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Emma reviews ... "The Lion Awakens"

I had the joy of experiencing Buffy Andrews’ latest book, a young adult title “The Lion Awakens,” unfold as it was written. Being friends with talented writers has its perks! So of course I was more than happy to tell the world about the sci-fi adventure now that it’s published. But I thought I’d do one better: I’d let Emma review it.

After all, she’s in the target audience and her enthusiasm for good storytelling is contagious (just check out some of her previous reviews, including “Andi Unexpected," “How to Make Friends and Monsters” and “The Bloor Door." So once again, please enjoy as Emma takes over the blog!



The first thing I have to say about “The Lion Awakens” is that Buffy Andrews has to be skilled to write it.

In the book, the plan could have been cheesey. I am surprised at how enticing the book was. At the beginnings, I was a little worried about the whole alien/super power thing, because, as I said before, there were a lot of places where it could have gone wrong. However, I was thrilled to finally find a book about aliens and such that was not too weird to read.

Reading Miss Buffy’s book, it felt like the characters were real. I saw the Sisters in her book (and also wanted to punch them!). I could picture Annie and David. I loved how the world Miss Buffy created was real, un-cheesey and AWESOME.

Second of all, I really enjoyed the style of “The Lion Awakens.” It was straightforward on the parts that needed to be and slowed down just enough in the important parts. I loved how in just one scene of action, you learned about basically five or more characters at a time. At parts, it symbolized one thing while the people in the story were doing another. For instance, when David and Annie shaved their heads, it symbolized sacrifice while still managing to be straightforward. Speaking of being straightforward, that is one of the things I like about Miss Buffy’s book. I didn’t have to say, “Jeez! When will you move onto the actual storyline?!” This was maybe one of my favorite things about the book.

Lastly, “The Lion Awakens” made me feel so many emotions it was crazy! At parts, I was near tears. Other times, laughing out loud. And other times, screaming at the book! This book plays with your emotions. If you are a sensitive person, save yourself embarrassment and walk into another room when reading this. After finishing this book, my mom walked into the living room and asked if I was okay. (No, I was not, by the way.)

This concludes my review of “The Lion Awakens.” It was an amazing book. It will hold onto you and will not let go! Thank you, Miss Buffy, for writing this book!


My baby has a beautiful face!

I am excited to share the “Pack of Dorks” cover.

Isn’t it gorgeous? The origami pack captures the wolf aspect, and Lucy and Sam’s “dorkiness.”

Romeo and Juliet have nothing on the love-at-first-sight that struck me when I set eyes on this beauty! I squealed so loudly that I nearly gave my children heart attacks! Then I jumped up and down in circles while the boy stared at me and the girl joined in.* I was able to show them why I was so excited before the ugly tears began to run.

But now, a conundrum. Do I need to know how to make origami wolves? I guess I’ve got a few months to learn. (Shameless plug) “Pack of Dorks” is released Oct. 7 (but you can preorder now here.

 *Funny thing: She did the same thing at age 3 when I found out I was pregnant with her little brother. I cheered and danced, she did, too, without even knowing why. Love that about her!


Another snow day, another chair situation


Aren't the new stools so pretty!It’s snowing. Again.

Seriously, we’re so over the snow around here.

Sure, it’s beautiful, but being homebound again is making all of us restless. The children manage by alternating Seriously. Sleeping here. running through the house in bursts of feral energy with whining and falling dramatically to the floor in boredom. The dog glares at us all for disturbing what would've been a peaceful day of napping.


Me? I handle another chair situation.

I feel a little like cheating by showing you this before picture. Here it is, in the horrible lighting and nasty backdrop of the workshop. But, seriously, I never remember the before picture until I’ve already started. (You can see the top of the second stool already popped off and on the ground behind this one.)

Imagine in a less gross environment.

And here is the after.



We got these two stools from Kohl’s shortly after moving and realizing we had a breakfast bar. Since then, we’ve painted the cabinets white and the island gray. The dark wood frame and brown faux leather seats just didn’t mesh well.

So I took some fabric left over from an old project and got to work.

First I popped off the top of the seats by undoing the screws. Then I mixed up some chalk paint and painted the chair legs white. This happened to be during the whining time for the kids. My youngest: “Why do you paint everything white? White is so boring. Everything is white. Or gray. And these are white and gray.”

And it’s true. I do paint everything white or gray. Tables, coffee tables, chairs, picture frames, the dog. (Just kidding.) In fact, our walls are a bluish gray and I’m really thinking more of a gray-gray would be better. Or maybe a white. Or maybe I just have a sickness. I don’t know. But gray and white have been my favorite combination lately.

I laid the seat tops down and cut an outline of it from a foam mattress pad, also leftover from a previous project. I used spray adhesive to stick it to the faux leather seat and then laid the combo over the fabric. I cut around it, leaving enough extra to reach the wood frame of the seat. Then I staple gunned. Bam, bam, bam! It’s pretty cathartic, actually.

