Monday, January 23, 2017

WHEN DID FOOD GET SO FANCY-SCHMANCY?

By Mary Kennedy                       
                                                            
 
I must admit, I'm a big fan of simple food. Pasta, fresh veggies, cheese and salads. I've noticed that lately restaurants are featuring foods that are way too fancy-schmancy for my taste. They're out of my comfort zone.
 
I remember the "small plate" trend of a few years ago. As far as I could tell, you needed at least half a dozen of these to make a meal. Check out the plate below. My cat (actually any of my cats) would eat this in one gulp.
                                                        
 
I guess the idea is that just a taste should be enough, but seriously, it isn't! Of course, I guess that's the idea behind tapas, you order several little dishes.
 
 
 
And the latest trend for "vertical foods" drives me nuts. Why does anyone want their food arranged in a little mini-tower?
                                                            
 
 
I like to see what I'm eating!
                                                       
       
Here's another example, I have no idea what this is!

                                                            
 
I guess I'm not a "foodie," or I don't have refined taste, because I really like simple food, well cooked. Soups, stews, and of course, pasta.
                                                       
                                                    
How about you? Are you a fan of nouvelle cuisine or do you like the tried and true favorites? Inquiring minds want to know! Bon appetit, everyone!
 
Mary Kennedy

Friday, January 20, 2017

It's got EVERYTHING!

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

Yesterday, I went to a store where, just inside the door,  I was greeted by a six-foot long mirrored lion--roaring his head off. (I'm calling him "Disco Lion.")

Yesterday, I went to Home Goods for the first time.

WOW -- talk about a store that contains everything you WANT and just about nothing you NEED.

I walked around in awe looking at the china, the pictures, the bedding (even dog bedding), the beautiful coffee (or tea) mugs, throw pillows, soap dishes, lamps -- just EVERYTHING, and I wanted it all (even though I have no where to put it.)

I'd first heard about Home Goods on HGTV. Hosts of the decorating stores would walk in, grab a grocery cart, and start filling them up with neat stuff to decorate the homes they were working on.  Just like on TV, women were walking (and blocking) the aisles with shopping carts full of STUFF. There were even a few guys in there doing the same.

Mr. L and I walked around (and I must say he was EXTREMELY PATIENT, as I pulled a "MUM" and looked at everything) in disbelief. While most of the customers were breaking the bank with their purchases, we walked out of there with a new soap dish.

I'm at the point in life where I'm starting to shed stuff, so it's not likely Home Goods is a place I'll return to. But it does make me want some of those gorgeous bone china mugs to drink my morning tea out of.

What's your impression of Home Goods? Would it be a destination place for you?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Do You Eat Broccoli???

by Karen Rose Smith



I eat broccoli because it's good for me--the calcium and fiber and all that.  But I don't really like it unless it's floating in cheese sauce or in some other recipe that disguises the taste.  Except for the recipe below which a friend gave me.  This broccoli slaw doesn't taste like broccoli.  It just has a lot of crunch.  This recipe is terrific for covered dishes at picnics or holiday get-togethers.  Someone always asks me for the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it.  In the comments, can you share your favorite vegetable?





Oriental Broccoli Salad

Salad:
1 bag broccoli slaw
1 pkg Beef Ramen Noodles (broken up)
1 cup sunflower seeds

Dressing:
3/4 cup oil
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
Ramen Noodle seasoning

Mix the slaw, broken up noodles and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Then mix up the dressing in a measuring cup and pour over the slaw mixture.  I mix this up the evening before because I like the noodles soft.  Stir again before serving.



What's your favorite vegetable???


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

For the birds...


Okay, it’s winter and there’s snow on the ground and not everyone has a home meaning deer, birds, raccoons...you get the picture. I feel sorry for these guys. It’s hard enough to be scrounging for food but in the winter it’s got to be the pits. Brush away the snow, eat frozen grass. Yuck!

All summer long I’m spraying to keep the deer off my plants. If I didn’t they’d level my yard in one night. I use that liquid fence stuff, string fishing line and yell a lot.

The yelling has no effect at all, though I have heard a deer or two chuckle, but the other two ideas work pretty well if I keep at it. Of course one rain and it’s back to spraying.



So here’s my question... Do I feed the critters or not? I’ve even heard not to feed the birds. I guess the reasoning is if you make it too easy they’ll forget how to hunt for seeds on their own. Actually I think this is crap. Birds will remember how to get their food if I do not hang out the Come And Get it feeder.

