Balsamic Ginger Chicken One-Pan Dinner With Roasted Veggies

One Pan Dinners

With school back in session, it’s time once again to look for ways to cut time in the kitchen and still come up with a healthy, tasty dinner.  Crock pot meals are great, of course, but the one-pan dinners baked in the oven are also great time savers.

I like them because the veggies retain a flavor and texture of their own.

The key to a tasty one-pan dinner is the  marinade. You can whip up the marinade the night before, easily, and marinate your meat in the fridge overnight. But even if you forget to do that, the meat will still be tasty if you marinate it for a half hour or so.


Other veggies to consider: string beans, onions, yellow potatoes, eggplant, peppers.

Then all you have to do is chop up the veggies of your choice, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on seasoning and roast them alongside your main dish.

I used asparagus spears, red potatoes, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.


Balsamic Ginger Chicken 


The ingredients in my ginger balsamic chicken recipe meld together in a delightful way. Balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard,  and ginger along with other spices meld together delightfully. This easy dinner can be ready in 45 minutes. 30 minutes to cook, and 10 minutes prep time.

Oh yeah, and the clean-up afterward is a snap.  Hence the name one pan dinner!

Ginger Balsamic Chicken Recipe


  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBS ginger
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried parsley
  • olive oil
  • assorted chopped veggies


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken
  3. Marinate at least 30 minutes
  4. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray(I use the olive oil based one)
  5. Place the marinated chicken on one side and the veggies on the other
  6. Drizzle  veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.
  7. Bake 30 minutes

DIY Rustic Flower Vase

Rustic Flower Arrangements

All of those lovely wildflowers we find in the woods and wastelands, spring, summer, and fall make delightful (and free) arrangements to enjoy for entertaining, weddings, and any special event. They are also nice to have around in the house or out on the porch or patio.

A DIY rustic flower vase compliments those wildflowers nicely. And the best part is, they are fun to make, not to mention a good way to reuse and recycle.

Wine bottles, mason jars, baskets, and other containers are popular items to use for DIY wildflower arrangements .

Here is another idea for a rustic DIY flower vase. It’s pretty, easy to do, and totally rustic. All you need is a big empty coffee can, hot glue, acrylic paint, and a raffia or burlap ribbon.

DIY Rustic Flower Vase

Gather twigs and prune them roughly to  the size of the coffee can.


Paint the coffee can brown with spray paint. 


When the paint drys, glue the twigs around the can.


Add a burlap or raffia bow, and you have a classy looking rustic DIY vase!


Roasted Cabbage Wedges: Versatile Side Dish


Roasted Cabbage “Steaks”

Are you looking for a snazzy, quirky new side dish? Roasted cabbage wedges or cabbage “steaks” as they are sometimes called may just be it. Fresh cabbage is sliced into wedges and brushed with olive oil, rubbed with crushed garlic, and sprinkled with Kosher salt and cracked pepper. They are roasted on a cookie sheet in a medium oven.

Roasted cabbage wedges is a very versatile side dish. It will compliment any meal from beans and taters to gourmet cuisine. But the best news is, roasted cabbage wedges are nutritious, inexpensive and delicious.

Eat More Cabbage


Cabbage is a healthy cruciferous veggie like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and greens. There are three varieties: green, red, and savoy. “White” cabbage, common at the supermarket is a very light green cabbage. There are different varieties of Chinese cabbage. In the western world, Napa cabbage prevails. It is also rich in nutrients.

Tasty as roasted garlic wedges are, you get the most health benefits from steamed, sauteed, or raw cabbage. If you are interested in cabbage’s cholesterol-lowering benefits, eat some steamed cabbage at other meals. By steaming, the fiber can bind together better with the bile acids in your digestive tract. This makes it easier for the bile acids to be excreted. It is this process that lowers cholesterol.

All varieties of cabbage contain nutrients called glucosinolates, which have been shown to help prevent human diseases. Red, green, and savoy cabbages contain different patterns of glucosinolates, so for the maximum benefits eat all three. All also have significant amounts of polyphenols and serve as anti-inflammatories.

Not surprisingly, red cabbage has the most dietary benefit. Its rich, red color shows that it is rich in anthocyanin polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.

If that’s not enough, cabbage is a good source of vitamin C, Manganese and other goodies like fiber.

