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.

Friday, September 8, 2017

WHY I INTENSLY DISLIKE INSTAGRAM

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

I dislike Instagram. A lot. A REAL LOT.

First, I'm not real good about uploading (or downloading, for that matter) stuff with my phone. I don't have one of those BIG iPhones. I have a tiny iPhone 4 with a little screen. (My brother got it for me; $40 used. He was tired of me not being able to figure out my cheap android phone and put me on his family plan.)

But back to Instagram. The easiest way for me to get my posts onto Instagram is with a third-party app called Gramblr. You log into Gramblr and it connects with Instagram via your computer. Except ... when Instagram cuts you off--and they seem to do that a lot.

I've lost most of my accounts.  I had one for each of my author names, and for several groups I belong to, including the Cozy Chicks.

Instagram often wants to make sure it's you and they demand you return to them a code number sent to you either by email or text.  The only problem is THEY RARELY SEND THEM.  I lost six of my accounts because they never sent me the info I need to log back on.

I replaced my LLBartlett account in July because they never got back to me with the code, and now they've blocked that one, too. 

Guess what: THERE IS NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.

There's absolutely NO WAY (unless you're Taylor Swift or someone as influential as her) TO GET YOUR ACCOUNT BACK. There's no recourse. NO NOTHING.

And SURPRISE!  They're owned by Facebook, whose customer service is just about as bad.

So, while it's a nice little app, I think I'm going to dump it.

Have you had this happen to you?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Shopping At Antique Malls

by Karen Rose Smith


I never thought I'd appreciate antiques, but I do.  After my mom died, my husband and I moved her dining room suite to our house.  I had been bringing pieces home little by little but I wanted a whole room where I could recall memories.  That led to bringing home a cedar chest and other furniture.  That's when I became interested in antiques.

I like to decorate and use unique dishware, glassware, vases and cookie jars.  I collect tea pots--which has come in handy for my new series starting in January--Daisy's Tea Garden Cozy Mysteries.  Making tea in those antique pots is comforting on a cold day.  I especially enjoy sharing it with friends.


We have three antique shops here in Hanover, Pennsylvania--Yesteryear Antique Center, The Black Rose Antique Mart and Finders' Keepers.  Finders' Keepers is a consignment shop, the other two are consist of artisans booths.  Yesteryear has a small cafe that serves delicious food.  Twice a year the restaurant sponsors an afternoon tea service there.

When I'm feeling nostalgic or I want to replace glassware or a Corningware Casserole, I stop at one of these shops.  Oldies but Goodies play on the loud speaker in the background as items in booths bring back memories from my childhood and teenage years.















I can get lost in these antique shops and the past as I peruse old books, look for Fenton cats--I collect those--and appreciate the craftsmanship of years gone by.

In my Caprice De Luca Home Staging cozy mystery series, I describe an antique shop in the town of Kismet called Older and Better.  Whenever I need to fill that shop with new merchandise and search for a particular decorating item my sleuth wants to use, I use that as an excuse to visit one of our antique stores and poke into the past.

Do you have antique shops in your area?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Pass the Paint Brush and stand back...

Are you an HGTV addict? Well I am! I just love watching people choose their home, redo their home, or buy and redo their home. The house hunter shows are good but I have to say that the ones like Fixer-upper are my fave.

In case you haven’t seen it, Joanna and Chip Gaines help people buy a house in the Waco, Texas area that’s pretty much a mess then they demo it and fix it up. It’s amazing what they can do with totally ugly houses and I’m addicted to watching it.

The good news is I don’t have cable TV so I don’t get HGTV where the Fixer-upper show is but the bad news is that when I go on vacation and stay at a place that does have cable I’m hooked. Like in that it’s 2:00 AM and I’m still watching!

I love seeing how the wreck of a house turns out totally amazing. A lot of people must like it too as Joanna Gaines now has her own furnishing line of tables, chairs, lighting, lamps, rugs etc.
There are other shows like this on HGTV that transform houses. This Old House on PB has been doing it for years, the Property Brothers again on HGTV redo houses and make them amazing.

All this watching is fine…if that was as far as it went. The real problem is when I watch Chip and Joanna I want to do it too! I take a look around my house and think This place is a dump!
And that’s when the trouble starts.

This last time after binge-watching Fixer-Upper I painted my front door orange made a magnolia wreathe then white-washed the pine three-season room off the back of the house. Painting the front door wasn’t so bad but painting over the pine was something else. Once done it couldn’t be undone! But I have to say it turned out great.

So want about you? Have you ever watched HGTV then tore up the house? Taken on a big redo project? Paint everything in sight? Or am I the only one who’s effected this way?

If you want to comment go to cozy chicks FB page as for some reason I can’t respond on the blog. 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/CozyChicks/


Hugs Duffy


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Movie Time

by Maggie Sefton



Today I thought I'd update you folks on a couple of the biggest of the new hit movies
that have shown up in your local cinema.  These two movies had the biggest attendance this summer, which is always a good thing for moviemakers because they depend on summertime profits from hit movies.  Here are the two biggest:


WONDER WOMAN----This movie is based on the profitable and popular Marvel comic book inventory.  The movie is interesting in that it spends enough time at the beginning on how the character who is known as Wonder Woman came into being.  An unknown and hidden-from-view island inhabited solely by Amazon women.  They are all fantastic fighters and have superior powers.  But the young woman who becomes Wonder Woman feels a need to protect human beings.  Consequently, she leaves the island---knowing she can never return---and joins a soldier from World War I in the fight against the Kaiser's Germany.  Lots of action, folks.  :)  And the story is surprisingly interesting as presented.