And when it really gets cold and the ground covered with snow I feel like I need to feed the deer. We can’t starve Bambi no matter how much havoc he/she causes me in the summer. Once I start feeding them the deer do get in a pattern and come though the yard and this will continue into the summer and then I’m back in the soup worse than ever with them eating my plants.

So what do you do? Do you feed the birds? The deer? Let them fend for themselves?


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dramatic Times, Changing Times

by Maggie Sefton





Yesterday,  Monday, was a holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  the famous Civil Rights leader who stood up during tumultuous times and made a difference in this country, especially during the dramatic decade of the 1960s.  I was beginning college in Washington, D.C. (my hometown area) during the time of Dr. King's famous Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C.  where he gave his "I have a dream speech."  I was working a summer job for the Federal Government right before starting college that Fall.


Would you believe that the Federal Government actually closed down the day of Dr. King's March?  All the "important people" in Washington, D.C. and in the government actually believed there would be violence during the March.  So, we were not allowed to go to our jobs.  All Federal Government offices were closed.  Hard to believe, I know.

Well, guess what?  Dr. King's dramatic and history-making March on Washington took place and it was TOTALLY PEACEFUL.  Yes.  Totally peaceful.  And, it was a marvelous thing to watch take place on television.  And Dr. King's speech was mesmerizing.  We could tell we were watching History being made right then.  America was changing.  And we were watching it happen.  





The Chinese have a saying, something like:  "May you live in interesting times."  Well, those of us Sixties kids certainly did live during and through Interesting Times, to be sure.  I'll say.  The entire decade of the Sixties was dramatic to say the least.  Interesting times. . .boy, were they ever.

Do any of you folks have memories of that period or the years following you would like to share?  

 

Monday, January 16, 2017

I TOOK MY CAT TO THE VETS. NOW HE HATES ME

By Mary Kennedy
                                                              
 
 
We all know the importance of routine vet check ups for our cats. As humans we know this, I mean. Our cats seem to have other ideas.
 
One look at the cat carrier, and all heck breaks loose. It's an immutable law of Physics that what goes in (cat into carrier) can come out. Ask any cat owner!
                                                           
Damian was an absolute Houdini when I took him to the vets for his "well cat" exam last Monday. I finally managed to get him inside (but not without a herculean struggle). Like many cats, he was subdued but not too irate at the vets.
 
In fact, he was pretty well behaved.  Maybe he was intimidated. Here's Grumpy Cat (I think) at the vets. Like Damian, he seems to be compliant.
                                                           
 
The moment we got home, I praised Damian for his good behavior and gave him cat treats. After an initial period of coolness ("I can't believe you stuffed me in a box and drove me to that awful place") he warmed up.
 
The real problem, my friends, began this past Friday. I did the unthinkable. I brought Damian to be neutered. I thought of explaining the procedure to him ahead of time, and figured some things should just be left unsaid. In some cases, ignorance really *is* bliss.
 
The procedure went well and Damian is safely home with me. But the feelings of hurt and betrayal in his heart rage on. How can I get back in his good graces?  
 
I'm thinking a nice selection of cat treats...
                                                      
 
loads of belly rubs and maybe some new catnip mice.  And of course, my heartfelt apologies. With Damian, love doesn't mean you never have to say you're sorry.
 
Any ideas from my readers? Thank in advance, Mary PS It's day three and he is still giving me the cold shoulder.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Like I need something else to collect...

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

 A couple of years ago, I found a Bossons head at an estate sale.  What's a Bosson's head?  A picture tells a thousand words, they say. Basically, it's a head made of plaster of Paris (or chalkware).  You can read all about them here.

My mother and aunt collect(ed) them, neither of them had/have a huge collection, but they're very interesting and kind of delicate--they chip very easily.  Mr. L gave me two for Christmas and wasn't as careful as he might have been. One of them broke after he wrapped it. Luckily, he has a friend who can mend things so that you can't tell they've been broken.  (One of our cats chewed the ears off a cat statue Mr. L had given me and his friend was able to repair it so that there was no trace it had been gnawed.)

I've now got five. Women Bossons heads are very rare indeed, and Mr. L bought me a female for Christmas. I wish I could say she was pretty, but she's a fisherman's wife, and she looks it. In fact, not many could be considered "pretty," but they are true-to-life.

Most of my Bossons heads are fishermen (and woman), but I do have a policeman (who was my second head). I've looked at a lot of images online and I think I'd like a Beefeater next. But that can wait. I've still got a birthday and Christmas to go in 2017.

The other day, I was at a thrift shop. Sad to say, I did NOT find a Bossons head, but I did find a small plaster of Paris plaque of a fisherman at the helm. Mr. L said it reminded him of the Glouesster Fisherman statue in Massachusetts.

