Aileen Stewart's Blog

June 26, 2017

Bringing the Outside In is the title of the book I read for this post, and it really summed up my week. Bringing the Outside In is the story of children during each season enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer and then accidentally tracking bits of the outside in. Along the way, pictures of all the beautiful moments were taken keeping the outside in, and later, they are brought out again.


This book particularly touched me because one of my many passions is taking photographs of all the beautiful memories my family and I make. And this weekend, we made lots of memories at my brother's country home. There was a little target practice and some crazy cousins posing.



And some chicken watching.




And some humming bird watching.





And some Fishing.








And no day in the country is complete until you sit in front of the bonfire and make smores.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on June 26, 2017 00:00 • 1 view

June 19, 2017

When I was growing up I often heard the statement "As American As Baseball and Apple Pie." So it was exciting when we found out we had won four tickets to a Mud Hens' game this past week through the Northern Ohio Scholarship Fund. Bobby isn't that fond of sports, so Emily, her bestie Rachel, my sister, and I headed out for some all American summer fun!

The NOSF not only offered us tickets, but we were invited to share in a buffet which featured the most interesting cake for dessert that I have ever eaten. It turned out to be a sheet cake that was a yeast doughnut that had been frosted. The girls posed with the team mascots Muddy and Mudonna. And Rachel even ended up with a pop fly game ball.






The rest of our week included other all American past times like swimming, attending Farmers' Market where our friend Katie was a jr. chef for the day, and baking. I attempted my first ever loaf of Italian bread which I sliced, topped with home made garlic spread, and melted slices of mozzarella. The beautiful thing about America is that even Italian bread can be an American experience since our country is such a melting pot of people and cultures.



And of course, I read. I read Lottie's New Beach Towel which is a fun story of how Lottie the chicken makes great and multiple use of a beach towel her aunt sent her. The illustrations are done in little blocks with most pages having two blocks that help tell the story beautifully. This book was published some time back, but it is definitely worth checking to see if your local library has a copy. Or you can find a used copy online.


I also read Surfer Chick which is a totally awesome and gnarly surfer rhyming book about a chick who learns to surf from her amazing surfer dad. Definitely a fun read. I'm not sure how I ended up with two chicken books where the characters were at the beach, but there you have it.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on June 19, 2017 00:00 • 3 views

June 12, 2017

This past Saturday was opening day of the Farmers' Market that I manage. The weather was fine, I had seed packets to hand out to the children that attended, and it was great to see my veteran vendors and to meet new ones as well.

Despite being early in the gardening season here in Ohio, there was some spectacular looking butter crunch lettuce, an abundance of strawberries, lots of baked goods, and wonderful hand crafted items.



Emily set up beside me and sold lots of bottle cap and Perler bead magnets. Her friend Katie sold magnets of her own. And two local ladies played their dulcimers for our entertainment.


And wouldn't you know, when I went to the library for a new stack of books, I just happened to find a gem called Farmers' Market Day by fellow Ohio author Shanda Trent. The end pages are covered with beautiful pictures of vegetables, the illustrations are bright and eye catching, and the story tells of a little girl's day at the market and all the items she sees there. Her excitement is exactly what I feel each time I walk the rows and greet my vendors and customers.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on June 12, 2017 00:00 • 3 views

June 5, 2017

Emily finished school and summer has officially begun for the Stewart family. This past week, we celebrated the beginning of our summer break by taking our annual family vacation. And I think there is a rule somewhere that says if you drive through Utica, Ohio, you have to stop at Ye Old Mill and get some Velvet Ice-cream. If not, there should be!


 


This particular trip was the first time in ten years that my mother wasn't part of the group, but as I sat by the fire admiring the view of the lake, I knew she would have loved the place I chose. Maybe she  even looked down upon us smiling at the grand kids.





 

Seeing as this was our first stay at the Lakehouse nestled on the edge of Burr Oak Lake, we weren't sure what to expect, but the scenery was outstanding, the wildlife abundant, the house extremely well maintained, well stocked, and it had more then adequate seating everywhere imaginable.





 
But the fun didn't stop there because on our way home we stopped at the Hocking Hills Flea Market where Emily sat in a big chair, where we bought the most delicious kettle corn, and where we found some bargains on mini antique bottles.


And despite all this busyness, I still managed to read a fun picture book called Duck on a Bike which is the tale of how Duck inspired all the farm animals to go for a ride with none of the humans any the wiser. Definitely a book worth looking for. There is even a version with an audio cd available.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


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Published on June 05, 2017 00:00 • 4 views

May 29, 2017

I can't believe how much has happened in the last four days. This past Thursday, I hosted a Farmers' Market meeting at my local library to update my vendors on what will be happening this year; and while I was there, the library director asked me to fill the vacancy on the Board of Trustees. So now I am a trustee member and will meet with the other trustees once a month to determine library policy and other library business. I also switched out the children's display to get ready for the Summer Reading Program. This year's theme is Building A Better World.



