Fun & Easy Easter Brunch Menu

For a fun & easy Easter Sunday brunch menu, try a few recipes from my upcoming The Beach House Cookbook. I demo’d a few of these recipes on Fox5 Atlanta’s Good Day Atlanta morning TV program on Thursday, April 13, 2017. You can access all of these recipes in my new cookbook, which will be in stores on May 2nd. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for the Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding. Paired with Prosecco Sippers, Fruit Salad, and Pig Candy, it’s the perfect no-fuss, crowd-pleasing brunch menu. All can be made ahead and are easy to transport if you’re joining family & friends. Just put the casserole into the oven before church or the Easter egg hunt.

Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding

Two of Tom’s favorite grocery-store breakfast treats are cinnamon rolls—those big, gooey ones you buy on a foil tray in the bakery department—and apple fritters. So this is what you would get if an apple fritter were to marry a stale cinnamon roll. Not that a cinnamon roll was ever allowed to go stale in our house. But if that were to happen, you would have a heavenly culi­nary marriage—not to mention a very grateful audience around the breakfast table.

For the pudding:

1⁄2 cup raisins
1⁄4 cup rum or brandy
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2⁄3 cup milk
5 large egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
8 large cinnamon rolls, left uncovered overnight
2 cups peeled, chopped tart apples (such as Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith)
1⁄2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. (1⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1⁄2 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar

For the icing:
1⁄2 cup powdered sugar 4 tsp. milk
1⁄2 tsp. white rum

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 7-by-11-inch casserole dish. Combine the raisins and rum and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 teaspoon of the rum.
2. Beat the half-and-half, brown sugar, milk, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.

3. Cut the cinnamon rolls into 1-inch chunks and add to the egg mixture, tossing well to coat. Stir in the apples, raisins, pecans, and reserved rum. Let stand for 30 minutes or until the bread has absorbed most of the liquid.

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish, dot with the butter, and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the bread pudding is set and the top is browned. Carefully remove the bread pud­ ding from the water bath.

5. To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar, milk, and rum in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle the pudding with the icing and serve warm.

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Mrs. Hogan’s Carrot Cake

My mother must have baked hundreds of these super-moist three-layer cakes with maple cream cheese frosting in her lifetime. It was a family favorite as well as the star of the dessert rotation at the restaurant she ran in downtown St. Petersburg, FL. She probably burned through a half-dozen food processors grating all those carrots.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD.

Get this and 90+ more recipes in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK, in stores May 2!

After mom passed away, my sister Susie inherited the carrot cake tradition. One Christmas, Susie and I baked the cake layers and left them cooling on the kitchen counter. When we turned around, we discovered that Wyatt, our English Setter, had devoured most of one of the layers. We mixed up anohter batch of batter, put it in the oven, and then realized we’d used up all the eggs we needed for another recipe. We set the timer and put my dad and Tom, who were watching football, in charge of removing the cakes. When we returned from the store, we were greeted with the distinctive aroma of burnt cake. Sure enough, their team had scored a couple touchdowns—but our cakes were ruined. Again. That was the year we discovered that two-layer carrot cake was better than none. If you attempt this creation for Easter, I hope your preparation is not as drama-fueled as ours was that fateful Chistmas!

Happy Easter. Happy Spring. And happy baking!

Hugs,
MKA

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Scalloped Potatoes for St. Paddy’s Day!

Who needs boring old boiled potatoes when you can drench your spuds in butter, coat them with cheese, and bake them to crispy, melty deliciousness? This dish–featured in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (in stores May 2nd; pre-order now!)–is such a crowd-pleaser that the last time I served it at a dinner party, my guests were sneaking back into the kitchen for second and third helpings.

DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD HERE.

 

The richness of this recipe calls for really good cheese. I like the nuttiness of Gruyere, plus the saltiness of freshly grated Parmesan. None of that pre-grated stuff from the green can, please!

Enjoy! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day one and all!

Hugs,
MKA

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis

My recipe for Chocolate Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis is such a simple sweet treat to add to your Valentine’s Day supper. In fact, it’s featured on the “Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Dinner” menu in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2nd!).

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While it may sound like a very fancy-Nancy recipe, it’s really quite simple—sort of an Italian chocolate pudding make without the egg yolks, topped with a fast and delicious fresh strawberry sauce. Feel free to use any other berry that floats your gondola, though. I find those cute little glass custard cups at nearly every estate sale I go to, so I usually make my panna cotta in those,but it would also be pretty served in a wine glass or champagne coupes. Okay, let’s be honest, it would taste just as good if you just left it in the bowl you prepared it in and passed around long-handled spoons. But that doesn’t sound very romantic, now does it? Here’s the recipe card. Enjoy!

