Apr 28, 2017

Going old skool...

Maybe it's an overdose of technology and gadgets (and sometimes too many things going wrong all at the same time) but recently I've had a hankering to going back to the real thing rather than having everything digital.

When my husband asked for a new record player (or whatever they're called these days) for Christmas I was thrilled because it meant we could drag out all our old vinyl and play them. Funny...these songs are all available on Spotify or Pandora but holding the actual record had tons of memories flowing back much more than the digital version ever did. And we'd forgotten about the pesky details of having to get up from the chair and turn the record over when it's finished. But there's no better sound than the needle in the groove. Our boys were entranced by the whole thing and declared the sound was much better 'old school'.

You can't beat a bit of David Bowie

I've also gone back to a journal for planning and brainstorming rather than just an online calendar and an open word document. As a family we share an ical file so I still need to know who's doing what and where, but now I print off a calendar every week, stick it in my journal and go from there. My to-do list is handwritten- that seems to fix things in my brain more than my excel lists.

We've started playing board games again too. Even the kids enjoy a game of Cluedo or Pandemic and we've introduced many a friend to Exploding Kittens after dinner rather than slumping in front of the TV (which I still do far too often).

Then there's the ebook-paperbook conundrum....

And what to do with the hundreds of redundant CDs and DVDs and VHS videos...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Luddite--I embrace technology that makes my life easier...but sometimes I like to have a real product in my hands rather than the idea of one on a device. 
What about you? Are you 'old school'? Have you bought into the new vinyl fashion? Any good new records to recommend?

Apr 26, 2017

Say “Hi” to Howie – Kandy Shepherd

 I missed my post last month because we had a death in the family. Not, thank heaven, a human loss. But my daughter’s beloved pony Banjo died in a freak accident in one of the wild storms that were then lashing my part of Down Under. He was a member of our family, a pony with personality plus, and we all adored him. No one more so than my daughter. He was her special horse and a best friend from when she was twelve years old. They were a wonderful team with a cupboard full of pony club trophies and medals to attest to their bond. To say she is devastated is an understatement.

RIP precious Banjo

 But you know what they say about silver linings…

My daughter is nearing the end of her extended university studies and wanting to spend more time riding. She needed another horse for her friends and her to ride –and as a companion to Banjo. She decided to adopt a rescue horse from a wonderful charity, Save A Horse Australia in Queensland. Back in March, my daughter and my husband flew up from New South Wales where we live to meet Howard. (Yes, Howard the Horse!) Not only did she have to see if the horse suited her, SAHA had to see if she suited the horse in terms of both riding ability and commitment to giving him a good, safe home. Turned out they were a match.

Howard the horse settling in to his new home

Howie arrived the morning Banjo died and was greeted by a weeping new owner. Although it seemed tragic at the time, his arrival turned out to be a blessing. Our other horse Flynn hates to be on his own, so he got a new friend. They bonded immediately. It also gave us something positive to focus on in our grief over our precious Banjo—though it will take time for us to get over his loss.

With his new pal Flynn

Howie was rescued in an appalling, emaciated condition by SAHA. He’s a fifteen-year old thoroughbred who, perhaps, outlived his usefulness as a race horse and was discarded. The charity got him back to good health and let him know he was valued and cherished. Then they sent him to be trained to ride not race. “Track to hack”, I think they call it. My daughter will need to get him further training, a challenge she is looking forward to. She has signed a comprehensive adoption agreement to make sure Howie never ends up in a pitiful state again.

Getting to know each other

 Howie is the most beautiful horse both in looks and in nature. He has an elegant gait and is a pleasure to watch when he’s in motion. SAHA got him to us in immaculate condition, as you can see from the photos. What a handsome boy!

Start of a new friendship

 I’m not the “horsey” person in the family, I love horses but don’t ride and am a tad scared of such big animals. But I’ve fallen for Howie. He’s intelligent and I think he knows he’s come to a place where he’ll be loved. He’s very gentle with me, even when he’s anxious to get stuck into his feed. (Because of course, like parents everywhere whose kids acquire pets, some of the daily care like mixing up his feeds falls on me and my husband while my daughter is at uni!) 

