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New Hampshire Adventures

NH Adventures

Have you ever wanted to visit the beautiful state of NH? Last summer I had the opportunity to live there for two months while my husband renovated a log cabin. We stayed in a little cabin that was secluded out in White Mountains and it was gorgeous. There is so much to do especially if you love the outdoors and have adventurous little ones. I would highly recommend  visiting. There are so many campgrounds, hotels, and quaint towns to visit. 

Even if you do more winter sport activities- NH is still a great place to visit. While we were there we hiked Mt. Moosilauke and Camel’s hump (VT) both were challenging, fun, and stunning aerial views. We also spent time hiking remote areas with our metal detector, went snorkeling and swimming in the swimming holes. They are everywhere and glorious. We even spent time gold panning in some of the river beds. The sound of the water flowing, nature chirping in the background and the pure silence of the hustle and bustle was just what the doctor ordered. 

If you want to go into town, the food is so good and affordable. Great local spots for ice cream- we visited Moose Scoops more than I care to admit. There are zip lining and rope courses downtown, the polar caves, and Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves that I would definitely recommend checking out for some education and fun. 

We went mini golfing one day, visited a local winery and brewery, and scavenged for covered bridges- there are over 50 in NH. Storyland is also a great spot for kids to visit. You can surely find fun for everyone when visiting. They have beautiful lakes and great pull offs for photo opportunities of the great mountain landscapes.

Another unique experience that I got to do was to pick daisies, boil them down, and dye my own yarn. I learned how to knit and I even made a hat. It was such an amazing experience. I read a book in I don’t know how long, lounged in a hammock, and really got to do some great soul searching and self care. It’s so important to take time to listen to what your body needs. 

If you are looking to get away and find some tranquil, fun and low key family fun- I would say you have found a great place to go.

 

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4th of July Picnic Recipes

The 4th of July is almost here and more and more people are wanting to get out and celebrate! What better way to do so than with a picnic followed by a fireworks show? Here are 10 recipes that are sure to dazzle and amaze!

 

Drinks:

Strawberry Lemonade

Who doesn’t love a good strawberry lemonade on a hot, summer day? Put it in mason jars for easy transportation for a great picnic drink option! Click here for the recipe.

Patriotic Punch

This is a great drink to show your patriotism for the 4th of July! Just make sure that all 3 juices/drinks have different amounts of sugar content per ounce.This will help keep the layers separated. Check out how to make it here.

 

Appetizers:

Salsa

What’s one of the first things that you think of when you think of picnics and appetizers? I think of dips! This homemade salsa recipe is the perfect start for your 4th of July picnic!

Avocado Spinach Artichoke Dip

Another dip to include is this cool twist to a spinach artichoke dip option! You can bring a bunch of tortilla chips to enjoy both dips on this list! Find out how to make it here.

 

Entrees:

Pulled Pork Sliders

These sliders are a great option to keep entrees in individual sized portions to help keep everything organized! They’re great to make ahead of time and warm up right before you pack your picnic! You can find the recipe here!

Beef and Mushroom Burgers

You can’t not have burgers to celebrate the 4th of July, right? These beef and mushroom burgers are a perfect addition to your picnic basket! Learn how to make them here.

 

Sides:

Deviled Eggs

Who doesn’t like deviled eggs?? They make for a great pairing with both entree recipes listed! Check out a delicious recipe for classic deviled eggs here.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad with Walnut Pesto

Another great side to pair with the entrees listed is this awesome version of pasta salad! Veggies and pasta, what isn’t there to love? Find out how to make it here!

 

Desserts:

Sugar Cookie S’mores

Cookies? S’mores? What’s not to love about this fusion?? It’s a great dessert option that’s portable! You can find the recipe here.

Patriotic Candy Bark

How do you show your patriotism apart from drinking some patriotic punch? You also indulge in patriotic candy bark! Check out this delicious recipe!

 

Do you have a go to 4th of July picnic recipe that never fails? Comment it below!

