Mystery Serials

Stunning Beadwork Purse Illustrates Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott”


Sandra Rothers is a beading hobbyist who has won many awards in both county and state fairs in her home state of Minnesota for her work.


She considers her “Lady of Shallot” beaded purse her most ambitious work so far.


Sandra first became interested in beading in the 1990s when she received a Christmas gift from an employee in her parents’ restaurant.

“It was a small kit to make beaded fringe earrings. I was hooked and began making and selling them,” said Sandra.

Around this time, she was helping to run a boutique in Stillwater, MN, and she began to sell her handcrafted beaded products there.

“For a time, I also helped run a bead store and, there, I was able to read and learn many different skills and techniques,” said Sandra.

She later began to enter county fairs with her beadwork and has also entered her work into the Minnesota State Fair for the past several years.

“I have been pleased to receive many first place and grand champion ribbons over the past years,” said Sandra.

This year, she used her favorite Tennyson poem as inspiration. She was first introduced to the poem in the 1980s Anne of Green Gables miniseries. In the series, there’s a scene where Anne acts out the poem, floating down the river in a rowboat and getting herself into a bit of trouble. (In the book, it’s Tennyson’s “Lancelot and Elaine” that is acted out.)

Sandra said she found the poem romantic and tragic.

“Over the years, I have read the poem, listened to the beautiful song by Loreena McKennitt …”

(Warning: The song below is almost 12 minutes long, so you may want to read ahead and come back to it later or just listen to the beginning for now, to get a feel for it.)

and researched the paintings of John William Waterhouse,” said Sandra.

John William Waterhouse [Public domain]
This was the first project for which she created an original chart with her own drawing. She used colored pencils and a peyote grid to create her chart. Peyote is the name of the stitch she uses, a kind of off loom bead weaving technique.


“When finished, the beads are turned into a kind of fabric that is then sewn together to form the body of the purse,” said Sandra.


To this, she added crystals and the focal “Lady” bead. The purse straps were made with a similar technique, with a line of poetry spelled out on it. There are lines of poetry woven into the reverse panel of the purse as well.


Sandra created the focal bead herself, saying it was “especially fun to make.” She first printed out a photo of the Waterhouse painting. cut out the shape of the lady and then decoupaged the image to a glass slide. The finished product was then a partially transparent cabochon bead through which the beadwork behind it could be viewed.



When the body of the purse was completed, Sandra added her fringe.


Sandra said her finished product is heavy, but she designed it to be functional with a cross body strap to help distribute the weight. She has worn it on special occasions.

“I was so proud to receive first place this year and have received much praise for my work. It was truly a labor of love,” said Sandra.

Three Song Performances Themed Around “Alice in Wonderland”


Illustration by John Tenniel via Wikimedia Commons

Close friends and family know I am a fan of Alice in Wonderland. It all started as a child when one of my older brothers gave me a picture book based on the original Disney animation. I had it read to me so many times that I memorized the book. As a teenager, I read the original Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass that inspired that movie and picture book and, more recently, read the novel in French.

In my YouTube explorations, I discovered three songs themed around Alice.

The first is just a fantastic cover of a fairly well-known Alice song,  Danny Elfman’s Alice in Wonderland theme from Disney’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland live action film. The performer is Angela July, an Indonesian harpist and singer who competed in Asia’s Got Talent in 2017. The song is ethereal with a hint of mystery.  Ms. July does a multi-track performance where she harmonizes with herself, singing in three parts, and accompanies her voice with harp. Of course, her ingenue pink dress and floral hair wreath does seem to put her into character.

The second is based on one of my favorite poems, which happens to be a poem from Alice Through the Looking Glass … “Jabberwocky.” “Jabberwocky” may seem to be a strange choice for a favorite poem, because it’s seemingly nonsense, but it’s clever nonsense. It tells the story of a slaying of a creature invented by Carroll but has the feel of a knightly dragon-slaying. It’s more difficult to understand when you read it out of context, but in the context of Alice Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains the poem, the first four lines that is, (which are also the last four lines.) Humpty Dumpty is an egghead, so he ought to understand things, right?

