Thursday, June 30, 2022

Guilty Creatures

 Guilty Creatures: A Menagerie of Mysteries
edited by Martin Edwards
published by British Library
ISBN: 978-0-7123-5344-1

This book is part of the British Library Crime Classics series, which consists of republications of 'classic crime' books that have gone out of print. These books were written by authors who may have been well known at the time, but who have been forgotten. I've discovered many authors via this series, but I don't think I was aware that they also published short story collections. Short stories, classic mysteries, new-to-me authors--what's not to love? This kind of thing is right up my street. 

This is a fun collection in which each story has something to do with critters of one kind or another. There are a few more well-known authors included, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a Sherlock Holmes story), G.K. Chesterton (a Father Brown story), and Christianna Brand, but I had never heard of most of the authors in the book. Many of these were happy surprises and I would love to read more of their work. In my opinion, the Sherlock Holmes story that opens the book was the weakest in the collection. It seemed very obvious. However, one of the interesting things about this collection is seeing the scientific views of the time as understood by the authors. In the case of the Holmes story in particular, the scenario might not have seemed so obvious at the time. The rest of the stories were stronger and the ending of one had me wondering what was going on right up until the last sentence, which made me gasp.

I really enjoyed reading this and I look forward to reading more of these short story collections. I highly recommend this and other British Library Crime Classics if you're someone who likes classic mysteries, 'forgotten' authors, and/or short stories. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Coming Around Again

blooming again with
evidence of what's to come--
skeletal remains

I love all the hydrangeas that thrive in Ireland. There are some beautiful colours. I've noticed that here in the northwest, I see the paler blooms, but there are far more that are deep, saturated, jewel-toned colours. The remains of last year's blooms have a beauty all their own!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Spaces in Between


lines--this way and that
not straight--angled, tangled, curved
always draw me in

One thing I've learned about myself is that I am very drawn to lines and the resulting shapes more than anything else, whether in art created by people or the art that is Mother Earth. I could sit for a very long time and look at abstract art or the shapes created by the way these branches have grown--the spaces in between. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Some Things Never Change

in my crayon box
cool shades down to nubs, warm shades
almost good as new

We were walking to the library this morning and I saw these blooms. These flowers always make me think of the big boxes of 64 crayons I used to have when I was a kid. It reminds me of the thistle crayons, which was one of my favourites. Some of the colours--the aptly named thistle, as well as all the purples, dark blues, and greens--were down to nubs because I used them so much. The hot colours--reds, oranges, yellows--were still sharp because I rarely used them. Some things never change! 😉

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

All's Well That Ends Well

 Yesterday, we went to Dungloe to do the weekly shop. This week, we shopped at Lidl and Aldi, which are next door to one another, with SuperValu right across the street--very convenient. Also convenient is the fact that the bus we take to and from Dungloe, turns into the bus that does the town run while there. It does a loop around the town three times, starting upon arrival and then twice more an hour apart. All three grocery stores are included in the town run, so we go to one or two stores, place the bag of groceries in the bus and go off to the next one. Usually we end at Aldi and wait there for Joe or Michael to come by during the last town run. We get on and stay on until we are dropped off right outside our door. 

Yesterday we ended at Aldi as usual and we waited at the end of the sidewalk. I had my backpack and Bill had his, along with another bag. We placed them on the ground as we waited--just to the left of the corner of the building where you can see the yellow bin in the picture below.
The extra bag Bill had contained groceries totaling about half of what we'd spent. We'd spent €41 and the stuff in the bag was 20 of that. Joe came and I walked towards the door. There were several people on the bus yesterday and some had granny trolleys, so space was an issue in back. Joe came out and said he had room for one bag, so I sort of glanced behind me and told Bill he could put one of his bags back there if he wanted. My newish backpack is very well designed and it's easy to get it on and off the bus, but his is not as easy and having just the one bag is better than two when maneuvering in the small space of the bus interior. I sat down and a minute or so later, Bill climbed on. I noticed that he didn't have any bags and I thought Joe must've found room for both, since the extra bag wasn't large. We settled in for the ride home.

