This Is Halloween!

Everyday Adventures

Oh, folks, it is my most favoritest time of the year: Labor Day is done, summer is effectively over, and now we can get to the good stuff: fall and Halloween!

While we’ll wait a little bit to start decorating (our decorating scheme may have to change a bit to be Duncan-proof, but that’s a conversation for another day), I think it’s the perfect time to start watching some of my favorite seasonal movies. Usually I just start in October, but I think this year I’ll start right now (well, last night) with the various Halloween and Halloween-adjacent movies that I love.

Last night’s flick? Practical Magic. As much as Love Actually inaugurates the Christmas movie season, Practical Magic is my go-to witch movie of choice. Not that I restrict viewing of these or any other movies to only one time of year, mind you, but it’s more special this time of year.

And what will I watch for the next 54 days? In no particular order…

  1. Halloweentown
  2. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
  3. Halloweentown High
  4. Return to Halloweentown
  5. Hocus Pocus
  6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (we consider this a dual-holiday movie)
  7. Scream
  8. Scream 2
  9. Scream 3
  10. Scream 4
  11. The Craft
  12. Ghostbusters
  13. Ghostbusters 2
  14. House on Haunted Hill, 1959
  15. House on Haunted Hill, 1999 (I’m usually not fond of remakes, but both versions stand pretty well on their own for different reasons)
  16. Little Shop of Horrors
  17. 13 Ghosts
  18. The Haunting, 1963
  19. The Haunting, 1999 (again, another stand-along remake that I can get behind)
  20. The  Birds
  21. The Addams Family
  22. Addams Family Values
  23. Manhunter
  24. Silence of the Lambs
  25. Hannibal
  26. Sleepy Hollow
  27. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  28. The Others
  29. The Sixth Sense
  30. The Corpse Bride
  31. Devil’s Advocate
  32. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  33. Edward Scissorhands
  34. Rocky Horror Picture Show
  35. Beetlejuice
  36. Monsters Inc
  37. The Faculty
  38. I Know What You Did Last Summer
  39. Skeleton Key
  40. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  41. Idle Hands (a friend of mine’s brother is in this one)
  42. Teen Witch
  43. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the Movie
  44. The Worst Witch
  45. Clue
  46. The Lost Boys
  47. The Haunted Mansion
  48. The Good Witch
  49. Once Bitten
  50. What Lies Beneath
  51. The Woman in Black
  52. Flatliners
  53. The Witches
  54. The Village

I’m sure you can tell I’m not big on the gory side of the horror movie genre. You won’t find me watching slasher flicks or movies intended to give you full-on nightmares. I’d never sleep again! But I like suspense and some tamer horror, along with a lot of fun. Last year I watched several of the Goosebumps movies that were on Netflix, and I’m sure I’ll tumble down some b-movie holes a few times over the next few months.

What are your favorite movies for this time of year? Any must-sees that I’ve left off my list, above?

On the Plate 11/30-12/6


Have you hit overwhelm yet, even though it’s only the second week of December? I’ve had a few moments of on-the-bring, myself, but I just remind myself that I’ve got a plan, what needs to will get done, and the rest (probably) won’t matter in the long run.

Part of that plan is, as usual, my menu. Here’s what it looked like last week.

OTP 11-30-12-6 (1)


Monday: Rice & Gandulas-Stuffed Peppers with Turkey Hash
Rice and Gandulas (aka Pigeon Peas) is a Puerto Rican dish Todd makes for our Thanksgiving dinner. It’s next to impossible to make a small amount of, so we always have leftovers. This year I decided to use the leftovers to stuff peppers, topped with a generous helping of cheese. To go with I tossed together a quick hash of potatoes, green onions, and sliced turkey.

Caesar salad with Chicken @ Northside Pies

Caesar salad with Chicken @ Northside Pies

Tuesday: Monthly Beer & Cheer at Northside Pies
The first Tuesday of every month we get together with friends from a local MeetUp group for dinner. Northside Pies does a really nice job of plating their very tasty salads, but this Caesar was not my favorite (their dressing was… different; lots of black pepper and something else that didn’t sit well with me). Still, after the indulgences of the holidays, some green food was definitely a good idea.

