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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Unfaithful Widow, Latest Post On 'The Balancing Act' Lifetime TV Blog!

This Christmas

My big decision this year is how late to stay open at my shop on Christmas Eve. I have no one to spend Christmas Eve with, so spending it at the shop is a great option. If I pushed, I could make plans. But this year I feel like winging it. This is my fourth Christmas as a widow and each year brings something different. Each Christmas leaves an impression unlike the year before.

My husband died in May. In December there were so many old memories, but I was grabbing at life as quickly as I could, and Christmas brought magic, not tears. No I didn't go see family. For twenty-five years we trecked to North Carolina for Christmas with his mother, back to the house for a day, then a trip down to see my mother in Florida, for New Year's Eve. Two dogs went with us. Packing them in the van was the hardest. Bigger dogs needed room. I'd make a platform in front of the seats with luggage covered in traveling quilts. Both dogs could stretch out looking ahead, fresh air hitting them from the front, keeping the dog puke factor down. Going over a huge mountain top meant one of the two would most likely get car sick. They loved the holidays and travel. I loved having them with us. My husband hated dog puke in the van.

The first Christmas on my own, I still had my two dogs. We stayed home. Mother and mother-in-law had their own plans. I refused to travel. I had lunch with my bff on Christmas day. She is a trained chef - now that was a Christmas dinner to remember. At seven I had a date. I tried dating too soon after my husband died. I wrote about it in my book. But I needed to be out in life to accept my new life alone. I met my date at the only local pub open on Christmas night. We drank coffee and talked about everything. His remark to me, which sums up how well I dated then, "Oh Barbara, Barbara, what are we going to do with you?" Somehow my husband got me, but no other male has since. But all and all, it was a lovely Christmas. We jumped in his huge black truck and went on a tour of lights in the surrounding neighborhoods. The evening ended with us eating pancakes at The Waffle House at 10 PM. He dropped me back at my car and I swear I heard him yell, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night", as he waved goodbye and disappeared into the night. We did not go out again, but he was my own Santa sharing Christmas memories to brighten my night.

My second Christmas, it was time for family. I flew my mother up from Florida and we hugged and laughed around the Christmas tree. By now the dogs had changed, as one had left me for dog heaven, but I had adopted three rescue dogs. So we had four dogs to make it a rollicking holiday. Friends came to visit, Each had a dog for their lap. They all loved my mother. Late at night she and I relaxed in our jammies and watched romantic Christmas movies. A Christmas full of love with my mother by my side.

Last Christmas I have trouble remembering. I had just signed a lease to open a shop the day after I launched my one and only copy of an online dog magazine. My dog number had grown to six. I didn't travel. I didn't date. I did see my bff. But I spent a quiet holiday, content with my dogs, sitting by the Christmas tree, making plans to open my storefront in January. My not being able to remember the details tells me two things, it was quiet and I accepted being on my own at the holidays. It was unremarkable in one way, and very remarkable in another. I was comfortable in my own skin being in my home with my dogs on Christmas.

This Christmas, I am the laziest of all. My shop is brimming with decorations. My house is a bit lackluster for the holidays.

I am in the Christmas spirit. You can't have a shop full of twinkling lights and customers coming in wishing you "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" without catching the merriment. I have a tree decorated for the "Festival of Trees" for charity. I slip little trinkets to folks who come in the shop with their children. "Take a small ornament from the tree. It's free!" I like to watch the kids trying to decide which they like best. So Christmas at my shop is in full swing.

At home, I have a small silver tinsel tree with tiny white lights that sparkle in the dark. A few of my favorite artist crafted angels sit on my mantel. There are no other decorations, there are no presents under the little tree. I watch my Christmas movies snuggled with five dogs (I lost my old girl this year). There is no big hoopla. No road trips. I have a shop to manage and this is the busiest of times for it.

My shop has brought an unexpected gift this year. New friends. I still don't have a customer base to bring in cash sales, but I am rich in friendships now. That is something money can't buy. Perhaps that is what I love best about my shop and why I work hard to keep it. The people I meet fill me with comfort and joy. I am having Christmas dinner with a new single girlfriend this week. (Single friends are hard to come by when you have spent most of your adult life as a couple). Another friend has invited me to Christmas brunch with her family. I will see my bff later on Christmas day.

So much money has gone into my shop this year, I am not worrying about spending it on presents. I have freed myself from the need to spend money on gifts that no one really wants. We've all talked about that, and are good with it. What I am giving this year is love. I think that is a gift that is needed daily, not just for the holiday season. I will call my family and friends and tell them, "I love you!" We'll talk about memories past and look towards the future.

My shop will be open Christmas Eve as late as it needs to be. I don't expect a last minute customer to run in to buy a gift, but it is possible someone will be visiting the square, alone, trying to fill time on a holiday that is full of families. I've been there myself. A new friend at Christmas is the best gift of all. When I lock the door and head home, five dogs will be anxious to see me. I will feed them and starting calling my loved ones! I'll start with my mother. "I love you!" Then my cell will be busy all night.

Check out the post on The Balancing Act and leave a comment if you wish!

