March 30, 2023

Fairfield & Other Dollhouse Attics

The unfinished Fairfield attic before.

 Today's topic: Attics!

Feeling a little lost as I finally added what I intended for now to the Fairfield and covered it up. But I will be showing you the rooms you didn't see yet, so stay tuned for upcoming posts.

(Click photos for full size; see other posts in archives in left column or tab on top. * See last post: Fairfield Plants, Additions & Hall and the annual Half Scale Swap. Bonus: Check Emily's blog tutorial to make a beaded curtain.)

For now, thought I'd share something I seem to be hooked on. No matter the house, lately every one has to have an attic. ha! It's fun to have an area to store things and have another room you can use for any purpose. So here's a look back at some different attics I've finished:


In the first half-scale house I did, the Country Dollhouse, I used the attic as one large room with extra beds (made from those inexpensive wood punch-out furniture kits) and a craft area. The room was painted "wood" paneling made from strips. (*See all photos of house on website.)


In my fairly recent large Victorian house, I decided to add an actual small attic space for storage. I like how the brick paper looks with the wood. (See video of house on my website. Scroll past blog section at top.)


The haunted Van Buren house also has a full attic space on the third floor. I really like how the brick looks here. (I always use the textured brick paper from Starboc2 on Etsy, who's from Greece.)    * See other photos on top page tab: My Dollhouses.)


For fun, here's how the Fairfield attic space started. At this point I wasn't sure how it would turn out!

Now it has both an attic sitting room and a tiny bathroom next to a storage-attic space, the best of both worlds! I normally don't add bathrooms but this house had enough room to add two, one on the second floor and I squeezed one in the attic space.

Sitting room and bathroom:

Attic space:

After putting some things in, I decided to add an extra bed in there, too. Why not have somewhere a guest or one of the boy's friends could sleep? The bed was a simple make using end pieces also from the cheapie punch-out wood furniture kit plus a piece of matboard and foam for the mattress. I love the tie-die-type fabric. I was lucky to find a whole bag of different colors and prints at Goodwill a while back.

I added the Western art above the bed, which is from the recent half-scale swap. Also put other art and a teensy barometer (also a previous swap item) on the wall. Though the vintage metal camera isn't half scale, once I found it in the stash I wanted to use it. Thought it too cute not to add in next to the vintage radio. I have one of those folding cameras in real life, and they're fairly large.

That's it for the moment! Thanks again for visiting. 

* Next: A to Z Letter B -link live day of post. Come back soon for more photos!

March 27, 2023

Houdini's Fabulous Magic Blog Tour

 Decades since he first appeared on a stage, Harry Houdini has continued to mesmerize generations of new magicians and those fascinated with magic. Now, his's magic skills have

About the Book:

Incredible escapes, fantastic sleight-of-hand-Houdini's most challenging performances are dramatically portrayed in Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Walter Gibson, co-author, was in close touch with Harry Houdini for a number of years before his death and worked with the master magician in preparing material for the book. It is with the aid of Houdini's own scrapbooks and notes that this book was written.

 The spectacular highlights of Houdini's career are described-and explained-here. Included are the famous escapes: escapes from a padlocked milk can filled with water; from locked jail cells; from a water-filled Chinese torture cell while suspended upside down; from packing cases weighted under water. Again, in this book, Houdini walks through a brick wall, vanishes a 10,000-pound elephant and is buried alive. Once more, Houdini and his wife Bessie mysteriously exchange places in a locked trunk-in three seconds!

 And Houdini the man is not ignored. His impact on the world in the early years of the twentieth century was enormous. He was a public hero who, in his own way, helped sweep out the cobwebs of nineteenth-century thinking. While doing so, he distinguished himself as a patriot, writer, collector of magic, aviator, movie idol, philanthropist, and crusader against fraudulent spiritualistic practices.

 This is a technical manual for magicians, complete with illustrations and diagrams, but it is also an astute analysis of the best of Houdini's magic and a readable biography of a man who turned himself into a legend. It is a book for would-be conjurers, for professional necromancers, for those curious about the methods and means of one of the most enchanting men of the previous century.

