Monday, December 16, 2019

On my Christmas Tree

Because this is our girls' first Christmas (with us), we decided to go light on the Christmas tree decorations, although they've been up more than a week now and the girls have paid very little attention to the tree. That said, we only have about half the ornaments on the tree, but of course, I had to have most of my favorites.

After my mother passed, I got first pick of her ornaments. She found this little cutie at a garage sale. She felt sorry for it because it was naked--so what did she do?  She found a piece of net and made this angel a skirt. Every time I think about this  angel, I smile because Mum gave her something to wear.  She seems much happier that way. It's a must that she goes on the tree every year.

I always loved this little angel. Maybe it's the patches on her little outfit.  For many years she was on my mother's tree, but about ten years ago I begged, sat up pretty, and my mother gave her to me.

My mother had a thing for dolls and had many of them on her tree. I only kept the ones I like, and I liked her.

Another of my mother's tree dolls.  This one is is dressed all in paper, which makes her very fragile. I wrap her well when it's time to take down the tree.

You're probably asking, "Don't you have any ornaments of your own?" I sure do. (Oh, boy do I!) This little kitty angel was a gift from my boyfriend, who a year later became my husband. She's been on our tree since the beginning.

Every year, my mother would go to a quilting conference near Syracuse. Every year she would bring me back something. (One year she brought me a mug of a kitty in a shopping bag because my cat, Kate, loved to play in shopping bags. (Still have the mug, although it's pretty faded by now.) One year, she brought me this pretty paper bow. It sits near the top of my tree and gets packed away in the original pretty paper bag it came home in, plus it's own gold-tone (Forman's) box. (Did I mention that I often buy old boxes of now-defunct department stores at yard sales?)

The first Christmas I had my own tree, I bought this little pink paper angel at Penney's. Along with her were (and I still have them) a paper lumberjack (yes, really--with a little paper ax--you can see him in the left-hand corner of the first photo above--he looks like Santa) and a paper clown. I don't like clowns, but this one wears a red-and-white striped clown suit that reminds me of salt water taffy, so he can be on my tree every year, too.

I got this little Made In Japan angel (along with 5 of her sisters--there were originally 8 in the box) at a yard sale last year. I have a thing for Made In Japan figurines and I was happy to welcome her and t the others to the tree.

For a while, kitty angels were a big thing. My mother bought me this one before they became ubiquitous and for the whopping price of $25. (It's even signed by the maker.)  It's porcelain (not plastic) and it always has a place of honor on my tree. And now I have my own silver tabby angel (my Emma--but I hope it'll be decades before she's an angel),

I have a lot of "animal" ornaments on my tree (even an elephant and a couple of fish--one smoking a cigar!). But I probably have more cats than anything else. This little cutie is asleep in a Santa hat.

I bought this Westie ornament in honor of my parents' first Westie, Buddy. What a good dog. He went to obedience school twice and was a joy to walk. He always sat at the curb, and he never did his business during a walk, so you never had to carry a bag. (He waited until he got home.) His first winter, my Dad trained him to wait to have his feet wiped of snow (or mud). He'd patiently stand there and offer you each paw so you could wipe them. And he stood quietly while you picked the snow from between the pads on his feet. That dog was just a joy.

This is Elga. She's kind of shabby and faded now, but she used to hang from the rear-view mirror of my first car. When I got a new car, I retired her, but I never got rid of her. Now she graces my tree every Christmas. And, as it turns out, she now has sisters. When I married Mr. L, he had several of these little crocheted cuties (all different) and they go up on the tree every year, too!

These are just a few of the hundreds (and I mean that literally) of ornaments that go up on our 7.5' tree every year.  Do your ornaments all have a story?

P.S. My Dad carved Santas as a hobby.  This is just one of them. (They're all different!) I have about 30 of them on my tree. (You can see another one in the top photo at the upper left.)

Friday, December 13, 2019

A nice warm mug of cocoa

So do you like marshmallows, whipped cream, a cinnamon stick, or something else in your cocoa?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Coming on December 31st!


A tattoo parlor on Victoria Square? Some of the merchants get steamed at the prospect, but could they be driven to kill to stop it? That's what the sheriff's office and Katie Bonner want to know when the building's owner is electrocuted with his own saw.

Meanwhile, tensions rise when a hot chef takes over the square's tea shop. Will Katie have three men vying for her affections, or will her rival take the tea cake?

Chapters/Indigo | Book Depository (Free Shipping Worldwide)

Friday, December 6, 2019

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Can you imagine how pretty Stoneham, NH looks at Christmastime? What store would you visit first?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Shop at Booktown!

Stoneham, NH (otherwise known as BOOKTOWN) is a great fictional place to shop. Just think of all the places you could go!

