Friday, January 25, 2019

Dear Abby - Dog Songs - "How Much Is That Doggie In the Window?" (Patti Page, 1953)

Dear Friends,

Today we start a new series about dog songs!  All the songs featured are either about dogs or they have the word "dog" in the title.  I'm looking forward to learning about some songs I know -- and other songs I don't know -- as well.

We'll start with a song that received a number of comments here last week:  "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?"   This song was a hit in 1953 for Patti Page.  It was written by Bob Merrill, who also wrote "Mambo Italiano" and the lyrics for the Broadway show Funny Girl.

The singer was Patti Page.  She recorded pop songs in the late 1940's and 1950's.  Originally from Oklahoma, her songs often had a slight country twang.  She was very popular and there were even paper dolls in her likeness!

Here is the original song in a video that features a Cocker Spaniel puppy:

Later in life, Patti Page became interested in pet rescue and recorded the song with new lyrics -- "Do You See the Doggie in the Shelter?"   

This song was promoted by the Humane Society.

Are you familiar with "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?"   My Momma said she remembers it from kiddie records when she was a little girl.  (This was some years after it was a hit!)

I would love to hear from you in the comments.  Have a wonderful day!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway

Book Synopsis

Jane Austen Lived a Quiet, Single Life-Or Did She?

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a proper, contemplative, unmarried life. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she-and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen resolves the biggest mystery of Austen’s life-the “lost years” of her twenties-of which historians know virtually nothing.

• Why the enduring rumors of a lost love or tragic affair?
• Why, afterward, did the vivacious Austen prematurely put on “the cap of middle age” and close off any thoughts of finding love?
• Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters and journals?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy answers these questions through a riveting love affair based on the history of the times and the details of Austen’s own life.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


My Review  

Last year I enjoyed reviewing The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.  That novel, the first in a series, details Jane Austen's courtship by Ashton Dennis.  This novel picks up as Jane and Ashton have married, and she finds her life suddenly changed as she helps oversee his large estate -- and discovers she is pregnant with her first child.


One of the things I enjoyed most about the first novel was a delight here as well.  Collins Hemingway captures the tone of Jane Austen's books and her use of language beautifully.  Austen fans are sure to enjoy this aspect of the novel.


I loved, too, the vivid descriptions in this book and the fine sense of another time and place.  For instance, Jane and her sister Cassandra are discussing how different Jane's life is at Hants House, the largest estate in Hampshire.  Cassandra looks around the room "like an agent canvassing an estate for an asset sale.  Before her were:


-- Period cabinets holding patterned china and antique clocks -- ornate sofas and tables, and fragile desks meant to be admired rather than used -- the chandelier that hung within concentric rows of gold designs against a white ceiling and the cherubim that looked down beatifically from each corner of the ceiling -- the blue-green wallpaper embossed with darker floral designs, framed with wood panels of a complementary color, something between gold and cream -- the thick rose-colored rug, the border of which matched the walls" (p. 10).


I enjoyed seeing the progression of Jane's character as she makes a conscious choice to ask the servants for opinions and subtly changes the running of the household.


Even more dramatic, Jane and Ashton become involved in the anti-slavery movement after they become acquainted with a couple who own a sugar plantation in the Caribbean.  


Jane and Ashton are seen as a marriage of true minds in most regards, except for one important one -- her writing.  Jane tries to juggle writing with marriage and impending motherhood.  Ashton tells her:  "You can live, or you can write  You can't do both" (p. 48).  Later when she reads Ashton some of her writing in progress, he is dismissive and asks her to "skip these domestic capers and get on to the good parts" (p. 207).  The book she had been reading him was First Impressions -- an early version of Pride and Prejudice!


I enjoyed The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Volume II so much, and I believe that anyone who enjoys Jane Austen's work -- or who values well written historical fiction -- will enjoy it just as much.   I look forward to reading Volume III.


Author Bio

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives and everything that makes them complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world’s thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.
Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.
For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.



During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to US only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.  
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol II

I received a copy of this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dear Abby - Dog Songs -- A New Blog Series!

Dear Friends,

Welcome back!  I'm excited this week because I have a fun new series coming up.  I'm going to write about dog songs here!  Each week a different song will be featured.  (Of course I will include videos of the songs as well, if I can find them.)   Momma plays music all the time here, so I like music too.  And of course, there is no better topic for songs than man's (and woman's!) best friend.

I would love YOUR ideas.   What are some songs you can think of that are about dogs, or that contain the word DOG in the title?   Please leave a message in the comments below.

Thank you!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Who I Am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher

Book Synopsis

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination. 

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have broken their hearts, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again. 

Who I Am with You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever. 

Who I Am with You is the first book in Robin’s new “A Legacy of Faith” series.

Click here to read an excerpt!

My Review
Who I Am With You tells the story of Jessica Mason and Ridley Chesterfield in the small town of Hope Springs, Idaho.  Jessica is pregnant and alone;  her husband and young daughter were killed in a tragic car accident.  Ridley is spending time alone after he is implicated in a political scandal that could effect his career.  They end up as neighbors and unlikely friends ... with a budding romantic interest.

This is such a lovely read.  I really cared about Jessica and Ridley.  They were both sad and lonely people, and I really wanted them to find happiness and peace.  I found it very uplifting to watch them heal separately - and together.

I loved the dual timelines of this novel.  There are Jessica and Ridley, but there is also the story of Jessica's great-great grandfather in the 1930's.  Legacy of Faith is a perfect name for the series that begins with this book.  Jessica found great strength from her grandfather's faith and from his old family Bible.

The small town setting was wonderful, and I loved the sweet, leisurely pace of this novel.  There were several aspects of the book I particularly liked and related to, like Ridley's rescue of Kris the Sheltie dog, and Jessica's work selling her art online.  

I am already looking forward to reading the rest of this series.  I recommend Who I Am With You for fans of Christian fiction and small town, sweet romances.

Author Bio
Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of over 75 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an ACFW Carol Award winner and an eight-time finalist and has won two RITA Awards and been a finalist eleven times. Her numerous other awards include the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. 

When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

For more information, visit, Facebook: robinleehatcher, Twitter: @robinleehatcher and Instagram @robinleehatcher.


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I received a copy of this book from Audra Jennings PR. 

Book Review and Giveaway - Botched 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J.C. Eaton

Book Synopsis

Bowled over . . .

Sophie “Phee” Kimball is getting dragged into the drama again at her mom’s Arizona retirement community. A new board member wants to get rid of two golf courses and replace them with eco-friendly parks, and some of the residents are pretty teed off about it. On top of that, her mother’s book club friend Myrna is being pushed out of the bocce league. These seniors are serious about winning, and Myrna’s dragging them down. She’s so bad at bocce, in fact, that when a community mem.ber’s dead body is discovered while Myrna’s practicing for a tournament, she assumes it was one of her own errant balls that killed the woman.

But before Myrna can be tossed off the bocce court and into criminal court, the police find an arrow in the victim’s neck. It looks like this was no accident—and Phee and her investigator boyfriend Marshall will have to team up to bounce a killer into the slammer . . .

My Review
Botched 4 Murder is a cozy mystery set in Arizona.  Phee (Sophie) Kimball is an accountant for a detective agency.  When an aquaintance of her retired mother is killed by an arrow, Phee works to solve the mystery.

This is my first read in the Sophie Kimball Mystery series.  I was intrigued by the Chiweenie (Dachshund - Chihuahua mix dog) on the cover.  I had some catching up to do -- lots of new names and characters to learn -- but it was a fun read.  I do think this book would work best read in order with the other books in the Sophie Kimball Mystery series.   And for dog lovers -- I enjoyed the stories about Streetman, the dog, in the book and only wish there had been more of them!

The mystery was well plotted and it kept me guessing.  I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot. I did not guess the murderer before Sophie did.

I enjoyed the characters in this book, especially Sophie, Marshall (her detective boyfriend), Nate and Augusta from the detective agency, her mother, and her eccentric aunt.  The authors did an exceptional job of creating lots of well defined characters. 

