Fun Winter Activities You Can Do With Your Kids

One thing that many parents hate about winter is the cold temperatures. When the temperature drops, you’ll likely find that your kids spend more time inside as they play video games or sit in front of the television because they don’t want to deal with the ice and snow. As a parent, you can set a good example for your kids and show them how fun winter can be. Some of the best winter activities are those that you can do inside and out with your kids.

Go Sledding

As long as you have a hill nearby, you can plan a sledding day with your kids. You can pick up an inexpensive sled from almost any big box store. If you plan ahead, you’ll find cheap sleds at thrift stores, secondhand sporting goods stores and even yard sales. Kids can also have fun trying different things out as sleds like a trash can lid or the top to a plastic storage box. When using those items, just make sure that the hill has a softer slope that won’t cause them to fall off.

Plan a Ski Trip

Many parents don’t think about taking a ski trip because they assume that these vacations cost too much. While you may not have money in your budget to stay at a four-star resort, you may have enough cash to plan a day trip to a local resort. Some of these resorts offer specials for those who come on weekdays or those who come in a small group. You can even sign up for family classes or lessons that teach you how to snowboard or ski together. With Little Hotties hand warmers in your pockets, you and your little ones will stay warm on the slopes.

Make Real Hot Chocolate

Take a break from the cold weather outside to make some real hot chocolate together. Anyone can heat up some water and pour in a packet of powdered drink mix. Making hot chocolate from scratch helps you bond as a family and make a delicious treat that you can share. All you need is some chocolate, milk and a little sugar. Bring the milk to a gentle boil before adding the chocolate and the sugar. You can experiment with different flavors like cinnamon and vanilla and top each mug with some real whipped cream.

Try Maple Candy

Teach your kids how to make a simple but delicious snack that they’ll want to share with their friends with just a few simple things. Use a bowl to gather some fresh and clean snow. You’ll then pour a small amount of real maple syrup onto the snow. With a wood craft stick, carefully twist and turn the syrup to mix it with the snow. This creates a small piece of candy with an intensive maple flavor that kids and adults will love. It may even become a family tradition in your home.

Just because winter brings some cold temperatures to your area, that’s no excuse for spending every day in front of the television or away from your kids. You can create a new tradition with your kids that they’ll look forward to every year. Consider making hot chocolate and maple candy or going skiing or sledding together.

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COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY: Something of Substance by Tia Souders

Something of Substance

by Tia Souders

Contemporary YA

Expected publication: March 28, 2018

Book Description

Seventeen-year-old Grace Michaels is determined to be thin, even if she dies trying.

Part of the in-crowd at Providence High, she is steps away from being asked out by the most desired guy at school, winning a prom queen nomination, and her parents’ approval. If she can just get skinny enough, be pretty enough, and popular enough.

But Grace is thin on the outside and fat on the inside. No amount of weight-loss ever seems enough. Convinced the melting pounds will solve her problems, every pound lost brings her closer to her goals. But flesh and bone can only hide the weight of her secret for so long before it kills her.

 Fans of the emotional and thought-provoking contemporary YA fiction, such as Before I Fall, Tell Me Three Things, and All The Bright Places will fall in love with Souder’s heart-wrenching novel, SOMETHING OF SUBSTANCE.

I count the days until prom like I count calories. Ninety-eight days. Thirteen hundred calories.

I almost puke at the number.

Thirteen hundred. Maybe. I’m not even sure, which scares me more than the weight of the number.

How could I not keep track? And how could I go over? Do I really have no self-control? If I keep this up, I’ll be right back where I started—fat and unpopular.

My forehead beads with sweat and my fingers twitch, as I glance at my alarm clock—only three a.m. I turn on my side, then get up, knowing there’s no falling back asleep now. Not with all the numbers running through my head. Not with the fat I must’ve stored throughout the night resettling on my thighs like it found its way back home.

