What “Living Winsomely is all about.”

Welcome to my blog site Living winsomely. I am a  believer that our homes are our castles and our hearts snuggery. They are our safe harbor, warm cozy place of refreshment and a berth where beauty can surround us everyday, soothing our souls and spirits.ritz107 As we create the dreams  within our hearts and bring them to life in each room, they add bliss and comfort to our lives and a place of repose and tranquility to every guest who enters our doors.  There is such a wealth of ways to bring forth an abundance of beauty within our ‘safe havens. My desire is to share these ideas with you as we begin this journey together.

Whether it be your Antebellum dining room, woodsy, warm, window filled office or captivating bedrooms that evoke an invitation for romance, refreshing and pampering to the soul, there are a bounty of ways to begin your peregrination to make your home the most inviting, alluring and resplendent home ever. B-4

My goal in creating this website is to share with you, each reader, some of my imaginative adaption’s of esteemed traditions in which I hope will inspire you as you create your own lovely and stunning home.

Within my blog site ‘Living winsomely,’ I will explore with you an abundance of ideas of how to create the home of your dreams. All the way from fragrances, lighting, floral arrangements, furniture formations, color schemes, fabrics, room themes, music, cuisine, and delightful party ideas, making your guests (as well as yourself,) feel comfy and pampered. I will also implement some great ideas on how to quickly change your home around with items you already possess if you are desiring a ‘new look.’


Along with the myriad of decor ideas, I want to share how to create a more beautiful life. Your home is the sanctuary where all of your old and new ‘feel good’ memories and quiet joys tarry. I love to bring out that joy everyday and live within it, creating a more beautiful life for myself and our family. Whether learning to cook new cuisine  with your significant other, (we adore the food channel,) having breakfast in bed as Z-55you unabashedly take an hour or two to read the newspaper or watch your favorite classic movie, you can create your own pampered hours. How about making your home a weekend vacation retreat with using your best china, crystal and linens,  lighting a sundry of candles, not answering the phone or door bell and hiding away in your little cache, enjoying one another, (or just using the time for yourself if you live alone,) to bring forth refreshing and rejuvenation. A few other ideas… create a chimera-vision box with articles and photos of your dream homes, places you would love to travel, go to a High Tea at and the renowned eateries you would like to visit.  Create an eloquent setting under an alfresco canopy beneath your heroic trees, or amidst your flourishing garden…bringing forth a ‘sylvan charm’ as you read your novel and sip on your tea, robust coffee, lemonade or glass of Merlot.  Choosing to live a more beautiful life with my family has changed our lives in many positive ways.

anne geddes flower abiesbaby in the garden

Living a winsome life is like going back to our childhood days… where being adventurous, creative and full of life was a normal day! Now, as an adult, it takes a little more work to receive all the childhood gifts that once beheld us.The giggles and endless curiosity and learning of our years as a baby, the bounce, vigor and creativity of our ‘toddler season’ and the urge to throw a snowball, play games all night long and go on adventuresome journeys as we did in our youth.  🙂 It is all there, still available to us in a plenitude of forms as we create our days and surroundings.

I believe that cultivating beauty all around us, enjoying the pampering of all five senses and living life to the fullest each day, (as children do naturally) brings a richness and joy to our hearts and souls!

I hope this site inspires you to bring forth your dreams, whether through decor or the things you choose to engender more beauty and joy into your life.

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”~ Elizabeth Lawrence.

“It’s never to late to have a happy childhood.” Tom Robbinslittle_girl_briard3

Happy Creating!

CREDITS FOR PHOTOS. In placing your computer mouse over any of the photos or graphics, it will display to you where it originated from.

***  Dear readers, I want to encourage you to leave as many comments or questions on my blog site that you would like. There is no E-mail address associated with anyone’s name or comments for other blogger’s to see unless you would like to share it. (Don’t forget, I also have a “contact page” if you need to leave a personal message as well as ask questions.)   I am enjoying all of you who visit my site from other countries! The Internet is amazing. PLEASE know that I can’t publish on my site comments or refer sites that are not written in English. I hope that you are able to put it in a translated form as you do your replies.  Lastly, I am implementing “credit”  to where it belongs RE; the photographs I use on my blog…Very few of them are mine and I feel blessed to have such a great resource with Google Images as well as my favorite magazines clippings , (some of them I have had for over 15 years.)  Thank you all for coming to my site and have a wonderful day! Susan




“No spring nor SUMMER beauty hath such GRACE as I have seen in ONE AUTUMNAL face.” ~ John Donnemystic beach for writing

Summer time along the coast is undoubtedly a ‘slice of heaven, But how about an Autumn escape to the shores? In this vignette, I want to share a few quaint, enchanting, historic and unforgettable inlet coves and majestic beaches that will not only captivate you with their tranquil charm and beauty, but will touch a pace deep inside  your soul, that will reside within your heart forever. The welcomed autumn season brings new savory aromas,   breathtaking and inspiring sights as well as a deep awareness that nature truly is the ‘handiwork of God.” I grew up in southern California and everyday was a beach or Dana Point harbor day, as the temperatures were superb and the weather, gorgeous, all year round. (OK, yes, it does rain in California…so minus a few days here and there! ) 🙂  Winter, spring, summer and fall in Laguna beach was always exciting and fun, but I can barely remember a day , their shores were not crowded with people. It wasn’t until I discovered the beaches on the east coast that I realized, the serenity, stillness and euphoric beauty a deserted , autumn shoreline could embody. The beaches, marshlands and rustic creeks on the Atlantic ocean are my very favorite places to frequent in the brisk fall months.hammock3 There is nothing quite like their calming solitude, natural wonder as well a their bestowal of a  much needed respite for the soul.  Taking long walks upon the deserted white sands,  with only the company of the silvery moon, its bright hues of  hushed white reflecting on the water, perhaps a sea turtle making its way across the dunes, the sound of the seabirds cooing and the subtle roar of the waves, leisurely strolling into shore, is about as peaceful as it gets.  I want to share with you two special inlet coves, surprisingly hidden during this splendid season and definitely worth planning an autumn escape around!



DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

“Winter is an etching, spring a water color, Summer, an oil painting and AUTUMN, a mosaic of them all.” ~ Stanley Horowitz

“To travel is to live.” ~ Hans Christian Anderson ad111

“I read, I travel, I become.” ~Derick Walcott

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

“I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshinead107 by staying in the house, so I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.” ~ Nataniel Hawthorne

“Ones destination is never a place, but a NEW WAY of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller new way of seeing things

“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture and we travel to be lost.” ~ Ray Bradbury

” A few days ago, I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of the leaves with each step I made. cabin3 The acoustics of this season are different , and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.” ~ Eric Sloane



Our first destination: Mystic Connecticut.

It was the autumn of 2003…on a whim, while living in Alexandria Virginia, my husband Kit and I decided to load up our jeep, (Grantham in the back on his quilted, soft  tapestry bed,)punk2 with ample ‘road trip’ snacks, our favorite CD’s, camera, Map Quest directions and plenty of warm clothes and journey to Connecticut.   We  were like little kids at Christmas time as we were off to see the  fall foliage display amongst a new land. (I had always heard New England is the place to go, to experience the height of visual beauty in the fall.) “They” were 100% correct! 🙂 The entire state of Connecticut was one ‘gorgeous’ site after another. We were oohing and awing over  New Haven’s prestigious architecture and bustling city, with it’s ancient trees, festooned in vibrant reds, electric yellows and poignant amber and rust colored leaves.beautiful lady 3 Harvard University was galvanic, august and had a touch of England within it’s prestigious presentation.  We had lunch in the adorable and quaint city of Mitford, overlooking the water and after a delightful cuisine of ‘comfort foods,’  we walked Graham on the secluded, tranquil beach in beautiful  Bridgeport.Gold Star Memorial Bridge The bridges in Groton were not only scenic and tranquil, but at the same time like an E-ticket ride at Disneyland.  Every city was fresh and  new to us, capturing our attention with it’s resplendent charm.   Graham was especially thrilled as every time we stopped off at a Starbucks  during our visit,  he was surprisingly treated by the staff to  a tasty  dog-cookie as we ordered our hot lattes . 🙂 beautiful lady 4 As soon as we thought we had seen all the beauty our eyes (as well as souls,)  could behold, we entered the charming, historic and fairytale like village of Mystic. Though our stay was short, Mystic and its surrounding  towns of Stonington and Noank, and all the extraordinary memories we made there, are embedded within our hearts and minds for a lifetime.

I love the quote by J.R.R. Tolkien; “Not all those who wander, are lost.” Let me tell you…we wandered and didn’t care if we were lost. With abandon, we  put away all  of our maps and “places to go”  guidebook,  and just drove until we got so hungry we had to stop. 🙂 If ever you can fall in love with a place, we had taken the plunge. As you enter this glorious village, the first site you see, (unquestionably worth a stop and at least a dozen  photos,) is one of Mystic’s landmarks, the subtle yet grandeur village graveyard.mystic10 With it’s cobblestone fences, antiquated trees and stellar architecture, it exudes history and charm. As we continued our drive,  we saw a myriad of ‘instant dream homes’ on every corner…all of them romantic, enchanting and irrefutably heart-stopping with the beauty they possessed…   Slowly meandering in our jeep down Gravel street, we were taken aback by the Colonial Cape Cods and Greek revival homes . Nestled close to the water,  they were once  owned by  renowned sea captains, or ship builders.  (Their names and titles  proudly displayed upon the shiny silver plaques  upon the nostalgic, seafaring houses entry ways. ) We ended up on Starr ST. which is right on the mystic river. I don’t think my eyes blinked for five minutes with its stellar beauty and grandiose welcome. (The homes around this famous river were beyond what Webster calls exquisite, grand and lovely.) I wanted to set up camp in our jeep and never leave. Downtown Mystic was just as charming with it’s legendary, historic drawbridge, unique boutiques with their windows dressed for fall, old historic churches that looked like they didn’t belong in the 21st century with their Victorian, Colonial architecture  and uninhibited, august design. If you were to buy a scenic coffee table book with 100 pages of autumn splendor, it would not  compare to the volume of  Mystics exuberant fall display.aut20 We were charmed by the scarecrows, pumpkins, and  the old cider mill in the bucolic countryside, as well as the massive Tall ships in the harbor, ( looking as if they had just returned from a long trip out at sea.)  Their grandiose appearance  likened to a step back in time, when pirates roamed the ocean waters, embellishing their many  tales of dauntless adventures with exotic mermaids, ample, shiny gold and of course, their  buried treasures. The cuisine in Mystic and Stonington was undeniably ‘five- star.’ We stopped for lunch at The Skippers Dock…It was like a dream come true on a chilly autumn day. There were two cozy and mesmerizing  fires  burning within their gallant, resplendent hearths. Our table was right on the water and we were treated like royalty from start to finish. S-33 I had never tasted a new England, Harbor-view Bouillabaisse entree, and let me tell you, it alone was worth the 8 hour drive form Virginia. The lobster sandwich, (A new England tradition) was to die for. We must have stayed for hours basking in the engaging, warm and delightsome ambiance, comforted by the medley of savory aromas. We stayed at a familiar place a few nights, ( The Holiday Inn) and then at an eccentric and ‘real taste of Mystic’ Bed and Breakfast, The Harbor Inn and Cottage.  I am not kidding when I tell you that when the innkeeper greeted us, he looked identical to Earnest Hemingway’s portrait of ‘The Old man in the sea.’ (He was just missing the pipe.)  🙂  Our little cottage came with a hot tub and Graham was so excited to be in Mystic with Kit and I, that he decided to jump into the steaming jacuzzi with us… (forgetting  that the two things he hates most  in doggy life are water and heat.) 🙂  We had dinner at a lovely eatery across from the river called The River walk, in downtown Mystic.  The ambiance was cozy, romantic and friendly.  They served the best freshly grilled salmon Caesar salads accompanied with fresh homemade bread,  still hot from the oven.  My husband ordered a superb, seafood  pasta dish that was out of this world. We were in heaven!

