Spook the Spooks...Meow!

Spook the Spooks...Meow!

Digital art by me!

Most Humble Apoligies ... And Lots of Death!


I'm so very sorry, dear friends! I don't have a spooky horror story to review for you this week. I know, it is utterly irresponsible of me. I shall plan my posts better next year, I promise! As a substitute, allow me to share with you a story that at least as a grimly morbid title and has plenty of death and suspense between the pages...

~~~

Wow! This book is one of the finest treats for history lovers I have ever come across. I had read that Franklin died recently and that the last book written in this series ends off on a cliffhanger, but the reviews persuaded me to go ahead and give it a read anyway. I am so happy that I did.

In a time during England's history when anything out of the ordinary immediately came under suspicion and women were considered soulless temptresses responsible for the Fall, a female doctor seems unlikely - impossible even. Enter Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno. A woman raised amidst the culturally ambivalent atmosphere of a city in which a female could receive the same education as a man, Adelia is considered one of its most accomplished denizens. When Henry II - by proxy of the King of Sicily - calls for the expert investigative skills of a specialist in the examination of the dead it is Adelia who is sent. For she is not merely a doctor versed in herbalism, surgery, and ailments of the living ... she is a Mistress of the Art of Death.

Characterization in this book is strong and diverse. Amidst the mundane citizens of Cambridgeshire Franklin looses the unique and testy female doctor to the dead, her Moorish guardian, a Jewish investigator sent to assist her, and characters seemingly straight out of Chaucer. Our leading lady unexpectedly - and reluctantly - meets her match in Sir Rowley Picot, royal tax collector and seeker of vengeance. And tagging along is the scampish Ulf, an ornery urchin whose life and happiness come to mean a great deal to Adelia ... especially when threatened by a viscous and perverse murderer who stalks the countryside. Together, this colorful band sets their combined will against that of a befouled soul long lost to heaven.

Admittedly, the last bit of the epilogue reads like a history textbook and is ultimately irrelevant to the actual story, but I forgive Franklin as I am just that much of a history freak! I loved reading this story - even though there were scenes which were emotionally scalding - and can't wait to catch up with these wonderful characters in the next book. Bravo!

P.S. Yes, I fully admit to picturing Henry II as Peter O'Toole in his role from "The Lion in Winter!"

Decorating with Candy Corn

DIY Halloween Costume-Anna Wintour

diy audrey hepburn

Get The Look: Halloween

Halloween Costume: Fashion Icon Iris Apfel

DIY Halloween Costume-Karl Who?

Light Taupe, Pale Blue, & Seafoam

Light Taupe, Pale Blue, & Seafoam

A slight variation on the color palette I posted yesterday. Yesterday was Hot Cocoa and Ice Blue. Today I've added touches of Seafoam. What do you think of the addition?

Denim & Flannel

Denim & Flannel

Style Trending: Denim Skirt with a red plaid shirt and a red plaid jacket and a lovely, warm, chunky infinity scarf knit in red! Red suede shoes and red leather gloves. Red sunnies. And a black handbag.

Denim and Blue Seude Shoes

Denim and Blue Seude Shoes

Over50Style! To keep it easy and casual, keep it all one color. A denim skirt and all blue keeps the easy flowing.

Hot Cocoa & Ice Blue

Hot Cocoa & Ice Blue

Brown and Blue are a very recognized decorating theme. Take it a shade lighter and do a cocoa and ice blue theme and see what you get. The effect can be very striking!

makin' your own kinda' music...

makin' your own kinda' music...

Combining shades of one color can create a very rich outfit. Here it's purples so deep they look black (top) and pale, blue and almost gray (sweater). Makes for a harmonious combo!

Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

Digital art by me!

It's sweater weather...

It's sweater weather...

Over50Style! A sweater dress and scarf with some pretty bead jewelry are finished off nicely with a lovely handbag and warm booties for a snappy fall look. Toss on a lovely almost matching fall coat and you're set for a day of anything!

Not Your Usual Halloween...

Not Your Usual Halloween...

Give any decor theme a little tweaking and you can have it looking ready for Halloween in no time as long as you use the right style of Halloween accessories to decorate with. Purple glass pumpkins, orange and white stripe pumpkins or white pumpkins can change your Halloween look this season!

Skirt the rules...

Skirt the rules...

