Tuesday, April 23, 2019

by Maggie Sefton


Japanese Cherry Blossom trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.  


There's nothing like the holidays to provide an opportunity for people to gather in various and sundry groups---some made up of relatives, while others gather with old friends who are like family.  That later description aptly describes my Family/Friends groups.  I'm presently where I fondly call "Back East" which for me is the ever-expanding Northern Virginia area across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.  I arrived last Friday, so I could join family for an Easter Dinner at my oldest daughter's home in Vienna, Virginia.  My second oldest daughter, Melissa, was also there.  She's the Traveling One and will be leaving this week for a couple of months back in Fort Collins, Colorado,  her old hometown.  Daughters Serena and Maria are both traveling in the U.S. and other places with their families for Spring Break getaways.

I love Spring Break travel, especially when I can return to this Northern Virginia area.  The Japanese Cherry Blossom trees are always in full bloom and are gorgeously pink.  :)  I'll also be visiting my dear friends from childhood in Arlington, Northern Virginia----sisters Nancy and Diane and their husbands Tom and Les.  Those visits are always special and I really look forward to them.   Diane and I will also participate in one of our favorite charity efforts---buying tickets to this year's  Fairfax County Garden Show and house tour.  Visiting some of the beautifully decorated designer homes in the Fairfax, Virginia area is always a treat.

Have any of you visited garden or house tours in your areas?      

Friday, April 19, 2019

My Easter Dessert Suggestion

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

The best part of holidays for me is ... the food. It's so enjoyable to share a wonderful meal with friends and/or family, and this year for Easter we're going traditional with a spiral ham, deviled eggs, honeyed carrots, rolls, and at least one more fresh veggie. We'll see what's at the store tomorrow.

But my favorite part of the meal is the dessert.  Okay, I've got a sweet tooth. This year, I'm leaning toward cake. My upcoming book, The Best From Swans Nest, a Lotus Bay Cookbook, has ten cake recipes and five frosting recipes. YUM! I'm leaning toward making spice cake with maple frosting. (That maple frosting also takes great with carrot cake or hummingbird cake. Yum-yum!)

Spice Cake
Ingredients
¼ cup butter or ½ cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark-brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup molasses
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, Gas Mark 4). Butter and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Cream the butter or shortening and slowly add the two sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the milk and molasses, beating thoroughly. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the wet mixture, beating until well blended. Pour the batter into the pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese or buttercream frosting. Also tastes great with maple or caramel frosting, or sift confectioners’ sugar over the top.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

Maple Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Place the softened butter in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 30 to 40 seconds until whipped. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Sift the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 30 to 40 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the brown sugar and maple syrup. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the walnuts until just until mixed and spread on the cooled cake.

Yield: 3 cups

THE BEST FROM SWANS NEST arrives on May 14th. Pre-order your copy now!





Thursday, April 18, 2019

Old Fashioned Coconut Cake for Easter

by Karen Rose Smith


I like "old fashioned" baking, I remember the dense cakes my mom and grandma baked from scratch.  Using that principal, I developed this recipe for coconut cake for my sleuth's sister to make in SHADES OF WRATH.  The ingredients that make this cake special are the coconut oil and coconut milk.  They give it that old-fashioned flavor.  You can dress this cake up for a special dinner (like Easter!) by making it a layer cake.  I use colorful sprinkles on a flaky coconut icing.  Or you can bake it in a sheet pan for a more casual approach.  Either way, you will create a delightful holiday dessert.



Bella's Old Fashioned Coconut Cake

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1/2 cup solid coconut oil
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
5 egg whites
1 whole egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I use Silk Coconut Milk)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

In electric mixer, cream the coconut shortening with the sugar.  Add eggs slowly and mix until batter is smooth.  Add salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix until blended.  Add vanilla and coconut milk and mix just until blended.  Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing two minutes or until batter is smooth.

