No Spend January?

I started out with good intentions. I mean, who feels like shopping for anything other than grocery staples throughout the month of January? I don’t. I really don’t. Especially now that every community around us is surging with omicron and for almost forever, our local hospital has been full of COVID-19 patients. All of this and more make it so easy not to want to go shopping in January. Around ten years ago, I officially began considering January our no-spend month. The rules I follow are: no purchases other than necessary grocery staples like bread, produce, milk, lunch meat, and cat food, and, of course, our regular bills. 

If you follow my YouTube channel, you’ll soon see a tour of our refrigerator and freezer and the list I constructed for our first shop. I stuck pretty close to creating a grocery list with the aforementioned staples plus a couple of toiletries and supplements. Off we went last weekend to Target and Walmart, and as we went to and fro in the stores, we waded through aisle after aisle of things to “organize” your home or pantry with. 

As a professional organizer, we own an organizing business that’s just waiting to reopen should COVID ever leave this area. It always strikes me the amount of stuff stores sell to help get a person “organized.” We worked with quite a few clients who wanted their pantries and kitchen cupboards organized to look pretty like on Pinterest and IG. And while what the client wants is always paramount, we do point out that the way to a more organized pantry or kitchen is to buy less stuff. Some of our clients acknowledge this to be true and ask for us to give them a more pared down look with less clutter, while others buy more stuff or want more stuff to put their stuff in. We organized for clients for almost three years, and the clients who wanted more stuff were always the first ones on our spring list asking for us to schedule time to organize their kitchen and pantry. Job security. What else can I say? We are happy to have them as clients and look forward to getting back to work.

I digress. We also happened to notice a lot more bare shelves. Shelves really have been bare off and on for two years. Most of the food items out of stock were usually items we didn’t buy that often, so no biggie. However, this past weekend, as meat dwindled in our freezer, I thought back to the last three trips we made to a very large, usually fully stocked grocery store and found no meat. Absolutely none of the meat that we bought left. That’s right, no chicken, no ground beef, no pork, and none of the salmon we always buy. As we were leaving the house, I mentioned that perhaps we should stretch the no-spend to include meat. Yes, my hubby answered, that’s a good idea. And don’t forget, we need to buy anniversary cards just in case they go out of stock. I doubt they would, but I noted anniversary cards and then, oh yes, Valentine Candy. Maybe, no, we’d better stick to the no-spend and take our chances in February. 

Off we went, and as I said, once in the stores, everything was all about getting organized. And yes, Valentine’s Day–one of my favorite days of the year, and candy, and cards, and Target had boots on sale (2 pairs left and both my size) and winter coats on discount, all the things. Yes, all the things. Well, we left Target, which by the way, is one of my happy places, with two anniversary cards (the only other time we buy cards is on our birthdays), one bag of Valentine’s Day candy, a set of towels on sale because they’ll never be on sale again, and those two pairs of boots!!

Heads hung in shame, we moved on to the grocery store before all the meat was gone again. Ground beef was $5.99/lb, so we bought what we could–4.5#. Prior to the pandemic, that would be 5 meals’ worth of ground beef. Now it’s close to 10. We bought two roasting chickens for $10.26 each, and I roasted them, stripped them of meat, made broth from the carcasses, chicken/baked potato/carrot meal, chicken salad, chicken soup, and finally chicken wraps with them. For $9.00 each, I was able to buy two packages of salmon, each weighing just over a pound. On the less expensive side, but still way overpriced, I bought some sausages, which were $3.50 more than usual, and walked by our bacon, now priced at $12.99 a package. 

So, you know, I failed at the January no spend challenge. I succeeded in not buying stuff to “organize” my stuff, but failed at January’s no spend. Will I ever be able to do it again? Should I try in February or March? Probably not. As long as there are shortages of really vital items in our diet or household, we’ll buy stuff when we see it rather than have to do without it altogether. I mean, just the merry go round we’re on keeping our cat in cat food is incredibly stressful, never mind my having to inform hubby there’s no meat for a month.

We look forward to a time somewhere in the future where we can return to sticking strictly to a budget, or at least one that has fewer ups and downs in it. We definitely look forward to the return of prices that are considerably lower than what they are now, or at least somewhat lower than what they are now, because we won’t be able to afford the prices that are out there now forever. I’m fine with a no meat diet, but my husband… well, that’s another blog post.

