Thursday, December 14, 2017

National Ugly Sweater Day

Tomorrow, December 15, is National Ugly Sweater Day .... who makes up these holidays?  Perhaps the producers of Bridget Jones' Diary.  Early in the film, Bridget returns home for her mother's annual curry buffet only to meet a childhood friend, Mark Darcy, in an ugly sweater he received from his own mother.  Then again, Bridget's own mother asked her to wear the ghastly "wallpaper" outfit. 

In fact, the Brits celebrate Christmas Jumper Day on December 15, too - jumper is their word for a pullover sweater.  Alas, we all have ugly sweaters hidden in the back of our closets.  So now is the time to pull them out.  From the website Time and Date (link), 

How to Celebrate?

Take that ugly sweater out and wear it in public, chances are, you won’t be the only one wearing the Rudolph sweater grandma made for you ten years ago.

Don’t have an ugly sweater? Make one of your own. Bedazzle an old or thrifted sweater, add embroidered holiday motifs and some sequins, and voila, you are ready for Ugly Sweater Day.

Host an ugly sweater party. Have your guests contribute to charity and hold an ugly sweater competition. The person flaunting the ugliest sweater goes home with the top prize.

Let's get in a festive mood - tell me about your holiday traditions, including those that are religious, secular, or wacky.  One randomly selected commenter wins a swag pack.  Comments are open through Sunday, December 31, 2017, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Monday, January 1, 2018.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Remembering "Infamy" with Pamela Clare and BREAKING POINT

Today is the 76th Anniversary of the "date which will live in infamy". The Japanese targeted numerous military sites on the island of Oahu, including Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field, Barbers Point, and Kaneohe Bay.  As most of you know, I lived on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam from 2009-2013.  It was an unique opportunity to pay tribute each year to the military and civilians who responded valiantly to the surprise attack.  

After meeting romance author Pamela Clare (link) in 2010, I learned her Uncle Joe was aboard the USS Utah, a training ship, when it sunk on December 7, 1941.  In 2011, she published BREAKING POINT, Book 5 in her I Team series ... and she asked me to review it.  At first I was hesitant; Romantic Suspense is not my preferred genre.  However, I loved this book ... and I read portions of it to Uncle Joe as I sat on the deck overlooking the USS Utah.  I think he loved the book, too.

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USS Utah Memorial in Pearl Harbor

Yesterday, Pamela posted this on her Facebook page:

I was reminded of the power of romantic fiction last night when a reader friend told me she'd been inspired by BREAKING POINT (I-Team #5) to become a nurse so she could work with people suffering from PTSD. Zach, the hero of that novel, had PTSD from combat experience as a SEAL in Afghanistan.

My reader announced has completed her nurse's training and now has a job helping people like Zach.

In honor of Danielle's fantastic achievement, here's an excerpt from BREAKING POINT.

Check out her Facebook page for the excerpt at this link.


I thank Pamela for posting this tribute to her reader ... and her reader for serving our veterans.  As we take time to remember Pearl Harbor (and the other sites on Oahu), let us live a life that honors their sacrifices.  

I am giving away Hawaiian swag to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about WWII - do you have a favorite book (any genre), TV show, or movie from this time period?

My father, a Korean Era Army veteran, loved HOGAN'S HEROES.

2.  Comments are open through Sunday, December 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Monday, January 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Check out my review of BREAKING POINT at this link.

Check out a guest post from Pamela about Uncle Jo at this link.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Aloha to Tina Kashian and HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE (Kebab Kitchen Mystery No. 1) - Book Review


When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she's getting--the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family's Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn't on the menu . . .

Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn't mind. She doesn't even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It's fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who's married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school . . . and unfortunately, she's just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen--where she's tallied up a whole list of bogus violations--she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it's homicide, and Lucy's the number one suspect . . .

Tina Kashian spent her childhood summers at the New Jersey shore, building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business where her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. She worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager.