Wednesday: Southwestern Rice & Beef Casserole with Green Beans
I’ve had this in my Foodie Goodness pin board for a bit and it seemed like good comfort food now that our weather is turning chilly and somewhat staying that way for a bit. The recipe is from Feeding Big and is very straightforward. If you are not fond of heat, though, you might not want to do what I did in using both the can of green chilies and pepper-jack cheese (our grocery didn’t have plain Monterey jack, just co-jack or pepper jack, I’d go with the co-jack next time).

Notably, the author of Feeding Big was surprised that rice was grown in the US. Are you surprised that US produces its own rice and doesn’t import it all from Asia? I remember reading somewhere, probably during my high school years at the latest, about antebellum rice plantations in the Carolinas, so this doesn’t exactly shock me. But I’m curious, did you know about domestic rice production?

Thursday: Harvest Stuffed Squash with Cilantro-Tahini Sauce
Meatless Thursday? Sure! This recipe (from Food Fitness Fresh Air) was actually better on Friday for lunch than it was Thursday night for dinner. Todd and I agreed on this and decided it was largely in part of the sauce having time to develop a flavor other than the strong raw-sesame seediness of the tahini-based sauce. So if I were to make this again, I would make the sauce the night before at the very least.

Mahi Mahi and Shrimp special at George & Louie's

Mahi Mahi and Shrimp special at George & Louie’s

Friday: George & Louie’s
By the time I got home on Friday I was over it. What in particular? Everything. An old friend passed away, another friend received some scary health news, I hadn’t been sleeping well the last few nights, and I’m waiting on a response for some work stuff that could bring big, awesome changes but still, the waiting. When I got home and the chicken I’d left in the fridge was still playing popsicle, off to George & Louie’s we went. The seafood and fixings totally revived me, putting me in a far better mood for Christmas tree shopping afterwards.

Saturday: Baked Shells with Squash and Chicken
Tasting Table is a great newsletter for keeping up with food trends. Baked Stuffed Shells with Squash and Burrata seemed like a good, filling supper so on the list it went. Unfortunately, jumbo shells are not something I’ve had luck finding in the rice or quinoa pastas, so I used regular-sized shells and just made a casserole of it. The other substitutions were on the lactose-avoidance front–lactose-free cottage cheese (Lactaid brand is carried by our local Publix) is a great substitute for ricotta cheese and I used regular mozzarella balls instead of the burrata. And since I had the chicken out from Friday that I hadn’t used, I quickly cooked that with salt, pepper, and a bit of oregano, diced it up, and mixed it in. It was a great one-dish dinner.

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Sunday: Crock Lemon & Rice Soup with Cheese Toast
We finished out the week with a slow-cooker version of the Greek classic avgolemono soup via Dish About It. It’s a very simple soup and it was a great way to use the rest of the chicken broth I made for Thanksgiving. When it was time to dish it up I realized it was pretty much blending into the soup plates, so I added a bit of parsley to it for color. This would be a very good recipe to keep on hand for the next time you or a loved one are feeling under the weather.

Extreme Halloween Makeover: Hallway Edition

Everyday Adventures

This post is part of any ongoing promotion with Oriental Trading Company. All photos, projects, and opinions are my own.

There are folks out there who turn their home, garages, or yards into haunted houses. Or who sync up running lights to music and put on a real show for the neighborhood (something Todd totally wants to do for Christmas, one day, by the way). This year, I think we’ve stumbled into that territory.

Aside from the outside decor, which anyone passing by can see, the entry way of the home is probably the place you get the most bang for your decorating buck. Trick-or-treaters see it, anyone else who comes to your door sees it, and it’s the first thing guests see when they enter your home for a visit or party. If you have a foyer, vestibule, or entry hall, it’s probably not a massive space, so it’s easier to do some high-impact decorating in this space.

Greetings of the season for sure!

Greetings of the season for sure!

That’s not a scene-setter, folks, that’s a mural I painted onto our entryway wall over the last few weeks.

A few weeks ago I was somewhat bored and restless, and sometimes that translates to a cleaning spree. There was a piece of torn wallpaper in our entryway so I decided I was just going to removed the lifted, damaged bit, just so it wasn’t hanging around being obvious, and we could go back to ignoring the 20+ year old wallpaper that we will eventually be replacing. To my surprise, though, the entire sheet came up with just a little tug.

And a little later I ended up with an expanse of white wall up the first half of our staircase.


