Friday, February 24, 2017

Dear Abby - Remembering Special Pets: Maggie

Dear Friends, 

I hope you are having a good week!  It is starting to feel like Spring already here, and I am loving that.  I hope the cold weather has already gone for the year.

Today one of Momma's blogging friends, Kaitlin, has stopped by for a visit.  Kaitlin blogs at, a lifestyle and newlywed blog.

Kaitlin has shared a very cute childhood photo of herself with Duffy, another beloved family dog.

Abby:  Thanks for stopping by!  What pet would you like to remember at my blog today? 

Kaitlin:  Maggie - an adorable, black lab with the biggest heart! She was in my family for about 10 years!  

Abby:  What are some happy memories of your pet?  

Kaitlin:  When we first brought Maggie home, she was a puppy and I was in 4th grade. Her crate was in the laundry room, which was all the way across the house from my bedroom. However, her first few nights with us, I would wake up to her crying in the middle of the night. It absolutely broke my heart to hear her crying! One night, I took my pillow and blanket into the laundry room with her and fell asleep on the floor next to her crate. When my parents woke up, they found Maggie and me fast asleep!!  

Abby:  Do you have any funny anecdotes?  

Kaitlin:  Maggie was a HUGE goofball!! Every time we let her into the backyard, she would get so excited and run in circles! Sometimes, she would even try to climb the big pine tree (literally)!!  

Abby:  I enjoyed visiting with you today.  Is there anything else about Molly you would like to share? 

Kaitlin:  I give Maggie all of the credit for my love of dogs! She taught me that dogs fill a place in your heart that humans can't...and that there's nothing wrong with that! I know that Maggie is up in doggy heaven climbing all of the pine trees! Haha!

Abby:  Kaitlin, thank you so much for visiting!  I loved hearing about Maggie.  I can just picture her trying to climb a big pine tree!

Friends, if you would like to leave a comment for Kaitlin you can do so in the messages below.   If you are interested in sharing pet memories here, I would love to hear from you, too.  (Please be sure to leave your email.)

Thanks for your visit, and have a wonderful weekend!



Book Review: The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

Book Synopsis
An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom… 

San Francisco: 1876 

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision…one that will echo through the generations. 

San Francisco: Present Day 

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
The Dressmaker's Dowry is the story of three women.  In the present day, Sarah Havensworth is writing a historical novel set in old San Francisco.  Her research leads her to a fascinating and troubling mystery from 1876, of two immigrant dressmakers, Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien, who disappeared.  She becomes obsessed with their stories and wants to find answers.  

The book deftly moves back and forth from the present day to 1876.  Meredith Jaeger beautiful evokes another time and place with the 1870's San Francisco setting.  Readers come to know Hannelore (Hanna) as she moves between a seamstress shop to a society mansion searching for her lost friend Margaret.

The writing is beautiful with passages like:
"Turning around, I looked back in the direction I'd come from . The street hummed with forgotten history.  But was this truly a good idea?  The walls of that old saloon held secrets.  I'd held on to my own long enough to know what it felt like and that dredging up the past could often reveal something ugly" (p. 46).

I truly loved everything about The Dressmaker's Dowry.  The dual storylines were fascinating.  The historical details intrigued me.  I particularly loved the stories of Sarah, in the present day, and Hanna, in the 1870's.  Their romantic stories, with Hunter (Sarah) and Lucas (Hanna) were just as interesting as the mysteries that propel this novel.

I cannot recommend The Dressmaker's Dowry highly enough for other fans of historical fiction.  It was a lovely read that I am sure I will want to re-read and experience again in the future.  Five stars!

Author Bio
Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.
Find out more about Meredith at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dear Abby - Remembering Special Pets: Dachshunds Auggie and Billy

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week!  Today my dear friend Barbara has stopped by to visit.  You may remember her from visits she's made in the past - telling the rescue story of Zeus the cat, and introducing her pet family: Oz the dachshund, Zeus the cat, and guinea pigs Radar and Magenta.  Today Barbara is back to remember two very special dachshunds. 

Abby:  Thanks for stopping by!  What pets would you like to remember at my blog today?  

