Tag Archives: friends

Attitude of Gratitude

I think it’s fair to say that November has been a tough month for most of us. Those of us who are upset by the election results are feeling afraid for the future of our nation and many of its people, while those who are celebrating the results are feeling attacked for exercising their rights. Everyone is pointing the finger at each other and spewing ugly, hateful words. I can’t recall a time in my lifetime where the country has seemed more divided and angry. I can’t speak for anyone else, but none of this puts me in the holiday spirit.

So, I’m taking a page out of my mother-in-law’s book. Since I’ve known her, she has engaged in a nighttime ritual designed to support a positive outlook. Once she’s in bed with the lights out, she reflects upon the day and every event that made her smile or feel grateful, then she settles on her favorite moment of the day and replays it in detail.

My mom's Thanksgiving table.

My mom’s Thanksgiving table.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I’m thinking this is something we might all try to do, even if just for one week. I don’t know that it will help (although my mother in-law is a pretty happy person), but it certainly can’t hurt.

To kick it off, I’m going to list a host of things I’m generally grateful for:

  • My family (the whole messy bunch that brings laughter and tears, as well as challenges and triumphs, into my life). We share an elastic bond of love and history that can’t be broken, no matter how badly it might get stretched at times.
  • My friends and colleagues, who are supportive, thoughtful, and intelligent people that teach me something new every day.
  • My agent and publishing team, who are helping me live out a childhood dream.
  • My “fans,” who read my work and write to me, sharing personal stories and well wishes.
  • My ancestors, who bravely came here from other countries hoping to give their progeny a better life. I hope they know that their sacrifices and courage were well-rewarded.
  • The majority of Americans, who stand together to fight for freedom, justice, and the equality of all, and who are resilient and passionately committed to the betterment of humanity.
  • God, for giving me a healthy mind and body, both of which I try not to waste.

Tonight I will follow my mother-in-law’s lead. I’ll reflect on my day and the specific moments that made me smile. I know waking up to the first snowfall (or dusting) this morning will be one. If the Steelers win today, that might be another. 🙂

I wish you all a very lovely Thanksgiving holiday, and hope that you will be surrounded by family and friends.

XO-Jamie

 

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Halloween: A Snapshot of Budding Character

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the way they handle themselves on the golf course. Does she cheat? Does she throw a fit when things aren’t going well? Does she understand the etiquette? However she plays that game is likely how she handles herself in life, at work, and so on. I think there is some truth to this particular saying, and I’m going to take it a step further.

60514268 - halloween: kids excited to trick or treat

60514268 – halloween: kids excited to trick or treat

You can tell a lot about a kid from watching her on Halloween. First, what costume did she pick? Is that little girl in a princess dress, or a football uniform? Next, does she look you in the eye, smile, and yell “trick or treat,” or does she keep her chin tucked and look back at her adoring mom or dad? Is she alone, with one friend or sibling, or running with a pack of kids? Does she ask “how many” she’s allowed, or just grab as much as her little hands can heft out of the bowl? Does she say “thank you?” or does she thrust her hands in there during someone else’s turn and grab a bunch before running away without ever once acknowledging you or the candy?

Last night I saw a little bit of all of these things. I admit, I get discouraged when I see discourteous children. I wonder how a kid gets to that point, too? Didn’t her parents teach her good manners? I know there’s a whole “anti-sharing” culture out there (schools that cater to that, too, by allowing kids to “save” toys from others even when they aren’t playing with it), so maybe that’s to blame.

A “me first” attitude is a huge turn-off to me, in kids and adults. It seems parents who are against sharing seem to think that, when another kid asks for a turn, then if their kid is expected to share, it is teaching that other kid that they get what they want whenever they want it. That seems to be a really twisted form of logic in my opinion. If anything, teaching your kids they never need to share (even if it is community property, like in a classroom or playground), is teaching YOUR kids that their needs always come first. ICK!!

