Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brazen Squirrel and Friends

by Maggie Sefton



I promised everyone Brazen Squirrel photos this week, once I received them from daughter Melissa.  So, here we go, everyone.  Enjoy!









Here is Brazen Squirrel when he first discovered the 
pumpkin.  














Here are Brazen and Friend looking into the living room windows.  Maybe they were checking for more pumpkins inside the house.













Brazen and Friend working on that pumpkin.               


Monday, October 23, 2017

HALLOWEEN CANDY CAN BE FATAL TO OUR FURRY FRIENDS

By Mary Kennedy
                                                                                 

Did you know that chocolate is one of the worst things you can feed your pet? I know most of us wouldn't willingly give a pet chocolate, but just think of all that Halloween candy laying around the house. It's easy to forget that it's even there and if it's stashed in a plastic pumpkin with an open top, well, we both know a puppy could make short work of it.

What's so bad about chocolate? It contains not only caffeine but a compound called theobromine, which can be toxic to both dogs and cats. Granted, dogs are more attracted to chocolate than cats are, cats can't really taste "sweet," so it doesn't have the same drawing power. 
Dogs can experience severe digestive problems, along with restlessness, hyperactivity and trembling.

                                                                                

What's the remedy? Try giving your dog a bland diet, like the chicken and rice pictured above. It settles their stomach and is easy to digest.  

Another danger that Halloween poses to pets is glow sticks... 
                                                                                   

Cats love to play with (and chew on) glow sticks and the chemicals inside are caustic, resulting in mouth burns, severe drooling and pain.  Best to keep these put away and safe from the kitties.

Wrapped candy is another Halloween hazard to your pets.
                                            

Even though they look harmless, pets tend to eat the wrapping along with the candies, and the paper can get lodged in their intestines.

Just be aware of these hidden dangers and you and your pets can have a safe, happy Halloween. 

                                                                              
Mary Kennedy

Friday, October 20, 2017

Drowning in cookbooks

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


 I'm a fiction writer. And when I'm working on a book, I find it hard to read fiction so I rely on non-fiction or tried and true novels that I've read half a million times. (I can practically recite some of them.)

I love yard sales. During the summer, I go to them every week, and it's kind of rare that during those weekly forays that I don't buy a cookbook.  Only ... that can end up being a LOT of cookbooks. In fact, my office is literally littered with them. As I type this, there are 19 cookbooks surrounding my desk, but I've got more sitting in my porch. I've done through every one of them at least once and ALL of them have tabs sticking out of them to mark recipes I'd like to try.

I don't think there are enough days in the year for me to attempt making all these recipes. Betty Crocker's Best of Baking has 9 tabs sticking out of it. It's such a great comprehensive baking book (especially their section on making bread, which fascinates and terrifies me (I had a bad yeast experience with a homemade pizza some years back)), that I know that one's a keeper.

I have good intentions and I do sometimes give them away (Hi Amy and Pam!). I also collect vintage cookbooklets and this summer was a bumper year for them. Today I'm starting a giveaway on my Facebook group and it'll continue until their gone (although there may be a hiatus for the holidays).

Body Building Dishes for Children. Now there's a title. They're talking food, but I keep picturing little kids lifting weights.

I usually pick cookbooks that have beautiful photography (and those vintage cookbooklets don't come under that category. They were made in an age when food styling was in its infancy, and color photos were muddy and unappealing.

I'm going to have to part with some of these cookbooks. If my readers don't want them, then it'll be the library sale. But parting with them is going to be hard. I still have a pile of about 15 of my mothers cookbooks that I haven't gone through yet. (Although I did start to read one on bread and soup. I love to make soup, so that one might have to stay.)

I buy cookbooks on all topics. Here are a few of the titles



The Classic 1000 Vegetarian Recipes. If I didn't like pork and chicken so much, I would be a vegetarian. (If I had to kill animals to eat them, I would definitely be a vegetarian)./What a great comprehensive cookbook. (Another keeper.) It's a shame there are only used copies available because anyone who truly loves vegetables would love this book.


