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Today is the first day of a brand new year….

284809_10200385547227776_1800968892_nJanuary 1. The first day of a new year. A day where the year stretches before, bright and sparkling- where the idea of resolutions seem 100% do-able. Here’s my main thought for 2013: Do the best I can. Maybe some of my resolutions will pan out. Maybe some won’t. Maybe the year will be filled with happiness and joyous moments. Maybe it won’t. I’m going to try to make each day a “super-sparkly” day and go from there.

My resolutions:

1. Read more.

2. Travel More.

3. Work on photography skills.

4. Meet some personal goals.

5. Blog more- maybe create a Traveling With T Facebook page,  review more books for publishers/authors, and be able to attend more book events.

6. Meet more people who share my interests: painting and reading.

7. Attend more fun events: Broadway-type shows, baseball games, concerts.

However you chose to spend your 2013- I hope that it’s a fantastic year!

Happy Reading!

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Good-bye 2012, Hello 2013!

IMG_9604Here’s to a Happy New Year’s Eve- and a Happy New Year! Saying good-bye to 2012, and hello to 2013. Whatever your plans to ring in the New Year(whether it’s staying in or partying like it’s 1999!) have a fun and safe NYE.

So, grab some bubbly, make a toast and have fun tonight- and all of 2013.

Happy Reading,

Traveling With T

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Liebster Blog Award..

LiebsterI was nominated for Liebster Blog Award by The Book Wheel– a cute book blog! Do the right thing and check out the blog- it’s fun, informative, and just great.

To receive the Liebster Blog Award, you must follow the rules:

  1. Post 11 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions given by the blogger who nominates you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers for the award and make sure to notify them.
  4. Write 11  new questions for the bloggers you are nominating (you can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you)
  5. Claim the Liebster Award picture for your blog

Random Facts About Me

  1. I like movies as much as I like to read books (and I love watching the previews for the new movies!)
  2. I’m a soap-opera fan- specifically Days of Our Lives.
  3. Wayne Newton sent my table a bottle of champagne when we were at his show.
  4. I love pedicures-  brightly colored nail polish is a fav.
  5. Taking pictures is a hobby of mine.
  6. I adore going to book signings.
  7. Sitting on the beach- watching the waves crash in, feeling the sun & sand on my feet is one of the best feelings ever.
  8. I have been known to sing in a hairbrush while getting ready to go out.
  9. I’ve never been kissed under the mistletoe.
  10. I can’t whistle, wink or blow bubbles with gum.
  11. Orange Crush is one of my favorite drinks.

The Book Wheel’s Questions for Me

  1. What song is your “soundtrack” to life? I love so many songs- but the 2 that I like the most- the ones I play when I’m excited or need a pick me up is: Searching my Soul by Vonda Shepherd and So Much Better by Legally Blonde the Musical Cast.
  2. If you could meet any literary figure or author, who would it be and why? Literary figure: Kinsey Milhone (Sue Grafton novels)- because Kinsey is smart, takes no crap from anyone- and I would love for her to teach me how to pick a lock and then us to get a Quarter Pounder with Cheese afterwards.. Authors: Ann M. Martin (The Babysitters Club) or Judy Blume- because both of those women inspired my love in reading. They wrote about characters that I could relate to and lose myself in their books.
  3. What is your favorite book of all time? Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.
  4. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Parasailing 🙂 And I had my tarot cards read once! (I don’t do a lot of crazy things!)
  5. What is the one thing you can’t live without? Music- love to listen to music.
  6. If you were to change your name, what would it be and why? Lauren- it’s a pretty name & the name of Reese Witherspoon’s character in This Means War.
  7. What is your biggest pet peeve? People that cancel plans at last minute.
  8. E-Reader or books? Actually, I like both. At this point- the price determines the format.
  9. Name one of your guilty pleasures. Watching Gossip Girl while snacking on butterfinger blast.
  10. What is your ideal dream job?   A publicist or Being a beach bum/surf shop owner.
  11. Are you allergic to anything? Cats

My 11 Questions to Other Bloggers

  1. What’s the first book you read?
  2. If you could be any character, who would you pick?
  3. What would be the first thing you would buy if won the lottery?
  4. Favorite color?
  5. Would you ever have a psychic reading?
  6. If you found a genie in a bottle, what would your 3 wishes be?
  7. What is your favorite drink?
  8. Was your first kiss everything you wanted or a let-down?
  9. Name one place you feel the most comfortable in.
  10. Favorite book of 2012?
  11. Most anticipated (in your opinion) book of 2013?

My Nominees

Man Vs Books Club

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The History of Us by Leah Stewart

13547493The History of Us by Leah Stewart tackles some hard truths in my opinion. It speaks of choices- choices to be who you want to be, choices to have a career- to being sucessful. It also tackles the topic of when a “choice” is not really a choice. Do you give up everything you’ve worked hard for to do the “right” thing- espeicially it it’s something that you never wanted? Or do you put yourself- dreams, goals, career- above it all?

