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Because I Love You: Read the First Chapter of HOPE ON THE INSIDE for Free!

Books

We are a little over a month away from the release of my latest book! I could not be more impatient/excited to share it with you!

Yes, in just a short time, you will get to meet Hope Carpenter and the friends she found in a place she never expected to be, a group of women who discover friendship, purpose, and the life-altering power of creativity, one stitch at a time.

(Pretty good tagline, right? Makes me want to read the book all over again.)

Because I am so impatient/excited for the March 26th release of Hope On The Inside (also because I love you guys)  I thought it would be fun to share the first chapter with my most dedicated readers. If it weren’t for your enthusiasm and support, I wouldn’t be able to do this thing I love so much.

Writing turns out to be a much tougher gig than I would ever have imagined. But when I receive a heartfelt letter from a reader about how a certain character or theme has truly touched her or helped in her healing journey, I know I chose the right profession. You know, as opposed to being a mathematician, or oceanographer, or cabaret singer. All professions I considered. (Okay, not mathematician. Just the other two.)

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Heartfelt DIY Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas For Everyone You Love

Creativity and Crafts
DIY Valentines Day Gifts

You don’t need to break the bank to show your love this Valentine’s Day. Aside from saving some money, DIY gifts also give a personal touch that is hard to get with a store-bought present. In that spirit, I’ve collected some cute and personable ideas for you. Plus, you know how I love a good crafting project.

Whether it’s for your significant other, friend, or family, they will love and appreciate the thought and time that went into these homemade presents. And as an added bonus, these are all fun to make! continue reading

Where to Eat in Kona

Adventure and Travel
where to eat in Kona

Have you ever noticed how much of those travel programs on television are devoted to eating? At first glance, it seems kind of strange. But it makes more sense when you think about the fact that whether we’re at home or on the road, most of us eat three times a day.    

Eating at home doesn’t require much more effort than opening the refrigerator. When you’re traveling, figuring out where to eat is tougher.  It forces you to make choices. It requires thought, and effort, and research.  Lots and lots of research. 

Fortunately, this type of research happens to be one of my favorite parts of travel. continue reading

Hawaii on a Budget: What To Do In Kona For Cheap (Or Even Free!)

Adventure and Travel

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While I do think of myself as extremely fortunate, I don’t usually think of myself as a lucky person.

For example, if there were one hundred guests at the quilt guild luncheon and ninety-nine door prizes, I would be the one going home empty-handed. And those people who go to the mall and always find a parking spot near the door, even during the annual Black Friday Christmas shopping melee? Yeah. I am so not that lady.

However, this week I am beginning to wonder if I laid down on the grass for a nap and accidentally picked up a four-leaf clover in the process. As most of you are aware, basically the entire country has been plunged into the deep freeze known as the polar vortex.

But where am I this week? Hawaii. Specifically the Big Island, on the Kona Coast.

Living on Island Time Can be Expensive

I know, I know. Don’t hate me.

As I mentioned earlier this week in my packing guide for island adventure, we use our timeshare points to visit Hawaii almost every winter; it’s only a five-hour flight from the West coast. This year, our timing was particularly good, even lucky. But, then again, I’ve felt lucky every single time I’ve been to Hawaii. It is one of the most magical places on earth, a true island paradise. Not only is Kona a breathtakingly beautiful spot, there are tons of fun and interesting things to do.

You can take a helicopter tour around the island, attend a Hawaiian luau, book a spot for a snorkel, scuba, or sunset boat charter, take a zipline tour (assuming you’re not afraid of heights), play golf overlooking the ocean, or visit one of the island’s many luxury spas for a relaxing lomi-lomi or even a whole day of pampering. The only downside to these suggestions is that they will definitely put a hole in your wallet. If you can afford it, any one of these experiences would be an amazing addition to a very special vacation. If you visit Hawaii, I highly recommend booking at least one memorable, pinnacle splurge.

But I’ve got good news for budget travelers! There are plenty of things to do in Kona that won’t make your heart palpitate after you get home and open up the Visa statement. Here are a few of my favorite inexpensive (and even free!) things to do in Kona.

Paradise Is Just Outside The Door

Outdoor activities are the very best thing about visiting Hawaii. There’s usually plenty of sun. But the constant, gentle kiss of the trade winds mean that even when it’s hot, it’s not too hot for my favorite free activities – a nice long walk or run. If you’d rather ride, Bikeworks Beach and Sports in the Queen’s Marketplace at Waikoloa Beach rents hybrid or cruiser bikes for as little as $30 a day. State of the art racing bike rentals start at $85 a day but are discounted if you rent for multiple days.

Swimming more your style? Fulfill your Ironman (or Woman) fantasy with a morning swim at the pier in Kailua-Kona, home of the swim event for the famous Hawaiian Ironman. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious, relatively inexpensive, and well-earned breakfast at nearby Splasher’s Grill or take a stroll down Alli Drive through the picturesque downtown to Huggos. (a little more expensive but the view is worth it. Banana and Tahini Stuffed French toast? Yes, please!)

Snorkeling cruises are great, but hopping in the rental car and heading to one of Kona’s many beautiful snorkeling beaches can be just as fun and much more affordable. One of my favorite snorkeling spots is Hapuna State Park. This gorgeous white sand beach has been voted one of the best in the world. Admission is free but you’ll pay about $5 for parking. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, you can rent some (as well as umbrellas and boogie boards) at the Three Frog’s Café.

History!

Hawaii has a rich and fascinating history. Thanks to a wonderful state and national park system, you can visit many (and even most) of Kona’s historic sites for free.

Take a hike through the Puako Petroglyph Preserve or the Waikola Petroglyph Field to see thousands of markings and drawings that date as far back as the 1600s. Be sure to bring water as there is no shade in these areas. Also, this is a look but don’t touch experience – taking rubbings or touching the rocks is kapu!

I would need several posts to tell you about the historic parks you can visit in Kona. Check out the options by clicking this link. 

One of my favorites is the Puukohola Heiau, site one of the last major temples built by King Kamehameha I. The visitor center has some interesting videos and exhibits explaining more about the site and the park rangers are very helpful. There’s also a free audio tour you can download on your phone while you’re hiking the half-mile, paved trail through the historic area.

Lapakahi State Historical Park is just a few miles farther up the coast. This partially restored site of a 600 year old Hawaiian fishing village is fascinating and has some incredible scenery. There are bathrooms here but no real visitors center. However, brochures are available for a self-guided tour. The paths are rocky here, so you’ll need sturdy shoes.

Culture!

If you’re interested in more recent history, stop by the Parker Ranch headquarters in Waimea to learn more about Hawaii’s ranching culture. There are two historic buildings you can visit for free. (And as long as you’re in Waimea, stop in at the Isaacs Art Center. Admission is free and the exhibits are well worth seeing, especially the paintings of Madge Tennent)

When you’re in Kailua-Kona, be sure to visit the Hulihe’e Palace, the summer home of Hawaiian royalty. There is a $10 admission charge to enter but guided tours are free. The palace offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Hawaiian monarchy. Also, be sure to visit to the Mokuaikana Church, Hawaii’s oldest Christian church. There is an interesting exhibit about the Thaddeus, the sailing vessel that brought the first missionaries to Hawaii.

Coffee Break!

Kona Coffee is famous the world over, and rightfully so! I have been enjoying lots of it during this visit and my suitcase will be packed with packets of dark, rich coffee beans when I leave.

Coffee lovers can visit a score of plantations for tours, free tastings, and direct from the grower or roaster shopping. Here’s a link with more information.

But for a coffee experience that’s more in depth and definitely out of the ordinary, be sure to visit the Kona Coffee Living History Museum. There’s a $15 admission but you’ll learn a lot about coffee cultivation, processing, and how Kona’s coffee culture impacted the island. If you time your visit for Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, be sure to take advantage of the free “Hands on History” programs!

Honestly, there is so much more I could tell you about beautiful Kona! If the surf and sand weren’t calling my name, I would.

Suffice it to say, if you ever have the inclination or opportunity to visit the Kona Coast on the Big Island, do! It’s definitely a bucket list location.

Aloha!

What to Pack for a Trip to the Tropics (and What to Leave at Home)

Diving Into the Deep End and Out of Your Comfort Zone

What to Pack for a Trip to the Tropics (and What to Leave at Home)

Adventure and Travel
what to back for a beach adventure

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Aloha!

Guess where we are.

Yes.

Hawaii. The Kona Coast to be exact.

My husband and I narrowly escaped the polar vortex and are in the magical land of Hawaii to recharge, decompress, and celebrate The Chairman’s birthday a little early.

Vacation Mode

Flying from Oregon to Hawaii only takes about five hours. It took me even less time than that to adapt to island time. I’ve morphed into the tropical version of my former self and may never come home. I now wear flowers in my hair, sleep without setting the alarm cock, enjoy drinks that come in coconuts, and mostly don cabana-wear throughout the day. continue reading

How to Celebrate Local Quilt Shop Day – January 26th

Creativity and Crafts
local quilt shop day

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

I’m sure that, like me, you’re very excited about the holidays, right?

Hmmm…what’s that noise I’m hearing out in cyberspace?

Crickets?

Huh.

Well, clearly some of you are not as well-informed as you could be about the major holidays – Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and of course, one of my favorites, Local Quilt Shop Day! That’s right! It’s just around the corner! In 2019, it falls on Saturday, January 26th.

Why Local Quilt Shop Day is the Best Holiday of All

Local Quilt Shop Day is the ideal anecdote for winter doldrums.  Do you know what else is great about it? continue reading

A Cover Reveal for my Latest Novel, Hope On The Inside

Books
Hope On The Inside

I’ve been keeping the secret for months now, counting down the days and hours until I could spill the beans. My new novel, Hope On The Inside, now available for pre-order, will hit bookstore shelves on March 26th, 2019!

Let’s start by talking about the cover. Because you know how I am with pretty things.

I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but just this once, let’s break the rules. I mean, how sweet is this cover? It looks like springtime! So pretty I could wear it as an accessory.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea. What better fashion statement could there be than a beautiful book? Tells the world you’re so much more than just another pretty face. Could be the start of a trend!

Hope On The Inside

So, now that I’ve shown off the cover, watch this super high-tech video to hear about what you’ll find inside!

 

And here’s a teaser, just to give you a deeper glimpse into Hope’s story.

In this compelling, heartwarming novel from New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick, one woman finds new purpose in a new phase of life . . .

“Whatever comes your way, find the happiness in it.” Hope Carpenter received that advice from her mother decades ago. Now, with their four children grown, Hope and her husband, Rick, are suddenly facing an uncertain future, after a forced retirement strains both their savings and their marriage. Seeking inspiration and a financial boost, Hope gets a job teaching crafts to inmates at a local women’s prison.

At first, Hope feels foolish and irrelevant, struggling to relate to women whose choices seem so different from her own. But with time, and the encouragement of the prison chaplain, she begins to discover common ground with the inmates, in their worries about their children and families, their fear of having failed those who need them. Just like her, they want to make something of themselves, but believe it might be impossible.

Embarking on an ambitious quilting project, Hope and her students begin to bond. Together, piece by piece, they learn to defy expectations—their own and others’—and to see that it’s never too late to stitch together a life that, even in its imperfections, is both surprising and beautiful.

I can’t wait for you to meet Hope Carpenter, a women who I believe we can all relate to. Make sure to pre-order your copy today!

Goal Setting Tips: The Nine Things You Need to Make 2019 Your Fiercest Year Yet

Celebrate Life

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This time of year is such a special time. It’s a natural restart button. And the perfect opportunity to look back at what you accomplished this past year and look forward to new challenges.

It’s fresh. It smells like new baby.

But how do we take advantage of this time when we are so on fire for change and improvement and new beginnings? How to we keep pushing forward and keep our sights on our goals?

Let’s recap.

You’ve evaluated your accomplishments this past year. Your sights are set on new goals. You’ve written them down. You’ve made each goal actionable. And you’ve been honest with yourself. Great job, Fierce friend! You are rocking 2019 already!

Sometimes (not all the time, be honest with yourself) but sometimes those resolutions need a little help getting started.  Once again, I’m here to help.

Here are a few resources that will help you start of the new year with a bang, regardless of what your goals are.

Ready, set, go!

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Elegant Christmas Centerpieces You Can Make Yourself

Celebrate Life, Home Matters
elegant Christmas centerpieces

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

So many holiday to-dos these days. When I opened my calendar for this week it tells me I should plan my Christmas table centerpiece!

While I could just use my simple homemade advent calendar for the center of my table or a DIY floral arrangement like I did for Easter, why not take this opportunity to make something new!

Enjoy 50% Off All Holiday Season! Sign up for a Bluprint subscription today, and we'll automatically take 50% off the full price of your Craftsy items every time you shop from now until December 31. Offer valid at myBluprint.com through 12/25/18.Whatever I choose, you better believe I’ll underscoring the whole kit and caboodle with a holiday version of this quilted table runner I made on the blog not too long ago. Winter wonderland, here I come!

I’ve been thinking for awhile about how I want to decorate my table and I’ve been scouring around for ideas. Lucky for you, I’m sharing the best ones I’ve found to save you time! continue reading

Homemade Christmas Gifts in an Hour or Less

Creativity and Crafts
homemade Christmas gifts

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

Posting gift guides for girlfriends, grandkids, and book lovers this month has been a lot of fun! I’ve referred back to the guides more than once while checking off names on my personal Christmas list. There really are some great ideas there.

Even so, to my way of thinking, very few presents for purchase can measure up to a gift made my hand.

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