Sunday, December 01, 2013

Songs of Three Islands - A Book Review and Giveaway

Songs_covCongratulations to Debby Wolfe!  You are the winner of the book, "Songs of Three Islands" by Millicent Monks!  Thank you for entering!


"Songs of Three Islands" is a beautifully written memoir, representing the stages in the lives of the Carnegie family, one of the richest in America, and their struggle with mental illness throughout the generations.  It shares the struggles of five generations of women who have struggled with an illness that had no cure, and the effects it had on the family.

Millicent Monks boldly writes the story of her family, bringing this illness out in the open, in an attempt to bravely comfort others who are may be suffering from thoughts and feelings they don't always understand. In her own words   It is a story of sorrow, sacrifice, and survival.

When Lucy Coleman Carnegie (b. 1904) was growing up.  Her unruly and impulsive behavior brought grief, heartache, and gloom to the entire Carnegie family.  Set against the backdrop of three islands, this book describes the devasting effects the disorder, (later identified as Borderline Personality Disorder (or BPD), had on the entire family.

For years, the family struggled with psychiatrists, therapists, family physicians, and support groups, in  hopes of diagnosing the problem in the brain that is the cause of BPD in patients.  The outbursts, obsessions, and the odd behavior, the strained relationships between mother and daughter, and the misunderstanding by all in the family of what these women were going through only added to the grief that the family experienced.

Understanding that BPD is not the fault of anyone, but rather, a medical condition running through generations of family, is the basis of this book.  Having a child with BPD does not only touch one life, but the lives of the entire family.  It can destroy families.

Life was an emotional jungle for the Carnegie women.  The fantasy world of the mentally ill of this family is symbolically referred to as the North Wind, causing Millicent to become a determined advocate for persons with this condition, and their families. 

In recent years, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at New York Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center (one of the leading academic medical centers in the world) has gained a view of activity in key brain areas associated with BPD.  Their research is shedding new light on this serious psychiatric condition.  By using advanced brain scanning, technologies have developed that make it possible to detect the areas of the brain with the greatest sensitivity.

This book is truly a brave account of the struggles within the Carnegie family with mental illness, and the fight for understanding and answers through the generations.  An enlightening read.

- Mary Simms

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Would you like to read this incredible book?  In the comments below, answer this question: "What tools do you use to deal with stressful situations in your own family?"

I will choose a winner on Friday, December 6th!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Happy Holidays! - A Giveaway for Artists!



CONGRATULATIONS to Miriam Hughes!  You are the winner of The Painter's Key's Book!

It is that time of year ... time to give to others and enjoy the spirit of the season.  I am having a giveaway just for you!



The Painter's Keys - by Robert Genn.  Love this man and artist.  I subscribe to his twice weekly newsletter and enjoy it very much.  He has a sense of humor and wit that adds a smile to every one I read.



In this book, Robert Genn, one of Canada's most collected and popular artists,  has an art workshop and he takes us on this very entertaining journey, while all the time keeping the repartee moving forward with hundreds of ideas for his fellow artists, many are as original as the man himself -- ideas that inspire and propel every artist who reads this book to be a better artist!



Just like his newsletters, he shares a repoertoire rich in quotations, methods for paintings and preparing one's mind for painting, techniques to make your life easier and your paintings more interesting, insider information, and all the while he sets your creative juices flowing so that all you want to do is get back in the saddle ... oh, I mean "back to the easel."  



One thing that sets Robert Genn apart from other artists and writers, is his love for the artist community.  Love for art.  Love for the written word.  He shares them all.  

Everything he shares is a gift to the artist community, and only serves to add value to your principles as an artist, so that you become more creatively effective in your quest to be the best artist you can be.



Every artist should have a copy of this book in their library - and read it with enthusiasm.  You will walk away a better artist.  It is a brilliant book from a brilliant man and fellow artist - Robert Genn.

For this contest, just share in the comments your answer to this question:

What do you love most about being an artist?

That's it!  One winner will be chosen on Wednesday, December 4th!  



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Teen Cuisine and a Giveaway too!!


We've decided that our kids are going to learn how to cook, and we began yesterday with Matthew.  He made dinner for the entire family and boy was it good. 


Thanks to my friends at FSB, I received a great cookbook in the mail - Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio.


It is packed full of great recipes, you know, the kind that teenagers will like, and he has made the instructions fun and easy to follow, right down to the paper towels.  This is not only a great cookbook for teens, but also for cooks of all levels.  Here's what Matthew cooked for us yesterday ...


Pulled Pork Sandwich.  That sure looks good and I'm hungry.


And doesn't Matthew look like a professional chef?  He was all decked out for the cooking experience.



Spice Mix:

1 tblspn smoked or regular paprika
1 tblspn chile powder
2 tspns ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tspn ground coriander
2 tblspns dark brown sugar
1 tblspn salt
2 tspns freshly ground black pepper

The Pork:

1 tblspn butter
3 lbs boneless pork butt or shoulder roast, trimmed of most of the excess fat
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup homemade Chicken broth (which is a recipe on page 62 of the book) or canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water.  (we used canned chicken broth)
2 tblspns olive oil
6 plain hamburger buns


On Your Mark ...



* To make the spice mix, combine the paprika, chile powder, cayenne, coriander, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. 


* To prepare the pork, grease a heavy-bottom roasting pan, just large enough to hold the roast, with the butter.

* Rinse the pork roast with cold water and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel


* Lay the roast on a cutting board and rub the spice mix into the entire surface of the roast. 


* Place the roast in the prepared pan.


* Immediately wash your hands with hot soapy water to remove any traces of the cayenne pepper.

* Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Set a timer so you don't forget.


Get set ...

* Preheat the oven to 325 F with a rack in the middle slot of the oven.


* Peel and cut the onion in half.  Lay the two halves flat side down on a cutting board ...


and cut into thin slices, and then set aside.  Matthew sure is doing a great job, don't ya think?!!  He didn't even cut off his fingers.  I'm so proud of him I think I'm going to cry ... boo waaaah ... oh ... that's the onions is it?


"How long do I have to wait for barbeque scraps anyway?"


* Slightly crush the garlic by laying the flat side of a chef's knife on the clove and pressing firmly to break open the skin.  Remove the skin, cut off the root end and discard.  Coarsely chop and set aside. 

Of course, you could be lazy like us and just use garlic already chopped in a container.


Time to Cook this baby!

* Remove the foil from the roasting pan.  Add the sliced onion and garlic to the pan (we put it on top of the pork roast).


* Combine the ketchup and chicken stock and pour into the bottom of the pan.  (As you can see, we added it from the sides and did not pour it on top of the pork roast)


* Slowly pour the olive oil over the meat.  (Maybe we should have put the onions on the bottom, what do you think? ) Cover the pan tightly with the foil.


* Bake the pork on the middle rack of the oven for 2-1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and easily falls apart and the tip of a sharp knife pierces the meat without resistance.  (Ours took 3 hours to cook)


* Remove the pan from the oven and let the meat cool for 10 - 15 minutes with the foil cover still on.

* Remove the foil and chop the roast into small chunks or shred the meat apart with two forks pulling in opposite directions.

* Return the pulled meat to the cooking liquid in the bottom of the pan and  mix well to coat the meat with sauce.  (We did this but the picture came out fuzzy.  One of these days I'll learn how to use my camera so that doesn't happen)


* Slice open the buns and lay the bottom halves on a plate.  Spoon on the pulled pork and pour some of the cooking liquid over the pork.  Top with the other half of the bun and serve immediately - before your family start having hungry tummy conversations - like mine.  Only mine is growling.

D e l i c i o u s !!!  Matthew did a great job!!  And, a few of us had 2, but I ain't given out any names.


Leave a comment for your chance to win this great cookbook!!  Just answer the question below in the comments:

Did you cook when you were a youngster?

Here are the rules:

One lucky winner will be chosen on Friday.  Contest ends at midnight on Thursday night.  Winner will receive a hardback copy of the book "Teen Cuisine" by Matthew Locricchio ! 

Thank you to my friends at FSB for sponsoring this great cookbook giveaway!

Now, get crackin' and leave a comment for your chance to win!

* * * * *

CONGRATULATIONS to #5 - Cyndi!  You are the winner of the Teen Cuisine cookbook!  I know you will find many great recipes to enjoy with your family. Email me at to claim your prize!

Thank you to everyone who entered.  More contests coming soon!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm a Klutz - Are You a Klutz?

I love Klutz kits and products for my kids, and they love them too!  We received the  "Capsters" bottle cap kit and the boys had a lot of fun today creating bottle cap collectibles of their own.  Let my boys show you how it's done and then I have a Klutz Capster kit to give away to one lucky reader courtesy of Klutz products and Big Honcho Media!!


These capsters are lots of fun for the kids.  My boys had a blast creating capsters of their own and they've been playing with them and making more since I took these pictures!


There are lots of creative ideas in the book!  My kids can't decide what to do yet, so for now, they are just collecting them and having fun.


The kit comes with about 14 caps, loads of great pics to stick on the inside of the capsters, and some little characters too.


There is even glitter and sequins and some ice cream and a penguin.


My son is deciding ...


and deciding  ...


and he finally made a decision!


Matthew likes aliens.  As a matter of fact, last night he decided to watch the movie "Signs."  When I asked him why he picked that one right before bed, he said "Because I have to face my fears."  He slept like a baby last night while I had nightmares of aliens.


He started with the picture of Saturn.  That is Saturn, right?  I should ask Matthew.  He's our space aficionado.


Little green alien from Mars.  Oops, I mean Saturn.


After you stick these little guys in the capsters, you put a blob of glaze all over them and it will turn clear and hard and this little green guy isn't going anywhere.


except maybe on Matthew's notebook, or on his belt or something.


It was Glen's turn and he had a tough time deciding which one to make too.


He finally decided on the bomb and the orange kitty.  Nice.


He stuck the bomb in his capster while his kitty waited on the side.


I like this glue container.  It has an accordian bottom so that you can squeeze out just enough.  It sure makes this easy.  I wonder why they don't make more things with these squigy bottoms?


