Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Would Olivia, Jenna, and Hayley Bake?

Dear readers:
I'm sure you've figured out by now that I love to cook! Why else would I put a recipe for cinnamon-chip scones in the back of Olivia and the Little Way? I am always so thrilled when you write to me to tell me that you have made the scones and that they are yummy! A bit messy to make, perhaps, but delicious just the same! I was staring at some overripe bananas on my countertop a while ago and thought to myself: Not another loaf of banana bread to freeze! So I went through my recipe archives (which could fill any college library, I think!) in search of something different. I came across a forgotten favorite: banana white chocolate chip muffins! As I write this, they are baking in the oven and are making my house smell heavenly! It is always so hard to wait until baked treats are semi-cooled before trying them...even when I've tried certain recipes hundreds of times!

For me, cooking is a way to relax. It also makes me happy to provide yummy things to eat for family and friends. I got to thinking about Olivia and Jenna and how they like to bake together. What kinds of things would they enjoy baking? I'll post some simple, tasty recipes here on this blog that will inspire you to head to the kitchen with Olivia, Jenna, and Hayley too! And if you have any suggestions about what you think the trio would like to make, please send it my way to! Happy baking!!

Banana White Chocolate-Chip Muffins
Makes 16 muffins

1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/3 cup (but I use more!) white chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecans, crushed (tip: put them in a sandwich bag, seal, and take a meat mallet or rolling pin to crush them)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, blend the egg, oil, banana, and milk. In another bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, white chocolate, and pecans. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Stir, but take care not to overmix or your muffins will be tough. Fill 16 greased muffin cups (or paper-lined) about 3/4 full. You will have some empty muffin cups, so put a few tablespoons of water in those—it will protect your pan and keep the muffins moist as they bake. Bake about 15 minutes, or until tops are light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Now I've got to pull these muffins out of the oven! Mmmmmmm....

Here's How I Follow The Little Way!

"St. Therese of Lisieux" by Edward Maxence

Dear readers:
I've got more reader responses to share with you today. Today it's all about how YOU follow the Little Way. I know St. Therese would be so happy to hear about the little things you do each day to please God. Keep it up, everyone!!

"I now find myself thinking about my words and actions more often. This is one of the best books ever."

"Olivia and the Little Way has inspired me to follow the Little Way and to learn more about St. Therese. Olivia reminds me a lot of the bad things I do in my life and how to deal with them."

"You taught me all about the Little Way. I hope to follow it just like Olivia. Thank you for inspiring me."

"Olivia and the Little Way helped me to learn about St. Therese and the Little Way. Your book taught me that being yourself is always the best thing."

"After we read your book in class, I have been trying to follow St. Therese's Little Way. If there is a sequel, I am going to read it."

"I loved Olivia and the Little Way! I read it when it first came out and I was really happy when I found out that we were reading it in religion class. I think it really motivated me to be nicer."

"Your story was helpful because now, whenever I see people throw garbage in my streets, I think of the Little Way, and I pick it up!"

"It's a great thing you made this story so more people can follow the Little Way."

"It was an amazing book, and it really inspired me to do the right thing."

"I hope that I can stay on task and follow the Little Way."

"I am so glad we read Olivia and the Little Way in our class. I really liked your book and the fact that you included a saint. Your book has influenced a lot of sixth graders in our school, even my best friend!"

"I definitely make sure I follow the Little Way. This book has taught me to be nice to people that sometimes make me mad or annoy me, because they might be going through something like Chad in the book."

"This was a great story for me and for everyone! It taught me so much about the Little Way, and how to be a better person."

"Olivia and the Little Way is my favorite book! Your book inspired me to do little things, too. I have started writing books and after reading your book I learned how books can inspire and change people."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rose Pens at the Michigan Homeschooling Conference

Dear readers:
Boom! I had a great idea the night before I left for the 2009 It's Great to be Catholic Book, Curriculum Fair, and Home School Conference in Lansing, Michigan. Why use an ordinary pen to sign books when I can use a pretty pink rose pen? So off I went to Michael's to search for the prettiest rose I could find and some wide floral tape. The result is pictured above. You can make one yourself: Just take a pen and hold it close to the stem as you wrap the floral tape around both. The tape is sticky so it attaches to itself.

