Thursday, April 30, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay

Pumpkin Spice Peril (Cupcake Bakery Mystery Book 12) by [Jenn McKinlay]
Welcome!  It is hard to believe that it is the last day of April.  Their Mountain Reunion by Patricia Johns releases on May 1 (digital version).  It is the first book in The Second Chance Club series.  The Farm Stand by Amy Clipston comes out May 5 along with The Trustworthy One by Shelley Shepard Gray.  If you are looking for a crime thriller, check out Killing Mind by Angela Marsons.  It is the 12th novel in a DI Kim Stone series.  
Cupcake Shops | the treat girl: A Cupcake Shop in Delray Beach!
My Summary

Pumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay has Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura, the owners of Fairy Tale Cupcakes, preparing cupcakes for the upcoming exhibit at Desert Winds Gallery for glass artist, Rene Fischer-Klein.  Rene’s husband, Peter stops by every Friday to pick up cupcakes for his wife.  When he stops by later that day, Peter tells Melanie that Rene has not been herself lately and he is worried about her.  When Melanie sees Rene for their appointment, she agrees with Peter.  Rene even accuses Melanie of coveting her husband, Peter.  Melanie leaves her a 4-pack of pumpkin spice cupcakes and quickly departs.  Unfortunately, Rene dies before her exhibit and Melanie finds herself on the suspect list.  Melanie needs to tread carefully while investigating Rene’s death because the local chief of police seems to have it out for her.  Can Melanie find the culprit before business at the bakery is affected?  
Dale Chihuly – Chandelier – Canals of Venice
Dale Chihuly--Chandelier--Canals of Venice
My Thoughts

Pumpkin Spice Peril is the 12th A Cupcake Bakery Mystery.  Each book can be read on its own, but you will be missing out on some delightful stories.  I thought Pumpkin Spice Peril was well-written with developed characters.   Angie Harper and Melanie Cooper have come a long way since Sprinkle with Murder.  Angie is married to Tate and they are trying to conceive.  Joe DeLaura and Melanie are engaged, and they are looking forward to their nuptials.  Marty enjoys his job at the bakery and is dating the bakeries  rival, Olivia.  Oz has perfected his baking prowess and is a valuable member of their team.  I enjoy the descriptions of Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona and the creative people who work in the area.  The book is filled with activity.  Angie learns some surprising news which has her protective brothers (seven of them) rushing to the bakery. It also has Melanie on her own in this investigation.  The local police chief wonders how Melanie keeps stumbling over dead bodies.  He intends to have a formal investigation launched into all the past cases that Melanie was involved in.  Uncle Stan can only do so much to protect Melanie.  One of the DeLaura brother’s is dating and he is keeping the ladies name to himself.  You know the family is going to find out.  We also get to learn more about the most secretive DeLaura brother.  Oz gets a new haircut, has mysterious appointments and is wearing a suit.  Melanie gives Oz his privacy, but she has an idea what is behind the sudden changes.  The mystery of who poisoned Rene has several suspects including her husband and a rival glass artist.  One clue will give you the answer if you pay close attention to the details.  I love the movie quotes that the group use.  I like the quirkiness it adds to the story.  I enjoyed the word imagery of the beautiful glass sculpture.  It sounded amazing.  Plenty of cupcakes are consumed in this tale.  Melanie needs to keep up her strength and deal with all the drama.  One situation calls for a cupcake in each hand.  There are recipes at the end for the yummy creations.  Pumpkin Spice Peril is an engaging cozy mystery with tempting treats, a glorious glass creation, a perilous poison, a remarkable remake, busy brothers, and an amazing announcement.  
Some fall deliciousness for your Thursday���� Sneak peek of our fall menu, gorgeous photos by @rob__drago #whiteflowercakeshoppe #cakedecorating #cakesofig #igcakes #buttercreamlove #flowercupcakes
Pumpkin Spice Peril is available from Amazon* along with the eleven books in A Cupcake Bakery Mystery seriesJenn McKinlay also writes A Hat Shop Mystery series (fun series set in London) and A Library Lover's Mystery series.  Jenn McKinlay's next release is the 11th A Library Lover's Mystery titled One for the Books which releases September 1.  To see more of Dale Chihuly's art installations, click here (they are gorgeous). I will be featuring Best Behavior by Wendy Francis tomorrow.  It is a family drama with a modern family going through a tense seventy-two hours celebrating the twins college graduation.  I hope that you have an uplifting day.  Take care, stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

It's only a problem if you don't drink coffee ;) #reading over #sleeping #booknerd

15 hilarious images you'll understand if you stay up late reading.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

God Sees Her by Our Daily Bread: Review & Giveaway!