Truly, everyday was like a day in paradise…so much so, that we traversed back several times… The fall trip was our favorite… The air was brisk and the entire area was dressed in an array of buoyant, blithesome colors, announcing autumns arrival. The quaint eateries and historic sites were not crowded at all…we felt like we had this magical place, all  to ourselves.

If you decide to visit Mystic for your ‘autumn escape,’ some other special places to experience are the delightful and  spectacular sea aquarium with dolphins,S-17 seals and Beluga whales, the Ship Museum and the renowned eatery, Mystic Pizza. ( I hear Julia Roberts comes in every now and then, (incognito) to get the “house” pizza.) (Just joshing!) 🙂 (But she might.)  The Colonial Olde Mystick Village with its abundance of  charming  and wondrous shops is a great place to spend a day… (especially the enchanting Christmas boutique, in which I could spend hours alone, hunting for my treasures.)  There are endless, rousing inlet coves in Noank, (right on Mystics border, ) historic lighthouses in Stonington, (another town on the skirt of Mystic,) and be sure to go to the Cider mill for a piping,  hot mug of fresh apple cider. I almost forgot, if you have time, be sure to see Fox-woods luxurious hotel and casino , bestowed with an abundance of fantastic eateries, unique and endearing boutique shops, and of course plenty of  celebrity entertainment and a great place for those of you who are nighttime , (stay up late) people.

Kit and our precious Graham at the Harbor Inn Cottage…. Before the jacuzzi incident! 🙂 I think the fisherman, (Our innkeeper)  was taking a snooze in the “Main house.”   mystic lodge 1

Susan and Graham at The Holiday Inn in new Haven.  Another great place to stay in Mystic is  ‘The Inn At Mystic.’  (They are pet friendly and we all know how important that is!) 🙂

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The gorgeous and elaborate Fox-woods.This was another stay in Mystic, (Christmas time,) and all I can say is we had the best time of our lives! Definitely worth visiting. No we did not win any money! 🙂 The food was delicious! mystic lodge 2

A beautiful, historic home on Gravel Road in Mystic… (One of our favorites.) mystic house 2

The legendary Mystic River with its dreamy blue waters and placid stillness. S-19

Your welcoming sign upon arrival! (And believe me, YOU WILL FEEL VERY WELCOMED!) Everyone was so amiable and friendly!S-18

The renowned Mystic Pizza eatery! (If you have never seen that movie with Julia Roberts, it truly is  a ‘must see.’ 🙂 mystic2

Taking a country drive in Connecticut. Does it get any more beautiful than this?Salem in the Fall

New England in the autumn season. Breathtaking!october1-4

The Olde Mystick Village…you have got to go to the Christmas shop that is open year round.ad16

Noank in the wintry season…we fell in love with this town, the first time we laid eyes upon it. noank

Stonington…another one of our favorite villages  in Connecticut , right on the border of Mystic. (It’s hard to tell where Mystic ends and Stonington begins.) 🙂noank1

Mystic in the fall… the place that captured our hearts and has never given them back. 🙂 noank2

The front yard of our favorite home in Mystic…It is nestled upon the serene river with a gorgeous  view  of the historic graveyard, Mystic’s seaport museum, Tall ships and the replicated, galvanic lighthouse. mom1

An elfin, charming home in Noak… One of the most beautiful village towns I have ever seen.mystic noank

The mysterious Mystic river at the delightful gloaming hour…mystic5

A wonderful Bed and Breakfast in Mystic called the Mermaid Inn. mystic mermaid inn

Another lovely view of the Mermaid Inn of Mystic.mermaid-inn

This is the quaint cottage we stayed at where Grantham jumped into the jacuzzi with us. Oh what fond memories! 🙂 Harbor inn

Whether in the glorious autumn season, or during the festive and magical time of Christmas, amid spring’s show-stopping majesty with it’s layered tones of the seasons bursting foliage and flowers or the inspiring and thrilling summer season,  you will  not only be abundantly blessed by this historical village, but will find you can’t wait to go back.



Our next exhilarating destination… The inlet creeks of Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island in the historic and hauntingly beautiful South Carolina.murrells inlet 2


It was the year of  2003 that Mystic Connecticut stole my heart, but Murrell’s inlet captured it when I was just a little girl. I feel as if I grew up myself amongst this fetching and luring marshland with it’s mesmerizing, spell-bounding salt creeks, ample fishing, crabbing, shrimping , antiquated oak trees and the nostalgic fragrance of  the inlets briny water, with each story my mom told us about her childhood amongst the shore.

My six siblings and I “always” knew when one of her ‘tales,’ was about to begin. We would all gather around her, anticipating excitedly, as we awaited her every word.beautiful mom Her big brown eyes, southern drawl, and warming smile  caught our attention as she spoke…she was lost in her bliss of the inlets charm, talking about her yesteryear’s as if it were her ‘yesterdays,’ (her memories were as clear and vivid, as if they had just recently occurred.)

We laughed until our sides ached,  when she told us about the time she and all of her ‘kissing-cousins’, dauntlessly crowded themselves into a tiny fishing boat on the Inlet waters,(hoping and praying they wouldn’t sink.)hammock2 Bright-eyed and full of mischief, they excitedly explored the  creek’s haunting coves , enjoying the Brobdingnagian, ancient oak trees and  miry swamps as they’d re-tell  their favorite lore’s of the Islands legendary ghosts, (talking with their mouths full, as children always do) joyously eating their sun-warmed pimento cheese sandwiches.   (After hours “out at sea,”) :), sun burnt and a bit tired, they reluctantly headed back to shore,aligator (their ears and eyes carefully watching any movement in the water,) just encase an alligator and it’s baby “just happened” to pick the same day as them to frequent the creek.) 🙂

Before they headed back to the beach house, they decided to go crabbing… (It didn’t matter if they caught any delicious sea delicacies…they just had the time of their lives trying.)hammock8 As they walked through the tall marsh grass, they could smell the heavenly aroma of a home cooked southern dinner awaiting them. Their slow meandering pace, became a fast jaunt as they began to smell the cornbread biscuits baking in the oven…as they sat down at the rustic wooden dining table , they were so hungry they almost forgot to say grace, as the fried chicken, butter beans, sweet potato souffle, okra,  collard greens, hammock6(gosh that is a lot of carbs,) was set before them. After second helpings , you’d think that they would say “no, absolutely cant eat another bite,” to dessert. Not a chance!  The homemade ‘pee-can’ pie, (as my adorable, big blue eyed , soon to be a movie star cousin,  Jonathon pronounces it,)  was the treasure they had looked forward to all day!

Every summer, their Inlet adventures continued as they would reunite…”The same place- the same time,” each year. I was in absolute awe that they still met up as young women at the childhood spot they all adored. This gathering was a little different…instead of a fishing boat, and crabbing, they would put on their new , fashionable bathing suites, take a picnic lunch, and sunbathe on the white sands, hoping to get a wink or two from a handsome military man home on leavebeautiful lady. (And you can bet they did not rush home to a southern cooked meal…) They were more interested in their tiny waits lines than their palates. 🙂

As a little girl, my favorite tales that my mom shared about the Inlet, were those of the legendary Grey man and Alice Flagg’s frequent , “ghostly” visits to the Hermitage. mom(She also threw in a few of her own canny tales from the huge Southern Victorian home she grew up in.)  Were her stories true or Embellished myths? It didn’t matter, we just wanted to hear them again and again. (But to this day…residents and visitors alike on the Inlet and Pawleys island say they still see these the two ghosts wandering the land.) hammock 10Before a hurricane hits the shore, the Grey man is seen…his presence is to warn visitors and the residents to leave the island before it is to late. Sure enough, his appearance has saved many a lives. Alice and the Hermitage? A tragic story of an refined young woman, who though forbidden by her brother and legal guardian, accepted the marriage proposal of a handsome, young lumber jack in town. She was sent away to a prestigious boarding school in Charleston, where she died suddenly of malaria…when her brother found the engagement ring,(secretly worn as a necklace on her body,) he threw the ring into the marsh. hermitgae“People say” they see Alice, (even 150 years later) at the Hermitage and amongst the family graveyard, looking for her lost ring.  The Hermitage draws in many tourists and Alice still receives flowers and sentiments upon her grave site. Perhaps the legends and folklore of the Inlet are some of the very things that make up its romantic charm and charisma, attracting so many fans  to its magical and alluring coastal village. As I became a young woman, I  too visited Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. My moms memories and stories were embedded deep within my heart and my expectations exceedingly high…I was not disappointed one bit! It truly was just as she  had described. To this day, it is one of my favorite places in all the world. Yes, the years  have definitely changed this magical tale bearing land, but its antebellum charm has never left. I know if my mom were alive today, she’d find that cherished inlet cove , that she and her cousins “frolicked and played,” and with a big grin and her smiling brown eyes, reminisce about her childhood days upon the saltwater creeks and marshes of the Inlets.

If you love chilly, moonlit nights on the strands, (deserted) white dunes, the sounds of the  birds and nightlife upon the inlet creeks, the mellifluous “hoo, hoo, hoo’s”  of the great horned owls,  chirping crickets, dapper pelicans, playful dolphins, a tiptoeing alligator or two,(or three…) 🙂 ,  beautiful lady 5 fireflies, the smell of briny water,  shrimping, crabbing, pier fishing, reading a beloved novel, relaxing upon a legendary Pawleys Island Hammock, nestled under a canopy of antiquated oak trees,  ice cold glasses of sweet tea,Beach Hammock (with sprigs of fresh mint,)  down home southern cooking, hot ‘pee-can’ pie, a la mode, history, cottages and plantations of yesteryear, you will love Murrell’s Inlet in the autumn.

