Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “#mywana”

Chocolate Dream Dessert


Ellen V. Gregory, my WANA112 blogger friend, got me started on this when she suggested we do a favorite recipe for our WANAfriday challenge.

She posted her favorite, made-from-scratch, chocolate pudding.

I have never made pudding any other way than by using those little boxes of instant pudding mix. Gotta try out Ellen’s recipe for the real stuff.

Yummmmm. That reminded me of a recipe for a chocolate layered dessert that I made for church suppers many years ago. Somehow, in the throes of various moves, I lost the original recipe given to me by my friend Carol. Later, I found it again, but since it has a couple a horrendous number a few more than average calories per serving, I have not made it in awhile. Instead, I have taken healthy salads or other somewhat healthy dishes to our church dinners. (I know, boring. 😦 )

But Ellen has gotten me started again. Now that we are doing weekly potluck dinners for our visiting mission groups coming in to assist in rehabbing housing damaged by superstorm Sandy (2012), I have frequent opportunities to cook up something delicious. Those rehabbers work hard and deserve a rich good dessert, don’t you think? You can read more about the superstorm Sandy and rehabbers here (N is for Nora’s Ark  — In Times of Trouble, People Help People), and here (Jersey Shore Towns Reopen and Welcome Visitors.)

Chocolate Layered Dream Dessert

Ingredients for Layer 1

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

In mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour until it forms coarse clumps the size of peas. Stir in pecans. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake 15 minutes until layer 1 is golden brown. Cool completely.

[Here’s the lazy easy way to make this bottom layer crust. Shhhh. Don’t tell.
Mix together 1 pkg pecan sandies cookies, crushed, and 1 stick butter. Press into 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake in preheated over, 350 degrees, 15-20 minutes until golden brown.]

Layer 2

  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (or whipped cream)

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Add 1 cup Cool Whip and mix together. Spread over cooled crust.

Layer 3

  • 2 (3.9 oz) pkgs instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups whole milk

Mix pudding and milk together until slightly thickened, (about 3 min). Spread over cream cheese layer.

Layer 4

  • 1 cup whipped topping
  • 2 tbsp crushed pecans

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with additional chopped pecans. Cut in squares after chilling.


For two helpings of this dish, use this recipe from Quick ‘n Easy Recipes and at Taste of Home. Another variation of the recipe for a crowd can be found at Deep South Dish. 
Substitute lemon pudding, or any other flavor pudding, for the chocolate pudding.
Crusts can also be made of crushed oreos, vanilla wafers, cinnamon graham crackers

And now you can try a few more WANAfriday recipes:

Ellen Gregory – chocolate pudding.
Kim Griffin – Meatballs and What?
Cora Ramos – Recipe for Murder
Liv Rancourt – Get Lucky!
Tami Clayton – EXOTIC Moroccan White Bean Soup from the Kasbah

C’mon now. How about some recipes from you readers!

The Last Meow

Frankly, we don’t care for the chocolate layered dessert. Just give us kibbles, and we’ll be happy. Thanks.

Meow for now. =<^,^>=

Relay for Life Wash-Out, Or Not

Our Ocean City, NJ, American Cancer Society Relay for Life,  June 22, 2012, was almost a complete wash-out weather-wise.

The local organizing committee worked hard to pull this event off, but lightning, thunder, and rain thwarted attempts to run the usual all-night Relay.

Volunteers started signing in Relay teams at 4 pm, but dark, threatening clouds hung in the sky above us. It was not a question of if it would rain, but when it would rain and for how long.

Local South Jersey Channel 40 weatherman hero, Dan Skeldon, warned that we would have intermittent thunderstorms and rain throughout the evening. Still, we signed in teams and watched the skies. We advised teams not to set up their tents, but a few intrepid groups managed to get theirs up despite the theatening weather.

Thunder and lightning flashes became more frequent, and the rains began, so we moved inside the Ocean City Civic Center to wait out the storm.

Photo by Cassandra Heck

The crowd inside dwindled a bit as some of the faint-hearted Relayers called it quits and left for home. The rest of us participated in the hastily reorganized, but memorable, opening ceremonies.

