Friday, July 31, 2015

Dear Abby: When the Pack Grows Smaller - Helping Grieving Dogs

Dear Friends,

This week we have a question from my friend Angela.  I will post her question and my answer, and hope you will join in with any suggestions or tips in the comments below.   

Thanks, and love to all!

Angela's family lost their precious little dog Teddy recently.   He is the cute little black dog pictured in the photo above (back left).  His brothers are Gizmo, the little brown dachshund (foreground), and Sarge, the big sweet dog (back right).

You will find another photo of the brothers together, below:  (left to right)  Sarge, Gizmo, and Teddy.

Angela writes that Gizmo and Sarge are really missing Teddy.  "Teddy just provided the energy and enthusiasm. My dad and I were talking about how much the house feels empty without Teddy. He really was a spark plug. Sarge and Gizmo just lay around and act depressed. They get happy for brief moments but other than that, they just lounge around looking morose. That had been my question for Abby. Since she lost a 'brofur' just like Gizmo and Sarge, how did she cope with the loss?"

Dear Gizmo and Sarge,

I am so sorry about Teddy.  I have heard many stories about him, and know he was a special, fun, lively boy ... and an important part of your family.

I lost my beloved brother Barney Fife last September, and I still think about him every day.  Momma says we were bonded.  I believe this means we loved each other and were inseparable.  Yes, that sounds right: bonded.

At first it was very hard.  Barney went to the vet and he didn't come home.  Momma was sad and she cried, and I missed my brother and didn't understand what was happening.  After a day or two, I figured it out.  I felt sad too.  I was very quiet and stuck to Momma like glue.

Here are things that helped.  Momma told our neighborhood friends about Barney.   They gave me extra attention and their dogs socialized with me even more than usual when we met them on walks.   Visiting with other dogs was really nice.

And about walks -- we started going on extra walks.  Lots of time outside!   I kept very busy.  Being busy helped.

Friends and family came over, as they usually do, but they brought treats and toys and gave me lots of extra attention.  I liked that.

I found a special plush toy that belonged to Barney and I made it my lovie.  I still carry it around and snuggle with it, and sometimes like to sleep with it.  It reminds me of my brother.

Momma gave me extra cuddles and attention, and I liked that too.  I did not think that Momma could love me more than she already did, but it seems like that happened.

We turned on lights and played music and tried to fill the house with happy noise.

We still miss Barney and think of him every day, but more and more we remember the good times spent with him.

I am thinking of you both, and your Mom and family too, and sending you many good and comforting thoughts.  You have friends and family who loved Teddy and who love you both and want you to be happy again.  I hope some of these suggestions help you.

With love and hugs,

Book Review and Giveaway: A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears

Can Silas and Kate overcome their rocky start and experience healing—and possibly love? Discover the answer in Melissa Jagears' new book, A Bride at LastNeither Kate nor Silas is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light as they attempt to prove nine-year-old Anthony's paternity to the court. Can their wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever? 


Abandoned by his mail-order bride, Silas Jonesey has fought an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true and his estranged wife has contacted him with her whereabouts. 

Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but upon realizing she’d been deceived about her intended groom, she’s now settled into life as a schoolteacher. When the mother of a student passes away, Kate assumes she’ll take on care of nine-year-old Anthony–until two men suddenly show up in town, claiming to be the boy’s father.

Silas can see Anthony loves Kate, so he enlists her help in reaching out to the boy and attempting to prove his paternity to the court. When a common interest in Anthony leads to an interest in each other and Silas and Kate begin to think they can overcome their rocky start, neither is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony’s wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever?

My Review:

I love historical novels, and for some reason have always enjoyed stories about mail order brides.  This was a charming read.  Like most Bethany House historical fiction that I have read, it was gentle and inspiring, and would make a great Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.

The time period (1880's) and setting (Salt Flatts, Kansas and Missouri) were both interesting, and historical details were well written.

Kate is a strong and caring protagonist.  I empathized with her care for her young student, Anthony, and her wish to help him.  I particularly liked Silas as a romantic match for Kate.  Silas and Kate both came from troubled backgrounds, but they found strength in their relationship together.

This is the third book in the Unexpected Brides series.  I have not read the other two books, but enjoyed this novel as a standalone read.

I would recommend this book for fans of historical fiction, historical romance, and mail-order bride novels. It is a heartwarming novel with likable, admirable characters.

Celebrate the release of A Bride at Last by entering to win a $100 Memory-Making giveaway and RSVPing to Melissa's August 4th author chat party!

bride at last-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 gift card to Netflix (for a family movie night), Shutterfly (to create a family memory book), or TablePlayGames (for a family game night)
  • One copy of A Bride at Last
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/4. The winner will be announced at Melissa's 8/4 A Bride at Last Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Melissa and fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th! 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday - The Hustle

If you were a 1970's teen, at some point you did the hustle. This disco dance was popularized by the movie Saturday Night Fever, with John Travolta.  I loved this movie, although it probably was too mature for me at the time.  The music and dancing is what made the biggest impression on me.
I am pretty sure I still could do the basic hustle moves today.  As a teen I even had a book about the dance moves.

