Friday, August 16, 2019

No She-Shed for me

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

If you've been reading women's magazines for the past few years, you've undoubtedly heard about she-sheds. They are darling little sheds that don't hold tools, lawnmowers, shovels, and weed-whackers. No, they are cute, are often spaces to relax, read a book, and drink sweet tea. It's the woman's equivalent of a man cave.

She sheds can be havens for a woman's crafting life. They can be a getaway from the hustle and bustle of life. They can be girly beyond belief. Shabby chic. Victoriana. French Country, and red-white-and-blue Americana. Anything you can think about can be incorporated into your ideal of a she shed.

But as adorable as these little structure are, they are not for me.



Maybe in other parts of the country, there aren't so many bugs. I mean spiders, ants, mosquitoes, centipedes, flies, and every other bug that thrives in Western NY. Not to mention mice, voles, skunks, opossums, chipmunks, and the odd bird or two.

Why, just yesterday I opened my front door and found a huge spider web that not only covered the whole upper southeast opening of the aperture, but had started encrouching on the summer wreath that hangs from my door. ICK-POO!

Spiders (and other bugs) could live long and happy lives if they did not invade my domain. Just last week, I was working in my home office at my computer when I saw one of those icky-black-spiders- that-run-very-fast and before I could whip off my shoe to beat it to death, it fell off the wall and escaped behind my bookcase. So, ever since, I've been wary about spending time in my office. Is that spider still there? Has it procreated? Will I be inundated with baby spiders? (Which happened to me a few years back at our cottage, when I was killing babies by the score over a number of days.)

So, in theory I would LOVE to have a she-shed. A small place for me to go and write. During the summer, I write in our enclosed porch overlooking our backyard, but I simply cannot write in my office (which looks more like a warehouse with my thrifting treasures). I'm pretty sure I'll be back in our family room once the leaves start to turn and it's too cold to sit "outside." Our girls (Poppy and Emma) will be heartbroken. All I have to do is click the lock on the sliding glass doors and they come running. They love our porch as much as I do. Poppy, who is a PITA when I'm in my office, suddenly has lots to see and do in the office. She'll snooze beside me in the tête-à-tête, but in my office she wants to lie on my lap and roll over and over, which is NOT conducive for me getting any work done. Both girls are like puppies and follow me around the house. If I get up, they get up. They want to be up my nostrils 24/7. This is not something I've had to deal with the cats I've been acquainted with during my entire lifetime.

So while I love to look at pictures of she-sheds and wish I could languish in one, the reality is that in my part of the country it just couldn't happen.

Instead, I will dream of the bed-and-breakfasts that reside in my fictional landscapes, like Sassy Sally's on Victoria Square, or Swans Nest on Lotus Bay, or Blythe Cove Manor on Martha's Vineyard.

Would you like a she-shed? What would you do with it?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Felines Sunbathing

by Karen Rose Smith

When I was in college (many years ago!) as soon as the weather turned warmer in the spring, my friends and I would be outside on blankets on sunny days soaking in the sun's rays and building our tans.  Now, I try to have some reasonable exposure to the sun to naturally build up Vitamin D in my body.  But regardless of why we gravitate toward the outdoors, the lazy hazy days of summer provide healthy doses of sunshine...if we are responsible enough to avoid excessive amounts.

The furry members of the family also seek out sunshine, not only during the summer but all year round.  They seem to enjoy its warmth and understand its health values.  Sometimes they gravitate toward one of their condos where the sun shines through the nearby window and provides light and warmth.  Other times, a slash of sunshine escapes through a lowered blind or through the high windows on the front door.  They seem to find those sunny spots.

I have gathered some pictures of my furry family enjoying the sunshine.

Zander is naturally photogenic, but the naps in the sunshine provide natural lighting for photo shoots. 

Freya, Zander's sister enjoys a sunny condo but she also spends a lot of time each day on a chair in the dining room listening to and watching birds dance through the bushes outside.

Halo will sleep anywhere but she especially enjoys snuggling against me or my husband in the bed or on the sofa.  Her aging bones also seem to benefit from the warmth of the sunshine on the window condos.

