3 Questions Wednesday with Kathy C. Houser

Welcome my friend, Kathy Houser, a local children’s author with her debut children’s book, Houser Post Office. 

With great pleasure, we welcome her to 3 Questions Wednesday!

First question–

What inspires you?

Kathy: The laughter of children, their imagination and their love. I’m also inspired by all God’s creations. Sometimes one word can start a story, sometimes one glance at beauty can start a story.

That’s so true. 🙂 Now…

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Kathy: Rainbow, because all the colors you see are beautiful. Like a butterfly, each a beauty in its own way!

I love a rainbow, especially while it’s still raining and the sun peeking in. Last question…

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Kathy: Veterinarian, because of my love of animals.

My granddaughter, Sadie, wants to be a veterinarian also. Thanks so much for stopping in, Kathy!

Kathy will soon be releasing her second children’s book, Dino’s Adventure. Read more about it below…


Dino Adventure

 I was inspired to write because my son, Jamie and his daughter, Ellie have such a love for the giant creatures. While doing research, I found myself intrigued by the mystery of the dinosaurs. I wanted to know more about these creatures and I even took a biblical look into the creation of these giants that roamed our earth so long ago. Research on dinosaurs brings out the imagination and intriguing aspects of how they existed and how they evolved into some creatures that still exist today!

During the writing of this story, I put together dinosaurs that were plant eaters and could have possibly traveled together in the same period of time. Even though Dino Adventure is completed, I still enjoy reading about them. Join me on this awesome journey of your imagination into the world of dinosaurs!


Houser Post Office

One day, the arts council asked me to read a story at the Chicken and Egg Festival that would be held in a small town that I lived in. I asked them if I could just write a short story to read to the children instead. So this is how the story about mail on a farm started!

I started on the story one night. I thought about how unhappy some of my customers were when they didn’t get any mail. Then I thought about how happy my son was when I would read animal stories to him. The combination of the two inspired me to write this story!


Author Kathy C. Houser

Kathy C. Houser, after I grew up, I worked full-time with the Post Office as a City Carrier and raised my son.  After thirty-two years, I retired and here I am, six months later, with two new books! My debut book is Houser Post Office and my second one is Dino’s Adventure. It thrills me to know that children all over the place will be reading my books. I look forward to writing more!

Terry Jo Compton-Illustrator of Dino’s Adventure 

I live in Decatur, Alabama, with my wife, Paula. I became passionate about art at the young age of five years old and spent some of my teenage years working as an artist on signs for businesses, lettering, illustrations, commercial buildings, giant water trucks, and even stage props, stationary, and home decor.

Framed art is my favorite to produce and I love that my art hangs on the walls of someone’s home. I am inspired by fine art, architecture, and old buildings dating back years and years ago. I consider it an honor and privilege to produce artwork that will last for years to come. My love for art has also led me to oils, water colors, and acrylic painting.  The talent I have is all-natural and God-given…no lessons!

Christina Travis-Illustrator of Houser Post Office 

I’m sixteen years old, born in San Marcos, Texas, and raised in Trinity, Alabama. I’ve always had a love for the arts, whether it’s music or drawing. I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember, every day when I would come home from school that was always the first thing I wanted to do. It wasn’t until the seventh grade when I realized that I had talent. I would normally do a quick sketch, but when I really sat down and committed to drawing for hours, from then on I knew that I wanted to draw professionally. So I began drawing portraits for friends and family. I am so thankful for all the love and support I have received while on this journey.

Christmas Around the World: My Russian Legacy

Christmas around the world is our topic for December. Many people rejoice over the birth of Christ and with different countries come various celebrations. Food, church services, gift-giving, decorations, and lights are some of the ways people show their love for the Babe born in Bethlehem. Join us for our trip around the world, starting with Russia…

By Jennifer Hallmark

2013-10-22-15-01-22

Uncle Paul, Grandma, Grandpa, Mom

Christmas Eve and day were spent with my dad’s family and my husband’s family, sharing traditions familiar to them. Southern food, presents galore, and catching up on the past year were an important part of their holidays. The New Year would come and go. Russian Christmas would finally arrive.

My family would drive to my parent’s house on January 6, which was the eve of the day Christmas was celebrated on the old “Julian” calendar. The excitement would build as our children, Mandy and Jonathan, looked forward to the small, decorated tree, presents and a special supper to commemorate this second Christmas of the year.

russian-dinner

wikipedia image

On Russian Christmas Eve, Mother would set up and decorate a small tabletop tree. We would prepare a special seven-dish Russian meal, which included salmon, stuffed potato pies, borscht or beet soup, stuffed cabbage, polish sausage, boiled cabbage, and special rolls filled with raisins and prunes. We ate by candlelight and recelebrated the birth of Jesus, then exchanged small presents as we shared stories of culture, heritage and family.

russian-food

My stuffed cabbage and peppers

I’m glad to remember and share my heritage with my family. Today we celebrate different traditions tied to my heritage and home in the Deep South. We rejoice with love, fellowship, food, and gifts.