DUNKIRK----This movie treats that dramatic and deadly event when British and French soldiers in World War II were stranded on the beaches in France, trying to get across the English Channel to England.  They were completely exposed----sitting ducks.  The German Air Force started bombing them and the larger ships coming to evacuate them.  Those rescue ships sank.  The British Air Force fought off several of the German fighter planes, but the soldiers were still stranded.  Fortunately, British civilians who had boats of all kinds took to the waters and sailed across the Channel, sometimes dodging German fighter planes strafing.  Eventually this huge "Flotilla" of small boats appeared to load up the British and French soldiers who survived so they could safely return to the English Coast.  Most of those soldiers would see a great deal more of the War Zone in the future.   Dramatic action to say the least.  

Have you seen any of these movies?  Let me know on the Cozy Chicks Facebook page in a comment.  The Cozy Chicks Blog comment function is acting up right now.  So, check the CC Facebook page.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Spotlight Saturday: ONLY SKEIN DEEP

by Maggie Sefton



Today I'm spotlighting last June's release of the 15th in the Kelly Flynn
Mysteries-----
ONLY SKEIN DEEP.

Here's a blurb for those of you who aren't familiar with Kelly Flynn and the Gang:


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...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Happy Book Day to Mary Kennedy

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

Don't you hate it when a favorite book series goes on hiatus for a while. (I know many of my Victoria Square fans have felt that way -- and it's on yet another hiatus due to a scheduling problem.  Insert pouty face here.)

To today makes the return of a wonderful series that went on the backburner for a while. It's the Talk Radio Mysteries by the Cozy Chicks own Mary Kennedy, and the new installment is called A DEADLY FUNDRAISER.

Mary's even got a dynamite video book trailer. Why not watch it now?



 Radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh finds herself in the middle of a murder—again! An invitation to a glitzy fundraiser at a south Florida mansion sounds like the perfect evening. Maggie and her pals are digging up clues for a scavenger hunt when a real mystery lands in their laps. Suddenly the party’s over, and the killer is playing for keeps. Will Maggie and her team crack the case?

You can get A DEADLY FUNDRAISER from:

Kindle US
Kindle Worldwide
Nook
iBooks
Kobo


Check out Mary's website to find out about all the other wonderful books she writes.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stewed Tomato Recipe

by Karen Rose Smith



Our tomato plants in our garden are finally producing!  This is late for tomatoes in Pennsylvania.  We've had a wet summer and that could be why.  We have a good crop this year.  I raise heirloom tomatoes from seed (no pesticides) and we never know the quality of the harvest.  I rotate types each year.  I make all types of tomato dishes from Baked Tomatoes that taste like pizza without the bread (the recipe is in my Caprice mystery DEADLY DECOR) to eating them in Blockbusters--Canadian bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and mayo, to a favorite dish that can be eaten cold or hot--stewed tomatoes.  It's a simple recipe that I use with macaroni and cheese, meat dishes, and as a summer cold soup.  The rest of the tomatoes we freeze for the middle of winter.  I use lots of them in soups.


Here is the stewed tomato recipe that works best for me.


STEWED TOMATOES


10 to 12 large fresh tomatoes (about 5 pounds)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons tapioca

Drop tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, then immediately into a pan of cold water. Remove stem and skin as soon as you can handle the tomatoes. Cut into small chunks.

In a large pot, stir together all the ingredients except the tapioca. (You can add oregano or basil or your favorite spice that is a good accompaniment to tomatoes.) Cover and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat and add tapioca.  Simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.  Leftovers can be frozen or the recipe can be halved. 


ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When Pizza isn’t Pizza...IMHO!


I love pizza! My butt and bulging gut says Do Not Do but once in a while what the heck. And I usually order the same thing...pepperoni or if I’m feeling really adventuresome I’ll do sausage and mushroom.

But now my kids say I’m totally boring. Try something new they say. So I looked into the kinds of pizza out there and wow! There are a ton of different kinds.


The newest thing out there is cauliflower crust. I’m serious. Yep cauliflower. It has the same topping but the crust is veggie. I’m a cauliflower lover so this might allow me to eat more pizza. It has to be lower in calories, right?

And we have breakfast pizza. Bacon, sausage, scrambles, cheddar, sprinkle of hash browns.

There’s mac and cheese pizza...like pizza doesn’t have enough calories on its own! And sushi pizza with rice crust, sashimi, scallions, spicy mayo.



And what about a Maltese with potato, tomato, anchovies and olives. The Hawaiian with ham and pineapple, the tuna with corn, red onions and cheddar, the smoked salmon pizza with caviar, red onions and dill, and the baked ziti with mozzarella and ricotta.

So what do you think? 

Are you ready to try some of these? Anyone look particularly good? Or horrid? Or are you back at pepperoni and cheese with me.

Hugs, Duffy