The white wall irritated me–it was so plain! It highlighted that we haven’t hung things on the wall. It mocked me.

So I gave it a temporary makeover for the holidays!


A better view of our mural

While there are some more details I want to add (blades of grass, more detailing on the tree), I’m happy with where it is for now and can move onto decorating the rest of our entryway in our customary fashion.

The first focus is the staircase–I cannot tell you how much I love having a banister to decorate for the holidays! I have fond memories of my grandmother’s house at Christmas with stockings for the extended family lining the banister and it’s always been the epitome of holidays to me. Porch railings just aren’t the same, I’ve learned over the years!

A festooned banister makes my heart happy!

A festooned banister makes my heart happy!

Long-time readers might recognize the candy corn garland from several years (and 2 houses) ago as well as last year’s hand-stamped skull ribbon tucked in along with the tatty creepy cloth and black drapey fabric. The paper mache pumpkin is from Marshalls (several years back) and sits in the hollow created by a missing spindle.

Chandeliers need spooking too!

Chandeliers need spooking too!

More of the creepy cloth drapes the arms of our entryway light fixture. The flame-shaped bulbs and drippy-looking candle cover sleeves (the official name, apparently, for the plastic tubes that slip over the lamp bits) work especially well for Halloween, I think!

Of course, also on our stairs are two of our Oriental Trading Company scores.


You can also see some of the rough nature of the mural painting–I tried not to get too precious with it, knowing that it’s temporary.


The little rat silhouettes with their red crystal eyes work just perfectly on the stair treads and along the mural. I used about half the package here, so I have the other half to sprinkle elsewhere in the house, and the double-sided foam adhesive that came with them is super sticky (unlike a major lifestyle brand’s raven silhouettes I purchased several years ago that would never stick with the provided foam dots) and I have every confidence that they won’t scurry off elsewhere before the party in a few weeks.


The glow-in-the-dark footstep clings were a little more of a challenge, but I figured it out. It could be (most likely is) the worn finish of our stair treads (all the wood flooring in the house needs to be refinished some day), but they weren’t automatically receptive to the clings. BUT! Knowing the trick about wetting suction cups to get them to adhere, I decided to swipe the step with a damp paper towel and that totally did the trick. We’ll see if I have to redo any of the spots, but so far, so good. And I kept them to the railing-side of the steps just in case any came loose–I didn’t want to create a hazard on our already treacherous staircase (it has a history… but that’s a story for another post!).

Of course, you want to know if they really glow, right?

Something phosphorescent this way creeps!

Something phosphorescent this way creeps!

They do! Granted, because we’d just set them out they hadn’t gathered enough light to glow very brightly, so to one you see here that’s really standing out is because Todd shined his flashlight on it for a few moments to “charge” the footprint. Pretty cool, right?

Across from the staircase (and between the doorways to the living and my office) we have our console table with our little Halloween village set-up and the motion-activated ghoul mirror.


We’ve amassed quite a bit of the creepy cloth of various hues and use it liberally! It’s so inexpensive and can be used for a lot of things, but I will warn you–the darker versions tend not to be color-fast. My fingertips are usually grey by the time I finish messing with it, so be careful what it’s brushing up against.

jvanderbeek_halloween_2015_decorations-0287Our village is made up of a couple of tin houses (candles will flicker inside them for the party) and an animated Lemax pieces that features a costume contest in progress. Then smaller figures–a mix of craft store and dollar store finds–fill up the rest of the space.


We still need to set up the photo-booth backdrop in the back corner of the entry (a post for next week), but these two areas in our entry hall pretty much set the stage for when guests come by.

Down in the County

Just for Fun

In setting up the shopping cart for the Crafty Branch, I had the unenviable task of designating tax rates by county in the shopping cart (since Georgia requires sales tax reporting by county) and the only way to really do that was by zipcode. Now, let me just say that while some states assign zip codes in reasoned batches, it looks like someone threw all the available codes up in the air and where they landed on the map of Georgia is where they were assigned. And Georgia has 159 counties.

It was a bit of a slog to sort all the codes out and by the time I’d checked and double-checked everything, I might have been a bit punchy. I was also making up little punny phrases with the county names, and that’s where today’s post comes from. I decided (in that same punchy state) that it would be a fun, creative writing exercise to take this list of counties and use as many of them as possible in a story.

