Friday, September 21, 2018

My summer of thrifting

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

When I look back on yard sale season, I think ... wow, it was bad this year. That is until I look at my pictures of my various hauls and remember what I got. You never know what you're going to find when you hit a yard sale. Below are just a few of the treasures I found.

I just started decorating for fall.  Everything but the pumpkin on the right I got at a yard sale. (Okay, on the tray--not the loveseat or coffee table, etc.)

The flowers, vase, pumpkin, little BOO, doily and tray cost me less than $3 and I love them all.

Most of the things I bought this summer were things I intend to use to decorate. I've never really been into decorating before, but I started watching things like the Summer 2018 $5 Goodwill Challenge on Youtube. (They came out with the fall challenge on Monday.)  Wow, what some of these ladies find and do for five bucks is astounding.

Here are some of the highlights from my summer of thrifting.

Now I can't say where this little chalk elephant is going to go, but it won't be any seasonal decoration. I do have an elephant collection, and right now he's just sitting on my bookshelf wondering where he will live.  I'll have to ponder that.  He's about 5 inches tall, so he doesn't take up much space.

I love this plastic tray that I got at a rummage sale. It was $3 a bag--and I filled it. I figure the tray cost me about a quarter. It's so cheerful, I'm going to use it to decorate come spring. I've got some small carved wooden birds that will look adorable on it.

This beautiful conch shell was in a free box with a lot of other large and small shells. One of my readers asked if there was a hole ini it. Yup. It turns out that's where they pushed the unlucky sea creature out to eat it. Awwwwww...

Can you ever have enough wreaths for the front door? I scored this one at a rummage sale to benefit a cat rescue. I think it looks nice for fall, but will take the bird's nest away. I can put it on  one of my summer wreaths.

How about this haul? Don't turn your nose up at the tea-stained potholder. Two days soaking in Oxiclean turned it pristine white once again. These items were from a church rummage sale for a total of $2. (It wasn't a bag sale.) I'm just getting into "orphan" teacups and saucers, thanks to reviewer/blogger and reader Karen Owen. Check out her instagram profile and see how she pairs up orphans.

That faux Ball jar looks cute with silk hydreangeas in it.

Love this little lamp.

Teacups? Boy did I find teacups. I love it when the owner gives you the history. This one was a buck at a yard sale and the woman said she had been a pre-school teacher for 37 years. During that time, the staff had a yearly "tea" and she collected odd cups here and there for them to use. This was one of them. The picture doesn't do it justice--it's gorgeous. This one's a keeper and won't be given away on one of my Facebook events. (Lots of others will!)

That's just scratching the surface of my summer finds.  Which one is your favorite?


P.S.  If you are having a hard time leaving comments on our blog, the best browser to use is Google's Chrome.  Google owns the server where The Cozy Chicks blog resides and they just like it better when you use their product.  Go figure!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Gettysburg Connection

by Karen Rose Smith

When I write a cozy mystery, I try to make each book special with an element that will give the novel an extra sparkle.  In MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES, coins were involved in solving the mystery.  In MURDER WITH CINNAMON SCONES, Amish quilts and an art gallery added a Lancaster touch.  In MURDER WITH CUCUMBER SANDWICHES, (June 2018 release) food critics abound.  I'm working on Daisy mystery #4 now, MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS.  Besides creating a scrumptious cherry tart recipe, I wanted to give the book another Pennsylvania local connection.  I chose Gettysburg.

Recently, I went on a research trip there.  The Battlefield always drew us as bike riders when our son was young.  We'd ride the paved route and hop off bikes to study the monuments.  Devil's Den was always a popular destination.  It is located on a hill covered by large boulders on the south end of Houck's Ridge.  It played a prominent role on the second day of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

My favorite and most meaningful landmark however has always been The Peace Light.

If you've ever been to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and felt the church-like atmosphere of standing there, you can begin to understand the hushed atmosphere at The Peace Light.  There are no picnic tables or interactive stations.  There is simply the monument and what it stands for...the words engraved in the granite.  The monument symbolizes the blue and grey uniting under one flag.  The gas-lit flame was the inspiration for the eternal flame on President John F. Kennedy's grave at Arlington.

The photo below was snapped at the base of the peace light.  It shows the monuments, distinctive fencing and open fields that are so prevalent on the battlefield.

I hope you enjoy all of the Daisy Tea Garden releases and look forward to cucumber sandwiches and cherry tarts!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hi, Duffy Brown here up to my elbows in dirt... I’ve been replanting my garden in hopes that the new one will bloom a lot better than the old. While shoveling dirt and digging holes I realized that I’m planting a lot of poison, a little something any mystery lover would consider, right?
When writing Pearls and Poison the title doesn’t leave much to the imagination on the murder weapon of choice but the question is how to get the job done. 
With a gun you pull the trigger and bam it’s over. With a knife it’s slash and dash, but with poison the possibilities are endless. The big question is, where do you get it? You just don’t walk into Walgreens and ask which aisle has the cyanide. How much do you need? Which ones work the best? What do you mix it in?

So, like I always do when I have a question, I hit the Google and there it was…plants! With Pearls and Poisonset in Savannah there are lots and lots of plants year round. All I had to do was pick one, a not so healthy one. Decisions, decisions.
Everyone knows Poinsettia berries are a big no-no but I bet you didn’t know those lovely spring daffodils you adore can cause big problems. You may not die; you’ll just be so sick you wish you were dead.
I have a whole hedge of oleander in my back yard and one plant could probably wipe out my neighborhood.  Good thing we never used the sticks to roast marshmallows! 
Rhododendron, jasmine azaleas and wisteria, foxglove and columbine are so beautiful, the are the focal point of spring gardens and toxic to extreme. The victim gets deathly ill then a coma and then he kisses his butt goodbye. ( I used one of these in Pearls and Poison)
You can eat dandelions but yew is fatal and has no symptoms you just keel right over. Up one minute dead the next.
And then there’s Lantana, buttercups,  periwinkle Vinci rose and hydrangeas. These are in every summer garden and pot and totally lethal. How can thing be so lovely and so deadly?
I did a ton of research for Pearls and Poison to get the right poison and figure out how to get the victim…who deserves to die…to drink it.
When doing this research I was invited to a dinner party and asked to bring ice cream instead of the salad. Gee, I wonder why?
I had a cleaning lady. All my poisonous plant books along with Deadly Doses, Armed and Dangerous andIntent to Killwere on my desk. She never came back. Life is not easy for a mystery writer.
I just planted an Angel Trumpet in my front yard. It’s one of the most deadly plants on earth but it’s so beautiful. Mine isn’t blooming yet but you can see how it’s going to turn out. Least the deer won’t eat this one. 
Duffy Brown

Pearls and Poison third book in Consignment Shop Mysteries

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My Sweet Boy Max

by Maggie Sefton

I promised our supportive Cozy Chicks Blog readers and fans an explanation for my short
post last Tuesday.  The reason for the delay was because Monday of last week was a heartbreaking day for me.  My sweet, silly, and devoted Blue Tick Coon Hound/Black Lab mix, Max, died all too suddenly within that one day.  Only Ten years old, Max should have lived in his healthy and happy surroundings until his mid-teens.  My Black Short Hair Border Collie/Black Lab mix, Katy, is fourteen this year.  She has now survived the passing of two doggie partners---Rottweiler Carl who developed lung cancer and died in 2008 and now Max.  I will explain what caused this sudden death.

Monday of last week, Max was acting normally---playing outside with Katy.  Barking with the neighbor dogs on all three sides----Boxer mix Ginger, Multi-Mix "Barky Dog" and purebred Boxer on the 3rd side, Jesse.  Max was running around with Katy like usual after breakfast.  I was working on the laptop in the living room and could see the two of them outside through the screen door.  Later in the morning I took a break and went into the kitchen to refill my iced tea and glanced outside.  I only saw Katy sniffing around the bushes.  Lots of bushes line the back fence in my back yard, providing lots of doggie hiding places.  So I stepped outside and looked around.  I didn't see Max anywhere.   I use a combination lock on the gate to my back yard----I had to to keep long-nose Max from opening the chain link fence gate years ago.  I looked around the yard for Max and called his name.  He didn't come.

