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Have You Saved the Date Yet?

April 8, 2014 | No Comments

NC309_CRcard_NOTESI know, it’s been months since I posted here. I bet you thought I was still down in Florida, sunnin’ and funnin’. Or maybe you thought I’d taken the winter off to go junking. I wish! Instead, I’ve been hard at work putting the finishing touches on SAVE THE DATE, which publishes June 3. We have all kinds of fun promotional opportunities for my fans, including this bribe, I mean, offer, from our fab friends at Anna Griffin. Pre-order SAVE THE DATE from your favorite bookseller by the deadline of May 23, and fill out this form HERE, and we’ll enter you to win one of 250 sets of this lovely Anna Griffin stationery. The pattern is called Olivia and the box includes 20 flat cards with coordinating lined envelopes–a retail value of $18.

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In the meantime, my life never seems to slow down. But in a good way. I’ll be doing a brown bag lunch and lecture in Savannah next Weds. April 16 at a fun new venue called Cohen’s Retreat. We’ll spend Easter with the family on Tybee at Ebbtide, then I’ll bunny hop my way down to Tampa to sign books on Thurs. April 24 at the Southern Living Custom Builder Showcase Home. On Monday, June 28, I’ll be the luncheon speaker at the Morton Plant Mease Foundation’s Planters Spring Luncheon at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach. Given the fact that my late sister Susie was a 30-year career hospital nurse, I was so pleased to know that funds raised at the charity luncheon will go towards scholarships for nursing students.

On Apr. 29, LADIES’ NIGHT will release in paperback–just in time for your spring trips to the beach. And on May 2, I’ll be the luncheon speaker at the Polo Women’s Club in Cumming, GA.

Stay tuned to my Facebook page for news coming soon about our annual Mother’s Day recipe card giveaway.

And did I mention, you should totally pre-order SAVE THE DATE here? Maybe get one for mom while you’re at it.

Happy Spring, y’all!

Snow Place Like the Beach in January

January 31, 2014 | No Comments

I am pregnant with book. Over-due with book. This summer’s book was due months ago, but sometimes, that’s how I roll. So I ran away to write. Not to Tybee, my normal runaway destination, but farther south. All the way to Anna Maria Island, Florida. Anna Maria, you may remember, was the setting for LADIES’ NIGHT. I was so charmed by this low-key island paradise, I decided to come back to work on SAVE THE DATE. Mr. MKA and I arrived in early January. I graciously allowed him to stay here for a few days, and then escorted him to the airport. Three whole weeks of writing! Three weeks of solitude. And it’s been amazing. Even if the weather hasn’t been.

Here’s what I saw on one of my first beach walks.

Anna Maria Island beach birds

Anna Maria Island beach birds

If I could paint, this is what I would paint. But I can’t, so I guess I’m stuck with writing. Good thing I love it. Back to the weather. I was hoping for warm, sunny weather, because I love to take long walks to clear my head after hours of writing. What I mostly got was chilly, over-cast, and chilly mixed with rainy. But since I was able to dodge the bullet with Atlanta’s snowpocalypse, I really can’t whine too much.

Being a real estate voyeur, I love to look at cute, vintage cottages when I’m out for my daily strolls. I adored this old-timey screen door insert, and the picket fence.

Anna Maria Island screen door and picket fence

Anna Maria Island screen door and picket fence

SAVE THE DATE is set in Savannah, with a protagonist named Cara Mia Kryzik, a wedding florist whose own outlook on love and marriage is decidedly cynical. The book takes place in May, so I had to retreat into the world of the book and sunny, springtime Savannah, instead of chilly Anna Maria, while I was writing. One day while I was out strolling, I spotted this barnacle crusted tandem bike, complete with matching fishing pole, in front of a local business. There must be a story here, right?

barnacle-encrusted tandem bike and fishing pole on AMI

barnacle-encrusted tandem bike and fishing pole on AMI

Another morning, when I went out to walk, this little guy strolled up the driveway of my rented cottage to greet me. White egrets are all over the island.

Anna Maria egret

Anna Maria egret

Most days, weather permitted, I set out for a stretch of beach a couple blocks away, to sip wine and watch the sunset. Maybe because I grew up right across Tampa Bay, in St. Pete, but I have to say Gulf sunsets are my favorite. And I love seeing them through the feathery Austalian pines that dot the coast here. Reminds me of my childhood on Pass-A-Grille beach. I’m headed home Saturday morning, with a huge chunk of the book completed. I hope all the Atlanta roads have thawed by then. And I hope whereever you are, you’ll be as warmed as I am by one last Anna Maria sunset. Ahhhh.

sunset on Anna Maria Island

sunset on Anna Maria Island

 

 

 

 