This sounded like a better idea when I was in that punchy state of manic productivity. But I’m both stubborn and enjoy a challenge, so here we go! (And if this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to scroll down to the video at the end of this post.)

# # #

“Call Dekalb company so we can head downtown,” Grady Pulaski said to his cousin, Thomas Screven, as he came downstairs.

“Downtown,” the man replied, “I thought were heading to the Rockdale and roll show at the county line?”

“You’ll have to dance the Catoosa with Carroll Wilkes another night, I’m afraid. We’ve been called into a Chattahoochee at City Hall!”

Though Thomas questioned his cousin about the nature of the Early-evening meeting in their sleepy town of Habersham, Grady was not at Liberty to Cherloee any more information as he had none himself.

“Just what the Effingham is going on, here, Elbert?” asked Thomas when they arrived.

“It’s Fayette Irwin and Glynn Randolph, Tom,” the older man replied, “They were out Appling and Peach Pickens on the Banks of the Ben Hill and there were Twiggs all around.They looked Upson into the branches and some Hart-hearted Sumter-other had stripped the trees positive-Lee Berrien!”

“That’s a-Spalding,” Thomas said.

“Isn’t it just?”

“Who would do such a thing?”

“Don’t rightly, know, but they took the Barrow, too, so I doubt they’re from around here.”

“Well, if they’ve gone on a Wheeler, we should be able to catch their Butts before the Hancock crows! Let’s call up the boys!”

Grady called Gwinnett Talbot, Gwinnett called Bryan Rabun, and Bryan called the Clarke twins, Chatham and Dougherty (you always had to call both, because no one could Terrell them apart). Meanwhile, Thomas assembled flashlights, Coffee, and an ample supply of shotguns and shells.

The night air was Crisp and the Fulton moon provided some light between cloud banks as they headed towards the orchard. Under the leaves of the partially-denuded trees was a Warren of limbs and debris. Leaves that were turning from Greene to yellow and red littered the ground. Devastation reigned. The nine people had never seen such devastation in their sleepy little town.

“Don’t Murray, we’ll find ’em,” Grady said, patting Fayette’s shoulder. He Newton that she was worried about Harvest Home, the one time of year people went out of their Clay to head to Habersham instead of the larger cities closer to the Interstate. The fruit that grew in this particular orchard was always a centerpiece of the Harvest Home communal supper, plus raised funds for community improvements through the sale of jams, jellies, butters, and candies. No one owned the orchard, but the entire town took their turns looking out for and after it, in their own way.

“If the Meriwether holds we might still–” Fayette was interrupted by Elbert’s raised hand.

“I thought I Heard something. Everybody be quiet!” Elbert said, his voice a hoarse stage-whisper.

* * *

Across the Ben Hill, Brantley Lanier had a problem and her name was Bleckley Candler. Brantley and Bleckley had been sweethearts since grade school, so no one in Taliaferro was surprised when the couple announced their engagement this summer when Brantley returned from college to run the family farm and “settle down.” It was expected.

It didn’t take Long to plan the wedding, either, as Bleckley and her mama had been storing up goods and favors among their friends for years; the whole thing had come together in a matter of weeks and the wedding day was looming. One week, Brantley thought, just seven days and all this madness will be over.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love her, he’d always loved her, it was, well, it was hard to put into words. Bleckley was, as an only child of the small town’s bank owner is prone to be, a bit spoiled. Still, she had a sweet nature that made up for it, most of the time, but the wedding was bringing out more of the spoilt and less of the sweet. So close to the date, the burner was up on high and the pot had overflowed this evening.

Franklin, Brantley, I don’t give a Camden why it happened, I just want to know how you intend to make it right!” Bleckley, for her part, was entirely ex-Jasper-ated with her fiancee over this latest hitch in their plans. She smoothed her hands down the Bibb of her cupcake-emblazoned apron and and stood as tall as her mere 5 feet would allow her.

“This pains me Morgan you know,” she said, “but you must fix this tonight or don’t expect to come Crawford back to me!” And with that, she turned on her heel and left him stunned, staring after her.

Brantley had been in a hurry to make it to the Candler’s for lunch that day and had, in his haste, forgotten to check that all the outbuildings on the farm were shut up tight. Not only that, but a calf got away from the hands and, that’s how he found himself, now, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing for, he hoped, the right reasons. Never before in his life had he wanted so badly to just pack up and get out of Dodge.

