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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Planting for the spring

by

Emma Lane

Years ago, when we bought an old house, we promptly began the task of remuddling. Yes, not remolding, but muddling. We were careful to check out similar homes in the area, so we didn’t change it too much. But I had deck on my mind and no house like ours was showing anything similar to a deck. We had a lot of things to do before frivolous building could begin, but I was impatient. In my mind it was already there.

So, I picked out my first privacy plant. It was an ordinary lavender lilac, a puny thing I dug up from my better half’s childhood home. Only in my imagination was it a visible noise barrier from the busy highway out front.

Oh, I petted it and gave it water during that first hot summer. By the next year I had mostly forgotten about it. Too many other plants to tend and this one was surviving without me. Long story short, by the time the deck was finally number one on the task list, my lilac was blooming and looked like this.

 

 
I’m pleased I had the foresight to plan ahead. In the summer, we enjoy total privacy while lounging in gentle summer breezes directly off the kitchen. Originally, we thought to put a roof over it, but once we sat staring up through the foliage of an ancient maple, we allowed nature to coax us to leave it be.

Lilacs bloom in the early spring. I leave it to either your own experiences or your imagination how heavenly the fragrance is from these old-fashioned shrubs. Hardy and trouble free, they delight year after year. I highly recommend you plant one.

How about a glimpse into my latest cozy mystery? It is the fourth in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Gardening

by

Emma Lane

For years I chastised myself for the plants that died in my little kitchen garden. Located outside my window, I envisioned enjoying the beauty of the perennial flowers as I sipped my morning tea and ate breakfast. (I gave up coffee years ago.) Year after year I tried many plants and shrubs: roses, coneflower, coreopsis, it didn’t matter what I tried. Even the Bradford tree we planted a few years ago failed to thrive. It hasn’t died yet, but not a healthy branch on it. This story has different characters that all play an important part in the mystery.

  1. Elm trees
  2. Spirea shrubs
  3. Bearded iris
  4. A wild flower called ‘Elecampane,’ an elegant, tall perennial in the sunflower family.

They all combine to hint at a solution that should have occurred to me years ago but didn’t.

Everyone knows of the sad demise of the majestic elm trees. This property, an older home, had stumps in both front and back yard. One of the neighbors suggested they were once the poor dead elms. On the way ‘back forty’ there were piles of huge trunks which we assumed were the elms.

The kitchen garden was formed in an oval adjacent to one of those large stumps. Chip monks made happy trails all through and I imagine underneath. They played riotous games of tag visible out my over-looking window. It was such a perfect location to build a garden already growing in my imagination.

Now on the edge, native winterberry, male and female, reside happily with pink spirea, a low shrub, one of the first to bloom in the spring.

An off shoot thrust out from the oval is planted in happily thriving deep purple iris. That’s it. Nothing else has survived over years of trying. The center is full of opportunistic weeds with no redeeming traits.

I have a fondness for wildflowers and have gathered enough seeds over the years that many thrive around the yard. Enter our last character in the mysterious failure of my kitchen garden. Elecampane colonizes, slowly and non-invasive, but it likes company. I welcomed each and every single one of those graceful and elegant tall perennials as they established themselves in a circle around my non-existent kitchen garden.

As I sipped my tea, with chin in hand, I studied those plants. “Like guardians around the failure of a garden,” my muse whispered. Epiphany is a strange word with unclear meaning in my opinion. However, I do think I had one as I gazed at my poor weedy garden in which nothing much ever grew. That was NOT an elm tree stump.

Recently an enormous walnut tree had had to be removed. I learned the meaning of the word ‘allopath,’ a chemical repellent emitted by the roots of the walnut tree and select other plants. Even after the tree is removed, the chemical will remain in the soil effectively repelling, or even killing most plants that try to invade its perimeter. I knew of that wicked talent. It never occurred to me that an elm. . . .it wasn’t an elm, was it? That stump was clearly something different and more ominous. It was obviously a walnut or some other species with the same ability to deter any invading plant.

There stood the soldiers (large stalks of elecampane) arranging themselves just on the edge of the bed broadly hinting to me the root (sorry) of the problem. I am not a terrible gardener, just a bit dense. Once I dismissed the idea of that being an elm stump, everything else fell in place. Shew. Now for the solution.

A willing creator of a mini patio for plants only has just finished placing the last of the concrete blocks. It’s still a work in progress. I need to move the large blue birdbath and more pots of flowers, but at last, I have a kitchen garden. Already I sigh with pleasure at the sight first thing in the morning.

Here’s a glimpse into my latest Cozy Mystery. It is 4TH in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending that unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

gardening and her new book

by

Emma Lane

It’s that time of year again. Nothing is more refreshing than a vivid blue sky accented by fiery leaves of the hard woods, yellows of the aspens and some maples, and various reds of the underbrush. Many shades of orange and yellow are accented by the dark greens of spruce and pines. Autumn is foliage showing off and we love it. It’s nature’s last hurrah before the settling of winter time and rest.

The flower gardens are looking a bit seedy (they have cause as they are making next year’s seeds.) Have your Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Obedience Plant finished? Sunflowers are nodding their heavy heads with birds and rodents feasting on the bounty of oil rich seeds. For relief we turn to a plant we nicknamed, MUM, but it is so not mum as it speaks with rich fall colors on a plant that stays tidy and easily tucked into existing gardens. Chrysanthemum has been shortened to mum; the real name almost forgotten.

Are mums perennial? Do they survive the freezing temps and come back next year?

The answer is . . . maybe. Indeed, the plant is cold hardy at least to agricultural zone 4/5. So why have so many gardeners been disappointed when the mums succumb to the cold? Might be from too much love? Actually, mums are fairly tough plants that need little attention to thrive. The problem is a shallow root system. Simply put, it cannot stay in the ground during frost heaves which come and go with a changing temperature.

Give it up. You aren’t about to run out every time a warm day and a frost freeze night happens. It’s probably many more nights than you suspect. Mulch is the best remedy. A good mulch will cut down on the possibility of the shallow rooted plant being thrust out of the ground and left high and dry to die.

Two other remedies: Stick a pot or two of your favorite colors in a corner of the garage and give a sip of water occasionally. It might work; worth a try. Next is treat the low-cost mum plant like an annual and don’t worry about it. Just buy new next year.

I’ve done all of the above with various successes. I refuse to give up new and different colors so I buy every year. I, also, cover my favorite yellows with solid mulch and try to remember to trim until the 4th of July. (Otherwise they grow leggie and unattractive.) I’ve been known to pot up an unusual color I want to try and save and tuck it into a corner of the garage. It works maybe half the time. I don’t get upset with failures, as I remember mums are not expensive and I can replace them as autumn approaches. It’s a lovely plant; indulge and enjoy.

Here’s a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery Release, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT. It is 4TH in the Detective Kevin Fowler series.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Seasonal Flowers

by

Emma Lane

It is possible to gather flowers for your vases without deliberately planting a cutting garden. Possible, but much more fun to set up a section of the garden for bringing the blossoms inside. Harvesting these blooms will not denude your carefully planned perennial landscape.

In Spring, Tulips, Daffodils, and Peonies are perennial friends who return year after year. One of the best cut flowers is Gladiola. Staggered planting of the bulbs (which are fairly inexpensive.) will prolong the harvest. In temperate climates, gladiola bulbs will renew, but pulling them up and storing will guarantee next year’s bloom.

Other bulbs are simple and, again, fairly inexpensive. Asiatic and Oriental Lilies and other in the same family are excellent mid summer. Day lilies may be used if you understand the stem must contain more than one bud as they open and close in one day.

Sunflowers, Dahlias and members of the Rudbecia family are primo for late summer.

In the greenhouse we grow an exquisite plant, Lisianthus, for our commercial bouquets. Super valued for their longevity once harvested, they are not an easy plant to germinate. Grab a few if you find them at your florist or farmers’ market. They come in several colors: pink, rose, pastel yellow and deep blue. I love the two-colored ones that are white trimmed with blue. Last but certainly not least, Zinnias are an all-time favorite. Carefully choose the tall variety for your vases.

Enjoy your flowers out and inside!

In Whispers of Danger and Love, the heroine, a landscaper, meets a challenge to create an instant cutting garden for a lady whose knowledge of gardening is next to nil. Cheryl chooses gladiolas and stakes them upright. The ruse works and her client is happily able to harvest her own bouquets. I admit I enjoyed working on this novel as it allowed the gardener in me to “play in the dirt” while I wrote the story.

… which leads me to call attention to my latest Cozy Adventure/ Mystery, Whispers of Danger and Love.

The heroine is a landscape architect who speaks gardening. She struggles with a client who demands a cutting garden mid summer, (and a hunky detective who seems bound to destroy her plants.) I enjoyed relaxing in her garden even as I created it from my own imaginings. It was also fun to watch the sparks fly between a couple who knew each other as children but must readjust their thinking as adults.

 

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Read Full Post »

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Coping with cooler temps and not being able to go outside

by

Emma Lane

But don’t be disgruntled. Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet. Not sure how, then let me help you. Here are a few tips to help make it easier.

Native and ornamental grasses: What fun to gather them on one of those perfect Fall days when the skies are vivid blue, a soft breeze tumbles your hair, and tick seed clings to your jeans. Best to do your hunt and gathering just before the leaves are all off the trees. Anything interesting is fair game, but do learn to identify dried ragweed and seeds. Not one to bring into the house; it will still make you sneeze. I’ve used the seed tassels of ornamental grasses and a wild reed which is listed as a nuisance plant. It overtakes our native cattails apparently. Even so I love the tassels which are free for the taking. Spot a batch where your sneakers will stay dry.