Within the hour, the rain abated, and Relayers began to walk the track. A number of teams (mostly the teens) put up their tents on the football field.

My team, the NJ Krewe du Kroey, departed for local headquarters a few blocks away at the first signs of thunder and lightning but made their way back to join me on the track as soon as the rain stopped. Several pansies members of the team decided to stay home and collect those long dormant dust bunnies under the beds that were now demanding immediate attention. Oh well, their loss.

The braver members of the NJ Krewe du Kroey

While the NJ Krewe du Kroey team dawdled in a warm, dry house, I talked with photographer Brian M Richards. At first, I thought he was with the The Press of Atlantic City, but when I talked to him, he revealed that as a volunteer event photographer, he goes to seven or eight Relays a year, takes pictures, and posts them online for the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Relay followers. You can find more pictures of the Ocean City Relay here.

Brian choked up, and his eyes reddened and filled with tears when I asked him why he went to so many Relay for Life events. “I have lost nineteen family members to cancer, including my mother, father, and youngest brother. Coming to Relay for Life and taking pictures helps me remember and honor them. Cancer is a terrible disease, and this is my way to fight against it.”

Later, I saw a familiar Relayer, Jimmy Walker, walking the track in his HOPE Relay for Life T-shirt. Each year we see Jimmy at the Ocean City Relay, and he faithfully walks all night long despite having to walk with a cane. Just his presence makes us smile and encourages us to complete more laps than we had originally planned to walk. We admire his stamina, his determination, and his loyalty to Relay for Life.

I asked Jimmy why he participates in Relay for Life, and he responded with a broad smile, “I do this because I want to encourage others in their fight against cancer.”

A primary function of the Relay for Life is to raise funds for cancer research. Each team gathers sponsors and donations before the Relay, but many also do on-site fundraisers. Our team planned to do face-painting, sell popcorn, and do the Great PheeBee Blueberry Funnel-Cake-in-the-Face-Fiasco-Fund-raiser. These on-site fund-raisers for the Krewe were #EpicFail, not because of lack of effort, but because that thunder and lightning storm kept battering us.  (Anyone have any ideas for what to do with 100 bags of popcorn we couldn’t sell?)

PheeBee in 2010 Fantastic Blueberry Funnel Cake Fund-raiser Fiasco

Because the Relay crowd had thinned out significantly, we decided to save that delicious blueberry funnel cake for another fund raising event. Then we thought we should just eat it on the spot. Hmmm. Where did it go?

Other teams had fund-raisers planned, too. Delicious looking sandwiches, cupcakes, and boardwalk pizza appeared for sale at tables around the track. Food always makes for a good fund-raiser.

One twelve-year-old boy designed a “Candyland” theme for his fund-raiser. This site was popular with the younger members of the NJ Krewe du Kroey who stopped by to ponder the choices. Ten pieces of candy for $1.00. What a deal and for a good cause besides! What parent (or grandparent) could argue with that?

MiMi and her stash of penny candy.

But the rain was not finished for the evening, and dark clouds once again rolled over the Ocean City High School football field and track. And once again, Relay activities moved inside the Civic Center for the remainder of the event.

While the rain definitely dampened the Relay, it could not snuff out the spirits of the Relayers. Talk has already started about next year’s Relay! Maybe you can join us. We have asked Dan Skeldon to reserve better weather for us.

Have You Lost a Family Member, Friend, or Acquaintance to Cancer?

Photo: Opening Ceremonies for Relay for Life

If you have lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance to cancer, you may want to join a Relay for Life in your area. These Relays are held all over the country and world with teams of people raising funds for cancer research. Find a Relay team in your area here.

Relay for Life gives a unique opportunity to remember those family members, friends, and acquaintances who have lost their battle to cancer; to pray and hope with loved ones who currently battle cancer; and to celebrate the lives of those whose cancer has been cured or is in remission.

Our local Relay will be held on June 22, 2012 at the Ocean City (NJ) High School track. Last year approximately 75 teams participated in the Ocean City Relay for Life, and we hope for that many teams or more again this year.