I practiced this many times in the '70's. Here, for your listening pleasure, is "The Hustle" by Van McCoy (1975). Check out some of the '70's fashions in this video - parachute pants!  

I'd love to hear your disco dance memories in the comments, below!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Little Girl Gives Cocker Spaniel Dog a Bath (Vintage Postcard)

Found at Birdhouse Books:  Cocker Spaniel Postcards

Author Interview and Giveaway: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Potting Shed Mystery
(Potting Shed Mystery series Book 3)

Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi (August 4, 2015)
Random House LLC

Perfect for fans of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, Marty Wingate’s enchanting Potting Shed Mystery series heads to Scotland as Pru Parke plans her wedding . . . all while a vengeful murderer is poised to strike again.

After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru’s colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.

Pru can’t help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police’s many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru’s overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer—unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.

Birdhouse Books Interviews Marty Wingate 

Birdhouse: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Marty: It might’ve been somewhere around third grade – when our teacher read Charlotte’s Web to us. I was lost in the storytelling!

Birdhouse: What was your favorite book as a child?

Marty: See above! But also, I remember reading a series of chapter books for third and fourth graders that had something to do with a cat and a space ship. I was quite taken at the time, but can’t remember anything else now. If this sounds familiar to any of your readers, please let me know.

Birdhouse: What is your writing day like?  Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

Marty: I get at least two hours of new writing done every day. Well, that’s the goal. Every writer has her own style, and I prefer to write something new, and then go back to edit – comb through, clean it up, add detail. I find a twenty-minute walk invaluable to adding layers to my writing.

Birdhouse: What was the most surprising thing you learned while creating this book?

Marty: The story has to do with the journal Archibald Menzies kept when he sailed with Captain George Vancouver on the Discovery in the late 18th century. I was amazed to find out that not only was the last year of Menzies’ journal missing, but also the last year of everyone’s on that ship.  Conspiracy, you say?

Birdhouse: Who are your favorite authors?

Marty: I’m all over the map on this one. I love Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke) and think J.K. Rowling’s new PI series is great. I’m a big fan of Sophie Kinsella and the Shopaholic series. But for all time, the author who most influenced me will be Ray Bradbury.

Birdhouse: What is your next writing project?

Marty: I’m just finishing up edits for the second book in my other mystery series (Birds of a Feather) – Empty Next. And then, it’s back to Pru: I’m working on Potting Shed #5 right now.

About the Author
Marty Wingate is the author of two previous Potting Shed mysteries, The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House. Her new Birds of a Feather Mystery series debuted with The Rhyme of the Magpie. Wingate is a regular contributor toCountry Gardens and other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed and Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.

Author Links
Purchase Links
Amazon           Barnes and Noble      Books a Million      Google Play       iBooks

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Did You Know Tuesday - National Milk Chocolate Day

Did you know that July 28 is National Milk Chocolate Day?  Chocolate bars were first invented in 1847 (but these were not milk chocolate bars).  In 1879 Rodolphe Lindt (yes, as in Lindt chocolate!) invented a conching machine which made smooth, creamy chocolate like we have today.  The same year, 1879, Daniel Peter made the first milk chocolate bar.

Milk chocolate tastes more like sugar and milk than cacao, and so it was originally marketed for children.  Most milk chocolate bars today have less than 33% cacao.  I will admit that I prefer the sweeter milk chocolate to dark chocolate, which has a stronger taste.

My favorite candy bar - and also my favorite milk chocolate - is the Hershey bar.  This candy bar was invented in 1900.  The vintage ad above shows all the 1950's varieties of Hershey bars.

How about you - do you like milk chocolate?  And what is your favorite milk chocolate bar?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Music Monday - "Draggin' the Line" - Tommy James (1971)

I'll be short and sweet today because it's a busy Monday here.   Today's Music Monday song is "Draggin' the Line" by Tommy James.   I've always liked this song, which came out when I was in elementary school.  This sounds like summer at the neighborhood swimming pool to me!  Do you remember this one?

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - The Cottage Next Door by Georgia Bockoven

The Cottage Next Door
The Beach House # 3.5
By: Georgia Bockoven
Releasing July 14, 2015
William Morrow

What should have been the best day in Diana Wagnor’s twenty-nine years easily turns into the worst when her job is downsized, she discovers her fiancĂ© in bed with her best friend, and watches her cherished grandmother’s house burn to the ground.

