Five For Friday, Plus It's My Birthday (and I'm Giving You Books!)

It's my birthday! I'm actually not a huge birthday celebration person (except on all important milestone birthday), but I wanted to use today as an excuse to give something back to my readers! But first, my darling friend Alexandra Haughton just started a new feature on her website. She's calling it Five for Friday, and I love it as an idea to share some of the best things she's run across during the week.

1) My best friend is getting married this fall, and so we went shopping for the bridesmaids. Her wedding is going to be a beautiful Hindu-Greek Orthodox blended ceremony, and the women will all wear saris. This was my first time trying on a sari, and I was almost overwhelmed by how many beautiful options there are (as well as how quickly the women in the shops could whip me in and out of them). We think we narrowed it down to a few great options, got some snapshots for the other ladies in the bridal party, and I just know it's going to be a beautiful wedding to an incredible guy.

2) I made this fantastic banana bread on Monday night because I had a bunch of bananas that was rapidly getting too ripe on the counter. It came out perfect, and I've been eating it for breakfast all week. Sometimes it's the simple things.

3) I'm trying out Dragon Anywhere, an iPad and iPhone app that allows you to dictate long strings of text. Since I can speak faster than I can type, my hope is that this will help me get my first drafts down a little quick after some (admittedly hilarious) days learning how to retrain my brain for dictation.

4) The Bachelor is back! I know I'm late to the party (the show premiered during the last push for me to get edits in for my upcoming contemporary sports romance), but I'm already sucked in thanks to the NYC winter sending me inside for long runs at the gym. For those of you who don't know, I've never been a Bachelor watcher, but I've loved The Bachelorette. However I can already tell I'm going to have a hard time resisting the soapy, dramatic goodness of the highly staged reality show.

5) And finally for the birthday part. I've got a stack of paperbacks — some signed by their authors — to giveaway to readers in celebration of my birthday. You can check out all of the details in the Rafflecopter giveaway below, but you've got six chances to enter. The contest runs until midnight on January 23rd. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway