Saturday, December 10, 2016

Well, are you coming?


The Cozy Chicks would be pleased as holiday punch if you'd join us for our annual holiday party.

WHERE:  Our Facebook Group Page.  (Haven't joined? Well, what are you waiting for?  Click this link, and join the group!)

WHEN:  Tuesday, December 13th, from 7 to 9:30 pm (although a few of us might hang around later).
Click this link to RSVP our invitation!

WHO:  Us, of course, The Cozy Chicks.  Lorraine Bartlett, Duffy Brown, Mary Kenned, Mary Jane Maffini (Victoria Abbott), Maggie Sefton, Karen Rose Smith -- and we hope ... YOU!

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT:  Virtual holiday goodies (think recipes and pictures), pictures, and prizez -- like Cozy Chicks goody bags, totes and lots more!


Hope to see you there!

Friday, December 9, 2016

A little something for myself

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

Squeeeee! I be bad. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a Facebook ad (and I usually totally ignore them unless they are from/by an author friends of mine) for a Spode broken china holiday pendant (they also offered matching earrings). Well, I got suckered in, but isn't it PRETTY!!!!!!!!!

I now have three of pieces of broken china jewelry. (I wanted to get a pendant made from a piece of my mother's broken china, but couldn't find a place that would make it.) Mr. L gave me the first two pieces. One is a heart-shaped pendant made from Royal Albert Country Roses pattern, and I don't know the pattern of the other -- it's a round pendant with a single yellow flower in the middle.

Mr. L wasn't happy when I showed him the new pendant, because he always wants me to TELL him what I what for Christmas -- but that's no fun because I these days I can just go out and buy stuff for myself. It's a lot more fun when somebody puts real thought into a gift--or even better, makes it themselves.

I so miss that about Christmas. My parents always made us at least one thing every Christmas (I missed the "crafty" gene.) My mother usually sewed (she quilted) or knitted something.



My Dad would make jewelry or carve a Santa or something else.



Christmas will never be the same.

Do you buy yourself stuff for the holidays?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dear readers


By Mary Jane Maffini aka Victoria Abbott


The time has come the walrus said to speak of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings.  And good-byes, although that doesn't rhyme.

Not to go all Lewis Carroll on you, but I have been procrastinating about saying good-bye to the Cozy Chicks Blog because I really wanted to stay on.  Many of you already know that this will be my last post on The Cozy Chicks (cue the sad music).  I have needed to cut back here and in several other areas of my life in order to get some new projects up and running and take care of life, health, family and all that good stuff too.

For several years, I have loved being part of ‘the chicks’ and have made lasting friendships among the other chicks and many of our readers.  No wonder I procrastinated!  

But ‘needs must’ as the Brits say and after next week’s fun Christmas party at our Facebook page, I’ll be off.

I’ve been very happy to hear from many of you already on Facebook and I hope we will all stay in touch, personally and with book news.  If you are not on our email newsletter list and want to keep up on the MJ and Victoria news, please send me a message.  detect(at)rogers(dot)com  or find the newsletter link at www.maryjanemaffini.com or www.victoria-abbott.com

Our Thursday chats will be missed, but you are going to be in very good hands with Karen Rose Smith, who is a terrific author and a lovely person. Her cats confirm this as do her readers!

Please come by and welcome her next Thursday when she has her first post and, of course,have a chat at our holiday party at the Facebook group if you can make it. 

Can you see us, Mary Kennedy?
 

Thanks for being such a great part of our writing life. May your holidays be filled with love, happiness and books. Love from MJ and Victoria, Daisy and Lily and the always hard-done-by Peachy the Pug.  We hope our paths will cross again many times.




Good-bye. Life is so very unfair.    




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Winter...in or out?

Hi, Duffy Brown here in Cincinnati and winter is upon us. 

The sky is gunmetal gray and we have way more gray days here in my neck of the woods than should be allowed. The trees are bare and actually that’s not all bad as I’m surrounded by trees and can now see the sky...even if it is gray.

The thing is, I’m not exactly a winter person, I’m more heat and sun and break out the suntan lotion and bug spray and where are my shorts and flip-flops kind of girl.


