Thursday, June 22, 2017

Roses, Roses...and Roses!!!

by Karen Rose Smith

I've had a long history with roses.  I can remember gardening with my grandmother whose name was Rosalie.  My grandparents lived in downtown York, Pennsylvania in a row house.  My grandfather had his barber shop there.  In summer I would spend more time with them.  My mom always said that the soil in my grandmother's little yard was the richest in York.  She could grow anything.  But what she loved the most were her roses.  I remember pruning a red climber with her as well as hybrid teas.

Love and Peace Rose
My mom probably inheirited her love of roses from my grandmother.  Growing up, we always had a few rose bushes planted in the yard.  She didn't have the green thumb my grandmother did because I remember them being replaced every few years.


My middle name came from my aunt, my godmother, whose name was Rose Marie.  I also think it originated in my family's love of roses.

McCartney Rose
 My mother-in-law had roses planted along every border of her house.  Tropicana was one of her favorites as well as Queen Elizabeth.  She spent summers tending to them in every way possible.  So it only made sense that my husband was familiar with them.  He knew one of my favorites was yellow.  The night he proposed, I'd finished a day of clerking at Montgomery Ward's.  When I went to my bedroom to change, a yellow rose lay on my bed with my engagement ring on the stem.  Yellow roses are special!

We have several gardens now and many of them contain roses.  The Knockout roses are show stoppers when they are in bloom with flowers all over the bush.  They are hardier than hybrid tea and heirloom roses and more disease resistant.  But I still favor hybrid tea roses, probably because they bring back memories.
Knockout Rose bush

Chrysler Imperial

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Work or play the summer away

The kids in my neighborhood are having a fine summer going to camps, the pool and just hanging out. I see them on their bikes or in cars buzzing around and that’s just fine...or is it?

What happened to getting a summer job? My dad owned a grocery store so the job thing didn’t end at summer, my brother and I worked all year long after school and on weekends. I also babysat a ton. At fifty-cents an hour I thought I was rich!

My kids all had jobs too. With four kids they had to help with getting their own spending money and my humble opinion...I think it was really good for them. Even the bad jobs they got like yard work for the skinflint down the street taught my son he did not what to do this for the rest of his life which meant get a good education!

My kids had all kinds of jobs. My one daughter worked at King’s Island, an amusement park here in Cincy. She worked the merry-go-round with an assortment of amazing hand painted horses.
The tunes used to drive her nuts but again working a job that is not terrific teaches a kid to get an education or do this for the rest of your life.

My son got a great computer job in high school that paid really well. He’s one of those computer geeks that has always gotten it and works for P &G now in computers. This first real job taught him what having real money felt like and the respect that went with it. It was great incentive and a look at the real world of making money. 

My other daughter babysat half the neighborhood in the summer, another worked in a t-shirt store and I had the the good luck to work at a camp in Maine as a tennis teacher. That was a blast.

So what about you? Did you have a summer job? Did your kids? Do you think it’s a good idea?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Kelly Flynn Paperback

by Maggie Sefton

As I posted last week, Kelly Flynn Mystery #15---ONLY SKEIN DEEP---was released into bookstores and all E-book retail outlets---Amazon, B&, and others.  This Tuesday I want to mention that a new Kelly Flynn paperback has also been released----KNIT TO BE TIED---which was the hardcover release last year in June 2016.

I know that many, many Kelly Flynn mystery readers and fans wait for the paperback release to keep up with the adventures of Kelly and her friends---a.k.a., The Gang.     We writers are well aware that our readers read a LOT of mysteries and the bill for hardcover books can get sizable.  We certainly don't want to create an economic hardship for any reader or fan.  So----I'm very, very happy to announce the paperback release of KNIT TO BE TIED, which should be in bookstores and available online now as well.  However you choose to read about Kelly and The Gang, I hope Everyone enjoys Kelly and The Gang's adventures.   Enjoy, folks!   :)

Monday, June 19, 2017


By Mary Kennedy  

I'm trying a lot of new "whole foods" recipes and I thought I'd start with greens. Brussel sprouts, for starters.
I've been cooking them in a really uninspired way--halving them and boiling them with a bit of salt, and then topping them with butter. But I discovered a better way--roasted brussel sprouts!
Here's all you need to do. Get a large plastic bag and toss in these ingredients.
1 and 1/2 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Give them a good shake and spread them on a baking sheet that's been sprayed with PAM.
Now roast at 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes. What could be easier? Hope you try it and stay tuned for more interesting takes on veggies. Note: the brussel sprouts pictured above are topped with a little cooked crumbled bacon, but I make the vegetarian version.
Mary Kennedy

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's the weekend and I'm going junking.

