Dressing and Educating: Days 67-68


Day 67: November 21, 2016

As we draw near to Thanksgiving Break both of my classes were wrapping up major units of study. In English each of my students created an online presentation about a book that they have read independently over the last month and a half. During today and tomorrow they will each get a chance to present their books for the class. In Honors World History, my students prepared for a test over the French Revolution with a friendly game of review basketball. Nothing is more fun (and competitive) than a little basketball before a test!

I wore a skirt from The Limited, a black tshirt from Primark in England, and black Lula Roe leggings with boots.


Day 68: November 22, 2016

A nice short school week was brought to a close today. It was a school-spirit day so I dressed in my Viking gear. As a teacher today I was wrapping up grades. In English we finished presenting books. In History the students took a test. Second quarter interim grades were also due before I could head out to enjoy the break. It was a very busy day, but worth it!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Tragedy In Times Square (Part 2)

The month of November is coming to a close.

Although I did not participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I did decide to focus this month on creative writing. As a part of that goal I have developed the premise for two new YA novels: Tragedy in Times Square and The Walk from Winleigh. I have also joined an online critique group which has already helped me grow so much as a writer. My group is participating in a contest in December so you will hopefully see my piece from that contest in the early days of 2017!

All in all, it has been great to shift my focus back on to fiction writing. I love to blog and write about my life, but my first passion in writing is fiction.

Last week I introduced you to Clara, the main character for Tragedy in Times Square.

This week, I want to introduce you to her Uncle Mark in the second installment of this story. As always, I welcome critique and feedback although I also have brought this piece to my critique group and received feedback there as well. Enjoy!

Tragedy in Times Square (Part 2)

by Lauren Sisley

“Wait here…” I motioned to Aspen to stay in place as I began to move toward Mark.

“Where are you going, Clara?” Aspen asked. She was just as surprised and freaked out as I was. Mark stopped by a tree fifty feet in the distance. He was leaned to one side of the tree as if waiting for me to meet him.

“I’ll be right back. I want to check this out.” I strode past Aspen and toward the small tree and the unexplained figure of my deceased uncle.

With each step I could feel my heart thudding. It felt as though it may escape my chest. It was on it’s way up to my throat. I tried to swallow back the lumps forming in my throat as I walked. This is what fear does to the body.

As I approached the tree I was careful not to break eye contact with Mark.

He held a hand out to me silently. On impulse I reached my hand out to fill his. I watched as my hand cut the air where I should have made impact with his. There was nothing there. My face wrinkled in disbelief as I watched.

“Hello, Clara.” His voice was soft and gentle.

“Uncle Mark?” I questioned and he nodded in response. “But, you’re…”

“I am, Clara, you’re right.” I was beginning to feel like I had lost my sanity. I became aware of the others approaching on the street and how odd it must look to see a girl talking to no one under a tree.

“How are you here?” I asked with a shaky voice.

“That doesn’t matter. It’s why I’m here that’s important.” I began to look him over from head to toe. It wasn’t like the movies. He wasn’t illuminating there under the tree. He looked real. For someone that I never met he was so familiar. He resembled my mother in a great way, but also was familiar because his face filled the frames of countless photos around my house and my Grandmother’s home in Albany.

“Why?” I couldn’t even mutter a full sentence. This was such a surreal experience.

“I’m here to help you and your mother, Clara.” His eyes turned to a sad expression. “Nothing makes me more sorry than the way she is hanging on to me.” He spoke as though he had been present over the years-like he had seen the way she mourned him with ever fiber of her being.

“So why did you come to me?” I asked confused about my role in all of this.

“Because, Clara, there is no one on this Earth more important to your mother than you. You are the reason she has held it together. Her love for you is deeper than you can imagine.” Mark was going on about my mother’s love, but after the morning I had experienced I found it hard to accept his words as truth. “If anyone can help her it is you.”

“Do you really think so?” I asked unsure of my own standing with Mom.

“Yes, absolutely. Plus, I never got to meet you in person.” He winked at me.

“Now you have.” I smiled back still unsure of this whole situation.