Clearly it’s time to start over and get out of Topeka, Kansas, where she’s spent her whole life. But what should she do? And how does she ever trust herself in another relationship when her one indisputable skill seems to be picking the wrong man?

Diana finds her answers at the cottage next door to the beach house with the help of a tall, sculptured, soft-spoken Californian, and a heart-shaped piece of sea glass.

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo  

Author Info
Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author who began writing fiction after a successful career as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide. The mother of two, she resides in northern California with her husband, John.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Digital Download Copies of THE COTTAGE NEXT DOOR)

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books: Vintage Cards

Hi vintage friends!

I'm spending time these days listing at Etsy and Amazon ... but I am trying to get some new items listed weekly at eBay.   This week I listed some cute vintage greeting cards (Valentines and blank cards).  You will find them all at eBay:

Birdhouse Books on eBay

This boy has an anthropomorphic egg head.  "I've flipped over you!  You're the eggiest! Teacher."
A little boy is dressed as a knight in armor and a little girl is dressed as a princess on this Valentine.  "Teacher - get the point?  I'm yours Valentine."
A cute little fox offers a bouquet of flowers on this Valentine.  "My Valentine wish has lots of LOVE in it.  Sure hope you're happy every single minute teacher."
This especially cute mechanical Valentine features a little cowboy (he moves at the waist) and a terrier dog.  "I want to lasso your heart, my Valentine."
This mechanical Valentine features a boy fishing, a little girl with a picnic, and a small dog.  "Valentine - you've got me hooked!"
This is a cute 1960's vintage postcard.  It features a little girl at an antique desk.  "From Jane."
This blank card features a photo of a Weimaraner dog on a clothesline.  It features a Harry Giglio photo.
 This unused blank card features a wolf and her baby.  It is a Joy Shannon illustration.
This is my favorite of the cards.  It features a basset hound playing with a hula hoop.  It features a photo by David Belda.
This is another great mechanical Valentine!  It features a boy playing the guitar (he moves at the waist) and a terrier dog.  "Please note what I say - I want you for my Valentine today and every day." 

Hope you have a good weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Abby: Dachshund Postcards

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week in your corner of the world.  It is still hot here, and Momma and I are both feeling a little low energy because of the heat.  I am very grateful for fans and air conditioning!  What did doggies do before air conditioning was invented?!

This week I thought I would share a few dachshund postcards with you.   As you probably know, I love to help Momma with her online shops.   (She could not do this without me!  I help with sourcing, listing, and sometimes packing, too.)  A bit ago we found a box of unused postcards featuring dachshunds.  They are larger postscards (Continental size, 4" x 6" - did you know postcards come in two sizes, Standard and Continental?).  We are guessing they are 1970's to 1980's vintage.   They are European cards, mostly from Germany, but some are from Denmark, Switzerland, France, and more.  Every time I glimpse them in Momma's shop they make me happy.  You can peek at them here:  Dachshund postcards at Birdhouse Books.

I thought I would share a few postcards with you, so you can smile too.  

I like green and purple together, so think this is an extra cute card -- that doxie is seeing something interesting, I believe!
 These pups look very comfy on their couch with that pillow.
That wicker and gingham background makes me hopeful that the doxie pictured here is about to have a picnic lunch.
 Aww, sweet puppy!
This is a regal dachshund.  I'm sure this is a handsome male.  (Be still my heart!)
 Two little puppies are sitting in a bowl ... and they sure are cute!
I am running out of questions to answer here, and would appreciate any questions sent in for future posts.  They can be serious or fun ... any questions you would like to see answered here?   I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Love and xxx's,

Book Review: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder. 

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.

My Review

What a lovely read!  There is so much to enjoy about Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor.   I loved the historical fiction aspects of this novel, with a storyline set in the 1950's and another set in the present.   Melanie Dobson moves back and forth between these time periods seamlessly in the book.

Maggie (1950's) and Heather (present-day) are both sympathetic protagonists, and I enjoyed reading their stories.  I loved the secrets, mysteries, and family connections found in this novel.

I am a bit of an Anglophile and absolutely loved the setting in the English countryside.  It was described so vividly!  I could really picture the cottage and the manor.

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is an engrossing read, and I would recommend it enthustiastically, especially to anyone who loves historical fiction in a cozy setting.

About the Author

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and "Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana" won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie lives with her husband Jon and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.