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

And so it's the weekend again (I don't know about you, but my weekends start on Friday morning). Mr. L and I have four garage sales we're going to check out today, but I thought I'd tell you about some of the stuff I've picked up since my last post about junking about a month ago.

This little sugar and creamer came from Goodwill and goes pretty well with a cup I'd found the week before.

When I first saw this cup, I wasn't sure it went with the saucer, it was so brown. It wasn't tea-stained, which is easy enough to clean with a little baking soda (or salt) and some elbow grease. The cup, inside and out was stained so badly that it was tan in color. I soaked it in straight bleach for two days to get it back to pristine. It will go into my catch-and-release program. I've been giving away teacups for a couple of years now. I like them to go to loving homes, and they've made a lot of my readers happy.  : )

And here we have a pile of mostly BAD movies. Okay, not terrible, but not watchable more than once. Return To Me ... oy. Not badly acted, but just a dumb story. (Man's wife dies, new girlfriend got her heart and she's too chicken to tell him.) I Am Sam ... eh, okay. Superior acting (top-notch cast), but uncomfortable subject matter. A Wrinkle in Time? Must have gone straight to video.  The marvelous Alfre Woodard was totally wasted in this flick.  I know I'll like Shrek the Third, so I'm saving that one. The Great Homes of Canandaigua (from our local PBS station) was boring. But the documentary they did on the history of Canandaigua was enjoyable to watch. Mr. L thought the Twilight Zone too dated to watch, but I might go through a few more episodes. Still haven't gone through the rest, but most are heading straight to the catch and release program (this time: a yard sale).

 I rescued these vintage pins that I will try to find a new home for. Aren't they pretty?  Women used to wear pins like these every day ... but I was told by a very good friend that "only old ladies wear pins." That's not true. My friend Lisa (younger than me) was a trend setter in high school and she wore pins like this all the time. This picture was taken before the pins were cleaned and they (especially the blue one) sparkle like crazy now.

And this is the best.  But don't let me just show you a picture, let me tell you in my own words about this beautiful teacup. (Uh, it's only my 4th video. I'm sure I'll get better at it.)

So, what do you think of my junking finds?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father's Day and Memories

by Karen Rose Smith

Since Father's Day is this weekend, I thought I'd write a blog in honor of it and my dad.  My dad was born in 1916 and was never very vocal or emotive. At least not when I knew him. After my mom passed on, I inherited his service diaries. I didn't read them for many years. I took a cursory look at first and did not realize the wealth of information about him that was in them. So much that I never knew.

I have a photograph album too from his years in the service during WWII. But without descriptions, the pictures didn't tell me much though they did have dates. Once I read the diaries, I could put the photos with his words.

My dad wrote in the diaries every day he was in the service. He was never much of a writer though he did write me letters when I was in college. But in his diaries I saw the names and addresses of the men he served with, I felt the adventurous spirit that was once my dad's, the beauty he felt being on a transport ship sailing toward Naples, the joy when he arrived there, the camaraderie he felt with his buddies. His parents were Italian emigrants and being in the country where they were born had to mean so much.

I learned he was at a base in Oregon, stopped in Utah, traveled through Chicago and ended up at camp Patrick Henry in Virginia.  From there he boarded the General Richardson and sailed with almost 5000 soldiers to Naples.  While in Italy he visited Caserta, Bastia, Florence and Rome. His platoon was even received by Pope Pius XII. We were a traditional Catholic family and I never knew that.

Near the time he was due to be sent home, he received news that his youngest brother had been killed in the Philipines. He mentions it in his diary, though not his feelings about it. But I noticed in his entries after that, he wrote letters home more often.

