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Books I can't wait to read!

Hello friends,

After a long snowy winter, it's time to dream of summer: gardens growing, crisp morning runs, warm days, cool nights, barbeques, and  relaxing on the deck with a good book.  It's so close!

I have added several books to my TBR list over the last few weeks. Most are titles I'm eager to read but do not publish until summer, forcing me to practice patience.

While I wait to be outside more, I will work on a new design project - my new two room office/workspace.  An office and three season porch.   I can't wait to curl up with a book and enjoy the porch on a summer day.  More on this later... and a wrap up of our basement renovation.

Cheers, Mari

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The Status of All Things: pub date, June 2
Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancĂ©, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate's two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

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The Knockoff: pub date, May 19
An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

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The Rumor: pub date, June 16

Nantucket writer Madeline King couldn't have picked a worse time to have writer's block. Her deadline is looming, her bills are piling up, and inspiration is in short supply. Madeline's best friend Grace, is hard at work transforming her garden into the envy of the island with the help of a ruggedly handsome landscape architect. Before she realizes it, Grace is on the verge of a decision that will irrevocably change her life. Could Grace's crisis be Madeline's salvation? As the gossip escalates, and the summer's explosive events come to a head, Grace and Madeline try desperately to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.

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Summer Secrets: pub date, June 23

A story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.

Life: a book and a podcast

Hello friends,

May I share a secret with you? Most know I'm a vegetarian, prefer raw food, and if not for baked goods I would be vegan (eggs/dairy).  Several years ago I embraced the reusable grocery bag and try to buy organic/local.

Confession: in 2004 I made cleaning products for our home.  Why? I was curious and while my family doesn't live 'off the grid' it was a small change with good benefits.

But... slowly I ran out of ingredients to make products and started buying mostly organic.  While this is great, it comes with packaging.  My family recycles but we could do better, so we try to bring as little garbage into our home as possible. 

I have been following homesteader/author Ashley English for a few years. Reading her books/blog inspire me.  A few months ago she was interviewed on a podcast for Pure Green Magazine,  my new obsession.  I appreciate the approach to try... simply try and celebrate small changes.  Back in 2004 I tried to implement change too quickly.  Today I'm making small steps.

I bought the book All you need is Less after listening to a podcast.  The book includes strategies/practical tips to live with less, and recipes to make several items from a few shared ingredients. This is right up my alley, right Robin?!

While in Budapest with friends a few weeks ago, I shared some of the ideas and recipes I was interested to try.  A few are curious to hear if homemade laundry soap works, and they are all interested in the two ingredient shampoo and conditioner.

Baby steps... let's start with laundry soap.

First, I purchased two bars of lavender soap (from a countryside Hungarian family selling the soap).  Sounds wonderful right?

I couldn't wait to get home and try making a batch of laundry soap, even though I was a little skeptical.  Saturday I made one batch, four cups that will last for 70 loads of dirty laundry.  Total cost: $3.00 USD. I tried it yesterday and my laundry is soft, and the smell is a non-chemical clean making me want to wash everything right now.  After one load... I'm hooked.

To compare: Vaska uses 5 ingredients, Meyer's lists 20, and Tide doesn't list their ingredients.

I have been using Vaska for about a year, I love it but want to eliminate packaging where possible this year.

Have you tried to make anything homemade?

Book Reviews: 1Q2015 edition

Hello friends,

The first three months of 2015 have kept me very busy. A basement renovation, family and friends visiting, dinner parties and a three week holiday in which I slept, read, ran, explored cities and villages.  It was a lovely holiday. 

One look at my list of books read will confirm that I'm enjoying realistic fiction.  I have read twelve books this year, five while on vacation.  I love the gift of time, to relax and decompress in a foreign city.

1.  The Longest Ride - A good friend loved this book and asked me to read it.
2.  Lies you wanted to Hear - A twisty novel, something I always enjoy.
3.  Sweet Salt Air - a nice novel set in a lovely place. 

4.  The Grownups - A second novel from an author I enjoy. If you enjoyed Maine, you would like this book.
5.  You - I read this after hearing so much about it, and it has been opted for a television series.

6.  The Homecoming of Samuel Lake - BN deal of the day that had been sitting in my Nook library far too long.
7.  A Small Indiscretion - If you like complicated life stories like I do, you will love this one.
8.  Genesis Code - discovered while perusing the shelves at a bookstore, I didn't love this one...
9.  Kaleidoscope Hearts - Goodreads recommended this for me so I bought the Nook version for my trip.  A light, quick, fun read.
10. Handle with Care - One of my favorite Jodi Picoult novels. Loved it! { favorite book read this year}
11. Beyond Belief: my secret life inside Scientology - I enjoy reading memoirs.  I learned so much about a religion in which I knew nothing.  A powerful story.
12. Another Piece of my Heart - I bought this book last fall.  Jane Green has been tackling tough subjects lately.

Goodreads: I'm always updating books I can't wait to read, what I'm reading and short reviews.  You can find my '2015 books read' listed to the right, or click here to connect/see what's piquing my interest.

2015 looks to be a year when many of my favorite authors are planning to publish.  I have a long list of books I can't wait to read... when they publish.

What are you reading?

Travel: Three days in Singapore

Hello friends,

Today I'm excited to tell you about a recent trip to Singapore, part one of a 16-day adventure in China.  We traveled from NYC to Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, and Ningbo.

Let the adventure begin!

Our flight path to Singapore brought us over the north pole, over Russia, China, and landing in Hong Kong, where we missed our connecting flight by a few minutes.  A few hours later we flew on a local airline to Singapore...

Singapore is a young country, turning 50 this year.  It reminded me a bit of George Jetson's world.

It's a cultural melting pot which makes for an exciting visit.
{Photo from Google Images}
While the World Traveler was on business, in air conditioning, and I was outside exploring.   It was very hot while we were there, nearly 100 degrees and humid!

Buddha Tooth Relic: This was my first time seeing/entering a Buddhist Temple.  Stepping into the Temple brings an immediate calmness.  I didn't want to leave.
Next up was a Hindu Temple:  I saw photos online and knew I needed to see it.  I wasn't able to take photos inside but was able to watch a midday service/celebration.  It has a bit of a circus atmosphere. 

The Singapore Botanical Gardens.  I like to walk everywhere, for three reasons: exercise, taking in the feel of the city/spontaneous sightseeing, and safety.  I walked four miles to the SBG.  Walking to the SBG let me experience a little taste for NYC Singapore style.  They have a fashion district, and something similar to Fifth Avenue.  It was an enjoyable walk.

Chinatown: The next day I walked to Chinatown. Sampling street food, taking new streets to Chinatown, then crossing the city to Little India.

Marina Sands:  On our last night in Singapore we enjoyed watching the sunset from the floor 57. 

Singapore wrap up: If you have a chance to visit Singapore, do it.  It's a great walkable city, with plenty of sights to see.  Don't forget to stop by the Raffles Hotel, to enjoy a Singapore Sling.   

Next stop: Shanghai

Travel: Switzerland & France

Lac Leman (Geneva)
Bonjour les amis,

Last fall my husband, and I traveled to Hamburg, Germany before heading to Switzerland for a few weeks.  Why Hamburg? A good friend of our calls Hamburg home and wanted a big celebration for her birthday.  We were close and excited to be part of her big day.

Click here to read about our visit to northern Germany. 

Our next stop: Vevey, Switzerland

After settling in our hotel, the World Traveler was off to work.  When I join him on these long trips I work remotely, and being five hours ahead provides time to explore before sitting in front of my laptop.

I love everything about Switzerland, even Sunday's (everything is closed).

One afternoon we jumped on a boat and took a two-hour ride past Montreau, and over to France where we stopped for lunch.

Here are a few photo's from Vevey: Swiss boat ride to France, view of the Chateau in Montreau, landscape just past Montreau.  Lower: vineyards looking at France, carousel in Vevey, vineyards/Alps past Montreau.

Getting away to Bern, Switzerland:We like to explore Switzerland on the weekends. Bern was a must-see for us.  Friday afternoon we took a two-hour train north to the capital city, dropped off our overnight bag at the hotel and rented bikes to explore.

Old Bern is stunning; it's an auto free part of Bern. After a quick ride through the city, we found a bike trail to ride along the might Aare River.

Upper row: view of Gurten from our hotel, the Bern River from our hotel room, I didn't dare to swim in the Aare River but had to see if it was as cold as they say. The current is 15mph... you swim to a red railing and climb out. Calcium makes the water green.

Lower: I was standing at the Zytglogge tower, a medieval tower built in the early 13th century, looking down the main street.  The first photo was taken on Saturday, the second Sunday.  Almost everything in Switzerland is closed on Sunday's.  The last photo is the restaurant in which we had dinner (Cafe Terrasse). This is a must eat destination when you visit Bern.

Sunday we traveled back to Vevey for week two.  A mix of work and play, we are always looking for day trips.

Imagine driving two hours into France to enjoy pizza while enjoying this view. THIS is Lac Annecy.

What's next?  Three weeks in Singapore and China.  I can't wait to share this experience with you.

Beaucoup amour, Mari