Relishing Summer

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis blog post by Gayle M. Irwin


During summer it’s easy to “relish” – watermelon, apples, ice cream, ice tea, the occasional strawberry daiquiri or margarita (or both!): all quench a parched throat, dry from summer’ warmth.

But, there are other things to “relish” as well these days: the season itself with respite from snow and cold; hikes and walks in woodland splendor; laughter of children; companionship of family and friends – treasures of summer’s majesty.

Writers Group at CabinI’ve been fortunate to relish – and revel in – many things this season, like cabin solitude and cabin time shared with family and friends, including my parents, and good friends such as my writer’s group just a few weeks ago; and the spider-webbing of my writing through new magazine and blog opportunities, several of which will be published this fall. I recently received the new copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? and had my first sales of the book last Friday! I spoke at a library and senior center in a town about 90 miles south of Casper and connected with more dog people, and later this month I travel to Colorado to speak at the Fort Collins Senior Center. I relish these opportunities to share uplifting presentations with a call to action – to help animal rescue groups in the area. During this particular weekend I will continue my travel south to New Mexico, to visit a friend I’ve known more than 35 years, and then drive back north with a stop in Colorado Springs to visit places I’ve not seen, like Garden of the Gods and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. I’m also planning to share dinner with Doris McGraw!

TetonsIn July I spent time with another friend, someone I’ve known about 30 years, when he and his family visited Teton National Park, therefore, I was fortunate to return to a lovely part of my state: Jackson, the Tetons, Yellowstone National Park. My parents visited at the end of July, and in September my father and I will visit national parks in Utah as well as the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to a few of these places; my dad never has. At 78 years of age, he’s put this trip on his “bucket list,” and I will “relish” sharing this vacation – and nature’s grandeur – with him.

I relish writing, speaking, travel, knowledge, my pets, family, and friends.

Many people make relish from summer gardens – I remember my mother doing that for years. I am neither a cook nor a gardener so my “relish” is a savoring of life’s sweetness when certain opportunities come my way: enjoyment of friends and family; sharing my passions, talents, and gifts in a variety of ways; and creating memories … and anticipating more in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

What “sweetness” will you be relishing soon? SAVOR!!



Gayle with book buyerGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What? to be released August 19, 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, Douglas Budget, and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at


Walking_FrontCover_small       Dog Devotion Book_Cover_FinalChicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover    Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014    SageBigAdventureFront-small     SageLearnsShareFront-small

Cookin’ the Books

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

As much as I like a good mystery (of fiction, or suspense), sometimes there is nothing I want to do more than curl up with a cookbook, or brand new cooking magazine.

To me there is nothing more relaxing then paging through a cookbook. Baking, one-dish wonders, Betty Crocker or the local ladies’ auxiliary, it doesn’t matter, I love them all.file000109313687

I can happily spend an entire evening leafing through the book’s glossy pages marking every recipe I think sounds good with a little sticky note. Most of the time, I make only one or two of the recipes I mark and end up peeling off about 50 sticky notes before I return the book from the library, but it’s the thought that counts.

Since, my budget prevents me from having an extensive collection of cookbooks at home, so I rely on our weekly trips to the library. When I am done combing through the new fiction releases, I head over to the new cookbooks. If there are no new releases, I head back into the stacks.

I love stumbling across fun cookbooks like the one put out by our community. This particular cookbook featured the favorite recipes of our local celebrity groundhog, Jimmy. Yes, it was a bit tongue in cheek, but still had some recipes you might consider making.

I have a soft spot for cookbooks that give a peek into the tastes and methods from years past. The Laura Ingalls Wilder cookbook was packed full on interesting tidbits from Laura’s frontier life. No, I couldn’t get her recipe for breakfast bread to work out, but I had a good time trying it out.

I also like cookbooks that tie into a book series, like Joanne Fluke’s Lake Eden Cookbook or Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Grove Cookbook. Now, I’ve only read a few of Fluke’s books and non of Macomber’s but the cookbooks made for a good read…and who can’t doesn’t like a recipe that comes with a little story…even if it’s fiction.

