Friday, October 17, 2014

CLP Blog Tour Featuring "Pie Girls" by Lauren Clark

Happy Friday, everyone! Are you ready for the weekend? I totally am! And what better way to spend your weekend than to read a fun, light-hearted novel?

Today, I bring you Pie Girls by Lauren Clark.

Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style. 

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man. 

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever. 

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls. 

This is a really fun book. Lauren Clark has a clear, concise writing style, full of fabulous descriptions and alliterations. Searcy had a way of talking, and going over things in her head that sounded oddly familiar. I swear, everyone has to be more colorful in their heads than in real life. Maybe just me? Whatever. I related to Searcy on an inner monologue level, and it was like reading the thoughts of a friend.

Speaking of friends, Searcy's friends are a hoot! They're all so well written and different, from her high society friends in Atlanta, to her small-town old friends, who were a far cry from what she'd left behind. As was her love interest, who was just all around yummy.

I practically devoured this book, like I really want to devour all the pies that she makes (and honestly, I'm not a pie girl). Reading about Searcy's childhood, and the home her mother made for them made me want to live there, and also made me think of that movie, Waitress, starring Keri Russell, just by being quirky, and small town (and everyone has experiences in a small town Wal-Mart, like Searcy!).

This makes me want to read more of Lauren Clark's work. I'd never heard of her before now, but I'm thinking I'll be adding more of her books to my reading list, and I highly recommend you do it, too, if you love Chick Lit!

Author Bio:

After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Lauren Clark moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family and write full-time. 

Lauren has published four novels, Pie Girls (set in Fairhope, Alabama), Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, andDancing Naked in Dixie, under the pen name, Lauren Clark. More than twenty-two thousand copies of Lauren's novels have been sold worldwide.

Visit Laura’s website at, follow her on Twitter @LaurenClark_Bks, and her blog at

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Jane Austen Book Club: Northanger Abbey + Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I hope the show will be amazing, and congratulations to the winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, on to the meat and potatoes of this blog: The Jane Austen Book Club!

Truthfully, I did get a little busy in September, and reading carried over into October, but for the most part, it was read in September.

I do think that Northanger Abbey is my least favorite of the Jane Austen novels. The first part is all very fun, and witty, and I can definitely laugh about all of Catherine and Isabella's shananigans. But the first part was also unsettling, as I saw Catherine's naivitee in me, especially in her friendship with Isabella.

Catherine Morland, our heroine, was the oldest daughter of a country minister and his wife, and was invited to go to Bath for the social season with neighbors. Apparently, that was a thing back in the day, and the first few days Catherine and her chaperone, Mrs. Allan, had no one to talk to at the balls and plays they went to. It was considered improper to introduce yourself to random strangers (probably presumptuous), so they mostly kept to themselves, and people watched.

That would instantly kill my mood and desire to be there, if I couldn't talk to anyone (despite being pretty introverted, and only into my own friends, I'd try to get to know people). Luckily, it didn't last long because Mrs. Allan's childhood friend and her family arrived. Catherine is introduced to Isabella Thorpe, who charms her into friendly submission.

It's amazing who you'll meet in a Jane Austen novel. Isabella is exactly the person most people are drawn to for short periods of time: Someone who can be fun, interesting, extremely sweet, but at the same time, self-serving, vile, and malicious. She is basically Regina George.

Throughout the first half of the story, Regina -- I mean, Isabella! -- befriends Catherine under the pretense of friendship, but uses her for her own gains. While being courted by Catherine's brother, James, she pushes her own brother, John (who is quite pushy, himself) at Catherine, ignoring Catherine's feelings for Henry Tilney, whose sister, Eleanor, is also a new friend to Catherine. Isabella is the girl who claims to hate drama, but airs all of her dirty laundry on facebook.

I also related to Catherine's feelings for Isabella's brother, John. The man was pushy, proud, opinionated, and tried to convince Catherine to feel something sooner than she was ready. She tried to be kind, she tried to be polite, especially because of her friendship with Isabella, and because of John's friendship with James. Apparently, because your brother has a good friend, that basically means you're his future wife.

Thank God for calm, rational people like Henry and Eleanor Tilney. These were two people interested in Catherine, for herself, and were potentially lonely people looking for a friend. They loved Catherine for herself, and nothing more. These are the people that everyone hopes to find one day.

