Sweet Serendipity – Finding surprises when you least expect them

 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, serendipity is the ‘faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought after’.

I’d like to call serendipity the element of surprise – finding something you’re not looking for. I love the thought of serendipity, and I love how lyrical the word sounds when I say it – SER-EN-DIP-ITY.

A few days ago, while deadheading my hot pink knockout roses, I noticed what appeared to be a butterfly lilting across the rose bud tips. Mistaken for another creature, it turned out to be a lovely indigo blue and ash-hued dragonfly, with icy sky-blue eyes alight on a bud.

How sweetly serendipitous! The dragonfly just happened to be visiting the roses at the same I was dead heading them. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to capture the image of this beauty, he even waited for me to go inside and grab my Nikon camera.

The dragonfly was delightful, and I would experience serendipity just a few days later while meandering around Heritage Park lake with the canine kids. I happened upon a teensy yellow wildflower in a sea of tall meadow grasses, so I snapped a pic for posting later. Scrolling through my phone photos yesterday, I stumbled upon that photo, and discovered something on the delicate wildflower. As I zoomed in closer, I was surprised to find a perfectly round droplet of water clinging onto three of its petals. In the heart of the tiny translucent masterpiece, lay a mirror image of the wildflower, its leaves, surrounding vegetation, and the sky.

Serendipity had struck again, and it was the best feeling ever!

It’s funny how I can get so excited at such a simple thing such as –

  • Finding a rushing creek hidden behind a wonderful coffee house in North Carolina
  • Driving back roads past a secret field full of sunflowers on my way to a boat harbor
  • A micro painting left in a tree trunk at Towne Park during a walk
  • Motoring through the Exuma Cays and your guide drops you off at a disappearing sand bar (see photo)

In these trying times, isn’t it wonderful when you find something that makes you smile?

Most of my serendipitous moments seem to involve nature.

How about you?

How have you accidentally stumbled upon something wonderful when doing something else?

Please feel free to share.

 

Peace, love, and sand dollars

Sheree

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Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer semifinalist Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

Her newest book, Coffee Coma – poems and photographs about our love affair, and life with coffee is due out by Shanti Arts Publishing – tba

 

 

Planting Seeds – Part Two – Hope in Bloom

 

In mid May, I found some flower seed heads in a clay pot that had been sitting in my garage for several years. I planted the seeds in two cute ceramic containers – one the color of butter, the other a biscuit hue. A couple weeks later, I checked on them, and they were flourishing…packed together in one space. (See my first post titled Planting Seeds)

At the end of May, I set them free in the garden.

On June 23, I snapped these photos.

Their daisy-like neon blooms of blood red orange, magenta, and tangerine brought a smile to my face. The intricate star-like pollen florets (technical name) and long spider-like stigmas were no doubt, crafted by God’s hands. I spotted my first monarch butterfly sipping their dulcet delight last week.

As I take respite in my wicker recliner on the front porch, my sweet little zinnias are always within eye shot. That makes me happy!

What are you doing to bloom this summer?

How have you found hope in nature?

Peace, love, and zinnias,

Sheree

 

 

 

 

Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer semifinalist Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

The Sunset Inn – Just Like Coming Home

Good morning everyone,

I love everything about Sunset Beach – its charm, the homes, the yummy seafood, the two lane roads…and walking the shoreline with the hubster and the canine kids.

Recently, I had the pleasure of writing this sweet article about my favorite beach town for South Brunswick Magazine in North Carolina. I’m lucky that Justin Williams, the owner and publisher, allows me to write about almost anything I’ve suggested to him over the past few years .It’s a great freelance gig. I have to admit though, I knew little about The Sunset Inn. But now, I have a greater appreciation of this beautiful gem.

At the Sunset Inn, Andrea Ward and Dave Nelson take great care in making their vacationers feel like they’re right at home. Take a peak at story by clicking on the link, and feel free to leave a comment below.

