Friday, April 28, 2017

All I want is a little cabinet

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

Sometimes you wonder what people are thinking when they do the layout on a house. For some strange reason, my laundry room is long and narrow and pretty much dysfunctional. The former owner was a quilter, and I guess she had her sewing machine set up there, but it had been put away when we looked at the house.

So, the washer and dryer are crowded in one corner and there's a narrow space left that's pretty much useless. And though there are cabinets above the washer and dryer, they're stuffed and overflowing. (I need to actually open the doors and find out what's inside. I'm betting I could chuck half of it.) Basically the room has become a drop zone for anything that comes into the house.

THAT HAS GOT TO STOP.

So, I thought I'd buy a cabinet to put at the far end of the room. Something that could take the laundry detergent, etc. It would be even better if the bottom half could store dirty laundry. Currently, we have a space for that at the bottom of our ONE AND ONLY linen closet, that could be better used for ... I dunno ... linens???

So I went hunting for a cabinet and found that whatever I like is either too expensive, or no longer available.  Like that pink cabinet to the left. (It came in other colors, too.) That's exactly what I'm looking for. This was actually listed as baby furniture and, because I like it, it's no longer in stock--anywhere. : (

Then there's this beautiful cabinet from Paula Deen's furniture line. Isn't it lovely? And only $1,465 (but free shipping!  Whoopie!). Nearly $1500 to store dirty laundry? I don't think so.

Home Depot has some storage stuff in the $200 range (looked them up online) but I'm afraid once I go look at them at the store, they will look too cheezy and may not be sturdy. I buy my laundry detergent in bulk. Will a big jug like that make the shelves buckle?

I looked on Craigslist, but everything there was made of particle board. (I stopped buying particle board furniture a l-o-n-g time ago.) So I don't know what I'm going to do.

When my parents bought their last house, a metal utility cabinet came with it. My mother stored odds and ends in it but would not part with it. It wasn't until she passed away that I got hold of it. I scrubbed away years of dirt and spilled ickiness, and repainted it inside and out. It's now in my enclosed porch and stores my gardening tools. If I could find something like that for the laundry room, it sure would make life easier. Until I can find something, I guess the laundry room will remain a drop zone. : (

Any ideas on how to solve this dilemma?






Thursday, April 27, 2017

Are Family Games Obsolete???

by Karen Rose Smith


We have always enjoyed family games...from cards to board games to any that will bring us together to laugh and talk.  When our son was small, we had a family game night once a week.  He could choose whatever game he'd like to play. Often the game of LIFE or FLINCH was his first choice.  When we went on camping trips, we played MILLE BORNES to pass camper time in the evenings.


With my in-laws we played 500, PITCH and lots of JEOPARDY.  As our son grew older, our games were more in groups with friends. PICTIONARY was a favorite.  TRIVIAL PURSUIT was big back then and we even played that with our neighbors.  APPLES to APPLES was a huge hit with my best friend's daughter and DOMINOES worked with any group.

Now our game playing is mostly centered around New Year's Eve.  We have a party each year and invite my college roommate and her husband as well as my son's friends and our neighbors. SCATTERGORIES is a top pick in this group along with TABOO. If kids are around that night, they like to play MANCALA.

Many of you know that I'm an avid cat lover.  My newest addition to our game shelf is CAT-OPOLY.  We haven't tried it yet but hope to do that soon.


I hope all your game playing results in laughter and conversation that might have been missed if you hadn't played the game.  

WHAT FAMILY GAMES DO YOU PLAY???

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Root for the home team...or not

Sports...in or out.

Howdy, Duffy Brown here and it’s baseball time, the all American sport. 

In fact our baseball team here in Cincy, the Cincinnati Reds have their stadium as they all do and it’s called...the Great American Ballpark. It deserves it’s name. It sort of has an old fashion flavor to it though it’s totally modern when it comes to baseball with the big jumbo screen and whatever.

Did you catch the whatever? There in is my knowledge of the Cincinnati Reds. I can’t name one player, the manager, who owns the team, if the team is any good or has a shot at the playoffs. Is it called playoffs?

Then there’s our other pro team here in Cincy, the Bangles. Bangles are tigers but this is a football team. And that is all that I know about the Bangles. I couldn’t name one player if my life depended on it, I have no idea if the team is any good and if they have a shot at the playoffs.

I have friends who know everything about these teams? Who’s traded, who’s good, who’s bad. They wear the team colors, listen and watch the games live and die with winning or losing. I envy them. It’s fun to root for the home team...it says so in the song. I just wish I cared. 