 

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find me here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

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Summer Wines

It’s summertime! Which means turn on the grill and hang out, right? But what if you want wine to go with it? Summer grilling usually means lots of protein and lots of sauces. How do you figure out how to pair a good wine with so many options?

When deciding which wine to pair with something straight from the grill, you want to consider how hearty the food is and what is the dominant flavor. Lighter foods, such as white-fleshed fish, veggies, or chicken breasts, oftentimes go with lighter wines. While heartier foods, such as steaks or burgers, pair better with a more robust wine. Identifying what the dominant flavor is for your food can help you determine which flavors in your wine will compliment the best.

However, there is no specific science to pairing wine with food. Win is high in acidity. This tends to help refresh the palate. A lot of red wines also have fat-cutting tannins in them. With a huge assortment, have fun playing with different pairs! I have listed a few different wines that are awesome for the summer and also won’t kill your wallet.

White & Rosé Wines

2020 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Experience a combination of brash lime, herb, and tropical flavors for only $17 a bottle.

2020 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé

With flavors containing juicy melon, berry, and orange-zest, this bottle goes for $18.

2020 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Made with Organic Grapes Reserva

This wine smells similar to a spicy margarita! If you’re into that, you can pick it up for $12 a bottle.

2020 J Lohr Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc Flume Crossing

This wine has sweeter melon and ripe citrus flavors and costs only $14.

2020 Cousiño Macul Isidora Sauvignon Gris

This is a white wine with a little more body and spice being from Chile. You can take it home for $15 a bottle.

Red Wines

2019 Layer Cake California Cabernet Sauvignon

This red wine has luscious blackberry flavors with a gentle cedar note for only $14 a bottle.

2019 Selvapiana Chianti Rùfina

You’ll love this red wine that is well-balanced with ripe fruit and floral notes. Check it out for $18.

2018 Masciarelli Montepulciano di Abruzzo

This wine is thankfully easy to come by and is loved by many with its red fruit and peppery flavors. Find it for only $12 a bottle.

2018 Codirosso Chianti

For $13, you’ll definitely want to check out this wine with a soft texture and intricate flavors.

2019 Pavette California Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir has great toasted spice aromatics and bright, ripe red-cherry flavors. It might become a staple in your home for only $12.

 

If you don’t see your favorite summer wine listed, comment below!

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find me here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

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Wedding Must Haves

Must Haves for Wedding Planning

With the world opening back up again, wedding season is coming back in full swing! Here are 10 must haves for a successful wedding plan!

1. Budget Cushion

Budgeting for a wedding is super important to be able to accurately plan. But sometimes unexpected expenses still occur. Make sure you set aside a set amount of money within your budget to solely be for the unexpected. If it goes unspent, then that’s a little extra for the honeymoon!

 

2. Separate. Email. Address.

From bridal shows, to registry information, to vendors, and anything in between, having a separate email address to funnel all the information to is one of the best tricks! It can even match your wedding website if you create one. Once the wedding is done, you don’t have to worry about future emails spamming your personal inbox!

 

3. Attire Time

Clothes are always tricky, but with special occasions such as weddings, you want to make sure everything fits like a glove! Make sure you allow for plenty of time between finding your perfect wedding outfit, needing to assess and confirm alterations, and the big day. In most instances, it’s good to start searching for wedding dresses 9-12 months prior to the big day and having your first fitting scheduled at least 3 months before show time.

 

4. Vendor Information

In this technological day and age, our smartphones rarely leave our sides. Keeping a live document like Google sheets filled with your vendors’ contact information is great for on the go needs. You can also include organization columns in the document to track how much the vendor costs and how much has already been paid (and how much you’re thinking about tipping – see #7 on the list)!

 

5. RSVP Tracking Plan

It is standard practice to expect that not all RSVPs will be submitted correctly. Some guests will even forget to include their names. A trick that I have seen and love is to number the back of the RSVP cards and match it to an excel or Google sheets document that has the guest information.

