Tag Archives: The Best Of

Mary’s Favorites of 2016

Gosh, I cannot believe it’s the end of 2016 already! Where did the year go? (Please, dear Lord, tell me the rest of you feel this way and it’s not just me!)

Anyway, I don’t always get a chance to write reviews for books I’ve read and loved, so this is a great time to do an end-of-the-year recap and share with all of you some of my favorites from 2016! There are a few so – far warning – you should hide your wallet if you don’t want to be tempted! Continue reading

Let’s Talk Books!

RiseSo my friends, “Best of” lists are popping up everywhere … and this year I’m jumping on that train again. I was the first to do “most anticipated” lists … but I can’t handle that these days. I’m still working on documenting all the books I’ve read this year in GoodReads. We’ll see how that goes.

What I want to know is – what books have you read this year that you would recommend? Or what authors?

I’m planning on doing a “top ten” list at some point … but like Wendy said – what if I read a favorite book on December 31?? So, I’m holding off until the new year. 😀

[And if anyone would like to or be willing to help me celebrate ALBTALB’s fifth blogiversary in January please let me know!] <3

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Happy weekend, my friends! I thought about doing a serious post – and one that probably would get me in trouble … but I’m just not up to it today. I hadn’t written it yet, and my brain is floating around and my thoughts are even more scattered than usual. I have, however, been wanting to write one of these posts for a while. I did them at TGTBTU, and it’s just something that’s fun.

So – here’s a list of ten of my current favorite things.

1. The Clarisonic Mia2. I got this as a present. (Maybe I shouldn’t analyze why because it might upset me.) But, I love it. It’s fabulous. As you see, I was gifted the acne one, which … is fine. For a while, I was having major problems. “My face exploded” might be one way to say it, and I hated it. I haven’t run out of the wash that comes with it, so I can’t tell you how much that matters or not… but I’ve been told you can use it with whatever face wash you prefer. I love it. I use it once a day, and have noticed a huge difference in the past few months.

2. Dr. Scholl’s For Her Hidden Arch Supports Oh. My. God. These things are amaaaaaaziiinnnnggg. I have no arches. It’s terrible. Equally terrible, I have to wear heels to work. (Well, not have to, but I honestly am too short for flats. And, actually, yes, I did have LS professors that told me I had to wear heels in court. So…) These save my feet. When teaching I have to walk around and stand for over an hour, and it’s fine. Shoes that used to have me hobbling by the end of work, are now fine. I love them. I wish I could buy them in bulk. I would.

3. Philips Bliss Epilator. So, this is the one I have. Obviously (and sadly!) It’s been discontinued, or something, But I love it! OH! I just found it at Sephora – and for so much cheaper! $70 bucks! Seriously – say goodbye to shaving! I even :X use it on my face. Too lazy to tweeze or thread those brows? Epilate! Warning: not for the pansies. It might take some getting used to. And a measured pain threshhold. I don’t think it hurts that much, but I know others who have been traumatized. Not so here. Underarms etc too. Great for summer. I’ve had mine for years. (Like five?) It’s rechargeable, and wonderful. I’m always happy to recommend it.

4. Pour La Victoire + MyHabit. Well, MyHabit is amazon’s flash sale site. It’s got free shipping, and free returns, and often up to 80% (if not more) on designer brands. J’adore. I’ve checked, and they also have super reasonable rates for international shipping. (At least, last I looked.) Almost all my PLVs have come from Amazon. I’m addicted. And? Most of my shoes have been free courtesy of Swagbucks. (Which, if you have any questions about that feel free to ask!) This sandal (the Shanna) is from PLV’s spring collection. I’m not in love with it, but we all have to admit it is a very sexy shoe. And, we should all know, I have a major weakness for snakeskin shoes. Which, for PLV, they actually are. (Many other brands are a lie.)

5. 39DollarGlasses.com No joke – you can get prescription glasses – lenses and frames for $39. You can’t really beat that. Their frames aren’t bad either. And they’re durable. I’ve :X stepped on my pair like 6 times – they’re still good. Note, my eyes are horrible, so I had to pay a little bit more (I think 40something) for my first pair. They also often have deals – like 15% off, or $15 off. And in fact, if you use this link, it should get you 20% off your first purchase. The entire purchase. They of course also have the fancier lenses and frames, and that’ll cost you a bit more. Still, cheaper than normal retail, I imagine.

6. Lime La Croix. I love seltzer now. (Funny, because once when I tried it in elementary school, I spat it out. Of course, I was told it was like soda pop. So.) Now, I love it as a mixer. Almost all the La Croix flavors, but of course the lime, right? 😀 It really is the best one as a mixer. Also, however, I like drinking it straight. It often helps settle an upset stomach, and more generally, cut grease. You know, if you ate something like, pizza, or anything else bad for you. Chips, etc, a good follow up as a palate cleanser is seltzer. And it’s nice to have on hand.

7. Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. No pictures here – I have none, and I’m not about to steal it from Panera. But yes – the soup from Panera. I adore it. But one day, I got the bread bowl for take out, and felt totally cheater. I only got a cup of it! And a big sour dough bowl. So, boo. After that I decided to make it myself. There are a number of copycat recipes online, and I recommend you look for and find your favorite. I got the one from all recipes – and personally, would add some fresh mushrooms diced the next time. The recipe calls for mirepoix, which then you add a roux to. I then added chicken breast that I diced up (and here I’d add the cream – just a bit; I messed up the first time and added it after the stock had heated. Eek! I’m lucky it didn’t curdle.) Then, stock, and the wild + long grain rice. I bought zataran’s mix because it was cheapest at the store. 😀 And done! So freaking delicious. Oh, also, I doubled, if not tripled the mirepoix amount from all recipes. I like a healthier soup. I also didn’t use butter, instead using olive oil.

8. First, DUDE! Did you guys know that amazon now sells wine?! No idea how long it’s been up, but I just saw it. But anyway, what I want to do is talk about one in particular.  Yellowtail bubbles. It’s a very drinkable sparkling wine. Beyond that, the price is great. You can usually get it for ~$8. Which, is a great thing. Next, it’s got a really fun “reusable” cap. So, you know how usually you have to finish a bottle of champagne? Not so here! You can seal it up and stick it in the fridge. You can also actually keep the top and use it for other bottles. (You know, other cork savers etc usually suck out the air; which, for bubbly isn’t very helpful. And flat bubbly is baaad.) Then also, sparkling wine is gorgeous with these hibiscus flowers in syrup. Add a teaspoon or two of the syrup, and drop a flower into the bottom of the champagne flute. Awesome cocktail, gorgeous, and simple. Of course, after you finish the cocktail, you get the treat of eating the flower too. Very nice. And fancy.One of these days I hope to buy a 50 flower jar. 😀

9. Tito’s Vodka. I actually first heard of it on the radio. (On the Elvis Duran on the Morning Show – my morning companions for many many years.) The host, Elvis was talking about this vodka – made in Austin! Austin being one of my favorite cities, and vodka also being a favorite, my ears perked. Awesome vodka? Made in the states? Yes please! No import cost! I finally went to the liquor store, and found a 1.75 liter bottle for a reasonable price … and I bought that bitch. Of course, this is after I asked twitter, and was told by some people after trying it, it’s the only vodka they’d drink. Good enough for me! I now have a new go-to vodka. Always a good thing.

10. Lime sugar. No pictures for this one either, because, well, it doesn’t photograph well. It’s prettier in real life, but more, it’s the amazing smell that really does it. What is it? Exactly what it sounds like. That, and it’s versatile. You can turn it into lime simple syrup. Use it in drinks. (Hello mojito?) And, I ran out of sugar while making a tres leches cake, and used a tiny bit of lime sugar. I have to say that I think it added and extra dimension and depth to the cake. (Of course I only used a little under a quarter cup, but still. Excellent.) Use it in pizzelles, as a garnish, really anything you like.

So! What would be on your current favorites list? Inquiring minds want to know! And if you have any questions about mine, please ask! I love dishing about stuff.

Guest: Megan Caldwell Shares Some Fun

Hello lovelies! We’ve got wonderful author Megan Caldwell (aka Megan Frampton) visiting with us today! She’s absolutely lovely and has a very lovely dry sense of humor. But today, she’s here playing with us and offering some lighthearted fun. Enjoy!

In a few days, my romantic women’s fiction title, Vanity Fare, will be released.

But I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t like reading about how people got inspired to write whatever story it is they wrote, I don’t care about the writing process (it’s PAINFUL and UNIQUE for every author), I don’t need to discuss the heroine’s journey and all that crap. It’s boring (to me, at least).

[Sidebar: I’m reading Lime’s blog, and the guest author posts, and they’re intimidating. They’re pretty, and well-written, and talk about all sorts of things I’ve never even thought about. So, yikes]

Instead, let’s talk about some favorite things: Food, books, and foxy men. And we’ll ask you to make some difficult choices, too.

Food: If you had to eat just one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? It can’t be as widespread as ‘protein,’ nor does it have to be as specific as ‘butternut squash soup.’ I think I would choose cheese, because there are so many varieties, and you can get the gamut of flavors. Nuts would come in a close second, but lose because of the dreaded Brazil nut.

[Second sidebar: One of my closest friends and I have had a years-long argument about the best kind of nut. She has the audacity to cite the Brazil nut as the best, whereas I counter with cashews. What say you?]

Books: If you could only read in one genre for the rest of your life, what genre would it be? And, if you’re feeling reckless, which author from that genre would you read over and over again? I’d pick historical, even though I don’t read as much historical as I used to. And for the one author, I’d go with Mary Balogh, whose traditional Regencies are on my all-time keeper list.

[Third sidebar: When you talk to someone who’s not as avid a reader as you, do you find they totally don’t get the idea of an all-time keeper list? And isn’t it fun to explain romance novel terms to non-romance readers? I just told my husband what ‘smexy’ was, for example.]

Foxy men: This is the toughest one, but also potentially the most fun. If you could stare at one guy for the rest of your life, who would it be? Living or dead or fictional or not, it doesn’t matter. I’d go with David Gandy as Jericho Barrons, which is kind of cheating, but I’m writing this, so I get to do what I want.

[Fourth sidebar: Does your significant other get bugged when you go on and on about how gorgeous some other guy is? Thankfully, mine does not, but I try not to do it too much, out of respect. But he does the same to me, so that’s fine]

What choices would you make?

Thanks so much to Megan for stepping in with a post today! I enjoyed the lighthearted tone, and to convince you all to come and play, she’s offering a copy of her upcoming release Vanity Fare!

Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman; her six-year-old son is questioning her authority, and now so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokémon and Legos, not to mention food and clothing, she has to get a job—fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a freelance position copywriting for a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who’s heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And then so does Molly, when she meets the chef’s intimidating business partner—who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own happily ever after.