Tuesday, March 26, 2019

DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS

by Maggie Sefton




Don't forget about Kelly Flynn #16, everyone.  It was released in hardcover from Penguin Publishing's Berkley Prime Crime in July of last year, 1918.  The mass market paperback edition of DYEING UP LOOSE ENDS will be released in June of this year, 2019.  I'm literally tying up a lot of loose ends in this Kelly Flynn mystery, so if you haven't read it yet, you might want to give it a try.  


Four years have sped swiftly by, and Kelly Flynn and friends are all busy with children and careers.  Baby Jack is now a rambunctious four-year old pre-schooler.  The folks at Lambspun knitting shop are all immersed in the wonderful world of fiber until they are shocked by the murder of one of the cafĂ©’s lovable staff. 

Kelly’s sleuthing instincts immediately go on alert, and she starts asking questions.  But the answers are even more surprising---and dangerous.                


Monday, March 25, 2019

WHICH COMES FIRST, THE CHARACTERS OR THE PLOT?

By Mary Kennedy



A reporter asked me this question and I gave a flippant reply. "The check, of course!! The check comes first." She didn't know about advances so I explained that I received an advance before my fingers hit the keys.

But that got me thinking. Which does come first? It's an interesting question. When I came up with the idea for Talk Radio Mysteries, the character of Dr. Maggie Walsh intrigued me. She's a psychologist who closed up her Manhattan practice to move to sunny south Florida to work as a radio talk show host. And she solves a murder in every book. The character and plot are intertwined. The zany crew at WYME Radio and Dr. Maggie and her sleuthing are all connected.

When I was writing young adult novels, the plot and character often came to me together. I was sitting at the News Cafe in South Beach having iced tea. A beautiful spot, with the bright Florida sunshine shaded by an umbrella. And bingo! I had an idea for a novel set in South Beach.
                                                                         
                                                   

There were beautiful people strolling by and one particularly pretty young blonde girl. She was the inspiration for Amber Fielding in GOLDEN GIRL  I watched her, fascinated, as she made her way to an Art Deco hotel and gave a friendly nod to the doorman. She was loaded down with shopping bags and I decided that she must live there.

                                                                             

Golden Girl is part of the Hollywood Nights series for teens. The series has three books, two set in Hollywood...

and one set in South beach. (which is known as Hollywood East because so many films are made there.)

I've been meaning to go back and write a sequel to Golden Girl and add to the series but life keeps intervening! I'm sure you all have had the same experience. The desire is there but there are only so many hours in the day.

The two Hollywood books in the Hollywood Nights series are MOVIE STAR and CONFESSIONS, the sequel. 

                                                                          

Here's Confessions, the sequel...also set in Hollywood. 
                                                                         

In all three books, the plot and characters seemed to come at the same time!! I wonder if most writers have this experience. I'll have to poll my friends and see what they say.

By Mary Kennedy

Friday, March 22, 2019

Something to get lathered up about

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

I like soap. When I was a little girl, my next-door neighbor used to bring back all the little cakes of soap from her business trips and vacations. I was fascinated by all the different wrappings.  I had an extra Barbie doll case where I stored all these wonderful little soaps. I also remember swiping a British Rail soap for my collection when I was ... cough cough ... we won't go into how long ago that was.

Anyway, I'm still fascinated by soap. I often buy sample sizes because I like the wrapping or the scent. I currently have enough soup to bathe most of Western NY. Part of that is because I have a big glass jar that sits on my bathroom vanity and is filled with Yardley Oatmeal and Almond soaps.  (The jar will hold at least ten bars.)  My mother told me that the old soap lasts longer than new soap.  Is that true? I don't know, but I rotate the soap when the jar is half empty and I stock up.

Right now I'm using a sample soap that's got olive oil in it.  Stacked up in waiting are soaps that smell like lilac, lemon, and goodness knows what. I stayed in a hotel in Ottawa once that had apricot-scented glycerine soap. Wow -- I liked that a lot. So for a year or two, I bought a bunch of glycerine soaps because they give you nice, soft skin. I bought this little square of black current & olive butter soap last summer and have hesitated to use it. It smells wonderful, but I just love the packaging and don't want to lose it.