The second half of the book is where it got a bit strange, to me. Catherine went to Northanger Abbey with Eleanor, Henry, and their father, General Tilney. No amount of pleading from Isabella could stop her, either. It was nice that for once Catherine was able to show some backbone.

I didn't care for the second half of the book. It was slow moving, but once it was done, I felt it moved too quickly into a resolution. Catherine and Henry falling in love was obvious, but she did almost lose him due to her immaturity, and inablility to understand the difference between real life and stories.
Though, I do relate.

Emma Approved (c) Pemberley Digital
I'm dying to hear if anyone else read Northanger Abbey this month, too! What are your thoughts? Met any Johns or Isabellas that made your life a living hell? How about your own Henry Tilney? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Phantom of the Opera + a Local Giveaway!

I've had a soft spot in my heart for the Orpheum Theatre since I was really little. When I was four, my dad took my sister and me, while his Organ club were working at the Orpheum, and we got to explore everything and take advantage of a special stage view that not many get to see. When I was in high school, for two years, my choir got to sing with the Omaha Symphony and Opera Omaha, along with several other local schools, at the Orpheum. I now get the opportunity to see Opera Omaha perform with my aunt, as we've discovered the joy of season tickets.

Sitting Balcony Right
Me (age 4) and Kiri (Age 5)
I've recently joined the Omaha Bloggers Network, and for my first assignment, I get to cover The Phantom of the Opera: Halloween Organ and Film featuring organist Clark Wilson.

Back in about 1991 or 1992, when they did their first showing, my dad was part of the team the sponsored it. For Halloween that year, he even asked my mom to make him a cape so he could be the Phantom.

The Phaaaaaaantom of the Opera is Here...Inside Your Mind....
Whoops. Wrong version! ;-)
I remember going with my sister, mom, and grandma, as dad was busy doing a lot of work for the event. I don't think we actually stayed through the whole thing, though (my sister and I were pretty young, and had the attention span of gnats).

I'm really excited to get to see the show again. The movie, which is a silent film, will be accompanied on the Orpheum's Wurlitzer by Clark Wilson.

Clark Wilson
Wilson is one of the most prominent and recognized scorers of silent photoplays in America. He works exclusively with the organ in developing accurate and historic musical accompaniments as
they were performed in major picture palaces during the heyday of the silent film.

The musical style of the time remains intact; no attempt is made to distract from the picture by using themes or styles that entered the musical scene years later. Most important of all, the film remains the focus and star of the performance.

The Wurlitzer on stage at
The Orpheum
Channeling the 1920s experience, this special production of the classic horror film, The
Phantom of the Opera, makes for the perfect Halloween festivity. Complimented by the Mighty
Wurlitzer organ, the silent movie stars Lon Chaney as the deformed Phantom haunting the Paris
Opera House.

Intrigued? Well, I've got a great opportunity for you to see it.

Lon Chaney as the Phantom

If you're in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area and want to experience this classic film in a beautiful old theater, you now have an opportunity to win two tickets. Click the link below.

**For the record, instead of looking up ModernJaneAusten, look up Rebekah Martin, which is the Modern Jane Austen Facebook Page/My Author page.

Good luck!

The Phantom of the Opera: Halloween Organ and Film featuring organist Clark Wilson
will be at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St., on October 22 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are 
available at, 402.345.0606 or at the Ticket Omaha Office inside the Holland 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just do that Voodoo that You Doo so well

Believe it or not, based on the last couple blogs are based on a single day.

Starting day two of my Denver Trip, Lauren and I drove across town to get a healthy breakfast for our Zoo Adventure ahead. Lauren has been wanting to go to Voodoo Doughnuts for awhile, and I'd seen them on Food Network, so of course I was game.

Plus, Doughnuts.

Voodoo has a long list of colorful, and slightly naughty desserts in their cash-only establishment, and I opted for a Maple Bacon Bar, a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake doughnut, and the Voodoo Doll Doughnut, which was just as awesome as it sounds.

Filled with Raspberry Jam, with a Pretzel Stake in its heart. Delicious.

The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake Doughnut had a MAJOR bite to it from cayenne and cinnamon, and it was not my favorite, but I'm definitely glad I tried it.

The Maple Bacon Bar was probably my favorite. It was a straight up yeast doughnut without filling, maple icing, and two strips of bacon. Holy. Freaking. Yum.

