Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Teacup Tuesday: Every Cup Tells A Story

Pink Teacup Tuesday

Oops!  Missed a week.  There's lots going on while I gear up for a BIG new project, finish up Booktown #9, and start a brand new series, while working on other shorter projects.  Whew!  I'm pooped!  But never too pooped for teatime!

On of my favorite albums is called EVERY SONG TELLS A STORY by Randy Bachman (he of Guess Who and Bachman, Turner, Overdrive fame). He performs all his hits, but tells a story about how the song came to be written. I love it.  I never tire of hearing the stories.  Likewise, all my teacups have a story.


 Isn't this ivy cup a beauty? I'm very fond of ivy ... but not growing in my yard. The former owners decided to use ivy as a ground cover around the inground pool. It not only spread around the pool, but took hold in the front yard--taking up a gigantic area near the garage. But it also turns out that ivy is a great place for mice to live.  Eradicating the ivy has been a challenge, especially since it has taken over a portion of our neighbor's yard. They seem content to leave it there, while we constantly rip it out--and it just keeps creeping back. So, now instead of the mice living in our yard, they live next door and visit. We've been able to keep them out of the house, but they're still out there (quite a few of them drown in the pool every summer.  And you know it isn't going to be me emptying those skimmers).


This lovey cup is the big brother to one my mother gave me (same pattern, just half size). If I'm not mistaken (and believe me, she will correct me if I'm wrong), my mother received her cup from a woman who taught her to hook rugs. "Marge" has been gone many years now, but when I pass her house, I always think of that little teacup. When I saw this one at a yard sale, I knew it needed to keep the other cup company.


Another of my yard-sale finds. I almost didn't buy it because there's a hairline crack in the cup, but during the past few years I feel kinship to the cup. Nobody's perfect, why should a teacup be perfect too?  Its perfection lies in the pattern and the graceful handle. I think it's perfectly fine.

Have you got a story to share about a teacup?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pet Peeve Thursday: That Devil Facebook

Evil-facebook-dangerI'd long ago run out of things to rant about, but the more I deal with Facebook, the more I dislike that evil empire.

Facebook started out as a great place for people to hang out and to connect. And it was free.

Then it went public. Already the beginning of the end was in sight, but the end has been creeping closer and closer ever since.
Several years ago, Facebook (and my publisher) began pushing people with profile pages to change up to a LIKE page.  (Once called FAN pages.)  You could merge all your friends from your profile page into a like page and were promised FAR BETTER coverage.  More people would see it. (That was the fantasy at least.  Many authors often LOST all their profile friends, and the process isn't much better several years down the line.)

A lot of authors fell for that and soon found that there were a lot of tradeoffs in having a like page.  Your fans/friends could post, but those posts would be relegated to a sidebar where people HAVE to go to look at them. No more face-to-face communication.

Pay to playAnd then Facebook came to promo Like pages. That is, pay for a $5 ad and MORE people will see your page. Only now it's turned out PAY US TO PROMOTE OR WE'LL RESTRICT those who liked your page from seeing you.

Since January, I've started two new pages and have been intensely posting to see how I could get around that "pay-for-promo" (only  the suggested payment per post is now THIRTY DOLLARS!!!).  The thing is, who can afford that?  Even big companies like General Motors have pulled back and stopped advertising on Facebook because they saw NO VALUE.

If I post a link on a page where I have more than 3000 Likes, I might get 500 views.  On a page where I have 1200 likes, if I don't post a link, I might get 50+ views.  Post a link and I'll get 20 or less views.  They actually PUNISH you by posting a link to a blog, website, or anything that takes a Facebook member OFF the site.  (Even when you post a link to another FB site, they still limit the views from people who already made the effort to like your page.)

So what am I going to do?

I'm not totoally giving up on FB. I do like to know what my friends are up to, but to see their posts, I have to go to their actual pages. How many of my readers will think to go to an author's page on a regular basis?  I'm thinking not many. What can you do to keep seeing my posts (and those of the other LIKE pages you've favored)?

Facebook hide and seek

Rant over. You may now return to your daily grind. But if you want to know what your favorite authors, TV personalties, and musicians are up to, I hope you'll think about visiting their Like pages.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teacup Tuesday: What we'd wear to tea!

Pink Teacup Tuesday

Lately we've talked about tea--what kinds you like to drink. Where you like to drink it and with whom. What you'd like to wear when having tea.  Here are some of those comments.
From Beth H. in Dallas, Tx:  "I'd definitely wear my tea dress with the pansies on it. It's not exactly vintage like Pixie's but it looks like it. I made it years ago by a 'vintage' pattern.

Chintz no 1

Debbie S. from La Vergne, TN said, "Since I've never been to a tea I would want to do it right. I think that I would go shop and find a dress similar to the one that was pictured (since what I have in my closet right now would not work). Gloves might be fun, I would love a hat but they don't always love me, LOL."

Margaret M from Melbourne, FL said:  "I'd wear something gauzy, filmy probably in every and off the shoulder, topped off with a pert little straw hat."

Gold polka dots
Lisa M. from Centerville, GA said:  "If I were ever invited to an afternoon tea, I believe I would wear something that Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn would wear...classic dress with a nice hat. I know this would be a special day that I would always remember."