How about you and your family? Do you have no-spend months or periods in your life?

The Family Table

During the holidays, as we all sat balancing our plates on our knees—you see, there were 6 of us and our kitchen table seats 4 comfortably—we talked about the family table. My husband and I sat faithfully at the kitchen table and discussed our daily grind for years. We always promised ourselves we wouldn’t sit with TV trays in the living room watching the news. But, in the last few years, we’ve managed to saunter to the living room, grabbing our laptop tables and eating our meals whilst discussing world news and our daily ups and downs. There we sit like two old people, tired from our day, disgusted with the news we are sharing with one another on our tablets, and just generally winding down in our soft reclining chairs. Those idealistic people who once promised to never eat in front of the television are now realistically tired and so over what’s been going on in the last 2+ years.

That said, we talked with our friends while eating our holiday meal and made promises for the year 2022. And although we can’t fit the table we ordered a couple of years ago (pictured below) into our apartment (we weren’t planning on still being here), we are going to start eating at our kitchen table for every meal again.

West Elm Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table/chairs 60-80″

And by Christmas next year, we are going to fix things differently in this apartment so that our guests and us can eat altogether, without the balancing act, at a table. 

I didn’t grow up in a house where we shared meals as a family at the kitchen table. At 8 or 9, I remember lunch meals, though rare, together. But as the years went by, Dad had more to do and less help, so he often had a packed lunch, and we ate whatever was offered and sometimes sat at the kitchen table, often alone, to eat it. I don’t ever remember eating the evening meal as a family because my siblings and I ate at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and our parents ate supper when the milking chores were done. I remember that if and when we did eat a meal together, talking was not allowed. Even during holiday times, the one time our big beautiful dining room table would be used all year (the rest of the time it was buried in clothing, mail, paperwork, and magazines), we didn’t sit together as a family due to space. My siblings and I were always the only kids and would be put out on the front porch in the summer time, in the living room, or back at the kitchen table during winter meals. 

When my husband and I got married, we couldn’t afford a kitchen table or any other furniture. First we had a card table for a kitchen table, and then eventually we were given a table that had been used in a restaurant. It wasn’t until year 13 when we could afford to buy our own furniture, and then we had a local Amish man make us our very own kitchen table. It’s been an integral part of our lives, from me learning how to sew–a place to set my machine, to kneading bread, to playing board game after board game, taking photos of vegetable hauls every summer, and many, many meals together talking about everything and anything in the world. 

It’s just been these last two years that we’ve fallen away from the practice of eating at the family table, looking up now and again at each other, and talking once again about things other than world news and the events of the last two years. It’s a precious time and one that’s very important for connecting with one another after a long day. We’re getting back to it, and it feels good. How about you? Do you eat at the family table, or as we once did with TV trays while balancing our tablets, or as our friends and I did at Christmas–a balancing act of plates on your knees..?

New Year, Clean Slate & What’s New?

These are just a few of the comments I received in my email over the last two and a half months. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. At a time when “get organized” feels like it is so overstated, the latest buzzword or trend, on everyone’s mind and, quite frankly, many social media posts, I feel very thankful that so many took the time to buy my guide, try some of my suggestions, and take the time to email me their comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m so organized this year!

Taxes done!

I wish I’d downloaded this sooner.

It’s easy and basic but loaded with tips.

I love it. I bought one for my sister too!

This guide is loaded with good information and inspiration.

Thank you.

The best $5.00 I’ve ever spent

Let me say first that I am not one for self-help books, guides, planners, or blog posts about organizing. I agree that most give you a basic outline to follow, and if you do, you can work yourself from total chaos to some form of order. Often, though, the things taught just don’t catch on in your lifestyle, and you’re back to square one next year. My guide is different in that there are no shiny bells and whistles because almost all of it is just easy, common-sense shortcuts to less clutter, chaos, and disorganized living. I would have gladly given the guide away this time, as I did with my first guide, but I spent a lot of time on this one and wanted to get something back for my time. By paying $5.00, you will can receive the personal touch of being able to reach out to me with a question, ask my opinion on a project, share ideas and get feedback, and the best part, I can and will cheer you on!

Buy Now

Until next time, be safe and be well!

The 12 Days of Christmas!

Now that all my “scheduled” posts have been released, let me write my first post in real-time in 2022. 