One Christmas at a time.

 

Writing Prompt: Share your favorite Christmas tradition.

 

Glow Worms at the Dismals Canyon

grand-canyon

Grand Canyon

By Jennifer Hallmark

Natural Wonders is the topic for October and goes right along with our subjects this year which include favorite vacations and world travel. The difference lies in the definition.

One source mentions that a natural wonder must be a clearly defined natural site or natural monument that was not created or significantly altered by humans. Our Crew at the Writing Prompts blog will be pointing out several natural wonders such as Mammoth Cave, Victoria Falls, and the Dismals Canyon.

What? You haven’t heard of the Dismals? Read on to find out more…

Glow little glow worm. The 1952 release of the song Glow Worm was sung by the Mills Brothers and talked about little glow worms, shining and glimmering. It’s a fun song and I’ll share a You Tube recording of the song at the end of this article.

Possibly the songwriter had visited the natural wonder tucked away in the northwest corner of Alabama called Dismals Canyon, a national natural landmark near Phil Campbell, Alabama.

The website for the canyon says:

Past twilight, the canyon lights up with tiny bioluminescent creatures we call Dismalites. These “glowworms” require a select habitat to survive and are unique to only a few places on Earth. They are “close cousins” of the rare glowworms found in Australia and New Zealand.

dismalites

Dismalites

It’s been a while since I visited what locals call “The Dismals” but it remains a magical place filled with streams, waterfalls, hiking trails, and a guided night tour to view the Dismalites. Besides hiking, activities include swimming, camping, cabin rentals, and a country store and restaurant. The canyon itself is rich with native plant life and the stream, Dismals Branch, enters the canyon through Rainbow Falls.

 

rainbow-falls_dismals-canyon

Rainbow Falls

On the one-and-a-half mile hiking trail, you’ll see the falls, boulders, natural bridges, and cliffs, while you’re surrounded by giant trees and ferns. This natural wonder contains one of the oldest primeval forests east of the Mississippi River untouched by ax or fire that is open to the public. The canyon is thought to have been originally occupied nearly 10,000 years ago by native tribes.

So if you’re ever in North Alabama, make sure to plan a visit to Dismal Canyon. It is open seven days a week and cabin rental’s possible year round. And plan to be there on a Saturday night so you can go on the guided night tour to see the shimmering glowworms. You’ll be glad you did. I’m planning an adventure there soon with the grandchildren. I know they’ll love it as much as me.

Writing Prompt: The odor of damp earth mingled with the green ferns and vines surrounding me. I stepped into the cave and flipped on my headlamp. Suddenly…

All Things Wedding

By Jennifer Hallmark

wedding flowersI dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

This quote made me smile. June is traditionally the month of weddings and here at the Writing Prompts blog, we’ll discuss all things wedding. Whether a wedding is a simple ceremony among a few friends or as extravagant as Princess Diana’s, some type of ceremony can be found in almost all cultures and countries. Join us throughout the month of June. Maybe we’ll learn something new.

Mandy's wedding

Mandy’s wedding

Weddings are very much on my mind these days, though none of my immediate family married in June. Mom and Dad married in September as did my daughter, Mandy. My husband and I married in July. My son will be newly wedded (May 27th) by the time you read this post. When I think of the weddings I’ve been personally involved with, several words come to mind:

Beauty                         Romantic

Stress                           Hurry

Good food           Flowers          Surprises

 

And did I mention stress? I’m still looking for my dress and considering the groom’s table. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Did I mention it’s only two weeks until the wedding? Sigh. But like all the others, it will somehow fall into place and we’ll look back with fond memories.

As a writer, I’ve thought a lot about weddings over the past couple of years. I’ve written a novel tentatively titled “When Wedding and Weather Collide.” If you knew me very well, you’ve find it amusing that I’m writing a book with a wedding as a major plot point. I never really dreamed about weddings as a teenager, though I always figured I’d marry someday. I didn’t have a scrapbook like my daughter or any thoughts on a wedding dress.

Our weddingSo when my boyfriend proposed, almost 34 years ago, I said okay. I couldn’t think of an argument against it. I was finishing a semester at college so Mom did a lot of my planning. I remember I didn’t want a traditional bride and groom cake topper, so I found a bell and dove to go on top. I wanted pink in the wedding because it was my favorite color. I borrowed a dress, planned a fairly simple ceremony, and we became husband and wife.