* * *

Nothing but silence Echols in the woods as the search party stood stock still and listened for a long, tense moment. The distant cry of a Calhoun Pierce’d the quiet.

“Maybe we should split up,” Chatham (or was it Dougherty) suggested. “Town’s east and we know no one there did it, so if three of us each go north, west, and south we’ll cover more ground and find the Dooly that did this and get to go home.”

Everyone agreed this sounded like a sensible thing to do, and everyone also agreed that they’d prefer to be doing whatever they usually did on Saturday night instead of being out in the half-dark searching for a fruit thief. So Grady, Thomas, and Early headed north towards Chattooga, a town known for its Polk-a Troup, while the twins and Bryan headed south in the direction of Muscogee with it’s Seminole museum.

Fayette, Glynn, and Gwinnett took the Houston road towards Whitfield and several other towns beyond it, hoping the wouldn’t have to go farther than their own town before someone signaled the search was over. Glynn softly hummed a Treutlan melody–he just couldn’t stand the quiet.

Even though it was the dead of night by now, Fayette and company were not exactly surprised to see Gordon Lumpkin out in his front yard.

“Evenin’ Gordon,” Gwinnett said to his neighbor. “How’re the stars doing tonight?”

“Oh, you know, revolving in their heavens as per the usual.” The man said from behind his telescope lens, Gordon was what the town considered a bit eccentric, with his head in the clouds and stars more than on the ground. Popping up from behind the large piece of equipment, a puzzled look on his face, “Gwinnett? Is that you? What are you doing out so late?”

They explained their mission and asked if he’d seen anyone suspicious that day or evening come by.

“Oh, well, the telescope doesn’t Burke as well pointed at the road, you know. Schley, have you talked to Floyd Henry? He was awful Madison ran off with that Monroe girl from Mitchell, last Harvest Home, and vowed revenge. He’s the type to hold a grudge you know.”

They nodded, reminded of the scene at last year’s festival. Floyd’s son, Oglethorpe, Oggie for short, has made a fuss over his father pushing him to propose to Columbia Clayton, the girl he’d been sorta courtin’ over the last year. But Oggie was having none of it, claiming he and Laurens Monroe were headed off to Vegas that very night, and if he didn’t see another apple pie or peach cobbler in his life it would be too soon! Can you imagine? No one ever thought Columbia was the Marion kind.

Bryan and the twins had, predictably, run into no one on their road, and saw no signs that anyone had been this way in quite a while. They were debating turning around and heading home when a voice boomed out of the darkness.

“Just Ware do you think you’re goin’?”

Lamar Oconee, White moonlight bounced off his Baldwin pate, was leveling his own shotgun at the backs of the three. “Turner around slowly and let me see who dares disturb my peace and quiet!”

Knowning not to take any chances with trigger-happy Lamar, the boys slowly turned around and smiled sheepishly at the older man. They’d plum forgot that Oconee patrolled his boundaries in the middle of the night to discourage cow-tipping teens. Used to be he could trust Forsyth to sound the alarm, but he’d been watch-Douglas since the hound had passed last spring.

“Oh it’s just you. What in the Tattnall are you doing out here at this hour.” A disgusted “Harumph” had been Lamar’s only response after the twins told the story of the missing orchard bounty. The four stood around awkwardly, one shotgun still raised, before Lamar relented.

“No one’s been through here for a while, I’ve been watching. You go get back home, now.”

They didn’t argue.

That left Grady, Thomas, and Elbert. They were just coming upon the Union bridge which connected Taliaferro with Habersham.

It was an old joke to some and a sore spot to many, that bridge, but all agreed the irony in the name was not lost on them. The two Towns on either side of the river could never agree who really had rights to the fertile ground on its banks, resulting in a decades-old Tift between former friends and neighbors. The official records were a tangle of handwritten back-and-forths and oral agreements. It was like a game of telephone that had been going on for decades and the messages were, indeed, garbled.

Grady was the first one to spot it. A shiny red apple at the foot of the bridge.