“And you are as wonderful and beautiful as I had hoped you would be.” A tear fell from my eye. I pretended to lean back and look at Aspen so that Mark wouldn’t see me wipe the droplet as it escaped my eye. “Who is your friend?” Mark asked gesturing toward Aspen sitting alone on the curb a few buildings away.

“That’s Aspen. She’s my best friend.” I couldn’t help but smile as I spoke about her. Aspen had proven to by loyal and caring time and time again. Both of us were looking at her now and Aspen could sense it.

“Ready to catch a movie?” She called out to me from where she sat.

“Just a minute.” I returned her call.

“It’s fine, Clara, go enjoy your birthday.” Mark smiled.

“But, you haven’t had a chance to tell me anything.” I pleaded.

“Oh, do not worry. I will be around for awhile.” He gave a slight grin. “I’m here until the mission is complete.”

“What does that mean?” I was confused.

“It means you will see me again. I won’t waste any more of your precious birthday. I will be back again soon.”

“But, how will you find me?” I asked with a worried expression.

“Clara, you of all people should know that I am always with you. It’s never been a matter of finding you, but more a matter of whether or not you would see me.” Something within myself confirmed his words. I had always been taught that the people who have passed never really leave us. Even though I had never met Mark I grew up under the impression that Uncle Mark was watching over me. Mom and Dad had relayed that message on numerous occasions. This isn’t quite what I thought they had meant.

“So I will see you again soon?” I wanted this answer before I would walk away.

He nodded. “Happy Birthday, Clara. I am so proud of you.” He gave one last bright smile as he turned and faded from my vision.

I turned toward Aspen who was patiently waiting for me, and I began to walk in her direction.

“Is everything okay?” She asked. I moved my finger tips which were freezing cold toward my face where a stream of warm tears were gathering. I nodded to reassure Aspen as she embraced me. I crumbled in her arms and began to cry aloud.

“It was Mark.” I sobbed.

“Did something remind you of him?” Aspen was reaching for a way to make sense of what just happened.

“No, he was here.” I realized how insane I had sounded and prepared myself for laughter or jokes from Aspen. I should have known better.

“What did he want?” She said supportively.

“To help my mom and to wish me a Happy Birthday.” I was still crying pretty hard. I saw a few other pedestrians pass us pretending not to notice my meltdown.

“Well, that’s not so bad, Clara. There’s no need to be upset.” Aspen was soothing. If anyone else had been witness to this event in my life I would have been the butt of jokes forever, but Aspen held me with an embrace that communicated understanding. She didn’t judge me or poke fun of the fact that I was claiming to have seen and spoken to my dead uncle. In that moment my gratitude for her friendship emerged to a new level.

“Thank you, Aspen.” I said as I began to gather my composure. “Let’s go see that movie.” I smiled as we broke free from each other’s arms and began to walk toward downtown.

It is unlawful to plagiarize any of the original work from The Ameri Brit Mom. No permission is given to reuse this text or ideas without written consent. Always give credit where credit is due.

24 Book Challenge: A Book With a Number in the Title

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This is book #15 from The Ameri Brit Mom 24 Book Challenge in 2016. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, or outside influences.

Title: Numbers

Author: Rachel Ward

Publisher: Chicken House-Scholastic

Copyright Date: 2010


The hardest part of growing up for Jem isn’t the fact that she watched her mother die or that she’s been stuck in the lowest classes for her year amongst all the people society has given up on. No, the hardest part for Jem is growing up with the power to know the date of death for anyone whom she looks in the eye.

Jem is a teenager living in London with her foster mom, Karen. She keeps to herself and likes it that way. Without friends, Jem is constantly haunted by the death of the people around her. One day she makes friends with another boy from her class, Spider. Although instincts told her to stay away from him, knowing that his number is coming very soon keeps Jem intrigued and close to Spider. She wants to prove that she can beat these numbers and protect him.

One day, after running away from school the pair decide to hang out at the London Eye. Blowing off school was fun until Jem starts to look around and realize that the death date for many of the people around her is the same-and it’s today.

Numbers is a tale of one girl’s struggle to face her greatest fear: death.