I had a very nice soap I opened in January that had a nice scent, but I noticed that the more I used it, the less it lathered. So I googled "my soap doesn't lather" and found out that ... for a soap to work, it really doesn't need to lather all that much. Something about dirt and the surface tension ratio of soap to water. It sounded reasonable, but I chucked it because I like more lather than it was giving me.

And then there are those foaming soaps. My hairdresser gave me one for Christmas and I like the foam, but the Cherry Chill scent was overpowering for me.  I think it will live in my powder room. I like "bar" soaps best.

So, what's your favorite soap?


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Visiting the Grandkitties

by Karen Rose Smith


We just returned home from spending a few quiet days of family time with our son who lives half of the country away.  His house is, like ours, filled with pets.  I always look forward to interacting with his two cats--Willow, a beautiful long-haired calico and Mina, a short-haired calico with unique markings. 

Willow is the inspiration for Sophia in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery series.  She appears in all of the books and is always part of the interactions when a scene plays out in Caprice's house. 

Willow always greets us at the door when we arrive and does not hesitate to curl up in the bed with me.

Mina, on the other hand, is only two years old.  She is much more shy.  During our visit shortly after she arrived at her forever home, she hid in the bedroom until the night before we were scheduled to return home.  Then she slowly made her way into the living room to join us and cautiously engaged in some play with the cat wand.  Now, three visits later, she still scurried to hide but reappeared within a few hours and enjoyed playing.  This time she even allowed me to pet her for a short time.  I know patience is important when dealing with new arrivals and that the time distance between our visits is not ideal to building trust, but hopefully the next time she will be at the door to greet us like her sister.

Mina does enjoy spending time watching the fish in our son's many aquariums.  Her favorite is the Molly tank.  She perches on top of her scratching post and watches the activity, ignoring everyone else in the room.  When she tires of watching, she can sametimes be encouraged to play for a while before retreating to one of her hiding spots. 

Although I enjoyed visiting the grandkitties, I still missed my own fur babies.  I would like to think that they missed me as much, but our pet sitter does such an excellent job of caring for them that they didn't seem to notice that I was gone. 


And today...everything was back to normal!

Special effects make Willow's portrait look like an oil painting.

One of our son's salt water aquariums.



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Why Cozies she asked

I often ask myself why are cozy mysteries so popular...and they are. I love ‘em, you do, lots of people do but exactly why? It’s like why some love Coke and others Pepsi? And to tell you the truth most don’t love both equal.

Readers who love mystery do not love romance equally or syfy the same. Oh, they say they read everything but truth be told they will head to the romance OR mystery OR syfy etc section of the bookstore every time. 

I’ve thought about this love of cozies and came up with this.

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, March 19, 2019

Couldn't Resist. . . .

by  Maggie Sefton



These pictures that I'm posting today.  That's what I couldn't resist.  I was deciding what to post about for today, and I was scrolling through one of my files that contains lots of photos that I've posted to blogs, used for  postcards promoting releases. and all sorts of things.






These go back several years and were taken at Lambspun Yarn Shop.  I particularly love the adorable lamb that a Lambspun regular brought to the shop one Saturday.  :)  Also, those gorgeous Lambspun yarn skeins that just beg to be touched.







Maybe these photos will inspire some of you to check into some of your local yarn and fiber shops.  See what's hanging on their walls and draped across cabinets and tables.  You may be surprised, and I don't believe you will be bored.  Not at all.   Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2019

WHAT DO YOU VALUE IN A FRIENDSHIP?

By Mary Kennedy                                                 

I was sitting with a group of friends and the conversation turned to friendship. What do you value in a friendship? Why are friendships so important in our lives? What is a good friend?  
        
                                                                                   


Here is how we finished the sentence, a friend is...

1. Someone who is there for us when we need them. (Even if we pretend we don't need them and try to tough it out ourselves.)

