Investigator Anne – Case #5 The Grave of the Indian Princess

Investigator Anne is on the case again!  People, it’s done!  Book #5 is finished and available for sale at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  This is a great book series for your young readers who are into early chapter books.


I’m so excited about this book and I really hope you and your kids enjoy it.

In this new book, Investigator Anne – Case #5 The Grave of the Indian Princess, the Gumshoe Crew stumbles upon a mysterious clue, or rather, a mysterious clue stumbles upon them! The kids must track back through time, and past limits, to solve this case and improve their town. The clock is ticking with the heir of a well-known state leader on their backs. In this adventure, the crew finds themselves in the middle of an historical unsolved mystery—about to be cracked.

Each of the Investigator Anne books has a very subtle science emphasis. In this book, kids will enjoy living the adventure with the Gumshoe Crew, while learning about oxidation, genealogy, and problem-solving.

Let the Races Begin!

We went to the park this morning.  I knew it would be hot today, so we went early to beat the heat.  Maybe we went a little too early, because I think a few of my kids were still half asleep—but after a day of cleaning yesterday, I wanted to do something outside.  The kids were still a little too tired to play tag.  We took some art supplies to sketch with and things like that,  but they weren’t in the mood for sketching.   So this is what happened next…


It’s a home-made genuine Roly Poly Race Track!  *I love it!*


The kids spent some time searching for bugs and spent the next hour playing with them and racing them on the “track.”

I loved this idea, so of course I came home and made a printable Roly Poly Race Track just for fun.  Here you go!  Hope your kiddos enjoy being outside with Roly Poly’s today.

(Just click on the image to open the full-size version for printing)



This is the track all printed out, and in the beginning stages of my daughter coloring it.



This is how the folds should look.  There are dotted lines on the printable to indicate where to make the folds, so just make sure the bug stadium stands are folded like this—kinda like upside down V’s.  Happy racing!

Tool Belt Father’s Day Card


This is a fun Father’s Day card that is easy enough for pretty much anyone to make.  It’s more than a card really, it’s a great Father’s Day kids craft.  Young kids may need a little help.


The “tool belt card” folds into a nice card-shape, which is great if you want to put it into an envelope.


Here’s what you’ll need:  Printouts of the two printables below, scissors, glue stick.  You could also use some crayons or markers if you want to color the card with some personal touches. *Note: you could print this on any kind of paper, but cardstock or heavy paper works best.  I used a tan-colored cardstock for the card, and gray and blue cardstock for the tools.



Just click on these pics to get to the full-size version, then print them.  Both files are attached to the link, so be sure to scroll through both pages on the link to see both the card and the tools pages.


After you print the pages, just cut out the card and the pockets.  Fold the card, accordian-style, like shown above.


Put glue on the sides and bottom edge of the pockets, like shown.


As far as the hammer loop, just put a little glue on each of the sides, like this.


Then glue the pockets and hammer loop on to the card.


After I cut out the tools, I glued them on some blue paper, and cut them out again.  I just wanted to add a little more color, but you definitely don’t have to do that if you’re not a fan of cutting.  Feel free to keep it as simple as you want to, Dad will still love it.  Smile


All finished!  The pockets are also a great place to stick a gift card into as well.


You could just print this and color them like this too, to make it more fun for the kiddos, whatever you prefer.  Just have fun!

Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers out there!

Solar Science Project

Our daughter was assigned to complete a science project.  She could choose any subject, but needed to ask scientific questions that she was curious about, then try to answer them with a project.  She then had to put together a power-point presentation and present her findings to the class.  She chose to learn more about solar power. (Nope, no baking soda volcanoes or dropping mentos in soda for this girl)


She had several questions.  (1) How does solar power work? (2) Can I charge my Kindle completely by solar power? (3) What direction do solar panels have to be to get the most power?


She and Mr. Everything set to work so she could figure these things out.  They ordered some solar cells and supplies.


You don’t have to make a solar panel.  You could buy one already put together, but we found that it’s more cost-effective to make one.


This is a solar cell.  You have to weld the solar cells together to make a panel.


(She’s doing such a good job!)


These are the backs of the solar cells.


(Solar cells are pretty fragile.  Oops.)




When the cells are all welded together, this is what they look like in the frame.  Mr. Everything wired it up to connect it to the house.

She discovered lots of things while doing this project.  Now that it is set up, it can not only power her Kindle (about 100 times a day), but it also powers three entire rooms in our house!  That saves us a lot of $$.  Solar is the way to go!


Each book in the Investigator Anne book series has a subtle science emphasis.  If you want your child to learn more about solar power and other renewable energy sources, they should definitely read this book, “Investigator Anne Case #3 – Unexpected Excavation.”

If you want to learn more about solar power and ways to save energy, check out our friend’s blog “John Saves Energy” at

Book Background

People ask me all the time where I get the ideas for my books.  There really isn’t one answer.  Ideas come from everywhere—people I meet, places I go, things I learn and do.  But usually I can pinpoint a place or time when a big idea starts to happen.  In the case of my newest book, the idea for the story started when my friend, Mirielle, took me and my kids on a historical tour of our town.


