Thursday, September 29, 2011

Early Christmas Treat

I teamed up with Trish Perry to write the generational anthology Love Finds You on Christmas Morning. My novella, “Deck the Halls,” is set in 1925, and Trish’s novella, “’Tis the Season,” is contemporary. I think you’ll find our connected stories enjoyable and uplifting.

Deck the Halls

In 1925, the wealthy William Tronnier becomes smitten with the lovely but penniless Lillian Pickard. Not one to give up easily, William pursues Lillian even though she does everything in her power to resist falling in love with a man from a completely different social class. As Christmas descends on the picturesque town of Cary, North Carolina, William plans to make Lillian a proposal she can’t refuse.

‘Tis the Season

When Nikki Tronnier moves back home to Cary, North Carolina, she plans to fulfill a lifelong dream and buy back the family home built by her great-grandfather for his bride. But before she is able to make an offer, someone else buys the house! Just as she’s preparing for a fight, Nikki meets the handsome new owner, Drew Cornell, who wants her help restoring the home to its historic beauty in time for Christmas.

Bonus Treat

Trish and I decided to include a recipe that has been passed down through the generations of our characters. We hope you enjoy baking, eating, and sharing the shortbread cookies and bars. Look for the recipe between the two stories.

Look for Love Finds You on Christmas Morning wherever books are sold including the following places:
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million

My friend Trish Perry is an award-winning, multi-published author of novels, short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry for both Christian and general markets. Trish has two grown children and one grandson. Visit her website at


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update Your Wardrobe for Less

Photo by Kevinrosseel on

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Every season, designers come out with must-haves that send many of us scurrying to the store to make sure we look current. I have to admit that I’ve wasted way more money than I should have on purchases that only lasted a single season. Over time, I’ve learned how to stay current without recklessly spending money that can go toward something more permanent.

The key is to start with a basic wardrobe filled with quality pieces that won’t go out of style. Then each season, add trendy items that complement what you already have. Rather than discard your entire wardrobe, you’ll replace just a few pieces, ultimately saving money, while being as stylish as ever.

Basic Wardrobe

Start with a basic wardrobe in your favorite neutrals and accent colors. I have pants in several basic colors—black, brown, navy, olive, and khaki. Add tank tops, T-shirts, and a white button-front shirt that make good standalone or layering pieces. A dress or two that can be worn alone or with a sweater or jacket will add more looks to your wardrobe. Two or three blazers, a cardigan, and a vest will help you mix and match for a variety of outfits. Other pieces you may want to add to your basic wardrobe over time include a trench coat, jeans, shorts, and capris. If you have a frequent need to dress more formally, you may want to have a long black skirt that can be paired with different tops and jackets.


Accessories can pull together an outfit and take it from blah to exciting, fun, and glamorous. Swapping out your pearls for a chunky necklace gives your outfit a completely different look. Try on various accessories with your basic wardrobe to maximize your trendiness.

One of the biggest trends over the past several years has been accessorizing with scarves. Pick up a few rectangular and square scarves in your favorite accent colors and learn different ways to tie them.

Add trendy belts to change up your outfit. Wear skinny belts in layers with your favorite dress or layer a tank top, white button-front shirt, and a candy-colored wide belt for accent and a fresh new look.

Necklaces are the perfect pieces to fill in the frame created by a scoop neckline or V-neck top. Choose trendy pieces that are flattering to your skin tone.

Wear a single bracelet or stack several for more drama to get the current look without spending your entire paycheck. The arm will be the focal point, regardless of what else you’re wearing.

A cute, fashionable handbag can make the plainest outfit come alive. Carry an animal embossed leather bag with your black slacks, white top, and jewel-tone blazer for a current look. Or choose a metal mesh bag from Whiting & Davis to show a hint of edgy-glam style.

A new pair of shoes may be all you need to update your wardrobe. Look for the latest shoe fashions at discount sites such as Zappos or BlueFly.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Treat Your Skin

Photo by Anitapatterson on

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 4:7

You can save money and treat your skin to cleansers, toners, and moisturizers made from ingredients you already have on hand. It’s also nice to know what you’re putting on your skin. Priscilla Slater, the main character in my upcoming Class Reunion series, would approve.

Homemade Facials

I’ve always enjoyed doing facial masks because they leave my face feeling clean, smooth, and hydrated. Here are some healthy mask ideas with products you probably already have:

Mix an egg with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice. Spread the mixture over your face and allow it to dry. Rinse it off with warm water, pat dry, and moisturize.

Pulverize a cucumber in your food processor and spread the paste over your face. Lie down for ten minutes and relax with slices of cucumber over your eyes. Rinse with cool water, pat dry, and moisturize.

