15 Great Books for Francophiles

Some of these are historical fiction, some are modern-day fiction and some are autobiographies. ENJOY!

  1. The Baker’s Secret: a Novel – Stephen P Kiernan
  2. Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War – Jennifer Robson
  3. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
  4. The Lilac Girls – Martha Hall Kelly
  5. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  6. A Paris Apartment: A Novel – Michelle Gable
  7. The Paris Effect: A Novel – K.S.R.Burns
  8. Paris Ever After: A Novel – K.S.R. Burns
  9. Thirty-five Minutes From St. Tropez – Jane Dunning
  10. Stolen Summer: Sequel to Thirty-five Minutes From St. Tropez – Jane Dunning
  11. The Paris Effect – Michelle Moggio
  12. My Good Life In France – Janine Marsh
  13. My Grape Year – Laura Bradbury
  14. Uncorked – Paul Shore
  15. One Sip at a Time – Keith Van Sickle

Anxiety Apps?

Seriously? An app for your phone to help you relieve your anxiety? Sometimes my phone is the cause of anxiety.   The last thing I think about doing is pulling out my phone to help me relax.

I was driving  and talking, to one of my kids, on the phone, because of course one must be available at all times. We are having a fairly serious conversation. Another one of my kids calls and I ignore it, 1. because of the seriousness of my current call and 2. because I have not yet mastered the art of putting a call on hold, answering another call, then going back to the original call, without loosing both calls.  Anyway, kid #2 calls back again and yet again. Since I am not answering the call, kid #2 texts me. So, while I am having a conversation with #1, my phone is buzzing, vibrating, and dinging in my ear, causing me some anxiety. Ring in kid #3.  #3 calls once and then an unknown number is calling. Still not answering but having a hard time carrying on my conversation with #1. Someone has left a voicemail, someone is calling, someone is texting, my phone is buzzing, vibrating, dinging, and now chiming. I want to throw  my phone out the window, not pull up an app to help me manage all of this anxiety.

I’m sticking with some tried and true techniques to reduce my anxiety.

Practice observing (your thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations) with compassion, and without judgment.

  • “Is this worry realistic?
  • What is the likelihood of this really happening?
  • What if something bad does happen?
  • If the worst happens, what would be so bad about that?
  • Could I handle that?
  • Is this really true or does it just seem that way?


Look around you:
Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.                                                                                              Or

Find 5 things of different colors, name their five colors. Like: Brown chair, white table, green couch, red walls, blue box. Brown, white, green, red, blue. Repeat them in your head or say it out loud if you prefer.

Deep breathing

Slowly inhale a normal amount of air through your nose, filling your lower lungs. Then exhale slowly through your mouth.  Continue this gentle breathing pattern with a relaxed attitude. Concentrate on filling only the lower lungs.

Sit comfortably. Take a long, deep breath and exhale it slowly while saying the word “relax” silently. Close your eyes. Let yourself take ten natural, easy breaths. Count down with each exhale, starting with “ten. This time, while you are breathing comfortably, notice any tensions, perhaps in your jaw or forehead or stomach. Imagine those tensions loosening. When you reach “one,” open your eyes again.

Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Release your breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8. Without a break, breathe in again for a count of 4, repeating the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity.

If the phone app idea does appeal to you, here are some you can check out:




Wine, Wags & Whiskers

Last week some co-workers and I attended an event hosted by the Humane Society for Hamilton County (Indiana).  The Hamilton County Humane Society  is  Indiana’s only open admission, truly no-kill shelter.  Their Mission statement is :

We believe in second chances … and third … and fourth … In fact, we believe every adoptable animal deserves every chance at finding a forever home. That’s why we operate as Indiana’s only open admission truly no-kill shelter. Any animal that can be saved, rehabilitated, or treated is never euthanized. That’s our promise to them… and to you. After all, one of them may be your soul mate.

The event featured wine tasting from a number of local wineries, a silent auction, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and a specialty cocktail, the Pawsmopoltian. Three very special wines were also available, Tinki’s “Ain’t no Stray” Chardonnay,  Ralph’s Chianti Kid and Z’Ann-Gria.   100% of the proceeds benefited the shelter.  In attendance were some adorably adoptable pets including Tiger Lily,  Ebony, Boo Radley, and Charlotte. A good time was had by all.

Some upcoming events include Paws for a Cause 5-K, and the 6th Annual Ruff & Ride in support of Pets Healing Vets.  To learn more about the Humane Society for Hamilton County (Indiana) see their Facebook page or web site at  www.hamiltonhumane.com.  Wherever you are, check out shelters in your area. Adopt and/or donate, help some fur babies find their forever home.





Stay in your hula hoop

Do you worry about what people think of you? Do you tend to take on the problems of friends and family?  Do you just want everybody to get along, so you do everything you can to make that happen?  Well, you need to stay in your own hula hoop!

What’s in your hula hoop? Your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions, your decisions. These are the things you can control. You are the only one in charge of what’s in your hula hoop.  Stay in your hula hoop.

What is not in your hula hoop? Everything else.  It’s not your business to worry about what others think, or feel about you. Those things are not in your hula hoop. If someone gets mad because you say “no”; it’s not your problem. It’s not in your hula hoop. Keep others out of your hula hoop.

You also need to stay out of others people’s hula hoops.  You cannot control the thoughts, feelings or emotions of anyone else. You can’t fix their problems. You can’t make them be someone they aren’t. Trying to fix their drama is a waste of your time and energy.  Stay out of other’s hula hoop.