  ** BUY: Get Houdini's Fabulous Magic on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


What's not to like? I've been fascinated with Houdini and magic tricks since I was a kid, even at one point getting one of those kiddie magic kits. I read magic books, trying to figure stuff out, and I'm sure at some point I also read the older version of this book. For anyone interested in magic and the life of Houdini, plus a behind-the-screen peek at the tricks, this is the book to read. Besides, who can resist a book endorsed by Teller of Penn & Teller? 5 stars. 

* Comment on this blog or email me your mailing address and what fascinates you about Houdini via my website contact page to be chosen as the winner of a copy! Continental US mailing only. Comments close at midnight CT 3/28.

About the Authors

 Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985)

Walter, a graduate of Colgate University, was a prolific writer including The Shadow novels under his pen name Maxwell Grant. For a time he was Houdini's personal secretary. Following Houdini's death, the attorney for the estate permitted Walter to examine many of Houdini's private scrapbooks and notes from which Gibson wrote Houdini's Magic and Houdini's Escapes. Houdini's scrapbooks, papers and other documents form the background for Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Also a magician, Walter toured with and wrote for magicians such as Blackstone (Sr.), Thurston and Raymond. He was a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the American Society for Psychical Research, the Magician's Guild of America and the Magician's Club of London.

 Morris N. Young, M.D. (1909-2002)

Morris, a graduate of M.I.T., Harvard and Columbia University was Director of Ophthalmology at Beekman Downtown Hospital in New York City. Aside from his numerous professional memberships, he was a member of the Society of American Magicians (to which Houdini had helped him join as a young man), the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a member of the Inner Circle of the Magic Circle (London). He was a founder of the Magic Collectors Association including their publication MAGICOL. Along with his wife Chesley, he established the largest private holdings on memory and mnemonics which now resides at the University of San Marino. Along with his friend John McManus, in 1955 they established the McManus-Young Collections at the Library of Congress, The University of Texas, Austin and the University of California in Berkeley.  Morris' other book publications include Hobby Magic, Houdini on Magic (with Walter Gibson), Presto Prestige, Bibliography of Memory, How To Develop An Exceptional Memory (with Walter Gibson), The Complete Guide to Science Fair Competition (with John Stolzfus) and Radio Music Live (with John Stolzfus).

 You can visit the website created by Morris N. Young's children, Charles C. Young and Cheryl L. Young:

 Advance Praise of the Book

 Teller of Penn & Teller says: "I've loved this books for sixty years. My first copy was borrowed from the Philadelphia Public Library when I was fourteen, and I kept renewing the loan till I could afford to own my own copy.  Houdini's Fabulous Magic has just the right blend of history, technical secrets, and romance to fire the passion of a young magician.  Four pieces of the Penn & Teller repertoire were directly inspired by Houdini's Fabulous Magic--four times more than any other book in my library."

 John Cox in his "Wild About Harry" website (​ and blog said of the earlier editions:  Houdini's Fabulous Magic by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young is the best forgotten Houdini book. I say that because when one thinks of books on Houdini's methods, one tends to turn to Houdini The Key by Patrick Culliton, The Secrets of Houdini by J.C. Cannel, or even Gibson's earlier work, Houdini's Escapes and Magic. Maybe because Fabulous Magic contains some reprinted material from the earlier Gibson book it tends to be thought of as a somewhat recycled work. But it's actually one of the very best books on Houdini's major feats and methods and maybe the best book for the layperson. It also contains historical tidbits that aren't found elsewhere. So let's remember it today!"


Blog Tour Calendar

  February 27th @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Follow along our tour and you'll have the chance to win a copy of the book too.

   February 28th @ The Mommies Review

Join Glenda for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You'll also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

   March 1st @ Word Magic

Fiona will be featuring the book Houdini's Fabulous Magic on her blog.

   March 6th @ One Writer's Journey

Join Sue for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 8th @ A Storybook World

Join Deirdra for her feature of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 10th @ Reading is My Remedy

Join Chelsie today for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 12th @ Joan P. Nienhus

Joan shares her thoughts about Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 15th @ One Sister's Journey

Join Lisa for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 20th @ My Beauty My Books

Join Nikki for her feature of an excerpt of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

   March 23rd @ Knotty Needle

Join Judy for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 25th @ Choices

Visit Madeline's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book too!

   March 27th @ Candid Canine

Join Chris for a review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 29th @ World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 30th @ Silver's Reviews

Join Elizabeth for a spotlight of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   March 31st @ The Faeries Review

Visit Lily's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.

