Monday, October 7, 2019

Falling for fall?

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of fall. The days get shorter and c older and I’m not a fan of cold weather (especially snow and ice) but we don’t get too much of that until January, thank goodness.

I know many people look forward to autumn for pumpkin spice anything. The only pumpkin spice I enjoy is pumpkin bread. I’ve tried literally scores of different varieties of this quick bread, but I’ve never tasted one as good as the recipe I’ve been making since I was 12. It makes a crispy crust (which some people don’t enjoy—and I feel sorry for them because it’s even better when toasted) and a moist inside. Back in the day, our local power company used to send out little “cookbooklets.” That’s where I got the recipe. When I became a thrifter, I started collecting them (mostly at estate sales because the people who were lucky enough to get them from RG&E knew they were tried-and true (well-tested) recipes.

But maybe my favorite thing about fall is reacquainting myself with the various afghans that live on the back of my chairs and couches. They aren’t for looks. If I sit down for any length of time, I usually get cold (even in summer because of the air conditioning), so they become my lap robes. I have four granny square afghans in my open-concept living-family room alone. I have several of them at our summer cottage, and you’d be surprised how many chilly days there are when you’re “on the water.”

I have a number of BIG HEAVY afghans my mother crocheted (big enough for a single bed) but Mum did not choose colors that attract me. However, when I was a teen and my grandmother was dying, my mother made her a short lap robe.  After she died, my grandfather gave it back to my Mum. I think she was a little hurt about that, but maybe that was just my impression.

Several years later, I started working at Kodak. When summer came around (I started in January), they really cranked up the air conditioning and I found myself wearing winter clothes to work—and still froze. That’s when Mum hauled out the yellow-green-and-white (and incredibly soft) afghan she’d made for grandma. I too it to work and have been using it ever since. It has traveled with me on winter trips, even to Florida where we did the snowbird thing for a season back in 2017, and lives in our downstairs pub. I’ve had that afghan for more than 30 years and it’s still soft and warm and every time I use it, I think of Mum.

When we got our girls back in February, little Poppy got used to sitting on the afghan on my lap. If I don’t use one, she takes a while to consider whether she want so sit on my lap. But since the cooler weather hit, I’ve been using my afghans and she’s been glued to my lap.

Yup, the return to using my afghans is my favorite part of this time of year.

What’s yours?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Happy Book Day To Me

Happy Book Day to me!  Today, TEA'D OFF, the 6th installment in the Life On Victoria Square series is out.

With the grand relaunch of Victoria Square’s tea shop, Tealicious, just days away, Nona Fiske decides it’s time to sabotage it and its owner, Katie Bonner. With gossip, innuendo, and outright lies, Nona tries to turn the other merchants on the Square against Katie. But Katie has learned how to deal with people like Nona. Can she kill with kindness?

This story takes place between the Victoria Square mystery novels Yule Be Dead and (the upcoming) Murder Ink.

Get your copy today!

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

We're drowning in plastic!

As a society, we use a lot of plastic. I just have to look at my the desk in front of my keyboard and at least 75% of the stuff on it is plastic. For example, pens, the microphone I need for Google Hangouts with writer friends, ChapStick, glue stick, tape dispenser (not to mention the tape in it). Hand cream container, spray bottle (for when the cats chew my cords), notebook covers (I like to use yellow legal pads for a number of things and have at least two on my desk at all times). My phone charging cord, my mouse, the remotes for my stereo and little TV (which I hardly ever use).My checkbook cover. The modem and the router shells are all plastic. And that's just on my desktop.

If you've seen the heartbreaking photos of sea life entangled and killed by plastic that's floating around in our oceans, then you know we've got a very big problem. Fish and other sea life end up eating plastic and when we eat them, we end up with plastic inside us, too. (Ick!)