Just Like Coming Home

The photo of the inn was taken by Andrea Ward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting Seeds

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From my front porch, the mellifluous sound of a steady summer rain rustles through the Bradford pear and maple trees, tip-tips on the leaves of a Rose of Sharon bush, and gurgles through the gutters. Rain’s constant melody reminds me of standing on a Caribbean beach, getting caught in an unexpected shower, water embracing my skin, soaking my hair, and trickling into my eyes.

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The morning sparrows and warblers sing their song in harmony, as if to ask, “More rain?”

A cool, yet warm breeze stirs the rose bushes, lavender and tiger lilies. If he could talk, I’m certain even the garden frog statue would say he’s refreshed.

I love rain, as long as I’m not driving in it. It reminds me of growth, and promise of new hope…a cleansing.

A few weeks ago, I found some old cone flower seed heads in a clay pot in my garage. Heaven knows how long they’d been sitting there – maybe three years. I planted the seeds in two cute ceramic containers – one the color of butter, the other a biscuit hue. I just wanted to see if they’d grow.

Well, they’re flourishing. So many of them now packed tightly together in one little space. It’s almost time for me to set them free in the garden…give them more room for those beauties to grow. This week, I’ll be replanting them. I can’t wait to observe their beautiful bird-like leaves and soon-to-be buds sky bound. I’m sure I’ll be surprised by their color.

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What ‘seeds’ are you planting now that will change your life…someone else’s life?

Seeds to provide sustenance to your family in the form of flowers, fruits or vegetables?

Seeds of hope in someone’s else mind? Seeds of kindness in their hearts?

How have your seeds grown lately?

Feel free to share you story below –

 

Peace, love, and sand dollars

Sheree

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Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer semifinalist Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

I Had This Dream – Rainbows at Night, and Shooting Stars

A shower of shooting stars burst forth from the night sky, like sparklers on the Fourth of July, and rained down from the heavens, and the full moon was so happy it winked.

A rainbow so big and thick, like the kind of orange slice candy with sugar from the corner confectionery you bought when you were just a child, reflected on the clouds, turning them Crayola colors of blue, pink, yellow, green and lavender. The clouds were rainbow hues!

People gathered in their back yards, standing in awe, snapping photos of this wonderful phenomenon.

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This was a dream of mine from about two weeks ago.  So moved by it, I felt the need to illustrate the images.  This is a rough draft. (chuckle)

Normally, my dreams are about conflict or mystery. But this time, the dream was positive and uplifting. I awoke smiling.

I’ve been seeing rainbows everywhere lately – on social media, on sidewalks, on my doors, and in windows of homes. Since there is a Full Pink Moon tonight, I felt this post was appropriate.

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According to dream-meaning.net,

Dream Rainbows represents hope, success and good fortune in the form of money, prestige, or fame. Your dreams and wishes may come true.

Rainbow at Night

“A rainbow typically cannot be seen at night because it is a reflection of the light. Thus, seeing a rainbow at night can be interpreted as divine interventions that offer you a glimmer of hope at the time of trouble. When you are not experiencing waking life difficulties, a rainbow at night can represent a perfect ending that you have wished for your own life.”

And according to spiritualunite.com

Due to the fleeting nature of shooting stars, their rarity and their associations with love and romance, a dream about a shooting star could also be a simple reminder to cherish the time you have on Earth with the ones you love.

But of course, these are just symbolism, and we should not put our faith in symbolism. We can choose to look at the bright side of the dream, and think that good things are to come.

In light of the world right now, and uncertainty of when the Corona virus will end, maybe it’s best that we just put our faith in God.

I opened my Bible last night, and a piece of paper fell out. On it was written Deuteronomy 31:6. I forgot that my previous life group gave me this paper when we met a couple years ago.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Stay strong, stay healthy, social distance, and be kind.

Peace, love, sand dollars and full pink moons,

Sheree

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Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

 

https://amzn.to/2wMXzeo

The River – Going With the Flow (Ethel + Robert Mirabal)

This was such a great post from last year….sharing again.

