Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Day Turkey or Something Else?

by Karen Rose Smith

Thanksgiving has come to mean something different than it used to as I grow older.  When I was a child, my mom’s side of the family would gather at my grandparents’s house. It was a row house in York, Pennsylvania, and my grandfather, who was a barber had his shop in the front. There was a door into the shop with a tall barber pole beside it and a separate door into the house.  Through that door my aunts and uncles and cousins would pour in from Yonkers, NY, Levittown, NJ, and Reading, PA.  My grandmother’s table took up most of the kitchen. This was the gathering place in the house rather than the living room on the second floor. 

Everyone came early to help prepare the meal, though my mom and grandma did most of the cooking.  We’d have turkey with all the trimmings, wine, cannoli my grandma made herself, and pumpkin pie. Sometimes there would be a rum cream cake, another traditional Italian dessert. Other Italian families lived around the area, mere blocks away, and had witnessed my aunts and uncles growing up.  

My mom took over preparing Thanksgiving dinner in my grandma’s later years. Even though my husband and I only lived an hour away, we’d often stay overnight or spend a weekend there to give my mom a hand.  In time, I took over Thanksgiving dinner and my mom would join us at our house along with some of my husband’s relatives.

Since our son moved across the country, our celebration of Thanksgiving has changed. Last year my husband and I had dinner with a grade school friend and her husband at our favorite diner in York and then we went Christmas shopping.  This year, we’re flying across country on Thanksgiving day.  After we arrive, we’ll put a ham in the oven and enjoy a late dinner.  I won’t miss the turkey at all because we’ll be with our son...and our grand kitties. 

Do you eat turkey on Thanksgiving? 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Center of it All

Hi, Everyone, Duffy Brown here. Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever. We all get together and the only drama is who makes the best dressing and don’t burn the house down if you deep-fry

the turkey.

All week and more I’ve been talking Thanksgiving dinner over on FB. How to fix the turkey, what kind of dressing, who makes the best veggies or do you just carb it up and forget the veggies for one day. And of course the pie.

But what about the table itself? Do you have special holiday dishes? A special centerpiece. Maybe something handed down through generations or that used to belong to your mom that you set on the table?

Here are a few really simple centerpieces if you have time. Go out in the yard and find some pinecones and greenery and that works good too plus it’s from your own house making it more special.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving.

Hugs and hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Back to Hometown Northern Virginia

by Maggie Sefton

Well, I'm traveling again, as you Cozy Chicks Blog readers and fans may have already guessed.  This week is Thanksgiving week, and I'm back in Northern Virginia to spend the week with my childhood friends Diane and her husband Les who live in Vienna, Virginia.  I actually arrived over a week ago for daughter Maria's wedding gown fitting and a Bachelorette party which was great fun in a great restaurant at the new National Harbor area of Washington, D.C.

I've already posted about Maria's beautiful gown and the gathering family, so today I'm going to post some entirely different things----dogs.  Photos of the two doggies who rule the roost at daughter Christine and her family's home in Vienna.  Wrigley, a large Rottweiler, and Grayson, a beautiful light grey Pit Bull/Rottweiler mix.  Both these large dogs are sweeties.  Loving and affectionate, but since they're both large-----they play is more rough house than not.

Meanwhile, my two doggies, Blue Tick Hound/Black Lab mix Max and Border Collie/Black Lab mix Katy, are back at the "doggie ranch" outside Fort Collins, Colorado, and both are having their usual great time.  Tammie, the doggie ranch owner only takes doggies who know each other and play really well outside of cages and romp around the large enclosed areas she keeps for them with balls and lots of play and running room.

Today, I'll post one of my favorite photos of Wrigley and Grayson.  Both are quietly asleep on a small sofa.

Monday, November 20, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                                     

1. I'm a real-life psychologist in private practice in the northeast.  (No, not a cat psychologist, but the picture was so cute, I had to post it.)

