March 31, 2013

He Is Risen!


Each year I put out my wooden cross during Lent. 
 On Easter morning, I add flowers from my yard to make it into a Living Cross!

Living Cross

 Bluebells grow wild in Ireland according to Next-Door Maggie


March 26, 2013

Phantom of the Opera Party

My friend, Bonnie Shivley, of Missouri, is a contributing editor to She recently threw a fabulous Phantom of the Opera theme party for her friends. I got the invitation but was unable to attend, so I missed a wonderful evening. Here is how she did it.
Bonnie writes:
There was snow and ice that night and only seven of my original fourteen guests were able to make it. I knew each of these women has had things particularly hard lately, and my goal was an evening to forget about our troubles and get lost in romance and feminine kinship. I am happy to report, I have achieved this. Sometimes we get so caught up in our stresses for so long, we forget how important it is to let go and have a little simple fun.  The Bible says that laughter is the best medicine.
I went for a pajama party instead of period costumes. One reason was I knew more than half of my guests do not possess costumes, homemade or otherwise. I didn’t want them to have to spend money to attend my party. Also, we were, after all, just lounging around the living room watching a movie. I wanted all to feel completely comfortable and relaxed. Thirdly, it helped to stress this was a GIRLS' NIGHT only. No guys were allowed to spoil the mood. Guys just don't "get it." As it turned out, only a few of us actually wore jammies. It was so cold, some were afraid if they had an accident on the icy roads... Well, they didn't want to be stranded in pajamas in the bitter cold. Can't say I blame them one bit! After I passed around pillows and cuddly blankies, we were all pretty comfortable, whether in jammies or jeans.
dim lighting during viewing adds to the romance

I wish I knew how to explain the feelings that night. We experienced everything from awe and wonder, to tears and to laughter. Comments after viewing the movie, Phantom of the Opera, starring Gerard Butler, ranged from sophisticated to panting over the two male leads. There were giggles and sighs, and I tried to fill in info the movie leaves out, but the original book by Gaston Leroux explains. I got a lot of, "Oh, I’ve always wondered about that!" from the gals who have seen it before, and a lot of questions from the gals who haven't. I encouraged them all to read the novel then watch the movie again. You get so much more out of it that way. Also, every time I watch it, I discover something new.

I wanted to show the girls what a "theme" party is supposed to be and that even the food can follow a theme. I think they all thought I was being a bit eccentric, until they got here and saw the results. The ambiance was truly magical, as I watched the faces, ages 16 to 70, as well as a 7 and a 10-year-old, take in the wonder around them. We all had a common bond that night, so you would never know there were any age differences at all.

My granddaughter and great niece really got into the spirit of the evening. I gave them long white gloves, fans and masquerade masks, and they dug through the dress-up box to find some old prom dresses which completed their costumes for the evening.
The Mood:
I wanted a dramatic mood for the evening. To that end, I placed dark red roses against black table coverings. A single rose with a ring tied to the stem by black ribbon, just like the rose the phantom left on Christine's headstone was placed here and there and seemed better than overdoing it with too many. But then, in out-of-the-way areas, I overflowed vases with roses to mimic the flowers showered upon the performers in the opera. Crystal serving dishes and candle holders against the black and silver tulle fabric lent the contrast necessary to create a feeling of drama. I created a secondary mood of romance with dimmed lighting and candle light. The house lights never came up until the movie ended and we were ready to hold the drawing for the prizes. The hushed mood of wonder was broken and changed immediately to one of partying and loud chattering and laughter. I owe much of this to my daughter, Jessi, who has theater experience and was able to coach me on how to capture my guests' imaginations and create the atmosphere I wanted.
a single rose on black and silver
a gathering of roses
The Decorations:
The black ribbon was on sale at Wal-Mart. The popcorn box and the costume engagement ring were also on sale at Party Outlet. Fans came from Oriental Trading Company, on sale, with free shipping. All candles, candle holders, glitter and glitter garlands were purchased at the Dollar Store, as well as the mirrors under them. The masks and gloves were deeply discounted after Halloween. The pearls are from my own jewelry box, so cost is zero. The table cloth is black plastic from Party Outlet. It’s reusable, as is the tulle covering, which was purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby. The black and red cloth coverings for the entertainment center, end tables, and gift bar are pieces of cloth I already had. I recycle all that I possibly can. The serving dishes on the table that look like fancy crystal and silverware are really just disposable plastic from the Dollar Store and grocery store, respectively. They are heavy enough that I will use them again. It's amazing the great prices you can get when you know exactly what you are looking for, and hold out for after-holiday-sales. If you plan your theme party months in advance, you can take advantage of so many great opportunities! I could have made some of these things by hand, like the fans and masks, but at the prices I found, it was not only easier, but more cost efficient to buy them.
mask, cucumbers and olives
candles on mirrors, roses and more roses

