Friday, June 22, 2018

BookBub

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

Did you know that you could follow the chicks on BookBub?  Well, not as a group, but at least indivdually.  And did you know you could leave reviews on Bookbub? (And you can recommend books to other readers.  Check out my recommendations.)

What is BookBub?

BookBub is a free service that helps you discover books you'll love through unbeatable deals, handpicked recommendations, and updates from your favorite authors. BookBub doesn't actually sell books.

Why is BookBub important to authors? Because it helps us find new readers. With so many books out there, it's getting harder and harder to be discovered by new readers. But Bookbub lets you find your favorite authors, click on their books, and learn more about them.

Bookbub lets authors contact their followers when they have new books out. But wait! Authors need to have 1000 followers before they can utilize this service. Won't you help me get to 1000 followers?

Just click my name:  Lorraine Bartlett

And you can follow the other Chicks by clicking their names, too!

Mary Kennedy
Karen Rose Smith
Duffy Brown
Maggie Sefton 

Thank you!


Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Tasty Picnic Recipe

by Karen Rose Smith


As we celebrate the beginning of summer, I am always looking for an appropriate recipe to take along when invited to a cookout.  One of my favorites is a recipe I created for my latest release, MURDER WITH CINNAMON SCONES.  Lemon-Pepper Tomato Mozzarella Salad is easy to prepare, tasty and refreshing.  I hope you enjoy it.

Lemon-Pepper Tomato Mozzarella Salad

3-4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to use assorted colors.)

1/4 cup scallions, chopped (These can be omitted or just used as topping depending on your taste.) Use bulb and first inch of green.

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces (It comes in many forms—small or large balls and a log shape, sometimes sliced.)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Mix cherry tomatoes, scallions and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and sea salt.  Stir gently to coat mixture.  Drizzle with oil and then vinegar.  Stir again.  Refrigerate and serve when dinner is ready!


Serves 6 



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS

by Maggie Sefton




Yes, Everyone, the new Kelly Flynn Mystery---DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS---will be released on July 3rd next month.  Four years will have passed in the cast members' lives when this mystery opens, so readers  have moved forward in time.  A lot has happened in everyone's life, so I think readers will be really interested discovering where each character is at this point.



I think readers and fans will enjoy this Kelly Flynn mystery, the 16th in the series.  Several dangling threads will be tied up, so that's always enjoyable to explore.  Again---July 3rd is the release date for DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS.  I hope you all give it a try and enjoy it.  :)





 

Monday, June 18, 2018

CRAZY FOR CATNIP

By Mary Kennedy
                                                                             
                                                                           

The Kennedy cats are crazy for catnip. I don't have to wonder what to buy them for birthdays, Christmas, graduation (okay, just kidding about graduation.) Catnip is always a welcome gift, right up there with tuna fish (packed in water, dolphin safe. They're fussy about the environment.)

In case you're wondering what the gadget is above, it's a "Catnip Cyclone." You pour catnip in the center (which lasts about 3 minutes) and the cats love to bat the ping pong ball around. It's designed so that it never comes out of the bowl. This is one of their favorite toys!

But back to catnip. Did you know that you can buy catnip plants and grow your own?
                                                                     
 It costs $4 or $5 dollars for a nice-sized plant and will grow in any sunny location. Just keep picking the leaves, dry them and voila--your very own catnip!  Warning: if you have outdoor cats or feed feral cats, they will devour the plant immediately. I bought some catnip plants at Lowe's, left them on the sun porch by mistake, and well, that was the end of the catnip!

Only 50% of cats react to catnip. I was surprised to read that, because all my cats love it. It seems to have addictive qualities. Think of the last time you saw a cat on catnip. It's like that old ad, "This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs." My cats go slightly nuts over it.

                                                                       
     
Once I had a very clever cat named Lucky who got into the kitchen cupboard and helped herself to a whole bag (sealed!) of catnip. When I came home, she'd take the bag to the upstairs bathroom and turned the place into what looked like an opium den. Catnip all over the floor, cats lolling about with glazed eyes and slack expressions.
                                                                             
 

And catnip comes in many forms. You can buy catnip mice, for example.
                                                                       
                                                                         


even a catnip shark!                                            
                                                                             
And a catnip banana, which is one of my cats' fave toys.
                                                                         
For the yuppie cats, there's even catnip sushi! 
                                                                                 

And most important of all, if you have a problem with your cats digging the furniture, be sure to get a scratching pad and sprinkle catnip on it, to encourage them to use it.
                                                                                         
So the next time you're wondering how to celebrate an important event in your cat's life, go for catnip!! They'll love it. Or at least there's a 50-50 chance they will love it.

