Stunning colors take the edge off

I know some people love fall. It’s their favorite season. For me, it’s generally okay. Not my favorite, though, because it puts an end to summer and is the prelude to the bitter cold temps and drab landscape of winter.

This year we haven’t had a lot of nice fall weather. It’s been a little rainy and on the chilly side for me. We never got that 70-something-degree Indian summer. Instead, it seems like one day it was 89 and then all of a sudden, it was 59.

But this year, fall gave us something else. It gave us absolutely stunning colors! I honestly can’t remember a fall that’s been as pretty. I can’t remember wanting to stop the car every couple of blocks to take pictures. The colors are brilliant and bright. The reds are vibrant, the yellows glow and the oranges blaze like fire.

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It’s already almost a week into November, and the gorgeous colors are taking the edge off of this transition that I usually dread. Hooray!

This is also the first fall in a few years that we haven’t ventured to central New York to visit our daughter and enjoy the spectacular views that are the hallmark of that area this time of year. So, I appreciate getting a taste of them here at home.

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I’ve taken so many pictures it was hard to narrow them down to just a few to share. But here they are. Enjoy! Hope you’re having a colorful season, too!

Darlene

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Nature’s stress relief

Ah, the soothing sound of a babbling brook! I recently returned from a vacation trip to Colorado. It wasn’t a whirlwind, action-packed, sightseeing, tourist kind of trip. It was more of a let-it-go, kick-back, unwind and relax trip. And at the center of that kind of trip is nature — lakes and streams, shimmering aspen trees, secluded trails, a little wildlife, wildflowers and scenic vistas.

I love the sound of a rushing Colorado stream. While we were there, we dined creekside, walked along a trail that followed a gentle stream, and hung out, just listening to the sound of the water cascading over the rocks. I could sit and read or write with that sound as a backdrop for hours!

For me, the water is mesmerizing to watch, and soothing to listen to, especially if the creek is moving fast enough to drown out traffic and other noise. It’s as if nature is saying, “Ahhhh, take a break.”

Enjoy this little snippet!

 

Are there other sights and sounds of nature that give you pause and refreshment?

Darlene

It’s book-for-a-buck month!

That’s right. During the month of July, Smashwords digital book seller is having a huge sale — and lots of books are only $1. That’s a great deal! And that means you can get my contemporary romance Something Good for only a buck!

Something Good was a Rone Award second-place winner in 2015, and also won Still Moments Magazine’s award for Best Ending. It has a 4.7 average review rating on Amazon, and some great reviews!

“… an absorbing story of redemption that’s hard to put down.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With surprising plot twists and unique character conflict, Something Good more than lives up to its name!” – InD’Tale Magazine

Get Something Good for $1

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Grab your copy, and enjoy!

Darlene

You go, girls! Happy travels!

It’s almost summer, and that means travel, vacation, relaxing with friends, right? Hopefully there’s a little of that in your summer plans! I’ve heard of so many great girl trips lately, that I asked my favorite travel agent some questions about planning the best trip with friends.
Enjoy, and happy travels!
Chatting with Janet McLaren, Cruise Planners, personal travel advocate:
Thanks for inviting me to your blog! It’s always fun to talk about travel, and travel with friends is always the best!

 

IMG_3852– What are some of the most interesting or unusual girls’ trips you’ve arranged?
It seems like women either want to get away for relaxation at a resort with a good beach and spa, or they want a cultural adventure with a combination of organized events and independent exploring. I’d say for most interesting: a group of ladies who are going to Italian wine country this summer. They are sharing a villa near Florence for a week and taking day trips into the city and into surrounding towns, then spending two days in Rome.
Getaway cruises are always popular, too, because they are usually economical for everyone and don’t require as big a commitment of time. One group of ladies takes a short cruise to Mexico every January when the fares are low.

– A friend of mine recently visited Barcelona on a tour with her wine club. I’ve heard of book clubs attending author-sponsored cruises. Are these kinds of themed-trips gaining in popularity?
They are, but they are mostly arranged by private groups, not the cruise line. An exception is river cruising — several of the top lines “theme” a number of cruises each year. I’m looking at one for a group right now that is focused on beer (haha, right?), but there are wine themes, music, and Christmastime, too. Also, there are land tours that are geared for special interests. I know of literary-themed tours in England that focus on historical sites related to authors such as Jane Austin, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, for a few examples. Garden tours abound, as well as castle tours (think Downton Abbey, for instance), and “quaint towns.”