After college, Tina worked as a NJ Deputy Attorney General, a patent attorney, and a mechanical engineer. Her love of reading fiction for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit and join her Newsletter to enter free contests to win books, get delicious recipes, and to learn when her books will be released.

Image from Wikipedia (link)

The emotive power of hummus all over the Middle East cannot be overstated, being the focus of some serious tribal rivalries.

- Yotam Ottolenghi

Rivalry prompts patent attorney Lucy Berberian to quit her job in Philadelphia and return home to her multicultural family in Ocean Crest, New Jersey. Rivalry rears its ugly head again when Lucy argues with Heather Banks, a high school mean girl turned corrupt town health inspector. Just as Lucy sets out to protect her family's restaurant from further violations, Heather is poisoned after eating at the Kebab Kitchen's new hummus bar. Lucy becomes the prime suspect and the restaurant looses customers, jeopardizing her parents' retirement plans.  Alas, Lucy sets out to solve the mystery with help from her family, friends, and even a mobster.

Kashian draws upon her own experience of the Jersey shore to deliver a cozy mystery with a touch of nostalgia for the boardwalk. Kashian molds Lucy into a flawed, but lovable, heroine.  While Lucy may be an educated lawyer, she is not quite the slealthy detective, leading to predictable hijinks as she steps on a few toes. But Kashian excels with her diverse cast of characters, celebrating the unique heritage of the immigrants who built our country ... and made delicious food!

Kashian, like Lucy, is embarking on a new career.  As a seasoned romance writer (Tina Gabrielle, link), Kashian takes on cozy mysteries like a pro.  I look forward to reading more from the Kebab Kitchen!

I received an Advance Review Copy (ARC) from Kensington to review.

I am giving away "beach swag" to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1. Where is your favorite beach?  What is your favorite beach food?  What is your favorite beach activity?  Outside of Hawaii, I enjoy walking on Clearwater Beach and collecting sea shells.  I indulge in ice cream to beat the heat!

2. Comments are open through Sunday, December 31, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, January 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Clearwater Beach (link)

Friday, December 1, 2017


We have winners at SOS Aloha:

- Molly, Danielle D., Mary, and Jane wins swag plus a leather Scottish castle bookmark!

I am also a winner this weekend - tomorrow, I am attending the Scottish Christmas Walk in Alexandria, Virginia.  From its website (link),

For the 47th consecutive year, we proudly present The Campagna Center's Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Enjoy marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and much more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wolfe Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert. The parade will take place rain or shine.

How about you - any plans for the weekend?  I am giving away swag to four randomly selected commenters to the posts in December.  Comments are open through Sunday, December 31, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Monday, January 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Potomac Valley Shetland Sheepdog Club, Inc. (link)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Aloha to St. Andrew's Day

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November 30 is St. Andrew's Day - a celebration of Scotland's patron saint. From,

A Galilean fisherman, he was one of Jesus’s 12 apostles, and was known for being strong, sociable and fair, encouraging people to share what they had with those in need. These are characteristics which people all over the word recognise in Scots, and of which Scots are rightly proud.

On the 30th of November, 60AD, St Andrew is believed to have been crucified on a diagonal cross, a shape which provided the inspiration for the flag named after him – Scotland’s Saltire, which has a white diagonal cross over a blue background.

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Alas, St. Andrew has inspired the hashtag #BeLikeStAndrew:

This St Andrew’s Day is going to be something really special. On November 30, Scotland is coming together to share little acts of kindness with each other in tribute to our kind and generous patron saint.

Check out the ideas for "little acts of kindness" at this link.  

There is something about romance books - historical, contemporary, and fantasy - that are set in Scotland.  Can you recommend a Scottish set book?  I recommend:

- Cathy Maxwell's THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT (Scottish Regency)

He was a man exiled from society -- handsome, unpredictable, and proud. Dark rumors surrounded his name. But Anne Burnett had signed a marriage contract binding her to Aiden Black, the Earl of Tiebauld. And although she'd never met him, she's determined to keep her word and make theirs a marriage in truth. Because a well-bred lady with little fortune to recommend her has no choice. 

