Sunday, February 26, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                                   
Here's a work-related embarrassing moment. I still remember my cheeks turning tomato-red when I think about it. Like many things in life, it's only funny in "hindsight."
By the way, if you're a fan of embarrassing moments, you might want to check out my earlier blog on this subject. 
Now, on to a cringe-making moment. I was working at an outpatient mental health unit at a busy inner-city hospital, doing evaluations and running "groups." One group--my favorite--was the Phobia Group.
It's important to screen people carefully for inclusion in a therapy group. Some people just aren't ready to "share" with other clients and they do better in individual therapy. And some people have such serious psychiatric issues, or drug and alcohol issues, that they are better served in specialized groups as well.
So I had a long checklist of questions for anyone requesting entry into the hospital phobia group. I was required to go through the list, even though the questions might seem annoying or even a bit intrusive.
A pleasant looking woman in her forties approached me as I was scanning some charts into the computer. "I had a four-thirty appointment with you," she said timidly. "But the buses were running late."
"No problem," I told her. "Let's just get some paperwork out of the way." She dutifully handed over the insurance card and photo ID which I copied.  "Now, I'm going to ask you a series of questions. Some of them seem a bit personal, but please just answer them as honestly as you can."
"Okay." She looked nervous and her eyebrows inched up.
"Can you tell me about any drug or alcohol history," I asked pleasantly.
"Drug and--what? Of course not," she said indignantly. "What kind of question is that! I don't even smoke."
"That's good to know," I said, putting on my most reassuring voice. "But I had to ask. The hospital requires it." I shuffled some papers. "Now, can you tell me if you've ever had an anxiety or panic attack, and can you describe it for me?"
Uh-oh. She looked like she was seething. "I don't get panic attacks!" she said, her voice inching up an octave.
"Now, it's nothing to get concerned about," I said, trying to be reassuring. "And certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Anxiety and panic often go along with phobias. Most of our clients have experienced them."
"Well, they must all be head cases!" she said forcefully. She began to look around the room, as if searching for an exit. "Why are you treating me like a head case?"
"But I'm not," I protested weakly. "Just a few more questions. Please," I added when her lips tightened into a thin line. She nodded her head and I took a deep breath. "Have you ever experienced PTSD?"
"I don't even know what that is," she snapped.  She glanced at her watch, I was sure she was ready to bolt. "And I have to catch my bus in twenty minutes."
I could see I was losing control of the interview. "PTSD," I told her, "is often brought about by a traumatic event. For example, you might have had some sexual trauma in your life..."
"Sexual trauma?" She shook her head vehemently. "Never!"
"Or domestic abuse, emotional abuse..."
She half-rose from her chair. "Is it really necessary to ask me these questions?" she asked in an angry tone.
"If you want me to help you, it is," I said calmly. "Please sit back down and we'll get through this more quickly."
"I just don't see what this has to do with getting a flu shot," she said angrily.
I stopped, pen poised. "A flu shot?" I was flummoxed.
If this was a cartoon, a light bulb would go off over my head. "You're not here for the Phobia group?"
"I'm here for the free flu shot." She dug into a voluminous purse and dragged out a scrap of paper. "Room 41, fourth floor," she said, jabbing the paper with her fingers. I couldn't help but notice her fingers were stained with nicotine. So much for the "I don't smoke" claim.
"This is the fifth floor," I told her. "You can take the elevator or the stairwell is right outside. The flu vaccine clinic is the first door on the right as you step off the elevator."
"Hah, I'll probably have to make another appointment since you made me so late with those stupid questions!"
And with that, she was gone. And my face was red with embarrassment. Note to self. Always ask patients why they are visiting the clinic!
By Mary Kennedy