Christmas is still very much a part of our home life as my husband and I, along with many others worldwide, countdown the 12 days of Christmas. I’m kind of ashamed to say that, until several years ago, I thought the 12 days of Christmas were pre-December 25th. While attending a private Catholic university, I learned that I’d been wrong my whole adult life. The 12 days of Christmas begin on December 25th and end on January 5th (the 12th day), with the Epiphany on January 6th. There is more information about this here and here. Once I learned this, I then explained to my husband, who also had never known this, why our Christmas celebrations would now end after January 5th. 

Growing up, we did not count down the days or celebrate the epiphany, and if it was mentioned in church, I wasn’t paying attention. Yes, we sang the song associated with this celebration, but I never understood its real meaning. Even before this revelation, we always left Christmas up until January 5th. Our traditions were established long before social media began to decide for the masses when Christmas “happened,” and then was “over.” Traditions are very important to me. They really provide a sense of stability and are a central and fundamental part of my life and an important part of my sobriety. Much of what I saw on social media this year and throughout the holidays was commercialism and consumerism. Christmas as I knew it as a kid has left the building. 

Year after year, I grasp hold of memories of Christmases gone by or my idea of Christmas crafted from childhood Christmases, and I create two special weeks for my husband, myself, and friends. On the internet, and in the lives of many influenced by social media, Christmas starts three weeks before Halloween (pumpkins came and went early) and ends on Christmas Day. From December 21st on, all I heard was a lot of wishing for the holidays to be over. That’s sad. Social media has really changed how people look at holidays, vacations, and well, everything. 

By December 27th, social media was already gearing up for spring stuff. So, in case you missed it, we are to be cleaning, organizing, painting our walls white, throwing everything out and buying everything new, and loading up on faux plants and flowers until the real ones are for sale. Sigh.

I saw this Natural Life chirp on Facebook this morning and love it!

In my little world, our tree is still lit, our Christmas lights are still glowing, there are two Christmas movies I still want to watch, and at least a half dozen cookies have yet to be eaten. I’m probably the most organized person I know, and in no way does my tree, its ornaments, or Christmas cookies make my home dirty, full of clutter, or disorganized. If you purchased my guide, you know that my new year starts in the early fall of the previous year, so I’ve been planning and organizing 2022 since September 2021. I’m already all set up for tax time, and again, all things Christmas in our home aren’t getting in my way at all. On January 7th or 8th, we’ll begin the ritual of taking down the tree and storing all of our things until Christmas comes again.

This Christmas we had a Christmas Eve dinner, just the two of us, and I made ham, scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts, corn, homemade dinner rolls, and two salads for dessert. The days leading up to Christmas Eve were a bit hectic. I’ll explain. First, end of year work for a CPA is never-ending, so there was that. I also sell items online, and from just shortly after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve, I sold 373 items. I was quite literally fulfilling orders in the afternoon of Christmas Day to be shipped on 12/26. And just in case you think I let consumerism take me over, I didn’t. I purposely left my items up for sale vs. pausing them because many, many people who are alone on Christmas buy themselves something special on the day. I know this because they told me this. I’m not selling high end items, but rather sentimental collectibles we own. I’ve been selling on eBay for twenty years and, to this day, December 25th is still my busiest day. All proceeds go toward paying down my student loans, which gets us one step closer to moving to our forever home. Besides all the selling, I also took care of a friend for 11 days right before Christmas who was recovering from surgery. Along with caring for a friend, I single-handedly baked 60 dozen assorted cookies and gave away all but 3 dozen of them. Hubby and I also put in 18 hours of volunteering and re-organized my home office, taking 6 bags to Goodwill, so that our Christmas guests (2) had a room to sleep in. Whew, writing this out makes me wonder, as I often do, how on earth I managed to get this all done? 

On Christmas Day, we had four guests, and I served leftover ham, turkey, glazed carrots, roasted cauliflower and beets, homemade rolls, salad, stuffing, and Key lime pie for dessert. On New Year’s Eve, we had two friends over for BBQ ribs, chicken wings, roasted potatoes, pecan pie, and we played board games. Here’s something that is rarely talked about anymore: gifts. Besides world peace and more kindness everywhere, I asked for books and movies. It’s what I always ask for–here’s what I got:

My husband wanted clothing and a couple of movies. For our household between my birthday and Christmas, we bought several kitchen appliances from Drew Barrymore’s Beautiful line. I’ve been using makeup from her makeup line forever and LOVE all of it. We spent $100.00 on each other and $175.00 on a Dutch oven, an air fryer, and an 8-qt. slow-cooker. We got the money for all of our gifts from a garage sale we had in the summer of 2021. We also purchased Christmas ornaments, antiques for friends, and kitchen gadgets for the hubby’s stocking at local stores and bought crafts from local churches.

