Haunted Dollhouse

Get ready, it’s almost here!

Check out this haunted dollhouse.

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Trick or Treat!  We’re waiting for you…

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

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Candy anyone?

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Yes, I’m talking to you little girl.

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Please don’t step on the flowers!

 

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Pick a room and spend the night with us.

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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.

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BOO!!!

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.

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Tea for Two…or more

     IMG_1139At the top of my list of favorite things is having tea with friends either at home or at a tearoom.

No matter season, time or place, there’s nothing like a warm cup of tea and a good friend to feed your soul.

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I first fell in love with having tea in storybooks and then was bitten by the bug over 25 years ago when I was a volunteer tour guide at Baker Mansion in Altoona, PA, and fund raising chair for the Blair County Historical Society.  Although I planned and enjoyed many different events, a series of summer tea parties was my favorite.  With no kitchen facilities we had to transport everything we needed, including fine china and silverware, to the mansion and then lug all the dirty dishes home.   It was an ordeal but well worth it.

Our adult teas included full tea service and an entertaining program.  My favorite of the season was a children’s tea served on the front lawn of the mansion with covered chairs and pastel tablecloths.  The menu was especially fun including cookie cutter sandwiches, gummy fish swimming in Jello, and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.  The tables were decorated with antique soda fountain glasses with floral arrangements provided by the Blair County Garden Club.  Guests were serenaded by 13-year-old, harpest Rachel Eardley.  At 13 she already played like an expert.  I remember looking down the long, half acre lawn to see a daddy holding his little girl’s hand as they approached.  I nearly broke my leg running down the hill to meet him because I was thrilled to see a daddy escorting his little girl to tea.  He was the only dad there that day.  We concluded the event with a magician and sent everyone home with full tummies and smiles on their sweet faces.Bell wedding dress

Built in 1844 by iron master Elias Baker the mansion is open for tours and special events.  Reputed to be haunted, the mansion boasts the wedding dress of Anna Bell, of Bellwood, PA, that supposedly moves while enclosed in an airtight case.  I spent many an hour sitting in that room, but the dress never honored me with even a slight tap of a wedding slipper.

I make it a habit to visit every tearoom I can find, among my favorites is Tilly Mint’s in Souderton, PA (northwest of Philadelphia, Buck’s County) which is as English as you can get.  Although modest in terms of decor, Tilly Mint’s stands out with exceptional service and the most varied and delectable treats I have personally experienced.

Owner, Trish, British expat is happy to share stories of her homeland and tea with her mother who gave her the nickname of Tilly Mint.  Patrons and owner alike correspond with family and friends in England.  Trish proudly displays pictures of the newest Royals, George and Charlotte, that were sent to her personally by Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
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An especially unique experience was having tea at Meadowbrook Farm, the estate of the late J. Liddon Pennock, Jr, (1913-2003) a renowned Philadlphia florist and landscape designer.  Mr. Pennock is best known for providing the florals for the Trisha Nixon wedding at the White House.  The estate is now maintained by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society who welcome visitors for tours of the house and grounds.  The big surprise for us was a retail nursery on site.  The house is English Cotswold dMeadowbrook-image-garden-loweresign with the original furnishings still in place.

Our tea was served in a beautiful garden room by Chef Brenda Board, whOliver-and-Company-Tea-Room-3-640x426o at that time was catering teas in historical buildings in and around Philly.  We were not only impressed by our surroundings (after finally getting there because we got lost) but by the wealth of knowledge Chef Board had to share.  Did you know there is such a thing as a tea sommelier?  After completing culinary school, Chef Board returned to school to study tea.  She made me dizzy with what I didn’t know about tea.  Brenda presented an exceptional gourmet tea of a unique combination of sandwiches and desserts.  When in the Philly area, try to spend an afternoon enjoying this beautiful estate.

twinings3     If you are a Jersey Shore fan you must visit the Twinings Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom on the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May.  You can dine outdoors on the tented patio or in the original horse stalls.  I know, that sounds unsanitary but there is no evidence horses ever lived there.  The carriage house is full of character and so unique it looks like an architect’s idea of the perfect carriage house with glossy wood and iron fittings rather than the over 100 year old building that it is.  A member of the Twining family personally visited from England and guided the opening of the tearoom nearly 20 years ago and it continues in popularity with wonderful teas and culinary treats.twinings 4

You’ll have trouble leaving the carriage house withtwiningsout making a purchase in the gift shop…but it’s Cape May and we all need a little token of our visit.

Cape May has boasted the top five restaurants in New Jersey for years and now they can claim the Carriage House Tearoom as one more jewel in their crown. This beautiful little town is the perfect destination to celebrate special occasions.  Stay in one of the many B&B’s, take a horse and carriage tour through the town, and be sure to stop for tea at the Carriage House.  Don’t forget to tour the Emlen Physick house while you’re there, I promise it’s worth your time.

 

 

I consider myseltea merchantf very lucky to have several fine tearooms within driving distance. Tea Merchant 101 located in Duncansville, PA, is a more contemporary tea room with literally over 100 teas to chose from.  Owner, Joe Doyle, offers a light tea on the premises or you can purchase any of his teas to savor at home.  Joe also offers tea accessories and gift baskets.

 

         If you are a lover of all things Victorian, then Bell Mansion Tearbellmansion3oom, in Bellwood, PA, is the tearoom for you.  Owned and operated by Pamela and George Wertman this is definitely the place for tea for two or special events such as showers and birthday parties.

     George’s chicken salad is the best!!!  Their tea selection is vast and worth trying a different tea each time you visit.IMG_20140329_143246

     The Wertmans were kind enough to host a launch party for my first book, Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.  We had a wonderful time with the mothers and daughters who attended.  Pamela encourages her guests to wear one of her fancy hats and chose their own teapots.  In addition to hostess extraordinaire, Pamela is a talented pianist and surprised me by playing the theme from Somewhere In Time at the event.  Her music was so incredible I had trouble holding back the tears.IMG_20140329_145507

     The Wertmans now offer Bed and Breakfast accommodations on the second floor of the mansion. Keep this in mind when you have too many guests and not enough bedrooms.bellmansion2

     If you don’t have a local tea room where you can buy interesting teas, then I suggest looking for Twinings and Stash brands.  If you cannot find them in your local store, go online.  I love all the different flavors, but am an Earl Gray lover at heart.  Time and time again I chose Lady Gray or Earl Blue.

     There are several things I am an obnoxious snob about, one of them is scones.  Many times I have been told that scones can only be made one way…of course that being the favorite of the speaker.  Well, I’m here to tell you after a month in England and several weeks in Ireland, there is absolutely NOT only one way to make scones.  Every town I visited had a different type of scone.  They run the gamut of rolled and cut, dropped, or in a round cut in wedges, sweet and savory in every flavor you can dream up.  The most surprising thing to me was the best scone I had was on the Virgin Atlantic plane on the way home…go figure, probably commercially made and frozen.  Who cares, it was delicious.

     Many Americans say they don’t like scones.  Yes, they can tend to be a bit dry sometimes and not very flavorful.  I personally think the problem is we Americans don’t do it right.  Scones are meant to be pared with clotted cream, butter, lemon curd and/or preserves.  The terms clotted and curd seem to scare Americans…okay, call it Devonshire cream and lemon pudding. Don’t let a term ruin a new experience.

    After literally years and dozens of recipes I finally found the scone recipe I like best and even my husband (one of those scone haters) likes.  I share it with you below, but I encourage you to test as many recipes as you can until you find your favorite.

My Favorite Scones

2-1/3 c all-purpose flour

3 T brown sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 c butter

3/4 c dried fruit of your choice

2-3 T grated orange peel.

8 oz sour cream

1 egg yolk, beaten (save the white for brushing tops)

1 T water

1 T coarse sugar

     Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender (I use a food processor because it’s much faster) cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add dried fruit and orange zest and toss until mixed. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.