From the moment she arrived, Anne fell in love with Kelwin Castle and its roguishly handsome laird. By day, he instills a fierce loyalty in his people with his masterful ways...and by night, he tempts Anne to surrender her innocence to him. But while he is willing to offer his body. Aiden refuses to give Anne his heart...making her wonder what prevents him from truly claiming her as his wife.

Note:  This was my first romance book I read ... 10 years later, I am still reading romance!

- Lynn Kurland's GARDEN IN THE RAIN (Time Travel):

Patrick MacLeod is haunted by his past, by events he had no control over and wishes desperately he could change. He hasn’t the heart for love, nor the time for rescuing maidens in distress of their own making. Until he sees a woman who touches his heart and stirs his soul...and makes him believe love might be possible again after all.

For Madelyn Phillips, Scotland is the land of dreams, filled with magic, romance, and handsome Highland lords. Unfortunately, the reality of her dream vacation is no car, no luggage, and a pesky ex-fiancĂ© determined to shadow her every move. She thinks her dreaming is in vain until she sees a man standing on a windswept moor, a Highlander full of secrets and longing, and knows she has seen her destiny. 

- Cathy Maxwell's THE DEVIL'S HEART (Scottish Regency with Paranormal Elements)

They call her the Unattainable. Lady Margaret Chattan spurned every suitor for her hand, vowing never to marry. The only way to break the curse plaguing her family for two centuries is this ultimate sacrifice. But now her brothers' lives are in danger. Determined to save them, she risks her very soul by traveling into the heart of the highlands to battle a force that has transcended time.

Heath Macnachtan is not superstitious. Laird of the most independent, nonconforming, madly infuriating clan ever to grace Scotland, he believes he has his hands full. And then, a woman lauded as one of the most beautiful in England, arrives on his doorstep with wild accusations and a mystical quest . . . one that just might help him discover who murdered his own brother.

But the real danger for Heath and Margaret is not a supernatural foe, but a very real love that could destroy them both.


One randomly selected commenter wins Scottish swag.  Comments are open through Sunday, December 31, 2017. I'll post the winner on Monday, January 1, 2017.

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Aloha to Willa Blair and HIS HIGHLAND BRIDE - Release Day Blitz


We are 48 hours away from St. Andrew's Day on Thursday, November 30. Enter Willa Blair and her new release, HIS HIGHLAND BRIDE (Book 3 in His Highland Heart series) ...

A Dutiful Daughter No More

When Mary Elizabeth Rose’s father marries a much younger lass in hopes of siring a male heir, Mary sees her chance to escape her role as his chatelaine, but fears his next step will be to betroth her to a stranger. She has a different future in mind—with a sometimes charming, sometimes difficult and arrogant wounded Highlander.

He Owes Her His Life

Cameron Sutherland is not too delirious to recognize Mary Rose is the first woman he could seriously consider taking as his bride. He’d like nothing better than to spend years repaying the debt he owes his angel of mercy for taking him in and saving his life. First, he must convince her to defy her father one last time.

Will They Put Love Before Duty?

For Mary, Cameron has become the man whose every smile has the power to bring her to her knees. But he is as duty-bound as she is, and responsibility calls him back to Sutherland, where she fears he will stay, forgetting her and all they’ve shared. With another powerful clan’s interests at stake, Cameron’s return sets events in motion that will have life-changing consequences for the woman he can’t forget.


Willa Blair is an Award-winning Amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 Bestselling author of Scottish Historical, light Paranormal, and Contemporary romance. She has been featured on and contributes to USAToday’s Happy Ever After romance blog, Savvy Authors, Romance University, and more.

Her books have won numerous honors, including the Marlene, the Merritt, National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, The Reader’s Crown finalist, Historical Romance finalist and Honorable Mention in InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE Award, NightOwl Reviews Top Pick, and InD’tale Review’s Crowned Heart.