Many of the nonsense words are explained as portmanteaus, two words combined in one. “Mimsy” is explained as flimsy and miserable. “Slithy” is a combination of lithe and slimy. Other explanations are a little more fanciful, things that would not be picked up by the reader just by the sound of the word. “Well, ‘toves‘ are something like badgers … they’re something like lizards … and they’re something like corkscrews,” says Humpty Dumpty. For most of the silly words, you get a feeling of the meaning from its context. It has been suggested that “chortled” is a combination of chuckled and snorted.

This song is an original by Erutan, a classically trained singer-songwriter who specializes in a Celtic/medieval sound. She has three albums: Raindancer (2010,) A Bard’s Side Quest (2013,) and The Court of Leaves (2014.)

The third song makes no references to Alice in the actual lyrics, but the visual references in the video should be obvious. It’s “Pocketful of Poetry” by indie singer-songwriter Mindy Gledhill. The song is about being a creative soul, and the video tells the story of her imagination going wild while trapped in a mundane office job. I think any creative type, whether a writer, visual artist or musician, can find it very relatable. Look for the slightly disguised characters — the caterpillar, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts and the pack of cards.

10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Lift a Low Mood


I know a number of people going through stressful situations right now, and I also have some stress. It’s important to take a little self-care to reduce stress and its effects.

Below is a list of 10 ways to reduce stress and lift a low mood. Most of them involve distracting yourself from the cause of stress. When you have some problems and issues, you may have to schedule some time to think out creative solutions. Often though, our thoughts on our problems are not constructive and are just worries. Learn to recognize when your thoughts are constructive or worries. Worry is not helpful, and often we worry over things over which we have no control.

  1. Pray
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

You may or may not be a person of faith, but it is very stress relieving to turn over situations you can’t control to Someone who can.

2. Exercise

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

Exercise is healthy both mentally and physically. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Runners sometimes talk about a “runners’ high.” I like dance exercise which has a number of benefits. It is good exercise for your brain, since it involves learning choreography. Some studies seem to show it can help prevent Alzheimer’s. There may be social benefits if you go to a class, which may also help your mood. If you dance or do other exercise to music, you will also be ticking off two items on this list at once.

3. Do something creative. 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Doing creative things is a fun outlet for self-expression and emotion and helps to relax you. Both visual art and writing can have therapeutic benefits. Both visual art and writing have been scientifically proven to help people with trauma and negative emotions. You could sketch, scrapbook, journal, do creative writing or participate in any number of artistic hobbies. You could even combine writing and visual art in an art journal. Adult coloring books have been trendy for a while, and some doctors are recommending them to their patients for their therapeutic benefits. Even if you don’t feel you’re Michelangelo, you can play with colors and enjoy an adult coloring book.

4. Read a good book.

Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Reading for fun in a quiet atmosphere is also relaxing and an escape from stress. The same may not apply to reading a computer manual or a textbook. When a friend read my novel, Action Men with Silly Putty, he wrote to me saying, “I laughed so hard that I may not have depression or anxiety anymore.” It was nice to hear, and I considered it quite a compliment. If you’re in a low mood, be selective with your reading. This may not be the time to break out Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, (as much as I like that book, play and movie.)

5. Listen to music.


Music can also play a part in emotional well-being. Speaking from experience, I believe the right music can aid sleep and be therapeutic for migraine pain relief. As with books, be selective with your listening. I remember reading how some teenagers committed suicide after listening to songs that seemed to encourage it. Some people are also very sensitive to songs in a minor key that have a sad sound. Listen to songs that are uplifting or encourage a cheerful or peaceful mood.

6. Talk to someone.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

Sometimes, it just helps to talk to someone about your troubles. If you have such a someone in your life, you have found a treasure. Some may try to help you solve your troubles. Others may just listen and sympathize. It may just be helpful to know you have an ally who understands your feelings.

