Link Love: Romance Gems Giveaway

Romance Gems, my group blog, is having a great Giveaway in September so I'm sending some Link Love their way.

It's all about getting back to you as an individual, not just a parent taking care of the kids on summer vacation.

So the prizes in the September Back to School? Back to YOU! Giveaway are sure to delight you and maybe pamper you a bit. In fact, it's winner's choice. Choose the Amazon Gift Cards or choose the Gift Prizes.

Enter the September Rafflecopter and you may be the lucky winner of an Echo Dot With Alexa or a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Be sure and watch the Back to School? Back to YOU! video promoting the September Giveaway. It features all of the Romance Gems authors and showcases some with their respective author "tagline," a brief sentence that describes the kind of books you can expect from them.

I hope you like the video since it's one of mine. If you do, please click LIKE and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. If you have a moment, leave a comment and tell me where you found the link for the video.

The Amazing Author Sponsors

Bonnie Edwards * Caroline Clemmons * Cheryl Bolen * Connie Vines * Constance Bretes * Elsa Kurt * Hannah Rowan * Jan Scarbrough * Joan Reeves * Judy Hudson * Kara O'Neal * Karen Kelley * Karen Whiddon * Kari Lemor * Kathleen Lawless * Kathryn Hills * Laura Hunsaker * Liz Flaherty * Lucinda Race * Nancy Fraser * Nora LeDuc * Peggy Jaeger * Satin Russell.

Giveaway Details

Starts at 12:01am CDT, September 4, Wednesday.

Ends at 12:01am CDT, September 27, Thursday.

To enter, scroll to the bottom to find the Rafflecopter form.

Great Prizes Up for Grabs

Grand Prize: Winner's Choice—Echo Dot with Alexa or $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Alexa can read most of the ebooks on a Kindle, read an Audible audio book for you, keep track of your calendar, organize your life, do research for you, play games, play music, make phone calls for you, and even order a pizza!

Actually there's even more that Alexa can do for you. There are hundreds of free Alexa apps available to you.

2nd Prize: Winner's Choice—Reader's Journal or $15.00 Amazon Gift Card.

If you select the Woman's Writing Journal, you'll receive the one shown to the right if available or another attractive stylish journal.

3rd Prize: Winner's Choice—Lavender Bath Bomb or $5.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Have you had bath bombs before? They're like a bubble bath kicked up a few notches.

They fizz and smell absolutely wonderful. If you select Bath Bomb as your prize, we'll send one similar to the Lavender F Bomb, "a lavender bath fizzer with a message inside," shown on the left.

Good luck everyone! Enter often and tell your friends.

Wisdom for Today: Change

Life is change. How many times have you heard that?

I was at a party Friday night, and a friend and I were talking about some things happening in our community that are unsettling and puzzling.

I think one of the problems is that change is coming with the election of new officials. This change means following certain codes and restrictions that haven't been enforced before.

Weeks later there is so much turmoil in the community that it's unbelievable.

Is it the change itself that's upsetting everyone? Is it that the change means, rules that some don't like must be followed even though they have been there all along but unenforced? Is it that some of the residents feel they should be exempt from rules everyone else follows?

Whatever the reason, the end result is dismaying.

Stephen Covey said. Every human has four endowments—self awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change.

Takeaway Truth

One can only hope that others will always respond peacefully, courteously, and decide to accept change that is lawful and inevitable.

Saturday Share: Storing Cut Onions

How about a tip on how to store onions in the refrigerator where they're always ready to use in recipes?

Onions are hard to store in a refrigerator because they tend to stink up the entire fridge. Whatever else you have stored in the fridge will reek of onion too.

I came up with this solution several years ago when I receive glass crocks of cheese spread. The crock was glass with a rubber seal and one of those old-fashion wire clasps.

If you're like me, you hate to throw out something that looks so useful. When it was empty, I washed it and stored it in the top of the cabinet with other canning jars that had once been full of jellies and pickles. I'm frugal. I just hate to toss something so useful in the recycle bin without first trying to find a regular use for it.

Chopped Onion Was the Clue
This is the kind of jar I use & must have the rubber seal

I was making a recipe that called for 1/4 cup of chopped onion. That meant I had more than half an onion left. So I diced it all up. Then I thought of the jar with the rubber seal and the wire closure.