The opening ceremony sets the tone for the Relay (an all-night event with people walking the track from 6 pm to 7 am, only taking time off for short naps in tents on the field). It is a night of sadness and joy; a night of walking, talking, and bonding with family and friends; a night of music, games, challenges, contests, and outrageous silliness.

The cancer survivors’ walk, one of two most poignant events of the evening, comes first. Cancer survivors, wearing purple survivors’ shirts, walk the first lap, giving proof that cancer can be beaten. Relay participants stand along the side of the track and cheer, recognizing the sheer determination and courage it takes to fight cancer.

The second poignant event occurs after dark when luminaria (brightly decorated white paper bags with battery powered candles representing all those family members and acquaintances who have lost their battle with cancer) line the perimeter of the track. These luminaria stand in memory of and in honor of moms, dads, babies, children, teens, grandmoms, granddads, aunts, uncles, friends, and other acquaintances. The stadium lights dim; the crowd stands in silence in memory of loved ones lost. Memories and tears flow.

My extended family has four Relay for Life teams: The Krewe du Kroey (the original team in Texas); NJ Krewe du Kroey (my team); the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey; and the hardest working team, Kroey’s Teens against Cancer of Burleson, TX, led by my great niece 13-years-old Phoebe Chambers.  The TX and SC teams have already completed their 2012 Relay. (You can read more about the origins of Krewe du Kroey here.)

We participate in Relay for Life because we have lost family members to this terrible disease:

my late husband, Victor Patrick Hall;

my great niece, nine-year-old Joanne Theresa King;

my younger brother, Robert Kroelinger (“Texas Bob”);

my nephew, Darrel Varnam;

my brother-in-law, Don Millward;

and several of my mother’s sisters and brothers.

Friends, too, are battling cancer or have lost the battle.

This year, the Queen Bee of the Texas Relay for Life, Miss Phoebe Chambers, my very talented and charming great-niece, will rejoin the NJ Krewe for the 2012 Ocean City Relay. Pheebs will do anything for attention to raise money to fight against cancer. Her grandfather, Robert Kroelinger, my brother, lost his battle to cancer two years ago.

This year Pheebs will do a grand repetition of  2010 Ocean City blueberry funnel cake fiasco fund-raiser. This event should not be missed. Aunt Patty (cancer survivor) certainly enjoyed smashing Phoebe in the face with the blueberry funnel cake helped the last time Phoebe got stuck with this job volunteered to do this particular fun and tasty fund-raising event. So it was messy. So what?

Just throw some of that folding green stuff in Phoebe’s beach bucket and watch the humiliation fun begin. This is a quiet fundraiser other than the laughter and catcalls, so no coins!

I think it’s my turn this year…to manhandle the funnel cake, that is. HeeHeeHee. Watch out, Pheebs, I’m gonna getcha!

Oh well, Phoebe is a great sport, as well as an enthusiastic fund raiser for Relay for Life. Together with her Kroey Teens against Cancer she helped raise over $10,000 for cancer research. That’s a lot of funnel cakes in the face!

If you want to support this on-going cancer-fighting effort, come join us on Friday night, June 22, at the Ocean City (NJ) High School football field, or look for a Relay for Life in your area. I can guarantee you will laugh, and you will cry. The emotional impact that cancer creates when a loved one is lost to this horrible disease is high, but together we can work towards a cure. The Relay provides a bit of catharsis for all of us.

YOUR TURN: Have you lost someone to cancer? Have you found a Relay for Life near you? What was your Relay like? Did the Relay help you cope with your loss?

Versatile Blogger Award

What a thrill to be selected by my writing peer, Elaine Smothers, to receive this Versatile Blogger Award.

This award encourages bloggers to read and support other bloggers. It is gives tangible recognition to the time and effort it takes to develop and maintain a blog. It also emphasizes WANA: We Are Not Alone in this blogging world! Kristen Lamb has helped to ensure that! Read all about it in Kristen’s book We Are Not Alone:The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.

I met Elaine in Kristen Lamb’s WANA112 blog group, and I have followed her blog ever since she and Forrest started it.