I wish I had access to these when he was still alive.  I have so many questions.  I wish I had read them much sooner.  These diaries are 74 years old and besides my dad's handwriting and thoughts, contain a certificate of proficiency in a course of Armament, a Reservation for Purchase of Defense Savings Bonds, and an enlisted man's pass for Portland and its vicinity. They are a treasure trove of information I never knew about him.

Thank you, Daddy. Because of your diaries I can still feel your presence and remember so much more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Never Enough

I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm awake"
-Ernest Hemingway

I’m one of those people who can sleep anywhere, any time any place. I think I learned it in college with so much do and so little time. Slept in class, curled up on a library chair, on the floor, campus bench, empty classroom, the cafeteria.

This carried over to adulthood. I’ve pulled my car over to sleep and zonked out draped over the steering wheel, I always fall asleep on the TV is just an expensive nightlight.

I can sleep with my head on the keyboard resulting in little squares indented in my face. I can sleep in church, the movies, the symphony and at $80 a ticked that is expensive sleeping.

Some of the worse places I’ve slept are in a tent in the rain with the water leaking through the sides and running in the bottom, a plane to London with two screaming babies behind me, the dorm freshman year where no one slept ever, on the sidewalk waiting for New Kids on the Block tickets.

Some of the best places where I’ve slept is in a hotel room after that flight to London, in my own bed after a week of camping in the woods, under the stars in the Grand Canyon, on a sailboat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

What about snoring? I won’t ask if you do but can you fall asleep if the other person snores. Personally I’ve contemplated suffocation but that’s just between us.

What about you? Do you need a special blanket to fall asleep? Do you have a special pillow? Are you one of those people who take your pillow with you?

Tell us about you and sleep and I’ll give away three of these adorable sleep masks from the answers. Just the thing when you want to sleep on that airplane flight.

Happy Sleeping
Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Sheep-y Saturday

by Maggie Sefton

This past Saturday I drove up to that beautiful mountain town, Estes Park, just an hour from Fort Collins where the Wool Market was held in the Fairgrounds Exhibition hall.

I was signing Kelly Flynn Mystery books for the Lambspun fiber shop that had a large booth at the Exhibition hall.  I've done this for years and enjoy it immensely mainly because I love meeting and talking with people.  So, it was lots of fun.   Also, the mountain town of Estes Park is a wonderfully scenic spot to visit.  The entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is there as well.

Right across from the Exhibition hall where all the vendors booths were you found the Livestock barns.  There are more than one livestock barn, but the one I visited was my favorite.  That barn held all the different breeds of sheep.

I love the faces of sheep.  Some will look you straight in the eye.  Maybe they're wondering if I'm friendly or not.  I most definitely am.  :)  

So, today I'm sharing several of the sheep photos I took while there.  So many different breeds.  And some of those sheep were camera hogs.  :)

Monday, June 12, 2017



By Mary Kennedy                                    

Would you eat a monstrous confection known as a "monster milkshake?" They may be the summer's new hot thing (now that Starbucks' unicorn has come and gone.) They're really popular at seaside resorts and people eat them (or share them) while strolling along the boardwalk. There probably isn't a graceful way to eat them--they messy, sticky and possibly delicious (I haven't tried one.)


A monster milkshake is your wildest dream (or nightmare) topped with everything from donuts to edible glitter, Swedish fish, rock candy, rainbow sprinkles and chocolate brownies. One variety is even topped with a towering mass of cotton candy. It might have candy bars on top, an ice cream bar or even salted pretzels.
It would be pretty hard to estimate the calories, and honestly, I don't think I want to. Some are just so over the top, they don't even look appealing.
At least, that's my take. How about you? Would you spend $15.00 on a monster milkshake, or will you pass on the new craze?    It looks like it might melt before you even get it out of the shake shop. What do you think? A tempting treat or is this an ewwwww moment? Hope everyone is having a great summer.
Mary Kennedy             

Friday, June 9, 2017

Booktown #11 - A Just Clause

Wow -- two Booktown books within a week? Go figure. But it's true, A Just Clause is out on Tuesday.

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne’er-do-well father, John, comes to town—and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia’s faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time. From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up and ruins Stoneham’s first—and highly anticipated—wine and jazz festival.

To get your copy by Tuesday, order it today!

Amazon | Kindle | Kindle Worldwide
Barnes & Noble | Nook
Books A Million | Chapters/Indigo | Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
iBooks | Kobo

Audible | Amazon

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Luscious and Easy Brownie Dessert

by Karen Rose Smith

I'm a Mr. Food fan. So I bought a Sinful Sweets & Tasty Treats Mr. Food Test Kitchen cookbook and this easy, calorie filled, luscious dessert caught my eye.  Here is this simple recipe that's sooooo good for an inside dinner or an outside barbecue!


1 (19.8-ounce) package brownie mix for a 9x13 inch pan
1 (6 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
3 cups milk (I use whole milk because I've found in this type of recipe it holds up better.)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3-1/2 cups coarsely chopped assorted candy bars, with 1/2 cup reserved for garnish (I used a bag of Snicker minis and 1/2 bag of Milky Way minis)  RESERVE a 1/2 cup for garnish
1 16 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Prepare brownies according to package directions for a 9x13 inch baking dish; allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk pudding mix and milk until slightly thickened.  Whisk in peanut butter until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate 10 minutes.

Break up brownies into 1 inch pieces and place half in bottom of a trifle bowl or large glass serving bowl.  Cover with half the pudding mixture, half the candy and half the whipped topping.  Repeat layers and garnish with reserved candy.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Teaching kids to read

I have a grandson going into kindergarten in September and it seems that when kids go to kindergarten they are expected to be reading. In the olden days kindergarten and the first grade were when kids were taught to read. I guess this new approach comes from kids now being in preschool and the task of reading being tossed to those teachers?

Some kids take to reading really easy. They want to read, love books and are almost self-taught. None of my kids were this motivated. They were completely content to have me read to them, tell them the menu at McDonalds, read the instructions to the newest toys etc and it seems my grandson is the same way.
Fact is, Nate has three main interests in his, his iPad and the part of his anatomy that makes him male. (IMHO this makes him a typical male)

But I digress. Back to reading... I taught sixth grade for seven years then went back to teaching as a special ed teacher and taught kids to read. The thing with being a teacher kids have to listen to you whereas my grandson thinks my purpose in life is to take him on outings and bring toys.

First I have to try and convince him reading is a good thing. I think I’m going with the idea of Nate, you’re going to the big kids school and everyone there reads. This might work unless he comes up with the answer of Good, I’ll stay home and just not go to school. Kids are pretty crafty like that.

I’m pretty old school in teaching reading...I do phonics. I’ve looked at the other methods of look-say and whatever but phonics makes sense. Fact is, I still use it if there’s a word I don’t know. You learn a few basic rules like letters have sounds, vowels have two sounds, y is like a vowel at the end of a word, when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking, divide words between consonants.
Actually, those rules take care of a multitude of reading situations. 

I found this series that goes along with my phonics approach, Primary Phonics. It teaches the basic rule then there are short books the kid reads that use the rule. I think it’s brilliant! I just hope Nate agrees.

So what about you? How did you learn to read? Phonics? Self-taught, look-say method, memorized the words?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                                    
A list of places (in no particular order) that I love, that have served as the setting for many of my books. (You knew Florida would be on there, right?)  Florida has been a constant source of inspiration for me,  and I've plotted whole books while strolling along the water's edge.
There's something so relaxing, so timeless about the ocean that I can sit and stare at it for hours. My favorite spot is the balcony of the Ft. Lauderdale condo. It's quiet and secluded and in the early morning hours I can pretend I'm on an island, all by myself.
Florida is interesting because besides the beach (which is enchanting!) there's also a big city vibe. South Beach, in particular, is fascinating to me because of the energy, the vitality, the blend of cultures. And the general "glitziness" of the place.
All those Art Deco neon hotels are fascinating from an architectural point of view...
...the cafĂ© umbrella tables lining the street have a cosmopolitan flair and  remind me of the south of France.
Key West has a different vibe, very arty, home to artist and writers.
There's something remote and wonderful about it. I draw inspiration every time I go there. Key West is pure relaxation, as you can see from the slogan below.
Savannah is a totally different vibe and I chose it for my Dream Club series. Beautiful, historic, mysterious, with dozens of parks.  Forsythe is one of my favorites.
How about you? Do you have a place that gets your creative juices going, that inspires you? It might be half way across the world or it might be as close as your own backyard.
Mary Kennedy