SPECIAL EVENT: Lassoed by Marriage Virtual Author Event

Let us meander from my regular blogging schedule, so I may invite you to a special event!Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection

On Wednesday February 24th, at 12 pm (CST) you are invited to watch a LIVE virtual author event where I shall share the true story behind-the-story of my novella, The Substitute Bride, in The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection from Barbour Books.

During the event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about me and ask questions.

You can attend live at Google Hangout On Air Broadcast or in person with a book club at The Greatest Gift & Scripture Supply Store located on 505 N. Grand Ave
Pueblo, CO 81003.

I hope to “see” you there!

Downton Abbey Hats on Parade

Downton Abbey Hats on Parade MemeOne thing which makes me a 21st century Victorian lady is my obsession with hats! I rarely leave the house without a hat upon my head. In fact, on the rare occasion when I depart my home hatless, I feel rather odd. Like something is missing. You see, hats give me a shot of confidence and make me feel pulled together. Polished. Ready to face the world. Hats are my secret style weapon. Indeed, a truly great hat can take an already pretty ensemble and transform it into one that is marvelous and memorable.

Nothing proves this more, in my mind, than the costumes of Downton Abbey! While the gowns as a whole are quite lovely and the jewels rather sublime, the hats are the cherry on top that grab my attention, episode after episode.

Therefore, in celebration of the final season, I present to thee a selection of my favorite Downton Abbey Hats on Parade!

Lady Cora Crawley

Lady Cora Crawley / Source: Pinterest

Classic in black and cream, this hat brings to mind the horse racing scene of My Fair Lady. “Every duke and earl and peer is here. Everyone who should be here is here. What a smashing, positively dashing spectacle. The ascot opening day.” Continue reading

My YouTube Debut!

Once again this month, we venture merrily away from my regular blogging schedule in order that I might share my YouTube debut! *fictitious confetti rains from the sky*

On January 18th, I participated in my first virtual author event on Google Hangouts. It was quite nerve-wracking, but also quite fun. I spoke to a group at The Vine Bookstore about my novella The Substitute Bride and answered questions about my writing process, creative inspiration, and the Victorian period.

Vine FlyerFor those who were unable to attend in person or watch the event live, thanks to the magic of technology, you can now view the entire chat on YouTube! Enjoy!

SPECIAL EVENT: Lassoed by Marriage Virtual Author Event

And now a brief jaunt from my regular blogging schedule to invite you to a special event!Vine Flyer

I am privileged to have the opportunity to take part in this virtual event!

Here is how it works.

For 9 weeks, on Monday evenings, the authors of The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection will be presenting chats for a book club at The Vine Bookstore in Dyer, IN. If you’re in the area, you can attend in person. But anyone else can watch LIVE via Google Hangouts On Air!

My chat kicks off the event this Monday, January 18th at 6:30 pm CST. 

I will be chatting about my Victorian novella The Substitute Bride and answering questions.

Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection

Please join the event, share this post, and invite friends on the event page!

Event Page: Lassoed by Marriage Virtual Author Event

I hope to see you there!

Ways to Simplify Your Tea Party

Painting-The Tea PartyAmidst the sparkle of fireworks we have welcomed 2016 into our midst in her glistening new gown of promise. While I am quite glad of 2016’s company, her arrival prompts the end of the holiday season. Which means the flurry of cookie-swaps and Christmas themed tea parties have also come to an end.

Part of me is partied out and content to resume the quiet rhythm of ordinary life. The other part, however, soon tires of ordinary. I like extraordinary. Festiveness. I like celebrating, decorating, and dress up. And I hate the feeling that one must wait for the holiday season in order to enjoy those things.

I don’t want to wait an entire year before I have another tea party. And why must I?

Why do we feel compelled to have a “reason” for festivity? As though we require a holiday’s permission before we can indulge in something special. Perhaps it’s because we have legitimate responsibilities, but I think it’s mostly because we make celebrations too complicated.

TableNot every tea party has to have four homemade courses, fifty guests, and a table decorated with all your best china in an attempt to replicate a scene from Downton Abbey. I love fancy, but simplicity is not a plain-Jane substitute. Rather simplicity frees us to enjoy the extraordinary delight of celebration throughout the year.