I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Recording Favorite Songs from the Radio

Do you remember listening to your favorite radio station with cassette recorder ready ... just to record your favorite songs when you came on?   I vividly remember doing this in the 1970's.   Pictured:  a 1972 cassette recorder ad.  I'd love to hear your memories in the comments, below.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Mechanical Vintage Valentine, Boy with Guitar and Terrier Dog

Mechanical Valentines at Birdhouse Books

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell

Perfect Touch: A Novel
By: Elizabeth Lowell
Releasing July 28, 2015
William Morrow


Sara Medina is a designer and art dealer from San Francisco. She matches her clients desires with fine and folk art from the world over--living up to her thriving business named Perfect Touch. She still remembers her rural childhood of hard work and poverty on the family dairy farm, but she keeps it firmly in the past as she searches out new artwork and artists that are on the breaking edge of acclaim. After she experienced the cultural riches San Francisco had to offer, she decided her life would be that of an urban career woman rather than a working mom commuting from the suburbs. With the intensive hours and travel required to grow her business to the next level, she has no time or energy left for romantic or family entanglements.

Jay Vermillion recently inherited Vermillion Sky, a ranch that nestles up to Wyoming’s Grand Teton Mountains--and the estates of the rich and restless. As a returned veteran of numerous deployments over the course of two wars, he finds himself wrestling with the demands of a ranch that has been run down during his father’s long illness. Between the urgent need to modernize and revitalize the Vermillion Sky, as well as an unexpected and vicious fight with his former stepmother over the custody of now-valuable paintings that were part of his father’s estate, Jay has no time for finding a wife and creating a sixth generation of Vermillions to ensure the family legacy continues.

When Jay hires Sara to appraise and market his father’s cache of paintings by Harris “Custer” Armstrong, neither one expects the explosive results of their eventual meeting in Jackson, Wyoming. In addition to a mutually inconvenient attraction, they a discover double murder at the edge of the ranch lands and a potential betrayal even closer to home. All trails lead to Custer’s artworks as valuable enough to kill for, especially an unknown painted rumored to be called The Muse.

As Sara and Jay unravel the motive for the killings, they both discover that love, like murder, doesn’t wait for a convenient time. On the heels of that soul-shattering realization, Sara is targeted for murder. Suddenly, the war-weary soldier finds something he is once again willing to die for…
Goodreads Link:

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo  

A glance at her watch told her she was out of time. Soon, a different stranger would be deciding the fate of her career in a Jackson courthouse. With a silent curse, she hurried to the front desk.

“I’m in room 101,” Sara told the woman who answered. “My room has been robbed. Computer and coat missing. Tell the sheriff or whoever cares that I’ll be at the courthouse.”

Leaving the woman stuttering questions behind her, Sara strode out the front entrance into the chill streets of Jackson in the spring. Within ten steps she was regretting the loss of her coat.

And she had forgotten her coffee.

Quickly she walked down what had to be the coldest sidewalk in town. The wind rolled straight off the snow of the Tetons through the streets. The chill was made worse by the fact that the sun was shining bright and hard enough to look like summer.

An archway leading into a small park caught her eye. At first she thought the arch was made of the bones of cattle that she’d seen as a child. But these were different. They were more elegant and pointed, tapering out. They didn’t feel like the finality of death, but more a symbol of life cycling through change. 

Antlers, she realized. Grown and shed each year in a cycle that isn’t birth or death, but simply another way to be. Like Custer’s paintings, a beautiful and eerie reminder that wilderness—wildness—isn’t all that far away. 

Shivering, she hurried on. 

I should be back in San Francisco, holding hot coffee from Murray Cafe as I head up to the offices of Perfect Touch.

But then all I’d know about my mystery man is his voice.

So what? The practical part of her mind pointed out. The last thing I need is a man. 

Sara liked living her life on her own terms, doing what she wanted whenever she wanted. As the only girl out of seven children, she’d had more than enough diapers, house work, and babysitting to last her a lifetime.

Wind with icy teeth bit at her black slacks and tugged at her red pullover sweater. The only thing that kept the wind from billowing up her sweater was the sleek black leather belt snugged at her waist. But it wasn’t enough to keep her warm. 

Damn that thief. 

Then she reminded herself that it could be worse in so many ways. She could be back home on the dairy farm—a plain, rebellious teen hauling a feed cart through damp, drafty barns, then making the return trip leading a stubborn Holstein. 

At least there aren’t any holes in my boots forcing me to get up close and personal with fresh cow flops. 

The phone in her pants pocket rang. 

If it’s the sheriff, he can wait.

Author Info
Elizabeth Lowell’s exciting novels of romantic suspense include New York Times Bestsellers: Dangerous Refuge, Beautiful Sacrifice, Death Echo, The Wrong Hostage, Amber Beach, Jade Island, Pearl Cove, and Midnight in Ruby Bayou. She has also written NYT best-selling historical series set in the American West and Medieval Britain. She has more than 80 titles published to date, with over 24 million copies of her books in print. She lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her husband, with whom she writes novels under a pseudonym. Her favorite activity is exploring the Western United States to find the landscapes that speak to her soul and inspire her writing.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway (a print copy of NIGHT DIVER by Elizabeth Lowell)

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