2. Someone who is happy to listen to us and not judge.

3. Someone who offers sage advice when we veer off track.

4. Someone who is thrilled to celebrate the happy times with us, not just commiserate on the sad ones.
                                                                       

5. Someone who "gets" us. Really understands us at a deep level and loves us in spite of our faults.

6. Someone who can keep our secrets and would never betray a confidence.

7. Someone who lifts us up when we are down.

8. Someone who reminds us of our strengths when we are feeling weak and defeated.

9. Someone who has faith in us.

10. Someone who is never too busy to uplift us and enlighten us.
                                                                              

How about you? Do you have special friends in your life that make you feel grateful and blessed? If so, you are very lucky and I bet you are a good friend to them, too!

By Mary Kennedy

Friday, March 15, 2019

The experiment begins

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

Some of you might remember that I love Indian food. I like spicy food (either Indian or Mexican), too.  But ... I'm not fond of Indian or Mexican restaurants.  A) Most Indian restaurants have a buffet. They food is good but ... not spicy (because many Americans seem pretty timid about spices) and B) Most buffets aren't hot.  Not talking spicy here, talking temperature.  It seems like there must be a shortage of sterno under the "warming" trays.

So ... the answer?

Make it myself.  I've got a few Indian recipes that I make over and over again, but I've decided I want to do more. I'd like to make at least one new recipe a week. My only real problem is that I usually don't have the ingredients on hand, so this is going to take some planning. It's not so much the spices--I've got them and use them a lot, mostly for breakfasts and lunches (yup, I put curry powder in my omelets--garlic and cumin, too).  It's things like plain yogurt and coconut milk.

So, in my quest for new-to-me food (and I'm not adverse to eating more vegetarian, either), here's the first recipe I made. And since there are only two of us, it made a HUGE amount of leftovers.

Easy One-Pot Cauliflower Curry Recipe
Ingredients
1 medium cauliflower head cut into florets
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 cups white onions,  chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
4 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups diced tomato with the juice from the can
2 cups green peas — frozen or fresh (optional)
 ¾ cups coconut milk from the can — not carton coconut milk
cooked rise

In a large pot, add 2 cups of water and place a steamer in the bottom.
Bring the water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets in the steamer basket, cover the pot, and steam for about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the steamer basket (with the cauliflower) from the pot and let the cauliflower cool down for 5 minutes. Set aside. (Discard water.)

Return the pot  to the stove and add oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautĂ© until the onions are tender (3 to 5 minutes) Add the cumin, coriander, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine everything. Add the tomatoes, green peas (if using) and stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower back to the pot. Cook everything together for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Serve over cooked rice.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

Truthfully, I upped the curry and garlic, and next time I make it, I'll put in some cayenne in for heat. I also opted not to add the peas, but I think I will next time (only I might only put in 1 cup).

And how was it?

Terrific.  And it made a LOT. (Guess what I'll be having for lunch for the next few days.)

What new recipe have you made for yourself and/or your family?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A New Release

by Karen Rose Smith



Along with my Kensington cozy mysteries, I also write romances for Harlequin.  I was so pleased when they asked me to participate in a new continuity series--Furever Yours.  The series centers around a pet rescue center in North Carolina.  My novel in the series is THE NANNY CLAUSE which will be released on March 19 in print and on April first as an e-book.  The hero and heroine's love story revolves around his three adorable daughters and a pregnant stray cat that becomes a part of his family.  


It was easy for me to write the feline birthing scenes because my husband and I had experienced the event with a pregnant stray cat we found in our backyard and took into our home.  She had her litter of kittens under the desk in my office.  It was awe-inspiring to watch the birth and the immediate bonding Halo developed with her three kittens.  




We found good homes for two of the kittens and kept Halo and her firstborn Miss Paddington.  Four years later, the two of them still have a special bond...they eat together and share the solitude of my office at night. 

