Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Launch Day….

Hi, Everyone!!

Duffy Brown here and I’m so excited because today is launch day for Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks. 

Tea Time is a chance for you to have a tea party with some of the fictional characters from Ellery Adams, Lorraine Bartlett, Duffy Brown, Kate Collins, Mary Kennedy, Mary Jane Maffini, Maggie Sefton and Leann Sweeney cozy mystery books. 

 Tea Time is filled with great tea party themes, such as a Bon Voyage tea, bachelorette tea, proper Yorkshire Tea, Chocolate Lovers tea etc. There are menus and recipes included, and all hosted by our characters  to add to the fun.  

In Tea Time with The Cozy Chicks you’ll find menu themes to cover celebrations as well as those more intimate moments between close friends or romantic partners.  There are tips on setting the perfect table, fun ideas on decorations, where to get cute and unusual invitations, how to make your own if you like, great suggestions on gifts, prizes and things to share at your party. 

In a nutshell Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks is the way to have fun with friends and take the stress out of coming up with all the ideas on your own. It’s always fun to have a girl’s night…or afternoon…out and Tea Time takes away the stress and lets the host have fun too.

Here is an added recipe that you won’t find in the Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks book but that gives you an idea of what’s included. Auntie KiKi is a character from my Consignment Shop mysteries set in Savannah and this is a fun and easy Southern candy recipe that Auntie KiKy would use and it’s just for you:

Auntie KiKi’s Easy Turtles

4 oz. pecan halves
24 unwrapped Kraft Caramels
1 tsp. shortening
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
5-6 Heath bars, crunched up for topping

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Cover cookies sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side exposed. Lightly grease foil with vegetable oil spray. Place 3 pecan halves in a Y shape on the foil. Place 1 caramel candy in the center of each Y. Bake just until caramel is melted, about 9 to 10 minutes.
Heat shortening and chocolate chips over low heat just until chocolate is melted. Spread over candies, sprinkle with Heath bars and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

And you’ll find a ton of other recipes and an a list of tea themes like tea-paring, tea stories, reading tea leaves and making your own tea blends. So are you a tea person? Got a fav tea? Have you ever had a tea party…as an adult or kid…and have you ever gone to high tea?

Share some of you tea experiences and I’ll give away two adorable tea bag holders and delis peach tea from the answers.

And now…it’s tea time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Catching Up

by Maggie Sefton

St. Pete's Beach, Florida----

I just returned to my home here in Fort Collins, Colorado late Monday night,  so I am
going to post a little news and several photos for my Cozy Chicks Blog post today.

Don't forget----today is the day the Cozy Chicks Tea Book is available on Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.

These last two weeks have been super busy and exhausting starting with a week Back East in
Northern Virginia for a family gathering and burial of my mother's ashes (cremains) in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  And these  past five days I've been in St. Pete's Beach, Florida (near Tampa) for the Novelists' Inc conference which was excellent.

We had great weather on the West Coast side of Florida where St. Pete's Beach is (near Tampa).  Sunshine and temps in high 70s.  Perfect for the first few days of October!

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Hair Products BUSTED! (sob)

by Kate Collins
No wonder my hair serum stops working an hour after I use it. No wonder I have to keep reapplying it, only to have my hair frizz again.

I finally have an answer – and I feel so deceived.

I just threw out four different moisturizing/anti-frizz products, cleaned them right out of my cabinets, wrapped them in a bag, and dropped them in the garbage can. (You can see them ready to go out in the photo.) Sadly, I can’t even empty these products down the drain to recycle the plastic bottles because the chemicals that coat the hair are terrible for the environment. They never break down. Never ever. They’re plastic.

They also suffocate the hair. So you think you’re sealing out moisture, but actually you are coating it so it dies on the inside. And one of my products was even called “Moroccan Argan Oil.”  See why I feel deceived? The oil was just part of the product.

I discovered this hair care secret in an article on one of my new favorite websites, “mindbodygreen.”  According to the author, “Temporarily smoothing and coating with silicones makes the hair appear shiny and healthy, but the miraculous effects are misleading . . .Over time, silicone (watch out for common silicone derivatives like dimethicone and other ingredients ending in -cone) builds up on hair and actually causes breakage.”

