Monday, February 5, 2018

All that clutter

When I'm doing non-thinking work on my computer (uh, goofing off. But still work--like graphics, or spreadsheets), I often have Youtube on in the background. I went through all seasons of The Unsellables on New Year's Day. Lots of times the show you're watching segues into something entirely different. I watched (or rather listened) a bunch of RV remodels, farm house renovations, and a bunch of decluttering videos.  Decluttering and organizational videos are VERY BIG on Youtube. All of a sudden, I was subscribing to all kinds of stuff. But it was the organizational and decluttering that kept me riveted.

Nobody wants to be seen as a hoarder, but my office was beginning to look like its owner had become one. The worst offender? Boxes of stuff (like bookmarks, postcards, etc.) and piles and piles of paper.

Well, last week I'd had enough. I knew there was some valuable stuff in those piles of paper, and I decided to go through a four-inch stack. It took me about an hour, and the discard pile had only three pieces in it. That meant something was going to have to change. Little did I know I'd be in for three intense days of decluttering.

It started with my file cabinet. I had stuff in there that was fifteen years out of date. And the stuff piled on top of it was inches thick, too.  I ended up shredding years and years worth of bank statements and checks, and tossing two and a half recycling bins full of paper (just to I could file the stuff I wanted to keep--and I found more papers in my closet that were also must saves).

It was The Messy Minimalist that said something that really got through to me in her Death Cleaning video.  Death Cleaning is a Swedish tradition where an older person goes through their things so their survivors won't have to do it when they're gone. Rachel was in a similar situation to me. Her mother had died without going through her things, and she had no idea what it was her mother valued most. I still have a room full of my mother's stuff and haven't been able to part with it. Watching that video, and several others where she talked about her mother's stuff, gave me permission to part with things I know couldn't have had any real value for my mother. (Who do you think taught me to love yard sales?) I don't get as attached as she did to that stuff (I have the catch-and-release program, after all), but I was able to come up with three boxes of stuff to take to Goodwill. And I cleared out a huge bag's worth of clothes from my bedroom closet, too.

I had planned on having a garage sale this summer, but Rachel also addressed why she doesn't do that.  Time. She just doesn't have time ... and as Mr. L has been trying to tell me for the past year, neither do I.

It's hard to break old habits, but I'm trying not to let papers sit. I've got a little sign by my computer that says, "Don't put it down--put it away" and I've been trying to do that. (I'm also amazed how much tidier my kitchen is this last week.)

Do you have any decluttering or organizations tips to share?

Monday, January 29, 2018

A non-fatal addiction

I guess it shouldn't come as a (rather recent) surprise to me that I have an addiction to jewelry. I mean, I'm a person who wears 15 rings (including on both my thumbs). For a few years, one of my Dad's hobbies was making jewelry. He took courses at the (Rochester) Memorial Art Gallery. He made all kinds of jewelry, including the lost-wax process.  He gave most of his pieces to my mother and me. Besides the rings (I wear 7 he made), he made pendants and bracelets.

But this post is about broken china jewelry. (I also wrote one in 2016.)

So ... I already had three necklaces made out of broken china.  One Mr. L gave me for Christmas a few years back. I absolutely LOVED it. You can wear it as a pin or on a chain. (Obviously I like it better on a chain.)

After a couple of years, I asked for a second one as yet another Christmas gift. I must admit, I'm not as fond of the second one. It's rather plain. Just a little flower. I tend to wear this one more in the summer -- because ... summer! Flowers!

For my third broken china pendant, I was feeling low and missing my parents. My Mum left me some money and I decided to treat myself to a third broken china pendant that I saw advertised on Facebook. It's Spode and is holly for the (what else?) hollydays. (Sorry about that.) And to make it more special, one of my readers (who has made jewelry) sent me the chain. In fact, she sent two!

These three pendants were in the $75+ range. and I R Cheap!  Mind you, they are definitely worth the extra price. The mounts are beautiful and very sturdy. These are definitely "professional pieces.

But since I'm a sap for old china (and buy far too much of it at yard sales), I wanted MORE broken china jewelry.  Actually, I broke one of my mother plates last summer and tried to find someone to make me a pendant out ofit.  At the time, I came up empty so I tossed out the broken plate. (BIG MISTAKE.)

