exhale interviews

I have been a fan of Rae Grant and her work since I first laid eyes on her beautiful books Cooking Fun and Crafting Fun. Over the course of the past year we’ve enjoyed many lovely e-mail exchanges and I was thrilled and honored when she asked me to be part of her book tour for her latest book, Homemade Fun: 101 Activities to do with Kids.

It is my great pleasure to introduce Rae Grant and to share this space with her today.

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EBG: How did you come to do the work you are doing?

RG: Books and handmade paper have always been my medium for creative expression. I always have my own ideas about things so I found making books to be a happy medium for that tendency. My book projects come from my own experience and interests. It’s fun and I feel lucky to have a publisher like St. Martin’s Press who supports my approach.

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Please tell us about your family.

I live with my husband and daughter in New York City. My husband is an architect and I am a book designer. I’d say we have a fundamentally creative household while balancing all the complexities of modern living. It’s fun, busy, and challenging but we know when to relax and unwind.

Do you have a television in your home? If yes, can you describe when/how it is used? If no, how long have you been TV-free?

We have a TV in a non-central part of the home and usually watch the news or public television programs. I am not impressed with the junky side of TV culture (to put it mildly), and would rather see children playing cards, reading a book, building a project, baking in the kitchen, or running around outside. One reason I wrote the book trilogy Crafting Fun, Cooking Fun and Homemade Fun was to offer modern kids and families an alternative to TV, computer, and thinking that ”fun” has to be bought at the store. Living simply is a value that shouldn’t be underestimated. It seems extremely important to many families these days given the current state of the world.

What can you share with us about your creative process? 

I work in a small home studio in my apartment. When I do a project it is all encompassing. I sort of live with the project whether it is short or long-term and work on it constantly. It is always a bit of a relief (to me and my family) when I am done but that is how I work. My family is a big supporter of my work so they are very good about living with my books.

Something that struck me about all three of your books is that not only are they full of wonderful ideas and recipes, they are absolutely beautiful to look at. Is it true that you designed them yourself?

Yes! I am a book designer by passion as well as trade. I love it and I hope it shows. It’s always a thrill to hear how people use the books too. It makes me happy to think that I’ve contributed something useful and of quality to the world of kids.

With all that you have going on, when and how do you nurture yourself and “return to center”?

Like so many families today, I sometimes feel that life is moving like a fast train. I’m not sure if it is because we all have a busy family life, or if the world is just moving along at a new clip but I have to stop and get off sometimes. I swim often as a way to relax and quiet down and I make simple projects with my daughter that amuse and delight us. I also simplify my expectations of how much I think I should be doing and have learned to say, “that’s enough.” Usually it is.

What’s next for you and what is the best way for people to follow along with your work?

My sister Julie and I are collaborating on a children’s book. The story is near and dear to me and I love working with Julie because we are creatively simpatico. I am also developing another adorable cookbook for kids.

The very best way to follow me is on my author website and on my blog.

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Thank you Rae for sharing your time with us and for sharing your many talents with the world!

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For a chance to win a copy of Rae’s latest book, Homemade Fun, simply leave a comment here between now and Saturday (6/26) at 8 a.m. EST when I will close the comments and announce the winner.

For a second chance to win, please help spread the word about this giveaway. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Share it on Facebook. Call your friend. Mention it to your sister. It’s all good.  Just come back here and leave a second comment noting what you did to help spread the word, and you will be entered a second time.

Comments closed. I’ll be back over the weekend to announce the winner!

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One day last fall my mom handed me a newspaper article about Chris Carr – a mother, elementary school physical education teacher and the author of the book Mother Daze: Tales from the Imperfect Playground. “She seems like someone you’d really like,” my mom said.

I read the article and agreed! Chris was doing a number of local book-signings and I carried that newspaper clipping around for weeks hoping to get to one of them and meet her. But (you know the story) things got busy and then I lost track of the article and never made it to one of her events. A couple of months later I was thrilled to receive an e-mail from Chris, who had seen a sign about my Mamasté Mothers’ Circles and wanted to reach out and say hello.

