Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guest Book Videos

Today I leave for the second leg of my goodwill book tour. This time I'll be traveling in the lower parts of SC and GA. I'm looking forward to meeting more booksellers and talking about my upcoming novel, The Guest Book. I can't believe the book is almost out!

As we prepare for the launch of this novel, my publisher has developed these short videos. I hate the way I look in them, of course, (and does my voice really sound like that??-- ugh!) but feel free to take a peek as I discuss southern fiction, the message of the novel, where I got my inspiration to write the book, and how I got inspired to create the characters.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Wednesday!

I have a post running on Southern Belle View today about Memorial Day.

And She Reads has several guest posts running this week by some talented authors, discussing some novels you might want to add to your summer reading list. I know I'm excited about the coming summer, and the many books I plan to read by the pool. Be sure to check in with She Reads as we will be pointing you towards the best books all summer long. Subscribing to our newsletter is a great way to keep up with the books on our radar! Check out the site for details on how to subscribe.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

The End of Memorial Weekend

Just returned from a whirlwind Memorial weekend that involved me and three of my kids venturing to Ocean Isle Beach to visit my aunt and uncle who live there. We had a fun time, got too much sun, and are sad to return to real life and school for my kids. They all felt like school should be out and summer should be started after the taste of summer this weekend brought. I have to say I agree. I'm ready for no schedule, long days by the pool, and the freedom that summer means.

Tomorrow is my birthday so I won't be posting-- instead I will be spending time with my family and hopefully doing a lot of NOTHING after being a single mom all weekend. (Single moms, my hat is off to you!)

I shall return sometime Wednesday. My head is filled with ideas for blog posts after our weekend. Just gotta find time to write... But first, reuniting with my husband and other kids, eating my mom's strawberry cake to celebrate my birthday and... not cooking!
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Running By Them

Sometimes when I run, I am reminded of what a gift it is to be able to do so. I've had two such reminders recently that I wanted to share.

The first was when I ran by a boy in a wheelchair. He'd steered his motorized wheelchair out to get the mail from his mailbox, and my route took me right past him on the sidewalk. I felt bad running past him, doing something he so clearly could not. I avoided his eyes, looking down as I passed by. But I swear I could feel him watch me go, could feel the longing in his eyes burning into my back. Suddenly the pain in my legs felt like a gift, the burning in my chest a blessing. I pumped my legs harder, and pushed myself further. Somehow, in that moment, I wasn't just running for me-- I was running for him too. I was so aware-- painfully so-- that I could do something so amazing, that it was wrong to take it for granted. Or to say I don't want to go. Or yes, complain about going.

A few days later I ran by an older gentleman in his yard. He hollered at me as I passed, waving his arm at me so that I shut off my iPod and looked up at him, slowing my pace. With a grin, he said, "You're going to get a speeding ticket, going that fast." We both knew he was lying, but I went along with it, smiling back as I started to pick up my pace and resume my run. I hadn't yet turned my music back on as I overheard him mumble to himself, "I can barely cross the street." I thought about that man as I ran ahead, focusing again-- anew-- on what I could do. To him I probably did look like I was going fast. I looked over my shoulder to see him shuffling up his driveway, his walk out to his mailbox probably the extent of his physical activity for the day.

I'm not sure why I shared this here. I guess because it's been on my mind a lot-- this ability, this gift, of running. And how I don't know from day to day when I might not be able to anymore. And how amazing it is that I can at all. That I get to go run, to pull on my tennis shoes, pop in my earbuds, point my nose towards the horizon and move my legs. Not fast enough to get a speeding ticket, mind you. But faster than many. And so, I run for me, but I also run for them, my mind focusing on the blessing instead of the exertion, the gift instead of the pain.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's Wednesday!

This week at Southern Belle View we're talking about what God's been teaching us. I've loved hearing from my fellow Belles and today is my day to share.

And don't forget to check out what we're talking about over at She Reads. As summer approaches we're going to be pointing you towards some great reads for the beach or poolside. We've been having a lot of guest posters who are great writers with titles that you need to check out. And of course, talking about our May selection, Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale. If you like quirky yet poignant stories, this one should go on your list!
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spit Bubbles, Pitching, And Writing

Did that title make you wonder how in the world those things can be related?

