Book Blast Renee Novelle and $25 Giveaway!


Three Books, One Author.

Titles: Crushed, Latitudes, Dance With Me

Author: Renee Novelle

Publication Date: June 6, 2014

Genre: New Adult Romance

Latitudes: Skylar had spent her entire summer after college graduation in Key West for an internship at the Aquarium. And the experience had changed her in more ways than she’d realized. Gone was the sorority princess with materialistic ideals, and she was embracing the more authentic version of herself that was emerging in its place. Now, she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to return to the life she used to live, and to the fiancé who had already proven himself unfaithful to her.

Just a few days before she’s supposed to leave, Skylar meets Cooper – and the shy, rugged, gentle man is everything she never knew she needed. There’s no denying the connection between them, but is he enough of a reason for her stay? Can she be strong enough to give up the life she no longer wants to take a chance on the possibility of something better? Skylar discovers if she can give herself the latitude she needs to change her life, or if she’ll fall back into the rut of a predictable existence.


Dance with Me: By the time she’d graduated high school, Addison had found who she thought was the perfect boyfriend, and was excited about the prospects of a promising dance career for them both in New York City. The world was at her fingertips. But when Preston disappeared without explanation the night before they were supposed to move together, her illusion of the perfect life was shattered to pieces.

Putting the past behind her, she pursued her path alone and built the career she’d always dreamt of. But no one had been able to fill the gap that Preston had left behind. No one, that is, except Preston himself.

Addison finds herself wrestling with conflicting emotions when Preston joins the company she dances for now. And when she discovers that he’s been cast as her partner, she’s afraid that the resentment she’s held against him might be too much. Will she be able to forgive him in time to save her career? And can they reconcile enough for a second chance together?


Crushed: Brooklyn has decided to stick around campus to pursue her Master’s Degree while her boyfriend chases a job opportunity in Chicago. After discovering that long distance relations rarely work out, her best friend helps her to decide that she needs to put down the daily pints of therapeutic ice cream and join their local gym.

Though resistant to the idea at first, Brooklyn relents and finds that things quickly heat up with her new personal trainer Collin. Is it just a flirtatious crush, or is there something real there? And will the blind date her best friend has also committed her to have any weight in the decision on whether or not Brooklyn will pursue her chances with Collin?

Amazon: Crushed  |  Dance With Me  |  Latitudes

B&N: Crushed  |  Dance With Me  |  Latitudes

iTunes: Crushed  |  Dance With Me  |  Latitudes

Author Bio

Formerly a freelance journalist, Novelle has found placement of her pieces in both online and print publications since 2008. Additionally, she has written multiple screenplays, and contributed her writing to many non-profit and for profit organizations. She has launched several blogs over the years, which garnered international attention.

In 2013, Novelle returned to her first love – fiction. Writing under the names Renee Novelle and R.S. Novelle, she has a publication schedule that includes Psychological Thrillers, Suspense, Paranormal Fiction, Contemporary Women’s fiction, Chick Lit, and New Adult.

Though she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication, summa cum laude, she considers herself a constant student of the written word. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic quote poster, and rarely takes “no” as a final answer. She has an unhealthy obsession for theater, dance, music and art, and strongly believes that wine is simultaneously the beginning of, and resolution to, all of life’s problems. She believes in following dreams, and that in the end, you always end up where you’re meant to be.

Publication Date: June 6, 2014
Genre: New Adult Romances

Amazon: Crushed  |  Dance With Me  |  Latitudes

B&N: Crushed  |  Dance With Me  |  Latitudes

iTunes: Crushed  |  Dance With Me  |  Latitudes  

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Finishing the July 4th Baby Dress

I got red thread and started with the ribbon

I got red thread and started with the ribbon


So, I finished the dress I started for my baby’s first 4th of July! It was rough. I became really frustrated with the ribbon. First, I pinned it in place, then I stitched around it. Not only did my stitch not come out straight, I managed to somehow sew the bottom of the Onesie™  under the skirt in an odd way.. It wasn’t pretty. THEN, I realized that the ribbon was fraying. GAH!


