared in Guideposts’ Angels on Earth, Caregivers’ Home Companion, Caring Today, The Lutheran Digest, The Peak Magazine, The Andover Townsman, and the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette. Her poetry took 10th prize in The Writer’s Digest 2010 annual competition. The Christmas Village is her first novel.

Author’s Websites:

Melissa Ann Goodwin

The Christmas Village

The last months of the calendar year offer us many joys; snow days, winter sports, and crackling fires to name a few. The cooler, cleaner air is refreshing, but it is also hard on the skin.

Dry, winter skin needs extra attention—a new regimen. One of the best ways I know to keep my skin from becoming dry is to apply a bath and body oil before stepping out of the shower. Many over the counter brands contain ingredients that are not helpful for the skin—they just fill the bottle. So I decided to share with you a recipe for making you own body oil. By the way, men can use this too—and it makes a great gift!

What you will need:

A dark-colored bottle, either blue or amber, usually purchased at a natural products store. The dark glass keeps out the light. You may re-use a small bottle already on hand; simply wash well and sterilize.

Sweet Almond Oil–contains vitamins, minerals, protein and sooths the itchy sensation.
Carrot Seed Oil (optional)—reaches the deeper skin layers (also safe to use on face)

Look for organic, first press or virgin oils.

Essential Oils:

Lavender—healing and antibacterial properties
German Chamomile—soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties
Rose—soothing and has antiseptic properties

Ginger (optional)—good for circulation because it draws blood to area
Benzoin (optional)—good for circulation, heals wounds, and sooths eczema

If you choose to add the optional oils I suggest using either one or the other but not both. Not only is it unnecessary to use both but you may not like the way they smell together.

Lavender and Chamomile are safe for children over 12 and elderly. Their use on small children requires a very dilute mixture. If your small child has dry skin I suggest the baby product line from Burt’s Bees. (If pregnant or nursing, consult with your health care professional before using essential oils.)

Look for good quality essential oils such as Aura Cacia.

Here is the basic recipe; you may adjust the ingredients according to the size of your bottle. Most bottles have the size stamped on the bottom. For conversion, there are 5ml to 1 teaspoon and 15ml to one tablespoon.

Your Base:
Carrier Oil= 90% Sweet Almond to 10% Carrot Seed

Essential Oils:
Up to 1 drop per ml of carrier oil
In other words, for 1 tablespoon of oil you may have up to 15 drops of essential oil. More is not necessarily better, though, when it comes to essential oils so use a light hand.

For each tablespoon of oil I suggest starting with:
3-4 drops Lavender
3-4 drops German Chamomile
2 drops Rose
1 drop either Ginger or Benzoin (optional)

  • Begin with dropping the essential oils into your bottle. Replace the cap and roll the bottle between the palms of your hands to mix.
  • Turn the bottle upside down once, then back upright.
  • Add your carrier oils to this bottle.Replace the cap and blend again in the same way.

I suggest beginning with one small test batch; you may decide to increase or reduce the ingredients to suit your own skin (and nose).

To use:
After shower, massage into wet skin to seal in moisture. May also be added to bath water for soaking.

Store all oils in a cool, dark place such as a cabinet
Use your body oil mixture within 30 days (before the carrier oil turns rancid)

Have you ever just had a string of bad luck?

It all started a few months ago when the washer and dryer broke. The dryer had been limping along for a while but when the washer gave up I decided it was time for a new set; little did I know that this was just the beginning…

The fountain in the garden stopped pumping and then the pump in the hot tub did too.

Before we could get to those problems the refrigerator died. We spent two nights trying to repair it before accepting that we needed to replace it.

Meanwhile, the handle broke off the screen door.

Lowe’s delivered a new refrigerator—they removed the front door just to get it in. I had purchased an unused-yet-rebuilt model, silly me. The fridge was in place and the front door reattached and…no worky-worky. Off came the front door and out went the new fridge.

I threw out some food and bought ice for the Igloo.

Two days later the new fridge came. Off we went to buy some food and the handle broke off the only working door on the truck—stuck in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s.

Things were just beginning to get back to normal when the computer got hacked; some creepy person took out the hard drive, we couldn’t even fully erase it.

By this time funds were getting pretty low so we decided to fix the hot tub and put it up for sale. It’s fixed, it’s clean, and it’s working! We list it. That night a horrendous wind storm comes through and completely rips apart one corner of the cover.

Spa corner

What’s a girl to do?

Happy Doodle rlc


           Talk to your favorite plant. Sweet Potato rlc

Light a candle and have some tea.

Above all, keep your sense of humor; it’s the balm of life.

The results are in for the winner of our Ponder Autumn Poetry contest. Even in this small contest choosing the winner was difficult.

Entries were judged by the following rules stated in the contest rules on October 15th:

So, here is my autumn call to all of you Poes, Thoreaus, Rumis, and Suesses to pen an ode to the season. Bring out the ghouls, the gourds, and the golden-hued leaves—whatever you fancy the season is up to you, just keep it family-readable. What’s the trick? Only one writer will win the treat.

Cast a spell over our judges with your originality, expression, and technical mastery. Although they will consider the pleas of the people, in the end the judges alone will decide your fate.

Limit is 100 words.

And the winner is…Until October by J.C. Nierad! Autumn Contest prize

Congratulations, J.C., you win the jewels.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Ponder Autumn contest; it was so much fun to read all of the wonderful entries.

It was suggested that I host another contest for the upcoming holidays–I haven’t decided yet but if I do it will be something different.

Wishing everyone a beautiful week!