The book also has some humor and light moments that were enjoyable.  It was a fast read that moved quickly.

I recommend Botched 4 Murder for other fans of cozy mysteries.  It would make a fun weekend read.

Author Bios
Ann I. Goldfarb
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) set for release in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at and
James E. Clapp When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder (Kensington) is set for release in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.
Visit their website at and Like and Follow on Facebook
Purchase Links
Amazon   B&N   Kobo   GooglePlay    IndieBound 

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

Book Synopsis
From the RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye comes a sweet, romantic treat that will leave you hungry for more.

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country?an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.


Purchase Links

TyndaleAmazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


My Review

Breakfast at Bittersweet Cafe tells the story of Melody Johansson and Justin Keller.  Melody is a pastry chef working late at night when a stranded motorist comes to the door of the restaurant.  He is Justin Keller, a handsome pilot, and there is an immediate connection between the two.  As they get to know each other they both also plan to pursue their dreams.  Melody wants to own a restaurant in her hometown in Colorado, while Justin wants to work as a pilot in Florida.  Is it possible for them to make a relationship work?


This is the second book in the Supper Club Series.  I have not read the first book, but this novel worked well as a standalone read.  (Of course, having enjoyed this book, I want to go back and read the first as well!)


I really liked both Melody and Justin.  Justin was one of my favorite romantic protagonists in recent reads.  I loved the description in the book:  "He was funny, intelligent, perceptive.  Surprisingly humble, which was not a trait she'd have associated with a guy who was practically the template for a romance novel hero" (p. 97).   I loved the scene where Melody and Justin met at the restaurant after hours, and enjoyed their repartee and combination friendship-attraction.


I am a foodie and one of my not-so-secret dream jobs would be owning a little bakery.  I loved the baking details in this book!  They were just perfect (even though they sometimes made me hungry  -- i.e. for Butterscotch Bars!).


This was such a satisfying read about likable, decent people that I really cared about.  It just flew for me as a read, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys contemporary romance and Christian fiction ... and especially for other foodie readers!


Author Bio

Carla Laureano is the RITA Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.


Connect with Carla

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



One lucky reader will win a copy of this book!  Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.   Giveaway ends midnight on Friday, November 18.  Winner will be notified by email and needs to respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.  Good luck!

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - A Murder by Any Name by Suzanne M. Wolfe

Book Synopsis
When a brutal murder threatens the sanctity of the Elizabethan court, it’s up to a hot-tempered spy to save the day.

The court of Elizabeth I is no stranger to plotting and intrigue, but the royal retinue is thrown into chaos when the Queen’s youngest and sweetest lady-in-waiting is murdered, her body left on the high altar of the Chapel Royal in Whitehall Palace. Solving the murder will require the cunning and savvy possessed by only one man. Enter Nicholas Holt, younger brother of the Earl of Blackwell—spy, rake, and owner of the infamous Black Sheep tavern in the seedy district of Bankside. Nick quickly learns that working for the Queen is a mixed blessing. Elizabeth—salty-tongued, vain, and fiercely intelligent—can, with a glance, either reward Nick with a purse of gold or have his head forcibly removed.

When a second lady-in-waiting is slain at Whitehall, the court once again reels with shock and dismay. On the trail of a diabolical killer, Nick and his faithful sidekick—an enormous Irish Wolfhound named Hector—are treading on treacherous ground, and only the killer’s head on a platter can keep them in the Queen’s good graces.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

Author Bio

Suzanne M. Wolfe grew up in Manchester, England and read English Literature at Oxford University, where she co-founded the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. She served as Writer in Residence at Seattle Pacific University and taught literature and creative writing there for nearly two decades. Wolfe is the author of three novels: A Murder by Any Name, The Confessions of X, and Unveiling.

Thirty years ago, she and her husband, Gregory Wolfe, co-founded Image, a journal of the arts and faith. They have also co-authored many books on literature and prayer including Books That Build Character: How to Teach Your Child Moral Values Through Stories, and Bless This House: Prayers For Children and Families. Her essays and blog posts have appeared in Image and other publications. She and her husband are the parents of four grown children. They live in Richmond Beach, Washington.