Love cattails? Pick when they turn brown, most likely mid to late summer. If you bring a ripe cattail inside to the warmth, it will explode with a predictable mess. Trust me; I’ve had the experience. Grab a handful in summer and dry them in a dark, dry place. Pull them out in the fall for a perfect addition to the dry bouquets.

Chinese lanterns (physalis) are perfect for Fall. They’ll last and last, but eventually lose their color. I’ve been known to spray them lightly with red paint, but the odor of fresh paint is not pleasant. Tend well ahead of time and let dry in the garage.

The purple flowers are grown under a hoop house which protects from the early frosts. They won’t stand up to a real freeze, but are perfect for Fall bouquets. Lisianthus is a favorite of florists because they last so long in the vase. Any late bloom will perk up a Fall bouquet. I’ve used long stems of mums, stray daisies, and geranium. Use your imagination and have fun with Fall bouquets. They’ll keep you cheerful until it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Don’t worry about which flowers to use. Anything and everything will be perfect because you chose it. The important ingredient in creating your bouquet is to have fun.

Now here’s a little from my latest Regency Romance to enjoy along with your lovely bouquet.

Elisabeth is a lively young lady ripe for adventure. She’s lived the sheltered life of the privileged during the Regency era of the 1800’s and is on the cusp of entering society when she joins her older sister at a house party. On the enormous estate in the spreading mansion of a duke, she mistakes her host for the fat squire down the road. Thus begins an adventure which is against all her training. She knows her mother would not approve. Was that half the intrigue of meeting a stranger in private?

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it?

BUY LINKS
AmazonWild Rose Publishing

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The garden guru Emma Lane bringing us her most recent tips.

Gardens grow of their own volition. You labor with the lay out and lovingly place the plants. By the third year, your garden has selected what it will and will not accept. But it’s gorgeous, healthy and you wouldn’t change a single thing. (Okay, maybe you’ll move that fragrant dianthus in front of that balloon flower which is taller.) Some of it is your fault because you couldn’t resist that church sale and your neighbor shared several perennials. Status normal. Allow your garden nostalgia. You show it off by saying, “I got that one for next to nothing on sale, Susan Smith gave me that one when she moved to Florida, I miss her so! My mother-in-law finally broke down and shared that rose. Would you believe how she can make cuttings and root them?” This iris came from … and that one came from…

SEASONAL: Do plan spring shrubs/bulbs which are so welcome. Fall red/yellow leaves.

INVASIVE: When someone mentions the plant is invasive, believe it! I love the golden blooms of Rudbeckia Goldstrum, but it will take over if given the chance. Plant it way over there where you can mow it if need be; same with any sort of mint.

PARTNERSHIPS: Delphenium back up to fences almost poetically, a partnership. Peonies are almost small bushes. I love to make a back ground hedge row from them. Yellow coreopsis and red yarrow are made in heaven for hot colors.

FRIENDSHIP: The deer, rabbits, groundhog, the neighbor’s pets, etc have destroyed some of your hard work? This is your opportunity to share and discover new friends. What better way to become acquainted? You’ll learn to laugh and maybe learn new gardening secrets while you commiserate.

Now that your garden is all you want it to be, take a good book and relax in all that beauty. May I suggest one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT

Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.

“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The green thumb of Janis Lane bringing us her gardening tips.

PLANTING FOR FALL

Some plants will perform admirably in the summer but must be stored for winter. Dahlias are a great example. Although fairly expensive, they are certainly worth investing for their gorgeous blossoms, but the fat tubers must be dug and brought inside (cellar) for the winter. There are several ways to care for them, but important is to keep them relatively dry in storage. Perhaps wrapped in newspaper and tucked safety inside a paper bag and stored on an upper shelf away from the damp floor.

After digging, the large tuber may be separated for an abundance of new plants in the next year. Each piece should contain at least three ‘eyes.” Remove as much soil as possible before storing.

Plant out in the spring when all danger of frost has left. Dahlias are a large plant and, although bred for the cut flower market with strong stems, should be staked for protection from a destructive wind. Choices are endless from small, short border varieties to large dinner plate blossoms. Colors are vivid with many bi-colored types. The Red Ball has proven to be a prolific producer of long stemmed blooms perfect for the vase or an arrangement. Full sun seems best although half day is probably adequate. Enjoy! Nothing says Fall like a large bouquet of dahlias for your indoor pleasure.

Fall outdoors is for Mums

Plant as an annual, or if you are one of those very lucky gardeners, cover with mulch and winter over. In the spring carefully cut back until the 4th of July for a compact plant.MUMS                         Mum varieties                Zinnias, dahlias, mums.

The richness of fall color presented prominently in the Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces the reader to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infected this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through the next three novels.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About Emma:

Emma Janis Lane writes in two genres, cozy mystery and historical Regency. She lives in Western NY where she enjoys snowy winters, delightful Springs, balmy Summers, and riotous colors in Fall. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected with Emma on Pinterest and Twitter.

Read Full Post »