Come On In and Set a Spell

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Welcome! Or, Welcome Back! as the case may be. 🙂

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Book Review: The Mangle Street Murders

The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I found this book via Audible.com’s Plus Catalog.

I would never classify this as a ‘cozy’ mystery as neither the characters nor the plot fits into that category. Both March & Grice are complicated characters and each has their own collections of secrets that might eventually be revealed during the course of the series. Grice is particularly antagonistic and off-putting.

While I have been through the book several times, it is frustrating to find a through-thread to deal with the mystery(ies). That Grice’s reaction and response to the twists and turns are predominantly negative and potential fodder for red herrings only adds to the frustration. March comes across as both knowledgeable and a twit. Her “I don’t understand!” quickly got old.

As for the comparison to Holmes and Watson, Holmes was rarely mean-spirited and Watson was never both clueless and wise.

All that being said, it is an interesting work if only to find some sort of resolution to the plot. Will I continue with the series? No idea.



View all my reviews

A Change of Pace

Or, a shift in media can make a huge difference.

I’m one of those people who grew up listening to the radio. Which, when you consider where I lived at the time, was a feat in itself. Way back in the mid to late 1970s living in Northwest Arkansas, getting signals for TV or radio was an iffy proposition. And that was before all the build-up that would impede them even more than before, not to mention waaaaaay before that thing called ‘cable’.
I was lucky to be able to get the CBS radio affiliate out of Chicago, which meant that I was able to listen to the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” when it began. Awesome!
It also meant that we had 3 – yes, three – TV stations: CBS, ABC, and NBC. PBS was on the UHF band and not so easily acquired.
Radio was an interesting collection of a variety of music genres, some occasionally off the wall commentary (think ‘Bob and Ray’) and the occasional treasure of Old Time Radio shows. I have a vivid memory of sitting down to a Sunday lunch while listening to an episode of “Fibber McGee and Molly” coupled with an episode of “Jack Benny” that was broadcast from somewhere in Kansas.
I still listen to the radio. Today, however, my tastes seem to run more toward vintage radio shows or quieter easy listening stations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed American OTR, but when I discovered Pumpkin FM from the UK, I found a huge variety of material that I’d never heard of before combined with a few things that had come to our shores via PBS and the Britcoms they carried.
For example, I’ve recently come across the British version of what we know of as “Three’s Company” and “Sanford and Son”. Both series were developed from the UK shows.
I’m also dipping my toe back into the world of Podcasts. A few years back I listened to a great one that focused on quilting. Another favorite was a limited series that focused on the history of food via the spice trade. Fascinating!

What are you listening to?

Finding Treasure

Cleaning Out The Fridge

I’m preparing my shopping list for my next grocery order and found a few things that I could use up to make space.

I had a couple of cups of cooked chicken, a cup or two of cooked rice, some mixed vegetables and a can of cream of whatever soup.

Now, looking at that collection from one direction, it has ‘casserole’ written all over it. Changing perspectives, however, and there is ‘pot pie’ or ‘chicken and dumplings’ or ‘noodles’ or ‘biscuits’.

Treasure!

Combining all the base ingredients along with pepper and seasoned salt resulted in a rich, satisfying soup that is thick and flavorful. Adding anything is really just gilding the lily.

Want the recipe? Sign up for the newsletter. It, and other recipes, will be in February’s Magic Pantry attachment.

A Tale of Two Design Aesthetics

If you’ve been around here for long you know I love beautiful design. I’m also the person an interior designer friend said was a designer’s dream because “You like everything.”

Not exactly, but close. LOL!

I love homes that are comfortable, cozy, and well-loved, and lived in. I have no interest in clean, pristine, dust wouldn’t settle on anything, picture-perfect, no warmth to save your life productions that often appear as the New In Thing.

There are a lot of interior designers around these days. Some are professionals who showcase their talents using the Internet and some are amateurs who strive to make their homes more than they started. A few stand out because they reach beyond the current fad. Here are two of my very favorites.

You can find both of these ladies on YouTube and Instagram. They are well worth the effort.

Hermione Chantal

I’ve been following Hermione Chantal for quite a while. I think I first encountered her when she purchased her very first home; a late 1800’s to early 1900 row house on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. Watching her take what was a disaster and turn it into a lovely home has been quite a journey.

The house has been transformed into a warm, cozy space with soft colors and thoughtful details using thrift finds, DIY projects, and an evolution of style. It is an interesting mixture of old and new and Hermione isn’t afraid to change her mind and try new things. She has stated that her intention with the house was not to keep it long-term which explains and informs some of her choices.

Farmhouse Vernacular

Paige and Brandon over at Farmhouse Vernacular are a young couple who have purchased their second home with an eye to it being their Forever Home. They found an old farmstead that needed work and started in.

Their home was built around 1905 and over the years has withstood a lot of … life. Check out the tour of the home when they bought it and you’ll get a good idea of what they were in for.

The intention of the sympathetic renovation is to make all the rooms as beautiful and multi-functional as possible without changing the footprint of the home, even though there has had to be some adjustment inside to accommodate things like bathrooms and storage.

This home is a working farm home. That it is also beautiful is the icing on the cupcake.

Paige talks a lot about the house speaking to her and I have to say I believe her. The choices made, be it colors, furniture, whatever, make the home so much lovelier than what was there when they moved in.

What I take away from these two aesthetics is the opportunity to get out of the box and create homes you are comfortable living in. Show homes may be beautiful but many lack any real warmth and that sense of the home being loved and well cared for.

Let me know what you think. Do you have a preference?

Trying Something New

Or “Never Have I Ever”

A while back I caught the weekly live crafter show that Maymay Made It puts out on YouTube. This was a bit different from the usual papercrafting projects as she was trying a totally new craft for her. Check it out:

I have to applaud Maymay for not only stepping outside her comfort zone but for doing it live. I also have to chuckle at her reaction. 🙂

There is a great benefit to stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new. It doesn’t even matter if the end project is “perfect” or not. And, really, “perfect” is really in the eye of the beholder. How many parents look lovingly at a project one of their offspring created and thought it belonged in a museum when the rest of us weren’t quite so convinced?

A few years ago adult coloring books were all the rage. Honestly, I get it. I’ve owned a set of Crayons for decades – bought new long after I left college. The simplicity of sitting with color and paper and just making marks on the page can be relaxing and therapeutic.

The same could be said for cutting fabric into small pieces and then sewing them into other shapes. Papercrafting is another example of pretty much the same thing, but using glue instead of thread.

The truth is we need a bit of time and space away from all The Stuff of Adulting to reclaim our inner child. To reclaim ourselves.

If you end up creating something for someone else, even better.

Never underestimate the power of play in all its forms and varieties.

Knives Out!

I finally sat down to catch up (!) with my Watchlist and saw “Knives Out!”.

Boy! Was that a good choice!

If you are looking for a well-paced mystery with lots of twists and turns, this is it. If you love a great cast with a solid script and some seriously good production values, this is it.

Nothing is quite what it seems and the finale is quite… Yeah! LOL!

Vintage Game Shows: What’s My Line?

What’s My Line?” is basically a version of Twenty Questions relating to occupations. The show ran from 1950 to 1967 on CBS in the United States and had a collection of panelists from a variety of entertainment and media fields who were very skilled at the game.

Over the years a wide variety of contestants visited the show, but the Mystery Guest, a celebrity, always added excitement and fun.

There is a YouTube channel dedicated to the show and Buzzr tends to run it on its schedule.

Check it out:

Vintage Game Shows: Just A Minute

I first heard “Just A Minute” on Pumpkin FM as part of their daily line up of vintage radio shows from the U.K. I was fascinated from the first listen!

The game is really simple. There are only three rules: The contestant must speak to a topic provided by the host for one minute without

  • Hesitation
  • Deviation
  • Repetition

If a challenge is submitted by other players, the challenge might be accepted. If so, the challenger takes on the topic for the remaining time.

Simple, right?

LOL!

This game is one that could be played by pretty much any age group as the variety of topics is endless.

Check It Out