2. I once worked as a copywriter at a wild and wacky radio station in Nashville. The station had been a country music station for years but turned to rock the year I joined. The stories I could tell (if only!) I met all sorts of celebs from "Colonel" Tom Parker (he was Elvis's manager, remember?) to Roy Clark (hysterically funny and kind) to Dolly Parton (also a sweetheart, warm and generous) to some big-name DJ's who did outrageous things on and off the air. Sadly, my lips are probably sealed on their exploits. I had my own weather report (Wendy the Weather Girl) for about a week, and then management decided I needed to get my fingers back on the keys, churning out ads for 90 (!) accounts.  I learned to write fast (no excuses, no waiting for inspiration) which was probably good training for being a novelist.                                         

3. I wrote over 35 middle grade and young adult novels for Scholastic before turning to mysteries. I won a $6,000 grant and award from the National Endowment of the Arts for one of my Penguin YA's (MOVIE STAR) and you can find some of my middle grade novels and YA's on my website. At the moment, they're available as e-books.

4. I love all things Florida and go to Ft. Lauderdale every February. Oceanfront condo, a quiet section of beach. It's the perfect time to clear my head and plot new mysteries. Here's a photo I took from the balcony.

I set my Talk Radio Mysteries in a fictional town in south Florida called Cypress Grove. The first title is DEAD AIR.  It combines talk radio, mystery and psychology. "Dr. Maggie" is a psychologist turned radio talk show host who solves a murder in every book. And she works with a zany crew at a station called WYME-Radio. (Yes, I borrowed heavily from my Nashville experiences!)  

5. Here's a wild card, something that I am 100% sure you don't know about me. Next to Florida, I love Paris (or maybe I love Paris first, it's a toss-up). What was my greatest faux-pas in the City of Light? I ordered something that sounded exotic and interesting on the menu of a cute little French restaurant. Pied De Veau.

Hmm. It has a ring to it, doesn't it. But this is what it was. VEAL FOOT! It was hardly disguised and it had--I kid you not--toenails!! Very high on the ewww factor. Luckily there was a deserving dog under the table and I quickly placed the plate in front of him. I could hear him "crunching" all through dinner.


So now you know some of my secrets. I think next week I'll do a blog on funny and outrageous things people have said to me. Stay tuned! And have a happy T-Day.

Mary Kennedy

Friday, November 17, 2017

Uh-oh. The holiday music starts seeping in

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

I admit it, I'm a sucker for the holidays. This year, I wasn't going to start listening to holiday music until the 18th (Hey, that's tomorrow!) That's the day of my first of two holiday craft shows where I sign books. This one is my favorite. I like the location, I always see a flood of people who zero in on my area just to find me!!!  (That doesn't happen ever in "real life.") They're looking for the latest book, and this year it's the paperback edition of Title Wave. (For some reason, nobody wants to buy the hardcover of the current book. They say, "I'll get it next year when it's in paperback.")

But (as usual) I digress. By the time I get home tomorrow, I'll be pooped, but ready to play Christmas music. Except ... it won't be for the first time this season. I kind of snuck it in last weekend during happy hour. Mr. L asked, "Will we get to hear 'regular' music before New Year's?" Um. Sure. Except ... once Thanksgiving comes, the gloves come off and it's holiday music all day long.  (Maybe I should just buy him a pair of earplugs.)

On a Facebook post, I mentioned a CD I'd gotten at a yard sale back in August, and my friend Liz suggested another album by the artist. I Googled it and it's uploaded on YouTube. The entire album. Wow. It turns out, I didn't care for it much, and was glad I hadn't spent $12 on it unheard. But I just left it on and more music played for the rest of the day. Wow. Good to know. So the other day, I was on Youtube and I typed "instrumental Christmas music" in the search box. Holy smoke! There's a huge cache of seasonal music there just asking to be clicked on. And since it's on autoplay, it plays all day long in the background. (I do have it on quietly so it won't "bother" Mr. L.)

