Friday, March 29, 2019

Get your copy!

Out this week, the first Ghostly Fashionista Mystery, DESIGNS ON MURDER, by my Victoria Square co-author Gayle Leeson. I had the pleasure of reading the book to write the back cover blurb for this charming book. Here's a brief description...

Amanda Tucker is excited about opening her fashion design studio in Shops On Main, a charming old building in historic Abingdon, Virginia. She didn't realize a ghost came with the property! But soon Maxine "Max" Englebright, a young woman who died in 1930, isn't the only dead person at the retail complex. Mark Tinsley, a web designer with a know-it-all attitude who also rented space at Shops On Main, is shot in his office. Amanda is afraid that one of her new "friends" and fellow small business owners is his killer, and Max is encouraging her to solve Mark's murder a la Nancy Drew. Easy for Max to want to investigate--the ghostly fashionista can't end up the killer's next victim!

Order from:

Paperback:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Coming April 12th

Alone and suddenly single, Teagan Tate's visit to Martha’s Vineyard for a previously planned couples weekend leaves her feeling more of a third wheel.  And when the last ferry off the island is cancelled, she finds herself stranded in the middle of a nor’easter. Will the magic of Blythe Cove Manor and the kindness of two strangers help her find a new and happier life path?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Teacup Tuesday once again

There are lots of great places in Stoneham, NH to take tea. Of course, the nicest is The Brookview Inn, but you can grab a cuppa at Booked for Lunch, the Bookshelf Diner, and even at the local pub, The Dog-Eared Page.

What's in your cup today?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Not just to wash my hands

I like soap. When I was a little girl, my next-door neighbor used to bring back all the little cakes of soap from her business trips and vacations. I was fascinated by all the different wrappings.  I had an extra Barbie doll case where I stored all these wonderful little soaps. I also remember swiping a British Rail soap for my collection when I was ... cough cough ... we won't go into how long ago that was.

Anyway, I'm still fascinated by soap. I've even considered making it ... but I have so many other things on my plate, I'm leaving that to the experts.

I often buy sample sizes because I like the wrapping or the scent. I currently have enough soup to bathe most of Western NY. Part of that is because I have a big glass jar that sits on my bathroom vanity and is filled with Yardley Oatmeal and Almond soaps.  (The jar will hold at least ten bars.)  My mother told me that the old soap lasts longer than new soap.  Is that true? I don't know, but I rotate the soap when the jar is half empty and I stock up.

Right now I'm using a sample soap that's got olive oil in it.  Stacked up in waiting are soaps that smell like lilac, lemon, and goodness knows what. I stayed in a hotel in Ottawa once that had apricot-scented glycerine soap. Wow -- I liked that a lot. So for a year or two, I bought a bunch of glycerine soaps because they give you nice, soft skin. I bought this little square of black current & olive butter soap last summer and have hesitated to use it. It smells wonderful, but I just love the packaging and don't want to lose it.

I had a very nice soap I opened in January that had a nice scent, but I noticed that the more I used it, the less it lathered. So I googled "my soap doesn't lather" and found out that ... for a soap to work, it really doesn't need to lather all that much. Something about dirt and the surface tension ratio of soap to water. It sounded reasonable, but I chucked it because I like more lather than it was giving me.

And then there are those foaming soaps. My hairdresser gave me one for Christmas and I like the foam, but the Cherry Chill scent was overpowering for me.  I think it will live in my powder room. I like "bar" soaps best.

So, what's your favorite soap?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

Adding a little spice to my life

Some of you might remember that I love Indian food. I like spicy food (either Indian or Mexican), too.  But ... I'm not fond of Indian or Mexican restaurants.  A) Most Indian restaurants have a buffet. They food is good but ... not spicy (because many Americans seem pretty timid about spices) and B) Most buffets aren't hot.  Not talking spicy here, talking temperature.  It seems like there must be a shortage of sterno under the "warming" trays. And C) They don't have good bars. I don't want to pay $7 for a lousy martini.  (There, I said it.)

So ... the answer?

Make the food myself.  I've got a few Indian recipes that I make over and over again, but I've decided I want to do more. I'd like to make at least one new recipe a week. My only real problem is that I usually don't have the ingredients on hand, so this is going to take some planning. It's not so much the spices--I've got them and use them a lot, mostly for breakfasts and lunches (yup, I put curry powder in my omelets--garlic and cumin, too).  It's things like plain yogurt and coconut milk.

So, in my quest for new-to-me food (and I'm not adverse to eating more vegetarian, either), here's the first recipe I made. And since there are only two of us, it made a HUGE amount of leftovers.

