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Friday, May 31, 2013

It's Friday, Love

This week was a huge improvement over the giant sink hole that was the week before. Maybe it was the full moon, maybe it was the fact that it was a short week, maybe it was the sunshine who knows.....who cares......I'm just trying to enjoy it. I have a huge picture bottle neck so here's some of my favorite shots from the past couple weeks that I haven't had a chance to post yet. 

Monday I'll have the next installment of She's Becoming Gold and I can't wait for you to meet Andrea! Have a great weekend everyone!

{ My neighbors took pity on me and invited me over for Memorial Day so I wouldn't starve }

{ The most comfortable chair in the world }
{ Coffee on the porch }
{ If you need an infusion of magic in your day, stop by Church Hill's very own Fairy Garden at 28th and Grace }

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

She's Becoming Gold: Meet Leslie

{ From L-R: Kelly, Leslie, Andrea, Julie, Karen }

She's just recently feeling alive
After all of the tears and the changes
Now there's something that's taken ahold
She's becoming gold

She's Becoming Gold, Lyrics by Marc Cohn

I had the good fortune a few months ago to see Marc Cohn in concert. It was an intimate affair at a small venue where I found myself three rows from the stage. The music was amazing, but what really made the evening unforgettable were the stories he told about each song. What stayed with me the most was a story about his first wife and how he marveled at the shift he saw in her when she found a confidence she hadn't had before. He explained that she began to listen to, rather than stifle, that little voice inside her head and became the woman she was always meant to be. The result was his song She's Becoming Gold

I couldn't shake that thought for some time and talked about it with several friends. Through these conversations I realized that we were all feeling the same way. We had chosen paths, both professional and personal, that had led us to where we were today, but we still felt this yearning. We didn't know what we were yearning for but we knew we wanted more. That little voice inside of us wouldn't be quite.

I listened to mine and started this blog, for which I will always be immeasurably grateful. My life has changed and grown in so many ways that I never even knew were possible. Several friends have recently made career shifts or started new creative endeavours, and I thought wouldn't it be wonderful if, through their stories, other women could be inspired to find their own passions. My mission set, I gathered these amazing women for food, cocktails, and girl talk at VMFA's deliciously eclectic restaurant, Amuse. Although they are a diverse group, what connects them is that they listened to that little voice as well and made a change for the better. Over the next four weeks I'll be profiling these women on Austen Hill and sharing some photos from our outing. I hope their stories will inspire you on your own journey.

Age: 34

Creative Shift: Corporate Cog (Cubed walls and all) to self-owned design firm, Dollilop Designs


1. When you were a little girl what did you want to be when you grew up?

It seems like I wanted to be something new each year. I didn't know exactly where I would land, but I knew it would involve a creative process.

Writer/poet, Wonder Woman, Department Store Window Designer, Virologist, Surfboard Designer, Dorothy from Oz, Fashion Designer, English Teacher.

2. What expectations were placed on you growing up regarding your eventual professional and personal lives? In retrospect, did they inspire or stifle you?

My adolescent expectations were to get good grades and get into college-education was a high priority. Even though my parents were both business minded-I never felt any expectations to abandon my creative flair for something "practical". They were very supportive of my music, art, and creativity. This was also evident from my childhood nickname, "Doodlebug".

I have always been fiercely independent, so any expectations I had for myself were put there by me (did I mention that I'm a Virgo?).

Looking back I wish I had taken more risk in order to grow. Today I attempt to practice flexibility, finding the gray, and enjoying the process of my creativity.

3. Describe your mentors and how they have affected you.

My mentors over time haven't been just one person. They are a collective of women. As a young girl, I always had 3-4 women/friends in my life that were my core. The faces changed over time, but the concept was always the same. A group of strong, unique, kind, intelligent, talented, and supportive women, sorta like a coven. Yes, there have been stand outs along the way....but the constant is what keeps me going.

4. What was your first "grown up job" that you landed after college and what did it teach you?

Production Artist: Ode to the clipping path.