Throughout the book, you begin to see the tough layers of Jem being pulled back. She opens up to Spider with the understanding that his days truly are numbered. During the course of their friendship Jem learns what it means to love and to live each moment to the fullest. In the end, she learns so much from the first boy she let into her life.

This was a great YA tale that many teens would enjoy. With a slight apocalyptic feel this novel explores themes of love, friendship, and fear. This book is followed by two others in the trilogy: The Chaos and Infinity.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Radio Station KFKD and Jealousy

This week as I read through two chapters of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, the two chapters focused on the inner workings of the writer’s mind. More specifically, both deal with negative thought patterns and how to extinguish that inner critic. Every writer goes through a period of negative thoughts and jealousy so these chapters were relatable.

A few months ago I was feeling a little down about my own writing, and its practices like the ones found in these chapters that helped me remember the purpose in my writing. I don’t make writing a priority so that I will gain infinite success. (Sure, that would be great, but not the purpose!) Rather writing is a natural part of my self-expression and helps me deal with my inner thoughts and ideas. I enjoy creative expression and I feel like God has gifted me with the ability to use written word to encourage and inspire others.


Radio Station KFKD

This chapter of Bird by Bird is about our inner voice and its tendency to get between us and our writing. It can serve as a confidence crusher or a distraction when it is needed most. According to Lamott, the best way to combat our minds when they try to betray us is to establish writing routines that help us drown out the voices of our minds to allow for the voices of the characters to ring through.

We all struggle with the value of our own writing and oftentimes the same voice in our head that tells us that “no one would ever read this garbage” also envisions what it would be like to hold a book with your name on the cover. The voices are half the battle.

By establishing writing routines you can quickly recognize when the voices are out of control and have some go-to tools for defeating those voices. For me, I like a semi-quiet room, a cup of coffee (or two) and I also like to pray a little bit for distractions to be lifted. It’s crazy what all I can accomplish in such a short time if I adhere to my routines.


This is a natural state for many writers. As each of us works toward goals we have set we see that others get there a little quicker than we do. We watch as writers (who in our opinion are inferior to us) are met with success time and time again. We may even have conversations with these writers where they never fail to bring up the fact that they just got a book deal or have moved on to publish their third book.

Jealousy is real, but it shouldn’t be our natural reaction to others who find success.

As a writer, nothing kills our inspiration quicker than a bad case of envy. If we start measuring ourselves against anyone but ourselves we will quickly become bitter about the craft. Writing while bitter is a tragic mistake.

If you find yourself drowning in jealousy remind yourself about why you write. Do you write to become rich and famous? (I sure hope not…odds are so slim that will ever happen to anyone.)

We write because we have been gifted in this way. We have stories to tell that others need to hear. Success isn’t measured in dollar amounts. Keep in the forefront of your mind that success is when the things that you write touch another. It’s success if five people like your writing. In the end, a true writer should measure success not on movie deals, dollar amounts, or publishing, success is working hard to see a project through and growing in the craft along the way.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Stitch Fix #9

For the first time ever my Stitch Fix actually snuck up on me and I was completely surprised when I found my box on my porch after school. I had been so caught up in my life, new diet, sick child, and school work to remember that it was about time for my next Stitch Fix to arrive.

Around the holiday season I have to tighten the budget a bit so I want you to know upfront that since it had slipped my mind I wasn’t prepared to drop a bunch of money on this Stitch Fix. In the end I only ended up purchasing one piece, but that doesn’t mean I totally hated my items. I was still rather pleased with what I received, but in November I tend to focus more on buying for others than for myself.

Here’s a look into my box.

1. Elisa Dress (Collective Concepts)/Sutro Open Knit Infinity Scarf (Octavia)


The wrap style dress is so beautiful and elegant. I love the fall hues and the fit of this piece. It’s a dress that can so easily go from professional to casual with the right accents. It pairs perfectly with the color of the scarf. I only ended up buying the dress, but if I had more of a budget to work with the scarf would have been my second choice. The color is very hot right now and it could be worn so many ways.