Who is Forrest? I’m glad you asked.

Forrest is Elaine’s very capable, red-eyed assistant.

(BTW Forrest, I see that you have already received this prestigious Versatile Blogger Award. It suits you. It matches your skin tones in the most serendipitous way! But that red flower, oh my, how it accentuates your dreamy eyes. And look at that lovely red glow on your tummy. You are so talented! You know just what colors will emphasize your natural beauty. Have you considered a life calling as a color consultant? You could become as famous as that walking-talking gecko with the Aussie accent that sells insurance. Just saying…)

See how distracting Forrest is? He is just so darn cute!

Now back to business. The Versatile Blogger Award is passed around from blogger to blogger in a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support. The three guidelines are easy to follow:

First. Thank the person who gave you the award and link to their blog. Done! Thanks again, Elaine and Forrest.

Second. Nominate 15 blogs that you enjoy and present this prestigious award to them.

This is a bit tricky as we bloggers tend to read a lot of blogs. But here are my 15 bloggers. Some are WANA friends, some  are A-to-Z Challenge friends, some are travel friends,  some I met in random ways (like reading blogs with interesting names or loglines), others have been recommended by blogger pals.

  1. LitKid (10 years old) and AKid@Heart  2 girls lost in a book (a daughter/mother duo)
  2. Katy Manck,  BooksYALove
  3. Kate Messmer,  Nerdy Book Club
  4. KidLitFrenzy
  5. Ana Romero,  English Diary: I’m Learning English
  6. The Blissful Adventurer   Professional Eater and Storyteller
  7. Bob Scotney    Bob’s Home for Writing
  8. Gail M. Baugniet    Sister-in-Crime
  9. Jacqui Talbot  Choctaw Tales and more
  10. Shout with emaginette    Live Life and Shout About It!
  11. Sonia G. Medeiros      Doing the Write Thing
  12. Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers  Writing Sisters
  13. Snigdha           Get Set and Go
  14. Brian and Shannon    Everywhere Once
  15. Linda Adams       Soldier, Storyteller

Last task, tell 7 random things about myself.  Here goes.

1. Born a South Jersey farm girl, I have lived outside New Jersey more than I have lived in it. I went off to college at age 18 and returned to SJ when I reached retirement age. Can a little farm girl from South Jersey find success in the big outside world? Well, yes.

2. Cold weather is not my favorite, but I did live in Alaska for ten years. After an administrative internship at Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska, I became an assistant principal at Soldotna Elementary, then the principal at North Star Elementary in Nikiski, Alaska. Yes, we used American money in Alaska! (Can you believe someone actually asked me that?)

3. So what do you do in Alaska in the dead of winter? You join groups.  An actress I am not, but I once played a lead role in a small-town production of “The Most Eligible Bachelor in Town.” I was that hussy who was after the bachelor (actually, he was already my husband, but no matter). This was the production of the year in the tiny Anchor Point, Alaska theater group. As I recall, we had two performances. I don’t remember whether the crowd stood up to give a standing ovation, or if they just needed to stand up to get their heavy winter coats on. We’ll just say we had a supportive crowd! We had fun anyway. The theater group disbanded soon after this star performance.

4. I prefer hot weather over cold. After Alaska, I moved to Hong Kong to be principal in the Lower Primary Division, Hong Kong International School. With over 700 children ages 4 to 8 in my division, I kept pretty busy. I worked with an incredible bunch of talented teachers and loved almost every minute of it. Being in Hong Kong allowed me to explore Southeast Asia. Gotta blog about that one day.

5. Blogging is a relatively new interest for me. I love to read blogs about travel, cooking, food, writing, blogging, nonfiction books, YA, KidLit, education, technology, and more. I also love photo blogs. And I did survive the A to Z Blog Challenge in April (writing 26 posts in 30 days), but my normal posting will probably range between eight and twelve postings a month.

6. Gardening is fun, but I do not have a green thumb. Something eats the roots of my plants, and they wither and die soon after I plant them. I do have one straggly houseplant that has miraculously survived for eight years. Of course, my husband has to water it now and then, but what else could he do in his spare time? The silk plants do well, but they do get a bit dusty. (Watering plants doesn’t leave much time for dusting.)

