Sarafina Design

Subtle humor. Simple design.

Susanna Hill's Holiday Contest 2018

I love entering Susanna’s contests! This is my first time submitting a story for the Holiday Contest, and I almost didn’t make it! I recently started a full time job, and along with two little ones, it has put a limit on the time I have to write. This story was composed on my cellphone late at night, and I’m just getting posted with 50 mins to spare before the deadline. But, I’m happy to participate.

Here are the guidelines for the 250 word (or less) story, as posted on the contest website:

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.

  • 2.  Holiday Heroism! – the rules state a Holiday Hero story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, and it must contain a hero and act of heroism in some form! 

  • 3. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny   Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.

  • 4. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best   Overall writing quality and use of language are also important.

  • 5. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.

And now, it’s latke time!


Big Larry ran a latke shop

for tater loving gators.

Hot pancakes, piled on paper plates,

were plopped down by the waiters.

Applesauce and sour cream

made trails around the plate,

as gators licked their massive lips

with pleasure while they ate. 

Hanukkah was coming fast,

Big Larry’s busy season.

But this year’s business hit a snag,

for one disastrous reason...

Spud supplies were running dry

from gator tater famine!

But gators need their latkes like

like a bagel needs smoked salmon.


Big Larry sat around his shop,

he moaned and groaned, “oi vey!”

“Our Hanukkah won’t be the same

if spuds don’t come our way.”


He vowed to find an answer fast,

and keep the gators fed!

Potatoes may have gone away,  

what else could work instead?


He tried a carrot pancake but,

it tasted far too sweet.

His hands turned pink, and stained the sink,

when he fried up a beet.


Zucchini was too boring and

the onions were a flop.

A yam, a pear, some camembert,

one more and then he’d stop!


The only thing that he had left:

A teeny tiny dud,

a little sad pathetic orb…

the last remaining spud!


But thinking of his patrons and

a Hanukkah disaster,

He made a dish that was delish,

a gator latke master!


The carrots, beets, zucchini, AND

some onions, yams AND pear.

The teeny, tiny tuber,

AND a dash of camembert!


“A miracle!” Big Larry cried,

“An absolute delight!

Chag sameach, everyone!”

The menorah shimmered bright.   



Madness Poetry 2018!

I made it to the "Elite 8" round of Madness Poetry! I was beaten by an amazing poem by my opponent, Amelia, who is currently battling it out for the big prize in the final round. Poets, from well known to new, are matched up in an NCAA style bracket. Each match has a word that must be used as given. Other competitors, students, and the community, vote for their favorite. The wonner moves on the the next round, and the loser is out. Here are my poems from this year's competition, it was so much fun:

Round One, 500 characters, "Tattered":


Tattered from their sacrifice,

their fruit, their sap, their wood.

the trees have given up on us.

They’re leaving Earth for good.


Pulling up their tangled roots

and lifting off to space;

they seek a kinder place to grow,

without the human race.


"So long!" sings the Sycamore,

and "Bye-bye!" barks the Birch.

"Toodles!” taunts the Tupelo,

they’ve left us in the lurch.


“Later!” laments the lumberjack

who clings upon a limb,

as Linden launches in the air

and flies away with him.


Round Two, 500 characters, "Pompadour":


Can you hear the octopus?

He's lurking down the hall.

Each night he sticky-suction crawls

while clinging to the wall.


With tapered ends of speckled limbs

and backwards pompadour,

his bouncy, boneless, spiral swirls

cascade across my floor.


I smell his salty, fishy skin,

as I lie still and wait.

One arm, then two, now three, and four...

he’s reached me with all eight!


That’s when I lift the book and ask,

“What chapter is it, Fred?”

There’s nothing quite like reading to

my octopus in bed.


Round Three, 1000 characters, "Confidante":


Dear Beloved Incisor,


A gaping hole sits next to me.

It’s where your svelte shape used to be.


I miss your sheen, so pearly white,

your smooth enamel and your bite.


Once my gum-mate, confidante —

to have you back is all I want!


I thought we shared a strong attraction.

Why, then, did you choose extraction?





My Dear Canine,


I didn’t plan to leave, my love!

But Tongue came by and gave a shove!


Since then I’ve seen amazing things:

A fairy came! Complete with wings!


She flew me to a paradise.

It’s dentist free, that’s oh so nice.


I chew on candy every day.

No fear of fillings, nor decay.


Forgive me, love, please understand,

I can’t give up this Lost Tooth Land.





