looks like my first book baby is getting a sibling. I sent the
publishing contract in this week for my second book Rock Angel!!
Release date will be spring of 2017! Always make time in your life to
reach a goal doing something you have a passion for.
I re-finished a dresser with great bones, giving it a fresh spring time makeover. Bless her heart, she was in bad shape with a very weathered and water spotted finish. After one coat of Kilz, a coat of French Country blue latex paint, a glaze of walnut stain, and a few new pieces of hardware, she was good as new---ready to watch styles come and go for years to come. #repurpose #refinish #dontthrowitoutcallme
A lot of bad things have happened in this world in the past few months.
If you've all but lost faith in humanity take a look at this face, or
the face of any young child. This little guy is my Christmas miracle. He
will never be a scientist, a rock star, or the president of his
fraternity. He will probably never drive a car, or have the privilege of
holding a high paying job. Star athlete? Probably not, but he's
overcome obstacles that, I promise, would make the strongest man
lay down and give up. He's inspired me to be a better person. I look to
him as an example of how to love, and how to truly show my love to
others unconditionally. He'll never be totally jaded by this world. Even
when he's mad it's only because he can't fully communicate the pain he
feels physically or emotionally, or maybe just the fact that he wants
the dad-gum chunky peanut butter instead of smooth! He's got your back,
if you're his friend, and he will flat line you out if he thinks your
being unkind to someone he loves. This is the face of what our world
needs more of---innocent, unconditional love. Just look~
SWEET ANNABELLE IS TURNING 3!
We're celebrating my youngest grand daughter's birthday today with a fall flavored birthday party complete with a camp fire to accommodate the roasting of marshmallows for s'mores.
My daughter showed Annabelle the pic of the campfire birthday cake I made for her, and she said her eyes just lit up. It garnered a huge smile too! Mission accomplished.
I found the inspiration for this cake on Pinterest. It was really fun to make.
Here's my how to:
I made a box chocolate cake mix and added double melted butter instead of oil, cracked in an extra (grade A XL) egg, and used milk instead of water for a bakery style decadent cake--
If you've followed the other cakes I've made, you'll know this is my MOST favorite part of the caking process...the FROSTING! I made a batch of Hershey's chocolate icing for the rich moist cake. The recipe can be found on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa container. It's 2/3 cups Hershey's Cocoa, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup of milk, 3 cups of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Just melt the butter, add the cocoa to butter, and alternate blending in the powdered sugar and milk as you beat it with a mixer. Then add in the (good quality) vanilla at the end when smooth. Without fail a family member will be waiting for the spoon to lick. Just hand it back over your right shoulder~
I used Jolly Rancher candies for the flames. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with Canola oil, and place package of unwrapped red hard candies on foil. Bake in oven for 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees, until melted. Let candy cool and gently lift from foil. Have fun breaking it into shards for the cool flames!
I used Creme de Pirouline chocolate hazelnut cookies for the logs. Place the shards of candy in a flame pattern in the center and add in logs (I broke some of them into pieces to fit better.) Then add a garland of fat, fluffy, sugary marshmallows around the bottom of the cake.
Grab your sticks---it's time to make s'mores! Speaking of which, individual packages of s'more making supplies are a great idea, especially since we have 5 grand kiddos under the age of 7. Moms and Dads can just grab a pack by the fire and roast away. There are even Wet Wipes included for the sticky aftermath.
HAPPY FALL Y'ALL!!! And a big happy birthday to our precious Annabelle!!!
Meet Gracen "The book angel."
Her sweet giving spirit is just glowing through in this pic! My little big-hearted
friend Gracen Ripperger has started a program called Hope in a Book, and
is collecting books to take to hospitals and other facilities where
there might be children and adults in need of a paper back or hard cover
She is my inspiration!! Thank you for coming to see me today♥ I hope my book will bring a smile to someone in need.
Gracen Ripperger has started a project called Hope in a Book all on her own! She will deliver books to hospitals and other facilities in order to bring smiles to faces in need of a paper back pick up!
Little Book Angel~~
We had an incredible time at the Kansas City Chief's and Pittsburgh Steeler's game this weekend. Came home to the news that my handsome U.P.S. husband will have the honor of delivering the game football in his browns on the field at the December 19th Cowboys/Jets game! This NFL is fun stuff! Thanks Cowboys!
Great day for a game!
I made a frie-nemy while tail-gating!
These fans know how to dress for a game~
I haven't done a Rockin' Recipe in a while, and since it's still raining puppies and kittens (cloudy with a slight drizzle) here in my neck of the woods, I had a baking urge and scanned the fridge for ingredients.
I referred to my Pinterest page and came up with easy cream cheese chocolate danish. I tweaked the recipe to make it waist line friendly since there's not much outdoor exercise happening in this soggy weather---no walk around the block, equals cutting calories in order to fit properly into swim suit in a month.
Technically danish are a Denmark specialty, but since they're Scandinavian, I decided to cheat a bit and listen to Swedish pop group, ABBA while I baked. "Take a Chance on Me" whisked me right out of my rainy weather rut~
Recipe below for "Dancin' Queen Danish"---(tip: If you dance while baking, you burn calories and feel less guilty while eating the flaky, creamy, chocolatey goodies.)
DANCIN' QUEEN DANISH---
One container reduced fat croissant dough (I used Pillsbury)
One 8 oz block of reduced fat or Greek yogurt cream cheese
1/2 cup of Truvia granulated sweetener (or Stevia for baking in the equivalent of 1 cup of regular sugar)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (less calories, more anti-oxidants)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out croissant dough into one big rectangle and pinch perforated areas together. Mix softened block of cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture over dough, and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Roll up dough and cut into pinwheel circles. Place on cookie sheet that's been lightly coated with non-stick spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
*The more these set up after baking (like the next morning with coffee) the better they are. You could cool in the fridge to speed up the process.
These are totally guilt free if you dance to "Waterloo" like no one's watchin' while baking~ Enjoy!
My musical inspiration for today's rainy day baking---ABBA!
I love the new Greek yogurt cream cheese! It's amazing on Pretzel Thins too---
Dancing break while they cool!