white gloves, pearls, fans, sparkle

mask, candles, silver napkins and silverware
The Gift Bar:
Each guest went home with a movie theater gift bag full of goodies, a long stemmed rose with the ring tied to the stem with black ribbon, and a hand held fan. All the goodies were trinkets bought at the dollar store, or on sale at the local Walgreens. I tried to stay with the theme of love when purchasing the trinkets. All gift roses were purchased on sale from the local Mays Drug after Valentine Day. All other roses were purchased in bunches at the dollar store. The two little girls each received a larger popcorn bag filled with love themed and/or dress-up themed items.
fans, champagne glasses, popcorn boxes on red with silver dazzle

I also held a drawing after the movie. Each adult guest had written her name on the back of a ticket. I printed my own tickets using clip art on my computer, and put them in a large popcorn bag. The little girls drew the names of the winners. There were 3 wrapped gifts, and the winners chose their own gift. Prizes included a Phantom movie DVD, on sale in Wal-Mart's bargain bin for $5.00, a movie sound track CD, on sale at, and a copy of the book, also on sale at
The Buffet Table:
Our menu included Apple Cashew Salad, Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes, Sugar and Spice Nuts, Croissant Sandwiches with assorted meats, cheeses, and a yummy Hawaiian sandwich spread, Cucumber Open Face Sandwiches, Veggie & Fruit Plates with Dips, and assorted cookies, including Ginger Snaps. I read these cookies, in particular, were quite authentic to parties of that time period, Paris, 1869.  Oh yes, and I threw a few relishes out there, too. I served sparkling apple cider that looked, to all the world, like bubbly champagne. The champagne flutes are disposable plastic, and were purchased at the grocery store.
By far, the biggest hits were three dishes from Jane Marie’s own web site, They included Apple Cashew Salad
(, ALWAYS a big hit, and I ALWAYS get requests for the recipe, Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes ( ), stuffed with bacon, green onion and mayo, and a Goodbye Lie favorite, Sugar and Spice Nuts ( ). Oh my! They all loved those wonderful pecans!
As my friends departed, without exception, each person said to me, "I so very much needed a night like this!" And each wants to know when I will do it again. Hmm... The ideas are already flowing!


March 24, 2013

Railroad Days

Railroad Road Days has become an annual event in Callahan, Florida.  Callahan is about 30 miles southwest of Fernandina Beach in north Florida. We have seen this festival grow over the years since my husband, Bruce, rode in their parade when he was mayor of Fernandina. Well, I met John Hendricks, a fellow writer, at a book signing and since he's the head of Railroad Days, he was kind enough to ask me to sign books in the Callahan depot during the event.  The rain came but not until after they held their parade.  Many of the vendors exited by 2 pm.  The musicians did not. The tunes were still playing when we left.  I met a lot of lovely people and took a close look at their railroad and other Callahan artifacts in the depot. If you're in the area next year around this time, stop by Callahan and enjoy Railroad Days and may the weather cooperate!

Callahan depot
John Hendricks in the bowler with other reenactors

kids' entertainment area

inside depot, in the days of segregation,
whites' ticket window on left, blacks' ticket window on right 

Joy, a new friend from the Callahan Historical Society

                            Product Details

John Hendrick's Following the Tracks of Daniel Callahan (hardcover) 

March 23, 2013

Bunnies 4 Babies

American Legion Riders Post 54 collected tons of baby supplies for their Bunnies 4 Babies Dice Run Challenge today.  Later, they had a Best Looking Bunny contest and my husband, Bruce, a former Marine, was a proud entrant.  Although he came in 3rd, talk was he should be given a Profiles in Courage award for his efforts. You be the judge...

Meet the Bunny Fairy (note tip of green wing over his/her right shoulder).

March 17, 2013


I wanted to show you what a real shillelagh looks like.  See mine below.  My father and brother brought back this 18 inch shillelagh aka club from Ireland, so it's the real deal! My research says it's probably blackthorn or oak. All I know is it's very hard and you could clobber somebody pretty well and be the one left standing.  Take a listen to the famous song, It's the Same Old Shillelagh, by Bing Crosby at:  
You'll be tappin' your toes afore ya know it! 
Happy St. Patrick's Day, one and all!

March 10, 2013

Engrave Your Brick

Fernandina Beach, Florida -  American Legion Post 54 is selling engraved bricks for the new Veterans' Memorial Park located next to Central Park on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and South 11th St.  For a tax deductible donation of $50, you can honor  someone special with an inscription of 3 lines with 13 characters and spaces max per line. You can get a lot of info in those three lines. Each red brick is 4" x 8". 

I got one in memory of my father, Pearl Harbor,  US Navy, WWII and my uncle, North Africa, US Army, WWII.  I also got one for my brother-in-law, US Navy.  My brick will read:

We wanted American Legion Chaplain but that is far more than the 13 letters and spaces allowed so we settled for LGN Chaplain.  Folks might not get our abbreviation for Legion, but they'll understand the Chaplain part.
The best thing about these bricks, next to them being laid as the walkway around our veterans' memorial, is that anyone from anywhere can buy a brick. You don't have to be a veteran or from Fernandina.  Grandparents for grandkids, commemoration of a wedding, a honeymoon here, an anniversary, your business, your pet's birthday, whatever you want your brick to read, is up to you.
Make your check out to Veterans' Memorial Park.   In the memo line, please write: Engraved Brick.
Drop off your check for $50 per brick or mail it with the printed inscription, again 3 lines of 13 letters and spaces max that you want to:
Veterans' Memorial Park
c/o American Legion Post 54
626 South 3rd St.
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
No cash, please, and no credit cards.
Please support our veterans.  They have and will continue to support all of us!
For God and country,
Bruce Malcolm (Jane Marie's husband)

March 7, 2013

Y & R Fans

I confess I have been watching The Young and the Restless since it stated, so that makes me a loyal fan.  I thought all the other die hard fans out there might not have a chance to see the wedding invitation Nicki and Victor sent to guests.  They showed a quick shot of it and I was unable to read it until I went back and paused the frame.  Here is what it said, in ALL CAPS and with their spacing.






Will you be there?  I sure will, if only to see what wedding gown Nicki will be wearing this go around with Victor!

But wait, Nikki just fainted!  Will the wedding be postponed?


Yes, they postponed the wedding, but we got to see the invite all their guests got.  Just one more service provided by your ever-gracious and very wacked Jane Marie.

Hugs and blisses!

March 5, 2013

What is Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow?

Tangles, tears and terror combine to form an undertow so powerful, your heart will race, beat for beat, with Carolena Dunnigan's, the brilliant, bright and bold heroine.

First, watch Amelia Island's VELVET UNDERTOW VIDEO at

Next, read the Synopsis:

An interior designer for Aqua Verdi Passenger Line based on Amelia Island, Florida in 1889, Carolena Dunnigan is witness to something so disillusioning, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina seeking work. There her life takes a mad twirl with that of a world famous conductor and an interfering ship's engineer. Decades of secrets seep forth as she chases the truth, which drives her into the horrific Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood. Will Carolena have the strength, courage and luck to survive or die hating everyone and everything that tore apart her carefree Amelia Island life?

Meet Clara Barton, of the American Red Cross, instrumental in saving lives during the Johnstown Flood. Revisit beloved characters like Peeper, with her elixir fixers, and Aunt Noreen, whose tongue is the beast that will not be tamed. The Terrible Threesome, all teenage boys, smear honey on a few front doors and hang dead snakes in the trees, but is that so very bad? Paolo Alontti, Grey McKenna, and Peachie Pence mix it up into a shocking knot of lies, loves, and lessons. Oh, and watch for cameo appearances throughout the series from  Martha Bear, stuffed mascot and spokes-bear for, the author's 700 page website.
Now read an Excerpt: 

"I wish you'd develop a splash of patience!"
Ignoring her, Grey brushed past, instantly recognizing he'd interrupted something. His confirmation was her ruddy face and puffy lips. It was a blessed good thing he'd come along when he had. "Patience? I've been freezing outside, waiting for your highness like some lap dog. When you say five o'clock, I damn well expect you to be downstairs waiting for me at five o'clock. I sure don't have to ask what you've been up to. And where is this man who tempts you so much, you're willing to debase yourself at his mere beckoning?"
Carolena looked to the velvet pillows now crushed on the floor. Wadded in the corner was the blue dress. There was little sense denying it. Then again, who was he to tell her what was proper? He'd bedded hundreds of women, she was sure, so he had no room to talk. Remaining calm, lest her feeling of guilt show, she told him, "Signor Alontti is attending to business. He sends his regards."
"Yeah? I'll just bet he does. Come on. Let's get the hell out of this lair before I find your lover and lay him out!"

Whether you are new to the series or you have read The Goodbye Lie, you will discover the books stand alone. Each is an experience in suspense, treachery and deceit doing fierce battle with family bonds and honor.
Get your copy HERE:
Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow Kindle Edition $3.99
Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow NOOK Buy As Gift: $3.43
You have to get it and read it to read it and get it! Get what? Get to know the Dunnigans of Amelia Island where roses and romance reign, plus so much more...    

March 1, 2013

Year of Living Graciously - March

Make use of what you have. Example: Lost a pierced earring back?  Slice off a thin "round" of pencil eraser and use that for the backing.