But this year I’m embracing or at least trying to embrace winter. I bought new boots, got a cute bucket hat, and new red gloves. I’m trying really hard to get into the spirit of winter.

I do love warm PJs and putting on a robe and snuggling in front of the fireplace and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls. It’s my go to place and wardrobe for comfort and the perfect down time.

Then of course there’s the perfect winter snack to go with the comfy clothes and spot. Tea and cookies are the best. Just a simple butter cookie, no icing, dunked in the tea and making a complete mess but tasting amazing.

So what about you? Do you have a comfy winter outfit? I robe that is threadbare and you love snuggling into? A fave pare of PJs? A hot drink and cookies to dunk? It may be cold outside but now that I think about it the cold does have an up side.


Happy Winter!I,HioHi’m

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holiday Recipes---Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread

by Maggie Sefton


My apologies for the tardy appearance of this post today.  So many non-writing activities and other involvements totally took over my time and concentration and kept everything else off my radar screen.  Mea culpa.  So, today I decided would be a good time to start posting some of my very favorite Holiday recipes that I've been making for my family and friends for decades.  No exaggeration, folks.  Decades.  

This nut bread is good all year round, not just during the Holiday Season.  Again, I kept tinkering with recipes until I came up with the flavors that I especially like.  I simply love the flavor of orange in this rich quick bread, just like I love the cinnamon/cloves/allspice flavors in the pumpkin bread and the extra lemony flavor in my Gingersnaps.  This bread is quick to make and cranberries can be found year round.  Give it a try and enjoy! 



CRANBERRY  ORANGE  NUT  BREAD


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup orange juice
¼ melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup fresh cranberries (not frozen)
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease one regular size bread loaf pan (or two small loaf pans).  Dust pan lightly with flour, dumping excess.  Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, & salt in large mixing bowl.  Combine the sugar, orange juice, melted butter, & eggs in another bowl, mixing well.  Stir into flour mixture along with cranberries, walnuts, and orange rind.  Mix well, blending all ingredients.  Pour into prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 50 minutes or into knife inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean.  Remove pan to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then run knife around edges of pan and turn out onto rack to cool completely.     




Monday, December 5, 2016

CHRISTMAS LETTERS--LOVE 'EM OR TOSS 'EM?

By Mary Kennedy                          
                                                              

Some people love Christmas letters from friends. Other folks,  not so much. Maybe Christmas letters are an acquired taste? Even though I don't write them myself (preferring to jot little individualized notes inside Christmas cards), I do enjoy hearing from friends across the country.

I asked a dear friend for a few tips on writing Christmas letters (she writes marvelous ones) and here are her thoughts.

                                                           
 
Rule #1. Don't leave anyone out! One year my friend accidentally left one of her six children off the "finished" draft that went out to friends. Oh no! She will never heard the end of it. This same rule applies to pets. Most people consider their pets part of the family (my cat, Oscar, pictured below, certainly does) so it's nice to include them.
                                                             
 
You don't need to dress them up with Santa hats, just a line or two about how they're doing is fine. Of course, if your cat will tolerate a Santa hat, maybe that's not a bad thing. (Mine don't).
                                                            
 
2. "Less is more." Don't make your Christmas letters overly long. People tend to stop reading after the first paragraph! So be sure to put the "good stuff" upfront. (like hitting the New York Times list after your 55th book!)
 
3. Be sure to have fun with the letter, go for humorous, if you like, and I guarantee your friends will enjoy it.
 
4. In this day of texting and e-mail, it's still nice to get a "paper" Christmas letter in the mail. I don't know why it just seems special, but it does.
 
5. Don't be afraid to try something different. One of my friends always includes a recipe with her Christmas letter. I've tried everyone of her recipes and they are invariably delish!
                                                            
 
Have a great holiday!!
 
