My Bucket List of Places to Visit

It’s time for Friday’s Five! This week I’m listing the top five places I want to visit.

(These aren’t in any sort of order. I’m not picky about what comes first)

1. Scotland – I picture lush green grass, hills and castles. I really, really want to see some castles. Oh, and men in kilts. Can’t forget the men in kilts. And I want to hear the accents. Sigh. The accents

2. England – Anywhere in England. I’d love to see an old English pub and more castles (do you detect a theme here?). I actually have family in England. Well, extended family. My brother-in-law hales from York, I believe but lives in the US now. Why, I don’t know when he can live in ENGLAND.

3. Paris. For the usual reasons. Because it’s a romantic city, because it has so much history and because I’m writing about it right now and would love an up close and personal look. I actually have an invitation for a girl’s weekend away with my SIL in Paris. Wish I could afford it :-(

4. Venice – Part of the book I’m writing now is set in Venice and from my research it sounds like a beautiful, romantic city. Plus I want to ride on a gondola.

5. The Mediterranean – Blue, blue water. White sands. If I had to pick one place, just one, to visit, this would be it.Okay. Your turn. Where would you like to go if you had the chance?

Dawn Soap Is the New Duct Tape

I learned two new things this past weekend that blew me away and gave me a new appreciation for Dawn dish soap.

1. I saw this on Pinterest and thought I’d give it a whirl because I’ve yet to find a really good shower cleaner. Until now. Here’s what you need:

1 cup Dawn dish soap

1 cup vinegar

Put in a spray bottle and shake. Spray it on your shower walls, let it sit an hour or two and wipe the walls down with a sponge.

OMGosh! This worked really well! The shower walls shone as well as the silver knobs.

2. I had two shirts that I didn’t wear all summer because they had oil stains on them. One from the Pam I was spraying while cooking dinner and the other when I dripped mayonnaise on it. I washed the shirts right away but the stains set so I hung the shirts in my closet where they stayed all summer. Why I didn’t throw them away, I don’t know. But one day I was thinking that Dawn is the grease fighter, why wouldn’t it get the grease out of my shirts? So I poured Dawn on the grease stains, let them sit, then washed them. For good measure I washed them twice without drying in between.

Guess what??? The grease stains came out and now I have two practically new shirts!

So what’s the best household cleaning tip you have? Please share.

The countdown has begun…

Summer ends for my family on Monday. That’s when all the kids go back to school. You’d think I’d be happy. I’ll have more time on my hands, an empty house, no one under foot.

But I’m not.

I’ve always hated the end of summer. It makes me sad :-(

I think because it forces me to realize the kids are getting older. Another summer gone, another school year under way. Another year behind me and too few in front of me with the kids. Soon they’ll be leaving. Really soon. My oldest is 18 and while she’s moaning and groaning that she decided to stay at home and go to college, I know the day will come all too soon when she does eventually move out.

I’m also not one for routine. Some people thrive on it, can’t function without it. Not me. I like every day to be different. I don’t like getting up Mon-Fri at the same time and do the exact same thing each time. I like variety and if school is anything, it’s routine.

Today I went to the grocery store and was sad because next time my little grocery shopper helper won’t be with me and I’ll have to do it all alone. I won’t find unexpected things in my basket. I won’t hear giggles because someone tried to sneak something in my basket. I won’t have anyone to talk to. Sheesh. I’m depressing myself.

For my husband the end of the school year is sad. Not because the kids will be home for three months. Well, that might be part of the reason. But because for him the end of the school year signifies that the kids are getting older.

So what about you? Does the end of summer depress you or are you ready for school to start?

♫♪These are a few of my favorite things….♫♪

Some of you may not know this but my other passion, outside of writing, is makeup and beauty care. I’m obsessed and can talk for hours about it. Whether you’re a lip balm kinda girl or a lipliner-with-lipstick-and-gloss kinda girl (I can be both), we all have our favorite products. Those things we simply can’t do without.

Here are a few of mine:

Shadow Insurance eye primer. If there’s one thing you should splurge on, it’s eye primer. Why spend the money on eyeshadow or the time putting it on when it will fade or disappear entirely in a few hours? This is a must in my life.

Burt’s Bees lip balm. I have one in my purse, one in my locker at work, one in the downstairs bathroom and one in the upstairs bathroom. Yes, I’m addicted.

