Amber Alert

Happy 73rd Birthday, Dad!

My dad passed away twelve years ago (this past January) and I still sincerely and truly miss him.

The past few days have been a time of reflection for me, personally.
On lessons learned...
On love received... and love given...
On happy memories...
On a few regrets...
On my Dad...
On my family...
On myself...

Being reflective allows us to take a good look at ourselves and our lives. Are we where we want to be at this point in life? Am I where I want to be? Where I thought I would be? If not, when did I get off track and how do I get back on?

Actually, I know the answer. I got off track when I stopped making time to commune with God every day. We used to have such a sweet time together -- in His Word, in prayer, in worship. We were connected for a time. I could hear His voice, leading me in the way I should go. The Holy Spirit would prompt and I would move. I had impressions -- visions, some might say - and I could feel the Lord's presence quite frequently.

I miss that! A LOT!

I let *SELF* get in the way and put my own wants ahead of my needs. I need to spend time every day with Jesus, but instead the first thing I do each morning (after using the bathroom, getting dressed, taking care of children, getting children to school, and taking care of the dog) is get on the computer. I need to make time to just SIT quietly and meditate on GOD - but instead, I turn on the radio or TV and fill my head with noise.

With the anniversary of Dad's passing, I am reminded that time moves too swiftly to waste it. Procrastination feels like a soft, warm quilt on a cold, wintry day -- it's so cozy to remain in my little cocoon and forcing myself out of it into the frigid air of life is the last thing I want to do. Procrastination may seem soft and comforting, but in reality it is a great tool of the enemy and one that I've allowed to steal away my time, my energy, my creativity, and my relationship with Christ.

It's time for me to throw off that blanket and step into the cold. It's time to stop looking at the "frigid air" as something to avoid and, instead, embrace it as something invigorating and empowering. It's time to breathe deep and allow it to energize me into living my life the way I was called to live it, rather than remain huddled in a cozy cocoon of stagnation.

I realize this post sounds rather melancholy, but I needed a little time to reflect.

Eat, Drink, and Be Creative!

Did you know that the word "creativity" has the word "eat" in it? See... crEATivity. It also has the word "vity" in it, Latin for vitamin, which indicates there is something intrinsically nourishing in the act creative expression. Okay, you got me -- I made that second part up (and know zilch about Latin), but it sounds good doesn't it? And it makes the perfect segue for me to serve up a new foodishly-fun feature.

Juicy Journals & Wild Words is a new bi-monthly feature by muse-spirational artist and writer Molly Anderson-Childers that will treat you to new articles, resources, and project ideas specific to creating your own personal juicy journals.

Molly says, "We’ll create journals of every stripe, size, shape and color. I have some exquisite projects in store for you — a dream journal, a writer’s notebook, tiny travel-sized journals that fit in your pocket, journals to give away and journals just for you. I have so many ideas, and I’m so excited to share these projects and inspirations with you."

Molly's Juicy Journals & Wild Words will also incorporate an opportunity for you to interact with her and share your ideas and projects on a blog she's set up to accompany this fun feature. So even if you're already into journaling or are ready to begin a new journey in this versatile medium of creative expression, get set for some juicy inspirations!

You can check it out at or at

An Extra Day Doesn't Suit Me

Events in the day of an ordinary day of my life...

