Blueberry Fields Retreat

I had the fine good fortune of joining a small group of über-talented writers on the first Blueberry Fields retreat in Yarmouth, Maine. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of it, but I was more than willing to find out.

First impressions are everything:

The setting was beautiful, ethereal, and perfectly conducive to getting your writer’s groove on. The sessions were casual.

The results, unforced.

Between poolside art experimentation and word games, we had a first pages reading…

off-the-wharf lobster dinner…

and time to settle in for readings from our works in progress.

The comfort level, along with the high level of writing quality made for a seriously inspiring evening!

Not pictured: TONS of laughter and beautiful food, long and meaningful critiques, frogs, turkeys, yelping foxes and other things that shall remain unpictured!

We had the opportunity to pick organic blueberries from the hundreds of bushes on the property.

It was amazing to be able to focus on writing for a while, then hit the fields for berries.

Couldn’t have ‘picked’ a better weekend, or better folks to hang with!

Many thanks to Meg, Julie, and Cameron for all of your hard work putting this weekend together. “Magical” isn’t too strong a word to use for it!

The Blue Bunny Bookstore!

We found out that Lisa Yee was going to follow up her American Girl signing with a signing of her latest book at The Blue Bunny. I have been wanting to check out this store for quite a while, so it was the perfect excuse to head up to cute, old town center in Dedham Mass.

The Blue Bunny is the brainchild of author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. I have a lot of respect for his philosophies and work, so I expected that the store would be a great blend of toys, books, art, and fun. And it was!

Here we are with our friends the Sheas, who came up from CT for the signing.

Seriously, for me as a toy designer and a children’s book creator, it doesn’t get much better than this! The children and adults who were there that day seemed to agree- it’s a grand place to explore.

According to Lisa, ours was the very first copy of her new book, Warp Speed, to be signed. WooHoo! The book is about a Star Trek geek (there might be a couple… a few…OK, FIVE Star Trek fans in our house), so it was a must-have addition to our nearly complete Lisa Yee library. She’s such a great writer- and just the kind of role model that you want your kids looking up to.

I got to hold Peepy! She’s clearly a girl. And we both were rockin’ the stripes.

Lisa’s back in sunny California now, but we are glad to have seen her here on the East coast. We will certainly be back to The Blue Bunny- and if you live in these parts, check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

Well, Hello Dollies!

Guess who came to the local-ish American Girl store the other day?
None other than Lisa Yee! She wrote the latest Girl of the Year Books about Kanani, a Hawaiian girl. She also wrote Millicent Min, Girl Genius, and the subsequent stories relating to it. Oh, and also, she’s awesome. Add to that a few kids who are both American Girl and Lisa Yee fans, and you have the ideal day trip!

Lisa is from California, so it was great to get to see her on our coast! Here she is with the Dubois girls. Amazingly, she is still smiling after having met with approximately five thousand (mostly) little girls, with another thousand still to follow.

Poking around in the American Girl store, we couldn’t help but notice that our pal Mary Beth’s new book was on the shelves there, too! Check out the Paper Shaper Forest Friends, a make-it-yourself book of adorable animals in MB’s signature style.

Yes, Millie thought you should see what the back of the book looks like, too!

I bought some stylin’ shoes while we were there, too.
Doll shoes. Unbearably cute saddle shoes!

They do not fit me. But so help me, I will find the ideal miniature feet for them to fit on.
It’s a shame we don’t have any cats anymore!


Took a day with Mom and went to the antiques haven that is Brimfield. If you like to scrounge around through old stuff, then this is the place for you!

Hundreds upon hundreds of dealers…thousands of weird items…

Here’s my mom considering a new sewing machine:

They have things you wished you could take home:

Any home would be enhanced if it had a ride-on squirrel! Continue reading “Brimfield!”

Whispering Pines 2010

Arrival at sunset.

Once again, the marvelously beautiful acreage of the Alton Jones campus welcomed us to the Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat! It is always such a treat to head into the woods and live amongst authors, illustrators, and book lovers of all kinds for a few days.

We were swept into the experience right away with good food, drinks, and a First Pages panel. Folks had anonymously submitted first pages of their works in progress and were able to get first impressions from the panel.

All ears on the first pages.

The panel: Agent Rebecca Sherman, Assistant Editor Connie Hsu, Associate Editor Alexandra Penfold, Author Cynthia Lord. Continue reading “Whispering Pines 2010”

New York City in January

I just got back from a few days in New York, both setting up the FRED booth at The NY International Gift Fair and visiting my agent and publisher. Those meetings went well… more on that stuff *soon* !

Upon arriving in The Big City, we checked into the W Hotel, waaaayyy way up on the 30th floor.

