It is ideal to first make a list of to whom you would like to give a gift then come up with a list for each person of the types of things they like. Of course, sometimes we don’t always do the ideal thing.

At one ladies group I belong to we pick a gift we think anyone in the group will like, then play Bingo as a way of letting members win a wrapped gift. They won’t know what gift they got until they unwrap it when the game is over. It includes the element of surprise which adds more fun to our holiday tradition.

lumiereHomemade gifts are special because they incorporate the elements of time & creativity which the receiver can appreciate. I made a jar lumiere recently using a jar, tissue, scissors, ribbon, bells and glue. You can use any kind of jar you like such as a Mason or pickle jar. Of course, you will need some sort of tea light to go inside. Battery operated is the safest. I hope to make more so I may give one to several family members this year.

Skill and craftsmanship may also play a part in the creation of a gift. My dad made side tables out of wood for my mom with carvings which matched the carvings on her dining room table chairs. They were beautiful. When I was out of college, my mom let me pick out what Christmas dish pattern I liked, then bought me a set of those dishes every year till I had a complete set. She actually worked in a china department and would hand pick the dishes she bought for me. My parents valued quality. My husband says, “No wonder I am spoiled.” Interesting I had picked the pattern with a cardinal for my Christmas dishes. I hadn’t written my story about a cardinal yet.

Something different, one year I surprised my husband by having his guitar refurbished. He hadn’t played it in years in part because he was unhappy with it. I wouldn’t recommend changing someone’s instrument without their permission. I felt ours was a unique situation and fortunately had a happy ending. His guitar sounds and looks nice, except for some accidental scratches I made on the pick guard. My husband said, “Oh well, it looks like I’ve done something with it.”

I hope you will feel free to be creative with your gift giving. Enjoy your holidays.


“The things that we love tell us what we are.” ____Thomas Aquinas. I buy things which look pretty to me. I wear Mary Jane shoes because of their comfort. They’re flat and have room for my toes. They are of reflection of who I am, what I value. I had a Betsy McCall doll when I was a child. I made a dresser with a mirror and chair for my doll using materials we had around the house. I used my creativity and sewing skills to put it together. My mother saved it. One day, when we were both older, she pulled it out of one of her closets. It was the closet in which she apparently kept the special things my sisters and I had made as children. She told me she thought I had done a good job making it. She treasured it and thought it worth holding onto all those years. When people’s houses are destroyed by a flood or such, it’s the irreplaceable items like photos and keepsakes that they miss the most. I have a little bunny craft which my mother made. I’ve kept it because it reminds me of my mother and her talents. It’s another reflection of what I love. I’m sure you have some things for similar reasons.  Cherish those memories.

Event Announcement: Girls Night Out in Waynesville

I’m excited to announce another event where you can find me and Rainier! I will be at The Peddler House for the Girls Night Out event in Waynesville on Saturday, September 29 from 4-8 pm. That’s right, after Rainier and I finish up at theREADLocal Indie Author Fair we’ll be flying down to The Peddler House for Girls Night Out.  

This event is organized by the Waynesville Ohio Merchant’s Association and they’re adding some fun for the ladies with a Photo Prop Contest! All of the participating shops will have different theme props and The Peddler House’s theme is the “Roaring Twenties.” If you’re interested in the Photo Prop contest you can sign up here.

I can't wait to see you and your girlfriends on the evening of the 29th.
Photo Credit: Waynesville Ohio Merchant’s Association

Event Details

What: Girls Night Out

Where: The Peddler House, Waynesville, OH   

258 S Main St

Waynesville, Ohio 45068

When: 9.29.18 from 4 pm – 8 pm

Host: Waynesville Ohio Merchant’s Association 

If you want more information about the event there are a few ways you can stay in touch. Follow me and Rainier through my Facebook page or you can check out the Waynesville Ohio Merchant’s Association Facebook page and theirevent page. I can’t wait to see you and your girlfriends on the evening of the 29th.

READLocal Indie Author Fair Library Image

Event Announcement: READLocal Indie Author Fair

As an indie author, seeing my fans and readers makes my day, it’s always fun to meet those who help me do what I love. I’m excited to announce that I will be in attendance at this year’s READLocal Indie Author Fair at the Midpointe Library. Support your favorite local authors (like me!) at the Midpointe Library in West Chester on September 29, 2018. I will have a table throughout the event where you can purchase a signed copy of “Flip, Flap, Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey.” The event runs from 10 am to 12 pm and will be held in the West Chester Community Room A/B. Come out and say hello to me and Rainier!

