“Goodbyes are not FOREVER!”

Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I’ll miss you
Until we meet again!
~Author Unknown

Little girl sitting on suitcase looking out onto Golden Gate Bridge

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard! ! ~ Carol Sobieski ~ Thomas Meehan

Dear Living Winsomely readers, I wanted to share with you that I am saying goodbye to this site, but with the words, that ring true in my heart, “Good bye does not mean forever.”

For those of you who have read “And the body just keeps on giving,” vignette , then you know that during my time of healing both physically and spiritually, I began this website with such an excitement and joy. I can not tell you how much having this blog site has been a blessing for me .

goobye4

It started with a few, and has grown in leaps and bounds! 🙂

To look back in February of 2013 (when we started the site)  we began with only a handful of readers. This year Living Winsomely has grown “in leaps and bounds.” 🙂 Because my husband owns the server that my site is on, he keeps me informed of the amount of readers coming to Living Winsomely. We both have been in awe at the growth. I am amazed at all of the different countries that are visiting the site, as well as how many readers here in America we have. I never dreamed Living Winsomely would have so many wonderful visitors.  I can’t tell you  how happy that makes me and how honored I feel.  It blesses me so much that you, the readers have enjoyed this  site and the writings.  Your comments to me over this last year and a half have blown me away.  (In a good way.) 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of  my  heart for supporting me, encouraging me and for all your kind words of affirmation, even for those of you who told me I had spelling errors 🙂 (I know…I don’t have an editor and  have tried to catch all my mistakes, but know they are out there.) 🙂

I have a new writing commitment that will be taking up all my time, thus I have to stop writing on Living Winsomely for now.  Its at this time, I wish I would have written much shorter blogs that didn’t take a week to complete, (so I could just write one up quickly whenever I had an hour to spare as I am staring this new writing commitment .)  🙂   But as we all know, I write kind of long blogs. (OK, really long blogs.)  🙂  I still have a few I have started and hope to come back when this commitment is over and put those up, with new ones… I will  miss writing on this site immensely, as well as you, the readers.