   April 2nd @ Jessica's Reading Room

Join Jessica for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of the book too!

   April 2nd @ Coffee And Ink

Visit Jan's blog for her review of Houdini's Fabulous Magic.





March 26, 2023

2023 Half Scale Dollhouse Swap


Every March-April means not only Spring is coming. It's also  time for the annual swap via members of the Half Scale Group. (Click photos for full size.)

Been doing this for years and it always results in a nice assortment of accessories and things to use in my half scale houses. It's great as the swappers always come up with some interesting and unique items, too. (Here's last year's  Antiques swap and previous plants and toys swaps.)

There's a theme each year, which is a guide or suggestion but swappers are free to make what they want. I was surprised as for fun I suggested "Kitschy" and that was chosen. Weird theme, I suppose, but it certainly is wide open to some different ideas, those "trendy" every-man-type treasures and mass-produced art and stuff we all had at one point: black velvet art, Elvis pix, big-eyed animals, poker-playing dogs, etc. Some call it tacky art, but it's all in fun. Here's the definition of Kitsch.

The fun was a lot of this brings back memories. Once I saw those big-eyed animal pictures, I knew that's what I was making.  I also added the tiny bag of chips. If you don't know, the chips are actually dried green pepper seeds. (See top photo.) Cute craft apron and tiny magical cat with hat (and a larger pic to show his friend in his hat) from Gail.

More art: Western art (Ruth G.) and fun that Terezinha framed and printed the Poker Playing Dogs. ha! Assorted books and cookbooks from Bea. Too bad, no one did the black velvet Elvis picture or the giant fork and spoon everyone hung in their kitchens.

Cool, or should I say, Groovy, beaded curtain from Emily. (Be sure to check out her half scale houses and projects at her blog. Update: See her tutorial to make your own beaded curtain.) I feel a '60s-'70s room coming on which could be fun to do....

Some nice brackets and tea candles, a teensy elephant and crystal ball from Paula W. 3D-printed mugs and lanterns from Jen W. The "metal" glass is part of a set (below) from Annilee T. Remember those? And the utensils are part of a set from Terri C.

The rest of the set from Terri C includes more wood utensils (from MiniEtchers), canisters, Kleenex box and cups 3D printed from MiniDecorandMore on Etsy.

Cute cat items, sculpture/clock, apron, towels from Cyndi M. Meow!  (I think the girl artist in my Fairfield is claiming the cat for her bedroom wall!) The mat makes a good floor mat in front of the kitchen stove, too. 

And the fruit bowl (remember when plastic/wax fruit was the thing to display?) is from Sydney. The pretty bread box and bread board is from Karen Crawford at MiniEtchers

Cute animal and shaped clocks from Helen S.

Nice plates, vases and love that little wall owl from Sharon J. She said she made a mold from an earring.

The fun mini canisters, book, and Western art from Ruth G. (Dog art from Terezinha.) I put the Western art on the wall in my Fairfield attic. The others will fit perfect in an antique shop idea, I think.

Really like the sheen on this gold carpet. And wow, teensy tiny ducks! from Emily B.

Pretty cool '50s flavored end table from Glenda. Now I'll have to make an ugly "ceramic" ash tray and a cig with smoke! 

I got a big kick out of this Lava lamp from Adrian C. It's larger in size, but too cool not to use somewhere; maybe in that '60s-'70s bedroom, or an antiques shop... The neat thing is she also used a color-changing LED in it. So fun! 


So, that's it. Smaller than usual (no pun intended), but still lots of fun.
Come back soon for more pix. Hopefully I'll have some more Fairfield rooms photos up and the shows will be taking place at the end of April. Then... deciding on my next project! Maybe... I'm thinking of the Park Ave. Mansion though it's a lot of painting! That's at least another year-long+ project!
Thanks for visiting!

March 22, 2023

Haunted Lost Rose ghostly mystery Blog Tour


Today I welcome C.L. Bauer, author of the ghostly mystery, The Haunted Lost Rose, (Charlotte's Voices of Mystery Book 1). Be sure to check out the excerpt and giveaways below.

About the Book:

Some secrets should stay hidden. If they come to light, darkness could weaken even the strongest of families.

Real estate agent Charlotte O'Donohue never looks forward to Mondays. Usually, a couple cups of coffee will fix her mood, but today an unexpected voice directs her to a dead body. She's going to need a bigger cup, and it better be caffeinated!