Coffee time---bring on the rain!
We have had an unusual amount of rain here in the Tulsa area this spring, and lots of cloudy days. I love to get out in work in my garden, but it's been soggy for weeks.
Thought I'd at least make it out to the back porch (drain the potted flowers before they drown) and brighten up the garden with some painted projects. Here's to future sunny days!
My daughter moved this weekend and the old saying, "one man's trash is another man's treasure" was tested on a mirror she no longer wanted. I painted it Caribbean blue and glazed it with a pecan stain. Flowers are so pretty---why not see all angles?
I re-painted our favorite pool sidekick from last summer. Our seagull friend had totally washed out in the elements, so I gave him his colors (and eyes) back~
Quaint Storage Jars~
I painted the lid to an old jar and screwed in a cabinet knob that didn't match my bathroom any longer. I have to wait until someone finishes off the pickles, mayonnaise
and olives before I can complete the set. Hmmm...sandwiches for dinner?
Fun, back porch, painting day~
Here's to aging homes!
You know why? Because you can wake up one morning and decide to paint kois fish on your back porch, without worrying whether or not you'll mess up the fresh cement.
I've definitely found that I have gotten more creative with my projects now that my house is nearing the big 3-oh. Fun stuff.
Here's my how-to:
I drew a template of my fish on plain white paper (the fish closest to the paint can is my pattern. ) I used chalk to outline them onto cement.
I painted the fish with Kilz, (white paint could be used) in a swimming pattern.
I used left over, latex paint(remember the orange bathroom?) to paint the details onto my kois in little dots, lines and patches.
And voila'! Three happy, good luck charms swimming from my back porch door toward the pool deck.
So, here's to aging, cracked back porches with a little character to boot~
My husband and I took our little Eddie Jett to The Warren Theater today for the showing
of "Avengers" for children with special needs and their families. It
The kiddos there could be themselves. They could laugh, have a little stroll down the isle, and make a little noise,
which we are totally used to---it was music to our ears. They adjusted
the lights and sound so it was conducive to children with autism,
genetic syndromes, and other special needs.
Eddie Jett turned around in his
chair in the middle of the movie, waved and told the other kids "Hi" and yelled out, "Uh-oh,"
and his classic "You OK??" during the movie, as characters got way-laid--- and it didn't bother a soul there!
THANK YOU WARREN THEATER in
Broken Arrow for your thoughts turned into actions, and for making the movies
a fun, exciting and special time for lots of area families and their
I highly recommend, if you have a child with special
needs, you get them tickets for next months special movie!!! PS The
Hulk was Eddie Jett's favorite---lots of "Uh-Oh...you OK's??"
Mr. Spoiled Rotten Pants!
Eddie Jett's quote when the Hulk appeared in the action sequences, "Uh-oh...you ok?"
Warren Theater in Broken Arrow, OK Thank you again for making our special needs little guy feel right at home in your gorgeous theater!
Drove home from work through snow and ice and built a nice fire---the crackle and hiss of the burning
wood is a much more soothing sound than the central heat kicking on~ and
I just realized I have marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey's
candy bars in the cabinet~ SCORE!
We have a big family on both my husband's side and mine. It's sometimes difficult to find a perfect activity that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Last night we had the first annual Puckett Family Trolley Christmas Light Tour and ugly sweater contest...guess who won with a delightfully tacky cardigan?
I would highly recommend Urban Trolley, Inc. in Tulsa for a fun night of festive light watching. They were able to accommodate our large family, from great grandpa, to the toddlers in our group. We all loved it, and can't wait to plan another trip next Christmas season!
Christmas is all about making memories. My next annual holiday event is the French girl's Christmas Cookie Making Extravaganza where we flour and ice the entire kitchen---yum!
Whaaaa? I like leopard. My crafting skills won me the title of ugly sweater aficionado.
Thinking outside of the (hat) box...My son-in-law in his ugly Christmas hat! Landon was proud~
The trolley from Urban Trollies Inc. in Tulsa was so much fun for young and...well, "older" alike. Great family event for the Christmas season.
The kiddos were mesmerized by the houses we stopped at that were synched up with local radio stations. This was the "Frozen"
movie soundtrack home! They all sang along.
Monty and I did a little makeover a couple of weeks ago on our hall bathroom that was trapped in 1988. I had originally gone with the rose-victorian theme for my daughters, but my poor son ended up having to get ready in the space until he moved out...poor dude. He was a sport.
My husband even surprised me by putting a new state of the art toilet stool in that has the no-slam lid closing technology...it's the little things.
I've been inspired by warm colors---oranges, olive greens and golds lately, so chili pepper for the wall color it was. It gave it a bit of a zen vibe.
Now onto the extra bedroom/music room/work out room. Conquering an aging home one room at a time.
Here are some before and after pics. Try not to laugh too hard at the pre-model. Hey, I've been busy raising kids for the past 26 years!
Say goodbye to 1988-ish. If I just could have stuck it out a couple more years, I'm sure this wall paper would have been chic-vintage.
Entering the modern era. We still have to replace the counter and sink, but I get an "ahhhh" effect now when entering this space instead of "eeek!!!"
I hand painted the filigree swirl pattern at the top. Just used the same color, but in high enamel, so it shows up as a glossy shadow. I did the same thing in my hallway. Subtle, but adds interest.
And Blondie is covering up a small ding in the door---fun way to use an old vintage tee from your glory days~
We replaced the old laminate flooring with this ceramic tile look-alike. Laminate tiles (so easy to install) with grout . Great, inexpensive alternative. And I love my Target bamboo floor mat. Forrest still wants a fuzzy one to step out of the shower onto...I'll have to have on handy under the counter for his visits home.
up a couple Toy flyers from Walmart and let Landon and Clara circle
items for their Christmas wish list. It kept them busy for over 30
minutes. Clara wanted all things PlayDough, and was so excited when she
saw a toy Annabelle and Eddie Jett already had in their toy box.
