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


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?

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.


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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Don't miss A Very Country Christmas

I'm absolutely thrilled for my friend and fellow member Karen Rose Smith. A movie of one of her books, A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, will be shown on Sunday. Watch the trailer first, and don't miss the movie on the UP network on Sunday night!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lotsa love on Teacup Tuesday

Well, not much more I can add except ... what would go well with that wonderful cup of tea? How about a nice slice of pumpkin bread (with walnuts).  What would you like with your nice cuppa tea?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Maybe I'm not cut out for the simple life

How big is your To Be Read pile? I buy a lot of books and sometimes it's years before I get to read them. I bought a book at Barnes & Noble a while back ... it must have been QUITE a while back, because I though, "Wow -- I've never seen this book before IN MY LIFE." But I must have, because I always put the price sticker on the back of the dust jacket flap. Because my job is writing fiction,  read a lot of non-fiction.

The book?  Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James.

There are a lot of good ideas in this little book. Things like pay off your mortgage. (Yeah, that's an easy one.) Get out of debt. (Another easy one.) Buy in bulk. Works great for families, not so good for two people--especially if you follow her suggestion to move to a smaller house. I don't have enough closet space now? Where would I put my stuff if I moved to a smaller house? She's got the answer for that, too ... get rid of all your stuff.

Get rid of my stuff? Are you crazy?

Mind you, my Mum was a bit of a pack rat, and I don't have nearly as much stuff as she accumulated. Still, I've got a lot of stuff. I like my stuff and I have tried parting with it. But then I get more stuff.

I have this problem "rescuing" stuff at yard sales. Lots of times I find homes for the stuff. (Like teacups, teapots, etc.) Other stuff...not so easy.  Earlier this summer, I posted on my Facebook Group (Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party) some little vintage cookbooklets I got at a yard sale; did readers think it was a good giveaway. YES!  So, every time I saw one at a yard sale, I bought it. We're in week three of the giveaway and it hasn't been as successful as I would have liked. (The contest is over for this week, but join the page and enter next week's drawing!)

Back to the book.

Another helpful hint: turn off the TV.  Too late. I did that back in 2003. Don't ask me if I've seen Game of Thrones, Outlander, or the Walking Dead. The last TV show I regularly watched was Fraiser. I do watch TV shows on Youtube. (well, I have it on; I'm usually doing other stuff). I think I saw about 40 gastric bypass surgeries over the summer watching Fat Doctor. (Fascinating stories.) I've seen just about every Gordon Ramsey show he's ever made (I like the Brit versions better), and watch a lot of tutorials. But network (and cable) TV. Nope.

Ms. St. James also suggests you get rid of your houseplants. WHAT? Just when my thumb has started to turn green? Listen, honey, if the plant still has life in it, I'm keeping it. Three of my late mother's violets are blooming right this minute and I can't tell you how much pleasure they give me. Nope. Not tossing them.

So, I guess the thing is that ... right now, I'm not ready to simplify my life.

How about you?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Time for a little comfort

It's that time of year ... Soup Time.

When the weather turns colder, is there anything more comforting than a nice, hot bowl of soup. (Don't answer right now) A few years ago, I made my very first turkey vegetable soup. It wasn't very good. But I made a huge vat so I had a LOT of servings, which I froze. Then I discovered that eating soup for lunch made it possible to lose a couple of pounds. Yes, soup is good food.

So I started making soup on a regular basis. I'd save the chicken carcasses and make chicken soup, but some of the bones on a chicken are really small and no matter how much I sieved it, and picked through the remains, a few little bones got through. Mr. L will NOT eat my chicken soup, so I quit saving the carcasses and, after a reader's suggestion, started buying turkey parts to make soup. Turkey's have much bigger bones, and seldom does one get through. (But Mr. L still won't eat my turkey soup. Go figure! Ah, well. More for me!)

I also make a lot of 16 (or 15--depending on the package) bean soup. Before the end of summer, I visit my favorite Mennonite grocery store and stock up on ham hocks. The ones in my regular store are not only overly smoked, but virtually have no meat on them. The ones from the Mennonite store are a little more money, but man--what a great bean soup they make. (I have 6 hocks in the freezer. That's about enough for 60 bowls of soup! Yum-Yum!)

