Face Masks with and without Elastic Ties

Hi, My hometown has an active Facebook group, SOMa Sewing Volunteers, for sewing cotton masks for healthcare workers.

THESE ARE NOT N-95 MASKS AND NOT FOR FRONT-LINE PREVENTION OF VIRUS SPREAD, but hospitals have asked for them for non-front-line staff, as these masks are considered better than no masks.

In three days, a group of 300 delightful crafters and volunteers has made more than 500 masks and, I bet, gotten a bit saner in the process by Doing Something in the face of coronavirus. I know it’s helped me feel connected to a generous and loving community. We have given masks to hospitals, high risk obstetric units, groups of home health aides, and, soon, Covenant House in Newark, a shelter for homeless young people. (Read about it in my book, Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, foreword by by Cory Booker, excuse the shameless plug but whatever, all author proceeds go to charity.)

But elastic is scarce. For the time being, we have been lucky enough to have a friendly elastic dealer affiliated with Atlantic Health System, which covers nearby Overlook Hospital, and (the hospital formerly known as) Morristown Memorial, where my dad got excellent care.

But we wanted to offer a pattern that could be done without elastic.

Here’s the link:

Facemasks with and without elastic 3-28

Please enjoy the pattern and stay safe out there!

Rise Wildly, Due in October!

I am so excited to share the cover of my fourth poetry collection, coming October 6, 2020, from CavanKerry Press!

New Book and Other News

I’m excited and grateful to announce that my fourth poetry collection, Rise Wildly, is due out in October 2020 from CavanKerry Press. The publishing house did such a beautiful job with Abloom & Awry (I like to pet the cover, it has such a welcoming texture somehow) and I value their mission of getting poetry out into the community that explores “the emotional and psychological landscapes of everyday life.” The book’s title comes from a poem about flying trains, and there are journalism poems, poems about my mother’s death, and ones on words, spirituality, and nature.

I’ll be at AWP, reading Saturday night at Crab Creek Review’s House Party.

A week later, I’m deeply honored to be receiving the Maplewood Literary Award from the Maplewood Library, as part of its Ideas Festival. Previous winners are folks in town I admire greatly, and the library is an essential institution our family loves. The executive director will be interviewing me, and I’ll be reading some poems, on April 6 from 2-4 p.m. at the main branch on Baker Street.

Sorry I’ve been neglecting the blog. I’ve had some poems online that I didn’t put up, here are a couple, but not too many, as I want y’all to buy the book!

Speaking of which, I want to clear some shelf space in the guest room closet, and sell some books –
Gospel of Galore, Precise, and Abloom & Awry . They’re $16 each, and Ardor, my chapbook, is $12, but as a special, I’ll throw in free shipping. For the $16 ones, you can get 2 for $30, and all 3 for $40! Email me at tinapetekate at gmail dot com, with which books you want, your address, and if you want them signed, and I will get them in the mail. We’re having house guests!

Thanks, and happy almost National Poetry Month!

My Mom’s Christmas Cookie Recipes

My mom’s ability to draw friends close was one of my favorite things about her. She was famous for her Christmas tea parties, a tradition she started when we first moved to Brookside in 1978. She would usually make 10 or so different recipes, and continued the tradition through thick and thin, even a few weeks after my father died — the show must go on. We served these cookies, baked by some dear friends, at her funeral last year.

Of my mom’s legacies to me, these recipes are some of my favorites. Especially the last ones, in her inscrutable handwriting, that come with the memories of how I misread “Mint Brownies” as “Meat Brownies.” She and I had good laugh over that. My dad used to say we congregated at a giggle.

You may notice a bit of a theme in these. They come from an era when convenience was a welcome and delightful feature — Tang in the tea, Hershey’s syrup in the brownies, Nilla wafers in the bourbon balls. I learned to cook, or at least bake, at this altar, and I love how easily so many of these treats come together. They aren’t high-brow, they don’t take 33 ingredients, and I hope they bring you much enjoyment!

Viva la Cuppie Tish!

1 1/3 cup Tang Flavor beverage crystals
1/3 cup. instant tea
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/c cup sugar
½ tsp. ground cloves.
Mix together well and put tin canister. Put 1 teaspoon per cup of hot water.

1 cup butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 tbs. water
1 tbs. light corn syrup
2 cups finely chopped blanched almonds or less
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup (8 oz) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
Melt butter, stir in sugar, water and corn syrup.
Cook until 280 or 290 degrees, remove from heat
Stir in nuts, vanilla. Pour into pan.
Melt chocolate pieces, remove toffee onto wax paper, put on ½ the chocolate, halve the nuts, chill, flip over, and put rest of chocolate and rest of nuts on other side.

4 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 ½ cups powered sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
Heat oven to 400ºF. In large bowl, stir all ingredients except granulated sugar until soft dough forms.
Shape dough into balls, about 1 inch in diameter; roll in granulated sugar to coat. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls about 2 inches apart. Flatten balls slightly with bottom of glass.
Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.
Bake for an additional 20 minutes in the preheated oven. The bars will firm up as they cool. For a festive tray, make another pan using limes instead of lemons and adding a drop of green food coloring to give a very pale green. After both pans have cooled, cut into uniform 2-inch squares and arrange in a checker board fashion.