Here is a preview for THE NANNY CLAUSE:

Three kids.  One pregnant cat.  And one perfect nanny…


When Daniel Sutton's daughters rescue an abandoned calico, the hardworking attorney doesn't expect to be sharing his home with a litter of newborns!  And the adorable kittens aren't his only house guests.  Animal shelter volunteer Emma Alvarez is transforming the lives of Daniel and his three girls.  The first-time nanny is a natural with kids and pets.  Will that extend to a single father ready to trust in love again?  

THE NANNY CLAUSE on Amazon

THE NANNY CLAUSE on Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Family...the good the bad and the How in the heck can we be related.

Hi, Everyone, Reagan Summerside here talking about families and there are no families on this here planet closer than Southern families and that includes the Summersides. We’re all different for sure...

Mamma and KiKi were sisters. At birth the muses tangoed over auntie’s crib turning her into Savannah’s dance diva and they wrapped mamma in a blanket with little elephants resulting in this campaign and me getting the name Reagan.

but we’re there for each other when it counts like now when Mamma’s running for office! 

“People are going to hate me if I do this,” I said to Auntie KiKi. “They’re going to cuss a blue streak and call me names and tell me to mind my own blankety-blank business and then slam the phone in my ear.” 

                              
     “Oh for crying in a bucket, Reagan.” KiKi shoved a computer printout at me. “Time to put on your iron-clad bloomers and dial the numbers on this here sheet. It’s your very own mamma everyone in this room is trying to get elected to city council. 

The last thing on earth I want to do is make campaign calls but I will because it’s for Mamma. I keep reminding myself this is the woman who single-handedly raised me after Daddy went boar hunting with the good old boys proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that guns and Johnny Walker Red are indeed a mighty poor mix.

Mamma and Auntie KiKi have always been there for me not rubbing it in when I divorced Hollis Beaumont the Third when they both told me from the get-go he was a horse’s patoot. 

Usually I let them have their way because they are my elders and the fact that they don’t listen to me any more than I listen to them but on occasion I put my foot down and get my way.


I studied Mamma and Auntie KiKi and Bruce Willis, a huge wave a thankfulness that we were still here in this kitchen sucking air pouring over me. “We need a group hug,” I blurted.
       “Honey,” KiKi said in her best auntie voice. “This isn’t California, we’re Republicans. We’re more a kiss on the forehead you’ll be fine as a fiddlekind of family then we just move on with life.”
I folded my arms across my too tight green warm-up suit and held my ground. 



And then there’s my wedding that’s just around the corner...

         …you’re walking me down the aisle, BW is the ring bearer, Mamma is officiating and we’re having pot roast and mac and cheese for dinner. You got to admit that’s better than rubber chicken. And of course the best part is I’m marrying the best guy ever.


Okay, so you know my family and now I want to know about yours. When was the last time you did something for them when you reeeeeally didn’t want to? Dog sit? Kid sit? Throw a party for obnoxious Uncle Harry? 
 




Tuesday, March 12, 2019

It's That Time Again

by Maggie Sefton



Wow!  It's Tax Time again.  Time to gather all your bank statements, W-2 forms, and get to work.  If you're one of the millions of Americans----and the vast majority----it will be quick work.  You can easily fill out a single or a married filing jointly tax return and drop it in the mail.  Easy, easy.

However, if you are one of us who have small businesses (and writing fiction is a very small sector of the American Economy), it is the time to gather all the receipts and 1099 forms that show income received during the previous year and categorize and total everything.  And write it down.  If we are comfortable enough with filling out tax forms, then we can correctly fill out the IRS form Schedule C for Sole Proprietors (of small businesses).  Since I had spent many years as an accountant and a CPA before that, I did all the preparatory work and filled out the forms myself, even during the early years when I was working as an accountant in various offices and writing fiction at nights and weekends.  .  Then, when the Kelly Flynn Mysteries were published and began selling (quite well, I'm pleased to say), I decided to turn the final phase of the job over to a CPA.  Thank goodness!  It was quite time consuming, and I had fiction to write.

The characters from DEADLY POLITICS were banging on the door, demanding to be put on the page.  Then, a few years later, the characters from my 1890 Historical Mystery---SCANDALS, SECRETS AND MURDER---started demanding their turn onstage.

