Monday, October 15, 2018

Autumn and Halloween Decor


Halloween is a little over two weeks away.  Do you decorate for Halloween?  


Happy Monday, My Lovelies!

I thought it would be fun to put together a round-up post to help me decide how to decorate for fall and/or Halloween.  I've only taken out a few velvet pumpkins, and I want to decorate for Christmas early this year so it's done before Thanksgiving.  That means Christmas decor will be up for a very long time because Thanksgiving this year is November 22,  the earliest it can be.

Below is a stroll down memory lane of how I've decorated for autumn and Halloween in the past.



I have a nice collection of glass pumpkins that reflect light on our breakfast room table.



A few years ago I used a lot of white in my autumn decor.  I hope my photography has improved a little since then!   ;P



Traditional autumn colors with a touch of blue



Pale in the dining room






Scooby Doo...Where are you?






Fall colors and pinks






One thing I've noticed is that I don't decorate very much for Halloween because October is our busiest month.  October brings travel to several horse shows, fall break (this year we have two), and  Shanley Belle's birthday.  

I think I'll decorate for Halloween this year and skip Thanksgiving because I won't be hosting Thanksgiving this year.

Come back later in the week for my Halloween decor!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill





Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cozy Mysteries Set in Autumn Round-up



Happy Weekend, My Lovelies!  We attended a Fall Festival this morning, and I almost forgot to post!  Are you in the fall mood yet?  If not, then why not pick-up a cozy mystery from your local library set during autumn?  I spent a couple of hours curating a few I thought y'all would like, and I've included a brief description of each.



I love this series, and this one involves an archaeological dig, plans for a Harvest Festival, and ghosts in the Vicar's meadow.  This one is a bit more village secrets than mystery, but the creepy factor makes it a good choice for fall.



This is the twelfth in a series, and it involves a the Heritage Society's "Pirates and Plunder" soiree. A valuable ring goes missing at the same time a history intern is murdered.  



It’s late autumn in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and the last surviving flowers on Lucy Stone’s porch have fallen victim to the first frost of the season. The Turkey Trot is a 5K run in the village, but before the event Lucy discovers a frozen body in a pond.  I find this series to be a little darker than most cozy mysteries (I've read a couple) but they are highly popular, and I do love Lucy's character.



In this book from the series featuring catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, a Thanksgiving dinner goes awry thanks to a killer who's hiding a cornucopia of secrets.  This one might be worth it because of the recipes in the back; one of them is for Pecan Pie using Steen's Syrup, a Louisiana pantry staple.



I love the Hannah Swenson murder mysteries.  I've read several of them! You might have seen them on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel.  In this one, Hannah is a newlywed, and Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross (her husband) vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and then her husband's business partner is found dead.  There are around thirty wonderful recipes woven throughout the narrative in this book.  I usually buy Fluke's books on my Nook app so I can follow the recipes using my iPad.



Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre…
If you love stories set in New Orleans and scrapbooking, then this is the cozy mystery series for you!  Plus this one has some classic New Orleans recipes like Carmela's Crazy Dump Cake, Party Shrimp Dip, and New Orleans-Style Beignets.  All the recipes are super simple!



I love the Hamish Macbeth series, and I also love M.C. Beaton's other series: Agatha Raisin Mysteries.   
In the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant chimney sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. Some citizens in Loch Dubh are certain that Ray is the culprit....but is he?



Whispers, footsteps, and a cold white mist are plaguing Mrs. Witherspoon, but the police have failed to come up with any leads, supernatural or otherwise. But when she turns-up dead under suspicious circumstances, it's up to the Cotswolds most famous amateur detective to solve the case.  I love Agatha Raisin mysteries.  Agatha is so sassy and endearing!



This is the 23rd installment of Daheim's Bed and Breakfast Mysteries Series.  I could simply entice you to read this by describing a vacation in a remote and possibly haunted Scottish castle owned by a rich whiskey distillery baron, but when I also add that there's a murder mystery and some of the oddest, most quirky character north of Hadrian's Wall, then this one is a slam-dunk.




And finally, if you want to read my full reviews of the new Sloane Krause Murder Mysteries by Ellie Alexander, you may read my reviews HERE.  I highly recommend both.


Which of these mysteries appeals to you most?  Let me know in the comments section below!







Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill





Friday, October 12, 2018

Literary Friday: Death on Tap and The Pint of No Return





Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I want to share the first two books in a new cozy mystery series by Ellie Alexander.  I've read many of the books in her Bakeshop Mystery Series, and I'm enjoying the Sloane Krause Mystery Series so very much!

First of all, there's a story that features both Jules Capshaw, owner of the charming bakeshop Torte and main character in the Bakeshop Mysteries, and Sloan Krause, who’s in from out of town for the beer festival that has landed in Ashland, Oregon. Sloan is the brewmaster at the famed Der Keller brewing company that operates out of Leavenworth, Washington, and she’s come to the festival to show off the newest spring brew. When Sloan drops in to Torte for a pistachio bar and a latte, she meets Jules, who is interested in the idea of adding beer to some of her baked goods.  Jules and Sloan become instant friends, and when they both head out to sample Sloan's beer, they discover that one of the kegs is missing.