     In a small bowl combine sour cream and egg yolk, add all at once to the well in the flour mixture.  Using a fork, stir just until moistened.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Quickly knead by gently folding and pressing dough until smooth. Divide dough into two equal parts and shape into 8-inch rounds approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Cut each round into six wedges.  Place wedges one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush tops with a mixture of egg white and 1 T water.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

     Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from baking sheet and cool or serve warm.

Mommies and grandmothers, take your favorite little girls to tea or have a tea party at home.

You’ll be starting a new tradition you will all enjoy.

Last but not least…here’s a special little craft project for tea lovers.

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Resolution

So, it’s the New Year and for many the time to make a New Year’s “resolution.”  I don’t remember ever making a New Year’s Resolution and now that I think about it, I’m not sure what that says about me.  I know I’ve paid attention to others who take a deep breath every year, tighten their boot strings, and declare openly what it is they want to achieve in the upcoming year. Hopefully, no one remembers their resolution because studies say most people fail by the end of January.

Wanting to make sure I understood the word “resolution,” I looked it up.  There are many definitions, but here’s the one I thought was easiest to understand and most relevant to this discussion.  “A firm decision to do or not do something.”  That being said, I resolve not to make a New Year’s resolution again this year.  However, if I were to make a New Year’s resolution it would be to work on my dollhouse more often; but, since I don’t want to fail in 30 days, I’m not making that resolution.

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Ah ha, since I just about deleted the last paragraph I have come up with a resolution I seriously need to make and that is, I will be more careful and remember to press “SAVE” more often.  There, that’s a pretty easy one, maybe I can actually stick with it!

 

 

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Emerson’s house, a work in progress.

I’d love to hear from you as to what your resolution is and how it’s going.  I hope you prove the studies wrong and are successful in your endeavor.  Belated happy New Year to one and all.

 

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http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com/

The Joy of Giving

I was preparing a donation of canned goods for the Boy Scouts’ Scouting for Food Project, when the same thoughts came to mind that come every time I do this.  Why are there hungry people in the greatest country on earth AND why do we participate more during the holidays?  Aren’t there hungry people the other eleven months of the year?  These questions really bother me so I did a little research, not that it helped, but you may be interested in what I found.

According to the National Philanthropic Trust statistics Americans give more money to charitable organizations every year topping out at 335.17 billion dollars in 2013 and expected to be even higher in 2014.  Of that grand sum…and that is grand, only 16.76 billion is corporate donations, the largest source of that total is 72% from individuals.  Does that surprise you?  It does me.  The most surprising statistic to me was that 95.4% of American households give to charity.  This stat shouldn’t surprise me because Americans are the kindest and most generous people in the world.  However, these numbers represent all types of giving and not just food for the hungry.  Giving in this amount is no minor feat in these hard times, and I applaud every single person who donates to the charity of their choice.

The US government spends 82.5 billion dollars on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).   Hello…that means that we individual citizens give 4 times more to charity than does the federal government.  Individual states have their own assistance programs, and it’s still not enough. Where does it go?  At record breaking dollar amounts how can we still have hungry children?

New organizations pop up every year in an effort to make life a little better for someone else.  Following are some things we’ve enjoyed and I hope you’ll find a niche that encourages you to join the millions of other Americans who continue to give of themselves.

Our oldest daughter and I have had a tradition of getting the wish list of children to shop for at Christmas time.  Most of the time the lists are for clothing or a special toy, but one year it was boots and shoes…does that tug at your heart or what?  This makes us sound nice, right?  Nay…we get more out of it than I’m sure the recipients do.  Shopping with my daughter is pure entertainment.  She knows everyone within a 3-county radius and inevitably we spend more time greeting her friends than on the task at hand.  When doubtful of a purchase we find a child (with the parents permission of course) of the appropriate age in the store to question as to whether we’re on the right track.  From there it’s off to the check-out line where again her effervescent personality attracts the attention of everyone around us and it turns into a party rather than the often grumpy line of people impatience with the speed of the cashier.

I love the mitten tree at church because, as you can imagine, it turns into a mitten, hat and scarf tree since everyone wants to provide matching sets.

Food collections, Secret Santas, Toys for Tots, and volunteer gift wrapping all supplement the ringing of the Salvation Army bell serenading shoppers in our malls, but why only during the holidays do we give that little extra?

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 Just a few of the 35 lapghans packaged and ready for delivery to a local nursing home.

Speaking of volunteers, you’ll really like this, 64.5 million adults volunteered a total of 7.9 billion hours of service worth an estimated value of 175 billion dollars.  The estimated dollar value is $22.55 per hour per person.  Is that amazing?  What charity could afford to pay people to do the work of those volunteers?   I can tell you, from personal experience, that without these volunteers our hospitals, libraries, and organizations like the American Red Cross could not survive.

From a very early age, my mother dragged me around to funding raising activities and charity dinners where I didn’t know a soul and I’m not sure she did, but we went, we cooked, we served, we cleaned up, and we went home exhausted.  I remember one spaghetti supper when I lifted the plates out from under the noses of two priests before they were finished eating.  Boy, I never heard the end of that one.  It must be hereditary because we still do the same thing in our home today.  Get those dishes done!

Here’s one I loved because I love winter; at a young age my brother and I were expected to shovel snow from the walks of neighbors for free.  The best part was seeing if we could get it done after dark and without them knowing.  We loved our secret and always wondered if the neighbors knew who did it.  Tell me your son or daughter wouldn’t hold their heads a little higher at school the next day.

Life seemed more innocent in those days.  Hand-me-down clothes to friends or taking a meal to an elderly neighbor were the norm.  You weren’t afraid to offer a stranger a lift on a cold day or someone shelter while they waited for a bus.

There are still good people today and here’s an example of a true story I heard on a talk radio program last year.  A man called in who had lost his job.  He has a family and lives in a depressed area where he didn’t know how long it would take to find a new job. Instead of waiting for the unemployment check and becoming a couch potato, he went hunting.  Lucky for him he lives in a state that does not have a limit or at least has a high limit on the number of deer one can take every year.  This man filled his freezer with venison so that his family would not go hungry.  Other people in his community were also losing their jobs so he filled their freezers as well.  As you would expect, the word got around and with the help of a few friends they fed over 40 families that year.  I have questioned for years why properly trained sportsmen are not allowed to fill food banks with venison or any type of game fit for human consumption.  Why is Congress still paying subsidies to farmers to not plant…yup, they just hide it better now.  Couldn’t the excess be provided to food banks or shipped to third world countries. And, this one will really kill you, we have a feral hog problem spreading rapidly in the United States.  I’ve researched this and talked to hunters and farmers and they all tell me, if done properly, the meat from these hogs is completely safe for humans.  If the story is good enough to be made into a TV show someone is making money from it.  Instead of bragging about how many hogs you killed, how about bragging about how many families you fed.  From what I understand, as fast as these hogs multiply, it would only take a few shipments to third world countries for them to multiply and feed the starving masses.  If you can afford to produce a TV show, you can afford to ship some hogs.  Of course, of course, I forgot about the bureaucratic red tape.

I’m a firm believer it is better to give than to receive, and this is the perfect time of year to start a new tradition with your family.  Begin by having your younger children clean out toys they no longer play with, wash them up, and give them to the Salvation Army.  Volunteer as a family at a food bank or a Ronald McDonald House once a month.  This is not a huge sacrifice, just a few hours spent with your family being kind to strangers.

It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness can make a difference in the life of a hungry person, a lonely person or a homeless person.  Everyone has something to give…kindness, love, caring. If you have a skill, share it, as those do who work all year long to donate afghans to the Warm Up America Project.  Trust me, volunteering, especially as a family, will bring you closer, teach your children empathy, and your hearts will burst with the joy of giving.

 

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This year’s donation of handmade afghans made by volunteers.

Quote of the Day:  “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl

There’s still time to enter my contest to win a free copy of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.

Keep sending those entries to the Readers’ Contest digitalbookcoverupdated (2)

Enter to win a free copy of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet. Place your name and mailing address in the comment section at the bottom of the page and hit submit. Ten lucky people will receive a copy of the book mailed to their home. Last day to enter will be Tuesday, December 9th. Winners’ names will be drawn on December 10th and announced in the following blog.  Don’t just enter because you like free things, upcoming contests will be based on questions from the book. If you don’t win you can still enter future contests by ordering your own copy from amazon.com and reading it.

SOLD:  The Rosedawn, advertised here in past blogs, has been sold and is making one lucky lady very happy.  I have left the pictures up on the previous blogs just so you can enjoy the beautiful house.  Send me pictures of your house to share with others!

Come visit me at: http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com

Turkey Talk…

The Flying Turkey

Yes, I know turkeys do fly, but not like this one.  A little background is needed to understand our flying turkey.  My dad was a tall man, 6 feet 4 inches, large boned, but never overweight.  While serving as a B29 gunner in the United States Air Force during World War II, because of his height, he often lifted propellers on and off planes from a scaffold like stand.  Being tall does have advantages but also disadvantages; the repeated strain resulted in a stomach injury which was repaired by removing most of his stomach.  Yes, today this would be comparable to stomach surgery for obesity…certainly nothing he ever needed.  Anyway, Dad was hungry all the time, ate frequently, and never gained an ounce.  With four kids and his insatiable appetite, he took over the majority of the cooking at home so there was always plenty to eat. He became a master on the charcoal grill and loved cooking for holidays.  To Dad, the word “holiday” equated BIG turkey dinner.  He refused to consider a turkey that weighed less than 25 pounds and thirty pounds was his preferred size…lots of leftovers.  Everything he cooked was done super-sized and leftovers were fine with us, except for the macaroni salad that he made in a large, electric roaster pan. Now this did get old and to this day I have to think twice when my husband requests it.  Dad’s was the best though!

Not only was my dad known for his large size, he was also known for his large Irish temper (he was born on Saint Patrick’s Day).  His temper was lightning fast and peppered with expletives which Mom abhorred.  We kids would walk around him cautiously for hours after an explosion until one day he asked what was wrong.  When explained, he was amazed that we were still upset because he had forgotten the incident almost immediately.

We lived in a large house with a back staircase that came down to a hallway at the back of the house. We used the back more than the front staircase because the hallway led from the kitchen to the laundry room and a small TV room.  One Thanksgiving I was walking from the TV room to the kitchen as Dad was checking the turkey in the oven.  Just as I got to the kitchen doorway he was pulling the oven rack, with the monstrous turkey in the pan, out of the oven.  In the blink of an eye, the turkey was out of the pan and sliding across the kitchen floor.  The kitchen was approximately 16 feet square and that bird slid the whole way across the kitchen and hit the opposite wall.  I froze waiting for the inevitable explosion from Dad.  To this day, I’m still surprised at his reaction.   Looking up from his bent position over the empty pan he said, “did you see that?”  He was as surprised as I was. He had overcompensated because of the size of the turkey and pulled the oven rack so hard the turkey took flight.

I don’t remember any further conversation. We flew into action, retrieved the turkey, washed it off, returned it to the oven, and then scrubbed the floor.  “Don’t tell anyone,” was his only admonishment.  Who was I to disagree because there was no where we were going to get another turkey in those days when all stores were closed on holidays. As the turkey cooked and the mouth-watering smell permeated the house the family and guests started to arrive.  I remember setting the long dining room table for dinner and wondering what anyone would say if they knew.  All through the meal people complimented Dad on his delicious turkey. He would graciously accept the compliment, then look at me and wink.  The dining room table seemed a mile long that day.  I don’t remember when we told Mom and my siblings, and I don’t know if they remember but I do.  It was the best Thanksgiving ever because it was our special secret.  No one got sick and we laughed about it for years. Moral of the story, be careful when checking the bird!

EASY PEAZY TURKEY PROJECT FOR KIDS

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When I was in second or third grade, can’t remember which, my Mom was our Brownie Troop Leader. I’m not really sure, but I think she took the job because no one else would.  Mom could sew, knit, and bake the best pies and cookies, but she was not really a crafter and you’ll see why. This is an easy project and I still love it, but at the time I questioned my mother’s sanity. She had us chew bubble gum and then use that in place of the clay I suggest here.

For each turkey you will need:

One round pine cone. Any size will do because turkeys come in all sizes.

One hunk of clay approximately the size of a large walnut. Color doesn’t matter.

One 12-inch, red chenille stem (pipe cleaner to those of us over 40, okay 50).

One or two paper cupcake liners. The larger the pine cone the more you need. Color doesn’t matter.

Directions: Roll the clay into a ball and then flatten slightly on a flat surface. This is the base to hold your turkey.

Shape the chenille stem into a circle and twist the ends together tightly. Pull the twisted ends in between the pedals at the larger end of the pine cone. Twist the circle tightly at the opposite side of the pine cone for what will be the turkey’s neck. Shape the remaining pipe cleaner to look like the head and wattle of a turkey. Now don’t get crazy this is not fine art, just do the best you can. Stick the pine cone into the clay.

Fold the cupcake liners in half and position them in the pine cone pedals at the opposite end from the turkey’s head for his tail feathers. If you like you can use crayons to color feathers on the cupcake papers, leave them blank, or write the names of your guests on the tails and use them as place markers on your Thanksgiving table. This is a crazy, old-fashioned, fun project but my grandchildren think the turkeys are the greatest!

Busy Mommy Tip: If your children are old enough to get toys out of the toy box or wherever you keep them, they’re old enough to put them away when they’re finished playing. Start good habits early. It makes life much easier in the long run.

Food For Thought: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl. I highly recommend this book for teens.

Keep sending those entries to the Readers’ Contest digitalbookcoverupdated (2)

Enter to win a free copy of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet. Place your name and mailing address in the comment section at the bottom of the page and submit it to me. Ten lucky people will receive a copy of the book mailed to their home. Last day to enter will be Tuesday, December 9th. Winners’ names will be drawn on December 10th and announced in the following blog. Don’t just enter because you like free things, upcoming contests will be based on questions from the book. If you don’t win you can still enter future contests by ordering your own copy from amazon.com and reading it.

Reminder:  Friday November 21st, I’m doing an author blog interview on the http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. Orchid does a great job reviewing books and her blog site is a feast for the eyes. Little play on the Thanksgiving theme there…feast…get it?  Book review blogs are great for finding appropriate reading for your entire family.

 House for Sale

The Rosedawn Plantation – designed and constructed by the Lawbre Company is a magnificent statement in the Antebellum Southern Classical Greek Revival tradition. The Rosedawn contains three floors with twelve rooms and measures 55″ Wide x 26″ Deep x 37″ High.  The Rosedawn is the ultimate in dollhouses and the perfect gift for daughter or granddaughter. Visit Lawbre.com to appreciate their craftsmanship.

The Rosedawn, completely electrified and all but one room meticulously decorated, is being offered for sale to the highest bidder (over the owner’s pre-determined minimum) with or without the existing furniture.  If you want a superior quality dollhouse and don’t have the time or interest in doing the detail work, this is the house for you.  If you are a miniature enthusiast you will recognize the quality of this house and an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

The house is located in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC  and is large and significantly heavy.  The successful bidder will be responsible for picking up the house or arranging for packing and shipping.  The original shipping crate is available.

Please send bids to me with your contact information and I will forward them to the owner for consideration.  Christmas is just around the corner…don’t delay.

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