About the Book

Book:  God Sees Her

Author: Our Daily Bread

Genre:  Devotional

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Following the overwhelming success and rave reviews of God Hears Herwe’re bringing you another devotional written by women for women to reassure you that God is with you. God Sees Her is a beautifully styled gift book containing 366 meditations with accompanying Scripture that speak to the heart of women.

The title comes from a story in an Old Testament book of the Bible—Genesis—where Hagar is on the run, alone in the desert with nowhere to go. The angel of the Lord finds her and calls her by name. After this encounter, Hagar exclaimed, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). Women today need this same assurance . . . God sees you, God knows you by name, and God cares about every detail of your life.

Let these short Our Daily Bread devotionals written by women like you wash over your soul and remind you each day that God is near. The handy size, ribbon marker, and decorative cover make it perfect for gift giving to your girlfriends too.

Click here for your copy.

If you're looking for Bible journaling ideas, I have 25 bible journal pages to share.Bible journaling is the art of keeping visually creative notes in your bible. Bible journaling allows you to read and study the word of God in a fun and unique way.
More About God Sees Her

This is a follow up to the successful 365-devotional, God Hears Her. So far, it’s moved more than 200,000 copies.
Bible Journaling With Me- Watercolor Hearts - Scribbling Grace
My Thoughts

God Sees Her by Our Daily Bread is a heartwarming devotional.  I like how each devotion has a story or experience with related scripture with it all tied together.  They help a woman get through each day with food for thought.  The devotionals are encouraging and positive.  I also thought they were meaningful, relevant to life today, and thought provoking.  It is nice that each one is short and easy to read, but the message will stay with you throughout the day.  I like the variety of authors who provided the devotions in this book which gives us different perspectives.  This compact devotional has a lovely cover with a ribbon bookmark.  God Sees Her is a great way to start the day. 

To celebrate their tour, Our Daily Bread is giving away the grand prize package of a God Sees Her hardcover, God Hears Her leather-like, God Hears Her journal, God Hears Her CD, God Hears Her pen, and God Hears Her Scripture & Encouragement cards.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway. Click here to enter.  Good Luck!  God Sees Her is available from Amazon* in ebook and hardcover.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I will return with Pumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay.  It is the 12th A Cupcake Bakery Mystery starring Angie and Melanie.  I hope you have an inspiring day.  Take care, stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops
The Avid Reader, April 29
Emily Yager, May 1
You are beloved
Remembrancy, May 2
Genesis 5020, May 6
amandainpa, May 7
Hallie Reads, May 9
Nancy E Wood, May 10
25 ideas book art fantasy beautiful for 2019 #book #art
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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Murder in the Storybook Cottage by Ellery Adams