The car wouldn't start this morning. I tried several times over a half hour period but the engine just wouldn't catch. Okay, I grudgingly accept that the car won't start. The four of us (myself and three kids) get all bundled up so we can walk the two blocks to my son's bus stop. My foster daughter keeps walking into the cross-roads instead of stopping to look for traffic and she cannot understand why I am so upset. Duh. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait very long... just 10 very cold minutes in the snow. My son gets on the bus and the rest of us walk back home. My foster daughter was in slow motion today and barely had done all of her hygiene (major issue) so her reading for this morning wasn't completed but we didn't have time to get it done because we had to get bundled back up -- hats, scarfs, gloves, boots, coats -- again and walked the 8 blocks to school. Then, I walked back home. The walk home is mostly uphill. Ugh! I get home and called the mechanic that I usually deal with. He was nice enough to come to the house and get the car started. I get into the car to go do my errands for today. I got to the bank and Rent-A-Center. I came home to use the bathroom. While home I got several phone calls about various matters. One phone call was from Housing Authority. My annual contract is due at Midnight tonight, March 1st. They have not done the paperwork to get my contract in order for this year. What?! They call to inform me they need more papers from several different agencies/offices TODAY. I re-arrange my schedule and head to these various offices. On my way again, I'm trying to remember what all I need to do today. I see lights flashing a few cars behind me while at a stop light. I moved over to let the emergency vehicle pass. Instead, they pull behind me. Oh, no. My car's registration and inspection is out-of-date. Double, oh, no!! I get a huge fine and am told my car is illegal so they are going to impound it. Triple, oh, no!!! While waiting for the tow company, the police officer calls to see if my insurance is current. He tells me its not. Quadruple, oh, no!!!! BTW, I called this evening and my policy is current. Thankfully -- trying to find the silver lining, -- they will two the car to my mechanic's garage. At least, I know where the car is but it is many, many miles away and now I am stuck without a car. Now I have to walk a couple of miles home... all I can think about while trying not to fall in the falling snow and on the icy sidewalks is how will I come up with the money to pay for the car repairs to get the car inspected. I don't have the money for this expense right now. I get home and make several more phone calls. One phone call comes in from my dear friend, Sandy. She informs she is on the way to the hospital. I burst into tears. She is having heart problems and they are admitting her to the hospital. She calls me for a ride and I don't have a car to get her to the hospital. Now I feel like a failure. She is depending on me and I let her down. I am blubbering on the phone when she calls me for support. We talk a few minutes more and I put on a brave face for her. We hang up and I lay down on the couch and cry and pray and cry and question my beliefs. After this emotional ride, I walk the few miles to the Housing Authority office to drop off the papers that need to be turned in today. I get home in time to sweep (I am not able to shovel due to the weight) the four inches of snow we got today... today while I have been out walking. Then it's time to go get my son so I walk to his bus stop. My son is overloaded with books and has a hard time getting off the bus. He is in the process of switching schools due to behavioral, emotional, and learning problems. Now we have a good 20 pounds of books, notebooks, etc., to carry home. Whew! Glad we only have to go two blocks. We drop the school paraphernalia off at home and start the walk to the elementary school where the girls attend. By the time we get there, kids are already being dismissed. They let the children out ten minutes early but didn't notify any parents/guardians of this. The four us walk back to the house. We get homework done and I go back outside to sweep another couple of inches of snow off the sidewalk. It won't stop snowing today. We get dinner ready. The kids eat but I go back out to sweep more snow. However, I cannot sweep the snow because now it's raining and sweeping just won't work. I'm wet... I'm sore.... I'm tired!

When do I get a break? When do I get to breathe and relax? Who needs an extra day to deal with all this chaos?

February Freebie

This offer is completely legitimate. It's a new magazine published by Better Homes and Gardens. They are giving away FREE 3-year(three) subscriptions until they get the numbers of subscribers up. They do this because the more subscribers they have, the more money they can charge advertisers.

It's called Living the Country Life. Go to and fill out the subscription information.

The magazine offers lots of useful information for people who are growing their own food or have plans to do so.

How To Determine How Old A Dog is in Human Years

This was taken from the behavioral guide "Because A Good Dog Is Good To Have" written by Joe White.

7 years for every chronological year (calendar year) is not the measurement used to determine a dog’s age.
If you think about it makes sense...

A dog born today will possibly be leaving his mom and walking into his new home at a mere 8 weeks of age.

The formula is based upon the facts that smaller dogs develop and age more slowly then larger dogs and certain years of a dog's life count for more than others.

What is your dog’s equivalent age to a humans?

0-20 lbs 21-50 lbs 50-120 lbs 120+ lbs
3 years 28 yrs 29 yrs 31 yrs 39 yrs
4 years 32 34 38 49
5 years 36 39 45 59
6 years 40 44 52 69
7 years 44 49 59 79
8 years 48 54 66 89
9 years 52 59 73 99
10 years 56 64 80 --
11 years 60 69 87 --
12 years 64 74 94 --
13 years 68 79 -- --
14 years 72 84 -- --
15 years 76 89 -- --
16 years 80 94 -- --
17 years 84 -- -- --
18 years 88 -- -- --
19 years 92 -- -- --
20 years 96 -- -- --

Fibromyalgia Defined


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) produces chronic body-wide pain, which migrates and can be felt from head to toe.

Fibromyalgia is an increasingly recognized chronic pain illness which is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue, and sleep disturbances. The most common sites of pain include the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle, and hands, but any body part can be involved. Fibromyalgia patients experience a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane over time.

FMS (fibromyalgia (fi-bro-my-Al-juh) syndrome) is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the fibrous tissues in the body. The pain comes from the connective tissues, such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. FMS does not involve the joints, as does rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

A complex chronic painful condition, primarily occurring in women, characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, and fatigue, and accompanied by tender points at defined locations, often associated with a non-restorative sleep pattern.

Fibromyalgia is considered an arthritis-related condition. However,it is not a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) since it does not cause inflammation in the joints, muscles, or other tissues or damage them. But fibromyalgia can (like arthritis) cause significant pain and fatigue and it can similarly interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes fatigue and amplified musculoskeletal pain all over the body. It affects women more than men, particularly women of childbearing age. Approximately 2% of the population suffers from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia makes even the slighest physical stimuli to the body seem ultra painful. It is thought that persons with fibromyalgia process pain differently in their bodies, causing the syndrome. Fibromyalgia pain is widespread throughout the body. If a patient has 11 out of 18 tender points found in specific locations such as the base of the skull, the hip bone, etc., a fibromyalgia diagnosis is made. In general, pain is felt in the neck, back, shoulders, hips, buttocks and arms.

A syndrome characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness of muscles, tendons, and joints without detectable inflammation. Fibromyalgia does not cause body damage or deformity. However, undue fatigue plagues the large majority of patients with fibromyalgia and sleep disorders are common in fibromyalgia.

What You Should Know About Me

My pain - My pain is not your pain. It is not caused by inflammation. Taking your arthritis medication will not help me. I can not work my pain "out" or "shake it off." It is not even a pain that stays put. Today it is in my right shoulder, lower back, and left hip, but tomorrow it may be in my foot, other hip, or gone. My pain is believed to be caused by improper signals sent to the brain, possibly due to sleep disorders. It is not well understood, but it is real.

My fatigue - I am not merely tired. I am often in a severe state of exhaustion. I may want to participate in physical activities, but I can't. Please do not take this personally. If you saw me shopping in the mall yesterday, but I can't help you with yard work today, it isn't because I don't want to. I am, most likely, paying the price for stressing my muscles beyond their capability.

My forgetfulness - Those of us who suffer from it call it "fibrofog." I may not remember your name, but I do remember you. I may not remember what I promised to do for you, even though you told me just seconds ago. My problem has nothing to do with my age but may be related to sleep deprivation. I do not have a selective memory. On some days, I just don't have any short-term memory at all.

My clumsiness - If I step on your toes or run into you five times in a crowd, I am not purposely targeting you. I do not have the muscle control for that. If you are behind me on the stairs, please be patient. These days I take life and stairwells one step at a time.

My sensitivities - I just can't stand it! "It" could be any number of things: bright sunlight, loud or high-pitched noises, odors. FMS has been called the "aggravating everything disorder." So don't make me open the drapes or listen to your child scream. I really can't stand it.

My intolerance - I can't stand heat, either. Or humidity. I perspire -- profusely. It's embarrassing so please don't feel compelled to point this shortcoming out to me. I know. And don't be surprised if I shake uncontrollably when it's cold. I don't tolerate cold, either. My internal thermostat is broken, and nobody knows how to fix it.

My depression - Yes, there are days when I would rather stay in bed or in the house or die. I have lost count of how many of Dr. Kevorkian's patients suffered from FMS as well as other related illnesses. Severe, unrelenting pain can cause depression. Your sincere concern and understanding can pull me back from the brink. Your snide remarks can tip me over the edge.

My stress - My body does not handle stress well. If I have to give up my job, work part time, or handle my responsibilities from home, I'm not lazy. Everyday stresses make my symptoms worse and can incapacitate me completely.

My weight - I may be fat. It is not by choice. My body is not your body. My appetite is broken and nobody can tell me how to fix it.

My good days - If you see me smiling and functioning normally, don't assume I am well. I suffer from a chronic pain and fatigue illness with no cure. I can have my good days or weeks or even months. In fact, the good days are what keep me going.

My uniqueness - Even those who suffer from FMS are not alike. That means I may not have all of the problems mentioned above. I do have pain above and below the waist and on both sides of my body which has lasted for a very long time. I may have migraines or hip pain or shoulder pain or knee pain, but I do not have exactly the same pain as anyone else.

I hope that this helps you understand me, but if you still doubt my pain, your local bookstore, library, and the Internet have many good books and articles on fibromyalgia.

100th Snack

The 100th day of school consists of a simple celebration in the elementary school, so we made an easy snack for my daughter's first grade class.

100th Day Snack
30 Cheerios
15 Raisins
15 Chocolate Chips
20 M&Ms
10 small Pretzels
10 Peanuts
100 Total

Of course, you could add other stuff like crackers, pine nuts, etc. Switch the amounts around too... as long as the total for each individual bag is 100.

Computer Tips #2 - Monitor Flickering

Every so often on my old computer, the monitor will start flickering. At first, it doesn't seem to be so noticeable. After a few minutes, it's irritating. Don't call the Geek Squad just yet; you can fix this all by yourself.

Depending on the version of Windows you are using the terminology may be slightly different.

Windows 98
Go to Control Panel.
Click on Monitor... Configuration... Advanced Options... Monitor.
The number should read 60. If not, change it to 60.

Windows XP
Go to Control Panel.
Click on Appearance & Themes... Change Screen Resolution... Advanced... Monitor tab.
The number should read 60. If not, change it to 60.

Windows Vista
Go to Control Panel.
Click on Appearance & Personalization... Personalization... Adjust Screen Resolution... Advanced Settings... Monitor.
The number should read 60. If not, change it to 60.

In Europe, The Hertz is set at 50.

Other reasons your monitor can be flickering is that something -- telephone, stereo, TV, etc. -- can be interfering with your monitor.

Thankful... or Not... Thursday

Today is starting off rough here in the Litz house. Car won't start... too cold. My car door doesn't open from the inside so I was stuck -- literally -- in my freezing car for 15 minutes struggling and trying to climb over the seat to get out the passenger door. Not a pretty sight. All out of breath and really upset. Why is this bothering me so much?

I go into the house to cancel my morning appointments... not a good thing and there will be repercussions later. I tell the kids they are not going to school... and I'll pay dearly for that later since I added more stress onto myself by letting them stay home. There was no way I was walking them to school.

As I am going through the day's calendar and appts. I see I have a house inspection today and the house is trashed. I still have some Chrsitmas trees up, all in various stages of undress, the floors are dirty due to all the rain and snow we've had. My fibromyalgia does't want to cooperate with me so I can get these simple household chores done. Ugh!

So, instead, of cleaning and doing chores, I sit here at the computer whining to all of you.

Today is Thankful Thursday, and after the first hour being totally shot, I am struggling to come up with a list...

Today, I am thankful for...
1. The warmth of my home.
2. That my children love me even when I am crying.
3. My Chihuhua, Champ.

Accept Compliments Gracefully

Today's Affirmation: I deserve to complimented and accept them with ease.

The "Month of Super Short Stories" Tag Book

Seen recently on Cathy Zielske's blog, "Can you tell little short stories, on and off, for one continuous month of your life?

Presenting the "Month of Super Short Stories" Tag Book...

...So here’s the thingie I’m making (with an emphasis on making as it’s not even remotely done). I’m getting everything prepped to do a tag book that will span one month’s time and be a cute little holding pen for random everyday story snippets and photos. I will begin collecting said data on March 1.

What are you going to record? Whatever the heck you want to, but the challenge is this: just pick one thing from the day you're recording, and write down a little tiny story about it. The tags I designed for this mini-book only give you so much room to write, so the exercise is all about choosing your words carefully, and realizing you don’t need to write a thesis to adequately capture a moment/story/bit & piece of your daily life.

Maybe you will write about your wild success with laundry on a Tuesday. Or the way you had a massive, institutionalization-worthy meltdown on Saturday. Whatever goes, goes. Just find a way to write a mini-record of one thing from one chosen day."

Cool idea, Cathy. Won't you join this challenge?

Family Minute #3

Whatever happened to common courtesy?

Let’s face it, common courtesy is pretty uncommon these days. Do you hold the door open for people? Do you say “thank-you” when people hold a door open for you? Do you remember to say “please” and “thank-you” to the sales clerk, the mechanic, or the person at the drive-thru window? Do your co-workers or employees think of you as a courteous person?

And what about your spouse and children? Do you show them the same level of courtesy and respect that you show to the outside world?

Make common courtesy a common practice. Who knows, you might even set off a chain reaction.

Remember your family first.

A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year-old)

A veterinarian was called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. The veterinarian examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. The family was told there wasn't anything that good be done for Belker and the veternarian offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As the arrangements were made, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, the family surround Belker. Shane seemed so calm while petting the old dog for the last time, that the vet wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. The family sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, they turned to him.

Shane said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life - like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?"

The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Isn't that a comforting thought?! How smart is Shane?!!!

What Are Fibromyalgia Tender Points?

Definition: Fibromyalgia is a soft tissue or muscular rheumatism, often called a rheumatic syndrome, with widespread pain in muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues, resulting in muscle pain without muscle weakness. Unlike some types of arthritis and rheumatic conditions, fibromyagia does not cause joint deformities.

Tender points are specific places on the body (18 specific points at 9 bilateral locations) that are exceptionally sensitive to the touch in people with fibromyalgia upon examination by a doctor.

Tender points of fibromyalgia exist at these nine bilateral muscle locations: Low Cervical Region: (front neck area) at anterior aspect of the interspaces between the transverse processes of C5-C7.
Second Rib: (front chest area) at second costochondral junctions.
Occiput: (back of the neck) at suboccipital muscle insertions.
Trapezius Muscle: (back shoulder area) at midpoint of the upper border.
Supraspinatus Muscle: (shoulder blade area) above the medial border of the scapular spine.
Lateral Epicondyle: (elbow area) 2 cm distal to the lateral epicondyle.
Gluteal: (rear end) at upper outer quadrant of the buttocks.
Greater Trochanter: (rear hip) posterior to the greater trochanteric prominence.
Knee: (knee area) at the medial fat pad proximal to the joint line.

How To Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia symptoms can overlap with autoimmune diseases and other musculoskeletal conditions making it difficult to diagnose. The defining symptoms of fibromyalgia are often associated with other subjective and objective symptoms which occur in combination.

It is estimated that fibromyalgia syndrome affects about 2 percent of the U.S. population.

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) listed two primary criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia. 1) A history of widespread pain involving all four quadrants of the body (right side, left side, above waist, below waist) for a period of at least 3 months.

The second criteria from the ACR which points to fibromyalgia is, upon physical examination, the presence of pain in at least 11 of 18 tender points when touched or pressed with force amounting to the equivalent of 4 kg. or 9 lbs.

What Are Fibromyalgia Tender Points?

More recent data indicates that there may be an increased sensitivity to pain throughout the body, pain may be migratory (move around) or may exist as chronic regional pain. Most experts are said to believe fibromyalgia results from abnormal central nervous system function. Response to stress and psychobehavioral factors may also contribute to fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia primarily occurs in women of childbearing age. Children, the elderly, and men can also be affected. Besides the defining symptoms of pain and tenderness, there are many nondefining symptoms associated with fibromyalgia including:

Fatigue, night sweats and sleep disturbances.

Memory difficulties and cognitive difficulties.

Tension or migraine headaches, temporomandibular joint syndrome, rib cage pain (noncardiac chest pain), chronic pelvic pain, plantar or heel pain.

Fluctuations in weight, heat or cold intolerance, subjective feeling of weakness.

Ear-nose-throat complaints, multiple chemical sensitivities and a wide array of allergic symptoms.

Hearing, vision, and vestibular (balance) abnormalities.

Heartburn, palpitations and irritable bowel syndrome.

Evidence on echocardiogram of mitral valve prolapse, esophageal dysmotility (muscles of esophagus not working properly), neurologic conditions causing hypotension (low blood pressure) and syncope (fainting).

Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety occur more commonly in people who have fibromyalgia.

Around the 'Net - CakeMix Doctor

CakeMix Doctor

Remember the 'from scratch' cakes that your grandmother used to bake? Now that the public has lost the desire to 'sift and measure,' cake mixes have taken over the market; over 60 percent of American households use cake mixes. However, most of us recognize the box products as exactly what they are, mixes. Let Anne Byrn, The CakeMix Doctor, help you jazz up those box cakes – from Banana Cake to Chocolate Kahlua Cake to Ricotta Cheesecake, you're certain to find just the cake to tempt your taste buds. The site also features an 'Ask Anne' section should you have individual questions as well as a Community Board that allows visitors to chat with other 'boxers.' Now that Anne is on the scene, cake bakers can 'come out of the pantry' and have more time to produce other culinary delights.

Tagged - 5

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Chocolate... dark chocolate, milk chocolate, hot chocolate, chocolate ice cream, Hershey's, Dove.
2. Lay's Classic Potato Chips with Helluva French Onion Dip.
3. Mountain Dew... not a snack but cannot live without it.
4. Extra Cool Watermelon Gum.
5. Bananas and apples. I'm not a total junkie.

