Minimalist Road Trip Vacation

I love to travel, but when 2017 arrived the purse strings and I didn’t expect to go much further than Indianapolis, for a summer wedding to be held in the state capital building. (It was beautiful! See the dome!)

DomeIn early spring when I was out walking, it occurred to me that surely I could manage at least a couple of small trips this year without breaking the piggy bank. There were two places I needed to go: Texas, to visit my cousin Dan, and northern Illinois, to see Beverly, whom I’ve known since third grade.

That very day, I got a phone call. Dan, only 60 years old, had died of a massive heart attack. I had put the trip off for too many years, not having enough money, time, and organizational inclination all at once. He and I had become such friends in the last couple of decades. He read my books, and encouraged me. We talked about real Mexican food, pursuing authentic lives, and every other possible topic. I miss him.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to contact Beverly. She and her husband invited me to stay for a long weekend, and gave me some dates. Here’s a bit of serendipity for you–Beverly and family have lived near Woodstock, IL (where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed)  for about 30 years, and a college buddy of my son moved to Woodstock a couple of years ago.

Do you love road trips? For me this was the best kind–I was a passenger! Yep, my son and daughter-in-law made arrangements with their friends, and took time off work, so the three of us could travel together. Once we got to Woodstock, Beverly picked me up, and the kids had their own vacation with their friends.

In planning our time together, Beverly asked what I would like to do. I had a list of three things: take the train into Chicago, visit my godson and meet his new wife, and meet up with another girlfriend. Beverly is a can-do kind of gal, and set about making these happen.

The first morning, we got iced coffee (yum!) at the local Starbucks, and went to the depot. (It’s actually even cuter than this if your photographer doesn’t cut off the corners of the roof.)


I’ll skip the long version of why, but we ended up spending the day at Lake Geneva instead. It was glorious!


We walked a bit of the shore path, took a boat tour of the lake (yikes! enormous homes!), and strolled through the town and its darling little museum. I took several photos of this lovely church.


Saturday, we attended the Woodstock Farmers Market, which is held around their picturesque town square. The entire space was full of vendors. I bought bars of homemade soap, and a little block of local cheese that could travel back to southern Indiana in a cooler.  There was even live music coming from the band stand!Woodstock_market_bandstand

We met my godson and his wife for lunch in the Public House, a delightful restaurant that’s in the former jail building.


On Sunday, Beverly and her husband drove me to New Glarus, Wisconsin, where we met our other friend and her husband. Pizza! Beer! Laughter! And another cute little town to explore.

By Monday evening, the wonderful vacation was over, and we three Southern Indiana travelers were back in our respective dwellings. I love my simple life, and my studio apartment. I think I love it even more when I come back home to it.#amwriting

The Joys of Regifting



Last week, I was eating at a local lunch counter and got into an enjoyable conversation with a young employee. She and I often fall into discussion of healthy eating, and on this day, we also talked about coffee. I had recently enjoyed my first cold brew from Starbucks–Oh. My. Word.

I then waxed poetic about my French press, which I’ve used and loved for several years.

The girl’s eyes lit. She said she had always wanted a French press–it was on her list of things to buy some day. She asked about the process of making coffee with one, and I explained it.

I finished my lunch, talked with the other lady who fixed my delicious meal, listened to the young employee’s college plans (much better thought-out than mine were at her age).

I went home, retrieved the unused, still-in-its-packaging, French press that someone had given me two or three years ago, returned, and gave it to her. (What do I need with a second one, I thought, when it was handed to me. This seemed to be the answer.)

She was so excited to have something she had only hoped to acquire someday, and didn’t mind that it was a regift. I demonstrated (without water or grounds) the simple, beautiful method of making delicious coffee.

I smiled all the way home, and for quite a while afterward.

In the big downsize of 2012, I sold and gave away many items. Maybe someday I’ll share the story of my grandmother’s sewing rocker.