Ways to Eat Cabbage


As mentioned, the healthiest way to eat cabbage is by steaming it. Raw is next. It also goes through the fiber binding process that steamed cabbage does, making it second best at lowering cholesterol.

Cabbage can be sauteed in healthy oils like olive oil. Try using it along with other veggies in a stir- fry. Then there are cabbage soups and cabbage rolls. Raw cabbage is used in tons of salad recipes, like my delicious broccoli salad recipe. And don’t forget the coleslaw and sauerkraut.

But for now, try roasted cabbage wedges with just about any dish.

DIY Arrangements Using Fall Wildflowers


Simple Beautiful Wildflower Arrangments


A stroll through a park, meadow or forest is a wonderful way to unwind and get in touch with the cycle of life. Blue skies and vibrant colors on an autumn will inspire you to spice up your traditional decor this year with your imagination and what you find on your walks.

The daily grind of life often smothers our creative thinking process. Creativity is often defined as using resources available to you to produce original material and ideas. While it is resourceful to use other people’s ideas, you can gain self-satisfaction from seeing your own ideas come to life.

If you live in an area with a variety of deciduous trees that change color, collect some pretty ones and take a close-up look. You will see that most are spotted, two-toned or have a “tie-dyed” look. Take a bag with you so you can pick up the best specimens. I’ll bet you can come up with a creative way to display them. Just remember that if you are going to use them in an arrangement they will dry and crumble in a day or two so be prepared to show your display right away.

Goldenrod is a prevalent wild lower across North America that showcases in the Fall. There are several varieties, and they take the rap for aggravating allergies when it is actually ragweed that is the bad guy.


Using Goldenrod in Arrangements


A big bouquet of goldenrod alone in a glass container makes a tasteful centerpiece. Add a ribbon of Autumn colors or designs if desired. Depending on the region where you live, the fields are rich with an assortment of Fall wildflowers. Finding and identifying them can be a fun activity as well.

Be creative as you look around your particular region. I found that leftover blackberries dried on a fading vine added interest to my bouquets along with some yellowing wild grapevine. Learn to include what is indigenous to your region.

After your walk, look around your home for glass vases, old watering cans, and other containers to creatively display your finds. Acorns seed pods, red berries, small pine cones and other natural objects can be placed in glass jars to display.

Fall Art Projects


When I was a child we pressed our leaves between sheets of wax paper with a warm iron to help preserve them. Nowadays we can take this process a step further with clear Contact brand plastic sheeting. A great project to do with kids is to create leaf place mats for Thanksgiving.


Other ideas for preserved leaves include mobiles or sun catchers. Follow directions for making a mobile and use your leaf cut-outs. Purchase small suction cups at a craft store and glue to your leaf cut-outs for some unique suncatchers. How impressed your guests will be to see real leaves as sun catchers in a sunny window!


Be Creative,Be Green


What I have attempted to relate by sharing my projects is that by opening up to the natural resources around us we can help our creative juices flow. I have often found it satisfying to use others’ ideas as a springboard to come up with personalized projects.My projects will not look exactly like theirs because I have used my own resources. And unlike plastic decorations, natural items are mostly free and always a sustainable choice. Being a good steward to Earth is one more thing to feel good about. Happy Autumn!

You may also like this idea for a simple, sustainable wreath.


Using The Calendar For Teaching Basic Math Concepts

Elementary Math Using the Calendar

A calendar is a great tool for teaching basic skills to elementary age children. Walk in any elementary classroom and you will likely see a colorful, seasonal calendar attached to a bulletin board and surrounded by a variety of teaching aids. A table may be added to the area to hold manipulatives, games and task cards, making it double as a math learning station.

You don’t have to have a classroom to use a calendar for teaching math. Parents, homeschoolers, and tutors can use any calendar as long as it is a monthly one and not a daily display calendar. Activities vary from grade level to grade level. The following teaching suggestions are divided into primary (PreK-2 grade) and elementary ( 3rd-5th grade). They will help meet the math teaching standards in all states.

Primary Grade Calendar Math

For really young students, like pre-k through grade one, or older, disabled students, the teacher will want to build the calendar together with the class.

Number Recognition

On the first day of the month, review the names of all 12 months and introduce the new month. Pass out number cards (1-30, 31 or 28) and have students bring the correct one to pin on the calendar.