My make-believe Christmas dinner party

December 22, 2013 | No Comments

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This week, one of my favorite design bloggers, Rhoda, of Southern Hospitality came over to shoot my house all foofed up for Christmas. So I decided to set my dining room table for a dinner party. And I nagged and whined until my crazy talented interior designer buddy Clay Snider came over to help me make it look like I have a fabulous life-style. You know, the kind of life-style where you dress up in a stunning black velvet cocktail dress with your grandmother’s good pearls, and your movie star handsome husband wears a dinner jacket and a tartan cummerbund, and all your guests also look like they stepped out of a Ralph Lauren magazine ad. In my imaginary lifestyle, we serve glammed up food like shrimp bisque and Yorkshire pudding and chocolate souffle. Five course meals, with corresponding wines. I did decide to get a little realistic with my make-believe Christmas party. In this scenario, all our handsome fantasy friends show up for a semi-casual game dinner. They probably drove over in their pretend vintage Range Rovers. Because my husband and son are outdoorsmen, we actually do sometimes serve quail, ducks or venison which they have shot.Here’s what we came up with. And by we, I mean, I dragged all this stuff into the dining room and Clay did his magic.
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The woven rattan chargers are set with my chipped-up white Mikasa dinner plates, which are topped with antique blue willow luncheon plates. As you might gather from my dining room decor, I’ve collected vintage blue and white transfer-ware for many years. The tartan napkins are from Pier One, bought at an estate sale, and the beaded napkin rings are also estate sale bargains. The flatware is my silverplate wedding pattern, mixed in with some random estate sale pieces. The footed beaded goblets were a recent lucky score from the Ballard’s Back Room outlet on DeFoors Avenue here in Atlanta. Four for $9.99!
The centerpiece is made up of magnolia branches poached from a city park near my house, along with similarly poached pine cones. One set of the deer antlers are from the large buck my son shot last fall–his first with a bow. The other antlers were all scored for $3 apiece at a yard sale in Savannah last year. We mixed in pheasant feathers my husband brought back from a hunting trip to South Dakota this year. The bird-dog sculpture is actually a vintage iron door-stop English Setter–a gift from me to my husband, because we own two similar setters, Wyatt and Weezie. The gigantic glass vase full of apples probably came from the Pottery Barn outlet in Gaffney, N.C.
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Because I’m a firm believer that more is always more, we added in the antique transferware vases (estate sale finds) filled with nandina berries and leaves clipped from my yard, along with some curly willow branches from Home Depot. The silver pheasants aren’t terribly old, but I like their look, and I think I picked them up at an estate sale. That bottle of bourbon is there because we happen to like bourbon. So that’s my fantasy dinner party. After dinner, the make-believe ladies all retired to my (non-existent) salon, where we traded gossip and bon mots, and the men-folk wandered into the (also non-existent) library, for Havana cigars and an excellent port. We served ourselves drinks from this antique mahogany game table–yes, another estate sale score, which is topped with one of my many estate sale silver plate trays, which I like to think class up my house–even when the only thing served on them is cheap chardonnay.
berkeleydrinkstable
So that’s my make-believe dinner party. Aren’t you glad I invited you? You must come back New Year’s Eve, for our intimate faux black-tie foie gras, caviar and champagne party.

Going to the Chapel

October 21, 2013 | No Comments

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Give me a bright shiny fall day in the country-side. Give me gently rolling green hills, blue skies, fluffy white clouds. Give me junk! A big ol’ room-full of delicious vintage treasures, collected by some of the nicest, most talented junk sisters (and one brother) on the planet. Then, give me a chance to play with the big kids, the PRO-fesh-ional junkers and lifestyle bloggers–and let me sell my shiny new book, CHRISTMAS BLISS–and you’ve got a day that’s pretty doggone close to heaven. That’s what we experienced Saturday when we were invited to be vendors at The Chapel Market in Pike Road, Alabama. The market was the brain-child of our friends Layla and Kevin Palmer of The Lettered Cottage fame. Some months back, Layla asked if I’d be interested in participating, and of course, I jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect, as CHRISTMAS BLISS just came out last Tuesday. I even managed to rope Mr. MKA into coming along too–as junk wrangler/painter/fixer-upper/head salesman. Here’s an abandoned oak dresser he helped me save–it only had one drawer when we found it, so he made shelves, then painted it so I could wax and distress it. This found a new home on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

blackdresser

 

I made it back to Atlanta from book tour on Friday, just in time to jump in the SUV which Mr. MKA had stuffed to the gills with our treasures. We even had furniture roped to the roof, Clampett-style. We got to Layla’s postcard-perfect neighborhood, The Waters, just in time to unload the vehicle and get our booth set up. With just one little hitch. We’d left the boxes containing ALL my smaller treasures at home in Atlanta. A three-hour drive away. Glancing around the room at all the gorgeous booths of my neighbors, I was nearly in tears. Our cupboard was looking mighty bare. But my sweet neighbors came to the rescue. Mary of The Urban Farmgirl–whose amazing booth was right next to ours, loaned us some strings of lights–and a ladder to hang them with. Cindy, one of Layla’s neighbors, ran home and got some treasures from her now-closed shop to add to our booth. And suddenly, life was looking brighter, literally. We especially felt better after all of us were treated to a delicious dinner at the home of our gracious hosts Kathy and Eddie, who put us up in their beautiful guest house. Let me tell you, we slept the sleep of the dead that night!