#waterislife #theriver #healing #mamabear

Sheree's Warm Fuzzies

20190224_205925My long friend Tina, surprised me with tickets to see The River performed by Ethel + Robert Mirabal at the Blanche Touhill Performing Arts Center on February 24 at UMSL. I really had no idea what to expect as I’d never heard of the group before, so I settled into the comfy theatre balcony seats.

The River embodied the ritual of the Native Americans gathering near the water for events – the the birth and baptism of a child, a celebration, washing their clothes and bathing, among others. The river forged a sense of community among the people, as they would always return to the water, creating an essential spiritual role in the Native Americans lives.

Mellifluous sounds expressed through violins, flutes, and spoken word about how the river connects people throughout their life, was blissful solitude to hear. Robert Mirabel shared stories about his Native America heritage as well.

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Love Letter to My Husband

For all those lovers out there…a Valentine’s Day post from a couple of years ago…

Sheree's Warm Fuzzies

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As I sauntered into the kitchen this morning in my pink robe and Chocolate Labrador themed slippers, I noticed a single piece of paper placed on the kitchen table were I normally sit for breakfast. My attention was drawn to the big red font on the signature line that read, Happy Valentine’s Day, from Russell.

Taking a seat at the table, I lifted the paper and read the words my husband penned. Countless emotions filled me – joy, happiness, thankfulness, gratefulness, love, forgiveness, and understanding.

Still sobbing, I walked the hallway to the bedroom and stroked the white-gray hair of my friend, lover, and partner for life.

I whispered in his ear, “That was the sweetest thing…that was the sweetest thing.”

Tears still flowing, I showered him with kisses. He smiled.

While I won’t divulge the contents of the letter, he expressed more than once, I was the only one…

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My Lymphoma Journey – learning to survive and grow during chemotherapy

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I recently found my notes on my first chemotherapy treatment.  Here’s hoping my experience helps those going through chemo, and their caregivers.

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In 2012, I was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia lymphoma. Over the years, I developed anemia and a B12 deficiency. I’d save writing for the morning, as low energy levels rendered me useless in the afternoon.

My hematologist suggested chemo in fall of 2018 after my IgM protein levels reached 3300. (A normal level is below 250). Hemoglobin levels dropped as well. My hands fell asleep, and my right foot began cramping. If untreated, my type of lymphoma could progress to neuropathy and vision problems.

November 27, 2018 – First day of chemo

The nurses ran an IV drip of Bedamustine, mixed with saline, thus minimizing a burning sensation in the veins. Within a couple of hours, my treatment was complete, and I was free to leave. Hubby and I ate lunch at a favorite restaurant, and the rest of the day went off without a hitch.

November 28, 2018 – Second day of chemo

The nurses started Rituximab at 50 mg. After the dosage was increased to 100 mg, pain and bloat filled my gut, and the drip was paused. After 30 minutes, I was given steroids and Pepcid to ward off side effects from the drug. Anti-nausea meds were added to the drip. Another 30 minutes passed without issues. When the dosage was increased to 125 mg, within minutes, a headache, thirst, nausea and hot flashes ensued. The nurses dropped the dosage back down to 100, and left it there for the better part of the day. Later towards evening, they attempted to increase the dosage to 125 mg again, and reactions resumed. At 6:30 p.m., the on-call doctor, a striking Indian woman, looked at my chart and noticed I’d only been able to handle about 40 percent of the Rituximab.

“No more,” she said. “You’ve had enough for one day. Go home.”

The nurses flushed a bag of saline through my veins which took about another 30 minutes. Hubby and I were the last to leave the building.  Dinner was Bread Company drive-through. So spent, I couldn’t wait to get home.

November 29, 2018 – Third day of chemo

Treatment went smoothly with the Bendamustine drug – in and out in 2 hours, with lunch at a favorite restaurant.