As you can see, it's rather humble, but sweet. I thought it would make a nice addition to my wee Bossons collection.

Do I really need to find anything else to collect?

Nope.

Is that going to stop me?

Nope.

What useless things do you collect?


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Amid Snow...Looking Toward Spring

by Karen Rose Smith



After the holidays can be a blah time.  And once the frigid temperatures and snow move into Pennsylvania, I need an activity that takes my physical challenges of arthritis and fibromyalgia into consideration. I've found that growing and nurturing plants (as well as cats) does that for me.

Gardening started as therapy and it still is. But more than that, it relaxes me, takes me away from the computer and enhances my ability to live in and decorate my patio and garden surroundings with joy. I never thought I had a "green" thumb. The first year, I planted heirloom tomatoes in my kitchen, sat them on the windowsills and watched them grow. It was a surprise that they did! But the whole process was so enriching, I expanded it. My husband put grow lights in the basement over his work benches above heat pads. So each year beginning in January, I start to plant.


This week I planted Purple Pirouette Petunia seeds and Red Pirouette Petunia seeds in peat pots. These are hard to grow. Last year out of 35 seeds, I only managed about six plants.  But they produce beautiful, unusual flowers.









I will also start geraniums this month. In February I will start Twinny Appleblossom Snapdragons and Marigolds. In March, heirloom tomatoes will line my tinfoil pans. I'll tell you more about my spring and summer flowers in upcoming months.



Starting plants gives me a way to increase standing time, begin lifting in degrees, and generally just add more activity to months when ice and snow might prevent me from going out. Watching seeds grow into plants and then provide color in my gardens also rejuvenates in me the promise of spring.






What activities do you plan for January and February to see you through winter?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This Little Piggie Went to Market...


We all have to grocery shop, either that or starve. So here in Cincy I go to Kroger’s. I go there because it’s close to my house and they have organic. But they are often out of stuff I want and lately they’ve taken to self-scan check out. After eight at night that is the only option and I often shop then as I’m getting off work. 

I hate Self scan!! Especially at the grocery where there are a lot of things in my basket and fruits and veggies have to be weighed. Like I told the person who oversees the scan area...if I wanted a job at Kroger’s I’d apply. I feel like I’m doing their job!

And the biggest thing is if the person overseeing the check out area that isn’t all that busy opened a register we could all check out there and I’d be out of the grocery so much faster. If you buy fruits and veggies there are a ton of glitches!

I don’t mind self-scan at Lowes or Home
Depot as their stuff is marked and it goes smoothly. At the grocery it never goes smoothly and then the overseer of the self scan acts all put out that I don’t know the ten step process for weighing and entering the amount.

Did I mention how much I hate self-scan.

So what about you? Have they introduced self-scan at your grocery? Do you like it? Are there registers open in case you don’t like it and a human actually checks you out? Does your store have clerks wondering around chatting and are you thinking... Just open the blasted register so I can get out of here and go home.

Okay, I feel better now after my rant but if you hear about a clerk getting decked by an irate customer in Cinch 

you’ll know who it is.

Hugs, Duffy


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Do You Have Any New Year's "Intentions?"

by Maggie Sefton


One of my favorite "Winter" photos.  Daughter Serena sent it to me two winters ago.  :)  



You notice I'm not calling them "Resolutions."  I'm using the word "Intentions" instead.
Yes, yes, it's a weaker term, wishy-washy, whatever.  But the word Intentions doesn't carry with it the same judgmental quality as the word Resolutions.  I know. . .only people like writers who work with words all the time would make that distinction.  What can I say?  We writers are a strange bunch, granted.  After all, we walk around looking normal, while we have all sorts of different people dancing through our heads.


But, back to the subject of this post----Intentions/Resolutions.  Mine are very simple this year.  I intend and/or resolve to save some money and NOT go on a cruise this winter.  I fell in love with cruising a couple of year's ago as a wonderful way to escape some of Winter's harsh cold weather during either January or February.  I have really enjoyed my previous cruises, especially last year's February 2-week cruise in the Eastern Caribbean.  The ship went to of my favorite places plus all of the other islands I had not reached yet.  I would dearly love to cruise the Western Caribbean, but that will have to wait until next year.  Having been an accountant and CPA, I am able to "summon" enough will power to accomplish my money-saving goals when necessary. Thank goodness.    It's the only way I can stay on track living this precarious existence as a writer of fiction.  


