“Cape May” is Here!

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Valentine’s Day hasn’t even started yet, and I’m over the moon with the e-arrival of Cape May, by Chip Cheek, sent to me by NetGalley for review. You know how you’re not looking for the perfect book, but you wander into a honeypot of an online book club and completely lose your mind with all of the fabulous book suggestions? That happened. Ashley Spivey DM’d me an invitation to her Facebook book club, and I have been on a book-getting spree for the past week. Buying ’em, buying ’em on sale, so very gratefully getting some from NetGalley.

My love of reading is back. You might now that my mom passed away a few years ago, and after so much time selling her house, settling her estate and THEN blooming back into life (as much as you can with such a huge, huge loss,) I wasn’t able to stay with a book…until now. I tried. Couldn’t get hooked in, and now I’m a happily bookish girl. I’m happily STOPPING reading, for those books that just don’t bubble my bubbly. Don’t like it, don’t have to finish it.

Mom would love that the book I just received is Cape May. She loved going there, loved the quiet morning walks on the beach, all of our favorite restaurants, looking for dolphins. It kind of feels like she’s in on this book showing up today.

Now, I’ve read the description, and I know this is NOT a story about a mom who loves walking on the beach when it’s quiet. I hear this is a sexy story, with pulse-quickening passion, and I’m here for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and may this day bring you book scores of your dreams, a TBR pile for the gods, and some really great people with whom to book-chat. Thank you Ashley and NetGalley and thank you Celadon Books for this day’s joy.

Something New! Ayesha Curry’s “The Seasoned Life” for Your Registry

Bridal shower guests LOVE giving cookbooks as gifts! You simply can’t lose with a buzzy, beautiful cookbook that captures a celebrity chef’s sparkle and skill and whichever kind of recipes you’re hungry for now — keto, GF, quick, comforting, southern, and so on.

Here’s my pick:

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How lovely is Ayesha Curry? She’s got that fun-girl energy, excellence in the kitchen, family-friendly dishes, and always a mix of inspiration. I set her TV show to record even if it’s going to be all reruns all day. Don’t care. Love it that much. Recipes to die for, intros to kitchen gear, family visits, al fresco dining, and those cutie kids. All of this great energy, sparkle and great taste comes through in “The Seasoned Life,” and here are my picks for some of the best dishes in this cookbook: Smoked Salmon Scramble. Seriously. Made easy, and finished with a mastery of garnishing that creates a wish to get better at the garnish. Delish, and a fab pick for any bridal brunch or the wedding morning breakfast. Love this one.

Her Making Dinner Happen is one of the warming chapter openings, inviting you into Ayesha’s kitchen with her family, and you just have a seat at the table, or giving her in-progress recipe a taste. “Dinner is also the meal that draws in the most memories” gets you in a reminiscing mood with Ayesha, and this is a great time to look back with gratitude on all of the family dinner memories you have with your inner circle. And White Chocolate Bread Pudding at the end of this book with the desserts (many of them impressively low in sweet stature) completes the equivalent of a great meal. Fabulous finds happen everywhere in this cookbook, on so many levels and in so many categories, with helpful charts and lists like the mix-ins salad chart that’s going to send you right to the crisper. This is a good one, sure to get lots of ooohs and ahhhs if you’re among the brides who open their bridal shower gifts in front of the shower guests. (Not everyone does. We didn’t. People lived. Cake was had.)

I’m excited to open the doors of my book reccs starting with Ayesha’s gorgeous book, for your wedding registry or for a self-bought treat to stave off wedding stress. Books can always rescue you, so I’ll share more of my favorite registry books coming up here!

Hey, as always, thanks for following me here on the blog, and on my social media spots. Many of you know that I’ve been dancing with grief the past few years, and no one tells you that it’s going to take a long time to not just get back to normalcy but to see some slivers of color in the clouds where new joys are coming through. I haven’t really enjoyed a book club novel for years, understandably. I’ve started a few, then put them down, picked them up, then put them down and fired up Netflix. I just couldn’t connect, just couldn’t be there. Then I chanced upon Ashley Spivey’s Book Club and a DM from Ashley led me to her bubbly, energetic, kind, and generous circle of readers. It was exactly what I needed. Exactly exactly. So I am re-reading those sputter-stop novels (Tea Girl?! Really?! I couldn’t get into Tea Girl?!) and jumping into the big names of now (Where the Crawdads Sing, etc.) with my love of reading — and reviewing and recommending — all shined up with a vibrance even my husband has noticed. I’m sure there’s some kind of article out there somewhere on how reading fulfills the soul, in part helping to add extra light to a relationship. Don’t need an article on that. It’s just true.

