Monday, March 30, 2020

I call it attention to detail!

I must admit that since this whole social distancing began, I'm feeling just a tiny bit food obsessed. Twice last week we had "buffet" because we recently made two meals with lots of leftovers (cauliflower curry and corned beef and cabbage). I LOVE leftovers, so making a big batch doesn't bother me, but now that we're in lock-down mode, I decided I should try to figure out how long we can stay home without hitting the grocery store again. We have enough stuff for at least 36 dinners.

How do I know this?

I did an inventory and made a spreadsheet. I attached it to my fridge (with a Mary Engelbreit magnet) and now when we have a meal, we can cross off a line on the spreadsheet. (Last night it was one of 5 packages (of two) hot dogs.)

I must admit, I'm very anal and make a LOT of spreadsheets. They're just so handy to keep track of things. I keep track of my sales, my deductions for taxes, my website hits, etc. The problem is, I'm not good what figuring out what all that data is good for. Some people have analytical minds, I certainly do NOT.

I hope I can get through the entire month of April without hitting the store, but I know we won't want to start drinking our coffee and tea without milk. So far the store hasn't been too full because most people stocked up last week or the week before, but when they all start running out of stuff at the same time, it's going to be bedlam again. And maintaining a 6-foot bubble is hard to do in the grocery store even when you're doing your best. (Ever notice how some people just park in the middle of the aisle so that nobody can get past them.)

BTW, here's a video about sanitizing the food you bring in from the grocery store. Just click this link.

How long do you think you can hold out before you have to hit the grocery store again?

Friday, March 13, 2020

A time for looking back


Coming April 17th, A LOOK BACK, the 8th installment in the Life on Victoria Square companion series to the Victoria Square Mysteries.

Don't you love that cover?  Katie Bonner's hair reminds me of Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager. She's one tough lady, and so is Katie. But even tough women are vulnerable at some point.

On the anniversary of her great Aunt Lizzie’s death, Katie Bonner reflects on the course of events that led her to be the custodian of Artisan’s Alley--from the moment her husband took their savings and invested it in a dying business to the death of its founder, Ezra Hilton. And it’s with tears of sadness and joy that Katie contemplates her uncertain future.

This story takes place just before the events in the Victoria Square Mystery (#7) A Murderous Misconception but may be read as a stand-alone introduction to the series.

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

Watch the video on YouTube!



Monday, March 9, 2020

Where do you hang out on the web?

Recently on my Facebook Group (Lorraine's & Lorna's Perpetual Teaparty--feel free to join!), I asked my members (besides Facebook), what social media sites do they most frequent. I was surprised to find the answer was Goodreads.

Here are the stats:

Goodreads     136
Instagram        78
Pinterest           74
Bookbub           65
Twitter               26

I can't say I'm surprised about Twitter--I don't visit it often, but I must admit I was rather shocked by the number who went to Goodreads. Several readers said they used Goodreads to keep track of the books they've read and to find new books from reviews other leave. Sounds good from a reader's perspective.

The reason I don't visit Goodreads often, though, is because I've heard isn't not such a friendly place from an author's perspective. (That it's a little too easy to get trolled.) But, I'm there (under all three of my names) and I even got asked a question the other day. I knew they had that provision, but not many people have asked me a question from Goodreads before. (Anything anybody wants to know? Feel free to leave a comment below.)


How about Pinterest? I must admit I avoid it because it's addictive. Once I start scrolling all those wonderful pins, I can't stop. I need more. And to make it worse, they send me emails with links to the latest dog- and cat-shaming pictures, pictures of broken china jewelry, and Star Trek pix. (Which is a terrible tease, because I don't get CBS All Access and can't watch Picard!) As Gayle and I have a book coming out in May (Victoria Square #7, A Murderous Misconception), I started a new Pinterest board for it. Gayle is so funny. Because one of our characters is behaving badly, she thought we should add a Pizza Rat picture. Go take a look!)

So, what's your favorite social media site and why?

