Guest Author: Lucy Naylor Kubash and The Haunting of Laurel Cove

My guest this month is another author who’s previously visited our blog. Lucy Naylor Kubash is a member of two of my in-person writing groups, the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group and the Michigan Romance Writers. She’s published short stories in Women’s World magazine and she writes a newspaper column called The Pet Corner. She’s also a regular at the Zoom write-ins that I attend. When she announced the release of her new book, I immediately asked her to come and share it with us.

****

It was a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains years ago that first inspired me to write The Haunting of Laurel Cove. I was intrigued by the misty mountains and the old pioneer cabins we saw in the Cade’s Cove drive and knew I had to set a story there. What better kind of story than one with a mystery and a ghost!

To be honest, the first version of the book spent a lot of years hidden away in a drawer. I’d bring it out every now and then, revise it, submit it somewhere, and then put it away again when the editor’s answer was no. It did win an honorable mention in a contest along the way, but I went on to writing other books. When Covid hit and we were stuck home, I decided to make Laurel Cove my pandemic project. Hoping I had learned from my other writing ventures, I rewrote the manuscript one more time. I’m happy to say this version is a Wild Rose Press release tomorrow, December 6. I’m excited about this book and looking forward to its debut.

Blurb for The Haunting of Laurel Cove:
Shattered dreams, family secrets, rekindled love. Which poses the biggest threat to life and sanity to a broken woman trying to heal?

When Jane Stuart returns to the Smoky Mountains and the house she inherited from her grandmother with the hope to heal from a brutal mugging, she finds herself obsessed with a local legend involving a witch and a mysterious cabin.

Upon reconnecting with an old boyfriend now turned handsome environmentalist, she finds herself rekindling her attraction to Brendan McGarren and is drawn into his battle to keep Laurel Cove from becoming a rich man’s playground. As she begins to uncover family secrets pertaining to the witch and the cabin, Jane questions her own sanity. Then the threats begin. Can she trust Brendan?

Will the search for the truth cost Jane her life?

You can find The Haunting of Laurel Cove at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

If you are a library patron, please ask your local library to order The Haunting of Laurel Cove.

ISBN: 978-1-2092-4551-2

Bio: Lucy Naylor Kubash has had a lifelong love of reading and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She is published in short fiction and novel length contemporary romance, as well as nonfiction, having written a column called The Pet Corner for twenty years. She is a member of Michigan Romance Writers, Grand Rapids Region Writers Group, Romance Writers Online, and Women Writing the West. She loves anything to do with the American West, mountains and beaches anywhere, and traveling whenever possible. When not writing she likes to spend time with her family and pets.

You can find Lucy at her website and blog, and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, Bookbub, and Amazon.

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Posted in author's life, Books, experiences, fantasy, Guest, Guest author, Guest author post, Mystery stories, paranormal, Patricia Kiyono | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Christmas, Once Again

“How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?”

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

My mother decorated early. We always got a huge Christmas tree, one carefully selected and as close to prefect as possible. Seriously, my generally tight-fisted, impatient father would take Mom to as many Christmas tree stands as necessary until she was happy with one.

The presents under the tree! Not expensive, but never the cheapest, quality over quantity. When I was little, the beautifully wrapped gifts seemed like, well, Santa  magic! I always got a new doll, though I did not get the other presents that I drooled over in the ads. Still, the ones I got were chosen with care.

Dad also bought everything Mom needed to bake incredible amounts of delicious foods, savory and sweet.  To be fair, no matter how he kept money from her and some of us, we always had plenty of food  and Mom was allowed to bake her heart out all year.

I learned to cook from all of this. Family used to ‘drop in’ (literally) from out of state, family closer always came in, and friends could be there.

I tried to duplicate that myself.

When my mother was still with us and we lived near each other, (fortunately, my family joined us here for my mother’s last years), I made some, she and other members made some of the foods and we made a big feast.

When Mom was gone and my kids got married, we still did that, but like with Thanksgiving, I had a smaller feast ready here and we’d end up at my place for more.

After a while, it was me making mine here, with my kids, grandkids and friends coming in.