It taught me:

  • Attention to detail in my work.
  • It is important for me to feel understood by those around me.
  • Profit should not be put before people.
  • It is important to work for a company that shares your core values. If not, you won't feel good about yourself or the work you are putting out into the world.

5. What was your worst job and what did it teach you?

It was a senior design position for a product development company. I had just been through a mass layoff at a previous job and with the severance coming to an end, I let uncertainty, fear, and my financial responsibilities cloud my judgement. I didn't just ignore, I stomped on (with a pair of Doc Martin's) each waving red flag. That experience taught me to listen to my intuition and trust myself. It also taught me I am not one of those people that can't ignore my own unhappiness. I have to be growing, seeking new perspectives and learning.....staying engaged while filling the well.

New Directions

6. You decided to forge a new path by taking a different direction in your career and/or creative life. Describe the moment you knew you were going to pursue your passion and why?

(See the worst job you ever had above) I took a long time to heal after that experience. The thought of jumping back onto someone else's payroll left me feeling itchy. I knew I had to make a go at my business on my own terms. Suffering the consequences of an unauthentic position and creative space made it imperative to evaluate and trust going forward.

7. Tell us about your new venture.

After free-lancing on the side for over 13 years, I decided to take the leap and focus 100% on my own business. Dollilop Designs was agency providing creative and inspired designs for authentic brand solutions. My goal is brands and all in between. The work is incredibly comprehensive, the learning curve is high, and the client needs change as fast as the technology. I enjoy the interaction with clients, getting a deeper understanding of their lives, and how I can make what they love work better.

8. Any new step is a risk. How do you stay motivated during the difficult moments?

Owning my own business is expedited soul work- I am always pushing my comfort zones. You have to get used to holding the hand of uncertainty and serendipity at the same time.

When motivation takes a tank, I remember how I felt when I was doing work I didn't enjoy- while making someone else a lot of money. I find perspective by talking to other designers, getting out into nature or connecting with people. I am fortunate to have married a very patient Libra, who is a great listener and reminds me to put things into perspective and to take a deep breath.

The Fun Stuff

9. Coffee or Tea? 

Tea with cream and sugar.....and those super tasty almond wafer cookies from Trader Joe's.

10. What do you do to unwind after a hard day?

I cook something with the tunes turned way up followed by a glass of wine (or two) on the deck. We have good rocking chairs out back that are great for chatting, admiring the garden, or studying the bats overhead.

11. If you could have dinner with one woman throughout history who would it be?

Appetizer: Coretta Scott King

Main Course: Willie Ann, my maternal great grandmother. She passed in childbirth with my grandmother soon after leaving her Cherokee Reservation.

Aperitif: Frida Khalo

12. If you could give one piece of advice to yourself at 20 what would it be?

  • You are not going to have it all figured out..not today, not even ten years from now, not ever.
  • This is your journey, dismiss the chatter.
  • Embrace your wonder will see Ireland, Germany, South America, and a lot of great cities over the next ten years.
  • Practice makes progress- there is no such thing as perfect.
  • Everything I just answered in this interview is completely subject to change....almost immediately.

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Friday, Love

{ A fabulous brunch with the ladies at Amuse to kick off a new profile series on the blog }

You know when you put your arms out and spin and spin and spin. You can keep it up for a little while but then there's a moment when you start to loose your balance. That's how I've felt all week. Just a little off....... a little {a lot} not myself. No one thing has contributed to this loss of equilibrium, just a series of small things that have piled up quickly and taken their toll. Oddly enough, most people I've talked to have felt the exact same way so in my capacity as a scientist {just go with it} I've determined it's the universe's fault and Saturday's full moon will rectify the situation. 

Everybody is a bit different but for me, when I'm in a funk, there's a few things that help; laughing with my friends, cranking up some music and dancing in my living room {Miss Austen is embarrassed by this and goes in the other room}, and creating something {like this post}. I've firmly decided that next week is going to be amazing though so I'm already excited:). 

