These granddaughters of mine, Fiona and Aubrey, now almost twenty-one, had a wonderful time in the snow at Big Bear…back in 2004.

This blog was created with the two of them as the centerpiece…all things snow.  And happy days as a family.

Now my themes are all about sparks of any kind, like bubbly, and wine, and anything that reminds me of happiness.  And I have settled into my Armchair Traveling role:



Sharing bright new experiences, like Aubrey’s semester in Prague.  Check out some of her special perspectives so far:


Another fabulous view:


Love this view, too:


I love this perspective:


And now for a peek into a neighboring country, Hungary:  Parliament….

Back in my office, the Armchair Traveler enjoys a morning of blogging and reading…and breakfast:


Enjoy your special moments!  What is your perspective today?





I love the look of lakes and mountains.  The photo above is one from my niece Amy’s collection.  She luckily lives in a beautiful spot, and also managed to escape the wildfires that descended just an hour away from her home.

Below, Fiona spent the summer in the outdoors, working in Yosemite National Park.  Afterwards, she enjoyed finding her makeup again.



Aubrey is having a great day here…and found someone to capture the mood for her.



Some of my favorite mugs gather on various shelves and surfaces.  On the left, each of the Three A’s has his/her name printed on the side (Alec, Aubrey, Aaron); in the middle, Baby Alec, my first grandchild; and on the right, a mug I enjoy which I bought in Big Bear during one of my vacations to the cabin there.



And then I found this photo of Craig, my eldest son, just before he took off for Europe again.  This one was snapped in 1994, right after I had moved into this A-frame house in the foothills.  He is holding a book, with his photo on the cover.



And check out this delicious looking Shepherd’s Pie that I had last fall…I am eagerly awaiting its return to the menu at Marie Callender’s.



As you can see, my photos are an eclectic mix of sentimental and recent.  What are you sharing this week?



When my daughter and son-in-law went to Europe for their honeymoon, they visited with my eldest son Craig and his wife Gabi, and Craig captured some photos of them against the beautiful Prague backdrop.

I love how he sometimes likes to use black and white for dramatic effect, and I applaud what he captured here (below).




Equally effective:  the bright blue skies and the spires of the fabulous architecture nicely frame the newlywed couple.





In this shot, Prague is laid out behind them in a fabulous view.



These buildings behind them are familiar to me because of other photos Craig has in his collection.  I think their familiarity makes them even more perfect as a backdrop.



And then, check out the “adoring, honeymoon look”….



One of my early Prague photos from Craig…




Back here at home, my ever-changing bookstack…books brought from the office to this “up next” stack…



That’s my spotlight for this week.  What is yours?





Good afternoon!  As you can probably tell, I’ve been playing around with WP themes again, and when I do change a theme, I have to create a whole new blog look.

I wanted something that sparkled, so I found photos of some stars, some wine, and a martini.

Then I grabbed the camera, and decided to spotlight a few things around the house.  Here’s a glimpse of the living room, below…and my newly “decluttered” coffee table….LOL




Here’s a close-up of the coffee table.




Now I’m off to the office, where I grabbed a few shots.  I did a little rearranging of The Nook, below:




Here (below) you can see the space where that big bookcase once lived.  Above, there is an award, and next to it, a bulletin board I enjoy, with photos of family, friends, and events.




My laptop is happily ensconced on the table I use as a desk.  To the left, you’ll notice a couple of baskets where I stash notebooks and post-its.  The little VW bug behind and to the left of the laptop (Louisa May), is a paperweight that I enjoy for its quirkiness.





Finally, one of my one remaining bookshelves in the office has been purged, leaving behind some of the books I can’t yet give away.  There will always be those books, I am sure.



office bookcase - post purge

One of my tasks in the weeks ahead is to do a “head count” of my physical books.  Before I started purging, I had 1435 books.  But now that I have let go of six bookshelves full of books, as well as the books in the pantry and in the bathroom, I am guessing there will be hundreds less.

Time to celebrate?  Well, let’s wait until I have some final numbers.  I have a feeling that I’m not done yet.

How do you know when your purging is complete?  Or is it an ongoing process?





It is a curl up and read day.  Outdoors is a little bit cool, and I’m not feeling the draw to go out there.  Although a nice, brisk walk might be in order.  Later.

I’ve been fussing around with my blogs again, and as you can tell, this one went through a makeover.  I like the background with the sparkly drink.

Over at Going out on a Limb, everything is different, too.  I changed themes to a format I’ve been noticing around the blogosphere, in which you can see snippets of the posts in miniature…and click to “read more.”

I’m reading a captivating book from Vine, written by Tiffany Baker: Mercy Snow.




In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.


And in the mailbox yesterday, I found my last anticipated Vine review book, The Book of You, by Claire Kendal.





A mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense about a woman who must fight to escape an expert manipulator determined to possess her, Claire Kendal’s debut novel is a sophisticated and disturbing portrait of compulsion, control, and terror that will appeal to fans of Before I Go to Sleep, The Silent Wife, and Into the Darkest Corner.