 

6. Weather Watch

Everyone knows to have a plan B in place in case of the dreadful “R” word (you know, rain). But what a lot of people don’t think to research is the timing of the sunset. If you are holding a late afternoon/early evening wedding, make sure to note the time of the sunset that day. Your photographer will be grateful that you prepared that information to help coordinate. If you’re holding an outside celebration, having your photographer take sunset photos might be an amazing plan, as well!

 

7. Vendor Tips and Gratuities

You have paid for the price of services for your big day, but also remember tips and gratuities are not included. This goes for services such as catering, the DJ, etc. The best way to not stress about tipping on the big day is to calculate those amounts ahead of time. I love the idea of pulling cash out beforehand and placing each planned amount into specific labeled envelopes. On the big day, you can task a member of your bridal party or family to hand the envelopes out accordingly!

 

8. Nice Hangers

A lot of people forget to bring aesthetically pleasing hangers to the wedding location. However, photographers love to get shots of the wedding dress hanging on its own! If you want photos of the bridesmaids’ dresses alongside the wedding dress as well, nice, uniform hangers would make the picture that much better!

 

9. Emergency Kit

A lot of people remember the wedding-day emergency kit for the bride, but most forget about having one for the groom! Bandaids, Tums, etc. go a long way for both parties getting married. Make sure the maid/matron of honor and the best man remember to pack these so you’re not stressing over it!

 

10. Comfy. Shoes.

This goes for both parties standing up at the altar. Your ceremony shoes might look so stylish, but style doesn’t always equate to comfort. Make sure to include a pair of shoes that won’t make your feet cry after dancing the night away!

 

What are other ideas that you believe are wedding must haves? Comment below!

 

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find me here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

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Puerto Rico Adventure

Traveling to Puerto Rico

Want to discover some amazing cuisine? GO TO PUERTO RICO! I’ve had some of the best food here and it’s where the Piña Colada was invented. I had the opportunity to go to Old San Juan for a few days and I can’t wait to dive in and tell you all about it. I stayed at the El San Juan Resort and it was beautiful! The room was perfect for the four of us girls and the pools and beaches were very well kept. 

Our first stop was Pamela’s for dinner. It was delicious and, on the beach at sunset – talk about perfection. The next night we ate inside a shell; literally the La Concha hotel is shaped like a beautiful sea shell that sits right on the water. The food was magnificent and the vibe there was wonderful. There was dancing and music to enjoy in this hotel. We walked there and then to a rooftop bar. Actually, we went on foot almost everywhere and felt very safe.

Of course we had to try local foods, too; the mofongo and plantains were fantastic and they can be served multiple ways. The food was just incredible! I can’t say enough about it. We walked downtown and stopped at random local restaurants that had great vibes and ate our way through the city.

The beaches were breathtaking and always had a light breeze. I rented a paddle board while I was visiting. It was so much fun and great to see the island from the water. The water was crystal clear and a beautiful aqua blue color. 

I was only there for a few days for a girls trip, but I definitely want to go back to explore the national forest and do some hiking and kayaking. Puerto Rico is known for its bioluminescent algae night kayak tour and El Yunque National Forest. These are two things I will most certainly do when I return next time. There are so many tour options for all different activity levels so everyone can enjoy the views and beautiful wildlife PR has to offer.

I did sightsee in Old San Juan and loved the old architecture and history that the city had to offer. You can walk along the coast where you will see many stray cats hanging around, and they may even follow your path for a while. 

You can take a ferry ride to the rum distillery. Ferries also go to St. Thomas, where you can go explore the beautiful island for the day. I highly recommend this if you have enough time during your stay in Puerto Rico.

I hope you will add this beautiful island to your travel list of must-sees and I know I’m so excited to make my plans to head back soon.

Remember that Off the Grid Missions is looking for donations and volunteers to help maximize this effort. If you are interested, please reach out to [email protected]

In addition, any books or products (both children’s and romance series) purchased through Katie Melko, a percentage of those proceeds will go towards this cause!