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Love those slow-cooker recipes!

I'm on a recipe roll.

Mr. L and I save the newspaper to read in the evenings. After a day at the computer, we just want to chill out with an adult beverage and the paper. We don't read our local paper (OMG--what a disaster), so every day Mr. L goes to the grocery store and picks up the Buffalo News.

The last thing I want to do after relaxing for an hour or so is get up and cook dinner. That's why I love my slow cooker. Toss everything in and six to eight hours later you've got your evening meal read to serve. And one-pot (or crock) meals are a breeze to clean up, too. (Okay, usually the crock soaks overnight and then it gets washed and put away in the morning.)

One of the easiest recipes I make is Slow Cooker Kielbasa and Beans. It literally couldn't be easier.

Ingredients
1 pound smoked turkey kielbasa, cut into coins
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
2 cans (16 ounces each) beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup chicken broth
Pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker and switch it to the "high" setting.  Give it a stir and cover. If using raw onions and peppers, let it cook for 5-6 hours. If using frozen onions and peppers, give them a quick thaw in the microwave. Heat on high for 2 to 3 hours. (Everything is pretty much already cooked, so you're really only heating it up.)

Yield:  6 servings

It doesn't matter what kind of beans you use. I've used just kidney beans, and I've switched it around using cannellini, garbanzo, black-eyed peas, great northern beans--anything I had in the cupboard--and it still turns out great.

Another great thing about this recipe: if you use turkey kielbasa, there's very little fat, it tastes great, and has very few calories.  Win-win!

Have you got any easy-peasy slow cooker recipes you'd like to share?


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Who says leftovers aren't good?


Happy Tuesday. On Sunday, I took out my handy-dandy paring knife and stabbed a 2 lb leg of lamb, filling the holes with garlic. OMG -- it was de-lish. But man, you wouldn't think it would grow overnight in the fridge.

So yesterday, I cut up what was left, divided it (froze half) and made lamb curry from a recipe I got off the Internet. OMG--it was just as good as (but different) than the dinner the night before.  Here's the recipe:

LAMB CURRY
READY IN: 30mins

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons butter
2 -3 cups cubed cooked lamb
1 onion
1 apple, peeled and cored
1 stalk celery
1 medium carrot
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons curry powder
1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup chicken stock
1 can chopped tomato
salt and pepper to taste

•  Using a food processor (if you have one), finely chop the onion, apple, celery and garlic.
•  Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the vegetables until softened but not browned.
•  Stir in the curry powder and thyme; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
•  Stir in the chicken stock and tomatoes; simmer for two minutes.
•  Season with salt and pepper; add more curry powder if desired.
•  For a smooth sauce, puree in the food processor and pour back into the skillet.
•  Add the lamb to the skillet; cover and simmer until the lamb is heated through, about 10 minutes, adding a little more stock if the sauce is too thick.

SERVES: 4

I'm going to use this recipe for roast chicken leftovers, and I'll bet it's just as good. I'm wondering if I could do this in the crock pot. (We shall see!)

We're having "buffet" tonight (which means leftovers) and it'll be a hard choice between the leftover beans and kielbasa, the curry, and quesadilla. I think we're going to have to have buffet for a couple of nights this week. I admit it, I make "big" recipes so that I don't have to cook all that often. I LOVE leftovers. Mr. L wouldn't even eat them when we got married. (You can change husbands, but not very much.)

What's your favorite leftover?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Coming May 8th -- New Victoria Square Mystery

COMING MAY 8th



Ya-hoo! Victoria Square #7, A Murderous Misconception is now available for pre-order.

Katie Bonner loses her lunch—literally—when her social media account serves up a shocking announcement. Her boyfriend Andy’s assistant manager, Erikka, is pregnant, and apparently with his child. And when Erikka turns up dead, the Sheriff turns up the heat on Katie and Andy, certain that one of them is to blame. But Erikka wasn't pregnant after all. Was Erikka's misconception the only way she could conceive of stealing Andy from Katie?