Landon knew how much each item was...("Ga-Ga this is twenty nine
dollars, etc.) and circled Spider Man stuff as well as
every electronic device on two pages, which included an Iphone, and
X-Box 1---he let me know the X-Box was only "Three hundred and forty
nine dollars." Mrs. Voyles is doing a great job teaching him numbers
and math in Pre-K, as it's already coming in handy for him in daily
I did make sure to inform them that this just a "wish list" and not a binding contract with Santa.
Can't wait for Christmas!
I'm officially skiing on the downhill slope of "Rock Angel." Climax has been written and we are full speed ahead.
I have four lovely teenage girls here in Coweta that have volunteered to read my first 15 chapters and give me much needed feedback. I'm honored they are so excited to read my manuscript thus far.
My sweet, talented 10 year old niece decided that Aunt Jody needed a cover for her book and made one for me as well. I think it is one of the most special things anyone has ever created for me. I died! She captured the essence of "Rock Angel" just by me telling her what the basis of the book was.
It's been a great week. I turn 50 tomorrow, but my life is anything but boring (and half over!) I can't wait to see what the future will bring.
Here's to cutting back on carbs, but eating birthday cake at every opportunity, sore muscles, but being grateful that I can still run (or walk very fast) around the block, an amazing, beautiful, adventurous family,and reading glasses (in lots of fun colors) in every room. Here's to 50!
ROCK ANGEL COVER ART
BY ELLA HARMON
And here's to sweet nieces that make priceless artwork for their Aunties.
This "Rock Angel" cover will be color copied and tucked into my manuscript to go with me everywhere~
Excerpt from Chapter 8
by Jody French
The screaming bell denotes the end of math class and kicks my pre-historic flight or fight instinct into high gear. I jerk in my seat. I'm immediately embarrassed. I have that feeling of when I dream I've gone to school with no shirt on and no one notices except mortified me.
I get so lost in writing that the world around me ceases to exist. The clock stands still when I'm engrossed in composing lyrics or playing a song. I become lost in time and space. My hair's on fire---the world's ending! Who cares, hold on, let me finish this line.
"Good day fine students. You will need to be thoroughly prepared for your quiz tomorrow." Mr. Kroger says in a monotone as though he's addressing an executive board meeting. He's a Brown. He's sporting sensible, brown, gum soled loafers, and a brown button down shirt with a tan leather pocket protector protruding from the heavily starched front pocket.
All work and no play makes poor Brown Mr. Kroger a dull boy.
Had the best day at the Tulsa State Fair watching my young niece show
her pony Lightening Bug in Western Halter and English classes. She did
such a wonderful job in showmanship.
I'll have to say, I was most proud when
little Lightening got spooked in the ring in the last English Class and
bucked slightly, dumping her off in the ring. It could happen to anyone
on a given day, (I've been bucked off my share of horses) but the way that sweet little 10 year old girl held her
composure in the middle of the ring after the incident
was amazing. She popped right up and held her reins, regaining full
control of the situation.
There were a few tears that leaked from her
eyes and smudged her show make-up as we hugged her up after, but in true Cowgirl form she put a smile
on her beautiful little face.
She will be back in the saddle, with her
chaps on, to ride Lightening Bug in tomorrow's Western Classes.
Get back on the bike, get back in the saddle...always dust yourself off and get up!
My new book is coming along nicely, and the unedited stack is growing a bit thicker every week.
I thought I'd share an excerpt this morning from chapter 6; the random thoughts of Emily.
Excerpt Chapter 6
By Jody French
I zone out for
the first five minutes of class. A
clanking train rumbles in the distance and my mind wanders. I sit starring at the back of the
cheerleader’s head in front of me, who has a graveyard of lifeless blonde hairs
clinging to the black turtleneck that’s layered under her red and white
uniform. We call her Perfect Stacy. All the boys think she’s the hottest thing in
Stacy’s a Pink; a proper Miss Priss, always totally put together and drifting around in a dreamy mist of Love’s Baby Soft
perfume. I’m sure it behooves her to
have to wear so much red and black in honor of our school colors. All of her
accessories are various shades of pink, which includes a non-knock-off, fuchsia
Coach purse, cheery Hello Kitty pencils, and a pink, floral, Vera Wang back pack.
She must have
gone to town this morning brushing her voluminous, ash blonde hair before
pulling it up in a sassy ponytail and attaching the ginourmous, scarlet red, Minnie
Mouse size bow. Now, at least 10 strands
of static electric hairs lay squiggled and strewn all about on her back and
shoulders. I decide not to help pick
them off for her---a public service really.
The next ordinary girl sitting behind her in class will feel better
about herself. Stacy’s not completely
perfect after all.
Carlton finishes up her page and asks Matt to read on. Oh dear Lordie---I get to hear his voice. Thank you Mrs. Carlton.
And then Matt
begins to read, with confidence and fluency, from Charles Dicken’s novel, A Tale of Two
Cities. “A wonderful fact to reflect
upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and
mystery to every other.” He continues to
read, but my mind goes on lock down.
I can't pull myself
away from the words. Oh, how I wish that
every human creature was a mystery to
me and had no color. What if I had no
preconceived notions? What would life be
like if I could just discover their personalities with unbiased eyes? My special
ability worked to my advantage at times.
Keep away from the Grays. Connect with the Yellows. Be protected by the Reds, and fall in love
with the Blues.
What if I was
normal? What if I could wear my
sunglasses 24/7, and not close myself off from the “Offensive Oranges”, because
they were sometimes harsh, and tended to reject me. What if I didn’t have to be so dreadfully
afraid of the Grays, and could have pulled the Monster away from Mama the night
of the terrible accident? What was I missing out on because of my gift/ curse?
I wish I could discover the mystery of every human
being like a normal person. I wish I was
KINDNESS IS KING!
My oldest daughter was with her two pre-school age children at Burger King having lunch today, when they were told a random stranger wanted to buy them ice cream when they were finished with their meal.
As you can see, the act of kindness in the form of vanilla swirl cones put two big smiles on these sweet children's faces and made their day.
When my daughter left Burger King, she purchased two cookies and asked the staff to give them to the next two kiddos that came into the restaurant.
I'm happy that the world chose to smile on her family today with an act of kindness, but more than that I'm even happier that she chose to continue the chain of giving, with 4 precious sets of peepers watching and learning.
