Idyll Dreams & Nonsensical Things

The random thoughts and whimsical writings of Cari Lyn Jones

“Hoax quietly watched as she spun flax and nettle into thread, twisting the strands of hair in as she twined the fibers together. A bowl of water sat on the floor at her elbow, the scent of rosemary rising up from it every time she dipped her fingers in to wet them while she spun.”

– The Broken Court, Chapter 3, On the Breath of the Storm

One little sentence and I was lost for hours.

It turns out that there are a ton of natural fibers you can spin into thread. There are the common ones you have probably already heard of such as flax, hemp, and cotton. But there are also several less common ones; rose, banana, nettles. Yep, nettles. Stinging nettles, the bane of bare feet everywhere. It was a very interesting process to watch!

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Youtube – Processing stinging nettles

Youtube – How to make fiber from stinging nettles

How to Root Ret Nettles to get fibre for cloth

How to make nettle yarn- Mother Earth News

Turning nettles into textiles – Mother Earth News

The most surprising natural fiber you can spin yourself

Weaving class – The basics

Beginner’s guide to Weaving – The Weaving Loom

When I first read “The Fly-Away Horse” by Eugene Fields it set my imagination alight! I found it in an old book of poems at my grandmother’s house. I don’t remember how old I was (pretty young), and I thought it would be an amazing thing to be able to fly away to faraway lands on the back of a winged horse. Which was only encouraged further by reruns of Terrytoons’s cartoon Luno the White Stallion.

When I was a little older, I would sit out in the pasture on my mare’s back while she grazed, book in hand (she was so patient with me!). I would do as much daydreaming as I would do reading, and came up with reams of stories many of which are still filed away in my file cabinet today.

Many of the books that I read at my grandmother’s house were lost over the years, but I still have that book of poems in my library. Published in the 1920s, it is over a hundred years old now and is a little worse for wear. But I wouldn’t give it up for the world, although I may have to find someone to help me restore or preserve it fairly soon. Thankfully, it was not the only one I managed to keep, and I have made a point to collect many of the books I remember reading at her house. Most are extremely old-fashioned by today’s standards, but they carry many memories for me. It has also been very amusing when rereading them to realize just how much of the story I embellished in my head when I was young.

I recently saw this journal in the bookstore and I fell in love with it. When I showed my husband he bought it for me, wonderful man that he is. He asked me what I planned to write in it. I didn’t have an answer at the time, but I think I do now. I am going to write all the things that bring a sense of wonder with them and set me to daydreaming. Song lyrics, poems, movie quotes, scenes from books… that is what I will write in there. And I think it only right that the Fly-Away Horse be the first entry.

I have had this since I was in fifth grade. It hangs in my daughter’s room now. And though I don’t think she sets quite as much store by it as I did, it still gives me a delightfully warm feeling every time I see it.

The Fly-Away Horse
by Eugene Fields

Oh, a wonderful horse is the Fly-Away Horse--
Perhaps you have seen him before;
Perhaps, while you slept, his shadow has swept
Through the moonlight that floats on the floor.
For it's only at night, when the stars twinkle bright,
That the Fly-Away Horse, with a neigh
And a pull at his rein and a toss of his mane,
Is up on his heels and away!
The moon in the sky,
As he gallopeth by,
Cries: "Oh! What a marvelous sight!"
And the Stars in dismay
Hide their faces away
In the lap of old Grandmother Night.
It is yonder, out yonder, the Fly-Away Horse
Speedeth ever and ever away--
Over meadows and lane, over mountains and plains,
Over streamlets that sing at their play;
And over the sea like a ghost sweepeth he,
While the ships they go sailing below,
And he speedeth so fast that the men on the mast
Adjudge him some portent of woe.
"What ho, there!" they cry,
As he flourishes by
With a whisk of his beautiful tail;
And the fish in the sea
Are as scared as can be,
From the nautilus up to the whale!
And the Fly-Away Horse seeks those far-away lands
You little folk dream of at night--
Where candy-trees grow, and honey-brooks flow,
And corn-fields with popcorn are white;
And the beasts in the wood are ever so good
To children who visit them there--
What glory astride of a lion to ride,
Or to wrestle around with a bear!
The monkeys, they say:
"Come on, let us play,"
And they frisk in the coconut-trees:
While the parrots, that cling
To the peanut-vines sing
Or converse with comparative ease!
Off! scamper to bed -- you shall ride him to-night!
For, as soon as you've fallen asleep,
With a jubilant neigh he shall bear you away
Over forest and hillside and deep!
But tell us, my dear, all you see and you hear
In those beautiful lands over there,
Where the Fly-Away Horse wings his far-away course
With the wee one consigned to his care.
Then grandma will cry
In amazement: "Oh, my!"
And she'll think it could never be so.
And only we two
Shall know it is true--
You and I, little precious! shall know!