Then I looked inside the open door to the garage.  There was Max, lying on the garage floor.  I walked over to him and called his name.  He lifted up his head, looked at me, then put it down again. I thought his taking a rest was a little unusual, but I let him rest.  A half hour later I came back to the garage and checked Max again.  This time he didn't lift his head.  But I noticed his breathing looked heavier than normal.  So-----I called out to my neighbor with Ginger.  Lauren was a part-time Vet Tech and I asked her to help me put Max in the back of my Explorer because my instinct told me to take him to the Vet School Clinic not that far away.  Colorado State University has a top College of Veterinary Medicine and Medical Research.  Lauren stayed in the back with Max and listened to his heart with her stethoscope.

As we drove Lauren reported that Max's heartbeat was very slow.  And as we were turning into the long driveway to the front of the Vet School Clinic, Lauren said:  "Maggie, he's gone!"

I cannot tell you how shocked I was and how that grabbed my heart.  When I pulled in front of Vet Clinic, I ran inside and told them at the front desk and they immediately wheeled out a gurney and brought Max into one of the exam rooms.  There, one of the Vet students said that unfortunately they do see sudden deaths of healthy dogs.  I told them I wanted to find out what happened to my sweet boy, and they suggested I sign for a Necropsy to be performed.  It would examine Max's entire body and brain and find answers then issue a report.

Last Thursday, one of the Vets called me and explained what they found.  Max had developed cancerous tumors that had aggressively spread around his body, not causing any pain and didn't show up on any x-ray or could be felt by a vet.  No signs or symptoms.  The Veterinarian explained that type of cancer tumor  had attacked Max's blood vessels and when they reached a certain size, one of them ruptured.  When that happened, death was swift.  The Vet also said chemo was not effective against these tumors.  It was a stark report, but it did bring some closure.

I  had Max cremated, like Carl and Samson before him, so I can sprinkle his ashes around the back yard and scatter some of them in the mountains.  A fitting tribute to an active and lovable Hound Dog.    
Sweet Boy Max.

Monday, September 17, 2018


By Mary Kennedy

It's that time of year again! I have to say adieu to some of my beloved books and it never gets easier. It's for a good cause. The local AAUW (American Association of University Women) holds an annual book sale and the benefits go for college scholarships for women.

But I'm such a wuss when I try to decide who makes the cut.

After dithering around for way too long, I finally decided to make three piles. Books that were absolute keepers, books I could give away to a great cause, and book that I think I'd like to read again.

Here's what I came up with (and this might help you if you're in "donation" mode.)

Books that are keepers. 

This was actually easier than I thought. Books that are autographed. Many have lovely notes inside and there is no way these treasures are leaving the house!

I also included books that have great sentimental value. A copy of Rudyard Kipling'sThe Cat That Walked by Himself, a gift from my father. My father inspired my lifelong love of books (and animals!) and I could never part with the books he gave me.

Now, on to category two. Books I can give away without too much of a pang. I included a lot of travel books. I used to love collecting travel books, reading about exciting, exotic places that I hoped to visit one day. Marrakesh, Trinidad, Cairo. I still like to thumb through them, but they take up a lot of room and I can find anything I need on the internet.  So, adios, Abu Dabi! (at least for now.)

Category three was the toughest, because it includes books that I probably will want to read again. Many are written by friends and I enjoy re-reading the earlier books in the series. 

When I checked my Kindle, I found that I already had digital versions of these old favorites, so all was well! I could give my paperback editions to some new fans who would love the books as much as I did. So it was all good...

How about you, do you find it hard to part with books?

Mary Kennedy

Friday, September 14, 2018

Nothing like a hot cup of tea in an historic home

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

If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE tea. I start every day with a cup (and usually drink an entire pot) and often have another cup or two in the afternoon.

I am a tea addict, and I'm not ashamed.

That said, mostly drink English Breakfast (black) tea, and not much else. The fun part comes because I have a lot of teacups and tea mugs. Chosing one every day makes the day start with a lot more whimsy.

Not long ago, Mr. L and I visited the Buffalo area and visited the Millard Fillmore house. I was surprised at how many artifacs were available from our 13th pesident, a man who only served two years after the death of Zachary Taylor.

That's a cardboard cut-out of President Fillmore on the porch.

For such a small house, which Fillmore built with his own two hands, there were an astonishing amount of presidential artifacts.

The teapot above belonged to Fillmore's first wife, Abigail.  I wonder how many wonderful cups of tea she delighted in from that pretty pot.

This teacup belonged to the Fillmore family. It was probably used by the President. Think of the history!