The other day I made one of my favorite soups: Cabbage Soup. This soup has virtually NO calories, and there's a reason it's got a reputation as a weight-loss diet in and of itself. The thing is, it tastes pretty darn good, too.

Cabbage Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 quarts water  
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
½ head cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped Cabbage
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, drained and diced
4 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (optional)

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir in water, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in cabbage. Simmer until cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and the vinegar. Return to a boil, then simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring often.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Okay, now spill it. What's your favorite comfort food?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I may have a few too many cookbooks

I'm a fiction writer. And when I'm working on a book, I find it hard to read fiction so I rely on non-fiction or tried- and-true novels that I've read half a million times. (I can practically recite some of them.)

I love yard sales. During the summer, I go to them every week, and it's kind of rare that during those weekly forays that I don't buy a cookbook.  Only ... that can end up being a LOT of cookbooks. In fact, my office is literally littered with them. As I type this, there are 19 cookbooks surrounding my desk, but I've got more sitting in my porch. I've done through every one of them at least once and ALL of them have tabs sticking out of them to mark recipes I'd like to try.

I don't think there are enough days in the year for me to attempt making all these recipes. Betty Crocker's Best of Baking has 9 tabs sticking out of it. It's such a great comprehensive baking book (especially their section on making bread, which fascinates and terrifies me (I had a bad yeast experience with a homemade pizza some years back)), that I know that one's a keeper.

I have good intentions and I do sometimes give them away (Hi Amy and Pam!). I also collect vintage cookbooklets and this summer was a bumper year for them. Today I'm starting a giveaway on my Facebook group and it'll continue until their gone (although there may be a hiatus for the holidays).

Body Building Dishes for Children. Now there's a title. They're talking food, but I keep picturing little kids lifting weights.

I usually pick cookbooks that have beautiful photography (and those vintage cookbooklets don't come under that category. They were made in an age when food styling was in its infancy, and color photos were muddy and unappealing.

I'm going to have to part with some of these cookbooks. If my readers don't want them, then it'll be the library sale. But parting with them is going to be hard. I still have a pile of about 15 of my mothers cookbooks that I haven't gone through yet. (Although I did start to read one on bread and soup. I love to make soup, so that one might have to stay.)

I buy cookbooks on all topics. Here are a few of the titles

The Classic 1000 Vegetarian Recipes. If I didn't like pork and chicken so much, I would be a vegetarian. (If I had to kill animals to eat them, I would definitely be a vegetarian)./What a great comprehensive cookbook. (Another keeper.) It's a shame there are only used copies available because anyone who truly loves vegetables would love this book.

Treasury of Christmas. I'm a sucker for holiday books, and have at least 20+ of them that I drag out during November and December--just to get in the holiday spirit. I haven't decided if this is a keeper, but it's a very nice book.

Betty Crocker's NEW Good and Easy Cookbook is definitely not new, because the very week after I bought this edition, I found an even NEWER (like 20 years newer) edition. The new one is very nice and is pretty much up-to-date with beautiful photography and the kinds of recipes you see today, but there's a lot more charm in the old one. If I had to keep one of them, it would definitely be the one pictured above.

Great American Cooking Schools Omelettes & Souffles This is a charming little cookbook and I love omelettes, but souffles...not so much. I'm thinking it deserves a home where it will be cherished and used.

I must have at least 10 or more books on Hors d'Oeuvres & Appetizers. Do I really need another one, even if it is from Williams-Sonoma and have gorgeous photography?  Hmmm.

I could go on and on ...
Slow Cooker Recipe Collection
The Taste of Home New Potluck
Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2013
Christmas with Southern Living Cookbook Volume 2
Crazy About Cookies
Simple, Fresh & Healthy
Party Food ... and on and on and on ...

Those are just a few. Do any of these titles make you want to read them?

P.S. If you want to see what I got the entire summer, check out my Yard Sale Pinterest page!