Wishing all of you a happy and safe holiday!  Hugs, Barbara

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Its Time To Write A New Book! Thanks to The Balancing Act, I Am Getting My Act Together!

I write every day. I post blogs in various places. I talk about pulling them together into a new book. My brain spins trying to decide what to do first and how/where to go. A recent segment on The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television's morning show for women, has given me an answer and a bit of a challenge!

Sarah Gilbert, Lulu Press, was interviewed on The Balancing Act about creating personal books for friends and families. You can see the interview and read more about Lulu Press by clicking here., founded in 2002, is the leading self-publishing company in the industry with 1.1 million creators and 20,000 titles added to their collection each month. They provide anyone with the ability to publish print books, eBooks, mini-books, photo books, calendars, cookbooks and travel books. This means personalizing custom books or even calendars for the holidays.

I like the idea of a small personal book that I can share with my friends and family. Something to have fun with, rather than the ordeal of trying to piece together my next masterpiece! Although Lulu offers those services too.

Stay tuned and I will take you step by step on my journey with Lulu Press.

Interested in joining me? Do your own personal book with Lulu Press, e-mail me with your book info and I'll share it here!

Let's get creative and have some fun with Lulu!

Visit Lulu Press on Facebook and become a fan! 27,381 fans can't be wrong! Look for coupons and special offers with Lulu on Facebook.

A few of the services Lulu offers in addition to helping you self-pubish your book!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Awkward Family Pet Photos", In Book Stores Today

I received a review copy of this book and it is a must have for pet lovers! Available today in bookstores!

I grew up with many odd animals, not just cats and dogs! "Awkward Family Pet Photos" brought back memories that made me smile!

The website is as wonderful as the book! Check it out

Run, don't walk, to your nearest book store! "Awkward Family Pet Photos", the funniest pet book you'll see this season, is available today. This book will steal the hearts of all animal lovers. “Awkward Family Pet Photos” is a must have book for anyone who loves their pets. It is mostly a book of outrageous photos of pets and their owners, mixed in with text and stories about some of the pet photos.

You know me. I must write one of the only widow blogs that constantly features dogs! My dogs rescued me, I like to say. Pets are a vital part of any family and are with you through the good times and help you through the bad. I sleep with my five. When you find a man who finds that a plus, call me! The photo below gave me hope!

Maybe this is the guy for me?
One of the few black and white photos in book.
Pet Noir.

As a pet owner myself I am as guilty as the next at dressing my dogs up for special occasions. My chihuahua wears a bunny suit at Easter, my female dogs pose in vintage hats, and my late German Shepherd looked fabulous in a fedora. I love taking photos of my dogs.

The late Mr. Jake. He could wear a hat!

We take for granted that our pets love these antics as much as we do. This book proves that most likely they do. Every page is chock full of color photographs of all kinds of pets. We all think of dogs and cats in family photos, this book goes way beyond the normal family pet, to include some extremely unusual critters that just don’t come to mind when you say “pet”. Yet each photo demonstrates the love of the owner for its special animal.

At first glance at this book, my head started to spin. There are so many photos it is overwhelming. This book is a bit kitschy with its brightly dazzling high gloss color images. Each page is chock full of images so that you can’t just flip through the book and toss it aside as a pretty coffee table book. The more you look at the pages and photographs, the more you see and the more you laugh. I love that this book will take time to ingest. I have many animal books that I’ve looked at and put away to browse through later. You can’t do that with “Awkward Family Pet Photos”, because you want to go back again and again to see what you’ve missed!

The chapters cover dogs, cats, birds, exotic pets, farm animals, family portraits, and holidays with pets. I was very captivated with some of the exotic photos, which included a couple who met while walking their sugar gliders (this actually reminded me of my mother, who had two sugar gliders. I never knew about sugar gliders until mom rescued the pair from a young man), the woman with a opossum in her hair (my old high school boyfriend and I shared two pet opossums, he'd bring his when he visited me and my female Opie), and the family portrait with the snake intertwined around everyone’s head (remember that 7 ft indigo snake, mom, that left mites on all the kids?). The book made me smile and brought back memories of my childhood with a mother who loved exotic animals more than cats and dogs. She has two cats now, but that is another story!

Photo from book. Is that a pet Tiger?

My favorite chapter, however, is the last on Awkward Pets, catching some animals in mighty strange positions! The sweetest in that category is the “bum sniffer” where the dog is sniffing a baby’s butt.

The humor in this book is as amazing as the photos. I went online to check the book out further, and found a YouTube video with a young woman reading the book and laughing so hard she kept tripping from room to room as she flipped through the book. You will laugh your bum off too when you start reading this charming, funny look at life with animals.

Kudos to Mike Bender and Doug Chernack for coming up with a winner! The book is available today in bookstores. If you love animals you owe it to yourself to buy several copies of this book. You will want to keep yours and it will make the perfect holiday gift for your favorite pet lovers.

My own awkward pet moment! That's Princess from The Flying Feathers, featured several times at my shop. I used this photo on a dating site with the heading, Dating Is For The Birds. Wonder why no one contacted me?