So-----this year, I am going to escape for a week down to Florida to visit my dear childhood friends who always escape the Winter Cold of the Metropolitan No.Virginia/DC/Maryland area and go to their second home in Florida.  For years, I've been promising them I would visit sometime during the winter, but I never have.  I think this is the year.  I've always enjoyed every trip I've ever made to Florida, whether it's spring, summer, or fall.  So, I imagine I will enjoy a winter trip as well.  Do any of  you Readers "escape" Cold Weather during the Winter?  If so, where do you go?  Tell us.  :)

Monday, January 9, 2017

SAYING GOOD-BYE TO CARBS

By Mary Kennedy                                 
                                                             
 
Good-bye! Adieu! A bientot! Breaking up is hard to do, but I'm saying good-bye to carbs for the next 4 weeks. But don't shed a tear for me, I'm not saying farewell to *all* carbs, just bad carbs.
 
And we all know what they are, right? I'm ditching anything made with flour, sugar, corn syrup, molasses. No noodles, no pasta, no rice, no sweets of any type, and of course, no bread, rolls or pizza. (Unless it's the pizza crust you can make with "cauliflower rice" and I have to admit I've never gotten up the energy to try it.)
                                                              
In case anyone has a burning urge to make pizza  crust with cauliflower rice, you can just put raw cauliflower in the blender or food processor in small batches until it looks like rice.                                      
                                                      
 
Or (easier) just a buy a bag in the frozen veggie section at the supermarket.
 
You can find directions online for a pizza crust made out of "cauliflower rice." Not sure how much it resembles the real thing.
 
I'll be eating good carbs, of course, and we all know what they are. Fresh veggies, for example, but nothing starchy like potatoes in any form. (Yes, I know this is a downer.)
                                                      
 
Since I'm a big fan of veggie burgers, I'll be making "cloud buns" to go with them. Have you tried cloud buns? My recipe makes 8, but you really need 2 per sandwich as it is practically impossible to cut them in half.
 
 They have zero carbs and are 80 calories for two buns. Sometimes I just use one bun for an open-faced sandwich. This is what they look like and they're good for those times when you are dying for a piece of bread! They're about the size of a McDonald's hamburger roll.
                                                   
 
Here's how you make them. They're super easy and have two ingredients, eggs and cream cheese. Oh, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar if you have it.
 
Recipe: separate 4 eggs, add cream of tartar to the egg whites and then beat the egg whites 4 minutes until they stand in stiff peaks. Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl, add 2 tablespoons cream cheese (you can also use cottage cheese if you prefer) to the egg yolks. Beat until well blended.
 
Next, carefully fold in the liquid yolk mixture into the egg whites. Do this a little at a time, do not overbeat.  Fold. don't stir!
 
Place big globs of the mixture on an ungreased cookie sheet. It should make 8 buns. Bake in pre-heated 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes, but keep checking. They should be golden on top, like the ones pictured. When cool, keep in a plastic bag in the fridge. After a few hours, they take on a "bread-like" texture. No, they don't taste exactly like a real piece of bread, but you knew that, right?
 
I've gotten used to them (they're not to everyone's taste) and I eat them in the morning as an egg beater sandwich with a veggie sausage patty. Or at lunch with a veggie burger, lettuce and tomato etc. Give them a try and see what you think! And if you decide to take the no-carb challenge with me, welcome aboard.
 
Bon appetit!
 
Mary Kennedy
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, January 7, 2017

SPOTLIGHT On "Who Are You People?"

by Maggie Sefton






Today it's my turn to Spotlight some of my writing, and I've chosen a Nonfiction short piece which I wrote a little over two years ago.  I decided to do an "in-depth" character study of all the people who make up the cast of the Kelly Flynn Mysteries.  If you've just discovered our Cozy Chicks Blog and all of the Cozy Chicks' many novels, short stories, and other pieces that we, the Chicks, have produced over the years, then you may be surprised.  We Chicks are a prolific bunch.  :)  


A couple of years ago I decided to write what I call "a short, short story" featuring the characters that inhabit the Kelly Flynn Mysteries.  But, first, I wrote a short nonfiction piece that featured all of the regular characters that appear in the Kelly Flynn mysteries.  It's entitled, "Who Are You People?, " and it's an excellent way to become acquainted with all these characters that inhabit Kelly Flynn's world.  If you're new to the Kelly books, why not give the introductory piece a try.  You'll find it on Amazon's Kindle Books.  And you'll also find that short, short story featuring the Kelly Flynn characters I mentioned in the first paragraph---Halloween Scare.  Check it out.  You don't have to wait until Halloween to enjoy it.  :)  


Friday, January 6, 2017

More phone woes...