While I was going through some of my mother's things last month, I found a little white box and inside was -- SURPRISE -- a broken china pendant and silver chain. Whoa! There was a sticker on the box from a museum in Vancouver, Canada. Wow--my mother had gone on a cruise to Alaska some 15+ years ago and one of the stops was in Vancourver where she must have visited the museum gift shop. I'm betting she bought the necklace for me and simply forgot she had it.  So ... guess who has a new-to-her piece of broken china jewelry.  Again, it's not my favorite, but it has great sentimental value because I (want to) believe she meant for me to have it.

Well, once you get more than three of anything, you have a collection. I guessed I was now collecting broken china pendants. I just happened to be on Etsy looking for something else (which I did not buy) and thought about broken china jewelry.  BIG MISTAKE.  I found a page called Marooned Jewelry. The pieces there don't have as "sturdy" mounts, but they are beautiful and a LOT cheaper than the others I had. We're talking the $25+ range. I immediately found one I like and -- oops! Next thing you know had ordered it. I love the pattern, love the flowers.

But then I realized -- oops again -- I'm going to need a chain. (Duh--forgetting the other chain my reader had sent.) So, we were on a boot-hunting expedition and Penney's had a deal on silver chains. BOGO. So, I got them. Brought them home and said to myself, "Self, this means you were meant to have yet ANOTHER broken china pendant. And so, back to Marooned Jewelry I went. This time, I ordered a brown transferware piece (because I collect brown transferware plates). Oooh! I love it!  (It arrived yesterday.)

But a funny thing happened during the time I was waiting for the brown transferware pendant to arrive.  I kept finding silver chains. I'm on an organizational kick and have been trying to get my bedroom organized. (Already have sent a big bag of clothes and a box full of stuff to Goodwill.) In all, I now have five empty chains. You know what that means ....

(P.S.  Marooned Jewelry will also make pieces from your broken china. I'm almost tempted to break a plate so that I can have one made.)

I know I can't have hundreds of broken china jewelry, so I started a Pinterest page so I can at least have a very large virtual collection.  You can see it here.

BTW, as part of my jewelry organization, I bought a bracelet display stand. I made a video about it yesterday. (A little dark, but you can get the idea of what I've got. Hopefully I'll get better the more videos I make.)  You can see it here.  And while you're there, I hope you'll subscribe to my new YouTube Channel (Lorraine's Fun Stuff). My regular (book trailer, etc.) Youtube channel is here.

Have you got a jewelry collection?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Finally got me a Hummel


Apple Tree Girl
Back in the 1970s and 80s, Hummels were hot! At every antique or collectibles establishment you went, there they were--and they weren't cheap. In fact, a cheap one might be about $75.

My ex-sister-in-law loved Hummels, and my mother gave her quite a few of them. I no longer recall what quite a few amounted to, but it was more than I ever got--which was nothing.  I hinted very strongly that I would like one, but ... it never happened. (I remember the first one ex-SIL got was the Apple Tree Girl.)

One of the reasons they struck a chord with me is that Mr. L and I worked with a man whose son made them. Yup. He decided at a young age that he loved Hummels and wanted to work for the factory that made them.  So, he learned to speak fluent German, as well as studied his craft in ceramics--and actually got a job there. Of course, all these years later, I have no idea if he's still there, but it was kinda cool -- and his father sure was proud of him.

But back to Hummels and me.

I never had one. Until last week. Mr. L took me to a thrift shop in a rather tony suburb. This shop opened in October but we only found out about it at Christmastime--when it shut down for a couple of weeks, and I didn't get to go until last week. WOW--can you say sticker shock? But then everything in it was good quality stuff. And they had three Hummels for sale.

The resale market for Hummels has gone right down the toilet. In fact, I read an article online about how it's one of the 10 collectibles that essentially has no secondary-market value. (Anything from Franklin mint comes next.)  But that doesn't mean I didn't want a Hummel.  They're incredibly cute.

Two of the Hummels were in the $35 range--and I wasn't going to lay out that kind of dough, but they had a small one for $12 and I decided to splurge. Isn't she cute?

Now this little tyke lives in one of my china cabinets surrounded by Chintz china cups (which have also lost their market value). I finally have my Hummel. And I bought her with money my mother left me after she passed. Thanks, Mum!