Cozy Chicks Blog readers and friends are well aware of how pushy and assertive fictional characters can be because the Chicks have shared that with you over the years.  And all  of the Chicks are SO very grateful and happy that you enjoy our books.  Meanwhile, join the rest of us and finish up those tax forms---or---hand everything over to an experienced accountant.  Then, you can relax with a good book.  :)    Enjoy!  


Monday, March 11, 2019

TRUSTING YOUR GUT, YOUR BRAIN OR THE FLIP OF A COIN

By Mary Kennedy                                             
                                                                       

What do you do when you have an important decision to make? When a major life choice looms ahead of you?  I've noticed Lori Grenier from Shark Tank often says, "What does your gut tell you?"
                                                                             

This the traditional advice and most people would approve of it. They believe it trusting their gut to lead them down the right path and not make a mistake. (and maybe you feel this way, I don't know!)

It's not easy making choices and people are resistant to change. It unsettles them, makes them feel nervous and insecure. Whether small or large, a decision can definitely be a stressor. The thought of making the wrong decision can make us literally paralyzed with doubt and fear. And a big dose of anxiety
                                                                           



But going back to the "trust your gut" philosophy, did you know that a recent study shows that people do better when they take a more rational approach to decision-making and leave emotion out of it?  How can this be, you wonder! It flies in the face of conventional wisdom. And could you do it? Here's how it works.
                                                                             
                                                                                         

. When you come across a novel situation, your brain begins to analyze it, but emotions also creep in.  And memory creeps in. So when the brain recognizes a "familiar" situation, it immediately searches  memory banks for similar scenarios. 

And here's where your emotions may play tricks on you. Your recall of a past situation may not be as complete as you think, and the memory may be partial. So if your emotions bring up a small negative connotation to the past situation, you might be ready to throw out the present situation without properly examining it. You might think, "I've been down this road before and it didn't bode well!"

Throwing out the baby with the bath water, to coin a cliche!! And no one wants to do that.

The secret? It's okay to recall past situations but make sure your emotions aren't outweighing your rationality and common sense.

And if you're wondering how the flip of a coin comes into decision making, it's how my best friend always makes her decisions. She simply flips a coin. Heads she says yes, tails she says no to an opportunity.
                                                                           


Why does this work? Because it doesn't matter which way the coin lands. What depends is your reaction to the result. Are you happy or sad? Did you wish the coin toss had gone the other way? It really focuses your thinking. Try this the next time you have a decision to make and see if it works for you!

By Mary Kennedy










Friday, March 8, 2019

The Dogs Next Door

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

About 14 months ago, new neighbors moved in.

They had dogs. Rather big dogs.

Ruh-roh!

When I was five, I got bitten by a wire fox terrier who was just as big as me when he charged and knocked me down. Since then, I've been wary about "big" dogs.

I love dogs. Little dogs. My parents had scotches and Westies and they were pretty much sweet little dogs. Mac (the Scottie and their first) was our favorite, but their last dog, Jessie, was also a sweetheart, and in between was Buddy, who was a joy to walk. I would love to have a dog--preferably a small poodle mix. Supposedly, poodles don't smell when they get wet. But -- Mr. L isn't a dog person. He once was, but I converted him to being a cat person, and now he doesn't want to look back. *Sigh*

And so our neighbors have these largish dogs. We thought that might be a problem, but it turns out it hasn't. Their yard wasn't fenced when we moved in, and the chain-link fence we had wasn't up to code. Mind you, it was grandfathered in, but since the new neighbors also had children--one of whom was only three, we decided to upgrade our fence. Oooba-dooba -- that was a headache, and incredibly expensive. Even worse, they said they could do the fence in one day. They didn't. So there was our in-ground pool EXPOSED for more than 24 hours and there was a small child next door. (The dogs had been going out on leashes for their outdoor visits.) Finally the fence was in, but the gate was not. I'm a born worrier, so that was another headache. Finally, the gate and fence were finished. And a few weeks later, the neighbors finished off fencing their yard on both sides of the house.  Looks very nice.