I took a deep breath and got out my seam ripper. I played a game of Pandemic with Tiger Boy and Wining Husband while I removed the ribbon. Then I tried an experiment on the ribbon I removed, which was now too short to resew because the freying was so bad.


Alright, now the ribbon is in place!

Alright, now the ribbon is in place!


I recalled, from the depths of my memories, that my mother would use a lighter to prevent the ends of ribbon from fraying. I got the lighter out, created a flame, and heated the end of the ribbon – success! The deterioration stopped. I remeasured out the ribbon, burned the ends, and pinned it carefully to the dress, ensuring that the Onesie™ snap section underneath was free to hang. Then, I sewed along each edge of the ribbon. Success!


Finally! The belt is finished!

Finally! The belt is finished!


My next source of frustration was the flower, which initially I had planned to sew on. I decided that was a really bad idea really quickly. So, like the ribbon, I removed it. I decided instead to use my handy glue gun set to low heat. It took forever to heat up (can you tell I get impatient?), and then I used it to put the glue on the bottom of the flower, then positioned the flower on the ribbon. Now things were getting really close to done – yay!


I pinned the template into place.

I pinned the template into place.


Since I was back on a roll, I decided that I wouldn’t wait too long to paint the dress. I cut out the star pattern from the


I used a pencil eraser as a paint brush.

I used a pencil eraser as a paint brush.


Cutsey Crafts post on eraser-painting. Then, I realized, “I don’t have freezer paper.” Oh well, I just used straight pins instead. Once I had the pinned star in place, I went and dug out my paint. I followed Jessica’s directions, and soon, I had the star painted.


The dress is finished!

The dress is finished!


I wasn’t sure whether I liked the finished project. I looked at it. I squinted my eyes at it. Then, as the paint dried, I realized I did, in fact like it. I hung it up on a hanger so it would finish drying. If I had it to do over, I would have waited to hem the dress until after I’d sewn the ribbon on, since to me, it appeared to be a bit lopsided.


The last challenge was when I was trying to take a picture of Baby Girl modeling her 4th of July dress! She was so active and hyper! So, I took a bunch of pictures of her.


Here’s one:


Wearing the DIY 4th of July dress I made her

Wearing the DIY 4th of July dress I made her


Here she is when she decided she wanted to stand:


Standing up in her Independence Day dress

Standing up in her Independence Day dress


And again, looking surprised, when I forgot to turn the flash off:


2014-07-03 19.50.44And here she is, looking attacking the stars on her swing:


2014-07-03 19.57.50


And finally, there’s this one:

She is having so much fun in her new dress!

She is having so much fun in her new dress!

I think she likes it! I do too! She’s all ready to celebrate her first 4th of July.



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Easy and Fun 4th of July One-Piece Baby Romper Dress

Concept sketch for my project - as you can see, I am a sloppy artist.

Concept sketch for my project – as you can see, I am a sloppy artist.

I’ve been in a sewing mood as of late, and I have a TON of fabric and patterns sitting around. One fabric I’ve had since my early teen days is a blue cotton with white stars. For a while, I thought I would use it to make cradle sheets for baby girl, but I never got around to it. I’ve seen some neat one piece romper ideas lately, and I’ve seen some cool 4th of July t-shirt painting ideas – like this one I’ve Pinned from Cutsey Crafts and this dress from The Thrifty Craft Junky. So, I began sketching, and I came up with the idea to the right.

I ultimately decided that I wouldn’t do the white and blue ruffle at the bottom – that it would be too much, but here’s how I created something for my little lady to wear on the Forth of July.

White one piece and blue and white fabric - both are all ready to go!

White one piece and blue and white fabric – both are all ready to go!

I began with a Gerber Onesie™, and the blue fabric. I wanted the skirt of the dress to appear full, so I knew I would need to  cut the fabric a good bit larger than the one piece. So, I measured the width of the romper, and multiplied by two, measured, and cut two rectangles from the fabric. The reason I did that, and not cut one piece four times the width of the body, was so that the seams would match up with the bodice of the dress on the side.