I tip-toe away, out of bed, afraid someone might hear me, which is unrealistic since my mother’s snore rivals a bass drum and my father sleeps like the dead. As for my sister, Kelly, she couldn’t care less what I do.

When I come to a stop in front of the full-length mirror on my bedroom door, I don’t even take the time to assess my silhouette in the moonlight. Instead, I lift the soft cotton of my t-shirt. My eyes home in on my ribs, barely visible under a layer of fat, then move to the paunch above the drawstring of my pajama bottoms. I poke at the skin there and grimace at the cushion I find. All I see are the two cookies I ate at Cara’s house last night and I wonder how many calories were in each bite. Fifty? Twenty-five? I have no idea and my ignorance scares me. I had fun and felt too safe, too included. I let those feelings cloud my judgment and lull me, blanket me into false security, where I allowed myself to lose control.

Stupid.

As I lower my shirt, I silently berate myself, then drop to the floor and lie on my back. With closed eyes, I cross my arms over my chest and start sit-ups. I count as I go. One. Two. Three. I do this until the memory of the cookie fades and my abdomen aches. When I can do no more, I stand back up and bend forward in a deep lunge. I ensure my knee touches the ground each time, my legs at perfect ninety-degree angles. Ten laps around my room, I tell myself, then I’ll try and go back to sleep.

I once read sleep burns more calories than lying awake, something about your body recalibrating your metabolism. I don’t buy it. Regardless, there’s no way sleep burns more than lunging, so as my thighs begin to burn and catch fire, I allow the sensation to ease the fluttering in my chest and the rise of bile in my throat.

Right lunge. It will be okay. Left lunge. I’ll be okay.

I won’t gain ten pounds from two cookies.

But I could gain one.

When I finish, slightly sweat-damp and out of breath, but feeling a tiny bit better, I get back under the covers of my bed. Though I’m too hot with the thick comforter pulled up tight under my chin, I leave it there because it will make me sweat. And while perspiring won’t burn excess fat, it might help me lose water weight, giving me the tiniest bit of peace to help me relax into the mattress and slip off into a light slumber.

 

About the Author

Tia Souders is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novel, Waiting On Hope and the upcoming award-winning young adult novel Better Than This (formerly titled Freedom Road). When she isn’t writing, she’s likely renovating their century home. She’s a wine-loving, coffeeholic, with a sweet tooth and resides on a farm in rural Ohio with her husband and children.

 

Author Links:

 Website | Facebook | FB Street TeamInstagram

 

Win a signed ARC paperback of Something of Substance.

Click here to enter!

 

Be notified when SOMETHING OF SUBSTANCE releases – Subscribe to Tia’s mailing list: http://eepurl.com/deIqg5

 

How To Take Your Garden To The Next Level

Having a garden is one thing, but transforming it into an idyllic piece of land is another. You need to take pride in your outdoor space, especially if you love to host parties and events. Having a garden that’s so-so, lacking in color and vibrancy, as well as full of weeds and dying plants isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to find ways to make it stand out and improve its attractiveness.

Learn about the impact landscape architecture has on an area like this one, and how paying attention to this concept will elevate the charm of your space. Take your garden to another level by investing time and money into making it look nice. Pay attention to the details and see what other people are doing to get a feel for what you like before you get started.

Plants & Greenery

Take care of your landscaping and hire a professional to help make your vision a reality. Include a lot of unique and attractive plants and trees, and add elements of surprise like a fountain or sculpture. Make people forget where they are when they enter your garden and create a lush environment to enjoy. A green scene has a way of putting you in a good mood and makes you appreciate nature and all its beauty.

Lighting

While natural lighting is ideal, it’s not going to get you through all hours of the day. If you have a roof of some kind, then hanging lights from it can be a wonderful and quirky way to make a statement while providing a means of seeing during nighttime. If you want to create a funky yet elegant design, then installing a unique Sputnik Chandelier can create such an atmosphere; such futuristic lighting can create a truly remarkable environment for all to enjoy. When lighting your space, think big and bold. After all, you want to design something out of the world and truly unique, and lanterns and fairy lights are nothing when compared to daring alternatives.

