Jan 31, 2019

How to Create a Home Gym You’ll Actually Use

Struck with admiration and not a little envy, she stopped at the base. The slope of the hill
opened the lower level to the rear of the house through wide glass doors and windows, and a
small and pretty slate patio beyond, where the dog currently sprawled on his back, feet straight
up, sleeping.
But inside, on safety mats over the wide-planked oak floor, stood the machines. In silence, she
wandered, studying the elliptical trainer, the weight bench, the rack of weights, the recumbent
bike, rowing machine.
Serious stuff, she mused.
An enormous flat-panel TV covered one wall. She noted the components tucked into a builtin,
and the glass-front bar fridge holding bottles of water. And in the corner where the wood
merged with slate rested a whirlpool tub in glossy black.
"Matt's work?"
"Yeah. Mostly."
"I'm more and more pleased with my instinct to hire him. You never have to leave here."
"That was sort of the idea. I like to hole up for long stretches. It was designed as a family
room, but since my family doesn't live here, I figured why haul myself to a gym when I can
bring the gym to me? And, hey, no membership fee. Of course, it cuts out being able to ogle
toned and sweaty female bodies, but you've got to make some sacrifices."
"I have a basement," Cilla mused. "An actual underground basement, but it's big. I gave some
thought to finishing it off eventually, but more for storage and utility. But with the right lighting..."



Start the new year off on the right foot with expert tips on designing a home fitness space you’ll stick with

Year after year, getting more exercise tops New Year’s resolution lists. And while the number of people committed to this popular goal often plummets by February, experts say having a dedicated space right at home that will inspire you to stay active can help.


He stopped in the doorway. He’d seen their setup
at their beach house in the Hamptons, but that was
small change compared to this.
Two treadmills, an elliptical, a recumbent bike,
Bowflex, free weights, a bench press—not to
mention the huge flat-screen and the glass-fronted
fridge holding bottles of water and juice.Towels, he
noted, neatly folded, alcohol wipes, killer view.
“Convenient,” he said, “and efficient.”

Happy Ever After

Jan 30, 2019

❄️ Stay Warm 🌨️ Stay Safe 🧤

"Getting cold."
"Maybe it'll snow. Maybe it'll snow six feet and there won't be any school."
"We can always dream." He picked up the ball and winged it in a way Simon desperately admired.
"If it snows six feet, can you stay home from work?"
"If it snows six feet, I'll make a point of staying home from work."
"And we can have hot chocolate and play ten million video games."
"That's a deal."

Key of Valor


You can thank the polar vortex for this beastly blast of winter

Dangerously cold temperatures will hit much of the Midwest and bring a deep freeze to parts of the U.S. — and the weather term we can't stop talking about is to blame. Raise your snow shovel to the polar vortex.

The National Weather Service warned that wind chills will drop to their lowest readings since the mid-1990s across the Upper Midwest.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, said “this is the coldest air many of us will have ever experienced”


“How much are they calling for?”
“About three feet.” Cal dropped down beside him, mirrored his pose. “Used to be we liked nothing better. No school, haul out the sleds. Snowball wars.”
“Those were the days, my friend.”
“Now we’re priming the generator, loading in firewood, buying extra batteries and toilet paper.”
“Sucks to be grown up.”

Blood Brothers

Jan 28, 2019

📖 Is it July already?! 📅

“This July,” Layla finished. “Another cheery thought.”

Blood Brothers


Laura - at Fall Into The Story - published and excerpt of Nora Roberts' next stand alone. 

Go there, Read  the Excerpt and brace yourself for thoughts that July can't get here soon enough 😏

"Within the walls of a tasteful, 
perfectly kept house in 
North Carolina’s 
Blue Ridge Mountains, 
young Zane Bigelow..."

Jan 25, 2019

Rural Living Helps You Stress Less and Live Longer

“Listen to the quiet. Country quiet, country dark. 
You can forget in all the busyness that
there are times and places so wonderfully still.”

The Perfect Hope


By Brianross13 - Own work, Public Domain, 

Five ways living in the country can give you a huge boost in your health by reducing daily stress levels.

But is rural living, with its own set of challenges, really less stressful than city life?

As it turn out, yes.


"It was beautiful here, beautiful and hopeful and happy," he told her. "Horses grazing, 
her dog napping in the sun. The flowers were lovely. Janet did some of the gardening
herself when she was here, I think. She came here to relax, she said. And she would, 
for short stretches. But then she needed people that's my take on it. 
She needed the noise and the laughter, the light. 
But now and again, she came out alone. No friends, no family, no press.
 I always wondered what she did during those solo visits."


Jan 24, 2019


The hype is here. And. There.

#10yearchallenge has been flooding the social media and, from funny to makes-you-stop-and-think posts, it isn't going away.

I found myself thinking: "what about Nora?"

So this is BNB #10yearchallenge choice for Nora

Bed of Roses is one of my favorite from Nora and I'm ready to add "Under Currents" to that top.
10 years later and not a single detail gets old 😉 WOW!