Murder in the Storybook Cottage (Book Retreat Mysteries #6)
Story Book Forest - Ligonier, Pennsylvania by Vintage Roadside, via Flickr
Murder in the Storybook Cottage by Ellery Adams has Jane Steward busy preparing for the upcoming Peppermint Press Conference for children’s authors and illustrators at Storyton Hall.  She also has the first Golden Ticket winners arriving the next day and Jane wants to make sure that the Gilbert family have a magical vacation.  Jane has a special surprise for the Cover Girls (her book club).  They take a sleigh ride to the new Storybook Village which will open to children of all ages on Friday.  The ladies are delighted with the fairy tale houses and the activities available in each one until they stumble upon a woman in a red cloak with a basket nearby laying on the floor of Belle’s house.  There is a valuable copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the basket.  Jane is shocked when a couple of a days later another woman turns up dead in the woods wearing a blue parka with white fur trim with a copy of Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen left in her room. Jane and her loyal Fins needs to catch the Fairy Tale Killer before he strikes again.   
Cutest little house.. would be the perfect vacation spot
The Hansel and Gretel House
Murder in the Storybook Cottage is the delightful 6th installment in A Book Retreat Mystery series.  It can be read on its own for those new to this book themed series.  It is a joy to visit Storyton Hall in Storyton, Virginia with all the fabulous books, special events and scrumptious food.  I love the books, authors and literary characters mentioned throughout the story.  My favorite was Raggedy Ann and the Lucky Pennies (I collect Raggedy Ann items).  Storyton Village is a magical addition to the resort with the adorable fairy tale themed little cottages.  There is the gingerbread house, Rapunzel’s tower, Belle’s house, and Rumpelstiltskin’s workshop (just to name a few).  There are enchanting events for the guests to attend at Storyton Hall including the colorful Rainbow Tea and the Family Valentine’s Celebration.  I thought Murder in the Storybook Cottage was well-written with developed characters and special setting.  It is rich in detail that allows the reader to visualize the captivating setting.   I always enjoy reading each A Book Retreat Mystery to catch up with the characters who inhabit this world.  Jane’s twin boys are up to their usual mischief, Eugenia Pratt’s beau is coming to town and he has big news to share with her, Lachlan has something special planned for Valentine’s Day for his girlfriend and Jane’s bestie, Eloise Alcott.  The mystery was intriguing with its fairy tale theme.  There are a variety of suspects including a very dislikeable couple who write children’s books.  I enjoyed the misdirection as well as following the clues to find out why someone killed the two women.  My favorite quote from Murder in the Storybook Cottage is when Jane was saying the ladies did not read the books for happy endings.  “It was the journey they were interested in--the voyage from the first page to the last.” There is a hint at what will occur in the next A Book Retreat Mystery at the end.  Murder in the Storybook Cottage is a diverting cozy mystery with fairy tale fun, wonderful Wonka Bars, a terrible twosome, a clever killer, fun family festivities, and bibliophile bliss.
Story Book Forest, Ligonier, Pennsylvania | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Murder in the Storybook Cottage is available from Amazon* (click here for other options).  You can find the other five books in A Book Retreat Mystery series hereMurder in the Mystery Suite (Book One) is currently available on Amazon (digital version) for $2.99 (please verify price before purchase).  Ellery Adams also writes A Secret, Book and Scone Society series.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I am participating in the Celebrate Lit Tour for God Sees Her by Our Daily Bread.  I hope you have a positive day.  Take care, stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Reading Little Red Riding Hood (ilustraciĆ³n de Kristin Kwan)
Little Red Riding Hood reading book after defeating the wolf

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Monday, April 27, 2020

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman: Review & Excerpt

About the Book
In this heartwarming and feel-good novel filled with echoes of Dorothea Benton Frank, Debbie Macomber and Elizabeth Berg, two women separated by a generation but equally scarred by war find hope, meaning – and each other – through a garden of heirloom flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to loneliness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind a towering fence surrounding her home and gardens, the former botanist has built a new family...of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to an heirloom garden filled with starts – and memories – of her own mother, grandmother, husband and daughter.

When Abby Peterson moves to Grand Haven, Michigan, with her family – a husband traumatized during his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability – they find themselves next door to Iris, and are slowly drawn into her reclusive neighbour's life where, united by loss and a love of flowers, Iris and Abby slowly unearth their secrets to each other. Eventually, the two teach one another that the earth grounds us all, gardens are a grand healer, and as flowers bloom so do our hopes and dreams.

