Thursday, July 30, 2015


It has been HOT here since Monday, so needless to say I have not gone too far from home.  Monday and Tuesday I didn't leave the house at all, Wednesday I only ran to Petsmart and my local swimming pool store and today I only left home long enough to get my hair done.  The majority of the time was spent in the back yard by the pool!  This was the first heat wave we have had this Summer; up until now the weather has been seasonable, but the last few days it has been hot and humid.

So, armed with my iced sweet tea and my latest book I headed out to the pool.  I stumbled across a book by a "new-to-me-author" Ruth Moose.  DOING IT AT THE DIXIE DEW is the first of the Beth McKenzie Mysteries; and after reading a "blurb" about it last year I decided to give it a try, and I am so glad I did.

Beth McKenzie returns to her home town of Littleboro, NC after her beloved grandmother, Mama Alice has a tragic accident and later dies.  All Beth has left is her grandmother's beautiful, but deteriorating old Southern mansion.  So with the help of two dear friends she fixes up the old house and converts it to a b&b.  And despite all the nay-sayers Beth is optimistic and guest slowly arrive.  But when one of guest is found dead in her room and it turns out to be murder, and then a local Priest is found strangled with a silk teddy; Beth becomes a suspect. 
The setting is lovely and the characters "zany."  This is such a wonderful traditional mystery and yet a bit creepy.  THAT BY THE WAY IS NOT AN INSULT.  Beth finds unsettling notes, gets locked in a mausoleum, sees shadows, hears footsteps, is followed and is attacked in her own home; it really has a very spooky and creepy vibe, I LOVE IT.  And it is full of Southern charm.
I started it Monday and read it continually each day, I could not put it down.  It was such a fun read and I look forward to reading the next book.  For me it had the feel of a good old fashion mystery, and that is what kept me reading.  And I love Beth, she is strong, independent and resourceful.  And her dear friends Ida, Scott and Malinda are all likable.  And the writing is so colorful, I can visualize everything.  And with nice short chapters it is easy to get swept up.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Since we went away for an overnight Wednesday into Thursday, I chose to stay home Friday and relax in the back yard, read and sip some ice cold sweet tea.  And it was a beautiful day, just the right temperature and a nice mix of sun and clouds.  The pool water was refreshing and comfortable.  The book I was reading and finished was DIVA STEALS A CHOCOLATE KISS by Krista Davis from her Domestic Diva Mysteries. 

When I started this series I started it out of order with DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE, a Halloween theme mystery.  And since I thoroughly enjoyed it I quickly picked up the first four books in the series to catch up.  Although I prefer to start a series from the beginning, sometimes if I am not sure if the series is right for me I start with a Halloween or Fall theme mystery if one is available. 
In this story, Sophie, an event planner, is tasked with helping a local family owned candy company celebrate a milestone.  As always Krista adds interesting new characters that are integral to the plot but holds on to the regular characters.  And, Olde Town Alexandria plays an important part of the story, with all the running around the darkened streets and back alleys.  Olde Town is the type of city just right for a mystery.  Holidays and seasons also play a big part in the story, this being set in Summer.    What I really love is she always includes Sophie's Mochie and Daisey as well as other fur characters in every story. 
Like all of the books in this series it was hard to put down once I started reading.  She is great at ending the chapters with cliff hangers and the chapters are short so I keep reading "one more chapter" until (before I know it) I am half way through the book.  Krista is also good at creating multiple mysteries that intertwine and it always seems everyone has a story or secret.  There are always very viable multiple suspects and every time I thought I had it figured out I found another twist.  There were multiple murders, jilted lovers, missing people, family feuds and a whole lot of chocolate.
The relationship she creates among the regular characters seems genuine and the characters interact realistically.  Although I do have one complaint; Sophie, who is divorced from Mars (who is still a good friend) has had a relationship with Wolfe (a local detective and regular character.)  But now is in a relationship with an attorney, we met a few stories ago.  That is fine, but there is just too much "juvenile" jealousy and "pining" for my taste.  Although I don't remember if actual ages were ever reveled, my best guess they are in there early 40's.  I wish this kind of story line was toned down a bit.
But, a minor complaint aside, I love this series, it is smart and witty and has all the elements I need for a great mystery.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


We took a quick overnight getaway to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, Wednesday into Thursday, to attend a play at The Berkshire Theater Group.     We went to see DEATH TRAP by Ira Levin at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge.   