What's the answer to our plastic problem is a video produced by Greenpeace and it brings up the complexities of ridding ourselves of plastic. "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California. The GPGP covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France." That's a lot of plastic in the ocean--and in one specific spot. It's a big world, and that's not the only place where plastic has accumulated,

What can I, as a person, do to end my consumption of plastic? Well, for one--I'm not buying any more plastic wrap. Sorry, Saran Wrap, yer done. In it's place, I'm trying to (and not always succeeding) use all those plastic containers I already have, and I'm using waxed paper (in bags and in rolls). Also, when I get food (say cookies), I'm keeping them fresh by keeping them in their original (usually plastic) wrap, and using rubber bands to keep the air out and freshness in.

The Dollar Tree is a great store for all kinds of stuff ... but most of it's plastic. I have curtained my visits to the Dollar Tree so I won't be dazzled by cheap stuff that I don't need.

No more buying home decor items at retail. Nope. I'm a thrifter. I've bought most of my faux flowers at yard sales and have decided that there are too many items I can buy used so that I don't contribute to buying "new" plastic household stuff. Need replacement jewel cases for my CDs? (Yes, I still listen to CDs--and HORRORS! Books on (actual) tape!) I buy yard sale replacements.

One of the worst plastic offenders is the "carrier" bags we get at the grocery store. Mr. L and I both have small totes in our cars that (neatly) contain our reusable bags. I even take them to Walmart and Dollar General where I buy my cat food (Nine Lives and Friskies.)

New York State, where I live, is banning them as of March 1st, 2020. It's a good thing, but I will miss them for certain things. (Like picking out the large lumps from the cat box.) When we do end up with carrier bags, they always get double duty. It's rare that a bag will come home from the store and get thrown away. And when we are ready to throw them away, they go into a bigger bag and taken to the grocery store and their recycle bins.

We can all make little changes to how we live that will make us less dependent on plastic. I'd love to hear how you are doing it. Please share in the comment section below.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Does anyone need a she-shed?

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Now Available! Booktown #13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, July 29, 2019

Yard Sale Woes

My neighbor and I try to walk at least three days a week. Everybody needs exercise, right? Last week, she mentioned that she was going to have a yard sale on a Thursday and Friday. Mr. L and I had plans for Friday, but I asked her if she minded if I brought some of my stuff down and tried to sell it on Thursday. "Sure!"

I've had boxes of stuff sitting in my garage for two years. That was the last time I attempted a yard sale. (It got rained out.) While Mr. L is fine about going to yard sales, he's not keen on hosting them. He says we never make any money, and it's a lot of hard work and time wasted.

But, all I had to do was fill the van, drive down the road, and unload it. That was the first fly in the ointment...setting up. I had three card tables, a folding metal shelf, and a tarp, and I needed all of them. There was so much stuff--stuff I considered to be "good stuff." That's the kind of stuff I look for at yard sales. Pictures, picture frames, kitchen stuff, and a lot of what we called "smalls" when I had a booth at the antiques arcade. And at 7:30 am it was HOT and MUGGY. By the time I finished setting up, I was soaked with sweat. (Well, we didn't get to walk, so that was my exercise.)

Before we had even finished setting up, we had a few people stop by--either on their way to work or just coming off the night shift. Right away, my neighbor sold a kid's wagon for $20. Was this a good omen? Well, not exactly. It was another neighbor coming home from work.

We also had a strike against us. We live on a quiet street that is connected on both ends by very busy roads. Unfortunately, there's a bridge under reconstruction at the end one of those busy streets, so the road is closed except to "local" traffic. So possibly thousands of cars never passed our street by the south side.

Highlights of the day:  A woman who bought a sign that said LET IS SNOW. She was visiting our area from Florida. "Hey, we decorate for the holidays," she said when my neighbor laughed. In fact, she lives on the Intercoastal Waterway and said everyone decorates their docks and yards.

Neither my neighbor or I had breakfast, so around 10 o'clock she brought out these JUMBO cinnamon muffins. Holy cow, I haven't had a BIG muffin in a long time and this was REALLY good! And we were sucking back water like crazy, although the humidity did lessen as the day went on.

Around 1 o'clock, another neighbor and her adorable Westie (Cooper) came to visit. So we're sitting there shooting the breeze when something crawling on the garage floor catches my eye. At first I thought it was a cicada (although we mostly see them in August), but then I saw ... THE TAIL.