Sew a straight line on each of the short ends to create a tube

Sew a straight line on  the short ends to create a tube

My next step in creating the baby 4th of July dress was to sew together my squares. I didn’t bother to pin the two pieces of fabric together, since the fabric itself wasn’t slippery, but if you’re new to sewing on a machine, that is something you may want to do. I then sewed a straight line down the two shorter sides of the fabric – right sides together (the sides that will face out on the finished dress).

Next, I pressed open the seams using a hot iron. I then folded the raw edges of the fabric in on themselves, and pressed them in before pinning so that I could stitch down the seam to prevent unraveling. You can also do a zig-zag stitch along the raw edges of the fabric. Unfortunately, the picture I took of this step came out a blurry mess. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that the edges of your fabric don’t come undone while the baby is wearing the dress.

The skirt is now attached to the top of the dress.

The skirt is now attached to the top of the dress.

I then basted the top edge of the dress, pulled the basting thread to the width of the skirt, and then evened the gathers out around the top of the skirt. Since I planned on covering the area where the skirt meets the bodice with a ribbon, I didn’t worry too much about getting this perfectly straight, but I aimed for close. I wanted a drop waist, inspired by dresses from the 20s. I lined up the skirt with where I wanted it to fall on the bodice, with the right sides still together, the top of the skirt facing the snaps and the bottom of the skirt facing the neck. I pinned the skirt in place and sewed a straight line all the way around.

Measuring the hem for Baby Girl's dress

Measuring the hem for Baby Girl’s dress

Once I had done this, I flipped the skirt down, so that it lay like it was supposed to, and ironed it in place as you can see on the right. Wining Husband has the ironing board set up in the bedroom, and there is no room for it in the sewing room/office, so I spent a good part of the evening going back and forth between rooms to iron and then sew. Once I had the dress flat and pressed, it was time for a fitting so that I could mark where the hem would go.

I slid the dress off Baby Girl while carefully pinching the hem in place (this took some talent). Then, I flipped the dress upside down, and I folded the hem up around the skirt, until it was even. I pressed the hem in using an iron. Then, I folded the raw edge and pressed and pinned that to create a straight, finished line. I sewed a straight line using the sewing machine to keep the edge from fraying. Then, I pinned the hem in place and used the blind hem stitch. Ashley has  a great tutorial for using a sewing machine to hem at Make It & Love It – and she explains it far better than I could here.

After I finished the hem, and I pinned the ribbon in place, I looked and looked – and realized that I did not have the red thread I thought I had! Thus, I will have to make a trip to the fabric store and pick up some thread to finish the dress!

Posted in Hobbies and Crafts | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Steak in a Martini Glass

Steak in a glass cocktail

Steak in a glass cocktail

Yes, you read that right. Yes it sounds like an odd concoction, and it actually came about as a mistake. You see, the cocktail we originally intended to make was Bon Appetit’s Sriracha-Lada recipe that was just printed in the recent issue.

Well, to start with, we didn’t have Mexican beer. We had Blue Moon’s variety pack – the Summer Honey Wheat on hand. We also didn’t have Sriracha sauce, since I’m actually allergic to it (it’s a shame, because until I figured that out, it was a favorite of mine), but we had Tabasco sauce. We didn’t have Worchester sauce either – but we did have Pickapeppa sauce, which is what I use in place of the classic steak sauce. Here’s how the recipe unfolded.

First, Wining Husband, resident bartender, used salt to rim two martini glasses. Now, the original recipe has the drink in a pilsner glass. About 1 oz or so of lime juice was used – the equivalent of the juice contained in a small lime, squeezed into a shot glass. As I was chopping red onion for use in our dinner, I turned and noticed that Wining Husband had the 1/2 tablespoon out, rather than the 1/2 teaspoon. I mentioned it, but it was too late. He’d already added 1/2 a tablespoon of Pickapeppa sauce to the martini glass. He then added 1/2 a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce. He combined these three ingredients in the martini glass, and then added the chilled beer.