So I checked the ingredients on all my moisturizing products and BAM. There were all those silicones and other “cone” chemicals. By the way, they also damage the scalp by stripping it of moisture, too. And watch out for sulfates, which are

So now I’m reading the labels of all my shampoo and conditioners before I buy them. As the author says, “Natural ingredients are gentle and intelligent. Pure, clean, skillfully formulated products don’t rely on synthetic chemical softening and absorption. They work in natural alignment with the body; it’s a "bio-match."

Unless the product is 100% oil, I’ll bet anything the products in your cabinet have a silicone product in them. And if they do, your only option is to bag it and throw it away, where it will molder in a huge garbage dump for eons. Silicones are water insoluble and aren't biodegradable, which means you don’t want to wash them down your drain and into the water supply, oceans, lakes, and rivers, where your children will drink them one day.

For now, I think I’ll just use coconut or olive oil on the ends. I know they’re natural.

Go check your cabinet. Did you find any silicones? Do you have a good natural product to recommend?


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Blood Loss and Organ Damage

by Leann

It's been a rough week. But for me, it is nothing compared to the loss of the families in Oregon because of another mass shooting. Yes, guns again. And yet we cling to them as if they would save us. I will not debate guns and their management with anyone. It is ridiculous to do so. If you choose to argue, I will not change your mind. No amount of dead children will change your mind.

 I am stating my opinion and my opinion is that I have always and will always hate guns. Period. As someone on twitter so eloquently said, when we did nothing about gun control, mental health reform, and lack of continuity across the states as far as laws involving all these things after Sandy Hook and the horrific death of tiny children, we all should have realized nothing would ever change.

We also lost victims to a hospital bombing in Afghanistan Saturday. Innocent people blown away far from us, but because of us. Yes, we did it. Humans are a violent species and that is perhaps why I write about them. I am trying to understand, to shed light, to show exactly why we must hurt each other. What would one of our wonderful presidential candidates have to say after we again were witness to mass murder? "Stuff happens." I believe he reflected what many may have thought when they heard the Oregon story. Stuff happens. How sad, how horribly sad.

These are big issues, I know, and things I do not normally speak about in public. My intent is not to alienate people. We are free to say what we want in this country, so today I am exercising that right. I do not want to go numb to what we have created, all of us, by not taking a stand. Being part of the silent majority solves nothing except to contribute to collective anomie. I don't like it and yet I feel myself being sucked into that black hole of feeling helpless and alone.

In the words written by my son-in-law and his writing partner (Jeffrey Cranor and Jospeh Fink) I would like to remind everyone that "guns don't kill people, blood loss and organ damage do." If you change what you tell yourself, switch it around like they so brilliantly did, perhaps there is hope that you will no longer accept what we are doing to ourselves, to our children and to all those who may come after. We are accepting the unacceptable.

Do not write hateful things in the comment section. If I have to live in a world with guns, please, in turn, respect the words I send out into the world. Those words, after all, won't kill you.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


by Mary Kennedy
Saboteur: someone who destroys or damages something deliberately. When you think of a saboteur, you picture someone deadly, menacing, dangerous. But if you were your own diet saboteur? Is that possible? Is it possible to derail your diet with muddled thinking and poor food choices? Here are a few "lies we tell ourselves" when it comes to dieting and healthy eating.