Ordinal Numbers

Calendar time is the perfect opportunity to introduce students to ordinal numbers and their endings. Each day, demonstrate how to write the date as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on.

Number Sequencing

Use the calendar to practice skip counting by 2s and also to talk about numbers that come before and after. If today is the 22nd of the month, ask what yesterday’s date was. What will be tomorrow’s date?

Time sequencing


Number Riddles

Increase children’s number sense with number riddles each day. Vary in difficulty as time goes by. Examples:

  1. I come after the number 3. What number am I?
  2. I am the sum of this Tuesday and next Wednesday.What number am I?
  3. I am the number of the 2nd Tuesday this month. What number am I?
  4. It is important for children to develop a sense of time. Use calendar math time to learn the order of the months and the days of the week. Look for songs and rhymes to use for teaching the order of the days and months.

    Question students about what month comes before and after the current month. This is a good time to talk about seasons also.

    Vary the difficulty of questions as time goes by, challenging students to think.

    1. What is the date one week from today?
    2. What month will it be two months after Christmas?
    3. What was the date two weeks ago from yesterday?

    Place Value


    Beside the calendar, place a ones, tens hundreds pockets chart. You can even use three plastic cups stapled on the bulletin board. Be sure to use the labels ones, tens and hundreds. Beginning on the first day of school, the teacher shows the calendar math helper how to place a straw or Popsicle stick in the ones pocket.

    One the 10th day of school, it is time to “bundle” the straws or sticks with a rubber band. Every 10 days from here on, you will bundle and add to the tens pockets. The kids will be thrilled when there or 10 bundles of 10s on the hundredth day of school.


    A calendar makes the perfect number line for simple addition and subtraction. Show students how to add problems like 6+ 9 by starting on day six and jumping forward nine days.

    Likewise, subtract by jumping backward in time. What was today’s date six days ago? what number sentence shows that operation?

    Counting Money

    Counting money is a lot of fun using calendar math. Each day is a penny, five days a nickel . Trade two nickles for a dime on the tenth day.

    The 25th day of school is a quarter. Trade two quarters for a half-dollar on the 50th day of school. Use large paper coins to display the money in a piggy bank pinned to the calendar math bulletin board. So if it is the 62nd day in school, for example, you will have a half-dollar, a dime,and two pennies.

    After 99 cents, kids will be thrilled to add a paper dollar for the 100th day of school.



    Students can help the teacher create a pictograph or bar graph depicting the number of rainy days, sunny days, etc.


    Elementary Grade Calendar Math


    For older students, days can be added one at a time at the calendar circle times. Although some of the objectives are the same, skills become more advanced with each grade level. They still love counting the days of school and modeling the ones, tens, and hundreds, but now, they will use the day to write decimals and percentages.

    Number Sense


    Patterning is an important skill that will help students later on with algebraic concepts. Some teachers like to use seasonal symbols like pumpkin, ghost bat. Others just use colors. You can use geometric shapes and help students identify them, covering an important geometry standard.

    Use the calendar time to learn about odd and even numbers and prime and composite numbers. Tell whether each day is odd or even. Let the calendar math helper write these in the correct place.

    Have students tell whether each day is a prime or composite number. The 13th of the month is prime because its only factors are one and 13. Is October 25th a prime or composite day? Composite, because it has 5, 1 and 25 as factors. On “composite days”, have students create factoring trees as part of their morning work.

    Students can use the calendar for harder skip counting like 3s, 4s, and 6s.

    Place Value

    Show students how to write “big numbers” by turning the month into a number. For example May 25th, 2014 would be written as 5,252,014. Whatever the date is, start on the right and place commas after each set of 3 numbers. December 22, 2016, would, therefore be 12, 222,013.

    Have a place value pocket chart from ones to ten millions pinned to the calendar math bulletin board. The calendar math helper can place number cards in the pouches to show the date.

    Use ones, tens and hundreds for counting the days in school. Students can write these as decimals and percentages. For example, the 82nd day of school would be written as .82 and 82%. The 102nd day? 1.02 which is one whole and 2 tenths., or one whole and 2 percent.