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Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip–A Super Bowl Treat!

The crowd-pleasing recipe for “Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip” that’s in my new book, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2, 2017 from St. Martin’s Press), is the absolute perfect dish for your Super Bowl party next weekend. (Go, Falcons!)

This dip is named for my sister-in-law Jeanne, who is the appetizer queen.

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Jeanne never arrives at any family function without a cooler full of appetizers. One constant is this addictive cream cheese and chicken-based dip. And it is always the superstar at any get-together. In fact, it’s so beloved that she now brings a tub for each of her nephews to call his own. Covered and refrigerated, it stores well for up to a week. Be sure to choose sturdy tortilla chips to scoop up all the goodness!

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Chicken Enchilada Dip…and Me on TV!

In celebration of the Atlanta Falcons playing the Seahawks tomorrow (Sat 1/14) in the NFL playoffs, I’m making a television appearance today on the local Atlanta CBS46 show Atlanta Plugged In to showcase the perfect dip for your football parties. I spent some time running around yesterday to prep for this cooking segment and was up early today getting fluffed.

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In the segment, I’ll be sharing a recipe for Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip from my new book, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2, 2017 from St. Martin’s Press). This recipe is such a crowd-pleaser and perfect for your tailgate (for those lucky enough to be going to the Georgia Dome!), your home football watching parties…or really any gathering of hungry party people.

My sister-in-law Jeanne never arrives at any family function without a cooler full of appetizers, and this addictive cream cheese and chicken-based dip is always the superstar at any get-together. Covered and refrigerated, it stores well for up to a week. Be sure to choose sturdy tortilla chips to scoop up all the goodness!

Here’s a peek at the recipe. If you’re local to Atlanta tune in to CBS43 at 12:30PM to catch me on your TV! Oh, and go, Falcons!

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Andy’s Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Streusel

Tonight (Tues 11/22/16) at 8:00pm Eastern, join me on my Facebook page for a Facebook Live video demo on how to make this delish pumpkin pie which will be featured in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2, 2017). Want to mix it up a little bit this Thanksgiving and have your pumpkin pie with a lil’ somethin’ extra?! Well, this preparation–my son Andy’s favorite–with gingersnap streusel topping is easy as, well, as pie! Here’s the recipe, which makes 2 pies. Enjoy…and Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo MKA

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INGREDIENTS:

2 pie crusts, home-made, or store-bought
1 15oz can (about 2 cups; 450g) pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling
1 and 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

 

 

FOR THE GINGERSNAP CRUMBLE TOPPING:
1 cup all purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar (packed)
16 gingersnap cookies (or 4 oz), crushed
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup butter (melted)

For the pumpkin pie filling: Beat the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the evaporated milk, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and mix until everything is combined.

Preheat oven to 425°F (190°C)

Pour pumpkin pie filling into the crust. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 15 minutes, then top with the gingersnap crumble mixture and decrease oven temperature to 350. Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.

Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours.

Cooking Up A New Book

The Beach House by Mary Kay Andrews

I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to entertain. And I’ve been known to scribble a line or two. Or two million. That’s why it seemed like a no-brainer that I should write a cookbook. So I did!

Drumroll:

On May 2, 2017, St. Martins’ Press will publish THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK By MARY KAY ANDREWS!

Here’s the concept:
You do not have to own a beach house to cook like you’re at the beach. You don’t actually even have to be at the beach. The recipe for beach house cooking, to me, is nothing more than easy, accessible, fresh, tasty dishes. Long on taste and enjoyment, short on stress or mess.

Seaside suppers have been a tradition for as long as I can remember. As a child growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida in the 1960s, my family of seven “summered” at a mom and pop cottage court called Ocee Villas right on the Gulf of Mexico. Our “villa” was a two bedroom, one-bath concrete block box with a kitchen equipped with little more than a stove, a sink and an apartment-sized fridge. There was no money to dine out, so my mother managed to work miracles in that tiny kitchen. Every night, the seven of us, sun burnt and ravenous from a day spent on the beach, would crowd around a rickety formica-topped table and feast on her home-cooked dinners; pot roasts and spaghetti, fried chicken, steaks grilled by my dad, and always, desserts. On weekends our numbers would swell as friends and relatives dropped in at dinner time. Those were some of the best summers of our lives.