I have a hula hoop hanging on my wall to remind me to stay in my hula hoop.  It takes practice, lots and lots of practice. I’m practicing right now.




Continue reading

Some of my favorite author’s books and my reviews of those books

Thirty Five Minutes From St Tropez  by Jane Dunning

I really enjoyed this book.  I felt like I was wandering in the French countryside. It is full of colorful characters that you will come to love. I didn’t want it to end, lucky for me there is a sequel. Next up…Stolen Summer!

Stolen Summer: Sequel to Thirty Five Minutes to St Tropez  by Jane Dunning

Was happy to read the continuing saga of the Ferguson family. Very descriptive and good character development!

The Paris Effect by K.S.R. Burns

Wonderful read! Love, heart-break, grief, humor, friendship and surprise. This book has it all and it takes you on more than one adventure. I can’t wait to see what’s next in Paris Ever After.

Paris Ever After by K.S.R. Burns

Having never been to Paris, I drank in the quirks and little secrets of the City of Lights. The characters and the many twists and turns kept me interested to the last page. Sit down with some coffee, some Parisian Madeleines (bonus – the recipe is in this book) and enjoy the read.

The Paris Effect by Michelle Moggio

Loved this book. I’ve never been to Paris. Now I want to go and I want to go with Mia! She knows all of the best places and she will take you there. I highly recommend this book!


My Good Life in France  by Janine Marsh

I really enjoyed this book. Janine’s writing style made me feel like she was sitting across the table, telling me of her adventures. (We’re drinking a glass of wine, of course.) She invited me into her, lay it on the line, charming, frustrating, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes laugh out loud funny, life. I feel like we are old friends and if I ever get to the Seven Valleys area in Pas-de-Calais, I just might wander into her garden.



Co-parenting is Harder

Parenting is hard. Co-parenting is even harder. Living in separate households  increases the amount of consideration and effort needed to put forth. We need to be responsible and always act in the best interest of our children regardless of how we feel about our  ex partner. Quality time with your child is so important. Here are a few suggestions to make co-parenting a little easier.

  1. Positive talk only. Do not talk badly about your ex, even if you think your child is too little to understand. Don’t allow your child to talk disrespectfully about  the other parent.
  2. Be a united front. Children are always testing their boundaries. Make sure you are in control, together.
  3. Letting your child “get away” with things just to annoy your ex is a no-no. Get a punching bag or a voodoo doll. No voodooing in front of the children.
  4. Strive for consistency, routine and structure at both households. Similar sets of rules are less confusing for your child.
  5. Don’t fall into the overindulgence, because of guilt, trap. That only helps you raise a spoiled, entitled child.
  6. When you child comes home with a “mommy said this” or daddy did that” story, don’t jump to conclusions. Unless it presents a danger to your child, take it with a grain of salt, take a deep breath, and keep your mouth shut.
  7. Communicate. Try to set aside your differences and focus on the well-being of your child.  If something is bothering you about your ex’s behavior, say something. Just make an honest, non-accusatory statement. No finger-pointing, please.
  8. Don’t try to be the cool fun parent. Your ex will be resentful. Remember you are in this together.
  9. Shelter your child from adult problems and responsibilities.
  10. Whatever you do, always do it in the best interest of your children. One day, they will thank you for it.

Nice and Easy

I was on a Mediterranean cruise. I was looking at the list of excursions. There it was – Nice and Eze.  My brain read Nice and Easy; hmmm, that sounds interesting. My mouth said “What do they mean, Nice and Eze excursion? And do they know they misspelled easy? So glad I asked my boyfriend and not the cruise director. Embarrassing!!!!! Turns out Nice and Eze are charming destinations on the French Riviera. Eze is a medieval village with a wonderful ocean view, tiny stone streets and secret alleys, overgrown with flowering vines.

Eze Village, France photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Nice is the fifth most populous city in France. The narrow streets of the “old city” are flanked by tall houses painted in warm reds, yellows and ocher. It’s a mix of city grit, old-world opulence, year-round sunshine and a stunning seaside view. Nice is  a magnet for  the lavish, see and be seen, people since the 19th century. This charming coastal city has so much going for it, fabulous architecture, super restaurants, and glorious markets. It isn’t perfect but, in my opinion, it’s pretty close.

Old town architecture of Nice on French Riviera
Nice, France   photo courtesy of touropia.com

I’m saving up to go back, on my own, for a nice and easy stay in Nice and Eze. Care to join me?


Speaking of eggs, did you know…

  1. An egg can teach you science? Place an egg in a glass of vinegar (enough so the egg is covered). Change the vinegar after the first 24 hours. Put the glass in a safe place for 7 days. Don’t mess with it, but pay attention to what is happening with the shell. In one week, carefully pour off the vinegar and rinse the egg with water.  The shell is gone and you have a bounce-able, naked egg.
  2. You can play games with eggs? Place an egg on a spoon.  Players run from point A to point B . The person that makes it to point B first, with the egg still on the spoon, wins. Egg tossing is another game. The team with last unbroken egg wins.
  3. The egg is a hangover cure? It doesn’t sound very appealing but it is supposed to work. Take 1  raw egg, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, some hot sauce, 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper. Mix well. Voila! you have a Prairie Oyster.
  4. Eggs have their own day? October 11th is World Egg Day.
  5. Eggshells are great for your garden?   After boiling eggs, don’t pour the water down the drain. Instead, let it cool; then water plants with the nutrient-filled water. Eggshells are a great addition to your garden compost because they are rich in calcium—a nutrient that helps plants.The incredible egg.