Thursday, April 19, 2018

Orange Creamsickle Cake...Yummmm!

by Karen Rose Smith

Remember those orange creamsicle popsicles?  This cake is reminiscent of those.  I like to make this recipe this time of year with pot lucks and picnics starting for spring and summer.  It’s easy and delicious.  I hope you enjoy it.


1 (16.5 oz.) package orange cake mix
2 (3 oz.) packages of orange gelatin, divided
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk (I use whole milk so it holds its body longer)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions, using a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Cool.  Poke holes all over cake.  (I use the handle of a wooden spoon.)

In a small bowl dissolve 1 pack of the gelatin in boiling water.  Stir until completely dissolved.  Add cold water.  (Very cold water works best.)  Then pour evenly over cake, filling all the holes.  Chill in refrigerator for one hour.

Combine second pack of gelatin, pudding mix, milk and vanilla in mixing bowl.  Beat well until thickened slightly.  (I mix on high.) It won't thicken as much as pudding.  Fold in whipped topping.  I like orange swirls so I don't fold completely even.  Spread the mixture over the cake.  Chill for several hours before serving.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bouncing the Bucket List!

Just got back from Amsterdam and the land of tulips and windmills. Well...not exactly just got back but landed Saturday an it took till now to feel among the living with recovering from an eye infection, stomach bug, bad cold and no tulips.
Doing the bucket list thing isn’t always a bowl of cherries!
Adventures are just that and not all goes to plan. But there was the art I’d wanted to see all my life (Van Gogh’s sunflowers, Rembrandt, Vermeer). And Amsterdam was amazing even in rain and cold...they were ice skating on the canals two weeks ago so the tulips stay said no-way are we coming out in this! See this pic below...well we didn’t see it at all!
So my question today is, is having a bucket list worth it? Is it just pie in the sky or should you roll the dice and give it a try?
Even with all the mishaps IMHO adventures are always worth it. I travel a lot with my two daughters and their motto is... If something doesn’t go wrong we’re not trying hard enough.
I like this philosophy a lot. Maybe it’s part of my bucket list. To just keep plugging away and trying new things.
So that brings me back to you. Do you have a bucket list? It doesn’t have to be traveling all over the planet and getting sick but maybe trying to really like sushi (I did and still think holding it over a flame would do it a world of good). Or maybe learning how to play Mahjong or go to the opera or give Josh Groban one more try.
So what’s on your bucket list and are you adding to it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ahhhhh. . . . Caffeine

by Maggie Sefton

This post may sound strange, but there are lots of us out here in the General Public who actually welcome that provocative substance called Caffeine.  It's most easily found in a very popular beverage----Coffee.

Although I am a die hard Tea drinker and have been my entire life---the story goes that I actually had it in my bottle as a baby.  Yes, indeed.  As a six-month old baby I was crying a lot with teething pain. So much so, that my born in Ireland---raised in England father finally went into the kitchen and brewed up a pot of hot tea, put some in a baby bottle, added lots of milk and sugar (the preferred way the English like their tea) and gave it to me.  Apparently I greedily drank it and immediately stopped crying and went to sleep.  Story of my life, I guess.  :)

Well, that's hot tea, you say.  What about that even more popular hot beverage Coffee?  Well. . . it took me a while to adapt to it, but I did start adding coffee to my list of regular beverages.  Not for the taste of it?  Goodness, no.  It was because it was the easiest way to guarantee wakefulness when you're sitting up late at night writing fiction.  More about that in a future post.  :)  Whereas I actually love the flavor ot Tea and now drink it black with no sugar or cream, I find the taste of unadorned coffee harsh and bitter.  That's why I have to obscure that taste with cream.  No sugar, mind you.  That's another post for another day.  I kicked adding white sugar to anything years ago in the 90's.  And, I don't even flinch at the calories in whole cream. Bad Maggie, Bad Maggie.

That's right, folks.  The author of the Kelly Flynn Knitting Mysteries with the undisputed Queen of Caffeine consumption, Kelly Flynn, does not actually love the taste of Coffee.  Hey. . .that's the reason it's so fun to write about Kelly's caffeine habit.  I can exaggerate all the traits of coffee drinkers I have known and put them on the page.  :)  That's what we novelists do.  We exaggerate.

So-----if you're reading this post in the morning with a cup of Joe or in the afternoon with a cup of hot tea and curled up in a comfy chair, or at night with a a glass of your favorite wine or stronger beverage, I have one word for you.   Enjoy!  

Monday, April 16, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                         

I first heard about "secret menus" when I was in California, going to an In-N-Out drive through, looking for a vegetarian snack. I saw a LOT of hamburgers on the menu but  my friend told me 
I could order off the "secret menu." 

I thought she was kidding and then I heard her order a burger "protein style" off the secret menu. This meant that her burger would come wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of a soft white bun.

 "But what will I get?" I asked. "I don't eat meat."And that's when she told me about the grilled cheese option on the secret menu. Yes, it's just what you would expect. A meatless version of their classic hamburger, made with melted cheese on a bun with lettuce and tomato. (and yes, it's tasty!)

Other secret menu finds: If you're a chicken afficienado,you can order a Big McChicken at McDonald's. Two chicken patties replace the bun on their cheeseburger, all the trimmings remain the same. That's a LOT of chicken.
You can get "frings" at Burger King (a mixture of fries and onion rings.)

Or chicken quesadilla at Chick-Fil-A. which is char-broiled chicken with melted cheese wrapped in a tortilla. 

Another find is a Green Eye at Starbucks, 3 shots of espresso into regular drip coffee.

While you're at Starbucks (and not counting calories), you could try a raspberry cheesecake frappuccino. It's actually a vanilla bean frappuccino with raspberry syrup, mocha syrup, java chips and more.

At Taco Bell, you can order their chili cheese burrito. Piping hot chili with cheese, in a flour tortilla.

Did you know that Burger King will make you a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) if you ask for it?

How about you? Do you have any secret menu finds you'l like to share? 

Bon appetit!!

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Visit Blythe Cove Manor on Beautiful Martha's Vineyard

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

Have you ever been to Martha's Vineyard?

Right now, the island, some four miles across Vineyard Sound from Cape Cod, MA, is windswept, but spring has arrived.  And come Memorial Day Weekend, the "season" will have started.

But you don't have to wait until next month to visit. It's waiting for you right now in a series of stories about a unique bed and breakfast, and its hostess, Blythe Calvert. The place? Blythe Cove Manor ... where just a little magic awaits all its guests.

Serious life changes have pushed Paige and Alex Campbell to the brink of divorce.  Still, they win a weekend at lovely Blythe Cove Manor and experience vivid dreams that take them back in time. Is there a chance this magical place inspires the nighttime fantasies that could help them fall in love again?

Kindle US  |  Kindle Worldwide

Nook  |  iBooks  |  Kobo

Will anything heal the pain of a grieving daughter? When a trip meant to be a gift of a weekend trip together turns into a painful solo journey, can the magic of Blythe Cove Manor help heal Jenny Taylor's soul?

Kindle US  |  Kindle Worldwide

Nook  |  iBooks  |  Kobo

All is quiet at Blythe Cove Manor as its proprietress, Blythe Calvert, anticipates a peaceful weekend with her cat, Martha. But then a taxi pulls up and drops off a troubled, runaway teen looking for a safe haven. Can the magic of Blythe Cove Manor heal this young girl’s aching heart?

Kindle US  |  Kindle Worldwide

Nook  |  iBooks  |  Kobo

Looking for more Blythe Cove Manor stories?  Check out those by Shirley Hailstock.

Visit my website for more information on Blythe Cove Manor.

Friday, April 13, 2018

It's Friday the 13th -- are you nervous

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

Like the subject line says ... It's Friday the 13th. Are you nervous about it?  Are you a superstitious person?

I'm not. And the reason?  Black cats are supposed to be unlucky. I've had black cats for most of my life. My first came with a very silly name. I was six and I didn't know you were "allowed" to change the name of a cat. Poor cat was saddled with that name for twelve years. Since then, I've learned that as long as you feed a cat and call it by its new name, it will learn very quickly, "Hey, I'm not stupid name anymore, now I'm called Most Excellent Name!"

Well, here we are on Friday the 13th 2018 (first of two this year.  the other is in July) and I have no black cat. In fact, I don't have two black cats.  We lost both our boys last month (within 12 days of each other) and have been in mourning ever since. We know there is another black cat somewhere in our future, we just don't know when.

Walk under a ladder?  Well, I wouldn't do that just because it's unsafe.

Breaking a mirror?  That upsets me, because it can be terribly unsafe and I don't like getting cut, but I'm not worried about seven years of bad luck.

Opening an umbrella inside? Fahgettaboutit. Why worry?  In fact, it didn't faze me at all when I bought some "studio lights."  Love them!  Haven't used them much, but I have no problem opening the umbrellas that diffuse light.

Spilling salt? And then canceling out the bad luck by throwing it over your shoulder? No. First, I've already spilled the salt ... probably on the counter.  I'm not throwing it over my shoulder so that I have to clean off the counter AND sweep the floor.  Not gonna happen.

There is one thing that I am wary of ... and only because my mother would have a cow if anyone put shoes on a table. But in retrospect, for me it's more a matter of germs. Eeeek! I know where those shoes have been! Imagine the bacteria they've trudged through!!!