Do yourself a big favor! Buy a copy of this charming book today. Check your local book store or buy online with the link on the book website!

Now, excuse me, gotta run. I am inspired to go torture the dogs and take some photos of them wearing the new cowboy hats I purchased for my shop!  Yippee-ki-yay!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Sleep Better And Win! Sweepstakes. A Win-Win For All!

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead! You’ve heard that from me before. I love that phrase! It makes me feel fearless. I stay up so late at night, it is sometimes morning by the time I crawl into bed. Not that bright sunshiny morning, but that early morning when the rest of the world is still sleeping (except for those on the night shift) and I am just pulling the quilt over my head.

I don’t sleep alone. I sleep with five dogs. Four sleep on the bed, the fifth, my only male, stays in the doorway protecting us from whatever demons he still sees. Of all my rescue dogs, Bray is the one who still looks up in fear if there is a loud noise or a quick movement. He is a mixed breed Afghan. His fur is long and black and he looks disheveled most of the time. The fur spikes at the top of his ears, make him appear like the Rod Stewart of dog world.

I can watch my dogs most nights as they sleep and stretch, because so much light comes through the mini-blinds on my windows. Moonlight, streetlights, and sometimes the outside night light flashes on when a critter runs by the motion detector. Too much light coming into the room at night, does not allow for total rest. I am learning more about how sleep affects my health, and I need to get better sleep habits.

The way you feel during the day, hinges on how you sleep at night. One of the key components to a better night’s sleep is darkness. My bedroom is well lit from the outside most every night. Turning off my bedside lamp darkens my room for a minute, then my eyes adjust, and the light shining in allows me to see the outline of everything in the room. There is no rest for me! No wonder I am tired most days. I can accomplish much with little sleep, but the quality of my sleep is poor.

Thanks to my friends at The Balancing Act, Lifetime TV’s morning show for women, I have found a solution and a great contest to enter.

Let me tell you about it.

The Official Curtain of the National Sleep Foundation, SoundAsleep ™ Room Darkening Curtains, will be appearing on The Balancing Act on October 24th and November 21st. (7 AM Weekdays). These curtains marry fashion, function, and design to create the perfect sleep environment for everyone. Their room darkening technology reduces penetrating light, which allows for a key factor for a good night’s sleep…darkness. They are available in 10 colors and 4 lengths, with 2 valance style options. Prices range from $19.99 to $34.99 depending on the curtains length. They are made out of washable textured chenille fabric and easy to purchase on Amazon.

The Sleep Better and Win! Sweepstakes will award a $500 Amazon Gift Card on November 23rd and the grand winner, to be announced on December 9th, will get a $1500 Amazon Gift Card.

The contest has already begun, but you can enter now! Just go the Sound Asleep Curtains Facebook Page and Like them. You will receive one entry for the sweepstakes, and may receive additional entries for sharing their page with your friends. Complete details on Facebook.

Just think, you could win an Amazon gift card, buy your curtains, and still have a big holiday spending spree.

A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy day. It can be as simple as buying a lovely pair of room darkening curtains. Now that is a winning situation.

Follow on Twitter too!

We'd like some sleep too. Get those curtains!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Win a 2012 Suzuki In Lifetime TV's "The Balancing Act" Sweepstakes!

Great Prizes In the 3rd Annual Balancing Act Back To School Sweepstakes!

I love blogging for 'The Balancing Act'. Their online website is amazing. Not only is it a great site for information on women's issues and family news, it is amazingly interactive. Follow the videos of the latest TV interviews, read posts from a super list of bloggers covering issues that are relevant in today's world - or just plain fun to read! Exercise, news, book reviews, recipes, healthy choices, the amount of information is incredible and relevant to our lives as women. The TV show "The Balancing Act" is on Lifetime TV and can be found weekday mornings from 7am to 8am.

Right now you can win a 2012 Suzuki by entering their 3rd Annual Back To School Sweepstakes. Link here to go to the form to enter. How easy is that?

Then once you've entered, move around their site and see all the wonderful things they have to offer. Like The Balancing Act on Facebook. Keep up with all you need to know to make your life a happy, better place and have lots of fun with the great folks on this show.

The Balancing Act on Lifetime and The Southern Women's Show are bringing the popular morning women's show to life- with the "Balance Your Life" Road Tour". Join them as they launch the fall "Balance Your Life" series in Charlotte, NC on September 15th-18th. There will be exciting new exhibits from the many sponsors, celebrity guests, prizes...and so much more!

Check out this partial list of locations, then link above to the Road Tour, for a more complete schedule.

September 15 - 18, 2011 Women's Show Charlotte

October 6 - 9, 2011 Women's Show Birmingham

October 13 - 16, 2011 Women's Show Orlando

Meet a wonderful group of bloggers online! You can read my posts on Monday (or sometimes it is Tuesday, because, as all of you who know me, know by now, I am always a little late!). I am the CEO of Life on Monday! Click here or on the link on my sidebar for The Balancing Act blog!

Please, dear Balancing Act, put Atlanta on your tour one day. We are full of exciting women and offer lots of Southern Hospitality! Meanwhile, thank you for including me with your blogging team. It is my pleasure to be part of such an exciting group!

