What’s it all about? And why would anyone want to read it? Well, let me try to explain without losing your interest too quickly. Basically, it’s all about me. Shameless self-promotion: of my writing, of my novels:
Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? and Reis's Pieces, of my amazing ability to come up with clever captions on photos of my travels . . . And also, a blatant representation of my stupidity when it comes to spelling, editing, and computer-type stuff.

My debut novel:
Where are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder was released in September of 2010. My second novel: Reis's Pieces: Love, Loss, and Schizophrenia, was released May, 2012!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sneak Preview From My New Novel

My new novel: Reis's Pieces: Love, Loss, and Schizophrenia will be released in May! We are busy with the final edits! As with Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder, I thought I'd share a few excerpts now and then.

Reis settled into the leather chair and sighed at the doctor. “I feel like I’m being tested.”

“Tested?” asked Dr. Benson.

“Well, more like a child, really…or a criminal. Like my life isn’t my own.”

Dr. Benson frowned, then nodded and waited.

“It’s like, now that I’m part of this system, there’s no way out. So many people looking after my welfare.... It’s rather insulting.” Reis stood up and began to pace. “It’s not like I committed a crime against society. I’m not a criminal.” He stopped and appealed to Dr. Benson. “Why do I feel like I’m trapped? No longer able to man my own life?”

Dr. Benson leaned forward, rested an elbow on his knee, and placed his chin in his hand. “Reis, the system’s there for you. As you said, to look after your welfare. As long as you’re not a danger to yourself or anyone else, you’re free to walk away.”

Reis sat back down in the chair and ran his fingers through his hair. He tried to stop the gasp of sorrow that escaped from his mouth, but he just couldn’t. He rubbed his fingers into his eyes and looked at Dr. Benson. “But don’t you see? Don’t you understand? I have nowhere to go.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Favorite Cocoa Puffs Cookie Recipe!

As Promised: Something to do with all those boxes of Cocoa Puffs purchased at the NAMI SE Minnesota dinner!

Cocoa Puff Cookies

By Moe! Larry! Cheese! on April 05, 2005

2 Reviews
  • timer
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 9 mins
  • Servings: 24

About This Recipe

"Comes from "Favorite Fixins from Fafnir Folks" cookbook. Cooking times may vary."


    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup Karo syrup
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
    • 4 cups Cocoa Puffs cereal


  1. In a large pot; bring to a boil the sugar, syrup and honey.
  2. Boil until sugar is almost melted.
  3. Stir in peanut butter and then the Coco Puffs.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool. Store in a air-tight container.

    I spread them in a glass casserole and then cut them in squares once set. Thanks to all from NAMI SE Minnesota!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NAMI Advocate Review

NAMI Bookshelf

Where are the Cocoa Puffs?Where are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder
Karen Winters Schwartz
Goodman Beck Publishing (2010)

Where are the Cocoa Puffs? illustrates how a well-crafted piece of fiction can be effective at explaining the experience of mental illness. The story unfolds like the chronology of an earthquake, with 18-year-old Amanda at the epicenter and those close to her being shaken to varying degrees by the development of her illness. Just like in documentary photographs of a quake or a storm, what communicates the hugeness of the event are snapshots of the details: a troubling conversation in which Amanda plans to cure blindness and deafness; a trip with the extended family; the breakdown on the cereal aisle because there are no Cocoa Puffs; mother Carol’s tears in a restaurant that reminds her of happier times or Amanda’s younger sister acting out with the wrong guy. Bipolar disorder shows itself to be a storm that peaks and levels and rages again, but that is best communicated by daily events like meals or a mundane activity cut short by a phone call signaling the beginning of a new stage of crisis.

One of the most gripping themes in Cocoa Puffs is watching Amanda’s father, a psychiatrist, slowly recognize and come to terms with his daughter’s illness. The reader sees events such as the first suicidal conversation and the first hospitalization through the eyes of someone who has experienced them many times before—but not like this. In one moving scene, Jerry receives a prescription from his daughter’s psychiatrist and finds himself lingering, knowing that this is all the doctor can give him, but wishing the other man could just give him some reassurance about his daughter’s illness.

Another interesting element in the book is Amanda’s relationship with her boyfriend, Ryan. Older, long-haired, not currently in school, he is not what her parents ideally want for her in a partner. But over time, he becomes a powerful support to both Amanda and the rest of the family. Like the NAMI Family-to-Family class that helps Carol, Ryan shows how sometimes families find healing outside the family. When the reader is inside Ryan’s head, it’s like a moment of calm. All the worries, anger and projections from the minds of the rest of the family stop, and we can just appreciate what he loves about Amanda, even as we see his own struggle to understand her illness.