1. "I eat healthy." Um, okay, maybe you do, but are you watching the total calorie count of the healthy foods you eat? One innocent-looking bowl of granola can contain 400 calories!
2. "It's a special occasion. I have to celebrate!"
      Maybe so, but did you know one piece of birthday cake has 396 calories? Your birthday only comes once a year, but are you "celebrating" a lot of other people's birthdays? (and anniversaries and graduations and christenings and weddings...)
  3. "I exercise, so I can get away with the occasional treat." The sad truth is that exercise may not burn as many calories as you think. Here are a few depressing examples.                                                      
Three Oreo cookies contain 160 calories. Considering that most people burn off 100 calories by walking a mile (this number varies by how fast you walk and how much you weigh), you would have to walk a mile and a half to burn off this tasty treat.
Another fun fact. A Krispy Kreme glazed donut contains 190 calories. You would have to mow the lawn for 26 minutes to burn it off.
And pepperoni pizza? One slice equals 324 calories. Hope you're in the mood for a bike ride because it will take 30 minutes to burn it off.
Potato chips are another way to wreck your diet. No wonder they say, "You can't eat just one." You would have to exercise for 12 minutes to burn off the calories in 15 potato chips.
The key of course, is moderation. And also awareness. A recent study showed that when college cafeterias started posting calorie counts on foods (along with how much exercise it takes to burn them off), students started making healthier choices. You can, too! No need to be obsessive about it. Just stop and think before you reach for that "treat." As one of my friends always says, "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." If you're going to indulge in something that falls into the "junk food" variety, make sure you make healthier choices the rest of the day. And sneak in a quick walk that evening. Everything can balance out, but you have to plan carefully.
Good luck!!
Mary Kennedy

Friday, October 2, 2015

You're invited ...

If your dance card isn't full on October 15th, we'd love for you to join us for a virtual tea party ...

The Cozy Chicks Set a Pretty Table.

We'll be celebrating the publication of our latest group project, Tea Time With The Cozy Chicks, and we're hosting our own virtual tea party on Facebook.

Haven't joined our Facebook Group yet?  You can do it by clicking this link.

Register for our October 15th event by clicking this link!

And did we mention PRIZES?

Just a few of the prizes we'll be giving away!

Will we see you there?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Have you preordered YOUR copy?

The Cozy Chicks realized that tea was such a perfect complement to cozy mysteries that we decided to write a book about it. Not only does Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks have delicious recipes, but it also includes themed tea menus, fascinating articles, fun facts, curious quotes, and helpful hints on how to host the most memorable tea parties ever! And for an extra treat, a few of us have included excerpts of our work as well! Read, cook, drink tea, savor, and most of all enjoy!

Trade Paperback  |  Kindle US  |  Kindle Worldwide

Kobo  |  Nook  |  iBooks  |  Smashwords

Tea Time With The Cozy Chicks will be available on Tuesday, October 6th!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ellery's Tea-Themed Mystery Cozy Contest

Hosted By Ellery Adams

It's the first of the month! Time for another mystery cozy contest. This month will be a little different because this month is all about tea! To celebrate the October 6th launch of our new book, Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks, I'm giving away copies to two lucky readers.

This is how it works: I post a few lines from a cozy mystery. You post the title and author in the comment section. Then, I'll draw a random name from the winning guesses and post that person's name on this page and on Facebook by 10 p.m. on October 2nd.

Okay, here we go! Here are the lines from this month's mystery cozy:

"There was a cheerful rattle and clink of china. Normality returned. Tea! Blessed ordinary everyday afternoon tea! "

Ellery's helpful hint - This book's original title was not at all politically correct. In my opinion, it's one of the best mysteries ever written. 

About our tea book: We realized that tea was such a perfect complement to cozy mysteries that we decided to write a book about it. Not only does Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks have delicious recipes, but it also includes themed tea menus, fascinating articles, fun facts, curious quotes, and helpful hints on how to host the most memorable tea parties ever! And for an extra treat, a few of us have included excerpts of our work as well!

If you don't win a copy, pop back and preorder your own copy. Trust me, you're going to want to own this gem!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

All Aboard!!

Duffy Brown here and this weekend I’m taking a train trip...a mystery train trip with another author and 50 cody mystery readers. It’s Murder on the Toledo Express!!!

I love mysteries, I love plays, I looooove lunch out with friends and doing it all with mystery readers while chugging along on a train is the icing on the cake.

Train travel is the best. Okay Murder on the Toledo Express isn’t exactly train travel, it’s more train fun but I’m really a sucker for trains. They may be slower than airplanes but considering that I can keep my shoes and jacket on and not hoist my luggage onto a conveyer and hope I haven’t packed anything that’s going to get me in trouble I’ll take the train.

And then there are extra perks like an actual dining car with real food. And the scenery! Clouds are nice but once you get above them it’s a floor of white, lots of white and that’s it till you land. 

The scenery on a train is amazing! I took a train from London to Scotland some years ago and it was fantastic.  The train followed the coast, passed though small towns then onto the North Sea. That was some ride.

In Europe they have bullet trains that zoom along over 180mph. They are amazing and smooth and really comfy and get you from one place to another in record time and for little money. I so want the US to have more trains. I just love the things.

So what about you? Are you a train lover like me? Hope the US wakes up and gets onboard the bullet train craze like the rest of the world? Have you taken a train lately and did you love it?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Family Gathering. . . Again

by Maggie Sefton

There are all sorts of family gatherings most of us participate in.  It doesn't matter if it's a small gathering of one parent and one child or both parents and several children.  If we're lucky, we each get a chance to include grandparents in these gatherings.  I've watched the interactions of my four daughters with their grandparents over the years.  Each daughter has a unique relationship with a grandparent.

I was fortunate to grow up with my maternal grandmother in my home with my Mom and me.  She was born in 1890 and brought a unique and fascinating presence.  She was also the Family Storyteller.  Maybe that's why I became a novelist.  Maybe it has something to do with sitting with my grandmother and listening to stories of how life was back "in the old days."  :)  

My daughters were fortunate to have my mother as their grandmother and have her included in their lives.  She loved all her grandchildren to the max.  Including my step-father's two daughters Margie & Judy.  Both of them mentioned it at the simple service we had for my mother's burial
last Friday.  Both of them often told me how important it was for my mother to "show up" in their lives when they were children and early teens.  Their own mother was sick most of their lives and spent many years outside their home in the care of various healthcare facilities.  So, Mom got to "mother" several girls.  

Last Friday, our family gathered at the beautiful Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC.  After meeting at the St. Paul's Center building right inside the cemetery, we all drove the short distance to the gravesite.  There, the lovely and caring female Episcopal rector read a Bible verse as we all gathered in a large circle around the site where they'd placed the pretty solid brass urn with Mom's ashes or cremains as they call them.  After she started with a welcome and the verse, all of us took turns sharing treasured memories or thoughts about my mother and how she had impacted our lives.  It was very, very lovely and quite meaningful.  A beautiful hazy sunny day with temps in low 70s.  Perfect.  Her gravesite is right beside my stepfather Stetson, both shaded by big trees.

I choose to believe that my mother's spirit is among us.  But I've always been one of those hanging on by my fingertips to the "Spirituality" branch of a tree.  :)   If it's true that our Spirit is "out and about" then I certainly hope my mother starts exploring.  Mom always loved to travel.  :)    

Monday, September 28, 2015


by Kate Collins

We all want to be happy, successful, and have good health, but can we have all three at once?

I came across this list on the website “mindbodygreen” ( and found it interesting enough to prompt a little self-evaluating. Happily, I discovered I’ve got a handle on most of them, and I’m especially strong on #2, 10, 15, and 19, but there are a few areas that need work, such as #6, #20 and – well, let’s just leave it at that.

How do you measure up?

25 Habits of Happy, Healthy, Successful People

1. They don’t hold grudges.

2. They think outside of the box.

3. They go by a routine and make exercise a part of it. It takes practice to develop healthy habits and stick with them. Once you do, your internal foundation will be strong.

4. They have a supportive tribe, thereby not wasting time with negative or toxic people.

5. They don’t care about what other people think. Does a tiger lose sleep over the opinion of sheep?

6. They don’t people please.

7. They see difficult and challenging situations as opportunities for personal growth.

8. They consider handling rejection a skill and are resilient.

9. They make time for themselves. Whether it’s getting eight hours of sleep every night, finding 15 minutes to read the newspaper in peace or an hour to go to the gym, they make it a priority — just like everything else. When you take care of yourself, you have a bigger impact on others.

10. They are spiritual. This doesn't necessarily mean religious. It could mean setting aside time for reflection through yoga or meditation.

11. They practice deep breathing.

12. They know there isn’t such a thing as “having it all,” and they’re happy about that. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place for them otherwise?

13. Fear doesn't hold them back. They're ready to take risks.

14. They know how to say “NO,” and don’t hold back. These people have learned to set boundaries. Plenty of them.

15. They learned a great deal from other people whom they admire. Either they had a great mentor, or they took note of how those they aspired to be like handled various situations.