Here is a great recipe for the Galette des Rois (in my blog post photo). Happy 12th Day of Christmas, the eve of Epiphany.

Just to add it in—we felt pretty fortunate that we were able to entertain this year. We definitely planned it all out —those we had over are remote workers who have been vaccinated. We all tested negative before getting together, and we all tested negative days and weeks after being together. I’ve made a point of not sharing too much of my feelings on COVID, but will say that staying healthy and COVID-free has really taken an enormous amount of work, money, sacrifice, social distancing, and masking on our part. No matter your feelings on what I’ve said about what we’ve done–it has worked thus far for us.

There’s really not much more I want to say about it, but I will speak of the money, work, and sacrifices we’ve made to keep us safe. Money: we have had to purchase all of my husband’s PPE. We have also purchased our own masks for private use. We paid for our booster shots because when we went to get them, the county nurse said we were six days early, and when we said we’d come back in a week, we were told she wasn’t going to open this particular booster for two shots. So we had to fill out forms and include all of our insurance information so Walgreen’s could charge a fee to our insurance company for our booster. Our sacrifices are mainly personal—travel, going out to dinner, movie theaters, though I will say we’ve done without a lot because we haven’t qualified for any of the relief money, thankfully we both still have our jobs, and none of my student loans are federal so–no pause on any of my loans. We’ve also spent money protecting ourselves that should have gone on debt or in savings. We’ve always been socially distant as we are those people that don’t like to get sick. Neither of us likes to have colds or the flu, so we stay away from people in general during sick season. Masks have been a big thing. Regardless of the debate, as a former healthcare professional, I know they work. Simply put, if they didn’t work at all, why would health professionals wear gloves and masks during procedures/doctor visits/surgery? Many of the things I’ve done in healthcare required me to wear a mask. I am probably one of the biggest proponents of freedom I know, having spent time in jail many years ago. I have never, nor would I ever, give someone the side-eye or talk badly about them choosing not to mask up or get a vaccine. I may not agree with them, but they would never know that about me. Since we started wearing masks, I’ve been spit on, coughed on numerous times, had people cut in line blatantly and then act up, been called names, laughed at and mocked, and gotten dirty looks—dozens of them each time we go out. I live in a state that just recently had the designation of having the most COVID cases. In that state, I live in the county with the most COVID cases out of 72 counties. We have a small hospital with about a dozen beds that have been nearly full or full for almost 16 months. Other local hospitals are full, and bigger city hospitals are not accepting transfers between hospitals anymore. The demographic for this area with the most deaths right now is females aged 55-75. I am 57. Besides a handful of friends, we know no one who hasn’t been sick with COVID. I know at least 30 people who have died from COVID and have lost two close friends to it. My husband and I are all each other has and I’m the only person our cat will eat for–neither one of us wants to die alone in a hospital. It could happen to either one of us. Yes, I think of these morbid possibilities often.

I’ll take the loss of my personal freedoms, even if it means being laughed at and coughed on, if it means we live another day. I say this as a vaccinated person because, even vaccinated, I am 57. I smoked for 25 years, drank heavily for a decade, and I’ve also had health issues over the years. My husband has bad allergies and scar tissue on his lungs. It would be really scary if he got sick. So, we do what we do, and that’s where we are right now.

And oh ya, I’m still enjoying Christmas over here.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

Design Your Day

Pink Tulips

I read an article a few weeks ago about how the first thing that most people living in the U.S. do upon waking is look at their phones. Forgive me if I say, “I cannot imagine that being the way I could or would start any day.”

