Looking for Love in All the Right Places

Lots of people meet in bars. Right? Right. But sometimes the club scene just isn’t where we want to be. Especially not when we’re hoping to find that special someone.  The bar scene gets tiresome. Maybe we’ve been meeting the same sort of man over and over, and maybe those relationships haven’t worked out. Or maybe we’re just fed up with loud music and bad drinks.

What’s a girl to do when she wants to meet a good man?

Fortunately, there are lots of places to look other than bars and nightclubs, and when you begin looking for love in different places, you’re more apt to find a romantic prospect who shares your interests, who has more in common with you, and who can bring new excitement and enthusiasm into your life by challenging you to live your dreams.

Sound good? The key to meeting the right partner lies in doing things you love, so start by making a list of activities you enjoy — and ones you’d like to try. The simple truth is, the more activities on your list, the wider your social circles will be. The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll have for meeting romantic prospects who share your values and who will enhance your own life experiences.

 

Book lover? Your library might be the start of a true life love story.

Here are a few ideas for places to visit where you might meet like-minded souls:

Art Galleries, Museums, Libraries, Bookstores, Book Clubs

Intelligence is considered a great aphrodisiac, and if you’re a bit on the brainy side — maybe even a real nerd — you deserve someone whose intelligence matches your own, someone who enjoys your conversations about the historical significance of the Battle of Bladensburg, the contributions of Francis Poulenc to French music, or the question as to whether or not Mark Rothko should be classified as an abstract expressionist.  As you explore your interests in art, history, and culture, strike up conversations with people around you. Ask questions, or share your own knowledge with others.  Smart women always stand out from the crowd, so surround yourself with people who will appreciate what you have to offer.

Animal Shelters, Pet Stores, Dog Shows, Trail-Rides, Humane Associations, and Rescue Groups

Animal lover? The right partner for you probably has a few critters, too.  More than one story has been told of couples who were brought together through their playful pets. Go dog-walking on Saturday mornings or saddle up for an afternoon on horseback. Become an advocate for animal rights, help out at a local shelter or animal rescue operation, and share your love with lots of furry, finned, and feathered friends. While you’re waiting for love of the human variety, you’ll have lots of tail-wagging puppies and purring kitties showing you how much they care.

Sports Clubs, Fitness Centers, Gyms, Sporting Events, Running, Swimming, and Track Meets, Tennis Courts

If you’re the athletic sort, the perfect partner for you is one who can keep up. You need somebody who shares your appreciation for healthy habits, proper diet, and regular exercise. Training can be time-consuming, but it can be enjoyable, too, when you’ve got somebody special sweating alongside you. Best of all, you and your partner can cheer one another on during competitions, celebrate victories together, and console each other when inevitable losses occur. You can’t win ’em all, you know, but finding a sports-minded partner will make you a winner in the romance arena.

Foreign Language Classes, Cooking Classes, Photography Classes, Self-Improvement Seminars, Educational Venues, Community Learning Programs, Lectures

Some folks love to learn. Anything. Everything. Maybe today it’s Chinese cooking, and next week you’re ready to plunge into Swahili. Does your city offer community education programs, such as a “Communiversity”? Check out what lectures and workshops are happening around your area.  And always ask questions. Make yourself visible by participating fully in any classroom activities or groups taking place. Classrooms offer great opportunities to “link up” with new friends, too. Get together for discussions or become “study-buddies”. Offer to share notes or provide a little after-class tutoring.  When you pursue knowledge and new skills, you might find a few A+ romantic prospects, too.

Church and Religious Activities, Scripture Studies, Spiritual Retreats, Healing Workshops, Yoga Classes, Shamanic Workshops

It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs or affiliations may be. From devout Christian to practicing Wiccan, there are others who share your beliefs, your values, and your spiritual activities.  Religious harmony is one of the key elements in a good relationship. Even if you’re able to remain open-minded and tolerant of others’ beliefs, inter-faith relationships can present tremendous challenges. Relationships are naturally stronger when both individuals involved share the same spiritual beliefs and practices.

Acting Classes, Public Speaking Clubs, Choirs, Orchestras, Film Groups, Playhouses, Theatres, and Improvisation Clubs, Concerts

A bit outgoing? Love to be center-stage? Enjoy dramatic scenes? Oh, what fun you can have if and when you find the right romantic partner. What was that memorable play about people who acted out scenes from other shows? Imagine the love scenes you could rehearse together! And think of the fun you’ll have laughing, singing, and dancing with someone you love. If you’re an extrovert, don’t hold back. Speak up and tell the world what you want. You’ll probably get it.