What collectibles do you covet, even if they have no real intrinsic value?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday with Fred


Other people's cats do cute stuff and love to pose for pictures. I tried to get my cat, Fred, to do a photo shoot yesterday and he wouldn't cooperate--wouldn't hold still, or when he would, he wouldn't look at the camera. Apparently he has no interest in cultivating a social media following. (Like, wow!)

If your pet photo afraid?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

And then I bought it ...

It's not my fault!

I've been trying to get all my websites straightened out with a new provider. Part of that has meant being on the phone for hours on end or waiting for (yet) another call. So what are you supposed to do while waiting?

Oh, yeah Google stuff.

Like broken china jewelry ...

And the next thing you know ... I was on Etsy and hit the buy button. Oops. Then I had to buy a chain. But honestly, this was 1/3 the cost of the last one I bought, so I actually saved money (right?).

Um ... I bookmarked the site because they have some really cool stuff, like this little kitty pendant and I might want to make a return visit (way too soon).



Did you do anything bad this week?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A teacup project you can do


And another Teacup Tuesday rolls around.  I found this little paper beauty on Pinterest. It's similar to the Christmas box I found at a yard sale several years ago.  I posted that on ,my Facebook Group (which you can join -- just click this link) and a number of my readers said they wanted to try making one. 


I'm useless at crafting, but ... I found a video that tells you how to make a basket out of greeting cards.  You can easily add a handle to the cup and craft a saucer.  Here's the Youtube link.

Do you think you'd like to make a greeting card teacup?

Friday, January 12, 2018

I turned it around FAST

Back in October, I put my latest Life On Victoria Square story, It's Tutu Much, for pre-order. But oddly enough, readers didn't seem interested in the story. I wondered if it was just the fact that the holidays were coming up, or if it might be the cover.  My beta readers liked the story and they liked the cover. But when it came to debut day, the pre-orders were 2/3 less than the previous three stories.

Something wasn't right.

I kept focusing on the wrong aspect of the story. I kept thinking it was about the children in the dance class, but the more I thought about it, the story is really about their teacher, Dana Milton.

I asked my review crew what they thought, and they were split. Some like the cover, some thought it looked like it was a children's story.  I didn't like hearing the latter, but I had to listen.  Although it's only been 10 days since the story has been out, the sales went right down the toilet. In fact, I've already had a couple of days without a single sale. That's not good.

So yesterday, I asked the members of my Facebook Group (Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party -- if you haven't joined--why not???) what they thought of the current cover and a dummy cover I put together.  I'm no Photoshop wiz, and I couldn't get the ballet dancer to stay on a colorful background. After a lot of trial and error, I managed to get her on a gray background.

Readers thought the covers were bland. They wanted color. They wanted a proper tutu. They wanted whimsy. They did NOT want a photo on the cover. The original cover didn't mesh with the other covers in the series.

They were right.

However, that didn't tell me what I needed to convey to my cover designer. So, I decided to let her decide what to do. I told her what the readers said, I showed her what I had done, and let her play with it.

I love what she came up with. It's whimsical, it's bright, there's color -- and the ballet and tap shoes say there's more than just one kind of dance being taught in this studio.

Being quickly able to correct something like this is one of the best things about being an indie author.  Had this been a traditionally published story, it would have been stuck with a "bad" cover for eternity. I was able to turn it around in less than two weeks from publication.

Now, see if you're more interested in the story.
 
 Dana Milton opens a dance studio on Victoria Square. Can she teach her students kindness,  respect, and shuffling off to Buffalo, or is it all tutu much?

Kindle | Kindle Worldwide

NookKobo  | iBooks


What do you think?





Thursday, January 11, 2018

I'm dreaming of yard sale season

This time last year, Mr. L and I were snowbirds for the first (and possibly last) time.  Of course, the current weather (with temps as low as the 30s) in Clearwater, would have made it rather unpleasant.  When you have cats, rental possibilities aren't that frequent and we were STUCK with a terrible rental house.  (The world's most uncomfortable beds, a house surrounded by millions of LIZARDS, and nightly kitchen visits from palmetto bugs, who usually died overnight -- but not always. That was the house from hell.)

Paid $2 for these three cocktail shakers for Mr. L's collection.
Good things?  HGTV. Publix. The Cricketer English Pub. And thrift shops and yard sales. There were scores of thrift stores near where we lived, and we visited every one of them (and more than once). And then eagerly searched the online listings for sales in our area. We learned Clearwater pretty quick driving around town looking for sales.