mkaboothchapel

Saturday morning, we made it over to the Chapel in time to put the finishing touches on our booth, and to meet the fabulous booksellers from Books-A-Million who brought many, many bins of my books to sell. I’ll admit, I was nervous. This was the first time we’d done a vintage pop-up market–and a book-signing. Would people come? Would they buy our stuff? Would they buy my books??? We thought they might when we arrived at the chapel at 7:30 a.m. and there were already people lining up for the 9 a.m. opening. We knew it at 8:30 a.m. when Mr. MKA took this picture…

chapelmarketline

Yes, folks wrapped all around the building and down the road! To shop and meet all these fabulous junk-istas. Like the uber-bubbly Karianne of Thistlewood Farms, who trucked down all the way from Kentucky and shared space with Susan from Finding Home and Heather of At the Picket Fence. Here’s a quick snap of their booth.

thistlewoodfarmsThey were there to shop with Shaunna, of Perfectly Imperfect, who has a for-real shop in Troy, Alabama. How much do you love those stalks of cotton–those sold out in a New York minute.

perfectly imperfectAnd they came to plunder the wonder of The Urban Farmgirl, who brought one of everything I would ever like to buy, all the way from Rockford, Illinois. I loved Mary because she loaned me lights–and also her very tall helper dude offered to help Mr. MKA hang them. Can you see a cute little Tonka red truck? I bought it before the doors opened–don’t hate me.

urbanfarmgirlboothAnd they came to meet rock-star blogger/author/furniture painter extraordinaire Marian Parsons, of Miss Mustard Seed, who trucked in such mouth-watering vintage loveliness, and styled it so beautifully I wanted to hate her–because my scanty booth was right next to hers. But I couldn’t hate her, because she’s so darned nice and talented. You can tell I pulled this photo off her website, right, because she’s a crazy good photographer. And I’m not…mustardseed booth

And they came to see Layla, of course, but she was hard to pin down, because she was buzzing around all day, and Kevin of course, but he was ferrying people around on golf carts. I didn’t manage to get pictures of all the booths, or all the dealers–because fortunately, we were crazy busy all day! And what a day it was. Nearly perfect. So good I almost didn’t mind hearing the screams of the Auburn fans because their team was winning, while we few Georgia bulldog fans were sulking around feeling sorry for ourselves. But here’s a pic we did manage to snap, at the end of the day, tired but happy.

chapelmarketvendorsOh, and, you know all those great vintage smalls that didn’t make it to The Chapel? They’ll be making their appearance this weekend at my booth at Seaside Sisters on Tybee Island. See, it all worked out after all!

 

CHRISTMAS BLISS–In October

October 7, 2013 | No Comments

Attention ATL-area peeps! Sunday, October 13th is the
not-to-be-missed launch party for CHRISTMAS BLISS!

ChristmasBliss_Flier_Decatur-2

Order your tickets by calling (770) 516-9989 or purchase online by CLICKING HERE!

The Decatur library and the Georgia Center for the Book is the place to be this Sunday. Yep. It’s launch time, go-time, party time, for my newest novel, CHRISTMAS BLISS. Yes, I know it’s only October. I haven’t even put out my Halloween pumpkins yet. But booksellers like to start the holiday shopping season early, so who am I to argue? Anyway, who doesn’t love a party? Especially a party with stuff like, oh, I don’t know . . .DESSERTS?  And maybe, um, let’s see, what would make this even more festive? Hey, how ’bout a peppermint infused vodka cocktail from our down-home Georgia girlfriends at Vixen Vodka?vxn.lust.logo

Not a vodka drinker? Well, there will be beer, wine, and soft drinks too. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without some rockin’ cleverly crafted holiday cards, right? So, we got another down-home Georgia girl, Anna Griffin to agree to join the party. Anna herself will be at the Christmas Bliss launch party this Sunday, and she’s bringing a boat-load of card-making supplies so that everybody at the party can make their own take-home hand-crafted Christmas cards.

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We’ll be decorating the Decatur Library launch-pad with my own vintage Christmas decorations. Yep. Aluminum Christmas trees, lights, the works. We’re loading my favorite Christmas tunes on the iPod too–so you know that means the playlist will include Darlene Love’s version of White Christmas, and her inimitable Christmas, (Baby Please Come Home) plus the Ronettes singing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Eartha Kitt’s, Santa Baby.