Saturday, February 25, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                               
Today Ali Blake (from the Dream Club Mysteries) is sharing some thoughts on what makes a "keeper" in her recipe files at Oldies But Goodies.
Hi everyone, as you know, we added a little café to Oldies But Goodies, our vintage candy store in Savannah. Customers love to sit outside on the back patio and enjoy a glass of sweet tea with one of our famous pimento cheese sandwiches or a delicious pastry. We got the idea of serving lunch and snacks from a wonderful hotel in Rehoboth Beach, DE called the Bellmoor.
Our pastries and snacks have become so popular that some Savannah hostesses have asked us to provide goodies for their parties. Luckily, I have some terrific recipes (and the Dream Club members always act as my beta-tasters) but I like to try new recipes and shake things up a bit.
Here's my latest addition, see what you think. (hint: if you like Vidalia onions, I know you will like this!) They're super-easy and a big hit with our customers. Hostesses love them and buy them by the dozens. Onion tartlets!


   one box Pillsbury pie crust                 

  2 tablespoons butter                         
   3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion                                                                                                                                                              
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup sour cream                                                                   
  1/4 teas salt                        
  3/4 cup finely chopped cheddar cheese                                                                                                            Directions: defrost frozen pie crust, let it come to room temp on the counter (do not put it in the microwave!) Use 3 inch biscuit cutter, make rounds and put them in 24 muffin cups. (use the small muffin cup pans). Now melt the butter and cook the onion very slowly, it take about 5 or 10 minutes. You don't want them brown, just translucent.  Heat oven to 400 degrees. Beat eggs,  sour cream, salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked onion.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Spoon mixture into the crusts. Now sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.  Bake 10 or 15 minutes until crusts are golden brown. You can top them with a little chopped fresh basil, if you want. These are delicious, hope you try them! And I hope you try the Dream Club Mysteries, if you haven't already. Southern charm and a group of avid sleuths who solve murders by searching their dreams for clues.
By Mary Kennedy                                                                                                                                         



Friday, February 24, 2017

A Junking I Will Go

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

One of the things I enjoy most about the summer and early fall is going junking on a Saturday morning with Mr. L. Since he's a mapmaker, he knows where he's going, and I just look at the scenery between our jaunts to yard sales and thrift stores.

Now that it's winter, it's the thrift stores that have me coming back.  The truth is, I don't enjoy going to thrift stores as much as yard sales because their prices are a lot higher (which is understandable; they've got overhead). But this time of year, it's either thrift stores or NOTHING.

I have a few favorites, and even though times are lean (because A) I'm cheap, and B) do I really need more stuff?), I only buy stuff I think I will actually use or can find a good home for. Take this pretty cup. That was a find. It'snot bone china (which is what I collect), but I'm pretty sure I can find a home for this Made In Japan cup, which I estimate to be 50+ years old and with no chips.  The doily was a dime--A DIME!  The store must have really wanted to get rid of them. There was a whole basket of them for a dime each.

Of course, I have a doily problem. I look at all the work that went into them, and can't bear to leave them behind, especially if I think nobody will love them. This creates a problem when you have tubs and tubs of doilies. It's come to the point where I'm going to have to do something about them. Maybe open an Etsy store? But that takes a lot of time. Time I could be writing (or otherwise known as gainfully employed). I'm going to pull a Scarlett O'Hara and "think about it another day."

What I got on another foray was a tiny jewelry box for a buck that's covered with sweet angels. Isn't it adorable?

The top opens, and it's got a little drawer.  The truth is, I really don't need a new-to-me jewelry box ... at least at home, but I thought it might look cute at our family's summer cottage. I have a jewelry box there (a yard sale find), but it's not nearly as cute and ... who says they have to live in the same room?

Here's another shot of it open with a few of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

When entering a shop, I'm often asked ... what are you looking for?  I'm first drawn to dishes, not that I buy many. But I recently acquired a brown transferware bowl (which I was too lazy to photograph). I love brown transferware, and it's not as common (or at least that's my experience) as one might think. I'm also drawn to jewelry ... bracelets in particular. I must have acquired 20 bracelets in the past few years. They don't take up a lot of room, and that's one reason why I like them.

So, what is it you're looking for when the "thrill of the hunt" overtakes you?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Businesses in my Cozy Town of Kismet, Pennsylvania

by Karen Rose Smith

When you take a trip or move to a new place, you want to know the best places to visit.  My fictional town of Kismet in my Caprice De Luca Home Stager Mystery series is located in South Central Pennsylvania where I was born. This is a beautiful area with farmland, fields, woods and even rolling hills. The area where I've set Kismet is between York and Harrisburg which gives my sleuth Caprice De Luca access to bigger towns and cities, including Lancaster, Baltimore, Philadelphia and D.C.