7. Did I mention that I love cats? Well, I do. I currently don’t have one because I like to travel, but when I grow up and settle down, I’ll probably get one.

Now I look forward to reading new blogs suggested by my 15 Versatile Bloggers. Happy blogging everyone. Remember WANA!

P is for Paws

Okay, time for some kitty fun.

You know, I have been working hard on my blogs, so now I deserve a little kitty break.

Here is a kitty that I identify with. You know how it is when you get your manicure with gellish French nails polish, don’t you?  You can’t cook dinner, do dishes, pull weeds in the yard, or scrub floors cause you don’t wanna wreck your nails? Well, here’s a kitty who thinks the same way.


Have a happy day.

O is for Ocean City, NJ

My husband, Ken, likes to tell this story when he introduces me to old acquaintances or new friends.

“Jan has lived and visited places all over the world: Alaska, Hong Kong, China, Peru, European Countries, Kenya, India…but ask her what her favorite place in the world is, and she always answers. . .

Ocean City, NJ.”

True. I love Ocean City. Maybe it’s because of childhood memories of playing on the beach, building elaborate sand castles, diving into the freezing cold surf, riding the waves to shore, and eating pizza on the boardwalk.


Ocean City is a family town.

In some lucky summers, my grandchildren and all of their cuzzies come to visit and experience those same thrills I had as a child.

Summer breezes, mists in the morning, Brown’s cider donuts, Johnson’s popcorn, free samples from Fudge Kitchen, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, Castaway Cove, the Music Pier. I could go on and on. Maybe I should do an Ocean City A to Z this summer! Okay, I will. Watch for posts in June, July, and August.

So meet me at the beach. We like to hang at 3rd Street beach during the day and the boardwalk at night. C’mon down.

N is for Newsletter

Once every three months, I publish a twelve to fourteen page newsletter for our 55+ community.  I have been working on the current edition for the past few days and hope to finish it tonight before midnight, my self-imposed deadline.

When I work on the newsletter, I have to set everything else aside, and that includes writing blogs for the A to Z Blog Challenge, reading blogs, Tweeting, house cleaning (good excuse for a not-so-neat house, yes?), cooking, and socializing. However,  tonight I took a break for dinner and went to Chili’s for fajitas with my down-the-street friends. Delicious.

One proofreader, my picky husband, has already had his chance to catch errors on the first draft of the newsletter. My second proofreader will get the newsletter in her mailbox in the morning. I’ll do corrections tomorrow, then take it to the printer on Thursday.

I enjoy working on MS Publisher to produce this newsletter, but every time I think I have mastered the software, I run into a new problem. (Something like blogging, I think.)

For this issue, one advertiser sent her ad as an Adobe pdf file. Try as I might, I could not save that ad to the right folder in my pictures files. When I finally found it lurking in another folder, I couldn’t get it to budge out of there to go to the spot I had selected in the newsletter.  After thirty minutes of frustration, I realized I could just scan a print copy of the pdf and insert the ad using my normal procedures. There’s more than one way to place an ad!

Now, in the final production stages of  this issue (Vol 6, Issue 2), I can begin to think about other things coming up: a visit from my brother and sister-in-law this weekend. Dang, I’d better get back to the house cleaning. What? Dear husband, you did it already. Awww, aren’t you the sweet one!

Oh, now my blogger buddies tell me I am one day behind on the A to Z bit? Oh dear. Oh my. What will I write for the letter “O”?  Don’t worry, I have been saving a special “O” for the challenge. Maybe I’ll even catch up by midnight. Or maybe not.


How are you doing on the A to Z Blog Challenge? Are you able to keep up the blog-a-day challenge?

M is for Mentions and Mash-Ups

Judythe Morgan honored me by pegging my blog with the Liebster Blog Award. Thanks again, Judythe.

If a person receives the Liebster Award, that person needs to identify five other persons whose blogs seem worthy of recognition. My last blog post gave a bit of background on the Liebster Award. You can read that if you want to laugh become more informed.