Eloise, a young professor at Harvard, is late for her class. Right before she’s about to go into her class, she gets a phone call that changes everything in her life. Her niece, Theo, has called- Eloise’s sister, Rachel and her husband have died. As quickly as Eloise can, she hurries back to Cincinnati to see what needs to be done in regard to the death of her sister. What Eloise finds is a form of chaos- her own mother not able to take care of the 3 kids that Rachel has left behind in the world. Eloise makes the necessary, but tough choice that she’ll move back to Cincinnati, take over care for the kids, and try to ensure that they have a happy and productive life.

Years later, Eloise is still watching over the kids. Still has her life on hold. She still dreams of work at a more prestigious university, publishing more, being able to live her life the way she wants. The house they live in needs much up-keep- she’s ready to have a smaller place. With the kids being grown up, it seems time is right for some changes. Francine, Eloise’s mother, promised to turn the deed to the house to her once the last kid is grown up so that Eloise can do with the house what she needs.

However, the best laid plans do not always happen. Francine does not give the deed to Eloise as promised. The story from this point on becomes a story of the life of the 3 children- Theo, Josh and Claire. The disappointments they feel, how they’ve grown into adults, the ways they still are children. At the heart of the story is two things: Choices and at what point do people become responsible for their own happiness? At what point does a person put their energy into making the life they have been living the life they want- instead of thinking about past dreams and things that cannot be changed?

The History of Us– smartly written characters, characters  that can be identified with, situations that make the reader laugh and cry. This book has the writing to evoke emotion- happiness, sadness, even anger at some of the events. Read this, discuss with friends, take some time to think about this book, the plot and the characters.  This is a book that the reader does not just read and put aside to never think of again. This is a book that has content that begs to be discussed, to be analyzed.

I highly recommend this book for fans of fiction, books about families, and good stories. Thank you Touchstone Books for providing a review copy.

 

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Meeting Peggy Sweeney-McDonald…

68402_10100532162538866_1639191985_nI had the opportunity to meet Peggy Sweeney- McDonald, author of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde, a couple of weeks ago. Peggy created a dinner party show that was also called Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde. In the show, different “foodies” would come and discuss the stories about their love of food, favorite dishes and more. Some of the guests are seriously famous, others are more of local legends. But food is the common denominator amongst these people- they love food- the taste, smell, stories- love how food unites people and creates memories. From the show came the idea of the book. A fantatsic coffee-table book filled with stories from the who-who’s in the food world to the local legends.

Peggy was a charming, fun lady- filled with laughter and fun stories. Listening to her talk, I could have sat with her for some time just to hear the stories, the experiences- she’s like the ultimate cocktail hostess- makes everyone feel comfortable, keeps people laughing and makes the time just fly by.

I’m about halfway finished with my copy of Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde– and it’s just chock-full of good stories and pictures. It’s a perfect coffee table book- a perfect conversation starter.

For readers curious about the title- Peggy’s dad filled me in while she was talking to another couple. He said that Cafe Du Monde had played such a big role in Peggy’s life- it was a hang-out, a place to visit- a place to enjoy good food. The story continues that Peggy and others would gather at Cafe Du Monde and talk stories, and then clink glasses together and say “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde”- hence the name of the book. Peggy later told me that each person has a story- and your story may not be about Cafe Du Monde- but “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde” is representative of the good food and stories- no matter where they originate.

Now, my own personal “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde” story. A few weeks ago, Deep South Magazine was giving away a signed copy of Peggy Sweeney- McDonald’s book, Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde. To potentially win a copy- you were to share your Cafe Du Monde story. I shared mine and Peggy picked mine as the winner.

My First trip to New Orleans was an eye-opening experience. I went with my boyfriend and his family. His mother was determined that I see the real New Orleans- so while we stood in line at Cafe Du Monde for what appeared to me as minitature funnel cakes, I was unsure if this was worth the wait in line. However, once I took a bite out of the powdery sugar goodness- I was a fan. But, my real “Meanwhile Back at Cafe Du Monde” experience  happened a year later. A roommate and I decided to spend our Spring Break in New Orleans. For an entire year- I’d been raving about how the great beignets and we were going to go to Cafe Du Monde. Problem is, I’m directionally challenged. So we left our hotel in search of Cafe Du Monde. And Walked. And Walked. And Walked. My roommate sees a Krispy Kreme and says “Let’s stop here- I’m hungry and a Krispy Kreme is got to be as good as Cafe Du Monde”. I turned around and said “NO! We have to find Cafe Du Monde, we must eat beignets- coming down here and settling for Krispy Kreme is like going to the beach and not getting seafood!” Luckily, we found Cafe Du Monde right after that. We walked in and sat down. Ordered our drinks and planned the rest of our day. Then the beignets came out- all beautiful and sugary. My roommate  took a bite and said “You may be directionally challenged, but you sure know good food. I’ll never doubt you about food again.” We ate at Cafe Du Monde multiple times during our Spring Break trip.

 

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Zeke- my “you tell your dog first” dog.

