Tuesday, September 26, 2017

ONLY SKEIN DEEP

by Maggie Sefton










In case you missed last June's release of the 15th Kelly Flynn Mystery----check it out:  ONLY SKEIN DEEP.  Available in hardcover until next June.  Last year's Kelly Flynn bestseller:  KNIT TO BE TIED is available in paperback.

Monday, September 25, 2017

FEELING STRESSED? PICK UP A CRAYON!

By Mary Kennedy
                                                            
 If you've been tempted to give adult coloring books a try, go ahead! It's a guilt-free, calorie-free way to relax and indulge your creative instincts at the same time.

The variety of subjects is endless. Animals are popular...
                                                            
 
As well as mandalas...                                                      
                                                         
 
 
And mythical creatures...
 
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
 
* Try to eliminate distractions, such as texting or watching TV.
 
*If you have trouble staying focused on the coloring, start with a limited amount of time and gradually increase it every day. You could begin with five or ten minutes and then add on five minutes a day. (Some people find it so relaxing and so addicting, they can spend an hour or so coloring.) Just do whatever suits you and your lifestyle and your time constraints.
 
* You might want to start with simple, symmetrical designs and work your way up to more complex ones.
 
* Have more than one coloring book and try out different subjects. You want options and novelty.
                                                          
*Don't forget that you don't have to be an artist to enjoy adult coloring. This is one of those times that the process really *is* more important than the product.
 
*Art therapists have been using adult coloring books for years and their value is backed up by years of research. It's only recently that the public has caught on to this simple, pleasant way to relax.
 
* Coloring has known "relaxation" effects.  It slows down your heart rate and respirations, loosens muscles and stimulates the brain. Creative types--artists, writers, musicians--find that they are more productive after a session of coloring.
 
So grab a crayon or colored pencil and have fun!
 
By Mary Kennedy
 
 
 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

SPOTLIGHT ON Dr. MAGGIE WALSH

By Mary Kennedy                              

Writing as Dr. Maggie Walsh

As a psychologist, I should know that life is full of surprises. When I closed up my Manhattan practice and moved to sunny south Florida to host a radio talk show, I took a leap of faith.  It all came about quite by chance. I read an ad posted by the manager of WYME Radio, who was looking for a day time talk show host. I auditioned, got the job and found a really cool "hacienda-style" condo. Luckily, I made a killing on my Manhattan apartment to pay for it!
                                                                          

But I was in for another surprise right off the bat.  One of my first guests, a self-styled guru, was murdered right after he appeared on my show.  And worst of all, my dear roommate Lark was a suspect. So I had to leap in and try to solve the crime, didn’t I? You can read about the guru and his untimely demise in DEAD AIR. You can see the cover above.
Another surprise: I found I had a knack for solving murders!  When my mother (a wanna-be actress) landed a bit part in a film being shot in south Florida, a movie star was killed on the set. Once again, Mom and I, along with my handsome detective boyfriend, Rafe Martino, leapt into action to find the murderer. This happened in REEL MURDER.

When a clever psychic came to town, she developed quite a following and tried to hijack my radio show.  I had to solve the murder and save my job—no easy task.  You can read all about the outcome in STAY TUNED FOR MURDER.
Finally, a glitzy fundraiser at a south Florida mansion sounded like fun. I never expected to stumble over a dead body. Luckily Mom and my producer, Vera Mae, were there to help me look for the killer.         

                                                         

And my trusty dog, Pugsley, has been at my side, every step of the way.  I couldn't do it without him, and he saved my life in one book!



So it’s been a surprising and wonderful journey with many more books to come! Hope you enjoy the Talk Radio series as much as I enjoy writing it.

Bio: Mary Kennedy is a practicing psychologist and the author of the Talk Radio Mysteries and the Dream Club Mysteries. She's written nearly 50 novels, including both mysteries and young adult fiction and has sold over four million books worldwide. Mary lives with her husband and six neurotic cats in the northeast. She has tried unsuccessfully to psychoanalyze both husband and cats, but she remains optimistic.You can visit her at www.marykennedy.net or right here at the Cozy Chicks www.cozychicksblog.com where she blogs every Monday.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Those unfinished carvings

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

My Dad did a lot of crafty stuff. He framed houses, fixed plumbing, put on roofs, did just about any home repair you could think of--and always on a budget. But he also made jewelry, fixed watches and clocks, and he carved. When he passed away almost eight years ago, I had the task of clearing out his workshop, and I was rather surprised at how many carvings were left unfinished. The ones below are some of them. Before my mother passed, I had found a box of "hounds" that were finished except for painting. He had one or two done, so I was able to figure out how to "finish" them off.