I guess I do care in that it’s good for the city image and brings tourists to town and gives people something to talk about but other than that I’m out plus I hate that we are taxed for stadiums that make a few people really rich...but that’s another issue.

My kids are the same way. We have never watched a team sport on TV in this house other than the Ameriaca’s Cup. That’s sailing and we love to sail. Our view on balls is...why fight over it, go to Walmart and buy your own.

So what about you? Are you a sports enthusiast and I don’t mean just pro sports but do you care if Michigan beats Ohio State? If the local college beats the other local college? Do you own a team shirt? Listen on the radio while driving and try and get home to see the game?


And how did you get to be a sports fan?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Movie Time 2

by Maggie Sefton



Yes, Cozy Chicks Friends and Readers, I know it's only been 2 weeks since I last posted about current movies.  But several good movies have  come out that I wanted to tell you about.  I'll remind you, Friends and Readers, I do NOT go to see horror or Really Scary Movies.  So, if those are your favorites, well. . .you'll have to read someone else's reviews.  :)   The previews are scary enough before the Feature Movie comes on.


THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE---This is a real-life story that took place during World
War II in Warsaw, Poland.  The Warsaw zookeeper and his wife actually covertly worked with the Resistance and began stealthily taking Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto and hiding them in the basement of their home at the Warsaw Zoo until the zookeeper could hide them in his truck (under collected trash) and drive them out of Warsaw to escape the country.  Jessica Chastain plays the zookeeper's wife.  This is an excellent movie, folks, and well worth your time.


GOING IN STYLE----This is a delightful and funny movie.  Three Senior senior citizens (in their  80s) who are life-long friends (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin) are left in the cold when their pension fund becomes a corporate casualty.  Forced by mounting bills, they decide to step off the "straight and narrow" and provide the funds needed by robbing a bank----the very bank that swallowed their lifetime savings.  This is a funny and highly enjoyable movie, friends.


THE BOSS BABY----Trust me, this is not simply a cute movie for kids.  With Alec Baldwin's voice (and attitude) as the voice and personality of this "new baby brother," it is laugh-out-loud funny.  This baby wears a suit and tie and has a Corporate Wheeler-Dealer mentality.  The older brother is just trying to keep up and keep Boss Baby from causing too much trouble.   Very funny.  :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

WOULD YOU EAT THESE WILD AND WACKY FOODS?

By Mary Kennedy                           
                                                           
 
 
I thought it might be fun to explore some wacky new foods (some new, some old, some will surely vanish!) and get your opinion. First is the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. Supposedly it changes from sweet to sour as you drink it. A little weird, right?  Would you try it? What does it taste like? It's supposed to be cloyingly sweet, with a hint of mango. If you mix up the "blue liquid" part of the drink, the taste suddenly becomes tart. It's gotten mixed reviews and probably won't be around for long.
                          
                                                        
 
The "double down" from KFC might not be too wacky, if you really, really love chicken breasts. There are two chicken patties and they replace the bun in the double down "sandwich."
                                                          
 
This might be a carnivore's delight or a vegetarian's nightmare. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a vegetarian)  It's two chicken patties and two hamburgers squashed in between.. And I see some melted cheese in there. Check your cholesterol at the door.              
                                                     
 
Here's a chicken breast patty being used as a hot dog bun...why would anyone do this? No idea!
                                                       
 
 Two Krispy Kreme donuts being used as hamburger buns (Paula Deen says that when she made this on her cooking show, it was a joke.) The hamburger buns in the studio were stale, so she playfully picked up a couple of donuts and used them as bread. She had no idea anyone would take this seriously! But somehow...they did. Be careful what you wish for.
Here's a particularly odd food--is it really spaghetti topped with a cherry? No, it's vanilla ice cream, shaped in spaghetti-like pieces, topped with strawberry sauce. A weird idea and I'm not really sure if anyone would order it. Maybe for the kiddie menu? Not sure.
                                  
                                                          
 
Does pizza go well with hot dogs? In the picture above, the pizza crust is stuff with hot dogs. Can't imagine why!
                                             
                                                              
 
Finally, deep fat fried Twinkies (I know these aren't new, they've been at state fairs for quite a while, but I'm including them anyway.)
 
Would you eat any of the things pictured above? Just curious!
 