Let me explain—I grew up in the 70s, and most people I knew had a phone for work, gossip, keeping in touch (though long distance calls were expensive), and emergencies. People usually didn’t call before 8am and generally stopped calling by 10pm. Few received calls during dinner time unless someone in the family was dying. The only decisions one had to make about their phone were the color and whether to mount it on a desk or on a wall.I think service ran about $20.00 or so a month, more if long distance calls or calls out of your exchange were made. The area I grew up in was late in getting telephone wires in, so initially, in the 70s, we still had a party line. Our phone would ring a certain ring, and unless it was “our” ring, we didn’t pick it up. If you did pick up, you could hear people conversing and would be kindly told the line was engaged and to hang up.

Getting back to my point— if the first thing I looked at was my phone, I would be instantly stressed out. Phones nowadays, like social media, are hungry for you to engage with them. Someone is always sharing something, talking about something, telling you about something, needing or wanting you for something. No more hiding from the world on social media. No longer can a person take the proverbial phone off the hook. Oh, people silence them on vibrate, ignore calls, and turn off their phones. But, realistically, for how long?

To live with intention, to design one’s day, cannot and should not start with scrolling Instagram, perusing Facebook, or texting messages back and forth about this, that, and the other thing. Designing your day from that standpoint relies almost completely on what others are engaged in, their day, and your perception/response to it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m often distracted by Instagram. There are so many pretty flower photos to look at, and then there are camera tutorials, and look!–more flower photos. But, I get distracted by these kinds of things when I don’t feel like doing anything. My distraction can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour–where 10 minutes is my general rule for being distracted, there have been times it’s been a full hour. My day’s plan begins to fade fast if I’m distracted for an hour or more on social media. Then there is the comparison game of who takes better pictures, who has more likes, how many followers, how can we go on that vacation, new furniture, kitchen remodel, and on and on. It’s not hard to see how plans and intentions for the day can go off track when there are so many things being added daily to our lists of wants and needs.

Make the things that are yours to do your intent. Make them your purpose. Fill your list with the wants and needs of your family, your goals, and wishes. Start your day by focusing directly on your home, your to-do list, and the things that you have set aside to work on today. This doesn’t mean you can’t use social media. Social media can and does serve a purpose– inspiration, connection, friendships, and more. That said, I think it can be hard to accomplish the things you want to accomplish in your life if you’re often looking at your life vs. someone else’s life through social media. Sometimes you can get drawn into someone else’s narrative and forget about your own.

Design your day intentionally. Be present. Take some time to be still. Instead of looking at something on your phone to make you laugh, or entertain you, or distract you, take a look around at your own life. Take stock of what’s going on in your life. Look at your life from your own perspective, not through someone else’s. Often times, we see how someone on social media responds to happiness, tragedy, stress, death, etc. and begin to think there is something wrong with us if we’re responding differently. It’s important to remember that what is shared on social media, most of the time, is the best of someone’s life, of themselves, and of their family, job, or home. Yes, sometimes there is a conciliatory picture of someone’s messy laundry room–as if to say, “See, we’re alike, I’m just like you.” And you may very well have that same thing in common, but unless you know every little thing about that person’s life 24/7/365, chances are their life is way different than the life they’re portraying online. So, take a minute and breathe, exhale, breathe, exhale, and get ready to design your best day!

I enjoyed this article in the Huffington Post a few years ago–The Best Reason to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others on Social Media.

I hope your holidays were fabulous! Thanks for stopping by!

Humbled, Thank you!

I have been writing posts for this blog since 2008 and have thoroughly enjoyed having a space to write in, hit the submit button, and send it off into the internet. I’ve always had this very freeing feeling of never really knowing if anyone ever reads them and being o.k. with that. Truth–for the first three years no one did (zero views). Having no one read my posts didn’t stop me, and, to this day, my number one reason for posting is still my love for writing them. I am very happy that in the last few years I’ve had so many like my posts, comment, and email me. I’ve even had a few readers that disagreed with posts that I’ve written. Which, is alright too, because much of what they’ve disagreed with–usually my point of view, only made me work harder to create posts that allowed for other points of view. Which of course, enriches us all!

In 2020 my blog started growing and in order to publish my Pantry Stock Up Guide, I chose to pay for my blog. Which was a first and definitely something I promised myself I’d never do. That said in order to take payments, I had to upgrade to the $8/mo plan. I agreed to do this because I so believed in my guide and had spent a long time on it making it simple, easy to follow, and inexpensive for everyone. I never imagined that close to 1200 people would download it in just a couple of months. I have received so many comments, compliments, suggestions, and thanks. I am truly humbled and may I say proud of what I accomplished. I hope to one day have something so much better than my little guide, but for now, I am happy with what it is.