Speaking of next week, I'm taking Monday off for Memorial Day but I'll be back on Tuesday with the first in a series of posts that I'm very excited about. Over the next four weeks I'll be profiling some amazing women who have followed their creative passions and begun new chapters in their lives. I hope their stories will inspire you to do the same. Have a fabulous weekend!

{ Ted and little Embry having a laugh at the Rosé tasting }

{ Excited the band has finally narrowed down our playlist }

{ Organizing also helps me when I'm feeling funky so I've been a little basket crazy this week, no jokes please:) }

{ Prepping for book club dinner at my house this Saturday - I'm attempting to turn the living room into a circus tent - wish me luck! }

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Last month's book club selection was Bossypants by the incandescently fabulous Tina Fey. If I'm being honest I really want to be her when I grow up:). The book was hilarious and I highly recommend it if you haven't already picked it up. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book and pics of the extremely yummy brunch Amy made for us. Happy reading!

Do your thing and don't care if they like it......

To me YES, AND means don't be afraid to contribute. Always make sure you're adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile......

You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.....

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Special Bottle

There are no standards of taste in wine...Each man's own taste is the standard, and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standard. 

Mark Twain

I should start out by saying that I don't know anything about wine. Well I take that back, I've seen the movie Sideways at least a dozen times so I know just enough to be dangerous and not sound like a complete idiot. But please don't ask me to explain what a tannin is or you're likely to get my quizzical face and a hmmmmmm......well. I do know what I like and don't like though, illustrated by some of my extremely classy go-to phrases like.....

That's not bad......



and my personal favorite

That tastes like an old shoe!

Despite my utter lack of wine knowledge I really do love it. I love the sound the cork makes when a bottle is being opened. I love the feel of the bottle in my hand. I love that it's often a shared experience that means something is being celebrated.

What are we celebrating? Well if you're having a glass by yourself it could mean that you're celebrating the fact that you've found a quite moment to think. If you're having a glass (bottle) with a girlfriend it could mean that you're catching up on each other's lives as time becomes harder and harder to find as you get older. If you're having a glass with someone special it could mean that you're celebrating your first official date. And if you're having a glass with a group of friends it could mean that you're celebrating good company and laughing till your cheeks hurt.

This past Saturday my neighbors Karen and Mark held their annual Rosé tasting and a good time was had by all. If you're like me and you need a bit of help picking the right bottle for a hot summer afternoon, here are a few suggestions from their wonderful sampling. Cheers!

  • Château Montaud, Côtes de Provence 2012
  • St. Louis, Coteaux Varois en Provence 2012
  • Laurent Miquel Pre et Fils 2012
  • Grange Phillippe Gipsy 2012
  • Caves de l'Angevine, Rosé d'Anjou 2012
  • Crios Malbec, Mendoza Argentine {My favorite!}

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Basil Strawberry Iced Tea

I love basil. It's as simple as that. More to the point I love Pesto. I put it on eggs, pasta, bread, name it. I even made pesto sorbet once. Don't make that face it's actually really good. It grows like a weed too so by mid-summer I usually have to start giving it away. One day I found myself with an over-abundance of the fabulous little herb and in need of a new recipe. I was making some iced tea {which is basically a daily requirement in Virginia in the summertime} and thought what the heck let's throw it in and give it a try. Of course it was fabulous and now all my iced tea is generally accompanied by Basil.

Basil Strawberry Iced Tea

3 Tea Bags
1 Bunch of Basil
5 Large Stem Strawberries
1 Quart of Water
Agave Syrup to Taste

I like to leave the tea out in the sun for a few hours and then put the basil and agave syrup in as its chilling in the fridge overnight. Muddle the strawberries and a bit of fresh basil in each glass before you pour in the tea. And if you're looking for an extra kick add some Limoncello while you're muddling the fruit. That makes it extra good:). 