Mary Kennedy



Friday, April 21, 2017

A pruning I did go

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

A while back, I mentioned I had watched some Youtube videos about pruning roses.  The guy said to do it when the forsythia started to bloom. Well, that day arrived and I said to myself, "Time to get to work. But take a look above at the rosebush before I started hacking at it.  (And by the way, on the left side, behind all those canes with BIG THORNS is a tiny rhododendron that had practically been choked out.) You can tell by the daffodils that this rose bush was BIG. In fact, some of the canes (the ones in back) were longer than 6 feet.






I must admit, I was pretty intimidated by MONSTER ROSE. But, I have a heavy-duty pair of leather gloves, pruning sheers, loppers, and two empty garbage cans to put the upcoming mess. I started our with the pruning sheers, but in twenty minutes had barely made a dent in the plant--and my back was starting to hurt. I abandoned them and went straight for the loppers. Now I was making some progress. I they were actually a lot easier to use, I could maneuver chunks of the canes into the trash can and cut them into much smaller bits.

After about an hour, Mr. L came outside to see the progress.  "Aren't you finished YET?" Nope, but I was getting cold. I had on a jacket, but no hat. Mr. L went back inside and brought me out my hat. Back to work.

In all, it took 90 minutes to prune Mr. Rosebush. The guy in the video said you should prune them back to between 12 and 18 inches. I didn't measure how tall the canes now stand, but I'd say they're in the 18-24 inch range. Now it will be safe for my niece and my neighbor's kids to walk around the pool without getting scratched. And according to the video guy (well, more than one, and not just men), the rose should be saying, "Whew! Glad I got a haircut. Now my roots can better support what's left."


I know it's hard to see what's going on in the picture above, but that's what's left of the rose. There're still some dead canes (and I was surprised how much of the bush was dead), but the only saw I have is too big to maneuver around the living canes. Mr. L is afraid I've killed it, but in a week it's already starting to sprout growth, so I'm cautiously optimistic that by the end of June it will have grown and we'll have lots of blooms. (It's an "old" rose, with small, flat pink petals--not a tea rose.)

I've done more raking, and am eager for the weather to improve so that I can plant my milkweed seeds (which have arrived--they have to sit in a wet paper towel in the fridge for up to a month to sprout--who knew!) and the gladiola bulbs--about a month before they can go in the ground.

I know many of you in warmer climates are already enjoying your gardens. Why not share what's growing right now?


 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Pets in my Cozy Mysteries

by Karen Rose Smith


When I began writing my Caprice De Luca Home Staging series, I knew I wanted to include pets in an important way.  So in addition to home staging, cooking, and visiting with her big Italian family, Caprice takes in stray pets and finds them homes.  A few of them she has kept.  Her pet family includes Sophia, a long haired calico.  She found Sophia (named after her Nana's favorite actress Sophia Loren) when she first moved into her house and considered her a "welcome to the neighborhood" present.  Shortly after she took in a little mixed breed-part Shih Tzu and part Pomeranian. But her best friend and Dylan--named after the singer--bonded and Roz became Dylan's mom.

In the second book in the series DEADLY DECOR, Caprice found a pregnant Cocker Spaniel.  After seeing her through her pregnancy and finding her rightful owner, Caprice kept one of the pups and made sure the others had good homes. Caprice's dog Lady is modeled after the Cocker I loved as a child. He was a present to my mom on my parents' anniversary.





Caprice's love interest, Grant Weatherford adopted a male from the litter and named him Patches.





In GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Caprice finds a grey tabby kitten and her Nana adopts her and names her Valentine. This kitten was modeled on our 16 year old London who we rescued from a farm.







In DRAPE EXPECTATIONS, Caprice finds herself very fond of a white Persian cat, Mirabelle, who has been living with the murder victim.  She adopts her and Lady and Sophia have to adjust to a new member of their household.







In SILENCE OF THE LAMPS, I tell a similar story to our own when we adopted Halo.  She was malnourished, pregnant, and decided she wanted to nest in our patio sun room.  After an emergency visit to the vet and finding out she was pregnant, we brought her in.  She lived in my office until she had her 3 babies.  They lived there with her until they were ready to be adopted.  We kept her and her first born, a tortoiseshell we named Miss Paddington.  In SILENCE OF THE LAMPS,  Caprice and her uncle trap Halo, take her to the vet and then Caprice finds her a home across the street from her house.



In SHADES OF WRATH, Caprice finds a yellow tabby cat at the crime scene.  He is modeled after a sweet stray I cared for for three years.  He just wouldn't be confined so we couldn't bring him in.  But he would let me hold him and pet him.  We lost him last year to FIV.  I dedicated this book to Sunnybud.