~That best portion of a man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. – William Wordsworth
ROCK ANGEL---Excerpt from Chapter 5 (unedited~)
by Jody French
School starts in
five minutes. It’ll take us ten to get
there. We hop in Rachel’s red Saturn,
and zip down the side streets hurling toward our institution of learning. Rhianna’s, “Shut Up and Drive” comes on the radio. We crank it up and sing at the top of our
Rachel and I decide on allergy
attacks as our excuse for today’s tardiness. “They’re bad this
time of year Mrs. Chris.” Rachel
informs the high school office attendant who’s blowing on her freshly polished
Mrs. Chris is a Pink, and a pushover, so
we get a sigh and an OK signal from her perfectly manicured, pastel pointer
finger and head to first hour without being awarded tardy slips
I try to keep up
with Rachel, who’s three steps ahead of me as we make our way to our lockers in
A Hall. Rachel’s aura burns brilliantly
over her head like a mini camp fire.
My friend is indeed
a true Red. Red’s are take charge and sure
of their actions. Not much gets in their
way. They are determined and spicy. When they love, they love deeply and passionately,
but if they dislike, they despise. Reds
are like magnificent trees with hollow limbs.
They may look, on the outside, as if nothing can bring them down, but
if the wind blows a bit too hard their fragile roots sometimes fail to hold fast to the
soil beneath them causing them to topple.
Rachel is the
most striking girl in the entire high school. She sticks out in a crowd as one of those
second look girls---the kind of girl a boy will stop and spin 180 degrees to
get a second look as she passes on the street.
She has model qualities and the confidence to go with them. Her clothes, although not expensive and mostly
from Wal-mart or Target, always drape perfectly over her 6 foot one inch
frame. Her creamy skin is flawless, and
her cheek bones are high.
Her looks are
close to perfection, but her home life is just the opposite. I’m sure that’s what helped bind her and I
together like a ball of frayed yarn. My
mother is gone forever, and Rachel’s mother is present in the flesh, but absent
in mind. Her mother is more worried about
the next boyfriend that comes into her life.
It’s a revolving door of losers at Rachel’s house.
She’s an only child
and tells me I’m the sister she never had.
Rachel talks all the time about us leaving our small town after high
school graduation, which she’s calculated down to three months, six days and
eleven hours as of 8:30 this morning.
“New York City---
that’s the place for us Emily! We’ll get an apartment and eat lots of Chinese take out. You’ll become a famous singer, and I’ll hit the
modeling circuit. All of mom’s
boyfriends tell me I should model. We
can do it Em.” Rachel beams. “I’m taking all of my graduation money and
buying a one way ticket.”
I see excitement
mixed with hurt, and a need to flee in her eyes as she plans out our future. But her plan scares me. For now, I’m totally
content with flipping through fashion magazines and singing karaoke with Rachel
on Saturday nights.
I have a whole box
full of songs I’ve written over the years gathering dust under my bed, but I don’t know that anyone would ever want to
hear me sing them.
I'm back at my part-time job as a substitute teacher for Coweta schools, and today was my first day at Heritage Intermediate which is 4th-6th grade.
It was wonderful as usual to see all the smiling faces, get hugs, and hear the occasional, "yeah, it's Mrs. French!" The students never fail to brighten my day with their unfiltered enthusiasm for life.
Today, I was thrilled to see my book Red Dirt Rocker was still in the hands of so many middle school boys. With page markers in place they held it up proclaiming their love for my book baby! I could not have more proud, and honored.
Red Dirt Rocker is part of the Renaissance Accelerated Reader Program, so the students can read it, and take a comprehensive test which includes several questions about the story. Points are compiled and go toward a certain reading goal for each child.
When I set out to write Red Dirt Rocker, I was a bit nervous about writing it in first person from a boy's perspective, but seeing a 6th grader with a Coweta Tiger football jersey on light up as he tells me how much he's enjoying the story sure makes my day!
The kids at school inspired me in a great way to continue plugging away on my new book, Rock Angel . I absolutely cannot wait to finish it so my middle school friends can have it in their hands!
This just made my day perfect! To see my book, with library stickers and worn out pages, on the desks of middle school students, and to hear them say how much they have enjoyed reading it is such an honor! What an inspiration~
It was a beautiful day in Stillwater, on the Oklahoma State University Campus. My husband and I had a wonderful visit with our youngest child, Forrest.
After three weeks of uncontrollable crying outbursts at the site of any mushy commercial, or the sound of every heart-string-tugging song on the radio (do not get me started on the morning I heard Stevie Nicks, "Landslide") I'm finally able to keep it together. I can now walk into the empty bedrooms of my house without feeling like my heart is going to stop beating.
From the moment my children were born, I was M-A-M-A...home room mom in my children's classes, involved in PTA. I coached my daughter's cheer leading squads and basketball teams in grade school, and basically was the loudest in the stands at my son's baseball and football games. I elbowed my way to the front row of all of his concerts, and bumped my way across the country with him, on a tour bus, with a huge plastic tub of school books so as to tutor him through his Freshman year of high school.
All of the jobs I took were conducive to Mom status. I taught pre-school, so my children could be in class with me, or just down the hall. I conducted swimming lessons in my back yard so my munchkins could float around me, and eventually become my paid helpers.
One of my best high school friends became an optometrist, and I went to work for him because he understood how important my children were to me, and always said, "go" so I rarely missed a tip-off, kick-off,music show or tour. It was a smart move making my future boss God Father of my oldest daughter when she was born, huh? Mom strategy 101~
I look back and know how very blessed I was to have my children so close to me. I made mistakes and would have done a few things a bit differently, but I shared in their laughter daily and was there to wipe their tears when they cried.
I realize now, I'll have more time for writing, I can keep my house spotless, the food lasts longer in my fridge, I have less laundry, and can even run around the house naked at will but, the Good Lord knew I would not do so well with this total empty nest thing, so He provided me with 4 precious grand children before total abandonment occurred.
My nest is still nicely feathered and only part-time empty. I can fly away for the day to visit my sweet, free grown up birds, and bring back (gummy) worms for my precious g-baby chicks who are under my wing several days a week.