In my novel, I really enjoyed planning the wedding. I found the perfect dress, picked out colors, cakes, bridesmaid’s dresses, and even invitations. You can see all of my findings on my Pinterest page here.

So, in a way, I discovered a perfect wedding. 30 something years later. But that’s okay. Maybe one day, I’ll sell the movie rights and we can all watch the wedding on the Hallmark channel…  🙂


Writing Prompt: Complete this thought…

Lila stepped into the fabulous, lace-covered gown that had been her grandmother’s. The few alterations had made it fit like it had been made for her. Her best friend, Anne, started to zip the gown, then stopped.

“Uh, oh.”

“What do you mean, uh oh?”

Goodbye Comfort Food

IMG_1177What if you have to give up your favorite comfort food?

When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teen, he said good-bye to his favorite comfort food and all-time staple – Pizza. It was a tough summer for him since pizza was also the food of choice at parties and outings. Maintaining sugar levels and managing this auto-immune disease while working to secure a starting spot on the varsity football team was a huge challenge for Jake, but he did great.

He managed exceptionally well — I’m such a proud mom — and eventually went on to play professional football in the NFL. Harvest House Publishers just released his first book, an awesome, inspiring devotional: First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.  UnknownEventually, Jake brought pizza back into his diet and used insulin to correct sugar levels, but he still maintains a very healthy diet. So, in honor of Jake, I’m sharing a diabetes-friendly pizza recipe from Nikki Sheriff @  Diabetesconnect.com

320x260Chicken Pesto Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust By Nikki Sheriff
Crust:

1 small head of cauliflower

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 egg

Pesto: (1 cup bottled pesto may be substituted)

1 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch sea salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

Toppings:

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

6 thin slices of a Roma tomato

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: To make the crust, trim and wash cauliflower florets (not including the stems). Pulse in a food processor until fine.Pour into a microwave safe bowl and microwave covered for 5 minutes. Lay out a clean kitchen towel and lay a paper towel over it. Pour the steamed cauliflower onto the towels and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, wrap up the steamed cauliflower and wring out as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible.Pour into a bowl and mix with cheeses and seasonings listed above under “crust”. Add the egg and mix with your hands and shape into a ball. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, placing a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.Lay out a piece of parchment paper and press and shape the cauliflower mixture into the shape of a pizza, about 1/4 inch thick. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lay the parchment paper with crust onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed.Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both

Pour into a bowl and mix with cheeses and seasonings listed above under “crust”. Add the egg and mix with your hands and shape into a ball. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, placing a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.Lay out a piece of parchment paper and press and shape the cauliflower mixture into the shape of a pizza, about 1/4 inch thick. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lay the parchment paper with crust onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed.Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both

While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both cheese’s.Bake 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted. Slice into 8 slices and serve.

Looks and sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

***

Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com

Contact her at www.HollyMichael.com or on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/AuthorHollyMichael or Twitter: @HollyMichael

First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Life can be pre-ordered at Amazon now by clicking this link, but will soon be available in most book-seller markets.

Thanks for stopping by. We are happy you joined us at Writing Prompts in June for our “Comfort Food Month.” Be sure to stop over in July. You will enjoy “Greatest Movie Ever Month.”

And now for the writing prompt…

The doctor lowered his eyes and studied the file. He raised his head and peered over his glasses. “You’re going to have to make drastic changes in your life.”

And go! Respond below in the comments section.

What I Wanted to be When I Grew Up

by Betty Thomason Owens

10171180_10203041015340695_307067443322518168_nA long, long time ago…about the time this picture was taken, I imagined a life filled with my favorite things (I’m the one on the right, by the way). I loved flowers and animals. I frequently invaded prize-winning flower gardens and brought bouquets home to Mom. She was not happy when an angry gardener showed up at her door. I was a sweet, girly version of Dennis the Menace, apparently.

So I dreamed of growing my own beautiful beds of flowers. I’d imagine myself sitting in my porch swing surrounded by cats and dogs who could understand every word I said. Birds sang in the trees. A peacock prowled the yard. All in my fanciful world, of course.

At the time, I lived in a magical place called San Diego. Where flowers bloomed all year round. Tangerines ripened on a tree outside our back door. We climbed date palms and ate cherries from a hedge. Not sure about that last one. I remember eating cherries, but not sure why it was a hedge.

Just blocks away, the beautiful mission of Balboa rang its bells during the day. Not far away, lions roared and elephants trumpeted from their environs at the San Diego Zoo.

Sounds lovely, I know. It was my reality at the time. So I imagined myself in whatever walk of life included beautiful flowers and taking care of cute and cuddly things. My destiny.