The seventh book in my Caprice series will be released in November 2017.  In SLAY BELLS RING, a white Malamute is a star player.  Blitz finds a home with Caprice's parents.








I hope you enjoy all of the antics with the pets in my series as well as the mysteries!





Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Me the Mouse and Two Cats


There are several things wrong with this title. Me and the mouse in the same sentence is totally squeal time. Mice outside fine...that’s their territory. Mice in my house, heck no!! This is me territory.

But the really wrong thing with this title is the last part the cat part. How can there be a mouse in the house running freely and terrorizing the owner when there are two lazy cats sitting on their lazy butts eating my food and sleeping in my bed and doing nothing.

Fat cats don’t hunt is sooooo true.

Do I ask them to vacuum, dust, do laundry? No! (Actually I do but it gets drowned out in brains by all the laughing)

I take you to the vet I told them, I feed you the good food that costs more then my food, I pet you, de-flea you, give you the comfy blankets and pillows and most of the bed to sleep on and yet...

So now it’s up to me to get rid of the mice. Animals are amazing and killing them, even one that is holding me hostage in my own house, is not something I want to do. Sooooo, that means a catch and release trap. That sounds good until you realize you have to then pick up the contraption with the mouse inside, carry it some distance then open the door so it can get out!!

You can probably hear me screeching all the way from my house to yours. But I did it as bashing in a mouse’s brains is just too sad.
So here is what I bought and I have to tell you it works!!!!!!!! 

As for the carrying part I have extra long tongs that I pick the box up in, carry it very carefully as the thought of dropping the box and the mouse escaping back into my house is simply a nightmare.
I carry the box to the end of the property and flip up the little door with my fingernail and the mouse is out!! Much to my joy and mouse’s. 



So my question today is... Have you ever had a mouse in your house and do you have cats and did you give them the get off your fat butts lecture. And since they probably laughed at you too how did you get rid of your mouse!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Coming Soon---A New Kelly Flynn Mystery

by Maggie Sefton



Yes. . .the next Kelly Flynn mystery will be released this June.  ONLY SKEIN DEEP will be the 15th Kelly Flynn Knitting Mystery.  The very first Kelly Flynn Knitting Mystery was published in June 2005.  That was twelve years  ago, folks!  It's hard to believe so much time has passed---not only for the characters in the series, but for us.  That would be you and me, folks.  :)

Here's a brief story blurb below.  The hardcover edition will be out this June.  The paperback edition will be available in June of next year.   Oh, yes, there is a surprise in this Kelly Flynn.  It's near the end of the book.  Now, don't go paging through the book when it comes out, folks.  That would spoil the surprise.      


Kelly Flynn and her boyfriend, Steve, couldn’t be happier as they await the birth of their baby boy. As the Lambspun Knitters sit around the table crafting their keepsakes, the story of Giselle Callahan is a popular topic of conversation. Giselle is the young wife of Henry Callahan, a Fort Connor banking scion, who traded in his previous wife of forty years for a newer model. Giselle’s prowess as both a skilled country club golfer and social climber puts her on someone’s hit list. When she is found dead on the greens at the golf club, Kelly and her Lampspun crew worry that a vicious killer is in their midst. They must work fast to bring a clever murderer to justice on the back nine before Kelly’s very special delivery...
 


 

Monday, April 17, 2017

GOT LEFTOVERS? MINI-POT PIES YOU WILL LOVE!

By Mary Kennedy                                  

                                                                

Now that the holidays are over and you're wondering what to do with that leftover turkey, ham, and veggies, I have a solution. Mini pot pies you make in muffin cups. I make the veggie version, but will give you all the options. I bet you have all the ingredients in your fridge right now (except you need to have some Bisquick in the pantry.)

This recipe makes 12 muffins cooked in regular size muffin tins. (It's really good and you might want to double it.)

Easy as can be and they freeze well. At 150 calories each, you can have a couple for lunch with a nice salad, (or just grab one for a quick afternoon snack.)                                                 
                                                     

Here's what you need.
For the filling:
1 pound boneless cooked chicken, turkey or ham (the veggie version is below)
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed
1/2 cup chicken broth or veggie broth, heated. (I use Better Than Bouillon, the low sodium kind)
1 cup cooked mixed veggies or frozen peas and carrots
salt and pepper to taste. (I use Crazy Salt which is salt and pepper mixed)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (some people use Swiss or Mozzarella, I think any type will do)

Note: Veggie version. I omit the chicken, turkey etc and add a LOT of roasted veggies instead. In fact I make a whole tray of roasted red peppers, leeks, zucchini, onion and probably add about 2 cups to the muffin filling mixture.  You don't need to sauté a medium onion if you use the roasted veggies, just add an onion to the roasting pan.