Seating

Make sure there’s plenty of seating in your garden. Think large, comfortable couches, benches or crates flipped upside down and covered with a boho cushion. This is your chance to shop around for modern solutions that offer a striking element to your garden. Think of how seat cushions can add a pop of color to the space too.

Bar & Refreshment Area

Build a bar and offer drinks and snacks in your garden and patio area. This way you don’t have to go inside when someone’s hungry or thirsty. Build the bar that’s facing the entertainment area, and where everyone will be sat socializing; stock it with many refreshments to limit trips inside. This is another area you should take time to decorate. Consider adding lighting under the countertop and reflective mirrors behind the bar. Have plenty of modern stools placed along the bar too.

Conclusion

Add greenery and modern décor to your garden and watch how quickly it transforms into a masterpiece. Make sure you attend to the details and take your time. Use this project as a way to improve your design and decorating skills. When it’s all done be sure to enjoy it and appreciate all your hard work.

REVIEW: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Literary Fiction

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Book Description

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

4fleur

MY THOUGHTS:

4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS


Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng

With a novel with a great number of characters and such a sweeping plot as this book has, it’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to a review. Little Fires Everywhere can be thought of as a thick rope, in which each strand of twisted nylon is intricately woven into the whole, and each strand has something important to offer when it comes to contributing to the overall story.

As its’ basis, it’s a story of how two very different families become intertwined in each other’s lives one year in the late 90’s, in prim and proper Shaker Heights, Ohio. There’s much to be said about the town being a character of its’ own; the setting and all the reader comes to know about it play an integral part of how the plot plays out.

The Richardson family is well off and has been a part of Shaker Heights since its’ founding. The father is an attorney and isn’t actually present that much, and the mother Elena is a journalist working on small pieces for the local newspaper. Elena is proud and thinks herself kind and giving, but I could tell from the beginning that her kindnesses didn’t come without later-to-be-named stipulations. Oldest daughter Lexi is a senior and Ivy League bound. Son Tripp is a sports star, attractive and beloved by all the girls. Younger son Moody is sensitive and speculative, and youngest daughter Izzie is a rebellious spitfire who is always at odds with her mother’s meticulously planned life.

The Richardsons come to know the Warrens when they move into their rental duplex. Mia is young, an artist with a wandering spirit who only holds down menial jobs because they pay for her art supplies. Pearl is her daughter, quiet and bookish but longing for a sense of home. Pearl and Moody become immediate friends, and before long the Warrens and the Richardsons are getting involved in each other’s lives in intimate and irreversible ways.

Now, the first chapter of the book will tell you what the immediate consequences were, and then the story unfolds from the beginning to tell you how the characters got to where they are. There are also several flashbacks to the pasts of a lot of characters, so if you don’t like non-linear storytelling, I would say Little Fires Everywhere is not for you. I happen to like a good deal of background information as long as it is relevant to the plot, and the flashbacks here only enrich the story further.

The conversations and the way events unfolded in the novel felt so natural to me; I could really see and hear each character in my mind. I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and I’m glad I did because I am sometimes a skip ahead reader ( :O ) and getting ahead of myself in this book would have made the whole thing not come together as beautifully as it did, in my opinion.

The Warrens and the Richardsons couldn’t be more different, and that’s why the two families coming together ultimately leads to dissension. There really wasn’t too much interaction between the two mothers in the story until the end, and I was waiting for this because I knew when it happened it would be disastrous. But the story ended quietly, with not as many fireworks as I had hoped for.

I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere a great deal, but the ending did let me down a little bit. I was both sad at the way things worked out, and frustrated that the entire truth did not get revealed to everyone. I feel like reviewing this book doesn’t do more than give you a broad picture of what the plot is about, so I’ll say it’s worth a read just so you can see a masterpiece in story weaving, because that’s what the author has accomplished here.

