Wining Wife®

Because housework goes better with Malbec...

Month: July 2014

Giveaway and Book Excerpt: Strangers on a Bus

I will return to talking about wine very soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the recommendations for books that I have been sharing with you! The giveaway is for a $10 gift card and 3 books by Rob Manary. Enjoy!


How far can they get on a bus ride anyway?
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Memoir

If you liked When Harry Met Sally, you’ll fall in love with Robb and Gertrude from Strangers on a Bus…

Robb is crushed by a failed relationship with the love of his life and finds himself unexpectedly on a long bus trip from his adopted home in the U.S. back to his native Canada.

At the first stop in NYC, a girl gets on and so begins a contemplation of life, love, and strange events that will bring tears of laughter and heartache streaming down your face.

Is this girl Robb’s real true love or just a rebound? How far can they get on a bus ride anyway?

This is a true story.

Purchase the Book at Amazon (US) (UK) (CAN)


Robert Manary is an international playboy and man of mystery, with the charm and sophistication of James Bond shaken not stirred with a couple ounces of Cyrano de Bergerac, a dash of Rasputin, and garnished with the rapier wit of Thurston Howell the Third.

That’s how he sees himself, anyway.

The truth is Robert Manary is a construct created to protect the dubious reputation of his Clark Kent like mild mannered writer/puppeteer/the man pulling the levers and breathing life into the Great and Powerful Oz (don’t look too closely behind the curtain).

Manary is an award winning blogger, an erotic romance novel writer, the author of a pretty decent romantic comedy, and for a brief period in the early nineties served as dictator of a small South American country.

Most of that is true.

Manary is also an experimental artist who has no clue how to write an Author’s Bio, and definitely no idea how to end one.

P.S. He is also a shameless plunderer of pop culture.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Google Plus

Strangers on the Bus Excerpt

A Rose by Any Other Name

For the past half hour or so I’ve been casually working the name Gertrude three or four times into every sentence I possibly can. I want Gertrude to get used to her name. I’d be a little embarrassed calling out to Gertrude and having her ignore me. I’d hate to have to start hitting her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper every time she failed to answer to Gertrude. I’d do it, but I don’t want to.

Five minutes ago Gertrude stopped talking to me and now Gertrude is pretending to be fascinated by staring out the window.

Absolutely ridiculous. If UFO’s landed bearing Leprechaun pilots, that still wouldn’t be as interesting as talking to me.

But it’s a nice break, and allows me to catch up with you, dear readers. Gertrude’s arrival in my life has given me a lot to write about, but having so much fun with Gertrude has cut into writing about Gertrude.

Gertrude is a skilled liar, and within three minutes of meeting her she had already worked in a Star Wars reference. Add in what I’m sure is a surgically enhanced chest and I’m suitably impressed. Let’s move on…

The potential great before picture for Jenny Craig was waddling towards me with all the grace and poise of a chimpanzee in a donkey costume at a fancy black tie rabbit’s sweet sixteen party, and wheezing and panting to such an extent that if I recorded his mouth breathing symphony I could probably sell it for $2.99 a minute on an adult chat site.

With big cow eyes he looked at me. I nodded, and moving as slowly as a turtle quickie, I began stowing my carry on in the overhead compartment. I wanted the dyslexic anorexic to have every opportunity to find a more pleasant riding companion. He deserves better than having to endure dirty looks, eye rolling, and exasperated sighs from me for hours on end.

That’s when I heard the voice of redemption. My lying angel came to my rescue. Gertrude said, “Do you mind if I sit with my boyfriend?”

It took me a couple seconds to catch on, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved. I felt like a drowning man who got that last minute call from the Governor. Instead of spending hours being sweated gravy on, maybe I’d get the chance to maybe do the sweating myself.

I automatically reminded myself I have a girlfriend I am in love with, and then I remembered I didn’t have a girlfriend anymore, then my heart hurt a bit.

I believe a relationship is like a credit card that you don’t know the limit on. Before I got on the bus I cried and cried and cried for all my girlfriend and I had shared, for all the things we would never share because I’d never hear her laugh again, because I’d never see her smile again.

I cried and cried and cried.

Then I stopped crying.

I hit the limit, the next transaction was declined, and I couldn’t purchase even one more tear.

There’s a big hole where she was repossessed because I couldn’t make the minimum monthly payment anymore, and a big place in my heart where the good times we had before the card was cut up live, but emotionally that card just got maxed out.

But I’ll never forget the fun we had with that Amex Platinum, and I never thought at the time there was a limit. I’ll always love her.

I’m proud of that last bit! I’m going to call this the end of a chapter and Dr. Phil better not rip off my Relationship Credit Card philosophy.

Giveaway: $10 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree. Open Internationally. Ends 8/8.

Gaybash by David Jay Collins Review & $15 Giftcard Giveaway #GYBTour

GB Tour Button

Title: Gaybash
Author: David Jay Collins
Publication Date: May 28, 2014
Genre: LGBT Fiction

Gaybash 3DSynopsis
Matt Tompkins, a reserved gay man, has always played by the rules and has created a comfortable but unfulfilling life for himself. When his bold best friend Greg reaps unexpected rewards for standing up for himself in a very public display, Matt’s jealousy leads him to risk everything when he’s confronted by two attackers. Determined to be more like Greg, a split-second reaction brings astonishing changes to Matt’s life–for better and for worse.

Set in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Gaybash explores the boundaries of love and friendship and the unintended consequences of wanting to be somebody else.


When you read something that is painfully honest, it’s always a beautiful thing. Were I not part of this blog tour, I probably wouldn’t have happened upon this work, but I’m glad I did. The pain and awkwardness lends truth to the writing you don’t want to miss. I’d recommend it not only to those in the LGBT community, but to those allies who want to know more about how it feels to be in the situations that Matt finds himself in. Take a chance to get outside of your own head and into someone else’s to expand your own horizons.


Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes


David J. Collins

David J. Collins

Author Bio
David Collins lives and works in Chicago. Gaybash is his first novel.

Social Media Links
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  YouTube



Giveaway: There is a giveaway for this tour. A $15 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value.

Open Internationally. Ends 8/1. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest | Instagram

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.



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!

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