Pour evenly into a 9 x 13 inch greased and floured pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
                                                    
Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine (softened)
½ cup Crisco

Cream together the softened margarine and Crisco.  To this mixture add:

1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour (1 at a time)
2/3 cup coconut milk (This should be tepid temperature and added slowly.  I use Silk Coconut Milk)
½ teaspoon vanilla

Beat 8-10 minutes at high speed until frosting is smooth.  Spread over the cake and sprinkle the top with flake coconut.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Listen to me

Hi, all. Duffy Brown here. Braking for Bodies was just released in audio…yippee! Get Audio Braking for Bodies here
I love listening to audio books while driving or doing such mundane things as polishing silver...that never gets done till company is coming...or pulling weeks or washing windows.
Audio books are terrific! I get so into them that time flies buy and I forget about the boring task at hand. In fact...true confession time...I’ve driven miles out of my way and completely missed exits ‘cause I’m into the story and not paying one bit of attention to where I’m going. I just get in the slow lane and putter along or get the silverware so polished it looks like new.
I remember driving through Utah with my two daughters on the way to Monument Valley and listening to The Help. Love the movie and love the audio even more. And of course there are such great memories now connected to the audio.
So my question to you today is, do you listen to audio books? Got a fave time you listen to them? Got a fave audio book? Let me know and I’ll give away a bicycle key fob from the answers.
Hugs, Duffy 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Do You Read Suspense?

by Maggie Sefton





For those  Cozy Chicks Readers and Fans who are new to our blog site, the Chicks like to let Readers know about some of the other mystery novels we write.  In addition to the Kelly Flynn Mysteries, I also write a Suspense trilogy set in Washington, D.C.  No real politicians or media or other people who appear on the news channels show up.  Just fictional characters.  Thank goodness.  :)  


DEADLY POLITICS is the first in the Suspense trilogy and a brief summary appears below.  Check my website for more details as well as an excerpt from the novel.



Welcome to Molly Malone’s world----

Politics is a blood sport in Washington, DC, and only the strongest survive.    Like the politicians she’s rubbed shoulders with for a lifetime, Molly Malone is smart and tough and savvy enough to stay out of trouble---most of the time.  However, trouble has a way of finding Molly.

Years ago, Molly Malone was driven from Washington, DC by political back-stabbing, scandals, and personal heartbreak.  But now, circumstances have forced her to start a new life in the one place she swore she’d never return to—the city that broke her heart---and face the ghosts and the enemies from her past.

As the daughter of a respected United States Senator and once the wife of a rising star young Congressman, Molly has seen it all in Washington politics
---the cynics, the sincere, and the schemers. But the brutal murder of her Congressional staffer niece brings Molly up close with Washington’s darker side. “The beautiful monuments and parks are deceiving.  Washington can be ugly.”  How ugly, Molly’s about to find out.  There are other schemers out there who may not have won elections, but are more powerful than the politicians they ensnare.   

Monday, April 15, 2019

If you need a little talk radio ... Mary Kennedy can help yiou out!



Mary Kennedy is out of town today, so the Chicks are standing in to post for her...and why wouldn't we want to talk about her wonderful Talk Radio Mysteries

If you haven't tried this series, what are you waiting for?  They are laugh-out-loud funny. Dr. Maggie, her Mom, Lola, and dog, Pugsley, are a hoot! Check them out on Mary's website. 


You can get them as stand-alones, or you can buy her ebook box set of the first three novels.

 "Frasier Meets Murder She Wrote"—that's how readers have described the Talk Radio Mysteries. It's all about a NY psychologist who moves to sunny Florida to become a radio talk show host. Of course, she solves a murder in every book!  No doubt about it, you'll be hooked on Dr. Maggie.


Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books

Now, have you got something on your mind you'd like to talk to a radio shrink about?  If so, Dr. Maggie is listening.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Spotlight Is On Blythe Cove Manor

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

It's always a fun day when you have a new book drop. Yesterday, Foul Weather Friends, my 5th Tale From Blythe Cove Manor, becames available. Check it out!

Alone and suddenly single, Teagan Tate's visit to Martha’s Vineyard for a previously planned couples weekend leaves her feeling more of a third wheel.  And when the last ferry off the island is cancelled, she finds herself stranded in the middle of a nor’easter. Will the magic of Blythe Cove Manor and the kindness of two strangers help her find a new and happier life path?



Friday, April 12, 2019

Poppy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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

Our kittens are growing like weeds, but they are still kittens. They get into EVERYTHING.

Yesterday, I pulled out my computer tower because I needed to unplug it to try to coax it back to life. (It has issues.)  I try to start it up (cue the Stones) every few hours. Because I was going to do that, I left it pulled out from under my desk.