EEEEEK A MOUSE!  It came in from the side of the garage. My neighbor leapt from her chair (I'd already done so and was going EEEEK EEEEEK). The mouse changed direction and ran outside, and my neighbor tried to chase it into the grass, but the mouse panicked and ran back into the garage. Cooper (a terrier, and they were bred to kill rats) wanted to attack, but his mother held him back. My neighbor had the coolest head and took care of the situation.

Around 4 o'clock there was not much happening, and I wanted to pack up, but my neighbor convinced me to hang on until 4:30. We had one more customer -- and I made $1 and my neighbor made a quarter. Woo-hoo! It took 45 minutes to pack everything up (and not as neatly as it was in the morning). My earnings for the day: $39.20. My neighbor did much better.

My take?  The reason I find such good stuff at yard sales is because the average yard sale attendee doesn't care for that kind of stuff. It seemed like people were looking for children's clothes, toys, tools, and cooking utensils. Not much in the way of decor, and nobody wanted anything Christmas (In July, no less).

Back home, Mr. L made me a refreshing adult beverage and since we hadn't seen each other all day, we just sat and talked for more than an hour. It's amazing how exhausting it is just to sit around all day doing nothing. I sit around all day working, but it's different. My neighbor was SOOOOO glad to have company that day. (She'd done the yard sale last weekend, too.) She was going to do it again this morning for 4 hours and then call it quits because the heat index is up in the 100s today and that's just too hot.

Meanwhile, Mr. L is took me to a rummage sale.

The stuff that's leftover? My neighbor is donating hers to a church rummage sale. My stuff is going to Goodwill.

And Mr. L and Mr. H both said -- NO MORE YARD SALES.

Neighbor and I will just have to go to them instead.

Have you ever done a yard sale? Was it worth it?

Monday, July 22, 2019

FB Giveaway

Woo-hoo! Over on my Facebook Group Page, I'm hosting a holiday craft giveaway to celebrate my holiday books. Come on over and leave a comment sharing a favorite holiday memory to be in contention for a different craft project for the next few days.

Today's featured story is CHRISTMAS AT SWANS NEST.

The holidays are fast approaching, and Kathy Grant is hard at work on the renovations of her soon-to-be bed and breakfast. An unexpected winter storm disrupts her friends’ plans, and it looks like her B&B will have to open a little early. And then there are the cryptic notes that hint of a treasure to be found somewhere in the house. Will Kathy and her friends find a cache of cash?

Monday, July 1, 2019

50% Off Smashwords Sale

Smashwords is having a great 50% off sale on many of my Lorraine and LL Bartlett titles that's good for the entire month of July.

Check out my hard-boiled suspense titles.

Murder On The Mind  |  Dead in Red  |  Room At The Inn  |   Cheated By Death   

Bound By Suggestion  |  Dark Waters  |  Shattered Spirits  |  A Jeff Resnick Six Pack    

Evolution: Jeff Resnick's Backstory |  Off Script 


Check out my cozier titles:

With Baited Breath  |  A Reel Catch  |  Love & Murder

Tales of Telenia: STRANDED   |  Tales of Telenia: JOURNEY

Mystical Blythe Cove Manor  |  Recipes To Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook

This is a great time to stock up on my titles!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Now Available in Paperback

POISONED PAGES, the 12th Booktown Mystery, is now available on

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?

Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

Order your copy now and help me hit the USA Today's bestseller list!


Friday, June 7, 2019

Would you wear one of these?

I polled reader on my Facebook Group about author swag a while back. Now I need to know what series they (and you) might be interested for T-shirts, totes, and mugs.

Below are my logos (and I have others, like Sweet Sue's from Victoria Square, etc.)

What would you like to see on a shirt, tote, or mug?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Monday, June 3, 2019

Are you into relish trays?

Years ago, Mr. L took me to a wonderful restaurant that has now been abandoned for decades. Before your dinner was served, they set out a relish tray. The highlight for us was the corn relish that came with other relishes, pickles, and veggies. Over the years, we've lamented the fact that the restaurant is history ... but what about making a relish tray?

