Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Today is Wednesday...

I only know that for sure because I looked at the calendar before starting this post. The days are blurring together and I still don't know if I'm coming or going.  I'm still tired. I'm still cranky. I'm starting to get excited about Stitch Maynia 2020 and hoping that my enthusiasm will hold for another couple of days until it's time to actually start.

I've finished projects that never got posted to the blog. I'll write posts for those soon, assuming that things stay calm. So far we're all healthy and  everyone in the family who was working before the pandemic started is still working. 

Since the last update, most of my progress has been on these two projects... 

The shawl is Jette Shawl, a free download from DROPS. It's  taking forever and ever, but that's a good thing right now. The long rows of garter stitch, which are getting steadily shorter as I decrease towards the point, are good for my nerves. I also picked up Furry Friends, a Riolis kit that I started for last year's Maynia and didn't make much progress at the time. It's been a good project to lose myself in for an hour or two at a time.

I've also  been reading a lot.


The Split by Sharon Bolton

As soon as the last boat of the season leaves the remote Antarctic island, she'll be safe. Felicity counts down the moments, waiting until she can be sure she's safe from her ex-husband. She's fled as far as she can possibly get but still she watches and worries, certain that he'll come after her.

I picked this one up because the setting is so different from anything I've read in a domestic thriller before. The parts of the book that are set on the island are interesting, but the the plot quickly jumps back to the months before Felicity's arrival on South Georgia and at that point my attention started to wander. I know the reader isn't supposed to know everything that's going on, but it wasn't the entertaining kind of confusion, it was just....confusing.... I'm glad I stuck with it to the end because things definitely pick up again over the last few chapters.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy of The Split. This post contains affiliate links. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

{I've Been Reading} Catacombs

Catacombs by Mary Anna Evans

This one sat in my to be read pile for far too long, especially considering how much I loved it once I started reading. An explosion opens up an old hotel's lobby floor, revealing an almost forgotten network of tunnels where Chinese immigrants lived a century before. Archaeologist Faye Longchamp-Mantooth works with the FBI to solve the mystery of three carefully wrapped bodies found in one of the underground rooms. This is the twelfth book in the series and I know I was missing lots of details about Faye's past and relationships, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the book. I got completely absorbed in the history and was holding my breath at times because I was worried about the characters. This is a series I'll definitely want to go back and read from the beginning.

The Horror at Criven Farm by Amy Cross

This one popped up in my Amazon recommendations and it was free with Kindle Unlimited and the description of a too  good to be true abandoned farmhouse with a dark secret definitely caught my interest... Let's just call this one "uneven" shall we? The first few chapters had me  ready to give up entirely, then something seriously creepy happened that kept me up late turning pages, then the plot veered sharply into cliched 1980s made for TV movie folk horror territory. I really enjoyed that chunk near the end of the first half. Otherwise, the book wasn't that great.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy of Catacombs. This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

I Apparently Don't Know How Bats Work -- But I Stitched One

I stitched a thing... 

The pattern is Self Isolating Bat, and it's a free download from Night Spirit Studio. (And I just saw while copying the URL that there's now a plague nurse -- imagine Florence Nightengale, with the beaked mask. I totally know what I'm starting tonight!)

I stole the fabric from a Dimensions kit to use for my bat, but that's okay because it had a big slub in the middle and I was going to have to replace it anyway. The full coverage project would have probably covered up the flaw, but I'm not doing that much work when it would be so inexpensive to replace it with a better piece of fabric and remove the risk entirely.

And apparently I don't know how bats work. Every single time I picked up this pattern I found myself holding it upside down.

Have you heard of #bewellandstitch? A whole bunch of designers have made up free patterns to keep out fingers and minds busy while we're self isolating. Keepsakes has a bunch listed on their facebook page, or you can  find a lot using the hashtag on instagram or googling. If there's a comprehensive list, I haven't found it yet. But I have found literally dozens of patterns to print and add to my plans.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

{Guest Post} A Spa Day Without Leaving Home by Larissa Reinhart

If you need some extra smiles right now, you should absolutely check out Larissa Reinhart's books! The newest in the Maize Albright All Star Detective series comes out today.