It wouldn’t be an MKA launch without swag bags…so, of course we’ll have those too. You’ll go home with recipe cards, book marks, and loads of goodies and coupons

And let’s not forgot the reason for this celebration, the publication of my 21st novel, CHRISTMAS BLISS. This time around, I’m bringing back my most beloved set of characters, Weezie Foley and BFF BeBe Loudermilk, the protagonists of my Savannah Series, which includes Savannah Blues, Savannah Breeze and Blue Christmas. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that the story starts a week before Christmas, with Weezie planning her Christmas Eve wedding to long-time love Daniel. Her maid-of-honor BeBe has a major life change underway too–she’s pregnant with charter boat captain Harry Sorrentino’s baby, but is resolutely refusing to take a third trip down the aisle, despite the pleas of everybody in her life, including Harry and Weezie.I had so much fun re-visiting my old friends Weezie and the gang, I almost felt guilty about getting paid for it. Almost. But not quite!

The advance reviews for CHRISTMAS BLISS have been a gift in itself. Kirkus Reviews saidReaders can expect a delightful diversion that’s fast paced, character-driven and extremely fun. . .Andrews delivers a blissfully divine holiday gift.” Library Journal said “Andrews’s holiday-themed novel is as warm and funny as usual, and the crazy antics of her two protagonists will entertain readers…VERDICT: An essential Christmas read for anyone who likes amusing, Southern women’s fiction.”

 But wait, there’s more! No, you don’t get a Ronco Bass-O-Matic or a set of Ginzu knives, but the $25 admission ticket does get you all of the above, plus an autographed first edition of Christmas Bliss. A portion of the sales of all books goes to the Georgia Center for the Book. Our friends, those good old girls from FoxTale Book Shoppe will have loads of extra copies of the book–enough for everybody on your Christmas gift list. Go here to order your ticket for the firstest, bestest, Christmas party in town.

A Tweak @The Beach

August 20, 2013 | No Comments

Most people go to the beach and they actually GO to the beach. Ya know, frolic in the waves, stroll the sand, burn their flesh to an unbecoming shade of crimson.

:Luckily, our granddaughter Molly, and her cousin Ellen, have plenty of time to romp on the beach this week at Tybee.

molly&ellen ebbtide

 

Not me. I go to the beach and I tweak. The beach house. Last week was no exception. As you may know, we rent our Tybee Island beach homes, The Breeze Inn, and Ebbtide, through Mermaid Cottages. Not being filthy stinking rich–I know-waaaaah–we don’t usually go to the beach in the summer because that’s our busy rental season. But we had a last-minute cancellation at Ebbtide last week, so off we went.

In my own defense, I had no real right to relax. I had to read the final copy-edited version of CHRISTMAS BLISS, which goes on sale Oct. 15. I had to read and answer copy edit questions for the re-issue of MIDNIGHT CLEAR, which will release Nov. 19. And I had to write! Next summer’s book is already over-due. So no rest for the weary.

We did do some fishing off our friend’s dock on the Back River–and lucked into several nice-sized flounder. Which meant Mr. MKA whomped up a fish fry–to which I contributed a homemade tomato pie made with my friend Linda’s heirloom tomatoes. We also served Linda’s fresh-picked corn. And her homemade pickles. It was a real throw-down.

flounder dinner

 

But in between writing and editing, I had several little projects i was anxious to complete at Ebbtide. And I had the luxury of having the ever-handy Mr. MKA on the premises–and willing to attack my long honey-do list–in between fishing expeditions. We filled both our cars with tools and paint and bins of vintage treasures I’d been hoarding for the house.

First on the list was hanging this vintage grocery sign I picked up at my favorite North Carolina antique mall, The Depot at Gibson Mill, in Concord. I talked my husband into making a plain frame for the sign and painting it black, and I knew it would be perfect in the kitchen. Like so.

kitchengrocery sign

Next on the list was assembling and hanging the cheap Michael’s glass floating frames for the collection of vintage DO NOT DISTURB hotel signs I’ve been hoarding for eight years. Yes, eight years. Some people might accuse me of buying a second beach house just to have a place to display these sweethearts. And some people might be dangerously close to understanding my peculiar brand of insanity. I adore these hangtags. Also the story behind them. When we were living in Raleigh, I went to an estate sale of a sadly dilapidated house down the block from our own house on St. Mary’s Street. The elderly lady who’d lived there was apparently quite a character. She’d traveled with an actor’s troupe in her youth–probably in the 1940s and 1950s, and I discovered a trunk full of items she’d stolen, er, appropriated during her long-ago travels. Shrivelled-up hotel soaps, stationery from long-closed hotels–with great graphics, and these ten “Do Not Disturb” door signs. Finally, last week, they found a home in the guest bath at Ebbtide. They are sharing wall space with a vintage 1920s wool bathing suit. i “might” have a thing for these suits. i have three of them framed in this house alone.

bathroom donotdisturb

While we’re on the subject of hoarding, i’d been hiding (and hoarding) a primitive folding wooden daybed under our bed in the master bedroom at Ebbtide since January. I bought it for $10 at an estate sale in Atlanta and was told it came from a cabin in the North Georgia mountains. I thought it would be ever-so-lovely at the foot of our bed. But it was just big enough that I would have gotten up in the middle of the night to pee and tripped over it. So I had to find another spot for the daybed. And get a cushion made for it, and slipcover it . . . But finally, last week, Alison, the magic slipcover girl who has definitely slipcovered everything in this house that doesn’t move, delivered my daybed cushions. And it was worth the wait. Because in the meantime, I found a red and white antique crib quilt at another Atlanta estate sale–for $15, to go on the daybed. And I bought a vintage French grain sack from my pal Beth at KnickKnack Paddywhack which Alison magically transformed into a long bolster. To slipcover the mattress and end bolsters, Alison used some of my vintage blue and white ticking. I bought a bolt of this stuff, probably 15 years ago, from the Atlanta estate of an upholsterer. The bolt probably had a hundred yards on it–and it cost $40. Over the years I had a sofa and love seat slipcovered with the ticking, and still had plenty left. The daybed was screaming for ticking like this. Doesn’t it almost make you want to swoon? And nap?

ebbtide daybed

But the big project we tackled was setting up a dining and seating area in the open area on the ground floor of  Ebbtide, adjacent to our grilling area. I assembled most of the mismatched, oddball pieces for the area over the past few months. One trip to Scott’s Antique Market a couple months ago yielded two wrought iron “bouncy” chairs, a wicker settee and a glider. Everything needed help. Another trip to an Atlanta thrift shop brought me a pair of wicker chairs–they also needed paint. I found a wooden swing at an estate sale, and at yet estate sale in Druid Hills in Atlanta, I found a beat-up wooden farm table in the garage–for $10. It had old linoleum glued to the top, and when i peeled back the linoleum I found that the wooden top stained with large blotches of red, green and blue paint. At a yard sale in Savannah i found a second pair of wrought iron bouncy chairs. And then on a morning walk in my neighborhood I found a set of seat cushions–they were coated in yellow pollen and mildew–but they were striped red and blue. Yoink!

After Alison slipcovered all the upstairs porch furniture I turned her loose on the downstairs porch–with the last of my ticking fabric and some feed sacks I’d bought at the Depot. While she was sewing, Mr. MKA was building me benches to go with the farm table. We found the plans for these here on Ana White’s website. I used gel stripper to get off the worst of the paint on the table top, then sanded it and topped with a coat of poly. Then we attacked all that mis-matched furniture with Rustoleum spray paint. Here’s how the glider looked when we started. Bleah, right?

glider before

And here’s Gladys the Glider, after she got tarted up with some Rustoleum navy spray paint, with white painted inserts and her glam new cushions. The throw pillows, by the way, are from Home Depot.

glider after

Here’s the rest of the seating area. I ran out of time to style it, but I think you can get the general idea.

porchseatingareaAnd here’s a shot of the also unstyled porch picnic area. Perfect for shrimp boils, right?

picnic porchTime for one more picture? Here’s the vintage coke sign I found on Craigslist in Atlanta. We literally met the seller in the Target parking lot to conduct this “coke deal.” It found a new home on the upstairs porch at Ebbtide.

icecokeYum, right? Maybe next time I’m back at Ebbtide I can actually walk on the beach. Nah–I’ll probably spend the whole time styling that new porch area.

Won’t you let me take you on a Sea Cruise?

July 25, 2013 | No Comments

Celebrity_RF_landing_960x312 (1)i don’t know about you, but come February, I start getting cabin fever. True, we don’t exactly have blizzard season here in Atlanta, but we do have what seems like endless gray, chilly days. That’s when I start to think about running away to sea. Sunny skies, blue water, tropical ports. This year, for the first time, I’m inviting all my readers to join me–and Sail Away with MKA.

My friend Nancy Yoffe, better known as The Cruise Chick, has put together a fabulous seven-day cruise for us. The ship is the Celebrity Reflection, which was just launched in 2012 and is a beauty. We’ll depart port of Miami on Saturday, Feb. 8 and sail the Eastern Caribbean, to ports including San Juan, St. Thomas,and St. Phillipsburg.

reflection dining room

Reflection dining room. And we do not have to cook a thing! Hot and cold running waiters. Yippee!

I’m so excited about this fun getaway. I’ve sailed on Celebrity before, and the cabins, food and service were all top-notch. In fact, my last Celebrity cruise was one of those Big-O birthday celebrations with my junior high girlfriends, and we had a total blast. And i know this time will be no different.The posted price for the cruise is for balcony rooms, but if you’re looking for something more “budget friendly” you can contact Nancy and ask about availability of other options.

reflection spa

The Spa. Ahhhhhh.

Nancy and I have been planning all kinds of activities. We’ll have a meet and greet with appetizers and cocktails shortly after boarding the ship, and everybody will get a chance to mix and mingle. There will be a private book signing, of course, a fun formal photo session (complimentary for those who book by Sept. 1), a tea, and a private jewelry shopping expedition in one of the ports.

reflection pool

Lots of opportunities for beach reads around the pool!

Each guest on the Sail Away with MKA cruise will get a swag bag filled with fun surprises, especially gathered for this occasion.