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find me here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

waterfalls in the us
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Waterfalls for the Summer

waterfall blog post

With summertime officially in our laps, I wanted to share some of the top waterfalls in the country. Take the whole family, or go on your own to reset in the beauty of nature! Here are 10 waterfalls in the continental US that you should visit.

McWay Falls – Big Sur, California

Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWay Falls is an 80-foot straight drop into the Pacific Ocean. There’s an option to take a shorter hike to get to the falls, or you can take the scenic hike and see amazing views along the California coast!

Silver Falls State Park – Sublimity, Oregon

In Silver Falls State Park, there is a 7.2-mile long trail where you can experience 10 different waterfalls in a row! It’s called the Trail of Ten Falls (for good reasons). A big crowd pleaser along the trail is South Falls. You can walk behind it!

Cumberland Falls – Corbin, Kentucky

Cumberland Falls is sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the South” due to it being a 125-foot wide beauty. You can either view this waterfall from a pair of viewing platforms conveniently located off the highway or you can hike the trails for a day filled with fun!

Niagara Falls – New York

We couldn’t leave out the actual Niagara Falls! A visit here is on most people’s bucket lists. This location is made up of three breath-taking waterfalls, two American and one Canadian. It marks the point where the Niagara River flows over the Niagara Escarpment.

Havasu Falls – Supai, Arizona

Located in the middle of the Grand Canyon’s orange sandstone, Havasu Falls is a wonderful experience. There are several great hiking opportunities and the striking color contrasts will have you in absolute awe!

Whitewater Falls – Sapphire, North Carolina

This gorgeous waterfall is the tallest in the Eastern US standing at 811 feet. There are two observation decks to utilize to gaze upon the multi-tiered waterfall which breaks over a series of jutting rocks. The upper deck has an easier access point, but the lower deck is considered to have better views.

Bushkill Falls – Bushkill, Pennsylvania

Bushkill Falls is made up of a series of eight cascades in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains. As you hike a network of trails with a variety of difficulty levels, you can bask in all the waterfall glories. These falls are open seasonally from March through November.

Palouse Falls – Washtucna, Washington

Thousands of people visit Palouse Falls each year to see this 186-foot drop of a waterfall. You can wonder at it from many different viewpoints scattered around Palouse Falls State Park. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can peer down upon it from a trail hugging the canyon rim or get up close to the water from behind protective railings! This is a great bucket list item for anyone wandering the north-western part of the country.

Multnomah Falls – Bridal Veil, Oregon

Multnomah Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Oregon and it’s not hard to see why. This ginormous fall has a 20th-century stone bridge that some say offers the best views. You can plan a trip around this waterfall visit alone or you can add in a trip to the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge!

Calf Creek Falls – Escalante, Utah

You can find Calf Creek Falls in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The falls are broken up into an upper and lower portion with the lower portion being the favorite. You can experience a relaxing and relatively flat six-mile hike full round. This is a perfect stop for a nice summer day!

 

 

 

What are your favorite waterfalls? Put them in the comments below!

Remember that Off the Grid Missions is looking for donations and volunteers to help maximize it’s non-profit organization effort. If you are interested, please reach out to [email protected]

In addition, any books or products (both children’s and romance series) purchased through Katie Melko, a percentage of those proceeds will go towards this cause!   If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find my romance page here, my children’s book series here, and the non-profit organization here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

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Last Minute Memorial Day Trips

Do you suddenly have free time this Memorial Day weekend? As the weather starts reflecting summertime more and more, the urge to book getaway trips are rising as well. Here is a list of a few of the best spots that either have in-person activities to celebrate Memorial Day or have great ways to kick off the summer with outdoor adventures. Check out some of these great places for a last minute trip to have fun and relax!