They usually have something interesting to look at, too. Like a Christmas tree, a roaring (crackling) fire in the background with a cozy room and a big mug of cocoa in a pretty seasonal mug, or snow falling. I love it!

Tomorrow I will take my MP3 player and speaker and listen to holiday music while at the craft show, which helps the day go faster and puts people in a holiday mood. (The other vendors around me like it, too!)

So, when do you break out the holiday music?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

House Beautiful or House With Kittens

by Karen Rose Smith

When we adopted two rescue kittens this summer--Zander and Freya, we thought we knew what we were in for.  A few years ago, we had taken in a pregnant feline, nursed her through pregnancy and found fur-ever homes for two of her three kittens and we kept one along with her.  However, every kitten has a unique personality.

Thank goodness we don't have an open concept house.  We have rooms with doors where we can corral kittens for a day or night or even weeks.  We have six inside felines now and one of them, our senior London who is blind, has to be separated from the rest. 

When we brought the kittens home, they were only a pound.  We decided on two so they'd have each other to play and keep company with.  I kept them in an upstairs bedroom for two weeks.  The first week I spent each day with them so they'd bond with me.  My husband stayed there at night.  After two weeks, we allowed them downstairs in one room so they could get the lay of the land.  But as soon as Zander was able to climb a tall screen, we extended their daytime area to the downstairs, though at night, they still stayed in the upstairs bedroom.

Now they have full run of the house most of the time, barring closed doors to feed separately or to give older cats a respite at night.  Kittens run EVERYWHERE.  They play with EVERYTHING.  Two can get into more trouble than one.

We decided long ago that we'd do our best to train the cats to scratch on scratching posts and learn the word "no."  But kittens and cats will be who they are.  It's either House Beautiful or a House With Kittens. Kittens and even adult felines who play result in turned up throw rugs, pillows flying to the floor, toys--here, there and everywhere.  But that is also the joy of having kittens in the house to make us smile, laugh, and saw "Awwww" several times a day.

Kittens or a pristine house?  I choose kittens. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Foreign or out much to be thankful for and when you get to my age you realize just how lucky you are. I honestly think that I am probably in the 1% happiest people alive.

When I travel abroad friends ask me, Aren’t you afraid? Look at the world! You can’t possibly really think about going to London? Greece? Are you out of your mind!

Big airports are a target, crowds are a target, with all the unrest anything can blow up.
I’m not making this up, so many of my friends when I ask are you planning a trip and they say, Just not outside US.

I always say, Hey, If I get blown to smithereens somewhere just think what a great story it would make.  “Nana, wasn’t she the one who bit the big one on her way to ride camels in Egypt and visit the pyramids?”

I know that’s a little flippant but I’m a woman on my own, no one depends on me so my life is truly my life. Traveling abroad is fantastic. I have a friend, a fellow writer, and the one criteria we use when planning a trip is...they can’t speak our language.

We are after adventure! Granted we travel a lot with Viking Cruises and they take care of so, so much but it is travel outside the US and Mary and I always take extra days to be on out own, a true adventure for sure.

So what about you? I’m sure you have tons and tons to be thankful for. Even if this year was the year from hell in some ways, there is always something, some way, you were blessed.

When my husband died it was truly hell on earth but the thing that I was thankful for was that that death made me and my children
closer still and we NEVER take each other for granted. It drove home in the most profound way that you do not take each other for granted and you must live life to the full.

So after all my ramblings here, my question to you on this Thanksgiving, the most traveled holiday of the year, how likely are you to travel overseas if you had the chance?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's Bridal Gown Time. . . Again

by Maggie Sefton

Cozy Chicks Blog devoted readers and fans will remember, no doubt, all of the bridal gown fittings and photos of daughter Serena's wedding preparations and her beautiful wedding in the Texas Hill Country nearly four years ago.  So, I sincerely hope you folks won't be bored because Mother of the Bride Maggie is at it again.  

