Crayon Halloween Pumpkin – Impressionist Art?

So this didn’t turn out quite like the pictures I’d seen, but it was fun to try. Like many craft projects you find on the internet, the instructions l read left out a few details.  They made it seem easy-melt crayons with a hairdryer and Viola! Pretty Pumpkin!

Okay, first problem -crayons don’t melt all that easily. I put some on a plate and microwaved them for 20 seconds at a time until they were starting to melt but not too soft that I couldn’t pick them up. They were microwaved for about two minutes all together. I used Crayola brand crayons. I wonder if cheaper ones would have melted faster.


Second problem- a hair dryer just blows the crayons off the pumpkin, even soft melty ones. If I was going to do this again, I’d glue down the pumpkins with a hot glue gun, but if you do this, you’ll have to work fast, because your softened crayons won’t stay soft for long.

Third problem- We have an old hair dryer. It was obviously going to take a long time to get the crayons to melt. For some reason, my husband just happened to have a heat gun and that went much faster. You just have to be careful not to char the pumpkin.


Worth it? Yes, at least with the heat gun. If we hadn’t had that, I might have given up or just melted the crayons and smeared them all over the pumpkin for a different look.

Finished project:

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World Building and Food in Science Fiction: EASY Star Trek Desserts

No matter what worlds we explore in science fiction, if there are humans involved, food will be important. While different cultures’ diets and food availability affect people’s views of what is a special occasion food, I’m sticking with sweets for these Star Trek desserts. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that even on present-day Earth, there is an immense variety of what are labeled desserts, so when you are writing science fiction, you can move way beyond your own cultural standards.

My previous post, linked at the bottom of this one,  was a menu and recipes for a Star Trek-themed dinner, but the post was so long,  I decided to put the desserts in a separate post.

The desserts are based on two desserts show in the “Liaisons” episode from THE NEXT GENERATION.

Tarvokian Powder Cake:

and Ktarian Chocolate Puff

I decided it would be fun to make individual servings of desserts that looked somewhat like these, all the better to eat while watching STAR TREK. My main criterium is that they would be very, very easy to make, or better yet, buy and put together. What I came up with actually involves no cooking.

First, and easiest of the two is a copycat Tarvokian Powder Cake.

The whitest cake I could think of is angel food cake, which also cuts very easily. I bought your standard cake and then trimmed off the outer layer.


I could have frosted it, but angel food cake is good unfrosted. Another possibility would be to dust it with confectioners sugar, but that would add to the sweetness. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of. I cut it into a wedge shape, but you could get creative

The Ktarian Chocolate Puff took a little more work. They supposedly had seventeen different kinds of chocolate in them, but we can still get something that tastes good with less variety of chocolate. Here are the ingredients:

Chocolate brownies from the grocery store bakery. If your grocery store doesn’t sell these, Entenmann’s Little Bites chocolate muffins might work, though they’d be small.

Chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies. You want something dome-shaped.

Chocolate sauce that forms a hard shell when refrigerated.

A chocolate bar or small chocolates that can be cut into triangles. I used a Lindt chocolate bar which was a bit difficult to cut because it was too thick. I’m thinking Andes Mints would work better.

Parchment paper or waxed paper to make them on.

Step 1: Line a plate or a tray with parchment paper. Stack the marshmallow cookie on top of the brownie. The marshmallow cookie in the photo doesn’t look very appetizing because the cookie package got too hot and the cookies sort of merged together. It won’t matter because the chocolate sauce will cover it.

Step 2: Cut the chocolate bar into triangles and place around the brownie, overlapping them.


Step 3: Cover it all with chocolate shell sauce. It’s going to look messy. That’s why you need the parchment paper/waxed paper.

Step 4: Put in freezer until chocolate shell sauce has hardened, then using a sharp knife, trim out excess around the base. Place on a serving tray or storage container. Refrigerate until time to serve. These need to be served cold, because the chocolate shell coating with soften too much at room temperature.


If you want a complete dinner menu, check out this post:



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World Building and Food in Science Fiction: Star Trek Menu

Worldbuilding when writing science fiction has to include food, right? It wouldn’t be a real world without it, and besides, it’s fun to think up what kind of food a particular culture in a particular environment would eat. My characters in the Torch World series have to deal with food shortages, which is a plot point that starts off the first book. If Mira hadn’t been stealing food for her younger sister, she would not have met Quinn.

