Friday, December 14, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Hi all!

Abby and I are taking a blog break until after the New Year.   Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays -- Merry Christmas to all!


Dear Abby -- Merry Christmas!

Dear friends,

Just a short and sweet note today to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season!   I am going to take a blogging break until after the New Year.  

Today I would like to share a few of my past Christmas photos (I'll post my 2018 photo when I return -- I want it to be a surprise for friends who are receiving it in Christmas cards this year).   Momma says it is an adventure to take Christmas pictures with me.  I am not sure what that means!

Here are a few Christmas links from my blog as well:

Vintage Christmas Dog Photos
Merry Christmas with Vintage Dog Illustrations
My Christmas Wish List
Vintage Christmas Dachshunds
Dachshund Christmas Videos
Video:  A Dachshund Decorates a Christmas Tree
Video:  Dachshund Santa and Reindeer

I hope you enjoy these links.  Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!  I look forward to chatting again in 2019.

Abby xoxoxo

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Product Review - AuCuTee S5 Sleep Therapy White Noise Machine

Product Specifics

AuCuTee S5 Portable Sound Machine (White), 20 Soothing Sleep Therapy White Noise Machine with Timer Option, Sleeping and Relaxation Machine for Baby, Adult or Traveler.
    • 20 Soothing sounds for Sleep
    • 【Built in Battery】
    • 【Headphone Function】
    • 【Portable & Lightweight】
    • One Year Warranty
    Package includes:
    • 1 X sleep therapy machine
    • 1 X Charging Adapter & Cable
    • 1 X Instruction Manual
    Links to the White Noise Machine:

    My Review

    I received a white noise machine from AuCuTee to try.  I've wanted to try a white noise machine for quite a while.  I live in the city, and there are times when I find it hard to get to sleep because of normal city noises (traffic, sirens, people outside).   

    The S5 Sleep Therapy white noise machine from AuCuTee is surprisingly small!  I photographed it in my bookshelf headboard, above, to give you an idea of the proportion and size.  I like that it is small and doesn't take up a lot of room.  I am sure there are people who travel with a white noise machine, and this one would be easy to pack.

    The machine is battery operated and is rechargeable.  (Charging cord included.)  After charging the battery life is 10 hours.  

    There is a small instruction card included, but the machine is very easy to use.  There is an on/off switch and a charging slot in the back of the machine.  You'll also find a headphone jack in case you want to listen on a flight or when needing to shut out noise (i.e. studying).

    The front of the machine has a timer button.  You can set the timer for 30, 60, or 90 minutes.  I did this during a short nap and it worked great!

    There are forward and back buttons that let you switch sounds.  The sounds included are:

    • Lullaby 1
    • White Noise
    • Pink Noise
    • Gray Noise
    • Brown Noise
    • Fan
    • Cracking fire
    • Clock ticking
    • Train
    • Crickets
    • Frogs
    • Birds
    • Rain
    • Thunderstorm
    • Stream
    • Ocean
    • Shush
    • Womb Sound
    • Lullaby 2
    • Lullaby 3

    I like the nature sounds the best, particularly Crackling fire, Crickets, Rain, Thunderstorm, and Ocean.  I do wish there was a legend on the actual machine (maybe a decal on the base of the machine?) that listed the sounds in order.  Several of the sounds are similar and a listing in order would be helpful.  They are listed on the instruction card, but it would be easier if they were on the actual machine.

    The sound quality is great!  There are 7 volume settings and I picked one in the mid-level.  It worked really well at masking "city noise" and I fell asleep much quicker than usual with the machine.

    I have already recommended the machine to a friend who likes to sleep with a fan on, and I will recommend it to other friends who have a hard time getting to sleep.  I can see lots of uses for the machine -- including nap time (for adult or child), soothing a baby to sleep, sleeping with noise outside, sleeping when traveling.  It's a neat product, and I will enjoy using it on nights when I have a hard time sleeping.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    Book Review - Tony's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

    Book Synopsis
    Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.
    Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore before World War II. Chi Chi is a talented and ambitious singer-songwriter working in a local blouse factory looking for her big break, while Saverio, a singer already on the rise, is fronting a touring band and has the good looks and smooth vocals that make success seem assured. It isn’t long before Saverio becomes Tony Arma and  he and Chi Chi form a duo; together they navigate the glamorous worlds of nightclubs, radio, and television. Soon they’re married and all goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put ambition aside to build a family and which will pursue a career? What compromises will they make to achieve their dreams? And on the road to fame and fortune, how will they cope with the impact these compromises have on their marriage, family, and themselves?
    From the Jersey shore to Hollywood, New York City to Las Vegas, the hills of northern Italy and the exuberant hayride of the big band circuit in between: Tony’s Wife tells the story of the twentieth century in song, as Tony & Chi Chi make studio recordings and promote them with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As they juggle the demands of their public lives, secrets are revealed, promises are broken, and loyalty is tested as the Armas attempt to keep the music playing and their family together.
    Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption.

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    My Review
    Tony's Wife tells the story of Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada (Tony Arma).  They are both young aspiring singers when they meet and their careers wind around together and separately a bit before they come together.  This historical novel begins in the 1930's and spans over 50 years.

    I absolutely loved this novel.  It is a big read (almost 500 pages) but I just could not put it down.  I love historical fiction and found the time span of this novel particularly interesting.  The 1940's are a special interest of mine and the depiction of the wartime years in this novel was absolute perfection.  (I loved the scene with Chi Chi and Tony -- along with Linda Darnell and Margaret Whiting! -- at the Hollywood Canteen).