As Paddington, Halo's "kitten," has gotten older she is spending more time sleeping each day.  Her favorite spot is on the bedroom condo, but a sunny floor also attracts her and provides good vantage points to observe the younger kittens.

We had the pleasure of cat sitting our friend's newest feline this summer.  When we arrived, Randal would usually be in the sunroom with his older sister.  My husband spent time in the sunroom with him and he enjoys the brightness of the room in a house otherwise shaded by trees.  

And Bonnie and Clyde, our outdoor duo, spend much of their summer mornings and evenings soaking in the rays of the sun. But on hot afternoons they can be found under the silver maples, enjoying the cooler shade.

Sunshine often gets a bad rap because of its health dangers. But, like my cats, I limit my exposure to a reasonable amount and the benefits outweigh the dangers.  Sunshine brings warmth to my life and raises my spirits.

Do you feel happier on sunny days?


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Family from Yesteryear

by Maggie Sefton

Browsing through some of my picture files, I spotted these photos of family from yesteryear, the early 20th Century.  Born in 1890, my grandmother, Gertrude, is on the left and she's holding her first child, my aunt Anna.  The other woman is my Grandmother's sister, Elizabeth, holding her first child, uncle Harold.

This was the day when families had to build their own houses, even two story houses.  It was a good thing that my grandfather, Benjamin, was a skilled carpenter.

My mother's family came to Virginia way back in 1628.  So we're Old Time residents.  And I love our country's history, probably another reason I love writing historical novels.   Of course, we had no photographs from all those years ago, but this family photo is from  the early 20th Century, so that makes it over one hundred years old because we're now into the 21st Century.   I wonder if any of our present day relatives or friends will share photos of us one hundred years from now?  That's quite a thought, isn't it?


Monday, August 12, 2019


By Mary Kennedy                                                 

I wonder if I've made the transition from Crazy Cat Lady to Crazy Dog Lady? Some of my neighbors think I have! 

Why? Because I bought a stroller for my grand dog, who's "no spring chicken" (we can't be sure of his age exactly, he's a rescue) and has arthritis in his back legs.

So he tires easily on walks. Lately, he's been sitting down after a couple of blocks and refusing to budge. At first I thought it was the hot weather, but now I see that he is really tuckered out. 

He looks like he's pleading with me not to make him walk any further, so what choice did I have? The poor dog had to take a nap as soon as he got home from a short walk and I tried to walk him early in the day before it got really hot. 

Hence, the stroller! I bought it on amazon and am really happy with it. I can walk Yogi twice a day for about 1.5 miles each time.                               
And he still walks twice a day with his girlfriends. Short walks, morning and evening. Here he is, waiting on the front porch, for the girls to call on him for their regular walk. They cover him him with doggie kisses and treat him like a rock star.

So when a stranger stopped me the other day and said, "What's wrong with your dog? Can't he walk?" I just smiled and said, "Yes, but thank god he doesn't have to!" She may think I'm crazy to have a stroller for the dog, but so be it. He's happy and so am I. 

by Mary Kennedy

Saturday, August 10, 2019


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

When I was a kid, it was a special thing when late in the afternoon, a woman (someone's mom) would show up in class with a big flat box filled with CUPCAKES.

I don't remember my mother ever making cupcakes. Not once. She made cakes, but not cupcakes. As far as I was concerned, a cupcake was just a small cake. Period.

But then about a decade ago, cupcakes became something different. Something special. Instead of just a smear of icing, suddenly they had mountains of frosting--all kinds of frostings. Instead of just a few candy sprinkles, they started to have all kinds of other garnishes. Stores popped up that sell just cupcakes (okay, and tea, and coffee, and cocoa).

Cupcakes take center stage in the Great Booktown Bake-Off in my latest Booktown Mystery.

