Thursday, October 4, 2012


Congratulations to Susan for winning an e-book copy of Jen Tucker's The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt and to Margaret for winning an e-book copy of Little Pumpkin, and many thanks to all the entrants!

I am pleased as punch to have one of my favorite people on the planet guest posting on Books by Banister today! Please welcome bestselling author, blogger, fellow blonde goddess, lover of all things pink, and the funniest lady you'll ever meet, my friend Jen Tucker! <applause applause> Jen has been very busy lately as she not only released the witty memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, but also re-released her childrens' book, Little Pumpkin, on Kindle just in time for Halloween! She has generously offered to give away 1 Kindle copy of The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt to a lucky reader and 1 Kindle copy of Little Pumpkin to another fortunate soul. Please check out the rules for this giveaway below (in the section that's highlighted yellow) and read on for a wonderful tale of family and tradition told in Jen's warm and humorous way . . . 

All Aboard!
by Jen Tucker

Oh Tracie, my Tracie! Thank you so much for opening up Books by Banister for me to have my way with it during my blog tour for my new memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt. *Jen is smirking big Grinchy style* Thank you, my Georgia Peach! I appreciate your friendship, camaraderie, and overall Tracie-ness.

The Tuckers live, eat, sleep, and breathe Boilermakers. Not the beer and liquor concoction, mind you. The Purdue University kind. My husband, Mike, and I hail from a long lineage of black and gold wearing people. My father is an alumnus, and professor, at the West Lafayette campus. My father-in-law spent his college years studying at the school of pharmacy in the 60’s. Mike and I met in the summer of 1992 at a little watering hole near Purdue’s campus, Harry’s Chocolate Shop, while both undergrads. See that fountain in the photo above? That is the spot where Mike proposed to me on a cold December day during finals week in 1992.   

To say that our children do not have a fighting chance to pledge allegiance to other institutions of higher learning is an understatement. We currently live in West Lafayette (a stone’s throw from campus), their grandmother lets loose with her train whistle at all their events (sports, band concerts, speech meets, and school plays just to name a few) and on the day of their respective births, their first gift was to be swaddled by their maternal grandfather in an official Purdue Cycling Team jersey. You see the nurture/nature working together beautifully in this situation, don’t you?

Our daughter, Gracie, was recently invited to a birthday party with a big surprise for her little buddy, Xavier. His parents had arranged to have the train that puts Thomas to shame, The Boilermaker Special, arrive to take the children for a ride. The same train I rode with my class of little ones as a student teacher a few—ahem—decades ago. The same train I struck a pose on with my friend Gina, the day we hoodwinked Purdue into giving us diplomas. The same train my father contributed time to help construct. The same train that Ryan and Wil, my now teenaged sons, both had all access seats on when they were small. Now, it was Gracie’s turn, and I was beside myself with excitement.

Eyes lit up. Little feet raced. Parents fumbled with cameras. What a sight to behold; the faces of the children seeing the train and realizing the whistles they heard while playing in the backyard didn’t deceive them. It really was there; just for them. There was no way I was missing my ticket to ride. I may be considered an adult legally, yet if you check my heart and soul, it still reads childlike. Although I offered to let Mike escort Gracie, it wasn’t sincere. It was more of a courtesy invitation I had hoped he’d decline. Mike knows me better than I know myself sometimes, and let me have the black and golden ticket. He stayed behind, and I plopped down next to my daughter waving goodbye to him as we pulled away from the curb.

It was a beautiful evening. The breeze was chilly, yet the children didn’t mind. The bunch were grinning and exuberantly waving to Xavier’s neighbors. Parents were beaming watching this unfold. A memory in the making. I sat with Gracie and one of her BFF’s, Josie, and listened to them giggle. It was a moment I know they will always remember, just as Wil and Ryan do. For me, I could check off from my Life List (you might call it your Bucket List) riding The Boilermaker Special with all three of my children. It was that meaningful for me. I couldn’t wait to debrief with Gracie. Ask her what her favorite part was; her most special memory.

On the drive home, I quizzed my little girl to get the low-down on her thoughts. She recapped the joys of waving to “all my people, just like Al Roker, does when they are on the plaza at 30 Rock for concerts on The Today Show.” She laughed thinking about the little boy using his plastic mower to help out his dad, who jumped out of his skin as the train whistled while chugging past. Lastly, Gracie was happy to share a moment with these friends that she has known for the bulk of her six little years on the planet. 

No matter your college allegiance, no matter what colors you wear on game day, we all share the fact we have traditions and loyalties that run deep in our families. Embrace the time you have to make memories happen with your children. Perhaps my train ride is your “dotting the i,” with your kids, if you are a Buckeye. If you are a Clemson Tiger, maybe your moment is watching players, run “down the hill” on game day. The rich traditions, significance, and histories are just waiting for you to pass it on to another generation.

It was tearful for me to have that experience with Gracie and cross it off my list of “must do’s.” So to my little X-Man, thank you for having a birthday party where not only could I share in your joy and excitement, but also I could latch on to a little piece just for me. Happy Birthday, Xavier! I love you. It is my humble honor to watch you grow up a Boilermaker.