Treasury of Christmas. I'm a sucker for holiday books, and have at least 20+ of them that I drag out during November and December--just to get in the holiday spirit. I haven't decided if this is a keeper, but it's a very nice book.


Betty Crocker's NEW Good and Easy Cookbook is definitely not new, because the very week after I bought this edition, I found an even NEWER (like 20 years newer) edition. The new one is very nice and is pretty much up-to-date with beautiful photography and the kinds of recipes you see today, but there's a lot more charm in the old one. If I had to keep one of them, it would definitely be the one pictured above.


Great American Cooking Schools Omelettes & Souffles This is a charming little cookbook and I love omelettes, but souffles...not so much. I'm thinking it deserves a home where it will be cherished and used.


I must have at least 10 or more books on Hors d'Oeuvres & Appetizers. Do I really need another one, even if it is from Williams-Sonoma and have gorgeous photography?  Hmmm.

I could go on and on ...
Slow Cooker Recipe Collection
The Taste of Home New Potluck
Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2013
Christmas with Southern Living Cookbook Volume 2
Crazy About Cookies
Simple, Fresh & Healthy
Party Food ... and on and on and on ...

Those are just a few. Do any of these titles make you want to read them?

P.S. If you want to see what I got the entire summer, check out my Yard Sale Pinterest page!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Re-purposing Vintage Glassware

by Karen Rose Smith


I have always been fascinated by glassware.  Back in the day, brides registered patterns for glassware that wedding guests could give as gifts.  My mom had a hutch with her glassware and I have that hutch in my dining room.  As a young bride, I managed to purchase Princess House glassware by having home parties.  We still use it when guests come for dinner.  As a young couple with a small budget, we perused flea markets for bargains...and glassware.  I found my first piece of pink depression glass that way.

There is another use for vintage glassware.  I first glimpsed it but didn’t know where to find it when we visited a bed and breakfast in Flagstaff, Arizona.  This was a beautiful lawn ornament. 








I forgot about re-purposed old glassware until I discovered my sister-in-law was creating several designs with it.  First she made me a bird bath with a teapot!  We next added a bird feeder to our collection.  








Next came “cute” items like the turtles and the flower.








 
Lastly, we added her newest piece, a solar lantern. 
















Looking out the window and seeing sunlight glinting off the glass in the winter or summer, is another way to add sparkle to your day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Have A Yummy Halloween!

Hi, Duffy Brown here and I just love Halloween!
It’s so much fun for everyone! Here are a few yummy recipes to suit the occasion that look like a blast to make and eat for kids and adults. Thought I’d share some with you all. Let me know if you make them. Happy Halloween!


GREAT PUMPKIN BROWNIE RECIPE
·           
bake brownie batter in a pizza pan, spread with orange-tinted frosting and design a pumpkin stem and jack-o'-lantern face using candy.
1 package fudge brownie mix (13x9-inch pan size
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
Orange paste food coloring
9 green milk chocolate M&M's
57 dark brown milk chocolate M&M's
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare brownie for fudgelike brownies.
Spread on a greased 12-in. pizza pan to within 1 in. of edges.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Tint frosting orange; frost brownie.
For stem, arrange green M&M's in a square pattern at top of pumpkin.
Use 10 brown M&M's in a triangle eyes, and nose. Remaining M&M's for a mouth. Yield: 16 servings.


 
Spooky Spider Cupcakes are creepy—and easy!
Make a chocolate cupcake into a spider by adding a half-marshmallow "body" under the frosting, licorice legs and mini M&M eyes.
Add chocolate sprinkles for a "hairy" effect.  