Easy One-Pot Cauliflower Curry Recipe
1 medium cauliflower head cut into florets
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 cups white onions,  chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
4 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups diced tomato with the juice from the can
2 cups green peas — frozen or fresh (optional)
 ¾ cups coconut milk from the can — not carton coconut milk
cooked rise

In a large pot, add 2 cups of water and place a steamer in the bottom.
Bring the water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets in the steamer basket, cover the pot, and steam for about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the steamer basket (with the cauliflower) from the pot and let the cauliflower cool down for 5 minutes. Set aside. (Discard water.)

Return the pot  to the stove and add oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are tender (3 to 5 minutes) Add the cumin, coriander, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine everything. Add the tomatoes, green peas (if using) and stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower back to the pot. Cook everything together for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Serve over cooked rice.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

Truthfully, I upped the curry and garlic, and next time I make it, I'll put in some cayenne in for heat. I also opted not to add the peas, but I think I will next time (only I might only put in 1 cup).

And how was it?

Terrific.  And it made a LOT. (Guess what I'll be having for lunch for the next few days.)

What new recipe have you made for yourself and/or your family?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Wanna win a tote bag?

Would you like to win one of my tote bags and a goody bag filled with bookmarks, postcards, and stickers, too? Well, this is your opportunity!

I’m looking to add 200 readers to my newsletter mailing list before April 1st (no fooling)! But please, don’t enter if you plan to unsubscribe the first time I send out a newsletter. I’m looking to add those who actually read my books and/or want to find out what I’m doing in addition to my social media posts.

All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. But wait—there’s a catch. You HAVE to double-opt in. (That means you either get a pop-up to confirm your entry or an email you must click on.) Without that double opt in, your entry won’t count.

There will be TEN prizes, so you’ve got a good chance of winning.

Here’s the link:

This contest is for new sign-ups only.

Thanks for joining!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Our neighbors have DOGS!

About 14 months ago, new neighbors moved in.

They had dogs. Rather big dogs.


When I was five, I got bitten by a wire fox terrier who was just as big as me when he charged and knocked me down. Since then, I've been wary about "big" dogs.

I love dogs. Little dogs. My parents had scotches and Westies and they were pretty much sweet little dogs. Mac (the Scottie and their first) was our favorite, but their last dog, Jessie, was also a sweetheart, and in between was Buddy, who was a joy to walk. I would love to have a dog--preferably a small poodle mix. Supposedly, poodles don't smell when they get wet. But -- Mr. L isn't a dog person. He once was, but I converted him to being a cat person, and now he doesn't want to look back. *Sigh*

And so our neighbors have these largish dogs. We thought that might be a problem, but it turns out it hasn't. Their yard wasn't fenced when we moved in, and the chain-link fence we had wasn't up to code. Mind you, it was grandfathered in, but since the new neighbors also had children--one of whom was only three, we decided to upgrade our fence. Oooba-dooba -- that was a headache, and incredibly expensive. Even worse, they said they could do the fence in one day. They didn't. So there was our in-ground pool EXPOSED for more than 24 hours and there was a small child next door. (The dogs had been going out on leashes for their outdoor visits.) Finally the fence was in, but the gate was not. I'm a born worrier, so that was another headache. Finally, the gate and fence were finished. And a few weeks later, the neighbors finished off fencing their yard on both sides of the house.  Looks very nice.

That's when they started letting their dogs loose in the yard, and since then we have had hours of entertainment.

These are very quiet dogs. So when we hear them bark, we know they mean business.  Usually there's a squirrel (or some other animal) on the other side of the big fence at the back of their yard, which the previous owner put in as a wind break. When we hear them bark, we usually look out the window. Yup--one of them has barked to say, "We're cold! Let us in." Sure enough, a few seconds later, the back door opens and dogs go inside with their tales wagging incredibly fast.  Sometimes we see them wrestling in the snow. The other day, I was clearing the driveway and one of them (Lucy) came bounding up to the fence to warn me not to intrude on her territory. I told her, "Good dog!" She kind of blinked and said, "Oh, okay" and then ran back to play with her pack-mate.

Next time I get a chance to talk to the neighbors, I'm going to ask if it would be okay for me to give them dog biscuits. I'd like to make friends with them.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of one of our new kittens, Poppy. Isn't she adorable? (Um, for some reason she thinks she can help me write. She also likes to sit on my mouse which is uncomfortable for both of us.) It's okay if Mr. L has become a cat person. It really is.

Are you a dog or cat (or other animal) person?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It's National Oreo Day!

You can bet that there are Oreos in the cupboard in Tori's kitchen. Kathy, of course, will grudgingly eat one, but she's a cookie baker. There are 41 cookie recipes in The Best From Swans Nest

What's your favorite commercially made cookie and your favorite homemade cookie?

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Kathy's cookbook THE BEST OF SWANS NEST will be available on May 14th. Pre-order now!

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Kindle Worldwide


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