Is there something you're superstitious about?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

TranquilaTEA Tea Room and Lemon Tea Cakes

by Karen Rose Smith


 I’ve visited tea rooms for years. My love of tea and appreciation for teapots, china, and elegant tableware is what led me to write my Daisy’s Tea Garden cozy series. I love to bake and create recipes. Since the first mystery is MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES, I created a lemon tea cake recipe.  Mine is like a lemon sugar cookie and the recipe is included with the mystery. 

Laura Watkins and her mother Nancy run TranquilaTEA Tea Room and Gift Shop in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.  When they heard about my novel, they invited me to tea there for an evening booksigning. 

Their tea room is lovely and filled with country-style as well as elegant quaint decorations and floral arrangements. From the gilded mirror over the mantle to the stylish hats on the wall to their white ironstone tea place settings, everything has a touch of class.

What I enjoyed most besides the delicious food offerings was being able to chat with the tables of readers in between courses.  I learned why they like mysteries and why and how they appreciate tea. 

I came home with a new blend of black tea—chocolate raspberry truffle.  It was difficult to decide with so many to choose from. 

And best of all...  Laura and Nancy created their version of my lemon tea cake and it was scrumptious! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bruce Willis...the other Bruce Willis

         Bruce Wills here. The other Bruce Willis with ears, wagging tail and daily yard-waterer in Lethal In Old Lace and all the Consignment Shop mysteries set in Savannah.

Have you ever noticed all the pets running around in cozies mysteries? And most of them are cats! What the heck? How did that happen? Does a cat greet you at the door, get your slippers, clean the kitchen floor after you spill the bacon and eggs? No! Cats sniff, turn up their nose and prance off.  Dogs have owners, Cats have staff! 

Once upon a time I didn’t have such a great life so I ran away and took up living under Reagan Summerside’s front porch. Don’t know why I chose her. Maybe because at the time Reagan’s life in Savannah sucked almost as much as mine.
But she’s an okay gal, even shared her McNuggets and fries with me but kept the martinis all to herself. I mean to tell you I could do with a martini or two on these hot summer nights.
Reagan has a consignment shop on the first floor of her half-restored Victorian. She and her Auntie KiKi who lives next door were going to name me Calvin Klein to fit in with the upscale clothes she takes in. One look at my mangled left ear, crooked tail and scared snout not to mention my questionable linage and they knew I was much better suited as Bruce Willis.
Life is good right now. Reagan says I’m the worse watchdog on the planet but I sure do make a lot of friends. If I fake a limp I can usually finesse a cookie or two from the customers and if I sit in front of the fridge long enough I get my daily dog…hot dog that is. The warm fall days here in Savannah are just made for me snoozing on the porch and one day I can get a slurp of Reagan’s peach martini.  
So what is your opinion on pets in mysteries? Paw up or down? Do they distract too much from the mystery? Do you like it when they have a point of view? Do you like cats or dogs best in a book? (That’s spelled d-o-g)
Let me know what you think and I’ll have Duffy put you in the drawing for the two Iced Chiffon totes she’s giving away.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Now I Can Relax

by Maggie Sefton

Ahhhhh!  That's the way I feel after submitting all my tax info to C.P.A.  Just like Grayson, one of daughter Christine's family dogs.

I imagine all of you wonderful Cozy Chicks readers and friends are already relaxing at this mid-April point on the calendar.  Now, I can too.  What am I talking about?  Tax Time, of course.  This is the first time I've turned in all my tax info to my C.P.A  at the middle of April.  But, this year 2018 was a little strange.

Starting off with that dreadful, awful, horrible Flu virus, everything seemed to get delayed.  It sent me to our main hospital's ER not just once, but twice! Dreadful.  That Flu totally earned its name as the worst flu virus of the last twenty years.  It knocked me out of my Christmas visit back east with my family.  I had to cancel flights and grab a last minute end-of-the-year flight in order to make it back to Northern Virginia metro DC area the day before daughter Maria's wedding to her best friend John on December 30th.

                                                                                   Wrigley keeping watch.

 Then that Flu started spreading.  Stories came out of cruise ship passengers being hit with it in the middle of their cruises while out to sea.  Yikes!  I love to cruise, but those stories of passengers having to stay in their staterooms and suffer through all the miserable Flu effects alone because there  weren't enough medical staff available to help everyone scared me off.  So, I cancelled my Caribbean cruise scheduled for the end of January.  No thanks.