This blog should really be P for Procrastination (in the A-to-Z Blog Challenge) because I have procrastinated for more than two three four days on this post. But P is scheduled for May 18, and I have several other topics already stewing on the back burner for that letter. Besides, I’m not sure I could finish a post on procrastination by Wednesday. Maybe next month.

I am also wondering if I should delay my M post until Monday morning.  (Ha, too late for that now-it’s here already.) That would add two more Ms to the title. But, no, that would be too ridiculous much alliteration. Besides, I have not one, but two posts for M. Which one should I run? Or maybe I should do a double M. But enough of that.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the Liebster Award is to encourage bloggers to visit each other and make connections. Generally I  follow blogs on travel, food, YA literature, nonfiction, cats, grammar, and anything else serendipitous (accidental but delightful discoveries).

You might say I am an eclectic person (well, some would call me random, but whatever). Let’s just say I have a lot of interests and can be easily distracted by any number of them at any given time. I like clever loglines (not like mine, but wait a bit, I am thinking on it) and unique blog design. Sometimes the design catches my attention, then I read the blog.

For my Liebster Award nominations, I decided to check into some of my competitors cohorts in the A-to-Z Blog Challenge. It seems that this particular A to Z Blog Challenge has distracted them us from other serious writing activities.  I found so many good blogs, that I could stretch this post out for a month. Maybe I’ll post Mentions and Mash-Ups on a regular basis. On Mondays?

Here are only a few A to Z Bloggers that I feel a connect with. I could easily list many more.

1. DGHudson-Rainforest Writing. Her log line says “Writing is an adventure into the unknown. Photography enhances the trip.”

Hudson’s theme for the A to Z Challenge is “Paris,” and she photographs and writes about art, film, people, places, food, and so forth. Travel is my middle name, so of course, I have to claim her as a favorite. And then she gets an extra bonus because she threw a cat into the mix with the G blog: “Gay Purree-A Feline Adventure in Paris” complete with an animated film clip voiced by Judy Garland.

Hudson’s post for M day was “M is for Montmartre,” a lovely photo essay. The photographs entice me to go back to Paris! Go check them out. By the way, in case you want to meet me in Paris, here’s the web address for Air France.  How about May? I hear it is lovely in Paris then.

2. Kittie Howard-Kittie’s Stories — with a Dash of Insight. The connect for me here is that Kittie grew up on a farm, but then as an adult, she traveled the world, living in Europe, Asia, MidEast, and Africa. I did the same-but I have only lived outside the continental US in Alaska, then Asia. Can a girl from a small farm town make it in the big world? Well, yes. Here are two of us.

Kittie’s theme for A to Z is “seasonings in the gumbo” of Louisiana. Her M post is “M is for Muffaletta.” (I told you I like food!) Picture a large, round, crusty load of bread stuffed with meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, olives (the most important ingredient). One muffaletta, a staple of New Orleans, can feed a small army.

For her “A” post, Kittie talked about her theme for the A to Z Challenge (Lousiana) with “A is for Alligators” as her first post. She included a recipe for Cajun Grilled Alligator Kabobs. Umm, no thanks, Kittie, I just finished dinner. Maybe next time.

3. Tawn Krakowski, totallytawn-the universe through my eyes. Tawn writes with humor, introspection, and perspective (her words). I just like her ‘tude and writing style. She’s filled with the “Aloha Spirit,” but she has lived all her life in Illinois. She has a “Zombie Love Story” in her repertoire. Gotta read that one.

Tawn writes the truth about morning in her M blog: “M is for Morning.” She starts out with this line, “Oh, Morning, why do you torment me so?” Yes, it’s just as though she reads my mind!  My husband finally brought my coffee (and 1/2 of a forbidden WAWA crumb coffee cake), so now things are better for me. I hope Tawn’s morning has improved, too.

4. Maryann Miller  writes commentary about life, writing, and the absurdities of the human condition in her blog, “it’s-not-all-gravy.” I found her “C is for Cats” on April 3rd, so I know she is a more-than-okay person.