Howard has come home.

Where's my food!

All of our pets are rescues in one way or the other. “Rescue is My Favourite Breed” is a favourite saying of mine. Other LoveCats are fans of rescue animals too. We all admire Rachel Bailey for her care of greyhounds “retired” from the track. What about you? Have you ever adopted a rescue animal of any kind? Or has one found its way to you? (Two of my cats found me!) Do you have a favourite animal rescue charity? I’d love to see your comments!

Apr 24, 2017

Hours of Fun by Amy Andrews

My name is Amy Andrews and I am a Snapchat addict. Dont worry, I'm in therapy and taking medication for it. 

I'm not a very high tech person. Anything that requires an app makes me nervous and usually also annoyed. And I stay way the hell away from any kind of "game" because I know my addictive personality and its tendencies too well!

But every now and then tech comes along that's just plain old fun and I can get behind that. All you need is a phone with a camera and the app. All the kids use Snapchat to have secret conversations that disappear after ten seconds like something from a bad 50's TV spy show but me? I like it for the filters!

SO. MUCH. FUN. And so easy to use and muck around with!

They can make you look mysterious, funky and even ballerina-esque.

They can make you look as if Christian Grey has just shown you into his red room. And oh how much I wish I actually owned this shade of lipstick!

 They're super-duper fun with two!

 And oh dear oh dear, if you have a baby present? You can waste HOURS!!! of your life!

They also have these really cool filters that can celebrate things or even show off where you are.

See? HOURS and hours and hours of fun!

So...now I've shared my app addiction, what's yours? Are you a closet candy crusher or flappy bird addict?

Apr 23, 2017

Sunday smooch with Scarlet Wilson

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we’re excited to have a smooch from very talented RONA WINNER Scarlet Wilson, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is –LYN W!

Lyn, can you please email ash (dot) madeline(at) gmail.com to receive your copy of Breaking Good

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Scarlet Wilson’s RONA winning book, Christmas In The Boss's Castle. Scarlet was a double RITA nominee last year too, so we're very proud of her and grateful for her to come visit us here at Lovecats.


Christmas In The Boss's Castle

 The Maid Who Saved Christmas...

Set up: Grace Ellis loves Christmas, even though she's just lost her gran and will be spending her first Christmas alone.  She works as a chambermaid at an exclusive London hotel and has already had an altercation with the boss Finlay Armstrong when she decorated his suite with Christmas decorations to get him in the holiday spirit. 

But Finlay doesn't want to get in the holiday spirit, he lost his wife at Christmas five years ago, and Christmas is his most hated time of year.  So, when he realises he's treated Grace a bit harshly he tries to apologise and Grace ends up chipping away at his ice-covered armour.  When they both attend the hotel staff Christmas party things truly heat up.  Finlay ends up taking her hand and leading her outside......