7. Make an effort to think on positive things.

Photo by Krista Margulson on Unsplash

Yes, looking at cute animals like the ones above is good for your health. Cuddling one, if you have a pet at home, is even better. It isn’t just cute animals that put positive thoughts in your brain. Sometimes, when I am stressed, I look at my Pinterest collections of inspirational quotes, uplifting Scripture verses and photography of nature scenes, flowers and animals. It’s good to remind yourself of hope and beauty in the world.

8. Read up on uplifting news and acts of philanthropy.

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Headline news is full of tragedy, crime and controversy, but there are other stories. Focusing on negativity in the world can be depressing. As a reporter, I was often informed of churches and other organizations and their philanthropic efforts. They help the hungry, the homeless, orphans, abused children and animals and victims of natural disasters. They advocate for and raise funds for disease research. For every issue you can imagine, there are people helping to make things better. It’s better to focus on this aspect of things.

9. Watch and/or listen to comedy.

Photo by David Yanotuma on Unsplash

Laughter isn’t just frivolous. It’s actually good for you. Laughter relieves your stress response, soothes tension, improves your immune system, relieves pain and improves your mood. Watch or listen to some comedy in your down time to help relieve some tension. Sirius radio has a comedy station or two that you can listen to during your commute.

10. Do something kind for someone else.

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Doing a kind act for someone else can feel very satisfying. It helps to get your mind off of yourself and your own difficulties. Going through some difficulty can also encourage your sympathetic feelings for someone else also going through a hard time. You can tick two items off this list by creating a handmade card of encouragement for someone you know.





15 Times Cake Writers Wrote Literally Every Word of Instruction

it's a bowling birthday party (1)

The following list of cake writing disasters may inspire you to support literacy programs near you.



The mistake of writing down the specific instructions in addition to the actual message is bad enough. The word “underneath” has been murdered, split in two with the end chopped off.


Source: John O’Farrell on

Was this really hard to understand? Does anyone walk into a party and say, “Happy 50th Birthday! Oh, and, by the way, comedy/tragedy masks.”



So, there are, apparently, at least two people in the world who agree on an alternate spelling of “underneath” and also think it is a good idea to write “under neat that” on a cake. Notice the sprinkles are also spelled out in writing rather than being, you know, actual sprinkles.


Source: GeorgeDuranEats on Twitter

Apparently, he or she was told to write nothing on the cake. Maybe, they thought “Nothing” was the occasion of celebration? Sometimes, you just want cake for no reason in particular. Happy Nothing to you.


Source: TNI Press LTD

There are so many things wrong with this cake that it’s hard to know where to begin. Congrats has a strange consonant ending and is now a possessive. Underneath once again has a strange spelling.  Would I find this spelling on Urban Dictionary? The “and” has a very confusing placement, and I’m not sure why Don or Dan’s name is in quotes. Also, there are naked babies with mohawks riding carrots.


cake (1)
Source: Reddit

Would there be any reason to write that second line? Is it a command as in, “Be as small as possible” or a statement “(You are) as small as possible”?



How can someone who can write words so neatly not understand them?



“Bon Anniversaire!” Instructions probably should have spelled this one out for the bakery, but, on the other hand, there is Google Translate.


Source: Imgur

Is it possible that some of these cake writers just have a sense of humor and are playing pranks, hoping for viral photos?


Source: Imgur

Is that request for the birthday recipient or for all of the guests at the party? Where’s the giant birthday card?



These seniors are graduating and don’t want to think about English homework instructions.



Now, the birthday recipient will wonder what sort of special picture he or she received as an unusual gift … not a framed picture, mind you, just a picture on a flashdrive.



Well, that’s one way of putting it on there.


Feliz cumpleaños!


Source: Meme Guy

Did the person think “White Big” was a nickname? The person ordering the cake just wanted “Happy Birthday” written in big letters.

Ah well. The moral of this story is, be very careful when ordering your cake.

11 People Foods Doggies Can Eat and Six They Can’t

It's a DoggyDog World

You are busy cooking or eating dinner, and your canine pal is looking at you like you are leaving him out of something important and how could you do this to them? Should you give him a little scrap from your plate? Is it healthy or potentially harmful?

Photo by Daniel Brunsteiner on Unsplash

Here are 11 foods dogs can eat and seven they can’t.

  1. Peanut butter
Photo by Sydney Rae on Unsplash

Dogs love peanut butter, and peanut butter is healthy for them. It is a good source of protein, heart-healthy fats, niacin, Vitamin E and Vitamin B. Don’t, however, give your dog sugar-free peanut butter as it may contain Xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic for dogs. Raw, unsalted peanut butter is best.

2. Carrots 

Photo by Harshal S. Herve on Unsplash

When your doggy chews a carrot, he may also be removing plaque from his teeth. Carrots are high in fiber and help to prevent runny poo. Carrots are packed with nutrition good for both humans and dogs, including beta-carotene/Vitamin A. They provide a low-fat and low-calorie snack.

3. Pumpkin

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

You can give your dog canned or cooked pumpkin to help with digestive issues. Pumpkin is also a good source of beta carotene/Vitamin A and fiber.

4. Salmon

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Salmon is very healthy for both dogs and humans with protein, healthy fats like Omega 3s and amino acids. Salmon is good for the brain, joints, immune system and a healthy coat.

No sushi for the doggy! Raw salmon can have parasites that can make dogs sick and cause vomiting and diarrhea. Be sure to cook salmon thoroughly before giving it to your dog.

5. Some berries

Photo by Weak Lifter on Unsplash

Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are all berries that are healthy for dogs to eat. Strawberries have fiber and are high in Vitamin C. They also contain an enzyme that helps to whiten dogs’ teeth. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals. Blackberries are also full of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Try giving your doggy frozen berries as a snack.

6. Eggs

Photo by Natalie Rhea Riggs on Unsplash

Cooked eggs are healthy for dogs and have the benefits of protein, riboflavin and selenium.

7. Coconut

Photo by Jonas Ducker on Unsplash

Coconut has a number of benefits for dogs, including boosting the immune system and helping combat bad breath and skin conditions.

8. Green beans

Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Green beans are a good snack that are high in fiber but low in calories.

9. Yogurt 

Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

Yogurt is good for protein and calcium and has probiotics that are good for your dog’s digestion. Plain yogurt without flavors or sweeteners is best.

10. Oatmeal

Photo by Carlos T on Unsplash

Oatmeal has vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber that is good for a dog with digestive issues.

11. Apples

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

People Foods Doggies Can’t Eat

  1. Chocolate
Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

You may have heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, and that is right. Chocolate contains methylxanthines that are toxic for dogs. It can cause diarrhea and vomiting. A large amount can cause seizures and even death. Dark chocolate is especially harmful.

2. Garlic and Onions

Photo by Matthew Pilachowski

Onions and garlic can kill red blood cells and cause anemia.

3. Certain Nuts

Photo by NordWood on Unsplash

Macadamia nuts, walnuts and pecans are toxic for dogs. Macadamia nuts are especially toxic and can cause vomiting, lethargy, inability to walk and can affect a dog’s nervous system. Cashews and peanuts are safe and okay in moderation.

4. Almonds

Photo by Irina Kostenich on Unsplash

Almonds are not toxic to dogs like some other nuts are, but if your dog does not chew it properly, it can get lodged in the esophagus or tear the windpipe.

5. Grapes/Raisins

Photo by Bill Williams on Unsplash

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure for dogs and can cause vomiting and other symptoms even in small amounts.

6. Avocados

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Avocados have persin, a substance that might cause vomiting or diarrhea for your dog.

Now when you sit down to eat and your doggy looks at you with longing eyes, you will know what you can safely give him.

Photo by Lorca Wiles on Unsplash