Friday, January 14, 2022

Book Review - Much Ado about a Latte by Kathleen Fuller

My Review

Anita works in a little diner in the small town of Maple Falls, along with her childhood crush, Tanner Castillo.  When Tanner secretly buys the diner and Anita - also secretly - buys the building next door for a coffeehouse, their friendship and potential romance changes.

I wanted to read Much Ado About a Latte because it looked like such a cozy, relaxing winter read.  I also love small town settings.

This was indeed a very enjoyable, cozy read.  The author, Kathleen Fuller, did a wonderful job at capturing life in a small town.  I especially loved the atmosphere at the Sunshine Diner.

Anita is a very likable protagonist.  She struggled with learning disabilities growing up, and has been hesitant to strike out on her own with business as a result.  When she finally gets up the courage to make a big change, it also changes the dynamic with her longtime crush, Tanner.

Tanner is charming - a good guy who is likable, kind, and frankly dreamy!  Their match seems made to be - except for the rival businesses.

I enjoyed reading Much Ado About a Latte and recommend it for other readers, especially for anyone who enjoys small town settings and cozy romance.

Book Synopsis

A coffee war is brewing in Maple Falls, where Anita and Tanner are serving up plenty of steam to keep the town buzzing.

Anita Bedford needs to face reality. It’s time to decaffeinate the dream that she and Tanner will ever be more than friends. Growing up in small-town Maple Falls, she’s had a crush on Tanner for years. But he’ll only ever see her as good, old, dependable Anita. Now she’s finally ready to make her own goals a reality. In fact, that deserted building next door to Sunshine Diner looks like a promising location to open her own cafĂ©.

Tanner Castillo may know how to operate a diner, but he doesn’t know beans about love. After pouring his life savings into buying the Sunshine Diner, he needs to keep his mind on making a success of it and supporting his widowed mother, not on kissing Anita Bedford. First order of business: improve his customers’ coffee experience. Next, he should probably find out who bought the building next door.

It’s a bitter cup to swallow when ambition turns longtime friends and coworkers Anita and Tanner into rivals. Now that they own competing businesses, how could they ever compete for each other’s hearts? Or will the two of them come to see what’s obvious to the whole, quirky town of Maple Falls: potential for a full-roast romance, with an extra splash of dream?

Welcome to Maple Falls, where everyone knows your name and has thoughts on your love life.

Author Bio

With over a million copies sold, Kathleen Fuller is the USA TODAY bestselling author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, and the Amish Letters series as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at; Instagram: @kf_booksandhooks; Facebook: @WriterKathleenFuller; Twitter: @TheKatJam.

Book Review - How to Stitch an American Dream: A Story of Family, Faith and the Power of Giving by Jenny Doan

My Review

How to Stitch An American Dream is Jenny Doan's biography. Jenny went from starting a small quilting shop to owning a huge quilting fabric company.  This is the story of her business, her life, and her faith.

I wanted to read this book because I enjoy sewing and needlework. I have never tried quilting but it is something that I have always been curious about and interested in.

This book surprised me pleasantly because there is so much small business inspiration here as well. I have a small online business (vintage children's books and ephemera) and found this book positively inspiring!  I especially love that Jenny founded her business in her 50's.

As a person of faith, I enjoyed reading about the ways that her faith influenced her business decisions and provided daily inspiration with the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

The details of Jenny's life were also interesting, like the anecdote she tells about learning to sew an apron with her 4-H teacher ... and developing a lifelong love of sewing.

I enjoyed this read and recommend How to Stitch an American Dream for anyone interested in quilting, inspirational memoirs, or women in small business.

Book Synopsis

Faith, family, hard work, and second chances are at the core of every great American story, and Jenny Doan’s story is just that. 

In her new memoir, How to Stitch an American Dream, readers will discover the behind-the-scenes success story of the Missouri Star Quilt Company and Jenny’s remarkable journey to overcome hardship, claim the abundance of family, and ignite the power of giving—all while revitalizing a small town along the way.

