Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 2.26.17

Howdy, folks. It's been a rough week at Chez Ellison. Jameson and Jordan lost their cousins Miraj (on Saturday) and Jamocha (on Wednesday) so we've all been quite sad. There's nothing harder than saying goodbye to your beloveds. And strangely, our fifth anniversary of losing Jade was last Sunday. So there have been a lot of tears, and candles burnt, and donations to animal shelters made. Isn't it amazing how a creature who can't actually talk can become such a bosom buddy? I don't know that we're ever the same after such a loss. 

And then Mr. Ellison and I were felled by the flu. I don't know that I've have the real flu since my U.K. tour in 2010, and we picked up swine flu on the train to London. That was bad. This is about the same. I am a wreck. I am on Tamiflu, and Sudafed, and cough syrup with codeine, and hot toddys, and I'm still wrecked. (As you can tell, I do sick well. Wah!)

Suffice it to say, with all the grief and illness and other unmentionable insanities this week, there wasn't a lot of work done. But... Lent starts Wednesday, and that means I'll be sneaking off on my annual social media sabbatical. I even have a full-fledged writing retreat scheduled during this time, and I fully expect to report back April 13 that I have a finished manuscript. That's the goal, anyway.

So. Even sadly, we march ever onward. It's the only way we can function, yes? 

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Y'all know I'm a sucker for productivity tips. In honor of Presidents' Day, Lifehacker ran a special article with productivity tips from leaders who have sat in the Oval Office.

In "I'll take 'Sobering Thoughts' for $600, Alex": using the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books instead. 😳

Watching HBO's adaptation of BIG LITTLE LIES? Maybe you're not into TV, just the actual novel (I get that). At any rate, here are 16 novels you'll love if you enjoyed/are enjoying BIG LITTLE LIES. (spoiler alert: along with some books from kickass writers like Megan Abbott and Clare Mackintosh, NO ONE KNOWS is on this list! 🙌🏻)

And speaking of adaptations: these are 10 things you'll relate to if you prefer the book to the movie.

And closer to home:

If you got the BookBub email this morning, you may already know this, but... THE FINAL CUT ebook is on sale for only $1.99! Get it while it's hot, y'all—this is the best time to start reading A Brit in the FBI if you haven't already, since #4 is coming out in a couple of weeks.

Newsflash: a wine-distributing purse exists, and it's amazing. We at The Wine Vixen aren't telling you how to use it or anything, but... it may help out during your next family reunion.

And if you're looking to expand your vino-horizons this year, here are four ways to make 2017 your best year of wine ever.

You like thrillers. I like thrillers. Here's a giveaway with 50+ thrillers up for grabs! Say hello to your next binge read... or fifty.

That's it from me. Y'all enjoy the first days of March (in like a lion, you know), hug your furry friends, and we'll talk again soon.


Sneak Peek: A WORD ON WORDS with Alan Furst

photo credit: NPT

photo credit: NPT

I had the great honor of interviewing Alan Furst for A WORD ON WORDS, and I can’t wait for you to see this one. I posed a question about our fascination with World War II, and Alan’s answer blew my mind and clarified everything about the genre. I’ll never look at it the same way again (and yes, it sparked an interest in the time period for me as well, which you may see in an upcoming book…)

Win-win interview, right?

Loved his book, loved meeting him. Great guy and lots of fun for y’all. 

What I'm Into (February 2017)

Here’s the roundup of what’s turning my crank this month:

Cobalt Blue Betty teapot

My ten-year-old teapot finally bit the dust, and I’ve been wanting a Brown Betty forever. This glazed blue is a prettier version of the classic. The first one I ordered came with a broken handle (but pot itself intact) so I was thrilled when they drop shipped another. I’ve found it to be the best teapot ever. Nice and big inside, lots of room for water to move through the leaves, and it stays hot under the cosy for at least an extra two hours. Highly recommended.

UGG slippers

My old LL Bean moccasins are on their last legs, and I’ve had my eye on a pair of UGG Dakotas. But they’re pricey, so I was holding off. Then, lo and behold, I had an issue with a different pair of shoes from Zappos and they kindly gave me a big credit for my trouble. Boom — into the cart went the Dakotas. Cozy warm, wonderfully made, I am in heaven trotting around the house in these beauties. 