Reading Alison Pace’s book, You Tell Your Dog First, has brought forth a flurry of emotions: happiness, sadness and many more.

Zeke

Alison writes of her love for Carlie and the antics that Carlie finds herself in. I love Carlie. Carlie is a happy little dog, a dog that comes into your heart and make a day seem brighter.However, as I’m reading You Tell Your Dog First– I’m reminded of my own recently deceased dog, Zeke. I try to focus on the good memories, but somedays I’m still beside myself.

While I’ve always had dogs, I learned at an early age that things can happen to dogs (getting hit by vehicles, eating the neighbor’s rat poison, and being dognapped) are just a few of the heartaches I suffered over the years. Then Zeke came into my life. He was my brother’s dog first, but over the years- he became more of my dog. Zeke was a boxer- a beautiful dog. Caramel colored, chocolate-y ears, and white places on his feet. When he loved you, you knew it. A doggy grin that stretched for miles, a bunny hop run when he was happy, leaning on you when he wanted some petting- while Zeke could not talk- he was clear in his requests.

Zeke was also a camera lover- and my personal model for many pictures. He would see my camera and begin to pose- sometimes looking away from the camera in a stoic, yet majestic way. Sometimes smiling that doggy smile. He even liked props- glasses, hats, and other things.

Zeke knew everything. He knew when I was happy, sad, mad, hurt. He knew when I needed to pet him to distract me from worrying or when I needed him to come over for a hug.

While sometimes it may have crossed that mind that I wished Zeke could talk, it was probably best that he could not. As we could have wrote a tell-all book. Not that he would have- becasue that was not in Zeke’s nature. He was protective of me and I was of him.

One day, I’ll have another dog. A dog that I’ll love. A dog that will get multiple pictures taken of. A dog that will have pillows and creature comforts.  But Zeke- Zeke will always be my original “you tell your dog first” dog.

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Good-bye Zeke, Good-bye…. You will be missed.

Zeke

Zeke. My dog. My best friend. Subject of many pictures. Lover of ear-rubs, good brushings, hugs and fluffy pillows. Could smell a fresh pedicure a mile away and would make a bee-line to lick toes. Doggy-grins and perked up ears majority of the time. Color of caramel with chocolate dipped ears.

So excited to see people come home he would do a bunny hop. Ears flopping around, tongue hanging out- he loved and he was loved.

You were (and still are loved). Miss you, Zeke-y boy, miss you. xoxo

 

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Where do you keep your To Be Read pile?

A To Be Read Pile

I’m not super messy. I’m actually organized (mostly). However, if you saw my “to be read” pile- or more accurately my multiple TBR piles- you’d think I was the most disorganized person in the world. Most of my TBR pile is stacked on the floor. Some have made it to my nightstand. Some are near my breakfast nook (I enjoy breakfast and a cup of coffee with a book in the morning- some mornings, anyway.)

A friend just recently gave me a stack of James Patterson books that she’d read and did not want anymore. I took them and made a stack of JP TBR. However, I generally don’t have such luck in having so many of the same author to make little organized stacks.

So spill it- where do you keep your TBR pile? Nightstand? Library? Study?

*It should be noted that in the picture- The Hunger Games series was not on my TBR list at the time- they were just new books (I read THG trilogy on my Kindle).

 

 

 

 

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My brother’s wedding…

Dr.Who Groom Cake

The day was a perfect day. Blue skies, nice temperature. Had been a 30% chance of rain (which was going to be a no-no for a beach wedding), but even that had decreased. The day my little brother became a married man was upon us, and the weather, the people, EVERYTHING was cooperating.

My brother and his beloved exchanged vows beginning at 5:30 pm on that September day. The crowd looked on as they gazed adoringly at each other. When the rings were to be given, the groomsmen looked a bit out of sorts- unbeknownst to the crowd- they had made a plan to do a little theatrical bit with the ring as they handed it from groomsmen to groomsmen- faces were made, “Tebowing” happened, someone pretended to throw it away- but finally, the ring made it to where it rightfully belonged. And seeing my brother and his groomsmen having a good time, that added something to the wedding. Because my brother, while he can be serious, does use humor a lot.

After the wedding, the reception was nice. The DJ played great music, and the bride and groom song was Eric Clapton’s “You Look Wonderful Tonight”. All in all, the wedding was quite a success. And I’m so pleased.

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Life is better when you’re laughing….

Life is Better When You’re Laughing
Photo Credit: Dogeared Jewelry Facebook page

Wise words, my friends. Wise Words. As much as I absolutely adore summer- the sun, swimming, beach, baseball games, tan lines, flip flops, and outdoor gatherings- I’ll admit that there is something about fall that I can appreciate. The pumpkins, the crispness in the air, cooler temperatures, tailgating, state fairs, World Series, new tv shows, curling up with a good book, blanket and a warm drink, the smells of autumn- definitely good things.

No matter the season, laugh as much as you can- laughing is good for the soul.

What are you most looking forward to for the fall season?