If you asked a resident of Kismet to answer this question--What are the best five places to visit in Kismet--he or she would probably give you this list!

Since my sleuth Caprice loves animals and takes in strays, PERKY PAWS is one of her favorite business in Kismet to shop in.  He shop is animal friendly.  The front case carries an assortment of biscuits: peanut butter nuggets, gingerbreadmen-sized ginger biscuits, pumpkin biscuits, and cheese and bacon biscuits.  Colorful dog cookies also decorate the case and are adorned with yogurt icing.  Her pup, Lady, notices them, too, and stands at the case as if she expects one to jump out at her so she can eat it.  At PERKY PAWS, Caprice can pick up anything she needs from a kitty bed to good food for her furry friends to eat.

The BLUE MOON GRILLE holds memories for Caprice.  She shared a romantic date there with Dr. Seth Randolph.  The line for seating sometimes stretches through its reception area on the first floor of an arts and crafts mall and practically out the front door.  Stairs lead to the second floor dining area and the deck outside.  Chatter in the main dining room is loud sometimes around the bar but there is a gas fireplace that makes it cozy on wintry nights.  Sliding glass doors open to the outside deck.  There is always a vase of wildflowers on the tables.  Black wrought iron chairs with rounded backs have cushy cushions tied to the backs and the seats.  The glass-topped tables hold white placemats, silverware and crystal.  The outside deck is lovely on a moonlit night.  On the night Seth and Caprice have dinner there, Seth arranges for a guitarist to play Caprice's favorite music from the 60's and 70's.  The restaurant is especially known for its huge soft pretzels with crab and cheese topping.

The De Lucas are Catholic and Caprice's faith is important to her. The family attends Mass and other services at St. Francis of Assisi Church.  Behind the church there is a garden with a statue of St. Francis Assisi, who is considered the patron saint and protector of animals. Caprice's admiration for St. Francis must play a part in her love for animals.  Her sister calls her a "stray animal magnet" and she finds homes for the strays she takes in.  When Caprice needs to think through a situation, she sometimes sits in the St. Francis garden.  The statue always has seasonal flowers planted around it from daffodils and hyacinths in the spring, to geraniums in summer to mums in the fall.  It's a peaceful and relaxing spot with a cement bench that fits three. 

Caprice is a retro girl.  Her house was built in the 1950's.  She has decorated her house with 1950's furniture and 1960's colors.  Her Nana Celia collected Fostoria crystal through the years and handed it down to Caprice's mom when she moved in with her son and daughter-in-law.  Caprice often uses antiques in staging houses which is her profession.  One of her favorite shops to peruse--from furniture to antique jewelry is OLDER AND BETTER owned by Isaac Hobbs.  Isaac often gives Caprice important gossip and information about collectibles that helps her solve murder cases.  In his shop she can weave in and out of primitive cupboards, pie safes and hand carved rockers.

ALL ABOUT YOU is a unique dress shop opened by Caprice's good friend Roz Winslow.  In the first book of the series, STAGED TO DEATH, Roz was a suspect in her husband's murder investigation.  Once all the dust settled, she decided to use her fashion sense to open a store where all women (not just those who are a size 2) can find fashions they like.  In book 3, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Caprice finds a forties style fuchsia dress for the Valentine's Day dance at ALL ABOUT YOU.  In SILENCE OF THE LAMPS she chooses this dress to wear to her high school reunion.

The dress shop is located in what Kismet residents call Restoration Row.  It is a street of row houses in an older section of town.  Officially a developer named the street Bristol Row when his company refurbished the houses, sand blasting brick, refacing the fronts, putting siding over clapboard, adding black shutters and making the street respectable once again.  Roz rented of the houses for ALL ABOUT YOU.

The store has an unusual layout, with two stories and separate rooms for specific types of fashions.  The back entrance has an inside stairway with a chairlift for anyone disable who wants to shop there.  There is a ramp out back, too, for the first floor as well as limited parking.  Roz has gone to a lot of trouble to make this boutique exactly the way she wanted with woman shoppers in mind.