His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go….


I had to have these books…and now that all of my Vine books have arrived, I must hurry up and read!  I have finished one of the eight, and I’ll finish the second one today, probably (Mercy Snow).

I am listing the books in order of how I plan to read them.  It is hard to choose, though!





And then this one:




Could this one come next?





All of these are waiting, tantalizing me.  Sparking my enthusiasm.  What books ignite your passions this week?







Welcome to Hump Day Sparks.  Watch the sparks fly as we circle around the web in anticipation of upcoming book releases.  Check out Breaking the Spine to see the Waiting on Wednesday posts.

Today’s choice for me is a book from an author I enjoy.  Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve, is an epic story set against the backdrop of WWI.  Release Date:  November 12, 2013.




When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.


It’s been awhile since I read a new Shreve novel.  I can’t wait!  What are you waiting for?



wow button

Welcome to a Wednesday event that is sure to spark your intrigue:  Waiting on Wednesday, by Breaking the Spine.

My find for today is one in a series I am enjoying.  The In Death series, by J. D. Robb.  Thankless in Death will be released on 9/17/13.




In the latest suspense thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, the year 2060 is drawing to a close in New York City and loved ones are coming together for Thanksgiving. But sometimes the deepest hatreds seethe within the closest relationships, and blood flows faster than water…

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has plenty to be grateful for this season. Hosting Roarke’s big Irish family for the holiday may be challenging, but it’s a joyful improvement on her own dark childhood.

Other couples aren’t as lucky as Eve and Roarke. The Reinholds, for example, are lying in their home stabbed and bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. Those who knew them are stunned—and heartbroken by the evidence that they were murdered by their own son. Twenty-six-year-old Jerry hadn’t made a great impression on the bosses who fired him or the girlfriend who dumped him—but they didn’t think he was capable of this.

Turns out Jerry is not only capable of brutality but taking a liking to it. With the money he’s stolen from his parents and a long list of grievances, he intends to finally make his mark on the world. Eve and her team already know the who, how, and why of this murder. What they need to pinpoint is where Jerry’s going to strike next.


What are you drooling over today?  Come on by and share….



Welcome to Hump Day Sparks, where the excitement we feel about upcoming releases ignites and is spreading throughout the blogosphere.  Check in at Breaking the Spine to see the links!

The Wonder Bread Summer, by Jessica Anya Blau, is coming on 5/28/13!  Yay!


Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, delivers another darkly hilarious, heartbreaking coming-of-age novel with Wonder Bread Summer.

In The Wonder Bread Summer, loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, 20-year-old Allie Dodgson has adventures that rival those Alice had down the rabbit hole. Or those of Weeds’ Nancy Botwin.

Allison is working at a dress shop to help pay for college. The dress shop turns out to be a front for drug dealers. And Allison ends up on the run—with a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine.

With a hit man after her, Allison wants the help of her parents. But there’s a problem: Her mom took off when Allison was eight; her dad moves so often Allison that doesn’t even have his phone number….

Set in 1980s California, The Wonder Bread Summer is a wickedly funny and fresh caper that’s sure to please fans of Christopher Moore, Carl Hiaasen, and Marcy Dermansky.


I like the sound of this one, from the setting to the time period.  Not to mention all the similarities to other favorite things in my life.  What are you sharing today?



Let’s ignite some passion for upcoming book releases today, and join the folks at Breaking the Spine for Waiting on Wednesday!

What are you excited about?  I’m drooling over a new book from Sarah Jio, coming on 5/28/13

The Last Camellia is “an intoxicating blend of mystery, history and romance, this book is hard to put down.”


On the eve of the Second World War, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?


I have adored every Sarah Jio book that I’ve read thus far, so naturally I am eagerly awaiting this one.  What are you waiting for?


Welcome to Hump Day Sparks, our place for celebrating upcoming new releases.  Check over at Breaking the Spine for all the titles being touted today.

I just discovered a new series by Fern Michaels, and today’s feature will be released on 9/25/12.  It is Breaking News (Godmothers).

Life Is Full Of Surprises

Teresa “Toots” Amelia Loudenberry has her quirks, but no one–especially not her trusted friends Sophia, Ida, and Mavis–would ever question her loyalty. So it’s no surprise when Toots decides to extend her stay in Charleston to help care for her ailing housekeeper.

Though the Charleston air is drenched with azalea and honeysuckle, and there’s always a pitcher of sweet tea close to hand, the ladies have little time for relaxing. Ida’s new line of cosmetics is about to launch, and Toots, Mavis, and Sophia are relishing new careers as models. And Abby, Toots’s daughter, is getting hitched. In the middle of so much change, Toots is almost too busy to notice her own unexpected romance. After eight husbands, she’s sworn never to get involved again. But fate–and her friends–may have other plans. And every godmother, fairy or otherwise, loves a story that ends with happily-ever-after. . .


What are you excited about today?  I hope you’ll stop by and share your comments and links.