Perching on a branch to watch my young ones free fall in an unsure manner at first was gut wrenching but, to see them soar in flight on their own is thrilling!
Wonderful visit with the best tour guide on OSU's, Stillwater campus. I brought he and his house mates home made chicken and dumplings and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Once again, Mom Strategy 101,on "How to always be welcome in your grown children's lives"~
My two favorite creations on earth---the Colorado Rockies and my three precious children: Jessica 26, Skylar 25, (they were Irish twins) and Forrest, 21. I thank God for them.
Saw our amazing friend, Noah Henson, on CMT this morning!
So proud of Noah, who is a member of Pillar, and now guitarist for Brantley Gilbert. He's the sweetest guy, wonderful husband and father. He deserves the world!
Still rockin' the dreds. Congratulations Noah!
Our annual Colorado vacation was yet again an amazing adventure. We hiked, natural hot springs hopped, white water rafted, and ate a Jan's in Buena Vista (our favorite local joint) every morning.
The cabin we stayed in at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort didn't have wi-fi, and that was perfectly ok with me. Being off grid gave us a chance to focus totally on the breathtaking mountain views, and family conversations. As a child of the 70's, I appreciate being able to escape the constant need to click on line, and have my cell phone glued to my ear. It was so refreshing to actually see my young adult children's eyes gazing into mine as we visited. So much of the time we only see the top of people's heads as they become sucked into Internet Land, and placate you with, "uh-huh's and "yeahs" while you speak to them.
I was born in Denver, Colorado and the Rockies are one of my favorite places to be on earth. When looking up at the towering mountains, I'm truly humbled at how small I am and how imaginative and loving our God is to have cast his hand down over the land and create such majestic beauty. Standing at an altitude of over 12,000 feet I really do feel closer to Him.
My husband giving this shot of Mount Princeton some very handsome human interest~
My Vanna White moment..."I'd like to buy a vowel---an "I" as in incredible mountain views."
White Water rafting down the Royal Gorge. I'm still finding new bruises on my legs from getting thrown around in the boat---totally worth it. We love the adrenaline rush!
The sky is so clear and the grass so green, this looks like a green screen background~ I'm very blessed to have these three amazing kiddos.
Landon's thumbs up approval of the hot springs kiddie pool on Mount Princeton.
Baby Annabelle at the top of Independence Pass---altitude over 12,000 feet.
Clara Jane feeding the adorable chipmunks at St. Elmo, an old abandoned mining town.
Relaxing in the natural hot springs as the freezing Chalk River runs rushes by just inches away. Heavenly soaks.
Cabin #23 located on the Chalk River
You can discover all of this and so much more at the incredible Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Nathrop, Colorado. You should GO!!
EMPTY ROOMS AND STORAGE BINS STACKED WITH YEARBOOKS
Somebody please tell me this gets easier.
26 years of having one (or two children) sleep in this room, and the
one next to it, this is what I'm left with today. I'm so utterly proud
of all of my children, their accomplishments, their drive, their
character and faith, but still feel like a piece of my heart has been
ripped out. The baby of the family moved out yesterday, and Monty and I
are officially empty-nesters. I'm so thankful
that my husband worked so hard for all these years to provide for us,
and I could take jobs that let me either bring my children to work with
me, such as teaching pre-school, swimming lessons, etc. or jobs that I
could work 100% around their schedules, sore throats, and fevers (and
music tours ) I'll
never regret not having a bigger house, newer car, etc., because I had
more time with my precious children while they were an arms length away.
My suggestions to young parents is if you can scale back a bit to be
able to spend more valuable time with your kids, do it. I promise, it
will be a blink of your eye and you'll have an empty room with storage
tubs stacked with school yearbooks, one lone guitar hanging on the wall,
and you'll marvel at how fast time goes. On a good note, I think all
the grand babies are coming over to swim today (I see them almost daily)
and I've already talked to Forrest on the phone this morning to answer
several "how do I take care of business?" questions, tell him I love
him, and make plans to bring groceries to his new house in Stillwater.
My goodness, I hope this gets easier~Love my children♥
The power of the written word---even if scrawled on a scrap of paper, can truly hug the heart of someone in need.
KIND WORDS ON A SCRAP OF PAPER
My daughter Skylar had our little Eddie Jett in the waiting room at the hospital where he was to have several tests yesterday. Most six year old's would get antsy, but Eddie Jett could absolutely not comprehend why in the world those four, boring, waiting room walls were containing his free spirit for so long.
1p36-er's do a lot of waiting in hospitals, and it's virtually impossible to explain to them why they are there or what's about to happen, so needless to say it's most always a very stressful situation.
Poor Eddie Jett was having a major melt-down after an hour of waiting, and no amount of "book reading" could calm him. He has an incredible memory, and Skylar kept having to pull him back away from the exit as he remembered the fountain in the lobby where he got to throw some pennies in for luck last week as he was leaving the hospital. He was on a non-covert mission to make a break from the waiting room to chunk change in the cascading water, and each time he was denied he protested louder and louder.
Skylar was sweating bullets and felt like she was about to get voted off the island by the rest of the folks waiting patiently for their names to be called. She finally resigned to letting Eddie make a run for it for a few minutes down the hallway. As she headed for the door with her fearless, tiny leader a lady handed her a note very matter-of-factly, without even looking up from her magazine.
Sky sat on a bench outside the waiting room and read the note. The woman had scrawled a note of inspiration and admiration on a scrap of paper from the cross word puzzel book she was working on. Skylar had tears running down her face as she snapped back to the moment to retrieve Eddie who was trying to make a run for it on the elevator that he just summonsed by pushing the UP button---he LOVES elevator buttons.
The words that were written made Skylar's week. They truly warmed her heart and gave her an extra muscle in the mama department that afternoon. She gained strength from the simple words that the kind woman in the stuffy waiting room wrote down and handed her.
Never, ever underestimate the power of writing, saying, or doing something simple for someone in need. It just might be what the Dr. ordered for the day, and heal their spirit.
