Monday, September 1, 2014

A Southern Porch...

A Southern porch
This is where life happens in the South, or at least some of it.
My porch is not a fancy porch; it is simply my go-to place, my sanctuary; a place to “catch a breeze”.
There is a swing at one end where I sit while my thoughts find form. For the hot summer days that sometimes reach into the high 90s, there’s a Southern Breeze maker – a fan. Here in the South, we make our own breeze more often than not.
A Southern breeze maker
The porch is in need of washing for as soon as the mildew has been scrubbed away, it begins to form again. The floor shows the marks of Sentry, a pet, taking a running start and flying off the end in an attempt to avoid landing in the azaleas that line the porch. More marks are noticeable from Calypso, another pet, chasing her tail. Taking up space is a plant bench that my husband made for a daughter. I’m sure she’ll be by at some point to reclaim it, but until then I’ve piled it high with plants; plants I forget to water.
Two rockers take up residence on the front porch, their red surface marred by the chew marks made by Calypso as a puppy. They sport by contrast, fading yellow putty in need of paint. Across the front steps is a double gate; installed in an attempt to keep our two German ShepherdsRyka and Calypso, off of the porch. Most days, it swings in the breeze as I am not diligent about securing it. I find it comforting to look up and see one, if not both of my dogs, napping at the front door in an attempt to be near me. Some days, all I see is a blur, as they have left their mark, nose prints on the glass, as they have sat watching my every move inside.
German Shepherds
Ryka and Calypso along with the smudges
German Shepherd
Let sleeping dogs lie
We have plans for the front porch. Much discussion flowed about the pros and cons of putting the screening on the inside or the outside of the railings. The porch railings have gone up without the screen. Louvers will eventually be built and installed at either end of the porch for privacy. Landscape will be cut back and the steps widened to accommodate the double screen doors that will be installed.
West German Shepherd
Until that time, the front porch is a place to sit and relax. It is a place to dream of the future and contemplate the mistakes of the past. It is a place to drift in time as we Southerners are known to do.
West German Shepherd

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Marriage by Design by Elley Arden (Tour, Review, Spotlight, Giveaway)

Elley Arden is back with a new sexy and emotional romance that will make you cry and swoon, all at the same time, with MARRIAGE BY DESIGN, book 2 of the Designing Love series.
When carpenter Angie Corcarelli goes steel-toe boot to high-polished loafer with her best friend’s ex, construction engineer Stuart Perrault, sparks fly in Elley Arden’s latest Designing Love novel, Marriage by Design.
Want to get to know Elley better? Check out this exclusive interview!
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Marriage by DesignAbout MARRIAGE BY DESIGN:
Family first. That motto led Angie Corcarelli to become a carpenter and take over the family construction business when she was barely out of her teens. And now it’s leading her into battle against her best friend’s ex. Stuart Perrault and his swanky, family-run construction engineering firm have been tapped to oversee a highway project that includes demolishing a stretch of row homes. Over her dead body will it come to that. Stuart Perrault knows a thing or two about family allegiance. For the past fifteen years, he’s been working alongside his brother and father, dreaming about the day he’d be named CEO of the Perrault Group. But then came the bridge debacle in Paris. And now his dream seems a little further away. As he fights his way back to the top of the company, he isn’t about to watch another project fall apart just because his ex-girlfriend’s best friend is a loose cannon.
When Stuart’s father insists he take Angie out to dinner and neutralize things, he obliges. But has he bitten off more than he can chew? Angie isn’t at all what he expected, and his usual self-control doesn’t seem to work when he’s around her.
The more time Angie spends with Stuart, the harder it is to see him as the bad guy she’d believed him to be. But falling for each other would mean going against their respective families. Are they strong enough for that?
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Also in the Designing Love series: BABY BY DESIGN
E Arden auth picElley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.
Charming characters. Emotional stories. Sexy romance.
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My thoughts on the book:
Due to unforeseen circumstances, my review will posted in a couple of days. 

What a Lady Craves by Ashlyn Macnamara (Tour, Review, Excerpt, Giveaway)