They picked up their pace as they came the bridge and small a small trail of peaches and apples leading across to the other side in the Wayne-ing light of the moon. They hurried along,

“Stop!” Grady hollered as a man crossed the beam of a street lamp and froze in place. Brantley looked over his shoulder, saw the unfamiliar men (with guns!) charging after him and picked up his own pace! From a dead stop he sprinted towards the nearest home, jostling the wheelbarrow of fruit, his spoils thudding to the ground, and banged on the front door of the home.

“Help! Help! Call the Cobbs!” Brantley shouted.

“No need, gentlemen, I’m already here! Jefferson “Jeff” Davis, sheriff and would-be feudal lord of Taliaferro emerged from the shadows. A porch swing with a haze of tobacco smoke was now visible as it swung gently as the man rose. “What’s this, Habershams in my town, Haralson our good people?”

“That’s Bulloch, and you know it! If anyone, it’s us who’s Harrised” Elbert wheezed, bending over to rest his hands (and shotgun) on his knees. “That man’s a Brooks, took almost all the fruit from the orchard on the other side of the Ben Hill. Our side.”

“Your side, you say,” the sheriff said. “You know as well as anyone, Elbert Atkinson, that both sides of the Ben Hill belong to Taliaferro.”

A Gilmer of hope shone in the Colquitt‘s eyes.

“I know no such thing. The river devides our towns, we take care of that orchard, and you know we harvest it for our fall festival every year!”

“That you care for the land may be true, but you know good an well there’s no enforceable deed on it. But if you insist on thundering around our town armed and dangerous, you’ll find yourself before Judge Glascock on Monday morning.”

“The Jones you say,” Thomas thundered. “Lowndes sakes, man! We’re Putnam in the pokey! He’ll be in front of our Judge on Monday. Not the other way around. What do you have to say for yourself”

Brantley, who’d been watching the exchange like a tennis match, was once again the center of the attention. He should have run while the strangers and the sheriff were sparring.

His mother’s words rang in his head: what a Webster we weave, when first we practice to deceive. The man sighed and tried to explain, “See, my Coweta bunch of the Dade-gum McIntosh apples and Decatur-er said she needed all this fruit or there wouldn’t be a party Worth having! And if I don’t fix this, well, instead of a wedding they’ll be laying me in my Toombs!”

Elbert eyed the young man up and down. “Ain’t you ever heard of a grocery store?”

* * *

The smell of frying Bacon wafted in through the window from Emanuel‘s diner a block away, and the smell of yeasty bread came from the Bakery across the street. Once the rest of the search party had arrived in front of Davis’ home, with their own Deputy Stephens McDuffie in tow, the two officers had a terse conversation and agreed that, at the very least, Brantley was probably guilty of theft of the wheelbarrow, though the fruit was another matter.

So he sat, feeling like a Pike was running through his head from a restless night, on a slightly padded cot in the Habersham jail.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to Bartow my way out of this one, he thought.

Wilkinson Candler walked into the small sheriff’s station of Habersham and made a beeline for the single cell with Brantley in it, Bleckley close on his heels. “Well, son, what do you have to say for yourself?”

The bride-to-be pushed by her father to reach through the bars. “Thank ‘Evans you’re all right, honey! What ever possessed you to steel a wheelbarrow? What were you Lincoln?!” The switch from elation to berating gave the young man a case of mental whiplash.

The door opened again, this time it was Sheriff Charlton Montgomery along with Fayette, Glynn, Grady, Thomas, and Elbert.

“Gentlemen” Wilkinson voice ricocheted around the small room, “and ma’am” he nodded at Fayette, “this is all just a little misunderstanding. Don’t you think the poor boy’s been punished enough, spending the day and night in jail. Quaint though it may be.”

Early eyed him warily, “Nothing wrong with some time in the Clinch to Stewart over what he done.”

The sheriff held up a hand to each party, “Now, now, Wilcox out the truth of the situation just as soon as we get everyone’s statements taken.”

“What’s there to take statements on? The boy borrowed a wheelbarrow to transport so wild produce, the wheelbarrow has been returned, why can’t we simple Washington our hands of the whole silly thing?”

“Sheriff,” Bleckley spoke up, “Brantley was just trying to please me and I may have been a little insistent on the subject after that unfortunate incident with the barn door on Saturday was discovered. My Cook needs this week to prepare the pies and pastries for our wedding on Friday, and I need my groom for his final tuxedo fitting at noon at the Taylors. We’ve got people coming in from three cities for this wedding and I simply don’t know what I’ll do if word gets out Brantley spent the night in jail. Over fruit!” She started sniffing into a lace-edged handkerchief that appeared as if by magic.”