There are so many spectacular places to see on the shore… (I myself would be exploring the inlet by day,  take a late afternoon hammock snooze, walk the moonlit beach, and rent a beach house on the water that had a big, cozy fireplace.) 🙂 The scenic and breathtaking flowers alone are worth a trip to the  lovely  Brook green gardens.  Huntington State beach with its inviting camp grounds, alluring wildlife, enchanting Atalaya castle,atalaya ( a heart stopping Moorish estate,) the Wachesaw Plantation and an equestrian center, are all a treat for the eyes as well as the soul.  Great places to stay if you decide not to rent a beach cottage are the Hampton inn Murrell’s Inlet and Ellington’s at Wachesaw plantation, (truly a visit back in time with its charming and galvanic ambiance.)sc505The Hot Fish club has superb seafood and one of my favorite eateries in the entire country is only a short  drive up the shore , nestled on the water, a wondrous restaurant called The Sea Captains House. I have more heartwarming  memories of that little cottage eatery than I can count….their cuisine is out of this world and it truly is one of the cities landmarks.  Lastly, I must add that Murrells inlet is known as the host to the FINEST golf courses in the country. 🙂

If we were given two lives on earth at the same time, I would be on the Inlet waters all the time…Not just because I miss my mom and her winsome story telling, and the magic and charm she shared with us,  tale after tale, or that this captivating land makes me feel her presence, but because Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island  truly  are  showstopping lands, filled with beauty and a romantic history that stands alone. It is unlike any other place we have traveled…(and I still want to see one of  those gators.) (In a large cruise ship of course.)  🙂 I can guarantee you, you will fall in love with this inlet waterway in your autumn escape to Murrells Inlet or Pawleys island…Two of South  Carolinas choice and beloved  places to see.

A lurking alligator in the salt marsh creeks. (I would turn my little boat the other way!) 🙂oyster catcher 3

More exciting and beautiful wildlife upon the Inlet waters of South Carolina. Whether it is the captivating beauty of the Oyster catchers, laughing gulls, sanderlings or the ruddy turnstone, the lively creatures of the inlet waterway are undoubtedly a big part of the creeks charisma and romantic charm.

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oyster catcher

I can’t think of anything as pleasurable and enticing to the soul, than the natural beauty of the tall marsh grass, a weathered fishing pier and the lush green foliage of the islands saltwater creeks.  pawleys-island-7

Pawleys Island and Murrell’s inlet are also known as ‘the hammock beaches’…While visiting there, don’t forget to check out the galvanizing, enchanting Hammock Shop.  pawlaeys isalnd

My (young) 🙂  mom in her new bathing suit attire on the Inlet waters… Doesn’t look like she has been eating any carbs at all! 🙂 D-70

The Inlet is filled with romantic, intriguing and arresting history as well as charm, appeal and resplendent beauty.SONY DSCSONY DSC

There is nothing like the site of  a South Carolina , ancient oak tree… A perfect setting or backdrop  for a thrilling  mystery novel or nail biting suspense movie. These antiquated trees always look as if they  have a story to tell! 🙂TR-PAWLEYS

The charm and loveliness of the Gardens and Plantations upon the Inlet waters, are not only breathtaking and mesmerizing but make an impression upon your soul that will be with you forever. Its part of the Carolinas, romantic charm.  ardent escape 9

A very special memory for me when I was in my twenties… My cousin Roy’s home upon the waterway in South Carolina… Not only was I treated like royalty, but the ‘southern home cooking’ changed my palate forever. 🙂ad108

The Inlet and Pawleys Island are known for their “front porch story telling”…Just add a few glasses of  sweet tea, some boiled peanuts, great conversation and camaraderie,  and your day will be  “right as rain.” 🙂 sc511

While experiencing Murrells Inlet, if you feel up to taking a short drive up the strand, one of the best seafood restaurants I  have ever been to is The Sea Captains House. After a scrumptious dinner of homemade jambalaya or a late afternoon lunch of the House Specialty, shrimp salad, Broadway at the beach is right around the corner with delightful shops, delicious eateries and fabulous celebrity entertainment.

sc509autumn escape 3

Another great place to eat at the Inlet is Captain Dave’s Dockside… You’ve never tasted seafood like fresh fish from the inlet waters. Wet your appetite with a scrumptious appetizer or two…  Savory Oysters Rockefeller or Low country steamed muscles. For your grand finale entree, they offer a delightful fresh salmon Florentine or their renowned Carolina crab cakes. daves

A beautiful home in Murrells Inlet…It just needs a few pumpkins and scarecrows for your Autumn escape. 🙂murrels

I always  think of the classic movie, ‘Gone with The Wind,’ when I see the historic, magnificent southern Plantations. sc503

I think I found a new place of bliss! 🙂 (Just give me a writing pad, pen and a chair to sit upon…)  sc57

The renowned Southern Humming bird cake…a “gotta try” when your in the south. It will melt in your mouth.hammock5

A beautiful, still and peaceful day on the Inlet! autumn esacpe 4

Grandiose! Gorgeous! Enveloping! This is the reason why this elfin land will forever be, etched upon my heart! sc500

Again, whether you choose to get away for a respite to Murrells  Inlet and Pawleys Island in the ardent ,brisk autumn, the romantic and festive Christmas season, the glorious season of spring,  or amidst a summer time of bliss, these inlet coves are places that are  authentic and genuine, overflowing with beauty and southern, historical charm. The cuisine is  superb, there is always plenty to do, (even if it is reading your abandoned novel or two,)  while relaxing under the oak trees on a Pawleys Island hammock, You will not be disappointed either… These enchanted village towns get a 10+ rating in my book!  🙂


I want to leave you with a scrumptious “seafood” recipe in celebration of the these two enchanting sea cove villages…. I hope you enjoy! salmon

This is a family recipe that is one of Kit’s and my favorites….(actually Grantham’s too 🙂 It is called “Savory Salmon Delight!” I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 🙂


A large, (at least one pound) fresh salmon fillet, one package of fresh mushrooms, sliced, dill seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, 2-3 TBSP. butter, Tabasco sauce, (if you like it spicy like us,)  about 1/2 cup of white wine and freshly steamed rice.


Rinse your fresh salmon off and place in buttered pan, casserole dish or 13×11 Pyrex dish. (I use a Terracotta fish cooker baking dish with a covered lid.) Season your salmon to taste…(we also use lots of dill…)  In a sauté pan, melt two tablespoons of butter on low heat.  Over low to medium heat , sauté your mushrooms until tender. Pour your mushrooms and melted butter over the salmon, add your white wine (the amount to your taste,)  and cover with baking lid or tin foil. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees… Salmon should begin to flake when cut into, when it is done. Cook you rice while the salmon is baking or if have a rice cooker, time you’re cooking with the time that the salmon will be ready and serve the salmon and its juices over your warmed rice. This recipe is healthy, simple to make and delicious.It is greatly complimented  with a Caesar salad and a loaf of French or sourdough bread, hot from the oven. Bon Appetit!


PHOTOGRAPHS: By placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or  graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.





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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year… They’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting…” Oops, wrong season. 🙂 I just get a little overly enthusiastic when Autumn arrives… 🙂  (And you know, I am still trying to decide which season is my favorite between the two?)

Suddenly, the air has gone from sultry, sweltering and torrid to  a lovely brisk and inviting ballad of revival and exhilaration. blue skies The sky is a deep blue, with fluffy white clouds, magically fluctuating as they  coast along with the welcomed, soft breeze. Our precious gloaming hour greets us sooner each evening as the sun  says “goodnight” a bit earlier.

Something deep inside of us sparks a trigger, evoking a renewed excitement, an anticipation of adventure, cozy convivial dinners with friends, robust coffee by the fireplace, the upcoming local Oktoberfest, and the new fall premiere television shows are just beginning…(Yeah! no more reruns,) and of course, a new season to DECORATE… 🙂

With the temperatures getting cooler, we busily gather our warm sweaters, plaid scarves, Pendleton jackets and suede boots from our chilly attics, as we,( excitedly as well as a bit wistful,)  pack away our summer attire. We are treated to  the engaging new aromas of burning leaves,ad112 the freshly cut wood, kindling within our neighbors fireplaces, hot mugs of spicy mulled cider, apple cakes baking in the oven and the nostalgic scent of hay, as we gather together our bales and  begin setting up our ‘autumn yard displays.’  We proudly bring out our faithful and animated  scarecrowsad86, grapevine wreaths festooned with candescent red berries and medley of purple, fiery red and sunflower yellow mums for our porches, ( along with the exemplary trademark of the glorious season,) our magical pumpkins…


The beach traffic has disappeared from our town’s roads…kids2Instead we welcome the Bunyanesque  “grand yellow buses.” Yes school is back in session…our kids no longer frequent the frig in their shorts , flip flops , tank tops, unrestrainedkids1 wind blown hair and red, sun burnt cheeks. Just seeing them get ready for ‘back to school’, evokes many nostalgic memories of our  own childhood school days, remembering when we got butterflies in out stomachs wondering; ‘Will I make some new friends this year? What will my teachers be like? Will the cafeteria serve better food, and I wonder if that ‘special someone’ will notice me this year?’ 🙂

I think the first confirmation, that I am not dreaming my adored season has arrived, is when I enter the produce section at our grocer and see ample boxes of Lilliput and Brobdingnagian, chubby, bright orange, (with a hint of amber) pumpkins.punk100 I already know where each one will go within my little cottage home, as well as the two that will charmingly keep our Briard dog, Grantham, company on the front porch for many Fall days to come.    I joyously fill our shopping basket, (amongst my newly selected and adorable ‘orange guys,’) 🙂  with a potpourri of new spices, and vegetables to make what my husband and I call “comfort meals.”  Whether delicious red potatoes, fresh carrots and chopped sweet onions simmering amidst a tempting beef roast in our crock pot, or Southern cooked collard greens,  baked garlic, butter nut squashblueskies 3 with the ‘center-of-attention’ being , a Rosemary roasted chicken, topped with an orange-maple glaze… A very welcomed change from summer salads and  light pastas.

It’s now time to bring some of that “blissful, autumn spirit” to the inside of our homes.IMG_0030 Our first task at hand is to take down all the bethnic , summer decor and make room for the new. As we find our boxes marked “Autumn Treasures,”  it  begins to feel like ‘Christmas’…its just been a year, but we have already forgotten all the mesmerizing and fortuitous fall collections we have gleaned over the years… We decide specifically where our scarecrows, cornucopias, baronial mantle geese, winsome  pumpkins and riveting, multi-hued, leaf garlands will go… the colors and textures of our couch throws and pillows change from ethereal and gossamer to passionate, rich and ardent. No longer will the aromas that bestowapple pumpkin our homes be summers  Yankee candle scents of citrus, mango and cilantro lime. Instead,  they will be enriched with Apple pumpkin, Cinnamon nutmeg and McIntosh apple, as we excitedly  burn our newly acquired, long awaited,  Fall candles.

Yes, Autumn has finally arrived, and ALL IS WELL! In this writing,   I would like to share some beautiful as well as creative ideas for celebrating the grandeur season of Fall, in and about your home, as well as some felicitous places to visit… I hope that when you have journeyed through this vignette, you will have at least one or two ‘new ideas’ for your Fall decorating this year.



DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNERAdorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

” I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ad95

” I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”~ L.M. Montgomery

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

“Fall has always been my favorite season, the time when everything bursts with it’s last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. ” ~ Lauren Destafano

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year.apple1 The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” ~ J.R Rowling

“Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” ~ Humbert Wolfe

“I love autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” Lee Maynard

“Don’t you just love New York in the fall?apple2 It makes me want to buy school supplies.” ~ Nora Ephron




Our homes first impression…The front porch!fall

Whether we welcome our guests and family with galvanizing autumn foliage, scarecrows amidst bales of hay or high bundles of tied rice straw, cheerful pumpkins or animated and festive wooden characters dressed for the wondrous season, festooning your porch or foyer with “Autumn spirit,” is magical as well as heartwarming.dc11

I love this pirate goose! 🙂 Very creative.ad82

This festive and warm entrance is classy, baronial and eminently welcoming! The stunning old brick and novel paned windows, reminds me of growing up in Alexandria, Virginia.