The best part of all though, will be the chance to chillax and meet other readers like yourselves. So–who will you ask to join you? My daughter Katie will be sharing my stateroom, and it looks like my sister-in-law and niece will be coming along too, as well as some friends from Savannah, and a couple from Ohio.

reflection lawn club

There’s even a lawn area. On a cruise ship. Who knew?

You don’t necessarily have to have a roommate lined up to book the cruise. We expect there will be plenty of other “singletons”–who want to come, so Nancy will be happy to try to match compatible folks as roommates.

Right now in July, February seems a long way off, I know, but if your life is like mine, you just need to take a deep breath and BOOK IT!

 

Ebbtide Update

May 14, 2013 | No Comments

ebbtideexteriorb4

The release of Ladies’ Night is only three weeks away (YIKES!) and we are hard at work getting last minute projects done at our new Tybee Island beach cottage, Ebbtide, before I go out on book tour for six weeks. So I thought I’d share a progress report. It’s no coincidence that Grace Stanton, the protagonist of Ladies’ Night is a lifestyle blogger and DIY guru. Any of my regular readers will recognize that I myself am a dedicated house fluffer and project plotter, but I got tons of inspiration for our Ebbtide re-do from many real-life lifestyle bloggers and DIY-ers.

Since we bought this cottage five months ago, my husband and I have busier than the proverbial one-armed paper-hanger fluffing and furnishing. Although Ebbtide is much larger and older than our other house, The Breeze Inn, thankfully, this house needed much less work.

Ebbtide, by the way, was built in 1932, and it is a classic Tybee raised cottage. The house had been in the previous owner’s family since 1945, and they’d done a great job maintaining and updating it, so most of our work was cosmetic.

Since Mr. MKA and I love to cook and entertain, job one was a new kitchen. Our wonderful contractor, Cory Scoville and his crew gutted the existing kitchen, removing a large butler’s pantry and broom closet to give us a bigger space. Here is a before picture. Hard to tell from this photo, but if you opened the pantry door, it banged into the old stove!

ebbtidekitchenbeforeCory’s crew scraped up a couple layers of vinyl to reveal the original oak floors, and they opened up the new kitchen to the adjoining dining room. They built all the kitchen cabinets on-site. We chose a soft gray and white granite called Kashmir for the countertops, and a simple white subway tile backsplash. We kept the existing fridge and added a new gas stove, wall oven, microwave and dishwasher. The new kitchen is a joy to cook in.ebbtidekitchendone1

I loved my old enamel over cast-iron double sink at the Breeze Inn, so of course, I had to track down another for the new kitchen at Ebbtide. This sink came from the Greensboro, Georgia location of an architectural salvage shop called Pinch of the Past. I shop at their Savannah location all the time. The vintage Drive-In, Private Bath sign came from another haunt, Habersham Antiques Market in midtown Savannah.

ebbtidekitchensinkclockOnce the kitchen was finished, Mr. MKA and I rolled up our sleeves and tackled the fun stuff. I hit Craigslist, estate sales and antique shops far and wide for furnishings and accessories. And after much hesitation and second-guessing, we had the original dark pine board and batten walls in the living and dining room painted. Some purists have decried this as a sacrilege–but we found these rooms dark and gloomy and foreboding–and since we’re the ones paying the mortgage note, we get the final vote! The paint color is my favorite white, Benjamin Moore’s Moonlight White, with ceilings painted Benjamin Moore’s Morning Sky Blue. Here’s a shot of the living room before paint.

ebbtidelivrmsofa

And here’s the after version, which includes the nifty picture ledges Mr. MKA built, with a little help from my Pinterest page and several on-line tutorials, like this one from the amazing Ana White.. All the paintings were inexpensive ones I’ve collected over the years from estate sales and junk shops. They’d hung in the den of our previous house, but since our current house in Atlanta doesn’t have a den, I had a bin-full of these just waiting for a new home. The slipcovered white twill sofa was a lucky Craigslist score–I call it the sofa of no-return because once you sink into it, you can never get out!

ebbtidepicturerail

Also in the living room, I cribbed an idea from Miss Mustard Seed’s blog to transform a beat-up mahogany dresser with a spiffy Union Jack paint job. Many years ago I was clever enough to marry an engineer who is capable of pinpoint accuracy when taping off lines for a project like this.

unionjackdresserMay13

 

Speaking of collections, I adore vintage tin litho beach toys–watering cans, sand buckets and shovels, which I’ve collected for nearly twenty years. I have part of my collection at The Breeze Inn, so I decided the rest of the toys should find a home at the beach too. We put them on a high-up shelf–where they can be appreciated, but where little hands won’t be tempted to actually take them down to the beach.

ebbtidetinlithoshelf

These babies are getting harder and harder to track down, and they can be quite expensive too. I found the latest addition to the collection–a toy pump and bucket, at a favorite haunt, Kudzu Antique Market, in Decatur. I love those vintage rattan peacock chairs (scored for $50 for the pair at an estate sale) you see in front of the window here, but my friend Ellen calls them the Morticia Addams chairs.

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While I was tracking down more junk, er, treasures, I had Mr. MKA busy making lamps from all kinds of funky old stuff. Like these vintage galvanized tin ice cream churns I bought on eBay. I was actually looking for a pair of cool painted wooden buckets, but I found these for much less money, and I think, a lot more charm. They’re sitting on the oak buffet in the dining room, beneath the framed 1970s bathing suit my friend Barb and I found last month in a great little antique shop in Westerville, Ohio.

ebbtidebuffetAs part of the kitchen project, we had to install a new circuit box–not so conveniently located on a prominent wall in the dining room. I kept looking around for something to hide that box. And then I remembered the vintage 1920s wool Jantzen bathing suit I found last summer while I was junking with my pal Ki Nassauer–of Flea Market Style magazine. Mission accomplished!ebbtidejantzensuitWith the ice cream lamps completed, I sent Mr. MKA back to the workshop to craft a pair of lamps for Boomerang Boy’s downstairs bedroom. This is one of two ground-floor rooms which the former owners only used as storage. We converted them into bedrooms by painting floors and walls, updating wiring and installing window air conditioner units. The nightstands were a pair of fugly chests I found at Tybee’s city-wide yard sale for around $25. They were painted baby poop brown–with linoleum tacked to their tops.

fuglybrowndressersThe dented Old Pal bait bucket was Mr. MKA’s from his teen years, and I bought the Falls City bucket either at Scott’s or on eBay. Here’s the room now–with the windows draped with a huge piece of vintage bunting.

Ebbtideandy'srmMay13

baitbucketlampnightstands

The other ground floor bedroom was formerly home to a big honkin’ hot water heater–and storage. Mr. MKA and his brother Bob the Builder transformed it by constructing a closet around the heater. Now it’s a cool space with vintage twin beds contributed by my friend Ellen, a pair of estate sale quilts, estate sale nightstands, an old wire Tom’s Peanuts rack I swiped from my booth at Seaside Sisters, and another pair of Mr. MKA’s lamps–this time hanging pendant lamps made from old minnow traps I found at Scott’s. I found a tutorial to make them from Brittany of Pretty Handy Girl, and then he free-styled them, because he could.

minnowtraplightcloseup

Because I hate bare walls, I dug around in my stash of old stuff until I came up with a vintage chicken mash sack, which had an awesome design screen-printed on both sides. I cut the sack in half and then stapled each half above the bed–directly onto the wall–because I’m KLASSY like that.

 

We’re still finishing up some more projects around here, but now it’s time for me to get back to work–finishing my Christmas book, which will be out this October (EEK!) and getting ready for the publication of LADIES’ NIGHT. Check my tour schedule here to see where I’ll be signing (and junking) this summer. And yes, you too can have a family vacation–or a ladies’ night of your own, at Ebbtide. We’re pretty booked for summer (heck, I can’t even stay here in June or July!) but check with the girls at Mermaid Cottage Vacation Rentals for availability starting in late August.

 

Mystery solved: Meet Callahan Garrity…and a chance to win!

March 26, 2013 | Comments (1)

CrookedNanny.resizedThere’s a new gal in the bookstores right now, and her name is Julia Callahan Garrity. Callahan is a funny, gutsy former Atlanta cop turned private investigator turned cleaning business owner.

Of course, she isn’t really new–or at least not new to some of my readers.

Starting back in the early nineties, I penned eight of these mysteries, under my real name, which is Kathy Hogan Trocheck. At the time, I was working as a features writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution and had two young children at home. I’d always been a mystery reader–like so many women in this country, I cut my teeth on the old Nancy Drew mysteries. By 1990, I was ready to leave newspaper journalism behind and strike out for the land of fiction.

Since I’d always read mysteries–transitioning from Nancy Drew to Mickey Spillane (I know, weird, huh?) to Agatha Christie, to those pioneers of the contemporary female P.I. novels–Sue Grafton (Kinsey Milhone), Marcia Muller (Sharon McCone) and Sara Paretsky (V.I. Warshaski)–I decided to try to write one.

That first one never sold. But the second one, Every Crooked Nanny, found a home at HarperCollins Publishers, and I went on to write a total of eight Callahan Garrity mysteries, in addition to the two Truman Kicklighter mysteries. The Truman Kicklighter titles, Lickety-Split and Crash Course, set in my hometown of St. Petersburg, are currently available only as e-books.

The first book in the series, Every Crooked Nanny, introduces readers to Callahan. She’s an Atlanta native, graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!), and she lives in a Craftsman bungalow in the real-life neighborhood of Candler Park. Callahan is a former Atlanta Police detective, who quits the force when she gets passed over for a slot on the APD’s Homicide Squad, because of sexism. A note here; when I began writing the first Callahan novel, there were no women homicide detectives on the APD. Callahan gets her private investigator’s license, but when she can’t drum up enough business, her mother talks her into buying a cleaning business called The House Mouse.
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Callahan’s chain-smoking, Solitaire-dealing mom Edna Mae, shares her home, and helps ride herd over the House Mouse “girls”–a memorable crew of misfits including white trash queen Neva Jean McComb, the octagenarian Baby and Sister, and the gentle Ruby.

