Thursday, June 29, 2017

Horses and the Big Sky

by Karen Rose Smith




I'm an animal lover. Besides cats and dogs, I've loved horses since I watched them on my uncle's farm and read The Black Stallion.  Even though I was around horses growing up, I was afraid of them.  But after becoming a mom, I decided to take riding lessons. My fear became appreciation for a horse's intuitiveness. 

When I wrote my first "cowboy" book, I was able to inject my love of horses into those books.  I was hooked and appreciated most writing those books set in Montana and the Southwest. Although my knowledge of hoses came from mostly farm settings, horses and the Big Sky were perfect together.




I had done a lot of research on "gentling" horses rather than "breaking" them to ride. That research led me to the bands of wild horses that still roam western land.  My husband and I took a research trip to Montana and Wyoming and I wrote a series that included wild mustangs.








Nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for the sight of the wild horses.  We'd been told we might not get a glimpse of them--in The Big Horns the territory they roamed was expansive.  But when we approached the mountains, three of them were standing on the cliff above us as if they were welcoming us.  We spotted them and I studied them many days we drove through the mountains. Horses socialize with each other and their behavior in bands was fascinating.





Near Cody, Wyoming, we took a tour to an area where the horses are spotted regularly.  They were used to the van appearing.  In and out of the van, we got within twenty five feet of the herd.  These wild mustangs are amazing, magnificent and beautiful.









Back in Pennsylvania I interviewed a woman who had adopted a wild mustang from the Bureau of Land Management.  I also attended an adoption event for mustangs in Pennsylvania. One of my causes is saving the mustangs in the wild.




Needless to say my favorite television series is Heartland about an Alberta, Canada ranch and a horse whisperer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Some little perks


Everyone should treat themselves once in a while otherwise you’re just the mule pulling the wagon and where’s the fun in that? So my question today is, how do you treat yourself?

Are you the manicure gal? Some of my friends do this every two weeks. They really don’t consider it a perk so much as routine upkeep. It is important for them to have nice nails. I tried this once. Paid a lot of money for a nice manicure then went home and weeded the garden and washed the car.

 I am so not a manicure gal. I’m always digging and cleaning and even when I do the garden glove thing it’s no use, the dirt always finds its way into my gloves and gives me the ugly fingernail crud. So for me a manicure is a waste of money.

Maybe a perk is out to lunch with friends? This I totally get. Tomorrow I’m doing lunch with Tonya Kappes, definitely the highlight of my week. I love getting together with friends for lunch and chatting about books and writing. This is definitely a perk for me.

Shopping? Is that your little perk? I work
at the Snooty Fox so shopping is part of work and fun but I have to say I enjoy a little retail therapy for a break. When I’m tired I’ll go to Chico online and check out the new stuff they have coming in. A perk is a splurge on a new blouse or pants that is not from the consignment shop. I don’t do this often but once in a while is great fun.

What about a doughnut? Okay this seems like a small perk but sometimes I dream of doughnuts. Let me tell you, it is not easy getting old with no metabolism. So yes, a doughnut is a perk when you know its going right to your butt and staying there till you Zumba it off.

I’ve tossed out a few ideas of perks, so what is your perk? What do you do when you want to treat yourself?


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Movie Time

by Maggie Sefton



It's Movie Review time, Friends.  As all you Cozy Chicks Blog readers know,  I love
seeing movies in the cinema---on the big screen.  Watching movies on TV just isn't the same for me.  So----since I'm a movie fan, I thought I'd review a few of the movies I've seen recently.  You folks may decide to check  out some of these films yourselves.  If so, Enjoy!


THE MUMMY---I still remember the action-packed version of this movie with Brendan Frazier which came out years ago.  This one has tweaked the storyline enough to make it interesting.  The mummy of the title is a once-powerful woman from ancient Egyptian times who was mummified while still alive and placed in a tomb way down in a cave.  Tom Cruise plays a "reluctant" hero who is more con artist than hero and finds himself included in a mission with archaeologists--tomb hunters.  Lots of action and that ancient Egyptian mummy definitely makes a believable and scary villain.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES---This movie is the 3rd (maybe the 4th) in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, which stars Johnny Depp.  This one has Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew haunted by ghostly sailors from a former enemy.  To save himself and his crew, Sparrow has to find the Trident of Poseidon with the help of  a beautiful astronomer and a young British navy man.

