Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Least Favorite Holiday Movie (And A Book Update)

I don't hate this movie, but I don't jump at the chance
to see it when it is on TV... which is ALL THE TIME!
Hi everyone! I'e been absent from the blogging world for a few days... this time of year gets busy, especially since I've been trying to make a lot of homemade gifts this year. But I had to check in and try to keep up with Holidailies!

Today's prompt is, what is your least favorite holiday movie?

This is kind of hard to answer... If I don't like a movie, I just don't watch it, so there aren't many that completely drive me crazy. I guess, if I had to mention one, I'd say I don't like the Home Alone movies so much. I kind of liked them when I was a kid, but they were a little overdone back then, with Home Alone marathons every year. Even as a kid, I found them unrealistic. I like realistic movies, and I like movies that are purposely unrealistic (like animated movies). I enjoy movies that are probably unrealistic, but are made to seem like they could really happen. (Like "Prancer," in which a little girl finds a reindeer.) What I don't like are movies that could be realistic (it would be possible, in a large family, for a little boy to be left behind when his family leaves on vacation, and it makes sense that even if the family called the police the child might hide from them because he's afraid of getting in trouble) but fill it with a bunch of slapstick comedy, where people sustain horrible injuries (like having buckets of paint dropped on their heads) while still being able to get up and run around afterwards.

In other news, I got some copies of my book, The Princess's New Hair, in the mail today. It looks great! I am planning to give copies to my little cousins (they are between the ages of 4 and 11) and one to my little nephew (he is only 7 months old, but his mama can read it to him, and maybe when he's older he'll be excited to figure out that his auntie wrote it!) I also have two copies that I'd like to offer to any bloggers who'd be willing to feature a review of it on their blog.

If you're interested, leave a comment here or email me at If I get a lot of interest, I will use Randomizer to choose two people, and I will contact the other people when I get more copies I can part with.

That's all for now! I will write again soon!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Best Gift Ever

My sister-in-law is a great artist. I could look at this
painting forever! I think she should open up an online
store. ;)
Hi everyone! I already skipped a day of Holidailies yesterday... I got busy with homework and other things. Yesterday's question was about the best gift you've ever received, and today's is about the best gift you've ever given, so I guess I can do them both in one post.

It is hard to decide what the best gift I've ever received is. I think, for me, the best gifts are anything that allow me to do something... such as my Kindle, that allows me to read books and play games. I also like anything bright and colorful and decorative, such as the painting my sister-in-law made for me last year. I don't always enjoy getting clothes, because I feel like if I needed clothes I'd go buy some... but sometimes I get something really nice, like the beautiful purple sweater I got from my aunt one year that is the prettiest shade of purple and is so soft and stretchy. I got it years ago, but I still wear it all the time.

As for giving gifts, I really enjoy giving. I know it sounds corny, but it is fun for me. I put a lot of thought into what to give each person. Sometimes I make things myself. One of the gifts I enjoyed giving the most was for my little cousin when she was about ten. She loved (and still does love) doing arts and crafts, and would spend hours up in her bedroom making things out of random stuff she found around the house. So I bought a plastic bin and filled it up with every craft supply I could think of... felt, fabric, different kinds of glue, feathers, googly eyes, sequins, buttons, pompoms, cotton balls, styrofoam balls, wooden shapes, etc. I was able to get a lot of it at the Dollar store, or from things I already owned, so it didn't cost that much to put together. I've seen similar kits for kids that come already packaged. But I liked making my own because I could put in anything I wanted. For instance, magnet tape. If I was at the store and saw a little craft item and thought, "I bet Kaylie would have fun with that," I could buy it for the kit. I could also keep it personalized, and leave out flimsy things or things that I didn't think she'd enjoy as much. I wrapped the whole thing up on Christmas Eve. It was fun to watch her excitement when she opened it up and saw all this stuff that would make any crafty kid go ga-ga!

Do you have any kids in your life who might like The Princess's New Hair as a gift? Amazon has it on sale right now for $13.32!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An Answer And A Question

This is the book my dad used to read to us
every Christmas Eve! 
Today Holidailies asks about our favorite holiday traditions!
My family has not hung onto many traditions. My parents are not sentimental people. If it wasn't for me demanding it, on account of the fact that my new baby nephew is going to be spending his first Christmas with us and he should see a Christmas tree, we wouldn't even have one this year! So most of the traditions of my childhood have gone by the wayside.

But one of the traditions I remember is that, on Christmas Eve, right before bed, my dad would read The Night Before Christmas to my brother and I. He continued this tradition until way, way, way after we were both able to read it ourselves, and way, way, way after we would have wanted to! The version he read to us was a Little Golden Book. I still have it, and I am hoping that this year my dad will continue the tradition by reading it to my nephew!

And now, I have a question for you.

When I write stories for children, I like to tackle important messages in light-hearted ways. For instance, The Princess's New Hair is about loving yourself just the way you are. I would love to know... whether you are a parent, an aunt or uncle, someone who works with kids, or just an adult who has an opinion... what other messages would you like to see in stories geared towards children ages 2 to 7?

Let me know. I will keep your ideas in mind when I start writing my next story!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Favorite Christmas Cookie

 Today Holidailies is requesting our favorite holiday recipe! For me, this brings to mind one thing... Christmas cookies! When I was little, my mother was what is now known as a SAHM, and so while we were home together she would bake loads of Christmas cookies. My very favorite were meringues! Crumbly and fragile on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside, these chocolate minty cookies were a special treat I still love!

