Book Giveaway

Alrighty, Folks. Are you ready for another book giveaway? Me, too!

Orange-Crate AirplanesShelley Wiscomb Blundell has written a delightful book called Orange-Crate Airplanes. It’s based on one of her childhood experiences.

It’s about a little girl who is bored. (Don’t we detest that blasted B word?)

Her kind father decides to build her an airplane.

He sends her to the shed to get a wooden orange crate.

Orange-Crate AirplanesHe designs. He saws. He nails.

He builds his daughter an amazing airplane. One that takes her imagination on a flight around the world.

Oh the wonderful things that she ‘sees’ on her adventure.

But wait! The little girl’s friend is bored, too.

Back to the workshop. The father builds the friend an airplane, too. Orange-Crate Airplanes(What a nice dad!)

Together, the girls have adventures in their airplanes that keep them occupied — and happy — all summer long.

This story is told in rhymes. And what a skillful weaving it is.

Many rhyming stories have a very stiff and stilted feel to the rhyme —

Ta da ta da ta da ta da
Ta da ta da ta da…

Shelley has a natural flowing rhythm. The rhyming scheme is subtle — it doesn’t jump out and conk you on the head saying, “Look at me here! I’m a rhyming word!)

Oh no! This is one of the best rhyming stories that I have read. I give it two thumbs up.

The plot is very appealing to children. They totally understand what it’s like to be bored and have nothing to do. Especially during the long, hot days of summer.

But do you know what the best part of the book is?

It provides directions on how to build your own orange-crate (or box) airplane! Wahoo!

The airplane would be very easy to make and would provide your grandchildren with hours of fun — just like the little girl in the book. It’s so easy to make that grandma wouldn’t need grandpa’s help at all to make it!

Every grandmother’s bookshelf needs this book. So does a grandchild’s bookshelf. You know, Christmas is coming up. This would make a mighty fine present for a grandchild. Just saying . . .

So. I’m going to give away a copy of this charming book (with it’s wonderful directions on how to build a plane) to one of my lucky readers.

Simply post a comment telling about an activity that you did during the summer when you were a child.

The giveaway will run until midnight on November 6.

I will post the name of the winner on Friday November 7.

For those interested in buying a copy of the book, simple send an e-mail to:

gailandshelleyblundell at

Payment can be made through PayPal or the old-fashioned way of by check.

Halloween Party with Grandchildren

(Dear Readers, I do apologize for all of the crazy question marks that were in my last newsletter. The newsletter service that I use must have had goblins in it because I do not have a clue as to what happened! Just call me Clueless Granny . . . )

For the  last two years, I have had a Halloween party for my grandchildren. (That was the age that I felt that they were old enough for the activities and crafts that I wanted to do with them.)

We held our party last Saturday. It was a beautiful fall day for such a grand party!

It ended up having a ghost theme. (I really did not plan it that way. Really. I did not!)

Two grandchildren wore ghost costumes. The other two were Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen. What a challenge to get them all to hold still at the same time!

costumes on Grandma Ideas

They made cotton ball ghosts. Using a white crayon, I drew a ghost shape on a piece of black construction paper. The grandchickabiddies stretched out cotton balls and glued them onto the construction paper.
cottonball ghosts on Grandma Ideas
cottonball ghosts on Grandma Ideas

While it might be a challenge for someone to recognize their end product as a ghost, the kiddos had fun making them.
cottonball ghosts on Grandma Ideas

We made more ghosts by wadding up some material into a ball, covering it with more fabric, tying a string around it to create the head of the ghost, and then drawing a face on it.
floating ghost on Grandma Ideas

We made more ghosts out of empty toilet paper rolls.

more ghosts on Grandma Ideas

I cut out pieces of white construction paper that fit around an empty toilet paper tube. The grandkids taped the paper on the tube.

Then, they drew a face on their ghost. I cut crepe paper streamers that the kiddos taped around the bottom of the tube. What an easy craft for them to do!

However, I think the flying ghosts were the hit of the party. (At least I had a riot. I think the grandkids enjoyed them, too!)

I ordered white plastic film canisters from Amazon. (You might be able to find these at a local craft store. I did not check it out. It was much easier for me to just order them online. Lazy bones, eh?)

I drew ghost faces on them and gave each grandchild a canister.

flying ghosts on Grandma Ideas

(Please, I ask you, Dear Reader, why in the world didn’t I move the garden hose out of the way? Shesh!)

Then, I broke an Alka Seltzer tablet in half. I put one half piece in the canister with a little bit of water. I hurriedly snapped on the lid. The grandchild put the ghost canister on the ground with the cap side down.

Then we waited for the magic to happen.

The Alka Seltzer started bubbling, bubbling, bubbling. The pressure built up until — POP! The canister flew into the air leaving the cap on the ground.

The ghosts flew over 20 feet high. It was so fun to watch them fly up and then crash to the ground.

flying ghosts on Grandma Ideas

Do you know how hard it is to capture an exploding film canister as it shoots into the sky? That’s why I don’t have any pictures of it. Just some of the grandkids waiting for the ghosts to take flight.

While it would have been fun to have a ghost themed treat, I didn’t make any.

I made pumpkin pudding.

pumpkin pudding on Grandma Ideas

I simply made instant vanilla pudding. Since it is yellow in color, I added a few drops of red food coloring until I got the desired orange color.

I drew pumpkin faces on clear plastic cups and put the pudding in the cups. Since the grandchildren don’t eat an awful lot, I only filled the cups half full of pudding. (For adults, you could fill the cup to the top.) Even though the cup was only half full, I was still pleased as punch at how they turned out.