MEGAN LEAVEY---There was no way I would miss this based-on-a-true-story movie.  Plus, it featured a brave bomb-sniffing dog, a German Shepherd named Rex, who saved many people's lives years ago when American soldiers and Marines were fighting in Iraq.  Rex and other dogs were trained to help find the buried IUDs that were scattered all over the battlefield in that country.  I brought plenty of tissues in case I cried, but I didn't need them.  The movie is very engrossing and both Megan and Rex are alive  throughout the movie.  Megan, who was awarded a Purple Heart for her bravery, fought hard to adopt Rex so he could live his life in peace with her instead of being sent off to war zones again.  And, yes, Megan was successful.  :)

THE BOOK OF HENRY---This is a very good movie, folks.  The child actors are excellent, as are the adult actors.  You'll recognize some of these actors from many movies.  I think several of them wanted to do this film, because it's small, but it handles a serious subject with bravery and heart.  It's an excellent movie. Very, very good.  

Monday, June 26, 2017

TWO GREAT ZUCCHINI RECIPES!

By Mary Kennedy                               

Now's the time when friends and neighbors are sharing baskets of zucchini fresh from their gardens. You appreciate their kindness, but what in the world will you do with all that zucchini?  Here are a couple of ideas, I've tested them myself and love them. I think you will, too.

The first is zucchini and goat cheese pie and it couldn't be easier!

Ingredients
 
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick.
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • One prepared pie crust (or you can make your own)
     *  8 ounces of goat cheese
 
The trick to this recipe is getting all the water out of the zucchini. How do you do that? Take the sliced zucchini, add some salt and place in a colander. Let the slices drain for 30 minutes. Now, dump the zucchini onto a clean dish towel and squeeze out any remaining water. This is very important because no one wants a soggy pie!
 
Add a touch of mined fresh thyme to the goat cheese and spread on the pie crust. Top with the dried slices of zucchini in a circular pattern. (as pictured above)..Start at the outside and work your way in.  Drizzle the olive oil on top. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes, it is delish!
 
The second recipe requires a spiralizer. You don't need anything fancy, you can buy one on Amazon for about ten bucks. This is the one I have. It makes thin strips of veggies and turns them into spaghetti like strands. I love to make "zucchini spaghetti" to cut down on calories.
 
This is what zucchini will look like after going through the spiralizer. I leave the skin on because I like the combination of green and white.

                                                              


You can blanch the zucchini strands in boiling water and then add your favorite sauce. Some people use half spaghetti and half zucchini before transitioning over to "all" zucchini. Either way, it's a very tasty dish.
                                                        
 
 
Hope you try these two recipes. Next week, I'm giving some great recipes for corn. Stay tuned and hope you are having a wonderful summer.

Mary Kennedy

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer is Here!

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

Okay, fifteen minutes ago it was April and cold and miserable and now suddenly it's coming up on 4th of July week. Where has time gone?

It's been two years since my mother passed away, and it seems like a couple of weeks--tops. I mean, why else would I think, "Oh, I need to call and tell her....?"

So, let's look back on our "summer" so far. Yeah, technically we're just three days in, but that's not how I look at summer.

Summer starts when we open our family cottage.  That was in late April. I've been there for three weeks (off and on) to do writing retreats--just me and my cat, Fred. (He's not very good company. He lies around and sleeps a lot.)

The lilacs came and went.

The BIGGEST community yard sale happens the first weekend in June. Been there, done that! (Didn't find much, but I did get fried dough and Mr. L got his $1 hot dog at 9 am that he always looks forward to.)

The Strawberry Festival was last weekend.  Another fried dough day (that's it until next June).

Last weekend we had two of the hottest days on record for June. (Which makes me dread the rest of the summer.)

But there's still lots to look forward to.

  • Weekend (2-martini) lunches at our favorite restaurant(s).
  • The Vintage Car Show
  • The Owen Shores jewelry sale (and hope they have a yard sale later this summer)
  • Lunch at the Sherwood Inn
  • Our 26th wedding anniversary
  • more yard sales with treasures yet to be found
  • the Jazz and Wine Festival (where do you think I got the idea for Booktown #11?)
  • Labor Day
  • The big Pultneyville community sale
  • The Harvest Festival
There's lots more to look forward to. Like local sweet corn, picking my tomatoes, cutting gladiolas to sit on my dining room table, watching my niece splash around in the pool and shouting, "Aunt Du-wane, look what I can do!" Thunderstorms with lightning slashing the darkened sky. Rain on the roof.

Okay, I won't rush the summer. There's so much to do and get done during the next three months.

What's your favorite thing/event in summer?

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.











 
Voluptuous

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 besides...in 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&N.com, 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

DON'T FORGET YOUR GREENS!

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 couch...my 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

THE ULTIMATE SUGAR RUSH, a FIFTEEN-DOLLAR MILKSHAKE

                                                             

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