Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Blogging Break

Hi all!

I'm taking a summer blogging break, and will return after Labor Day!   I'm looking forward to chatting with you more then.  Abby is also looking forward to more Dear Abby posts in autumn.

In the meantime, you can keep in touch online at:

Birdhouse Books on social media:


My shops:


Have a great rest of the summer! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dear Abby - The Secret Life of Pets

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a great week!  It has been a busy one here.  Momma and I are taking a big blogging break for the next six weeks (!!) so we have been busy catching up here.

I did take a little time off to see The Secret Life of Pets this week.  This is an animated movie about what pets do when their people are out for the day.  First, let's discuss the irony:  this movie about what pets do when they are left alone will entice more people to leave their pets alone ... in order to see the movie! 

The star of the show is Max, a sweet and brave Jack Russell Terrier.  (A reminder that I am a Doxie/Jack mix, so I was very thrilled to see a JRT in this movie.)   Max has everything down pat, like making little happy circles and snuggling with his Momma.  He has a very good life ... until his mother rescues a great big dog named Duke from the pound.  Max isn't sure at all about Duke, and Duke wants to stake his claim in his new home.

Max has many wonderful friends, like Chloe the cat, Gigi the fluffy dog, and Buddy THE DACHSHUND.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There is also a dachshund in this movie, and he steals the show a bit, if you ask me.

Max and Duke end up on an unexpected adventure outside of their apartment building.  It leads them to danger and excitement all over New York City.  There is a good pet rescue message in Duke's story, and the ending of the movie made Momma shed a happy tear.

Here is a movie trailer for The Secret Life of Pets.  I give this movie a very enthusiastic four paws up! 

I will be taking a blog break for a bit but will be back after Labor Day! 

In the meantime, I would love to hear from YOU in the comments below.  Have you seen The Secret Life of Pets?   Or do you just want to say hi?    I would love to hear from you.


Abby xoxoxo

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review - The Word Of Promise New Testament (Audiobook)

Hear the Bible Come Alive in Dramatic Audio Theater™!

This multi-voiced, scripted dramatization of the New King James Version (NKJV) features a star-studded cast of actors, an original music score, and incredible feature film quality sound effects. This world-class production creates a dramatic audio theater experience that makes you feel like you’re really there with Jesus and His disciples. Listen in your car, on your MP3 player, or with your family or small group to gain a new perspective of the Bible.

The Word of Promise® New Testament Audio Bible is a 20-CD set and includes a bonus “Behind-the-Scenes” DVD.
Cast Includes:
  • Jim Caviezel (The Passion of The Christ, Déjà vu) - Jesus 
  • Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland's Opus, The Goodbye Girl) - Quotes from Moses 
  • Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, What Women Want) - Mary Magdalene 
  • Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach (Prison Break, Hemingway) - Paul 
  • Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman, Roots) - John 
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim, Father of the Bride) - Mary, Mother of Jesus 
  • And many others 
My Review
This is my first experience listening to a Bible audiobook. I am so impressed with the quality and production values of the Word of Promise New Testament!

The voice actors include well known names like Jim Caviezel, Michael York, Richard Dreyfuss, Marissa Tomei, Stacy Keach, Louis Gossett Jr., John Heard, and more. Their readings are beautifully done, with much emotion.

The production also features sound effects (i.e. the sounds of a marketplace, a storm, a door closing) and music. The music by Stefano Mainetti is a subtle and powerful addition to the audiobook.

The varied voices, sound effects, and music give this production a more theatrical feel than a standard audiobook. I found myself absorbed in listening as I worked, and often realized that many chapters had gone by.

The Bible translation is NKJV (New King James Version). I grew up with the KJV translation. I am not familiar with all the nuances of difference between the NKJV and the KJV, but this Bible translation really read beautifully, with familiar language.