The first thing I saw when I looked out the window was this:

What!?! Billy Elliot is playing right there in the back yard?? This is the one play I really wanted to see. We tried to get tickets the last time we were in town. This time, GOT ‘EM! It’s one of my favorite movies, so I was really curious about how they would make it a musical, of all things. So after walking around in the -20 weather to my meetings, Eric and I went to a Belgian restaurant (carbonnade flamande!) and then to the show:

It was fabulous! They did a great job of integrating ballet/dance/singing and miners striking and swearing. One would think that couldn’t be done, but they did it. Now that I am involved in community theater here at home, I couldn’t help but look at all the technical stuff involved. How did they keep the smoke machine smoke so even along the ground? How did they fling that kid on a wire from one end of the stage to the other without him dying? And just how deep do those hydraulic stage mechanisms go into the earth? And wow, dancing pants. I didn’t expect that! See it if you get the chance!

Never been to a big trade show before? You don’t know what you’re missing! Here’s me at the Fred booth (set up the day before, you can’t imagine how hellish the show looks the day before the show!):

All nice and clean, see? All the products looking their spiffy best!

We have a big TV now that scrolls through images. Cool. Here’s me with a WineStein:

My pal Barb was set up in a different section of the show devoted to licensing artists. This is a booth that’s hard to ignore! Check out the new fabrics and lamps!

Look who was overseeing The Javits Center!

Wait a minute. What did that taxi say? Let’s try that again.

Ah, irony. You’ve got to love irony!
It really was frigidly cold while we were there, so we didn’t stay outside too much. Here’s Eric freezing in Times Square!

Here’s George M. Cohan freezing in Times Square, too. He’s always cool. Yeah.

You know what we DIDN’T see in New York?

No KISS-guys with baseball bats. No mercenary mimes. No Riffs, no subway-stalking rollerskating guys. No Warriors at all!
And only one Lizzie. Hehehe.

Ben’s Bar Mitzvah

OK, I had never been to a Bar Mitzvah before last weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, really.
My good friend Barb’s son Ben was the guy of the day- and what a great job he did! The actual ceremony was beautiful. Luckily for us, it was explained along the way, full of music, and very joyful. Then, after that….

The party portion took place in a grand ballroom that was decked out like Fenway Park:


The kids had their own head table and buffet of kid-approved foods:

head table

No detail was left to chance! As far as I could see, everything was perfectly themed.


The kids (mainly 13-year old boys, of course, but with a smattering of girls, too) were able to take instant pictures in a photo booth, get into Red Sox gear and have their photos put into banners, and visit their own ice cream bar. There was a kid-friendly concession stand:


And guys on hand to airbrush custom t-shirts (the kids could choose the design):


There was a beautiful cake that had a lot of tall candles on it- each candle represented an important person in Ben’s life.


The Nook was well-represented that night. Here’s Monica, MB, and Janet, wearing their Bar Mitzvah best!


There’s Ben in the middle of the dancers (yes, dancers!):


‘Twas a night that brought out the best in everyone. It was impossible not to have a great time. Thanks to Barb and Phil and Ben for letting us share this amazing experience!


Brimfield…Brimming With Style!

Yes! I finally managed to get up to Brimfield for the fall show. If you’re not from these parts, it’s a simply gigantic antique show that sets up 3 times a year. Sprawling. Hundreds and hundreds of dealers. If you’re into vintage, retro, etc. you WILL find something interesting here. I did not come home empty-handed!

I saw this cute guy on patrol in his owner’s booth at the beginning of the day. Sure enough, he was still there when we headed to our car at the end of the day!


First thing I found was this wooden/paper litho target game. LOVE it. Vintage games from this era are a big favorite of mine.

birdz Continue reading “Brimfield…Brimming With Style!”

The Trip, Part 2: The Black Forest

We drove from Alsace over the German border, and into the Black Forest region. It was there that we joined up with a bushel of family members for a birthday party/reunion of sorts. While much of our time was spent with the family at large, with 4 languages represented, we all managed to see some of the countryside, too.

We stayed in Kalberbronn, at a great place called the Schwanen (The Swan).


The main building was fairly luxurious, but we stayed in a smaller outbuilding that was closer to the working farm. Very nice!


It was fun being able to see the critters every day!



There were plenty of farm cats- this one reminded us of Flo.

7_cat Continue reading “The Trip, Part 2: The Black Forest”

The Trip, Part One: Alsace

We were lucky enough to do some traveling this summer, both visiting with far-flung family and your usual sightseeing. We spent 5 days in Alsace, the grapey part of France bordering Germany, then went for 6 days to the Black Forest in Germany, then another 6 days in Bavaria. Needless to say these are visually stunning areas, and I took waaaay too many pictures. But hey, the blog has been ignored for quite a while, so here we go!

First things first. We flew into Frankfurt and stayed there for a night before driving to Alsace. You should know something about Germany. In Germany, the eggs wear hats!


Driving down to Alsace, we stopped in the town of Wissembourg. They have an unfinished cathedral there.


Complete with delightfully macabre medieval graves.


Alsatian towns are unbelievably beautiful. Nearly every town we passed through was picturesque.

Continue reading “The Trip, Part One: Alsace”