My heroine, Maizie Albright, grew up in Beverly Hills accustomed to weekly mani-pedi’s, blowouts, and facials. For her, a spa day wasn’t a luxury, it was part of a routine. But now that a kindly California judge decided Maizie would be better off living with her father in Black Pine, Georgia, and working in anything besides the entertainment industry, her weekly spa dates have gone by the wayside. After her legal fees and other bills (and learning that her ex-manager and still-mother had siphoned off most of her money), the ex-child star can no longer afford weekly Olyplex treatments let alone gemstone peels and bee venom facials.

Her Black Pine besties, Tiffany and Rhonda, are estheticians at LA HAIR, a salon that peaked in the early 90s and still serves the older clientele of Black Pine. Maizie goes to LA HAIR for advice and hugs and the occasional manicure and blow out (when she has the cash). For all other times, Maizie will have to learn to keep that sheen and polish with home treatments.

“Taking my hour, I ran toward all that was goodness and holy. In my world that was hugs from friends. And a quick blow out. I received both from LA HAIR, my go-to for hair, nails, and emotional guidance.
Pushing through the black and gold crackle-painted glass door, I strode into the oldish shop in an oldish Black Pine strip mall. The layered scents of Aquage, ammonia, and acetone wafted through the space, filling me with soothing ASMR-y vibes. A new water fountain featuring faux bamboo trickled in a corner and a top hits station played through speakers painted to look like rocks. Bottles of marked-up hair care products and marked-down homemade jewelry lined metal shelves that anchored the row of black vinyl chairs in the waiting area. On the end tables, I would find months-old People, Glamour, and Country Living magazines with pages torn out by customers who felt justified in stealing coupons and recipes.
Although one could not compare LA HAIR with the atmosphere or services given at a Beverly Hills salon, I also never worried about getting stabbed in the back with a pair of gold-plated scissors. LA HAIR — referring to the city or French article, no one knew or cared — had been with me through good times and bad.
Mostly bad since that'd been the luck forcing my move to Georgia in the first place.” (18 CALIBER, Maizie Albright Star Detective book 6)
Because we can all use a spa day — especially during this anxiety-ridden time while we’re at home —I thought it’d be fun to explore some creative DIY spa kits. My youngest daughter loves Five-Minute Crafts and similar shows. She also loves to do DIY beauty care, so I pulled together this list mainly from crafts she’s done. (She does an excellent home DIP manicure, too, by the way.)

These are all ingredients you should find around your home. Have fun with your daughters and granddaughters with some of these treatments, or just treat yourself. Get out your fluffiest towels, light some candles, put on a robe, relax and rejuvenate. Something I’m sure you deserve during this time!

Coffee Sugar Scrub

1 c ground coffee
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c olive oil (or another oil)
Mix together. Rub on skin before a shower, then rinse off.

Tumeric Honey Mask

1/4 c raw honey
1/4-1/2 t turmeric powder
Combine. Spread on face and leave for 15 minutes. (Clears redness and dries up acne.)

Rejuvenating Manicure

1 lemon
1/2 a cucumber
Slice and place in a bowl of cool water. Soak hands for 10 minutes. Push back cuticles with an orange stick and paint as usual. (Lemon bleaches stained nails and cucumber soothes dry hands.)

Milk Body Soak Bath

4 c Milk
Essential Oil (lavender will be calming and soothing)

Fill tub with warm water, adding a small amount of honey and essential oil while it’s filling to spread the scent. Mix in 4 cups of milk. Rinse off in shower after the soak. (Lactic acid in milk helps to slough off dead skin cells, the oil and honey soothes skin and smells great.)

Conditioning Hair Mask

2-4 T Olive Oil or Coconut Oil (amount depending on length and thickness of hair)

Shampoo hair, towel-dry, and apply oil to damp hair (if your hair tends toward oily, don’t apply to roots). Wrap hair in a towel and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse hair in shower.