In my book, Emily’s Dreams, the heroine has survived a car wreck, and endured painful physical therapy and rehabilitation. Afterward, she realizes that in order to start over, she needs to shed her past. That past includes, it turns out, most of her possessions. Some of them are sold, but there’s magic of a sort in what happens with the ones she gives away.


Here’s the blurb for Emily’s Dreams (Serendipity, Indiana – Book Two):

Emily Kincaid was seriously injured in a car wreck (Small Town Christmas). Now she has to figure out how to live instead of simply surviving. Her past includes a series of broken relationships and dead-end jobs, but her future is a giant question mark.

Everybody wants to help–the nurse aide Emily can’t stand, Emily’s grandmother who had the perfect marriage and wants Emily to find the right man, and her teenage sisters who are eager to get her out of their way.

David Standish wants to help too, but he’s the guy Emily can never have. He’s older, and cosmopolitan while she’s small-town boring…

And on top of all this, there’s the voice in Emily’s head that keeps giving her advice she can’t understand.

Come to Serendipity, and believe in the magic of Love!


Emily’s Dreams is free right now. If you’d like to download a copy, all the links are on the free books page of my website.

Do you have experiences with regifting, as a giver or receiver? I’d love to hear your stories!


A New Author of Main Street: Magdalena Scott


Hello! I’m thrilled to be a new member here on Authors of Main Street. When I was invited to write a guest post for February, I immediately felt at home. Imagine my pleasure at being asked to become part of this wonderful group of writers!


Since you may not have “met” me before, I thought I should do a little intro today. I’m a lifelong “small town girl,” having grown up in a corner of the Midwest that most people have never heard of, let alone visited. I’m also a USA Today Bestselling author of small town sweet romance and women’s fiction.

If each of our lives is a book, I’m in the second chapter of mine.

In the first chapter, I grew up in a loving family, made lifelong friendships starting at age one year, two months, and three days old–when the next girl cousin was born. I fell in love with writing stories as soon as I learned cursive. My first publishing credit was in second grade–a haiku in a national Sunday school magazine.

I was blessed to live my own small town love story, and during 30 years of marriage to the smartest, most unique man I’ve ever met, became Mom to a wonderful son. The end of chapter one was becoming a widow when my husband died from a brain tumor.

Rose On Wood BW

Add Minimalist-in-Training to my Resume

My second chapter has included downsizing from the big family home to a studio apartment, writing full-time,  and becoming mother-in-law to an amazing young woman. I also found a second chance romance. (Good to know those don’t just happen in novels!)


I love to travel, and in autumn 2015 took an unexpected, dream-come-true trip to Ireland with one of those lifelong friends I mentioned. But my fulltime residence is still in small town America, where life in the slow lane includes plenty of heartwarming, simple pleasures–concerts, plays, festivals, street fairs, and old-fashioned family recipes shared at reunions or backyard barbecues. I’ve seen my town be at its best when family, friends, and often the entire community pull together as life’s challenges threaten.

I currently have two small town contemporary romance series available for readers. All the books are wholesome romance (also known as clean, or sweet).

The heartwarming stories of SERENDIPITY, INDIANA: This series is set in, and around, the Standish family Christmas tree farm. Each Serendipity story includes one or more instances of the life-changing magic of Love. (More concrete thinkers may see these as random coincidences.) The Serendipity series contains sweet romance, and also romantic women’s fiction (Emily’s Dreams, The Blank Book). The Blank Book and A Piece of Her Soul also have a light paranormal element. Seven books are available now, with the eighth scheduled to release on June 1st.

The McClains of Legend, Tennesee

The small town charm of THE McCLAINS OF LEGEND, TENNESSEE: This series invites readers into the lives and loves of the large, sometimes exasperating, and always entertaining McClain family, to whom Legend has been home for generations.

If you want to learn more about me, please visit my blog and/or my website. To get all the latest news, and the occasional nifty perk, sign up for my monthly-ish newsletter.

Until we meet again–happy reading!