A week later we met for coffee (at 7 a.m. on a Saturday!!!!) and had the most wonderful conversation about the work we are doing, our families, and our many adventures as women and mothers.

Chris’ book is inspiring and honest and REALLY funny. And I am thrilled to share this space with her.

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I have been married to Andrew Carr for twelve years and we have three children Nolan (10), Jane (6), and Finley (4). I enjoy running and truly believe in the power of positive thinking. I was the Class President and an All State Athlete in high school. At the University of Rhode Island I was a member of the Varsity Tennis team and an active member of the Delta Zeta sorority, eventually becoming the President of my chapter. I obtained my Bachelors Degree from U.R.I. in 1993. Upon graduation, I immediately began my teaching career. I spent many years coaching middle school girl’s basketball and softball, and was the assistant tennis pro at Pt. Judith C.C. for eight years. Eventually I left coaching in order to pursue my Master’s Degree in the Administration of Physical Education and Health Education. My entire thesis research project was based on the over-scheduling of today’s youth and how it related to future burn-out rates among athletes.

What was your transition into motherhood like?

My transition into motherhood was filled with love for a new child, loss of the personal freedom to come and go as I pleased, doubt as to whether or not I knew what the heck I was doing, excitement, fear, exhaustion, wonder, sadness, and lots of enjoyment. You name it, I felt it. To be temporarily disconnected from the land of the living was not easy. However, before that first happy hug was even shared, I felt that overwhelming attraction. I couldn’t wait to see the little face of my newborn. After months of anticipation and 36 hours of labor, he was finally here. It was love at first sight once that swaddled little bunny was placed in my arms… nine pounds of pure sweetness. Yet, it felt like my husband Andy and I had been catapulted into adulthood, launched away from the somewhat carefree lifestyle we had been living, now replaced by a world of new challenges and much less sleep. It wasn’t easy, but I knew an incredible adventure was beginning to unfold.

What inspired you to write Mother Daze and what do you hope readers will take away from the book?

Quite simply, I felt it was finally time women were given a high-five, instead of another list of tasks to accomplish. Mother Daze highlights the undeniable gift of a mother’s true love and places it front and center for every one of us to recognize and be proud of. These days, parents are overstressed, kid’s lives are consistently over-scheduled, and as a result parenting has become an increasingly difficult challenge. It’s work!

I wanted to write a story that dared to tell the truth in a humorous, heartfelt, and entertaining style. The book shines a beaming light down on the “girl that grew up” and reminds her to laugh. I don’t pretend to have the answers nor do I pretend to have this parenting thing all figured out. I’m not asking the women of the world to burn their bras at the local Village Green and I do not conceal a superhero suit of spandex underneath my clothes. Nonetheless, I believed the unrealistic expectations placed on women in today’s society had gone a bit too far and I wanted to celebrate women for all they miraculously manage to get done – every single day!

With all that you have going on (working full time, three young children, writing, book-signings) when and how do you nurture yourself and “return to center”?

I find the best nurturing I can do for my self involves a healthy dose of exercise mixed with a generous dab of time spent with my favorite friendships. I don’t ever actually have the time to exercise… and sometimes I actually don’t want to, either. But I always try to make the time. Nike said it best… “Just do it.”

Running is my exercise of choice and I usually do it at the ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m. It’s free, my mind is cleared, I am connected to my thoughts, and an overall release of existing annoyances is accomplished. As exhausted as I am to get out of that bed, the feeling I get when all is said and done is worth every minute. I do believe in the important correlation of body, mind, and mood. There is a connection – a vital connection to our overall enjoyment in life! It’s not easy. It takes commitment. It’s a choice. Take care of “you” first, and the rest will follow. If I can manage to get in a three mile run and follow that up with a chit-chat over coffee with a good pal, my day will definitely be off to a great start. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen but it’s good to set goals.

What’s next for you? How can people best follow along with your work?

There has been a lot of talk about me writing another book. At this point, I have nothing in the works. However, I won’t rule anything out. I’ve always had an interest in writing a children’s book that touches upon the importance of fair play and kindness. And who knows? When my children enter the next phase of life – the teen years – I may grab my pen and start hammering out another “shout-out” to the mamas. For now, people can follow my “Events” schedule at http://www.christine-carr.com or join the Mother Daze Facebook Fan Page and see where I am headed next. The book is available in many Rhode Island bookstores or online at amazon.com, BN.com, Borders.com or directly from the publisher at publishingworks.com.