I used “hospital corners” at the edges, folding under and making it tight. Not perfect, but better than previous efforts. I distressed a little, too. I love distressing furniture! It takes the pressure off being the first one to muck it up. That being said...

Finally, I Scotch Guarded the heck out of it. Even so, the first child to wipe his or her Eggo waffle fingers on the seat …

So that’s my latest project. Stay tuned. Another snowstorm is supposed to hit us on Wednesday. And Saturday. And Sunday.


Table and chairs, before and after

"Oh, you're taking a picture? I'll just sit right here, out of the way..."I took a break (and by break, I mean obsessively focusing on an unnecessary task) from writing and working the past couple days to work on another furniture project.

I found this aging beauty at the auction barn last weekend.

I had lost out on an antique oriental rug, a 1920s bookcase, and an incredible plank dining table and chairs, and was too full from dinner for pie. All in all, it was turning out to be a bust.

Enter this Victorian-era game table. Can you believe I scored this for $10? Ten. Dollars. Wha?

Yes, it was faded and scratched. And, yeah, someone did repair it by driving nails up through it. (This meant nail ends jutted through the open slots where you would keep game pieces. Tonight’s game: Who Wants Lockjaw?!)

But it was solid mahogany!  

And it had feet! Cute little brass feet.

After my husband made repairs and removed the nails, I made my own chalk paint (it's easy!) and did a base coat of smoke ember gray. I did a crackle effect by then covering it in Elmer’s glue. When the glue got slightly tacky, I did a top coat of a creamy white paint. If I could do it again, I’d wait a little longer before putting on the top coat. The glue wasn’t tacky enough to really do a great job with crackling.

After that dried, I sanded it and destressed it. Then I added a reminder to play nice: This Victorian-era graphic of shaking hands from The Graphics Fairy.

There’s a cool trick I learned on that site of rubbing the back of a printed graphic with chalk, laying over the piece you want to paint, and then tracing over the design with pencil. This should leave an impression of the graphic on the piece, which you can then paint over. It usually works for me. But this time, not so much. I don’t know why but the chalk just barely showed. I ended up doing most of it freehand by looking at the graphic. Again, if I could go back, I’d do it differently, this time smaller.

Finally I put on a heavy coating of wax and it was done.

"Oh, please don't take my picture! I'm so shy!"

Enter the chair situation.

“What chair situation?” my husband asked.

"The lack of chair situation,” I replied.

And we weren’t going to be able to go back to the barn for two weeks!

Suddenly I remembered these battered chairs from our first kitchen table after getting married.Yup, it's on its side. Nope, don't know how to fix it.   

These Wal-Mart chairs have been living in our basement, except for when we moved some (why? I dunno know) up into storage above the garage. But I wanted upholstered chairs.

So I upholstered them. Which, honestly, was a lot more work than I thought it would be. But I like the way they turned out.

I painted them both white with chalk paint. Then I popped out the seat base, covered it with padding (a section cut from a full-size mattress pad) and used spray adhesive to stick on the fabric. Then I stretched and stapled it underneath. This was easy peasy.

Making the back covering was another story. It might’ve involved cutting an IKEA pillow in half.

I’m going to get around to adding some trim around the edges but for now, it’ll do.

 I'm so in love with these feet.





The hunger strike that wasn't

                When my sister was a little girl, she seemingly went on a hunger strike.

                She refused to eat her breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mom no longer allowed her to have snacks because she wouldn’t eat her meals. She didn’t care. Mom refused to let her leave the table until she ate at least some of her food. Later, Mom would find pieces spit into the bathroom trashcan.

                The doctor ran a battery of tests. Everything was normal. “When she gets hungry enough, she’ll eat,” he said.

                Mom and Dad couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They were terrified.

                It turned out, she just wasn’t hungry.

                See, my sister had a little secret.

                We lived in a small, peaceful little town, and this was back when kids left the house in the morning and came home when the sun went down. While the rest of us were at the playground, catching crayfish in the creek or climbing trees in the backyard, she was making her rounds. She knew which neighbors had cookies at the ready for any children who stopped by to visit, and visit she did. Every day.

                When Mom found out, the story changed. This wasn’t about a sad little girl protesting something at home. It wasn’t a mystery illness zapping her appetite. It was a clever kid working a pretty sweet system (pun intended).

                The writing I’m doing down is different from other pieces I’ve written—and much different than “Pack of Dorks”—in that I actually plotted this one. I even did a beat sheet. And I love what I had planned.

                But then one of the characters just went in a totally different direction. And it’s turning the whole plot upside down. It’s becoming a slightly different story than the one I planned, but it’s still a good story.

                And, just because, here’s a picture of my dog, who also has a way of making things fit even when they shouldn’t. If he fits, he sits.