2. Rufus Crew Neck Blouse (41 Hawthorn)


I wasn’t a huge fan of the fit of this top. My torso is a bit long so the panel for the shirt hit in an awkward place. The black panel at the bottom was see through and I just felt like the whole top was unflattering to my body shape/figure. I loved the color scheme. Black and white tops are so easy to accessorize  and dress up, but I just felt like the fit of this top made it one not worth purchasing.

3. Locklyn Cowl Neck Pullover (RD Style)


This was another top that didn’t fit quite right. The shirt was too short for my torso, so much so that if I were to lift my hands my stomach would show. It was an instant “no” for me for that very reason. If it was longer, I would have liked the concept. It was cute and warm.

4. Hampton Corduroy Skinny Jean (Edyson)


I will spare you the image of myself wearing these pants. They did not quite fit. I’m not sure if it is due to the fact that they are skinny jeans, but they were tight in all the wrong places.

It was kind of disappointing that only two pieces actually fit in this Stitch Fix, but it’s probably better for my bank account that it worked out that way. I really didn’t have the cash to buy my whole box this go around so I was happy with the outcome. I did not leave a note for my stylist this time around (like I said, it slipped my mind.) It is important to communicate your wishes with your stylist so I blame myself for the fact that I didn’t end up loving more of my pieces.

**It is also important to note that if I had wanted to there is now an option to exchange pieces on the Stitch Fix site when you go to check out. If there is a piece you love, but it is in the wrong size you can select to exchange it free of charge.

If you are thinking about giving Stitch Fix a try or know someone who is unsure about it, and you want to give them a chance to try it risk-free there are two links below for you.

First, if you want to give it a try use this link to sign up. By using my link you give me credit for referring you to Stitch Fix. I am currently a Stitch Fix Influencer which means I may be compensated for this blog post and/or your signing up if you use my link.

Secondly, if you know someone who already has Stitch Fix or is thinking about giving it a try you can give the gift of Stitch Fix for Christmas. Use this link to purchase a gift card. Once on the website, click on the Gift Cards tab.I will receive 15% commission if you use this link so I would appreciate if you used it when making a gift card purchase.

Stitch Fix has been a rewarding experience for me. I almost always love the entire box that I receive and I’ve been featured on some of their social media for my posts and experiences with the company. Let me know if you have any Stitch Fix questions.

Happy Holidays!


The Ameri Brit Mom


Dressing and Educating: Days 62-66


Day 62: November 14, 2016

Saturday I received my ninth Stitch Fix and in my beautiful box was this dress. I absolutely love the wrap style and fall colors. It was a perfect addition to my Monday dress collection.

In classes today I started some new ideas. In English we read the short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. We discussed characterization and motivation as we read the tale of Madame Loisel and her unfortunate hiccup with her friend’s necklace. My history classes began to uncover events of the Reign of Terror leading up to the executions of over 20,000 people by the guillotine.

It was a great Monday and I enjoyed wearing my new dress today!


Day 63: November 15, 2016

Today I received that dreaded call from my daughter’s pre-school. I’m midway through my day. My energy level is high and my lesson plans are just really jiving withe the students. Then, I get a call from her school and everything in the classroom suddenly doesn’t matter to me anymore. My little four year old is sick and she wants her mommy, and you would be surprised how quickly I fling that teacher hat to the side to be Mommy. I quickly got my affairs in order and made my way to nurse my ill child back to health.

I love my job, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my time in the classroom and my purposeful interaction with students. But one thing that will always come first in my mind will be my family. Even if it’s just a cold I’d rather play Mom than Teacher any day.

My colorful sweater above was purchased a few years ago at Liz Claiborne in New York City. I wore it with navy pants from Old Navy and a pair of Sperrys.


Day 64: November 16, 2016

After an early night to reset all is back in order at home and I was ready to discuss the guillotine, Napoleon, and the end of the French Revolution today. It was fun because I had a student several years ago craft a guillotine and I demonstrated it today with use on pencils, candy bars, and other supplies that a dull piece of wood could sever. I had a lot of fun essentially smashing things all period in my Honors World History classes.

In English, my students took a reading assessment. They all did such a great job proving their comprehension skills and I was very pleased with their results.

Today I wore a royal blue peplum top, a sweater, and black pants from The Limited.