Kind words written on a scrap of paper to a mama in need~
Mr. Eddie on the waiting room phone (that Skylar had to un-plug) trying to call a cab to come pick up from this non-sense! He's a trooper, and his mama is amazing~
I was so proud to see one of my girlfriends that I graduated from high school with, tried the recipe I shared for the chocolate zucchini cake!
Trina Moore, from Tulsa, sent me a pic of her chocolate delight. She used cream cheese frosting on hers instead of chocolate. It looks amazing, and she was as proud as I was that her husband and children didn't even taste the "good for you" zucchini squash in it!
Trina's chocolate zucchini cake with cream cheese icing~ I had to post this to my "Baker's Brag Book club!"
I took my husband to see, "The Rise of the Planet of
the Apes" tonight. He was skeptical because, "he doesn't like to look at
monkeys---especially their butts." He did enjoy it in the end though, (no pun
intended) as there were no baboons in the making of the film.
amazing effects, and the story line/lesson was thought
provoking and intense. We give it two non-opposable thumbs up!
My family loved the Neil Young inspired "cinnamon" zucchini cake so much, I decided to make Monty's favorite...chocolate (with zucchini, of course.) I still have 4 or 5 beautiful zucchini squash in the fridge from before the squash bug plight. This was an amazing way to incorporate them into a recipe!
Once again, this delicious chocolate cake has 2 heaping cups of grated zucchini in it. Monty said he would have never known had I not told him. The grated zucchini just makes the cake moist and tender.
Shhhhh...this is a great recipe to sneak some veggies in for the kiddos.
Here it is: And you don't even have to break out the mixer for this one!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake~
1/2 c. oil (vegetable, canola or coconut oil)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 heaping cups grated zucchini
2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees--
Mix oil,egg, sugar, vanilla, milk and zucchini in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix by spoon---batter will be fairly thick.
Spoon into well greased and floured 13x9 or two 9 inch round cake pans, and bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes.
While cake is baking make this decadent recipe for home made chocolate frosting!
Decadent Chocolate Frosting
2 3/4 c powder sugar
6 tblsp cocoa powder
6 tblsp softened butter
5 tblsp evaporated milk
1 tsp pure vanilla
Mix all ingredients by hand in mixing bowl. This makes a fudge-like frosting that is to die for!
Cool cake completely, frost and consume with less guilt than if it didn't have veggies in it~Enjoy!!!
What child would balk at scarfing down this piece of chocolate cake? Hide the zucchini first...
~RED DIRT ROCKER~
Red Dirt Rocker may be void of brooding vampires, werewolves, or a supernatural twist, but if you're in the mood for a young adult book that sits you in the shotgun seat for an exciting and inspirational rock-n-roll ride along side a young musician from a little country town, then this story is for you!
Thank you for visiting my blog, and for your interest in my Y/A book, Red Dirt Rocker. I'm a mama of three wonderful children, and a Ga-Ga of five of the sweetest grand kiddos this side of the Mississippi. My love for working with teens in the capacity as a substitute teacher in our small town of Coweta, Oklahoma, and my passion for my son, Forrest Frenches, music lead me to pen my first book, Red Dirt Rocker. The story is inspired by my son, his life in our small town community, and his big city adventures as an MTV, Capital Record recording artist at the ripe old age of 15!
My husband and I had the great privileged of touring part time with Forrest as he jaunted around the world as lead singer and guitarist for a teen rock band from the mid-west---Four 14 and 15 year old's fresh from the farm. Their adventures included, trips to New York city where they played on the TRL stage at MTV before big wig entertainment executives, performing the half time show before 65,000 football fans at a Dallas Cowboy football game, and ultimately traveling to Stockholm, Sweden (where Forrest's great-great-great grand father was from) to open for the one and only legends of rock, KISS!
So, if you're in the mood for an inspirational, follow-your-dreams story then Red Dirt Rocker is your paper back!
I am currently up to my elbows, mid-manuscript, in my new book, Rock Angel, which I hope to have ready for publishers this winter. Now, this will be the one for young readers to snap up if they want a peek into the world of rock, seasoned with a supernatural spin. The main character, Emma, is a young musician with a troubled past and a broken memory that haunts her. Emma also has a secret. She sees, wafting just above every person's face she meets, a colored aura which gives her an instant insight into their souls. Is it a blessing or a curse?
I can't wait to lead you into Emma's insightful and mysterious world, with the debut of my next book, Rock Angel.
Thank you again for visiting my blog. I sincerely hope you come back to visit. I post up-dates on Forrest's music, and little snippets, from mine and my family's lives as well as DIY projects, recipes, etc..
As for Forrest, he is currently enrolled at OSU in Stillwater, Oklahoma and is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering---I know...how did that happen? Rocker to math nerd? But, he's taking his mic and guitar with him as he moves into Garth Brook's old house in the college town and plans to gig for extra money to help with his college education. Who knows where life will take the Red Dirt Rocker?
Many blessings, and a huge thank you to Debdatta Sahay, for her Blog Roll! https://twitter.com/b00kr3vi3ws?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=b00kr3vi3ws&utm_content=489391567032303616---she is the best!
Be sure to turn on some inspirational music and follow your dreams! You're never too young...you're never too old~
Meeting with rock legends KISS!
Just a small town boy---playing rock-n-roll
Opening for KISS in Stockholm, Sweden
On stage with rocker Brett Michael's at Rock-lahoma
"Ain't Nothin' but a Good Time!" Brett has a huge heart
And here's to country living at it's finest~
We love our small town of Coweta, Oklahoma
Forrest with one of his favorite mentors of rock-n-roll--
Snake Sabo of Skid Row
Speaking of those lycopene rich lovelies, here is the best way that I've found to eat a garden fresh tomato.
This isn't exactly a "Rock-n-Recipe." Let's just hum the old tune, "You Say "Tomato," I Say "Tomato" to this one.
First start with fresh garden tomatoes and a big pot of boiling water~
Next, place said tomatoes into the scalding water for 20-30 seconds until their skins begin to split a bit---everyone into the hot tub!
Then run them under cold water--the skins just slip right off. Slice them and place in fridge until co-00ld. Salt...pepper...devour!