Here's the definition of a relish tray according to the Stack Exchange website:

"A relish tray is an assortment of pickles, olives and small sticks of celery and or carrots. You might also have chow chow or chutney. Any type of relish like fancy cranberry relish or a little savory you might add to your dinner plate might be on a relish tray."

We've tried corn relish in jars, but they just don't have the taste we remembered for that restaurant, so I guess it's time to try and find a recipe and make it for myself.

I'm not a stranger to such things. Last weekend I made rhubarb chutney, which is relish-like. (And boy is it good.)

I started collecting relish dishes a couple of years ago. I had only been using them as places to dump my cheaters so I could find them when I want to read something. I have relish trays in my kitchen, dining room, and living room. It really does help me find my glasses.  But now I want relish dishes for ... well, relish!

Lately, we've been making small relish trays. The only real relish we include is a hot sweet pepper relish. Other items on our small tray are bread-and-butter pickles, banana peppers, and dill slices. I'm more than willing to add more things to our relish tray. Do you have any suggestions?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tis the season to garden!

Back in April, when the forsythias bloomed, it was time to cut back my roses. The first time I did this (and I mean REALLY cut them back), I was sure I would kill them. But not only are roses beautiful, they're TOUGH. Sure enough, they not only bounced back, they bloomed even better.

I should have planted my snap peas at the same time. It was such a wet spring, I didn't want to to go out because it was COLD and I was afraid the seeds would just rot.

But nature is not to be denied. The perennials came up despite the cold and rain. They're doing remarkably well ... for some reason, the critters have left them away (so far). The daffodils, tulips, and rhododendrons are already done, but the iris, red-hot pokers. I've been trying to get rid of the lily of the valley (which is determined to take over the entire garden), so I ripped a bunch of them up. But then I think I might have pulled up some of my sun-drops, too. (Oops. They'll come back.)

I've got a bumper crop of rhubarb. I asked my Facebook friends what they used rhubarb for and I have a bunch of ideas. But this weekend I'm going to be making rhubarb chutney (the recipe is included in Recipes To Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook).

Additionally, I'm planning on making some rhubarb muffins.  I've got a couple of really good recipes (included in The Best From Swans Nest, a Lotus Bay Cookbook).

I noticed that I had some self-sown lettuce growing, so obviously Mother Nature thinks it's safe to grow it and I planted seeds. I should have enough for a (full) salad in about a month.

Sadly, I've decided to give up my veggie garden. It's not that I don't want to grow veggies, but it's too heartbreaking when critters eat the stuff before it's ripe enough to harvest, and I've had a terrible problem with tomato blight. I'll still be growing herbs and maybe some beans in container pots, but I'm going to turn the veggie garden into another perennial plot. I want to get some different varieties of roses (I already have about seven knock-out roses) and I'm not fond of tea roses (not enough blooms), but I think I will wait until I go to the nursery to make a final decision. Right now, it's a clean slate.

What do you think I should put in my new garden?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Trying to go greener

When Earth Day rolled around last month, I started thinking about how much waste goes into my garbage tote.  Mind you, I've been trying to adopt more green ways.

Earlier this year, I decided I needed to cut down on my use of paper towel.  It so happens, my mother bought a lot of washcloths at yard sales for our family's cottage. I decided there were way too many stuffed into a drawer and I took them home and washed them to use in my kitchen. (I wrote about it on this post back in January.)

Since then, I figure we're using half the paper towel we used to. (Have not yet trained Mr. L to reach for these washcloths.) We used to go through at least a roll a it's take two weeks and a few days. There are still a few things I use paper towel for, but not just to dry my hands, etc. (That's what the tea towels are for, and boy have I got a lot of them, too.)

But last month I had leftovers to put away and reached for the cling wrap. Then I stopped. Plastic is forever. I need to stop using so much plastic. So instead, I opened my cupboard and looked for a plastic container to put the leftovers in. Yes, it means washing another item, but water can be filtered and used again. Plastic stays in the landfill for hundred (if not thousands) of years.

Of course, there were a LOT of containers without lids. So a few days later, I hauled everything out of the cupboards and matched them up. Wow--I have a lot of them. But it's been two weeks and I haven't used any cling wrap.