No/No Bird Feeders

Wanting to entertain the kittens, I decided to get some bird feeders I could perch close to the porch for their viewing pleasure. I’ve always had wooden feeders, but they rot and make the feed gross. Imagine my delight at finding the No/No brand—No Wood, No Plastic. I bought three different ones — the big red cardinal feeder, a small round ball, and the bronze wild bird feeder. And then I filled them with safflower seeds instead of black-oil sunflower, to discourage squirrel takeovers. We are happily overrun with chickadees and cardinals now, and I even spotted a tufted titmouse couple yesterday. The squirrels are NOT interested, either. Wonder who is getting more pleasure out of these feeders, me, or the cats?


Friday morning yoga

I committed to reinvigorating my yoga practice this year, and have stuck to that promise by going to an actual class. It’s wonderful, kind and nurturing, exactly what I needed to get back on the wagon. 


Constant Comment tea

Do you remember this one? I wanted a quick cuppa the other day and opened my drawer to see these beauties sitting there. The moment I ripped open the package, I was transported back to childhood. So fun. (And yes, I’ve been a life-long tea drinker…) 

Vintner’s Daughter Botanical Face Serum

I am allergic to everything, so I am very careful what I put on my face. Since I’ve switched to completely natural makeups and shampoo, I’ve seen a big difference, and this awesome serum is the keystone to it all. Great story, great product, great results. What more can I say?


Late night dancing to The Clash

Especially my all time favorite, "Rock the Casbah." No explanation necessary.



What are you into this month?

Sunday Smatterings

Well hello, chickens! Having a good weekend, I hope? There's been lots of sunshine here in Middle Tennessee this week. Our daffodils are almost bloomed out, the trees I have no name for are all budded, but there's no forsythia (they seem to have the edge when it comes to getting overly anxious and blooming too early--slow and steady, the forsythia) so I doubt it will last. Have you ever heard of Blackberry Winter? $10 it's coming...

This week I looked up and realized I was more than halfway done with my next standalone novel! 🎉 Considering it kicked my tush from one end of the house to the other for a few months, I'm heartened. There's nothing better than feeling a story quicken under your fingers, the characters coming to life on the page. It means there's hope the story has a chance of being what I want it to be. You never know though. Sometimes, books have minds of their own. 

Now on to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

One of my favorite reasons to travel? I get to catch up on my TBR list! But what happens when you're not feeling anything on the pile? Buzzfeed has compiled their 27 books to read while you travel. What say you, reader—do you concur? What's been your favorite travel read?

This quote from George Bernard Shaw will make you think deeply on how you live your life, and how much of it has changed in the 21st century. (spoiler alert: it's about how we communicate)

Does your schedule feel packed to the gills, even though you still have goals you'd like to achieve? More reading, more moving, more volunteering? Here's a thought: altering your morning and evening routines can help you achieve those seemingly impossible goals. All it takes is a few minute a day. 

Merriam-Webster recently added 1,000 new words to their dictionary. These are a few fun ones.

Do you like Romantic Suspense? Join this giveaway, where you could win 50+ novels! Countless hours of steamy thrillers, y'all. Just sayin'.


And closer to home:

Last week, I talked about how I'm trying to untether myself from technology a bit in 2017. This week, I continued the series, and discussed how and why I'm systematically turning of my retweets.

If you love food and happen to hit the lottery someday, The Wine Vixen has found the perfect foodie road trip for you!

I'm so pleased to share that Season Two of the EMMY-Award-winning TV show I cohost, A Word on Words, is now airing! This week, brilliant novelist and bookstore owner Ann Patchett talked with my divine cohost Mary Laura Philpott about Ann's new novel, Commonwealth. Ann has done such a great thing for this city, giving us Parnassus Books as our literary hub, and it was lovely to kick off our new season with her.

P.S. Catherine and I got our finished copies of THE DEVIL'S TRIANGLE in the mail this week and OH MY are they BEAUTIFUL!!! A thick, fat book with a gorgeous cover (that should've been on Maria's favorite things list, huh?). Barnes & Noble still has a few signed copies left, and it's the cheapest I've seen it yet. Go get one for you and a friend!

That's it from me. Talk a walk or two outside, be kind to restaurant servers, hug your fur babies, and I'll talk to you soon.


Season 2 of A WORD ON WORDS Is Coming!

So excited to share that our Emmy-Award winning TV show A Word on Words is premiering Season 2 with the divine Ann Patchett this weekend!

It's a darling interview, isn't it? What a wonderful way to kick off the season.

More shows coming every weekend this month, so stay tuned. Once they’ve aired, you can see them on the A Word on Words website, as well as my own.