Monday, December 9, 2013

Gnome for the Holidays

Hello! I just realized that I haven't blogged since October or thereabouts. My desk is a mess, covered with music book sketches, stuff I need to help the kids with at school, Christmas card envelopes waiting to be addressed, and a new cookie recipe to try out this year. We are on that slippery slope to the New Year now and I am just doing my best to stop every once in a while and watch the snowflakes. Wishing you all a peaceful holiday season! xoxo

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tricks or Treats for Bats

This was a super fun coloring page to make. Bats are so darn cute and it was surprisingly fun drawing a bunch of bugs! In North America, bats feast on between 2-6 THOUSAND bugs a night! What a treat for all of us! Thank You, Bat Friends! Be sure to check out all the Bat Fun Facts on the Organization for Bat Conservation website. Special thanks to all the wonderful people out there who care for bats in real-life (like my friend, Jean!). I will leave the flies and beetles to the bats and hope for Milk Duds.  Please feel free to print this page up and share it with your friends (there are a couple more Halloween coloring pages on my website, too). Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog Hop!

Last week, my wonderful and talented friend, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, was kind enough to tag me in a blog hop where I answer a few questions and then pass it on to a few of my kid booky friends.
Here goes:

What are you working on right now?
My website has been freshly updated and I have a new postcard that I am getting ready to send out. I have also been busy revising my diner dummy, and I have plans to dive into some of my other dummies and polish them up until they shine because I really would like to be a writer and an illustrator someday. I baked a Dr. Pepper cake yesterday and am working on a Halloween coloring page today.

How does this differ from other works in the genre?
This is a tough question and I don't really know the right answer... My hope is that when people see my artwork and read my writings, that they can see the real me in there somewhere.

Why do you write what you write?
I was lucky to be born into a family populated with very clever people. My kids and family and friends and coworkers all inspire me. Some of the little ideas have grown into bigger stories, so that is super fun! I am also writing all of my little jokes down and maybe they will turn into a book of Nina Jokes someday. Here is one I made up this weekend:

Where do you go to wash your yard?
The Lawndromat.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Trying no to use too many words, or not enough words, and choosing all the write words! Right? haaa

Happy to tag my dear friends:

Andi Butler

Sara Weingartner

Christina Rodriguez

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cutie Marks

Yesterday after my kids came home from school, they were having a snack and watching My Little Pony. My eldest said that my cutie mark (if I were a little pony) would be Organization. I thought that was interesting, as I was sitting at my desk assembling folders for the upcoming MNSCBWI Fall Conference. Here is a pic from yesterday with my little helper, Gordy:
While I was essentially trapped at my desk chair by folders and papers and boxes and the dog, I guess I could see a bit of the method behind the madness. Of course, I am totally worried about missing things and making mistakes with all of the conference registration and folders. What if I forget to include someone's manuscript review time?!? So, I have been triple-checking everything, and I will just hope for the best. In my own life, I am not quite as organized, but I really wish I was. I read once that Albert Einstein had a very messy desk and he was a genius, so that made me feel a little better. I guess all we can ever do is do our best, and in the end, that just has to be enough. *fingers crossed*
Back to the ponies: We also discussed if we'd rather be a regular pony, a unicorn, or a pegasus. I knew that answer right away because being able to fly has been the superpower I have always longed for. If I were a pony, I would totally be Fluttershy. Not sure what my cutie mark would be, probably one for making up lame jokes...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back To School

The kids have gone back to school and now I have time where I can work during the day again, which is super great. It always takes me a little while to slog through all the back-to-school paperwork and for the kids to get back into the whole homework routine, but we are getting there! I am handling registration again for the Minnesota SCBWI Fall Conference (October 12-13, 2013), looks like we are in for another great conference this year! Busy drawing lots of hands playing violins, so that has been fun. My happiest, Save-The-Best-For-Last-News is that I have signed on with the fantastic Teresa Kietlinski at Prospect Agency! Oh, my gosh.... it still doesn't feel real. I feel so fortunate and am excited to work with Teresa and see what the future holds in store! *happy sigh* The picture above is a little snippet from my new postcard. It is almost ready to send out. Hope all is well with you! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Employee of the Month

Well, it sure was pretty nice to be recognized for my hard work today. Summer is zipping by, can't really believe it is nearly August already. Along with keeping up with the kids, I am happy to report that I finished the new art for my next postcard and have started creating some line art for a series of violin music books. I played the violin very briefly when I was little and have no memory of it, so here's hoping I might remember traces of it on a cellular level... Oh, and I baked that cherry cobbler!