goobye5

~~~~~ LIVING WINSOMELY~~~~~

I  will be leaving the site up for all of you, the old and new readers as well as the readers who will come in the future. For those of you who have written in that you read the site daily and are on the lookout each week for a new blog, I am sorry…Maybe you can go back and read one of the old ones as you may have already forgotten it by now. 🙂 (Just joshing.) I did just post my last blog for now, “The  Joyous wedding of the old and the new.” I tried something new with adding a very classy (as well as classic,)  music video. (I hope you enjoy it.) 🙂   I know there are a tremendous amount of sites  on the internet that are exemplary.

My hope and heart when I began Livingwinsomely (and still is,) that you, the readers would be blessed with ideas of how to bring more beauty, fulfillment, joy, felicity and winsomeness  to your everyday lives.

I will have to turn the sites comment/ reply ability off as I am currently receiving about 250-300 spam comments a day and it takes a lot of my time to go through them all , especially when my time now will be fully dedicated to my new writing commitment. My computer program will hold all the replies that have already been made, they just won’t be showing up on the site, when I turn that service off.

old2

“Home”for the holidays!

I wish you all the very best and again, thank you so very much for reading, coming to the site, sending me such wonderful comments and for being such a great audience to write to… The site will stay up so enjoy!

I may occasionally sneak over to Living Winsomely and change the blogs in the main section according to the season.   Especially At Christmas time. 🙂 One of my all time favorite vignettes of Living Winsomely is “Home” for the holidays! (I will take that tour myself once again, this Christmas.)  🙂

 

 

If you have any questions, please know my “CONTACT US” icon at the bottom of the ‘Living  Winsomely’ Home page, is still open. (That comes directly to my e-mail address.)

May God bless you all and thank you so very much.

Sincerely, Susan, Kit and Grantham too.

goodby3

“A heart full of thanks TO YOU! “

 

 

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

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.  

MM-69MM-5

 

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. 🙂

MM-2

 

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.’

MM-6

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. 🙂

annie600

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.

alxesis

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…

MM-10

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.)

MM-11

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.

MM-13

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!) 🙂

MM-14

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.

 

THE DAY OF THE PARTY…

Start allowing your imagination to ignite…

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

dark

MM-111

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.

MM-184MM-181

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. 🙂

SOME IDEAS FOR YOUR SETTINGS.MM-20

MM-18

MM-80

MM-86

MM-84

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.

MM-59MM-58

MM-98MM-96

 

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-21

MM-27

MM-24

MM-37

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.) 

MM-56

MM-30MM-55MM-40

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.) 🙂

MM-41

MM-39

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.

gift

 

 

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.’ 🙂

MM-51

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.

MM-54MM-93

 

MM-46MM-50

MM-70MM-15

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

MM-90MM--100

 

Burning Christmas candlesMM-103

MM-59MM-135

MM-115MM-112

MM-180MM-72

H=1H-2

 

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.  🙂

MM-130MM-131

MM-128MM-127

MM-126J-27

 

 

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…)

MM-18

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..

MM-10alxesisannie600

MM-15MM-17

MM-99MM-93

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.

 

 

AUTUMN… AH! All IS WELL

“AUTUMN… THE YEARS LAST,  LOVELIEST SMILE.”~William Cullen Bryant

fall beauty 1

“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.

IMG_0118IMG_0085

 

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.

aut5

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.

fall710

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

 

 

ADDING A TOUCH OF FALL TO OUR LIVING ROOMS.fall800

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!

H-69

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!

ad98

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.

fall721

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.

ad52

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.

IMG_0189

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.

fall beauty 2

 

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.” 🙂

fall713fall711

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!

ad61ad60

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! 🙂

G-70

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!

ad91

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. 🙂

ad65ad30

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.

 IMG_0202IMG_0199IMG_0193IMG_0195

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.

ad5

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

aut39

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. 🙂

IMG_0215

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.

IMG_0048

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!

aut15

aut2

ad105

ad106

ad92

 

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! 🙂

cake 100

YOU WILL NEED:

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.

DIRECTIONS:

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!

 

HAPPY AUTUMN!

apple2

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

LINKS to come. 🙂

Grandeur Dining Rooms

“Dining with ones friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul satisfying and eternal.” ~ Julia Childelegance2