Mary P. from Toowoomba, Australia said:  "When I was a child & visiting my Grandfather & Aunt we would be there for afternoon tea. My Aunt would wear long flowing tea dresses, long strands of beads & have bare feet. She was certainly a free spirit. I can totally picture myself wearing the same."

Gray leaves

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NEXT TIME:  Let's talk about opening a virtual tea shop. What should it be named?  How do you think it should be decorated? Hardwood floors or rugs? Retro, vintage, or elegant?  What about the china? (Feel free to suggest a pattern!). (Next time, we'll talk about what to serve!)  Leave your answers in the comments section.

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Latte da-sm
And the winner of the Bonyard tea sample from Latteda.com is Barbara T. from Moreno Valley, CA.  We'll choose another one next week from the comments.  (P.S. We'd love to hear how the previous winners have enjoyed their tea sample!)

Friday, April 11, 2014

FOODIE FRIDAY: The story behind the recipe

Hot_Dawg-smallBecause I'm basically lazy, I'm updating the recipes on my Lorna Barrett website at a rate of once a week.  Maybe people will keep showing up to get the next one, maybe they won't.  (I'm not seeing a huge influx of hits, so it's undoubtedly the latter.)

Spaghetti sauce SmallIn MURDER IS BINDING, Angelica makes homemade meat sauce.  Well, there's always a little bit of me (okay, sometimes a LOT of me) in my books, and there's always a story behind every favorite recipe.

When I was growing up, my mother made sauce from scratch. So, the first time I invited my boyfriend over and made him a home cooked meal, I decided to make my sauce from scratch, too. We always had spareribs, meatballs, and sausage in the sauce we ate growing up.  I never cared for the pasta--just the sauce (and LOTS of Italian bread plastered with butter).

I decided to impress this boyfriend (now known as Mr. L) by making homemade lasagna WITH my mother's homemade sauce. I spent the ENTIRE DAY in the kitchen.  The house smelled HEAVENLY. (Formerly) Mr. S showed up, and when I brought out this GIGANTIC lasagna, he ate ONE TINY PIECE. I offered to send a big chunk of it home with him (hey, he had three teenagers at home) and he said, "No, thank you."

Let me tell you, Mr. S lost a helluva lot of points that night. In retrospect, he says he was a fool to turn down the leftovers, but his excuse was he didn't want to look grabby. My mother, father, and I ate that lasagna for a week. (Damn fine it was, too.)

Anyway, long story short(er), the recipe this week is my mom's homemade sauce. You're going to love it.
Want your own Foodie Friday mug?  Get one here!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tea for two ... dogs and more!

By guest blogger Mary Jane Maffini

Winter is hanging around into April, longer and more unpredictable than usual. That means there are still days when it seems like I have a death grip on the steering wheel for hours because of icy roads and rough conditions.  Plus, we seem to have Olympic size potholes on our street. Simple errands cause my back muscles to knot. That’s when it’s great to come home to the words, “I put the tea on.”

I think this is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for a person.

Plants_mo_te_027 Plants_mo_te_026

Of course, as the dogs can’t be counted on to do that, it can only be the Little Mister. I truly appreciate this when it happens. It’s such a lovely thought and it’s a great way to unwind and share a little break together. I’m hoping to get him trained to set things up like this.

However, he’s a mug kind of guy. What can I say?  Sometimes a mug is just what the doctor ordered.  I know we all love (and I mean LOVE) teacups here on Teacup Tuesday, but tell the truth, do you sometimes take great pleasure in a very large mug of hot tea?  Especially if it’s in front of the fireplace and there’s a dog or two to snuggle up with.

So tell me, does a cup or mug of tea make your day? Would you prefer to substitute cats for dogs?  We make our own rules here – let’s hear yours.


Christie CurseThe very versatile Mary Jane Maffini writes a number of mystery series (The Camilla McFee, Fiona Silk, and Charlotte Adams Mysteries) and is also part of the mother-daughter mystery writing team of Victoria Abbott with the Book Collector Mysteries.  The first in that series is The Christie Curse.


The winner of the Tea for One is Beth H. from Dallas, TX.
Tea for one1
Latte da-sm
The winner of the Boneyard Tea sample from Latteda.com is Lisa M from Centerville, GA.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Foodie Friday: Homemade 16 bean soup

Hot_Dawg-smallAs I've mentioned before, I'm trying to eat more "scratch" food, and one of my favorite foods is soup. I've been making 16 Bean Soup for a few years now, and I love it.  Here's the basic recipe (from the back of the Goya bean package):

6 cups water
1 lb. Goya 16 Bean Soup Mix
1 medium onion, chopped
 2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 packet Goya Ham Concentrate
1 bay leaf
 salt and pepper to taste

Soak and drain beans. In a large saucepan, combine beans and remaining ingredients with 6 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender. The package says serves 8-10, but I usually get about 11 one cup servings out of it.

Number of Servings: 11

Blackbean soup in cockpot-medOf course, I have to do things differently. Who has time to stand over the stove to make sure the soup doesn't burn? I make mine in my crock pot (on high) and cook it for between 6-8 hours. Instead of the ham concentrate, I use smoked ham hocks or--even better--the ham bone after our Easter feast.  (That's the best!)

Of course, it does tend to resemble sludge when some of the beans break down, but I've found cutting it with chicken or vegetable broth not only stretches the soup, but makes it more palatable.

(This picture was taken just after I tossed everything in to cook.)

What's on your menu this week?

And the winner of the Foodie Friday mug is Melissa S. from Amsterdam, NY!

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Foodie friday MUG-smWant your own Foodie Friday mug?  You can get one here!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Audio Bonanza!

Half shelf_SL300_Wow--it was terrific to hear that the Booktown Mysteries were going to continue on audio.  Yesterday Murder on the Half Shelf was released.  What I like best about this new contract is that they're not only selling them as MP3 downloads (did you know you can listen to them on your Kindle?), but also as CDs.

I have to admit, while I do have a couple of MP3 players, I've never downloaded a book to either of them. I still prefer to listen to a CD and maybe that's because I used to listen to a LOT of loud music with earphones, and now I want to protect my hearing as much as possible. (I rarely listen to my MP3 player with earbuds.  I have tiny speakers that sound surprisingly good.  Great for when you travel.)

I hope many libraries will buy the new edition and that a lot of people will get enjoyment out of the rest of the series. (Sadly, there are no plans to put the first five books on CD.)
It's available from:

Audible | Amazon | iTunes| and discounted from the publisher, Tantor Media

KillingType_LgNext Up:  Not The Killing Type.  It'll be released on April 14th. They did a nice job with the cover.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

DIY -- Don't I wish!

My name is Lorraine, and I'm a Rehab Addict. Honest, an HGTV (or DIY Network) Rehab Addict.  I don't have HGTV but discovered it several years back while on vacation. (The truth is, I only watch one network show: CBS Sunday Morning. My basic cable is exactly that:  NBC, CBS, ABC and the Weather Channel.) But my guilty secret is DVR ... my Mom has it and she's my enabler.

Bookplate SpecialMy most recent guilty pleasure is Rehab Addict.  Nicole Curtis is a home flipper, but not like you think. She old takes (often condemned) homes and brings them back to their former glory. 

That really appeals to me. My Dad was a recycler, and he made useless things into useful things. He made furniture out of old wood pallets (the pallets were poplar). He would find broken stuff and fix it. He truly was a Jack of all trades. One of his first jobs when he came to this country was framing houses. He could do plumbing, roofing,  window glazing.  EVERYTHING. Sadly, I didn't inherit that gene. I love to watch Rehab Addict because Nicole does what I would LOVE to do--take things that are broken and ugly and transform them into useful things of beauty.

If you don't have HGTV, you can get your Rehab Addict fix online by watching the entire episodes, or snippets on just the subject you're interested in; like recycling lumber and other scraps, fixing broken original windows, recycling vintage cabinets, refinishing old and scruffy furniture.  Lots of fun.

Were you graced with a DIY gene?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Teacup Tuesday: Cups, dresses, tea and so much more!

As you know, I am crazy mad for bone china teacups -- so much so that I "rescue" them and try to find new, loving homes for them. That's what Teacup Tuesday is all about.  I regift what was probably a gift from someone else and the happy cycle continues. The cups are once-again admired, appreciated, and hopefully used and enjoyed.

But here's a problem I've run into more than once ... people enter my contests and don't always give me complete information.  Several weeks ago, Sharon S. won the bone china mug.  YAY!

Rose mug

However, Sharon never signed up for my newsletter so I don't have any information on her, just her email address from when she entered the contest. I've contacted her via email twice, and left messages on Facebook for her to no avail. Sharon's loss will be someone else's gain, and that someone else is Cindy H. from Council Bluffs, IA.

LattedaMeanwhile, this weeks winner of the free sample of Boneyard tea (doesn't that sound mysterious?) from Latteda.com is Toni N. from Carol Stream, Il.


I've had a lot of fun with my character Pixie Poe in the Booktown Mysteries.  As it happens, there's a scene in Book Clubbed (that will be debut in July) where Angelica holds a tea party at Haven't Got a Clue ... and Pixie and Mr. Everett can only stand there and watch the festivities with mouths watering. If you've read the latest Booktown Books, you know that Pixie only dresses in vintage clothes. If she went to a tea party, she'd wear something stunning like this dress.

50s dress
Which leads me to this week's discussion topic:  What would you wear to afternoon tea? 

Floral cupTo enter, you need to answer the question and supply your SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS. (When you enter the contest, you agree to be added to my mailing list (if you aren't already there).  Send your entry to Lorna @ LornaBarrett.com (close up those spaces).

By the way, I'd love to hear from past winners.  Are you enjoying your cups?  Did you enjoy your Boneyard tea?  Email me and share your stories on Teacup Tuesday!
Be sure to drop by next week when my good friend Mary Jane Maffini (who also writes with her daughter as Victoria Abbott) joins us to tell us about her teacup collection!  We'll announce the winner of the floral teacup on April 15th (since it's tax day, it may make someone's day!).