I still bake and decorate, but gone are the coworkers of ours who got Christmas goodies. Gone are the open-houses I had when my kids and their friends took piano lessons and I would have a Christmas concert for them to perform here with refreshments afterward. And gone are some of the family, with Son #2, D-in-Law and  Grandtoddler in Nevada; Grandchild #1 with family wherever most of the time , Grandchild #2 with one corner of her family and Son#1 plus Grandchild #3 dropping in.

We never have family from out of town anymore, we never have work-college friends of the Kids anymore.

All of the kids here, (both generations), are way past the ‘let’s read the kiddie Christmas stories’, although the second two, when they visit, have been willing to watch Christmas movies they have not seen. Even the the youngest of them just got her driver’s license and a job, plus she is very active in school, and is taking college courses. I will be surprised if I even see her on Christmas, (she was here for Thanksgiving at least).

The others? I can bribe them with their favorite foods!

I will be decorating this week, maybe  starting today. I will be baking and cooking, I am already planning the baked goods and meal, as I have had received family requests,

but not yet, as with our Thanksgiving having been late, I we still eating food from that feast!

We’ve  given up exchanging gifts among the adults . I get the idea of what the older kids want because it is impossible to guess and I hate for them to be disappointed when they wanted something else, especially with everything costing so much anymore, I can’t afford to be wrong.

I used to love the hustle and bustle of going to major centers and small shops to get just the right presents to suit each member of the family and friends. I don’t understand how people hate that. Even in the real cold and snow, I loved it.

That and everyone joining together is what I miss of our traditions, but I will enjoy making fancy Christmas-only goodies and foods, having my familiar Christmas decorations and my now 39 ear-old little tree around me with all of the soft lights,

and watching our many traditional Christmas movies and shows. It will be quiet, (I HOPE  that it will be quiet. The wrong kind of excitement is not welcome!)

In fact, I’m smiling just thinking about it right now.

I hope this season has you at peace and quietly smiling, as well.

Posted in America, blessings, Christmas, Christmas books, Dealing with stress, decisions, experiences, Family, favorites, food, guests, Holiday, holidays, Life, memories, Miscellaneous, movies, Tonette Joyce, traditions | 6 Comments

Family Traditions Counting Down to Christmas

Well, It Has Varied… a Lot

By Jeff Salter

Topic: How do/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions? [AS]

In preparation for this week’s topic, I re-checked my previous posts which dealt with Christmas. We’ve actually covered [here at 4F1H] quite a bit of territory already… though not this specific question.

The easiest and shortest answer is to say that I’ve experienced several different Christmas traditions, over various periods of my life: as a young child, as a teen still living at home, as a young husband, as a father of young children, as a parent with older children, and as a grandparent. Plus, there were stops along the way.

Having parsed out those different phases of my observation of the Christmas season, perhaps I can share a few memories from each.

As a young child

Some seasons, we all baked cookies, with little decorations of colored sugar or those silver things that looked like BBs. Each of us picked our own cutter designs and did our own decorations, and we kept them in separate boxes [I ate my cookies and my siblings ate theirs].

At least once each season, we would all pack up and go to New Orleans to “shop” … which really was to look at the extravagant decorations, especially those in the Roosevelt Hotel. One of the big city’s stores (Maison Blanche I think) had a goofy character called Mr. Bingle, who pushed the commercialized “spirit.”

I’d spend hours poring over the Sears and Montgomery Wards special Christmas catalogs — wishing and hoping, though realizing there was no chance I’d get anything expensive.

A fond memory is riding with Dad in the station wagon in our annual hunt for a suitable tree. For my ultra-frugal Dad, “suitable” meant free, as he squeezed every penny twice. I clearly remember him just pulling off on the shoulder of a road, and we’d walk into any un-fenced property and hunt down the fullest pine we could find that wasn’t too long to fit inside (or on top of) our vehicle. Often when we got it home we discovered it had a “bad” (flat) side, which Mom would rotate to be against the wall. One of these trees was so pitiful that we sent out to our own nearby woods and cut some extra branches to temporarily “graft” onto our Christmas tree!