These are just a few of the places to visit in Kismet. 

 What are your favorite businesses when you read a cozy?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

You are not afraid, you just think you are...

Hi, Duffy Brown here. I was writing...what else is new...and I decided to make Reagan, my main character in the Consignment Shop mysteries, afraid of thunderstorms. She always seems pretty brave to me, going in scary places to find the killer because a loved one or friend is in trouble. So, I thought I’d send her a curveball and make her afraid of something that really isn’t rational.

I know thunderstorms can be really dangerous especially if you’re standing under a tree with a golf club in your hand or you happen to live in California these last few weeks, but other than that they are mostly harmless.

Personally I’m not afraid of thunderstorms. I don’t like when they snap out the electricity but I’m okay. What I’m afraid of is heights. I can fly in a plane...I just pretend I’m sitting in my living room reading a book and have a bunch of strangers over to visit.

And I can climb a ladder and go up in an elevator but the rub is when there is nothing between me and say a thousand-foot dropoff. I’m a little better than I used to be, I spent a thousand bucks getting there. I went to his psychologist and she had me watching flashing lights go back and forth on a screen and she told me to put my feet flat on the floor and thumbs and forefingers together and think I’m not afraid.

As stupid as this sounds it did help. And since I was going hiking with my kids I needed to get over the height thing at least a little bit. Having Mother sitting on a trail praying she gets eaten by the bears ‘cause she’s so afraid is not good. And yes, I did that.

Another thing I’m not fond of is bugs. I remember once calling my husband to come home and kill the thing. He couldn’t of course, so I dropped a big can of tomatoes on the creepy-crawly till my hero arrived. My husband is gone so now it’s me and the bugs and I’ve learned to kill them myself. It’s the least of all evils. If I don’t kill it, it will hunt me down in the middle of the night and crawl of me. Lord have mercy!!

So what about you? Are you afraid of something that there is no real reason to be afraid of? Have you gotten over it? Got any suggestions for the rest of us?

Hugs, Duffy  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It's That Time Again

by Maggie Sefton

Yes, folks----I'm sure I'm not the first one you've heard this from, but here I go anyway:  It's Income Tax Time.  Ugh, you might say, or maybe Yuck! would be more descriptive.  Some of you, however, may describe this time of the year in more. . . ahem. . .colorful terms.  Whatever we call it, folks, it's not going away.  This yearly reminder won't go away until we've paid attention.

And that's what I started doing today.  Yes. . .I starting sorting through all my financial records, credit card statements, receipts, going through my checkbook, and gathering all the pertinent items that indicated my business expenditures as well as income for 2016.  Once I finish, hopefully late tomorrow, then I can do summary sheets and slip everything into a new large manila envelope and take it to my CPA's office this week.  

Some of you who are reading this right now might feel your insides start to twist at the mere thought of going through all that varied and assorted data.  I understand.  I was a CPA for several years--- years ago, it seems now.  And I definitely had some clients who dreaded the thought of going through checkbooks and bank statements, etc.  Even though those tasks are perfectly ordinary and non-threatening to me, I realize many people actually hate them.  So much so, they don't even balance their checkbooks.

Yes. . .you heard that right.  They do not balance their checkbooks.   I always found that amazing, but CPA's never let on----no matter what we hear.  As for me---I think I would break out in a rash if I could not access my financial statements.    I like to know exactly what's there.  And during Tax Season, I gather everything together, summarize the data, then take it all to my CPA.  And she gets to study the Tax Code and each year's new regulations and figure out the taxes---both Federal and State.  
And I can get back to writing fiction---which is a much better usage of my time these days.  :)