This is a cute introduction to the Sloane Krause Mystery Series, and it's only available on Kindle or Nook.  I got it for my Nook app on my iPad.  


And now, on to the novels....



According to Goodreads:

When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.


But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

My Review:

The first thing I love about this book is the setting.  Leavenworth, Washington is a quaint "alpine village" that's German-themed.  It reminds me of Helen, Georgia, and I imagine it as a picture-perfect Hallmark Christmas movie town.  The second thing I love is Sloane's character.  She has such a big heart, and she's the sweetest mama to her son, Alex.  She's also the best in-law to her husband's family, and they are the first family she's ever known because she grew-up in foster care.  This is why her husband Mac's infidelity is such a tremendous blow to her.

I enjoyed the mystery in this book because there are several colorful characters who could have been the murderer. Sloane's new boss at Nitro, Garrett, is a little bit of an enigma, and there's definitely chemistry between Sloane and Garrett, but she would never act on it because she's still married to Mac.  Also, Alexander did her research because she's well-versed on the brewing process.  I learned a lot about it, and I found it interesting even though I don't drink beer.  This series is going to be so good, and I might end up liking it better than Alexander's  Bake Shop Mysteries.




According to Goodreads:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause returns in The Pint of No Return, another delightful cozy by Ellie Alexander—this time investigating a movie star who's murdered not long after arriving in Leavenworth, WA to film his latest project.

No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?

My Review:

This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries ever, and that's saying a lot because I've read many of them!  Like the previous installment, this one has plenty of suspects with possible motives because the victim is not very delightful.  And I love the premise: a documentary chronicling micro and nano breweries and women brewmasters.  The producer quickly sees a gem in Sloane: She is beautiful, and the camera loves her.  It's an added bonus that she knows her way around a brewery!

This mystery has more layers than the first installment, and I enjoyed considering all the suspects and their possible motives.  Plus Leavenworth's Octoberfest atmosphere with the thousands of tourists made the mood seem festive and oppressive at the same time.  I also liked the tension growing between Garrett and Sloane: they are a great team, and their creativity fits together nicely.  It's obvious that they're attracted to each other, and I really want Sloane to be happy and free from that obnoxious Mac!

This is the perfect cozy mystery for autumn.  I highly recommend it!

Disclosure:

I received a copy of Pint of No Return from the publisher, Minotaur Books.  I would like to thank them for the opportunity to read it in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I liked it so much I purchased the first one in the series, Death on Tap, because I wanted to read more about Sloane's backstory.

Come back tomorrow for a round-up of other fall-themed cozy mysteries!


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ten on the Tenth for October 2018




Happy Fall, Y'all!  

I'm so happy to be a part of my first ever Ten on the Tenth Party, and I confess that I found it challenging because it's been in the nineties here in Central Alabama this month!  Plus, we were at the beach last week for Fall Break...and have I mentioned the *heat*???


The challenge: ten fun fall ideas, each under $10.00.  Oh, how I love autumn and everything about it.  I'm the type girl who loves pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING, and I also love cooking pumpkin recipes, too.  But when it's hot as stink, and I'm still wearing shorts and t-shirts, it's freakin' HARD to get into the spirit of fall, with or without pumpkins!

So what's a girl to do, living in the Deep South?  How can I possibly get into the spirit of fall AND conquer this challenge?  FAKE IT, of course!  We're good at faking stuff in the South, and if you didn't know that, well, bless your heart!  My {very loose} theme for this challenge is:  Faking Creating a Fall Atmosphere and/or Mood in Our Home.

Before you read any further, crank down your air conditioner (because that's what I did for inspiration).





1.   Mood music
Turn on Pandora radio to set the mood for fall.  I recommend three stations:
A.   George Winston Holiday Radio (great for straight chilling if you're alone)
B.   Autumn Radio  (nice variety of songs, and this station does have an autumn feel to it)
C.   Hipster Cocktail Party Radio  (everyone always asks us what station we're playing when we have this one on, and it appeals to all ages and musical tastes....this station is magical!)

Cost:   Free





2.   Morning fall aroma that's good for you
It's morning, and you must needs caffeine before you take on your day.  But before you put sugar in your legal stimulant of choice, try this instead:  For every 4 tablespoons of coffee you place in your coffee maker or French press, add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Not only will your whole house smell like heaven, but there's something about the addition of cinnamon that makes it sweet, and you won't want to add much if any sugar.  

You probably already have cinnamon in your pantry, but if not, it won't break the bank!

Cost of cinnamon:  around $3.00



Cinnamon reminds me of fall baking!  Our local grocery store stocks cinnamon brooms in early autumn, and the aroma hits customers as they enter the store!