View all my reviews

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About the Author

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, was published by Penguin Press in fall 2017.

3 Ways to Add Value to Your Home

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Buying a house is a huge investment both financially and emotionally. Choosing where to live is no easy decision, you must consider a number of factors and mark each one against your lifestyle. You want your chosen neighborhood to have good transport links to be accessible for work, have an abundance of amenities, good schools, public spaces, and so the list continues. Once you have narrowed down your options, and selected areas on which to focus your search, you can then begin to look for a property that satisfies your needs.

It can be easy to be put off properties by their current condition, but to find a home that you can add real value to, you need to look beyond the cosmetic condition. As long as the property is structurally sound, and ticks your accommodation requirements, you have an opportunity to grow your investment while putting your own design style on it. Here are the top 3 ways to add value to your home.
The Kitchen
Kitchens are no longer just a functional necessity for the home. Kitchens are now multi-use spaces that families spend a lot of time in. If the property you are considering has a kitchen that needs attention, do not despair! While you are viewing it, try and establish whether the walls of the room are loadbearing; if they are not, they can easily be removed to make the room bigger. When it comes to the design for your new kitchen, choose durable flooring that will be easy to maintain, and adequate storage solutions so that counters can be kept clutter free to maximize the feeling of space.
The Bathroom
Bathrooms are the one room in the house that can provide a solitary sanctuary from the stresses of everyday life. Updating your bathroom will allow you to create an environment that you can relax and unwind in. While the bathroom furniture you select needs to be functional, this does not have to be at the expense of style. While trends come and go, a safe yet stylish option would be to incorporate contemporary bathroom products into your design. For example, the Duravit collection of bathroom furniture will give a contemporary update to your bathroom with its earthenware pieces. Even the smallest of bathrooms can be given a luxurious upgrade, just remember to choose furniture that retains visibility of the floor space to create the illusion of space.
The Curb Appeal
People often concentrate on the interiors of their home to add value, but is important to pay attention to the curb appeal of your property. Your outside space provides the backdrop to your home, and is an opportunity for you to show your design flair too. If gardening isn’t your thing, choose low maintenance options for the garden’s design. Remember, that you look out of your windows into this space, so you want it to be optimized for your enjoyment from inside, just as much as when you are outside.
You will hopefully have many happy years in your new home, and while cosmetic updates do cost money to fulfill, by choosing wisely this money will be returned to you when you come to sell the house. You don’t have to do all the updates at once, make a list of what you would like to change, and prioritize the rooms as you see fit.

How to Make Cleaning your House Easier When you are a Parent

 

Let’s face it. The duties of being a parent are never-ending.  

Our day-to-day consists of getting everyone ready for school, paying the bills, checking items off our to-do list, having dinner ready for all at night, and ensuring that everyone is ready for bed to start preparing for the next day.  

Our days spent as parents can often be described as cyclical since they tend to occur in the same fashion each and every day.  

Think about your day as a parent.  Besides the cycle just mentioned, what other variables can get thrown at you during the day?  

Some deal with work, socialization, and other outside factors as well.  

However, there is one common that all parents also handle, which is making certain that the house stays organized and clean on a daily basis.  It can be hard to make time for this to happen!  With all the other commitments and obligations we have as parents, sometimes, this step can fall through the cracks, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  

There are ways to keep up with your day-to-day and also keep up with the upkeep of housework, too.   

How can you make it happen?  Here are a few tips on how to make it easier on yourself when you clean your home.