51hUtA3M-cLFast-forward a few years and I’m eleven years old and living in a small town in West Tennessee. A far cry (in so many ways) from San Diego. I visited the school library and found a red-and-white book, one of a series of books about Cherry Ames. Cherry was a nurse. The series followed her from candystriper to head nurse and beyond. I vaguely remember romance and intrigue. I determined to follow in her footsteps and earn the white cap.

I made it as far as nurses’ aide in a retirement home during my high school years. I was accepted to a prestigious nursing school, but never went. Life intervened. Dad lost his job a few weeks before I was set to enter. I couldn’t pay for the school, and he wouldn’t let me get a loan. I didn’t have the confidence to do it on my own.

Dreams derailed, I went to work in an office. I married, raised three sons, developed a sense of humor while raising three sons. Hey, you do what you have to do to survive.

Years later, I’ve retired from full-time work as an office manager. I didn’t have much choice, the company I worked for closed. I still love flowers. I love animals. I long to visit San Diego again. Life didn’t turn out the way I imagined way back then. It might actually be better than my dreams.

crocus-673477_1280Fast-forward to 2015. I watch the seasons pass outside my window, waiting for the first signs of spring so I can get out in the yard and dig in my flower bed. I write books and stories and blog posts. I talk to friends all over the world on Facebook and Twitter. I welcome my grandchildren and enjoy spending time with them. Dreaming with them, about what they’ll be when they grow up.

 

Here’s your Writing Prompt: 

Lois Maxwell smiled as she watched her six-year-old roll out cookie dough. “You’re doing a great job, Lily. Maybe you’ll grow up to be a baker, or a chef.”

Lily laughed as she popped a bite of cookie dough into her mouth. “Tell me the story again, Mommy. What did you want to be when you grew up?”

Complete the prompt for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Trending Now – Beware of the Pop in Pop Culture

by Allie Owens Crockett

If there is one thing my dad taught me about the world in my early years, it was to beware of fads. According to Urban Dictionary a fad is a thing that becomes very popular in a short amount of time, and then is forgotten at about the same speed. In other words, a craze or a trend. They come to pass.

Don’t get me wrong not all fads mean trouble. For instance, I like lots of “green” fads. These are movements having to do with caring for the environment, clean eating, and cleaning with safer products in our homes and around our children. Here’s the catch–the quicker we are to associate ourselves as “we”, the quicker we are to fall under the category of “bandwagon-ers.” This is what I believe my father wished to stress.

Let’s talk sports. Most of us have a favorite team. We paint our faces, we parade to work, our flag’s great colors flitting in the wind. We assemble for the sake of consuming large amounts of food and drink – yelling and jumping in front of a screen.

SONY DSCEspecially here–in the great state of Kentucky–where Basketball was born (just a joke!). But really, Cats and Cards fans make quite a crowd. With this being said, I recently discovered my best friend of 15+ years, and rival Cardinal snob is a complete and total fanatic fraud! On a trip to the gym, she confessed her fan-hood had been passed down. Her family roots for UofL. Why shouldn’t she?

I giggled to myself, because I believe as a young child I chose to (be) a Kentucky Wildcat and was largely associated with liking the color blue better than red. Of course, I made no mention of this to her. I offer this as a funny example of how easy it is to get roped-in with something we would otherwise have no organic pull toward or preference about. I think fads work this way.

When I consider our media-driven society and the sway it has on this generation, I am reminded of my days as Pre-K teacher. It is my belief that children are just as amazingly unique, as they are remarkably alike. In a more positive light, what’s popular or common among this age group can be ideal for prepping them for the years ahead.

file6301307532195When I was in school, the term peer pressure had some unfavorable implications. But I have found that this kind of peer pressure can be a very useful tool in the context of a classroom. Most people send their children to preschool for the socialization, but also to acquire new skills as well as learn what is acceptable behavior in a classroom setting.  It is “popular” for children this age to be grump-a-lumps when they first arrive to school, and to cry for their parents. It is “popular” for children this age to be easily redirected to a new activity once they realize all is well and their classmates are having fun. The more time little people spend in this new environment, the easier it becomes for them to sit quietly, follow simple instructions, and feel quite confident with the security that structure provides.

Even as adults, we are all only children at heart. I believe knowing when to lead and when to follow are two essential elements to living a purposeful life.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens….A time to be silent and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

And as flashy and high-tech as things become, there really is nothing new under the sun.

Until next time,

Allie

Did you know–every time you leave a comment on one of our posts, you are automatically entered in our quarterly drawings for a gift certificate? –Plus–Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments…

Writing Prompt: Let this photo prompt a story! Write a sentence or two or three. Who is she? Why is she here? What is she thinking?

Girl in a park