Food Pantries, Volunteer Organizations, Civic Associations

If serving others is a high priority in your life, then put your skills to work by volunteering to help out wherever needed — and you’ll find lots of places where help will be welcomed and appreciated. Food pantries and soup kitchens can always use another pair of hands. Meals on Wheels and programs which deliver food or other items are always looking for caring individuals who are willing to give of their time. Check out the organizations in your community and the activities they sponsor. Get out your hammer and help build a house, or work with educational programs to defeat illiteracy. Opportunities for community service abound and can bring huge rewards. You get back what you give in life, remember, so share your love with those who need it most.

Flea Markets, Bargain Barns, Thrift Stores, Second-Hand Shops, Craft Fairs, Antique Malls

Looking for something different? Something old? Something hand-made? Or just looking for something cheap? Browsing flea markets, craft fairs, and antique malls can bring hours of pleasure.  You never know what you’ll find, and that handsome hunk who’s hunting for some obscure treasure might prove to be the bargain of the day.

Coffee Shops, Political Rallies, Campaign Events, Political Clubs and Cause-Related Organizations

Like to work hard? Have strong opinions on political issues? Want to make a real difference in the world? Join forces with folks who share your views and let your voices be heard. Meet with others to discuss current events and important issues. Take part in rallies. Work to get voters registered. Hand out pamphlets or literature in support of causes in which you believe.  When you find someone who shares your deepest convictions, the passion between the two of you might truly change the world.

 

What about the Workplace?

When all is said and done, the surprising fact is that the workplace is regarded as the best place for meeting prospective romantic partners. While it may be true that the workplace environment offers great opportunities for getting to know someone, it also offers a lot of problems. Most companies have strict policies about inter-office relationships, and in many instances, if the relationship gets serious, somebody’s going to be required to change jobs. Maybe it’s worth it. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than an office romance that fizzles. Imagine seeing that fellow  you despise…every day… 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Imagine listening to him make snarky remarks about you to colleagues, or constantly whining and begging you to take him back.  With all the things that can go wrong in a relationship, getting involved with the guy in the next cubicle may be an invitation to disaster. He’d better REALLY be worth it.

 

What about Online Dating?

Sure enough. More and more people are signing up at online dating sites.  And yes, we all know people who’ve met online and made it work. But even if you do meet someone online, a relationship still requires getting to know each other, not just through photographs, computer chats, and emails, but face to face, as well…which means spending time together, sharing activities, and discovering each other’s interests.

Why not start with the interests first? Follow your heart, engage in activities you enjoy, join groups where you’ll find people who share your beliefs, your loves, your excitements, your passions.

This is where you’re most likely to find that special someone who can ignite all the sparks and make all your dreams come true.

 

 

 

August Giveaway

To say “thank you” to readers who visit The Power of Love, each month I’ll be giving away a small prize.  Everyone who visits during the month can enter to win, and yes, you can enter more than once.

This month’s prize:

A $10.00 gift card from Amazon.com for your reading pleasure!

Enter to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

Entering is simple. Click on the Rafflecopter entry information below. You can earn entries by “tweeting” about the giveaway, by following Christina on Twitter, or by visiting Christina’s “Love Notes” page on Facebook and clicking “Like”.

Hey…it’s all about publicity and visibility, right? Help Christina share the word so others can Discover the Power of Love.

You can also enter to win by leaving a comment on a post at The Power of Love. Browse a bit, then leave a quick note for Christina. What do you like about the site? What could be better? Or…if you want, just say “Hi”. Either way, you’ll earn more entries into the giveaway.

CONTEST IS NOW OPEN AND WILL CLOSE ON AUGUST 31

Note: Gift card will be delivered through e-mail.

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Romance Novel Excerpt – A Different Kind of Picnic

Today’s romantic excerpt is a little different…an indoor picnic.  It’s from Mark Love’s novel, Vanishing Act. Enjoy!

 

 I stood in the doorway to our bedroom and watched him. Even asleep, Malone could affect me like no other man I’d ever known. Not that there were that many. He stirred and reached across the bed for me, instinctively seeking that physical contact. I leaned against the doorway and sipped from the mug of tea I was holding in both hands.

“Hey, Jamie,” he said, his voice a bit raspy. Malone stretched beneath the quilts.

“Brunch is ready, Vasily. But first you need to shave and shower.”

“I was hoping to spend a very lazy day with you, Jamie.”

I could feel my eyes twinkle with delight. “That’s exactly what I had in mind too, Vasily. But first you must shave and shower.”  I set the mug on the dresser and leaned over, rewarding him with a long, lingering kiss. When he tried to pull me down on top of him, I stepped back and pointed toward the bathroom.

Grudgingly, Malone slipped out of bed and headed for the shower. When I heard the water running, I returned to the living room and urged myself to be patient.

A little while later, Malone stood before me. He was wearing a thick terry cloth robe that reached almost to his knees. And I knew that was all he was wearing.

“Jamie, what did you do with my clothes?”

Innocently I batted my lashes at him. “What clothes, Vasily?”

“All the clothes from the closet and the dresser that belong to me are gone. The only thing in the bath or the bedroom is this robe.”

I moved from the rocker to stand before him. “Today, Vasily, you will not need clothes. We have a sumptuous feast awaiting us. It is a winter version of a picnic. There is a nest of blankets and pillows to sprawl upon in front of a roaring fire and soft music playing on the stereo. And if you get chilled, I promise to keep you very, very warm.”

Malone’s gaze shifted from me to the array on the coffee table. There was a plate of shrimp, a bowl of hummus, crackers and chunks of dark rye bread, several different types of cheese and dips, a platter of fresh fruit and two steaming mugs of hot and sour soup. Then he looked briefly at the fire. Gradually he turned his gaze back to me. I was wearing a black satin robe and some of Malone’s favorite perfume and nothing else.

“Welcome to a lazy day, Vasily.”

He drew me into his arms and we slowly sank to the nest of pillows. He didn’t say a word, just slowly began kissing me. As he worked his way down my neck, I felt his fingers slowly untie the sash on my robe.

“I’ll give you back your clothes tomorrow, Malone,” I managed to gasp.

He paused and leaned back to look at me. “Suddenly clothes don’t seem very important, Jay.”

 ~ ~ ~ ~

For more from Mark Love, visit him online at:

Write Now

For more “picnic” excerpts from your favorite romance authors, check out

The Picnic Page

 More to Enjoy:

Sex After Fifty – Myths and Realities

Sex After Fifty — Myths and Realities

When we’re young, we spend a lot of time thinking about how nice life will be when we’re older. When we’re older, we’ll have more money saved, we’ll have more time for the good things in life, and best of all, the kids will be grown, gone, and life will be so much easier.

Right?

Well, yes…maybe…and, no, not always.

Even assuming all of the above are true, i.e. more money, more time, fewer responsibilities, getting older brings its own array of new challenges. Aches, pains, vision and hearing problems. Arthritis. Bad backs. Dentures. Fallen arches. And the list goes on and on.

Years ago I worked for a delightful boss in his seventies, whose wife advised me to “enjoy yourself now, because the golden years are more than a bit tarnished.”

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women'...

Sex

Of course, when we’re younger and look forward to those golden years, one thing we rarely think about is intimacy. We take it for granted. Like breathing. As one man I know quipped one day, sex and breathing really are about the same. “You don’t think about either one until you can’t do it anymore,” he told me.

But, wait! Does getting older mean you have to give up intimacy?

Not exactly, although it may mean changing your ideas about what intimacy is, learing new ways to please your partner — and yourself — and for many couples, getting older can mean that sex gets even better.

“Sort of like a fine wine,” a friend remarked when we discussed the myths and realities of sex after fifty. “It improves with age,” she said with a smile.

The Myths

Probably the most common myth or misconception about sex and aging is that as we grow older we simply lose interest.

Nope. The good news is that there isn’t an age limit on sexuality. The even better news is that, according to a survey from the National Council on Aging, more than 70% of those over 60 who have regular intercourse say their sex lives are more satisfying now than when they were in their 40’s. Studies show, however, that at midlife and beyond, sexual satisfaction depends more on the overall quality of the relationship than it does for younger couples.

Another myth is that when older couples do have sexual relations, it’s what you might call “routine”. In other words, dull and not all that exciting.

Think again. Older lovers are more comfortable together, and therefore tend to be less inhibited. In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago a few years ago, over 3,000 people between the ages of 57 and 85 were interviewed. More than half said they gave or received oral sex. Even for those between the ages of 75 and 85, the rate was nearly a third.

OK, so what about the frequency of sex? Surely that’s going to decrease with age, right?

Not necessarily. It’s another myth for the most part, although the answer does depend somewhat on the individuals. Some couples are content with less-frequent intercourse, but most couples maintain the same patterns they’ve established in earlier years, rather it’s once a day, once a week, or once a month. Whatever has worked in the past, will still work.

Well…let’s back up a bit there. Some things won’t work like they did in the past. That’s where the realities of sex after fifty come in.

Realities

His erection probably won’t be what it was when he was younger, but that’s all right. It can still do what it needs to do. It might take a little longer, but since when has that been a problem? Longer arousal times mean more foreplay, more intimate talk, more pleasure.

But what if he really can’t perform? Medical conditions such as diabetes can lead to erectile dysfunction, as can taking certain prescription medications. Does that mean sex is out of the question?