    I also love music and loved the many musical details of this story, starting with the chapter titles all based on musical terms - i.e. Volante (Flying Fast), Cantabile (In a sugary style).  The Big Band years were fascinating, and so was the work that Chi Chi put in to be taken seriously as a songwriter.  I found the early years of her career, recording at times in her father's garage recording studio, especially interesting.  There was so much fun and creativity in the descriptions of their music, like the songs that Chi Chi wrote, "Mama's Rolling Pin" and Jelly Bean Beach" (complete with mason jars of jelly beans used as maracas!).

    Chi Chi and Saverio (Tony) were compelling characters.  Adriana Trigiani did a masterful job developing their characters over a period of many years.  I loved the back and forth glimpses of their lives.

    Ms. Trigiani is one of my favorite authors.  Her descriptions are always so beautiful and evocative.  I always feel like I am seeing the story like a movie, not just reading it -- her descriptions are that vivid.  

    One example of the beautiful descriptions in this novel:

    "Severio stood on the sidewalk and surveyed the Donatellis' Cape Cod with its weathered gray shingles and freshly painted yellow trim, and wondered what it must be like to live inside. ... The matching patches of grass on either side of the walkway in the front yard were neatly mowed;  the seagrass hedges that hemmed the porch ruffled in the breeze, as wind chimes, small white glass discs that resembled communion hosts, clinked a tune.  It was a fine house for a good family" (p. 95).

    I cannot recommend Tony's Wife highly enough for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone interested in Mid-Century America, music, and engrossing storytelling about characters you will care about.

    Author Bio
    Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.
    Find out more about Adriana at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
    I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund Decorates a Christmas Tree

    Dear Friends,

    I hope you are having a good week and a fun holiday season.  I am behind (as always!) and still need to take my Christmas card photos. 

    With that in mind, I'll share a short and silly video with you today.  Doxie Din (one of my favorite famous doxies) has a video where he decorates the Christmas tree.  He's very creative -- carries the tree in on a skateboard!  He does a great job with the tree, but the video ends with a surprise!

    I hope you enjoyed this little video as much as I did!  If you put a tree up, what does your dog or kitty think of it?  Do they help decorate (or un-decorate, as the case may be)?

    Have a great weekend!


    Abby xoxoxo

    Review - The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception With an Unlikely Earl by Victoria Alexander

    Book Synopsis
    Harry Armstrong has spent years in Egypt, recovering relics and disregarding rules. Now he’s back in England with a new title and a new purpose: penning his exploits. But his efforts are overshadowed by London’s favorite writer about Egypt—a woman they call The Queen of the Desert, of all things. Worse, her stories—serialized in newspapers and reprinted in books—are complete rubbish.

    Miss Sidney Honeywell didn’t set out to deceive anyone. It’s not her fault readers assumed her Tales of a Lady Adventurer in Egypt were real! Admitting her inadvertent deception now would destroy her reputation and her livelihood. But when the Earl of Brenton challenges her to travel to Egypt to prove her expertise, accompanied by his dashing, arrogant nephew, what choice does she have but to pack her bags?

    With the matchmaking founders of the Lady Travelers Society in tow, Harry is determined to expose Sidney’s secret. But the truth might not be as great a revelation as discovering that love can strike even the most stubborn of hearts.


    Purchase Links

    My Review
    The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception With an Unlikely Earl is a historical novel that tells the story of Sidney Honeywell.  Although she is the author of a popular book set in Egypt, her readers do not realize she has never visited Egypt or even traveled outside England.   On the other hand, Harry Armstrong has a wealth of experience in Egyptology, but his writing is dull and dry.   He challenges Sidney to travel to Egypt and prove that she is really who she pretends to be.  This adventure really picks up speed as Harry, Sidney, and her dear elderly lady friends from the Lady Travelers Society all journey to Egypt together.  Adventure ensues and sparks fly!

    I absolutely love the Lady Travelers Society series of books.  They are so smart and well written and just so much fun to read.  I always think of them as romps.  (Now how many books can be described that way?!)  Although this book would work as a standalone, I highly recommend reading the entire series.

    I loved the interplay between Sidney and Harry, with lots of verbal sparring and a battle of wits ... as well as a slow building attraction.  They are my very favorite couple in the Lady Travelers Society series.

    The Egyptian setting was fascinating.  I know very little about this historical setting and really enjoyed the details like the marketplace, and Sidney and Harry's visit to the Great Pyramid.  The descriptions were amazing ... so many little intriguing details, and a real sense of time and place.  

    Just one example of the fascinating descriptions in this book:

    "Massive stone columns topped with capitals carved to look like palm fronds soared to a ceiling a good two stories overhead.  A grand stairway swept upward to the next level guarded by bronze, life-size statues of dancing girls.  With potted palms in ornate urns, patterned carpets and intricately tiled floors, it was the epitome of the Egypt she had long seen in her mind's eye" (location 1189).

    I also enjoyed seeing the older ladies from the Ladies Travelers Society having an adventure in Egypt ... that was another highlight of this delightful book for me.

    I recommend The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception With an Unlikely Earl highly to fans of historical fiction, and especially for readers who enjoy a smart, well written, and light hearted read.  Five stars!

    Author Bio
    New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was much more fun than real life. She turned to writing full time and is still shocked it worked out.

    Since the publication of her first book in 1995, she has written thirty-one full length novels and six novellas. Find a complete list on her website and chat with her on Facebook.


    Connect with Victoria

    Website | Facebook | Twitter

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