Well, allow me to explain how they are.

First, the spit bubbles. I learned to launch spit bubbles off my tongue when I was in college from a suitemate who had this remarkable talent. I was fascinated and begged her to teach me how. And she did, patiently demonstrating until I got the hang of it as we whiled away our afternoons in the dorm. (Of all the things I learned in college, this is perhaps the single skill I still use most often. It both fascinates and repels my family and friends.)

The thing about the spit bubbles is sometimes they launch off my tongue like they're supposed to, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes the spit bubbles fly through the air, sailing through the holes on my steering wheel like a goal post as I drive. And I wish I could consistently be that good, that my talent could always be counted on. But that's not the case. It's different almost every time.

This past Saturday I sat in yet another set of bleachers and watched yet another child's sporting event. This one was baseball. I watched as the 11 year old pitcher sailed a ball at just the right speed at just the right angle over home plate, whizzing by the stunned batter as he sat motionless. One of the parents hollered out that this 11 year old pitcher "Just needed to do it like that, every time." And I swear I saw the boy's shoulders slump ever so slightly as the parent called out this "helpful" comment. The boy knew he couldn't do it just like that, every time. His pitches are different every time. Same mound, same glove, same ball, same arm. Different result.

I feel like that pitcher sometimes where my writing is concerned. Readers tell me "Just do it like that, every time." And of course, that's what I want. With this new book that launches this summer it's the same setting, same author, same genre: but a very different story. I'm not sure I can sail this one over home plate, send it flying into the air like my spit bubbles. Instead the ball might end up somewhere I never meant for it to go. The spit bubble might pop before it's even left my mouth. When I start thinking that way, my shoulders slump too. I wish there were guarantees to what I'm doing. That one good book meant another good book. That one good pitch meant another good pitch. That one soaring spit bubble meant many more to come.

I think that's the part of our life's work that is the moving target. Each day, each effort, each time we do something seems to yield different results. Same mom, same house, same kids: different behaviors. Same yard, same kinds of plants, same basic weather patterns: different garden. Same recipe, same ingredients, same oven: different cooking result. Same paper, same paint, same idea: different piece of art.

I take comfort in knowing that I don't face the moving target alone. I might be the only one reading this who can launch spit bubbles off my tongue, but I'm not the only one who wants to do something well, and tries with all my heart to soar, even knowing that some of my efforts will fail. But like that pitcher, that doesn't stop me from hitching up my shoulders and throwing that next ball. It is the hope that I will produce another perfect pitch that puts me back on the mound time and again.
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Monday, May 21, 2012


I'm back from my whirlwind bookstore tour. It was a busy four days and I was glad to get home and back to real life. Travel is fun and I got to see two friends for dinner who lived in towns I was passing through and it was wonderful to meet booksellers and talk about my new book, but really, truly, I like my real life-- the mom gig-- the best.

Here's something I wanted to share with you today as I work on getting back in the swing of things:

"I tended to do anything as long as it felt like adventure, and to stop when it felt like work. Which meant that life did not feel like work." Neil Gaiman in this commencement address. It's worth watching-- especially if you harbor dreams of pursuing something in the creative world. It'll take 20 minutes of your time, but I think you'll be glad you spent that 20 minutes letting Neil Gaiman inspire you.

And happy birthday to my brother Mark, who is one of the most creative guys I know.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

A Week Off

This coming week I am taking a blogging break. My fourth novel is due this week and I am also going on a little tour of my state, meeting the booksellers who will (hopefully) be selling my new novel this summer. We're calling it a "Good Will Tour" and I hope that's just what it is. I am anticipating being quite crazy between writing at night and driving during the day-- which doesn't leave much time for popping in over here.

I will be back next week with more stuff to talk about and I'm sure some stories from the road! Y'all have a good week and be sure to check in over at She Reads and Southern Belle View, where there will be lots of new content to keep you busy!
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Friday, May 11, 2012

A Weekend Meal

Want an easy Friday dinner? I made this last weekend and it was fast and good-- two of my favorite words when it comes to meal preparation.

