Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's too darn hot!




By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

News flash: our friend and reader, Grace Koshida, managed to leave a comment today!  She told us that if you click on the blue 'header/title', the comment section appears.  Am I the last to know that?  Thanks so much, Grace!  And now back to our regular programming:
It’s too darn hot!   We all agree. The dogs want to stay cool  in the house. Of course, they are wearing fur coats.  Even the squirrels are lounging listlessly on the fence and not being any fun at all.  We are totally wilted, and yet, we remember winter and feel that we should somehow manage to enjoy the weather.  

The weeds however love this hot and humid weather, especially if there’s a thunderstorm and heavy rain every few days.  They are flourishing.



 I swear these weren’t here in this little corner by the garage yesterday.  I will spare you (and us) the more embarrassing shots where the weeds are clearly winning the wars.

So, what to do?  We need to cool off to get out and do a bit in the garden before we’re overrun.   But who has the energy late in the afternoon? 

Our cheap and cheerful go-to solution is iced coffee.  We like that it takes seconds and looks a lot like a smoothie.


We take leftover cold coffee.  There’s always a pot going here.  Using our trusty blender, we add 1 % or skim milk equal to the amount of the coffee, sweetener,  five or six ice cubes.  Then we whir it until foamy.  This takes less than two minutes and is one of the reasons, it’s cheerful.  Sometimes we add vanilla or a bit of cocoa.  Today it was too darn hot to do that.



One summer we used whole milk and occasionally cream for this little treat and noticed a few pounds came with it over the summer.  Now we tell ourselves that 1 % or skim give better foam.  

We’ll sip them in the screened porch which never gets any direct sun so is always a bit cooler than outside.  The plan is to let the drink cool us down and when the caffeine hits our systems in about twenty minutes to attack those weeds.  

We miss your comments!   We're hoping to get that resolved soon. 
If you can find a way to comment here or at our Cozy Chicks Facebook page,  let us know what your favorite tricks are for cooling down and getting a bit of extra energy when it’s too darn hot. 

Otherwise, you could even contact through the websites: www.victoria-abbott.comwww.victoria-abbott.com or www.maryjanemaffini.com 

By the way, we hope you got our newsletter!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Largest Eggplant gets the blue ribbon

It’s mid-summer, the time of lots of sun, sweltering heat and fairs. 

They’re everywhere and of every variety. There are the church fairs with booths like games of chance I never win and rides for the kids and grilled corn...don’t you just love the grilled corn booth. At our church fair we have a doll both where people take a doll and dress it up and then others bid on the doll. They are amazing. You should see these dolls!

There are other fairs like music festivals of country music, jazz, harmonica and the like. There are art fairs where all types of arts are sold and judged. They include jewelry making, painting, sculpture, crafts and the like. I love these fairs. Best place ever to pick up neat unique jewelry!

And of course there’s the county fairs and state fairs. These are always a treat and sooooo big! They include everything from farm animals to largest veggies to prettiest flowers to huge farm equipment that I never see any other time since I live in the burbs.

There is some great eats at these fairs. Best BBQ ever and fried pickles and snow-cones and cotton candy. I just love cotton candy.
The state fairs have some great entertainment from the local high school band to big name performers. How neat is that.

So what about you? Are you a go to the fair kind of person? Have a fave you attend year after year? A food you just can’t wait to eat? A performer you want to see?

Have fun and keep cool out there.

Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On The Banks of the Potomac

by Maggie Sefton



                                                                                                                              Since we're in the middle of Presidential Campaign Season, right in between the Republican party and the Democratic party nominating conventions, I thought I'd give you folks a break and show you another side of my old hometown---Washington, D.C.  


These photos show an area I always enjoyed wandering through---Georgetown---which is  directly across the Potomac River via the Francis Scott Key bridge from Arlington, Virginia.  This small area
of beautifully preserved town houses and parks is not very big, but it has been a highly desirable location for decades, especially for the "powerful and politically connected."



This is one of the historic old canal boats that are pulled along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal by mule, even today.  The C&O Canal runs along the bottom of Georgetown and parallel to the Potomac River.   Needless to say, tourists love it.   And so do the locals, myself included.         