Sweater weather never looked so good! Red and gold are a mix that's over the top and in this pencil skirt it's out of sight! The abstract print will certainly draw the eyes of one and all. Top it with a gold sweater and a red cape jacket. Red ankle boots and a gold handbag almost complete the look. A gold and red scarf at the neck and some gold jewelry to sparkle finish it. Not a look for the shy or retiring! Do you dare?

Halloween Hang Out

Halloween Hang Out

Whether you're the person sitting behind the candy bowl on Halloween night or you're hanging out at a friend's house tipping back a few holiday cocktails, this sweater screams Halloween! And not just because it's warm and cozy and long and oversized, but just in case you hadn't noticed it, it's really, really orange!

Harvest Hooch

Harvest Hooch

Casual at its best for fall harvest get togethers!

LBD Strikes Again!

LBD Strikes Again!

LBD (little black dress) always in style any season, any year! And this time it's just a T-shirt dress done up in a nice cut! It looks good on everyone! It especially looks good with a pop of color and glitz for a fun, non-serious night out! Easy to move in and won't cost a fortune at the cleaners if you spill a drink on it! So dance till your feet hurt, then kick off you heels and dance some more, because this LBD won't let you down whether you're 25 or 50!

No treats, We're into tricks!

No treats, We're into tricks!

Digital art by me!

The Three Fates - Find your own path

The Three Fates - Find your own path

Digital art by me!

Beauty and the Beast: Relocating and Refreshing

Who doesn't love the classic story of Beauty and the Beast? Disney gave it to me to grow up with and I always adore it when I run across another take on the original tale (some better than others). Juliet Marillier was the perfect author to take this on. The setting and lovely style she uses suit the story well, and she reinvented the characters in such a way that they were original and absolutely riveting.

A young woman on the run, offering her skills as a scribe to any who would take her in; a collection of cursed men and women bound to the mysterious hold of Whistling Tor; the threat of Norman incursion ... and a physically flawed, emotionally remote master clearly held within a tangled web of lies, magic and tragedy. It makes for a fabulously refreshing blend of the original folktale and the brutal history of the British Isles!

Marillier remains true to the heart of the story's intent. She doesn't take wild liberties, but allows the inherent flavor of her chosen place and time to imbue the known plot with new life. The "Beauty" is a believable mix of soft beauty, intelligence, and gentle kindness -- along with that spark of determination needed here. The "Beast" is a wonderful take on historical perception. Here we have a man - rich, powerful, entitled - but disfigured and maimed. In a time of religious anxiety and little to no medical understanding, such a person might well have been viewed as a "beast," perhaps cursed by demons or the Devil himself. Hats off to Marillier for coming up with a way to incorporate the beastly aspect of the original character in a very believable and historically accurate way.

If there is anything to say against "Heart's Blood," it is that it is not quite as impressive when compared to Marillier's other work. However, the Sevenwaters series is extensive and complex, so it isn't a very fair comparison.

"Heart's Blood" offers a beautiful, refreshing look at a long-loved tale. Who knew that Beauty and the Beast could be a suspense story?! As all the cheesy advertisements say: fall in love all over again!


...and may I simply say: holy gorgeous cover art!!!

Gucci in 1..2..3...

Gucci in 1..2..3... 
Leather is still in vogue for the fall. I looks wonderful with all the rich colors we have throughout the fall season. But pack it away in the winter as it really isn't warm enough. You are better in wools for winter.

Gucci Tote with Earthtones in Leopard Print

Gucci Tote with Earthtones in Leopard Print

Earthtones are always a good fall combination. What are considered earthtones? Black. Brown. Beige. Gold. Burnt Orange. Rust. And all the variations of these colors like gray, terra cotta, sepia, etc. Some people add green to earthtones and that fine, but I tend to stick with the muddy and gray greens when I do that. A palette of earthtones can be very rich for a fall wardrobe. Try it and see!

A Touch of the East

A Touch of the East

Don't know what colors to use to decorate your room? Get a multicolored rug or carpet and pull colors from the rug. Choose one to be your predominate color and use that in large areas like that walls or large items of furniture. Choose a second color to be your main accent color and use that around the room fairly consistently in things like pillows or lamps. The other colors can be used in small amounts in artwork and other small decor. And remember, your artwork doesn't have to match your curtains or couch!

The Witch's Bouquet

The Witches Bouquet

Digital art by me!