I retrieved it from the cabinet, filled it with the rest of the chopped onion, made sure the seal was well placed, and closed it. I put it in the produce drawer of the fridge. An hour later, I checked the fridge for onion odor. Nothing!

Wow. I'd finally found something to store cut onion that didn't smell up the fridge. Now if I need a tablespoons of diced onion, it's easy to measure out.

I look for these jars, or crocks, at thrift stores like Goodwill. I've picked up another 3 over the years that I've kept. Any others I find, I give as gifts.

At Christmas, I fill them with a homemade spice mix, attach I a pretty bow and a card that explains to wash and reuse them as onion storage jars.

I'm always on the lookout for these jars, and I find at least 1 or 2 each year. Everyone who has received this as a gift passes on the tip to others.

Takeaway Truth

I've never found a better storage container for cut onion. Try it once, and you'll be convinced too.

Saturday Share

Join me every Saturday when I share a recipe, a household or organizational tip, or a short cut to make life easier for you!

Enjoy your weekend.

Review: The Sapphires

Last night I watched The Sapphires, a new release on Netflix. You can also find it on Amazon Video.

The Sapphires is a 2012 Australian musical comedy-drama movie based on a 2004 stage play of the same name.

Loosely based on a true story, the story is about 4 indigenous Australian women, Gail (portrayed by Deborah Mailman), Julie (portrayed by Jessica Mauboy), Kay (portrayed by Shari Sebbens) and Cynthia (portrayed by Miranda Tapsell).

These 4 girls with the awesome singing voices are discovered by a talent scout (Chris O'Dowd). When told they could perform as an act in Vietnam and earn $30.00 a week, they go for it.

They form The Sapphires, go to Vietnam in 1968 to sing for the troops fighting there.

Production began in 2010 on the movie with the casting of the 4 women who would portray The Sapphires.

Filmed in Australia and Vietnam during August and September 2011, The Sapphires premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In August 2012, it was theatrically released in Australia and then had a limited release in the United States in March 2013.

My Thoughts

If you're looking for a feel-good movie with some good music, The Sapphires is it. The 4 girls portray sisters who love each other and fight with each other just as siblings often do.

What's interesting is the back story of the rift between 3 of the girls, who really are sisters, and the 4th girl who is actually not a sister.

In Louisiana where I was born, it was public policy in the bad old days to try to erase the Cajun patois from language, forcing all children to speak only English.

According to the movie's back story, in Australia, back in their bad old days, they forcibly removed light-skinned indigenous children from their homes and "gave" them to white families to adopt.

During the course of the movie, we get that history lesson and its emotional fallout on children and families who went through that. We also get a story with heart and optimism about 4 women determined to have more in their lives than the general public thought they should have.

Takeaway Truth

My husband and I both enjoyed this movie because of the story, the acting, the emotion, and the music. I think you'll enjoy it too!

Elizabeth and Robert: Their Love

On this day in 1846, romantic poet Elizabeth Barrett eloped with Robert Browning.

Theirs was a love story that lives on in her Sonnets from the Portuguese.

You may know nothing, absolutely nothing, about poetry, but I bet you know her poem, familiarly known as, How Do I Love Thee.

Maybe some historians say their love wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, but I like to think it was true love with some life problems and emotional baggage like we all have.

History of Sonnets from the Portuguese

Barrett Browning didn't want to publish her volume of poetry because she thought they were too personal. Her husband Robert Browning insisted they were the "best sequence of English-language sonnets since Shakespeare's time" and encouraged her to publish them. To try to remain anonymous, she agreed but published them as if they were translations of foreign sonnets. Originally, she planned to call the collection "Sonnets translated from the Bosnian."

Her husband suggested she change the source to Portuguese. One reason for that was because he called her my little Portuguese.

Since this work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago, I am publishing it below.

Sonnet XLII from Sonnets from the Portuguese aka How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace.
True Love is always worth everything.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise;
I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith;
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Takeaway Truth

An anthem to a beloved that still thrills us.

Day of Tragedy; Day of Service

On a sunny September morning in 2001, I was vacuuming the gameroom when my husband called from his office in Houston and told me to turn on the television.

I did. I could not believe what I was seeing. Black smoke billowed from what looked like the north tower of the World Trade Center.