I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, literally a stone's throw across the Potomac from Washington.  We actually went shopping at the wonderful huge department stores there.  So, D.C. was  literally "downtown" in those days.


Now, with the massive population growth in the Northern Virginia/D.C./Suburban Maryland areas, there are huge shopping complexes all over the area.  Consequently, most families don't go into Washington to do their shopping anymore.  And with the appearance of marvelous concert and performance sites such as Wolf Trap Farm in Vienna in Northern Virginia, people don't have to go into Washington to the Kennedy Center and the National Theatre to attend great concerts, opera, and theatre.

I still remember going to wonderful twilight and evening orchestral concerts on the banks of the Potomac beside the Lincoln Memorial and listening to the U.S. Marine Corps, or the Army, or the Navy Bands.  Wonderful.   And, believe me, the Kennedy Center on the banks of the Potomac is a beautiful performance site.  All lit up on a summer night, it shines across the river like a lantern.  


In a couple of weeks on Saturday, August 6th on our Cozy Chicks Blog,  I'll be Spotlighting my political suspense mystery DEADLY POLITICS, which is set in Georgetown.  Meanwhile, I thought you folks would enjoy the photos and forget about real life politicians for a while.  :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

FEELING DOWN? TRY WALKING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

By Mary Kennedy                              
                                                                           

Science has caught up with something we all know--taking a brisk walk outdoors can lift our spirits, increase our energy and lift a blue mood. In Japan, they call it "forest therapy," and scientists noticed that spending time in nature can mean significant improvements in both mental and physical health.

And you don't have to travel to the west coast to see giant sequoias or to Savannah to see Banyan trees, you can rely on your own backyard, or even the view from your window. I had sliders put on three sides of my screened in porch, and the cats and I enjoy the view. I feel like we can enjoy nature 365 days a year this way. 

                                                                                  

There's something energizing about staring the day with a cup of coffee (and a blank computer screen), as I think about the next scene I'm going to write or the next plot point I need to develop.


We let the backyard go natural, it's too shady to really do anything else with it. It's still pretty and the cats find the woodland birds and critters entertaining as everyone scrambles to their feeding stations.

Recent studies have linked nature to symptom relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, anxiety, cancer and addictive problems. A walk in the woods has been shown to reduce "ruminating" (a sign of depression, when one broods endlessly about a dismal topic) and it increases attention, alertness and creativity.

A desert landscape can be just as inspiring as a woodland one. Here is a photo I took at the Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert. I participated in a "sunrise" walk every morning and enjoyed the palm trees, the mountains, the soft desert air.
                                                                           
                                                                                

A man-made lake (with ducks!) added a lovely water view that we enjoyed from the deck of the villa at the left. 
                                                                               

Water views seem to be especially relaxing; here's a photo I took from the dock at the lake house.

There are so many benefits to spending time outside. It can lower your blood pressure, for example,and some studies show that visiting "greenspace" is vital for heart health. Some researchers believe that the lack of air pollution is one factor, but they also think that stress relief figures into the picture.

In any case, whether you spend time hiking in the forest, kayaking along a lake, admiring a desert view or strolling along the ocean, you're doing something good for yourself.
                                                                            
                                                                          

This is the view from the Ft. Lauderdale condo, one of my favorite places to unwind. One thing the scientists noted is that you need to be in a calm place without pollution to get the full benefit of walking outdoors.  Even though I love New York, walking on a crowded Manhattan street just doesn't give you the same boost in mental and physical health.

So lace up your sneakers and hit the beach, the sand, or a desert trail!

Mary Kennedy

Friday, July 22, 2016

I'm oh, so desirable!

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

This week marks the 25th anniversary of me becoming a married lady. Who'da thunk it.  (Not that we lasted 25 years, but that we ever got married at all! Okay, I did have to tell Mr. L after five years of dating: "Poop or get off the pot!")  And here we are two-and-a-half decades later.  (Okay, actually, this picture was two-and-a-half decades ago!)

So, isn't it surprising that I would get so many gentleman sending me friend requests on Facebook? Oh, and not only are the majority of them widowers, but they're often Majors or GENERALS in the US Army. Additionally, many others are from foreign countries. Places like the Philippines, Croatia, France, South Africa, and just about everywhere in between.  And not only am I popular on Facebook, but loads of military and other men follow me (and Lorna) on Google+, too.