A life-long student and reader, she has been a stained glass artist and instructor, a foreign language teacher, a computer scientist, an analyst, a manager and an executive. She has visited five continents and can get by in several languages. She loves scouting new settings for books, and thinks being an author is the best job she’s ever had.


I am giving away "Scottish Swag" to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about Scotland - do you have a favorite food, drink, place, and/or person from Alba?

I adore shortbread cookies.  I didn't meet a crumbling castle I didn't love.  I admire Eric Liddell:

Eric Liddell (1902 – 1945) was a Scottish Olympic champion at 400 m and a famous Christian missionary; his inspirational life was captured in the film ‘Chariots of Fire‘

2. Comments are open through Sunday, December 31, 2017.  

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, January 1, 2017.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Eric Liddell.jpg

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Aloha to Nancy Lee Badger and WITH EVERY KISS (An Opportunity Falls Novel)

Nancy Lee Badger joins us today for a sneak peak to WITH EVERY KISS ...

My newly released contemporary romance novel is about an artist bored with city life and a Manhattan lawyer itching to escape his father’s control. They meet briefly, then meet up again in a New Hampshire campground. Creating the story was easy; I grew up in the shadow of New York City, enjoying high school trips to art galleries in Manhattan.

I fell in love with the rural life of New England while attending art school. The mountains and waterfalls were lovely and romantic.

Several visits, later in life, to campgrounds alongside New England rivers and lakes helped me visualize the settings found in With Every Kiss; an Opportunity Falls novel.

A recent trip from my current home in North Carolina took me through New England. I gazed at the mountains, rivers, wildlife, and autumn leaves that reminded me why I had written this book. A trip across the Long Island Sound on a Ferry, a visit with family, and a couple of cemeteries, was a blast from the past. We visited the home I left to head off to college in New Hampshire when I was 17 (many years ago!).

A quick Wikipedia factoid – The city of Manhattan currently has a population of 1.6 million, whereas the entire state of New Hampshire has only 1.3 million. Talk about culture shock!

Heading back to North Carolina, our drive took us through traffic near Kennedy Airport, busy Brooklyn neighborhoods, then over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island. New Jersey looked as congested as ever, and we stopped for the night near Baltimore. I miss both New Hampshire and Manhattan already!

*a personal note- With Every Kiss: an Opportunity Falls novel was released November 3rd. Since this is also my birthday month, I am giving away an Artist’s Assortment of Goodies. No purchase necessary, and it ends November 18th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Learn more about Nancy Lee Badger, all her books, and buy links by visiting her blog at


Also available from Opportunity Falls 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy 242nd Birthday, United States Marine Corps!

Public Domain (link)

Join me in celebrating the United States Marine Corps' 242nd birthday ...

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
On the land as on the sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in ev’ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Aloha to Misty Simon and CREMAINS OF THE DAY (Tallie Graver Mystery Book 1)


During the New Jersey Romance Writers (NJRW) conference, I had the privilege to meet the vivacious Misty Simon.  From her bio,

Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and three insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at

We enjoyed dinner with a group of friends ... I learned over pasta that Misty has a Hawaiian connection. I'll invite her back to chat about that.  Meanwhile, Misty has a new book in a new series - CREMAINS OF THE DAY was released October 31.  What a title for Halloween!

There's no reverse on the hearse . . .

For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home. But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet. As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn't have to be around dead bodies. Until . . . 

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest. This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences: Tallie's friend Gina's shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she's receiving flowers from the dead woman. Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that's enough to cast a pall over anyone's day. Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess--before she finds herself in a grave situation.

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Surf Hearse from Pinterest

Misty send me a copy of CREMAINS OF THE DAY .... review to come!  For November, I continue to giveaway RWA swag to four randomly selected winners from all the comments posted. Plus a bonus prize - a leather bookmark for each winner from one of Scotland's castles in honor of St. Andrew's Day on November 30. To enter the giveaway,

1.  In the opening chapter of CREMAINS OF THE DAY, Tallie visits Gina's coffee shop and enjoys Whoopie Pie - a New England treat that looks like an oversized oreo cookie.  Have you tried Whoopie Pie?  Or do you have a favorite local sweet treat?  