    Students in later grades are expected to be able to perform column addition and regroup. Pick three or four days and have students add them together. For example, say, add last Wednesday’s date, today’s date and next Thursday’s and Friday’s date together.

    Use the calendar for teaching fractions. For example, the 6th of December would be written as 6/12ths. After introducing simplifying fractions, a student could show how to reduce this to 1/2. Some days will be improper fractions. For example,February 7th would be 7/2. Students can divide to get the mixed number 3 and 1/2. December 12th will be 12/12 and makes the whole number, one.

    Counting Money

    Counting money is pretty much the same for all grade levels. This skill can be parallel to place value and decimals. One way to make counting money more complex it to add days together. For example, what is the total of the 160th day and the 161st day. Students would add $1.60 and $1.61.

    Some teachers of older students use thousands and add them to a depositor each day. For example, the 1st is $100 dollars, and the 10th is $10,000 dollars. Likewise, the 20th is $20,000. Add another thousand to the depositor on the next day, the 21st.

    Time Sequence

    Again, time sequence and awareness of time is important for elementary students as well. Make it more difficult with more complex tasks.

    1. You have a dental appointment 2 weeks from next Tuesday. What is the date of your dental appointment?
    2. We started our Social Studies unit five weeks ago from yesterday. What date did we begin the unit?
    3. What will be the date nine months after Christmas day? What month is five months before December?



Healthy Smoothie Recipes For Kids: The Funny Face Gang


Food Research and Healthy Eating

Do you remember Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Goofy Grape, Lefty Lemon and the rest of the Funny Face Drink mix gang? They were powdered drink mixes introduced by the Pillsbury company in 1964. Promoted as a sugar-free, artificially sweetened beverage, they were designed to be highly appealing to children.

The Funny Face gang gave Kool-Aid man some stiff competition until the drink mixes were pulled off the shelf in 1968 by the FDA. Due to advancing food science and research they were declared unsafe for being sweetened with cyclamates. The company turned to saccharin with no luck. Finally, in 1972 they added vitamin C to a “just add sugar” beverage mix but Kool-Aid won in the end and the Funny Face gang is no longer available.

Health Benefits of Antioxidants 

Advances in food science and research exploded into the latter part of the 20th century and continues to grow in producing valid and reliable results from research. For some time now, health organizations have recognized and promoted eating lots of fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant-rich properties.

Thanks to research we know that anti-oxidants, as the term implies, attacks damaging oxidation in animal tissue. They contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes (proteins that assist in chemical reactions) thought to prevent the development of several chronic diseases including the dreaded “c word,cancer.

In response to modern food research findings, we would like to introduce the Super Foods Smoothies For Kids gang: meet Strawberry Kiwi Karl, Pineapple Mango Maggie, Coconut Chocolate Chip Charlie, Banana Blueberry Buster and Cherry Vanilla Vanessa.

Smoothies are very healthy and kids can make them easily. Provide the ingredients and they can make them with minimal help from adults. The only kitchen equipment needed is a blender. For safety, make sure the children understand never to stick hands or utensils into the blender while it is churning. It is best that the adult cuts up the fruit for the smoothies

Best Yogurt to use in Smoothies


All Super Food Smoothies For Kids are made with Greek yogurt. Because Greek yogurt has been strained to remove liquid whey, which contains lactose and sugar, it is an excellent smoothie choice for the lactose intolerant. It’s significantly higher protein content keeps kids full longer helping them avoid later snacking on high fat and sugar foods. It gives smoothies a creamier texture than regular yogurt that children will prefer.

All yogurt contains a higher amount of carbs when sweetened with sugar. Super Foods Smoothies For Kids are sweetened with honey. Although honey is sugar in another form, it contains some trace minerals that sugar doesn’t. Since it has a higher sweet taste concentration it will take less honey than sugar to sweeten, making them more palpable to kids.

Comparison Of Regular And Greek Nonfat Yogurt
Nutritional Unit
Regular Yogurt
Greek Yogurt
9 grams
15 to 20 grams
13 to 17 grams
5 to 8 grams
30 percent of recommended daily intake
20 percent of recommended daily intake
0 grams
0 grams
12 grams or more
2.5 to 3 grams
Based on 6-ounce servings

Best Recipe for Greek Yogurt Smoothies

The best basic recipe for smoothies using Greek yogurt calls for 3/4 cup of yogurt, 1 and 1/2 cups of fruit, 1/4 cup of water and 3 to 4 ice cubes. Sweeten with one tablespoon of honey, Use less with blueberries thanks to their natural sweetness. Blend all ingredients in a blender.