First, take some chicken and marinate in teriyaki sauce.

A few hours later hand it to your husband and ask him to grill it.

While he's outside grilling heat up a pot full of water. When it boils, throw a package of Soba noodles (found in the Asian section of your grocery store) into the water and cook them according to package directions. Two minutes before the noodles are done, add a big package of frozen broccoli florets to the water and continue boiling.

Drain the noodles and broccoli, then toss with bottled peanut sauce that you also bought in the Asian section of your grocery store. By this time the chicken should be done.

Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss the chicken in with the noodles and broccoli. Then if you're feeling especially ambitious you can garnish the top of this concoction with some chopped cashews or peanuts.

This doesn't take a lot of effort and is a yummy meal. We had this for dessert and the whole meal-- start to finish-- was a big hit with the whole family.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Story

I'm in the homestretch of my 4th novel, days away of submitting it to my editor.

But I'm working on another novel too. I can't help it. It just starts happening. This one started over spring break. These new characters started talking, insisting on being heard, refusing to go away until I paid them some attention. From there I started thinking of elements to this new story that, though random sounding, make sense. Or don't. And when they don't, I toss them aside, and wait for a new idea, trusting the next one will be better. It is a pretty amazing process to be a part of. It feels... divine.

Today as I scrubbed floors and emptied the dishwasher, the characters were chattering away in my head, whole dialogues playing out so fast I knew I couldn't get them down. And besides, my hands were tied up doing other things. I just had to trust that what was happening was part of the process. And that what I needed would be there when it was time.

But it's not time yet. I've got another book to finish. And in the meantime, I will let the story unspool and the characters keep talking, work being done even when it seems like I'm standing still.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Anthem- 1. A rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause.

Have you ever picked an anthem for yourself? A song that describes your life or your hope about life? A song that gets your blood pumping, your heart soaring? A song that identifies... you.

Mine's been "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John for years. And lately I've been loving "Shadow Days" by John Mayer. I got the idea from Ally McBeal years ago. It's kind of a fun exercise to think of songs that fit you. It's silly. And not really useful for much more than something to occupy your thoughts. And it'll make you smile whenever "your song" comes on the radio. Give it a try.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blueberry Coffecake and Easy Banana Bread

Today I am sharing two recipes that use a yellow cake mix as the base-- making baking easier and faster! These are both great for breakfast, dessert, or an afterschool snack!

Blueberry Coffeecake

¼ C. sugar

2 tabl. cornstarch

1/3 C. water

1 tsp. lemon juice

2 ½ C. fresh or frozen blueberries

1 pkg. of yellow cake mix

1 ½ C. quick oats, divided

8 tabl. butter, divided

2 eggs

¼ C. brown sugar

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in water and lemonjuice until smooth. Turn on highheat, stir in blueberries and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened andbubbly. Remove from heat and setaside. Combine the cake mix and 1C. oats. Cut in 6 tabl. of butteruntil crumbly. Set aside 1 C. ofcrumb mixture for topping. Stireggs into mixture. Spread in a 13x 9” greased pan with a knife. Spread blueberry mixture to within ¼” of edges. Combine brown sugar, remaining oats andreserved crumbs. Cut in remainingbutter until crumbly. Sprinkleover top. Bake at 350 for 30-35minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

(Source: A Heart For Home e-newsletter. To subscribe send an email to )

Easy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

2 eggs

3-4 overripe bananas

1 c. milk chocolate chips

(Source: Six Sisters Stuff

Smash bananas in a large bowl, then add remaining ingredients and mix well. Batter will fill 2 small loaf pans or one large loaf pan. Spray pans well with nonstick cooking spray and pour in batter.

Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes for two small pans or 45-50 minutes for one large loaf pan.
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Monday, May 07, 2012

Menu Plans

This is about 2 weeks' worth of meals if you add in planned-overs:

Spaghetti and Pioneer Woman's Rosemary Rolls

Beef Tips over rice, green beans

Italian baked chicken, mashed potatoes, corn

Teriyaki grilled chicken, soba noodles tossed in a peanut sauce with oriental veggies

Chicken and wild rice casserole, peas

French Dip Sandwiches, tater tots, sliced watermelon

Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas, chips and queso

Pork Tenderloin, stuffing, brown sugar glazed carrots

Eggs, bacon, muffins (Tomorrow I am featuring two breakfast breads that could be served!)