For some reason, the kittens decided that playing behind the tower was a fun thing to do. They got yelled at several times, but--they're reckless teens. (That's why we have no guns and motorcycles around here.) Poppy got back there and, usually when I holler, she listens to me and stops her bad behavior, but this time she didn't come out. I hauled the tower out even farther and found she was totally entangled in cords for the computer, the label printer, the Internet, the router--you name it. One of the cords was wrapped around her neck. Needless to say, I panicked but quickly managed to extricate her. Holy crap! My kitten nearly strangled herself!!!

Half an hour later, they had their (second) breakfast. (They get kitty kibble as a snack, then an hour or so later, the REAL breakfast of Friskees.) Soon after Poppy ate her food, she started pawing at her mouth and sounding like she was choking. YIKES! She did this for about ten minutes. She let me look in her mouth, but I couldn't see anything stuck on her teeth.

I called the vet, but got put on hold. While waiting, she stopped the pawing. I got cut off, but decided I was overreaching.  Until ... two hours later, she started doing it again. Now I was getting panicky. What if near strangulation had hurt her throat? She seemed to be breathing a lot faster than her sister when snoozing.

The vet was able to squeeze us in and so off we went. They had a lull and we were sent right in and were relieved that it was our favorite vet who saw Poppy. As soon as I told her about the noise Poppy had made, she went, "Aha." And then she showed us that Poppy already had a couple of her adult teeth, and that her gums were a little red and she had a wiggly tooth, but not wiggly enough to come out. (She tried.) Boy, was I relieved.

I'M A NEW MOM. I PANIC, OKAY?

And just as good, the vet didn't charge us for our little emergency.  (The woman is a saint and a brilliant kitty surgeon.) She said all Poppy needed was a visit from the tooth fairy.


Okay, I've lived around cats all my life, but we weren't around the babies all that much because we worked 8-5. Now, more than 20 years later, we're around them 24/7 and ... honestly, I never saw a kitten teething before.

So, first Poppy nearly got strangled, then her teeth hurt, then she was stuck in a carrier and driven to the (horrors!) vet. Yes, it really was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Poppy.  But we gave her extra cookies for Happy Hour and she seems to have overcome her ordeal.

Have you had a panicky moment with your pet?



Thursday, April 11, 2019

One Step At A Time--Home Improvement & Writing

by Karen Rose Smith


Over the past two weeks, our daily routine has been disrupted by the sounds of hammers, saws, drills and strange voices as we had the carpet removed from our staircase and replaced with hardwood treads.  When we entertained the idea of undertaking the project, I had no idea what was involved and how long it would take.

The first day was consumed with removal of the old carpet and preparing the steps for their refacing.  When the workers left at the end of the day, one lonely step was completed...which meant that there were still twelve more to finish.  The next day, they made a little more progress and reached the landing.  Since that area was a bit of a strange configuration of angles and shapes, that took the entire next day.  There were still six more steps to go.


The cats and I were becoming more and more restless as we were all locked in my office.  But the workers assured us that the last few steps would go much more quickly and, true to their word, they completed the last step before the end of the fourth work day.  They cleaned up their mess and headed out, only to inform us that they would be returning the next day for a half day of touch up, caulking and painting.  That meant another morning of captivity for me and the cats.  But, at last, the steps are finished and they look awesome, well worth the temporary inconvenience.

Looking back over the experience, I realized how similar installing the new steps was to developing and writing a new novel. STEP BY STEP is how I approach the process, just as the workers did with the new stairs:
  1. Find a concept that will make me excited about writing the book...whether it is a romance or a mystery.
  2. Flesh out the concept to see if there is enough motivation and conflict to propel the story to a significant turning point.
  3. Develop main characters whose personalities fit into the story line.
  4. Choose a setting that will enhance the events that happen in the story.
  5. Develop secondary characters who will stir up circumstances or provide opportunities to show the best aspects of the main characters and provide growth.
  6. Develop a chapter-by-chapter outline with three scenes per chapter, providing as many chapters as I need for my contracted word count.
  7. Write the story and hope that with a little skill and a lot of patience, I will develop a masterpiece, mystery or romance, as impressive as my new stairs!    