When the dead body happens to be your client, the scandal could jeopardize her brother's business, but Charlotte is more worried about a mysterious stranger who decides she's the number one suspect. He seems familiar and dangerous. He knows she has a secret, and Charlotte will do anything to keep the truth from him. How could he possibly understand that she can hear the dead?

Ghostly whispers from a spirit who haunts the large Kansas City mansion warns of more danger to come for Charlotte, her family, and for the stranger. But as Charlotte discovers a key to one mystery, another one that could reveal more than a murderer but a long-forbidden love.

Buy: Amazon - Other Stores


“I’ve been busy being a murder suspect.”
      “Well, we could use one of those. Get your tush over here. Sean, Jane, Tom, and Meg are already here. Linda demands you come to protect her from the O'Donohue clan. You’re one of us, but she seems to think you are always on her side. I don’t get it.”
      I got it. Linda and I had bonded from the moment she had walked through our front door. That, and she had me in her wedding as a flower girl. I always sided with her on everything, even those things I didn’t really agree with just to irritate the others. These days, Linda was the one person who reminded me the most of our own mother. She was calm in a storm and bitey when needed.
      “Fine, but I’m not doing anything on the float tonight. I’ll eat pizza.
      “Whatever, just get over here. We aren’t waiting on you to eat.”

      “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I answered as he hung up. He was in the process of yelling at Sean about some pot of gold and where it should go. Only in my family would that make sense.
Some of my first memories were of the annual Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The O'Donohue family always participated, and Dad was one of the most public personalities. We even won a few awards over the years. I changed my sweatshirt, throwing on a warmer sweater. Paddy’s large garage wasn’t the warmest. I had no plans to be out there the entire time nailing chicken wire in place.
      I parked my car behind Tom’s and headed into the house, but something caught my eye at the end of the driveway. It was a blue Jaguar. What the bloody--


Kansas City, Missouri native C.L. Bauer is the author of three mystery series. Originally a reporter, Bauer worked through jobs in marketing and advertising, to eventually take over the reins of her family’s century old business, Clara’s Flowers. Many of the stories used in her books are based on true events from years in the wedding and event flower world. 
You can reach C.L. Bauer on all social mediums, Goodreads, and through her website, Check out her flower designs at

* Bonus giveaway: Message me what you like about ghost stories with the heading, Ghost, via my website contact page to be entered to win  an e-copy of the book. Contest ends 12 a.m. March 23.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 20, 2023

More Plants, Second Floor Hall & Additions to the Fairfield Dollhouse

I may be close to wrapping things up on the Fairfield Dollhouse, but I'm not quite done. You never are really finished, you know. You always see something you want to change or add.       (* See last post: the bedrooms, with links to other rooms.)

I still have several rooms to show you yet -- the finished dining room, parlor and kitchen, and I'm working on some things for the parlor/living room, but in the meantime, here are a couple things I've done since. Yeah, I'm stretching this out. ha! You don't mind, do you? 

(Search the archives in the left column for other posts and photos. Click photos for full size.) I put a tab on top of the blog showing links to this house and the others I've done, too. See My Dollhouses: Fairfield, Half-Scale, Etc. 

Attic Sitting Room

Since the previous post, I changed out the wood chair (which I repainted for the kitchen). I liked the fabric in the attic so much that I made a matching slipper chair instead, (also see top photo) which I think looks much better, don't you?

 I also used another slipper chair that I got in a swap in the girl's bedroom. (See link above.) These are great chairs to use to match any decor and are easy to make. For the attic chair, I used a 3/4" wood cube for the base and cut the back from matboard. (This year's swaps are in the mail and should be here this week, so I'll be showing those soon.)

Going downstairs, here's the view in the attic with the spiral staircase. I ended up using a single yarn for the rail as the other piece I'd doubled was too stiff. 

Second floor hall:  The spiral staircase is made from a kit from Alpha Stamps. Maybe I'll add a small table and another plant on the right of the stairs since there's room.

Added art on the wall. 

Also made this Monstera plant for in front of the window. (Just peeking out in photo above behind the spiral stairs.) It's a weird punch as it's only half a leaf, so you have to cut out the hole tabs and then glue the other half over it, but I wanted to try it and I think it came out okay. (I also added a little yellow duck outside the bathroom door since this photo! Couldn't find it at first!)

Porches: (Here's the exterior.)

I thought the walls on the first floor porch needed some plants so I added a lion face with a hanging plant on the left side and a planter box on the other side. Forgot about it; I see the front door still needs a wreath and numbers. See? Never done. 😏

I also found some window boxes on sale at Hobby Lobby, so I made a smaller planter box and used some of the plants to hang on the second floor rail. I think it was a good addition.

I'll have posts soon on the other rooms. Just finishing up a few things...

Thanks again for visiting. Be sure to come back soon!

March 16, 2023

Revisiting the Miniatures Mystery Series

If you've been a miniatures collector and creator for a while, then you likely are aware of the fun miniatures-centered mysteries written by collector and author Camille Minichino (first published under the name Margaret Grace.) For a treat, read on for a book excerpt and a short interview with Camille. You can also sign up for her monthly newsletter here. 

If you haven't read them, well, you've  been missing something special since hers is the only full series of light mysteries involving miniatures and set in the dollhouse world. 

I'm sharing since the series of nine books have gotten striking new covers and been republished by Crossroad Press.  (See all the books here.) A bonus is that book 1, Murder in Miniature and book 2, Mayhem in Miniature, are also available in audiobook (at this writing listed as free with an Audible trial.) 

How it Starts: About Book 1, Murder in Miniature: 

As chairwoman of the local Dollhouse and Miniatures Fair and babysitter for her precocious granddaughter, Geraldine Porter's got enough to think about without the curious behavior of her friend Linda Reed. Linda and her prized miniature Governor Winthrop desk go missing the morning of the fair, a young woman and prominent townsperson are murdered, and Linda's Governor Winthrop turns up in a most bizarre place. Then someone starts threatening Gerry. And Linda knows more than she lets on. Now Gerry must get to the bottom of things, or it's going to be big trouble...

 Interview with Camille Minichino:

Why do you think the books are still a favorite?

I think a precocious kid is a big draw in cozy mysteries, especially a very smart, self-confident young girl who also adores her grandmother!

 What's your favorite book of the series and why?

 Manhattan in Miniature, of course, since I’m a huge fan of NYC! At the time, pre-pandemic, I visited the city often and enjoyed capturing the energy of the buildings, the streets, and New Yorkers.

 What’s your latest/next book coming out and when? What are you working on now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories with a writer friend who shall be named soon. We’re aiming for November ’23! I’m also working on a novel set in WW2. (NOTE:  A reprint of Camille's story, "The Sodium Arrow,"  is also in the recent issue of Black Cat Weekly,#76. See at Amazon and B&N.)

 How many books have you written? What keeps you writing/inspired?

I've written 28 novels; one nonfiction book; lots of short stories, some in anthologies. Like you, I’m sure, story ideas are always swimming around my thoughts and the only way to get rid of them is to write them out! Plus, it’s very exciting to see a book in print (or e-)!

 Any new minis projects? How many years have you been decorating and donating houses?

I love creating minis, sometimes small scenes, sometimes room boxes, and at least once a year a house. I decorate at least a scene to donate to conferences, and houses when I travel to them by car. I have a standing project (more than 20 years!) with a local school to give them a fully furnished house for their holiday fair/auction. Often I include raw materials for the winner to fool around with! (A selection of projects can be seen in the photos gallery at her website.) 

 Any hopes of revisiting the miniatures series with a new story or addition?

I’m in short story mode recently, and I’ve started a story where Maddie has entered the Police Academy. The issue, of course: do I want reread the nine books in the series so I don’t lose continuity? The books were published between 2008 and 2016, and a lot has happened in my writing life since then. But if Maddie is old enough to be in the Academy, it will be ok if her favorite flavor of ice cream has changed!  

Excerpt from book 8, Manhattan in Miniature : 

About the book: 

Perhaps Manhattan, like Christmas, is best seen through the eyes of a child. Gerry Porter provides both magical experiences for granddaughter Maddie when a SuperKrafts manager takes them to New York City for a huge crafts fair. They get to work on both making miniatures and solving crimes, the detecting duo's favorite pastimes. All this, plus Rockefeller Center and Radio City, too! But a crafty murderer wants to make sure they don't make it safely home again to California.

                                       Chapter One: 

I needed a new refrigerator; there was no doubt about that. But I didn't expect to have so many choices. I stood in the appliance section of the store, in front of the current selection of models. Should I buy the tall white two-door or a similar style in black with an ice maker? I was also attracted to a French-door window arrangement in a wood-like shade, and the bottom-drawer-freezer stainless steel model next to it. I had already ruled out the old-fashioned one-door in avocado green that reminded me of my first kitchen in the Bronx back when Ken and I were newlyweds. I wasn't planning on redecorating to that extent.

In the end, I decided to buy them all, including a boxy yellow throwback with its motor on top that had fallen behind the others. You could never have enough appliances to fill all your dollhouses or miniature room boxes.

"What about the restaurant-kitchen room box we're making, Grandma?" Maddie asked. "Shouldn't we buy two of the big stainless-steel fridges so we can put them side by side?"

"Good idea," I said, as Maddie threw another silvery fridge into the wire basket she carried. Maddie was my mini-Sherpa in more ways than one.

We headed for the checkout counter at SuperKrafts, Lincoln Point's first crafts store. My English-teacher background had finally stopped rebelling at the gimmicky spelling, and I was able to enjoy the store's great collection of supplies for lovers of crafts of all kinds. Maddie and I had a clear shot at every shelf and bin of merchandise, with few other shoppers, most of whom were focusing on supplies for Christmas ornaments and fabric stamped with sleigh bells or Santa and his reindeer. I'd convinced my eleven-year-old granddaughter that earlier was better on a Saturday so close to Christmas if we wanted to beat the crowds. We stopped on the way to checkout and admired the new decorations to celebrate all the December holidays.

I was glad to be done with the Thanksgiving theme, which had been carried out with six-foot-tall turkeys, massive ears of plastic corn, and giant cornucopias. I doubted anyone ever called an oversized pilgrim "cute." Maybe I'd offer to help decorate next year and add a miniature Thanksgiving table to the mix. Why anyone preferred larger-than-life to smaller-than-life was beyond me. When an item was enlarged, so were its warts and imperfections. But shrink the world into a scale of one inch, or less, for every real-life foot, and you had nothing but cute. Like the seven refrigerators I'd be taking home today, all under six inches in height. I couldn't wait to stock the one-inch freezer shelves with half-inch cartons of ice cream.

Jody, today's sales associate at SuperKrafts, peered into our basket. "Do you need any stoves or sinks to go with?" she asked.

"We have a ton of those," my granddaughter answered, emptying the basket onto the counter. The assortment of little wooden, plastic, and metal refrigerators, toppled out, joined by a few accessories Maddie had picked up for her own miniature project. "I'm doing a skating scene," she explained. "These pipe cleaners are for the trees. And Grandma and I are making a mini restaurant where you can see into the kitchen in the back. That's why we need these." She pointed to the stainless-steel fridges. "I'm making the tables out of cupcake holders, the ones where all the pleating looks like a tablecloth."

Too much information, I figured, but Maddie supplemented her explanation with hand gestures until Jody nodded her appreciation.

Jody ran our items across the magic red scanner, pausing now and then for a judgment of "cute," or "adorable," supporting my theory of miniatures. I was ready to write a check for the amount displayed on the screen when a loud voice interrupted the transaction.

"Hold it, Jody." The directive came from a woman in a red apron that clashed with her chemically enhanced hair color. Bebe Mellon, my friend and the store manager, rushed down an aisle toward us. "Don't forget to give Gerry the special discount," she ordered.

"Goody," Maddie said, as if she herself had toiled for the money we'd spend.

"Your grandma earned it," Bebe said, ruffling Maddie's red curls, a shade darker than Bebe's, but home grown. "We probably wouldn't even be in business if it weren't for her."

"Thanks to Skip, not me," I said, giving due credit to my homicide-detective nephew for straightening out some problems that had befallen SuperKrafts in general and Bebe in particular, during its early days in town.

While Jody wrapped and bagged our purchases and Maddie gave a running commentary on the use of each item, Bebe pulled me aside. "Guess what, Gerry. I've been invited to staff the SuperKrafts booth at the big show in New York City. It's the biggest crafts fair on the East Coast. They get, like, three hundred vendors from all over the world. This year Corporate wants us to highlight the expanded miniatures sections in their regional stores. Like ours." Bebe waved her arm toward the area of the store where Maddie and I had spent most of our time.