Sorry about the weird light in my kitchen photos.  It's either been too light or too dark the past couple of days, so my photos aren't the best!


3.   Perk up your breakfast bar or other spot in your kitchen
Instead of drinking alcohol, I buy flowers every week.  I love them.  And they're calorie-free.  Bonus! YAY!!!
About every other week our local Piggly Wiggly sells pretty spray roses for under $5.00.  These are called Mambo, and I love the shade of orange.  Plus, add some colorful cocktail napkins that compliment your roses.  

I'm starting to get into the spirit of fall.  A little...

Costs:  roses: $4.95  cocktail napkins:  $4.25  Total:  $9.20





4.   Perk up your fridge
I actually stole this idea from my mom.  She changes out photos on her fridge for each season and/or holiday.  Instead of photos, I've placed seasonal recipes on our fridge with the hopes that mayhap they will encourage me to cook them!


The cost of this should be free, but if you like a perfectly spotless kitchen and lack kitchen magnets, I found some lovely fall ones on Etsy:



This magnet set can be purchased via Etsy HERE.


Cost of magnets:  $6.97





5.   Washi tape!
I'm a little obsessed with washi tape.  I add it to snail mail as well as other projects around the house.  The package above is being sent to one of my daughters, and I love the football mums on the tape.  Do you remember wearing football mum corsages to homecoming football games?  They didn't count unless they were bigger than your head!  All three fall mini floral washi tapes come in a set from Paper Source.




Cost of washi tape set:  $7.95





6.   Thanksgiving stamp
While at Paper Source, I found another under $10.00 fall beauty.  Plus it's helping me plan ahead!  Take any craft paper (or any paper for that matter....everyone has paper) and make little cards.  Stamp the "I am thankful for..." stamp on them, and your Thanksgiving guests can fill out cards and place them in a jar during the day.  When everyone wakes up from their tryptophan-induced nap, or maybe after dessert, someone can pull them all out of your jar (yep, you can make the jar because I bet you already have one) and read them.




Cost of stamp:  $6.95






7.   Cheese plate Friday night
Cheese plate Friday night is a thing at our house.  We love it!  Weather permitting, we enjoy it outside on our patio while watching movies, with or without a fire.  Normally our plate is much larger than the one shown above, but it isn't Friday night, and I didn't want to take out a bunch of cheese for demonstration purposes, but you can use my search engine if you're interested in past posts about our cheese plates.

Getting back on subject: cookie cutters aren't just for cookies and pies.  I thought it would be fun to use them on a few of our hard cheeses for Cheese Plate Friday Night.  This was free for me because I've had these cookie cutters for a long time.  But I did find a cute set of autumn leaf cookie cutters from JoAnn Fabrics!



This is my set.


Cost of cookie cutter set:  $6.99






8.   Dining Table decor
Here's an idea for your dining room table that doesn't cost much.  Purchase a set of fall leaf parchment paper for cheese trays and place them on a solid color table runner.  I'll admit that it can be hard to find these for under $10.00, but I did it!  I purchased ours from our local wine shop.  I used a pale pink table runner, but any solid table runner or tablecloth will do.  Then just add a pretty casserole, bowl, or tureen, et voilà!  Fall prettiness on your dining table.










You can purchase this similar set HERE.


Cost for parchment leaf set:  $7.80





9.   Cozy mysteries
I'm still not quite in the autumn spirit.  Mayhap I need a little literary inspiration.  I visited the library, and I've curated a few cozy mysteries either set in autumn or with autumn themes.  I enjoy reading cozy mysteries in the fall.  It helps me get over the sadness of the end of baseball season!



Come back Friday for a review of The Pint of No Return.  Saturday, I'll post a fall cozy mystery round-up post with a brief synopsis of the other nine books.


Cost:  Free






10.   Snack time!
Thinking of this challenge and running to the library has made me famished.  It's snack time!  When the girls were little, I enjoyed thinking of creative after school snacks.  This one should be enjoyed by kids of all ages.  The snack of choice: Bigelow's Salted Caramel Tea and Walker's Shortbread.  YUM!

Oh, how I wish you could smell this tea.  It smells heavenly!!!  It's a rule that you must dunk the shortbread cookies into the tea.  

You should be able to find the tea at your local Walmart; if not, they can order it for you.  




You can order the tea online HERE.




Cost:  shortbread:  $3.94;  tea:  $2.48  Total:  $6.42




That's the end of my ideas for this challenge.  I hope I didn't bore you...  It was hard!  But I truly did enjoy it, and I want to thank the sweet group of bloggers who let me participate in the challenge with them.  Please use the links below to see their creative solutions to this challenge.  It should be fun!


My Heart Lives Here
Bluesky atHome
Exquisitely Unremarkable
Pandora's Box
Poofing the Pillows
The BoondocksBlog
White SprayPaint
Patina andPaint
The Sketchy Reader





Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill