Friday, December 7, 2018

It's that time of year!

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

Sometimes we forget that not everyone celebrates the holidays, be it because they belong to other religious persuasions or have no religion at all. But there's one thing we should all be able to agree on ...


The holiday season is about spoiling those you love and...why not yourself, too?  And one way to do that is with food.

Here's a recipe for a favorite of mine.

1 cup butter softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 325ºF (170ºC, Gas Mark 3) Cream the butter and sugar in medium-sized bowl until creamy. Add the vanilla; beat until well mixed. Add the flour and nuts; beat at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well mixed. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes; roll in powdered sugar while still warm and again when cool.

Yield:  4 dozen cookies

Every day can be a holiday. What's your favorite holiday cookie recipe?.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Deck The Halls

by Karen Rose Smith

My husband and I were on our way to a holiday party last weekend and I enjoyed seeing the decorations that were appearing on houses along the way.  I was struck by the variety of decorating ideas.  Each was special in its own way.  While we celebrate Christmas as a gigantic holiday with its parades, gift-giving and festive atmosphere, I couldn't help but wonder about the family traditions that were behind each decorated home we passed.  More than a starred date on the calendar, the holiday is also a family celebration of traditions and memories that are uniquely special to each household.

What kind of holiday decorator are you?  Have you developed your own decorating style or are your decorations part of a long-standing holiday family tradition?

Are your decorations professionally prepared? 

Are you an over-the-top outside decorator with multiple lights and garlands?

Are you decorations simple but tasteful? 

Do you follow a holiday decorating theme? 

Do you prefer funky whimsical decorations?

Regardless of your decorating style, I hope you enjoy the process of decorating and appreciate the joy it brings to all who see your holiday displays. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Why Cozies??

Hi, Duffy Brown here chatting about Cozies and why they are so popular.
Cozy Crazy
Cozy Mysteries are everywhere, just look around. Oh, they may not be labeled cozies but they are. A cozy mystery is the mystery without the blood, guts and gore. It’s Sherlock Holmes, Murder She Wrote, White Collar. It’s Castle and not Criminal Mindsor those CSI shows. 
Why are so many viewers and readers into the cozy thing? I think it’s a rebellion to all the violence around us that just weighs us down. When we turn on TV or read a book we want to escape. A lot of shows out there just scare the crap out of us and we are already scared. Just pick up a news paper.
That doesn’t mean we want mindless trivia, we still want to be surprised, we just don’t want to be shocked and disgusted and saddened.  Bring on the cozies. No whack ‘em and hack ‘em stories with blood guts and gore everywhere but some fun. Remember that? When was the last time you laughed out loud over a book? Couldn’t wait to pick up a book to get back to the fun.
Who doesn’t love seeing Becket and Castle together solving crimes? Or the new BBC’s new Sherlock. That Sherlock is young and sexy and Dr. Watson is to die for. Then again I have a crush on Sherlock so I give him credit for everything mystery. Cozies deal with BFFs and getting the job done. White Collarhas Peter and Neal. I love male friendships, the no man left behind attitude. 
Cozy books deal with jobs we all want. There are books where the characters quilt, knit, make wine, cheese, wedding dresses, bake pies, dream up recipes and make fudge for everyone. 
And then there’s the settings.  Who would not want to live in Cabot Cove? Most mysteries are set in small towns and if they aren’t they’re set in the small area of a big city. Stephanie Plum is in the burg of New Jersey. I set my Consignment Shop Mysteries in Savannah. It’s like a character in the book. Settings matter.