Desserts I'd like to make:

Brown sugar pecan dessert

Chocolate pudding

key lime pie

Chocolate chip cake with chocolate glaze
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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Saturday Bonus: The Avengers Fun Facts!

• “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The first “Avengers” comic was published in September 1963 and the lineup consisted of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp. Captain America joined the team in Issue #4, after being revived from being trapped in a block of ice. This film brings together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) when they are called to duty by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

• Production on “Marvel’s The Avengers” commenced on April 25, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the production shot onstage at Albuquerque Studios and various locations in and around the city until Thursday, July 28th. Other filming locations included Wilmington, Ohio; Worthington, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. The shoot lasted a total of 93 shooting days on 1st unit and 47 shooting days on 2nd unit.

• The huge, impressive Helicarrier Bridge set was built on a soundstage in Albuquerque. This iconic home base for the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., whose director is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), resembles an aircraft carrier, but it’s no ordinary carrier—it can actually fly. The filmmakers wanted to embrace that key element of The Avengers history and give the fans a real thrill when it takes to the air. To achieve the exterior of the Helicarrier, the filmmakers shot on a runway at the Albuquerque International Sunport.

• Another classic Marvel vehicle, the Quinjet, is also making an appearance in the movie. The Quinjet is essentially the jump jet that The Avengers use to go to and from the Helicarrier and to go into battles. The Quinjet design fits in with the Helicarrier—the same technology that allows the Helicarrier to work has been incorporated into the Quinjet. But at the same time the silhouette of the Quinjet, the cockpit, the engines on the back and the weaponry make it feel as though it could actually exist today.

• In the very first issue of the comic book “The Avengers,” almost 50 years ago, it was Loki, Thor’s brother, who was causing the trouble that brought all the Avengers together for the first time to defeat him. In the making of the movie, Marvel stayed true to that setup. Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, is a much stronger villain on Earth than he is in his own world of Asgard and wreaks havoc in “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

• Chris Hemsworth (Thor) felt that being on location was like summer camp, where no one really knows each other but everyone hangs out together and has a great time. However, Hemsworth did know Tom Hiddleston (Loki) from “Thor” and developed a great relationship with him on that film that carried over to “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

• To play expert archer Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner received training from Olympic archers on how to use a bow properly. He learned the basics of archery as well as the proper positions, but one of the most difficult tasks Renner had to master was the consistency he had to employ in drawing back the bow, which is difficult to do when drawing back fast.

• Scarlett Johansson was more than happy to reprise her role as Black Widow in “Marvel’s The Avengers.” The talented actress says she is a huge fan of the character and is happy that fans liked her as Black Widow, a role she originated in “Iron Man 2.” In “Marvel’s The Avengers,” during her scenes with another highly skilled S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the audience will be let in on some of their backstory and get a glimpse of their longtime working relationship.

• When the cast and crew of “ Marvel’s The Avengers” flew from Albuquerque to Wilmington, Ohio, they didn’t have to go far to reach their new shooting location. The production’s charter flight landed right next to the film set at Clinton County Airpark, a massive complex complete with a 9,000-foot runway and a one million square foot, state-of-the-art shipping facility that would double in the film for parts of the interior of the iconic Helicarrier.

• The famous battle cry in the comic book, “Avengers Assemble!” is a call to arms for members of the team to fight “the foes no single superhero can withstand.” During production, Chris Evans (Captain America) borrowed the famous command to gather up his fellow cast members when he sent out text messages to them to come together for a night on the town in Albuquerque after a long, hard week of work on the production.

• Shooting in Central Park is never easy, but what about when you put the entire cast of the film at Bethesda Fountain on Labor Day weekend? The cast, crew and filmmakers got to find out firsthand as thousands of onlookers gathered to see something that held the attention of even the most hardened New Yorker—the entire cast of “Marvel’s The Avengers” in costume, including Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in their Asgardian finery. For the actors in the film it would be the first time they were all on set together in over a month and also the last time they would be shooting together. For director Joss Whedon the challenge was to keep his cast focused. “It was like a circus crossed with a class reunion,” laughs the director. “Paparazzi and fans were everywhere and the cast was so happy to see each other, talk and catch up because they enjoyed hanging out together.”

• The film’s second unit shot a chase sequence in Worthington, Pennsylvania, at Creekside Mushroom LTD, the former home to World Famous Moonlight® brand Mushrooms. Creekside was the world’s largest mushroom-growing facility and the only underground mushroom farm in the United States. For the production, shooting at the facility meant gaining access to the 150 miles of tunnels 300 feet below the ground. Without power, prepping the tunnels for the chase sequences that involved Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) took months—but it all paid off with spectacular results.

• With so many fight sequences in the film, many of the actors, including Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, participated in extensive fight training with the stunt team. Cast members trained with fight choreographer Jonathan Eusebio. Renaming the gym the “Stunt Dojo,” Eusebio and his team trained the cast in different fighting styles, including medieval fighting techniques, Wushu, Kung Fu and Kali.

• For three weeks, the production shut down East 9th Street in Downtown Cleveland to prep and shoot one of the larger action sequences. It was the talk of the town for months and attracted thousands of curious onlookers, who watched the street transform from empty buildings to a bustling New York City street complete with subway stop and popular storefronts with facades. The production design was so convincing that rumors circulated about new stores opening on the street.

• Another challenge for the production design team was transforming Cleveland’s historic Public Square into an exterior location that would double for Stuttgart, Germany. The production changed words on the facades of the buildings to German and added a ”biergarten” to the square. Local workers in the area loved the changes and hoped the upgrades to the square (new flowers, plants, picnic tables and lampposts) would stay in place after filming was completed.

• Despite being a secure location that only cast and crew members could access, one fan’s persistence caught the eye of “The Avengers” cast and crew at the Airpark set in Wilmington, Ohio, when she made a big poster-board sign welcoming the cast to the city and requesting that the actors autograph a T-shirt that was in a bag. The sign was such a hit with the company that they passed it to the set. Filmmakers were able to contact the fan and she was given a tour of the set, an “Avengers” crew hat, a meet and greet with director Joss Whedon and, of course, the cast’s autographs on the T-shirt she had placed by the sign. It truly was a day to remember for one lifelong Marvel fan.

• Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Tom Hiddleston was not exposed to American sports, but that all changed during production as he was able to watch a Cleveland Browns preseason football game on the sidelines, attend a Cleveland Indians game, throw out the first pitch, and be courtside at the US Open to watch several matches.

• In shooting one of the bigger action sequences in the film, director Joss Whedon enlisted the help of 25 members of the Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion to be part of the scene in which New York City is being attacked by unknown forces. The troops were brought in to add a layer of authenticity and give the combat scenes realism. And realism is exactly what the MPs delivered with their 50-caliber machine guns and Mark-19s. The film crew was blown away by their firepower and teamwork and Whedon was also impressed and appreciative as he posed for pictures with the Battalion after the scene was completed.

• For special effects to pull off the destruction of a New York City street, special effects supervisor Dan Sudick involved precision pyrotechnics and well-timed car gags so that the production’s stunt people could safely maneuver through the explosions and flipping cars. To pull off the large pyrotechnic event, Sudick and his team rigged 28 explosions, which went off in a wave fashion down the street to simulate an air attack. The sequence also included setting up 14 cars down the middle of the street, which included ‘cannon cars,’ ‘flipper cars,’ ‘pyro’ cars as well as a big semi truck that exploded. Sudick and his team pulled off the impressive sequence without a hitch and even though it was shot on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland, it still made the cover of the New York Post with the headline: “Save us, Thor!”
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Friday, May 04, 2012

The Avengers

On the way over to the theater my husband smiles and I ask him why. He says, "Sometimes I just can't believe that my wife likes superhero movies."