And one of the reasons for that is ... wax paper. Okay, it's a lot more fragile, but it will degrade in a landfill. In addition to the wax paper wrapped around tomatoes and other items (with a rubber band around it to keep the air out), I also bought waxed paper bags. I bought a big box and they are smaller than I would like, but they are still very useful.

It's been more than two weeks and I haven't touched the cling wrap. Luckily, I was running low on it and probably won't buy any more.

Next up: going through my linen napkins, washing them, and using them instead of paper napkins.  I will look for colored ones at yard sales, because ... you know, spaghetti and curry stains.

What are you doing to go just a little bit greener?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Happy Book Day To Me ... The Best of Swans Nest

Woo-hoo! Two years in the making, but at last THE BEST FROM SWANS NEST is now available. It's a companion cookbook for the Lotus Bay Mystery series.

What's been fun for me is giving background information for Kathy Grant and what her inn and food mean to her. If you're a fan of the Lotus Bay Mysteries, and you like to eat, you'll want to add this companion to the series to your ereader. (And yes, it will also be available in print -- hopefully on the same day as the ebook. I'll keep you posted.)

Here's a brief description:

Kathy Grant, owner of the Swans Nest Inn on beautiful Lotus Bay, has collected more than a hundred mouth-watering recipes that she not only offers her B&B guests, but the brides who book their engagement and wedding parties at the inn.

Now you can enjoy the same treats like sweet sausage coffee ring, lots of marvelous muffins, quiche, stuffed mushrooms and many, many more!

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

Monday, May 13, 2019

Save Me From Windows 10

My computer had been ailing for almost a year. It was coughing up blood and I held my hands over my eyes so I didn't have to witness it's slow-and-steady decline. I would turn it on and the monitor would be black. I would pull the plug, wait a few hours, plug it back in, and it would regain conscientiousness--sometimes for a few months, but two weeks ago, it finally expired.

Luckily, I have a laptop. (In fact, the one I typed this on.) It, too, has had problems.  Every time Microsoft does a major update, it would lose conscientiousness. I would have to take the battery out and restart (once as many as 11 times over the course of two hours) to try to bring it back to life. It updated a little over a week ago and suddenly everything about it was different. All new sounds--it even took my wallpaper with it.  And I got an email from Microsoft saying as of January 2020--they wouldn't be updating it. I should have celebrated. Instead, I pulled out my "new" laptop. And did I mention the tiny screen?

Three (or was it four) years ago, I asked my friend Steven to suggest a new laptop. He's an IT guy and he suggested I get an ASUS laptop. Unbeknownst to me, it came loaded with Windows 8. OMG -- it didn't even have a Start Menu and I had no idea how to do ANYTHING on it. I put it back in the box and it sat under my easy chair gathering dust ... until Monday. Caveat: At some point during those years, I had our computer guy upgrade it to Windows 10 because Microsoft was only going to make that upgrade Free until a certain date. And there it sat, quietly gathering dust.

Last Monday, I took it out and decided I needed to learn Windows 10.  This ASUS fooled me. The Start Menu looked very much like Windows 7. YAY. I successfully loaded some software, but didn't really test it. But on this sort of triumph, I went out and bought a desktop computer.

With help from one of my readers (waving to John P), I bought a computer that had lots of speed and loads of gigabytes of storage, . Welcome back big monitor!!!  Only I didn't realize that Dropbox would suddenly dump over 40,000 files onto my (supposedly big) hard drive. Oy -- that took over FOUR HOURS to straighten out (and two online chats with Dropbox).

While that was happening, I tried loading my camera's software, took a few pictures of my cats, and tried to upload them--with NO results. I was online for another two hours trying to figure out how to solve that problem. Apparently some people have had some success, but 90% of Canon owners weren't able to upload their pictures, either. Finally, in  desperation, I called the local camera shop where I got my camera. (Yes, I bought it in a bricks-and-mortar store.) The helpful "Canon Lady" told me, "just take out the photo card, plug it into your computer, and copy/paste those pictures." It's a workaround, but I loved my Canon software that took the pictures, loaded them directly to Dropbox, and labeled the folders by date. That isn't going to happen anymore. (And P.S. the laptop doesn't have a card reader--so I'll have to buy one with a USB.)