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

Last year, I lost my flip phone. I'd had it for about five years, and considering how often I lose things, I thought that was pretty good.  I bought a small Android phone and thought I'd stepped into the 21st century.

Well, that phone was not only TOO small, but it took crappy pictures, too. So after about six months, I bought a bigger, better Android phone. I actually took time to watch some videos on how to use it (but still have a terrible time typing on the thing).  I downloaded a few apps and with my better camera, took some pictures of my cat (and lots of pictures of lunch martinis) and could even upload them to Instagram.

I sent my first text on Thanksgiving. Since then, I've forgotten how to do it (and don't really have anybody but my brother to text, anyway).

Then in early December, my phone just stopped being a phone. A message came up that said SAFE MODE. I didn't know what that meant, and who had time in December to figure it out?  It no longer rang or vibrated when somebody called me.  All my apps disappeared. I kept charging it in case I had to make a call (and I actually made a couple), but it was relegated to the bottom of my purse.

Last week, my brother had had enough of not being able to reach me.  He bought me a used iPhone 4.  (It's pink!)  Not only did he buy it for me, he put me on his account. (He's a great guy.)

There's just one problem. I don't know how to use it, either.

He's working and won't have time to walk me through using it (which I will probably forget in a heartbeat). Thank goodness for YouTube videos.

I guess the real problem is that I don't like using the phone. I go out of my way NOT to use phones -- cell or otherwise. I do like having the camera, but uploading the pictures has not been easy.

So, why do some people take to cell phones like fish to water and people like me just have a mental block about it?


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Stray #Cats In Winter--Bonnie & Clyde

by Karen Rose Smith


As some of you might know, I'm a cat lover.  We have four inside rescued cats.  One of them, our senior London, has to be separated from the others.  So we really aren't equipped to invited more cats inside the house.  A sibling pair of stray cats my hubby dubbed Bonnie & Clyde have been coming to our outside feeder since fall a year ago. Their ears were clipped so we knew they'd been caught up in a Trap/Neuter/Release program. Another stray we were caring for (and lost last winter) led them there.  We already had shelters on the property for Sunnybud.  We also have a sun room detached from the house at the patio which has shelters and heat pads there.  So we were hoping this winter Bonnie and Clyde would use them. Last winter, we think they were staying under a not-cat-friendly neighbor's porch. But in the spring the neighbor used lattice and stones to block off under the porch so no cats could house there.

After we Sunnybud crossed the rainbow bridge, I vowed I would not get attached to a stray again.  But...
This is an igloo shelter protected by straw bales.

We knew we had to do something to help Bonnie and Clyde.  However, they were definitely feral and so skittish.  Throughout the summer we made progress. We started a relationship by leaving wet food on the patio where they didn't have to worry we'd bother them.  Then we began talking to them through the screen in the basement while they were eating.  Finally by the end of the summer they came inside to eat twice a day if we kept our distance.  Clyde began staying around our property more, though Bonnie was still a flibbertygibbit.  We still don't know where she goes sometimes.

As summer ended, we decided to put a kitty door in the storm door.  Hubby handled that project.  We taped open the door and they began coming in and out.  Clyde even began sleeping on a chair in the basement during the day and in the evening.  As temperatures began dropping, they started climbing up on top of my book boxes near the heat vent.  We had other strays who came in the kitty door to look around (we always take out the food at night) and Bonnie and Clyde felt safe up high.

When the temperature dipped below freezing, we decided to try closing them in at night.  The first night was an experiment and to our surprise, another stray had been hiding in the basement!  So we let them out that night.  They came back so I knew they weren't too freaked out.  We tried it again.  To our amazement, they used the litter boxes we provided and slept most of the night.  (We have a camera in the basement to watch their activities.)

Now, we have a routine.  Clyde will let me pet him at times. Bonnie won't.  They still run and hide if hubby or I move too fast or reach toward them.  Every evening, I feed them inside while hubby goes to the outside of the door.  They won't run "toward" him.  He steps in and closes the door then leaves again.  I sit until they come out and eat more.  Then Bonnie usually heads up to the top box under the heat vent.  They are starting to realize they are safe inside from other cats and creatures--our camera has also caught photos of a raccoon and possum.  I wake before sunrise and feed them and let                                                                       them out. It's working for now.
Bonnie & Clyde at night

A cat we call Scruffy is using one of the outside shelters and possibly the heat bed in the sun room. I know someone has been in it because I put a receiving blanket on the pillow and whoever sleeps there pushes it aside.

There are so many strays who need protection, especially in winter.  Shelters with heat pads or well insulated ones can save their lives.



Another shelter with a heat pad inside.