Monday, May 13, 2013

My First Day of School

Last week I was looking through old photos for a fun picture of my mom {see Friday's post} when I came across this one. That's me on my first day of school. The year was 1984 and we were living in Tampa, FL at the time for my Father's job. I had somewhat of a nomadic beginning you see, we lived in 5 different states and two coasts before I entered second grade. 

Absent video games or play dates {back then}, when I wasn't with my parents or some neighborhood friends I spent most of my time in the magnolia tree in our front yard. I think that might have been when I really started dreaming up adventures, schemes, and stories that I'm only now ready to start writing. Funny.

I also started thinking about all that's happened between then and now and how much I wish I could go back and tell her. A friend said recently that we only learn from mistakes and of course he's right. I wouldn't give up any of mine because the knowledge they've brought me was worth any tempest. But just for fun...if I could walk up to her on the black top that day here's what I'd say.
  1. First of all great outfit! I love the use of color but not too matchy-matchy and great use of accessories.
  2. In the fourth grade a girl will do something kind of horrible to you that will embarrass you in front of the whole class. Don't sweat it.......she's a hot mess now. 
  3. When you're 14 a hairdresser {who's hair you don't even like} will tell you that a bang-perm is a good idea. Don't listen to her and please promptly get up from the chair. 
  4. Junior year of high school, while innocently answering a question posed by your teacher, you will inadvertently give away the fact that the Preacher is "The Father" in The Scarlett Letter. The class will be on chapter two but the reader isn't supposed to find out until chapter three and you've read ahead. Not good. Oh crap did I do it again? Tell me you've read that book?!
  5. Seven people will have your dress on at Senior Prom. No not the same color or the same silhouette........THE SAME DRESS! Buy the red one instead. 
  6. Don't care so much about what other people think. It's your life and you deserve to be happy. And you will laugh one day when you realize that when you're happy, you're actually a better daughter, friend, partner, professional, and creative. 
  7. Being angry is exhausting. Let it go sooner.
  8. Even if it scares you, push through and do it. Nothing worth anything in life is easy. 
  9. You'll almost call your Dad that last day just to say hi but you'll put it off. Call him. 
  10. Although I've given you this enlightening heads up I'm afraid you're going to have to live through all this anyway. You'll still need something to write about one day:). 

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's Friday, Love

{ My mom Donna }
First things first, Happy Mother's Day Mom! You gave birth to me and for that I will always be uber-grateful.....I really like being alive:). You rock and I love you.

As for the rest of the week, its been pretty darn good. The response to my interview and review for A Jane Austen Daydream has been amazing! If you missed them just scroll down to Monday and Wednesday's posts. So happy I got a chance to work with Scott on this. I spent a couple days in DC for work which is always fun and the weather was beautiful. A couple bottles of red wine were also opened this week that I won't soon forget.

I hope everyone has a great weekend I'll see you on Monday!

{ A bright centerpiece }

{ A Christening for two new arrivals }

{ Tree art in DC }

{ Fire-pit parties in the backyard are the best! }

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Jane Austen Daydream

Although my blog is called Austen Hill and, if you're a regular reader, you know I frequently (nauseatingly) mention my dog Miss Austen, I realized when I sat down to write this post that I've rarely written about the author herself. Why is that? Well to me she's kind of always there, omnipresent, sitting quietly in a corner. She often gives silent advice with a disapproving smile or offers her acceptance with a short nod of the head. I lean on her self-effacing wit when I'm taking things too seriously and borrow from her literary tenacity when I need inspiration. I guess I figure you see her too so I don't need to mention her. Should I be heavily medicated? Possibly. Most people don't talk about a dead author who hangs out with them a lot. But I think most of its subconscious so lets agree that I'm probably sane and move on.

This brings us to the real point of today's post. I recently had the chance to read author Scott D. Southard's new novel A Jane Austen Daydream and even interview the author himself. If you missed the interview just scroll down to Monday's post (I'm a fan of simple instructions). Back to the book. I'm happy to report that it was universally charming. Written in the style of Jane herself, it re-imagines her life and offers the reader a front row seat for the journey.

Fans of Austen often ask themselves many questions because frankly we know so little about her. Where did she find inspiration for her characters and stories? What was her daily life like? Who did she love? The novel does a wonderful job of weaving a tale that answers these questions, even if there is a great deal of fiction to go along with the facts.

I found myself thinking of it as a love letter to all of her novels. Readers will recognize characters from each scattered amongst her real-life family and acquaintances. A meddling matchmaker, a loving sister, a dashing suitor. Obstacles and misunderstandings.......triumphs and tragedies. Not to worry though, despite their appearance these plot devices don't seem contrived in the least. Split into three sections, it's also worth mentioning that I found myself drawn to the prologues for each. They offer quite a bit of hefty inspiration and create a wonderful frame for the reader's subsequent experience. The novel also does a great job of showing how Jane's own adventures in love might have influenced the lives of her characters.

Speaking of love, the main thing all Austenites struggle with is how could a woman who wrote so eloquently about the subject not have found the happy ending she always managed to create for her characters? I think that if we take the happy ending out of the equation there can be no doubt that she not only experienced love, but felt it very deeply. Real love is rarely neat or perfect. It can be messy, sometimes inconvenient, amazing, enthralling, and so much more. People tend to focus on her endings but if they looked more closely at the rest of her stories I think they would see that love does not come easy for her characters.

Do they all hope for a happy ending? Of course. But before Austen's characters can get there they have to work for it. When they meet, being together seems as right and natural as breathing. But they don't always recognize it. Society, money, family, and life all subsequently contrive reasons to keep them apart. What do they do? They fight through these obstacles. Emma finds her self-awareness, Elizabeth overcomes both her pride and her prejudice (in my humble opinion:)), and Anne finds her strength. Through these transformations they also find love. These are the happy endings we should hold onto, not with a suffocating tightness, but with a shadow of hope that the wish I think we all share might come finally be home.

Too schmaltzy? Sorry, it's late and I've had a couple glasses of wine. So what do we do as human beings to get us through this quagmire of life? Well, when we need a tale that makes us laugh and hope for love we read Austen. Now I will also read Southard. I hope you will too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Proper Introduction

{ Author of A Jane Austen Daydream, Scott D. Southard }
Great storytelling is a gift. While some in this world can sing like angels and others can dance like a summer breeze, there are few who can write as if creating people and worlds were the easiest thing to do. This story is the tale of one such writer. 
       Her name was Jane.

Scott D. Southard, A Jane Austen Daydream, Prologue


He had me at Jane...

One of the most rewarding things about starting this blog has been meeting so many talented people who's work I admire. They inspire me with their creative voices and also serve as guiding lights on my own literary path. One person who I've had the good fortune to meet is author and blogger Scott D. Southard. His new novel, A Jane Austen Daydream, was just released last week and I was lucky enough to get to interview him ahead of the launch. He indulged me and answered my sometimes cheeky questions with candor and gusto. Thank you Scott! 

You'll find our conversation below and you can purchase your very own copy of A Jane Austen Daydream {which I highly recommend} here. Don't forget to check back on Wednesday when I'll post my full review of the novel and share a few thoughts of my own about Jane's work.

Miss Austen.......may I present Scott D. Southard of Michigan

1. How did you first become exposed to Jane Austen’s work? Do you have a favorite?

The blame for that one lies solely in the teachings of Dr. Brent Chesley at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Dr. Chesley is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice (even was known for wearing shirts declaring as much in class) and while as an undergrad I took part in a class of his that included the great novel. Now, I will admit this, before I took the class I never considered Jane Austen. That’s not to say I thought she was a bad writer (heaven forbid!), no it was just I knew her works to be more for… well… women readers. Anyway, Dr. Chesley opened my eyes on this subject and I became a fan of her writing; her wit and character development being the most inspiring to me.

After that semester, I devoured all of her books over the summer;  yet, for me, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite since it was my “gateway” to the world of Austen. 

2. Which of her novels influenced you the most while you were writing A Jane Austen  Daydream?

Each of her novels play a part in the book, influencing everything from the plot to the characters to the dialogue; you will see snippets of things throughout the reading, making it a fun treasure hunt for the Austenites, even though you don’t have to have the background knowledge to enjoy it. However, I would say three books probably had a bigger hand than the others.

See, A Jane Austen Daydream is broken into three volumes. I would say that Emma had a big hand in Volume one, Pride and Prejudice for Volume two, and Persuasion for Volume three.

3. What do you think Jane would say about a man writing her story?

I love this question and it is something I thought a lot about in the writing of my book. I hope this doesn’t sound too weird but in many ways Jane was a ghost in the room for me as I worked for years on it. And it took me quite a lot of time to even build up the courage to write this book since I hold her writing (and herself) on such a pedestal.

To justify the creation, I began to think of it as a tribute (which it is), trying to give her the romance she might have written for herself (full of wit and surprises). 

In regards to me being a dude? Well, without discussing the plot too much, I think she would have laughed.

4. Most women who love Austen identify with her characters on some level because they see themselves in them. As a man reading her work, do you identify with her characters or the situations they find themselves in?

There is one theme throughout Jane’s writing that a person would have to be a robot not to feel connected to- The feeling of longing.

Unrequited love, the desire to find someone that understands you, your other half. I am one of the lucky ones, finding that in my wife. But I can still relate to the feelings of her characters, remembering what it was like before I met my wife, wondering if I would be always alone, misunderstood, etc. 

5. If Jane were working today would she have been a writer on Sex and the City or a foreign correspondent for the BBC?

I think Jane would be the same as she was then, simply a writer. I don’t think Jane would have been stuck to a genre or medium, I think she would have followed the tide of her inspiration.

So many writers today decide their next project based on the direction of the literary winds (or possibly financial winds) at the time. I don’t see Jane being that at all. She would have been a uniquely separate force of creativity, and we would have all been looking forward to her next work, wondering what she had up her sleeve for us this time. 

6. You’re a self‐professed Anglophile (I can identify). What is it about England that you love so much?

I grew up with a love of books and it is hard not to be an anglophile because of it. For every stage of my learning there was a British writer to draw from, to hold my hand, perfect for that age in my life. From A.A. Milne as a child to my first dips into fantasy at ten with Tolkien and Lewis; there was always a British writer there.

So my love of England started with books. Everything else (The Beatles, Doctor Who, Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, etc.) just comes along for the ride. And what a sweet ride it is!

7. When did you know you wanted to become a writer? Do you view writing as a risk?

This is going to sound corny, but I always wanted to be a writer. My mom tells stories (which might be stories) of me making up tales even at a young age. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I felt ready to take on the role of it.

I think what was smart for me as a young writer, looking back, is that I always wrote first for myself. In other words, I took on stories that I would want to read, not worrying about publishers, agents, marketing, etc. See, it is when you dip into that business world of the art that it gets risky, because it can kill your creativity, starve the part of the brain that just loves to see where the imagination may lead. So whenever I meet a new writer or someone asks for  advice, I will usually say write for yourself, if success comes, it comes; but if you write for yourself first everything else is a nice bonus and you will never feel like a failure.

8. At first blush your published works seem to showcase a wonderful variety. Do you see them that way or is there a common thread that connects them?

It is very intentional for me because as a reader what I always love the most is when I can be surprised by book. I’m not the kind of reader that latches on to one genre or one kind of book, taking comfort in treading the paths that have been tread before.

No, I want to be jolted. I want to sit up and declare “How did that writer do that!?!”

So when I consider my own writing, I wanted to create a library of books that would have that impact for my readers, always wondering what little bit of magic I have up my sleeve in my next book. Even when one of my works do “dip” into a genre, chances are it is for me to warp the genre, find a new angle. So if my books surprise you (and there are BIG surprises in A Jane Austen Daydream), I feel like my job as a storyteller is done.