Sharing is good for everyone. It teaches us to be part of a community. To realize that, if we’re lucky enough to have “more,” we can use that power to help others who have less. Giving is kind, and most people actually feel GOOD when they make someone else happy. Learning that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your needs is also a good thing (which I think sharing promotes rather than destroys). And people who share are much more likely to make friends easily and socialize better than kids who clutch everything for themselves.

What’s your take on all of this?

XO-Jamie

 

12 Months of Beauty Products–August Edition

Everyone welcome Katherine back with her ongoing year of testing the so-called “Beauty Product Top Picks.”

Hard to believe that summer is almost over. While I am sad to see it end, I do look forward to the school year routines. I’m also a sucker for fall clothes, cooler weather, and heavier food. Bring on the sweaters and stews!

If you remember from my prior post, I was looking forward to trying out the Best Lip Balm, ChapStick Total Hydration, and the Best Face Wipes, Simple Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes.

Here are my thoughts on both:

ChapStick Total Hydration.  If you’re looking for total lip care with no color, look no further. Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 1.22.29 PM

The ChapStick Total Hydration is a collection of three flavors (I picked Soothing Oasis) and has one of my favorite ingredients, Shea Butter! To mix things up a little, I shipped this little goodie off to my daughter who was spending a month in Texas at summer camp.

As in 100+ degrees, sunny all day, and no air-conditioning summer camp.

Being outside all day long made her desperate for a good lip balm. I’m pleased to report that, shortly after delivery, a nice little note arrived from my daughter telling me how much she loved the ChapStick. She said it was highly moisturizing and, better yet, long lasting. She reported that it worked great under a lip gloss or lipstick and that her lips felt great all day. ChapStick is a tried-and-true brand and was easy to cart around while doing all of her camp activities. Yay! This will be a staple for the upcoming winter months.

Simple Skincare Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes

Let me first remind you that I was traveling all summer to various lacrosse fields, where I sat for hours in the heat. Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 1.23.47 PMBy the end of each day, my makeup had pretty much melted into my face. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and wipe off my face with these wipes. Not only are they the perfect size to handle my face and neck, but also they are the softest cloths that I have ever used when compared with other drugstore facial towelettes. Second, I loved that they removed all—yes all—of my makeup with very little effort. They even removed all of the sunscreen. My face felt very clean. Bonus: they are fragrance-free, so there is no eye irritation like I have experienced with other towelettes. I will definitely continue to keep these cloths in my travel kit!

Coming up in September.

I’m going to hang on to summer a little longer and give the “Best Body Wash” winner, Nivea Coconut Moisturizing Body Wash, a test. Along with the body wash, I am going to use the “Best Cleanser,” Olay Regenerist Luminous Brightening Foaming Cleanser.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.01.21 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.03.56 PM

Look for my review at the end of September!

Here comes Fall, ya’ll!

XO-Katherine

5 Ways to Usher in Summer Fun

WOO HOO, it’s June! Time to enjoy the good weather. Kids love summer because school is out and every day becomes a “play” day. Adults…not so much. We still have work to do, housework to deal with, and all those other responsibilities that kids don’t realize go hand-in-hand with the alleged “freedom” of being a grown-up.

But being a grown-up doesn’t mean we can’t also make the most out of the summer. We work hard, we deserve a little playtime. Here’s my shortlist of things that should be on everyone’s summer calendar:

  1. Theme Song. Yeah, this is kind of critical. Your summer theme song should be upbeat, catchy, and make you smile. This is the song you’ll crank in the car, or while at the pool or the beach. Your toes should tap of their own volition. It should make you smile. In fact, it should make you want to get up and dance. Mine? DNCE’s Cake by the Ocean. It may have come out last fall, but it is a summer song if I ever heard one.
  2. Farmer’s Market. Local grown fruits and veggies are everywhere, so it is easy to eat healthy. I love strolling through our local farmer’s market and picking out fresh tomatoes and flowers. Mine also has one group that makes the BEST pesto (which, if I pick up fresh mozzarella, basil, and Italian bread, makes one great sandwich). So look around your ‘hood and grab some stuff you can use for item #3.