I enjoy reading the Bible, but there is something really unique about experiencing the Bible in audio format. I have already recommended this audiobook highly to my mother. I intend to keep this Word of Promise New Testament by my bedside to listen to when I need comfort or encouragement. I truly cannot recommend it highly enough.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Did You Know Tuesday - Slip 'n Slide

Do you remember playing with Slip 'n Slide in the backyard during your childhood?  I loved all water toys (Slip 'n' Slide, Water Wiggle, water pistols, and of course little swimming pools!), so of course I loved this.  (Plus we had a little hill in the backyard!)

The Slip 'n' Slide is a long sheet of plastic, with a tubular fold on one side.  A garden hose is connected to the fold, so water sprays onto the plastic.   Outside on a hot summer day (especially on a sloping surface), this provided lots of childhood fun in retro days.

The Slip 'n Slide was invented in 1961 by Robert Carrier, and marketed by Wham-O toys.  Robert Carrier was an upholsterer for a boat company, and was inspired to make the toy after seeing his son sliding in a stream of water outside.  300,000 Slip 'n Slides sold in the first six months of sales. 

Here is a 1972 commercial by Wham-O for Water Wiggle and Slip 'N Slide.  (I loved both these summer toys!)

Do you remember Slip 'n' Slide?   What other summer water toys did you enjoy?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Music Monday - "Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful (1966)

If I ever get around to making my summer favorites playlist, "Summer in the City" will be in the mix.

"Summer in the City" is a 1960's oldies pop song by the Lovin' Spoonful.  It was written by John Sebastian, Steve Boone, and Mark Sebastian.  It really captures summer in the city -- starting with a VW Bug horn and ending with a jackhammer!   The lyrics include:

"Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
But at night it's a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it'll be alright
And babe, don't you know it's a pity
the days can't be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city."

I found a fun video of the song that sets the music to an old Harold Lloyd silent movie called Speedy.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

What is your favorite summer song?   I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dear Abby - Summer Dachshund Videos

Dear friends,

I'm on the run this week, but wanted to stop by to share two fun little dachshund videos with you!

This is a video of lots of dachshunds having fun in summer.   My favorite things in this video are popsicles (I've never had one, but they look yummy!) and playing on the beach.  My least favorite is swimming, which I am certain I would not enjoy since I don't like taking a B-A-T-H.  (Yes, I know how to spell.  Momma spells this word when she doesn't want me to run under the bed.) 

Disclaimer: There are a few dogs swimming in this video.  Some dachshunds can be taught to swim but need to be very carefully supervised in water, as they are a breed that do not swim naturally, as some other dog breeds do.

This video features Crusoe (he is so handsome!) pretending to be a shark.  It is pretty silly!   I like it.

If you have a dog (or doggie friends), what do they enjoy most about summer?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

I hope you are having a great week, and wish you a happy weekend!


Abby xoxoxo

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review - A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

Book Synopsis
The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers brings the roaring twenties brilliantly to life in an enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York society.

As the hedonism of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, an aviator and a hero of the Great War.

Though the battle-scarred Octavian is devoted to his dazzling socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her, Theresa resists. The old world is crumbling, but divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing remains a high-stakes affair. And there is no need: she shares a gentle understanding with Sylvo, the well-bred philanderer to whom she’s already married.

That is, until Theresa’s impecunious bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with Miss Sophie Fortescue, the naïve young daughter of a wealthy inventor. Theresa enlists Octavian to check into the background of the reclusive Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the charming ingénue, even as he uncovers a devastating family secret.

As a fateful triangle forms, loyalties divide and old crimes are dragged into daylight, drawing Octavian into transgression . . . and Theresa into the jaws of a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit, and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’s fiction, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.
Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

My Review
I know it is wrong to judge a book by a cover, and I try really hard not to ... but I have to admit that I knew I would love this book just from the cover art.  It features a 1920's flapper against the background of glittering New York.   Thankfully, my instincts were right;  I absolutely loved A Certain Age.