Mary Kennedy



Friday, June 15, 2018

Going to the Strawberry Festival

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

You have to admit, a strawberry is a pretty (and I mean that literally) photogenic fruit.

Every year, Mr. L and I go to a local Strawberry Festival. 



There's only one thing wrong.

I HATE STRAWBERRIES.

To make a long story short, when I was about 8, I was home sick from school and barfing. But, being a good Mum, mine made me some Jell-O, because when you're sick, you should keep up your fluids, and Jell-O is easy on the tummy.

My Mum made strawberry Jell-O.

What went in, soon came out. Since that day, the idea of eating strawberries (and even just the smell of strawberries) makes me nauseous.

Everybody I know loves strawberries. They're beautiful. I have made strawberry recipes for other people, but I can't stand them.

So, why do I go to the Strawberry Festival?

Fried dough.  One of the churches sells it. So, Mr. L. gets strawberry shortcake and I get fried dough and we're both happy.

So, bring on that Strawberry Festival!

Have you ever been to a festival for something you can't stand?



Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Visit to Amish Country

by Karen Rose Smith



My latest cozy mystery series, Daisy's Tea Garden, is set in Lancaster County's Amish country.  I started book 4 in the series last week and I needed to soak in the atmosphere of this pastoral farm country to add sparkle and freshness to the novel.  At first my husband and I just drove around the back roads circling Smoketown and Bird In Hand.


As a reminder of how hard Amish farmers work, we spotted this farmer preparing his fields.  He was using six mules.  Imagine handling the mules, let alone tilling the fields.  Also consider how much longer this takes to prepare the land this way rather than the "English" way.






We drove along with and behind a few buggies.  I have to think the Amish take their life in their hands every time they venture onto roads with SUV's practically larger than the buggies! Most of them are outfitted with the hazard sign and reflectors.  At some lengths of road, there is a separate lane for the horses and buggies.  In the photo at the start of the blog, the buggy is open.  From my research I learned this is a "courting" buggy. 

When I was a teenager, my uncle bought an Amish buggy.  Back then, roads around York County led through farms.  I don't know if he was experimenting or just wanted to experience how a buggy resembled the surrey of old.  With the buggy, he purchased a Standardbred horse.  These horses--his was named Jo Jo--are trotters who are trained to pull a buggy.  They are amazing as they trot along, ignoring traffic, just doing their work--pulling their master and his family.




There is a spot where we like to stop in Intercourse, a small town in the heart of Amish country. Kettle Village is made up of craft and homemade food stands.  These Amish dolls caught my attention.  They are made from a wooden ball and clothespins. 



Amish furniture is handcrafted and beautifully made. This pale blue island drew me to it.  My dad did woodwork as a hobby so I've always been interested in it.  In my series, Daisy is dating a former detective who now owns a furniture store--WOODS--in Willow Creek, right down the street from Daisy's Tea Garden.






I hope you've enjoyed this tour of Lancaster County's Amish country.  This drive always takes me back to a simpler time when life wasn't so frantic and hurried. If you're ever in Pennsylvania, stopping in this area is definitely worth your time.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The one that got away

And I’m talking cars here.
I love my car. It’s a red Toyota RAV4. I know, you don’t really love things but it’s my car and my bff. I mean it takes me where I want to go no questions asked, gets me there in comfort, plays music or the news to keep me entertained and even warns me when it needs more fuel.


And this is not my only bff, I’ve had other. There my grandfather’s bff, a little brown Buick back in 1962. I learned to drive on that car and drove it all over the place till I got my very own car.
A yellow 1968 Camero with a black vinyl top. Now there was a car, a really fast car. I got so many speeding tickets with that thing I nearly lost my license. I had it for many years till I got married and had kids and then driving a little yellow very fast Camero was not a good idea so I traded it in.
For me this was the car that got away. The car I sold and shouldn’t have. Yeah, I love my RAV4 but it is not a super fast Camero. So my question to you is, do you have a car that you regretted getting rid of? One you miss like a BFF gone forever?   

