A Holy Week Playlist

Nurture Your Soul
Holy Week playlist
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

I listen music almost all the time; when I’m working, when I’m running or biking,
when I’m sewing, and definitely when I’m cooking. Making dinner after a day of
mentally wrestling with characters and plots absolutely requires a peppy playlist. And
possibly a few equally peppy dance moves? It’s been known to happen.

My musical tastes are wide and varied. I like Gilbert and Sullivan, Rogers and
Hammerstein. I also like Yo-Yo Ma and Mozart. And the Beach Boys. And Queen.

You’ll find a lot of Christian contemporary music on my Spotify playlist as well.
That’s something I tune into often when I’m working out. Those joyous, hopeful
lyrics lift my spirit as well as my feet.

continue reading

A Dozen Deviled Egg Recipe Ideas to Try Right Now

Food for Grownups
deviled egg recipe ideas
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

Deviled eggs. You either love ’em or you hate ’em. I am both feet in on the former.

I remember the first time I had one. It was one of those bustling church picnics where everyone brings a blanket and a pot luck dish and there’s children and ants running around everywhere. My sisters dared me to try it, and by the looks of it, I proceeded with extreme caution and suspicion. (Some of the things my sisters dared me try to weren’t exactly in my best interest. Bless their hearts.)

But it was love at first bite. And the rest is history.

My husband prefers the classic rendition – a hint of celery salt, a bit of mayo and mustard, a splash of vinegar, and a dash of paprika.

That’s fine and all.

But I say live a little. continue reading

Easter Crafts Abound!

Creativity and Crafts
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

Easter crafts are just plain cute.

All crafting is fun. The fun is built in whether you’re quilting or painting or decoupaging or glittering or…you get the idea.

But in addition to being fun, Easter crafts are cute. Bunnies! Baby chicks! Flowers! Pastel colors! Little girls wearing bonnets with bows bigger than their heads!

continue reading

SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD TO BE LOST

Adventure and Travel, Grow in Wisdom
getting lost
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

In case you hadn’t picked up on it by now, I am a planner.

I love a good to-do list and am utterly devoted to my schedule.  Seeing my Living Well Planner with my daily tasks time-blocked and color-coded, fills me with the satisfaction and the comfort of feeling in control of my circumstances. People frequently ask how I’m able to get so much done. Organization is my secret weapon, making a plan and sticking to it.

Take my workout routine. Even when I’m traveling, I block out time in my schedule for exercise.  It’s a good plan when it works, and sometimes even when it doesn’t.

continue reading

Free Quilt Pattern: A Companion Quilt for HOPE ON THE INSIDE

Creativity and Crafts
free quilt pattern
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

If you’ve been around the blog for any amount time, you know that I L-O-V-E quilts and books. And quilting and reading.

These two favorite pastimes of mine have shaped my life in many different ways; they’ve built powerful bonds and friendships, they’ve offered a creative outlet, they’ve been my “therapy,” they’ve even paid the bills. (However, a lot of those earnings seem to migrate back into books and quilts. Weird how that happens.)

Quilting has inspired my books, and books have inspired my quilts. But what inspires me most is the sisterhood of life-long friends I have gained through it all: women who share my passion for reading, for happy endings, for stitching quilts with love. It’s for them that I write and it’s through them that my creative energy is renewed.

So when I get the chance to fuse together my two favorite things, I say YES and probably wave my hands in the air!

Quilting and Books Just Go Together

How do quilting and books go together? Well, for one thing, they both require a big investment of time from the artist who makes them. And they both tell a story, whether its in the lines of the book or the textures, patterns and stitching of a quilt. More importantly, both books and quilts can be enjoyed over and over and have an almost magical ability to bring people together.

As many of my readers know, the talented Deb Tucker’s Studio 180 Design creates a companion pattern that highlights a certain character or theme for many of my books.

Yes. You read that right. My books have actual quilt patterns designed just for the book. Pretty cool, right?

The quilts Deb has designed for my books have added an exciting dimension to the reading experience and her A-MAZING rules and tools have made me a better quilter than I am in real life.  Best of all, the friendship we developed over the years is something I treasure.

Here’s a picture of Deb and I standing in front of a gorgeous quilt. So much joy going on here!

A Companion Quilt for Hope On The Inside

For my most recent novel that came out last week, Deb really outdid herself.

Here’s a teaser on the right. How pretty is that? The colors! The lines! That fabric!

If you haven’t yet seen all the gorgeous collaborative patterns that Deb and I have created as companions to my books, you can check them out on her website by clicking here.  Deb creates two patterns to go with my books, a smaller project that is offered free on my website and a larger, full-sized quilt which is available for purchase at Studio 180 Design.

As part of our creative process, we go over the story line, the characters, possible quilt designs, and difficulty level for actual quilt makers. In the end, Deb is the one who does the heavy lifting (or should I say stitching?) and always creates something incredibly beautiful.

For HOPE ON THE INSIDE, we decided that a block titled “Dove in the Window” would be a perfect starting point. I love the imagery of a dove in the window felt very relevant as I think about the women serving time in my story, especially my character Mandy.  I envisioned her gazing out the window, dreaming of freedom and being reunited with her daughter Talia, the ultimate recipient of the quilt that Mandy stitches while behind bars.

The Dove in the Window block also represents the exciting moment when an inmate is set free. They take flight, return home, and begin to rebuild.

Design and Fabric

To spice things up – because it’s always fun to keep our quilts spicy – Deb nestled the traditional Dove in the Window blog inside a larger Dove in the Window block. It’s a lovely, fresh, and unique interpretation of this traditional block (and easier to make that it looks!)