About the Author
Viola Shipman is the pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother's name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his writing. Rouse is the author of The Summer Cottage, as well as The Charm Bracelet and The Hope Chest which have been translated into more than a dozen languages and become international bestsellers. He lives in Saugatuck, Michigan and Palm Springs, California, and has written for People, Coastal Living, Good Housekeeping, and Taste of Home, along with other publications, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.
Request free seed catalogs to plan your spring garden!
 Author Links

Twitter: @viola_shipman

Instagram: @viola_shipman

Inside the greenhouse, dry-laid brick floors allow excess water to soak into the ground, while a long counter affords plenty of space for starting seeds and potting up containers. Window shelves are lined with plants, while potting soil and supplies are stashed under the counter.
My Thoughts

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman has Iris Maynard living alone in her home alone after the loss of her husband and daughter for the last six decades.  She spends her time taking care of her beautiful heirloom garden.  Iris then rents the cottage next door to a woman with a husband recently returned from Iraq and an inquisitive little girl.  The Peterson’s remind Iris of how her family used to be before her husband died during World War II and her little girl from illness.  Abby and Iris become friends.  They find they have much in common especially a love of flowers.  Can they help each other heal and discover that not one minute of a life should be wasted?  The Heirloom Garden is well-written with relatable characters and incidents.  Iris Maynard lost the two most precious people in her life.  She erected a tall fence around her property and stays behind those walls.  Iris has her heirloom garden to keep her company.  Each flower holds a special memory.  Gardeners will enjoy the beautiful descriptions of the flowers.  They are heirloom varieties that include roses, irises, lilies, daylilies, bleeding hearts and so much more.  We learn the meaning of each flower (the language of flowers) as well as how they were propagated and how to care for them.  Iris’s garden sounded magical (it would also send my allergies into overdrive).  I like how each chapter was titled after a different flower which was then featured.  The story alternates point-of-view between Iris and Abby.  It also goes between past (begins in 1944) and present (2003) to tell each woman’s story.  The Heirloom Garden is confusing in the beginning, but, once you get into it, it becomes easier. The pacing is gentle (not slow or fast) which suits the story.   Abby Peterson is a chemical engineer who is developing a special marine paint and was hired by a local company.  Her husband, Cory came home a different man from Iraq.  He spends his days drinking and sleeping.  Lily is a curious little girl who is quick to make Iris’s acquaintance.  Lily was a delightful addition to the story.  She added lightness and humor.  The two homes are Sears kit homes (I would love to live in one).  The author provided good information on the homes and I enjoyed the vivid word imagery.  I like how the two story lines were blended and came together for a special ending.   The Heirloom Garden is a heartening story with a cheeky child, a gorgeous garden, paint problems, a gripping grief, special seeds, a worried wife, a dispirited soldier, and marvelous memories.
Nicole Wong, Gardener and Cat


We are an army, too.

I stop, lean against my hoe and watch the other women working the earth. We are all dressed in the same outfits—overalls and sunhats—all in uniforms just like our husbands and sons overseas.  Fighting for the same cause, just in different ways.  
A soft summer breeze wafts down Lake Avenue in Grand Haven, Michigan, gently rustling rows of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beets and peas. I analyze my tiny plot of earth at the end of my boots in our neighborhood’s little Victory Garden, admiring the simple beauty of the red arteries running through the Swiss chard’s bright green leaves and the kale-like leaves sprouting from the bulbs of kohlrabi. I smile with satisfaction at their bounty and my own ingenuity. I had suggested our little Victory Garden utilize these vegetables, since they are easy-to-grow staples.

“Easier to grow without weeds.”  I look up, and Betty Wiggins is standing before me.  If you put a gray wig on Winston Churchill, I think, you’d have Betty Wiggins, the self-appointed commander of our Victory Garden.  “Just thinking,” I say.  “You can do that at home,” she says with a frown.  I pick up my hoe and dig at a weed. “Yes, Betty.”
Veronica Lake (1922-1973) tends her WWll Victory Garden sporting coiled braids and a nautical frock. S)
She stares at me, before eyeing the front of my overalls. “Nice rose,” Betty says, her frown drooping even farther. “Do we think we’re Vivien Leigh today?”  “No, ma’am,” I say. “Just wanted to lift my spirits.”  “Lift them at home,” she says, a glower on her face. Her eyes stop on the hyacinth brooch I have pinned on my overalls and then move ever so slowly to the Bakelite daisy earrings on my earlobes.