He was only a little wrong. I love superhero movies. Always have. I blame the old Batman show (Pow! Bam!) and the Spiderman segment on The Electric Company. And don't forget the weekly Saturday morning dose of The Justice League (complete with The Wonder Twins). It's rare for me to miss a superhero movie.

So when I heard about The Avengers-- which has five superheroes instead of just one-- I knew I had to see it. I was super excited to get the chance to see it early, so that I could share my thoughts on the movie with you here.

So let me tell you it was entertaining, start to finish. It's got a really good bad guy. And a few battle scenes that just leave you scratching your head over how real they looked. And Robert Downey Jr of course tends to steal the show because he's, well, Tony Stark, and that's what he does. But I have to say that Mark Ruffalo does a great job at playing the misunderstood and misinterpreted Hulk just trying to quietly wander the earth alone. All in all, it's just a fun movie.

If you are like me and haven't seen all the movies that feed into this one, we hadn't seen them all and we were able to follow along fine. They do a good job of giving you enough backstory to follow.

And if you are wondering about taking your kids to see it, I will say we are letting our sons go (ages 19, 15, and 10). There is some language. There is also violence but no blood. So make your decisions accordingly. We went with the mindset that if it wasn't appropriate we would not let our kids see it, and we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to tell our kids yes. (Of course they were thrilled.)

Hope this helps those of you who are thinking about seeing the movie. Here's the synopsis:

Marvel Studios presents “Marvel’s The Avengers”—the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston, with Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, directed by Joss Whedon, from a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon with screenplay by Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effects, when “Marvel’s The Avengers” assemble in summer 2012.

Tomorrow I will share some Avengers fun facts!
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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Do You Love A Bargain? An Interview

Luv a Bargain

I met my friend Sherri Hagymas the first year I was married. She lived across the breezeway from our apartment and we became fast friends, never anticipating that years (and years!) later, we'd both be blogging moms. She now blogs about saving money from her home in New Hampshire (a far cry from Raleigh NC, where we met!). And of course I blog here. I asked her to come and share about her blog-- how she got started and what she hopes to accomplish through it. If you need some help in that department, read on!

1. How did you start helping people find ways to save money?

I have had a love of saving money for years and years. Like many, I began my website as a hobby in April 2009. I had fun sharing my bargain finds with anyone I could. I started mainly with coupons and matching them with weekly sales ads at the drugstores and also my local grocery stores. I also found Freebie offers because that's just fun!

As the holiday season rolled around that year, I decided to share many deals to save and shop on a budget. That had a great response too. So I have continued to post a little of everything.

2. Has saving money been a personal journey for you?

Absolutely! I, like many people, had to learn the hard way. I did misuse credit cards when I was younger. I lived in the mindset that I HAD to have this or that. When I became a single mom of an 18 month old I was thrown into "survival mode". I think that's when my personal journey truly began. I had to make things work with very little help. I worked hard and had an immense appreciation for the money I earned. I paid off almost $10,000 in credit card debt in a 2 year period (which I am extremely proud of).

I was fortunate to marry a wonderful man in 2000 and after having our daughter in 2003 we decided I would become a stay-at-home mom. What a blessing! But also a huge sacrifice. I am just an average mom, just like a lot of my readers, trying to make ends meet each month. I have two active children and a new 16 year old driver...thus more insurance. Saving everywhere I can makes it easier during these new seasons.

In my opinion, once you live a frugal lifestyle it becomes a part of you and it's makes you proud.

3. How has your website/Twitter grown or changed since you started?

Luv a Bargain has continued to grow and grow and it's been fun to watch. I currently have over 8,200 Twitter followers and almost 2,200 Facebook Fans. I love to hear from readers how they are learning to save. It makes me feel so good to know I am helping.

4. How do you discover deals to pass on?

I get a LOT of emails. I have subscribed to lots of stores and daily deal sites and get emails of sales, etc. I spend every morning going through them and the best deals to post for everyone. I "Like" many Facebook pages to stay on top of those offers. I am also an affiliate with companies that email me directly special deals to offer my readers. I also now collaborate with other frugal bloggers and share deals with each other. Not every deal is going to be for everyone so I want to have many options.