  • Think small.  If you stop and think that you have the entire house to clean, it can be overwhelming.  Start small, and break it up into floors or sections.  Instead of saying that you need to clean the entire house, start by saying that today you are going to focus on only the bathrooms in your home.  Making it sound smaller or more of a simple to-do task also makes it feel more manageable and doable.
  • Involve the kids.  Who says that parents should be the only ones that are required to clean?  Everyone in your family lives in the house, so why not have everyone in the family help to keep that house clean?  Have a weekly chore list assigned to each child in the home (Pinterest has some nice ones you can print out).  Giving tasks such as cleaning their room, sweeping and vacuuming the common areas and washing, drying and putting away the dishes are great chores that kids can help do.  It also helps to relieve some of those items that you have to do on your to-do list!
  • Set a cleaning schedule.  Take out the work of thinking about what needs to be cleaned each and every day, and set a schedule so you automatically know what to clean based on whatever day of the week it is.  Have Monday be laundry day, Tuesday is the day to clean up the living room, Wednesday can be bathroom day…and on and on.  Leave a bit of extra time in case there happen to be areas that need some extra attention or a surprising mess that needs to be quickly cleaned, but overall, planning your days to clean certain areas will also help with your time management skills.
  • Invest in good cleaning products.  While cleaning products may be expensive to buy, it is also good to have products that aid in the efficiency of how you are able to use them.  This goes for detergents, brooms, vacuum cleaners, and even your own iRobot robotic cleaner if you can afford it (Parenting Pod has a good summary of the different models available).
  • Remove items that don’t belong in rooms.  In homes with children, toys are more than likely scattered from room to room.  Start removing items in each room that don’t belong there.  Once you have those items in hand, immediately take them to the space or room where they should be.  By doing this, it instantly helps to clear up clutter and make the room appear less-crowded and more manageable.  Most messes start with a foundation of clutter, so by lessening that from the beginning, the cleaning factor may also feel less daunting as well.

As a parent, cleaning is one of the chores that tops our list.  While it can be hard at times to be motivated to stay on top of cleaning up the house and all the messes that show up on a daily basis, it doesn’t have to be.  

Try the suggestions listed above to see if they can help you make that cleaning a tad bit easier.  Before you know it, your home may have such a great cleaning routine going on that the upkeep that goes along with it may take minimal time out of your daily schedule!

 

Look at These Six Things Before You Buy a Home

Buying a home is a big step. There is a lot that goes into it, and with so many things going on at once, some items might get overlooked. However before you make your purchase, it’s important that you go over some key details to ensure you know what you are getting into. To help you out, here are 6 things you’ll want to look at and consider before you sign any papers.

 

The Location

There’s a saying in the business world – “Location, location, location.” Essentially this means that no matter what your business is, the location is the most important factor. This is also true for your home. The location of the home will play a large role in not only the price, but how much you enjoy it. How far are you from the local stores? What school district are you in? Are there fun things to do nearby? What’s the weather like in this area? These are all important things to consider before you buy your home. You don’t want to make a purchase, only to discover it’s a long drive to get groceries, or that your area is prone to get bad hurricanes.

 

Neighbors

Looking a little closer to home, you’ll want to get a read on your potential neighbors if you can. Do they take care of their property? Do they have young kids? Are there any complaints within the neighborhood? Imagine moving you and your family in, only to discover the house next door is a home for a college fraternity. Problems with your neighbors could put a damper on the fun you experience from buying a home, so find out what you can before you move in.

 

Landscape

Moving in closer, we have the landscape surrounding your home. What sort of privacy do you have in your yard? Is there a lot of work that needs to be done? Do certain areas flood after a heavy rainstorm? Changing the landscape of a yard is usually expensive, and you’ll want to think about this before you make any decisions. While you can certainly change things after you buy the home, it’s better if you don’t have to do too much work in order to get your yard the way you want it.

 

Major Appliances

Moving inside the home, you’ll want to examine any major appliances and hardware that are coming with the home. Things like the furnace, washer and dryer, central air conditioning, and dish washer are all expensive pieces, and you need to know what kind of shape they are in. The cost of your home is likely impacted by the inclusion of these pieces, but if they are in bad shape or need repairs, you don’t want to pay extra for them. Examine each carefully and make sure they work, and even consider having an expert come into the home and inspect them for you. Here is a list of the appliances you should check before including them in the sale of the home.