LolliPop Treats

Ingredients
·       12 ounces white candy coating
·       2 teaspoons shortening
·       Paste food coloring, optional
·       36 lollipop sticks
·       1 pkg large marshmallows (about 36)
·       Colored sugar
·       Assorted toppings: candy eyes, assorted nonpareils, licorice and sour straws·        

Directions
 In a microwave, melt candy coating and shortening; stir until smooth. If desired, tint with food coloring.
·       Insert one lollipop stick into each marshmallow. Dip marshmallows in melted candy coating, turning to coat; allow excess to drip off. Roll in colored sugar. Place a dab of melted candy coating onto assorted toppings; decorate faces as desired. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Yield: 3 dozen.
·        
·        
·      



     
Candy Pizza
     1 tube (16-1/2 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
·       Assorted Halloween candie
·       2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
·       3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
DIRECTIONS
Let dough stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften. Press onto an ungreased 14-in. pizza pan.
Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool on pan on a wire rack.
Coarsely chop large candies; set aside. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter; stir until smooth.
Spread over crust; top with candies. Refrigerate, covered, until chocolate mixture is set. Cut into wedges. Yield: 16 slices.





Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Looking Back

by Maggie Sefton



Since my photo system is having strange problems tonight, I'll have to wait until next week to provide photos of the brazen squirrels that rule my front and back yards here in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Instead, I'll give a quick update on Kelly Flynn #16, which is the Kelly Flynn mystery I'm writing now. This book will be published in June of next year 2018.  As part of the storyline I decided to give a brief overview of several of the Kelly Flynn mysteries that appeared during the previous years.  Believe me, that brought back tons of memories.  Kelly and friends have had lots of stories and lots of murder mysteries to solve over these past several years.  We've had evil cowboys who poisoned Carl and even cut Kelly's brakes right before she was going to drive out of the steep Bellevue Canyon. Even scheming seamstresses who held grudges.  

And the characters themselves have also gone through lots of changes.  Relationships have developed, changed, and permanently altered the lives of the entire Kelly Flynn cast.   This past June's Kelly Flynn mystery, ONLY SKEIN DEEP, brought one of the biggest changes of all----the birth of Kelly's and Steve's baby boy, Jack.  That was a fun story to write.  :)          

Monday, October 16, 2017

THANK YOU Mary Kennedy!


I’m sure you all wonder how authors get to know each other and how they take up writing in the first place. Well for me the adorable Mary Kennedy and her fabulous book...Dead Air...played a huge part.








I wrote romance for twenty years for Harlequin and Kensington and when 50 Shades of Gray came on the scene and kicked up the romance genre into the next heat level.  I decided I wanted out, just not my cup of tea. Also the editors kept telling me there was just too much mystery in my romances.

The thing is I liked writing the mystery part of the book way more than the romance. I like writing some romance, hey romace is fun but a whole book of why doesn’t he get me gets old, at least for me it did.

So since it was time to make a change I decided to write cozy mysteries. But how? You just don’t decided then do. A little knowledge is a good thing. In this case a lot of knowledge. I have a good friend who introduced me to Mary Kennedy! 

Mary Kennedy is one of my fave authors and talking to her was a true godsend. She said... “I’ll show you how to do this!” And she did!

Not all authors are so giving and helpful but the amazing Mary Kennedy is that and so much more. She gave me tips, schooled me on what makes a cozy and what doesn’t. She helped me get into Cozy Chicks and meet all the amazing authors here.

Mary Kennedy is a true friend and mentor and I want to thank her for all that she’s done for me.


So my question to you all is... Is there someone you want to thank for helping achieve a dream? Someone who smoothed the path for you to get where you want to go?

I’ll give away a lighted pen and notepad from the answers.

Hugs,
Duffy Brown

www.DuffyBrown.com

Friday, October 13, 2017

Are you SAD?

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

A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she suffered from SAD. That's Seasonal Affective Disorder. My first reaction was ... Yeah, right.

Honestly, how can someone become light deprived?