That's when they started letting their dogs loose in the yard, and since then we have had hours of entertainment.

These are very quiet dogs. So when we hear them bark, we know they mean business.  Usually there's a squirrel (or some other animal) on the other side of the big fence at the back of their yard, which the previous owner put in as a wind break. When we hear them bark, we usually look out the window. Yup--one of them has barked to say, "We're cold! Let us in." Sure enough, a few seconds later, the back door opens and dogs go inside with their tales wagging incredibly fast.  Sometimes we see them wrestling in the snow. The other day, I was clearing the driveway and one of them (Lucy) came bounding up to the fence to warn me not to intrude on her territory. I told her, "Good dog!" She kind of blinked and said, "Oh, okay" and then ran back to play with her pack-mate.

Next time I get a chance to talk to the neighbors, I'm going to ask if it would be okay for me to give them dog biscuits. I'd like to make friends with them.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of one of our new kittens, Poppy. Isn't she adorable? (Um, for some reason she thinks she can help me write. She also likes to sit on my mouse which is uncomfortable for both of us.) It's okay if Mr. L has become a cat person. It really is.

Are you a dog or cat (or other animal) person?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Did You Ever Try a Vegetable You Didn't Like?

by Karen Rose Smith



Did you ever try a vegetable you didn't like?  I have!  Vegetables are not my favorite culinary menu item.  But I am very aware of the necessity of including them in my daily diet.  In the past, I ate (but didn't enjoy) steamed vegetables, often frozen and purchased in a bag.  I recently decided to "clean up" my diet.  I knew I needed to include more vegetables, but the question was--How did I do it in such a way that I could actually enjoy the foods that I was preparing?



I began experimenting with roasting my vegetables, concentrating on ingredients that enhanced the taste.  I tried to steer away from casserole dishes that used cheese, canned soups and bread crumbs.  My objective in this diet is to stay away from anything with preservatives.





So...I sent my husband to the Amish market where we often buy fresh produce and to the grocery store.  His list included--cabbage, parsnips, carrots, onions, cauliflower, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, sweet onions and both yellow and green zucchini.  Now I use a portion of each type we purchased for a meal and they keep in the vegetable drawer to use again.



Roasting vegetables brings out their true flavor.  The caramelization enhances their sweet goodness.  We've now experimented with several herbs and ingredients to flavor them differently. If you have access to an olive oil store that has flavored oils, you can figure out what you like best with those.




One of the things I like best about roasting a cookie sheet full or broiling pan full of vegetables is that we have them left over.  They taste just as good warmed up for another meal.  As you can see below, I don't worry about how I cut up the vegetables.  Unlike on the cooking shows where every type of vegetable needs to be the same size, I like a variety of shapes and thicknesses. It doesn't seem to affect the cooking time on the whole pan.  So if you're not a vegetable person but you want to be, try roasting with herbs, oils and your imagination!



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Spring is in the air


There is still snow on the ground and it’s so darn cold here in Cincy but one of these days and not too far off spring is bound to come, right? Fact is they are calling for 50 degrees here this weekend. Yippee.
That sure puts a spring in my step and in my heart. So to get ready for spring I decided to do something fun, really fun. I bought an air bee and bee.
Okay, what is an air bee and bee? It’s a bee house! You probably know that bees are amazing pollinators and Mason bees and Leafcutter bees are champions in this sport.
I’ve always wanted to raise bees. Not sure if you actually raise bees as they do the work themselves. The reason I didn’t jump into this before is because I thought all bees stung and all bees made honey.
Wrong!
So here’s a little bee 101. Mason bees and Leafcutter bees do not make honey and they do not sting. This is really important when you have grandkids who get into every nook and cranny no matter how many times you warn them not too.
So my non-sting bees are a perfect choice from my garden and doing my bit to help the bee population under attack from pesticides.
I got the house and supposed to put it in a sunny east section of the yard three to six feet off the ground. My bees are mailed...yes, mailed...to me in April. Thus we get the name air bee and bee.
I just put in a new garden last fall as my old garden was for sun and with the trees taking over my yard I needed sun/shade pants. I sure hope all my efforts pay off. And now I have the bees to pollinate the new flowers. I’ll post pictures of the bee house when I get it up and the bees hard at work. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Spring Snow