Waterloo, NY Did you know that Memorial Day has a home town? The idea to celebrate the fallen was first suggested in 1865 and then was made a formal holiday, later, by General John Logan. In present days, the celebration includes a parade, illumination ceremonies, a downtown Waterloo historical scavenger hunt, and so much more! Some forms of celebration are still on hold while everyone still tries to keep safe. But there is still plenty to dive into while you’re there!
Miami, FL If the beach is more your scene, check out Miami! This beach city comes alive even more during the Memorial Day weekend. Events include music, fireworks, the Flamingo Gardens Memorial Day Kidz Fest (which has it’s Big Bugs exhibit opening this weekend), and more! Amongst the festivities, take a break at the beaches where you can still socially distance while basking in the sun.
Washington, D.C. One of the more obvious spots to celebrate Memorial Day is Washington, D.C. where the largest Memorial Day parade in the country is held! This year, the parade will be filmed for television only, and will not be open to the public. But it will still be an event you won’t want to miss watching! “And for the first time, the American Veterans Center is proud to present a very special Independence Day television companion: Our Sacred Honor: An American Salute. Televised on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW stations nationwide, the National Memorial Day Parade and Our Sacred Honor commemorate the shared values of service and sacrifice that have brought us together throughout our history.”
Denver, CO During Memorial Day weekend, Denver is a great place to go for the Colorado Music & Arts Festival that takes place in Centennial Center Park. There you can experience live music, great food, and so much more! Everything is put together with COVID safety in mind.
Seattle, WA The Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle celebrates Memorial Day by featuring more than 800 musical performances in multiple genres. It also includes events such as cultural dance workshops, storytelling sessions, film screenings, cooking demonstrations, and conversation panels about the arts. You can even join in during some of these events!
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, remember to stay safe!   Remember that Off the Grid Missions is looking for donations and volunteers to help maximize it’s non-profit organization effort. If you are interested, please reach out to [email protected]   In addition, any books or products (both children’s and romance series) purchased through Katie Melko, a percentage of those proceeds will go towards this cause!   If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find my romance page here and my children’s book series here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!
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Paradise Travel

“Bon Bini” From Aruba

In 2018, I had the pleasure of traveling to Aruba for 7 days and had quite a few eye-opening experiences that I wanted to share with you! “Biba Dushi” is a popular phrase you’ll hear while you’re in Aruba, and it simply means Living a sweet life. I couldn’t agree more. The island is full of very friendly, helpful, and joyful people that speak five languages by the time they graduate from high school. It is not only a beautiful island, but a very safe one to travel to. While I was there we went everywhere by foot or taxi, and not once did I feel unsafe. The food and the views were exceptional and the staff was no different. We stayed at the beautiful Hilton Resort on the beach and it was breathtaking. Make sure to put Sunset Grille on your dinner list- it’s a must while staying there.

Hilton Resort
Sunset Grille

While visiting Aruba, I fell in love with photography. I have since then bought a Canon Rebel T6 to support this new found love. I honestly couldn’t get enough of it. The views never grew old. Every morning, I would get up around 7:30 AM and work out on the beach by jogging while the island was pretty asleep. This is when I got some of my best shots, and I also got some much-needed me-time that helped rejuvenate me. I even read a book that wasn’t about my career for the first time in a long time, and it was wonderful.

While I was away, I was able to focus on my thoughts, goals, and future. It helped me to find myself again and reignite that passion inside of me. I was ready to jump back into things when I got home from my trip and hit the ground running. This was exciting for me, because sometimes you lose your focus or have set backs. It’s important to take time for yourself; put the energy and focus back on you to refuel. Take time for you!

If you ever get the pleasure of visiting Aruba- Pinchos was my favorite restaurant. It was on the water, and the sunset was breathtaking. We took a short cab ride and it’s a simple walk down a dock to get to this oasis. The food was devine and the staff was amazing. 

Pinchos

While I was there, we made sure to add some adventure into our relaxing trip, I went parasailing and was able to see sea turtles. The views were amazing as well. I rented a jet ski and got my fill of adventure as I crashed through the waves. I did a sunset cruise and got some amazing pictures and a view of the island from the water. The sense of escapade and the finding me again feeling was in full force. Just remember to be safe and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are alone. If you can, take a morning excursion to the natural pool in the National Park Arikok. And lastly, go into town and experience the local shops. You wont regret it!