I'm too lazy to go try to find my mom's recipe, so I found a similar one at This recipe is pretty much what we did. I've added my own comments for the parts that are different. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Drying Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 72 cookies


  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine granulated sugar (We never used any particular type of sugar... just regular white sugar seems to work fine!) 
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract (use peppermint extract for stronger flavor)
  • 1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips  (We do not use mint extract at all. Instead, we use chocolate mint chips in place of semi-sweet chocolate. My aunt varies this slightly by using chopped up Andes mints.)
  • 3 drops green food coloring (We would separate into two batches, and make one batch pink and one batch green for Christmas.)


Chill mixing bowl and beaters for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time until all sugar is incorporated and melted into the meringue. The meringue should be shiny and form stiff peaks.

Fold in mint or peppermint extract, chocolate chips, and optional food coloring.

Drop by scant teaspoonfuls (or use a pastry bag) onto prepared cookie sheets, placing cookies about 1 inch apart. (You want these bite-sized to pop the whole cookie into your mouth. Larger ones are fine but make a crumbly mess when you bite into them.)

Bake about 1 hour until stiff and dry. Turn off oven, but leave meringue cookies in the oven until cool to further dry out, another 2 hours.

Store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 5 dozen meringue cookies, depending on size 
Just reading about these is making my mouth water! I hope we make them this year! They are easy to make, but because of the fact that they only use egg whites and not the rest of the egg, some people may consider them kind of wasteful!
What is your favorite Christmas cookie? 

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Favorite Holiday Song

 Hi everyone! Today's prompt from Holidailies is "What's your favorite holiday song?"

I had to think about it, because there are a lot of Christmas songs I love, and a lot that annoy me (like the ones that get played over and over and over again on the radio.)

Then I remembered that there was this one Christmas record album I really loved when I was a little kid. It featured songs sung by a children's choir. My favorite song on the album was "The Little Drummer Boy." But only that version of it. I have never liked another version of it as much. Every Christmas, I would beg to listen to this record, until everyone else in my family was sick of it!

I wanted to figure out what album it was. The problem was, we never actually owned the record album itself. Someone made a cassette tape of it for us. I still have the cassette but it is labeled only "The Little Drummer Boy."

Once I got started writing today's post, I suddenly got my heart set on finding the album! A quick Google search for "Little Drummer Boy" + "Record Album" + "Children's Choir" led me to "Don Janse And His 60 Voice Children's Choir."

When I checked out the sample tracks, I realized, it certainly was the same album that I remembered from my childhood! Just listening to it brings back memories of sitting by the fire in our living room, drinking eggnog, while my dad put on record after record.

I thought it would be fun to actually share the song with you, so here is the full version for your listening pleasure!

(I bought the mp3 version of the entire album, by the way, and I am going to listen to it on my way to work tomorrow!)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Me exploring a cave in a nature center on the Oregon coast.
Hi everyone! Since this blog is brand new, I thought I'd try this Holidailies website. It gives you a writing prompt for each day of December. It seems like this will be a good way for readers to get to know me!

Today's writing prompt is simple: Introduce yourself!

Well, my name is Nicki Mann. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and I am the newly published author of The Princess's New Hair.

I have loved writing since I was a very little kid. I used to write stories every day. I also always loved reading. I learned to read when I was ridiculously young (like one or two years old) and I was rarely without a book in my hands. I used to get in trouble for hiding a book in my lap and reading during class, when I was supposed to be paying attention to a math or science lesson!

I also love animals. One strange fact about me is that, when I was little, I was terrified of dogs. When I was around eight, my parents adopted a four-month-old puppy from the local shelter. The puppy (whom I got the privilege of naming, and I chose the name Zip, after the dog in the Happy Hollisters childrens books) had been abused by her previous owners and was terrified of everyone. Having to get down really quietly and make myself non-threatening for this little puppy helped me get over my own fear of dogs. Ever since then, I have been a huge dog lover! I also love cats, and just about all other animals.

One other fact about me is that I have ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome. I work with children with special needs, and I think having ADHD and autism helps me to be more empathetic with the children. I have more patience for them, and I am able to understand where they are coming from.

I think it is important to help children, including those with special needs, to be proud of their differences, and to appreciate differences in others.

I am looking forward to writing some more tomorrow! Thanks for reading my blog!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The First Hello

 Hi! My name is Nicki Mann, and I am the author of a book called The Princess's New Hair. Newly published by Strebeker's Books, this is a modern fairy tale about a little girl's quest to find the perfect hair. You see, Princess Annalisa has a lovely, round, perfect, bald head. When a little friend starts to question why Annalisa has no hair, the princess decides that she might be a little more perfect if only she had some. Everyone in the kingdom is eager to help out by sharing their own hair with the Princess. But which hair will be the very best hair for her? You'll have to read the book to find out! 

I originally wrote this story for a little girl I knew of who had neurofibromatosis, and was going to undergo chemotherapy to shrink tumors in her eyes. Before her condition was discovered, the little girl had loved being in children's beauty pageants, and loved dressing up and accessorizing. She was worried that, when the chemotherapy caused her to lose her hair, people wouldn't love her as much. I wanted Princess Annalisa to help teach her that she was awesome the way she was, with or without hair.

If you read The Princess's New Hair, I'd love to hear what you think! My website also includes a teacher's guide for use in a lesson about accepting and appreciating differences in ourselves and others. 

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here!