So let’s not pack merriment away with the tinsel! Instead let’s invite simplicity over for a cuppa.

Ways to Simplify Your Tea Party. 

Combine Paper Ware with Fine China

I love fine china, but unfortunately, it does not get along with dishwashers. Therefore, when I wish to simplify and decrease post-tea-party-clean-up, I combine china pieces with paper ware. Usually I’ll mix porcelain tea cups with paper plates. Not plain white ones that you’d see at a BBQ. You can now find lovely paper plates with designs that match your theme. I often use Punch Studio plates found at my local TJMaxx or Marshall’s.  Continue reading

Why I Relate to Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess

Highclere CastleSteep a pot of tea, bake some tasty scones, and drape a strand of pearls round your neck—or ring Carson to have it done for you—because Downton Abbey is returning to PBS!

Yes, indeed, the sixth and, alas, final season of Downton Abbey premieres on Sunday, January 3rd. Unleash the diamond encrusted confetti of pomp, circumstance, and British drama!

Despite my obvious enthusiasm, if I’m to be completely honest, I must admit that Downton and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. Half the characters I love, the rest I don’t simply dislike, but detest. Some episodes I enjoy for their dry humor or poignancy, while others left me vowing to quit the show forever.

But there is one thing which has, without fail, kept me tuning in to the Downton Abbey universe. Her name is Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by the marvelous Dame Maggie Smith.

Dowager Countess 8I adore the Dowager Countess! Her quick wit, her sharp humor, her impeccable style. When I’m an octogenarian, I want to possess elements of Lady Violet. And actually, there are some ways in which I relate to the Dowager Countess now.

*rings bell* Carson, please fetch us a list of reasons why on a silver platter.

Why I Relate to Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess

Dowager Title Meme

Continue reading

How Writing Thank You Cards Improves our Lives

Shakespeare Thankful MemeAs Thanksgiving draws near, I’ve been mulling over the fact that we don’t really give thanks anymore.

In this tech-driven age, we tweet our thanks with the appropriate hashtag. Post thankfulness countdowns on Facebook. Text a brief thanks, vowels and correct grammar optional, before moving on with our fast-paced, instant download, blink-and-you’ll-miss-the-latest-trend lives.

The observance of literally giving someone a card expressing thanks has all but been forgotten.

Some might argue that it doesn’t matter. That we’re still being polite, communicating the same sentiment—just in a less antiquated fashion.

While I’m not opposed to modern forms of communication, I firmly believe that Thank You cards are an irreplaceable form of politeness. In fact, I believe the practice of writing Thank You cards makes us better people and improves our lives.

How, you ask? Read on, my good fellow.

How Writing Thank You Cards Improves our Lives

It Undermines Self-Absorption

During the holidays, I’ve seen posts on Facebook expressing thanks for gifts received. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, these mass thank yous posted for all to see, keep most of the focus on us. Rather than shinning a spotlight of appreciation on the giver it bathes us in the harsh glare with a showy chorus of, “Look at me, and my haul of stuff!”

Thank You cards transform the spotlight into a lantern. Within the panes of an envelope, they contain a golden light meant for illuminating one. And by bestowing that lantern of thanks on the giver alone, it makes the light more precious and simultaneously undermines our insatiable desire for Likes. Continue reading

4 Cringe Worthy Victorian Fashion Trends

Oscar Wilde QuoteExcept for a brief period of conformity in my teens, I have never been a jeans and t-shirt girl.

My style has always veered toward the fancy, feminine, and frivolous. I own more dresses than pants, more gloves than sneakers. Family members chuckle at my interpretation of “casual wear” because it involves pearls or a cloche hat. Usually both.

This zeal for fanciness is one of the reasons I love Victorian fashion and endeavor to incorporate elements of 19th century style into my 21st century wardrobe.

However, while there’s much to admire about Victorian fashion, there were also trends which make me shudder. I’m all for dressing up. But I’m also all about comfort. To me, style should not involve pain.

Yet to the Victorians, fashion and pain often went hand and hand.

To illustrate, here are 4 Cringe Worthy Victorian Fashion Trends.

1. Corsets

Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna of Russia, 1887.

Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna of Russia, 1887.

“The fashionable size for a waist in the 1800s was alleged to be eighteen inches. A corset was the device used to attain this width or something close to it. It consisted of two halves, reinforced with whale bone, that got hooked together in the front and then laced up in back. Compressing all that flesh into a small area was not always an easy job. The corset was one reason women needed a lady’s maid—someone to stand behind them to pull the laces tight.”

~ Daniel Pool, from What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.

19th Century Corset Advertisement

Fashion-Corset Damage

During the Victorian Era, there was a trend of “tight lacing” corsets among a portion of the fashion conscious, upper-class. Figure “B” shows an example of the deformation which could occur with repeated “tight lacing”.

As one who has suffered a rib injury and the resulting chronic pain, the mere thought of lacing on a corset literally makes me cringe. And wince. And clutch my side, uttering “By the very beard of Jules Verne, why?” Why would anyone purposely endure such a device in the name of fashion? To me this makes no sense. I shall stick to highlighting my waist with a stylish belt, thank you.

Continue reading

7 Reasons to Revive the Dying Art of Letter Writing

Letter GardenEver since I was a little girl, I have been engaged in hand-written correspondence.

I grew up making special occasion cards for birthdays, Valentines, and Christmas. Then, a cross-country move and the resulting loneliness, brought about my introduction into the world of pen pals.

For over a decade now, I have written weekly letters to various friends and family members. It has become a tradition. A sacred ritual, which allows my mind to still and soul relax as I collect and arrange my thoughts on paper.

Letter writing has become part of my love language, my art form.

Alas, it is an art which is gradually perishing in our instant text-message, snap-chatting world.

I, however, have no intention of casting aside my fountain pen! Hand-written correspondence may be old fashioned, but it still has power to enrich our lives. How you ask?

Allow me to count the ways….

7 Reasons to Revive the Dying Art of Letter Writing

1. It’s a Special Expression of Love

Receiving a letter in the mail holds an extraordinary kind of wonderment, like finding a gem hidden amongst a pile of pebbles. It makes people feel special. Valued. By writing a letter you express love in a unique manner, which demonstrates that the recipient is held dear in your heart and thoughts. In today’s fast-paced world, taking the time to sit and put pen to paper shows a conscious effort on your part to make the addressee a priority. An intimate connection which texting cannot replicate. Continue reading

8 Fabulous Things About Books that E-readers Lack

Books with RoseLet me begin with a disclaimer—I am not anti-Kindle.

I admit freely to having read several e-books on my iPhone. Indeed, I understand the appeal of e-books. They can be purchased and downloaded instantly. They take up zero physical space and therefore save many a book-lovers’ home from becoming cluttered. And sometimes, they are even less expensive.

No, I’m not here to bash high-tech users of e-readers. Rather, I am, in a fashion, one of them. I consider myself a hybrid reader, dabbling in books and e-books alike.

However, I will never give up my bookshelves, bookends, or bookmarks. I will never completely forsake physical, real, honest-to-goodness, hold-in-your-hands books.

For books, with their pages and ink, will always be my first love. And nothing shall ever convince me that e-books are superior to their paper counterparts. E-books are all well and good and have their place. Yet it must be admitted, by even the most modern tech-savvy of persons, that there are some things they lack.

8 Fabulous Things About Books that E-readers Lack

1. Tactile QualityStack of Books

To read an e-book, one must hold a machine. Whether it’s a Nook or smart phone, the sense of touch is engaged only by a cold electronic device. You don’t truly hold the e-book, feel its weight. It’s a one dimensional object partitioned off by a screen. In this one dimensional reading experience, you lose the variety of tactile qualities books offer. Rich leather, soft cloth, or slick paperback binding. Braille-like embossed lettering. The thin, smooth pages of a new book. The thick, textured parchment of an antique. By engaging our sense of touch, books connect directly with the reader in a manner e-books simply cannot replicate.

2. Aroma

Unless you’re a true bibliophile, this item on my list will most assuredly leave you perplexed and thinking I’m insane. Yet, for those of us with ink printed on our hearts, the scent of a book is nothing short of magical. New books have an aroma which combines fresh cut paper and hot-off-the-press ink. While vintage and antique books have this scent which seems beyond description. Musty? Leathery? Fairy dusty? Whatever it may be, aroma takes ones reading experience beyond the second star to the right.  Continue reading