Our first weekend there, we went to five yard sales and a rummage sale.  IN JANUARY.  Now that's one part of the Florida lifestyle I could get used to in a hurry. We won't see a yard sale here until at least mid- to late April. *Sigh*

A prize from my holiday FB event.
No doubt about it, I'm a collector of many different items, but I also subscribe to the "catch and release" program. When I had a booth in an antiques arcade, I would buy stuff, live with it for a while, and then sell it. Now ... I mostly give stuff away.

I especially collect teacups and occasionally give them to readers via events on my Facebook. I should give away more of them, but have you seen the weather?  I haven't taken my car out of the garage since before Christmas. I probably won't need gas until at least March. But getting to the PO this time of year is proving to be a problem.

A rummage sale find.
Another problem I have with all this stuff is storing it so I can actually see it. I'd be giving it away. Wayfair had a great sale on storage cabinets back on Black Friday and I thought I had ordered one. But apparently I didn't finish all the steps.  Say goodbye to that cabinet.  They don't stock it anymore. It was perfect for a spot in my basement. Haven't found anything the right size since. Right now most of the teacups and plates are carefully wrapped in paper and sitting in boxes. I don't have x-ray vision, so to find everything, I need to haul them all out and unwrap them. Kind of messy. I need to come up with a new system.

I love cookbooks and last summer I bought more than 24 of them. I sorted through them the other day and today those that didn't make the cut (for one reason or another)  are going to the Friends of the Library bookshop. (When I left Florida, I left another 10-15 of them at my favorite thrift shop so that someone else could enjoy them.) They cost as little as a quarter and as much as a dollar and gave me many hours of pleasure.

If you'd like to see some of my yard sale treasures, you can find them on one of my Pinterest boards.  This one is called (funny enough) "My Yards Sale Finds."

For now, I'm going to start dreaming about the upcoming yard sale season. Maybe I'll write a short story about going to yard sales so I can live vicariously through a character.

What do you look for at yard sales?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Once again, it's Teacup Tuesday!


It's gloomy in Rha-cha-cha this time of year, so I thought a little cheerful color and reminders of a sunny place would be a good way to celebrate Teacup Tuesday.

A year ago today, I was a snowbird in Florida. We stayed home this year, but I sure would love to visit the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg again to see the lovely flamingos.  Oddly enough, they don't look real, do they? 


Monday, January 8, 2018

Fresh from the oven

IMG_2913-crop

I made Yorkshire pudding last week using Gordon Ramsey's recipe. I never made them in a muffin pan before (usually in a cast iron skillet), and while they look great, obviously Gordon's oven runs hotter than mine. I think they could have used another couple of minutes, but they did taste good. I'm going to make them again like that soon. Now to buy another $26 rib. Have you made a new recipe lately?

Friday, January 5, 2018

I saw a blue jay!

1-5 National Bird Day-Instagram

It's National Bird Day. It's so cold, I haven't seen many birds this past week, but this morning I saw a blue jay jumping around the branches of the arborvitae outside my kitchen window. He (or she) looked COLD.

Heading to the library today to drop off a bunch of the cookbooks I got over the summer at yard sales. I hope the Friends of the Library can make some $$$ on them. I had fun with these books and now I hope someone else will.

What are you up to today (besides trying to stay warm)?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Something I've always wanted

Was Santa good to you last week?  He was to me.  He brought me something I have wanted since I was 11 years old. A lava lamp.

YES, a Lava Lamp!

My friend Cherie either got one for her birthday or Christmas and I remember going over to her house and we sat there for a long time watching that goop go up and down and up and down making odd shapes. It was mesmerizing. I wanted one too.

My mother grew up in England with open fireplaces and had a terrible fear of fire.  She used to go around the house at night and unplug everything "just in case." She would come into my room, unplug my radio and I'd pretend to be asleep.  As soon as she left, I'd plug it back in and listen to music.

Mum was convinced that lava lamps were a FIRE HAZARD.  Of course, they had to be. They got WARM so that the goopy "lava" would go up and down.

So, I never got a lava lamp.

Until last Monday.