I have not enjoyed Whoopie Pie ... yet.  But I have devoured Berger Cookies - a Baltimore favorite!

2. Comments are open through Thursday, November 30, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, December 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Double Header with Washington Romance Writers - Military Workshop and Blogger Panel

Saturday, November 11, is Veterans Day. I will be spending the holiday with the Washington Romance Writers (WRW) offering my expertise (wink, wink).  From their website (link):

Join WRW for our meeting on Saturday, November 11, 2017. In honor of Veterans’ Day, the program features a military panel in the morning followed by an afternoon session on how to build successful relationships with bloggers, reviewers, and librarians.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Service Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

10:00am – 12:00pm: Reporting for Duty–An Intimate Chat with Military Veterans and Family Members
12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch
1:30pm – 3:30pm: Great Expectations–Building Successful Relationships with Bloggers, Reviewers, and Librarians

Morning Session:
Military veterans and family members share their experience to ensure military characters are accurately portrayed in romance novels. The panel will teach writers how to decipher military acronyms, identify ranks from the five services, and safely carry a weapon. There will be time for Q&A.

Panel guests include:
Kim Lowe, Moderator– Air Force Veteran and Spouse
Rheanna Bernard – Air Force spouse
Stephanie Brenninkmeyer – Air Force spouse and Subject Matter Expert (SME)
Tif Marcelo – Army Veteran and Spouse
Tamara Worlton – Navy active duty
Delancey Stewart – Marine Corps Spouse

Plus special guest Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) David P. Smay, USMC.

Afternoon Session:
Our panel of librarians, reviewers, and bloggers offer a round table discussion, ala Cheers, to share their perspective of the romance industry. Each panelist came to Romanceland along a different path but collectively they agree that a romance book needs to grab the attention of the reader and deliver the hope expected from this genre. We will discuss how we were hooked onto romance and what keeps us coming back for more. We will also dissect how authors connect with readers through websites, social media, and book signings. Finally, we offer tips on how to maximize your exposure through libraries, review sites, and blogs. We will set aside time at the end to answer questions from the audience.

Panel guests include:
Kim Lowe, Moderator – SOS Aloha Book Blog
Rheanna Bernard – Cammo Style Love Blog
Madeline Iva – Lady Smut Blog
Rae Latte – Books I Love A Latte
Melissa Norr – Washington DC Librarian

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If you live within driving distance of Washington, DC, come join us! I have a few surprises for all who attend, Of course I'll post a recap here at SOS Aloha.

For November, I continue to giveaway RWA swag to four randomly selected winners from all the comments posted. Plus a bonus prize - a leather bookmark for each winner from one of Scotland's castles in honor of St. Andrew's Day on November 30. To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about either panel,

a.What do you like (and not like) about how romance portrays military characters?  Do you think romance books featuring military characters should be accurate?

b. What do you like (and not like) about book blogs? Any advice on the best way to reach readers (and keep their attention) on social media?

2. Comments are open through Thursday, November 30, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, December 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Being Thankful - Sharing Romance with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

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During the RWA Annual Conference back in July, I attended several publishers' signings.  I asked the authors to sign books as "Thanks for your service."  I have donated these books (plus books from other conferences) to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to distribute to the staff, patients, and families. 

 Avon Romance

Berkley Romance

Forever Romance

Harlequin Romance

Kensington Romance

Pocket Books

St. Martin's Press 


Mahalo, authors and publishers, for your donations!

For November, I continue to giveaway RWA swag to four randomly selected winners from all the comments posted. Plus a bonus prize - a leather bookmark for each winner from one of Scotland's castles in honor of St. Andrew's Day on November 30.  To enter the giveaway,

1. Do you have any family or friends who are veterans? I know I have asked this question several times, but we can never thank them enough times. 

2. Comments are open through Thursday, November 30, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Friday, December 1.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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