Brightening Facial

1 lemon
3 strawberries
1 banana

Remove stems and dice strawberries. Mash strawberries and banana in a bowl. Add the juice of 1 lemon. Avoiding the eyes, apply mask to face. Leave on for 15 minutes or until mask dries. Rinse off with cool water. (The vitamin C in strawberries lightens dark spots, lemon exfoliates, and banana conditions.)

Lip Scrub

Basic recipe
1 T oil (coconut, olive oil, or jojoba oil works)
1 T granulated sugar

Mix together until goopy (but not runny) and massage onto lips and wipe off. Apply lip balm after. Will store in refrigerator for a few weeks.

For flavor &  pizzazz:
Add equal parts wet and dry ingredients to keep the right, goopy texture.

Coconut oil, brown sugar, and a little cocoa powder.
Coconut oil, ground coffee, and granulated sugar.
Coconut oil, brown sugar, and a little cinnamon (a natural plumper).
Honey, granulated sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The possibilities are endless!

Foot Scrub

1 part coconut oil
2 parts sugar
2-3 drops of essential oil (Peppermint is great for this)
Dash of lemon juice

Mix ingredients. Soak feet in warm water. Follow with foot scrub, massage mixture onto feet. Rinse, then rub your feet with lotion and slip into thick socks.

Sauna in the Shower

Essential oil

Run your shower at high heat until steamy. Spray a warm washcloth with essential oil. Get in shower and place washcloth over your face and breathe in the steamy scent. Great for unwinding and clearing up sinuses!

Hand Softener

2 spoonfuls of cold cream
2 drops tea tree oil
5 drops lavender oil
1 T olive oil
1 banana
Plastic dish gloves

Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth. Slather on hands and cuticles. Slip hands into gloves. If you have one, place gloved hands under a heating pad while you Netflix and Chill.

I hope these make you feel de-stressed and rejuvenated during this stressful time. During the pandemic, you can grab my first Maizie Albright Star Detective book, 15 MINUTES, for free. Try a treatment or two and relax with a book. I hope it will bring you some laughs and help you to unwind more!

Maizie Albright Star Detective book 1
Learn More:

Maizie Albright Star Detective book 6


Maizie’s mixing with international stars, spies, and her mother’s dark past in her sixth case in The Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

#WannabeSpy Maizie’s luck is running out. Maizie and Nash find themselves struggling to balance a new partnership and new relationship between missing persons’ cases, wild goose chases, and tracking a bullet into dangerous places. Sometimes it’s enough to make a girl NOT want to put a ring on it. When it comes to facing an 18-caliber killer, what will Maizie put up as the target? Her heart or her life?

Available everywhere:

A Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery, Maizie Albright Star Detective, and Finley Goodhart Crime Caper series as well as romantic comedies and women’s fiction. She loves to tell funny stories about Southern women looking for love (and sometimes dead bodies) in all the wrong places. You might have seen Larissa and family with their little dog, Biscuit, on HGTV's House Hunters International "Living for the Weekend in Nagoya" episode, but they’re back in Georgia now. Visit to learn more.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {4/10/20}

Because so many weeks have passed with no links at all, I'm going to try switching this to a monthly linky party posted on the first Friday of each month. The plan has always been to get back to sewing baby quilts myself, but that plan has been going nowhere fast and with the world the way it is right now, I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  

You'll always be able to find the current month's linky party by clicking on the tab at the top of the page. When things start picking back up, I'll increase the party frequency again. 

Thanks to everyone who's been participating, even when I haven't had the time and energy to do it myself! 

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

{I've Been Reading} 18 Caliber

I absolutely love the Maizie Albright Star Detective Mysteries by Larissa Reinhart, so it's no surprise that I was thrilled with 18 Caliber, the latest book in the series. If you haven't read them yet (or haven't seen me gushing about them here on the blog) Maizie is a former child star trying to become a real life private detective. She's moved from California to Georgia and is currently living with her father who made his fortune selling deer pee scented hunting gear, and working with her mentor, Nash. In a couple of years, if Maizie sticks to the terms of her probation, she'll have her own license.

Maizie and Nash are still working for Maizie's overbearing mother, Vicki, who bought Nash's agency in a previous book. There's a bullet in the doorway of Vicki's mansion, which is full of guests and never has the expensive alarms turned on. A kung fu coach has gone missing but Vicki refuses to let them involve the police.  Oh, and Maizie is jealous of her mother's new fish. That makes total sense considering that Vicki seems fonder of  the animal than she is of her own daughter.

In addition to the mystery, this book focuses more than usual on Maizie and Nash's relationship and where it might be going. Their chemistry is so great that I'd happily read a book about just the two of them. 

Disclosure, because the FTC requires them and even if they didn't I'd be up front about things. Larissa sent me an advance review copy.  

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

House of Roses

I stitched a thing and it turns out that I absolutely love red aida. Or maybe it's just this hunk of red aida that I must've picked up at a thrift store or estate sale.  The pattern is House of Roses, a freebie I stumbled across and printed out with the plan that I'd start stitching it for Maynia. 

A week or two ago, I started seeing all of the Be Well and Stitch patterns and they motivated me to start something new and this was still on the printer because I don't print things often....

I started with a partial skein of  white floss left over from Camp Crystal Lake and when that ran out I pulled out a partial skein from the project bag where I'm still keeping the Emerald City SAL. Then I finally dug out a full skein.

Turns out you can make something pretty nifty with a piece of thrifted fabric and some leftover floss an a pattern you found online...

Friday, April 03, 2020

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {4/3/20}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Today is Thursday

I'm working on a project. Now that I've picked up the stitches along the long edge and started the decreases, I'm actually enjoying it. For a couple of weeks, I couldn't picture the angles in my head and even though I'd checked and rechecked and was sure I was doing it right, I didn't think it would come together. Now that I can see how my shawl matches the diagrams and the rows are so much longer, I'm finding it soothing to knit on this one. 

I had to look at the calendar to be sure what day it is because things are starting to blur. Even though we've been following the rules for sheltering in place for almost a month now, I can't claim that I've been home for a long string of days because I've been driving my oldest son to his new (essential) job and picking him up at the end of his shift. There and back without leaving the car myself. Following the rules and trying to be patient.

We've finally solved the mystery of  the laundromat, after hearing rumors that it was only open when an attendant was there. It's open the regular hours, you just have to sit in your car while the load runs. We learned during the Walmart fire last spring that once the load is running there's no getting your clothes out until it's done. I can set the timer on my phone and sit in my car, which is honestly a lot more comfortable than the benches inside even if it is kind of cold. I wonder what the people without cars are expected to do...

Remember those reusable cloth shopping bags I finally got around to making? Some local stores aren't letting you bring your own bags at all, or are making you bag your own stuff if you do (I'm totally fine with that) or even using the old thin bags that we just banned because they were so horrible. Now the shopping carts and parking lots are full of abandoned latex gloves. 

If I sound tired and cranky, it's because I am. We're hanging in there at my house. Everyone seems to be healthy. Everyone in my immediate family who has a job is either essential or able to work from home or was already telecommuting in the first place.  One of my kids is starting a brand new job. One is buying a house. If that was all that was going on, I'd be stressed. But that's not all that's gong on. 

I'm trying to focus on creative projects  because there's not a whole lot else I can do right now. How are you all holding up? 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

{I've Been Reading} The Murals

The Murals by William Bayer

Jason Poe breaks into the house on Locust Street to take pictures for a project about abandoned houses. He's not expecting the murals that confront him in a tiny upstairs room. Completely covering all four walls, sinister figures have a powerful impact on the viewer. He made his career photographing the horrors of war, but these figures have an intensity to him that he can't look away from.   Locust street has an awful reputation and he knew about the crimes that took place in two other houses that were demolished long ago, but he didn't know about the "cult house." Now that Jason has seen the paintings, he's determined to find out who created them and why.

This book wasn't what I was expecting, but the story pulled me in and kept me turning pages. It's told "in the voices of the participants" and has almost a documentary feel to it. (My reaction might also have been influenced by the fact that I'd watched Candyman late the night before I started reading and couldn't stop picturing the murals from that movie.)

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 


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