   




Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Why we play


I just learned…make that am learning…to play Mahjongg. I really like it but not so sure it likes me. What brought me to do this is my sister-in-law. I planned a trip to Florida to visit her and she said learn to play before you come done.
Let me tell you, this is not like remember to bring your bathing suit or don’t forget sunscreen. The first time I watched a friend playing was like spaghetti...tiles going everywhere with no rhyme or reason. 
So what to do when nothing makes sense? Read the instructions. As my kids call it RTFM which stands for Read the Freaking Manual. And it helped a ton.
So I went to Florida and played with my sister-in-law and the group she plays with. I didn’t do too badly as there were other newbees in the group and that truly helped.
But then I realized that there is a definite upside beyond the game that is really fun. I was meeting new people and chatting. Writing is a lonely profession. The readers are my salvation to be sure but to actually chat and think and laugh with new friends is a benefit I hadn’t counted on.
I am a loner and realize that being alone is not being lonely but interaction is important too so I don’t regress to eating soup out of the pot and staying in my jammies all day.
So my question to you today is do you have a fave social activity? Play canasta? Book club? Gym class? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Doggies Getting Older

by Maggie Sefton



This photo was taken a few years ago at the Vet's office.  But Katy looks about the same today.  Of course, she does have a lot more grey hair around her face, now.   And  my hair doesn't look as tousled---I hope.  :)   




Yesterday, Monday, I took my 15 1/2 year old dog Katy to the Vet for her checkup.
The Vet's verdict was that Katy is in great shape for a doggie her age.  She's got a little Arthritis in her hips, but not enough to keep her from running and sauntering in my Colorado backyard.  She eats well and all systems are normal.  She's a little deaf so you have to wave at her to get her attention.  :)  Other than that, however, she's in good shape.

That's always a relief for me to hear.  I don't want to lose Katy anytime soon.  My sweet Hound Dog Max passed away last Fall and it was traumatic to lose that sweet boy.  But Cancer came and stole him away.  Max was ten years old.  Losing a beloved pet is always painful.  Thankfully, whenever I travel Katy goes with Tammie who raised her from a tiny puppy, so Katy is loved whenever she's there at the Doggie Ranch or here with me.  

As all of you know, I travel a lot mainly because three of my four daughters and all seven of my grandchildren are Back East in Northern Virginia, my old hometown area.  In fact, I'll be flying there this week to see Family and Friends for the Easter holidays.  It's always a treat to travel back to the Northern VA/DC/Suburban MD area in the Springtime.  The Cherry Blossoms are in bloom, the tulips have pushed up through the ground, and the Azalea bushes are getting blooms.

Actually, all of the tall Maple trees in my front and back yards here in Colorado are full of buds.  Plus the Lilac bushes that line one whole side of the backyard fence with my next door neighbor are laden with buds, just ready to burst into bloom.  We have had a  milder March and April is much warmer, so those buds should be popping soon.

What's happening where you folks are located?  Are you being teased with Spring already?  Or, is Winter's Cold still blowing?    

Monday, April 8, 2019

THOSE PESKY ROBOCALLS, PART TWO

By Mary Kennedy                                                 

It seems a lot of people could relate to last week's blog on robocalls. Did you know that there are nearly 50 billion calls a year? A lot of you messaged me with some valuable suggestions.

First, a few interesting stats.

Almost 40% of robocalls are scams--an excellent reason to screen your calls!

Nearly 24% are alerts and reminders, 18% are telemarketing and almost 20% are payment reminders.

And a bit of advice. If you don't recognize the number on Caller ID, don't pick it up. Let it go to voice mail. "Call spoofing" of course, lets spammers' calls come through, showing fake numbers that often look real. This is why Nomorobo can't keep up.

Don't pin your hopes on the Do Not Call List. It's almost useless and can't keep up with the new technology.

A third of people say that call blocking apps are useless. 30% say the apps were useful for a while but the calls have picked back up.

Is there hope? Yes, here's something you can do right now. You can sign a petition Consumer Reports is sending to the FCC, asking them to act immediately against robocalls and fine companies that engage in them.

                                                                               


Just go to robocallspetition.cr.org and sign up! You'll feel better and maybe in the end, the consumers can prevail. I hope so!

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, April 6, 2019

It's a brew-tea-ful day!


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!

Order your copy now!


 

Friday, April 5, 2019

You'll always get The Best From Swans Nest

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

Woo-hoo! Two years in the making, but at last THE BEST FROM SWANS NEST is now available for pre-order. It's a companion cookbook for the Lotus Bay Mystery series.

What's been fun for me is giving background information for Kathy Grant and what her inn and food mean to her. If you're a fan of the Lotus Bay Mysteries, and you like to eat, you'll want to add this companion to the series to your ereader. (And yes, it will also be available in print -- hopefully on the same day as the ebook. I'll keep you posted.)