 

Flooring

After the appliances, you’ll want to check on the floors within the home. Are they in good shape? Are you going to need to replace the carpeting? Do you notice any signs of water damage? Replacing the floor of a room can be costly, especially if it’s a larger room, so the less you have to do the better. Don’t be afraid to get down close and really examine the floors if need be to ensure they are in good shape.

 

The Roof

Finally, after looking down at the floors, look up towards the ceilings and the roof. If the roof is in bad shape, you could be in for some costly repairs. Take a look on the outside and see if you notice any damage. On the inside, you’ll want to look for signs of water damage within the ceilings – or signs that water damage was covered up. You can hire an expert to come in and examine the roof for you, or you can try to do it yourself. Either way, just be sure the roof is in good condition before you buy anything.

 

Doing Your Due Diligence

When buying a home, you need to check over every nook and cranny. There are some parts of the home you’ll want to give extra attention to however, as they could lead to costly jobs down the road. If you’re set on a home, consider hiring local professionals to examine it one last time before you complete the sale.

 

For instance, if you’re looking at homes for sale in Woodinville, WA, you could work with your local realtor, or check online listings, for professionals in that area. Experts in the area will know best what to look for in those types of homes, and will be able to give you a solid assessment. No matter how you go about it, as long as you are thorough, and examine the items mentioned above, you should find yourself pleased with your new home.

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: The Leak of Madness by Alice J Black

 
I am so excited that THE LEAK OF MADNESS by Alice J. Black is available now and that I get to share the news!
 
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Alice J. Black, be sure to check out all the details below.
 
This blitz also includes a giveaway for 10 eBook copies of THE LEAK OF MADNESS, International, courtesy of Parliament House Publishing and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
About The Book:

Title: THE LEAK OF MADNESS (Soul Seekers, #1)
Author: Alice J. Black
Pub. Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: eBook
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kobo
 
The spirit world has been in touch with Peyton, and it’s more than she
can tolerate. Sometimes their messages are loud enough even to pierce beyond the veil of her alcohol-induced stupors.

When she is invited to attend her best friend’s brother’s wedding at The Manor House, Peyton is compelled to stare down memories of her life before it was decimated by fire and tragedy. Continuously topping herself up with alcohol to keep the voices at bay, it becomes clearer and clearer that there are forces at work in the old building…shadows darker than Peyton could have ever imagined.

The Leak of Madness is the beginning of a thrilling, fast-paced series of horror novellas overflowing with intrigue, romance, redemption, and most importantly…ghosts.

Will Peyton find the normal life she could have if only she stops drinking or will the forces of evil drive her mad?
Book Trailer:
Exclusive Excerpt:


“What would the lady like?” he asked as he stood behind the bar, waving at the bottles in their optics. Little did he know how much each of those bottles appealed. Like a kid choosing candy in a store, I was transported back to my first drink, stolen from my dad’s cabinet. That one had been whiskey. Back then, I took whatever I could get. Now I was old enough—and I might argue wise enough—to choose my own
poison.

“Do you know,” I started as I leaned over the bar, looking between the man and the bottles. He really was a good-looking guy. “That you’re giving me reason to give in to temptation.”
His smile widened. “Hey, if I didn’t ply you with alcohol, what sort of bar man would I be?”
I grinned as he continued to watch me. This guy still wore the label of lad, and he was cute, but I had a couple of years on him. Still, age wasn’t everything. “See the thing is,” I started again. “My friend doesn’t like it when I drink.”
“And is your friend your keeper?” He raised his brow.

“No, but see, that’s my point. This has to be a secret.”

“Secret.” He leaned in conspiratorially and I couldn’t help but inhale the deep scent of his aftershave. “I like secrets.”