“I needed to get out of there.”
He kept his finger touching her cheek.  It was the slightest touch of her skin.  The tiniest piece beneath his fingertip.  But it was enough.  Enough to set every alarm bell screaming in his brain.  Enough to let his senses just explode with overload.
He was past the point of no return.
Grace reached up and captured her hand around his finger, leaving it touching her cheek.  “Why, Finlay?  Why did you need to get out of there?”
He could hear the concern in her voice.  She didn’t have a clue.  She thought this might be about something else.  She didn’t realise that every tiny part of this was about her.
Guilt was racing through his veins in parallel to the adrenaline.  Feeling.  He was feeling again.  And the truth was that scared him.
Guys would never admit that.  Not to their friends.  Not even to themselves.  But most guys hadn’t loved someone with every part of their heart, soul and being and had it ripped out of them and every feeling and emotion buried in a brittle, cold grave.
Most guys wouldn’t know that they didn’t think it could be possible to ever get through that once.  Why would they even contemplate making any kind of connection with another person when there was even the smallest possibility they could end up going down the same path?
Once had felt barely survivable.  He couldn’t connect with someone like that again.  How could he risk himself like that again?
Where was his self-preservation?  The barriers that he’d built so tightly around himself to seal his soul off from that kind of hurt again.
Somehow being around Grace had thrown his self-preservation out of the window.  All he could think about right now was how much he wanted to touch and taste the beautiful woman in front of him.
She was still watching him with those questioning brown eyes.  She was bathed in the muted lamplight – her silver dress sparkling – like an old-fashioned film star caught in the spotlight.
He stopped thinking.  “Because I couldn’t wait to do this.”
He pulled her sharply towards him, folding his arm around her waist and pulling her tightly against the length of his body.  He stopped for a second, watching her wide eyes, giving her the briefest of pauses to voice any objections.  But there were none.
He captured her mouth in his.  She tasted of cocktails and chocolate.  Sweet.  Just the way he’d imagined she would.  One hand threaded through her tumbling curls and the other rested on the satin covered curve of her backside.  He’d captured his prize.  He wasn’t about to let her go.  
After two seconds of tenseness the tension left her body, melding it against his.  Her hands wound their way around his neck again, her lips responding to every part of the kiss, matching him in every way. 
This is what a connection felt like.  He hadn’t kissed a woman like this since Anna died.  This is what it felt like to kiss a woman you liked and respected.  It had been so long he hadn’t even contemplated how many emotions that might toss into the cold night air.
Her hand brushed the side of his cheek, running along his jaw line.  He could hear the tiny scrape of his emerging stubble against her fingernails.  The other hand ran through his hair and then down to his chest again.  He liked the feel of her palm there.  If only it wasn’t thwarted by the suit jacket and shirt.
Their kiss deepened.  His body responded.  He knew.  He knew where this could potentially go.
Grace pulled her lips from his.  It was reluctant move, followed by a long sigh.  Her forehead rested against his as if she were trying to catch her breath. He could feel the rapid breathing of her breasts pressed against his chest. 
His hand remained tangled in her soft hair and for a few moments they just stood like that, heads pressed together under the street light.
He eventually straightened up.  Should he apologise?  It didn’t feel as if the kiss was unwanted.  But they were right in the middle of the street – hardly the most discreet place in the world for a first kiss.  He could ask her up to the penthouse but somehow that didn’t feel right either – and he was quite sure Grace wouldn’t agree to come anyway.
“Thank you for coming tonight,” he said quietly.
Her voice was a little shaky.  “You’re welcome.”
He took a step back.  “How about I get one of the chauffeurs to drop you at home?”
He had no idea what time it was – but whatever time it was, he didn't want her travelling home alone.  He trusted all the chauffeurs from The Armstrong.  Grace would be in safe hands.
She gave a little nod.  “That would be nice, thank you.”  This time her voice sounded a little odd.  A little detached.  Had she rethought their kiss and changed her mind?
He put his arm behind her and led her back to the main entrance of the hotel, nodding to one of the doormen.  “Callum, can you get one of the chauffeurs to take Grace home?”
She shivered and pulled the stole a little closer around her shoulders.  “Do you want me to get you another coat?”
She shook her head, not quite meeting his gaze.  “I’ll be fine when I get in the car.  That’ll be warm enough.”
For a couple of minutes they stood in awkward silence.  Finlay wasn’t quite sure what to do next.  He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do next.  And he couldn’t read Grace at all. 
The black sleek car pulled up in front of them and the driver jumped out to open the door.  Grace turned to face him with her head held high.  “Thank you for a lovely evening, Finlay,” she said as she climbed into the car.
“You too,” he replied automatically as she closed the door and watched the car speed off into the distance.
One thing was for sure.  Finlay Armstrong wouldn’t sleep a wink tonight.

Scarlet is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter!  So her question to you is:

Christmas In The Boss’s Castle is obviously a seasonally themed story- although many readers love to celebrate the magic of Christmas any time of the year especially through the pages of a fabulous book. What’s your favourite time of year, and why?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced – Kandy Shepherd will be here with a smooch from Conveniently Wed To The Greek!