Monday, July 1, 2013


This is a teensy bit of what I am working on for my next postcard. I hope to someday make buttery croissants from scratch and can't wait to attempt a brioche. My kids are home for summer vacation and we are enjoying our lazy busy days together. I am determined to weed and mulch forgotten flowerbeds and make more art and find time to daydream and play frisbee and read and spend time with friends and fam. And also bake a gorgeous cherry cobbler. Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

For the Birds

Are you a night owl or an early bird? I am a bit of a night owl myself...
Looking forward to hearing owls hooting in the night now that summer is nearly upon us. We don't live too far away from a lake, and every once in a while you can hear a loon calling in the early morning.
Could it be possible to be an early bird AND a night owl? Is napping the answer? Lastly, what is the term used for an individual who thrives mid-day: Day Jay? Noon Loon? Present Pheasant?
p.s. Check out my NEW POLL to the left and feel free to vote- thanks!

Monday, May 6, 2013


My whole family unplugged from Monday, 29 April to Friday, 3 May. The kids were surprisingly ok with it. I will honestly admit that I missed tv, I have a few shows that I like to watch, so it has been nice to catch up on them. My youngest had been obsessed with playing a My Little Pony and a Skylanders game on the iPad, so unplugging last week was a good way to get her to realize that she doesn't need to play those games, they are just for fun. We played card games and board games together as a family, the kids played together more, we all read more books, I did some knitting and lots of sketching. It was a very good thing.  For myself, I found out that checking facebook had very much become a part of my morning routine, so it was weird to not go there. I realized that, while I like to post things there, I don't really need to post things, I mostly like to see what everyone else is up to: I love to see all the cute kid pictures, hear about fun book news, stay in touch with friends and family, and the like... Since I work from home, the connections I have made with other kid book folks online have really given me a feeling that I have coworkers again, and places like fb and twitter are where we can hang out together and cheer each other on. Another thing I realized is that all the social media had contributed to that "I feel so busy" feeling. I have become very chill about blogging as of late: I was way into it at first and was really great about posting and visiting other people's blogs. Now, I just post when I can and try to visit other blogs when I can, and try not to worry about it as much. I'm going to try to adopt that same philosophy with everything else. There are only so many hours in the day, and I can only do my best. Here's hoping that my friends and family know that I'm always going to love them and be there to support them in good times and hard times, whether I comment or reply or repin or retweet or hit the "like" button... :)

In other news, I just finished reading The Light Between Oceans: It was very good, I am still feeling the weight of it. Here are some other books that I have read lately that I would heartily recommend: The One and Only Ivan, Wonder, The Three Triceratops Tuff, Maya Was Grumpy, The Night Circus, and The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!. These are some of the books that I am looking forward to reading next: Bad Girls, The Hunting of the Snark, Iron Hearted Violet, The Quirks, Elvis and the Underdogs, The True Meaning of Smekday, I Capture The Castle, and The Busy, Busy World of Richard Scarry.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Mailed off my book dummy on Saturday morning. 
That was a really great feeling!
Finished up a really fun project with my 4th grader's class, it is going to be auctioned off to raise money for the school at the end of the month. I am very proud of the kids, they made amazing chickens!
 I won 56 bucks playing bingo!  
Thanks to Sara, I am now addicted to and 
completely caught up on The Big Bang Theory.
Went to sunny Florida two weekends ago for a friend's wedding. It was so fun to catch up with great friends and celebrate Lori and Rusty's new life together.  Plus, I saw a wild iguana, tons of mini lizards, a flock of flying pelicans, swaying palm trees, and was bitten by my first fire ant. 
I hope that all is well with you, thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I made this for Joyce

Friday, March 15, 2013


This is Mel. I have been busy working on a little book about him.
He is quite a character.