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After I married and we had children, Mr. MKA and I would rent modest coastal cottages in Florida and Georgia. Eventually, we came to buy and restore two beach cottages of our own, on Tybee Island, just outside Savannah. The first thing we did at The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide was demolish and install new kitchens.

griffnmollybakingAnd then we started to cook. Because we actually like to cook. Especially at the beach. Mr. MKA and our son Andy (aka Boomerang Boy) are dedicated fishermen who love to clean and cook their catch. We specialize in impromptu dinners, calling our Tybee neighbors at the drop of a hat (or a bushel of fresh-caught blue crabs) to join us around our big farmhouse table.

On a night when Tom and Andy return home with redfish or flounder, we’ll batter and fry those fillets and turn them into fish tacos with the addition of sweet and sour cole slaw. Or on a morning with a crowd of Andy’s friends gathered, I’ll task the guys with peeling and deveining shrimp for a shrimp and grits breakfast. Served with a side of fresh fruit salad, or maybe cinnamon roll bread pudding.

For those special winter weekends when the whole family is on hand, I prepare a hearty black bean soup or homemade mac n’ cheese, alongside a romaine, grapefruit and strawberry salad, topped off with apple crisp. And always, when grandchildren Molly and Griffin are in residence, there is baking; oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for ice cream sandwiches, carrot cake at Easter, and a family favorite, congo bars.

quickpicklesThe Beach House Cookbook is filled with recipes for those kinds of dishes, and for those special occasions that have become our family traditions at the beach, and even staples after we return to our full-time home in Atlanta. Although many recipes were longtime family favorites, writing the book gave me the incentive to stretch my culinary wings and come up with lots of delicious new concepts. (Talking ’bout you, Frozen Key Lime Bars. And you, Mr. Beachy Ceviche. And my grandma’s Quick Pickles, aka Quickles) Not to mention the fact that after several decades of trying, I finally mastered the art of making biscuits from scratch. Let’s not talk about how many batches of biscuits I forced family and friends (and dogs) to taste test.

keylimepie_cropmarksI would say that the majority of these recipes are as easy as pie. But pie, at least making a decent pie crust, is hard. Which is why, for the time being, I still cheat and use store-bought crust.

In fact, lots of the recipes in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK take advantage of kitchen hacks; like using pre-trimmed steamer bags of vegetables and jazzed-up pantry staples. Because to me, the whole point of being at the beach is to spend as much time as possible with loved ones, while still preparing meals everybody will rave over.

Working on the cookbook with a talented team consisting of photo stylist Elizabeth Demos, photographer Mary Britton Senseney and food stylist/recipe writer Ashley Strickland was a joy.

failed-piesThey took my recipes, tweaked them, propped them, shot them and made them look so gorgeous you’ll want to lick the page when you see the finished product. (Not that I’ve ever done anything like that).

They even photographed me–primped and polished, wearing THREE layers of Spanx in August, in Savannah, for the cover of the cookbook. See how I give and give, people?

In the end, I hope you’ll agree that all the hard work, Spanx (and the 15 extra pounds I gained) were worth the effort. And if not, well, at least I learned to bake biscuits.

I can’t wait to finally share THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK with you in the spring. In the meantime, you can pre-order your copies now via all major online retailers. The buy links are next to the book shot on the home page of my website. Order your copies now and you’ll have them in plenty of time for Mother’s Day 2017.

 

 

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Q&A WITH MKA: Book Tours Explained

As I start the third week of book signings for my new book, THE WEEKENDERS, I’m struck by how interested readers are in the mechanics of a book tour. For me, hitting the road to do signings and meet booksellers and fans is one of my favorite parts of being an author—it’s the dessert after a particularly challenging entrée; i.e. writing the damn book. So I thought I’d sit down and explain my answers to the most frequently asked questions.