Here's a brief description:

Kathy Grant, owner of the Swans Nest Inn on beautiful Lotus Bay, has collected more than a hundred mouth-watering recipes that she not only offers her B&B guests, but the brides who book their engagement and wedding parties at the inn.

Now you can enjoy the same treats like sweet sausage coffee ring, lots of marvelous muffins, quiche, stuffed mushrooms and many, many more!

Kindle US | Kindle UK | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books

Thursday, April 4, 2019

What Do You Do On A Beautiful Spring Day?

by Karen Rose Smith


Last weekend, the temperatures finally climbed into the seventies.  After a long winter cooped up inside with the cats and my computer, I was ready to get out and celebrate spring.  My husband's idea of soaking up the sunshine was to roll out the riding mower and start it up to see if it was ready for a long spring and summer of mowing grass--a "welcome" sign to a writer who loves quiet when she is writing!


My thoughts, however, immediately went to enjoying the warm sunshine and temperatures at an outlet mall in our vicinity.  The strip-type mall offers a main street with outlet stores lining both sides along brick and concrete walkways.

We compromised and we headed for the outlets in late morning and planned to window shop and, of course, visit my favorite stores.  We were both in a shoe-buying mood, so most of our stops were at footwear outlet stores.  We did pass a Civil War store which intrigued me because I had just written a Civil War side story in my December 2019 Daisy's Tea Garden mystery, MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS.

After we were finished shopping, we headed for the TGIF restaurant which is located at the edge of the outlet complex.  I particularly enjoyed the decor which was centered around the 1960's.  We were taken back to our high school and college years.  The heroine in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mysteries is a Beatles fan and she also loves the tie-dyed and hippie -style clothing of the era...as well as pop art.


After lunch we headed home so hubby could roll out the mower and do his spring-things with it. 

So we were both able to enjoy the beautiful arrival of spring in our own ways and also enjoy time together. 

How do you like to spend a warm spring day full of sunshine and warm temperatures?             






Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wedding Day...yikes!

Hi Reagan Summerside here to talk weddings. The good, the bad and the deadly
            You know that old saying, always the bridesmaid never the bride, well I’ve been both. The bride part didn’t take proven by the fact that I caught Hollis, my husband and the hound of Savannah, doing the horizontal hula with Cupcake right there in his office. That was some staff meeting, all right.
The last wedding I attended I came to deliver a bowtie to the groom as he misplaced his.  The good part of that wedding was the cake was delicious. The deadly part was that the groom wound up dead in five tiers of icing and fondant, the ugly part was that my BFF, Chantilly, the groom’s ex got accused of the murder. 
Round tables decked out in peach-tone wedding linens with white flower arrangements of roses and forget-me-nots dotted the room and Doreen-the-wedding-planner lay crumbled in a heap on the floor. 
“Oh dear Lord!” I starting for Doreen but stopped in my tracks because Simon was there too. He was face down in his very own five-tiered wedding cake with a silver cake knife sticking out of his back.
            Chantilly shouldn’t have been at the wedding in the first place of course but she and her UPS truck just sort of wound up there. 
“You shouldn’t be here,” I said to Chantilly as she swiveled round in the driver’s seat of her UPS van. White icing and cake crumbs smeared her lips and a glob of raspberry filling dripped down her chin. A pink butter cream rose stuck to the front of her brown uniform blouse. “Dear God in heaven! You went and ate the wedding cake!”
“One slice,” she mumbled around a mouthful. “Who’s going to miss one little old slice? The freaking thing is five tiers high. It took three Cakery Bakery employees and the owner Delta Longford herself to lug it in. They even made GracieAnn Harlow stand on a ladder to get the bride and groom thing on top.” 
Chantilly held up a chunk of mangled pastry. “This here should be my wedding cake, except for the pink roses. This should be my wedding day, my wedding colors of creamy-peach and blue-morning-rain. Simon is my man. We were engaged! How could he marry someone else!” Chantilly wailed, a tear sliding down her cheek and cutting a path across a white icing smear. 
            Hopefully none of the weddings you’ve attended were like this one with the groom dead as Lincoln right there in his own cake. 
What do you think is the best part of a wedding? The cake? The first dance? The saying I Do? What are your favorite wedding colors? Favorite locations…destination weddings, church weddings, garden weddings?
Let me know and I’ll give away two Killer in Crinoline tote bags from the answers.
Hugs, Reagan

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Look Back

by Maggie Sefton



Mary's post on Monday brought back all sorts of memories about those annoying robo-calls.  I do believe the increase in those calls jangling our phones started years ago.  Most of us tried several methods to reduce all those calls.   I started out by answering the calls, listening to them give about ten seconds of their spiel, then---in a cold voice---replying "I'm not interested."  Then I would immediately click the phone off before they could start another part of their script.  I am told telemarketers use a script that's provided to them on a computer screen.