Haven't Got a Clue Mystery Book Store
The Cookery (Cookbooks & Gadgets)
The Happy Domestic
Sweet As Can Be Chocolates
Booked For Beauty Day Spa
All Heroes Comic Book Store
The Inner Light Book Store
By Hook Or By Book (craft store)
The Armchair Tourist
Have A Heart Romance Book Store

Or catch a bite to eat at ...
Booked for Lunch
The Brookview Inn
The Dog-Eared Page
The Coffee Bean
The Patisserie
The Bookshelf Diner

So, where would you like to go?

P.S.  Visit Booktown any time at my website. Just click this link!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Define Good

Oops! Sometimes cats and dogs and Christmas trees just don't mix all that well.  This is our girls' first Christmas with us. So far they haven't bothered the tree.  There's still a month to go for them to get into mischief.

Do your pets bother your tree?

Sunday, December 1, 2019

It's National Pie Day!

What's odd about National Pie Day is that ... it's not the only one.There'll be another one in January (on the 23rd). Go figure?

So what's your favorite kind of pie?

Saturday, November 30, 2019

It's Small Business Saturday!

It's Small Business Saturday -- so visit your independent (Mom & Pop) stores and restaurants today.

And if you need to catch up on your Booktown Mysteries (or someone on your gift list needs to do the same), check out my list of books on my website.  Just click this link. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A not so wonderful National Day

National Tie-One-On Day arrives every year the day before Thanksgiving.

Is it really a good idea to tie one on?

It's been my experience that feeling tipsy is nice. Being drunk is not. The room spins and, at least for me, I spent an hour or so worshiping the porcelain god. Oh, and then there's the hangover where you feel like you will NEVER feel well again. I highly recommend NOT getting totally potted. Drink responsibly.

Have you ever wished you hadn't had too much to drink?

Monday, November 25, 2019

She really, really loves me!

I have been lucky to have a string of wonderful cats. In fact, I came across a saying just yesterday:  "No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat." They were all special, but one stands out:  Fred.  He was my son. My little prince.  My sweet puppy boy. I adored him from the day I first saw him at Pet Smart. It took me five months to convince Mr. L to finally let me have him. (The store stipulated that he MUST be adopted with his brother, which is why they were both there for THIRTY-NINE WEEKS.)

Unfortunately, George didn't work out. He was a runt, but he was also a bully. He attacked the other cats, and even I was bitten (and my thumb started to turn black), but when he viciously attacked our Betsy, that was the last straw. He had to go. (And believe me, it was a tearful decision. We'd never had a cat failure.) Luckily, Mr. L's cousin's best friend was looking for a cat. George went to live in Buffalo and the minute he saw Cindy, it was love at first sight. He's still with her and he has not only tolerated her other cats, but been best buddies.  Go figure. (We learned the hard way that five cats strains the system.)

After George left, Fred became my boy. He was the most cheerful cat on the planet. All I had to do was look at him and he would purr. He loved for me to throw him over my shoulder and dance. He came when I called him. He wasn't much of a lap cat, but he'd sit with me for at least five minutes every evening. I loved that cat with all my heart and he loved me. I'm still broken-hearted that we lost him to kidney disease 20 months ago.

But loving Fred did not prepare me for Emma.

We got Emma and her sister nine months ago after 11 sad months of being catless. Not that we didn't look for cats. We looked for cats all the time visiting shelters and pet stores. None spoke to us. We wanted babies, because all of our previous cats had been elderly and we didn't want to lose new ones for at least a couple of decades. (We had three cats that lived to be 20.) One of my readers fosters cats.  She told us about Poppy and Emma.

At first, Emma was aloof and Poppy was the lover. (She still is, but on HER terms.) It took Emma a while to warm up to us. She's only now learning to be a lap cat (and it seems ONLY when I'm sitting in the family room editing the day's work. Go figure.)  But over the summer, Emma decided that I am her human. She is with me at least 22 hours of the day. She sits beside me (in the other chair) in my office. If I get up, she gets up. She follows me like a puppy. If she's out of sight and I call, she immediately comes running.  At night, she sleeps either at my feet, or next to my pillow.

Lately, we noticed that the normally silent Emma only talks when I go into the kitchen. For the rest of the day, she's as quiet as a mouse. Here's a video I took of her the other day.

I often feel sorry for Mr. L because Emma snubs him. The other day, I walked into his office (which adjoins mine) and Emma walked past him (on his desk) to jump to his other office chair, climbed on top and begged me to make a fuss of her. She would love it if I made a fuss of her 24/7 telling her what a beauty she is and how much she's loved.

Yeah, she (and her sister) is a keeper.

Have you ever had a very special cat?

Friday, November 22, 2019

I'm not waiting

Last week, we had a BIG snowstorm. The official amount at the airport was 8 inches. I live closer to Lake Ontario, and I'm sure we got at least a foot of snow. (I know because I was out there with the snowblower cleaning up after Plow Man.)