Day 65: November 17, 2016

One of the best parts of working at my school is the annual Thanksgiving feast put on by the cooks. I’m not being dramatic. It truly is amazing. I woke up this morning and until lunch time turkey was on my brain. Lunch time could not come fast enough.

As always, the luncheon was above and beyond any other lunch service. The teacher’s lounge was converted into a festive dining room and the fixings were all up to their usual standard of perfection. It’s also a fun time to catch up with colleagues that otherwise become strangers in the sea of people in the high school building. It was a lunch period full of fun stories, catching up, and laughter. I’m thankful for my job and friendships that have come from that job.

Today I wore my long sleeve top from Maurices, my cargo vest from Stitch Fix and olive jeggings with boots.


Day 66: November 18, 2016

This beautiful Friday was all about my daughter. Her pre-school hosted a Thanksgiving Extravaganza. I took the day off to support her. I’m so glad that I took the opportunity to go to this event. It was such a fun day and I would never trade days like these for anything. I’m so thankful for this beautiful smile and the sweet girl who makes me smile too!

Which outfit this week was your favorite?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Another Short Story: Tragedy in Times Square (Part 1)

As part of my commitment to fiction writing this month I joined an online critique community. With my membership to the group I get to submit one short story per week to receive feedback. I am so excited about having this weekly opportunity to hear from professionals in the field. I also have access to a writing coach and publishers through online forums. This week I submitted my first installment from a novella I’m working on called “Tragedy in Times Square.”

This novella is about a young girl who was born at the same that her uncle died in a terrorist attack just miles away. Her mundane life is thrown off when her dead uncle appears on her fourteenth birthday and offers her a chance to bring peace to the family which still aches from his passing.

Here is a look at the first installment. Please feel free to offer thoughts. I’ve already received so much valuable feedback from my critique group, but I’m always looking for ways to make my writing stronger.

Tragedy in Times Square (Part 1)

by Lauren Sisley

They say that the day I was born was a tragedy. Not because I took my first breath and began life on this planet, but because so many others breathed their last. Fourteen years ago a group of angry men stormed into Times Square armed with their faulty religion and began to open fire on innocent tourists. Amongst the innocents was my uncle, Mark. He had driven to the city to await my grand entrance into this world. He was sightseeing when unbeknownst to him Mom had gone into labor and was desperately trying to reach him.

Within hours 1,204 people were dead. Days later fifty more would be added to that count. Mark’s life was extinguished instantly. To say that it was a tragedy is an understatement. It was a curse to be born on such a black day in our country’s history.

Today I turn fourteen.

Every year I hear my mother rise on my birthday and from her bedroom gentle sobbing can be heard. It’s hard not to take it personally that my mother begins my birthday in such downtrodden spirits, but I also can’t blame her for mourning her brother. She always tries so hard to hide the pain for my sake. I could hear her heavy breathing and sniffles as I entered the hallway outside of my bedroom.

Downstairs I knew better than to turn on the television set. Although part of my daily routine, April 5th was the exception.

“Good morning.” My father greeted me as I entered the kitchen. The smell of his usual breakfast tea and blueberry muffins filled the room.

“Hi, Dad.” I said as I opened the refrigerator to grab the carton of orange juice.

“Happy Birthday.” He smiled. As I shut the door to the refrigerator he embraced me in a warm hug which was not uncommon as a morning greeting from him. 

“Thanks.” I said once he withdrew. If there was anyone I could count on to treatment like royalty on my birthday it was my dad. He did well to overcompensate for my mother on this day. 

“Is your mother awake yet?” He asked trying not to insinuate his knowledge of her grief.

“I think I heard her getting up.” Although I really wanted to say I had heard her crying like a baby.

“Give her a few minutes and I’m sure she will be down.” Dad’s eyes went to the floor before he turned to pluck a fresh muffin from the pan. “But I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if we kicked off your birthday without her.” He tossed me a muffin. It was still warm on the bottom.

Several minutes later I heard the faint steps of my mother descending the stairs. And within seconds her small body sauntered into the kitchen.