Why you’re seeing the 10-Year Challenge everywhere

Jan 22, 2019

Should you feed birds in winter?

In a moment she was trudging back, dragging an enormous burlap sack.
"What are you doing?"
"Going to feed the birds." She was out of breath but still moving. "This time of year they need all the help they can get."
He shook his head. "Let me do it"
"I'm very strong."
"Yes, I know. Let me do it anyway."
He took the sack, braced, put his back into it and began to haul it across the snow. It gathered snow— and weight—with every step.
"I thought you weren't a nature lover."
"That doesn't mean I'd let them starve." And she'd promised Libby.
He hauled the bag another foot. "Couldn't you just dump it out?"
"If a thing's worth doing—"

Times Change 


It seems like a no-brainer to help our feathered friends, but consider these potential risks

Watching birds at your feeder during the barren winter months is a great way to stay connected with nature and help creatures that might otherwise struggle to find their next meal.


The mourning doves were cooing, bobbing heads as they pecked along 
the ground under the bird feeder. Too fat and lazy,
Duncan thought, to bother to fly up into it. Rather take leavings. 
A lot of people were the same.

High Noon

Jan 21, 2019

quit smoking

Pandora only shrugged as she started across the lawn. 
"Michael, have I mentioned that you've been more crabby than usual?"
He pulled a piece of hard candy out of his pocket and popped it into his mouth. 
"Quit smoking."
The candy was lemon. She caught just a whiff. "So I noticed. How long?"
He scowled at some leaves that skimmed across the lawn. They were brown and dry and
seemed to have a life of their own. "Couple weeks. I'm going crazy."
She laughed sympathetically before she tucked her arm into his. "You'll live, darling. The first month's the toughest."
Now he scowled at her. "How would you know? You never smoked."
"The first month of anything's the toughest. You just have to keep your mind occupied.
Exercise. We'll jog after lunch."

A Will and a Way


By Lindsay Fox from Newport beach, United States - Cigarette, CC BY 2.0, 

Real stories: ‘How I quit smoking’

There are many methods you can use use to quit smoking – it is, however, important to remember that what works for one person might not work for another.

Jan 19, 2019

Kitchen Sink Soup

“It can’t be more or less. It’s not like cooking up a kitchen-sink soup.”

Blood Magick


 At home I often make a variation called Kitchen Sink Soup, where everything but the kitchen sink goes into the pot to simmer away. What doesn’t seem like much to begin with can add up to something quite satisfying.


On impulse, she got out a pot. Then minced, chopped, poured, tossed in cubes of herbs
she’d frozen the summer before. With a kettle of soup simmering, she went back up to
finish her orders.
An hour later, she came down to stir, then glanced toward the window as she heard a
car. Surprised, pleased, she hurried to the door to greet Jack.
“Well, hi.”
“I had a meeting, and managed to wrap it up early. I left my jacket here again, so I
thought I’d swing by on my way … You’re cooking?”
“I took a walk, and it started cooling off, which put me in the mood for kitchen sink
soup. There’s plenty, if you’re interested.”

Bed of Roses

Jan 18, 2019

Handbags that fit in the palm of your hand

Maybe Annika didn’t hit Riley’s goal of lightning round, 
but she managed to buy earrings
—two pair—sandals—one with five-inch heels 
she navigated as if born in them—
a tiny purse that would hold little more than air, 
but had a seashell clasp that charmed her.

Bay of Sighs


By Nick Karvounis nickkarvounis - https://unsplash.com/photos/FmD8tIkf8boarchive copy at the 
Wayback Machine (archived on 2 October 2016), CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61780469

To say artist Phillip Nuveen has an eye for detail would be an understatement, as evidenced through his creation of perfect miniatures — exacting replicas of luxury items from high-fashion bags to midcentury modern chairs, all tiny enough to sit in the palm of your hand.

Jan 17, 2019

Holding a grudge can be surprisingly healthy

"Will I have tea?"
She slanted him a look, and a smile. "I suppose."
"There, I told you." He gave her hand a little squeeze. 
"You don't know how to hold a grudge."
"I just need practice," she said and made him laugh.



By Graham Crumb/Imagicity.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Self-reflection is just one of 4 ways it can be good for you.

You hear a lot of talk about how to let go of grudges — how to forgive and forget using a psychological technique or a spiritual process.

And I get it; I've been actively working on letting go of those frustrations in life that are ultimately unimportant or out of my control.

But sometimes holding on is healthy, too.


Sensing movement in the doorway behind her, she stiffened. 
"And unlike some, I keep my promises."
"And hold a grudge with equal fervor," 
Jordan commented.

Key of Light

Jan 16, 2019

Spring Flowers in Winter?

She'd take cuttings and root them, 
force bulbs so that she could have
spring any time of year she liked.

Born in Ice


By https://www.flickr.com/photos/pixel_addict/ - 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pixel_addict/384732136, CC BY 2.0, 

Bring spring indoors early for winter color and fragrance

After all the Christmas decorations are packed away the house looks drab. So instead of letting the winter blues kick in, we make our rooms warm and inviting with flowers. We force the usual amaryllis, paperwhites, and tulip bulbs, but we also force branches into bloom to add even more color and fragrance to our suddenly quiet home. It is very satisfying to sit in our breakfast room early in the morning and observe the daily progress of forsythia buds as they swell and burst open. We cannot think of a more economical way to raise our spirits.


“My mom goes for tulips.
She—what do you call it—
forces the bulbs in little glass jars 
every winter.”

Heaven and Earth

Jan 15, 2019

It's not all hearts and flowers

"I didn't forget you either."
"Didn't you?"
"Nope." He opened a drawer. "I didn't leave it out because I wasn't sure 
what the maid might make of it."
Lana stared as he pulled out a can of Boston baked beans. 
When he dropped it into her hand, grinned at her, her heart not only tripped, 
it fell with a splat.
"That just tears it. I'm done in by a can of beans." 
She pressed it against her heart and began to weep.
"Oh Jesus, Lana, don't cry. It was a joke."



Gaelle Marcel gaellemm [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Women reveal the seemingly unromantic gestures that REALLY say 'I love you' - from cleaning up sick to practical presents


"Then we will go down and face the chicken together."
"Really? You'd do that?"
"I'll also face the crab dip and the pasta salad with you. Such is the depth of my love, even at six o'clock in the morning."
Spock rose, yawned, stretched. 
"And apparently his. If we poison people, Cilla, we'll do it together."
"I feel better. I know when I'm being a maniac."
She walked to him, leaned down and kissed his sleepy mouth. 
"And I know when I'm lucky to have someone who'll stick with me through it, right down to the crab dip."


Jan 14, 2019

I'm Not Convinced Money Won't Make Me Happy

"Went around with Hennessy's sister Margie for a time, then broke it off when he met Jane
Drake, the one he married. She came from money."
 With a smirk, Charlie rubbed his thumb and fingers together. 
"Old money. Man needs money to buy up land and build houses. She was a looker, too. Snooty with it."
"I remember her. She always looked pissed off. I guess money can't buy happiness if you shop in the wrong places."



By Kenny Louie from Vancouver, Canada - Good health and good fortune, CC BY 2.0, 

I Took A Happiness Course, And I'm Not Convinced Money Won't Make Me Happy

At the same time, researchers also speculate that becoming wealthier makes you more isolated, which can lead to unhappiness. It seems like you can’t win here: Being financially unstable or being rich, either one can lead to discontentment for different reasons.

The Yale class goes over the misconceptions of what we think will make us happy versus what actually will. One of the first misconceptions listed is the topic of money.

Jan 11, 2019

‘I am still alive, I am still curious. I am not a piece of rotting flesh’ ~Agnès Varda

Turning, she studied the woman who sat in a royal-blue tufted chair.
The hair was pure white, but as full and thick as Laurel’s. It surrounded a face layered
and lined with wrinkles and unashamedly rouged. Olivia Armand wasn’t ashamed of
anything. Eyes as sharp and green as the emeralds in her ears studied Laurel in turn.
“Grandma.” With a sigh, Laurel bent to kiss her. “Will you never grow old?”
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Her voice was raspy with age and stunningly



By Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara - cropped version of 18.03.10 Agnès Varda.
 © Cortesía de FICG 25 / Oscar Delgado, CC BY 2.0, 

The 90-year-old giant of the Nouvelle Vague on her latest film, Faces Places, life with Jacques Demy, and that ‘dirty rat’ Jean-Luc Godard

Agnès Varda is a dizzying blur of dots – polka-dot trousers, polka-dot shirt, polka-dot socks, polka-dot scarf. “I’ve always loved polka dots. Ah, oui. It is a joyful shape, the polka dot. It is alive.” You could say the same of Varda. She is more joyously alive than anybody I have ever met.

Jan 10, 2019

Bring the Spa Home

“It’s good to be home. You know, one of the things I have in those shopping bags
 is this incredible honey almond scrub they use at the spa. 
After dinner, and after I give the dogs some more play and attention, 
we could take a shower. I’ll exfoliate you.”
“Is that code?”
She laughed. “You’ll have to find out.”

The Search


Those minutes spent soaking in a bath or luxuriating under the shower can transform your hair, skin, and mood. Maximize the benefit of every drop.


She began to rub it over his back in slow, steady circles. 
“The texture, the flesh-to-flesh contact, the aroma—all add to the experience. 
Your skin wakes up and feels more—Uh-uh,” she said again, when he reached back. 
“I do the touching till we’re done. Hands on the wall, Doyle.”
“Did you get naked in the shower at the spa for this?”
“No. I’m adjusting it for home use. You smell wonderful already, 
and mmmm, smooth.”

The Search