A few pictures from around my garden that have been patiently waiting on my camera for me to remember them.

The moon was a silver bost sailing on an endless sea. It reminds me of this bit from Fairer than a Fairy in my Fairytale Series.

“They landed on a rocky shore and left the boat glowing softly on the beach behind them. When scarcely a minute later she looked back, it was nowhere to be seen. Although a thin moon now rose in the sky just ahead of them to light their way.”

And can you also see the valkyries riding in the clouds of the last photo?

The promised recipe from my Instagram post.

Lemony Chickpeas and Crispy Tofu

14 oz. extra firm tofu

4 garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp margarine

2 cans chickpeas rinsed and drained

½ cup cropped arugula

½ cup cropped cilantro

I cup riced cauliflower

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp lime juice

Dry mix:

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp granulated garlic

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ tsp green salt (if you do not have green salt, use ½ tsp salt total)

¼ tsp salt + 1 pinch (omit if not using green salt)

¼ tsp paprika

Cut tofu into approx. 1 inch thick slices. Press to remove water.

In a medium size bowl combine cornstarch, granulated garlic, pepper flakes, green salt and salt. Mix well and set aside. Rinse and drain chickpeas, sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Heat sesame seed oil in  a large pan over medium heat. cook tofu until fairly crispy on both sides. Remove allow to cool then cut into chunks. Toss in dry mix.

In same pan, heat olive oil. Add minced garlic, cook until fragrant. Add tofu. Cook for 5 min. stirring constantly so it does not stick to the pan. Add chickpeas, cauliflower, cilantro and arugula. Cook for another 5 min. or so until arugula is wilting. Add lemon juice, lime juice and margarine. Turn heat down to medium low. Simmer for additional 5 to 10 min. until liquid in mostly gone.

Serve warm as is or with feta or goat cheese topping. Goes great with crusty bread or naan.

Mediterranean Chicken Skillet

I found this recipe on Gypsyplate. I added artichoke hearts, and used arugula and watercress instead of fresh herbs because that is what I had on hand. It turned out specular! That site has a slew of fantastic recipes so you should definitely go take a look.

‘Tis the season…

Sometimes, a scene for a story will burst full-grown into my mind, and sometimes it’s just a vague inkling. A foggy idea that sends me off along a twisty path that is not guaranteed to lead anywhere. In this case, my meandering journey was prompted by a scene that may (or may not) appear in the second book of a gaslamp fantasy series whose first book I haven’t even finished writing yet! *sigh* Still, I thought it might be fun to share a few of the links that I found along the way. (See below)

And in keeping with the turn-of-the-century Christmas theme, I have a short tale you may enjoy reading titled The Rocking Horse that I posted a couple Christmases ago.

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Vintage Christmas Candle Holders

Christmas Tree Candleholders

The thought of a mustache cup as a Christmas gift tickled my fancy no end. I remember seeing one of these in my grandmother’s house. I believe it actually belonged to my great-grandfather, or maybe it was even older than that.

Vintage moustache cup

Christmas in 19th Century America

A black and white photo from around 1895 of the Christmas Groupe Car Troupe

The History of Stringing Popcorn

The Curious KISStory of Mistletoe

Mistletoe: The Evolution of a Christmas Tradition

Wishing all of you a joyous holiday season and a prosperous, healthy New Year!