Next I took Emily to a round of parties. The first was an end of school party where the girls played tag and made fancy candle jars. The second was a bowling birthday party.



And finally, I spent a day and a half preparing for a family get-together with my husbands relatives. It's been quite a while since all twenty-two of us have been able to get together in one place for something other than a funeral, so it was nice.


 

"But did I read any books," you ask? Of course. I managed to read two books this weekend. First, I read a book about finding books at the library called We're Going On A Book Hunt. Totally appropriate for a library volunteer and Board of Trustees member, and a fun read for kids four to eight as they watch a class of bears take a trip to the library in search of the just right reads!


The second book I read was called Fox and Fluff and was an adorable tale of family. This story of a Fox who accidentally adopts a small chick shows that family doesn't always have to mean the people you are born too, but can mean the people you come to love. This book is a bit older (2002), but I would definitely check to see if your local library has a copy.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.




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Published on May 29, 2017 03:03 • 5 views

May 22, 2017

This past week was Emily's final day and there was an award ceremony at the school that we do our independent studies through. As is customary, each year as the sixth graders leave elementary behind for jr. high, the teachers choose a student of the year for each category they attend on their bi/monthly Fridays. This year, Emily won Art Student of the Year. She also won a superior ribbon for her poetry entry in the ACSI Writing Contest. Needless to say, that girl makes me smile.



I wasn't able to stay for the Field Day after as I normally do, because I had to leave for New York and the Millbrook Literary Festival. The event was a bit on the slow side and I didn't sell much, but I had a fabulous time catching up with my good friends the Mojicas. Victor writes and illustrates his own works as well as illustrating for Barbara who writes a history series. Together they make a formidable team. There latest collaboration is their book about Ford's Theater.



I also met and chatted with some Face Book friends I hadn't personally met yet. There was the oh so kind and charming Susanna Leonard Hill, author and host of writing contests and her table mate the fantastic Nancy Furstinger. I also made some new friends like the talented Karen Kaufman Orloff and the talented illustator/author Isabelle Garbani whos book, The Secret Elephant, is too, too funny. And I was delighted to be sandwiched between the eloquent David Cundy and the charismatic David Neilsen. David Neilsen charmingly shared with me the back story of how Chris Grabenstein helped him get published. So if his work is good enough to be promoted by Chris, I'm pretty sure you want to check it out. Just listening to the spiel, for his soon to be released book, made me wish I had more time to read chapter books.

Nancy, Me, and Susanna




Me and Karen




Isabelle Garbani
David Neilsen

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on May 22, 2017 00:00 • 7 views

May 15, 2017

This past week I celebrated both my birthday and Mother's Day. During art lessons with Emily we made our own printing blocks out of Styrofoam plates cut down. She made two prints on card stock and unbeknownst to me she turned one into a birthday card. The other she made into a Mother's Day Card for her MaMaw.


This was a super easy art and craft project and if  you want to make your own all you need are a few foam plates, scissors, a pencil, some poster paint, a foam roller, and card stock. Cut the plates into squares and draw a design of your choice with pencil into the foam. Roll the paint gently over the foam block and carefully press down on card paper.





I also continued drywall work in the basement. I got all the corners taped and mudded and all the ceiling seams taped and mudded as well. After a particularly long day of sanding and mudding, I went up to take a shower and wash the drywall compound dust off of my face and out of my hair, and I found all three of our lazy cats on my bed. If only I could teach them to work with me in the basement (sigh).


 So all the celebrating and art this week made me grab for some books out of  my pile about artists. The first book I read was called Remy and Lulu. It was the story of LuLu the dog and her new found friend Remy the painter. They become the rage of Paris until Remy receives new spectacles and loses his passion to paint. Fortunately Remy and LuLu's friendship helps them to survive the bumps along the way, and in the end, they make spectacular art and a new friend.


The second book I read, Radiant Child, was the true life story of artist Jean Michel Basquiat. Against all odds, and despite some hardships, Jean Michel never lost his desire to become a famous artist, a feat which he eventually accomplished. Inspired by his mother who drew with him on the floor when he was young, Jean Michel is the ultimate picture of following your passion and never giving  up. Unfortunately, Jean Michel struggled with drug addiction and passed away at a very  young age. But Javaka Steptoe keeps his memory alive in this colorful picture book.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


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Published on May 15, 2017 00:00 • 3 views

May 8, 2017

May is a beautiful month, and I'm not just saying that because I was born in May. May is when Bobby starts searching for and planting wonderful things in our vegetable garden. May means school is almost over. And May means lots of wildlife activity in our yard.