I look at Betty, hoping she might understand I need to be enveloped by things that make me feel safe, happy and warm, but she walks away with a “Hrumph!”  I hear stifled laughter. I look over to see my friend Shirley mimicking Betty’s ample behind and lumbering gait. The women around her titter.  “Do we think we’re Vivien Leigh today?” Shirley mimics in Betty’s baritone. “She wishes.”  “Stop it,” I say.
A tour through the history of vegetable gardening, from hunter-gatherers to the modern victory garden, illustrated.
“It’s true, Iris,” Shirley continues in a Shakespearian whisper. “The back ends of the horses in Gone with the Wind are prettier than Betty.”  “She’s right,” I say. “I’m not paying enough attention today.”
I suddenly grab the rose I had plucked from my garden this morning and tucked into the front pocket of my overalls, and I toss it into the air. Shirley leaps, stomping a tomato plant in front of her, and grabs the rose midair.

“Stop it,” she says. “Don’t you listen to her.”  She sniffs the rose before tucking the peach-colored petals into my pocket again.  “Nice catch,” I say.  “Remember?” Shirley asks with a wink.  The sunlight glints through leaves and limbs of the thick oaks and pretty sugar maples that line the small plot that once served as our cottage association’s baseball diamond in our beachfront park. I am standing roughly where third base used to be, the place I first locked eyes with my husband, Jonathan. He had caught a towering pop fly right in front of the makeshift bleachers and tossed it to me after making the catch.
“Wasn’t the sunlight that blinded me,” he had said with a wink. “It was your beauty.”  I thought he was full of beans, but Shirley gave him my number. I was home from college at Michigan State for the summer, he was still in high school, and the last thing I needed was a boyfriend, much less one younger than I was. But I can still remember his face in the sunlight, his perfect skin and a light fuzz on his cheeks that were the color of a summer peach.

In the light, soft white floaties dance in the air like miniature clouds. I follow their flight. My daughter, Mary, is holding a handful of dandelions and blowing their seeds into the air.  For one brief moment, my mind is as clear as the sky. There is no war, only summer, and a little girl playing. “You know more about plants than anybody here,” Shirley continues, knocking me from my thoughts. “You should be in charge here, not Betty. You’re the one that had us grow all these strange plants.”
Original 1940's WWII Victory Garden Photo
“Flowers,” I say. “Not plants. My specialty is really flowers.”  “Oh, don’t be such a fuddy-duddy, Iris,” Shirley says. “You’re the only woman I know who went to college. You should be using that flower degree.”  “It’s botany. Actually, plant biology with a specialty in botanical gardens and nurseries,” I say. I stop, feeling guilty. “I need to be at home,” I say, changing course. “I need to be here.”

Shirley stops hoeing and looks at me, her eyes blazing. She glances around to ensure the coast is clear and then whispers, “Snap your cap, Iris. I know you think that’s what you should be saying and doing, but we all know better.” She stares at me for a long time. “The war will be over soon. These war gardens will go away, too. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Use your brain. That’s why God gave it to you.” She grins. “I mean, your own garden looks like a lab experiment.” She stops and laughs. “You’re not only wearing one of your own flowers, you’re even named after one! It’s in your genes.”
I smile. Shirley is right. I have been obsessed with flowers for as long as I can remember. My Grandma Myrtle was a gifted gardener as was my mom, Violet. I had wanted to name my own daughter after a flower to keep that legacy, but that seemed downright crazy to most folks. We lived next door to Grandma in cottages with adjoining gardens for years, houses my grandfather and father worked themselves to an early grave to pay off, and now they were all gone, and I rented my grandma’s house to a family whose son was in the coast guard.
Sears Maplewood in Highland Park, IL. Built 1930.
Sears kit home in Highland Park
But my garden was now filled with their legacy. Nearly every perennial I possessed originally began in my mom and grandma’s gardens. My grandma taught me to garden on her little piece of heaven in Highland Park overlooking Lake Michigan. And much of my childhood was spent with my mom and grandma in their cottage gardens, the daylilies and bee balm towering over my head. When it got too hot, I would lie on the cool ground in the middle of my grandma’s woodland hydrangeas, my back pressed against her old black mutt, Midnight, and we’d listen to the bees and hummingbirds buzzing overhead. My grandma would grab my leg when I was fast asleep and pretend that I was a weed she was plucking. “That’s why you have to weed,” she’d say with a laugh, tugging on my ankle as I giggled. “They’ll pop up anywhere.”
Food Supply Anxiety Brings Back Victory Gardens - The New York Times
My mom and I would walk her gardens, and she’d always say the same thing as she watered and weeded, deadheaded and cut flowers for arrangements. “The world is filled with too much ugliness—death, war, poverty, people just being plain mean to one another. But these flowers remind us there’s beauty all around us, if we just slow down to nurture and appreciate it.”