Kitty and bomb.


Kitty and bomb again.


Kitty in bomb in capster ... ice cream ... eyeball ... froggy ... penguin ... doggy ... Christmas tree with presents ...

And one of those presents is for your favorite child.

Leave a comment below and tell me what you want Santa to bring you this Christmas.

Please just leave one comment for your chance to put this fun Klutz Capster Creative Kit under the tree for a special child in your life.

Then send me pictures of your wonder child's capsters!  They are great collectibles and for trading too!

I will pick a winner on Thursday, so tell your friends, and have them tell their friends.  Everyone needs a Klutz!

* * * * *

Congratulations to #4 Granny Sue!  You're the winner of the Klutz Capster Kit!  I have a feeling your grandchildren will enjoy it.  My boys are still showing me the capsters they made with their kit.  Please email me at with your shipping address so that I can get that right out to you! 

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

- Susan




Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Creativity for Kids! Special Occasions Fashion GiveAway!!


What fun! I'm giving away 3 - count 'em - 3! Creativity for Kids Special Occasions Fashion Box Sets to 3 lucky readers!!  Read this post to see all the great goodies inside!

I love Creativity for Kids - and not just for my own kids, but I enjoy their creative products as well, which is why I agreed to promote their new Special Occasions Fashion Box Giveaway!  Have you ever bought a Creativity for Kids project box?  I've bought a lot of them over the years - mostly for my daughter, Sarah, although my son, Matthew, and grandson, Glen, always had a hand in the projects along the way - and they had days of fun with every Creativity for Kids project box.


Well,  I was asked to take a look at the new Creativity for Kids Special Occasions Fashion Box set and I was all smiles when I got it.  It felt like Christmas (hey, I may be 51, but I'm still a Toys R Us Kid!)  Take a look at all the wonderful goodies you get for your aspiring fashion designer! ...


Lots of goodies - fashion sketchbook, bolts of fabric, dress form, colorful thread, pink scissors (hey, you gotta have pink scissors!), pink straight pins, a lacy pin cushion, embellishments of all kinds, instructions, and more.


I don't know about you, but I can't wait to dig in.


See this? -- Ages 9 to 99.  I'm 51.  I still have 48 more years to enjoy Creativity for Kids Projects.


I love the thread and embellishments, and they also include a thimble and sewing essentials.


I love this sketchbook, and I stuck the instructions inside for handy reference when designing outfits.


I like that the sketchbook has reference dresses for you to design.


This is the perfect opportunity to make some doll clothes.  When I was little, my mother showed me how to make Barbie dresses and doll clothes and I used to make them all the time.  I wish I had had this box set back then.  I suppose it is never too late to dress up your dolls.  Believe it or not, I still have my Barbie dolls!


I love, love, the bolts of fabric.  Plenty to choose from. 


And check out this dress form!  Even after I am done making dresses I am going to sit this in my sewing studio.  I love it!  This may even make a good pin cushion, don't you think?



 Wouldn't you want one for yourself or for a special little girl in your life?  Here's your chance!!


Take a look at all the great ways you can be creative!!

Check out Creativity for Kids Official Facebook Page!

And while your at it, here's the official trailer for the new Special Occasions Fashion Set! ...




* Ultimate fashion designer set features everything you need to create amazing designer originals.  Just add imagination…

* Ever dream of being a fashion designer of exquisite gowns?  From pearls to lace, you can design your own wedding dresses and special occasion fashions.

* Featuring even more supplies than the original award-winning Designed By You Fashion Studio, this deluxe version includes exceptional quality essentials that every couture fashion designer needs to inspire one-of-a-kind originals.   Dream it, Draw it, Design it.

* Everything is included! Mannequin, Satin Dress, Assorted Fabrics, Assorted Trims, Spools of Thread, Sewing Needles and Threader, Thimble, Pins, Pin Cushion, Scissors, Tape Measure, Fabric Swatches, Sketch Book, Pencils and Sharpener, Iridescent Sparkle Accent,  Silver Sparkle Accent, Satin Roses, Satin Bows, Tiaras, Velvet Accessories Storage Bag, Instructions and Ideas

* Age Range : 9 – 99

* * * * *

Three (3) winners will receive:
A Designed by You Special Occasion Fashions Activity Kit!
Each kit is $39.99 retail

Just answer the question in the comments below -

What was your favorite doll growing up?

Good luck!  Remember, you have a good chance of winning because I'm giving away 3 of these fun kits!!

I will pick the 3 lucky winners on Friday and post the winners here.  They will be chosen!!  Isn't it great to have an early Christmas?  : )

* * * * *

WOW!  What a Week!  I've been so busy working on my new blog design and preparing for this week's table runner, I forgot to choose 3 winners!!  So here you go!! ...  Drum roll please ...






CONGRATULATIONS TO KATHLEEN!!! (not my daughter - just so you know)

I need you all to email me at with your shipping information so that I can get these right out to you!!  

Thank you to everyone who entered!!  This was lots of fun, and will be a great gift for a special little girl in your life.  Maybe a nice Christmas present!!