Of course, I label all these requests as SPAM and funny enough, often when I go to block them, I find their profiles have already been deleted by Facebook. Imagine that.

I don't fall for Internet scams. I never open links from people I don't know, and I always look at the return email address from people that purport to be a friend or even a reader.  Usually you'll find a return email address that looks like this:  SallySmith@justahoax.com (instead of a mainstream provider like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail).

Often people will tell me: "Lorraine (or Lorna, or L.L.) you've been HACKED!  I just got an email from you that looks suspicious."  They'll forward a copy of the offending email and it usually says LorraineBarlett@somesuchphonyemailsite.  Did you notice my last name was even spelled correctly?

I've had the same email address since I went online over twenty years ago, and it's pretty mainstream. (Of course, I also have email addresses that I use for fan mail, etc.)

So, the fact is ... I'm no Jessica Rabbit, and those men wanting to be my friend are all phishing.

What phishing scams have you encountered?

==============================================

P.S.  Don't forget, the 7th Jeff Resnick Mystery, SHATTERED SPIRITS, comes out on Monday.  For more info, check out my website. 






Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yikes! What do I pack for this?




We are getting ready for a trip to Newfoundland, Canada’s island province to the east.  By the way, the province has been on MJ’s bucket list for several years.  We're combing through our guidebooks now.





 We’ll be doing the spectacular Gros Morne National Park, a world heritage site and a great place for walking and hiking.  Then we’ll head east and north to Iceberg Ally and L’anse aux meadows, a National Historic Site that houses remains of an eleventh century Viking settlement.  Pity those adventurous Europeans arriving on this desolate strip a thousand years ago.  Next we’ll be on to the charming seaside village of Twillingate, followed by a side trip to the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, the last remnant of the French Empire in North America, a mere sixteen miles from Newfoundland.  We’ll finish up in St. John’s a city that is always lively.


 We can't wait for our busy two weeks.  The issue is what to pack. 

So far I have my new “light” hikers on sale at 60 % off (still to be broken in) and heavy socks for the trails of Gros Morne.



 I think I’ll bring a good supply of ‘blister-fixers’ too. 



Then maybe light down jacket, hat and gloves in case it’s nippy in Iceberg Alley (although the icebergs will probably be gone in August) or on our boat trip in Gros Morne,  casual jeans and sandals for wandering around the charming fishing villages on the coast. We'll need waterproof jackets and warm fleeces, but also shorts and light tops. That won’t leave much room for anything to get dressed up in, but there will be a lightweight and wrinkleproof scarf and earrings for going out to dinner in St. John’s, where the food is fabulous and the city is lively and entertaining.


And of course, a couple of guidebooks. We love the one above!

We can’t forget our passports and we'll have to arrange for some euros for food and transportation on St. Pierre and Miquelon!  After all we’ll be in Europe and our dollar’s no good there.


Don’t worry, I won’t leave my books at home.  I also won’t forget to take some pictures to share. As you can imagine, I’ll talk about this trip afterwards too! 


Here are a couple of questions for you:  What places are on your bucket list? Or are there any?  Is there anything else you think we should bring? I hope our comment system is working today, but if not, and if you’re on Facebook, you can let us know there.

And here's an announcement: If you got our newsletter and can't figure out where the link is for the contest question, we apologize.  Our link vanished somewhere between draft and finished product.  You can ANSWER HERE

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

You want me to do what??


It’s politics in spades time of year. I don’t care who you are for or against but the one thing all political parties have in common are speeches! Lots and lots and lots of speeches. Some good, some bad, most forgotten.

But the thing that strikes me most is...how do they do it? How can the candidates and their supporters get up in front of crowds and TV camera and give a speech?

I remember reading a poll that was taken that says in things feared that death ranked third. What was first? You guessed it, giving a speech. That of course means that people would rather die than give a speech.

I can relate!

I’m okay if it’s a speech on writing because I’ve been writing for twenty-five years and I have lots to say about writing but give me any other subject and I’m toast.