The next event that women in the area can check out is happening this Friday, May 7. at 7 p.m. The “Mother’s Rock” charity event will take place at Simon’s in Narragansett. It really is just a good excuse to get out of the house on Mother’s Day weekend and have some fun with friends. The cost is $20 at the door. With that, each guest will get a copy of Mother Daze (if they already have one, just give it to a favorite friend), light appetizers are included, and half of the money collected will go towards a charity of choice (to be determined that night). If interested, contact Chris at www.christine-carr.com.

Thank you Chris for sharing your time with us and for sharing your positive message with the world!

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For a chance to win a signed copy of Mother Daze, simply leave a comment here between now and Friday at 8 a.m. EST when I will close the comments and announce a winner.

For a second chance to win, help spread the word about this giveaway. Blog about it, tweet about it, share it on Facebook, call your sister, mention it to your neighbor – it’s all good. (You can use the “share this” button in the lower left hand corner of this post for quick and easy sharing.) Leave a second comment telling us what you did to help spread the word and you’ll be entered a second time.

Comments closed. I’ll be back over the weekend (sooner if I can) to announce the winner!

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I found my way to Jamie Martin’s beautiful blog, Steadymom.com, shortly after she launched it in December of 2008. As I followed along with her journey, I felt a connection with Jamie and the work she is doing — both in her home and in the world at large – and have enjoyed many inspiring e-mail exchanges with her over the past year.

It is my great pleasure to share my first exhale audio interview with Jamie Martin, author of Steady Days, creator of Steadymom.com, and mother of three beautiful little people.

The interview is about 45 minutes long so I divided it into two sections (aprox. 26 min. and aprox. 18 min.)  in hopes of making it more convenient for you to listen to.

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jamie martin phone interview 1.30.10part one | part two

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Please keep in mind as you listen to this interview that this was my first time interviewing in this format. It is far from perfect. You’ll hear me awkwardly interrupt or talk over Jamie a few times (sorry Jamie!) and I most definitely need to find a way to get a better sound quality for future interviews. But I hope you will be able to look past the surface blemishes, because the content is rich and beautiful.

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Links to places and things discussed during our interview:

Jamie’s Blogging Resolutions

Moms Unplugged (Don’t waste time online)

Steady Moms’ 30-Minute Blog Challenge

Steady Mom Contributors

Love146.org

SimpleHomeschool.net

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The Giveaway:

For a chance to win a signed copy of Jamie’s beautiful new book Steady Days, simply leave a comment here between now and Friday, Feb. 5 at 8 a.m. EST when I will close the comments and select a winner.

For a second chance to win, help spread the word about this interview and giveaway: Blog about it, tweet about it, link to it on facebook, e-mail your sister, tell your neighbor, share it with your playgroup. It’s all good!! Just be sure to come back here and leave a second comment telling us what you did to help spread the word.

Comments closed. I’ll be back later today to announce the winner!

 Good Luck + thank you Jamie!

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I was introduced to Cindy Hudson and her work through Writer Mama Christina Katz’s blog, The Writer Mama Riffs, and was thrilled to have an opportunity to review her first book, Book by Book, The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

 

I brought Cindy’s cheerful book, which takes readers step-by-step through the process of creating and maintaining a mother-daughter book club, along on our recent family vacation and found it to be an absolutely delightful and inspiring read.

 

Cindy has created two long-running book clubs, one with each of her daughters, and she also interviewed numerous mothers about their experiences in their own mother-daughter book clubs. Her book covers everything from how to get started, to how to keep your book club thriving, and how to handle challenges that come up.

 

In Chapter 17: Talking about Sex, Alcohol and other Touchy Subjects Peter L. Benson, PhD says he sees mother-daughter book clubs as the reincarnation of the “circle of elders,” the new campfire, where “elders gather to impart the wisdom they have learned in a non-threatening way. It is powerful to have dialogue in a circle of intergenerational people.”