Next up, trying to load my label maker software. The computer opened it with open arms. It's even Windows 10 compatible -- EXCEPT IT NO LONGER WORKS. (Another two-hour time sink looking for options. Still haven't figured that out.)

And that's why I'm typing this blog post on my Windows 7 laptop. I KNOW it works. In fact, I've decided to take a few days off from Windows 10 ... unless, of course, this computer starts coughing up blood, too.

Did I mention how much I LOATHE Windows 10?

What was your experience (supposedly) upgrading to Windows 10?

Monday, May 6, 2019

I guess it's an acquired taste

I'm currently researching craft breweries for a book I'm working on. It's fascinating. Not just the production of the beer, which is a lot more complicated than I thought, but all the things that go with it. The tasting room and/or restaurant--and even what's stocked in the (usually small) gift shop. (Seems like T-shirts are a big seller!)

It all sounds great. There's just one thing. I don't like beer. My father never drank it, so it was never in our house. Of course, my brothers (who were much more sociable than me and went out with friends at night ... while I was reading) acquired a taste for beer ... but not me.

There are other things I never acquired a taste for. Wine is one of them. (Tastes like shoe polish remover to me.) There's such a mystique about wine. Think about it:  wine,women, and song. The whole bacchanalia in the Disney film Fantasia. People are always drinking wine and have been doing it for thousands of years. (The go-to drink in ancient Rome. Heck, even Jesus turned water to wine.) I found red wine gives me a headache, and if I'm drinking white wine, I like sweeter varieties. But I'll take whiskey or gin over grape-based wine any day.

I never acquired a taste for coffee, either, although I did try. When I was in college, I figured when I got out of school and went to work in an office, I'd have to drink the stuff. I mean, who had a tea kettle handy? (As someone who worked in offices for more than 25 years, I can tell you: NOBODY.)

So, for three weeks, I drank nothing but coffee. Of course, the swill the school served was dreadful. To this day, I still can't stand the taste of coffee (although I do like the smell of it brewing, especially of freshly ground coffee). I make a pot of coffee for Mr. L every morning. I make myself a pot of tea.

Of course, there are some things I have acquired a taste for:  Olives.  (Kalamata are my favorite.) Asparagus. Lima beans. Then again, I'm really not into fruit. They pick it too early (so it's usually not ripe) and by the time it ripens, it's ready on the outside and rotten on the inside.

So, what's your acquired taste?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Happy Book Day, Ellery Adams

Happy Book Day to my friend Ellery Adams, with her 5th entry of her Book Retreat Mystery series.

Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim...

Get  your copy now!



Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

My Easter Dessert

The best part of holidays for me is ... the food. It's so enjoyable to share a wonderful meal with friends and/or family, and this year for Easter we're going traditional with a spiral ham, deviled eggs, honeyed carrots, rolls, and at least one more fresh veggie. We'll see what's at the store tomorrow.

But my favorite part of the meal is the dessert.  Okay, I've got a sweet tooth. This year, I'm leaning toward cake. My upcoming book, The Best From Swans Nest, a Lotus Bay Cookbook, has ten cake recipes and five frosting recipes. YUM! I'm leaning toward making spice cake with maple frosting. (That maple frosting also takes great with carrot cake or hummingbird cake. Yum-yum!)

Spice Cake
¼ cup butter or ½ cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark-brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup molasses
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, Gas Mark 4). Butter and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Cream the butter or shortening and slowly add the two sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the milk and molasses, beating thoroughly. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the wet mixture, beating until well blended. Pour the batter into the pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese or buttercream frosting. Also tastes great with maple or caramel frosting, or sift confectioners’ sugar over the top.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

Maple Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Place the softened butter in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 30 to 40 seconds until whipped. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Sift the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 30 to 40 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the brown sugar and maple syrup. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the walnuts until just until mixed and spread on the cooled cake.

Yield: 3 cups

THE BEST FROM SWANS NEST arrives on May 14th. Pre-order your copy now!