Over the last decade, the Doan family business, the Missouri Star Quilt Company in tiny Hamilton, Missouri, has grown from Jenny’s corner shop–with one quilting machine and two bolts of fabric for sale in the back–to become the largest supplier of pre-cut quilting fabric in the headquarters of Jenny’s world-famous YouTube tutorial videos.

Jenny is now giving her fans, the business world, and moms of all ages (and grandmas too!) what they’ve been asking for: the full story of her journey, from her humble beginnings as a homeschooling mom, to founding MSQC in her fifties, through the remarkable success and inspiration she’s so well-known for today. In this book, you’ll learn:

  • How she and her beloved husband, Ron, raised seven children on a shoestring budget— and had fun doing it;
  • How, after a string of bad luck, the family made a prayer-based decision to leave California behind and start over again in rural Missouri, even though they had no place to live, no jobs lined up, and no idea how they were going to make it;
  • How Jenny, Ron and their children worked side-by-side to patch together a family home out of a crumbling shell of a farmhouse;
  • And how their faith, hard work, and generosity not only carried them through the hard times, but led directly to the success of the Missouri Star Quilt Company.

Author Bio

Jenny Doan is a wife, mom of seven, and the founder of the Missouri Star Quilt Company, which in ten years has transformed from a way for Jenny to keep busy in her empty nest to a $100 million company with 450 employees.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Remembering Abby (2009 - 2021)

Dear Friends,

I will begin exactly as Abby always did, with that greeting. She considered everyone her friend, so it was a fitting way for her to start.

I am sad to share the news that my very dear Abby passed away on December 31. She developed signs of bloat in the overnight hours. We rushed her to the emergency vet, and they were doing tests and a procedure to relieve bloating before starting surgery. During this process, her heart, her big sweet heart, gave out. The emergency vet and our longtime vet said her heart was weakened by her 18 month battle with Cushing's.

To say that I was shocked and that I am devastated and heartbroken is an understatement. Abby has been my constant, my companion, and my sweetest friend since 2010.  The house is very empty without her happy noises and barks and the sound of her toenails on the wood floors.

Abby was a Dachshund - Jack Russell mix, born sometime in 2009, by our best estimate. She came to live with me in 2010. My sweet girl Lucy had passed away after years of health struggles. A puppy mill dachshund, she dealt with back problems, IMHA, Cushing's and ITP over her lifetime. Her beloved brother, Barney Fife and I missed her so much.  I knew Barney needed a friend.

My friend Nancy posted a lovely obituary for Lucy at a website hosted by All Texas Dachshund Rescue, and I visited the site. By chance I saw a little face that I connected with. This was my first glimpse of Abby:

It was a long two months working out logistics of a long-distance rescue and transport across country for Abby. A wonderful man who did rescue transports to help dachshunds carried Abby, with other dachshunds, on an RV rescue transport.  When she got out of the RV on August 25, 2010, she snuggled immediately into my arms and I knew that I would always love her.

Abby and Barney had an instant connection and were the very best of friends and siblings.  I love this photo that shows the sheer joy of their first day together, walking outside.

There was a big dog bed in my study, and it was a place they loved to snuggle while they slept or watched me work.

Abby loved walks and loved meeting friends. She loved people, including children, dogs, cats, and even a bunny rabbit that she met on one occasion (a neighbor child's pet).

She liked to help! She followed me wherever I went. Here she is helping me change closets - by nestling under a folded top.

Her first Christmas, my friend gave me slippers that looked just like Abby - and she of course immediately appropriated them!

Christmases with Abby were sweet. She loved toys (mostly for snuggling, more than playing) and treats and - more than anything - company and attention.

She helped me watch TV and began blogging. For a while she helped recap Downton Abbey episodes.

In 2014, when my sweet boy Barney Fife passed at the age of 17, Abby was my greatest comfort. In this photo she is watching me work, snuggling on her dog bed with Barney's fuzzy dog toy just behind her.