We got here and Joe got out and went to the back, removing Bill's bag. He handed it to me and was about to close the door. I said, 'I think there's another one.' He was surprised and puzzled. 'Is there?' he asked. By then Bill was off the bus and I asked him about the other bag. Only then did he realize that he'd forgotten to pick it up and left it sitting by the wall outside Aldi.

When we got inside, he decided to try to call the store on the off chance that someone had seen it and brought it back into the store. He looked up the number and called, but he kept getting cut off before anyone answered. He decided to try one more time after supper. This time he got through. He spent a while trying to communicate the name of the town--clearly he was speaking to someone at a call centre somewhere. He was asked to spell 'Dungloe.' He described the bag and its contents. He gave the time we were there. Finally there was silence and I figured he was on hold. When he spoke again, I knew someone had returned the bag to the store. The call centre lady told him it was there and they'd hold it for him, so this morning we were back on the bus. We got off at Aldi and went in. There was an employee doing something right inside the door, so I figured I'd explain to him and ask who we should talk to. I didn't have to. As soon as I said we'd left a bag, he nodded and said, 'I'll get that for you.' and off he went. They'd kept it in the cooler, which we appreciated. We didn't have to throw anything away. We packed the stuff into our backpacks and walked around a little, stopping at a little community cafe for some lunch. It was pleasant.

When we got back on the bus a couple hours later, Joe asked if we got everything OK. I told the story to him and the other guy on the bus. When I said that it was nice that someone brought it back to the store, Joe smiled and said, 'You're in Donegal now!' and he had a story of his own about good customer service. I commented on our happy endings and the other guy said, 'You're lucky!' Indeed. We're glad not to have lost €20 worth of food and that it didn't have to get tossed, ending up in a landfill. We're also happy to have the bag back. A friend made it and gave it to us before we moved away from the  town where we were living. She has since passed away. The bag is a bit rough now, since it's been hauling stuff for 13 years, across the US and around Ireland. Now that we've almost lost it and celebrated its return, I've decided to reinforce it so we can keep on using it. All's well that ends well!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Happy Solstice

 Hello solstice, goodbye peak daylight! Whoop! Looking forward to more scenes like this in the evening (photo from October).

Hope it's a lovely day for you today!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Fast and Simple Spicy Cauliflower

 This is a fast, simple, nutritious, and oh so yummy dish! Oh, and it's cheap too, which is becoming more and more of an issue for many of us these days! There are just a few ingredients, although more could be added. It's a good thing to have in the fridge to use in various ways as well. 

We don't have a freezer, but I still buy frozen veg and berries when we do our weekly shop, which is usually at Aldi and Lidl. I bring home whatever bags of frozen produce I've bought that day and wrap a pile of the bags in a towel before placing it in the fridge. Things stay partially frozen for a day or two that way and these things cool down the small fridge a bit so it doesn't run as much--a bit less electricity used! 😄 By the time we get home, I usually don't feel like cooking them, but I do prepare them within the next day or two. It's handy to have containers of veg in the fridge, ready to go when I want them. The berries are placed in containers for use in yogurt, muesli, or porridge.

One day I had a partial bag of cauliflower in the fridge that had completely thawed and I needed to cook it. I also had wholemeal wraps in the cupboard. This is what I ended up with--and I loved it! I bought another bag of cauliflower just to make more of it, which I did in time for lunch.
It doesn't look like much, but it has a lot of flavour.😋

I don't have amounts of ingredients--they're not really needed. Just use how much of each thing you like/have.
Spicy Cauliflower
Thaw some frozen cauliflower (or use fresh if you'd rather--it just takes more time) and cut it up into smaller chunks, if necessary. Chop an onion. I used a red onion, but any kind will work. Put some olive oil, or oil of your choice, in a pan. Add the cauliflower and onion and stir for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add spices. I used garlic granules, oregano, hot chilli powder, smoked paprika, ground coriander, and dried coriander leaves. Stir well so spices are incorporated, add a bit of water and let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the cauliflower is the way you like it. Add in some dried jalapeno or red chilli flakes, if desired.

I love this on a wholemeal wrap with chilli cheese or--my favourite--the smoked cheese with jalapeno we can sometimes get at Aldi/Lidl. I place the cheese on the wrap and put the cauliflower on top. The cheese melts and provides a creamy texture which goes nicely with the chunky cauliflower and the spices. Vegan cheese could be used instead.

That's all I have on mine, but of course, anything at all could be added, both to the pan or to the wrap. Other veg could be used. Different herbs and spices would give a totally different flavour, even with the same base ingredients. It would be good on a roll, in taco salad, over rice or another grain. To make it really simple, instead of adding the spices, a packet of taco seasoning could be used instead. 

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods today.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Death at the Feast (Kipper Cottage 3) by Jan Durham

Death At The Feast

Book 3 in the Kipper Cottage Mystery series

by Jan Durham

Pub Date 12 Jun 2022 

Inkubator Books

ISBN 9781915275639

Death at the Feast (Kipper Cottage 3)

Having read the first two books in this series, I was thrilled to see number three! It did not disappoint! Once again we visit Liz McLuckie, her friends, neighbours, and other inhabitants of Whitby. And of course, it does not take long for disaster to strike, when the mayor dies of a food allergy at a dinner catered by Liz’ friends Tilly and Mags. Mags is suspected of being careless, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed, and business at the cafe disappears. Liz proceeds to investigate in order to help her friend.

There are various twists and turns as the plot unfolds and I was eager to keep reading to see how it would all end.

The story takes place at Christmastime, which added a fun touch, as did the activities of some of the regulars. There were heartwarming holiday moments as well. Whether you’ve read the previous books in the series or not, I can wholeheartedly recommend this one. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books, but it’s not necessary to have read them in order to follow along with the characters and the plot. I will definitely keep reading this series.

I thank the author and NetGalley for providing me with an e-galley of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Here is what I wrote about the first two books in the series:
Death at the Abbey by Jan Durham
This is the first in a new cosy mystery series featuring Liz McLuckie, a 50-something widow who has moved to Whitby five years after the death of her husband. She has purchased two run down cottages—Kipper Cottage and Gull Cottage—with the intention of living in one and fixing up the other to offer as a short term let to tourists. She lives with her wonderful dog, Nelson. One morning, while walking in Nelson’s favourite area atop the cliff, they stumble across a body. Liz and her friends end up in the middle of the investigation.

I quite enjoyed this book. It was a good read—very entertaining with a unique storyline and a quirky cast of characters. The people in the town are part of the joy of the book, along with the descriptions of the area. I am looking forward to reading future books in the series.

Death in Neptune Yard by Jan Durham
This is the second in the Kipper Cottage cosy mystery series and it was just as enjoyable as the first. In this book, Liz McLuckie, a 50-something widow who has moved to Whitby, is welcoming her first guests to the newly renovated cottage she bought. It’s Halloween and time for the annual Goth Festival, which brings tourists from near and far. The tourists are thrilled when the creature from folklore, the Barghest, is seen and heard, which means someone will die. Sure enough, someone does and Liz finds herself in jeopardy as she gets pulled into the mystery of whodunnit. 

This was another entertaining book. I liked learning more about some of the ‘regulars’ from the first book and Nelson the dog is always fun to read about. The folklore element was interesting as well. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Thursday, June 9, 2022


 One of my favourite things to do when stitching is to use scraps to create something new. I'm also a big fan of abstract work, which I do not tire of looking at, always noticing a shape or texture I might not have noticed before. This afternoon, I finished a small piece I'd had going for a while, picking it up whenever I felt like making a few stitches. I had no plan other than limiting my colour palette to scraps of purple in two slightly different shades, blue-ish teal, and the thread with a gold sparkly wrap. The purples are perle cotton and crochet cotton, the teal is standard embroidery floss with a matte finish, and the gold is meant more for knitting or crochet, I think. I use whatever works. It was stitched on a scrap of white aida cloth, 16 count. I love removing a few threads on the edges to make the fringe, so that's what I did here.
Near the end, I noticed it had a house shape, so while it's part of my ongoing occasional series I call 'abscraption,' I also think of it as 'crazy house.' As I was making it, I enjoyed both the stitching itself and watching the shapes appear. I turned it into a bookmark and continue to enjoy it every time I open the book that it's in.