By now, that Flu has hopefully worked it's way across the country.  I certainly hope so.  And I hope all of you folks have been able to stay healthy.   I also hope you've already filed your income taxes.  :)  

Monday, April 9, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                         

            Spring is almost here (yes, I know it's supposed to be here right now, but the northeast hasn't gotten the memo. There's a bitter wind today with snow predicted this week-end. Oy!)  In spring, my thoughts turn to summer dresses, shorts and tank tops, bathing suits. In other words, there's nowhere to hide.
If you're thinking of losing a few pounds, be sure you don't sabotage your "healthy eating" plans by these sneaky saboteurs. Forewarned is forearmed!

One big diet buster is eating while watching TV.
So tempting and so dangerous. It's easy to be gripped by "automatic eating" when you're engrossed in your favorite TV program. A bowl of nuts or half a bag of chips can disappear in the space of a 30 minute show. It's dangerous because you're focusing on your program and not giving the food your full attention.

Another danger is "grazing." Do you ever walk through the kitchen and mindlessly grab a cookie? Or open the fridge, eat that sliver of pizza that's calling your name? Or grab a few chocolates from the candy dish in the den? It's easy to do and it can defeat your best diet efforts.  The best way to conquer "grazing," is to keep a food journal and write down every morsel you eat. It may seem tedious at first, but it really works to keep your food intake "real." Most people vastly underestimate how many calories they eat every day.

 Eating on the go is equally dangerous. I know you live a fast-paced life, and it's tempting to eat in the car, but try not to.  These hidden calories can really add up and eating while driving rarely leaves you feeling satisfied.

Two other problematic behaviors are skipping meals and snacking. Unless you have the fridge and pantry filled with healthy snacks, it's a bad idea. When you snack, it's easy to make bad food choices in the heat of the moment. And if you're choosing a high carb, sugary snack, it will whet your appetite for more of the same. Think about it, when's the last time you snacked on a nice stalk of broccoli? It's more likely that you chose a donut! 
Keep your weight and blood sugar levels in balance by eating regular meals throughout the day. Set your watch alarm if you need to! And be sure to have a stash of healthy snacks at home, at work and in the car.

Hope these tips help!! And if you have some tips you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.  Happy spring!

Mary Kennedy

Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring is teasing me

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

What the heck happened to spring?  It was supposed to have been here for at least two weeks, but it's back in the 20s at night and low 30s in the day and -- Hey, Mother Nature -- it's APRIL.

It turns out that I have become a hermit -- and it's all winter related.  It's cold? I don't want to go outside. It's snowy? I don't want to go outside. I hate driving in winter. If I can't convince Mr. L to take me somewhere, I don't go.

Of course there are signs of spring.

Daffodil points. I took this picture a week or more ago, so they are actually bigger now.

And look -- our only surviving snowdrops! (We used to have a crowd.)

As soon as the forsythia blooms, then I can cut back the roses. Last year was the first time I did that and WOW -- we had so many more blooms than when we just ignored them. (Whoda thunk it?) My old-fashioned rose was totally out of control. I took almost two hours to cut it back to 18 inches. And guess what?  It grew back to almost the same height as it was when I didn't trim it for over ten years.  Go figure.

But everything is contingent on the forsythia. (And we don't even have forsythia in our yard -- I'm depending on our neighbors bushes to tell me when to prune.)

I bought a new clematis plant the other day.  And we ordered hollyhocks. Can't wait to plant them, too.  Our red hot pokers are up, but will they be eaten by some critter?  We got one flower last year, and instead of being two or three feet tall, it was only about  18 inches tall, which looked rather silly, but we were grateful to have even that flower.

So, what's popping up in your garden?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Watercolor Painting

by Karen Rose Smith

After my dad retired, he took up acrylic and watercolor painting. When he passed on, I kept his paints and decided to try my hand at both. I found I enjoyed the watercolor medium best. There is a challenge in using different kinds of paper, combining colors that take on a life of their own when mixed with water, and creating just the right effect. Life got busy back then, and writing took up more and more of my time. I left the art behind for years.

Paddy and Mason are Halo's "kittens" that
she delivered in my office.
But last year, with my love of cats a major passion, I decided to pick up my brushes again and try feline portraits. For me, the fur is the most difficult aspect. The eyes which are the easiest for me are truly the windows to their souls. Since we have five rescued inside cats (Halo, Paddy, Zoie Joy, Zander and Freya) as well as care for two ferals, I’m constantly around cats.  I love them like children.  I have studied them for hours and hours and constantly photographed them.  That helps when trying to catch their expressions, their fur variations and their beauty.  

Painting with music or an audio book playing in the background is relaxing. I forget about everything else and focus on the cat or cat photo in front of me. Since family and friends are cat lovers too, the watercolor paintings make wonderful presents.

Millie - a friend's feline
Tia - Halo's third "kitten"