That evening, I felt fine. I napped a bit, but awoke to the worst case of cottonmouth, and consumed massive amounts of water. I retreated to the recliner sofa, and once again, fell asleep.

Awakening with nausea Thursday morning, I phoned the hematology nurse for advice.

“Stay hydrated, and eat protein.”

I sipped homemade chicken soup and water. The nausea subsided temporarily.

After taking my gout and shingles medicine (for prevention) Thursday evening, I felt uneasy. I climbed into bed around 11 p.m. By 12:45 a.m. I awoke with excessive thirst, sweats, and breathlessness. My belly was extremely bloated. Drinking water to curb my excessive thirst, lead to repeated trips to the bathroom. Russell checked my heart rate with a phone app, which read 114. I awoke at 4:03 a.m., feeling nauseated. On a trip to the bathroom, I vomited water. So much water.

The soft glow of the entry ceiling light guided me to the living room. I settled in on the sofa, and sobbed. Russell, hearing my cries, sauntered down the hallway and garnered a seat next to me.

Stroking my sweaty hair, and wiping tears away with a Kleenex, he smiled, “Try and get some sleep.”

I shuffled my pathetic skeleton back to the bedroom, swapped my drenched nightgown for another, slid beneath the covers, and hoped to disappear like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Friday, 7:15 a.m.

A breakfast of Irish oatmeal, fresh raspberries, buttered toast and Ceylon tea seemed to satisfy. After munching the last bit of toast, I felt my belly swell. Nausea was constant, and I really needed to poop. Four days had passed since my last movement. I attributed my constipation to all the medication received.

Gazing at a reflection of myself in the bathroom mirror, I was unrecognizable.  Cracked lips, dry skin, dark circles under my eyes, were just a few effects of chemo. Had I morphed into a character on The Walking Dead? My anxiety railed off the charts.

I phoned the nurse three times in less than six hours.

“You keep asking her the same questions,” Russell mentioned.

Anti-nausea medicine was prescribed, which hubby promptly retrieved at the local Target. God bless him…this was his eighth trip to the store in less than 24 hours with my many requests.

Within thirty minutes of downing the pill, it came back up. I couldn’t seem to keep anything in my system. Sugary beverages made me gag, so I sipped hot tea, alternating with Kombucha and sparkling water.

By dinner, I was jittery and emotional. Adavan was prescribed by my doctor’s office. Yet another trip to Target by hubby…

“Take one now,” he insisted.

I called the nurse again and barked, “I’m not taking any of my meds!”

“That isn’t an option. Try and eat something, then take your meds, followed up by an Adavan.”

As I lifted the pill to my lips, I swallowed it reluctantly, followed by a drink of tea. Five hours later, the 10 p.m. news blared on the TV. I drew a warm bath for myself. While soaking, I reflected upon my experience, and prayed for better days to come. I headed back to bed.

When I awoke, the sun was shining, my head was clear. A new outlook, would bring better days.

“Do you feel better?”

“Yes. Much.”

“I’m glad.”

Just a bit of advice for those going through chemotherapy –

If you receive a cancer care packet from your doctor – read it. There’s really good information useful during your chemotherapy treatment and after. Ask your caregiver to read it.

Caregivers, be patient with your person. Whatever your loved one requests within reason, get it for them…at least for the first few days after treatment.

My husband was so caring, patient, and available through the process. There were days, even weeks, when I really didn’t know what I needed or wanted, but his support helped me figure it out.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But please, don’t get dependent on anxiety meds. Sometimes I just took a ¼ of a pill, or a ½ a pill, to take the edge off, a few days after treatment.

Taste changes after chemo for some people. It did for me. Meals savored on treatment days, I don’t care for – homemade chicken soup, pea soup, garlic, veal. I craved nutritious foods, baked chicken, broccoli, asparagus, raspberries, blueberries, red beets, kale, apples and celery – and still do.

Food like whole milk, eggs, or spicy, caused severe cramping for four to five hours after ingesting, or diarrhea. Yogurt, kiefer, bananas, tea and Tylenol aided in calming down my stomach during these episodes. The decision to avoid these foods until thirty days after chemotherapy treatments, helped cut down on instances. I now enjoy these foods, once again.

You might consider taking a break sometime during chemotherapy, if you doctor allows. My hematologist afforded me an extra week off in order to vacation in California between treatments.

We rented a beach condo in Malibu for a portion of our stay. Even though I was suffering from stomach issues, I spent time allowing myself to calm down.

The crashing waves, seagulls soaring overhead, the pier in the distance, dogs running on the beach, all took my mind off the lymphoma. With so many places to explore, hubby and I savored the drive along winding Topanga Canyon, spotted a coyote in the hills at Griffith Park, visited the Point Verde Interpretative Center, walked the marina at Redondo Beach, enjoyed the wild ocean while cliffside at Pacific Palisades, the comedy of Jeff Goldblum at the Rockwell, and the live taping of the Big Bang Theory in Burbank.

Best of all, unforgettable walks on Malibu Beach at sunset stirred my soul and soothed my worried mind. I was determined to remain positive during chemotherapy.

Lasting a full six months, with treatments three days a week (and a 24-day reprieve before the next treatment), six weeks after chemotherapy ended, I rang the bell at Siteman Cancer Center. I was in remission! See photo below!

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Here are some thoughts to keep in mind –

  • Be happy this day, and give thanks if you live a healthy life.
  • Be kind to others, because you never know what they’re going through.
  • Take joy in simple things….like golden, caramel, and creamy saw-whet owls you discover while looking ‘up’ at a log cabin’s eaves, the soft brush of a cat’s whiskers on your cheek, the aroma of a sugar cookie scented candle, sweet surprises from your loved ones (including the endless number of trips your husband makes to Target because you can’t decide what you want to eat or drink).
  • God has your back.

 

I wish you life!

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

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Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

Double Yolks? Pregnancy in your 60’s?

As I was crisping my bacon today in the microwave, the thought of scrambled eggs popped in my head. So I snatched the last two cage-free eggs in the frig, and proceeded to crack them in a cheery aqua starburst-patterned ceramic bowl. Much to my surprise, the first egg was a double yolk.

Curiosity struck, and before I could begin my scramble, I just had to google the meaning of a double yolk.

According to a bon appetit post on Gail Damerow, a prolific chicken writer, who operates a family farm in Tennessee, Gail can spot a double yolker without even cracking them.

“It takes 25 hours to make one egg,” says Damerow. “When a hen is hatched, they come into the world with a certain number of ova – it’s like a bunch of grapes that’s hangs from the backbone.”

When a hen is mature enough, ova grow one at a time until they’re the size of a yolk. Breaking away from the ovary, it moves through the oviduct, her glands secrete a substance called albumen (the white), and a substance to form the shell. An egg is born.

Typically, a double yolker normally comes from a young hen.

The article in bon appetit goes on to say, “If you find yourself with a double yolker, think of it as a gift of an amateur hen’s early work, like the joyfully scribbled drawings of a toddler but more nutritious.

Interested to find what symbolism or superstitions comes with a double yolk egg, I googled further…

According to the Encyclopedia of Superstitions by Richard Webster, double yolked eggs are believed to be a sign of good luck. It can also mean that someone in your immediate family is pregnant.

I doubt if I’m with child, as I just started my official reign as a geriatric – collecting social security. My niece is young and unmarried, and just started a new career. I have second cousins that are of childbearing age. Girls are you not telling us something? Keeping a secret, eh?

The spiritual meaning of a double yolked egg is they provide great luck and happiness. Chances of cracking a double yolker are 1/1000! I feel really special…sort of like winning an egg lottery.

Some people have even found triple yolks, and as many as nine yolks in one egg.