The above tumbling-block quilt was made by the first Mrs. Fillmore. The stitching was exquiste. The bedframe was the bed they took to the white house and slept in for their two-year tenure.

The docents at the Fillmore house were fantastic and kept us spellbound with their tales about the last Whig-party president. 

I went to visit the Buffalo area because I wanted to reconnect with my character, Jeff Resnick, for an upcoming book, but I'm pretty sure he never visited the Fillmore home. Still, it never hurts to visit the rich history of any area you write about, and I'm sure glad I visited the Fillmore House.

This makes three presdential homes I've visited. The first was Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. The second was James Buchanan's home (Wheatland) in Lancaster, PA, and now Millard Fillmore's home.

Have you ever visited a home of a president?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Pull Out The Throws!

by Karen Rose Smith

This time of year, I search my closets for afghans and throws.  I know where the light throws are stored because I change them every week or so and wash them to keep cat hair to a minimum.  But for fall and winter, I prefer the afghans my mom knitted and crocheted or the furrier throws that keep us warmer in the winter.

After my mom retired from teaching, she had multiple physical issues.  Her favorite hobbies were reading romances and knitting or crocheting.  And those afghans she created, now anywhere from 25 to 40 years old, are still in terrific condition in spite of washing.  Besides keeping me warm while I'm watching TV on the sofa or napping, they bring back cherished memories or my mom that I'm afraid in time I'll forget.

In recent years, I've enjoyed the warmth and beauty of Dennis Basso throws.  They are soft fluffy fur and they can be carefully washed.

A bright cotton throw brings color to my office.  A Southwestern throw reminds me of the places in the West I like to visit so much.

This weekend, I turned on the heat for the first time since Spring.  It's time to pull out the throws!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

All Things Pumpkin

Duffy Brown here and I love all things pumpkin. I’m a pumpkin addict. The fist nip in the air meaning the temp falls into the 70 and I start thinking pumpkin. I don’t even have to wait for October to go all pumpkin  and I definitely do not have to wait for Halloween. Pumpkin time does not end at Halloween but continues onto Thanksgiving.

That gives me two and a half months of pumpkin!

                                                  So why pumpkin?
First of all I love the color! There is not a more prettier fall color than the pumpkin orange color. It’s such a happy color. Not like blah autumn green or puke rust yellow but bright pumpkin orange!

And what are some of my fave pumpkin things? Well, there’s the actual pumpkin of course and all the things you can do with it. Carve it, hallow it out and make a vase, leave it alone and use them all over the house for fall decorations.
Did you know if you put Vaseline on your pumpkin it makes them last longer! Eep a good idea for those outside pumpkin decorations.  
But the pumpkin doesn’t even have to be a real pumpkin to be terrific. There are adorable ceramic pumpkins, pumpkin flags, pumpkin doormats... You get the picture.
And then there are all things pumpkin. Pie, cake, cookies, candles. Starbucks has a terrific pumpkin spice coffee, then there’s pumpkin spice tea and ice cream. I love pumpkin spice ice cream.

So what about you? Are you a pumpkin addict? Love all things pumpkin? And what is your fave pumpkin thing? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Forgive the Delay

by Maggie Sefton

Due to sudden circumstances, I won't be posting today.   I'll explain next week.  Don't worry.  All is well up in the International Space Station with Astronaut daughter Serena and all her comrades.  They are busy as usual studying various scientific experiments.

Monday, September 10, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                   

If you're like me, you probably have lovely childhood memories of summer.  Certain "flashbulb moments" that put you right back in the scene--a trip to the beach, a backyard barbecue, fireworks on the Fourth of July with an "American flag cake." 

Summer seemed to stretch out forever! School ended in late May or early June and September seemed light years away. There was no hurry to enjoy summer's fun; the first few vacation days were often spent catching up with old friends and catching up on sleep.

But after a few days, summer began in earnest. 

I spent all my summers in Westchester, New York and a trip to the ocean (Rockaway or Jones Beach) was a must. Here's a vintage photo of Rockaway, and it brings back memories. Sometimes we could hardly find a spot to put down a towel!
The ocean was always freezing and tended to be rough. I learned to swim at Rockaway (yes, in spite of the powerful undertow) because my father insisted "if you can swim at Rockaway, you can swim anywhere." 