Fruit combinations for each Super Food Smoothies For Kids are listed below with some of the nutritional benefits especially relevant to kids.

Super Smoothies for Kids Characters

For added fun and involvement try having the kids make hats for the smoothie characters. Color and cut out the hats below. Punch two holes with a hole punch. Thread a colorful straw through the hats. Draw faces with Sharpie markers(it washes off of glass easily) for the smoothie characters.Kids will enjoy helping to make garnishes for the smoothies using fruit and skewers.

Use one or more of the fruits listed below, or come up with your own favorite fruit combo and give your Super Food Smoothie a name!

Kiwi Karl


Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. They help boost immunity and reduce inflammation.Strawberries are associated with better eye health and help fight cancer causing free radicals.


Kiwi fruit is thought to help reduce wheezing and coughing at night especially benefiting children with asthma.

Pineapple Mango Maggie


Pineapples contain Bromeliads that help with digestion, speed recovery of injury and reduce swelling.


Mango fruit is a source of Glutamine acid which has been shown to be of use to boost memory and improve concentration in children.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Charlie


Dark Chocolate dark is very rich in poly phenols which are good news for chocolate lovers. Poly phenols are known to be inhibitors of the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.


In addition to fiber, vitamins and minerals scientist are discovering certain medicinal benefits for coconut. Some of the research indicates enzymes in coconut may kill the flu virus, attack herpes, measles and hepatitis-c among other benefits. Turns out, coconut is a highly nutritious food.


Blueberry Banana Buster

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Blueberries  contain  fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6,and phytonutrients. The fiber in blueberries helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease


Bananas  help maintain healthy blood pressure by decreasing sodium and increasing potassium. Researchers found that children who ate a banana a day had a lower risk of developing asthma.

Cherry Vanilla Vanessa 


Red cherries are packed with anti-oxidants that have anti-inflammatory.Heart health benefits are also linked to cherries.


Vanilla extract can help children’s nausea, help heal wounds and may reduce anxiety.

Use fresh or frozen cherries for the same health benefits

Super Smoothie Gang Templates




Sub Sandwich Recipe: Easy Healthy Pizza Sub

Easy Healthy Pizza Sub


Pizza Recipes

Did you ever know anyone who didn’t like pizza? Probably not since pizza is quite possibly one of the world’s favorite foods. In fact, the Neapolitan, a true Italian pizza is number two on the World’s 50 most favorite foods. With a few simple ingredients, it’s probably the local version of US southern cornbread. A crust made of wheat flour, three kinds of tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and basil makes the Neapolitan a classic.

History of Pizza


Historians tend to credit Greeks rather than Italians with the invention of pizza. This is probably because of their habit of piling different ingredients atop flatbread. The earliest Italian pizzas were either sweet or savory mixtures on flat bread. The word pizza first appeared in Latin text in the town of Gaeta in southern Italy around 997 AD. It was a noun describing an endowment that certain tenant farmers were to present to the town bishop at Christmas and Easter.

A flatbread existed in 16th century Naples called pizza. A poor man’s dish, it was sold in the streets long before it became a recipe. By the 17th century, the flatbreads in early pizzas were covered with a red sauce that was later replaced with tomatoes and perhaps fish. By 1843 toppings were growing more and more diverse. In the late 18th century the culinary art of adding tomatoes to yeast flatbread became commonplace in Naples. Pizza became a tourist attraction much like shrimp creole in New Orleans.

In June of 1889, it is said that a Neapolitan chef created “Pizza Margherita” in honor of the Queen consort of Italy by the same name. It was garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag.

Modern Day Pizza

Pizza got a slow start in the New World, or North America, as European settlers thought tomatoes to be poisonous. The dish was introduced in America in the late 19th century when Italian immigrants arrived in America. Sold on the streets, it became a popular food in cities like NYC, Chicago, and Philly; and the rest they say is history.

Today pizza comes in all sorts of forms and variations. There are mini pizzas, with pizza ingredients atop a halved English muffin, pizza rolls frozen in a box for snacking and pizza salad. Pizza recipes offer everything from gourmet pizzas to healthy pizzas. There are even fruit and dessert pizza recipes.