Now, there had been no ice used in the recipe, as there wasn’t room for it in the cocktail glass. He sat the cocktail down in front of me, sans lime wheel, and I looked at it, and finished chopping my onions. Then, finally, I tasted it. It was spicy, and a bit salty from the rim of the glass. I took a second sip.

“This tastes like steak in a cup. It tastes like a big, beefy, juicy, spicy and well-marinated steak,” I finally said. Wining Husband had a taste, and decided he would make himself the same, mistake beer cocktail.

Sometimes, when you make a mistake in the kitchen, it turns out to taste pretty good.



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Book Review: Black Orchid by Abigail Owen (Book IV of the Svatura Series) and Giveaway

Blach Orchid Review Blog Tour Stop

Blach Orchid Review Blog Tour Stop

It’s my pleasure to review book IV of the Svatura Series, Black Orchid, by Abigail Owen here on Wining Wife as part of the Black Orchid Blog Tour. For those who haven’t read the series, here’s a quick recap of the first three books (don’t worry, I won’t give away any spoilers!).

Blue Violet by Abigail Owen

Blue Violet by Abigail Owen

These books are in the young adult paranormal romance genre – a popular genre for teenage girls and women alike. They follow the exploits of Ellie Aubrey and others. The series begins with the book Blue Violet, which follows Aubrey, a gypsy princess, and her twin brother Griffin as they deal with the aftermath of hiding for many years. She comes out of hiding to watch over another family who has similar powers to her own, and in so doing, meets Alex Jenner. Now Ellie and Griffin are not normal teenagers, they instead are part of a group of supernatural beings called the Svatura who were largely murdered by the Vyusher – so you can imagine things became quite complicated, especially as Aubury began taking more risks for the boy we all know she falls in love with.

Hyacinth, Abigail Owen

Hyacinth, Abigail Owen

In the second book, Hyacinth, we follow Selene, one of the Vyusher. She harbors a secret love for Griffin Aubrey. This, naturally complicates things as he is one of her family’s enemies. After things get complicated when Selene seeks out help from Ellie and Griffin, will things work out between her and her love?

The third book in the series, Crimson Dahlia has things get more complicated (doesn’t everything always escalate in the third book?) Lila Jenner leaves her family and everything she knows in order to start over – Ramsey Pierce lets her go. However, when an old enemy goes missing, Ramsey works hard to try to protect her and win her back. Will he?

Black Orchid, Abigail Owen

Black Orchid, Abigail Owen

That brings us to the most recent release (May 2014)  Black Orchid. Here is the synopsis provided by the publisher:


Adelaide Jenner feels nothing… she is completely numb inside. Her te’sorthene, her fated love, abandoned her and joined their enemy. On that day her sister turned off all Adelaide’s emotions in order to save her from a heartbreak that could push her over the edge of sanity. But great power wielded without compassion or love can only lead to pain.


Nate Pierce believes Adelaide used her extraordinary powers to deceive him all these years. So he destroyed a relationship he thought to be false and hungers for revenge. Now, Nate serves Maddox. He is unaware that his new leader is using him as a pawn in a bid to enslave all Svatura.


The only hope of finally defeating Maddox is for Adelaide and her sisters to combine their growing powers against him. But the the key to a Svatura’s power is the heart, and Adelaide’s is still missing.”

Now, while paranormal teen romance isn’t exactly my glass of Merlot, the book is a fun read. It transports you to a world where extraordinary powers allow the people in the world to have an amazing balance between ordinary everydayness and the magic that makes everything far more complex. It wraps the whole series up well, and gives the reader a satisfying feeling – unlike with some series where the ending makes you feel heartbroken. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy books like those in the Twilight series.

Buy Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Goodreads

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for, my first giveaway. Enter for your chance to win a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Giftcard or a $40 Book Depository shopping spree plus the first three books in the series given away as digital copies. Just click on the link below to find instructions on entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio

Abigail Owen, author of the Svatura series

Abigail Owen, author of the Svatura series

Award-winning author, Abigail Owen was born in Greeley, Colorado and raised in Austin, Texas. She now resides in Northern California with her husband and two adorable children who are the center of her universe.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. A fourth generation graduate of Texas A&M University, she attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by obtaining a degree in English Rhetoric/Technical Writing. However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest

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Wardrobe Planning When Your Body Has Changed

This sad little closet needs more clothes!

This sad little closet needs more clothes!

I just cleaned out my closet. I took everything that doesn’t currently fit me, and I put it in a giant tub. I know that goes against the rules of decluttering, but at the same time, my closet was already pretty minimal, and once I lose weight, I hope to fit back in some of those clothes again. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, and the clothes are already culled for donation (except for a few items that were my grandmother’s, which I’ll keep).

This is just the surface of the tub I'm putting the clothes that are too small in.

This is just the surface of the tub I’m putting the clothes that are too small in.

The problem is, I have two pairs of jeans, one pair of black slacks, and two skirts that fit me, and a handful of shirts. My body definitely changed after having Baby Girl. The weight isn’t coming off as easily as I hoped – and while we’re looking into medical causes for that – I need, in a big way, to update my wardrobe. After all when you’re a size 18/20/22 depending on who makes it, a whole bunch of size 6/8/10/12 clothes won’t do you a whole lot of good!

I'm not sure I have enough sewing patterns. I think I need more.

I’m not sure I have enough sewing patterns. I think I need more.

I don’t want to spend a ton of money, and I want things to fit really well. It’s hard to find ready-made clothes that fit well post baby. It was hard after one, and it’s even harder after two.  That’s why I decided to make a commitment to sewing a large part of my wardrobe. I have a ton of sewing patterns and fabrics. Some things I’ll find second hand, and I’ll either upcycle them or wear them as is. I may purchase a few things that are ready-to-wear new, but I want to sew the bulk of my wardrobe. Luckily enough, it looks like Joann’s Fabrics is having some pattern sales in the coming weeks, so I can round out the patterns I have.

This is maybe a sixth of my fabric stash. It will be a neat challenge to use it in clothing construction. Of course, I'll sew up some things for baby girl too!

This is maybe a sixth of my fabric stash. It will be a neat challenge to use it in clothing construction. Of course, I’ll sew up some things for baby girl too!

Because my section of the closet is so sad and empty, I turned two my two favorite style books: The Lucky Shopping Manual and The Pocket Stylist. (These are affiliate links.) I’m making a list of the clothing that would make a good wardrobe, and then I’ll be matching silhouettes to patterns and fabrics. It’s going to be a LOT of fun!

I hope you’ll follow along as I revamp my closet. But I have to ask, what kind of wine goes with sewing? Post your thoughts in the comments.

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Become a Wine Expert in 5 Easy Steps

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...

What are your favorite tips for becoming a wine expert? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Learning about wine is an intellectual pursuit of its own right. It’s fascinating just how many flavors you can get in wine and how complex a simple glass of alcohol can be. Many people feel intimidated by wine tasting, and they avoid trying different types of wine for fear of “not doing it right.” At Snooth, they published a list of 5 Tips for Becoming a Wine Expert. Namely, they recommend budding oenophiles to avoid snobbery, drinking wine in “squares,” learning about the varietals and producers, tasting blind, and being honest about opinions.


That’s all great advice. After all, by tasting all kinds of wine, you can find out what you like and don’t like – and you’ll find out that you like (or don’t like) wines that surprise you. I’d offer the advice that you need to come to your wine tasting with an open mind. Just because you didn’t like one varietal produced by a winery doesn’t mean you won’t like another. For instance, we really enjoyed Bargetto Winery‘s Chaucer’s Mead. We did not, however, enjoy other wines we tasted from them. They were fine, they just didn’t have the same effect on us as other wineries. Also, the quality of wine can change from year to year depending upon the weather and the grapes. Just because you haven’t liked one winery in the past, doesn’t mean you should avoid everything from them forever – you may be surprised. Not only that, but over time, your palate will change.


That being said, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to bring myself to drink mass-produced wines like Gallo, Wild Vines, and Franzia for the same reason I don’t touch Budweiser, Millers, or Coors.


What is the best piece of tasting advice you’ve received? Are there wines you won’t try?


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