As a teen still living at home

The year which really sticks out is Christmas of 1965 when we were in Iowa. I had just turned 15 and has a negligible social life (in this northern clime). I was still part kid and part teen and still found the Christmas catalog compelling. I had seized upon a gift I thought might actually be possible — some sort of primitive race car set. I talked it up with my mom and dad incessantly and must have believed they were actually going to act on it. As Christmas approached, I spotted a gift with my name and it was the size and shape of what COULD BE a low-end race car set. I had somehow deluded myself into believing they came through for me. Alas, when I opened that gift, it was a pitiful, vinyl-covered stadium cushion bearing the name of my high school. I was crushed.

As a young husband

My wife and I had only one Christmas together (before our first child joined us) — 1970. On my newspaper salary we couldn’t afford any gifts for anybody, so we crafted a gift for my folks and one for her folks. We found a little $2 or $3 counter-top tree at a grocery store to put in our little 3-room rental.

As a father of young children

For the Christmas of 1973 I was stationed at McClellen AFB in Sacramento CA and we had one toddler. We were living paycheck to paycheck on about $600 per month. What I recall most about that season was taking the city bus – they had a special “Santa-fare” [ten cents to go anywhere that you didn’t have to change buses]. From the stop near our apartment we could go non-stop to downtown. So, for 30 cents, the three of us traveled to a walking outdoor “mall” in downtown Sacramento and bought a couple of Christmas ornaments. I’m thinking we must have also eaten a minimalist lunch there, but can’t recall what it may have been. Then 30 cents to get us back home.

After my Air Force hitch and by the time we had our second child, I recall most of the Christmases being an effort to split the holiday time between my parents and my in-laws. Sometimes that got stressful. After my parents divorced, it was even more difficult because we then had THREE destinations for the holiday.

I remember a Christmas with my sister and her family in Mississippi… and at least one in which she and her crew stayed with us in Jonesville LA.

As a parent with older children

After many years of packing up our whole family and driving to the in-laws (or to one of my parents) I finally got my wish: to spend Christmas at our own home with just our own four individuals. Thus began what is the closest to a “tradition” that I can come up with: We’d let the kids wake us when they woke up (provided it was after 6 a.m., as I recall). Then they’d look at the tree (and gifts) while I made a pot of coffee and put a Sara Lee coffee cake in the oven. Then we’d open gifts. We lived in Bossier City for 26 years and our youngest was in kindergarten that first year. About half way through those 26 years, we already had kids leaving the nest, of course.

During many of these Bossier years, we’d have other family over for Christmas dinner… after all the gift unwrapping. This was sometimes my in-laws, but often my Mom or my Dad and Step-Mother. Sometimes different combinations of those parties.

As a grandparent

As a grandparent, first with very young grandkids and now with half of those grandkids in their 20s, it’s been different every year. Sometimes our local daughter’s family celebrates with us…and they alternate Christmas destinations with the other set of grandparents. Sometimes our Louisiana son’s family celebrates with us.

Our plans are complicated by weather, by illnesses, by medical issues that restrict my travel ability, etc. So each Christmas is different.

I don’t do nearly as much shopping as I did when our own kids were young.

Some of my previous Christmas-related posts (which I think you’ll enjoy):

[JLS # 618]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 12 Comments

It’s Tradition

“How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?” 

When I was a child we didn’t have as many traditions as some families, but there are things that stand out from that time in my life. First, we always cut down our own Christmas tree. My grandma lived on a farm so we’d search her pastures and woods for the perfect tree. We didn’t go for little trees either. They had to be so big we sometimes had to cut the top off. It had to be a cedar tree too. They smelled so good. When we decorated the tree we made a production out of hanging three little colored birds that my mother found somewhere. The birds were shiny and had googly eyes, but we loved them.

We always attended the local Christmas parade after which Daddy would buy everyone a hot chocolate. It tasted better because we bought it and didn’t make it at home. We mostly ate at home so the hot drink was a big treat to us.