We learned all kinds of things about what used to go on around here.  There used to be a lot of commotion between Indians and settlers in these parts.


This old building was a famous stop for travelers and goldrushers, called the “20-Mile House.”


We learned a lot about the people and buildings that first formed this town.




We learned all kinds of stories about things that happened to the people that lived here.  The town’s history is filled with adventure and excitement, mystery and discovery.  I walked around town getting totally inspired with a new book idea.  Two years later, the story is now finished and is about to be sent to the editor.  The illustrations are finished, and now I’m just working on the book cover.  It’s all coming together, and I can’t wait for the big book release soon.  I hope you and your kids will enjoy this book when it’s finished.  Stay tuned, I will let you know as soon as the book is released!

(It was an awesome tour!  Thanks again, Mirielle, for such a fun and educational afternoon that day.)

…and we’re back to Spring. Thank you.


It’s hard to believe it has been snowing the past two days!  My kids spent Monday afternoon playing in the snow and building a snowman, the whole works.  By the looks of things now, you’d never tell!  It’s amazing how fast things change.  That’s Colorado for you.  We’ve gone from snow boots to popsicles in a day.  Welcome back, Sunshine!


Goodbye snow.

Unexpected Surprise

This is not exactly what I was wishing for on Mother’s Day.


Looks like Mother Nature wanted some attention too.  It snowed like this all day yesterday, and hasn’t let up.  The storm has been going strong all day today as well.  I can hardly believe that it is May 12th, and I had to dig the winter boots and coats out of storage for my kids this morning.  I really thought we were done with snow gear for the season.


Ah well, I guess even Mother Nature gets mood swings.  Looks like my veggie starts are going to have to wait a little longer to be planted though.

Dinosaur Territory


The leftover glass stones and rocks from our paper flower project have made a great little habitat for our dinosaurs and plastic bugs.  Yes, the kids are in heaven.



I won’t be surprised if some fairies show up later.


It’s days like these when I get inspiration to write books like this.  If your child likes digging, dinosaurs, and mysteries, they will definitely enjoy this book!

Super Easy Paper Flower Pens


This is a great gift for Mother’s Day or for Teacher Appreciation Week.  These flowers look beautiful, and you will be surprised at how easy they are to make!

Basic RGB

First, start by printing out this template (click HERE, or on the image for the printable version).  Each sheet will make ONE flower, so print as many sheets as flowers that you want.  Don’t worry about printing on any special paper, regular printer paper is what I used and it works great…just part of what makes this SO easy.


Use watercolor paint and have your child paint to their heart’s content, right onto the template.  The paper will get buckled and the paints will smear—and that’s perfect!  (Tip:  the finished flower looks really great if you paint the largest and smallest shapes one color, and the medium shapes a contrasting color)


When the paint is dry, just cut the flower shapes out, then cut cross-hair slits in the center of each shape, right where the small circle is.


Push the shapes onto the top of a pen, from largest to smallest.  (Note:  I used black pens with lids.  I took the lids off and stuck them on the top of the pen, then attached the flowers.  This way, the pen is ready to be used, and adds a little height to the flower as well)


When all the pieces are on, I wrapped a little florist tape around the top of the pen lid, as well as underneath the flower.  This will hold the flower in place so the pieces don’t slide off (you could also add a little hot glue onto the pen tip before wrapping the tape, if you want).  Squish the upper pieces together  so they kind of form up, then squish the bottom piece down just a tad—this will make it look very flower-like.  20140508_121011

For the flower leaves, I used 1/2” green ribbon, cut to about 5 inches in length.  Just tie once, then secure it with a little hot glue under the knot.


I found these cute glass jars, and filled them with rocks and green glass stones.  Won’t these cute pen flowers look cute on the teacher’s desk, or maybe next to Mom’s computer, or by the kitchen phone?

The best part is that it is truly hand-painted, and any child will feel so proud of the end product.

The hand-painted bloom is perfect for adding the child’s touch to a beautiful gift for anyone…and it’s SO easy!


Getting Flashbacks


Except for the red hair, this is pretty much a flash back moment.  Yes, this illustration is flashing me back to my good old college days.  I always had paint on my cheek, and all over my art smock.  In my early married days we lived in a small apartment.  I had a small painting space to work in, so when I was working on large paintings, I’d turn some binoculars backwards so that I could “back up” in a way and see my paintings from a distance.  I’d use a small ladder to reach the top of the painting.  I had a habit of turning the paintbrush backwards and scratching the top of my head with the end of it, so I would often get paint strokes on the ceiling.  There were always smudges of paint on the phone and the doorknobs.


This character is an important key in the solving of the newest case for the Gumshoe Crew.  I am getting so close to finishing the illustrations for the new Investigator Anne book, “Case #5 – The Grave of the Indian Princess.”  I just finished illustration #84 out of about 100.  Hoping to do some more tonight.  (I’ve got to go out and weed my garden in the meantime though.  Planting time is coming!)