Of course not. It means it might be time to discuss the situation with a doctor. Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis all work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Another drug, Stendra, was approved by the FDA last year. There are also pumps, implants, and shots available. Do yourself — and your partner — a favor, gents. Have that little chat with your physician.

Another reality is that female parts don’t work quite the same either. Menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort, but there’s a quick fix for that. You’ll find a variety of different lubricants available. You might also want to discuss estrogen-based creams with your doctor.

One of the best realities about sex and aging is that it not only feels good, it’s good for you. People who remain sexually active over fifty are apt to be more active overall and tend to stay more physically fit. Regular exercise boosts the libido, keeps the heart healthy, and muscles strong.

Will sex change as you age? Yes, of course, it will. The most important reality to remember is that sex doesn’t always have to include intercourse, and it doesn’t always have to end with orgasm. Touching, kissing, stroking, cuddling, or “spooning” as it’s often called, can sometimes be every bit as exciting and pleasurable as the sex act itself, and many times it’s even more emotionally satisfying.

For younger lovers, sex can actually be stressful, with both individuals feeling pressured to “perform”. Older couples have no such worries. They’re much more willing to relax and let things happen — or not. Either way, the time spent sharing yourself and your body with the one you love brings a genuine satisfaction that young lovers can’t yet begin to imagine.

Why Sex Gets Better After Fifty

  • Female sex drive often increases after menopause because the ratio of testosterone to estrogen and progesterone shifts.
  • Orgasms may be more frequent, more intense — or both — for women after menopause.
  • Longer arousal times for men mean more time for foreplay and intimate talk.
  • Woman past menopause no longer have to worry about pregnancy, making it easier to relax and enjoy their sexuality.
  • Retiring or cutting back on work hours means more time to enjoy sex with your partner.
  • By the age of fity, you know your body and what gives you pleasure.
  • If you and your partner have been together for a long time, it’s easier for  you to communicate your needs.
  • As we age, we lose a lot of our inhibitions, making sex more of an adventure than ever.
  • Mature couples are more experienced and much more sexually confident.
  • Sex after fifty is driven more by love than hormones, and being loved brings the greatest satisfaction of all.

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An Afternoon Picnic – Romance Novel Excerpt

Our weather’s been lovely here in the midwest over the last few days…perfect for a picnic. We took advantage of the beautiful afternoon on Sunday to enjoy a picnic lunch beneath the trees. Now, I’m pleased to share another little romantic picnic excerpt with you. This excerpt comes from one of my historical romance novels, Irresistible.

Irresistible by Christina Cole

Rise Childers was once an aspiring artist with dreams of attending art school. Financial hardships destroyed her dreams, and her sister’s death extinguished Rise’s ability to see beauty in the world. In hopes of re-igniting Rise’s passion for art, an affluent friend has given her the opportunity to spend a summer at the luxurious Lindenhurst resort in upstate New York. There, she’s met the resort’s handsome owner, Samuel Mills.

After her own wardrobe was ruined, Samuel has taken Rise to the dressmaker’s shop to purchase a few new gowns. Now, in hopes of pleasing the usually-gloomy Miss Childers, he’s come up with a little surprise for her. Enjoy!

~ ~ ~ ~

When she emerged from the shop and walked toward the carriage, Samuel hurried to her. In the late morning sunlight, she seemed to glow with a rich, vibrant warmth. His heartbeat quickened.

“We’re not leaving yet,” he told her, reaching to take her hand in his.

“Why not?”

Another frown. He countered it with an eager smile.

“I told you earlier I had a surprise.” And earlier, he’d told himself he was done with it. But he’d been wrong, he realized now. And maybe, just maybe, what he had planned would bring a smile to Rise’s enchanting face. “We’re going to take a little stroll, have a picnic lunch, and see the sights.” With regret, he released her hand and returned to the carriage. From the boot, he took out a plaid blanket and the basket of food and wine his chef had prepared. “Come along. I think you’ll enjoy this, Rise.”

Holding the blanket against his chest, he slipped the basket over one arm, then took Rise’s hand and led her toward a narrow wooded trail.

“It’s incredible,” Rise whispered as they moved into a clearing. The vantage point provided a breath-taking view of the Shawangunk Mountains. A crystal-clear waterfall tumbled down the mountainside, and colorful rainbows danced in the pool of water beneath it.

As Samuel watched, Rise stood before him, stretching her hands out as though to touch the beauty, to grasp it, and hold it. Her fingers moved, and an odd, almost pained expression came to her face.

It was not the smile he’d wanted.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

“I wish…oh, if only…” She turned to face him. “I want so much to capture this scene! Do you have any pencils with you? Anything I could use for drawing paper?”