Barbara:  I would like to remember: 

Auggie - Red, smooth standard dachshund. November 8, 1994 - January 28, 2005

Billy - Red, smooth standard dachshund. August 9, 2002 - January 8, 2014. 

Abby:  What are some happy memories of your pet? 

Senior Auggie, just before his 10th birthday.
Barbara: Auggie was our first dog and our love (some call it obsession) of dachshunds started with him. He loved to walk when HE wanted to do so. But when he didn't, my husband said it was like taking the family brick for a walk. Auggie had the best singing voice. We would do our aroooos and he would join in, only ten times louder. He would throw his head back and sing to the skies. Auggie was very much the family protector and never fell asleep at night until he went room to room and made sure the family was safe and sound. Auggie was a special dog and he touched my heart in such an incredible way.
Billy at the beach.

Billy came to us at age 2 1/2. He had been a former show dog/breeding dog that was looking for his forever family. Billy was the best traveller. We took him with us all over southern Ontario while our son participated in martial arts training and tournaments. Billy loved the beach, but hated the water. He loved to walk in the sand, but always stayed at least a foot or more from the water's edge. He was incredibly loyal and loving and I miss him every day.   

Abby:  Do you have any funny anecdotes?

Barbara:  Auggie did not like it when I talked on the telephone. He often took the opportunity to get into mischief in order to get the attention away from my phone call. One day I was talking on the kitchen phone and he came into the room with this long piece of foam in his mouth. My first thought was that we didn't own anything like that. I ended my call, took the foam from him and went to investigate. Sure enough, there was a long tear in the base of the sofa and Auggie had managed to remove the foam and bring the evidence right to me.
Puppy Auggie standing in front of the very sofa from which he removed the foam in the story.
Auggie suffered from a serious bout of IVDD when he was about six years old. He gained back about 85 % of his mobility, but was no longer able to jump or support his weight on just his back legs. One day, in a hurry and running late as usual, I set some grocery bags on the chair in the living room. I went back out to the car to get the remainder of the shopping. When I came back in the door, I heard some commotion from the living room. I rounded the corner to find Auggie shaking a bag of kielbasa sausage from the deli and eating it as it flew into the air. One would never guess that this dog had an disability. And, he clearly had managed to find a way to hoist his body onto the chair to get the wonderfully smelling sandwich meat!
Billy in the bathtub.
Billy was our most athletic dachshund. When we first brought him home, he actually jumped a child gate that we had blocking off the bedroom area. We realized then that Billy was likely to get into things that we were not anticipating. His first Christmas with us we were hosting the family for dinner. We had a small house and the extra table brought it into the living room. I had set it with all of the non perishable food items and condiments. I went to get something else from the kitchen and I heard some noise coming from the dining area. At the same time our guests we staring to arrive. I went to check on the noise and found Billy happily investigating the pickle platter on the dining room table. I am not sure how he jumped up on the table, but I managed to remove the disgruntled dog just before the family entered the room.
Billy enjoying a walk.
Billy had an obsession with pinecones. Our neighbourhood had many trees that gave him plenty to choose from. There was one in particular that dropped long, skinny pinecones onto the sidewalk. Every time we walked by that house, Billy spent a few minutes choosing one. He carried it home with him and held it in his mouth until we traded it for a biscuit. Whenever I see a pinecone on the ground I am reminded of my beloved Billy.
Abby:  I enjoyed visiting with you today.  Is there anything else about your pet you would like to share?

Barbara:  Auggie was our very first dog, and he taught me so much about love and the human-animal bond. When we lost him, I feared I could never love another dog. But, then Billy bounded into our lives and brought with him this amazing energy and spirit. He was looking for and needed a family. He taught me that my heart is large and can hold a place for many pets Our bond was different than the one I had with Auggie, but both are special and the memories of each are to be treasured.
Auggie as part of a mural at Banks Animal Hospital in Toronto. During the time I worked there an artist was commissioned to paint the mural. She asked all staff to bring photos of pets, past & present. Auggie had already left us, so I chose this photo as a remembrance of him.