Monday, February 11, 2013


This past weekend I was at the 38th Annual MAVT Convention.  I became a certified veterinary technician in 1997 and worked as a tech until we had our youngest and I became a stay-at-home mom.  I find myself feeling like I am between worlds now: I can't take my pets to work with me anymore and have to go to the vet as a civilian, and I still consider myself a new illustrator and am trying to learn and grow and enjoy the journey without having any expectations...  My hope is that my love for animals is evident in my work and that it also informs it. Even though it can feel pretty weird sometimes, the upshot is that I have been very fortunate to work in fields filled with compassionate, intelligent, and amazing people. For that I will always be grateful.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flying Mermaid

My youngest asked me to draw a flying mermaid a while ago, and this is what I came up with... Wouldn't it be wonderful to fly? My head has been in the clouds a little bit lately, my book dummy is really (finally!) starting to come together and I am just having the most fun working on it. Wishing you clear skies and calm seas! nvc

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Hey, There! There is another music book out there with little Nina pictures in it!

Spoiler Alert: Book 1 includes a little love story between a charming young squirrel and a lovely pig.  There will be seven books in the Energize Your Fingers Every Day series and I have had the most fun illustrating the first three, looking forward to working on the next four. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's a Liebster?

The talented and adorable Jessica Freeburg surprised me with a Liebster the other day. Thanks, Jess! I still don't know what the heck a Liebster is, but it was super nice of Jessica to honor me with one. So, what I need to do is post 11 random facts about myself, answer the 11 questions that Jessica asked me, then nominate 11 blogs for zee Liebster. Here goes...

Eleven Random Nina Facts:

1)  I didn't have a middle name until I got married.
2)  Can't wait for season 3 of Downton Abbey to begin.
3)  My first car was a 1980 Plymouth Champ.
4)  My blood type is O negative.
5)  I haven't ever traveled outside of the United States.
6)  Cooking isn't my favorite, but I love to bake!
7)  If I had superpowers, I'd love to be able to fly and talk to animals.
8)  Last concert I attended: Jeremy Messersmith.
9)  I don't care for fancy herbal teas.
10) Still hope to have my own horse someday.
11) I collected postage stamps when I was a kid.

Eleven Questions from Jessica:

1) What did you want to be when you grew up?
     A jockey, a marine biologist, and/or a veterinarian.
2) Who was your celebrity crush as a kid?
     Luke Skywalker
3) Favorite movie?
    White Christmas, Married to the Mob, How to Murder Your Wife, Rear Window, What About Bob?
     (sorry, it was hard to just choose one!)

4) Favorite book/author/illustrator?
     Owl at Home, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel
5) Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
     I think I do, but haven't ever met one. We had a lot of forks go missing at our old house...
6) What is your stupid human trick?
     Making up an endless stream of puns.
7) If you could go back in time and tell your teenage self one thing, what would it be?
     Don't take Mom's grocery-getter for your driving test, you'll knock down cones and fail!
8) Most embarrassing moment?
     I have a few, but they don't bear repeating...
9) What’s the one thing you’d most like to be remembered for when you’re gone (you know, dead…sorry, kind of morbid, but it’s a deep thought kind of question).
     I think it would just be nice to be remembered at all...
10) Do you talk to yourself (out loud, when no one else is around)?
     Yes. Most commonly heard saying, "Ah, whoops!"
11) What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
     Cheetos and Dr. Pepper.

Now I'd like to nominate these talented bloggers with Liebsters of their very own:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Gordy is ready to choose the Mystery Prize Winner!

We paws to find out who it is....

Congratulations, Cathy D!

Your Mystery Prize is a
2013 Hello, Gordy! Calendar
12 months of cuteness!

Wishing you all a supremely wonderful 2013
Love, Nina