Sunday morning I woke up early before anyone else in the house; and when I opened the living room blind, I saw two baby bunnies snuggled together near my flower bed.

 
Sunday afternoon, Bobby and Emily took me out to lunch for an early birthday treat. We went to Applebee's, and I used my Christmas gift cards. I usually style my hair in braids when I go out and was pleasantly surprised when Emily came down sporting braids as well.


And Sunday evening when I sat down to write this post, I remembered the great book bargain Emily and I found at the thrift store recently. We found the first five hardback Nancy Drew books. Emily is a great lover of mysteries and has loved Nancy Drew ever since her aunt gave her two Nancy Drew paper backs last year. Nancy Drew books are the kind that never go out of style. She has read the first one already, so I'm going to keep my eyes pealed for books 6 through 12.

 




And while I normally don't read anything but children's books for time reasons, I did start reading A Good Creek Christmas (Kindle Version) written by my friend Virginia Smith. I'm only three chapters in, but the story is definitely pulling me in. With a myriad of interesting characters and descriptions that really create mental pictures, Virginia has created a top notch cozy mystery that I can't wait to finish. And like me, Virginia has a love of baking and has included a great recipe.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on May 08, 2017 00:00 • 6 views

May 1, 2017

My four days in Kentucky and at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival every year makes such an impression on me that it takes two posts to share everything I want to share! Last week I shared Emily's book choices, pictures of what she and her father did while they waited for me, and some pictures of my friends and me. This week I thought I'd share a little bit of behind the scenes.

First of all, if you arrive on Thursday, as I do, for Children's Day on Friday, the local book club hosts an author salon at a private home. There is a beautiful hors devour spread, and a story request. This year's request was for a short story about an author or illustrator living or dead.



For some reason, there was a glitch and I didn't receive my request information, so I had to think of a story on the fly. Thankfully, I was sitting my my friend Mark who is one of the most awesome illustrators I know as well as a new Middle Grade author. I had a story to tell about the year when a little girl at the festival yanked her friend to my table exclaiming, "Here she is. She's the best drawer ever."

To fully understand this, you have to know that my drawing skills are barely above stick person compared to Mark's; and of course, he was sketching away brilliantly at the end of the aisle. But, the farm animal I had drawn for the girl apparently made an impact that I could never have imagined. Despite this coo, I heartily encourage you to check out the books Mark has illustrated and the ones he's written. Here are just a few I've read!




Friday evening, after the Children's Day event is complete, there is an author reception. This is where the public and authors mingle and they announce the winner of the Kentucky Book Award. This is an event I adore because there isn't much time to mingle with friends when you're signing books. This is where I hang with some of the coolest people I know and where I am introduced to authors I don't know yet, but people I will probably come to love.

Lois Sephaban, me, and bestie Lori A. Moore
Bestie Mark Wayne Adams, bestie Virginia (Ginny) Smith,
and the handsome Ray Peden
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on May 01, 2017 00:00 • 5 views

April 24, 2017

If you can only attend one book festival in your life, the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green, KY is the one to shoot for. I have participated in this festival five times in the past seven years, and I must say I always leave feeling thoroughly satisfied. The festival organizers, volunteers, and Barnes and Noble staff all recognize me now and show such southern hospitality it should be bottled and sold!



It's also my opportunity to connect with my favorite author and illustrator friends and to make new friends.

Silly Selfie with Bestie Lori A. Moore!

Long time friend, silly guy, and mathematician Bruce Kessler!

Long time friend Middle Grade Author Gail Nall hijacking
R.L. Stine's name tag!

Brooks Benjamin fabulous teacher of important things
 and Middle Grade author!

Bestie Debbie Dadey famous author of
The Baily School Kids and Mermaid Tales!

Longtime friend Middle Grade author Kristin Tubb!

New friend debut author and fellow Ohioan
 Meghan Colvin!


It's Emily's chance to pick out a new book to read, and she usually picks an author she hasn't read yet. Last year she chose Paper Wishes by Lois Sephaban and this year she chose Tower of the Five Orders - The Shakespeare Mysteries by Deron Hicks. She also brings her sketch books to show our  friend author and illustrator Mark Wayne Adams.







And if you ever wondered what family members do while authors and illustrators are signing and schmoozing? Well Bobby and Emily go horse back riding at the Jesse James Riding Stables, they tree-top zip-line, they hang out at Chaney's Dairy Barn, and they eat tons of Krispy Kreme donuts!







Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on April 24, 2017 07:51 • 6 views