Well, I thought it was totally ridiculous ... until it happened to me. As the days began getting shorter, I started becoming really depressed. This had never happened before. I asked my doctor (who has a SAD light in her office) about it, and she suggested I get a lamp. She told me to get one that has 10,000 Lux therapy lamp. She didn't promise a miracle cure, but said it would help.

She was right.

I've had my lamp for about 10 days now and I sit in front of it (while working on the computer) for about an hour a day. Half hour first thing in the morning, and half an hour after lunch. It's bright. Holy smoke is it bright. But the lamp I chose has two settings.  White light (that's the 10,000 Lux setting) and blue light (5,000 Lux). I must admit, the blue light is easier on the eyes if you're sensitive, but the white light gives you more ... whatever it is it's supposed to be doing for you. (Vitamin D?)

The results: I'm not quite as depressed. (The fact that I was in deadline hell might have been a BIG part of that. I finished the book and am feeling pretty happy about it.)  But the best thing that happened? I'm actually sleeping better.

I've been averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, which is not enough. (It gives me lots of time to read during the night, but doesn't make Lorraine a happy girl.) Since I've been using my lamp, I've been getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Still not where I'd like to be, but better.

I bought a PureGuardian 10,000 LUX Full Spectrum Energy Light with Customizable Blue or White Light Therapy Intensity, Timer, Pure Guardian SPA50CA (directly copied from Amazon). Besides the white and blue light, it has different timer settings for 5, 20, and 30 minutes and then switches off. I like that. Sometimes I can't sit for a full 30 minutes.  (I gotta get my tea refills, you know.) So I like to be able to add a 5 minute pop of extra light if I need it.

It's going to be a long dark winter here in Western NY. As the days get shorter, I'll be able to tell if this things has more benefits than what I've already seen.

Any other tips for SAD?


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Leggings Revolution

by Karen Rose Smith


Leggings have been in style on and off since the early 90s. Back then, they came in bright colors and had stirrups. A friend of mine recently introduced me to leggings once more because they were so soft, stretchy and comfortable.

I hadn't worn pantyhose for years. Slacks had become the staple in my closet. But recently I found leggings to fit that work with very long tunics and they are so much more comfortable than pantyhose.

I love color and mixing and matching tones and textures. Often I'll wear a long vest on top of the tunic to complement the leggings.

Leggings aren't just for teenagers anymore. They look good with sneakers, flats and even heels.

Since I prefer color and comfort, leggings will be a huge part of my wardrobe this year.


Are you part of the leggings revolution? 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

HIGH PROTEIN, LOW CARB, LOW CALORIE PIZZA!

By Mary Kennedy                           
 
I wrote a blog on "food hacks" a couple of weeks ago. Just click on the link under "blog" if you missed it.
 
A couple of readers sent me their own "food hacks" for pizza and I think they're worth a try. The pizza above is a snap, just use a whole pita, or low carb tortilla for the crust and you save a BUNCH of calories. And it tastes good. I found the best way to do it is to heat the pita or tortilla in the oven first, add the toppings and then put it back. You'll have a tasty meal for about 300 calories and you can eat the whole thing! (You don't have to share!) Use low-fat mozzarella cheese, and you can even buy fat-free parmesan, (but I don't really think it's worth the trouble. A few sprinkles of the real thing won't kill you and won't blow the calories budget.)
 
On to the second reader suggestion. Have you tried a Portobello mushroom as a pizza crust? It's tasty and delicious. Not at all difficult or time-consuming to make.  It's filling and you can have both halves for about 150 calories.
                                                           
 
Yes, I know the lowly Portobello looks a bit "nekkid" in the photo above, but you can turn it into something like the photo below, and I'll tell you how.  With a little ingenuity you can turn it into a cheesy, delicious treat, topped with a bit of fresh basil, and about 75 calories for each half. Snack time, anyone? Count me in!
                                                                
 
Add a little pepperoni (either real or the veggie version) and you have this..
 
Surprised? Just a few simple changes can make a Portobello your new favorite "go to" snack food or "quick dinner" food. You can even make a fun party platter like this one.
 