My sister and I always slept on our special Santa pillow cases on Christmas Eve. I still remember how pretty they were. We always got up in the middle of the night to see what Santa brought us. We’d run to get our parents up, and they never complained about it. We just turned on the lights and had Christmas morning in the middle of the night. Man, it was fun!

On Christmas Eve we always had dinner with my dad’s family, and on Christmas Day we ate with my mother’s family. Every child on Christmas Day received a small gift, but with such a large family my grandmother couldn’t spend big money on everyone without going broke. We loved the little things she found because she gave them to us.

Once I was married with my own family lots of traditions remained the same. We didn’t cut our tree down in the woods, though. We always just bought one. I also decorated lots more than my mother did. The kids and I had fun painting Christmas ornaments for our tree. I think we attended more Christmas gatherings. Lots of times the kids were in little Christmas plays at church so we always went to those. Our church was small so at our church get-together after the play the kids got a small gift. My kids didn’t get up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve either. I always wondered why, LOL. I used to read Christmas stories to my kids, and we watched all the animated Christmas TV shows. We also made a production of counting down to Christmas with an Advent calendar. We had one tradition that I miss dreadfully. On Christmas morning my parents and sister came to my house for breakfast, and then we’d all open our gifts together. My mother, father, and sister have been gone a long time now, but every Christmas morning I think of them.

Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition? I’d love to hear which one it is.

Posted in Miscellaneous | 9 Comments

Countdown to Christmas

 “How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?” This question is something that I would ask but I don’t recall what I was thinking about when I asked it. In fact, when I think of how we countdown to Christmas nothing special comes to mind. My family has a lot of traditions when it comes to the Christmas season. I suppose that they are all in a way counting down to Christmas Day.

It all starts with a letter to Santa. Even Jessica, who is now 22 will sit down and write a letter. These letters get placed under the tree the night that it is decorated. The next morning, in its place are gifts from the Elf. The tradition of the Elf goes back to BEFORE my childhood. It comes from my father’s side of the family. There is an Elf that sits on the tree (you know the Elf on the Shelf? It looks nearly identical to that), this Elf holds his legs close to his body but if at any time his legs have fallen then that means that someone did something they shouldn’t have and he had to run to the Northpole to tell Santa. If he told Santa then you wouldn’t be getting any gifts from him on Christmas. (This NEVER happened but everyone was always extra careful to not jump or run in the room with the Christmas tree so we wouldn’t make the elf drop his legs). On the night that the tree went up the Elf would bring a small gift for all the kids in the house. This gift is like a little preview of Christmas. When I was little the gifts from the Elf were often small things like those little wooden airplanes that you can fling with a rubberband or a Christmas coloring book with crayons. When my siblings and I got a little older our gift turned into tins filled with candy. My kids usually get a tin with candy or a book to read.

We also have the decorating day gift. Each year on decorating day my kids get one new decoration. We started this tradition just a few years ago. They’ve gotten musical snowglobes, statues, and ornaments for the tree. We even got new snowman mugs and a gnome cookie jar. They look forward to these gifts every year now. I look online for after Christmas sales to get something for the following year. As soon as it arrives I will wrap it and put it up until the following November when we decorate. It can be a lot of fun this way because I will often forget what exactly it was I bought.

Each week leading up to Christmas , after Halloween we’ll have special movie nights. This week we’re having A Charlie Brown Christmas night. We’ll watch all the Charlie Brown Christmas specials. Next week we’re planning to do Polar Express night. We’ll wear our pajamas, make hot chocolate, and they will each get a little pin to wear that says “Believe”. Their favorite movie night is Grinch Night. We play games, watch the movies, read the book, and have a Who feast.

We don’t do advent calendars or anything like that to countdown to Christmas but we do have a LOT of fun leading up to Christmas. What fun traditions do you have during the Christmas season?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Christmas preparations with different festive decor on a wooden table. Image from depositphotos.com

Our Tuesday Fox asked, “How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?” [AS]

This topic had me scratching my head. My family enjoys celebrating holidays together, but we honestly don’t prepare for them together. My daughters have followed in my footsteps of having full calendars, so it’s impossible to plan things to happen on a yearly basis. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to agree on a date to get together at all! 

