A Favorite Thing

By Sherry — I’m melting in the summer heat

I originally wrote about this on my SherryHarrisauthor.com website a couple of years ago. But I was dusting today and thought maybe you all would like this story too.

One day when I was wandering around an antique store in Concord, Massachusetts I found the beautiful little jar below. I loved it for two reasons — it was blue and white and it said Boston on it. I knew I would live in the area forever and thought it would be a wonderful keepsake.

IMG_2667This side of the jar reads: MAGDA TOILET CREAM, C.J. Countie G CR, CHEMISTS, BOSTON, U.A. — other jars say USA but the S on mine has disappeared.

I decided to use the jar in the third book of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries , All Murders Final. I wanted to find out more about the jar so I did some research (thank you Google). Boy, was I surprised! There was a jar similar to mine on Etsy and the seller provided a lot of information — you can view the full post here. I had always thought the lid said Counti of Boston with a little extra flourish by the word “Counti”. In reality Countie is the family name of the company that manufactured Magda Toilet Cream. Here’s a picture of the lid:

IMG_2669 The Esty site provided this information: One of the Countie family members was kind enough to contact me and offer more information about this beautiful jar. Here’s what she told me:

‘My Grandfather Francis’ two Uncle’s John and Charles started this business in the late 1800’s. They called it MAGDA toilet cream. They were Chemists in the beauty business and developed this wonderful cream. Beacause it was in such demand, Cheeseborough Company, which is now Pond’s bought the formula and called it Pond’s Cold Cream. They used the porcelain jar back in those days because of it’s lower cost. Pond’s Cold Cream

IMG_2670This reads: Ah, Exquisite Communion of rare blossoms (Isn’t that so perfect?)

IMG_2671And this one reads: A dainty luxury for me skin. (I love that!)

I’ve done some more research since I wrote the first post.

The National Museum of American History has one, but it’s not currently on display. Click here for the link.

There are eight jars for sale on eBay and range in price from $26.75 to $199.00. I paid $10 for mine. (I’m almost tempted to by another one!)

There are two for sale on Esty. Both are around $150.00.

Most sites date these from the mid to late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Readers: What small thing do you have that you treasure?

A Sarah Winston Tour

By Sherry enjoying a rainy late fall day in Northern Virginia



I’m happy to do another give away today! You can choose a copy of one of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. I will also give away either a vintage Christmas or birthday postcard.



I was delighted when Robin Templeton asked me if I would take her on a tour of Sarah Winston sites before the writers conference, Crime Bake, started. And was equally delighted when we found out Eleanor (Ellie) Carwood Jones could also join us. These are all places Sarah visits or mentions in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

Photo by Ellie

It was the perfect fall afternoon. There were so many places I wanted to take them and I knew we couldn’t do it all. Plus by the time we drove from Dedham, Massachusetts to Concord we’d only have about two and a half hours of daylight. I had to pick wisely. (And yes I ducked down to fit in the picture — we were trying to capture some of the fall foliage!)

The Minute Man National Historic Park which spans Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, MA is one of my favorite places. It follow the path that of the opening battle of the Revolutionary War. I decided we’d stop at the Paul Revere capture

Photo by Ellie

Photo by Ellie

site. I was fascinated with the true story of what happened the night Paul Revere road from Boston.

I’d always believe the poem by Longfellow that Revere was the only rider and that he made it to Concord to alert them that the Redcoats were coming. Boy was I wrong.

Our next stop was at The Wayside the home of three very famous authors: Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Lothrop (Margaret Sidney — she wrote The Five Little Peppers books). The stories that take place in Little Women happened at this house.

img_1547 I pointed them to the left and said, “There’s Orchard House where Lousia Mae Alcott wrote Little Women.”  I wish you all could have seen how excited Robin and Ellie were. It made me so happy to show them around!

I think Louisa’s room is on the upper right. I wish we would have time to taken the tour because it is fantastic.

img_1557Our next stop took us through the town of Concord to the North Bridge of “the shot heard round the world” fame. However, before we walked to the bridge we stopped at the Old Manse near the bridge. Ralph Waldo Emerson lived here. He let Nathanial Hawthorne and his wife Sophia honeymoon here (for three years). Thoreau was their gardener.

The North Bridge is where the militiamen first fired on the Redcoats. The fight had the militiamen chasing the Redcoats all the way back to Boston. The bridge is a reproduction of the original which was taken down in 1788. There is something so special about this spot — you can just feel the spirit of freedom here.

photo by Robin

photo by Robin


Across the bridge is a statue of a Minute Man to honor those who fought. The statue was sculpted by Daniel Chester French who had his first art lessons with May Alcott. His best known work is the Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.





Photo by Ellie

Photo by Ellie

Our next stop was at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord. (Sarah goes there at the end of Tagged For Death). This is not the Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame — that cemetery is in New York. But it is famous for its Author Ridge where Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, and Emerson (along with their families) are buried.

It’s a beautiful space and it’s amazing to think that all these great authors, who knew each other in life, are buried so close together.



Here are some other images from the cemetery:

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By this time we’d worked up an appetite. I suggested a couple of places to eat but we ended up at one of my favorites The Colonial Inn. It’s supposed to be haunted. Ellie took these photos and the food shots:

And then there’s our food chicken pot pie, cod with crab stuffing, and Yankee pot roast:

After dinner it was on to Bedford which I’ve fictionalized for my books and re-named Ellington. We stopped at the town common and parked across the street from “Sarah’s” house. I’ve added a covered porch to the house and it sits a bit farther back from the street. This is the church that Sarah sees out her window.


This is a picture of Sarah’s house (I took these on another trip). The second picture is of DiNapoli’s Roast Beef and Pizza if you were standing in front of Sarah’s house. It’s the green building. Paint and Wine would be to the right.

We ended our tour at Bedford Farms Ice Cream. We managed to save a little room after our dinner. Sarah often goes to get a kiddie cup of ice cream. Believe it or not the picture below is the kiddie cup. Sarah’s favorite is in the middle — Almond Joy. Yum!


It was such a fun day for me to show Robin and Ellie some of my favorite places and Sarah’s too. Next time I hope I can take them on base, spend more time at the Minute Man National Historic Park, and tour Orchard House. And then of course have ice cream.

Readers: Do you have a favorite small town?

Wicked Wednesday–Favorite Breakfasts Out

FlippedcoverFor Wicked Wednesday, we continue our celebration of Flipped for Murder by our own Maddie Day with a discussion of our favorite breakfast joints and the best thing on the menu there. Go to it Wickeds!

Liz: There’s an lovely organic food place not far from me that makes THE BEST pumpkin smoothies this time of year. Heirloom Food Company has a whole lot of awesome to offer – like their Portobello and Kale Tofu Scramble – but those smoothies….as a pumpkin freak, I could live off them.

Jessie: I’m actually not a big fan of breakfast beyond just a cup of coffee, but the Friendly Toast,  in Portsmouth, NH makes me reconsider my opinion. The menu is appealing and the decor is kitschy and unexpected. Truth be told, their lunch and dinner menu is at least as good as the breakfast offerings.

Julie: Jessie, we have a Friendly Toast in Cambridge. I wonder if they are related? (News flash–they are! Found out when I went to get the link!) First off, let me say that breakfast/brunch out is my favorite thing in the world. The S&S serves breakfast all day long, is a deli, and I can walk there. Love it. This summer, I went to Donna Jean’s Diner in Weir’s Beach, and it was one of the best breakfasts ever. So, so good.

Barb: As is well known on the blog, I am not a morning person. So it’s not surprising that for years my favorite breakfast place was The New Yorker Diner in Watertown, MA. The diner was open 6:00 am to 2:00 pm, and then it would reopen again, 11:00 pm to 4:00 am. So in our youth, and a little beyond, it was a great place to head after a night of partying. Favorite order: omelet with ham, onions and cheese, served with the best home fries in the world and scali toast. Now that I live in Somerville, I’ve switched my allegiance to the terrific Kelly’s Diner. Favorite order: blueberry pancakes, of course!

Edith: When I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, my friend Jennifer and I would go out to eat at a diner whose name escapes me. But the memory of their crispy hash browns still makes me swoon – sopping up a couple of runny fried egg yolks – and I’ve never had any as good since. Also love brunch, and had a fabulous California Eggs Benedict in West Hollywood a couple of years ago with two high school friends. So of course that is going in book two as a breakfast special. But the whole wheat banana walnut pancakes at the Story General Store were the best – and inspired this new series!

IMG_3625_2Sherry: I’ve lived in eight different states and hands down the best breakfast places are in California. That said I loved Helen’s in Concord, Massachusetts when we lived in Massachusetts. And I’m a sucker for the french toast at a place called Spartans here in Virginia.

What about you, readers? Favorite breakfast joint? Favorite order?