I think my love of cozies started back in the day with Nancy Drew. I read The Secret of the Old Clock in the sixth grade, not exactlyMad Men era but close.  I loved that Nancy Drew was smart and caring. I really loved that she was smarter than the guys. I wanted to be Nancy! Reading Nancy Drew was great for mystery and the ego. Nancy was self-sufficient and took charge of her destiny. It planted a seed that took root in enjoying mysteries and life. 
So there you have it…why everyone is snapping up cozy mysteries or watching them on TV. Have you read one lately? Watched one? The new Sherlock?  White Collar? Elementary? Let’s talk mysteries and why we love ‘em. Whats your new cozy mystery?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Fear of Flying? Just the Opposite.

by Maggie Sefton

Hello, Cozy Chicks readers and friends.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving
and everyone had all the Turkey and trimmings they wanted.  I surely did.  I spent the holiday back in Northern Virginia with Family and enjoyed a wonderful Feast day.  Oldest Daughter Christine prepared a delicious meal with turkey and stuffing and gravy, and mashed potatoes and all the rest of the "trimmings" that accompany that favorite feast.  Including, of course, yummy pumpkin pie.  It was a great chance to see family, and I grab every chance I get to see family.

Since I live out here in Colorado but love to see family Back East, that means I have to travel a lot.   And for me, that always involves an airline flight.  Fortunately, I have not become tired of airline travel.  In fact, I still love it.  Some folks do NOT like to fly.  Airplanes make them apprehensive, and in some cases, scare them.  I've seen some of them on my previous flights over the years.

Take-offs are particularly stressful for these apprehensive travelers.  Some close their eyes and sit very still in their seats.  Some stare anxiously out the airplane window as the plane takes off. And some, sit in their seats with their eyes closed and their lips moving.  I can only imagine that they're praying for a safe flight.  And, that is definitely a good idea. It certainly doesn't hurt.  :)

As for me----well, I'm one of those crazy love-to-fly types.  I actually LOVE the drama of take-offs.  There's a special feeling as the plane starts going down the runway, faster and faster.  I always stop reading and stare out the window----and smile.  Feeling the plane go faster and faster, then lift off the ground, starting its climb.  The engines trying to lift the plane higher and feeling  gravity pulling at the belly of the plane, trying to snatch it down.  The engines fighting to pull the plane up, up, up while Earth's gravity is fighting just as hard to pull the plane down, down, down.   There's a dramatic few seconds when you can feel that battle going on outside while you can feel it inside.  Finally, the plane breaks through and lifts out of gravity's grasp and climbs higher  and higher.  The earth below revealing itself to your gaze.

Too dramatic, you say?  Well, I am a fiction writer by trade and therefore, I'm dramatic by nature.    But, I certainly hope my "dramatic" description of a flight experience has not left anyone afraid of flying.  :)   After all, the Holiday Season has just begun.      

Monday, December 3, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                         

This is a really easy crock pot recipe a friend gave me. You can modify it any way you want, I do a veggie version and use "veggie chicken sausage and apple" links, a 12 oz package is about the right size. My friend uses the "real" version of chicken sausage and apple links.

And you can leave out the sausage completely and just use a couple of extra sweet peppers, red, orange, green or yellow. It cooks on high in 3 hours and will take 6 hours on low. Perfect for those days when you'll be out running around on errands and want to come home to a hot meal.

Here are the basic ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cup sliced onions
1 and 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cut small into 1/2 in pieces
1/4 cup chicken broth or veggie broth (I use the Reduced Sodium veggie paste, you can find it in the soup aisle) It's called Better than Bouillon and comes in a jar.
1 and 1/2 cups chopped sweet peppers
chicken sausage with apples (12 oz package, either veggie version or real)
1/2 cup shredded Swiss (I used Carlsbad because I had some in the fridge.)

Some tarragon, either fresh or dried, is good. Also, use a little thyme if you have it.

Here's what you do.

Saute sausage and onion in one Tablespoon oil in non stick skillet. Takes about 5 minutes.  Now spray your crock pot with Pam. (or use a liner).

Now, add sausage mixture to potatoes, pour broth over and cover. Cook on low 6 hours or on high 3  hours. Stir in sweet peppers and cheese. Cook 15 minutes more. Add black pepper if you like it. Also add tarragon and thyme.


Bon appetit! 

Mary Kennedy

Friday, November 30, 2018

Holiday Greeting Cards

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

Something I've always loved about the holidays is receiving Christmas (and or holiday) greeting cards. I love opening the mailbox and finding a pretty card (even better with sparkles!) and well wishes from someone I don't hear from often.  Of course, these days, not that many people continue with this charming tradition. The cards themselves are a lot cheaper than the postage. At 50 cents a pop--it can become quite expensive. (At right are the stamps I chose for this year's cards.)  I remember when I used to send out over 100 cards every year. These days ... not even half that.

It was in England in 1843 when Sir Henry Cole commissioned art for cards and sold them for a shilling each that the tradition began. That was a pretty penny in those days. You can read all about it here.

My parents used to tape their holiday cards up around the doorway in the living room. I carried on that tradition when I got in my first apartment. We have a cork wall in our entryway and that's where we hang them now. Mr. L has his side and I have mine.

It was more than a decade ago that I started collecting vintage greeting cards and I have quite a few. Of course, I have even more on one of my Pinterest boards.

Will you be sending out cards this year?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A New Release and a Launch Party


Caprice rescues this
adorable Schnoodle and
finds a home for him in
I'm so excited to announce my newest release is available now!  CUT TO THE CHAISE, my eighth Caprice De Luca Home Staging mystery, is a cozy mystery which revolves around Caprice's and Grant's wedding.  It is available online and in bookstores.

Join me for my Facebook launch party tonight (November 29, 2018) from 7 to 9 p.m. EST.  There will be chat, prizes and details about CUT TO THE CHAISE.  Please click HERE to access my KarenRoseSmithBooks author page for the party.

Here is a preview of CUT TO THE CHAISE:

Caprice De Luca and Grant Weatherford are getting married!  They are supposed to have their reception at a local winery, Rambling Vines, that Caprice's brother Vince, an attorney in Kismet, Pennsylvania, recommends and Caprice has decorated.  But a few weeks before the wedding, the winery owner, Travis Dodd, is murdered in the tasting at Rambling Vines.  His wife Michelle, an old flame of Vince's, asks for his help when she's taken to the police station for questioning.  It's quite possible that Caprice's best friend, Roz Winslow, will have problems with Vince helping an ex.  Their live-in relationship might not hold up under the burden of Vince advising a woman he was once involved with.  Caprice intends to make sure her brother's romance doesn't hit a speed bump by solving this murder mystery quickly...before her marriage to Grant.

Caprice uses peonies in her wedding bouquet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hi, Evie Bloomfield here from the Cycle Path mysteries

In case you didn’t know... This is how me getting to Mackinac Island all started...
You see, I was a graphic designer at a firm in Chicago. I came from a family of lawyers, really successful lawyers. My siblings, Trevor and Lindsey, are the perfect offspring. They made perfect grades and now work at the perfect law firms. Fact is Lindsey just made partner!
My boss didn’t know I was alive, I hadn’t had a promotion in two years and was still on the bottom rung of the office pecking order. My apartment was the size of a pool table but most pool tables were nicer.
I needed a raise! I needed something to brag about at Thanksgiving dinner, the next big family get-together. The way things were going I was headed to be eating turkey at the little kids table.
So, I had a plan. My boss’s father owned a bicycle shop on Mackinac Island and had broken his leg. He was really laid up and can’t do much. I figured if I offer to go help him out, maybe spruce the place up because he couldn’t I just might get my boss’s attention. At least maybe she’d remember my name. Seems to me that was the first step in getting a raise.
I could just quit the job and move on but I had years invested here. So, I left Chicago and went to an eight mile chunk of land in the middle of a lake to try and wheedle a promotion out of my boss.
I’ve never been to Mackinac Island! Wow, was I in for a huge surprise of no cars and only big horses and bikes to get around. That my boss’s dad got accused of murder on my watch did not help my chances of that promotion one bit.
So my question to you today is, have you ever been to a place that was completely a big surprise? Someplace where you felt completely out of it?
Hugs, Evie

Duffy Brown
Cycle Path mysteries

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Kelly Flynn #16

by Maggie Sefton

Yes, Everyone, the latest Kelly Flynn mystery is the 16th in the best-selling series.  That still awes me.  Since today, Tuesday, is a travel day---leaving Northern Virginia and returning to Colorado---- I decided to promote #16 once again----DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS.  And I still love that title.  :)

If you haven't read it yet, check it out on Amazon or  Enjoy!   

Monday, November 26, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                             

There are so many annoying scams going around these days, I thought I'd alert you to a few I've encountered this month. You probably have already heard of them, but it never hurts to review them!

FAKE MSN ALERT In this scam, you receive a phone call, purportedly (and falsely) from MSN. The caller alerts you that someone has gained access to your account, is scrolling through all your files and has even gotten ahold of your bank account numbers. The caller says (dramatically!) that the hacker is "withdrawing money from your account right now!" Well, it would be scary if true. Of course, not a word of this is true and the scammer wants you to give them your credit card info so THEY can start withdrawing money from your account. Solution? Just hang up.

HOLDING YOUR COMPUTER HOSTAGE FOR BITCOIN PAYMENT.  This is so silly I can't believe anyone falls for it, but apparently they do. You receive an e-mail telling you that the hacker 1) has all your passwords 2) "knows" your browsing history (and hints that it's something disgraceful that you wouldn't want revealed and 3) orders you to make a bitcoin payment to them or they'll reveal your "dirty secret" to the world. Pretty laughable. If anyone saw my browsing history, they'd know that I'm fond of recipes, book reviews and cat photos! Nothing shocking there. Solution? Ignore the e-mail. And by the way, I wouldn't know how to pay in bitcoin even if I wanted to.

NIGERIANS MESSAGING YOU ON FACEBOOK, PRETENDING TO BE HOLDING MONEY FOR YOU. Again, it's hard to believe anyone falls for this but it's been going around a long time, so someone must be forking over money to these crooks. Someone messages you and pretends they are holding a large amount of money. It's always unclear why a perfect stranger would be "holding" hundreds of thousands of dollars for you, but again, there must be some people who fall victim to this silly scam. The scammer asks that you wire them a few thousand dollars as a "handling fee" and they will immediately wire a huge amount of money to your bank account. Solution? Ignore the message, delete and block.

Hope none of these scams have gotten to you, but forewarned is forearmed and now you know what to do!

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, November 24, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                       

Today, Lola is hogging the spotlight. And that's okay, because at age 58 (she only admits to being 38), Lola is still trying to make it in Hollywood. Or at least in the world of South Beach films, because after all, South Beach is known as "Hollywood East." It's cheaper to film in Florida and lot of production companies are opening there.

Lola, in case you're not following the Talk Radio Mysteries (and I hope you are!) is Dr. Maggie's mother. She's starstruck, relegated to B movies and just hired a geriatric agent to help her career.
She's in all the Talk Radio books and you might like to start with DEAD AIR, the first of the series.

 Lola is finding it tough going in south Florida. The odds are against her. 98% of Actors Guild members are unemployed at any given time, and they're the cream of the crop. As Lola says, "It's tough being a woman of a certain age. Look at poor Mia Farrow. She was so adorable in Rosemary's Baby and now she's playing grandmothers."  Here's a current photo of Mia Farrow with her son, Ronan, still looking pretty darn good! (Does Ronan bear an uncanny resemblance to Frank Sinatra? Yes!)
Lola can really relate to the movie, Jimmy Hollywood starring Joe Pesci and Christian Slater. Joe Pesci plays an unemployed actor who "always thought he'd make it" and goes to great lengths to get a career in acting. 

Lola was thrilled to get a bit part in a movie in book two of the Talk Radio series, REEL MURDER. When her old friend, film director Hank Watson, decides to shoot a movie in south Florida, he hires Dr. Maggie as a consultant and gives Lola a speaking part. Lola is over the moon until the leading lady is murdered and the film is shut down.

She joins Dr. Maggie and the whole crew of WYME Radio as they hurry to solve the crime.

Hope you enjoyed this brief look at Lola, who is "eternally young." By the way, Lola's secret to eternal youth? Lie about your age!

By Mary Kennedy

Friday, November 23, 2018

Not so many Frequently Asked Questions

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

Like the Cozy Chicks, I have a Facebook Group Page. I'm not sure what I expected when I set the page up, but I thought I'd get a lot more questions about my books and about my writing life.

Didn't happen. Instead, we talk a lot about our lives...what tea we're drinking (after all, it's called Lorraine's and Lorna's Perpetual Tea Party), but mostly we talk about our days. What we expect and what happens. That can sound mundane, but it's really not. One of my readers was recently on Jeopardy! (That's something I'll never get to do!) We celebrate the days of the week, food, and generally have fun. Sometimes someone will post something sad, looking for comfort--and my readers are there to deliver it.

We have a lot of ladies in the group, but also gentlemen, too. Ever;ybody is welcome.

Next Thursday (November 29th, from 7 to 9 pm EST), I'm holding a Launch Party for my next Victoria Square Mystery, YULE BE DEAD. We'll have giveaways, share recipes, and talk about our Christmas Traditions. Why Christmas? Well, my book is a Christmas book, after all! Maybe we'll share gift-giving ideas, too.  You never know what these events will entail.

You're welcome to join in the fun.  Come on over and join my group.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Don't know about YULE BE DEAD? Here's a description.

It's the holiday season, but not everyone is jolly--especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found near Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne's mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many--but the clues are few. A broken teacup* leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a killer, but time is ticking because the killer is definitely closing in on her.

 Pre-Order now!

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

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

* The Broken Teacup is a short story in my companion series, Life on Victoria Square.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful For My Furry Family

by Karen Rose Smith

As I was preparing this week for Thanksgiving Day, a time for celebrating with friends and family, I stopped for a few moments to reflect on my furry family.  I am so grateful for the felines who have wrapped themselves around my heart.  The looks of trust and affection in their eyes show me how grateful they are for my care and the love I share with them each day.  Each of the felines has his/her own personality and I have learned to interact with them in their individual uniqueness.

Halo and Zoie love to share the bed and bask in extended periods of cuddling.  Zander, one of our year-old siblings, sometimes claims a spot near my pillow and Halo and Zoie reluctantly vacate their special spots to give him the chance to bond with me.  Paddy and Freya , on the other hand, are more loners, but Paddy appreciates a special treat or a passing back rub and Freya likes to be picked up and hugged when in her own territory which is usually our dining room.  After a year of adjustment following the arrival of Zander and Freya, the furry household seems to be settling into a feline family...not without its squabbles but filled with love.

Miss Paddington, Halo's kitten
And after three years, Bonnie and Clyde, our outside visitors, willingly come into the basement most evenings, but are ready to go back outside after their morning feeding.  They are showing more trust with both my husband and me, but still dart at the smallest movement or unfamiliar sound.  I can pet Clyde (when he chooses to allow me to do it) and Bonnie will occasionally tolerate a quick hand down her back as she walks by.

My furry family fills my otherwise work-filled days with laughter and affection.  For that, I am grateful not only this week but every week of the year.

Halo, Paddy's mother is pictured above and recent photos of the rest of my faithful felines are scattered through the post.





Too Much Turkey for me!!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

On the road again...

Well, it’s Turkey time again and getting together with family and friends and giving thanks for all that we have. This is the good side of the holiday, the bad side is the traffic.
Lordy, the traffic!! Christmas isn’t so bad as it’s spread out. Some people travel the weekend before, Christmas Eve, the day of or weekend after and so on but Thanksgiving is that day period. That means everyone hits the roads today if they are heading out of town.
And as if all the traffic isn’t enough we seem to have a huge amount of construction going on around here and I bet you do too. They got to get it in before the bad weather hits. There are orange barrels and flashing lights and lanes blending at snail paces that really slow things even more.
While we’re on the subject, don’t you hate those drivers who take the closed lane, knowing it’s closed and they squeeze in waaaaaaay up ahead in line. I think we should be allowed to shoot them with paintballs or something. UGH!!
I have my daughter coming in from NYC. I am over the moon excited but I know the airport will be a holy mess and traffic on the expressway will be a nightmare. Still I’m over the moon happy to see her again.