Everyone knew that, of the three cities the Taliaferro daughter referred to, none of the guests were from Habersham and felt less sympathy for the girl than she’d obviously hoped to engender.

Wilkinson rocked back on his heels a bit, hands in pockets, looking expectantly at the local lawman expecting to get his was as many a Richmond was used to doing.

Finally the sheriff spoke. “There’s still the matter of the apples and peaches to settle.”

“Really, you’ve got to stop Jenkins people around about that orchard. It belongs to no one so how can anyone steal from it?”

“But what about Harvest Home,” Fayette said, “What about our town? You can’t just Walker in here and pretend like that doesn’t mean anything.” Her face was red from frustration, and Glynn was Fannin her with a nearby flyer, trying to keep her from expiring then and there. “It’s just not Telfair!”

At least the banker had the decency to look a little chagrinned at her outburst.

The telephone on the Sheriff’s desk broke the tension in the room. After a brief, conversation, he hung up and addressed the room.

“Okay, folks, this is how it’s gonna all go down. Glynn, Jackson his way with the county records, including what Quitman claims we have regarding the land the orchard stands on. Now, we all know there’s a Miller paperwork Walton on the one key to figure it out. That might not happen today, so, Brantley, I’m going to let you out of here but you are not to leave town.”

“But our honeymoon!” Bleckley said, “We’re leaving for two week’s at Johnson falls on Sunday.”

“Wilkinson, unless you want an outlaw for a Dawson-in-law, I suggest you make other arrangements for her.”

# # #

Okay then! That was… a bit tougher than I expected (it was those last 25 counties, man, they were brutal to shoehorn in!) and, yes, it’s a bit nebulous there at the ending. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a version without the county names littered throughout and actually figure out where it goes from there. But not today.

I hope if you actually read this far that you enjoyed the silliness of it all. I also hope you’ll consider taking up this challenge yourself!

Do you know how many counties (parishes for our Louisiana friends) are in your state? Could you use all of them in a story? If you do, please, please, please let me know that you did and if you have it posted anywhere send me a link. Madness, like misery, loves company.

And speaking of county fun, last week we headed to a neighboring town in our own county to check out the 3rd Annual Witches Night Out in Boston, Georgia. Here, have a vlog about it:

(Direct link for the feed readers: Witches Night Out in Boston, GA)

Helmar Share: Thanksgiving Centerpiece

In The Studio

The Victorians were known for their ability to combine widely different patterns and make them work together. I’m not sure I’ve got the hang of it just yet with the pink rose wallpaper and our grapevine runner, but I’ll get there.

Something about finally being settled here at the Gingerbread Dollhouse makes me want to decorate all the things. Sure, the wallpaper in the foyer needs replacing, the floors need refinishing, and everything else needs painting, but I can live with the naturally-aged, shabby-chic-ness of it all for the near future, as long as we’re seasonally appropriate!

One other thing I’ll say, in deference to closed-plan homes, is that it’s very nice to have an actual entry hall with little of the living space visible from the front door. It’s so much easier to keep one relatively-narrow strip of the home guest-ready should someone knock on the door than worry about what’s piled up on the sofa. Having our console table in the hallway creates the perfect spot for a seasonal centerpiece (because our Thanksgiving table will have food as the centerpieces) and I’m challenging myself to come up with a new one each holiday.

This one has the look of a farmers’ market, to me, so to assemble your own Marketplace Centerpiece you’ll need:

  • 2 pieces of Styrofoam (upcycled packing material is great for this!)
  • Helmar Foam Glue
  • Skewers or toothpicks
  • Burlap ribbon, 6″ wide or better
  • Fall floral picks, faux acorns and pumpkins
  • Helmar Quick Dry 450
  • Lace and punchinella scraps
  • Ribbon
  • Ouchless Cardboard
  • Pens, Stickers, and Washi Tape

To see how that all comes together, check out my Marketplace Centerpiece post on the Helmar Blog.

Hope everyone that celebrates has a fabulous Thanksgiving tomorrow. If you choose to be part of the crowds on Black Friday, well, good luck! I’ll be cozy on my couch with some project or another but you go right on ahead!