 
 Here is a basic recipe to get you started. I make the all-veggie version, but you can add whatever toppings you like. If you want to keep the calorie count down, use low-fat mozzarella cheese and about 1/4 cup of either home-made spaghetti sauce, or crushed tomatoes jazzed up with spices.) I've started making my own spaghetti sauce and freezing it.  You can even just a use of large slice of plump, juicy tomato in place of sauce, if you like.
Here you go...
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay a tin foil on a baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. 

 Cut two portobello mushrooms in half. Place TWO mushroom caps on center of the foil, rounded sides down.
 Place another large piece of foil over the mushrooms. Fold together and seal all four edges of the two foil pieces, forming a well-sealed packet. Bake about 12 minutes.

 Next step is to remove the foil, and carefully (it will be hot!) drain excess liquid from the baking sheet. Thoroughly blot excess moisture from mushroom caps with a paper towel. You want them dry, this is important.

 Now add your fave toppings. Spaghetti sauce, (1/4 cup), mozzarella  cheese, (1/3 cup)  and now add as many veggies as you want. The trick is to bulk up the pizzas with veggies, not pile on extra cheese. You can have both halves for about than 150 calories with my version. If you add diced chicken, pepperoni, or diced ham, or add more than 1/3 cup of low fat mozzarella cheese, the calorie count will obviously be higher.

Bake until mushrooms are tender and cheese has melted, about 8 additional minutes in the 400 degree oven. 
 
Bon appetit, everyone! Mary Kennedy
 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

OLD FRIENDS, DEAR FRIENDS

by Maggie Sefton


Nancy, Diane, and another old friend from the neighborhood, Margie.


Mary's post on Monday inspired my post today.  All of you Cozy Chicks Readers and
Friends have heard me talk about my dear childhood friends that I grew up with in Arlington, Virginia from early childhood.  I was six, Nancy was 5, and Diane was 4 when my Mom, my Grandmother, and I moved into our modest little 1913 house in north Arlington.  Nancy and Diane lived diagonally across the the street on the corner of Barton Street and 9th Street.  I was two houses from corner on Barton.   That modest neighborhood had affordably priced homes that women like my mother and Nancy/Diane's mother could afford to buy.

Both our mothers were Single Divorced Working Moms in what I refer to as the "Ozzie and Harriet World" of the mid to late 1950's.  If  that Ozzie/Harriet reference means nothing to you, that means you're young, so you'll have to look it up on Google.  :)  Back in those days, those older homes were affordable and priced below $100,000 in those days.  Now-----whooo boy-----those houses are over $800,000.  Location, location, location.  Three blocks away was a major thoroughfare which led past the Iwo Jima monument to a point where you can choose to cross the Potomac River over three  separate bridges into Washington, D.C.  Different strategic points.  Location, location, location.

Since Nancy and Diane had a corner yard, all of us chose to play in their yard.  Those were wonderful childhood memories that we always find ourselves remembering when we're together.

Thank goodness those opportunities to visit have increased over the years.  I hope to be there in Northern VA during the Thanksgiving period.  Also, two of my daughters live in Northern Virginia and three of my four grandchildren,  so it's a great time to see family.   Here's a photo I found, the quality isn't good, but it's fairly recent.  Taken at daughter Serena's bridal shower a few years ago.

Monday, October 9, 2017

STAYING CONNECTED OR DRIFTING APART?

By Mary Kennedy                             
                                                             
 
Do you stay in touch with your BFF's from childhood? Or your high school or college friends? Or maybe that neighbor who not only lived next door, but shared some wonderful recipes and always invited you in for a nice cup of tea and a delicious dessert?
                                                             
 
Or have you moved (or moved on) and their names are only a distant memory, to be revived at Christmas time with a card or a "Christmas letter."
 
Sometimes I come across a favorite recipe and think of the person who gave it to me. It brings back happy memories of "salad lunches" when each of us would bring a salad and someone would always volunteer to bring gallons of sweet tea and their special pimento cheese recipe. And a couple of baguettes or home-made biscuits.
 
 
What wonderful times those were! I think back and wonder how we all lost touch. We seemed to have more time for "friendship" back then.  Life seemed to be more carefree then.
 
But then life got more complicated. (with no warning, of course, which is the way it always happens). Some of us moved away, took on more demanding jobs (had more kids!) and suddenly the friendships just disappeared like frost on a pane of glass. I come across names in an address book or a Christmas card list and am appalled at how I've neglected some of my friends. I've gotten the occasional notice of the birth of a grandchild, or a college graduation or a bucket list trip, but I don't hear from my "besties" on a day to day basis.
                                                   
 
Thanks to e-mail and Skype, we can stay in touch these days. And social media can keep us connected, too. Some of my dearest friends are people I've never met in person. The poem above says it all.
 
How about you? Do you stay in touch with your friends from days gone by?
It's sad to think that people who were so important to us have simply drifted out of our lives.
 
Mary Kennedy
 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY----DEADLY POLITICS

by Maggie Sefton




If you like suspense, you might want to sample my political suspense set in Washington, D.C.  No real politicians or political types are featured----HONEST!  I wouldn't do that to our wonderful Cozy Chicks Readers.  


I wrote this a few years ago, so none of today's "political players" were anywhere near the scene when I wrote this book.  It first appeared in tradepaper in 2012.  Take a look and check it out yourselves.   I think you may enjoy meeting the heroine sleuth  Molly Malone.  


Washington, D.C. is my old hometown and still holds a fascination and connection for me.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thumbs up once again

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

Back in May, I wrote about how my thumb had stopped working. My GP (or whatever they're called these days) said (without looking at it) that I had arthritis. My gut feeling told me she was wrong. (And she was.)  A couple of readers suggested my sore thumb might be suffering from something called De Quervain's disease, but that didn't seem quite right (as I looked up the symptoms), either.

All I know is that my hand was in total agony for about 12-13 hours a day. I'm pretty sure it became inflamed because I'm on the computer most of the day and use the mouse a lot, especially when I do graphics. My thumb would get stuck in one position and I would literally scream when moving it back into a more comfortable place. (Mr. L's hair would stand on end when that happened.)

I finally went back to the GP a few weeks back and she referred me to a hand surgeon. (After telling me for a SECOND TIME that it was "only arthritis." HA!)

SURGEON??????? Holy crap.

But I was desperate, so I booked an appointment.

And then a funny thing happened.  Ten days before the appointment, my thumb started working again. Not all the time, but I could bend it back-and-forth for as long as half an hour every few hours and it didn't get stuck in the painful position anymore. YAY.  I could cancel my appointment with the hand surgeon.

Except I didn't. I wondered, what if it gets bad again?  I'd better go.

And I did.  He barely looked at my hand before saying, "Trigger Thumb." Next thing I know, I'm getting a cortisone shot and out the door I go.

He told me that if you have to have something bad happen to your hand, trigger thumb (and I assume finger) is the easiest thing to fix. Even if the cortisone shot doesn't work, out-patient (as in his office) surgery can fix it with a few snips--good as new and it would never happen again.

According to him, the cortisone shot would take 5-7 days to work, and that it may or may not be a long-term fix. But I'm telling you, even if it's only the placebo effect, my thumb is already back to 90% after only two days. It hasn't kept me awake for the last two nights, it barely hurts at all, and I gave it quite a workout earlier today with chopping and assembling goody bags for a craft show I'm doing next Saturday.

Holy crap! It's like a miracle!

Of course, my health insurance has a high deductible, so it cost me $202 to get my thumb fixed. The best $200 I ever spent. I sure wish I'd insisted on having someone (with actual hand knowledge) look at it sooner. I could have saved myself an entire summer of pain. But it's working now and I'm a happy camper.

Have you ever had an experience like that?