For more information, please visit Suzanne M. Wolfe’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 3 hardcover copies of A Murder By Any Name! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.  

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
A Murder By Any Name

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - A Literal Mess (An Allie Cobb Mystery) by J.C. Kenney

Book Synopsis
The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert . . .

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .

My Review
A Literal Mess  tells the story of Allie Cobb, an editor in New York City who returns to her hometown in Indiana after her father dies following a long illness.  She is reunited with her family and her best friend Sloane.  When Sloane's father, a famous author who worked with Allie's editor father, suddenly is murdered, Allie becomes involved in the mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I like cozy mysteries with small town settings, and I also was interested in Allie's work as an editor.  It is a short, light read, and would be good for a weekend or vacation.

I liked the character of Allie, especially seeing her assimilate back into the small town where she grew up after years away.  There were a number of characters to meet in this book, and the author did a good job of developing them.  He writes dialogue especially well, and I liked the conversations that moved the story forward.  

The mystery was well plotted with just enough clues for readers.  I thought the mystery pacing was also well done.

This is a short read (under 200 pages) and I enjoyed it but would have liked even more about the characters.  I especially would have liked more of a sense of place with the town -- more descriptions.

A Literal Mess is a good start to a new cozy series.  I look forward to reading more of Allie's adventures in the next book!

Author Bio
J.C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.

Author Links
Website –;
Twitter –;
Facebook –;
Goodreads –;
Instagram –

Purchase links
Amazon –  Apple  Google   Kobo  Nook

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Gown with the Wind (A Wedding Planner Mystery) by Stephanie Blackmoore

Book Review
Professional wedding planner Mallory Shepard knows her job is challenging under any circumstances. But when the groom is your ex and someone invites murder, there may never be another tomorrow . . .
Mallory’s fine—really—handling the wedding arrangements for her ex, Keith. But his fiancée, Becca, has at the last minute decided to switch from a Japanese-cherry-blossom theme to a Gone with the Wind theme. She wants to honor her ailing grandmother, who owns an impressive collection of GWTW memorabilia—and who is fiercely at odds with the groom’s mother over the nuptial plans.

But among other complications, Becca gets into a fight with an old childhood rival over a replica Scarlett O’Hara wedding gown. She wins the dress—but soon becomes a murder suspect when the other woman is found dead in Becca’s swimming pool. And it’s up to Mallory to solve the mystery behind this unhappy occasion, before a different kind of civil war breaks out . . .

Author Bio
A native Pittsburgher, Stephanie Blackmoore now lives in Missouri, with her husband, son and two-spirited cats. She was an attorney in Pittsburgh and a librarian in Florida before becoming a writer. Stephanie is a fan of everything black-and-yellow. She is hard at work on her next Wedding Planner mystery. Connect with Stephanie at the links below.

Social Media Links:  Website    Facebook    Twitter

Purchase Links – Amazon    B&N    Kobo    Google Play


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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Dear Abby - Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  I've missed chatting with you here.  I couldn't wait until my usual Friday post, but really wanted to write and catch up.  I hope your holidays were bright and hope you are having a good start to the new year.

I had a wonderful and relaxing Christmas!  I stayed busy helping Momma get ready for the holidays.   (For me that means dressing up cute and posing for pictures -- my Christmas photo below.  I did not like the hoodie on the Santa suit!)

I saw friends and family over Christmas and spent some extra special time with my human Grammy.   Here I am snuggled up right beside her on Christmas day.

Of course I enjoyed toys and treats!  I have a new Christmas mouse toy that I love to snuggle with.

Santa also brought me a new harness!  It is from Dachshund Delights and I like it a lot.  It's pink with little hearts.

I have not made a single resolution this year, except to spend as much time as possible with my Momma and to enjoy each and every day.  That is a resolution I know I can achieve!

I would love to hear from you in the comments.  I have a fun new series coming up here and I will be back not THIS Friday but next week on Friday.


Abby xoxoxo