Samuel sensed her excitement, and he hated to crush it. He shook his head. “I’m sorry, I don’t.” His heart pounded with anticipation. “We could come back another time,” he offered. “Would you like that?”

“Oh, yes, please! I have my pastels back at the resort, and a sketch book. I’ve just been so afraid to try drawing again.” She turned to him, then quickly came to help as he spread out the blanket. But her frown returned when Samuel pulled out the bottle of wine.

“You’re not supposed to have any alcohol,” she reminded him sternly. “You agreed to try my suggestions.”

“Not even on a special occasion?”

“Is this a special occasion?” she asked in reply, sitting down beside him.

“Very special.”

“Oh?” Rise looked off toward the waterfall again and nodded. A slight smile touched her lips. “Yes, I think you’re right. At least, this is a very special place. Still, rules are rules, and I don’t think you should indulge.”

He uncorked the wine, poured a single glass, and handed it to Rise.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine,” he said. “It’s one of the best from the Lindenhurst’s cellars. Please, don’t disappoint me by refusing.”

She accepted the wine and sipped at it. “This is what you meant about letting go and enjoying life, I suppose. Maybe you’re right.” When Samuel handed her a plate of grapes and cheese, she smiled again. “I’m sorry for my outburst earlier. And I want you to know, I am very grateful to you for the new gowns.”

Samuel moved slightly closer. “It was the least I could do.”

They chatted about inconsequential matters while they enjoyed the delicious picnic meal his chef had prepared. Several times Samuel refilled Rise’s wineglass. A delicate flush rose to her cheeks. She seemed more at ease than he’d ever seen her.

“I should apologize,” she told him, boldly patting his hand. “I really don’t mean to be so gloomy, and I certainly don’t want you to think me an ingrate. I’m just not sure how to act, to tell the truth. About the new gowns, I mean. I’ve never really had anything new.”

“The dress you’re wearing…”

“Isn’t really mine,” she quickly explained. “My friend, Lorraine, gave it to me. She knows I can’t afford fancy gowns, so she’s kind enough to give me her hand-me-downs. Not that I need them, really. I don’t have any place to wear fancy gowns.”

Samuel moved closer still.

“I’m always a season behind in fashion, too, but the gowns Lorraine gives me are so elegant and beautiful, I don’t really mind. Sometimes I go to my wardrobe, open the door, and stand there looking at all the gowns she’s given me. Such exquisite colors. Such soft fabrics. One of the gowns is even trimmed in Belgian lace. It’s almost enough to make me dream.” She hiccoughed, then clasped a hand over her mouth. “Of course, there’s little point in dreaming.” The smile faded from her face.

“Why shouldn’t you dream?”

“I’ve had enough disappointments in my life,” she answered. “Why invite more?”

“Maybe you should dare to dream. I’m being serious,” he added. “This isn’t just idle talk. People need dreams, Rise. We all need something to strive for, something to bring out the best in us.”

“I had dreams once.”

“Tell me more,” Samuel urged. Perhaps if he knew more about Rise, and the things she desired, he could find the way to make her happy. Maybe he could make her smile.

“I wanted to go to art school.” She lowered her gaze. “My father always encouraged me, you see. He thought I had talent.”

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” she said, sipping another glass of wine. “I’ve always loved drawing and painting, but after my father passed away, there wasn’t any point in dreaming. Mama and I couldn’t afford the cost of art school.” She lifted her chin. “What are your dreams, Samuel?”

“My dreams?” He hadn’t expected to be put on the spot that way. It was disconcerting. Samuel shrugged. “To make the Lindenhurst the most popular resort in the valley. To see the world. To someday find the right woman.” Why had he even bothered to mention that? He shook his head. “Enough about me. This conversation is about you. You’re the one who’s so afraid of life you won’t dare to dream.”

“I don’t see the point in setting myself up for failure, that’s all.” She sipped her wine again and turned toward him. “Consider your dreams, Samuel. A nice resort? Well, you have that. To see the world?” She gave him a weak smile. “All that takes is a bit of time and money, and you obviously have a surplus of both. As for finding the right woman, your real problem seems to be turning down the wrong ones. I’m sure you have no shortage of romantic prospects. I mean, a man with your—” She stopped, her cheeks scarlet.

“A man with my money. That’s what you were going to say, right?”

“Actually, no, that’s not what I was going to say. A man with your good looks.” She sucked in her breath, sitting stiffly. “There, I said it. I gave myself permission to speak my mind, and I’ve embarrassed myself something awful. Now, are you satisfied?”

Satisfied? Not by a long shot. I won’t be satisfied until I’ve tasted those delectable lips of yours and…

“Samuel? Are you all right?”

So lost was he in thoughts of kissing Rise, he could think of nothing else, had no idea what she was saying to him. He kept staring, his hunger growing.

“What? Yes, I’m fine, thank you.”

“I suppose we should go now.” She turned and began to gather up their things.

“All right, but I’d like very much to bring you here again. With your sketch book,” he added.

Her mouth dropped. “Would you really do that for me?”

“We can go to the resort, get your sketch book, and be back here within the hour.”

“Do you mean it?”

When he nodded, Rise beamed. “Oh, Samuel! I can’t tell you how much I’d enjoy that!” She jumped to her feet. “One of the reasons Lorraine invited me to come with her was in hopes that I might start painting again. I—” She lowered her gaze. “I haven’t been able to paint since my sister died. I just felt that something within me had died, too.”

“And now?”

Rise gestured toward the distant waterfall. “I feel alive again.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Samuel watched the rise and fall of her breasts and yearned to take her into his arms. With much effort, he resisted the urge, choosing instead to delight in merely watching her, seeing genuine joy and happiness in her eyes for the first time.

He had done this. He had given her this happiness.

His heart swelled with pride, and he could hardly wait to return here with Rise, to watch her sketch the scene, and maybe…

Actual tingles coursed through his body at thoughts of what might possibly happen between them. He imagined the two of them lying together in the soft grasses.

Holding hands. Kissing. Touching.