Tricia Miles stops by the Have a Heart romance bookstore, looking for something different to read and witnesses a dispute by its owner, Joyce, and Joyce's neighbor, Vera. When Vera turns up dead soon after, it looks like Joyce is the prime suspect. But things are never as they seem and Tricia finds herself juggling her position at the local animal rescue and testing recipes for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. Can she find Vera's killer as well?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Chapters/Indigo | Indiebound | Book Depository

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

I hope you'll come on Tricia's cupcake adventure! And if you do, please consider writing a review on your favorite online review site.


Friday, August 9, 2019

A Killer Edition Giveaway

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

Woo-hoo! To celebrate the publication of A KILLER EDITION, I’m having a fun giveaway. Tricia and Angelica are cut-throat opponents in the Great Booktown Bake-Off and they’re making CUPCAKES. Enter the giveaway to get these great items.

What do you need to do? Just post one of my Booktown Covers on your FB profile page then let me know about it here the comments section on my Lorna author page.  Click here to post. And if you haven't like my author page, I hope you'll do so. (I'm creeping up on 5,000 Likes and would dearly like to hit it.)

The contest ends on August 15.

Sorry, this contest is only for USA (because postage outside the country could put a child through college).

Ready, set, GO!  

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose

by Karen Rose Smith

My grandmother's name was Rosalie and my aunt was Rose Marie, so it was no surprise that my parents chose Rose as my middle name.  Since I was surrounded by "roses" all my life, it was only normal that I decided to use Rose for my sleuth's mother's name in my Daisy's Tea Garden mystery series (all of the female members of Daisy's family are named after flowers).  I have always loved the rose flower because of its beauty and exquisite fragrance.

The night my husband asked me to marry him, I found a diamond ring resting on a yellow rose bud on my bed when I got home from work and went to change my clothes.  My wedding flowers featured yellow rose buds, white Shasta daisies and baby's breath.

Despite their beauty, roses are not easy to grow in the garden.  Tea roses, especially, are prone to aphids, black spot and Japanese beetles.  My mother-in-law grew beautiful roses, so I knew the drawbacks, but when we purchased our own home, I wanted roses to be part of my gardens.  Knockout roses are easier to grow and provide colorful accents.  But the tea roses I have scattered around the patio, were chosen for their color, shape, fragrance and, yes, their name.       

I found Intrigue at a garden center and was taken by its purple color which changed in hue throughout the blooming stages -- from bud to full bloom.  Being an author of cozy mysteries, I felt the name perfectly encapsulated my genre as my sleuth explores the changing nuances of the mystery she is trying to solve. 

I chose Chrysler Imperial for its beautiful red flower.  The bud so closely resembles the beautiful red roses that symbolize romance and Valentine's Day.  As a romance author, Chrysler Imperial is the rose that portrays the love that blooms in each of my stories as the hero and heroine overcome obstacles to form a bond that results in their happily-ever-after.

I have always loved blue flowers because of their uniqueness in the garden.  So when I saw Blue Girl in a catalog, I instantly decided it had to be part of my blue garden that includes asters, tulips, blue bells, forget-me-nots and delphiniums. 

When I was in high school and college, I was a huge Beatles fan.  So when I saw the tag on this beautiful pink rose, I didn't give a second thought to purchasing it for my patio garden.  Paul McCartney blooms from late spring through fall.  It sometimes yields single bud but also produces multi-bud stems, both of which are perfect to enjoy inside in fresh flower arrangements.

Double Delight was one of the first roses I purchased.  I was taken by its dual colors and like the Intrigue rose, it changes colors and hues from stage to stage of its blooms.

When we added a bedroom addition to our house several years ago, I found this octagonal frosted glass rose window at the home improvement store.  The afternoon sun beams through the window and, like my outside roses, provides an array of changing colors depending on the time of the day.  In the morning there is soft muted light and, by afternoon, the sun directly beams through the window and dances across the opposite wall of the bedroom. The glass cats add color to the display.

And when winter sets in again, I will pick up bouquets of roses at the grocery store to add to my winter decor and to remind me of what an important part roses have played in my life.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hi, Duffy Brown here.
It’s National Lighthouse Day and there’s a terrific Lighthouse on Mackinac Island where I set me Cycle Path series and guess what there’s another on Tybee Island near Savannah where the Consignment Shop series is set.