5. What would you tell a woman who desires to save money for her family?

First and foremost, have a budget! It's imperative to have a plan. Not only for groceries but also for gift giving, etc. Have a list of those you need to buy for all year and carry it around in your purse. When you see a great deal on something, think about who you could buy for on that list. You do not need to pay full price for your gift to be appreciated. Aim for 75% off and always 50% off!! That's what I live by.

Second, have fun! It's a quest to find the best prices and save the most you can. Getting items for FREE or paying pennies for toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and so much more is so exciting!

Learn to make things and do things yourself. I have made my daughter a bed. I have tiled my own bathrooms and kitchen backsplash. I have updated and re-purposed items in my house to make them new to me.

Re-evaluate household bills every year: car Insurance, home owners insurance, cable, etc. I just did this actually and saved us almost $75 per month. I look at that as making us an extra $75 per month.

Of course, there will be times when you will have to pay full price. Don't be upset. But overall, living a frugal lifestyle pays off SO much!

Here are a few posts that will help anyone who is getting started.

How to Start Using Coupons -

Getting Started Cutting Your Grocery Budget -



Thanks Sherri for sharing with us today! I am sure you'll have some new visitors after this enticing glimpse into what you offer! It sounds like you're helping a lot of people and I am so proud of you!
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

It's Wednesday!

Don't forget to check out She Reads! Last week I wrote a post on the many wonderful WWII novels are out there. If you love that period in history, take a look at these unique offerings-- each one with a slant or angle that provides a different view of something you only think you know. Also, it's a new month which means we are announcing our book selection. This month's is a totally different book than last. We've got a book that will make you laugh and make you think-- my favorite kind!

And today is my posting day at Southern Belle View! We are always discussing something fun on the porch, and this week our theme is Sweet Southern Summer. We're anticipating the lazy, hazy days of summer-- and we're sharing the recipes we love to serve when summer rolls around. Hope you'll come find some new favorites. Who doesn't love to find a new recipe? I can't wait to see what my sassy Belle friends have to share!
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Tuesday, May 01, 2012


It is the inventorying that wearies me. The constant checking for what we need, what we're running low on, what we might have to have that no one is even thinking about today-- bug bite cream or dog shampoo, allergy medication or duct tape. When they reach for it, it should be there.

If you take a look at the list on the left, you'll see several different handwritings represented. Some of it is basic stuff: Comet, bread, mustard. Some of it is wishful stuff: new pencils, popsicles. (Check out the spelling-- cute!) But all of it is up to me to keep track of. I have trained my family (for the most part) to at least write it down when they use the last of it (progress!) and my husband will do the Target or grocery store run when I need him to. But it falls under my job description to know whether or not we need toilet paper. Whether the children's obscure project materials have been obtained. Whether we have ibuprofen on hand for the next headache.

(And yes, that little box the woman is holding says "You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me." I paid $9 on impulse for that little notepad because I knew it would make me smile. And I need to smile more when I am taking inventory, though I'm still not sure the $9 was worth it.)

I'd like to have some big point to all of this-- some huge spiritual analogy I can draw for you. But that would be forcing it and I'm just not up to that. I can tell you this: I'm trying to have a better attitude about the inventorying. I'm trying to look at how blessed I am to have children to buy tissue boxes for projects on our state, M&M's for the favors at yet another kindergarten party, and the neverending items for lunch boxes. I'm trying to smile as I write down "juice boxes" yet again. And I'm trying to count it all joy when I walk in a grocery store or Target for the third time in as many days. Because I have the means to purchase what we need, and I live in a country where those items are readily available. I'm not perfect at it. I still get grumpy when I find out that somehow we are out of bread and it is a school morning and there are more kids needing sandwiches than there are slices of bread in the bag.

But then I remember that it all works out, somehow. And we get what we need, our daily bread, our manna. And while the job of keeping track of it all does weigh on me at times, it's the job I most wanted to do when I dreamed of my adult life. I might not have anticipated the inventorying, but I did anticipate the blessings. I just have to count those, even as I count how many bandaids are left in the box, how many rolls of paper towels are on the shelf, and how many ponytail holders are scattered around the house.
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