“Let’s hurry,” he suggested, grabbing the blanket and basket. “The sooner we get to Lindenhurst, the sooner we can come back here.”

~~~~

I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from Irresistible.

Other excerpts for your summer-reading pleasure:

From Jean Joachin: Now and Forever 3 – Blind Love

From Whitney K-E: What Happens in Ireland

Still More to Enjoy:

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Give Yourself a Little Love

We’ve all heard it said that we can’t love others unless we first love ourselves. It’s true. We can’t give something that we don’t have. So…even in the midst of busy days and hectic schedules, be sure you’re finding ways to give yourself a little love.

One of the best ways is to pamper yourself is with a day at the spa. Nothing soothes a weary spirit better than an hour-long massage, a relaxing facial, or a sweet-scented body scrub.

English: lemon balm Deutsch: Zitronenmelisse

Lemon balm

But, wait! Who’s got time to spend a day at the spa? Besides, professional spa treatments are costly. Sure, they’re worth it — if and when we have the time and money.  The good news is that we don’t have to go to an expensive spa to reap the benefits — and pleasures — of spa services. We can indulge ourselves at home with easy-to-make spa treatments for facials, body scrubs, and more.

And what about that massage? Set aside an hour — or two — to share with the one you love. Need I say more?  Include juice or wine, fruit, cheese, and good music, and you’ll be creating a memorable experience for both of you.

Here are a few resources you might enjoy:

Couples Massage DVD

Intimacy Spa – Sensual Massage for Couples

Plantlife Massage Oils

The Book of Massage

The Massage Bible

Music for Massage

Sacred Presence – Song for Loving Touch

In addition to soothing and sensual massages shared with one you love, you can give yourself a little love by creating your own body scrubs, facial masques, and more. These home-spa products are easy-to-make, and a true pleasure to use.

Bubble Baths and Sensual Soaks

One of the quickest, easiest, and most enjoyable bath product recipes in my collection is this ENERGIZING GREEN TEA SOAK. It’s perfect for those times when you need a break between your workday routine and a night on the town. It’s refreshing, too, after a long work-out.

  • Combine 1/2 cup Epsom salts with 1/4 cup loose green tea leaves. Add in two tablespoons of dried herbs. Rosemary and lavender work well. You can also try lemon balm or mint. Add two tablespoons of orange or lemon zest (store-bought or freshly-grated). Mix these ingredients well, then tie them into an old pair of nylon hose. Draw a warm bath, drop in the bath bag, and let it “steep” as the tub fills.

If you like lavender — and who doesn’t? — you’ll love this SOOTHING LAVENDER SOAK. It’s ideal before bedtime. Lavender has a fresh, clean scent that will relax you and send you off to sweet dreams.

  • Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath. Pour in 2 cups of warm whole milk.  Relax. Enjoy.

To nourish your body and easy dry skin, try this HEALTHY SEAWEED SOAK. Seaweed powders are available in health-food stores. You’ll find both kelp and dulse. Either can be used for this soak.

  • Fill your tub with hot water. While the tub fills, pour in 1/4 cup of dried seaweed powder. Allow the powder to steep for several minutes, then add 1/4 cup Epsom salts, 3 drops lemon essential oil, and 3 drops lavender essential oil, or substitute another favorite fragrance for the lavender.  Soak for 15-20 minutes.

Scrubs

Nothing smooths skin like a body scrub. Heat from the shower allows you to actually scrub away toxins.  This SWEET SUGAR SCRUB is one you’ll use often.

  • Mix 1 cup of white sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1-1/2 cups almond oil. Add in 2 drops of essential oil — your favorite fragrance. Massage into damp skin with fingers or with a soft scrubbing mitt.

Don’t forget your hands! This simple LEMON AND SUGAR HAND SCRUB not only relaxes your hands, but leaves your skin radiant and glowing.

  • Mix 1/2 cup white sugar with 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Massage onto damp hands. Rinse, pat dry, and apply your favorite hand moisturizer.

When you need a real pick-me-up, try this SPICY CINNAMON SCRUB. Follow with a hot shower and an overall application of a shea-butter moisturizer.

  • Mix 2 cups of light brown sugar with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup honey. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. For an even spicier aroma, add a pinch of ground ginger. Mix all ingredients well, then apply with a mitt.

Foot Soaks

Like the fresh scent of the woods? This WOODSY FOOT SOAK will quickly become one of your favorite relaxation techniques.

  • Add about a teaspoon of sea salt to a basin of warm water, then add in 5 drops of spruce essential oil, a few lemon slices, and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Your feet will love you.

How about a cool soak? This CITRUS-MINT FOOT SOAK is sure to put a smile on your face. There’s just something about the aroma of oranges and lemons.

  • Fill a basin with cool water. Add slices of lemon and orange. Drop in a handful of fresh spearmint or peppermint. Soak your tired little tootsies for 10-15 minutes, then pat dry and massage in a moisturizing foot cream.

FACIAL TREATS

Although actually a treat for your entire body, this COOL CUCUMBER MIST can be used as a refreshing face mist. Be sure to store in the refrigerator. When spraying as a facial mist, keep eyes closed, and hold spray bottle 6-8 inches from your face.

  • Mix 1 cup of distilled water with 1/4 cup lemon witch hazel. Add 2 tablespoons strained cucumber juice. Pour the liquid into an attractive spray bottle. Use as a facial mist, or as an all-over body spray after a bath or shower.

Feeling fruity? Try this ZESTY GRAPEFRUIT FACIAL. It’s a fantastic way to wake-up your skin. It will leave you feeling fresh and invigorated.

  • Use a grater to grate the rind of 1 whole pink grapefruit. (Save the fruit segments to enjoy at breakfast or as a snack.) Add 3/4 cup plain, whole-fat yogurt to the rind. Mix well. Smooth the masque over your face and neck, avoiding the eyes. Leave on for 10 minutes while you stretch out and relax. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

If you have sensitive skin, always test home-spa products before use. The best way to test is by rubbing a small amount behind one ear. If the product causes redness, swelling, itching, or any discomfort, better skip the treatment.

Where to find the ingredients?

Dried seaweed powders can be purchased at health food stores, as can a variety of oils, such as sunflower oil, almond oil, and coconut oil. Often these oils can also be found at pharmacies.

Essential oils can be purchased at many different retailers — check New Age shops in your area — or they can be ordered online.  I purchase all my essential oils from Sun’s Eye and have always been delighted with the products and service. If you’d rather purchase in person, you can visit their web site and find a list of retailers.

Dried herbs can be found on your grocer’s shelves and at specialty stores. Tip: Specialty stores will have greater variety and higher quality herbs.  For fresh herbs, nothing is better than your own little herb garden. During spring and summer months, you can also find fresh herbs at farmers’ markets or at retail nurseries.

Have fun with these treatments. Follow the recipes as given, or try your own personal variations. If you come up with a delightful little concoction, please share!

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Disclaimer: I feel I should add a standard disclaimer to this post. The information presented here is for educational purposes. No guarantees are made regarding the effectiveness of these home-spa products, nor am I assuming any responsibility for the use of them. As with any home treatment, use common sense. 

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You can make your home-spa experience even more enjoyable by using the following tips:

  • Dim the lights to create a soothing atmosphere. Light fragrant, scented candles or a stick of incense to add to the calming mood.
  • Put on soft, relaxing music or ambient natural sounds.
  • Use the softest, fluffiest towels you have.
  • Wear a loose-fitting robe.
  • Heat your robe and towels in the dryer for a few minutes before you begin your treatment.
  • Fix a favorite beverage to enjoy. Depending on the time of day, your mood, and your tastes, you might want to choose hot chocolate, herbal tea, red wine, or a hot, spiced cider.
  • Take time to fully enjoy the experience. Yes, we’re all short of time, but loving ourselves is vital to our emotional health — and to the well-being of all our relationships. It’s worth it to take a few extra minutes for yourself now and then. Your heart and soul — as well as your body — will be grateful.

ENJOY!

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Picnic – Excerpt from “What Happens in Ireland”

 Today’s picnic excerpt comes from “down under” author Whitney Keevers-Eastman, better know as Whitney K-E. She’s sharing a sexy picnic scene from her romance novelWhat Happens In Ireland.