Alpha Hydrox Souffle. The best thing EVER (except for the shadow insurance). I put this on my face at night and let the glycolic AHA do its thing. In the morning I wake up to skin that is baby butt smooth and it prepares my skin for…

Roc Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer. Not because I have deep wrinkles but because I want to avoid them for as long as possible. This stuff is amazing and you don’t have to shell out the hundreds of dollars for something that works just as well, if not better than the high end brands.

I have many, many more but that’s a post for another day. What’s your favorite beauty product that you can’t do without?

 

*I was not compensated by any of the above companies for my review. I paid for all products out of my own pocket and this is merely my opinion. Which may differ from others’ opinions.

Asking for help for a friend

If you’ve been following my blog, you know what happened to my husband in May, 2011 and the difficult road my family has had to walk for the past eighteen months. If you haven’t heard, you can read the full story here.

Along this journey, we’ve met some wonderful people and one such family is the O’Keefe’s. In May of 2011, a man broke into Kelly O’Keefe’s house and started beating her. Her brother, Danny, heard her cries and rushed to help her. He was beaten as well. Then stabbed nineteen times in the head .

Danny and Kelly were in the ICU with my husband. They are both still struggling to heal. Danny needs extensive physical, occupational and speech therapy. His insurance will only cover 50 sessions. Believe me, that’s nothing, especially when you’re going to therapy nine times a week.

The O’Keefe’s are asking for help to send Danny to University of Michigan UMAP program which costs $27,000 for a 4-5 week session. And that is just for speech therapy. That doesn’t include the cost of travel or room and board nor the other therapies he needs.

I know this family personally. I can vouch for them. They’re kind and caring and are living through hell right now watching two of their four children struggle every day. I would never, ever ask my faithful followers for anything like this if I didn’t know everything about this family.

If you can give anything, anything at all, it would be beyond appreciated.

The O’Keefe’s are a proud family and when I last talked to Kathy O’Keefe she said, “It’s hard to ask for money but when it’s your kids, you’ll do anything for them.”

In her blog, she writes, “Danny is our hero. He saved our daughter’s life, but at a great cost. Danny loves sports. He played baseball, football, and soccer. He loved to read, and play the drums. He’s lost it all.”

If you’d like to read their story, you can find it here.

I understand that money is tight these days. If you can’t give monetarily, please send up a few prayers for Danny. The power of prayer is enormous. My family is testament to that.

Thank you!

 

Sweet Saturday Sample

From The Notorious Lady Anne, out in February, 2013 with Loveswept (cover pending)

Gone was Lady Anne, in her place just Emmaline. Two components of one person, making a whole that baffled him but he wouldn’t think about it now.

Tonight was for them, Nicholas and Emmaline. No one else. He curled onto his side and tucked her into him. He fell asleep with the scent of her hair—ocean breeze and warm sunlight.

View a complete list of Sharon’s books

Summer Randomness

Today I had my author pictures taken. I’ve been putting them off all summer because 1) I didn’t like my haircut. I mean, I liked my haircut, I just didn’t think it looked author-ish. (I don’t want my hair stylist to read this and think I hated my hair style. I didn’t, Kelly! Swear!). 2) I didn’t know what to wear. 3) I really don’t like being on that side of the camera and 4) As with most women, I wanted to lose some weight.

When my editor called last week and said she needed my author pic by the 15th I had a mild moment of panic. Luckily the photographer was able to get me in, my hair had grown out a bit and I’d lost a few pounds since the beginning of summer. The only worry I had left was what to wear. I quickly solved that problem by going with black. You can never go wrong with black. It matches everything and its slimming.

So, I can now check author pics off my to-do list and I’m extremely excited to see the finished products.

My next point of business is a new website. More choices, more decisions to make.

Last week I started writing two new stories. I’ve never written two stories at once and it’s a bit mind-boggling. Not to mention that I have a deadline in November.

I’ve been watching the Olympics every single night. For someone who doesn’t watch much TV, that’s pretty amazing. The swimming had me riveted to the television. In 2008 I cheered for Michael Phelps but this year I found myself rooting for Lochte. And who can not like Missy Franklin. So sweet and fresh. And that smile is contagious!

So that’s been my summer so far. What have you been doing this summer?