The box above held the rest. Or rather, I found them squirreled away all over his workshop and put them in this box. And I decided that painting them would be a nice summer job. Except ... they sat there for a year and nothing happened. I'm a busy person! But earlier this summer I thought I might like to take a crack at them.  The first thing I did was buy some acrylic paint and a yard sale that featured a LOT of craft items (including a bunch of rubber stamps, which I've been happily using all summer). But -- here we are on the first day of summer and I haven't done much more than photograph them for this post. (I did buy some paint brushes, so it's not like I'm not thinking about them.)

Aren't these snowmen cute? Or at least the finished one. But I suspect that  Dad didn't paint the finished one. He had two carving buddies that he met at a class he took at continuing education here in our town. After the lass was over, they met at each other's house. There was Estreter (I spelled that phonically--because I don't know how she actually spelled her name. She may have been Belgium (or maybe from one of the slavic states) and John.

My Dad was in charge of making the blanks, and Estreter was a wiz at painting. Dad's first carvings were rather drab, but once Estreter started pointing out painting techniques, my Dad picked up on it fast. But at least this gives me a guide as to how I should approach painting the one on the left.

 By the look of these bears, I can deduce that once Dad was happy with the carving and the sanding, he put a base coat of white acrylic paint on each carving. I think I have two bottles of white, and it looks like I'm going to need them.  The brown stuff on the bear is saw dust. Wow--that basement was full of saw dust, and so is the both. It makes me want to sneeze when I get near it. I will have to haul my compressor outside so that I can blow all the dust off each piece before I paint it.  Although quite a few of the carvings look like they could use a bit more sanding.  Where's my sandpaper?

As I said, Dad made the blanks. On the right is a finished angel blowing a horn, and the rough cut for the blank. I probably won't do anything with it because A) I am afraid of knives, and B) I don't think I would have any carving talent. Just thought you might like to see how they start out and how they were finished. (He would put brown shoe polish on the finished product to give it some "texturing.")


The top hound above is a blank, and the hound below just needs a little more sanding before it can be painted.  Sanding I can do.



This guy is holding up a canoe. What's with that? The little slab of wood he's standing on? My folks had cedar bushes/trees (whatever) at the side of their yard and one got cut down. Dad chopped it into slices and quite a few of his carving stand on them.  (Smells nice before the polyurethane goes on.)



You can see how the one on the right is pretty much finished, but the one on the left is pretty crude. Dad added the mittened paws and skates, gluing them on. I don't have either, so I can paint the right one, but the left one will never be finished.  : (



These guys (and puppy) are all ready to be painted. Wish me luck!


These guys are interesting. This is the front side.


... turn them upside down and this is the back side. I'm not going to paint them. I don't think I could pull it off and perhaps they weren't meant to be painted anyway.

This bearded guy (Santa?) is from the earliest days my Dad carved. I know because he always dated his carvings, although this one isn't dated--I already have several finished ones that are. I think he'd be happy to join his brothers in one of my curio cabinets.

I think my Dad would be happy to know that I'm going to (at least) try to finish off some of his carvings. I'll never be able to paint them as well as he could, but ... I'm sure going to try.

And my Dad's carving are what inspired me to write the first Life On Victoria Square story, CARVING OUT A PATH. I wrote about it earlier this year. (Click this link.)  I wish my Dad would have read it. I think he might have enjoyed it.  (For more information on that, click this link.)

Do you have some craft projects you want to finish up?




Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Quick Back To School Recipe

by Karen Rose Smith

With kids back in school and schedules hectic, quick meals can satisfy a hungry family. Tuna Cups is one of my favorites that is easy and quick...and tasty too! I included the recipe in my first Caprice De Luca home staging cozy mystery--STAGED TO DEATH.  My sure my sleuth might have given her cat, Sophia, a spare taste of tuna!


Tuna Cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 5 oz. cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
2 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 tbsp pickle relish
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
10 slices of bread


Mix tuna, eggs and celery in bowl with mayonnaise and pickle relish until well-blended.  Press one slice of bread into each cup of a regular-sized muffin tin.  Fill each cup with tuna mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and sprinkle each cup with cheese.  Bake another 7 minutes. 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Never judge a book by its cover... Yeah, right.

We all do. The first thing you look at is the cover. Have you ever bought a book just because you like the cover? I sure have and I’ve put the book back because I didn’t like the cover. Guilty as charged!

So since covers matter and I sincerely think they do, what kind of cover on a book do you like best? Is there something that you see on the cover of a book that makes it an auto buy even before you read the back blurb? Is there something on the cover you see that will make you not buy the book?

I’m not into syfy or fantasy...except for Game of Thrones...so anything that has a dragon or alien or weird creature from out of space is a turn off for me. Ghosts are okay. Not an auto buy but a well written ghost can be a ton of fun, cause a bunch trouble and know things from the past that add to the book. Love Tonya Kappes’s Ghostly books! Tonya does ghosts really well!


If there’s a creepy Victoria house that’s nice. A shack in the woods for me not so much. I don’t like to be scared to pieces and remote shacks sound like where kidnapped people are held. No way!
Anything with kids hurt or missing it out. I’m a mom and this is my worse nightmare. I don’t want to red a nightmare.

I like fun covers. If the book suggests fun and excitement I’m so in! I wanted a coffin sticking out of the back of Walker Boone’s ’57 Chevy red convertible for Lethal in Old Lace. Have Bruce Willis’s...the canine version...head perched over the seat. Trust me, it fits the story and who doesn’t want to ride in a ’57 Chevy dead or
alive with our buddy BW.

This suggests fun and excitement and something a little different and totally Reagan and Auntie KiKi. I do have the new cover for Lethal in Old Lace and will do a big reveal in January. I love the new cover but the Chevy would have been nice too.
So the question is...what on the cover sells you on a book?

Hugs,

Duffy

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

KNIT TO BE TIED

by Maggie Sefton



I wanted to remind Cozy Chicks Blog Readers and Followers that the paperback edition of last year's Kelly Flynn Mystery---KNIT TO BE TIED---was released this past June.



Keeping up with Kelly and the Gang can be hectic, and it's hard to believe that the 15th Kelly Flynn Mystery came out in hardcover this June---ONLY SKEIN DEEP.



I'm awed and amazed at times, Cozy Chicks Blog Readers, and as always, unbelievably grateful for the support of the Kelly Flynn readers, friends and fans.  Thank you, thank you, Readers.  :)  You're the ones who make the Kelly Flynn Mysteries possible.    

Monday, September 18, 2017

SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER--TIME TO MAKE CLAFOUTIS!

By Mary Kennedy                               
 
I realize that depending on where you live, summer may actually *be* over, but I didn't want the season to slip away without sharing one of my favorite recipes. I was lucky enough to live in France and clafoutis was a popular dessert. It's versatile, and you can use whatever fruit you like (or whatever is in season.)  The picture above is of pear clafoutis.
 
Cherry clafoutis is also very popular...
                                                   
 
As well as blueberry...
                                                       
 
When you see how easy it is to make, you'll wonder why you never made this delicious dessert before. Can't you just picture having a nice cup of tea and a slice of clafoutis in mid-afternoon?
 
Here's the recipe for the pear clafoutis. It's one of my favorites!
Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup heavy cream (I use Half and Half)
  • ½ cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
Instructions
  1. Butter a 9.5-inch ceramic tart pan or pie pan
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, cream, butter, and vanilla
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and salt
  4. Whisk dry ingredients into wet until smooth
  5. Arrange pears in a circle on the bottom of tart pan, then pour mixture over pears
  6. Bake at 325° for 45-55 minutes, until clafoutis is set in the center and top is golden
  7. Cool and serve.
The batter will rise up around the fruit. Hope you try this!!
 
Bon appetit!  Mary Kennedy

Friday, September 15, 2017

My little photographic hobby

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

I have always liked photography, even when I couldn't seem to take a picture of a friend with an Instamatic camera without chopping off her head.  (Ooops.)

When I was in high school, my brother bought an SLR camera. Some Japanese model that started with an M but I can't remember what else. He started taking much better pictures of his friends and I decided that when I got my first job, I'd get a good camera, too.

I my first three SLR cameras were Minoltas, and I loved them. I had lots of lenses, but I've always preferred to take pictures in available light. I took a lot of black-and-white photos in the 90s because I had access to a darkroom and two professional photographers as mentors, although mostly they just taught me printing techniques (something I do today with Photoshop or Gimp2). But now I'm into digital photography.

I always wanted a Nikon, but when I went to buy one, the guy at the counter convinced me to get a Canon. I'm currently on my 2nd Canon EOS Rebel (T3i). Um... the previous one (only about 3 years old) I dropped on a ceramic tile floor, on the day we were fleeing New York City the day Hurricane Sandy hit. (Writers conference.) That was a bad day. : (

Nowadays, I mostly take pictures of my yard sale finds to entertain my Facebook Group Page members. I bought a tabletop Cowboy Studio a few years ago for just that purpose, but it got stuck in a closet and I forgot about it until last week. What a fun toy!  I comes with all kinds of wonderful things like 4 different
colored backdrops (white, black, red, blue), a tabletop camera stand, and dual lights. In it makes my shots look pretty professional, if I say so myself.

So far I've only used it once, for some wonderful Syracuse china teacups  (and a couple of other things) I got at a yard sale, and I was very happy with the results.  It's just that it takes up a lot of room on a table. But I have plans to clear a space in my basement workroom to set up the "studio" and leave it up.

I think my little Cowboy Studio and I are going to have lots of fun in the future.


P.S. Don't you just love the three variations of this china pattern? And I found out there' a fourth! I got a box lot of seven cups and eleven saucers for only $3. What a deal! They're heavy, restaurant china and the pattern is named after the former governor of NY called DeWitt Clinton, who was the father of the Erie Canal. Pretty nifty, huh?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hummingbirds

by Karen Rose Smith


I became interested in the beauty of hummingbirds a few years ago after my husband made our patio a garden haven.  He and a friend laid pavers and I planted flowers around it.  I knew zinnias were hardy and easy to grow so I concentrated on those.  We also planted roses.  To my surprise, mid summer, we began seeing hummingbirds around the zinnias and Rose of Sharon bushes.


The following year I did some research on the flowers that hummingbirds like best and I added hummingbird mint, cone flowers, petunias and phlox.  I also hung two hummingbird feeders in the shade of the deck.  The syrup spoils too quickly in the sun.  I boiled new hummingbird syrup every 4-5 days to keep it fresh.







I hang the hummingbird feeders at the end of April or beginning of May.  Even when the gardens are in full bloom, the hummingbirds come to drink at them.  These photos were taken mostly in the evening when I was sitting on the patio.  I could hear the flutter of hummingbirds' wings as a signal that they were nearby and I had my camera ready.

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures.


In the summer I usually wear long colorful tunics on the patio.  From the beginning of summer to its end, the hummingbirds become more familiar with me.  I talk to them.  And by summer's end, they circle closer to me if I'm in the garden or on the patio.

I treat the hummingbirds in a similar way I treat feral cats.  Patience, soft tones, watchfulness and more patience draw them closer.  By the end of summer, I miss them when they leave.  I'm always hopeful that I will be on their trail for nourishment the following year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What the heck just happened?

With all natural disasters going on around the US I was wondering if any of you have lived though one. Hurricane? Flooding? Tornado?

I’m here in Cincy, not exactly tornado alley but we do get out share of tornados and with being on the Ohio River we get floods. I’m out in the burbs and not on the river but the tornado thing hit pretty close. They didn’t call it a tornado but it sure was something.

We lost power for three days, branches were down and trees. I was at an amusement park when it struck. A totally black wall of clouds came across the sky like a curtain being closed. Winds picked up and started to whip around. Not just blow. I headed for my car and when I opened the door my back window shattered because of the change in air pressure. I drove home with rain pouring in the back and dodged trees and limbs on the expressway.

The power lines were down at my house due to fallen limps. The good thing is that I happen to live next to an electrician and in the pouring rain he and his brother took care of my lines.

I had LED lighting and I have a gas stove so I could cook. Gas hot water so I even had water. I lost stuff in my freezer but noting of great consequence. It was a great excuse to plow through a gallon of Rocky Road.

I did learn something. I now have a bug-out bag with money and dry clothes if things get ugly again. I keep it next to two cat carriers and a wagon I can pull the little darlings in. No cats left behind!!! I have disaster food and water for me and the furbabies stashed in an area so we can survive for a week on our own.