Run ¼ cup of oatmeal through your food processor until finely ground. Add ½ cup of plain yogurt. Spread the mixture over your face and relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water, pat dry, and moisturize.

Soothe Sunburn

I know it’s not a good idea to expose my unprotected skin to the sun long enough to get a sunburn, but sometimes it just happens. This is why I like to keep aloe vera gel on hand. After rinsing my face with cool water, I spread a light layer of aloe on my face and allow it to dry before applying makeup.

I’ve heard that a mixture of tomato juice and buttermilk can also soothe sunburned skin. I’ve never tried it, but if I did, I would leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing with cool water.

Prevent Sun Damage

The best way to protect your skin from being sun damaged is to use sunscreen with the highest SPF you can handle. Don’t forget to protect your ears. One of the worst sunburns I ever had was on one of my ears. I’d covered my face with sunscreen, but I didn’t even think about my ears being exposed. And remember that even your head can get sunburned, so if you don’t want to have clumpy or oily hair from sunscreen, wear a hat. Add sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Egg photo by duboix on

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Easy Peasy Money-Saving Tips

Photo by imelenchon on

She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31:16

With the sluggish economy and tight budgets so many of us have to face, I thought it would be appropriate to kick off the “Good Life” angle of my blog with simple ways to save money. You might find that this is all you need to make ends meet, or it may just barely put a dent in a budget that needs even more squeezing. Whatever the case, most of these ideas are pain-free. And the bonus is you'll have more money left to buy books by your favorite authors.


This is a no-brainer, and most people have heard of others who manage to save half or more of their grocery bill. Where can you find coupons? Look in your Sunday newspaper, and you’ll find some from national companies and local grocery stores. Another place to look is online. Some of these places require you to sign up with your email address, while others offer unconditional couponing just for the taking.
Here are some websites that offer coupons to download and print:

Coupon Cabin


Do a personal audit of your utility use and find places to cut. Most power companies are willing to come to your home and determine where you’re wasting money and how you can save. Other places you might be able to cut include phone lines, gas for heating (close the vent in rooms that aren’t used), water (wash larger loads and only run the dishwasher when it’s full). If you can cut each utility bill by 10%, you’ll feel the difference at the end of the month.

Cell Phone Service

Evaluate how much time you talk and text on your cell phone and compare services. When it’s time to renew the contract with your cell phone carrier, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best plan for you and your family. Don’t overlook the option of having prepaid. If you don’t use all the minutes you’re allowed on your plan that might actually be the best option.


When you’re due to renew your auto or homeowners’ insurance, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best value. Rates change, and most insurance companies know that people tend to stick with what they have.


Whether you’re in the market to buy a new(er) car or fix the one you have, shop around. Prices for cars, tires, and maintenance can vary considerably from one place to the next. Do an Internet search for used cars in your area before heading out, and you’ll be in a better position to negotiate the price.

Dining Out

Eating out can be expensive if you’re not careful. Before you leave your house, look for sales, specials, and coupons in your local newspaper. Purchase Entertainment books for hundreds of buy-one-get-one-free meals. Register with Groupon and Living Social for some of the best bargains out there.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Introduction to the Good Life

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I’ve decided to change the focus of my blog to living the good life. This has nothing to do with being wealthy, popular, or gorgeous. It’s all about taking what you have and turning it into something sweet from a Christian worldview. As a novelist, I've found that most of my books have a sense of community and quality over quantity of life.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

My plans for this blog include ways to find time for regular worship—and not just on Sunday mornings. As we go through each day, we need to be cognizant of the Lord’s presence and acknowledge Him openly and with a humble spirit.

I’ll explore some of my other interests, including family, healthy meal ideas, general health, fitness, fashion, family budget, aging gracefully, home decorating, social events, party ideas, and saving money. I plan to show ideas and ways to work from home and tips for finding jobs. Of course, I don’t personally have all the answers, but I do have some friends who are experts in various fields, and I won’t hesitate to ask for advice that I can share on my blog.

Although everyone is different, there are some basic things most of us have in common—the need for acceptance, the desire for love, and hope for the future. The Lord has provided all these things. Living the good life means accepting the gifts He offers and making Him an integral part of your life. As a fiction writer, I explore the depths of human nature to create a story. On this blog, I hope to find ways to help people understand their real human needs and find true joy.

But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
Deuteronomy 7:8-9 (NIV)

I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother, and I love to brag about my family, so you’re likely to see some of that here—but I’ll try not to overdo it. As a published novelist and nonfiction writer, I do tons of research. I plan to share some of what I learn here. Of course, I’ll also announce my books as they’re released, and the themes of my stories will show up in some of my blog posts.

I look forward to sharing and hearing from people who follow my blog. If you have questions, ideas, or simply want to send me a private message, email me at If you have something to share, please post it here.