 

It is with this beautiful image in mind and my gratitude for the important work she is doing, that I welcome Cindy Hudson, author of Book by Book.

 

{Enter to win a copy of Cindy’s book. See the end of the interview for details!}

 

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EBG: Welcome and congratulations on your first book! How does it feel to officially be a published author?

CH: It’s overwhelming and a little bit unreal, but it’s very fun and exciting too.

 

Did you always want to be an author or was this book born out of your passion for mother-daughter book clubs?

I’ve always wanted to write, but I didn’t have my heart set on writing books. My first passion is for writing personal essays, but once I realized that there were few resources available for moms in mother-daughter book clubs, which I truly believe can be life changing, I knew I had to put my heart and soul into this book.

 

I know you are a mother of two daughters, and therefore it was natural for you to create mother-daughter book clubs, but I’m wondering what advice would you offer to those of us who are raising boys?

First off, you can always read within your family. Before I started my mother-daughter book clubs my husband and I both read to our daughters. Sometimes it was a whole family event, with all of us listening to the same book. Ideally, your son would be in a book club with his dad, because there are just some topics you can discuss more freely with members of the same sex as the kids grow up. But if that’s not possible, and you have other moms and sons who want to be in a group, you should definitely create a parent-child book club. When you read together you open up so many avenues into each other’s personal lives, and that’s an invaluable experience to have with your child.

 

Your older daughter, Madeleine, started college this fall, right? What has happened to your book club as the girls have branched out for school?

This year the moms bought tickets to a literary speaker series here in Portland. Our first speaker appeared on the night of move-in day at the dorm, and we thought it was appropriate that as three of us moms gathered for the event, our three daughters were having dinner together in their cafeteria at college. We’re also talking about meeting with the whole group when the girls come home for Christmas and again in the summer. If we’re lucky, some of us will squeeze in a meeting during parents’ weekend in February (four girls decided to attend the same college). The bottom line is, we all want to continue to see each other as a group, so I have to believe we’ll make it work.

 

And now, if it is okay with you, I’d love to ask you a few questions about your writing process.

 

Do you have a dedicated writing space? What does it look/feel like? Is it in-home, out-of-home, multipurpose/shared etc.

I love my office in my home. It’s in a corner that’s tucked away from the main action of the house, which means I can shut my door and concentrate if I’d like, or I can leave it open and be in tune with everything else going on. When my daughters were young, they played on the floor beside my desk. Now, my youngest does homework in another room while I’m finishing up my work day.

 

What is your writing process like? (Do you like to compose in a particular notebook, with a certain pen, at the keyboard, at the coffee shop? Inquiring minds want to know! ;-)

When I’m brainstorming, I like to write ideas out with pen and paper. There’s something about jotting things down and being messy about the process that keeps the ideas flowing. When I write though, I think better at the computer. I guess I’m too impatient to write things down twice, once on paper and again on the keyboard. But I’m not afraid to write a lead that’s terrible, double space and write another, and another until I like what I’m writing. Sometimes I have to go into the body of the article or chapter and go back to revise the beginning. Once I have a rough draft, I often go for a walk. There’s something about getting away from a piece of writing that helps me think of all the missing pieces.

 

With all the exciting things happening in your world, when and how do you nurture yourself physically/emotionally/spiritually?

I get time to relax in bits and pieces, and occasionally I find several hours at once on a weekend. Reading for pleasure is one of the most relaxing things I can do. I read so many books for review, that I find it’s a treat to read something just for enjoyment. I also try to walk everyday. My daughters keep telling me to take an ipod with me so I can enjoy music, but I really like tuning into what’s going on around me. I like to breathe in the fresh air and listen to different bird songs. Massages are good, too, but I don’t get enough of those.

 

What books, magazines, websites/blogs (or other resources) do you turn to for inspiration?

For writing ideas I check out Writer’s Digest and Christina Katz’s ezines. I edit Writers on the Rise for Christina, so I get to read the articles by contributors first. And I find a lot of good tips in her Writer Mama ezine and Get Known Before the Book Deal. For mother-daughter book clubs I have found Julie Peterson of Booking Mama to be a good blogging buddy. And I’m tied into the Kidlitosphere, where you can find lots of good online sites talking about children’s literature.