Besides liking her blog title, her logline, and her post on cats, I like her list of thirteen (bad luck) mysteries tagged onto her “M is for Monarch” day. It seems that masses of monarchs migrate through Texas every year and stop to munch on milkweed. Maybe M should be for Monarch Month!

At any rate read Maryann’s blog. Today she is writing about nuts, the kind from trees, not the ones who write.

5.  Carole Ann Carr, The Adventures of a Children’s Author. Carole Ann, a Brit, has published four children’s books (historical fiction, fantasy, and a picture book). I love her whimsical, serendipity blog page design. And lookey here, she has a blue-green-tan striped cat on her whimsical border. Bonus points. Check out those teacups and checkerboard cupcakes. These spell FUN.

Her M post is “M for Mortal Madness,” a YA book review.  Valentine the Explorer brings a malignant piece of Old-Tech, known as Medusa, back to London with alarming consequences. Carole Ann gives this book a high rating.

Now, back to the Liebster Award. If these five nominees are so inclined, they may just add five more honorees to the Liebster Award list. This is a fun challenge, but sometimes it doesn’t fit into everyone’s schedule. So if it doesn’t fit, you Lucky Liebsters, feel free to pass until you have more time. It’s been really nice getting to know you and your writing.

Well, now just look at the time. It is Monday morning. I’ve got those two extra Ms in after all. Well, I’d better quit before I find more M words! Look for a second M post in a moment or two.  Or maybe later today.


Which bloggers do you connect with?  What is your personal connect with those bloggers? How much time do you spend looking at other blogs? What do you learn from other blogs?

L is for Liebster Award

What the heck is the Liebster Award?

I ask because this noble (well, I think it is noble) award has just been bestowed on my baby blog.  Special thanks to JudytheMorgan for this honor. Judythe surveys all on her blog: Voices and views from the front porch and down the road.

Lucky for me, Liebster starts with the letter L, which just so happens to be today’s letter in the A to Z Blog Challenge! So here it is, a ready-made topic for my L day post.

Liebster sounds German, doesn’t it? And several Lucky Liebster Lads and Ladies (sorry about that) suggest that the German word ‘liebster’ means “loving” or “beloved.” So a person who bestows the Liebster award on someone else’s blog is showing love to another person. Kinda nice.

In 1724, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a cantata in Leipzig named ‘Liebster Gott,’ translated “Dearest God,” as in “Liebster Gott, What did I do to deserve this prestigious award?”

I checked my sources: 1HeckOfAGuy.Com reports that “If each winner required a month  to re-reward the Liebster, after one year more than 89762301673555230720 blogs would be flashing the Liebster prize.”

That’s pretty impressive! You think?

At any rate, the real purpose of the award is to spread the news about budding and blooming blogs with less than 200 followers. In the process of winnowing down the number of deserving blogs, we visit other blogs, meet new friends, and steal pick up new ideas. A nice community of bloggers who support each other develops. In other words, it’s a heck of a good way to make new friends. Hmmmm. Good idea.

Rules for this award of dubious importance follow:

  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  • Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  • Copy & paste the blog award on your blog.
  • Reveal your 5 blog picks.
  • Let them know you chose them by posting on their blog.

And now, I have a ready-made post for my A to Z Blog Challenge for the letter M scheduled for tomorrow around midnight: Midnight Mentions and Mash-Ups in which I announce my five nominations for the Liebster award. Oh Heck, it might take me all day and all evening to sift through 89762301673555230720 blogs, but I’ll do my best. Don’t worry, I won’t nominate 1HeckOfAGuy. He’s already won it!

By the way, at first glance, I thought that 1HeckOfAGuy might be related to me (you know, OneHeckOfAGal), but turns out he is not a real Heck. His true name is Leonard Cohen. No matter. He is still a new friend. And he is also the designer of the theater marquee at the beginning of this blog. I borrowed it. Okay, Leonard?

K is for Krewe du Kroey

It all started as a joke.

It was a rare reunion when all of my siblings and their spouses boarded the Holland America Lines’ (HAL) MS Zuiderdam for a Caribbean cruise ten years ago. This cruise brought together long-separated family members from New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, California, and Oregon.