Ashlyn Macnamara weaves a delicious tale of two souls torn apart by circumstance and reunited by fate—perfect for fans of Julia QuinnEloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries.
Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.
For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.
Get your copy of WHAT A LADY CRAVES
Ashlyn MacnamaraAshlyn Macnamara is the author of A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.
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(Chapter Three)
Alexander took a none-too-steady step back from the counter. “I’ll see you to the manor.”
Oh, how she wanted to refuse, but he was clearly in no condition to make it up the hill on his own, and he needed to return to his chamber. To his bed. Otherwise, he was likely to keel over once more and spend the rest of the day on Tilly’s rough and filthy floorboards. She wouldn’t relegate even him to such a fate.
He proffered an elbow, the gesture oddly formal in a derelict shop owned by a scavenger. Ever the gentleman, Alexander. Just as she remembered him.
She closed her eyes against another flurry of memories, ones that had her dressed in silk and him in cravat and black topcoat, dancing, laughing, stealing off to the terrace for a few stealthy kisses. Yes, he’d been all that to her, but he’d also broken her heart. She’d need the memory of that pain to steel herself against his charm.
For he could charm her again, all too easily.
She took his arm, ignoring the flex of lean muscle beneath her fingers, and tipped her head so Tilly could not overhear. “Are you certain you can make it back to the manor?”
One side of his mouth tilted upward. “No, actually. In fact, you may have to carry me.”
Please, let that be a joke. He was already standing too close—enough that she caught a breath of his scent, at once familiar and foreign. The clean sharpness she recalled so well, overlain by a hint of exotic spice, the enticing scent of India, if she didn’t miss her guess.
Damn her heart. It insisted on pulsing all the harder, as if it had forgotten the way he’d broken it. And that was the last thing she needed.
“Shall—” For some reason her voice emerged on an oddly husky note. She cleared her throat before trying again. “Shall I leave you here and send the footmen down? Your aunt might even have a sedan chair spirited away somewhere.”
He gave a soft laugh. “If anyone still owns a sedan chair in this day and age, it would be my aunt. I believe I’d rather rely on my own two legs as far as they’ll carry me.”
And wasn’t that just like him to insist on self-reliance? The very thing that had called him to the East India Company eight years ago when his father died, leaving the family’s finances in a disastrous state. Alexander had taken his father’s remaining ship and chanced everything the Sanfords had left on a voyage to the Orient.
Her lips tingled at the memory of their last kiss. It had tasted of poignancy, sadness mingled with hope. In delaying his personal happiness to restore his family’s fortunes, she’d thought him admirable. Noble. Everything a hero out of a fairy tale should be. Surely such a man would keep his promise to come home and marry her. What a naïve little chit she’d been.
My thoughts on the book:
First off, I thought the cover was enticing and definitely draws those readers that determine if they'll read the book or not by the cover. I may or may not be one of those. The cover was a plus.
I am a great fan of this era and thought the book was well written and had a great storyline. I was not disappointed with any part of the book. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the adventure.
I also found no errors in the book, which really pleased me. If there is one error, I am the one who catches it; and that is a pet peeve of mine. I am giving What a Lady Craves five stars. I know that any reader who enjoys the era will love this book.
My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Dirty Bowl: Fast Baking, Faster Cleanup by Christina Dymock (Book Review)

Front CoverBaking doesn't have to take all day or make a mess in the kitchen. With One Dirty Bowl: Fast Desserts, Faster Cleanup, you'll have the recipes and easy-to-follow instructions to help you make show-stopping from-scratch desserts in no time. All you need is a little time and one bowl! And, since you'll only have one bowl to clean, you'll use these recipes over and over again.
Image of Christina Dymock
Christina Dymock was once at a dinner party where her husband was teasing her about the frosting-to-cupcake ratio on her dessert. The woman sitting across from them sniffed her delicate nose and said, "If my husband gave me a hard time about my frosting I'd quit baking. That'd show him." To which Christina's husband replied while pointing at his speechless wife, "Try to stop her!"
Christina divides her time between the kitchen and her computer and books and her family of six. (Naturally, the family gets the biggest share.) Because she reads everything, she also feels compelled to write in several genres.
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Here’s what others are saying about the book:
“As a busy mother of five and cookbook author, I dirty a load of dishes daily. With recipes from One Dirty Bowl, I now can whip up a delicious dessert in minutes while only dirtying one bowl. That is a win-win for everyone. Spending less time in the kitchen means more time with my family. Bravo for One Dirty Bowl                       -Shauna Evans, author of Sweet and Savory, Skinny-licious, and 30-Minute Meals for Families.
“From cookies to mini cakes and cheesecakes, One Dirty Bowl is full of sweet little bites that are perfect for the busy dessert-lover! It’s a delicious go-to!”                    -Courtney Whitmore, author of Frostings, Push-up Pops, and Candy Making for Kids.
My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed this cookbook, One dirty Bowl. As the title suggests, you only need one bowl (besides all of the measuring cups, spoons, etc.) At 136 pages, it is a nice size cookbook that would be the perfect starting point for a novice baker.
The cover of the book is nice and draws the reader to the book and the beautiful pictures inside of the book help you to visualize what your product should look like when all the baking is said and done. I would have appreciated more pictures as I am a visual person, but there was a nice selection. The book contains six chapters, covering small treats, brownies, bars, breads, cookies, candies, cakes, cobblers, and pies. The recipes have anywhere from two to sixteen ingredients.
A few of the recipes that I thought were excellent were the Cookie-Bottom Individual Cheesecakes (Pg. 8-9), Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Pg. 56-57), Raspberry Meringue Cookies (Pg. 60-61), and the Moist Chocolate Cake (Pg. 94-95).
I felt the recipes were well-written and quite easy to follow, even for the novice, although I consider myself an advanced baker. The pictures were beautiful and enticing. I am giving One Dirty Bowl four stars. It would be a lovely addition to anyone's collection or a gift for a new bride.
My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Painting the Moon by Traci Borum (Media Blitz)