~~~~

What Happens in Ireland

Those green eyes are eating me alive.

Looking up at the sky above, Kate thought about what she wanted right now.

Instantly, a sensual image of Jack ravishing her in the middle of the field, his naked back bared to the sun, the muscles there straining beneath her fingertips, the unforgettable tattoo that entwined his arm glistening black, filled her mind.

But trouble would be the only result of such a request.

And so, she had to think: What was the next best thing to Jack O’Reilly’s magnificent body at her fingertips?

An unexpected yawn escaped her. “A coffee would be nice actually.”

The sparkle in Jack’s eyes brightened.

Surely not.

Winking at her, he turned to rummage through the saddle bags. Stilled by her disbelief, Kate found her eyes drawn to his jean clad buttocks.

Now there’s a slice of heaven.

Jack turned, his hands hidden behind his back. Admittedly, it had taken her a few seconds to concentrate on his face with the image of his perfect arse still on her mind, but at last, she managed.

“Would ye like to take a guess as to what is hidden behind me back, lass?” he asked.

Kate stood there speechless, her muddled brain not quite registering what he said.

Damn distracting man.

“Please tell me it’s a flask of coffee?”

“And if it is?” Jack’s gaze fell to her lips.

They tingled with awareness.

“A woman is not very agreeable when she’s denied coffee, Jack,” she warned him sternly.

Jack laughed at her threat. “Are ye implyin’ that ye might go through with yer past threat to turn me into a eunuch, if I don’t give ye yer sweet poison?”

“Don’t tempt me.”

His grin grew wicked. “But I live to tempt. And ye like it just as much as I do.”

“Is this Jack or his arrogance speaking?” Kate retorted, hoping to God that she was successful in keeping her desire buried six-feet under an iron façade.

“Who do ye want me to be?” Jack rumbled, his voice low and seductive.

Her cheeks burned. “Don’t do that!”

Jack frowned. “Do what?”

“Use your voice like that.” Marching past him, she headed for the picnic blanket.

“Use it like what?”

Irish accents are going to be the death of me…

When she turned suddenly to face him, the burly Irishman almost ploughed into her.

“Use it in that sexy—”

“Sexy, ye say?”

Desire burned in Jack’s gaze. Desire aimed in her direction.

“No.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. Electricity crackled in the air between them.

If she wasn’t careful all hell was going to break loose. And if it did, she wouldn’t be calling it hell for long.

“Yes, ye did.” Jack took a step closer.

“No, I didn’t,” she choked, stumbling back just as she stumbled over her words.

“Don’t lie to me, Katie.” Her pulse leapt at his use of her nickname. “I can always tell when ye lie to me.”

“How?”

“Yer lips,” he whispered, his hand catching hers. She stopped and Jack bent his head down to hers. His hot breath teased her lips. “Ye purse them and avoid me eyes. That and other thin’s.”

Kate thought she might collapse, her body had grown so weak.

“You’re just saying that because you can’t handle the fact that I’m not attracted to you.” Her heartbeat was deafening, pounding fiercely in her ears.

“There ye go again.”

Of course she was lying. Look at her! She was a melting pool of wanton desire. A blind man could see as much.

“I know ye find me attractive, Kate,” he said, his hand sliding down her side. “Just as I find ye.”

Kate took a forced step out of his reach. Jack followed.

“If I were to give ye yer sweet coffee,” he continued, his sculpted arms crossing over his muscle-packed chest. “Would ye admit the truth?”

Her gaze shifted to the flask in his hand. “What if I’m telling the truth?”

“Then you’d have to lie.”

Good Lord, the man’s lethal.

Sitting down, Jack began to search the saddlebags. Producing a pair of mugs, he held them out for her inspection. Setting them on the ground, he filled each with the heavenly brew. As if nature itself was in Jack’s favor, a gust of wind swept through the valley and wafted the scent of caffeine straight up her nose.

Right now, she’d do almost anything for a cup of coffee. Admitting the truth was hardly going to kill her.

Sighing, she marched over to him. Sitting beside him, she huffed indignantly and stared at her feet. “I surrender.” Peeping at Jack from behind the curtain created by her hair, Kate finally gave in to the hilarity of the situation. She smiled.

It’s official. Smiling is contagious.

~ ~ ~ ~

Want to know What Happens in Ireland?

You can find Whitney’s novel  at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookstrand, All Romance E-Book, Secret Cravings Publishing, and Smashwords.