Twofer Tuesday – Through a Lit Window: Back to School Quotes

Window at garden centerThe back to school season has begun! Whether it’s off to kindergarten, college, or beyond, here are two quotes to remind us the learning never ends.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  ~ Plutarch

 – and –

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”  ~ Sydney J. Harris

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How to Cope with Naked Soap

Wire Basket with Fabric Covered SoapThis unusual wire basket I bought in an antique store in Cape May, NJ practically begged to be filled with something pretty and fitting for the powder room. Paper wrapped handmade soaps were a good choice, but a little pricey. I opted to buy a ten-pack of Ivory Soap for $3.99 at Target and cover the bars of soap with scraps from my fabric stash. Here’s how I did it:

You’ll need:

  • silk pins
  • rectangular bars of soap
  • enough fabric to cover the soap, as if you were wrapping a gift
  • iron
  • twine, yarn, ribbon, hem tape, and/or cording

Get crafty:

  • estimate how much fabric you’ll need for each bar and cut out a neat rectangleWire Basket with Fabric Covered Soap
  • fold one long side over half of soap, and pin straight through fabric into soap in middle of bar 
  • iron a small crease on opposite end and pin through barWire Basket with Fabric Covered Soap
  • fold each end (like wrapping a gift), and pin in place through soapWire Basket with Fabric Covered SoapWire Basket with Fabric Covered Soap
  • wrap with matching ribbon, etc.Wire Basket with Fabric Covered Soap

Looks cute. You’ll never run out of soap, unless you can’t bear to unwrap them!

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An Interview with the Consistently Considerate Author Asher Roth

The Selfish ShellfishI met Asher Roth at a recent author book signing at The Cascades branch of the Loudon County libraries where he entertained patrons with his delightful picture book, The Selfish Shellfish.

Asher Roth spent his childhood discovering the woodlands and wildlife of Bucks County, PA, exploring the museums and monuments of Washington, DC, and journeying along the parklands and pathways of Fairfax County, VA. He attended the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar, graduating with distinction, and received his MA in Film Production from the University of Texas at Austin, graduating summa cum laude.

Over the past three decades, he has served as the creative director at a Baltimore-based advertising firm, worked as a writer and video producer for private companies and government agencies around Washington DC, and managed media production for a large corporation.

He currently works as an independent video producer in Northern Virginia and resides in Loudon County with his wife, Kathy, and their three children.

  1. Do you have a favorite place to write?

That’s an interesting question, particularly since I both wrote and illustrated The Selfish Shellfish. I enjoy imagining my stories during long strolls and while I’m in the shower, but neither one is conducive to writing, much less drawing! For writing, I like to compose and polish my prose at my desktop PC in my “creative sanctum” in the basement of my home.

Regarding illustration, I create much of the imagery in my mind’s eye as I’m writing at my computer, and I often grab a piece of typing paper to roughly sketch out an idea, in order to better organize the image. I prefer an open and well-lit area for more detailed sketches — I used to have a portable drafting board for this purpose. However, over the years I have become more digitally-inclined, and now I do most of my illustration work on the desktop.

  1. What do you love most about writing?

I love being able to take an abstract thought and craft it in a medium that conveys this thought to others. I love watching the responses of people, young and old, as they read and look at my story. While I value their comments once they have finished reading the book, it’s their expressions and reactions during the actual read that are the most revealing, and gratifying.

  1. What is the hardest and easiest part of the writing process for you?

For me, the most difficult part of writing a children’s story is working out the “kinks” in the rhyme and meter, so that it becomes fluid for most readers. We all stress words differently in sentences, and finding the best phrasing that allows for these variances is a challenge. In terms of illustration — drawing has always come fairly easily for me, though I am not a fast illustrator… it can take me days to complete a single panel. So, I suppose the easiest part is envisioning and initially composing the work, and the hardest part is crafting it into a finished book.

  1. What five words best sum up your personality?


  1. Other than writing, what else do you love to do?

I love photography… composing pictures of people, places, animals and flowers — in fact,

Asher Roth

Author Asher Roth

anything and everything that is both aesthetically pleasing and revealing. I feel that every moment has a story to tell, and the reward is in its telling. Whether it’s a family reunion, a pensive individual, a couple sharing a laugh, a commanding vista, a sunlit forest, a caterpillar traversing a leaf, the contours in the bark of a tree, a weathered and abandoned shack… it doesn’t matter: There’s a story there, and I endeavor to capture at least a part of that story.

  1. Describe your perfect day.

That’s a tough one! I don’t know if I can have a particularly perfect day… there are so many options! If I manage to accomplish something that is both personally fulfilling and enhances the lives of those around me, then that’s pretty close to perfect. Oh — and a caramel-almond ice cream torte with hot fudge sauce after dinner would be nice!

  1. Do you have a writing schedule?

Nope. That’s one thing I try to avoid. Filling word quotas and meeting deadlines are required for journalists, but I consider creative writing to be based on inspiration rather than quantity and timetables. However, writing is a craft, and craftsmanship improves with practice — so I do endeavor to write every day… just not on a schedule!

  1. What are your past, current, and/or next projects?

I had always imagined The Selfish Shellfish as the first book in a trilogy, each one touching on some aspect of personal attitudes and social interaction. Next up is a story about a rather unsociable millipede named Millie, who doesn’t care much for kindness and manners — until she sees this behavior from the other side and realizes how much nicer it is to be nice. Here’s a mockup of the possible cover art:

Millie, the Ill-Mannered MillipedeMillie, the Ill-Mannered Millipede

Thanks, Asher,  for a polite peek into your writing world!

For more information, readers can reach Asher at:, or visit the Amazon website for The Selfish Shellfish, read reviews, and look inside the cover at:

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

No One’s Watching is a year old and forever young! Enjoy the story of ballerina turned Irish dancer in this teen read!

Happy St. Patrick's day from No One's Watching!

Happy St. Patrick’s day from No One’s Watching!

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Take Heart Valentine Quilt and Tea Cozy

Heart Quilt 1989

Heart Quilt 1989

In 1989, I made this heart inspired quilt for my dad when he was having a pace-maker implanted. Twenty-five years later, I revisited the fabric scraps and mixed them with other scraps to make this tea cozy!

Combine the strip quilt method here with the tea cozy instructions here to make one of your own!

Strip Quilt Tea Cozy

Strip Quilt Tea Cozy

 Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Purple Car of the Weekend – Returns with a Soppy Picture of a PT Cruiser

From the parking lot of a local grocery store and in the rain, I parked and saw this purple beauty! 

PT Cruiser Purple Car

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

I had this for supper tonight and thought it was too delicious not to share again!

The Sandy Side of Life

The first time I had Butternut Squash soup was in England’s Lake District. It was so delicious, I had to find a recipe to try at home. I usually cook the squash in the microwave and assemble the rest of the ingredients in a Dutch oven. Here’s a recipe I adapted from Family Circle magazine using roasted vegetables.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel, seed, and cut 1 butternut squash into 1-inch pieces and add to roasting pan with 1/2 lb. carrots1 onion cut into chunks, and 3 cloves garlic. Sprinkle and stir to coat with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. ground pepper, and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Mix well and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot SoupPuree vegetables in half batches in blender with a total of 4 cups chicken stock. Gently heat in Dutch oven along…

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