Unlike its title, the book is not always sweet—sex, strong language and drugs are all part of this slice of life. In keeping with the naturalistic tone, the book’s resolution is a glimmer of normalcy. After many months of painful ups and downs, mother and daughter finally meet in the middle for a regular conversation. “Wow,” the family says together. Readers with all degrees of familiarity with mental illness may very well find themselves saying the same at the end of the book.

Reviewed by Kim Puchir

To order: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Are-Cocoa-Puffs-Disorder/dp/0979875560/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314195032&sr=8-1

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Release of a Wonderful Cookbook!

I'm very excited to announce the official release of my mother, Dot's, cookbook! In honor of her upcoming eightieth birthday, her original book, The Old Caterer's Favorite Hors d'oeuvres has been updated and published by Bryce Cullen Publishing. Copies of this beautiful addition can be easily ordered from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1935752081/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
This cookbook is a result of over half a century of Dot Winters entertaining others and is quite possibly (definitely) one of the most comprehensive hors d'oeuvre cookbooks ever assembled! Filled with amazing recipes, laced with wise personal commentary and seasoned social advice, The Old Caterer's Hors d'oeuvres is more than a cookbook—it's a way of life.

You can also "Like" The Old Caterer's Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Old-Caterers-Favorite-Hors-doeuvres/194759750584100

Please pass this news along to others in support of a lifetime of great eating, entertaining and cooking!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Letter From NAMI—Thanks Mike!

Dear NAMI State Organization and Affiliate Leaders,

For all Americans, this has been a long and challenging week. NAMI has been inundated with calls from the news media and others—policymakers and ordinary family members— seeking information in the wake of the Arizona tragedy about mental illness and mental health care.

THIS TRAGEDY OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY . CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORSIt’s important that elected officials—particularly governors and state legislators—understand that the Arizona tragedy is a national tragedy that means they have to take steps now to fix the mental healthcare system.

Please send a message today to your elected officials. We’ve prepared a sample letter you can send here: NAMI’s on-line CapWiz tool. Send an action alert to your own state and local networks asking them to do so as well. Follow-up with postal letters or additional email or personal contacts in constituent meetings in the weeks ahead.

Following NAMI’s official statement on the tragedy on Jan.10, we have worked to help shape news coverage with considerable results. Many NAMI leaders have been interviewed and quoted in leading media at the national, state and local level. Thank you—all of you—for helping to move the focus of news stories from political rhetoric and guns to America’s broken mental health care system—especially the need for early evaluation and treatment and elimination of stigma.

A TEACHABLE MOMENT – In your communities, reporters, friends and others may be askng “How did this happen?’” and “What can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen here?” This is a teachable moment. You may have opportunities to make the same basic points that we have over the last week:

  • Individuals and families should not be afraid to reach out for help when they need it and no one should be afraid to offer help.
  • It’s not about political rhetoric. It’s not about guns. It’s mental health care.
  • Most people living with mental illness are not violent. The U.S. Surgeon General has said the likelihood is “exceptionally small.” Acts of violence are exceptional—which means something has gone terribly wrong.
  • The mental health care system is broken. We need to fix it.
  • In the last few years, budget cuts have devastated mental health services in all states—not just Arizona .
  • We need to strengthen the system so that people can get the right help at the right time.

To date, NAMI has had 75 or more direct media contacts—we’ve lost count! The total coverage is too long to list here, but I do want to share a few highlights, below. I also encourage you to follow NAMI’s continuingefforts on Facebook and Twitter.

NAMI RESOURCES – NAMI is here to help individuals, families and communities. Whether through the NAMI website and HelpLine or your office and phone lines, we’re all trying to offer information that can help save lives. The importance of family education and support has been made especially clear this week.

  • The NAMI web site carries a vast array of information and resources.
  • NAMI’s Newsroom points reporters to helpful resources such as Grading the States and provides press releases that affiliates can use for themselves.
  • Family-to-Family classes all across the country offer the support and help that families need.
  • StrengthOfUs, a social networking site for transition-age youth, provides a supportive environment for finding and offering peer support.

Thank you for the work you are doing in your community. Thank you for being there for all of those who need our help.