However, instead of reducing the number of phone calls I received, I started to receive even more.  Clearly, engaging with the callers encouraged them.  Soooooo, I tried ignoring the jangling phone calls.  That was REALLY annoying.  After a few months, I bought a recommended answering machines.  I would set the machines to answer the phone after the fourth ring, give a recorded message that I wasn't able to come to the phone but please leave a message. . .blah, blah, blah.  Later that day I would check the messages and return the calls of legitimate businesses.   So, that method seemed to solve the problem-----for a while.

That was MANY years ago, folks.  My former husband and I had one of the first cell phones that sat on the floor between driver's and passenger seats.  It was called a "Brick phone."  It was square and boxy and plugged into the car's cigarette lighter outlet.  Believe me, we weren't using those big, boxy phones to call friends and family.  It was purely for emergencies.  What were we using to call friends & family?  This was the early 1990s time period, so I remember using one of the early Nokia flip cell phones.  It made calls and retrieved limited amounts of information.  There were T-Mobile cell phones and Android and Samsung phones which retrieved more information.   I actually eliminated my land line phone entirely since the only calls were from telemarketers.


We were using our cell phones to call friends, family,  business associates, and other businesses we dealt with regularly. We were on the brink of a whole new world.  And it came bursting through when Steve Jobs brought out the first iPhone.  And we were off to the Races.  :)   Whatever you choose to use, folks, remember the most important point:  Don't forget to plug it in and re-charge it regularly.  :)

Monday, April 1, 2019

THOSE PESKY SALES CALLS!

By Mary Kennedy                                                       
 

I admit it, these sales calls are getting me stressed, frazzled and exhausted! How about you? I know I should just ignore them and delete them at a later date, but they interrupt my train of thought and I can't concentrate with that irritating ringing. 

Both the landline...                                                    

And the cell...
                                                                                 
I'd like to think there was some easy solution. In the beginning, we all thought that signing up for the DO NOT CALL list would do the trick. Hah! I know better now. I've signed up over and over and I still get irritating voices trying to entice me to buy products I don't need or want. 

                                                                                  

Here are some solutions my pals have come up with (besides the obvious one of just not answering the phone.)

One friend said she has gotten rid of calls by simply picking up the phone, holding it silently for however long it takes the telemarketer to hang up. (usually 10 seconds.). Try it and see what you think.

Another friend keeps a small tape recorder by the phone and plays the sound of a fax machine when she recognizes a spam number on her caller ID. I haven't tried this but it's intriguing. I wonder if it works.

Another friend picks up the phone, pretends to be a real estate agent and tells the caller that the party no longer lives there.

Another friend complained to her provider and a big chunk of the robocalls disappeared.

Hmm. What do you think? Would any of these techniques work, or do you have a better solution? I'm open for suggestions!

Gratefully yours, Mary Kennedy


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Julia was right!


Welcome to the Cozy Chicks kitchen! Pull up a stool and let us pour you a cup of coffee. We’ll have a chat as a pot of tomato basil soup bubbles on the stove. While the soup is simmering, feel free to sit back, relax, and listen to the sizzle of lemon chicken cutlets crisping to a golden brown in the frying pan. By the time we catch up on work and family and start discussing the last book we’ve read, the buttery, cinnamon scents of the apple ginger pie baking in the oven will curl around our shoulders like a warm shawl and coax a sigh of contentment from our lips.


Friday, March 29, 2019

Smile for the camera?

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

After a lonely eleven months without cats, five weeks ago we got our new furbabies Emma and Poppy. They're adorable and they are a pain in the butt. We haven't given them the freedom of the whole house yet. During the day, they are with us in our offices, climbing up on our desks and walking over our keyboards. We're getting lots of work done. NOT.


They have beds they can sleep on or a cushion next to the heater in my office, but they prefer to sleep on our office chairs. (We both have two desks with chairs.) They are also what I call wiggle-worms.  They roll around a lot. They roll off the chairs sometimes.  Yesterday, Emma rolled off while sleeping.

Emma ... just after she rolled off the chair.