The block size is large at 19½” finished, which by itself could make a nice wall quilt or throw pillow.  (The bed runner pattern is available as a free download from my website. The pattern to make a lap, twin, or king-sized version of the quilt is available for purchase at Studio 180 Design.)

In the instructions, you’ll see that the quilt is made with Deb Tucker’s second signature fabric collection with Island Batik titled “Steam Engine”. In the story, this is the fabric that Mandy chose when beginning her quilt for her young daughter. This gorgeous fabric will be in quilt shops late summer or early fall 2019.  I’m already dreaming up what I’ll be making with these gorgeous hues! A Doves of Hope quilt is at the top of the list!

Remember: we love to see your work! If you make this bed runner, please share on Instagram and make sure to include #DoveintheWindowBedRunnerPattern180 #sharehope so we will be sure to see it!

Download your Free Quilt Pattern!

To access the free quilt pattern, head on over to my author website here. All you have to do is enter your email and you can download all of the patterns for all of my books!

Happy stitching!

Adventures in Quilting: Using Stencils

Creativity and Crafts
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

One of the really cool things about writing a blog is that, every now that then, you get free stuff. Some bloggers receive appliances, or furniture, or even fancy vacations from companies. They hope the blogger will enjoy that product and write a post about it.

Okay, sure. I guess those are pretty good items to get. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. But what have I been offered?

Crafting supplies! Which, as we all know, is way cooler.

continue reading

Book Club Party Kit for ‘Hope On The Inside’

Books, Friends and Community
book club - hope on the inside
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

My latest novel, Hope On The Inside, has all the elements of a quintessential book club book. The quickly paced plot. The strong themes of creativity and sisterhood. It has the surprises. The lovable characters. The tear-jerking moments. And did I mention the food?

Don’t even get me started on my passion for book clubs! Although I guess I already got started on my love of book clubs in this post from last year.

Suffice it to say book clubs = books, food and friends. Basically a perfect recipe in life.

But throwing the perfect book club party can be a little daunting! What should I cook? What music should I play? What wine should I serve? What thought-provoking questions should I throw out to the group? 

Don’t worry, that’s the fun part.

If you’ve been debating on your next book club book and have made the (obviously very smart) choice to read Hope on the Inside, I’m going to make your life very easy when it comes to prepping for your book club party.

How, you ask? I made a Hope on the Inside party kit just for the occasion!

So, grab your best gal pals, your latest quilting or crafting project, and cook the books with recipes inspired by Hope On The Inside. You won’t have to dig very deep into the book to find out about the husband with an affinity for baking! If you need some help getting started with the book discussion, there are helpful suggestions and questions in the back.

Choose savory muffins, a rosemary olive bread, or the very best oatmeal cookies and offer along with iced mint tea and fruit. Because they are the fuel you’ll need for a lovely book discussion, if you ask me.

And in this case, the rosemary won’t be a bad omen. (You’ll know what this means after you get through the first chapter or two).

Download Your Free Party Kit!

If you’d like to have the full Book Club Party Kit simply enter your email address below and the whole kit-n-caboodle will show up in your email a few minutes later! Oh, the magic of the internet!

A Little Teaser

Just to make you drool a little bit, here’s a picture of the wonderful Rosemary Olive Loaf that’s included with the party kit! Serve warm, spread a little butter, slice on the diagonal (because, pretty) and you’ll be in food heaven!

rosemary olive loaf - hope on the inside

Alright readers, that’s all I’ve got time for today! Book launch weeks are busy – in a good way!

Have a great weekend, Fierce Friends, and maybe bake some oatmeal cookies!

Spring Pea, Pesto & Ricotta Dip to Usher in the Season

Food for Grownups
spring pea pesto ricotta dip
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

Now that the ice and howling wind is giving way to warm breezes and crocuses peeping out of the ground, it’s time to get serious about spring flavor. So long, comforting winter stews and roasts. Hello, vibrant and fresh everything!

Some time ago, I discovered an exceptionally delicious flavor combination that The Barefoot Contessa seems to use a lot in the spring. She combined spring peas, herby pesto, and pine nuts all together into a beautiful and delicious salad that hit all the high notes of the flavors of the season. That’s what gave me this idea. It’s a good one!

continue reading

The Book Launch for Hope On The Inside (and a special surprise)

Books, Creativity and Crafts
print at home stationary
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN REFERRAL LINKS. IF YOU CLICK THROUGH AND TAKE ACTION, I MAY BE COMPENSATED, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

My latest book, Hope on the Inside, is released today.

Though this is my fifteenth time at this particular rodeo, celebrating a book birthday is always exciting, the culmination of at least a year of work. It’s true. Back when I did that sort of thing, it took me less time to gestate a tiny human than it takes me to birth a book.

As with my real children, none of my literary offspring can claim the status of favorite child. Every novel I’ve penned holds a special place in my heart; they’re all my favorites.

But I feel like there’s something extra special about Hope on the Inside. Perhaps it has something to do with my particular stage of life. Perhaps it has something to do with the times we’re living in.

continue reading

Growing in Knowledge Just for the Sake of It

Grow in Wisdom
learning for a lifetime

It’s my birthday this week. Letting my new age sink in and embracing this next year wholeheartedly has got me thinking about a few things.

As I reflect back on what I’ve accomplished with my life, what I’m still working on, and what I hope to do before I cross the finish line, there are a few main themes that run through it all.

Some are more prevalent during certain times. Sisterhood. Motherhood. Family. Career. Creativity. Quilting. Glamping. Simon Baker. Chocolate. I could go on. continue reading