So what about you? Are you traveling? Having someone you love and miss coming in? Having someone you’d rather not see coming in ‘cause you couldn’t think of a we to say NO?
No matter what, have a great day and Happy Thanksgiving!
I am so thankful for all of you.
Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

by Maggie Sefton

I hope  Everyone in our Cozy Chicks Blog family has a wonderful and yummy food-filled Thanksgiving this Thursday.  I'm here in Northern Virginia with my family.  Yesterday I spent time with my granddaughter AnaSofia and daughter Melissa at one of my favorite coffee shops in Vienna, Virginia, one of our older Northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C.  Also got to briefly visit with my oldest daughter Christine as she hurried from job to family errands.

Today, my daughter Maria is picking me up and we'll drive over to her home in Washington, D.C. so I can celebrate Thanksgiving with her family and the wonderful grandchildren I've acquired since her marriage to husband John.   We were going to drive down to the River house just a   block away from the Potomac and surrounded by woods and deer peeking out, but demands from both Maria and John's offices intervened.  Such is the story for many of our Cozy Chicks families, I'm sure.

So, I will leave you with some photos of the kids roasting marshmallows in the River house fireplace and maybe a squirrel photo or two.  Love Brazen Squirrel.  :)

Below is a large family photo taken a few years ago when we were able to gather all the troops for my birthday.

Monday, November 19, 2018


by Mary Kennedy                                             

I was so inspired by Karen Rose Smith's blog on how she helps ferals, that I decided to tackle the subject myself. Karen provided this terrific photo, I'd never thought of using bales of straw to make this arrangement, but it's very practical and I know outdoor cats would appreciate it.  

Here's what my experience has been. (Be sure to click on the link above to Karen's blog, because she's been more successful than I've been and she has some really practical tips.)

I bought two igloos and for some reason, no one used them!! The occasional raccoon wandered in, took one sniff and walked away. No idea what the problem was. They were pricey and I won't make that mistake again. I'm going to donate them to a local shelter and perhaps they can give them to someone who manages a feral colony. 

The next thing I tried was a homemade outdoor home out of a big storage tub, lined with insulation and blankets. I realized later that the blankets weren't a great idea, they got wet, and straw would have been a better choice. Also, I don't think the circular hole we made for an entrance was big enough. Maybe the cats are claustrophobic, but no one used it! My local shelter, Faithful Friends, devotes a whole day to making these and loads of volunteers show up. Here's a photo below that gives you an idea how to proceed. All you do is cut a circular hole and line the tub with squares of styrofoam and then put the lid back on. It costs about $20.00 for the supplies. You add straw to the bottom.


One of my friends swears by a "self-warming heated pad" that she uses for some outdoor ferals and for a couple of her indoor cats who have arthritis. I have to confess, I'd never heard of these, but they're inexpensive (some are under ten dollars) and it's an interesting idea. If anyone has experience with these I hope you'll share them with me. I'm always looking for new ways to help the kitties.


If you don't want to struggle with plastic storage tubs and styro oam insulation, you can buy a nice house for about $60.00. They come in heated and unheated versions.


I've had such awful luck with the igloos that I wonder if any outdoor critters would use the cute little house pictured above. Actually, I don't have any feral cats anymore, They've been taken in, neutered, vetted and become "Kennedy cats." But I do worry about the raccoons, rabbits, possums, etc who wander over from the state park, so I'll probably try to do something this winter.

Hope you stay warm and cozy this winter! And let's all do what we can for our outdoor friends.

Mary Kennedy