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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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Featured Writer: Beth Blair




Beth Blair (AKA: Elizabeth L. Blair) is a former flight attendant turned freelance writer specializing in travel, parenting, and narrative non-fiction. Beth writes  the monthly USATourist News Magazine for, an online travel guide translated into five languages, and she is one of the four "mamas" at, a site dedicated to family travel, romantic escapes, girlfriend getaways, solo trips, and anything else travel related.


Beth's work has appeared in various print and online publications including the Christian Science Monitor, Central Penn Parent, and Long Island Mothers Journal. She has contributed to nine anthologies including the Simple Pleasures series, Haunted Encounters series, They Lied! True Tales of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Breastfeeding, Open My Eyes, Open My Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul (below).


Beth lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, two preschoolers, and two teenage stepsons. Please learn more about Beth at


Popping the Question - A Bride's Proposal Story

By: Elizabeth L. Blair


It was a typical Tucson winter day, cool and sunny. I met my boyfriend for lunch at a sandwich shop near the college I was attending. We had limited time so we ate quickly. Jeff had to get back to work; his afternoon would be busy. Before parting, Jeff asked if I wanted to go to Happy Hour that evening. I agreed and we kissed goodbye.

That afternoon biology class was dismissed early. I jumped into my car to drive home, change clothes, and freshen up before our date. As I headed up the ramp to the freeway, my cell phone rang.

"I'm off early. Had to go to the post office and bank," Jeff explained. He was in his car only minutes ahead of me.

"Isn't this great! We have plans and we both got out early!"

"Where are you?" Jeff asked.

"Still a couple of miles behind you." I gave him my cross streets.

Jeff suddenly interjected, "I'm sorry I haven't been very romantic lately."

"No, I guess you haven't." I shrugged. "But we've been busy, it's okay."

"Valentine's Day is coming up. I promise to do something romantic, at least get you a card."

"That's a start."

"Where are you now?" He asked, more impatiently. I looked at the street signs and read them off to him. "Well, hurry up. I want to get to Happy Hour."

We had plenty of time. Why the hurry? He was acting so strange.

"I can meet you at the restaurant if you prefer," I suggested. "Or, if we meet at the house we can ride together and catch up on our day." He agreed, and we hung up again.

My cell phone rang again.

"Beth, I just got home. What happened to the garage door? Did you break it this morning?" The garage door was our main entry to the house.

"It was fine when I left. Maybe your automatic opener isn't working?" Minutes later I pulled beside Jeff's pearl white Acura in our driveway. I repeatedly pressed the button on my garage opener. Nothing. With a shrug, I walked up to the front door and turned the knob.

As I stepped into the living room my jaw dropped and my eyes grew big. A camera flashed.

I was swimming in a sea of balloons. Balloons on the floor. Balloons on the ceiling. Dozens and dozens hundreds of colorful balloons. Jazz music played in the background.

After my eyes adjusted, I saw Jeff was sitting on the couch, camera in hand. He said, "You said I wasn't very romantic, so I decided to whip something up."

Still in shoc k, I trudged through the balloons to hug him. I felt like I was in slow motion.

Jeff nodded toward the coffee table. "You have something to open." There sat a bucket with a champagne bottle on ice, two crystal champagne flutes, two candles, and a blue ribbon tied around a little blue box.

I picked up the box and slowly pulled the ribbon. Inside was a ring box. I lifted the lid and found a gold stickpin? I looked at Jeff with raised eyebrows.

He folded his arms across his chest, settled back, and grinned. "It looks like you have some popping to do."

"What? " I looked around the room. "Oh!"

Not wasting a moment, I grabbed the pin and began sticking balloons. Laughing all the while, I searched for "the" balloon. But there were so many, I finally started shaking them and throwing them to the side.

"Don't forget there are balloons on the ceiling," Jeff reminded me. I looked up.

"How am I ever going to find it?"

After an eternity, I shook a red balloon. Something rattled! When I poked it with my gold stickpin, shiny heart-shaped confetti cascaded around me. A blue ring bag fell to the carpet.

Trembling, I tipped it open until a ring fell into my hand. Jeff gently took it and urged me to sit on the couch.

"You know me. I have to do this the traditional way." As he lowered himself to one knee, his brown eyes gazed into mine. He asked me to be his wife and slipped the princess cut diamond on my finger. After my eager "Yes!" and many kisses later, Jeff said, "Oh and by the way we are not going to Happy Hour."



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