We don't usually get this much snow until January. We're taking a 4 foot-high pile of snow at the top of our driveway--which I fear won't melt until spring. We might get warmer temps next week, but they will be in the 40s. You can't melt that much snow in just a few days. I have no idea where Plow Man is going to put the snow for the rest of season. You see, we have an L-shaped driveway, and if there's nowhere else to put the snow, Mr. L will never get his car out of the garage for the rest of the winter.

Oh, and did I mention that I absolutely LOATHE winter?

So, outside all my windows is what's known as a winter wonderland. That makes me want to nestle in and think about celebrating the holidays. Only ... Thanksgiving is a full week later than usual this year. I usually put up my tree the week AFTER Thanksgiving, but that means it would be December 7th instead of like the 24th or so of November.

Excuse me, but I don't want to wait that long to put up my Christmas tree. And I've got a craft sale on Black Friday (Nov. 29th) this year, so I can't even put the tree up on that day. And we spend our weekends in our downstairs pub on what's a holiday-loving person supposed to do?

Mr. L isn't thrilled, but we agreed that we would put the tree up BEFORE Thanksgiving. This is a first. In our 28 years of marriage, this is the very first time we're putting the tree up BEFORE Thanksgiving. He'd not thrilled.  Me? YAY!!!!!

Will we get sick of the decorations? Probably not, because we spend our days in our offices. The Christmas stuff is upstairs, and on weekends, we'll be downstairs in our pub. (We do have a 2-food tree, but it's only got lights, not ornaments.)

How are you going to cope with the shortened Christmas season?

Happy Black Friday!

Of course, if you're in the Rochester area, I'm doing a book signing today.  You can find me at ...

Messiah Lutheran Church
4301 Mt. Read Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14616
(Corner of Mt. Read & English Road)

10 am to 4 pm

P.S. Can't make it?  I'll be signing at Greece Olympia High School on December 14. More info later.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spooked or what?

Why is it that when I type the word pumpkin, I almost always type pumpKING? (When I type the name Steve or Steven, I often type SteveR.) Go figure!

Today, I'm talking about pumpkins Halloween.

To be honest, I haven't been a fan of this holiday since I stopped trick-or-treating. It's just a little too macabre for me. Yeah, me who writes murder mysteries. (My neighbors decorate their entire yard with gravestones, skeletons, ghosts hanging from the trees, scary noises from a speaker, and a large blow-up hearse with horses.)

Apparently, Halloween is the second biggest "holiday" for decorating after Christmas. Since I started watching YouTube decorating videos, I have started collecting various items to celebrate the season (mostly at yard sales. Why buy new when you can keep the old stuff from ending up in a landfill when someone gets tired of it?). That said, my "decor" is mostly pumpkins, some faux leaves, and a yellow-and-orange leafy garland. I do have a sparkling hanging ghost and pumpkin, and a little sign that says "Boo" .... oh, and four little knitted white ghosts my sister-in-law sent us, but that's about as scary as it gets.

When it comes to scary, I'm really quite a chicken. I don't like horror movies, and blood and gore is a major turn off. But I can write some scary stuff, and I have written several spooky stories--and they're all from my Jeff Resnick series.


Jeff Resnick's curiosity is piqued when he sees a sign advertising psychic readings. At first he's sure the medium is a fake, but then his funny feelings lead him to suspect that a murder has taken place in the dilapidated house where Madam Zahara holds her readings. Just who died and how? And why is Jeff compelled to look for bodies buried in the medium’s yard? 

When I started writing it, I really had no idea where I was going to take the story, so hopefully the reader is as surprised by the tale as I was writing it. (I like when that happens. I write by the seat of my pants. If I knew what was going to happen, I'd get bored and probably wouldn't finish writing a story.)

Another spooky story is SPOOKED!

The trick-or-treaters have gone home and now it's time for the adults to celebrate All Hallows Eve. When Maggie suggests they consult an Ouija board, Jeff Resnick thinks it'll be anything but fun. And when they conjure up a ghost from Jeff's past, the game turns dangerous for the most vulnerable person in his life. (This short story directly follows Dark Waters.)

This story was written on the road. Literally. We were on our way to Florida for a writer's conference (I don't fly), and I knew I wanted to write about Halloween (because it was the week before that holiday), and Spooked is what came out. Mr. L drove, I wrote on my laptop. Success!

And then there my spooky Jeff Resnick novel, SHATTERED SPIRITS.

If it weren’t for bad luck, Jeff Resnick would have no luck at all!

While riding his new racing bike, Jeff is hit by an SUV, an accident which has a cascade effect on his life. He loses his job to a replacement, his girlfriend pressures him to move in, his bank accounts are hacked, and a restless spirit begs for his help—all in less than a week. But it’s soon apparent that his so-called random accident is anything but, and the murder of a close friend has a hobbled Jeff on the run. Can he discover who’s out to destroy his life—and threaten those he loves most?

So, if you're looking for a spooky read this week, try one of the above.

And if you're not into spooky, enjoy this faux floral arrangement! (The little sign says BOO.)

Happy Halloween!

How do you celebrate?

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?