I have such extraordinary memories growing up as a child, my heart filled with such joy  of all the times my parents treated us to a captivating, elegant, royal tableaux and luscious meal.  On those special occasions,REL6 my mom would always decorate the dining table with radiant, candescent candles, freshly arranged red roses, soft , dim lighting, white or powder blue linen table cloths with newly starched and ironed napkins, her treasured Haviland china with its delicate design, festooned beautiful momwith petite pastel roses, her polished choice sliver and stellar Waterford crystal. (I would always be ‘right there watching her every move’)  just in case she needed my help in any way.)  🙂

Her meals were not only legendary, chimerical but heartening and comforting.  I think my top three,REL3 (and I have to choose three as I can’t possibly pick just one,) 🙂 was her homemade spaghetti, (and no, we are from an Irish, not Italian descent,) beef brisket with potatoes, carrots and onions, and from her Southern heritage, a savory and first class, dreamy lump crab casserole. She baked plenty of ambrosial breads, created, hearty delicious salads, (her homemade avocado dressing was gourmet,) and her desserts were decadent… Pecan pie a’ la mode, rich, dense chocolate cake topped with a mocha frosting,  fudge brownies with pecans and real whipped cream, and french Vanilla Ice cream, drizzled with Chambord  liqueur. (I only got a ‘taste’ at that time.) 🙂 REL1The ‘older kids’ shared in a glass of wine, while my  younger brother and I had our  beautiful goblet of ‘boring’ milk. 🙂  For some reason, it did not look nearly as delicious as their sparkling white wine in the classy and regal crystal.)

For very special occasions, I also remember my parents taking us to some really upscale eateries in California that made me feel so pampered and special…like a princess for the night.REL I especially loved The Reuben E. Lee , ( a 19th century Paddle boat docked  upon the Newport bay.)  It was called the “floating, elegant restaurant.” (My dad would always order me a ‘Shirley Temple’) and they  always served freshly made popped corn.  My other favored place to go was the Five crowns in Newport beach. Not only is their English decor absolutely exquisite, but their prime rib is to die for.REL8  Once, while living in South Carolina, they took us to a beautiful seafood eatery, nestled upon the water, in the renowned and historical city of  Charleston and ordered us all lobster tails with melted butter on the side.  To my surprise, I loved it! As a little girl,  I never enjoyed lobster when my parents bought them fresh and then had to boil them all in the Brobdingnagian  pot as those humongous critters were REL7“still kicking.” I’d run out of the kitchen and yell out to my mom, “I will just have salad, bread and extra potatoes tonight for dinner.”) 🙂

 

 

There is just something so special about dressing up a room and table with “your best” of everything…creating a felicitous meal, sitting with loved ones, laughing until your jaw aches, sharing stories of yesteryear, eating delectable cuisine until you are stuffed and watch as the last tall, lambent candle’s flame has demised. REL9 It is a gift that you can give yourself, your husband, your family, boyfriend, girlfriend or guests. Having a special occasion such as a birthday, holiday gathering, anniversary celebration or an intimate night with friends is a wonderful landmark to build your fancy dinner around…but I like to do it “just because” on some nights as a special gift to my husband and I..(And Grantham too if we have steak, chicken or salmon, as he impatiently waits for his portion, drooling like there is no tomorrow.) 🙂

I am hoping to share with you in this vignette some very  grandiose dining room ideas as well as share one of my mom’s stupendous recipes with you, to bring forth a few inspiring ideas of how to give yourself as well as loved ones a “fine and regal” dining experience.

 

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

 “You never forget a beautiful thing you have made,” (Chef Bugnard  said.) “Even after you eat it, it stays with you-always.” ~ Julia Child

Bon Appetit!” ~ Julia Child

“It’s so beautifully arranged on a plate, you know someones fingers have been all over it.” ~ Julia Child

“If More of us valued food and cheer and songaudry2 above hoarded gold, It would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ Author of The Lord of the Rings

“Come quickly! I’m tasting stars.” ~ Dom Pierre Perignon tasting his first sip of his newly created champagne.

“I have a renewed commitment to elegance, she said, in case you think I’m just spending money for the fun of it.” ~ Brian Adreas

“Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. audry7Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress.” ~ 18th century French author Charles Pierre Monselet

“Certainly one of the important requirements for learning how to cook is that you also learn how to eat. If you don’t know how an especially fine dish is supposed to taste, how can you produce it? ” ~ Julia Child
Are you ready to visit  some grandeur dining rooms? 🙂
If you are a History buff, a connoisseur of antiqued chandeliers, silver candelabra, soft white candle light and a warm, regal ambiance, this elegant dining room is the perfect place to plan a festive reunion with loved ones… Absolutely Gorgeous!
elegance1
Both of these par- excellence dining rooms are fiercely grandiose and would undoubtedly make each guest feel coddled and pampered. The first photograph is one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen with it’s  amazing vaulted ceilings, arched hallways, divine, shiny wood flooring, awesome paned windows with it’s breathtaking view, the original and choice sconce lighting, and stellar hanging chandelier. It truly looks as if Royalty lives here. The second dining room is of course a classy and graceful eatery…All the work and preparation is done for you to perfection. The only thing that awaits you is ‘pure pleasure.’   I adore the floral topiary tree. (Just creating one of those and placing it amongst a white linen table cloth would be a wondrous start to your elegant setting. ) 🙂
elegance6fancy eatery
This vintage dining room is exquisite. I could see this table festooned for a ladies intimate dinner…  It’s ambiance creates the feeling of an exciting wedding celebration! 🙂  I love her white, sheer, lace window treatment, her collection of diverse candelabras and the  hanging chandelier is absolutely top-of-the-line! What makes this room beautifully rhapsodic is it’s ‘style,’ a special touch being the unique linen tablecloth with it’s picturesque, entrancing, “Shabby Chic” corners.   Any guest  having dinner in this lovely, ageless dining room would feel very refreshed and catered to.
elegance3
Already blessed with an amazingly gorgeous view, this grandeur dining room is certainly a treat for any of it’s dinner guests . The soft lighting is perfect for a romantic dinner amidst the blithesome and canty flower arrangements, candescent candle light and stunning china. In our dining room, we have a hanging Chandler, (very casual in it’s presentation,) but it has a dimmer switch which allows us to make our intimate dinners cozy, enchanting, warm and sung! Its a great investment! 🙂
words12

Don’t you feel as if you have stepped back in time as you look upon this  exhilarating and rousing dining room? I can just envision George Washington and his family dining in a room like this as he lived within his Mt. Vernon, Virginia estate… The vaulted ceilings and gorgeously paned window treatment  alone, would keep me enjoying extra cups of coffee after dessert, just to stay at  the table and ‘take in’ this  exquisite and lovely ambiance. This fireplace is stirring with it’s baronial mantle as well as intricate  architectural design. The divine hanging chandelier unabashedly announces it’s glory with it’s jeweled accents, the lively and poignant array of choice flowers amongst the delicate, regal white table settings, classic crystal and refined, polished sideboard is breathtaking! I love this patina!   army56

The repetition of ‘gold’ in this dining room is within itself elegant and grandiose. The table setting is eye-catching with it’s red and gold plates resting snugly upon a gold charger, accentuated with the golden candle sticks and silver serving piece… Did you notice how this decorator has dauntlessly mixed in some blue crystal glasses as well as natures divine greens amongst her regal and rich colors?  The soft candle light and vintage table clock are riveting .  This room is gorgeous and brings an abundance of new ideas of how to create your evening of enchantment and beauty.   army70

 Historic and eminently LOVELY. The lively topiary tree, buoyant yellow roses, vintage portrait and floral painting amidst the enveloping window treatments and alluring view is magical and inviting. I remember when one of my brothers was engaged, he was given a tablecloth much like this and I was so envious! (Very  happy for he and his fiance, but boy, did I want that table cloth.) 🙂  It’s breathtaking and exudes the very essence of  elegant dining. I adore the gregarious flower arrangement centerpiece,  latticed, two tone linen napkins, prestigious goblets, and absolutely stellar, majestic and graceful china. I bet there has been many a lovely, congenial and delightful meal shared around this table. 🙂
army61
This delightful centerpiece with its gilded fruits, august three tried plate stand, gold candlestick holders with their appeasing candles and dainty and recherche china, catches the eye immediately! Again, this decorator has chosen to use the gorgeous color of gold as the rooms  main color palette with touches of white, reds and yellow. I have always loved adding  a baronial, winsome wing back chair to a dining table…It’s unique, inviting and comfortably complimentary.
army60
This majestic dining room brings a tune from Burl Ives to my mind. You know, the song in our children’s  beloved and cherished, (and the little kid in all of us too,) ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’s,’ “Silver and Gold, silver and gold, everyone wishes for silver and gold…”  (It truly is a great movie.) 🙂 I love the white, stellar built in shelves, the golden candelabras, and tall candlesticks, the elegant white linens and the abundance of silver trays, goblets and table decor. Absolutely gorgeous!
army59
Though a table set for the glorious Christmas season, this dining room looks as if it is right out of a classic film… delightfully viewing this winning and par-excellence dining room sparks an abundance of wondrous ideas on how to bring about a stunning and grandiose dining experience for the holidays or any special occasion for that matter. The sideboards, festooned with  graceful swags of garland and fresh, enlivening  flowers, the strikingly bedecked fireplace mantle, festive red bows tied upon the chairs, and a vibrant red table runner to highlight the eloquent white linen table cloth is beautifully inspiring.  The  soft, glowing candle light  amongst the rich, dark woods is warm and graciously welcoming. I love it!
army58
I am always in awe with ‘white table-settings!’ This tableaux is quite simple but also enchanting and regal. I am impressed with the diversity of candle holders the gilded pears amongst the greens, as well as the creative, artful and clever, floral centerpiece. Great ideas!
army39
Another holiday gathering…The first impression, with these absolutely gorgeous and  rich wood, paned French doors is “explosively beautiful!” 🙂 I love the antiquated art work and their gold frames, the polished, cozy dining table with green and red accent tones and the cleverly done, blue trim upon the doors. Very lovely and warm!
army28
Not a typical dining room, yet just as charming. Many a time, especially when all the kids have grown up and moved away, dinner is held in the ‘parlor,’ ( our living rooms with our table set up cozily by the fireside, or perhaps now a days, our  widescreen TV’s.)  🙂 This historic room is congenial, royal, welcoming and evokes a beautifully convivial ambiance to each guest who comes to share an elegant dining experience. 🙂
army33
Another holiday bedecked dining room…(with a cheerful little visitor.) 🙂 Valentines day would be a perfect ‘motif’ for an elegant and grandeur evening meal with friends or family! This decorators color palette is lovely with it’s shades of red, green and white , highlighted with magical touches of gold. The green foliage upon the vintage mirror is classy and graceful. I love the red place mats upon the white linen cloth and the eminently unique and original fire engine red candelabra.  Beautiful room with a wealth of great decor ideas.  🙂
army57
So many elegant and grandiose dining room ambiances use the never failing and magical ‘muse’ of Christmas for their amiable and spirited presentation.   This dining room is classically done…I love the jeweled, enchanting hanging chandelier, garish and exuberant Christmas tree, cobble stoned fireplace, vintage chairs, dark woods with the motley table setting in pastel rose, green and diverse shades of glorious red. The centerpiece is refreshing, inviting and the silver goblets, historically festive! Very stunning!
army55
One of the popular and innovative, beautiful pieces of furniture for your elegant dining room ambiance is the baronial and courtly sideboard. Not only is it a lovely piece of furniture but it is also a place to festoon with beauty, using your regal and captivating  decor, as well as displaying decadent desserts, hot bread baskets, side dishes and beverages upon.
This side table is dressed in magnificent and fresh greens, kaleidoscopic china coffee cups and exquisite silver. It is a spirited as well as sanguine addition to this dining room.
army54
This side table is absolutely euphoric. You do not see many sideboards arrayed in this kind of beauty…The vintage mirror is captivating with it’s antiquated design and elfin, floral swag… the tall, elaborate silver candelabras are classy, almost hypnotic, and  the decadent, showstopping freshly baked cake is comfortably resting on this sideboard, tempting every guest! 🙂   Absolutely romantic and junoesque.
army51
These two sideboards are tasteful and luxurious, but are warm and inviting as well. Both displays capture your eye with their diverse and lovely floral arrangements and the opalescent glow of the tall candles with their dancing flames. Two wonderful ideas to dress up your room for that special fete.
army50army35

Brilliant, magical, enchanting and filled with charm. A winning sideboard table for any dining room patina. Golden candlelight, reflected in mirrored glass is always a top-of-the-line decor addition to bring forth warmth, magic and a bit of romance. 🙂 army40

Lastly, my adored topiary tree festooned with bedazzling roses…and the cake…HEAVENLY! This sideboard’s ambiance is one of the Victorian era, alluring and full of romance. (The trees are very easy to create and yet look as if they are straight from the florist shop.)  🙂army31

I just read an article on elegant dining by the ‘Fine dining editor’ of the Examiner, George Singeltary. He stressed that what we are looking for when we ‘go out for a night on the town’ to enjoy an elegant getaway and delicious cuisine is three things… We want great service, great food and an a great ambiance to relax in. These are all wondrous gifts that our favorite eateries graciously offer us, but we, as well, can create the same, memorable and convivial experience right in our very own homes to bless our friends and family with, free of charge. I hope this vignette has inspired you with some new ideas on how to bring forth an elegant and grandeur dining room, providing a place for your  resplendent and delightsome evening with your loved ones.

I want to leave you with one of those superb dinners I was telling you about earlier in the blog…from the deep blue waters of the Atlantic ocean…luscious lump crab casserole! You can used canned lump crab, but it will not be as scrumptious! 🙂

crab1

YOU WILL NEED: one pound of lump crab meat, make sure there are no shells within your crab, 4 large eggs, (beaten) 3/4 stick of butter, 1 green pepper, (chopped finely,)  1 stalk of celery, (chopped finely,)  3 green onions, chopped finely, (using the chives as well ,) 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 cup of half and half,  1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Remember, (as you LOOK at all these ingredients, it is a rich dinner and you will only be eating just a serving so, for one evening, it will be OK.  🙂 One woman who had this at my luncheon loved it so much, she called me for the recipe… after SEEING the ingredients, she asked if she could substitute with the cream and half and half. If you do, the casserole will not  taste at all like it is supposed to…They say, “everything in moderation.) 🙂    It’s worth it!

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Melt your butter over low heat and saute’ your  chopped vegetables; green pepper, celery stalk, green onion and chives, just until soft. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing to cool.  Beat your four eggs together until well blended. Add the half and half and cream, continue beating or whisking your mixture until it is again, well blended. Add your dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste, (I use freshly ground black pepper and Tabasco.)  Gently, fold in  your lump crab meat  and mix together. Add your freshly sauteed and cooled vegetables, as well as the melted butter they  have been cooked in,  then scoop your mixture into a buttered casserole or a 9×13-2 inch Pyrex dish or baking pan, (same size.)  Spread in pan evenly. Cover with bread crumbs, (I use the seasoned breadcrumbs from the grocer. ) Bake for 30 minutes, test the center to see if it is done as all ovens are different. It should be firm….insert a knife to see if it has cooked through. You will know! 🙂 *** I use about two stems of green onion chopped, but the chives of three.

ENJOY! This is great served with fresh steamed asparagus, sourdough bread and a baked potato with all the trimmings. 🙂

Additional Links:
Country Living magazine white dining room
Victoria Magazine
Country Living magazine
Soot Collector Illuma Lids for candles 

PHOTOGRAPHS In placing your computer mouse upon each photo or graphic, it will display where the picture originated from.

 

COASTAL AUTUMN JOYS.

 

“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!) 🙂

mystic lodgemystic3

 

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.

oyster catcher 2oyster catcher1

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. 🙂

YOU WILL NEED:

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.

DIRECTIONS:

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.

LINKS TO COME!