Join the mailing list for 'The Balancing Act' and get their online newsletter. Click here!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Latest Blog On The Balancing Act Made It To Their FaceBook Page. Cool!

While I have a Monday blog post on Lifetime Television's The Balancing Act each week I was very surprised and honored they posted my latest musings on their national Face Book page. If you'd like to read the entire post you can link to it here.  My handle is The CEO of Life. What does that stand for, you might ask! Creative, energized and old enough to know better! Truth is, if you know me, I don't know better - I just forge ahead. One of my favorite quotes, from an unknown source: I don't know why I did it, I don't know wy I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!

Widow Lesson Learned: You can find the light in the darkness! But I think I have been saying that for several years now that I have been on my own. A chill pill from Mother Nature helped me remember that!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?

What will I be when I grow up? Dreaming and working hard to have my dreams come true!

Every day I ask myself a question. It is usually the same question. What am I doing?

It is then followed by a second question, What will I be when I grow up?

Just because you are older, doesn't mean you've reached your final destination.

Life changes can  open doors and if you walk through them, amazing things can happen. Sometimes a change can be triggered by a sad event. Mine came from the death of my husband. I needed a new life, but I had no idea how or what to do. I just started moving forward.

Don't wait for a sad event to walk a new path. Sometimes it is just time to do something new. Reinvent yourself. Finally give in to the muse that has been haunting you for years.  Courage and faith move you when your feet are slow to take steps.

You can teach an old dog new tricks. (Yes, I revert to the dog saying, because I am Writer With Dogs on many sites!) The only dogs I can't teach new tricks are the spoiled pups at my house! But, I am older, and I am learning new things by leaps and bounds!

The last three years my creative energy has exploded!  I wrote my book. I self-published it. I started two more books. I launched a one-time online full color dog magazine. I became an independent publishing company, but only have my web page to show for it, "Gilbert Street Press", coming soon. I opened a small antique gift shop, with a twist, I have weekly art openings, book signings, and live music. I called it, The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques, the longest name I could think of for my tiny space. Then I opened the shop next to it as my events center, because I needed more room for all the lovely artists that started coming to my shop. Last week I opened  a third building, the Old Town Lilburn Center For The Arts. In six months I have expanded my vision for this tiny hub called Old Town that I love. My smiling, sweating face, in front of my shop, was featured on the cover on Lilburn's Up Close And Personal magazine, that is mailed to every Lilburn household. I am now President of the newly formed Old Town Merchants Association.

I still have my pack of dogs, missing my old gal Foxy, but five dogs keeps me pretty well loved. I am working on my books and publishing company, will have them in place by end of year. My inspiration - I need to get those start-up expenses on my tax returns! Now there is a creative incentive.

I blog on the Lilburn Patch. com and on The Balancing Act for Lifetime TV. I still find time to play catch-up on my own blogs.

I love all I am doing. I am doing everything but making money. I tell myself time will sort this out. I have faith I am where I am supposed to be at this time of my life. I turn 63 in August, two months away, and wonder every day, What will I be when I grow up?

I don't plan to be old and broke!

I have a plan. It is an odd one. It is centered on faith. Faith that what I am doing now includes more than just my having a business and succeeding. The little downtown area I chose to open my shop in was slowly vanishing. It is two half streets of shops, a city hall, and a large city park with incredible walking trails. The restaurant had just closed as I signed my lease last December, which has had a huge impact on shopping traffic. The restaurant closed for personal reasons. It was doing a whiz bang business. It was a very sad day for Old Town and the many people who loved the restaurant and its friendly owner. Six months later it is still the talk of the town because it is missed.

The city of Lilburn is huge, full of strip malls and subdivisons, the down town, historic area, is tiny. The railroad tracks cross Main Street. When I sit in my big wing chair, covered in vintage rose fabric, I smile when I hear that train. It drowns out any chance of continuing a conversation if I am in the middle of one, but it reminds me of all the charm that surrounds me.

Everything I have worked on is now centered in Old Town. I feel this year some answers will come and the historic hub is on the verge of something good! New merchants are filling empty buildings and with them comes the enthusiam of the young.

Me? Yeah, I am older. But I am not old. I am as excited as any of the younger folks coming into the area. I hope in some way my shops will inspire artists and authors of all ages to be proud of their art form. My shops will give them a voice. My plan is to slowly find others who want to rent and take over part of my three buildings. I hated the term, it takes a village, when it first came out. Now I am saying those words and loving them. It will take a village of talented writers and artists to keep my shop and Old Town rejunivated. It is a very exciting time to look forward to what may be and not back at what has gone.

What will I be when I grow up? I hope to be asking myself that question until my last breath. The journey of discovery of what I can be, what we all can be, is the best travel plan of all. You don't need answers when you have such an inspiring question!

Widow Lesson Learned:  It is never to late to discover your inner muse.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Farewell To My Dear Foxy

An Aging Dog was my post on April 11, 2011 on Lifetime Televisions' blog for The Balancing Act. My dear Foxy was the subject of that post, and how I worried about her days coming to an end. Good for Foxy, she lasted another few weeks. But on May 5th I had to make the hardest decision ever, to let Foxy leave this world for a better place. Her body was just giving out on her. My post An Aging Dog was a hopeful one, for I did not have to make that decision in April. I had the extra time to pamper Foxy and tell her how much I loved her. Five other dogs watched with envy that she got chicken in her kibble and they didn't. Five dogs, five pretty smart dogs, now know why and say, "no thanks" to chicken! I was blessed I had Foxy fifteen years. She was the dog that came to my husband and me when our big dog Boy died. She made us smile again. She is the dog that stayed by my side when my husband died. She watched Jake my other dog, leave us nine months later. Then she watched, not always so gleefully, five new rescue dogs come into our house. Five dogs who respected Foxy, because she was the leader of our pack. She was graceful, elegant, and a very good sport. I am sharing a repeat of some of her early photos when I sold on Ebay and put photos of Foxy in vintage hats on my auctions to grab that extra attention. I will always miss Foxy, as I miss my husband. Lucky for me I have five dogs that make me laugh and would not let me be sad for long.

I call myself Writer With Dogs on many blogs. A writer with six dogs, now a writer with five. I have trouble with the math when the dogs come in. I still have to count to be sure they all are there, but the total still confuses me as I know one is missing, but where all good dogs go at the end of their days.

Will I get another? My pack is pretty close and they are a united front. That is the only reason I may hold off on adding another. If I didn't have my five, you can bet I'd be out looking for a new dog in a heart beat.

Many people have said they can't go through the pain of loss again. I look at it as the joy of love, and I'll go through that on any day of the week!

To my dear Foxy, who opened her heart to take in five dogs that annoyed her most days, but loved being the center of all that attention.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Follow-Up To My Post On Cypress Gardens and Esther Williams

A Blast From The Past!

I wrote my last post about beautiful Cypress Gardens. My brother, who is the family genealogist and has all the photos, some black mail worthy, e-mailed this gentle reminder to me. There are the three of us (me, my sis Pammie and little bro, Steve) meeting with Esther Williams, at Cypress Gardens! OMG! What a photo and just how many years ago was that? Way many! Thanks, Steve, for sending this gem to me! Your loving older sis!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vintage Postcard Takes Me Back In Time To Winter Haven, Florida

I love old postcards and am always adding to my collection. This one brought back so many memories I had to share it with you!

Azalea Time at Cypress Gardens, circa 1930 - 1945, printed by Lakeland News Company.

I graduated from Winter Haven High School, we won't say just when. But I can honestly say I was not born when this card was printed! Winter Haven is the home of Cypress Gardens and I remember it well.

Cypress Gardens was Florida's first theme park. Founded in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope, Cypress Gardens was a showcase for Central Florida and paved the way for other parks such as Disney and Universal to follow. The beautiful botanical gardens became the backdrop for beautiful belles and peaceful boat rides, as well as many movies and thousands of advertising campaigns over the years. Many stars walked its paths. To name a few: Betty Davis, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Esther Williams and Elvis.

Cypress Gardens was proclaimed the Water Ski Capitol of the World, and became the birthplace of performance water skiing in 1941. In 1962, Dick Pope turned the reins of the park over to his son, Dick Pope, Jr.

To read more about Cypress Gardens and see a water ski video click on this link!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dogs And Decorating, partie deux

Tommy Bahama in the living room!
Oh so many changes in the house! Now that I have my shop, I need to have the dogs in a spot where they will behave better! That large picture window with its continuous parade of dogs, people, and the UPS truck, drive my dogs crazy! I need them away from all that visual stimulation.

So I have done some doggie and human redecorating. My sunroom, which is my office, and never has been comfortable, although full of old Bar Harbor white wicker, has been turned into a den. I've moved my great old paint cupboard to the back wall, and made room for a Salvation Army couch (like new, $115.00) and a Last Chance Thrift Store comfy chair and ottoman (like new, for $30). Yeah, eat your heart out. I know where to shop! And you can buy some of my great finds at The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques at very reasonable prices too!

The antique wicker is going to my late husband's cousin in Bloomington, Indiana. She remembers it from the old lake house and it needs to go back to her! She and my husband had many fun times as kids in that house, surrounded by this wicker. I also needed it out of chewer Bray's teeth!

My living room sports a new chair (Salvation Army, $99.00) and a ....please let me brag.....Tommy Bahama sofa from the same Salvation Army for $360.00. That's more than this thrifty shopper likes to pay, but if you Google my sofa, it retails new for $2999.00.

Yes the dogs sleep on it too. But they spend the days in our lovely sunroom den. I like to nap in there with them, so most days when I am at home we are all cuddling in my new den.

Our evenings are spent in the living room with Tommy Bahama relaxing and watching TV. The couch is so high I had to buy a footstool for chubby Annabelle to crawl up to cuddle next to me on Tommy. No matter how much a piece is valued, it is of no value to me if we can't all snuggle on it!

It is amazing how well behaved they are away from my picture window.

Wouldn't you like to join us for a cup of coffee in my new doggie sunroom?