Try a submarine sandwich pizza for a fun twist on pizza. Use whole wheat sub rolls, low-fat cheeses, fresh chopped veggies and lean ground beef or pork. This healthy mixture will allow you to slip in a few pepperonis and still have a healthy meal.


Ingredients For Pizza Sub


  • Four whole wheat sub rolls
  • 16-ounce jar Italian sauce, pre-made or homemade
  • One 8 ounce package Italian cheese mix, shredded
  • 1/2 cup each red onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, chopped
  • 1 cup ground beef or sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • pepperonis
  1. Lightly toast halved rolls. Spread with Italian sauce
  2. Add pepperonis and ground sausage or beef. Top with cheese mixture.
  3. Sprinkle on onions, peppers, mushrooms and black olive slices.
  4. Top with another layer of cheese, and return to oven until the top layer of cheese melts.

Writing Your First Novel: How To Get Started.

Manual for First Time Fiction Writers

If you decided to learn how to do your own plumbing around the house, where would you start? Assuming, that is, that you didn’t want to attend a trade school? You might consider a self-help book like Plumbing for Dummies, right? That’s just the way I got started on writing my first novel. That, along with some very good bloggers like WD’s Chuck Sambucino and C.S. Lakin, and Kristen Lamb.

I found Writing Fiction for Dummies coauthored by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy very helpful for learning the basics of novel writing. I had my story premise and a list of main characters thought out before purchasing this book. That was helpful, but not totally necessary.

The authors divided the book into four main parts:  Part I, Getting Ready to Write Fiction, Part II, Creating Compelling Fiction, Part III, Editing and Polishing Your Story and Characters, Part IV, Getting Publishing, and a special part V, The Part of Tens (ten steps to designing your story and ten reasons publishers reject your work).

The first four parts are broken into chapters and chapter parts that get very, very detailed. This makes it is quite a comprehensive guide for building your story, your story world, and developing your characters and plot. One of the first things I learned is that to be effective, your story must create a powerful emotional experience in the reader. And my favorite line: The only rule there is in writing fiction is that there are no rules. But, that doesn’t mean just anything goes, either. Rather, there is a first time for anything that works.

Pantsters and Outliners

The authors point out that everyone’s writing paradigm is different falling somewhere between an out-liner, writing by the seat-of-the-pants, and edit-as-you-go. An out-liner takes a top-down approach, outlining the whole story and then writing it. A pantster (a la Stephen King) just writes, outlining and editing  last for a bottoms-up approach.  An edit-as-you-go approach falls in between.

I thought of some of my best ideas while writing my novel pantster-style, but I did edit along the way. I tended to outline chapter-by-chapter rather than the whole thing at once. I don’t think that approach would work for me. I found myself doing what Stephen King describes as “digging and finding fossils and brushing them off carefully to put the whole together.”  I did, however, know how the story was going to end. I found myself making a very rough outline of all of the chapters to end of the book about half-way through my first draft.

Five Pillars of Fiction

This Dummies manual explains the five pillars of fiction: setting, characters, plot, theme, and style.  It explains the seven elements of novels: action, dialogue, interior monologue (thoughts), interior emotion, description, flashback, and narrative summary and how to use each effectively. All of the different points of view that novel writers can choose to use are explained with tips on how to use them. (Third person, past tense is the suggested POV for beginning novelists).

The authors divide the novel-writing process  using a layering approach. The storyline and the 3-act structure is the top layer. The middle layer gets more concise and consists of synopsis, scene list, and scene. Then it really gets helpful with action, dialogue, and all the other elements that make up the lowest level of the story.

One thing that really helped me was the explanation of writing in “clips.” A clip is one paragraph that contains either public or private information. A private clip is information that the POV character does, says, thinks or feels. A public clip is what the POV character sees, hears, smells….think the senses. This gives your reader the uncanny feeling of being in the story.

A section on how to create real and compelling characters was helpful.  The authors suggest conducting character interviews to help you create these imaginary people. Ask questions about how they think, feel, likes, dislikes, how old they are…just brainstorm questions and record what your characters “say.” This really helps you “get into the skin of the character.”