Photo by Skylar Kang on

November came and went before I knew it, and now December is nearly gone as well. The year is drawing to a close and as always that leads me to reflect on what I’ve accomplished over the past twelve months. Regarding my writing, that usually means I end up lamenting about those projects I thought would be finished by now, but aren’t. But too be honest, that sort of thinking really doesn’t get a person anywhere, does it? So instead, I decided to reflect on those things I did accomplish.

The first of those is the release of my second book in the Stolen Away series, The Broken Court.

I loved creating this book, loved drawing the cover art and the interior illustrations, loved writing the story. I especially loved reading what others thought of it and the first book of the same series, Lumina and the Goblin King.

“…I loved how this book is very subtle. It’s not the kind of book you can enjoy when you’re leaning back and shut off your brain. But if you read between the lines, if you see the story of the world changing, of an old woman changing, of love and all the different ways to express and how love, you will find a beautiful book set in a beautiful world.” – Goodreads review of The Broken Court

“…My favourite character remains the silver cat: well-intentioned, but believes the world revolves around him (and with cats, maybe that’s the truth).” – Goodreads review of The Broken Court

“…sweet read with strong, well-developed characters. The world building is detailed, imaginative and so well done…” Amazon review of The Broken Court

“…This slim story is basically perfect. It’s deceptively simple, but never simplistic; achingly beautiful, sad and hopeful.” – Goodreads review of Lumina and the Goblin King

“…a lovely book, warmly and lyrically written with appealing characters and interesting twists on all sorts of traditional folklore.” – Amazon review of Lumina and the Goblin King.

If you are interested in reading the full reviews, you can find the links here. The Broken Court; Goodreads, Amazon – Lumina and the Goblin King; Goodreads, Amazon

I do not, however, love how Amazon and Goodreads have two author profiles listed for me; one under Cari Lyn and one under Cari Lyn Jones. Why, you might ask? Well, because I’ve published under both names. My children’s illustrated books were published under Cari Lyn and my novels not necessarily meant for children were published under Cari Lyn Jones. I have yet to find a way to put them all together or keep them all separate. (A task for next year, I’m thinking)

That does lead me to the second thing I accomplished, book-wise, this year. And that is the release of second editions of all three of my illustrated children’s books.

As I laid these books out in their new format I fell in love with the characters all over again.

So on reflection, I did accomplish a few things this year. Maybe not all of what I had hoped to, but there were accomplishments achieved all the same. And even the one I fell short on, my gaslamp fantasy Where Angels Dream, is still at almost 90,000 words the longest manuscript I have ever written, and nothing to sneeze at.

So, I’ve decided not to be too hard on myself. Every accomplishment, big or small, is something to celebrate.

What am I supposed to be doing? Why writing, of course! But as I have posted more than once lately, the last 50 pages of my current WIP have become an endless hallway, every time I am sure I am close to finished, I find there is still a long way to go.

Plus this time of year tends to bring with it many distractions. Pleasant though they are, they are NOT conducive to getting anything like work done. As you can see…

Happy Halloween!

It should come as no surprise to you that when I started my current WIP “Where the Angels Dream” I fell down a LOT of rabbit holes. The story, set sometime in the late 1890s, is about Devon and Sara Amaris, a brother and sister with a strong affinity for the dead. There were so many interesting subjects in this story to explore: ghosts, cemeteries, creatures of other planes, clairvoyants, hauntings, practitioners of magick, zombi, possession… not to mention Halloween in the 1890s!

Liam’s dreams the night before had been anything but restful. He had met Sara, as usual, that morning, and afterward had set off to get a candle for Gertie and find some work for the day. Unfortunately, he had not had a great deal of success.

He had had better luck getting work that evening, but he found himself having a hard time settling into it. That same bad feeling from the night before had kept gnawing at him. Silas had had the right of it when he had said the devil was in the air. So Liam had not even looked for more jobs after he had picked up the pay from his first one. Instead, he had turned his restless feet in the direction of a certain boarding house on Winding Street.

There had been plenty of people out and about, mostly drifting down towards the town square where the bonfire would be. Some had been wearing costumes of witches, devils, angels, and the like. 

He had passed a few houses with jack o’ lanterns in their windows or on their walks; their pumpkin faces leering at him as he had walked by. Or maybe they had been watching the figures that were lurking in the shadows with their flour bombs and string at the ready. Of course, no one had bothered him, and in fact, more than a few had whispered out a hello or an invitation to join them in their fun. He had waved them all away, having left that sort of nonsense behind long ago.

Liam soon found himself standing outside Mrs. O’Toole’s garden gate just after the street lamps had been lit. A single light shining from the garret window of what he was pretty sure was Sara’s room had told him someone was home, but he had not quite been able to bring himself to go up and knock on the door of the dark house. He had not been able to bring himself to leave either. Instead, he had found a place in the narrow alley that ran between the boarding house and the house next door where he could keep an eye on everything. He was still there ten minutes later, leaning up against the neighbor’s garden wall as a cold fog rolled in from the ocean. 

If he had seen someone else doing what he was doing, he would have thought him a creep. But a niggling worry had kept him where he was, half hidden in the wall’s shadow. His eyes watched the people as they made their way down Winding Street, occasionally glancing up at the square of golden light above him where he could sometimes see the flicker of a silhouette ghost across the room’s ceiling. A few people moved further down the alley, sometimes even passing by the spot where he stood, but no one seemed to notice him.

One of these passersby, a woman, stopped beneath an old oak tree that was growing just outside Mrs. O’Toole’s garden, its huge trunk doing its level best to slowly swallow the iron fence as it leaned over the garden like a nosy neighbor peaking into the boarding house’s windows. She stood there for a good while, her hair shining like copper pennies as she stared up at the same window that Liam was watching. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end, and if he had been a dog he would have growled. Why was she standing there? He went to leave the spot where he had been standing with the vague idea that he would go ask her, but he found he could not move, not even an inch. It was like he had been turned to stone and the air around him was icy cold.

A man, tall silk topper on his head, came strolling down from the other end of the alley just then, humming a low tune as he walked. The woman looked over her shoulder, then drifted along as though she had never stopped at all. 

The gentleman moved passed the spot where Liam was loitering, the light from the gaslamps on Winding Street made him into a thing of quicksilver and ebony. His eyes shone uncannily from the shadow of his hat as he glanced unerringly over at where Liam stood. His lips quirked up in a tiny smile as he touched his cane to the brim of his top hat, like a larger dog taking notice of an overly ambitious pup. Anger burned away the cold and Liam thought he might have actually growled then because the man’s smile grew.

– unedited excerpt from Where the Angels Dream

Below are some of the links I came across in my wanderings, if you are curious.

And if you have any links that you think I might find interesting, then please share them in the comments below. I will happily lose myself down them as well.

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Wikipedia – Spirtualism

Victorian Spirtualism

Wikipedia – Mediumship

NPR – Occult America

The Difference Between Magic and Magick

The Occult Magic of the 1890s Writers

Wikipedia – Zombie

Yumboes and African Ghost Lore

Wikipedia – Jumbee

Wikipedia – Werewolf

Berserkers and other shamanic warriors

Wikipedia – Jack-o’-lantern

When Halloween Was All Tricks and No Treats

Yep, cheese! Or more accurately, how to make it. When I was writing The Broken Court there was a sentence, this sentence actually…

Some of what was left, she set near the hearth with the plans that she would make cheese with it.

which sent me off into an hour-plus long search on making cheese. I wondered, could you really make cheese at home? Do you need special equipment? Is there a particular way in which you need to do things? Or a certain kind of place where you should store it? The answer to all of those questions is yes, by the way, depending on what kind of cheese you want to try to make. I did end up making homemade ricotta which was interesting, and it didn’t turn out half bad! (by the way, that whole thing led me to look up spring houses :D)

That was not the only sentence that had some sort of off-hand reference which ultimately sent me off into internet Wonderland.

 For some company and a bit of honeycomb, he was happy to allow her to gather clay from a particularly fine deposit residing in the pond’s banks.

Yep, next thing you know I am looking up how to find clay in the wild!

The journey is neverending! So here are the links, if you’re curious, as well as some more complete quotes to give the above sentences a little context. Of course, you could always read The Broken Court (if you haven’t already), then you would really know what was going on. 🙂

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Homemade fresh cheese

Cheddar Cheese Recipe

Farmhouse Cheddar

Things to for in traditional cheese

How to make a cheese cave

Cheesemaking – ripening

Affinage and Aging – How We Make Cheese

Clay – Digging your own

The Spring Cellar

Also, if you are interested in seeing some of the pictures that helped set the mood for my Stolen Away series, go take a look at my Pinterest here.


Despite the phooka’s tendency towards needling her, the eld woman had to admit the rest of the day was a peaceful one. She took great pleasure in seeing the obvious joy Lumina felt in sharing with them how much her glade had recovered. And it seemed the land around them preened under its mistress’s praise, so much so that the air itself gleamed. It was a vivid contrast to the dullness of the wood they had just come from. 

It was well past midday when they left Lumina’s merry company. They returned home in the warm haze of a golden afternoon, and the eld woman soon set to work skimming the cream from the top of the milk. Most of it went to Thom who happily began to churn it into butter. Some of what was left, she set near the hearth with the plans that she would make cheese with it. The rest was poured into earthenware crocks to be used later. She put the phooka to work carrying them to the spring cellar. He did so cheerfully, though she suspected a few were lighter by the time they had made it there, payment taken for a job well done.

-The Broken Court, Chapter 4 – Portents and Ill Airs

They had headed out that particular morning with the intent of visiting the quiet pond where a urisk lived. For some company and a bit of honeycomb, he was happy to allow her to gather clay from a particularly fine deposit residing in the pond’s banks. 

The rising sun found them already walking down one of the ancient roads that ran through the goblins’ wood. Beside them a bright silver ribbon of a stream tumbled over ebony boulders as it hurried along. 

Thom was a little way in front, with Hoax and herself following unhurriedly in his wake. The phooka, as an oddity, was in his human skin, possibly because he was tired of her loading him down with things. Of course, she still had him carrying the large basket which she herself usually carried on her back, so he had not really escaped.

-The Broken Court, Chapter 6 – The Broken Court

You might have read my post back in July about A.J. Lancaster’s Stariel series. (You didn’t read it?! Then click here). I still love this series, and when I found out at the end of the last book that one of my favorite characters was getting his own book, I couldn’t wait to read it. I meant that literally, by the way. As soon as I was offered an ARC I jumped at the chance to read it, even though I had already placed a pre-order for the book. And I regret nothing! In fact, I will most likely read the whole series again once Rake of His Own comes out on October 28th.

Another beautiful cover!

I have to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for Marius. His quirkiness, insecurities, and inner dialogue (especially his inner dialogue!) have really endeared him to me. In the previous book, The King of Faerie, he discovered a number of things about himself that really shook his world. In this book, he is still trying his best to come to terms with those revelations, in particular his ability to read others’ thoughts and the ethics that go with that. He is not having an easy time of it, though. Add to that, one tempting and tempestuous fairy prince and one unexpected mystery, and it is no surprise that the poor man is teetering on the edge.

I enjoyed the interplay between Marius and Rakken quite a bit. Seeing them trying to work themselves out was both sweet and frustrating at the same time (in a good way). The mystery was not what I had expected it to be. Marius and Rakken end up traipsing though both the mortal world and the faerie realms in their search for clues, which was no hardship for me. The worldbuilding in this series is one of my favorite things about it. However, I could see how some readers might have a hard time keeping up with all the different places they end up going to in this book.

The conclusion was satisfying (and unexpected in the case of the whodunit), and I was happy to see a number of familiar characters make an appearance throughout. From some of the goings on, I also suspect that this will not be the last story told in this wonderfully imaginative world, which makes me very happy indeed!