The novel centers around Theresa, a 40ish woman, her young lover Octavian, and the very young woman, Sophie, that Theresa's brother becomes engaged to.  There is a romantic triangle and a mystery in this story that is told from different viewpoints (Theresa and Sophie).

The chapters begin with little quotes about men and women from Helen Rowland.  I looked her up and found she wrote a New York World column called Reflections of a Bachelor Girl.

I loved this book, absolutely loved it, and found myself reading slowly because I didn't want it to end  The 1920's setting was fascinating.  I loved the period details and the glimpses of Jazz Age life in New York. 

The characters were equally compelling.  I found myself pulling for all three of the leads - Theresa, Octavian ("The Boy"), and Sophie.  I loved the way the perspective changed back and forth with alternating chapters.   

I found the decades old mystery interesting, and was curious to see how it would play out.

I've heard of Beatriz Williams' books for ages and now I want to read the others, too.  A Certain Age is easily one of my favorites of the year so far, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for fans of historical fiction, the Roaring '20's, and great storytelling.  Five stars!

Author Bio
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.   

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Book Review, Guest Post and Giveaway - Killer Finds by Vikki Vass

Antique hunter Anne Hillstrom’s whirlwind shopping tour to Paris comes to a dead stop, as dead as the man sitting next to her on the plane. And to make matters worse, her identity has been stolen, leaving her to face her worst nightmare. She must sell all her precious antiques with the help of her business partner and co-blogger, CC Muller. Together, they open a pop-up antique store in the quaint suburb of Glen Ellyn Illinois. Their blog fans flock to the store looking to find that perfect treasure and so does a killer. When the Sweet Shop lady next door is found caramelized, the success of the pop-up sale turns bittersweet. Anne and CC dust off the clues, unraveling a centuries-old mystery that leads them to one conclusion. They must find the killer before the killer finds them.

My Review
A cozy mystery about antiques!   What a fun combination.   I can't believe I am just discovering this series.

Killer Finds tells the story of friends Anne and CC, who get involved in a mystery on their flight home from antique shopping in Paris.  As the result of an identity theft, Anne needs to make money quickly, so she sells her beloved antique finds at a pop-up antique store.  

I sell vintage children's books and ephemera, and love browsing antique stores in my free time, so the antique details in this book were especially fascinating.  The women discuss details like dating Chippendale chairs, examining porcelain, valuing silver, and more.  I especially loved the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle kettle that is mentioned in the book.

The mystery is interesting, with several unexpected deaths, and the friends working together (along with CC's younger cousin, Ingrid) to solve the case.  I had figured out part of the mystery but not the entire story by the end.

This is a fast paced read, with short chapters and sharp dialogue that moves the plot along.  It would be a great book for a lazy weekend or a vacation read.   I recommend it for other fans of cozy mysteries, and anyone who loves antiques.

Guest Post by Vikki Vass - Inspiration from the Real World    

I am often asked where I get my inspiration from. For me, inspiration is easy. It is all around me. Murder by the Spoonful, the first book in the Antique Hunters mystery series, began as a tribute to my two girlfriends. I spent weekends traveling to estate sales, antique stores and flea markets all in search of the perfect find that I felt I needed to chronicle my adventures.

While fiction is not quite necessarily true, we have not encountered a real murder, many of the events that happen within the pages are true from Anne’s shopping obsession to CC’s knowledge of history. In Killer Finds, the third book in the series, the Spoon Sisters as they are known have developed a life that has morphed out of the reality. They have grown beyond the nonfiction world and now exist in a fictional world where the possibilities are limited by my imagination.

My second series, Alex Kustodia mysteries, grew out of my long love for rocks, but not just any rocks, gemstones. Since I was little, I have always loved the feel of rocks and I love to stare at polished, cut gemstones. There is nothing more magical than a brilliantly colored gemstone hanging from a single pendant or in a ring or perhaps adorning a bracelet.

I have not toured the world looking for stones the way that Alex has though someday I would like to but I have gone emerald mining in Hiddenite, N.C. A hot, dirty, but rewarding experience. I also have mined for rubies. I have found both and had them cut and polished and set into jewelry.

Many of my ideas come while I am walking or taking a shower or driving. Forcing myself to sit at the computer and think doesn’t help. My ideas flow when my mind is focused on other things. This can be challenging when I actually make time to write and the ideas are not flowing. However, with the addition of a 10-week-old Australian shepherd puppy into my house, there is plenty of need for long walks. If not to tire him, to tire me out.

And, since I’ve started writing, the ideas keep flowing. The only thing holding me back is time. I recently finished the first draft of the fourth book in the Antique Hunter mystery series. I have ideas for the fifth book as well. I also started the second book in the Alex Kustodia mystery series featuring more gems, adventure and of course, mystery. My third series, Neighborhood Watch, based on the near-real adventures of my 75-year-old neighbor.

All this means is that instead of spending my weekends traveling to antique shops, flea markets and estate sales, I’ve been spending them writing, revising and developing the stories. Fortunately there is still eBay and Proxibid for those must-have antique items. Though it does put a slight damper on finding the unexpected treasure in the hunt.

On my recent vacation, I did manage to take some time to scour some antique stores, including one in Franklin, Tenn., Asheville, N.C. and several in Georgetown, Ky. I only bought a few small things including a 1920s art deco necklace with an amethyst and a memory box containing civil war bullets found on the battleground of Fort Donelson near the Cumberland River.

I feel so blessed to be able to write about what I love and share it with the readers. I hope you enjoy Anne and CC, the Spoon Sisters, intrepid Antique Hunters, as much as I do.

Author Bio
With a passion for shopping and antiques, Vicki Vass turned in her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the adventures of Anne and CC, two antique hunters who use their skills to solve a murder case.

Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief.

She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle. 

Author Links
Website –
Blog –
Facebook –

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N

(1) Copy Killer Finds by Vicki Vass Print or E-Copy - Winner’s Choice. Print Copy U.S. ONLY 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book from Great Escapes Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Eric Carle Exhibit at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta

(The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle)

Last week I played hookey from work one day and went to the High Museum for the day.  There were several interesting traveling exhibits, but the one that interested me most was I See A Story:  The Art of Eric Carle.

Eric Carle is a children's author and illustrator.  He was born in 1929 in Syracuse, New York, lived in Germany with his family as a young child, and then moved back to America in 1952.  He published his first children's book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in 1967.

The High Museum of Art is one of my favorite buildings in Atlanta.

It's very bright and open, and you go up and down winding ramps between floors.

The Eric Carle exhibit covers almost an entire floor in the new wing.  The first thing you see as you enter is an illustration from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The walls have a sort of floorboard design of nature collages.  

This is a large collage by Eric Carle.

Some of the artist's original sketches were on display -- they were fascinating to see!

A photo of Eric Carle painting over collage materials with a broom was displayed, and then you could see his original paint splattered coat and the broom used for this collage process.

Most of all, I loved seeing some of the beloved, familiar art in person.  

The Very Lonely Firefly is my favorite Eric Carle book.  When I taught preschool I had this picture book in my classroom.  On the last page of the book a little battery operated firefly twinkled.  No matter how many times I read it aloud, the children would always say "ahhh!" when they saw the twinkling firefly.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

The Grouchy Ladybug:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar:

Seeing the art in person, all the beautiful, colorful nature imagery was striking.  I love this quote by Eric Carle:  "When I was a small boy, my father would take me on walks across meadows and through woods ... in my books I honor my father by writing about small living things."

I love these moon images:

There is a fascinating story behind this art (from 10 Little Rubber Ducks).  In 1992 25,000 Friendly Floatees toys, including yellow rubber ducks, were set adrift when their packing crates went overboard in the Pacific Ocean.  Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer started tracking the ducks, and Eric Carle became interested in the story.  That inspired 10 Little Rubber Ducks.

I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle will be on exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta through January 8, 2017.  You can read more about the exhibit here:  Carle exhibit.   I highly recommend it for fans of children's literature and illustration.

Did you grow up with Eric Carle books?  Do you have a favorite?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Music Monday - "Let There Be Peace on Earth" by Nat King Cole (1963)

Last week was a sad one in America, with tragic news of violence over and over again.  In the midst of this, I kept thinking of this song.  I remember singing it in elementary school music class when I was a little girl, and it has always brought me peace and hope.  It imparts the idea that no matter what is going on in the world, we can all be a voice for peace.

This song was written in 1955 by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller for a children's choir.  It has become a classic and is now often performed at Christmas time, as well as in churches throughout the year.  The inspiring lyrics include these lines:

"Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me."

I looked for a version of this song and found this unusual video on Youtube.  It features Nat King Cole (one of my all time favorite singers) performing on Danny Kaye's Christmas Special in 1963 along with Danny Kaye and a young Mary Tyler Moore (circa The Dick Van Dyke Show years).  It's a short, simple, lovely version, and I hope it speaks to you, too.

I would love to hear from you in the comments.  Are there any special songs that bring comfort to you?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Dear Abby - "Dixie the Tiny Dog" by Peter Himmelman

(1964 vintage Gaines Burger ad)

Dear Friends,

How are you doing?  How was your 4th of July weekend?  I enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and lots of time with my Momma.  I did not, as you may guess, enjoy the fireworks.  Saturday night they irritated me.  Sunday night they made me shiver.  By Monday night, the 4th of July, I was ready to hide under the covers.  Enough said!  I hope they are done for quite a while.

I have a song to share with you this week.  I love it and hope you will too.  It is about a dachshund named Dixie and it is called "Dixie the Tiny Dog."  It was written and sung by Peter Himmelman. 

My Momma first heard this song some years ago online and she was so happy to find it again to share with me.   I think it captures the life of a little dachshund pretty perfectly.  That's why I have to share it with you!

"I'm a tiny dog named Dixie
I have small feet which pitter patter on the Linoleum floor.
You can hear my toenails in the middle of the night.

My tag says I belong to the Johnsons but they don't own me;
they just feed me. They just bought me one day.
No one owns me.  I am Dixie the Tiny dog.

And in the middle of the day I sit in the sun 
and I hear young children call me a wiener dog-
perhaps that's what I am.  
The Germanic term is dachshund and I like that.

I'm thin and I'm proud, no one can make fun of me.
I can slip through the bars of a prison if I were ever incarcerated 

but I don't know what I would do wrong-
my body yields no evil inclination.
I'm a pure wiener dog.

My name is Dixie and I go dancing cross the floor 
in the evening of the Johnsons when everyone is sleeping.
Sometimes I look for a morsel of food but they are so clean, 
they are almost anal retentive in their cleanliness habit 
and there is nothing for me. 
But I don't despair because I know tomorrow 
my Gaines Burger will be there 
and they will unwrap the plastic from them 
and feed me this succulent dish and I will eat.

And oh I've watched the German shepherds with their long necks, 
their graceful necks dipping into the toilet to drink 
whenever they want to have a drink of cool water in that well 
but I must plead, I must beg, I must whine 
for Mr. Johnson to put out my bowl 
or one of the Johnson boys to refill it after I drink it 
because I am Dixie the dog and I like water.

And in the middle of night you can see me dancing 
a small Fred Astaire tap dance with my little toenails 
they go click click click against the linoleum 
and I run down the hall and I slide 
and the back of me goes in front of me-slowly.

I'm long and I'm thin
I'm Dixie the tiny dog and I like it."

Here for your enjoyment - this is a sweet video:

Do you have a favorite song about dogs?  I am thinking of making a list of them here and would love to look for songs you enjoy.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


Abby xoxoxo