by Maggie Sefton




The photo adjacent shows the newly shoveled walkway to my Fort Collins, Colorado house and driveway after a March snowstorm on Saturday dumped 6" of fresh dry powder.  Our milder late February temps disappeared and dropped into the single digits.  I hire a great  strong young man who does a wonderful job of shoveling snow for me every Winter.  I stopped doing that chore several years ago.  


I'm thinking this is Winter's Goodbye.  At least. . .I hope it's Goodbye.  :)  My 15 year old black Border Collie/Black Lab mix Katy had speedy trips outside for breakfast and dinner plus afternoon breaks.  Not a good time for our pets to be out for long.  The Weather Channel (my favorite channel)  informed us yesterday  this same snowstorm was moving East.  It's in the MidWest now.  When you read this post on Tuesday morning, I imagine the snow will have reached the East Coast.  Ohhhhh,  yes . . the Weather Channel is also telling us that there's a second winter storm with snow that's ready to move onto the California coast by this weekend.

Oh well, Spring is right around the corner. . . .I think.   Fingers crossed.   Stay warm, Everyone.  

Monday, March 4, 2019

A CAT NAMED SIGGY

By Mary Kennedy                                             

I saw this great graphic on Instagram and thought it might make a fun topic for a blog. Almost all the mystery writers (and mystery readers) I know love cats, so it's usually a popular topic on the links and on social media sites.

Everyone has their favorite cat stories, some funny,some touching. I've had many cats over the years and one of my favorites involves a large black tuxedo cat named Siggy. All my cats are rescues, by the way, so I'm never really sure how old they are, but I think he was about six when I adopted him. He was an amazing cat and always reminded me of The Cat That Walked By Himself.

                                                                        

There was something a little aloof and independent about him; he wasn't a lap cat or a cat who liked to be cuddled. He loved to "hang out" with his humans, always keenly observing. He looked like a highly intelligent cat although I have no way of knowing for sure. He was definitely a survivor.

At one point in his life, he belonged to some college students. His favorite foods were fried chicken, pizza and spaghetti. I quickly changed him over to a more healthful diet.

                                                                              

He was very sensitive to my feelings and moods. One day when I had just come back from the vet I was sitting at the kitchen table, heart broken. I had to have my beloved Lucky put to sleep. I had found her in a vacant lot, emaciated and eating paper, many years earlier. 

 I was on my way to a job interview and stopped traffic as I jumped out and rescued her. She ran right over to me and started crawling up my leg into my arms. She knew I was there to help her! Very unusual. If I hadn't made a wrong turn in a rough part of town, I never would have seen her. Sometimes things are just meant to be.
                                                                             
   
 So after coming back from the vet, I sat at the kitchen table crying, trying to pull myself together and to my surprise, Siggy jumped up on the table and put his forehead against mine. I was getting his fur wet with tears but he didn't seem to mind. I'm sure he knew I was distressed and wanted to comfort me. He stood there for a long, long time. Every once in a while, he would pull back and look at me with such a sad expression. He knew his human was heart broken.  And I knew he wanted to help.
                                                                              


Siggy loved to nap on the sun porch with the other cats. He was never aggressive with them and seemed to think that this was "their" home and he was the newcomer.

He became terribly ill and we never really knew the cause, even after dozens of tests. We finally took him to the vet school at the Univ of Penn in Philly. They admitted they were stumped too and that Siggy was going downhill. The vet said gently, "If this were my cat, I wouldn't put him through any more tests. I would take him home and love him and let him go gently." Good advice, even though it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

I'm sure you have some cat stories to share and please do! I love to hear them.

Mary Kennedy (and the Kennedy cats)