So what about you? Have you lived through any natural disasters? What was it like? Did you move? Do you have a bug-out bag? Keep water and food on hand in case things go right to hell in a hand-basket?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Here We Go Again---Hurricane Irma in Florida

by Maggie Sefton


The Betsy Ross Hotel in South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, long before any of the latest hurricane damage.  This was a  favorite years ago for my family.  Right there on Ocean Drive, looking right out at the ocean.  Beautiful.      



Wow. . .this is shaping up to be a really active and destructive Hurricane Season this Fall.  I don't have any relatives in Florida, but I have close friends who choose to live between Northern Virginia and Florida.  Of course, they are wondering how their houses and property faired in this latest round with Hurricane Irma.  And, yes, there is a Hurricane Jose, but it looks like that one will stay in the Caribbean.  We'll see.  I do not trust the good intentions of tropical storms.  They are unpredictable as all get out.  As well as being destructive.




Yesterday was also September 11th---as I'm sure all of you are aware.  It is and should be a time of reflection of events in our country that have happened in the past and, possibly, things that are awaiting us in the future.  It is a good time for all of us to pay attention to our families and--to all of you in the states threatened by high winds, torrential rain, and storm surge flooding---please stay safe.    

Monday, September 11, 2017

THE CHEF'S REVENGE: BAD RESTAURANT MEALS

by Mary Kennedy
                                                  

Usually I love chefs! I'm a big fan of Gordon Ramsey and "Roland," the chef in the British TV show, Whites. And I like Anthony Bourdain (except when he goes on a rant against vegetarians).

So I hate to badmouth chefs. They have a tough job to do and they're not usually big stars with big paychecks like Ramsey, Emeril and Mario Batali.

But lately, I've had a few "revenge" dishes served to me. It was darn annoying as I paid good money for the food and what I was served was a slap in the face. (or maybe I mean a slap in the palate, whatever!)

Case in point. Some chefs seem to take it as a personal insult if you request a vegetarian dish. I spent big bucks to attend a psychology conference in Philadelphia at a major hotel. The conferences was devoted to "eating disorders," (a nice bit of irony) and when I asked the waitress for the "vegetarian option" at lunch, she looked surprised. And flustered.
                                                      

She told me she didn't know the hotel "had" a vegetarian option for the conference luncheon and I told her that indeed they did. I had filled out the request form when I paid my hefty conference fee.                                           

She was gone a LONG time in the kitchen and I realized that two of my tablemates were also vegetarian. We watched hungrily as everyone tucked into the roll basket, and I had to restrain myself. I wanted to take two! And if I'd known what was coming, I would have.
                                                  


About fifteen minutes later, the waitress returned with three dishes of iceberg lettuce. One for me and each of my vegetarian tablemates.
                                                        


Seriously? Iceberg lettuce. Glancing at my watch (our lunch time was already half over) I insisted that she bring us the "vegetarian" option and this time she told me that this *was* the vegetarian option. And she said it with a straight face!

There was no dressing, no croutons, no slices of tomatoes or cukes...nothing but a dish of hearty iceberg lettuce. Probably fine if we were rabbits.

I did write to the conference chair (who never bothered replying to me.)
                                                          
Another place that dissed vegetarians was a nice little waterfront place in Northeast, Maryland. My sister-in-law was visiting from the UK and we went there for lunch.
                                                           

 There was nothing on the menu that didn't have four legs, or claws or fins. Nothing!! This waitress was much more pleasant than the one at the psychology conference and was apologetic. She said she was vegetarian and she'd pleaded with the chef to include a vegetarian option but he refused. She reluctantly (very reluctantly) said she "supposed" he could make us each a grilled cheese sandwich.

This didn't bode well, but we ordered the grilled cheese anyway. This is what we got. He cremated it! And charged us $10.00 each. I said to the waitress, (who was all set to scamper away), "You know this is burned, right?" She nodded, muttered she was "sorry," and scooted off.

                                                        
 
Will I go back to that place again? Never! Even though it was pleasant to sit and watch the water and the boats come in. Whatever ever happened to the notion of "customer service?"
 
Have you ever been served a lousy meal in a restaurant? Did you send it back, what did you do?
 
By Mary Kennedy.