Bless and be blessed,



Author Bio: 
Jen Tucker has never met a gluten free cupcake that she didn’t like. A former teacher and educator, she has worked with children in school, hospital, and enrichment settings. In her years at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, it was Jen’s job to bring the “hands on fun” into the visiting exhibitions in the galleries. Jen broke away from writing children’s books and thematic units in 2011 with her memoir, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out which was a semifinalist in the humor category in the 2011 Goodreads Book Awards. She is a monthly guest blogger at the website, Survival for Blondes, where she marries humor with preparedness. Jen lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband, Mike, and their three children. 

Book blurb (How I Lost My Shaker of Salt): 
Yes, this time she checked to make sure her panties were not inside out when her day began to head south. Jen Tucker returns with her latest memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt. Her dogs sample ant trap delicacies, a dentist appointment goes strangely awry, and she battles potential road kill daredevils on one thorny day. Tender at times, funny as always, one of your favorite girlfriends returns to show you there are silver linings in the midst of bad days.

Book blurb (Little Pumpkin):
It's fall in the pumpkin patch, and Little Pumpkin desperately wants to join a family for Halloween. He discovers that he is not the biggest, tallest, or roundest of pumpkins and frets over the thought of not being chosen because he is too small. Join Little Pumpkin as he learns the valuable lesson that when you give of yourself to others, you'll discover deep inside of you what matters most.

Also included in this book are fun pumpkin facts, recipes, and activities to extend the pumpkin fun at home or in a classroom.

For a chance to win a Kindle copy of Jen Tucker's memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, please leave a comment below, telling me which college football team you root for. Please don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!

For a chance to win a Kindle copy of Jen Tucker's childrens' book, Little Pumpkin, please leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Halloween tradition is. Again, don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win!

These giveaways will be open until midnight on Wednesday, October 10th. I will contact the winners via e-mail and announce the names here. Good luck, everyone! I look forward to reading your comments.

You can purchase Jen’s latest book, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, here.  You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, her blog or on her website at Princess With a Pen


  1. Your book is waiting in my TBR pile (which has strangely grown since I've become a Goddess) and I am eager to season my life with your salt shaker!

    1. Thank you Sharon! It is so fun getting to know you too, my fellow goddess. XOXO

  2. Tracie, thank you so much for the forum to bleed black and gold all over your blog. I love you, Georgia Peach! XOXO

  3. I agree with never meeting a gluten free cupcake I didn't like. I've been gluten free for 12 years now and it has gotten so much easier since it became trendy (strange trend, though).

    Your books look great. I'm sports impaired, so I don't follow football. If I have to pick a team, it would be Penn State for my husband.

    We love Halloween and, when the kids were younger, would help put on a large haunted house and games at their school. My husband would dress like a clown and entertain the kids. It was our favorite Halloween activity.

    I'd rather not put my email on the web, so I hope that by signing in, you'll have access to it.

  4. What a fun outing. Love the Al Rocker comment!

    I don't watch college football... I guess if I had to pick a team, it would be my Alma Mater, SDSU. Go Aztecs. Go Black & Red. (Does that sound sincere??) :P

    Love the title of the memoir!

  5. I'm a Hoosier and I bleed Cream and Crimson for everything BUT football. I'm a fan of THE Ohio State Buckeye football team (my husband is a Buckeye and IU football sucks)! But,when they aren't playing OSU or IU, I always say "Boiler UP!" Although I don't get that cheer!!!

  6. I already have a copy of the awesome Salt Shaker, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to say hi to two of my favorite ladies! *waves to Jen & Tracie* And I root for the Virginia Cavaliers who consistently break my heart!

  7. Entry for: The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt

    Since I live in Canada college football doesn't have the same impact here and I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the teams. However we do have the BC Lions.


  8. Entry for: Little Pumkin

    My kids and I use a skeleton head (fake of course) and dress him up in my husband's work clothes and boots and sit him down on a bench just by our door(on the outside.) He even gets a trick or treat bag to hold and the kids give him a few candies on halloween night.


  9. My fav football team is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I was born and raised there and there is just nothing like Big Red football. We did live in West Lafayette, Indiana for 5 years while my hubby was going to grad school. And I have 2 daughters who also graduated from Purdue. So I would have to say that the Boilermakers are my second fav team. I follow them both but I bleed Big Red blood.

  10. The Halloween tradition I started for my kids (and I didn't even know it) was to always have spaghetti for dinner on Halloween. I just always fixed it cause it was easy and I could start the sauce early in the day. And it was easily interruptible when trick-or-treaters came to the door. I wasn't going to fix it one year and my kiddos revolted. I HAD to fix spaghetti - that was our tradition. Who knew? Thanks for the awesome giveaways!


  11. OMG, Jen, we're so in the same place. My boys love steam trains. My 7yo wants to build a full scale working model in our backgarden, complete with track. (Our backgarden is tiny, he hasn't quite got the scale thing worked out). During the summer months, we tour up and down the country to take steam train rains. Not to mention the Santa Specials! Great post, thanks so much for sharing, and photos too. Thank to Tracie for hosting you--you are an awesome team! XX