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Look Up! You May Be Able to Spot the Space Station

by Maggie Sefton










NASA Astronaut daughter Serena blasted off on a Russian rocket last Wednesday bound for the International Space Station---ISS.  Her two crew mates who shared the Soyuz capsule with her are Russian Cosmonaut Kasparov and European Space Agency---ESA---scientist Gerst from Germany.





I watched the launch from the NASA viewing room up above the main floor where rows and rows of computers and NASA scientists and engineers sit.  We've all seen that room on our TV screens at home whenever there's news from NASA.  Two days later, all of the family and friends of Serena gathered again to watch the hatch opening between of the ISS and the Soyuz.  That's when Serena and crew mates floated from the Soyuz into the ISS.  It's fascinating to watch the new crew and the 3-man crew who were already on the ISS to watch the weightless movements.

I'm posting above a video of the launch.  And I'll continue to post photos on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, June 11, 2018

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, STORYTELLER EXTRAORDINAIRE

By Mary Kennedy
                                                                           
 

Like his fans everywhere, I was shocked and saddened by Anthony Bourdain's tragic death. He was 61 and had accomplished so much from his humble beginnings as a dishwasher in Hell's Kitchen.  He said his two years as a dishwasher taught him more about life than any other job he'd ever had.

He was a man of contradictions. The fact is, he wasn't as rough around the edges as he pretended. He went to Vassar, wrote for The New Yorker and could speak knowledgeably about art, history and politics. And of course, travel and food, his two passions. To Bourdain, food was a way of learning about a foreign culture. He always said that if you went to Paris and ate at McDonald's, there was something wrong with you.
                                                                           

I read KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL and loved the behind the scenes look at the restaurant business. The book was inspired by a piece he'd written for The New Yorker, a piece that had generated some controversy. He revealed some inside "secrets" he shared with his readers. For example, he advised never ordering fish on Monday in a restaurant. It wouldn't be fresh and would have been stored in the freezer over the weekend.
                                                                           

And he also drew the ire of restauranteurs went he disclosed that the roll basket "had probably been recycled."  They weren't fresh rolls delivered to your table; they'd been picked over by other diners.
He often said that he had "the best job in the world." The success of Kitchen Confidential had launched him into stardom at age 44 with the wildly popular Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown television show and he had fans around the globe. 

                                                                                


I was always impressed at how relaxed and personable he was on camera. He could talk to celeb chefs like Nigella Lawson and Eric Ripert as well as a poor mother of five in Cuba and even Barack Obama in a noodle house in Hanoi. The talk ventured beyond food and covered culture, philosophy, art, history and politics. Anthony Bourdain was genuinely interested in everyone he chatted with and wanted to know about their lives.  He was witty, relaxed, genuine and articulate. And never self-important. His self-deprecating humor was part of his charm.

He had a full life, but he was exhausted. He traveled 250 days of the year, which took a tremendous toll on his body and spirit. The workload was grueling, but he wasn't ready to retire.

There is no explanation for why he took his life and the tragedy will live on for his friends, family, fans and those who loved him. Anthony Bourdain will be remembered as a brilliant raconteur and he will be missed.

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, June 9, 2018

It's all about the friendships


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

It's great to visit friends you haven't seen in a while, and that's who I feel about The Lotus Bay Mysteries. I wish I could visit all my characters more often, but when you're juggling five (or is it six?) series, it gets hard.

But I have a soft spot on The Lotus Bay Mysteries, and that's because they're a a little different than my other more traditional cozy mysteries. There's something a little more edgy about the crimes, and the spotlight is thrown on the four (and possibly five) women entrepreneurs and their relationships.

Things aren't necessarily good among them in this next outing, A REEL CATCH (out August 3rd). They're tested. And it isn't the established friendship between Tori Cannon and her BFF, Kathy Grant, that's in trouble. They may bicker a bit, but there will never be any real problems between them.

But what about the friendships they have with Kathy's contractor, Anissa Jackons? How about with Noreen Darcy, the part-owner and short-order cook for The Bay Bay. And what secrets does Lucinda Bloomfield, the richest woman in the county have to hide?

Here's the official description:
Swans Nest Inn is about to open, and Kathy Grant solicits her BFF, Tori Cannon, to help spruce up her property at the marshy end of Lotus Bay, only they didn’t count on finding a body. Who was he? What’s his connection to their friend Paul Darcy? Meanwhile, two entrepreneurs with vast business ties are interested in helping Tori reopen the Lotus Lodge, and their real motives are as murky as the bay after a storm. Will Swans Nest open on time? Will the Lotus Lodge reopen at all?