 

What’s next for you? And what is the best way for people to follow along with your work?

I’m already scheduled to talk about mother-daughter book clubs at bookstores and conferences well into next year, which is exciting. The best news I can hear is when someone tells me they’re starting a book club after they’ve read my book or heard me speak. And I’m working on a couple of new concepts for books, but they’re not quite developed enough to talk about yet. I’ll keep posting my news at MotherDaughterBookClub.com and blogging at MotherDaughterBookClub.wordpress.com, so you can stay tuned there.

 

Thank you so much Cindy for sharing your time with us and for sharing your Light with the world!

 

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To be entered to win a copy of Cindy’s inspiring book, please leave a comment here between now and Sunday at 5 p.m. (EST). Good luck and happy weekend to you!

And the winner is…

Tracy from Give it a Whirl!

Congratulations Tracy and thank you again to Cindy! 

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exhale interviews :: cathe olson

by eringoodman on June 11, 2009

in exhale interviews

One of the first cookbooks that I purchased as a new mother was Simply Natural Baby Food, by Cathe Olson, which I learned about through Mothering Magazine. I ordered it directly from Cathe and absolutely treasured my signed copy, which is now dog-eared and splattered from years of faithful companionship in the kitchen.

 

Cathe’s second cookbook, The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook, was released the year I became pregnant with our second child, and although it was during this pregnancy that I reintroduced meat into my diet (after 17 years as a vegetarian), I still continue to enjoy the cookbook’s nutrient-dense vegetarian meals and healthy snacks.

 

When I recently discovered via Cathe’s Web site, that she had a new cookbook out, I was excited. When I learned that it was all about healthy, non-dairy ice creams, I was thrilled.

 

We certainly love our homemade ice cream around here – Papa is the expert ice cream maker – and we are just getting into fresh, pastured cream season, but since the beginning of this year we have also been consciously eating a bit lighter, and while we don’t intend to give up dairy completely anytime soon, we are certainly consuming a bit less of it. 

 

I am delighted to have another of Cathe’s inspiring cookbooks on our shelves, and to share this space with her today.

 

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EBG: How did you come to do the work you are doing?

CO:  It’s been kind of a strange journey. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and wrote short stories in my spare time but was mostly busy working as a computer systems analyst. In my thirties, however, I got very interested in nutrition and natural foods cooking. After the birth of my first daughter, I became a stay at home mom. When it was time to feed my daughter solid foods, I didn’t want to feed her food from boxes and jars. The only baby food cookbooks I could find used white flour, sugar, jello and stuff like that so I started developing my own recipes. When others kept asking for them, I decided to put them into a book. It was exciting to me to combine writing with my love for healthful, natural foods

 

Please tell us about your family.

I met my husband Gary about 12 years ago and it was literally love at first sight. We were both older and had sort of decided we were meant to be single but we just sparked. We got married and a year later had our first daughter Aimie. Emily was born 2 years after that. Now, Gary and I have been married over 11 years and Aimie is 10 and Emily is 8.

 

 

What was your transition into motherhood like?

The transition into motherhood was hard in some ways and easy in others. I loved my children and felt really lucky that I was able to leave my job and stay home with them. But it was hard too—I missed the independence of my own income. I also felt really isolated at times being home with my children. We lived way out in the woods about 40 minutes from the nearest town. My books were really important to me – I felt like writing was the one thing I was doing just for me. Now that my daughters are older, we have so much fun together. We enjoy cooking, reading, theater, hiking – so many things. I feel really lucky to have such a great family. We love to spend time together but my husband and daughters also realize that I’m a person, as well as a wife and mother, with ambitions and needs and they respect that.

 

How old were your children when you created your first cookbook? What forms did child-minding take during those years?