"That's very exciting, Bebe. What exactly will you be doing?"

Bebe's face lit up as she answered. "My partner and I will be setting up our display, of course, and we'll be part of all the raffles, like almost every hour during the day. A lot of lucky people will win room boxes. And, of course, we'll be selling supplies, with special deals for crafts groups and small, independent crafts stores. Plus, there will be workshops." She took a deep breath, but her excited demeanor didn't go away. "I'll be teaching a session on making a lighted Christmas room box." She took a well-deserved breath and smiled. "See why I'm so wired?"

Bebe had weathered a tough life and had come by this new job honestly. I was happy things were turning around for her. I tried to match her enthusiasm with a big hug. "It sounds like a lot of fun, and what a vote of confidence in you."

Bebe nodded. "Uh-huh. Even though I haven't been with SuperKrafts that long."

"I can see why you'd be excited."

She leaned in closer to me. "Yeah, but the fair is next weekend. Truth is, I was just supposed to help their New York person out with ideas and reports about what customers in California were asking for, but she got sick and they asked me to step in since I already know all the ins and outs. So, I was their second choice. Or maybe even third." Bebe shrugged. "I don't care, though. It's a chance to meet the bigwigs and see Manhattan at Christmas time." Bebe drew a deep, happy breath. "And if I do well, who knows what's in store. Ha, ha. Get it? What's in store?"

"Good one," I said, and laughed, to prove I got it. I made a move to rescue Jody from my granddaughter and steer Maddie home, but Bebe wasn't finished.

"It sounds like a lot of fun, right?"

"It certainly does," I said, with the sincerity of a native New Yorker. Now living in a snow-free zone of California, about forty miles south of San Francisco, I could only dream of the days when I'd skated on real ice in Central Park, window-shopped on Fifth Avenue, stood in awe when the Rockefeller Center tree lights came on. The words to an endless album of holiday songs ran through my head, and I could almost taste the first snowflakes on my tongue. "You can't beat the holidays in the Big Apple," I said, aware of a dreamy quality to my voice.

"Great," Bebe said. "So, you're in?"

"Excuse me?" Between my merry but confused daydreams and my rush to claim Maddie and be on our way, I'd thought I'd misheard Bebe's last comment.

"I know it's kind of last-minute. Well, okay, it really is last-minute. We'd have to leave in three days. This coming Tuesday. But, as I say, it's my chance to make a good impression. And it's definitely a two-person job."

"You mentioned you had a partner? Someone from the company, I assumed. Someone already in New York."

Bebe rubbed her hands along the front of her apron. "I was thinking of you, Gerry. I just left a message on your machine, then I looked out my office window and realized, here you are. It's meant to be."

I laughed at her joke. "I don't think so."

"I'm serious, Gerry. First of all, they're seriously understaffed in this busy season, and I can't just take pot luck on the kind of help they'll give me. I told them I had the perfect solution to this last-minute glitch. They've agreed to fly you out with me. Especially once I mentioned that you're the best at this kind of thing, very experienced. You've been running crafts fairs and raffles around here since I've known you. Right?"

"That's true, but—"

"So you'll come?"

I scratched my head. To help me absorb this sudden invitation? "Bebe, I can't just pick up and—"

"Why not, Grandma? Please, please. Say we can go!"

We? I glanced down at the pleading look in Maddie's eyes. How much longer would she be clamoring to spend time with her grandmother? And how many more opportunities would I get to introduce her to the Rockettes before she became a preoccupied teenager, with daily mood swings and major shifts in interest, too grown-up for a show that featured a dance line of long-legged women with antlers on their heads? And what was so important in my life that it couldn't be postponed a week or two? I was hooked.

"Yes, we can go," I said. #


If you want to read more of Camille's work, check out her website. She also is the author of:

The Periodic Table Mysteries, featuring retired physicist Gloria Lamerino,set in Revere, Massachusetts;

The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries, featuring a math professor at a small New England college;

The Postmistress Mysteries (as Jean Flowers), featuring Cassie Miller, postmistress in a western Massachusetts town;

The Alaskan Diner Mysteries (as Elizabeth Logan), featuring Charlotte "Charlie" Cooke, and her sleuthing crew in a fictitious Alaska town.

Camille, thanks again for sharing your work with us here!