This time, the bride is my youngest daughter Maria---the former Naval Officer who served in four Hazardous Duty tours during the ten years she was on active duty.  On the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier for two years in the Persian Gulf and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  On land, in Basra, Iraq and again in Baghdad and also in Afghanistan as well as central command CENTCOM.

Back in 2009, Maria switched from active duty to full-time Defense Department stateside duty, and all of us in the family were quite happy when that shift was made.  During those long years, Maria developed many good friendships with fellow Defense Department co-workers.
And last year, she became engaged to one of these wonderful co-workers, John.  Their wedding will be on December 30th in Washington, D.C.  And, of course, I will have several posts leading up to that event.  :)

But for today, I'm simply going to post several photos of Maria in her beautiful wedding gown which all the family gathered to see during her gown fitting here in Northern Virginia last Friday.  You will see several other family members reflected in the large mirrors, so enjoy trying to figure out who they are.  :)


Allie and Emma who will have a new "Maria Mom" very soon.  :)  

Monday, November 13, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                                       

My own cat, Calpurnia, wants to remind everyone that pet food donations are needed more than ever over the holidays. Animal shelters have had to tighten their belts as the end of the year approaches,. They may have used up their grant money and it's difficult to attract new donors in the midst of holiday festivities. 

There are several easy ways you can donate pet food to needy animals. For example, did you know that many recipients of Meals on Wheels dinners, "save" part of their food for their pet? I was horrified to learn this when I worked with low income seniors. 
 It seemed incredibly sad that they had to go without food to make sure their beloved pet had enough to eat.  I decided to include a "pet food donation" bag when collecting canned goods for holiday meals.                                   
It's easy to do. There are many opportunities to donate food in your town. You can start with local food banks and offer to collect and drop off pet food. You can easily branch out to schools, libraries and community organizations that are already collecting food for the needy.  
When you think of how many people have pets, you will see that your gift will be appreciated. In some cases, it's even vital for the pet to remain in the home and not be turned over to a shelter. 

    Try talking to the manager of your local pet store and see if he or she will give a discount when you explain that you are collecting pet food for a worthy cause.


Pets everywhere will thank you and so will their owners. No pet should have to go hungry, and no low income person should have to give up their beloved pet because they can't afford to feed him.

Make sure this is a happy Thanksgiving for pets everywhere!

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, November 11, 2017

It's Tutu Much

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

You know about Victoria Square thanks to the Victoria Square Mysteries. Artisans Alley takes center stage in those books, but the merchants--and their businesses--are just as intriguing. They all have stories to tell ... and that's what the Life on Victoria Square companion series is all about.

There are at least ten different businesses on Victoria Square in the little village of McKinlay Mill, NY.  Upcoming stories will include the Square's candy store, Sweet Sue's Confectionery, Booth's Jams and Jellies, Sassy Sally's B&B, the Angel Shop, and The Perfect Grape. But this forth story, concerns the new dance studio that is located in the Square's anchor, Artisan's Alley. The title?  "It's Tutu Much."

Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Dana Milton finally opens her own dance studio on Victoria Square and one of her Broadway Babies (age 8) is a classic tyrant. Can Dana teach her students about respect for one another—and when it’s time to stand up for oneself, or is it all tutu much?

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

The other stories in this companion series are (in order): Carving Out A Path, A Basket Full of Bargains, The Broken Teacup. You can find out more information on them on my website, including background information and videos. Just click this link. 

So settle back and really get to know the merchants. Learn about their lives, and how life on Victoria Square affects them. It might just make a profound impression on you, too!

Friday, November 10, 2017

I should be doing something else

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

When a writer has a contract for a book/series, that book/series must comes first.