READLocal Indie Author Fair Details

Who: Janet Kassalen, Author

What: READLocal Indie Author Fair

Where: Midpointe Library West Chester

9363 Centre Pointe Drive

West Chester, OH 45069

When: 10 am – 12 pm

If you are interested in going or you may know a friend or family member who is interested you can visit and share my READLocal Indie Author Fair event on Facebook.

One can look at encouragement in the past, present and future tenses. in the case of past tense, don’t you just love it when someone says you did a good/great job? Hopefully, you can tell yourself those words of encouragement, too. It helps if you can tell yourself you did everything you could/did the best you could with the time and resources you had available to you, or in the conditions you had to work/perform. I sold a book in the rain last weekend when we were experiencing the effects of Hurricane Gordon. In my book (perhaps a pun) doing so was a success. In the case of a team, you can say we did it (we did a great job)! Try not to play the comparison game, which means, you don’t have to do as well as someone else did to be successful. Do the best you can do. Some people like to share their success stories in hopes of helping you succeed, also. My advice is do what works for you. Just as Rainier, the cardinal in my story, had to try several jobs before he found his dream job, It’s O.K. to try something new.

An example of present encouragement is while exercising in a gym, a coach might say, you’re doing great (you can do it)! If someone says those words to me, I tend to work harder or believe I can do an exercise for that set goal amount of time. A word of caution, don’t try to do something if you think it will hurt you. Sometimes it takes baby steps to work up to a higher level. Or as in toastmasters, practice a speech at the club level at a time when it doesn’t matter if you fail. (In toastmasters, everyone will accept you where you are at. One can feel happy about at least giving something an attempt or learning what doesn’t seem to work.

Future tense. You’ll do great! It’s nice when someone believes in you. It gives you more confidence. Also it helps to believe “I’ll be able to do it!” I’ve come the realize we have control of our confidence. I recall one young lady with cystic fibrosis telling me she believed she had the ability to handle any situation in her life/do whatever she set her mind to. I believed her. And I am sure she did. 

One last thought, as someone once told me, everything will work out. The time might not be right now, but someday it will. And, If someone hasn’t told you so yet today, I will. “I’m so proud of you!” 

Doing something well takes practice. Practice implies work. I could use more practice in various areas of my life such as learning musical instruments, rehearsing speeches, or writing stories. So what keeps me from practicing? To help answer why I seem to have a practicing roadblock, I decided to take a closer look at what practice is.

Practicing gives the muscles of our bodies a chance to learn a new skill. After repeating something several times the movements become more smooth and automatic. To make practicing more enjoyable we can experiment, come up with new ways of practicing, such as pounding a melody out on a piano or clapping a rhythm with our hands.  Breaking (dissecting) a difficult passage (of music for example) up into smaller steps helps us have a better understanding of the passage as a whole. Our brains gain a better understanding of how something works (something ‘clicks’). If we do something once by accident we won’t be able to repeat it because we are not sure how we got there. We would have to try to figure out what happened. If we are lucky, we’ll be able solve the mystery. Hearing a more advanced player play helps us hear how something may be played more beautifully. Then we can try to create a similar sound. We can also experiment and see (hear) what sounds good to us. Since we are each our own individual, we can come up with our own style (uniqueness) . We can create works of art.

So enjoy practicing. Create and be yourself. Actualize the ability within you. Perhaps we weren’t created to be ‘perfect’, but we can work towards it. And remember, you can be perfect in someone’s eyes (even though it might be just your husband’s, grandchild’s, or pet’s).

How to focus on a task. How to get things done. It helps to have a deadline. The deadline may be imposed by someone else or you need to self impose a deadline. You figure out the advantages of setting your target date by such and such a date. Sometimes it’s more advantages to get a task done before the final day it’s due. For example, my six months sales tax was due by Monday June 23rd, but I knew it would be best if I got it done by June 20th because I planned to be out of town for the weekend before taxes were due. I actually had to start planning how I might manage this task way back before January. I ended up having to implement plan B due to I am not the most organized person in the world and had a lot on my plate. I came up with a plan that I thought would work for me. Then I had to make sure I would be able to do what I needed to do, such as find and test out my password for logging into the state tax website. I also wrote down phone numbers of who I could call if I needed help. To help me focus and start doing it, I made myself a checklist of everything I would need to have at my fingertips to get the job done at my work desk where my computer was set up, including a nice glass of ice water in case I got thirsty. Having a comfortable place to work is important. Our nutritional/physical needs play a factor in focusing and getting things done, such as do we have the energy we need to perform a task. Minimizing distractions was on my list. Clearing our minds of things which may distract us is important. Perhaps there is another task we need to get done first so our minds will be more clear to work on a certain project.