Weeeeee!  Although ... it's not as active as I would like it to be.We've had it plugged in for 3-4 hours and the "lava" seems to sit on the bottom looking like the sun on the horizon. Sometimes a piece will break off and it looks like a rather large goose egg.  Did Santa bring a defective lava light or does it need to be on for 5-6+ hours before it gets up to speed?

Time will tell.

What did Santa bring you?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The 1st Teacup Tuesday of 2018

Snowman cup

Darn. No saucer. Maybe there never was one, but this is seasonal without being holiday specific.  I'd take it. How about you?

UPDATE:
Thanks to one of my readers, it's been identified as Snowman Afternoon and a single mug like this  goes for $19 plus shipping.  I'm seriously considering getting one.  You can get it here. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Truffles: Nothing but Trouble

And so last week I made some chocolate truffles.

NEVER AGAIN.

I'd always heard that chocolate truffles were divine. I'd never had one. Oh, I've had (and made) bourbon balls, but never chocolate truffles. I looked at a lot of recipes and was rather shocked when none of them called for sugar.  What's with that?  Apparently truffles are supposed to be bitter.  So I found a recipe that looked pretty easy and I made up the truffly part and tasted it.

OMG! Can you say "HORRIBLE?"

Nope. I was not going to serve my guests that bitter mess. So I started adding some confectioners' sugar a little at a time. Of course, with all this sugar, the batter/filling/whatever got really stiff, so I'd have to add more cream. Then it would be too soupy,  and I'd have to add more sugar.  I went through at least 8 spoons testing these truffles. Dreadful each time.  The heck with that.  I dumped in all that was left in the bag (in all, about half a pound of the stuff).  Finally, with no more sugar available, I told Mr. L that I was going to let them firm up in the fridge and if they were dreadful, I'd dump them in the trash.

Well, he tested one and said it was okay.  I was going to have one the next day (because of calories--I mean, I had been constantly testing them) but then my cold went into overdrive and I couldn't taste a thing for five days.

I finally had one yesterday. OMG -- talk about good. But I will NEVER make them again.  And I can't even share the recipe when I don't know exactly how much cream and confectioners' sugar I put in there.


Next year, I'll just buy some truffles and save the headache.

(P.S.  After all that work, I forgot to offer the Truffles to my guests. )

Have you ever made something you had to rescue and then couldn't make it again?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Not so easy entertaining

It's been quite a long time since Mr. L and I entertained people other than family. We used to host a holiday party every year, but that kind of fizzled out. But last week we invited our neighbors for a get-together.

Wow. I'd forgotten how much work that can be. I had to CLEAN the house. The cleaning ladies came on Monday, but our guests arrived 4 days later. With cats, there's always a lot of crud. Puke. Litter. Yeah, they may be the only self-cleaning things in the house, but they make a lot of mess.  And Chester litters the house with the toys he "kills" several times a day. (Oy, those hunter victory cries can make your hair stand on end,)

I finally got to do some baking. I LOVE to bake, but seldom have anyone to bake for and if I did it would just be us eating the stuff and ... CALORIES. So I don't bake nearly as often as I would like. I decided to do two different cookies: chocolate truffles and chocolate chip cookies. I was going to make shortbread and cut-out cookies, too, but then ... I caught a cold. OH NO!  I've done nothing but wash my hands and slather myself in Purel for a week now.

The big night arrived and ... uh-oh, only three of the four arrived at our door.  Mr. H had a stomach bug, which was bad for him, and disappointing for us.

I bought two bags of holiday (red and green) M&Ms -- because, hey, M&Ms. And why not send her children back home all hyped up with sugar, right? (That's a joke.) But -- nobody touched them. Uh-oh. Somebody is going to have to eat them.  (Raising my hand for designated M&M eater.)

Of course, I made my mother's famous "pink" dip, which was a big hit. (She got the recipe out of the TV guide one December back in the early 1960s -- and the ad was sponsored by the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV show.) With the dip we had chips and carrots and celery (the latter two were intended for me, but the cold was getting worse and who wants to eat when they can't taste anything?).

One of the kids complained about a rocky stomach about a half hour in.  I left the room to get something and came back to hear, "And he's vomited six times."