Another must was a trip to Playland--funny how when you're young, you relish the idea of being terrified!   I preferred the tamer ferris wheel and merry-go-round to the roller coaster rides.                                                       

A trip to Beacon on the Dayliner boat was the high point of my summer. It seemed so adventurous at the time! We brought a picnic lunch to eat at Bear Mountain and occasionally they had live music on the boat. To an eight year old, it was just as exciting as a transatlantic crossing!

Of course, the lazy summer days also provided plenty of time for reading. I made weekly trips to the library and read Anne of Green Gables, Albert Payson Terhune and Seven League Boots by Richard Halliburton. I wanted to visit all the exotic places he visited--to me, he was an earlier version of Anthony Bourdain!

How about you? Do you have childhood summer memories that have stayed with you over the years?
Please share them! 

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Those women can BAKE!

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

I was speaking with my hairdresser the other day (got my roots done -- I'm YOUNG again!) and she was telling me that her husband doesn't like to eat. She has to remind him to eat.

A person who doesn't like to eat??????????

I smell cake/cookies/muffins/Yorkshire pudding and I gain weight. Therefore, I live vicariously through my characters who love to bake. Among them: Katie Bonner, Kathy Grant, and most recently Tricia Miles. These ladies are baking up a storm--and they can do it and not get fat because they have an audience they can feed. Katie has her vendors at Artesans Alley, Kathy has been experimenting with recipes for her B&B and feeding her friends Tori, Anissa, Noreen and Paul. Tricia has her employees, Pixie and Mr. Everett (and when you read A Killer Edition, which will be out next year, this will become really obvious.)

But I like to bake, too. And the other day my neighbor, who has a huge garden, put out a little stand for veggies his family can't eat. It's so cute with a colorful umbrella to shade the veggies during the day. And I picked up a zucchini, tomato and a chili pepper. The zucchini was too big for stir fry, but I knew when I picked it up it was destined for zucchini muffins.

Who's my audience? Mr. L. He loves baked goods for breakfast and this will be my second batch of zucchini muffins this summer. In fact, I will need to make a double batch because it is such a big zucchini. That doesn't worry me!  Here's my recipe.

Zucchini Muffins
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried currants or chopped raisins

Preheat oven to 350° In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Combine the egg and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the zucchini, walnuts and currants. Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper liners; fill three-fourths full with batter. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Yield: 12 muffins

Who do you bake for? (And care to share a recipe, too?)


Recipes to Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook, was the first companion book I did for my New York Times bestselling  Victoria Square Mystery series. In it, Katie Bonner shares her favorite recipes, and those of her vendors and the merchants on Victoria Square, plus each contributors signature drink and anecdotes about their lives on Victoria square.

Treat yourself today!

Amazon (trade paperback)

Kindle | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Friday, September 7, 2018

Grape Expectations: Not what you expect

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

YAY! Today my 4th Tale From Blythe Cove Manor, set on the beautiful island of Martha's Vineyard, is out.

With the advent of Labor Day, the "season" on the island is now over, but you don't have to wait until the end of next May to visit. It's waiting for you right now in this 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.

Young heiress Dolly Madison arrives on Martha's Vineyard with an agenda to discover and taste the great wines of this picturesque island off the coast of Massachusetts … only to learn there are none. What she will find, however, is far more compelling√Ďand could just change her life.

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Carrot-Grape Salad Recipe And A Variation

by Karen Rose Smith

My carrot, grape and pecan salad that I attributed to Tessa (Daisy's kitchen manager) in MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES is an easy recipe for a summer picnic or a fall dinner.  I created this recipe for friends who like healthier, lighter fare and decided to share it with my readers. 

When I had a book signing and tea service at Sweet Remembrances/Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA, the chef developed recipes from my book to list on the menu.  Tessa's Carrot Salad became part of the second course when they scooped it onto a Crostini!  The only alteration was slicing the grapes in half.  I hope you enjoy the refreshing salad as much as my family does.

Tessa's Carrot Salad

3 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons light mayonaise
2 1/2 tablespoons light sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups seedless green grapes (washed and well-drained)

Mix together carrots and raisins in a medium bowl.  Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice and honey in a small bowl and pour over the carrot mixture.  Stir well.  Add chopped pecans and grapes.

Serves six.