“Happy Birthday, Clara.” Mom walked over to me to drop a kiss on the top of my head. Her eyes were surrounded by puffy skin and dark circles. Her flowing white robe was damp near the collar. It had been a hard morning for her as it always was on my birthday. She sat down at the bar stool beside me and Dad poured her a cup of coffee. Her tiny hand reached out from under her robe and grabbed mine. I stroked her fingers to let her know I understood and that I wasn’t upset.

After breakfast I showered and got dressed for school. Most people dislike going to school on their birthday, but for me it is a nice escape from the depression at home. It gives Mom a chance to mourn Mark so that in the afternoon she can truly celebrate my life. Just on time and like every other school day Dad slipped into the garage to start the car and I followed quietly and plopped into the passenger seat with my book bag across my lap.

“Do you have anything you want to do tonight?” Dad asked. It was his way of letting me know he had cleared his busy work schedule to make time for family that evening.

“Nothing in particular. I’m sure I’ll think of something at school.” I said with my hands folded across the bag.

“Let me know if there is any carry-out you’d like me to pick up or a cake that sounds delicious. I can grab whatever you want on my way back from Brooklyn.” He smiled as we backed out of the garage.

I leaned forward to turn on the radio to the usual station that served as a soundtrack for our morning commute.

“At exactly 2:05pm, our nation will observe a moment of silence today in honor of the victims of the Times Square Tragedy fourteen years ago.” Dad could sense my annoyance and changed the channel to an indie pop station and pretended to like it as he nodded along to the whimsical beat.

I don’t think it is a secret that I hate my birthday. Celebrations always seem forced. The mood is somber and bleak. Every single year it is a reminder of loss even for my own parents. I rarely hear an excited “Happy Birthday” that isn’t painted with overtones of pity. Instead of hearing, “I’m so grateful for you, Clara,” every pronouncement of birthday wishes sounds more like, “how unfortunate you were born this day.”

“Clara!” Aspen shouted from across the middle school yard. Classes were starting soon and I attempted to skip the birthday wishes that my friend Aspen would soon offer. With my head down and headphones in place I continued on my path toward English class. “Clara, wait up,” she called from ten feet behind me.

A few moments later I felt a familiar hand on my shoulder. I removed the headphones from my ears and pretended like I hadn’t heard her calling my name for the past thirty seconds.

“Oh, hey, Aspen.” We stopped briefly in the middle of the entryway, but were overrun by other students and walked at the pace of the rest of the traffic through the school entrance.

“How’s your birthday morning going?” She asked unsure whether a smile was appropriate.

“Like every other year.” I didn’t try to hide my disappointment.

“I’m sorry.” Her eyes were downcast. “I got you something.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a neatly wrapped pink bakery box. “Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks.” I smiled for the first time all morning.

“I know you love the long johns at Spencers so I stopped there on my way in this morning.” I opened the box and peeked in. The golden outside was painted with just the right ratio of fudge to fried dough. The confectionary smell wafted up to my nostrils. Even if my morning hadn’t gone as planned, I was happy for a friend who knew the right time for a donut. “Oh, and my mom said if you wanted to come and have dinner with us that would be fine.”

Aspen was one of those friends I couldn’t be rude to. She was always so happy and always tried her best to make me feel special.

“That sounds great. I’ll text my mom later and let her know. I’m sure she won’t care.” I was suddenly happy to spend my birthday away from Mom. I know it’s sad, but the reality is I want a birthday like everyone else. I want to go out to dinner, throw a party, and get sick off of too much sugar. But ever since the day I was born, April 5th has been a day of remembering for Mom. Sure, she gained a daughter on that day fourteen years ago, but she also lost her twin. Ever since, she’s been living with part of her soul missing.

I walked home with Aspen. She lives just two blocks from school and gets to avoid all vehicular traffic. I envy that luxury because she doesn’t have to hop into her dad’s car and drown in awkward silence twice a day.

“It was so hard not to cry in American History today.” She admitted. “The videos from the Times Square Tragedy were rough.” I thought back to a woman who was interviewed. Her husband had been a victim. Just like Uncle Mark.

“Yeah. So close to home.” I tried to not sound bored.