The authors include chapters on how to scrutinize and edit, polishing and submitting your work, and some reasons why novels get rejected. Fiction Writing for Dummies is a very comprehensive resource for writing your first novel.

“Composting” Your Story

I discovered that a story idea is like planting a seed in your mind that grows. That seed is called a premise, and it’s quite simply the answer to the question, “what is your story about?” It is also called the storyline or log line. The best example I can give is the storyline for the movie  Pretty Woman  which goes something like this: A wealthy gentleman falls in love with a hooker he hires for a business trip. I also found out that this very storyline will be of utmost importance when it is time to write your synopsis and query letter. It forms the basis of your pitch should you attend a writer’s conference.

But until the story is told, that seeds sits there and grows with ideas. It is “composting,” and I found this to be the most fun of the whole novel-writing process. I still have the notebook that I used to write down ideas. It includes bits of scenes and conversations that may or may not have made it in the final story. That process, along with my character interviews are the two methods that helped me the most.

And whether or not you get a book deal or self-publish, if you complete enough words (at least 40,000) to make a story, you have accomplished something that not just anyone has, and you should be proud. I know I am.

Organizing The Early Childhood Classroom

The Life of an Early Childhood Teacher


Pay scales for teachers remain a debated issue ranging from merit pay to the traditional yearly step increase. Having teaching experience at every grade level in both general and special education, I have always been a proponent of what I call the “youngest student rule” which states the “younger the student, the greater the pay”. I base my deduction on the fact that the younger the student, the more active supervision they need.

Students in the early grades may have learning disabilities and other problems that have yet to be diagnosed. Maturity can be an issue, and teachers, as well as parents, may overlook a problem just because it is “too soon to tell.” Additionally, budget cuts may increase class size and staff reductions that can really wreck havoc in the life of an early childhood teacher. The teachers assistants can be cut as well as additional support staff. Special area classes such as art, music, and physical education may well be cut making it even more stressful for the EC teacher. Now she must provide that instruction as well as giving up what would have otherwise been valuable planning time.

Early learning is very important. It sets the stage for the entire educational life of the student. An early childhood classroom has some important differences from the elementary classroom organization. A good positive early learning experience provides the basis for life-long learning. That could be another argument for my youngest student pay scale rule.

As I know of no school system that goes by my “early childhood teacher that needs more pay theory” then I shall share some organizational ideas for the early childhood classroom that I hope will help.

Why Stay Organized?


Organization is a key factor in classroom management at any grade level and will ensure smooth operating all through the day. The well-organized classroom fosters improved instruction and promotes better student behavior. If the teacher has to stop and look for materials, then what educators refer to as downtime can occur. Students will not be engaged in the lesson. Therefore, a lack of good instruction can cause behavior problems.

The teacher of young children will make hundreds of decisions during a typical day. Thousands of thoughts will pass through her mind. A well-organized classroom can help a teacher concentrate on the lesson to be taught and the needs of the students.

Organization will mean smoother transitions between activities. Less time will be wasted. Young students will feel more secure and happier. The teacher, in turn, will be less tired at the end of the day and have more energy for herself, her family and for preparing for the next day’s activities. It is a win-win situation!

Take a picture tour of one super teacher’s classroom to spark ideas for organizing an early childhood classroom.

Students start the day with assigned and attractive places for storing personal belongings.


Tables are best for seating in an EC classroom, allowing efficient traffic flow. Carpeted flooring is comfy and cozy for sitting on the floor at circle time.



Four early childhood students work comfortably at a table four by two feet. Names tags are on wide clear tape for durability.


Built-in shelves house lots of plastic storage containers holding everything from crayons to flash cards.Tree shaped sentence strip holder utilizes space well.



A Circular table is a space-saving way to include computers in the EC classroom. Covering bulletin boards with cloth keeps ugly rips and tears away, saving time




Calendar math is a bulletin board, large group instruction area and a learning center all-in-one. Students learn a multitude of math concepts in one place.


Concept maps help organize learning material for young minds.


Horseshoe table is a must for small group instruction. The bags on the table contain individual reading materials that students transport from home to school.


Store math manipulatives in good-sized plastic storage containers. A must have for manipulatives and small learning tools.


Leveled readers neatly displayed in color-coded boxes.