Thor Approved

Their menu of flavors

Chandeliers and a huge voodoo doll.

Pink boxes
I really enjoyed visiting Voodoo, though I wish the parking was better (apparently Denver natives wish the same about everything in town). I do think I'll come back every time I visit. It is a CASH ONLY establishment, which they do have signs everywhere, and an ATM (which was out of order, but they had a list of nearby ATMs).

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An Adventure at the (Upstairs) Circus

One thing Lauren really wanted to do while I was in town was visit Upstairs Circus in downtown Denver, which is a bar, where you can also make different crafts. Or, it's a craft store where you can drink. It was firstly a crafting establishment for me, because I didn't get any alcohol, but I did get a Garden Lemonade, which was delicious. Nice and refreshing for the warm afternoon.

Lemonade with Basil
At Upstairs Circus, they have a menu of things you can create. Since we went at Happy Hour, crafts were $25 (there were a few that were more expensive, based on materials), and they provided all the supplies to create.

Lauren opted for a Colorado Flag baseball cap (she doesn't have a hat problem. She swears!), which ended up pretty cute.

Super Cute Lauren!
I opted for a necklace made out of strips of fabric that I wove into a Celtic knot, followed by fishtail braids on either side. Sadly, it was trickier than I thought it would be, but there were attendants to answer any questions, and make sure you get it right. Once I got the knot figured out, the braid was a cinch. Then I taped the ends, and glued two metal caps on the ends, before getting to work with metal tools to connects the whole thing.

My necklace on top of the instructions
It was fun once I understood what I was doing. While there, I was going through a little phone emergency, so after I finished, I called my mom on Lauren's phone. While we were chatting, I told her that I'd have to bring her sometime, if I were to move to Colorado (which, is sounding like a better idea every time I visit!). I think she and my sister would really enjoy it.

They also had unisex-type crafts, so anyone could really make something, and enjoy themselves. Here's a list of their crafts. I kind of want to go back, and make the Hex Nut Bracelet. It looks pretty cute.

And a couple more pictures of their fun establishment.

Note the umbrella ceiling art

It was a long room, and felt a little small,
but it wasn't busy

Plus a full bar!
Upstairs Circus is great for birthdays (there was a birthday group behind our table), and Lauren and I even thought a Bachelorette Party would be awesome, complete with some doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts (which will have their own post tomorrow!). I would highly recommend them to anyone. It was a lot of fun!

After finishing up at Upstairs Circus, we headed over to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center to meet up my old friend and roommate, Kristen, for tea. We talked for about three hours (and closed down Starbucks!).

Fun seeing her again!
Kristen was a fount of information regarding the theatre in Denver, including several new play/playwright festivals in the area. I'm going to have to try my hand at playwriting again. I do miss it. She also had an Audition on Saturday. Hope she got it!

Believe it or not, this, plus the Tea Party were on the same day! Still more to come on my Totally Awesome Denver Trip!

Your Fall Bucket List Blogtober2014

I've said it before on this blog, and I'll say it again: I'm great at making goals, but horrible at achieving them. Unfortunately, you can't change that by just not making goals anymore, because a life without goals or ambition is pretty dull, don't you think?

Today's Blogtober Prompt is called "Your Fall Bucket List," and I've got a couple of things that I really want to accomplish. Some are fall-related, and some are "Get-off-your-butt-and-do-something-dammit" related.
Henry, helping me carve my pumpkin in 2010
Firstly, the Fall:

  • Carve a Captain America Pumpkin for my front porch. Probably will end up being one like this, but how cool is this one?
  • Make a really basic Captain America costume for my work Halloween Party (Can you tell I love Cap?). Last year, I was Lucy van Pelt, and one of my coworkers was Charlie Brown, Hilarity ensued.

  • Make some fall-inspired recipes with different types of squash. I've got a buttercup squash that I need to use, and I've never had one before. Heard they're wonderful, though. We shall see.
  • Start cleaning out my closet, and organizing it into seasons. It'd be nice to have legit summer/winter clothes. 
Now, I also have some professional goals, as well. 
  • Find out as much as I can about freelancing, so I can build my side business of writing.
  • Finish my novel, and get it out to betas (I feel like right now, I'm just stuck in a place, being bogged down by word count. Ridiculous, but the book needs to get finished. 
  • Write a short story prequel to my novel to get to know other characters in the book.
I'd really like to finish all of this before Christmas. Or, even before Winter. It's a lot of work, but I'm totally up for it! Honestly, Blogtober has been great for getting me to sit down and write, which is what's required of a WRITER. ;-)

If you'd like to follow along with other blogs doing Blogtober, click on the link below.