I can see clearly now...Chloe has a bird's eye view of yard.

Bray ready to party down, hope he won't eat quilt. He is a chewer!
Rascal finds her new spot in the sun so relaxing!
full couch
Foxy looking for a place on the floor.
Foxy likes to sleep behind the computer chair. Her old bones don't like to be jarred getting on furniture any more.
Rascal wondering if she should try to get up
All by myself....
Annabelle likes to keep the couch to herself most afternoons
I think it's time for a nap. Hey, Annabelle, better move that big butt of yours! Mine is joining you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dog Saves Bird - Film At 11...Following The Adventures of Ziva the dog!

I have a dog photo contest running on my Writer With Dogs blog. The contest began with the launch of my online dog magazine on December lst. Well, the dog stories and photos are amazing. The contest continues until the Feb. 18th. The winner will be announced on March lst. My magazine will be in a different format, a newsletter, rather than an eflip online magazine. The spirit will be the same however. The winner of the dog contest gets a $300 check payable to their favorite dog rescue group. Anyone can enter by the way. Just send your photo to and a brief story of your dog! The winner is determined by the number of comments on each photo. The most comments is our winner!

One dog keeps popping up in my e-mails. Ziva. Her antics are charming! I've decided to post this one here and may share other Ziva stories down the road. BTW, Ziva is entry number 6 in the contest, The Golden From Maine. Check out all the dogs at Writer With Dogs!

And now, meet Ziva here!  The story begins.......

I had just put more sunflower seeds in the bird feeder and returned to the kitchen to warm up. Ziva stayed out by the feeder and was watching the birds arrive by the dozens. They don't mind her sitting by the feeder. In fact, they will land all around her and pick up the seeds that fall from the feeder. One flew into the side of the feeder and fell to the snow below. Ziva went over, poked it with her nose, and then gently picked the bird up and scratched at the door to come in.

When I let her in, she ran to the sofa and placed the bird by her side and started licking it. I thought it was dead and went to get a paper towel to wrap it in. But when I came back to the room, Ziva had moved the bird to the arm of the sofa and was still licking it. I grabbed the camera as it stood up, still a bit wobbly, and then it hopped even closer to Ziva’s nose.

After a few minutes we took it outside and it flew away, much to the dismay of both of my cats, who watched this whole episode unfold.

I don't know why, but birds and other animals are not afraid of Ziva at all.

Too cool not to share these pictures.

I thought you would enjoy them.


She growled at the cat and it is rare to hear her growl. "Leave my bird alone!"

Yes, these are photos to share! Don't you agree?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Signing At The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques

I am really excited! My shop will have its first book signing on Saturday, Feb. 5th. Not just any book, but a Steampunk novel. For those who aren't sure what Steampunk is, check out the author's web coalcitysteam! You will get excited too. This is going to be the most fun afternoon!

Emilie P. Bush was a former host of Georgia Public Television's Georgia Gazette. This is her debut novel, "Chenda and The Airship Brofman". She was a 2010 Amazon Breathrough award finalist.

We are going to have fun, fun, fun!

I am posting here my invite to the event and then the You Tube video of her book trailer.

Have fun. Wish you were here to join me! If you are in town, you don't want to miss meeting Emilie P. Bush!
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques Has An Etsy Storefront Online

Come shop with us on Etsy. New items added daily to our online shop, ShopOfOnesOwn!

The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques has just opened a shop on Etsy, AShopOfOnesOwn. New items will be added daily, so be sure to come by and check us out. And if you are in the Lilburn, Georgia area, stop by 94 Main Street, Lilburn, Ga. and visit The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques in the heart of Old Town!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Day On Kindle Nation! Review of The Unfaithful Widow

I haven't talked about my book lately, with all the other news going on in my life, ie, opening my shop this week. But I am working on some great things for my book this year, have started my own publishing company, Gilbert Street Press, and am working on two new books. A few months back I joined Support Kindle Nation and today my book is reviewed! Very exciting. This review goes to 6400 Kindle newsletter subscribers!

Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert, Thursday, January 20: 5-Star Fiction from the Hollywood Nobody series, plus ...Think "Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking Meets Jane Juska's Round-Heeled Woman" and You've Got The Unfaithful Widow: Fragmented Memoirs Of My First Year Alone by Barbara Barth (Today's Sponsor)

Another great 5-star entry in Lisa Samson's YA "Hollywood Nobody" series tops this morning's freshly updated presentation of our 350+ Free Book Alert listings....

But first, a word from ... Today's Sponsor

And, speaking of 5 stars, here's a new discovery for your Kindle bookshelf that's been getting nothing but 5-star reviews!

Widowed, Barbara Barth has to figure out how to get happy again. No subject is taboo in her essays, she says. "From dealing with the funeral home (Can I show you our upgraded cremation package?)... to dating again... and those questions you hate to ask (Condoms anyone?)."

"It's a book for anyone seeking entertainment and anyone who might benefit from inspiration to keep going. It's also for everyone who likes dogs and soft-core dirty talk." --Michael N. Marcus, author of Stories I'd Tell My Children

The Unfaithful Widow

Fragmented Memoirs Of My First Year Alone

by Barbara Barth

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Reviews

Kindle Price: $2.99

Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Don't have a Kindle? Get yours here.