Abby: Barbara, thank you so much for visiting!  I really loved hearing more about Auggie and Billy.  I can just imagine Auggie and his sofa adventure ... and Billy and the pickle platter!  I also loved hearing about Billy and his pinecones.  Those are some great stories.  Their photos are beautiful too.   Friends, if you would like to leave a comment or question for Barbara, you can do so in the comments section, below.

Also, if you would like to feature memories of your special pets here, please let me know.  (Be sure to leave your email so I can reach you!) 

Thanks for visiting - and hoping you have a good upcoming week. 

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - The Worthington Wife

Book Synopsis
Lady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England’s bright young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancĂ©’s legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.

The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia’s plans as well as Cal’s secrets—proves that passion is ambition’s greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Review
The Worthington Wife is a historical novel set in the 1920's.  It tells the story of Julia Hazelton.  Her fiance died tragically during World War I, and she wants to honor his legacy by saving and modernizing his family's estate.  When Julia meets Cal Carstairs, an American artist who has inherited the estate, sparks fly.  She is taken aback to learn he wants to destroy the estate because of some old family resentment.  The novel explores their relationship, the estate, and the families (both upstairs and downstairs) that live there.  

I was a big Downton Abbey fan and even blogged about the show regularly here.  This novel is a fun treat for Downton Abbey fans.  The book captures the 1920's well.

I really liked Julia as a protagonist.  She is intelligent and kind, and wants to make a difference in people's lives.  She wants to be more than just a lady of the manor.  I also liked Cal, who enters a new world and finds many surprises. I loved the way their relationship develops in the book.

Although this is primarily a historical romance, there is also a mystery involving some missing girls from the village, and it was compelling.  It made me read a little quicker to find out what happened next.

The Worthington Wife was a fun, light historical romance with an element of mystery.  I enjoyed it!

Author Bio
New York Times and USA TODAY  bestselling author Sharon Page is author of more than 20 books. Sharon has won two RT Bookreviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Award of Romance, and the Golden Quill.

The mother of two children and wife of a terrifically supportive husband, Sharon has a degree in Industrial Design and worked in structural engineering before fulfilling her dream of becoming an author.

$25 Gift Card (ends 2/24).
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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dear Abby - Vintage Dachshund Valentines

Dear Friends,

Happy Friday!  I hear that it is going to be Valentine's Day, the day of love, in a few days.  (This is, of course, one of my favorite holidays since I am all about love!)

I thought you might enjoy a few vintage Dachshund Valentines today.  These are all old fashioned cards that children exchanged on Valentine's Day.

A little girl paints a special card while her Dachshund helps by holding a brush:

"Dog-gone it!  I sure would like to be-long to you!  Be My Valentine!"

A Dachshund shares a Valentine with a great big dog friend:  "Over you I'm simply dippy - ask me and I'll answer YIPPY!"

This Dachshund wears a red sweater and hat - and carries a heart.  "I long to see you.  Dog-gone it!"

This little Dachshund went to school with a little girl.  "For My Teacher - I Like You."

This Dachshund is surrounded by hearts.  "I LONG for you to be mine!"

"Doggone right - you're my Valentine!"   Now this is a very TALL Dachshund.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these vintage Valentines!  I also hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!  

I'll be back next week with some special pet memories!


Abby xoxoxo

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - A Palette for Murder by Sybil Johnson

Book Synopsis
A killer heat wave settles over Seagull Lane…

Summer’s sizzling in Vista Beach, the home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The abnormally high temperatures are hard on everyone in the quiet Los Angeles county beach community, especially the city’s homeless population. Residents are doing everything they can to stay cool, including leaving windows open to catch the faintest breeze. Not the best idea when a string of burglaries is plaguing nearby towns.

Still, Rory doesn’t expect to find her neighbor’s body just a few doors down. When suspicion falls on a friend and fellow painter, Rory must discover the truth before the police paint the wrong picture and send her friend away permanently.