Emma (the silver tabby) will "sit pretty" for just about anything. When she's curious, when she's looking out the window, at dinnertime. But can I catch her doing it when I've got my camera or phone in my hands? Nope.  They are incredibly cute until I pull out the camera--either that, or they'll be doing something cute and before I can snap a picture or hit the video button, they stop and/or leave the area. They are definitely camera shy. From these pictures, you'd think they live very quiet lives.  Nope. They sound like a herd of thundering elephants.

They have toys everywhere and two are favorites.  First, their tunnel. Cozy Chick emeritus, Ellery Adams, sent the girls a bag of toys and the tunnel. They play in it every day, They race through it, have life-and-death wrestling matches in it. Good clean fun for a couple of hours a day.


Their other favorite toys are crinkle balls.  (That's what it said when I Googled it.) The bag Ellery sent had a few of them in it, and then (current Cozy Chick) Mary Kennedy sent them an entire bag of crinkle balls. Holy cow! When we need to work, another on gets tossed on the floor and we're guaranteed at least 20 minutes to sneak in some work.

Emma has been sneezing, so we're going to the vet this afternoon. She did not like the carrier when we took her for her shots, so this should be an adventure. Poppy hasn't been left alone. She'll either be freaked out, or yawn and take a nap.

Either way, my camera won't be far away. But I think I might need to buy another photo card. With these girls, I think I'm going to need it.

What are you pet's favorite toys?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Eat In Or Dine Out?

by Karen Rose Smith



As I mentioned last week, we recently returned from a trip half way across the country to visit our son.  The question each day was, "Are we eating in or going out for dinner?"  It turns out that we divided our meals between the two.  We dined out our first and last nights of the visit and did some home cooking for the other two meals.  We chose restaurants that are not near our home in Pennsylvania but were close to our son's house--Cracker Barrel and Red Robin.  While I love a good home-cooked meal, I also enjoyed dining out and spending family time with my husband and son with no worries about prep or cleanup.

Back at home, I was rapidly faced with the question my husband and I debate each evening before going to bed--"What's for dinner tomorrow night?"   That usually requires pulling something from the freezer or stopping at the store.  I love to cook and create new recipes for my Caprice De Luca Home Staging  Mysteries and Daisy's Tea Garden Mysteries.  But then again, I never mind when he suggests we go out or order home delivery.

Here are some of the advantages of both:

Home-cooked meals
  • Can adjust recipe to your taste  
  • Can control the quality of the ingredients
  • More economical
  • There are often leftovers for another meal  
  • Can eat at the table or in front of the television--your preference
Dining Out
  • No prep or cleanup
  • Can order food that you would not normally make at home
  • Can try new dishes
  • Each person can order their own meal preference
  • Relaxing time to connect with your family without distractions at home


Italian dining at a restaurant

Italian dining at home

Breakfast at a local restaurant
Homemade breakfast scones

Hearty soup at home

Pretzel sandwich at a local eatery
Lemon tea cakes (A recipe I
 developed for my book 
MURDER WITH
LEMON TEA CAKES)
One of my favorite parts of dining out is dessert, though I'm usually too full to enjoy it...and, of course, the calorie count tells me I should avoid decadent desserts.  Sometimes I just pick up a few Whoopie Pies at our local Amish market as a special at-home dessert if I'm not experimenting with a new dessert recipe for one of my books.  My husband particularly likes when I'm creating new recipes because he gets to taste test the finished products until they are perfected.  I'm pretty popular too with our neighbors because they often get to sample the new goodies.

An antipasto tray I prepared 
for New Year's Eve
Fruit and relish trays from 
Sam's Club
When I threw a viewing party for the release of A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, a movie on the UPtv Network based on my book HIS COUNTRY CINDERELLA, I decided to purchase a cheese and fruit tray and a relish tray from our local Sam's Club, because I've always been impressed with the quality of their party trays.  They were a time-saver and were as tasty as anything I could prepare.  But for New Year's Eve I chose to prepare my own antipasto tray, using my favorite ingredients.

Do you prefer to cook at home or dine out?  Is your family satisfied with a purchased dessert?  Do you prepare your own party trays?

I think I prefer an even balance of eating at home and dining out, but you sure can't beat home cooking!  Purchased desserts usually look better than they taste.  It's hard to beat a homemade apple pie.  And my party tables are usually a combination of items I purchase and homemade specialties...the best of both worlds.