A REEL CATCH will be available on August 3rd. It's available for pre-order right now!

Kindle US  |  Kindle Worldwide  |  Nook  | iBooks  | Kobo

The book will be available in print and (crossing fingers) audio on August 3rd, too.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Chalk it up

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

I watch a lot of Youtube videos on a variety of subjects. I like to watch DIY ones, especially about furniture refinishing. These days, a lot of DIYers are using chalk paint. Hmm. That sounded interesting. No sanding!  YAY! But man, have you seen the price for a quart? It can be as expensive as $30+!!!

What do to? I went to Etsy and found you could get sample pots of paint. I got five of them for $20. Of course, I got charged $7 for shipping, but they arrived in less than a week and I wasn't sure what to do with them. The site didn't show you the colors, just listed the names, so I chose what I thought would be "cool" colors. The ivory and sage green work best for me.



So far I've done three projects.  Yeah, no sanding. But what they don't tell you is that you need to do at least three coats of paint for everything. And then they have to be sealed with either wax or some of polyurethane product. Hmmm. For the first one, I decided to distress the little picture frame. It's plastic and looked way too shiny.



(FYI: This little framed piece of lace in the frame is about 5 inches across -- and it hangs on the nail that supports my calendar.)

Here's the second project.



Again, the frame was resin, and I just didn't like how shiny they were. I decided not to distress these.

I did one more project but it got scratched (I should have put more than one coat of the varnish on) so I have to start over on that one.  (It's the lid to a large glass (square) jar. I painted it sage green to make it look older and it worked. But like I said, now I have to start over.)

So, what do I think of chalk paint? It's a pain in the butt to use. It's time consuming, it has to be sealed or it scraches right off. Right after I bought the paint, I saw a blog post from a woman who is gutting and revamping her house (by herself!!!) and she wrote a long treatise on why she doesn't like/use chalk paint. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I'd found that blog post first.  But now I have all that paint and I feel obligated to use it up.  Oh, and by the way, a little goes a L-O-N-G way.

I've got a gold mirror (also plastic) that I thought I would like, but never did. I'm going to paint it ivory and distress it and I'll bet I still have a lot of paint left. How eager am I to start that project? Not so much. But it will be done later this summer. 

Last weekend I bought a little shelf. It was in pretty rough shape, but I scrubbed it clean, bought a can of spray paint, and now it's very cute and will house some of my cookbooks.

Wow.  Spray paint is a lot easier to use. The paint hardens and is good for years and years. (Oops -- sorry. this is actualy the before picture. I forgot to take the after.)

So, what's your latest DIY project? Did it come out the way you thought it would?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Meet Cupboard Maker Books Adorable Cats!!!

by Karen Rose Smith

I had the most fun at a bookstore book signing than I’ve ever had. Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, Pennsylvania, is an adoption center for cats.  Castaway Critters in Mechanicsburg is a cat rescue organization.  Cats that are rescued are placed in foster homes.  Then the book store manager at Cupboard Maker books (Michelle) houses a few until they’re adopted.  There is a screening process.

About the cats...  My husband and I are cat parents to 5 inside cats and 2 outside felines that are still feral.  So our house is full.  But there were two cats up for adoption I would have loved to bring home.

Walter, gray and white, is a friendly male who came to sit on the signing table with me.  After smelling my hand, he decided he could be affectionate.  He is ready for adoption.








Hope, a multi-colored tabby, stole my heart and my husband’s.  She’s 6-8 months old.  She was found on the streets of Harrisburg after she had a litter of kittens.  She needed to gain weight before being spayed and is now at a healthy weight.  She’s soooo affectionate.  While I was signing, she jumped in my lap.  For much of the book signing, she sat on my husband’s lap at the back of the store. She also stole my pillow and didn't want to climb off before we left.


Squeeky is a store cat who lives at Cupboard Maker all the time. 






Princess, a Persian who thinks she owns the place and travels across the catwalk above the bookshelves, is definitely royalty and also a permanent resident. She looks like a little lion. 


If you are ever around Enola, PA, stop in at Cupboard Maker Books and enjoy a totally different bookstore atmosphere. And adopt a people-friendly feline!


Guess what section this photo was from!