  1. Who arranges a book tour? Your agent? Editor? Minions?
    This can vary within publishing houses, but generally speaking, the publicity department, along with input from the marketing department, and the author, and sometimes her editor and agent, come up with bookstores and towns for the tour. Many times, bookstores, through publisher’s sales representatives, will request an author event. Sometimes local libraries, schools, universities, or community organizations will reach out to publishers to request a visit from an author. In my own case, several months before my new book’s publication, I meet with the publicity and marketing team at St. Martin’s Press, and we start planning where my tour will take me. Because I’ve been around the block a few times (THE WEEKENDERS is my 24th novel!), my publicist usually has a list of requests from bookstores. We also take into account the setting of my novel when planning a tour. Since THE WEEKENDERS is set off the coast of North Carolina, in addition to my usual haunts, this year’s tour is taking me to Raleigh, the Outer Banks, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Asheville, and Highlands, NC. Last year’s book, BEACH TOWN was set in a small Florida fishing village, so I did signings in Tampa, St. Pete (my hometown), Jacksonville, and Vero Beach.

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    I got a warm welcome at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, DE.
  2. Who pays?
    Not me! My publisher pays all my expenses and makes all the travel arrangements.

    Here I am in Duck, NC visiting with longtime Nags Head resident Nancy Rascoe, who was so helpful when I was researching my book, SUMMER RENTAL.
    Here I am in Duck, NC visiting with longtime Nags Head resident Nancy Rascoe at Duck’s Cottage, who was so helpful when I was researching my book, SUMMER RENTAL.
  3. How long does a book tour last?
    It varies with each book, but this year, I’ll be on and off the road for roughly six weeks over the course of the summer, with an itinerary that takes up 26 typewritten pages. Generally speaking, I’ll travel for five or six days at a time, return home for a few days (to do my laundry and kiss my husband and remind him what I look like) before going back out on the road.

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    Here’s the great crowd at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL, one of my favorite bookstores and a frequent stop for me while touring.
  4. Does your husband go with you on tour?
    God, no! And I never accompany him on business trips. Although I personally find book tours enjoyable, this truly is a professional obligation. I’m rarely in a town for more than 24 hours, so there’s little time for socializing or sightseeing. (Although I sometimes sneak in a little retail therapy.) Besides, Mr. MKA prefers doing his own thing and pining after me while I’m away. (Or so he claims.)

    ReBankRetailTherapy
    I did have time for a little retail therapy in Red Bank, NJ where there is an awesome downtown. I was able to get a quick blowout and get my FitBit cranking making up some steps after a long drive before my event with River Road Books that evening.
  5. How do you travel? Do you have a chauffeured limo? Do you get to fly first class?
    Bwahahahahahaha. That’s me spewing cheap chardonnay out my nostrils. Tragically, there is no liveried driver. No bodyguard, no official valet or lady’s maid, or armed escort. And there is definitely no first class. Sob. It’s just lil’ ole me, flying coach if my destination is more than half a day’s drive, and then driving a rental car to my final destination.

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    Spotting my book in airport bookstores is one of may favorite book tour pastimes. Here’s THE WEEKENDERS at the Pittsburgh airport.
  6. Why don’t you ever do book signings in (a)Vermont (b)North Dakota (c)Utah?
    My publisher sends me places where there’s a proven readership for my novels, or where stores have clamored for me. I personally adore North Dakota and Utah, as well as many parts of Vermont, (although not necessarily in the winter) so if you are a reader who lives in those places, or any place where I haven’t been on a recent book tour, here’s how you can remedy that. (1) Buy my book from your local independent bookseller, and if they don’t carry it, annoy the hell out of them until they do. (2) Get your book club, friends, co-workers, and family members to do the same thing. But, remember, the above two plans only work if you make it a habit to buy print books, and locally, from that bookstore. Although my books are carried at big box chains and wholesale clubs nationwide, those stores rarely host book signings, and frankly, they really just want to sell you discount tires and five-pound jars of peanut butter. (3) If you’re a member of a large, non-profit organization, say the Junior League, or a hospital auxiliary, I frequently do ticketed luncheon and dinner speaking events, where my books are sold during the event. You can email my marketing genius, Meg Walker, at meg@tandemliterary.com to get the details about that. (4) If you don’t have a local bookstore, (or even if you do) ask your local library to order my books. Lobby for them to invite me to appear in your community to give a talk and book-signing. To do this, you’ll have to be able to prove to them that such an event would be wildly successful, i.e., attract more than just you and your bff.

    MysteryLovers
    Here’s the awesome crowd at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA.
  7. Here’s where I explain a little bit about how the retail book business works.
    Hosting a book signing event can be an expensive and time- and labor-intensive affair for bookstores. They have to convince a publisher’s sales rep that they can sell enough of my book to make the expense of sending me there worthwhile. They probably have to have a proven track record of hosting successful book events. They’ll have to order enough copies of my NEW book, plus copies of my most recent titles (this is called backlist) to make the trip worthwhile. In addition to ordering all those books, they have to pay the cost of shipping. And they have to be responsible for promoting the event through advertising and social media. They also have to staff the event with extra help, and if they hold the signing off-site, say at a local restaurant, they pay for that too. So it’s a risky business, to say the least.