DEATH TRAP  is my favorite stage play, and I can remember, like yesterday, seeing the original at The Music Box Theater in 1979.  And when the movie with Michael Cain and Christopher Reeve was released in 1982 we rushed right out!  It is a smart, witty and suspenseful classic mystery; full of twists and turns.  This was the first time we have seen it on stage since the original and since it was in the Berkshires, which is only an hours drive, we seized the opportunity.

 And as luck would have it Marriott Hotels has finally opened the first hotel in Great Barrington, MA.  Yes, there are wonderful quaint inns, b&b's and motels, but I need the "guarantee" of a familiar branded hotel.  Marriott has several classes of hotels, but the standards are the same.  We had bad experiences staying at other hotels and for me; a bad stay can ruin a wonderful trip.  So, we make up the "local color" in other ways. 

We decided to make it an easy getaway, we left a bit later on Wednesday, checked in and headed right out to The Big Y in Great Barrington.  I love this New England grocery chain.  So after a quick stroll around the market and picking up a few treats to bring home, we headed to dinner.  Oh, I know what you are thinking, a supermarket; but I love to pick up different things to bring home and try.
For dinner we chose Four Brothers  right across the street from our hotel.  Again, another great local New England chain and we have one in Valatie in Columbia County.  It is a great casual restaurant with great food.

We enjoyed mesclun salad with balsamic dressing and fried goat cheese, from their own farm.  And a delicious personal pita pizza with fresh mozzarella, sausage and Kalamata olives.  And for desert a Coke Float. 
After dinner we headed back to the hotel for a quick refreshing jump in the pool before the show which started at 7:00 p.m.
The next morning after a light breakfast courtesy of the hotel we checked out and headed home.  We made a few quick stops first.  First at Home Sweet Home Donut Shoppe, a mom and pop donut shop that is the home of the Berkshire Bomb (a spiced muffin dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar.)
And right next door is Catherine's Chocolates   how convenient, right?
We continued to head back to New York and just before the boarder we stop in West Stockbridge    
for lunch.  We chose no. Six Depot for a quick light lunch in this wonderfully eclectic cafe.
My lunch was a skirt steak panini with chips and mesclun with a hibiscus iced tea.
After lunch we strolled around the village.  Lovely views of the Williams River and foot bridges.
A unique sculpture garden and park.
Quaint stores on brick covered side walks.
And historic building and Shaker Mill Pond Dam.
Homeward bound!  Even tho I know my girls are well cared for by their Pet Nanny I miss them and can never wait to get home to them.  We decided to detour to a local Chinese restaurant for some take out for later.  And although I love to get away I love getting home.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


On Friday we had some errands to run and decided to also head into Albany to check out The Plaza at 50 exhibit at the NYS Museum. 

And we wanted to see what new souvenirs were available at the museums gift shop and the Empire State Plaza gift shop.  The exhibit at the NYS Museum is small but it does tell the story of Nelson Rockefeller's dream that became and amazing reality.
The city of Albany diorama is back in the entrance and framed by the story of the plaza.
And on all the pillars are photos, this one of Governor Rockefeller during construction.
The Plaza at 50 exhibit greets you as you first enter the museum gallery and Andy Warhol's painting of Rocky. 
Then the story of the plaza from sketches and renderings, to construction, to completion, to today.
The museum is going through an amazing and long over due renovation, so the store didn't offer much but we headed to the plaza visitor center gift shop and I was thrilled to see they made a mug of my favorite graphic.  We also picked up at plaza at 50 magnet and a cute little book.
"what came first the chicken or the egg."
For lunch we took the short walk down State Street to Capital Melts for a bag lunch to take back to the plaza.  Even on a warm day the plaza acts as a wind tunnel and there is always a nice breeze.  We found a table under the shade of the Egg. 
I chose the bbq chicken grilled cheese with a side of potato nuggets and a sweet tea.
After lunch we headed back under ground to the car and then out of Albany.  While running errands we decided to hit a few favorite stores and I am so glad we did.  We stopped at BigLots and they still had some fun 4th of July decorations and they were 75% off.  These cute metal firecrackers would have been $30.00 but I got them for $7.50.  And I had seen this solar cat light at the market and didn't pick it up.  BigLots had only 2 left so one came home with me.
I can't wait to put these out next year.
And this little guy is already on the front porch.
Since it was a Friday night and they were calling for some rain, we stopped and picked up pizza to go and headed home.  A quick jump in the pool to wash off the day and as usual time to settle in for the night.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Two glorious days home, perfect weather, pool side with a wonderful book.
Even tho I love to be out and about and we always have a great time; there is something to be said about just "hanging" around the house.  And the weather was perfect, no humidity, low dew point and highs of 78 degrees.  So, I spent both days in my bathing suit, with my ice tea and A TALE OF TWO BIDDIES, the second of the League of Literary Ladies Mysteries by Kylie Logan.

I don't know if I can clearly explain how much I love this series.  First the titles: the play on words of titles of classic literature and how she ties the classic stories into her mysteries.  The characters are wonderful, I would want to know each one of these ladies; I want to be a part of this book group.  They are wonderful friends and although they are all so different they compliment each other nicely.  And the characters she creates for the story are always very diverse.  The setting is lovely, there is something about an island that just screams mystery.  And, especially in A TALE OF TWO BIDDIES, all the back and side stories.  The mystery is so well crafted with so many twists and turns you keep guessing right up to the end.  I did figure out a couple things during my reading, but I am going to tell you, she really had me at the end of this one!  I was not expecting the ending Kylie delivered! 
And it is a very witty series, I love a little humor, but it is not too much so it takes away from the mystery.
In this story the ladies chose to read a Tale of Two Cities and the island is having a Bastille Day celebration.  There are Charles Dickens impersonators, an aging 1980's "re imagined" boy band, aging groupies, secrets, lies and of course a murder.  And all of these things work together. 
I can't wait to see what Kylie Logan has in store for me next.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Although it was a little muggy today, we had reservations at a National Historic Property in Fort Johnson (which is just outside the city of Amsterdam) for an late afternoon tea.

Old Fort Johnson   is a 1749 limestone house built on the Mohawk River, it's adjoining property is the home of the Montgomery County Historical Society.  It is a beautifully maintained property that was (unfortunately) built by a British loyalist.  But, I guess I can overlook that because we did win the war after all.  And, the property is so stunning and the staff and volunteers are so lovely.

Fort Johnson is about 25 minutes west along route 5 (or the NYS Thruway) which follows the Mohawk River.  Although we were having tea, we decided to stop for lunch first.  We chose Russo's Grill in Amsterdam.  This charming restaurant is still family owned since 1920 and sits across from Lock 11 on the Mohawk. 

Although it doesn't look like much the service is exceptional, the atmosphere authentic and the food comforting.  It is an Amsterdam staple with a long and strong history.
After lunch we continued west on route 5 to Fort Johnson.

The condition of this house is amazing!  It was last privately owned in 1905.  The last owner passed away in 1904 and prior to her death she was a breeder of Angora cats, which she raised in the adjoining property that now houses the MHS.  We were told she sold the cats for $500, which amazing for that time!
After parking we crossed the little foot bridge over the Kayaderosseras Creek, which was flowing pretty well today. 
Since we had some time before tea we strolled around the grounds.  The well maintained grounds include a small garden, outdoor oven (that they do use for baking) and privy.
Since there are some pretty strong storms predicted for today, we were not sure if our tea would be in the garden, on rain days they move it into the main house.  But we were happy to see the tents and tables set up.  And with the Mohawk River just across the street, we had a nice breeze.
All the teas and sweet and savory treats were lovingly made by the volunteers and children dressed in impeccable colonial period clothing served.
The goodies were boxed up and sent home with the attendees and all the teas brewed (both hot and cold) were available in the gift shop.  Since it was a bit warm today I stuck with ice tea and picked up a can along with some other souvenirs before leaving.
We headed home hoping to beat the storms, and luckily we made it.  After a quick jump in the pool to wash off the day, time to settle in and enjoy the evening.