About Alice:

I’m an author in the North East of England where I live with my partner and overly-ferocious cat. I have been writing for as long as I can remember mostly in the dark genres but recently, I have expanded into other genres (such as young adult). My cupboard is stocked with an array of different and funky notebooks (because you can never have too many). My inspiration tends to come from a lot of different places but my first novel and a lot of my ideas come from my rather vivid dreams (which my partner tells me I tell him about as I’m still dreaming!)

Giveaway Details: International
10 winners will receive an eBook of THE LEAK OF MADNESS, International.

Ends on February 13th at Midnight EST!


CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

REVIEW: Tea Tree Skin Care by Era Organics

It might not be as lofty a goal as some people’s, but I decided one of my 2018 goals would be to start a detailed skin care regimen and keep it up, twice a day.  This proved to not only be something I enjoy doing, but something I am really getting into–I’ve spent more money on masks and moisturizers in the last two months than I have in my whole life!

I really believe that targeted skincare makes a difference, and that is why I use differing products depending on the day and the needs of my skin on that particular day.

Even though I am in my 30’s now, I still get occasional breakouts.  I cannot use the same cleansers as I did when I was a teen.  I need something that will keep my skin clear, but also make sure it’s not dried out.  That’s why I like Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Cleanser and Face Cream.

The Tea Tree Oil cleanser is a creamy, smooth wash that goes a long way even though it’s not a foaming formula.  I liked that while massaging it into my skin it felt silky, and did not leave my face feeling stripped after it was rinsed off.  After only a couple days of use the spots I already had were clearing up.

My favorite of the two products is the Tea Tree Oil Face Cream.  It’s a thick moisturizer, which I especially love in these winter months, because my skin gets dry patches when the cold winds start blowing.  The base is coconut oil which is immediately apparent.  This cream also has a much stronger smell of tea tree oil than the cleanser does, so be aware of that.  With all that being said, this was a fantastic moisturizer for me!  I put it on at night since it’s such a thick formula, and in the morning my skin was still dewy and soft.

Era Organics products are all made with natural and organic ingredients such as herb and flower extracts and moisturizing oils and butters.  They can be found on Amazon and I believe they are reasonably priced for the performance they offer.

 

**DISCLAIMER: I was sent these products by the manufacturer in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by this fact.

Making Sure Your Customer Service is Amazing

If you decide to start up a business, it is of the utmost importance to learn that customer service is paramount.  No matter if you deal with the general public or not, you have a requirement to offer the best product and service you can to the people who pay you to do what you do.  Below, I will mention some ways that having fantastic customer service is important, and what you can do to make sure you are achieving a high standard in this regard.

LISTEN

First and foremost, I believe a common trait of being human and communicating with others is the fact that each and every person wants to be heard and acknowledged.  This is especially true in the world filled with technology today–everyone has been given tools such as Snapchat and Instagram so they can fulfill their wish of being seen.  That’s why with any customer question or complaint, no matter how small it may seem, the person on the customer service end of things should make sure they are listening to the best of their ability.  This means no interrupting and no trying to formulate an answer in your head while the other person is still speaking.  Even in online dealings such as chat or email, be sure to relay to the customer that you understand their complaint or request by naming it specifically in your response.

PROVIDE USEFUL SELF HELP TOOLS

On almost any website that sells goods or provides services to others, you can usually find a Frequently Asked Questions section.  But to preempt some queries, why not go a step further in helping your customers to help themselves?  Many consumers appreciate the introduction of guided tour software if a website they wish to use may have some confusing pathways or buttons.  How to videos and instructional articles are another way to go.

ALLOW CLIENTS TO SEE RESULTS

Above all, a service must provide proof and assurance that their offerings will and do benefit users who are paying for that service.  By allowing your clients to use such tools as product usage analytics, you are showing another way you can be of value to your customers and your own value when it comes to anticipating your users’ needs.

There are many ways to provide exceptional customer service, and surely every customer that has to be dealt with will have their own set of intricacies.  By using some of the tactics outlined above and being willing and open to learn more, you can ensure customer satisfaction no matter your service offered.