Then, I made spiders.

I got round pretzels, Skittle candies, and mini chocolate frosted donuts.

spiders treats on Grandma Ideas

I carefully cut the pretzels into pieces for the legs. (Use a sharp knife instead of a butter knife. It works better.) Push the pretzel pieces into the donut to form the legs.


Push the Skittle candies in the donut to make the eyes.


Serve your spiders to your little guests. They will love them! (The adults will, too.)

spooky spider treats on Grandma ideas

A Delightful Book for a Granddaughter

eclairWord on the street has it (from our friends at AARP) that more than 5.8 million children are being raised by their grandparents. Those families are often called grand families. (I would like to think that all families are grand!)

Author Michelle Weidenbenner addresses that issue in her book Éclair Goes to Stella’s. (I think it’s really clever how Éclair gets her name…)

Seven-year-old Éclair and her baby sister, Meggie, live in Florida. But, their mother is very sick and is in a place like a hospital. Their father travels a lot for work and can’t take care of them. So, he drives them to Indiana so that his mother can take care of his two daughters on her farm.

Éclair is NOT thrilled. Not one iota.  No siree, Bob! She doesn’t want to leave her best forever friend. But most of all, she is afraid of her grandmother, Stella. She doesn’t know her at all. (All of you grandmothers out there who have grandchildren that live far away understand this situation, don’t you?)

Stella has red and purple hair and wears jeans and pink cowboy boots. Éclair isn’t sure what to think about all that.

Then there is a wounded, sick horse that needs loving, a baby alpaca that needs a name, a mean rooster that needs to be nicer, and a sugar cream pie that needs to be eaten. (Boy, I’d sure like the recipe for a sugar cream pie. It sounds delish!)

But then, Stella decides to take in borders. Maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so awful for Éclair after all.

This is a delightful, easy to read chapter book for young girls. Each chapter leaves you hanging so that you just HAVE to keep reading to see what happens next. It addresses the unsettled feelings that children have when they can’t live with their parents, when they have to leave their friends, and when they are in unfamiliar surroundings.

Weidenbenner confronts those issues with delicacy so that the young reader isn’t terrified or upset by them. In fact, I can imagine children shaking their heads with understanding thinking that they know exactly how Éclair feels!

Do you have a granddaughter that is in elementary school? She would be delighted to read this book – especially if she loves animals and horses in particular. (What little girl doesn’t dream of having her own horse? I ask you.)

This book has a little bit of suspense. It has action and humor. It’s engaging. Wrap those all together and you get a heart-warming story sure to please a young reader.

Michelle is an animal lover herself. As a writer, she’s been busy, busy, busy. She was a bronze medalist is the 2010 Frasier Contest, a 2011 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Contest, and won the Aspiring Writer’s Contest withe THE READING ROOM, 2013. She has been published in several magazines and has won contests in The Writer’s Journal and The Writer’s Digest.

Éclair Goes to Stella’s is the first book in a series. The others are Éclair Meets a Gypsy, Éclair Goes Geocaching, and Éclair in the Show Ring. (I can’t wait for them to be published — especially the one about geocaching — so that I can find out what all happens to Éclair!)

Take a moment to check out Michelle’s book on You’ll be glad you did!

Paper Monsters

Got colored paper? Scissors? Markers?

Great! You have enough makings for paper monsters. (Cue spooky music here . . .)

These monsters are easy to make. You simple fold some paper, trim it, fold it again, tear it, and draw facial features, hands, legs, and other creepy markings.

He’s so proud of his monster!

Get some brightly colored paper. One doesn’t want a drab-colored monster, now does one?


Take one of the short sides and fold it part-way over to the other short side. (You don’t want to fold it exactly in half because that would make a too fat monster that would fall flat on his face all of the time. And there’s nothing worse than that!)

Next, fold one of the short sides part way down. It really doesn’t matter how much. What you are folding down turns out to be the monster’s head. The more paper you fold down the bigger the monster’s head will be.

Starting at the top by the fold, start tearing the paper. Zig this way, Zag that way. Rip and tear away! The uneven-ness (is that even a word?) of the tear gives the monster his unique shape. (If you wanted to, you could cut out your monster instead of ripping the shape. Whatever floats your boat!)




Now comes the tricky part. Imagine that the paper that is currently facing ‘out’ is the monster’s back. If you unfolded it, the inside would be the monster’s tummy.

So, unfold the monster and lay it on its tummy. Do no, I repeat, do not, smooth out the folds. Carefully hold the monster so that the folds aren’t flattened.

Now, draw facial features, draw arms, and add other markings if so desired.


Now comes the second tricky part. Are you up to all of these tricky things? Good. Let’s proceed.

You’re going to re-fold the folds the opposite way. (Boy, this is going to challenge my description giving abilities . . .) Open up your monster so that his tummy is facing you.

Fold the head down (which is the opposite way it was originally folded). Crease the paper so that the tummy is now folded the opposite way.

Ta da! Your monster is finished.


You can add feet if you would like. Cut small rectangle shapes of paper — either the same color as your monster or a different color. Tape them on the back side of your monster and then fold them so they are facing out the front of the monster.

After I read these directions, I thought to myself, “Self, it sure would be a lot easier just to demonstrate, to show your readers how to make this. So, I’ve made this little movie to help you.”

YouTube Preview Image

You can add all sorts of designs on your my monster — spots, stripes, creepy markings.

Can you find the one that my grandson made?