Helene in Between Blogtober

What's on YOUR Fall Bucket List?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tea for Two, Me and You

I am in sunny, beautiful Denver! Woohoo! I'm really excited to be here, despite it feeling like forever of travel and waiting, but that doesn't matter anymore, because I am here!

Before I start talking tea, I just wanted to post a shout out to Southwest Airlines for the beautiful Boeing 737 plane I was in, the delightful passengers, and the even funnier Flight Attendant we had, named Mike. Despite some turbulence, and having to wait for our gate at DIA, it was a great flight.

Now that that's over, time to talk about yesterday. Lauren and I are probably going to make it a thing every time I visit to have afternoon tea, just because it's so relaxing. The first time, we went to the House of Commons, but this time, we went to Downtown Denver to The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.

This was probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my entire life. It was elegant, and big, had balconies on the inside, looking over the dining room. It was amazing. I felt like a tacky tourist taking so many pictures, but I couldn't help myself. Luckily, later on, other people were doing the same.

The tall atrium
I did feel like a secret agent while trying to snag some pics. I didn't want the waitresses to come over to me and order me to stop. That would've put a damper on the whole day. Luckily, they didn't.

Dressed up and ready for tea
 There's something about having afternoon tea that makes me feel like a grown up. Despite being almost thirty, I still feel like a child most of the time, or like I don't know what I'm doing. For a brief, but delicious hour yesterday, I got to feel like what I always imagined a grown up to be: Someone with impeccable table manners. ;-)

The lovely lady who treated me to tea. <3
We got the Royal Palace, which included a tea of our choosing (I got pomegranate green tea, which was beautiful), a glass of Kir Royale, and a spread of scones, tea sandwiches, and then different candies and cookies.

Le Menu
The scones were wonderful. We got plain and butterscotch, both of which were made even better by the Devonshire cream and strawberry jam. My stomach is rumbling just thinking of it.

The sandwiches were Cucumber with Cream Cheese and Dill, Curried Egg Salad, and a Chicken Salad. People who know me know that I really can't stand cucumber, and never have been able to. For afternoon tea, I managed to eat both pieces of the Cucumber sandwiches our waitress brought out. They weren't bad. I think the cream cheese and dill helped. The chicken and egg salad were both absolutely wonderful.

The treats we had on the top tier of our tea tray were mini cheesecakes, mini mocha cakes (with gold painted coffee bean!), caramels, and a salted caramel truffle that was so amazing that we both ate in silence for several minutes. There was also a chocolate dipped cookie that was light and crisp.

It was honestly the high point of an already amazing day. Here are a few more pictures.

My Pomegranate Green Tea

A Toast to Friendship...with Berries on Top

The lovely China
If you're in Denver, and want a beautiful afternoon tea, make reservations at The Brown Palace. It was a little tricky getting there, but once we were there, it was totally worth it. Apparently, it's also hard to get reservations sometimes, except on Fridays? Thankfully, that's when we went.

Lauren and I decided that Afternoon Tea was going to start being a real thing every time I came to visit.

My Favorite Instagram: Blogtober2014

I'm a huge fan of Instagram. I like taking pictures, and playing with them to make them prettier, and on my Instagram, you'll mostly see pictures of my cats and Frisket. There are a few other pictures of me, and family members in there, but mostly it's just my pets. I'm a proud pet mom. What can I say?

The one that I love best, though, the one that brings back some good memories is this one:

For a few months, Jane hadn't been feeling weel, and had been really stand offish. I couldn't get her to come near me, and I had to chase her to make sure she got her medicine. The vet had her on an antibiotic for the infection her scratching had caused, and prednisone to heal the actual rash she had, but she was also on Fluoxetine (which, she still is).

One night, I was laying in bed, and Jane cautiously entered my room, as she'd been doing for a few days. I'd tried earlier to set her on my bed, but she immediately hopped off, and ran away. This time, I was just minding my own business, letting her come to me.

She didn't come to me, but she did finally get on the bed, and get comfortable. I quickly pulled up Instagram to capture it, and then after giving her a quick snuggle (which she didn't run away that time), I left her alone to get accustomed to being back on the bed.