9. What advice do you have for writers today are working towards their first novel?

I kind of answered a bit of this in number 7. But let me add two points.

Read a lot. Read everything. Read all of the classics. Read books that sound boring. Read books that are in a genre you don’t like. Experience everything in literature. Even if you only want to write in one genre, read outside that genre whenever you get a chance. Your voice and creativity will improve with every new edition to your library. Your brain is a sponge; give it stuff to soak up.

The second point is to start a blog. A blog is the best avenue available for a writer today to build an audience and also see if they have the capability to do this gig full time. Having a blog has been very rewarding for me. 

10. I have a strict rule for the men I date. I in no way expect them to have read Jane Austen, but I certainly expect them to know whom she is. With your extensive knowledge and understanding of her work, have you ever used it to impress a lady?

Ha! I wonder if I should ask my wife for the answer on this… Let me call her… Just a second…My wife is laughing… still laughing.

My wife says simply the fact I have this knowledge impresses the lady, I don’t have to use it…. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt.

There you go.


Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is also the author of the novels: My Problem with Doors, Megan, Permanent Spring Showers, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, and 3 Days in Rome. With his eclectic writing he has found his way into radio, being the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master’s in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard” where he writes on far-ranging topics like writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site. Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his two patient children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte.



By Scott D. Southard
All her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane?
Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.
Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's Friday, Love

{ Blogger Breakfast at Urban Farmhouse Market with Karen of and Kathryn of RunEatPlayRVA! }

TGIF...........Thank God It's Friday!

I could go on, but frankly why? When the simplicity, effectiveness, and joy of those four little words says it all you don't need me to muck it up. Here are some shots from the past week. Have a fabulous weekend everyone I know I will!

{ Taking some low-light test shots in the living room for a project I'm working on for a friend next week  }

{ Miss Austen loves coming to book club at Aunt Amy's house for the yummy snacks and comfy furniture }

{ An early Cinco de Mayo celebration at Casa del Barco, I like multiple beverages:) }

{ Dried lavender to help me find the sleep that has eluded me recently }

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Playlist

{ Apron on and my sous chef by my side }
 A song is like a memory. At least to me.

Carolina On My Mind {my favorite song ever} makes me think of summer vacations spent at the beach with my family. Before the first bar is through I'm smiling. I'll Be Loving You reminds me of my first concert which was New Kids On The Block. The stage was at the complete opposite end of The Coliseum from where we were sitting but I truly believed that Jordan could hear me when I yelled I love you!. You're laughing aren't you? I get it I would be too.......ok now you're just being rude knock it off I was 10!

Fortunate Son makes me think of my Dad. He would announce to everyone in the car that they had to be quite and then pound out the base line on the steering wheel; an old habit from his drumming days. Livin On A Prayer makes me think of nights out dancing with friends, cocktail in hand and nowhere to be in the morning.

I'll Be Seeing You, one of my all-time favorites and much-loved during WWII, was apparently the Call Me Maybe of its day. It always makes me think of my Grandmother because one day when I mentioned how much I loved it she said they played it so much eventually she turned the channel whenever it came on. And finally, Poker Face always makes me think of my nephew Jack. He was crying once and when I started singing it he calmed down. Who knew Lady GaGa was so soothing? Now it's our song and he yells Sing Poka Face Aunt Kel!

Some friends and I are actually embarking on a musical endeavour of our own that I'm very excited about. Hopefully we can make some new memories with a few old songs. I find people are more creative when they're well fed so I whipped up some salsa for last week's practice. I hope you enjoy the pics and the salsa. You can find the recipe here.

{ All the ingredients for a fabulous salsa }

{ As the stars of the show, the peppers get their own photo }

{ A little "New Grass" banjo }

{ A mess, but totally worth it }

( La Mordedura Perfecta = The Perfect Bite }