As I sit here feasting on my crispy bacon, scrambled eggs with dill, and multigrain toast with butter and lingonberry jam, I can’t help but think how the yolk is my favorite part of the egg, and today I was lucky enough to discover two in one.

Please enjoy my favorite key lime pie recipe made with just egg yolks:

Ever dreamt of a Healthy Key Lime Pie without the healthy taste? Your prayers have been answered! It's got the perfect combination of tart and sweet, rich and creamy, and healthy and delicious! -- Healthy Dessert Recipes with sugar free, low calorie, low fat, high protein, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan options at the Desserts With Benefits Blog (www.DessertsWithBenefits.com)

 

Mrs. Biddles Key Lime Pie

One 14 oz. can sweet and condensed milk

4 egg yolks

½ cup key lime juice (or lime juice)

Combine milk and egg yolks at low speed. Slowly add juice, mixing until well blended. Pour into 9” graham cracker pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Refrigerate for an hour. Serve with whipped cream.

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Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

DON’T PAY A PUBLISHER TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK!

IF YOU’RE A NEW AUTHOR, WANTING TO PUBLISH A BOOK, PLEASE READ THIS!

Monday, I felt motivated to clean out the file cabinet in my office.

I ran across this document from a publisher from 2013. I have removed any information that identifies them.

If you’re thinking about PAYING a publisher to publish your new book – DON’T.

Luckily, I didn’t fall for this trap and relied on the wisdom of my author friend Sandra Carrington-Smith. She mentioned this correspondence threw up red flags and suggested I ask them a series of questions. They never responded to ANY of my questions.

This publisher wanted me to PAY them half of their cost (or so they say) or $5,000 to publish my essay collection with photos, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, and store the books in THEIR warehouse.

I’d have to pay them another $5 per book to get them out of the publisher’s inventory. WHAT? I’m suppose to do all this, and sell retail on my website. RIGHT!!

Look at the font in the first paragraph. It’s totally different than the font in the rest of the email.

This tells you I WAS NOT special. This publisher cut and pasted the body of the letter after the first paragraph.

 

Please, new writers, I implore you, don’t fall into this trap. Do research before signing any contracts.

You shouldn’t have to pay a publisher to release your book into the world.

I’ve published four books – all award-winning. Two were traditionally published – Mondays in October, and Midnight the One-Eyed Cat.  Folly Beach Dances and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits were published under my imprint.

With that said, in 2014, I released Folly Beach Dances to the world. It went on to win a 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award and Art Category Finalist from the Eric Hoffer Foundation.

After receiving print samples from printers all over the country, I used a wonderful printer in Chicago (Publishers Graphics), a kickbutt designer (Kristy Makansi), and even planned an AWESOME LAUNCH PARTY at a really cool venue in historic St. Charles.

In less than 5 months, I recouped ALL the printing costs ON THIS BIG BEAUTIFUL coffee table book, designer, marketing and launch party fees and had turned a profit. And…it was my first book!

I relied on my network of smart, wise and creative people along the way to nudge me forward.

Looking back over the last six years, I can’t believe I’ve published four books!

You can do this! Just don’t fall prey to people that are just out to make a buck, and have no interest in investing in your welfare!

Any questions, feel free to connect with me at oceanspiritpublishing at gmail.com. Feel free to share this post.

#publishingtips #writersbeware #writingcommunity #authors #poets #selfpublishing #traditionalpublishing #marketing #bookdesigners

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

Memories of Christmas Dinner Past – Missing Mom

Our silver tinsel Christmas tree, decorated with hand blown glass ornaments, stood regally in our home’s entry hall on Meramec Street, South St. Louis in the Dutchtown neighborhood. Visible from the road, strands of multi-colored cone-shaped ‘C’ style bulbs (as they were called in the 1960’s) brightly illuminated our porch, shining through the glass front door, and stationery French door (complete with mail slot).

Mom, of German heritage, cooked up the tastiest meals, preparing holiday feasts for our large group of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandmothers.