Thinking of days gone by...

Thinking of days gone by...

Digital art by me!

A class act...

A class act...

As I've said many times, neutrals don't have to be boring! Here we have a not-so-basic khaki skirt and coffee colored blouse. A leopard print scarf, bright orange heels and a creamy handbag add punch to the outfit. The the poncho is neutral again in light and dark browns. The orange jewelry adds a bit more punch. Rethink your neutrals and see how you can add punch to your wardrobe.

Rowan's Dream

Rowan's Dream

Digital art by me!

B & W and Ice Blue

B & W and Ice Blue

Black and White Decor: Usually black and white needs an accent color. In this design plan, the ice blue holds equal footing with the black and white. Given that it is such a pale, almost timid color, if it were just an accent color in small amounts, it would be overwhelmed by the black and white and disappear. Using it as an equal partner to the black and white, it can stand up to the boldness of the black and white pairing.

Green-Blue Plaid

Green-Blue Plaid

Trend Alert: Plaids come in all color combinations and sizes this fall, too! You'll see mini plaids and bold plaids. And you'll see them all together!

Patriotic Plaid

Patriotic Plaid

Trend Alert: Plaids are everywhere this fall! Look for them in major clothing items as well as in all sorts of accessories! Plaids with plaids is a big trend as well this fall!

On the grid, it's all location, location, location.

On the grid, it's all location, location, location.

A lovely blush pink dress for a special day? Add shoes the same color and pretty flowers at your ears to match. Drape a silky scarf at your neck and more sparkles at your wrist. Grab your pretty white clutch and hope the world is ready for you! Is the world ready for you?

It's sweater weather...

It's sweater weather...

A basic sweater dress. Sounds so boring, doesn't it? Wrap it with a bright magenta scarf and add lovely suede pumps and handbag and suddenly it's just not boring anymore! What other colors could you use to keep your "basic sweater dress" from being boring?

Free Style for Friday!

Free Style for Friday!

Over50Stylin'! Comfortable but trendy boyfriend jeans. Loose and comfy silky shirt covered with stars. Long silky scarf tied any one of a million ways around the neck. Comfortable and fashionable mules on a low heel in a great color for all seasons. A multicolor bag that will handle anything you need to carry, including your tablet. Keep warm in a loose gray coat with patch pockets for hands and keys. Top off the ensemble with a terrific teal fedora and funky black sunnies.  Jewelry in dark metal and blue stones.

Please note the emphasis on comfort as well as fashionable and trendy. Women over 50 want comfort in their casual clothes. We also want to look good in them. Things like handbags have to be useful for daily life, but not so large as to be suitcases. The fabric in our clothes should feel good on our bodies. We've reached the stage in our lives when we can't be bothered fooling around with clothes that don't feel or look good and handbags that look wonderful but serve no purpose. Personally, I love being over 50! It's quite liberating!

You are so pretty in pink!

You are so pretty in pink!

For the girly-girl in all of us! Pink lace tied up in pink knit wrapped in pink faux fur! Now that's pretty girly! Mix all that with pale blue skinnies and minty accessories! Yup, that's girly! And fun! Do you dare go that girly?

Spirit Fox

Spirit Fox

Digital art by me!

Recycling Sanderson's Way

Like all of Brandon Sanderson's books, Warbreaker is exceptional. I'll admit to mixed feelings about it, but it is nevertheless a really good story. As always, we get a cast of varied characters, each with their own baggage and biases setting out to take on a world infused with a magic system unlike any other ever written.

I suppose my biggest problem with it is that it felt like Sanderson was recycling elements from his other major works here. He gives an explanation for two of these similarities - godlike men and a princess traveling to an arranged marriage - on his website, stating that he wanted to explore how things would work if the godlike state of the Elantrians were reversed and uncorrupted. The inclusion of the foreign princess plot line was included similarly: "In Elantris, Sarene arrives to discover her fiancé is dead and gone. In Warbreaker, however, I wanted to show what happened if the bride didn't get to dodge this uncomfortable situation, but actually had to marry the man she'd been promised to." Having read about this before starting the book I was able to get behind the concept of Sanderson re-working plot elements from previous work to see what would happen. I even enjoyed the exercise, having read and thoroughly enjoyed Elantris, and everything was fine and dandy until some scenes and character actions took on the feel of some of the things in Mistborn. By the end I felt almost that this was Sanderson taking aspects of his other books and throwing them back into the pot to see what would happen. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing -- the story works really well on its own and is independent of his other work -- the originality of the book suffered because of it.