I'm a hybrid author. That means I write for a traditional publishing house, and for myself. I have (rather vague) plans for what I should be doing in my "down time." I handed in my latest Booktown Mystery last month, and thought I'd be well underway with the next Lotus Bay Mystery. (Well, I have two chapters down and a lot of notes...but that's it so far.)

Instead, I wrote another Life On Victoria Square story. (I'll talk about that tomorrow in my spotlight feature.) Good, now I'll be able to write Lotus Bay (and percolate ideas for the next Jeff Resnick book, which I want to start in January).

But ... then I started thinking about Christmas. My Christmas present to myself is that I get to indulge in writing a Christmas story. Gayle Trent and I have done just that -- YULE BE DEAD, Victoria Square Mysteries #5 -- but that was over the summer and it's sitting in a file up in the Cloud waiting for the final polish, and I'm going to do that next month. But for the past few years, I've let myself write a Christmas story just for the fun of it. And that's what I'm doing now.

I'm writing about characters from my Jeff Resnick Mysteries: Jeff's brother Richard, and his wife Brenda, and their first Christmas together.f It doesn't fit in the series. It doesn't even fit in the companion series, Jeff Resnick's Personal Files. What am I going to do with it?

What I would like to do is have yet another companion series: BRENDA Saves the Day!

Ideally, it would be a series of funny stories. There's just one problem with that. I don't write funny. I can write "amusing," but funny? That's just not my forte. You want funny? Read Mary Kennedy's Talk Radio Mysteries. They're laugh-out-loud funny. 

So what am I going to do with this story? I don't know. I haven't written that much. In fact, I started writing it from Richard's point of view and then decided it wasn't work, so I rewrote what I had from Brenda's POV. I'm not sure where it's going, but I'll have fun along the way, even if it isn't a funny story.

The best part is ... it gets me in a Christmasy mood. Yeah, yeah, we've got six weeks to go, but this is a fat-free indulgence and it makes me happy.

What do you do that makes you happy? (And it doesn't have to be fat-free, either.)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Karen Rose Smith's Romance Developed into a TV Movie!!!

by Karen Rose Smith

I couldn't be more excited.  When my editor at Harlequin told me that Brain Power producers had bought His Country Cinderella to make into a movie, A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, I couldn't believe it.  This was a dream come true.  During my entire twenty-five year career, I have dreamed of seeing my hero and heroine on the screen.  At first we didn't know if the project would go forward.  But then I received the script.

When a book is made into a movie, it's not exactly the same.  My hero and heroine have the same qualities they did in the book--compassion, integrity, and the ability to fall in love.  Jeannette, who is a single mom, has a little girl instead of a little boy.  (I think girls play better!)  Zane is still a country singer.  Several scenes are similar to the book's scenes.  However, this wasn't a holiday book and now it is.  And I love that because Christmas stories have that extra sparkle.

Of course, I googled the actors and actresses and found they had many credits. Greyston Holt is a Canadian actor, known for his role as Ray Prager Jr. in the TV series Durham County, as Emerson Hauser in the Fox series Alcatraz, and as Clayton Danvers in Space series Bitten.  He began playing the guitar in high school.

 Bea Santos is Jeannette, a single mom who acted in Murdoch Mysteries (2008) and Coconut Hero (2015), as well as Stockholm (2018).

Greg Vaughan who plays Billy, Zane's agent, was born in Texas.  He has acted in Malibu Shores, and Beverly Hills 90210.  He has played Dan Gordon on Charmed, as well as Diego on The Young and the Restless, the role of Lucky Spencer on General Hospital, and guest roles on Will and Grace.

Michelle Morgan who plays Zane's agent in the movie, is a favorite actress of mine best known from the Heartland series.

Deanna Carter is a country singer.  She plays Jolene, a good friend to Zane and Jeannette. Her voice brings Christmas magic to the movie.

The movie was shot in beautiful Alberta where the weather even cooperated and snowed at the proper time!

Dreams do come true!!!