To Incisor,


I feel regret about my letter.

Things have gotten so much better.


A grand new tooth has claimed your spot.

He likes my jokes. He’s kind of hot.


Enjoy your life in luxury.

We’re over now. Don’t write to me.




P.S. Tongue came by and gave a shove. But I’ll hold on ‘cuz it’s true love!


Round Four, 1000 characters, "Flouting":


I met her back in middle school,

when she moved in next door.

She gave a smile and I watched while

her teeth fell on the floor.


She listens when I’m feeling sad,

with caring moans and sighs.

She never fails to cheer me up

by juggling both her eyes.


Dissecting frogs in science class

will make me green and queasy.

My friend can chew on neuron goo —

amphibians are easy.


In gym she won at tug-o-war,

her power was unmatched,

until the day she pulled so hard

her arms became detached.


And when I try to dress up nice,

it lacks a zombie flair.

While she looks glam in shabby chic

and gruesome matted hair.


She often comes to spend the night

but never goes to bed.

Flouting sleep is no big deal

for someone who’s undead.


I want to be a zombie too!

I’ll get my wish tonight…

that’s when I’ll ask my pasty pal

to give my arm a bite!



Susanna Hill's Valentiny Contest

Susanna Hill is at it once again with her 3rd Annual Valentiny Contest!

I participated in her Halloween contest last year, with some silly rhyming stories. For this contest, I've set the rhyme and silliness aside. My grandmother is 93, and lives in a nursing home on the other side of the country. She was diagnosed with dementia about 5 years ago. I am always filled with joy because she remembers who I am. I don't know if she is given a reminder before our video chats, but I want to believe she remembers me all on her own. I use "grandpa" in the story just to give myself a little distance from the emotion.

The rules for this contest include: A story for children 12 and under. 214 words or less. Include something about being hopeful. Be a Valentine story.

Good luck to everyone! More stories can be read on the official website: Valentiny Contest!





Grandpa used to give me roses on Valentine’s Day. Pink roses with the thorns sliced off. I’d unwrap the crinkling cellophane and Momma would trim the stems. For days they’d be on display, the crystal vase casting rainbows around my room.

I’m not getting roses from Grandpa this year. One morning he came home from a walk in a police car. Momma spoke with our family, a hushed voice in a distant room. Standing in the hall, I heard something about “disoriented” and “forgetful”. Would he forget me too?  

Weeks have passed since he left. His chair sits pushed in. The crystal vase is still tucked away. 

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but I pretend it isn’t. Passing Grandpa’s room in the morning, I slow down, listening. I hear only Momma humming in the kitchen.

Heart shaped pancakes cool on my plate. I trace their outline in syrup. The moat flows in sticky sweetness, but I don’t want to taste them yet. I am lonely.

But if I’m lonely, how must my Grandpa feel? Out comes the markers and stickers, out comes the glitter, the pipe cleaners, and glue. A Valentine for Grandpa. But when I place it in our mailbox, there is a card waiting with familiar handwriting…and a package of rosebush seeds inside.

A Couple Fun Things I Participated in...

I am NOT a natural blogger. This is pretty obvious since there is a three year gap between my posts. However, since I am now taking my (other than greeting card) writing more seriously, I do want to share a couple of competitions I took part in.


Madness Poetry!

The first is Madness Poetry ( It's an amazing, March Madness style, children's poetry competition. I was thrilled to be accepted, and then filled with crazy nerves as I prepared to be judged by peers, students, and the public. Some of the notable participants this year where Jane Yolen, Lori Degman, and Miranda Paul. There names stand out mainly because I've been focusing on picture book writing. But there were a number of accomplished poets, and novices like me. It made me feel more 'bad ass' about writing poetry. I still felt the stigma of writing poetry carried over from when I wrote terrible poetry as a kid, and went to angsty readings and slams. It felt COOL to be part of Madness Poetry, and kick started my energy for writing! My dream is to write a collection of children's poems, and the Madness poets are inspiring.

We were each assigned an obscure word, that had to be incorporated into the poem. There was also a character limit (like Twitter) for each round, and it had to be completed in approximately 36 hrs.

The matches can be viewed here: (scroll down for my name...especially if you want to see how badly my butt was kicked in Round 3, but my competitor ended up winning the entire thing, so I feel a little better!


Round One:


Word prompt for this poem: nebulous

When All Your Sundaes, Taste Like Mondays

by Jenna Waldman

Give me cheese

and give me milk,

I love ice cream

smooth as silk!