I really don’t remember any special holiday traditions we had growing up, other than putting up a Christmas tree, exchanging gifts with my nuclear family, and participating in holiday celebrations at school and at church. As I’ve mentioned before, I had no extended family here in America. We have two cousins who are American citizens, but they grew up on an army base in Okinawa and we communicated through audio tapes and letters. So our celebrations were quiet because we celebrated on our own. Since our relatives were so far away, we had to plan ahead and purchase, wrap, and ship our gifts in November so that they would arrive at their destinations on time (this was back in the days when shipping packages via air mail was an extravagance we weren’t able to afford).

Later on, when I had my own household, I worked full time, so the holidays were hectic, especially since my music activities meant directing and performing in concerts as well as teaching every day. Seeing that the kids and I were in the right places at the right times was about all I could handle. Putting up a tree, buying and wrapping gifts, and mailing out cards are all things we did, but they were often done at the last minute, or when I managed to squeeze them in between other obligations, and never done as a family. There were a few years I made Christmas outfits for my daughters, but not consistently enough to call it a tradition.

Even now,  after retiring from full-time teaching, I’ve always got at least two concerts in December. I’ve usually got final exams to grade and semester grades to submit before a deadline. So I still tend to put off a lot of the traditional holiday prep until I make time to do them. Since I don’t work full time now and my kids (and seven of my nine grandkids) are adults, I have more time to do things, which is really nice. But I’m still at a loss when it comes to traditions unique to my family. 

Most of the things I do yearly, such as filling the stockings for the grandkids and making and sending out Christmas cards, are things I do on my own. But I guess the main family tradition is that we always find a time to celebrate together, even when we had to join in through FaceTime or Zoom. And to me, that’s more important than the decorations, the treats, and all the other things leading up to the holiday.

Posted in Christmas, Daily life, experiences, Family, holidays, lifestyles, Patricia Kiyono, shopping | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

We Need a Little Christmas, Right This Very Minute

(I may have said all of this before, but for once, I am not taking time to check. Bear with me.)

I was always opposed to Christmas decorations and Christmas music before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving, but in the last few years I haven’t minded when people started early, given all that has been going on.

This year, as soon as this weekend is over, I am going to try to get Christmas up and running here. The reason is that it’s been a rough month: Out of town family came for a stressful visit, and the other part will be coming back into town on Sunday, so the BIG FEAST will be then. Yesterday, (officially Thanksgiving), we ate canned ham with pineapple, turkey drummettes, mashed potatoes, gravy and cauliflower. Grandson#1 came in after work and ate Italian chicken, with vegetable pasta and broccoli. He took a small pumpkin pie, some leaf-shaped iced spice cookies and pumpkin bread to his friends where he has been staying.  We ate pecan pie; (I’m breaking into the pumpkin one today. I will have to put on the dog, (or turkey, rather), starting tomorrow, for Sunday, and then the real dog goes home; (the granddog).

But I may well be playing Christmas music while I cook.

As if things had not been stressful enough, I have been going through health problems, tests and doctors.

I need a little Christmas now; it may turn into a whole lot of Christmas.

My mother once kept the Christmas tree up until the day before Palm Sunday; she took it down because she thought it was just wrong to keep it up given the coming days. However, one year she actually kept up one of the ‘sprays’ she made of pine boughs, tied with a huge red ribbon, and sprayed with fake snow, all year long. Seriously, she put it up early one December and took it down the next December when she brought in a new one.

I never could understand putting the tree up on Christmas Eve. It seems like a lot of trouble for too short of a time.

Yet I have no intention of keeping the Christmas things up too long, not more than a couple of days after Epiphany, unless the weather turns really bad; Then it will all get put away as soon as we get a break.

I am in the mood for making Christmas cookies and maybe even some candy this year. I had cut back on that, but maybe it is time to revive it all.

I will be checking the Kindle and audiobooks for Christmas-themed stories, plus rolling out the loved DVDs and streaming new Christmas movies starting today.

How about you?

Do you wait? Do you start early?

Has it changed for you?