Right next to the ‘pumpkin,’ the classic scarecrow is certainly a grand announcement that Fall has arrived and with it, an abundance of charm and beauty. aut21

My all time favorite ” Scarecrow.” Is he creative or what? 🙂 ad83

Very picturesque and enveloping…It creates a desire within, to jump through this photo and be “right there” in the midst of this gorgeous and  mesmerizing, yet simple display of the new season. ad73

If this were my cozy porch, you’d see me out there everyday with my coffee and a good book! It looks especially alluring with it’s enchanting Fall decor. 🙂fall porch

A beautiful and snug wicker chair with this lovely and striking, autumn red, homemade, knitted  throw. Perfect for a chilly afternoon, your favorite novella and a hot cup of apple cider.


This autumn porch is unique, warm, captivating and a bit ‘magical’, all dressed up in it’s wondrous vintage attire! ad90

There is nothing to compare to an old “memory filled” porch swing in the chilly autumn season… The gift of brisk, fresh air, natures alluring sounds, the inviting aromas of the seasons foliage as well as your cup of cinnamon-apple tea or espresso, and a great book or favorite magazine… Now that is life! 🙂 ad89




When I think about decorating our home for the autumn season, I think of deep, rich colors that I can accent each room with, whether through pillows, throws, pictures, rugs, candles, scarecrows, a seasonal fall tree, pumpkins, fresh flowers in vibrant reds and oranges, as well as dried roses in reds and creamy yellows. There are a myriad of great ideas to “bring the season” inside your cozy  haven.

This living room’s patina is very warm and snug with it’s abundance of reds and yellows, seasonal displays of colorful gourds, diverse pumpkins, Fall foliage, rich hues within the throw pillows as well as  the august  mantle with it’s inviting autumn tableaux.  It certainly ‘looks’ like Fall.ad3

I love this vintage, Victorian living room with it’s mixtures of  fire engine reds,  pale  moss greens and soothing, soft whites. There is nothing like a roaring, entrancing  fire on a cold autumn day! Very inviting.  ad1

White pumpkins are becoming more and more popular…This decorator did a superb job of displaying the pumpkins on the mantle amidst the soft, warm, glowing candles…Very romantic. aut1

A beautiful, warm, cozy and snug gathering place … I can just imagine sitting around the fire place, with hot mulled cider and freshly baked Toll house cookies…sharing many happy memories with friends and family… There is nothing like a heartwarming and welcoming room on a cold, brisk autumn day!


I  can never have enough ‘petite white lights’ in stock! 🙂 One of my ” decorating signatures” is festooning  green garlands with petite amber lights upon our hutches for a celebratory and warm, inviting ambiance. Adding royal and majestic colored throws and decorative pillows adorned in an autumn color theme is subtle, yet still announces the cozy season of fall has knocked upon our doors.  fall705

Very cozy and formal. I adore these paned windows and Victorian style couch with it’s golden hints of the season. fall708

Changing your curtain color amidst your lace sheers is a wonderful and creative way to bring a seasonal change to your living room. Its fun to get a few accent pillows for your couch to highlight your new window treatment…The burgundy, yellow and verdant greens is a superb pick! fall704

This  living room makes you feel as if you are tucked away in a mountain cabin with a gorgeous, inviting lake nearby… I love it! With it’s pictorial perching duck, enchanting accent rug, traditional woods and sublime leather chair, it’s ambiance is warm and entrancing!fall703

I love this classy, arresting gathering place as it evokes emotions of peace, festivity and brings one that warm, snug feeling inside. The magical colors of autumn are certainly celebrated here! 🙂 fall beauty


I adore this august and baronial living room. It’s inviting  and cozy with it’s delightful, warm fire burning ,aesthetic brick fireplace and rustic wooden mantle. This decorators accents of soft tan and reds is not only picturesque and cozy, but refreshingly  pleasing to the soul!  cozy5

I am a bit partial to this living room as it is nestled within our little haven in Delaware… To bring the season into our room, I decorated  my seasonal tree with an autumn theme, added some fall colored, decorative pillows as well as rich, warm throws. I always put up scarecrows and pumpkins and have plenty of  wintry-fall aromatic scents burning…Today,  it is cinnamon nutmeg! 🙂    IMG_0112

A few more autumn decor ideas…( You can find the cutest scarecrows at fall festivals in your town or city, close to the time of Oktoberfest.)  I found this little guy at a craft festival in Delaware…Isn’t he a character? IMG_0069

I dressed up our “Magical Mr. Rabbit ” for the autumn season by giving him a fall garland with twinkling white lights along with a favored stuffed bunny (that you can’t see) 🙂 as she is holding a pumpkin.  IMG_0068


Your bedroom, decorated for the cozy fall season, creates an even more inviting and welcoming ambiance… this season,  enjoy your special niche, private get-away and sanguine bedroom , allowing yourself to feel pampered.ad30






Who wouldn’t feel pampered and soothed by this exquisitely warm and dulcet bedroom? I adore its soft mixtures of creamy yellows, vintage woods, highlights of hunter green as well as  the creative and heartening fall foliage wreath. This country cottage room is filled to the brim with charm and enchantment.fall709

“A manly room,” for sure… aesthetically entrancingly warm and welcoming. The royal colors, and architecture of the breathtaking sleigh bed, along with the artwork and old world style furniture, create a room that is not only enhanced with a fall flavor,’ but eminently comfortable and cozy with style.  ad100

This gossamer, romantic, (with a  touch of vintage decor,)  bedroom is breathtaking! I am impressed with the jocund fall foliage entwined within the artful, intricate wrought Iron head board, amidst the eye catching autumn pillows, breakfast tray with richly colored flowers and the soft, subtle lighting. Definitely a “keeper.”  ad99

OK…another “Keeper.” This charming and romantic bedroom looks like it is from the 18th century…Exceedingly cozy and welcoming, promising hours of ‘deep rest’ to anyone who lays their head upon its blithesome pillows. Just the euphoric colors of soft and dauntless golds amidst the creamy whites, creates an autumn flavor. Very lovely!


Wow! I have not seen such a sunny, upbeat, enchanting day bed like this one, in a long time. This bedroom is not only classy, but vividly picturesque and arresting. I adore the mixture of tapestry and checkered fabrics, and choosing the color combination of fire engine red, hushed gold and sage green is brilliant.  Again, the warm colors and  diverse woods bring a wintry-fall patina to this room just the way it is… I love it!ad97

If your not a big fan of the season but would like to add just a ‘touch’ of fall to your bedroom’s ambiance, pick a corner of your bedroom and create a festive display! Both of these creations are simple, subtle and heartening.  🙂aut34IMG_0030

Being a connoisseur of green garlands, 🙂  I use them all year round…this room is absolutely stunning, regal and inviting. With it’s alluring, royal linens and rustic, vintage furniture, it already delivers a strong Fall flavor… I love the distinctive and classic, anitiquated mirror.


Here are a few more subtle, simple fall decor ideas for your bedroom… Whether a cheery, pastel,  kaleidoscopic wreath or a corner dressed in regal and rich reds with fresh flowers, they are both elegant touches that celebrate the glorious season. 🙂  ad29ad6

Romantic, inviting and coddling with a few highlights of Autumn. (I love the white bed canopy!) 🙂  IMG_0052

This hutch has been magically transformed with the nuanced amber lights entwined within green garland, amidst a potpourri of colorful, wispy fall leaves and an amiable scarecrow.  It’s full of charm! It reminds me of a gathering of hundreds of elfin, lively fireflies dancing around the room. A great touch for the fall season.IMG_0053


                                                                                                                                                                              No matter where you serve your guests…it seems they LOVE your kitchen BEST!  Here aread56 a few fall decor ideas for the room you do most of your creating and inventing in…Your beloved kitchen.







Now here is a kitchen with some autumn “pizzazz.” 🙂 This decorator has eminently created a classy, yet festive tableaux of lively pumpkins, gourds, amidst the soft glow of candle light and natures bounty. What’s so beautiful about this fall decor is that it can stay up from the beginning of autumn until Thanksgiving day! (The day after, being the  official day that decorating for the Christmas holiday season begins.)   Very beautifully done.


A plate shelf dressed for the season. This would be a perfect ‘autumn touch’ for any style of kitchen. I love the rich greens and reds mixed with the floral design and subtle fall leaves.


I just adore this three tiered  silver cake stand… What a picture-book and alluring display of autumns wonder. ad51jpg

This kitchen owns what I call a “built in” fall patina. Its dried flowers, stately baskets, rustic woods and majestic colors of the season say it all! akk12

There is nothing like the color orange, to ‘dauntlessly shout out’  Autumns arrival.  This kitchen is beautiful with simple lines as well as rustically inviting!  autumn kitchen

These kitchen canisters are refined, enchanting and sublime, bringing forth a small, but eminent reminder that the leaves are changing and the apples are ripe for picking! A great find! 🙂  autumn kitchen 6

I love this decorators creative spirit for the holidays… What a beautiful display of this festive season…and I can only imagine the savory and alluring aroma! 🙂 autumn kitchen 5

This french Country kitchen is filled with charm, warmth and an abundance of cheery colors… With its resplendent dining table, quaint bench with vibrant  fall hued pillows, and built in, colonial green hutches, it is naturally dressed for the season. (A pumpkin or two would add a little bit more spirit… 🙂 autumn kitchen 4


 Whether inside, or alfresco dining, we can’t leave out the one ‘room’ where we gather with our loved ones, sharing many a story, laughter, memories and delectable cuisine. Our Beloved Dining room.