There is a lot to focusing. Motivation, minimizing distractions, and perhaps developing a checklist for checking steps off as we go. We have to find out what works for us. O.K. The birds in my backyard are chirping to let me know it may be time to put more birdseed in the bird feeder. I probably have enough of my thoughts typed into my iPad for now. Looks like I’ll make my before the end of the month blog deadline! I’ll have to try working in our sun room again sometime. Adios.

I will be celebrating the anniversary of Flip Flap Try book launch on Saturday July 7th from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. at Farbach Werner Nature Preserve, part of Great Parks of Hamilton County. Everyone is welcome. I have an awful lot of people to thank for supporting me in my first year as an author. To name a few, my author assistant Colleen Wietmarschen and her son Peter helped me through some snags with my book. I hired Peter to help keep my author FB page going. I eventually started learning how to do some things on FB myself. Being a new author continues to be a learning process. I have given a talk at two libraries so far. They were both positive experiences. I thank the library persons who were in charge of the events for taking a chance on me. I am especially grateful my book has, in the words of my life coach Kay Fittes, “touched the hearts of over two hundred people.” I appreciate those who shared stories with me as to how much they themselves, or someone to whom they gave my book, liked it. There are others who helped me on my journey, too. Even though I may not have mentioned you in this blog, please know I am thankful for your help, also. I am looking forward to seeing at least some of you at the anniversary event! P.S. I’ve been baking up a storm getting some food ready for the event. My husband has been my taster. Of course he tells me the muffins are not any good, in hopes he will get to eat them all!

A member of my Seven Hills of Cincinnati Toastmasters club, Terrance Hanks, is a kind hearted soul. He is assistant pastor of Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in the Cincinnati area. He is also Superintendent of Education at this church. “Being superintendent of education encompasses overseeing all educational areas of the church at all levels, adult and youth,” Terrance told me. “The church educational programs include Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Some of the youth will be learning the names of all the books of the Bible this summer.” Terrance purchased five of my Flip Flap Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey books. He plans to give each child who can recite all sixty-six books of the Bible a copy of my book as a prize. Terrance joined Toastmasters International several years ago. He was inspired to join by Otis Williams, a World Champion of Public Speaking, who happens to teach at Northern Kentucky University where Terrance was once one of his students. Our Seven Hills of Cincinnati Toastmasters club is blessed by Terrance’s kind soul and powerful speeches. We will be celebrating our sixty-fourth year as a club at our first meeting in June 2018. You may contact me if you are interested in visiting one of our meetings or purchasing my book.

My book, Flip Flap Fly, starts out and ends with a chorus of birds singing at the crack of dawn. It was the most beautiful thing my husband and I got to experience on one of our camping trips. Every day is a new day to start over, to try again. I would hope that most people are working towards being a better person. I would hope most people work on being kind to others, to the earth and the creatures therein. We also need to work on being kind to ourselves. One way to be kind to ourselves is to respect ourselves, our bodies. Is it being respectful of my body if I reach for a candy bar instead of a banana or other fresh fruit? Is it being respectful of my body if I stay up way past my usual bedtime? Is it being respectful of myself if I try to do more things than I can handle? Is it being respectful of myself if I compare my skill set with others? I sometimes eat candy bars, stay up past my usual bedtime, try to do more than I can handle, and knock myself down if I cannot do something as well as someone else. I do believe eating a candy bar sometimes doesn’t have to be a bad thing, staying up past our bed times may sometimes be warranted, sometimes It’s OK to stretch ourselves to try to do more than we can normally handle, and it may be natural to knock ourselves down sometimes when we cannot do something as well as we feel we could have. My advice, take a deep breath, journal, and plan what you can do better next time if need be. As the birds sing at the crack of dawn, welcome each new day to start over, try again. Try till you fly.