16. They follow their inner guidance. Not only do they have a vision, but they follow it.

17. They give without expecting anything in return.

18. They aren't pretentious or conceited.

19. Passion is what drives them. They authentically believe in what they're doing. 

20. They don't complain.

21. They live by their core values in both their professional and personal lives.

22. They're happy to swim against the tide.

23. They finish what they start.

24. They don't compare themselves to other people.

25. They want you to succeed, too.

Now it's time to 'fess up. Do you have areas that need work?  Do you think being all three is possible?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nurses United and it was Awesome!

by Leann

About two weeks ago, I was watching a daytime TV show and was pretty offended by two of the hosts on The View. I had only started watching the show again because I thought it would be better than it has been in several years. Let's just say I've been wrong a lot in my life. This was no exception.

This all started out with a piece they were doing on the Miss America Pageant. May I first say that I am not a fan of women being forced to have their bodies ogled by a panel of "judges" these days. I wasn't as enlightened as a girl. I used to love it. The saving grace of this pageant is that there are scholarships involved. It's not a "Trump" thing and that's even more appealing. So what do the women of The View have to go and do? Make fun of a bright, articulate young woman whose talent was to talk about being a nurse and what it meant to her.

Never make an old nurse mad. Never make young nurses mad. Never, ever make nurses all over the world mad. For the most part, we are quiet about what we do--or in my case what I did, as I am retired. The comments that drew the ire of this group of dedicated, educated, compassionate professionals? #1 is that the nurse contestant wore a "costume" on stage (her scrubs) and #2 that she was wearing "a doctor's stethoscope" around her neck and they wondered why. 

I was invited the next day to join a facebook group called "show me your stethoscope." At the time I joined, there were more than 300K members already. As of right now, that number is about 818K. I do believe they poked the bear. If you go to that particular facebook page you will read some amazing and articulate stuff from nurses and many other health professionals. Sponsors were lost for that show and what seemed to me to be half-hearted apologies were given. Meanwhile, over on the Ellen Show, before all this went nuts on social media, Ellen had the nurse contestant, Miss Colorado, on HER show. She praised her and added another 10K to the money Miss Colorado already won so she could go on to graduate school. Nice. But nicer than that, for me, was to see nurses unite and speak up for their profession. Nurses roared!

I've always believed in a couple things--one of them being that you will see a cow every day in your life in one form or another. (I know. Random, but true). The other is that one day you will be cared for by a nurse. You will see him or her for far more minutes, hours or days than you will ever see a doctor. Nurses are just as smart and do a far different job than doctors. It would take too long to explain the differences, but there are many. And that nurse who will help you through what might be the darkest moments in your life will have her own stethoscope--probably the 6th one she's bought since doctors believe ours are free for the taking!

Saturday, September 26, 2015


By Mary Kennedy

When I was in Paris last month, I was faced with some tantalizing decisions. What should I order for lunch in a French bistro?
Of course, there was the classic French sandwich.  Brie cheese on a baguette...definitely a contender and one of my favorites.
Or onion soup, topped with melted cheese and a nice slice of French bread.
But the most interesting choice was a Croque Monsieur.  You can find these everywhere in Paris and they're delicious for lunch or a snack. Or you can make your own, and I'll tell you how.
8 slices white bread
1/2 stick butter
4 slices ham
4 slices gruyere cheese
2 eggs
1 Tablespooon water
salt and pepper.
Spread the bread with some softened butter and make 4 sandwiches, each with one slice of ham and one slice of cheese (since I'm a vegetarian, I leave out the ham and do double cheese).
Beat the eggs with the water, add salt and pepper and dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture. Be sure to coat both sides.
Heat the remaining butter in a heavy skillet and fry the sandwiches for about 6 or 7 minutes, turning once. Add a nice green salad with vinaigrette and you can pretend you're lunching in Paris. Okay it won't be exactly the same but you can always play a little Edith Piaf and use your imagination...
And to top it off, a couple of marrons for dessert.

Bon appetit!

Mary Kennedy