Sturdy wooden Big Book holders are available from educational specialty stores. Big Books are great for read-alouds.



Slip-on pouches on chairs are great for storing student materials. Turn one end of a pillow sham inside out and slip it over the top of the chair.


Calabash Seafood: What Is Calabash Style

Calabash Seafood

Blessed is the seafood lover that lives, has friends or gets to travel often through a region in the Carolinas that begins just at the border of North and South Carolina, and ends on the outskirts of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand.

A drive through the area has signs offering Calabash style seafood, a way of preparing seafood that has been used in the region for many years.

Read on and you will find out what Calabash style seafood is, how it came to be and an easy way to prepare it at home.

What is Calabash Seafood?


The answer begins by asking another question. Where is Calabash?

Calabash is a small fishing village located near Little River, South Carolina. Nearby tourists areas include Ocean Isle, Sunset, and Holden Beaches. The larger Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach is less than an hour’s drive to the south.

The town had a population of 711 at the year 2000 census. It used to be even smaller and is still a small, quaint village. The main source of income for many of the village people is the seafood business. Fishermen take their boats out to sea and catch shrimp, flounder, and other seafood to sell to larger markets.

Fish Camps


Back in the old days, the town folk would have get-togethers called fish fries outdoors. These became known as fish camps. Then sometime in the 1940s, two sisters, Ruth Beck and Lucy Coleman, opened a restaurant featuring fresh fish prepared in a style the locals loved. The method included soaking freshly caught seafood in a thin, seasoned batter and then deep frying it.

Today, there is a trove of seafood restaurants in the area that serve Calabash style seafood. Some are very fancy, and some have remained quaint. But they all include Calabash fish on the menu. About 30 restaurants in Calabash alone serve Calabash-style seafood.

People in the fishing business here are not keen on the idea that the greater Myrtle Beach area uses the name Calabash for their seafood. Calabashians claim you can only get true Calabash style seafood in Calabash.

Calabash and Tourism


Despite the competition that spreads to the south, Calabash restaurant owners do well with the business they receive from the tourists and residents of the nearby beaches and towns to the west. Calabash in itself has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. A huge gift shop and local art gallery now attract plenty of business.


Calabash Seafood Secret Ingredient


The secret ingredient for Calabash seafood is-well, fresh seafood. Anyone that has ever eaten freshly caught fish, whether fresh or salt water, will attest to the fact that there is a huge difference in the taste. The sooner after being caught that it is eaten, the better it tastes.

Calabash style fish is made with shrimp, flounder, and oysters. Popular side dishes with Calabash style fish have traditionally been creamy cole slaw, french fries, baked beans, corn-on-the-cob and of course hush puppies. For those not familiar with hush puppies, they are simply cornmeal, onions, egg and a little milk that is dropped into hot grease to fry. People love to add hot sauce, tarter sauce and perhaps lemon and butter. This all gets washed down with plenty of sweet tea.

Maybe not the healthiest fish dish, it is always fried but always fresh. If you are ever near Calabash, you really must stop if you are even remotely fond of seafood. And who’s to say that this style can’t be done with freshly-caught freshwater fish. Just don’t tell the locals in Calabash. They will call you crazy.

Calabash Style Seafood Recipe

  • Fresh fish, flounder, shrimp, oysters, more
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Cornmeal
  • Black pepper and paprika, to taste
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Mix ingredients in a bowl. Add fish, shrimp, etc.
  2. Let the fish or seafood soak while you prepare the rest of the meal.
  3. Heat 2 inches of oil in a skillet or use a deep fryer.
  4. Cook each kind of fish separately on 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve with lemon, butter, hot sauce, cocktail or tarter sauce.

Good Night, Mrs. Calabash.

For years, Jimmy Durante signed off from his old radio and TV show saying “Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.” It was always a mystery of sorts, and Jimmy preferred to keep it that way. Some claim that it was his way of a tribute to his late wife. They had resided in a town called Calabasas in California before she died in 1943. But to the locals, Mrs. Calabash is no mystery. Durante stopped while passing through the area during the 1940s after Miss Lucy Coleman and Miss Ruth Beck opened the first Calabash seafood restaurant. He was so taken with the food and the two young women, especially Miss Lucy, that he left saying he would make her famous. Miss Lucy Coleman was Durante’s Mrs. Calabash.