OMG -- I felt so sorry for the kid, who had obviously caught the same bug as his Dad, but then I cringed in horror.  I was already in the throws of a bad cold. Would I get the bug, too?  (So far, so good.)
My neighbor took her youngest home just as the pizzas arrived, and we chowed down with her oldest son, who is a budding artist, so he and Mr. L had a lot to talk about. I showed him some of the paintings Mr. L has done, and he was impressed.

My neighbor came back and we had a good time talking for an hour or so, but then everybody seemed to be drooping. I'd been awake for about 18 hours, so I was definitely pooped. (One of these days I'm going to learn how to sleep through the night).

So our first foray into entertaining in years wasn't such a hit. The next day, the cold hit me even harder. I spent the entire weekend lying in the recliner like a beached whale. But at least I got a lot of editing done on YULE BE DEAD, the 5th Victoria Square novel, which will be out next December (2018).

So, will we be entertaining next year? I've got about 355 days to decide.

Have you had less than successful gatherings? Tell all!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Maybe you should skip this one next year ...

Every year Mr. L and I watch a DVD of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. I've seen it every year since I was 9. I can recite almost all the dialogue. And you know what? It's NOT a heartwarming tale. Not at all.

No sooner had Rudolph been born when his own father body shamed him. Even Santa put in his two cents, and that wouldn't be the last time. The body (or nose) shaming went on at the Reindeer Games. When they found out about Rudolph's "non-conformity," not only did the other yearlings laugh and tease Rudolph, but the adult coach (Comet) was the one to proclaim that "We won't let Rudolph play in any reindeer games." Even Santa gets in the act, telling Donner "You should be ashamed!" Ashamed because his son has a (so-called) birth defect?  Santa of all people???

Thinking he's found a friend in Clarice,  Rudolph is verbally accosted by her father, who says, "No doe of mine is going to be seen with a red-nosed reindeer." (I told you I knew all the dialogue.)

Nor is Rudolph the only character to be bullied. Hermie (or Herbie ... it seems like he's called both names) is mocked for aspiring to be a dentist, and is threatened with his job. ("Finish the job, or you're FIRED.")

Poor Rudolph and Hermie weren't even good enough for the Island of Misfit Toys.

The one redeeming character is Yukon Cornelius ("Ta-da! In person!") Although a bit of a blow-hard, he only has Rudolph's and Hermie's welfare at heart.

It isn't until Santa needs Rudolph to light the way on a stormy Christmas Eve that the residents of Christmastown decide to accept Rudolph for who he is. And the head elf decides he will allow Hermie to practice dentistry. (I hope Hermie pulled all that elf's teeth, too.) Of course, maybe Santa is so grumpy because Mrs. Claus feeds him such unappealing food.  (Even gray apples???)

Is this the kind of story children should be watching?

And don't get me started on the song "Baby It's Cold Outside," where the loutish host isn't listening when his woman guest tells him (more than once) "The answer is No!"

Despite the terrible story line, Mr. L and I did indeed watch Rudolph this week. But this time we watched it a la MST3K (Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000). We made sarcastic remarks about the characters and how mean they were and found new joy in Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.  I highly recommend it.


What other holiday specials cause you to cringe?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Oh Christmas Tree!

Due to complicated circumstances, Mr. L and I took our Christmas tree down early last year. A LOT earlier than we normally do, so this year, I decided to put our tree up early so we could enjoy it longer. I started last Monday, but a week later and it's STILL not totally decorated.  (I like to take my time.)

It's always a joy to open the boxes of ornaments and decide what to put up. I say that because here it is five days later and we still haven't opened two of the (VERY LARGE) boxes and the tree is just about full. (How did that happen?) I thought I might share a few of them with you.

I recently wrote the 4th installment of the Life On Victoria Square series, It's Tutu Much, which revolves around a dance studio on Victoria Square.

My mother collected a bunch of ballerinas to put on or under her Christmas tree. These two beauties were under the tree for at least a decade. I think my mother liked them because my niece was a dancer. In fact, she danced right through high school, when a lot of other girls might have made fun of her (I know when I was in high school the bullies taunted the girls who still went for tap and ballet).

I wasn't a dancer. I loved to dance, but I remember at age 4 being forced to go to dance school and some of the other (younger) girls just didn't pay attention to the teacher who instructed us to dance to "I'm a Little Eskimo." I clearly remember telling my father, "That's just stupid and I won't do it." They took me to the recital and said, "Don't you wish you'd stuck with it?" and I said in no uncertain terms, "NO!"