Can’t have popcorn

without butter,

milk from cows

is like no udder!


But it breaks

my heart to tell,

that me and dairy

don’t mix well.


If I eat it

I will pass,

a nebulous plume

of toxic gas!


The doc suggests,

‘try dairy free’.

Mom fills the fridge

with misery…


Milk from nuts

and cheese from soy,

all this weird food

zaps my joy.


Hemp milk smoothies,

rice ice creams...

yummy sundaes?

In my dreams!


Round Two:


Word prompt for this poem: truncated

The Monster in My Trunk-Ate-It!

by Jenna Waldman

The monster in my room,

he’s living in my trunk.

Once filled with clothes,

but now? Who knows!

I’m sure just monster junk.


One night I heard a growling,

and stomping monster feet!

I felt a poke,

and then he spoke…

‘Hey, whatcha got to eat?’


I yelled out, ‘Dinner’s through!’,

which made him cross to hear.

‘Sorry Dude,

I need more food!’

Then he bit my Teddy’s ear!


‘Oh Monster you’re a bully,

that wasn’t very fair!’

And now poor Ted,

has lost his head,

my poor ol' truncated bear!


Round Three:


Word prompt for this poem: saddled

Ukulele Sue

by Jenna Waldman

In Grandpa’s old attic, young Sue found a friend.

Its strings were all loose, and its neck had a bend.


She blew off the dust, and she shooed spiders out.

The uke filled with joy, as she spun him about!


Sue brought old Uke home, and she played a quick tune,

But Momma said, ‘Sue! It’s a QUIET afternoon!’


Up in her room, Sue and Uke started rocking,

Then Dad made her stop with a loud knock-knock-knocking!


Out to the woods wandered Uke and young Sue,

It seemed the best place for the musical two.


Then came a WOOSH! And a FLAP! And a CRY!

She reached out for Uke, as the owl took him high!


Suddenly Sue was alone with the trees.

The air had gone still, no more songs on the breeze.


She was saddled with guilt, her throat phlegmy from crying!

Then a sound! She spun ‘round, and her tears…they went flying!


For there was old Uke, looking shiny and new,

Repaired by a group of hip animals who,


Were dressed to impress, playing songs that were grand,

With their own unique ukes, in a Forest Jam Band!



The other competition I participated in was Vivian Kirkfield's #50PreciousLittleThings.

The rules had writers telling a story in only 50 words. I didn't win a thing, but really enjoyed reading everyone's stories/poems...and using mine to vent about an unfortunate event earlier in the week:


Phone Plop

by Jenna Waldman

Mom is always

on her Phone.

When with me,

or all alone.


Takes my picture

in the bath.

Sends to grandma,

makes her laugh.


When we eat,

she’s busy shopping.

Not sure that I

see this stopping.


But when I was

feeling naughty…

I threw Phone

right in the potty!


(Yes! My toddler threw my iphone into the toilet. Yes, I needed a new phone after leaving it in a bag of rice didn't do the trick, sighhh.)




We went to the Louie Awards!

Ever since I began printing my greeting cards, over ten years ago, I have wanted to enter the Louie awards. Because I had never had a run of 500+ (as required to enter) I couldn't enter until my partnership with Recycled Paper Greetings. The 2014 awards were my first time entering, and I was so thrilled to be a finalist! It was especially satisfying to see my card in great company. The other two companies in 'Humorous Birthday $3.50 and below' were big and well established: Compendium and Madison Park (the winner).

We didn’t win, but we had an AMAZING time at the Louie Awards Gala and National Stationery Show. What an honor to be a finalist with our first entry ever!

It was also a special trip because it was our (me and my friend Christine) first trip away from our two year olds! We each picked out a place we wanted to visit. I chose the High Line since I had moved from the area before the park opened. Christine chose Mood Fabric for her love of sewing and Project Runway. We also managed to fit in brunch with my high school friend and her family, and snap some pictures from the top of the Empire State Building.

It had been 6 years since I had been to NYC, and it was four days well spent.

Hurricane Sandy

On occasion, we use a greeting card to help raise money for a worthy cause. The last fundraiser was for the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties that helped feed people affected by Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey Shore. The cards were sold at MassArt Made in Boston, and raised about $135. The food bank can feed three people with just $1, so this donation goes a long way! Thank you to everyone who purchased a Fursey Shore card!