When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine. But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin. And that means remaining in England.
When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle’s village, their friendship blossoms. But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost. Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.
Traci Borum Profile Pic 2Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She's also an avid reader of women's fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she's written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.
Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater-must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it's the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to "look up, slow down, enjoy your life."
You can follow Traci's book updates at her official website:
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The moment she saw the letter, she knew. The London postmark gave it away.
Noelle set down her keys and coffee, deciding to abandon the rest of her Saturday errands. She needed to take this letter to the ocean. She couldn’t read it here, standing over junk mail and bills.
She kicked off her sandals and walked down the steps of her beach house, grateful for San Diego’s mild weather even in mid-October. And grateful she wouldn’t have to walk far, with the ocean practically at her doorstep.
When she picked her usual spot at the water’s edge and sat down, the foamy water crept toward her toes like long, greedy fingers then slinked back again. Noelle always sought the ocean during troubling moments—craved the sea air on her face, the tinge of salt on her tongue, the comforting swoosh of powerful waves. But sometimes, even the sea couldn’t keep her from feeling hollow. Stranded and alone.
She’d already torn the envelope’s seal on her way down the steps. Opening the letter, she noticed the date, wondering why the news had taken two whole weeks to reach her.
            Dear Ms. Cooke,
            We regret to inform you of the unfortunate passing of Ms. Joy Valentine.
             Great Aunt Joy had died alone in that cottage.
Noelle stared deep into the ocean as tears stung her eyes. Everything had gone quiet: the crash of waves, even the faint tapping of a neighbor’s roof being re-shingled two doors down. All silent.
In the dull gray sky above the ocean, Noelle could see almost slideshow-like, vivid images of her great aunt. Her thin-lipped, lopsided smile; wiry, gray hair secured by a pencil into a makeshift bun; deep wrinkles around her mouth and eyes from decades of smoking. And next, flashes of summers spent in England with her and Gram—white-haired and soft-spoken, the opposite of her sister. Those women had taught Noelle to paint, to enjoy literature, to savor life. Her surrogate mothers, she always called them. Now both gone, the end of an era.
Noelle shivered and wished she’d brought a sweater. It always seemed colder at the water’s edge. Brushing away a tear, she returned to the letter, skimming for more detail. She stopped at this:
As Ms. Valentine’s only living relative, you have hereby been named executor and sole heir of the estate. Please contact our office for further details.
Sole heir. Noelle considered what that might entail. Her aunt’s modest cottage nestled in a village in the Cotswolds, Chilton Crosse. And the art gallery! Noelle hadn’t stepped inside in fourteen years, since she was seventeen. If she concentrated, she could still smell the pungent turpentine and old, musty wood that greeted her when she opened the door. The back room had served as a working gallery, where artists set up and painted while visitors wandered quietly, gazing at masterpieces-in-progress. Occasionally, Aunt Joy even participated. But that was before her sudden retreat into obscurity. Noelle recalled the scandal of that winter, a decade ago, with perfect clarity. Online articles screamed out the embarrassing headlines: Famous Cotswold Artist Has Monster Meltdown; Storms out of Art Show.
No one ever knew what happened, never discovered the trigger that had caused Aunt Joy’s breakdown and subsequent retreat into reclusiveness. Noelle had tried to call her, write her, but the dozens of letters went unanswered. She didn’t know whether her aunt had even received them, or whether Joy had tired of all the probing questions: “Are you okay? I’m worried… why won’t you return my calls?” Joy finally sent one brief letter to Noelle, assuring her she was fine, but that she wanted—needed—to be left alone. She asked that Noelle respect her wishes and her privacy. And so she had.
Restless, Noelle rose and brushed the sand off her jeans. She needed to go inside, make a cup of tea, and banish the chill.
She headed back to the house with the letter, thinking about Joy’s funeral, wondering if it had been a media circus, with paparazzi descending on the unimposing village to fill the inches in their columns the next day. Or perhaps the church was almost empty, her aunt a forgotten figure even in her own community. In either case, Noelle wished she’d been there. And more than that, she wished she’d made contact with her aunt before she died. Just one more time.
She maneuvered her way toward the kitchen through the maze of stacked-up boxes—surely, her roommate, Casey, would retrieve them next week after the honeymoon. But something caught Noelle’s eye. The painting above the mantel, one that had been there for years, one she’d strolled past a thousand times.
Now, though, she couldn’t look at anything else. She drew closer and clicked on a nearby light to study the painting’s detail. One of Aunt Joy’s creations, given to Noelle on her fourteenth birthday—a seaside painting of England’s Cornwall coast. She touched the edge of the frame and peered at the canvas. A white-blond little girl stood at the cliffs, staring into the ocean and holding a broad-brimmed hat, its ribbon floating in the wind. Noelle could almost hear the bluish-gray water crash against the rocks as she looked beyond the little girl, into the endless sea.
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