Still, I now wish I had stuck with it. (Perhaps it was because I so love the book Step Ball Change by Jeanne Ray, a story about a woman with a dance studio--and how her daughter's engagement changed the entire family.) And did I mention how much I love to watch videos of people tap dancing?

And I have a "tutu" story about one of my Mum's ornaments, too.  She bought this little angel (right) at a yard sale. But, OH!, she was nekked!  My Mum thought that just wasn't right, so she took a bit of netting and made her a tutu.  Isn't she just adorable?  I know she was one of my Mum's favorites, even though she cost less than a buck. I wish my Mum could have read my story, It's Tutu Much (which will be available on January 2nd).

I don't have a lot of ornaments that remind me of my books, but since I started writing the Lotus Bay Mysteries, I've been looking for swans.  I found two, and they now don my tree.  One is sort of a stained-glass ornament, and the other is a carved wooden (white) swan. I love them both, and they remind me of my short story, Christmas at Swans Nest (set on Lotus Bay). If you haven't read the "series," but you like Christmas, you can read this and it will stand alone.

I've got lots of other cool ornaments, like this little white flat cat I got at a yard sale. It was painted onto a stone. Wow--I wish I had that kind of talent. How did someone see that there was a cat that could emerge from a piece of slate? Cool, huh?

And then there's the flying cat angel. I had never seen anything like it when my Mum and I went to a gift shop in Brockport, NY one cold November weekend. They were (maybe still are) famous for offering their customers home-baked cookies and punch on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (what's now known as Small Business Saturday). I remember
my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I looked at the price tag--TWENTY-FIVE BUCKS--but my mother said, "If you'd like it, I will buy it for you." I initially balked at the price tag, but then remembered what my friend Judy told me years before. "If your mother wants to buy you something, LET HER. Because (and Judy learned this through bitter experience) one day she won't be there." And now my Mum is gone, and I'm so glad I let her buy that little kitty for me because it's now one of my most treasured Christmas tree ornaments.Years later, I saw knockoffs in plastic for less than $5. But mine still has the original tag on it and is not only signed by the artist, but is so much prettier than any knock off.

These are just a few of the ornaments on my tree. You can see many more on a Youtube video I made. Just click this link.

Have you got a special ornament that comes with a story? If so, please feel free to share it in the comments below.


Friday, December 1, 2017

What's your pie pleasure?


It's National Pie Day! I'll bet there're three or four on offer everyday at Booked for Lunch. What's your favorite pie? (Mine is actually turkey pot pie. It has a crust--it qualifies!)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Stay home and read


Happy Black Friday, everyone. Today on The Cozy Chicks blog I'm talking about Black Friday and why I don't participate. What I will be doing later today is starting to read the holiday magazines that have been coming to my house since the end of September. YES, SEPTEMBER. Hey, I didn't want to read about Christmas before Columbus Day. (Or, rather, Canadian Thanksgiving.) So I saved them all up. Now I'm ready to start looking at them.

What are you doing today?  Shopping or something else?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Keep your hands warm!


Happy National Red Mittens Day! Red mittens will keep your hands warm on a snowy day! (Whew! Not supposed to snow here today, though!) Do you wear mittens or gloves?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where's my pretty cover?



My publisher, Berkley, is teasing readers of the Booktown Mysteries by not showing the cover for #12 in the series, POISONED PAGES, on the websites of popular book retailers. The color of the title and author name is right, but where's the picture?

It turns out -- there was some kind of glitch, but still -- what's with that? What's the book about?

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, throws a housewarming cocktail party in her new apartment and has cooked all the food by herself--quite a feat for someone who previously couldn't boil water. Then one of her guests is poisoned and dies. Tricia's left to wonder if her cooking is to blame or if there's something much more sinister at play. Either way, Tricia's once again in hot water with her ex-lover, Chief Baker. Meanwhile the charming town of Stoneham is being disrupted by a vandalism crime wave. It's the hot topic in the race for Chamber of Commerce president which sees Tricia pitted against two bitter rivals. With all that's going on can she find the killer before she's the next item on the menu?

 You can't see the very pretty cover on those sites, but you CAN see it on my website. Click this link for a sneak preview.

To Pre-order, click the links below. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Chapters/Indigo
Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | iBooks | Kobo