I love the vibrant purple, and the stark wall against Jane's gray, tan, and white markings. It looks really artistic to me, and this picture symbolizes the end of a dark time in Jane's and my history. Since we've moved, she doesn't really come upstairs to my bedroom anymore (no matter how much I plead with her), but she does sit on me while I watch TV.

What are some of YOUR favorite Instagram shots?

Helene in Between Blogtober

One thing I can't live without: Blogtober2014

If you're still here, thanks for continuing to follow me with #Blogtober14! I've been spending the last several months trying to perfect my craft, and as you can see, there have been a lot of changes to the actual blog, from the domain, to the fonts, background, and header. Learning to code and design blogs are high on my list of goals for the next year.

Now, to get into today's prompt, brought to you by Helene and Taylor is one thing that I can't live without. There are tons of things that I love, from movies, to writing, to reading, watching television, and lifting weights. These are all things that I enjoy doing, but one thing I enjoy above all of them (actually two things) are singing and cooking.

Dad's birthday Cupcakes
 I love baking, and cooking, and learning new techniques. There's just something awesome about putting together ingredients, and having them come out so wonderfully.

The cupcakes that would apparently
find me a husband.

The best cornbread in the world.

The Best RedVelvet Sour Cream Bundt Cake Ever
By Lizzy Mae Early @YourCupOfCake

Garlic Scape Pesto

Sea Scallop Stir Fry

Red Lentil & Bacon Stoup
I'd really like to bring more recipes to the blog, as I try them out. I think I was doing well for a few days, until we got busy. I want to bring more types of food, breakfasts, desserts, full on meals, maybe even some food challenges to learn and test new skills.

Helene in Between Blogtober

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What do you want to be when you grow up? #Blogtober2014

That's a loaded question. Everything I've ever wanted to be, for as long as I remember, was art-related. Nothing practical. I did want to be a nurse, like my mom, when I was about 5-7, but looking back, I think I wanted to play the part of a nurse, making people feel better, and not getting blood or puke or pee on me. I also think I wanted to be my mom. She's still my hero, and is in remission from Breast Cancer. Go, mommy!

Birthday Cupcakes!
But around that same time, I also really wanted to be a painter, though I never really could draw well (like my friend, Kaity, who is a much better artist than she believes herself to be). I do remember that after seeing Annie (1982) with Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, and Ann Reinking, I really wanted to be a dancer. Ann Reinking made it look so easy. I also started singing along with the many musicals that my dad showed me (for many years, I wanted to be Judy Garland).

As I got older, and didn't get the solos I thought I deserved (I was, and still am, a bit stuck up about my singing. I'm good!), and this continued into high school and college. Doesn't do much for the self-esteem to be constantly told No. Getting told I'd never make it as an actress during college is still a wound that's healing. Luckily, about four years ago, I attended church with my parents, who introduced me to the worship leader, John. Dad introduced me as, "My daughter who sings," and the next thing I knew, I was singing up on stage with the rest of the team the following week. I constantly worried about whether people were mad at me, since I'd never been there before, and wasn't a member. That fear pressed on me for months, until one week, I missed service, because I was out of town, and when I returned, everyone told me how glad they were that I was back. I am completely and totally blessed to be singing with such a talented group of musicians at my church. I sometimes think that singing on a worship team is where God wants me, because it's the most at home I've ever felt while singing for people.

But singing on a small church's worship team doesn't pay the bills, sadly. I still think about what I want to be when I grow up, because I don't feel grown up in the slightest. I just turned 29, and it doesn't feel like it. I was just speaking to a woman on the phone about booking my Girlfriend Cruise 2015, and she told me I sounded like a child. #sopranoproblems

I've never stopped writing stories, ever since I was nine years old. Even while pursuing acting, I wrote and wrote and wrote (though, I didn't finish anything until 2012, when I finished my first book). Making the switch from Acting to Creative Writing wasn't a hard switch (until I met my classmates, but that's a completely different story).

I started this blog in 2012 because I wanted a place to consistently write and share my thoughts. My goal is to someday use the blog as a jumping off point to more freelance work. I've just recently started looking for freelance work to supplement my regular paycheck (dang private school student loan debt!), and get my bills paid off.

What it all comes down to is that I want to write and sing. These have always been my passions. To make a living with one or both of them is the dream. And I'm working on it.

Helene in Between Blogtober