"Grief defeated by laughter"

"Not just for widows !!!!!!"

Here's the set-up:

Welcome To My World. Doing All Those Things I Thought I’d Never Do Again.

The Unfaithful Widow is a collection of essays and fragmented thoughts on finding joy again after the loss of a mate. A memoir of the first year alone written with warmth and laughter, no subject is taboo. From dealing with the funeral home (Can I show your our upgraded cremation package? I looked at Miss Death, was I booking a vacation?) to dating again (He ran in the door, looked at me and said “I’ve left something in my car.” He never returned). Sprinkle in a bevy of rescue dogs (Finally a good nights sleep with someone new in my bed.) and those questions you hate to ask (Condoms anyone?). A story for anyone who has suffered loss and is determined to become their own super hero.

What the Reviewers Say

This is a charming story of how one woman fought her way back from the grief of losing her husband to a new future filled with faith and happiness. As you go along on her year's journey, you will cry a little, laugh a lot as she experiences trying to date on line, and the joy that came from adopting neglected dogs to fill her life with love.

This is not just a book for widows. This is a book for anyone who has a void to fill in her life. Be prepared for surprises with every chapter that will delight you.

--Audrey Frank

In her review, Audrey Frank said, "This is a book for anyone who has a void to fill in her life." That's much too limiting. No void is necessary, and the book is not just for females. It's a book for anyone seeking entertainment and anyone who might benefit from inspiration to keep going. It's also for everyone who likes dogs and soft-core dirty talk.

Barbara Barth is a master (mistress?) storyteller, with an uncanny ability to recall or recreate dialog. She is able to pluck humor from sadness. She shows proper respect for the past without being a prisoner of the past. Barbara demonstrates impressive resilience, strength and the ability to keep looking ahead despite widowhood, bad dates, and the death of a dog. Her unwillingness to accept cliche roles dictated by age, custom or gender are important lessons for everyone.

I don't want to concentrate only on the inspirational aspects of the book, because it is a LOT OF FUN. I read the Kindle version on a bumpy train ride. I was tired and woozy. A lesser book would have made me turn off my iPad. With Barbara's book, I kept tapping to turn the electronic pages to see what happens next. The woman sitting next to me wondered what was making me laugh and she started reading along with me. I read faster than she did, and let her catch up before I turned the pages.

Although I didn't "get" the cover illustration (it's apparently a chick thing) and at times I thought I was overhearing a conversation that was meant just for women (number of bras owned, evaluating a man's butt), at other times I thought Barbara was talking directly to me. Buy the book and hear what Barbara has to say to you. You won't be disappointed.

--Michael N. Marcus, author of Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults) and other books

Losing a loved one is always difficult and sometimes you need the support of others who have been through the same situation. I have not lost a husband but I have lost loved ones. The essays in this book will help you feel both the loss and provide a bit of a "pick-me-up". Rescuing animals became Barbara's coping tool that allowed her to learn to live again. This book is funny, wise and very insightful.

I think that anyone who has lost a loved one, even if you aren't a widow, you will find parts in these essays that ring true to you. I love Barbara's voice and I like that she didn't hold back.
--Bridget Hopper

You can read more at Kindle Nation. Click here!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Top Ten Pet Friendly Vehicles By Guest Writer, Julee Russo

Continuing tonight with our friend, and guest blogger, Julee Russo in her series of dog posts. Tonight Julee tells us how cars can make your fido feel secure and comfy! Click on the links to view the cars not pictured!

Top 10 Pet Friendly Vehicles

I get tired of watching my pet teeter totter in my car seat while attempting to balance in positions that look so uncomfortable. Space, safety features and cost are all important considerations to make when buying a new car. However, if you have a pet, you probably also want a car that all of you can share in peace. While the primary function of a car is to transport you and your things quickly and efficiently, your precious cargo deserves the safety and comfort offered by some of the best cars on the market.

Keep this in mind as you begin you search: Not all cars are created equal. The fastest cars are often the least practical, and the most spacious cars are the least fuel efficient. When it comes to pets, you want something that has the best of all worlds.

The following list details 10 different cars that will satisfy pet and parent alike, and leave enough breathing room for everyone.

1. Starting at around $20,000, though expect to spend a few bucks more if you want some of the dog-friendly features, the Honda Element is the perfect machine for human and animal. It’s large, boxy interior leaves plenty of room and accessibility for everyone.

2. Ever a utility vehicle, the Jeep Commandar (starting at around $33,000) isn’t cheap, but it’s sturdy and will last you years. With plenty of interior room, this machine is ideal for big dogs and boutique parents.

3. Though it looks like a European delivery car, the $19,000 Ford Transit Connect, is the dog-mobile for the pragmatic pet-owners. The interior is spacious, and with its side sliding doors and rear gate, accessibility is a breeze.

4. The $25,000 Subaru Forester is another not-quite-SUV/not-quite-coupe car that is perfect for dog owners with pets who like their own space. A well-equipped Forester can get up to 31mpg.