Anyway, because I like to cook and eat, I’m having a bit of fun investigating Star Trek food in preparation for watching the new Star Trek: Discovery series. I wanted things that were very easy to make or which I could buy something similar, and of course tasted good.  To find what to serve, I used the Star Trek Encyclopedia, which lists all the food mentioned in the shows and movies. So here’s the menu with explanations below and desserts to follow in a separate blog post:

Trellan mushroom crepes

Mapa bread

Oskoid leaf salad

The main course, Trellan mushroom crepes, comes from Star Trek: Voyager, Episode: VOY 140 – Tuvix

The recipe is very flexible. You can add all sorts of ingredients to the mushrooms depending on your tastes. I like lots of flavors so I added lots of extras. You can buy ready-made crepes but they are actually easy to make if you have a nonstick skillet that’s between 8” to 11” inches. Serves 2


Crepes (can be made up to a day in advance)

1 large egg

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

½ cup all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Vegetable oil for pan (also have a plate and some paper towels on hand to put between the cooked crepes)

Directions: beat egg with fork, add other ingredients. Add small amount of oil to nonstick skillet, when heated add enough batter to make what looks like a very thin pancake. It will spread to fill the entire bottom of the skillet. Cook until bottom of crepe is lightly browned, flip and cook the other side, remove from pan and cover with a paper towel. The recipe will make between 3 to 6 crepes depending on the size of the skillet.

Crepe Filling:

Mushrooms (sliced-about a cup)

1 Tablespoon Butter

Additions if desired:

Cooked brown rice

Cooked spinach – can cook with the mushrooms

Chopped cooked chicken

Cheese (I used cubes of Havarti dill but any soft cheese that melts easily would work)


Parmesan cheese

Chopped herbs – I used garlic chives


Cook mushrooms in butter until soft over medium heat, being careful not to burn the butter, add your choice of additional filling ingredients, roll up in crepe, top with parmesan and herbs of your choice, heat in microwave until warmed through.

Mapa Bread –type of Bajoran food, from DS 9: “You are Cordially Invited”

Here’s an image from the episode.

I am not good at making bread so I bought a round rye loaf:

Oskoid leaf salad

Described as a leaf-like Betazoid food with purple veins,  from TNG 324: “Ménage a Troi”

Since it was red, I bought red leaf lettuce, topped it with feta cheese and used an Italian dressing. Feta cheese has always seemed a little strange-looking to me, but I’m sure there are other fruits and vegetables you could add as well. Odd-colored heirloom tomatoes might be a good choice. or various kinds of nuts or seeds.

That’s it. It’s easy! Desserts are going to be:

Tarvokian powder cake and Ktarian chocolate puff, recipes and pictures soon.


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For true STAR TREK fans: vinyl story recordings

Star Trek Album

Star Trek was my first science fiction love. I watched reruns of it every day after school, imagining myself as a crew member of the Enterprise. While waiting for the release of the new Star Trek: Discovery, I’m immersing myself in all things Star Trek. One of my more unusual possessions is a 1975 vinyl recording of three STAR TREK stories. It is the first of a series of story records produced in the 70s, many written by well-known comic book artists.

Much like old radio shows, these stories are fun to listen to, complete with sound effects and very dramatic renditions of the dialogue. The voice actors are not the original actors, which is a little weird, though at least the actor voicing Dr. McCoy does try to imitate DeForest Kelley. All in all, an interesting find for fans.

For more details about these records, this site has a very detailed description:

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STATION FOSAAN Book 1 of the Torch World Series is out now!

Scientists and their families stationed on the remote planet of Fosaan were promised a tropical vacation-like experience. But Fosaan, devastated from an apocalyptic event nearly three hundred years ago, is full of lethal predators and dangerous terrain. Earthers are forbidden to go beyond the safety zone of their settlement and must not engage the remaining reclusive Fosaanians, native to the planet. Sixteen-year-old Quinn Neen is about to do both of those things.

When Quinn discovers a beautiful Fosaanian girl named Mira stealing food from his family’s living unit, he hopes to convince her to help him explore the planet. But before he can convince her, scientists are taken captive, leaving Quinn and the other young Earthers at the mercy of space raiders and those who would bring Fosaan back to its former glory. Quinn must go from renegade to leader and convince Mira to become an ally in a fight against an enemy whose very existence threatens their lives and the future of Earthers stuck on Fosaan and at home.

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Just trying something out here-more later


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10 YA and MG books about Children living in the shadow of Elections, Politics and Presidential Parents


Every election season reminds us that it isn’t just the candidates running for office who are put in the media spotlight. The families come under scrutiny as well. And their lives will never be the same no matter what the outcome, especially those of the children and teens. I wrote WILDFIRE RUN because I wanted to tell an adventure story set at Camp David about a character who in ordinary circumstances would be an ordinary boy, but because his father is president, nothing is ordinary at all. And now that the election is over, we are seeing how Donald Trump’s youngest son Barron will now be thrust into a spotlight he probably never imagined.

To explore what those lives might be like, Here’s a list of ten books about political kids, and below that, descriptions of each book. The first five are more middle grade, though most of them would be enjoyed by YA readers as well. The last five fit in the YA category.



WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE by Rebecca Behrens

THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

WILDFIRE RUN by Dee Garretson


MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick

RED GIRL BLUE BOY by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


ZERO DAY by Jan Gangsei

first_daughter_white_house_rulesFIRST DAUGHTER WHITE HOUSE RULES

In First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, Sameera showed the United States it was ready for a Pakistani-born First Daughter. With her brains and bravado, she helped her dad win the presidential election. Now she’s living in the White House. Fabulous! Right? Actually, it’s no fairy tale. The Secret Service and the paparazzi follow Sameera everywhere. She misses her friends—and even her school—back home. So Sameera decides to escape. Will she be able to pull it off, or will her plan backfire on the entire First Family?

the-kid-who-ran-for-presidentTHE KID WHO RAN FOR PRESIDENT

“Hi! My name is Judson Moon. I’m 12 years old and I’m running for President of the YOU-nited States.”

So begins this fast-paced, funny, and surprising account of a boy’s run for the Oval Office in the year 2000. Under the tutelage of Lane, his brainy friend and self-appointed campaign manager, the affable sixth-grader from Madison, Wisconsin, takes on the Democrats and Republicans as a Third Party candidate who can make waves. “Grown-ups have had the last one thousand years to mess up the world,” Judd tells a reporter. “Now it’s our turn.”

when-audrey-met-aliceWHEN AUDREY MET ALICE by Rebecca Behrens

Living in the White House is like being permanently grounded. Only with better security.

First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute, squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is having your own bowling alley if you don’t have anyone to play with?

Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless–until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former First Daughter’s outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun…and get her into more trouble than she can handle.

the-presidents-daughterTHE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

ETHEL IS 10 YEARS OLD in 1901 when her family’s life changed forever. Suddenly, Father is not only a famous cowboy, war hero, and politician, but also President Theodore Roosevelt, leader of the United States—and Ethel has a new place to call home. The White House is older and stuffier than Ethel imagined, but there’s never a dull moment with her adventurous family around. Ethel would love to spend every day following Father on horseback rides and scrambles through neighboring Rock Creek Park.

Instead, Ethel has to stay at boarding school during the week, where nothing she does feels right and none of the girls seem to like her. Ethel’s parents keep telling her to keep her chin up and be patient, but it’s not easy being the president’s daughter. Ethel wishes she could be as courageous as father and make her family proud. When her fashionable older sister arrives home, Ethel feels new hope. Sister knows the secret of being brave and making friends, and she’s willing to share it. All Ethel needs to do is take one outrageous dare.

wildfire-runWILDFIRE RUN by Dee Garretson

The president’s retreat, Camp David, is one of the safest places in the United States. So why can’t the President’s son, Luke, and his friends Theo and Callie stay there without Secret Service agents constantly hovering over them, watching their every move? And yet, when an earthquake sets off a raging wildfire, causing a chain reaction that wreaks havoc at Camp David, they are suddenly on their own.

Now Luke needs a plan:

To override the security systems

To save those who were supposed to save him

To get through an impassable gate

To escape Camp David

confessions-of-a-first-daughterCONFESSIONS OF A FIRST DAUGHTER by Cassidy Calloway

Morgan is so over being first daughter.

Morgan Abbott has no social life and no privacy, and her one major talent is screwing things up. Unfortunately for Morgan, every mistake makes front page headlines—because her mom is the president of the United States. To top it all off, she’s been assigned a brainiac secret service agent who’s barely older than she is and won’t let her out of his sight (never mind that he’s kind of cute). Torture!

But when her mom has to slip away on secret business and needs a decoy to cover for her, Morgan is the only one who can help. With a bit of makeup, a little ingenuity, and a lot of family resemblance, Morgan soon has everyone calling her “Madam President.” Can she pull it off? Or will she mess everything up . . . again?

mylifenextdoorMY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed, daughter of a U.S. senator, wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

red-girl-blue-boyRED GIRL BLUE BOY BY Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Sixteen-year-old Katie and Drew really shouldn’t get along. After all, her father is the Republican nominee for President of the United States while his mother is at the top of the Democratic ticket. But when Katie and Drew are thrown together in a joint interview on a morning talk show, they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. With an entire nation tuned into and taking sides in your parents’ fight, and the knowledge that–ultimately–someone has to lose, how can you fall in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate?

the-wrong-side-of-rightTHE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT  by Jean Marie Thorne

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

zero-dayZERO DAY Jan Gangsei

Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on. Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious. When a national security advisor approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could the girl he’s missed for all these years be a threat to national security? Still, at the risk of having his own secrets exposed, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie. He soon realizes that his old friend is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission…but will she choose to complete it?




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