“I’m sorry, Clara.” Aspen meant it. There wasn’t much that she said that she didn’t mean.

“What do you think about catching a movie?” She asked trying to change the subject.

“Sounds great.” I said trying to remember any recent trailers I had seen on television. As my mind was trying to recall the name of the movie about the girl who fell in love with a half man-half eagle, I noticed a man across the street who seemed to be staring in our direction.

“What do you want to see?” Aspen asked, but my eyes had met the strangers and a weird feeling replaced the blood in my veins. From behind the vehicles parked on the other side of the road I could see the deep, dark eyes peering without fear directly into my own. My heart was racing and I began to feel fear coursing through my body. “Clara…” Aspen struggled for my attention.

“Oh, um I don’t mind.” My eyes were locked into the stranger’s who was now mimicking our pace across the street. Something about him was familiar. I felt as though I had seen him in a movie. I couldn’t put a finger on his identity.

“Clara, are you okay?” Aspen had picked up on the absence of my attention. “What are you looking at?” She followed my eyes.

“Do you see him?” I whispered careful not to drop the eye contact.

“See who?” She asked clearly beginning to freak out.

“That man over there?” I motioned with my head not my hands. I was trying to be subtle. He knew I was looking right at him because he was doing the same to me.

“Clara, there’s no one over there.” Aspen squinted, but saw nothing.

“You don’t see that man?”

“What man?”

And then it hit me. That man wasn’t a movie star. He wasn’t some actor I had seen relaying practiced lines and pretending to be a character. No, this man was one I had seen in my own house. In photo albums lined with dust and tears. His dark eyes resembled my mother’s and his small frame was only slightly larger than hers. Then, without thinking I let his name escape my mouth.


“Mark, who’s Mark?” Aspen repeated still trying to catch a glimpse of the man hidden from her gaze.

“Mark is my uncle.” I admitted.

“You don’t have any family in New York, Clara. You’re freaking me out.”

“I did. My uncle Mark.” He was approaching the crosswalk parallel to us. And as he turned to walk, he nodded.

“But your uncle Mark…didn’t he die in the…?” Aspen started.

“It’s him, Aspen. I know it.”

It is unlawful to plagiarize any of the original work from The Ameri Brit Mom. No permission is given to reuse this text or ideas without written consent. Always give credit where credit is due.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the past three weeks I’ve been trying to eat a Gluten-Free/Paleo diet. It’s been nice as I’ve been able to notice a difference in aches and pains. I’ve also been working hard to kick processed foods out of my digestive system.

One thing I’ve missed in my journey to Gluten-Free eating is baked goods. I’m a huge fan of bread, cookies, cake, and basically anything you can make with flour. Bread is difficult, but I’ve been able to abstain. My biggest issue (especially as we approach the holiday season) is desserts. I have been trying to minimize my sugar intake and even when I do eat sweets I’ve tried to make sure that the source of sugar is natural and not artificial.

This weekend I completed my first baking project with almond flour and it was a success! Being gluten-free/Paleo doesn’t mean that you have to forego delicious food. It just takes a little more effort and intentionality, but you can still enjoy your food.

Thanks to Elana Amsterdam at Elana’s Pantry I was able to remake a favorite. I followed the recipe below from her website and poured a glass of almond milk to drink along with my cookie. My whole family enjoyed the cookies.

**One note on the recipe, I would recommend using the EXACT ingredients that Elana uses to create the recipe. You can click on the links below for more information on those ingredients. I was unable to find her exact almond flour and so mine had a slightly different texture. It didn’t change the taste, but I would still recommend for you to use the EXACT ingredients.



  1. In a food processor, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda
  2. Pulse in butter, vanilla, and maple syrup until dough forms
  3. Remove blade from processor and stir in chocolate chips by hand
  4. Scoop dough one level tablespoon at a time onto a parchment lined baking sheet
  5. Press balls of dough down gently
  6. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes
  7. Cool for 15 minutes (do not handle prior or cookies will break)
  8. Serve


The Ameri Brit Mom

The Moral Point of View and Broccoli

This week has been a rewarding one in my writing career. I’ve recently joined an online critique group and have been overwhelmed with the positive and constructive feedback from authors and others aspiring to that title. I’ve met a few writing coaches who have helped me with my letters to agents and I’ve also developed friendships with other writers whose work I admire. Each morning this week I’ve awoken to feedback from people within the group from all over the world. This is something I have needed for a long time. I’ve been longing for a writing community and am so happy to have found a place that feels like home already.