5. The urbane cosmopolite with a small or medium-sized dog will delight in the $25,000 Mazda 3 Grand Touring hatchback. This is a compact-style car with plenty of space for the dog, the driver, and everyone else.

6. Minivans aren’t always the most head-turning vehicles, but they do what they need to do, and the $22,000 Kia Sedona is no exception. It’s big, it’s easily accessible, and leaves plenty of room for everyone.

7. Known best for its innovative shape, the Scion xB is a smaller and more affordable version of the Element. Costing no more than around $17,000 and getting 28mpg on the highway, the Scion is perfect for the pet owner on a budget.

8. Another car for the progressive city-dweller, the Smart ForTwo is cheap (around $11,000), small, and extremely fuel-efficient. It’s extremely compact, but for small dogs, it’s perfect. Smart has plans for a four-door in the near future.

9. A consistent maker of quality cars, Volvo is a winner with pet-owners with its XC60. Starting at around $33,000, it’s not the cheapest car on the list, but it’s spacious, sleek, and European-made.

10. Rounding out the list is the $26,000 Chrysler Town and Country, a minivan with luxury sensibility. Your pet will appreciate all of the leg-room.

When buying a new car don’t forget to take all of the technical and financial considerations (including auto insurance), it’s important to remember what everyone else wants. What are some other things you and your pet might appreciate in a new car?

Thanks Julee! I want a new car after looking at all these beauties. I am a Honda gal myself and my crew loves that Element! But that darling Smart Car, with its most important message, tugs at me too. In fact, I'd love to own any of these cars. With six dogs I need some room!

Look for more posts from Julee soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Opening My Shop In Old Town, Lilburn, Georgia, Sat. Jan 22nd!

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Click on the arrow and see how much fun we will have on Jan. 22nd. You will also hear Huey Lewis sing The Power Of Love! Which is a perfect theme for the shop - it is about the power of love!

Events on Saturday include:

Special sale to benefit Friends of DeKalb Animals from 11 to 5pm.

Kick-off of 30 day photography exhibit of Haiti after the earthquake, by metro Atlanta writer and photographer, Cheryl Lewis. Read her story on Skirt of visiting Haiti and the missing boy she is trying to locate.

Music by Larry Joe Hall noon to 3pm.

Keep up on shop news on The Little Shop Of Arts And Antiques blog.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spoiled Dog Party! Guest Blogger Julee Russo

Second in a series of blog posts by the talented and dog loving writer, Julee Russo. You can read her December 20th post here.

Happy Birthday Doggie!
photo from

Spoiled Dog Party

Spoiled! We are talking menu, décor, activities, party favors, heck even a doggy piñata! Planning a birthday party for your dog? You can go all out and invite the whole neighborhood to celebrate the birth of your favorite companion. There are several items you’ll want to include in your dog party, so make a list and have fun. If you plan your party well in advance, you’ll have time to put together a menu, buy all your decorations and other supplies, and even buy a dog-bone piñata. Here’s everything you’ll need to put together a wonderful birthday party for your favorite pal.

Plan the Menu

A spoiled dog party needs to have a lot of delicious treats. Your menu needs to include dog-safe food, such as prepackaged dog treats and homemade goodies with ingredients that are safe for them to eat. Make sure you use fresh ingredients and cook the treats thoroughly. Some ideas for homemade treats include the following:

· Chicken liver treats

· Peanut Butter & Oat Balls

· Pet Party Mix

You can bake a large Doggy Cake, or you can make individual cupcakes for all the four-legged guests so there’s no fighting over one large cake. There are several recipes available on the Internet for different flavored cupcakes. The one ingredient you want to make sure you absolutely do not use is chocolate. It is very dangerous for dogs and could kill them in certain quantities. Do your research before selecting your own ingredients (grapes and walnuts are toxic as well).

Decorations and Supplies

You’ll want to decorate your backyard for your dog’s party just as you would for a child’s birthday party. Hang streamers and balloons, a large banner, wall decor, and a tablecloth to match your party’s theme. Pick up plenty of durable paper plates to serve the food on. Make favor-boxes with dog treats, small toys, collars, and other items perfect for the birthday dog’s friends. If kids are coming too, you can make party favors for them. Buy matching invitations to send to all the neighborhood dogs and their companions. For an extra treat, pick up a special pet costume for the guest of honor.

Buy a Dog-Bone Pinata

Whether it’s the dogs or the kids, everyone will have fun hitting a piñata and dumping the treats that are inside. Some companies sell dog themed piñatas. You could actually purchase 2, one that you will fill with dog treats and the other with candy. For the dogs, you should hang it low enough so that the dogs at the party can take turns giving it a good wack of the paw until it opens and they can eat what’s inside. Just make sure you are always supervising, and if there is any chance the dogs can get possessive with the treats, spread the dogs out and give them each a handful. The second candy filled piñata would be for the kids at heart.

Your dog’s birthday party can be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone. Plan some other activities, such as digging up buried bones or chasing a ball. Have a costume party and judge who has the best one. You can use large rawhide bones or toys for prizes. Be creative and have fun.