Follow me on Facebook
Check out my jewelry on Etsy







How Do You Pick a Book?

This post by Jennifer Flaten

Spring is here! Finally. Today, for the first time, in what seems like forever, the sun is shining and it is going to be warm(ish) and the best part…no rain in the forecast. We’ve had rain in the forecast every day for about three weeks.

While all the rain prevented me from getting outside and gardening; it did give me a very good excuse to curl up on the couch and read. All right, so maybe I don’t need an excuse to read, but the rain did make me feel less guilty about reading instead of doing yard work (or housework).

I had a stack of books from the library, only a few new releases the rest I found deep in the stacks.

Here is my library ritual. I go to the new release shelf first. I look over all the new releases carefully-yes, even the non-fiction and biographies. Depending on how many new books catch my eye, then I head for the stacks.


English: The interior of the Barnes & Noble lo...
English: The interior of the Barnes & Noble located at The Grove at Farmers Market. Photographed and uploaded by user:Geographer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sometimes, I am specifically looking for a book, sometimes I am just hoping to get lucky and discover a new series or author. If I don’t have a book or author in mind, then I just pick an aisle/letter and start browsing.

I find myself selecting the books off the shelf and after reading the book jacket discover that a)I’ve read it before or b)I’ve pulled it off the shelf and read the description before. There must be something about that particular title or letter coloring (or whatever) that really attracts me.

Judging a book by its cover (art) is one thing, I know that I’ve picked up or not, a book based on its cover art, but how about what draws you to pick a book from the shelf when all you see is its spine.

At Barnes and Noble, they have a new fun thing Blind Date with a book. They have several different books wrapped up in white paper (thick so you can’t peek) with a few descriptive words on the front. You take a book based on the description and see if you like it. I think it is fun to try to guess which book it is by the descriptions. Not sure if I would actually buy a book blind date style though.

What do you think-what are your book buying habits?

Follow me on Facebook
Visit my website Dragon and Butterfly Design
Browse me shop on Etsy


Library Cards

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

I just learned an amazing fact from my public library (via Facebook, but that still counts right?) until around 1896 children were considered a nuisance in public libraries and were often not allowed in the library until they were at least 14.


San Diego City College Learing Recource City r...
San Diego City College Learing Recource City retrieve a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Anne Carroll Moore organized and ran the first children’s library at Pratt Library Institute, a children’s book Miss Moore Thought Otherwise is available from Amazon and tells the story of Miss Moore’s quest to bring children into the library.

I don’t remember how old I was when I got my first library card; I guess I take my library privileges for granted. When I read Stephen King’s It as a kid, I remember being amazed at the fact that one character had to have his mother’s permission to check out books, and couldn’t take more than 2 books at a time! Two books, I don’t think I’ve ever checked out only two books even when I was a kid.

Finding the local library and getting a card is one of the first things I do every time we move. The library is important to us; we go once a week without fail.

Naturally, all my kids have their own library card. We made a big deal about getting their own card. We tied it in with the girls 9th birthday, by then they’d been asking for their own card for quite some time.

We waited until then, not because the library had an age restriction, in fact, at our library at the time, you only needed to be old enough to sign your name on the card. No, we made them wait, to an age we thought was appropriate to handle the responsibility of checking out materials from the library.

My son, by virtue of being the youngest and always pushing to have what his sisters have got his card earlier than the girls-causing an “it’s not fair ruckus” but that is beside the point.

The kids love having their own card, one of the first things they did with their new cards was to order books from different branches and put books they wanted on hold. In fact, next to spam the emails I get the most are from the library telling me something the kids put on hold or ordered is in at our library.

Was a library card a big deal in your house? Do you have a favorite library story? I don’t have a story, but I sure wouldn’t mind being locked in the library over a long weekend.

Follow me on Facebook
Visit my website Dragon and Butterfly Design
Check out my Etsy shop