  3. BBQ. Yep, time to kick off summer by inviting friends over for a casual BBQ. Few things say summer like a grill and eating al fresco. Whether that means burgers, dogs, and corn on the cob, or fancy steaks, is up to you. The key to a successful BBQ is actually the company. So ice down some beer (or white wine) and call your besties!
  4. Summer-Only Recreation. Take advantage of opportunities that can only come around at this time of year (well, at least for those of us who live in the Northeast). I’m talking about drive-in movies (yes, they still exist, although they are few and far between), outdoor summer concert series (we have great ones in Connecticut and New York), and swimming (whether you prefer a pool or a beach).

  5. Beach Books. This is the best time to pick up a few summer romances. Read those smarty-pants book club books some other time. It’s time for “summer lovin’!” Of course, I’d love for Secretly Hers to be on your summer romance reading list, but I’ll also recommend a bunch of other authors you can try:

Heartwarming: Kristan Higgins, Marina Adair, Gail Chianese, Liz Talley, Jeannie Moon, Tamra Baumann, Shelly Alexander, Miranda Liaisson *both Tamra and Jeannie are up for Booksellers Best Awards this year

Spicy: Regina Kyle, Jamie K. Schmidt, Erika Kelly, Megan Ryder *both Regina and Erika are up for Bookseller’s Best Awards this year.

Historical: Julie Anne Long, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Hoyt *(I LOVED EH’s latest, Duke of Sin, and its amoral yet fascinating hero! Such fun). *Julie Anne Long is up for a RITA this year, with It Started with a Scandal…one of my all-time favorite books!

Hopefully this has given you a place to start your summer. I hope you have a great one! If you’ve got a tip or reading recommendation to share, please do!

XO-Jamie

The Joy of Celebrating Romance Readers

I confess, I’m in a great mood despite the fact that snow is falling outside. Yes, snow in April. Needless to say, spring weather in New England is unpredictable. But I digress. My point is that I can deal with the snow because I’m still riding the high from the weekend thanks to dozens of readers, librarians, and bloggers (*waves to Heroes and Heartbreakers*).

The Pond House

The Pond House

On Saturday, my Connecticut Romance Writers of America chapter hosted its first annual “Spring into Romance” luncheon, (which was open to librarians, book sellers, and readers) at The Pond House. When we conceived of the idea months ago, we had no idea whether or not it would work. I admit, at first I had that sick feeling you get when you start to plan a party and wonder whether anyone will show up.

 

 

My beta readers

My beta readers

Luckily, we ended up with 97 guests (including some of our chapter’s authors). Those of us on the board were pleased with that turnout considering this was our first attempt to organize such an event. Our president, Jamie Pope, offered some welcoming remarks, and Kristan Higgins gave a lovely keynote address to the crowd. Spirits were high, I tell you. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that we loosened everyone up with a complimentary cocktail.

The Three Jamies!

The Three Jamies!

Those who came enjoyed a great meal, played a fun trivia game (although my table did not fare so well in this), and mingled with other romance novel lovers, all of whom got to take home a goody bag with free books, frames, wine glasses, and more.

 

 

But while all of that is very fine and made for a pleasant afternoon, what stuck with me was the enthusiasm of so many who were interested in meeting some of their favorite authors.

Authors Kristan Higgins, Erika Kelly and guests

Authors Kristan Higgins, Erika Kelly and guests

I really can’t describe how much having a reader tell you, “I love your books” means to me. It is what makes me sit at this desk day after day. It gets me through reading a less flattering review. It helps me quiet the self-doubt that starts screaming midway through any draft.

 

So, this post, like this past weekend, is my little love note to my readers.

Authors Sadie Hartwell, Katy Lee and guests.

Authors Sadie Hartwell, Katy Lee and guests.

I wish more of you lived in Connecticut so that you could participate in some of the activities my chapter organizes. In lieu of that, I appreciate your participation on my Facebook page, and cherish every single reader email I get (including the ones that tell me what should happen next in a series).

Author Gail Chianese and guests

Author Gail Chianese and guests

 

 

I know I speak on behalf of my chapter and all of my writing friends when I say that you, dear readers, are the reason we keep writing. Thank you for spending your time with our stories!

xo-Jamie