Mary Kennedy
 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

SPOTLIGHT Saturday

by Maggie Sefton







My Spotlight today highlights one of my E-Shorts, titled  "Who Are You People?"  It features all of the characters in the Kelly Flynn Mysteries and gives readers a deeper look into who they are.  It's available on Amazon, so I hope you folks give it a try.  Amazon always lets people read a sample of their selections, so check it out.  :)   If you know someone who might like the Kelly Flynn Mysteries but have never read them, this short selection is a great introduction to the series.  :)  

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Blast from the Past

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

For as long as I’ve had access to the Internet, I’ve been trying to find my favorite childhood read—and a mystery to boot! My third-grade teacher read us this book at least twice, and I remembering taking it out of the library several times between third and sixth grade. No matter how I searched, I could never find the book. It didn’t help that I didn’t know the author of the book, either.

Last week, I was working on a Blythe Cove Manor story (which still isn’t finished, although I wanted it to be available by December 1st), and I was looking for another word for “cove.” Mr. L suggested inlet. That got me thinking about the book I loved so much. I thought the title of the book was The Secret Cove. I remembered a few things about the book. A little girl was going to California to visit her great Aunt Alicia. The aunt didn’t realize how much a growing girl could eat, and the poor kid was starved through most of the book, and ended up spending her vacation money to eat at a diner—and making new friends along the way.

This time, I thought I’d put in the words “Aunt Alicia” + “Secret” + “Cove” and BINGO! I immediately got a hit.  My memory was sort of correct. The words Secret and Cove were in the title, but not enough of the title.  The book is actually The Secret of Smuggler’s Cove by Margaret Leighton.

Woo-hoo!  Amazon, here I come.

Only not so fast.  I immediately ordered a used copy of the book (which has been out of print for decades). And I waited and waited and waited for them to give me an email about shipment.  Then I got a note from the 3rd party seller; “Sorry, but we can’t find the title you’re interested in.”

So back I went to Amazon and ordered from the next available vendor. (Only this time the book was double the price.)  And while I was there, I decided to order a copy of another book I read and reread as a child: Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison (a real person who lived in upstate NY not far from Rochester), by Lois Lenski. Woo-hoo! I ordered a cheapie copy of that, too.  They both arrived on Wednesday.

I haven’t had a chance to read either of them yet, so I’m rather on pins and needles.  Will they be as good as I remember?

Do you have a favorite childhood read?  Did it stand the test of time?

 ----------------------------------------------

Did you receive our holiday newsletter yesterday?  If not, please check your SPAM folder. Those of you with Gmail should check your Promotions Folder.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The list that wanted to eat the world

By Mary Jane Maffini aka Victoria Abbott


On November 24th, I realized with a shock that there was only a month until Christmas.  Yikes. I mentioned this to my husband who said, “Why are you worried? There’s an entire month.”



                And therein lay a lot of differences. 

                Of course, he wasn’t worried. If he had a list (which he didn’t) it would have three things on it. Tops.  I would remind him to do them (a few times).  This is, after all, the man who was famous for arriving at a shopping center on Christmas Eve sometime after four p.m. with hope in his heart and a wild look in his eye.

                I did have a list and it had seventy-five things on it.  So who has the right idea here? 

                The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the list can be a burden in itself.  On the other hand, without the list, things could go very very wrong.  

                On the other other hand, nowhere on the seventy-five item list did it say ‘have fun’ or ‘relax’.  Naturally, I will have fun and I might even relax, but not on that list.   By the way, I loved Duffy's post about not giving gifts.  Very refreshing. And it would make for a shorter list!

             I decided to lighten up.   I went through the list and if that item didn't make someone very happy, it was moved to the new list: Fuggeddabodit.   I feel better already.  I switched a few items to 'other people's lists' and that helped.  In the end, we do just want the things that matter: family, friends, food and fun.  Sometimes those things involve lists!






              And I really like to have lights that twinkle, some traditional baked treats and a few dogs in hats.  Is that too much to ask?  



              I hope by next year to knock a few more items off.  Wish me luck. Although also I hope we still make our cranberry mulled cider, since it only takes ten minutes to put together.




                Speaking of lists, don’t forget to check our  Cozy Chicks newsletter. It’s coming out soon, with some ideas for your shopping list. 


                Have fun this month, my friends, and relax. And if you have a minute, drop by and tell me what you have stopped doing that made your holiday prep easier for everyone.  If you still embrace doing it all, tell us about that too!

Look forward to hearing from you.