Makes 4 dozen
1⅓ c. hazelnuts (filberts)
½ c. sugar
¾ c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1¾ c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. seedless red raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 1 cup hazelnuts in 9- by 9-inch metal baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until toasted, shaking pan occasionally. Wrap hot hazelnuts in clean cloth towel. With hands, roll hazelnuts back and forth to remove most of skins. Cool completely.
In food processor with knife blade attached, blend toasted hazelnuts with sugar until finely ground. Add margarine or butter, vanilla, and salt, and process until blended. Add flour and process until evenly mixed. Remove knife blade, and press dough together with hand.
Finely chop remaining 1/3 cup hazelnuts; spread on piece of waxed paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (dough may be slightly crumbly), using about 2 teaspoons dough for each ball. Roll balls in nuts, gently pressing nuts onto dough.
Place balls, about 1 1/2 inches apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. With thumb, make small indentation in center of each ball. Fill each indentation with 1/4 teaspoon jam. Bake cookies 20 minutes or until lightly golden around edges. With pancake turner, remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining balls and jam. Store cookies in tightly covered container.

Makes 45 cookies.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 1⁄3cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray several cookie sheets with cooking spray.
With a mixer, beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beat until incorporated.
Stir in the flour and almonds. Work flour mixture into a firm dough.
Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, shape a long in the middle is thicker than both ends. Bend dough log into a crescent shape.
Place on greased cookie sheets and repeat until all dough is used.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown.
Sift powdered sugar into a small shallow bowl.
While the cookies are still warm , roll the crescents in the powdered sugar.
Cool on racks.


1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. The dough will look dry. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping) and chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until smooth.
Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick. Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeyes. Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.

A New Chapbook, Readings, and Links

I’m excited to announce that my chapbook, Ardor, is out in the world. It won the annual chapbook competition from Jacar Press, please purchase it there (hit order on the top line.)

I also have a couple readings coming up I hope people can attend:

Thursday, October 19, at 7 p.m., I’ll be reading at the Thursdays are for Poetry Series, CLASSIC QUICHE. 230 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666 Open mic. min $10.

Saturday, I’ll be joining a number of my favorite New Jersey poets at a celebration of the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, beginning at 12 noon Warren County Community College. Here’s what’s happening:

Readings by Martin Farawell, Laura Boss, Kenneth Hart, Charles H. Johnson, Tina Kelley, Diane Lockward, John McDermott, Peter Murphy, Khalil Murrell, Priscilla Orr, Joe Weil, Gretna Wilkinson, and Sander Zulauf. All of these poets will read some original work, as well as their favorite poems by other poets who have appeared at one or more of the Dodge Festivals. Also on hand to celebrate will be Festival Co-Founders Scott McVay and Jim Haba. Books will be available for purchase. Join us in beautiful (particularly during this time of year) Warren County for this very special event. Free and open to the public. More details, including the afternoon’s schedule, can be found here.

Some of my writing has been appearing online lately, including this poem from Ardor on VerseDaily.

I’ve been honored to interview Pattiann Rogers for Terrain.org and The Poetry Foundation.

Lastly, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in my day job, journalist, in New Jersey Monthly.

Upcoming Readings

Hi, I’m excited to announce the following readings, featuring poems from Abloom & Awry, my new collection, out last month from CavanKerry Press. Please show up if you can! And please tell your friends who live in the various neighborhoods.

Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 7 PM I’ll be reading with Anton Yakovlev, courtesy of the North Jersey Literary Series, at Classic Quiche Café, 330 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, New Jersey. Open Mic will follow. There’s a $10 minimum, come early and enjoy a relaxing meal. Café phone is 201- 692- 0150. Anton’s latest poetry collection is Ordinary Impalers (Aldrich Press, 2017) and he has authored two chapbooks: Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Giant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Prelude, Measure, and elsewhere.

Sunday, May 28, I’ll be reading at Mamapalooza, in Riverside Park South. I’ll be joining a group of writers from Mom Egg Review, time to be announced. The Festival’s theme is “SING OUT SISTER” with mothers and the people who love them, featuring music, family-focused vendors, wellness activities, art, & activism. 2017’s theme inspires all to find their voice and bring a message of peace, tolerance, and equality. Fierce FEMINISTS as well as FAMILIES of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds WELCOME.

On Tuesday, June 6 I’ll be joining Joan Cusack Handler and Danny Shot at the Cornelia Street Underground, 29 Cornelia Street in New York City, at 6 p.m. Joan is the publisher of CavanKerry Press and her most recent book, Orphans, is a verse memoir that explores our most primitive and essential relationships – those with our parents. Danny’s next book, Works, comes out from CavanKerry in 2018, and he is the poet-in-residence of the Hoboken Museum.

Saturday, June 10, I’ll be moderating a panel for the first ever Maplewood South Orange Book Festival. Poets Theresa Burns, Michael Lally, Danny Shot, BJ Ward and I will be sharing work that focuses on justice, resistance, and/or ways to bolster spirits and protect the disenfranchised in uncertain times. Post-election, poetry has emerged as a way to channel the uncertainty that comes with regime change. The panel is at 10 a.m. in the Burgdorff Center, 10 Durand Rd, Maplewood, NJ 07040.

Sunday, June 11 I’ll be reading at the Books NJ 2017 festival, at the Paramus Public Library. Check out the schedule of other terrific writers here.

Looking further ahead, I’ll be reading on Friday, July 7 at my home-away-from-home bookstore (am ever loyal to Words in Maplewood) That’s in Seattle, Elliott Bay Books at 7 pm.

On Tuesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. I’ll be reading at the Highland Park Library Poetry Night Series.

I’m very open to other opportunities to read, please let me know! Hope to see you at one of these upcoming events!

Abloom & Awry Has Arrived!

I am so excited to hold in my hand this elegantly produced book, carefully crafted by CavanKerry Press! The release sale has just been announced, 30% off! Here’s the link!

Please come out Sunday, March 26, to the Bernardsville Library in Bernardsville, NJ, for Tea and Conversation, where I’ll be interviewed by Julie Maloney about poetry and journalism. All my books will be there! Hope to see you!