Monday, February 20, 2017


By Mary Kennedy                        
A friend and I were chatting over mimosas about a colleague's "embarrassing moment." I told my friend I was relieved that I didn't have any (at least none that came to mind.)
Since my friend has a steel trap mind, she immediately dug up (in excruciating detail) some of the most embarrassing moments in my life.
Here are a couple of her favorites. I'll give you more on next Monday's blog, so stay tuned.
Remember the time you thought your editor was calling you an idiot?
Whoa! Did that really happen? Yes, it did. I was writing my 34th middle grade novel for Scholastic and I received the copy edits by snail mail (yes, this was in the days before digital manuscripts and books). I opened it to see a piece of white paper on top with the words: "How dumb can you get!" scrawled across it. Oh no. I had a wonderful relationship with this editor. What could have gone wrong? I tried calling her, but it was after five pm on a Friday and the office was closed. I stewed about it all week-end, making myself (and everyone around me) miserable.
 At 8:00 am Monday morning, the phone rang. It was my editor! She was calling to make sure I had received the copy-edits. And she sounded positively cheerful.  I managed to say "yes," and then there was a deathly pause. "Well," she said finally, "how do you like the new title?"
New title? I felt like the governor had called with a reprieve. HOW DUMB CAN YOU GET! was the new title of my Scholastic middle grade novel. In my paranoid, panicked moment, I hadn't even thought of that possibility. I was sure she was commenting on my mental abilities!
Remember the time you went to Manhattan and those yuppie guys thought you were panhandling?
Oh, lordy, yes, how could I forget? I drove into the city for the day to meet with my editor down in the Village.  I was wearing a writer's version of "business casual," and was dressed in a sweater, jeans, a faux suede jacket and some tan boots.  As I passed Washington Square, I saw a parking spot. A parking spot in Manhattan? Was it a mirage? I drove like a maniac around the block and zipped into the space, counting my blessings. And then...reality struck. I had credit cards and bills, but no change. Nothing!  How could I feed the parking meter?                                     
And then I was saved--or so I thought. A group of businessmen was emerging from a trendy restaurant, probably after enjoying a three martini lunch. I pulled out a couple of bills from my purse and strode up to them.
"Excuse me, do you have any change?"
Maybe they didn't see the money in my outstretched hand. One of the yuppie guys brushed me aside was a snide, "Get a job!" and they all laughed.
"Get a job?" OMG, did they think I was a panhandler? All I wanted was change for the meter, for heaven's sake.  And even though I was dressed casually, I didn't think I could be mistaken for a bag lady.
At that very moment, a young woman wearing a college T-shirt came up to me. "Here," she said, pushing some quarters into my hand. "I can't believe the way those jerks treated you." I explained what had happened and tried to give her $5.00.
"No, my treat," she said with a sweet smile. "I wouldn't want you to think all New Yorkers are like that. Most of us are pretty nice." With that and a quick wave, she was gone.
I was still seething--and somewhat embarrassed--at being mistaken for a beggar, but it did give me a funny story to tell over lunch.
How about you? Do you have an embarrassing moment you'd like to share?
Mary Kennedy

Friday, February 17, 2017

Website Woes: My Brain Hurts

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

Over the years, I've learned just enough HTML code to be dangerous. I can update certain things on my website, and I recently learned how to embed a PDF. (If you go to my Lorraine site, on the From Katie's Kitchen page, you can download a couple of Katie's recipe cards.)

About six weeks ago, I was informed that the company that has hosted my website(s) since day one (and we're talking more than a decade), was going out of business. I've leaved in dread ever since then because I knew it was going to be a GIGANTIC pain in the patootie. And guess what. It is.

First, I contacted my website designer. We've been going back and forth about new hosting faculties while we talked about refreshing the look of at least two of my sites. Today was the day she said she was ready for the sites to be moved. (She's backed up everything and is ready to move forward.)

Gulp. That means it's my turn to figure things out.  So I spent over three hours today talking with a prospective new host, the old host, and the people that take care of my domain names. And. I'm. Not. Done. Yet.

By the time I got through all that, it was Happy Hour and brother did I need a couple of strong belts.  Tomorrow, I'll call the new hosting guy (real nice fellow name of Gene) and once I give him my authorization codes, he said he will "take care of the rest."  Whew. I sure hope so, because after all this rigmarole, my brain hurts!

But the good news is, my site will be moved. I'm getting a great 3-year rate (less than I paid for one year with the old host), and my website(s) will be refreshed.  I'm starting with my Lorraine site.  Here's a sneak peak.