And that’s not the only thing I’m afraid of. For me it’s heights! I think it came from when my kids were little and we’d go hiking they’d get so close to the edge of a cliff and scare the bejeebers out of me. They still do it!

Fact is on our last trip out west my middle daughter was so close to the edge of a two-thousand-foot cliff to get this picture I had to walk away. She scares me to death. See that little dot in the water? That’s a boat. It gives you an idea just how big this river is and how high we were.


Another thing that scares the poop out of me are bugs. Outside is okay but a thousand-legger on the wall at midnight totally freaks me out!



So what about you? What is something that scares the heck out of you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Readers, Readers, Readers

by Maggie Sefton

                                                                                                                             
I just returned yesterday from a hectic yet wonderful RWA writing conference in
San Diego that took place last Wednesday through Sunday.  Nearly 3000 attendees.  And a huge booksigning Wednesday evening with over 400 authors signing and all proceeds going to local literacy organizations.  So, I'm going to post several photos from the conference which was filled with novelists and voracious readers.


                               


We were at the Marriott Marquis at the San Diego Marina.  Skycrapers-----









And a really busy marina-------                                                                                  








         














Above left---That's multi-published and USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins pictured on the screen.  You'll notice an attendee taking notes on her laptop.









Monday, July 18, 2016

SUMMER CHILI!

by Mary Kennedy                                                    

Yes, I know we think of chili as a warm weather dish, but I've fallen in love with this light summer version. With sun-dried tomatoes and white beans, it's the perfect veggie dinner. A nice salad, some French bread and you've got a meal.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 red onion, you can use a small vidalia onion if you prefer
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 green bell pepper
3 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans
2 tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh parsley

Directions

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, place in a bowl, cover with hot water and set aside.

Roughly chop the onion and finely chop the garlic.Heat oil in heavy saucepan and saute onion, garlic and chili powder for 5 minutes. Dice the green pepper, add to onion mixture, cook an additional 5 minutes.

Drain and rinse the beans. Roughly chop the tomatoes.. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Add tomatoes, sun-died tomatoes and reserved liquid and beans to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and parsley. Serves 4.-6

Bon appetit!

Mary Kennedy


Friday, July 15, 2016

Video Book Trailers

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

Let's play focus group. The subject today is video book trailers.

The Cozy Chicks have a page with our videos.  You can find it here.

I'm very happy with my video trailer for Happy Holidays.  (Hey, think Christmas in July.)  I ran out of time to do one for Title Wave, so it's not as interesting.

I'm trying to decide if I should do one for my Jeff Resnick book, SHATTERED SPIRITS, which comes out on July 25th. I've got the script, but I haven't had time to find all the pictures.

So my questions for you are:

A)  Do you Like Them

B)  Would they help persuade you to buy a book?







P.S.  We seem to be having a problem with comments.  : (

If you can't leave one here, feel free to leave them on Facebook -- I'll be posting a link to this post on our Cozy Chicks Group Page and on our Author Page.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

When the living is easy!

By Mary Jane Maffini aka Victoria Abbott



Summertime!  I love every hot and sticky minute of it.  Some of the things I love best are just memories of spending summers at the family  log cabin on the Restigouche River in Quebec. We snootily called it ‘The Lodge’. It left me with a love of water, sunsets and playing outside.  It left me with memories of only good times, all the time.  I don't remember the times we were bratty until I look at some of the pix!  Oops.

All the fish belong to me. It's a rule.


 Never mind, we Canadians may have long and brutal winters (you have heard us complain) and slooooow springs, but our summers can really pay off.

So it makes me very happy to see yet another generation learning to enjoy swimming in lakes,



exploring evergreen woods and climbing the rocky outcrops called The Canadian Shield. Geologically interesting and perfect for picnics.






And naturally, they need to learn to fish.



 This is what happy memories are made of.  Let's hope there's still plenty of  unpaved places for their children and their children's place.





What’s special about summer for you and yours?  Do you hide indoors?  Do you like urban or suburban fun?   Or head for wide open spaces?  Let us know!  

And remember, if you’re reading up a storm this summer, The Christie Curse e-book is STILL on for $1.99 for a limited time. 
 
Here's one link!


Have fun in the sun, everyone.