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:
1. Man, I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain. It's my son's favorite song. :)
2. Most of the old Billy Joel songs.
3. I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me.
4. Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lower.
5. Awesome God by Rich Mullins.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1. Pay for this house.
2. Finish the basement, add security fence, and landscaping to this house.
3. Buy a new SUV.
4. Donate to some of my favorite charities.
5. Take a vacation with my kids and then a vacation without my kids.

Five bad habits:
1. Snacking at night.
2. Spending too much time on the computer.
3. Yelling at my children.
4. Procrastinating.
5. Not exercising enough... lately not exercising at all.

Five things you like doing:
1. Reading... mysteries, crafting magazines, women magazines, blogs, the Holy Bible, parenting books.
2. Spending time with my children.
3. Spending time with my Chihuahua, Champ.
4. Going out to eat. It rarely happens and I truly having someone else cook for me.
5. Scrapbooking and taking photos.

Five things you would never wear again:
1. Stirrup pants.
2. Leg warmers.
3. Sleeveless tops in public.
4. Anything that is "just" the right size. All of my comfortable clothes are a little loose which is why they are more comfortable.
5. Big round, 80s glasses.

Five favorite toys:
1. Computer and internet.
2. Telephone.
3. Cameras... both 35mm and digital.
4. Any board games or card games my children enjoy when they include me (read: allow me) to play.
5. Television.

Make Me Laugh Monday - Safe Sex Dress

Just when you thought you had seen it all... A safe sex dress. Pretty original, to say the least.

The Internet Has Standards Too

Scrapbook Sharing

January and February was/is a slow scrapbooking period. Then, it took me a long time to get the layouts scanned but I finally did it. So now I will share my layouts with you. Thanks for looking.

Easter Trees

A colorful basket filled with dyed, hard-boiled eggs nestled in a bed of glistening grass says Easter like nothing else.

But when you combine Easter eggs, baskets, bunnies and spring flowers with the spindly branches of a budding forsythia bush or a cherry tree, you have all the makings of a fun way to celebrate the holiday with the creation of an Easter tree.

Decorating evergreen or leafless trees with eggs at Easter have long been the tradition in Germany and the Ukraine. When German settlers immigrated to the states, many brought with them their Easter tradition of decorating trees with eggs, which symbolize rebirth, renewal, and resurrection.

The tradition slowly caught in America with its origin dating back to just after the Civil War. It has gained momentum with the rising popularity of Katherine Milhous' children's book, "The Egg Tree."

Milhous tells the story of a little girl who discovers her grandmothers old hand-painted Easter eggs in the attic and inspires the renewal of the Easter egg tree tradition in her family.

It is a tradition that has become, for many, part of the annual spring holiday decorating frenzy.

"I think it's a sign of springtime," said Brenda Sink, activities director at The Summit Place of North Myrtle Beach in Little River, S.C.

An Easter egg tree was a fixture in Wayne Graffius' home when he was growing up in Pennsylvania. The family tree featured handpainted eggs, their insides blown out through tiny holes on either end, with ribbon attached for hanging. The whole family was in on the decorating.

"We always had one, and we used actual branches of a forsythia or cherry tree, and we'd force them to open," Graffius said.

Graffius, a design consultant, has continued his family tradition this year by creating an Easter egg tree using branches he cut from behind his Myrtle Beach, S.C., home. His mother, Elizabeth, helped with the decorations, cutting ribbon for the plastic eggs and attaching flowers to miniature straw hats.

"We always made it the week before, and we'd put our Easter baskets under the tree for the Easter bunny to fill," Graffius said.

Egg trees are widely available for purchase on the Internet or in retail stores, where you can find miniature, leafless wire trees and accompanying ornaments. But Graffius said he prefers to use live branches to create a dramatic centerpiece that can be displayed on a buffet or dining room table.

"You want it to be the centerpiece of the room," he said.

Resources for Easter tree crafts

Our Favorite Recipes -- Cornflake Crust Chicken

15-20 chicken breast tenders, thawed
1 1/2 cups of corn flakes, crushed
salt, pepper, season salt, red pepper, dried parsley, dried basil and dried oregano to taste.
1 egg and 2 tbsp milk

1) Crush flakes and add seasonings. Taste to make sure you have enough.
2) Mix egg and milk together in a small bowl and set aside.
3) Grease bottom of caserole dish with butter. Be very generous.
4) Rinse chicken.
5) Place each piece of chicken into the egg mixture and then into the corn flake mixture.
6) Place in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until done.

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