            Best shopping?   Mexico — the short cruises that go there, and the resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are excellent for picking up handicrafts, jewelry, and clothes. New York and London shopping trips are still popular, although you have to watch the conversion rate of the British Pound to be sure popping off to London is a value or not.

            Best for beach/relaxing?  Interestingly, I get a fair number of inquiries about Miami Beach. The old-style glam resort hotels and the nightlife are very appealing. You get a nice combination of beach time, relaxation, and some fun. Restaurants are a big thing there, too. Of course many all-inclusive Caribbean and Mexican resorts have it all in one place! That’s probably the easiest getaway of all — just go, get transported to your resort, then don’t worry about very much at all. 

            Best sightseeing/culture?  Europe is still number one — history, churches, museums, wine, music, art, ancient architecture — it’s easy to come up with a common interest that binds a group together for a shared experience.

– Any tips or special advice for women traveling together?

Yes, I find that I am often reminding people that they cannot possibly do everything in one trip! Select a theme then let me help plan a reasonable, “do-able” outline that won’t exhaust you — decide on a few important highlights. Save some down time; not every minute has to be planned out and everyone could use a little “me time” mixed in, too.

– Any places you’d advise small groups of women to avoid?

Yes, sadly not all places in the world are travel-friendly to women and male-centric societies make for too much stress and worry. For some reason Dubai holds a fascination (I suppose for the shopping), but I wouldn’t choose it for a girlfriend getaway. India, China, some places in the Mideast and Africa — not worth it. Exceptions: I think a well-coordinated safari in certain locations would make a terrific all-woman adventure, and a historical or spiritual journey in Israel and Jordon would be safe and rewarding.

 

Thanks for sharing your time and expertise, Janet! I want to do it all! Dear readers, do you have a favorite spot for trips with friends? Tips or experiences to share? We’d love to hear them!

Contact Janet for additional info and ideas. 866-592-7351 | 972-231-0066 | jmclaren@cruiseplanners.com | www.cruiseplanforyou.com

Fall . . . season of love or loss?

Well, it’s that time of year. So far this week, I’ve: 1. Worn socks. 2. Turned on my electric blanket. 3. Turned the heat on in my house. Sigh.

Yes, it’s pretty out. Sort of. We’re seeing yellow, orange and red in some of the trees. But it’s messy, too. The patio is littered with leaves, as is the yard. Leaves are caught in the bushes, ground cover and patio furniture. We have a lot of trees, and I can’t keep up. (Not to mention the oak mites.)

A few flowers are valiantly trying to hang in there, but you can tell the jig is up. It’s that time of year. The mornings are chilly. The days are shorter. Those pretty falling leaves are just a prelude of what’s to come.

And that’s my whole issue with fall.

For many, fall is a favorite season. You like the milder temps. You’re ready to wrap up in scarves and sweaters. For me, fall is a loss. A warning. It’s the mourning of long, warm summer days. Yep, end of October, and I’m still mourning summer. It’s my season. Flip flops! No coats, jackets, scarves, gloves and other baggage to haul around and keep track of. No warming up the car. No raking or scraping or shoveling!IMG_2451

So, facing the inevitable, I pulled a few waning plants out of sad-looking pots and put some pumpkins on the porch. Ah, pumpkins! Now there’s a bright spot in fall. I have to say, I’m happy to be done with the days of finding the perfect pumpkin patch and making costumes and trick-or-treating. But I do like the pumpkins even if they’re just bought at the neighborhood grocery store. This weekend, we’ll hollow them out and roast the seeds. And for a day or two, I’ll enjoy the fruits of fall. 🙂

What do you enjoy about fall?

A weekend of bookish fun awaits!

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OK, who’s looking for some fun? If you’re in the Dallas area, you won’t want to miss this! Bring a friend, your book club, or just yourself and join us for Readers and ’ritas Nov. 10 -13. Parties, books, authors, scavenger hunt, swag, prizes . . . and did I mention fun?!

I’m so looking forward to this event. I love visiting with readers and chatting about books. Add in food and drink, and what’s not to like, right? And for me, another exciting plus is that the weather is Dallas is currently projected to be in the low- to mid-70s for that weekend. Woo-hoo. In other words, perfect!

Click here for the full agenda and list of authors and guest speakers.

Hope to see you there!