 Lighthouses have always fascinated me. Maybe it’s the round shape of most of them. That means the steps going up go round and round all the way to the top. Maybe it’s that I love the remoteness of most lighthouses. Being alone does not mean lonely and I do like solitude. 
Then there’s the view. Holy cow! How far you can see from a lighthouse is amazing and it’s out onto the sea...vast expanses of water.
But what I like most is the history and the basic concept of being the light in the darkness that people follow for safety. Maybe it’s the world we live in today where we are all looking to be safe. Lighthouses offered that for as long as people wet to sea and others stayed at home and built fires. Lighthouses say come back to me and be safe. What better message is there than that. 
So my question to you today is have you ever visited a lighthouse? Got a fave? Do you love ‘em as much as I do?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Keeping The Old Girl Healthy

by Maggie Sefton

The Old Girl in my post today is my sweet puppy dog Katy, Black Border Collie/Black Lab mix.  Katy just turned 16 years old this week.  She's in really good health and whatever "old age, joint pain" is taken care of with a Vet prescription which Katy takes twice a day.

Her appetite is good and she eats every bite of her dog food each day.  Plus "Doggie Mom" Maggie always finds leftovers from each day's meals that are treats.

Ohhhhhh, if you want a suggestion to entice your doggie or kitty cat to take a daily pill, you might try my solution.  I always buy a rich, yummy special peanut butter because I like it.    That super rich peanut butter makes a perfect disguise for any doggie or kitty pill your pet needs to take.  

I smear about a spoonful of that extra rich peanut butter on the first two or three fingers of my left hand, then I bury the Vet pill inside that enticing blob. I'm sure that the fact that the yummy peanut butter is on my fingers makes it even more attractive to Old Girl Katy.  I'm willing to bet that the same will be true for your pets.

Of course, always have a big bowl of fresh water available for you pet.  Water is still the Magic Elixer and keeps our pets healthy.

By the way-----I've been enjoying the Animal Planet's varied scheduling lately.  These past few weeks, the channel has featured both North Woods Law with the Vermont game wardens and Lone Star Law with the Texas game wardens.  My goodness, those folks meet up with some of the most fascinating situations.

Last week, the game wardens got on their fast boats and zoomed out into one of those large Texas lakes to catch up up fisherman to check if they have up-to-date fishing licenses.  Also----something new to me-----the game wardens also checked in the coolers with the day's "catch."  The wardens had to check that the catch was legal-----both size of the catch but also the type of seafood caught.  It may sound strange that they'd pay that much attention, but it's necessary, otherwise certain fish and/or seafood would be "fished out" within a decade.  


Monday, August 5, 2019


By Mary Kennedy                                     

Do you ever wish you could step back in time and ask deceased relatives about their lives, their times, their hopes and dreams? I know I do. As an only child, I have very few relatives left and I wish I had spent more time encouraging my family members to talk about their lives. 

My grandmother was born at the turn of the century and it's hard to believe that in those days, women didn't even have the vote! I wonder if any of her friends were suffragettes.
I also think about the incredibly cumbersome fashions of the day. How did she really feel about wearing layers of clothing, in the days before air conditioning? Did she accept it? After all, that was the style and maybe no one questioned it. The flappers did, of course, but that came later.

I wonder if she ever wore any of those old fashioned bathing suits when she went to Rockaway or Jones Beach? Or maybe she just strolled along the boardwalk. Come to think of it, I never saw her go swimming on family vacations in later years. Maybe she never learned how. It would be easy to drown in one of those get ups!

And I think about the major events of the time, like World War II. My father and my uncles were in World War II and I wished I had encouraged them to talk about it. Even though the memories must have been painful because rarely did anyone discuss it.

And the Great Depression! I remember tales of men selling apples in the street. How desperate people must have been.

How about you? Do you ever wish you could find out more about your family history and what your loved ones thought about the events of the time? I wish I had asked them to let me record their thoughts. Memories slip away and can never be retrieved. 

Mary Kennedy