I think it’s just about time for Hans Gruber to fall off the Nakatomi Tower.

Posted in advice, big plans, blessings, Books, Christmas, Christmas books, decisions, descriptions, experiences, Family, favorites, food, free week, Holiday, holidays, inspiration, inspirational stories, Kindle, libraries, lifestyles, memories, movies, novels, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce, traditions, winter, Words | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

When You Really Need to See

My Kingdom for a Pair of Glasses (Each Morning)

By Jeff Salter

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope all of us are thankful for the many blessings we already have… and not terribly dismayed at those we do not have (at least not at this point).

Missing Things

This true story (originally posted on FB in 2016) comes to mind this week because we’ve been looking for several missing items around our household. Foremost is my wife’s key fob thingy for her SUV. Another item I’ve searched for is a book I know I purchased within the past 18 months or so… but cannot locate ANYWHERE. We also searched, for hours, for one of my hex keys (size 3/32, if you’re interested)… to no avail. It seems we misplace – sometimes only temporarily, but a few apparently forever – items we value that can’t be replaced. Eyeglasses seem to appear on that “missing-in-action” list quite often.

For those of you who appreciate irony:
Stumbled around one morning for nearly 10 minutes looking for my glasses. I say “stumbled” because I’m totally wasted – zombie status – until I get my coffee.
Normally, my glasses are on the bathroom counter, which is the second base I touch every single morning.
Nope, not there. So I looked in my study. Nope.
I look all around the bedroom. Nope.
Getting frustrated… not to mention that I haven’t started my coffee yet.

I re-check the bathroom counter and examine the bathroom floor (since our cat sometimes plays hockey with the stuff on the counter).
Nope.
Finally I give up and head to the kitchen to make my coffee “blind” (as it were)… without my tri-focals.
Wanna guess where my glasses were?
Yep. Right in front of the coffee maker.
The coffee maker is the third base I touch each morning… and I would’ve been there nine minutes sooner, except that I’d been looking for my glasses.

Question:

What about YOU? Do you keep misplacing items? For example?

[JLS # 617]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 16 Comments

A Victorian Christmas Tree

Since people are starting to put out their Christmas decorations, I thought I’d share a little about the Victorian Christmas tree. Maybe you’ll even want to decorate one.

When we think of Christmas during the Victorian Era, most of us picture a Charles Dickens Christmas complete with a goose or turkey and a Christmas tree, but the English haven’t always had Christmas trees. They were introduced into England in 1841 when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Her husband Prince Albert decorated the first Christmas tree. Albert was from Germany, a place where they’d long used Christmas trees. He decorated a tree for Windsor Castle using candles, candies, and paper chains. The custom spread, and before long all of the English had Christmas trees. So did the Americans.

As time passed, people started to use more elaborate decorations on their trees, including gingerbread men, marzipan candies, hard candies, cookies, fruit, cotton-batting Santas, paper fans, tin soldiers, whistles, wind-up toys, pine cones, dried fruits, nuts, berries, and trinkets of all kinds. They also enjoyed hanging cornucopias filled with sweets, fruit, nuts and popcorn on their trees. Small homemade gifts, such as tiny hand-stitched dolls or children’s mittens were also popular. Beautiful angels were the tree toppers of choice, and some families set up a Nativity scene under the tree using moss for grass and mirrors for ponds.  

Eventually, people started to use German store bought ornaments which first appeared during the 1860’s. Glass icicles came first followed by hand blown glass globes called kugels. People also liked Dresdens, embossed silver and gold cardboard ornaments in many shapes.  

Decorating a Victorian tree today would be pretty simple without investing a great deal of money. Here are a few things I’d do.

1.String popcorn and cranberries to make a garland. The kids should have a great time helping.

2.Shape small paper doilies into cornucopias. Fill with candies of your choice.

3.Recycle old Christmas cards. Cut out shapes you like and attach them to the tree with ribbons to make mock Dresdens.

4.Make or buy small cookies to hang on the tree. You can decorate them with glitter if you like. Hairspray works great as a preservative.

5.Fill small mesh bags with colorful candy and tie them with ribbon.