Grandma Myrtle would take her pruners and point around her gardens. “Just look around, Iris. The daisies remind you to be happy. The hydrangeas inspire us to be colorful. The lilacs urge us to breathe deeply. The pansies reflect our own images back at us. The hollyhocks show us how to stand tall in this world. And the roses—oh, the roses!—they prove that beauty is always present even amongst the thorns.”
A great old victory garden picture!
The perfumed scent of the rose in my pocket lingers in front of my nose, and I pluck it free and raise it to my eyes.  My beautiful Jonathan rose.  I’d been unable to sleep the past few years or so, and—to keep my mind occupied—I’d been hybridizing roses and daylilies, cross-pollinating different varieties, experimenting to get new colors or lusher foliage. I had read about a peace rose that was to be introduced in America—a rose to celebrate the Nazis leaving France, which was just occurring—and I sought to re-create my own version to celebrate my husband’s return home. It was a beautiful mix of white, pink, yellow and red roses, which had resulted in a perfect peach.

I remember Jon again, as a young man, before war, and I try to refocus my mind on the little patch of Victory Garden before me, willing myself not to cry. My mind wanders yet again to my own.
Photographic Print: Woman Gardening by H. Armstrong Roberts : 24x18in
My home garden is marked by stakes of my experiments, flags denoting what flowers I have mixed with others. And Shirley says my dining room looks like the hosiery aisle at Woolworths. Since the war, no one throws anything away, so I use my old nylons to capture my flowers’ seeds. I tie them around my daylily stalks and after they bloom, I break off the stem, capture and count the seeds, which I plant in my little greenhouse. I track how many grow. If I’m pleased with a result, I continue. If I’m not, I give them away to my neighbors.
RX_1705_Daylily Garden Border
I fill my Big Chief tablets like a banker fills his ledger:

1943-Yellow Crosses
Little Bo Beep = June Bug x Beautiful Morning
(12 seeds/5 planted)
Purple Plum = Magnifique x Moon over Zanadu
(8 seeds/4 planted)
Big Chief Tablets   and what about paste with the little brush in it?
I shut my eyes and can see my daylilies and roses in bloom. Shirley once asked me how I had the patience to wait three years to see how many of my lilies actually bloomed. I looked at her and said, “Hope.” And it’s true: we have no idea how things are going to turn out. All we can do is hope that something beautiful will spring to life at any time.
Peace - Witherspoon Rose Culture
Peace Rose
I open my eyes and look at Shirley. She is right about the war. She is right about my life. But that life seems like a world away, just like my husband.  “Mommy! Mommy!”  Mary races up, holding her handful of dandelions with white tops.  “What do you have?” I ask.  “Just a bunch of weeds.”

I stop, lean against my hoe and look at my daughter. In the summer sunlight, her eyes are the same violet color as Elizabeth Taylor’s in National Velvet.  “Those aren’t weeds,” I say.
Dandelions Photograph - Moment Of Tenderness by The Art Of Marilyn Ridoutt-Greene
“Yes, they are!” Mary says. She puts her hands on her hips. With her father gone, she has become a different person. She is openly defiant and much too independent for a girl of six. “Teacher said so.”
I lean down until I’m in front of her face. “Technically, yes, but we can’t just label something that easily.” I take a dandelion from her hand. “What color are these when they bloom?”  “Yellow,” she says.  “And what do you do with them?” I ask.  “I make chains out of them, I put them in my hair, I tuck them behind my ears…” she says, her excitement making her sound out of breath.
Make a Daisy Chain or Flower Crown! – A Magical Childhood
“Exactly,” I say. “And what do we do with them now, after they’ve bloomed?”  “Make wishes,” she says. Mary holds up her bouquet of dandelions and blows as hard as she can, sending white floaties into the air.  “What did you wish for?” I ask.  “That Daddy would come home today,” she says.