Here I am holding the pen at my table! I have to say, it was a great hit with everyone! I also made one with a purple peony. Don't you just love when you can turn ordinary things into special things? And signing books about St. Therese with a rose pen just seems to fit! It's so much more fun than an ordinary Bic pen!

I had a great time meeting readers and future readers of Olivia and the Little Way. I love when you tell me your stories about when St. Therese sent you your roses.

Have a wonderful Father's Day, dear readers!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Peer Pressure Is Tough!

Dear readers:
I would like to start a new little feature here on my blog. I have so much fun talking to school groups about St. Therese and Olivia and the Little Way. And the kids I talk to have such great comments and send me such beautiful notes. I would like to share some of them with you in the coming days and months. It is so wonderful to read how kids like you are learning to love the Little Flower and her Little Way. I am very moved and touched by all of your notes, e-mails, and cards. I'll always keep the notes I share on this blog anonymous, because some of the sentiments are very personal. But it will be fun just the same to share them with you all. Most of the ones in the coming blog posts ahead will be from sixth graders. I was very fortunate a couple of weeks ago to speak to about 150 sixth graders—boys and girls— from a local Catholic school. They were all so inspiring to me, with their excellent questions and comments. I could learn so much from all of you! The theme of today's post is peer pressure. Many of you told me that you could relate to the peer pressure Olivia felt from Hayley and Sabrina at her school. Here are some of your comments. And by the way, they are lovely, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"In Olivia and the Little Way, I learned not to give into peer pressure even when you want something but you know it is bad. I have been trying to follow the Little Way by saying "Hi" to to a person who is not friendly to me. I liked how you had all of the enemies in the book become friends. I hope you write another book."

"I thought Olivia and the Little Way was very good and well written. It taught me of St. Therese's Little Way. Hayley, Chad, Jenna, and Olivia were described so well that I thought I knew them so much as if they were my own friends. When Olivia was in peer pressure it showed that God can help us through everything."

"Your book was amazing. It helped me to review what I know about friendship and peer pressure. Usually I don't like books like that, but yours had me hooked. Also, thank you for including the cinnamon chip scone recipe. I just know that they'll be delicious."

"I dearly loved your book. I found it inspirational and enjoyable. I looked forward to reading every day. I enjoyed learning about the experiences and conflicts Olivia went through. Your book showed the true story of peer pressure."

"Your book, Olivia and the Little Way, was very inspirational to me. Now I know to make better choices and not to let in to negative peer pressure. My favorite character was Jenna. Jenna was welcoming, nice, and didn't care what people thought of her. I was happy when Hayley returned the chaplet to Olivia. It was amazing how Olivia's chaplet probably changed Olivia's life forever. After reading this book I know St. Therese is a great role model."

"It was a good book because you learn how to resist peer pressure. Olivia resisted peer pressure by turning to St. Therese for help. Olivia also helped other people like Chad and Jenna. She helped her family by praying for them and spending time with them. Olivia helped her community by making blankets for poor babies."

"I thought your Olivia book was great. I thought it really showed how hard it is to resist peer pressure and make good choices. I liked how Olivia worked hard to make up for mistakes by doing good. Your book was a good way to show people how to resist bad peer pressure and make the right choices."

"I loved your book! I now find myself thinking about my words and actions more often. I love how Olivia struggles with Hayley and Sabrina. I loved how Olivia tries to help Hayley and Sabrina, but yet she helps Hayley when she doesn't even realize it with her chaplet. "

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Olivia Around The World!

Dear readers:
It's been a whirlwind since winning the Catholic Press Association Award, that's for sure! But very fun for an author.

I just found out that Ignatius Press would like to distribute my book in their catalog. This means that bookstores around the world will be able to order Olivia and the Little Way for sale in their stores. Very exciting for me! This also means that kids just like you around the world will learn about St. Therese and her Little Way, some for the very first time, in countries like Mexico and Italy and China and Australia! I love spreading the word about St. Therese!
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