My first book was actually a booklet called Beyond Rice Cereal that I wrote when Aimie was one and I was pregnant with Emily. I actually typed it up and had it copied and stapled at a local copy shop. I printed 500 copies and sold them at local health food stores. They sold out so fast that I decided to do a full book, which I wrote after my daughter Emily was born. Finding time to write was often difficult. I made a rule for myself that naptime was my time – no housework – and that was when I wrote. When I was writing The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook – which is a about four times as big as Simply Natural Baby Food — I was lucky to find a friend that watched my daughters a couple of mornings a week so I could write uninterrupted. I’d also write in the evening after dinner when my husband would have time with the kids. It was definitely an exhausting schedule but it was worth it to me.

 

What forms does education take in your family?  

Education has been an adventure as well. We never did preschool—in large part because of where we lived; it just wasn’t practical. I would have spent more time driving then they’d actually be in preschool. I read a lot about homeschooling and felt because of where we lived and things I’d heard about public school that it would be the best option for our family. I enjoyed it but as my daughters got older I felt really stretched between homeschooling and my writing career. We moved closer to town and had several friends who attended our local public school and had great things to say about it. We enrolled the girls and it really worked out great for our family. While public school isn’t perfect, it’s not nearly as dismal as I’d envisioned. The teachers and administrators are great. My daughters love school, are learning a lot, and are thriving there. I get my writing done in the morning and when they get home from school, I’m totally ready to be with them and I teach them the things I want to supplement their education with – cooking, sewing, music, nature, writing, etc. I’m also involved in the school district wellness committee and have done a lot of nutrition presentations for both parents and students.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process (in the kitchen or in your writing studio)?

A lot of my creative process takes place before I get to the kitchen or my desk. At the farmers’ market, natural foods store, or in my garden – I’ll start thinking of what I can make for dinner or what foods might be good combined. I do a lot of experimenting when I cook – the hardest part is remembering to write down what I’m doing or how much of each ingredient I’m using because I never know when an experiment will be a ‘keeper’. I write at a desk in the living room, which is fine when the kids are at school and my husband’s at work, but in the evenings or during school vacations, it’s hard to get much done – which is maybe a good thing so I’ll take a break but tough when I’m on a deadline. My family is pretty good though. When I tell them that I need uninterrupted time to write, they’ll listen pretty well. And luckily they’re always happy to taste my recipes.

 

With a successful freelance writing career, three published cookbooks (and another in the works), and an active family life, how and when do you nurture yourself and return to Center? 

Nurturing myself is definitely an area I sometimes neglect – I want to set more time for yoga or walks but am not that good about it. One thing I do almost every night is at 9:00 or 9:30 when the kids are in bed, I stop work (well, most of the time). My husband and I spend some time catching up and then I read for an hour or two before bed. I love to read so that time is really precious to me.

 

What “baby steps” do you suggest for people (parents and others) who would like to shift to more healthful eating? 

Baby steps are a great way to transition into more healthful eating. I usually suggest starting by cutting out (or cutting down) on sweetened drinks. Those add a lot of sugar and calories into your diet and for some reason your brain doesn’t seem to register that it has taken in those calories and doesn’t signal you to feel full. Cutting down on processed foods in general is another great area to address. They’re full of refined flours and sweeteners, artificial flavors and colors, as well as usually high in sodium, fat, and/or sugar. Try to transition to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes.

 

What’s next for you? And what is the best way for people to follow along with your work? 

My next project is going to be a healthy cookbook for kids. I want kids to have success in the kitchen so I’ll make the instructions very clear for an inexperienced cook, and give them healthy yet tasty foods to make. I’m also working on a chapter book series featuring homeschooled characters–something I wished was around when I was homeschooling.

 

The best way to keep up with what’s happening with me is through my blog or my Facebook page. View my Web site for more information about my books.

 

Thank you Cathe, for sharing your time with us and for sharing your Light with the world!

 

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Cathe has generously offered a signed copy of Lick it!  for one lucky exhale. return to center. reader. To enter leave a coment below by Sunday at 5 p.m. EST, when I will choose one commenter at random.

 

Good luck! And happy weekend!

 

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Comments closed. And the winner is…

 

Carrie, who said: Oooh dairy free ice cream, a rare treat round here as it is so expensive to buy would love to learn to make some. Great interview, thanks Cathe & Erin x

 

Congrats Carrie!! Thanks Cathe!! And thanks to everyone for the supportive comments!!

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