Well, despite my vigilance with the Dawn dish soap and vinegar spritzing of my squash plants, I believe the squadron of squash bugs may be winning the war. But the good news is, I have a bumper crop of the most gorgeous tomatoes.
My dad is a farmer and I look back to the images of him plowing fields, combining, and coming home with Choska bottom soil ground into his blue jeans and work shirts. I've always admired his passion for working the earth and producing crops, but struggling to fight off the plight of the squash bugs sure gives me a whole new respect for what he does on a grander scale!
Here's to farmer's tans and bumper crops of vine ripe tomatoes!!!
My first sunflower of the season
The Coweta Farmer's/Street Market was great fun Saturday morning.
Skylar and I set a table up to promote SkyTan mobile tanning, and I bought two thorn-less blackberry bushes, three fried pies, (peach and apricot heaven in a crust) three glitter Thunder coozies, and a Superman pillow for Eddie Jett all for under $30.00.
The weather here in Oklahoma has been unseasonably cool, so it was a mild July morning---perfect weather to set up shop in the great outdoors, and peruse other folks wares.
The Market will be the first Saturday of every month on Sycamore St. in downtown Coweta, from 7:30-12:00. Come on down next month and pick up some treasures and prize tomatoes!
Forrest has a new mini-roadie. Eddie Jett loves music!
I ran into a beautiful friend that moved several years ago. Traci McDaniel was in town visiting. She was Forrest vocal coach when he first began singing. Traci has the voice of an angel, and is getting back into the music business soon---very talented lady. We're so excited for her!
MUSIC AND MEALS~
I haven't done a rock-n-recipe in a while---today it was Neil Young and Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.
"What does Neil Young have to do with cake?" you might ask. "Cinnamon Girl," of course! I hope you get a chance to try this amazing cake, and don't forget to put your Neil on. "I could be happy for the rest of my life with a...(cinnamon cake.)" You know...artistic license and all~
Here's the recipe below. I used fresh zucchini from my garden. It is the most tender, moist and delicious cake. It's very similar to a carrot cake. You certainly don't taste the veggies in it---great way to sneak in some extra nutrition for the kiddos too. Now to keep all fingers out of it until Father's Day dinner tomorrow after church.
ZUCCHINI CAKE WITH CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE ICING~
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
3 C. Flour
3 C. Granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
Mix dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients below and mix well with spoon.
1 1/2 C. vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini (un-peeled) I like the green bits---adds color and freaks people out when they realize zucchini is one of the main ingredients in this amazing cake.
Pour into 3 8 inch cake pans that have been sprayed well with non stick spray and lined with parchment paper on the bottom.
Bake for approx. 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
Let cakes cool completely and then ice with cream cheese icing (below)
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/2 butter (softened)
3 cups powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
I added 1/2 cup of cinnamon chips into my batter and and pressed extra cinnamon chips around the sides of cake to make it prettier and add some extra cinnamon richness.
A sweet way to get your veggies
Click on the video to enjoy some classic Neil Diamond----goodness, he is an incredible talent!
Over the past couple of weeks, we've seen quite a few rainy days here in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area. Although it seems like it's rained every other day, we're still down for what we actually need. But, the good news is our rainy season here in Oklahoma still has a couple more weeks to go.
The rain is fantastic for my flowers and vegetable garden, but not so conducive to my swimming lesson's schedule. Yesterday, we had overcast skies, a few light sprinkles (which came around our lessons) and temperatures were only in the mid 60's. By the time I was finished with three hours of lessons, my nail beds were numb I was so cold. Most popular phrase for the day, "Mrs Jjjjjjody...I'm cccoooold!!"
Rainy days---not so great for putting children in the water, but my flowers, squash, tomatoes and peppers are loving it!
My lilies finally bloomed this week. Such gorgeous, elegant flowers. This particular plant was a gift (in a decorative foil lined pot) from my son-in-laws mother for having them over last Easter. I planted it in the front bed and can enjoy it each spring now.
Can you spot the zucchini? I'm going to make a zucchini cake with cream cheese cinnamon frosting for Father's Day this weekend. I'll post the recipe and how-to~
Lots of rain, lots, and lots of squash!
It was a wonderful, exhausting and gratifying week. My first session of swimming lessons are under way. Thirty two of the sweetest children are attending lessons for this first two week go around.
We painted our house this week too, thanks to my father-in-law and brother in law helping. It's dark olive, cream trim with my red door and my old side gate is going to get a make-over with the same red antique finish. I'll upload the finished project next week.
Busy, busy summer. Very blessed.
Sweet little Adam was so scared the first day, but I had my assistant snap this pic of him smiling in the water to show his mama that he enjoys lessons.
I love hanging out with little people in the summer time~
What a fun gathering we had this weekend for what turned out to be the final Thunder game of the season. We fired up the game on a big outdoor screen, and gathered our lawn chairs around, but unfortunately our Oklahoma team's ride to the final two ended Saturday with a loss to the Spurs in over time.
The mood definitely dropped for a few minutes after the close game, but we quickly recovered, manned the bean bag lawn toss game, and Forrest pulled out the guitars---highlight of the night,"Simple Man," sung by Ty and Forrest at our cozy back yard concert.
Win, loose or draw, you gotta keep singing. Can't wait until next season to root our Oklahoma Thunder on again!
Forrest and Ty lifted our defeated, competitive spirits with a great outdoor concert Saturday night after the Thunder's last game of the season.
We're addicted to the bean bag toss game affectionately known as "Corn Hole." You should have heard the snicker I got from the young sales guy at Dick Sporting Goods when I called to ask if they had the game in stock!
Today's project---paint the munchkin picnic table fire engine red!
No more splinters in the "tails". The g-babies are going to love it. Thanks again for the old furniture donation Aunt Shannon. It'll be perfect for our backyard cook-out tomorrow night.
Project start---an old donated children's picnic table, splinters and all.
Project finished. I used fire engine red and rubbed on a dark antique glaze. Even Queen Carmex the cat loves it. No more splinters in the tails!