Setting that aside, though, there is a lot to really enjoy about Warbreaker. Sanderson has always written women very effectively and he continues to do so here. The two main protagonists are princesses from the rebel kingdom of Idris. An agreement between their homeland and the sovereign nation of Hallandren will require one of them to travel to the Court of Gods and wed the God King. Siri is chosen, to Vivenna's consternation, and thus begins a series of events which will see the build up to a war that Idris cannot survive. Through Siri, we follow the events within the Hallandren court as the politics of the theocracy attempt to use her as a pawn to agitate the people's sentiment. Likewise we witness the machinations of the factions outside of the palace through Vivenna's experiences when she arrives to save her sister from what she views to be rape by the monster who calls himself the God King. Each discovers that nothing they have been taught has prepared them for the truth of this city and the viscous turmoil within. Their separate struggles against the growing call for war is the making of them -- though it very nearly breaks them both.

I also really liked having the annotations regarding each individual chapter at the end. I always love it when I can hear about what an author was thinking and trying to accomplish as he writes a story, and Sanderson has given us extensive insight into not only this world and these characters but his own personal writing process. It was a unique experience that I cannot thank him enough for.

Though this book represents some conflict for me as a reader, I genuinely liked it and will definitely be reading it again. Sanderson left the ending wide open for a sequel and he mentioned the possibility several times in the annotations, so I will cross my fingers and hope to anticipate that next publication. Bravo!

P.S. Brandon Sanderson provides a lot of great information on how he came to write Warbreaker and his feelings about it on his website: http://brandonsanderson.com/book/Warb...

Tradition

Tradition

Traditional pieces and colors make a traditional room. Is that true? Well, yes. But you can combine your pieces a bit differently and give your colors a bit of a spicing up for a new way of looking at tradition. All reds go together. This statement opens up a whole new way of looking at design and decorating. If you take that statement and play with your reds, then you have a much wider palette for your rooms. Red, cranberry, rose, crimson, pink - they all work in the same room! Try it and see what you think! And by the way, the same applies to the rest of the color wheel, too! One color per room, though or you just have a technicolor mess!

Kindness is an everyday thing.

Kindness is an everyday thing.

Putting together an outfit can be like creating a work of art! You start with a basic white top. You add some gray plaid trousers at the bottom. Then a gray wrap cardigan at the top. Blue suede shoes on the bottom. Sparkly blue earrings bring a touch of light. A silver and blue watch to keep time. Add a blue handbag in the middle for accent. Finish it off with some great blue sunnies for fun! You are a living work of art!

Celebrate Your Good Days!

Celebrate Your Good Days!

Trending Report: Statement tees come in lots of forms and not all tees are white with a black statement. Black with a gold statement certainly counts as a statement tee, so go ahead and make your statement! Do you have a statement to make?

Very Girly!

Very Girly!
Who says you can't use pink in your livingroom? Who makes these silly rules anyway? Yes, it's girly, but we're girls! Right?! So, if you want to, do it! A soft pink sofa with rosy walls. Soft plush gray underfoot to ground it a bit. Light wood to keep the focus on the pink. And more girly accents in the fashion prints on the wall. White lighting fixtures give it a nice crisp accent. Adding a bit of red and cranberry make it a statement. An alternative to the light wood furniture and white accents is chocolate brown and ivory. Ever had the urge to do a communal room in pink?

Trust Honesty Respect Love

Trust Honesty Respect Love

Denim skirts are still very popular this fall! Topped with a soft, loose shirt and a plaid scarf, it's a natural for almost any day. Slip into these fabulous gray flats with the dapper bow and grab your burgundy accents to go!

These boots are made for...STYLIN'!

These boots are made for...STYLIN'!

A dress worn as a shirt with leggings and tall boots all topped off by a long vest, this one is faux fur. A look you'll see a lot of this fall and winter! Add a touch of teal for color and you're stylin'!

Beware of Dragons!

NEW CONTEST! Come join the fun!

Digital art by me!

Happy Hour

Happy Hour

Earthtones don't have to be basic. Do them in soft knits and luxurious wools trimmed in leather and there's nothing boring or basic about these earthtones!