So what do you think?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Word Games, Paper or App?

by Karen Rose Smith

Ever since I was a kid, I've enjoyed word games--Scrabble and Boggle were favorites.  Even when our son was small, we played those games with friends who visited for the evening. Crossword puzzles were in the mix too as well as word Scramble daily in the local newspaper. Then Sudoku came along and I could never get into that one but my husband did. He and I like different types of word games.

As our son grew up and started his career, our interests changed.  Writing took up all my time and as a teacher, my husband didn't seem to have time for word games either.  I would buy him a Word Search magazine or Word Seek for plane trips or vacations.

Then the electronic age took over the world!  I didn't have a smart phone for quite a while but I did have an IPAD.  A friend suggested the Words With Friends app and my husband found Word Streak.  I started playing those when commercials came on TV or while I was waiting for an appointment.  Now I play them about once a day.  My day doesn't seem complete without them and that's probably because I've been playing with the same players for quite a while.  One of them lives in Australia and we've been playing at least three years.  Sometimes we chat.  Another is a bicyclist who does bicycle fundraisers for diabetes.  We've been playing for a few years too and are friends on Facebook.  The apps open a different world than the magazines.

We still have the magazines around the house to pick up when the inclination hits. I was surprised to learn that this February my most recent cozy mystery--SHADES OF WRATH was chosen for an ad in all three magazines--Word Search, Word Seeks and Sudoku!  I was delighted.

Do You Prefer Magazine Word Games or App Word Games???

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thanks a Ton!!

Hi, Duffy Brown here talking about saying Thanks! 

Some things are a dying art or maybe more of a tradition that we really shouldn’t let die. One of those IMHO is the Thank You note and Jimmy Fallon does a really kickass job of this.

We all need to say thanks and sometimes it should be more than just an email or text. When my kids were around thirteen I bought them note stationery with their initials embossed on the front in hopes that would get them to write more. Yeah right. It takes more than stationery. I found that “you are not watching TV or getting dessert till you write that note!” worked much better.

Yet I think most of those cards wound up in the trash when they moved out of the house but they do write notes more than I thought. I guess something rubbed off more than their love of desserts.

I do write a few Thank You notes once in a while. Not as many as I should. I have cute note cards that are scenes of books and libraries.

There are a lot of people I should say Thanks to that I don’t. I do remember the mail-gal at Christmas, Thank You for brining my mail to the door when there’s a lot of it. Thank You to the garbage guys who take away all the mess in my house, Thank You to the plumber who showed up on time and stopped the stupid toilet from running and killing my sleep.

So what about you? Who would you like to Thank? Someone or maybe something??? 

I’d like to Thank my dishwasher for saving me from dish-pan hands, my washing machine for getting things bright and white, and my Dyson vacuum who has saved my back from lugging heavy vacuums up the steps.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

World Traveler

by Maggie Sefton

I don't know if any of you folks have checked into that CNN series hosted by Anthony Bourdain or not, but I have.  It's half travel and exploring different cultures show with a healthy dollop of food and local cafes show.  The show's host Anthony Bourdain, I find to be low-key and well-informed as well as an experienced world traveler.

I first checked into the show at the beginning of this year when there was a succession of shows on
various world cities and the foods and cafes there as well as the people and the various cultures.  Bourdain is a charming guide and has a devilish sense of humor which I find enjoyable.

I'm usually not a regular fan of cooking shows on television, having been exposed to all that years and years ago.  Boy, was I ever.  I was one of those early Julia Child fans and had her cookbook and went through a French Chef phase.    I've always enjoyed cooking and had a wonderful decade (yes, a decade) of immersing myself (and my very willing family) into one fascinating world cuisine after another.  What fun!   

We were living in West Lafayette, Indiana, then while my husband was a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Purdue University.  Purdue was and still is a wonderful university, and we were there during that decade where there was a great deal of university/community involvement.  And one of the groups I participated in offered all sorts of university family events.  One of the most enjoyable  was the International Cooking Group which sampled various world cuisines through marvelous faculty dinners.  Lots of yummy food as well as recipes.