I told my husband something must have happened to the plane's inflight computer and somehow the  autopilot was locked on.

Of course, that was just my brain trying to make sense of what I was seeing because I could not believe someone had deliberately flown into the building.

As I watched, a United Airlines plane (Flight 175) flew into the South Tower.

Horrified, I stared at the television. For a few minutes I think my brain disconnected. No longer was I trying to find rational explanations of the horror I was seeing. My chest hurt. I realized I was holding my breath. I exhaled and gulped some much needed air. A thought flashed through my mind.

The world has changed.

Where Were You?

Nearly every time 9/11 is mentioned in conversation, someone says where they were and asks where you were on 9/11. It was a seminal event in the lives of most Americans.

If you weren't born or were too young to remember those early anniversaries, here are some facts for you to know.

The attacks took the lives of 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others.

The death toll included 265 on the four planes, (No one on the planes survived.), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. There were 11 unborn babies who lost their lives.

Of the people trapped in the collapse of the World Trace Centers, only 20 were found alive.

There there are all the service members who were killed or wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Turn Tragedy Into Service

Rather than let the 9/11 anniversary fuel your anger, let it inspire you to be of service to others on this day.

nine-eleven-3134131_1280, by Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay
There are many ways you can honor those who died or were injured. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Fly your American flag at half-mast in honor of those lost their lives.

2. Give blood in honor of the more than 6,000 who were injured on that day. There are many blood drives on this day. Find one near you.

3. Join a local event to observe the six moments of silence for each key event of the attacks.

  • The first moment: 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower.
  • The second moment : 9:03 a.m., when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower.
  • The third moment: 9:37 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
  • The fourth moment: 9:59 a.m., when the World Trade Center South Tower collapsed.
  • The fifth moment: 10:02 a.m., when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field outside the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • The sixth moment: 10:29 a.m., when the orld Trade Center North Tower collapsed.
WTC Memorial, Image by Ronile from Pixabay
4. Talk about with others, especially share it with young people who know it only as part of history.

5. Post a picture on your website to honor those who lost their lives or were injured.

6. Volunteer through one of the non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

7. Donate to a charity that supports the families of 9/11 victims, museums, and other beneficial programs.

8. Thank a soldier, sailor, marine, Air Force, Coast Guard and first responder for their service.

For more service suggestions and history of why September 11 was chosen for this attack, read the 2016 article 15 Ways to Remember. The historical significance of September 11 is at the end of the list.

Takeaway Truth

We remember, despite the pain, that fateful day. Philosopher George Santayana famously said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Remember history's lessons. We never want to repeat that day.

5 Blog Tips: Effective Hyperlinks

Want some more blog tips about making effective hyperlinks? These 5 tips will make your blogging more successful too.

Using these tips is not difficult. Only a little thought is required. You can write the post first then go back and edit to make sure keywords are reflected in the title, first paragraph, and anchor text of links.

1. Make the anchor text for your links clear and succinct.

Anchor text is the word or words on which the hyperlink is embedded. Always make those words relevant to the website that the link goes to. For instance, if you're linking to an article that gives more information about the subject of your post, your anchor text probably says, "Click for more information."

2. An even better way is to make the anchor text be a keyword.

The above example is rather generic. Let's use keywords. For instance, keywords for this post would be "blog tips" and "effective hyperlinks."

So instead of using generic anchor text, "Click for more information," you could say, "Click for more blog tips" and/or "Click for more about effective hyperlinks."

You would use "blog tips" and "effective hyperlinks" as anchor text for the links, just as I've used them in the sentence above.

If you use anchor text in keywords, that increases the SEO value of your content.

3. Make the text of your hyperlink that shows when moused over, clear and succinct too.

Many times, readers are hesitant to click a link if they mouse over it and gibberish shows up.

4. Avoid using too many links in your content.

Besides spoiling the appearance of your formatted content, too many links are annoying, and they slow the reader's eyes down. Too many hyperlinks stuffed in will also decrease your SEO value.

5. Always set your links in a post to open in a new tab.

You want the reader to stay tethered to your blog. With a link opening in a new tab, your blog will still be open in the original window so readers can easily wend their way back to you.

Takeaway Truth

These 5 tips aren't difficult. They require just a little thought.