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The adoring colors of soft pewter grey, light fern green and sunny yellow is a beautiful combination for fall’s festive presentation. This dining table is  galvanic, charming and graceful. A welcomed , unique wintry-fall patina. fall724

The vibrant yellow amidst the warm woods, bright whites and soft golds is enveloping as well as beckoning. Once again, a room already dressed for an autumn celebration.fall722

Regal, stellar, superb and magical! This table setting would enhance any Fall gala or family celebration! You can’t go wrong with an abundance of golds, reds and white as your color theme.  fall720

This is one of my all time favorite dining rooms as it embodies a formal, yet relaxed and comfortable ambiance with it’s vaulted ceilings, resplendent window treatment, dreamy yellow walls, and warm, rich woods. A great idea for changing your decor for  each season are the inter-changeable slipcovers on these classy and lavish chairs… This grey-blue fabric is perfect for the brisk new season, and I can only imagine a Santa Claus red for the Christmas holidays. 🙂fall715

This ingenious and innovative chandelier is a wonderful idea for the autumn season. Not only is it creative with it’s rustic twigs and poignant garlands,  but definitely an eye catcher as well as a conversation piece at any gathering.  Great and creative idea!  ad10

This hutch and buffet table exude the very essence of the new seasons arrival with the harvest plates, display of colorful fruits, pumpkins, gourds and a delicious bounty of “comfort foods.” 🙂


This gorgeous side table is gifted with a perfect location in front of the beautiful view and arresting paned windows… The autumn tableaux display gets a ‘Five star rating’ with it’s radiant colors, diverse textures and inspiring presentation. I love it!   fall1

Again, if you are not a “more is more” decorator…perhaps just doing a corner arrangement for the season would bring a little festivity to your dining room…I love how this topiary tree, decorated with fall leaves, petite twinkling lights and the country scarecrow, reflects in the the hunter green, paned mirror. Simple, and cozy! IMG_0031

This side board  and antiquated mirror is absolutely stellar and extravagant.  I adore this dining room with its formality, enchantment and creative, elegant touches. Adding a few brilliantly colored fall leaves, perhaps some red apples or red roses, and some fall colored ornamental balls in the reflecting tree, would give this dining room an extra touch of  autumn charisma.ad67

This dining room is romantically inviting…For this rooms autumn celebration, the decorator has selected  a gorgeous bouquet of fall flowers as well as autumn pillows. Very cozy and enveloping!ad63

These two table settings are entirely different, yet both create a “fall feeling” to each guest that arrives… They are creative and perfect for an afternoon tea or a gathering with friends or family!


This charming porch caught my eye for a wonderful alfresco dining experience in late September or October. With it’s enchanting charm and perfect setting, I can just imagine a beautiful table set in red, yellow and sea green china with bright red napkins and a few hurricane lamps filled with tall, creamy white, pillar candles…  Some homemade Italian pasta and bread would be great too! 🙂C-11


Exceedingly relaxed, comfy and cozy…a perfect  yet subtle touch of the magical season… I love the mixture of the different colored woods… ad62

This formal dinning room table would go perfectly with the stellar side board in the photo above with the hushed yellow walls and vintage gold mirror.  I love the cherub angel vases filled with the splendid yellow roses… the glowing , soft candles, mixed with the exuberant golds is sensational as well as  pampering. If you ever wanted to host a ‘Murder Mystery dinner-party’, (in the blog category section,)  at your home in the autumn season, this par-excellence presentation would go hand in hand!  ad49

An enthralling autumn tree, or a table setting with royal reds, golds and greens, are both sensational ideas to enhance your blissful season. ad46ad43

There is nothing like an alfresco dinner served on a chilly, brisk autumn evening…(just make sure you have plenty of candles and space heaters…. ) This fall display is fabulously regal and  joyously summoning.   aut31

WOW!…this is absolutely breathtaking and certainly not the norm…How many people have a backyard like this for an alfresco dinner party?  🙂 This would still be a beautiful fall display in your backyard …(touched with a  sylvan charm) with your unique and sterling tableaux amidst pictorial maple or oak  trees, especially in the season where the leaves are beginning to change color. I love the combination of regal golds,  cheery yellows, the lovely taffeta fabric on the chairs and the divine tablecloth. This decorator is very creative with the roses on her lamps, the jeweled flower holders,  and delightful finished work of art!   There are so many amazing  decorating ideas to challenge our creative juices…This is definitely another keeper for my decor box.   fall15

A beautiful and sensational autumn hutch…a perfect place to display your own bounty for the season! 🙂


If you are not a lover of the color ‘orange,’ you can also go with deep reds, yellows, rich browns, vivid burgundies,  and forest greens for your autumn presentation. This dining room is bright, cheery and beautifully warm and inviting. (Changing your chairs slipcovers is another way to bring about season changes, inexpensively.)  H-96

This dining room is welcoming, cheery, colorful and has a touch of the ‘autumn spirit,’ with its vibrant reds and hushed tans and browns.  (You don’t always have to use the color  “orange” for your fall decor! 🙂  Best_Table_Picture

Fall decorating  ideas for ANY of your beautiful and inviting rooms…

I am impressed with this prestigious and stately duck amongst the glowing fall foliage… This would be a beautiful presentation in your dining room, living room or foyer. fall700

Pumpkins and colorful gourds of all sizes, mixed with petite, pastel rainbow berries… I love it!


These front door wreaths are show stopping! Each one eminently diverse and absolutely stunning for your fall celebration!ad81

Warm, cozy and alluring… all reflections of autumn!ad80ad71

These are both easy to create and yet so vividly alluring and pleasing to the eye…(and you know the aroma would be delightful.)  🙂 Great centerpieces for your dining room.  ad70ad69

A delightfully winsome autumn tree or lush linen curtains swagged with a dried rose tie…elegant , regal and sophisticated. 🙂


This fall bouquet with its courtly vase is classy as well as jovial.ad13

How adorable and creative…I’ll take five of these! 🙂ad12

Pewter is definitely one of my favorite choices of decor accents… These pumpkins are so unique and august…I love the sugar and creamer and prolific matching plate. ad11

To bring some “autumn” alive within your home, you can adopt the “more is more” motto or the “less is more. ” In my home you know which one I am by now! 🙂  Our antiquated dresser festooned in fall foliage and soft amber lights, (makes me feel so cozy inside,)  for our dining room sideboard table, I created a bunny pumpkin patch,  for my working area, a  country style scarecrow with a bale of hay, (it’s tree perfectly hiding my scanner on my side desk table. 🙂   You can never go wrong at fall in your decor themes with soft lighting, plenty of scarecrows, pumpkins and bright, galvanic fall leaves.


Another decor piece that would be fun and simple to create for your autumn decor… Very creative! 🙂 ad8

You already know by now that I am a connoisseur of topiary trees… These are so lovely, and displayed with the cherub artwork creates an even more glamorous and inciting flavor. The wonderful gift that topiary trees bring, is that you can custom-create  them to reflect any season and occasion you are hosting! Absolutely stunning.


This creative and fun tree is perfect for bringing in a little autumn spirit…(OK, maybe an ample amount…it is rather large.) 🙂


My Collection of “CHEFS” bedecked for the autumn season!  The chef serving the candle lit dining room table is the one my husband just bought me on our “date day” this weekend at Rehoboth Beach. He fits perfectly with is new comrades. 🙂


Very simple… yet exceedingly creative. 🙂aut33

One of my favorite fall ideas…. not only is this clever, but inspiring, original and creative…I just wish we had a two story home!  aut3

Another fantastic idea for this season… the pewter pumpkins are very regal and yet the  crystal is just as refined and alluring. I am increasingly amazed at the abundance of creativity and ideas for decor. 🙂 aut11

Here are a few wondrous and fun craft ideas for creating your autumn ambiance.

These mason jars dressed up in vibrant fall leaves are so clever as well as a creative way to reflect the warmth and magic of candle light.  aut9

Another delightful way to use autumn leaves as your muse for creating decorative art for your cozy haven. fall719

Eminently easy and yet so beautiful! fall718

A very classy name card for your next fall dinner party! I love these colors and textures.fall716

If your craft is ‘Baking’ or ‘Cooking’…this is a very creative way to display your “invention.”  I love  this idea. 🙂 ad27

Surprise your family with a delicious autumn meal… Seared scallops, freshly sauteed spinach, butternut squash mixed with a light cream sauce amidst your favorite pasta. I am getting hungry just thinking about it… 🙂  ad26

This is an adorable, creative idea to serve at your next dinner party… Its so simple, yet elegant in its presentation. ad22

This reminds me of Mary Engelbreits work, but because I know the artist personally, I can say it is not “the real thing.” (But still very creative, entrancing and engaging  to the eye.) ad9

I am so motivated right now to go and make some of these divine candy apples… 🙂 They are again, a definite symbol of the fortuitous autumn season.aut19

A few fall garlands from your local craft store will go very far, as there are a thousand  creative ways, (OK, maybe a hundred 🙂 to display them for the season.    I can think of five right now. 🙂 Nestled atop your dining room hutch or a gilded birdcage, used with a grapevine wreath to dress up your front door, incorporated within your seasonal fall tree, displayed a top a decorative mirror, swagged upon your widow treatment , (oops…that was six!) 🙂 I know you can think of an abundance of ways this could be used creatively to enhance your home for fall. This garland is beautiful with its petite berries and tiny, colorful leaves. aut40


Our seasonal autumn tree…by night ! 🙂 Very easy to make, festive and a warm touch for this welcomed time of the year.


From coast to coast, autumn is exploding with vibrant colors, putting on a junoesque show for all the country to see… Plan a restorative Sunday drive to the country, go apple picking, visit the local farmers market and  treat your self to a hot, steamy cup of their fresh mulled cider, drop by a country pumpkin patch and pick out your “2013 little orange guys” 🙂  to  place around your porch and festive home…ENJOY the season and its regal beauty to the fullest!







I would like to leave you with one of my favorite recipes for a  decadent southern chocolate cake for a cold, brisk  Fall day… it’s delicious with a mug of hot cocoa or French Roast coffee. Enjoy!

This recipe is called “Neighbor’s chocolate cake,” and is sure to please every chocolate lover! It is exceedingly rich and  absolutely indulgent…but OH SO GOOD! 🙂

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1 greased 9×13 pan

2 cups of sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 cup shortening, 1 stick of butter, 1 cup water, 4 TBSP Cocoa, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. vanilla for your cake.

For your fudge icing, you will need 1 stick of butter, 4 TBSP. cocoa, 8 tsp. milk, (or cream,) 1 pound powdered sugar, 1 & 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 2 tsp. vanilla.

I use Hershey’s Cocoa powder in the  brown can.


For your cake, mix sugar and flour together in large bowl. Bring to a boil over low heat, the shortening, butter, water and cocoa. Combine it with the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla.

Bake at 325 in your greased pan for 45 minutes. Because all ovens vary, check your cake at about 40 minutes with a toothpick or knife…it should come out pretty clean after inserting when cake is finished baking. (You will know when your cake is done…)

After you take your cake out of the oven, poke holes throughout the cake with a toothpick. (The more the merrier.) 🙂

For your icing;

Bring to boil over medium heat, (stirring often,)  1 stick of butter, 4 TBSP. cocoa, and 8 tsp. of milk. Remove from heat and beat in 1 box of powdered sugar and vanilla. fold in your pecans and stir.  Pour over hot cake. Allow to cool for the icing to set and ENJOY!




 PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

LINKS to come. 🙂

A murder mystery at the old Carmine estate in Mystic.

Picture this in your mind… It is the gloaming hour… the chilly wind is starting to blow, the skies are filling with rain clouds and you hear on the news; “Heavy thunder storms and ponderous winds will be hitting your area within the hour. Keep safe and stay inside.”MM-3

The storm has hit… As you look out your window, you see lightning rods shooting down from the heavens… Your front gates light up…  You notice it is half past  six as the antediluvian  grandfather clock chimes…MM-61

 The storm has now hit the once serene harbor close by… The Mystic River is filled with choppy, restless waves. The winding road that leads to your estate is lit with tiny, amber lights, making a pathway for all your guests… It has been a long time since you have had company to the Carmine mansion… Within the hour, all of your guests will arrive and then,  the drama and mystery shall begin.  



Welcome to  “A murder mystery at the old Carmine estate in Mystic,” You are the host and hostess of this entertaining, suspenseful and  mysterious evening.

Do the words “thunder storm, opera music, jealous man, woman with glasses, blackmail, marriage problems, suspicion, novelist and cigarette smoking, ” mean anything to you?  They are Key words for the shadowy evening ahead. 🙂



Inclosed in this blog is EVERYTHING you will need to create this memorable and fun evening.

Your job is to choose at least 6 friends or family members that you would like to be your guests. If you choose to have your Detective played by one of your guests and neither you or your mate want to play that character, invite 7. (Perhaps talk to who you are interested in asking to come and make sure they would be up for it.)  (I don’t understand it, but some people just do not like ‘drama.’)  🙂

Your party invitation is ‘Envelope #1.’   Two weeks before your ‘Murder Mystery dinner,’  send out your invitations. Each invitation will have a detailed description of the character they will be playing…Describe the character in full, (how they dress, what their style is…elaborate on your descriptions.)  Remind them, they will be arriving dressed in their full attire and should transform themselves into their assigned character as they enter your doors. Before you write up the invitations, decide who the murderer is, as well as the victim… On those two invitations only, write down who the killer and victim is and which one of those characters they will be acting out.  Also tell them how the murder will occur and the motive so they can act out their parts to a “T.” They are the only  two people , (outside of you and the Detective,)  who will know how the game ends.  (Make sure you only put that information on those two invitations, (and on your Detective’s invitation as well if you choose for them to be a guest.)  Remind  them all to keep it hush-hush.) 🙂

Here is your “setting” as well as six characters for the night.

You live in an old mansion in Mystic Connecticut. You love the beauty of the placid river, cobblestone fences, historic graveyards, old, colossal trees and the wondrous eateries nestled upon the water with superb, fresh seafood.  You have lived in Mystic for all of your life, but the newly inherited family home is now entirely yours as you are an only child.

The 6 characters, (all fictitious of course,)  that your friends will play are your 6 college buddies from your Harvard days.  You were all intimate in your happy-go-lucky “Dorm-days,” but somehow, over the years, you’ve lost touch and don’t talk as often. For this murder mystery, I chose for you three females and three males.

Character number one. This is Ava Terran,  a “Best Seller” novella writer from France. She absolutely adores hats! (Rarely do you see her without one.)  She is single, aggressive, flirty,  is known to over react and  is  a closet smoker. Ava is  very wordy and loves to get to know people. (She is a people person.)  Everyone is attracted to her quirky style and gorgeous accent. She definitely loves to talk about herself and is always sharing  about what a ‘troubled childhood she had.’


Character number two. This is Isabella Giovanni. She is a mother of three, unhappily married, very bored and ready for change. She loves her children and doesn’t want to break up the household. She lives in Rhode Island, loves the serenity of the water with it’s fishing boats heading out to the ocean’s deep in the early mornings. (At times, the charms of  living life on the water mesmerizes her and she forgets her troubles.)  Isabella  has a problem with anxiety, is very shy and only wears her glasses when she absolutely has to. She takes great joy in her new  chic look…( she bought a pair of  beautiful contact lenses.) She remembers her college love with great admiration and is looking  forward to seeing him when she hears he is coming to the party. She dated both Ryan and Zachary in her college years. She was very hurt by one of these men towards the end of their Harvard days…You know what they say about a woman scorned. 🙂


Character number three. This is Alexis Brine. She is one of New York’s top models and adores attention. She is married to hubby number two and adores traveling world wide. She is quick tempered, critical and always likes to be the best at all she does. She also feel deeply in love with one of the 6 college buddies.  Alexis was best friends with Jacob. He was her confidant and always made her laugh. Inside, her heart is very tender but she only lets the world see her tough guarded side.


Character number four Is Ryan Scott . Ryan is a single, handsome pediatrician who lives in Noank Connecticut and practices medicine at Hartford hospital. His practice is booming and so is his love life. He is charming, flirtations, very wealthy, loves children and has a an outgoing personality. He is always the clown at every party and loves to make people laugh. He has been known to date more than one woman at a time. (Sneaky!) 🙂 He actually dated all three of the ladies coming to the party at one time or another…


Character number five. Introduce yourself to  Jacob Wiles. He is a very much, want- to – be- actor, but for now, settles for being Johnny Depp’s understudy and loves every Pirates of the Caribbean movie ever made.  He is very eccentric, has a serious, deep side, loves to watch re-runs, (especially his own,)  🙂 plays cards and  adores Las Vegas, where he wins almost every hand of cards he plays. (And that’s a lot! ) He resides in Laguna Beach California and loves the ocean. (He really does look a lot like Johnny  Depp doesn’t he?) 🙂 Jacob had a secret crush on Ava but she did not feel the same, or did she? (She was very secretive.)


Character number six. This is Mr. Zachary Glover. He has two homes,  a summer get-a-way in  Grotin, Connecticut, over looking the water  and a ranch in Texas. He raises horses on his hacienda and is dating a young nurse…they are fairly serious, but as of recent, they are  having relationship problems. He loves the outdoors, hunting,  and is very much admired and liked. He almost seems ‘to perfect’ if you know what I mean. He is a little nervous to see a certain someone at the Murder Mystery party, but catching up with them again will be a good thing, he has decided. He adored Ava but felt her late night, jet-setting, Hollywood life style at the time did not fit his love of serenity and nature.


The Detective,  (Theodore, known as Teddy for short,)  is a person who is very inquisitive, married, older, has a large vocabulary and is very sneaky… He likes to switch words around and it can get very frustrating. He has a very hard time trusting people, but is trying. (He is actually in therapy.)  Being a detective is so much a apart of him, (he knows it like the back of his hand, ) as he has been doing it all of his life. Quite routine . He has a dry wit about him, is flirtatious and very loud. (He sure loves that pipe!) 🙂


Don’t forget, if you or your mate do not want to play the part of the Detective, then treat that character as you would any other guest, (of course they would not appear until after the murder occurs.) They would have the same invitation as the murderer and murderee with the knowledge of who the murderer is , the victim, the motive, how and when it is done, also where to find all the props for the investigation and evidence, so he can present it to your guests.

  When each person enters the mansion, place their character’s name tag on them and give them envelope #2. Once everyone has arrived, take some time to introduce each character.   In  envelope #2, you will be giving each character their goals for the evening. ( Goals, meaning the right, ( handpicked by you,) questions for them to ask as they mingle. Make sure the questions you give each person will in no way give any ‘hints’ as to their being the murderer or victim. Here are a few examples of questions you may want them to ask one another…Did you ever get married? Are you happy? Where are you living now? What do you do with your time? Also have them ask questions to get ‘clues’ of who would even be capable of murder?  It will be up to these people to ACT out their parts to whatever is asked of them as they are in Character …they can make up anything they want.. Their is no script, it is all impromptu acting. (A lot of fun and imagination.) 🙂  You are the one who will write out their  goals/questions, for your reasons, as you are the creator of the murder mystery.  Before they begin mingling, welcome them to your party and share a light description of how the evening will go…(Again, this is up to you and your vivid IMAGINATION.)

In the 2nd envelope for your Detective, the murderer and the murderee, (amidst their questions to ask,) be sure to tell them approximately what time the murder will occur and what  the signal will be. Perhaps it will be that you wink at the murderer when you are ready for them to begin their ‘knock-off.’ Explain to them what their props will be, where they will be hidden and where you would like them to put them after the murder takes place. (The Detective will need to know where to find the props as he is solving the case.)

 During the week before the Murder Mystery dinner, get all the things you will need for a successful evening. (They are all  illustrated below,) props, music, candles, your appetizers, dinner and dessert, award certificates, “charge of wrong doing” sheets,  questions and goals for envelope #2 and your small trinket gifts for all of your guests.



Start allowing your imagination to ignite…

Okay, you already know that it is  going to be a dark, stormy night…



And that you are all gong to be in a Brobdingnagian mansion. You know the exact time the guest will  be arriving, when to give each guest  envelope # 2 and their  Characters name tag.  So your only job the day of the party is to make your home into ‘that mysterious estate’ and prepare your cuisine. (Or you can prepare the food a day ahead of time and just heat up everything  that evening.)  Have a couple of rooms picked out that guests can saunter in and out of, (mingling with others,) and maybe a deck of cards or game of chess going.


Turn your lights off or keep them very low and use candlelight wherever you can…as well as your dimmer switches and petite white lights. (Having a cozy and inviting fire burning in the hearth is ideal as well if you have a fireplace.)  Set a beautiful table for dinner, (either formal or everyday china is fine, just create a pampering setting with lots of flickering candles and flowers.)   Make sure you have plenty of drink choices out, and ample appetizers to keep the party going before dinner is served. (Make it as simple as possible.) Costco or Sam’s club has great appetizers and I have given you a few ideas of delicious Hors d’oeuvre’s below.  I would make something simple for dinner like a big pot of homemade chili and cornbread, with your finale being some type of a chocolate confection.  (Don’t go to a lot of trouble cooking all day… You have more important things to do. 🙂






The musical background for the evening is also an important part of the party. I would suggest any classical music from  either Mozart symphonies or Victoria Secret symphonies. I also discovered two CD’s that play a haunting combination of  thunder and rain… Very befitting for your evening.  (Keep it soft and low…make it intriguing.) Some other music that would be ideal  for this puzzling and  engaging evening is Opera Music. I believe that all of these CD’s can be found on Amazon.com or check with  your local library for rentals.




Here are some ideas for a variety of scrumptious appetizers. Deli meats over fresh greens with a dip, exotic and delicious sushi, (don’t forget the ginger and wasabi,)  pita bread, or better yet, get some homemade pizza dough rolls  from your near by Italian eatery, chips along side a delectable vegetable dip, fresh grilled shrimp atop a Caesar or garden salad or a  mesquite chicken and black bean salad with arugula and fresh greens. Create your salads in a large bowl and let each guest serve a spoonful or two onto their plates as they enjoy mingling and acting out their part.  🙂





MM-33Yotam Ottolenghi's warm roast chicken and bread salad

Have plenty of beverages for your guests…I suggest, a pot of coffee, Ginger ale, sparkling waters and cider, fine wines, cold beer and maybe a bottle of a nice heavier liquor for martinis or a mixed drink. (If you know anyone that is coming that enjoys a mixed drink.) 



You may want to put your confections out on your hutch or a sideboard for display before serving at the end of the party…(Another fresh pot of coffee would be a great idea  when it is time to serve dessert.) 🙂



Amongst the ambrosial appetizers, desserts, savory aromas of your homemade chili, romantically mystique fire and candle light, display the beautifully wrapped gifts upon a table, reminding everyone that there are prizes in this game. (It won’t be until the very end that they will see that everyone gets a gift just for participating.) It’s  a lot of fun and a great addition to any party.




For “the big pot of chili,” I use lean, ground beef, finely chopped red onions,  10 OZ. can of stewed tomatoes, 10 OZ. can of tomato sauce, 1 can of red  pinto beans, 1 can of  black beans and 1 can of Bush’s chili beans… I add lots of seasonings, (Tabasco, ground pepper, red pepper, cumin, chili powder and a McCormick’ s Chili mix, a touch of sugar and seasoned salt.) A hidden trick I have is to pour in an overflowing TBSP. of BBQ sauce… It adds a nice, subtle smokey flavor. This is my recipe just in case you don’t have a homemade chili recipe. This can be used with ground turkey or steak as well. I use Krusteaz  Southern Style corn bread mix in a box and it is to die for…(no pun intended. 🙂 You can make some of your appetizers a day early as well as the chili for a much calmer and less busy ‘Party day.’ 🙂


You will also need some props, depending upon what your murder plot is going to be… A knife, a fake toy gun, envelopes for your notes to your guests, and six -seven gifts, creatively  and stunningly wrapped. You will also need a poison bottle, (homemade of course,) award certificates filled out by you… (you can make then yourself or buy  them at Staples,) a crumpled up piece of paper with writing on it,  a black mail letter, peel off name tags, (also at Staples,) a thick rope, large blunt rock, wine glass, an abundance of candles and “Charge of wrong doing” papers, (examples below.) Your guests will fill these out out at the end of the gala,  as they will guess who the murderer is as well as vote for their choice of the Best dressed and Best actress and actor.) Don’t forget to have your background sounds set up, either music or a thunderstorm CD.









Burning Christmas candlesMM-103






Your gifts do not need to be extravagant at all.  The guests who are voted as “Best Dressed for their part,” Best Actor, Best Actress, ( and perhaps you will have more than one winner of solving the murder,) will all be awarded with a ‘certificate of honor.’ (You can write those up how ever you choose.) So, your six to 7, creatively wrapped gifts are for everyone… everybody gets a gift, (just for participating,) and let me tell you, they will love it! 🙂   Some suggestions for the gifts to have wrapped,  CD’s, DVD’s in the $5.00 bin, (they have great ones at Wal*Mart,)  movie passes,  a popular best selling novel, a scented candle, a quaint picture frame, box of Dove Chocolates, or nice bottle of wine.  🙂






It is now 7:30  PM and your guests are beginning to arrive. (Great costumes!) 🙂  MM-100

 As your standing at the front door greeting your guests, the storm is still brewing, but now a damp, foggy mist is rolling in as you glance to the side of your property at the “Old Carmine Graveyard.”  (Why do grave yards always look the scariest at night and in a storm?) 🙂

You introduce everyone, give them and encourage them to get  drinks, something to eat, enjoy the fire and getting to know one another again. As they are enjoying your delightful ‘happy hour,’ and you begin to mingle with your guests, tell them to take a look inside their 2nd envelope.

 The time will pass quickly with everyone  mingling, enjoying their  appetizers and a drink and  having a good time. (They’re probably secretly admiring the desserts and enjoying the aroma of the homemade chili on the stove top as well.) 🙂  When you feel there has been ample time, perhaps an hour or an hour and a half, wink at your murderer, (or do whatever signal you’ve decide upon,)  and let them know it is time to begin their ‘bump off.’ However it  is set up to happen, it should be in a room where no one see’s them, perhaps the porch,  backyard, a back room, or (drum roll please…) ‘The Old Carmine Graveyard.’ At this point, after the murderer returns and gets a drink and thinks no one has noticed his or hers departure for a few minutes, the Detective, (a new guest and character to your party,) unless you play the part yourself,  will come forward and announce that someone has been found dead in or on the grounds of  the mansion, thus revealing the name of the ‘victim.’  He also will  announce  that it is not known if their death was of “natural causes, or mayhem.” (He needs to stall and keep everyone in the Mansion as he begins his investigation.)  He will give a  short breviary of what will happen next and  that everyone is to stay  in the house until further notice.

 It is time for your guest to mingle again and try to find out as much as possible by  asking questions and looking for clues, but subtly…staying in character.  You could serve dinner at this time as it is a perfect place for conversation. Allow the murdered victim to come and sit with all of you, (of course they can not say a word.) 🙂 Tell them to just enjoy the chili and cornbread…( bring them a glass of wine to unwind, after all, they were just murdered.)  🙂 And yes, the Detective can come to the table and eat as well. He can just say he is waiting for  a phone call and is ravenous. (Again, he has to continue to remain quiet to all he is privy to.)

Next, the Detective (after seeking more info,) comes back and  announces that  it was a murder and not a death from natural causes… He then shows the evidence, (all the props you chose,)  of the murder and what he thinks the motive is. He reminds everyone to stay in the house as it is not clear WHO committed the murder...OK, it’s ”sleuth time ” again… it’s everyone last chance to get info. (Who LOOKS guilty?)


As you all exit into the living room for coffee and dessert, the detective will hand everyone envelope # 3, (with their name on the front.)  This envelope contains a ‘Charge of wrong doing list’ to fill out. (It also asks for your guests votes on  the best dressed actor for their part and best actors and actresses, as well as “WHO” the murderer is.) All of these winners receive an awards certificate. (There may be more than one winner for guessing who the murderer is…)


Have everyone fill the paper out, place them back in their envelopes and hand them to the detective. (Yes even the murderer.)  Treat them the same as everybody else the entire evening as to not give any clues away of “who-dun-it.”) 🙂   After he has had time to tally their sheets, have him return, announcing who the murderer is and their motive. The names of all the winners are announced, (according to their guesses  and votes on their sheet and performances during the evening.)  Award certificates are handed out and everyone gets a gift  before they go! (You can even give your murderer and murderee an awards certificate at the the end for doing a great job! 🙂   Now everyone can relax and introduce themselves for who they really are… Get out of character as the Murder Mystery Party is  now officially  over. (Some of your  guests may already know one another.) 🙂

Remember, you are the creator of the entire evening…you get to choose your props, ( I have given you a few character possibilities and prop ideas,)  but you can choose any characters or plot you would like. You chose who your murderer is, your appetizers and menu. IT is your night to shine...A very  successful gala and an evening to remember by everyone.

Okay, I am dying to tell you (again, no pun intended. 🙂 )  my synopsis of this Murder if I were the one giving the party..




Ryan dated all three of the ladies in college but he was deeply in love with Alexis.  Ryan was the first man Alexis ever gave her heart to completely. There was even talk of wedding bells after they graduated.  Isabella also adored Ryan and felt slighted that he chose Alexis over her. Years later, with her anxiety becoming more intense, added to the boredom of her marriage, mixed with her ample medications, she began plotting to get rid of Alexis. (She certainly was not in her right mind.)  The party was the  perfect place. She had thought of sending Alexis a black mail letter she had made but forgot and left it folded in her coat pocket…The black mailing letter stated that Alexis’ life  was in danger if she didn’t stay out of Ryan’s life.  (Little did she know they weren’t even in touch anymore.)  (She was still jealous of Alexis, even to this day because Alexis won Ryan’s heart.)   Of course,  there came a time during the evening that Isabella and Alexis mingled, reminiscing  over their years away at college. With the storm having lightened up a bit, at Isabella’s request,  they both get a glass of wine and saunter outside to the back verandah overlooking the shadowy waterway. The water seemed placid…the stars were just beginning to peak through the clouds as they placed their wine glasses down on the table. Isabella lights up a cigarette but  Immediately, drops it to the ground, putting it out with the spiked heal of her new shoes. (Her nerves were getting the best of her as she stared at the grave sites through the foggy mist.) She did not want to prolong what she knew she had to do and let her fear take over. Isabella mentions how amazing the  fragrance of fresh rain is. She chuckles as she looks at the sky and remarks on how the fluffy clouds had shapes of  cuddly, chubby, teddy bears, causing Alexis to look up at the heavens.  Underhandedly,  Isabella pours some of her poison into Alexis’  wine glass. It’s tasteless and promised to work quickly. (At least that is what HE told her.)  Before they return to the mansion, Isabella, quietly places a “crumpled” suicide note  in Alexis coat pocket, written in what looked like  Alexis’ handwriting, explaining she was not getting any more jobs modeling and felt her husband was getting bored with her. She felt like she could not go on, (all to the contrary.)  Once inside, mingling with all  of the guests at the gala,  Alexis, feeling dizzy and nauseous, excuses herself to the  ladies room where she dies instantaneously. Isabella goes into the kitchen where she quietly and quickly disposes of the empty poison bottle. No one has suspected anything so it looks as if Isabella has gotten away with murder.

I only used 5 of the props…a crumpled suicide note, poison bottle, the blackmail letter in Isabella’s coat hanging in the foyer, a cigarette on the back porch slightly scented with Isabella’s perfume, as well as the wine filled glass. (All of the  clues / props that the Investigator finds as he is solving  this horrific tragedy, he will  present in the end to your guests for their final clues…) You might as well give  Isabella and the Detective an award certificate after all their hard work too! 🙂


There are so many plots to come up with, ideas and great fun to be had with a Murder Mystery party. I know just the perfect friends and family member’s I would pick,  who LOVE to be the center of attention and live for ” drama, drama, drama.”  🙂 It’s all make believe and impromptu, but maybe, just for an itty-bitty moment,  it feels real!

Have a wonderful evening,  a lot of fun and ENJOY!  Let me know how it goes or if you have any suggestions or questions! 🙂

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.



November’s fete of gratefulness.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~ Marcus Tulliusthanksgiving1

When I was a little girl,  the month of October was all about,  exclusively focusing on finding just the right costume, deciding which “Cool”  friends or siblings to go trick or treating with,turkey1 (sometimes I’d go twice on that long – awaited, magical and beguiling night.) The first round was with my girlfriends, then of course, I just had to go with my older  brothers, hiding behind their large capes and ingenious costumes, in hopes the neighbors would not recognize the white sheeted ghost, with the uneven-cut-out eyes, that had frequented their door, just two hours before.) 🙂  And of course, we were all signed up for the silent, unspoken but engrossingly fun, marathon of winning the title of ” the biggest pillow case full of candy,” (not counting apples, oranges or healthy granola  bars.)  November was always exciting as we got an entire week off from school  (five days, plus two weekends was  undeniably, nine days of bliss.) turkey2 Cold and windy bliss, but joyous and  felicitous none the less. 🙂  Our mini-vacations were filled with a buoyant and nostalgic excitement from our holidays past, as we KNEW exactly what my mom was going to divinely create  in her kitchen Thanksgiving day.  Her menu always included her renowned, ( impeccably roasted until ‘just right,’) scrumptious, 28 pound Butterball turkey, giblet gravy, cornbread stuffing, pungent olives, cranberry sauce,  stuffed celery, spiced peaches, mashed potatoes and dreamy sweet potato souffle. (Topped off with sweet, melted marshmallows. 🙂  I can still smell the savory aromas filling our home on that festive day. turkey3  Another anticipated tradition we always looked forward to was the gathering of our ‘rather large’ family for an abundance of convivial spirit and hours of storytelling on our day of gourmet cuisine and thankful hearts. With our family of nine, our cousins from Louisiana and a fiend or two, our house was packed… overflowing with welcomed  laughter, loud conversations, a foot ball game or two on the TV, The wizard of OZ playing upstairs for the little ones and  plenty of warm hugs and southern charm .turkey4 An endless and mesmerizing  fire would be kindling all day long in our hearth and ‘for us youngsters,’ there would be sneaky sips of the ice cold beers and fine wines the “adults ” were enjoying. 🙂 I don’t know why we called-it ‘sneaking’ when all the time, THEY KNEW! 🙂  ( Whether pumpkin pie, pecan, dutch apples, mincemeat, or chocolate fudge cake, our  side board table within our dining room was always  bedecked with a medley of mouthwatering desserts,turkey6 in which my siblings and I always had seconds , piled high with freshly whipped cream. Those truly were the days!


Now as an adult… everything has changed… October for me, is a time of enjoying each fresh, new fall day  with its magnificent array of ardent colors exploding as the season envelops,  festooning our home with animated and lively decor,  accompanied  by the delightful beginning to our ‘season of cooking our favorite,  savory and familiar comfort food recipes,’ to accent the chilly, gusty days and evenings that have arrived with this cherished season.turkey5 I still get excited planning our upcoming Turkey day…I know it will be a serene yet festive day, filled with gladness and joy, our meal will be delicious yet lower in sodium and we may see a friend or two, but our hearts –  snuggery – contentment will be full, with just Graham, Kit and myself. (No fireplace, but lots of enthralling candles, their soft glow and warmth, bringing an ambiance of comfort and peace to our home and hearts.)     The TV may be on for a bit, with a Football game or an old classic movie or two, and yes, I just have to get my husband a bit roused by playing a few Christmas tunes…(I love to hear him laugh and say “Oh no,turkey8 here it comes and it won’t stop until mid January.” ) I know too, that our Thanksgiving day seems to grow each year with our lists of what we are most thankful for.(So, I put my turkey in the minute we begin thanking God and by the time we’re done thanking God, the turkey is done.” 🙂 I am just teasing… but truly, our thankfulness and gratitude to God for His many blessings plays a big part in our day, our month, and to  be honest, our entire year.


For the dulcet and eminently welcomed month of November, I decided to start a new tradition that I want to share with you, my readers.aut2 As we all grow older, our outlook on life changes… We begin noticing and thinking about things that we never thought about in our 20’s and 30’s. We start thinking about our health, the health and well being of others,  spending quality time with those we love, having balance in our lives, looking closely at our goals and future, achieving health and exercising our talents and creativity, no matter what it is we “do.”  We no longer take friends, (real friends,)  and family for granted, for they are a rare gift…horse8 Good  books seem to be a newly acquired best friend, as we arduously  search for knowledge, serenity and guidance,  as well as taking stock of all the many blessings we are graciously bestowed with, in our everyday lives. Yes, choosing to have a grateful heart and being happy with all that  God has given you,  changes the mind and souls perception in an immense way.

I remember a dear friend of mine sharing a story  that has stayed with me for over 20 years. While he was becoming sober and started AA with a quiet, laid back-easygoing   sponsor, he basically was in a mindset that ‘his life could not get any worse.’ In his eyes, his life was truly ‘the pits.”   After a few visits with his newly found mentor, when asked how he was doing,  my dauntless and candid  friend told him just that. 🙂 His sponsor  replied. “Okay…I understand that, but can you think of just one good thing in your life that you are thankful for?arctic6So my friend struggled and finally came up with one  positive thing…then the mentor asked him to do it again…soon, his “thankful list” was noticeably  longer and his life began looking up. He actually had a  new hope deep within, and everything began to start looking a bit brighter. Thankfulness and gratitude changes everything.

In this writing, I want to challenge you this Thanksgiving month with my new November tradition. (Perhaps it is not new at all for you and you already do this…) 🙂  Being that this  month has 30 days, I have spent some time pondering all the blessings in my life and I decided to write 30 blessings down on paper.(It was easy to pick 30 and hard not to go over…) (That alone made me thankful. 🙂turkey9  Each day I will meditate on one particular blessing in my life that I am incredibly thankful for, so that by the time Thanksgiving  Day arrives, my heart will be overflowing with Thankfulness and my heart will be a heart of pure gratitude. If you have time, take the challenge with me and see if it makes a difference. I was telling my husband, in doing this list, it was so easy because all I had to do was ‘think about all the gifts in my life and what my life would be like, if for some reason, the gift was taken from me.( Believe me, It enhanced my gratefulness even more. 🙂



Before I share my list, I wanted to bless you with some very ingenious and creative quotes on this special subject of gratitude.  🙂

 DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNERAdorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who  make a difference in our lives.” John F. Kennedy

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns, I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ~ Alphonse Karr

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ~ Winnie the Pooh ~ A.A. Milne

“Saying ‘thank you’ is more than good manners, its good spirituality.” ~ Alfred Painterturkey10

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” ~ Kak-Sri

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continually. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in  your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not spoil what you do have by desiring what you have not, remember that what you now have, was once among the things you only hoped for. ” ~ Epicurus




My challenge to myself and to you…At least 30 blessings in my life I am grateful for .

1. My relationship with God, His awesome grace, unconditional love and the faith He has given and developed within me is beyond amazing. 2. My husbandhe is  my very best friend and has been there for me through every season of our lives together. 3.Grantham, our 100 pound briard-dog. Those of you who read the site know my deep love for him goes without saying. With not having children, he is our ‘baby”, toddler, youngster, and high school-er, all rolled into one. 🙂  4. My family. Those still alive (five siblings) and those in heaven. They all have enriched my life with such joy, laughter, camaraderie and love. (We’ve experienced the good, bad and ugly together and still love each other.) 🙂 5. The beautiful best friend I had in my mom for 33 years. There will never be another  relationship like the one she and I shared. 6. My friendships. Whether  my childhood best friend, ( who 43 years later holds the same place within my heart,) or the abundance of  friends over all the years since then, to  the last friend I met here in Delaware, the friendships I have been blessed with over the years of my life have been amazing and such a joy to my heart.  7. My good health. Because there was a time I did not have it, I especially am grateful for healing and restoration and a healthy body.  8. Our home.Our home is our castle, our place of safety, beauty and refuge as well as a gathering place of joy and laughter. 9. Our car. It stars everyday, and gets us where we need to go… do I need to say more? 🙂 10. The gift of music.I can’t imagine a life without worship music, dancing, entertainment and song lyrics, (when put to melody, touch our soul in a way, that at times, words alone can’t.)  11. My five senses. What would life be like, to not see a sunset, feel your spouses touch, smell a dutch  apple pie baking in the oven, hear a symphony or taste a delicious , creamy, mouthwatering bite of Chocolate chip cookie dough Ice cream?  🙂  12.  Natures  beauty with its myriad of wildlife . Bucolic country fields of wild flowers, the awesome and mysterious ocean, our rose bushes  first blooms, brilliant thunderstorms, and a herd of deer outside our bedroom window in the early morning hours. WOW! 13. Our Bed. When my close brother died suddenly, I chose to have something tangible in my life to remind me of him with the inheritance money he left me. So,  Kit and I bought a top of the line, deluxe, supreme mattress and  box spring  for our southern, four post, Rice bed. It’s dreamy! He would have done the same….Thank you Jim. 🙂 It sure beats the 20 year old mattress we had before…our backs thank us daily! 14. The four seasons. There is no beauty to compare to each joyous season and all the comforts and gifts they bestow upon our lives… what a blessing! 15. The talents God has given me. I believe He placed my ability’s deep inside, and has developed them within me to bring a fulfillment that floods my soul, as I am able to bring others joy and beauty. 🙂 I am so grateful. 16. Healing through loss and crisis times. Usually, when we are young, we don’t think about the hardships life can bring, deep losses, illness, divorce, division…I am constantly amazed at the healing that arrives , at times so unexpectedly and  how our souls can truly be renewed from such deep pain. What a  gracious gift from God. 17. The gift of prayer . Prayer changes everything.18. Great movies and TV shows to entertain us.  (I am thankful I did not grow up in the days of Radio. 🙂 Kit and I are big  movie buffs and fans of a few TV sitcoms, and yes, reality shows! (What would we do without “The Voice”  with  all the fun banter of Adam Levine and Blake Sheldon? ) 🙂   19. The ability to honor God with praise. I am so appreciative to be able to praise and thank God, giving back just a portion of all the wondrous things He has done in our lives.  20. Delicious and healthy, (sometimes not so healthy) food! What would life be like without comfort foods, hot corn on the cob with freshly melted butter, pecan pie a la mode, a medley of fresh greens in a summer salad or a robust and superb, first cup of morning hot coffee? (With pumpkin spice creamer?) Delish!  21. The ability to create and cook HEALTHY meals. Especially being older, where nutrition becomes a main focus instead of the latest fashion or a petite waistline, 🙂  being able to buy and bring forth fresh, healthy ingredients into our meal planning is something I never take for granted. (Were getting close to the end of this blogs challenge 🙂 …) 22. My extended family. I have been very blessed with the best cousins, nephews and nieces in the world, loving in laws and wondrous families we’ve been ‘adopted by’ through our many journeys in life.  23. Truly, the invention of Decaf coffee. Without it,  I could not enjoy the comforting aroma and taste of this ever popular, divine beverage.  24. Okay, I am going to squeeze two in together for this one…:) The invention of eyeglasses and dark chocolate. Both of which enhance my days and evenings and  my ability to read and write, (I can’t see a word without my glasses and the chocolate inspires me. 🙂 25. (This is so easy.) Thunderstorms and fireflies. What would life be like without their enchantment and magic…? 26. My education. Sadly, I didn’t appreciate the gift of being  educated in my younger days, like I should have, but  I can’t stop being thankful everyday for it NOW, as it has broadened my life in a myriad of wonderful ways. (Thanks mom and dad.) 27.Living near the ocean shores. kit and I are “water people.” We love the nautical life that graciously  comes with living by the  haunting inlets, miry  creeks, white sandy  beaches , vast rivers and breathtaking lakes. We are blessed. (Graham too, even though he hates water…he does love the sea life it  so proudly is home to) 🙂 28. My love of our home. There is nothing as passionate to my heart as writing, creating and decorating , (as far as things to do.) (I especially adore Christmas with all its festive ways to share the joy of the beloved season.) 29. The Living Winsomely site. I can never express how much I enjoy writing , researching and sharing ideas for a more winsome and blissful life with you all, my readers. 🙂 OKAY, do you think I will stop at 30? 🙂 The Gift of encouragement.  I can’t imagine life without the love and encouragement of God, my husband, dog, friends and family … It is a wonderful feeling to be  encouraged and to encourage others. (You know I am going to sneak in just one more.. 31. The ability to love and to be loved back. Truly, love, like prayer, changes EVERYTHING! 

That was so easy, painless, fun and definitely a start, to creating a heart that is brimming over with gratitude and thankfulness .  I hope you feel uplifted and perhaps motivated to make your own Thanksgiving list.

Happy reflecting, reminiscing,  pondering and concluding your “thankful heart” inventory! 🙂  I have put  together all the photos in order with the vignette. The visual memories of what I have to be thankful for, add even more appreciation within. 🙂

faith in Godmom and me and dadcathybrothersjim and Irob Gin and IAlex


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” Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~William Arthur Ward



Happy Thanksgiving! If you start this challenge a little late in the month, try ‘doubling up’ your  blessings or make it a three week challenge! 🙂

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.