Author Bio
Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

Author Links
Facebook Author page:
Purchase Links
Amazon    B&N     iTunes     KOBO

(1) Trade Paperback of A Palette for Murder by Sybil Johnson (U.S. Only)
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Friday, February 3, 2017

Dear Abby - Remembering Special Pets: Bitsy, Punkin, Maxie, and Talley

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a wonderful week!  Today my friend Jennifer has stopped by to visit and to remember some special dachshunds.  Jennifer is a friend of my Momma from a wonderful dachshund group, and she has some very special doxie memories.  She visited before with her dachshund Stevie May Allenclick here to read Stevie's story.

Abby:  Thanks for stopping by!  What pets would you like to remember at my blog today?  

Jennifer:  Hi, Abby!  It's always wonderful to talk with you.  Today, I'd like to remember four very special dachshunds, Bitsy, Punkin, Maxie and Talley.
Bitsy -- 1987-1997
Bitsy was a fiesty, wonderful little girl, whose health problems took an early toll on her life.  She was a diabetic and was absolutely inseparable with my mother.  They truly were soulmates.  I always wondered why Bitsy left us so early in her life, but just a year or so later, my mother unexpectedly and suddenly passed away.  I believe Bitsy knew and chose to leave us early so that she would be there to greet my mother when that fatal day arrived.  We got Bitsy and Punkin (who shared the same birthday) at the same time, and there always was an uneasy peace between the two.  Punkin loved to devil Bitsy, who was a very prim and proper lady and who always perked up noticeably whenever French was being spoken on television.  Mother always called Bitsy her "little mademoiselle."
Punkin -- 1987-2002
Punkin was a live wire whose favorite thing was to go to Sonic and have a root beer float.  She would plunge her head into the cup and not come up until at least half of the treat was gone.  Her face would be covered in foam, her eyes literally were almost crossed with culinary ecstasy and she would only pause a moment to take a breath before diving her head back in to gulp down the rest of the root beer float.
Maxie -- 1997-2010
Maxie came to me as a rescue and had been terribly mistreated -- so mistreated that as her body was shutting down to die, she lost almost all her hair.  In spite of treatment from medical professionals in Georgia and Ohio, she never fully recovered or regained her hair, but she was as healthy and happy as good veterinary care and I could make her.  She was 7 when I adopted her, and I promised her I would give her at least as many good years as she had endured with her abuser.  Thankfully, Miss Maxie lived almost 8 years and was able to know real love and care.  She and Talley had an uneasy peace, but near the end of their lives, they came to at least appreciate each other.
Talley -- 1997-2012
Talley was a very special girl, who was with me during some of the darkest times of my life.  She truly was my lifeline, the only reason I got up each morning and was the rock of my existence.  When Punkin passed away, Talley became an "only child" for a year or two, and she quickly became the supportive, patient, loving soul that I needed.  I always told her that she really wasn't a dachshund, but was a psychotherapist.  I will always be grateful to her for bringing me back to the daylight from a dark time.
There were two other special dog friends in my early life.  My father gave Miss Petey, a miniature pinscher, to me for my ninth birthday.  A month to the day later, he passed away.  Petey was always a reminder that his spirit would always be with me.  She lived to be almost 19.  Several years later, my mother and I adopted Pepper, our first dachshund.  She was a wonderful girl and lived to be almost 11 years old. 

Abby:  I enjoyed visiting with you today.  Is there anything else about your doxies you would like to share? 

Jennifer:  Today, I have Tookie, Miss Stevie and Trixie, all dachshunds, who are creating their own special memories with me.  I am so very, very thankful for my canine friends as they are the only family I have (my mother was my last living human relative).  Dogs truly are gifts from heaven. 

Abby:  Jennifer, thank you for visiting and sharing Bitsy, Punkin, Maxie, and Talley's stories.  I loved reading about them and seeing their beautiful pictures!   I especially loved reading about Punkin drinking root beer floats!  Those sound delicious.   My Momma agrees with you that dogs are gifts from heaven.  I like that sentiment as well.

Friends, if you would like to leave a message for Jennifer, you can do so in the comments below.   Please also let me know if you would like to visit to remember your special dogs or cats in a future blog post here.

Thank you for visiting!


Abby xoxoxo