Death Among the DoiliesMoving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Indigo Gap, North Carolina, has been a kind of culture shock. We’ve been so busy preparing Kildare House for the first craft retreat that we’ve barely had time to absorb all the changes.

My best friend Jane and I have moved here to start a new business—and new lives. I used to be a counselor in a women’s shelter and developed an anxiety problem—so dreadful that my doctor nearly ordered me to quit my job. In the mean time, I had started a blog, “Cora Crafts a Life,” where I wrote about my craft projects with the women I counseled. Crafting can be a healing experience. Turns out, it’s a thing people are very interested in. Who knew? My blog took off and I realized I could turn it into more than a happy, friendly safe online space and started dreaming of my own craft retreat. And here we are. (If you’d like to read about how we found this place check this out.)

Jane came into the shelter one day and we renewed our friendship from when we were girls. She needed our services, which broke my heart, but it paved the way for our new venture. She’s an extremely talented potter and will be teaching pottery classes at the retreat. Kildare House has a lovely carriage house on the property. Jane’s refurbishing into a studio and apartment. Her and her daughter, London, live in the upstairs apartment and the bottom floor will eventually be her studio and shop. The situation is pretty much in flux here—even as we approach opening day.

Jane is finishing up with the painting of the inside of her house, while the outside of it gets painted—overseen by the historical commission, of course. (In fact, the painters are outside right now, as I work on my blog post. They are a noisy lot.) Kildare House is one of the most historical properties in the town. We have to abide by certain rules and regulations, governed by them. For example, the color of the carriage house has to be historically accurate. We don’t mind—after all, the historic charm of Indigo Gap is one of the reasons we purchased this place.

I’m trying to keep my blog updated as we go along with all the preparation for the retreat, so my readers will feel a part of it. On my to do list today: write a blog post, meet with a caterer, and with a man named Edgar Thorncraft from the Historical Commission about our parking situation during the retreat. Also, a shipment of broom straw is expected any minute. Our first retreat is hosting Jude Sawyer, who makes the most exquisite brooms. I don’t really like the idea of having a man teacher at an all-woman retreat, but his name pulled a lot of people in—and it got Ruby O’Malley on board.

Ruby lived on the property when we bought it. She was grandfathered in to the sale. Literally. She’d been living in the gardener’s cottage on the property for more than twenty years and the owner wanted to make sure she had a place to live, which was so nice of him, wasn’t it? Turns out, she’s an herbalist and fits right in with our craft retreat plans, even though she’s taken her good old time about saying “yes” to be a teacher for us. Jude Sawyer’s name did the trick. I call him a “rock star broom maker.”

This busy time has been good for me. I’m not saying there are no moments of stress, but so far, I’ve not had any panic attacks or other problems. I know in my heart this is the right path for me and am hopeful that it works out so I can continue helping others through crafting. One of my favorite crafts is take old things and turn them into something pretty and useful. As I continue to fashion new things out of old, make plans for my first retreat, I feel like I’m really just beginning to craft my own life. Everybody can use a fresh start, can’t they?

Simple DIY Tea Cup Bird Feeder
This is one of the simplest bird feeders you can make from tea cups. If you don’t have extra tea cups on hand, there’s always the Goodwill and other secondhand shops. Using old tea cups to feed the birds? What could be better?

Supply list:

  • A tea cup and saucer.
  • Wild bird seed.
  • Super adhesive glue.
  • A hanger or string.

Make sure your cup and saucer are clean and dry.

Squeeze some of the glue onto the edge of your saucer. Tip your tea cup onto its side and place on top of the glue. You will need to let it set for about twenty-four hours before you hang it outside.

Next all you have to do is pour in your birdseed and hang up your feeder.


Death Among the Doilies is the first book in the NEW Cora Crafts mystery series, published by Kensington, August 2016.

For thirty-something blogger Cora Chevalier, small-town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, seems like the perfect place to reinvent her life. Shedding a stressful past as a counselor for a women’s shelter, Cora is pouring all her talents—and most of her savings—into a craft retreat business, with help from close pal and resident potter Jane Starr. Between transforming her Victorian estate into a crafter’s paradise and babysitting Jane’s daughter, the new entrepreneur has no time for distractions. Especially rumors about the murder of a local school librarian . . .

But when Jane’s fingerprints match those found at the grisly crime scene, Cora not only worries about her friend, but her own reputation. With angry townsfolk eager for justice and both Jane’s innocence and the retreat at risk, she must rely on her creative chops to unlace the truth behind the beloved librarian’s disturbing demise. Because if the killer’s patterns aren’t pinned, Cora’s handiwork could end up in stitches . . .

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About the author
MOLLIE COX BRYAN is also the author of the Agatha Award-nominated Cumberland Creek mystery series, as well as the new historical fiction “Memory of Light.” She currently writes and crafts in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and two daughters. Please visit her at molliecoxbryan.com, where you can sign up for her exclusive newsletter. For scrapbooking, recipes, and other crafty-freebies, join her on Pinterest. Visit her online at Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Death Among the Doilies. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 4, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

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