An Annual Autumnal Event at the home of Cousin City Mouse

It was spring of 2011….The Mistress of Cousin City Mouse had created a tiny cottage door.

And she had created a tiny cottage door (in a soft buttery yellow shade) for Eliza the Mouse ™ 

to take to her new home at Rose Water Cottage…for the move was fast approaching.

This is a photo of that very first cottage door, at the baseboard of sister-in-law Bonnie Peay's home…

The first weekend in November of this year, she was having her annual autumnal chili supper event, and I had assisted sister-in-law Mechelle Moss with the decorating.


There were stacks of pumpkins with spanish moss…

…gardening carts filled with mums and pumpkins…

pretty berries…

and pretty shades...

At dusk, friends and family began to gather…

There was the sweetest vintage washstand holding an old wash basin…

and a full watering can at the ready…

for there would be marshmallows to roast…

and there would be sticky fingers…

There was a lovely vignette below the shade tree, 

perfectly perfect for stealing away…for the decorating was taxing...

…and then night fell …

The campfire was all a'glow…

and hands were warmed…

The chandeliers hung from the old tree, providing just enough light over the tables with their burlap runners and pumpkins and tea lights ..

The candles melted and dripped waxy droplets throughout the evening…

On the covered porch, there were autumnal vignettes Bonnie had arranged…

and it was oh, so cozy…

Just inside the french doors, draped across the barkcloth covered chair, is one of the first shawls I knitted (a gift to her for her birthday in March of 2011)…a Tasha Tudor-inspired Cottage Shawl in that shade "the very color of beeswax candles and yellow ware bowls."

(And it wouldn't be long after those first shawls were made, that little mousie shawls would be created)

On the  bookshelves of the keeping room, is the tidy abode of  Cousin City Mouse,

where she is found preparing for holiday baking…

She too, has a campfire…

all a'glow…

warming her little mousie paws…

There is a new cottage door, with lampposts lit, alongside…

and a gardening cart filled with pumpkins…

My book for Autumn, Pick - a - Pick - a - Pumpkin, was inspired by the annual trek to 

Amish Country in Etheridge, Tennessee, 

where Mechelle and Bonnie acquired all the pumpkins for this event…

and I will always treasure the memory of that adventure I shared with them,  Fall of 2011.


Autumnal Blessings, Friends!

A new book on the horizon...

After three tries…I was finally happy with the way the cover was coming together.

That ballerina's pose was the most difficult illustration challenge I have faced…

I even tried to position my own feet, wobbling and losing my balance, gaining a whole new level of respect for all ballerinas everywhere!

Eliza is in awe, as well!

At last, the illustrations and text could be tweaked no more, and it was time to get this be-ribboned portfolio in the mail to the formatter, all the way in Tampa, Florida. 

Fed Ex delivered.

You would think it would be easy to relax, after all that work..the eye strain…the migraine headaches..

but it took great effort to unwind my brain.

Knitting always helps…

and a sunshine-y Sunday morning…

with sunbeams streaming across the dining room..

dancing around the crystals of the chandelier…

falling upon the last blooms of summer..

those hydrangeas and their heavenly hues…

And while we wait for the book to be formatted, printed, published, delivered…

research begins on the next project.

Last summer, on a visit to Indiana...I was asked if I would write a children's book to introduce little ones to my favorite author,

Gene Stratton-Porter..

and, of course, I said YES!

I am honored and humbled…and ready for the challenge.

Her book "Laddie" is the closest to an autobiography, and so this is where I began….

After my early morning reading/research, it was time to prepare for a visit from my daughter-in-love

and new grandson, Oliver.

She loves to enjoy a cup of tea, on her visits,

while I rock sweet baby, so the kettle was on, and the tea pot waited…

Sophia enjoyed a moment, feeling like such a big girl…

He is the sweetest thing! And his expressions are so entertaining! He is so animated!

and then this arrived in the mail… Thank you dear friend, Belinda, for hugging Susan's neck for me, having her sign a copy, and putting it in the mail to me, just when I was needing a mental "break"…

Susan Branch's Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams..

I had enjoyed a much needed Sunday afternoon nap, awakened by the dappled afternoon sunlight streaming across the bed. 

As I read, I felt compelled to bake (tell me if it doesn't happen to you, too, when you read her books;)

I gathered the ingredients to make her "from scratch" pie crust…

peeled 3 big Pink Lady apples…

and had a pie in the old Chambers gas oven by 8:00 that night...

Little girlie was curious, and found me in the kitchen…and smelled all the delicious smells…

She wanted to "bake"

 I taught her how to flour her tiny pin and roll gently across the dough….

The tea pot cookie cutter tin, served as a make-shift pie pan, and I taught her how to pinch around the edges of her "pie"

and soon it was time for the real pie to come out of the oven.

We had great difficulty waiting for it to cool …blowing frantically on the hot apples…

and she looked at me, us sitting there together at the dining room table…she said,

"I juss fink i'm in wuv wiv my mom."

Watery eyes met hers, and I said, "I think I'm in love with you, too!"

The next morning, Big Daddy granted me the gift of sleeping in…

and the last piece of pie, to eat with my cup of coffee…

With new energy, I made my way out to the Storybook Studio

for a good cleaning and straightening…

for, after a long project, things can get a bit out of hand…

I picked the remaining hydrangea blooms and arranged them in a blue mason jar,

cleared Aunt Marguerite's little oak kitchen table,

 and added her oil lamp to the vignette.

I cleared the old mantel…

swept the floors...

arranged a new work space on the table with the old typewriter and doll trunk..

Seth Tudor's art stand…and an old chest with tiny drawers,

 holding buttons and beads and rubber stamps.

The antique accordion lamp with its green shade, provides perfect lighting…

(sitting at the oak table, under the chandelier, was so very hot)

I tucked the chair, carved and created by Seth Tudor, amongst the Beatrix Potter treasures.

There, it holds Tasha Tudor seed packets and a tiny BP cup …

More hydrangea blooms sitting pretty atop the Singer treadle, alongside child-size sewing machines

and a giant Victorian thimble pincushion…my treasure from Martha's Vineyard…

There is time, now, for cooking breakfast for little girlie.

Tea pot Toast is her most favorite…and the only way I can get her to eat eggs;)

And at last, the book is submitted for printing/publishing…

It won't be long now. In a day or two, I will preview the online proof of the cover.

If all is as it should be, I will order the hardcopy proof.

Once it arrives, and I see that IT is as it should be,

the advance copies will be ordered.

And then on August 16, it will be available for purchase, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

This is the process.

It is so very hard to be patient.

So I find things to do…to stay busy…

and wait…

Thank you for waiting with me. Thank you for your encouragement and support and love.

Blessings, friends.

Story Hour at Barnes and Noble ...

There is nothing like Story Hour.

Sitting with children, reading a good book, and watching their faces for their reactions.

The attention span of a child, is so very short…which means I must be prepared.

The wheels in my head, turn all through the night…thinking, planning...

These days, there is much to compete with…

Princesses and Ponies and Minions and Wizards…

This is how I prepare.

I take a hot bath, with a cupful of Epsom salts and a few drops of

Tea Rose perfume oil.

I don a


that is long and full and quite princess-like..

I tie the silk ribbon ties to these

fanciful slippers

and wear a pretty

French locket

around my neck…

I will be talking and laughing and stealing a bite of sugar cookie or a sip of water

so I apply the most

long-lasting lip color

, in the softest

prettiest shades


I pack a tiny basket purse with my tiny mousies, handkersniffs, lotions, miniature nantucket basket,

tiny Bible, and a tinkling brass key…

I make copies of pages from

Eliza's Coloring book

And I wait…

There has been a table prepared for me…

most of my books are there…

and I will sign them..

AFTER the story hour….

There is a stage.

I am tall.

They are small.

So I lift a tiny bench up onto the stage

and pull it close to them…those tiny little ones.

And the performance begins. 

I introduce them to John Jacob..Eliza's friend…

and find a young boy who will hold onto him with great care….

And then I introduce Eliza…and try to explain why I just can't get her to take off that tutu and tiara..

….and as I pull the tiny articles from the tiny basket purse, and distribute them amongst the children..

I am thankful for the opportunity to bring joy,

to share a comforting story, 

to encourage a young girl who is heading into third grade….to hold her hands as she tells me she plays the piano, and she doesn't like to climb trees, but she likes to read…

to share with her that I began playing the piano when I was in 2nd grade…

I am thankful that I am able to look into the most adorable little face of one wiggly little toddler…catch her  gaze, and read to her…as if no one else is in the audience…to let her know how special she is.

I am thankful for a little boy named Simon, who sat so still and listened so intently and was so proud when his name was drawn from the cup….

and I signed his name and mine on the

Coloring Book

I am thankful for teenage girls who came to my table …who write and illustrate and dream of being authors, one day…

who linger and talk and share stories…and hug…and say kind words…

and whose parents are encouraging and inspiring…

I am thankful for a sister who comes at the end of the day, who takes my great big portfolio of new illustrations and text and looks over it all with her trained editor eyes…

Each of us amazed at the other's talent and gift…

And for parents who have entertained a busy little girlie so their daughter can do what she is called to do, there just aren't enough words to express my gratitude.

On the days that I wish I lived in another time…a simpler more innocent time….

I am thankful that a big

book store

would invite and welcome an old-fashioned girlie mouse...

would add my little books to their shelves…

and would say, "Come back, again, for Story Hour."

Eliza Visits the Ballet is ready, at last….

It has been a long time coming…forever, it seems.

It was November of 2014, when Tim whisked me and my mousie Eliza off to NYC

for the 1st performance of the season,

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, performed by the New York City Ballet

in the David Koch Theater in Lincoln Center.

It was before Eliza visited Rachel Ashwell's The Prairie, in Round Top, Texas...

Her Tutu and Tiara were brand new and crisp and the little silk ribbon ties were tied in neat little bows.

These days, she's a bit shabbier …but it suits her…

she's comfortable in her own mousie skin.

So finally, her story of that wonderful adventure to New York City is coming to life.

On the 4th of July, the inspiration for the cover came, and I retreated to my Storybook Studio.

Tiny fraser fir branches and a grapevine wreath….

and pinecones….

 I worked feverishly…knowing that this book needed to be ready for Christmas, 

which meant it needed to be ready for the shows and sales and events in the fall…

so friends could actually HAVE the book for Christmas..

Which meant,  I had to get busy.

Eliza seemed relieved when I informed her I was working on the very last illustration…

for the very last page of the story.

And so she didn't mind posing one last time.

She's been so patient….

And then, yesterday, as I was adding the final touches, we received the phone call.

I could now add two letters after her name and alongside her image.

A Trademark …Eliza the Mouse now has a trademark.

This means that she is protected. 

It also means there are so many possibilities down the road, for her.

This verse seemed fitting for the Doily Page of the new book.. 

It is with a happy heart that I announce to you our little book is ready for pre-ordering!

The 52 page tale, in its white matte laminate hard cover, will measure 6"x9"

 (Pictured below, is the title page)

I have prepared the pre-order listing in my Etsy Shop


if you would like your book personalized and autographed.

The first 50 copies will be signed and numbered.

When the book goes to printing, I am certain Amazon will also provide a pre-order feature,

as they did with the Prairie book.

Once again, Thank you for your Support, Your Patience, and Your endless comments, emails, cards, and messages of encouragement.  Those are the things that keep me going.

Blessings, friends.

I can still hear the music...

The poor old girl is beyond repair, but her ivory keys could tell some tales, I'm sure.

We acquired this pre-Civil War era Pleyel, as we were making our move to our 

Rose Water Cottage.

We had hoped to one day have her restored.

Xavier and Sophia have enjoyed pecking at the keys, 

but they are so sadly out of tune, and some lay silent, strike after strike...

She reminds me, though, how fortunate I am to have grown up in a household 

where music was appreciated.

A Steinway grand piano made its way to our home, after a long search in the classified ads of the local newspaper.

My sister was on a path. She wanted to be a concert pianist.

She practiced and practiced and practiced. 

She was amazing.

(she's amazing, still)


 could play Gershwin and Bach and Chopin, along with all the old hymns…

...and the top 40's.

My dad could play by ear, and his legs would dance as his hands romped across the keyboard…

..all those old tunes he knew as a boy, growing up on a farm, in Kentucky.

My brothers, one on the guitar and one on the trumpet, and I with my flute, 

would collaborate with sister, 

who could transpose anything…

and we'd give performances in the living room,

 with our parents as the audience, seated on the sofa.

One Christmas, it was our rendition of O Holy Night that brought them to tears.

We didn't understand. 

Now we do.

I sat in my chair, Sunday Morning, sipping my coffee, 

I can still hear the music.


Blessings, friends.

A Summer Saturday in the South...

Growing up, Saturdays were all about preparing for Sunday... 

 our shoes were polished,  our hair was shampooed, our tithe envelopes filled…

and in the evening, a light supper of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bowl of tomato soup,

and a glass of sweet tea with fresh lemon, followed by Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk.

As I grew older, we all pitched in cleaning the house…vacuuming our rooms, cleaning the bathroom…

There were always fresh cut roses from the garden, the furniture was polished with Lemon Pledge, 

and the floors were mopped with Pine-sol.

Mom would prepare her Sunday School lesson, Dad would prepare his sermon, 

and I'll never forget how he would rake the shag carpeting in the living room. 

It was the 70's. It's what we did.

That routine has stuck with me…parts of it…

(no shag carpeting to rake, these days)

There's just something about cleaning house on Saturday, preparing for Sunday, that feels so good…

So this is how our Saturday began...facing this playroom….

This little girl, with her beautiful, creative mind, can turn a room upside down 

in no time.

I walk through, and I find her little vignettes of play…the puppy dogs lined up in front of tiny plates..

a plastic bowl filled with water, and a tiny fisher price doll bed floating…

there had been a pool party, she says.

The "Frozen" tent lying there in front of the washer and dryer, 

cardboard boxes turned into houses for tiny dollies… 

rumpled blue tissue paper across the floor.."No, don't frwow it away…dat's da water!"

And then I remember my creative imaginative play, when I was a little girl. 

I remember the things I didn't want thrown away…

And so we sit in the middle of the floor, and I help her learn to find order… 

How to find a place for everything and everything in its place. 

I remember my mother doing the same with me…sorting through my closet filled with Barbies and boxes and baby dolls. 

Finally, there was order, and she played contentedly, at her tea table, as I moved on to the laundry and the dishes and the vacuuming.

She joined me, when I approached the back porch…

her with her little broom, sweeping along with me and mine.

Quilts and rugs gathered up for laundering…

and more hydrangeas harvested…

and then it was time for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…and a hot bath and shampoo..

and a viewing of the old Disney movie from 1973 "Robinhood"

I slip out to the porch for a few minutes, to drape the freshly laundered quilts and rug…

and reflect...

I'm thankful for these Saturdays…preparing for Sunday….

Blessings, friends.

Summer days in the Storybook Studio….

On this hot summer day, I head to my haven…my Storybook Studio

and the fading hues of the hydrangeas woo me...

I am comfortable in my "pinafore of soft white cotton…. pockets made from eyelet doilies…"

 I swish the paints and find the palest shade of that heavenly hue,

the palette inspired by that fading bloom…

and I marvel that I am satisfied to paint that most graceful pose

and those slippered feet…

for I was not created to leap and dance as a Sugar Plum Fairy,

but to tell the story... to encourage... to inspire…

and as the sun sets on my days in my little Storybook Studio…

I lay my head down at night, and thank God that he has given each of us

a task…a talent… 

So we keep growing...climbing…and stretching…


Blessings, friends.

Hot Flashes and a Strawberry Moon

This season in life…

…it is summer. 

Every day.

All year long.

These hot flashes…will they ever end?

I sat out in my little white rocking chair, beneath the Victorian Portico of my Storybook Studio

and studied the ivy encircling the post, climbing up and into its gingerbread trim…

I saw the dark clouds forming.

Was a storm brewing, on this first day of summer…the real summer…

not just my own personal summer…

I studied the fragile petals of the hydrangea blooms reaching out to me, there.

A thousand shades…heavenly hues of blues and lavenders and pinks…

some were not so notable, just one shade…pretty…but all the petals the same color.

But then there were the blooms that defied the rules.

They looked like old souls…faded and beautiful and a thousand soft hues…

each petal different from the next…

Oh how these flowers intrigue me. 

How much I think I'm like that bloom, there, with so many different shades…

an old soul, from another time. 

And I ponder the ivy leaves…

with their veins ..always the same, no matter the size or shade of the leaf…

from the brightest tender green to the darkest leather... 

those veins are always the same.

In this season, I am more aware.

I look at things a little more closely and appreciate their significance.

It requires putting down the electronics…

shutting out the noise…

sitting still.. 

no distractions.

Evening comes.

I fall asleep after little one has turned off her chattering and succumbed to slumber.

...but at 1:07, I am awakened by the flash of heat coursing through me..

and as I wipe my hand across my damp forehead, 

I realize I had failed to step outside at bedtime, to see the moon..

the Strawberry Moon.

For the first time since 1948, there was to be a full moon on Summer Solstice.

Quietly, I slid out of bed, slipped on my gardening clogs by the back door,

and made my way out to the porch.

Before I could even look up to see the moon, the tin-shingled roof of my Storybook Studio was radiant.

The spotlight moon was shining down on my little haven.  

Carefully, I descended the steps and peered through the leafy branches of the big hackberry,

and there it was.

How magnificent.

I snapped my photo…and after posting…I scrolled through the newsfeed of social media.

There were other photos…

girlfriends all over the world were looking up at the same moon.

Sandy, in Texas…she was awake with hot flashes, too…snapping HER photo of the moon..

and there was Marie in England..

and Lori in Indiana…she was liking my photo…

Laura, in Florida…DeeMagdalina in Virginia Beach…

Lisa in Oregon..

We all look at this moon with wonder.

It brings us all close, for a little bit, and causes us to feel a bond..

a sisterhood.

We're all in this, together…hot flashes and all..

No matter the "brightest tender"…or the "darkest leather"…

young or old…

our veins are the same.

The moon pulls and stirs us. It causes sleep to elude us. What a powerful force.

What a powerful force we are, as a sisterhood.

I see the moon, and the moon sees me…

God bless the moon ..

and God bless me. 

The birds begin their chirping, as I end this post entry.

I will try once more, to sleep…

Goodnight, moon.

Blessings, friends.

Father's Day

It was the first weekend in June and I had been asked to speak at Trevecca Nazarene University's

Author Talk on the Hill.

What an absolute honor, to present my story at my alma mater…

with former professors in the audience…

(my beloved Children's Lit professor, Mrs. Sara Chilton, and just behind her,

Mrs. Lois Wolfgang, my advisor/mentor/friend through my studies in Medical Assisting)

The greatest honor, though, was to have my parents, there. 

and my big sister..

Last winter, my dad had endured a turbulent season with his health. 

We weren't completely confident he would survive the pneumonia, the MRSA, or the final diagnosis of malaria (They had traveled to Sierre Leone last fall)

There was his firstborn grand child, my oldest, Matthew…

who was expecting his firstborn child, Oliver.

This would be my Dad's first great grandchild. 

We held out hope…we prayed…

and God was faithful.

On May 13th, in the wee hours of the morning,

Oliver made his entrance into the world.

I have never been so proud of my son..

I have never seen such love, such joy, such total adoration...

Until I saw this photo of my own dad, with his firstborn…my big sister…

alongside the photo of my Matthew with his firstborn.

Look at these two…

The resemblance is uncanny!

And here is my dad, smitten with his great grandson, being held in my mother's arms.. 

It was just yesterday she was holding my Matthew…

…and I was the new mommy…

and my grandaddy was holding his first great grandchild...

The circle of life. 

And no matter how old I get…

or how many grandchildren I have of my own…

I am still a daddy's girl, 

and it makes me so happy to be able to present something to him on this Father's Day

that makes him smile…

that lets him know just how incredibly profound his influence has been on me.

In Sunday's paper, the Tennesseean,

there was the


that had been in the works.

The timing could not have been more perfect.

To be able to slide into the pew at church, beside him, and hand him this paper..

and to hold his hand, and sing songs of praise…hearing his deep bass voice along with my alto…

all I can think, is how very good God is.

I don't take one day for granted. 

Not one single one.

And this little fella is so fortunate to have such a legacy.

To have such a handsome, loving daddy…

and such a beautiful, loving mommy…

…and every time I look on this precious face...

…and every time I hold him close, in my arms...

I will thank God for him and this incredible circle of life.

Happy Father's Day

William H. Jones, Jr. and Matthew Taylor Blankenship

You are missed everyday, Grandaddy, Fred Aly, Jr.


The Hydrangea Harvest, a Tea Party, and a Fairy that takes Flight...

Friday morning, dear husband set out to paint the recently constructed pergola.
(Built to accommodate the climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison)

He was afraid all those Endless Summer hydrangeas would be covered in droplets of white paint, and asked if there was some way I could gather/tie them up out of the way.
After some inspection, I concluded it might just be safe to harvest some of them for drying….just the ones in close proximity to the post, there.

And then there are these…almost blocking the entranceway into the Storybook Studio.
If they take over, entirely, I shall not care… I will walk all the way around to the rear entrance, if I must.

So with my small purple-handled gardening shears, I began to glean bloom after bloom, stripping the large leathery leaves,
and plunging them into the cool water in the ironstone pitcher.

A few of the Quietness roses had blooms almost spent.
They were added to the bouquet.

(I love wearing those sweet Antoinette slippers by Sandy Wylie Olson)

There were so very many heavenly hued blooms,
that I was able to fill an old blue mason jar, to overflowing, 
and place it atop the old marble sink in the studio.

The largest bouquet went inside the cottage to sit alongside the fairy, floating 'neath the chandelier in the dining room…alongside glittery candles in their crystal candlesticks.

There were three tiny fragrant blooms from the Madame Joseph Schwartz,
an old rose that was on its last leg, early this spring…and transplanted alongside the Quietness roses, from its container between the adirondack chairs.
It is now thriving, and I am so thankful.
I placed them in this ancient brown medicine bottle
husband retrieved from the ground where he created the space for the fountain, there in our courtyard.
(If only it could talk…the stories it might tell…)

Saturday morning came…husband was off to work…and I invited an out-of-town friend to come by for a visit, while she was in town for an event.
I decided it might be the perfect opportunity for a bit of a tea party.
I would prepare a pot of Harney & Sons Paris tea.

…and the minute little girlie heard the words tea party, she asked if we could bake some cookies..
and "do we have all dee dagredients?"
Yes…we had all the "dagredients" for Victorian Lavender Cookies with Rosewater Icing.
Commence baking.
(The recipe is included in my book Eliza Celebrates a Royal Wedding)

So much of my time is spent in the role as Mommy, to Sophia…
discipline, instruction, day-in-day-out duties.
Today, she needed me to be Grammy. 
She needed this experience to tuck away in her memory bank.
I demonstrated how to gently crush the fragrant lavender buds between her hands,
and then dropped a teaspoonful into her tiny hands.
She mimicked what she had just learned.
She paid attention as I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough and dropped them onto the parchment paper on the cookie sheet…and then she had her turn to do the same.
As the cookies baked, she licked the beaters,
standing there on her little pink stool, in her little white nightgown, 
with its pink stains from the strawberries she nibbled for breakfast.

Then it was time to prepare the Rosewater icing.
The measuring of the fragrant water was tedious,
but she was allowed to stir the powdered sugar mix…
carefully… sooooo very carefully…
This was an incredible feat for her.
I was singing her praises throughout the process.

Finally, it was time to get dressed, and she chose a perfectly perfect dress for a tea party…
one that would twirl, for she would want to demonstrate her
ballerina dance for our guest.

Dear Gale Brisa, who created the inspiring group Vignette It, all the way from California, made her way to our Rose Water Cottage, 
and we were so very excited to see her!

We had finally met, in person, when Tim and I had traveled to Round Top, Texas
for the launch of the new book
and we had posed for a photo with one of the Junk Gypsy sisters, Jolie Sikes..

So to have her here, in Franklin, at our home…
well, I was just beside myself!
And on top of all that…it was her birthday!

How thankful I am for those little whispers…the nudgings…
we had no idea it would be the birthday of this dearest woman, so far away from home..
How honored we were, Sophia and I, to celebrate this kindred spirit friend, who is loved and cherished by so many. 

I was so proud of one certain little 5 1/2 year old girl, who dug deep and demonstrated the very best tea party manners.  It was a monumental moment.

After many goodbyes and hugs and kisses…our girlfriend was on her way.
And Sophia, still enchanted by the mood of the day, 
dug deep into her basket of dress up clothes, retrieving silk fairy/butterfly wings 
(They had been a gift from my mom and dad, some time ago)
It was as if they were brand new,
and she took flight…

….out into the magical backyard, she flew…

 Dear friend of ours, Embi Ferro, had come by…
enjoyed a cup of the Paris tea, still warm in the tea pot,
and a tasty cookie.

She asked if I had a quilt, as she wanted to create a tent for Sophia, 
using the two sawhorses she had spied, behind the studio.

Is there anything better, in the wide wide world, than a quilt tent,
in the backyard,
on an almost-summer day…

 I crept up alongside her tent, listening to her chattering and giggling inside, 
and there were her pink wellies
those "giddy-up and go" boots,
perfect for slipping on fast, 
when you've found your wings and you're in a hurry to fly...

Fly with the Fairies, friends!


Story Hour...

I am an author and illustrator of children's books based on the character, Eliza the Mouse, who resides in Grammy's House. I have self-published 12 of my 13 titles, and I am currently working on the title Eliza Visits the Ballet 

slated for release, late summer.

That's what I tell folks, when they ask what I do. 

And this is a photo that shows me doing just that….

But THIS is what I live for…

Getting dressed in a pretty frock (there had been a wonderful



and slipping on some girlie



climbing into the passenger seat (husband/Big Daddy at the wheel)

…my menagerie of characters…

mousie tales…

and coloring books 

all tucked in baskets in the back seat...

making our way to Story Hour.

THIS is why I do what I do.

It happened to be story hour at this wonderfully charming 

Public Library…

in Martin, Tennessee (not far from UT Martin)

The reminder was there…the flag flying half-mast…

those lives lost in Orlando…

But for a little while…we would help these children forget the tragedies…the fear…

just for an afternoon, they wouldn't have to overhear the news broadcasts, the conversations…

they wouldn't have to be afraid.

I was greeted by the most wonderfully welcoming staff.

I was introduced to the bright-eyed Jenny Claiborne (Youth and Children's Services Director)

and she quickly introduced me to her daughter, Sadie…an ambitious young lady…looking forward to 5th grade …and adamantly pursuing information on how to publish her book. 

Yes. She's written a book.

I was impressed with her passion.

We were taken to the conference room and she helped with the arranging of my books.. and tiny mousie belongings…and Mrs. Beasley was loved on and positioned on the table alongside the book for summer…

Eliza Meets Ella Grace Louise

Sadie then asked if I would like a tour of the children's section of the library,

and down the elevator we went.

I quickly spied the most fantastic antique rocking chair.

It was calling my name.

I sat down into its cushion, and as I rocked, it made the most comforting creaking sounds.

When I mentioned this to Librarian Jenny (Sadie's mother)

she asked, "Would you like us to take it upstairs for you?"

Would I!

And here it is….

and when I found my perch, there, the children began to gather...

I introduced them to Eliza…

I had introduced them to Mrs. Beasley…

my favorite doll from my childhood….that I had received on my 10th birthday, 

when I was in 5th grade, in 1971.

They started doing the math and figured out my age,

and quite a conversation ensued.

Can you see Sadie, sitting 'neath the table, there, inspecting Mrs. Beasley. 

I let them take turns holding the doll and Eliza and John Jacob. 

John Jacob still smelled like coffee, according to Logan. 

He and his older brother Nathan, were two of the most inquisitive little boys…

filled with questions and comments and humor. 

Gosh, we need more Logan's and Nathan's in the world.

This darling girl, fell in love with Eliza...

Children continued to trickle in, find their best friend, squeeze in.... 

I held up the book for summer.

I opened it to the doily page and read…

"There is no such thing as a child who doesn't like to read, 

only those who have not found the right book."

I told them, "Eliza isn't like a cartoon character with thoughts above her head in a bubble..

Her thoughts float above her head in a doily, because she's an old-fashioned girlie mouse."

(I'm quite animated…and talk with my hands…a…lot…)

(and you'll see, Mrs. Beasley is now having a turn with Sadie's best friend)

I begin to read the story…

and then we find out there's a little girl named Ella..

sitting right in front of me…she's Nathan and Logan's sister..

and I say, "Wait just a minute…Your name is ELLA?"

She grins and says shyly, "Yes."

and I ask…

"What is your middle name?"

grinning, she responds, "Grace."

We just had to take a moment to take it all in…

She has strawberry blonde hair…and a few little freckles upon her nose.

She is 8.

What a special moment.

So the story continued…

and every time I said, "Ella…"

They responded in chorus..

"Grace Louise"

We had the most fun.

And here is this little Ella Grace…

and here is smart little Sadie…

I showed the children my scrapbook/journal/diary from Martha's Vineyard

and then the actual book, along with my Nantucket basket purse filled with mementos …

and then, to show them one of the stages of the process of book writing/illustrating,

I opened my portfolio of watercolor illustrations and handwritten calligraphy text 

and read from my work in progress, 

Eliza Visits the Ballet.

I came to a line in the story, referring to the ballerina posing, 

and I asked, "Is there anyone who takes ballet?"

Littlest girlie raises her hand. 

She's 4. 

She's brave and too young to be intimidated or self-conscious.

...and she poses

(Did you notice the eye contact she's making with Eliza?)

Precious girl.

And then this young lady finds her courage and comes to me saying..

"I've just finished my 5th year in dance!"

And I ask, "Would you like to show us a pose?"

She doesn't hesitate.

So proud for the opportunity to show her skill and her poise.

Oh, to have the self-confidence of that 4 year old. 

When do we lose it? 

Is it somewhere between 4 and 10?

and then it doesn't return until we're 54 and a half?

This. THIS is why I do what I do.

Why I work on writing……

trying not to deliberate too long over the words, knowing that God gives me just the right ones

…and usually it's around 3 or 4 in the morning..

when my mind is at rest from all the distractions and noise..

when He can whisper the ones that are the most important.

THiS is why I work diligently at that little oak table out there in my Storybook Studio

swishing that brush…playing with those watercolors…

following His inspiration to create illustrations that will help interpret the message of the story.

It is all for the purpose of having an opportunity like this... 

to come to Story Hour

in this lovely old Library that once housed the Post Office..

in this small university town of Martin, Tennessee.

...To be able to tell these children that it is okay to dream,

and that it is okay to love a little mouse,

and dollies,

and ballerina slippers,

and twirly dresses…

even when you get to be 54 and a half.

Me and my Mousie girl…

we will keep dreaming and sharing and loving...

and we are forever grateful for your support and encouragement along the way.

Blessings, friends.

The Day on the Quilt

On this Friday in May..before the long Memorial Day weekend, I headed out to my Storybook Studio 

to continue work on the illustrations for the new book..

book #14, Eliza Visits the Ballet.

The hydrangeas were showing out…the birds were singing…it was a perfect morning, in every way.

…but when Sophia came through the old Eastlake door, carrying our favorite nursery rhyme book,

and asked, "Can you read to me?"…plans changed.

I gathered up the old quilt, the book, the small square floral pillow, took her hand, and we walked out into the backyard.

There was an unusually magical feeling, there, on this day.

I spread the quilt, she lounged …perusing the pages…

and I captured this….

It had been some time since we had read from this book.

I had begun to wonder where the time had gone…since those early days of reading the classic tales

and familiar nursery rhymes. 

The computer and electronic games and television shows were creeping in.

But on this day in May…in her nightgown and wellies,

she had come back to her first love..

it had been my first love, as a child.

It was so very quiet and so very peaceful, she slipped into a trance...

As a little girl, I had loved this set of books…My Book House. 

I can remember pulling them from the book shelf in our living room of the parsonage,

when we lived in Orlando, Florida, next door to the Baptist church, where my daddy was the pastor.

At some point, the set of books was passed on to another family.

When I became a Grammy, I came upon these books in a children's boutique 

in Asheville, North Carolina. 

I told my husband, "Those books are so familiar!"

I called my mother, as I was standing there, staring up at the books on display above me…

She confirmed that we had been given the set…along with the wooden "house."

The set belonged to the shop owner, and she would not part with it.

So my search began…and I acquired several of the "blue" editions.

There were tiny wild strawberries surrounding us..

…and we thought, "wouldn't it be fun to bring out the dollies and bunnies and mousies…and a tiny basket, for collecting berries …"

Oh, how we played and played...

I brought out a tray with a tiny tea set and gold fish crackers, 

and Sophia served tiny red berries to all the friends,

and we drank water from tiny tea cups.

Miss Maggie Rabbit had not been out to play in such a very very long time…

and she was quite thrilled to dress up in her pretty dress and knitted shawl and felt boots...

Eliza the Mouse, Alice the wool cut Bunny, and Phia Dolly had such a lovely time…

When the door is opened to make-believe…

the imagination soars…

and tiny tents made from sticks and vintage linens, appear,

and they are furnished with tiny chairs and tables and dishes…

And I was transported to my childhood…and my fascination with creating tiny houses from twigs…

This tree stands guard over our back yard, along the fence row..and I'm amazed.

While little girl in her gown and pink wellies squishes wild strawberries for the ants,

collects stray pine cones and sticks

and tugs at the grass,

I am thankful for this enchanted place we call home.

As a little girl, this was my dream.

I would look at the illustrations in my momma's collection of Joan Walsh Anglund books

and dream of magical places…

along creeks and in meadows.

Florida was sand spurs and orange groves and didn't seem quite as romantic.

I was never a fan of the beach…or sand…

So here I sit, on this quilt, with just enough of a breeze to balance the humidity…

and I am a happy girl…a happy Grammy.

We lie on the quilt, listening to the music of Elizabeth Mitchell…

her version of You Are My Sunshine…

…and she says, "take a pitcher of evrwyfing, Grammy."

We sit up, looking into each other's faces…


her eyes dancing!

and she says,

"My heart is full up to da top!"

I am weeping and laughing and overwhelmed by her attempt to articulate this feeling..

this joy.

And I reply,

"Mine is too, Sophia! Mine is too!"

and we hug,

And she says..

"Dis is da bess day of my wife!"

I can't recall a more profound moment, when I was moved, to this degree.

My mother's response,

"God chooses carefully the one He uses to speak His word to us. 

We listen carefully and recognize His voice,

even in the voice of a child."


Very early this morning, while it was still dark…
even before my eyes would open…
I was overwhelmed by a realization. 
This little toy mouse named Eliza,  has served as my outlet to express how I view the world… how I see things.
I suppose I've known this, in the back of my mind, and I've often joked, "I'm Eliza!" 
But this morning, it became especially clear.
I've heard there's a theory, that people have what's known as their "life age."
I truly believe mine is around 8 or 9. ...Just ask my mother...
That is how I see the world, through the eyes of an 8 year old….

….the 8 year old Christie who loved her baby dolls..the 9 year old that made Barbie cars out of shoeboxes…the 10 year old that created little log cabins out of sticks, with moss for carpet, surrounding a tiny black cookstove….the 14 year old with long braids who wore calico dresses and pinafores made by mother (and then nicknamed "Laura" from Little House on the Prairie, by family)

I've always viewed life and my surroundings with a sense of wonder.

In this photo, my older sister has always teased the caption should read,
"Do we have to keep her!"

Eternally ridiculously happy.

I always had a pocketbook and a hat…even when it wasn't Easter Sunday…

I haven't always been understood by others, so I am especially grateful for my husband who embraces my "vision."
I am a hopeless romantic, and he loves that about me.
And I still love a pretty bonnet…

Last April, on a visit to an old cemetery in Round Top, Texas, I was taken by the beauty of the Bluebonnets and the stone walls and ancient head stones.  
My eyes fell upon the headstone of an infant. 

The date was the very date of our visit, there…April 9th. 
I was amazed.
I wanted to know what it meant…why this "coincidence"
And then I felt a peace wash over me.
I believe God was impressing upon me .."I'm here. I'm in this. This path you're on, sharing your stories, sharing your heart…It's the right path."

I had lost a child, an infant.

She was born on February 26, 1985 and died 12 hours later, on February 27, 1985.
We had named her Rachel Rose.

I felt a mother's grief, looking down at that tiny grave in Round Top, Texas.

My dearest friend Kim and I had taught together 20 years ago.

and our friendship remains steadfast…

She had lost her oldest sibling, her brother Matt, in a small plane accident on April 9, 1987. 
He was only 22. 
I had not been aware of the date, until we were having a conversation several months ago, when I was discussing illustrations I was creating for my book in progress…an illustration of a headstone with that very date.
She was still grieving the loss of her mother, who had died February 26, 2015…
on what would have been my Rachel's 30th birthday.

Friday is the 26th.  She and her family will mourn. I will grieve with her…
and I will remember my infant girl…

But I will also find the joy in this day. 
I will see the wonder in the release of a brand new book..

a book that celebrates what it is to find a place of rest when you're weary..

a book that hopefully helps little girls (and grown up little girls) embrace who they were created to be..
...a book that celebrates the dream and vision of a woman named Rachel.

I'm not always happy that God doesn't show me the whole big picture all at once, 
(for there are times I'm happy that I don't have to know!)
but I am certainly grateful that He loves me enough to bring it all together for good…
reassuring me along the way, impressing upon me... 
"I'm here. I'm in this. You're on the right path."

So, for every February 26th, I will celebrate, and I will find comfort, and I will remember…
God is good. All.The.Time.

And then there was snow...

School is closed.
They say there will be snow.
Little girlie is so very hopeful. She is going to build that snowman.
A hat and "nittens" …socks and boots…
She's ready.

She sings a happy tune
and inspects the snow she's scraped and collected in her pink "nitten"

She moves on to the birdbath filled with frozen water and scrapes and pokes and sings...

until her cheeks are rose-y and her little hands are cold from the little wet gloves.
And she decides she'll come in for just a little while …until she can warm up.
The fire is cozy,
and she is still….

There is just not enough snow, and she cannot understand why her Little School was cancelled.
She loves The Little School…and her teachers…and her best friends…

Errands need running…
for there's a new book to be scanned and sent to the designer/formatter.

Lunch follows errands, and we're back home again.

The following day is cold, and there is talk of another snow day, tomorrow,
so we build a fire…

and we read a good book…and get inspired..
and there's paper doll cutting and dress making and hair creating and much coloring...

Oh, and a fresh batch of oatmeal, chocolate chip, walnut cookies sounds good..

The day ends, and we whisper prayers for snow.
We sleep.
And when we awake, there IS snow….glorious, perfect snow.

She and Big Daddy can't get outside fast enough.
He snaps photos and sends them to me...
(Extreme temperatures wreak havoc for this old girl)

And I look out the window, seeing her rose-y cheeks and bright blue eyes dancing.
She has built her snow man (errrr…snow woman…) and has learned to make and throw snowballs…

More building…

He messages more photos…and I edit…
It's a winter wonderland, in our very own yard…

She has come back inside, and Big Daddy makes a run to the grocery store.
She looks out the front window and ponders the next adventure…
"Wow! Dare's a hoe wot out diss way:"

Meanwhile, I walk to the window in the dining room…
Oh, this view!

…and then looking through the front window of the living room…

I walk out onto the back porch, in my sock feet, because this little Storybook Studio of mine
is just too sweet, all covered in snow…

Big Daddy is home, and out she goes, again…
and I tell her to stay inside the fence…do not go out the gate..

"Dare's so much snow out dare…I'm juss gonna weach under dare." 
(Because the snow is always whiter on the other side:)

I step onto the front porch just as she's packing a fresh snow ball
(new skills must be practiced)
and she says, "I'm gonna frwoe a snowbaw atchoo!"

It is terribly cold, and reluctantly she concedes to Grammy's imploring and comes inside.
A nice hot bath is awfully enticing.
With fresh, warm jammies and a great, old quilt,
fort-building will commence..

furniture is re-arranged..

another try..

…and another…

at last…there's an entry…and she dives in…
"Dis is amazing! I might add more fun-ness!" 
(love her little made-up words)

More tweaking…more chairs and stools and books…

It's a bit of an obstacle course, as she makes her way up and over…

and as I watch her…and listen to her chattering,
her positive affirmations…

I realize she is exemplifying true determination.
She is a study in perseverance.
Every time the quilt slid off the stool or chair or ottoman…she pulled it up again…
over and over and over.
encouraging herself, singing, giggling…
She had a vision, and in her little mind, it was going to be amazing.
She didn't get frustrated and she didn't give up.
I was taking mental notes…and photos…
so I would remember.
I need to remember.

And before bedtime, she planned a tea party.
She dictated invitations to her Big Daddy, and he transcribed them.
She folded and wrapped them in pretty red washi tape with little white doilies.
Very Tea Party-ish.
She announced it would be a celebration for girls and mommies…
and if a boy came, it would be alright.

Are you big girls taking notes? 

I snapped this last photo, as I was folding up and tucking away my crocheting project.
What a day.
What a very long, action packed, filled to the rim with goodness, gorgeous and glorious day.
A record-breaking snow, made for a record-breaking day.

Stay warm and safe and cozy, all of you enduring this winter blast of snow and ice.
* * * * * * * *
A pre-order feature has been added to my Etsy shop, so if you are interested,
you may pre-order Eliza Visits The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, my 13th book.
This photo shows where the link is, on my blog, here…

click on that link and then look for the pre-order listing….
which will look like this…

Click on that listing, and it will take you to this…

Click "Add to Cart"

I am so excited to see this project come to life in book form, and get them in the mail to YOU!
Thank you, again,  for your continued patience and support.
The finish line is in sight!

Eliza Visits The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, is heading to the presses….

On a perfect day in April, of last year, I met a shy, British lady. 

and she met Eliza…

Eliza found a haven…a place of rest…

There had been a celebration…

and the doors opened to a new adventure.

 The tale has been told, and it is time…

The pages and pages of text and illustrations will be scanned and sent to the formatter.. and then on to printing/publishing. 

I cannot believe this project is complete…Finally …complete.

Thank you for your patience and support and love.
I hope you'll enjoy this book, my largest, so far…
67 pages and 8.5" x 11.5"
Hard Cover.

Blessings, friends.

A Morning Walk in December

The sun is shining, and after a morning filled with cleaning out little girl's dresser drawers and messy baby doll feedings and washing dishes and doing laundry…we decide it is time for a walk…some fresh air…and a big dose of  Vitamin D.
She pulls out the dolly stroller she received for her birthday, dresses Baby Alive (she's calling her Lucy, this week) and tucks her in, covering her with the love-y blankie that was intended for the new grand baby… and we're off…

We are walking at a snail's pace. We stop so she can adjust the canopy…so she can see baby… she pushes buggy with one hand, trying to hold my hand with the other.. it's too wobbly…buggy veers off and bumps the curb… we walk further and further, until I suggest we turn around. Noooo…she insists.

Finally, I must make an executive decision…turn around, we must.

She concedes.

"Awww, wook at dose pretty drawings!"  They are the spray painted markings of future construction, but she thinks someone was awfully clever.

She begins to grow weary of the walk, and she pushes with great effort…leaning forward and giving all she has….until she sees the arbor of ivy….and she's intrigued.  "Iss dis good for us? Iss it good for our nose?" (as she begins to sniff) I reply, "It's good for our eyes…to see something so beautiful."
Her curiosity compels us to stop and investigate. Her questions are thoughtful. Aren't growing things supposed to be good for us?  Yes, each growing thing, in its very own way, is good for us.

We press on.

The sunshine pours over her face as she slips the hood away from her head.
It feels so very good…and she hums.
And then she adds words to her little made-up tune.

Then she stops, in front of that white picket fence,  and declares she cannot push the buggy stroller one more step. "I'm soooo tired!" she exclaims.

I commence pushing, and she determines she can run all the way to the stop sign.
(Yes, just like that. Renewed energy.)

….and I 5'10" frame bent over, guiding the tiny buggy towards her.
Passers by, smiling and waving… They understand.

We look in all directions,  and I lift and cradle buggy, baby, and all..reach for her little hand, and we walk the last little bit to our home.
Once we reach the front gate, she takes over…making her way to the front porch …navigating through the sea of leaves collecting, there, and on into our "cozy widdle cottage."

We agree, baby is worn out from her walk and ready for nap time, so she wheels her to her "nursery" and puts her to bed.

I drop into the wicker rocker and recall….

When I was a young mommy, I remember reading a poem.  It described a grandmother walking with her grandchild….taking time to watch a bug crawl, or a caterpillar …can't remember which.  The gist of it was that grandmothers weren't in such a hurry. They had time, and they were patient…and they didn't mind stopping to notice all those seemingly insignificant things.

And now, my babies are all grown.  That time went by, too fast. I was in such a hurry ..always in a hurry.

So I walk with this little girl…and we stop and look at the ivy…and all it's veins and shades…and ponder if it's good for us… and I think, slow down just a little bit, Time.  And I pray for more patience to allow her to see all the things she needs to see.
Give me just a little bit longer for her to cling to my leg and reach for my hand, as we cross the street.

The bag is filled to the top, with clothes she can no longer wear. She cried as one favorite outfit after another was folded and placed inside. These were her friends, in her little mind.
But then she saw the outfits and dresses and nightgowns and hats and gloves that remained.
And she loved that there was order, once again.
We chose a drawer to place her most favorite little dresses, that neither of us had the heart to part with. And she felt glad to know the other favored things would be going to her two little girlie cousins.
She said goodbye to her sparkly shoes and the tiny dolly stroller, too….as she loves her brand new big dolly stroller.

Cold weather is on its way…and Christmas…and gatherings and busy-ness….but for today, it was wonderful to slow down a bit, and basque in the warmth of the sun.



A blanket for baby...

The fragrance of the fresh frazier fir fills the cottage.
Twinkle lights and decorations bring a flood of memories.
Little girl gazes.

A tree of Rosemary for girlie…
and ornaments a'plenty…
She adorns with abandon... no such thing as too many.

I work the wooden crochet hook through the softest worsted cotton…
and stitch a felt cottage door ornament…
What joy there is in the making of keepsakes for grandchildren.

There are molasses sugar cookies to make…
and spoons to lick…
and the smells are intoxicating and the bites are savored.

There is mommy Jenny…with a growing tummy.…
and daddy Matt, with his arm 'round my shoulder..
She ponders…and we wait.

The blanket is finished…
and the cottage is draped in frazier fir garlands and wreaths
…and my heart is full of Thanksgiving.


The Secret is Out!

When the news was shared, I was sworn to secrecy.
So even though I was unable to tell…it didn't keep my hands from going to work.
It was so difficult, not being able to share why I was in a total knitting/crocheting frenzy.

My oldest son Matthew and my daughter-in-love Jenny are completely over the moon, and they've waited to make their announcement until she arrived at the end of her first trimester…which is today.

We had grieved the loss of her first pregnancy, the day after Father's Day, in June. The pain was indescribable, and the tears were many, hence, the waiting…to see the flicker of a heartbeat before it could even be heard…and then at last, to hear that sound…that glorious whooshing beating sound.
This time, the tears flowed, as the joy was overwhelming.

This precious little one is due to make his/her arrival on Mother's Day 2016…and my Grammy's heart is full! 

(Just a side note…when I read that Susan Branch's sequel, Isle of Dreams, was due for release on the same day…well…could it get any more difficult to keep my lips sealed??)

So I've been knitting and crocheting and knitting some more… tiny soft wash cloths, tiny soft love-y blankies, and larger soft blankies… as if the baby will be here tomorrow. And that I couldn't share the reason I was posting so many photos of these "works in progress"…such frustration!

Now you can know that the soft green blankie/love-y, is not for a dolly, after all… and the tiny soft pink washcloth for Sophia was made so she wouldn't feel left out… and the larger worsted cotton blanket-in-the-making is actually for wrapping new baby.  I have acquired a length of soft blush silk ribbon from Silk & Willow,  in case it's a girl, and if we find out it's a boy, I will acquire the softest shade of brown. The washcloth in all the soft Peter Rabbit colors will suit either a boy or a girl.

This will be the first great-grandchild for my parents, from their first grandchild, my first child.

Jenny's dad resides in heaven, along with her precious Granny, she loved so very much (her mother's mother)…so her heart is heavy.

But today, we rejoice. And we have hope. And God is faithful.

We appreciate and covet your prayers through their journey into parenthood.

And just in case you, too, have a little one on the way,  you'll enjoy Alicia Paulson 's blog and webstore for all sorts of wonderful projects, including the beautiful pattern "Tiramisu Baby Blanket."
I will post photos when it's completed!

Blessings, friends….

Pumpkin Patch, Pumpkinfest, Pumpkin Carving, Pumpkin Packages...

Life is moving faster than I can keep up.

So much traveling.

So much to do….A book to finish…

One little girl growing up before our eyes.

So I stop this morning, mid-coffee…and decide I must jump in … it is long overdue.

There is a flood (I mean…a FLOOD) of photos… since I last posted. Will I ever catch up?

There will be news to share…soon…as I've been sworn to secrecy…but until then…

A visit to the Pumpkin Patch at Gentry's Farm with Sophia's school mates was the MOST fun! I don't know when I've seen her so excited. Fall, was her Grammy Nancy's favorite…and it is her Aunt Tia's favorite…and  so it must be in her, deep in her gene pool, that this time of year has her completely beside herself with joy.

A Book Signing during Pumpkinfest in our little town of Franklin, Tennessee, was the very most fun ..

for me …with the most precious children all dressed up…and dancing to the music of the band on stage just down from us, there at Landmark Booksellers…and the cast of Wizard of Oz, showing up (making me wish for a pink dress of tulle and a lovely crown)

AND for little darling girl….meeting Cookie Monster and Ariel …jumping on a trampoline with bungee cords…posing alongside Mr. Pumpkin Man…running  to me …out of breath…it was all so "a'citing!"

She came home from school on Wednesday…after having had Halloween festivities (dressed as Ariel)

and decided it was time.  She went out the front door to the porch, retrieved her pumpkin (from the Patch)

…proceeded to roll it into the living room..

through the dining room..

.. and into the kitchen.


It was to be carved.

Right now.

So we did.

I mean...I did..

She dug out "aw da goo."

It was messy, and slimy.

She said the pumpkin was a girl…and it needed a smile…no snaggle teeth…just a smile.

She wanted us to refer to her favored book of the season.

How we love Pumpkin Moonshine.

"It needs a candle," she decides.

All the lights are turned off so we can see its glow.

She doesn't want it to go outside, at least not until Halloween.

A Package arrives, from our friend who lives faraway in Florida…"Auntie Bewinda"…and she is over the moon! (The full moon, that is)

Such treats and prizes ...and those teeth! I took the photo AFTER we figured out how to get them on the correct way. She had them in her mouth…sideways…it was hysterical! Now, she thinks she's quite scary….like on Max and Ruby… and I had to put on my most scared face, while muffling the chuckles.

Eliza the Mouse receives a Package, as well, from dear friend Lori Hibbard…Autumnal Treasures to decorate one Mousie's Cottage Door.

October was gone before it could even get going…

And it seems that's how life will be, if I don't stop and make note of it.

I look back at my posts about our grandson, Xavier.

It was just yesterday, he was my only little one. Our whole world.

Time marches on…into the falling leaves…under the full moon…and another month will be upon us.

The holidays, just around the corner…more festivities and festivals and fun.

Slow down, just a little bit, my friends….and savor each day.

Autumnal blessings….


Story, Indiana…a road trip

They traveled in a case…in a tiny traveling case. Eliza the Mouse and Talula Kate Duckling.

Their chaperones, Grammy and Big Daddy, are taking them on an adventure.

Through the big city, into the country, and through another big city…

….across a large bridge…

 …and past old buildings and old schools…

…and through two states, into a third….Indiana.

There are tiny white farm houses and aqua blue skies…and there is corn…

fields and fields of corn...

The car turns off the busy highway and onto a smaller highway…

then another turn, and they are on a winding road, making their way

through the shade of the woods...

Oh, how wonderful to ride and ride and see such beauty…

feel such peace…

to travel back in time to a place called Story…

Story, Indiana

The car slowly approaches the STOP sign, and pauses for a moment.

Before them, lies the quaint little town.

A general store, with its old gas pumps..

 and old bicycles with flowers growing in their baskets …

…and murals painted on the walls…

A little house upon the hill where the town's doctor once lived...

A wheelbarrow filled with flowers..

and an herb garden …

and surprise lilies…everywhere…

Finally, Eliza and Talula Kate can stretch their mousie feet and duckling wings 

and take a look around….

The house is so cozy with its Victorian sofa and low rocker…

 and low chair…

its wood floors painted gray…

and bay window with lace curtains…

An old parlor stove stands guard in front of the mantle, 

and a wooden clock hangs above…

 …and how Eliza wishes once again, Grammy had remembered one tiny cast iron tub…

very much like the one in this cozy little cottage...

Grammy feels right at home, enjoying the afternoon sun streaming through the bay window's lace curtains…

Talula Kate Duckling wonders why Eliza has packed the tiny case with every tiny shawl…

…and every tiny hat…2 tiny baskets…2 tiny flower crowns... and 2 tiny soaps…

(Alas, it is Duckling's first adventure…and she has much to learn)

She has even brought her tiny phone! 

Talula gives it a try.

It surely does not work, for they are off in another world, it seems…

off in a story book world, where time stands still.

No television, no phones, no computers…

just the hum of the air conditioner ..

and the quiet chirping of the birds.

And in the shade of the old walnut trees, the heat of the summer

must relinquish its hold..

The little toy mouse and her dear duckling friend decide the shawls are not needed.

They each choose a pretty crown

with trailing fabric ties.

Talula's will be darling with the soft pink of the ribbon 'round her neck,

and the tiny blue flowers of Eliza's tiny crown are her favored shade…

that heavenly hue...

The fragrance of their soaps …honey and lemongrass…leave them feeling refreshed

after such a long journey.

It is time, now, to make their way to the restaurant...

and Grammy loves the old school desks greeting her at the entrance …

 Dinner in the old General Store of the Story Inn is quite wonderful..

and they enjoy the charm of the old stained glass windows...

and an old buggy suspended from the old ceiling…

The evening comes to a close. 

They make their way back to the coziness of the cottage,

and fall fast, fast asleep.

The next morning,

coffee is served with a hearty breakfast.

 They are on their way, once again…

traveling on to a second destination

where the adventure will continue…

And they will pass more fields of corn…

and tractors…

'neath aqua skies..

Come along for the rest of the journey.

Stay tuned…