Abby was patient about dressing up for birthdays or special occasions -- as long as the clothes came off pretty quickly!

This was the most fitting Halloween costume ever.

Abby with one of her favorite toys, a little orange witch dachshund.

Abby snuggling up and ready for a belly rub - always ready for love.

Abby was the very best girl. She was sweet, patient, loving, gentle.  She loved me from the moment we met and I felt exactly the same way. I will miss her always.


Trish, in honor of Abby, and with XOXO as she would wish

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dear Abby - Christmas Greetings (and a Holiday Break)

Dear Friends,

My Momma and I are going to take a blogging break through the middle of January, so I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I would also like to share a few holiday memories with you.

This picture is from my first Christmas with my Momma (and beloved late brother, Barney Fife). Momma got these slippers that look JUST LIKE ME and I decided they should be mine.  This photo appears on the bottom of all my blog posts, so you have seen it before.

I am not a fan of sweaters, for photos or otherwise. Enough said!

Here I am in a Santa hat.  My beloved Grammy is holding it on my head.

Momma went all out one year for Christmas pictures. Yes, I am in a hoodie!  On top of that, there were many, many pictures taken that day of me dressed up in my Santa suit.

This is how Christmas photos should be - just give a girl a red chair and a toy.  Ahh!

Here I am, a few years ago, proudly surveying my Christmas toys!  I have never been a huge fan of playing with toys, but I sure do like to snuggle with them.

Wishing you a happy holiday season!  I will look forward to chatting again in the New Year.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Killer Words (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns

My Review

Samantha Washington owns a mystery bookshop in a small town in Michigan. When the town's police detective is implicated in a murder, she is determined to clear his name - with the help of her grandmother, Nana Jo, who lives in a retirement community nearby.

This is my first read in the Mystery Bookshop series. It appealed to me because of the mystery bookshop setting - and the cute poodles on the book's cover!

This was a fun read! I can't believe I haven't read this series before - and now I really want to catch up. I enjoyed the mystery bookshop, and the little tidbits about mystery series through the book.

I also enjoyed Samantha's mystery writing - a historical mystery involving Kick Kennedy, which was interspersed through the book. You get a mystery within a mystery in Killer Words!

The poodles, Snickers and Oreo, were lovable. (I always like cozy mysteries with cute pets.)

Samantha is a smart detective, thanks to all her work with mystery books - and as a new mystery novelist. She thinks like a detective. I enjoyed watching her solve this puzzle - with the help of the delightful Nana Jo.

I also liked the romantic storyline with Samantha and her beau, Frank, who owns a local restaurant. (There are some fun foodie descriptions in this book as well.)

Killer Words was a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries. I know I will be looking for future reads from V.M. Burns as well!

Book Synopsis

Bookstore owner and mystery writer Samantha Washington comes to the aid of the cop who once arrested her own grandmother . . .  

Sam and Nana Jo are back in sleepy North Harbor, Michigan, where Sam is eagerly awaiting the publication of her first book. In search of more immediate excitement, Nana Jo hits the casino with her fellow Shady Acres Retirement Village gal pals—but they get more than they bargained for when they witness Detective Bradley Pitt decking mayoral candidate John Cloverton.  

As Sam well knows, mystery novels are full of brilliant detectives, genius sleuths, and hero cops. Detective Bradley Pitt—aka “Stinky Pitt”—is another story. In the past, the dull-witted detective has mistakenly accused members of Sam’s family for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, it’s his turn: when Cloverton turns up dead, he’s arrested. With his predilection for polyester, Pitt has been wanted by the fashion police for years, but Nana Jo knows her former elementary school math student would never commit murder—it doesn’t add up. Somebody’s framed the flatfoot to take a fall, and Sam and Nana Jo must step in to restore the reputation and good name of Detective Pitt.

Author Bio

V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, is on the national board for Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at

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