Of course, we joined all the silly onboard games and entertainment activities on the Big Z.

Sister-in-law, Patty, and I donned ridiculous giant raisin costumes and joined a few other foolish spontaneous nerds talented individuals in a wretched an unequaled rendition of the California Raisin’s, “I heard it on the grapevine.”

Not to be left out of the hysteria fun, Brother Bill, wearing only a beach towel wrapped around his middle (okay, so the towel hid his bathing suit),  joined an elderly ravishing group of beauties ladies singing, “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.” Turns out, Bro was the one they wanted to get rid of! At the end of the song, they had had enough of him, so they took their own towels and swatted him off the stage.

Some of this was just too funny for words. Really. You just had to be there.

But the piece de resistance was the build-a-ship contest.

For this contest, each team had to build a ship that would float in the ship’s swimming pool.  We gathered stuff, and I mean stuff, from everywhere on the ship: plastic bags, wire hangers, empty wet-wipes tubs from the hand sanitizing station, and any other floatable items that we could finagle from the HAL crew. The competition was stiff, but we knew we had a winner. After all, we had two ex-Marines, Brother Bob and Brother Bill, to construct our winning entry masterpiece.

The rules specified that you had to name your ship, make up a song, perform a skit, and do other embarrassing funny things to make people laugh and cheer. The teams that got the loudest boos cheers got bonus points in the competition. We were all for that, because we were never known to be a quiet, normal family. Ha, far from it!

We decided to name our ship the Kroey Dam, a shortening of our German-Alsace-Lorraine-Swiss-French family name, Kroelinger. The Kroey Krewe cheer became “Caw, Caw, Caw.” And we sang a song that is way too embarrassing long to print here.

We had it made in the shade. People (well, at least our family members) stomped, cawed, clapped, and yelled, making enough noise to awaken alert the captain at the helm that a winner would soon be chosen.

Here’s the Contest:

Test One. The Float Test. How long will the ship float?

Each team launched its duct-taped mess ship in the pool.  One by one, ships sank. Of course the Kroey Dam passed with flying colors, along with two other lucky abominations contraptions ships.

Test two. The weight test. How many cans of beer soda pop can each ship carry without sinking? Can by can, the weight increased on each ship, until….

There was no joy in Kroey Ville that night. The mighty Kroey Dam sank at three six-packs, out-canned by one solitary beer soda pop can.

At least we did get a consolation prize: a blue coffee mug with a big white Z on it. And people did laugh at us.and cheer.

And that was the end of the Kroey Dam and its infamous Krewe. We retired to the pool for the rest of the trip, cawing quietly to ourselves.

Little did we know that within a few years we would resurrect the Kroey Krewe for less than happy purposes.

When my younger brother Bob, aka Refrigerator Bob or Texas Bob, was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma, we rallied around him and fought back against cancer with him.

The Texas Krewe du Kroey formed to walk in an all-night American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Burleson, TX. In 2009, the NJ Krewe du Kroey formed, and we (well, some of us) walked all night in Ocean City, NJ. The following year, the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey team walked all night in Summerville, South Carolina. Daughter Lisa joined a Relay in Folsom, California.

We relay because we want to see a cure for cancer in our lifetimes. We relay for TX Bob, for 9-year-old great-niece Joanne King, for my late husband Victor Hall, for my brother-in-law Don Millward, for my nephew Darrell Varnam, and for other family members, friends, and associates who have fought bravely but lost their fight with cancer.  We cannot forget them. So we relay each year to show our solidarity as family and friends in fighting against this truly evil disease.

If you have lost family members to cancer, Relay for Life provides a forum for you to remember, celebrate, and fight back. Consider joining a Relay for Life in your area.

  • The Burleson, Tx Relay for Life  April 13-14, 2012 Kerr Middle School 7 pm-7am
  • Summerville, SC Relay for Life  April 13-14  Summerville High School 7 pm-7am
  • Ocean City, NJ Relay for Life  June 22-23 Ocean City High School 7pm-7am

Watch this video to get a sense of what Relay for Life is about.



Have you participated in an ACC Relay for Life? What were some of your impressions?

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