Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunshine and Springtime... and Snow?

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Bee-yoo-tee-full. You can feel Mother Nature trying to get her Spring on, even if the outside temps are still only in the 40s. We did a double lap in the fields this morning, and are headed out any moment to walk the beaches in the warm(ish) spring midday sun.

... and now the weatherman is smiling as he predicts a nor'easter headed up the coast?

Is this an April Fools Day joke???

The first home game for my son's soccer team is this weekend. The first track meet is scheduled for next week. Nor'easter? Really?

Ah, to live in New England in Spring... Mother Nature is such a capricious flirt...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Reading...


MAYBE THIS TIME is Jennifer Crusie at her best. This 2010 release blends Crusie's light, witty humor with the paranormal touches we've seen in her last few works to create a satisfying romantic comedy. Her characters are well-drawn and likable, and her situations as twisted and amusing as ever.

Andromeda "Andie" Miller left her husband North Archer ten years ago, and is finally ready to move on with her life. She's engaged to marry someone new, and goes to see North for some closure. He asks one final favor of her - and it's a biggie - and she agrees, thinking if she does this for him then it will be over and settled between them. Except, being a Crusie novel, it's a little more complicated than that. Everything is more complicated.

Since Andie left, North has become guardian to two orphaned children living in the southern part of the state who've already driven away three nannies. North asks Andie, a teacher by trade, to go down and assess the children's situation and learning abilities, and see if they're ready to transition to Columbus and public school. Andie accepts, and gets a lot more than she bargained for, including a houseful of ghosts and a second chance to make right her relationship with North.

At 342 pages, it all goes too quickly. The ghosts are well-characterized and believable, if you believe in this sort of thing, which not all the characters in the story do, until it's almost too late. If you like light romantic comedy with a paranormal twist, I would definitely recommend this novel.

Okay, so what are you reading?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Read, Write, Sleep


Simple Goals for my day, and for my whole weekend: Read, Write, Sleep.

Read: I stopped at the library yesterday (on Girl Scout related business) and picked up Jennifer Crusie's new novel, MAYBE THIS TIME. I started it last night while waiting for late night soccer practice to be over - I'm hooked. I love Jenny Crusie's style!

Write: I'm back on a roll with the WIP (another romance set on Cape Cod) - so glad the characters started talking to me again, and including me in the conversation!

Sleep: Somehow I'm woefully behind on sleep. Could be that we've become addicted to the Showtime series DEXTER and have been catching up with all the old seasons of shows at night, after the kids are in bed... it's like potato chips, you can't have just one... but I found my eyes starting to blur on one of the myriad drives I had to do with kids yesterday... and it scared me. Fifteen chocolate covered espresso beans later, and then a tall latte at 7pm, I wasn't tired driving home from soccer practice... so we stayed up to watch 2 more episodes of DEXTER. Dumb! But oh-so-much-fun to watch! The writers on that show do an amazing job of weaving their tales and surprising the viewers.

So that's my weekend in a nutshell. What do you have planned?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Puppy Loving the Spring Sunshine

Yesterday we had a gorgeous afternoon of sunshine. We took the dogs for a long walk on the beach, and Puppy couldn't have been happier, romping in the water. It's her second favorite thing to do, besides playing in snow. But, you know, it's almost the end of March so there isn't any more snow on Cape Cod...

Except the weatherman seems to thing we're expecting a few inches of the white stuff later today. I mean, what? Snow? *Really?*

Puppy will be thrilled. Me, not so much.

I'm headed out the door now, while there's still some sun in the morning sky, but thought I'd leave you with a few images of what Spring is supposed to look like along the shore...



What's your favorite part of Spring? (...and don't tell me it's the late season snow!)

Enjoy your day, whatever the weather!


P.S. Don't forget to stop by ROMANCING THE BOOK before Sunday 3/27 for your chance to win a copy of PERFECT STRANGERS.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Come Visit Me at "Romancing the Book" !


HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING !



To celebrate the end of the winter blahs, I'm blogging over at ROMANCING THE BOOK, talking about PERFECT STRANGERS and writing... pop over and visit me there! If you're not familiar with it, it's really a great site for reviews and author interviews... There will be a contest... and maybe an excerpt....

And whatever you do today, get out there and celebrate spring! Can summer be far behind?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Reading


I discovered Jamie Cat Callan with the introduction of her first book, FRENCH WOMEN DON'T SLEEP ALONE, in 2009. I was smitten with her friendly, breezy writing style, and asked Jamie - as a part-time Cape resident - to write an article for CapeWomenOnline to help women find some of that "Ooh La La" in their own lives.

Her article appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of CWO, which can be found by clicking here.

She has a new book just out, and now available to order at Amazon.com. She sent me a review copy, which I eagerly read and enjoyed even more than the first book. I posted the following review on Amazon.com, praising the author and book....


Jamie Cat Callan's second book, BONJOUR HAPPINESS, is a compilation of observations and life lessons on how we can all discover the secrets to being truly happy. Jamie shares her thoughts with the reader through vignettes of her recent travels through France and memories of her French grandmother, all told with warmth and humor that make you want to read more (and join her on her French adventures!)



I connected with the author right from the introduction, when Jamie describes herself as a woman who often feels she is "not smart enough, not rich enough, not organized enough, not accomplished enough, not slim enough and definitely not young enough. All this to say I'm a typical American gal!" I thought, me too, and decided she might have some secrets that I could really use.


She does. With simple easy-to-take-home ideas, Jamie shows us how rediscovering our own joie de vivre is well within everyone's reach, no matter your age or body type. Halfway through the book, she reminds us that, "Everything you do in life has the potential to add to your happiness, your joie de vivre." You always have a choice, and throughout the book Jamie helps us see these choices and examine which ones truly make us happier.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Puppy Says... Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Puppy also says, "Kiss Me!"
"Go on, you know you want to!"

Happy Holiday to all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cookies for Soldiers

Every year during cookie season, Girl Scout troops in Massachusetts can choose to participate in "Cookies for a Cause" programs. They can also choose who to donate their cookies to.

For the fifth year in a row, my daughter's troop decided to collect cookies to send to soldiers stationed overseas. This was the first year, though, that they were able to attend an event to meet soldiers, talk with them, tour a training base and see that their work - and their cookies - really makes a difference.

The troop gathered early Saturday morning to carpool to Camp Edwards, on Cape Cod's Massachusetts Military Reserve. The event was organized by Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and attended by hundreds of scouts of all ages from across the state.

The cookies were collected in a big truck by Cape Cod Cares For the Troops, to be packaged into care packages and shipped to Afghanistan and Iraq. 1,700 boxes of cookies were collected!

The girls met members of different branches of the military who are stationed at this base. The men and women in blue were all from the Coast Guard. The soldiers in camo fatigues were from the Army and Air Force.
Ruth Branscom, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Massachusetts, was on hand -she's the woman in denim, standing with the soldiers - to make a few remarks and officially thank both the girls for working hard to collect donations and support the military troops, and thank the soldiers for their service.

After the official ceremony and tour, our troop had an additional private tour of the helicopter facility, given by the high-ranking uncle of one of the scouts. They got to eat their lunch overlooking the airfield, try on equipment and check out the controls of an actual Black Hawk helicopter... a real treat for the girls, and a fun way to reward them for their hard work this cookie season.

My daughter may not be a "Top Gun" yet, but she and her friends are 'tops' nonetheless.

For more information on how you can support our troops, you can check out the website of Cape Cod Cares For the Troops or friend them on Facebook... or check for a local group in your area doing the same kind of thing. According to the soldiers we spoke with, the care packages from "home" mean a great deal when you're over in the Middle East.

Thin Mints never meant so much.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunny Thoughts for a Rainy Day

Despite the grey New England day ahead of me, I'm still daydreaming about the warm Cancun sunrises from a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago feels like forever ago already...

Not that I should really complain. We get our fair share of beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the ocean here on Cape Cod.

Most of the photos lately come with snow in them, though...
*sigh*

At least I'm on the East coast of U.S., far from any potential tsunamis today. My thoughts and prayers are with the people in the Pacific Rim as they deal with the aftershocks of last night's earthquake and the giant waves rolling through the Pacific today. Head to high ground and stay safe.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Images from Cancun


Our family vacation this winter was a trip to Mexico, to a resort in the Hotel Zone of Cancun. Right along the ocean. The perfect antidote to a winter that lasted too long. This was the view from our room that greeted me each time I stepped onto the balcony...

We spent several days by the pool, drinking frozen drinks and hanging out in our private little cabana... as well as collecting shells on the beach, jumping waves in the ocean, and making sand sculptures.
We also spent one day out on the open ocean fishing for Big Fish. My husband and kids managed to catch some great fish. I managed to keep all my sea-sickness over the side of the boat. (hey, it was really rough out there!) That night (when my stomach felt better), we found a great "locals only" restaurant with a sunset view of the lagoon to cook up the boys' Big Fish. Yum-O.




We took a few side trips... by jet ski to go snorkeling over a reef, by taxi to visit a tequila museum, by bus to spend the day at a National Park... lots of unique experiences. Lots of great memories.

I'd like to say I'm glad to be home, but really.... I could have used another week in paradise. Now I hear you asking, Is Cancun really "Paradise"????

Let's see... for a whole week I did no cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no grocery shopping, no shuttling the kids to activities or lessons... I didn't make any beds, break up any sibling fights or argue about whose turn it was to set the table or empty the dishwasher... AND I DIDN'T TOUCH A COMPUTER FOR 7 DAYS....

yeah, Paradise. I want to go again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Puppy Goes to "Puppy Camp"

This is the grin of a puppy who has NO IDEA what it means when the family packs all their suitcases for vacation. A dog who has no concept of the "pack" doing ANYTHING that doesn't include her.

Way back at Christmas, when my husband surprised us all with a family trip to Mexico, the first thing I did was book the Deluxe Suite at the Kennel for my two younger dogs. I figured February vacation would be a busy time at the Doggie Inn, and wanted to make sure that Puppy had the biggest room in the place.

She needed the space to freak out.

As I made piles and packed our bags, she followed me around and smiled a whole bunch, wondering what all the excitement was about. Then I packed up the doggie beds and blankets, and she figured she was going somewhere.

When we pulled into the parking lot at the Vet/Kennel, she and Big Dog were happy and curious to sniff around the gravel parking lot and lawn. And then I tried to get her to go inside...

It was as if she suddenly realized where she was. And that she wasn't coming to Mexico. Her eyes widened and glazed over as the drool turned to foam at the edges of her mouth. She pulled away, slipping out of her collar and bolting around the yard like a crazed beast.

After ten minutes of coaxing, she started to head for the street. Panicked, I opened the car door and she slammed back inside the minivan instead, pressing herself against the far side and quivering with undisguised fear. She still didn't understand the whole concept of "kennel" but she knew she didn't want to be in this place, not with her luggage. No way. No how.

I took the Big Dog in to the front desk, and explained that Puppy wouldn't come inside. The Vet Tech gave me one of those looks... you know, like what a wimp I was and if only I knew how to control my own dog... She took Big Dog around back, and then followed me out to the parking lot, a thin lead in hand.

"She's afraid," I explained. "She doesn't want to come in the front door. Can we go through the back?"

"It'll be fine," she insisted dismissively.

I opened the car's sliding door, and slipped the collar back over Puppy's head, the leash still attached. I spoke in soothing tones while the vet tech rolled her eyes and slipped the lead over Puppy's head. Puppy jumped out easily, smiling at us both.

We started for the door and she realized what we were doing. Digging her heels into the gravel, she put on the brakes and started pulling us both backward, back toward the car. We had two leashes on her, pulling from both the left and the right, the vet lead starting to choke her. Foaming drool fell from her mouth in large clumps.

She whipped her strong neck around and pulled us back to the car. She started digging her way UNDER the car, as if she could hide all 127 pounds of her bulk beneath the minivan.

(Have you looked at a minivan lately? She couldn't get her head under that space, let alone the rest of her!)

We tried again. And failed again. Tried some more. Failed some more, the minutes ticking by. Realization slowly dawned on the vet tech's face. "She really doesn't want to go in that door," she told me. As if this were news.

I looked at her, just a wee bit exasperated at this point. "Can you open the back gate?"

She did. We went through the gate and in through the unfamiliar back door at a slight jog, thinking the momentum might keep her going all the way.

Puppy balked only slightly as we entered the kennel area. As I suspected, it was pretty full. Lots of dogs barking, pacing, questioning the new arrivals. We kept up the jog all the way to the end of the row - the tech running ahead to open the gate of the Deluxe Suite... extra large cage and private run would be another way to phrase it. In through the door to where Big Dog was waiting, and straight out into the open air run.

Her new "vacation spot" for the next eight days.

When we returned from Mexico and I went to pick her up, the reports were good. She'd enjoyed her playtime romps and extra yard time (that I'd requested and paid for) and was a fairly reasonable guest.

She was thrilled to see me and couldn't wait to hop into the car. She tore through the house to make sure all of her things were still just as she remembered them, hopping on and off all the beds and racing through the backyard to check fro marauding squirrels. She wasn't even afraid to get back into the minivan to go pick up the kids at the bus stop.

But I may have to change vets. I'm pretty sure she'll never go through either door to the vet's office ever again. Front or Back.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Review of Perfect Strangers from LASR!



I'm just getting home from a week-long Mexican vacation with the family (and I have plenty of wonderful pictures to post in the near future...) and found this fabulous review awaiting my return! I even had an email saying I'd been in the running for Book of the Week over at LASR, which is a thrill even though I didn't know about it or have a chance to tell anyone to go vote!

The reviewer gave me a "5 Book" rating, which is the highest they go (except for the Book of the Week honor) They explain a "5 Book" novel as : "5 Books — Great! You would definitely buy this book. You would definitely recommend it to your friends. You really loved the characters and the plot and would consider looking for this authors back list or making her an autobuy. The writing and editing were superb."


... and she also said some wonderful things about my story. The review is posted below, or you can check it out at LASR by clicking here.

Now I need to go update my website... and do some more laundry. That may be the biggest downside of vacation time - the re-entry into normal life includes so-o-o-o much laundry.

But it's worth it.


LASR REVIEW OF PERFECT STRANGERS :

Jane Peterson doesn't seem to have good luck on Mondays. And on this particular Monday, it appeared as if that run of bad luck would continue. Keefe Walker had the same frame of mind about Mondays. Who knew that the events of this particular day would lead to an eventual meeting for the two strangers?

I connected with Jane immediately. In the beginning, Jane was an awkward, cautious person. She didn't seem to have a whole lot of confidence. Her fresh start in Cape Cod changed that. As I read on, I watched Jane grow as a character because of the situations Jane is put in, from the persistent man who won't leave her alone, to the media and police questioning her move when someone is murdered.

Keefe is also another cautious character. I sensed that he had issues with reporters, and the fact that Jane is one made him very wary. A few things drove me crazy about Keefe, but overall I liked him. At one point I thought he was acting like a jealous, insecure teenager. But his caring for Jane and learning to trust her helped him become a better man.

Ms. O'Sullivan creates a wonderful feel for the small town life. Despite the trouble that arises, I found myself longing for the kind of small town life that Keefe lived in, and wanted Jane to become a part of. The supporting characters were wonderful and heartwarming. Some had their quirks and mysteriousness, but most were open and friendly.

This book is a wonderful mix of contemporary, mystery and suspense. I found myself turning the pages eagerly, looking at every character and wondering how they fit into the mysterious puzzle. The plot had plenty of twists and turns to throw the reader off, and wrapped up very nicely.

If you enjoy a contemporary suspense in a small town setting, filled with characters that are bound to steal your heart and make you smile, then don't be a stranger. Pick up this great read!