As I open Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott I am happy to say that the wisdom I took from this week’s reading was received right on time. I had been struggling with a story I’m working on and trying to defeat writer’s block. I needed the reminders from both chapters today which encouraged me to look within myself for the moral point of view of my story as well as to my intuition in order to hear the voice of the character I’m currently wrestling with in my mind. I hope you will find my summaries of these chapters insightful!


The Moral Point of View

“There is no point gathering an audience and demanding its attention unless you have something to say that is important and constructive.” (Lamott 108)

Within each person lies a moral compass. An internal directive which distinguishes between good, bad, and evil. Within each reader is the desire to interact with characters and conflicts that test that moral compass and strengthen its tendency toward True North.

Writing is an expression of our moral points of view as authors. We write about problems of our world and mask those things behind fictitious characters and settings. Our stories are born of human experience and blanched in lessons of life.

Although setting out to teach a lesson is seldom our goal as writers we become teachers in our craft as we highlight what is important to us in our novels. I love the quote above by Anne Lamott which speaks to the fact that our stories should all in some way reflect this life and apply to the grander scheme of humanity. There should be something to learn or glean from your work. So what are you trying to tell the world with your story?


One of the most important resources in a writer’s arsenal is their intuition. Many of us had our intuition suppressed long ago as children. Things that we were certain of despite their insanity were scoffed at by adults or peers in our lives. As a writer, you really have to reclaim that intuition. To write from a rational mind only is to create dull stories full of true conflicts and characters based on all of your friends (or enemies.)

When you are able to think outside of the rational, your characters begin to take on a life of their own. Your intuition surrenders to their lives and the world in which they live instead of controlling those aspects of the story.

Anne Lamott uses broccoli as a metaphor for her intuition because of an old skit with Mel Gibson when he is told to, “Listen to your broccoli, it will tell you how to eat it.” It’s the same principal with writing. If you try to dictate your characters and plot then you will end up with a drab reflection of reality. Listen to the characters in your mind. Let them have the freedom to write their own stories. Be the vessel that communicates on their behalf. Do not stifle the irrational mind.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Enjoy

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Enjoy. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:


A few weeks ago an email was delivered to my inbox that at first brought me excitement, but moments later pangs of guilt. My daughter’s pre-school was going to be hosting a Thanksgiving Extravaganza. I find so much purpose and fulfillment in what I do for a living, however, my love for my job pails in comparison for my desire to spend time and to make memories with my daughter. I struggled for days and did not respond to the RSVP. During that time my mind was bogged down with thoughts like, Do I miss a day of work for a luncheon? What would my boss think of taking off for this? 

In the end I decided to go for it.

I emailed my principal and explained the situation and was approved for the absence within minutes. One of the hardest parts of being a working mother is the thought of missing out on field trips, class parties, concerts, or award ceremonies and I’m so grateful that my school administrators value family to the extent that I don’t have to feel guilty about taking some time off to celebrate these things with my daughter.

Today was the day of the party and I was able to enjoy the day guilt-free.

We spent our morning preparing ourselves. My daughter wanted to dress up and do her hair so we took our time primping. Her class was in charge of bringing rolls so we had to stop to pick some up at the grocery store before the party. (I thought about making some gluten-free rolls, but wasn’t sure how many people would appreciate that.) When arrived, my daughter was so thrilled to introduce me to all of her classmates and their families. The children shared smiles, hugs, and comments about their festive attire before we all sat down to share in the meal.

I’m so glad that I didn’t have to skip this event. I was truly able to enjoy this day in her life and it’s times like these that I know I will cherish and remember forever. From listening to her recite a prayer with the rest of the children, to hearing all of the comments from her teachers about how well she is doing settling into the class, I needed this day.

May the Holiday Festivities begin!


The Ameri Brit Mom