The "veggie" muffins will be bigger than in the original recipe, but that's okay, right? You can experiment and see what you like. Some people omit the peas and carrots and use broccoli.


Ingredients for the "baking part of the recipe."
2 eggs, (I use eggbeaters)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 Bisquick Mix

Here's what you do.

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
                                                          
Now, mix the "baking ingredients" (Bisquick, egg and milk) together. Pour the mixture into a muffin tin that would hold 12 regular size muffins
                                                          
Now mix the filling ingredients. If you've used boiling water to make the 1/2 cup of chicken or veggie broth, that's good because now you can mix all the "filling" ingredients and the cheese will melt.

Spoon the "filling" mixture into the muffin tin. (the baking mixture is already on the bottom of each cup. Just spoon the filling mix right on top of it.)

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, maybe a little more. I would start checking at 30 minutes. If you tend to "over-fill" the muffin cups, as I do, add a few minutes to the cooking time.

Enjoy!!

Hope everyone had a good holiday, Mary

Friday, April 14, 2017

Audiobooks ... It's Complicated

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

Just like health care turned out to be complicated, selling audiobooks turns out to be complicated, too.

I admit it; I'm cheap and audiobooks aren't. That's why I ask for audiobooks as holiday presents. This week, I finally got around to listening to a couple I got for Christmas. One was okay, and the other was absurdly ridiculous. Laugh aloud ridiculous.  It's Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny by Garrison Keillor. I was never a huge fan of his Lake Wobegon, although I've read a few of them and did enjoy them, but it was A Christmas Blizzard (and the story bears almost no resemblance to the Amazon audio description--who was smoking what when that got uploaded?) that made me seek out another of Keillor's audiobooks.  Mr. Keillor read them himself, and in the case of Guy Noir, has a couple of other people help with the narration. It's marvelous!

But, as usual, I digress.

A lot of people LOVE audiobooks, but (as mentioned above) they aren't cheap. That's why when I went whole hog into the audiobook business, I figured I could cut my price and sell more--making up the loss of income in bulk sales. No such luck. Turns out the author--no matter who s/he sells the audio rights to, has no say in pricing. One of my readers in England was lamenting the fact that he can't even GET my cozies in the UK. Guess what? We have no say on where the audiobooks are distributed, either.

That's why I'm sort of the perfect candidate for audiobooks. When I like something, I read or listen to it over and over again. (It's like visiting an old friend. And did I mention I've listened to A Christmas Blizzard so many times I've partially worn out disk 2?) So when I (or someone I love) do pony up the dough to buy an audiobook, I know I'm going to get my (or their) money's worth out of it.

Anyway, it turns out that last year I paid 20% more to have 3 audiobooks recorded than I made selling all 14 of my titles. One of my titles has only sold 3 copies.  (The other 5 that "account for sales" are actually ones I gave away for reviews. Not everyone who gets a free audiobook to review ever actually does that, either. Rather disheartening, really.)

If you love but can't afford audiobooks, ask your library to order them. I've also heard readers say they listen to them via  Hoopla.

So ... those are the audiobook facts as I know them.

Are you an audiobook listener?

P.S.  There are two great Facebook pages to learn about (mostly) mystery audiobooks.  They are:

Incredible Indie Authors Audio Page           Mystery Audiobooks Lovers

I hope you'll sign up to follow both of these pages.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spring Is In The Air

by Karen Rose Smith



Every year, I hopefully wait for spring. I begin planting seeds in January. Nourishing  petunias, tomatoes and snapdragons helps me to remember that ice, snow and cold will soon be gone.  This week, I could spend time editing on the patio. 


For some reason it's so much easier to edit while sitting in the sun or under an umbrella, sipping lemonade.




 Hyacinths are in full bloom and their lovely scent is all around.  The daffodils make a fluffy border along the patio's edge.  






My husband and I care for sibling stray cats--Bonnie and Clyde, along with our inside fur babies.  Even though Bonnie and Clyde usually come into the basement at night, they aren't yet socialized.  We can play with them with wands and laser lights, but if we move too quickly or approach them, they run and hide.  Today while I was editing, Bonnie visited me!  She ran by me and into the basement through the cat door. 

Creeping phlox are becoming more colorful each day.  Catmint and cat thyme are growing back in the garden after being dormant through the winter. Tulips are opening. 







As often as I can, I will be taking work to the patio to enjoy the gifts of spring.