Forrest suggested we go to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks yesterday, and I'm so glad we did. The exhibits were just breath taking, featuring marine life from deadly stonefish, to brilliant, electric blue, and eye popping yellow tropical fish, to beavers and otters that give a fun show as they dive and flip under water.
Most impressive was the bull shark exhibit which is the largest collection of bull sharks in the United States---fifteen in all! To stand under the acrylic tunnel and watch the beautiful sharks swim gracefully overhead was just an incredible experience. Surprisingly peaceful, and very educational.
If you're a local Oklahoman, or get to the Tulsa-Jenks area it's well worth the while to take a couple hours to visit The Oklahoma Aquarium. You might even get to pet some baby sharks and stings rays like we did!
WELCOME TO COWETA, OKLAHOMA!! Love our town...this is the school parking lot!
Here's to the farmer that puts food on our table~and visits their children on the last day of school!
I made a dollar while out working in my yard today! Anyone else still finding Easter Eggs in their garden?
My Amethyst Beauty clematis is sure pretty this time of year too!
Sometimes you just gotta go fast and get a little wind in your curls~
Forrest and Eddie Jett---always wear your seat belts!
Thanks to cousins Ella and Avery my grand daughter Clara Jane inherited their old vanity, or "banity" as she calls them.
I re-did it this morning in a shabby-chic style to go with her adorable, folk-artsy bedroom.
I wiped down the old piece, (lots of red lipstick smeared here and there) then Kilzed it. I painted it a Robin's Egg blue, then antiqued the finish with my trusty walnut stain, and gave it two coats of polyurethane so our little Diva's new shades of lip gloss can be wiped away with ease. I finished the stool with the same shade of blue and added a warm orange floral center with highlight to go with all the sweet birds and flowers that decorate her room.
All of Clara's princess gear will fit nicely in the big drawers...I started her out with a set of play pearls. Every Princess should have her own "banity."
The old vanity with a coat of Kilz started---great to cover all the lipstick stains and fingernail polish.
Princess Clara's refurbished vanity---let the beauty begin!
While I had the paint out, I gave these mini school chairs that I picked up for $5.00 a fresh coat of paint and a sunflower each too, of course---Skylar's going to put them out in her backyard for her mini's~perfect for toddlers.
According to my four year old grand son, I should be collecting social security. I love hanging out with little people!
We made Kool-Aid Play-dough again this afternoon and it was marvelous and tropical punch-y.
It literally takes less than five minutes to make. The kids love it.
Here's the recipe: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup salt, 1 tblsp. vegetable oil, and one packet any flavor Kool-Aid. Just boil the water and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir together, knead and play!
Even the toddlers can help! Clara Jane and Landon were thrilled with the process and results. It made a really great birthday cake! (For my "67th" Birthday according to my monkey grand son)~
Oh boy, oh boy! It's finally that time of year again. I'm booking in for swimming lessons that will begin June 3rd!
I'm so excited to have my fishies back in the water. I made the announcement I was taking students for the summer schedule this morning, and I've already booked over 25 young ones in for lessons.
Teaching children the skill of swimming, and more importantly water safety, is one of my favorite things to do---extremely rewarding.
Skylar will have her Sky Tan booth set up, so you busy mamas can stay and get a gorgeous Sky Tan-spray tan while your kiddos swim with me!
What a fun summer we have planned.
*And please remember as you travel to the lake, river, ponds and open up your pools this season to watch your children like a hawk. Supervision is the biggest tool for drowning prevention---big groups and family cookouts can be one of the most difficult times to keep an eye on your child, because you may think someone else is watching them. Never take your eyes off a child where a body of water is present, and talk to them about water safety every day!
Mrs Jody is ready for her fishies to return !
Prayers extended to those in Quapaw, Oklahoma, as well as those families in Arkansas that were affected by the tornadoes that tore through those areas yesterday.
It's that time of year here in Oklahoma---I'm so grateful for spring, but also keeping watch on the skies for wicked weather. My daughter is a fanatic when it comes to tornadoes, and luckily keeps us all alerted on a minute by minute basis if shelter is needed.
Be safe all!
A very ominous image of the twister that tore through parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas yesterday.
Prayers for those injured, and for the rebuilding of schools, homes and businesses damaged.
I was born in Colorado and raised in Oklahoma. Of course, I have to have a buffalo in my house.
I couldn't resist this guy yesterday. The painting spoke to me. He is now residing in my hallway.
Here's to the wild, open plains of the past and the mighty buffalo.
He looks right at home in my newly painted, orange entry way. Maybe it was my Indian heritage speaking to me, but I just couldn't leave him behind.
I had such a blessed Easter---the forecast called for rain, but we didn't receive a drop.
So thankful for my faith and my family.
I hope everyone has a fantastic Monday. I'm off to sub and go love on some Jr. High students.
These are my precious blessings---Jessica, Forrest and Skylar~
Papa doling out the big prizes for the Easter Egg hunt~
Look what we got!!! Landon and Clara Jane~
Princess Annabelle eating a chocolate---very daintily, I might add~
Eddie Jett conned Papa into pulling him around in the red wagon for the hunt! He's showing off his chocolate---you can tell by his sweet face, he's a fan!
My talented niece, Ella, did an incredible job face painting---Little artist
My brother, Greg, was the "Egg Cracking" competition winner! His wife brought the tradition to us from Louisiana. It's going to be an annual event at the Frenches Easter from now on!
I finally got around to painting my old coffee and side tables in my living room. My grand son Landon uses the coffee table for a race car track.
I'm glad I didn't dump them. I painted the tables with a regular old stain latex paint (a good way to use up paint from all those old paint cans accumulating in your garage.) The top, I painted light olive, the legs black charcoal, and then I antiqued them with a walnut stain by just rubbing in on and off with an old cotton cloth. I then painted a couple coats of polyurethane over the finish to Hot-Wheel proof it!
Before---the table tops were worn, but the structure was sturdy. Time to re-d0.
Kilz and painted and ready to sit there and look pretty again, awaiting a Hot Wheel and a toddler with a need for speed.
I think the olive and the charcoal black goes great together.
Now go find an old piece of furniture and give it a new life---a very satisfying experience.