“Turkey should only be served at Thanksgiving!”, she’d exclaim.

The choice of meat for Christmas – baked ham, coated with brown sugar, covered with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries. Beef roast with red onions often accompanied the baked ham.

I’d like to think Mom was a cross between Lucille Ball and Julia Child.  She possessed the hilarity of Lucy mixed in with the masterful culinary techniques of Julia.

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The precursor to preparing mashed potatoes – sipping sherry or a Tom Collins from a cordial glass or water goblet. She saved up enough S&H green stamps to buy an entire cut glass collection. Her potatoes always turned out buttery and fluffy, no matter how much she sipped.

Of course, there’d be Bing or Frank on the radio singing carols, with Mom’s voice as back-up, all the while concocting a divine creamed spinach, broccoli, or strawberry jello dish. Light on her feet, she was known to dance around the kitchen table while cooking.

Baking was another art that came easily to Mom. Donning an apron of lavender, crimson and yellow flowers (which I inherited), using the wooden rolling pin (with lacquered green handles) she’d skillfully craft pie dough on the countertop. The rolling pin, a gift from Grandma Muskopf, later was gifted to me.

Dad’s favorite pie was mincemeat – a combination of dried fruit, distilled spices and spirits, and sometimes an unrecognizable meat. (The mincemeat concoction was purchased at Bettendorf’s grocery and didn’t always list the ingredients.) Apple, coconut cream, pumpkin, or lemon meringue pies were sure to find a place on the Christmas menu, as well.

Leaning over the festive table complete with china and linens, Mom, still in her apron, struck a match, lighting the tall white candles of the shiny gold-plated hurricane lamps. As everyone took their seats, Dad carved the ham and the roast, and plates of savory sides were passed.

Long after the meal settled in everyone’s bellies, she’d be up on her feet clearing tables, hand-washing china and silverware. Grandma, aunts and cousins took turns drying the dishes.

Finally, she’d garner a seat at the kitchen table, kick off her black flats, puff a Kool menthol cigarette, followed by a sip of Folgers. Dad, with a twinkle in his eye, admired her from across the room.

The house was warm, family was content, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” played on the RCA console tv, complete with rabbit ears antenna.

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If anyone has foolproof recipes for the following, please send them my way, or feel free to comment below. I have yet to master these dishes. They were favorites from my childhood.

Some of my favorite meals that Mom rocked

  • Russian tea cakes
  • Pan fried chicken and milk gravy
  • Stewed chicken and dumplings
  • Homemade beef chop suey
  • Lemon meringue pie

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Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

Christmas in a Bottle? Keeping the Spirit of Christmas All Year Long

 

As my eyelids became heavy, visions of sugar plum fairies danced in my head. Within minutes I was lulled into dreamland, and into magical thoughts of Christmas.

What if you could collect all the good things about Christmas and capture them in a bottle?

Sort of like a ship in a bottle, or seashells and sand in a bottle…

But this bottle would capture the night baby Jesus was born, the smell of pine trees, Christmas carols, the way snow feels when it touches your face, kittens’ whiskers, Christmas lights…the feeling of Christmas in your heart.

And whenever you’re having a bad day, you could just open the bottle and sprinkle Kindness, Love, and Hope on yourself, or on all the Bob Cratchit’s of the world.

I thought to myself as I awoke from slumber, ‘Christmas in a Bottle’ is just a dream.

We need to remember to be kind, helpful and loving to others on a daily basis, especially to those we meet on the street.

It doesn’t take much effort or money to open a door, buy a coffee, start a conversation, give a smile or a hug to those you know, or even a perfect stranger.

So this Christmas, I’m challenging you to pay it forward every day.

Once you get in the routine, you’ll do it without thinking.

Merry Christmas!

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Romans 2:10

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.”

~ Eric Hoffer

“Keep your Christmas-heart open all the year round.”

~J. L. W. Brooks

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

~ Roy L. Smith

Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist