Haunted Dollhouse

Get ready, it’s almost here!

Check out this haunted dollhouse.


Trick or Treat!  We’re waiting for you…


My friend (to your right) dieted a little too much this year.


Candy anyone?

head on shoulders 2

Yes, I’m talking to you little girl.


Please don’t step on the flowers!



Pick a room and spend the night with us.


How about a little treat?


Have you been “Booed?”  This is fun!  Our daughter and her family were “Booed” for the first time last year.  This involves making up gift bags, placing them at the doors of friends/neighbors with a note attached, ringing the doorbell and running! There are lots of fun things for Halloween already on sale, be creative and conjure up some fun.  You can use candy, but we preferred not to use edibles. My grandson and I packed little bags with Halloween projects for three families in his neighborhood.  When it started to get dark, he did the running and we strolled along behind him.

For details go to http://www.beenbooed.com/ for details.

Woohoo…….what fun.



This is a great time of year to tell stories and read.

Hot cider, donuts, a big fuzzy blanket, and a good book are the ingredients for the perfect Halloween potion.

digitalbookcoverupdated (2)EASmokeandMirrors Front Cover (3)-page-001




Fun Summer Read

This is the first time I have blogged about an adult book but I wanted to pass on an entertaining read that won’t depress you, address social issues, vampires or history we can’t change.  The book is called Pistol Fanny’s, Hank and Dililah, by Annie Rose Welch.  At first glance I thought it was a western and not for me…never judge a book by it’s cover!  I ventured into the first chapter which was okay, but then the second chapter showed the true creativity of this author.  I was hooked and hope you will be too.  I don’t do spoilers, but the following blurb will at least give you an idea about the story.  This is an entertaining book perfect for the beach or the pool.  Don’t forget the sunblock!


Never fall in love with a bank robber.

Especially if she’s the one who robbed your bank, took you hostage, and dumped you unconscious at the local convenience store. And definitely not if you are the assistant district attorney of Tupelo, Mississippi.

This is the advice Hank Huckleberry Rivers would have given himself, back when he was a man who vowed to always walk on the right side of the law. The same law that had seemed sacrosanct ever since the day he and his friends watched as two men were murdered right below their tree house.

 Falling in love with a dangerous criminal can have life-altering consequences, though. And when the past and the present meet head-on, Hank finds himself in more trouble than he ever bargained for. He must run to save his life, daring to find answers to the questions threatening his safety and his heart, as the killer below the tree house comes after Hank—and his pistol-wielding bank robber.

It’s a simple case of love in the first degree.

Wimberley, Texas may be “A Little Bit of Heaven” but that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable

to a gang of beautiful outlaws.

wimberly sign


About the Author

annrose3 bio pix

Born and raised in New Orleans, Annie has a habit of shortening her words and telling long stories. She speaks with a southern flair and cooks with it too. At the tender age of twenty- one, she hitched up her wagons (took her first plane ride) and moved out west to the big shake (California). Her writing career began one sleepless night when she imagined a gorgeous woman and a man with maniacal hair floating above her like lightening bugs falling from the sky. Curious about them, their story, and why they were floating around in her head, she sat down and penned (typed) her first novel, Marigny Street. A dream

come true for her, she hasn’t stopped writing since. She loves a damn good love story, always has, no matter what the genre. She is particularly moved by imperfect love that in its own unique way is perfect, the notion of love at first sight, soul mates, and things that are generally out of the norm. When she’s not writing she enjoys dabbling in photography and finding new, inspirational music to add to her collection. Deciding on a whim to hitch up those same wagons, Annie currently resides in Texas (where everything is bigger) with her husband, daughter, and their two peculiar dogs, Boudreaux and Tabasco (who, call her crazy, bark with an accent).

For lagniappe (a little extra), a virtual cup of café au lait and beignets, please visit Annie’s website: http://www.annierosewelch.com

She can also be found on Facebook & Twitter.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnieRoseWelch Twitter: https://twitter.com/angelwriter11

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7159582.Annie_Rose_Welch Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Annie-Rose-Welch/e/B00DQSYDTM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1



Tales of Tails

IMG_1093The lazy, hazy days of summer have caught up with me!  All I feel like doing is reading.  A perfect day for me is one spent under the pergola with a good book and listening to the hummingbirds buzz around my head.

I pulled out another one of my favorite childrens’ books, Brambly Hedge, Summer Story, by Jill Barklem.  If you have never experienced her books, I highly recommend you run right out and get one – OR – let your fingers do the shopping on the internet.


Ms. Barklem is a British author and illustrator with incredible talent.  As a child she suffered an eye injury that prevented her from having an active life so she turned to art and books.  Her stories are about the Brambly Hedge mice who live in the bucolic world of the English countryside.  When reading you forget the characters are mice and feel like you are a member of their community.  The mice are too charming for words and the illustrations exquisite.

As much as I love her stories, I find myself spending more time studying her drawings.  The detail draws you in like a seek and find game.  I’ve tried to show some of her work here, but for better pictures google her.


You can purchase her books individually, but I particularly like, The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge.  This book includes her four seasons books, as well as a conversation with the artist and studies of her art in progress.


If you’re into sewing or crafts, you will enjoy The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book, which includes patterns and instructions for making the mice.  I’m considering making my dollhouse a mouse house…hmmm, do I really need another project?


I wonder how Emerson would feel about living with a few mice in her house?


Share these wonderful books with the ones you love!



Don’t forget to encourage your middle-graders to read the Emerson’s Attic Series.

digitalbookcoverupdated (2)EASmokeandMirrors Front Cover (3)-page-001

Please visit the Blue Velvet book trailer.  Copy and paste into your browser:   https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jf_AkD1nG2g

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the trailer and the books.


Kids in the Kitchen

I don’t know about you, but I change my recipes for the seasons like I change the clothes in my closet.  Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to think about easy, fun recipes.
Thinking about this reminded me of the time our daughters, then in junior high school, made Peanut Butter Tandy Cake.  Call it what you will Tastycakes, Tandy Kake or Kandy Kake…my recipe calls it Peanut Butter Tandy Cake.   Yes, they are just like the ones you buy at the store.  I didn’t know there was a controversy over the name, to me, they always were and always will be Tandy Cakes (see the tweet below explaining the name change).


At any rate, when I got home…from wherever…the girls were upset because they had done something wrong and the end product was not like it was when I made the recipe.  It only took one look at the baking sheet to realize they had forgotten to add the baking powder.  However, in my opinion, they made it better.  Their Tandy Cake was EXACTLY like the original except cut into squares instead of the traditional round shape.  Without the baking powder the cake layer stayed low like the Tandy Cakes we all know and love.

tandy kakeThis picture shows the recipe with the baking powder.

Without the baking powder they are about half this high.

Peanut Butter Tandy Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease or use baking spray to coat the bottom of a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan (pan must have sides).

Cake Ingredients

2 c flour

2 c sugar

1/2 c oil

1 c milk

4 slightly beaten eggs

2 t melted butter

2 t baking powder

1 t vanilla

Mix ingredients together and pour on the well-greased 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.

Peanut Butter Topping

While cake is baking, mix together:

3/4 c smooth peanut butter

1/2 stick melted butter

3/4 to 1 c powdered sugar

When cake tests done, remove from oven and immediately spread peanut butter topping

over the entire top of the cake while it is still hot.

Place in refrigerator or freezer until the peanut butter has hardened.

Chocolate Icing

When cake is cold, melt two 8-ounce Hershey bars in a double boiler on top of the stove.

Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer and return cake to the refrigerator until chocolate is set.

Before serving bring the cake to room temperature and cut into 2-inch square.

Enjoy, with or without the baking powder!

Is It a Tandy Kake or a Kandy Kake?


That’s Tandy Kake to you, sir

We knew there was a reason we were following Tastykake’s Twitter feed! Today they’ve revealed the answer to a mystery that’s been nagging us for YEARS. Why did they change the name of our beloved chocolate-covered peanut butter mini-cakes from Tandy Kakes to Kandy Kakes? Honestly, we’ve had arguments with people about this very subject, people who refused to believe they were ever called Tandy Kakes. People who made us question the validity of our own childhood lunchbox memories! Today, Tasty Baking Company solved the mystery in 140 characters (or less).

Via Twitter:

“Tandy Kakes were changed to “Kandy Kakes” to avoid confusion with the Tandy Candy Co. during the 1970s.”

Thank you, Tastyake, for making us feel whole again! We don’t know who this Tandy Candy Company is (or was, since we can’t find them via a google search), but we are going back to calling them Tandy Kakes, just because we can.

If anyone else has any burning Krimpet or Koffee Kake questions, they will be answering them via Twitter: @TastyBakingCo.




Don’t forget your summer reading list!

SVA seriesWeaver Tale Cover - CopyBAS Books INSPIRED 2015 (2)digitalbookcoverupdated (2)EASmokeandMirrors Front Cover (3)-page-001

Build Your Own Library


I first learned about roadside libraries from a cousin who sent me a few pictures and hooked my curiosity.  What a wonderful example of being neighborly!  The premise is simple, build or buy a weather-proof box, erect it close to the sidewalk or road in front of your home, and fill it with books.  TA-DA…you now have your own free library.  Post a sign telling passersby to take a book and leave a book.  Don’t fret if a few books go missing without replacements, just remember you made someone’s day a little better.library2Since the first one in Hudson, Wisconsin, the simple, yet profound idea of sharing books via these little structures has spread across the U.S., Mexico, Canada,and Europe.  The Little Free Library goal is to build more libraries than Andrew Carnegie, who built 2,510.  That goal shouldn’t be hard to reach considering how many of us love to read and love to share.


This truly is the perfect project for the entire family.  Now’s the time to plan and build your library so that it’s ready for summer.  How big, what color, where to put it?  Fancy smancy or plain Jane, it doesn’t matter.  Let everyone help.  Go wild and crazy with your design and be sure to let the kids help.

phone box library

This old British phone booth has to be the ultimate roadside library.

These pictures evoke memories of warm summer days under a shady tree reading, talking to neighbors over the back fence and

riding a bike aimlessly along a country road.

blog photos

Wouldn’t it be fun to mark each book with it’s original location?




How thoughtful to add a chair for a weary traveler.







Be sure to check with your municipality or zoning board to be sure you’re allowed to erect such a structure.

Here are a couple sites you might like to check out:

littlefreelibrary.com and shareable.net

Send me pictures (emersonsattic@gmail.com) of your library and I’ll post them on my blog and FaceBook.

Happy Reading!

Bedtime Stories

The best time of the day for me has always been bedtime.  Snuggling up with a child to read a bedtime story is my idea of fun. Whether you like the old classics or a new contemporary story, there is no limit of books to choose from as the sun goes down and the child settles in your lap for a story.

IMG_0803On one of his nightly reads, our grandson introduced me to the 5 Minute Stories by Marvel.  Super heroes are new to me, but a 5-minute story sounded like a great way to get through a topic I’m not particularly fond of.  However, children are not stupid…it takes three 5-minute reads to equal the regular 15-minute read.  You know what that means, two more stories about super heroes.  No problem, I don’t read super heroes that often and IMG_0800it’s worth it to spend more time with a little boy who would rather have “Pap” reading to him.






One down, one to go.  Goodie, a princess story next.  Wrong, she wants super heroes too.  What am I missing here?  When do we go into the princess phase?  Not soon enough for me.  Oh well, what are grandmother’s for?

I love the concept of the 5-minute read so I wanted to introduce them to you.  However, when I went to take pictures of the books, I found myself on the bedroom floor surrounded by piles of books that I love.  Wait, there are too many wonderful books!  I can’t just talk about two.  An hour later, I had finally narrowed my selection down to a few favorites and felt bad about the larger pile that didn’t make the cut.   Note to self:  Blog on bedtime stories more often.

The little bedroom library runs the gamut of topics, silly, funny, scary, and serious.  Did you notice, there is no “pretty” mentioned…hmm.

A Mama for Owen is one of our favorites because of it’s sweet story and beautiful art.  Truly a lovely story and the kids love the animals.IMG_0807

Another favorite is The Pout Pout Fish with it’s tongue-twisting rhythm that gives me practice for reading in public.

If I can get through The Pout Pout Fish without a stumble, then I’m in good form.IMG_0808


Maybe A Bear Ate It! and Interrupting Chicken are great fun.  Interrupting Chicken is the perfect read if you have a little person who is constantly in need of your attention when you’re trying to carry on a conversation with another adult.  Check it out, it could be one of the best purchases you ever made.


For me, you can’t beat The Velveteen Rabbit.  This well-worn and well-loved classic will never go out of style.

Find it and cherish it.

Finally, come the books that I believe mean more to grandparents than to kids, the recordable books.   Hallmark hit it out of the park with these.  We bought every one available for Christmas and birthday gifts so that our grandchildren would hear our voices after we’re gone.  These books are true keepsakes.  When our daughter told me she could hear our voices coming from other rooms when the 2-year-old opened a recordable books, it brought tears to my eyes.  The best gift a grandparent can receive is knowing their grandchild knew enough to open a book to hear their voice.


In my heart, I hope Emerson’s Attic hits a favorite list somewhere out there.

digitalbookcoverupdated (2)EASmokeandMirrors Front Cover (3)-page-001

Once Upon A time

When I think of fairy tales I think…once upon a time…however, this one started with “Tucked in a lush valley between two snow-capped mountains was the village of The Tales.”  I love fairy tales but never did I think I would meet the author of one.  In reading The Weaver by Kai Strand, iKai - windowt only took a few pages to realize I was being pulled into a real, live, fairy tale.  Kai’s writing is truly reminiscent of the greats.  Her style flows easily, the characters are likable and there’s a valuable message for finding one’s destiny.  The Weaver is a delightful story containing all the elements of a good fairy tale; a sweet little girl trying to achieve what she feels is an unreachable goal, a clever little blue creature, and mother as magical as any fairy Godmother.

Weaver Tale Cover - Copy





The first thing that caught my eye about Kai was her first name.  I guessed wrong, it does not mean sea in this case.  Here’s how she explained the meaning to me.  “My name has a funny story behind it. It’s my middle name. Pronounced like the letter, K. My mom wanted to spell it Kai saying that was the Swedish way (her heritage.) My dad said that was weird. So she spelled it Kae (really, not much LESS weird, but whatever.) I’ve always spelled it Kai because I liked the weirdness. So when I was rooting around for a pen name, I thought, “Oh, duh!” So I googled Kai Strand and got a lot of Swedish men. <–Maybe my mom would have known that if Google existed when I was born. Oh well, again, I like the weirdness of being the only female Swedish (decent) Kai Strand, too.

Kai’s volume of work is daunting.  She didn’t stop with children’s books, but kept moving up the years to young adult.  Follow along with me as I get to know Kai better.

Q:  Tell us a little about yourself.

A:  Thanks for having me, Kathleen. First and foremost, I’m a wife and the mother of four. I’ve been telling stories my entire life, but I’ve been a published author for just over four years. I write middle grade and young adult and just had my tenth title published. Publication day is still as thrilling as the first time around! Personally, I’m addicted to pizza and—thank goodness—I’m a compulsive walker (allows me to load up on the pizza). Handling raw meat and running into a scorpion gives me the willies. I’m a Mozart fangirl and have been caught wandering the aisles in the grocery store singing his Requiem. In Latin. Aloud.

Q:  When did you start writing and why?

A:  It was between the release of books 4 & 5 in the Harry Potter series. My daughter and I had plowed through the first four books during the summer. When the kids went back to school, I was left alone with my Hogwarts withdrawals. It was then I decided to entertain myself by creating a world of my very own. That book, though not my first published book, later became Beware of the White.

Q:  Where’s your favorite place to write?

A:  It varies depending on the kind of atmosphere I need. I mostly write at home in the quiet while my children are at school, but sometimes I need noise or activity around me so I go to a coffee shop or the library. Then other times I just need to be out of the house, so I’ll go to a park and write next to the river or staring at the Cascade Mountains.

Q:  When I read The Weaver I felt a definite classic fairy tale quality to your work. What made you decide to write in this style?

A:  I’m so glad you did. Not all of my books have that feel, but all The Weaver Tales do. The Weaver came about when I was poking around my head for a writing idea. I was staring at the website for my critique group and thought to myself, I’m so glad we don’t all live in the same town. I’d feel completely inferior if I lived with all these talented storytellers. Oh, my – there’s an idea for a book. Since I’d decided to set the story in a village of storytellers, it felt natural to add the old world, fairy tale feel.

Q:  You successfully write for the middle-grade readers and young adult readers, which came first and do you have a preference?

A:  Writing for middle grade came first. I added young adult simply because an idea that was better suited to teenaged characters struck me. I think my preference is whatever I’m writing at the time. I love writing for tweens because it’s such a formative time of life. Kids are truly discovering who they are and books can help shape them, teach them, open their minds to new possibilities, let them know they aren’t alone. Writing for young adults is fun because there is no limit on what subject, content, even the language I use. Though I don’t like to write inappropriate behavior or speech, I like that I can if the story requires it. Plus people who read YA are very passionate about their books and become truly invested in the characters.

Q:  What are your goals in writing?

A:  Writing is my profession, so my goals are mostly attached to my livelihood. Be able to earn enough to assist with mortgage and utilities, buy an occasional mocha and attend a movie now and again. In five years maybe even have more disposable income to go on a ‘research’ trip. Otherwise, I hope my writing impacts readers intellectually by making them stop and think, and/or emotionally with a character’s journey living within them on some level.

Q:  What is your favorite thing about writing? What do you like the least?

A:  Any and all contact with readers is the most rewarding thing for me. I love classroom visits where I have good conversations with students about books. I love signing events where I get to meet my readers. I love reader email and when they stop by my Facebook page to say how much they enjoyed a book or how excited they are for an upcoming release.

Least of all…editing. Ugh! Especially between the second draft and when I get to work with a critique partner or editor. Those passes when I’m alone in the story again and again is never as exciting as the first draft (LOVE the creation phase), it is all very tedious for me.

Q:  Who are your favorite authors and why?

A:  Maggie Stiefvater – for her beautiful use of the English language.

Jonathan Stroud – for his humor.

Cassandra Clare – for her compelling story lines.

Q:  Describe an average day for Kai Strand?

A:  It’s frightfully boring. Promotion, exercise, writing, cooking, reading or television. Nothing glamorous.

Q:  What do you like to do in your spare time?

A:  That’s a little more fun! Central Oregon is a beautiful place and we have tons of BLM lands and great trail systems, rivers, and lakes to enjoy the beauty from. So I spend a lot of time outside.

Q:  Where do you go from here?

A:  My next book is a young adult speculative fiction and the final book in my Super Villain Academy series. It’s scheduled for release in June. I’m really excited for that series to be complete. Unlike the Weaver Tales, which are each stand alone stories set in the same fictional village of The Tales, SVA is a trilogy with an over arcing storyline that you have to read in order and comes to an exciting conclusion in Super Bad (SVA#3).


SVA series


Kai’s books are available on Amazon.com

Drop by Kai’s blog at Strand of Thought to learn more.  Very clever use of your last name Kai!

Please leave comments by clicking on “comment” under the date upper left of the blog.

digitalbookcoverupdated (2)EASmokeandMirrors Front Cover (3)-page-001

Visit me at http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com

Previous Older Entries