That seems to be a period of time that existed for a few years then, poof!  It was gone---lost in the midst of peoples' careers and involvement taking over any free time that was available for simple things like those events.  Do any of you remember similar groups or events that you encountered years ago that are no more?  Share with us, please.  Were any of you also Julia Child fans?  

Monday, February 13, 2017


By Mary Kennedy 
When the weather gets chilly, a lot of my friends take to walking at the local Mall. It's safe, convenient, and if you go early, you can escape the crowds of shoppers. It's a great way to get in a little exercise and socialize during these dreary winter months. 
But danger lurks in those delectable food items around every corner. With the addictive scent of Cinnabon in the air, it's a real test of will power to get through the Mall without packing on the calories.
Here's a fun fact that will strengthen your resolve.
One Cinnabon is 880 calories, and 37 grams of fat. Whoa! How much "mall walking" would you have to do to burn off those calories? 
Here's the answer.  (And it's a not-so-fun fact.) A 160-pound person walking at a pace of 3 miles per hour burns 85 calories per mile and 255 calories per hour.  That means you would have to walk for more than three hours (!) and you still wouldn't burn off the calories in a single Cinnabon. Unless you are seriously addicted to Cinnabons, it may not be worth it.
Other Mall food is tempting, but you need to know the facts.
Those delish pretzels at Auntie Anne's? Sadly, the Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel is 470 calories. Assuming you can eat just one!

If you've a hankering for pizza, beware. Even half of a thin crust margherita pizza at California Pizza Kitchen is 665 calories.

It's lunch time and you're craving a cheeseburger and fries. And look, you're right in front of Five Guys, who arguably might have the best French fries in town. But stop and think. A Five Guys cheeseburger (with no fries!) is 840 calories and 55 grams of fat. Yowsers! That's a lot of walking. And you just might weaken and order the fries with it. (not that you don't have any will power, just sayin') It's easy to give in to temptation.

Are you supposed to deprive yourself of these treats forever? Heck, no! Just don't make "indulging" a regular thing. Save it for a special occasion and enjoy every bite.

Happy and walking and eating! Mary Kennedy

Saturday, February 11, 2017

More than just a friendly face

Today's spotlight is on ... Noreen Darby.


If you've read With Baited Breath, the first Lotus Bay Mystery novel, you know that Noreen is part-owner of The Bay Bay, which is right next door to the wreck of a house Kathy Grant wants to turn into a B&B.

Noreen was an office worker who rode a motorcycle. (Although, she's not into tatts, so don't ask if she has any.)  She met Paul Darby, owner of the bar, on a Poker Run, and it was love at first sight. She traded in her job and now she'd the short-order cook at the bar.

Wow, what a change. She went from filing papers to flipping burgers. From eight hours a day to whatever it took to keep the customers happy, and since the bar also takes in fishermen (they've got two rooms to let), she's also in charge of keeping those rooms clean and ready for the next guest.

She liked her life, but it got better when she met Tori Cannon, her BFF Kathy, and Tori's childhood friend, Anissa. What do they all have in common? Being business owners .... or at least they have that goal in mind.

It was Noreen who held out the hand of friendship.

“It’s a tough life. Not only do I cook, but I keep the rooms clean, too. And let me tell you, some of our guests are real pigs—and they’re not all men.”

“I hear you,” Kathy said, taking a sip of her neglected drink. The ice had melted, leaving it watery. “We’re starting with the bait shop. We’ll scrub the outside walls and start painting it tomorrow.”

“We’ve got a power washer. We’d be glad to loan it to you guys.”

“That’s very generous of you. I’ll take you up on it. Thanks.”

“Anything to help out Herb,” Noreen said. “I’ll be back in the kitchen about eight in the morning. Knock on the door and you can pick it up then.”

That was the beginning.

So you can see that Noreen is a real sweetheart.

I'm currently figuring out the next adventure for these entrepreneurial ladies, including fleshing out Noreen's character.  What do you think? Should she have a funny hobby? Collect something strange? Knit sweaters for birds with no feathers?  Come on--share your ideas.

And if you haven't read the book, you can:

Trade Paperback:  Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Books A Million

Ebooks:  Kindle US ~ Kindle Worldwide ~ Nook ~ Kobo ~ iBooks