When Katie finds planted evidence, it’s her friend and former detective, Ray, who insists on concealing it. Is it his growing affection for her that causes him to act against his training and code of ethics, or could he be responsible for Erikka’s death? Katie is afraid to find out.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A great start for the day!


Croissants for breakfast? Heavenly!  But I prefer to have chicken salad on a croissant.

How do you like your croissants?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Love me a good SPUD



A few weeks ago, Mr. L and I tried a new-to-us restaurant for lunch. I ordered a Cuban sandwich on our first visit. It wasn't the best I'd tasted. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. Mr. L chose a brisket sandwich and he raved about it. He wanted to go back. Me? Not so much. But before we went last week, I went through the menu at least three times and could not find anything I wanted. The only thing that vaguely interested me was a loaded potato. I love baked potatoes and when I'm at home, I usually only have butter and a lot of fresh-ground black pepper. Because I'm trying to lose weight, I ordered it with the grilled chicken, but without the sour cream and cheese ... but that's mainly because I don't care for sour cream or cheese. (Okay, I'm a bit of a picky eater.)

It was GOOD. So good, that days later, I was still thinking about it. And last week, we went back for our third try. (Mr. L and I go out to lunch twice a week. Yeah, not really a good thing if you're trying to lose weight, but I'm down seven pounds with intermittent fasting, so...it could be worse.)

The bartender messed up my martini (ick--he made it dirty, dumping in olive juice), not a good omen but they replaced it right away. And when it was time to order, I had made up my mind that I would try the potato topped with pulled pork instead of grilled chicken. (Just to try it out, you understand.) But when it came my turn to order I found myself blurting "with prime rib."

Where did that come from?

It's been more than a year since I had prime rib. Besides ground beef in a burger, taco, or a burrito, I'm just not a fan of beef and if I eat it once a month, that's a lot. EXCEPT for prime rib. I really LOVE it, but it's so expensive, we only have it once a year, usually on my Mum's birthday--even though she's been gone for nearly five years. We used to invite her (and Dad) over for supper on her birthday and always served prime rib. (We always had lobster on Dad's birthday.)

OMG -- that loaded potato was even better then the one the week before. The beef was cooked to perfection, and though there wasn't a lot of it, it was the perfect amount and beautifully seasoned.

We're planning on going back this week and guess what I intend to order?

P.S. These pictures don't do it justice. I will have to take a photo the next time we go.

What do you like on your loaded spud?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

No one's talking

Mr. L and I go out on a date for lunch at least once a week and the one thing we notice EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. is that most who go out to eat are seated and immediately whip out their phones. Sometimes they only put the phone down between bites. Last week, we went out to eat and the man and woman (who were older than me) sat down and the man immediately whipped out his phone. I could see them through their entire meal. He was on his phone for nearly the whole time they were there. The only conversation during that 45-minute span was when they were ordering. Otherwise, the woman sat there looking around and not speaking...BECAUSE HER HUSBAND WAS ON THE PHONE.

I expect that kind of behavior from younger people, so it was surprising to see it from an older gentleman.

More than 20 years ago, one of my friends confided to us that she told her husband, "I'm not going out if there will be no conversation between us." He didn't have a phone to whip out, but he was reluctant to speak to her when out. So, they stayed home.

I don't get it.  Mr. L and I have been together for (mumble, mumble) years. In all those years, we have NEVER run out of conversation. We both work from home. We talk all day long (albeit sometimes shouting between our offices--which are connected), but we have never run out of things to say to each other.

I feel sorry for these people. If you have nothing to say to each other--why are you still together?  Go find someone (friend, family member--whatever) to talk to.

What's your opinion on this?

Monday, January 20, 2020

I'm Rocking the Cat

My cat, Poppy, is a rambunctious little girl. Her favorite thing to do is to "flip and flop." She loves to roll around on the rug looking as cute as a button.