As the year winds down I find myself as always taking inventory of what I have time for in my free time. As the years go on I seem to have less time than more–funny how that works. I don’t think I’d ever give up blogging, and definitely not now when there’s so much to blog about. That said, I’m still of the belief blogs are slowly dying, even though, like me, writers aren’t willing to give up on them. I think keeping a blog for the sake of being able to say –“I’m a blogger”, but not really being that into it, or keeping up with it, or engaging with your audience, is the reason so many find their blog is dead. If the only likes or comments you get on your blog are from friends whose blogs you visit and leave likes and comments on and traffic only increases on your blog if you join blog challenges/but at no other time–your blog is dead.

Many of the blogs I’ve followed over the years are gone. I followed 22 blogs at the beginning of 2021 and just three of them are alive and thriving today. Some just disappeared without a word. Others couldn’t find a way to make an income so they just stopped altogether–no updates and lots of posts missing/dead links. Many were selling services or products that buyers just aren’t searching for right now. I have discovered, through looking at some really successful blogs, that there is a commonality between them. And that is that they have all started YouTube channels and are adding videos that accompany/complement each of their blog posts. If you have any kind of DIY or cooking/recipe sharing type of blog you need to be posting videos of you creating, cooking, baking, mixing, etc. Otherwise, why bother?

Personally I like all kinds of blogs, and especially like newsletters, but have grown tired of so many of them being carbon copies of one another. Same with blogs–the content has no originality or focus, it’s full of affiliate links, and the posts are inconsistent. I think a lot of people want to have blogs–they just don’t know how much time it takes to create good content. Same with their social media–all the super successful people I know work 24/7 on content. They take breaks, of course they do, but not two week breaks. The blogs that disappeared this year from my follow list were by bloggers who stopped blogging 12/21 and came back 1/5 of this past year. I like taking breaks too, esp. when on vacation or at Christmas time, so I schedule posts.

I’m pretty certain not all my followers celebrate all the holidays I do. They look for posts to read at all times of the year and if all they can find here is old posts, and no me for two weeks, well no matter how much they might like me–they move on. If this happens enough times, then yes, the only person left to read your posts will be dear old Aunt Mabel or your BFF. Since November 27th I’ve had almost 900 views and 90% of the posts people are reading are from 2019 and 2020. The people reading my current posts are followers of mine on WordPress. All of my new followers in that same time period are from people who found my blog via old posts. They found my blog because 2-3 times a week 52 weeks of the year I create new posts. WordPress must like this because they have started sending me notices encouraging me to continue doing what I’m doing because “I’m getting noticed!” If I was blogging for money, sponsors etc. this would be a very promising announcement for me.

Online time is just a few minutes for me of my free time. I give loads of praise to people who commit 100% of their time to creating a business online and working it every day. For those that believe it takes less work than that, well, you’re fooling yourself. I am ever so grateful my job is not online anymore. From 2003 until 2008 I worked full-time selling stuff on eBay, Amazon, and my own website. I worked an 18 hour a day hustle and it was the hardest work I’d ever done mentally until I started college. So, my hats off to you if online is how you make your money! You know the keys to success and what it takes to stay relevant in today’s world.

Again, thank you everyone. Thanks for following along, liking my posts, reaching out to me, and all the holiday greetings and compliments on my Pantry Stock Up/Organizing Guide. Also, a big thank you to all who clicked on my goodreads reviews. I believe I’ve written about this past-time of mine in a previous post? I’ve been reviewing books for years for a couple of online book sites–for free. A couple of years ago, because of these endeavors, I ended up being asked by two very well-known publishing companies to review books for a handful of their authors. From this I’ve been contacted by agents to review a book by authors I am familiar with and have left reviews for previously. Last year I was contacted by someone who represents an author that I’ve read books by since I was 17 years old and asked to review her latest book. I read and reviewed her book and later was contacted and thanked directly by the author herself. That author being the highly esteemed and well-known Barbara Taylor Bradford. A dream come true– and one I never expected as I’ve spent 10 years reviewing books by first-time authors. I’ve so enjoyed all of my experiences and hope to continue to find the time to enjoy this past-time of mine.

Until next year, be safe and be well.