Sunset Cruise

Next time I go back, and yes I will absolutely be returning. I want to hike Hooiberg; it is a volcanic foundation that is the highest point of the island and quite a work out from what I’ve heard. I will visit the lighthouse and take an excursion out to Renaissance Island with the flamingos. There is so much more adventure in Aruba and I can’t wait to go back and experience it. I highly recommend Aruba as a great girls trip, romantic trip and even family friendly vacation. 

Renaissance Island

Some travel tips:

  • Give yourself a solid three hours at the airport when you leave- time to get through customs and to your gate without feeling down to the wire
  • Bring an external charger
  • Adhere to liquid guidelines for carry-on’s so you don’t lose any souvenirs
  • Relax and enjoy

Remember that Off the Grid Missions is looking for donations and volunteers to help maximize this effort. If you are interested, please reach out to [email protected]

In addition, any books or products (both children’s and romance series) purchased through Katie Melko, a percentage of those proceeds will go towards this cause!

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find my romance page here and my children’s book series here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

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Non Profit Feature

Do you know a child who is afraid of the dentist? Take a look at the book that started my Paw Elementary series journey! Your kid can go on an adventure with Roxy as she talks to her family and friends about the dentist and see how she overcomes her fears.

Roxy’s school announces that a dentist would be coming to check everyone’s teeth!

We see that Roxy is really nervous to experience this. But if this was your first time interacting with a dentist, wouldn’t you be too?

Follow her through the book and see how happy she is about her journey! Do you think this is a great way to help handle children’s fear of the dentist?

Some areas, both locally and globally, still aren’t able to have as pleasant of experiences involving their teeth. 12 Paws Publishing, LLC is proud to partner with its sister company, Off the Grid Missions, to assist in this matter!

This non profit organization will be working to promote literacy while providing resources, supplies, education, and care across the globe. Working locally in Connecticut, Off the Grid Missions will continuously be providing outreach care in communities and looking for ways to help people. In October 2021, supplies will be brought to a church in the Dominican Republic for families in need. And in December 2021/January 2022, you will see Off the Grid Missions in Tanzania with supplies and resources to provide oral hygiene products, books, and toys for children.

Off the Grid Missions is looking for donations and volunteers to help maximize this effort. If you are interested, please reach out to [email protected]

In addition, any books or products (both children’s and romance series) purchased through Katie Melko, a percentage of those proceeds will go towards this cause!

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find my romance page here and my children’s book series here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!

Would you like the possibility to see your shop featured in my blog? Comment your shop or business below!

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Local Shop Feature

Do you love plants? Do you want a way to show how fun gardening can be to a child? In my newest children’s book, Paw Elementary: Luna Plants a Garden, Luna is thrilled for spring time and the chance to plant a garden with her friends at school!

We follow her through this exciting adventure! Her school is wanting to be decorated with all sorts of plants!

Luna brings new friends into the group and makes sure that any fears about gardening are overcome!

Don’t you think this is a great way to introduce plants and gardening to your little ones? If you don’t know which plants to start with, have I got a shop for you! Check out CB Flora, owned by Kelly Wasko, to find plants of all kinds!

Here’s a blurb about her: “When I’m not with family or in my greenhouse, I am a registered nurse and graduate student–talk about the busy life! I truly believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to and I’m determined to pass along tranquility and joy through plants. I know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed in a hectic world with limited time and I want to share the relaxation planting brings me, with you!”

Located in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, local customers can pick up directly from the shop or CB Flora can ship all over the US! They restock on a bi-weekly basis. These are just a few of the options in stock right now:

Would you like the possibility to see your shop featured in my blog? Comment your shop or business below!

If you are not following me on Instagram, you can find my romance page here and my children’s book series here. And if you would like updates on everything that’s going on with both my romance books and my children’s book series, sign up for my newsletters!