Following on the heels of Every Crooked Nanny came To Live and Die in Dixie, Homemade Sin and Happy Never After.
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All the books are set in real locations in and around Atlanta. Callahan had many devoted fans, and the books were commercial and critical successes, but after eight of the mysteries, I had an idea for a different kind of novel, which became Savannah Blues. With the success of Savannah Blues (and my new pseudonym of Mary Kay Andrews) I morphed into writing women’s fiction–but always with a mysterious element.

Over the years, several of the Callahan titles went out of print, and the remaining ones were hard to find in bookstores. Now, however, I’m thrilled that Harper is re-issuing all the Callahans, starting with the first four in the series. Callahan has gotten a little facelift–this time the titles are debuting as trade paperbacks, with gorgeous new covers.
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Even more exciting, for the first time ever, there will be Callahan audios! The audio of Every Crooked Nanny will be released today, March 26, and the other audios will follow soon. I’m so thrilled that my Mary Kay Andrews fans will finally be able to find these books again. Look for the final four books (and their audios) in the series to be released in coming months.

Can’t wait for you to meet Callahan and the girls. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her as much as I enjoyed writing about her exploits.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! We are giving away sets of all four Callahan paperbacks and all four Callahan audiobooks. Here is the entry form for the book giveaway (deadline 4/19). Here is the entry form for the audio giveaway (deadline 5/24). Good luck!

Ebbtide

February 22, 2013 | No Comments

 

ebbtideexteriorb4

We’d been looking for a bigger house on Tybee Island. We love our first house, The Breeze Inn, but with two grandbabies added to the family since we restored it in 2009, it has gotten to be a tight squeeze. So we looked around. Made offers, were re-buffed. Then, in November, I got a call from our friend Diane at Mermaid Cottages. “Your forever dream house is on the market, and they’e just dropped the price,” she said. “Get here. Now!” I went. I saw. I fell in love. And although Mr. MKA was off in the wilds of the Dakotas, I made an offer. And on Dec. 19, we closed on our new old beach house. Meet Ebbtide, circa 1932. She’s an unassuming old girl from the street, but once you get inside, the magic starts to happen. She’s one house off the beach–with occasional ocean views if you know where to stand. She’s got room for the family to stretch out–six bedrooms! The entire main floor of the house is old heart pine board and batten walls and pine floors. There is a huge wrap-around porch for lounging, dining, daydreaming or catnapping.

Porch--before view of dining area

Porch–before view of dining area

(No worries–we are keeping the Breeze too–and you can still rent it through Mermaid Cottages) Our whole family trooped down to Tybee the day after Christmas and we began our makeover. Although the house came fully furnished, with perfectly nice things, if you know anything about me, you know I have hoarding issues. Out went most of the old furnishings–sold off through Craigslist, word-of-mouth and the Tybee Island-wide yard sale. But not the Sunbeam Bread sign in the dining room. To be honest, when I saw the house with our real estate agent, they had me at Sunbeam!ebbtidediningbefore

In came my stuff–a whole truckload of beat-up, threadbare rugs from our basement, a pair of Craigslist four-poster beds painted white, a set of rattan chairs from the Scott’s antique market, nightstands and a headboard from a hotel liquidation place, and more unused basement treasures. I did buy two brand-new armchairs for the living room, from T.J. Maxx. I found the first chair at TJs in Savannah, posted a look-out for its twin on Facebook, and an alert reader found me the mate at the TJ in Smyrna, Ga. Mr. MKA and his brother have been hammering and sawing and making some changes, and I have been painting and waxing and distressing. And shopping. The biggest change we are making in the house is putting in a whole new kitchen. Whee! Complete with my beloved porcelain over cast-iron vintage double sink, which I bought at a great architectural salvage place in Greensboro, GA. called Pinch of the Past. Those old pine walls are gloomy, so some of the rooms–especially the master bedroom, will be painted my favorite Ben Moore Moonlight White. We’ve got some great looking lighting coming in too, and lots more, but here are some before and in-process pics to enjoy. Watch this space for more pictures as we finish up our beautification process. Ebbtide will be making her debut as a Mermaid Cottage in late March!

Master bedroom--before

Master bedroom–before

 

Master bedroom--in process

Master bedroom–in process

 

Living room--in process

Living room–in process

 

Children's room, before

Children’s room, before

Main floor bedroom, in process

Main floor bedroom, in process

Children's room, in process
Children’s room, in process

Guest bedroom in process

Guest bedroom in process

 

Boomerang Boy's room, in process

Boomerang Boy’s room, in process

Kitchen, before

Kitchen, before