Unfortunately, she likes to flip and flop on my lap, too, and it never ends well. But I've finally found a trick to keep that wiggle-worm still. I rock her--like a baby. When I'm at the computer and she jumps onto my lap, I scoop her into my arms and we sit and have a cuddle.  This has turned our mom-and-girl time into a much more pleasant experience for both of us. (When I'm sitting on the couch, Poppy likes me to have an afghan on my lap. She'll liable to sit with me more often when I've got an afghan.)

As it turns out, Poppy likes to watch YouTube videos almost as much as I do. Just this week we've watched episodes of Restaurant Impossible and What's for Tea? (Love What's for Tea? It's about Scottish woman, named Sheryl, who cooks dinner (sharing the recipes) often in a crock pot, or a grocery store haul, and she ends her videos with beautiful shots of Scotland. (I love her!) This is the kind of food I grew up with. (My mother wasn't Scottish, but my Dad was half Scot.) This is the kind of food I want to make.  (Poppy is content with 9 Lives.)

But Poppy isn't just a mama's girl. Lately, she's developed an independent streak. Instead of spending all her time with us in our offices, she's been snoozing on the couch or behind the living room drape. Go figure. But our times together are much more calm (with a lot less biting) than they used to be just because I finally figured out what she needed as opposed to what she wants.

Does your pet require you to adapt to its needs?


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Drink milk on National Milk Day


I like milk. I like whole milk (which tastes like melted ice cream to me--and I rarely have it), 2% milk, and even skim (now called fat-free) milk. Not such a fan of chocolate milk, but I like hot chocolate (made with milk).

I don't like pseudo milk. (Think almond, oatmeal, etc.)
Are you a milk fan?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Download to your heart's content!

What do these books have in common?


Well, besides the fact they were all written by me (blush), they're on sale for 50% off from Smashwords! No coupon codes, no nothing. All you have to do is put the book(s) you want into your cart, and they are automatically discounted 50% off.

Just click on these links and you'll get a list of my books that are available on the Smashwords site.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=l.l.+bartlett

and

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=lorraine+bartlett

This sale goes through until January 1st, so hurry to take advantage of this great savings!





P.S. My novella, Off Script, is 75% off!  (Such a deal)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

It's Christmas Eve


Happy Christmas Eve!

The Brookview Inn is beautifully decorated for the season and will be booked solid tonight--and tomorrow, the dining room will host a lovely holiday brunch.

Have you ever spent Christmas away from home?

Friday, December 20, 2019

Would you wear this sweater?


Today is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

Do you have a holiday sweater? I have one--but I didn't buy it. After my mother passed, I acquired hers. It's H-E-A-V-Y and so far I haven't worn it, but I'm planning on wearing it tomorrow when Mr. L takes me out to lunch to celebrate the season.

Can you imagine my character, Tricia, wearing one?  I honestly can't. I can, however, see Angelica wearing one. I think her granddaughter, Sofia, would love it. And I can see her buying them the same sweater.

Do you have an ugly Christmas sweater?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

National Hard Candy Day


Are you a hard candy fan? I like hard candy. Sometimes I'm in the mood for peppermints and sometimes for butterscotch.

What hard candy do you prefer?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Not what I needed to find


Yup, it's flat as a pancake.

Yesterday, I went out to the garage to get the car and run an errand and noticed that my bumper was a lot lower than Mr. L's car. (We we have the same cars.) Uh-oh! A flat. In all the years I've been driving, this is only my second flat tire.

Unfortunately, after Mr. L called AAA, the towing company got an emergency call from the cops, so we had to wait over two and a half hours. By the time the car got to Goodyear, they had finished work for the day (they're short-staffed) so Angelica (that's my car's name) had to stay overnight. Hopefully it was just a nail. That's covered by AAA. If the tire needs to be replaced (It's in good shape, so I hope not), then it's on me. So, I need to wait until later this morning to run my errands (hopefully, the last of my holiday shopping).

Has anything kept you from getting stuff done during this chaotic month?

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!



COMING 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?


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