So if you’re hurting in your wedding planning season, or any other kind of straining season, grab a great novel, crack open a cookbook and some farm-fresh eggs, and just breathe in all that new energy. That’s what I’m going to be doing here on the blog for a while. I published by 38th wedding planning book, I’m turning 50 in about 3 months (!!!) and I’m navigating a post-grief life. Book titles are popping up in my mind, and I’m editing my next novel, so this is a coasting with sea air blowing my hair around after a loooong pedal up that hill.

Happy reading, and hugs to you and yours!

Fab Find! Trista Sutter’s Book is a Must-Read for Brides and Grooms

 

I’ve been starstruck by two people recently: Colin Cowie (I giggled and walked away when he said he owned my books) and Trista Sutter, who just Tweeted me to thank me for Tweeting about her new book, Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart.

I LOVED this book and it’s my new Fab Find, a Must-Read for any brides and grooms preparing for life after the wedding (and you’ll be MUCH happier if you put Trista’s wisdom into practice before the wedding.

We tend to romanticize couples whose love stories contain lots of flash and sparkle, especially when a TV network douses them in glitter, sets up really expensive dream dates, puts a hot tub in the middle of field, and gets celebrity performers to serenade them. I look at Trista’s book as a worthy message that she gets it! She knows a spell was cast about her courtship, and that couples need a reminder that close partnerships take work…and sometimes it’s messy.

You
‘ll read this one with the benefit of knowing Trista’s voice (and Ryan’s,) and you’ll take notes on how to apply some of their magic that coupled them even in a field of contenders to your own marriage.

Sound good?

Here’s the description from Amazon:

Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures and the most unassuming things that can have the greatest effects. Trista is often asked her secret to being one of the rare reality-TV relationships to make it to the altar and beyond. In this heartfelt book, she shares the simple yet profound keys to finding everyday happiness: gratitude and grace. From the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments we have with our kids, our spouses, our pets, or even strangers, to the more obvious lessons we pick up from reading the news or hearing an inspirational story, knowing how to recognize, accept, and be grateful for all of our daily blessings is truly what “happily ever after” means.

Ten years later, the first Bachelorette talks of marriage, family, friendship, and how powerfully gratitude can transform your life.

Happily ever after isn’t always glamorous. It has nothing to do with whether you can afford or fit into a dress right off the runway. It isn’t based on how many times you’ve had your hair and makeup done, what you get paid (or not) to do with your time, [or] how many square feet your house is . . . The universe has taught me so much, and undoubtedly will continue to do so. The main thing I’ve learned about what makes for a happy life, right up there with good health and lots of love, is gratitude.

My intent here is to share not only the lessons I’ve learned, but also those of my friends and family, those of strangers, and even teachings of some of the world’s most enlightened authors, philosophers, poets, and educators. I will never claim to be an expert, but you won’t have to take it from only me; there is plenty of research out there to back up the benefits of a grateful heart.

Wedding Symbolism: The Peacock

 

Peacock feathers are a top wedding trend, as a motif on invitations, wedding programs and thank you notes, and some brides are working peacock feathers into their centerpieces and color schemes. Bold, dramatic blues and purples evoke the colors of the brightly-colored peacock, and you’ll even find in nature all-white peacocks with graceful fanlike tails.

With peacock themes and colors going strong in wedding world, I thought I’d continue my series on animal symbolism with the peacock. Since so many elements of a wedding have a long history of symbolism bringing luck to the marriage, here is what the peacock’s symbolism can mean to your day:

  • Integrity
  • Showing your true colors
  • Nobility
  • Holiness
  • Guidance
  • Protection
  • Watchfulness
  • Great vibrancy
  • “A walk of faith”
  • Self-esteem booster
  • Vision
  • Refinement
  • Spirituality
  • Incorruptibility (a take on that ‘forsaking all others’ line from traditional wedding vows!)

In Greco-Roman mythology, the peacock is connected to Hera/Juno who, lore says, made the peacock from Argus with his hundred eyes. Thus, that mark on the peacock’s tail feathers that looks like an eye and in some legends symbolizes the “eyes of the stars.”

In Hindu culture, the Peacock is associated with the deity Lakshmi, representing benevolence, patience, kindness, compassion and good luck.

The peacock is also a symbol of Kwan-Yin in Asian lore, as an emblem of love, compassionate watchfulness, nurturing and kind-heartedness.

In Persian lore, the peacock symbolizes protection over royalty (and since you’re the queen of your wedding day….)

In Christian lore, the peacock represents the “all-seeing” church and has been connected to renewal as well as holiness.

So those are some of the top symbols of the peacock. How much do you love that for your wedding’s theme graphics or décor colors and accents now?

Wedding Registry Must: Pillows


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Pillows are the new Must-Have on wedding registries! Add some fabulous styles to your gift list so that you can add a pop of color to any room or space, indoors or outside! They’re perfect for adding that finishing touch to a room when you’re combining your His and Hers items, refreshing a space, switching your décor from season to season, and especially for outdoor entertaining, they add that home décor and design magazine flair that everyone wants! Guests love to give these as gifts, so they’re happy to see them on your list…and you’ll find fabulous pillows in big registry stores as well as in cute little gift shops that offer wedding gift registries of their own — so you can shop locally!

So add a bunch of pillows to your gift list now!

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The pillows shown above are found at Seasons Home & Gifts!

Symbolism of Gemstones: Amethyst


Amethyst is a crystalline quartz in shades of purple, lilac or deep mauve, and according to the American Gem Trade Association, great thinkers in history (like Leonardo DaVinci) believed that amethyst could dissipate evil thoughts and boost intelligence.

Funnily enough, amethyst symbolism also includes “guarding against drunkenness,” since the word ‘amethyst’ comes from a Greek term meaning “without drunkenness.” Not that you can wear an amethyst necklace or bracelet and drink all throughout your reception without getting buzzed – or completely wasted – but it’s an amusing symbolism attributed to this stone.

Here are some other symbolic meanings for this purple gem:

  • Guard against fearful feelings
  • Guard against guilty feelings
  • Guard against self-deception
  • Humilty
  • Piety
  • Spiritual wisdom
  • Focused energy
  • Calmness
  • Royal (purple is traditionally the color of royalty!)

Symbolism of Gemstones: Ruby

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Ruby has been considered by many cultures throughout time to be the most powerful gem in the universe. I know, you’re thinking of the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz right now, and when you read through the list of symbols attributed to the ruby, you’ll get a new look at what those magical, powerful slippers offered Dorothy. And you’ll also see all the positive, empowering symbolism that you can bring to yourself if you select wedding rings or wedding day jewelry with a ruby (or lots of tiny rubies!) in the design!

First, here are some fun FYIs about rubies:

  • If you place a ruby under your pillow, you may ward off bad dreams
  • Rubies should be worn on the left hand to get the most life force out of them, and experience greater protection.
  • Rubies help sexual love to be more passionate
  • Rubies are said to give you courage to reach your higher potential
  • Some cultures warn against wearing a ruby necklace too close to the solar plexus, to raise yours up a bit!
  • If your ruby looks more pink than red, it may actually be a pink sapphire. What you want is the gemological description of ‘pigeon’s blood’ that’s red with a blue undertone for a real ruby tone. Too purple, and you’ve likely got a violet sapphire.
  • Many rubies come from Burma and Thailand.
  • Rubies are commonly exposed to high heat to bring out the deepest, richest red color possible.
  • Beryllium-infused rubies will be on the market sometime soon, perhaps at a lower price point!

Okay, enough with the FYIs. What’s the symbolism of the ruby, all of those good portents you’ll attract by wearing and owning them?

  • Passion
  • Smoldering desire
  • Inextinguishable inner fire
  • Courage
  • Power
  • Friendship and love, when given as a gift
  • Vitality
  • Royalty