“Good wish,” I say. “Want to help me garden?”  “I don’t want to get my hands dirty!” “But you were just on the ground playing with your friends,” I say. “Ring-around-the-rosy.” Mary puts her hands on her hips.  “Mrs. Roosevelt has a Victory Garden,” I say.
Eleanor Roosevelt's WWII Victory Garden
Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden
She looks at me and stands even taller, hooking her thumbs behind the straps of her overalls, which are just like mine.  “I don’t want to get dirty,” she says again.  “Don’t you want to do it for your father?” I ask. “He’s at war, keeping us safe. This Victory Garden is helping to feed our neighbors.”
Mary leans toward me, her eyes blazing. “War is dumb.” She stops. “Gardens are dumb.” She stops. I know she wants to say something she will regret, but she is considering her options. Then she glares at me and yells, “Fathead!”

Before I can react, Mary takes off, sprinting across the lot, jumping over plants as if she’s a hurdler. “Mary!” I yell. “Come back here!”  “She’s a handful,” Shirley clucks. “Reminds me of someone.” “Gee, thanks,” I say.

Mary rejoins her friends, jumping back into the circle to play ring-around-the-rosy, turning around to look at me on occasion, her violet eyes already filled with remorse. 

A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.
Seriously- “Ring Around the Rosie” is NOT about Plague –
“I hate that game,” I say to Shirley. “It’s about the plague.” I return to hoeing, lost in the dirt, moving in sync with my army of gardeners, when I hear, “I’m sorry, Mommy.” I look up, and Mary is before me, her chin quivering, lashes wet, fat tears vibrating in the rims of her eyes. “I didn’t mean to call you a fathead. I didn’t mean to get into a rhubarb with you.”

Fathead. Rhubarb. Where is she picking up this language already?  From behind her back, she produces another bouquet of dandelions that have gone to seed. “I accept your apology,” I say. “Thank you.” “Make a wish,” she says.
Victory Garden Revivalism - Vintage Kitchen Vixen
I shut my eyes and blow. As I inhale, the scent of my Jonathan rose fills my senses. The rumble of a car engine shatters the silence. A door slams, followed by another, and I open my eyes. The silhouettes of two men appear on the perimeter of the field, as foreboding as the old oaks. I notice the wind suddenly calm and the plants stop rustling at the exact same moment all of the women stop working. A curious hum begins to build as the men walk with a purpose between the rows of plants. The women lean away from the men as they approach, almost as if the wind had regained momentum. Row by row, each woman drops her hoe and shuts her eyes, mouthing a silent prayer.

Please not me. Please not me.  The footsteps grow closer. I shut my eyes. Please not me. Please not me.  When I open them, our minister is standing before me, a man beside him, both of their faces solemn.  “Iris,” Rev. Doolan says softly.  “Ma’am,” the other man says, holding out a Western Union telegram.
War Department Telegram Announcing the Death of Philip Edwards Appears to Be in Error
The world begins to spin. Shirley appears at my side, and she wraps her arms around me.  Mrs. Maynard,  The Secretary of War desires me to express his deepest regrets that your husband, First Lieutenant Jonathan Maynard, has been killed… 

“No!” Shirley shouts. “Iris! Somebody help!”  The last thing I see before I fall to the ground are a million white puffs of dandelion floating in the air, the wind carrying them toward heaven.
100pcs Rare Iris Bonsai Flower Mixed Colours Heirloom Iris Flowers Potted Plant For Home Garden Planting Blooming Bonsai Plants
Are you ready to read The Heirloom GardenThe Heirloom Garden releases April 28 and it is available from Amazon*, Harlequin, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Books-a-Million, Target, Walmart, Google Books, iBooks, and Kobo.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will be back tomorrow to share Murder in the Storybook Cottage by Ellery Adams.  It is the 6th A Book Retreat Mystery.  I hope you will visit.  I hope you have a 

The Avid Reader

Woman Reading in a Garden Painting by Barbara Jaskiewicz | Saatchi Art
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