6.Spray nuts in the shell with gold paint and glue a slender cord to them so they’ll hang on the tree. 

7.I don’t recommend lighting the candles if you use real ones, but I’ve seen strings of electric lights in the shape of candles. That sounds a lot safer to me.

8.Don’t forget to fill the tree with small toys. Personally, I’d add some cherubs, another Victorian favorite.

9.Decorative tassels would look beautiful on your tree.

10.Buy some pretty ribbon-Victorians preferred velvet-and shape it into pretty bows or swirls.

11.Fold wrapping paper in the shape of fans and put them on the tree. We used to love making fans when we were kids.  

If any of you decide to do a Victorian tree, email me a picture at elainecsc@aol.com and I’ll post it on the blog for others to see.  

Oh, and the picture that accompanies this post is from an 1841 engraving showing Victoria and Albert and their children.

Does your Christmas tree this year have a theme?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 9 Comments

Never-Ending TBR, Part Eleven

I’ve got four cozy mysteries to share with you this month. All four are continuations of series I’ve enjoyed and shared before. Check out these awesome offerings!

Crime for the Books by Kate Young
Jane Doe Book Club Mystery, Book 3
Lyla’s book club is reading Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Announced, and the club members decide to hold a Halloween party complete with a staged murder. But when the lights come back on, they find a real murder. Rosa, one of the club members, is a member of the local police force and temporary chief, but nothing seems to go right with her investigation and soon she’s relieved of her duties. It’s up to the Jane Doe Book Club members to help Rosa get her job back as well as find the murderer. This was a well-written story, the perfect read for Halloween week, and I can’t wait to dig into Book 4!

Deviled Eggs and Deception by Kelsey Brown and Nancy Naigle
A Seasoned Southern Sleuths Mystery, Book 3
Maggie, Abby Ruth, and Sera are continuing to take care of the Summer Haven estate while Lillian is in prison. It’s an expensive place to maintain, and they’re horrified when Lillian’s prize antique car is smashed by a falling tree. When the manager of the local dump hires them to find out who’s breaking in and stealing things, they quickly accept the job. They also become embroiled in another case when a local artist discovers that someone is selling copies of his metal sculptures. Meanwhile, Lillian discovers a way to get out of jail early – she pretends to suffer from arthritis and depression in order to get a compassionate release. But coming home isn’t quite what she expected. As with the earlier books, there were several laugh-out-loud moments, and the ending was a surprise, along with a cliffhanger about one of the ladies.

Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews
A Meg Langslow Mystery, Book 28
I decided it was about time to read one of the many holiday books on my TBR pile. The ever-busy Meg is heading up her community’s Helping Hands program. One of the most daunting is to guide a hoarder into accepting help to declutter his home. He has several neighbors plus three cousins who are eager to see him clear out the house. The neighborhood pitches in to help, but when Harvey the Hoarder is found in a pool of blood in his garage, it appears someone believes there’s more than junk in the home, and Meg and her family are there to assist Chief Burke find the killer. As always with Andrews’ mysteries, I finished reading this book in a few days, because I read while I should have been doing other things. Caerphilly, Virginia might be a fictional place with fictional people, but every time I read one of these mysteries I wish I could go for an extended visit.

Sweet Tea and Second Chances by Kelsey Brown and Nancy Naigle
A Seasoned Southern Sleuths Mystery, Book 7
This is listed as the last book in the series, but chronologically it takes place between books 3 and 4 (according to the list provided by the authors) so I decided to follow the order of events. This is another book focusing on Sheriff Teague Castro and Abby Ruth’s daughter Jenny. Apparently, the book is a lot spicier than the books about the four ladies at Summer Haven, but the truly spicy stuff has been taken out and made available on the authors’ website. In this installment, Teague is determined to make things right with Jenny and create a happily-ever-after for them both. But residents are worried that he’s too distracted with his love life to do a good job as sheriff, and a retired cop who’s new in town is fast becoming a popular alternative for the upcoming election. Jenny and the ladies have a few tricks up their sleeves, but in a true crisis, Teague shows the town what he’s really made of.

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