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    The launch party in Atlanta hosted by FoxTale Book Shoppe is always my biggest event. Here’s the piles of books and swag bags ready and waiting for my beloved readers to arrive.
  8. Now here’s the part where I risk offending loyal readers.
    As an extreme extrovert, I love meeting and greeting my fans. It’s a huge ego boost when I walk into a bookstore and see a line of friendly faces. But here’s the thing, folks. Bookstores need to sell books and other stuff, like calendars, greeting cards, etc., in order to stay in business. If you want them to remain in your community (and you should, because bookstores are a vital part of our culture), you have to actually put your money where your mouth is. I realize you can buy my books cheaper at those online retailers, big box stores, and discount clubs. And if price is the most important thing to you, I understand. But it’s really NOT NICE to show up at a book signing at ANY store, toting a book you bought someplace else, expecting me to sign it. It’s kind of the equivalent of taking a McDonald’s bag into a fine restaurant and plopping down at a table and proceeding to eat your Quarter-Pounder with their silverware, china and linen. You wouldn’t do that, right? Of course not! If you are a fan of my books, you are, by my definition anyway, a NICE person.

    Rehoboth
    What’s better than enjoying an icy cocktail with readers in a beach town bookstore? No much. Thanks, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE!

Okay, class dismissed. Next time, we’ll talk about where I get my book ideas.

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Weekending wardrobe

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Getting ready to pack for my upcoming book tour for THE WEEKENDERS means lots of pre-planning. I’ll be on the road, with only a few days at home, for six weeks off and on. But it’s more fun this year, because I’ve recently lost over thirty pounds. Which means basically I’ve “been forced” to buy a whole new wardrobe–including smaller bras and Spanx. Hooray! When I’m home alone, slogging away on the next book, you’ll usually find me in my wardrobe of black yoga pants and tee shirt. But in public, especially when I’m on book tour, I try to look a little more presentable and put together–even if I’m only standing in the security line at the airport, or eating breakfast at my hotel.

That’s why I was so thrilled when my friend Rhoda at Southern Hospitality reached out to let me know about all the fun casual options available from Glamour Farms Boutique. Working with the fun crew over there, Rhoda asked them to send me some cute, packable outfits suitable for weekending and beyond. I was overwhelmed by all the choices–and the range of sizes available. Nothing is more frustrating than finding an outfit you love, online or in a shop, just to discover it’s only offered in sizes extra small to super skinny.

When that big shipping box from Glamour Farms arrived, it was like Christmas morning. Rhoda came over to my house this week and graciously helped me put together three different looks–although we could easily have chosen half a dozen or more outifts.

We had such a tough time deciding which looked best, we decided to poll her readers and mine. Please feast your eyes on all the options posted here, and vote for the one you thinks looks best on me. And as a reward for your assistance, we’ve got a fun giveaway–on Thurs. May 12 we’ll pick a commenter at random–and she’ll receive a $50 Glamour Farms gift certificate. But wait, there’s more! That same winner will also receive a gift bag of MKA’s favorite things, including a first edition copy of my new novel, THE WEEKENDERS, plus a bottle of OPI Strawberry Margarita nail polish, a Red Currant aromatherapy candle, a leather embossed WEEKENDERS luggage tag, and a DVD of BRIDESMAIDS, one of my fave chick flicks perfect for weekend viewing. But wait–we’re not done yet! My friend Lucy, at LucysInspired, who makes gorgeous hand-crafted jewelry from vintage prisms and architectural salvage, has offered to give away one of her beautiful necklaces, like the one I’m wearing with the Pretty Please tunic, to our lucky winner.

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I’m wearing the Keep the Faith tunic in coral.  How great does it look on Rhoda in blue?

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Pretty Please Tunic

The Pretty Please tunic has all my favorite colors. Cute, right?

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Lucy’s Inspired Necklace
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English Garden Top

The final look is the English Garden top in ivory and teal. What do you think?

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more awesome thing before you go…Don’t you just LOVE the Glamour Farms clothing? Guess what? They have been kind enough to offer $10 off your order by using the Promo Code  RHODA3. (Offer excludes sale items) So click here to go over to their website and buy yourself something special.